Who: Mystique, Dr. Strange What: Raven escapes Genosha and winds up in NYC When: Today!
The doctors never realized that they were giving Raven the very tools she needed to escape them until it was too late. As the experiments with shock therapy continued in an effort to get her to revert her appearance to "normal", she started to realize that she could actually change it in other ways. After one such experiment, she was released from the chair she'd been sitting in and the guard turned away for a moment to say something into a radio or wave at the doctor. When he turned back, Raven was standing there, and her face looked exactly like the doctor's. The guard was confused long enough that he didn't notice the bright blue fist that came at his face, knocking him out, which allowed Raven to slip out of the room. She kept her face as stable as she could, but she could feel her hair starting to change back to red just as she walked out of the facility.
Letting go of the concentration necessary to hold her face in place, Raven knocked out another guard and used his device to release her collar, then took off running for the distant ocean. She heard shouting as she reached the rocks, and dove without thinking about it even as the first bullets struck the ground where she'd been standing seconds earlier.
The bullets from the shore could only go so far. That's when the security forces ran to the boats. This afforded more time to swim as they jumped in and the boat engines roared to life.
Almost immediately, Strange sensed when another escapee made it into the water. This time, he wasn't about to open a portal beneath them, and instead opened one ahead of their location, hovering the floor of the Sanctum just over the surface of the water. He eyed the boats as they left the docks, and quickly cast a large tao shield up to let any bullets ping off harmlessly. This would need to be quick.
"I'm here to help you!" he called out, not saying his name in case it could be overheard. He hoped that she saw him, so he could offer her an arm to grab onto. He couldn't exactly reach down with his hands full of metal and pull her up easily, without some pain involved.
Sensing this, the red cape flew down to tie itself around a heavy bookcase nearby, one that was so weighed down it wasn't going anywhere, and it dangled down like a rope to help her pull herself up.
It was determination, rather than fear, that pushed her to action when she hit the water and had her cutting through; to do otherwise meant to give into the part of her mind that wanted to panic at the sensation and at the fact that she'd never been that great of a swimmer. Her back was tense, new knots forming each time she heard a gun behind her fire, and another part of her mind wondered at the fact that she hadn't been hit yet.
Surely they had to be better shots than this?
A voice from in front of her had her head jerking up in surprise, thinking she was about to swim into a boat (or worse) and at first she couldn't register exactly what she was seeing. Hearing the boats behind her and the sound of the firing guns draw nearer spurred her into a desperate action, and she flailed for the dangling red rope like the literal life line it was.
With a grunt, she caught it with both of her bright blue hands and yanked hard to pull herself out because surely this had to be better than being back on that island.
The red cape yanked harder and helped her up into the portal. In good time too, since the boat had readied the big guns, and was firing them as they moved to circle around one side of the shield.
Stephen didn't have time to notice her blue skin, only to act. He waited until the cape had pulled her through the portal completely, before he stepped back and closed it. Just before a hail of large calibre bullets were being aimed their way. They could be heard, and one zipped past into the bookcase, leaving a large smouldering hole in it.
Stephen sighed and turned toward...a very blue woman. Extremely blue. Both eyebrows went up for a moment before he schooled himself. He had seen enough fantastic sights, including hands growing off his own fingertips, that he wasn't about to lose face now.
"I'm Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts," he said, conjuring a towel and offering it to her. "We're helping anyone that escapes from Genosha. You're in New York now, in a safe place."
Raven gripped the cape tightly as she was pulled into a room, and didn’t let go until she was fully inside. She flinched slightly at the sound of the bullets, specifically when she heard one strike wood, but didn’t have the strength at the moment to even look to see where the boats were. As silence settled again, she rolled onto her side and coughed several times in a row to get the sea water out of her lungs, before finally looking up as she pushed her red hair - equally as brightly shaded as her skin - back from her face.
For a long moment, she stared at Doctor Strange, fully confused, before slowly reaching out for the towel that couldn’t have just now come out of nowhere. “Safe?” She repeated before lifting it to her face, then simply wrapping it around herself since the hospital gown she was in wasn’t being all that helpful, damp as it currently was.
“I….What? Mystic Arts? How did I get to New York?” Raven frowned back at the space where the portal had been, then looked at the man warily as she slowly climbed to very unsteady, bare feet, clutching the towel.
"Yes, you're safe now," he said, trying to reassure her and making no sudden moves. She needed to get her bearings again, after being shot at during a bid for freedom. He conjured another towel for her hair too, and held it out to her.
"I'm a sorcerer," he clarified, hoping that made a little more sense after what she had seen. "I have a spell net over the area so we can find people trying to escape. I opened a portal to bring you here. You didn't get hit by a bullet, did you? Were you injured during the escape?"
