nightmare • svengali • serenity
all you need is reason to believe

In the time it had taken to pull himself from the muck he felt like he was stuck in, that living abysmal armor that had all been schlepping off of his skin into a puddle on the floor without the mental fortitude to control it, she - this tiny egg of a woman with an all too excited son who sounded more like a toddler than the grown being he appeared - had seemed set to tell him all about the nightmares that had brought them, he and the Goblin Queen, to this place.

All about him - the reason Henry had come to Krakoa in the first place, less concerned about the mutants that would ultimately have to deal with the personal backlash of his cohort, the Goblin Queen, and now more concerned, more bothered, by all that was Nathaniel Essex. She rambled, prattling on and on about the children - the children just like him, lost and abandoned and strange in their own ways that were just as beautiful as anyone else - that she had tried to save from his grasps within that orphanage somewhere in middle America, and just what life she would have been able to give them had the X-Men just listened and not stood in the way. The egg checked her armaments to make sure they were ready, locked and loaded, for whatever might have stood in their way as they headed up north - be it of Henry’s own devising or the Krakoan population defending a once-enemy.

And oh, how she nagged. Oh, how cross she was, but for now, he was one of her children, the mental capacity found in the paf of rainbowed telepathy suggesting as much, but where Orphan Maker had seemed intent on playing the childish bodyguard for the woman - at least he assumed she had been one despite the uncertain stature - who had saved his life once upon a time and continued to do so, even as one-sided and manipulative as it seemed, Henry had his focus decided. They were stuck where they needed to be, perhaps even more so as Nanny continued to gripe about everything she had since found in the abandoned ruins of Sinister’s labs, and presuming he could do it, Henry would make sure that he couldn’t put himself together, this master manipulator of flesh and bone and genetics, even if it meant blowing up Bar Sinister while he was at it.

He had already come this far on wanton destruction. What were a few more feet? Miles? What was a bit more opposition to a cause seemed so justified regardless of the amnesty such villains had been given because there were certain things you simply didn’t do in the world - things that Sinister had, through one means or another, been responsible for ten fold; and where his destruction might have made orphans of his children, at least Nanny had been adamant that she would be able to take them in and take care of them as only Nanny could.

Understandably, he had expected Bar Sinister to contain some measure of security - be it in built-in armaments or mutants, clones born of his genetic experimentation, ready to defend the crystal palace and the damn near-immortal secure within.

The only problem had been that they weren’t doing a good job and it was for lack of trying, Henry glancing around to the various Marauders in the locations and positions they had eventually come to rest within thanks to forces unknown. It didn’t take an educated guess to know some means of how. Magic, he could tell easily enough by the air around them, was involved and as he crossed a few more, coming to a stop while Nanny and Orphan Maker charged ahead, he knew it wasn’t so easily broken - not that he had any intention to break it; but where intention wasn’t there, curiosity was, Henry nearing the closest to him in an attempt to figure out just what was sitting on the other side of stasis.

Surely it couldn’t have been this easy to walk into Bar Sinister - could it?

He might not have been psychic, no where close to telepathic, but he still reached out with careful hands in an attempt to dig into their psyche, to cut through the magical binds to see what was strong enough to occupy their very cognitive function because, at the very least, he knew they were still alive -

- but then he stopped just inches from reaching Arclight, just centimeters from watching her all but throw Madelyne across the ground after pretending to be a nurse aiding her after the crash, just seconds from finding out why she had left them here, stuck like this in a continuous loop of torment that wasn’t born of one ability or another, but an amalgamation of them to forge a nightmare that had all but taken them over.

Like father, like daughter.

But it isn’t the daughter he’s afraid of.

It isn’t the Goblin Queen that draws his hands back from Arclight as if daring to reach into her mind will show him something he wants not to see. It isn’t Madelyne Pryor, the telepathic host of considerable cosmic forces of polar opposites on the universal spectrum, that turns his attention from the stoic Marauders to something in the shadows. It isn’t Molly Saylor, clad in black on a mission of revenge, that draws up the living abyss again, as fast as he can muster it from the shadows with an already tired, tapped form and mind that isn’t so accustomed to the abilities at the fingertips of his mature self.

It’s the father - the creator - who had created her, made her, and nearly tossed her aside when his use of her had been done, a long story of familial strife and genetic terror that only ever ended in a bad way for those who wanted nothing more than an opportunity - to be a real person, to be her own person, to be something more than a tool for someone else to use for their own sinister intents and purposes.

No one wanted to be food for the worms - he knew that well enough.

And no one wanted to go through it twice.

