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Nathan de Vries

"I dunno what's going on with you guys, but everything will be fine since you're friends! Right?"

0 · 450 views · located in Sanctum City

a character in “Gatewatchers”, as played by Alle9009


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



Name: Nathan de Vries

Age: 12

Nicknames: Nate, Runic Rookie, Human Database, Nattie (older bro only, when they were younger.)

Mana Color: Yellow (although he seems more suited to red thanks to his determined nature, the moment his power manifested was when he was happy, and he's more carefree and cheerful than he is determined.)

Preferred Magic Styles:

Runes. Nate can use different runes for a variety of effects. The more complex the runes, the more powerful the spell will be once he places the appropriate amount of mana in it. He can use them to boost other people, often by casting a rune on them that helps to boost, for example, their physical strength or amplify the power of their spells at the cost of his own mana. Below are how he mainly uses his runes.

Barrier construction: Able to use the runes as a solid barrier for defence, similar to energy constructs.

Creation: Able to use runes to create anything that can be recalled properly, or withdraw them from sealed space. In a sense, memory projection.

Illusions: By using the runes, Nathan is able to draw from his memory to create illusions. This can range from holographic pictures or people or a wider range of effect, like trapping the person inside the circle in an illusionary world.

Elemental effects: Able to cast elemental effects with according to symbols of the runes, like fire, water, etc., which he tends to call 'Seals'.

Teleportation and portals: Able to use Runes to teleport himself instantly to somewhere he can recall from mind. He can also create portals using a runic circle that can lead to anywhere he has been before, allowing for a more vomit-risk free ride.

Dimensional pockets: Nathan is able to create a subspace with his runes. The larger the runic circle is, the larger the area of effect will be. While inside this dimensional subspace, Nathan is able to create rules that has to be obeyed for as long as they are inside the subspace, with the runes as a focus, although he is also affected by the rules if he is inside the area of effect when the spell takes place.

He prefers to trace them out like the shape of his hand. He can also activate them with words and gestures, or just form the runes in his mind and project them out to the world using mana, but drawing makes him feel more sure abut his spells. Sometimes, he uses incantations for the more complex spells.

Height: 140cm

Weight: 45kg

Eye Color: Yellow to normal people, orange to mana users.

Hair Color: Brown to normal people, orange to mana users.

Unique Trait: Perfect Recall - Nathan has the ability to remember anything he has experienced in perfect clarity. Mana, noises, smell or sight - it doesn't matter even if it's just one second, Nathan can remember it down to the last detail. Same with spells, but his ability to use said spells depends on his current ability and understanding, and requires a few tries to perfect or have enough understanding to even try to begin to replicate the spell.

Strengths: Drawing, optimistic, never gives up, fast, high mana pool and great at support

Weaknesses: Glass cannon (a few hits to his small body is enough to make him go down), naive, stubborn, childish (he's a kid after all), desperate for affection and approval

Background: He was born to a pair of powerful Gatewatchers with good linage, who's ancestors have been known to be extremely powerful and rich. However, they were forced to retire early thanks to things that happened on the field. Possibly due to his parents urging to fulfil their legacy and the constant urge to be better, Nate's gift showed up young. His parents were delighted and trained him to be a gatekeeper the best they could - to be in their image, but no matter how well he did they ended up demanding more and more of him, never satisfied with what he did. Unhappy and eager to prove his worth, Nate made sure to get better and better at it, until one day he got injured by accident when he was too exhausted to notice that he had drawn one of his glyph's wrong and made a rookie mistake.

Once the explosion had been set out, wounds bandaged, self recovered, his parents just kind of gave up on him after that. Nathan refused to give up, though, working at becoming a Gatewatcher until he did - just a few days before the story took place, in fact.

So begins...

Nathan de Vries's Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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The whole of Atlas Electronics was crowded now that the crisis was over. Any open gateways had been dealt with by the Gatewatchers near by, and once done they had congregated towards the Eastern Sanctum Headquarters like a swarm of ants, herding around and seeing what was to be done. Some where repairing the damages caused by the attack, while others had been drafted out in groups to check the building to see if they could be of any service or if they could find anything that could be of help, all under the watchful eyes of the more experienced Gatewatchers.

Nathan de Vries was on one such team - as part of a group of five, he was sent to survey the now destroyed garages under strict orders to yell for help the moment something happened, seeing as even if he was good with his runes and capable enough to deal with the more difficult threats thanks to training, he was still only a few weeks into the job and therefore not really experienced enough to deal with whoever had set up the trap at HQ.

Then again, they were all suppose to yell for help the moment they spotted anyone suspicious or if another gateway opened, so experience didn't really factor into it.

The short orange-haired boy resisted the urge to groan in frustration and disappointment as he went to search in his area for anything suspicious or in need of repairs. The leader had divided everything into quadrants for them to search, and Nathan's quadrant was part of the outside of the garage, which had been destroyed to rubble. Why couldn't he look inside the ruins?! He wanted to know what an imploded building looked like! Even if it was likely that the enemy could be hiding inside and the whole thing looked like it would implode any second.

Hmph. Nathan scowled as he dusted the grime off his shorts. I really wanted to look, too! Maybe he’ll let me if I finish my quarter? The boy perked up at the thought, a grin forming on his face. He only had one section left, then he could ask! Newly determined to do his job, Nathan turned to the final section of his quarter, ready for anything.

Anything, in this case, turned out to be a bunch of rubble in a non-wooded area. Finally! Nathan thought, grinning as a runic circle formed under him with a yellow glow. Up till now I was in a wooded area so I couldn’t do this spell, but since it’s clear…

The circle seemed to solidify underneath Nathan before slowly shifting upwards, moving the boy standing on it as if he were standing on an elaborate elevator floor. As if responding to Nathan’s thoughts, the circle moved faster, and soon enough he was standing tall enough to see above the rubble and everything in the section.

Nothing much other than rubble at first, but now that Nathan was looking properly he could see two people there, a girl with purple hair and a man leaning against a car. Survivors! Nathan grinned and raised an arm to wave, but before he could something caught the edge of his vision and he turned, curious to see what it was.

A man was standing near the edge of the trees, almost hidden by shadows. He was staring at the two on the ground, but not with relief or anything positive - there was a dark look on his face as if he was contemplating on blowing them up.

A shudder ran down Nathan’s spine at the look. As he stared, the man was joined by a woman dressed in red, roses decorating her clothes. She looked dishevelled and Nathan was too far to see properly, but she had similar-looking features to the man. She grabbed his arm and muttered something to him, and the man nodded, the angry look melting away into a more contemplative one. Leaning down, he kissed her on the forehead in a familial gesture.

Nathan blinked in surprise.

When his eyes opened again, they were gone. Red rose petals that fluttered in the air as if it had taken their place.

Nathan blinked again. And again. Then he rubbed his eyes. What happened?! There was a man and a woman and then poof! Gone! A teleportation spell, but where? And why?

Aggh, he could deal with it later! Report it to the leader or something. For now he had to deal with the survivors. And maybe they know something about that guy… Pressing a button on the com to his ear, he said “Found people! Two of them. They seem ok, though.”

After listening, Nathan nodded. “Got it!” Then he left the communications button on.

Lowering his circle fast enough to look like he was falling, Nathan landed lightly on the ground close to the two. “Hey!” He yelled energetically, waving his hand high in the air as a greeting. He shot a large grin at them, readjusting the black cap on his head as he jogged over to them. “Everything ok?! What happened? I’m part of the rescue team for this area, and HQ’s ok now so all there’s left to do is regroup, so I guess I’m here to transport you guys back to HQ! Anyone in need for healing or anything?”

Dressed in a black shirt under a orange sleeveless jacket and completing the look with high-top orange sneakers, Nathan looked more like a kid than your average rescuer, but it was pretty obvious that it was what he was here to do anyway. Grinning merrily at them, he slipped his hands in his pockets and waited for a response, ready to teleport everyone back to HQ once he got confirmation.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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"Those glasses... Never let them out of your sight, Zane. Pun unintended."

Just because the pun was unintentional didn't make it any less funny. Sillo found himself shaking his head and laughing as Minori walked towards the exit. At the door, she turned around and continued.

"Whatever we do next, that woman is still out there, and she has allies I'm sure. No field trips without a partner, if we want to be in good health enough to use those catalysts. I'm going back to HQ to dig something out of the basement, if anyone is interested in a lift."

"I'll take that lift," Aldred got up, taking off his shirt to showcase a well-developed body for a teenager, "I need to go back to HQ too, to get a new outfit." He started walking towards Minori, thinking aloud as he did so. "Zane's already got his, so that leaves at least four more to find. Library seems a good idea, we can figure out which ones we need there. Come up with some plans, too, and see what we can find out about her and the people she works with."


Yeah, that had been one of the major mysteries of the fight. Who she was and why she wanted the Gatewatchers dead was anyone's guess. It was why he'd asked at the beginning, before the fighting had started. Of course she didn't give a straightforward answer like any logical person, but it didn't hurt to try. It did give Aldred the distraction he needed to make the first blow and that was always welcomed.

"If anyone needs me, I'll be at the training facilities. I'll be working on increasing myself combat-wise before heading to the library. We should probably come up with a rota for field trips so that no one's alone too, and work on increasing our ability to work together before we come across her. Like Damion said, I'd rather we be the one's slaughtering her. Working together would help with that. We should probably ask around too, see if anyone came across her crew. Someone had to be there when the bomb went off at HQ to see that everything went to plan, so we should ask the people at the site if they saw anyone suspicious."

"Sounds good, dude," Sillo said, even though there were so many plan thrown around in there that he caught maybe two of them. "I'll join you at the training facility. I need to become...what's the word?" he paused to ponder before snapping his fingers, "Physical. Yeah, alright. By the way, you guys are doing the whole traveling thing wrong. Here."

He gestured as he walked towards Minori and Aldred, putting both his hands on their shoulders imagining the three of them in front of their beloved HQ. And before they knew it, the trio was whisked away by Blue Mana, leaving Zane and Damion alone at the museum.

Meanwhile, on the first floor of the museum...


With a loud pop! for comedic effect, the three Gatewatchers appeared in front of their HQ...or at least what was left of it. Sillo let go of the two and smiled at them.

"See? Teleportation is the only way to travel. Now we're here in a matter of nanoseconds rather than minutes. You're welcoooOAAAAHOLY MOTHER OF GOD!" his jaw dropped when he saw the HQ was left in literal shambles. In the center of it was Selena and Cedric accompanied by a Gatewatcher he'd yet had the pleasure of meeting.

"Minori, didn't you, like, ice proof the place to keep it from collapsing?" he asked as he ran up the steps towards the three that were there, putting his discomfort for the nature of the two aside for curiosity's sake. "Hey, you guys okay? What happened here?" He gazed at the third one. He looked rather young, given his apparel and his boyish face. But he seemed like good company to be around, noticing that he was an optimist immediately.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Despite Cedric rising from unconsciousness and speaking to her, Selena remained distracted. She couldn't shake the feeling of being watched. Even with as much exposure to this type of thing as she had, it was still unsettling feeling. She imagined that Cedric probably felt similar when confronted with the powerful black mana user, which would explain why he immediately turned tail and blinked them out of there. She snorted at the thought. Not everyone can have my nerves.

