15556/Never again

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Never again
Date of Scene: 02 September 2023
Location: Willowbrook - State Island area - NYC
Synopsis: The nascent X-force and their Sinister ally, tackle one of the psychic Trauma events that catalyzed out of the seeds of trauma in the Astral plane. Willowbrook State School and the legacy of Cropsy will have another dark leaf attached to their book...
Cast of Characters: Sinister, Psylocke, Archangel

Sinister has posed:
It has been a while. Certainly for some, it's probably not been long enough. September has rolled around, which brings with it the beginnings of a school year. The hustle and the bustle of getting kids ready to go back to filling their brains with information that half of which may never get used.

The late summer has been pleasant enough, but today, a chill was brought in from the north, with a malaise in the air that sucks the warmth away. September can do that. But then, at least one special burner phone delivered a message to Betsy Braddock.

'Seed popped up in the Willowbrook area. I've been watching the local channelchatter. They've got missing children. Meet me. ~NE~'

That's the trouble with a long, dark history on the long dark coastline of the eastern seaboard. There are a lot of places where things have happened. Dark things that the land and sometimes the people on it can remember.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy was down in the bunker, having brought food for Warren as she took the time to admire Warren's latest work on their ongoing project when the message came in. She glances down at it, and her whole face transforms immediately. She won't even need to voice anything for Warren to know it's bad news.

Missing children.

It's like Sinister knows exactly the words to write to both incite Psylocke's anger and spur her to immediate action. Something to consider later, whether that was deliberate or not.

"We're taking the jet," Betsy tells Warren, her voice cool, efficient. Kwannon. "Suit up."

Truthfully, she loves the new jet. It's the speed, the versatility, the beauty and deadliness of it -- it all completely hits the right notes for Betsy Braddock. She'll set the Phantom down a short distance along the coastline, intending to walk to meet Sinister. That her fingers reach up to touch the back of Warren's shoulder lightly as they do so is no coincidence. This is not the kind of meeting she imagined, or wanted, but she conceals any trepidation well.
Archangel has posed:
The walled mounted television was playing an episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. There was a depiction of La'an Noonien-Singh and James T. Kirk having a heart to heart discussion in some private room about the USS Enterprise. The screen was crystal clear. The surround sound was superb. And all of that was for nought, as Betsy immediately stiffened.

Warren, who wore a red t-shirt, black jeans, and black socks, sat up from his test of the recreational room's entertainment center, and before Betsy had even conveyed that they were taking the jet, he was already getting up and out of the leather chair, reaching for the remote to turn off the television and the streaming service.

He immediately began to hook his thumb up and under his shirt, exposing his hidden wings, and he began walking towards the lockers, where each member of the team had costumes prepared and hanging up, or folded, as the case may be.

A few moments later, and he would be dressed in the X-Force version of his Angel costume, which similar to his X-Men version, except it was matte black and non-reflective silver instead of blue and white, or red and white, come to think of it, he had several different X-Men costumes.

Once Betsy was properly dressed, they would head back to the Phantom, with her at the controls. She had been a pilot before becoming an X-Man.

Sensing her hand on the back of his shoulder as they approached Mister Sinister, he found it reassuring. His hands tightened into fists, clenching, but were not raised. He was doing his best to keep his emotions under check. Though could be a trying time, even without the child endangerment aspect.
Sinister has posed:
It's actually at a sea-side diner that the 'gps' tracks -- a simple little mom and pop joint, blessedly empty in the wake of many of the out of towner holiday makers having returned from wence they came. There's a rocking chair on the back patio for aesthetics and windchimes that tinkle. How quaint. The figure of Essex can be seen ON that back patio, though he hardly looks the diabolical mad scientist that he can very often be. He looks /human/. Hair tied back in a ponytail, a black mod jacket on over a button up black shirt, jeans... yellow 'lennon' spectackles on his face to cut out the glare of the laptop on the table infront of him -- the phone at his side gives a soft 'beepbeepbeep' to let him know that its sister is imminent.

Nobody pays the patio attention. 'Mom' pops by with a refill of coffee, looking glazed in the eye and leaves again. There appears to be a motorcycle parked nearby, similarly black, with a bit of red decal and a very speedy vibe.

"I wouldn't worry," the english tones might be chillingly familiar to Warren, the last time that they met, there was quite a bit of not-very-happy-making bondage involved, mostly because there was a very good chance that the handsome blond playboy was going to put up more of a fight otherwise. "They're not going to pay the back yard any attention. Thank you for being prompt."
Psylocke has posed:
Psylocke's X-Force uniform is the same as her X-Man one... just a dark blue instead of black. The only thing she doesn't wear is the trailing ribbons. While they're sometimes useful as a weapon, the katana strapped to her back is a much more useful tool for what she generally intends.

Either her close-fitting, arguably distracting outfit, or the sight of her openly carrying a weapon should be cause for alarm from anyone looking their way -- not to mention Warren's wings. But no one pays them any mind. It's unthinking habit for Betsy to suppress other people's awareness of her, so in the same way 'mom' only half pays attention to the patio with Nathaniel Essex, they all kind of gaze at, and past, the scantily-clad ninja and the uniformed bulk of Warren with his feathered wings.

"Nathaniel," Betsy's voice is soft. She keeps her hand at Warren's shoulder, as much for any comfort he might get from the gesture as it allows her to read tension in his body. Sure, she could just touch his mind: but why bother when she can just as readily infer it through his body language? The hand also means she's standing at and just a step behind Warren, a deliberate positioning.

"You do seem to have a way with crafting words. Not a request I could, or would refuse." It's not an accusation, just an observation, paired with a hint of a smile, though it lacks Betsy's usual warmth.
Archangel has posed:
Warren didn't make a habit of walking around with his wings fully outstretched. But when on 'X-Men business', or 'X-Factor business', it only seemed appropriate. He also covered a large portion of his face. His mask allowed full vision, his mouth and nose were accessible, but it covered his cheeks, his forehead, obscuring much of his face, and making it harder for someone to identify him as Warren Kenneth Worthington III. Plus, the wings were distracting too. And if that wasn't enough, how many people could actually pick out any billionaire that didn't have a notable presence in video of one kind or another?

With Betsy being slightly behind, there was the prospect of his spreading out his wings to protect her, and she could use the shadows he would cast, even late at night, for some benefit. Warren listened to the chilling Englishman. He clenched and unclenched one hand, as if he needed something to do with it.

They were here at Sinister's urging. He knew that Betsy wanted him, at least as an ally, of X-Force. It was his complete trust in her, that stayed his hand, for what he would want to do to the man right now. "I believe you have information?" He said, curtly ignoring the formalities. Warren was hardly ever rude. Snobbish yes, but rude? No, it simply wasn't done. It was a testament to his feelings right now, and urgency of the situation.
Sinister has posed:
"Quite. Briefings are like twitter posts, you have to have the maximum impact for the minimum effort --" Sinister looks up at the two of them, a guage on Psylocke's face, then Warren's with a slide of eyes. "--Indeed." The computer abruptly spins of its own accord, his hand reaching to the screen to ease it back to a straight angle with a single fingertip.

Willowbrook State School. Abandoned since 1988. Home originally of up to 6000 children with learning disabilities, from kids on the spectrum to down's syndrome and spina bifida, hydrocephally and microcephally. Nearly every new yorker knows the story of the atrocities that happened there over the course of its active years.

