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Maxwell Landon (The Shape)

"If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table."

0 · 580 views · located in Atlas City

a character in “Hadean”, as played by Lord Saethos

Description

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Theme 1 – Hate or Glory
Theme 2 – Maze (AKA: Omega)
Theme 3 – Viol
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Full Name: Maxwell Landon
Alias: The Shape
Age: 37 (Born 2008)
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: Caucasian, of English descent.

Hair: Maxwell's hair is naturally "platinum blonde", or silver.

Eye color: Amber

Body: Slim but athletic.

Height: 5'11"

Weight: 156lbs

Hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina

Affiliation(s): The Union (Defunct), Landon Technical Enterprises (Defunct), others (?)

Personality:
Charming, polite, usually a bit courteous, and can hold a good conversation. People feel like this man is a good listener, who really brings them into the conversation, and they sometimes find they can’t help but feel compelled to open up. Likewise, they can’t help but feel compelled to listen to him, to linger on every word he has spoken.

That’s one side you might see.
Cold. At times it can be impossible to catch Maxwell showing emotion, but when he does, it's difficult to be sure if it's even real. He has neither real love nor hate for people on the whole, they're just tools or obstacles to achieving goals. On one hand, he has a cool collectedness, seemingly completely confident in what he does. On the other hand, he is completely detached from other “beings”, caring little to nothing for them on a personal level.

His morals are as ambiguous as his feelings. He's capable of great cruelty but doesn't seem to seek it out with any particular preference, nor does he seem interested in inflicting it on any particular kinds of people.

As for his feelings on parahumans and normal humans, his feelings are equally neutral. He shows little to no preference (or hatred) for either. He will help or hinder (or even kill) both as he sees fit.

To what end? Only he can really say.

Likes:
- Learning. Any new information or ideas that Maxwell can pick up, he likely will.
- Understanding people. He likes to know how they think, how they feel, what keeps them “ticking”.
- Coffee. Black, with a little sugar. Generally enjoys Americano’s, but Maxwell has varied tastes as well.
- Fine wines and liquors.
- A mixture of musical genres, from classical, to forms of industrial techno.
- The News. Maxwell tries to keep himself as informed as possible on current events, including business trends.
- Success. Winning. Earning something for his hard work.


Dislikes:
- Beer and other “cheap booze”. He hated seeing it growing up, at BBQ’s, or other events. He always felt those drinks represented “mediocrity”. “Lower class”, “Middle class”, “alcoholics”, or people “just having fun”.
- Useless people. People who cannot personally contribute to what he wants.
- Begging. It gets obnoxious when people won’t fight for themselves, either to survive, or to win.
- Repetitive, generic music (of many varieties). It gets bland, dull, boring rather quickly.
- Threats. Not only are they annoying, they’re annoyingly patronizing. And that’s something Maxwell does not accept.
- Losing. Failure. Hard work being lost. It’s one of the few things that will provoke Maxwell’s truly angry, violent side.
- Mediocrity. Weakness. Lack of Ambition.

Skills:
- Somewhat proficient firearms user, made a habit of it after the loss of Landon Tech.
- Moderate skills in programming and electronics. Has put less effort into it since his young adult years.
- Keen mind for business and understanding current events.
- Manipulative (in the right circumstances, knows how to get what he wants)

Costume Identities:
Maxwell has utilized several costumes over the course of his criminal life. That coupled with the fact that his name, motives, and any other defining traits or features are unknown to the rest of the world has made him a particularly “low key” villain in some circles. This hasn’t kept him from being something of an icon though, some of his identities have become rather well known (largely in criminal circles, such as The Union). Here is a list of the most significant outfits he has worn:
- The First Shape (Before Union Takeover)
- The Second Shape (After Union Takeover)
- The Third Shape (After Union Destruction)


Equipment:
- Two Beretta 87 Targets
- One Beretta 90-Two
- Two AMT Automag III (Mostly for show)
- Responsive Optics built into his masks (switches to Infrared Vision when he uses his powers)
- Several black, carbon steel daggers



Background:

Let's get one thing straight about Maxwell Landon. He was never normal, and not because of his powers. Maxwell was born to your normal, stable, average American family in Wilmington, North Carolina.

By 2019, he had murdered his parents and two siblings. Stabbed them each several dozen time. He ran to a neighbor’s house and called the police, sobbing and desperately trying to describe the “mad killer” who had committed this terrible crime. Dark clothes, like a trench coat or cloak, and a blank, featureless face, or mask perhaps. The police arrived shortly after the call, but the killer was nowhere to be found. Except for in the mind of Maxwell Landon.

In 2027, after 8 years living with his Grandfather in Boston, and a year at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Maxwell “assaulted” the frail old man. His grandfather was a weak old man, who struggled to get down the stairs without a walker. One day, when he was trying to do just that, Maxwell used his “shadow powers” and blinded the old man, just for a few split seconds, long enough to miss a step and tumble down the stairs. His grandfather died a week later in hospital, leaving behind his estate to Maxwell.

But that wasn’t all Maxwell walked away with. The old man had imparted knowledge on him for years. Knowledge about psychology (which his grandfather had worked in for most of his life), economics, politics, and even a bit of the sciences.

Once 2028 had arrived, Maxwell had left MIT and was investing the small fortune (only several hundred thousand dollars) of his grandfather into the stock market. He was brilliant at it. He managed to turn his hundreds of thousands into a million before New Years.

2029 rolled around, and he was still making money, with more of his work starting to take him to New York itself. He wasn’t in New York on September 11th however, pure and stupid luck that saved him. The moment was one of consideration for him, a point where he realized how truly weak he was in comparison to some of the things on our world… But also, what kinds of opportunities must exist.

By 2032, his money was still good, but he was getting bored, and yearned for something more. He started a business, Landon Technical Enterprises, quickly swooping into the software and hardware markets. Several programs his company developed focused mainly on businesses, helping them with information storage, communications, and essentially "better organizing" their companies. It had been going well so far, and Maxwell had plans to branch off into robotics and cybernetics.

By 2038, the once hugely successful Landon tech went bankrupt. With the rise of new technologies and standards, a larger competitor came into the market, one backed by billions instead of Maxwell's millions. Landon Tech began to lose customers to them, and with millions of dollars in costs and debts, there was no feasible way to recover.

Maxwell was driven to a point of rage he had never experienced before. This amount of loss was not something he had experienced. He had some money left, but most of it was tied up in stocks or smaller business ventures he'd dabbled in, nothing serious. Rather than losing those as well, he found himself selling off more of his personal belongings, until he was a scummy apartment away from living on the streets.

In 2039, Maxwell was starting to hear strange rumors from the illicit circles he found himself getting entangled with. A criminal organization known as “The Union”, one of the biggest crime syndicates in the world, with operations in America and South America, and growing into Asia and Europe as well. That rage Maxwell had felt for a year was gone, and a new feeling was in his chest now; ambition.

In 2041, after 2 years of experimenting with his “master powers”, and some subterfuge and manipulation, Maxwell carries out an assault on the New York headquarters of The Union, using an army of addicts, psychos, and other people he found easy to manipulate. He quickly eased into the position of “leader” of The Union, cutting brilliant deals with other gangs the old leadership struggled with. Maxwell ran The Union for several years after, remaking it into one of the most efficient businesses (never mind criminal organizations) in the world.

Feb. 7th, 2045. Maxwell loses control of The Union. The FBI and several gangs simultaneously attacked their headquarters. A massive gunfight ensued, killing nearly all his lieutenants who had helped manage and run The Union with him for years. Maxwell managed to flee to upper New York state, bringing a few loyal followers with him, and as much money and business assets as he could cobble together. It was then that the decision was made to leave for Atlas City, North Carolina, back to his home state, and to begin again.

Feb. 14th, 2045. Maxwell takes a private jet to Atlas City, making preparations to move onto an old beach property near the outskirts of the city that he has purchased. The site has an old home on it from around the mid-1800's, as well as various buildings and facilities (from about the last 10 to 15 years) that had been used for oil extraction and research. He plans on heavily renovating the property.

Mar. 11th, 2045. Maxwell has managed to renovate several of the buildings he now owns, and has begun growing a small following among the city's most underprivileged. He has begun producing small amounts of "product" that have slowly made their way into various parts of North America, though he has his eyes set on going larger. It is also possible that at some point recently he came to acquire an abandoned "club", something that had likely been abandoned since the early 2000's. He has more than a few ideas for how he can make it useful to himself.


Powers:
Casting Shadows -
[Shaker – 7 / Breaker – 6 / Stranger – 6]
Maxwell has the ability to create a “shadowy aura” that can block out all sources of light in a given area. This includes blocking light from electric sources (light bulbs) or semi-natural sources (windows, doors, etc.). Mostly effective indoors, but can be used in the outdoors as well, though it's range is only about 100-200 feet. In broad daylight, this power can block out some sunlight, but only enough to make the effected area appear dimmer (the distance being covered will determine the amount of light blocked). Given that this power blocks sources of light, this makes non-infrared night vision unusable in nearly all circumstances.
This power is made possible by light blocking “particles” that are created in Landon’s body, and controlled by his mind. As it stands, the only way to counter this power would be other powers that could use other particles to interfere, infrared vision, or being outside of the effected area (though anything within the effected area still would remain unseen).

Mind Manipulation -
[Master – 7 / Shaker – 7 / Breaker – 6 / Stranger – 6]
With this ability, Maxwell is able to “control” or manipulate the minds of people around him. His body once again produces “particles” that in this case can emit a form of energy. This energy specifically targets parts of the brain that will produce certain physical, emotional, and psychological responses that Maxwell wishes to target. These responses can be used to make targets of “open to suggestion” or make them more susceptible to manipulation. This power relies upon Maxwell getting to the right “weak spots” in the target’s brain, which means he must have some level of understanding about the individuals, and their mental states. Furthermore, this power can be resisted, especially if the suggestions he makes are too strongly opposed to the target's mental or moral makeup, or if they have some sort of innate resistance to this power.

Ex. Maxwell would have a difficult time manipulating a hero into committing murder. But Maxwell would have an easier time manipulating someone with certain mental health issues into committing murder.


Origin of Powers:
It would have been a normal day for any other kid. Something any child could experience. But Maxwell was always different. He was distant from his mother, his father, and his siblings. They always just seemed so… Pathetic to him. His father, a meager, middle-income office worker. His mother, a stay-at-home mom. His siblings, just regular kids.

Maxwell was at school, playing with a toy he’d gotten for his birthday, an action figure. It was 2018, Maxwell was only 10. One year before the murder of his parents and siblings. While Maxwell was at school, two bullies approached him, one who was 12, the other 13. They pushed Maxwell around for a bit, trying to scare him up a bit. The 13-year-old was taking the lead in the bullying, and the 12-year-old followed. It ended in one of them grabbing the toy and breaking all its arms and legs off, as well as the head. They tossed it at Maxwell, walking away laughing.

Maxwell had never felt this kind of loss before. Not sadness, a feeling of loss for something he loved. But loss in the sense that he had been robbed, stolen from. He felt a kind of rage that some people may never even feel in their lives.

