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Maric Boone

"Don't judge a book by its cover".

0 · 398 views · located in Sanctum City

a character in “Gatewatchers”, as played by LookingAtPerks

Groups

If Gatewatchers became an Anime, this is how I would picture it.

Description

----------------------------------------------------------===========Gatewatcher Database Profile===========--------------------------------------------------------------------
Image
Name: Maric Boone

Nicknames: White Star, Maric the Undead, The Most Dangerous Gatewatcher Ever

Age: Appears 7 or 8, Actual Age is 26.

Mana Color: White

Preferred Magic Styles: Celestial Magic, Star Magic, Spatial Magic, Transmutation Magic, Illusion Magic, His Favoritest Toy in the whole world ever his dagger named Zu-Zu, which he says affectionately.

Height: Small (He doesn't allow anyone to measure him, stating "My height doesn't change, so I don't need people to remind me of it!"

Weight: Insignificant (His magic does let him affect gravity, so he can make himself weight whatever.

Eye Color: Brown normally, but they turn gray when using Mana, and in rare instances, white.

Hair Color: Green normally (somehow), but turns white in rare instances.

Unique Trait: Frozen State: Unless killed, any changes, injuries, aging, and so on his body has attained will be removed after some time. This only applies to things that are considered harmful though, as he is capable of becoming stronger and faster. However, since aging does have some harmful affects on the body, he is incapable of aging. Since if his mind grew up fully as well it would result in harm, parts of his personality have not aged either. This has resulted in a....unique....personality.

Strengths: Constantly underestimated, easy to miss, has a personality that makes it hard to be taken seriously if known in person.

Weaknesses: Has personality traits that can be taken advantage of, finds it difficult to get the respect of most people who meet him in person, hates being treated like a little kid when it makes it so he cant get or do what he wants.

Background: Most details are classified. However, Maric has one flaw that people must always be aware of and keep an eye out for. Due to the fact he cannot grow up, he will never be able to be in a real relationship. This has....unfortunately...resulted in some behaviors that while are not hostile, are not recommended either. Lets just say, he is persistent. Pretty girls beware.

All other details are classified by the Gatewatchers.

So begins...

Maric Boone's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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Sneaking in had been relatively easy for Zane. He had examined building security before, so it was a breeze to get through the first few levels undisturbed. Using the mimicry kits, the sensor disruptors, and everything else, he had made it to the top floor, where only the CEO and the top employees got. And he understood why it was only the top employees. He stood there, wide eyed, with his red and white jacket with his hood up, looking at what appeared to be saw blades, lasers, and spikes that shot in and out of walls in the hallway in front of him.

"This guy has insane security" Zane mentioned, as fire erupted in the middle of it all and then dissipated. "Okay, that's just overkill".

Still, Zane could manage it. He examined every moving piece, analyzing it all, memorizing its placement, and then he timed it just right. He dodged the saw blades, jumped through the lasers, during the time the spikes were shooting back in, and right as the fire erupted behind him, got through before the spikes shot out. "Whew, that was interesting".

He walked into the next room, and there it was. The treasure room. However, his Oracle ability let him know something bad was about to happen. He ducked as a giant broadsword swung where his neck used to be, and he jumped back to gain distance. As he did, he spotted the two red gems he had come here for. And on the other side of the room, the Crime Boss Emerian Jones.

"Well well, if it isn't the so called 'Crimson Mage', Zane Bell. The only one to learn Blitz style within two years" he mentioned, as he braced his Broadsword. "I have to admit, I was thinking of eliminating you for awhile now. You and your 'Helping' has caused a lot of damage to my businesses!"

"You mean your crime spree! I know you used Mana to manipulate people to work for you for less then they should, and use hypnosis spells in your commercials to get people to come to you! Truth is, I wanted to hit you for awhile now, but now I have a great excuse" Zane said with a half smile, touching the ground with his index and middle finger before raising back up and facing his opponent, pointing both fingers at him. "Hope you are ready to lose!".

"I don't think so!" he said, swinging his blade around and causing a supersonic slash attack. Two. He used two focuses for the attack, movement and item. Zane barely was able to dodge the attack, and then launched one of his own. He employed fire into both his fists, and then smashed them together, creating a tidal wave of fire. Unfortunately, he used his broadsword to slash through the fire, but this gave Zane an opening to launch a lighting attack that hit him directly. However, he remained standing. "A simple electrical attack? My magical defense is too strong for those kinds of things! Give up now!"

"NEVER!" Zane yelled, unleashing a wave of fire at him, which he just cut through again. However, Zane then appeared behind the slash, taking advantage of a moment of weakness for him to strike with. He managed to get Static Burnfist to hit, but suddenly, the sword came back around and sent him flying. As it did, he appeared over him, smashing Zane down into the ground and inflicting severe damage. Zane sent a massive electric attack at him, but again his magical defense blocked it. It became clear to Zane that he practiced a defense type magic, likely Sho Rho or Battleguard Style.

Alright, alright. So I will need more advanced spells then my lighting bolt. Projectile attacks mean nothing with his broadsword's defensive capabilities, which means I need to score direct hits with lightning fast attacks. His broadsword is also strong enough to break through Dragons Fang...but...I might be able to use...yeah, that's it! Zane summoned a large amount of fire in both hands.

"Don't you know? My wind will blow out your fi-" the man started, then fire and lightning suddenly started to blaze all around Zane. He put both his hands together and intense mana built around him. "What the! What are you doing?"

"Ultimate Spell Technique! The Ultimate Sword of Fire and Lightning, Blazestorm Zero!" he shouted, before slashing with it. "Burning Lightningslash!"

The boss blocked with his broadsword, but he still got hit with some of the attack and was injured. "The fuck? A runt like you can summon Blazestorm Zero? Fine then, guess I will have to fight at full power!"

Good, that's what I wanted. After all, your full power is nothing like her full power. Even knowing her tricks, her power level is immense. I would die if I fought her as I am now. By fighting you, I will grow more powerful. By gaining the gems after that, it will boost my power even more. And then, I will fight on her level. I will beat her! I will! The sheer power of his thoughts combined with his mana, causing a shockwave to emit from the top of the building.

"What the fuck, who are you? Where is all this power coming from?!"

"Its because there is someone in this world stronger then you, and she killed my mother and father. And I intend to end her, one way or another! So there is no fucking way I am losing to a guy like you!"

"No one talks to me like that! I will show you true power! I am more then just a businessman, I am a hunter! I have captured many spirits and creatures, and can draw on their strength!" he shouted, as he pulled out a bracelet. Zane recognized the gem in the center as a Demon Capture Charm. To draw power from a Demon Class Entity was dangerous, not to mention stupid. But somehow, Zane had really pissed the guy off. Zane hoped it wouldn't weaken his battle skills. Zane needed a strong opponent to train him. However, while he was busy charging up on Demon Juice, Zane grabbed the gems and stuffed them into his pants pocket.

"No one steals from me!" he shouted, shattering all the windows. Clearly, Zane might have pushed him a little too far. But, he did want to battle this guy. He was the boss because he was tougher then everyone else. If he beat him, it would prove Zane was ready to take on Rose. Rose was even stronger, so he had to beat this asshole. He had no other choice!

He had to do it for his father.

Suddenly, the man moved at unrealistic speed towards Zane, and his blade was at his neck. He nearly landed a lethal blow, when a burst of red light appeared from his pocket. Suddenly, a phoenix appeared in front of him and deflected the attack. "What the....who are you?"

"I am the Phoenix, Aurell. I was sealed away inside those gemstones, but your mana awoken me from my slumber. Your mana, your emotions, your thoughts. I have heard your pleas, your quest, your heart, and I have decided to join with you on your noble cause!"

Zane wasn't sure what, or how, but he did know why. Phoenixes are known as the Noble Magic Bird. They are known as healers and warriors, defenders of the just by the Mana User society. They exist to help keep the peace. And, they are hopeless romantics and are almost always prey to a bleeding heart story. But, you know, no one is perfect.

Still, Zane had his doubts this wasn't all planned. A staff that works perfectly for him, leading him to gemstones that led to a perfect ally for him? Someone was pulling the strings in the shadows. Someone had carefully managed to manipulate his moves, and that was not easy to do without him noticing for so long. The issue is, whoever was doing it was an ally since they were helping him. So, who is it, and why are they being so elusive?

Still, Zane had to focus on the matter at hand. It was just so annoying, who was this ally who was keeping to the shadows? Who set this all up?

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"Everything going as planned?" Loki asked his mysterious accomplice on the phone. "Good. Continue the operation".

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Artemis would soon be approaching Minori who was with Cedric, to ask her about Rose, and about learning spells the Gatewatchers had kept secret due to their danger....and their strength. All the while, being watched by a stranger in the distance on the phone.

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Rose looked out into the stormclouds, with a phone to her head. "I don't care what anyone says, he must die".

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A man with a cigar looked out towards Zane, watching him while holding a magically infused Revolver in his hand. "Understood. Just keep up your end".

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A mysterious young boy wearing a brown cloak with a hood walks into the outskirts of town, looking at the sunset. He couldn't be very old, but his mana signature was enormous. He was on the phone with someone. "Don't worry, I got everything under control. After all, dead men tell no tales. Just remember your end of the bargain".

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A man with a magically infused Sniper Rifle took aim at Selena, while on the phone. "I am about to complete the job now, just one or two shots and I will disappear. Target locked. Taking aim. Firing in three, two, one...."

Click.

(I bet I got all your attentions now!)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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(So, iv been working on this post for awhile now! Hope you guys enjoy! This makes 4/4 on Battles I instigated that contain plot development or are at least plot relevant! >:O) (Sidenote: Artemis is female. Remember this)

Zeus smiled as he watched Artemis approach Midori and Cedric. He looked back at his orders from the boss, and then across the street, where other then the kid playing outside everyone else was inside the building. He had to eliminate that specific person, but attacking all of them should hide who his true target was. He just smiled, as he stroke one of the lightning bolt tatoos on his arm. "Oh, how the plot thickens".

He then sent a storm of lightning at the whole building they were in. Except, before it hit, the lightning was suddenly reflected back at Zeus. He only barely managed to dodge it, but now he was pissed. This was supposed to be a simple sneak attack, yet something reflected his attack? It should have been too fast, and none of them were aware of his presence, so none of them could have known he was there attacking. The only one who could actually see him was the boy on the street.

Suddenly, that is when Zeus noticed it. It was only he and that boy on the street, no one else. So how did...

Zeus suddenly jumped back when he felt a mana spike emerge in the boy, even though before he had no mana presence at all.