"I was afraid that one of the seeds might find its way down here, so I had some sensors installed in the school grounds. Trigger went off a couple of days ago for one missing -- then a second went off. You know this school, yes? Are familiar with its history? And Andre Rand?"

The screen flickers to a couple of newspaper reports of back in the day, when the former custodian was tried for the murder of two children and the disappearance of several more.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy remains wholly aware of Warren's mood. She doesn't seem to mind the lack of formalities, nor Nathaniel's study of both her and Warren. The fact that everyone is playing nice, at least for now, is a win in her book.

"I've heard of it as a horror story. If what I remember is correct, there's any number of traumas to be found here." There's a reason her voice remains cool, her expression fixed with Kwannon's indifference. "Remind me how you resolved it last time? While piercing the trauma bubble was... enlightening, I'd rather not do that again." Considering she screamed herself hoarse and into unconsciousness, once can bet it wasn't a pleasant experience.

When that newspaper report flickers up, her expression tightens. This is going to be a bad one.
Archangel has posed:
Mister Sinister's wit might have produced a smile on Warren's face were it to come from anyone other than him. Eyes glance from Essex to the computer screen, and back to Essex, as he has trust issues where Essex is concerned.

Rather than read at his normal rate, he would constantly flicker between the information presented, and the man presenting it.

"Prudent," he said, coolly, his tone dripping with animosity, even when complimenting the man as he was informed of the sensors being installed.

Trying to lower his own tension, he shifted his head back, turning slightly to the side, and asked both, but more Betsy, "remind me why we don't just settle into a nice cabin in Aspen, or a cabana in Canouan?" There was so much negativity in this world, so many monsters, and some they even worked alongside.
Sinister has posed:
"Oh, it was a fun filled trip for the /entire/ family. We tracked it north east, and Jean and Logan followed their own path there independently. I believe Jean coopted Logan's nose. When you fractured the amalgum, the victims and the pastor were fragmented -- the village went into a Brigadoon loop and we played our parts, from priest to ..." he wrinkles his nose here "...pastor himself. It's a really good job I'm industrially hard to kill. Like a cockroach, because being in the middle of that conflagration was unpleasant. And the pastor was how shall we put it?" He sniffs, wiggles fingers in the air for the right word "...infernally exorcized to his just reward."

He sighs, watching the two of them. "You know, I've asked myself that very same thing. Exactly why haven't I just gone off to my den of iniquity and let the world burn. Beats me, but I keep on getting the confounding urge to -fix- things."

All of that last is deadpan, looking under his brows and over the spectacles at Warren for a moment, then standing. The phone and laptop click shut and float, his coffee, black, is shot back. "Electromagnetic activity went through the roof last night." He slips a couple of 'missing' posters up into the air with a gesture, floating them to the X-forcers. "We've got a Debbie Mourne, she went missing first. Last seen waiting for her mother to pick her up from school, she vanished. I had a sniff around, picked up traces... but lost them close to the highway. She has learning difficulties. And Alex Kranz -- last seen heading back from his paper route. Who even does those any more? Thirteen. Asperger's syndrome. High functioning."
Psylocke has posed:
When Warren turns, Betsy's hand drops from his shoulder. While it's the cold gaze of Kwannon that meets his gaze at first; the shift from one to the other happens in an instant, apparent in the soft warmth of Betsy's response, "Because you aren't the sort of man to turn your back on the innocent, Warren. No matter who is involved or how it happened."

The purple-haired telepath smiles warmly, "And I can only take so much of the cold or heat at any given time. I like to change it up."

That Sinister offers his own take on why /he/ doesn't just leave -- and that Betsy seems to believe him -- is apparent in the violet-eyed gaze she gives the man. Her smile for him is just as warm. "Obligation," she murmurs, "Is a strange beast." She exhales through Sinister's explaination. "Playing a puritan role is not my idea of fun. Hopefully we can avoid that. We lack Logan's nose, but," a light touch to Warren's arm, "Perhaps you'll get a better view from the air?"

The fact that it will separate Warren and Sinister is just icing.
Archangel has posed:
Industrially had to kill, he said. Like a cockroach, he said. Nathaniel Essex was a man who would describe himself as such, and Warren was expected to play nice with him? Sure, why not? It's not like anything could possibly go wrong from aligning oneself with a man who goes by the name Mister Sinister.

"You're right, of course," he said to Betsy, not using any names, as they were out in the field. It was codename only as far as he was concerned right now, though Betsy didn't seem to follow it. Though, she could also blanket out their conversation from any prying eyes.

"And that's why Melbourne and Vancouver battle it out every year as the best place in the world to live. Warm summers, cool winters, where you can ski and jet ski to your heart's content."

Suddenly keenly aware that he was the lone American among two Brits, he spoke up for his ancestors, "just because the Puritans never got invited to the best parties, doesn't mean their descendants share in their total lack of fun."

He liked the touch of his arm, but not so much the request to vacate. As another handsome blond man once said repeatedly, "as you wish."

And in a gravity defying feat, he took off. How did he manage that? He was swift, he was silent, and all he did was kick up a breeze as he went? But within a moment, he was high above the coastline, quite possibly out of sight for them, but they were never out of sight for him. He could see like an Eagle, or a Hawk. He could pick out the reflection of quarter from the sky on a sunny day.
Sinister has posed:
"Something like that," Sinister's reply is very softly spoken for Betsy's words and he watches the brief interaction, without uttering a single syllable, only to track the leap skyward with his gaze until the Angel is far, far above them in the evening sky. "Now is probably not the time to remind you I can fly, right? I thought not." He gestures at the bike. "I was being inconspicuous as I can. I think there's room for two, if you don't take issue with my riding skills." The laptop and phone slide themselves into a messenger bag, a fifty set under his coffee cup for the 'mom' to find when her brain unfogs and he straddles the chopper, leaning forward to unhook a spare helmet from the 'saddlebag' area. For his part, he just squeezes the frame of his shades and they do a series of high-speed unfolds of tiny microplates around his head. Black. Yellowed visor. Figures.

The purr of that engine promises she can move like a greased weasel from a frying pan.

Up above, the landscape is darkening with the sunset. The shadow can almost be seen pooling over the land below like spilled ink. And down the way on a slight rise and surrounded by high fencing, is the abandoned Willowbrook estate. From above, patterns can be seen on the unkept lawns, almost like... crop circles. They've been walked down and are bouncing back a bit. And to the well educated private schoolboy that he is, after a bit of squinting and maybe a second pass, the shape becomes recognizable. They're zodiak signs. Oh dear.

There's a slight glow to the school building windows in places. Those eyes, keen as eagles and bent to the avian spectrum, can make out hints of ultraviolet.
Psylocke has posed:
Warren's acquiescence is met with a visible kind of relief from Betsy right now. "No," the model says, without looking at Sinister, "Now is not the time to remind." Her expression softens a little. "Give it time. He's accepted this as a necessity. It doesn't mean he's okay with it."

Her purple-eyed gaze drops to Sinister, finally, as she loses sight of Warren in the skies, then to the bike, with a laugh. "Does this one have a secret button, also?" There's no hesitancy in her -- surely he doesn't expect it -- as she takes the helmet and pulls it on. She'll settle in behind Nathaniel -- letting him drive is a huge leap for her and her tension is probably felt where she loosely wraps her hands around him for balance. That tension goes though the faster he drives. It's just how Betsy is wired.

