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Thread Contributor: Marten BroadcloakIn the Ruins of the World
The Dark Tower-Mid-World

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Randal Flagg

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#21
“Is that what you’d like to do?” he asked, mockingly sweetly, as he looked back at Belle. “Lie amidst the wreck of the world, with the layers of ash and nuclear fallout and flecks of bone beneath your skin? Make love to the devil as the world ends with barely a whimper of protest?” He pretended to be considering it for a moment… but really, what was the point of it? They both knew what he would be saying. “I think not. I’ve had my fill of insincere women in my day, and besides… Even you could be dangerous if I let you go and let my guard down. Not very dangerous… but still. I haven’t outlived worlds by taking risks.”

“But where are my manners? My name, my name… Oh, I’ve worn so many of them that they’ve lost meaning, but my favorite has been Marten. It’s also the name I used here, so it seems like the right one to use, doesn’t it?” He didn’t bother trying to get a view past Kai’s crystal screen, instead walking casually back over to her. “Such a clever, clever girl, aren’t you. And such a pretty little power you have. I do like crystals, after all. There was a very interesting one catalogued for research here, did you know that? It was found on this… insignificant little island in the Pacific a few years before that island was blown off the map. This… badly rotted body washed up on shore half-embedded in stone, and they found these half submerged in… well, what was left of the skin.” And, as she might have been trying to not expect from what he’d said, he reached into his pocket, pulling out a very, very familiar stone.

“This one’s mine now,” he said, and true to his word, the stone in his hand rippled and shifted with his thoughts. “Of course, if you don’t have an objection, I could add to the collection, couldn’t I?” He pointed with a flourish at the flattened plane she’d formed with her pohaku, and with something like a wrench against every fiber of her being, she could feel him trying to control them. Alarmingly, it seemed like he knew what he was doing.
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#22
Kai couldn't help herself and found herself trying to force back a desire to vomit. Despite what she argued back in her head- she couldn't fight the image of her own body laying rotten on the shore- half covered by her terrigenesis cocoon- with her one crystal dull among the ruined flesh and bone. She bit her lip so hard she started to bleed- tears flowing from her eyes- not because of her emotions- but because of the strain of forcing back her bile.

It didn't help that she could quite clearly recognize the colour and texture of her first pohaku. Her ancestor mutilated and distorted by this mad men- she wondered if the stone had been so dull and lifeless before he had laid his hands on it. With a surprising amount of effort required, she pulled the crystals back to her- sinking them as far into her body as she could manage- until little but the upper crust showed- and even that was underneath a few layers of skin.

"I. Very. Strongly. Object." She managed, each word puffing out around a desire to dry heave. She could understand how someone might come to pull the crystal free to research it- it could have been a new type of growth or a disease for all they knew- but the image, coupled with the feeling of him pulling at hers- she would be lucky if she maintained any composure. She felt her muscles begin to shake again from the fright, though she did her best to hide that.

If she weren't absurdly afraid of what might happen if she were too brave around this man- she would have shut off her fear, then and there- but Kai knew all too well how badly things could go if you were too fearless.
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DC- DC-TV-1

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#23
“You ain’t the Devil.” She corrected him, tone ringing with the conviction of the truly faithful never raising her voice from the soft almost delicate whisper that forced him to lean closer to hear her.

“I’d said I’d lay with ya, not sleep with you.” Belle watched him through her lashes, “no one should die alone. I’d hold any soul when they go t’the end.” Belle raised her gaze to him as he tormented the bleeding girl.

“Has anyone shown ya comfort? Or just cold passion? Have you ever had someone hug you just because you needed it, and they loved you?”

Belle honestly believed that everyone no matter their crimes deserved a moment of peace before their judgement. Maybe if they had been able to find someone to love them they would never have fallen.

“Even Lucifer was an Angel, and God loves him still.” Did she believe that everyone could be rehabilitated? No. But she believed in final redemption.

Belle wished she was smarter, more skilled, had anything than other than words to help the other woman he was tormenting.

