5410/We Didn't Start The Fire

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We Didn't Start The Fire
Date of Scene: 02 March 2021
Location: Bronx
Synopsis: Mill Brook Houses are open for development after magma kraken visits.
Cast of Characters: Meggan Puceanu, Julio Richter, Bobby Drake, Jacqueline Falsworth, Hellboy

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Night in the Bronx can be many things. Beautiful and full of hidden promise or an endless slog up the freeway exit by exit during rush hour usually both fit the bill. Not here, not now.

Few residents brave the streets. Those who do make a hasty exit from their car for the relative shelter of the towering brick projects, absent of character or warmth. A scuffle outside a nearly nameless bar turns into a war of bloody words and split knuckles. Derelict cars and forgotten businesses sag beneath trash and grey snow thrown around in the rising winds that mournfully wail their keening lamentations around streets forgotten by the glitterati in Manhattan. By a spring sun weeks away.

Something simply feels off, a deep, lumbering awareness from days when men lit their torches or prayed around the smoldering embers to keep them warm through the night. When hollow-eyed watchers turned faces to the forest or mountains through a wooden palisade, and hoped their gods would hold firm.

The projects are not a place to linger for two men bound for another, better place with a heavy weight in their pocket. Strangers aren't welcome in Mill Brook Houses, and find reason to hurry on. Every block away from the Houses is easier on their minds for different reasons.

The air carries an electric frisson. Alleys linger in shrouded rot and hunger. Dark things lurk there, ever hungry, and even those tiny spirits flee. The first moaning warble of glass and cheap metal cladding flexed under the shifting atmospheric pop may be forgotten, notes in a swelling urban symphony. But when the great crack registers, anyone in three kilometers with an ounce of sensitivity won't be able to miss it.

It smells of smoke.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio is too full of the hellish energies of the space between realities, and too deadened by ongoing cosmic threat, and honestly just too damned //tired// to worry too much about blatant displays of mutant power or general weirdness: the insatiable, creation-devouring coin spins on a wire of geokinetic power in the air in front of him, or rides on the fridge door they drag behind them, he in his parka, jeans, and boots, and Bobby in his glistening ice form and snow briefs. It's normally the kind of attention-getting display he'd abhor in this neighborhood, but at the moment he just wants to get out, and fast.

He's moving crosstown, following the mystical tug of New York's network of ley lines, trying to lead the pair of them to a relatively nearby tributary where he can hitch a ride on that alternative to the MTA. He makes the turn up an alleyway that, to the uninitiated, looks like any other, just as that deafening crack sounds.

"Mierda," he hisses. "Not again."

Bobby Drake has posed:
He's walking around in sparkly briefs- so what else is new? Bobby tells himself that he is wearing about as much as Hank sometimes wears, and it is perfectly ordinary in certain circumstances and milieuxs. That their current situation doesn't exactly match any of them is something he conveniently sets aside. He, too, is tired, but it is that sort of exhaustion that comes from an emotionally harrowing moment- playing Indiana Julio And The Kingdom Of The Ice Crystal Skulls had been unnerving, especially because of the presence of that wild thing which was magic that made him so uneasy.

Well, not always. Where it pertained to Julio, he found that the notion fascinated him. He had slept several nights already under that impromptu canopy that Julio had left in is room without feeling very much perturbed. Outside of the lingering questions of whether the bed was alive now, how long would it remain so, whether he had to water it, and if he should keep an eye out for incursions of cookie-baking elves (Kurt did not fit under this qualifier, rumor had it that his baking skills were weaponizable,) he found the experience growing more familiar and comfortable.

Something their recent experience had decidedly not been. Following Julio's directions, Bobby is deep in his thoughts when the crack resounds, and he stops dead in his tracks. As Julio swears, Bobby frowns. He points in the direction that the sound came from, even though it really wasn't necessary. But he does ask the most pertinent question, since it is evident that they /had/ to go where the sound came from.

"What do we do with the coin?"

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
The smell of smoke pulls Jacqueline, though it's more of a metaphysical thing and somewhat out of her normal skill set to detect. But, hell. She's got a Jesuit riding shotgun in her head. He might not have the senses for it, either. But between the two of them, they're so wrapped up in the sources of this occult weirdness it can't help but pull them... natural proclivity or not.

An amber streak of fire stretches out over the streets of New York, across one of the bridges over the East River and up into the Bronx.

That she ends up at hte mouth of an alley is purely due to unfamiliar instinct and little more. Her dark eyes glitter in the darkness as she looks down its length, assessing.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
A yellow-and-brown dog goes streaking away down the street, ears flat. It takes to the cold asphalt at speed and bisects the path Julio and Bobby take. Big old structures overshadow the cur, hulking like orange-eyed prize fighters hunkered down in the dark.

At some point, a small spiral of smoke appears on the north side of the Mill Brook Houses, the third brick block jutting into the sky. This development might not be especially disconcerting since the residents frequently barbecue and use small gas-fed campstoves when the derelict ones in their dingy apartments finally give up the ghost. A pot lid descends on the long fall to the ground. Tossing a few flaming relics of dinner outside isn't unknown.

Open windows draft circular flames, feeding the bursts fed on cooking oil and electrical wires. Sooty curtains catch those frigid gusts, ripped from a bowed bar. Papers and a chair jettisoned by chance go tumbling end over end to rain down on a parked beater truck on its last axle. The dowel smashes through the rusting metal bed a couple meters from Jacqueline, making an unearthly racket.

Just signs of a forgotten life. Until the windows buckling and throbbing shatter in a blazing twister. The howl of the flames isn't much audible that high in the air. Burning debris cascades down as the lights begin to flicker in blocks 3, 4, and 5. Then they go out, citrine eyes shut, the glassy rainfall molten and serrated-edged at once.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio grimaces. "No se," he answers Bobby, sounding a little bit panicked as he searches for a place to drop the coin. Then he has //kind of// an idea: he runs to the nearest patch of exposed earth, finds a rock, and stamps on it, emitting a burst of destructive vibration that cracks it into several pieces. He levitates these around the coin, then smashes them all together. With a forceful compressing motion, he crushes them back into a whole stone the best he can. "Keep away," he explains, naming the game rather than issuing an order.

