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Rhindeval
Image
Image”Success is no accident.
It is hard work, perseverance, learning,
studying, sacrifice, and most of all,
ove of what you are dling or learning to do.”
~Pelé

Hex Code ~ #0B610B
Aura ~ #FFBF00





Iris’s words were unsurprising. Artemisia had observed the interaction between the fairy and her Queen earlier and had quickly drawn the conclusion that the powers used to bring forth the prince’s visages belonged to that of the latter instead of the former. Thankfully, however, Artemisia did not need the member of the fae to project the images once more; she had already imprinted them within her brain, her near-photographic memory coming in handy at times like these. She also would be lying if she said that she had missed the confused looks on the women's faces as she had spoken and, with a quick deduction, she figured it was due to her french words. Clenching her jaw a bit - not in frustration or anger but simply due to the difficulty it was to avoid slipping between languages - she internally told herself to do her best when speaking to those around her to use only English.

She tapped her chin with her pencil for a moment as though thoughtful before casting a small smile in Iris’s direction, the tip of the drawing utensil now poised above the paper before her. She could not help the words that came out next, slipping into her normal speech pattern, but as she spoke she consistently reminded herself to avoid French words.”Pas de problème, all I require for help is that you look over the personifications that I draw of the princes, and then tell me where and how to make adjustments.” At that, she pulled the sheet with Appy’s likeliness displayed across it, turned the paper so that it was facing Iris correctly, and slid it across the table to the woman. Par example, if I drew his eyes too wide, or his chin too narrow, simply point said flaw out to me so I can make the correct adjustments. The goal is that we have as close to a perfect display of the princes so that when we attempt to rescue them, there is no doubt within any of our minds that the one that we approach is the correct person. Ens outre***, it can help us to possibly familiarize ourselves with any weaknesses or necessary information that we may have previously missed.”

Reaching out, Artemisia drew the book of maps a bit closer to them, flipping it open to the page that showed a large, surprisingly detailed map of their main attack point - the kingdom of Lostein. ”As for the maps of Rhindeval, that requires a bit more information on your part, but I can gather the necessary notes from you later. Right now, our main focus is to have correct outlines of each area and their towns, cities, and major landmarks. Later, however, I will wish to convene with you in order to go over any regional facts that you think are pertinent and will not be taught to us by Miss Auravale - anything that we need to know when entering those kingdoms. My goal is to compile any helpful information about each area so that we fully know what we are getting ourselves into,” she explained, absentmindedly tucking a stray hair behind her ear as she spoke.

With her explanation out of the way, Artemisia turned back to the empty sketchbook before her and, without another word, she set to work.

They continued like this for some time - Artemisia sketching out what began as crude outlines and blobs but rather quickly accumulated into beautiful, albeit simple, drawings of each of the princes. Once she had finished, she began to slowly go through each image’s details with iris, and when the fairy pointed out anything that she may have missed or incorrectly personified, the younger woman simply circled the spot and with a small arrow wrote the notes with a delicate hand. It was quick work weeding through the missed details, and before they knew it, they were already onto the maps. This work went far more quickly than the prince’s portraits, as maps require far less detail and work than human faces, and before she knew it an hour had passed. It had been quite some time since she had devoted a straight hour to drawing, and Artemisia could feel her neck chiding her for doing so as well as her back and hand. Setting down the significantly smaller pencil, she flexed her fingers a few times, the ache slowly receding into a numbness. That she could handle - the pain, however, was another story. She was a baby when it came to her pain tolerance, but she forced back the grimace that threatened to break across her face, instead opting to stand and stretch her arms above her head, at the same time doing a few twisting motions with her body. Her chair slid back with a soft clatter, and once she was satisfied with her stretching, her hands found places on her hips. She rolled her neck as she focused her gaze once more on Iris.

Merci beaucoup****, Miss Iris. I appreciate all of your hard work and help, and once I am able to, I plan to pay back the favors that you have done us all tenfold,” she promised. Artemisia moved to begin gathering her supplies and newly-crafted drawings. ”I will work on the edits that you suggested and if you are alright with it, I will visit your room once I am done for your final approval,” she quarried with a hesitant smile, clearly not entirely comfortable with simply inviting herself over. She flicked a look over at Aurora, who had for the most part remained quiet while they worked, and Sia fidgeted a bit in nervousness. That is, if it is alright with you as well."


Pas de problème* ~ Not a problem
Par example** ~ For example
Ens outre*** ~ In addition
Merci beaucoup**** ~ Thank you so much

Atlas City
Richard dusted off his hand (which hand thankfully managed to avoid being either boiled, incinerated, or permanently encased in metal) as the robotic attacker bounded off towards some nearby vehicles. Vehicles that, as it would turn out, acted as handy ammunition for their aggressor. As fire and metal arced their way to the beach, cascading down over the sands, Richard bolted back towards the boardwalk, diving underneath a flimsy looking patio dining table.

”RAAAAAAAAAA!! A THOUSAND CURSES ON YOU AND YOUR PROGENY! May they forever BURN IN GEHENNA!”

The beach glimmered, glinted, and shone with a newfound light as it was pelted relentlessly by the attacker. The ice-wielding hero couldn't help a little smirk at the monster's shrieking and rambling. "Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone." After taking a moment to reconsider the situation, he looked back at Vortex for a moment. "Then again... Never hear a bad word about Duos..."

Picking up the table and holding it above his head for cover, he made his way back towards the superstar.

"Feel like doing me a solid? Return some of this to sender." He nudged his head towards the shrieking insectoid.

Vic gave a nod, though didn't seem overly enthused to be taking any orders/direction. As she whipped up a massive whirlwind aimed at Inferno, Richard dropped the table and sprinted back to the fire hydrant, hopefully for his last bit of destruction of private property.

Lumps of molten metal flew back to Inferno, some splattering against him without leaving much of a mark. Not yet.

Richard held tight onto the cold red metal, ice coating its exterior as pressure built up again around the chunk he'd formed to keep this thing from bursting again. Mistakes were made, but luckily could be unmade.

And so, with an explosion of ice and water, it was unmade, and a stream of cold water jetted out in the direction of Vicky's whirlwind.

The water mixed with the wind, fire, and molten metal, and collided in the parking lot with Inferno. As the molten metal hit him, it quickly cooled, creating jagged plates that covered an eye, part of his face, and other parts of his body. They were slowing him down, but by how much?

"Devon! Think you can finish this guy off?" Now for the Trio.


_________________________________________________________________________________________


Maxwell gave a nod and a grin to Wolfram and his 'son' before making his way over to a bar area set up at the side of the room. He went to the other side of the counter, opening a minifridge to produce a cool jug of water. Placing it on top of the black with white streaks marble counter top, he poured the General a glass.

"That is quite impressive of your Empress, being able to expand as she has. But I must say I'm curious General, why form an alliance?" He maintained his smile as he began to pour himself a glass of Scotch. Maxwell rounded the bar counter once more, returning to Wolfram to hand him the drink.

"Certainly the idea isn't an unpleasant one. After all, we denizens of Earth often trend towards... Independence, you could say. Sovereignty is quite popular with us, myself included." He went back to the other side of his desk, taking a seat in the black leather and mahogany office chair.

"So I do believe an alliance would be beneficial to Earth of course, and myself especially. The expertise, resources, and possible information it could offer would be indispensable! But again, returning to my earlier question, why choose the path of alliances? Why not simply continue the conquests?" The Shape quirked an eyebrow to signal his curiosity in his guest, and his superiors.

Amrith
Max Carson
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outfit. #003366.
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xxx When Rome's In Ruins, we are the lions
xxx Free of the colosseums
xxx In poison places, we are anti-venom
xxx we're the beginning of the end

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XXXXMax pulled and pushed herself so she was up sitting against the dumpster. She was basically a sitting duck. Her martial arts lessons didn't mean shite with one working leg and being on the ground. If she was lucky she could kick out a knee or hit a groin but that depends on how much padding they're wearing. She contemplated throwing a punch when she heard Willow's voice. She visibly deflated and ran her shaking hands nervously through her hair. "Thank you. I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do. I was with Theo and her friends but we parted ways and it was just the two of us and I told her to go, but then I was by myself and I don't have any real abilities so all I could do was hide and I was so scared and--" She stopped herself, realizing that not only was she spilling her thoughts to someone who was still basically a stranger, but also talking herself into a spiraling hole of anxiety and was moments away from a panic attack so...

Instead, she looked at Willow a moment and just repeated, "Thank you."

She took a deep breath and pushed up with one leg, her right hand was on the brick wall of the building next to her and her back pushed against the dumpster. It took some work and maybe even some help but she managed to stand. She steeled herself for walking, praying that maybe if she just pushed through no one would notice the limp from her useless leg. And maybe it would help whatever it was to wear off.

"Do you mind helping me find Theo?" She took one step forward and nearly crumpled to the ground. Her left leg was useless beneath her. She couldn't feel anything from just below her knee and down. Couldn't so much as flex her foot. Panic rose in her. She swallowed her frustration and tried to stand again. "I have to find Theo." She didn't care how pathetic she probably looked to the stranger. She just couldn't continue to sit around being useless. She'd say something for heroes, most of them had abilities and those abilities made it a hell of a lot easier to rescue people.


Roseville
sofia wolfgang.
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outfit. #710C04.
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xxx popping, popping balloons with guns
xxx getting high off helium
xxx we paint white roses red
xxx each shade from a different person's head

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Sofia was expecting to be dismissed, sent back home while the Holloway’s obviously planned their reactions to the Wolfgang and the fake Little Red causing chaos. But when Arthur said she would be staying, she was shocked. This was not part of the plan. “Wait, but I-” She was cut short when Arthur spoke again, stopping the words from leaving her mouth, insisting that she stays. Before she could try to argue again, Leon got up and held out her hand. Sofia let out a sigh. “Thank you for the hospitality.” She replied following Leon out, knowing it wouldn’t be good to argue at the moment, but also knowing she had to leave soon.

As Leon and Sofia got a bit farther away, he stopped them for a moment and spoke, saying she’d have to stay. She let him finish before speaking. “No. I have to go Leon. It’s not good for me to stay.” Sofia wanted to continue to argue, but as they took a moment and stared at each other, she knew she was defeated at this point, she just squeezed his hands. “Fine. But I’m leaving as soon as possible in the morning, I don’t like this.” She said, and just in time Olivia came by, offering to give Sofia something to change out of the dress for, and walk her back to Leon’s room. Mentioning she had to go with her parents to deal with some stuff. Sofia accepted and told Leon she would see him in a moment.

“So, what’s going on? Is it something with the Wolfgangs? Leon has only told me so much, and I see what goes on in the news, plus my father pays them protection money.” Sofia tried to get some information. “A bit like that. But you’ll be safe here. Leon know’s we take care of those close to us.” She flashed a smile to Sofia. And they say keep your enemies close Sofia thought to herself, walking alongside Olivia. As they got to her room Olivia quickly went to her wardrobe, digging through a few things before tossing her a lightweight hoodie and some leggings, a more comfortable outfit instead of the dress she was wearing. “I’ll want those back, so take care of them girl.” Olivia teased. “No worries! Maybe we can drag the boys to the diamond and play some softball. Girls vs Boys.” Sofia and Olivia laughed a bit as they heard to Leon’s room.

Their phones seemed to go off at the same time, Olivia excusing herself for her parents and heading back to the main room, and Sofia headed into Leon’s room looking at a message from her mother, and quickly telling her what was going on. Sofia didn’t get a message back, but saw it was opened and seen. Her mother wasn’t happy. She jumped a bit when a voice came from behind her, but saw it was just Leon. “Well… we got a bit of time I guess. I would ask for a tour of the manor, but not sure if that’s allowed now. Maybe watch a movie or two?” Sofia spoke, grabbing Leon and pulling him onto the bed with her, giving him a kiss.

Earth

Earth Owner: Ahala_Saas

"I got close to him somehow we managed to disappear and sneak up on me bastard was grinning ear to ear he set off some kind of explosive I've never seen anything like it black flame filled the entire room I'm surprised everybody's not dead when I came to the guy was gone and half the market was on fire luckily everyone banded together a managed to get the flames under control but they're still seems like there was a lot of casualties" said the agent

Boston
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Victor had never been good with alcohol. Being a child of a police officer and criminal defense attorney didn't mean he didn't have access; in fact, the liquor supply was open once he turned fifteen, as his parents preferred to monitor his alcohol intake at home rather than having it come from an untrustworthy source. His father drank frequently at the house with his police buddies, who would tell Victor to grab a beer for himself while he was getting some for the officers. His mother also had wine at dinner, whenever they were all home to actually have a family dinner. However, that did not correlate to a high tolerance.

Once he was in college and had access to whatever he wanted, it was proven then that his tolerance truly was one of the worst. His college buddies called him "One Pint", as the moment Victor had a drink in him, he was just as loose as the guys in the Dynasty had seen at Theo's party. He was the student most likely to show up to class hungover on Friday and Monday mornings. Tonight was no different, having gone off his wits from a few glasses of wine. But as Theo started to pour his first shot, Victor was losing any remaining influence of alcohol. A part of him wanted to grab a different bottle, keep the warmth and confidence of tipsiness, but he needed to know if the feelings that had bubbled up tonight and other nights were just as strong in sobriety. "I'm not naïve enough to believe that I could get the boss wasted," Victor answers Theo's commentary in a teasing tone, matching his devilish grin as he watches Theo take the shot.

It was surprising enough that Theo took even one shot in front of him. It was more surprising when Theo's hand lifted for another shot, spouting a compliment towards Victor as he did. It was the first time since drinking that Victor's face went red from something Theo said rather than the alcohol. It was the first compliment that left from Theo's lips, at least the first directed at Victor. He chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. "And I thought you were flirty before the alcohol..." Victor said, mostly to himself. It still felt so new, getting this treatment from Theo, especially a compliment like that - without any criticism following. With a clearer head, the question from dinner came back to mind: why Victor?

When Theo set the glass down, Victor had half a mind to see if he could get Theo to have more. But, not only had the bottle he held in his hand run empty, Theo wasn't a man that could be persuaded by Victor. Even if they were being more personable in the comfort of Theo's home, this was his boss, and someone who could be terrifying when he wanted to be. And once Victor saw the bit of pink coloring Theo's cheeks and ears, it distracted him from further thought of more alcohol.

He followed Theo up to his bedroom, feeling the flittering nerves in his stomach again. The shade that Theo's face had taken on, plus the jacket discarded to the bed, his mind was running a mile a minute trying to figure out what Theo expected from tonight. His eyes stopped scanning the tidy room and landed back on Theo when he offered his clothes - and to help him change.

The offer flustered him just as much as it had when he was shot and couldn't undress himself, even if the help wasn't needed. Thinking of Theo's hands on his bare skin, touching more intimate places, it stopped Victor from answering for a longer pause than he should have. "Now I think you just like undressing me," Victor tried to tease, but the laugh that followed and his unsteady voice proved his nervousness more than anything. He was very much out of his element here, but the longer he lingered with Theo's attention solely on him, he wanted to stay here for as long as he could enjoying Theo's company and his lips in particular.

Victor stepped closer, leaning against the wall as Theo shuffled through his closet. "I would prefer not to sleep in my slacks... but I'm surprised you haven't sent me home. Am I that good of a date then?" Victor's confidence peeked through, a smirk forming on his face.

