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Silentium

I appreciate the finer things in life...more so than you do life itself

0 · 370 views · located in Atlas City

a character in “Hadean”, as played by PirateofPie

Description

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Theme 1 – [url][/url]
Theme 2 – [url][/url]
Theme 3 – [url][/url]
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Full Name: Silentium
Alias: Silentium
Age[imstsntly N/A
[b][u]Gender
: Male
Ethnicity: Robot

Hair: N/A

Eye color: Red

Body: Humanoid

Height: 6'7

Weight: 550

Hometown: Offshore facility near the British Isles

Affiliation(s): Criminal Underworld, The Guild of Guile

Personality: Efficient, calculatimg, analytical...but not quite cold. He knows what the finer things are in life and craves them. Moreso than many of those of flesh and blood. Some of such finer things are thrills. The thrill of the hunt in particular. Therefore there is next to no job he won't take.


Likes:
- Money

- Expensive Alcohol

- Expensive Cars

- Expensive Women

- Interesting Prey



Dislikes:
- Poverty

- Cowardice

- Robotic personalities

- Fast Food chains




Fears:
- Becoming a robot

- Betrayal

- Electrocution

- Missing a paycheck


Skills:
- Expert Marksman

- Hand-to-Hand combat, expert, particularly with a knife

- Capable of getting drunk. Also capable of instantly returning to sobriety

-

Costume Identities:

[url]Uniform[/url]
[url]Mask[/url]


Equipment:
- Antoinette: His customized sniper rifle. The gun fires high powered rounds and is unique in the fact that it is scopeless, Silentium's own eyes being more than enough.

- Two combat knives.

- Shoulder Mounted mini-gatlings





Background: Cyrus McDrummond was a highly requested assassin from the Guild of Guile. Known for his efficiency and dependemcy, he never let the Guild down not the criminals that often employed their services. When not in the job, he was often known for unsustainable demeanor and tendency to throw his money around.

His spotless record came to an abrupt end during an impromptu encounter with a super on an otherwise routine job. A stray bolt of electricity landed upon a machine behind Cyrus and he was engulfed in it, resulting in anonymously death.

However...the Guild of Guile was not without its resources. In the event that one of their top employees suffered loss of life, they had made a copy of their brainwave patterns and Cyrus was no exception.

They hired the services of a private team of robotics experts to upload these brainwave patterns into a new body. But something unforseen happened. The brainwave patterns perhaps copied a little too much from Cyrus. All they wanted was a weapon. What awoke...was not that.

He was not Cyrus either, not really. He had access to Cyrus' memories and aspects of his personality But he considered himself the son of Cyrus. He sought to inherit Cyrus' wealth so as it would not be redistributed to those who did not know what to do with it. And then...continue his father's line of work.


Powers:

Stealth Field -
[Breaker – 7]

A field is emitted around his body that dampens sound and shrouds Silentium in a dome of invisibility within a five foot radius around his body.


Teleportation Matrix -
[Mover – 7]

Can teleport up to a mile away to change locations within an imstsnt. Teleportation makes a sound but only upon the spot where he's exiting.

Vulcan Pylon System -
[Brute-5, Striker– 6]so

Has robotic strength necessary to support highway body weight as if it were lightweight human frame and toss ordinary humans aside like ragdolls

In addition


Power Origins: Birth (technically)





Color Code:[color=](insert color code here for easy reference)[/color]

So begins...

Silentium's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Silentium
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March 11th, 2045, 8:50pm: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

"My God, look at those two go," a man with graying, slick backed hair and a short trimmed beard mused. The fight below between the two supers was simply some amazing entertainment. Munroe Vanderbilt snapped his fingers as a waiter arrived to refill his glass with wine , both for himself and the blonde woman next to him, Beverly McKenzie, who was much younger than he.

Munroe couldn't help but grin. He was content here, among the elite. It hasn't always been this way, he wasn't born rich like many here. He built a compamy, a shipping company from the ground up and, educating himself in business acumen and legalise to overcome....less than legal boundaries in what good he exported. And from small beginnings....look where he is now!

Wonder! It was where he belonged. Among these super powered demigods, there was but one true power here and that was the almighty dollar. It got him a permanent booth in this establishment. It got him love. Beverly, for example, after promising to buy her her own booth as well as long as well as anything else she wanted. It could grant him the powers beyond what any super can imagine, it could grant him the ability to even overcome death. He was certain of it.

"Munroe....Munroe!" The voice of Beverly called to him, breaking him out of his thoughts. The billionaire turned to her listening intently. "This is getting rather violent for me. Can we return to the private lounge? It is much more quiet there too!"

"Why yes, yes of course!" Munroe noddeed, taking a large sip from his glass. He really didn't care how he spent his evening. Watching two powerful forces clash while being untouchable or spending the evening with a young beauty whilst drowning in endless wine, he was quite content to do either or. "Maitre'd, we'll be taking out leave for my lounge!"