Meanwhile, Artemis was temporarily caught off guard by the mana spike. This mana....could it be....? She shook it off though, he could investigate that later. She looked back towards Minori and Cedric. "I trust you know who I am? Gatewatcher Fukutawa, or if you would prefer Minori, I recived some...disturbing...reports reguarding an incident at the museum. Due to the attack on the Eastern HQ on the same day, and the fact our Gatewatchers nearly got massacered in that Museum, the Local Gatewatcher Council has decided to investigate, as well as to investigate a breach in Gatewatcher security reguarding the apparent leakage of Gatewatcher intelligence, at least around the Infinity Spells. I want to know everything about the museum, as well as what you know about this Red Mana User, Zane Bell".

Meanwhile on the outside, Zeus faced off against the kid, who was now the only one on the street with him. Not even a single car or pedestrian passed by. And this kid eminated an aura that was insane. How did he not sense it before?

"Alright, kid, who the fuck are you and what the fuck did you do here?"

The boy simple smiled. "The name is Maric Boone. And what we are standing in right now is a Super Super Happy Happy Fun Fun Zone. Its a Spatial Zone that phases Mana and Mana users out of sync with the normal world, so you can't go and hurt other people or expose magic. Its difficult to even sense one's mana when your not in the same phase. And, it lets me be able to fight at full power".

"That won't change anything, except now I have a name for your tomb stone!" Zeus yelled. "Lightning Spear!"

Maric pulled out his small dagger, named Zu-Zu. "Infinity Counter!"

Infinity Counter. The fourth Infinity Spell. Uses a bit of mana, but it will reflect an enemies attack back at them with increased strength. It can only be used on a single attack though, so a spell that fires multiple projectiles would get through it. Zeus was hit by the lightning, but he managed to block most of the damage. It was his own attack, after all. However, before he could get a word in, Maric pointed his dagger at Zeus. "Zu Zu Special Swarm Attack Go!"

Suddenly, hundreds of Zu-Zus appeared out of thin air and attacked Zeus. The swarm clones were not as strong, but they still hurt Zeus despite his lightning shield. Zeus then fired lightning back at Maric, but he threw down the dagger, which acted like a lightning rod. "Alright, Zu-Zu Super Expansive Growth Activate!"

Suddenly, the small, tiny dagger known as Zu-Zu turned into a giant blade that was three times the size of Maric. Maric picked it up like it was nothing. In response, Zeus created a lightning sword, and clashed blades with him. The first attack caused them to repel each other, but the next sent Maric backwards a little, but Zeus with a cut on his arm. His blade bent the very space around it to ensure a cut, even if it was a minor one. Maric was no normal Gatewatcher, or even a normal person. As he charged up his blade, glowing stars appeared all over his skin. Invisible Magic Tatoos, that only become visible when in use and only to those with mana or are otherworldly. The same kind Rose, Newton, Dreamy, and Zeus have. Just like the terrorists.

"Thats it! You might be able to stop one attack, but can you stop me from attacking every single innocent person around and yourself at the same time?! Ultimate Storm! Raging Thunder Hurricane!"

Several bolts of lightning came at him, but instead of using mana to block, he jumped up over the lightning, made a one handed landing, jumped off that hand again, and then kicked Zeus square in the face, knocking him back against the wall. Zeus however let loose a powerful lightning attack before Maric had a chance to counter. It was clear to Maric based on what he said earlier he wasn't the smartest one of them, but he found it strange. According to the reports he got, Rose was capable of defeating five of the strongest Gatewatchers herself, and Newton brought down a whole building solo. So how is it this one wasn't anywhere near as fun? Was he just an underling, or was there some conditions other then the tattoos and specialized magic that made them more powerful?

Suddenly, that energy charged up into his sword.

"Zu-Zu Star Slash!"

As he swung Zu-Zu, a large amount of energy stars came at Zeus with precision and force. It knocked him back, but in response, several lightning bolts came at Maric from different directions. He tried to establish a null void barrier, basically removing all matter to create an empty vacume which would cause the lightning to fizzle, but no such luck. The lightning hit him directly. His magical defense took most of the damage, but it pushed him back towards the building the others were in. He was pushed through the window. It was then, in that instant, he cast three different spells. The first one expanded the phase zone so that he couldn't hurt anyone inside. The second one created an illusion around the broken window to make it seemed like it was in perfect condition. And the third stopped him from ramming into a wall, but instead into Minori.

Artemis scowled. "Oh great, its him. One of the most elite Gatewatchers, the White Star, Maric Boone. Known for being a master of Celestial and Star magic. However, he is known for one other thing..."

Maric winked at Midori as he pushed off of her chest to get back on his feet. "Hey, sorry about landing on you beautiful. I will make it up to you, maybe take you back to my place afterwards".

"...he is also known for being the youngest 26 year old, and a complete and total flirt, and partial perv".

"Sorry about interrupting, please return to whatever you were talking about" he said with a face full of childish innocence. "I will make sure he doesn't make more of a mess, so no one gets disturbed. Afterwards, we need to have a calm, friendly conversation. For some reason, I was called in because of some ruckus about a mole? So, here I come to find you guys, and this meanie gets in my way!".

"Did you just fucking call me a meanie? Now I am going to fucking use lightning to rip your head...." he started, but then in the blink of an eye, Maric was right next to him, and got a full, critical hit on Zeus knocking him backwards. When Zeus got up, Artemis charged up her own power, Gravity Crush, and began crushing Zeus with overwhelming gravity. Enough that he turned into lightning and ran off. "Don't think this is over, shrimp!"

Maric then used his spatial magic to remake the window he broke by having all the pieces return to their original spatial configuration, and then used mana to fuse them together, before looking back at the other three. "Maric Boone, Elite Gatewatcher, here from New York City to sniff out our mole, at your service! Now, can you also tell me about this mana user named Rose, and this other one named Newton, as well as all current suspects please?"

Artemis shook her head. "The number of suspects right now is endless, because we have no idea who or what total information has been leaked. But we think its someone high up on the command structure, which eliminates all of you as suspects. It could be someone who works closely with the intelligence department though, they would also have access. Personally though, I am suspicious of Loki's actions".

"Really?" Maric asked. "Cause he is the one who contacted Regional Command about the mole. Who I am suspicious of is Arkangel, actually. He always wears that Arkangel armor, so no one even knows if its the same guy, and no one has confirmed his mana color even for the past eight. Though I am kinda distracted by being sad right now. I heard that this Rose fought five Gatewatchers and won, only to run away on a technicality. And her brother, Newton, brought down Eastern HQ. This guy I just fought, Zeus, must be an underling, or conditions were not met to fully charge his power. Though, if he is an underling, and they have more underlings like him, that could be big trouble for a lot of innocent people".

Artemis looked at him, half puzzled and half shocked. He was disappointed his opponent was not strong enough? Was it because he didn't get to use his favorite Ultimate Move? Or because he did not find it hard enough? Artemis could usually figure people out, but Maric? Other then his obvious womanizing nature, nothing about Maric made sense to her, because of his unique situation and personality. It made reading Maric, the true Maric, much more difficult then anyone else. She looked back towards Minori and Cedric. "I should point out, both of you are not suspects. Cedric, simply put, everyone knows your mana color, so you attract far too much attention to be the spy. And Minori, Rose would have killed you, and your position also attracts too much attention to be the mole. As a result, both of you are cleared. And, Maric can't be the mole, because he only arrived today, which means he simply doesn't have the timeframe. And with the attempt on my life, I am cleared as well. But seriously, are you sure we can trust Loki? Even for a councilor, he seems secretive, and always jumps to eliminating anything unknown, or learing everything about it via whatever means he can use".

"Hold on, by that logic, wouldn't Councilors be exempt too?" Maric asked.

"Considering how much power we have, no. Any of the other four could be the spy" Artemis replied, before looking back at Minori and Cedric. "Thats part of the reason why I am here. I need to know, if you have any theories on who the spy could be?"

Deep down though, Maric had a suspicion. Zeus was clearly trying to wipe these three out, probably because none of them could be the mole. But how did they know all three would be together? That is what troubled Maric. That is what didn't make sense.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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Minori could tell as soon as the question left her lips that Cedric had been thinking about this a good deal, watching with curiosity as he slipped off his ring.

"Unfortunately the first thing on my list is to stare down my own mana and see just how far I can take it without completely breaking my own mind. You know I have negative reactions to my mana use."

A fact Minori knew well, though Cedric wasn't as keen on the idea of figuring that out as she was. Or he was afraid of needles after the last time... It was hard to tell since most of her specimens couldn't exactly complain. So far the closest she could tell was either Cedric had an allergic reaction to his own mana, or he somehow was rejecting his own mana color. He certainly didn't behave like most black mana users. Hell, she'd peg Selena as one before Cedric.

"This little gem has been dutifully regulating just how much mana I use at a time, keeping the reactions to a pleasant 'migraine from hell and the feeling that your muscles are trying to tear off of your bones.' as opposed to having my soul and consciousness forcibly ripped into two and fighting to the death. Pro tip, if you ever want to experience something similar, ask Selena to heal you with wild mana. It'll give you a new appreciation life... and death."

'I can imagine," she said, focusing more on the ring now than the conversation, though his next words took a hold of her interest again. It was no offense to Cedric, but the scientist had a one track mind, and putting any mana related weirdness in front of her was a guaranteed victor for her attention. She nearly lost her arm once because a specimen howled in a way she'd never heard before as she was in the middle of feeding another.

"After that, I really don't know, maybe a familiar. I've experienced minor power gains while controlling certain gateway inhabitants that didn't seem to increase my reactions at the same rate, almost like I could use there mana by proxy. Something that gave a sizable power boost would require a lot of initial mana to bring under control though."

Minori smiled. "Oh dear, now that would be a challenge..." She said playfully, grinning when Cedric realized who he was talking to.

"You want to come to my lab, then? I've plenty of suitable specimens... though I'll sick Selena on you f you don't return them in a good of health as when you took them. I think you might like Gertrude or Sebastian... Cecil is off limits though," She mused, not bothering to explain the creatures that bore those names.

As Cedric mulled that information over, the bartender came to take their drink orders, Cedric getting his usual and Minori politely asking for a glass of bourbon and a plate of chicken tenders if they had them. It was a safe option for bar food, she believed, and she had yet to have lunch.

Cedric excused himself after that, in order to change clothes, which Minori didn't mind in the least. It was weird seeing Cedric in rags like that, though she couldn't help but imagine what entity they encountered to do that to him in the first place. Chances were pretty good she might fight that member of Rose's group rather than Rose herself, assuming she wasn't near Zane when Rose struck again.