Wing City
A newcomer had just arrived from the grassy lands nearby. It was a lithe looking young woman, whom was sitting gracefully in the plaza. Perhaps her most noticeable feature, besides her shoulder length raven black hair, was the blindfold around her eyes. She was blind from birth, her gaze nonexistent as she seemed to look at nothing in particular.

Beside her, a massive raptorian animal was standing tall. It was taller than even most tall men, so compared to her this bird-like dinosaur was gigantic. On its homeworld of Xamoyos it was known as a peloronychus and was a fiercely aggressive predator, with her however it was tame and even seemed to view her as a friend. He was quite a vain beast, preening its feathery coat at every opportunity.

Southern Grazing Lands
Ezrael stared at Nadya as he listened, a blank expression on his face as if he were merely reading a passage from a book, then finally he nodded. "If your matron is displeased with your disappearance, I can have a talk with her, and a talk on the matter of temporary accommodation for N'dal. And if she will not have him, he will have to stay with me for the time being, though I imagine he probably wouldn't like seeing my face too much. People rarely do."

His attention turned once more to N'dal, though he continued to talk to Nadya, as understandably she could understand him where the feline could not. "Do you suppose... That there is such a thing as fate or destiny? This device was not designed by accident. it was designed to seek those with specific possessions so that should the time come, I could call them to a central location."

Always the practical, the seal over the chicken split with a gesture of Ezrael's finger, then one breast began to suddenly warm, an even heating spreading through it, cooking it quite quickly until the pink flesh cooked white. It would be far from delicious as there was no technique or flavouring, it would just be a dull plain chicken. He almost seemed absentminded, thinking on his conversation rather than his actions.

Eastern Seaboard
Mr. Ereb's jet banked over the seaboard, heading towards the coast. Emails were sent, calls were answered, and video calls were held. Meanwhile, in Solinus City, many preparations were underway.

Solinus Sea
A great emerald beam of light suddenly shot towards the sky and made contact with Sol,
coming from somewhere deep within the Collenham Mountains, elsewhere on Aslund.

Sol and Terra seemed tethered together by a thin, bright, green string.

Nebrajit

Terra Nebrajit Owner: Remæus

In the far reaches of space, a threat brewed...the Confederacy of Independent Systems had sent their scout ships out from their own home galaxy after having found a hole within the hyperspace anomaly, intending to use this as a leg up against The Republic in the Clone War.

Commanding this ship, General Grevious stood at the bridge and overlooked the sight of hyperspace. Stars passing by at intense speeds, and in the center of it all...an abyss. Lesser beings would succumb to hyperspace madness, yet he was no normal being. He considered himself superior in that regard - and if there was one thing he could thank his cybernetic replacements for, it's his desensitization to fears that would paralyze anyone else.

His voice, though modified by his cybernetics, was relatively normal in its current incarnation. "Yes...right here should be good. We're about to reach our destination."

Pulling out of hyperspace the group of three Providence-class dreadnoughts loomed over an area of Nebrajit. However, it seems their intelligence had already been intercepted long ago, and waiting for them above the atmosphere and on the surface were Republic Cruisers.

Already, as if inescapable, a fight was breaking out. Droid forces were being sent to the surface as well as Clone and Republic soldiers. General Grevious opted to personally fly down to the surface, wishing to engage in this battle...part of him was also curious and eager to see the capabilities of the locals.

The Three Titans
Karla Wender sits and looks at the horizon, pondering what to do next.

Therrier-Paix
Nearly twenty minutes after the initiation of their battle, Gingitsune and Shinku were still going at it. The once lush grounds were in ruins, left marred by the bombardment of explosives and Kido. The soulless Shinigami held a silver and gray Katana in his dominant hand, which he turned horizontally while uttering the command: "Shift, Koe o Kaeru." Unlike most releases, there was no sudden burst of Reiatsu in response to the activation of his Shikai. Once imperceptible lines along the weapon's blade suddenly became visible as sections began to unfold. The interlocking parts jutted outward, and the entirety of the Zanpakuto's original shape seemed to drift apart and grow within a few seconds; the popping of metal joints as they moved into place and an electronic system booting up filling the air around him.

Where it onced had a curved cutting edge, the sword now had two straight ones much like a Scottish Claymore. Featuring a snubbed tip, the weapon was incapable of piercing, though this was made up for by its cutting and bludgeoning potential.

"Now things are about to get interesting." uttered Kaen as he admired his companion's release, his expression showing excitement instead of the usual intimidation brought upon by Shinku's Shikai. It had become one of the most feared due to its unpredictable ability. Fancying a challenge, he decided not to release his Zanpakuto just yet. Instead he planned on testing just how long he could last until it became a necessity.

The glimmer of a sword in the sunlight against his eye as the Mannequin materialized overhead, sword poised overhead to deliver a downward strike. Kaen managed to retreat just before he was struck, allowing the land beneath his feet to bare the blunt of the attack in his place. The force tore through the ground in four directions, kicking dust and other debris into the air.

The faceless swordsman sprang forward again, engaging his target with a series of meticulous slashes. The mass and sharpness of his blade shifted randomly during the procession, making the assault that much more difficult to defend against. A well-timed burst of Kaen's Reiatsu forced Shinku to end his attack, but not without results. He had managed to deliver a diagonal slash across the captain's chest, which started to bleed shortly afterward. The now wounded Shinigami gave a nod of approval to his opponent, and shortly afterward, they clashed once more.



It appeared the two Shinigami were too engaged in their battle to notice their spectators. Far off from the makeshift arena stood a male and female. Both were relatively lean, stood around five-foot-ten and five-foot-eight, and dawned the signature mask fragment and hole shared by all upper-tier Hollows. They remained eerily silent as they watched the partners from a distance, paying close attention to the abilities and tactics used. This continued for several minutes until the felt they had seen enough. The twin Adjuchas each waved one hand horizontally, tearing a rift in the current dimension so they could return to Hueco Mundo.

Moments later, Shinku and Kaen halted their attacks. They knew exactly what the other was thinking. "It just appeared and then disappeared right afterward." Kaen said while striking his head, he was puzzled. It was obvious that someone was masking their Reiatsu, but what was the point of briefly unveiling it? Did they want us to know they were there? he mused.

"I think it's best that we retire for today." suggest Shinku, to which Gingitsune nodded his head. Once it had been decided, the two men vanished in unison.

Aslund

Terra Aslund Owner: Remæus

Meteor flickered emerald and nyoomed off west

Titan's Fall
*STHSTHSTH* "You put meathouses on Mrs. Gertrude's grocery?" Asked Rat with a confused hiss as Mr. McManshape took to the roof. "She sells meat-meats, and breads you know!" Rat called after him, and then sneezed. "Very kind, she is. Helps Rat in needs, she does," Rat explained, a bit quieter to Maire.

"A'ch, Rat! Dinnae ye 'ave me package or nae?" Called a brusque female voice attached to a large bear of a woman with an enormous mop of curly red hair.

"Help us! Rat is being oppressed!" Screeched Rat suddenly, as he scurried behind her. She rolled her eyes.

"An' who's oppressin' ye todae, lad?"

"The Templars have come! Oh Gods! Oppressed into service, my reputations!" Spluttered Rat.

"Oh innae tha' lovely! Guests!" She clapped with a chipper expression, bouncing out to meet Maire. She seemed incredibly light on her feet, considering she towered head and shoulders over the Templar, and had twice the width. "Templar(s)...?" She questioned, turning back to Rat after looking around for a bit.

"Other is securing tributes from your roofs," Rat explained meekly. The woman turned slowly towards the roof with a raised eyebrow.

"Ah. Tha'd be why Cuilean rushed up in such'a tizzy, innae then?" She watched the rooftop for a moment while clucking her tongue in thought. "Whelp, they're probably fine... unless 'e got The Gift," she muttered cryptically, snatching a package swiftly out of Rat's hands and showering him with a fist full of coins, suddenly unconcerned with the fate of the second Templar. She pressed it to her face and inhaled deeply. "Ah, real coffee. Finally, come inside fer a drink," she insisted, firmly, ushering Maire inside with a firm arm. She picked Rat up in a single, firm motion and slung the creature over her shoulder (to many protests) and ducked through the door to the building, which was slightly too small for her.

"Ye aswell when y'done skulkin' abound me rooftop!" She called up to the roof.

The inside of the building felt slightly larger on the inside than the building suggested, with a small area near the door containing several small, rough-hewn tables made of re-purposed chunks of concrete and salvaged wood. The chairs were rustic, but comfortable (if a bit on the large side) and the back of the room was largely occupied by a large steel door. Judging by the frost gathering on its corners, it was most likely cold storage for her wares. She quickly and expertly set a pot of coffee brewing.

Outside, as Guy McManshape descended from the rooftop, something slithered down the side of the building in absolute silence. The only trace of its presence being near imperceptible ripple of distortion in the light that it couldn't quite quell, and the silent thud of vibration through the earth as it dropped the last few feet to the ground. Until a loose piece of gravel crunched softly beneath one of its feet at least. It froze, coiled to strike at a moments notice while it observed its prey...

Father

Father Owner: The_Queen

On the Precipice

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Musical Accompaniment



Staring blankly past the artificially frosted window of his highrise apartment, in this moment, Jaden felt like the only one on the ship not watching the feed. He could see the flicker of holoscreens in adjacent buildings, their colors changing, shifting, blinking in unison like one big cloud of fireflies.

He slugged back his glass, and a cold, spiced sting filled his mouth. The ice cubes in his cup clattered as they collided with one another and with the glass, creating a tinkling noise that made Zorana, his maidservant, wince. It had been a long time since he had last gotten this drunk—since he had last been in this much pain.

"It's my fault, you know," he said with a slur, swiping a hand across his eyes to wipe them dry.

Zorana held her tongue. She knew that trying to defend him would only make things worse. He always won those arguments.

"I pushed her to do it," he determined, a prelude to downing his whole glass in one go. He coughed at the burning in his throat. It hurt, but he bore it. In his mind, he deserved whatever pain he now felt.

She filled his glass once more, watching helplessly as he shambled over to his chair like a zombie and collapsed into it.

On the holoscreen before him, Kore was hyping up the crowd for the countdown. Jaden glared daggers at her. Vile words struggled to try and free themselves from his lips, barely restrained by the knowledge that any criticism he could level at her would rightly apply to him as well. He swore under his breath. "I'm complicit," he murmured with a cracking voice, hanging his head in shame.

"After months of preparation, the moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally here!" announced Kore Mars, the on-screen host, chipper as could be.

Jaden clutched tight to his drink and clenched his teeth. Launching up from his seat, he shouted at the screen, "Yeah, I bet the mutes on the surface can't wait. They're about to die and you're...[hic]...wearing that stupid grin, you worthless waste of air! At least I have the decency to feel bad about it!"

With that, he hurled the glass at the holoscreen with all his might, which it phased through to smash against the wall. As the glittering shards tumbled to the floor, Jaden panted with fury, grimacing at the screen.

"Without further ado, let's begin the countdown!"

His rage turned inward once more, and he collapsed to his knees. He clutched at his white hair, gripping his head firmly with both hands. His gaze fell to the floor. "Oh God, I can't watch," he wept.

Avoiding the glass, Zorana carefully stepped over to the holoscreen, ready to turn it off.

"No, don't, I..." he protested with a sniffle, "If she has to live it, I have to watch it."

She gurgled with pity as he sat and listened, seeing him crumble a little more with each passing second. By the time Kore reached zero, Jaden's forehead was nearly at his knees.

"Mrrstrr," she finally spoke up, unable to hold back her concern.

"Put her on," he demanded. "I need to see."

Zorana hesitated. The screen displayed a bird's eye view of the battlefield, which had devolved into a slaughter. Screams and cries mingled with the sound of gunfire and the roar of hoverbikes. The squall lost voices with each passing moment. Those who died quickly were lucky.

"Put her on!" he shouted again, cocking his head upward to force himself to look at the screen.

Relenting, she tapped at the holoscreen's controls, selecting Ljilja's camera. Jaden's red eyes grew wide with horror.

He saw the girl he had taken care of for the past week curled up in the corner, her nose bloodied, her small body hyperventilating. She was directionless, paralyzed with fear, overwhelmed with the sound of suffering and death. It took one last blood-curdling wail for Ljilja to rise up and run for her life, barreling out from her compartment at full speed.

"Go," he urged, "Go!"

He focused his whole attention on the screen. For a few moments, so did Zorana. Together, they watched Ljilja equip her Longjacks, grab her supplies, and take off running without her bike.

Stunned, Jaden remained sitting on the floor, his hands dangling limply at his sides. Zorana, lucid and focused on her duty, recovered sooner, and got to work cleaning up the shattered glass and supplying him with a new drink. Before he knew it, she was presenting him with a fresh cup, full of ice and rum.

He took hold of it, his eyes glazing over. He mindlessly sipped at his glass until it was gone, received a top-up, and soon he found himself back in his chair without ever having made the conscious decision to return there. His glass was emptied and refilled, and time blended together. He stared at the holoscreen almost unblinkingly until he saw his little blue mutant unite with each of her allies and begin traversing the Wastes with them.

He shut his eyes, breathing a sigh of relief. It was only now that he noticed a persistent pulsing sound emanating from his wrist holo. He sluggishly tapped at it to see what was going on, then squinted at the interface.

506 similar messages not shown.
Neve: hey
Aries: hey
Neve: hey
Neve: hey
Aries: hey
Aries: hey
Neve: hey
Aries: hey idiot
Neve: hey
Neve: hey
Aries sent a location.
Neve: hey
Aries: get over here we're waiting
Neve: hey


Groaning with effort, Jaden wiped his face and held out his holo so that Zorana could see what had been sent. After reading it, she looked to him for direction.

He let his head drift to the side and took a deep breath. He had to maintain appearances somehow. Though he was comfortable letting Zorana see this sympathetic side of him, it would ruin his reputation to be seen like this with others. The only cover he could come up with on short notice was that he was simply partying hard in private.

"Gimme that bottle," he ordered, his drunkenness robbing his speech of any tact. Zorana did not seem to mind, and obediently handed him his now-half-empty bottle of golden spiced rum. In return, he handed her his glass so that he could free a hand to push himself up from his chair.

He took one last long look at the team of mutants on the screen and muttered, "...I'm gonna need a ride."

Pennsylvania
SUMMER.
Friday, July 5, 1974 | 6:30 pm | Carlisle, Pennslyvania


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Outside of Trevor Larcome’s home, preparations for that night’s party were well under way. A small group of young men were clustered inside and out, walking to and from their cars as they unloaded refreshments of all sorts, including several kegs of alcohol. Stephen struggled with the bottom half of the last keg, carrying it into the dining room with Trevor’s older brother Dylan, a bead of sweat dripping down his temple. Grunting with the strain, they placed it up onto the table, Dylan making quick work of setting it up as Stephen wiped the sweat off with the back of his hand. The heat was starting to get to him, making him wish he hadn’t gotten dressed up before he got here.

“Thanks a lot for doing this for me man, I really appreciate it.” Dylan said, clapping a hand on his shoulder.