"Of course, sir," the waiter nodded, the billionaire and his lover making their way out through a door behind them, and down the wonderfully carpeted hall, and towards two wooden doors to a room filled with the scent of lavender candles and warmed by bubbling Jacuzzi near its rightmost wall, a bookshelf duo of candles and oils to the left and I'm the center, large velvet chairs and and oak table.

Munroe excited took a seat in one of the chairs as a waiter walked in, pouring some wine on a glass places on the table. "I'm sorry, my good man, but I didn't order any..." his eyes drifted over to the bottle. He didn't quite recognize that brand, but he got a good look at the label. The vintage...2003?! That would be quite expensive. More than he was willing to pay for fine wine. "No, no, I didn't order any-"

Before he could speak further, the waiter had left. "Why, the idiot wouldn't even stop to listen to a word I said! I'll talk to the manager about this...Beverly?" It took him a second to notice that she too has left as the door suddenly shut closed, generating a loud clicking noise as it closed shut. The room had locked itself in, an emergency measure in case unforseen danger occurred. Munroe cuddled with the door knob, "Beverly where have you gone? My God, the sport's been locked! From the outside?!"

"I wouldn't worry about her, Mr. Vanderbilt," a deep voice commented from behind him, echoing as if it were speaking though a vocoder or a particularly static-ridden speaker. "Quite the resourceful contact 'Beverly'. Have you seen her in Carmen? Oedipus the King, perhaps?"

"I...who-?"

"'Tis no matter. Almost a waste of her acting ability to deceive the likes of you," the voice continued. "But come and sit down we've much to discuss," the voice continued as Monroe's eyes widened at the sight of a wine glass levitating in middair, being sipped by an unseen figure.

It was a super of some sort, but Munroe didn't wait to see who. Immediately he ran back to the door, pressing a buzzer on the wall. "Security! SECURIT-YYY!"

"Hmmhmm. Well, that's not going to work. Who do you think let me in, old boy? I trust you've enough wits about you to ascertain that there's a certain...impatience in my tone. One that suggests the more you cooperate the longer you'll live," the voice warned.

Munroe had begun to sweat profusely, taking a deep breath and doing as the voice said, sitting down in the seat across from it. "Noe...now tell me," he huffed. "What is it you want of me?"

The response was a simple flip of a coin. A large, gold doubloon, emblazoned with the emblem of a juggling jester on a unicycle crossing a tightrope. The mark of the Guild of Guile.

The coin landed in the table, right in front of Munroe. He recognized it instantly, having received a similar coin from an associate years ago. As proof he truly walked amongst the elite. It was a badge that showed he was untouchable with the Guild at his beck and call....so long as he had the funds. But there was something so distasteful about the whole thing, he found. Even after hiring their services, he couldn't help but feel disgust at their very nature. Mercenaries...assassins. Best to wash his hands of the whole thing, he thought. "Assassin..." He wheezed after a while, seeming to find some courage. "What is your name?"

The immediate response to this instantly shattered Monroe's newfound bravery. A simple laugh. Almost how one would laugh at a child who said something silly, this laugh was belittling. "What's this? Grew a spine? How peculiar," he sneered. "To my knowledge, you broke an agreement. A time honoured pact betwixt the Guild and it's clients. You hired one of us to eliminate one of your rivals, offered to meet on your yacht, and the greatest insult yet...hired common thugs to dispose of our involvement."

Munroe shook his head. "Look, that was a mistake. I-I-I, "

"Don't make excuses. This is simply business, nothing personal. So, I've a suggestion; Instead of stammering like a bumbling dullard, lets say we conduct a trade? You still have your Guild contact, yes? Forward to us your itinerary next week and perhaps you'll be allowed to live. We understand you have some appointments with some powerful associates of interest."

Munroe immediately began to comply. His life was worth more than this entire establishment, after all. And within seconds...it was done. And perhaps an extra transfer of funds would do well to further ingratiate himself with the Guild! A question he would never know the answer to as his lifeless corpse suddenly fell to the floor.

"Apologies. Change of plans. Just got the word, " the assassin responded impassively. The instrument of murder: a silenced pistol. Such a crude implement. He preferred the use of his rifle, but the Guild had insisted this job be handled personally. He got up from his seat, briefly dispersing his invisibility field to reveal an ebon metallic figure, with piercing red eyes.

He bent down slightly to retrieve the Guild Coin, but not before smearing it in the blood of the deceased! A hunter's trophy. He flipped the bloodied coin in the air and caught it with machine-like precision.

Unheard, he walked! Unseen, he stalked! A fusion of man and machine! He sought not the finer, things in life, but the finest! With but one shot, a pleasant afternoon turns into an hour of mourning!

"Oh yes, and the name..." he stopped, mere inches away from the window that would lead to his esape. "Silentium."

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 Character Portrait: Amy Lin Character Portrait: Leah Lin Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Joseph Wright Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Hugo Hemrod Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Hudson Li Character Portrait: Ezekiel Walker Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Evangeline Richter
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March 12th, 2045, 9:40am: Atlas City, North Carolina, USA

Day 2


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

______________________________________________________


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

______________________________________________________


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

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

______________________________________________________


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

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

______________________________________________________


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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Evangeline Richter
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"Uh, who are you lady?" Henry asked. Though from the gist and how she greeted Pendleton, he could gather she was a part of NAHLA.

