15341/Not in the Brood

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Not in the Brood
Date of Scene: 15 July 2023
Location: Sanctum Santorum - Base Floor
Synopsis: The Brood have invaded Stephen Strange dreams. Sinister, Lucifer, and Nick enter the dream to remove them...
Cast of Characters: Doctor Strange, Lucifer, Sinister, Phantasm (Drago)

Doctor Strange has posed:
Stephen stood in the mirror letting cool water wash over his hands which he brought up to splash across his face, rubbing the palms back from the corners of his eyes as the last icy veins of the nightmare that'd woke him were slowly bleeding back into reality. If he stares to hard in the reflection, a reflection that actually stares back at him, he can still see his own twisted visage and hear the echo whispering voice of the telepathic voice in his mind.

The Sanctum wasn't lit by conventional illumination and it cast an omenous series of shadows on the room behind him. Things crawled in that darkness. Shapes that took on malevolent forms and clawed at the boundries of dream and reality, but he was hardly frightened by the things that go bump in the night. "I don't have time for this." He says in a seething voice, turning to face whatever may have been drug out from his dreams bare chested and in sleeping pants. "I am not in the mood."

One step brought him out of the bathroom connected to his bedroom, fingers sweeping outward to cast light onto every candle, blazing hotter than any flame. Enough to vanquish his own terrors given physical form. Save for that spidery whisper of a voice still in his head.

Once more alone, he looks to his cellphone laying on the counter beside his bed. Calling out to it that it leaps off the stand and into his palm. With a scroll through contacts, he hits send on a call to Lucifer.

"Hey. Doctor Strange... I believe we should probably meet. There have been some unforeseen developments that supercede any noncommittal inclinations I may have expressed before."
Lucifer has posed:
There's often a beauty that comes when one only needs to contemplate eyeballs in a horizontal position. Which means that when the phone goes off at nigh four am, one will be awake enough to hear it. Lucifer is in such a position so that he sits up and looks at his phone only to find a voicemail which he listens to. While he's hearing the voice of a potentially very stressed Stephen Strange, he reaches over to rouse Sinister before beginning the process of getting up and getting dressed.

"Get up. We need to make a visit to Doctor Strange at the Sanctum. He doesn't sound very happy either." Says the Devil to his lover while tossing on jeans and a black tee shirt that reads \<span class="bold_fg_r bg_n ++ hr"\>Don't Laugh, I Got This From Your Girlfriend\</span\> and boots. "I can get us there in a split second, obviously, but I need you up and at 'em."

So likely, once Sinister is up and dressed, the two will arrive at the Sanctum. Lucifer holding a bottle of top shelf gin in one hand and filling the Sanctum - however briefly - with a stench of sulfur and hellfire.
Sinister has posed:
The upside indeed, of not needing sleep, only rest for an hour or so, most of the time. Sinister's eyes cracked open as soon as Lucifer's phone went 'bing' because frnakly, it doesn't usually happen at four o'clock in the morning. At all. Ever. He is presentable in a flash of cascading metamorphosis and rises in black leather pants, waistcoat and shirt, collar undone to expose collarbone. What takes the most time, is collecting book, cellphone and making sure he doesn't look dishevelled.

The book is floated in his shadow as they arrive, gaze looking all the way up and around, settling on this and that with a deceptively nonchalant focus. "We come bearing the hair of the dog that didn't bite you, if that makes any difference..." and a sotto voce aside. "Is he ever particularly happy?"

Whether or not that question goes answered or not, the book behind the geneticist flips open to particular pages and a small ribbon snakes into the leaves, before it shuts again.
Doctor Strange has posed:
It takes Strange very little time to get presentable, but he opts for far less of his regalia of station and instead dones robes from beside his bed, which he pulls tight with the silken waist string on his way down the stairs in house slippers. As if this weren't the Sanctum Santorum and he weren't the Sorcerer Supreme. With his hair slicked back rather than imaculately groomed, he's made his way to the study.

Which will be in complete disarray by the time his late night visitors have arrived.

With books thrown about on the floor rather than returned to their proper place only for another to be shucked from the shelf and loft in his arm to quickly flip through pages. Blue eyes scan, find not what he's searching, and toss it away. It's endless. And there's an endless supply of books for which he can litter the floor.

Until the familiar stench of sulfur and hellifre draws his attention at the same moment as Sinister's promise of the hair of the dog. "Excellent, good timing gentlemen." Without looking up his right hand extends out with the fingers curling and flicking outward to summon a side table. It doesn't so much slide across the floor as crawl upon its four wooden legs. Three glasses set atop it.

With Stephen stalking over with a look in his eyes that borders on wild. "I rarely admit this, so if you're carrying calenders it would be a good time to grab a pen, but I've made a very grievous error... WHICH.." Hoisting a finger, peering between them, "... could compound our issues exponentially. If I'm right about how grievous an error it is."
Lucifer has posed:
"I rarely make it a point to linger one place when I have been called to another." Lucifer says this much while looking at the state of the study. All the books in disarray as books have been unshelved in a manner of manic searching.

The table which makes its way over is pondered at for a moment before he sets the bottle of gin down upon it. Then, he waves a hand and - while he doesn't know where the books go - he can at least tidy them up into small stacks around the room to bring some sort of calm after the storm into the study.

