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Gatewatchers

Sanctum City

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a part of Gatewatchers, by LookingAtPerks.

None

LookingAtPerks holds sovereignty over Sanctum City, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

1,235 readers have been here.

Setting

Default Location for Gatewatchers
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Minimap

Sanctum City is a part of Gatewatchers.

11 Characters Here

Minori Fukutawa [45] "There is nothing that cannot be explained or understood... Now hold still"
Sillo Deskern [44] "Looking at the stress around me and seeing what it does to people, I prefer to not give a shit."
Aldred Kynn [37] "The world isn't kind to good people. It'll eat them up and spew out their bones. Good thing I'm not a good person, right?"
Zane Bell [28] "I will find the answers I seek, I will find the truth, no matter who or what tries to hide it from me".
Damion Gray [28] "There is one undisputable fact. Everything has gone crazy".
Selena Stone [24] "Whoever fights monsters should be wary lest he himself become a monster. And should you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Nathan de Vries [16] "I dunno what's going on with you guys, but everything will be fine since you're friends! Right?"
Maric Boone [8] "Don't judge a book by its cover".
Piper Borges [2] "Do that again, and I'll drop a piano on your head."

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine
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"Sele...Selena I-"

Cedric's voice annoyingly broke through the peaceful silence Selena had been enjoying.

Silence?

Her eyes shot open, and she glanced around. In an instant, her mind returned to reality.

How long?

Wincing at the pain, Selena rolled onto her stomach and forced herself up off the concrete. Resting on her knees, she surveyed the destruction. Much of the building was in shambles, along with the parking garage they had exited through. Several feet away, Cedric lay in a bloody heap. Selena could still feel his pulse but he was unconscious and losing a lot of blood.

"So much for asking nicely." Selena let loose a heavy sigh as she forced her exhausted body to it's feet. She didn't have the strength in her to save Cedric without invoking the nameless energy of the void beyond the gateways. Looking at the bloody body next to her, she weighed her options. No one would question her if she said he was already dead, and few would miss him. Selena turned away from him and took a single, pained step away before stopping. A memory flashed across her vision, of the corpses of her family in pieces surrounding her. The shock of it dropped her to her knees, and she let out a scream, though her weakness cut it short in a fit of coughing. "I know the cost. I don't need to be taunted."

Selena sighed and shook her head, and began muttering in an unearthly language. She reached to the ground and retrieved a shard of glass. Carefully, she let the sharp edge sink into her left wrist, letting free a stream of blood to trickle down her arm. Then, after dabbing her right index finger in her pooling blood, she began drawing a pattern on her left palm. The pattern. The same one formed by the mutilated bodies of her family fifteen years prior. The moment she finished, the blood on her hand ignited, searing the pattern into her flesh. Unnatural pain, beyond that of the searing blood, wracked her body. An overwhelming feeling of dread came over her like a thick blanket of snow over a forest. She felt the twisted energy scratch at the inside of her skin, a nail-on-chalkboard like sensation that ate away her her from the inside. She could feel it inside her chest and behind her eyes. It ceased being pain. It was no longer fear. It was simply wrong.

The gateway she had closed earlier sparked and crackled to life, and Selena raised her left hand so that the pattern burnt into her skin faced the reopened gateway. A beam of energy, originating at neither her hand nor the gateway, or perhaps at both, twitched into existence. It was the color of a last desperate breath, of extinguished hope. Looking at it hurt. It wasn't supposed to be witnessed by any living being. Selena struggled to remain conscious as the alien light illuminated the streets, yet somehow leaving them darker. Though it lasted perhaps thirty seconds, it felt as if she had been there for days. When it finally sputtered out of existence with a disturbing click, Selena fell to her knees. The gateway closed once more, it's energy stolen, and Selena brimmed with power. It ached inside of her, like her very core had been wrung by a thousand giant hands. In the back of her mind, she could still feel their clammy embrace. She shuddered, and rose to her feet.

"You owe me." Selena's voice was tired, but it echoed with magic, somehow creeping it's way into every nook and cranny before withering into the wind, despite her whispering tone. She knelt beside Cedric and passed her left hand over him, allowing her blood to drip onto his wounds. Her mana, reinforced by the eldritch mana she had stolen, crawled into Cedric's blood, latching onto the cells in his body like a million tiny parasites. She had no doubt that it hurt, even in unconsciousness, and knowing the sort of unnatural pain that came with eldritch magic all to well, she felt an inkling of pity for him. That was an experience she wished on only very few, and certainly not Cedric. Although the man that had done this was well on his way to getting on that list. At her command, his body twisted as the bones were forced back into position. Flesh knitted itself together, while the blood Selena had let fall on Cedric formed new flesh to replace what was lost, closing the hole in his side. Reaching out through the blood, Selena felt Cedric's pulse, weak but still there, and let out a sigh of either disgust or relief. Selena herself didn't know which.

Alone with only unconscious Cedric, Selena found it unnerving that she sensed another presence. No pulse, but then again, she didn't expect it to have one. It was here, but it really wasn't. She could feel it, like a chill at the base of her spine. It was taunting her. She knew the cost.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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Aldred had sprung into action before Minori could really react, not that she was itching to rush the ungodly power that stood before her. She stood by and watched the short bout between Aldred and the woman, apparently named Rose, and winced as she used his body to remodel half the exhibit. Even with him being able to withstand more punishment than most, she could practically hear his bones breaking from the impacts, but Minori was nothing if not objective. Aldred made his choice to rush her, but she couldn't help but to look back at the others. Zane and Damion were still building up for something big, and if Damion were entertaining the idea she believed it to have merit.

Rose watched with sick satisfaction as the pillars crumbled and Aldred flopped onto the tiled floor in a bloody heap, but Minori could sense the healing magic. Her Unique trait was starting to compensate for the concealment spell surrounding them, but it wasn't nearly as strong as it should be and was still nearly in pain from Rose's mere presence.

"All that... power and you... squander it on, what? Displays of... power against... children?" Minori asked calmly, catching Rose's attention before she could advance any closer to Aldred. Her throat still ached from the woman's grip, her voice regaining strength but not enough to talk properly yet.

"Do not speak of that which you are ignorant," Rose replied, more disheveled now than when Minori had called her a cunt. It amused her that the simple insult had gotten under her skin so badly.

Though it would hurt her immensely, Minori still smilled as she took a deep breath.

"Ignorant? I'll have you know... I know a cunt when... I see one!" Minori shouted, rushing to the left so that the backlash would not be forced upon Sillo. He had, very wisely, opted to hang back in this fight. Her mind flashed back to Aldred as she cemented her resolution to end this before any more of the kids got hurt. She had a theory as to how, but she was not a fan of it. Not one bit.

Rose sent a vine her way, a giant and spiked thing lashing at the ground where she had just moments before had been standing.

"Has fear forced you to latch onto the one word? By all means, keep repeating it... It'll serve as fond memories when I rip your tongue from your skull," Rose called, her voice both mocking and furious.

Minori pivoted her weight mid step, ducking underneath a vine meant for her head as she changed direction, running now for Rose. Her Mana was churning within her body for the spell she was about to cast, the ace up her sleeve she kept for when things got really bad. It was why she hadn't healed, why she hadn't fought before now, and why she had refrained from any spells. She had no doubts that the woman could probably copy her spell if she wished, but that was the thing... it would take time.

"Is running all you are good for now? You're worse than the boy!" Rose taunted, but she seemed frustrated at her inaccuracy. Minori was only going to get ten seconds, so she had to be close, but she was already wasting too much energy running in the first place, but if she didn't Rose might lash out at the others.

Minori did not respond to the taunt, but did reach behind her, drawing out the knife she had taken from the Japanese exhibit. Feeling its heft in her hand made her wonder just how many ninja had died doing a similar maneuver? Maybe she would meet them in the afterlife if her plan failed.

Minori ducked out of the way of another vine, but stopped as her eyes widened in realization, smirking at Rose.

"I know I'm not faster or more agile than Aldred," Minori said calmly, the strength in her voice surprising her a little.

Rose smirked as well, crossing her arms as the giant vines coiled back around her.

"Impressive. None of the others have caught my traps... not that observance will do you much good, nor will the knife," Rose said, grinning as the vines suddenly lashed out at full speed, grabbing Minori by the ankle before she could even move and flicked her effortlessly into the air. Minori's mana continued building, begging for a release now. She was primed to go as soon as she had an opening.

