7270/Shi'ar: Sic Itur Ad Astra

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Shi'ar: Sic Itur Ad Astra
Date of Scene: 08 August 2021
Location: M'kraan
Synopsis: Illyana transports a team of X-Men (and a Green Lantern consultant!) to another Galaxy and the Shi'ar planet M'kraan. There, they find a world under ancient quarantine, a dead city of science, alien signage, Oan mysteries, and at the end of a long trail, a crystal containing incredible energy. Also, apparently, some very hostile quarantine measures.
Cast of Characters: Jean Grey, Illyana Rasputina, John Stewart, Xi'An Coy Manh, James Proudstar

Jean Grey has posed:
Last Issue

After a Shi'ar attack on Xaviers Mansion, Jean Grey went into a sudden psychic panic, felt by most of those around her: her parents, who live an hour north of the school in a small college town, were also being targeted. After repelling the Shi'ar who had breached the secure lower levels of the building, Jean and several others traveled by portal to her parents house, joined by various backup.

Things did not go well.

While most of the Shi'ar troops were defeated, Ambassador Shakari had beamed down to the scene with a strange person in tow: a young human male with black hair. Apparently a mutant or other metahuman, this young man wielded tremendous control over energies of various kinds, turning back numerous attacks against him.

Meanwhile, Jean had found her family upstairs in the house, her father on death's door from a heart attack caused by all the chaos. In desperation, she called on some unknown aspect of the power she once held, the very power the Shi'ar were after. In that moment, the Phoenix manifested somewhat differently than in previous records, causing a massive white light.

A white light that registered, in space, detected and analyzed by Lantern rings as they continued to push the Shi'ar fleet: << White Light discharge detected. >> Quickly, the rings would provide the coordinates of the event below.

Yet things turned out badly for the source of this phenomenon. Once she'd activated it, the unknown mutant used his apparent power-draining abilities, and after a short clash of energies... Jean was simply gone. Shakari and his accomplice beamed back shortly after, leaving the X-men and their company uncertain of what to do.


Even before Jean's disappearance, Princess Lilandra had been working with Illyana Rasputina on a curious goal. While she didn't know the precise how and what of her brother's plan, she knew the where. If all else failed (and by now, it had), they would meet him there and try and stop him.

Where normally, Lilandra might have shared the vision of their goal directly, Magik's psychic blocks made this irksome. So they were doing it the old fashioned way: a crash-course on intergalactic navigation, so that the dark sorceress could get a -thorough- grasp of the target. Lilandra stressed that this was important: the place they were going was ancient, even by Shi'ar standards, in a very strange part of their galaxy. It's system displayed strange astrophysical properties and phenomena. Getting things wrong, even a little bit, could be very bad.

But there was only so much time for preparation. The time had come: they were traveling to M'Kraan.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Things would just be so much easier if energy manipulating, dark-haired strangers didn't eat their damn headmistress. If the Shi'ar understood, like so many before them, they were making a terrible mistake. Like one on par with Zod or Brainiac.

What's another murderbirb among them, if they need to acquire Motherbirb?

Illyana's pesky talent for not being open to any psychic intrusion can be resolved by "Photograph, star map, projection?" but those are somewhat moot points. Deep space is really, really big. Spaces between stars are nice and all, but galactic arms cease to matter when beyond the Milky Way. Then it comes down to local groups and superclusters, details that poor terrestrial technology might be a smidge fuzzy on. Helpfully, obtaining a proper set of coordinates in Shi'ar technology and back-translating isn't impossible considering that the Russian sorceress can read a map. Plus practice makes perfect. Toss a drone or a demon through that portal to see if it hits bullseye?

There is also the concept of time and space fused together at some level, one integrated into her bones, beyond all that. One sip of coffee out of that travel mug roughly the size of a German stein, and she calls up the spread of her palms.

"Time we entered story mode, da? Are there any advanced defenses we need to be aware of that are not covered, Princess?" The first question is for her fellow mutants. The second, Lilandra.

"I intend on a few spells, either way. Is this going to react badly?" M'Kraan Crystal, they come in peace.

John Stewart has posed:
He had only just returned to Earth... and already the world was exploding. Potentially literally, in this case. Having helped to deal with the aggression of an understandably fearful Imperium in orbit, John had received the warning just before he charged his ring... and was going at top speed through the atmosphere to the event. "What is it now?" John half griped.

It doesn't take him very long to arrive... those around at the time having just enough time to see the man practically bullet out of the sky right down to them... before suddenly stopping and hovering in midair in his Green Lantern uniform. "Hello." The green glowing eyes of the suddenly appeared black man having glanced over the group, his Power Ring aimed in a sweep as John sought the source... only to come up empty. "John Stewart, Green Lantern Corps. What just happened here?"

That was days ago. Days that John spent talking about matters... and is tight lipped about his interest in events, but has nonetheless requested to join the... task force? Expedition? after hearing what happened, and has been hanging around... even helping to teach Illyana some of the navigational knowledge required to make the trip.

Now, John is off to one side, his ring up in front of himself as he projects a copy of the Milky Way in front of himself. "If we're doing this now, I just need a moment to charge my ring." John glances to the others, those glowing eyes raising a brow in question.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
To Xi'an Coy Manh, much of this is not shocking. She does not like to talk a great deal about her childhood, given everything, but -- well; the aliens are different, yes; but the idea, of a home being assailed, of peace and safety being violated. These are not shocking.

They are painful, of course. And on some level... infuriating.

