2011-02-02: Valley Of The Shadow Of Death Pt II


Hosea_icon.jpg Connor_icon.jpgLucas_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg Travis_icon.jpg

Special Guest: Nero

Summary: The final showdown between the Barnes and Xavier visitors, and the evil warlord, Nero.

Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 — the early morning of Thursday, February 3, 2011.

Log Title: Valley of the Shadow of Death

Rating: R (for violence)

Africa - Nero's Camp - Nero's Palace

A monument to the warlord's self-indulgence, this stucco palace is a place of finer things. Beautiful hardwood floors and chandeliers decorate it, along with many figurines and paintings from Nigeria. Three levels of the palace show off his wealth. The top floor is the penthouse, a location reserved for the warlord himself, large windows overlooking the camp and the rain forest with breathtaking view.

The portal Connor opens arrives just outside the door of the palace. Hilde's distraction has been of great use, the very entrance has been abandoned to deal with the massive distraction that she creates. The entrance is open, and Hosea teleports next to Connor's portal, arriving with the rifle in hand. Not the most handy for close range combat, but it's better than no gun at all.
Inside, Nero's troops take him and Rashmi to his penthouse. It's elaborate and luxurious, and a large window overlooks the compound, giving a wide view of what is going on outside. The fight is on, and there are already guns going off, raging at the incoming rescue team.

Almost immediately as they step out of the portal, Connor throws up two kinetic barriers to catch the incoming fire, feeling the scores of the backlash on his body. Part of him felt bad for lying to Panzer about covering her, but the sensation of the magnetic resonance affecting local gravity had clued him to Magneto's presence. Covering both Hosea and Lucas for their entrance, he says through the commlink, "Hard and fast, Meltdown… let's put a scare into these bastard." Defending like this, he cannot fire back, but he does leave enough space for the otehr two to move.

Lucas steps through the portal, his fists balled and ready. He's not producing any flame yet, as Nero doesn't know his power, so he doesn't show it. He looks around as soon as they drop, and readies to fire. Only, theres no one there to hit. He looks at Connor, "Guess no one likes us." And then he begins to press forward.

Rashmi's eyes rake over the suite, lip curling at the palatial splendor, so close to the squalor of the prison camps. The sound of machine-gun fire brings an upward twitch to her lips, and she rakes a hand over her denuded hair. "…Looks like my ride's here," she comments, voice airy. "Want to guess how much of the camp'll be left when they're done?"

Nero smiles. "I think there will be a good amount left," Nero says. "The grunt soldiers…there may be some casualties. But I think your friends are not going to like this." The warlord produces from his pocket a small remote. He flips a switch, and then presses the main button. He wanders behind Rashmi, and then presses a combination code on the keys of the remote. The collar unhinges. The powers…however, are still gone. "Sugar Man, the mastermind behind my mutants, knows a great deal about mutant genes. Enough to know how to produce a frequency that interferes with them. Quite the genius, even if his table manners are somewhat lacking.
Hosea nods. "I will take da lead, I can avoid da damage better than others," he volunteers. He attempts to pass through the door, but suddenly finds himself slamming into it instead. He pushes on the door. "My powers," he says. "Dere is something wrong," he looks back at Connor and Lucas. "I do not understand?"

It takes Connor a moment of testing before he frowns to himself before he takes a breath, and then says, "Well… trap sprung." Pulling one of his knives from his belt, he passes it over to Lucas, and then says, "Stay close." And with that he takes a blades into a backhand grip and begins moving inside. Crouching down, he does a decent job of stealthing himself into the mansion, senses alert. As he moves inside, he motions for Hosea to move up and take point, whispering to Lucas, "For the record? Yeah, she is hot… but dude… she's like… more German than german. You really into that kinda thing?"

Lucas crouches down, falling in behind Connor. He shrugs a little, "Ah ain't kissed a girl in eight months. Ah reckon my standards are a little low right now." He looks at his hand, "No power here either." He sighs, and looks back at Connor. "This just got harder."

