6655/The Spring Orb

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The Spring Orb
Date of Scene: 25 February 2019
Location: Unknown
Synopsis: Summary needed
Cast of Characters: Doctor Strange, Lara Croft, Black Cat

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Nepal. The other side of the world from Greenwich village and yet, there is an eye on the small north indian country as Stephen knew the time was right for Felicia to hold up her end of the bargain and go to retrieve an artifact. An artifact whose sibling Stephen and Lara argued over once before.

    Stephen warned Felicia that the place was a monestary long forgotten in the foothills of the Himalayas and in a part of the world that was perpetually cool with biting northern winds blowing constantly. Likely a key reason the sanctuary was abandoned centuries ago. When it was thriving, there were maybe a hundred monks who lived in the remote structure with a large room of artifacts stored deep in its bowels, guarded by dangerous and cunning traps that the goonies would succumb to without question. These are on par with the great stories of Jones and others of that ilk.

    The monestary now lies dormant and just as deadly as ever, the cobwebs lie, very few living creatures call this place home, and none know of the darkest secrets inside the stone walls.

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara was in Nepal for this very reason. It'd take a lot of research and a long time to track down this 3rd sphere within the set. She had to do quite a lot of book reading, searching and interviewing... She knew she couldn't go to Strange because he didn't really WANT her to find these artifacts, he felt they were best safe where they have been all these years, but Lara... konwing the strength and capability of HYDRA and Trinity? Well, she disagreed.

Lara respects Stephen Strange, more than she respects most people, but she and he don't see eye to eye on things quite often.

Now though, Lara is progressing up to this long forgotten monastery and she's doing so with Jonah Maiava at her side, her long time friend and often traveling companion on these outings. "Lara!" Jonah says. "You know I care for you like a sister, but sometimes I feel you downplay the difficulty of getting to these places."

Lara looks back to her friend, they're both in cold weather gear, she flashes a grin at him. "We're here. Stop complaining." She teases him as she moves to what she believes to be the main entrance. "Help me with this door." Its a massive doorway and its been seemingly shut for who knows how long.

Black Cat has posed:
Money can get one almost anywhere, Felicia learned long ago, according to her father's wisdom. As such, a plane ticket or two later and a chartered guide later (with connections through a friend of a friend of a friend in the undercurrents of Asia proper), the thief dismounts from the borrowed donkey. A placid, sweet-hearted animal, she's certain to give it a friendly scratch along the curvature of the plate of its cheek. It chews idly at its bit after giving her a thickly-lashed glance. From upon a ridge on the opposite approach to the monestary in question, she hands the reins over to the sun-kissed man in his warm clothing.

"<<Thank you,>>" says she in broken, basic Tamil. "<<Please, go safely.>>" The wish is warmer than the weather. Pulling the hood of her coat up against the wind, she then turns and begins to pick her way down the slope. About a third of the way along the slope, she sees movement near the entrance and freezes in the shadow of an outcropping. A squint and the thief hisses to herself, the sound almost gutteral and feline.

"Dammit..." Then, the grimace turns into a toothy smirk. "Well...they can set off all the traps first for me." With that, Felicia continues to pick her way down towards the entrance, keeping out of sight.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The monestary is a grey-brown affair with very little over growth being the constant autumn weather where not much can grow plus the whole place is built upon and with rocks and stone.

    Inside the heavy huge doors, Lara would find a large stack of bones against the wall with signs of burn marks having lasted this long against the elements, either it was recent or being against the wall and under the tiny overhang meant the remeains were safe from the weather. Likely this place wasn't abandoned in the traditional sense.

    Inside the doorway is a large courtyard with a path leading from the door Lara just opened all the way to the main building nearly half an acre away. It's a large area that was once used for martial arts training as well as any other thing one could think of doing in the monestary.

    The building across the way is just as old and delapidated as well, covered in webs and dust, but still in good structural standing.

Lara Croft has posed:
Neither Lara nor Jonah are aware of another person's arrival behind them, though they're certainly experienced people at keeping track of whether or not they're being followed/monitored... so Felicia will have to watch her step around them, they might be jumpy based on past events!

Once inside, Lara steps first and as she does-so she looks back to her friend. "Be caref--"

"Careful." Jonah says in his deep voice. "I know, Lara. You've said that to me a million times before." He releases a heavy exhale and spots the bones before Croft. "Great. Dead people. Old. Dead people no less."

Lara's eyes go to the bones and she pulls out a recording device (It says Stark Tech) on the back of it. She captures several images of the bones. "I only say it because these spheres have been protected by magical means for... a very long time. Pitfalls in this place might be quite unlike those we've come across before."

"Magic Booby Traps." Jonah replies as he turns around to take in the sights of the place. "For a sphere that controls the weather of the Fall season? Does that mean if we get it, I can make it snow during all the football games that I want teams to lose and be bright and sunny for my team?"

Lara smirks as she starts to rise up to her feet again, she passes by him and starts to scan the area herself. "Something like that..." She softly replies. With a light sigh she scans for signs of actual life. "He was burned." She notes. "Our dearly departed there. Could be a 'magical trap'. Could be something else." She starts to cross the training round, with Jonah on her heels.