Selena then turned her gaze to Cedric, who agreed that he owed her for saving his life. She locked eyes with him, her gaze blank and pitiless. Now that they were safe, she could properly chastise the younger man in an older body about his actions earlier. Just as she was about to begin her lecture, another heartbeat entered her small bubble of detection. She turned to face the young boy even before he began his shouting. Before her, a prepubescent brat with orange hair and orange eyes jogged towards them, shouting something that Selena did her best to ignore, waving his hand and grinning like an idiot. That the kid was barely old enough to dress himself apparently did not matter to the Gatewatchers, though that hardly surprised her. The organization was a mess, and the only reason she stuck around was because they kept out of her business and left her to close gateways on her own. At least, usually they did. She began to think that person or people who attacked the Gatewatchers might actually be the heroes.

The kid was in front of Selena and Cedric now. She was about to tell him to be a good child and run along, when yet more heartbeats appeared in the vicinity. She sighed audibly and rolled her eyes, turning to see Sillo, Minori, and a third gatewatcher, a teenaged, yellow-haired boy that she had not yet met. He was shirtless, for some reason, which prompted a momentary look of genuine confusion on Selena's face. For a brief moment, she wondered why that particular detail stuck out to her, before she recalled that she was still stuck in an eighteen year old's body, with eighteen year old chemistry. The thought made her gag a little. Sillo was speaking now, and like with most people, Selena was mostly ignoring him. It occurred to her that she did that often, though it made sense, considering she preferred the thoughts in her head to the voiced ones of others around her. Still, it might do to explain the completely destroyed buildings behind her. She spoke then, caring little that she interrupted the tail end of whatever Sillo was saying.

"The bomber came back." She interjected abruptly and without preamble. It wasn't necessary. "Looking for something. An artifact we keep, perhaps. My partner here decided he was too powerful and blinked us away before I could engage." as Selena spoke, she motioned to Cedric, still shaken,"The bomber, a black mana user, thus had the upper hand, and toppled the building and garage in an attempt to stop our escape."She hesitated and sighed before speaking once more, "His abilities were...above average. Cedric and I sustained injuries, which I've since repaired. Cedric may have briefly died."

Selena's speech ended as sharply as it had begun. She wasn't much for going into detail, and speaking in the presence of multiple people was off-putting for her. Her facial expression was mostly empty, with a hint of disdain mixed with disgust, which was her face's way of looking flustered. She sighed once more. This is not how I pictured today at all.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Cedric could tell Selena was preoccupied with something, she seemed distracted. This wasn't her natural blank 'looking through you' gaze, this was a distinct look of having her focus very much on something else nearby. It was slightly alarming as he began to wonder what she could sense that was actively drawing her attention. Eventually she turned her gaze back towards him and the familiar disconnected look returned in an almost comforting change of expression. No doubt his stern talking to for not letting her attempt to fight the mysterious man was forthcoming. He knew she had done her fair share of fighting, she wasn't allowed to go on missions on her own just because she didn't like people after all. She was a powerful gatewatcher, she had faced down any number of things that would turn a younger members stomach in their throat, both figuratively and literally. He expected it, and he would accept it. Perhaps they could have done some damage, after all he was one of those who went off on highly dangerous missions alone more often than not as well, between them they could bring down a lot of things that would take more than a few average gatewatchers if only due to experience. But Cedric knew that the destruction around them was minor compared to what could have been if they had fought, and chances were either or both of them wouldn't have survived to tell the tale. So he was ready for what ever she felt the need to say. However the lecture never came, cut off by the arrival of a new, and almost annoyingly happy, Gatewatcher.

"Well, I suppose that's it for our date then?" Cedric chuckled half heartedly before wincing slightly. His side still hurt, more of a lingering phantom then an actual pain, but it still got an actual reaction. Cedric had never seen the boy who announced himself as part of the rescue party, clearly he was new enough not to know who they were, nobody who knew them could possibly be that happy about running into them alone, much less together, even less in the middle of a completely demolished former Eastern headquarters.

He could tell, more out of experience than anything else, that Selena was just about to shoo the boy away when others arrived. He was surprised to see something, he wasn't quite sure what to call it, some ever so slight expression, cross her face. Turning to see the three new arrivals, Minori he recognized, the other two he had seen before, but didn't know personally. One was shirtless, which seemed completely unnecessary to him, but then again he was wearing enough layers for both of them. Thinking of his layers he realized that his suit was entirely destroyed. The thought disappointed him a little, he had liked this suit.

Selena relayed the necessary information, not unlike a system analysis on a computer would, until "Cedric may have briefly died." Could it have been a joke? Certainly it wouldn't hurt his feelings if it was, he didn't really want to think about how close he may have come to death. He laughed slightly, the kind of laugh someone does when they want a person to know they are laughing at a joke that may not have necessarily been funny. "You know me, living on the edge and such." He shifted his weight before standing slowly.

"I have never sensed so much black mana in one place." Pausing for a moment he remembered just how it felt when he first noticed the mans presence. "Not just in one person, in one place. You could all have black mana and we'd barely be in the same ballpark combined." he cast a quick glance towards Selena. "Above average might be the understatement of your career Sel." He was never sure if that name irked her, but until she crushed him like a bug for using it he would throw it out there every now and again. The others might find that single part of his entire statement to be the most surprising thing they heard. Who in their right mind used a nickname for Selena? Of course, Cedric never claimed to be in his right mind, he just claimed to not be the evil person his mana color would assume.

"All this, it was constant. It felt like a continuous effect, a single spell. On top of that he claimed to be looking for something, he certainly didn't find it in the aftermath, so if he did find it he did it while casting the spell." Cedric let the statement settle. There was a massive amount of destruction here for one spell, let alone one cast while the user was busy rummaging around for some item at the time they were casting it.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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"Sounds good, dude," Sillo said, even though there were so many plan thrown around in there that he caught maybe two of them. "I'll join you at the training facility. I need to become...what's the word?" he paused to ponder before snapping his fingers, "Physical. Yeah, alright. By the way, you guys are doing the whole traveling thing wrong."

"Oh, sure!" Aldred said, turning to face Sillo. A faint smile crossed his face, surprised but happy at the offer of a sparring partner. "I'd like to increase my experience against teleporters too. It's going to be tough, but it'll be fu - wait." A look of concern formed on Aldred's face as Sillo reached for them, his eyes widening with the beginnings of panic as the blonde teen figured out what his friend was going to do. "Do you mea-"


Aldred had just enough time to brace himself and squeeze his eyes shut as Sillo grabbed both his and Minori's shoulders. His voice was cut off mid-sentence as they popped out of existence from the Museum, leaving Damion and Zane alone in the Egyptian room… with a Dinosaur on the first floor.


Nathan had felt the mana gather and was already whirling around to greet the teleporters, but the boy still flinched at the sudden pop and sight of three people suddenly appearing in midair a bit too close for comfort. Taking a quick step back, Nathan let out a small yelp of surprise as the blonde teen shouted in astonishment at the sight of the ruined establishment. Biting his lips to stifle any other noises he might have made, Nathan took another step back and looked wide-eyed at the new arrivals.

A white-haired woman was holding onto a blonde boy’s shoulder, looking like she was about to barf, gross. The blonde boy who had yelled earlier; the one whose hair looked almost white in the light, was gaping at the wreckage that used to be their headquarters. Out of the three he was the only one who didn't look like he was dealing with dizziness - he must be the teleporter then! The other one with darker blonde hair had his eyes scrunched shut to deal with the vertigo that those who weren’t used to teleporting seem to feel. His eyebrows were creased together in what looked like mild annoyance and dizziness from the sudden lack of equilibrium, but otherwise the teen seemed to be taking the teleportation better than the other one.

Oh yeah, professionalism! Crap, he’d forgotten! Nathan quickly schooled his face from wide-eyed surprise and curiosity to a look of neutrality that only lasted for a second before turning into badly disguised curiosity and glee. He took a step back as the two who had been teleported regained their composure, shifting himself to the side while he listened to them talk. They were Gatewatchers like his parents, so they were obviously awesome and knew what they were talking about!

“A little more warning next time, Sillo,” the dark blonde teen was saying. He sounded a bit peeved, but as he slipped his hands into his pockets his tone and expression changed from mildly annoyed to gratitude, mouth curving up into a warm smile. “Thanks for the lift though - holy shit.” the blonde's recently opened eyes widened almost comically at the sight of the trashed HQ, letting out a long low whistle. "Looks like they weren't just targeting the museum...."

Why isn’t he wearing a shirt? Nathan thought. Then he shook his head. Wait, pay attention! Remember what Mom and Dad said - be professional! That means no looking at half-naked people! At that thought he schooled his expression into a well-practiced serious face, the kind of face normally seen on religious old grannies in church during sermon. Focus! What happened?

...Isn’t he cold without a shirt?

“Yes?” Shirtless gave him a questioning look, although there was a distracted look in his eyes. He was still paying attention to the others despite it not seeming like it. Beside him the purple-haired girl talked about what had happened. "The bomber came back..."

“Aren’t you cold?” Nathan blurted out, staring up at the blonde teen with enough curiosity to kill a dozen cats. The conversion continued around them undisturbed as Nathan continued, in a hush tone, “Where’s your shirt? Who are you? Wha-”

“Not really, it’s under my arm, name’s Aldred Kynn and no, I don’t go around shirtless as a way of life,” Aldred answered promptly, moving away far enough that they could talk without disturbing the others while still staying within hearing distance. Nathan followed him, shuffling around from foot to foot. Pulling out what the bundle under his arm, Aldred showed it to Nathan with a resigned sigh. It looked more like a pile of barely connected rags than a shirt. “It got wrecked, so for now I’m getting a new tee shirt and saving the fixing for later.” Stuffing the shirt back under his arm, the teen muttered something that sounded like “No point fixing it if it’s going to get wrecked later.” Then he turned back to Nathan, a puzzled look forming on Aldred’s features. “Uh, no offense, but who are you?”

“Ohh. Oh!” Nathan blinked and nodded as Cedric - the guy who’d been leaning against the car earlier - began to talk ("You know me, living on the edge and such."). “Not what I was wanting to ask, but they're talking about it already so nevermind!" Grinning happily at Aldred, he pointed proudly towards himself. "I’m Nathan van Dries, but you can call me Nate! Why not just fix it now? It’s easy!” An idea popped up in his mind, and Nathan beamed up at Aldred, the smile shining bright and pleased with excitement. “I know! I’ll do it for you! I know how and that way you won’t be shirtless right?”