Rashmi starts visibly, as the collar falls off from around her neck. Glancing at Nero, she stoops, picking up the collar and turning it over in her hands, frowning deeply. "…So you've got a machine that shuts off powers…" Standing up, she turns to Nero, tucking the collar under her arm, eyes narrowing. "…Except machines are sort of fragile, aren't they? What happens when they break it, huh?"

"Indeed," Hosea says. He pulls on the door. it's locked. He doesn't seem bothered. The rifle is raised, and fired into the lock. The teen opens the door. "Be careful and stay close together. I will take the forward guard, Connor, you take the rear guard. Lucas, watch for anything unusual dat we miss. He opens the door and checks to the right, and then to the left. He steps to the left, leading the way into the door. Several steps later, a guard steps out behind the group, and raises his assault rifle toward the group. Fortunately, he had to open the door first, putting him within melee striking distance.
Nero laughs. "Ms. Franklin, you're naivety is amazing." He laughs to the girl. "What will your friends do without their powers? Are you going to tell me that God will protect them, the way that Abraham and his people are "protected"?

The shift of the locking tab of the rifle's sling against the frame is a signal for the most well-trained of the group to know something is up. Lucas and Hosea become witness to the brutal efficiency with which Connor was truly trained. His free hand immediately grabs at the barrel and yanks it down and to one side, keeping it clear of the group. Torquing his hips to one side as he does this, the knife swipes up over the man's throat. Finalizing the move with a spin as he yanks the weapon away, disarming the guard as he falls to his death. Without even blinking, he checks the safety of the weapon, then nods to the others before passing the weapon to Lucas, "Just like a camera. Point and click."

Lucas takes the gun, looking at it for a long moment. There's a hesitation, but just before it appears he will hand it back to Connor, he takes it. "Just like shootin' womprats in my T-16 back home," he mumbles, and then nods, following them ahead.

Nero's laugh, answered with a short, bitter bark. "You *really* have no idea what you're getting yourself into," she says, shaking her head. "You've pissed them off, and most of them? They don't *need* powers to be dangerous, and the moment they find a way to shut that thing down, *you* are screwed. Face it, Nero," she sneers. "When this is over? You'll wish you'd never *touched* those people."

Hosea doesn't turn around. "Shhh," he says, reaching the steps. He puts his back to the wall, and then rounds suddenly. A shot rings out from the rifle, and then Hosea rolls back to the other side as machine gun fire fills the stairwell. He holds up two fingers, indicating how many are at the top of the steps.
Nero rears back his hand, and takes a swing at Rashmi. "You will not speak back!" he bites. He didn't bring the child from the cell. "You do enjoy watching the little girl suffer that stays with you? You have a strange desire." Outside, the powers start to fail, and it's clear by the advancement of the soldiers on the heroes' positions. "You see, they are lost, now you understand why I am a man in power."

Connor nods to Hosea, takes a few steps back, and then going into a quick-run leap, going sideways across the corridor as he throws the knife in his hand at the closest of the two targets… not aiming to hit, but if he does, it's a bonus… he's drawing fire for Hosea and Lucas for a moment. Landing in a rolling crouch as the fire tracks along him, almost clipping him a couple points as rounds are wasted along the way. Ducking down and away, he leaves the pair for his own men to take, mentally smacking himself for not taking a pistol…

Lucas dives and rolls out into the hallway, at foot level. He shouts, "Say cheese!" as he pulls the trigger, firing as quickly as he can at the guards, hoping to hit at least one or both of them.