Stephen relaxed into the touch, his laughter nothing but a huff of air, “Hey, no problem.” His smile was shy, tucked away, but he still met his friend’s gaze all the same. “You can pay me back by letting me borrow some clothes.” Lifting his arm, he took a quick whiff underneath them, making a show of it, “Ugh. God damn, and a shower.”

Dylan snorted and dropped his hand to his side, “Yeah sure man, you know where my room is.”

With a nod of gratitude, Stephen retreated upstairs, walking all the way down the hall and to the left. This wasn’t his first time at the Larcome home, and he hoped it wouldn’t be the last. He and Dylan had met during orientation, when they were being assigned to their professors at Penn State. While Stephen had to work with the only professor accepting of his skin color, Dylan got to work alongside one of the top lawyers in the state. Professor Mahaffey had his own law practice and used the college to recruit interns for his company; it was considered a huge honor to be selected for his programs. Dylan had been one such student, and now he’s helping him teach Mahaffey’s class while also maintaining a full-time position as a licensed attorney. Stephen may have been top of his class, but he was never selected for the program. He'd approached Mahaffey about it, even. Asked him why he hadn’t been considered, if there was something he should work on in order to become a better lawyer someday. He’ll never forgot what the man told him.

“Such a shame about his daughter-…”

A voice very similar to his broke Stephen out of his reverie, an immediate feeling of dread crashing over him like a wave. His gaze slowly rose to the bathroom mirror, its surface clouded with the steam from the shower he’d just taken. Maybe he was just hearing things, he thought. That had to be it. It was just in his head.

“We both know that’s not quite true”

There it was again — that voice — and this time Stephen could see something moving in his obscured reflection. With a trembling hand he brought his palm to the surface, swiping his hand across in one swift motion. His own eyes stared back at him, his face and body unmoving just as a normal reflection should. He met his own terrified gaze and let out a shaky breath, straightening himself to stand at full height.

Maybe I’m hearing things after all,’

It was as this thought passed through his head and his gaze dropped to the towel in his hands that he saw something move in his periphery. His heart dropped, his blood ran cold, and his eyes slowly lifted to see his reflection sneering back at him. He saw his own face looking back at him, but it wasn’t really him. His expression was all wrong, leering at him with thinly veiled contempt, looking down on him as if they weren’t the same person; maybe they weren’t the same person. Perhaps they were just two souls locked in the same body.

They locked eyes for a moment, Stephen’s throat closing with trepidation as he continued to hold his own gaze. Nothing good ever came from seeing him. Stephen tore his gaze away to finish drying off.

” This is a waste of time.”

His reflection stared back at him in the mirror as he ran the towel over his wet body, completely motionless, even as Stephen turned to hang it up and gather his borrowed clothes. It never moved when he moved, his reflection, and a part of him knew that it was all in his head – a visual manifestation of his other self. Stephen tried to ignore him, looking down as he pulled on a pair of briefs, continuing to ignore the voice in his head as it spoke, “What are you doing at a college party, anyway?” His reflection asked, its voice dripping in venom, “You’ve graduated, remember? We should be dedicating ourselves to far more important things.”

“What you consider important and what I consider important are two different things.” he said, attempting to remain civil. “Dylan is a friend and he asked me to come. This’ll be good for me. It could be good for both of us,” he glanced at his reflection quickly, a small shrug of his shoulders punctuating his reflection’s look of utter disdain. “Give it a chance, you might have fun.” Nearly fully dressed, Stephen turned his back on his reflection, bending down to pick up a pair of socks and his shoes. One would think, if he had his back to the mirror, his reflection would no longer be able to harass him. Of course, that never stopped it before.

“I haven’t had fun in almost a week, Stephen!” His reflection retaliated, facing him as it shouted against the glass. “While you’re pissing your time away assisting some old fuck who can’t even muster the strength to teach his own class, I’m stuck here! Wasting away in your intrusive thoughts and pointless anxieties. Do you know how hard it is to be inside your head? How annoying it is?” Stephen turned, shoes and socks in his hand, giving the mirror a hard look. He’s tried to hold his own against his other self so many times; he’d thought that he’d gotten better at it. Yet, here he stood, looking at a man that was both him and not, trying to make it through yet another verbal lashing. “Without me you would be nothing. You can try and pretend all you want but you know it’s true. So while you’re out there getting drunk with a bunch of white boys just remember that I’ll be watching you. I’ll make it out again eventually and when I do-… one of these people will die.”

Stephen had had enough. Turning out of the bathroom, fear clutching at his spine, the young man slammed the door behind him. He tugged his socks and shoes on in the hall, his eyes glistening with tears he barely held back. When he stood, he leaned up against the wall, collecting himself with a few deep breaths, clinging to the noises downstairs as a distraction. The first of the guests were starting to arrive, a group of the brothers’ closest friends who hadn’t bothered to show up early enough to help set up. Stephen took his glasses off briefly, rubbing at his face, before pushing them up the bridge of his nose. He could do this. After all, it was just another party. Pushing himself off the wall, Stephen descended the stairs, the threat from his other self looming over his head.

Scarlet Devil Mansion
there doesn't seem to be anyone around here...

Kanto Region


July 19th
Ana's House - Mid Morning - Humid
Eryk Nero


Eryk sighed, running a hand through his hair to shake the strands loose. He wasn't getting enough sleep as of late, and it was always worse after his interactions with Marah. The woman was insistent on getting him married, and he was tired of arguing with her. She wanted to have her way, but he wasn't going to let her. He'd had enough of her, but he shoved the thoughts to the back of his mind as best as he could. He needed to focus on what he was doing, now.

He'd been told the night before to wake early and meet Kasimir and Cyrilla at the courthouse. He wasn't entirely sure why, but he could speculate. After all, it wasn't just him that they were meeting. It was all of them; all of their friends, and Cyrilla had asked them to dress semi formal. He'd chosen a pair of grey slacks with a matching vest over a black long sleeve shirt as his attire. He'd rolled the sleeves up to his elbows, and was currently fiddling with the tie. It was the only color he had, being a deep red. He sighed in a frustrated manner, though, before letting the tie hang loosely around his neck.

“Ana," he called out, moving from his room to find her. He wanted to see if she could help him with his tie since he was too tired to make much more of an effort, and they needed to leave soon.

He found her in her room, albeit with the door wide open. It seemed she was fiddling with the ribbon tie at the neck of her light blue dress—he believed they were called skitty bows for some reason. Large and soft, in this case made of what looked like a silk ribbon that also lined the tea-length hem of the dress, which was a simple handkerchief skirt with a closer fit at the top.

She dropped it as he appeared in her doorway, the ends falling to lay neatly on her left shoulder. "Eryk," she greeted, the word soft and gentle on her tongue. "Tie troubles?"

Not waiting for him to confirm, she approached, white lace flats making no noise on the rug over her bedroom floor. She stood on her toes to reach properly, tying with competence if not precisely expertise. She had to smother a yawn at the end of it, and fell back onto her heels with a wry smile, setting a hand lightly on the scarred side of his face. "You're tired," she observed. "It's… your visitor, isn't it?"

He hummed softly for a reply as he closed his eyes and pressed a little further into the palm at his cheek. “My mother is... relentless," he spoke softly with a sigh. “She has not given up, and I don't think she's going to do so any time soon."

He would be surprised if she did. The woman was a krookodile, and wouldn't give up so easily once she had her jaws on something. “I think," he began, a small smile forming on his lips, “that once she leaves, I'll be able to get some rest." Although that was relative to what rest actually meant for someone like him. He took a deep breath and turned so that he could place a gentle kiss on the palm of her hand.

He still firmly believed he didn't deserve what she gave him, however; he was trying, slowly, to convince himself that he did. She was... becoming more important to him than anything he could think of, and he wasn't sure when that truly began.

“I'm thinking about suggesting to the others that we take a break after this and go camping somewhere. What do you think?" because Arceus knew they needed a break away from whatever this was. He also wanted to let her know in advance so that they could, potentially, get someone to cover the shelter while they were gone.

Ana seemed to consider this for a moment, then nodded. "I think that's a really good idea," she said, turning just a little pink in the face when his lips brushed over the palm of her hand. "I'll have to work out a volunteer schedule and someone to live at the house for a bit to watch things while we're gone, but I think I can manage that."

Shifting forward, she wrapped both arms around his middle and gave him a gentle hug. "Make sure you pack some comfy things for the tent so you can get good sleep," she advised, then pulled back to look back up at his face. "Not, um, not that you're ever not handsome, but… I think this is the kind of event that might mean pictures. Do you want me to use a little bit of concealer under your eyes, just in case?"

He huffed lightly at her sugestion. “It wouldn't be the first time I've had concealer on," he muttered softly. After the photo shoots, Ryk was almost certain he was used to being in front of the camera and wearing some form of make up. “Perhaps it would be best," he replied, pulling back from her albeit begrudgingly.

“We should head out, after," he added. He didn't want to be late to whatever it was Kas and Cy were doing, after all.

"Of course." Anastasia smiled, ducking into the bathroom attached to her room, and reappearing with a small, seldom-used from its condition, makeup bag. A quick application of concealer later, and they were ready to go.

It didn't take long to get much of anywhere on Cinnabar Island, and the courthouse was no exception. "Should we split up?" she asked. "I suppose Cyrilla and Kasimir both might need a bit of checking on, and I'm not sure if the others are here yet."

He furrowed his brows a bit, pursing his lips together in the process. “That might be best. I think that's Aidan's bike over there," he stated, shifting his head in the direction of a black bike. It was a small possibility that it could be Aidan's, but then again it could be someone elses. Ryk's muddled mind couldn't make much difference between them.

“I'll go see if I can find Kas if you want to find Cy?" he asked, arching a brow at her. “They shouldn't be too far, I wouldn't think." For all he knew they could be running late. It would be rare if they were, but he couldn't say for sure. Maybe Kas was in the bathroom? Seemed like a plausible place to check first.

"I think that's a good idea," Ana agreed readily. If she noticed his muddled state, she was polite enough not to mention it. Standing on her toes, she gently kissed his cheek. "Come find me if you need anything. I'm checking the reception area for Cyrilla." Squeezing his hand, she let go, and headed in first.

It was quite strange to him, the feeling he felt when he watched her leave. He didn't want her to leave, but he also knew that she would be back. Shaking his head to himself, Ryk made his way towards the bathrooms. He didn't find Kas there, and five minutes into his search, he came to the courtroom itself. It was empty except for Kasimir and Aidan. He seemed to be in the middle of a conversation with Aidan, and Ryk made his way towards the other two men.

“Kas, Aidan," he greeted. Judging by their attire, Ryk could vaguely assume what was going on.

Kas was wearing perhaps the nicest suit Eryk had ever seen him in. It was white, but the shirt he wore with it was actually a fairly understated dark green, and his vest and tie were both black, as were his belt and shoes. He'd neatened his short hair for the occasion, and looked strangely nervous, for Kas.

Aidan paused him in his fidgeting with a hand on his shoulder to straighten his tie. The older man was attired in black as usual, the same suit he'd worn to court the last time. "Relax, Rheinallt. You're not second-guessing your decision, are you?"

"No. Just…" Kas waved both hands around, which looked rather odd with Aidan still re-knotting his tie.

"Just nothing, then. You know your reasons are the right ones. You still feel the same about it. You're just nervous because nothing's happening yet."

Kas gave him an incredulous look. "Or, you know, because of the million other ways this could go wrong."

"I don't think she's gonna care if you snore, peon."

Ryk furrowed his brows heavily. Kas was nervous, dressed in a nice suit as was Aidan.

Oh.

“So I see you're actually going through with it." Everything clicked into place: Kas was actually going to marry Cy to solve the dilemma. Ryk might have caught on to it, earlier, if he hadn't been so damn tired and drained. “I suppose that explains... this," he gestured his arms to the courtroom. He turned his attention back to Aidan and Kas, though, and offered a half smile, or about as much of one that he could muster.

“Aidan might be right about that, though," he stated, tilting his head slightly. “Might as well get whatever else is on your mind before the others show up. What else is bothering you?" Ryk couldn't say that he was all that great at offering comfort or advice, but Kas was his friend, and he wanted to at least try to ease his nerves.

Rather than picking up the thread of the conversation, both of his friends regard him with open surprise, and a little concern, less obvious on Aidan than Kas but present nonetheless.

"You okay, Nero? Pretty sure they didn't forget to mention what this was."

Ryk rolled his eyes softly. “Define okay," he murmured before shaking his head. “They did, but I forgot until just a moment ago," he replied smoothly. “Kas is getting married, and it's apparently making him nervous. Did I forget anything else?"

He was almost certain he didn't, but it didn't bother him too much if he did. He wasn't, after all, the one getting married. His lips twitched slightly, though, as he regarded Kas for a moment. “You know, you really didn't have to do this," he started, reaching over to pat Kas's shoulder, “but I'm glad you are, even if it seems you're shitting bricks about it."

"Shi—hey fuck you, man." The oath was accompanied by a light laugh, though. "I'd tell you to try it and see how it feels, but I guess there's no reason for you to get real-fake married to someone to stop their shitty family from marrying them off to someone else. No offense."

Ryk shrugged his shoulders and replied, “none taken." He knew better than most how his family was archaic as hell. There was a faint smirk on his face, though. “Might have been easier if you'd just married me, but I'm not the one who needed your help."

Aidan huffed softly.

Kas on the other hand, grinned much more like his normal self. "I would have, for the record. If you needed me to. Sadly, I'm going to be off the market now. Guess you'll just have to ask boss when it's your turn."

"Eh, it'd work, but Katia would hate him even more."

“Might as well give her one more reason," was his simple reply. He was about to say something else, however; the sound of the door opening caused him to turn in that direction. Drake made his way towards the three of them, grinning broadly like a particularly happy lillipup. He was dressed in a crisp, dark blue suit, a pair of black shoes, and a coral colored tie. It looked... much like something Drake would wear regardless of the occasion.

“Hey guys," he greeted when he was closer. Ryk nodded in Drake's direction as his way of greeting. “The girls are on the way, but Cy wanted you to meet her outside, Aidan," he stated, still grinning. Ryk arched a brow, but didn't say anything. He supposed she wanted to talk to Aidan about something.

Nev walked through the doors, next, smiling excitedly to herself, it seemed. She was wearing a chiffon-styled pale blue dress, one that seemed to be off shoulder and knee length. The black stiletto heels that accompanied the dress had what looked like a small ribbon tied around the top part of her ankle. Her hair was pulled back into just a simple tail, with her bangs swept to the side.

“Oh, this is so exciting. My little brother is getting married," she stated, nearly beaming at Kas. “You look so handsome, too. You as well, Eryk," she stated, causing Ryk to nod his head.

“You look nice as well," he replied. Not as nice as Ana did, but that might have been his bias.

Aidan headed out, apparently unsurprised by this request, passing by Ana and Mel in the doorway. The latter, in keeping with what seemed to be a trend for the women, was wearing light blue. Hers was a halter-necked gown with a layer of soft lace over the main dress, which was to her knees in the front and longer in the back. Her shoes were white, like Ana's, but heeled instead of flat.

They both made their way over to the rest, Mel hugging Kas briefly. "Well I can't say I ever planned to see this day," she said with a small laugh, "but here we are."

"I'm full of surprises," Kas replied dryly.

A different door opened, this one admitting the judge, who blinked at them with recognition. He was the same one from Aidan's trial, and wore a small smile. “It seems I will be presiding over a much nicer occasion for you all this time," he said, sounding a little amused. “Which of you is Kasimir?"