“Uh.” Aldred raised an eyebrow skeptically, but gave up in the face of sheer optimism in the smile Nathan was sending towards him. Shrugging, he passed the rags over to Nathan. “Sure, I guess...”

*One repair job later*

“Thanks! Good job,” Aldred smiled appreciatively, pulling it on. Nathan grinned with pleasure (He did something useful, yay!) as Aldred patted him gratefully on the head. His hand felt warm as it ruffled through his curls briefly, and they returned back to the group, as silent as they had been when they departed the conversation.

Minori was asking Sillo to get her car for her, mana gathering around her in what felt like a joking threat. Aldred patted Sillo on the shoulder sympathetically - getting on Minori’s bad side was something you didn’t want to do. Better you than me, buddy.

“Zane said something about the woman having a twin brother, and her reactions imply that it’s true.” Aldred said, recalling the fight from earlier. Even with all the talking from before between him and Nathan, the two of them had been paying attention to the conversation. “It could be that he was the one who set off the bomb. As orphans who felt against the world, the two of them would probably be together in whatever goals they have and not like to be separated for too long, so it could be that they set the bombs off - Rose at the museum, her brother at the HQ.” Aldred shrugged. “No hard proof, but if the two of you are able to recall enough for a profile picture we could compare familial resemblances to see if it’s true.”

“There are people doing inventory back at the square so I think once everything is done we could take a look at the list and see what’s missing!” Nathan chirped, flashing them a wide smile. “I could take a look?” He added helpfully, hopefully. “I need to go back to report to Mr Leopold, I could help see what they’ve found!”

It still didn’t explain a lot of things by a long shot, like Minori said - Mana users existing over twenty years ago, the organisation behind the two, their goals and what they had stolen. A few of the things his mentor had said to Aldred was starting to make sense now. Geez, researching this is going to be a pain….

But before that...

“I’d like to join in for a drink and pleasantries, but before that: Sparring!" Despite having gotten out of literal bone-breaking combat less than an hour ago, the sixteen year old teen looked happy at the thought of going back to fighting, even if it was just training instead of deadly combat. "Sorry. Hey, don’t look at me like that, I’ve got a good ID and it’s not like I’ve never drank before.” It was a pretty good one too, Aldred was a bit proud of that card. Smiling cheerily at them, he added “I could join in afterwards though? Getting a drink after a good workout is pretty great. Anyone want to join me in a trip for the training facility?” He smiled hopefully at them, although deep down Aldred was already expecting to be rejected.

It wasn't that Aldred wouldn't mind grabbing a drink (alcoholic or not) to chat and socialise with Cedric and Sel, but in his mind beating the crap out of training simulations was just as much a good way to spend the time as it was with food. Training for revenge could do weird things to a person. He'd promised Sillo, too, but if his friend wanted to grab some food before going to spar then Aldred would be happy to eat first too.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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"The bomber came back." Selena interjected right as Sillo said the last word, "Looking for something. An artifact we keep, perhaps. My partner here decided he was too powerful and blinked us away before I could engage."

She shot Cedric a glance, one that he didn't deserve. That didn't resonate well with Sillo. He just saved your life.

"His abilities were...above average. Cedric and I sustained injuries, which I've since repaired. Cedric may have briefly died."

"Same," Sillo said, almost in a joking matter. But no one could deny the truth laced behind those words. Maybe another few seconds and he would have...he shuddered at the thought.

"You know me, living on the edge and such," Cedric joked himself, getting up slowly before continuing. "I have never sensed so much black mana in one place. Not just in one person, in one place. You could all have black mana and we'd barely be in the same ballpark combined. Above average might be the understatement of your career Sel."

Sel? Sillo raised an eyebrow at the "no fun and games" Gatewatcher, taken aback by the nickname. They had gotten least on Cedric's end.

"Sillo... My car is still at the museum. Be a dear and go get it, would you?" he felt Minori grab his shirt, not even needing to feel the frost she was giving off to hear the ice in her voice. "And be sure to focus extra hard. Wouldn't want a repeat of the cage incident, now would we?"

Cage incident? Sillo didn't exactly know what she was talking about. He knew he'd delivered some specimen to Minori, but he didn't recall the "incident" portion of it. Oh well...

"Not a problem, Min!" Sillo stuck a finger in the air determinedly, "I shall retrieve your car for you! Although be warned. I never learned how to drive." That would surely set her on edge as Sillo popped back to the museum where he 'd arrived previously. Looking up at the structure, he was a bit surprised to see everything on the outside still intact. Not even a window was broken. It was almost like Night at the Museum didn't actually happen in there. There were police and officials sanctioning off the building while officials were trying to explain to people what had happened in the most politically correct way possible. Sillo agreed with it for once. No need for widespread panic.

"Guuuuuys. We may or may not have a missing T-Rex...yeah, I am not equipped to hunt this thing".

Yeah...sometimes you just could't avoid it.

Sillo turned to the sound of Damion's voice and spoke into the com, "Maybe we should save that one for another day. I'm not up for a Dino Hunt right now. And who knows, Maybe the T-Rex is a Buddhist seeking enlightenment or something." All he could imagine in his head was a giant dinosaur meditating in one of the temples with his massive legs criss-crossed in front of it while his minuscule arms held out with claws together in front of him.


Sillo approached the car he knew was Minori's as he was accustomed to seeing it parked in the Eastern Gatewatcher Headquarters Parking Lot. Right next to it was a mess. Apparently, someone's black Hummer had been in the way of the dinosaur's path as it went off on it's enlightened journey. It was truly a shame the roof of the hummer could not support the weight of a T-Rex's foot cascading down upon it. Some environment hater was going to hate coming to see this. But Sillo was relieved that it was the Hummer that took the collateral. If it had been Min's car...

Not expanding on that hypothetical, Sillo touched the car and teleported with it to the front of the HQ once more. The car alarm went off as it landed from the jump through...whatever it was that Sillo went through when he teleported. He didn't really know. "Here you are," he gestured towards her vehicle, which was in good shape, before turning back to the conversation.

“I’d like to join in for a drink and pleasantries, but before that: Sparring!"

Aldred gazed around at all the suspicious glances before continuing, "Sorry. Hey, don’t look at me like that, I’ve got a good ID and it’s not like I’ve never drank before. I could join in afterwards though? Getting a drink after a good workout is pretty great. Anyone want to join me in a trip for the training facility?”

"I'll come with you," Sillo offered, walking up next to the now shirted teenager, "Like I said at the museum, I need to be a bit more physical...I guess. Although I don't necessarily know where it is. Mind telling me a landmark close by that I actually know so we can get there in a jiff?" He wagged his fingers in front of Aldred enticingly, giving him a hint of what would happen the moment he did.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Selena shuddered ever so slightly, a mix of anger and sorrow muffled by extreme apathy to the point that only the most astute would notice the faint quiver. Sel was the name her parents and friends used to call her, when she was younger. Hearing it brought forth a handful of memories that she would have preferred stay buried.

"Sel! Be careful!" Selena's mother's voice cried out from the passenger seat in honest panic. Seventeen year old Selena sat behind the wheel of her parent's Porsche. Next to her, her mother gripped the leather seats after a particularly sharp turn. "You're going to fail your test if you do that!"

Selena gripped the steering wheel tighter and gritted her teeth. She was determined to prove to her mother that she could drive herself. All of her classmates had their licenses already, and she was turning eighteen in just two weeks. It was embarrassing to not have her license yet. The two of them drove on some back roads in the northern English countryside. The family was staying in their country estate for the summer and Selena was taking this opportunity to prepare for the practical driving test. Luckily, these back roads contained very few other drivers. Unfortunately, they were very curvy, and with each turn, Selena's mother let out another yelp. This continued for twenty minutes, the constant yelping punctuated by shouts of "Slow down!" and "Mom, I know!"

At last, the car came to a stop, although not in a pretty manner. The bright red '69 Porsche 911 sat haphazardly in a ditch, the headlights shattered and the front bumper slightly crumpled. Selena and her mother looked on from the roadside. A retainer and a tow truck were already on the way.

"I'm sorry mum..." Selena looked down at her hands and sighed. "I'm rubbish at this! I'll never get my license, and now I've ruined the car!"

Her mother looked down at her with a loving gaze that only a mother can give. "It's alright Sel. It's just a car, we can replace it. What we can't replace is you, sweeheart. You learned your lesson, right?" Selena sniffled, her cheek wet with a tear.


"And you promise you won't drive like that anymore?"

"I promise, mum."

"Good. We'll take one of the other cars for a drive tomorrow. You'll get the hang of it."

"We fought both a ancient Egyptian mummy, A mana user from millennia ago, as well as a woman who picked five of us apart without much effort and took two infinity level spells head on with barely a scratch. I'm still not entirely sure why she didn't finish us all off... she wouldn't have needed mana with as bad off as we were. Co-conspirators, but I'm not entirely certain as to their motive,"

Minori's mention of an ancient mana user drew Selena from her memory. The secret is out, then. The Council will not be pleased. The secret of mana and gateways existing prior to twenty years past has been closely guarded. Even Selena was only aware because she confronted Loki, her immediate superior, after discovering evidence on her own on a mission several months ago. She sighed, more for the trouble this could cause that she would likely need to deal with than in surprise, but the others would likely not know the difference.

"There's also the issue of mana users having existed prior to twenty years ago, not to mention the motives of whoever tore the lot of us apart today..."

What really bothered Selena was the fact that the man who attacked her and Cedric apparently had an accomplice, a woman Minori claims deftly defeated the Gatewatchers who went to the museum. That would be no small feat, and these rogue mana users were seeming more and more impressive the more Selena heard about them.

Selena had fought, and killed, rogue mana users before. They had, almost universally, been complete pushovers. Without formal training, most couldn't even finish a spell before being crushed, exsanguinated or turned inside-out by Selena's magic. The fact that there were now two players with power of that magnitude was a little unsettling. How had the Council not encountered them before now? Selena sunk into thought as the others chattered around her. Their drivel was unimportant, as it almost always was, and she didn't have the patience for it. Instead, she turned her attention to the symbol branded into the flesh of her palm. It tingled, not painfully, but rather like it was being constantly berated by little droplets of water, like from a showerhead. She could feel the raw mana coursing through it, even now, which surprised her. She actually felt more powerful than she could ever recall, which struck her as odd. It was then that she noticed that she no longer ached from the healing she had done to herself. She studied the symbol more closely. It was burnt into her flesh, but she felt no residual pain. Flecks of blood still stained her hands, and the symbol seemed to pulsate under scrutiny.

Selena's lips curled into a slight smile as a realization dawned on her. She actually felt good. It had been so long, the feeling was almost foreign. Then she realized that it was foreign. Her brow furrowed, and her lips returned to their natural state of apathy. Something was very wrong, yet it felt so right.