As he rejoins Bobby, Jacqueline appears in her inimitable fashion at the alley mouth. "Hola! Spitfire!" he calls out, nudging Bobby and explaining: "A friend." He jogs to meet her, in a fashion that is surely unbearably slow by her standards, and says, "Found another coin. Worst one yet." He hefts the cobbled stone and tips his head toward Bobby, who is fully Iceman and wearing nothing that wasn't spun out of ambient humidity and a general rejection of Edenic principles. "Stripped him in an instant. He has options, though. I guess it's too much to hope that these two things aren't related?"

Bobby Drake has posed:
"Hey. Any friend of Julio's..." Bobby says by way of geeting. He is, admittedly, very under-dressed for the occasion, but Professor Xavier did not give up the opportunity to become a lifelong investor in Scalp Care for Men in order to found a school, just so that his pupils would take a rain check due to a wardrobe malfunction.

"The way this night has gone, Julio, I'd have to say that the probabilities of this being an unrelated incident aren't very high."

Glancing at the rising smoke, "Not a lot of time, either. Let's zone in, I want a close look. I'd offer a ride to both of you but it's only really safe with one other passenger... we'll meet you there, Spitfire."

Drake's ice platforms appear under his feet. He glances at Julio and nods, "Hang on." They had done this before, so Bobby has no need to tell Julio what to do. As soon as the geomancer's feet are stable and his hands have the appropriate hold, Bobby speeds ahead, gliding over the ice with the grace and poise of an experienced skater. He doesn't go as fast as he can go, only as fast as he can without cannonballing Julio into a building on a sharp curve.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Jacqueline recoils as the curtain rod hits the truckbed beside her. But as she sees Julio and his icy friend, she gives a wry smile. "Impossible, I'd say." Her British accent is sharp and clear. "I doubt either of us would be here, otherwise." Drawn as they were.

She looks up. "There are people in there," she notes. "I do not think we have much time for niceties. Is the coin going to present us with a greater obstacle here or an advantage? I believe I can clear the building in short order, but it will be easier if you can slow the flames and shore up the structure."

Even if the coin isn't an advantage (and she doubts it is), an Earth mage (so to speak) and an Ice mutant certainly are.

She nods as Iceman suggests they really need to get moving. And then she smiles. As long as there's no ice under her feet, they will meet her there -- long moments after she's already begun her work... searching for tenants to save.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Bits of rock and dust squashed around the unremarkable, tarnished silver coin effectively vanish all trace of its presence. Only the entropic field adding to the white noise in Julio's mind continues to be a problem, though Jacqueline's passenger politely flinches within the gossamer veils of her thoughts. Brother Theodore Faneuil recoils as deep as he possibly can get, and it's still not good enough.

<<That abomination can only do harm here,>> he warns her of the coin.

Dark lights in the projects mean a few things. A power cut, not improbable, brown-outs being a reality. Visible from a few blocks away where the group gathers, the growing plumes of smoke take on distinct tendrils and columns that merge into a billowing cloud awfully quickly. Several residents appear in front of their windows with cellphone flashlights twinkling light stars. The battered old firedoor and front doors are kicked open, letting out the few loiterers spending their lonely evening hours in the foyer or on the steps.

The last to leave gets a few steps before the winter winds start shrieking, no longer wrapped up in that cramped torus. Gale force winds scatter shards of broken glass into the neighbouring buildings, carrying embers and burning bits to land on the roof, the ground, and roads all around. Flurries form from nothing with the dissipating cold blown away, knocking Julio and Bobby about hard. Spitfire's got speed on her side, which no doubt helps.

What probably does not help when serpentine tendrils of fire erupt from the eleventh and twelfth floors. Daughter fires smash the thirteenth, fed into a blazing twister that turns a gaping, vast maw on the brick and metal cladding around it. Those? Those are teeth. And those are hook-laced appendages, and that is a giant magma kraken of nightmarish size.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio gives a wry half-frown at Jac's estimation of the chances of coincidence. "I don't think it'll help, but I don't trust it out of my sight," he answers her question succinctly, tucking the stone football under one arm protectively. Then she zips away in less time than it takes to think, and he huffs out a short breath and runs over to Bobby. At least he won't have an audience as he compromises his dignity, tucking in behind Iceman and wrapping both arms around his waist, with the coin rock held between his hands like the buckle of a seat belt.

"You should be wearing more than snow for this," he grumbles. But he leaves absolutely no room for the Holy Spirit between them; frankly, that would just be inviting the ghost's buzzkill cousin, gravity, to crash the party.

As they skid wildly through the cityscape, Julio mostly just hangs on for dear life. He knows to trust Bobby when he does this bit, because he sure as hell doesn't have the head for it. But as they come in closer to the blaze and it takes on a distinctly living appearance, Bobby will hear a deep growl from behind him. "Hijo de puta, I //knew// it," Julio snaps. "Not one of these pinche things again."

Bobby Drake has posed:
"That's the first time those words have left your lips," Bobby says to Julio's comment about his wardrobe. An attempt to lighten the mood, and the brief moment of time where the Holy Spirit is kicked to the curb have the remarkable ability to leave Robert Drake silent. At one moment during their trek, Bobby's hand briefly rests on Julio's hands- to secure him, is the excuse. Of course, that excuse becomes absolutely necessary as the full force of winter is released and buffets them so. Only Bobby's expert handling keeps them from tumbling off the platform and onto the sidewalk or another building, and when they finally touch down Iceman lets go of Julio's hand to jog up to the building and... stares.

"Are we fighting a Balrog?" he says, and looks at Julio, all seriousness, "We need to help people and get this ... thing under control. Give me some quick intel on this, since you've got the expertise- best way to tackle? I'm thinking massive flurry and smothering with Earth, but you're the Gandalf here."

He suddenly corrects himself, because of the implications of what he had said earlier about the Balrog "You're not the Gandalf. You're the Radagast."