The bullies made their way back home through a nearby forest, a usual route for the two boys. Maxwell knew this. As they walked through a part that was hidden from any roads or houses nearby, Maxwell emerged from some bushes behind them, and smashed a tree branch into the head of the 13-year-old boy. The impact sent the young teen straight to the ground and left him convulsing in seizures. Maxwell quickly turned to the 12-year-old, making another quick swing at his head.

The impact was less severe, but the boy hit the ground nonetheless. Maxwell continued a series of beatings on the boy, turning him into a bloody and bruised mess. The boy begged Maxwell to stop, and eventually he did, but not without leaving a grave warning.

The attack on the two boys was blamed on a random stranger stalking the woods, who never ended up being caught. The 13-year-old couldn’t remember the events at all, given the severity of his head injury, and to this day he still suffers periodic seizures. The 12-year-old could perfectly remember what happened, he never forgot it, and to this day still suffers from intense anxiety attacks.

One thing that the younger boy still remembers is how dark it appeared to get around Maxwell, how the light seemed to completely disappear, and how, in that moment, he was absolutely overcome with an inescapable fear of death. It was the only thing he could think of. It was the only thing Maxwell let him think of.

#3B444B

#A40000

#03A89E - Willoughby and Ulysses

So begins...

Maxwell Landon (The Shape)'s Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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March 10th, 2045, 11:23pm: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

Car doors slam closed as the trunk of a sedan is opened, faint and muffled shrieks erupt as someone is dragged out, arms and legs bound together, and a bag over their head.
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A faint dripping sound echoes off the rough, decaying concrete walls of some strange tunnel network, hidden in an almost forgotten part of Atlas City.
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Chains clink together as a dim ceiling light sways gently from the ceiling, faintly illuminating the form of a man, wrapped in chain and elevated off the floor from beams of wood above him.
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The bound man, supported by two men dressed in finely pressed, black suits, was dragged away from the car, feet scraping across gravel beneath him. The grinding sound of the rocks being displaced soon gave way as his feet reached patches of grass, and then sand. Crashing waves informed the currently blinded man that they stood on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, likely still in North Carolina he would wager.

After a few moments of unsteady standing, the bag was finally removed from his head, and he was pushed forward so that he tumbled into an open pit of sand. After thudding into the ground, the man tried to regain his faculties and searched around him frantically. He spoke, shouting in fact, throwing out curses and fast paced, almost unintelligible sentences in Russian. The tirade was cut short as another man began to walk towards the pit, a faint glow of a cigarette barely illuminating the features of his face.

A man dressed in a grey suit stood before the Russian now, cigarette hanging gingerly from the fingers of his left hand. "Well comrade, what a predicament you find yourself in now, hmm?" He chuckled to himself as he knelt down at the edge of the pit, another drag from his cigarette showing the cold features of his smiling face.

The Russian began shouting at the man in grey, his words going between Russian and small bits of English. "Square, square!"

"I think you mean a cube comrade." The man in grey smirked as he blew out a plume of smoke. "Unfortunately, that’s SINS territory you’ve stepped into. Or rather… Mine."
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A shaking, twitching, emaciated man shuffled through the dark tunnels, led only by faint lights that crept around corners, and the promise of a new life. He scratched at his arms, his scalp his face, everything. His whole body felt like it was crawling, and being scrapped with pain. It was unbearable for him, would be for almost any man or woman, and he would do anything to alleviate it.

Rounding a corner, he finally found a large, tall room where water gently poured from spouts built into the concrete walls. At the center a figure was seated, surrounded by the faint glow of candles. He wore a long black coat, and an eerie white mask. The disheveled man who entered the room staggered over to the dark figure, falling to his knees before the white mask.


"They… They told me you can f-f-fix people… Please… I feel so… Much… Pain…" He stuttered as his body convulsed, body wrenching pain flowing through every inch of flesh.

"You have heard correctly." The man responded, the sound of his voice obscured by a microphone of some sort within his helmet. "But it comes with a price."

"W-what’s the price?"

"Your unyielding loyalty. Your obedience. Your soul." The man on the ground looked up to the white masked figure as he named his terms. His eyes were wide, with a mixture of fear, but also pain.
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The sound of footsteps alerted the chained up man, as a door at the other side of the room gently swung open. A man dressed head to toe in black tactical gear stepped into the room, his face covered in a matching balaclava with only two holes in it where his piercing eyes looked through. As the man in black approached, the chained up man began to writhe around violently, screaming for help, hoping desperately to get the attention of anyone who might be around.

"That’s not going to help you. If I wanted anyone to come help you out, I’d have chosen a much less remote location. You’re not exactly innocent yourself either, you should know something about trying to stay hidden." After he finished speaking, he turned on a small radio that sat on a wooden workbench. He turned up the volume as bells began to toll, ushering in AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells.

The man in chain’s started to break down into laughter.


"You’ve gotta be kidding me! Do you even know who I work for? We're gonna have you skinned alive! You stupid vigilantes, thinking you're the devil or something!"

More laughs emanated from the chained up man, but the man in black was unfazed, he simply removed the mask from his face, laying it down on the table. Richard turned to face the man, a soft smile on his face. The chained up man went quieter. A vigilante that shows their face doesn't expect witnesses...

"A devil eh? No, I wouldn't say that. You know, the Devil gets all his sinners sent to him, practically delivered. But me? I have to hunt for the sinners I want. Like you for example, part of the chain that brought your nasty drugs up to my side of the border. Couple kids are dead from that, you know? Thought they were gonna have a fun party with some coke, didn't realize what the dealer had laced it with. Probably lots of kids this side of the border who've suffered too."

Richard grabbed something that stood next to the table, a long wooden handle, with a heavy piece of sharp metal at the end. A fire axe. "The other thing about the Devil is he likes to torture people, any people he can get his hands on. And he relishes it. I only torture the unjust, the evil, the real Devil's of the world. And I relish it." Richard smirked.

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The Russian began shouting out a slew of more curse words, Russian, and garbled bits of English. "The Union! The Squares! We fight same enemy!"

The man in grey let out a low laugh as he shook his head. "Izvinite, tovarishch, no my ne na odnoy storone. Dlya tebya eto dasvidaniya." Sorry comrade, but we're not on the same side. For you, this is goodbye.
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The pain was too much to bear, the man on his knees could feel it nearly ripping his body apart. He'd had enough. He wanted a new life, one free from all this, and he'd give up some other freedoms to have it.

"I'm yours. If you can end this for me, I'll serve you for the rest of my life."

The man in the white mask nodded as he laid a hand upon the other man's head.

"So be it. Welcome to your new life."

..........................................

Richard heaved the axe up so it was in both hands now, and slowly began to raise it over his head, the edge aimed towards the tied up drug dealer, who had once more resumed his screaming, with curses, threats, and sobs mixed in.

"This might take a while. Welcome to Hell."

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The man in grey pulled a pistol out from his holster, placing it against the Russian man's forehead as a stream of cries and sobs erupted.

"Oh, and by the way: Welcome to America."
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A gasp of air filling lungs.
A thud of metal on flesh.
The crack of a pistol being fired.

Image


March 11th, 2045, 7:15am: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

Living in America by James Brown ushers in the morning news, accompanied by triumphant images of America from the past 268 years, paying particular attention to World War 2.

"Good morning Atlas City! I'm Ron Clark, and this is your morning news! To start us off on a good note, we're listening to Living in America by James Brown. This is going to be an incredibly important year for America! It marks the 100 years anniversary since the end of World War 2, and as we quickly approach VE Day, Atlas City, and all of America, busily prepare themselves for Centennial Celebrations! We'll be keeping you updated on all the VE Day news, and giving tips on what you can do to mark one of America's, and the whole world's, greatest victories against tyranny! Later this afternoon, we're going to have a special guest on to talk about the myths and legends, and maybe some real life evidence, of the legendary North American monster, the Wendigo! Following that, we'll be providing coverage on a recent scientific study that shows there could have been life on Earth that predated the Ha-"

The sound of the news was cut off by a diner bell ringing as Richard entered a small breakfast spot in downtown Atlas City. It was a nice place, used to be an old fashioned diner, but was taken over by folks with slightly more modern tastes who decided to keep the old style, but upgrade the coffee menu, making it a cafe and diner hybrid. He took a seat at the counter and smiled at the waitress. "Just a coffee to start with." He said warmly. The waitress smiled and nodded back, bringing him a menu before going to get his coffee.

It was beautiful being up at this time of day, the sun barely making its way up and illuminating the town, casting early morning shadows. And on top of that, the sky was still mostly overcast, except over the ocean, where the sun seemed to be pushing the clouds deeper inland, away from the city. Still, there was always a chance of rain, but Richard was quietly hoping for that.


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Maxwell quietly sat in a park in the downtown part of Atlas City, in a nicer area surrounded with coffee shops, small grocers, and boutiques. The park was in a rectangular shape, with a road that encircled it, and the buildings and shops encircling that road. There was an old fashioned looking diner even just across the road west of the park. He was sipping away at an Americano as he read bits of the morning paper, trying to catch up on current events, particularly economic ones. Being involved in crime, sadly, did not make one immune to the impact of global economics, though that sometimes could be to his benefit.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Silver Fang: Queen of the Damned? Yue scrolled through the article as she inhaled the crisp morning air of Atlas City. She strolled down the sidewalk from the downtown Hotel where she had just checked out, flexing the stiffness out of her right arm and grimacing, only slightly, at the repeated pop of her joints. She twisted her neck, arched her back and stretched her shoulders as she walked, absorbed in her phone and was rewarded with a symphony of crunches and cracks like someone angrily taking their frustration out on a roll of bubble wrap. Just one of the rewards of surviving into your thirties! Her father would jest.

No mention of the Witchfinder Generals. No mention of Silver Fang pulling her injured teammates to safety. Just property damage, injuries, and “Was this negligence, or intentional harm?” Yue flicked the article away as she strolled absently past a park. She’d never had a great relationship with the media. The fact that she never took any interviews and her powers only seemed to destroy everything they touched only fueled this image of her being a reckless menace. This incident in particular had been eating away at her during her recovery.

She paused for a few moments at a corner when her phone chirped: a notification from the fan website her brother had set up. Yue flicked her still wet hair out from under the strap of her black tank top nervously, and nearly missed her window to cross. Her loose warm-up pants rustled as she jogged across the street and tapped the notification timidly.
It brought up a list of dozens of links to articles written by some smaller, independent journalists and their blogs about the activities of various supers. Silver Fang Braves Inferno, Rescues Four. Silver Fang Pulls Car from Flood. Silver Fang Saves Trapped Family. Many of these incidents never made it to the mainstream media, or had been buried beneath much larger headlines. She scrolled past the links to the bottom as she pushed her way into the small diner she’d been frequenting since she arrived in Atlas City.

Some of us appreciate the things you do. – Anonymous.

Yue couldn’t help the smile that cracked the corners of her lips. It was an anonymous post, but she knew it had to either be her father or bother: they always did this to cheer her up when there were negative headlines about her.

The sharp “Ding!” of the diner’s server bell brought her head out of her phone as the door closed behind her. Her sharp burgundy eyes found a man she didn’t recognize sitting in her usual spot at the counter. She’d already crossed most of the distance to the stool from the door, and had been but a few steps from absently running into him. Yue bit her lip and scrunched her toes inside her shoes against the wave of anxiety: there wasn’t typically anyone inside when she arrived. She was a creature of habits, and even seemingly insignificant changes in her morning routine felt incredibly disruptive. Today she’d been held up at the front desk of the hotel for several excruciating minutes while she arranged for her luggage to be delivered to the NAHLA building where her apartment was being prepared, and now wasn’t the first customer inside.