It is the fury to which Shan clings because it is better than the fear and the helplessness. It seems to resonate better with her. She wonders if Tran approves. She wonders if, ultimately, she cares. Nga and Leong are safe, for now: so that is one duty discharged. Now for the other one.

Karma is in her field uniform. Stock yellow and blue-black, rolled up to accomodate the leg. Said leg has a new decoration: a strapped-on nylon-and-leather holster, one suitable for a heavy pistol from Earth which is currently accomodating a slightly off-shaped weapon, plundered from the invaders. The uniform belt has two additional bonus pouches, of the characteristic mil-surp style usually used for such things: these have what is PROBABLY the parts kit and DEFINITELY at least one spare power clip. Cell.

She doesn't know. She only shot it once. But she feels happy to have it.

Karma adjusts her hairband as she approaches where Illyana is standing. Then she looks up and over at John Stewart. "Do you need a cable?" she asks him, with honest ignorance.

Jean Grey has posed:
"The planet is uninhabited, although its original inhabitants did leave a variety of structures on the world, defensive, informative and otherwise. Most are inactive, although some are not, and they have been known to come to life somewhat unpredictably," Lilandra answers Illyana, regarding this strange destination of theirs. "We have had only moderate success interacting with any of them, pried some small things from their databases. But ultimately it is a foreign place, even to us, even within our domain. I would exercise caution, although it is hard to say how things may react to our presence, in any facet. I doubt you will cause it any damage, at least."

Very reassuring!

To John, she offers a nod. "I would make any preparations you require."

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar has been busy, collecting weapons leftover from the attack, collecting souvenirs that are too dangerous for student's hands, cleaning out the destruction, sheering up smashed sections of walls and ceiling, checking on the wounded, especially Lockheeed. He's been back and forth from Brooklyn, checking on friends and sitting in the library helping Tabby study. Even now he has a pack of index cards in his pocket. He hasn't stopped moving since the attack.

    He rolls his shoulders, wearing the matte black uniform he favors. There's a large backpack on his back looking small on his frame, and knives, axes small blades of all shapes and size secured on his person. He waits patiently, rolling his shoulders, reviewing that stats of ships in orbit, priortizibg targets of obsessing over details? it's anyone's guess.

     Jim looks over when Yana speaks.

John Stewart has posed:
"Something like that." John answers Xi-an, amused. Then, his left hand reaches out... and an interdimensional tear forms in reality where he reaches, and he reaches inside of it. He pulls out a green lantern in front of the group.... a rather /large/ one at that. There is no fire inside, but a bright glowing green swirl of energy inside.

He firmly grips the handle with his left hand, and sticks his right hand inside of it. The energy inside suddenly glows brighter... "In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!"

Suddenly, the lantern glow is almost as bright enough to be a small sun itself for a few seconds, before John pulls his hand out of the inside of the lantern, and replaces the lantern back into that tear... which closes... like it was never there.

He turns back to the group and starts to walk over, his expression serious, "Ready for anything." That glow in his eyes is a bit brighter than usual, even.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
There will be no cable to connect Illyana to the world, since she /is/ the cable in question. Through her all things are poss... wrong tale. Limbo provides a substantial variety of benefits, but the one she wants before they set forth is considerably less esoteric than a pocket dimension over which she holds mostly unassailable rule. Neither would demonstratably calling down some of those energies be wise with their Green Lantern guest, whom she watches very intently when he peers into the void and grasps the great verdant lantern. Threatening to be burnt by that creative force pretending to be flame and light earns a wary quirk of those oilslick-black lips.

No time like the present to begin, then. Her preparations come forth in a paired set of gestures, hands rolled to present her palms outward. Her will invokes a hanging sigil in the air in a liquid golden-bronze shade, roughly at eye level to her.

Other smaller symbols scrawl outwards in a hemisphere and echo the burning glyphs arranged in multiple circles around her in three concentric bands. "With your permission," she gestures to her peers, "I want to put you under a rite of protection. It will help me find you if you cannot be found. Like a yellow exclamation point over your head." Who let her play video games?

A word, "<<Iskra>>," and a gale wall of force erupts around her in an oscillating orb, awaiting the final invocation. If anyone permits it, stepping inside the protective circle feels like an air conditioned room after a sweltering hot summer day.

After that? All that remains is calling down the Soulsword, and leaping through galaxies like someone prances through a dressing room.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Karma listens to Lilandra.

"That's ominous," she tells her. "And so we must move despite our ignorance, then?" She takes a deep breath and lets it out.

A few moments later, John Stewart speaks words of power. Karma watches with curiosity, cast for a moment in green light from the rippling force of the Guardians' gift. "I envy your certainty," she tells him, rolling her head in a very loose orbit.

"Of course," she concurs to Illyana; and when the rite is drawn, Karma steps into it.

"It is a shame that the place is abandoned. It is abandoned?" Karma asks Lilandra, then. "If you are comfortable with it, I can coordinate you - all of us, save Illyana," her hand sort of turning around to encompass everyone, even John! "with my thoughts. This may make it easier if we must..."

She breathes out. It's almost but not quite a sigh.

"If we must end up splitting up."

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar re-focuses on John and watches space unfold with a quirked brow, he looks to Yana and Shan even Lilandra as if to confirm the others are seeing this, "... that's new." as space re-seals itself

    James doesn't hesitate his trust in the Blonde Russian absolute, he checks his gear and enters the circle, nodding to her and watching as she opens the door. James nods to Karma trusting his classmate with his mind.

