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In The Dark And Outside Ti[m]e (continued)

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Offline Aries Jordan

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The moment Strange had with Kaecillius visible was all he needed to turn him to stone again, but of course that was only going to be temporary.  Strange's next spell created a tornado of energy that whirled through the area, dissipating the debris and disrupting the zealots' attempt to reassemble it.

Though practically drowning in his own tears, Peter was still a little disturbed when Venom sent Eddie to sleep.  "What did you ... oh..."   It was was for the best, because although Eddie couldn't talk Peter out of his decision, he could make Peter feel way more agitated and scared and even guilty about it.  (Yes, he could feel guilty about sacrificing his life to save billions of other people.  Peter Parker could feel guilty about anything.)  With Eddie asleep, Peter could relax a little (more than a little, oddly enough) and hopefully it wouldn't hurt and...

"No, you have to... you have to..." he protested when Venom said he wouldn't hurt him.  Aunt May might be one of the billions out there, or Mary Jane.  But he couldn't seem to get upset about it, he was so safe and warm and...

Gamora sadly shook her head when the symbiote caught her eye.

But a moment later, when it was over and Peter's freshly killed body was being cradled and grieved over by Venom, a small, surprised smile crossed her lips.  "I'm... I'm free," she said wonderingly.  She had just enough time to say, "Thank you," to Venom before she dissolved into golden mist and flew away.

Peter's corpse disappeared.  The Soul Stone fell into Venom's grip.


Offline EvilCopepod

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Venom's tendrils grasped at the empty air, trying to find the boy he'd just been holding, but there was only a faint scent of him left and the stone. The scenery disappeared and Venom was once again in the vast, grayscale portion of the Dark Dimension, a sepia aura colored the area around the Soul Stone and Venom pulled the stone inside of itself as the alien covered up the still sleeping Eddie. Besides his dreams, it was completely silent in the surrounding area, the battle through the small portal seemed miles away. Knowing that time was not on their side, Venom shot a tentacle upward into the portal, launching them upwards when they latched onto the rock that the battle was taking place on.

It was no trouble for them to fit through the smaller sized hole, but they oozed through it rather than squeeze through it, and while their form was mostly humanoid, it wasn't as solid appearing as usual, not having the exact shape it usually did when Eddie was sharing control. The zealots didn't waste time, attacking Venom as well as Strange, but the alien just sat there in half a puddle of itself as it was struck by spells. What had just occurred fully hit the creature, and their body rippled as it hunched down, still feeling the love it had craved so much from Peter, and feeling it fade along with everything else that made up the teenager.

Venom suddenly let out a heart-rending shriek, which caused all of the zealots to pause fighting, not because of its volume or its tone, but because of its effect on them. With the stone, Venom was able to drive its grief into their very souls as if it were their own, one of them collapsed into a fetal position while the rest of them were forced to conjure and fire their spells through their tears.


Offline Aries Jordan

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When Venom took possession of the Soul Stone, the spell that had been keeping it perceptible in the Dark Dimension was no longer necessary and ceased to operate.  Dr. Strange felt his power (and Dormammu's) surge back into his hands.  No longer did he have to divide his attention. 

After turning Kaecillius to stone again, he sent a web of energy tendrils out to seize every asteroid and piece of rock floating in the vicinity.  Making the web center on Kaecillius, he drew them all together around him with concussive force, and bound them around him, burying him in layers and layers of stone.  His shield, meanwhile, deflected the feeble attacks of the would-be zealots.

His eyes widened and then narrowed in surprise at the sight of Venom oozing through the portal alone.  Since there was no gravity to make the symbiote puddle in any particular direction, he looked completely inhuman -- Strange couldn't tell  there was anyone inside him at all until he checked the creature's aura and saw the shadow of Eddie's sleeping presence, as well as the glow of the Soul Stone.

Emboldened by his distraction, some of the zealots were trying to concentrate fire to penetrate his shield when Venom's pain hit them.    Although Venom wasn't targeting his ally, he had little control over the Stone as yet, and Strange nearly doubled over, his heart pierced by the symbiote's grief, his arm raised as if to ward off blows.  "Don't!"

After he got over the first shock, however, he was able to deduce what had happened to him and pinpoint its source.  He pulled himself over to Venom, flooded by an impulse to hold and to comfort  which was most alien to his Dr. Strange persona.  "G-give me the Stone!" he choked out through tears.  "I c-can banish them with it."


Offline EvilCopepod

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Venom didn't realize what it had done, too grief stricken to care about what was going on with the others, and too focused on keeping Eddie safe from any attacks while it mourned. Only when the attacks slowed and Strange came over, showing more emotion than the symbiote had thought the stoic man capable of, that it realized it had broadcasted its sorrow. He then asked for the stone, and the sorrow changed to indignation and rage, though the alien kept these feelings to itself.

