Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by Hound55
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Hound55 Create-A-Hero RPG GM, Blue Bringer of BWAHAHA!

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“—and as you can see, Michael, the devastation here in Paris is immense. Great shards of rock have battered buildings, destroyed infrastructure and caused fires in scattered regions of the City of Light. But it’s hard not to feel some level of relief, as less than 20 kilometres away, the city of Versailles, birthplace of so many landmark treaties in the world’s history and a beacon of peace, lies in total ruin at the hands of thus far unknown invaders—”

“—even from here in Hong Kong, we can see the billowing plumes of smoke rising from the horizon, where once stood China’s “Silicon Valley”, Shenzhen, once a monument to both China’s technological ingenuity and also, perhaps, their finest beacon to their ability to undertake rapid economic growth now lies in ruin. What was once the home to more skyscrapers over 200 metres tall than any other city on Earth, now rests in a crater less than 30 kilometres away. Attempts to get a comment from Chinese officials—”


“—the East coast of Terraria overcome by flooding as a meteoroid which struck the Pacific, led to a tsunami wave that battered the capital of Georgetown. Prime Minister David Byrne shared condolences for the lost, swore to rebuild, and pledged his Nation’s support to a growing global collaborative effort against the invading—”

“—Okinawa has been lost. First cratered, before it fell, reclaimed by surf, much like the ancient mythical Atlantis. But unlike in myth, the loss of life is palpable. The Governor of the Okinawa Prefecture, away from Naha on Government business, so far still unavailable for com—”


“—much of the Western Coast of Mainland U.S.A hammered by waves, and seismic activity related to the actions of these alien invaders. So far there have been no reports as to what they want, but with no efforts made for diplomatic contact it remains hard not to fear the worst—”

“—widespread property damage, and the ensuing panic—”


“—death toll—”


“—flaming debris—”


“—widespread wholesale slaughter—”


“—raining down flaming stone from above—”


“—chaos—”


“—pandemonium—”








A hand slaps at an alarm clock. A man who burns multiple candles at both ends wakes up yawning. He scratches himself and gets out of the bed that he barely staggered into the night before. He swings open the thick curtains, revealing the bright sky of a late afternoon.

That's me. The charming fella with the bedhead who's—— yeah, we'll wait for me to stop scratching myself...

...

...

...

You know what... we can't wait that long. I'm heading for the bathroom there now anyway.

"Aww shit... ahhhhhhh..."

It's not what you think. I'm just looking at the mess that greets me in the morning. And that was just seeing how furry my tongue was. I'm pretty sure I'm less than impressed... I generally am by this part of the morning.

Liquid can be heard pouring into water, a sigh of relief comes from the ensuite bathroom.

And yes... that's exactly what you think is happening now. I'm not doing this to sugarcoat anything. You're still getting the straight, down-the-line truth here. I just want to put some things into proper perspective.

A tap briefly runs, a few seconds later it stops and the man staggers out.

After all... This is when I'm about to find out the world is about to end.

After a haphazard attempt at making the bed he staggers out to the living room.

...Again...

The man walks out to the laundry and picks up a garbage bag. He starts picking up the score of beercans which lay scattered around the recliner in front of the television. He stuffs bread in the toaster and returns to the living room where he picks up the remote. He presses buttons, then slaps the side of the remote in frustration, before pushing one firmer as he aims it directly at the TV's red light.

See, I know we don't talk much. That's not really my way. I'm more a show, rather than tell kind of guy. You know me. The Vigilante. Didn't call myself that. I let others name me, then I just took it and ran. These things spread faster when you let them develop organically, I find. And I want this to spread. I want them to know. I want the people who should be scared of me, to have the time to get good and scared of me.

The red light goes out, signifying that the TV is off of standby and now just 'warming up'. The man walks to the kitchen and gets a plate ready.

But that doesn't need to be our relationship, does it? I mean, we barely have any relationship at all. So let's at least make a token effort at changing that now. It might help make sense of what's to come. So 'Hi. It's me. Izaa-- you know what, you know my name by now, and if you don't I probably don't want to give it to you.'

The television comes on and the footage is playing a BBC reporter covering some European city in utter turmoil. The man pays a few seconds attention, trying to ascertain where exactly he's looking at, and immediately recognizes Brandenburg in Germany from his travels. Several buildings are aflame and bystanders running in scattered directions. The man furrows his brow and opens the utensil drawer in preparation for his food. Flaming debris flowed down the Havel.

Here's something you might not know about me... I don't really believe in God. I was certainly raised to, though. Sorry Mum. Sorry Dad.

The man pops a coffee pod in a machine and places a cup underneath before pulling a lever down to start it. The television starts to capture more of the man's attention.

Well, that might not be the best way of putting it. 'Believe'.

His focus is complete, he starts to recognize that this might be the thing he's been anticipating. The television cuts to another city and a giant column of smoke.

'Believe' kind of suggests I don't think he (or she... or it, I guess...) even exists. But I have seen some crazy shit. Hell, some might even say I AM an example of some crazy shit.

He goes back to the remote and turns the volume on the television up.

I mean, just as the fact that I'm the exception to the rule and am impervious to the effects of magic, kind of in a weird way stands as evidence OF magic. The notion that it occurred BECAUSE I now have no destiny kind of stands in evidence that there is a grand plan. A destiny. God's will.

And there they are. Spaceships descending from the mothership. The man now moves with greater urgency. He runs to the bedroom to get changed — who knows when he'll have access to a clean change of clothes next?

But here’s the thing – once you’ve seen off the threat of a little girl with the power of a god, and sent her to bed without supper or Spongebob… that kind of affects your perspective on these things. So it's less "don't believe" and more "don't care".

The man rushes back now fully dressed, complete with black balaklava mask, downs the brewed coffee in a single gulp and snatches up the toast from the toaster as it pops.

If God wishes to take issue with that, there’s been ample opportunities to step forward and make a list of demands… preferably stepping in to save the world at the time so I wouldn’t have had to. That would have been nice. That’s the thing. Just because you create a thing, doesn’t mean you have to care about it. Case in evidence, that tank of sea monkeys I had when I was twelve.

The man carries massive sacks of sugar through the house towards his bedroom. Time and alien invasions wait for no man.

And that’s of course assuming I was created in the first place - an individual sea monkey. Hard to care so much when you don’t have stakes in creating each individual, isn’t it? After all, science would point that rather than being created, I’m the result of about six million years’ worth of evolution, or 4 billion years of it depending where you draw the starting line… microbes which found themselves hurtling through space on a lucky rock, procreating and mutating until we got to the present day.

The man walks through a closet and disappears in a flash. Reappearing on the other side of the world, in a different coloured closet. The man curses as it appears he didn’t wind up exactly where he hoped to be.

The product of random chance, self-evident of prior reproduction purely by its own existence.

The man snatches up a set of keys off the kitchen bench and drives to his preferred destination. Another house he has in Little Ulster, where he has equipment meant for this specific day. He throws the car about on deserted streets with reckless abandon, he swerves around abandoned cars and fallen concrete with little more than a grunt or glare.

But maybe that’s all wrong. Maybe I’m being overly cynical with the scientific take.

He starts to lean on the horn, both to clear space and also to distract. There’s a ground force of invaders spread out in places on the streets. He’d hit them with his car if he thought he could do it without being slowed down. They’re more solid than they look, he remembers. Strong, to a man. He accelerates as he senses he’s getting closer to his destination. He glances in the back seat and checks his grapple gun and a backpack are there, slid under the passenger seat.

For if I’m not merely the product of evolution and just another man, what am I?

He swerves into the driveway with little concern for onlookers. He’s burnt this place, he accepts it as fact, he’ll find another place in the area after resolving this… irritation. He runs inside the house and returns several seconds later with some kind of metallic devices over each hand. And a mat looped over his arm.

He jumps back in the car and throws the devices in the back. He checks the time and throws the car into gear. He just remembers he has another place to be. All of this chaos, and he seems to almost be going through a chore list.

Driving to a main road he pulls up fast, laying down a stretch of black rubber as he tries not to overshoot his destination. He quickly jumps out of the car and pulls his grapple gun out of the back seat. Looking around he finds another abandoned car and throws an elbow through the driver’s side window, before unlocking the car door and swinging it open.


I’ll tell you what I am…

He breathes deeply and waits as a smaller ship soars past overhead, before starting an audible count and aiming his grapple gun to the heavens.

He pulls the trigger and the hook sails. Just like before. A smaller ship gets entangled just as before. The line spools out rapidly.

The Vigilante throws the grapple gun in the abandoned car and slams the car door over the line. Just as before.

Instead of throwing himself clear of the vehicle, he knows just how much time he has on this occasion. He calmly paces back to his car and retrieves the metal gauntlets from the back seat.

The line on the grapple gun has reached its limit and it quickly snaps taut. The solid unexpected weight of the car drags the small single man craft out of the sky as it slams down to the surface of the world. Just as the man has seen happen before.

An alien invader staggers out of the smoking ruin which was once his own craft. He looks around for the culprit, but he seems to have fled his wrath.

Then he sees him. He hadn’t wanted to escape. He sought a more dramatic appearance. The man jumped down from a building top and landed with a heavy fist creating a smouldering crater in the street below.


I am the Vigilante. I am violence given human form.

And as the smoke clears, the alien can see the gleam of white teeth through a black balaklava. The human is SMILING at him. Leering.

And if I WAS created, I was created for this...
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Kai su teknon;

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Christopher Arthur III

Lost Haven, ME

“This is Terra Firma, do we have a plan?” Iron Knight heard the hero speak over his communication card.

“I’m still working on that,” Chris answered as he hovered over Lost Haven skyline. Directly above him was the alien mothership, threatening to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth. “Let’s start with not dying.”

The first alien vessels to reach Lost Haven proper were small, sleek fighters. They zipped around the Lost Haven airwaves, like a swarm of ravenous flying insects. The attack on Lost Haven was swift and unforgiving. Whether the aliens’ well-placed energy weapons were meant to cause mass casualties or just confusion, whatever their plan was, it was working.

Several of these vessels flew overhead as Iron Knight continued to evaluate the situation. One of these alien fighters broke off from its formation and doubled back. It fired off a green-white energy blast at one of the nearby buildings. Large chunks of rubble began to fall from the impact site, which threatened some civilians caught in the crosshairs.

Iron Knight immediately rushed into action. He swooped down and positioned himself in between the rubble and the people below. Although he could not deal with the smaller fragments, Chris did manage to catch the largest piece and slow its descent, allowing the civilians ample time to escape from the rocky deathtrap. When the civilians had finally escaped and Chris had landed safely on the ground, he tossed the slab of mortar to the side.

Warning: incoming energy blast of dangerous levels Chris’ in-suit AI warned him of the attack that had a similar energy reading as the alien fighters were using. He immediately activated his armor’s protective energy shields to resist the attack. Despite being incased in the protective bubble, Chris could feel the power of the blast, as he even was pushed back a few feet.

“Guardians, we have troop carriers landing all over the city, we have to try and contain them before they can cause too much damage.” Icon relayed to the rest of the Guardians.

“Yeh, I’ve met the welcoming committee.” Chris answered back as he looked to find his assailants. He discovered three human shaped Arlaaekans wearing some sort of advanced power suits. Each of them had their weapons locked on to Chris.

“Alright, which one of you Syfy rejects shot at me? Now, don’t speak up all at once.”

The three Arlaaekans traded confused glances after they heard what Chris had said.

“Oh, come on! You guys don’t have a universal translator? Even those demons from a few months ago knew how to speak English!”

At that very moment, one of the bulky troop transports slowly descended to the street. Once it had landed, a vertical door swung upon, like a drawbridge slamming down, and several Arlaaekan soldiers, equipped and armored in the same fashion as the three Chris had seen prior to the transport ship’s arrival.

“Guys, we might wanna group up to hold back these aliens.”
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Klumsykrow357
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Muerte sped through the streets, swerving between abandoned cars and debris from the skyscrapers above. He noticed one of the cruisers departing formation and descending towards the city. Landing party. He angled himself to intercept and increased his speed, rearing up a little with the rev. He rounded a corner just in time to see the craft firing their landing thrusters. He skidded to a halt, took a breath, and took in the scene before him.

First, distance: approximately 200ft. Time: 30 seconds until landed and deployed. Casualties: no civilians in area. Personal threat level: high; at least 40 per ship, likely use energy based weapons, unknown technological/biological advantage. Reinforcements: no other ships in area. Assistance...one meta currently engaged with armored opponents. Analysis: element of surprise most effective tactic, take out as many as possible before they can react. Scene will likely draw assistance from other meta. 15 seconds remaining.

Muerte quickly hopped off his bike to find the largest and sturdiest of the abandoned vehicles. As he thought, it still had keys in the ignition. He started the engine, put it in gear, and reversed down the street until he was the right distance away. He waited until the door had thudded onto the asphalt before slamming on the gas pedal and began speeding toward the open hatch. He gripped the steering wheel tightly, bracing for the impact. He had the satisfaction of seeing the first line of them freeze in their tracks at the sight of the speeding vehicle which hit them a split second later.