“Have you ever felt love Martin?”
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#24
Black Widow watched Belle's play, more than a little impressed. It was evident that the woman was untrained, but she was doing a remarkably good job. She could see by the set of Martin's shoulders that it wasn't going to work, but she was also fairly certain that he was tempted at least a little. Maybe tempted enough to bring Belle along with him to the next world as a plaything. Which, Natasha pointed out, probably wasn't a significantly better fate than dying, but Black Widow shrugged and said that survival was always better than the alternative.
"Why only take one of us?" she said, pitching her voice low and seductive "You could have all three of us. What is the point of doing such deeds if you don't have someone around to witness it?"
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The Dark Tower-Mid-World

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#25
The girl wasn’t so defiant now, was she. “I’m sure you do object,” he answered, his voice a lazy drawl. “From the way the records show her knuckles were broken to a pulp, she must have objected, too.” She’d withdrawn her crystals, and he stopped his little threat to steal them from her. He really didn’t have any use for them… the one he had was only of limited use anyway. Its primary usefulness was the purpose he was putting it to right now… torturing this girl. “Don’t worry. I’ll let you object together. Besides… you won’t get to object for long.” As he stood up, the crystal in his hand floated into the air, then began tapping the top of Kai’s head. It was never hard, nor did it stay still long enough for her to grab ahold of it, but the tapping was incessant, infuriating.

“And not to worry,” he said more loudly as he turned around. “You won’t be dying alone. You’ll all have each other, and isn’t that a comforting thought?” He, of course, wouldn’t be dying, not if he stood on this doomed rock right until the end. “I suppose that this is where I turn from my wicked ways, realize my empty life and save you all at the last minute?” He chuckled, then turned to the window again. “I’ve loved before, my lovely, yes… Thoroughly and completely and until she didn’t have anything left to give me.”

They could hear that mocking chuckle again as he turned around, looking down at Natasha. He smiled, mockingly pleasant, until that smile completely left his face. “Stop breathing,” he commanded flatly… and she’d find alarmingly that she couldn’t disobey. “Now, let’s let this serve as a lesson. If I were interested in the pleasures of the flesh right now? You’d all have been lined up, willing and ready, as happy to obey whatever I said as she is to stop filling that foolish mouth with wind. Let’s stop pretending that I’m one of those silly villains who thinks that the prisoners really want to have a nice last romp with him instead of slitting his throat the second he looks away. And really… if anyone’s going to get a second look, it’s going to be the one who’s giving me a sight that no other living man’s seen,” he said, jerking a thumb at Belle, “Not the ones who’ll drop their underclothes for a smile when they’re bored. Although I suppose to be fair, when someone can’t even hold the interest of the dead, there’s probably nothing special going on.”

He stood again, pulling out a pocket watch and checking the time. “Ah, where does the time go. It was so nice when time ran straight. No, you’re all going to stay in here, because I’m not a fool, and because I’m going to be busy. Oh, you can breathe again,” he added absentmindedly, waving a dismissive hand at Nat, who was finally able to take in a violent gasp of breath. "I'll have plenty of witnesses of this. The Crimson King sees all of this, and his people will cheer when this world falls into discordia."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#26
Kai glared at their captor as he began tapping on her forehead. She didn't even try to snag the stone, she just remained stoic in the face of it. Whether that was because she was strong willed, or she had turned off her anger- who knew? (It was the last one. One hundred percent the last one.) She was tempted to retort, though she held her tongue. When he commented about who he would pick, she sneered at him.

"You obviously know some things about us- which should make it all the more poignant to know that I wouldn't sleep with you if it would save my life." She stated, doing her best to keep the venom going despite the fact that she didn't feel it anymore. Even had her anger been functional at that moment he had unintentionally been quite comforting- because the way he acted about the crystals told her two things. One, she didn't actually die by giving up- and two, he wasn't capable of using their amplifying powers. What he used his twisted version of her aumakua for was effectively necromancy- forcing a long dead part of her body to flex and move.

She hide how please that made her. Kai then just waited until he left at which point she turned to the others. "We're safe. He's using us as bait- because there are only three reasons to restrain someone- to keep them for your own use- obviously not likely since he'd just get us started on that right away, to stop them from doing something- also unlikely since we wouldn't even know where to begin to stop him- and despite being annoying he hasn't actually killed us. We're bait."
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DC- DC-TV-1

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#27
“That wasn’t love.”

The quiet sure statement had nothing to do with the man tormenting them and everything who Belle was. “Love isn’t taking till the other person is empty. Love is proping them up when they are exhusted, finding something to make them happy when they are sad. Love is giving with out asking for return. Partnership is knowing that when you are sad they are sad too, when you are happy they are happy for you.” Belle’s voice was soft, sincere, and oh so sure.

“She might have loved you. But ya never loved her.”

Rage flooded her as he casually tortured the other women; “That is the only way ya can get a willin’ woman ain’t it? Controlin’ em. Either wit your powers or makin’ scared enough ta spread for ya!”

When Belle got angry she went red. All over red. Which at the moment was particularly visible.

“Let her go!” Belle strained against the chains as the other red head failed to be allowed to take a full breath, the dig about her relationship meant nothing. He had made it clear that he didn’t know love and she wouldn’t be hearing his words on what she’d felt!