Any further thoughts were interrupted by the others. Minori had suggested going to the bar, to which the previously shirtless boy agreed, despite the fact that he was not of age. He claimed to have experience with alcohol. Selena spoke then, talking just as Sillo responded to the boy as well, resulting in her comparatively subdued tone being somewhat drowned out by Sillo's louder voice.

"i've never drank before."

Why did I say that? It was true, but it was neither germane nor even their business. If anything, it would prompt even more teasing from Cedric. Speaking of which, she turned to the black mana user and fixed with with a sharp glare that heavily contrasted the absent-minded tone she had just spoken with.

"Unfixing you is much simpler than fixing you, Cedric. Bear that in mind." Selena's tone towards Cedric wasn't even threatening, but rather, it was matter-of-fact, as if turning his insides into paste was no different from pouring a glass of water. She made sure to hold eye contact past a comfortable duration before turning to the others. As she did, she withdrew her cell phone, sending a message to her driver as she spoke.

"If these terrorists are as powerful as you say, Minori, then we have more important things to do than unwind at a pub. Waste your time and money if you wish, I have work to do. You know how to contact me." Dorian, her driver, would pull up in a few moments, and Selena would gladly be relieved of the company of her fellow Gatewatchers. She only hoped that none of them would suddenly have any emergencies in the meantime.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Cedric smiled a sly smile, in spite of everything, every so often he could see that emotion flash across Selena's face. Maybe on some level he was trying to bring that out, after all a life with no emotion certainly seemed a waste. He also felt like everyone acted a certain way around her, so he treated her like she was absolutely normal, no doubt a side effect of most people acting differently around him.

Minori sent Sillo off to retrieve her car, a move that Cedric found rather trusting all things considered. Regardless he vanished as quickly as they had appeared while she informed them of what they had all encountered.

Cedric wasn't entirely surprised by the revelation that mana users had existed prior to twenty years ago. Honestly he had always assumed they had, there was just to much evidence strewn about history that suggested it, but Cedric had also spent a fair amount of time outside of the organization studying mana prior to finally allowing himself to be recruited, he also knew the council was less than forthcoming with information. Never the less, the fact that they had encountered an actual mana user from so long ago was intriguing, Cedric had always wondered if the 'reincarnation' theme that was prevalent in some ancient societies, it seemed that at least one Egyptian mana user had in fact mastered the art.

Minori's suggestion of a drink sounded wonderful right now, having nearly died, or temporarily died, which ever was the case. He wasn't entirely excited when Aldred indicated he would like to join them, presented a fake ID, and laid claim to having drank before. Selena's interjection about never having drank before drew a sidelong glance, he was less surprised that she had never had alcohol, more so that she offered up that fact with no prodding what so ever. The next statement was much less surprising.

"Unfixing you is much simpler than fixing you, Cedric. Bear that in mind."

"Of course it's simpler, but friends don't disembowel friends, or any number of other horrible and excruciating things. It's considered rude you know." He turned to Minori, "And friends don't let friends disembowel friends. Right Minori? So when she murders me in my sleep, I'm blaming you. Until then, I could certainly use a drink." he said it as though it was a foregone conclusion that one day Selena would murder him in his sleep.

Sillo had returned with Minori's car, which was currently loudly protesting the abnormal method of transit, and accepted Aldred's suggestion of going to go train before any drinking, which was all the better for him, hanging out with a couple of teenagers wasn't high on his list of things he wanted to do. "Yes, sparing, that's a good choice. Do that." Cedric said, his voice almost dripping the double speak was so thick.

Selena expressed her decidedly anti-drinking decision, not one that surprised him. She might be right, but he had an idea of what he was about to put himself through, he wasn't about to pass up on what might be the last normal drink he would be having for quite some time. "It's my fiscal responsibility to waste money. Entire industries run on Valentine's wasting money." He couldn't help it, he was still trying to ignore the fact that he probably died once today, sarcastic humor was his defense mechanism.

He started towards where he hoped his car was still parked. "I know a place down the east side." Cedric said casually as he passed Minori, "It's a nice place, the owner is kind of a weirdo though. Just let me check on my car, wouldn't want to get a ticket for parking on the sidewalk."

His car waited for him where he had left it, though it now had a brand new iron pipe sticking out of the windshield and a very nice chunk of concrete where the roof used to be. With a heavy sigh he opened the trunk, which to his surprise was relatively unharmed, and retrieved an overcoat. As he put the coat on he noticed some media vans approaching. Of course it was difficult to hide the fact that an entire building had recently been leveled. The organization had ways of dealing with this kind of thing, and he fully intended for them to deal with it, until one of the reporters recognized him.

“Mister Valentine! Mister Valentine can you tell us what happened here?” a microphone was shoved toward his face as a number of others arrived.

“Now now, calm down. We have recently entered into a contract with Atlas Electronics to begin a renovation project in the area, which included the demolition of this building and adjacent parking garage with plans to build a new facility which would include more green space and an entirely updated aesthetic. I can not comment on the demolition process as it is a proprietary secret, but it seems we have had some tampering with the process, resulting in the premature implosion of the structures. There were no injuries.” He buttoned his coat as he said this, not wanting the blood covering his jacket to reveal just how much of a lie that was, “We have reason to believe this was a case of corporate sabotage. There will be an official press release once the proper authorities have completed an investigation.”

Cedric raised a hand to ward off any other questions and turned back to the rubble. Luckily the responding gatewatchers had already set up a perimeter around the destruction. He sighed heavily as he retrieved his phone and dialed a number quickly.

“Yes, Mister Valentine?”

“Have a contract drawn up with the Atlas Electronics company for a new facility, be sure to have it back dated in the system, schedule demolition for a week from today.”

“Will that be all sir?”

“My car was totaled, have the AMG sent to Micheal's in east end, have a suit sent over too.”

“Yes sir.”

Hanging up he stuffed the phone back in his pocket. It wasn't the first time he had used his status in society to act as a shell for Gatewatcher dealings, he didn't doubt that on some level it was one of the reasons Arkangel found him so useful, there were others on the council who would just as soon the black mana user have been crushed in the building.

Finally he returned to where the others had been having only been a few minutes, he shrugged, “Well, they can ticket it if they want, it's done.” he looked at Minori, “So, I guess you're driving?”


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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"Guuuuuys. We may or may not have a missing T-Rex...yeah, I am not equipped to hunt this thing".

"Maybe we should save that one for another day. I'm not up for a Dino Hunt right now. And who knows, Maybe the T-Rex is a Buddhist seeking enlightenment or something."

"Pfft - Maybe it ran through the Gate looking for Buddha," Aldred suggested jokingly, stifling a snort of laughter. "It's gonna be disappointed - its God is nowhere near on Earth. It could be fun though," Aldred said thoughtfully, a wistful look crossing his face as if he'd remembered that fighting dangerous rampaging carnivorous dinosaurs was on his bucket list. "There's only one of it, and it can't be that huge, otherwise the whole building would have collapsed. I've always wondered what dino-meat tasted like..."

But he'd promised Sillo a sparring session. Damn. Ah well, a T-rex could turn up again someday. The other Gatewatchers were already handling the situation, too - had practically told them to leave it to them, in fact. With a sigh, Aldred gave a slight nod and said "The other Gatewatchers are handling it. Take care of yourself, Damion. If you need us, we're at the Training Facilities. See ya."

A thoughtful look crossed Aldred's face as Cedric bemoaned how he was going to be killed by Selena. He'd overheard rumours on how deadly she was during battle, but... I think it's a joke, Aldred decided. Probably. Or maybe not... barrier techniques could work.

Aldred's thoughts were interrupted as Sillo's offered to take him to the museum. "Like I said at the museum, I need to be a bit more physical...I guess. Although I don't necessarily know where it is. Mind telling me a landmark close by that I actually know so we can get there in a jiff?"


"It's that really old-looking lot at the edge of town that looks like a business construction building!" Nathan answered before Aldred could admit that no, he didn't really recall any landmarks. Saved! Good job kid. "The one a few minutes away from the bus stop beside the rundown restaurant with the rundown sign saying 'WH O RT N H Q' with the picture of a crab at the bottom! They showed us during Orientation," Nathan added cheerfully, smiling brightly at Sillo, ready to repeat until the route was memorised.

"The guy showing us around said it's because 'people don't break into executive workplaces like they do abandoned buildings, and they won't be suspicious about the loads of materials going through since they'll just think its for construction instead of repairs. And if the contingency spells on the building fails, allowing collapses to happen or making sounds that don't fit the image of a regular company, nobody will hear or care since its close enough to the edge to remain obscure." Nathan quoted, pulling on a serious face as he tried to emulate how the Orientation guy had said it. He looked more like he was having constipation than bored seriousness, although he got the tone right. The expression crumbled as Nathan beamed up at Sillo, all sunshine and smiles.

"Oh yeah, my name's Nathan de Vries! You can call me Nate though. Nice to meet you guys and bye!" And with a wave and a flash of color, Nathan was gone, leaving nothing but the feeling of being hit by a bouncy little hurricane of joy behind.

Aldred blinked and promptly decided to turn his attention back to Minori.

"Aldred, text me when you get out of training and I'll let you know if we're still at the bar when you're done. Try not to rough each other up too much. Magical healing, if abused, is hell on a person's mental health."

Aldred blinked with surprise as Minori ruffled his hair, as if he wasn't sure how to react to such a gesture. Even if Minori's hands were smaller the gesture felt nostalgically nice, and for a moment Aldred felt as if he were six again with his dad towering over him, ruffling his hair affectionately as he presented up fried sausages for breakfast with a large smile.

That had been a very long time ago. Dwelling over the past helps no one.

The moment passed. Shaking off the memory, Aldred playfully batted at Minori's hand and ran a hand through his mussed locks, messing it up even more. "Hey, watch the hair," Aldred said reproachfully, grinning at her to show that he was joking. This was what people normally did, right? Combing a hand through his hair (now it looked more like bedhead, but somewhat neater), Aldred's smile widened as he acknowledged her worries with a nod. "Yes mom, I will. I'll try not to damage him too much, although I can't promise anything. And thanks! I'll keep it in mind."

Despite his tone having no deflection and therefore making it hard to guess if he was being serious or joking, Aldred's voice slipped into gratitude and promise at the last two sentences. He knew first-hand what extended magical healing could do to a person - even now he was still wondering whether or not some of those near-deaths were dreams. "Well, we're off! See you later, Minori." Minori turned and left with Cedric, and Aldred grabbed Sillo's waiting hand with a smile, closing his eyes as he braced himself for the teleportation.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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"It's that really old-looking lot at the edge of town that looks like a business construction building!" Nathan answered, "The one a few minutes away from the bus stop beside the rundown restaurant with the rundown sign saying 'WH O RT N H Q' with the picture of a crab at the bottom! They showed us during Orientation."

Sillo inclined his head to the young lad, "Thanks...uh...what's your name, by the way?"

"Oh yeah, my name's Nathan de Vries! You can call me Nate though. Nice to meet you guys and bye!"