The fall itself would have hurt, but a vine whipped her across the back from beneath her, bouncing her back up into the air, this process repeating a few times before Minori was allowed to hit the ground with a sickening and wet splat. The thorns had ripped her skin to shreds, and she felt a sharp pain in her sides, her broken ribs having sliced the meat around them. She instinctively curled into a ball on the hard tiled floor, , coughing up blood to confirm her internal bleeding.

'Perhaps eight seconds will be enough...' Minori thought, her body screaming in protest as she tried to move. Rose hovered just a few feet away from her broken body, an amused look on her face as she watched Minori struggle to get to her knees, muttering under her breath.

"Not even a spell to be cast... what were you planning, you little cu-" Rose started, but Minori cut her off as the healing spell finished its job.

"If space and time are absolute, then the speed of light must be relative, depending upon the speed of the observer. The speed of light is absolute and does not depend upon the speed of the observer, therefore, either space or time must be relative," Minori said, having started the incantation when she was still on her knees. She shot up, knife in hand, as time came to a crawl. Rose's face contorted into surprise, but having to heal herself had cost Minori precious seconds. Rose's frozen form didn't seem to mind when Minori wrapped an arm around her shoulder to support herself.

Her body was broken, unable to lift her arm up level with her shoulder, much less cut into the woman's throat as she had planned, but the human body was an efficient feat of biological engineering, and as such, most of its parts were vital. With all of her strength, Minori stabbed deeply into Rose's side, the woman's body beginning to speed up as she too tried to stop time, but it didn't matter now. For all her mana, she was subject to the laws of the universe just as Minori was. Six seconds had passed before Rose's consciousness caught up with her body in its frozen moment, Minori having stabbed the woman four times by then.

"Your victory will be Pyrrhic, you bitch!" Minori shouted, stabbing once more as time sped back up. The knife dug deep, the woman's clothes stained red and wet with her own blood as Minori let go of the handle and fell to the ground. The exertion had opened the wounds she had healed again, Minori's own blood mixing with the woman's as she lay on the tile.

The pain had, as Minori had feared, not knocked Rose out of her time spell, and she didn't seem bound to the same time limit as Minori. In what felt like an instant, Minori's arm was broken, her back covered in bruises, and her knife now buried into her shoulder. The pain came all at once, and as Minori was about to have a hole stomped through her neck, Rose became distracted by the duo of Zane and Damion.

Minori smiled, making a mental note of the three mana colors she sensed where the two people stood, but she was in no condition to ponder about it right now. She shifted her body, forcing herself to stay awake from the pain, as well as to give her something to focus on so she didn't go into shock. What precious little mana she had left went to healing, but she would need to rest before she could get back to her feet. Rose's sadism had kept her from hitting truly vital areas, so Minori focused on stopping her bleeding. The arm and shoulder wound could come last, and she wouldn't like it but she could live with broken ribs for a little bit. Then, she would leave it to Zane and Damion, and trust that they could stop Rose.

The last thing Minori heard before passing out was Zane using the Infinity Gate spell, and hoping that Rose was having as much fun as she was right now.

-=-

Minori didn't wake up again until she heard Aldred's voice calling out, a sigh of relief at his survival causing Minori to cough. She felt immense pain everywhere, but she didn't feel Rose any longer, which was what she chose to focus on. She also felt mana back in her system, the sleep having replenished some of it. She muttered an incantation and focused, reaching slowly to her shoulder to grab the knife, tears streaming down her face as she slid the blade back out. As soon as it was free, she placed the handle in her mouth, and grabbed as big of handfuls of her lab coat as she could manage to keep her from hurting herself.

Another healing spell, this time aimed at her ribs and arm, sent shockwaves of pain through her body as the bones snapped back into place, Minori's screams muffled by the knife handle in her mouth. The moment took an eternity to pass and Minori felt every iota of the process, but when she finally spit the knife back out, she could breathe without pain, and maybe even stand if she took a notion to.

She heard the others call out their survival, though her own mental checklist proved they were one short.

"Sillo?" She whispered, throat still sore from the battle. She focused her Mana Sense and still felt everyone's mana present, though Sillo's was much weaker than everyone else. Groaning, and still covered in cuts and bruises, Minori struggled back to her feet and looked around, her sense pointing her towards the limp form atop the metal wall at the far side of the exhibit.

"Sillo!" Minori cried, ignoring the pain as she ran towards the still form of the boy. She panicked as she studied the situation, frantically looking from Sillo to his injuries, unsure of how to safely treat either. She did reach out and put a hand on his head, gently caressing his hair, and reached down to take his hand in hers. They both knew this would hurt like hell.

Her free hand gently hovered over his chest, and she muttered an incantation to get her mana flowing, demanding that it heal her friend. All she could manage with her weakened state was to repair his rib-cage, allowing him to breathe without as much difficulty, but she had only just gotten on her feet as well.

She removed the hand on Sillo's chest and put the fingers to the comm somehow still lodged into her ear.

"All units posted outside the museum, primary threat has been eliminated as well as the gate. Medical assistance required, Sillo Deskern is the priority. Copy?" Minori said, some of the panic leaving her body when the teams outside responded.

"Unaware if primary threat was only threat, be advised. Do NOT send in medical unescorted, copy?"

Another affirmative response, and Minori smiled as she collapsed beside of Sillo.

"Before you ask, no, I can't write you a doctor's note for school..." Minori said faintly, exhausted from the battle and using up what mana she'd gotten from her sleep to heal herself and stabilize Sillo. He very well might have the strength to heal himself by this point, it being a spell nearly every gatewatcher knew for situations just like this, but some were better at it than others.

She squeezed her grip on his hand gently to let him know that had been a joke.

"Anyone with the capacity, heal the wounded. A unit is on the way in, but I'd like for everyone to be alive when they get here," Minori called to the others, but her body refused to budge anymore. She was a scientist, goddammit, not some sort of spartan warrior.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine
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Cedric stood at the front of the yacht, the wind whipping his hair, the sun warming his face. Dolphins raced across the bow, chasing the spray and dancing around the boat, jumping high out of the water and blowing geysers of their own spray into the air. Seagulls cried as they coasted lazily above, waiting some stray scrap to swoop down and claim as their own. The crew was still bustling about, finishing up odd tasks that hadn't needed to be accomplished before setting off. They had a week of nothing but ocean and islands and adventure ahead of them and it was a perfect day to start out. His grandfather had planned the trip months ago, and Cedric had been looking forward to it just as long. There was little he enjoyed more than spending time with Marcus.

ɔiɿbɘƆ Ɉʜϱiʇ Ɉ'noႧ

"I'm going to find a pirate ship! I'm going to capture a pirate!" the boy proclaimed loudly as lunch was served. He had visions of tall ships and treasure and Blackbeard playing out in his head. Surely there would be pirates in the islands, and it was obviously his duty to seek them out.

"Capture a pirate?" Marcus laughed, "And what do you intend to do once you've caught him?"

"We'll start an island." was the matter of fact reply, as though that was the most common and proper answer to such a question. What other reason would he have for capturing a pirate? "We won't need to steal money though, because you've got all the money grampa, so I guess we won't be pirates."

Marcus contemplated this logic for a moment, sipping his coffee slowly. Finally he nodded, as though it was indeed a most logical train of thought. "So then you plan on reforming this pirate?"

"Oh no, he don't need to go to school or nothin." Cedric dismissed the question and returned to his lunch.

ni ɘviӘ

"Cedric, stay in the cabin!"

The sky exploded in a white light again and thunder rolled after it. The waves pushed the yacht every direction at once. Cedric latched onto the sofa, staring at the angry sea. Crew ran about making sure valuables were secure and stowed away. Cedric's eyes grew wide as a massive wave approached the broad side of the craft. It had always seemed so very big to him, but now the yacht seemed incredibly small. He was afraid.


"So much for asking nicely."


Rain pelted his face as he stumbled across the deck. Everything was loud, the wind, the rain, the waves. Lightning flashed and a crack of thunder blotted out all other sounds for a moment, shaking Cedric to his bones. He reached out ahead of him, stumbling. A rouge wave crashed into the ship from the stern and sent him sprawling across the deck, slipping dangerously close to the edge.

Flash of light.

Crack of thunder.

Crash of wave.

Endlessly repeated.

Cedric couldn't see, he couldn't remember what had drawn him out of the relative safety of the cabin into the squall. He only knew he had made a mistake. He knew he was scared, his legs hurt, his ears hurt, his body hurt. Another crack, but something was different, this wasn't thunder. Looking up he was met with a jetski that had broken lose of it's bindings, it was nearly on top of him.

"I know the cost. I don't need to be taunted."