Black Cat has posed:
From shadow to shadow, Felicia darts, patiently despite the way that the chill of the wind is making her fight to keep her teeth from chattering. She can hear the distant musicality of conversation now across the open air before the monestary doors. Waiting until she can no longer see the two individuals, she quick-steps silently to the side of the entryway, remaining out of immediate line of sight.

Listening carefully with her eyes shifted off and down towards her boots to indicate the intensity of her concentration, the cat-burglar frowns to herself. "Couldn't have stashed it somewhere warmer, like...Costa Rice?" The grump is sotto-voce to herself as she then pulls out a small compact mirror and flips it open in her black-gloved hand. Carefully, she leans it out from around the hewn-stone framing of the monestary's doorway and attempts to see just whom reflects back at her from the mirror's angled surface.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The rock path between the exterior wall and the inner buildings is well worn, weathered by countless soles that plodded across the rock. Now litered with dust and nothing much more. The facilities inside are anicent as well with the main building being a large three story structure with the explorers knowing it goes many many floors down inside.

    The doorway is barred from outside though it's a push door, meaning the people inside were trapped by those outside, with the large stone bar in the braces of the door it would have been impossible to open the doorway from the inside.

    Near the door is a couple of metal forged bars, likely used to move the stone slab in order to lock and unlock the door. But there's no way two people would be enough to open the lock, even with the levers, right?

Lara Croft has posed:
As the duo approach the doorway that has been barred heavily, Jonah just gawks at it. "It looks like they're trying to keep Kong in there." He says. He walks toward the door to try to push on the beams, but they're not budging. "Is this where the Autumn sphere is?" He asks his friend.

"Spring Sphere, Jonah." Lara corrects him idly as she walks past him and investigates the contraption. She has a lot of ideas on what might be behind such a barred doorway, none of them she wants to share with Jonah yet.

"There." She points upward at the area above the doorway. "Its a pully operated system... The rope is just... snapped. Cut more likely." Lara takes off her traveling pack, shimmying out of the shoulder straps and then she starts toward the side of the building to climb it, nimbling ascending. "Wait there."

"Yeah, no problem." Jonah says to her, clearly having no desire to climb after her. "You're the lemur amongst the two of us any way."

It only takes a few moments before Lara is in place. She has the cut rope and... she jumps, using it to catch her weight and then slowly descend on the rope now, causing the beams barring the door to spread apart in either way, and Johan to take several steps back while picking up Lara's pack off of the ground.

Black Cat has posed:
As Felicia catches sight of the pair in her mirror, she squints yet again. "Mysteries upon mysteries..." she murmurs to herself as she watches Lara set down her pack beside her larger-built companion. Once their attention is engaged with the broken pulley system of momentous size, the cat-burglar closes the compact mirror and then slips into the courtyard.

At a brisk pace, with timing attempted to coincide with the grinding of weathered mechanisms shifting, she tries to make it diagonally across the courtyard and to hop the nearest wall in order to duck down behind it.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The rope is very old and freying in all kinds of places, but the acrobatic archeologist holds tight, thankful the gloves she wears protect from rope burns as she slides a bit before hitting a knot and her whole weight goes into lifting the doors only for them to crack under her weight and literally break and fall to the ground.

    The inside of the main building is musty, old and dank. There is a fog or dust cloud lingering in the air as far as the light peeking in the doorways reveals. It's nasty and gross. The plan for the building is understandable, as to one side is the main areas while to the other is the sleeping quarters, while the more senior members of the group would harbor on the upper floors as well as the areas for meditation and worship.

    The interior is baren with a few rotted bodies though there are no fires inside the place to have claimed the monks who passed here. Though there are fingernail carved lines, bloody on the interior of all the doorways, especially the one Lara broke.

    The mystery of what happened at the sanctuary is not why any one is here this day but the search for the artifacts is. The staircase down isn't easily found, a rotten wooden hatch covers a hole in the floor in the main chapel like area with a black interior as light could not naturally reach this place. Stair descend slowly into a hidden cave.

Lara Croft has posed:
While holding Lara's backpack, Jonah looks over to where Black Cat had JUST been, but he doesn't see her. He'd caught some idea of something being there, but it just made the hair on the back of his neck raise. As does everything revealed by Lara's actions. "Lara." Jonah says, seeing what she revealed inside the structure. "This is the sight of many ghosts. None of which will be happy or pleased." He's a religious man, and he has a sixth-sense about danger sensing, especially with 'evil' and paranormal things.

"We won't linger in this place long." Croft says as she walks past him and takes her backpack from him. "Come on." She says, rummaging through her pack and pulling out a torch that she lights with a press of a button, causing a bright white beam of light to help illuminate their pathway.

Jonah hesitates, staring at all the remains while Lara seems to completely disregard all of that with a cold detachment from such things. "Not soon enough..." Jonah mutters in response.

"There." Lara announces. "A stairway. Lets go." Her light beam guides the way, as she slides her backpack onto her shoulders once more, but pulls the climbing axe off of the side of it to hold it down at her hip.

"Its comforting to see you reach for a weapon." Jonah says with a great deal of sarcasm on his voice as he tails her.

"Its for prying, Jonah. You know, stuck doors."

"Yeah, right."

Black Cat has posed:
Again appears the edge of the compact mirror overtop the low-lying wall surrounding the nearby building to the courtyard. Felicia squints at the two figures entering the monestary proper. A thoughtful sound and she slips the mirror away into her inner coat pocket once more. Turning on the pads of her boots, she then slowly rises up into view, eyes about as bright as a feral cat.