Venom had been forced to give Peter away, and now Strange was asking the alien to do it again, for the stone was all that was left of the boy. The alien bared its teeth at the sorcerer, letting out a snarl that was more possessive than hostile. It backed away from him on all fours, its form solidifying a bit more, but it continued to ooze, even the whites representing its eyes dripped, like the alien was crying as well.

It turned its attention to the zealots, its mouth twisting in a grimace before charging at the closest one, grabbing him and biting his head off, but instead of the body just collapsing onto the ground, it and the head were absorbed into Venom, but if Strange looked he could see they were actually being pulled into the Soul Stone. The angered symbiote didn't stop, mauling the zealots that had now ceased to try and break Kaecillius free from the stones so they could try to defend themselves from Venom.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Strange was still very shaken, even after Venom stopped broadcasting its grief.  He prided himself on rationality and avoided strong emotion, so he was not prepared to cope with it when it hit him.  Venom's threat display made him back off, even though he could have easily defended himself against the symbiote.

The Cloak was trying to wipe his tears away.  Strange pulled himself together, pushed the cowl corners out of his face, and wiped it off himself.  By that time, Venom was biting the heads off of the zealots and the Soul Stone was swallowing them whole.  It was disconcerting.  He had planned to free those souls.  But they had surrendered to Dormammu (not that they had much choice), so it might not have done them any good.  And whatever the Soul Stone was doing to them could not possibly be worse than what Dormammu would do.

On the other hand, excessive use of the Soul Stone was quite likely to attract Dormammu's attention.  Strange caught and expanded the portal to the grey zone, which had remained open all this time.  He angled it carefully, waited for an instant in which no surviving zealots were in the way, swept it over Venom and himself, and then collapsed it.

They were instantly whisked back to the dead place, the place where Dormammu was least likely to notice them.  Besides being a place of safety, Strange assumed that Spider-Man was still here -- dead or alive, he hadn't come back.

But the teenager was nowhere to be seen.  Strange turned to his troubled companion.  "What happened?  Where is the boy?"
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 03:10:10 PM by Aries Jordan »


Offline EvilCopepod

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The Soul Stone was more insatiable than the symbiote, its own hunger for souls driving Venom further to violence. If Strange hadn't interfered, it would have chased down all that fled and dug up Kaecillius to get to him as well. It wasn't just the separation from the enemies that stopped Venom's rampage, it was still snarling and clawing at nothing, but the stone urging it to devour the sorcerer's soul as well.

Again, Venom grew as still as an oozing mass of goo in zero gravity could be. It let out several high pitched screeches, which might have sounded threatening if it weren't for the pulses of loss that came with each one.

"Gone." Venom answered, the stone's glow appearing faintly from the blackness of its body. "We had to... I had to..." Venom pulled the stone back inside with a pathetic whine.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Wincing, Strange again put up his hand as if trying to block the piercing hurt that came off Venom.  "Please stop..." He was racking his perfect memory for a defense against the Soul Stone and coming up empty.  "Gone?  How...?" Then  his expression grew grim as he remembered what the Soul Stone had just done to the zealots. 

"There was a price?  You gave him to...?"  His voice grew progressively more stern, but he trailed off at the end, unable to continue in the face of Venom's agony.  The symbiote had always hated Parker, had almost killed him only a little while ago before they found the Soul Stone, but it was grieving his loss as if it had loved him more than Eddie.

"I need to understand this.  You need to calm down."  As he spoke, Strange wove another healing spell.  Venom wasn't physically hurt, but in this place, in the disembodied state they were in, it was hard to distinguish physical from emotional harm.  Strange sent a wave of soothing, healing golden energy through the symbiote, trying to ease the knot of anguish it had tied itself up in.  "Let me talk to Eddie, please, Venom.  Wake up Eddie.  You're going to have to eventually."


Offline EvilCopepod

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Venom couldn't control the stone's transmission any more than it could control its own feelings, and being back where it had killed Peter was worsening it. Its form further deteriorated, to the point that it was unlikely that Eddie was still completely whole inside of it. When Strange started to correctly deduce what had happened, the despair increased, the teeth no longer making a mouth shape as the fangs oozed down its body like they'd never been attached to anything.

The alien was almost literally tied up in a knot when the sorcerer tried to heal it, Venom started to take on their more humanoid form again, and the magic soothed it enough to keep the artifact from magnifying its feelings.

"No. Eddie stays sleeping. Can stay sleeping until we fix this." The symbiote gripped its reformed head as a new kind of despair took hold, "Eddie will hate us."


Offline Aries Jordan

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Strange kept up the flow of golden energy, as that seemed to be the only thing that allowed Venom to sustain its shape and control its grief.  "This is so not my area..." he muttered, distinctly uncomfortable with the prospect of comforting anyone, yet realizing that there was no one else to step up.  "No, Venom, he will... he will not hate you.  He will be angry."  Strange would be angry himself if Venom's anguish wasn't taking up all the space in his heart.  "He may be very angry, but I don't think Eddie could hate you.