     James doesn't prance it just isn't in his nature, he moves with grace and purpose, throwing himself into breach when its stable.

Jean Grey has posed:
"It is, for the most part," Lilandra answers Xi'an. "We have conducted scientific surveys of the planet, but they have fallen from favor as their results proved inconclusive. It is uninhabited, and in a sense guards itself, so there is no purpose to stationing any kind of permanent force there."

Naturally, there is a 'but':

"However, my brother may well have changed that. Caution is warranted, and alternate communication advisable." She is in her armor, as is typical, and has added to it a large staff or spear-like kind of weapon. Her recent rescue aside, she is a self-sufficent sort of Princess.

But that armor is not cause to shun Illyana's protection, nor the telepath's aid, and she awaits the sorceress's final mark before following the ensemble.

John Stewart has posed:
"No problems here." John replies to Illyana, as he stands there, a confident demeanor to him as he waits. The spell is allowed to take hold, despite Illyana feeling a protective field around the Green Lantern.

As Karma tries to establish contact with John... she would feel the mental equivalent of a brick wall blocking any form of access... until a hole is made in it, "Go ahead." John offers, "If your link breaks, I can establish one of my own in line of sight." John confirms.

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
She recalls the minute detail of the planet through facts engraved in her head, rote methods of recall hammering in where those coordinates should be. Many hours of practice -- and more in Limbo where time runs differently -- are put to the test without an iota of doubt. All other thoughts can wait.

First, the flourish and the flash. But when it comes to teleportation, the more triumphant feat involves no obvious turn or prestige. The sigils wink out when the spell takes hold. The Hell-Lord glances at Lilandra and John from the corner of her eye, the faintest upnod signalling a start or agreement perhaps. Take that uplink from Xi'an. Share in the horror.

Space opens around Jean Grey's devoted friends or allies. On the other side of the portal, an exoplanet in all its splendour awaits.

Just mind the fall, being hurtled along a psychedelic plunge like no other across a twelve-axis point of separation. Mind and soul collide and come apart, sent at gasping speeds when tripping the light fantastic. A step, a lifetime, and all comes back together with equal rapidity. It brings them into a blasted black-marble amphitheatre cupped within a ring of Corinthian columns, and that very much is a dragon curled around, watching with a single burning violet eye. What beautiful teeth you have, bookwyrm, in a Cheshire smile.

Another step, and out of Limbo they go in a slipstream blur cupped within the hands of no gods to speak of. (She'd be irked and horrified to be called one.)

Illyana extends her right hand, and the flaming brand of her soul emerges from hammerspace. A long blade extends past her crowned head, haloed in blinding blue-white flames purer than the cores of the hottest hypergiant stars. Midnight forges three forked brackets and her fingers close around the hilt. "Party time."

Jean Grey has posed:
Time and space may not map 1:1 across the dimensions Illyana treads, and yet even by her reckoning of such things... this journey feels longer. Not the portion in Limbo itself, which is as strange for the other travelers as ever, or a wonderful new experience for the first timers. That goes about how she is used to it going. But the 'edges' of the journey, the transition between the there and... wherever they are going. These are drawn out.

Length may be the wrong way to describe it, as meaningless as that term is. But the passage feels stretched, as if all the world they know was falling away from them. In a literal sense, of course, that part is very much true: Earth is gone. The Milky Way is gone. This is far beyond far from home. With the exception of a handful of wizards, time travelers, and other truly odd individuals, it is beyond previous human experience.

But it is more than that. As they snap back into reality, there is a sense of isolation in their new place. Wherever 'here' is, it is a singular, solitary and unique place.


In less grandiose and more literal terms, the planetary surface they arrive on has the appearance of simultaneously ancient and immeasurably advanced ruins. The ground is flat (and maybe not ground, but some kind of composite), and there are many structures, strange towers or obelisks, rising from it. In a way, it has the appearance of a city, although it lacks the friendly ammenities one would expect of such a place. As well as any people.

The sky above is dark, the stars clearly visible, as are some larger, closer shapes, casting occasional shadows over the surface. John's ring provides commentary: << Analyzing: Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere with exotic traces. Human-breathable. Upper layers absent. Artificial energy barrier detected beyond the tropopause. >>

Survey of this immediate vicinity reveals no killer defense systems, and eventually, the group can map out certain patterns to structures and the spaces between them. A street layout, of sorts. In places, these look as though they might even constitute transportation systems in and of themselves - moving sidewalks, rails for tram cars, magnetically charged hover plates - or at least, their shapes conjure these assumptions from the collective jumble of human science, science fiction, and burgeoning hypertech. None seem active, however, so ascertaining their true functions is difficult.

It is possible to work out a sort of organizational logic that might suggest basic principles of navigation: toward the center of all this, or away from it.

John Stewart has posed:
As they arrive, John brings his hand to his forehead, "years dealing with intergalactic wars and police actions, and even hyperspace never did that to me." John shakes it off then, looking around. Then, John aims at the sky with his right hand in a fist, "Ring, analyze star patterns and cross reference with Oa. Estimate current position. Also, clarify Artificial energy barrier."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Karma grits her teeth for a moment. That level of defense... is it that ring? She wonders, even as she makes a brief 'I am here - we are all together' wordless impulse in the minds of all present. There is a moment of struggle, a violet halo over her head for a moment-- then it fades, recedes. Steady.

DRAWN BETWEEN THE SUCKLING VOID OF DIMENSIONS, a wracking pain in the right leg for a moment -
A demolished amphitheatre, with its inhabitant.