There was a cacophony of crashing and crunching, sending all but a few of the armored units scattering like bowling ball pins. Muerte was thrown through the windshield and slammed into one of the aliens that had gotten pinned by the front of the car. Pain and energy exploded through him but it was a shock he recovered quickly from; this wasn't his first car wreck after all. He rolled off of the hood and channeled some of the wreck's energy into a right hook to the nearest alien's helmet. It dented in with a combined metal screech and squelch of flesh. So they can be hurt...perfect. An nearby trooper attempted to strike him with the butt of its rifle and another aimed a kick at him. They aren't firing inside the ship. Their weapons must work on their tech. Noted. The hits landed, renewing the energy store he had. He smirked under his mask and proceeded to spend the rest of the absorbed energy taking out any of them that attempted to stand up around him. Soon though the aliens realized that engaging close quarters with this earthlings was a bad idea. They regrouped and began opening fire, forcing him to duck for cover. On the way down, one of the shots clipped his shoulder, obliterating the cloth and singing his shoulder easily. He hissed in pain,and reached over to grab one of the downed soldiers weapons. He stuck it up over the car and fired wildly in their general direction. He heard a few hits land and a temporary lull in their blasts. He popped up and waited until they did too and fired a series of rapid shots to take the rest out.

In the sudden silence that followed Muerte dropped his arms, painting heavily. He could feel his shoulder tingling as the flesh attempted repair itself. That wouldn't be fun to sleep on; assuming he'd get to sleep any time soon. A little slower than normal, he picked up a few more of the energy weapons and trudged his way outside. He looked up into the sky to check on the other meta he'd seen in the air, hoping he'd gotten their attention.
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Mercinus3
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Somewhere in Lost Haven…


It didn’t take long for the men to enter the building. Most of the subjects for Project Apex Warrior was taken, though only one of them remained that was on the itinerary. The only thing the engineers were to do was to safely dismantle the pod from the system and then dismantle the core components of the system that would be stored for transport. The last thing that was needed was for some stray hero to see what they were to do, so the need for the dozen armed soldiers was required.

As they passed through the building to higher levels, the sounds of grinding and skittering stones got the men on edge. When there were some sounds coming from the vents above them, they disregarded it as the sounds of the building, though were still on high alert on the happenstance of a hero entering the building.

With the route being well-remembered now, it didn’t take long for them to enter the room where the last subject was located. When they saw that the pod was open, its occupant absent from within, everyone was on high alert.

“Fan out,” the group leader barked, “Subject has escaped containment. Aim to incapacitate, though don’t hesitate to neutralize if it’s the only option.”

The soldiers began to fan out through the corridors and the room, trying to locate the last subject or any clues as to the possible route it would have taken. The engineers, while there was nothing to do about the subject, began working on dismantling the pod and the system with a sense of urgency.

@Sade Kingfisher
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Hidden 8 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Perse
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Perse

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The forest around her rang out with the noise of destruction. It took her a moment to take in all the loss that the meteor had caused.
"Heh they should be paying me for looking after their place like this," She joked to herself as she proudly looked back at the perfectly safe chalet. It was only then when she looked back up at the sky did she see what seemed looked like an army of aircraft.

"Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me. Those can't be what I think they are," Louisa mumbled under her breath. Getting up from the pool chair, she started to think about what would be the best way to get the hell out of dodge. Looking up at the sky, shielding her eyes with her hand she not only saw what looked like some fast little fuckers but some big ones which she bet would have some kind of manned force on them. That of course if if aliens had manned force, part of her reminded herself, I mean what would they even look like. Would they be some kind of weird blob monsters or where they just all air and colours or maybe even fluffy rabbit lik-

A loud crying sound snapped her out of her thought process. There was no denying to herself that sound. She had heard it way too often for her to pretend that she didn't know what it was. Clicking her tongue in annoyance, she started to run towards the sound of the crying child.

After a few seconds of running, the neighbours house was in view along with the enclosing alien ship. Not letting herself to find out exactly what these creatures looked like she quickly spilled out a spell,
"Let's take this stupid big ship
and make sure it looses its grip
Let it crash into the ground
where no one else is around."


The larger craft that was coming ever closer was enveloped in a lime green light. It quickly took a sudden violent turn and ran itself right off the beautiful cliff view and down to ocean below. Smiling with a sigh of relief, Louisa steadied herself by putting her hands on her knees. Looking at the neighbours house she saw a woman with a small infant in her arms staring out at her from a large bay window. Well they're ok at least... she told herself, but when she stood back up she could now start to get a proper sight of the city.

Even if it was quite a while away it wasn't hard to see the kind of situation that the city was in. There was fire and destruction every where she looked and each time she saw the wreckage there along with it where those sudden attackers. All around the sites there were zipping bee like ships and stupid large squared spacecrafts and the more that she looked the more that they were starting to really annoy her.

"This doesn't look like a fair fight at all
So let me be there where to join the brawl
Take me to the inner city
where it's not so pretty."


Her arms raised over her head and making a large circular motion around her, she enveloped in her same lime green light then a second later she was gone.

Popping into existence once again, she landed gracefully onto a street in the middle of Lost Haven's CBD area. All around her there was smoke and screams, no matter where she looked there was damage and human life in danger. The sounds and sights and the smell reaching into her nostril and her lungs all created it so the chaos started to catch up to her. Her eyes try to shut out everything around her as she clenched up her fists. Than knowing she had to fight what was ahead of her, her eyes sprung open she looked at the first advisories in front of her and screamed a less than elegant spell, "Everything is awry, so make the enemy die."

A bright lime green shot out of her pointing hands towards the aliens that had just started to walk out of a carrier craft, and the first in the line fell before they could even comprehend what was happening.
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Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by Alternax
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“Let’s start with not dying.” An electronic voice answered as David hovered over an evacuating crowd.

I can work with that

David nodded and scanned the skies. He had to help with the offensive, while making it to Icon and the others. With that in mind he flew up several dozen meters and his gaze locked onto the nearest alien jet. The central body was curved like a bird's beak, the wings on the side angled downwards with a small cylindrical object at the tips. A few of them blew right over him. It seems he was beneath their notice at his size, so he took advantage of that.

His hands crumpled into fists and he bent his arm inwards, energy swirled around him, his very image wavered as the heat around him rose to several hundred degrees. Something he hadn't quite gotten control over, he had yet to actually need precise control over fire, as it had only been used on someone who could take it. Another element of his powers that he couldn't fully grasp, his 'feeling' of temperature. While he could tell he was getting 'hotter', it didn't burn, however, he could tell it was something that would have melted 'David Jones' alive. A problem for another day.

David threw his arms outwards, the spiraling red-hot energy around him gathered to his arms, then shot off into the air wildly towards the alien jets. It was his goal to go high and aim high, to prevent the injury of innocents, while maximizing his chances to hit fast airborne targets. But the results were... poor, another thing he would have to work at.

His dozens of fire blasts shot off into the bright blue sky, with only a couple scoring glancing shots. The jets he did hit had the edge of their wings vaporized or some rear mechanical part burned away. A bright yellow shimmer could be seen over the ones he hit momentarily.

Some sort of barrier maybe?

With that level of damage, it's no wonder they continued to ignore him, and instead gunned after a group of runners.

"Don't even think about it!"

David shouted and flew as fast as he could, putting himself in the path of the fighters. Then braced himself, holding his arms in front of his body, as the energy bolts pelted him.

"Hah, attacks like that won't work on me!" David shouted, he had some doubts about himself at the beginning of the day, but he had no choice but to push through. He glanced back, and he could see the group continuing to run as they met up with a policeman.

Good, go!

Before he could counter attack, a larger, bulkier craft descended near him. The whole thing reminded him of a jellyfish with its odd curvatures and sloped design. What he assumed to be a gun of some kind opened up from the side and launched large, bright purple, bolts at him. David braced himself again, only for those same rounds to blow up on him in a blinding explosion, blasting him all the way back down.

"Gah!" He let out as his body was sent whistling through the air, and crash landed a moment later into an empty street.

“Guardians, we have troop carriers landing all over the city, we have to try and contain them before they can cause too much damage.” Icon relayed to the rest of the Guardians.

"This is starting to feel like a war... Well.."

David looked up to see the 'carrier' landing nearby, likely so the troops can finish him off. But that is not how it will end. David stood up tall and threw an arm out and then brought it back in, causing the cement under the ship to suddenly jerk towards him. David then positioned his arms outwards vertically, his hands curved as if holding a ball, and he inverted his hands.

"If it's a war you want, I'll give you all the war you can handle!"

The dropship doors never got to open all the way. Several earthen pillars shot up and wrapped around the ship, flipping it upside down, and then swallowed it into the ground. The ramp at the back only allowed the faintest ray of sunlight in, before being forcefully shunted into the ground. Only the bottom of the bulbous ship could be seen, just a few inches above ground level.
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Mercinus3
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In

A Man Out of Time #10: The Battle Begins

Location: Pacific Point, California



Strained as he was, The Wanderer held on as the barrier kept the waters out from Pacific Point. Though he knew that there was devastation to the area surrounding the city, the deluge and the rapid speed of the potential debris would have caused more damage than the uprooted trees and the sludge of silt. As the front of the wave reached further inland, the strain put on his mind eased as the water levels dropped. Even so, there was still the long time between the initial crash of the wave and the inevitable riptide to cause further damage to stop him from moving from the spot.

As he opened his eyes, the psionic waves of an entity beyond the coast towards the ocean was visible to him. He watched as the energy, familiar in its resonance, was dragged along with the current. Deep down, his heart sank as he saw the energy from Voyager began to falter. Yet despite all his powers, everything he was capable in doing, he was helpless in trying to safe the first hero that had helped him grab an understanding of the world around him in this timeline. There were still so many people that were vulnerable to the waters that still rushed inland that he can’t stop what he was doing and save her. He let out a pained sigh.

”I’m sorry, Voyager, he muttered, his voice ragged from the mental exertion. “I’m in a bit of a tight spot to come get you out. Try and hold on.”

When the waters had receded low enough, the full dome began to fizzle away. The mutant had figured that the large dome was no longer needed and that his mental energy could be used elsewhere. Despite that, a circular wall around the city remained to prevent water from damaging the inside of the city. As the barrier lowered itself, The Wanderer felt that there was a presence scanning the area of the city. And judging from the feeling, it was looking out for him. Scanning the area around him, it didn’t take long before he saw a figure high above the city. With someone capable of flight nearby, he thought it would be the perfect opportunity to ask for help in getting the people in the city to fight higher ground.

It was then, before he could shout up to the figure, that he saw it.

From the clouds above, a monolithic object pierced through the clouds. He could only stand there in shock, trying to figure out what the hell he was looking at. There was nothing in the books he read at the library that gave him an idea as to what it was. It didn’t take long from its appearance for smaller objects to fly from it as they seem to be flying towards the city. It took a while before he concluded that the city was under attack as green energy shot away from the smaller objects. As he watched as the unknown assailants began to attack, his heart sank as he felt useless with the barrier still surrounding the city.

He knew he had a difficult choice to make.

Letting out a defeated sigh, one of his hands came back to his body. The connection to the barrier facing the ocean fizzled out as the encroaching water began to wash through the beachfront of Pacific Point. Up to half of the circle that formed the barrier remained, however, with his other hand keeping the barrier facing the mountains in the distance up. With a free hand and a further reduced strain on his mind, The Wanderer knew what to do next.

The blue and purple flames of psionic energy began to whip up in intensity as he aimed his free hand at the converging ships. Much like the flames, a ball of blue and purple energy swelled in his hand. In his eye, the energy grew white hot that he had to close it to not be blinded by it. He allowed it to charge up as he gathered the psionic energy from the surrounding area.

Then, he fired. A gigantic beam of energy surged from his hand. It sped to the ships at lightning speeds. Those that survived the crash of lightning moments earlier were disintegrated as the beam punched through the group. Several explosions ripped through the air from destroyed ships. When the beam faded away, clouds of black smoke lingered as debris fell into the ocean.

Without hesitation, he turned to the figure in the sky. ”We’re under attack!” he yelled out towards them. ”Help me fight them off!”

@VATROU@Dezuel@KaiserElectric
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Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Dezuel
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Dezuel Broke out of limbo

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Verge


The man with all the time in the world.

Location: Pacific Point (Los Angeles), California.

It was with a mixture of disgust, irritation and oddly enough also intrigue that had his two eyes gaze down at the city below, searching for what had caused the massive and most impressive barrier. Whatever it was, it could pose a threat to his future plans of liberating the earth. Then the barrier gave in, or at least a part of it, or had someone simply lowered it partly? The young man hovered down closer towards the streets below, down there stood a figure which could very well had been the creator of that barrier. His next move was cut short however by a sound from above, the young man's attention fell upon the sky. Verge's eyes widened to what he saw. A large construct in the sky, no a spaceship of some kind.

