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Albrecht von Richthofen

"Z tego powodu latam: aby uciec od ciemno??ci."

0 · 385 views · located in Atlas City

a character in “Hadean”, as played by DarKnight36

Description

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Theme 1 - Ten Thousand Feet
Theme 2 – Crimson Rider
Theme 3 – Skyline
Theme 4 – Sky is Mine
Theme 5 – Redshift Riders
Theme 6 – Through the Light Darkly
Theme 7 – This Week I've Been Mostly Playing Guitar
Theme 8 – Maskarade Remix

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Full Name: Baron Albrecht von Richthofen (goes by Baron to most people, Albert to his friends)
Alias: Crimson Shield (previously Backlash)
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: Polish

Hair: Brown

Eye color: Light Brown

Body: Stocky, Muscular

Height: 5'8"

Weight: 150 pounds

Hometown: Wrocław, Poland

Affiliation(s): Atlas City Heroes Incorporated (ACHI)

Personality: Rather loud and brash. Respects strength. Full of energy, likes to keep moving. Driven by his desire to be the best.


Likes:
- Power

- Eating

- Fighting

- Attention

Dislikes:
- Cowards

- Licorice

- Sleeping in

Fears:
- Failure

- Not living up to family's expectations

Skills:
- Building, fixing and upgrading engines, guns, and airplanes

- Flying airplanes of all sorts

- Boxing

- Shooting

Costume Identities:

Wears an old school fighter's jacket and uniform similar in style to his ancestor's.

Equipment:
- Has a personal triplane stylized after the original Red Baron's Fokker DRI dubbed "Blood Wing I." Mostly uses it for recreational purposes. He has a personal Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II that he has outfitted with experimental and upgraded technology, dubbed "Blood Wing II."

- Has a rifle and pistol he built himself

- Has a motorcycle he uses for ground missions

Background: Born in Poland, Albert moved to the US at a young age with his mother and younger sister, where he spent most of his time daydreaming about flying. Enthralled by the legend of Manfred, the ace-of-aces of World War II and the original Red Baron, Albert joined the Air Force while in high school. His preternatural abilities at tinkering with engines and planes was quickly utilized, and his almost unbelievable instinct as a pilot was further honed.

While running a routine reconnaissance mission, Albert's plane experienced a strange malfunction. Albert bailed from the aircraft but his chute was damaged, causing him to plummet thousands of feet to the ground with nothing to halt his momentum. It was at this time his powers first manifested, as he landed safely. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force, but six months later chose to ally himself with ACHI, on his sister's suggestion, rather than SINS.

Albert's powers continue to show extraordinary growth, and he has taken on subsequently tougher missions for ACHI as his time there goes by. After two years, Albert's name as Backlash is whispered as the new face and champion of ACHI, although some of the more veteran heroes there scowl at this. Albert, for his part, continues to do what he's always done: prove he's the best.

Powers:

The Backlash Engine -
[Breaker – Level 6]

Albert absorbs energy in all its forms, although kinetic is the easiest for him to utilize. After absorbing the energy, his body can store or expend the energy. Stored energy has increased potency, but even immediately released, Albert's powers will increase the payload of the energy it's received. For this reason, Albert is widely considered someone not to get into a brawl with - the stronger his opponent, the stronger the Baron will become proportionately.

Certain forms of energy seem to require more effort for the Backlash Engine to process, but it seems relatively unaffected by powers that "remove" energy, such as cold or draining powers.

When expending energy stored, Albert's speed and power increase, and he can even blast energy outwards from his fists. These blasts seem to have the same properties as a solar flare, with high heat and the side effect of disrupting radio and even shorting out electronics in the nearby vicinity. Albert also can heal very quickly by using stored energy.

Power Origins:

Falling several thousand feet through the air appears to have been the traumatic incident that turned Baron's Backlash Engine on.

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Color Code:#B5573B

So begins...

Albrecht von Richthofen's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Sasha woke up at 6:00 AM sharp, as usual, and slipped into his morning routine with no hesitation. Stretches, then a few push-ups and sit-ups, followed by slipping into some comfortable clothes and a three-mile run through the backstreets of the city. He only felt slightly dismayed that there were very few others out and about this morning, but the few people he did run into were offered a smile and nod.

Taking a breather in a plaza near the center of town, Sasha took a deep breath, allowing his nose to filter the smells that permeated the city. He closed his eyes, listening intently for a few seconds. There was a tension in the air, like the calm before a storm. It filled him with excitement, a sort of nervous energy that Sasha had a practiced hand at focusing.

Sasha felt his phone buzz, the chime for a text message playing. Pulling the device out of his pocket, Sasha read Cannonade's text and smiled to himself.

Nearly there, Sasha thought, returning the phone to his pocket and heading back to his apartment. Seems like today will be the day.

***

High above Sasha, a propeller-driven triplane floated above the city. The thrum of its engine reached downwards, providing a gentle background to the general noise of the waking city. In the cockpit, Albrecht, or Albert as he preferred, reclined, allowing his feet to do the flying - an action that would certainly have unnerved any copilot had he had one, but Albert spent so much time in the air, he sometimes wondered if he could fly simply by thinking at the controls.

Yawning wide enough to crack his jaws, Albert turned his gaze from the city below and flicked his headset back on.

"Hey, is the boss in yet?" Albert said, turning the plane in a lazy arc as he drifted towards the eastern side of town. "I wanted to talk to her."

"Yeah, she just got here," came the operator's response. "Want me to patch you through?"

"Naw, I'll come down," Albert said, flicking his headset off again and leaping from his plane unceremoniously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Albert landed as lightly as if he'd simply taken a step forward, not as if he'd just fallen a few hundred feet. He could have landed harder, but part of the reason his stunts were tolerated was his promise not to cause any undue damage to ACHI property. As he was now walking on the roof of their headquarters, it probably counted.

Albert opened the door to the stairwell leading downwards, and slid down the railing with a practiced hand. Although taking a tumble to the bottom wouldn't hurt him, he would have to climb all the way back up, so he was careful to keep his balance until he reached the fifth floor.

Stepping inside what he called the "paperwork" level of the building, Albert waved cheerily to Ivetta's secretary, who glanced nervously between Albert and the door to Ivetta's office.

"I'll just let myself in," Albert said, patting the secretary on his shoulder and stepping inside Ivetta's room, taking a quick glance around as he usually did. "Yo, boss, you got anything for me today? I'm a little disappointed you didn't fill me in on those Witchfinders yesterday. And by a little disappointed, I'm actually pissed."

Ivetta chewed her thumbnail while staring at a monitor with her feet on the desk, not turning to look at him when he came in. "The Witchfinders who were already dead or unconscious when we arrived on scene, you mean. What can I say, I didn't take you for the clean up type." She turned her chair slightly to look at him sidelong. "You shouldn't ignore Antony, by the way. He does important work keeping people from bothering me and if you just let yourself in like this, he can't keep you from bothering me. It makes him feel useless."

"Aw, he's fine," Albert said, settling in on the chair opposite Ivetta and kicking his own feet up on the desk, knocking Ivetta's off. He grinned. "Oh, my bad. But hey, maybe if you spent more time actually looking for work instead of, ah, focusing on those clean-ups, we'd be doing better around here." Albert snorted and dropped his feet off the desk, his expression turning serious.

"Listen, all digs aside, I've got a bad feeling about today," Albert said, staring intently at Ivetta. "I'm serious, have you heard anything through the pipeline today?"

Ivetta turned back to her monitor, pulling a thin black kiseru with a cup shaped like a wolf's head from a drawer of her desk. She chewed the mouthpiece idly, eyes narrowed at something only she could see on the holographic screen while she considered the question. "This and that," she offered noncomittally. A mischeivous grin played at the corners of her mouth. "SINS van got blown up outside a bar."

She sighed and ran her fingers down a slate on her desk, causing the monitor to vanish. "How do you feel about poker, Al? You a gambling fan?" she asked, seemingly changing the subject. "I've been playing it quite a bit lately."

"I'm not a good liar," Albert said, a smirk crossing his face but his eyes remained pointed at Ivetta's own. "Never have been. When I want something, it shows. Besides, why trust fickle Lady Luck? She'd as soon slap you as kiss you. No, gambling's not for me, boss."

Ivetta chuckled to herself. "There's your mistake. poker isn't about luck, it's about knowing what's in your opponent's hand. Counting which cards are left, reading faces to know when they're nervous or frustrated. I'm very good at it." She spun her pipe between her fingers. "Some people like to cheat, though. It's hard to know what's in someone's hand if they can pull out cards you didn't realize they had, you see?"

"Are you offering me to... beat up some cheaters at poker?" Albert asked, confusion and dubiousness written on his face. "Not sure how I feel about that."

She burst out laughing at that, leaning back in her chair with her head thrown back, sharp white teeth glinting in the overhead light. "Sure!" she declared between cachinnations. "Why not!" She pinched the bridge of her nose as she pulled herself back over to the desk, getting her cackling back down to more respectable giggles. "No, no, not really. If anything, I'd ask you to help cheat back, but something tells me you aren't the type."

She picked the slate up off her desk, considering it for a moment. "No, gambling is my vice. It's not something to drag others into." She stood, tapping the slate lightly against her shoulder as she moved to leave the office. "Tell you what, if I do hear something good, you'll be the first to know."