Bip-bip-bip, across the open space she goes, and again, she pauses just outside of the giant doors now thrown wide for the first time in who knows how long. She sniffs at the air and wrinkles her nose. "Pheh," comes the whisper, complete with little show of pink tongue. "Stagnant air. Alright, lab rats, show me what the boogiemen have set up..." Again, she carefully leans part of her face into view to watch Lara and Jonah walk further inside, their golden spread of flashlight bringing things into immediate view.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The descent into darkness is easily made less spooky by the thousand lumen torch Lara weilds at the darkness. The stairs are hand carved into the cave, where the only other thing breaking the shadow of the inner earth besides Lara's light is the sound of their footsteps. It's a hollow narrow path down and down into the planet. It feels like it's getting warmer and warmer as they descend lower and lower, never turning or shifting and yet the stairs are all perfectly level, even this old.

    A pinpoint of light ahead appears, a single blue light, but it flickers as though it is on fire and begins to grow as the duo approaches.

    Closer to the surface or perhaps still in the main building proper, Felicia will hear the sounds of a low rumbling hiss, a turbine. A bunch of them. Something is flying over or near by. Odd as the entire trek to the monestary there wasn't so much as an international flight over head, Now something is flying just above the mountaints near by...

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara and Jonah are way too low beneath the ground now to hear any sounds of approaching aircraft.

"I have a bad feeling about this, Lara." Jonah finally says after a little bit of silence had lingered between them while they descended the stairwell.

"It'll be fine." The Brit replies with a hardened confidence. She switches her flashlight off when she sees the flicker in the distance. "There, we're getting closer." With the light off now though, Lara uses her arm to push Jonah back up against the wall behind her and she motions toward something on the floor. "Don't step there." She says. "Pressure plate. I'm not sure what it does, but... just, stay close."

Together they shimmy around past the pressure plate on the floor. But with their flashlight off... if Felicia comes down here, she MIGHT not know its there!

Black Cat has posed:
Felicia's only one step into the main entryway when she hears the sound of what could be thumping helicopter blades. She tenses up, almost gaining an inch despite the low heels of her boots, and quickly looks between the distant figures deeper within the monestary and the wane, windy light of outside and the courtyard proper.

A long hiss, like a cornered snake, and she turns to continue deeper into the relict building. The sudden loss of the flashlight is enough to make her come to a complete halt. A slow inhale and exhale to center herself, and the thief then blinks hard a few times. It takes a little, but...maybe this cursed existance isn't all that bad after all? What light filters in turns everything faintly silver though the shadows are inky-dark.

With her back pressed to the wall, she dares to try and make it down the stairs after Lara and Jonah without tripping up any stray pebbles. It's the pressure plate that might be the end-all. As she continues watching again, criss-crossing her steps, the very edge of her boot clips it...

Doctor Strange has posed:
    In the unnatural blue flickering light, sits the orb on a large stone pedastel. The light comes from a torch, but it's a brilliant blue white flame, not exactly something that could have been in this cave for centuries unattended. As far as she knows, Lara didn't trigger anything that could have then been used to ignite the fire, but her prize is still with in reach.

    Felicia's boot is not a good thing. The plate clicks beneath Felicia and then it starts to grind against stone as it sinks further and further, before it shifts and the material changes, anyone without the reflexes of a cat would be trapped permanently in the quick concrete like chemical shift the plate turned into.

    The sounds above get louder and louder and all three parties would feel the vibrations through the ground and into their legs and cores. Something, something big is landing and someone else is here...

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara's eyes are forward on the 'prize' that appears to be at the end of the dark tunnel. She isn't really focused on whats behind her.

Jonah, however is about to look backward in Felicia's direction when he hears that loud thumping sounds. "Lara." He says in a grim tone. "I have a bad feeling about this." He flips his flashlight back on and then hears the pressure plate behind him spins around, but with the luck of crossing the black cat's path, Jonah's flashlight flips out of his hand and goes twirling to the floor where it starts to roll away. "Shit." He utters as the light beaming coming from the device is compressed against the floor now.

Lara, herself, is pushing forward further into the tunnel. She doesn't realize Jonah isn't following her now. "We'll be fine. I'm sure there's another way out of here... If we get the item, we can likely--" She cuts herself off and reaches for her gun on her thigh.

Black Cat has posed:
There's the fast sound of Felicia's thinly-warm parka dragging on the monestary wall as she hears the contact of stone against stone, a tell-tale sign that she's tripped some trap. Airbourne for a second in an attempt to fully clear the area by at least a handful of feet, she lands as quietly as she can manage. Crouching, she turns her face away from the twirling flash of the beam as the flashlight travels away from the unfortunate Jonah. It draws across her body and sharp eyes will pick out the glimmet of silver threading on the laces of her boots as well as a loose lock of platinum-blonde hair rather than just a matte-black shadowy lump.

The deeper vibrations are enough to make her consider the stairway leading back up towards the entrance and, to her knowledge, the only way out so far. However, the distant lure of the supernaturally-blue torch and the orb is what she needs to be rid of this damned tail. With a flash of grimaced teeth, she then turns and makes to dart past Jonah and perhaps even past Lara. Maybe a fast 'yoink' and equally brisk retreat will work in her favor!