“Just what has she done to you?” It’s a question that chills his veins just as much as it makes his blood boil, his attention drawing for only a second to the egg-shaped mass on the ground, spinning and twirling and nearly cursing thanks to a malfunctioning suit while Orphan Maker might as well have been counting the birds and sparkles spinning around his head.

Fortunately for Henry, the mass of black that covers him once more isn’t mechanical in build or function. Fortunately for Henry, for anyone with a symbiote born from it, it is durable. Fortunately for Henry, the shape of it growing into something more menacing with the eruption of eldritch limbs, it might give him an edge. It’s organic. It’s fluid. It takes on shapes, twisting and turning, much like Sinister’s own molecular structure. It’s something on par.

“I’d say given me a purpose.”

But unfortunately, as solid of an effort as was made against the mutants, he isn’t one. He doesn’t know of the long-standing rivalry between Apocalypse, a being who wanted to see mutant superiority and the man in front of him now, this Sinister, someone who only ever found reason to use them for his own scientific purposes. He doesn’t know just how Sinister has been twisted over the years by the External in what would seem a generational conditioning of experimentation in an attempt to eradicate his creator. He knows about his clones, he knows about his pawns, he knows about the orphans that Nanny had told him about - that she had attempted to save - from the depths of the State Home for Foundlings, but he doesn’t know enough to complete this fool’s errand -

- or suicide mission. They seem the same at this point.

Sinister moves as quickly as Henry can will the eldritch creatures to attack, limbs shooting out of every which direction from his torso before attempting to zero in on the man who becomes a blue, wisps of black and red the only thing left by the time they pull back to stroke another spot. Over and over again, they stab and jab and slice at what seems to be empty air, but it isn’t only the trick up Henry’s sleeve as he focused more thought into manipulating the armor of the living abyss around him. It stretches not unlike its alien counterparts, suddenly jutting out in a series of spikes through the room, puncturing Marauders with meaningly less purpose and catching Sinister for just long enough to let the otherworld do what they were best at.

Even without intangibility, it hadn’t been difficult to stab through his torso to start disarticulating his limbs from his body. They tore through muscle, hooked about bone, and twisted skin apart, launching the pieces across the room; and when all had been said and done, they had let go, dropping what mass remained in an unceremonious heap on the ground and allowing the room to fall into silence - well, relative silence, Henry watching Nanny continue to flail his arms though without much of a liveliness she had once before.

Tired - she’s tired and he’s tired, arms hanging loose at his sides as the abyss recedes again at the sound of approaching footsteps, quick and hurried, likely foe in this situation where Hell had come to Krakoa to antagonize. He doesn’t have the energy for it, but he does have the gall; the drive and determination to meet those en route with whatever magic he can muster from his fingertips - if he could.

The concussive blast hits him first, throwing him back with a sharp shot of energy only to slam him into a wall, dropping him to the ground with a weight that feels too great to pick himself back up again. Had he not known any better, he could have blamed it on broken bones, no abysmal aegis covering his form, but he can feel it - the light tickling, clawing, at his mind as if to start unraveling all that had been done between Madelyne… Nanny…


“Come on, you old bastard,” he muttered, Sinister reforming on the far side of a battlefield littered with Marauders. It seems slow, intentional, a deliberate show of just how foolish Henry had been to follow the Goblin Queen into this enduring war between creation and maker. It was an extraordinary “I told you so” as his limbs reformed and body healed, the only signs there had been some sort of attempt on his life - a successful one at that - being the blood that still clung to his figure.

“How could you, someone who doesn’t even belong here, expect purpose from someone who has none?” Sinister asked in his approach, each step heralding a louder pressure in Henry’s head that he could do little to react to let alone stop, and by the time his towering figure had come to stop in front of Henry, the tables turned with Henry not the crumbled heap on the floor, he wanted nothing more than to scream.

You are just a toy for a child throwing a tantrum who thinks this will do anything to help her case,” he continued, reaching out to all but gran Henry’s by the head, palm pressed flat against his forehead as he began to compartmentalize, shutting off those mental pathways that had connected him not only to Madelyne and Nanny, but the elder God he had trapped within; and further than that, further than a number of beings trying to exhibit some sense of control over him, his powers went with it. Mental walls fell heavy over those synapses that controlled portals and accessed dimensions, doors locking on those nightmares that he could rip into existence and locking them for such a time that Sinister saw fit.

“Again she proves to be a disappointment,” he said, letting go and bringing his hand back to take one that judgmental pose once more.