Rashmi stumbles away, bleeding from a split in her lip. For a moment, she stoops over, regaining her senses, then takes in a breath and rises to her full height, turning to face Nero, eyes burning. "That's where you're wrong, Nero. And there's a little part of you that knows it, too." Scraping a shaking hand over her face, she smiles, an expression without a trace of cheerfulness or good humor. "I was right that they were going to come. And you planned for it. But now you're thinking 'What if she's right about this? What if she's not bluffing?' Even if it's just a little bit… there's doubt. There's *fear.* There's *weakness.*"

The knife strikes the back of the wall, causing both of the soldiers to flinch. It's enough that it gives Lucas the time he needs to drop both of them. They go to the ground, but one of them isn't quite dead, firing blindly down the stairs. Hosea peeks out, and using the cover of the wall, the sniper rifle puts a bullet in the exposed shoulder of the living guard, causing him to drop the rifle. He motions clear, and starts his way up the steps. He reverses direction as he goes, so that he can see what's on the other side of the top of the stairs while Connor and Lucas watch the direction they are going.
Nero laughs, "What shall they do?" he asks. "You can see for yourself." He points at Magneto, falling out of the sky, rolling off a roof and onto a truck. It doesn't look like he planned that. Nearby, Hilde has her hands up. The fight seems all but over.

"What about you, Rashmi. You see this, do you doubt that your friends will win this fight now? Are you weak? Or are you just silly, and believing they can win a fight they cannot. Any who are left would be wise to leave and try again another time."

Approaching the pair of downed men, Connor pulls the knife from the wall and puts it back in it's sheathe on his hip for the moment. From both of the guards he takes up old Makarov pistols, cold war remnants probably, and pushes them into loops in his suit, followed by one reload each. Checking the rest of it, he passes a spare magazine for the AK Lucas has with him before he moves to follow Hosea once more. Armed now like the others, he takes one pistol and aims it over his forearm… moving to cover Hosea as he pats his shoulder, letting him know he's there. But with the odd conversation going on, the comm's short-range catches from Connor, "Star Wars? A million Bruce Willis lines out there, and you give me Luke Skywalker? No wonder you haven't kissed a girl in eight months."

Lucas takes the magazine, slipping it into his belt. He hurries after Hosea. "I thought YippekaiYay was overdone." He shrugs, "Just be happy I hit them."

"I don't," Rashmi says softly, though there's worry in her eyes as she watches Magneto fall, Hilde raising her hands in surrender. "I don't doubt they'll win. I know Connor. He'll never give up, even if he has to fight everyone on this camp to get here. I know Hosea. He wouldn't *be* here if he didn't know they could win." Turning her eyes to Nero, she stands straight, walking slowly towards the warlord. "I know *Magneto.* He's only this close as a *courtesy,* he could flatten this place from the *sky* if he felt like it. And I know *me,* she says, stopping well within striking distance again. "I'll never, *ever* doubt for a second as long as *you* want me to, because in the end you're just a stupid little warlord thinking killing innocent people makes him big and strong. You don't *know* power, you *sick FUCK.*"

"Lives are ending," Hosea snaps in a raised whisper. "Dis is not time to think of dis as a game." He doesn't find this funny or entertaining, that is for sure. He checks the guard still breathing as they reach the top of the steps. But which way? He looks down one way, and then the other. "I will watch dis hall, Connor, you are the next most capable, we will try to advance to the next level, Nero is most likely in his penthouse. He would want to watch dis victory I think." Hosea knows the mind of his old ruler. "Lucas, you watch dat way and make certain dat dere is nobody coming. If dey come, shoot dem."

"I do not know how you have had such resilience. I have seen it from a man, yes," Nero admits. "But never from a woman. It is all right, everyone breaks eventually. Like your friend Travis. He is now a killer. Soon you will bow to my every wish as well." He hears his guards leave the door outside, and rush down the hall. "It looks like I will see Ikbuku again. I knew he could not resist da chance to put right his mistake in leaving me alive. He is a killer, too."

