2020-06-13: Where The Wild Things Are


BetsyF_icon.jpg ConnorF_icon.jpg

Summary: With the perception of memory in conflict with the reality at hand, Volk seeks help from one the person who he thinks will understand.

Date: June 13th, 2020

Where The Wild Things Are

Rating: PG (Suggestive Sexual Dialogue)

The Underground - Meeting Room

One of the bigger tunnels has been turned into a meeting room for those who are plotting the next stab at freedom or the next sentinel attack. There are lights hanging from the pipes above and table in the middle of the area where people can stand around as there isnt really room for chairs. Papers and maps cover the table and there are boxes on shelves with information thats been gathered. This is the only place down in the mutant tunnels that has some electricity from a small generator that's charge via mutant powers and its used sparingly so that the Rebellion can gather information to make their next move.

2:00am in the morning…

Moving into the empty meeting and planning chamber from the main gathering area… Volk dressed down from his combat attire to nothing but a tank top, all of his weapons but the pair of SMGs on his hips discarded, and the boot knife. Sitting himself down in one of the chairs towards the far and shadowy end of the chamber, the man focuses his normally chaotic thoughts on Psylocke… thinking of the purple-haired telepath, thinking it as hard as he can in the hope that in the dark and private, she'll be able to hear him.

It's been a long time since Psylocke has dyed her hair purple. While she can still find dyes in old abandoned department stores, the process of doing so is a waste of water, and so long since she's let her hair return to it's natural raven black color. Still, she misses it, and she has a celebratory package of dye that she likes to keep around for the time when they finally win, and good clean water isn't such a premium. It's during this rumination that she hears Volk calling out to her. Strange, she thinks, as she makes her way to the meeting room. "You called?" the telepath asks, arriving mundanely, through the door.

The only sign of the presence of the person who every telepath in the resistance knows would rather shoot them rather than spend any credible time in their company has is the pair of faintly glowing blue-green eyes. His HUD-eye has been removed since both are visible. What can be picked up is a cacophany of rage and sadness, raw pain and guilt, before it gets locked away in the iron doors of the merc's will and rudimentary psychic defensive training. Standing up and walking into view, Volk pulls out a chair for the British woman, and waits for her.
Betsy qurks an eyebrow at Volk's gentlemanly behavior, but doesn't question it. Rather she takes him up on the offer and sits down in the chair offered to her with a small smile and a, "Thank you."

Moving around to the seat next to her, Volk pulls it out, turns it and sits down to face the telepath. He then taps the side of his forehead, and frowns for a moment. Shaking his head he fishes into his pocket and pulls out a pad of paper and a half-used mechanical pencil. Clicking out some lead he writes down on it, -Please. Need to speak in the mind. Promise not to harm. Promise.-

Betsy's eyes move from Volk's gesture to his note pad. She reads it and nods. "I promise," she says. This should be interesting. The mercenary has always been skittish around telepaths. «What do you wish to talk about?» she asks, establishing mental contact. That's all. Just communication.

There's an exhale and a visible bit of tension that passes along his jawline as Volk settles back and grips the arms of the chair as it takes him a couple moments to settle his old reflexes. It actually takes a moment before the mental voice carries up over the background in his mind. «I… need to show you something. Something that I can't be sure is right anymore. There's a memory in me, but I don't think it's a memory. I think something happened in the past. Something changed. But I can't be sure. Chloe says you know something. Can you… help me?» The mental voice sounds like his old voice, a young man's soft tenor.

The expression of the Asian X-Man goes from mild curiosity to worry to stone cold anger. It's not directed at Volk, however. It's directed at «Ahab. Yes, he's done something. I can't fix it, but I can make it so it isn't tearing your mind apart, like what I did with Dunstin.» Psylocke sighs. «I know how much you don't like telepaths,» she says. «And I want to warn you that if I do this, I'm going to be reading your memories.» The silent implication being that whatever it is that he's hiding, she'll find out about it.

Volk continues to frown, and crosses his arms over his chest as he closes his eyes, and then rubs at the bridge of his nose, pinching for a moment. Then he nods and replies, «There's… things. I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Things I fight in my own mind every moment of every day. But I can guide you past it where you can do what you need. There's things that need doing. Things that need Volk. Things that I don't know if I could do as the man I was. I'm close to breaking, Miss Braddock… I'm afraid. They killed Captain America. The president shot him. I had it all in my scopes, and I couldn't stop it. We only just managed to save Storm, and somehow Mystique. But Mister Wagner was taken too. I'm… sorry… these were your friends. Your companions.» The images that spring forth when he thinks of Captain America are symphony of heartbreak, pieces of memories, fragments of new clippings… some of it flashes by almost like a fact sheet, some of it like flipping channels on a television, then it all gets locked down as whispers begin to rear up in the back of his mind.