He watched as Nate vanished in front of him. Another

"Yes, sparing, that's a good choice. Do that."

Sillo raised a quizzical brow at Cedric, noticing the sarcasm in his voice as he spoke, "Well, considering I'm not old enough to do anything with alcohol as of yet, what other option is there? Besides, I don't think a drink will do you much good anyway. Doesn't seem to be working for you. Also, picturing you with a beer belly is just weird."

"If these terrorists are as powerful as you say, Minori, then we have more important things to do than unwind at a pub. Waste your time and money if you wish, I have work to do. You know how to contact me." Selena said patronizingly as she turned to leave them. For once, he agreed with her.

"See, Ceddy," Sillo turned back, "Your girlfriend seems to get the idea." He suddenly stopped, realizing what he'd just implied with that word and quickly accepted Aldred's hand.

"Oh, dear! It seems like we are OUT OF TIME for this episode of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'! Catch us tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!" he quickly remembered Nate's words and recalled the rundown sign as he pictured himself there right at this moment. He disappeared before Cedric could respond in any way, shape, or form.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Once they had reached the facility, Aldred had shown Sillo around with something that resembled glee. As Aldred introduced Sillo to the runner of the joint, Mr Ian Cohald, who looked like he was made out of rock hard muscle but was as soft as a marshmallow, it became increasingly obvious that Aldred had frequented this place frequently.

Gym's, changing rooms, viewing rooms - Aldred knew where everything was, showing Sillo around and adding some tips on which one had the best equipment. The blonde teen knew people too - he waved and greeted people who seemed to be regulars, who waved back, and kept offering introductions such as "That's Mrs Herlisten. She might look like a tiny old lady, but she's very strong - she's controls threads so unless you want to fight buck-naked don't fight her." and "Hey, Mckinzie! Sillo, meet Mckinzie. He's a few years older than us, and he's got pretty good skill with sound. Nearly made me permanently deaf once. He still won't teach me that spell that disrupts equilibrium by messing with the ears. Eh, I'll figure it out someday." and "Screw you Ken, I won best out of three that time and you know it! Now cough up that five dollars you owe me - no, I don't care that you're fourteen. You've owed me for over a month now."

After showing them around, Aldred finally lead Sillo to the training rooms. The room was just like one of the many other training rooms created underground of the facility, and the walls were filled to brim with magic designed to hold it up and steady. Even five infinity spells fired at once couldn't bring it down - that was how strong it was. Nobody wanted a sudden collapse in case an earthquake or a spell gone wrong hit the walls underground, and great effort had been made to ensure that nothing would wreck them and cause massive destruction on them all in case it fell.

It was also equipped with magical technology that allowed a change in the surroundings for more realistic simulations. Just one press of a button and poof! The battlers could be standing in a dry desert with the wind blowing sand in their faces or an urban neighbourhood or anything in between. There was also a recorder, which allowed the fighters to review their moves in an adjourning room to see if any improvements could have been made during the match.

Filled to the brim with hightech magic, the training center was the place to go if you wanted to try out any new spells or battle simulations, or in Aldred and Sillo's case - sparring.

Normally, Aldred looked calm and collected, with a steady smile shot someone else's way. He wasn't exactly lifeless compared to other people, but the blonde teen had always been a bit more subdued, in a way similar to how a faded photograph would look against a modern photograph filled with vibrant colour. He perked up a bit when it came to other people, but only a little - in color terms it'd be like a dark purple turning a shade or two brighter.

In battle, the purple would turn into a blazing light purple almost too bright to see.

The normally restrained teen looked like he was filled with life and truly enjoying what was going on instead of just mild enthusiasm. His cheeks were flushed a healthy pink, and Aldred was practically brimming with energy despite having been sparring quite a while, his feet swaying rhythmically; almost relaxedly to an unknown tune that only he knew while remaining just enough tension in his body to move the moment something happened. Despite his clothes being dishevelled and strands of his blonde hair starting to slip out of the simple ponytail he had placed it in before they had started battle, Aldred looked relaxed and cheerfully energetic to a degree that most people who had never seen him fight would have thought him incapable of.

Ah, this feels nice...

"Alright, one more round!" Aldred bounced lightly on the balls of his feet, raising curled fists up in front of him again in quick, efficient motions like a boxer. Aldred quirked his head at Sillo, who was a few feet opposite of him, and shot him a smirk designed to goad him into hopefully accepting the challenge. "Unless you want a rest?"


"And dismiss!"

Nathan heaved a sigh as he walked out , shoulders drooping dejectedly as he remembered what went on during the meeting. He had asked what was going on, but the higher ups wouldn't tell him anything other than that he should just get back to his own work and that nothing was missing! He'd tried snooping around to see what he could have found, but the lists didn't say anything! Nathan didn't want to go back with nothing; what if they got dejected about it?

Was something really missing at all?

No, there's got to be something! Ok, think! A look of concentration crossed Nathan's face as he walked through the corridors, cycling through the lists one last time. Every detail about it stood out clear as if he were looking at the real thing, but try as he might he couldn't see anything gone other than some walls. There's something missing, but the people won't tell me anything and its not on the lists. That must mean it's something important! Important enough to hide! But what? and why?

Maybe it was something embarrassing like pink underwear? Maybe its something dangerous like those gates in the lab? But the HQ floors were destroyed, so it's gotta be something...

Nathan was so deep in thought that he had forgotten his surroundings until he bumped headfirst into someone. The impact jarred his side, and Nathan let out a yelp at both the sudden impact and the surprise of bumping into someone. "Sorry, sorry!" He apologised anxiously, shaking his head. Looking forward to see that he had bumped into a brown-haired boy around the same age as him, if a bit younger, Nathan reached a hand forward sheepishly. "I forgot to look where I was going, sorry! Are you alright?"


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Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Damion was wondering where everyone went. After all, it seemed like they had all scattered. Then again, with what just happened, and the fact Eastern HQ got smashed, he realized that should have been expected. After all, the world just got a whole lot more crazy. Still, he had gotten some new, useful weapons at his disposal. He decided to try one out. He used his growth magic to summon the talking tree. It used a bit more mana then he expected, but it worked. Then, it smacked him. "What the hell?"

"Seriously? One focus is all you used to summon me? If you want to summon me at full power, you should use more focuses" the tree replied. "I am an Ultimate Summon after all. And my name is Arborroot. Got it?"

Was Damion getting scolded by his own tree? "How are you...?"

"Let me guess, first time summoning a creature with self intelligence right? Well guess what, yeah, I still have partial control over myself. I mean, I am still bound to you and am inclined to help you, but seriously, you need to learn this stuff!" Arbotroot told him. "Now, you should probably go find some friends. Behind you, five O clock, strange van".

"Yeah, with several people inside disrupting the natural mana around them. Given how their mana is affecting natural mana, probably Black Mana users. If any are as strong as Rose, I am screwed if I face them alone," Damion replied, as he recalled the tree. He made his way to the next Gatewatcher building, but shortly after entering, was knocked to the floor after being run into by someone. As he pulled himself up with help from him, he could see that this guy was a Gatewatcher too. "Yeah, I am fine. I would be a lousy Gatewatcher if a small fall could hurt me. Damnit though, I still need to get stronger. Today was just a slaughter".

"Oh, I thought I'd bumped into you!" The orange-haired kid let out a silent sigh of relief, but a troubled look crossed his face when Damion mentioned what had happened earlier. "Yeah, it was." Orange-hair kid nodded, as if he had seen the wreckage. A shudder ran through him before the kid gave Damion a smile, although Damion couldn't help but think that it looked a bit forced. "But the other Gatewatchers can handle it, right?" The kid said optimistically. "We're strong! If we worked together then we can handle whatever comes next, right? Although I'm not sure if I'll be of any help..." Orange-haired kid gave a small sheepish laugh, although he seemed a bit downhearted about that.

Damion shrugged a little. "Takes more then teamwork, given the enemy we are up against. We need to get stronger. What's your name anyways? I don't recognize you".

"Oh, I'm Nathan! Nathan de Vries, but you can call me Nate! Nice to meet you, Damion!" Nathan gave Damion a bright smile before turning around to seeing anyone was around before answering the question. The hallway was empty except for the two of them. That meant it was ok to tell, right?


"Can you keep a secret? Because this is a secret! It's important! Nobody should know!"

"Eh, sure. Stop looking so scared, I already said I wouldn't tell anyone, right? What's up?"

"an You'll remember, right? And I... I've sparred a lot!" Nathan said brightly, although he kept his voice low. He bit his lip awkwardly, unsure how to explain, but he gave it a shot anyway. "I... It's not that I'd... Lose... Exactly..." Nathan's uncomfortable look and hesitant words made it clear that he wasn't telling the truth. Damion looked at Nathan sceptically, and Nathan's expression and shoulders droop like a wilting flower. "Alright fine I lost every match I was in and I'm not suppose to tell anyone." For a moment, Nathan looked dejected, but then he forced a smile on his face. "Sorry. I don't know what went wrong... So!" Nathan now looked determined. "Could you please help me out by sparring with me so that I can compare data?"

"Sure. I need to test some things anyways, not to mention get stronger myself after what happened today".

"Uh." Nathan's eyes went wide, as if he hadn't expected Damion to say yes. Then they began to sparkle. "Really?! Thanks!" The wide beam on Nathan's face was like the sun, bright and blinding and absolutely pleased as if he couldn't believe his good luck. "Thank you so much!" And with that Nathan glommed Damion in a tight hug.

"Uhhh." Damion tried and failed to struggle out of the other child's hold. "Lego of me - which ways the facility again?"

"Ah, I know the way. Here!" Nathan said enthusiastically. Grabbing Damion by the wrist, he teleported them to the training facility without asking. They landed outside the entrance without a hitch, and Nathan smiled brightly and looked pleased with himself. "No need for walking this way." He explained to Damion, waiting for the inevitable vertigo the brunette kid must've been feeling to wear off. Taking Damion's wrist in his hand again, Nathan took the lead. "This way!"

Damion couldn't help but smile a little, taking his own fighting stance. "Alright then. Eternal Forest!"

Suddenly, Damion slammed his hands to the ground, and a small forest grew inside the training room. Damion immediately went to gain the advantage, by turning the battlefield into one that supports his magic. With a Yelp, Nathan hurriedly summoned a fire-glyph to burn the forest as the tree roots began to ensnare him. He dodged back as the symbol glowed a bright red on the tree roots before bursting into red-hot Flames that set the trees on fire, the heat of the Flames warming the room as Nathan waved the smoke away from him with a cough.

Damion was immediately wary. After all, Runes and Tri-Grams were basically the same thing. It was a very flexible and adaptable type of magic.

Shocked, Nathan sent a wide-eyed look at the rapidly burning trees. Remember what you learned from Father and Mother, he reminded himself. Damion was looking warily at him, and Nathan steeled himself as he imagined the disappointment (anger) on his parents faces. They wouldn't like it if they found out he lost. Shoving away the shock from the suddenness of the battle, Nathan's expression hardened as he slammed a hand against the floor.