Exhaling and nodding once, as he passes Lucas, he just puts a hand on his shoulder, "Game face." is the only response before he whispers out, "If this is it, sing me a good one, Curt." And with that the sleek and black armored form is up the stairs and past Hosea, in time to hear the booted steps in the hallway. Instead of stealth, he favors a direct approach this time. Stalking the hall quickly, both of the old Russian pistols come out, and he uses the fact that the floor in this part of the house are a nice hardwood to gauge their steps, and slows his own pace once he reaches a corner. Both pistols ready, the young man swallows his heartbeat down, sweat dripping inside his suit as he swaps one pistol for the knife and then peeks around the corner to try and spot the next wave of guards safely.

Lucas nods at Connor, "Ah'll do that Jonas Brothers song you love," he answers. Then he glances at Hosea, pointing the rifle off down the other hall, covering them as Connor goes. "If'n Ah don't think of it as a game, Ah reckon Ah'd have to stop and come to terms with murderin' these fuckers and watchin' my friend run upstairs to what could be his death, Hosea." He sighs, and motions with his his head, "Go help him, Ah'm right behind y'all…"

Rashmi's jaw falls open in shock, but closes again with a snap as the guards can be heard running to support the rest of the soldiers. "How? *How?!* Y'know what? I'll *tell* you how. I have been taken prisoner by *demons.* I have thrown myself into hell, *literal hell,* because a man I cared for was in trouble. I have watched my best friends be turned into monsters worse than your Sugar Man could ever *dream* to create. I have gone into *space* to help people with *legal problems,* and I have argued with the most dangerous mutant alive simply because I felt he was *wrong!* All you can do is kill me, Nero, so WHAT ARE YOU TO ME?!"

From above, a large African leaps over the side of the staircase railing, down toward Connor. He's fast, and the way he moves says he's been fighting for decades. Feet first he comes plunging at the young Chase, knife in hand. Meanwhile Hosea spins around with his rifle. The shot isn't going to be an easy one to take, however. Not without risking injury to Connor. However, as Hosea turns to help intercept the aggressor, bullets spray down at him from above, another guard. These two know what they are doing. Hosea takes two rounds in his right leg, and falls back, growling in pain. The body armor absorbed it, but the impact still makes it nearly impossible to walk on at the moment.
"I am your executioner, then," Nero says. "I will let you win. You die with your will intact." He pulls a gun from his belt, and takes quick aim at Rashmi's chest.
The moment he pulls the trigger, however, is also the moment that the world shakes. At the far end of the camp, a meteorite, yes, a meteorite strikes down. Divine intervention, karma, or luck, it upsets the entire balance of the area. Some soldiers scream running below, finding it to be a bad omen. Others are managing to stay on top of their game at least partially, and many are dead from a crater that is a good 150 yards in diameter. The ground shakes, the very ground underneath their feet threatening to throw them all to the ground. This is not the sort of thing you can prepare for. Nero is thrown off of his feet at the same time, causing his shot to go wide. He's stunned, staring out the window. That wasn't in the plan, clearly.

Jumping down on someone who's had to have a crash course on physics in the last year isn't the best strategy, and Connor drops back, rolls, and comes up in a fighting crouch so that he can face his opponent. Both weapons come up in a guard-stance, and he actually flips the pistol in his grip so it's now a club. Rushing the guy, he tries to lock the knife-man up with his own aggressive attacks, clubbing strikes and backhanded swipes and lunges to force a defensive, "Help Hosea! I got this!" He puts into the comm as confidently as possible, every lesson from his uncle flooding back, especially the first. 'When in a knife fight, expect to get cut. Choosing where you get cut can be just as important'. So his right arm remains forwards at all times to take the worst of it.

Lucas is moving to help Hosea even before Connor tells him to. He grabs Hosea and pulls him against the wall to give him more cover. "Ah reckon you're covering the back now," he says, lifting the gun, and rushing up the stairs past Connor and his attacker. He holds the rifle up blindly into the air, letting off a few rounds to scare the soldiers up top into taking cover for the moment before he turns the corner of the stairs and crouches, opening fire on them more directly.