Betsy looks like she's trying to fight back tears of her own. "I know," she says aloud. "I've lost so many… Warren and…" she stops herself there and her eyes harden. No, she doesn't need to go there right now. She's got a job to do. «Ahab captured Heather,» she explains as she goes into Volk's mind and memories. «It turns out she was more powerful than we thought. She can travel through time.»

The former student nods once and puts a hand up as if to say something, but then lowers it. Volk closes his eyes and replies mentally, «I was there. I saw Ahab… I saw him taken two Hounds in Central Park, and then impaled my former friend…» And again his mind almost assaults with the images that comes up. James Palmer. Tooth. X-Student. Hunter. Facts and figures combined with images both of better and worse times flash by in a storm… silenced once more, «It's better to show you… explaining it doesn't give us both what I need. I'm ready.»

Betsy leans forward and closes her eyes to concentrate on the task at hand. When she delves into Volk's mind, what she finds is quite startling. The mental landscape is of barren, salted earth where nothing grows and in the middle is, or rather was, a stately mansion made of glass. It was beautiful at one point in time, but now it lays in ruins as four giants play tug-o-war with a young child, helplessly caught in the middle. She steps carefully into the mansion, and picks up a shattered piece of glass. In the reflection on one side she catches a glimpse of memory, of James in Park, normal, happy. The other side is the same memory only that Ahab appears and spears James in the chest. Betsy sighs and looks at the ruined mansion. She can repair this, yes, but the four beasts will only smash it all over again.

Stepping out into view, Volk appears… only it's not him. The young man before her in the semi-idealized image of Volk is him in his full battle-attire, but the HUD-eye is replaced with a wolf's eye… amber and feral, next to his normal one. Several features seem lupine and wild in comparison to the human condition. This image's gruff howl HOWLS loudly, and for a moment all the raging cacophony is silenced and he walks next to Betsy as she picks up the memory, and motions silently towards a door. It opens leading to a sterile hallway like a hospital.

Volk's howl warrants another quirk of an eyebrow from Betsy. She nods and follows him through the door. She doesn't drop the memory, however. Idly, as she walks, she grips the edges of the two and pulls. At first there's a bit of resistance but then the two memories separate into identical shards of glass, no longer fighting for the same space in Connor's mind. Silently she offers the shards to him.

He stops… and sniffs at it before even touching it. Volk-Wolf growls once and takes the image into his hands, and cradles it a moment, before suddenly seeming to diminish. As he diminishes, the voices seem to come crawling back, the beasts begin to tug and play a bit more, and a wind with the stench of burned flesh picks up. For a moment in the background Betsy can hear the echo of a man… a woman… two young girls… screaming and then silence, grey dust floating by for a moment. The mental self-expression continues to walk with her… guiding her towards a much larger door at the end of the long and hospital-like hall. As each of the 'rooms' are passed by, there are different versions of himself, different memories, some of them with different people doing different things. All of them locked in rooms and protected… but as many rooms as are protected, others are broken in, doors smashed, those memories more glass and ruin on the floor.

Betsy idly picks up another memory, and looks at it before gently placing it on the floor next to the others before continuing to follow him along the corridor.

Reaching the end of the corridor, the Wolf-Volk pushes it open for her, and then seems to turn to dust, blowing away until there's nothing left but a skeleton, charred and blackened as if from fire… and then the rest of it gusts away. Inside the room looks like a strange hybrid of the Xavier library and the Recreation room. A perfectly Octagonal room, with seven walls full of books, all neat, even, and uniform. The eighth wall is a star-field, in the center of it a flatscreen television, an image playing on it of seeing the Captain Britain Corp. The exact center of the chamber has a plush leather couch, and a coffee table sitting in front of it with a notebook and pencil sitting on top of it, next to a can of Dr. Pepper.

Seeing her twin brother on the telly like that takes Betsy aback. "Brian," she whispers, before shaking her head again and stepping inside the room. She gives the Wolf avatar a questioning look, now. What next?