Albert watched her go for a moment, then sighed, stood, stretched, and followed Ivetta outside the room, heading for the stairwell. As usual, the conversations with the former NAHLA agent were as annoying as they were pointless, but Albert felt the need to try to eke out what he could from her anyway.

Heading downstairs after giving a casual wave to Antony, Albert leaped to the bottom effortlessly. He'd have to catch a cab or something to get back to the hangar, but maybe traveling through the city on street level would find him something interesting to do. Albert grinned as he stepped outside ACHI's doors, breathing in the chill morning air.

Time to go be a hero.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Sasha turned at the horrendous cry of the beast and stared for a moment. Raising his phone, he selected a slew of contacts and sent a single text message:

Beach. Now. It's time.

***

Albert had already reached the outskirts of town when the Giant Creature from the Black Lagoon rose from the ocean. His cab driver had swore profusely, screamed and ran off the road into a telephone pole. Albert had watched in confusion as the driver had ditched the car and run, sobbing loudly, then kicked open his own door and stared back towards the beach with wide eyes.

"That's gonna be a doozy to blow up," Albert said, shielding his eyes from the sun and whistling softly. Turning, he began sprinting down the street. He needed to get back to his plane.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Ivetta smelled it before Agent Peter Radovan ever reached for his phone. Before it ever rose out of the sea. Before its abhorrent roar broke across Atlas City like a storm. She picked up her phone before it finished the first ring, and was ordering those still in the offices of Atlas City Heroes Incorporated before Radovan had even finished speaking. Her mistake that morning was assuming it had been some sort of broken septic pipe, and that was already costing lives. She’d be damned if she let any hesitation here cost more.

The instant Peter hung up the phone, she was dialing a new number. She’d made a promise after all. ”Richthofen, if you aren’t already in the air I want you circling overhead in the next thirty seconds.” Ivetta didn’t bother to insult Albrecht by assuming he didn’t already know what she was talking about. ”Your orders are not to engage. Your orders are not to engage. SINS is already mobilizing artillery to deal with the threat, and our orders are to prioritize rescue, evacuation, and damage mitigation.”

She was already down to the first floor and out on the street before she finished the sentence, ACHI’s two van’s loaded and speeding off as she first started jogging and then sprinting down the road as it filled with frightened civilians rushing to get away from the eastern edge of the city. Despite being on foot, she easily managed to overtake the two vehicles, her leather cowboy boots cracking the sidewalk with the force of her steps.

”I need you to be our eye in the sky, Backlash,” Ivetta continued between controlled breaths, skidding as she rounded a tight corner. ”I’ve had Antony patch you in with NAHLA’s comms network so you can help coordinate operators on the ground.”

He wouldn’t like that job, Ivetta knew he wouldn’t before the orders even left her mouth. He was hotheaded, reckless, single-minded, brash, and proud, and his first impulse would be to dive in headfirst for combat. But he was also one of the most reliable operators Ivetta had at her disposal, and despite his rough edges she’d seen full well the potential he had. She reasoned if he could handle this task, if she could groom him in the right direction, he could grow to be one of the best leaders ACHI had ever had. It was a gamble of course, especially in a situation like this one, but it was also one of the first opportunities she had to properly stress-test that theory.

She arrived at the designated zone a beat behind the NAHLA transports. ACHI’s own van’s arrived a moment later. Arcanum was already issuing orders in his typically arrogant and dismissive way, and Ivetta wasted no time after his exit to take over and provide more direct instruction. “Do stuff, be useful, bye.” Prick.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Sasha covered the approximately three miles to the beach in under three minutes, but the first sight of the creature brought his shifted body to a skidding halt. Adjusting his body back to a more normal state, Sasha noted the mist poisoning the beach. Enhancing his eyes to penetrate the mist, he could see the dissolved state of the victims within its confines.

His eyes narrowed. He would need a sample of the mist in order to form a counter to it. Extending a hand, Sasha's pointer finger shot forwards impossibly far, reaching the mist and snapping back into position almost too quick to see. Sasha's hand quivered as the poison ate its way into his system, but within a few moments his body had broken down the structure of the corrosive gas, and created an anti-toxin.

Now, to meet up with his "team"... If they showed up.

***

"Okaaaay," Albert said, wondering whether he should completely ignore Ivetta or not. Reaching the airstrip, Albert shook his head and began shouting at the hangar.

"Hey, my plane, get me in the air!" Albert shouted, running up to the hangar door only to take a wrench to the face.

"Dickface, what did I tell you about leaping out of your airplane mid-air!" came the voice following the wrench. Albert picked up the tool uncomfortably as the main technician of ACHI marched up to Albert, her cheeks flushed and her fists clenched.

"Listen, now's not the time..." Albert tried to interrupt, but Penny's fist smashed into his chin, cutting him off.

"I'd kill you, but Ivetta called and wants you back in the air, God help us all," Penny snarled, snatching the wrench back from Albert and jutting a thumb at Albert's plane which was being rolled out. "Autopilot tech or not, though, jump out of your plane again and I'll shove this wrench up your ass."

"Fine, I'll keep it to emergencies, or if I need to make a really cool entrance," Albert said, laughing at Penny as he ran to his plane. "Which is probably gonna be real soon, actually... What with that creature out there..."

The last bit Albert muttered to himself as he leaped back into the cockpit, roared the engine to life, and jammed the stick forward. Within a few more seconds, Albert was in the air and headed for the beachfront.

"This is Backlash," Albert said over official comms to Ivetta. "I'm in the air. Let's get these people out of this thing's path. Keep in mind, though, boss... I'm going to play this by ear. If I need to hit the ground, I'm going to."

Plus this will give me time to build up power, Albert thought to himself, already feeling the kinetic energy from his motion building. Looking at the creature rising out of the ocean, Albert's eyes narrowed into a glare. If the artillery doesn't take this thing out, I'm going to have to. Heaven knows there's no one else who can.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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It took Sasha a few seconds to realize his mistake - he had assumed the mist was an extreme acid of some kind, something that rapidly ate away skin and bone. And, it was... in part.

However, as he noted the transformation on the beach, he felt an itch on his own skin. Staring incredulously at his hand where it had touched the mist, he noted that his skin was being to decay rapidly. That shouldn't be possible, Sasha thought, then angrily drove the thought from his mind as he brought the full extent of his power to bear on the alien elements he had passed into his own body.

Sasha was not overconfident in himself. He had practiced hundreds of thousands of hours, stretched and experimented with his powers to a limit that very few other supers had. Perhaps to an extent that no super ever had. He could control every cell in his body at one time, billions upon billions of cells that could be twisted, mutated, subjugated, all at his whim and command. Whatever came into his body, became his cells.

Yet these cells still fought him. It was like trying to flatten a slippery bar of soap, and each time the cell slipped from his grasp, it collided with another, transforming that cell into a rebellious, angry soap bar. Sasha fought for several moments, the skin on his hand and forearm flashing back and forth, until finally he'd had enough, and expelled the cells from his body... forcefully.

The skin from his hand exploded into dust as he irritably murdered the cells there. He stared at his skinless hand for a moment, then regenerated the skin there, noting that the infectious cells had not seemed to infect anything beneath the outer skin layer. Staring at the thick mist ahead, Sasha's eyes narrowed as his gaze rose up to the beast beyond it.

"Don't think just because you took me by surprise that it means you've won this battle," Sasha said calmly towards the creature, although he doubted it could hear him, let alone understand him. "I will not make the same mistake twice."

His attention was diverted down to the beasts rising from the sea. Sneering, Sasha's form shifted once again, his demonic visage covering him. This time, however, his form seemed to ripple the air around him, and his fists glowed like they had been superheated. Sasha carefully drew a line along the sand with his foot in front of the wide street he had run down to reach the sandy waterfront, and stepped just in front of it.

"You will not pass me," Sasha said, his voice a guttural snarl that did not intimidate the approaching thralls. Sasha planted himself, waiting patiently for the monster to get close. As the first one's jaws opened wide, Sasha finally moved.

His fist was a blur as it connected squarely with the creature. The hapless horror's body flew backwards, its chest instantly igniting. The next several foul offspring met a similar fate, even one nearly ten feet to Sasha's right as his fist darted out to crack into what served as the monster's face. The rest of the monsters continued to shuffle forward regardless, and Sasha shook his head, smoke rising from his fists as he continued to strike.

***

Albert noted the powerful beam slicing into the giant sludge alien down below, and grunted to himself. It seemed he'd made the right call not attacking instantly. Other heroes were on the ground, helping the panicked citizens get away from the beach. It now appeared that smaller entities were trying to invade the city, but so far they weren't making it that far.

"HQ, when's that artillery strike hitting?" Albert said over the comms. "Also what exactly are they hitting it with? We've got heroes on the beach fighting off what looks like footsoldiers, but we also still have civilians down there. They're not planning on blasting the entire city, are they?"

Because, if so, Albert would have a real problem with that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Evangeline Richter Character Portrait: Hugo Hemrod Character Portrait: Joseph Wright Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Hudson Li Character Portrait: Amy Lin Character Portrait: Leah Lin Character Portrait: Ezekiel Walker
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March 12th, 2045, 9:40am: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

Day 2


Albert's comms crackled to life as a reply came through. "HQ here Albert. Not certain on that ETA yet, government is supposed to be filling us in on that soon. Sounds like the weapon is some sort of canon, or artillery, not sure. They're going to level the residential area close to the beach, they want civvies moved to the West as much as possible to avoid any collateral."