'Mana? Outside...' Minori thought, her mana sense kicking in as she felt several signatures closing in on them. Three notable signatures, one quickly closing in on another, and the third was coming from the opposite direction at a casual pace.

By the time Cedric returned from his business and made his quip to the bartender, The casually paced mana source entered the bar and revealed itself to be Artemis, who Minori stood briefly to salute before enthusiastically accepting her food and drink from the bartender.

"I trust you know who I am? Gatewatcher Fukutawa, or if you would prefer Minori, I recived some...disturbing...reports reguarding an incident at the museum. Due to the attack on the Eastern HQ on the same day, and the fact our Gatewatchers nearly got massacered in that Museum, the Local Gatewatcher Council has decided to investigate, as well as to investigate a breach in Gatewatcher security reguarding the apparent leakage of Gatewatcher intelligence, at least around the Infinity Spells. I want to know everything about the museum, as well as what you know about this Red Mana User, Zane Bell"

"I would prefer Minori," the scientist started, taking a drink from her bourbon and a bite from her food before she continued, "and I'll tart with the incident at the museum, if its of no consequence to you, mam. For starters, it was a trap. The woman known as Rose planned that location very carefully for that showdown, and I believe has a precognitive in her employ. She knew how to pick each of us apart, which would be impossible without knowing who would respond to the Museum call ahead of time. She also used a gateway to revive a mana user from his sarcophagus in the museum," Minori said, glaring just a moment at Artemis before continuing.

"As for Zane..." She started, but instinctively ducked before she could continue, though was unable to avoid having the small child ram into her as he was flung through the window from outside. The force of it knocked her to the ground, landing on her back as glass fell on the kid who had landed on top of her.

Artemis begrudgingly introduced him as Maric Boone, though the placement of his hands as he pushed himself off of her said all Minori cared to know about the gatewatcher.

"Hey, sorry about landing on you beautiful. I will make it up to you, maybe take you back to my place afterwards", Maric said, electricity instinctively crackling to life on her skin as if to dare the boy to touch her again.

"Where? A McDonald's Playplace?" Minori growled as she got to her feet and swept herself off, ignoring Zeus as she looked back to Artemis, who seemed almost as annoyed at Maric as Minori was.

"...He's also the youngest looking twenty six year old, and a complete and total flirt," Artemis explained, practically cringing at the indignity of having the explain that to one of the Gatewatchers in her employ.

"Unfortunate. Back to Zane..." Minori started, though Zeus began yelling obscenities and made it impossible for the young woman to think. She was about to deep freeze him herself when Maric finally finished the fight he had insisted on taking into the bar. Minori couldn't help but cast a forlorn glance at the chicken tenders that lay on the floor now, covered in the broken glass and bourbon from her drink.

She decided then to take her bad day out on Maric should he so much as look at her in a way she disliked.

"Maric Boone, Elite Gatewatcher, here from New York City to sniff out our mole, at your service! Now, can you also tell me about this mana user named Rose, and this other one named Newton, as well as all current suspects please?" He said in a chipper tone, and Minori began to immediately tune out the conversation as a result. She could care less about this mole unless they had intentions of stealing her notes or specimens. Internal Investigations existed purely for this purpose, and she wasn't in that department for a very good reason.

"Thats part of the reason why I am here. I need to know, if you have any theories on who the spy could be?"

Minori let out a soft sigh and rubbed her temples in annoyance. "Well, if I had to guess, it would be someone with access to the same method of locating us you would have, mam, as the only people who knew we would be here were Cedric and myself. Sillo teleported us from the museum back to what used to be HQ, and I only mentioned going to a bar to Aldred. I never said which one..." Minori said, crossing her arms and looking back to Artemis.

"So we're going to need to drop the secrecy act if you're earnest about this mole. Tell us how you found us, we destroy the thing telling you, and we hold this conversation elsewhere. Otherwise, no information can be said without it immediately being compromised and assumed to be known by the enemy. Furthermore... If space and time are absolute, then the speed of light must be relative, depending upon the speed of the observer. The speed of light is absolute and does not depend upon the speed of the observer, therefore, either space or time must be relative," she said, her incantation to slow time activating just as Minori reared back her hand, slapping Maric across the face as hard as she could manage before dropping the spell, only using it long enough for the strike.

"...I don't like being touched, and I couldn't care less about the cause for the contact. You being thrown through a window had no bearing on where you chose to put your hands when you got off of me," She spat, walking back over to Cedric and effectively turned her back to the conversation for the time being. She wouldn't consider Cedric a close friend, but she felt more comfortable with him acting as a barrier between herself and Maric, or just being near him in general.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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"I want to drink in peace, but we can't always get what we want..." Cedric mumbled as Artemis launched strait into business, basically ignoring the fact that Cedric had returned. Minori gave a run down of the events at the museum, which Cedric didn't pay much attention to since he'd been filled in. Instead he looked out the window, which lead to a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, and the realization that there was a black mana user nearby.

He didn't have time to say anything about it though, as the window exploded, a small body flying through it and landing atop Minori. "Fucking Boone?" Cedric moaned as Artemis began an introduction, which was made all the more awkward by Maric himself, being the perv that he was. "First impressions never cease to amaze." another sigh. Cedric hadn't exactly known Maric, but he had seen him around on occasion, and was decidedly not a fan.

Minori didn't seem to be a fan either. "Where? A McDonalds Playplace?" she shot back at his oh so smooth pick up line. The thought of the elite gatewatcher fumbling around in a ball pit put a grin on Cedric's face as he let out a chuckle. Before he could even turn his attention to the other mana user Maric was already set about mopping up. Cedric didn't like him, but he couldn't deny that the kid was good at what he did.

He caught Minori's glance at the ruined food, and sent a wave to Andy that clearly meant "We're gonna need another one of those."

The few other patrons hadn't seen anything, but Andy had dealt with Cedric enough to not ask questions. The man wasn't a mana user, but he was one of the few people outside of the organization Cedric trusted enough to have filled in on his occupation. Andy also had a small arsenal of weapons with magic bullets and mana scopes, he may have been much more than a barkeep in his former life. So the man simply nodded and set to work on getting another plate.

The conversation turned to who the mole could be, and Rose and Newton. "Well, Newton tried to kill me by flattening a large building. So all I know about him is that I'm gonna have to flatten a slightly larger building on top of him." Cedric shrugged. "I was a little busy at the time for much else. Oh, he's got a black mana signature the size of Ireland. As for the mole, it's not Minori, she likes the labs to much to let people go around crushing gatewatcher buildings. I'd guess Selena would have let me die if she was a mole. So, basically every one else." Cedric shrugged again. "That's not what they pay me for, but if I was going to think about it, I'd look at people who mysteriously show up places to speak to people that made no record of where they were going." he probably could have veiled that a little better, or at all, but he wasn't really excited about the fact that a casual 'normal' drink had been interrupted. He also wasn't entirely happy about Maric crashing through his window, even if the man had mended the damage.

He let out another completely unveiled laugh as Minori slowed time to slap Maric square across the face before she moved to stand near him, clearly not interested in continuing any further with the man. "Well, now that we've got that out of the way. How about you two hurry of to internal investigations and do what ever snooping needs done? I intend to have a drink before I cast myself into the oh so entertaining task of preparing for this mission."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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As the Phoenix deflected the shot, some strange markings appeared on Zane's skin. Zane recognized the symbol on his right arm, it was the symbol of the Phoenix, bonding the two of them. But the other symbols were written in an Eldrich language he didn't understand. It wasn't Arcanic, it was something stranger, older. But somehow, he could tell, it was fueled by his desire to become stronger. To defeat Rose, his parent's murderer. Aurell looked back at him. "Zane, control your emotions and focus! Those symbols are not something you should use!"

Zane snapped out of it, and withheld the symbols he didn't understand. He clashed blades with Emerian Jones, who was now part demon and whose broadsword burned him with demonic energy. As they clashed though, the demonized man smiled at him. "Those symbols...I see now, so thats who you are...valuable indeed, I guess I should leave you alive after all....once I break every bone in your body!"

"Not...going to...happen!" Zane shouted while under strain, repelling the attack with Blazestorm Zero. Still, he couldn't run. If he didn't win here, he would never beat Rose. But would one battle really give him enough strength to allow him to fight Rose? The jewels alone would strengthen his power, and the Phoenix now moreso, and with his knowledge of Rose's tricks, he would be able to ensure she wouldn't weaken him again. But even then, would it be enough? What if he failed?

Zane quickly realized he got distracted for a second, and tried to react to an attack but was too late. However, before the broadsword struck him, someone else had appeared from nowhere and blocked it...with a revolver. Zane stood in awe as he looked at his mana levels. A spell seemed to have temporarily paralyzed the enemy as well that came from him. "Who...are you?"

"A friend. However, I won't be helping you again. I only stopped that attack because you got distracted with worry you would not get strong enough to fight your real enemy, right? That if you couldn't beat him, you couldn't beat that woman either?"

"How do you know so much?" Zane asked.

The man smiled. "Sorry, secret. But, you have to remember one thing". He took out something and handed it to Zane. Zane looked down at it, and it was a Gatewatcher's ID, Emeregency Beacon, and Enchanted Phone and earpiece. "You are not alone. You might not like all the things they do, but everyone has differences of opinion. You have friends there, so you know this. So stop acting like you will be fighting Rose alone. Even if they are not there physically, their mana, their skills, their friendships, their techniques are always there, helping you get stronger. Because they are the people who you fight for when you cannot fight for your family".

Suddenly, the man disappeared, and the man unfroze. All this time, Zane fought for two things. The truth, and for vengeance. As an orphan, he grew up alone. He was used to being alone. He expected to be alone. He was used to the turmoil inside of him. So never once did he consider this. This man, he hurt a lot of people in Alleytown. He considered that it would help them, but it was never a reason he was here to fight, or he would have shown up sooner. That was different now. Now, it was a reason. Now, it was a part of him.

So when Jones attacked again at full force, he blocked the attack with Blazestorm Zero...using one hand. He wasn't alone. "Aurell. We are not going to be allies. We are going to be friends".

"I have no complaints about that" Aurell mentioned, flying out from Zane's arm and attacking the demon man.

Meanwhile, Jones looked in anger. "How? Blazestorm Zero takes two hands to use at full power! You cannot use it with just one!"

"I can" Zane said. "I can because my friends need me to".