He couldn't lose.

Thinking quickly, Nathan slammed a hand against the floor and sent out another rune. The circle appeared underneath Damion, and Damion barely had time to dodge out of the circle before dark squiggly lines rose up and out like paintings coming alive, wriggling like thick black rope worms to wrap around someone who was no longer there. Damion only barely managed to land on his feet. "Ensnaring Vines!"

Suddenly, vines ensnared and entrapped Nathan. He let out a yelp of surprise as the vines wrapped around his waist and legs, hands frantically scrapping at the plants like a surprised cat. The plant didn't budge, but before Nathan could think to try anything else Damion was yelling another spell. "Energy Drain!"

Nathan winced as the vines began draining him of his energy and mana. Thinking quickly, Nathan drew the first rune he had used in the fight, his hands shaking as he traced the figure on the thick green vine trapping his waist. The rune glowed red as the plant burst into fire and turned to ash, but the damage was already done - Nathan could feel a slight emptiness in him from the drained magic, like someone had taken a sip from a Nathan-shaped drink. Biting his lip, Nathan rapidly traced another shape in the air. The rune was filled with simple curly lines, free and twisting like leaves in the air, and gusts of wind began to pick up as he drew, sending the two combatants hair flying in all directions. A large gale of wind blew Damion's hair out of his face as the wind tried to blow him off his feet, but thick brown roots ruptured from the ground and wrapped themselves sturdily around Damion's feet and ankles, keeping him steady on the ground.

Nathan bit his lip, trying to think quickly. Don't wanna hurt him, don't wanna hurt him - I know! A way to merely cause hurt instead of harm! A grin broke out on Nathan's face as he rapidly traced some runes in the air. Six runic circles appeared around Damion as he endured the gale, surrounding and covering his small body from sight in a rough dome.

The circle on the right - the one with what looked like a ball etched in it - glowed, and before Damion could even blink a small dense ball flew out of the center of the circle like a cannonball, clipping his arm before rebounding back from the tune behind it and zooming so close past Damion's ear he could practically hear the wind. Damion had barely enough time to bring up a barrier before the ball began to whiz around like a sugar-rushed child with cabin fever trapped in a small room, rebounding from each rune it touched like a trampoline. Every time it touched a tune it got faster and faster, banging into the barrier with loud thuds.

Damion then had an idea. "Alright! Ultimate Summon, Arborroot! I need your help!" Damion yelled as he summoned Arborroot. Arb then launched several roots at Nathan. Flinching, Nathan tried to burn and slice them away using Runic Magic, but found the roots to be stronger then he expected. They were at least as strong as steel, the roots, and they moved a lot faster then normal Growth/Nature Magic controlled and summoned trees. Additionally, one of the roots didn't just grab the ball, but completely engrossed it with roots, stopping it from moving entirely.

Nathan immediately knew this tree was anything but normal. This must be the tree Damion wanted to test, Nathan decided, dodging a branch to the head. He studied the tree. It looked huge, scary. It reminded Nathan of Tolkien's Elk's, although the tree seemed like it couldn't move. Leaping above a tree branch aimed at his shins like a high-jumper, Nathan missed the vine creeping towards his waist until it wrapped around him with a whip-like crack while he was in mid-jump.

"Agh!" Nathan struggled, kicking his feet and trying to pry open the vine trapping his waist, but to no avail. Still struggling, the boy was brought up closer and higher to the tree until he was close to the trunk of it. Wriggling and preparing a rune in his hand, Nathan brought a hand up, ready to use it in an attempt to escape, but got caught by surprise as what he'd thought were holes in the bark moved, blinking at Nathan as if registering him for the day.

The tree spoke, in a deep and barky voice like a hoarse man. Did you really think you could dodge me boy?"

"Whoa!" Nathan stared back in shock, but rapidly gained his meals back. "You can talk?!" Nathan announced in shock. He'd heard about talking plants before, but this was the first time he'd come across one. Was it really capable of conscious thought?

When the tree nodded proudly, Nathan beamed widely, eyes going so wide that the light could be seen sparkling in them like multiple stars. "That is so cool! How long have you been able to talk?! Were you born with a consciousness or did you gain one over time?" Questions were tumbling out of his mouth as Nathan asked everything he could think of, momentarily forgetting that the tree was trying to get him. "Oh yeah!" Nathan gasped, remembering another important question. This was the most important one! "What's your name?!"

"Well." The tree looked nonplussed at the beaming sparkly-eyed kid in front of him. Nobody had really asked it questions like that before, unless you counted being prodded at like an experiment questions. Mostly they just tried to kill it or ran away screaming or tried to kill it while screaming in fear instead of asking things like "Do you grow fruit?!" And "What're you called?!"

That might have been why he halted the attack momentarily. The branches stopped inches away from Nathan's back, and the tension in the atmosphere seeped back as the tree opened its jagged mouth. "Name's Arborroot," he answered hesitantly. "And, er, I don't know." The tree answered reluctantly. "I've never tried it before?" A branch curled up against its bark in a manner resembling someone scratching their head. "I've got flowers I think, but..."

"Ooo!" Nathan's gleam brightened as Damion stared with growing disbelief. The orange-haired boy shot a sunny beam at the tree, bouncing up to it cheerily. "I'm sure it looks pretty! Can I see?!"

"Are you serious," Damion muttered under his breath, staring at the pleading, 'please give me a stick to catch I promise I'll be good' puppy-eyed look Nathan was giving Aborroot in complete disbelief. Aborroot had been in charge of the Gateway for years! He'd killed scientists with evil laughter going on in the background! He'd have killed Damion if Damion hadn't killed him. And what's more, they were in the middle of a fight! Surely the tree wouldn't actually answer the other kid, right?

Apparently he would. "They don't look pretty, kid, they look badass!" It boasted, straightening its branches with a shake. Setting Nathan onto the floor, Aborroot loomed to its full height. "All the lady trees lo-"

"OI!" Damion yelled, interrupting the conversation. He stomped towards the Aborroot with a scowl. "What're you guys doing?! We're in the middle of a fight aren't we?!" Damion scowled at them, crossing his arms. "And you!" He barked at Nathan. "Don't ask trees what's up with them in the middle of a fight!"

"Oh," Nathan blinked, then remembered the situation. "Oh! But -"

"Hey, I can do what I want, you brat!" Aborroot growled at Damion, waving its branches around. "I already told you - if you don't use enough Focus I'll have free will, dumbass." It chided Damion, waving a vine side to side like a nagging finger. "Use enough focus and I'll do your bidding, but if you don't you'll need to communicate nicely if you want us to help you. Like with that kid over there." The tree continued in a lower tone, waving a root in Nathan's general direction. "Make us want to help you out instead if you can't overpower us, got it?"

Damion then focused his mana, and Arborroot cringed for a moment before getting better. "Arborroot, I was TRYING to be friendly. Please return the favor, or I won't be so nice. Besides, you still owe me from earlier. I am trying to push past the you trying to eat me, after all".

"Now you're getting it. Sorry, kid!" The tree loomed up to its full height, and Nathan gulped as he readied himself, taking a step back as he realized just how scary the tree looked. Quickly, he drew a few sharp defensive lines in the air that appeared in black at the top of his head.

A protective sheet appeared around him like a see through dome not a moment too soon. "Steel Leaf Whirlwind!" the tree yelled as it shook its branches, and Nathan raised his arms over his face instinctively as green leaves sharp enough to slice like steel knives flew out of the greenery towards his face only to be repelled by the barrier. The tree sent out more leaves in retaliation with a bloodcurdling yell, and Nathan was soon in the middle of an ever-increasing leaf storm that left him blinded to what was going on outside him.

Notgoodnotgoodnotgood. A glance up at the shield rune revealed that the thick dark lines that made up the rune to be cracking under the assault, although it could still hold on for a while more. "Need to get rid of the leaves," Nathan muttered worriedly to himself, rapidly drawing the rune he needed with a jerky hand. The rune glowed red as it appeared above Nathan's head and intersected with the barrier dome rune, causing the dome to turn a translucent pale red. Nathan breathed a sigh of relief as the leaves began to burn upon contact with the barrier. The burning leaves spread their fire to the other leaves, and after a blaze most of the leaves had burnt to ash, leaving the battlefield clear once again with a thick ash floor.

Warily looking around, Nathan had just enough time to realize that Damion was missing before hearing something crack. His eyes widened as the barrier dome finally gave out, cracking and shattering silently like something going through a glass pane. Realization flashed through him like a bolt of lightning but before Nathan could turn around, something smacked harshly into his back. At the point of impact, Nathan could also tell that Damion had focused a large amount of magical power into the hit.

"Waagh!" Nathan let out a yell filled with both shock and pain as a leaf-covered Damion slammed into his back like a cannonball. The leaf storm had been a diversion - it weakened the barrier Nathan had set up and blocked Damion from view, allowing him to sneak up behind Nathan to send him flying towards the tree. Nathan let out another yell of pain as the tree slammed a branch into his back to send him back to Damion, as if the two were playing volleyball and Nathan was the ball. It hurt, just like those times! It hurt!

Could he give up here?

As if in response, his father's deep voice echoed in Nathan's mind. Remember, child. Never lose.

Before Damion could send Nathan back for round two, Nathan disappeared from sight. Both Damion and the tree looked side to side immediately - only for Nathan to reveal that he was in the air above them when he yelled "Runic Fire Blast!"

Gone was the hesitation to attack. Nathan's eyes had hardened, replacing his soft expression with a determined one. Defending wouldn't help Nathan win the match (What would his parents say? Would Damion still be a friend if he lost?), so he'd have to deal damage to his friends even if the thought made his stomach shake. Bringing his hands forwards, a complex rune appeared in front of him, thick red lines swirling and curling with sharp explosive edges; thinner lines fiery and unwavering with sharp jagged edges. Biting his lip in concentration, Nathan slammed his palms forward through the rune. "Runes: Fire Dragon!" Nathan yelled, and the rune glowed red.

A small dragon made from flames shot out of the rune towards Damion and Arborroot as if they had disturbed his slumber, scales gleaming a dark reddish tint in contrast to its orange body, shimmering from pure heat. It opened its mouth and roared, fire bursting out of its mouth as it slammed right ointo Damion and Arborroot. Both of them got knocked down by the dragon, knocking Damion back and doing severe damage to the tree as it rammed into it hard enough for it to explode in a shower of sparks. Landing lightly on a runic circle like a platform, Nathan sent another flaming dragon at them.

Damion managed to bring up an energy barrier for defense, but the heated ash and sparks still hurt like hell. Grabbing some gravel off the ground, Damion's hand crackled with energy as he flung them towards Nathan as hard as he could. The pieces of gravel transmuted into blunt steel spears designed to cause massive bruising as they flew towards Nathan, but the orange-haired boy merely dodged. The runic circle carrying him moved as if responding to his thoughts, and the soaring metal bars failed to land against flesh as Nathan moved around as if he were riding a UFO.