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As Vicki and Maeve arrived on scene to help defeat the Beast of Decay, close to a dozen of its offspring rushed up onto the beach, with 3 targeting Maeve, 2 targeting Vicki, and the remaining others charged towards where Yue, Jericho, and Alex were operating. The sand behind these creatures darkened, as patches of dark mold grew.

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And explosion of noise erupted from the entrance of one of the roads leading to the beach, as several of the Beast's offspring were torn to shreds, some bursting into bits of flame. The massive .50 caliber machine gun Richard had was making quick work of the offspring, but this was little more than a temporary measure. The man in tweed too had fired off shots, taking out two more of the dark beasts before needing to reload.

Down another adjacent street, explosions could be heard as offspring got blasted into gory, misty messes. Richard and the man in tweed looked over to see Man-Hawk working to keep his own street cleared of monsters, and allowing more innocents to escape.

______________________________________________________


Three more offspring landed around Man-Hawk, heavy, wet breathing audible all around him as they all lashed out with their veins, and malformed, claw equipped arms. So far he was managing to dodge the attacks, but another distraction had cropped up, now bursting from... His coms? His phone?

The sound was blaring from phones, radios, TVs, and everything else across the city.

______________________________________________________


Across the city, supers and humans alike, both heroes, villains, and average folk, got the startling, hopeless tone of a National Emergency Alert coming through on whatever speakers were close by. Even the heroes on the beach, the NAHLA heroes, ACHI, and SINS were getting the same message.

"This message is being transmitted at the request of the United States Government. This is not a test. An existential threat against the United States of America has appeared on the coast of Atlas City, North Carolina. The United States Government has commenced preparations for a counter offensive against the threat. A forward assault base will be established in the residential area of Atlas City closest to beach front. All homes and buildings in this area will be demolished in 20 minutes to create space for this counter offensive. Please evacuate the area immediately and retreat to safe zones set up by emergency and government services, as well as hero organizations. Safe Zones will be located in the following locations."

The message continued by listing various locations across the city to be retreated to. 20 minutes. The city had 20 minutes to ensure all living civilians were out of the front line before the military did whatever it was they had planned.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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March 12th, 2045, 9:50am: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

Day 2


A fist slamming. Lighting crackling. Extensions of itself being destroyed by the ants that scurried around before it. And now a beast of the skies, a dragon, heading headlong towards the Beast of Decay in pure defiance.

The time to find these things tiresome had passed. If this creature could feel rage, now was certainly the time it would feel it.

As Maeve drew closer, speed picking up, two clusters of veins burst from the beach, shooting up into the air with incredible speed, right into the path of each of the dragon’s wings. The two collided before anything else could be done, and in the briefest of moments, the great flying beast was brought crashing into the beach, a cascade of sand bursting into the air on impact.

Following this, two more clusters of veins sprouted from the creatures back, reaching far into the air, and colliding down into the beach, digging deep into the sand. Anchoring the creature. The veins tensed up as it began a slow, but steady crawl through the shallow waters, inching its way along until it finally planted a monstrous looking appendage upon the dry sands of the beach for the first time.

It would no longer be confined to the waters.

And in consideration of that, of the defiant confinement these insects tried to command against the Beast of Decay, it responded in kind. Its body constricted, tightened and pulled in on itself, causing more chunks of its abominable offspring to pour forth from its body, a number equal to those that the heroes had already fought, and growing larger by the second.

______________________________________________________


An explosion went off at Maeve’s wing, a corrosive chemical substance latching onto and eating away at the veins trying to bind her down.

Maxwell Landon, or in this moment The Shape, stood at the boardwalk on the edge of the beach, near one of the roads that would lead back into the city. His mask was like a mirror, covering his entire head in a gleaming, reflective surface, and his suit was finely tailored and black, with a navy blue dress shirt and black tie to accompany. Around him, or close by, were several dozen men in black suits as well, all finely tailored to their shapes, and wearing masks of their own unique creations.

“Keep up the work with those chemicals gentlemen, can’t have our winged associate being held down by this thing.” He smiled softly as several of his men fired off more explosive and chemical filled rounds at the veins, slowly eating away at it as they attempted to free Maeve. Others had been hard at work trying to get the streets cleared, or moving other straggling survivors further away and towards the emergency response areas.

The Shape rose a hand at some of the offspring of the Beast that got close, and after a few moments of confusion, several turned and started attacking their brethren. Some, however, seemed to shake off whatever strangeness was affecting the others. Maxwell furrowed his brow. “Some of them are… Resisting? They might be more intelligent than I presumed. Or stronger.”


Behind him the streets grew to be noisier, as those who’d been fighting at the front lines finally received the support they’d been waiting far too long for. Heroes from NAHLA, ACHI, and a myriad of other hero groups (both private and government operated) came to join the fray. Even some villains had decided to set aside their usual troublesome antics to come and fight the mutual enemy of all Atlasians.

The cavalry had arrived, and looking overhead, jaws would drop in awe as they witnessed just who was being sent in to save the day. Leading the charge: Lone Star and Captain Valor, two of the most powerful supers in America. Both had superhuman strength, speed, the ability to fly, and were nearly invulnerable to all forms of damage. America’s supermen.

It was hard to say who was the stronger of the two, but there was a constant rivalry to prove it between them, though they were a deadly effective team together. They both connected to the boardwalk with a terrific crash, shattering the pavement underneath them and sending out a small shock wave around. Cheers could be heard from around as they gazed up at the hulking monster before them.

Valor turned to look to the crowds, and to those on the beach. “Attention everyone:” his voice boomed dramatically. “This area is about to become ground zero for the response to this monster. You all need to evacuate the beach immediately. Those of you who wish to continue fighting, join us here on the boardwalk. We’re to set up a frontline here until Uncle Sam is able to arrive with the means to kill this thing completely. Those of you who cannot fight, please head to the emergency centers, your help will be needed there.” As he finished speaking, other supers rushed up to the boardwalk to join in the defensive, others helped quickly clear the beach of survivors, and those still on the beach began to make there way around, either to the boardwalk, or out of the way so the fight could continue in earnest.

The Shape signaled his men to move up to the boardwalk to provide support, but also to keep working on freeing Maeve. The veins were nearly totally disintegrated, so she’d be free in a moment. Maxwell pulled out his phone to try to check for updates, only to notice that there was no service. No service, no data, no wifi connections, nothing. And a few others could be heard making the same remarks. The government had cut off all forms of communication in the city, likely outside of what the military and NAHLA had, which was undoubtedly being heavily monitored anyways. They clearly wanted to keep whatever this was under wraps now.

Having looked over a little ways away, The Shape finally noticed another familiar face had joined them all. Liz Baker.

She had caught a glimpse of him, out of the corner of her eye, just in time to watch him give a little wave. Seemed everyone was turning out for this.


______________________________________________________


Peter watched as the Beast fought back against the heroes assailing it. They made a valiant effort to be sure, and might even win in the end, but he frankly had little hope beyond that for them. This whole thing had been a disaster. A stress test that had already put a clean slice right down the middle of the foundation of American National Security. Maybe even global security. He let out a breath of cigarette smoke, watching it billow against the glass of the office building, a small smirk on his face.

“The warm sun is falling, the bleak wind is wailing, the bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying. And the Year on the earth is her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead, is lying.”

He stepped away from the glass, and exited from the offices.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….


Outside the last SINS van sat ready to go, Nina having already hopped in as they waited for Peter. He stepped outside, enjoying the fresh air that filled his lungs. Before he could join his subordinates in the van, he noticed someone slumped over in the alleyway. With an effortless, emotionless swish of his hand, he was holding a pistol, walking over to the body. They still seemed to be alive, but dressed as what seemed like a Witchfinder General. The gun hung casually in his hand as he looked the person over.

His face was empty of any signs of emotion or intent. He looked at the unconscious man in a bizarre, apathetic way, in a way that could truthfully only be compared to one looking at a fast food menu as they tried to make a decision. Finally in the end… He simply shrugged, and returned his pistol to its holster. “Maybe some other time.” He muttered absently as he began to walk up to the van. He opened the sliding door open to see Nina inside, as well as a great deal of equipment taking up room. Without saying anything he simply picked things up and moved them around till a seat was free for him again, and he closed the door.

“Friend of yours Nina?” He asked with a strange, almost sinister grin. There was something to the way he smiled sometimes that was hard to place…

______________________________________________________


An ear piercing booming had been ringing off for several minutes now, Richard having and the man in tweed having mounted their own defensive strategy in keeping this street offspring free. He’d had little trouble tearing the offspring apart with Hrunting, but it appeared more were coming as the Beast of Decay continued to be fought with. The damage it sustained only seemed to encourage it to produce more miniature monsters.

The man in tweed buckled at one point, falling over onto a car next to them, a thin trickle of blood working its way down the corner of his mouth. His leg was far worse though, and Richard could see it wouldn’t be long before bone was showing. “This isn’t sustainable. We need help to destroy this thing! All these people… All these strange powers… And yet nothing seems to be doing anything to it.”