Aurell smiled a little inside. Actually, that is sort of true, but not completely. Your mind is so focused now. Before, you were too distracted by another opponent. By another fight. It was weakening your magical power. But now, you are focused and sharp. There is more then one way to strengthen yourself, just like there is more then one way to weaken an opponent. One's conviction affects their mana strength. And now that Zane is focused, he can use his teachings to their fullest...

Zane meanwhile flashed back to what he learned from his master, about the truth of magical fighting styles. While it certainly helps to learn one, in the end mana is different to each and every person, and so their fighting style differs.

"Something always bothered you about learning Blitz Style. Tell me, what is it Zane?" "Its just, some of what you teach, it seems a little contradictory. And what if I cannot keep up a steady pace of attacks because someone's defense would counter it? What if I have to wait and take time?" "To be honest, Blitz Style does have a secondary method. People hear Blitz and assume a flurry of attacks. But in truth, Blitz style is all about the Blitz of the enemies movements. Figuring out how to keep them on the defense or the retreat, finding the weaknesses in their defense, and then exploiting them. Blitz isn't just about speed. It's about timing. Choosing the right time to attack, and the right time to strike". "Hold on, aren't they the same thing?" "When you are in a battle against a difficult opponent, you will realize what I mean".

I understand now what you mean, Master. And this is my plan of attack for this battle... Suddenly, a large amount of magical energy focused into his free hand, and smashed it into the stomach of Emerian Jones, sending him flying. However, he suddenly sprouted wings, and turned around midair and charged back towards him. The broadsword was going to be a pain, but Zane had no intention of losing. Last time, technically he and the other Gatewatchers lost against Rose. Sure, they left the battle alive, but only barely, and it was certainly a defeat more then a victory. After all, it had been five vs. one. Zane brought his full strength to his next attack, and charged forward. Before the two clashed though, the phoenix flew in front of him. "Phoenix Feather Portal!"

Suddenly, Zane went through a portal and appeared behind Jones. He slashed one of the wings, sending him crashing into the ground, before Zane landed on him again, and stabbed his right arm, causing him to lose grip of his broadsword and drop it to the ground, sliding across the floor to the far wall. Zane stepped back. "Alright, now together! Burning Phoenix Fire Wave!"

"This again, I will just..." Jones started, when he realized he had dropped his broadsword. Was that his intention the whole time? All the sword clashes, had that all been to measure his grip strength? Were all of his attacks simply to prepare for this final strike? After all, Jones' main hand was his right. Furthermore, the wing he hit was the left, which ended up making the right easier to hit. And that was when Jones saw it. There was another mana color underneath the red. There was...white mana. "Just who the fuck is this kid? Is he even human?"

And then the fire wave hit him, full force, with Phoenix energy to increase power. He looked at the Phoenix, and he could see it in its face. "So, thats why it was so easy..."

Jones fell to the ground. Although Zane knew he should have survived the attack, he started to crumble into dust. Zane looked confused. "What is going on? That wasn't a lethal hit, not for a mana user".

"Its the demon's energy. He needed to drain you of your energy so that he could live without the demon class entity. He did this to himself though, your mana would probably have poisoned him anyways. No matter what he did, he was dead the moment he used the demonic power" Aurell told Zane. "His blood is not on your hands".

"His might not, but hers? Hers soon will" Zane told Aurell, as he fit the gemstones into the slots of the scepter. He felt his mana level increase on the spot. "So this is the power of an item focuser infused with mana? It still won't be enough for me to take her on, but....I won't be alone either".

As Zane began to head through the doors, Jones got up with his broadsword recalled towards him and charged towards Zane. Zane made a handsign. "Eight Trigram Seal! Explosive trap!"

Suddenly, the floor Zane had touched earlier at the very beginning of the battle revealed trigrams, and an explosion occured right as Jones went over it, finishing him off.

"You are stronger, and you know Rose's secrets" Aurell commented. "So why are you not happy?"

"Because of two things. One, that man isn't the one behind all this. He wouldn't have revealed himself if he was, he would have been more subtle. And two, there is no way they could prepare this unless one of the Local Council had authorized it. Which means, there is at least two people hiding things from me that I should know" Zane told Aurell. "I don't know what is going on, but its possible I am just a pawn for a bigger scheme. And I don't know if this scheme is something to support, or stop".

"You shouldn't let this distract you" Aurell warned.

"I won't. But before the rematch with Rose, I need answers".

Suddenly, a large influx of power emerged from the center of the room. Music Zane turned around, only to see a Rose stuck in the ground, and a Gateway opening right in front of him. As it did, a strange bubble invisible to those without mana emerged from it, surrounding the whole top of the building. "What the...?"

"Its a Null Zone! Beings from other worlds take exponentially longer to manifest in the real world depending on their power and size, and so the Gateway will project a bubble, known as a Null Zone due to the fact it nullifies the disruptive affects of entering a new world until it is completed, to allow it to stabilize in our world. It means, we have company. Alright, its time to get to work!"

Suddenly, Zane's power spiked even greater. He was focused now, and his focus gave him strength. And he would need it, because his opponent was strong. Dark energy came through the Gateway, and flowed into the remains of Jones, causing a new, monsterous form to be created. It was a demonic figure of untold scariness and power. "Well well, if it isn't a runt".

Zane twitched, and his power spiked further. "Did you just call me a runt!?!? Time you got a taste of Blazestorm Zero!"

"Lets go, runt!" it yelled, as the two charged towards each other. The demon summoned a blade of darkness, and countered the attacks from Bladestorm Zero. All of the attacks. Whatever this demon was, it was even more powerful. The blades clashed, and huge amounts of power vented out, practically putting a mana flare on the building. The power was so intense, the glass completely shattered. They fianlly disengaged the clash, and Zane's power kept increasing. The demon sent various boomerang shaped blades made of shadows at Zane, to tear him to shreds. Zane managed to dodge them all, but then was attacked as they returned from behind. They tore through his chest and arms, ripping his shirt to shreds. "Did you really think that you could face me, boy?"

Zane looked back up with a pissed off expression on his face. The demon scoffed, as his wounds healed themselves. Is this.....could he be.....is this boy even human?! I better kill him quickly! Zane moved up right to his face, and gave a full roundhouse kick to it. Magic was floating through his body. This was one of his Special Arts: Total Boost! The ability to temporarily boost every attribute, though it meant he was spending mana even faster. Still, his supply of mana seemed boundless. The demon was sure of it now, he knew who this boy was. It was him! The Demon launched another powerful blast at Zane. Zane then used another Special Art: Countless Clones. By creating copies using illusion magic, and then projecting energy within them, he could create clones that could do actual damage.

"Lightning Pierce!" they all shouted, as they all used Lightning Pierce on the demon. The demon, in term, took up the broadsword and destroyed a whole swathe of clones. It was now wielding two large blades, which it brought down on Zane. Zane created an neergy barrier, stopping the attack, but only for a few seconds. The demon charged forward, and tried to obliterate Zane with its fist. However, Zane focused all the mana in his body into his right hand, and caught the fist bare handed. He then crushed the demon's hand, shattering every bone in its body.

"Now, explain to me...." Zane started. "Why have I fought two demons today? One I can understand, but two? ANd then an ancient mana user earlier. And then before that, on the train, there was another dark presence I could sense. Tell me, who is following me other then that man?"

"You think I am going to tell you anything? Obliteration..." he shouted as he charged up energy in its mouth. "....Cannon!"

Suddenly, a large amount of dark energy hit Zane full force, but Zane caught it in both hands. "First comes Suppression!" Suddenly, the energy was suppressed, no longer able to cause any harm or influence on other mana. "Then comes Compression!" Then, the energy shrunk into the size of a basketball, with Zane holding it with two hands. "Next comes alteration!" Suddenly, the energy changed color and other powerful energies were mixed in and started radiating out of it. "And now...RETALIATION!" He then threw it with one hand right back at the demon.

The demon took the full brunt of the attack. This Zane was different from before. In fact, Zane's entire mana presence changed. Before, he was just fighting a demonized human. But once he encountered the demon itself, his power level skyrocketed, as well as his magical capabilities. Zane did an uppercut kick, sending the demon sprawling backwards.

The demon then moved behind Zane at lightning speed, and smashed him into the ceiling. Zane's magical defense remained strong enough for him to take the blow. Thankfully, Mana Users had magical defense, or else they would end up flattened, smooshed, or completely totaled, like what should happen to most anime characters.

As the two forces clashed, suddenly the Gateway began to get bigger, and the Null Zone started to fade. Zane could not let this demon escape into the world, it was too dangerous. He pointed out his hand, and suddenly, Blazestorm Zero and his scepter appeared next to each other. He clashed blades with the demon, and the force of their collision did permenant damage to the building. Suddenly, the demon shifted behind Zane, and stabbed him in the back. However, Zane's sword shifted behind the demon, and stabbed it in the back as well. "Special Art: Perfect Mimicry".

"The fuck, how do you know so many Special Arts? You are only a kid!"

"I am not just a kid! I....am....a damn Gatewatcher now!" Zane yelled, as he used a firefist uppercut on the demon. That wound is serious, but I am still in the game. I can use my mana to heal myself once I take down this demon. "Aurell, its time!"

"Fire..."

"Phoenix..."

"Nova..."

"Feather..."

"Storm!"

Suddenly, a barrage of fire and lightning charged feathers errupted towards the demon. It got injured in the attack, and when the smoke cleared, Zane was standing with his blade at its neck. "Now, tell me why you are here! Why are these dark energies following me?!"

"You really don't know? Heh, how hillarious. You don't know a thing about your own bloodline...about your own father".

Zane's anger and curiosity sparked. "What do you know about my father!?"

"I know what he meddled in....I know why he died".

"Tell me everything you know! Tell me right now!"

"Why should I, when I can watch you suffer instead!" he shouted, slashing Zane's back with his claws. Zane quickly dodged the rest of the attack, avoiding a lethal blow, but the scratch still hurt. Suddenly, waves of shadow energy was sent at Zane with such tremendous power that even with a full block, he was injured. Suddenly, the demon was right up in his face, but then he vanished from sight, reappearing behind the demon. Its a fire based technique, where you heat up every cell in your body to bring forth more energy at once, allowing near lightning fast movements. Its called Flashfire.

Zane then brought down a full power magical kick onto the demon's head. Zane then switched to a long range position, and drew a ring of fire in the air. He then pressed the palms of his hands together in front of him, and then directed them outward. "Circle of Flame! Resolute Destruction!"

The demon took several massive hits. Even when he tried to dodge some of the attacks, the tracked him, and when they hit, they exploded in a fire that could burn through steel. Zane then used his mana alone to push the rubble out of the way, and face the demon. "Now, tell me what you know!"