That wouldn't work. Damion gave a tch under his breath as he dodged another fireball, running variables through his mind. Nathan was too high above Damion for him to do anything but run around, while Nathan's runes gave him great range. Still crouching on the circle, Damion squinted up at the figure close to the ceiling...

The ceiling? The ceiling that was connected to the walls...

Damion hissed as his ankle got seared by a weak fireball, designed to cause temporary burns rather than or prolonged pain, but his eyes light up as a plan slotted into place in his head. Bingo.

"Arborroot!" Damion dashed up towards the tree, assessing its condition with a cool eye. The tree was in bad shape. It's trunk was burnt black, and it's leaves were almost all gone or charred almost to ashes, along with some of its branches on the peak of falling off. It wouldn't last long. Still, despite being in what must've been unimaginable pain the tree was still alive and kicking, expression perking up in a scowl as it noticed Damion. "Whaddaya want, kid?" It creaked, speech a bit slurred.

Damion leant in close to whisper. "Listen..." The tree's expression brightened up in surprise at Damion's plan, then grinned. "That's a good one!" It chuckled, sounding like the rustling of the trees in a breeze at night. "I'm starting to like you, kiddo! But now -" Arborroot's face turned serious. "Scram."

It pushed Damion out of the way of another cannonball. The ball grazed Damion's side before landing against the wall with a crash, landing with a thud on the floor before rolling to a stop. Up above them, Nathan spread out his arms as he casted another rune, and this time a gale began to grow, blowing their hair away from their faces and rustling what was left of Arborroot's leaves.

"No you don't!" Grabbing more gravel, Damion flunked it at Nathan. Energy crackled like electricity as the gravel began to shine and spread, turning into light but blunt discuses that fought against the wind. Bringing himself up a few feet higher, Nathan redirected the gale to deflect the few discuses against Damion, who dodged and began to throw more objects at him.

It was a bit like playing attack the invader on both sides. With the help of a shot put, Damion aimed to shoot Nathan down like a hunter aiming for a goose in midflight, while Nathan weaved through the flying objects on his flying rune platform while shooting down blunt objects like hail. Nathan was grinning worriedly, pleased but unsure about what was going on, while Damion's face was serious, almost blank as he carefully shot another discus towards Nathan, who weaved to the right.

If Nathan hadn't been too focused on the battle and trying not to get knocked out of the sky like an apple from a tree, if he'd thought back about all the efforts Damion had made at using him as target practice, Nathan would have noticed that most of Damion's efforts were carefully calculated to miss. He'd also have realized that Damion was making him go higher and higher with every few throws, as if he'd wanted Nathan near the ceiling. As it was, Nathan didn't notice when exactly he shot so close to the ceiling that his hair nearly grazed it, so he also didn't notice when Damion shot a glance at Arborroot while slamming another discuss towards Nathan's face.

It was an error he was going to regret.

Weaving to the left, Nathan craned his neck as the discus flew through where his head had been a few seconds ago - and promptly got entangled as thick brown roots erupted out of the ceiling inches above his head and grabbed him.

"AAAGGHH!" Nathan screamed in both shock and fear as he felt himself engulfed by living wood. He struggled to get free; fingers clawing at the bark instinctively, but smaller roots just came over and restrained his fingers apart so that he couldn't draw a rune that could get him out of the bind he was in. He made to kick at the bark desperately, but the tree grabbed hold of his foot before he could move more than an inch and restrained his feet together. Trapped like a crucified thief, Nathan squished his eyes shut and waited for a blow; a hit; anything to land.

It didn't come. Nathan squeezed his eyes shut for a few more seconds before opening his eyes in confusion. Huh?

"Checkmate" Damion said with a grin, as he had a hand full of energy pointed at Nathan. "You give up now, or do I need to make the final move?"

"U-Uh yeah! Yes, I surrender!" Nathan squeaked. The pressure against his throat decreased, but his body remained tensed as he was lowered to the ground. A few seconds after he landed and Damion was doing nothing more than stare at him cluelessly, Nathan relaxed and let out a small sigh of relief. Resting his hands against his knees, Nathan panted for breath.

Then his face blanched as he remembered that he'd lost. Crap, they're going to get mad - but Damion said that he wasn't going to tell them! So they won't find out I lost! with that reassurance Nathan's color began to return, but the worry and fear remained, a twisted feeling in his gut that added to the disappointment of his defeat. He really was worthless after all - he'd have to work harder. ...Right?

"Damion!" Reaching up a hand, Nathan grabbed Damion's shoulder hesitantly as if he weren't quite sure that he was allowed to; expression filled with worry and anxiety with a hint of fear. "You remember promising not to tell my parents about this fight, right?!"

"Don't worry. Thats up to you, hope your in a good enough state to pretend like it didn't happen" Damion mentioned with a grin.

"Oh, ok then!" The weird mixture of emotions on Nathan's face washed away at Damion's reassurance. "Phew. Wanna get something to eat?"

"Yeah, might as well. I could use some food, but we better hurry. Its getting late, and after this I need some rest" Damion told him. "Anyways, good to meet you. Nice to have another friend in this line of work".


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Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Friends? Friends! The word echoed in Nathan's head like a recorder on repeat, sending a warm feeling through him. He'd never had any friends his age before! He almost felt like crying from happiness, but Nathan restrained himself to a big happy smile that beamed like the sun. Nobody liked a crier, after all! Without thinking, Nathan grabbed Damion in a bearhug and squeezed emotionally, surprisingly managing to keep his voice stable. Friends! "Ok! Nice to work with you too!"

Damion was not quite expecting that reaction. "Uhhh....can barely...breath..."

"A-Ah, sorry!" Nathan abruptly let go, although he still kept a hand on Damion's jacket, fingers curled tight into the fabric. Taking a deep breath to keep his emotions in check, Nathan gave Damion a bright smile before feeling his stomach grumble. His cheeks flushed in embarrassment at the sound, mind running through the previous conversation. Food. Dinner. Right. Food! "Dinner, right? I know a good place near the electronics store! Should we go there or do you have any other place in mind?"

"There is a good burger place a block away. Great fries too. How about there?"

"Ah, sure!" Nathan thought for a moment, recalling the route. He'd been around most of the city, he knew where most things were. "Want me to teleport us there, or do you want to walk?"Nathan asked, twitching the hand he had on Damion's jacket in demonstration.

"Teleportation is cooler." Damion replied with a smile, and with that they were off, disappearing into the night.


They reappeared in the morning. Nathan had woken up early in bright spirits that had carried over from yesterday and walked out of the house as quietly as he possibly could, dressed in a long-sleeved red jacket and jeans. Teleportation wasn't possible within his household - there were wards set to prevent anyone teleporting in or out of the house, which meant that Nathan had to use the boring method of walking to get to where he wanted. His parents were out (like always) but his sister was still in her room - he could hear the loud pop-music from outside her door - so just in case, Nathan left behind a hastily scribbled note that he was heading out taped against the fridge before tiptoeing back to his room.

He wouldn't be scolded if he left a note behind, right? Plus, he was meeting his brother for breakfast! They couldn't be mad about that, right?

Nathan carefully ignored the voice that reminded him that his father and mother tend to frown when Rowan was mentioned, as if they were remembering some bug they'd just sat on with a loud squish. Bug guts and bug fluids everywhere! But Rowan wasn't a bug, so it'd be ok! Probably...

He was outside the house now! With a flash of yellow, Nathan disappeared from view and reappeared above a fire escape. He landed lightly on the platform with a faint thud that shook the fire escape slightly, although it didn't bring it down. Wobbling for a second before regaining his balance, Nathan quickly looked around only to see that there was nobody who saw him appear out of thin air.

Nobody was there - and why would they be? He'd teleported into the warehouse section, after all. Rowan had said over and over that it was perfectly ok to teleport so long as 'they don't land in the middle of the street or people or inside the shop or, y'know, where people can see, so as long as you stick to roofs and deserted areas you'll be ok', but parental training overtook brotherly assurances. Father and Mother had often told Nathan (with great emphasis) that he wasn't allowed to teleport at all, either in the manor or anywhere else since it made people mad and if they said so it had to be right, right? They were the best, after all! And he didn't want to make them angry! That wasn't good at all!

Which was why he was on top of a fire escape in the abandoned warehouse section closest to where Rowan had asked to meet. Nathan quickly scrambled down the fire escape, landing on firm ground within seconds. Quietly, he walked out of the alley onto the open, empty street....

Only to whirl around with a yelp as a primal roar resounded in the distance.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Nothing but an empty building.


Another empty building, although this one was filled with more boxes than the last.



"Aaah!" Nathan flinched with a yelp of surprise as a flock of startled pigeons flew towards his face. Flailing a bit, Nathan hurriedly brought up an arm to cover his head as the pigeons flew past his face with a lot of cooing, disturbed from their resting place by a boy who had suddenly appeared right in the middle of them. Cringing, Nathan turned around to face the rapidly receding flock, giving a wave to them sheepishly. "Sorry..!"

Heart settling from the shock, Nathan turned to look through the window to see if the person who'd sent the distress call was there. He'd been teleporting from place to place ever since he'd heard the roar, curious to find out what it was. It hadn't occurred to him that it could have been dangerous and way out of his league to handle - Nathan was too busy trying to find out what had made such a noise in the first place. Having created a map of the area inside his mind, Nathan had quickly made segments of each area and teleported to them to search, going through sector by sector methodically until he reached the one that contained whatever made the roar, ugency enhanced by the call someone had placed through the coms. It was something he'd never heard before - it was too primal to be a gorilla, too low and deep to be a bird. What was it?! Maybe he could find out now? Nathan looked through the window, hope rising inside his chest as he did so.

Nothing but boxes to be seen.

Nathan's heart dropped. ... ok, not here. But maybe the next one! Rallying himself together, Nathan teleported to the next place with another *pop*.

Moments later, a pigeon flying in midair disappeared with a sqwuak and a fluff of feathers as something invisible chomped on it.


Another building, a theatre this time. Glad that there were no pigeons this time, Nathan peered through the window... only to see people inside. Squinting, he looked down to see two people who... well, Nathan wasn't really sure since he couldn't see them properly, but they seemed like the people he had met yesterday? They were beside a shattered golem. Looking down to the ground, Nathan blinked in surprise as he noticed a kid with red hair look inside... and shrug to himself and leave.

What?! Nathan blinked and rubbed at his eyes, just to make sure that he wasn't seeing things wrong. No, the kid was definitely leaving instead of helping the people inside. His jaw dropped a little as a mixture of emotions ran through him, shock being the most prevalent. Why?! Why's he doing something like that? Doesn't he care that people might be injured?! Or is he someone behind the attack - wow, if he is that's actually pretty impressive because he's like my age and they're like adults - wait, nows not the time for this! Wh-What if they're dead or something?! Or just badly injured? I've gotta go down and help them!