"Is this the part where I point out that, even as Sorcerer Supreme, you are by far and large not perfect? Or is this more where I tilt my head, gesture at you, and request that you continue to explain just what you're talking about?" This asked as he uncaps the gin and pours three glasses of the stuff. It's a decent elderflower gin that could be sipped upon rather than mixed with things - even though one could mix it as well.

"So. What's going on Stephen. Explain this...grievous error...to us."
Sinister has posed:
Sinister's feiry regard settles on Strange as he makes his declarations, yet at the same time, his right hand lifts and twirls singularly. Fingers do a subtle weave and discarded books not being placed in piles, begin to dance and some to drift back to where they belonged; the ones that he observed, however fleetingly, in their original spots that is.

Blame the Obsessive compulsive impulses to be orderly.

Those that he did not are paraded briefly before his gaze, flicked to covers and spines as the glowing red regard is, to place them back from memory -- the process is actually remarkably quick, which begs the question of just how much does Sinister tend to remember from chance meetings and glances about. There's probably still going to be one or two errors, but whilst the study is all 'sorceror's apprentice' and he the mickey mouse in this caper, he tilts his head to listen to the response.

"Well, my dear Doctor, I shall give you credit for being thoroughly apocryphal in your lament of error. Indeed, pray tell."
Doctor Strange has posed:
Stephen is already flipping the pages of another large book laid across his arm when Lucifer, in Lucifer's way, he isn't perfect. "I accept that." From very few people, but in this instance he's not even offering up argument to the facts. "In my defense, I did say I knew very little about the Brood. So in a way, this is as much your fault as mine." There's Stephen, not letting himself go down as the sole beneficiary of guilt in the matter.

"For instance." The book snaps shut in his palm and floats over to sit upon one of the careful stacks Lucifer has errect of his mess. "Did either of you know that they slept?" Back and forth, arms laid across his robe covered chest. "Now that would have been useful information to have... /I/ was under the impression that I was containing drones and that they would have no direct contact with their hive mind beyond the boundries of this reality. That's what I was led to believe."

One hand unfolds, snapping as he sucks his teeth, "So I sent them to a place I thought, for certain, they were incapable of being reconnected to the hivemind. The Dream Scape." He lets that fact settle in. "Brilliant, right? Of course it was.. except, a Queen, somewhere.. and it doesn't matter where.. has fallen asleep. Which gives her an all access pass to a whole army of drones." His brow flirts upwards, "And into sleeping peoples mind."

"In short, gentleman, we have a fucking problem."
Lucifer has posed:
"Don't look at me. I'm just here to be the power house when things need to be done that mere mortals cannot achieve." Lucifer says this but then he looks over towards Sinister. "Did you know they slept? I thought they were dormant. Not sleeping, not active, just...." Well dormancy is a kind of sleep, and they likely killed the queen that had been here in the area.

Lucifer brings a hand up to his forehead to rub there a moment. "So are these people staying asleep then? Or are they being infected, woken up, and then the brood change them while awake?"

In either case, he looks from Stephen, to Sinister, and back again. Then he looks up at the ceiling and then pulls out his phone. "Either way. We're going to need the Phantasm..."
Sinister has posed:
"And myself," Sinister observes to Lucifer, frowning slightly. "Yes, I knew they slept. All living creatures do, that are originally of a base form that requires it. And a great many creatures do require it -- the brood you handled into the dreamscape were transitioning from human, so they had the capacity for dreaming and the brood virus absorbs any gift or ability of the original host." He folds his arms, narrowing his gaze as he looks into the middle distance, head tilting just slightly.

It is impossible to tell if his gaze moves in the manner a human's would in rapid thought, as there's no distinguishing focus to attest to where his pupil is, but there's a measure of tension about the eyelids.

And then he begins pacing, a rapid back and forth with flock of books still streaming to their original homes. He begins stroking his chin and tapping his index finger just below his lip.

Doctor Strange has posed:
"They most certainly do sleep becaue I saw one." In agreement with Sinister, "And I don't know for certain, but I highly suspect that they will, in fact, be able to spread through dreams." Stephen admits to Lucifer's question, "I definitely felt an attempt from something to telepathically invade my mind tonight. I was able to force it back, but I doubt that your typical Mundane will be as capable or lucky." Another book floats away from him to set upon a pile. There does seem to be an order to it now that he's not in a mad rush. Pausing in his search long enough to cross over to the table where the gin has been poured so that he can have a bit of the hair of the dog they'd promised.

"It's a Dream Scape. Rules are different in there... A Queen connects to a drone and it can 'make' it a Queen. With a Queen in that plain? It could Infest the entire realm.. and then spread like locust. An invasion that nobody will ever see coming and very few people can stop." The contents of the glass are drained in a single mouthful, held for a second, and then swallowed while he turns the empty glass in his hand.

"It should take time for them to realize that, how long I couldn't possibly know. These things are as smart as the people they take over. I doubt that they realize it yet, however. I believe it attacked me only because I was the one to send them there. A direct link back to this reality, but as soon as it figures out what it can do from where it's at?" His brow furrows, pointing at the gin questioningly before pouring himself another glass.