The impact hurls Rashmi to the floor, crying out in shock and fear as the gun goes off. For a second, she lies there, stunned, her mind whirling. Once it becomes clear that she's not dead, or even scratched, she scrabbles to her feet, hurling herself at Nero, hands clawing at the gun in his hand. "I guess God has other plans for you," she snarls, jagged and uneven fingernails digging for skin.

Hosea waves Lucas away, clenching his teeth. He raises his gun, taking a ready position and trying to get a bead on the man fighting with Connor. It's not easy given their close proximity, or Hosea's angle. The man fighting Connor backs out of the swing, and then leaps off of the stair case and over the railing to land next to Lucas, unwilling to prevent his ally from shooting Connor any longer. It gives a clear shot for the soldier at the top of the stairs, who unleashes with his assault rifle. The man who lands next to Lucas, he takes a swipe of his blade at Lucas, aiming straight for the gut. Disemboweling can be very debilitating. Lucas may want to watch out.
The fingernails, surprisingly, do very little to the warlord. Apparently he's been having some work done by the Sugar Man. He grabs Rashmi, and rolls, years of combat training easily accessed. He discards the gun, and makes a move to pin her to the ground on her back, his hand moving for her throat.
And that's when it happens. Powers return to their owners.

Connor feels the hum again, right in his bones as the connection that was muted now becomes a surge through his mind and body. There's a smile under the mask as he holsters the weapons and holds his hand out. Gravity… pure and simple. Gone from his spot, he's suddenly right next to Lucas, and locking the arm that was trying to gut him before the hit can carry through, weighing it down with a grav-field that shimmers around the man. He nods once to Lucas, "Sorry, he got away from me. You want him?"

Lucas smirks at Connor, finally giving him an altered Die Hard quote. "Now Ah have a nuclear reactor. Ho ho ho." His hands burst into undulating spheres of nuclear energy, burning hot enough to raise the temperature in the whole stairwell. "Keep him," he adds, stepping past Connor and firing a barrage of energy blasts up the stairs at the soldiers waiting. He lets out a yell as he tosses ball after ball of fiery fury towards them all, taking one step at a time as he makes his way up.
One of the least advisable things one can do to Rashmi, is make her physically helpless. Slammed on her back, she curls her legs up to her chest, seeking vainly to push Nero away from her by main force; a move which, predictably, fails as much as her efforts to keep the hand from her throat. While her conscious mind is too busy to notice the return of her powers, her instincs have their own way of making themselves known — in the manner of a half-dozen spheres of telekinetic force, battering wildly at the warlord like a swarm of angry bees… if bees could hit repeatedly with the force on an oncoming vehicle.

Hosea teleports straight up into the air, his gun ready to kill the other guard, but it's not necessary, as the beam comes piercing through the stairs, nearly vaporizing the man who contested them at the top of the stairs. Limping on his leg, he goes to the top of the stairs, "It is clear up heah!" he calls. His gun is still at the ready, and Nero's room is just ahead. The man with Connor doesn't waste any time, and as Connor stops to make his comment, the forehead of the African bodyguard comes slamming forward toward Connor's own head.
Nero crushes with all of his strength. It's amazing what damage can be done in such a short amount of time by a pair of storng hands. The force of the spheres strike hard, and Nero growls. He actually endures the first, before the force of the next two come and knock him off of her. He scrambles for the gun, grabbing it in his hand as he rolls out of the attack.

As the headbutt comes down, the guard shoots up at almost 120mph, hitting the ceiling above him with the force of an oncoming truck, then back down onto the ground just as hard, the gravitic force increasing on him until the floor itself buckles for a moment under it, and there's a rather wet sound in the man's chest as several ribs fracture. Leaving him there coughing and bloody, Connor takes a couple steps, then turns, and just launches him out the window! Looking up, he vanishes from the rather potentially gory scene, both his hands glowing, eyes blazing as he looks to the final door with Hosea and Lucas, before taking a breath and saying, "No matter what happens… this is justice tonight." Unlike before, there's none of the coldness in his tone, none of the emotionless voice he used before, "Lucas? Be a pal and get the door."