Kas raised his hand, then stepped forward to shake the judge's. "Nice to see you again, Your Honor," he replied, his smile a touch sheepish.

“So it is."

Ryk huffed lightly, the left side of his lip twitching just slightly. It would have been a nicer occasion if this were an actual marriage, and not a real-fake one, as Kas had put it. He wasn't, however, going to let that thought dampen his mood. All that mattered was that it was going to get Marah off of their backs, and out of Cinnabar Island, or at least he hoped it would. The doors opened once more, catching Ryk's attention. Cyrilla was standing next to Aidan, which seemed to explain why she'd called him earlier, with a sheepish smile on her face.

He couldn't see from how far they were, but he thought there might have been a faint blush on her cheeks. It might have also been make up, he wouldn't be able to tell unless he was closer. She was dressed in a simple, mint green dress, chiffon in style with flutter sleeves. Her hair was parted to the left with a single braid wrapping around towards the back. It looked like she had a lavender butterfree pin holding it all up. She said something to Aidan before they made their way to where Kas was standing.

Whatever she said made the usually-stoic man smile, just a little, and shake his head faintly.

“Looks like everyone is here," Ryk murmured, moving to stand next to Ana. He reached for her hand and gently took it, keeping his gaze fixed on the three people in front of him. The sooner they did this, the sooner they could breathe.

Ana gave his hand a squeeze in return, smiling softly as Cyrilla and Aidan made their short procession down to the area in front of the judge. Aidan shifted away, allowing Kas to reach out and take Cyrilla's hands in his.

"Here we are," he said softly, and unless Ryk was very mistaken, there was a sort of awe to his tone, or maybe just faint disbelief.

“Hm, here we are," she replied in an almost sheepish tone. Cy gave Kas's hand a squeeze before she cleared her throat. “This is it," she stated softly, glancing towards their hands. Ryk could hear how nervous she was in the tone of her voice, but he also knew she was taking this every bit as serious.

“I just want you to know that I am really grateful to you, Kas, for doing this," she seemed to be merely whispering at this point. “So... shall we?"

Ryk felt, for a moment, a small twinge in his heart. He wasn't sure if it was a small sense of pride he felt, or if it was something else. All he knew was that, at this moment, he was truly happy for his friend and his sister. Under different circumstances, he might have even offered a celebration for them, however; this wasn't exactly the time to celebrate anything.

“Good luck," was the only thing he could offer them.

The ceremony was relatively short. Kas and Cy had opted not to make things weird by saying vows beyond those the judge asks them to swear, which aren't many. There was no kiss—Kas had made sure to add that to the request ahead of time, so they were never prompted for one. Rather, they signed the certificate, and then their witnesses did afterwards. There were more of those than usually necessary, a precaution everyone elected to take in case Cy's family decided to legally challenge and managed to get one of them invalidated somehow.

When it's all over, the group heads back outside, into the midday sun.

"So." The first one to break the silence was Mel. "What now?"

Eryk sighed softly before taking a slow breath through his nose. Even though Kas and Cy were now legally married, Marah and Cy's parents wouldn't be able to do much about trying to force Cy to marry some other clan member. Marah was going to raise Hell, Eryk already knew that much, but she couldn't do anything. Not with as many witness signatures they had and with the legal documentation that was now being filed away.

“Well, I mean, we could go get lunch?" Cyrilla suggested. Drake merely nodded along, not really paying too much attention to anything else. He seemed out of it for some reason or another. Or maybe Eryk just wasn't paying much attention to him.

“Before all of that," Ryk cut in, clearing his throat a bit. “I've a suggestion for us, given the month that it's been." He glanced towards Ana for a moment before he continued, “there's a small island located just south of Cinnabar. It's an old abandoned facility that Team Rocket no longer uses, and is mainly used for camping."

He hoped they all knew what he was trying to imply because he wasn't sure if he'd have enough energy to explain much more. Kas, Aidan, and Cy should know what he was talking about.

"The idea, I think," Ana said, stepping in to finish the explanation, "is that maybe we could all use a break, and it might be good if we could all go camping together."

Aidan nodded, but it was Kas who spoke up next. "Count me in," he agreed, almost on a sigh. "I know this isn't even the biggest thing we're dealing with right now, but somehow the press got my phone number, and I've been getting calls about the damn doping story for days. Let's get away from all of this crap for a while."

Not a one of them disagreed with that.

Saint Patrick
Tavi Lansing
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outfit. #8C0A6B
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So we can take the world back from a heart attack
One maniac at a time we will take it back
You know time crawls on when you're
waiting for the song to start

So dance alone to the beat of your heart

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XXXXTavi listened while Ashton spoke of the setup for the laser tag place and for a moment she could only stare. Finally, she was able to respond with: "Dude, that's so cool! I'm surprised we don't have something like that uptown. Kind of jealous." She went back to eating her rangoons, finishing as much of her chicken as she could stand without a break. She wasn't watching the documentary anymore. it was streaming so she could watch it whenever she wanted. Right now, she was enjoying the conversation with Ashton. She was glad her hypothesis of "get the subject out of the lab for different results" was correct. She would never share this much while under the watch of the other scienists. Not that anything said here had any scientific reasoning. I just meant that she wasn't feeling so... controlled. So watched.

When Ashton finished explaining her job, Tavi responded, not wanting to interrupt. "I mean listen, I don't have the time to go through and read every aspect of everyone's files. Even yours so it could be in there and I just didn't see it." She finished a Rangoon and stated, "It is amazing that you've found a profession where you can utilize your talents. Not everyone has that kind of luck. I once knew a mutant who could control fire but worked on an oil rig. It was a good thing he had a ton of control over his ability."

Tavi glanced at the clock and saw the time. They needed to be up early to report to the labs tomorrow. Her for work Ashton for an evaluation. So, she started packing up her leftovers to bring for lunch tomorrow but allowed Ashton to continue eating for a few more moments. "I hope you're a morning person. We have an early rise coming." She began buzzing around her apartment cleaning up and getting Ashton's bed ready. "Though I always make time for coffee. Otherwise, I'd fall asleep at my machine."

in the undertale multiverse
/say *as Nalo walks through Snowden she Hums Megalovania. her scarf drips paint not knowing it was calling the creator and destroyer of AU's*


Solinus City Spaceport
Cole Maibara rubbed his hair, grumbling after all of that travel... "Gah...that was a fuckin' headache. Ah, but, I guess I'm back on Terra. I suppose. We'll see how long it takes 'til I get ringed for my absence. Or something."

Terra

Sol Terra Owner: Ylanne

Master O nodded in agreement.

Very well. I'll tell the others.
he said, before grabbing his coat from the rack and departing for the docking bay.


Sol
The ship was unremarkable as it drifted into Sol. The only thing strange about it was that it came from a part of the multiverse never before ventured into by any being.

On board the ship, two beings were awake. They were Oberon, a race very similar in design to the Terrans they were here to learn about. The ship itself, the Expedition IV, was very simply designed. It was in the shape of a pyramid with a narrow base, a shape seen all around the galaxy in ship design.It was unmarked except for two parallel lines intersected by another line, marking that the ship had a skip drive. The little ship just stayed where it was, and the people inside began to prepare for the next part of their mission.

Sol: Deep Space
A literal handful of electronics debris spit out from the Shadow Phoenix and floated in a scatter off into space. Immediately after, the warp drives engaged.

Orion Spur
Dogoda Station, somewhere in the Local Region



Distress signals were a fickle beast, Captain Intana thought to herself as she stood on the command deck of the CNS Agatha Rune, a 234m Atlas class Destroyer of the Exogarden’s patrol squadron as it listed quietly some six hundred thousand kilometers from the large arco-habitat. With a central habitat spanning nearly fifty kilometers in keel, Dogoda station dwarfed the Rune like an elephant and an ant.

For the nearly sixty thousand souls that called it home however, this tiny ant was their only hope of immediate rescue. It had taken the Rune almost three days to burn into the local space of Dogoda station, in which time a routine reactor cycling had gone from bad to worse. Two days ago, a power cascade had burned a six meter hole through the reactor shroud and dosed some eight hundred workers and technicians before failsafes could remedy the problem.

In nearly 72 hours, the number exposed had grown from eight hundred to nearly twelve thousand - not just reactor technicians and powerplant staff either. Now, their families were beginning to show acute radiation sickness, friends and colleagues that worked in completely different systems were now showing symptoms as well. A six meter hole in a reactor with more safeguards than a vault had poisoned thousands in the span of days.

What was even worse was that as problems compounded with the Dogoda station’s powerplant, other station systems soon began to falter and fail. Oxy-scrubbers in the outer-habitats lagged, air slowly spoiling until the very breath was stolen from the lungs as one entered a room thought safe. A working crew of sixty had suffocated to death deep within one of Dogoda’s scrubbing chambers in this way, and another twenty hospitalized with severe hypoxia recovering the bodies of their colleagues.

To call this an unmitigated disaster was an incredible understatement for Captain Intana, who gripped tightly at the railing of the deck. Splashed across a large airscreen projected at the front of the bridge, Intana watched closely as a pair of techs strode along the hull of the station’s reactor module. The Captain’s hands tightened, knuckle going white as she barked out to the sailors below in the pits of the bridge.

“Can somebody get me a god damn tight beam with station control? Those techs are standing on a fusion bomb held together with vac-tape!” Her voice carried along the bridge, comms-techs struggling to establish communications with the station after an array breakdown.

“Station comms are fried, a radiation spike hit their crystal matrix. We can reach them through code-line, but they’re repairing a systems bus now.” An Ensign reported, turning from his command banks.

“Slave the line directly to my Focus when we do, get some drones orbiting the station. Start finding every god damn leak in that hull - and get those techs away from that reactor module!” Intana ordered, quickly issuing her orders remotely with the soft wave of a hand before she turned to the bridge lift. Intana was bound for drone control, a Lieutenant joining her with a tablet in his hand.

“Captain, twelve hours before the reactor problems a ship flagged by the ESPF was renting a slip in the station’s dockyards … “ The Ensign began, turning with the Captain to join her in the lift.

“It’s a big station, smugglers stopping by, waiting for some contraband to cool off, could be anything.” The Captain replied, folding her arms neatly along her back. The concern etched on the young officer’s face drew pause from Intana for a moment though; as he continued, her sharp grey eyes narrowed.

“If it were that, I wouldn’t have pulled the ticket - SIGINT approximated the drive plume to an OPA merchantman that had recently ported in Hadriatica.” The Ensign said, offering a satellite image picked up from an interstellar probe listing aimlessly somewhere out in the depths of the Local Region.

“Spacer militias this far from their Shore planet.” Intana remarked, bringing one hand curiously to her chin. She studied the blocky compartments and sharp metal decks of the merchant vessel, looking at the sleek white wolf painted across the keel of the Roadehkar. She looked Govolian in design, a vessel built for harsh space and trade in a realm of stars where anything was a threat.

Intana was certain she saw the launching cells for missiles, and the bowsprit magnetic break of a keel-mounted railgun. Merchants were often heavily armed in regions of space like this and in the Garden, though the Roadehkar’s 340m keel seemed to be lacking merchant containers and compartmenting.

That was something Intana always used to spot pirates. No one carried a hold full of dried snack cakes and a nuclear missile at the same time for good reason.

“The Gidanadrome can pick up our OPA merchantman, when is the earliest a liner barge can reach the station for a mass evacuation?” Intana then inquired. A flagged cruiser leaving just prior to a catastrophic reactor malfunction was odd enough, though of the more pressing concern to Intana was the station itself.

“We estimate a day and a half at best, the Hutatha is an old aid ship grandfathered into the Terran Navy but slow - though, they’ve dispatched all hands for a humanitarian mission.” The Ensign promptly reported, shifting while the lift began to descend softly. Putting his own hands by his side, the Ensign’s face darkened for a moment. “We’ve been unable to communicate so far with station control however, and haven’t informed them of the vacuum fire: the Hutatha may be only a day out, but in twenty hours that hole will be bigger and - “

“That’s why re-establishing comms is a top priority. My plan is to piggyback some multi-drones into a comm-line with the Runey. Hopefully Lieutenant Commander Page will have a fix for the reactor shroud in the meantime by then.” Intana stated bluntly, watching the doors then peel open into the drone control deck where a pair of Starfleet officers stood before a holographic, orbiting view of the t-shaped station.

“Captain on deck! Disembark the first stack of multi-drones!”

Lieutenant Commander Winley Page stood with her hand fixed over a vac-helmet at her side, promptly saluting with the other hand. Nearby, a technician monitored a drone terminal, where outside the first of ten MRD drones disengaged from their coupling stations on the Rune’s hull.

At only 13 meters in length the Mors drones weren’t any particularly large or well equipped craft, though their usefulness in carrying the large pod relays for comms was understated. It would take around thirty of these drones to establish an adequate audio/video comms-line - accessing station systems would take the systems deck another two and a half hours to complete - but would at least be a functioning link between the Rune and station control.

As the first stack of ten drones drifted along into the empty void between the destroyer and Dogoda station, the distress call that had cycled before station comms were fried continued to blare through the darkness.

This is Dogoda Station broadcasting on emergency rescue frequencies, we have suffered a catastrophic reactor malfunction and are in dire need of radiation control. If you receive this broadcast please retransmit."

Near 3kpc Arm
"Fuck. Can't see, that's just great."

Rylen reached back into his pocket, pulling out a piece of the fern and mashing it to pieces, hoping to use its puny amount of bio-luminescence to see something, at least.

"I'm not a bird. Where am I?"

Norma Arm
Atian led her to a small room offset from the next hallway. He made sure she had her bag as well, setting it just inside the door before nodding to her.

"Sleep well and long, Abigail. I make breakfast fairly early, but you don't have to wake for it if you don't want to." He paused, about to leave the room. "Oh, one last thing. Each day here on Orean is about 18 hours long, so they're a little quicker than you might be used to. Sleep tight."

With that, Atian retired to his own room, some two levels further down into the ground. Where the upper portions were lit by skylights or artificial lights, where Atian slept was illuminated by naturally phosphorescent crystals.

Sirius

Norma Arm Sirius Owner: Remæus

After thousands of years, the dead star of Eras began to faintly glow. Drawing power from Gaia, and from any magical entities that dare venture too close, Eras grew stronger.

Gaia
Gaia: High orbit

Amidst the magic imbued void of space, a single distortion opened up, cloudy tendrils of spatial energies opened up as a single Taiyou ship, the Shizuru Maru jutted fourth from the nothingness of space.

Once it decelerated, Captain Susumu Kodai watched the displays intently, It had been some time since General Hama had heard from the Argosian legions dispatched to Iskjerne Bay, and rather than risking lowering the defenses at his portal facility, he had opted to redirect the nearest Imperial ship to perform a high-orbital reconnoiter of the Iskjerne Bay region.

Captain Kodai briefly checked his instruments, they were beyond the interference field, and everything seemed to be working nominally. This was good, so the Captain turned to his bridge officer. "Are we in position?" He asked in Taiyou, with which the officer nodded, and a magnified image of Iskjerne Bay flitted into view on the screen, there was a lot of darkness, but the orange glow of flames could be made out in the pixelated image.