Nathan made to teleport down to the ground, only to stop himself at the last second. If the redhead was the one who'd attacked the two unconscious people, then wouldn't it be better to wait until he left? If he could take down two Gatewatchers than he'd probably be able to take Nathan out without much trouble too! Looking around from his perch on top of the warehouse, Nathan looked around, hoping against hope that he'd find assistance.

Much to his surprise, he found some.

There were some people approaching the place he was on, although they were a few buildings away. Another group from the opposite direction, too! They must have gotten the message on the coms! Thinking quickly, Nathan glanced back to the ground - the boy was gone! Where'd he go? - and came to a decision.

He teleported to the group on the right first. They were the ones closest to the theatre, and could provide professional help faster than he could. Upon closer look Nathan noticed that they were medical squad, accompanied by someone who was probably their leader. Appearing a few meters in front of them, Nathan ignored the shocked looks on their faces and squeezed out, almost too fast to make out "The theatre, two people injured and unconscious - one man with his leg shattered and another lady unconscious and someone that looks like Abraham Lincoln shattered -"

"Wait, slow down! One man and one lady unconscious and injured in the theatre?" The person who seemed to be leader of the medical squad asked, as if trying to make sense of what Nathan was saying. "And a shattered Abraham Lincoln?" She raised an eyebrow at Nathan, who nodded frantically. "You were there at the scene? Is anyone still there? Did you see anybody?"

"N-No, nobody was there - just the two. Minori and a man." Nathan didn't think of telling them about the redheaded boy, that could wait until later. He'd left the scene too, so it wasn't really important right? "They're in a bad way! But there's another group heading your way, they looked like medical personnel too. Should I inform them about this too?"

"Hmm. Sir?" The leader looked at the person on the right, A man of science. Belatedly, Nathan realised that it was Bolin Vale, head of the science division. What was he doing here?

"... We should go on first. Now that we know there are no hostiles, we can move without hesitation of being attacked. We're likely to reach there by the time the others get there, anyway, and they're of no help to us dead. You, boy." Nathan yelped as Director Vale turned to face him, spine going straight as an arrow. Ignoring the jitters Nathan showed, Vale asked, "You go and inform the others while we head there. Understood?"

"Y-Yes!" Nathan nodded. Wheeling around, he took a couple of steps as if to run before disappearing from sight with a pop.


The other side was manned by Billy Gonzalez, as it turned out. Things turned out much the same - ask what's going on, find out that there was a director in charge, head to the theatre without further ado. The only thing changed was that Director Gonzalez muttered a few somethings under his breath that Nathan couldn't quite make out (and wasn't sure he wanted to make out, judging the irritated expression on his face) and ordered his team to move faster. Then he asked if Nathan could teleport them to the site, seeing as he knew where it was and had proven his ability to teleport.

Nathan nodded, feeling embarrassed that he hadn't thought of doing so before. Ugh, he was such an idiot! Within seconds everyone in Director Gonzalez's squad had teleported to the theatre, reaching it at about the same time as Director Vale's squad.

As the two squads checked up on Minori and Cedric, Nathan wobbled back and took a seat away from all the hubbub, leaning against the wall. What with the last teleport involving multiple people and the single yet multiple teleports before, Nathan was starting to feel the effects of using magic continuously. Exhausted, Nathan took the moment to close his eyes and rest, although he kept a listening ear out, still curious as to what was going on.

He'd completely forgotten about meeting his brother for lunch.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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Pain was not something that was foreign to Minori. She felt it, and more often than not she caused it, but today it seemed like pain was the first thing her consciousness could hold onto as the neurons in her brain began firing again. Her body ached and she felt exhausted, but it seemed like as soon as her brain could process the fatigue, it was ebbing away. She instinctively waved her hand, dismissing the healers looming over her without so much as opening her eyes before bringing her hand up to cradle her pounding head. She used too much mana with her body being exhausted, but she wanted to keep the pain. Something for her mind to latch onto and a punishment for being so reckless. She could only guess how Cedric was-

"Cedric!" Minori shouted as she shot up, head darting around as she tried to get her surroundings. She was on the stage now, men and women from the medical teams trying to work on her as well as crowding around a gurney to her left. She didn't need her mana sense to tell who was on it.

"Cedric!" she called again as a healer tried to gently push on Minori's shoulders to urge her to lie back down. The suggestion was rebuked with a glare, Minori churning the mana in her body while daring any of the healers to touch her as she put her feet to the floor and stood. Her sense of balance hadn't come back completely yet, gripping the side of her gurney tightly as she willed herself to stay standing.

"If you're trying to heal anything besides physical injuries you're wasting your time. Cedric is... allergic, for lack of a better term, to his own mana and overuse causes an intense reaction. Can't be healed, just endured. Let the poor bastard breathe!" Minori said, legs still shaking beneath her as she watched the medical team surrounding Cedric thin just enough for her to see him. She focused briefly on his chest and held her own breath until she saw his chest rise and fall, albeit weakly, but he was still alive. Her view was quickly blocked again, her glare now fixed on the two figures as they began to speak.

"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".

The first man was Bolan Vale, head of the Science Division and Minori's boss, though the term was used loosely. He paid her, and she sent him reports. So long as she got results, which she did, Bolan was content not to enforce much oversight, though she knew some of her peers reported more than their findings to him. She was neutral about him as a person, but she was content with his division management, she supposed.

"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!"

The second was Billy Gonzalez, ever the pragmatist and opportunist, though Minori could appreciate his work. He was a problem solver, and having to apply practical applications to such a dynamic thing as magic was nothing but problems. It was his job to make sure Gatewatchers stayed one step ahead of people like Alastair, which Alleytown certainly did not help. It held many wonders and miracles, a bastion of magical freedom, but what better place for those that wanted to use magic for malicious ends to conspire? To learn? To trade? She did not envy the man's job by any mean.

"Its going to science!"

"Resource Management!"

Minori snapped her fingers a few times to get the men's attention, knowing they could bicker endlessly if they were left unchecked.

"I can understand the excitement of this prize that has fallen into your laps, but you're bickering like children" Minori started, cradling her head again as the thumping just below her temples picked up its tempo. A concerned young girl attempted to help with a healing spell but Minori dismissed her with a wave of her hand. She was just tired and needed sleep. She didn't like healing magic, especially when it wasn't for emergencies.

"That golem was the product of highly illegal modification including virtual intelligence bordering on artificial intelligence. Now Billy, do you really want drones smart enough to start asking why they are dying in place of something else? Because that golem was responding to verbiage with contextual accuracy and adapting to situations in real time. That was after the host it was linked to and was giving it direction, died. You are an intelligent man, Billy, and I'm sure you know how dangerous putting that sort of thing on an assembly line could be before we understand it, if it gets there at all," Minori said, the strength in her legs returning as she let go of her gurney and stood on her own power.

"Science should get the golem. Downtown couldn't handle one of those things going rogue, and it would be madness to try rushing it to the frontlines," she added, and then shot a glare at Billy, "and don't put words in Cedric's mouth about that thing when he still hasn't woken up from putting it down," she spat, turning towards stage left and began to storm off, hesitating only long enough to register the fact that there was a child sitting by his lonesome off to the side. She leaned against the wall beside of him and slid down, sitting down and leaning her head back against the wall to try and relax her neck.

"You were at headquarters, if I recall. You seem less enthused now, comparatively," Minori said plainly, fatigue still heavy in her voice as her eyes drifted towards Cedric, then to Vale and Gonzalez, eyes narrowing in annoyance. They probably didn't walk up to her for the purpose of her ending their argument, but she'd barely gotten away from the medics before they ambushed her. They could piss off for the moment while she waited to see if her friend was okay.

"Don't tell me you had to fight Alexander Hamilton in a Gundam," she joked, though one could barely tell. Her voice didn't have the strength to coney much emotion at the moment. Looking back towards Nathan, she studied him briefly, scanning his aura and his face. He should be in grade school, worrying about cooties or who to ask to the next dance, not sitting here watching a man get put back together again.

"How long you been a Gatewatcher, kid?"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa Character Portrait: Nathan de Vries
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  1. Off-track like a drunk man trying to walk in a straight line, Nathan. Although at least its something entertaining...

    by Alle9009

0.00 INK

"Huh? Oh! U-Um, no, I've never had to fight a founding father in a Gundam," Nathan opened his eyes and craned his head to the side, shooting a brief look at the woman from earlier. It seemed as if she'd woken up, cool. She looks tired... Smiling at her, Nathan injected a little more cheer into it, grinning a bit broader. It seemed that they were both tired, but she seemed more exhausted than he was, probably from the fight with the Golem. Worried about her friend too, what happened to him? Nathan could see the medics standing back out of the corner of his eye, giving the unconscious man space.

Well, even if he didn't really feel that cheerful right now, that didn't matter. Smiling tend to help make people feel better, so Nathan could smile for the both of them then! And talking would help distract her too, and everyone kept telling him he talked a lot! He could do that!

"I've only been a Gatewatcher for a few days," He said lightly, if a bit sheepishly. He raised a hand to the back of his neck in a sheepish gesture as he continued to speak, a bit of his normal cheer coming back to his tone. "My whole family is one! I'm so glad I joined - now I can see what its like and join them and know what they're talking about! And I can use my magic for once!" He smiled excitedly at her like a puppy who had just discovered a companion to play with. "A lot of the stuff they said went over my head and I'm not sure where I'm suppose to belong to - I think intelligence maybe? - But I'm suppose to remember where everything is and where everything goes and stuff! Like a curator I guess? Um..." he trailed off, looking up at the ceiling for inspiration.

Nah, Curator meant keeper of a museum or other collection of items, and his job was different from that. Furrowing his brows in thought, Nathan casted his mind around for another word. Caretaker, Guardian, nope that's too actiony and old time - aha! Nathan brightened up as he came upon the word.

"Historian!" Swinging around to face her side, Nathan shot a wide grin at Minori and looking exactly like a kid who was really pleased with himself. "Like a Historian! Although I don't have a beard or anything. People say that I'll be ok since my UA (unique ability) is really helpful with that but everytime I ask them what else I can do they just smile and pat my head and tell me not to worry!" He pouted at Minori, puffing out his cheeks in indignation and crossing his arms. He looked a little like a chipmunk. "That makes no sense! I want to help. And what if I get something wrong? What if I have to fight something too powerful and fail? Although Rowan tells me to deal with that when it comes - but what if?" Tirade done, Nathan leant back against the wall with a huff, partially failing to remember that the conversation was suppose to cheer her up, not talk about himself. "So of course I'll worry!"

Leaning back against the wall, arms crossed and legs sprawled loosely in front of him, Nathan looked his age - a kid, not a new agent in the ranks. He also looked a bit cross, but there was worry in the furrow of his brows and curiosity in his eyes, glancing at Cedric and the rest of the directors as if he wanted to know what was going on.