"Never!" the demon raged. "I will never tell you, you brat!"

Suddenly, a large explosion occured behind the demon, sending him flying right into another one of Zane's kicks.

"Okay brat, just what is..." he started, when he saw it. Zane's shoes were covered with impact trigrams. That was why Zane's physical attacks often included kicks. "I see, so thats it. You must have several surprises prepared ahead of time".

"I actually have trigrams set up in most public places I frequent, if not all of them" Zane mentioned. "Now, tell me what you know".

"Not in your life, bloodscum!" it shouted, launching a full power attack at Zane. He managed to dodge it, but as the demon clashed blades again he only barley had time to block. Suddenly, it was in that moment his scepter became a sword".

"What the....oh, I see now. So the Sceptor has various configurations, huh? Well then, lets try configuration three!"

Suddenly, it became a spear that could float on its own in front of Zane. Zane moved his fingers around, and it seemed to respond to that. The demon charged forward, but Zane struck it in the face before it got close, and then knocked it back. The spear floated back to him, and he jumped on it. As he did, the null zone finally broke. "Ha! Now I am at full power!"

"About time" Zane mentioned. "This is training after all, how am I supposed to get stronger without strong opponents? I just had to do enough damage to you so you couldn't run away when you reached full power".

The Demon just looked confused and bewildered. "Hold on, did you just say you let me get to full power?"

"Oh yeah, but I had to wound you enough so things wouldn't go out of hand. You see, I couldn't risk the possibility of you winning, so you kept you just weak enough to prevent that. My calculations are quite adament" Zane said with a smile. "Weak enough for an assured victory, strong enough to be full of experience. Sounds like its time to go full force! Lightning Spear, only this time with a real magical spear!"

Suddenly, an electrified spear stabbed through the demon. "Oh yeah, since its a really cool shape altering weapon, I should give it a name. It shall be known as...Aetherion!"

"SERIOUSLY?!?! THATS THE NAME YOU CHOSE?!?!" the demon yelled. "And you claim to know nothing. I see now, boy. You are the biggest liar of all times, even if you don't realize it. Why don't you look down?"

Zane looked down, and saw he was floating off the ground without realizing. Flight magic, but he never learned flight magic. So how....

Zane just barely dodged the attack done by the demon. THe demon must have caused him to float without him realizing it, to distract him so he could land an attack. Zane was back on the ground now, with his spear spinning between them. "Aetherion, lets try out your fourth configuration!"

Suddenly, Aetherion turned into a powerful Manabow. Zane fired off an arrow from it, which then split into eight arrows, which all exploded with magical energy when they hit their target. Zane also notied seveal other applications for this weapon, he would have to try out later.

"Back to Third Configuration Aetherion, and lets go with a Lightning Joust!"

"Unholy Damnation!" it shouted, laucning a massive shadow attack of unknown levels at them. The shadows ripped through the floor, through the building, through everything. Aurell let loose a barrier, and Zane tried to use his mana to suppress the attack. It was then, at that moment, that symbols in a spiral pattern appeared on Zane's back, and various other symbols appeared on his chest. What trasnspired next was insane. Zane appeared on the other side of of the demon, his eyes empty. Aurell was flying up above. The demon turned to face him, when he saw it. He saw Zane's face. "To think, that is the kind of man his father is....to have used this level of caution and safety",

And then, Aetherion emerged from where the demon's heart would be, returned to Zane, and went back to configuration one. At the same time, the head itself fell off the demon. "Shit. I wanted to question him some more, try and get more information out of him".

Suddenly, the ground exploded underneath Zane. It was a different demon this time, with ice shards sticking out of its body. Zane looked back towards the Gateway. "What the hell? I never saw anything else pass through".

"It must have been when you temporarily lost control" Aurell mentioned.

"That was only for a second though" Zane mentioned, though he was wrong. In fact, he lost control for ten minutes. The fighting during those ten minutes was insane. Zane didn't even register the wounds he got. There was clearly something wrong with him, but something stopped Zane from seeing it. Still, now he had a new demon to deal with. He looked back to the Gateway. "Okay, this thing needs to be...."

Zane lost it again, as another presense became known to him. He quickly jabbed his hand into the Gateway, and began draining it dry faster then normal. Most of the time, Gatewatchers never (for lack of a better word) physically touch the Gateway directly to close it, due to obvious dangers. But Zane had to bypass that, because deep down fear and anger had taken over his body. Something horrible existed inside this Gateway, lurking. Waiting. Hunting. It was after someone. Maybe multiple someones. But its Mana levels....it surpassed Rose by far. If it were to get out...

He ripped out the mana from the Gateway, absorbing it into himself and causing the Gateway to close. It also restored his own magical power. He then turned towards the demon. "Well well, look at what we have here..."

Zane quickly held the demon by the throat, the symbols spreading throughout his body. They started to flow into the demon, and it triggered one of Zane's visions. He saw people entering a Gateway, about a place called Lab 51, and something about blood. And then he saw it. Beyond the Gateways, there was something. A temple. "Why do you demons know so much?! What happened to my father?! Why was he killed!?"

The demon stabbed him through the chest, but not the heart. Even at the distance, Zane had managed to dodge the lethal blow from the ice spike the emerged from its body. Still though, it ran right through him. His hand then crushed the demon's shoulder, and his other broke the ice crystal itself. Zane shouldn't be this strong, but it wasn't him in control right now. Something was wrong with Zane. Something was broken, and its been broken for a long time.

Zane unleashed Static Force on the demon, causing Zane's body to become electrified and zap the demon. He then used Flamefist to uppercut the demon, before kicking it right in the stomach. He was getting really pissed off. All he had were questions, but he had no answer. As a result, by the time he came to, the demon was already smashed, and Aurell had manifested into the Phoenix marking on his arm. "Are you okay? What just happened here?"

"I am not sure. But all I have are more questions" Zane replied. "But right now, I think its time we left".

The room was in fact beyond recognition. As in, most of it was charred, zapped, crushed, or beaten. And lets not bring up a few priceless artifacts in the room. Zane quickly disguised himself and left before anyone could arrive.

"I think its time we started looking for answers...." he said, as the symbols retracted from sight, including the spiral on his back. "But who delivered that rose?"

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Meanwhile, on a different rooftop, a man spied on Zane with binoculars. "Yeah, well I have no opening right now, but I have good news Rose. You can have you rematch with this boy. Once of the pieces we need? Its sealed inside his body. Clever bastard, his father is. Tomorrow, you can kill him, and still be on mission".

"Good" Rose said over the phone, clearly pleased. "I will rip it out of his body, as well as his heart. If he has one to rip out, that is. If it is there, I may crush it while he is alive first".

"Then I shall make my leave, so he does not notice my presence. Him, or that other man..." he said, quickly disappearing into the night.

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Maric got a little bit steamed, embarressed, and defensive all at once. "Hey, hey, I was more focused on the fight then anything else! And I am not a perv! That is a vicious lie spread by Harmony in communications after I tried to hit on her! I am just really eager to find someone who can love me, okay? You try that with this body!"

Artemis nodded. "Uh huh..."

"Now, can we stop beating around the bush. AKA, Stop lying Artemis. I know why you are really here" Maric told her.

Artemis looked stunned. "What do you mean?"

"No offence to either of you, Minori and Cedric, but neither of you are the type to ask about a mole. Minori is too focused on her research, and Cedric people find too suspicious. Which means, you are here to ask them about Project Icarus, which I know you are planning Council knowing or not".

Artemis scowled. "How the hell did you find out about Icarus?"

Maric suddenly teleported to the counter between Minori and Cedric. No one seemed to notice anything, so it was safe to guess Maric coated them with an illusion spell, to prevent eavesdropping and what not. "It was easy. Besides, you know my Spatial Magic will help build the bridge when its time, so you should bring me on anyways, just like how you want to bring Minori and Cedric here". He then looked at the two of them. "Project Icarus is fairly simple. Artemis plans to send a team through a Gateway to the other side. She has been planning it for some time now. Likely using the research from Lab 51, she plans to open a Gateway to the Other Side and send a team there. Not just any Gateway either, but I suspect the very same Gateway as in Lab 51. Its the only logical conclusion".

Artemis was a little bit concerned. How did Maric figure this all out? He has been in town for less then a day, yet he knows secrets that are highly classified. Could he have learned some of this before he transfered. As Artemis considered options, Maric teleported a beer into his hand, and continued drinking. Technically, he was above the legal age, and its not like it could affect him anyways. "Fine Maric, you are on the team. But, there is one other I want to recruit. Zane Bell. GIven the reports I saw, I am convinced he may hold the key to building the Perfect Bridge, a Gateway Link with no danger or ill effects at all, that will allow us to travel to the other side of the Lab 51 Gateway and learn what happened. You see, this is not the first time we attempted this. The first time was at Lab 51, 20 years ago, when Gateway activity suddenly went out of control, and people with no previous connections to mana began to develop mana abilities and what not. To discover this, we connected the Gateway to a place known only as The Hub. Based on accounts from some Visitors, many Gateways lead to this Hub, from all worlds, and it is common to pass through it. Apparently, it takes the shape of a subway terminal. We will open the Gateway to it, create a stable, or maybe even a Perfect Bridge, and cross into it. The research and data we can collect is one goal, but another....we also want to learn the truth about what happened twenty years ago to cause the spike in activity, and Cedric, your power makes you a clear choice for the team. Additionally, we will see things no human has ever seen before. So, you two, what do you say?"

Maric looked at Artemis questioningly. Why the hell did he try to hide the existence of Project Icarus from me?

Suddenly, Artemis punched Maric straight in the face. "And I told you this would happen if you ever followed me. You don't care about hte mole either, at least not as much as you claimed to. Thats not your style. You wanted to question me about Project Icarus, you little perv!"

"I am not a perv!" Maric exclaimed. "And seriously, this body isnt that physically endurant! You gave me a nose bleed, jerk!"

It was clear these two did not get along.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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Shortly after Minori walked off to stand back with Cedric, Maric resumed talking. It probably said something in regards to Gatewatchers hiring policy that hearing a nine year old voice talking about espionage didn't sound out of place to her, but she didn't take an active interest in paying attention until Project Icarus was mentioned. A project to go through a gateway and explore the other side. A project that practically had Minori drooling at the mere thought.

The only downside so far was that Maric might be involved. She pondered for a moment how difficult learning spatial magic might be considering her grasp on phyics was probably far stronger than hat of the twenty six year old toddler. When the question came up for whether or not Minori was in, she nodded, but pointed a finger at Maric.