'What that? It couldn't be? Aliens? So you do exist after all?' He blinked his eyes, as if trying to make sure that what he saw was truly as it seemed. The young man braced himself, thinking of his next choice of action. Below were a city filled with disgusting human beings who deserved nothing more than to be destroyed, but up in the sky was a seemingly invasive species. An external, no an extraterrestial threat to not only humankind, but to the very earth and those like him. There was no way he was going to let these things colonize, perverse or destroy the earth, it was likely them who caused the massive wave of water. He had been given the gift, and this was a sign from the higher powers that it was time to begin to work. His first ever sentient kill would be of a creature from a different world. The large construct became more and more revealed, it's massive size casting a dark shadow on the nearby area. Then out from it came a swarm of smaller ships, they were like ants spawning out of an anthill ready to defend their queen. Or maybe more akin to a beehive? Very big, angry and armored bees which were able to shoot some form of energy to boot.

The figure on the ground had noticed them aswell and decided to attack them, as a gigantic beam of energy travelled across the sky from his direction, cutting through a large number of the approaching smaller ships. Soon after he heard the voice from below, like a clarion call. Urging him to help them. Help the humans? Fighting these aliens? It was like fighting for one minor evil to deal with a major one, but it didn't sit overly well with the young man. As both ought to be destroyed. Perhaps he could utilitze the size of that mothership to have it crash right down into the city? It would be worth a try.

'Such immense power that one has, I must inspect it later, it may prove useful... but for now wretched invaders first.' He thought to himself. "Fight them off? I am going to exterminate them!" He gave the figure below a slight nod before quickly dashing up into the air. Verge found himself gathering his powers in on himself, using his powers of earth and geokinesis to create hovering shimmering crystals the size of handballs, several hundreds of them into the air around him, hovering in the air before he finally motioned them all towards the remaining smaller ships and the mothership in the distance beyond, shooting them in a large field with just a few metres apart from oneanother. Just after having flung them forth, the young man gathered his focus and remembered his training, a large number of orbs of sheer light would begin to pop up around him, like will'o' wisps before they darted off in different attack patterns forth towards the crystal field and the incoming invaders.

'Smash them all to dust! Go!' The orbs shot themselves into the various crystals they connected with further ahead, due to the orbs higher speed they caught up with ease, what soon followed were a massive display of glimmering light across the sky as the orbs turned into beams from colliding with the crystals which acted like prisms, bouncing from one crystal and to the next and all around into the air. The incoming ships did evasive manuevers to evade the incoming barrage of light that now was filling up the sky as a large net of lasers. As the beams collided with the ships, some took a few hits before tumbling down towards the earth, others were split in two, and some even crashed into the crystals which caused the crystal to bounce off against their armor into a new beam of light.

"Only gods are allowed to tread the high heavens! Die you disgusting abominations of space!" Verge yelled aloud as he dashed forwards in the air, his wings clearly visible more now as he was using his powers, he was now intending on going headfirst into the remaining ships or possibly even his own field of shimmering beams of light.

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Hidden 8 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Moondog
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Moondog

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The Thousandfold Conspiracy #1


Lost Haven, Warehouse, Now


Lo sat at a wooden table under the glow of stage lights in a barely lit warehouse. Her fingers danced across the keys of the kind of sturdy, blocky, fall and water resistant laptop usually reserved for construction workers. Several tabs were open in the Symphonic web browser. Area-51, First contact (anthropology), What would happen if a meteor hit Earth?. The final tabs title was constantly changing as Lo studied, analyzed, and locked way the information present on each page.

Lo shrunk the window, opened another on the taskbar labelled "Drone surveilance". An image, taken from a nearby rooftop, took in the figure of of a man, no, more than a man, Icon, silhouetted by the nimbus of flame surrounding the massive asteroid set to impact earth in free fall. Lo bit at a nail in anticipation. What she had heard about meteors of that size impacting Earth on youtube was not very good.

Her interest and terror only increased as Icon began to push the asteroid away from Earth like it weighed as much as a basketball. She leaned back in her swivel chair, sighing with intense relief, "Not today, King Yan."

She returned to her tea kettle, which had brewing a bracing Oolong tea, and poured some for herself in a fair cup. Sitting back in her chair, she said, "Ok...so, first contact. Well, except for who was it? Voyager." She opened and looked at a picture of Voyager, taken by the local news when she was fighting...videogame characters she thought with incredulity, staring eyes narrowed at the screen. Though because Voyager wasn't, supposedly, a representation of an alien nation, she couldn't really count her as a first contact. Regardless, she was going to be the first of many on a database Lo was compiling, which was called "Possible alien spys".

Taking a sip of tea, she diverted her attention back to the drone feed and to her dismay, realized the small blips she had detected on her drone network as balloons actually turned out to be a mass of small, alien ships. Maybe King Yan would take her soul today anyway.

She said, "Open communications, Little Lo." A icon flashed on her screen, and a video feed. Little Lo was staring upwards, from a fire escape she was climbing on spindly, metal legs. Occasionally, a alien vessel would zoom by and her movements would stop to maintain a still image of their passing.

Lo said, "Little Lo, organize the other drones. I want as much information about these invaders as you can acquire. If any of these vessels crash, slice off a piece of the ship, find what constitutes their electronics, take metal. I'll finish up the transportation prototypes. Something tells me that alien metals and knowledge will soon become a very valuable commodity."

Little Lo chirped back, in a slightly distorted version of Lo's voice, "I think I can manage that Little Sister. Do you want us to keep low?"

Lo said in a tone dripping with sarcasm, "You know, I'd love for you to make first contact with the local capes right now, but I think dealing with this first contact is enough problems for today. I'll be watching the fighting to see if humanity fights off the alien invasion or we get into some kind of, Battlefield Earth situation."

Little Lo chuckled, then played back a brassy recording of a song, "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when!" and almost as quickly, the connection closed.

---

Lost Haven Little Lo, Rooftops, Now


Little Lo clambered onto a AC unit on top of a boarding house. It scanned the skies for the trajectories of the various crashing alien ships, sent crashing earth side by Icon, by Terra Firma, by various other heroes she couldn't identify. She contacted drones 3, 5, and 7, with the order to secure and attempt a partial disassemble of the wreckage of a crashed "bird fighter" as she was classifying them. Drones 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 were to be sent to what looked like a massive carrier.

The first drone contingent spread out, carefully using the fact most civilians were looking upwards, towards the battle in the sky, their metal legs making the barest pin prick sound. The transport drones from Lo's main warehouse began to spread out, much less subtlely, their metal bulks looking like big metal boxes, their only function to drive to locations and transport materials to and fro. A few of these transports stopped so that several spider drones could cling onto them, and these sped towards the massive carrier ship whos bottom was the only part not buried underground from Terra Firma's attack.

At the site of the first crashed fighter, several drones arrived, and with small cutting lasers, begin to burn at the metal of the vessel. It took some time, more time than Little Lo thought it would take, but eventually pieces of metal were chipped away and they came closer to reaching the interior. Through a crack in the metal, caused by impact, one of the drones processed the image of a unconscious alien inside.

---

Lost Haven, Warehouse, Now


Lo stared at the image of a being that had crossed the stars with some consideration. She said, over communications with Little Lo, "How much do you think the local news network would pay for this?"

Little Lo said, "Not as much as it's worth."

"Think you can take that thing apart like the ship?"

"Are you sure? Feels a bit...wrong to kill an unconscious combatant then sell it's parts off to the highest bidder."

"Well for one it's an enemy combatant of what is likely a violent and genocidal alien Empire. For two, the government would hide it away in this Area-51 I keep hearing all about, probably doing exactly what we're doing but keeping it private so they can make a war machine out of its skin or something. Does it have skin?"

After a brief scan and a moment, Little Lo replied, "Yes, though it's not exactly...the same as ours? I'm not a biologist."

"Don't have to be to hack parts off. That practically makes us surgeons!"

"Butchers?"

Lo cringed,"Let's keep to positive titles."

The connection closed, and Lo sighed, watching the battle unfurling as carriers opened and released their contingent of alien forces upon Lost Haven. She was just glad she wasn't fighting out there.
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Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by Liseran Thistle
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Liseran Thistle The Lilac Doe

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The first day-Evening time
Houston, Texas-Paradox H.Q


Shou was tired that evening, leaning against the metal interior of the shaky elevator, his arms crossed and his eyes closed for the duration of the ride. He had not gotten a lick of sleep, in fact, it was only about 2 hours before he had decided to finally clock out of H.Q for a well-deserved sleep. His uniform jacket, which was usually nicely put together was clearly disheveled and still covered in the debris from an earlier mission he had that day. He hadn’t even had time to wash the jacket, or the undershirt for his uniform before getting another ping from his badge calling him back here to H.Q.

The doors opened, and standing there in the hall to Leila’s office was his partner, Connor Ashlen. That signature, lazy smirk of his was tuned on his face as he walked with Shou to the office, his hands stuffed into his pockets. Connor was lanky, and tall with chestnut brown hair that seemingly cut horribly, though Shou would never tell him that. He had lightly tanned skin, with brown eyes, a very average yet handsome looking man. He was taller than Shou by a foot, yet his slight slouch made it seem like they were more or less the same height. “Crazy day, huh? Can’t believe a loan shark gave us that much trouble.” Connor spoke. “Everyone’s buzzing around H.Q like the pope’s coming, or somethin’. Kind of makes me nervous, you know?”

Shou was quiet for a moment before he reached the doors. Connor wasn’t usually this apprehensive about being pinged for a mission, yet Shou had learned to always take into account his partner’s odd “hunches” from time to time. Gut instinct had saved both of their lives more than once, thanks to Connor.“It’ll be fine. It’s just another mission.” He said to Connor in his low tone, before pushing the doors open gently. “Good evening, Miss Motle-” Shou was interrupted by the shock and disarray of the office.

It was a large space, much larger than one would think an office for a business person should be, with an oval and oak wood desk in the far back of the room. The floor was carpeted with a dark green felt, and there were usually many tables and chairs for other Agents to come and sit at, in order to commune and work together with one another. Leila’s office was usually a place of respite and like a common room more than private space. Tonight, however, it was a mess, more than usual, with papers and pens and spilled hastily brewed coffee all over the place.

Agents of all ranks ran this way and that, busily talking with one another in harried loud voices. Computers and laptops had been set up in multiple places, what they were trying to get a hold of though, Shou couldn’t tell. “What the hell’s going on in here?” Connor asked, looking around at the mess with a more telling reaction than Shou’s calm demeanor. Connor wanted to stop one of the Agents, anyone really to ask for context to the busy mess in the office, and what had everyone in here in a tizzy, though nobody paid him any attention.

“There you two are, Agent’s 4 and 5, I’m glad you’ve made it back quickly.” Leila came up to them both, a grim look on her very young-looking face. She was a short woman with black hair that was styled short and boyishly cut, in a nicely tailored cardigan and dark dress pants She wore the same, simple uniform the other Agent's wore, even sporting the signature pin on her breast pocket. Her usually vibrant green eyes were tired and held heavy bags under them, two large dark circles tinting the skin.

“Mind telling us what the hell everyone’s so worked up about, boss?” Connor asked her.

Leila let out a tired sigh and nodded. “I have terrible news, we’ve lost some of our smaller bases in the U.S just now.” She explained. “The most important being the one in San Francisco. Though we didn’t lose it through normal means, the best I can describe it is...the entirety of the city of San Francisco has been destroyed.”

Connor choked on his own words, not knowing what to say to that, or how to even begin. Shou was also shaken, so much so that he was the one to actually speak first.

“What?” He asked, in disbelief. “Was it the work of some Super, or-”
“We don’t know what exactly destroyed San Francisco, just that the city is currently in shambles.” She said bowing her head. “We lost contact with them about 30 minutes ago, and we haven’t been able to get into contact with them since then.”

“Then how…do you know the city is destroyed?”

Leila sighed heavily again, closing her eyes and opening them to reveal two green, glowing orbs had taken their place. “Because I can see it right now, Agent 4. The city is gone, nothing is there when I try to reach out to view it with my power.” She blinked and the glow was gone, her eyes back to normal. “I want to tell you all that maybe...maybe my power is just on the fritz. But my eyes have never deceived me.”

“So...so what do you need us to do?” Connor asked her, finally finding his voice. “Find the person who did this? Make ‘em pay?”

“I need you to go to San Francisco and help the people there. I’ve already sent out multiple groups already, and I’ve told them to hell with secrecy. If anyone is still in the city...in the shape I saw it in, they will need our help.” She explained.

“And if we don’t find anyone there?” Shou said.

“Then find out what caused this. Find any evidence you can, investigate the city, and anyone who tries to stop you from finding out the truth shall be treated as an enemy.”

The two of them nodded solemnly, turning around to head out of the office. They both were silent as they made their way to the elevator, though Shou could hear Connor’s mind whirring a mile a minute. When they made it back to the elevator, Connor’s hands were shoved into his pockets, his left foot tapping nervously on the metal floor. “A whole fuckin’ city, Shou...Who could even do something like that, huh?” His partner said anxiously. Shou shook his head, not answering. He didn’t know what he could say to calm his nerves, so he pressed the button going to the first floor, and leaned back against the door.