There's communication over the comm from Travis as he heads into Nero's palace. He's not sure who else is here but he figures he'll be able to find someone. "This is Travis, I think Magneto and Hilde are handling outside." It's not hard to find where people are from the noises and he finally makes it to where Connor, Hosea and Lucas are taking out the guards. The six armed mutant recognizes Connor and nods to him. "Where's Rashmi?" He asks looking quite worse for wear.

Lucas looks at Connor, "Don't be a stupid hero," and he takes a step forward, his hands glowing once again with the undulating balls of nuclear fusion. Then he pauses, looking back at Connor one more time, "Ah mean, be a hero, an' shit, you know… just… don't be a stupid one." Beneath his mask, he smiles, and then begins running at the door. He lifts his hands into the air and opens fire with a barrage of superheated nuclear energy, enough to vaporize the doors into molten metal in an instant.

Travis' question gets a rapid answer, as the doors fall to slag under Lucas' assault. Beyond the haze of heat that rises from its ruins stands… an almost-feral girl who could be Rashmi. Clad only in dirt-stained underwear, covered in yellowing bruises and scabbed-over lash-cuts, her hair seemingly hacked off under duress with a combat knife, and wild, hateful eyes, the scream pulled from her chest void of fear, a sound of pure animal rage. Under her silent command, her spheres lance out at Nero, all six spiraling in a tight cluster toward the warlord's chest, seeking to bear him against, or possibly through, the wall behind.

Nero takes several spheres to the chest, knocking him back as easily as anyone else. He takes a lot more to hurt, though, and is sent through the large window behind and out onto the balcony. Still clutching the gun, he raises it to fire at the girl. He's not ready to die yet. "Now you feel power!" he answers her attack. "Yes! Now you understand! You have to take what you want!" The warlord is bleeding, though. He's apparently not invincible, however durable he might be. He tucks behind the wall, following the outer catwalk of the palace so that the incoming attackers will have to funnel through the entrance. Of course, there's two teleporters, not to mention another window on that side of the room, with a door that opens out to a breathtaking view of the rain forest, placed on the precipice at the edge of the camp.
Hosea rushes to that door, phasing through it and starting to approach from the other side to get behind the warlord.

Connor is just… there… a barrier of force between himself, Rashmi, and the bullets flatten harmlessly on it, but the bleedthrough leaves a couple new welts on his chest and side for his trouble. Panting a bit, he watches the man head outside but seems relatively unconcerned about that. Instead, he looks down at his friend, the complete body covering disguising who it really is from her, save a familiar voice that says, "Promise is a promise. Relax. We've got him… this isn't going to end well for Nero." Motioning for Travis to come fowards and help her, he then motions with his head towards the wall that's blocking Nero from view, "Lucas… take it out."

There's a quick nod from Travis as he sees Rashmi and Nero. He doesn't hesitate though as the gun is pulled on Rashmi and he rushes to her and puts up a shield in front of her and the bullets, but Connor is there first so his attempt doesn't do much. "Nero…" Travis growls out a the warlord and looks at him with nothing less than hate. He wants to attack him so badly but he heads over to her and takes his shirt of to hand to her. "Rashmi…you okay?"

Lucas yanks his cape, which was rigged to breakaway easily in the event of being caught in a jet engine ala Invincibles. He lays it around Rashmi, not saying anything, but laying his warm hand very briefly and lovingly on her cheek as his blue eyes meet hers, and then with a fwoomph, his hands are ablaze again. He opens fire on the wall.

Rashmi starts to run forward, but skids to a halt just short of physically running into Connor, and as the shirt is given to her, the cape draped over her shoulders, she seems to sag inward, hands shaking as she brings the cloth up to her mouth, closing her eyes and breathing a silent prayer of thanks. Opening her eyes, she fixes her gaze on the balcony outside, face twisted in fury. "Travis," she croaks, her throat sore and scratchy, "don't let him get away. *You* decide what happens to him."

