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Supercape

Dreamtime (IC)

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21st December

Rene was painting away at his studio, and a most peculiar painting it was too.

On occasion, he just let his subconscious go free, roaming the flow mystic forces, to see what would happen. Freedom City was where his destiny was, he was sure, and its was a nexus of the lines of fates. His paintings were often odd, and usually meaningless.

This time however, he painted as if in a trance, and a wave of sleepiness had hit him. Something was up. He didn't know what, but it looked peculiar and it looked like he would be needed in his capacity as mystic protector.

He went down to the ground floor, grabbed his coat, an umbrella, and wallet, and stormed out of the house, ignoring his creaking knees. As soon as he was out of his house, he hailed a cab.

"Liberty Park, please, Monsieur" he demanded, more gruffly than normally. "And, siv vou plait, with all speed. "

Back at the studio, the sunlight shone gently on the painting of Liberty Park, showing a black bear fighting a horrible giant green formless thing. A thing that could only be conceived in nightmares.

Oblivious to the horror of the beast a small girl looked on, licking an ice cream, watching brawl unfold.

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Marcus yawned, chewing on the end of his pencil with an open sketchbook in his lap, watching the world pass him by. People watching seemed like a colossal waste of time when he could have been studying. In reality, that's what he was doing--drawing runes from his book by memory, and trying to recall what they were supposed to do. It was an exercise that was mostly inspired by Etain's interest in his magic--not that he could do anything with it just yet, but he was coming to much more of an understanding of the function of his abilities.

He hadn't even considered the thought of his more physical capabilities. He was pretty comfortable with his own strength, and had even gone so far as to venture into a few random basketball games with other students--who, much to his surprise and relief, were just as resilient as he was. The only reason he wasn't on campus now as because he felt as if he needed to be at the park; he blamed the vision he had at the museum a few days ago for that. He was still convinced he'd seen a future robbery, but he had no idea how to even begin to figure out when exactly it was supposed to occur.

The day, over all, seemed rather quiet. Marcus enjoyed days like it, but lately, they didn't last long. One minute, he was sketching the Shield rune, and the next, an ear-splitting scream from a nearby jogger caught his attention. When he looked up, there was an amorphous green blob shambling across the grass, sending people scattering in all directions. He scrambled to his feet, and for a moment, he had to decide whether he would follow suit or actually do something... But do what, exactly?

There was no one else around to deal with it, and the creature wasn't exactly slow, killing the grass as it worked its way across the grounds. He was more concerned with the blob than the fact that there was someone else standing there, watching; usually he was worried about someone seeing him transform, and he didn't like audiences, but that seemed like a rather selfish problem that he'd resigned himself to deal with later. He dropped his sketchbook as the mark on his back started to glow. He mentally braced himself as the circle of power he'd become familiar with appeared on the ground beneath him, changing his form in a matter of seconds from Marcus Irons to the eight-foot tall Arcturus.

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The taxi Skidded to a halt just at the outskirts of the park. A half dozen citizens were running, screaming, from the centre, babbling something about a creature in the centre.

"This is as far as I take you, buddy!" said the driver, already putting the taxi in reverse.

Shoving the driver a bunch of bills (more than needed), Rene exited the vehicle and started to make his way to the park. The leaves were brown and the air cool, but he was dressed warmly.

Stopping as he pressed onwards, he decided on a better course of action. He wasn't fast on his feet, after all. He closed his eyes - not necessary, but it helped filter out distractions - and used his mind instead.

To his minds eye, he saw the surroundings as if painted by Van Gough. The leaves were browner than brown, dots of yellow and orange flecked in with them. The trees were full of flecks. He saw the impressions of what was around him. What one would need to paint the surroundings, rather than a photographic image of it.

And his mind eye could roam. Not far, but far enough.

As he stood still, his mental vantage point seethed and flew all around him, until he came to the sight he had painted only minuted beforehand. A giant green ooze, a giant bear, and a little girl watching it all unperturbed.

The girls parents seemed to be rushing towards the girl, trying to rescue her from the ooze, and in doing so were in danger of being consumed by the creature itself. A young man, wearing headphones that were clearly to loud, was reading a newspaper on a bench, oblivious to the world, and even in more serious danger.

Rene didn't know if the bear or the ooze was more hungry, but the situation was looking perilous. But also... odd... something about the whole situation felt unreal... and the whole park seemed to be slipping away from reality by the second...