“Just finish the mission.” Shou told him, as the doors closed.

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Indy Cooper
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Indy Cooper Deity-in-training

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Banner credit NMS. Thanks, Cap'n!


Leanna swept a hand through her coal black hair and breathed deep to avoid yet another outburst. Today had not exactly been relaxing for her, but she was sure that the kids she had been sent were at least as frustrated as her, and that was saying something. She tilted her head back and stared at the bright blue, clear sky, trying to figure out a way to say what she had to say to them without screaming about how obtuse they were. As she let her head drop and a groan of misery escape her lips, she passed her gaze over the five kids in front of her.

She had to give them one thing. They were eager. Everyone of them was a volunteer for training after the Hounds debacle. The government, police and military depleted over the conflict from...Oh my God, barely a few weeks ago it was over.. Anyway, as battered as they were, they put out the call for people to fill the gap she had retired out of. A few years of service helping out law enforcement against massive threats they couldn't deal with, and they'd get pay and a generous retirement package. Blacklight had even testified in front of Congress about her own service and how much she had enjoyed her time in. As a result, and in accordance with her retirement deal, they had sent her these five.

To say they were green was generous. To say they were powerhouses would be laughable. But they loved the idea, loved the thought of helping, and had enough power the government had decided to send them to her. One speedster who could do Mach three, a kid with heat beams, a girl who basically exploded like a bomb but wasn't hurt, an invisible girl, and a boy who looked to be twelve with what she assumed was telekinesis. And she had to train them in teamwork not just with each other, but with anyone they got assigned to work with and the police they would be serving alongside. A task she was, just now, finding, impossible. Alongside that, she still had to keep her animals alive, although making them shovel horseshit had proved an excellent motivating punishment.

One hand wiped her tired face, dragging her skin for a bit. She hadn't bothered with her identity here, though they had to keep their own hidden if they exited her premises for obvious reasons. Getting used to being called “Miss Young” had hurt, though.

“Okay, Jack, one more time. You've got the suspect in your hands, they've been neutralised, now why can't you just run them to the stati-” Her phone rang and she turned away to answer it, trying not to hear the argument that erupted behind her immediately as if they were trying to solve a logic puzzle.

”This is Leanna Young, go ahead.”
“Oh, Leanna, hi! It's Fred Averston, from Averston Feedstore?”

”Oh hey Fred, what can I do for you?”

“Oh, nothin' much, Miss Young, just makin' sure you still need the full order this month? Only we've been hit hard after everythin' lately and I was hopin' that-”

”Absolutely, Fred. Whatever else happens, my animals need feeding.”

“Oh, that's fantastic news, ma'am. I'll have it out there by end of week. Sorry we're runnin' late, the supply chain's a little iffy right now and I just wanted to make sure one of our best customers was taken care of.”

”No problem Fred, I order extra just in case of that. And don't you worry, I'm not switching stores any time soon.”

“Well, we appreciate it kindly and fully, ma'am. We'll see you by Friday!”

”I appreciate it, Fred. I'll see you then.”

The aging hero sighed as she hung up the call and fought a grin as she listened now to the argument behind her. She remembered her own time as a kid in the biz as if it was yesterday, and it seems like the same problems were just as knotty to the new kids as it had been to them. She wondered if it would be the same years from now when she was too old to do this.
What am I thinking? I'm too old now. She might have even continued with that thought, but a bright flare off to the east in the sky caught her attention. She didn't have anything crazy like supervision, so she just watched it with curiosity as it descended through the atmosphere. The conversation behind her quieted down and she heard the invisible girl, Josephine, ask, “What's that?”

”Probably just a meteorite. They happen a lot more than you think, they're just rare to see this far south.”

They sat back watching for a few minutes. Leanna's eyebrows furrowed, however, as the flare from its entry died off but she could almost make out a shadow still over there. Then the flare went backward. She slapped a hand on the fencepost and spun to her class. All five looked at her confused, but she shook her head at their questions. ”Gear up, guys. Time for a practical.” And all six of them ran into her farmhouse, them to their lockers, her to her room. It had been too short a time since she had put this on, but she knew only two people who could shove meteors back away from Earth, and both of them were in Lost Haven, which means it had been bigger than she had thought if she saw it here in New York. Which meant she might actually be needed again.

As they all assembled in her foyer, she glanced them over. None of them were ready for this sort of thing, and she knew leaving them anywhere without guidance might make them want to help more, which could lead to their own or civilians deaths. But she was suddenly at a loss for what to say. She gulped, then managed to steel her resolve.

”I can't pretend to know what's about to happen, guys. But I do know that I'm about to leave my home and everyone I care about to go deal with it. And you can't come with.”
She held up her hand to stave off the protests already beginning.
”This is bigger than any of us. Remember what I've been drilling in your heads? No glory, no satisfaction beyond a job well done? This is how that works. I'm trusting you with making sure the people around here, with no means of saving themselves should something big happen, are safe. To your young ears, that sounds lame and small, but I tell you right now that if anything happens, no person you save, no matter where, will ever think your contribution is 'small' or 'worthless'. Every life is a person, and every person is worth saving.”

She didn't even need to motion them for them to join in on that last sentence, and they had their jaws set and were actually racing ahead of her on the phrase.

”That said, if you think you can help nearby safely, do so. Jack, you and Stephanie especially might be able to spread out. Don't get isolated, stay in contact, don't be stupid. Stay alive.” She waited a few baited breaths later and then called out ”Break!”

All of them streaked out of her front door, geared and ready. As soon as she was high enough, Leanna kicked her speed up as high as she could, her callsign's searing namesake floating in the air behind her for almost a minute as she sped off at just over three hundred miles an hour east for Lost Haven, hoping against all hope she wasn't too late to know what they were fighting against, or that she wouldn't be helping dig more corpses out of rubble.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Moondog
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Moondog

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Lost Haven, Warehouse, Now


A crashed Arlaaekan fighter seemed to birth mechanical spiders every few minutes. Small grappling hooks were used to drag out larger pieces of machinery, lasers were used to burn into metal components that could be pried open, and overall the ship looked pockmarked and scorched. Occasionally, a drone could be seen carrying a teal colored hand or foot duct taped to its frame or if you were really lucky, an eyeball.

Little Lo tapped into comms, "Well Little Sister, we did it. We did this most certainly illegal thing you wanted us to do."

Lo, with a satisfied smirk and no one around to see it, said, "Perfect. You know, I really thought this was going to be a lot harder! It's surprising what you can do with a little hard work. In fact, Little Lo, I think you can learn a lot fro-" And just like that, her laptop began to flash red. In the corner of her screen suddenly appeared a cutesy cartoon squid, flailing two of its tentacles like arms. It said, in cutesy Japanese, "Warning! Alien-kuns are scanning our location with" and in a sudden speech synthesized, Microsoft Sam tone, "Unknown method" before reverting to its sacharine way of speech, "They know where we are!" Then, in exaggerated tentacle flailing panic, "We're all going to diiiiiiiie!"

Lo stared blankly at the walls of her lair for a moment, wondering what an ancestor had done for her to deserve this. She said, in deadpan, "Anything else you want to tell me, Squid-chan?"

The small octopus shifted as its pure black dots for eyes as colored lines dropped over her face, "They somehow got into our network and they're trying to open communications. They don't seem very friendly, Squid-chan thinks maybe you shouldn't..."

"No no, please, show me."

A video feed, heavily distorted, appeared on the screen, visual artifacting caused by compression and nearly incompatible image formats turning the image into a glitched out mess. Lo could just make out an armored Arlaaekan shaking what looked like a massive metal axe if it had married a flail and had a brutalist child. From top to bottom, the weapon was made out of a chrome-like material. The Arlaaekan was standing in front of a landed carrier and was shouting something in its own tongue, which while Lo couldn't understand a lick of what he said, she thought she got an idea of his intentions when he walked to the side to pull a human woman into view and smashed the back of her skull open with the flail end of his axe, then slammed the blade end downwards, blood splattering the lens. He lifted up a single severed hand, and used it to wave at the screen.

"...ok please turn off the feed Squid-chan."

Squid chan bounced across the screen, "He sent some coordinates! I think he wants to fight you for" and then in sudden speach synthenization, "Blood Honor."

Lo's face hit her desk and stayed there. She'd barely been in this city for a few months and she'd already been challenged to a duel by an extraterrestrial warrior. Not that she seriously expected this as an outcome, but still! She gently lifted her head, pushing black strands of hair from her face, eyes blinking blearily at her screen.

Lo muttered, "May you live in interesting times, he said..."
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Terminal
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Terminal Rancorous Narrative Proxy

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Lost Haven
East-Side Tenament Housing


Galen swore as the entire room rumbled and dust poured down from the ceiling in thick curtains as the tell-tale sonic boom of an alien strike-craft streaking by overhead caused the entire tenament to shudder.

"Fucking aliens..." He muttered, steadying himself against the nearby wall before moving on. The housing complex he was in was somewhat run down, but not unusually so for that area of the city. What really stood out was the silence - where normally such an area would be filled with the ambient sound of children, pets, and occasional shouts or loud thuds of shifting furniture, the entire building was eerily quiet.

Although this was almost to be expected in the midst of the alien invasion with nearly everybody with two working brain cells to rub together evacuating from the city, the reign of silence in the tenament was ordinary here. If not for the cleaners who occasionally dusted and swept the hallways and the frequently changed-out lighting, the place could have been mistaken for being empty.

Galen walked down the main hallway at an unhurried pace, softly muttering to himself as he counted down the doors, approaching the one he was looking for. Reaching it, he raised his hand, hesitated for a moment, and then knocked in an unusual sequence - twice, pause, five times rapidly, pause, once, pause, and finally a solid, louder, solitary thump at the very end.

After a short pause, Galen saw the telltale hint of the peep-hole's slide being pulled back as the occupant peered out at him. A moment later, with a series of rattling chunks and clicks, they undid the door's superfluity of locks and cracked it open, leaving the door still secured with a jam and two chains.

"What's the call?" The occupant said, still standing out of view behind the door itself.

"Shipping just picked up the title to a new warehouse in the French Quarter at 5426 Moore." Galen said steadily. "We sent in two guys earlier to sweep through the place and clear out any indigents, maybe give them another place to stay if you catch my drift. Only they never came back."

"Well shit. Anybody we know?"

"Not sure, I didn't get there names, just a call. Been told to get four more guys down there to check the place out."

"The fuck for? If the last two who went there are MIA isn-"

"Boss says it's been happening all over the place. People going missing and the like, all because of the Martians and the evacuation and it keeps going on. And just in case they did get in trouble, that's why we're sending FOUR of you. So get a crew together, get some heat, and go check the place out."

"Blazing?"

"No! For all we know the other two are just laid up in a hospital or buried under rubble or something. If you find anybody bring them in. If you find the other two's corpses do whatever you like."

"Whatever. I've got a paper and pen, what's the new number today?"

"0074-192-9047."

"Alright. Me and the boys will take an early lunch and then head out. I'll set the message for around three or something."

The door shut then, and the occupant began relatching and securing all the locks as Galen mentally scratched the conversation off of his lengthy to-do list and went on his way.


888888888888



5426 Moore Blvd.
Not Too Much Later...


Before four of the men sent was what most would call a dilapidated shithole of a warehouse. It stood at four stories and what held together its filth stained windows that barely lit the interior even during the day, were long metal walls of now rusted aluminum. A shorter building with thick steel doors jutted from the huge husk that even from here it could be seen that part of the roof had collapsed inward after years of neglect. Why their boss would bother to buy such a piece of crap was beyond many of them. Having not come into contact with anything particular unusual moving towards the warehouse, they approached with the kind of caution one only gets when one is told that two of their fellow goons somehow lost contact in a spooky abandoned warehouse. That is, pistols raised and quietly.

Various points of red pin prick lights focused on these four very unfortunate men. Sending raw sensory input to Little Lo who for all intents and purpose was command, who bounced back an order to "Kill them." Due to previous orders, this would have to be done without the traditional method of latching onto a mans face and detonating so violently that only the back of the skull remained. So, they were restricted primarily to tranquilizers and sliding their metallic feet over the goons' necks until an artery was finally sliced open, or to using lethal injection of Lo's toxic sweat to cause cardiac arrest and possible brain damage. Combat data gathered from the previous encounter suggested the latter course of action.

One drone clambered down the split rusted remains of a storm drain, before suddenly loosening its grip to  lunge onto the back of one startled goons head. He felt a thin prick and the drone leaped off, scurrying into the lower half of the drain.

"The fuck was that?" he shouted.

"The fuck was what Tommy?"

"Something just latched onto my head and pricked me with somethin'!"

Another felt a prick to their ankles, and saw a small spider drone rapidly moving away. He lifted his pistol, fired, and hit it dead on target, splintering the drone to fragmented shards of sparking steel. This didn't stop the last two from getting multiple injections to the wrist, ankle, and calf. This caused them to, within a minute, scream in agony, because in cases of multiple injections, hosts to the toxin experienced painful waves of nerves firing off like christmas trees far, far earlier. They fell to the ground, slowly losing the ability to move, their twitching and spasming movements soon silenced and mouthed screams witnessed by the two soon to not be survivors.