This is dumb: I’m a grown-ass adult! Yue steeled herself and took a seat two stools over just as the waitress was noticing her.

“Good morning Yue- Oh! You got your cast off, congratulations!”

“Yeah, just yesterday,” Yue smiled awkwardly.

“Coffee and a bear claw?”

“Y-yes, if you would be so kind,” she half stammered.

Yue’s flicked an eye towards the man in her seat, she couldn’t help it. Tall, though probably slightly shorter than her, dark brown hair, took care of his body. She only just barely glimpsed his grey-blue eyes before she buried herself in her phone again and thanked the waitress when her order arrived.

“Chibisuke! Caught you!” Yue tensed for an audible heartbeat, unable to suppress the icy chill running up her spine. There was suddenly someone behind her: a looming, muscular figure silhouetted in the morning light. She’d been too absorbed to hear him come in. She had only just taken the first bite of her bear claw, though she hurriedly wolfed the rest of it down as he approached. Wait… was he flexing?

“You’re too late: I’ve already finished it!” She replied, as he sat roughly in the stool between her and the other man. Definitely a flex. “Don’t be rude, Ichiro-chan,” she chided as she sipped her coffee, though inwardly she was relieved to have someone she knew between her and the stranger.

“Pastries aren’t proper nutrition,” he chided back, snatching a crumb from her plate and only narrowly avoiding getting his hand slapped. “Mm- you know how to pick ‘em though,”he complimented, making like it was time to leave. He slowly sat back down when Yue coolly leveled her burgundy eyes at him over the rim of her coffee mug and made it clear she wasn’t going anywhere until she was finished. Nobody interrupted coffee if they wanted to live. He gave a nervous chuckle.

“What are you doing here anyway?”

“Taking you to P.T.,” he grinned.

“Do you know my therapist or something?” She asked, looking over as her phone chirped. An email from the office. She could feel his grin expanding, much to her annoyance. Appointment confirmation for physical rehabilitation at the NAHLA facility, directions to the building, her access credentials and… she froze, and nearly spit out her coffee. “No…”

Personal physical therapist and trainer: Ichiro Bayushi.

PERMANENT. ASSIGNMENT. The words slammed into her with finality.

She felt the color drain from her face as their identical burgundy eyes locked. He ran a hand through his short cropped black hair and she could tell that he could just not stop grinning. This was not a mistake; he had planned this somehow.

“I am your therapist.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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"Hmm... I need another. Not enough for another big change... Hmph. Maybe another ten feet on top of this?" Came the deep, bass-y rumbles of the form that Jericho held. It was little less than fifteen minutes since Alex had left, with Jericho having rapidly consumed the mobster in as swift a manner as possible. Jericho's tongue, lengthened, thickened, and split into a nearly uncountable amount of smaller, whip fast tongues cleaned the left-over clothing and jewelry.

Jericho turned, holding the clothes as they folded them in silent contemplation, before setting them down on the couch in the 'living room' of the loft. Their head tilted to the side, their form shrinking down and swirling with bright blue-black ink before settling into the shape of a Hispanic woman, with a small "cute" button nose, and bow lips. The changer tried their hardest to adhere to a sense of 'cute and nonthreatening', and mostly succeeded. Nevermind that the throat was lined with metallic needles, attached to small air-filled sacs that would inflate as needed. Nevermind that the nails of the woman, 'painted' bright gold and scarlet, were hollow and brimming with venom that would bring about excruciating pain. Nevermind that the bright head, Hyena Agenda 'hoodie' she wore was in reality just another part of Jericho's skin. As well as the maroon motorcycle leathers she 'wore' for her legs.

"My name is Jemma, I live on 4803 Sourced Boulevard... Yeah! Okay. I got this! Heh." They wondered briefly if Alex would be proud, before quickly shaking their head and stretching their limbs out, feeling a brief swirl of ink as their hair rose, twisted in on itself, and became a shoulder-blade length braided ponytail, with vibrant reds and purples running through the strands. Jericho reached up, smiling faintly as they ran a fingertip over their lips for the morning, willing them to become a brilliant scarlet-gold that would've shocked the eye of anyone who looked for too long.
They knew that they should technically be going out with the idea of staying under the radar... But it was too good! It was a chance to learn more about what humans thought would be too excessive and what 'preferences' were like.

A quick reminder to themselves to grab the phone that Alex had given them 'in case of emergency situations' ruffled through their mind. They snatched the thing up from the couch, smiling brightly and snapping a quick picture of their appearance before sending a text to the super-man in question.
Hey. Going for a walk. Look like this. Park nearby that one diner place. Ttyl! Be back by ... 10? Idk. Will have phone on.

And with that! The device slipped into a jacket pocket, their feet carried them out the door, their middle finger morphed into the proper key... And they were off!

They wandered the neighborhood for a while, taking in the sights of the city with a pleased smile gracing their lips, drinking in the awestruck attention of many a male- Oop, there was a female that time!- who were graced with their presence. Jericho took it in like an addict, cackling to themselves when no-one else could possibly see or hear.
A half hour more, and the time was nearing 6:30. Their attention was drawn to the busier streets, and they meandered until the clock ticked over to 7:18 AM. They found themselves in the quiet park near enough to Atomic Annie's that Jericho could feasibly walk to the diner in about ten to twenty minutes.
They meandered through the park for a while though, passing by at least thrice, by a man with silver hair and his face buried in the newspaper. As hard as it was to ignore a human with hair so startling at what appeared to be a young age, perhaps another human with an appearance as absolutely unique (perhaps) as Jericho's could draw some attention.

Whether for better or worse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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"Su-sports?" Richard asked bemusedly. "Sounds like it could be dangerous. But no doubt rewarding." He gave them both a soft smile. "But I agree, I've come to enjoy this spot quite a bit too. Quiet, good food, interesting people. A nice little corner of town."

Meanwhile outside, someone was making their way towards the park in the center of the neighborhood, someone who would be recognizable from the files in Sheri Galloway's possession.

Further in the distance, down another street, a group of men was starting to form up on the corner. They seemed innocuous enough at first, but the group steadily continued to pick up extras...

__________________________________________________________________


Maxwell continued to read his paper as time passed on, and as 7:00 continued to march on towards 8:00, he took notice of a woman who'd passed him by a second time, and then a third. Upon the next pass, his eyes remain fixed on his paper, though his voice did not.

"Lovely day out isn't it miss? Good time for a nice walk through the town. Or the park perhaps. It certainly seems to have caught your interest it would seem."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Sasha brushed the few crumbs off his jacket, folded his newspaper, and stood, stretching. He'd already settled his bill, so he gave the waitress a cheery nod as he brushed by the other patrons. Slipping the newspaper in a trash can by the door, he stepped outside and took a deep breath of the morning air.

Glancing over at the nearby park, Sasha noted that his favorite bench had been taken by a silver-haired man who was also reading the paper. Sasha's eyes narrowed, but he walked over to another, less favorite, bench and sat down, giving the man a cool glare. The man didn't notice, however, as he was busy waylaying a Hispanic...

Sasha blinked twice as the scent hit his nose, and did a double-take. That was no woman. Unless Sasha was completely mistaken, the woman walking was actually a shapeshifter.

So not only the diner but the park, Sasha thought. Fate's hands are in motion. He immediately began scanning the area, looking for any signs of disturbances. If there was one thing Sasha had learned during his tenure with his homeland, it was that Fate never played nice, but it always played fair. Something was about to happen.

Sasha considered moving away from the area for a moment. He'd spent the last few months in Atlas City keeping his head down, working a normal job, doing normal things. He wanted no reason for the government, any government, to be suspicious of him. If he were forced to use his powers now, that might all be for naught.

Sasha's mouth tightened. Unfortunately, he was no coward to run from Fate. So he remained on the park bench, seemingly relaxed on the outside but coiled tight as a spring. Que sera, sera, as they say.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov
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Within the depths of a storage room echoed the tinny tsk, tsk of a hi-hat. It petered out, followed by an "ah, fuck". A neck cracked. Wrists rolled. And in came the kick.

Stashed away in the corner was a figure in a loose tracksuit, curled over a drum set. Scabbed fingers held the sticks and flirted with a simple 4/4 rock beat without any thought behind it. Distracted to the trained ear. Dark eyes fixated on a tiny phone screen and the crappy audio coming from it.

"- sure, maybe - Really Hope We Don't - but I think punk is the sound this generation needs. I really do."

A twiggy woman leaned back in her seat, shaggy red hair falling over her face and caught in her lip gloss, legs wide apart and boot resting on one knee. One sleeve fell off her shoulder, showing off a brutal burn as confidently as she flashed a grin. The interviewer asked something muffled out by a stream of blast beats.

"-eah, it's - ri - back in Queens, when I, ah, let's say dabbled in vigilantism - oh, shut up! Shut the fuck up," the woman turned on the audience, who had let out a collective sound of dread at that 'v' word. Her finger pointed accusingly at them, but the sarcastic tweak of a smile made it impossible to tell how serious she was. "You have Logan Price up here talking 'bout snorting coke behind the wheel, cut me a break." A mixed response. Laughs and 'oooh's. She rolled her shoulder and turned back to the interviewer. "So back in Queens, when I was tripping out hard on LSD, I hallucinated that I stopped a gas station robbery..."

The figure's drumming sped up. Their breath hitched in anticipation, for something.

A chant flooded through a stadium. Rows of lighters raised up towards a dark, moonless sky.

"So, Vicki, it's no surprise to you what I'm about to say, surely, but you've been declared quite the controversial figure," the interviewer at last threw at her, the topic she'd been dancing around the interview. The woman rolled her eyes and her hand, goading him on. "You've been under a lot of pressure to join a hero's organization lately. How have you been coping with that?" No answer, just an unimpressed raised brow. The need for a cigarette itched at the back of her head. "Well, do you feel that what you're doing now is good enough for the hero community? With your -"

"Let me stop you right there," she interrupted with a raised hand. The laid-back persona she presented before was stripped away in an instant. "The hero community? What is that?" The interviewer opened his mouth again to regain control of the conversation, when she leaned forward, her elbows pushing her legs apart. "Actually, let's talk about that. Heroes. Look, I didn't get that moment in my life when a superhero lifted me from the rubble, cape fluttering and skin radiant with, shit, radiation. Hendrix, The Pixies, Velvet Underground - those were my heroes."

The chanting faded out in the stadium, it had gone on for too long with no reward, when suddenly - the clash of a symbol, and a spotlight on a translucent white backdrop, revealing the silhouette of somebody behind a drum kit. The stadium was back alive, this time with screams.

The figure's drumming devolved into a frenzy. There was no longer a rhythm to it, or you were just too slow to catch it. Sweat splashed onto the drums and jumped as her sticks crashed down beside it.