“I hope one day ya do fall in love.” She cursed him, “hopelessly with someone ya can’t control. Someone that sees who you really are. I wish ta one day understand what you’ve done these years and despair.”

Once he left Belle nodded to the other woman, she’d said as much the problem
Was “But who? I ain’t nobody. Y’all might have someone worthy hurtin ya ta come but...” she shrugged helplessly looking out at the devestated landscapes. “I hope no one does come.” She whispered. Because this was a trap. And Belle did not believe that they would get out alive.
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#28
Natasha didn't pay much attention to the by-play between the other two women and their captor, since her attention was taken up with being unable to breathe. The thought ran through her head, almost absurdly, that she'd never expected her death to be so petty, so pointless. Then the man left, giving her the ability to breathe back, almost as an afterthought.

"We aren't bait." Natasha said, coughing "We got sent here by that fucking deck of cards. We're an accident. Maybe the asshole thinks killing us is a bonus, but we aren't even bait. He'll kill anyone who comes after us, but there isn't a plan here. There's no goal." she coughed again, taking a deep breath "I always hoped my death would count." she said, sounding disappointed.
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The Dark Tower-Mid-World

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Randal Flagg

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#29
Martin favored Kai with a wide, wickedly amused smile. “Well, it’s good to know that you’ve found out you had standards after all. I think the three people in this room are the only ones who even suspect that now.” Even as he moved about the room, preparing to leave, that crystal kept tapping her on the head.

“Maybe it wasn’t love,” he said, shrugging, unconcerned. “She certainly thought so, at the very least. I didn’t control her, though. Well… no more than anyone else would.” As Nat gasped for breath behind him, he walked over to Belle, smirking smugly down at her. “You know all about that, though, don’t you? It’s how people are. You say what people want to hear, you interest them, enthrall them. You make them think that they’re the only thing you see. Then, once you’ve gotten what you want from them?” There was no flash, there was no noise, there was just… nothing, where Martin had been just a moment before, there was nothing.

Well, nothing except that little voice whispering in Belle’s ear. “You’d have liked her. The two of you had so much in common.”
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#30
Kai hissed at him and spat at his feet. "I swear to my ancestors-" She growled- incredibly grateful when he left the situation and she could stop forcing a faked emotion. Suddenly bored she glanced at the other women as they responded to her comments.

She shook her head with a sigh at Nat before turning to Belle. "First things first- I'm Kai- since we've never met. I'm not- strictly speaking- human- so if you have issues with that, please shelf them until after we're free." Kai said with a vague wave of her hand. "And I'll not argue the semantics with you Nat- I'm pretty confident in my assessment- but it's still more important to make a list of who would likely try to come and rescue us- and who they might bring with them."

Shrugging her shoulders, she formed her pohaku into a mirror and started wiping away some of the stripes of blood- despite the clouded crystal continuing to tap away at her forehead. "For me personally- My sister would come, but she's a teenager so I'm really hoping she hasn't been allowed on the expedition- but I also have my-" She paused, trying to come up with the right way to explain Jake. "My boyfriend? The guy I'm dating? Or my fuckbuddy? My lov- MY JAKE." She forced out finally, before her cheeks reddened (and the rest of her) at the realization of what she just said.

And then it fully struck her that he might come to save her- anxiety beginning to seep at her insides because... Well. She felt like she was being torn in two about her opinions about that. On the one hand, she desperately wanted him to care about saving her- and on the other hand she wanted him more than anything to think she wasn't worth the danger. Because then he'd be safe. Which was a very reasonable thing to think about someone who you cared about, regardless of what your not relationship was defined as.

Even if you weren't anything but the girl he occasionally fucked until you couldn't stand. She cared because it was- it was normal to care about someone who had saved you- and who showed you incredible things- and took you dancing through the stars- and introduced you to their friends- and what even did it mean that he introduced her to a friend? Was it just convenience that Mogo was there and Jake figured he might as well explain who he was?

Kai had thought it impossible to become frustrated without anger- but the strange desperation she felt to know what the hell she was to Jake was building a remarkable facsimile. Forcing herself back into the here and now, she swallowed hard and turned off both fear and sadness- and pride and joy when she remembered how wildly those could get out of hand without the negative balances to keep them in check. Face fading into a near neutral expression, she continued speaking. "He is a member of a sort of interstellar military police- So not only is he quite powerful- but should something happen to him, a whole squadron is likely to mobilize to defeat his enemy. Do you two have any family, friends, or lovers who are likely to want to come to your rescue?" She asked, voice hollow, focusing only on survival.