Everything seemed to stop. Cedric was still aware of the storm raging, but the sound of thunder was dull and far off, the rain pelting against his skin felt no harder than a spring shower, the waves crashing against the boat didn't upset his balance. The Jetski was stuck motionless, floating a few feet off of the surface of the deck. Cedric stared at it, fear still coursing through his veins, until he finally summoned up the nerve to move. First a step, then two, then a dash towards the cabin door. As he let his focus leave the ski it suddenly continued on its path, crashing through the safety ropes and into the angry sea.

ɿɘvɘɿoʇ nυɿ Ɉ'nɒɔ υoY

"What were you doing out there!?" Marcus rushed to his grandson.

"I, I don't know. I, I was looking for you!" The boy was shaking, scared, embarrassed, and confused. What had happened out on the deck? It had seemed like the entire storm slowed down, like he had been in some sort of bubble. His heart was still racing.

"Oh, boy. Come now, come down, you're alright now. Lets get you dry. Don't you worry, she's survived worse than this." His grandfather wrapped a big towel around the boy and ushered him down towards the staterooms.

nɘqqɒʜ oɈ ϱnioϱ ƨ'ɈI

Cedric started.

He wasn't on the yacht anymore, he was no longer a child. He stared around him, the place was a fog, but somehow familiar. A sinking feeling came over him. He saw shadows, people, he didn't know who they were but he knew them. He tried to speak but couldn't, tried to move, tired to reach out, but he was stuck. Another shadow appeared, he couldn't tell where it had come from, something else was with it, but he wasn't sure what. As it approached one of the figures' faces became clear. Marcus Valentine was standing in his bedroom, smiling at the visitor.

The feeling in the pit of Cedric's stomach intensified, a knot twisting, pulling the feeling out of his arms and legs, his head began to spin. He knew what was going to happen.

He had seen this before.

The shadow moved, a smile turned into confusion, then fear.

Marcus' body fell to the ground. Cedric looked on for what seemed like an eternity as the body fell lifeless. He tried to move, tried to scream out 'STOP! Someone help him! Somebody!" but there was no sound.

He couldn't move, he couldn't speak, he tired to cry but even the tears wouldn't come. He was trapped inside himself.

"You owe me one"





Pain shot through him and the scene disappeared. It was unbelievable, unnatural, even compared to what he felt when he used his mana. It went racing through his veins, burning every inch of him. He felt like his blood was burning him alive and electrocuting him at the same time. He tired to make it stop, tried to cry out, but he was still stuck, still unable to control his own body. Every one of his senses was consumed by it, he couldn't see for it, couldn't hear for it, it was like all that did exist or ever had existed was this pain and his ability to experience it. Thoughts of death began to creep into his mind, not of fear that he was dying, but of hoping that he would.

Then, finally, it all stopped. The pain became natural, pleasantly so, a dull throb compared to what he had experienced. He was aware for a moment that he could hear. Fingers, toes, something against his back. The floor, he was laying on the floor. He remembered, the destruction, running, the hole in his side, the cuts, the broken bones, it all came back to him.

With a gasp of breath he came to. The first thing he was really aware of, before even opening his eyes, was the sweet fact that his lungs were working. Everything was still sore, though decidedly not as broken as it had been when he lost consciousness. He took another deep breath before opening his eyes. There he was, laying on the ground in the middle of a disaster area that made the original bomb seem like child's play. Selena was kneeling over him, but not focused on him at the moment.

"Yeah, I owe you big time." He smiled weakly. "Thanks."

His head began to spin slightly as he sat up slowly and leaned against what was left of the car he had so daftly avoided crashing into. He couldn't help but think about the man, the one man, who had caused all of this destruction. Clearly he wasn't going to be much use half tapping his mana abilities. The thought sent a shiver down his spine, but he knew he would have to risk the consequences.





miʜ lliʞ υoγ ˎɔiɿbɘƆ ˎυoγ ƨi ɈI

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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Damion was not entirely sure what just happened. From what he could tell, Zane just totally kicked ass....but even then, with all the boosts, Zane was incapable of giving Rose more then a few scratches. At least, that was what he thought at first. When he realized what Zane did, Damion had to admit it was impressive. But still, it required him to tap into two mana sources, and he only barely succeeded. When Rose finished re-applying her concealment spell, she was going to slaughter them all.

She was going to kill everyone.

Damion got up, and noticed that Zane was wearing glasses. This puzzled him for awhile, as he wondered where he got them, but more importantly, why they were laced with Mana that had a different effect on natural mana then Zane's. It almost seemed like it was....in tune.

But what Damion could not believe even more was that Zane knew two Infinity Spells. Infinity Gate, and Infinity Cannon. As he walked up to the others while Zane was passed out, he couldn't help but wonder out loud. "Exactly, who are you Zane?"

Damion could not have participated in the battle. He was too injured, and Zane needed all his mana to do something crazy. Still, there was no way they could stand up to Rose a second time and live.

"So, guys, anyone have any ideas on how to get stronger before Rose returns and kills us all? Anyone? Cause, you know in a day or two, she will be done, come back, and slaughter us all one by one right? Personally, I would rather not be slaughtered" Damion mentioned. "I assume you all feel the same way".

Damion then walked by Minori, and silently asked her something. "You felt it too right? The strange mana energy during the fight? I only felt its impact, so I was wondering....if you knew what it was?"

As he looked around at the results of their battle, he couldn't help but wonder how any boost they got would be enough. Certainly, no matter what boost they acquired, it would not be enough to deal with Rose. They would still need to work together to take her down.

But the question still stands: How are they going to find something to boost their mana power enough to even get close to Rose's level of power.

(So yeah, since Damion couldn't take part in the fight, now as much coming from him. But, hope this was sufficient!)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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Zane smiled a little as the others were shown to be all okay. As Aldred walked over to him, he smiled at them all. "Well, I am glad to see you are all okay..." After that however, Zane passed out.

-------------------

Zane woke up in a strange place. He was on a rooftop, and across the whole city, fires were burning. People were screaming. There were Gateways everywhere. And below him was a book. It was titled "A Complete List of Known Spells any Mana User can learn". It looked a little beaten up, but Zane felt like it looked familiar. He skimmed through the book, seeing all sorts of sections. Summoning Spells, Celestial Spells, Fire Spells, Infinity Spells. The Infinity Spells were powerful, but technically any Gatewatcher could learn them. It just took time. Funny enough, like a dream, Zane could not remember where he learned the Infinity Spells.

Then it hit him. A dream. This whole place was a dream. He had just passed out at the museum. As he looked down at the book, he noticed something. The dedication page. "Written by every man and woman who founded the Gatewatchers, to give their children a better future". Zane then watched as his father's glasses fell onto that page. As he picked them up, a voice echoed out behind him. Although he had no memories of it, he knew immediately it was his father's voice. He turned around in excitement, but the man was shrouded in shadows. It was his father, but Zane could not make out his face. "Why are you hiding your face from me, papa?"

"Papa, your first word when you were a baby. Its a shame I could never truly be there for you due to what happened" he told Zane. While his face was shrouded, his voice was clear as day. Zane supposed he should be grateful. "If your wondering how this is possible, its because things have escalated to a dangerous point".

"You are the one who taught me the Infinity Spells, didn't you? I never questioned how I knew them until today" Zane mentioned. "But tell me, how are you contacting me?"

"I am also an Oracle. I left this message ready for you when the time is right. But know I always watch over you. I am proud of how you handled Rose, but there is much you don't know about her yet..."

"I know she is the one responsible for killing you" Zane told him.

"What you don't know is that she was my assistant" he interrupted Zane. "And we both know none of you can handle Rose as is. But listen, I don't have much more time. I can only keep this up for so long. There are several ways you can amplify your magical power before Rose returns. Or before her brother comes after you all. You could seek out power inside a Gateway, but I am afraid that will take too long, so don't do that. What you can do though, is find and complete magical artifacts, or create powerful totems of your own by going through a personal trial and dealing with your past if its applicable. Another way is to learn or unlock forbidden magics, such as the one you learned on accident you chose not to use against Rose. But back on topic. For example, the Scepter you completely forgot to use against Rose..."

Zane blushed at his mistake. He had totally forgotten that it boosted his mana earlier. Had he used it, his body would be in a far better shape. "I guess I got a little carried away..."

"....yeah, well it is only partly complete. In each indent at the end is supposed to be a Red Jewel. Get the Jewels, and it should amplify your power enough that if the others also amplify their power, you should be able to defeat Rose. Now I am sorry, but I am out of time. So be careful. They have someone inside the Gatewatchers...."