"I'm in, but only under the conditions that he stays on the other side of the gateway, or is placed with a seperate exploration team than myself. I refuse to have such a monumental moment spent babysitting, or feeling someone's gaze on my ass the whole time. I actually have a few candidates in mind for an exploration team from the science division, if you'd like me to send a list for your approval. One of which being Aldred... we could use someone who's magic is inwardly focused since we have no idea how mana will be affected by being inside of a gateway..." Minori mused, though snapped her fingers and smiled as an idea hit her.

"I'd also like for Sillo to be at the testing grounds. Not for the exploration team, but to teleport nearby. I have a suspicion this hub may be the dimension he teleports through when he uses his powers. Anyone else I'll trust to your discretion, mam" Minori said, looking over her shoulder as she noticed the bartender arriving with a replacement of her order. She smiled contently as she sat at a booth that wasn't covered in glass, and happily resumed her meal. It was clear that she could care less now about what happened unless more information about the project was provided.

"There are plenty of RaMESSES agents that will be just as good for the job." Cedric piped up, "I'm not working with him. No offense Maric, but you offend me just by being near me." it was clear he wasn't interested in being convinced as he turned his back to the conversation and leaned on the bar with his drink. "Besides, there's no such thing as a perfect bridge. Come talk to me if you actually get Zane, I won't hold my breath."

His phone began to vibrate as a message came through. Pulling it out he read through the details quickly, recognizing the origin point as the museum the others had encountered Rose in. "Minori, did they let a Tyrannosaurus Rex lose at the museum?" he cast a raised eyebrow at her, "You don't already have one of those in your personal petting zoo do you?"

Minori raised her head as she thought, chicken tender hanging unceremoniously from her teeth.

"I went through the Japanese exhibit so I can't say for sure, but that does sound like something we'd do. We barely made it out alive, no way in hell we were doing a perimeter sweep before going back to base," she said, punctuating her sentence by tilting her head back and devouring the tender.

"Well, as much fun as it has been having my private life interrupted, duty calls." he wagged his phone in the air before slipping it back in his pocket, "Want to tag along Minori? I'll even do my best not to annihilate it so you can add it to your collection." He nodded at Artemis as he passed, ignoring Maric completely as he pushed the front door open. Next to Minori's car now sat a low, sleak, black AMG GT, which only served to highlight the fact that not that long ago Minori had had one of the richest people in the world driving her around in her little car. "So your car or mine?" Cedric asked with a hint of a grin crossing his face, walking out on a regional council member had put him in a good mood. "We'll need to head to Alleytown, someone there should be able to give us a lead on where to start looking."

"Alright... though I do have a bit of business to attend to if you wouldn't mind. I'm a bit nervous about it and could use a friend... though you'll do," she joked, though the humor was to hide the nerves shaking her voice. Whatever it was she needed to do in Alleytown, it definitely had her worked up.

Looking from her own humble Mazda to the vehicle beside it that was worth a decade's salary for her, she couldn't hide a slight grin.

"Well, you did drive my car here. Only fair..." She said, holding out her hand to accept the keys, to which Cedric shrugged and opened the drivers door, which unlocked as his hand touched it. "This one doesn't use that kind of key." He smiled and motioned for her to take a seat. "You also can't ruin the seating, it remembers."

-=-

The hustle and bustle of Alleytown was both foreign and welcome to Minori. On every corner was a different aspect of mana, either being studied, taught, or sold outright. Minori giddily pointed out the different spells and disciplines to Cedric as they traveled through the neighborhood,

"Oh! Cedric look!" Minori cried, slapping Cedric's shoulder as she pointed off to a woman dancing on a street corner, water gracefully snaking through the air around her in time to the music playing from the guitarist off to the side. During a particularly dramatic sting, the water exploded into mist arund her, concealing her form in the mana laced vapor, only to shift just so and produce a rainbow around the dancer as she bowed.

"Do you have any idea the technicality of those spells?! The physics she is managing to calculate and manipulate at will, and in time to music no less. Why just the feat of producing that rainbow would take umerous calculations... and exact knowledge of the vapor density required to reflect the light, the positioning of the sun, the shape of the vapor... and did you see the control of those spells? I just... ugh! No one in Gatewatchers thinks of mana being used like this. It's all about combat application and secrecy..." Minori said, voice shifting from that of a giddy schoolgirl to an uncharacteristic melancholy in a matter of seconds.

"Without culture such as this, mana is merely a weapon, and Gatewatchers is filled with child soldiers. If not for the budget for my research... Cedric, why do you stay with the organization?"

"Convenience I suppose. Certainly not the paycheck. I suppose it's got some perks, access to some good mana researchers for one thing. I only came on because I hoped someone could help with the mana reaction, I guess I stay because it's something to do. Cedric Valentine, action hero..." He smiled, "Or overly qualified animal control officer, which ever way you want to look at it." Minori was right though, the organization was all business, all about efficiency and execution. They didn't take time to step back and marvel at what could be done. "You know she's probably not doing any of those calculations." he commented as he nodded towards the dancer, "She's on the opposite end of that spectrum, if anything she just knows, deep down, how to do it. She might know it if you asked, but she's not thinking about it. That's what the organization is missing, they think to much." He cast a glance at the researcher, adding "But in a bad way, not in a productive way."

Minori gave a thoughtful nod, but smiled as she returned her gaze back to the road.

"True, she's probably not, but that's what makes it an art and not a science. A healthy appreciation of the one is necessary to do the other, I think, but I have to come here to see any art. I sneak here on lunch breaks to just watch, sometimes. I've frozen time to study feats like her dance on more than one occassion. The performers being cute certainly helps," Minori said, her grin shifting to a smirk.

The wonder of Alleytown could be captivating, but it also came with dark shadowy bits. The black market dealers, the less than trustworthy magical 'problem solvers', the types of people that normal people generally avoided. "What was it that you had to get? I've got to find some folks who tend to dislike being questioned, so it might get a little hairy, if you're looking to shop around we should do that first."

Finding an empty parking spot outside of an Irish pub boasting 'Magically Delicious' food, Minori took great care to park Cedric's ride before considering his query.

"Well, it's actually to get a tattoo. A magic square made of mana infused ink, like the old runes you find in museums. It should streamline my mana a bit for when the enemy comes around for round two... but I've never gotten a tattoo before. I don't suppose you'd be willing to pencil that in to your investigation time?" she asked innocently, though if Cedric looked past her, he would notice the bright neon lights advertising the tattoo parlor the researcher apparently had in mind.

"By all means, the black market won't be going anywhere any time soon. They don't know I'm coming yet." Cedric nodded as he saw the lights, "Don't ask for advice though, never got a tattoo. Who knows, might see something I like."

Cedric's response was a sigh of relief to Minori as she opened the door to the car and stepped outside, inhaling deeply as she felt the air of the mana around her. Not ten feet from where she had parked, a man was using mana to hold a bucket of molding clay in the air beside him, dabbing globs of the stuff into the space before him, starting his sculpture from the top. Behind him, a group of teenagers were using mana to recreate a scene from a tv show.

"I AM MELON LORD!" one cried, throwing flaming canteloues at her friends as they laughed and dodged the hostile produce. A nine year old near by was playing hopskotch, her set of hopskotch squares snaking along the sidewalk and up the side of a building.

"There's a beauty and simplicity to this place. I think after Project Icarus I might take a leave of absence for a month or so and just hang out here. I could learn so much... I could open a pet shop," Minori said, smiling as she looked back over at Cedric, but quickly regained her focus. She could play tourist once they had finished with their business here. Work to be done, and all.

The tattoo parlor lacked a creative name, the sign merely reading 'Tattoos', but examples of the artwork the artist within had done were moving, the animals acting like animals within the confines of their pages, the faces of people watching with a smile as people walked by, some even giving people directions after being asked. The only sign that didn't move or have a living entity within it was one that hung on the door, which simply read, 'No tribal tattoos. Violators will be prosecuted'

Minori regarded the sign for a moment, and nearly jumped when one of the faces lining the wall beside her looked over and began to speak.

"Vera got tired of drunk frat boys coming in wanting barbed wire and random designs they could get out of a gumball machine," The face, an elderly woman's face, politely explained. "First time, dear?"

"Yes... a little nervous, but I brought a friend so I think I'll be fine," Minori said, patting Cedric once on the shoulder. The old woman's face smiled warmly at the duo before the door gently swung open for them. Minori bowed her head and returned the smile in thanks before pressing inside.

"She's not going to be happy to see you boy." the warm smile turned into what could only be explained as an old ladies polite scowl, the kind that only old ladies were truly capable of that showed a particular level of distaste no other single look could show. "It was one time." Cedric said waving off the comment as he followed Minori into the parlor.

A bell overhead rang out, a gentle ring in the otherwise quiet parlor. A woman stood behind the counter, drawing on a sketchpad before looking up to see who her new client might be.

"Welcome! Be forewarned, if you get a dolphin on your ankle, it WILL need water every day," she started, though stopped and looked Cedric over, recognition taking over her facial features. She didn't seem particularly enthused to see him.

"Cedric Valentine... Of course you'd walk in today. This isn't a Watcher shake-down, is it?" Vera asked, crossing her arms and scowling at the man. "Because my permits are air tight, and so is Felix's, so you can shove whatever warrant right back up your ass."

"Nice to see you too Vera. Calm down, unless you've tattooed a large extinct reptile recently I'm not interested in your permits. And for the record, that suspects 'pet' killed a kid." Cedric responded with a mix of his general polite nature over a much darker tone, like an animal who isn't interested in a fight but still needs to send a reminder of who's who, just enough to ruffle feathers.

"Actually... I'm here to get a tattoo..." Minori interjected, timidly stepping between Vera and Cedric, the former reluctantly taking her eyes off of the man. Vera studied her customer for a moment as Minori dug out her phone, moving to stand beside of Vera to show her the picture of the artwork she wanted. Vera looked down at the screen but occassionally looked up to scowl at Cedric, though once she realized what it was Minori was wanting her eyes lit up.

"Magic square, huh? That's, what, one of Abramelins?" Vera asked, snapping her fingers three times as her sketchpad lazily lifted off of the counter and floated to her waiting hand, the artist immediately sketching out the design.

"So where we putting this bad boy? Shoulder? Thigh? Lower back? I love making tramp stamps out of ancient mystical runes. Highlights of my fucking day," Vera said, slapping Minori on the back and nearly causing the researcher to drop her phone.