"Just passing through," Shan says quietly, perhaps out of sheer nervous tension, while doing exactly that. Perhaps for a moment she empathizes with such a creature. FORWARDS - refulgent and coruscant into a howling distance -

And there they are.

Xi'an Coy Manh looks up at the stars for long seconds. Alien. Completely alien. And yet, she thinks - there are patterns, aren't there? It's not... it isn't random. She breathes out again. That banked fury is temporarily eclipsed by sheer and uttermost wonder as her gaze turns round the ruins, staying distinctly and specifically near to the others while taking it all in.

"God in Heaven," Karma says, crossing herself. Afterwards there is a momentary glance towards Illyana. No hard feelings.

She is silent in wonder for long moments afterwards, although the psi-link that she is hosting is uninterrupted. She speaks, finally, and it is to James. "Where no mutant, I suppose, has gone before."

"If there is a breathable atmosphere... yet this all seems so ancient. Would not even stone or metal erode over time? It's almost like a... a drawing or something. Did anyone *ever* live here?"

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar smiles and calls to the dragon in Apache, a greeting to one's elders. The wyrm snorts and acknowledges the lesser being almost not at all, but between almost and not is galaxy of possbilities.

     The only sign of the odd re-entry is when Jim rolls to a crouch instead of landing on his feet. His breathing is deep and slow taking in scents of this strange new world. His eyes scan his surroundings, he's listening. taking in all the oddness, listening for heartbeats, the hum of energy systems coming on line, the taste of ozone. The smells of... people? He reaches out with his enhanced senses putting himself between his friends and anything that comes at them. There are knives in his hands that glint brighter than metal should, long and wicked looking. Held at the ready as everyone lands and settles. "We're clear, for now." He chuckles and nods to Shan ,"Yeah."

Jean Grey has posed:
At his request, John's ring projects a star chart into the space above his arm. Various dots light up brighter, with lines projecting off around each to connect to others nearby. Eventually, a pattern is made, flashing as the view zooms out, matching against a particular cluster of stars, and then zooms out again, and so on. The process takes several steps, to the point where it is comparing galactic features rather than individual stars. Eventually, however, it shows a large scale map with a smattering of floating galaxies. A line springs up from one of them, indicating their position, and then a label appears... elsewhere, several galaxies over, indicating Oa

While they're obviously in some very far away place, all of this seems to line up with what Lilandra had provided earlier. Illyana has not steered them wrong.

<< Barrier is equivalent to a class-12 forcefield. >>

Lilandra does not show the awe that Xi'an does, at least not for their destination. Her thoughts about the process of getting there she keeps to herself. "All indications are that it was once inhabited, yes. But this was... ages before the Empire."

John Stewart has posed:
"I haven't been outside the Milky Way for years, and never several galaxies over. There's probably a Green Lantern for this region of the universe, but without a portal, I don't think they could get through that barrier." John explains to the others, keeping the ring in the air to the others can examine the projection, "at least we're on target. It would take me a while to get back to Earth from here."

He looks to Lilandra then, "The ring would have told us if there were sentients around. This is completely abandoned and there's a Galactus level barrier in place. It all points to a galactic level quarantine." Then John looks to the others, "At least we weren't dropped into a nest of hostiles."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Anything pressing at the boundaries of Illyana's teleportation amounts to a wonder unto itself. Even the soul-cracked Russian can stop to smell the roses or absorb the thinning, stretching reach of temporospatial displacement. Something dances in her blood, quickening her pulse, enlivening her glowing blue eyes several magnitudes to the point of matching that sword.

The ghostly traces on her lips are a smile. Small, but present, like a star in a dark empty quadrant overhead, must burn all the more. But she has no leisure here to turn the experience over in her mind, for that's how foolish travellers make startled corpses.

Going aloft over Xi'an with James crouched and armed, the winter blonde take stock of the alien city in its wrecked splendour. "Da, valid question. This could be a city now not intended for habitation, but preservation with no other directive. Like closed cities or a UN city, people came here with a purpose and it was programmed to keep that purpose?" Speculation when dealing with a sci-fi landscape, but she hovers to look around. "It seems to be built on a fundamental spoke system. Hub would be that way."

It's needless to gesture the sword in that direction, but she does. "Do you see any writing? Useful for us to compare later." Her lips part, that foreign air cycling through her lungs, and the demon shadow within her shoved back down into its slumber by radiant golden, dawnborne waves. "Galactic-level quarantine suggests taking a look without poking holes in barrier first, doesn't it? What have your people thought was here, Princess?"

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
"Do you know much about that ancient history? It feels as if it might be important... at least it is not built for giants or five-sided starfish plants," Shan muses, trailing off as she looks up towards the skyline in the distance. She does not move too quickly, and while she does not keep a hand hovering over the grip of her stolen pistol, she sure doesn't keep it FAR from that.

The Green Lantern has good news! "Well, that is reassuring... if it would keep out Galactus, perhaps it would at least delay if we have been given to any other guests," Karma muses.

"If there is a central place... then that would be the logical place for whatever was most important to be kept," she muses. This does make her put a hand on the grip of the weapon, once again primarily for security. Totally.

Be wise, she tells herself. Don't jump at ghosts. You are not at your fullest peak of strength, are you?

Even so. Ms. Grey is not here, she continues in the faintly bifuricate internal pep talk, and you are.