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
So, it doesn't take a rocket scentist to know that the thing they're facing is a demon. And in the midst of that wintry storm that isn't Bobby Drake's doing, it's even easier to surmise it's all the fault of that damned Aztec snow god. "I hate divinities," the British speedster grumbles softly to herself. "Sorry, brother," she adds to Theo in her head. "No offense. But you have to admit, the Aztec has beome more than a slight nusiance."

But that building is not empty. Fire demon or not, those people need to be rescued. There is precious little a vampiric speedster can do against a thirteen storey balrog. There's a whole helluva lot she can do for the people in danger of being trampled under its feet or caught in its blazing maw.

She dashes up stairwells, starting with the floors that are most damaged and most in danger. Simple calculus would say to start with the least damaged area first. Save who you can save. But that's the thing about Jac. She's fast enough, she *can* save the ones in the heart of the danger zone, if she keeps moving at speed. And so, she does. One apartment at a time, grabbing whomever she finds -- children first -- returning as often as she needs to, to get the job done.

She trusts the X-Men to deal with the creature. She *has* to.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
A balrog would be the nice way of putting it. The demon is a multi-limbed horror with several toothy maws is a start, and its chaotic shape changes to fit the richly scorched hallways or buckling ceilings. Its firestorm limbs sweep through brick and steel girders like clay pushed by strong hands. Wreaking havoc by burning an apartment down is just a byproduct of rearing its massive pointed mantle into the sky. Residents are clearly trapped within the burning building, their screams audible over smoke and the moaning wind. Heads stick out from broken windows to gasp for fresh air. It's not enough.

Jacqueline will find the interior ablaze in various ways. The interior is perfectly dark but for a few scrabbling residents with their flashes lighting the way. Many hide in their apartments. Pulling those from the lower two floors is easiest. Past that, it's a war of choking, acrid smoke and terrible heat. Fifteen or more flats per floor and many overcrowded, it's exhausting work. Wide-eyed children scream when parted from their fear-shocked parents, thrust into her hands. So many squalid corners, rife with poverty, overcrowded. A feast for Hell, which it's meant to be.

Bobby and Julio trying to get closer have to contend with the sky being full of embers that burn and globules of fire hotter than the modest 800'C of an average fire. No, these carry a brimstone stench. The gooey infernal magma splatter hardens like concrete when in contact with anything, if it doesn't incinerate mortal flesh outright. Bombardment begins small and doesn't stay that way.

A wide arc of nebulous fire bites deep into the tower's facade. A car-sized, super-heated brick chunk flung carelessly at the two mutants wobbles end over end, metal and plastic and someone's cheap flatscreen TV headed for them. The raging beast grows larger and reaches out myriad hot appendages to climb down, not up.


Julio Richter has posed:
A rain of molten shrapnel is dealt with fairly easily; Julio holds a circular ward overhead, which takes the brunt of the firestorm. The worrisome implications of Bobby's Tolkien references seem to pass the Latino youth by; he just stares up at the molten creature with his teeth bared in a grimace. "I can't really tell if the fire //is// the demon or the demon is causing the fire," he says. "If you can fight the fire, you should do that. As for the demon, get it down to ground level if you can, I'm not worth much that far up. I can stay down here and throw rocks at it, but I might just damage the building even more."

He takes a deep breath, his tectonic aura shuddering to bright life around him. "Otherwise, maybe we can do a roller coaster? You bring me down here to power up, then up there to blast the thing?" For all Bobby's faith in Julio, it's obvious that the rock druid doesn't exactly have his monster manual memorized. Thank all the gods she disdains that Spitfire doesn't have to wait through this strategy session to start effecting speedy rescues.

Julio is about to make another suggestion when there's a bellow from above, and he shields his eyes with the ward arm. The other remains at his side, the rock containing the entropic coin tucked securely at his side. "Or... maybe it'll come down here on its own," he says with growing alarm. The ward overhead holds firm, for now, and he adds a thread to it, preparing to drain energy from any mystical attacks that strike it. "Get ready."

Bobby Drake has posed:
As the monster descends, Bobby has a moment to reflect on the absence of the ringed winter. "A coil of frost..." he mutters to himself. "But it wasn't the trap. It was just the spring. If anyone broke the seal, took the coil, the ring would break, and unleash..."

Bobby looks at the 'Balrog', and then suddenly he reaches out to touch Julio's wrist. "No matter what," he says, "... don't let it reach you."

Before he's had any time to explain, Bobby Drake dashes out from under Julio's protective wards and onto the field. He leaps up into the air and ice structures form beneath him at record pace to provide him with a slide. There was one important reason why he couldn't be near Julio- the ambient temperature around his body starts dropping drastically, extending outwards from him as he moves. It is the only way that his ice structures can remain, albeit temporarily. As he advances with increasing speed towards the demon, he unleashes his own power of winter and a blizzard begins to coil around, summoned by his power. Down and down, the temperature around him drops, in an attempt to counteract that infernal heat as he brings all of his current might of winter to bear, winding circles around the descending demon in an attempt to, if not faithfully replicate the ring of winter, to approximate it in some fraction that might allow Julio and Spitfire some opening.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
See... unless one of the guys has suddenly decided to don the drag version of his costume -- snowball boobs, maybe -- the firekraken's bellow sounds like it's particularly aimed at Jacqueline. That should disturb her, and Brother Theo might note that she certainly doesn't take pleasure in the conclusion. But she also refuses to allow the concern it brings to derail her efforts. "Then you know, I'm not easy to stop," she mutters, heatless, harmless flames streaking behind her and blending with the inferno in the corridors.

Her skin has long since dried past resistance to the heat she zooms through. Anything exposed is blistering and her suit is charring, saved from igniting purely because the speeds she moves at suck the air away from the potential embers. But it melts in places. She hurts like hell.

But her speed is sufficient -- if barely, sometimes -- to get survivors out with far less in the way of burns than what she is suffering. And her healing factor keeps up enough with the damage eating away at her flesh that she is able to keep moving. It doesn't lessen the pain, though. Burn pain is some of the most excrutiating pain known to the human body, and her body heals so quickly, the pain is constantly renewed, constantly refreshed, without relief. She can't even shed tears of pain, because that requires more moisture than her body retains.