"If you won't wake him up, then you need to explain what happened.  In detail, please."  Strange needed to understand exactly how it came about that Parker was sacrificed to the Soul Stone, he felt as if he couldn't plan for the future unless he knew, irrelevant as the information seemed in the grand scheme of things.  "Or I can wake Eddie and ask him."  He tried not to make this sound like a threat.


Offline EvilCopepod

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Venom didn't want to wake the man up, because it didn't want him angry either. But it was comforted by the idea that he wouldn't be able to hate it. However, it knew that Eddie was far better with details than the symbiote was, and maybe if Strange knew enough he could bring Peter back.

The blackness receeded from Eddie's upper half as he woke up, even though he'd been sleeping, he'd been crying as well, and he wiped the tears away with a sleeve. It wasn't as strange to him having the alien's feelings mix with his own, but he'd never felt it this sad before.

"What's wrong?" He asked the alien, then noticed how the sorcerer looked, "Were you crying?" He was more surprised by this than Venom, as he'd marked the man as being incredibly stoic. "What happened?"


Offline Aries Jordan

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"I was hoping you could tell me that," Strange answered.  "Three of you went in and only two came out.  Venom is hurting so badly he can hardly maintain his shape.  The Soul Stone is projecting his emotion and I don't have a defense against it.  Venom says he 'had to do it.'  I'm deducing that the Soul Stone exacted a price, but how it came to be Parker who paid it, I would like to know. 

"And exactly what happened, in case there might be some way of undoing it," he added, although he did not sound sanguine.


Offline EvilCopepod

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When Strange mentioned Peter, his memory before Venom had put him to sleep came back. The symbiote rippled before withdrawing completely into the man as it felt his anger. Strangely, there was no sign of the Soul Stone despite its retreat.

"You can't hide from me like that." Eddie gritted out, "You didn't do what I told you." He would have told the alien to stop messing with Strange's emotions, but it had withdrawn deeply enough that even Eddie was barely feeling its emotions.

"When we got to the stone," Eddie started, the important thing right now was to fill in the sorcerer, not chew out his partner. "we ended up somewhere else, it was orange and yellow, and there was water. I don't think it was still the Dark Dimension." It had looked too stable to be. "There was this little girl, Gamora. She said we couldn't get the stone just like that, and we needed to make a sacrifice. We had to sacrifice... someone we loved.

"I was trying to convince Venom to sacrifice me, but it wouldn't. Then the kid asked Gamora if... if it would work with Venom sacrificing him 'cause he used to love him." The man looked angry, "I told them both no, but... Venom put me to sleep, and I didn't see what happened next."
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 01:28:57 PM by EvilCopepod »


Offline Aries Jordan

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"Gamora!" Strange said, recognizing the name.  He looked angry too, but it was anger at himself.  "I should have realized.  Thanos took his daughter Gamora with him to get the Soul Stone.  She didn't come back.  He killed her to get it."  Thanos had even said, "I had to," in anguish, just like Venom.

"So Parker volunteered."  It was an important distinction, to Strange, that Venom hadn't just murdered him.  And it was very clear that Venom hadn't wanted to do it.  "And Venom had to make a choice between you."  He shook his head, but the expression on his face was pity.  "Don't blame him, Eddie.  It was an impossible position to be in.  What would you have chosen, between Venom, Parker and four billion souls?"

He was looking at Eddie, but trying to find Venom in the man's eyes.  "May I examine the Soul Stone?"

((Don't forget, we're retconning this -- destroying the Soul Stone was never on the agenda.))


Offline EvilCopepod

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"But he can't volunteer for that. He's just a kid, got his whole life ahead of him." Even though he didn't like him, at least Peter was worth something on his own. Without Venom, Eddie was hardly worth anything, physically or how he could contribute to society.

"I told him to choose me. He could always find another host, Peter could have taken care of him until he did, hell, you could even do it. I'm not..." he took in a breath, "I wasn't worth being spared." He didn't have an answer to his question, though, if he had to choose between the three.

Eddie checked all of his pockets for the stone, but of course it wasn't in any of them. His eyes were moving back and forth as he listened to the symbiote.

"Of course he's going to-- why wouldn't he give it back? He's--" Eddie looked at Strange, "You have to promise to give it back to him after you do."

((I already forgot!  :P thanks for the reminder, I edited the post.


Offline Aries Jordan

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Strange looked at the man... well, strangely.

"Do you really think so little of yourself, Eddie?"  He sounded surprised.  "The man who saved my life?"  Venom had made it possible, but Venom never would have done it without Eddie.  "The man willing to sacrifice himself for people he never even met?  You're being a little hard on yourself.  And that's an understatement.  I don't think it's any coincidence that Venom loved both you and Spider-Man.  You have very similar qualities."

As to promising to give the Stone back, he hesitated.  "...Yes, I will give the Stone back for you to carry, Venom.  But... it may be necessary for me to wield it again, later."  He didn't know how to use the Stone yet, but he was pretty sure he was more qualified than Venom was.  "Okay?"