As the wall tears away, Nero can be seen putting out the fire on his shirt. He tears it from his body, throwing it off the balcony. With a new resolve, the scarred warlord takes another shot from his pistol at Lucas, just before the ceiling caves in to the lack of support. Nero is knocked back by the mass, but hold onto the wreckage of his roof, bringing himself back up. Hosea comes around, and holds his rifle on the villain. He hesitates, as does Nero, and then drops the rifle to charge at him, grabbing his arm and throwing him back against the wreckage. Nero reverses the grip, flipping Hosea over his shoulder and down onto the broken shingles. A footsweep brings Nero down, but the warlord answers with a crashing left fist to Hosea's face. Hosea is extremely skilled in combat, but it looks like he may be fighting someone even more skilled.

Once more the bullets are stopped by Connor, the defensive shield catching the bullet like a drop of water in a pool before falling to the ground. But after, when his hand comes down, there's a droplet of blood from it to, as the round's bleed-through tears a long, thin cut on his arm, seeping out of the armor and against his wrist for a moment. Ignored, Connor nods to the others, and then says, "Go. I've got her." Nodding once more to Lucas he then adds, "Don't have too much fun without us… we'll be right back…" And with that the pair are gone, reappearing in one of the upper-level rooms and away from the brawl going on upstairs. Then to the next room… and the next… until they locate what is Nero's office, where he might keep his private information, "Breaking his palace won't stop him, or the ones who pick up the pieces of his game, Rashmi. We need information. Let the guys buy us some time while we try and get something for the courts, or SHIELD to use against him. …It's time we stopped fighting his way, and fight ours."

Travis looks at Rashmi for a bit and nods. He touches her arm lightly before turning and facing where Nero is. He takes a few steps forward towards the man before rushing forward to attack the warlord, joining in the fight between him and Hosea. He throws a punch with one arm, the follows up with a second, third and then fourth using all six arms to his advantage. "I told you, you would get what's coming to you. You claim you made me a killer, I'm not like you. I'll never be like you or your men." He says as he doesn't hold back physically attacking the man, one of his fists is heated to burning temperatures as he's using one of his powers.

Lucas watches Connor and Rashmi vanish, and he follows right after Travis. He fires up his hands again, raising them to fire once more. Travis gets in his line of fire, and he scowls, "Get some distance there, Ah can't hit him with you up all in his face!" He fires once anyway, a small blast at Nero's leg when he gets a slightly clear shot.

Rashmi writhes away from Connor's grasp the second they land long enough for the disorientation of the Nexus to wear off, skittering back and slamming against the wall of the room, her spheres buzzing madly around her jerking and shaking in their orbits in a way that hasn't happened since she learned how to understand and control her powers. Sliding down the wall, she tugs the cape around her shoulders, pressing her face into the shirt and inhaling deeply. "I don't care," she whispers, voice ragged. "I don't care. I just want to go home…" Whatever she was burning to allow her to fight the warlord, it would seem, has drained away at speed now that the danger is passed.

Nero is knocked free from Hosea, and he backs up, fist after fist landing, burning. He begins to block, and retreats on the roof some more. Hosea returns to his feet, though Lucas' shot almost hits him. It creates a little distance between Nero and the others. The warlord uses the opportunity to fire again with the pistol, striking Lucas in the shoulder to stop the oncoming barrage before stumbling back on the wreckage. He slips, and down he crashes again, rolling off the edge of the roof. He catches a piece of the stonework, losing the gun as it lands on the ground below, bounces, and disappears off the cliff. Nothing seems to cause this man to beg for mercy, however. He glowers up at Hosea and Travis with all the rage he can muster.
Below, however, is a familiar young man. Abasiama, the teen who had looked up to the six-armed mutant, watches the fight happening. "Travis!" he calls out. He looks at Nero, the causer of the suffering. It would be so easy to let him fall. It wouldn't be murder, really. They just don't have to save him. "Forgive," Abasiama says. He can't make the decision. Hosea looks down at the warlord, and back at Travis. It's a conflict for him as well. Do you save a man so worthy of death?