Regardless, she keeps going, keeps picking up members of overwhelmed and terrifed families and ushering them out into the cold night air where they can breathe and cry and flee to some semblance of safety. Because that's what she's here to do. Demon or no demon.

Fleetingly, she wonders why no one has called the fire department. Then again, maybe it's good they haven't. Fewer heroic lives at risk.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy teleports in directly after being sent by one of W.A.N.D's conjurer's. "I hate teleportating" he tries to ignore the ringing in his head and cocks it to the left and right as he looks at the giant demon in front of him. Well. That's ...ugly. It's the kind of world ending mojo that almost makes him feel the need to take his full form. Almost, except he HATES doing that which makes him want to shoot this jerk in the face even more. He opens his gun to change ammo to silver, frost and holy water shot. Still, the squidly variety told him this one was going to require some different weaknesses.

"Lovely" he muttered under his breath and closed the gun.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Mill Brook Tower #4 radiates fire in the form of a curiously tentacled mass with maws and barbed tentacles aplenty, the cross between magma kraken and an inchoate horror of nightmare. Its initial strange, almost fishy shape continues to evolve as its hellfire consumes the building at alarming speed. It laughs, swiveling around to bring down a fist into the roof and through several floors. //Catch this.//

Tentacles of hellfire rip out a supporting wall, sending at least two people plummeting. Their screams are easy to trace.

Intense heat sends black smoke billowing up into the sky. Embers catching on lower floors bloom into smaller patchwork fires, multitudes of them. The deadly gardens of molten metal and glass peppering the broken pavement and icy sidewalks cause more flames there, too. Bobby can swallow some of them, snuff them out, but can he dodge a molten brick facade three stories tall flung at him by the demon's unoccupied arm? With four, maybe six, it's got options.

The power is out, and the tortured earth screams in protest when Julio rips it open. Decay riddles the ground, a stench like a burst mausoleum radiating up. Darkness steams out, tainted by entropy. Black snowflakes fall near Bobby.

Julio Richter has posed:
Fully enmeshed in whorls of brilliant green light, the young Latino in his parka swings his hands around and then thrusts them skyward, answering in a voice like an echo in a cavernous space, "Si tú lo dices." More vinelike threads of incandescence flower around the thrown masonry in answer to his gesture, and it slows and then reverses course. In a moment, one mutant's geokinesis makes the other's midair dodging superfluous.

Julio flings the façade directly at the demon's maw, but not before ensorcelling it with a spell of supernatural resilience. He aims to block or even splash back the molten breath of the demon descending toward him, and not incidentally protect the one of the pair of X-men that is most useful at altitude.

That's definitely why he's protecting him. Definitely.

Hellboy's arrival goes all but unnoticed in the fray; Julio only feels the ground rumble under the monster hunter's hooves. "Please tell me you're here to help," he says, without looking over his shoulder. "The Earth here is broken, I'm running mostly on what I brought to the party." There's a little lump of rock tucked into one of the Mexican druid's hands, radiating vicious evil and entropy.

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby keeps driving his temperature down. Technically speaking he could go down to absolute zero almost instantly, but there are people around- he has to be mindful of casualties. Including his own- but Julio's tmely intervention manages to spare him from dealing with keeping up facades (they're only doing that outside of combat for the moment), but there is a problem with how widespread the demon's damage is. It was time to diversify.

What spills forth from the ice slide is a veritable small army of Icemen- about twenty of them by the time he is done, each one describing his own route and slinging taunts.

"You think you're too hot to handle, eh?"
"You're just a flash in the pan, nothing more!"
"Did they start handing out demonhood as consolation prizes over there?"
"Dude, you're being horny on main, not a good look-"

You get the idea.

The real Bobby meanwile continues to weave around the hellish creature with his other clones. They more or less form a ring-like formation around the apparition, generously speaking because of the evasive maneuvers they have to employ, but that is when Bobby /really/ starts bringing the temperature down, like a wave of utter winter trying to assert itself. Here an there the clones are smashed to crystalline pieces, only for another one to be generated by the icy X-Man. "Is this helping /at all?/" he shouts out to his mystic expert as downswing on his slide brings him within shouting distance before he heads back over. He has another trick up his sleeve, but he thought he'd try this first...

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Jacqueline is only peripherally aware of Hellboy's arrival. She is pulling body after body after body off the most endangered floors. When those floors are finally empty, she'll move to the floors above them and start doing the same thing there. But for this moment?

She lays the wracked body of a woman clutching her baby on the cold pavement with the others she has freed. The woman is alive, but she is injured. She has protected the baby, though. That's something.

In the smokey night air, she hears Brother Theo in her head. "<<Lotan!>>" the old priest says suddenly, sounding like Archimedes in his tub declaring 'Eureka!' "<<I think? I'm not sure. It may not be. But that demon there is a greater demon. He is certainly reminiscent of Lotan, who is the progenetor of the Leviathan myth.>>"

"<<He's on fire!>>" Spitfire thinks back at him, incredulous. "<<I thought the Leviathan was a sea monster.>>"

"<<It is,>>" the old priest replies. "<<Hellfire can't be extinguished by mere water.>>"

"Oh, for crying out loud!" the Brit grumbles aloud.

Then, however, the Jesuit continues. "<<He's drawn by the young man's coin. Were I a gambling man, that would be my wager. The stone will empower him with its entropic, chaotic magic.>>"

"Great..." Jacqueline sighs. She pauses long enough to look around to try to find Julio. Her burnt skin slowly knits itself back together, the pause giving her healing factor more of a fighting chance.

"Julio!" she calls, looking for him. When she gets some idea of where he is, she takes off at speed to meet him. "The coin," she says to him. "We need to get rid of it. It's empowering that thing." She points to the monster burning down the block. "I can run it out of here, but I need to know where to take it."