Before Richard could respond, he heard the orders of Captain Valor being barked out, sending a small sense of relief through him. ”Cavalry’s here, let’s get to the front line.” Richard began to run back over to his car, signaling to the man in tweed to join him.

He simply shook his head and placed the butt of his shotgun on the ground, deciding to use it as a crutch as he hobbled towards the beach. “I’ll walk. It’s for your own good.” he called out.

Richard drove slowly next to the man in tweed to ensure he was safe, but once they found a good vantage point along the boardwalk, he backed up the SUV and dropped the tailgate. He gazed out at the battle on the beach as heroes quickly fell back to the boardwalk, their new line in the sand. Though he couldn’t be sure, he was feeling like he recognized several of the people out there. Was Sasha there too? Rather than simply hoping so, he quickly sent out a text to him, and to everyone else he had as a contact.

At the boardwalk. Guess this is where we hold the line.


______________________________________________________


As Sairyn continued his work on top of NAHLA HQ, he had not noticed a brief flash of light from behind him. By the time he took another look up and out at the ocean, towards the Beast of Decay, he noticed a light mist of steam passing by his head out of his peripheral vision. Then he felt a hand clasp on his shoulder.

Once he’d managed to spin around to face the intruder, he was met by the smug smirk of a man who knew something Sairyn didn’t. Yet. But it was also the grin of a man who was in charge, or rather was taking charge. “You must be Sairyn. Pleasure to finally meet you. Colonel Van Graft, United States Military. I’m sure you can guess what I’m doing here.” He placed something in Sairyn’s hands as he walked over to the railing, looking out to the ocean. A paper cup of coffee was now in Sairyn’s grip.

A woman followed behind the Colonel, dressed in military fatigues herself, but wearing a mask to hide her identity. A teleporter. “I’m here to oversee that the city is saved. Which is to say, we’re sitting back here safe and sound while our big toy evaporates whatever that thing is. Speaking of, you got any theories there Mr. Pendrake?”

______________________________________________________


The Beast of Decay's body stilled for a moment, it's form taught and strained. It remained this way for a few moments, perhaps a minute.

And then, an explosive, concussive blast of air erupted out of it, and a thick cloud of black and green mist launched into the air. Some of it floated gingerly through the air, slowly falling towards the ground. But some of the mist... Was homing in towards the boardwalk. It was flying towards the heroes.

The mist wasn't just a gas or fungi, now it was filled with millions of tiny, corrosive, flying parasites.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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After a good bit of sprinting and the occasional barrier bounce to vault over abandoned vehicles, Alex finally found one of the sites that had emergency services tending to civilians and doing their best to ferry them further into the city. Alex hadn’t gone at his top speed for “Luna’s” sake. He looked down at the heroine. She hadn’t given much protest during the trip other then a grunt here or there from being jostled too much. ” Gomen-nasai. Tried to make the trip as smooth as I could, here’s where we part ways though.”

It took a second to spot one of the paramedic teams that wasn’t completely swamped. His thundering steps came to a halt nearly two feet in front of a suddenly startled trio of medical professionals. Alex took no time getting their focus. ”Got a tapped out hero here and I need to head back towards the beach. Can you tend to her?”
Roughly three seconds passed before the three went into action. Two grabbing their supplies while the third wheeled over a stretcher. Alex set Luna down as carefully as he could and took a step back to let the medics do their thing. The oldest one of the three, a sort of gruff looking African American woman getting on in her years gave a nod to the blue armored hero. ”We’ll take it from here, get back out there and give that thing hell for the rest of us. Alex gave a two fingered salute before taking off back towards the boardwalk. Luna was in good hands now and he didn’t have precious cargo to worry about now. A headlight pillar jetted out at an angle form under him, and once again he was rocketing through the air.



Alex had arrived at the boardwalk a tad dizzy from his own speed just in time to hear the speech given from Captain Valor. He looked around and couldn’t help feel a bit intimidated for a moment at all the big name hero’s and villains present and-was that a god damn dragon??! So we have roughly two kaiju present and most of the entire cities super population wailing on this monster and it was still alive somehow? The thought made Alex clench his fists and shudder. What even was this thing? More importantly, what could he do to something that big if all of this wasn’t even slowing it down much?

That was about the time the beast of Decay decided to let loose another cloud of death into the air. More of that damn mist, and a lot of it was falling towards all of the supers fast. How were they even going to- wait a minute. Alex nearly slapped himself. He could do something about THIS if not the beast itself. ”We can’t let that gas touch anything!” he yelled out as loud as he could before throwing his arms out towards the billowing death cloud. Alex’s entire body was glowing now as wall after wall of hardlight manifested to meet the cloud, each only about 2 inches thick. The sheets quickly founded themselves around massive chucks of the cloud and began to isolate it in large bubbles. Alex kept his focus towards the cloud and continues to manifest field after field to contain as much of the cloud as possible until the words most deadly collection of bubbles in all sorts of sizes hung high above the beach and boardwalk. There was still so much left of the cloud left falling past everything he had just held back. He grit his teeth as images of people melting alive flashed through his head and horrible screaming rang in his ears. ”Damnit! I can’t hold it all back! He was making a good attempt to contain the cloud, but trapping that much of a gaseous substance was proving too difficult.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Sasha strode up the beach towards the other heroes, unconcerned by the strong winds as his feet left heavy dents in the sand. As he traversed the treacherous shore, his arms flashed, striking the encroaching offspring of the Decayer with a flurry of strikes that gave the heroes a brief moment of reprieve.

"Interesting morning, yes?" Sasha chuckled, his fists still glowing white hot. "Whatever you're planning, I suggest we do it quickly."

***

"SHIT," Albert snapped as the cloud burst above the sky. Shoving the plane outwards, Albert managed to avoid the oncoming burst. Forcing his plane higher, Albert looked down on the massive beast and clenched his fists. Things were getting more out of hand as things progressed. Albert's power was growing, but he still needed more time to gather enough to burn that much mass in a single shot.

As the beast rose from the ocean, Albert was struck with the sinking feeling he wasn't good enough to win this fight.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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As the fighting progressed two of the US's greatest heroes joined the fray immediately rallying the heroes into a defensive line on the boardwalk and the monstrosity changed tactics to a more active one, it seemed like a good moment to press on. Devon was sure those heroes would have been properly briefed about what was going to be dropped upon the foe and what distance was appropriate for a defensive line, not to mention there seemed to be chaos nearing the boardwalk and he didn't have vision of it rendering him unable to help.

A plan surfaced trying to employ his newfound power to jump between the rooftops around him, it hadn't seemed like he was restricted to moving over the ground in his prior tests and triggering the power was becoming a bit more stable. Besides this was the perfect time to put the theory to the test, he was in his suit after all so even if he dropped from the roof to the ground it should matter that much. Taking a moment to ready himself mentally he took a deep breath before running to the edge and jumping, gravity took over and the sickening feeling of falling to ones death ran through his body as the smoke trails behind him grew and more of his body dissipated into the smoke. It had only been a second until his mind registered he was no longer falling, rather he felt more like he was floating. As his mind adjusted to this rather odd sensation the smoke began to move, consciously moving the smoke through the air was a rather odd sensation, it felt like whatever direction he focused his mind on his 'body' would move forward in that direction without his senses turning along into the direction as if his body had turned 90 degrees to the right without his head ever turning the slightest in that direction.

As much as he would have liked to explore these sensations and this power more, there simply wasn't any time, there was a giant sentient blob of acidic gelatin attacking the city after all. He turned his attention towards the boardwalk and moved in the direction staying near the rooftops while in his wispy new form afraid it might be undone at any moment. Though there were a few shaky moments where he could feel his form temporarily dissipating with no warning whatsoever, Devon managed to land himself on one of the rooftops adjacent to the boardwalk. From here he could easily see the monster and all he was spewing at the heroes on the boardwalk, the aggressive mist, the tendrils and it's minions. Also... Where did that dragon come from... Well at the very least it would be on their side for the moment seeing it was currently entangled in combat with the main body of the monster.

Devon slung the rifle onto his back and drew his pistols from the pockets within the trenchcoat, sheer firepower wouldn't solve this problem and that mist would be far safer to dispatch with cryogenics rather than turning it into a massive fireball with incendiary attacks, fuel air mixtures should never be underestimated after all. With the barriers and the wind managing to contain most of the mist Devon placed his attention on the clouds that managed to slip past these defenses and the tendrils that attempted to assail and entrap the heroes. Volleys of gunfire rung from the rooftop as clouds of mist turned into tiny crystals dropping to the ground among a mist of frozen compounds(mostly water and carbondioxide) sublimated out of the sky. As the foul green black crystals hit the ground and other few shots were fired at them until they were securely held under a thin layer of supercooled and partially liquefied air.

While he had been busy with the little bits that had escaped it seemed like a couple others had managed to create another temporary prison for the main quantity of the mist by trapping it in a massive spherical glass container consisting of some rather thick panes. If someone were to make a small hole and quickly patch it up after he reckoned the panes would be strong enough to survive the fireball that igniting all that mist would result in, but that would be a risky scenario if it went wrong lethal glass shards would be thrown everywhere so it would probably be best to not even suggest it to any of the others.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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The wind’s power relented, seemingly diverted to a massive blast of pure force that ripped through the Beast, a show of raw power that drew its ire. The fire fizzled from Pyromancer’s palms, and he straightened himself to see the star-made giant… talking? Somehow, he had neither died nor gone deaf from the sound yet. This city gets stranger everyday, he dismissed with a shrug.