As they near the school, Betsy activates the communication unit she put in her ear earlier. <<Angel?>> she asks. <<See anything?>>
Archangel has posed:
Angel could have flown Psylocke in his arms, he had done it countless times, but she chose to leave after asking him to do a scouting run. He had intended to return to the same spot, but seeing her and Mister Sinister head off on a motorcycle perplexed him.

His response through the communicator built into his mask was, "well, I see you riding what I believe is colloquially referred to as 'bitch'. And someone's gone and put Zodiak signs into the grass, like crop circles." He would then give directions to them for her, so she could relay them to Mister Sinister, who as far as he knew, wasn't wearing a communicator. Though that could change at any moment.
Sinister has posed:
"Again, not the right time to note that I supplied your outfit with its communications arrays, right? Thought not..." murmured without activating the comm system, he clears his throat, barely heard over the hum of the engine. He slows her the hell down by the sliproads that used to supply the groceries and maintenance trucks to the school and glides her up into the lea of an old oak tree in 'black mode' lights off. Another touch at the temple of the helmet and it squirrels itself away again, leaving him to look at the fence and along, into the growing shadows. "As far as I know, they've not been using this place for a film set or any research in the last little while..." he observes. "That's troubling though. The Zodiak was in Los Angeles. Oh, Balls..." there's a sigh "...I have a very bad feeling about this one."

He makes no effort to help Psylocke over the fence though, a mere glance given to her before he lifts off and glides down on the other side, walking on the air so as not to disturb the grass as he approaches the nearest pinpointed sign in the grass. "That's a day or two old. Maybe three..." he murmurs, then with a look up at the sky, turns his focus on the school.

And there's the communicator, with a touch to the side of his voicebox. "Andre was a janitor here. See if you can find the servant's entrance, I'm not entirely familiar with the plans. I'm going to be quite surprised if it's locked, even though it really should be."
Psylocke has posed:
<<I will never get used to your American colloquialisms,>> says Betsy with an air of distaste. Oh, how the English accent does distaste so well! But that doesn't last as Angel relays what he's seen. "Probably not," she replies to Sinister. Another conversation she'll have to have later, when things are less pressed for time and focus.

<<That is not at all alarming.>> Yes, Psylocke means the exact opposite. Once Sinister brings the bike to a stop, she eases off it, handing him back the spare helmet. She eyes the fence, and when he looks at her, quirks the corner of her mouth briefly as she eases back into one of those shadows, reappearing in another shadow on the other side of the fence almost without breaking stride.

"Have you ever had a good feeling about these traumas?" Psylocke asks as she walks. She keeps her distance from the sign in the grass, gazing not at it but at their surroundings. "I don't understand the connection between Zodiac in here. Some kind of copycat thing?"

<<I will meet you at the building.>> For Warren, as she stalks towards it.
Archangel has posed:
<<They are not precisely my colloquialisms, but some residents of the mansion like to watch programs about bikers>> Gambit and Rogue being the two most likely candidates. It was funny that to Betsy, he was an American, but to Americans, many would think that he was in fact English, with his Mid-Atlantic or trans-Atlantic accent, sounding like Kelsey Grammer, David Ogden Stiers, or Cary Grant.

After doing an aerial pass, he would land near what was once the servant's entrance. If Mister Sinister had asked Cyclops, Iceman, or Colossus to locate it, they may not be able to spy the telltale signs, but Warren? He's lived his life visiting mansions, becoming well aware of their various layouts, and how they like to hide the entrances for the servants so as to not offend the eye. He knew what to look for.

He would further relay information on how to approach it, based on where they were when he made his descent. In the interests of teamwork, he would be waiting there when they arrived, wings folded securely to make entering through doorframes easier, but not as tightly wound as when he would dress as a civilian.
Sinister has posed:
"Well, copycat isn't my first thought. Magnet was my first thought. This place..." Sinister shakes his head "...American Eugenics at its most monstrous and obvious, and the former Janitor here became so infamous that he became an Urban bloody Legend. Ever heard of Cropsy?" Essex asks Betsy in a soft tone. The commentary though, even though he can hear it, just gets a smile. A smile courtesy of living with individuals that have funny tastes in entertainment. "Oh, /well/ done that man..." -- as they approach the hidden entrance, Sinister doffs an imaginary cap.

"If the trauma imbedded into the building, which I'm afraid it might have done... it's the actual place itself that's been doing this. I... genuinely haven't ever had to fight a building for dominance, but it might put up more of a fight than I care to think about."

Sinister gives a nose twitch, then from a belt at his hip, under the coat, he pulls out a couple of hand-held EMF detectors, and a couple of pounches of things that -look- like ballbearings. "Localized EM pulse, throw if necessary. Disturbs... phenomenon like this."
Psylocke has posed:
<<You and your science fiction.>> No, it is clear Betsy has never seen, let alone heard of Sons of Anarchy or any of its ilk. Truthfully she'd probably appreciate it far more than Star Trek with its endless optimism.

Warren will be able to sense her approach, even if he can't see her at first. It's not really that he's attuned to her so much as the light touch of her thoughts, a kind of warning a moment before she steps out of the shadows. She gives few that warning: she rather likes to surprise more often than not. Her eyes meet his as she steps into view.

"I've never heard of Cropsy. Serial killer studies really aren't my thing," if one ever doubted Betsy's heritage, her English disdain is present in that response. She'll take one of those detectors and the pouch from Sinister, though both are regarded rather dubiously. Doesn't mean she won't try it, though.

"If we are fighting a building, it might be harder, but not impossible to pierce it psychically. At the very least, worst comes to worst, I can break apart the trauma so you can deal with the smaller segments of it." You: because she assumes taking in a building's worth -- and years and years worth -- of trauma won't go down easily.
Archangel has posed:
Warren was a phaser banks are half charged kind of man, usually. He liked the optimism of Star Trek, over the gritty and depressing realism of Star Wars, or other shows. His time as Death had left him with something of a souring, and he could be moody, but still, Warren was an optimist of the highest order.

He was not sure what Sons of Anarchy was, but he might have seen parts of it while walking through the den of the mansion. Sometimes you just couldn't shut off those kinds of distractions.

He smiled warmly at the oh so comforting sense of her impending arrival, and it broadened at the sight of her, despite the reason that they had come here.

"Nor I, thought I do remember frequent and repeated references to Crippen in one of your BBC programs we watched together," referencing Coupling, which was kind of like Friends, except it was funny, and there were about 30 episodes all told.

"Bricks don't hit back, but hitting them could break our hands." Between the telepath and the 'doctor', this did seem to be their speciality. "What can I do to help?" He would ask, even if it was nothing but providing cover.
Sinister has posed:
"Warren, I know you have zero reason to give me more than a passing tolerance, but in this instance, I think you ought to trust me..." Sinister replies to the Angel's question. Looking across his shoulder at the man, he nods to the building, then turns eyes to it, up and along and to the door. With a gesture, it opens and silently, pinning the handle to the groove long ago worn into the brick. "The Traumas that have been faced, there's always victims in it. We /face/ the psionic manifestations that have lodged in the world, but they bring forth the bad and ... the others. You should not be hiding your face in here. The ones that suffered in this place, will find comfort in seeing you exactly as you are, unvarnished. And they won't care -who- you are, only what you appear to be. Also..." he holds out the EMP sensor and the marbles. "It might well try and stop us undoing the pain. I... probably should actually see what I can feel here, too." He looks up again, at the wainscotting and drains, then at the brickwork. There's been some graffitti, signs people have come in here to say that they did, all that jazz. He walks to a clearer patch, removing his gloves and with only a gaze at the brickwork, places his palm there and stares into the middle distance.