Her thoughts drift again to Theo. "<<Any ideas, brother?>>"

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy speaks in perfect Portugese and Spanish directing people to the nearest safe area, pointing behind him and away from the demon, "Get out of here! Head that way!" Meanwhile he points the gun square at the demon and runs at it, ignoring the heat, shooting the holy water and ice rounds at the thing, fully realizing he's likely to have to punch this thing because of course he does. If he spots someone along the way who needs out, (and alive) he will help them but he is fully cognizent that this kind of problem is going to hurt more and more people until sent back where it comes from...with prejudice.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Julio's rock sails straight through the primal fire. Brick already crumbling in proximity to the demon vaporizes like an asteroid meeting Earth's atmosphere. Chunks fly out the other side, the resilience knocking free a horn. Lotan has more. Now one pointy molten spire inverts and crashes to ground, plowing into a dumpster and exploding burning trash everywhere. If the bedrock could scream, it would, shuddering at the violation.

Icemen clones have to contend with an actual apartment building that the demon slides through. They need to reach it up around the tenth floor, but it ignores simple physics. Tentacles intersect walls and its body passes through the floors or the girders that it's weakening by sheer proximity. Chilling out the hellfire changes its shade to a disturbing bruised blue, and the demon swivels to ignore the speedster for a moment. Its form shifts, those hooked tentacles bursting out at speed in a drill and spreading out in a demented twirling floret. Even a spray of hardened hellfire still hurts like hell if one collides. For good measure, it spews out superheated gasses from its open maw at him, a gout blasting dozens of meters across the distance to hit a few Bobbies.

Guess Lotan didn't like those jokes.

When apartments flatten on one another like a squashed layer cake, the screams from rescued victims outside act as a late warning. Sudden cold after vicious heat further compounds the undermined structure. A young man, badly burnt, clings desperately to a skeletal beam over a gaping hole, a nine storey drop ahead of him.

Jacqueline's survivors aren't dumb though. They run through the fire where they can avoid being burnt. Someone finds a fridge door and uses it like Cap's shield. Another throws a fallen fence to act as a bridge. Some are cornered, but others hurried by a demon on the ground scream and run. Mostly in the direction he asks.

Hellboy's shots have a long distance to go considering he is aiming for the top five or so floors of the project. The building acts as the magma kraken's armour, scorched black brick shell that emits hellfire from open windows. For sheer size, it's a horrific problem. Ice-based ammunition does nothing. Holy water is harder to tell: those shots might connect on a prayer but it's a drop of water on an angry volcano with noodly magma appendages.

Julio Richter has posed:
Although he's primarily focused on the demon, Julio does turn for a second when Jac calls his name. He hefts the coin-stone for a second, winces, and then tosses it to her. As soon as it has left his hand, that hand flicks through a complicated motion, placing a ward to follow over Jacqueline's head much like the one he's sheltering under. At the very least, that should buy her time. "If it'll follow you, I guess lead it away from populated areas. Are you fast enough to run on water? The river is close." He points to the east-southeast.

As Hellboy gets up into the fray, Julio turns and gives him a //very// funny look, but not for the reasons one might expect. "¿Que mierda? -- your hand," he says, wincing. "That stone is ..." He squints when he looks at the rocky hand, like it's emitting a blinding light. But on the other hand -- ha -- the Earth around here is deadened and weak from the coin's influence, leaving him a lot weaker in this fight than he should be.

"Lo siento," he apologizes, then reaches toward Hellboy. After barely an instant, his eyes shine with a blazing, verdant fire, and the tendrils of magic around him flower and brigten, crackling with sudden, overwhelming energy. He actually coughs out a burst of it, which traces the glowing outline of leaves over his skin, and then levitates a few feet. Shuddering, he stares upward at the demon, then is launched toward it by a sudden spire of asphalt that he calls up from the streets of the Bronx.

He's driving a circular ward ahead of him like a cowcatcher, and vines of power launch from his arms to grab the thing, tear it from its penthouse perch, drag it screaming and belching smoke down to the Earth. Mother Gaia misses you, Lotan. You never visit, never call.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy is about to start loping after the thing and says, "You again?" as he rolls up his sleeves and will ignore fire and falling debris cause it might hurt but wont KILL him when Julio grabs his arm and he blinks, "What the?" as he draws power from his arm and then launches at Lotan.

Hellboy chuckles darkly, "well you don't see that again," and is about to lauch again metaphorically rerolling up his sleeves when he hears cries of help in what is left of the building. It's a tough call but for now he helps the people get out and to fireescapes, grabbing them as he goes.

Bobby Drake has posed:
The trick to winning against a formidable foe sometimes is just being able to wear out your enemy and manage to not get hit. This requires equal parts skill and luck, and it often works out quite well for Robert Drake. Skill, he can provide, but luck is always a matter that is out of your hands, and when it decides to fail...

A blinding blaze of fire and several Icemen fall, melted into puddles. Unfrotunately, Bobby is also in the path of the conflagration, and although he is fast, he isn't fast /enough/ at the upward curve of his slide. When he emerges on the other side of the flame, there isn't... a lot of him. Bobby Drake's crystalline form comes apart, melted even as the fiery apocalypse engulfs him. What's unnerving is that there doesn't seem to be a scream or other sound coming from him.

At least until he stumbles off the platform, half-formed. Bobby's mouth opens and he makes a concerted effort to say something, the words just barely whispered to Julio. Bidding him to understand. A hissing gasp as they incinerate, one by one.

The tiniest huff: "...or"

And then there is no Bobby left. The ice clones have also become so much water on the ground- what didn't evaporate from the fire.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Jacqueline catches the stone-wrapped-coin deftly, giving the druid a brief nod. "I can run on water," she tells him. "But if that's actually the Leviathan as Brother Theo thinks? Probably not my best choice." She grimaces and turns from him. "I'll be back as soon as I can be." Then she's off like a shot.

She appreciates the ward. She doesn't know what good it'll do, and isn't sure it'll keep up with her. But, mostly, she really hopes she doesn't end up cutting a swath of hellfire through the borough because the fiery kraken demon thing decides to play chase.

"<<The Vatican would work,>>" Theo tells Jacqueline as she begins to run. "<<There are excellent exorcists there that could destroy it. Failing that... Jerusalem? The Rock of the Mount.>>"

"<<How about something in New York, brother?>>" the Englishwoman replies, a long trail of bright, heatless fire stretching out behind her as she heads for the East River. "<<How does St. Patrick's sound?>>"

"<<It will have to do,>>" the old Jesuit agrees. There may be no exorcists there, aside from him as he rides around in Jacqueline's head, but it's still Holy Ground.