The Wolf-Volk is gone, and the charred skeleton reforms into a young man of seventeen, dressed in a long-sleeve undershirt, and an open collared shirt in atop, jeans and boots. Walking inside he smiles softly, looking at the screen, "I'm a member of the Captain Britain Corp there… or rather… one of me is. That's the Nexus. Every life I could have, would have, should have lived is there… waiting to be seen. When I sleep, or in moments of deep thought, the Nexus opens to me, and lets me see other selves." Moving to sit down on the couch, he sips on the drink, and holds up the notebook, "This is it. What I wanted to show you. I'm sorry the place is such a mess, but things haven't been right in a long time. Want one?" Holding up the can.

Betsy hesitates before nodding, taking the can and sitting down next to the boy. "I've never seen anything like this, Connor," she admits with awe. "At least, not in somebody's mind. I've never been to the Nexus myself, though," she admits. Not even when she was Captain Britain. Yeah. She doesn't like to talk about hat.

The image on the screen fades away, and this time the image comes up, and there is Apocalypse standing over him, and he speaks, talking about turning him into a Horseman, that he will be Death… and life will collapse and wither in his touch. As the mutant being monologues on, the picture shifts, looking around at the shackles, at the door, searching for something. The young man watches the screen, "I don't know who that is, but I feel sorry for me. This can't end well… but that's how it is. Not everything is perfect. This is how I keep sane. Order, discipline, focus." Then a voice comes up from behind him, 'That doesn't explain why you kill people.' It's like his but there's a sinister edge to it. Another says 'She's hot. I wonder how long it's been for her. C'mon. We haven't. EVER.' And another 'He wouldn't be good enough for her. You're not even a real man after all. A boy pretending war. A writer picking up a gun and suddenly thinking he's Captain America. HA!'

The young man grabs at his head, and winces, "Shutup, Shutup, SHUTUP…" Murmured over and over again, as those voices raise up their diatribes, shadowed forms standing at the entrance, not crossing the threshhold, but their eyes like his own, their images tauntingly familiar.

Betsy scowls. This won't do. She stands up and turns to face the giant figures, her power flaring into a purple butterfly aura. «Leave us,» she commands the figures with the tone of voice that will brook no argument from them.

'DAMN she's even sexier when she's pissed. Seriously… if it's the end of the world as you know it, might as well get laid.' … 'You've killed too, I'll bet. But could you take Volk? I'm not sure…' … 'Aren't you just pretending too? We all pretend, because we're all scared, and it's easier to just hit something and make it go away.' The voices all say before they turn and saunter off like a gang of thugs, the shadows fading into the light of the hallway outside.

Connor looks up at you, and then sighs, "Thank you. Sometimes I have to do things to silence them. Sometimes it takes a long time."

The purple aura fades, and the telepath sits back down, cracking open the soda. "Mmm," she says. "That tastes as good as I remember it." She nods in regards to the compliment. "They won't bother us again," she says. "Not while I'm here. I've put up a shield now that they're gone. Now, continue."

Opening up the notepad, it starts as words on the page as a scream rips through the person who's eyes you're viewing on the screen, and suddenly the world begins to turn black and white, the sound of his heartbeat pounding in his ears, and a prayer to god for forgiveness for what he's about to become is thought, and heard by both. The words suddenly take shape, and Betsy is there, standing next to Connor… seeing Central Park ten years ago as it happens. As Apocalypse of that world welcomes his new Death to his Horsemen on the screen, Betsy watches Cam's body wrack with pain from the harpoon, and the belt and fetish uniform he wears now forming on him slowly, as if to lock away the old Cam forever. "This memory isn't right. I saw it up there… but now it's in here. There are the words. Everything I remember is words. But I didn't write this… but I -DID-."

Betsy flips through the notebook and nods, understanding. "Do you have memories for when this didn't happen? For when Cam was always on our side?" There's a bit of desperate hopefulness in her question. She and a couple of others remember the Good Cam. Everybody else remembers Cam the Hound. And a few unlucky ones, like Dunstin, remember both.

The page turns, and Connor stops her as the passage there leaps to life before her… Ahab shakes his head. Maybe the spear will work properly. Instead, he turns to focus on Connor. He sees the stopstephopstep. He opens his eyes and laughs. "Oh, Volk! How nice! You would not be stopping me if you realize the atrocities that this one you seek to protect has caused. I seek to save some of them from happening. Death. Murder. I simply want to take him under my wing."