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Outside, Hydra agents have boots landing on the ground as their craft has easily made it to the remote location. One full transport airboat lands on the courtyard with steps unfolding and a swarm of cyberpunk looking soldiers scamper down the ramps and fan out, aiming to protect and secure the location. It will be some time before they are working their way down, but they are starting to cut off exit routes for our heroes.

    Down below, the orb sits in a dank cave opening with that unearthly blue flame flickering above it, and with a low rumble the room begins to shake, spires of dust fall in the light and linger, something is happening. Plates are moving and sliding into place. An unseen rube goldberg machine hidden within the rocks belie the fact that the pedistal holding out the orb is endangered. The blue flames flicker hard as the air pressure shifts and the mechanism continues to move and click it's ominous sounds.

Lara Croft has posed:
Jonah is retrieving his flashlight when Felicia is just barely noticed. "Hey!" He calls out in his deep baritone voice, but the nimble cat is already on her way past him. He spins around now with his flashlight back in grasp and he aims it after her.

"Lara, look out!" Jonah calls out to his friend as he sees Felicia making a dart past her and seemingly tripping all of the pressure plates along the way.

Now, Croft turns and sees the woman running past her, also seeing the pressure plates getting tripped which makes her start to chase. "Jonah, run!" Lara shouts after her friend, and now all three of them are running, Jonah is in the rear though... being the least nimble of their trio.

Black Cat has posed:
It's an all-out sprint on the cat-burglar's part across the stone flooring. She hears the grinding continue to increase and it's like having the breath of danger right on the nape of her neck. Thank god she wore her suit beneath this thermal get-up! She comes to a breathless, split-second stop before the ancient display of pedestal and eerie blue-firelight. Felicia is easily seen by the glow it sheds as a svelte outline beneath a parka with its hood drawn up.

Gloved hands reach into the alcove in the wall and grip around the Orb of Spring without care for immediate reactionary magical lashback -- it's all become about the fastest way out now.

Immediately, she attempts to run along the opposite side of the room, still headed for the stairwell where they first entered. Hear above the rumble of the room reacting, is that...

...a hysterically-frightened tittering coming from the thief? It is.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Forwards, ahead into the cave, light is scarce, but there's wind, and a HUGE crumbling sound from behind the heroes as the stair case they came down starts to collapse into nothingness. A rockslide is starting at the top of the monestary but it's quickly causing a collapse down towards the resting position of the spring orb. The young women and Jonah are trapped as the way they came in is being cut off, but there's a natural path on the other side of the pedestal, working it's way upwards.

    Up on the surface of the mountain, the monestary shakes and the hydra agents all start to look around curiously before an enormous plume of dirt and smoke shoots out of the main building, the rockslide was complete, there's no way into the tunnel from where they planned on entering. The head agent moves back to the airboat and starts to have the machine begin to geosurvey the mountain with a series of heavy glowing spikes fired from the craft and into the mountains surface. They will find a way to get that orb. One way or another. Hydra can not fail in this.

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara is not far behind Felicia at all and when she sees the thief make for the orb she raises her gun and plants her feet. "Stop!" Lara shouts at her foe. "You've set off all of the mechanics that were put in place to secure this magical item, there is no going back the way we came now!" Lara's not even sure if that have that much time before this part of the cave they're in crumbles along with everything else now too.

Jonah comes huffing and puffing to catch up, behind Lara's right shoulder. He comes to a stop and he looks past his friend toward Felicia. "Woah, she's a looker." He says with a breathless voice.

"Focuuus, Jonah." Lara says through gritted teeth.

"Right." Jonah clears his throat. "Give us the orb, pretty lady and we won't have to hurt you!" He's trying to sound very authoritative now and scary also.

Black Cat has posed:
With the stairway dissolving into a morass of broken stone and dust that has Felicia coughing in seconds, she slides to a halt and cringes as she comes short of the last falling boulder. The Orb is still tucked to her ribs as she turns and stares at the two fellow adventurers with wide, startled eyes. The torchlight gleams through them in eerie nightshine in passing and those pupils? Vertical.

Jonah's immediately marked as the weakness. The other woman? She's got a spine of steel and gun in her hands pointed dead at the thief. Felicia's eyes slide to the natural tunnel leading off from the corner, beyond the room and past the duo standing before her.

Then, wearing her best winsome smile, Felicia takes aim at Jonah. "Surely we can come to an agreement...? You see, I'm not a collector. Someone much more important than me needs this and..." She points a free finger towards the cave ceiling. Her voice remains smooth and cajoling. "I don't think any of us like the sound of those vehicles. I don't think any of us like they're on our side." Slowly, to make certain she doesn't startle anyone with a weapon, she pulls back the parka hood. Her pale-blonde hair spills out and into view. "Can't we be friends...?" A little flutter of eyelashes is shot towards Jonah once more even as she attempts a slouched pose. The thief's hips don't lie.

Lara Croft has posed:
Jonah is definitely effected by the woman's appearance once the voice is spoken and the face is revealed by a pushed-back hood. "Uh..." He starts to formulate a response. "I mean, its possible, we'd have to--"


Lara pulls the trigger on her gun and sends a bullet colliding into the soft dirt right at Felicia's feet. She's not messing around and thats clear. "No deal. Hand it over! Now!"