---------------------------------------------------------------

While Zane was unconscious, his glasses started to fall to the ground. As they did, a voice echoed out of seemingly nowhere. "Infinity Restoration!"

Suddenly, a white orb appeared in the center of the room, and all that were bathed in its light found their wounds healing, and their mana being restored. Once the spell had been cast, the orb disappeared. But there was no doubt. Whoever cast it...was a White Mana User. As the mana faded, Zane woke up. Unfortunately for Zane, everything from his vision was foggy like a dream. He could only remember parts.

"Guys, I think I know how we can power up before Rose returns and kills us all" Zane mentioned as he hopped to his feet. "When I picked up this Scepter...which I may have forgotten about during my fight with Rose and didn't pull out...my mana power increased. Now, its not complete, but I can find the rest easily. But, if we all find or create totems of our own to help channel our mana, much like how Rose had all those Rose symbols, I think if we work together with all of our powers boosted we stand a chance".

Then he noticed his father's glasses were on the floor. He quickly picked them up, and put them away. "Wonder why my dad's glasses were on the floor...I should take better care of them, even if I warded them to some ungodly level". (Fun fact: Between the Mana stored inside from Zane's father, and Zane's own protection spells, those glasses could actually deflect a direct attack from Newton and neither the glasses or the wearer would take any damage. This is also the first time Zane pointed out those glasses were his father's). Zane knew he just had some sort of vision, he could tell, but for some reason it was all fuzzy and impossible to remember the details, just that he learned they would all need to get stronger fast....or be annihilated by Rose.

"By the way, whoever cast this healing spell is amazing. I must have been out for awhile though, because even my mana was fully restored. If the healer isn't here, send them my thanks!" Zane said as he started to walk off, completely oblivious to what just happened. "I have to find the rest of this Scepter so its at full power....and then, you know, remember to use it next time..."

Zane might not be aware of it, but it was likely obvious to the other Gatewatcher's that something involved with Zane's past was involved. The way he got angry at Rose out of nowhere, the fact his glasses eminate white mana but in a way Zane wouldn't notice, and the fact that not only did Zane use two Infinity Spells, but his father's glasses also cast a third. But little did everyone know, that he was not the only one involved in this mystery...

(Well, I would say that was a significant amount of foreshadowing! Hope you all enjoy!)

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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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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Huh...so this is my life now? Fighting ridiculously OP females with infatuations about roses? Come on, life! Couldn't you have given us someone with at least a good sense of humor? Granted, it's really fun to make her mad, but still. Thorny vines aren't exactly my form of amusement. The least she could've done is left a bed of roses for us to lay on before she left. That would've been classy as fuck! But nope, I get my own friggin' metal wall as a cushion. Fucking excellent. Why does metal taste like this anyway? It really annoying. I- OOOOOWWWWWW!

Sillo didn't have the energy to speak what he was thinking, nor did he have the stupidity to move after shattering all of his ribs. So when Minori ran over to his side and slid him onto his back, he couldn't exactly verbalize his protests. But that didn't stop it from hurting any less. A soft touch against his head told him that Minori was examining him, looking for the broken spots. He felt her other hand wrap around his. He gave a very weak squeeze back, letting her know he was alive.

And suddenly the breathing got a bit easier. Gasping from pain and from lack of discomfort, he squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth as a wave of agony washed over him. He knew he needed to be fixed, but at the same time he wanted everything to stop hurting. When the waves stopped, he felt support in his chest once more and found he could breathe somewhat regularly. His insides still felt like mush and the pain there was undeniable, but it was a start.

"Thanks," he whispered faintly to Minori, opening his eyes to look around the rest of the room. Aldred was by Zane, ruffling the redhead's hair as Zane went under once more, his toll of the battle. Damion was sitting at the other end of the room, weakened from the collective mana pool between Zane and himself. Everyone was alive.

"Before you ask, no, I can't write you a doctor's note for school..."

Sillo started chuckling which turned into a fit of coughing followed by an effort to spit. The crimson colored saliva that came out wasn't a reassuring sign to behold. "Yeah...probably not. Who would...believe me anyway?" Sillo started shifting his weight slightly, trying to not look like a helpless puppy, "Yeah, I got my ass handed to by a sixty year old woman who had poor fashion sense and an insatiable blood lust that only my body could quench. Can I not do laps in gym today?" Sillo managed a smile, "I can't see that conversation going over well. Not to mention explaining the bat shit crazy portion of my life would earn me a field trip to the insane asylum. Plan B?"

Yeah, his sense of humor was still there, even in the state Sillo was in. However, there was a glint in his eye...something that hadn't been there when he walked into that Egyptian exhibit earlier today. His eyes carried an intensity to them that not even the most lighthearted humor couldn't hide. Was it anger? Fear? Hatred? Or determination? Sillo didn't know and it was likely that the others wouldn't know except maybe a subtle difference in his aura. But one thing was for sure. Whatever it was that resonated in Sillo's eyes was left there by Rose.

"So, guys, anyone have any ideas on how to get stronger before Rose returns and kills us all? Anyone? Cause, you know in a day or two, she will be done, come back, and slaughter us all one by one right? Personally, I would rather not be slaughtered."

Wasn't I, though?

Still, Damion did have a point. Rose would return to finish the job. They had to act and quickly. Otherwise, the results will be more lethal than before. But how could they get more powerful? Sillo had more Mana Stamina than anyone in the room and he'd used it all unsuccessfully attacking her. It seemed impossible.

"Infinity Restoration!" a voice boomed.

Suddenly, Sillo found the pain subsiding, little by little until it was eaten away by the wave of pleasant energy that flooded his body. Sillo found he not only felt fine...he felt well rested. He lifted his arms to test this, surprised to see that no pain jolted through his biceps as he brought them in front of his face. It was a miracle...or White Mana. Sillo didn't need a mana sensing ability that everyone else had to know when he was in the presence of it. It was a purifying feel, unlike any other mana feeling.

Who cast it?

He glanced over at Zane, the boy who seemed to be full of surprises as of lately, but it appeared the sphere was just now waking the orphan up. None of the other Gatewatchers had moved from their position. So wha-?

Ah, fuck it. He wasn't going to complain about being saved from the brink of death. That was something rich snobs did in cliche movies. Pulling himself to a sitting position, he nodded at Minori, letting her know he was completely better and assuming that she was in the same boat.

"Guys, I think I know how we can power up before Rose returns and kills us all," Zane mentioned as he hopped to his feet. "When I picked up this Scepter...which I may have forgotten about during my fight with Rose and didn't pull out...my mana power increased. Now, its not complete, but I can find the rest easily. But, if we all find or create totems of our own to help channel our mana, much like how Rose had all those Rose symbols, I think if we work together with all of our powers boosted we stand a chance".

Ah, that made sense...

"So we need trinkets to accompany us in battle?" Sillo murmured, more to himself rather than to anyone in particular, "But where am I gonna find mine?" What was worse, he didn't have a place to research what these totems were or where he could find them, given how the Gatewatchers HQ was bombed and such. He stared at Zane's scepter questioningly, wondering how he'd managed to find his in this room. He assumed Rose had led him here, but through what means?

"Well, guess we're going trinket hunting!" Sillo clapped his hands together, "And I'm probably right to believe that each person had a different trinket to search for...but where do we start? The Headquarters is out of commission for the time being until they clean the bomb mess up, so no Gateway History access for us." he thought for a moment before snapping his fingers in epiphany, "The library?"

The library was typically a good place to start, considering that even though it didn't contain plain and simple Gateway history like on a module at the HQ, it had it coded and subtexted in the ink of a majority of history books. Gatewatcher history went back a long ways and it was relatable to any degree through any history point in time. It practically made the backbone for history itself. The module just decoded that information in an efficient way and presented it for them to use quickly, but Sillo had no problem searching for the information he needed the old fashioned way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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"Yeah...probably not. Who would...believe me anyway? Yeah, I got my ass handed to by a sixty year old woman who had poor fashion sense and an insatiable blood lust that only my body could quench. Can I not do laps in gym today? I can't see that conversation going over well. Not to mention explaining the bat shit crazy portion of my life would earn me a field trip to the insane asylum. Plan B?"

Minori smiled gently as the boy spoke, rolling over to her back to enjoy not being vine whipped or beaten, or stabbed. She didn't want to make breaking her body a habit, but she'd do it again when that woman returned, and then some if she didn't get stronger. Damion vocalized that thought for the group, and asked for suggestions but Minori couldn't tell if the latter was sarcasm or not. She had some ideas, of course, but there was a reason she hadn't attempted any of them.