Connor's jaw trembles a bit at the page, "He called me Volk, Miss Braddock. If Ahab was the Ahab of ten years ago… he wouldn't even know who I was… or he would have called me Connor."

"He isn't," says Betsy grimly. "He got a hold of Heather, who can, apparently, bring people back in time." She sighs and looks at the television again. "Most people don't remember Cam as anything but a Hound. I don't have those memories. To me, he was always working /with/ us, using his skills to help the refugees to find supplies."

Running his hands through his hair, "No… I remember this. But I don't think I'm supposed to. But it's here now." And motioning around you see that all those books are writing notebooks like this one, "I needed to give this to you. This is the second piece. The first was the note from Heather. If Ahab does something again… I can't guarantee how or if I'll know like this. If he decides to come after me… this NEEDS to be in someone's hands." Looking up at the woman with a pained expression, he says, "I'm scared. Outside of here, all I am is hate and death. I… I don't like walking out the door. They're there. It's… peaceful here."

Betsy takes the notebook offered to her and nods, holding it to her chest. "If Ahab can do this… then there's a chance /we/ can do this too, and keep this nightmare from happening in the first place." Granted this may damage the timeline even more than Ahab's interference has, but she just can't see how worse off things can already get. At Connor's pained expression she looks thoughtful and walks over to the bookshelf. She pulls out a small, dusty book. She blows on it's dust jacket and a puff of dust flies into the air, revealing the book to be Where The Wild Things Are. It was never here before, but it is something she's created in his mindscape to help deal with the chaos outside. "Here," she says offering the book to him. "When they get too loud, read this to them. That will settle them down some." And, hopefully, if used enough times, Volk will see himself more and more as Max, and those voices as the monsters in the book.

Looking at the book, Connor runs a hand over the cover. The screen image fades as the voice of the perspective is laughing. Fading back in, both see the face of what looks like Robin, only she's taller… blonde… and has freckles. She's laughing, and dragging the perspective along towards a house door talking to him about a birthday surprise. Inside, there's a cry of children saying Happy Birthday. The Connor sitting on the couch sniffles a bit, and looks away from the screen, "The nice ones hurt the worst… it's not fair to see all these lives, and being jealous of them." Where The Wild Things Are is placed on the coffee table, and the can of Dr. Pepper on top of it, "This… all of this is why I can't agree to join the resistance. Not fully. To make sure I'm not a Hunter, or a Hound, or a plant… you'd have to put it all back together. Without that…" Motioning towards the doorway, "… to drive me… I don't know if I can be who I am now. Does that make sense? At all?"

Betsy nods sympathetically. "A little, yes." She stands and watches the scene play out on the monitor. "But from what I've seen you're not one of them. I've been in their minds before and… it's not pretty." She looks towards the door and shakes her head. "What's out there… is broken. Badly broken. But it's not something that can't be fixed. The minds that Ahab takes…." she trails off and shakes her head. "Nothing like this. It's a nightmare in their heads. A horror movie come to life."

Connor stands up and leaves the can on the book, a seemingly treasured place. Going over to the darkness and starfield, he reaches in and pulls out a notebook, bringing it back to the coffee table and settling it down there. Looking back at Betsy, he then says, "I've never trusted anyone like this… about the only people who know me this well are Robyn, Rashmi, and James. My friends from a better time… and a better world. A place where at least here I can live in… for a little while. Then I walk out that door, and I don the wolf's fangs. Volk is Russian for Wolf. That's what I've been. And a wolf needs a pack to survive. This is his pack now. Ready?" And he holds out an arm in a gentlemanly fashion, waiting to escort her out.

Betsy nods and takes Connors arm, letting him lead the way out, a gentle way of extracting herself from his mind. Later, when she's in her own hideout halfway across the world, she'll get a chance to review the notebook she was given, and go from there.

Instead of walking her out the door, he just takes a step and it's like teleporting… suddenly Volk is sitting there across from Betsy, only a few seconds having passed in the real world. Leaning back in his chair, he rubs at his temples, and there's a faint smile before finally he writes down, -I wish we could have met in a better place. You'd have liked me ten years ago.- Leaving that note for her to ponder, the teleporter begins walking towards the door, leaving the telepath to her thoughts.

Back inside the Library, unbidden the can sets itself to the side, and the book there opens, turning to a page… "And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all."

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