Thus, she streaks south through the Bronx, across Randalls and Ward Islands, over the water to Roosevelt Island and down its length, until she croses the Queensboro Bridge. Then, she zigs and zags her way through the streets, heedless of one-way signs, nothing but a flash of fire as she runs full out for the grand old Catholic Cathedral at Madison and E 51st.

Promising Theo, in her mind, that she'll pay for damages -- god knows the CEO of Falsworth Industries can afford it -- she yanks open the cathedral doors and streaks inside, skidding to a stop right in front of the Altar. She looks up at the crucifix. "I hope You're as real as the good Brother believes You are," she tells the image, speaking to it as if it were the Saviour Himself. "Or I may be rebuilding an entire Historical Site." As reverently as a lapsed Anglican like she might, she lays the coin in its rock casing on the Altar and steps back... waiting for the lightning strike. Or the demon to come crashing in.

Whichever comes first.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Climbing up the apartment building in its ruined state might be a death wish. Hellboy has the means to do it, though his handholds may crumble and he ends up showered in molten goo and a healthy amount of lead-swirled, asbestos-flaked slag at superheated temperatures. Just proof that a brave man with fire resistance can make headway, though the young man gasping for breath slides down the girder that bends and twists wildly like a radiatore noodle. His weakened shrieks accompany the power-shocked vines erupting from Julio's spell.

Power is power: viridian witchfire leaping with organic flexibility to wrap around equally agile limbs. Flared resonance of the earth blackens slightly and Lotan gathering itself up like a corkscrew to slap and incinerate using whatever leverage it has. Terrible spikes mean to strip at the nature-shocked shield, opening ragged tears while being dismembered and leaving molten fire spewing out into a fresh limb. Or flinging the remnant chunks down onto that battered circular shield ward.

At least it's not falling on Hellboy directly. Fire immunity doesn't help with sheer weight.


<<A leviathan,>> Brother Theodore gently corrects Jacqueline. <<The true Leviathan is held in check for the end times by Khamuel and the Destroyer.>> Rue ripples over their link. <<Pray to Holy Mary, Mother of God, that isn't the gate to fall before us tonight.>>

St. Patrick's has no exorcists, given one of the archdiocese's exorcists is in Jacqueline's head. Another is a few streets over containing some of the worst of the magic, if he hasn't scarpered off for a drink. Things are not good on sanctified ground where one very upset priest is bound to stick his head out at the commotion in front of the altar.

Especially when all the candles laid out spontaneously burst up in flame and sublimate wax into a gas in a go. The high altar shudders and the bronze baldachino wrapped around the large slab starts to turn a sickly green, dimmed and tarnished. In the Lady Chapel behind, a figurine topples from a wooden slab and hits the ground. Another candle melts down in moments.

Julio Richter has posed:
As Julio's vines yank at Lotan, they also grab the clinging man and pull him from his girder. Fortunately for him, the spell works because Mother Gaia really does want to call her flighty children back to her bosom; the vines grip powerfully and pull inexorably, but the motion groundward is gradual and harmless. After he succumbs to it, he will eventually find himself rooted to the ground, but fully able to walk or even run from the burning building.

As for Julio himself, his boots are anchored to the side of the high-rise opposite the Leviathan by a hastily cast monolith spell. He is still shuddering with the crackling, barely contained energies of Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom, and he only took the barest touch of its stone power. This is in addition to the lingering spiritual boost from a tanker-sized eldritch abomination that he may or may not have eaten a week ago.

So the young mutant is bright to incandescent with sorcerous light when Bobby takes his wrong turn and then skids helplessly through the air toward him. Horrified, Julio reaches out and catches Bobby by his rapidly melting arm. "It's OK, Bobby, just re-form yourself," he says, scrambling and clutching at the other man's vaporizing body, trying not to let him slip away and fall. The distinct note of alarm in his voice widens into full-on panic as he continues, "Nothing can hurt you when you're ice. You told me that. You said." His fingers seek purchase, but on ice, and melting ice, at that. His grip fails seconds before the last of Bobby turns to so much vapor; the other mutant's last words are lost to the wind of altitude and the inescapable tug of gravity.

"No. No. Nonononono..." Julio is staring, reaching downward. He sees Bobby simply disappear. An ordinary, loving, in many ways innocent soul, and Julio went and dragged him back into the chaos and destruction that is his life. Julio Richter, walking natural disaster, a widening gyre that grows and howls and destroys.

His head turns upward, eyes blazing with power and locked on the monster tearing apart one of the Mill Brooks Houses. It's not the only monster here. Julio leaps across the chasm between bulidings, dragging most of the building he was rooted to along with him: brick and glass, metal and machinery drawn in his wake, forming an orbital sphere around him. A rock cluster like the one that entombs Jacqueline's coin of entropy here encases an altogether different force of annihilation. As Julio is lost in the monstrous cloud of debris, green fire leaps outward to embrace and animate it, forming it into a living thing, massive serrated jaws opening. Instead of a tongue, there is Julio, and he reaches forward to fire a battering ram of explosive seismic force: enough to cleave off the top three floors of the building along with the demon skulking inside them.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy can survive almost anything...but that doesnt mean it doesnt HURT. "Aw CRAP" he begins running to get out from under the leviathan, trying to avoid having to do a full transformation if he doesnt have to. If he is able to run fast enough, and he can run FAST (not the flash fast but damn fast) then he will shoot it the instant it is down (its ok to kick Demons when they are down)...and if not....then before it falls on him Hellboy transforms, wings, horns and tail into something....terrible.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
"<<You mean that thing has a bigger, badder brother?>>" Jaqueline says to Theo in her mind. Of *course*, it does. "<<Oi!>>" Not that she's all that surprised. Even the apocalypse is supersized in this day and age.