"I am going to feel for thoughts, if there are any. I am going to be as quiet as I can, so forgive me if you should lose reception," Shan says aloud, before the 'volume' of the psi-link lowers and, very tentatively, she expands her thoughts outwards. Reaching. Touching. There should be a few people here... and Illyana, a known blank spot. The Lantern, an all-but-untouchable tower. Is there more?

If I do feel more, she reasons, would it be wishful thinking? But then again, if this place is truly dead... there would be almost no interference. My range may be even better than usual.

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar stands and sheaths the weapons casually but remains in that sort of tense readiness, looking about,scanning the city scape. Taking it in, watching, neither the open wonder of Shan or the calculated appraisal of Yana. Jim watches, waiting for whatever comes next.

Jean Grey has posed:
Examining the surface of any particular artifact-tower, patterns of symbols are evident, arranged in rows and blocks, although it constitutes a certain leap in logic to declare them writing. They could be artistic embellishments, after all. On some, there are surfaces of different materials set against the cool blue-grey that seems the predominating color of most of the construction. Glossy dark patches might even be screens or displays, although none leaps to life.

"That's correct," Lilandra confirms to Illyana. "We've never been able to overcome the barrier directly. After we discovered the planet, we spent quite a while studying it, and eventually were able to calibrate our transporters to bypass the forcefield. But it did hamper our archeological efforts, as well as any prospect of larger-scale projects. And our purpose, initially, was not so different than yours, in your first groping efforts into space: we had our explorers, our curious scientists. A puzzle presents itself, and it is only natural to find the inclination to unravel it. But the crystal proved the most important find. More than a few have wasted their lives trying to unlock its secrets. At the very least, it can be assumed to power all of this."

At this juncture, she finds it necessary to point out: "Archeology was never /my/ speciality. I attended the Imperial War College. Nor have I ever had cause to visit in person. But if the city is organized around a center point, that is likely to be where we find it." And so without further contemplation, she takes up the course set by Illyana's sword-point.

Both Xi'an and John have methods by which to look for hostiles, and take care to do so. The ring does not ping any, although it is happy to report that the construction materials may reduce its normal range. Exotic isotopes and elements abound, but happily, none seem dangerously radioactive. Psychically, there is also no immediate presence, but here, the methodology show their different strengths. Psychic echoes, it seems, may linger a little longer than heat signatures.

John Stewart has posed:
"Does this planet have a name? I can consult the database for it." John offers as they examine their surroundings.

Then, his body glows slightly with Green energy, and John floats up just slightly, hovering in midair now. "Should be easy enough to get us to our destination quickly from here. Just close in around me and I can start in a direction. First though..." He floats up to those symbols on buildings, one at a time, and aims the ring at them, "Ring, are these language, or art?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Did anyone ever ask this crystal if it wished to cooperate? It might have its opinions to offer, when asked nicely." Illyana may carry a very impressive sword and dress as the most unlikely of warriors, since a gap showing bare flesh violates countless rules about proper soldiering. Then again, has anyone seen Koriand'r? Red Sonja? There may be precedents for exotic reasons.

She continues to float above the ground rather than stay on the moving walkways or any of those pressure plants conspicuously offering to launch them into low orbit or turn on the world's array of dead monitors. Caution and a lifetime of overwhelming paranoia make her perhaps not the finest person to take point, so she trends in arcs behind Warpath -- anything going through James has to pack a certain punch, and the spell entwined around all of them might deflect the worst. No reason to put herself at the spearpoint.

"Da, if you would carry us, it may be easier. Hands free for other things," she says to John. If the Lantern wants to do some less heavy lifting, all the better. "Centerpoint should be most heavily decorated or guarded, and so wise we look out for welcome wagons. Let us know if you detect anything hostile?" Their resident telepath is the best chance of that, and she gently smirks in Xi'an's direction.

No, not just because the ring decided not to answer. "Later I can ask some old people who might remember." One doesn't just name the Thursday Night Hell-Lord Happy Hour, since some of those beings were there from Day 1, Universe 1.

Jean Grey has posed:
"In Shi'ar, we call it M'kraan," Lilandra answers.

But here, the ring... disagrees? Or well, it comes up with some interesting answers, or interestingly NON-answer answers: << Querrying. No planetary data for M'kraan. Suggested: input error. Cross referencing with Galactic chart location ... Planet located. Error. Access to survey data denied. >>

That's probably a new one for John. But suddenly, it becomes a frequent problem:

A green light sweeps over one of the towers, scanning the maybe-text. << Pattern analysis complete. Text identified. Translating. Error. Access to linguistic database entry denied. >>

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar gives out a low whistle as he places something, his voice is pitched low not a whisper, but a respectful quiet like a church or a morgue. "This place... I can't smell anything, no animals, plants, pollen must, no rot. Nothing alive. It's... sterile and not the freshly bleached clean way."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Xi'an is struck with a moment of whimsy as she reaches out with her mind, the violet level-crackles of a halo appearing around her head again. Perhaps I should propose we name it New Hanoi. Or Grey's Planet. Maybe I should ask James, surely he would have -

Something. Her nose twitches.

"I do not detect anything hostile, /now/," Shan says. Her hand not near the gun raises upwards, as if she is reaching faintly for something. "But there was someone here... recently."

"I don't know how recently. This place is so silent. I do not think it was very long, but I cannot say it was moments ago. A... handful - no more than perhaps ten... two of them were stronger than the others. One of them was furious, chaotic. Like if Wolverine and Warlock were merged, I suppose."

A moment passes.