He wanted to be sure. His tone was measured and calm, but also like this had happened before. He wanted to be sure she didn't require immediate medical attention.
The hovering cape's collar turned as though it had been listening to the doctor. It then turned toward her, like it was waiting for a response.
Utterly bemused, Raven reached out slowly for the other towel with a faint nod of thanks which she used to wrap around her hair and twist into a turban. It was weird to do with hair that only hit her shoulders, but she ignored the strangeness of the feel and instead concentrated on the strangeness of the conversation.
“A sorcerer,” she repeated flatly, still staring at him. At his questions about being hurt, she looked down at herself, but shook her head at the same time. She felt fine - well, exhausted and starving and on the verge of shaking with relief at being out of that place - but she knew she hadn’t been shot. And there didn’t seem to be any blood.
“No, I…” Becoming aware of a throbbing in her hand, she lifted it and frowned - while she couldn’t see a bruise forming from where she’d hit the guards, she could feel it forming. “I think I might need some ice for my hand?” Shaking her head, her bright yellow eyes landed on the cape and she blinked as she realized it was hovering in mid-air.
“Uh. Thanks, but...is this an out of the fire, into the frying pan situation?” If it was, Raven honestly wasn’t sure she had it in her to fight. “Where exactly are we?”
A chair suddenly appeared nearby, so she could sit down, and he quickly conjured an ice pack from thin air, holding it out to her.
"The Sanctum Sanctorum of New York," he clarified, and there was a wry smile about the whole out of the fire and into the frying pan statement. At least New York had some lulls in excitement, compared to where she came from. But when things hit, they hit hard. "Greenwich Village. I'm working with Tony Stark, assisting those in need of help. That's probably a superficial bruise but that doesn't mean it's going to hurt after the adrenaline wears off."
Assisting those in need of help was also a good way of covering arrivals from other universes, as well as people escaping Genosha. He'd have to remember that for later.
Raven took the ice pack without really thinking about it, pressing it onto her hand, but the cold didn’t quite compete with the dunk in the ocean she’d just taken and so there wasn’t much of a reaction. Warily, she sank into the chair that she knew damn well hadn’t been there seconds earlier as she listened to his explanation.
“And where was Genosha? They never told me,” she explained after a moment of soaking up what he was saying almost as eagerly as the towels were soaking up the water that still clung to her. “Why did you help me? Or anyone, I guess?” There had been talk of others escaping - she’d heard some of the alerts, at least, and the guards had been tense a few times, but in general it all seemed way too unbelievable for her to not think they hadn’t figured out some new way to mess with her, and none of this was real.
"Off the eastern coast of Africa. Near the Seychelles." He sat down in a suddenly appearing wingback chair. Tea appeared on nearby tables. The ease of which he was casting magic was like he thought about it and it simply happened. Whether it took a toll on him wasn't clear, or he wasn't letting it show. "A family member to one of the Avengers was kept there, and we suspected experimentation was happening. So we're doing what we can, since we can't go in directly to free everyone. It seems it's what many governments are defining as 'a protected area.' We're helping those that can make it into the water at least. We're not sure how many have tried and failed."
He frowned at that. His entire life had been consumed with saving every life possible. He couldn't save everyone, that was unfeasible, but the thought that some might have tried and failed didn't sit well with him. Neither did whatever was going on, on that island.
"You were experimented on too," he said, his gaze moving down to her hands and back up to her face again. "I'm sorry we couldn't stop it from happening. I don't want to dredge up any traumatic memories either. So whatever information you can provide, if you choose to, is on your terms and your timeline."
She couldn’t help but jump slightly as yet another chair and a tea service appeared, and Raven stared for a long moment, then looked back at the guy who definitely didn’t match her mental image of a sorcerer. Granted, that was probably someone more like Merlin from Arthurian myths, but still. As he continued, Raven listened silently, brow furrowed, before she finally lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead as she shook her head. It all made a strange (no pun intended) kind of sense, and at the same time she couldn’t really deny what she’d seen so far...or what had happened to her there.
“Why can’t you go in directly? I’m pretty sure there are still a lot of people there - I don’t know how many.” But she’d seen them, sometimes, or heard others mentioned in between the guards’ comments about her own very visible mutation.
Swallowing hard, Raven let her hands drop again, too self-conscious to answer the obvious question in his eyes about her appearance. Letting the ice pack sit on one leg, she fisted her hand and rested her knuckles on it instead, shaking her head at the apology.
“I don’t know how much help I can really be, or what you might already know. But if you go after the others, I...want to help.” And maybe figure out something in those files about how to fix herself in the process.
