By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
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Wanda Maximoff

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June 13th, Y109
@Eleven

Wanda's chat with an old friend... neighbor... friend in this weird facsimile of an afterlife had actually gotten her motivated enough to drag herself out of the jovial, noisy ceremonial halls (that was basically just one gigantic buffet with infinite meade). She'd stepped outside before, found the even noisier eternal battleground too overwhelming in combination with her fresh memories of being stabbed to death by that skullheaded bastard, and had stalked her way inside.

There wasn't any pressing desire to wander too far anymore, because she knew Kal was already coming to find her. But there had to be someplace with peace and quiet, that also wasn't some dark, lonesome, and suffocating closet hidden away within the halls itself.

So she did the obvious thing: she endeavored to cut through the endless courtyard where swords and shields clashed against one another. "Excuse me..." she muttered, shuffling out of the way of a shrieking warhorse as she hauled her assigned oversized battleaxe (so that it didn't get lost or stolen in case she needed to return it to the Valkyries) along the beaten trail leading to a flattened ledge overlooking some unseen views of the edge of the realm. She disliked calling war cheerful— but that's what it objectively (apparently) was. A nearby cluster of armored warriors erupted into laughter as one of their own had his head lopped off by his opponent, underneath a majestic night sky gleaming with multi-colored auroras and starry reliefs.

Wanda stepped awkwardly around the rolling head with a cringe, and kept moving along...

Anyway, someone in the Great Hall had told her the edge of the plane might be a good spot for meditation. She made it about halfway through until she caught sight of a familiar and slight figure within the towering fray. She blinked, knit her brows together, before quickening her pace with the weight of that stupid battleaxe dragging her back, and ducked beneath the trajectory of a spear as she did.

"... El!"
 
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Eleven

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"Mike? Mike?!"

Eleven scrambled to her feet, spinning round to face whatever had just grabbed her. She'd been transported, forced through a gate against her will and landed... Somewhere. Disorientated and slightly dizzy, she lunged for the gate but it was already closing, disappearing before her very eyes.

"No," she said, her voice small, disbelieving. "No."

El reached out, trying to grasp what wasn't there. Her eyes roamed her surroundings. This wasn't the upside down. She knew that much. But it wasn't home either. No, this was somewhere new. But why? How? It didn't make any sense. Eleven began to feel those familiar pangs of panic, the walls were closing in on her, and for a second or two, her chest felt so tight she thought she might collapse. She breathed heavily, closing her eyes and trying to remember Mike, Hop, her friends, everyone and anyone whose mere presence would normally calm her down and make her happy.

She just stood, frozen and thinking, and trying to wish the gate back into existence. Any second now, it would materialise... any second now...

Things would be okay, she tried to tell herself. She'd find Mike, she'd find Dustin and Lucas. She'd see Max and Will again. It had only been minutes since she'd last seen them after all, but already it felt like hours.

Shouts and screams from up ahead immediately pulled Eleven out of her thoughts. Her eyes shot open and she looked toward the source of the noise, her face suddenly quite passive. There was some kind of battle going on, she could hear metal banging against one another, and... Swords. That's what they were called. Her and Hop had watched that film that was full of them.

Her friends. If something had taken them, if someone had hurt them... A dark, determined look came over Eleven. She couldn't lose anyone else. Not after Hop. No, not Hop. Dad. Papa had never been a real father to her, she knew that now. Jaw set, she focused on the road up ahead, and prepared herself to take down whatever stood in her way.

She'd only just made into great hall when someone came into view. The woman was young -- older than El but still young, and lugging around a large weapon Eleven had never seen before. She was calling Eleven's name, looking happy and relieved. El stared back at her, her eyes large and confused.

"You know me?" She asked, trying to understand.

 

Wanda Maximoff

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El's complete lack of recognition bounced off Wanda like it was something to be expected. More importantly, what was she doing there?

It was at that point that she finally gave up on the ceremonial axe, letting it slide from her grasp and clatter to the ground with a thud. "It'll be easier to talk inside," she explained, trying for a small smile as she pointed her thumb up and over her shoulder to the Grand Hall behind her.

Injury and death were essentially frivolous in Valhalla, but Wanda had no intentions of partaking (and reliving, again) in that unpleasant experience. And El was much too young for any of this. Heaving a sigh, she turned back to face the towering, fortress-like structure, with a sweep of her hand casting a quick shield around them in time for a wild volley of arrows to glance right off the barrier.

Without the stupid battleaxe dragging her back, it was an easy shuffle back indoors, echoes of revelry, of drinking and dining in the monumental open halls ahead.

"My name is Wanda," she introduced herself, her brows already creased with concern. "You wouldn't remember, but the last time you and Mr. Hopper were here, I promised him that I'd keep an eye on you in case anything happened."

She lowered herself down onto one of the chairs overlooking the burning hearth, far enough away from the noise of eternally inebriated vikings on one end… and the clamor of eternally warring vikings just outside. "Except… this is technically the afterlife." An afterlife. Her eyes searched for the young girl's, a frown touching her lips. "What's the last thing you remember before arriving here?"
 
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Eleven

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The woman let the weapon fall from her hands, making El jump. It landed on the floor with a deafening clang. She seemed nice but Eleven hesitated, wondering whether to trust her. Lots of people seemed nice until they weren't. She wasn't sure what to think. Still, she didn't have a lot of options and right now, she had no idea where she was and for some reason, this girl seemed to know her.