"This is why I don't dabble in Cosmic Entities. They muddy the water."
Lucifer has posed:
"Well. We at least have an ace in the hole. We know someone who can enter the dream realm. And I can enter it with him. Of course, we'd need an anchor to enter and exit the dream world from." Lucifer says this as he finishes with something on his phone before pocketing it again. "And I just sent him a text, but I really doubt he'll answer his phone at no way in hell o'clock. So until then..." He has to think on this, really think on it. In some ways, he's been able to enter the dream world on his own but that's really only been in a specific setting - mostly centered around Sinister's mindscape. Something on a more broad field?

He would really want Nick there to help him out.

"An unknown amount of time to stop an unknown number of sleeping beasties from infecting the gods know how many people? Piece of cake. Just a regular Saturday for us, right Nathaniel?" He's trying to make a joke of it. Morbidly so. But such is the way of the Devil.

"Does this also mean you're having trouble sleeping? Because the beasties won't stay out of your head? Also, I suppose you could call them cosmic entities but they were earthbound for a moment and you were the resident toss them into some random place until we find an answer person."
Sinister has posed:
"The rest of them are still being held in stasis. The crevace beneath Manhattan is holding firm with my stasis fields in place -- but the princess locked in there with her two drones from the original planet of origin, if -she- got out, we would be having issues. No stasis field is completely and utterly timeless, with potentially the exception of yours, Strange. But mine is close --" Sinister exhales, as Lucifer goes about sending out for the one-pony cavalry.

The pacing stops and something changes in the pale geneticist; emotions, though usually present and muted on him, with suitable victorian decorum and occasional sassy quippishness... drains away entirely.

"I have an idea. Quite a number of them in actual fact and I can think of half a dozen potential solutions or at least, how shall I put this... weapons." The tone is matter of fact also, dispassionate.

And then, an almost wistful sigh. "I have to be /merciful/ don't I?"
Doctor Strange has posed:
"I can certainly provide an anchor." Stephen confirms, finishing the second glass and setting it down on the table. "I excel where there's no rules to follow." Which brings him back to his search, because a plan is being formed. What he needs right now is a bandaid. His hand extends and another book pulls from the shelf into it, pages leafing quickly as he peers down at the words until he stops it with a finger laid against the binding.

"Not exactly the most elegant way of assuring I don't become infected, but since I'm currently the only one whom the Queen has any direct link until she realizes the infinite scope of the new realm?" The words he speaks are not the pleasant kind. It's not demonic either, but an ugly language. Humans shouldn't hear it, which neither of them are, so it sounds like infection smells.

With his hand out stretched, painting symbols in the air that alternate between a disturbing shade of green that boils from the end of his finger like unholy fire and something like pustulant white that froths and bubbles as it drips from the air. It's a short spell, but a paticular one. And it leaves Strange looking far darker for having cast it. With deep shadows appearing beneath his blue eyes and a pallor to his skin. The book snaps shut and he collapses into a chair like a sack of rocks.

"I've separated myself from the dream realm... at least my need to enter it. But all living things have to sleep." Pointing at Nathan who'd said as much himself, "Before this-" Waving a hand at the general death like state of his face, "-becomes permanent."

His vibrant blue eyes have a thin milky white film across them when looking between the pair. "I'll begin work on constructing an anchor here at the Sanctum. I can't go out like this anyways, so it'll give me something to do with my time. Shouldn't take long..." Turning over and looking at his wrist watch. "I would, however, suggest leaving mercy at the door because everything sleeps... things that we don't want to wake up and certainly don't want infected by the brood."

His hand lands on the gin. "I'm keeping this."
Lucifer has posed:
"...I didn't quite mean for you to do anything drastic right NOW." Lucifer balks a little because he really would like Nick to be here for this part. The little raven on his shoulder that helps anchor him to the anchor. But then again... he's Lucifer Fucking Morningstar. This should be a walk in the park for him.

Plus, he'll have Sinister with him this time... and they've done things in other realms that none would dare talk about. Him going all Archangel in the VoidScape. All Devil in MojoWorld. There's not really a dimension that can keep him at bay.

"You were meant to keep the gin, by the by. It's my gift to you." He offers this much and then glances over to Nathaniel and watches. Simply watches. For a brief moment. "Whatever you're planning. That. And then some. This needs to end, and we need to end it. However that needs to be done. There's no mercy for those who show none themselves and the brood have proven that they give no quarter...they infest, they drain, and they move on. Kill them all." There's a pause and a grin.

"The gods can sort them out."
Sinister has posed:
Sinister's ears listen and his eyes see. Strange has cast himself into living death, for the dead mind dreameth not - Check. The devil hath a vengeful side unlike any and all things, for the punishment of the wicked or those he perceives to be unclean - check. And neither the sorcer supreme or the archangel of the light are the kinds of individuals that when it comes to this sort of endeavor, would say 'wait, no, you can't, you shouldn't, you mustn't, it's WRONG!'

Which leaves Sinister smiling a smile that has not oft been seen in the last while.

"You know," he says conversationally, matter of factly, almost jovially "...I am almost immune to the scrambling and confusing effect of the Brood hivemind. There's a reason for that, which I'm fairly sure my dearest Luci is at least slightly aware." He glances to the devil and smiles that wicked smile all the brighter.

"I have here with me, the greatest sorceror on earth and one of the quintessential sources of all things Magi, if one is to believe the truth of that. What I require my good fellows, is energy. Gestahlt--" His face seems to vibrate, then with a motion almost like an amoeba splitting itself, he separates into two Sinisters. Closing his eyes, there's another, then another split, until there's sixteen of him.