Nothing so much seems to happen at first, except that a breeze stirs. Rustles the overgrown grass. But the longer Essex reaches out in physical contact with the building, the louder the rustles get, until it seems like a sussuration of a thousand voices.

And like a single pindrop in the wind of whispers is a lone girl's voice "please, don't..."
Psylocke has posed:
Sinister's speech to Warren is met with a quiet regard from Betsy. She neither encourages not discourages. What trauma Warren carries from his time with Sinister isn't something Betsy's going to lightly interfere with. She will, however, rest a hand in the crook of his arm, an excuse for contact as they walk. She doesn't need it for balance or anything other than a want for the contact.

The purple haired ninja remains still as Sinister works, watching and listening. When that little girl's voice sounds, her head snaps in that direction, picking out the voice from the others.

"Nathaniel," Betsy's voice is quiet, warning. "Whatever you're doing... I think it's working." Although she has the equipment Sinister gave her to throw, she doesn't want to disturb this moment. She reaches out, psychically, trying to find the girl, trying to bring awareness of her closer.
Archangel has posed:
Despite Warren's phenomenal life, his financial clout, his homes, cars, clothes, businesses, properties, all these things in life, despite all that, nothing was more valuable than his trust. No price could ever be put on that. He had given that trust to Betsy Braddock, more so than any other being in this world, and that included his parents. And she had asked him to give Mister Sinister, if not necessarily his trust, then at least a chance. "Very well," he said, noncommittal to Nathaniel's plea.

He listened, noting Betsy's hand resting in the crook of his arm, and without hesitation, he lifted up his mask, revealing his visage. The man was an angel, meeting every stereotype about it, including the long flowing mane of golden blond hair, which now pillowed down his back, between his shoulder blades and those wings. He gave a shake of his head, freeing it, and looked like a hair shampoo advert in real life, everything but the slow motion.

The breeze flowed through his hair, and ruffled some of his feathers. And then he heard the girl's voice. He softly inhaled, uncertain of what to do quite yet.
Sinister has posed:
The sussurus crescendos a little further, the sound of sobs in it, whispered entreaties and the whimpers of long dead memories. But there's a living voice in that cacophony, indeed.

Sinister might be a million miles away right now, as the powerful telepathy of Betsy Braddock thrusts out like a lance through melty butter. Does she take Warren along for the ride?

It's like going down the mega-fast chute in a water park, disorienting and slippery, the mental pathway hunting for one life in the dark through a place that jealously holds onto its memories. The atmosphere feels like it's crushing, attempting to drag down the seeker, to cut with rusted razors and trepaning drills. Corridor, corridor, double door, down stairs along, through the wards and past the private rooms. Litter on the floor but also, memories of kids as young as five, as old as seventeen, walking past, brushing past, pacing by the wall, curled up in a corner, staring at nothing...


The sound of electricity is chilling, along with the sound of breaking bones when Electroshock did not quite go right.

And then it's down, old machinery. Old chickenwire grates on mechanisms that used to operate dumbwaiters, the generator itself. The incinerator, open a crack and looking for all the world like the maw of a beast.

They're down. They're there. IT knows.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy is fully aware of the trust Warren has placed in her. Some part of her is certain she doesn't deserve it at all, but she's willing, and able to use it as a means to an end, as long as he extends it to her. A chance is all she asked for, and that's what he's giving. It earns Warren a look filled with a complex mix of emotions, ending in a small smile and the faint squeeze of her fingers against his arm.

Anything else will have to wait for later.

It just feels natural to bring Warren along with her rather than try to explain what she's experiencing. They've created mindlinks before, for communication, but this isn't that. The touch creates an easy path for her to share the psychic senations that wash over her, though she does her best to shelter him from the worst of it.

Her psychic powers aren't like her physical ones; lithe and quick, precise and sharp. They are the wash of torrential floods, the hammer smashing through doors and wards. It's brute strength, shoving and breaking and pushing until she gets what she wants.

The answers, though, leave her shivering as she breaks that contact. "The incinerator. I think that's where they... where they ended..." her teeth are chattering. Betsy presses her jaw tight, takes a slow breath, focuses on the here-and-now. "Nathaniel, are you back yet?" She seems loathe to leave him alone, unguarded, for all that he's exceptionally hard to kill.
Archangel has posed:
Warren stood. He remained standing. He had Psylocke's hand gripping him, giving him a gentle squeeze. And yet, he felt like he just went through the strangest sense of vertigo that he could recall. It was a wonder that he wasn't staggering, and yet, his feet remained planted, his body motionless. He blinked several times, trying to process what he had felt and seen.

Frowning at Betsy's words. It made sense. It made all too much sense. Warren knew what it was like to stand in an incinerator. Although not Jewish, Gypsy, or otherwise related to them, he had, as a schoolboy, before he joined Xavier's, visited one of the Nazi concentration camps, and had stood in a room where people were incinerated. It was chilling then, and it was just as chilling now.

Moving, not pulling the arm away, but shifting, so that he could rub at Betsy's other arm, "it's okay, it's, we'll, yeah..." he was trying to be reassuring. His touch at least might have helped when words failed him.

If she were loathe to leave Mister Sinister alone, then for certain, Warren wasn't about to. Since she had asked, he looked on, patient as the hawk.
Sinister has posed:
Still as a statue, Sinister seems rigid with his palm against the wall, until he exhales a long, solid breathe that comes out like dragon's breath, smokey and infernal seeming. His hand pulls back, turns about so he can regard his palm.

Charred. Blistered. But fading fast, as if that was just a memory. "That's very much not good. There's... a very good chance some of the entities here don't even understand what happened to them." He looks over at the two of them.

"We good?" -- a double-check, a rolecall so to speak.

The whispers fade, but they do not fade entirely, as if the atmosphere is now well aware of their presence. The Building knows that they're there.
Psylocke has posed:
For a moment there aren't words: Betsy just looks at Warren, as the psychic wash of that sensation fades away. She looks relieved when it does; she squeezes Warren's hand in silent gratitude.

Betsy's lips part as she sees Nathaniel's palm. The breath she exhales is understanding. "How do you two feel about being burned alive? I'm not very thrilled with the prospect." But she gets the distinct feeling she's going to become really familiar with it, really soon.

Her voice though, is steady, resolute. This is a thing that must be done, and she doesn't shy from it, however terrible. Is she good? No. But she smiles all the same in the appearance of a positive answer. "Down. Basement, probably." And she moves, letting her hand slip from Warren's, the wash of her psychic presence held close to her, too aware of how the entity reacts.
Archangel has posed:
"It wouldn't be my first choice," Warren said of being burned alive, "I'd rather hoped to die in bed when I'm a hundred and twenty..." trailing off on that thought given the company, though it was hard to conceal a thought in the vicinity of a telepath. "Perhaps we should summon the curator, and see what options are on the menu." Oh Warren, if anyone was going to manage to remain upbeat in such a dark and dreary locale, it was going to be him.

"I personally think I'm incredible," he said to Mister Sinister, "but a trained therapist might have a different opinion on that."