"Research and Development have been working on Mana Storage tanks, though they don't have a working model as of yet. Artificial mana conversion is proving quite the obstacle..." Minori said, it being one of the projects she'd been occupying her time with as of late. She had been working on studying sealing techniques, believing that infusing the machines with the mana of their user would aid in the process, but the HQ blew up before she could make much progress.

"But a lack of mana isn't the problem, is it?" She asked, sitting up now as she looked around the exhibit. The museum was abandoned and half destroyed, and the group had the building to themselves for the time being. "I wonder if there's any other magical artifacts in here..." She muttered, trying to get to her feet. She felt Damion approaching as she did so, and stayed down on one knee for a moment, staying at the young man's height being an excellent excuse to not strain her already sore muscles.

"You felt it too right? The strange mana energy during the fight? I only felt its impact, so I was wondering....if you knew what it was?"

Minori instantly darted her eyes over towards Zane, brow furrowing as she mulled over how to respond. She'd felt it, she was sure of it, but it was hard to focus when you were bleeding out.

"What it was is the easy part... Zane drew on your mana, and someone else's, to use those spells. My Sense was clouded by the concealment spell, as well as crippling amounts of pain, so I'm not sure where the third mana source came from..." Minori said, closing her eyes in an attempt to focus, but only received a headache for the trouble.

"The source is still near him, but is so faint as to be non-existant. I wouldn't know to focus in on it at all if not for its appearance before... I'm also starting to think Zane's admission to Gatewatchers shouldn't be a request any longer, given what has and will probably transpire," Minori said coldly. Powerful beings were targeting him, he knew their spells... and Minori didn't even want to start with what she had thought the color of that third mana was. The point being, Zane held a lot of answers, and they could protect him much better than he could himself from Rose.

She started to continue, but stopped when a white orb appeared, the mana making it up being very conveniently familiar, and began to release healing waves of magic throughout the room. The healing spell was sophisticated, even taking the ache from her muscles as it washed over her. She took a minute to enjoy the sensation before standing and looking over at Zane, who was just now waking up.

"Guys, I think I know how we can power up before Rose returns and kills us all," Zane mentioned as he hopped to his feet. "When I picked up this Scepter...which I may have forgotten about during my fight with Rose and didn't pull out...my mana power increased. Now, its not complete, but I can find the rest easily. But, if we all find or create totems of our own to help channel our mana, much like how Rose had all those Rose symbols, I think if we work together with all of our powers boosted we stand a chance".

'Oh sure... just run out to the corner store and pick up some magical artifacts,' Minori thought to herself, sighing in frustration. He also drew her attention to the glasses she hadn't realized he'd had, and had to stop herself from running up and yanking them from his hands. As it stood, she merely ran over to him, and very carefully hovered her hands near the glasses in a compromise.

This was the third source.

She stopped herself before she did more with her hands then feel the air around the glasses, shaking her head in an attempt to rid herself of the temptation. An inanimate object with its own mana, complete with unique color... she could run tests on it that she never could on people...

Would their bodies even be cold?

The thought made her step away, hands clenched tight as Rose's words swam in her head.

"Those glasses... Never let them out of your sight, Zane. Pun unintended," She said, and stormed off away from the others. If she were to need a totem or a relic, she had some thoughts as to what she would prefer.

"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", Minori called, stopping at one of the exhibit doors as she awaited a response.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Damion Gray Character Portrait: Zane Bell Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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"Magical artefacts that powerful don't grow on trees, Zane." Aldred sighed, straightening up.

Magical amplifiers depended on the amount of power the mage using it currently had. Many used them, but it mostly amplified their power only by a little thanks to their quality. High quality amplifiers were hard to find thanks to the complexity it took to make them, and finding one powerful enough to defeat someone who had barely been scratched by two infinity spells would be almost impossible to find and pretty rare. Something that powerful would have to be ancient, and it definitely well-guarded.

Although Aldred was considered one of the most physically powerful mages in the Gatewatcher community, Sillo one of the top tier in mana stamina and Minori one of the best (only) researchers around, they weren't that high up the tier of the organisation. He wasn't even sure if the Gatekeeper organisation had those artifacts in storage, although they probably would have considering what they were doing. Aldred didn't think that they would just allow a group of people - two kids, two teens and one young woman - to use something like that even if they were Gatewatchers.

Hmm. Minori was a researcher. If she claimed to be researching the artefacts... Nah. Not that high up in the organisation and we'd all get into trouble.

Stretching his hands up to release tension, Aldred gave a small sigh of relief as his bones popped. He had no clue where the white magic ball came from - it didn't seem to be from Zane or any of them, that's for sure - but it had healed his wounds and restored his magic, getting rid of the aches and pains he'd felt in his bones. Too bad it couldn't do anything about his shirt, though. It was torn almost to shreds, hanging onto his thin frame with only the barest of threads. His jeans were salvageable at least. They were torn and tattered, but he could pass it off as one of those ripped-jeans fashion if he sewed up a few holes.

Still, everything was replenished. it would definitely help in the upcoming fight.

One to two days, three if they were lucky - she seemed to be the type to wait until her mana was full before going after them instead of leaving while it was half-empty after casting the spell. That was how much time they had before the next attack. Alright, time to plan.

"Well, guess we're going trinket hunting!" Sillo clapped his hands together, "And I'm probably right to believe that each person had a different trinket to search for...but where do we start? The Headquarters is out of commission for the time being until they clean the bomb mess up, so no Gateway History access for us." he thought for a moment before snapping his fingers in epiphany, "The library?"

"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. I need to go back to HQ too, to get a new outfit." Aldred said, taking off his shirt to reveal lean musculature and well-defined abs. A few faded scars could be seen trailing across his torso, the most obvious one being a large pale pink scar trailing down his back, as if someone had tried to rip him open from behind. Rolling his raged shirt and tucking it under his arm, Aldred walked towards Minori, uncaring that his torso was exposed. "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." he mused, slipping his hands into his pockets. A calculative look formed on his face as he replayed the fight in his head, analysing her movements and his own strategies, trying to see if there was anything he could use. "Come up with some plans, too, and see what we can find out about her and the people she works with."

It wasn't like they could just rely on amplifying their own power to ungodly levels - they would also have to work on increasing their own natural power, getting used to having that amount of power, and come up with strategies of their own. Power was just that - power. To use it effectively, to use it without it backfiring on them or the others... that required hard work, but there wasn't enough time. It wasn't like the enemy would wait for them to be ready, after all.

"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." Aldred's voice had lost its normally light tone for seriousness instead, his eyes dark and calculative like a soldier planning for war. "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."

Grabbing the exhibit door and holding it open for Minori to go through, Aldred waited for her to leave before leaving himself, keeping up by her side.

Setting

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."

Rose...

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...

RRRRRROOOOOOOOAAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!




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.

Setting

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.

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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.

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Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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"I'll take that lift. I need to go back to HQ too, to get a new outfit." Aldred said, taking off his shirt to reveal lean musculature and well-defined abs. "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."

The sight of Aldred removing his shirt caused Minori to raise an eyebrow and smirk, the act looking like something one would see at the start of some god awful adult video. She was also the only girl present, so couldn't help but feel as if some of the 'show' was for her own benefit. Being that he was still in high school Minori merely thought it cute, but it did remind her that she'd been locked up in her lab for a while now without much of a social life to speak of. If she was going to die in a few days, she might as well go out having a bit of fun, right? A shame she was surrounded by kids.

Sillo's approach caught her off guard, the teleportation doubly so as she suddenly found herself at the pile of rubble on which their headquarters once stood. She always got vertigo when Sillo did this, feeling her lunch threaten to resurface as she grabbed the young shirted boy by the shoulder and squeezed. She did this both to steady herself, but also to ensure Sillo didn't teleport away without her. She allowed him his freakout, Minori finding the sight of destruction hard to swallow as well, but with what they endured at the museum she wasn't really that shocked. Rose having allies wasn't much of a reveal.

"Minori, didn't you, like, ice proof the place to keep it from collapsing?" Sillo asked as the trio made their way to what used to be the main building, but found only Cedric, Selena, and a young boy Minori assumed was a new Gatewatcher. Hell of a first day, Minori mused.

"I sealed off the room the bomb went off in to keep the mana it released from spreading. It wouldn't have held against anything strong enough to tear the building down," she answered, her attention split between the rubble and the survivors.