El said nothing but finally, she nodded. As they walked toward the great hall, Eleven stared around at their surroundings with wide eyes. What was this place? She glanced back at the weapon now abandoned on the floor, wondering what the girl had needed it for.

The sound of Hopper's name caused Eleven to snap her head back so fast, it hurt. Her brown eyes, already wide, grew even larger, and she suddenly felt her heart pumping hard against her chest. "You know Hop?" She asked. It was almost impossible to believe. "You lie. How?" She added, with a bit more accusatory to her tone now. Was this a trick?

Eleven watched Wanda sit down, her face set. Hopper had always taught her to be on guard. She was more than capable of protecting herself, they'd both known that, but she wasn't invincible. Far from it. And Hopper had always been more than a little protective. How was it possible that he'd come here and not told her? Was it another secret he'd kept from her?

"After... Life," Eleven repeated slowly, trying to understand the phrase. She looked at Wanda, hoping for some explanation. "I was saying goodbye. To Mike." El had no idea if Wanda would know who Mike was, but if she'd known Hopper, she might know Mike too.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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As usual, the accusational edge lining Eleven's voice didn't even phase her. Of course she'd be incredulous. And the fact that they were currently stranded within a pocket dimension within a pocket dimension muddled it all up even worse. Wanda had gotten well accustomed to explaining Pandora, but how was she supposed to explain Valhalla?

She laced her fingers together over her lap, if not just to keep her head from falling into her palms. Her eyes drifted up to the ceiling to fix it with a distant glower; if there was a greater consciousness, some higher power that dictated for El to land here of all places, she would curse it silently. Nothing about this felt good or right or halfway to sensible, but... she would work with this.

In that moment, there was nothing more important than making it clear to El that she didn't have to suffer whatever was going on alone.

When she turned her gaze back to the young girl, she made a point of softening it considerably. "You both showed up in Pandora a few times before. Mike too," she distantly recalled the boy crushing hard on her, all the way back in Misty Hollow, "but that was... years ago." Inwardly she bit down against another curse to herself for running her mouth about the afterlife from the get-go. That just... wildly complicated things, but nevertheless she persisted. "And Pandora is a place that sort of grabs people from different times, different worlds, and leaves them here for a while."

She gestured her hands around them. "All of this is still inside Pandora, except only a small part of it. I woke up stuck here after I got stabbed to death," she added with a thin, gallow's humor smile, "hence calling it afterlife. Formally, it's called Valhalla."

Her shoulders sagged as her features twisted into a grimace. "I know, it's... a lot and wild and totally unbelievable. I'm still figuring out the Valhalla part myself."
 
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Eleven

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Eleven watched Wanda suspiciously. She was staring at the sky, as though interacting with someone Eleven couldn't see. When at last Wanda spoke, her words were soft and full of understanding, but El could tell she was choosing them very carefully. "Mike," El repeated, suddenly feeling her heart jump at the sound of his name. Wanda knew Mike. She knew Hop. Very slowly, she was easing El's misgivings.

Pandora. El looked around, suddenly feeling very sad. This was the last place El would've wanted either of them. It wasn't the prettiest of worlds, though it did hold a certain charm, and it was nowhere near as bad as the upside down. But it was the fighting and the heavy weapons that worried El most. Hop could've handled himself, but Mike? He could've got hurt, or worse. But like Wanda had said, that'd been years ago and they weren't hear anymore.

Wanda explained further and El realised there was a lot more to Pandora than just this place. This was Valhalla. That eased Eleven's mind slightly at least; hopefully neither Hop or Mike had ever come here.

Unlike the upside down, Pandora changed time as well as space. El's head began to hurt and she furrowed her brow. It was all so confusing. "Is there a way out?" She asked, wondering if that's what had happened to Mike and Hopper. "Why... Why didn't Mike say anything?" She wasn't sure if Wanda would understand. "Back home. He never mentioned Pandora. Is it in his future?" But that didn't make any sense. It couldn't be in Hop's future because... Because he wasn't around anymore. He was gone.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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The mostly intoxicated chatter and noisy revelry from deeper within the hall tested her concentration, but she managed to wash them out and sustain her veneer of calm, reassuring focus.

"When people come back from Pandora, to where they were before, right where they were before, they don't seem to remember anything. They carry on with their lives, just like that." Sometimes people came and went and came back again to remember all their lives spent in this strange, boxed world in the times before. But that added an extra layer of complexity Wanda felt could be filed away for later.

"Everyone gets... taken back eventually," or maybe when they die, and return home through that death; it was all very nebulous and difficult to quantify, as much as Wanda would try, "that's basically the way out. Until then, I guess it'll be easier if you try to imagine everyone back home basically being frozen in time until you're able to get back to them."

Thinking back to Mike and Hopper, all those years ago, she canted her head to one side. "You still might find one or a few of your friends here again, if not from different times."

It'd still be easier to grapple around if this place wasn't, well, Valhalla. "We should be able to see more of this place soon. Apparently even the afterlife's letting people come and go these days," she added with a note of wryness.
 
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Justin McCay VERSUS Luke Skywalker:
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