It is all Henry can do to laugh in his newfound mental clarity - laugh because if he doesn’t, the alternative feels pathetic; laugh because of such ego and hubris that speaks of arrogance; laugh because he knows something Sinister might, but isn’t focusing on. He can see her for what she is, no longer his robot Mom in a retro dress, but a woman on a warpath and if there was something to take away from this whole thing, it was never get in the way of a woman and her child.

“Isn’t that your fault? That you’ve made a failure?” Henry countered, attempting to carry some conviction despite the pain in his head. “You’re only as good as your failures. People remember those, just like everyone you threw away, and people will remember her after this,” he said under labored breath, “but I have a suggestion that might help: Maybe you should consider,” he said, pausing to take a deep breath, “starting your day with a glass of orange juice? Or maybe some eggs?”


“You are a dirty man, Mr. Sinister!”

The barrage of rocket fire to come of Nanny’s armaments, Henry knows, won’t stop Sinister, but it is a surprise - a distraction, something he can use to his advantage although for what, he doesn’t know. It at least allows him to get to his feet again, leaning against the red crystal of the wall while the chaos unfolds in front of him. There’re more mutants now, more heroes and more villains, more reasons to make an escape, but it doesn’t come. There is no slip into the shadows, no phasing through the walls, no rush of invisibility to hide behind - there is just Henry, staring off the glint of diamond forms that are blinding in the light -

"If you're going to do it, just do it."

- until all is dark.

He can’t remember leaving his blinds open, but the sunlight that pierces through rips him into consciousness with a pained grimace playing across his face before his body turns, face burying back into his pillow as if it’ll help the mental alarm clock from ringing. He hears it in his head, in his ears, it fogs up thoughts just as readily as sleep had been - the aftermath of a dream far too vivid, far too detailed, far too corporeal to simply brush off.

And, even with what seems like a full twenty-four hours, maybe more, of sleep, he’s still so tired. It clings to him, refusing to let go while under the confines of his bed sheets that he tried to bundle up around him in his attempts to find another comfortable position to lay in. He stays in bed longer even as sleep continues to evade him, too many hours making his mind and body unwilling to listen to even the strongest expression of willpower; and eventually, he settles, back pressed firm against the mattress, head resting equally so in his pillow, and lets his hands rub across his face to try and rub the sleep away -

- or is it to try and remember what happened?

His body aches, his brain especially, and his muscles feel far too tense to say that there hadn’t been a considerable amount of tossing and turning through the night, but the causes of such elude him; and his attempts to reach into those deeper details of a mind still waking up is met with a freight train, slamming hard into the forefront of his mind not with pain, but with a drowning silence like a thick fog - something dreams, he knows, are apt to do as the seconds awake turn to seconds, and those seconds turn to minutes, and hours into the day, it becomes something he isn’t so bothered by, just another formulation of an overactive imagination that, even with the bits and pieces he can string together, never quite picks it up again. It is a lost idea, and should he ever find it again, it might be when he least expects it.

Some orange juice and aspirin, something to shift his blood sugar into something more normal and something for what lingering headache remains, He considers eggs, something to help his liver if such an evening had come off of a few drinks too many, but something in his stomach finds it unappetizing - something he can’t quite explain and decides not to toil on and on about.

There are other things to do, other things to worry about like a job to go to, hours to fill in preparation for the Halloween season, and any number of “magical” trinkets to sell to those who pass through the doors of Arcana, and there are books to read, magics to research, and cards to draw in what was becoming an ever-common practice for Henry in his pursuit of knowledge.

But he doesn’t man the front desk as he normally does and he doesn’t stop by the staff room to drop off his bag, secure across his shoulders with everything he knees to get through the day within. He passes it all until the building expands into a hallway lined with doors, heading to one in particular belonging to an elevator, old-fashioned like it should belong in an aging hotel from yesteryear, and pressing a few buttons. It takes seconds to open it and only a few seconds more to punch in the code, a series of floors that serve no rhyme or reason to those who see them as simple floors, and in what is an explosive flash of light, he steps out to the smell of breakfast.

“Don’t burn this place down, Nick. I don’t think we have enough money together to fix it,” he says, but not without glancing at his watch, confusion crossing his face since early mornings - even mid-mornings - don’t scream Nick Sumner.

With caution, he approaches the kitchen and is immediately moved to silence, setting his bag on the table as quietly as possible as to not disturb the sight in front of him - a bright robin blue skirt and simple white blouse topped with a drape of perfect 60’ curls that never seem to fall out of place, humming a lullaby long unheard by his living ears. For reasons he can’t place, he’s by a gut feeling that suggests whatever had happened, whatever he had experienced, followed him here - but then she turns and she smiles, and in the depths of his heart, he knows he’s fine.

He’s safe.

“Hi, Mom.”