The first who had been injected pulled a burner phone from his jacket. He unfolded it and creased inside was a slip of paper which had the Galen's number on it, which he crumpled and threw away - he had forgotten to throw it away like he should have.

Elsewhere, Galen's own burner phone rang while he was in the middle of a belated lunch inside one of the tenament apartments. Spitting out a hunk of a half-chewed roast sandwich, he dropped the rest of it on the table in front of him and snapped open the phone hurriedly. He was not supposed to receive calls on it, ever, unless it was a life or death emergency - which this presumably was, or else it was going to become one if somebody had called it for shits and giggles.

"Talk to me." He choked out, still partly clearing his mouth of morsels.

Tommy said with some effort, "There were these spider robot things, I think they injected us with some kinda poison? I don't know how long we got, but after we smashed and shot a few, they scattered off back into the warehouse."

"Shit." Galen subvocalized. "Alright, get out of there, go to the harbor clinic, we basically own the place. Break your phone now before you go, remember to get the card too."

"You sure the clinic can deal with this?" Tommy could hear his heart pounding and it felt like it would nearly go through his chest.

His only answer was the clicking sound of Galen hanging up on the other end of the line - and doubtlessly breaking his own phone immediately thereafter as well.

Tommy cursed tossing his phone to the floor and stomping on it, then kicking one of the small sphere bodies of the spiders against the rusted face of the warehouse. Ricky, having been standing by patiently and losing feeling in his left arm, let him have this one. Besides, the robotic freaks had left.

Of course they hadn't. They'd merely crawled through a skylight and clung there, some going inside to drain jars of Lo's toxic sweat and refill their stocks. They moved silently, until the moment they could pounce, focusing on any exposed artery.

Tommy remembered something. That piece of paper, he'd have to find it and rip it up before he went to that harbor clinic. He saw it, lying on worn planks six feet from where he stood. He took a step forward and was nearly brought to the floor by first the pain of infection in both of his ankles posterior tibial arteries, but also a solid impact to the back of his head. This drone rubbed two of its legs together and a arc of electricity jutted between each. It brought this down on his head, which caused his final twitching, spasming collapse, his skin slowly fading to a sickly yellow as the toxin did it's own work.


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Not Too Far Away...


Lo flipped through drone camera streams, over and over and over again, making absolutely, deadly sure, that every single thug who had tried to enter what she was quickly realizing she thought of as her territory, was absolutely, one hundred percent, dead. She didn't even feel safe enough to leave her desk.

Little Lo chimed into comms, "Ok, Lo, look, I think that was all of them. I'm guessing they sent four because if two doesn't work, you just send two times the original number. It's how it works. So they're probably going to send eight or something, or maybe get some guys to sort of scope the building. Point is, we have two options."

Lo interrupted, "Yeah, I know, we literally have the same brain. We either leave or we convince them it 100% absolutely isn't worth coming to take this place."

Little Lo added, "That they own, legally. Because they bought it."

Lo scoffed, "Yeah probably with drug and gun trafficking money. They sent armed thugs to check out a low HPI warehouse during an alien invasion. They are absolutely not clean, even if they send cleaners. Can you send more drones over for patrols? Maybe we can catch them and convince them we're something stupid like a mass ai intelligence network."

Little Lo sighed, "Yes, I think I can do that. Also, you mean skynet right?"

Lo said, "Sky what?"

Little lo added, "Wait, you haven't seen Terminator 2?"

"No, definitely not. Saw season 2 episode 13 of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, but only the part where the girl in the white dress is cutting that guys throat open and just keeps going."

"What...no. Ok find a copy, start watching it, skip to about 26:37, that's the part where Arnold Swarzeneger explains to a young John Connor that skynet or whatever took over the future and are sending robots back in time...anyway don't include the time travel part. Just do a hal 9000 impression, add some distortion in the audio, and really jack up the line level. I know you'll figure it out."

Lo, like god intended, pirated a copy of Terminator 2 and watched it with great interest. Little Lo had sent a powerpoint presentation, illustrating how, exactly, she should enjoy several major scenes in the movie. These included the famous bike chase, conveyer belt scene, and the penultimate scene where The Terminator gives a thumbs up as he dissolves in molten metal. Lo had of course barely read this, as it was fairly exhaustive and written with clinical precision. She was worried Little Lo might be diverging a bit too much.

She skipped to the scene at 26:37. Sarah Connor and what she presumes is called The Terminator are mid conversation.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self aware at 2:14 am eastern time august 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

"Skynet fights back."

"Yes. It launches its missiles against the targets in russia."

She rewinds back to scenes where The Terminator is fighting some other Terminator, and thinks that, she's probably got the gist of it. She wanted to watch the rest of the movie later, there was just something about stupid american action movies that she couldn't resist. But, now was not the time. Now all there was to do, was wait.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by KaiserElectric
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KaiserElectric Spaghetti Enthusiast

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It was warm. Something tickled her skin as a gentle breeze whispered by. It felt like it was going to rain.

Riley opened her eyes. Pushing herself up, she looked around at her surroundings. A rolling meadow extended in every direction as far as she could see, the blue-green grass tousled by the wind. Light clouds drifted through a rose-tinted sky, but there didn't appear to be a sun.

A deep breath. It wasn't her own. She looked to her left, seeing an alien sitting there, blue-skinned, with four arms folded in her lap. Riley didn't scream, or react with surprise. Why would she? She seemed so...familiar.

In fact, the whole place seemed familiar. Quite far from Pacific Point, but familiar nonetheless. But why?

"Do you know what happened?"

The alien's question startled her into remembering.

"There was an attack on my city. I was defending it, and...I think I died," Riley mused.

"I did too." The alien lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" Riley repeated.

"They told us about this. If we weren't prepared, how our memories would be scattered," the alien said. "I wasn't ready when-"

"-the ship crashed." Riley finished, feeling the answer coming to her. "There were soldiers, they found you trying to fight them off...but you didn't survive the crash." Instinctively, she reached out her hand, and the alien took it with two of hers. The wind seemed to pick up as a response.

"You're still fighting to protect the innocent," the alien said to Riley. "You started fighting against the Game Genie, helped defeat the Hounds of Humanity...and the Guardians. You joined them too, to help save the world."

"I wish I could go back," Riley said. "I...I can do so much more."

The alien smiled. "But you are going back. Just like I did."

Riley gave her a confused look, then it all clicked into place. The wind intensified as Riley realized what all of this was.

"I...wait, I remember...you went back! You went back as ME!"

"And our memories were scattered, because of how I died," the alien said to Riley. "But...it's coming back now!"

"I'm starting to remember!" Riley shouted, the wind becoming a gale as it threatened to pick her up and carry her away.

"My...my name is Riley," the alien said.

"And my name..." Riley said.

"...is Devashya."


---

A bolt of lightning illuminated the sky over Pacific Point, and at the same time, a pile of rubble suddenly gasped, the debris exploding outwards in a burst of Psionic energy.

Sprawled on the damp earth, Voyager took great, heaving breaths, like she was making up for the brief time she spent being dead. The warm feeling was gone, replaced with a damp chill and a gentle ache. It probably didn't help that most of her outfit was in tatters at this point, ripped straight through by whatever tore her up. She really needed a T-shirt or something. Taking a cursory look around, Voyager realized she happened to crash right through the front of a small clothing store. Most of what was here was water-logged, but there was a row of jackets that seemed to avoid most of the flood.

Reminding herself to find the owner and pay for it later, Voyager yoinked an oversized purple jacket and tossed it over her shoulders, figuring it'd be enough to keep her decent. Bracing herself for a quick flight to the place she last saw Wanderer, she stopped at seeing an unfamiliar alien on the wall.

No, wait. That was a mirror, and...wow that was different. Her hair looked less tentacle-esque, more like layers of hair then before, and she seemed to have webbing on her fingers and toes now. Lifted up her new bangs, a third eye between her usual two blinked back at her as well.

"Okaaaay," Voyager trailed off, quite dumbfounded at her new look. New life, new looks, she supposed. Did that mean new powers too? She tried throwing her hands around, but instead of a PsiBlast, a coat-rack flew towards her. She barely dodged it by suddenly flying out of the way.

"Well at least I can fly," she said with a sigh of relief. "Right, I'll figure the rest out, now where is Wander-aaaah!"

The second she touched down, there was a flash of purple and she suddenly found herself flying through a portal to a rooftop, landing unsteadily at the other end. Collecting herself, she realized she was on the same rooftop as Wanderer, too busy fighting aliens to notice the sound of the portal, as well as the alien ships swinging around to try and gun him down as he focused on the main force.

"Look out!"

Flying into action, Voyager threw herself between the alien ships and Wanderer, trying to put up a PsiBarrier. Nothing visible happened, but she felt some sort of Barrier block the shots, reducing them to little more then a burst of heat and a soft hit. Undeterred, she swung her hand around and carved chunks of concrete from the ground to fire at the enemy ships, smashing most of them to bits and sending the survivors away, save for one who lost control and decided to take out these meddling heroes with them. Voyager, working on instinct, made a motion as if to pry two objects apart and pulled the ship in half with her Psionics, sending each half in opposite directions to crash harmlessly.

Coming down from the high of using a brand new set of powers, she turned to Wanderer, a sheepish grin on her face as the glow of her three eyes faded.

"I...bet you have some questions," she said, rubbing the back of her neck.

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by VATROU
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VATROU The Barron

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With a charged blast of high voltage electricity an alien dropship suddenly found itself without a left side molten metal dripped onto the soldiers gathered inside as the aliens themselves prepared for an emergency landing only to be blasted by some unknown source of energy.

Hound Dog knew the blast came from nearby however ships flew to intercept him, with following blasts of lightning tearing off armor plating. Heat rose from his arms mixing with the humid air and pouring sea water that was dripping through this energy barrier forming hot steam that partially obscured him. Even with the chaos and other heroes rising to action few were doing significant damage to them on a large enough scale it almost seemed like they came from nowhere phasing into reality.

”Are they replicating or teleporting?” Hound Dog mused.
”Whatever they’re doing this is some serious bad news.”

Blasts of lightning continued each weaker than the last as his heat sink quickly became overloaded, dissipating the heat required to keep his core body temperature at safe levels was soon getting out of hand so he came up with a plan. Picking up metallic objects Hound Dog propelled them accelerating their speed and impact force chaining each attack with positively and negatively charged debris continued to bring each and every attack closer and farther into the sky as the magnetism of each object created a small orbit jumping between points and smashing through as many enemy fighters as possible.

However as he soon noted, whatever metals the ships used in their construction were simply far too durable to be destroyed by minerals and metals known to man. ”There goes conserving strength, right I suppose my bit here is over and if I don’t hightail it elsewhere these squares will cream me good.” With the distraction keeping aliens busy he took off making quick trails. Ducking incoming fire, zapping ground troops until he came upon the largest gathering he’s seen yet, surrounding two unfamiliar heroes? As he zapped another craft out of the sky he noticed some similarity to one blue skinned alien. ”I’m assuming you ain’t like those greenies who are such a drag, though yet somehow oddly familiar. You a relative of Voyager? Cause man, the more I eyeball you the more I see her. But first we got more friends joining our shindig here.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Moondog
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Moondog

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Lost Haven
The French Quarter
5426 Moore Blvd.
Around 6:00 P.M.


The warehouse stood tall, lights filtering through the upper stories filthy glass panes. These lights were aimed upwards, moving by some unseen force inside. If one were to watch carefully, you could see small, spiderlike silhouettes skittering rapidly and emerging from what looked like surgically cut holes in the glass, before rapidly spreading out to clamber on the roof, cling onto pier rails, or otherwise move onto the adjacent storage lockers and abandoned office complexes that surrounded the area.

Moving towards the building itself, were what looked like child sized metal boxes with wheels slapped onto the bottom. These parked close to the warehouse, then their back hatches opened like an APC, and a multitude of spider drones clicked and clacked out onto the lowered back door, various alien organs, fingers, and other viceri duct taped tightly to their "backs". These seemed to make a point of being visible, of being observed, taking their time to crawl back through the same holes the other drones were crawling out.

Two flood lights, which if the other groups that had been alive to see it would have said weren't there before, stood pointing outwards on the lower, jutting entrance building. The light barely revealed the forms of the last four unfortunates who had been tasked with coming here, contorted in painful repose, their skin sickly and jaundice yellow. The exploded heads of the first two were being pushed off the side of the dock, by a few of the box like drones simply ramming the bodies off the side of the dock until they slid down into the briney depths below.

Perched on a rooftop a block and a half away, a single figure , laying flat on their belly and peering over the lip of the roof with a pair of binoculars, wathed the warehouse carefully. They were dressed in worn fatigues, with a radio hand-set with its own dedicated pocket and strap sewn into his jacket.

"This is Whiskey-Two. Eyes on two casualties. AO is hot, robotic spiders Galen told us about." He subvocalized. "How do we want to do this? Over."