Eerily, his voice speaks out of the various different mouths in a contiginous sentence, from all directions as the ring of Sinisters moves to encircle the mystics.

"I have been splitting my mind a thousandfold, for centuries. I know how to control a hive. And I know how to destroy one."
Doctor Strange has posed:
Stephen points at Lucifer encouraging the wholesale slaughter of these abdominations. They're Cosmic Entities, whether they've been on Earth or not. It's fair, perhaps cruel, but fair, Stephen doesn't consider them valuable as life. Let alone due to their complete disregard for all existance aside from infestation. Oh no, these things have to 'go'.

"Yes, yes..." Waving a hand gently to Lucifer, "Collect Nick, we'll fill him in. This is a bandaid, not a solution. There's not enough coffee in the Multiverse to keep me awake when I'm tired and I have very little interest in being infested with bugs." So he'll be Undead for a little while. See how the other-half doesn't live. A cold smile over dingy teeth. At least there's no decomposition, yet.

Nor has the pallor spread much beyond what had already begun. Though his milky white eyes peer at the sudden splitting of Sinister into a host of him speaking in a unison that would be creepy... if he weren't Doctor Strange, who is currently Undead, and this weren't the Sanctum Santorum. "Energy. Energy I can do." His hand slaps down on the counter and comes up with a fly in between his fingers, which he tosses into his mouth. "... well that's ironic."
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
Be it good fortune, the sense that someone was talking about him, or perhaps the exchange of text messages rife with typos from a bleary headed Nick. The task of collecting Nick becomes much simpler as a bird simply flies through the door of the Sanctum. Likely not a trick most would attempt but being that he's 'expected' and he's had prior reasons to come in like that. The Sanctum tolerates this entrance.

For now.

The bird flips forward, growing in size before a wild haired man appears, stepping forward upon the fine floor. Pale eyes look to the gathering before the visual shifts, form mirroring back and the dark shadowy attire soon being replaced by sleep pants and a hastily thrown on shirt. The hair is still a bit wild, bordering between being featured on the cover of a certain novel and bed head.

Based from the tired look, it is most likely the latter.

Nick looks over to Lucifer. "So...what is the problem?"
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer is about to say something. But then Sinister is becoming a horde. And Strange is becoming more and more corpse-like by the minute. Which will likely leave the explaining to Lucifer.

Here we go.

"So you remember when we were below the city and we boarded up a few of the brood but Strange sent a number of them to that other dimension? Welllll....it turned out he sent them to the Dream Scape and now there's a queen somewhere that went to sleep, so the Brood that were sleeping in the dreamscape are now connected to the dreaming queen and it's trying very hard to infect people. In their dreams. They tried with Strange. But he kicked them out of his head..."

Pause for sinking into the brain.

"Sooooo now we've decided that we're just going to go after them all, in the dreamscape, with a vengence. Strange is going to be our anchor, Sinister is going to kill them all with some sort of Sinister nuke type action but we need you to be able to guide us safely in so we can do the thing and then back out once it's done. And then we'll likely have to come up with plan Zed in getting rid of the brood that remains here both under Manhattan and inside Sinister's prison cell for the infected but not quite turned yet. Anyway, it's all coming to plan but just quicker and with more deadly force than we originally anticipated."

Another pause.

"There's also gin. If you want a glass. Did I miss anything?"
Sinister has posed:
"Quite," one of the Sinisters gazes at the fly-catching with a look of distaste, but another of him chuckles. Several of them look at Nick with a dispassionate regard, but not with antagonism. Multiple throats say the entire sentence to the musician-actor in complete synchronicity, which does lend itself to being a little on the creepy side. "I am liable to do things that you disapprove of. In this instance, I neither care, nor want to brook argument. You may choose to hold me accountable later, but that is your choice to make." Several of them gesture to Lucifer and to Strange.

"Attend to what you must do. You do not need to take me along for the ride, I am fully capable of going where we need to go without your aid..."

It isn't that the world gets dark around them, but it seems to become insubstantial, or... perhaps it is Sinister himself that becomes harder to see, but he can be felt, heard and sensed /literally/ /all/ /around/. There's sixteen of him and the walls he usually holds up, they are disintegrating one by one.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
Nick glances to the Sin-full horde and the to th-

THe musician blinks at Doctor Strange's appearance before glancing back to Lucifer. Once the dreamscape is mentioned once again, Nick's head quickly turns to look at Strange. "...You did what?!"

Fortunately Lucifer's continuation of the explanation doesn't leave room for Nick to continue waiting for response. He listens to the general plan, glacing to Strange and Sinister once more. "Will what is planned only affect the Brood?"
Doctor Strange has posed:
Seated in a stuffed arm chair, Strange looks like death warmed over. The bags beneath his eyes have deepened significantly, even since the spell was cast. Sallow and sunken as he peers around from behind the milky film that's covering his usually vibrant blue gaze. "They were but a few drones when I sent them to the Dream Scape." Said from a croaking throat to Nick's question. One hand absently swirling a glass of gin that he doesn't actually drink.