"Thirty million superheroes across the world, and is that even counting those that aren't putting on costumes and fighting crime?" The woman slipped a cigarette packet from her back pocket and lit one on stage, ignoring the looks the crew was giving her. Her leg jiggled with agitation. It translated on camera. "That's my community." She claimed, pointing her cigarette at the interviewer. She took a drag, then like she wasn't able to bear it any longer, stood up. "Here's a secret about supers - well, it ain't a secret, let's call it an ignored fact - most of us get it from shit. A lot of us could have gone our entire lives without being super, or realizing we’re super, if shit didn’t happen to us. So. In the spirit of doing right by the hero community, I’ve got a message for kids at home." She turned towards the screen and pointed her cigarette right at it.

"Next time someone tries giving you the Uncle Ben speech, you say... Fuck. That." She took another puff, and the interviewer behind her looked off stage for help. "You don’t have to sacrifice what you want to be because of the shit that happened to you, or shit you didn’t ask to be born with. So yeah, to answer your question. I think I’m doing some good here."

She returned to her seat with a bounce, swinging her leg up to rest her foot on her thigh again, and gave pause. The figure dropped threw her drumsticks down, their wood smeared with red, and hunched over, panting. "I think I am." Repeated over the phone's warbled speakers.

The hum of ghostly back up vocals joined the drum solo, echoing from every corner of the stadium. The crowd swung their lighters, their shouts morphing from, "Cold Front! Cold Front!" to "VICKI! VICKI!"

Then a sudden whoosh of air blew over the crowd, snuffing out every flame. All lights went out. The music cut shot. The stage went dead. The crowds were left anticipating in a jet-black stadium.

When the lights came back on, they were focused on a white-clad figure, their fist raised high and clutching a microphone. Other black clad and masked band members were posed behind her, their hands poised over their instruments. Vic waited for the excited crowd to calm down before she brought the mic down to her lips to say, in the flattest voice imaginable,

"Hey, Atlas City."

The crowd cheered. A little less excitedly than before. Vic shook her head with a grin.

"Sorry. We can do that better."

The white coat she wore dropped to her boots. She clutched the mic with both hands as the band suddenly slammed down on their instruments, and she screamed,

"LET'S MAKE OUT!"




Vic listened to her illegally uploaded performance through earphones with far too good quality to be subjected to such a mess as she stared into the window of a newsagents. She could barely hear her own voice over the crowd screaming the lyrics. Her eyes flicked between the magazines on display. To her left, a woman's magazine, where articles were written criticizing her decision to hold a signing of her leaked nudes, right next to bikini pics taken by some pervert when she wasn't paying attention on the beach, next to which was a snarky remark about her weight. To her right, a 'respectable' news source, where her latest live 'outburst' was scrutinized, as well as her lack of a statement on whether supers should all be registered by the government and made to carry identification. Vic's tongue rolled to the back of her mouth as her eyes refocused, settling on her reflection instead of sensationalist titles behind it. A cap, hoodie and medical mask hid her face. The disguise made her look like a teenage delinquent, and she felt like it, from the way the store owner was eyeing her up. Her back molars bit down on her tongue, hard, and she entered the store.

All the stuff in those magazines she could find on her phone, anyway.

Soon Vic was skating down the path, carelessly weaving between pedestrians with her hands in her pockets and clutching breakfast. She dismounted at the park, flipping the board up with her foot and resting it against a bench before flopping down beside it and unwrapping 'breakfast' - an ice cream bar, covered in sprinkles and shaped like a clown, with a big red gumball for its nose. She hooked a finger around her mask and pulled it down for a bite.

Snap.

About three bites in, she heard the dreaded sound of a shutter snapping.

"Jesus," she muttered, looking around, "Here?" Her eyes locked on to some guy across the path crouching with a camera, and she pulled back up her mask, grabbed her skateboard and stood up. She did not need the internet to get a hold of her eating a Candied Clown at 7 am. As she sped up, a voice followed after her.

"Vicki? VickI Vortex. Tobias, from Apex Media."

No, no, no, fuck off.

"Vicki Vortex, with your history of vigilantism, the public wants to know-"

"Dude, it's the first thing in the morning. How long have you been following me for? I know that you finding me here isn't a coincidence," Vic snapped all in one breath before she'd even finished turning around to him. A camera went off and she retracted, squinting at the man's face. "Oh, shit. You."

Tobias Flanagan, the independent 'journalist' famous for jumping celebrities with hard questions in moments they least expect it and getting embarrassing or incriminating answers as a result. "Where is the camera?" She asked calmly. As Tobias raised the camera in his hands, Vic snatched at his collar and flicked away the teeny body camera attached to it. "Unless you're asking about the date of my next tour - no comment. Kindly fuck off." She turned, pulling down her mask, and aggressively bit off her ice cream's nose. Her teeth clanked against the ice hard gumball. Despite her trying to get away, the man persisted.

"How do you feel about privatizing supers? With the rise of private hero institutions worldwide, would you feel more comfortable being involved with the NAHLA, or a private company? What is your comment on the superhero idol culture ?"

"Will you stop it?!"

The man was wheezing out his questions. Without realizing it, she had begun to thin the air around him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov
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The park began to see more activity trickle into it, and not quite so slowly as Maxwell would have liked. A young man had entered a little while ago, seemingly from the direction of the cafe. Coupled with the Hispanic woman before him, he was starting to get a little concerned. Kingsley was supposed to be meeting with him soon, and he started to question the effectiveness of the location. No turning back though it seemed. But now... Now there was yet another matter to contend to.

A young woman had been in the park as well, wearing clothes typically associated with 'punk', as well as some kind of medical mask, an odd fashion statement perhaps, but not unseen. She wasn't a problem however, it was that she had picked up what appeared to be a rather annoying tag that Maxwell considered to be... Distasteful.

He sighed, laying his paper down on the bench next to him, standing up and straightening his tie. "Would you excuse me for just a moment?" He asked with a polite smile of the Hispanic woman. Maxwell walked over to the other woman, and the man with the camera, and upon reaching them, placed a hand on the man's shoulder. Something was off. The air felt thinner. Was it Maxwell? No, he'd been fine before... It seemed likely it was the girl.

No matter though.

The man with the camera turned to look to Maxwell, who had a pleasant, polite smile on his face, while grabbing the camera the man held. "Excuse me sir, but it appears to me you're disturbing this young lady. You also happen to be disturbing me." He pulled the camera away from the man, tossed it to the ground, and brought the heel of his shoe down on it, crushing it into various, quite unusable pieces and fragments.

The man looked astonished for a moment, then close to becoming furious, but before he could protest at all, he began to sway a little, placing a hand on his forehead and doubling over slightly. Maxwell smirked. "Oh come now, it's only a camera, I'm sure you can afford a new one." The man looked to Maxwell cautiously, his face contorted into a mix of fear and confusion, and a bit of pain from the head ache that had appeared from nowhere.

"Run along now." He said with an unnaturally warm smile. The camera man, despite his strong inclination to refuse this order, obliged them in the end, staggering away to no doubt find something to ease the the throbbing sensation in his head. Maxwell finally turned to the young lady with a smile and nod. "I'm terribly sorry you had to suffer such rudeness miss. Are you alright?" He asked in a gentle, pleasant tone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov
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Jericho watched the man depart, their eyes zeroing in on a woman who looked as if she had missed many a meal, and who probably needed- The thoughts slammed to a stop, mouth opened to drag air in between three sets of teeth.

A long hiss, a quick and silent sigh. Their skin prickled and the urge to claw, and bite, and bludgeon, and stab and rip and tear-
Jericho shook their head and laughed quietly to themselves. The man was a super! He stank of it, reeked of power hidden beneath the skin!
Their head turned over the shoulder and scoured the park until they locked on another man, sat on a bench just ever so further away. The ever so faintly familiar scent of something like themselves wafted over. A reptilian grin flashed over Jericho's temporarily painted lips, before fading as quickly as it came. 'She' turned and rushed to the silver haired man, and the masked, punk, woman.

"Hey! That seemed like a bunch, you okay there sweetheart? ... Is that what paparazzi is like? Or was that a stalker? What a cunt. Bite his balls off, someone should, yeah." Came the rushed, almost excitedly breathless voice, a low alto, almost as if the 'woman' had a voice too big for her height. Her accent seemed vaguely Boston born, but with a Hispanic lilt that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Her eyes locked on the masked woman, a shiver passing through the bones of her own body as she realized... Yet another Super. Here. In the park.

W̶̰͂h̴̳͚̊̓a̵͓̐́t̵̬́͌͜ ̶̳̆͌f̵̬̝̓̕u̷͚̯̽̽n̷͔̓̎.̵̧̋.̷̨͘.̴̺̿̓

'She' couldn't stop the shiver that passed through her yet again, the immediate, instinctual, need to consume and assimilate. But she could stop herself from acting on it. And when she took note of the thinning air surrounding the woman, and felt her lungs shift below the surface of her skin to better adapt for it, she simply stopped talking and stepped back. Behind the silver-man. To give the poor thing some space. And to watch the world with an expectant eye.
Speaking of which...

Jericho's hair silently swirled with ink for a moment, though from a distance it could be mistaken for the wind pulling some strands of hair loose. And under the hair, close to the skull, six pairs of 'holes' formed on the flesh. The world became that much louder for Jericho, and that much clearer for 'her' hearing. She tried to angle herself in a manner that would be behind the silver-man as much as possible, but she couldn't guarantee anything. Oh well, not like it would matter, right?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov
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Alexander Dalton

If there was one thing Alex was grateful for one with all the changes that happened to his body, it was probably the fact that he could still get his cardio in. The burning in his lungs and muscles was a welcoming feeling, it made him still feel like he could improve himself. That he was still human and not some invincible demigod. He kept his breathing steady and began to slow his pace as he came close to the end of his run. It was a shame he couldn't run at a full sprint if he wanted too, but the thought of him accidentally cracking the sidewalk from his feet slamming into the concrete at full force wasn't a good one. That was an easy way to out yourself as a super. You read stories all the time of people with minor powers outing themselves on accident all the time, from damaging restaurant silverware to floating off the ground cause you got a little too excited. Yeah, not gonna end up on some YouTuber's top ten list of dumb supers outing themselves in public.

He checked his phone for messages. Jericho was out and about. Hopefully not causing a scene. He too a deep breath and gathered his thoughts for a moment. Jericho was at the part, nothing wrong with that. They could take care of themselves and already ate, there was no reason to worry . . . yep, none at all . . . damn his paranoia. Alex figured it was better to wing by the park and check in then to keep worrying.

Didn't take long to get to the park, he compromised with himself to jog the way there rather then run in fear of an incident from his amorphous roommate. Jericho didn't survive this long on their own being stupid. But Alex would feel better not leaving them to possibly commit some form of social suicide what would end up in the internet, again. Couldn't use that disguise anymore without anyone recognizing the colorful trash eating dumpster diver of Atlas city. Not that Jericho entirely cared but second hand embarrassment was a powerful thing and Alex would rather be spared the cringe.
After a few minutes of trying to remain casual in his search he finally sighed with relief. No crowds in sight, looked like they were chatting with just two people. A relatively sharp dressed man and . . . wait a moment. He could swear he recognized the woman, questions for later. Alex jogged up from an angle that would make him easily visible to the three and made eye contact with Jericho first.
"Hey Jemma! figured I would still find you here. Was gonna grab some things for lunch before heading back home and wanted to know what you were in the mood for." He looked to the man and woman present before glancing at Jericho. There was a hint of something wild in their eyes that was barely noticable. Might be a good idea to divert attention. Alex turned his attention back to the others before sheepishly scratching the back of his head. "Ah, sorry that was rude of me. Barging in on you guys like that. My bad. Alex chuckled a little before relaxing his posture slightly, trying to come off as friendly as he could. Even so he still almost towered over the others present.
"Jeez, where are my manners? He held out a hand towards the silver haired man first. "Alexander Dalton, at your service." The man gave off a professional air to him, Alex figured being polite was the best course of action there. The punk looking woman though, Alex swore he had seen her before and it was really nagging at him now as he gave her a glance and a smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov
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By the time she was interrupted, Vic had noticed what she was doing... and she didn't exactly stop it. On the contrary, she just watched as Tobias's face went red and his last words trailed off in a cough and a wheeze. Intently. The green flecks in her eyes seemed brighter as she stared the choking man down.