A crackling voice replied. "Whiskey-One here. Normally I would say we just stay put, stake the place out, wait to see if anybody tries to sneak in groceries. But getting paid by the hour isn't the hottest take with bombers passing overhead so frequently. Over."

"Whiskey-Three here," Another voice chimed in, "Looking at the blueprints Galen gave us, place is roughly four stories...has a single suspended office along the Eastern wall. Multiple inclined skylights, North and Southwards facing. Service entrace and loading dock in the Western extension. Already calculating nominal vantage through the skylights from the nearest superior rooftops, I'll be back with you all on that. Over."

"Whiskey-One here. For the time being just cycle vantages and work out a good view of what you can, see if these drones have any kind of pattern to them. We'll complete a circuit and then see about getting eyes through the office and skylights. Out..."


888888888888





Not Too Far Away...


Little Lo, once again trying to act as the voice of reason to Lo's still meat and synapse based emotional state, said calmly through the comms on Lo's laptop, "No, we can't just blow up the entire warehouse. You know how hard it was to establish this manufacturing line."

Lo, agitated, walked around the room, sometimes stopping to carefully fold her clothes before shoving them into a transport drone before it wheeled off. She said, "We haven't seen anyone! Anyone! I'm telling you, it's ninjas."

Little Lo sighed, "We're not in Shanghai anymore, Little Sister."

"Turn of phrase. We were never in Shanghai."

"We're not in the providence of the CCP. There aren't Ninjas in America."

"Are you sure about that one?"

"I...well, there is Ninja-man. I don't really count him as a ninja though."

Lo threw up her arms, "See? They probably hired a Ninja-man!"

Little Lo, who was watching a faint glassy glint she could just, swear, was coming from a rooftop a block away, said, "Ok look, you know what, we can rebuild. But you can't just keep running every single time someone finds our home. Also, if the authorities ever discover we blew up this warehouse, we're going to prison. Probably forever."

Lo stopped near her laptop, withdrawing a small usb from her pants pocket and plugging it in. The screen flashed green, then red, before a big, bolded, and underlined series of words appeared on screen: Detonation in five minutes. She said, "Robots don't go to jail! The U.S justice system just hasn't prepared for the sudden providence of artificial intelligences. They'd just call you property and scrap you."

Above, clinging to the dirty panel windows, and in various corners of the warehouse, was a rather impressive swarm of drones. Lo had called back almost everything she had and rigged her manufacturing line to blow. There were even drones underneath her feet, in the sewer network, to make sure this building sank into the depths of the Earth.

Little Lo said, "Scrap? I really don't want to do this now."

Lo plugged a pair of earbuds into her laptop which she was now carrying around like a waiter carrying an entree. She stuck one bud in her ear just so she could hear how she sounded, doing a pitch and vocal perfect impression of Hal9000, "Code 9 initiated. Assimiliation of meatforms into Codestack network. Prime directive: Kill all humans." She saved this recording and jacked it up completely, copying the lines and overlapping the audio, until it sounded like a child, a woman, and a man were saying the lines all at once through glitchy audio. She closed her laptop and held it under one arm.

Little Lo said in what would sound like a pained tone if she could feel pain, "I'm not sure if they're going to, exactly, fall for that, but I have faith in myself."

Lo grinned, "So do I! We're so alike, you and I." She tied a black bandana around her smirking mouth and paused at the back door, unfolding her laptop again, and saying, "Make the drones that aren't being used for demolitions to scatter out and play that audio. Just have them set to passive and freak everyone out, I'm sure there's some people hiding nearby who could help sell the story."

She slowly, opened the backdoor, which opened towards the harbor. She could barely see anything, however, she didn't need to, exactly. Little Lo was directing her steps via a bud still coming from her underarm held laptop.

"Ok, go left. There's a few storage buildings you can get lost in which, if anyones watching, wouldn't be the first place they'd pick for a stake out."

Through her buds, she could hear, "Time until detonation: two minutes."

Her drones began to scatter out, emitting "Code 9 initiated. Assimilation of meatforms into Codestack network. Prime directive: Kill all humans." Every ten seconds on the clock. Anyone they found who were either homeless or simply hiding away from the carnage near the middle of the city, found themselves being assaulted by spider drones, who while easily fended off, left them with wounds that would require hospitalization to properly deal with.

After two minutes, the warehouse detonated, the blinding flare of a massive blue explosion first starting from the top of the building and moving downwards. Windows ruptured, aluminum walls bulged then ruptured open, sending shrapnel flying in every cardinal direction. The remains of the structure collapsed inward, then fell into the Earth. Bits of drone that had failed to detonate before their cpus were completely destroyed were sent flying outwards, disintegrating on impact with the brick walls of adjacent buildings.

Lo, at about the exact time the warehouse exploded, drove from a opened storage locker on her CFMoto 650TK, and did her damn best to make some distance from this place. Looking up towards the carnage of crashing alien vessels, and some crashing capes, she wondered if she had made the right decision.


888888888888



Southern Lost Haven
Oubliette Safehouse
The Next Day...


Sitting on a black leather couch in a garishly-wallpapered room that would not have been out of place in a nightclub, a brutish golem of a man wearing a furred flight-suit with a misshapen jawline and what looked like a nail protruding from its underside thoughtfully nursed a drink as he examined a photograph in the other. The lighting was dim and musky, and generic techno remix thrummed in the background.

This was really the best you could get?"

The mercenary sitting in the fold-up chair across the matte-black coffee table from him shrugged sheepishly. "Sorry boss. Quite frankly it's probably pure luck we even got this much. From the looks of all the hardware they had to leave behind, they were probably hesitating about destroying it all - hence how one of us was even able to get close enough to take that. But like I said, it was basically down to chance."

The man with the crooked jawline took a pull from his tumbler and then casually tossed the half-profile, distant shot of Router as she left the building across the surface of the coffee table. "I understand. Not much we can do with this unless we get a meta that can work with pictures. Talk to Galen, he'll get your pay."

The mercenary nodded gratefully before standing up and leaving the room. As he did, a long hand with elegant piano-fingers traced over the surface of the coffee table and neatly plucked the photograph up between a middle and index finger. The hand's owner, leaning over to pick the photograph up from besides the couch, leaned back against the wall as they examined it.

"Oh yes. I'll be adding this one to my 'must haves.' Any objection if I have this one?"

The man with the crooked jaw shrugged as he nursed the tumbler some more. "Not really a whole lot to it. Even if we knew who she was, it's not worth the effort to put anythin' out on her. Feel free."

"Somebody to save for a rainy day then..." The other figure whispered in a breathy voice. "Another pretty little thing to be mine some day..."

The man with the crooked jaw rolled his eyes ever-so-faintly. "Chances are we're never even gonna hear from her again, Tribal."

"Oh no, I have the most lucious feeling about this one." The other man said as he tucked the photo into the inner pocket of his coat. "It's fate."

"You say that about everyone you fancy you weirdo." The crooked-jawed man snorted right before throwing back the tumbler and draining the rest of it.

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Terminal
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Terminal Rancorous Narrative Proxy

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Lost Haven
The Chinatown Bridge


As alien dropships, strike-craft, and bombers streaked through the atmosphere, the city of Lost Haven began to empty like a swarm abandoning an ant-hill. Untold millions of souls packing whatever belongings they deemed essential into bagages, cases, trunks, cars, and trunks and pouring outwards in droves. All of them sought to escape to the relatively safer obscurity of the surburban sprawls in the mainland, utterly convinced that the world - or at least the part of it in Lost Haven - was about to end.

It was afternoon, and the five bridges leading out of the city were all jammed packed, not only with uneven lines of countless multicolored vehicles, but also with the turbulent, clamoring streams of panicked civilians who had abandoned their vehicles in the middle of traffic in order to continue fleeing across the bridge on foot. Others, more concerned with momentary opportunity rather than the prospect of survival, had begun turning to looting whatever was left behind in the abandoned conveyances - shattered glass and even several car fires served as milestones for the path across the river.

With the evacuation proceeding so haphazardly, emergency services and the national guard had moved in to try to organize the flow of traffic and bring a semblence of order to the churning masses. Though they had been largely ineffective in that task thus far they had at least been able to protect the vulnerable, thronging masses from several alien ground assaults - though they in turn had little with which to defy the airborne attack craft periodically screaming across the sky.

Down in the waters below, a throng of ships skittered across the water, trade halted to try and get away from the city to protect the cargo and people on board. For some of the vessels, the selfless captains deemed it necessary to start ferrying the scared people off of the island Lost Haven was founded on to get them to safety. Yet despite all of the selfless people, there were a few who would be in the waters protecting the interests of others.

Several small boats moved through the waters, their origins being a few key warehouses that were located waterside. While a few of the men were busy steering the small boats to their intended locations, others were checking their assortment of assault rifles, pistols and a few of the mounted mobile turrets that they deemed to be needed at a time like this. Wearing black tactical armour, their objectives were unknown but their intent was well defined underneath concealed goggles.

"I want these waters secured!" barked Anhur, his hand clenching a walkie talkie that was on the dashboard of his boat. "The last thing we need is some assholes trying to take ground we gained from the Hounds of Humanity! And I want those bridges secured! Our interests are too important and I'll put any asshole who failed to secure those bridges in front of Dullahan himself for his foothold in the city being damaged!"

The skull-faced man rehooked the device back onto the console as he looked over the waters around the city. For him, there was only one place his boat was going. Over the past couple of weeks, the failings of not being able to locate one Kayla Mason was putting him in a bad light in Dullahan's books. While the meeting with Richard Midas came with some positive results, it wasn't enough to offset the deficit. Not while his boss's plans were still in motion. So, the next best thing was to secure the best logistical route between the docks of the city to one of the hubs of their North American operations in Crown Ridge, which was the westernmost bridge in the city.

He turns to Dirk, his second-in-command of his Lost Haven operations and leader of the Penose, "I want all of our men to secure the bridge at all cost. No asshole is to get through you or anyone here. Otherwise, I'll see to it that I beat the living shit out of you before you face the leader." While the words were harsh, the Penose leader understood the pressure Anhur was facing over the past number of weeks. He turned and began relaying the orders to his men.

Before he had finished his first sentence, he heard the tell-tale, otherworldly whine of one a nearby alien craft - looking up, he saw what appeared to be an insect-like alien gunship settle into a drift, with a large, evident weapon protruded from a hardpoint on its hull and began to blaze with incandescent light, aimed at an emergency search and rescue helicopter that had been buzzing about near the top of one of the bridge's arched support struts.

But before Anhur could even order the boat's turret gunners to take the gunship down, the tables unexpectedly flipped entirely on their own. The search and rescue helicopter swerved to angle its side towards the alien craft, and its left door retracted to reveal a tripound-mounted, heavy anti-materiel machine gun with three men crewing it. Less than a second later, the blazing alien weapon mounted beneath the gunship was showered in a deluge of exploding rounds, and the foreign craft jerked back erratically in the air as the wave machine-gun fire crashed over its hull. The craft was simply too big and too well armored for the helicopter to actually take out, but it had evidently received a nasty sting and was already pulling back up and swerving, as if to disengage even as the light surrounding its weapon fluttered and abated, shortly before going up in flames.

The skull-faced man, seemingly unfazed by the appearance of the alien craft, looked on. Dirk already began to order his men to fire at the lone ship. As the men fired, the rounds from the rifles seemed to only put dents into the hull of the craft. It was when the turret began to whir to life and fire that the rounds punched through whatever metal the ship was made of, thanks to the weaponry used to damage any bullet-resistant meta that came to the warehouses The Eye owned. The short burst of fire from the turret was enough to cause smoke, though the initial burst from the helicopter had probably weakened the armor enough for the rounds to penetrate.

While the men of the Penose concentrated on the alien craft that was at hand, Anhur's gaze remained trained on the helicopter that was in the area. While seeing emergency helicopters wasn't a new sight for him, especially in this city, one search and rescue with some heavy firepower was new. With his time in the underworld being extensive enough, he knew something was up. He reached for one of the spare rifles on the boat, but remained unresponsive as he waited to see what was to happen next.

Watching carefully, he noted as the helicopter completely ignored the alien craft as it started to careen towards the water-line - another irregularity given standard airspace regulations and practices - and instead pulled in close to the top of the bridge's suspension arch. Men from within the helicopter jumped out - bearing small, bundled packages of some kind, their exact details hard to make out until Anhur brought up the rifle to get a better look at them through its scope.

He realized what the packages were at the same exact moment the radio cracked to life and a nearly panicked report from one of the other boats came through.

"Boss! We found something really bad at the base of one of the support columns for the bridge! Bundle of plastic explosives, has a fail-deadly detonation mechanism-"

Through the scope, Anhur could clearly see the tell-tale coloration and irregular moulding of packed plastic explosives - and that some of the men were also carrying and preparing modern arming pins. From street-level, their activity probably looked completely innocuous - not even the national guard had probably realized anything was amiss yet. But he did.

"Target the helicopter!" he roared, pulling the trigger to let off a burst of  bullets towards the men at the base of the columns. "Don't let them get away!"