She was surprised to see Cedric and Selena, both normally more inclined to solitude though their being together didn't shock her too much. They actually made a cute couple, if she thought Selena would be inclined to such things. After having spent an afternoon fighting dark gods with a bunch of kids, the sight of people of drinking age was actually a welcome sight. She listened intently as Selena recounted what had happened, nodding thoughtfully until Cedric's interjection, eyes widening a bit at the mention of the strength of the black mana user's power, as well as the use of a nickname for Selena. Where the hell had these people been hiding? Before she added to the conversation, she squeezed Sillo's shoulder to get his attention, an unstable smile spreading on her face as she stopped bothering to hide her mental and emotional stress brought on by... well everything.

"Sillo... My car is still at the museum. Be a dear and go get it, would you?" She asked, channeling mana into the hand she was holding Sillo with, his shirt now coated in frost between his right sleeve and the collar. Her grip tightened as she added, "And be sure to focus extra hard. Wouldn't want a repeat of the cage incident, now would we?"

The warm air around them caused smoke to gently emanate from her hand, but Minori let go before her mana could do more than spook the boy. He could appreciate the kind of day she was having, and not everyone could rely on teleporting to get around. Not to mention the payments Minori still needed to make on that car, or the notes she still had within. With her car addressed, she turned to look back at Cedric and Selena.

"Impossibly strong mana users that defy all logic with their capabilities? Seems to be catching," Minori started, looking out over the rubble. She could still feel the fallout from the spell that had been used, and shuddered at how strong it would have had to have been. Selene was not a kind healer, but she was better than most. It was probably the only reason either of them still lived.

"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 said, looking back out at the rubble.

"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..." Minori mused, but wound up just face palming and letting out an annoyed sigh.

"Anyone else want to go to a bar? I need to sit down and not have something cataclysmic happen for ten minutes."

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(So, had half writers block, here goes nothing)

(Since Bane kinda already said it in OOC, might as well get some of this stuff done! Its NPC time!)

The Gatewatcher Council read through the reports, having been written just minutes ago, about the incidents at Gatewatcher Eastern HQ, The Museum, and a few old reports, including one labeled "Project Lotus", another about the investigation into several missing scientists, and another one detailing an old facility known as "Lab 51".

"So, it appears they know the truth, that the Gateways and Mana have existed long before the Gatewatcher's were secretly former. This is a dangerous truth to know however, it may get them killed if they grow curious. Knowing the Gateways are older means they may grow curious about what is on the other side, others might wonder if something they lost....something they want, is on the other side. We are still not one hundred percent sure about what happened twenty years ago to cause the Gateways to appear more frequent, or if its even related to the incident" One of the councilors told them, a councilor known as Arkangel. All the Gatewatcher higher ups went by code names to protect their friends and loved ones from rogue elements. The five councilors of this region were known as Arkangel, Loki, Watcher, Artemis, and Hunter.

Artemis and Hunter both looked with some dismay. "I think we should consider another expedition into a Gateway. We were not prepared because it was the first time last time, me and Hunter could easily organize another, more prepared hunt. If we master the other side, we will not need to fear the Gateways".

"Except its not just what comes through hunter, but the affects of the Gateways themselves. There only stable Gateway we have right now is at Orion Labs, and even then, its small considering everything. We are not allowing another expedition. Instead, we need to find a way to permenantly seal Gateways, only then can we make it safe!" Watcher complained.

Arkangel frowned. "The Gateways are dangerous, but they also bring us Mana, which can help people. While I think another expedition is bad idea, to seal them all completely is also a bad idea. We should instead focus on this new group for now I believe, who seem capable of manipulating Gateways. As well as discuss a few other topics...."

"Do you mean that boy, Zane? I do not trust him. He has appeared at two different Black Mana Terrorist sites. How do we know he is not one of them? I think we should either capture and have Selena interrogate him, or eliminate him altogether. After all, he clearly has been stealing spells from us. How else could he have Infinity Spells?" Loki suggested.

"He is no thief" Artemis defended Zane, and she was clearly annoyed with Loki about something. "The fact he has managed so much makes him an obvious asset, especially if his dedication to fighting Black Mana Users is as strong as I believe. I think I should deal with him and the others personally. Have me and my best agents train and help them. Besides, we have no clue what the Black Mana Users might do to them since they lived".

Arkangel nodded. "For now, Artemis, I believe we should go with your idea. You and your agents, seek out these Gatewatcher's from the museum and help them. And Artemis, find a way to bring Zane into the fold. We need each other now more then ever.

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"What do you mean, let the drones deal with them?!" Rose shouted in an uproar at Dreamy and Newton. "They know too much about us!"

"Exactly, sending in the drones is the best choice" Dreamy said, looking out off the roof of a building into the city. "You see, if you go after them, you will be killed by a Gatewatcher of tremendous power. I cannot see who it is, but there are many possibilities. I only know that they have either met you or Newton at least briefly. Also, if you take the time to hunt them down, we will not complete our objective quick enough. The drones can fight, but they cannot do the precise mana work we need you, me, Newton, and those other two for".

"Is that really what you see in your prediction?" Rose asked, having calmed down.

"Part of it yes, another is based on orders from our Lord Master. Orders we are not to disobey" Dreamy said with a hint of sadness.

Rose grunted in annoyance, but seemed to accept this. "Fine, but if the drones don't kill them quickly enough, I will go and do it myself".

The drones were people under their control who could do a variety of mana attacks and fighting, but other then fighting and concealing themselves as normal people, as well as general self survival stuff, they didn't do much else. Still, they were a threat in their own right...

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Zane looked at the highrise building. In a vault on the top floor were the two gemstones that went with the scepter. All he had to do was steal them....

Easier said then done, even for a mana user, because this building he could tell was also owned by a mana user.

Setting

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-"

“Here.”

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.

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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.

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Character Portrait: Damion Gray
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(sorry for taking so long, but my computer kept farting D:)

Damion was kinda miffed that everyone ditched him at this point. Even Zane left. He would have to have a serious talk with everyone later. As Damion made his way out of the museum though, he couldn't help but be baffled by everything they had learned. Zane in particular. He was connected to this somehow, but he did not know how.

That was when he noticed T-Rex tracks leading out and away from the museum. He immediately got on Gatewatcher comms and broadcasted on all Gatewatcher frequencies. "Guuuuuys. We may or may not have a missing T-Rex...yeah, I am not equipped to hunt this thing".

Meanwhile, Damion considered what Zane said. They needed to power up, but was some object going to be enough, if he could find or make one to help focus his magic further? Sure, it would help, but would it be enough? Would anything be enough? He suppose that they should consider themselves lucky. Even without casting any spells, she tossed them around like ragdolls. At least, thats how Damion remembered it. He was across the room with a concussion at the time. Though, now that he thought of it, it did seem like her power did go down through the fight. Maybe he had just imagined it though, but he was sure halfway through it did weaken.

Still, it didn't matter, because she outclassed them on every level. They needed more power, more magic. He looked down at his hands. We need to catch them off guard with something...I wonder...

He quickly got out his laptop and accessed the Gatewatcher database. He was looking for something specific, an old research lab he remembered hearing about. It was not a guarentee, but if the aftereffects were still there and just like he heard, it was where he needed to go. He had only heard stories about it, a research lab where they did experiments on an Active Gateway. The project however had gotten out of control, and even though the Gateway was supposedly closed, the infestation of what had come through remained. A large amount of Plant life from the other side of the Gateway, or mana infused Earth plants that were altered and became more powerful due to the Wild Mana of the Gateway.

If he was going to fight Rose, he would need something new. Something no one could predict. The Gateways were different, each one was different, and no one knew for certain which Gateways led to the same world and which ones led to different worlds. This he could use to his advantage. No matter how much they knew about gateways, they could not predict what type of weapon he would acquire from one, even if it was sealed.

And so, he left for Lab 21. It took him awhile, but by the time he arrived, it was a large abandoned science facility with a Gatewatcher posing as a guard. As he approached, the Guard realized who he was. "I am sorry sir, but this is restricted access, even to Gatewatchers".

"I need what is in here to fight an enemy more powerful then us. Its that bad" he told him. "They are the ones responsible for destroying the Eastern HQ. So unless you want to stop me from gathering weapons and power to help me deal with people of that level of power, who are capable of shredding through a squad of elite Gatewatchers like wet tissue paper, you will let me through".

The guard stopped argueing from that point on, and let Damion pass. As he entered Lab 21, he could feel it inside. The reports were wrong.

Either the Gateway was still open, or it had opened again. Which meant, fresh specimens for his nature magic. He would analyze, scan, and sense all of these plants so he could replicate them. So he could utilize them. An open Gateway meant more danger, but it also meant his chance to become stronger here was greater. "This is Gatewatcher Gray. The Gateway inside Lab 21 is open. I am moving in to handle the situation. Do not send backup. I am doing this alone".