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The entire situation was just making Arcturus grumpy. A quick survey of the situation lent itself to the realization that he really didn't want to be here, but now that he was... well, there was just no helping it. He wasn't even sure where this monster had come from, but it was menacing enough that someone had to do something about it. This was the first time he'd actually had to use his power for something like this; hauling that AEGIS agent off of his father didn't really count.

Tearing away the remnants of the ill-fated black t-shirt he'd been wearing, Arcturus saw the ooze threatening the girl and her parents. A distraction was in order. He didn't have time to think; if he waited, bad things were certainly liable to happen. He charged forward, surprisingly agile and quick for a huge, furry menace weighing upwards of 500 lbs. Without so much as a growl of warning or a snarky quip of introduction, Arcturus closed the distance between himself and the blob, choosing to introduce himself with a clawed swing at what he could only assume was the monstrosity's body.

The second he made contact with it, though, he regretted it, as the sharp smell of his burning paw hit his nose. He immediately recoiled and pulled his smoking paw back, wincing at the acid burn he'd managed to inflict on himself. The pain was jarring; it was difficult to say whether it was because of a lack of combat experience or just the shock from the acid burn. Either way, he suddenly found himself in a rather unfortunate position...

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Rene witnessed the fight from fifty odd feet away, behind some trees. He had seen some bizarre things in his life, of course. A black bear fighting off a giant ooze from god only knows what nightmare realm had to rank up there, he conceded.

Drawing upon his mystic power, he focussed him mind, and bent reality. His power did not rely on mystic incantations, complex rituals, hand gestures, or spells. Rather, he raised his hand, and painted the magic onto the world. In this case, a bolt of lightning flew from the skies, like an artists brushstroke.

The thing from beyond was slow, large, and Rene could hardly miss. The bright white bolt streaked from the heavens and struck the beast squarely in its centre. There was a brief flash of light, a sizzling sound, and a nasty acrid smell.

The creature did not make a sound, but slumped and writhed as its liquid form bubbled and sizzled, and withered slightly, leaving smoking dead, brown grass behind.

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The smell was bad enough--especially considering his close proximity and his sensitive nose. Tucking that injured right hand under his left arm, he blinked as the lightning bolt came down on the giant ooze, fur standing on end a bit from the residual static. He wasn't even sure right away where the lightning bolt had come from; but he was still grateful for the fact that it saved him from something potentially worse than just a burn to the hand... and even that was startingto clear itself up.

He was genuinely surprised; Arcturus had never actively tested just how much his regenerative power was capable of. He certainly wasn't going to make a habit of it, however. He shook his paw out and took a quick glance around, wondering where the proverbial bolt from the blue came from...

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Walking forward to the fray, which was somewhat complicated as the two images overlapped, Rene pressed forward the advantage. The thing from beyond was not a denizen of this reality, and probably had little mind, if any. He was merciless in his assault, as it had no business here.

Another wisp of magic entered the park, this time a stroke of fire, erupting from the ground and directly striking the beast in its underbelly. There was more sizzling, and the stench intensified. Again, its tendrils withered away, leaving scorch marks where its acid secretions had burnt the ground.

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There was magic coming from everywhere; first a lightning bolt and then a burst of flame. He wasn't sure it was magic, but then again, he really didn't know how to explain it. It was just as strange as the old man that suddenly arrived--was all that coming from him? Still, the fire seemed to weaken the beast considerably, and Arcturus was hardly one to miss an opportunity. He launched himself forward with a bellowing roar, rearing back and tearing into the beast with a disturbing amount of reckless abandon. It shuddered once and then its entire form relaxed into a puddle; this time, at least, the burn wasn't anywhere near as rough on him.

He stood upright as the monster fell, chest heaving a little from the effort. He looked around, first at the elderly gentleman that had recently arrived, and then at the bystanders. He wasn't sure what they were more horrified by: him or the monster. The OTHER monster.

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Rene walked towards the remains of the beast, swinging his umbrella beside him. He was not sure what to make of the valiant bear that had torn the creature to pieces. He wasn't about to jump to any conclusions on the matter, positive or negative.

The ooze just seemed to wither away, until it simply ceased to exist. The little girl looked at it in a funny way, head cocked to one side, whilst her parents held her tightly.

Rene sized up the bear, not getting too close to the beast, who could probably take his head off with one swipe.

"Do you talk? or just dance?" he asked.

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"...the hell kinda question is that?"