Jonah nearly jumps out of his skin at the gunshot and then curses in another language, something in Spanish. "Lara!" He says. "Lets at least hear her out, she may be on our side."

"We're on our side, thats all that matters." Croft replies to her companion, her gun now aimed right at Felicia's nose. Yeah, she's a tough one, doesn't seem to be anywhere near interested in dealing with this cat-eyed woman.

Black Cat has posed:
Felicia heavily flinches at the sudden resounding sound of the gun firing. Her knees draw together and the hand uplifted to initially point at the ceiling then spreads fingers and palm towards Lara.

She speaks again after Lara draws the lines. "Guess if nobody's on my side, I'm on my own. Typical." Her wily tone has melted away and left behind a cast to her features that glitters with cold disdain. Her smile, while a curve of lips, insinuates butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. "I won't waste your time any longer since you're not interested in a deal."

The arm holding the gently-glowing Orb tucked to the curve of her waist makes a quick, subtle gesture. Out rolls a marble-sized ball, black and lustrous to blend visually against her suit until engaged.


Even as the wee round smokebomb explodes, Felicia ducks off to one side and attempts to book it towards that natural pathway that has to be her ticket to freedom!

Lara Croft has posed:
"Not everyone is a villain, Lara." Jonah says back to the British woman, eluding to one of the many debates the two of them have had together, he being the friendly one and she being the... well, less friendly.

Lara doesn't say anything to that, because her attention is fully on that of Felicia and when the woman feigns motion with the orb then drops the smoke pellet it erupts almost at the exact same time as Lara's gun goes off again! Another shot fired into the now smoke-filled screen that the Black Cat has deployed.

"Shit!" Lara shouts then, she and Jonah both bathed in smoke. He's waving his hand in front of his face and she's already starting forward to try to chase based off of memories of where the exit was.

"Or maybe they are..." Jonah says between coughs, the beam of his flashlight shining around in the haze.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The tunnel isn't quickly traversed, it's natural and jagged, there's even a source of running water that disappears underneath the pedetsal. It's dangerous, sharp and slow. Easy enough to get shot, but also hard to shoot when you have no true footing. Felicia might be faster with her enhanced agility, but Lara is in her natural element.

    Up top the airboat is still scanning building a soft-light 3d model of the tunnel systems that the monks used as the counter system for the air of the passages beneath the monestary. "Heading 2-4-7." The agent says before the ship starts to take off once more.

Black Cat has posed:
Felicia's a swift silhouette in black and if it weren't for the gentle glow of the Orb of Spring, her disappearance might be successful. Instead, like a distant glowstick, it marks where she disappears into what appears first to be rock, but is instead a natural tunnel.

Once within the confined zone, the thief gets to scrabbling -- and it's very literally scrabbling, given the surroundings. She hisses soft curses as she scrapes elbows and knees climbing over natural rock protrusions and definitely has to catch herself on a ragged shelf on the tunnel wall as the water makes traction questionable. All the while, she's listening for the gunshots to potentially come and potentially end her attempt to bring the Orb back to the Doctor.

"I need a raise!" she pants to herself. What to ask the Doc for...

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara's off like an arrow after the thief too, but she's not blind to the needs of her slower and less experienced friend needing to keep up, so as irony would have it, Lara is dropping actual glowsticks that she's cracking and activating in her wake every 20 or so meters that she traverses with some serious terrain parkour skills on display, she's definitely in her natural enviroment and its showing as she's able to gain some ground on Black Cat.

In a potentially un-nerving moment another gunshot does ring out and does bounce off a rock not far from where Felicia is, but then terrain gets too rough tokeep her gun out and Lara is forced to switch to her axe to keep up.

Metal clangs against hard rock, the sounds of the tomb raider hot on the cat's tail. And Jonah, stumbling long behind them, his hulking form making it take quite a lot longer.

Black Cat has posed:
The bullet sparks in the darkness nearby to the cat-burglar and she lets out a rowling yelp that echoes through the tunnel on the heels of the gunshot.

"Go //AWAY!!!//" Surely her shout also travels through the extension of the meandering, slowly-rising escape route. There's a brief period of time where Felicia gains some of her lost ground across a stretch of the rocky ground where the stalagmites are less dense and the water's trickling flow diverts off to one side rather than beneath her boots' tread.

Ahead, she thinks she can see the lightening of a distant exit to the outside world above. The thief churns limbs now and rather than thinking hard about incoming obstacles in rocky risk, she too slips into a series of lithe ducks and leaps, hurdles and dodges. She can be tracked by the Orb's glow, but also by the growing amount of sunlight from above that shines in a good number of meters out yet.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    The thrusters flair a brilliant blue and the heavy thunderous roar from the engines echo off the mountain range surrounding the monestary. The olive green machine rises up and moves towards the exit passage-way that leads down to the former resting spot of the orb of spring. Though the agents aren't aware of what's going on inside the mountain. The crew reaches up to the natural lip and unloads a duo of agents, small arms weapons hang from their backs and large packs on their backs meant exactly for the spelunking purpose. Seems Hydra was planning for everything.

Lara Croft has posed:
As luck might have it, Felicia's request shouted back at the ever-diligent woman tailing her might've worked? There's no more noises behind Felicia for a spell, long enough to likely make her believe that perhaps Lara stumbled or something happened to her to keep her from catching up...