Or it should be- but even being short 95% of her emotion, it wasn't truly gone and her heart was still racing quite unreasonably in her chest.
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DC- DC-TV-1

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#31
“Belle. Hi Kai.” So up till now she’d kept her recognition of the other red head beyond that first spark from her mind, but now that they were exchanging names- “Rachel?” She offered quietly, curious if this was another version of her brothers crush’s ex.

Yes she’d Facebook stalked him right along with Chris! Of course she knew what his ex looked like!

“My people aren’t space police or powerful like that. My little brother...he’s a PA. Sure if they wanted a way into a Lexcorp event-“ Belle snorted. “Some how ah doubt that-“ even now she huffed back the swears that threatened to explode denouncing his lineage and manly attributes. She at least even naked was still a lady! “man-“ she spit the word out. “Is looking for a invitation to the next Gala.” Belle thought about his toys, The warnings he’d told her haltingly about. She hoped he wouldn’t come…

“The only one ah I can think of that’s worth using me against is-“ Belle’s thumb brushed over the empty space on her left ring finger “mah fiancee, but I haven’t seen him in months.” The memory of James soft sure presence, the ghost of a ghost was what broke her. Not the wicked man, his final jab, no it was the fact that if she died here there was no way she’d ever see him again.

Tears flowed down her cheeks, Belle attempted to suppress the sobs that tore their way from her throat. She let her hair hide her break down, bowing over to hold herself as well as the chains would allow.
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Marvel-MCU-3

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#32
"I'm not totally sure I count as human all the time, so we're good." Natasha said to Kai. If they were dying, might as well be honest, and even if she wasn't an Inhuman or a Asgardian or anything like that, but she had been shaped and molded and trained and turned into something that was pretty far outside of the human norm. "I still disagree-I think this is a coincidence, but sure, I'll play. Might as well keep our minds off of it." 'It' being their impeding deaths, of course. "Clint Barton and Phil Coulson would come for me, if they knew I was here-probably their non-daughter Lori also. Most of the Avengers would, really. If they knew, which they don't."

She glanced at the other redhead when she called her by Israeli Steve's wife. Ex-wife, whatever. "Natasha. You must be from Safi's universe. He might come after me" he seemed like the kind of man who'd feel a certain amount of loyalty to the person who'd saved him from sex pollen "would he come for you?" not knowing if he'd slept with Belle, but she thought that regardless, he didn't seem like the kind of person who'd abandon anyone he knew to certain death. Or even probable death.
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#33
Kai sighed emotionlessly. "So we can only count on one rescue attempt- That is to say- anyone that can be mustered from the shop. Jake was there- and I believe I saw a few others loitering around in case of this- but those are the only people we can be certain know that we are missing and in need of help." She offered with boredom as she continued to peel off the dried blood on her skin- watching with vague interest as her skin healed right before her eyes.

She was actually kind of surprised that she was healing so fast- or at least- as surprised as she could be considering her near emotionless state. It brought forth a question for her- as she pulled every single piece of her pohaku from her skin- and allowed them each to separate into the distinct orbs that she received them in.

Kai blinked slowly- because exhaustion could explain a great many things- but not why she was counting one more than she ought to. Six differently coloured crystals hovered around her- five she knew well, that she returned to her skin- but the other one was an angry orange red. She examined it, stretching it and moving it to confirm that yes- now that she was looking for it, she could feel it like another limb. She... supposed, that it would make sense how efficiently she had shut off her anger. Usually she just shut off the emotions that fed into anger- since she had not previously had an aumakua come to her in a time of rage.

But then she had never been this disgusted by another sentient being before- she had never wanted to rip the smug expression off someone's face more- and she had never felt so helplessly unable to do so.

She was torn from her consideration of the new stone by the sounds of crying that hadn't before factored into her processing. She bit her lip slightly and extended a stone hand to the woman to hold, while simultaneously rubbing circle on the woman's back- before deciding that even though the idea made her sick to her stomach, Belle needed taking care of, and Kai couldn't do that without the ability to empathize.

Returning to her previous state, she swallowed hard and offered Belle the kindest smile she could. "It's going to be alright. We're going to get out of here." She offered softly- talking how she would to her own younger sisters. "You'll get a chance to see them all again, I promise. I won't let that black haired asshole hurt you."

Kai forced the expression to remain on her face even though she wanted to scream from frustration- especially as she finally processed the damn tapping of the twisted pohaku on her forehead. She glanced at Nat before arranging her pohaku that weren't in use in words behind Belle's shoulders. 'Comfort her.' She started with, adding an arrow pointing downward for effect. 'Lie if you have to.' Kai added, before shrugging in punctuation and returning to attempt to sooth the other redhead.
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