Arcturus turned to face the older gentleman, eyes narrowed a bit. Clenching and unclenching his right hand to make sure it still worked, he remained in his bear form--better that than dealing with being half-naked in the middle of Liberty Park. It was hard enough to not look threatening, but he at least made the effort, sniffing absently at the rapidly healing burn. "I'm gonna assume that didn't belong to you," he muttered, his bulky form relaxing a little as he spoke. His eyes moved from Rene to the girl and her parents, not entirely sure what to say to either of them. He had, in fact, saved their lives, but what was one really supposed to say after doing something like that? He decided that saying nothing would be best; at least none of them had screamed yet.

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"Its the kind of question that needed asking" replied Rene, with a smile.

"to a bear, anyway" he couldn't resist a chuckle "I don't meet many bear's. There was a talking one in Russia, 1907 I think it was, can't remember who the trainer was. But to be honest, I was never sure who was the performer, and who was the trainer in that partnership. "

He took a few steps closer and peered at Marcus more closely, with more than just his eyes. He looked noble enough. But then, he was strong enough to rip a main in twain without effort. That always helped looking noble.

"My name is Rene deSaens" he continued "I am afraid I haven't had the pleasure of your name, monsieur". He guessed the bear was male. If he was relying on just normal eyesight it would have been impossible, especially with his eyes, but somehow in his impressionism view of the scene, Marcus looked masculine, in some way.

"And no, I had nothing to do with that thing, whatever it was. In fact, I had more to do with its evaporation, thanks to that lightning bolt. "

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Arcturus just watched Rene carefully. He didn't seem terribly threatening, and he had, in fact, helped Arc out of a rather dire situation. He sighed and his large shoulders rose and fell in a shrug. "My name's... ah... Arcturus." He certainly wasn't going to give this guy his REAL name, although it occurred to him that he might have to change back eventually. He wasn't even sure how long he could stay this way--so far, he guessed could stay as he was as long as he wasn't asleep or otherwise incapacitated.

"Thanks, I guess... not that I needed your help. I had it under control." He wasn't exactly the best liar either. He headed back towards where he'd been sitting earlier, picking up his discarded sketchbook. "...so all that flashy magic stuff was you, huh? ...hm." He wasn't sure what else to say about it, though he had to admit a distinct amount of curiosity to himself. He looked down at himself for a moment, frowning at the condition of his clothes. "...not my day at all," he muttered, rubbing at his stout muzzle while he tried to figure out what to do next.

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"Pleased to meet you, Monsieur Arcturus" replied Rene, following the giant to his sketch book. He couldn't help peeking over at the book and seeing the doodles, clearly arcane in nature.

He gazed up at the sky. It seemed... odd... somehow. Like it was fading. He looked around, and the very trees and parks seemed similarly distant. Everything seemed to be peculiar, both more and less real at the same time.

Only the little girl seemed to be real. She was dressed in a thick red coat, and had her clear green eyes fixed on the two heroes.

"Are you from the scary place?" she asked, quite calmly.

Oddly enough her parents, just... didn't seem to be around.

Rene turned to Arcturus. "My friend, do you get the feeling, as you Americans say, that we ain't in Kansas anymore?"

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"...huh." He blinked; he hadn't been paying attention before, but there was a definite surreal quality to everything around them... except the girl. That by itself threw up some red flags, and as she asked her question, his frown grew deeper. "Ah... scary place? Um... no, I'm not."

He looked at Rene and nodded slowly, sniffing absently at the air. "Definitely not in Kansas anymore."

His eyes went back to the girl and he started to approach her. He tried not to look menacing--difficult considering his size--and crouched down as best he could so that he wouldn't seem so huge. He wasn't exactly the best with kids, but he would give it a shot nonetheless. "Hey, kiddo... where'd your parents go? We should probably go find 'em... what do you say?"

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"They always go away when I sleep, silly big bear" replied the girl.

Rene put his hand on Arcturus' massive arm for a moment, slightly fearful that the ursine hero would take offence. "Now, now little girl", he said "this bear may be big, but he isn't silly. How do you know you are asleep?"

The girl shrugged, and Rene could sense she was starting to become scared.

"We go to the sleepy place, and then things can get real scary, just because we think of them..."

"And what are you scared of?" asked Rene, getting progressively more concerned.

"All sorts of things" said the wide eyed little girls "but I always get real scared of spiders...."

And out of the ground, slowly at first but with increasing numbers, started crawling, and then pouring, vast multitude of red eyed spiders, black as the moonless night, with horrible speed and purpose. They varied in size, from the size of a dime to the size of a fist, and all creepd' on eight spindly long legs...