Even stranger still, was when the skies rumbled once more. Not with thunder. Rather with the cry of a falling star, which doused the monster’s side with a peculiarly-coloured liquid. The handiwork of a mad scientist, no doubt. But was it the mad scientist he knew?

More and more was thrown at the beast; a glassy prison to trap the mist, with the straggling cloud turned to crystal shards.

"Act fast. Fire lights the glass... "

The giant spoke again. That caught Pyromancer’s attention immediately. He bowed his head, the light reflected upon his goggles. He sprinted across the sands, his arms held to the sides as flames burst alight and danced upon his open palms.

”Then we return the mist to it's master... "

One of the supers beat him to the punch, hauling red-hot glass above red-and-black, demonic shoulders. But fire was only half of his domain. Pyromancer skidded to a halt before the demon, keeping a close distance. Just in case. His palms enclosed into fists, and his flames scattered into dancing embers.

“We’re returning this?” He asked, glancing the giant man’s way. His voice dropped into a hissing whisper. “Let’s pay back with interest.”

With a wave of the hand, Pyromancer scattered his embers all around the glass. They danced over the structure, like fireflies. Tiny, very combustible fireflies. To demonstrate, Pyromancer looked straight at the demonic hero and gathered a small amount of embers over his offhand. With the snap of a finger, ignited them into a brief, yet loud snap. Like a firecracker.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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"What strength of will!" Sasha called in admiration to Alex, his voice strong and confident. "Time to purge this beast from our waters."

Sasha's form shifted once again, his size increasing to a height of twelve feet as long black wings unfurled from his shoulders. His black armor emitted steam and heat as it seemed to take on the appearance of lava. Sasha's eyes seemed to turn to fire themselves, and embers swirled from his mouth as he breathed through long fangs. A crown of horns sprouted where his hair would normally be, and a tail, long and black, finished the transformation.

Rising into the air, Sasha's wings beat slow and hard, and his eyes fixed upon the sludge rising from the bay waters. "A prayer for you, unholy beast," Sasha spoke. "Я очищу твой яд в огне Рарога. Да обретешь ты покой." Sasha raised a hand and clenched his fist, as the waters of Atlas Bay ignited into flames, consuming the base of the beast and beginning to rise upwards.

Bonding together with the flame master's own powers, the heat from both Sasha and Zeke's powers could be felt by every super on the beach.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel Character Portrait: Niall Khadkani
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Albert was impressed despite himself. The amount of destruction the other heroes had managed to scrape together and pile onto the beast of decay was actually inspiring. For a moment, he thought they might actually have won.

But the beast kept going.

"Listen, HQ, I have to get down there,"Albert said, pulling his plane's nose up and heading higher into the atmosphere. "That thing's still coming."

"The artillery is incoming, Backlash, stay put," Ivetta's voice, still calm but strained as the beast lurched up the beach.

Albert opened his mouth to protest but in that moment, the artillery appeared. The flying super could only stare at the oversized cannon that had flattened a section of housing, thankfully one that had been emptied for some time. The supers on the beach retreated. The cannon fired.

At this point, however, Albert wasn't convinced. He continued to climb, his knuckles white as he clenched the joystick. He'd been caught with his pants down with this thing. It wasn't something anyone could have predicted, but Albert felt like a failure anyway. There was no doubt in his mind that he could have destroyed this beast himself, but he would have had to know at least a day in advance in his current state. One day in advance, and he would have been able to vaporize the beast completely, and without the damage the cannon caused.

Below him, the beast took control of the artillery, and fired a shot into the Atlas City Reactor. Flipping his plane around, Albert pointed the nose of it straight at the cannon and accelerated. He was thirty thousand feet in the sky, higher than he'd ever fallen before. His plane would cover that distance in around 30 seconds. It was time to redeem himself, even if only a little bit, for his failure today.

The cannon fired thrice more as Albert dove, then fell silent as the beast reloaded the massive weapon. Albert's plane hit the cannon at over 600 miles per hour, and exploded, but it was Albert's strike just before he crashed that truly tore the cannon to pieces. For just a moment, Albert's punch contained a tiny fraction of the sun's power, and as Albert collided with the military's creation, that power cascaded through the entire system.

The cannon shuddered, sparked, then exploded from the inside, parts of it ripping off while others turned to molten flame and melted. The beast of decay's tendrils were turned to ash instantly, the heat and fire following the tendrils into the earth and burning them underground.

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Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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#, as written by Nulix
"Bazongo!" A citizen exclaimed as the explosion rippled through the creature. The hulking mass of metal that was repurposed military artillery burned inside the gargantuan creature's core like an arrow through an injured doe, but the beast itself remained unharmed and roared louder. The veins that coursed through the waterfront district tightened, smashing a parking garage beside the citizen to pieces. "HELP!" The citizen screamed as concrete blocks began to plummet toward them...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel
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"Ugh," muttered Yue as the sounds of explosions and massive cannons rousted her awake. Her eyes fluttered open to a text from Sairyn on her HUD. Just a four-digit code. A wave of pins washed over her skin as she moved, causing her lip to twitch involuntarily as she pushed herself into a sitting position. She used the NAHLA network feed to quickly get caught up on the events of the past twenty minutes or so, and that feeling of unease stirred in her gut when she saw how the creature adapted.

"Whoa whoa whoa! You should NOT be moving!" Ichiro fussed, rushing to her side when he noticed her getting up and trying to force her back down onto the stretcher. Yue pushed him aside and got to her feet, pulling the IV from her arm as the suit unfurled back over her skin. She flexed her hands and shifted her weight from side to side experimentally.

"I have work to do," she replied grimly without meeting his eyes. Ichiro tried to stall her but she was gone in a flash of pink lightning, the back-blast nearly knocking him from his feet.

Yue's body screamed in protest at being put under stress again as she streaked through downtown away from the beach. She ignored it and made her way back to the NAHLA HQ building, not bothering with subtlety as she streaked straight past someone riding a bulky motorcycle and through the front door. Archer scarcely had time to blink before she was past him and in the stairwell, skidding to a halt inside the observation room of the training. The Luna Lightning suit collapsed back into its tiny disc, and she shoved it hastily into a pocket in case she needed it later and punched in the code she'd received into a large safe.

It chirped happily and swung the door open to reveal the carbon scored tungsten plates of her Silver Fang armor. Yue was pulling the armored gauntlets over her hands and flexing her fingers against the familiar weight when she felt the building shudder as the upper floor sloughed off and collapsed onto the concrete outside. Her heart dropped into her stomach as she scrambled to a terminal to check the NAHLA network for the report. Thankfully the building was largely evacuated and there didn't appear to be anyone on the floor that was struck.

She inhaled, clenching a fist.

The beast had directly assaulted her home.

Yue's eyes burned like crimson embers as she pulled the iconic knight motif helmet over her head, and the suit hummed quietly to life. It was absolutely sluggish compared to how she could move in the Luna Lightning suit, but she streaked out of the NAHLA building via one of the underground exits chased by bolts of crimson. As she approached the boardwalk, a pair of careful leaps took her to the rooftops where she landed heavily on a building adjacent to Devon. She was only there a moment: a tangible pause in her momentum like a breath while her body coiled up. There was an explosive release as she launched from the roof in a tall arc. The force rippled through the building and shook the dust out of the stucco, rattling all the windows following the dull *crump* of her breaking the sound barrier.

Something struck the cannon, causing it to explode brilliantly as she reached the apex of her arc, though she didn’t see what. The beast had been mid-stride and was knocked noticeably off balance as she hurtled down, the crimson trail of light which had been chasing her suddenly exploding brilliantly from her body as though she’d erupted into hellfire. A mountain of smoldering veins erupted from the ground to try and intercept her, followed by the remaining minions of decay… and then she impacted.

Everything on the boardwalk bounced, like the ground suddenly dropped several inches out from under everyone. A massive wave of force liquefied the veins and creatures at the point of impact and heaved the earth upwards as it ripped through the Army staging zone in a cone. The wet slap it made as it impacted the beast reverberated through the boardwalk like thunder, and its flesh writhed like a disturbed Jell-O mold. The beast’s advance was halted, and it teetered unsteadily, retreating back one single step to keep itself upright.

Silver fang rose from the clearing dust, the edges of the tungsten armor plating glowing orange from heat and waves of crimson energy cascading off of her like an uncontrolled flame. The air practically vibrated with pressure, and several soldiers squinted like she was too bright to look at. One collapsed to the ground foaming at the mouth and was hauled away by his squad mates. She didn’t hesitate, using the small window of opportunity she’d opened to leap into the chaos and start hauling soldiers from the staging area four at a time, one casually under each arm like luggage and one slung over each shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel
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Once all the smoke cleared and the military's wonder weapon was spent the monster still stood, largely destroyed but given how it had captured the weapon for itself it was showing no signs of going down. Well done, you've made it more dangerous That however didn't mean he was going to stop, Devon sure as hell wasn't going to let that thing roam the streets just because those military baboons fucked up. That being said his options of helping were rather limited, he doubted that he could destroy that cannon and intercepting those shots with projectiles of his own wasn't going to happen they were just too fast.