As the disgruntled Cathedral priest pokes his nose in, Jacqueline looks at him apologetically. Her suit is charred and a little melty in places. Not the cleanest she's ever presented herself. But, her skin has healed. And if her hair is still a little singed, well... she'll get a hair appointment in the morning.

"I wouldn't, Father," she cautions him, moving between him and the Altar. "Brother Theodor Fanueil suggested this was the best place for this, for now. I'll pay for the damages, I promise."

And then silently to Theo: "<<I don't suppose you have any tricks I can use to keep this from collapsing the entire edifice down on top of us, do you?>>"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
<<In the Scriptures, the Leviathan serves a purpose of endings. I rather admit that St. John wrote a touch melodramatically,>> the Jesuit allows. His consternation is rising with the metal canopy darkening by the moment and the rich red altar cloth transformed into a threadbare mass above a yellowing sheet.

The priest outside cries out in horror at the woman. "Ma'am! This is a place of worship. You... you can't throw rocks there!" He gawps, mouth open and shutting like a fish. "Brother Who?" Alas, Theo serving at Grandenetti Cathedral, the great rival in the city to St. Patrick's, has its disadvantages. Father David here doesn't seem impressed by Jacqueline's efforts, though her healing from burns and scrapes and drool deserves better. Paint runs down Saint Patrick's face in a nearby alcove, like tears and serpents.

<<I advise praying, my dear. More practically, stay away from the stained glass or the spires.>> Stone seems to be holding up, but the entropic field finally cracks the stone around it, leaving a single, flat coin lying there. A tarnished silver denarius, lion up. The snarling beast has its paw on a cracked tower.


Julio's torn and battered spike of asphalt is made of the worst New York can offer. It snaps off when he jumps, the grind of broken stone and stolen couches and glass ignited when he gets too close to the flame aura projected by Lotan.

Things go from bad when he closes a snapp snout around the top of the building to progressively worse. That debris cloud just adds to the ignition on tower #3, and the munched demon doesn't so much as shriek as make the world shake in its proximity. Reality doesn't do so well, hurled back and forth, as the thing's shape folds in and those long, writhing tentacles wrap around the periphery of a kinetic, shifting globe. Like it might knot or tie the snout shut, if it were even possible.

Globs of hellfire rain down. A truck is a victim, the people inside. Hellboy not so much, though he damn well better run or get a fifteen foot streamer of molten fire falling atop him. The fiery dervish whirling inside the ruined top of Mill Brook House #4 decides on a tornadic form, emanating low pulses that could be language.

<<Why did my arm fall off>> or <<Who kicked my vertex>> doesn't translate from the darkest Enochian very well. Climbing and jumping will get the red-skinned SHIELD agent there in a somewhat timely fashion, though now he's at an apartment missing several floors and possibly about to collapse on itself.

No worries.

Peep peep!

Julio Richter has posed:
There's not even a hint of self-preservation, and only a modium of sense, in Julio's furious assault. His monstrous puppet of stone and pavement can burn away for all he cares; it has served its purpose in bringing him here, getting him close to the demon with earth (if mostly molten earth, at this point) beneath his boots. His wardwalls come up again, this time not just outlined with flowering green light, but suffused with the burning reds and yellows of the molten ground. Just because it's lava doesn't mean it stops being earth, and at this peak of power, he is its lord.

The walls slam onto Lotan from the left and the right, then unfurl, gaining new dimensions with each eye-befuddling twist of their spatial form. They first box the creature in, then violently, willfully compress it, crunching it into a tighter and tighter space with patient, tectonic force. Julio's aura is burning, or possibly that's hair: he doesn't give a damn.

Well, that's not entirely true. As the walls crush the being into a tighter space, what's left of Julio's rock beast wends a serpentine path to his hand, where it forms a burning, cutting blade: a flint knife in absurdly great proportion. Julio lifts the knife, his eyes a vicious, manic conflagration, and plunges toward the demon's center of mass.

There, to operate: to cut, surgically precise and hatefully swift. He will draw the molten heart out of this thing and devour it, claim its fiery power for his own, and if he burns to a cinder in the process, so much the better for the universe. He does give a damn, in fact. He will damn this creature, and himself if he has to. That's all he has left to give.

Hellboy has posed:
Hellboy remembering that he can talk to anything is a perk at times, and Hellboy runs that fifteen feet in three quick leaps, bouncing off one of the nearby walls and unleashing three quick shots into the Leviathan at this range, running up so he can try and punch it in the face. <You are asking the wrong questions> he says as he pulls the trigger of the holy water shot, <It isnt who,but why...> he pulls the trigger on the third, <And that's because you're an asshole...>

That sounded better in his head before he said it. Ah well, close enough, if it slows this bastard down from whatever it is he is after.

Another portion of a nearby building falls on him. There is only so much you can dodge. And to quote Return of Jafar, you'd be surprised at what you can live through. "Crap..." he says right before buried.

Bobby Drake has posed:
Julio should know, by now, that Bobby Drake doesn't lie. Not really. He might occasionally omit things because he can be that absent minded, and he can sometimes understate things because he's like that, but lie? No. When he told Julio that he was practically indestructible in his ice form, he /meant it/.

Normally, this would take longer, but there /was/ still some remnants of winter, and the remains of the blizzard that even now was still active, but dissipating. Congitively, it's not too different from when he expands his consciousness through frost and ice and snow... with the difference that there is no one /solid/ body. At least, for now. This is about to change, however, as moisture gathers at an incredible speed. If anyone were to look up, they'd be able to see something sparkling in the sky. It is unmistakably Bobby, except of a rather enormous size, and made of water. And then he descends, tucking his body into a position that will be very familiar to any X-men out by the lake- cannonball!

An enormous amount of water slams down into the area, creating a small tidal wave to crash into the lava, the burning, and Lotan.

See, Julio?

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
"<<Praying isn't my strong suit,>>" Jacqueline sighs inwardly to Theo. "I'm not throwing rocks," she grumbles at the local priest. "I'm trying to keep a demonic entropy coin away from the greater demon that's currently burning the Bronx." She shakes her head. "Get out of here, Father, please. You and anyone else. It's not safe in here -- for any of us." But, she's the hero, in this situation. And one that's remarkably hard to kill, at that. Which means it's her life that should remain at risk.