"Clean it up, we're going to have to wait until daybreak to take additional photos." He said, the overwhelming feeling that something was amiss seemed to wash over him.

"That's a lot of fire down there... I wonder what happened." The Captain asked quietly, as they magnified the image.

Ellaria

Gaia Ellaria Owner: AxelZero93

Lucille Strommheim looked towards the sky, taking note of the bizarre shape.

What in the heavens is that?
she exclaimed.

Great Ellarian Forest
*as Jill walks on a dirt path in her cat form she leaves flowers behind her and she looks at all the traders and silently wishes them luck. a trader heading the way she was picks her up and lets her ride with him*


Dracos Valley
"Danegh was already spooked by the Xamatoraptor... no, that doesn't sound right... the Peloronychus," Birger Torvesson wrote in his journal, taking a second to hit his pipe before he shaded in the description of the characters that Danegh had described... "Xamayos seems a fitting name for this land, though I assert from what an abundance of reptiles I've seen near our camp that we should call the place of our settlement Dracos Valley, and ourselves, the Dracos Valley Vikings, the first Empyrean Norse explorers to sail across the Milky Way rivers of Audumla and post on one of the sky chariots, gazing back at our own world Gaia as if she was just a fleeting stjorn." Birger finished his entry before closing his notebook and placing it into his bag, securing it under his seat and settling into his adjustable chair within the backseat of the convertiboat as everyone else climbed on board.

Karvi-1 was preparing to leave the area suddenly. Svegdir Staghelm had ordered everyone in his small crew to abandon the unfinished settlement and return to the karve lifeboat, undoing the rooftop of their temporary lodging and sliding the long narrow vessel back down the slope of the hill into the shallow water. Jonah Marksberg peered out over Lake Dineasair looking for any danger in the water as Borstein climbed into the convertiboat, followed by Danegh who was still trying to explain the mysterious woman in strange clothing, the voice-mimicking raptor and the enormous sauropod dinosaur with its massively long neck and legs. Svegdir Staghelm rushed everyone to be quiet and get in as he fastened his seat harness and used his key crystal to start up the boat. Once everyone was seated, the armored convertible rooftop slid shut and encapsulated everyone inside the cab. Jonah checked the readings on his dash panel and gave Svegdir the thumbs up, signaling that all systems were good. Hitting a few colorful glowing neon runic buttons and symbols on his display screen, Svegdir initiated the levitation sequence. Soon the convertiboat began to lift up out of the lake and rotate slowly, hovering above the water. It gave off an invisible energy field which distorted the air around the floating craft, giving off a very low barely audible humming sound.

The search team had completed their mission. They had gathered more than enough information to proceed with the next phase. It was time to report back to base before the situation became too dangerous. Svegdir wasn't taking any chances. He grabbed the steering wheel and proceeded to pull back on the steering colum, causing the convertiboat to tilt upwards and face diagonally towards the northern sky horizon. Without wasting any more time, the small almond-shaped silver vessel suddenly bolted into the clouds above the Grigori River at nearly the speed of light, leaving only a brief glimpse of an image trail behind it as waves of water splashed around the lake's surface where the craft had just launched from in the blink of an eye. At least the Norse explorers had found a place to camp. Even if their crude settlement were to be destroyed, at least they had a good reference point where they could return later with more men. But the small crew aboard Karvi-1 were holding valuable knowledge and information which they knew needed to be reported back to Jarl Goffre Alvisson, who would then commission the Karvi-3 to ship it home to the Empyrean Sea Beach on Gaia, where King Halfdan would give them further orders. It was a delicate operation which required teamwork and survival tactics which Svegdir knew.

As the convertiboat ascended above the clouds, it sailed through the sky silently, hovering towards the Stjornhestr mothership which sat floating majestically within the planet's exosphere. Wolfgang Yorisson and Kelsey the Healer were just about to gather up their own crew for Karvi-2 and rendezvous with Staghelm's gang on the surface when all of a sudden, Svegdir Staghelm appeared with his crew, their silver vessel moving forward quickly towards the Stjornhestr before slithering and winding slowly upon its approach to form Svegdir's signature docking sequence, informing the captain Jarl Goffre Alvisson that Karvi-1 was still being piloted by the same crew which took off in it. The craft was permitted to land and once the docking bay vault doors were sealed shut behind it, the chamber was depressurized and the gaseous oxidation process began, hissing and releasing gases into the docking bay area so that the crew could breathe as they exited the convertiboat, its metal rooftop sliding back slowly to reveal the five frightened passengers within. All of them looked like they had been to Jotunheim and back.

Scottish Highlands
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      Platform 9 ¾ was a cacophony of noise. Dozens of chattering children with eyes twinkling with post-holiday glee made their way onto the Hogwarts Express, filled with anticipation for what the rest of the year may hold. Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the boisterous crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and scraping of heavy trunks against concrete. The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Prefects were already patrolling the aisles at the behest of their Head Boys and Head Girls, escorting the newer students through the different cars to assist them in finding seats.

      Rose Granger-Weasley was one such Head Girl. She stood outside by one of the entrances, greeting the first years as they entered the train. Hugo, her younger brother, was already onboard – no doubt holed up in one of the compartments with other members of the Weasley clan. Her parents, much to their dismay, hadn’t been able to see them off to Hogwarts this time around. Rose had told them not to fret about it so much. After all, this was her last year; it’s not like it was her first time or anything. Besides, when your mother is the Minister of Magic and your father is the Auror Head of the Investigations Department, you learn to be accommodating to their busy schedules. Instead, her and Hugo had hitched a ride with the Potters, Aunt Ginny taking the lot of them to Kings Cross Station by car. Uncle Harry was already at Hogwarts, no doubt preparing for the students’ arrival along with the rest of the staff.

      It was almost surreal to be standing here on her last year. This was the last time she would be able to welcome other students onto the train, the last time she’d be able to feel that exuberance coming off the first years as they took their first step on board, anxiety and anticipation riling them up in equal measure. It was moments like these that had Rose reflecting on her first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Riding the train for the first time, seeing the castle atop of the cliff’s edge as the boat took her ashore, hearing the Sorting Hat scoff, “HA! Another Weasley!” just before being placed into Gryffindor house – all those memories so near and dear to her heart, memories she wouldn’t trade for anything. Her entire family had gone to Hogwarts, some of them had even died at Hogwarts. It was just as much of a home to her as where she grew up. After seven years, she almost didn’t want to let it go.

      “Oi! Rose!”

      Broken out of her reverie, Rose followed the sound of the voice to a plume of smoke, immediately rolling her eyes when she recognized who it was. Derek Katz, a Gryffindor in the same year as her, wearing a modified uniform and holding a lit cigarette between his lips. Mothers watched him pass with disapproval, sneering at the young man with utter disgust. Rose couldn’t blame them; Derek kind of had that effect on people. He approached the train where she stood, a lofty crown of dirty blonde hair bobbing behind him. Alice Belrose walked beneath his trail of smoke, her fingers grasping the back of his blazer as she let him part the crowd in front of them. When Alice caught her eye, she waved, a bright smile lighting up her face.

      Rose smiled right back, ushering them over and out of the way so the other students could still shuffle past them to get on the train. “You know I have to tell you to put that out, right?” she said, grabbing the cigarette right out of Derek’s mouth when he came to a full stop. She crushed it beneath her Doc Martins, snuffing it out on the concrete.

      Derek just gave her that same lopsided grin he always gave, his eyes glittering with amusement, “So much for asking.”

      “Dude-… don’t make me have to take points from you before we even make it back,” she groaned. “You know how much I hate taking points from my own house.” Her gaze fell to Alice as she peeked around Derek’s shoulder, her hands still gripping his blazer. “Hey Alice,”

      Alice replied with a small, “Hi Rose,”

      “You could always just not take points. It’s not like I’m smoking on school grounds.” Derek interjected, drawing the conversation back to him. He chuckled when Rose shot him a pointed look; he didn’t have to read her mind to know how unamused she was. “Has Elliot gotten on yet? I lost him when I went looking for this one.” He nodded his head toward Alice, who was now looking through the sea of familiar faces, almost as though she were searching for a certain someone. Rose could tell she found them the moment her face lit up again, opening her mouth to tell Derek she hadn’t seen Elliot yet when Alice interrupted.

      She turned towards Derek briefly, “Goodbye, Chesh!” before darting off into the crowd, ignoring Derek’s attempt to stop her.

      With a sigh he turned back to Rose, cocking a brow in question, apparently still waiting on his answer. Rose just responded with a shrug that sent his gaze heavenwards. Poor guy. Looks like Katz was already exasperated with being back. “Well, if you do see him, let him know I’m looking for him. Tell him I’m in our usual spot.” And without another word, he moved past her to board the train.

      “I’m not an owl!” Rose shouted after him, smirking when he threw the bird over his shoulder in her direction.

      Greeting students as they made their way inside, Rose remained at her post until only the parents and a few stragglers remained on the platform. When the final whistle blared, Rose ushered them onto the train, sending a cursory wave to their parents as she made sure all the students made it safely inside. She was the last one on board, releasing the prefects of their duties for the time being while the train was preparing to leave the station. Another Head Boy or Girl would let them know when to make their rounds once it was safer for them to walk about. For now, she made sure everyone had taken their seats, giving the compartments one last perfunctory glance before she made her way to the front car. Rose took a seat in the first cabin with the other Head Boys and Girls and prefects, offering the students around her a smile as she cast her gaze out the window.

      Rose watched as the train pulled out of the station, carrying them out of London. By the time one of the other Head Children stood up to give the prefects their duties, they were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. Rose knew that, as the hours progressed, the countryside would only become wilder and the bright, neatly mowed fields they were currently flying past would be gone. There would be endless woods, twisting rivers, and dark green hills. Rose nestled in her seat, making herself comfortable, knowing that it would be another five hours before they were even close to Hogwarts.

Hadriatica
Nethe Authority Facility: EPKF-12


The dull hum of the UMOL’s six atom drive turbines was enough to blare out whatever the Imperial was gibbering away about in broken Communia as Captain Stelter laid with his head resting against the hull of the troop bay. Transit to Nethe was on a constant, rotating flight cycle - a long hop from orbit, to the Reverence, and then dispersed amongst the Exogarden’s facilities and operations zones.

The small force of Imperials and host-nation advisors of the Exogarden Peacekeeper Force were in the relatively quiet, combat wise, Capital Sector. The city was, largely, peaceful due to the Authority’s rapid management of infrastructure - or for the unawares, the Exogarden had seized water, power and city systems from the onset. Host-nation advisors and Exogarden gendarmes like Stelter were mainly there to oversee the Imperials, ensure the natives were effectively trained and empowered, and keep an eye out for the armed gangs like the Red Halos or OPA.

“Cap, this is your stop: have fun with the Chimps.” The Captain heard a condescending chuckle from the pilot, and he perked his head up from his seat. The young Imperial rifleman across from him still watched the man with bright eyes: it was odd how fascinated the Edenites seemed to be in the presence of their Gardenite brethren from the ancient end of the galaxy.

Vidisti Galacticai, procopulus?” The young man jibbered, one hand patting at the patch on his tactical back that bore a warship from an old tele-show, famous Aschen cinema. Stelter very well may have seen it, watched out of boredom between patrols and operations across the Local Region: still, he didn’t speak a word of Anquietas either.

“Still no clue what you’re fuckin’ talkin’ about bud, haven’t for the past six hours.” Stelter only shrugged his shoulders as the UMOL touched down on those stubby landing struts, and the soldiers began disembarking. On the soldiers dispersed from the Intruder and onto the fields, Stelter was greeted by a Gendarme, a palm resting on the handgun at his waist. Stelter narrowed his eyes on the CWO, though brought his hand up to shake with the Chief’s.

“You Captain Stelter? I’m Chief Brotton, Gendarme Security! This is EPKF-12 - I still haven’t figured out exactly how the Imps pronounce their name for it yet - most of ‘em are illiterate, y’know? Some barely even speak anquietas fluently. Well, from the Garden’s perspective.” The Gendarme bellowed over the engines as the Intruder lifted up towards the Reverence once more.

“Yeah, Stelter, Interior Troop.” The Captain replied, his eyes squinting through the drive-wash as airjets landed and departed. “Command is processing into phase two - I need to see the Chimps' chain of command right the fuck now! The Juniors want the whole Capital Sector to be green and blue!”

Descendant Academy
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K a n e x N y g u y e n

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o f x c h e s h i r e
#000000 || Outfit || ronin

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M y l a x M u r d o c k

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#6E0000 || Outfit || hell's angel

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Myla and Kane were through the training room’s door, and they wasted no time in moving past Alfred and Phil. After James and Lexa had blown past them, they didn’t bother to try to stop these two. The woman’s injuries were real, not part of the simulation. Unlike Kane’s own, which would simply require sensors being removed from his body. He barely even felt anything. It was probably the adrenaline.

Kane already knew where the medbay was, as Myla has former experience with it. He was a pretty good navigator, and usually only had to go somewhere one time to know how to get there. He carried her into the lift and eventually into the medbay itself. When they stepped through the lift doors, he noted that James and Lexa were there. At this time, Lexa hadn’t woken up quite yet.

He paid James no mind initially, as his gaze snatched an empty bed up immediately. Kane attempted to be gentle with Myla, but he wasn’t used to holding onto this much weight for a long period of time. It wasn’t that she was heavyset as a woman, but that a whole body was - generally, for the average person, heavy after a long period of time. His muscles were already exhausted. When he set her down, there was a slight hiccup where he practically stumbled and her landing would end up harsher than he would have liked. They were in an awkward position where he was hunched over her, an arm at the small of her back to keep her from completely crashing into the bed, and her face was smashed into his neck. The whole scene looked bad if you would have just walked in on it.

"Sorry. Slipped," he muttered to her. "Tired," he added, careful not to let her know that she was heavy because he’d probably offend her. Not that she couldn’t hear his labored breathing, feel how he had to adjust every so often the whole time he carried her, or even note his rapid heartbeat as it pulsed harshly at the side of his neck.

Myla couldn’t help but wince and let out a meek groan at the awkward faltering. He had carried her a long way and there is only so much anyone could handle carrying another person, no matter how light or heavy they were.

In the stumble their bodies were tangled in an awkward knot. They were so close she could hear his heart racing… Or was that hers? It all blurred together. The only thing she could focus on was how close they were, his hand on her back and the accidental brushing of her nose on his skin. "It’s ok," she tried to reassure him while her face was buried in the nape of his neck.

Kane carefully laid her down the rest of the way and closed the curtains. There was likely to be clothing removal, and while Myla may not be as timid about the body as visual people, he didn’t need to see all of that. Kane was more on the modest side of things.

There was a moment where Myla nearly reached out to ask Kane to stay but she stopped when she heard the curtain around her bed begin to close. She sighed as she rested her head back on the hospital pillow.

While Myla was attended to, he peeled away the mask and tugged off his hat. Everything was set aside.

Moments ticked by, and eventually an awakened Lexa was one that apparently realized that something was amiss. She looked at him, and he read her emotions painted blatantly across her face as somewhat startled. "How man—" she cut herself off as she seemed to turn toward James. "My fault? Did we… fail?" Kane’s gaze traveled to the man in question, as he’d be allowed to answer that question. Kane didn’t have much concern for anyone else aside from his own charge, and that was Myla. To be honest, he didn’t know whose fault this whole thing could be attributed to. It could be boiled down to general incompetence as a team, but he had no idea what a functioning and capable team looked like either.