However what he could do was crystal clear, protect the people on the ground from those tentacles and strike back hard against them. Cryogenics appeared to have been quite successful against the creature so far and it would be a much quicker reaction rather than having to wait for the flames to slowly eat away at the tentacles. With that choice out of the way wild sprays of shot filled the air finding their ways to the whipping tentacles and freezing them into gelatin icicles. As he was doing so though another hero landed on a building nearby, just long enough for him to catch a glimpse of the hero. Armor glowing orange radiating heat like a crucible and they seemed to be followed by some some crimson light.

Aggravation creeping it's way through his skin with each shot from the beasts cannon, he absolutely hated the fact that he couldn't do anything against that... If only he himself was fast enough to react against those shots or he had enough firepower to destroy the cannon outright. When an explosion rocked the monster though he looked on with an almost malignant glee at the sight of that cannon destroyed beyond repair. Someone had done something quite nice, and alleviated that problem for them all. Hopefully though it wasn't going to cost them their life. Devon looked for whomever could have been the one to cause the explosion, identifying one person dangerously near the creature tentacles already inbound to them. Without a second thought his aim trained on the tentacles trailing behind the hero and unleashed enough shots to freeze them to the core and then some.

In the meantime he had noticed that the hero who had made their late entry to the battlefield was picking up soldiers and getting them out of their staging area. While at first glance it didn't have that much grace to it, the fact that she could run around with four soldiers like that showed quite a lot of technical experience... Perhaps when this all was over she could teach him her techniques, while Devon knew he would never be able to carry the weight of four fully packed soldiers it might be useful anyways... As soon as he noticed his attention on the battlefield had lapsed he turned his full attention back to firing at the tentacles and any minions that dared to show their faces, making a mental note to keep the path clear for the manhandler so she could help as many as possible without having to tangle with the slime. Before he could think about bettering his rescue techniques they would first have to make sure there is still a city left by the end of this.

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel
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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel
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He had been dragged back away from the boardwalk, Jericho doing their best to move Alex's quarter ton body as more of the supers attempted to fall back. Alex's own armor flickered again but the defenses he had erected held. There still needed to be cover for everyone and his fields showed no sign of deteriorating from being in contact with the beasts offspring or death mist. While the protection was helpful, it didn't do much to make Alex feel like he was helping deal with the threat. The fact that the beast was somehow still alive was infuriating. If all of that damage barely slowed the thing down then what would? The beast took enough power to level a mountain and refused to die. Could he contain something like that now that it was diminished? Wouldn't be a good idea to find out if it was a capable brute by breaking through barriers.

Alex snapped into action when the veins began erupting around the boardwalk. the walls at the edge of the boardwalk and ceiling all dissipated at once. With a frustrated grunt followed by a hiss of pain caused by another headache spike, Alex quickly formed new fortifications. Practically making bunkers at this point that were protected even from bellow. the image of Jericho being scared in enclosed spaces kept Alex from boxing all the supers in on reflex, opting to instead leave openings heading away from the beach if others chose to flee. Many continued to try attacking the beast after regaining their barrings, their attacks phasing through the barriers as they had before, others that could went to try and deal with the veins. He had to stay focused and watch, be ready to change his defenses at a moments notice.

Moments later the artillery finally dropped. Alex really wished he had his helmet as he turned away on reflex as the shells went off. Taking a grenade to the face in the past had been worse then the sound that reached his ears from the bombardment, heck there wasn't even any ringing. But that wasn't enough it seems cause when he turned to look back towards the beast there was now the biggest cannon Alex had ever seen with its guns all pointed at the nasty thing.

Everyone seemed to cover their ears on instinct just before it had the chance to fire, Jericho had the luxury oh just shifting to have no ears. Lucky.

His eyes snapped open and blinked rapidly. huh, when had he shut them? Alex could barely hear anything over the ringing in his ears right now. He didn't know when he had dropped to his knees either. A glance around showed that most of the other hero's and villain's present were in their won various stages of being disoriented. God that thing was way too loud. Had that done it? Was the beast dead?

No. Of course not. It just decided to take the cannon that had been used to blast away two thirds of its visible mass and fuse it to the top of what remand of its body. The thing had a gun now, because of course it did! Alex balled his fists and shook a little from the anger he was feeling now. If there was a sense of hopelessness hanging in the air, he wasn't feeling it. all of these supers and nearly given everything they had, some even their lives, and it wasn't enough. The anger finally got to him and he couldn't help but bellow out with all the hate and venom he had. "WHAT THE HELL IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO KILL THIS GOD DAMN PILE OF ROT AND MOLD!?!" Even now, His barriers remand up as some of the lesser known supers began to loose hope against this seemingly worsening impossible situation. Others though continued to fight.

Alex glared up at the beast, wishing nothing more but to destroy the abomination himself at this point. The question was how?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Joseph Wright Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel Character Portrait: Niall Khadkani Character Portrait: Ezekiel Walker
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#, as written by Nulix
In the overcast sky above the beast of decay there was a single opening from which the sun beyond shined through. One perfect gap in the sea of clouds.

And then: sonic boom. The clouds sucked together around a red object as it flew through the opening, rocketing toward the injured creature. Atop the roof of a ruined building Shroombala’s eyes widened beneath her toadstool cap. She knew that super. It was the same super who’d blown Boriban’s guts over the Troja Palace in ‘41. It was the same super who’d saved the passengers of SpiceJet 99 in ‘42. And it was the same super who had gotten drunk at Flambeau’s retirement party, seemingly lost all semblance of volume control, and declared that they were such hot shit they could steal Helga Hammer’s date if they’d so desired.

The Tibetan turd’s mouth hung agape. “It’s-!“

***

Ten minutes earlier

Cannon placed a palm on the the woman’s shoulder and with one strong arm shoved her to ground. The lady landed rough on the asphalt. Straight brown hair falling out a bun, tanned white-skin, a flowing shirt and lululemon leggings. New balance adorned her miniscule feet. And on her face there was a look of fear, a fear so real. A fear Cannon was sure the woman had never before felt. They averted their eyes. "Car's full."

And then they climbed in, onto the black leather upholstery of the Yamaha. They pulled the door shut behind them. Above the enby’s head a soft light came on and from the surround speakers played a Latin swing beat backed by gentle strings. Les Baxter & his orchestra. Tropicando. Easy listening exotica.

Cannonade pulled their leather jacket off their arms and threw it onto the opposite seats. Out the jacket a box of catnip cigarettes and white lighter fell. Cannonade stopped and reached down. They picked a fag off the car floor, placed it in their mouth, and began furiously lighting.

Outside the tinted windows of Cannonade’s rental the woman had rose and began pounding, her fist colliding with the glass to no avail. Cannon could make out a muted fuck you through the window as she abandoned her assault and sprinted off, putting her new balance’s to work. Cannon held the cigarette between tight lips and inhaled before tugging their shirt up. Their torso was lean, a gentle happy trail gracing blackened bruised abs. Their breasts fell free: puny, pointed, and barbell pierced. They pulled the shirt over their head and the lit cigarette in their mouth. The fabric got caught on the sharp edges of their wide shoulders but with a little effort it yanked off and was thrown to the floor.

A long, uninterrupted honk shook the car. The screams were escalating, the sounds of panic now mixed with something new and, to Cannon's ears, monstrous. With their cigarette securely between a thumb and a pointer finger Cannon crawled forward to peer out the window. Down the street a trio of creatures stood – pulsating bodies of hardened clay lined with tree-root veins. They stood at different heights and each seemed to have an array of appendages: some mammalian, some insect-like, and some like tentacles from the sea. It was as if each had a random assortment of features grafted into their forms- just like the creature at the beach. One let out a horrible roar and smashed a parked car into the earth as if it was a piñata. Then, like thunder in the sky, the voice of Adolf Hitler came from the heavens. Cannonade looked up, out the window, wide eyed as the murderer’s impassioned speech echoed, and they sincerely asked themselves: was this hell?

With stallion speed two of the monstrosities passed the car’s windows, hunting for prey. The third, a grotesque creature of warts, had a man cornered across the street. On the car seat next to Cannon, left with a dangerous level of casualness, was one half of their pair of gravity guns. It was a meaty piece of machinery, with a rectangular barrel almost as thick as the rest of the weapon. Cannonade grabbed the pistol and took aim out the window with their left hand. Their right hand was extended, ready to control the projectiles when launched. With a sharp inhale they fired. Their windows were penetrated thrice. The bullets flew forward, their altitude dropping to pass beneath a running civilian’s legs, then rising up above the head of another, and then levelling evenly to penetrate the creature. They struck: two in it’s large, central sack and one in the limb it threatened to bring down upon the man it had cornered. With an explosion of slime the beast began to collapse in on itself.

The Latin swing continued as Cannon unzipped and kicked off their boots. They wore cat print socks beneath. The middle toe on their left foot had stung suspiciously like a fracture since the fight with Maeve. They stretched out across the duo of seats they occupied and did a rough pigeon pose. Their hands moved down their waist and unzipped the frayed jean skirt. The sounds of the outside world came through the window's bullet holes like smoke through a filter. The world was briefly deafened by another of the far off creature’s roars, but was then replaced by the winds and sounds of panic they’d grown familiar with.