Then a hand grabbed his shoulder out of nowhere, and she blinked, and Tobias sucked in a deep, much needed breath. Vic glanced over to the tall, silver-haired stranger, and in a moment too fast for her to form even a single judgement, the camera was violently splattered across the pavement. She stared at the massacre. The rest of her ice cream drooped off her stick to splatter beside her sneakers.

"... Ha!" A sudden, breathy laugh burst from her. She stuffed her hands into her pockets as she watched the stranger ward Tobias off, her mouth still left hanging from the last she opened it. A genuine grin threatened to spill over and she sealed her lips, ignoring their twitch and chewing her gum. When the stranger turned to her, she took her time to finish blowing her bubble and answered with a pop!

"Yeahhhh..." she dragged out, looking him up and down as she did so. Spick and span in a business suit and tie and wearing the professional charm of a car salesman. Not the sort of person anyone would expect to spontaneously lay waste to thousands of dollars worth of personal property. "... you-" Before she could add anything to that thought - another interruption. Vic raised a brow at the woman's enthusiastic punishment proposal and stretched her lips thin, giving her a mock-thoughtful nod.

"Yeah, fair. Personally, don't think they're fit for a dog, but," she ended that thought with a shrug and looked back to the business man. "I'm good. Don't worry about it." Her sneaker unintentionally nudged the colorful breakfast sludge she'd dropped before as she intentionally nodded down to it. She picked the already flavorless cheap gum from her mouth and flicked it over to join the camera, then shuffled a cigarette pack from her shorts pocket and lit one up. "Always a plan B. You're looking wicked, by the way." She added, eyes flicking up the woman's tight leather pants to her startling gold lipstick.

She took a drag, and almost immediately felt her rumbling, baseball-sized stomach crunch down to about the size of a golf ball. "So, ah," She cocked her head and her eyes crinkled at him. They were sparkling with interest and narrowed with suspicion, but not the dreading kind - more of the kind one looks around with when they hear the rustle of a chip packet. "... Who do you think you are?"

She didn't get her answer, not before somebody else barged in and - HOLY SHIT.

Vic's brow shot up like it was trying to match the giant in height. In an instant, it was decided that she was not going to be tilting her head back for him. This man would be satisfied by eye-to-throat contact or nothing at all.

"Ummmmm." Vic very clearly vocalized as the man's hand was passed over to her. She chewed on her tongue as she regarded it. "Scarlet." She very clearly made up on the spot, courtesy of Grateful Dead's Scarlet Begonias blasting in one eardrum loud enough to be heard faintly by all present. Then she smacked her palm against his instead of shaking it, then looked away. "Barge anytime, but you missed the good part. Nothing here now but a..." A glance to the camera and melted ice cream puddle. "...boulevard of broken data and dreams. And no skating. Which I came here to do, so..."

She took the cigarette from her mouth, picked up her skateboard by its end, and backed off slowly as she raised her mask. Her brows lifted like she might have had a smile behind it, however sarcastic it was.

"Thanks for the concern babes, but I'm just gonna... goooo..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Maxwell had allowed himself a small smirk when the girl had let out a laugh at the ordeal they'd put the camera man through. Seems the moment had been mutually enjoyable, much to Tobias's expense. She seemed like she was about to say something else until another presence had arrived behind his back. The girl from before.

Did she know him or something? She'd been getting awfully familiar with him, he almost felt like she might try to devour him or something if she could. The girl with the now medical mask confirmed she was doing well now, to which he responded with a slight nod and smile. "I'm pleased to hear that." As she pulled out a cigarette pack, Maxwell felt the desire to obtain his own, as well as the permission to do so. He pulled out a small gold case and popped it open, pulling one out for himself. As he placed it back in his pocket, the girl responded with a question.


"So ah, who do you think you are?"

He gave a soft smile. "I'm-" And before he could say another word yet ANOTHER person had arrived to the group. The man seemed to know the woman behind Maxwell, Jemma apparently. He seemed strangely familiar to Maxwell if he were being honest, not in terms of looks or anything, just a feeling he got from him. Maxwell took the man's hand and shook it with polite firmness. "Pleasure to make your acquaintance Mr. Dalton, Miss Jemma. Maxwell Landon, equally at your service." He gave a cordial smile to each of them, and to the masked girl who had now introduced herself as Scarlet.

She began to work her way out of the group, seeming to be preoccupied, or wanting to be preoccupied, with other important exploits. "A pleasure Miss Scarlet. Take ca-"


Another noise sounded off. Louder this time.

__________________________________________________________________


Richard smiled as both Ichiro and Yue explained the nature of their expertise's, and he took a quick moment to enjoy a few bites of the food that had newly been brought to him. After a quick gulp of orange juice, another man at the counter had butted in, putting in his own two cents about Yue's profession.

Richard was feeling pretty relaxed at this time, but he'd begun to notice that he was one of the only people in here that seemed to be feeling that. Both Yue and Ichiro had seemed off. The large man with the French toast had seemed off. The girl in the booth had stopped moving practically. He almost started to speculate that these people might be here for a revenge killing for last night, but nobody had seen him in any way. The only person who would know who he was would be that dead drug slinger, and unless his power involved regenerating his body from literal ashes, he very much doubted that was the case.

Maybe it was him though, making them a little uncomfortable or something. He'd started to wonder if they could... No, no he had been pretty good about that too, slim chance they could see, the waitress certainly hadn't. Richard inwardly shrugged. Besides, this Yue woman did look pretty tough, and he contemplated saying so but her flustered response to the other guy gave him the impression that maybe he should respond with more tact and consideration.

"Exercise is good for the body, mind, and spirit they say. Whatever it is you're teaching, I'm sure your students appreciate it, and probably get as much out of it as you do." Richard gave a kind smile and understanding nod to Ichiro and Yue.

Richard took a few more bites of food and a sip of orange juice while the door to the Diner opened again. He had contemplated what the real deal was with Ichiro and Yue, and the other people in here. Seemed all to be quite odd, but he tried to ignore it. The sound of those loud feet touching down on the floor was quite distracting however on its own, but Richard felt the need to maybe offer a little bit more small talk to ease Yue and Ichiro's minds. And maybe learn a little more about them.


A tall, looming figure behind the group placed a hand down on a shoulder. Yue's. Before anyone said anything the counter had shuddered, knocking over Richard's food and drink, as Yue was hoisted from her seat, and flung across the room behind them. Her body briefly passed in front of Henry as she crashed through the window next to him and toppled out into the street.

Richard had bolted up from his seat just in time to turn around and watch a hulking mass of a man leave the Diner. He was at least 7 and a half feet tall, decked out in a long, black leather trench coat, and wearing a... A Puritanical hat. The same garb as the Witchfinder Generals. Outside stood 25 more of them, all lined up in the street, effectively building a wall that kept Yue and the diner barricaded.

__________________________________________________________________


"YUE BAYUSHI! YOU DEGENERATE FILTH! DEMONESS! PERVERSION OF NATURE! YOU STAND ACCUSED OF CRIMES AGAINST THE WITCHFINDERS! THERE SHALL BE NO TRIAL FOR YOU, YOUR GUILT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF." One of the men seemed to roar at the woman.

The others were all dressed quite similarly to each other, but some held guns, while others seemed to be injecting something into their necks... Within a few moments, those who had taken the injections began to wield new powers, but only two types, no other variety. Some of the men seemed to be wielding fire, and the others some kind of pale sand or something.

It was salt. The Witchfinder Generals were particular about their powers, so they bought these from one source and one source only, possibly located somewhere in Asia. The fire was a straightforward enough power, but the salt? It could be wielded as though it were a sand storm, a storm that could rip skin open and burn the flesh beneath. Some had even suggested the power could turn the enemies of the Witchfinders into salt, their bodies burning in agony as they slowly morphed into the substance.

__________________________________________________________________


Looked over to Ichiro for a moment, then the others. The girl still seemed like she hadn't moved at all. Richard dropped to the the ground by the booth Henry sat at, pulling Ichiro with him, and using the seat as cover. He waved to the other patrons to get down and away from the windows. Richard quickly scrambled through his pockets as he pulled something out and started to put it on his head.

"Pardon me Ichiro, but I have to break a few laws quickly." He pulled down his balaclava over his face, and pulled off his jacket to reveal the shoulder holster under it, equipped with two pistols. Richard pulled both out, donning one in each hand. "Any chance I can give Yue a little cover?" He asked Ichiro, who he hoped might have a better angle for a view outside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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The sound of crashing glass and gunfire caught Jericho's attention first, the overwhelming stench of adrenaline and fear caught second... And the absolutely, quite nearly blasphemous stink of super powered beings sucker punched the Polymorph so hard in the olfactory senses that they staggered. They spent only a brief moment, not nearly long enough to truly consider the consequences of stepping in, before their choice was made.

Then, with a bright cackle that did not nearly fit the voice of the woman who stood beside Alex, Maxwell, and 'Scarlet', a noise like an oversize cicada burst forth from the Polymorph. It drowned out all thinking for a moment, though when the ink began swirling violently around 'Jemma', perhaps thinking wasn't necessary. The flesh vanished and exposed organs that were nothing like the proper human anatomy, muscles and nerves and bones of bright silver-y sheen ripped their way into the sun before quickly fading from its light. They were replaced by the same beast Jericho had transformed themselves in to the night before.
The cicada-like scream continued droning on, and in pockets and along walls, on desks and on wrists, within a radius of about thirty or so feet... Phones and cameras, or any other small electronic without proper shielding, fried itself and shut off. Permanently.

Jericho, however, did not wait.
They instead leapt forth, darting forward like a demon sent straight from the bowels of hell. And CRASHED into the backs of some strangely dressed men, their weight alone snapping and cracking bones. The blade-sharp protrusions from their snout sliced into the back of the neck of one such man.
From the beastly maw came a scream like no other, like a cougar was blended in with a train whistle, and then brutalized by a booming undertone that rang the eardrums of the nearby 'Witch Finders'.

Another scream rang forth from them, the man-made monstrosity, and their metal-stinger-tipped tail whipped about and sank into the shoulder of a man who's gun rang forth projectile idiocy at a woman who barely dodged its bite. The blades on Jericho's face were wet with ichor, and their heart was pounding harder and louder than it had in a while. The cicada drone continued on, as yet more small electronics failed their owners. A claw swiped out, ink swirled, and sheets of iron plating layered over Polymorph J-3's skin. Their attention turned towards an apparent ally, another Changer whose form was that of a devilish beast.
J-3 screeched a greeting, and turned to snap their maw with deathly force at a nearby gunman.
A searing wind of salt scoured across their shoulders, but the iron simply held for yet a moment more. It would eventually scrape away, and the flames from nearby Witch Finders would soon burn and harm... But...