He watched as James had words with the woman, but did not interfere at any time. He was glad they both left, which allowed him to sink back into a chair and close his eyes for a moment.

"Hello again, Ms. Murdock. Were you also injured in the simulation?" J.A.R.V.I.S. inquired.

Myla nodded her head. "Yes."

Two mechanical arms extended from under the bed, each one going for either of the bullet wounds. Myla was expecting stitches or perhaps even having to dig out the bullets, but instead, there was a slight tug and a pinch, then it was done.

"Is there anything I can help you with?"

Myla half pushed off the bed, propping herself up on her left elbow as her right hand felt around her shoulder gunshot wound. There was no hole, no blood, nothing. She didn’t know if she was thankful or pissed that such a small piece of tech could cause so much pain. She shook her head slightly as she sat upright. "Yeah," she groaned as she started unzipping her suit.

It took her a moment or two of careful movements and nearly asking Kane for help, but she managed to remove the top half of her suit and let it rest at her hips. Her suit, ribs and part of her sports bra were sticky from blood. "I popped my stitches. Is there anything you can do that won’t come out in training?"

"Stitches are the recommended way to address a wound such as yours. It isn’t severe enough to require something more invasive. The only other option I have available is cauterization, but it will scar."

"I’ll scar or worse if I keep ripping out stitches," Myla commented plainly as she laid down on her good side. Scars didn’t bother her. She already had some and it was inevitable that she’d get more in her line of work. She couldn’t get a doctor’s note from an A.I. to excuse her and the situation was too dire to not train at every moment she had. Her dad’s life depended on her. "Just do it."

"As you wish, Ms. Murdock. I must warn you, this will hurt."

On the other side of the curtain, Kane wasn’t quite sure what to do. He stood up, sat down, stood up again… sat down. Paced a few times. She could probably hear it all. They didn’t know each other all that well, yet there was an undeniable connection and chemistry that made the assassin think more than once when it came to her. He didn’t know how to help. What does one do with all of this emotion? It’s weird and uncertain.

Eventually, all this noise ended with the sound of the curtain opening. He’s not going to hold her hand or anything, but he did give her this… awkward pat on the head. He cleared his throat, too. To be fair, Kane was doing his best to be comforting as a man that didn’t regularly partake in being gentle and reassuring.

He was there! That had to count for something? Right. In his mind, it had to mean something. There was nothing he could do about pain anyway.

Myla’s face contorted in a slightly confused expression at the head patting. Was this supposed to be comforting? She wasn’t sure. But nothing between herself and Kane could be classified as normal. She waited on the bed for J.A.R.V.I.S. to finish up by putting some ointment and gauze on her wound. Once he was done, she slowly sat up with an uncomfortable groan. It hurt, but she no longer felt the tugging and tearing, so that was a bonus.

"I don’t belong here," she admitted to herself under her breath. Myla kept her head pointed forward trying to hide a little bit of her face from him. She was embarrassed that she needed help twice in the past 24 hours. She felt like a burden and useless. She didn’t understand why he came for her in the simulation but he did. Myla could only hope that her damsel in distress antics were at an end. "Thanks… For coming for me."

There was nothing else she could say. Myla sighed softly before pushing off the hospital bed and getting to her feet. For a moment or two, she was lightheaded and held onto the bed for stability. But once it ceased she gave Kane a sad smile. "I..." She started to say something but then quickly found herself at a loss for words. What could she say? Instead, her head fell slightly and she headed for the exit.

Kane quickly gathered his things, tucking them all under an arm and pinning it against his side. Before Myla could escape too far, he reached out and seized her wrist. He didn’t mean to grab her so hard, but he didn’t want her to think he’s just accepting her dismissal. "I don’t belong here, either." He tilted his head, bent down just slightly, and cracked the smallest - tiniest - quickest smile. It was wasted on her because she couldn’t see, but maybe she could hear the effort, "I think it’s starting to feel bearable."

Myla didn’t fight Kane’s hold on her wrist. She even allowed her feet to stop so she could hear whatever he had to say. No, she couldn’t see his smile. But something told her he was. Perhaps it was the briefest of sounds as his lips pulled back over his teeth, or maybe there was a shift in the air. She didn’t know. Maybe neither one of them belonged there. After all, what powers did they have? From what she saw, Kane was like her… plain and human. But… she supposed if he could find a reason to stay, then she could too.

They moved to the lift, but he kept her wrist in his grasp idly. He only let it go when he gestured her to head into the lift by gently pressing the small of her back with a palm, and remained shoulder-to-shoulder with her. It was comfortable here. He pressed the button to the highest loft - his own, and swat away her fingers if she tried to push one of her own.

The presence of Kane standing shoulder to shoulder with her was something Myla hadn’t expected, especially not after their awkward elevator ride earlier that day. But she said nothing. Her brows furrowed when he batted her hand away from the buttons. She scoffed softly but said nothing. She had assumed she’d go to her penthouse and change, but it seemed he had other plans in mind. After everything he had done for her, she supposed she couldn’t argue. But as the silence lingered Myla grew increasingly aware that she only wore a blood-stained sports bra and half of her suit.

"Let’s just eat before we get an earful from two old men," he sighed. Kane wasn’t bothered by her appearance, but he did worry that she might neglect to eat. The lift doors opened to his penthouse, and he guided her inside. Another set of sliding doors would open, and she’d soon feel the cool late afternoon air.

Was Myla hungry? She wasn’t sure. But she didn’t argue. She couldn’t see the penthouse she had given up, but as he led her through it, her fingertips would brush whatever furniture and walls she passed. It was open, empty, and far less cluttered than her own, other than that she couldn’t tell. She turned her head toward the sound of the doors sliding open and exhaled softly as the sea breeze tousled her hair.


There was a small table out there for eating, as Kane spent a great deal of time outdoors. "I’ll be back." He left her there to find her own way around, trusting that she had enough sense to not plummet to her death.

She turned to stop him, but before Myla could say anything Kane had disappeared inside. It wasn’t until she was alone that she realized she still wore her helmet. She pulled it off and had half a mind to toss it over the balcony, but decided to set it down instead. She’d only have to go searching for it later. Her feet carried her over to the edge where she rested her arms on the railing.

About twenty minutes later, he came out with a tray and food. Everything was plated in wooden bowls and plates, and of course, Japanese chopsticks and a spoon. He knew how to cook basic staples, so he had some Kitsune Udon and your classic sushi. They would each have a bowl of rice. He set everything down, including the teapot and two small porcelain mugs. He had placed some green tea bags in them.

After he set the Udon down for her, he helped her grasp the chopsticks. "Careful," he warned. He poured boiling water into her teacup, and then sat down to eat as well. He moved his chair so that he could sit next to her, as he thought she might have trouble with the utensils.

He grabbed his own chopsticks, tapping them once on the table to even them out. He let her fumble around with the chopsticks for a minute or so as he used his own to shovel some sushi into his mouth.

Myla let Kane guide her accordingly. Her brows furrowed as she clumsily tried to figure out how to hold the chopsticks. Her left hand adjusted them in her right until they were right… She thinks. Honestly, she had no clue. "How do I find the food?" She asked barely above a whisper with a sheepish chuckle. The only way Myla could figure it would be sticking her left hand into the bowl and at that point, it kind of defeated the purpose.

Kane scooted closer to her; his face practically smooshed alongside hers, and an arm cradling her upper back only to come up to her opposing shoulder. He took her hands with both of his, very gently, and helped adjust her fingers on the thin long chopsticks. They were not easy to master for anyone, honestly.

"It’s actually easier for a blind person to use chopsticks than do what you can," he chuckled at her; low and amused. His mouth was close to her cheek where she might feel how his own cheek puffed when his lips were tucked into a smile. "Just feel for the food," he instructed, helping her swirl the chopsticks around until she could feel the tension of the noodles against them. Then he manipulated her fingers to assist her in opening and closing them to trap the food.

After she adjusts to the foreign utensils, he reached forward to pull his own food toward him without moving away from her. He was comfortable here next to Myla. Even if she was covered in blood.

Myla chuckled softly at his comment. She supposed he wasn’t wrong. A blind vigilante who couldn’t use chopsticks… That was a tale if she ever heard one. It took her sometime to get the hand of the utensils and while she got into a rhythm, part of her doubted it was correct in form. But she managed to grab a hold of food and get it into her mouth with minimal casualties, so that was a plus in her opinion.

With her first bite she proved to be far more hungry than she had previously thought. Everything was delicious, especially the sushi. The pair both must have been famished, or maybe it was the comfort in each other's company. Neither spoke, but also neither one of them felt the need to fill the silence with idle chatter.

It was then, in that moment, that Myla realized she was thankful that Kane decided to stay. She didn’t know why. She knew nothing about him beyond his name, yet, for some strange reason, she felt comfortable around him. She trusted him.

Dogs in God's Vineyard
"My dear, I believe you misunderstand me. I have not turned my face from the Lord. I have merely been...enlightened, about the true nature of the One True God. The Book of Life claims that the Faith as we know it has been perverted time and again by Lucifer and his demonic allies. They turned the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims, and all the other heathen religions against our Creator. Perverted His teachings. But...that is not the only perversion that has been committed here," Father Mycroft proclaimed. He gave Anna a thin-lipped smile, steeping his fingers together as he watched her.

"I suppose we can add heresy to your list of crimes," Margaret noted, though her tone was strained and rather forced. Her hand strayed to her gunbelt, not pulling her pistol out just yet...but clearly, she was ready to at any moment.

"Ah, but it is not I who has committed heresy here. It is...the rest of the Faith. The true teachings of the Great Prophet were distorted after his death: changed to better suit the narrative his heretical successors wished to project," Mycroft boldly proclaimed. "Hm...but, I think I shall refrain from any further discussion about the True Faith. After all, as you all are now, I doubt you'll be so open to hearing the truth. That is why I have a proposal for you. For all of you."

"You're speaking like you even have any power here," Sonia pointed out. Unlike Margaret, she had her pistol gripped tightly in her hand, though she wasn't pointing it at anyone just yet. "I don't see any armed guards here. Just you, the maid, and the rest of you robed freaks."

Mycroft smiled wide, and just for a moment, it seemed as if his eyes changed colors. A sickly, pale yellow appeared to flash over his iris, though just as quickly it was gone: replaced by the normal cerulean color of his eyes. Assuming it had even changed in the first place. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

"My child, you may think you hold the advantage, but rest assured...I am not powerless here," Mycroft declared with a deep, menacing tone.

The tension seemed to increase in the air: it felt as if a powder keg would ignite, if anyone said or did anything else. No one so much as moved in that moment, perhaps knowing full well that one false movement, one wrong move, and the whole thing would turn into a bloodbath.

A bloodbath for which side, though, was the question.

"So humor us," Margaret spoke first, breaking the silence as she eyed Mycroft hard. The others would be unable to tell, given how little they knew of her, but Anna would see it: there was a spark of fear in her gaze. Something he had done or said had truly shaken her friend, or so it seemed. "What is this deal you speak of?"

"It is good to know you Dogs still have manners," Mycroft chuckled. "But yes, the deal. Let's get to that, shall we? You four have proven so very vexing and improbably hard to kill...I have to admit, I'm impressed. You're all so very much like the two Dogs that came before you: investigative to a fault, and harder than a cockroach to kill. That is why I want to offer you a choice. The skills you all possess could no doubt prove themselves...valuable to our cause. So: join us. Join our Righteous Crusade against the Corruption within the heart of the Faith. Pledge yourselves to the True Face of God Almighty, and be reborn as his soldiers on Earth. With that, all of your prior sins will be forgiven, and you shall all be spared an agonizing death."

Wasteland


Image
Mad Maximum Situation





If there was one thing he really hoped he would not have to at the very start of the games...This would be in his top 5 things that he did not want to do today. And that was fight on a Hovercycle with no cover between him and his attacker, and he was no killer either...He cant just shoot another living breathing person even if it was to defend his life...He was not against the wall yet and he most certainly wanted to avoid that situation. As the two hoverbikes blasted across the dunes of the wasteland, Leo would unshoulder his rifle carefully as he kept steering the vehicle before looking back.

His pursuer had closed the distance, with him having to weave left and right and in uncanny directions to not drive in a stright line and make himself a pathetically easy target to shoot. To his side now he saw a woman...A fellow mutant of course. Pale white hair, a rather peculiar dress?...Thing?...He was not much of a fashion expert...He was more comfortable with machines but what he did see was the protrusions coming out of her body. It looked like white branches. It was not often he saw mutations like that...

His grip tightened around his rifle as he was in her effective distance now with a handgun...However it looked like she was driving next to him probably plotting to open fire on him in the next few seconds. Now was his time to do something. "Hold up a second! I'm-" He tried to get out until he saw the woman start aiming her pistol at him. No cover between him and her! And trying to accelerate or lose his speed would not be enough if she was good with her aim...And he was not gambling on her having bad aim. So with his best course of action he tapped on the autopilot and quickly went over the edge of his hoverbike and gripped the sides as well as he could using his own bike as cover. "Woah! Truce! Truce!" he shouted over the roars of the engines as the sounds of metal ringing rang out as the bullets impacted it before they stopped. Ammo was not infinite thank goodness...He soon climbed back up on his bike and despite being shot at and with a weapon in his hands he did not open fire.

"You...You are a strange one. Most would have already retaliated." The woman commented as Leo gave a small smile. "I get that often." He chuckled lightly before the woman suddenly veered into him to close the distance. So much for talking his way out of this fight he supposed. As she closed into what was the equivalent of melee range, expecting some sort of knife or something he was more surprised to see the 'wing' like protrusions suddenly raise into the air. Well...This was probably worse than a simple knife...Leo quickly turned off autopilot and slammed on the brakes as he felt the wind swing right next to his head. Woah that was a close call! If he tried dodging that would have lodged into the bike, and it was not like he was jumping to avoid it or else he would watch from afar as his bike drove without him! But this was not over yet. The woman would spin her hoverbike around to face him. At this distance they were a good distance away from others.

"Is it too late to ask for some sort of truce?...We don't have to kill each other you know. In a situation like this its better to work together to better our chances." He called out as the woman blinked in his direction. "To be frank I don't trust you. Lizardman are rare enough as it is, and you live in an actual civilized colony...If you left such a place you are either stupid or a psychopath." She stated as Leo internally cried to himself. He was 100% stupid...Not a psychopath...Was it because of old man bias?...He was not that old.

"A fair thing to say..." He relented as the sound of the woman's hovercycle sounded as she dug into a bag and produced a pistol clip. It was clear that she had no intention of leaving peacefully. With a breath he formulated a plan in his mind. He did not want to just shoot her so that was out of the question. But he had an idea...Something that wont affect her chances at survival but yet give him enough time to scamper away...He soon readied himself as he turned autopilot on once more as he grasped his rifle with his robotic arm. Looks like today he was playing a game of courage...

Once she slammed a fresh clip into her pistol she soon drove forward and took aim at him as the two were closing the distance on each other. Leo took a breath and slid back and grabbed the very edge of the back end on his hovercycle as the bullets came his way. More metallic rings but it stopped short of her full count...Just as expected he was saving the round for when she passed and that's what he was counting on! He may not be the best in a fight but he can capitalize on situations. He would swing his body to the right just as their vehicles were about to near each other, her aim at the tail of his bike. He soon raised his rifle and like a hammer he hit the console on the front of her hovercycle and turned it off.