Casting an alert gaze to his surroundings, he gestured with one hand, open palm, "behold, the staircase. I believe we have an appointment with the entity in the basement, and tardiness is just so bourgeois."
Sinister has posed:
There's a wry little chuckle at the quip, "...I do like your style," Sin informs, but then the smile fades away again, regarding Psylocke silently for a beat or two. "It never goes well -- believe me." But then? A nod. And with a look at the servant's entrance, he gestures a flick to the side and the door swings easily into the groove that was worn by countless openings in days gone by.

Doorways shouldn't look menacing, but that one almost, ALMOST looks like it's breathing. There's a sway of dust into it, then an exhalation of plaster remanents and detritus floating suspended. He lifts off of the floor and levitates inside, guaranteeing he is silent by it.

Inside it gloomy - they came here at twilight, it's only going to get worse from there. Did anyone bring NV goggles? If not, follow the glow of red eyes moving.
Psylocke has posed:
"I'm not sure we would like the alternatives, either," Betsy says, with a glance at Warren, her amusement apparent for his /dying in bed at an old age/ fantasy. "I'll settle for dying in a way that leaves my body out of the hands of those who would experiment with it."

One could say she has low standards. Or that she's realistic.

"Oh, I believe you," Betsy answers Sinister.

The door gets a long look. It's just a door, right? She could follow Sinister's lead and float through it, but Warren can't, so she merely steps through. She didn't bring goggles at all, and her outfit doesn't exactly fit a phone, but the darkness is welcome -- it means she can step out of the room at need.
Archangel has posed:
Warren may naturally be a warm and positive individual, but there was still iciness in the way he looked at Mister Sinister at the chuckle. "No, but then again, I've never needed them." His vision was not specifically adapted to the night, but there was considerable crossover in how his vision worked.

He had to bite his tongue at one thought about how he might enjoy experimenting with Psylocke. Though the way he grinned, yeah, it didn't take a telepath to pick up on that response.

With Warren apparently taking up the rear, he did what he could to look for any clues or other items of note, when not blocked by the bodies of those ahead of him. He stepped confidently inside, though some of that was bravado. He had nerves, he was just doing a good job of hiding them.
Sinister has posed:
The corridors are empty. The place has been derelict for a long while now, nearly forty years -- there's a few rusted out bedframes, graffiti, abandoned pop bottles and cans, from when people come here for a dare and break in when they're young and perhaps prone to rash behaviour. The ceiling tiles are stained, some of which looks reddish. Rust, most likely.

But the place was solidly built. Although the concrete is cracking and the interiors are in disrepair, the skeleton of Willowbrook is solid redbrick and rebar, from the days when they built shit to last the test of time.

It makes the maintenance door with is warped frame and its stairs beyond a rather more palatable descent than it could've been.

As they move through into the maw of the abandoned school and hospital, it is not unlikely that cold patches occur. Through one, there's the feeling of confusion and disorientation; why are you here? What did you do to deserve this? Momma. I want my mommy.

Out of a sense of keen eyesight though, there's signs on the floor and around on the walls that show the corridors have been travelled, recently. Footprints in spots, disturbed dust and heavy scuff marks as of something being dragged, or fighting being dragged.

And Psylocke? There are eyes watching, many of them without any physical components attached. The EMF sensors that they were given are swinging their needles in places and they do go a bit crazy at the stairs down. Big surprise, right?

And is that... a radio playing? Very faintly there's the sound of music coming from below. Sounds like... Rage against the Machine?
Psylocke has posed:
Psylocke is undoubtedly aware of Warren's distraction. She gives him a look that, in other circumstances, might be accompanied by Kwannon's cool tones, but right now merely provides silence. That choice is undoubtedly for Sinister's presence, the violet-haired telepath all too aware how tentative and nascent this alliance is at present.

The shield she keeps around herself is ever-present, but nonetheless, Psylocke feels every one of those trauma bubbles. She's never been beset by self-doubt, though when she passes through it it's sufficient to make her pause, her jaw tighten, as she continues through it out the other side.

After a while, what stands out feels normal. An adjustment. She feels the eyes, and though tempted, she doesn't disperse any of those bubbles she passes through. No. The real source lies below. She glances, unsurprised, at the EMF as they gather at the top of the stairs.

The sound of music makes her head tilt: is there someone actually there? Betsy reaches out, mentally, extending her senses down into the basement. Outwardly, it just looks like she's listening intently, gaze unfocused.
Archangel has posed:
Warren couldn't help but smile a little wider, when Psylocke gave him that look. He softly shook his head, which allowed his hair to tussle and sway, since he had removed the partial mask at Mister Sinister's prior urging.

Walking along the path, he gives voice to an observation, in the most Warren way possible, brushing a hand against a counter, one that had been previously disturbed, the dust shifted, "we really must speak to the maid." Whether they could spot it in this light, "someone has been here. And they took that path," he gestured to a hallway that they have not travelled yet."

And then, when he caught the sound of the music, he had to ask, "is that noise... or music?" But he would have asked that of Rage Against the Machine even if it were perfectly clear.
Sinister has posed:
It will take considerable concentration to find anything in here other than the awareness that the entire place has currently got a malicious consciousness. The building IS the trauma, in many respects. And a mind within it is clouded, overwhelmed by the place itself, but yet... Yes! There.

That MIGHT have been a mistake. ~One, two, one two, little cuts. We'll just make little cuts.~ And ... oh the screwed up nature of what she can feel. It isn't right, that mind, not by a long shot. She can feel the whispers; bad boys stay with me, stay. Forever, stay. Little pieces of you, in my cellar, in my fridge -- Anger, the drugs, the using, the men groping, beating, hurting, just a .22 between the eyes -- Mother treated me like filth, never loved me, uncle did bad things...

Over and over and over, like she's not listening to just ONE mind, but an echo of a great many of them. And a smile, filthy and crooked in a handsome face, strangling the air from lungs...

The Archangel though, this is a nasty place, needs cleaning indeed. And his wings are being touched. Ever so gently. Like children's fingers playing with the ends.
Psylocke has posed:
"Depends on your definition of music." Betsy, too, finds the band incomprehensible, but her attention is elsewhere, trying hard to focus not on the trauma present in the building itself but that one mind, present, and here. Moments later, she finds herself pulled down into-

Darkness, depravity, a mental maze of trauma and abuse received and given, each of them opening up like flowers with sharp edges to bare themselves to Betsy's mind. To make her feel it. Live it. Know minds that are broken, one after the other, in rapid, seemingly endless succession...

Betsy slumps against the wall, abruptly, coughing. No, not coughing -- choking. Wheezing through a throat that suddenly feels like it's getting no air. Instinct kicks in and she mentally withdraws, the barbs of those traumas leaving little cuts behind like an afterimage of their presence.

It lets her get air back into her lungs with a rattling breath. "He's... here," she finally manages to get out. "Broken." Her voice is hoarse, the memories present in her voice. "He's taking boys, I think. Cut-cutting them up. There's a fridge."
Archangel has posed:
The angel wings remain in place, but the feathers kind of spread out, almost like a hand, where the wrist stays in place, but the fingers separate, creating distance from themselves. It was his equivalent to getting a shiver down his spine at the feeling of being touched there. It wasn't an aggressive move, just flexing.

"We should ask them if they have any Springsteen or Queen." And then he sensed Betsy's, whatever it was. He moved quickly, catching her before she slumped too hard against the wall, or worse, slump to the floor. With her choking, he looked to Sinister, any anger or mistrust gone, as she was in need, and he, for all his faults, and there were many, was a doctor.