He had to do this alone. It would serve as a symbol, a focuser to help him gain more strength. The power of mana was determined by many things, but Damion always found that conviction was one of them. And this was his conviction. He would brave Lab 21 alone. He would get his new weapons. And he would close the Gateway.

And next time he encountered Rose, he would have weapons she would not be able to see coming.

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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 closer...at 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.

Oooohmmmmmmmmmmm...

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.

Setting

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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"Sel."

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.

"Yeah.."

"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.

Setting

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?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sillo Deskern Character Portrait: Selena Stone Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Aldred Kynn Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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After being a mana researcher for the Gatewatchers organization for several years, one thing Minori had had to learn on the job was to observe people. No one liked being examined, or prodded with needles, or inconvenienced in general. It especially didn't help matters that Gatewatchers were people with power, literally and figuratively, which brought with it a lovely cocktail of personality quirks such as inflated senses of ego and invincibility that only a person capable of conjuring fire with their mind could have. So if, say, something weird had happened to them and they couldn't conjure as much fire, or maybe more fire than usual, they were prone to be tight-lipped even though such phenomenon were the exact reason Minori's position existed to begin with.

Minori was studying the group as a whole, but Selena caught her attention the quickest. As soon as Aldred and the others chimed in with their field reports, Minori side-eyed the macabre woman as she regarded one of her palms in a way most people without magical weirdness in their bodies decidedly did not. She was in thought, even her expressionless face said that much, but what happened that involved her palm? Selena was already of particular interest to Minori due to her physical changes as a result of obtaining mana, and the unique nature of her powers made her come off as the owner of the Necronomicon rather than a mana user. This didn't even touch on her youthful appearance, who hadn't aged a day since Minori first arrived. Selena would rather slay the whole of the organization than be examined in the ways Minori wished to conduct, but after all the events of the day perhaps she might be more malleable than usual.

Another curiosity was Selena's offering up the information that she'd never drank before. It was cute, in so much as Selena was capable, but even she seemed put off by her own words. She corrected course by threatening Cedric, which snuck a small smile onto Minori's lips. The two had been together, both notorious loners, when the headquarters collapsed, right? Selena was full of surprises today.

"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," Cedric shot back at Selena "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."

Minori smiled. "Cedric, we both know if Selena killed you, she wouldn't waste the energy on quick and painless, especially if you weren't awake for all of it," she said in a teasing tone, reaching into her pocket to grab her keys, aiming the fob up into the air and pressing a button to turn off the alarm of her car as it protested traveling with Sillo.

Sillo and Aldred then chimed in about their post-battle plans, with Aldred expressing interest in drinking but seeming to change his mind when the prospect of training came up. Cedric gently urged the duo to explore that avenue of thought, not wishing to be accompanied by teenagers after the day he'd had today. Minori could sympathize.

"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," Minori said, tussling the previously shirtless boy's hair and booping Sillo on the nose with her finger as she spoke about magical healing. She'd written about ten papers on the subject, and had pushed for medical facilities to be budgeted for to preserve the mental well-being of gatewatchers who were more injury prone than others. The brain remembering the pain and being unable to see the scars that should be there, coupled with ptsd that came standard with the work hazards of being a field agent was not kind to the psyche of veterans. Some even showed signs of suffering from emotional abuse due to their brains gaslighting themselves over previous injuries, unable to recall if the events they had nightmares about even happened. Dreadful stuff.

"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 walked off after that, having summoned her driver on her phone just prior. The grin on Minori's face spread slightly as she waved after Selena. "Maybe next time we'll talk you into that first drink! Oh, and if you have any medical concerns from your encounter today, don't hesitate to ask! I'm quite handy with healing magic myself, you know," Minori said, voice filled with cheer as she spoke. She didn't want to out Selena outright over her palm, if in fact it was an issue at all, but perhaps that bit of prodding might elicit a mutually beneficial response. If not, then maybe at least Cedric wouldn't die alone.

Cedric followed suit, leaving Selena with a quip before informing Minori that he had a bar in mind once he checked on the state of his car. Being in any proximity of the building and parking garage that had just collapsed, however, did not bode well for the automobile. Minori took the opportunity to excuse herself from Aldred and Sillo's company, taking a few steps away before reaching up to her comm device and switching the frequency.

"Minori Fukutawa reporting, requesting contact with Artemis of the council at her earliest convenience. Eastern HQ is down and there are issues I believe she might like to be made aware of. Not to mention a transfer request to an HQ with a lab until Eastern can be rebuilt," Minori said, running rough shot over the operator who had answered her hail, and changed frequencies before they could respond. It was a habit of hers when it came to contacting Central Command.

She stepped back to the group once her call was completed, only waiting a few moments before Cedric returned.

“Well, they can ticket it if they want, it's done. So, I guess you're driving?”

"And miss the chance to have a Valentine chauffeur me around in my Mazda?" Minori chuckled, tossing her keys to Cedric as she began to walk towards her car.

"Besides, you had the bar in mind. I know my pale skin suggests I get out a lot, but I don't think I've driven anywhere besides work and home since I joined the organization," she added, though once the duo arrived at her car, she held out a hand to reclaim her keys if Cedric was legitimately opposed to the task. She meant it in teasing, but had no qualms about riding shotgun if Cedric didn't.

Once settled in the car and on the road, Minori regarded Cedric for a moment before letting out a short sigh.

"I didn't want to say before, kids and all, but there's one last issue regarding today that worries me. The bomb was placed for maximum range, and no one reported any suspicious activity. Security had no incident reports, we've not had any break-ins or run-ins with either black mana user encountered today. Whoever our assailant was knew the layout before they got there. Either the enemy received a layout of our building beforehand... or they were already familiar," Minori said coldly.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Zane Bell
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There was only one place Zane could go to plan his little break in and get the gems he needed to strengthen his scepter. And that was Alleytown. It was a town hidden inside this city, a town created by mana users. You see, Zane was not the top for office buildings or official training rooms or stuffy shirts. Zane was a street kid, and that meant he had his own way of doing things. And this place was more his style. It was casual, energetic, and chaotic. There was no illusion of order here. The chaos was a part of the order. Everything worked because everyone adapted to the beat. Here was the best place to buy magical tools, new spells, top of the line potions, and there were even a few schools of magic.

Zane had actually learned about magic at one of them. It was where he perfected his own battle art. Its where he was headed first. As he entered, he bowed in respect to his master. Master Otaku, the master of his own style of magic, which he called Blitz Style. Blitz Style involved both short and long ranged attacks. It was mostly about not letting the enemy get a chance to rest, but also taught patience as well. About creating multi-step plans, and both setting them up and setting them off during a battle.

He took off his shoes, and sat in the traditional style. Okay, most of them were casual. But Master Otaki was Zane's one exception "Zane, its been a long time. How is the only student to master my style in two years? Something is troubling you".

"Yes Master. Something troubles me greatly, so I came to get your advice. If you encountered the person who murdered your parents without mercy, without any good reason other then he might be a threat in the future, and this person was also dangerous who threatened to kill both you and your friends, what would you do to her?" Zane asked, as his master handed him some tea. He drank it, and tried to ignore the bitter taste. Still the same old tea.

"I see, this is a situation. Are you sure its her?"

"I have no doubt, Master. And she is that big of a threat".

"And you want to kill her, but you cannot tell whether its because its what you want, or what is needed? Well, to take the life of someone without thought is a dark road, so coming here already is a good sign. But a woman like that, you may not get a choice. If it comes down to it, you must accept the weight of that action to protect others. If you are given the choice however, you will know at that moment what your heart and your mind both want, and you will make the right action".

Zane understood what he meant, and before he left, got in a quick practice session. Then, he went to the one place he knew he could count of for things. She ran a magic tool shop on Elderwood Lane, the only street in Alleytown where Elderwood trees grew. And then, he found her. "Alexis".

The young, blue haired girl smiled at seeing him. "Zane! Its been awhile! How are things?"

"You know that jackass, Emerian Jones, who owns all those artifacts and constantly tries to bully the people of Alleytown? I am planning to rob him to gain powerful gems to increase my power" Zane told her. "So, got anything I could use?"

Alexis smiled. "Oh shoot Zane, you say the nicest things". She snapped her fingers, and suddenly everything around them became white. They had entered Alexis' Pocket Dimension, where she kept all of her top of the line stock. "We got our Mimicry Kits, our Magi-Lock Openers, our Golem Disruptors, and a few other nasty surprises. Need anything else, or will that be enough?"