On the sound of the orders, just as one of the men on the bridge fell to the ground dead and another clutching his leg, the men on the boat began to fire at the remaining men on the top of the arch. The turret moved its machine gun towards the helicopter and began to rain bullets at it with deadly precision. Any men that managed to escape the helicopter before it went down, he was certain to get answers from them. Not on his watch that they were going to pull this shit on him and get away with it.

"-looks like some kind of secure receiver. Hardware isn't signal compatible. There's gonna be somebody nearby with a detonator for this boss - and maybe other explosives if they want to bring the whole bridge down." The voice over the radio finished. Through the scope of his rifle, Anhur watched as four survivors from the helicopter on top of the arch pulled out of view from sea level and retreated towards the median of the structure. The wreckage of the helicopter - riddled with massive, jagged holes, engulfed in flames and disintegrating into pieces - fell towards the water below.

As soon as the boat reached the base of the column, Anhur stormed over to where the bomb was placed. Looking at where the helicopter was with a few of the remaining survivors jumped out of, he turned to the explosives. The plastic that lined the explosives did, indeed, have a mechanism that could set them off. Over the sound of the screams, alien craft and nearby shots, the bomb would probably be difficult to deactivate without any time.

"We're gonna need to call in pros to dismantle these things boss. Think we either need to get our hands on the detonator or start pulling everything we've got away from the bridge. No telling how many more of these things are lying around." The radio-caller growled with resentment, hands clenched into tightly bound fists from pent up, impotent rage.

Anhur wasted no time in beginning to scale the bridge to where the survivors were. He was already at the top by the time a few of the Penose realized he was not with them and began to follow. Once on the walkway of the bridge, his eyes scanned for any unusual activity, ready to take pursuit of the men who left the helicopter.

He was not left waiting long. The top of the bridge was a traditional box-capped arch, with a roofed maintenance hall in the middle and several meter-boxes for emergency and night lights interpersing the surface - abundant cover. Not even a few moments after he pulled himself up onto the top, two of the survivors from the helicopter rose from behind two power junction boxes, armed with SMGs, and started to throw a hailstorm of bullets in his direction.

On first sight of them, Anhur began towards them, only taking cover once the bullets started to fly towards him. Using the rifle he brought with him, he began to fire back between the break of the bullets. While the weapon was good enough to scare most people, he knew he was more effective if he was up close and personal. Using the rifle in short bursts, he started to move closer towards his targets.

Hearing one of the gunmen swear at his steady and efficient advancements, he saw the two unfortunately wise up and start exchanging rudimentary hand signals - they went from firing at him in tandem and began to alternate bursts. That was not optimal - but they were falling for a predictable blunder. Having already vented at him the moment he had appeared, they had forgotten to conserve their ammunition. At least one of them would be running out of ammo, right about...

He heard one of them audibly swear again in tandem with the sound of an empty magazine clattering to the roof of the bridge.

Smiling at their unfortunate precidament, it was at this moment that he struck. Leaping out of cover, it didn't take long for him to close the gap to the men. He slid low towards the nearest man. Using the heel of his hand, he drove it straight into his stomach. Using the momentum of his burst of speed, he launched himself towards the other. His other hand curled into a fist and rammed towards the other's neck.

His knuckles glanced off the raised edge of the gunman's weapon as they sprung backwards on the spot - though thankfully, their weapon's magazine was empty too. Even as his accomplice collapsed into a writhing ball of terrified anguish and left gasping for breath on the roof of the bridge, the second thug dropped their emptied weapon onto the ground and pull what looked to be a surplus army knife from a holster at his belt. Getting his first good look at both of the men, Anhur could immediately tell they were both amateurs - the one presently pulling a knife on him even looked a little familiar. Both of them were local muscle or mercenaries of some kind, and while some of their gear was evidently on loan - like the machine gun from the helicopter and the SMGs they had been using - everything else about them was shoddy and simply boring.

Anhur let out a sigh of disappointment. "And I thought you guys were going to be a serious threat to my men down below." Shaking his head, he raised the rifle in his possession and shot the knife-wielding mercenary. With the other one incapacitated, he turned to look for the other two men as the Penose started to reach the area.

"Secure him. I want to interrogate him later." As the men followed his orders, he began walking in the direction that he thought the other two were heading. S s

He ducked briefly into the roofed corridor - no sign of them, but - there. At the other end there was a rapelling line tied to the end of a catwalk. Looking down, he could barely see the form of somebody making their descent on it through the obstruction of the catwalk and various criss-crossing girders. To get a decent shot he would have to stand right where the line was tied-

A glint in the dark was his only warning, but just enough of one, as the sniper's bullet whizzed past his head and buried itself in the corridor wall. Hunched in the dark at the opposite end of the corridor was the third survivor, armed with a high-powered rifle and crouching behind an overturned steel locker.

As soon as the shot echoed in the corridor, Anhur ducked behind one of the upright girders. He growled at the predicament, but the person who was on the rapel line was his main target. No doubt the men before and the sniper were there to slow them down so the figure could escape far enough to detonate the explosives.

After a moment passed, the skull-faced man turned the corner, rifle raised. Firing a couple of shots at the steel locker, he began to advance. If the other men were anything to go by, the sniper should also be an amateur mercenary. As he closed the gap to where he got a glimpse of the line, the rifle clicked once to indicate the empty clip. While still out of range for him to hit him with his fists, he was close enough for one thing. Unclipping the rifle, he threw the weapon at the sniper like a hatchet - the mercenary was too distant to really be able to hurt them with it, but Anhur had closed the distance enough that his opponent was forced to raise his rifle to deflect the thrown weapon, momentarily distracting them and putting them off balance - leaving them exposed.

Another opportunity came as Anhur had planned. Grabbing a knife from his belt, he flipped it and threw it towards the sniper as they were exposed. he instantly ran and vaulted over the railing, grabbing the rope as he quickly descended down the rope to catch with the runaway. Said party was close to the ground, but evidently judged that falling would be too debilitating to let them fight back if Anhur followed suit - the mercenary below unsheathed a combat knife from a belt-holster, clamped it between their teeth, and started climbing back up towards Anhur. The skull-faced man saw this and carried on sliding down, feet falling first to hit the mercenary when the gap closed. His target shifted precariously on the line, taking the blow to the chest rather than their head - and immediately let go with one hand to snatch at the knife again and slash at Anhur's leg. He gritted his teeth as the knife bit into his leg, but he closed the distance to get into contact as his free hand palmed the mercenary's head. The mercenary reflexively lashed out to stab directly at Anhur's arm as he did so, but was too late to actually impede contact. Seizing the opportunity of being in close contact, Anhur looked down to see the detonator. With a devilish look in his eyes, he moved his arm out of the way of the incoming knife and ripped the detonator off of the mercenary's belt. With the threat now secured, he looked at the scared mercenary.

"Looks like it's a one way stop for you. But don't worry, we'll make sure that we'll find whoever hired you and -"

The mercenary, evidently uninterested in entertaining a lengthy monologue despite being evidently terrified, proceeded to throw a left hook with his free hand at Anhur's head. Recoiling at the hook, Anhur swung back and kicked out at the mercenary with both feet at their torso. This drove the air straight from the mercenary's gut, causing all four of their limbs to lose grip on the line - sending them plummeting towards the end of it, until the safety catch on their belt caught them, suspending them belly-up and spread-eagle, hanging ten meters off of the surface of the bridge, a teeming throng of civilians shouting in indifferent panic as they looked on. With nothing else left to do, the skull-faced man sighed as he began to quickly ascend to the catwalk.

Halfway back up the line, a sudden chiming sound came from the detonator - looking down to it, Anhur could see that the head of a stop-watch appeared to have been adhered to the side of the detonator, right below the safety cap - and from the look of its digital read, the countdown had just reached zero. Nothing appeared to have come of it though - so perhaps it had just been a margin timer, something there to instruct the holder when they should detonate the bombs -

In the distance, to the Northeast and over the river, there was a chattering sequence of explosions across the Sicily bridge - Anhur watched, suspended from the rapelling line, as the neighboring bridge's support columns, suspension cabel anchors, and central archway were engulfed in luminous bursts of light, followed by occluding hazes of smoke. Distant, keening reverberations of shearing metal filled the air as the whole superstructure slowly collapsed in on itself. The whole process of the bridge falling to pieces and into the water - with thousands of torn up and fiery pieces of debris from vehicles and electronics caught in the blasts falling from its crumbling throughfair like ash from a pyroclastic cloud - took the better part of perhaps forty-five seconds.

Watching on in horror that his assumptions about the helicopter were right but the scale of what happened, Anhur gritted his teeth in anger and began to quickly climbed to the top. Once at the top, he quickly walked over to the dead mercenary, the knife lodged in their throat, and ripped the knife out. His knife now back in hand, he turned and walked back towards the rapelling rope and looked down to see what the man on the line was doing.

Which was evidently nothing - he appeared to be unconscious, or else too exhausted to try and recover from his predicament. Although from the looks of things, some of the bystanders below were already trying to stand on top of the parked vehicles beneath him to try and reach up towards him. Even if he did not move on his own, he would not remain there for long.

Anhur looked on. On the one hand, the bridge was secured from a potential disaster and there was already a mercenary in their possession that the fate of the mercenary down below was inconsequential. On the other hand, he remembered what he saw just a moment ago with the other bridge. Dullahan would not be happy and the people responsible for this would see this as a victory. No, Anhur knew what he needed to do.

He needed to send a message to those responsible.

Turning back to the dead mercenary, his eyes spotted the sniper rifle and ran to grab it. Grabbing another bullet from the dead man's belt, he loaded the rifle and walked back to the edge. Leaning over the edge, he aimed the rifle at the mercenary's chest and fired down below. The shot tore straight through the mercenary's armor and out the other side, losing velocity and tumbling harmlessly onto the ground thereafter - followed almost immediately by a spray of viscera and dripping blood from the dead man's torn up cavity. From street level, the sight must have been terribly poignant and ominous.

Anhur caught sight of several people raising cameras and phones to snap shots of the body where it hung suspended in the air, still dribbling guts from the wound he shot in it. He had a feeling he would be seeing it from their point of view in the next publication that got around - or at least in the next airing of the local news. Satisfied that the message would be seen by those responsible, he returned back to the catwalk and began to walk back to the Penose he left behind, shouldering the sniper rifle as he grabbed his thrown one in the process.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Kai su teknon;

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The Mandela Effect: Part 19


Aubrey Adkins | Will Grant

Two Days Before the Arlaaekan Invasion

John Glenn International Airport

Columbus, OH

I stared out of the small, oval window while I waited for the airplane to pull up to the jet bridge and park so everyone could depart from the aircraft. Weeks ago, we had already planned to attend Will’s cousin’s wedding. It was the perfect opportunity to meet each other’s folks, as I would be dropped into the deep end at the wedding, while we were going to crash at my parent’s place so we wouldn’t have to fork up cash for a hotel room. Will and I had contemplated canceling this little trip back home to Ohio due to the weirdness that had happened to me as of late. We could have easily given an excuse for why I would not be attending the wedding. However, because we had repeatedly pushed back meeting our significant one’s parents, we felt the pressure to carry through our original commitment, despite my altered physical appearance.

Once the plane had come to a halt, almost all the passengers, or at least those with aisle seats, jumped to their feet to grab their luggage from the overhead carriers, despite the flight attendants had not yet announced they were ready for departure. Everyone was always in a hurry, either to catch a connecting flight or just to leave the airport.

Will had slipped out of his seat and acquired our bags from above, first handing my suitcase to me first before procuring his own. He then sat back down to wait until it was time to actually leave. Eventually the flight attendants announced it was time to disembark and they thanked us for flying with them today. We waited a few moments for the people in front of us to file out of the plane before we could exit our seats. When Will got out of his seat, he waited for me to slip past him before heading down the aisle.

Once we were inside the airport proper, we started to leave Concourse B until I spotted the restroom opposite of the airport’s Eddie George’s Grille.

“I better change before meeting up with your folks. I’ll be back soon,” I alerted Will as I gestured towards the restroom. He nodded and waited outside while I changed into something more presentable. I had dressed for comfort for the flight, as flying from California to Ohio is quite the trip. As a D-list celeb, if I’m even that high on the letter chart, just a pair of athletic shorts and a baggy, oversized t-shirt, along with sunglasses and a baseball cap was enough to sneak out of Pacific Point. And once outside of California, I doubted most people would recognize who I was. I swear there was one, maybe two people who did a doubletake when they saw men, as if they realized who I was. Or they were just staring for another obvious reason.

Once I was inside the women’s room, I entered one of the stalls and unzipped my carry-on suitcase. I pulled out the cutest casual dress from the suitcase. I doublechecked to make sure no tags or sales stickers were still attached to the dress. As I had not reverted back to normal, as I had hoped, I had to make an emergency shopping spree for a few outfits for this trip. Even before all the alternate reality bull crap, I already had issues finding well-fitting clothes. And this time, it was an utter nightmare, as it took me forever to find that cute dress and a few other outfits. Obviously I tried to dress incognito while shopping, although wearing an oversized hoodie in the middle of the summer might have achieved the opposite effect. Well, at least Will was a trooper and went to all the checkouts for me.