As much as they wanted to rush in, it didn't seem feasible. There was some government funding involved, and the island was heavily armed. There was a high risk of innocent people losing their lives, if those behind this travesty tried to cover their tracks. At least that was based on what Stark was finding so far, and no doubt, everyone on the network would soon hear about. Once that was certain.
He thought over how to put it, carefully choosing his words.
"Obvious interference would cause...unwanted attention to be cast on us. The Avengers were on the island, but weren't fully aware of what was happening there, not until after they left, before they were forced to leave. It may even put those who have already escaped, such as yourself, in danger. Not a risk we're yet willing to make."
He looked at her for a long moment, then let out a sharp sigh. He was familiar with those situations. There was always a chance surgery could improve things, but doing a surgery didn't always guarantee success either. Sometimes, the unexpected happened, and people didn't wake up afterward. How to convey that, though...it was a time he wished Christine was around, since she was more personable than he was.
"It's frustrating for all of us," he said, "and for you, most of all. I think any help would be appreciated, when you're ready to do that. As a former physician, right now, I'd recommend a period of rest and assessment. Wait a few days before you punch anyone again."
He smiled at that, and took a sip off of the still hot tea.
Raven hated the thought of other people still being stuck there, but she wasn’t stupid. She knew nothing about infiltrating a place like that as much as she might want to tell herself otherwise, and at the moment? She’d stick out like a literal sore thumb if she even tried to step foot on that island again. Letting out a frustrated sigh of her own, she broke her gaze and looked down at her hands, pressing the injured one a little harder against the ice pack so that she could use the pain to focus her thoughts.
As much as she hated to admit defeat, he was right - in this, at least.
“Yeah, okay.” Looking up again, she hesitated before asking tentatively. “I don’t mean to be a bother, but do you have a couch I can crash on? I don’t know how long it’s been, but I doubt my apartment is still even under my name right now.” All of her things were probably long gone - and considering how she’d been removed from the hospital, Raven wouldn’t be that surprised to learn that they’d broken her lease.
Plus, she didn’t exactly want to go out in public currently.
That was a good point, and he nodded in agreement. There was little doubt that houses, dorms, or apartments were left empty after these people were abducted.
"We currently have private apartments in the new Avengers Tower," he said. "I can't let anyone stay in the Sanctum unfortunately. Some of the relics and appliances are possessed."
As if on cue, the distant sound of bumping around could be heard, like someone pounding on a wall.
"....and that's the refrigerator," Stephen said with inexplicable calm, like that was as ordinary as any other appliance problem. He stood up, the cape sweeping over to rest on his shoulders, and moved one hand in a circular motion, opening a portal into what looked like a hallway and a door close by. "Floor thirty-seven, room four. You'll need the welcome package."
He opened a smaller portal and pulled one out, wrapped in colorful handmade paper and string.
"Laptop, room key, expense account card, login credentials," he said, letting the package float in midair, nearby. "There's people who might be able to help you in the Tower, currently, and you can be seen in the med clinic upstairs, for your hand. Ask for Friday out loud. Oh, and if you want, you can take that tea to go."
He crooked a finger and the tea floated as well. He wasn't even trying to show off, this time. It was actually practical, since he realized her hand had to be aching.
“....Your refrigerator is is possessed?” Before he could answer, she held up her good hand and shook her head, not really wanting to know the answer to that question right now. Still incredibly confused in general, Raven stood slowly as she Before he could answer that, Raven held up her good hand and shook her head slightly, not really wanting an answer to the question at the moment. Instead, she slid slowly and eyed the door on the other side of the portal, then looked back at the doctor.
"Okay…." she finally said as she reached out to poke at the "welcome package" curiously, blinking as it sort of edged towards the portal at her nudge. "Honestly, I probably should be questioning all of this right now, but all I can say is thanks." Raven snagged the room key, then took a deep breath and gave him a small smile. "Thank you. For all of this, and especially for getting me out of the ocean. And...sorry about your bookcase." Her yellow gaze flickered over to the large hole. then back to him before she stepped slowly through the portal.
Stephen grinned in response to her holding her hand up and keeping it up, since this was....a lot.
"You're welcome," he said. "Don't worry about the bookcase. It's reversible. Get rest and your bearings back. If you think of any other questions, don't hesitate to ask me. My contact information is in the package."
One corner of the cape raised up and waved goodbye as the portal closed. Whatever they were doing on Genosha, he was certain they weren't going to be seeing the end of it. He just hoped there was a way to help those affected and keep them safe.
He couldn't save everyone. But he would keep trying to.
There was another racket from the kitchen, splatting noises on the floor and a door opening and closing loudly. Stephen turned with a weary sigh, the cape flapping wildly as though flailing, and he began stalking toward the kitchen while saying sternly, "Don't make me come in there and do another exorcism..."