In fact, the look on his face when he lifts it is one of distaste. Which is in direct contract to his earlier commentary. "A few drones would have been little concern, the problem arose when a dorment queen was able to reconnect with them.. And that problem only grows exponentially the longer she remains dormant.. if she were to... well.." Glass held out towards Nick, finger extending. "I certainly need not tell you how convoluted a situation we'll be in if a Brood Queen figures out how to assault people in their dreams, mmm?"
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer shrugs his shoulders. "We don't know. Honestly. But...we're also at a point where we can't take that into consideration. The brood need to be destroyed. There now and here when we're done with there. If a person is infected already well..." Lucifer shrugs. For the first time he's showing the apathy he can hold. Something needs to be done, the consequences of the actions are minimal to the whole of the idea.

"Trying to stop it before they can infect anyone in the dream scape is key...but we're losing time standing here talking about it. Strange is the anchor, I'm the key and that..." He motions to the multi-sins, "Is the nuke I'm detonating within."
Sinister has posed:
Each Sin holds their arms, palm up and bent at the elbow, toward the ceiling, heads tilted back and eyes closed. They all of them, one by one, begin to levitate from ground zero, becoming more indistinct as they go. One voice in all throats now suggests: "If you are coming, come. I will not wait and I will not be merciful..."

Red energy forms a shield around them all, then one by one, pairs of eyes open, brilliantly aflame as he stares off into middle space.

Other than that, nothing much actually happens. At least not in the physical.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
Nick considers the possibility. "In theory you could probably influence uh, broodish behavior and trap people in comas, but wouldn't the actual act of turning someone into a drone require a more physical element? Are you thinking they might influence their victims to seek out the queen for that step?"

Nick is full of questions. What's being suggested doesn't make sense to him but Lucifer does have a point in that the time spent figuring out the nuances of what's going on means the Brood's getting a head start in causing problems. Either via dream or manipulation, there's the danger to others.

The musician gives a sigh. His figure mirrors itself, hair growing wild and clothing becoming less fabric like. Taking a few steps forward, he somersaults forward. Form shifting once more before the familiar raven appears.

The bird lands upon Lucifer's shoulder. "Alright."

Debates about moral decisions are fine and good but when there's a condensed timer, sometimes the worst decision to do is nothing at all.
Doctor Strange has posed:
Bones creak when Strange moves to stand up from his seat after putting the glass back down on the table. It's not that it takes a lot of effort, but it certainly appears to. Even more so when he starts to construct the symbols in the air with one waving, circling hand. A dusky hued purple energy glows around his spendly fingers, left hand back until he's completed the intricate weave that will anchor the company headed into the dream scape.

At which point he waves his left hand forward and expands both out from a sitting palms together, throwing the spherical glow outward until it cascades off the walls and blankets over the natural light of the burning candles. Along the walls, images from across the barrier between reality and Dream are just out of focus. A bridge, back from the other side that collapses into his palms when he puts them together like two pieces of a puzzle.

"In theory, yes. To become Brood, as far as all I've read, it requires physical contact. But in the dream realm, none of that really matters because the rules are entirely different. A Brood Queen of enough power could use their telepathy to alter thought patterns while an individual slept. It could become whatever it wanted to be, while there. And I don't intend to find out.. specifically because the reverse is true." Staring from the sunken pits of his eyes.

"I've established a bridge back.. which, for now, can only be used by you lot. That is subject to change drastically the longer it stays connected, as all things do. So don't dilly dally, mm? Chop chop, time's'uh wastin'."
Lucifer has posed:
"Great. Now will you please sit back down so we can get started? You need to be still." Cause Lucifer doesn't want anything fucking up. He waits, and once Strange is seated and all but dead again he does as he's been instructed to in the past.

He closes his eyes and listens to the raven on his shoulder. Nick will guide him into the dream world at first and let him know when it's safe to open his eyes once more. Until then, he's blind and prepares himself for the loss of other senses once he's within the dream world itself.
Doctor Strange has posed:
The Dreams of Doctor Strange are a truly disturbing place. There's no amount of willpower that can prevent the subconscious from bringing repressed memories forward... and as the group land upon the dream scape, it's taken on the form of a frozen lake. In every direction, as far as the eye can see, is a sheen of blue ice that wooob wooob with a hollow warble on every step. Every adjustment of weight.

Beneath the surface are faces. Hollow eyes staring up through that thin layer of ice as they float along a cool river running beneath the surface. Everything beyond the immediate surrounding is dark except the glow of a single lantern that could be ten feet away or ten miles.. Distance is abstract in this place. And the sky itself is hardly sky at all. Above them is more land, as if the world is folded in upon itself to show the same location in another season. Waves gently rolling, the faces bobbing in the water with no more life. Though they do appear to be talking to one another, despite it being silent except the unsteady, thin eyes, warbling awkwardly underfoot.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
The pair are mutually quiet as the phantasm upon the shoulder glances about for said dream to get them IN. There's a bit of a wait while the way in gets settled, and goes into a dead sleep.


Quit groaning. You know that was funny.

Once there is a place TO go to, the general sensations Lucifer was introduced to before are reintroduced, taking away the sense of smell, touch, and taste. Then it is time


Attentive eyes focus upon the view within the dream, taking in the surroundings before making some small adjustments so that Lucifer doesn't find himself standing in a table.

" Two steps to the right.... One more. Stop."

Content that he will not accidentally cause for his friend to bisect himself, the bird gives a small smile. "You may open your eyes now."