She would give a surprised gasp as her hovercycle suddenly went dead and crashed into the sandy dunes and skid. She being forced to hold the bike and brace for impact as he went full speed away. to gain as much distance before she got back online. Leo gave a tired sigh after that ordeal...If he could sweat he would be caked in it...





Scrap Home

After some hours driving he soon came across the remains of a parking lot. Stones jutted from the sands with old rusted cars from ages past laid their like undisturbed tombs...He would park his hovercycle behind one of the stone pillars and got off before cracking his back a bit. A good find for him, first things first he needed a to do list:

First was to properly hide the bike under a bunch of scrap so people would not realize he made this area a hiding place

Second he needed to find the most intact car and turn it into a temporary shelter for the night

Third he needed to begin salvaging any useful parts. Something that was still sturdy and light enough...Maybe he could make some body armor...If he had anything to craft it with which was not going to happen for the moment...So for the time being he would be gathering resources to upgrade his new car home...

After all these steps he needed to simply keep low and find good hunting spots to get food...It was not like he was going to have luck growing food out of sand...So the second best thing he was getting was to find any wild animals out there and get some food...But cooking it...That was going to be a problem...It was not like he had trees to simply snag some firewood from...But a bridge to cross when he got there...

He soon walked over to his bike and dug into his pack to check his supplies...Some ammo...Food and water...Makeup? How thoughtful Qiqi...Too bad that was not going to help him very much at this moment...But he would probably find use for it somehow...A single blanket, and...Oh! What did he have here a battery!? He would use this definitely but that was about it. He sighed as he sat down next to the powered down hovercycle and bit into his rationed meal. "Well Leo you done it now...You managed to survive the first hour without dying...But so much for making alliances...Or some ally for the journey...I wonder if that woman who ate that grass is fine...I don't even see how a girl like her got roped into these games...All I can do for her is pray...Maybe...If I tried to help her out when I hit the ground..." He mused with a sad sigh before shaking his head. "Come on Leo, only do things you can reasonably do...I have more opportunities in the future, that mosh pit of blood is too dangerous to play hero...For now just make some equipment and go from there..." He cheered himelf up as he gave a nod before standing up.

He soon got to work by ripping some decently well kept metal plates with his robotic arm...Not a challenge when the joins are about as old as the sand he was standing on...And soon stacked them in way to both cover open holes and looked decently natural. Once he was done he crawled into his new little metal home after clearing enough sand and wrapped himself in a blanket. If he was correct...It was going to be a cold night...So as such he covered the entrance he had crawled in with a metal plate and closed his eyes. At least he wont die from the cold in his sleep...

Grove of Yggdrasill
David stops as the man starts to sit down, his rifle and pack over his shoulder. He checks the nozzle on his oxygen tank, checking the flow to make sure it's constant from him running, as it may have been jostled around. He notices, much to his surprise, that the tube connecting his mask to the maybe 14-pound tank had been severed, and he wasn't dead yet. He removes his mask from his face, showing a rather average composition, with brown hair and blue eyes. He slowly removes his pack, and smelling smoke, asks Lord Bruce, "Are you sure it's safe to stop here? There seems to be a fire, and I don't know about staying here." He calmly removes the carbine from his shoulder, takes out the magazine and puts it away, and then straps the carbine to the side of his backpack. "I may not know much about this place, but it seems like there's a lot of vegetation to burn." He finishes strapping it to the side of his backpack, and then looks questioningly at Lord Bruce. "And it's occurred to me that I haven't even asked for your name. I'm David."

The Tower
Perhaps the prospect that a hit from her could meet a wall that could contain the blow was somewhat disorienting, Sibylle bringing her forearm upwards and staring at her shaking fist comedically for a few fleeting moments. Enraptured in a dullened curiosity for long enough to be grappled from behind convincingly by the large tortoise.

Strength that could match her was few and far-between, and the combination of both the opponent's own and the uncompromising position of him holding her from behind made it close to impossible to wrangle away, even for Sibylle. Letting a throaty grunt free from a closed frown, her eyes narrowed at the bat-wielding pompadour delinquent, making careful note of his position as he raised his bat, the air surging around him as he gathered energy into his swing.. The dragon debated if she'd be able to tank the blow, though as she attempted to shift in the turtle's grasp, her instincts did well to convey that such prospect was unfavorable.

There was a small flaw in how he held her however, leaning his full weight onto her and her shoulders to rob her of the usage of her wings and to siphon her strength, he sacrificed a congruent balance to do so. Normally this was no issue at all, but Sibylle fought with all her limbs as if they were as natural as ones arms.

Placing her tail in position, the large scaly club slammed into the turtle's knees, tripping him forward further into her back. The tortoise attempted to hold on, clenching around the girl's waist but in turn freed her wings that resided on her upper shoulder blades. In the single instance, her tail wrapped itself around his stomach and the dragon skyrocketed into the air. Cracks forming where she previously stood as she pushed off her legs, with the wind generated by her wings alone able to disorient both the bat-wielding man and anyone who resided near the throne.

The skies were her territory, able to easily shake off the tortoise courtesy of both his own heavy weight and lack of digits to hang on. Rotating her waist slightly, she drove her elbow into the side of his head, the impact forcing him to drop his grip as she shook him free. She was not finished however, turning fully and dipping downwards slightly, she brought her forearms under his armpits and held him close. Then flying upwards before looping and diving down at blinding speeds. With tortoise man in tow, she begun to gyrate to both increase momentum and inflict vertigo on her poor unwilling passenger.

It was fortunate that she had kept so careful notice of the delinquent before, specifically targeting him where he stood as she brought both their body weights on top of him like a falling meteorite. The subsequent crash filling the room once more with thudded sound and smoky dust.

She stood on top of the turtle's shell with a dreary gaze, the tortoise himself rested comfortably on the delinquent's broken ribs. Her head turned towards Moon, who seemed to have won her own fight without her insistence. Manifesting a slight smile, her expression faded as the cat seemingly passed out. Sibylle hopped from the dogpile and rushed over to see if her teammate was alive. Making it in front of the throne, she shook Moon by her shoulder..most likely with a little bit too much unmeasured force.

Weargtooth Mountains
The eerie silence became oppressive, with the wind wafting down into the gully below, and through the crevasse, Livia looked briefly to her own Praefectus Legionis, and then out to the remainder of her cohort. Praefectus Publius Caestus Vale was a stocky man noted by his vibrant nanosteel armor that was adorned with various devices, seals, and emblems of the Emperor. He looked up to Livia, and simply nodded.

The Praefectus turned to his Centurion, and without so much as a word, the Centurion made a hand gesture to one of the legionaries, whom approached one of the donkeys near the rear of the formation. The Legionary returned with a squealing pig, that was screaming, and struggling against his restraint.

The Legionary looked to the Praefectus briefly, before he placed the hog onto the ground, and gave it a hearty kick in the hindquarters, sending the hog running forward through the dirt, into the chasm ahead. The Hog would, with it's rush to distance itself from the formation set off any traps it encountered, getting ensnared, or triggering whatever the Ulfhednar had prepared for it.

"Venemum in aere!" The Praefectus called out, and like clockwork, the Legionaries moved in unison to remove their helmets, and don unusual hoods that covered their heads. These hoods had small round glass eyes, and a long snout that dangled freely in front of them. Livia looked briefly to Reginarus, before she pulled off her helmet, revealing her flowing auburn hair.

"I really wish you had shaved that beard." Livia remarked, before pulling the olive drab hood with the unusual snout over her own face, and eyes.

After a moment, she passed one to Reginarus, as the Praefectus called out.

"Toxicum Sagitarii! Parate!" He called out, while Livia stayed her hand, one by one servants in the same hooded mask pulled masks over each of the horses, checking them, and then double checking them while roughly twelve Sagitarii Legionaries withdrew their carbon fiber compound bows, the arrows holding an unusual canister like object in front of them.

"Accendo Filum!" The Praefectus bellowed, and one by one the archers pulled a small tab on the tips of their arrows, causing smoke to billow lightly from the canisters.

"Dimittere sagittas!" The Praefectus bellowed, and the archers released their arrows high into the mountains, along the crags, and the gulleys, and into the crevasses where there could be potential enemies concealed within.

The Arrows sailed high over them and detonated in brilliant, fluffy grey plumes of smoke, that when inhaled, induced powerful coughs, and caused the eyes to burn, and tear. The unusual gas was powerful, and would cause those exposed to it to cough uncontrollably, and the eyes would burn to the point where they were unable to see. Those with the misfortune of being exposed would find their nose and throat filling with mucus, inducing debilitating episodes of coughing, but otherwise would still be alive. Livia waited in silence as she waited for a response, as the thick clouds of gas began to waft further into the chasm.

The Horat-verse
Lo-Muna beamed at him and gave a small bow in thanks, "I appreciate it, Suiken. It's a variation of Eternal Maiden on the Clouds so if you need any assistance, let us know. I'll go tell Sunaarashi so we can rehearse one last time."

With one last thanks, she turned to go back.

Futuristic Earth
Aura
#03c04a

Aura was perplexed as he was handed the ring but he took it without complaint as he examined the engravings. A vr code huh? He wasn't going to lie, he had been curious about what everyone was so excited about and up until now he hadn't had the money to try it. He put it down on his desk staring at it as the confusing customer left for the day.

He didn't have time to try it immediately. No, there were more customers to look after. The usual broken gadget in disrepair due to the lack of proper care. A robot or two that had been dumped in his lab to be scrapped. New models that had nothing wrong with them were ready to be thrown away because the newest model was out.

It angered Aura to no end and he'd had enough closing the lab he slumped on his desk not even the soft purring of Odie was helping his stress. He was about to punch something when a glint of light caught his eye. The ring from the only nice customer of the day was still where he left it though now buried under tools and such. He picked it up and smiled slightly. A game? Why not? It couldn't put him in a worse mood.

Grabbing his jacket he headed out of his lab Odie trailing behind as he stopped at the prototype on his desk. She hadn't woken up yet. Which was slightly concerning. He would have to look into that another time. For now he had a vr game to try. And he was expecting good things.

---------------------------------------
Honestly he was impressed with what he saw. An open grounds of plants and other such wildlife that filled his senses and let him relax. He discovered that it was some sort of romance game set in times long forgotten. From the gossiping students he'd walked past he had gathered it was practically impossible for the female and only love interest to survive. That suited Aura as he wasnt one for women and besides he was too excited to enjoy the nature. He paused as he saw a wall lines with vines that flowered tiny buds. He felt drawn to the cluster of blooms like a vague sense of dayjavu. Pushing through them into a secret garden he couldn't help but smile and laugh as he saw Orchids. He loved them and stepped forward crouching and looking at a small one that was dwarfed by the others. "Dont worry little one you'll be the brightest and biggest of them all."

Niihama City: Sector Five
Prologue: Introduction.
A Prelude to Current Events...


Emperor Nobuo Takayama of the legendary Taiyou Empire was sick. Shimizu Takayama, his third child and first son, assumed the responsibility of taking care of him. But the medicine he gave him however was poison, and slowly killed Nobuo over time. Shimizu Takayama seized the throne and became the next emperor in line. Shimizu was a cruel and ruthless, ambitious warlord who sought to control the galaxy. He made enemies far and wide, including the Gardenites of the space-faring Exogarden Forces, including the "Untamed" remnants of a Scandi people known as the Otamannir, the Scandi-influenced Jovians, and the more primitive land-bound Iskjerne Vikings of Iskjerne Bay on planet Gaia, whom he tried to conquer but failed. The leader of the Vikings at that time was King Sigurd Hring, who died shortly after, committing suicide along with his army rather than facing the vengeful wrath of the defeated Taiyou emperor whom he had maimed in battle. Sigurd Hring was succeeded by his sons Hrollaug the Walker and Ragnar Lothbrok, both Vikings, neither of which having the same ambitions as their father.

Hrollaug (Rollo) had fought beside his father in Iskjerne Bay, but had went raiding overseas on Gaia following their victory. Ragnar Lothbrok was on Earth at that time and went raiding west into England after the birth of his sons. Rollo married Princess Gisela and became Christian, giving rise to the Empyrean Normans on Gaia who were not well accepted by the Norse pagan Iskjerne Vikings, while Ragnar Lothbrok was captured in England by King Aella who had him tortured, crucified and thrown into a pit of poisonous vipers. Ragnar's prayer to Odin and his ancestors caught the attention of Sigurd Hring who teleported him to Iskjerne Bay, where he was rescued by Livia Caesarius the Argosian and taken to Niihama for medical treatment. In the meantime, Ragnar's sons arrived in Iskjerne Bay after hearing about the death of their grandfather and sought vengeance against Shimizu Takayama, accompanied by their mothers.

Meanwhile, Ragnar's son Ivar the Boneless had claimed the throne of Iskjerne Bay, killing his own brother Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and ruling the country with an iron fist. Ivar waged a military campaign against several armies across the Multiverse which brought bad luck upon the Iskjerne Vikings and ultimately ended with his untimely death. This coincided with the rise of the equally ambitious King Harald Finehair who used the opportunity to seize the throne. At the same time, Ragnar's first wife Lagertha murdered Ragnar's second wife Aslaug Kraka and presuming Ragnar to be dead, remarried to King Harald Fairhair and became Iskjerne Bay's queen. Ragnar soon recovered and joined the space-faring Argosian Navy, becoming a citizen and changed his name to Reginarus, being appointed as a centurion in Livia the Legata's legion. The realm of Iskjerne Bay was plunged into the Dark Ages, and with history being lost, Ragnar's remaining sons were raised in confusion with comparative languages and mythologies surrounding their own origins.

Nobuo Takayama's consciousness was downloaded into a perfectly cloned body using M'tkee science and technology. Awakened from his own death, Nobuo now seeks vengeance against his son Shimizu, who is currently on Langara, but was disposed in Niihama by Nobuo's daughter Princess Yukiko, while Ragnar's sons Ubbe and Hvitserk (Halfdan the White) have been commissioned by King Harald Fairhair to purge Iskjerne Bay of all foreign influences on Norse pagan culture, and have been sent to Niihama City to slay Shimizu, who they now believe is the "mighty dragon" that killed their grandfather. Little do they know however that they stem from a far more primitive culture, and that their own beliefs are really a mixture of fact and fiction. Teaming up with some of the Rus Vikings, namely Rorik and Rulav, the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok have seized Argosian weapons and armor and have entered blindly into Taiyou territory using the Trojan Horse tactic, which has been successful.


Until now...

Niihama City... Sector Five.
Second generation after King Sigurd Hring's death.
The 4th year of Emperor Shimizu Takayama's reign.
Above the Surface...


Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Clink. The elevator shaft hummed as the crowd within stood quietly, awaiting their arrival to the facility's helipad. Ubbe Ragnarsson, also known as Ubba or Ubbi, dressed in Argosian armor and disguised as one of the Praetorian Guards, stood silently next to one of the Taiyou Soldiers inside the elevator, contemplating his next move behind the guise of a Praetorian masked helmet, concealing the awkward feeling he experienced from the G-Force of the upward moving elevator, something that neither him or his comrades had ever felt before. Ubbe's half-brother Hvitserk stood near him, dressed similarly in Argosian Praetorian attire. Hvitserk was the son of Aslaug the Seeress, a witch or völva who had passed on certain special abilities to her sons before she died. Hvitserk had inherited the gift of foresight, yet it was also a curse, something he could not control at will and which sometimes gave him horrible migraines.