Which also means that if the good priest doesn't evacuate, as she suggests, she'll evacuate him. Him, and anyone else on the premises, setting them down in a flash on the Madison Avenue sidewalk that runs in front of the old property.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Julio will care for the scorched hair that needs to be removed by snips of scissors or buzzed off. The enormous heat bubbling skin as easily as biting through certain spellwork costs him, vying for control, shredding through earthen shields and crisping what lies beneath. In future days those cuts and burns, even mended, will throb with nightmarish intensity.

Of dreams of nothing but the black. The tumble, the crash, the undoing. A sickness in the self, the soul.

That's what it means to touch the darkness, something of born of undoing and perpetually unmade. Furious shots crash, crack, burn through its substance, tearing away more of the physical shell that its immortality inhabits. Demons are not made of the same mortal clay.

Of course, dumping enough clay and river silt borrowed from the river will cool Lotan's jets. Mostly. The water flash-heated into mist only adds to the confusion, and confounded, upset mortal victims fling themselves flat. If they cannot run then better to hide when the projects are spewing dust into the air in their collapse atop Hellboy and others. Community improvement on a much bigger, broader scale? Sirens squeal in the distance, ringing far off. No detachments care much about Mott Haven unless actual social media posts show the titanic kraken or a dervish whirling with ice and earth. Road signs flung into the air slice through flesh, winging the mutant earth-bender. The splashy entrance from Bobby nets a serrated grumble from the shadows, a weird swishing noise. Someone sweeping a freeway?


One of the stones from the ceiling crashes down onto the ground in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Lady Chapel pillars groan. It takes a test of faith and bravery for Father David to hold his ground, and he whirls on the dust and mortar lifting in the air. "You're quite mad." This is past his paygrade! Demons? Melted statues? Woman? But he hastens away, driven for the door, and not many others inside need to be rushed out though Jacqueline manages it well.

<<They doubt, and the doubt sows fear in their hearts,>> Theo sighs. Ever the Jesuit, ever the soft-spoken demonologist. Prayers circle around in their joined thoughts, Latin steadily drawn up in the background. <<The Lord will guard us all the same.>> He must. What other choice is there?

Trusting a warlock? Some alien? Young men playing bowling for demon-blood?

Good riddance to that! Even as the inchoate form is falling apart, ripped and regenerating slowly, the entropy leeched as its host crumbles.

Julio Richter has posed:
The devouring of the flesh is a symbolic, mystical gesture: a way the old gods whose patterns inform Julio's magic had of demonstrating their total dominance over enemies and cowed subjects alike. Truly, in the bold language of myth, there are few more direct ways to state that someone else's suffering fuels your power. When the molten liquid of Julio's blade carves away at the crushed demon's chest, space and proportion go //wrong// for a moment. Julio looms larger; his teeth tear at the molten heart without it ever really touching his lips. There's also no way his mortal frame should be able to tolerate the proximity and heat necessary to complete such an act.

But in the world of magic, symbol is often more real than matter, and this is the only way Julio has to drain a mystical creature's power. In this case, the power anchoring this thing of unreality into the material world is the power he steals, and if precedent is any proof, Lotan should rapidly start to fade away into so much mundane soot and heat, leaving only a young mage sickened by his own survival.

And then Definitely Dead Bobby throws cold water all over Julio's fearsome, conflicted moment of sorcerous triumph.

Teetering on the top of a barely-standing edifice, burnt to a crisp and sopping wet, the drowned rat of a druid shudders and drops to his hands and knees, coughing on smoke. "¿Que Mierda?" he asks, twisting to stare at the sky, baffled by this freak downpour.

Bobby Drake has posed:
If Bobby is water, and currently falling all over, and Julio is thoroughly soaked- well, let's not think too much about it. Rather, let's focus on the transluscent, watery figure that is gathering as the water falls. First, toes, then feet, growing into powerful legs, then a chest, and then finally Bobby's face. The shimmering apparition remains there for a few seconds before it speaks.

"... you could trust me a little more," he says quietly. Of course, Julio's reaction didn't go amiss, since he was technically everywhere.

Then his knees seem to fail him, and he slowly gets to his knees next to Julio, transluscent body becoming pale flesh as Bobby can no longer hold on to any form except his ordinary form, too drained and exausted. Also, extremely not dressed. He looks like he has been up for five nights without any sleep at all, but he reaches out to Julio on pure impulse to touch his cheek with a shaking, soaking wet hand.

"A: Are you okay? B: Is it gone?" his voice sounds extermely weary, and some of his words are slurring.

Jacqueline Falsworth has posed:
Jacqueline leaves the people on the street, streaking back into the old stone cathedral and closing the door behind her as she goes. The odd piece of stone falls. But the Englishwoman can't bring herself to leave the coin unguarded. Yes, the building may fall down on her head... but she'll very probably survive it. And as the Jesuit's thoughts swirl about her head, his Latin prayers rising Heavenward, she does what she can to centre herself and add the thoughts of her spirit to his.

She remembers prayers from the Anglican Common Book of Prayer, but they're different than the Latin words Theodore offers. And, in the end, she is better at the wordless, heartfelt prayer of a desiring heart than any pretty verbal composition. It has been far too many years since she truly prayed. Not, perhaps, since she buried her son... decades ago, now.

The coin lays bare upon the stone altar, now. The cloth has long since rotted away, and the statuary in the sanctuary is crumbling while she stands before it. She'd light a candle, but they're all gone, crumbled and evaporated.

Laying a hand on the stone -- but not the coin -- she whispers softly. "God, protect Julio and the others. They need Your help..." Because that demon needs to be destroyed. And she has a duty here.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Prayers to God in a disturbed cathedral have no answer. It pleases Theodore all the same to hear the honesty in it.

Bodies are few, in the Bronx, but there. For a thousand people, though, there is no home. The fires will burn until tended, treated by more than water. The New York fire department takes its sweet time to get there.

It is only from above that a burnt seal is remotely distinguishable, scorched on the remaining standing walls. No sign of the otherworldly evil done here, except in broken lives.