He waits a few moments to allow the devil to take in the view of the icy dream, glad for the lack of certain senses. "Funny enough, I don't have much variety in dreams." The bird muses, looking up the the land all around. "...I feel like I'm in Rendezvous with Rama right now...If you see any tripod spiders, stay away from them."
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer walks forward when told, then takes two steps to the right. One more. Stops. When he's told he can open his eyes he does and he looks around. Smell, touch and taste are gone. Meaning there is no sensation when he touches anything and the other two senses are just as useless. "Well this surely is no mind palace for Sinister... but it's still interesting..."

He decidedly doesn't look down, cause his writer said not to.

"Alright. Let's find the Sinisters and see how we can go about this the best way..." And forward he goes.
Sinister has posed:
The Sinisters are not that hard to find. There's only one physically here, but there's eight afterimagaes in parallel to his right and his left, stretching back into a fade that seems to be in close proximity and at the same time, stretches to the horizon. he's hovering over the lake, looking out with eyes that here are literally a'flame. He's wreathed in it. And not the pleasant life-giving fires of the Phoenix, but a kind of turbid, semi-sentient fire that roils about him, out from his eyes, over his cheeks, licking around his eyebrows liquescent.

His gaze takes in the sky, the other world in reflection and he briefly stares back at the arrival of raven and lightbringer.

"You are quite disturbed, Strange..." this to the ether and then, he is gazing at the horizon and stretching his hand out toward it.

It's a matter of dream logic and perspective that his fingers curl at the join of the world below and the world above, taking hold of the infinite horizon and pulling it toward them all, the sixteen shadows of himself doing likewise, a second behind one another, over and over.
    The vanishing point buckles inward and with a twist of his wrist, forms a doorknob style of shape. A moment, a pull and the door opens wide. Beyond are a thousand million stars, floating in the neverending black.

<<The trick is going to be finding the cancour in a sea of poisons and pleasures.>>
Doctor Strange has posed:
In his death slumber, Strange doesn't deny anything Sinister says.

He has enough trauma in his subconscious to make this a terrifying without the promise of Brood to give it something material to focus on. Like those faces floating above and below. The faces of family, one in particular who stares sightlessly as she continuously passes under foot as if on a loop.

It is, however, that distant light that they're after.

With Sinister pulling it towards them. Dream logic rarely has anything to do with physical distance. In the same way there's no real senses here, but what is imagined and created by the sleeper. The light pulls forward, looking like a single firefly moving a few inches until it expands outward in every direction to become the glow of a Surgical light pointed down on a patient laid out upon the table.

With a much younger Stephen in black surgical scrubs and mask operating. There's nobody else in the room with him, at least none visible in the deep shadows around the room. Except the person on the table... the same woman who had been floating beneath the ice. Staring with her unblinking eyes fixed on the ceiling.

Beneath the sheet laid up to just below her neck, her left hand twitches and falls out from beneath... the fingers are black, boney and covered in dark blue veins that disappear up her arm beneath the sheet.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
Considering the imagery it would be understandable to feel a bit squeamish to the imagery being displayed. But then one would have to consider the tourists involved. The visual of an operating room table is likely not to shake the core of another doctor. Nor would one dare to think the devil himself could not handle hellish images.

So that leaves the somewhat large bird resting upon the angel's shoulders.

What occurs is not fear or horror. The imagery, while grotesque is not a new thing to the dream traveler. Nightmares are dreams as well and it is his fate to traverse through all types of dreams. He's lost track of how many dreams of soldier's he's treked through. Fires, accidents, attacks...

What ends up getting to him is the repetition. A face that looks familiar to their host. Something of relation. The loss of family. It's a all to familiar sensation to him triggering a sense of empathy for the Doctor.

But right now there is the task at hand.

The raven clears his throat though he need not do such a thing. It just seems right considering things. But he doesn't say much. As far as he is aware, his only purpose is to loan his abilities out. Not much more than that.
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer stops in his tracks as the Sinisters have collectively brought the light closer. When the light reveals itself to be shining down on a surgical table, a young Stephen Strange there operating on a woman with a familiar visage he raises a brow. Then the hand drops down and Lucifer gestures. "Is that the queen? Does Strange have her in a sort of...stasis here?"

Or is everything about to go tits up and the lady with the open body on the table about to jump up and scream at them. He's not sure. He doesn't have a bead on the brood, the possible queen, or anything in here and nothing is going to just jump out and do a dance around them like catch me if you can.

Sinister has posed:
Right. "No," Sinister replies to Lucifer's inquiry. The Raven is given a glance and there's not a scrap of humanity in the gaze he gives to the man-made-bird. He then fixes on Strange's face in the dream, behind the surgical mask, behind the memory. He floats in close and reaches out a hand, fingers spread about the surgeon's face -- the hand becomes transluscent somehow, the dream image still able to look through, even as he is making his spread hand into a kind of net, touching third eye with thumb, index upon the temple and the rest spread around the jaw.

<<See her, Strange. See your turbulence beneath the surface. We need you to fall into the trauma hard. Open the way for her to come here. Show her the way.>> -- the thoughts are insistant, backed by at least two other minds of Sin whispering the suggestion as the surgeon stares upon the face of a loss. Of emotional weight.