Alls clear to the sunlight?


Wooden splinters go everywhere in front of Felicia, and a very old ore cart slams through a wooden wall, then jumps the old iron tracks and collides against the stone wall on the opposite side before it topples over onto its side... empty interior.

Except now, Lara is stepping out from inside that old separate mine shaft and she's turning and aiming her gun back at Felicia, having gotten ahead of her somehow?!

"I can't let you have that orb." The British explorer/and possible Jason Vorhes-level pursuer, exclaims while clicking the hammer back on her gun.

Black Cat has posed:
Uttering another choked scream of shock, Felicia isn't able to stop cleanly this time given the water on the rocky flooring. Spray skids up from her boots even as she's curling her shoulder against debris from the renegade ore cart and then she lands on her butt -- plop -- to skid a foot or two more. By the time Lara's got the gun narrowed and nocked upon the thief, she's on her feet again with the Orb somehow miraculously untouched by her brief fall. It's still tucked to her side. Felicia lets out a literal hiss and bares her teeth in a moment of inhuman peevishness, something she'd never do but for the spell upon her person.

"And why the hell do //YOU// want it?! You're a collector? Go jump off a bridge. I need this to get myself uncursed!" She makes no further motions as she stands there, panting and giving Lara the glittering glare of a half-cornered animal.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Between words from the two women there is a couple of sounds of rounds being chambered and two guns being charged and armed.

    "Freeze you two!" Shouts the lead hydra agent as he levels his sub machine gun at Lara while his partner levels his gun at Felicia. "Give us the orb. Now!" Shouts the second agent as he steps up to enter the mouth of the cave with a frown and a harsh shove as he aims the weapon threateningly at the thief.

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara keeps the gun trained on the woman as she respond to her. "I'm a SHIELD Agent and I'm taking that orb to a place where it can be kept safe under constant guard and watchful eyes." She says. "These orbs were guarded by magic users who are not longer able to keep up with a world thats evolved too quickly around them. Now they've lost their magical wardens and are exposed to those who would mean to use them for pure evil."

She takes a step toward Felicia then. "And I'm not going to allow that."

From back the way they came, Jonah's heavy breathing can be heard, and an armful of lit chem lights can be seen clutched to his chest. He's muttering. "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this..." as he chugs along, catching up to the two nimble women. He's actually the first to see the HYDRA agents entering the cavern mouth. "Uh, Lara." He says, just before the mercenary speaks.

Now, Croft spins about on her heels with her gun still aimed... she doesn't fire, she just aims at them. "Do you hear our voices?" Lara calls out to the agents then. "They're not echoing inside this cave. Which means the walls are weak and prone to collapse. If you fire a single shot in here, you're risking the orbs existence, let alone your own lives." Its a bluff, really, she just doesn't want them to shoot until she can figure something out...

Black Cat has posed:
"Yeah, well -- " Felicia's snarling reply, all steaming with ire and ready to be leveled at the competent adventurer falls to silence as she hears Jonah behind her. She spins in place and a swirl of blonde hair to stare in shock at him. The expectation for him to catch up was little to none. Then comes the spin-back towards the sudden appearance of the HYDRA agents. The Orb is grabbed up and clutched to her chest, smack to her sternum, heedless of what it looks like pillowed against her parka.

Standing stock-still, her eyes flick from Lara standing her ground to the other two agents and her dark lashes widen more yet to hear of the stack of structural support in the tunnel itself.

"...yeah! And you don't want me to use the Orb, because I will!" she adds as additional threat towards the agents.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    "Use it. If you can." The agent says to Felicia, his weapon trained on the their, but then he shifts his attention to Johan and back to Felicia, as the two of them aren't techincally armed like Lara is. Her guard keeps a steady aim on her and he tells her, "Drop the gun, now." He knows the collapse below would have caused this area to collapse just as much as a bullet would have. "We're Hydra, not morons, unlike you SHIELD agents. Now, drop the gun or die." The agent commands of Lara, the hovering airboat circling around the valley the monestary was tucked into, about halfway through the flight path to circle back around to the ledge.

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara is aware of Jonah's return and she's internally grateful of it, but she's not reacting to him since there's so much going on.

No, what Croft does is backup and walk closer to Felicia, standing just beside/in front of the Thief. She keeps her gun on the HYDRA agents in her left hand while her right hand darts backward, she reaches for Felicia's well guarded orb (No not like that).

A quick glance to the woman. "Move your hand." Lara says, as she wishes to places her right hand onto the Spring sphere. If allowed, she's going to start chanting something. Its the same something that sent out that magical alarm to Stephen Strange the first time they met, when a portal opened as an emergency response to one of these sphere's being in trouble... meant to be used only by the wizard who was tasked with guarding the sphere.

Lara's intention here? An escape route, right to Doctor Strange, only viable if one has their hand on the sphere and chants that special phrase in a long forgotten tongue.

Black Cat has posed:
Felicia stands very, very still under the attention of the HYDRA agents, especially now that the British adventurer's bluff has been blown and they aren't going to take the thief's own threat seriously in any way, shape, or form. Her eyes slide to Jonah and linger before flicking back to the men.

Lara is given a very pointed scowl, but it turns out that her shift to one side allows the woman access to place a palm against the Orb in question. The thief gasps audibly as the relic in her hands begins to glow to the speech leaving Lara's mouth. It's in no language she's heard before!