The slaughter was on, and no hesitation would be spared for the meat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Sheri cursed at herself as she fiddled with the hinges on the back door, finagling them in such a way that they wouldn’t open if the target tried to come through here. It took several minutes of effort as she considered, attempted, and then reattempted several different solutions that wouldn’t be easily seen or removed before the man got here. The cook passed by twice, giving her a funny look the first time, but she just said ”Maintenance!” with the best fake smile she could manage and he immediately lost interest in her presence.
She’d got it just about into a state she was satisfied with when there was a sound of glass shattering at the front of the diner, followed by the sound of shouting. Her first thought was to slip out the back if there was trouble here... only to be reminded she’d just jammed the door shut when she tried to open it. ”Shit.”
She turned and slipped back toward the front. She quickly stepped to the side as staff and a handful of customers fled back into the kitchen; she decided not to mention there was no escape this way. They’d figure it out. She turned to look back up front, only to see a crowd of goddamn Witchfinders gathered outside, in a fistfight with the woman who’s been at the counter, and someone else she couldn’t see. Three of the men who’d been in the diner were also still here - two taking shelter behind the bar (was one of them wearing a balaclava mask? In 2045? What is this, the IRA?) and the third looked like he was about to go join the fight outside. Good for him, Sheri thought. Buy me more of a distraction. Oh, and her double was still in the booth. That was kinda funny. She dismissed it, and it dissolved in a burst of static.
It was a shame this job would turn out to be a bust, though, she thought to herself as she slipped around the counter toward the door. After all, it wasn’t as if Mr. Alan Kingsley would be stopping by for his coffee after… after… She froze where she was standing, within arms reach of the balaclava man, as her eyes fell on someone through the window, at the other side of the park.
Her fucking target.
She threw herself around the counter, jumped onto a booth table and tumbled out of the window, before breaking into a dead sprint through the meleeing crowd. Her hand flew to the PPK tucked into the back of her jeans under her coat, her fingers wrapping around the top of the grip with her forefinger resting along the length of the barrel. One of the Witchfinder’s spotted her as she dropped her stealth, and she ducked under his arm as he reached for her, putting her gun in his face and channeling a stunning nerve blast through the handgun at point-blank range without ever turning her eyes to him.
Sheri folded herself nearly in half as she vaulted over some mutated monster a mere instant after it tackled two more Witchfinders to the ground (Where the fuck did that come from? Am I gonna have to deal with that?) and then she was across the street, boots pounding over the grass as she made a beeline for Alan Kingsley. He spotted her, and as he turned to run her eyes flashed a brighter shade of green and two exact duplicates of herself appeared 20 yards ahead, following one very simple command: catch the target.
Alan bolted, adrenaline making this otherwise out of shape man move faster than he ever had in his life. Sheri dismissed her clones, then summoned two more further ahead, gaining ground with her doubles until they were practically on either side of him.
”Leave me alone!” he wailed, struggling for breath. He stumbled and fell as he reached the street, rolled, then was back up, sprinting left. Sheri stopped and fired another nerve blast through the handgun, hitting Alan in the back of the knee. He fell a second time as his entire leg suddenly went dead, cracking his chin on the asphalt. ”Please,” he wheezed. ”Please don’t hurt me.”
Sheri walked over, stuffing her gun back in her pants and dismissing her duplicates. She pulled a thin voice recorder out of her pocket, then lifted Alan up slightly by the back of his shirt, kneeling down to look in his face. ”You’re Alan Kingsley?”
”W-what?”
”I need you to confirm,” she said, clicking ‘record’. ”Are you Alan Kingsley?”
”Y-yes,” he answered. He was starting to cry. Gross.
Sheri dropped him, then clicked play on the recorder to confirm she’d gotten his official confirmation.
Nothing happened.
Click. Click click. Clickclickclickclickclickclickclick- she through the recorder on the ground, and it bounced and skidded into the gutter. ”God damn it!!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Laying on the pavement, coughing up globs of blood, the head Witchfinder started to barely stir and regain his senses, just in time to witness several of his men being attacked by terrifying looking beasts, monsters, demons.

"Th-the demon- *HACK* The Demoness! She brings her servants with her! Destroy them! SEND THOSE UNNATURAL CREATURES TO PERDITION!" He cried out.

__________________________________________________________________



Richard saw the larger man at the booth bolt out of his seat and over the diner counter, calling out to him to help deal with the Witchfinders, and to... Rob the place later? He was confused for a moment, then it occurred to him not only what he wore, but what he had said moments before. Ichiro's words broke through Richard's moment of embarrassment, focus on getting the civilians out of here. The short girl from earlier appeared to have entered the diner again from out of the kitchen, and before anyone could say or do anything, she bolted out and towards the park? And the guy who had been at the counter with them had gone into the kitchen, and several of the staff had gone with him, only a few others remained pinned down in here.

Ichiro had been on his phone a few moments, and it became clear that Ichiro wasn't just a therapist. Sounded a lot like he was some kind of cop. Not great for Richard. Giving a slight nod to Ichiro, Richard began to assume a crouching position as he got ready to take action. "Oh and Ichiro, I ah... I'm not a burglar or anything like that... I ah... I'm in witness protection..." He feebly lied. Once he felt he'd attempted his best possible subterfuge in the moment, he raised a hand towards the shattered window, and to the others. After a few moments, a faint frost began to appear, and where the shattered window had stood with a hole in it, it now was becoming a full sheet of ice.

The ice was too crystalline to see through, and caused the room to dim slightly. Richard quickly ran over to some of the other staff and guests, quickly trying to usher them into the kitchen, where the guy from the counter had seemingly gotten the back door opened. "Alright, get out of here as quick as you can! Stay low, stick to the back alleys, and get into some kind of building! You need to take cover!"

He looked back to Ichiro now, nodding his head to the kitchen. "You need to go too, unless you're able to help out here." Richard raised both pistols to the opaque windows now as the power went off, some kind of shriek emanating from the street out there.

One more thing to worry about.

As some of the Witchfinders tried to chase down Yue, others tried to get a handle on the situation with Jericho and Sasha outside. Richard had noticed the man from the booth was now holding some kind of glowing gun, a laser gun? Weird, but he'd roll with it. "Hey! Aim for the shadows with tall hats!" He called out to Henry. A steady stream of bullets began making their way down from the rooftops, and soon after another hail of them exploded from the windows of the diner. Richard had begun to open fire through the glass, shattering the pane that had previously stayed in tact.

Three Witchfinders were grazed or hit, scrambling to take cover or falling to the ground as Richard opened up on them. One tried to crawl away from the gunfire and Jericho, but before he could make it far his hand landed in a pool of blood that quickly froze solid around his hand.

His screams of terror echoed across the street as his doom became sealed with that hand.


__________________________________________________________________


Maxwell felt himself tense as gunfire and violence exploded on the street next to the park. "That is... Problematic." He muttered. Just as he finished, the girl who had been called 'Jemma' disappeared and turned into some horrific monster, the likes of which Maxwell had never imagined. As the creature bounded off into the fight, he couldn't help but cock an eyebrow. "And that is... Rather interesting." He mused, almost a tiny bit pleased. He'd just witnessed something he was now quite interested in getting a better understanding of...

That brief pleasure was fast cut short however. Mr. Kingsley was outside the park. Running. With a girl chasing him. Maxwell's eyes narrowed as he chewed his lip. "This day has been full of surprises. Some more pleasant than others." He quickly gave a nod to Scarlet and Alex. "I'm terribly sorry, but you'll have to excuse me. This mess may have just put a client of mine in grave danger, and I must go help him. Mr. Alex, Miss Scarlet, it has been a pleasure." He gave them both a kind, warm smile, a slight bow, and turned to go find Kingsley...


__________________________________________________________________


Not long later, the silver haired man found Kingsley on the ground, and a shorter girl standing over him, likely a super.

"Excuse me Miss, but can I help you?" He asked in a light tone.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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Sheri turned at the sound of a man’s voice. “Can I help you.” The question voiced by one who’s noticed you intruding on their property. The man in question was in a tailored suit, with thin rimmed glasses and manicured silver hair. The way he carried himself, Sheri wouldn’t be surprised if he were carrying a metal cigarette case, ether. This guy practically had “corporate” tattooed across his bigass forehead.
”Not right this moment, no,” she replied, placing one boot on Kingsley’s back as if claiming ownership. She tried not to let suspicion appear on her face as she watched for his reaction. ”Not unless you have a working phone.”
She’d had run-ins with vultures before, trying to snipe her contracted arrests by playing it like her actions were legally illegitimate; even if she could prove she were acting under an organization’s authority, cops weren’t exactly fond of independent contractors like herself, and these situations could easily become more trouble than they were worth. Still, there was also the chance he were a genuine concerned citizen. Presenting the possibility of a small favor, like borrowing a phone to call in the arrest, was a good way of sorting out which he was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi
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Alexander Dalton

Maxwell came off as formal as he looked, though the air around him was giving Alex a sort of hair raising feeling that he couldn't quite place. Guy must be rich and powerful or something like that. Always came off as some sort of different breed, that's the difference in social classes for you. Scarlet on the other hand came off a lot more chill and casual, definitely more his kind of person. Unfortunately Alex never got the chance to really start talking due to the sudden sound of crashing and gunfire.
Alex's head snapped towards the general direction right as the screaming started. Shit, that sounds really bad. And only getting worse by the second. Sure enough, as if on cue, Jericho had exploded into a writhing and screaming mound of flesh. Dashing off towards the growing chaos just as their form settled, followed by the sound of electronics frying themselves.
Alex quickly fumbled for his phone on reflex and almost swore at the burnt out screen. He had just gotten that thing replaced after last time. Throwing it to the ground with an annoyed groan, He had a moment to notice he and Scarlet had been left behind by Maxwell during his small fit of annoyance.

He looked down at Scarlet as he pulled his hoodie on and zipped it up. "Hey so, I would explain but I gotta go after my roommate . . . the thing that was that girl just now, and try and keep them from going totally ape shit. Just, please don't tell anybody what you just saw. I gotta go. Now."

With that, the threw his hood up, he turned on his heel and bolted off. Alex only began to pick up his speed after getting a good distance away from "Scarlet". His feet tore into the ground as he ran well past the speed of any normal human. Alex ran a hand across his face and let his force fields shape over his head and effectively obscure his face under his hood while still allowing him to see. other plates and panels of simplistic, glowing blue armor rippled into existence around the rest of Alex's body until he looked like some form of ethereal knight.
Finding Jericho wasn't hard. Alex almost slowed down at the scene before him. The entire vicinity of the diner, inside and out, was in complete pandemonium. All of it seemed to stem from the strange and similarly dressed men Jericho and others appeared to be fighting off. Well . . . Jericho was more so having an early lunch rather then try and fend off the screaming men. All of which were screaming out of either fanaticism or terror. Alex took little time to contemplate who these people were as one of the man's hands erupted into flames which were soon pointed in the direction of Alex's friend. Fuck. That.