Fortunately, she managed to get out of it on her own. "Do you need a minute, or is this a NOW situation?"
Sinister has posed:
Sinister watched. When Betsy began reaching... when Warren was being toyed with by the hands of a child... he watched. The look shot to him was given as he floated closer, giving Psylocke the space to breathe for a moment, before ducking his head lower to look at her throat. "There's going to be a bruise there, but no breakage -- This place can display physical outrage..." he mutters that, staring at nothing at all for a moment, then down.

"Just one man. But I don't think he's alone in his own head." That observation made, he makes no comment at all about the music, merely begins flying down the stairs into the basement in silence. Somewhere along the way though, pieces of him start to fall off, collapsing to the ground as he seems to shrink, until where Sinister had flown, a swarm of rats disperses into the various shadows, nooks and crannies in a scrurrying plague. If he wasn't worrisome before...

More angry punk music can be heard. A different tune, but a voice scratchily joins it, atonally.
Psylocke has posed:
Warren is real, and solid, and his arm around her lets Betsy focus on the here and now much more readily. She doesn't try and master her expression; it's a complex mix of memories and emotions that aren't entirely her own, anyway. Already, there are bruises at her throat.

Betsy shakes her head for a second, her fingers bracing into Warren's arm like a focus. "No. It's... I think we're too late for whatever he has." Or /who/ever, but it's easier to distance herself, talking like that. Children are one thing she struggles with.

When Sinister suggests the man isn't alone, she shivers. "No. There are... many. So many, in his head. His victims, maybe? They're with him. He wants them to stay with him. He has pieces of them." Her eyes unfocus, at least until Sinister floats down the stairs. Then she's watching, seeing him transform into... rats?

She's seen him transform physical aspects of himself, but that's a lot different than transforming into a multitude of dispersed creatures. Betsy gives Warren a look -- warning him? Checking that he's still okay? -- either way, her expression seems to shake a little off that trauma as she exhales. With a last, thankful squeeze of his arm, she moves towards the doorway. It seems she means to follow Sinister down the stairs, her steps silent as a ninja even if that awful punk music wasn't providing cover.
Archangel has posed:
Warren supported Betsy, hands helping to keep her steady as Mister Sinister came in for a closer look, and that one gesture, a medical doctor seeing to a patient, well, it was a brick. It was something to start the foundation of trust. One brick does not a structure make, but it is a first step.

Warren caught sight of the... whatever it was that Mister Sinister was doing. Dissolving into tiny furry creatures, rats by the look of it? He had a confused look, shaking his head, but he was just as concerned about giving Betsy that anchor as she did, whatever it was she was doing on the astral plane.

Once she had regained her footing, he let go, but was mindful, knowing a similar psychic blast of emotions could unsettle her. Softly, he whispered a joke to himself. He had seen so many films where saying something in these kinds of situations made it come true. "At least it's not raining fresh, fragrant, flowers, and adorable puppies."
Sinister has posed:
Does that EVER work? Give me puppies and flowers and not a creepy old institution where Eugenics were performed? Well, one can hope.

There's always one or two of those rats nearby, seemingly taking it in turns to be close to the X'ers, but they're being in multiple places at once.

He probably shouldn't have shared that, right? Well, if one brick is the beginning of a foundation, one act is the beginning of a play. Actions speak louder than pretty words ever could.

Long and short of that, is: the quarry isn't there, there, there or there, whiskers are telling that truth. When there's only three of you, even if you are THESE three, it never hurts to be cautious. A congregation of rodents gathers at one end of the machine room looking back toward the heros, derelict husks of one active mechanisms going to seed in the dark. Chains, used for haulage, swing overhead of their own free will. But down here? Seems calm. Incredibly, diabolically focused.

Another song: "Schoooooooool's out, for the summer! School's out forever..." and a figure, tall, but not overly so, working in front of the furnace. There's a light source, but it's tiny. A little camping lantern, but it's enough to illuminate that there's a cage made of chicken wire nearby. The man's in dungarees, besmeared with engine oil, grease and generalized nastiness. His hair's a rusty brown and balding on top. The smell of fear is palpable. You don't need wolverine's nose to tell.
Psylocke has posed:
Betsy hears Warren's self-directed whisper behind her, but either he's too soft or she's immediately distracted by the scene in front of them. Rats. Rats that are Mister Sinister, pointing the way with their whiskers.

She feels the tension of the moment, but it doesn't visible affect her. The room is mostly dark, lit by that camping lantern and whatever glow comes from the furnace. Betsy's gaze flickers to the cage: just a second. She's not sure she wants to see what's in it or be distracted by it.

One moment Betsy is standing next to Warren, the next the ninja is across the room, standing in the shadows just behind the furnace. It gives her a moment for a good look at the man -- before she slides forward, the shadows falling away from her as the glimmer of her purple psychic knife springs into being. She has her katana over her back, but she doesn't draw it. She needs to get into this man's head -- she certainly doesn't want to -- but merely killing him won't heal the trauma baked into this building.

Betsy's knife is not so much a physical manifestation as it is a pure expression of her psychic powers, capable of cutting through protections, both conscious and otherwise. It moves as fast as she can -- fast, lithe and precise -- as she seeks to spear him with it. Already, the words are springing to her head, whispered to him. Paving the way, attempting to disarm his thoughts. <<You are not alone. You won't be alone. You don't need them anymore. Let them go.>>
Archangel has posed:
It was a good thing that Warren wasn't afraid of rats. Having a mischief of rats surrounding them was not high on his priority list.

And if that wasn't enough, Psylocke was teleporting through the shadows. He was about to turn to her, only to realize that she had teleported across the room. He muttered something softly under his breath about ninjas, though there was a slight smirk to his lips as he said it in mock frustration.

Seeing what she was up to, he decided to help by becoming a distraction. Although he had approached quietly, soft steps, steady, and deliberate, he now, as he was in a larger room, spread out his wings, and adapted his body language to be what people, monsters and children alike, would view to be a stereotypical angel. If only he had the white robs instead of the black and silver uniform, but beggers can't be choosers.

Doing his best English accent, which wasn't a severe change for him, he said, "Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior Jesus Christ?"
Sinister has posed:
The man ignores the rats. Rats exist in this place, they are not noteworthy. Maybe they talk to him too, like Willard. Maybe they're in the walls, scritching, scratching...

But the bewinged, golden haired angel in a tight uniform is ... is... looking up from his work, there's this look of abject confusion and wide-eyed, wild-eyed deer-in-headlights psychosis staring back at Warren. The man, closer up, they can see is bleeding. His left hand has been removed at the wrist "Little cuts... little cuts..." is whimpered, as there's multiple tools on the table infront of him. Shop tools, bloodied. The cuts claimed his fingers, one by one, then his hand metacarpal by metacarpal until it was a mess of flesh and bone infront of him. This might have been jolly recent, as it's still pooling down his elbow and around the hook he's shoved onto the stump; it looks like he co-opted one of the machine hooks that hang above, it's rusted and hardly a handy prosthetic. The Psycho-killer with a hook for a hand? Oh yes.

And then, his head is bifurcated metaphorically by a ninja punch dagger of sheer psionic energy and his spine arches backwards, head tossed with it, staring up agog at the ceiling.

Shadows shape themselves -- a woman with a gun, transparent and dishwater blond, once. Another man with sandy blond hair and innocent seeming glasses on, yet another large figure, rotund around the middle, wearing a very bad clown suit, they all seem to splinter off out of the psionic contact.