His gaze though, falls upon the woman on the table, staring. <<We can hear you. We can -hear you- WECANHEARYOUYOUYOUYOU-ou-u-u....>> the echo of a mind that can broadcast unaided across a thousand miles, in gestahlt with itself sixteen fold over, blasts out through that particular focal point, into the dream.
Doctor Strange has posed:
The Young Stephen continues as if he's just a back ground image and close inspection would reveal that there's no operation actually taking place. He goes through the motions, sure, and in Stephen's mind it's incredibly detailed, but it's done without any instruments in had. When the thumb and forefinger touch upon his head, his blue eyes become milky white and glance around. Pale flesh spreading out from the point of contact with Sinister's hand with his lips moving to croak out words that sound far away, spoken through a fishbowl.

<"This is my sister."> He says this, eyes looking down at the woman laid on the table, <"She was much younger when she died.. but I recognize her."> The adult woman turns, staring up at Strange, the hand laid out from beneath the sheet twitches again then snaps out to grab his wrist. With a tug, she yanks him towards the table, displaces the sheet, and reveals the reflective surface of the table she's laid upon.

In the reflection is a darkened mirage of a Christmas morning as if recorded with a handheld cam-corder circa 89. An adult Strange sits in front of presents, though he's wearing pajamas. With the same corpsely woman propped up staring blanketly.

The reflection becomes their surroundings. The quality does not improve, but in the shadows beyond the glow from the Tree are the yellow eyes of something watching them... a hissing sound permiates as Stephen tears open his present to reveal a beating heart.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
The raven shakes his head to Lucifer's question. The beak parts to answer but with the response voiced by another, the beak closes once more. He nods as Strang explains... "A lot of dream elements are based on what has occurred during the waking times. Fears, Concerns, all a factor in how things take shape. But...the details can sometimes shi-" The bird pauses, looking over to the shadows, a sense that is often dull amongst the waking seeming to be quite alert right now. "Something does not belong here."
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer remains still. Mostly because the view is changing. Partly because Stephen, here in the dream, has spoken. His sister who died younger but is now older on a table switching to a circa '80s home movie of Christmas time and Stephen gets a heart as a gift.

If only...in a non-literal sense.

"No. Something does not belong here at all. I almost think this whole memory doesn't belong. It's twisted. But also..." That hissing, shadows beyond the trees, and Lucifer looks in that direction. "Sinister...is that it?"
Sinister has posed:
"Yes. But she's not quite here yet. She hasn't been lured in enough...." the words are a whisper. "I must have her closer, to spring the trap, or she will flee, like a rat from a sinking ship."

He moves behind Strange in his PJ's, brings the other hand to bear upon the doctor's head and slowly, methodically tilts the dreamer's head upward, until he has the slow inexorable path open for the Sorceror to look directly at the interloper.

<<He is right here. Such a sweet, succulent mind, all the power you can imagine. Yours. Come and take. Reach out. Feel with your mind. We can hear you. WE CAN HEAR YOU.>> The insiduous lilt reaches out. A hive mind of its own, all the reflections of Sin whisper the same lure, the beckonning, the beacon. <<Come with us, join us, be one of us. Come. Come with us, join us, be one of us...>>
Doctor Strange has posed:
Stephen's head cants under Sinister's guidance to peer into the darkness far too thick to be natural, even in the scope of a dream. When contact is made, the blue eyes become milky, the skin around the fingers grows increasingly pale like the waves of infection spreading outward. <"This was the last Christmas... this was..."> Stephen's head shakes once, blinking several times.

He coughs. Once, twice... then lurches forward and sprays the pale figure of his sister with an ichorous black substance. She doesn't even flinch, instead staring at him as she's coated in it. More and more of the substance sprays from his open mouth. Endless tidal waves of dark fluids that creates a dark surface behind which the figure of his sister disappears. Ankle deep.. waist deep..

And then they're back on the ice.

Stephen staring into a broken section into the water below.

Hands shoot out of that thick black water and grab him, the mouth of his sister open wide, but the eyes are no longer dead. They're glowing yellow, with the chittering of something insectoid as nails dig into the side of Strange's face trying to pull him down into the hole with her. The blue flesh of her face has become darker brown in places, chitin-esque.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:



From the perch of Lucifer's shoulder the bird's wing swings back before flinging forward. Defying the very nature of a raven's form, more so than usual, the wing elongates, becoming more rope like as it wraps around Strange's form, tugging back on the figure to keep him from going completely into the hole.
Lucifer has posed:
Lucifer is just going to stay where he is and watch what happens. The queen is being tempted into coming, and Strange is being re-anchored so he doesn't go anywhere within the dream scape. Lucifer? He's just being the perch for the raven holding the doctor. It's all kinda in Sinister's hands now.
Sinister has posed:
It is, isn't it? Well, we hope that it is, because if he screws this up, there's an even bigger problem on their hands than Brood in the Dream. There'll be Brood in the Doctor.

He vanishes from the position he had been in, behind the PJ's wearing doctor and is hovering over the hole in a blink of an eye, his cloak a living thing of tendrils whipping around in an invisible wind machine. As the chitinous version of Strange's sister claws out of the ice, those tendrils whip out like tentacles, elongating, wrapping around, slithering like snakes to hoist the dreaming being out of the waters...

She came.