Alex ran full tilt towards the man. "Over here Asshole!" The flaming man only had a moment to turn and register what was happening before a quarter ton of armored superhuman crashed into him with the force of a speeding truck. The shoulder charge sent the Witchfinder flying, landing with a a loud thud. Satisfied with the results, Alex didn't hesitate to charge his way towards the next man in similar garb wielding an automatic weapon before giving him a swift kick between the legs. The civilians the man had been terrorizing before winced reflexively as the witchfinder dropped to his knees, his voice i soft and high pitched scream of intense pain. Alex turned to place his body between the civilians and the battle. "Get to safety, now!" it didn't take any more convincing before he heard people scrambling away. Good, he really wasn't wanting to have to keep an eye on paralyzed innocent bystanders when he had to keep . . . that in check.
Alex made a few steps towards Jericho. "Hey big guy! You still in there?" He tensed and swallowed hard as his eyes and hands flared with blue energy. Anticipating he he was going to have to bubble his friend any moment. he never liked having to do this, but he had to help keep Jericho under control.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade
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"SON OF A BITCH!"

Vic went from covering her ears to protect them from the horrid, cicada like screeching to tearing the popping earphones away from them in a flash. She snatched the phone from her pocket, eyes darting between its dead, dark screen and the screaming flesh alien, and clicked the buttons on the side of the screen to no avail. "Hey-!" Her head jerked back up to Jemma, eyes blazing with fury, but the thing was already bolting towards the action. She shook her head and glared at the sky, trying to look for the angel above who'd just let this happen to her. "Fucking shapeshifters," she exasperated. With the same tone of somebody who had just been cut off in traffic.

Business man left, calmer than the average citizen fleeing the park for safety. Tall glass of water took his leave, too, running towards the danger zone. Vic was left behind with no music to drown out the melodic lure of bones cracking and gargled screams in a superpowered smackdown. She sucked in her cheeks, crunching down on them with her molars, dropped her skateboard on the ground, then mounted and rolled the other way.

Hey, she was a rockstar, not a hero.

She had a reputation to keep, sure, a controversial one, but not one where she was labeled an active vigilante. That would be a little too much for her agency to tolerate. Or the law. And it wasn't like she could just stand by and watch the show, either. @Vicki Vortex, is this you watching a terrorist attack and doing nothing?! Yeah, piss off.

Besides, these things got out of hand, fast. Especially in a place like Atlas City where the super per square mile ratio was way out of wack. Think punching a person in GTA and how quick that escalates. Somebody was gonna die. That was pretty much what she thought she could hear going on back there, and if she was being honest with herself...

... it sounded awesome.

Nobody can see your face, anyway.

She didn't think about it as her skateboard lifted up from the pavement and she changed her course. She came soaring quietly over the scene, hands in pockets, like an unenthusiastic Silver Surfer with bad posture. The chaos was even better than it sounded from the park and had its own celebrity guest star. A streak of red hair slipped from being stuffed in her cap, but she didn't think about it. She was fixated on the monster tearing through Witchfinders like they were gore filled pinatas. She didn't take the time to figure out whose side anyone was on. Frankly, she didn't give a damn.

Out of nowhere, a Witchfinder found themselves knocked to the ground by the blow from a heaven sent skateboard to the back of the head. Vic plummeted down from the sky, hand gripping the skateboard's front. As the Witchfinder fell forward, she followed, her wheels grinding their skull against the pavement. She hopped off, snatched her skateboard back up, and turned around as her fallen victim lifted their salt-crusted hand towards her, to deliver one, two, three, four - an exorbitant amount of bashes to the head. If anyone looked now, they'd see a random civilian who'd wandered onto a superhero movie set and was giving it their damn best - bloody - shot.

Witchfinder out cold, she shook the blood from her board, rested it on her shoulder and turned back to the monster. Then gave a little flick of her fingers.

Superhero and Van Helsing wannabe alike suddenly had a wall of air shove them aside, thick enough to feel like a solid force. She cleaved a straight line through the battle - a path straight to the monster. She immediately drew her busted phone from her pocket and ditched it at it. It bounced harmlessly off its hide, but got its attention.

"Hey, creature feature," Vic murmured under her breath, glaring down at it with undeniable murderous intent. "You shouldn't have cut off Bob Weir." Her grip on her skateboard tightened as she prepared to launch herself at him. "Or been the biggest motherfucker at this joint."

Jericho turned, focus locking on a new target; through the blur of combat haze, irritation and excitement built into a roar. The sound of a lion’s deafening call, mixed with the warbling shriek of an elk underwater, and undercut by keening tone that warbled glass and eardrum alike.

Vic's heart leapt as the land shark charged her. It was a non-too-regular reminder that it was still there. Regardless, she ran right for it, taking the skateboard off her shoulder. She pushed it along the ground, letting it run ahead of her and through the creature's legs, as its reach breached just a mere several meters from her. Five. Tw- Without a sound, she was gone. Particles exploded out, then faded into nothing. A gentle breeze wafted past Jericho's face.

Whomp.

Vic materialized behind them, feet plonking down on the skateboard. She skidded around, raised two fingers, and mimicked a little "Pow!" of a gun. The creature was pushed forward by the world's strongest air cannon - that was restraining itself. Just a little puff, enough to stumble it. An adrenaline-spiked grin flashed across her face, hidden by her medical mask.

Man... it had been way too long since the last time she'd nearly died.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade
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Jericho had paused at the sound of Alex's voice, had begun turning to locate the massive man who they called a friend, their very first friend. The stench of super powered individuals was overwhelming. It stank like rot, like flesh and meat and hunger.
It stank like glorious power, sweet glorious satisfaction, like a purpose meant to be completed! They would have their carve! But. Alex would be disappointed, perhaps even angry, and survival would be in jeopardy if Jericho kept going the way they were. They had to calm down, they had to back away from the fight, return to hiding! They-

Something clattered off their haunch, the scent of wind-scraped plains, of dust and gale, caught their attention. The air shoved Alex out and away from Jericho, shoved the prey that surrounded the Polymorph away.
The fog descended, and Jericho gave in to their instincts for battle, for the hunt.

There was a brief black-out moment, where J-3 would not remember even moving to attack Scarlet, where it wouldn't remember having its' haunch shoved by a wall of wind that threatened to topple it over. The meat of J-3 would remember turning, flinging a cadaver at 'Scarlet' and rushing her right after the corpse flew through the air.
It would remember cleaving a path through meat that stood in its' way, ripping a witchfinder in twain with brutal efficiency, sending the halves scattering their contents to the ground as they continued with single-minded determination.
It would remember watching Scarlet blocking and deflecting the corpse of a witchfinder with her skateboard, would remember leaping up, spinning about midair, and flexing its long tail.
The length of meat and metal split apart like a horrifying flower. A multitude of eight thinner but no less armored, lined with iron 'fangs', tentacles spread out.
The tendrils swept through the air like whips, and the first three to come into contact with Scarlet's board tore it in half. Another lashed forward as J-3 landed, spearing through the air with the intent to harpoon and kill.
She disengaged her ‘shield’, holding each skateboard piece by the truck like she was about to start dual wielding them, and ducked. Far too slow. Half her face began to melt away as the tendril shot through it, particles floating up into the sky, but she felt the sting. When the tendril whipped away, and she regained a full solid form, her hat had been knocked off and there was a thick, red gash on her forehead, spilling blood down her face and soaking into her mask.

J-3 Unleashed another roar, their chest ballooning outward and swelling with silver-black ink. The sound was that much louder, like a blast of thunder and animal-fury. The noise was a grating bellow mixed with the chittering whine of an insect, the screaming caw of some parrot-like bird supplemented it all. They shook the ground with the force of it, completely lost to the shift and shake of combat. They spun about, swirling on one armored hind leg, as their limbs lashed out at everything nearby. Another Witchfinder lost an arm, the one who ran to avenge her comrade found her face slashed by a clawed hand that spared no mercy or care for her existence.
Meanwhile, across from the whirling dervish, a certain someone thought to themselves.
Christ, that was a big set of lungs. Would be a shame if somebody-
Scarlet flipped her hood back on and punched forward, air cannon engaged. And concentrated. It blasted the creature, and the sickening noise of ribs turning inward cracked over the conflict. The creature’s chest caved in as it was blown back, the air forced out of its lungs. Vic gladly held onto that. And didn’t return it.

J-3 was thrown back, chest caved inward and starved of air. It locked its' gaze on Scarlet, still blinded to reasoning by the thrill and excitement of the hunt. It stood a solid fifteen or more feet away from Scarlet now. The tails on its hindquarters flicked, and lashed forward with an abrupt speed that left them blurs to the naked- or non super eye. Ink swirled on the tips of the tails as they moved, quills of bone and barb forming and soaring through the air between the two combatants. Four sank into the flesh of Scarlet's left shoulder, right and left forearms, and one just barely scraped by her hip as she once again 'POOFED' to avoid the worst of it.
J-3 thrashed for a moment longer, before shuddering and staggering side to side, desperate for oxygen.
The middle of a roar was no time to have the air stolen from you. Asphyxiation was a bitch.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade
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The leader of the Witchfinder General hit squad coughed out yet more blood, his vision becoming hazy as he laid on the ground, the life slowly draining from his eyes. "*HACK* B-B..... BALTHAZAR! BALTHAZAR THE DESTROYER!!!" His cry echoed out across the street. As he gazed up into the sky above him, he felt his life leaving him, but the last thing he saw before it was abruptly cut short was a car falling on top of him.

The tall, monstrous Witchfinder from earlier stood on the street again, now alone, all his other comrades now either dead or captured. His outstretched arm remained in the air a moment longer after it had tossed the car that landed on the now deceased Hit Squad leader. The Giant's other arm was next to his side, fist closed, but as it opened it released seven hypodermic needles.

Empty needles. The Boss fight had begun.

"PUUUUUUURGE!!!"

The Witchfinder roared with the low, monstrous bellow. He aimed his arms at the various heroes and supers around, unleashing a torrent of fiery, molten salt at the enemies that surrounded the area. The flash of blue had particularly caught Balthazar's attention, causing him to rip the door off the truck Cannonade had previously been thrown into before being tossed into another building. Balthazar flung the door in the direction of Cobalt Blue, following it up with more salt and fire.

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Richard looked to the right side of the diner, standing outside was the giant of a man that had thrown Yue through the window. His eyes widened slightly as he tensed up. This guy was not human, not even close. He waited to see how the other heroes would respond, but the new comer (Cannonade he thought he heard? Sounded kind of familiar) had been tossed into another building, and some of the others seemed caught up in their own fights.

"Hey pal?" He called out over to Henry. "Hope that thing has a kill setting on it. You're going to need it."

After Richard quickly reloaded his gun, he vaulted out the diner window and onto the street, firing off three shots at Balthazar's head. Two went through, the third knocked his hat off.

As the hat hit the ground, Balthazar's massively deformed head became visible to all. The place where the two bullets had hit was a now dented steel plate sewn into the monsters scar covered head. His entire face was a patchwork of stitches, decaying skin, and bits and pieces of metal and wires. The Witchfinders had employed a monster to hunt other 'monsters'.

"Guess you're going to take a little more work."