And the incinerator roars, like it's suddenly angry. Or hungry.

And why is the Archangel now glowing with a faint golden halo? Who knows. But there's a lot of rats staring at him.
Psylocke has posed:
As distractions go... that's right up there. Seeing Archangel in all his glory, lit by the halo of the furnace... definitely is memorable. Psylocke will have to give the positive feedback later though, because she's rather distracted herself.

Betsy feels those manifestations part from his mind. That's a problem, as is the furnace. But for now, she focuses on hook-hand. <<Good. Let them go. Relax. Sleep. Be at peace.>> It's not at all difficult to push someone into unconsciousness, psychically. Psylocke can do it in a blink of an eye. But this has finesse to it she isn't normally used to: she's trying to force all those mental demons out, any last manifestations, and shut the metaphorical door behind them, in the hopes that when -- if -- he wakes again, it will be with only his own mind.

What that mind looks like is a matter for another time.

Betsy steps back, slowly, seeking to ease hook-hand to the ground, the knife still plunged deeply into him until she can feel him releasing control.

Those other manifestations are a problem. But she's trusting in Warren and Sinister to deal with them as needed.
Archangel has posed:
If you're going to do something stupid and make a target of yourself, you might as well do it right. No half measures. And Warren went all out. Still lit by the halo, he watched the man, dumbfounded, confused, blinking, staring, and trying to make sense of what he was seeing. Warren was letting the others do what needed to be done.

With him standing there as he was, and Betsy speaking into the man's mind, it was one hell of a one-two punch to anyone's mental state.

He wasn't actually sure what he could do to assist with the shadowplay, the woman with the gun, the man with the glasses, the clown, but he watched as he saw wisps of was it smoke, protoplasm, he had no idea, but there was a curious show going on, whatever it was. He would ask Mister Sinister for a suggestion, but the man was currently dispersed into a mischief of rats.
Sinister has posed:
The one living man other than the two gents in this particular party, goes down like a deflating party baloon. Unconscious, he looks sickly, pale and quite probably in a mild case of hypovolemic shock. That might require treatment when he's in custody. His breath sighs out and more manifestations appear, a middle-aged black man, with a round face and extremely strong looking hands, a handsome fellow with a 'face born to advertising' and a slender fellow in a black leather jacket with a hispanic look to him, they all 'come into being' when he goes into unconsciousness. It's the woman with the .22 revolver that moves first though, raising her weapon and firing it a bit haphazardly at one of Warren's glowy wings. It DOES hit, because bullets fire fast, but there's no acutual injury. The wing-clip stings like a bitch, but it's a small warning. Just like the bruises on Betsy's neck, they can hurt...

But there's also a kid with down's syndrome standing near the emergency stairs, watching with a curios innocence, utterly transparent. A couple more kids, one pulling at her hair which is straggling and patchy because of it. Another with a goofy expression and not-all-the-lights on upstairs.

<<Aah, the innocents. They follow Trauma because they cannot escape from the riptide. Warren, I suggest using cold iron. There's a lot of it hanging about in this place.>> Convienently in his usual 'airborn' space although all out flying might be tricky. <<I've got an angry furnace to deal with...>>

And the mischief is moving, swarming over itself one by one and kind of diving INTO one another, getting bigger, bulkier and slamming into the heavy cast iron door of the incinerator with bodily might and telekinetic force. Sin will be busy. It's fighting back.
Psylocke has posed:
The sad looking remnant of the man she lays down is sufficient to stir most people to sympathy. Not Betsy though. She's been in his head. Not all of this is entirely of his making, but he's no innocent either: the line is blurry though. That she doesn't kill is less a clear cut choice and more an awareness of Warren's presence, not really a conscious thing Betsy considers.

She can feel the furnace. In a way it kind of radiates heat psychically as much as physically, an ever-present burr in the psychic landscape. The ninja rises to her feet just in time to see Sinister hurl himself, physically and telekinetically, at it, however. That leaves her to spin, step back into the shadows...

...and reappear right next to the children near the stairs. "Little ones," has anyone other than Warren ever really heard the utter softness, the maternal notes of Betsy at her most gentle? It might seem an act, but it is not, the warmth genuine and concerned. "You don't need to see this. Here, hold hands. Sing a song. Do you know Ring around the roses? Here-" she can't touch them, and yet she seeks to draw them in, away. To let them sing, while the others do violence, to interpose herself so they cannot see. The damage is already done, but she will not tolerate more.
Archangel has posed:
Somehow, when this is all over, Angel will blame Mister Sinister for getting shot. It won't make sense, but it will be comforting to think of it that way. Though the bullet didn't go through the wing, it still stung like hell. He tried his best to maintain a stiff upper lip, taking it like a man, but he'll ache for some time, unless it magically goes away. Who can tell with supernatural and psychic aspects?

Somewhat confused by the voice suggesting he make use of cold iron, as he briefly contemplated its meaning. Didn't it mean iron that had never been forged and worked with? Weren't their stories, myths, about cold iron, being some kind of magical substance used to restrain wizards. Or was it more simply a poetic term, like cold steel?

Before pondering the meaning for two long, he would look through the vicinity, trying to find something that might match that descriptor. He may be wrong, but sensing that their implements might be useful, he went for two rather long, pieces of medal, one with a blunt end, and the other with a sharp one. Swinging his wings in, to make himself a smaller target, he tried to swing out with the implements, testing to see if he could reciprocate for the bullet to his wings.

And all the while, he could practically feel the soft and sweet way that Psylocke was taking care for the children. It warmed his heart, even if he couldn't focus on it. For he, like Mister Sinister, had other things to worry about. What could Sinister do against a furnace? He had no idea, but he was sure he was going to find out.
Sinister has posed:
Close the door for one. To stop the heat, the hunger, from adding to this insanity. The doorway for the dirty secrets to be disposed of and hidden, cannot stay open. Maybe that's where the trauma seed actually landed and germinated? Who knows. As it is, the red glow around his forehead, in his eyes and about his hands tells of the force he's exerting, as does the snarl on his usually rather calm features -- bet on that villain to not usually let things ruffle him too much, at least on the outside. The sound of tortured metal is one that many, many people find grates the raw nerves of the spine, sets the teeth on edge and the beginnings of that can be heard.

The children shift their attention from the watching to the woman, gentled tones having the power to sooth as a Mother does, they seem a little lost, hesitant to even begin. But they do start to bundle together like wee ghostly sheep, except for the one little girl with trichotillomania. She wanders off, looks back and then walks on again, heading for the cage of chicken wire. She crouches down beside it and looks inside, tug-tugging on her hair. She reaches a finger to the wire, pulls it back sharp, like it stung. Inside? Filthy blankets and unconscious figures, five kids. The two from 'milk cartons' that were labelled missing, three... who never made the Missing person's list. Poor things. Unconsciousness is probably a mercy for them at the moment.

Cold iron can simply mean galvinized, in some instances. Coated, but made of heavy pig-iron not mixed in with anything to make proper stainless steel and that? That's what a lot of this is. The broken pipe and old fencing post make for fantastic escrima sticks, if a bit unwieldy. For all that the manifestations are real, they're also not any more powerful than they were in life. A bullet doesn't stop you being relatively easy to clobber. A strike, two and that shape of shadow and ectoplasm vapourizes into whisps and curls. Which also leads to several other of the shapes charging Warren in a swarm. The hispanic guy has a machete. The handsome chap born to market to the general public, has knives. Who knows what the clown has. Baloons?
Psylocke has posed:
The children gather, and some part of her eases. They gather and gain strength from each other, as Betsy encourages them to sing among themselves. She's noticed the one wandering off, and once the rest are occupied, she follows. The look that passes over her face is deadly, pure fury. If hook-hand weren't already unconscious there is little doubt the ninja would end him right now. If there weren't more pressing matters she probably would, regardless.