"No, that's fine. I am all fired up to beat this guy anyways, so I can fight the one I really want" Zane mentioned.

Alexis looked concerned. "So that's it. You know your Mana isn't as strong as it should be. Something has you seriously emotionally disconnected. Its causing you to be less powerful then you should be...".

"Emotionally....disconnected...?" Zane questioned for a second. Then it occurred to him, he normally kept great control, but today they were a bit harder then normal. Hold on, he recalled now, it wasn't just him. Rose's flashy arrival, the way she tore into everyone, even her mana presence alone before even appearing? The way she made them feel inferior. The way she didn't even budge when attacked. And then, during the battle, she....What if....

Zane figured it out now. He knew Rose's secret. He knew how to defeat her, and it wouldn't take that much power if done right. He should still get a power boost probably, but now, he knew it. He knew it for a fact. He knew a way they could defeat Rose.

He smiled, and turned to Alexis. "Thanks for the help. Everything is going to be okay".

As he left Alleytown, he immediately pulled up the Gatewatcher Directory. There was one person he needed to confer with first. One person he had to share his deduction with, one person who he at least hoped would tell him the truth. He needed to know if what he was thinking was possible...even if this person said no, they might be wrong, but he was sure of it and he believed this person would too.

As he approached the building, he made the call. "Hey, I need to ask you something...".

MEANWHILE.....

The Agents of Artemis, plus Artemis himself, would approach the Gatewatchers upon getting stronger, and learning specialized fighting styles, and learning new magics quickly. However, out of all of them....one was on a different mission. A very dangerous mission. But nowhere near as in danger....as the target of the assassin among them.

Setting

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?"

"Well..."

"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.

Setting

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 teleporter...cool.

"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.

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Character Portrait: Cedric Valentine Character Portrait: Minori Fukutawa
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Cedric reactively caught the keys as they sailed towards him. He really didn't mind either way, he enjoyed driving, it felt normal. Between hunting down rouge gateways and the creatures that came out of them, and being part of one of the wealthiest families on the planet, there really weren't all that many "everyday" things that were just normal for him. Minori offered to take the keys back when they got to her old Mazda, but Cedric dangled them for a moment "Oh no, I'm going to enjoy ruining your seat position." He smiled as he got in and did what he was sure was just that, he was almost a head taller than his colleague, after all.

They drove in silence for a few moments as the two got settled, and then Minori finally said what Cedric had expected to hear at some point long prior from someone. "...or they were already familiar." It hadn't taken long once the life threatening events came to a close that he realized there was probably a mole, it took him even less time to realize that many people would instantly suspect him. There were few people in the organization that really trusted the black mana user. He knew for a fact that a number of the regional council wouldn't be opposed to his death, or at the very least his not being associated with the organization. He was quiet for a long moment, his first instinct was to defend himself, but he thought if Minori really suspected him of any involvement she certainly wouldn't have put her self in this situation. Finally he cast a sidelong glance across the car.

"Well, they asked me to do it, but I told them when I over throw the organization I'm going solo, I want all that glory for myself." He chuckled shortly as he turned down an avenue towards the east end. Despite his sarcastic humor he did turn to the seriousness of the issue. "You're right though, as powerful as the concealment on the bomb was, I have a hard time believing either of our suspects could have just walked into HQ and nobody would notice. Oh, that place has great bagels." He pointed to a little tiny corner shop with a blue awning as they went by. "I wouldn't even know were to start looking, it's not like I get to the office all that often. It's the object that they took that intrigues me, who ever these people are, they went to a lot of trouble to get it. Council rarely sees fit to tell me what they are keeping locked up at HQ, other than what I bring in myself." He cast another glance at the woman, this time with a questioning eyebrow. He wasn't sure if she knew any more about what they may have taken than he did, but between the two of them he figured the one who researches everything would be the one to ask.

They drove on for a while more before Cedric guided the car into a small alley between two old brick buildings and pulling into a small reserved parking area. He got out and walked around to open Minori's door, always on his best behavior, and lead her to an entrance tucked just off the street, the sign hanging over the door simply said "Michael's". Upon entering the were greeted by soft light and hard wood. The dark mahogany bar extended down one wall. The bar tender looked up from serving a patron to give Cedric an acknowledging nod before returning to his task. opposite the bar were tables tucked into small arched alcoves, one of which Cedric made his way to, offering Minori her choice of seat before taking the other. The place seemed both welcoming and high class, which it was.

"Needless to say, there is a lot to worry about right now, not the least of which being one of these kids going and getting themselves killed trying to mess with things that are over their heads." Cedric sighed as he rubbed his temples, he wasn't ready to admit that he was just as worried about himself doing just that.

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Character Portrait: Damion Gray
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Damion hung up his phone, having gotten a number of calls, most of which were people asking what the hell he was thinking. Well, his answer was that he was thinking he needed an ace up his sleeve. However, the next call surprised him even more.

"What do you want?" Damion asked the Gatewatcher Internal Investigator Seymour Jones.

"Why the fuck are you at Lab 21?"

"Gaining a few aces up my sleeve for the next time I encounter Rose".

"This is a violation of protocol 33-" he started, but then hung up.

"I cant believe that asshole memorized the protocols. No one does that. Hell, even the Councils don't do that. Uppity jerk, always prying into people's business" Damion mentioned, as he entered the main room. It was covered wall to wall with exotic plantlife he had never seen before. Some of it was already trying to eat him. He then felt his leg burning. He looked down, and saw that it was some sort of vine that was excreeting acid, likely the same kind found in stomachs, to dissolve him. "Plant life that dissolves its meals without swallowing it whole? Interesting. It could break through the Rosevine Wall".

Damion quickly took a sample of it to absorb its essence. With that done, he would be able to use Growth magic to grow these things during a battle. However, he soon found himself in a tricky situation. Suddenly, vines and roots lunged out of the ground to attack him. He tried using Growth magic to control it, but he found it was so powerful, it re-directed his magic to temporarily stun him, allowing him to get tied up during the attack.

Thats when he saw it. A tree had grown around the Gateway. It was vibrating with sentience and magical power. And when it moved, so did the Gateway. The Gateway was actually a part of it! It began speaking telepathically. "Well well, another human comes to die. I have been extremely hungry".

"Not today! Transmutation! Explosive!" Suddenly, the far part of the tree's arm holding Damion turned into explosive material, which he then used Mana to detonate remotely. This freed him from the giant tree's grasp, but he soon realized the issue of the situation. This tree was being powered by a Gateway, which meant he needed to close it. Additionally, nature and growth magic would be useless in this situation, since the tree could easily overpower him. After all, it was nature and growth in itself. This left him with his other styles of magic, which he was not as skilled with. Still, he had to try something. "Transmutation! Metal Spikes!"

Suddenly, metal spikes popped out from the ground and pierced several of the weaker roots and branches, but against the thicker ones they shattered. Then, Damion got hit across the room by one of those roots. As he hit the wall, vines began snaring him and slashing at him. However, right before the final hit was struck by a large root, an energy barrier stopped it and trapped it. Damion jumped up onto the root, and ran down it right to the Gateway. He then drained it of Mana, closing the Gateway. He then got hit by a giant tree, knocking him back into the wall again. "Well, at least the Gateway is closed".

"You think that is the only Gateway out there I can use? I have absorbed the minds of the scientists. I know about Lab 51. I will simply go there to gain more power..." the tree taunted him. "And I know about your secret as well...what you did on November 23rd".

"If you know so much, then how about you tell me....Rose's real name" Damion countered, as the tree approached him.

"Sorry, but I think I will make you fertilizer instead" it mentioned. Damion then did something he couldn't before. He used his growth magic to ensnare the talking, moving tree. It began taking control of the vines. "Did you think this would work?"

"I...know it will!" Damion shouted, as he regained control. As the vines ensnared the tree, it started to dissolve. It was the acidic vines. "And I will have your power as well, Talking Tree! Your roots are engulfed in power. Your bark can shatter steel. Your roots hold the strength to knock people around. I need that power, so I will take control of your essence as well!"

As the tree dissolved, Damion engulfed his fist with mana and punched into the tree, absorbing its essence. Now, he would be able to bring forth this tree, albiet in a lesser varient, but it would be a useful tool in his arsenal. As the tree whithered and died, he turned on his communicator. "This is Gatewatcher Gray, the Gateway in Lab 21 is closed, and the giant man eating tree has been defeated. The lab is ready to be reclaimed".

As he walked out of the lab, he decided to go find some people to test his new powers on. Maybe Aldred?