Down to a high-wasted black thong Cannonade knelt on the floor of their rental car and reached into a hefty leather tote bag that had been stored there. And in their grasp pulled out was the familiar red weave of their super suit. The material was thick but stretchy, lined with armour and technology. They dipped their socked feet into the legs of the bodysuit and pulled the leathery material up their bruised body as best they could. It slid on like a glove, only snagging on their prominent tush- but after a few tight pulls Cannon overcame. They reached for a button at the neck and with a tap the suit began to pressurize. The wrinkles in the material flattened and became skin tight to the shape of Cannonade’s body. After a moment of adjustment they slid a gloved hand down their stomach to the crotch and pulled to loosen the vacuum sealed fabric. They tightened the straps of the codpiece and other bits of armour that hung from the bodysuit and then pulled up the uniform’s combat boots. They gave them both a double knot.

Out the tote came the final piece of the outfit. The helmet. The flame on Cannon’s fag had reached the filter. After one last inhale they spit it out onto the floor of the car and flattened it beneath their boot. They ducked into the opening of the helm and on the glass before their eyes the ARUI came to life. Cannonade reached up to touch the ceiling of the vehicle. The metal sparked as the roof ripped off the vehicle and rose into the sky. Cannonade too rose beneath it, ascending out of the car and over the street. As they floated Cannonade grabbed hold and climbed atop the rising roof-plate. On their magic carpet of steel they floated higher and higher, away from the chaos on the street below, until they could see over the rooftops, to the beach on the horizon and the creature that terrorized it. Explosions and lights coloured the world around the creature. The military had come in and were readying artillery. Other supers too tried to save the city from the eldritch horror that had arisen at its coast. From the looks of things there was an assemblage of them, all putting up a good fight. But there was one flaw with their strategy, one key issue that would prevent them from achieving victory: they weren’t Cannonade.

The sphere of gravity surrounding Cannonade and the car roof they rode on dissipated, and the metal began to freefall. Cannonade carefully stood on the falling metal and leapt off at an angle, in the direction of the beach before rising into the clouds. Like a lost kite the roof plummeted toward the streets below.

***

It was a dark and stormy night. Really, it was. There was a tornado on the horizon and the rain smashed against the glass walls of the house like a hot tub jet on full blast. A bleached blonde Cannonade marched forward, sporting a much different outfit and with a motorcycle helmet beneath their arm.

Behind them another figure stood- undercut blue hair. Crossed arms littered with tattoos. A somber expression on a freckled, English face with blue eyes that could pierce your soul. “You don’t have to go,” they said at last.

Cannonade stopped and twisted their head to eye them. “Right now I’m the only one who can.”

Their scene-partner was wide-eyed. Desperate. “I’m asking you to stay.”

“You’re asking me to not be me,” Cannon replied. “I don’t have a choice- you know I don’t have a choice! I didn’t choose to be Cannonade.”

The blue-haired figure walked forward. Their bare-footed steps on the tile coincided with lighting strikes beyond. “Darling, you’re so much more than Cannonade. No matter what they see in the sky... I know what you are." A callous hand reached up to touch Cannonade’s cheek. Their finger traced a mark- long and jagged like a claw scratch beneath their eye, still red but healing. “...You’re flesh and you’re bone.”

“...You think you know what I am?” Cannon’s voice was cold and their accent came through clear as day. They recoiled from the touch and continued to march toward the glass, toward the tornado on the horizon. They grabbed hold of a handle and pulled the sliding door open. The wind hit them like a semi-truck. The rain felt like pebbles against their skin. And the thunder bellowed again as they stared down the apocalyptic scene. “You have no idea.”

And with that Cannonade ducked into their helmet. Ready to be the superman.

***

Cannonade rocketed down from the sky. They’d surrounded themselves in a bubble of bearable gravity within another bubble of gravity increased to deadly degrees. Fire consumed all as the earth pulled them down to it’s surface, like a mother pulling back a long lost son. Their bones stretched, their muscles were wrung. They could feel the pressure coming in. Inside the helmet their skull rocked from side to side violently. The world was a blur and tears streamed down their face. They weren’t religious but at times like this even Cannonade prayed, however silently. They released their fists, letting their hands fly free. And as blinding fires consumed their view they closed their eyes.

“-Cannon!” Shroombala finished as the red cannonball made contact with the beast of decay. And, to great shock to the onlookers, it ripped through the creature like a bullet. It was almost too fast to tell what had happened, but something had happened. It was as if a pea-sized black hole had sliced through the core of a planet in the blink of an eye, and the planet had collapsed around it.

There was a line where the being of extreme gravity had passed through. The insides that once occupied the gargantuan creature were cleanly ripped out along the vertical path Cannonade had flown. The creature's compressed guts chased after Cannonade’s body like tracking missiles chasing a jet, straight down into the sea. With it’s centre gutted the remaining two sides of the beast of decay began to crumble. The colossal remnants of it’s carcass fell and collided with beach before toppling over into the waters. The veins that had attached through the earth of the metropolis ripped out, collapsing the buildings they had ensnared. A tsunami like wave rose from the impact with the water. The water swelled and grew, gathering high enough over the heroes to block out their sun. And it lingered, threatening to come down over Atlas City and wash what remained of it away.

Seconds after entering the sea Cannonade smashed into the bed of the bay- not that they felt it. They would have blacked out far before the seabed, most like upon impact with the water thirty feet above. Their body began to float, limp but stationary, with their helmet acting as an anchor and keeping them stuck to the sea floor. Above them sank the remnants of the beast of decay, consuming the water in blackness. But the mould never reached them. The dark instead seemed to swirl and move, like a school of fish- shattered but still living...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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The entire world became unnervingly still for Vic as Lone Star shot into the Beast's eye. Those few seconds lasted much longer for her than they should have. Her air cannon held back its punches. She already knew he was gone. Hope had sunken into those disturbing, unnatural black holes with him. She put down her hands and gave up.

Then he was spat out again.

Vic dropped, faster than what was wise, following him down. She smacked down on the road with Lone Star and a little air cushion to save her knees, without much care for the people stumbling back around her. From there she watched, transfixed, the agonizing process of Lone Star dissolving five feet away from her. She reached as the pools of blood were transformed into black smoke, watching the last of it coil around her hand before dispersing into thin air. One of America's most prolific heroes was no more... literally, nothing. Vic made a decision.

If this was really the apocalypse, and shit, it sure felt like it was, she was better off spending it with good music and a beer.

"Yeah... good luck," she said, more to herself, but loud enough for the heroes gathered for Lone Star's grisly demise, then shot back up into the sky.

Sonic boom.

Vic tossed around in the air to watch that familiar red streak shooting from the clouds above, glinting in a ray of sunlight like some bloody heaven sent angel - and completely decimate the beast. She saw Cannonade plummet into the ocean, and not rise again. She watched the tidal wave building in their wake.

"Shit," was all that came to Vic's mind as her own body was rocketed through the extremes of joy and dread in a matter of seconds. She flustered around in the sky for a second. It was time to settle down complacently and accept that death happens! Like with Wilma, Manhawk - Vic's curses were cut off with a POOF.

She reappeared on the beach in front of where she'd seen Cannon fall, hovering over the torn up bodies and dying flames and standing right under the shadow of a tidal wave. She shot out her hands and summoned everything in her until she felt a heavy pressure, like her bones wanted to fold, and let out a scream. It was very different from the uncontrolled, lightning-summoning, "FEEL MY PAIN" shout. It felt different, too. A mass of concentrated air rushed past her, and struck through the wave like a spear.

Gallons of water parted. Water sprayed up as its trajectory was changed. Vic grit her teeth and separated her hands like she was trying to claw through concrete, widening the path she had parted. Her mouth tasted like iron. She swore her teeth were on the brink of shattering. Her string of internal curses continued.

There, out in the seabed. A limp red figure. Probably already dead. Vic started to walk through her path, keeping her hands up, knowing full well the winds were about to drop at any second. "Wait, fuck no -" she blurted as Cannonade's body started to roll away from the torrent of pressure pushing them. She concentrated even harder to spare them from blowing away. Vic fell to her knees in exhaustion as she reached the body. She repeatedly chastised herself as she attempted to lift Cannonade with her scrawny, shaking arms. Suddenly, her head went light. The rush of water grew louder than the roar of air and Vic felt everything closing in. She flopped over Cannonade's body in exhaustion and covered her ears.

The water rushed back in to fill the gap. Two waves crashed into each over, sending up mountainous spray over where the two were last seen.

Under the water, Vic's hands desperately tugged at Cannonade's helmet. She squinted through the salt water, black spots infiltrating her vision, and felt for the trigger under the helm. Pop. Vic yanked the heavy helmet off, looped her arms under Cannon's armpits, and writhed under the water as she attempted to pull them up with her. It was far too late, she was going. Vic's movements grew sluggish and her eyes drooped. Bubbles drifted up from her mouth and she watched them leave, flying up to the surface towards freedom. She looked at her hands. Their particles were dispersing. With the last of her consciousness, Vic's body melted away.

And an air bubble formed around Cannonade's head, and remained there.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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"Dammit, wake up, Albert. The nuclear reactor's in trouble, we need you there now, do you hear me? Albert!" Ivetta's voice crackled through Albert's comm, still functioning somehow despite the infernal explosion from the cannon, followed by the impact of Cannonade's gravity drop, and concluded with the drowning from the tidal wave left behind.