Instead, Betsy kneels in front of the ghost-girl. "Go back to the others, little one. I will see to them. You have my word." And she does, in a way. It's merciful, that they are unconscious, and her mind envelopes them, protects them from what's happening, keeps them asleep.

Then she reaches down and picks up one of those metal bars, turning. The manifestations are pressing in on Warren. Regardless of whether they cause physical injuries, hurt in the mind is real enough, and Betsy reacts to the danger to Warren as one would expect. She steps-

-and is standing next to the handsome man. The bar is driven upwards from his back into his chest, and Betsy steps through him, merciless, as she does so, reinforcing it with a psychic command: <<Be gone.>> She spins to the next threat, unceasing.
Archangel has posed:
There was real evil in this world, and unfortunately, they discovered some of it tonight. There would be much to do, an investigation, digging up the land, examining the furnace, looking for clues and evidence, whatever it was. But that was for the police, the paramedics, and other authorities.

These shadows, well, they were easily dealt with. They also didn't appear to feel pain, turning to less coherent shadows, whispers of what once was, on contact with his makeshift escrima sticks.

He wasn't Daredevil or Nightwing, but he knew how to handle himself. Okay, maybe he was laughably bad compared to Psylocke, but that only meant that they'd have to start training sessions if he was expected to get into melee more often.

He moved with a flurry, speed unexpected for someone with his build, as he was considerably lighter than he looked, owing to his bone structure.

In short order, together, they would deal with the entities, so long as more didn't pour out of the furnace. And as if on queue, he was hit in the back of the shoulder back, wincing as he turned to see a figure.
Sinister has posed:
Overall, though there's manifestation after manifestation, it is simply a matter of time and probably a good deal of sweat, before they've finished dispatching. The figure behind Warren is the black man with the large hands. Being hit by those fists was meaningful. After all, those hands had managed to bare-handed strangle several people to death -- the others have their own legacies of sin.

Speaking of Sin, there's an actual bellow of exertion from him as he finally, forcibly gets the furnace almost all the way shut, the flames licking at his fingers and lashing incineration-level heat against his limbs. The sound of it shutting is a loud and angry screech of metal and a solid 'KTHONK'

The red light dims as a result and everything is deafeningly quiet in the wake. A croaky voice, a burned voice "...I am going to make Aloe vera a necessity in any first aid kit. Lesson thoroughly learned..." he doesn't turn around just yet. "Situation report..."
Psylocke has posed:
Only when that final manifestation has dissipated does Psylocke let that metal bar clatter to the ground. She gives Warren a tight look, checking in with him, but truthfully, she has a much higher priority. She doesn't so much open the chicken wire cage as it's torn apart, telepathically, parts of it flying off various directions. She picks up the youngest, sighing.

She knows the weight of this will remain with them for a long time. The erasure is a mercy, in her mind, reaching out to excise the memory of the captivity a kindness.

Betsy can feel the moment that furnace cuts off. It's like a psychic silence after a storm of noise, and it makes her sway for a moment as she adjusts.

"Five children. I'm keeping them down. Warren, could you-" a beat, as she masters her own anger, "-see that the gentleman is tied up." She doesn't trust herself. She wants to kill the perpetrator, evident in her darkened voice.
Archangel has posed:
Warren had been caught unaware by the big burly African American, who had made a habit out of strangling people in life, and it hurt, but it was nothing compared to what the children had gone through, and so many other victims.

When Psylocke gave him a look, he gave a soft nod in the affirmative, that he was all right, letting her focus on the cage. Whilst she was ripping it apart, he reached back with his other hand to rub at the shoulder. That was going to smart.

"Tell me where, and there will be a truck of aloe vera..." Warren offered to Mister Sinister, more joke than a genuine offer, but if actually did want copious amounts of it, that could be arranged.

A quick nod of understand with Betsy, he said, "as you wish," a phrase he often repeated. Picking up some of the chicken wire, he knew that it would hurt, and dig into the man, but it would work as makeshift restraints. He twisted and tied it as needed, until the man was secure. For Betsy's sake, he may not have been as gentle as he might have otherwise been. He was not however, cruel. It was legitimately the best item there to use here.
Sinister has posed:
"I have a soft spot for children," Sinister says softly, to the front of the incinerator. Finally, the smell of burning flesh and hair fades enough and he turns around, looking over at the situation with his own eyes. Third degree burns on his cheek are finally giving way to second degree, first degree and finally that alabaster white he's got going on most of the time. Facial hair grows back in also, as does one of his eyes with a soft 'pop' and bingo, red orb once again. "I thought I'd spare you the hassle of being burned alive, it's extremely unpleasant. I think I shall have this place industrially sterilized when the authorities are finished with it."

He cracks his neck left and right, approaching the other two. The hook-hand is just stared at with a cluck of the tongue as he moves past to the torn-asunder cage, to crouch down and stare. "Selectively, they should remember some of this, or it will be very hard for any case to be made without a shadow of a doubt, against the individual that did this to them. I will contact the local hospitals. They will need... social services and rather delicate handling." It's a monotone he uses, emotion squirrelled very deeply away.

"Thank you both."
Psylocke has posed:
That admission from Sinister gets a long look from Betsy. It's almost as if the words he spoke could have come just as readily from herself. Her cheek is tucked in against that of the boy she cradles against herself as she regards his injured form.

"Thank you, Nathaniel," she says, quietly and fervently. She's not /just/ thanking him for sparing them feeling -- experiencing -- being burned alive, though that might not be immediately apparent.

As Sinister nears and provides his advice about selective memory, Betsy sighs regretfully. "I shall leave the two eldest with some memories."

Carefully, Betsy lowers the boy to lay him alongside the other children, brushing the hair of one of the girls as she concentrates for a moment. Finally, she stands, looking tired, looking to Warren with a gratitude in her gaze, but that hard layer underneath it still. She very carefully doesn't look at his work. She still doesn't trust herself. "We need to be gone, and call in the authorities."
Archangel has posed:
A sideways glance was cast at Mister Sinister. He hesitated, having heard of the soft spot. His first reaction was that Mister Sinister might do something untoward children. Still, he couldn't argue that Sinister had fought to save these, and put the ones who couldn't be saved to rest.

A bridge of trust was built, one brick at a time, and a few were laid tonight, but it was far from complete. He could see the man was already repairing himself, so aloe vera would not be needed. Scooping up one of the children into his arm, careful, delicate, but strong and supportive, he took another by the hand, leading them away, with Psylocke and Sinister, speaking softly, knowing that this memory, their rescue, would be changed through gentle psychic manipulation by Psylocke.

"Yes, thank you, Nathaniel, for what you've done tonight," he agreed. There was much to do, and it was so fortunate to have a telepath and shapeshifter around. The children would be transferred to child services, with Sinister taking an active role into making sure they got exactly the kind of support they needed. But that was for tomorrow. For tonight, the man was arrested, and the search of the premises would commence.

Saving the children, alas, was just the start of this story.