Balthazar roared at Richard, and the two charged toward each other. As the two closed the distance, a glittering blade formed on Richard's right hand and forearm, coming to a sharp, knife like point that protruded 3 or 4 inches out from his knuckle.

The beast of a man swung a right hook at Richard, but he quickly dipped down and dodged to the left, sending his right fist up into Balthazar's jaw, puncturing it and tearing through his mouth. Richard broke off the shard of ice and pulled away from Balthazar a few steps.

As the giant turned to look at the masked ice wielder, the ice blade fell from his mouth and shattered on the ground. Balthazar's jaw was split vertically into two, loose hanging halves that swayed as he moved. He swung his right arm and sent it crashing into Richard, tossing him backwards and sending him into a roll across the pavement.

"PURIFY!!! PUUUUUUURGE!!!"

He reiterated with fiery hated.

"As you wish." Richard muttered through gritted teeth, as he got back up, firing off three more shots.

The bullets passed through Balthazar's neck. He seemed unfazed as a trickle of thick, brown liquid began to make its way out of the holes in his neck.

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Maxwell smiled as he pulled out his cell to amuse himself and the girl, but he soon noticed it wasn't working anymore. That was... Odd. And unexpected. He'd have to get that dealt with later. "I'm sorry, seems like I'm at a loss for that too. How strange." Maxwell looked the girl over, and then Kingsley once more.

"Since I can't help you, perhaps you can help me. I'm rather curious what it is you want with Mr. Kingsley?" He smiled kindly at the girl, intentions well hidden behind the soft face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade
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Jericho found themselves slammed about, asphyxiating at first and then abruptly able to breathe once more. The sound of battle was fading from their hearing, and a quiet- in insistent- pounding was echoing against their mind. The Hunt kept calling out to them from some unknown distance, and their vision and focus was disoriented. It felt as if they were pushing through mud, but the mud was existence, and their body just wasn't right. It was a vaguely familiar sensation, as if they were dreaming... Their flesh shifted, swirling yet again with ink before a maw filled with tombstone shaped teeth formed on the patch of skin that held a strange device. Some sort of power was being emitted from it, and the cicada scream from their EMP generator was doing nothing.
So they crunched it. The abrupt opening and closing of a jaw with the strength twice that of a hippo flattened and destroyed the object attached to them.

The world was still blurry, and their vision was suddenly filled with Alex's! face.
A gentle pat across the 'unarmored' part of Jericho's ribs brought them further back to reality, farther away from the siren call of the Hunt. They knew he was talking to them, and they understood the words, but the meaning behind them just wasn't computing. Their mind was foggy and sluggish, the rush of combat was only just bleeding out of their system.
The sound of Alex's voice was filtering in, and the calm-panic in his tone shook Jericho to the odd core.

The first friend they had ever had, and they sounded fearful, but of what? Of them? Of the battle? They needed protection didn't they, shit. "Nrh. Hold on. Will protect you. Make you safe." They grunted out, their voice distorted and mixed together with the sounds of a tiger growl and a boar's grunt. They shifted then, dropping the combative form and instead switching to the shape of a large, amorphous metallic... Blob. Jericho swooped upward, surrounding Alex and cocooning the other super in a protective shell. They extended upward from there, forming a small, humanoid torso on top of the metallic sphere. The torso had no eyes, no mouth, no nose... But it did have a multitude of arms that were lined with jagged blades. The torso swayed back and forth, and was turned towards the squabbling group of Supers.

'Protect.' Said Jericho's instincts. So Jericho positioned themselves to protect.

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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Oh, this dude thinks he’s slick.
Well. She supposed it was possible this man had simply overheard Kingsley’s name when she got the confirmation of identity… or tried to, anyway. It never hurt to be sure. She kicked Kingsley lightly in the side. ”What about you? Do you have a phone?”
He glanced sheepishly at the man in the suit. Very subtle. ”I was told not to bring one,” he mumbled. ”Someone could trace it.”
”That’s not what I asked.”
”...It’s in my back pocket.”
Sheri had to laugh. She didn’t actually laugh, but the absurdity of this entire situation made it so hard not to. She dug through Kingsley’s pockets, pulling out an extremely expensive phone - one of the new models, with the holographic display glass screen that was much too far outside the price range of an ordinary office worker. She dialed the number for Atlas City Heroes Incorporated.
”Okay, I’m going to give you two one more chance to - This is Houndmaster, I got your boy, near the north entrance of Soldier Park. Just look for the giant brawl near the diner and go up - One more chance to play this like something other than Baby’s First Protection Racket.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade
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Richard raised a hand to cover his eyes as Cannonade came crashing down into Balthazar, soon followed by a flurry of attacks from some guy up on the roofs, and another fellow who approached looking like something from Dante's Inferno. The monster of a man looked almost inhuman now, his flesh melting and dripping to the ground like thick mud or rotten fruit. Richard flicked a few bits of banana off him as that realization kicked in.

Balthazar gazed up to the demon man that stood before him, the Witchfinder's face was now a nearly bleached skull with metal and wires stitched around, keeping his warped looking head together. The creature could no longer speak, but it wasn't hard for Sasha or others to tell that it was laughing, up until its loose hanging jaw-halves dislodged from its face and fell to the ground.

Its chest burst open as a torrent of thick brown fluid fired out at Sasha, who managed to dodge in time for the liquid to hit the ground, causing toxic burns on the pavement. Before Sasha could do anything else, the group noticed Balthazar was holding something in his hand now, which he had pulled out from under his coat.

A grenade launcher.

As the long tube aimed up at the group in front of Balthazar, Richard quickly got to work firing back at the monster again, hitting it in the arm, chest and neck, with the pistol in his left hand. Richard's right hand was empty, aimed towards the grenade launcher now, his eyes widening and heart pounding against his chest as he tried to prevent-

Balthazar pulled the trigger. As the grenade inside hit the ice wall that was built in the barrel, the whole device exploded, tearing through the Witchfinder's arm and reducing it to ribbons of flesh, and shards of bone. The creature swayed a moment, its flesh and body parts beginning to steadily fall from its body, a result of all the damage sustained by the onslaught. It toppled onto its back, laid there a moment not moving, before Balthazar began to violently spasm and shake, ending in a crescendo as an explosion tore through its chest and the rest of its body.

Richard gazed upon the shredded remains of the monster, then took a quick look around at the rest of the group. No one seemed to have moved for the last moments of its life. The explosion had come from something inside of Balthazar.

"Nice bit of teamwork." He muttered to the others, giving an approving nod to everyone who'd helped in the battle of Atomic Anne's. "Everyone okay?" He asked sympathetically. It soon became apparent to him he'd not been fully aware of other events in the battle, taking notice of the other monster that had seemed to absorb some big guy who'd been here only a short while. Richard took a short few moments to take some breaths, and plan his next move against this... Thing.


__________________________________________________________________


Maxwell sighed as Sheri made a call, to whom he wasn't entirely sure, but it was evidently either law enforcement or a hero organization. "I do believe I was quite clear on communication devices." Maxwell muttered over to Kingsley, a soft smile on his face, but great agitation laying in his eyes.

"Well Miss, it appears you've interfered with my business transaction with my client. Normally I would take a different approach with a situation like this, but it appears there is no rectifying this situation." Before Sheri could react, he pulled a gun from inside his jacket, aimed, and fired.

The bullet went through Kingsley's head, sending it back to the ground as blood quickly pooled out. "A shameful waste of time and money. And for what I wonder?" He smirked as he turned back to Sheri. "I assume you're being paid for this. Well, I congratulate you on that. For what it's worth though, I expect the pay could be far better. Indeed, the pay I offer is almost certainly far better. He smiled warmly at her as he placed the gun back in his jacket.

"At the very least, your powers could be put to far better use than... This."

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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Sheri drew her gun and fired a blast at the man in the suit, missing his face by a hair’s breadth. He was right, she probably wasn’t getting paid enough for this - in fact, with Kingsley dead, she probably wasn’t getting paid at all. It was very likely this particular blunder could leave her unemployed for quite a while after this, and in part of her mind she was already considering which city she’d relocate to next. Another part was considering the potential value of accepting this man’s offer. Both of these parts were drowned out by the maddening repetition of his words through her mind.
A waste of time and money.
A waste of time and money.
A waste of time and money.
Kingsley might’ve been a stupid schlub of a human being, but he was still a human being. He didn’t deserve to die just because some arrogant prick in a suit decided he was useless. Sheri cursed herself for thinking this guy had just been some wannabe guard dog - if she’d been more cautious… Damn it, the least she could do was take this guy out and hand him off to ACHI when they got here. At least then Kingsley’s killer wouldn’t get away without consequence.
Her eyes fluttered briefly to the brawl across the park. Looks like things were wrapping up there. Without that distraction, given the distance to their headquarters… Sheri reasoned she had between three and five minutes before they arrived. She could probably incapacitate him by then, right?
Her eyes flickered around the man in the suit, and three duplicates of herself appeared in the space around him. They were unarmed, and couldn’t use her other abilities, but this close they were fundamentally the same as herself, with all the same reflexes and capacity for unarmed combat. ”Shut the fuck up and surrender, dickhead,” she said, taking a breath to steady her aim. ”Or I'll show you what use I put my powers to.”

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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Maxwell smirked as he looked to the copies that surrounded him. "Interesting power you have here. Could come in handy. In the right circumstances." His smiled turned a little more cold as he looked back to her, registering her rather... Brash comment. "How about I show you what use I put mine too."

Before Sheri could say anything else, the whole world had gone black, with only a faint hue of light allowing her to make out the shape of Maxwell before his body dipped to one side and fell too far into shadow to be traceable. In another instant, Sheri felt a hand clasp on her shoulder, and a gun press to the back of her head.

And fear. Unnatural, uncontrollable fear that seized her whole body. It wasn't from the darkness, or the gun at the back of her head, or the man himself, not on the outside anyways. It was a kind of fear she'd not felt since she'd left Vanguard Enterprises. It was overwhelming.

"I have to wonder... What are you thinking about right now? What terrors, fears, nightmares haunt you. I wonder if you ever found a way to come to terms with it, or if it still makes you buckle at the knees, like a child with no power, no will in the world around them."

Sheri fought hard against the sensations of fear, finding it a struggle to push past them, but fighting nonetheless to get her head back in the moment.

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape)
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All light and color faded from the world around her. She fired once into the darkness, but didn’t hear it connect. There was a hand on her shoulder, and the pressure of a gun on the back of her head. Shit, when did he- Her thought was cut off by an icy, creeping fear soaking its way into her entire body.
Nina?
No.
Their abilities might make them somewhat uniquely challenging to handle, but they’re your responsibility now.
No, it wasn’t Nina.
What’s to stop me from just knocking you out with my power and then going to deal with it? It’s not like you’d be able to stop me, right?
No, focus. Of course this isn’t Nina.
”I just have to listen for that damn singing.”
Sheri whipped around to the left, grabbing the man’s arm with her left hand and then slipping around behind him, dropping her gun to the ground and driving the palm of her right hand into the small of his back, forcing him away from her. She still couldn’t see in this damn darkness - did he make this? Then it was probably safe to assume he could see her just fine. She backed away, looking to see if there was a limit to how far it spread, while keeping her ears trained for the sound of footsteps, or a gun being cocked.