"I was thinking of putting it on my back, actually. About the size of your sketch, but I need you to use your best ink for it. I plan to use it as a focus."

"Understood. I take half up front, and half when the job is done. For simple line work like this, I usually only charge about fifty bucks, seventy five for the scale. For the ink you're wanting, it's going to cost 275 for the whole thing. I only accept cash, and I only accept cash from hat ATM in the corner over there," Vera said, pointing to the machine positioned off in the corner behind the duo, in a place where Vera could see it from her counter at all times. "You wouldn't believe the problems with counterfeiting we have here. Not that some dick holes need an excuse to barge in and demand shit," Vera added, scowling at Cedric again, who waved a couple of fingers at her and shot a raised eyebrow across the room "Who, me?"

Minori withdrew the full sum of the estimate from the atm, wincing at the dip in her balance, but decided that living would be quite worth the cost, and handed Vera te first payment, which the artist took with a wide grin.

"Alright, chair is over here," Vera began, sweeping her arm off to the side room where her actual tattooing set up was located. "Going to need your bra out of the way, and your shirt off of your back so I can work. I'm not sacrificing quality just because a strap kept getting in the way, and for almost three hundred bucks I doubt you want that either."

Without a second thought, Minori reached up the back of her loose fitting white shirt, fidgeting for a moment before she began to follow Vera to the chair, which the artist was repositioning so that Minori could sit comfortably on her stomach while she worked. By the time Minori got to the chair, her bra was in her hand and her shirt was pulled over her head, though she kept her arms in her sleeves, using the shirt itself to cover her chest, and Cedric had found himself interested in a number of sketches on the counter. He had been caught off guard by the general lack of concern for his presence, though Minori didn't actually look at him until she knelt into the seat and crossed her arms on the headrest. Even then, the look was not one of modesty but one of anxiety, the researcher's gaze shifting between her friend and that of the needle Vera was preparing.

Once everything was set up, Vera excused herself just long enough to dig in what Minori assumed was her supply closet before returning with a dark blue ink, though the ink glowed so long as Vera made physical contact with it.

"This color fine with you?" Vera asked, and Minori gave a solemn nod as Vera grabbed her needle and made the final preperations. The researcher cast a nervous glance at Cedric as Vera rubbed a cleaning solution on Minori's back, squeezing the headrest tightly.

"Now this is going to sting, but the line work isn't the bit that really hurts, okay? I'm not going to be staying in one spot for very long so t won't have much time to make the skin raw. That said, if you need me to stop just speak up, okay? I'm just going to make the square, and then the letters, and at most I might go over everything twice to make sure enough of this ink gets in to get the job done. We're talking forty five minutes if I take my time, okay?" Vera said softly, her rough voice actually quite soothing when she wanted it to be. Minori nodded, body gently shaking as she glanced back over at Cedric, holding out a hand expectently for him to hold.

Cedric paused for a moment, smiled at the irony, and walked over to extend a hand. "See Vera, I'm a big ole teddy bear once you get to know me." the artist gave an indignant snort in reply.

"I'm scared of needles..." She said softly in explanation, though Vera only waited a few seconds for Cedric to move before she got to work. The pain made Minori jump at first, but she settled once the initial shock was over, squeezing the headrest tight enough that it might have bruised a person, her grip on Cedric's hand a similar vice. Vera hummed quietly to herself as she worked, carefully making the initial square which would encompass the rest of the tattoo, making sure to go over each line two or three times to enforce the mana being stabbed into the girl's skin, as well as make sure the lines were nice and solid. After that came the lines for the grid, which weren't as thick but still required an additional pass before Vera was satisfied.

"Okay... I'm ready to start the lettering. Halfway there, kid. Going over them twice each to make sure they're nice and bold and powerful, okay? You're doing fine," Vera said, her voice almost warm as she looked back to her sketch for reference. This would be the part where the actual spell would come in, and a mistake from Vera would undo everything her client wanted.

As Vera resumed her work, Minori looked back over at Cedric, obviously trying really hard to keep her tears internal, but was only mostly succeeding.

"You said you were interested in a familiar? What sort of creature did you have in mind?" She asked, wanting something to take her mind off of the pain on her back.

"Oh, I hadn't really thought that much about it. Obviously something that has a natural mana tendency, probably something brooding and spiky, like Vera," he shot a glance at Vera whos eyes narrowed, though she never skipped a beat in her work. "So you get to do what you want with gateway creatures while you hassle everyone else over them?" she growled.

"Yeah, pretty much. Perks of the job. I suppose that's another reason I stick around." he turned his attention back to Minori, referencing her question from before, "Anyway, there are any number of possible creatures, like I said, it's really a matter of getting one powerful enough to be worth it but not so powerful that I couldn't subdue it fully."

"Alright.. last pass and then we're done. The ink should react to your will when you focus with it, and if it doesn't I know some tricks to fix it up, which I can do free of charge if youcome back in the next week, okay? I also sell the stuff to clean this, but you don't need anything mana specific if you aren't local and can't mae the trip back whenever. Got a few touch ups to make, but ou'll be all done in about five minutes, alright?" Vera said, the warmth in her voice replaced with some pep as the worst of the ordeal was over for her client.

When all was said in done, Minori stood at the counter, properly dressed once again, but was still shaking like a leaf from the experence. Vera seemed t be amused, albeit sympathetic, as she accepted the rest of the payment for her work.

With the transaction complete, Vera put the money in her till before glancing over at Cedric, her scowl prominent once again.

"I don't suppose you came in here to do anything besdes loiter," she spat, punctuating her sentence by slamming her register drawer closed, never breaking eye contact with the man.

"Like I said, perks of the job." Cedric tipped his hat slightly and flashed a sarcastically polite grin, "You stay out of trouble now Vera, wouldn't want that old lady out front to have to remember any more unpleasant visits."

"You leave my grandma out of this you piece of shit," Vera snarled, electricity crackling in the air around her head. Minori, sensing conflict was inevitable, thanked Vera for her work, and grabbed Cedric by the arm as she made a run for the door.

She was now as ready as she was probably ever going to be for her next fight with Rose.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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Maric got really peeved at that babysitting comment. "You realize I am older then you right? I would be babysitting you. Well, not sure about Cedric, his file is surprisingly well classified, but yeah. Anyways, you know, all I did was try to be nice, and this is the thanks I got! Jeesh!"

Artemis looked at him with a look of half disbelief, half confused. Did you not just...uhg, nevermind "Seriously Maric, just let it go. What would your family think..."

By the time Artemis had said those words, it was already too late. It radiated so strongly, everyone could feel it nearby. Feelings of sadness, anger, and regret. Artemis knew she shouldn't have brought that up. Maric was many things. Some of those deserved a slap on the wrist. But the last thing one should ever bring up was his family. Maric's negative emotions were so strong, even non-mana users could sense something was wrong. He glared right at Artemis, with a cold look. "What? I think you were about to say something, damnit!"

"Sorry, I didn't mean to drudge up those memories" she mentioned, as Maric got up and started to leave. "That was uncalled for".

"Fuck yes it was uncalled for" he swore in a disgruntled voice, his entire mood having shifted. Artemis looked towards the two of them.

"Sorry about that, Maric deserves to be scolded every so often, but bringing up his family, at least like that, wasn't something anyone should do. You see, his Unique trait was actually something else before, but he was suffering from this rare affliction that was believed to have been put on him as a baby. Mana poisoning. His family tried to use a dangerous spell to cure him, and as a result, it killed both of his adoptive parents and his sister. They brought him into their family, and then they sacrificed themselves so he would live. I think the real reason he is like...well, him, is cause he lives with the guilt of it every day, because in his mind, he thinks he murdered them".

"Anyways, with that over, let me explain. When we finally begin the operation, it may be important to spread out among different paths to collect as much information as possible, but you should all stay in one general area. You shouldn't risk getting split up, because there are dangers beyond the Gateway you can't even imagine. Avoid pitch black caves, ice caverns, volcanic areas, and anything that either looks extremely threatening...or nowhere near threatening....as much as you can without impeding progress. Anyways, we won't force anyone to go, but you can invite anyone you like as long as they have the experience for it. Though, Damion is a recommendation mostly because of his ability to control nature. You run into hostile plantlife, and he may be your only lifeline".

With that, Artemis left....hoping she had not set Maric over the edge again. On occasion, Maric had episodes, where after he was reminded of his family, he wouldn't be seen for weeks, or once months. It affected him that badly. Still, what did always bother Artemis...is that he always seemed to hold something back.

(Time skip to Morning)

Maric woke up to the sound of his alarm clock. it was early in the morning, but he had someone he had to visit early in the morning. He got dressed, opened his door, and made his way to the door across the hall. As he opened it, a woman who appeared to be incredibly old was lying in bed. "Oneechan?"

"Hello, Mari-Chan. How are you doing today? And please, don't reply by asking me how I am doing, little brother" the 50+ year old woman told Maric. This woman was Maric's sister, and they were born only a few years apart. The reason for the suffixes was a little inside joke they had together. Something special that was for between the two of them.

"Fine. Yesterday, I got closer to my goal. Of entering the Lab 51 Gateway, and making it towards the Star Fragment that resides within. Our goal is finally within reach, Oneechan".

"You really should stop calling me that" she mentioned with a bit of laughter. "But I am so glad. After everything thats happened, we are close to our goal. But, what of the others? What if they try to stop you?"

Maric gave her a cold stare that was uncharacteristic for him. "If anyone tries to stop me when I am so close, I will slaughter them. Nothing will stand in my way".

"I just hope you find happiness, once you can finally be yourself Mari-Chan. You were always the unique one of us all, after all, so you can find a way. After all, Frozen State....as well as the Sword of Judgement...are still affecting your personality. And Frozen State isn't even your real Unique trait".

Maric picked up a picture of their parents. "It will be over soon, and all the damage done will be wiped clean".

"Do your best, Mari-Chan".

"Always, Oneechan".

After making sure she had plenty of food and water, Maric went out to do his job. Granted, any job he did do was only a cover, so he could obtain his true prize. A Star Fragment. It was so filled with mana, it would be just what he needed to save people. But he couldn't let the other Gatewatcher's get it. No, they would want to lock it up and use it for themselves. Maric could not allow that, ever, to happen. He had to be the one to use it, no one else.

He would no longer let anyone else die because of him. No more.

No more!