Doctor Strange has posed:
    There's a sudden vaccum appearing between Lara and the Hydra agents that widdens quickly into a large hole, with gusts of atmosphere shifting between New York City and Nepal. "Who disturbs my slum- Oh. You two..." Stephen says with a frown as he crosses his arms and taps his foot while looking at the women.

    For the two hydra agents they see a wall, covered in books and tomes through the portal, the opposite side of the portal that Stephen has opened up in response to the warning of the orb.

    Stephen doesn't seem too concerned, but more annoyed as he doesn't know about the gunmen holding the three explorers at gunpoint. "What are you two doing?"

Lara Croft has posed:
Jonah drops all the chem lights on the ground and just holds his hands up in front of him. "Hey, don't look me... I'm just the cook!" He exclaims, which isn't exactly true. He has a shotgun on his back inside of a leather sheath, and he's a big muscular dude, but still, he is a hell of a cook too.

When the portal opens and Strange starts his blustering speech to intimidate whatever random person he thinks is calling upon him, Lara just exhales with relief. "Stephen!" She says then before she looks back to the Thief. "Go!" She says to her, telling Felicia to go through the portal first? The orb's safety means more to her than her own life it would seem.

"Come on." She motions to Jonah too, wanting him to go next, if possible.

Then her eyes shoot back to Strange. "We're coming through. HYDRA is here, their weapons are trained on us on the oe the other side of this portal." The winds of the outside of the cavern are blowing wildly now with the portal open, her dark hair flying about the sides of her face.

Black Cat has posed:
"Don't have to tell me twice!" With that, Felicia leaves Jonah the not-cook behind in a swirl of dust and muddy bootprints tracked into the Sanctum's dry warmth. Immediately, the thief makes to disappear upstairs -- downstairs -- down a hallway -- behind a relic case -- anywhere she can to hide from the gun-toting Lara who means such business!

She ends up hidden with the Orb and from this place, shouts, "She tried to shoot me, Doc, turn her into a frog! Or something!"

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Stephen, not one to take a threat of guns lightly reaches out into Nepal to grab Lara's arm after Jonah has entered the sanctum and pulls the tomb raider through to Greenwich. Then with a flick of his wrist the portal is simply gone. Behind the wizard Nepal fades into memory as he steps towards Lara, and frowns. "Holster your weapon Lara." Stephen says, crossing his arms before his chest before he turns to Felicia and tell the thief. "Step out, Black Cat, no one is going to harm each other in this place. Or they /will/ answer to me." Stephen then looks at Lara. Not at all happy about this current situation.

Lara Croft has posed:
Once the other two are through, Lara looks past the portal as best she can for a second but then she's pulled through by Strange!

Stumbling a step or two, her gun is now pointed straight down in front of her, clutched between both of her hands... she's still in 'alert mode' so it takes some time to let the adrenaline wear off. After he tells her to put her gun away she... does, but it seems to be a little difficult for her to do it. She's an adrenaline junkie though, so its hard to get out of that mode once in it.

"Wait." Lara says, now standing there, covered in dirt and muck from the--now--faraway mountain atop. She looks from Strange, to the Cat, back to STrange. "You two know each other?"

Meanwhile, Jonah is looking around the room he's entered into and he's got a dumbfounded expression on his face. "Is this Hogwarts?" He says in a breathy/tired voice.

Black Cat has posed:
From behind a desk nearby, Felicia slowly lifts her head like a cautious mouse from its hole. She's still got the Orb tucked to her parka-sporting torso and her hair is mussed on one side from the speed of her travels. She dares to run fingers back through it to return it to its lazy spread as she fully stands. She doesn't come out from //behind// the desk, however, and glowers.

"Yes, he's my boss. He's the one who needs this Orb and he's more important than you," she shoots at Lara furiously. "Also, I'm cursed!" She reaches back beneath her parka to pull out the pale-furred cat tail as proof. "So you can go jump off a bridge if you think you're taking this Orb from me!"

Her off-green eyes flick to Jonah. "But not him, he means nice. He's just along for the ride," the cat-burglar clarifies. "He doesn't need to be a frog, Doc. Only the gun-wielding lunatic does."

Doctor Strange has posed:
    Stephen's eyes remain on Lara, mostly because he knows she wants SHIELD to have the orb, while also knowing he doesn't want them to have access to such mystical powers. "On the desk in front of you is a small black box. Cat, open the lid and place the orb inside." Stephen says, his attention still on Lara. "We want the same thing archeologist, but I can't trust your people. I don't have that luxury." Stephen explains once more to the British woman.

Lara Croft has posed:
Jonah moves to stand behind Lara's left shoulder, much taller than her he looms above her like a guardian of her. 'Little mouse' he likes to call her.

Croft's eyes drift over to Felicia and she watches the woman rise up from behind the desk and then explain everything... This, clearly adjusts Lara's mood, no longer does she seem happy to see Strange.

No, in fact when her eyes return to Stephen she looks directly at him, mad, possibly even hurt. "You could've just talked to me." She finally says, her voice decidedly laced with restrained fury.

"I know we've had our differences, on this matter. But I thought you trusted me to do the right thing."