Ubbe and Hvitserk were the leaders of their band. But they were dressed as lesser ranked Praetorians, while their allies the Rus Vikings, more educated in the Argosian language, were disguised as higher ranking soldiers. Rulav the Varangian was a native Rus Viking along with his brother Rorik (Rurik), but Rulav was disguised as the Argosian Decanus or commander of their troop, being the most linguistic of all the Iskjerne Vikings under Ubbe's command. General Masaharu Hama of the First Imperial Army stood in front of him facing the elevator door, within a sword's reach as Rulav stood behind him. At that moment, the Vikings easily could have taken the general and his men by surprise. Rulav made eye contact with Ubbe for a moment, but with his hands at his side, Ubbe discreetly motioned for his decanus to stand by and wait for further instructions. The other ten Vikings they had brought with them, disguised as captives, stood there silently with their heads down, looking demoralized and defeated as Rorik held the rolled up blanket containing their weapons, gazing at them as if watching them cautiously.

General Hama and his four Taiyou soldiers were outnumbered, and completely oblivious to the circumstances at that moment as the elevator slowly stopped at Niihama's surface. The large doors opened, followed by a second pair of armored doors as they reached Sector Five, letting in an acrid smell of polluted air brought upon by the cool breeze. The Vikings were already used to the smell, having grown up in a much harsher environment, and did not seem phased at all by the cooler air which to them seemed like hot air. It was raining at the time, and the sound of low rumbling thunder could be heard as the platform reached the surface. Lightning crackled and flashed as the elevator doors opened to reveal the rooftop of a large building like nothing Ubbe or his indirect kinfolk had ever seen before. To the general and his Taiyou soldiers, it was the land of the rising sun, but to the Vikings in Praetorian armor, it seemed like an enormous metropolis or megacity, something of a dark awe-inspiring nature akin to the realm of the Jotnar and their Nordic pagan deities.

General Masaharu Hama was the first to step out of the elevator, followed by Rulav, Ubbe and two of the Taiyou soldiers. The captives were pushed from behind by Hvitserk and Rorik as Rulav ordered them to exit the shaft, accompanied by the other two Taiyou soldiers. On the rooftop, Ubbe Ragnarsson noticed twelve other Taiyou soldiers in foreign masks and the Jigabachi attack helicopters with their spotlights shining upon their location. None of the Vikings had ever seen helicopters before, and in their own minds they began to question what these strange entities might have been with their whirling propellers and metal frameworks. Were these the spirits or wind gods that Ubbe's father Ragnar Lothbrok and their ancestors once told fanciful tales about? Each man began to ponder, making up their own perceptions based on personal beliefs which differed from person to person, yet nobody spoke aloud, keeping all of their thoughts to themselves. The presence of the Botanachi DRHC Tilt Rotor only added to the mystery as the Praetorian imposters reformed in a mannerly way, doing their best to keep in character and maintain their disguise.

Just then, General Hama paused, causing Rulav and the others to pause as well. Ubbe looked up at the large Armored Shrikes in front of him. These strange machines looked remarkably similar to the Jotnar or devouring cannibalistic ancestors his father had once spoke of, leading Ubbe and Hvitserk to believe that they had arrived in Jotunheim, the fabled realm of the giants. But they weren't perplexed, for that was to be expected, a fitting place for such a menacing enormous monster as Shimizu, whom they had come to hunt and slay with their newly acquired weapons. Jotunheim was a land of illusions after all, and the Jotnar were masters of strangely foreign magic, capable of shape-shifting and performing all sorts of fantastical feats. Perhaps even the general and his men were Jotnar in disguise, Ubbe thought, recalling the story of Thor the Thunderer and his journey to Utgard, when nothing was as it seemed. But as the Vikings caught sight of General Hazama and noticed the men in Umibozu uniforms along with General Hama's reaction, their gut instincts warned them that something was amiss.


Meanwhile...
Below the Surface in Oor Cavern...


The elevator platform was too small to accommodate everyone all at once. While Ubbe and his team took half of their crew to the surface, the other half had stayed behind, waiting for the next ride up. Four Praetorian imposters stood watch, guarding the other ten mock prisoners under the surveillance of a few Taiyou soldiers armed with Seburo C30 assault rifles. At first everything seemed okay, but as the minutes ticked by, the tension began to take hold. This was not part of the original plan, and the Vikings were beginning to get nervous. The elevator was slow moving, and nobody knew what to expect. What had they gotten themselves into? With Ubbe, Hvitserk, Rorik and Rulav no longer there to guide them, the remaining Vikings were left to their own thoughts. But idle hands are the devils playthings, so it is said, and soon the tensions became too much for them.

Suddenly, and without warning, one of the Viking captives placed his hand over his chest and started groaning. He fell over out of line, faking a heart attack and causing the others to become aroused. The imposters in Praetorian armor raised their shields and drew their nanosteel spathas, playing along as they pretended to try and calm the other nine prisoners, yelling over the heightened crowd and adding to the chaos and confusion that was baffling to the Taiyou soldiers, who raised their own rifles and pointed them at the captives, unsure what to make of the situation. But this was all a ruse, as the raised shields and clustered wall of prisoners actually blocked their view from the other Praetorian who had started to arm the captives with their own Viking weapons and armor. The Praetorian at the front of the crowd kept shouting for everyone to stand back and fall in line when suddenly, the second Praetorian turned and attacked one of the soldiers, thrusting his sword into the Taiyou guard's abdomen.

Before anyone knew what was happening, the Vikings turned on the Taiyou and began attacking them. Shots were fired, and a couple of the captives fell from the gunshots. But it was too late. The corridor doors were sealed shut. They were thick and heavy, muffling the sound of the gunshots as the Vikings, now enraged, started to overwhelm the Taiyou security. Within seconds, the remaining Vikings would kill the armed guards and seize their rifles, taking total control of a small corridor within the Taiyou underground facility. Their fate was fixed, and soon the rest of the captives began putting on their own armor and preparing themselves for battle. Their actions would not go unnoticed, however, as the security cameras in the corner of the closed off room would catch the whole thing on live feed. It would take a minute for the other Taiyou guards to see what was happening on their screens, but soon it was apparent that their security had been jeopardized. The Iskjerne Vikings had once again infiltrated their compound, this time in greater numbers than before.


Sector Five...
Back on the Surface of Niihama...


"Rikushō." General Hama said aloud, offering a brief salute by bringing his flattened hand to his forehead. General Hazama returned the salute, and frowned slightly, the body language of both generals being rather intense. Ubbe and his crew had noticed the change in the atmosphere surrounding them, but were unprepared for what was about to come next as General Hama began making gestures towards himself and Rulav, speaking in a language that none of them could understand. Rulav tried to put the words together, but Hama spoke too quickly and Rulav's understanding was too limited.

General Hama scowled and stepped away from them at that point. Unsure what to do, Rulav and his Praetorians started to follow him, but just then the dozen Taiyou soldiers surrounding them raised their assault rifles and pointed them directly at the imposters, causing them to stop. Ubbe and his crew stood still, silently for a moment, baffled and confused. That's when their whole world changed instantly. General Hazama spoke out to them through his loudspeaker. Only this time he wasn't speaking in Taiyou, but in a very familiar language that all of them could understand. Sigurd Hring's friend Takao Eguchi had taught the general how to speak the language of the Iskjerne Vikings, and the Taiyou general had become rather fluent in reading their native tongue.

"We have no quarrels with your people!" He shouted. "Put down your weapons and give up... Do this and we will allow you to live." the stand-in general commanded. "If you protest, we will use force... The choice is yours, challenge us at your own risk" Hazama warned, before lowering his loudspeaker. General Hama watched the Praetorians carefully to see how they would respond as a path was cleared for them to the rotor. He was testing Rulav and his team, and suddenly the Ragnarsson brothers felt their own hearts sink into their chests. Ubbe and Hvitserk looked at one another quietly before looking to Rulav and Rorik, all of whom were now staring at Ubbe Ragnarsson and waiting for his response. Ubbe swallowed his tongue nervously, and the tension grew rapidly as he turned and looked at the ten shirtless, unarmed mock prisoners it now seemed he had led to their doom.

"BAH-BOOM!!!"

Lightning struck a tall radio tower in the distance, followed by a cackling of loud thunder shortly afterwards. Combined with the falling rain hitting the rooftop, this was the only sound that would break through the overall silence of everyone near the helipad, who looked around quietly without saying anything. Milliseconds turned into a few seconds, which turned into almost half a minute of awkward silence. But to Ubbe and his crew, it seemed like an eternity, as if time itself had stopped completely. A million thoughts ran through his mind as he tried to contemplate every possible scenario and outcome within that brief moment of nervousness, looking around at all of the many different weapons pointed in his direction. Ubbe and Hvitserk had resolved to hunting and slaying the mighty iron-toothed fire breathing dragon that had supposedly killed their grandfather Sigurd, hoping to continue their family's legacy by walking in the footsteps of their father Ragnar Lothbrok, but now, they had failed both of them and each other as well.

The Vikings fixed their eyes on Ubbe, waiting for his command. They were half-expecting him to make a scene and do something extraordinary, perhaps raising his sword into the air and commanding them to charge forward against General Hazama and the Taiyou soldiers in some sort of daring heroic last stand. But instead, perhaps unexpectedly, he dropped his shield on the concrete rooftop with a loud clang and removed his helmet, revealing his face before also dropping the helmet as well. Upon seeing this, the other Vikings followed suit, removing their helmets and dropping their shields. Rulav and Rorik revealed their faces, along with Hvitserk, all of them looking baffled and fearful as they began disarming themselves, raising their hands into the air with open palms. To General Hama's surprise, the Umibozu's speech had actually worked. The Vikings, now exposed, had surrendered to their will, and gave up their disguise.

Unknown
The ex-lover, Devin stepped closer to Kai's hands moving up to cup his cheek his face empty of all emotion but strong love and relief. His hands were smooth and free of callouses of hard work that usually bequeath the servent role he had been working during the time they were lovers. He let out a pained laugh.

"I was saved from execution from your father. We came here for a mission but when I saw you.... I had to see you." He stepped back to take all of Kai in the happy glean turning into something bittersweet. "I tried to reach out to you.... I tried Kai. I still love you like the night sky."

He looked back over his shoulder peering through the trees as if he could see something Kai couldn't. "There is a clearing not to far ahead we could sit for a while, you seem like you have something on your mind raindrop. Please let me ease some of your troubles like I used to."


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Night was making enough noise that nearly everyone in the castle, not that was very many people, were drawn in. The merfolk stayed back wary of such a creature though had been assured this wasn't one that was dangerous. Night made them unsure.
Eärendil had stayed in his room under the water where he had gone after Kai left his door locked for even Caspian.

Liam was the one who stepped forward towards Night. Hands up and moving slow as he approached the spooked horse. "Woah Night, easy boy. Easy. It's okay, you're okay it's me." He stepped forward again grabbing the reins and slowly petting the horses neck. "There we go. Calm. You're save. Wheres Kai? It's not like you to leave your owner behind." Anxiety filled his chest as he wondered what was going on. His brother even in his emotions cared deeply for this horse and wouldn't be careless in leaving him alone. Something must have happened. Had he fallen from Night and was injured. He turned to the servants. "We shall set out and find my brother. Someone fetch the ambas-" He paused, was Caspian still the ambassador? Now that he knew who was really in charge. "Someone please request Caspian's attendance."

The Prince's Palace
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【”If anyone asks, I’m blaming the Wrath Demon”】
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【Main Room】
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While Vivian had truly enjoyed learning more about her mother, once Bezabelle came around, all her attention was stolen away.
“Be back in a while, my dear” said her adorable girlfriend, and Viv looked after her longingly as she walked away. She heard Ino chuckle and quickly looked back at him, but really, he wasn’t that interesting anymore. Bez’s gentle hands, and her soft kisses were…

Distracted, she didn’t really care when Ino stopped talking, seizing her chance to go look for Bez again. Plus, the wrath demon was hanging around, and she wasn’t sure she liked that very much.

Unfortunately, Ino had distracted her from seeing where Bez had gone. She checked the bedrooms, but not finding her there, Vivian ended up in her own room, laying down on the bed with a soft sigh.

It had barely been a day, but boredom was already setting in. She hadn’t brought along anything for personal entertainment, and though she knew some of the other demons had books, Viv wasn’t much of a reader. In her flowing dresses, she couldn’t really work out either – at least, until she truly stopped giving a fuck. Absently, she sat up again and tried to open a portal before her. She knew it was futile, but it still made her heart sink when nothing at all happened.

Portals had been Viv’s escape since she’d been a young girl. They were a deeply innate ability, and as a child, she’d been trained in their use to always get herself home. More determined now, she stood up, running through the steps as though she was a little girl. This time she almost felt something, thought it was to no effect. No portal opened before her.

The demon sat back down on the bed with a deep sigh. It felt wrong to be cut off from a facet of her power, and she’d almost hoped that there’d been an oversight that would allow her to escape. To Viv, portals and Earth had always been about freedom. Did Bezabelle like Earth? They’d met up there, so surely-

It was around this time that she registered the shouting from the main room. Listening closer, she went to the so-called ‘door’, looking out. Ino and Myut stood in the center of the room, holding hands, looking deeply into each others’ eyes. That…was an unexpected development, considering how Myut and Cyr had stared at each other. Maybe Myut was hoping to secure his place through romance? It was risky, but it could work. Not that it was a tactic she’d ever try…

Half-thinking of strategies she could use to ensure her and Bez’s safety, Viv was startled when Eris barrelled out of her room. Shortly, the painting was on the table, paint was spread around it, and the three demons were at work defacing the work of art.

”That’s not a good idea”

The words caught in her throat even as she came closer. Clearly, the trio didn’t care. This was so disrespectful, and under the circumstances, Viv knew she should stop them, but…how?

She was even closer now, and something else was beginning to happen. Viv hadn’t fingerpainted since she was a child, and…now, bored and stressed, she was abruptly missing it, badly.


”Can…can I join?” her voice seemed to surprise her, from the little way she flinched, standing a little straighter.

”Heck yeah,” said Eris, while Myut smiled and nodded, helping her feel more comfortable. Ino looked up with a small smile, apparently deeply invested in what he was doing to the Prince’s face.

With permission secured, she sat down in one of the chairs. Maybe, if she was careful, and didn’t do anything bad, this wouldn’t reflect badly on her. She cast about for inspiration and settled on the Princess’s face.

The Princess was a beautiful woman, her golden hair cascading over her shoulder. Viv stared at it for a while, then at the colours they had. Slowly, then with more gusto, she began to add yellow fingerprints, when decorating around them with colourful fingerprint petals. As she got more into it, she even experimented with different floral designs. It was no masterpiece, but the flowery crown she was constructing for the painted woman was certainly more respectful than the mustache and snake being painted on Abadeer.

She had her own thoughts on that, but she also didn’t feel like questioning the vindictive glee in Ino’s eyes.