"Fuck," Albert spat, hacking up more seawater onto the wet sand where he'd landed. With a groan, he dragged himself to his feet. "Quit your howling, woman, it's not a full moon. I'm on my way."

"You are alive," Ivetta said, something like relief suspiciously coming through the line. "We'll talk about your stunt later. The reactor was damaged by one of the beast's cannon shots, I'm getting reports of a possible meltdown over there. If the reactor explodes..."

"I get it, I'll see what I can do," Albert said, stripping out of his leather jacket and kicking off his sodden boots. "The beast is dead, best get relief efforts on the way. ACHI can't afford to fall behind if we're going to have people trusting in us again. I'll let you know once I'm at the reactor."

Shutting off his comm for the moment, Albert began running, somewhat shakily at first, in the direction of the power plant. He hadn't really tested his ability to absorb nuclear energy before this... but if the reactor was going to go critical, it would be even more devastating than the damage the beast had already caused. There wasn't time to think, he had work to do.

***

"Your secret's safe with me," Sasha smiled. "I don't think we should look at today as a failure. The beast is dead, the city is saved. And now we know, there are things out there even this strong. Possibly even stronger."

Sasha paused as Akiko called out to Henry. "A friend of yours, Henry?" Sasha's breath hitched slightly as he felt fate swirl once more, and his eyes narrowed. The girl... she had been at the diner as well, on her way home with bags of cat food. He smiled to himself. There truly was no coincidence.

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Sheri sped through the empty city, the top few floors of the NAHLA building crumbling behind her. Two collapsing buildings in less than an hour had to be some sort of record, she was fairly certain. Sheri ignored the sound of further explosions from the beach; she wasn’t sure where Sairyn had gone, but was reasonably certain their verbal contract had expired when he was whisked away by the military, and she didn’t know who else to bring up her bill with.

Sheri weaved between abandoned cars and partially crumbling storefronts as she considered her options for where to go next. How far could she go on a tank of gas… Atlanta, maybe? There was nothing to do in Atlanta. She almost veered into the side of a building when she was jolted out of her contemplations by a decidedly familiar voice shouting her name as she zipped past.

”You have an excellent sense of timing,” declared Ivetta as she approached where Sheri had come to a screeching halt. Sheri didn’t think that was an entirely factual statement.

”What the f-”

”We can argue payment later,” the werewolf interrupted, tossing her a small commlink. ”I need you to pick up one of my people and take them to the power plant.”

”Wh-”

”No time to explain, just go now.” Ivetta turned away from Sheri and walked back over to where several other heroes were coordinating rescue efforts. ”Backlash, I’m sending someone to pick you up. Turn on your tracker beacon so she can find you.”

”Hey, I didn’t agree to-”

”Why are you still here?” Ivetta cut off, leveling an icy gaze at Sheri over her shoulder. Sheri gaped at her for a moment, trying ineffectually to make her mouth form words. Ultimately she just mussed up her hair, groaning loudly in ineffectual frustration, then turned her motorbike around and sped off.

Sheri set the commlink on her ear, the twisting streets of Atlas City being overlaid immediately with an AR display of the road layout. Certain areas near her were marked out in red, which Sheri took to mean they’d been cut off. After a moment it picked up a tracker signal near the north end of the beach, and Sheri reoriented toward it.

A flight of VTOLs appeared over head, closing in on the beach from a separate direction. A military clean up crew? No, they were too bloated and prone to incompetence to get here so quickly. Her next thought was Vanguard, but… no, if Vanguard were staging this as an experiment they’d have chosen somewhere closer to their facilities so they could make themselves out as the heroes. Whoever this was, though, they left a bad taste in Sheri’s mouth.

Sheri turned her attention back to the task at hand as she approached the source of the signal: a young man dressed as a World War pilot, staggering away from the beach. She looped around him, then pulled up beside, slapping him lightly on the shoulder as she slowed to match his pace, the Ragnarok’s engine rumbling as it crawled along.

”You Backlash?” she asked, fully aware of the answer. ”I’m apparently your taxi. We should hurry before-” She was cut off by the sound of explosions and gunfire. ”Something like that happens. Come on, apparently this is important. Priorities, or whatever.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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"Unfortunately, no," Sasha said, wincing a bit as he turned to Liz Baker, the Alchemist. "It's not something I think has ever been seen before. But I fear we will see its like again." Sasha smiled despite the pain. "It's a honor to meet you officially, Alchemist. I heard a lot about you in Russia, and your quick work turning the gas into glass was amazing. I heard you'd retired, but it seems you've lost none of your potency."

***

"Uh, okay," Albert said, looking back at the explosions with a puzzled look on his face. "Take me to the reactor, I guess. But call me Albert, not... Backlash. That's a name for the comm."

Albert climbed onto the back of Sheri's motorcycle with a sigh. "Thanks for the lift. And uh, don't worry, I'm sure Ivetta will find a use for you besides sending you as chauffeur some day. Every super's important, even the powers that are as useless as yours probably is."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Maeve made one more trip with five of the Shape’s goons - 3 hanging from her back and one more under each arm. She dropped them next to their employer, one bleeding from the mouth where she’d failed to heed the instruction to clench her teeth, then leapt back toward the beach to gather the last of the Shapeless gang’s stragglers.

”One, two, three…” She counted the number of suits in black henchman masks. ”Is that all of ye’s?”

One of them shook his head. ”Wallflower isn’t here,” he said, voice slightly muffled through the vantablack mask. ”Said she wanted to get a sample for Lab Rat.”

Maeve cursed. Of course one of them was dumber than the average. She pointed in the direction she’d left the Shape. ”Two blocks that way. Go.” She didn’t bother to make sure they obeyed, instead turning her attention toward the Beast’s corpse. Much of the sludge had been frozen by some super or other, making it relatively safe to walk on, but the way it creaked under her as she approached where the creature’s remains were strewn across the beach like a cat’s plaything did not inspire confidence.

Maeve started to call out for the lackey the other gang member had called Wallflower, but caught herself halfway through a syllable. Even at the best of times, she could barely manage normal speaking volume without her throat hurting. She picked her way through the detritus quickly, careful not to touch any of the being’s viscera if she could help it. ”Where are ye, ye wee cunt…”

The distant hum of helicopter blades caught her attention, and Maeve turned to catch the distant silhouettes of several black VTOL helicopters flying toward the city. That was a… potential complication. She decided being careful was for a time when unidentified aerial units were not inbound toward her location, potentially carrying some form of heavy ordinance given the events of the past hour. She began racing through the corpse, looking under and around bits of viscera as the sound of VTOL engines grew louder and louder. ”We don’t have time for this ye feckin-”

There! Maeve nearly walked right over where she was crouched in the mud, cutting away at a vibrant piece of the Beast’s internals. ”Fool of a woman,” Maeve chastised, lifting Wallflower to her feet by the top of her head. The Shapeless gang member struggled beneath her grip, dropping the glass jar she was holding as her hands went to Maeve’s wrist. ”Did this seem passing wise, ye wee omadhan?”

”Lab Rat said- it’s import- let go! Maeve released her grip on the smaller woman, and Wallflower tumbled back into the dessicated sand. She scrambled to pick up the jar before stuffing the viscera sample inside it and sealing the lid. Maeve could hear the helicopters directly over them now, and the sound of lines being lowered for the deployment of personnel.

”Hell!’ She tossed Wallflower ungraciously over her shoulder and broke into a dead sprint out of the Beast’s corpse, skidding to a halt halfway down the beach before the first pair of boots hit the ground. She dropped Wallflower from her shoulder, who retched onto the sand from the force of her swift relocation, the sample jar rolling some feet away. Maeve looked back toward the corpse to make sure they hadn’t been spotted. If they had, they were being ignored. That’s at least one good thing.

”You’re lucky,” she hissed at the Shape’s underling, striding past her to grab the jar… and stopping as she leaned over. ”well I’ll be damned,” she muttered as her eyes landed on a familiar form. She tossed the jar low-hand behind her, where it landed lightly beside Wallflower’s hunched over figure.

Maeve placed a finger to the red haired woman’s scrawny neck, careful not to leave a bruise. She was still alive, at least, but didn’t seem to be breathing. Maeve hmm-ed at that. ”Oi, fool girl. Can ye do CPR?” she called over her shoulder.

”What?” Wallflower croaked, spittle hanging from her lip.

”CPR,” Maeve repeated, signing the letters with her hand for ease of clarity.

Wallflower blinked slowly as comprehension dawned. ”Oh,” She shuffled around to face them, getting shakily to her feet. ”Yeah, hold- hold on.”

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

Sheri let that one slide, already feeling a headache forming at her temples. ”Y’know, I’m starting to think Ivetta can find several uses for me,” she replied, gunning the accelerator and racing off toward the Atlas City power plant. ”Without asking, even. I’m Sheri, by the way. Uh. I think I put ‘Houndmaster’ on my file for the Kingsley contract? Nevermind.” Yeah, somehow she didn’t get the impression this dude would’ve followed a job like that.

She nearly swerved off the road when a message notification popped up at the corner of her vision. Fuuuuck, she’d never get used to that. ”Ha. Pothole,” she said in a monotone to Albert. Okay, so she knew where to send her invoice n-

What the fuck did he mean “permanent contract”!?