Jonah doesn't know who Strange is, he doesn't know who Felicia is. Jonah doesn't know WHERE he is. He just looks over to the Black Cat and quietly says. "Thanks. I uh, think."

Black Cat has posed:
Without anything more than a soft snort of hauteur, Felicia primly reaches out to the black box on the desk's top. She picks the hasp open easily enough and deposits the Orb of Spring within. It clicks shut with a sharp finality and she dares an affecionate pat-pat of the container. Then, with marked indolence (and insolence), she moves out from behind the desk and sheds the parka as she goes. It's tossed lazily back onto the desk to leave her in her full catsuit zipped to her chin against the cold, complete with white-fur lining from sternum to throat.

The cat-burglar ends up behind and to one side of the wizard, her arms crossed beneath her chest and she quietly replies to Jonah, "You're welcome." She winks at him to boot. Now that there's no longer the dark eye of a gun pointed at her person, she's back to her usual savoir-faire, complete with hips-a-kilter stance perfected by every supermodel on display.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    "I do trust you, to do what you think is right. You think SHIELD is capable of protecting the spheres, correct?" Stephen asks rhetorically before he continues onto his point anyways, "I expect they could do that quite well, what I don't expect is for them to sit on their laurels and not experiemnt on and try to weaponize the spheres in some way. That is something I can't allow." Stephen says as the thief latches the box behind him. "I don't trust those you work with Lara. I've said as much before." Stephen feels Felicia standing nearby, but he keeps his attention on the two spelunkers and explorers, knowing that they now have a great inside to the wizard's next move, there's only two options for him to do next. And a large piece of his plan has been revealed...

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara doesn't seem to pay a lick of attention to Felicia at this point, because her emotions and mental state have her back locked onto Stephen, once more embroiled in this debate with him that she thought they resolved a long time ago.

"They're not weaponizing them, Stephen." She says to him. "The spheres were examined by SHIELD's top individuals, catalogued and are now stored safely away in a facility that is unlikely anyone can get to. Especially HYDRA or Trinity. They're as safe there as they could be anywhere and thats the whole point of what I do. Its the whole -reason- I was hired at SHIELD. Its the whole damned reason I -agreed- to work for them." Lara exhales sharply again, trying to relax her nerves.

Jonah, meanwhile has noticed Felicia's parka gone and the outfit she has on now, as well as the wink and he just grins like a big ol' schoolboy and looks down blushing. He's a gentle giant, to be sure.

Black Cat has posed:
The thief doesn't seem too dismayed to be ignored in this current spat of conflicting opinions. She peels off one of her gloves and idly considers her nails as she listens, seeming to check the manicured roundings of each.

Lara's exposition on the location of the other spheres has Felicia glancing up. Her attention sharpens like the facets on the gemstones gleaming throughout the Sorcerer's relic collection. Slowly, a single eyebrow rises in tandem with the slow and pleased curl of her red-red lips.

Regardless, she remains silent and her attention continues to flick between Lara and Stephen like a tennis spectator.

Doctor Strange has posed:
    "So you're going to trust SHIELD because they hired you? Fine, I'll double what they're paying if you get the last orb and bring it to me." Stephen says, knowing that will send Felicia up the wall, but the doctor does have a plan. He's not exactly a fool. But Stephen argues one last time. "What if you're wrong about them Lara? What if they betray you? What if someone, just one person, there abuses their position for personal gain? What then?"

Lara Croft has posed:
Lara doesn't really know what Felicia's skills are, she just assumed she was a tomb raider like her--at least of some measure... likely more of a soldier of fortune with tomb raiding experience though. She doesn't know, she hasn't put that much thought into her foe from moments ago!

Lara turns then and she follows after Stephen, still submerged in this debate fully. "I -asked- you if you would protect them in place of SHIELD--being that they're rather in-line with your whole--" She motions around the room they're occupying and indicates all the odd things here. "Wheel house... or what have you. But you said that you'd put them back where I found them, and where would they be now if that happened?"

Lara keeps staring daggers at the Sorcerer Supreme. "Thats right... they'd be in HYDRA's possession. Hand picked by Trinity operatives and placed directly into their wretched palms." She places her hands onto her hips and she sighs. A second later one ofher hands goes up to unzip her jacket because its hot in this room compared to where they were before.

Lara paces away then, trying to collect her thoughts. "I'm going after the last sphere. I don't care if you have it, or if SHIELD has it. I just don't want 'them' to have it, Stephen." She says then.

Jonah, meanwhile glances back to Felicia and he raises one of his giant hand sup to his head and points at it, then points at Felicia's head. "I like your hair." He says. "Its pretty."

Black Cat has posed:
At Stephen's offer to double the amount of money SHIELD's shelling out to Lara, Felicia gives the wizard a dirty look. "Hmph." He can likely feel the thief turn and walk away back over to the desk. She sits upon it and crosses her long legs in a lazy show of grace before interlacing her fingers around her knee. The arguing Sorcerer and adventurer are given a last flat look before her attention slides to Jonah.

His compliment isn't missed by her. It's enough to garner him a megawatt little grin, adding in the element of girl-nextdoor to accompany the catsuit and all its revelational-huggings of her body. "Thanks, Boy Scout. I appreciate your candor," she replies in a warm purr.

At least Felicia has this poor little mouse to toy with while morals are fussed over like scraps? She can be patient...for now.