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Rene had, in fact, guessed right. "Silly? Look here, y-..." He stopped when Rene put a hand on his arm. He was a little more surprised that Rene would put a hand on him that anything else, but he knew the universal 'back off' signal when he saw it. Nothing seemed real in this place; it reminded Arcturus vaguely of that dream he'd had back at the museum, but this one was different. He hadn't been able to interact with anything at the museum, but he had a recently healed acid burn to prove this one was, at least on some level, real.

"Sleepy place...?" Had he been caught in someone else's dream? He frowned; as if his own weren't bad enough, dealing with someone else's subconscious baggage was far too much for him to handle. "...and did she just say sp-"

To say he was creeped out by the sight of the spiders would have been a gross understatement. He'd seen enough horror movies to know how these sort of things went, and there appeared to be no end to them. One giant killer ooze was one thing, but a swarm of spiders was something else entirely. Real or not, he didn't want to stick around to figure it out. Holding out his paw, he beckoned the little girl forward. "...I think this is the part where we run, kiddo."

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Rene was not a fan of spiders either, and was brushing them off as fast as he could with his umbrella. He shuddered at the size of them. For every one he flicked away or stamped on, three more surged from the earth. It was no good.

"Zut Alors!" he shouted "They are everywhere!"

He started to run, following Arcturus as fast as he good. Unfortunately, that wasn't particularly fast, given his age.

Everywhere, the spiders continued to swarm.

"The lake!" he shouted to Arcturus "it should be free of them!"

"Should" he muttered to himself.

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Arcturus had the girl cradled in his right arm, running as fast as his legs would take him. He wasn't, however, going to let Rene lag behind, keeping a watchful eye on him while he ran. "Just hang on, kiddo, and don't let me go, okay?" She hung on for dear life around the bear's broad neck, her face buried in his fur.

"The lake! Right... wait, what?!" He ran in that direction, but the hesitation was evident in his eyes. He was NOT a fan of water by any stretch of the imagination, and the first thing that popped into his head was him drowning. He hesitated for a second--long enough for Rene to catch up--and waded waist-deep into the water. Hopefully that was enough to avoid the arachnid invasion. As long as I stay calm, she'll stay calm too... right? Right.

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Distances were convoluted in this strange dimension, as was the sense of time. It was hard to tell if it was a second or an hour before they reached the lake, all the while chased by the horde of spiders.

"I don't like the creepy crawlies" said the little girl, stating the obvious.

The lake did indeed offer refuge from the creepy crawlies, who avoided the water edge. Rene, who was continually batting off the spiders with his umbrella, sighed. It was going to be a horribly cold experience, and one he was sure he wouldn't enjoy.

"Ce sera un jour froid en enfer" he shouted, before taking the plunge, holding onto his beret as he did so.

It will be a cold day in hell...

Indeed it was, the water seemed to chill his very bones. Still, it was better than being poisoned by a horde of nightmare spiders. At least the water was not deep - he was only waist high.

"Come on, Monsieur...!" he yelled at Arcturus who seemed less than keen to submerge himself.

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Arcturus was hardly about to admit how scared he was; just the idea of submerging himself more than waist-deep was disturbing. With his free right hand, he backhanded a group away from him, backing into the water with extreme reluctance. It wasn't the cold of the water that was bothering him, at least, and he managed to force himself further into the lake.

Thankfully, he was taller--much taller--than Rene, and even standing next to him, the water wasn't terribly deep. Yet. Arc wasn't sure if he wanted to go any further than he already had, but from where they were standing, it seemed as if the spiders were even less willing to traverse the water than Arcturus was. Inwardly, he was somewhat relieved, but given his luck lately, he certainly wasn't going to revel in it.

"I don't like the creepy crawlies either," he replied with a curt nod, looking over at Rene. "I'm gonna assume you've got a plan..."

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"Oui, Mon ami ursine" replied Rene.

"Survive"

Even as the spiders appeared to recede, the waters started to rise, slowly but perceptibly.

Rene turned to the little girl. "Little girl, could you tell me your name?" he asked her gently.

"Mary" she replied quietly.

"So, Mary, when did these nightmares begin?" he asked her, as kindly as he good, whilst the dank waters started lapping against his waistcoat.

"When the boogeyman gave me this" she replied, showing the two heroes a medallion, forged from bronze, that wrapped around her neck. It was not of particularly good workmanship, but was rather complex, all odd folding chains and hoops, wrapped around a central pearl with a black flaw, that looked like a lidless eye.