"The other was quite... how do you say it... smug? And there is a sense of... triumph? Of success."

The halo round Karma's head fades as she raises her gaze, frowning now. She DOES pull out the gun, although in a 'I want this in my hand' sort of way. She does not raise it or point it at anybody in particular.

"Denied?" Karma then says, glancing at John. "Is that common for you?"

John Stewart has posed:
As he floats there, John stares at the text. Then, he floats back down towards the others, and his eyes narrow slightly, "Quarantined and the database refuses to tell me anything." John muses, before he turns in place and looks to Karma, "No, this is the first time it's ever blocked me." John brings up the ring and stares at it with his own glowing green eyes...

"We're supposed to be peacekeepers and protectors. How am I supposed to know how to handle myself if I don't know anything about this place?" The rhetorical question is tinged with undisguised anger. "Whatever the problem is, it's just made my job here a lot harder." He floats down to the ground, then aims his ring upwards again... it glows bright green, and a field forms around him, with an opening. "Anyone who can't fly extremely fast, step in. I can take us all."

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Wolverine /and/ Warlock? Illyana's glowing eyes widen before they narrow, and she murmurs, "The echoes. Look for a trail of the echoes. Can you sense them to follow where we need to go?"

The Soulsword crackles silently in response to her mood, the illuminated halo shifting into a steadier white-gold. "One happy and one not. It would not suggest they were necessarily in agreement with one another?"

Wouldn't that be nice to work to their advantage.

The silver thread flowing around her might normally be visible only to another wizard or sorcerer, but no pointy hats are needed to catch its ephemeral presence. She sketches two sharp diagonal lines through the arc of her right hand, and afterimages of faint diamond facets fold and ripple in front of her. Incantations verbally aren't entirely her style as with other practitioners, and here is something so engrained as to be practically reflexive. Grow up with an immortal demon sorcerer in his accursed library, the talent for reading the forbidden comes fairly quick.

Especially when those books bite.

<<Oshtur, lend them the wisdom denied by a database.>> She tips her head, staring up into the stars as she invokes the elder goddess of the Vishanti who holds some claim over her brighter soul. Then she drops languidly into John's ring of flight..

"That is good to know, we are next to a fourteen-digit-long intersection. They like their research here." An idle tone becomes amused. "Very Soviet. Power Distribution Junction? If things go odd, we could investigate power tunnels as a terrible idea for moving around unrestricted?"

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar smiles amused, chuckling just a little as Yana works her magic, literally. He steps closer and pats John on the shoulder consolingly. "Yeah, she does that. It's kinda her thing, are you familiar with the wizards are hackers of reality theory of magic? Cause, she's got a workaround for everything. She did to my nose once. Have you ever smelled Thursday? I could." He shakes his head. "Peacekeepers and protsctors? How often dors that workout?" There's a note of wry curiosity from the Apache. Jim watches and listen to Karma but he notes her drawing the gun with a degree of concern not enough to draw his own weapon.

Jean Grey has posed:
"Smug triumph sounds like my brother," Lilandra is willing to wager. Personal biases aside, it fits the narrative they've been given.

As before, the investigative efforts show how different methodologies may converge toward a singular result, but also face unique challenges. John's ring instantly recognizes the language... and yet refuses to translate it in accordance with some Oan bureaucratic principle. A technological triumph, and a technological frustration born of the same. Meanwhile, though Illyana must call on a somewhat more exotic sort of aid, and the results may depend on her balance of favor with one of countless arcane powers, the result is more straightforward.

And as it turns out, the text is quite mundane.

But it is useful. She can now hazard toward the directions of various transportation doohickeys, not that they do not possess their own means. She can work out what panels might open doors, versus accessing public information kiosks, although as before none of these seem powered. She can also spot signs (and the equivalent iconography of arrows, indicating the direction of their current transit and its opposite) along the hub road with a variety of labels.

As they get closer, sped along on their lofty green chariot-disc, the number of things listed ahead of them becomes (logically) shorter and those behind longer. "EES Research Facility" may sound promising.

Then they come across something strange. Reaching an intersection in the road, an obelisk is set in the CENTER. A place that would seem to be a hazard to the morning commute.

It too has text:
DANGER: Radiation Quarantine Zone

The obelisk, though it is similar to all the others in construction material, does have the sense of being a later addition. It also has a screen and some buttons. Naturally, among many threats, John's ring would warn them about lethal radiation, and fails to do so, in contradiction to the sign.

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Karma's brow knits in some concern. This is a place that the Green Lantern ring blocks out? "You have been doing this for a while, haven't you? I mean to say that you've encountered a lot of things," she continues, even if she, for a number of reasons, immediately boards the Big Green Express.

"I can sense where they went. The smug one in particular... it's like a strong perfume and too much of it," Karma answers Illyana. "But fortunately enough, we are following in their footsteps. They were going towards the center."

She glances at the blonde. "Are they tunnels holding wires, or do they carry lethal plasma?"

She glances away as Omnipotent Oshtur's aid is invoked... and at least Oshtur can reach here! There is a momentary twinge of subtle startlement on the psi-link as she finds she can read all of the signs. She looks up, around, wonderingly.

"You're right," she says. "It is a little Soviet."

"I apologize very much to ask you so many questions," Karma then says to Lilandra. "I know it isn't very polite of me, but: Do you think it is likely that your brother, he would leave traps for those who might come in his wake?"