    <<Ahh, there you are my pretty pretty. Such a lovely little monster you are, my lady cockroach. Come to me. Be in ME. The mind is such a terrible place to get lost in, so many fathomless depths. And here, my pretty, /I/ am the King. And King trumps Queen.>>

All of this happens in a moment or two, then, the dreamscape around the ice shatters into a thousand mirrors, each reflecting the queen's representation in the psyche of the dreamer, all the way into eternity.

And in a whisper, as he leans down amidst the ever tightening tendrils of not just HIS cloak, but those of all his shadows also: "I owe you /pain/." A hive mind, assaulted by the most terrible of Sinister's psychic gifts -- to be able to mentally imprison and to bestow enough psychological agony that it actually. Can. Kill.
Doctor Strange has posed:
Brood Queens are telepaths, but they are not incredibly powerful. They control their drones through it and establish a neural link betwixt the hive, but in the scope of the dream she has strengthened herself by hiding deeper and deeper into Strange's subconscious. Where even he doesn't go, into memories he's repressed and hidden away because they are too dark, too real, or too painful.

Like a cockroach hiding in the dark corner of a cabinet.

The fingers dig into the sides of Strange's face and pull him precariously close to teetering into the inky black pool beneath the surface of the ice. His fingers claw at and dig through the ice, fighting back, giving Sinister enough time to draw the Queen Sister's attention away from the intended host.

Strange is released and falls backwards, sliding a few feet across the ice with his arms waving at his face to ward off the sensation of agony that had to accompany the fingers that were cutting through his flesh. With the Queen leaping out of the woman it had embodied towards Sinister, just as reality splinters into a million tiny reflective surfaces.

Beyond which is the kind of darkness you have always been warned about staring into.

The creature, wearing Strange's sister's face, slams against the surface of the mirrors shards where it has become imprisoned. The splintering of it's image now the splintering of it's mind into so many fractured parts that she's clawing at her own face until, with one great howl of agony..

The world flips.

and they're standing on the sunny side of the unfrozen lake with. The rays of the sun beating down upon their face, though there's no feeling to it. Birds chirp, but the imagination fills in the gap where auditory sensation fails.

And Strange leans against a stump with his arms folded across his chest. Just looking out across the gently sloshing waters edge. It's too bright, too few shadows. It's surreal and impractical how vibrant the surroundings are.
Phantasm (Drago) has posed:
The phantasm braces talons against Lucifer's back all while playing the Old Man and the Sea with Dr. Strange staring as the large fish.

...Ok considering how the fish turns out that's probably a bad analogy but the visual remains.

As an example of how rules don't quite apply in dreams, the bird is almost perpendicular to Lucifer's back as he hangs on to Strange. The head tilts aside to peer around the devil to maintain visual of the situation as he essentially reels the strange doctor in.

And then-

The reeling stops but the elongaged wing remains wrapped around Strange, just in case. The bird stills, looking around for anything else that just does not belong.
Lucifer has posed:
One minute he was standing on a frozen lake full of faces. The next, the lake is thawed, the faces are gone and it's like they're standing in a picture perfect lake side photo. Only, there's Strange leaning against a tree. The raven is still on his shoulder and Sinister is...gone?

Frantic eyes look around here and there as he steps over the water - because its a dream and it's Lucifer so he's walking on it - trying to find where Sinister went. "Wait. Don't panic. It's fine. He's got this. This is all part of the plan." Right?
Sinister has posed:
Indeed, all part of the plan.

Strange's shadow is dark for a moment, then out walks the not so good Doctor, holding a tiny little cube in his hands, made up of volcanic basalt. It rests on his palm, shrinking in size until it's no bigger than a dice. "I shall have to sit with this one for a while, find out if there's any she's connected to and deal with them terminally. They all have a signature, the queens. It will be easy to trace." -- dispassionate the tone, he looks over at the mildly panicking Devil and smiles. "Hello my darling. We had probably best make sure that Strange doesn't turn undead permanently in short order, but I think..." he glances up and around.

"...we're in a bubble zone. We can leave if we find his bridge, or we'll have to travel to Autocthonia and catch a shuttle."

Glancing to the Raven, he informs mildly "..not that many died. Only those that were nearing the end anyway. It was at least pleasant, to go in their sleep."
Doctor Strange has posed:
Strange glances up, looking at the trio if only by proximity to the direction he was looking anyways. He certainly doesn't act as if he sees anyone when he pushes off the stump and smooths out his slacks with both hands. With a finally glance over his shoulder he pads up the path that winds in an impossibly sharp angle that immediately causes him to disappear into the ether upon rounding it, so thick are the woods surrounding the lake.

But as he does so, as if leading the way, the woods bend outward and form an archway.

The shoreline, the woods, and the archway that leads back into The Sanctum Santorum's study. With a deathlike corpse of Doctor Strange sitting in an overstuff arm chair with his head hanging to one side staring with milky white eyes.

His fingers curl and uncurl, the purple energy of the ward he'd cast still held in his palm and rolling between his knuckles. Once they return to the waking world, Strange opens his palm and brings it up to his lips to blow gently at the wisps of energy. It flutters outward and circles him, revitalizing his haggard, zombie like body until he's no longer moving stiff and painfully.

Immediately pouring himself a tall glass of gin.

"... mmm..." He savours the drink, eyes closing as he swallows.

"That is so much better than brains."