Suddenly, he was alerted to an active Gateway. It was opening way too close to home for his liking, as well. What was even more strange is that Gateway activity in this area was rare at best. So, he went to investigate. As he turned the corner, he came face to face with a Gateway, only something was off about it. It was open, yet also closed. Suddenly, a dark impulse emerged from it, and presented itself in front of Maric. What happened next took place in the span of miliseconds. The shadowy figure plunged a shadowblade at Maric, which he just barely deflected with Zu-Zu before directing it down, and kicking the figure in the face. It was pushed back, but then Maric saw it. Black flame. Maric then put up a barrier around himself, before the black flame launched at him.

After all that happened, Maric did not dare make the first move. After all, his magic was great for defense. He had good offensive magic too, but between Infinity Counter, Null Zone, and Condensed Space, his defense was through the roof. However, Maric did not anticipate the sheer speed of his ene....

"Hold on, where did he go?!" Maric asked as he realized the entity was gone. Furthermore, the Gateway closed on its own. "Oh, you have got to be....what the hell? Who is that guy?! Well, its too close to home for me, and all the evidence is gone, so no point in reporting it".

Maric did a quick sensor sweep for the pressence before, but nothing was around. It just vanished. How the hell could it vanish?

As he made his way through the city, he had a cloak spell around him and was jumping from rooftop to rooftop. He could just fly, using his Spatial Manipulation magic, but this had a bit more thrill to it. He looked back at Central HQ. About all the secrets that lay within. And about the Vault of Relics, a place where they held all acquired magical items they deemed too powerful to risk being out in the open. He considered the possibility a Star Fragment could already be in there....it might reveal he was up to something with the others, but it was a risk that he had to take.

Suddenly, he felt her presence behind him, and stopped. "Oneechan, why are you here? You should be resting, with your weakened state. I have too many things to look into to find out, and with us being so close, we shouldn't take risks now".

"Don't worry, I am not asking you to train right now. Besides, we both know who would win anyways" she said with a smile. "There is one thing. Just now, did I sense...."

"Listen, it was some sort of fluke or something. It was open for less then a minute. Something did get through, but it disappeared too. Just, please rest".

"Okay, but be safe Mari-Chan".

And suddenly, she had disappeared completely. Maric let loose a tear, before heading towards the Vault. She was another reminder of his own situation. A reminder about how he was responsible for their parents deaths. How he murdered them. How they died so he could live.

It burned him up inside. Still, he dropped it once he got to the vault...only to see the door was wide open, and investigators were already there. He quickly flew in to examine the situation. There were a bunch of guards in the vault. Some of them tried to stop Maric, but he just outright ignored them, examining the crime scene. He then showed them his ID. "So, what was stolen?"

"Oh, sorry sir. It looks like just a few things. Some highly magically infused piece of wood, a crypt containing a specter, and a Star Fragment piece" the guard told him. Maric cringed at that. He had been so close to getting his Star Fragment Piece, and it was stolen? He managed to suppress his rage. Which was a good thing, because Loki appeared behind him.

"We suspect the terrorists are involved with this" Loki mentioned. "They stole something from Eastern HQ, and now here? But why are you here?"

Because I want a damn Star Fragment, no matter what gets in my way I will deal with it ruthlessly and relentlessly. "Saw a commotion while passing by. Got curious. This situation is getting worse",

"I hear you met with Artemis yesterday".

Don't tell me he had me and/or Artemis followed as well. "Stop snooping and focus Loki" Maric told him as he put a hand onhis dagger. So help me, if you even know about my sister being here, I will hut you right here and now. "Did the security cameras or Crystal Guardians record anything?"

"Just this figure, but it doesn't match any of the terrorist's build profiles" Loki told him. "Which likely means they have more members".

"More members? Shit" Maric mentioned. "Guess that means we have to hurry up operations..."

And more importantly, I have to retrieve that Star Fragment... Maric thought to himself. He decided to start investigating leads by heading to Alleytown. But first....

He went up to a female guard. "Hey, when does your shift end? Maybe we can go out sometime, cause whatever time that is, I will make it good".

He was still Maric, after all.

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Zane walked through the halls of the library, yawning. A perk of living inside an abandoned library? No one to wake you up, and no noisy neighbors. He had reconfigured several rooms recently, to be more spacious. He went around in just some PJs and slippers to the main library. To think, all of this was just left alone for years, all these books. Well, to be fair, Zane now owned the building, even if the means he used to get the deed were not quite fair. Still, it was the way he preferred things. Honestly, given the state of things, it was better for him here then in a foster family or a group home.

As he entered a makeshift living room, he turned on the TV as he put up his feet on a footrest. He checked the diviners next to him, which he had setup as a slightly more accurate weather forecast...only slightly though. As he listened to the news, there was a report of strange large footprints heading towards the sewers. Given the size of the footprints, many believe it to be a prank, though some believe it to be a T-Rex. Still, no witnesses have come fort to confirm this.

"Wait, wait, hold on. How the hell did not a single security camera get a visual on the T-Rex? What the fuck, is this T-Rex supernatural or something?"

After all, mana has in fact existed for more then twenty years...

"Wait, could it be.....naaah, that would just be silly...right?" he asked Aurell, who spoke to him through the Phoenix Mark.

"Well, it would be strange...but not impossible".

"A T-Rex with mana? That would be interesting, especially if it really does have a cloak ability. Maybe it can also summon magical armor, too" Zane mentioned. "Anyways, we only have part of this day till Rose returns. I hope she comes for me first, I will take pleasure in crushing her",

"Didn't she totally crush you and four others last time?" Aurell asked.

"Shush. It will be different this time".

Zane looked around the room, and looked around at some of the books. It was shocking, just how many of these books were disguised as normal books, when in fact they contained magical research, terminology, species logs of what has been seen coming through the Gateway, and power ratings of notable power levels. He even found one of a Legendary Gatewatcher, known as Liza the Holy Knight. She disappeared quite some time ago, but some say her Holy and Knight based magic was incredibly strong, especially against those with dark intentions, but still strong against anyone in general. No one knows why she disappeared, but they say it was because of a treacherous fiend.

There were other legends too, those about temples that appeared and disappeared, some about parallel dimensions and time fragments, a few about the possibility of hybridization of races, and one about considering the possibilities legends such as Pandora's Box and Excalibur are actually true. It was a lot of information, and Zane was soaking up all of it. With all that said and done, he went to the kitchen and made himself breakfast.

Today, he would not lose. At least, not so easily.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Maric Boone
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  1. Minor irregularity fixed now!

    by LookingAtPerks

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As Zane left his own home, and brought out his Magi-Skates. As he was zooming along, he considered a few things. Some of them included the upcoming battle. Rose was going to come for him, he knew that much. Her reactions confirmed it. Which meant he would need to be ready. So the first thing he did was go to Alleytown, passing through various streets, people shouting about...hold on, Abe Lincoln and T-Rexes?

He walked into a theater just to confirm, and saw Minori, Cedric, and what appeared to be an Abe Lincoln Golem being shattered. He just sort of stared for a moment, blinking, before shrugging. "You know what? Just no! Just no! It is too early in the morning to deal with this! I am going off to Alleytown to do my own thing!"

As he walked off, he took a back alley, and after turning, came face to face with the T-Rex. The mana the thing had was enourmous. And it seemed to be....synchronizing with this world. Not only was it not from a Gateway, it was adjusting to their world biologically. That, or he just imagined T-Rexes were bigger. Even if he was synchronizing, this was probably the case, since this was the first T-Rex Zane ever found. Still...he wasn't sure what to do about this.

"Now listen, Mr. T-Rex, we don't have to fight, okay?"

The T-Rex just yawned, and walked off. Zane blinked. "Maybe it was so tired it didn't think I was real? That, or maybe its just been seeing a lot of strange stuff today. I feel like I should report this in...but, I think all my gear doesn't have GPS for a reason...and..." He looked around, and it was like it turned invisible. "...yeah, that's going to make it tough to track down..."

Zane had learned everything the man gave him had its locators, both magical and technical, disabled. Which he approved of. Still, as he continued walking, he noticed several well disguised Gatewatcher Vehicles going into the building that Cedric and Minori was in. As he entered Alleytown, news was already bustling.

"Extra Extra Read all about it! Playboy and Researcher Gatewatchers go up against Abe Lincoln riding a T-Rex! Some reports indicate Abe Lincoln was wielding a chainsaw and an automated mana infused weapon! Rumor has it the playboy likes to play dressup as Batman as well!" a newsboy shouted as Newspapers flew into the hands of anyone who reached out to get one. He had to focus on what was important though, getting items ready for battle. The first thing he needed was some Mana-Infused Shielding Mechanisms. Once he got those, he picked up some Boosters, items that are used to enhance one's mana supply in battle.

"I cant count on everyone being there this time. It is do or die. At least I know her secret now" Zane said with a smile. Yes, her secret of how she totally outmatched them all. She was far too cunning for his liking though. She might have more tricks up her sleeves. To think though, every action she made was so they would all play into her hands.

After he was done getting everything he would need to tip the scales in his favor, now he needed a place to battle her in. Someplace where she couldn't sense the mana everywhere. Somewhere like....that's it!

About two years ago, a freak event happened at Orion Station. Three Gateways opened there at the same time, and caused a bunch of panic. Three subway cars were sucked into a Gateway and never seen again. The Subway was still abandoned since then, believed to be haunted, and coated with enough mana to make everyones mana senses skewed. It was the perfect place to set traps for her.

He only had a few hours left, so he decided to get all of his business in order, including to contact a certain someone about his plan.

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The medical teams treated Cedric and Minori. A few people, who waited for them to become conscious, approached them. As the group of Gatewatchers approached Cedric and Minori, one of them was the Director of Science and Research Division, Bolan Vale, and the Director of Resources Management, Billy Gonzalez. Why one of them was here was strange, but them both being here?

Bolan Vale walked up to Minori. "Sorry if my arrival is a surprise, our surveillance system reported you and Cedric were fighting some sort of strange and unique golem capable of independent thought, and I just had to rush down here to see for myself".

"Fat chance, you just wanted it for yourself" Gonzalez told him. Well, I think resource management should get him. Imagine what we could do if we adapted the design of this golem into our own security forces! As I am sure Cedric can appreciate, we need better security, as made clear by the latest incident, and I cant wait for Research to run its five million tests it will want to do before we get a crack at it!"

"Its going to science!"

"Resource Management!"

This did not look like it would go well. But it was strange both sides would fight for something like this with such strength, especially resource management.

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Maric watched the red haired boy leave. And it unnerved him, what he felt inside the boy. A different mana signature. But what made it extra strange....is that he also had several objects, such as his glasses, with a completely different mana signature as well.

"Just....who is this kid?"

Maric was not one hundred percent certain, but he was fairly certain....that Zane was not human.