John Stewart has posed:
As they approach the quarantine zone, John stops outside of it, floating there. "Faded away?" John muses aloud. Then, he aims the ring in that general direction. "Ring, scan area. Analysis of potential threats, natural or otherwise. Especially radiation."

Then, he glances to the others, "We've been keeping our universe safe for a very long time, so I'd say pretty well, with only a few exceptions. We have members of the Corps all over the universe. There are thousands of us. I'm just the Green Lantern assigned to Earth's sectors. I'm sure there's someone here, if we want to chance getting out of the barrier to contact them."

Jean Grey has posed:
"Actually... no," Lilandra tells Xi'an, passing over the apology for any persistence on her part. "My brother is an arrogant narcisist. If that's him you have sensed, that triumph... he must feel, in his mind KNOW, that he's won. Indeed, it may be the truth, and we may be too late. But the power he's in pursuit of, it dwarfs all his, our, any of our prior squabbles and struggles. The invasion of your planet, his war of succession with his sister, even our conflicts with the Kree. Imagine marching to your ascension... and pausing to lay a mine behind you."

The woman shrugs, then, and gestures to John who is thorough in his scanning. "Still, the wiser move."

John's ring reports obediently (again, and for now): << Zero lifeforms. One energy source. Equivalent to Central battery. >>

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
"Your brother reminds me too much of mine." Lilandra's brother is not getting a flattering comparison here by the littlest Rasputina. Neither is she likely pulling a meterstick out to compare the Shi'ar to a sensitive Russian artist who occasionally likes to stand allosaur tall and proud. "They are all well and good until they cease to act humane, and you have to put them back in line. Or a long trench in the ground, though they do not like to stay there often."

Pragmatism by way of Russian fatalism might not translate even with help from Karma and Warpath.

She eyes the radiation sign somewhat dubiously. "We left our energy eater at home. Where is Alex when you need him? Never a Summers brother out to help." Oh, Yana, why? Her gaze slants up and away to the obelisk, distrustful of any pointy needle for reasons on par with carrying a large, flaming pointy needle of her own. "Those tunnels may be filled, but worth considering for escape or hiding. Not my first choice, of course."

The helpful information of traps and mines gets a smirk. <<I would,>> she opines in Russian. Then anew to English. "I could look inside and see, but that could release radiation between one side or the other."

John Stewart has posed:
There's another long stare towards the direction the ring checked, and John looks to the ring. "Ring, confirm energy source. Scan for active Lantern conduits in dimensional lattice, equivalent to Lantern Power Battery conduits." John's casual tone is gone. Whatever this is, it's got him alarmed, almost panicked.

Jean Grey has posed:
The ring responds. << Repeating scan, increasing diagnostic level. Source confirmed. Equivalent or in excess of Central Battery. Spectrum: White. No external conduits detected. Minor energy lattice perturbance detected and increasing. Calculating rate. Logarithmic increase. >>

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
John's explanation makes Karma's face tense for a moment. She wonders at herself. Fatigue, she decides, probably. James would likely be able to tell that she was surprisingly close to snapping a reply, and her more peaceable remark may suggest why. "I suppose that you are... focused on things rather larger than the affairs of a single planet, then? Big things, not... the matters in the street. It would be better if there were more of you, I suppose."

"I could have seen my own brother doing this," Karma answers Lilandra, "but I do not think he was quite the same sort of personality." She also glances at Illyana again, briefly puzzled. She is certainly not thinking of the same brother Illyana is.

"So it is as powerful as that object you used to charge your ring?" Karma then hazards, after the brief man-and-ring conversation.

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar sniffs the air and frowns, "They were here. I can smell them, several Shi'ar and a human..." he defly removes a zipper plastic bag from his backpack and takes a whiff, shaking his head, "Not Jean, probably the mutant who was with D'Ken in Annondale?" He puts the bag away. "You want I should reconnoiter?" Yes, yans's the teleporter but when you don't have a ninja, some times an Apache will just have to do.

    This talk brothers makes Jim frown, and take a deep breath, "John's alive, we fought three versions of him at the mansion, clones I think." John purses his lips, "They were better than John, stronger, faster, but they spoke Apache, they knew the katas... the John I know would not have done this but-" He shugs and sighs. "Problems for later."

He listens to the rings technobabble and Shan's analysis, "So, that's the prize? Anyone else wishing Gambit was here?"

Illyana Rasputina has posed:
Ring-speak projected at them gives the Russian blonde pause. Her brow wrinkles slightly, and her teeth are bared by the curl of her black-painted lip. It may be as much Xi'an's response as parsing through the technicalities. "Does that mean the battery in there has more energy and is about to blow?"

Her gaze narrows again, peering beyond the veil for anything arcane. Magic seems an unlikely hack here, but there can still be the off chance of something going in their favour. A thought cast into the void of star-dappled night around them sets back to the traumatized woman looking for her family, the raptors in the sky, and she breathes out a long, frustrated breath. Guilt is an odd sensation to live with, but a part of her does. The redhead deserves better. They may not have done enough; she has not.

"Something is coming." Paranoia or precognition plays out. "I do not advocate diving headlong into trouble." But she is totally advocating! "We better prepare to act, yes? I assume whatever is here sensed us since the beginning, if there is something. Now do we wave and say hello or dive for cover?" What cover they have, another matter. James' offer is one she nods to. "Go ahead. I see you, and you can bounce into the lake if it comes to that."

John Stewart has posed:
"The power battery I used is just a conduit. This is a source itself." John looks to the others, one at a time, "I honestly have no idea what we're about to find here. I've never encountered the White spectrum before. As you may have noticed, we use the Green. Keep close, if this is spectrum radiation... I'll probably be the only thing that can protect you all from it."