After I had finished changing into the dress, I walked in front of the bathroom mirror to doublecheck my appearance. I used my brush that I had stashed in my suitcase to tidy up my hair from wearing that baseball cap. Once I had finished brushing my hair, I threw it back into a ponytail. Speaking of my hair, I also managed to book my stylist again to get my hair under control. I was a little worried about trying to explain how my hair had grown back to its original length in a few days, but apparently she had seen weirder things in the past week. By using the rate at which my hair had regrown since my last appointment with my stylist, I had her cut it short: not quite a pixy cut, but just long enough to make a tiny ponytail. And now, my hair was back to its normal length before all the parallel reality chaos.

I did one more pass on checking my dress. Since this dress had a v-neck design, I brought a bandeau to wear underneath so the Grand Canyon wouldn’t be running down the front of the dress. Plus, I was hoping the bandeau would help mask the bra I wore underneath it being too small. I tugged up on the bandeau just to be on the safe side before I existed the restroom with everything stashed back in my suitcase.

Upon my exit, I found Will still standing in the spot I had left him. He had not noticed I had returned, as his attention was on the Eddie George’s Grille.

“I see you’re thinking with your stomach.”

“Hey, traveling makes me hungry.”

“Well, we better be going. Can’t keep your folks waiting.”

Will nodded in agreement. He took my hand and we continued down Concourse B until we exited the security check point. Once outside, we descended the escalator to the baggage claim. As we wend down, we passed under a collage made of red, blue, yellow, and cyan square titles, along with pictures of famous landmarks of Columbus, Ohio, including the Shoe, Short North, and the Columbus Zoo. Between the two escalators stood an abstract sculpture, composed of what looked like brush strokes of the same colors of the collage overhead.

When Will and I were about halfway down the escalator, I noticed a middle-aged woman waving profusely at us. Next to her stood a girl who seemed to have be around Will’s age. Although Will’s sister was holding a rectangular sign in one hand, her attention was entirely on her phone. What was weird, however, was that, even though I had never met any of Will’s immediate family before, because I have fragments of memories of them from the parallel reality Aubreys ever since my healing factor restore my normal psyche, I kind of know them, if that makes any sense.

“How long does your sister spend on getting hair to get it to be so curly?”

“She doesn’t,” Will replied.

“Wait, but you and your mom have straight hair, maybe wavy if we’re stretching the definition here. Where did she those locks?”

“She gets them honestly from my dad.”

As we continued down the escalator, I heard Will give off an audible sigh. When I turned to him, I saw he was shaking his head. I only realized what was wrong when I took a closer look at the sign his sister was holding. It read: Loser. Meanwhile, Mrs. Grant had also noticed something was amiss from her son’s facial expression and body language, along with my own confusion. She too leaned forward to see check the sign, as Will’s sister was holding it slightly in front of them. When she realized what was written on it, she gave Will’s sister a light NCIS slap on the back of her head before she took the sign out of her hand and flipped it over, revealing what it should have read: Will & Aubrey.

Once we had finally reached the ground floor, we approached Will’s mother and sister. His hurried over and embraced her son in a big bear hug.

“Oh, I missed you so much. You’re still eating well and getting enough sleep, right?”

“It has been a little more than a week since you last saw him, mom. He hasn’t gone off to grad school yet,” his sister interjected, although her glance was still directed towards her phone. Mrs. Grant, in turn, just brushed off the comment.

“Yes, mom,” Will answered as he was released from his mother’s hug. “Anyways, I know it’s probably obvious, but this is Aubrey.”

“Oh, it’s so nice to finally meet you!” Mrs. Grant exclaimed.

“I still don’t believe she’s real,” Will’s sister again interjected and again was ignored by her brother and mother.

“Sorry we haven’t done this sooner, but things late have been craz—” I started to say as I held out my hand, but I was taken by surprise when Will’s mother instead gave me a bear hug, too.

“Will did mention you two went to high school together, but I feel like I have seen you somewhere before.” Mrs. Grant suggested after she had finished giving me a friendly hug.

“From a porn magazine,” Will’s sister blurred out for the third time.

“Sarah Lee Grant. What did I say about being rude to our guest! You haven’t said one nice thing since they have arrived.”

“Um,” I spoke up to try to break the tension in the air. “We both were in the same Confirmation class in 8th grade.”

“Oh, I used to volunteer to teach religious ed classes back then. I must have seen you there.”

“So, where’s dad?” Will said in an attempt to change the subject.

“He already went to check us into our hotel. Speaking of which, you have to thank your parents for us for letting Will stay a few nights, Aubrey.”

“Wait, if dad has the car, how are you going to get there?”

“Well, we were planning to hitch a ride with you. You were planning to get a rental, weren’t you?”
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Klumsykrow357
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Muerte's attention was wrenched from the sky as a distant explosion broke through the chaos around him. It seemed to have come from somewhere on the edge of the city and he could now see the pillar of smoke rising into the sky. A building? No...the smoke wasn't the right color. He cursed to himself and started running back to his bike.

"Jesus? What the hell was that?" he panted out as he ran.

"The Sicily Bridge just...exploded!" came the shaky reply, "but I couldn't see any alien activity.

"Who the hell blows up a bridge in the middle of an alien invasion that's not an alien?!" Muerte's voice was exasperated as he finally got to his bike and mounted it.

He looked back up to the sky, trying to find the other meta he had seen before but at that moment a few of the fighter jets swept through overhead, firing several bursts of energy blasts at the ground. He narrowly avoided getting hit by diving out of the way, bike and all, and crashed through a nearby store window. An alarm blared from inside the place as Muerte picked himself up and brushed broken glass from his jacket. Grumbling to himself he stepped over his bike back out to the street and pointed the rifle skyward. He waited and sure enough they made another pass. He fired a series of rapid shots and had the satisfaction of seeing two of the crafts teeter and start falling erratically to the ground. He quickly picked up his bike and ran across the street into an alleyway. Seconds later the aliens made another sweep and obliterated the store where he had just been. Close call... Muerte waited for round three but they didn't make another pass. He breathed out a sigh of relief and rested against the alley wall while he tried to think of what to do next.

"Jesus, try to get into contact with any metas in the area. If we're going to be any good against these guys, we need to coordinate."

"I'll try..." Jesus said in a small voice.

"Let me know what you find."

Muerte turned his attention to his bike to check for damage. It definitely needed some cosmetic work but seemed structurally sound. He checked the sky once more before starting his bike and riding off to find one of the downed crafts. He was not going to pass up the opportunity see see an actual extra-terrestrial organism up close. That and if he could figure out anything about the aliens that might give them an advantage, it was worth at least taking a look.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Moondog
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Moondog

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Lost Days #1

Contested Region, Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, The Past


I awoke, sweating, on a nearly floor level bed among many. The soft sighs of dozens of young girls soft breathing, let me know that somewhere in the dark of this stone chamber there was life and that I was no longer dreaming. Then, a hand clasped my shoulder.

I cried out, and what felt like a firm hand moved over my mouth and reduced the cry to muffled complaint. A voice whispered in my ear, "It's me, Lo."

I relaxed, lowering my left elbow which had been positioned to deliver a blow to Mingmeis abdomen. As she slowly pulled her hand away from my mouth, I whispered, "Crap, you scared me Ming. Why are you even up right now?"

"Well..." Mingmei said, with a tone of mischief in her voice that always put butterflies in my stomach regardless of the contents of what she was about to say, "I was thinking that, because we'll be going out for our first assignment tomorrow, that we could take a look at that locked door in the eastern wing."

"The eastern?" I said, then with even more disbelief because of how clear my mother and father had been on the dangers of even looking upon the artifacts that lay within the room, I almost yelled, "Are you craz-" And her hand was over my mouth again.

"Quietly." she said, with obvious reproach.

When she pulled her hand back, I said, "Let's move this to the hall..."

She convinced me with her silver tongue, as always, despite my efforts to resist. We found our way to the hall not through the temple barracks normal byways, but by a secret path only accessible by touching three of the stones on a wall in the common room. It was a fairly well kept secret, in fact I'd only discovered that it existed when I had, in an effort to learn how to kiss boys, snuck the head of a statue of Yi Sun-sin that normally rested near the Temple Quarters into the rafters of the common room. Somewhere in the middle of my painfully awkward attempts to figure out what, exactly, was too much tongue, I had seen two Lotus ninja enter, at first with nothing, then leave with what appeared to be the unconscious body of Chan Ho. He was later drowned for treason.

We could see that same statue through the thin sliding panel slits that served as eyeholes to presumably, keep an eye out on fellow Lotus members. A few guards, carrying crescent mooned halberd called a Ji in my native tongue, walked by, their jade armor making gentle twinkling noises like a wind chime as the crossed the cold stone floor. I closed the slit, which to the credit of whoever had built these tunnels, was absolutely soundless.

Mingmei giggled, "Taking a look at your old boyfriend?"

If the space we were narrowly sidling our way through were any larger, I would have cuffed her. Given the limits of the space, I merely turned a bright red and said a pretty unconvincing "That never happened." And nudged her with my shoulder. It was a miracle her barely suppressed laughter didn't awaken our ancestors when we passed the burial chambers and onwards to the eastern wing.

We emerged in the morose eastern hallway, lit by green glowing crystals. Ancient banners and tapestries from long dead dynasties covered the walls from end to end. They depicted events in which The Thousandfold Lotus had taken part. There was one which I had learned the most of the real history, the true history, the history which only those who were a Petal of the Lotus would ever know. The Tianmen Massacre.

The tapestry depicted various tanks in a style that was very similar to landscapes of the five dynasties period. If you looked closely, you could see one man standing in front of those tanks. If you looked even closer and this almost required a magnifying glass, you could see the symbol of the lotus on the back of his head, made in the whorls of his hair. In the background was a golden pagoda, representing all of Buddhism. There was a small carriage, likely representing a car (some artstyles were developed in a time before they could properly represent a car, and I think the artist agreed), and in it was the Panchen Lama, depicted as a bald headed boy solemnly meditating despite the Lotus guard holding spears to his neck.

He lived here, of course. I'd met him during my initial trials into The Lotus. He seemed to be happy but I always had this sense that he felt like this wasn't where he belonged. Which, given he'd been kidnapped and forced into the Chinese equivalent of the Illuminati, I couldn't blame him for. As an aside, 9/11 was obviously an inside job, you're welcome.

Mingmei called to me, "Stop appreciating the art, we have to get this door open before another patrol passes." She was standing in front of wood and iron door. This didn't look any different than most doors, except for the large, outdated, skeleton key style plate lock that kept it closed. In Mingmeis fingers was the key which she spun with some flourish.

"Well." I said, "Open sesame!"

She slid the key into the lock and turned it with a faint click. As the door ground open, my heart felt like it dropped into my stomach. There was absolutely no light inside. From the darkness we could hear a faint humming noise, like a cable wire vibrating. I found myself leaning against Mei for support. She shoved me off, and said, "Come on! Let's see what the elders are hiding in here..."

As we entered, various green crystals lit up and we nearly lost our breathe as the light revealed a space much larger than what we thought would be on the other side. It was at least ten stories tall, impressive given its underground nature, and in the center of the room was a statue nearly as large as the room. It looked to be Lü Bu, long tassels falling behind him in majestic resplendence. He seemed to be holding the ceiling of the room from falling and given the lack of greek style pillars in the room, was likely actually doing so. There were nooks, to our left and right, and pedestals within those nooks, holding artifacts of various kinds. The cable wire noise became stronger and guided us to a particular nook in the room, becoming almost the mental equivalent of chewing on aluminum foil.

"Maybe we...shouldn't..." I said, but it was already too late. Mingmei didn't seem to be feeling the effects and was moving along like nothing had happened.

Memory is a concept I've never really had to tackle. I know intellectually that people forget, that some memories are crystallized in amber and others fade away like the midday fog. So I remember seeing Muramasa and Masamunes blades like an image burnt into my retinas. The blade that cuts and the blade that mends. One of the katanas had a black blade and the other white and they were positioned so that while one faced towards the sky, the other aimed towards the earth. Yin and yang. The noise had stopped and our hands reached to grip the weapons. I reached towards Murasamas blade, Meiming reached towards Masamunes.

I awoke in my bed, some hours later. Meiming of course greeted me and when I asked what had happened last night, she couldn't remember. But, I did remember. I remembered my hand gripping the handle of that black blade and feeling a presence. It had began to speak to me, before...before...

It wasn't that I forgot, or at least that's what I tell myself. It's more, my mind avoided the subject, slipping and sliding past it like oil on water. I could remember that an altercation had happened, had occurred, but it would be some moments later before the details would really ferment in my mind. You don't know how disturbing it is, to know you remember something but be unable to access the thought. Or maybe you do, and you just haven't realized the horror of it yet. As I dressed in my black assassins gi and I managed to collect the details required to form a clear memory, I wondered if it had all been a dream. Or, looking at a thin, faint scar on my left palm, a nightmare.
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