"I see... the boogeyman... we had better find this creature. It sounds like he rather wants to find his way into the real world, and swap places with you, Mary. Where does he live?"

Mary paused "I'm not sure. He normally lives in the centre of the town, or the centre of wherever I dream of. There's no road there. But I always find it somehow. "

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"I knew dreams were dangerous," Arc muttered, frowning as he watched the waters in the lake start to steadily rise. On top of the very real prospect of drowning, the girl's medallion made him especially nervous. The one around his own neck changed along with his form; it was hard to see under all that black fur, but it was still there. Identifying what it was would take more time than he actually had, but there was no way he was going to let a monster trap some child in her dreams. It seemed that the older gentleman had a much better fix on magic than he did... On one hand, it was perfectly understandable given the situation, but he still wanted to know HOW he knew.

Definitely a question for later.

"...alright, everybody out of the pool." The rising water made him less wary about looking towards the water's edge to escape, especially now that the spiders were gone. He distracted himself by trying to remember his own studies on magic. Supposedly dreams existed on an entirely different dimension. Usually they were protected from intrusion, but sometimes... well, sometimes, they weren't. Especially if one received something in the waking world to compromise a dream's relative safety. He growled to himself, wondering what sort of sick nut would give something like that to a little girl... He didn't dare try to remove it; that could potentially make things worse.

"I'm all for payin' this 'boogeyman' a little house call. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can get you home..." Red eyes and large teeth aside, his tone was surprisingly tame as he glanced at Mary. Arc was still hanging on to her as the waters rose, and he looked over at Rene for a second opinion.

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Rene stepped out of the Lake with its horrible rising waters. The land seemed more muddy now, and he sank to his ankles when he walked.

"The small spiders have gone" remarked Mary, without much enthusiasm.

"The... small spiders?" asked Rene, looking at the girl with trepidation.

"Oh yes, I am very scared of spiders. You know in scary dreams how they get scarier and scarier? Well, in my scary spider dream, the small spiders are scary, but then it gets scarier. The king spider comes along..."

In the trees of the park, thick spider webs had formed. The light had dimmed, as if only moonshine played on the park. Two large glowing compound eyes could be seen, at first, until an enormous spider, larger than Arcturus in body alone, not counting the eight spindly legs that protruded, detatched itself from the trees and gave the heroes a baleful look.

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Arcturus weighed the pros and cons of just taking the amulet and smashing it with a rock. He usually tried to be a little more subtle about the way he did things, but somehow things always came down to one or more objects being smashed with something else. It was hardly methodology befitting a magic-user, but he was, after all, his father's son. Still, even if artifacts like that had a focus--the pearl, he assumed--there was nothing stopping the original maker from just making another one and pulling the same sadistic trick on someone else. He'd resigned himself to finding this 'boogeyman'. And perhaps smashing HIM with a rock.

And then he saw the spiders.

Oh come on! I swear to God I'm gonna gag this kid... Arcturus's jaw went slack at the sight of the spider. Not only was it a spider, but it was a BIG spider--bigger than him. He took a moment to compose himself, holding his free hand out. "May I... borrow that medallion, Mary?"

As far as he knew, scrying worked both ways--one could see things and, in turn, be seen. He knew enough about ritual magic--or so he'd hoped--to figure it out and, hopefully, save the three of them from having to traverse this girl's entire dreamscape for who knew how long; instinct told him that there was likely far worse than this spider around.

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"The boogeyman said it was mine" said Mary clutching on to it instinctively. "Its mine, and nobody else can have it! mine mine mine!"

"I want my mommy and daddy!" she screamed as she clutched it more tightly than ever.

Rene tapped Arcturus on the elbow. He couldn't reach the shoulder, so he thought that would be the most appropriate joint. He pointed at the trees, where the spider shuffled silently from side to side, glaring at them. In the grey webs two figures could be seen. Although only briefly seen in the real Park of Freedom City, they were quite recognisable as Mary's Parents.

The King Spider crawled over to the two struggling and bound figures, opened his slobbering jaws, and spat out a stream of baby spiders which streamed over Mary's parents like a wave.

"This is both bad and good" said Rene. "The Boogeyman hungers for fear, and the more afraid Mary gets, the more he will find the smell irresistable. He will come, sure enough. "

"However, The Boogeyman will feed on fear, it makes him strong. And as Mary gets more frightened, she will... break. If she sees too many horrors... well, Mary is a door between our world and the dreamtime. And we don't want that door broken down. "

He looked down and the terrified, crying girl. "And little girls should not be scared of monsters" he added.

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