Inside, smoke starts to fill the office. Lucas' firey strike earlier has spread. The palace is burning only a few rooms away.

Lucas takes an aggressive step forward to blast again, and then Nero's bullet slams into his neck, a twirling spiral of crimson splattering out as it knocks him off his feet, spinning him around as he tumbles through the air with a, "Gurk!" He slams to the ground onto his back. His eyes go wide for a moment, surprised, and then there's a short, shallow cough that pushes a glob of blood out of his mouth and his world goes black.

"I know, Rash… I know… but give me five minutes… a little more time and we can save even more lives from this…", Connor almost whispers as he quickly strips the cabling off of a laptop, and then a couple more computers, taking a pair of portable harddrives and the machine itself with him. Then, after looking over items on Nero's desk, most of it is swept back into it's folders and things… the language not one he understands in some cases, but plenty to work from. Money and valuables are left behind in the face of the information left around the room. Finally complete with his sweep, he walks back over, mindful of the spheres, and then kneels down in front of her, tossing both pistols uselessly to the side, as well as the spare magazines, and ends up holding out a hand once more, "Hold onto me, just a little longer… and I promise you'll be home and safe again. I promise Rashmi." Taking a moment to pull the goggles up so she can see his eyes once more, and know him from the look of them.

"Collar," Rashmi croaks as Connor holds out his hand, lifting her head and tilting it to one side, to show him the abrasions where the power-dampening device had been fastened these last hellish days. "Dropped it… there. Get it. All I have." She hunches her shoulders again, the spheres disappearing, her gaze going distant as she leans slightly toward the teen's hand… yet doesn't seem willing to let go of shirt or cape. "It's all I have," she murmurs again, tears sliding down her cheeks.

Travis looks down at Nero as he just hangs there from the roof and glares down at him. He reaches down and grabs a hold of the man and pulls him up from the roof, but keeps his hands on Nero's wrists. He hears the kid and stops, taking a deep breath. "Forgive…no. I can't forgive, but I'm not going to kill him." He looks to Hosea. "Hosea, he doesn't deserve death, that's too good for him. We don't deserve someone like him on our conscious. Let him live, let him be maimed, crippled, and destroyed so that way he knows what he did was wrong." He lets his hand head up so it severely burns the wrist on Nero to a degree where it will cause nerve and tissue damage permanently. "Though I'll make sure you can't kill anyone else with your own hands." Once the heat dies on one hand, he uses his other to freeze Nero's other hand to cause damage to that appendage as well. "Now, I'm going to go save that guy and find Rashmi and Connor." Travis says as he goes over to Lucas to start healing him. He won't wake up anytime soon but when Lucas wakes in the morning, it'll barely be like he was shot.

Hosea hears the younger teen's words as well. Abasiama wasn't here long enough to see the same suffering. He wasn't here long enough to know the pain that Travis did, and certainly not what Hosea knew for two years of his life. He grabs Nero's other hand, and once he's up, he pins him to the ground. "It is over for you," he says to the defeated warlord. "God has brought judgment on you, and you will now receive it." He looks out at the crater where the meteorite fell. A truly amazing event if you believe in coincidence. Hosea does not. A tear comes to his eye, and he laughs a beautiful stress relieving laugh.
"Truly, dis is a blessed land." The red hues of morning can be seen over the horizon, and the first rays of daylight shine on the burning roof. Below, Magneto has already transformed the grounds into a place of healing and care for the prisoners.
Nero has nothing left to say. He's defeated, the empire he fought so hard to build has come crashing around him. The judgment from heaven, with instruments of flesh and a firey ball from heaven have brought the once powerful warlord to his knees after twenty years of tyranny. The night has gone, both literally and metaphorically, and the light fills the rain forest.

It is the end of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

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