Then, John looks to James, "With me, you have a chance of escape if things go wrong. You're the tracker. Are they going in that direction?" John points directly towards the energy source, "I don't know what the mutant you mentioned does, but I can tell you that a Central Battery explosion would probably crack this planet like an egg."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
Karma frowns when she finds out she was not understanding the ring correctly.

"If that mutant is with them, I will try to get him, of course," Karma continues, tightening up her grip on the weapon - she seems to have determined it is best used one handed, or else she doesn't know her way around an alien blasto gun at all. "If not... the one in the back."

On the question of what EXACTLY they may do, her eyes flick to Lilandra.

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar chuckles and gives John a nod, "They are, I appreciate your concern." James nods to Yana, and taps the side of his head, then points at Shan's temple inviting her along, " Go to ground, I'll be back." He takes off at a run, moving inhumanely fast, slow campared to the likes of Flash or Superman but still impressive and silent, he gets halfway down the block and springs like a grasshopper for the nearest ledge moving easily from building to building staying off the roads, staying out of sight, watching for traps and stragglers, moving along the path they followed.

Jean Grey has posed:
Showing the flexible capability of the ring, it actually speaks up to answer Illyana here: << Correction. Growth curve suggests rapid increase toward a self-limiting plateau. This pattern is common to natural processes. >>

Which may, in itself, provide a certain contrast to the rest of this place, this 'Soviet-like' science city where nature seems all but totally extinguished from the equation.

There is scouting to be done, and it proves a simple enough task. The boulevard, despite the abrupt imposition of the newly-added sign in the middle, continues, wide and clear. But they are quite close to the end. They pass more of the same buildings, more of the same signs. And then there is just one sign: EES RESEARCH - FACILITY 1

The quarantine field, the warning signs, all have pointed to a certain past apocalypse. One might expect a crater, but then again, John has a point: if this was a blow up-y kind of incident, there would be no ancient and derelict city, almost perfectly preserved. There would be no barrier, and be no planet. Mayhbe there would be an asteroid field, although likely, even if that much material had survived, in all these eons gravity would have carried that debris along to its next stage in the cosmic life-cycle. The preserved, protected planet they stand on suggests a different kind of story.

The facility, as it turns out, is a dome, crafted of some transparent material so that its contents are visible not long after they approach. In a way, it recalls the hellish ampitheater of their recent journey, except fit to the technological aesthetic, with a tiered kind of structure built around a central platform, and a variety of instrumentation, emiters and scopes, set all around and aimed toward the center. Upon the platform, sits a certain kind of high-tech ark or cradle, with claw-like digits arranged to stabilize its contents:

A crystal, pink-hued, and about the size of a car. It pulses faintly, as if with a heartbeat.

There is an entry to the facility itself, an archway built into the side of the dome facing the street. It is a bit above street level, reached by steps. Upon the steps, are a squad of Shi'ar soldiers. Or, rather, their bodies.

John Stewart has posed:
As James goes off on his own, John starts to fly towards the source as well, trying to use whatever is around to hide behind as he flits through the city.

Once he's near the dome, John looks down to the dead soldiers, "Does this planet have a Shi'ar outpost?" John asks of Lilandra as he aims his ring for the crystal. "That's the source. Don't go near it without my protection."

As John drops down to the ground around the soldiers, the field drops around him... then, he aims his ring at the entry and projects some sort of half dome at it, "a spectrum shield. Just in case."

Xi'An Coy Manh has posed:
"Ah, be careful, they could be --" Another moment of the violet halo round her head.

"They're dead, Green Lantern," says Karma a moment later.

She does not rush in. She is probably the most fragile X-Man in the team. But she does not step back, either.

"The crystal... it seems almost... alive."

James Proudstar has posed:
James Proudstar comes back from a lap of the building, his breathing only the slightest bit heavier. He kneels next to the bodies , taking them in, he isn't nearly the forensic scientist Hank is but might pick up any obvious cues, "There's no wounds, they weren't attacked... by physical means. Everything is quiet."

Jean Grey has posed:
"There is no outpost," Lilandra declares.

Once she has made this pronouncement, and used the last of the flight-enhancement from the ring to land near the steps, Lilandra gives a purposeful heft of her staff, and strides forward, glancing down at her dead kinsmen as she reaches them alongside of James. "These are members of the royal household guard. And I see no sign of my brother. Which means, very likely, he is already inside."

Inside... the crystal?

There is a moment to ponder their fate, but as is often the case in these matters, when one is left wondering, the universe provides answers. They have now all approached the dome, as close as the soldiers.

"Quarantine violation. Beginning primary decontamination. "

Actually, the words are gibberish... except for the echo, from a familiar source: << Quarantine violation. Beginning primary decontamination. >> Oh great, now it's translating.

A moment later, the city, once dead, is alive. Or at least, the structures nearest to the facility have sprung to life, dead elements lighting up, dead text panels suddenly backlit, surface elements glowing. And two of these, on either side of the street from the entrance, suddenly blast the same area where the Shi'ar died with light.

<< Radiation warning. >> Although the blast does not come from the crystal, where he was most focused, the ring saves them all the same. At least from instant death of the kind the Shi'ar seemingly enjoyed.

What may be more concerning is the parts on those obelisks that start to glow with a bit greater intensity, as if charging up for whatever 'secondary decontamination' proves to be.