***
"Money, first," the ebon machine spoke through his built in communicator. Sent on untraceable 8G wavelengths stretching the span of North Carolina's eastern coast, on a secure channel. He sat in a dark room, the dim red light of his optics lighting the room. "Direct deposit to the account I sent you the previous day. I know it's unbecoming to request a bonus upfront, but this is not an easy job. This has been my third venture into Atlas City this month. You understand more than I, the hazards in my line of work one would face in terms of maintaining subterfuge."

"Of course. Money is no issue, but I trust you'll understand if the bonus is eschewed should any part of your assignment is botched. You'll still be payed handsomely, of course you will. You're the one risking your life, after all."

"..." Silentium pondered for a moment. "Acceptable. Business is business after all."

"Ah, thank you, my friend! always a pleasure to work with the Guild!"

Click.

"A death at a funeral. A bit trite," He sat up, walking over to the armory lined along the ships walls. There would be...a fair bit of opposition at the Atlas City Memorial. Heroes aplenty. The grieving the angry...."But the challenge...My God," Silentium would smile, had he any mouth to do so. If he'd hair, they would prickle upward. Feel a tingle in his spine. Cyclotrons wring rounded in his brain, simulating thrill. Exhileration. Memories of the dead, given life once more. A 21st Century, Frankenstein's Monster, cursed with the fire of Prometheus.

He mechanical digits touched the gun, his cyclotronic brain making the rounds again, artificially simulated neurons firing in his head, simulating the could touch of colder metal. A weapon of death. It felt good. Almost like it once was. But just almost.

"Still not good enough..." Silentium noted tapping on the metallic hull of the stealth fighter, it's hangar opening up, and the robot standing within, activating his invisibility field to match the imperceptible vessel he was standing in. "Commencing operation."

His gun locked and loaded, Silentium leapt from the ship, landing on the roof below without so much as a thud.

Setting

Characters Present

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: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow
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Club Shapeless: Atlas City


Maxwell watched Vicki Vortex and Zeke have their little bout of bickering outside from the computer screen of his office. He chuckled slightly at the sight, finding the whole thing somewhat endearing. Zeke in particular was starting to grow on The Shape, much like Maeve and Kiran had. Spiderblood was still a slight enigma, but also still new and in need of some opportunities to really show off what they were capable of.


He stood up from his desk and walked over to one of the walls of the room, a mirror like floor to ceiling set of black marble slabs. Maxwell donned his mirror mask over his head, finished tying his black silk tie, and buttoned up his red dress shirt. Perhaps a black three-piece with a red shirt wasn’t the correct colors for mourning, but he had other, important matters to attend to.


Upon returning to his computer, Maxwell had noticed that Zeke and Vicki Vortex were taking an elevator? Down to Kiran’s floors. He sighed and frowned in mild annoyance. Shouldn’t Zeke have known better? Shouldn’t someone else have told them not to bother Kiran down there? Well… It’d be a test of their mettle to be sure. If they could survive all that, Maxwell would certainly respect them, though he wondered if Kiran would.


He left the office, heading in the direction of the conference room as guards and other employees scurried around. One of them seemed to be watching some Western movie or something? As soon as a fellow guard with him saw where The Shape’s gaze went, he slapped his coworker around, telling him to get back to work and not slack.



“Sir! SIR!” Shouting, from one of the guards that worked surveillance around the city.


“Yes, what is it?” Maxwell asked, a little taken aback by the panicked tone the guard had.


“Boss, I don’t want to alarm you, but we NEED to get a team together ASAP. Look at this!” He showed Maxwell the screen of his phone, images of a collapsed building glowing from it. “We thought this building was some kind of Witchfinder store house for a while, and it got ripped down today. But not just ripped down! There was gunfire coming from inside earlier, like a firefight! We didn’t have any people able to actually witness the thing, but we really should send some people to take a look quickly.”


The Shape nodded in agreement. “Yes, we should. I think I’ll send some of our heavy hitters out to take a look. Hopefully Maeve and Zeke at least, maybe even Spiderblood. But we need to do a meeting first. Get some vehicles and equipment ready in the meantime.” The guard nodded and was about to leave, but before he did he handed Maxwell one last thing.


“Just got this today. Some corpo called Menagerie Tech is looking for a high level shapeshifter. Part of me is wondering if it’s that one from the park…” After his boss took the notes, the guard gave a quick bow of his head and went off to get everything in order for the investigation.


Maxwell entered the conference room of Shapeless, quickly punching in a text message to Kiran.


Zeke and Vicki Vortex went down to the labs. Please take it easy on them. And we need to meet upstairs now, got business to take care of.


He sent the text, taking a seat at the head of a long table, with gorgeous black marble on top, and the familiar black jaguar statue illuminated behind him. Maxwell pressed down a PA system button on the table and spoke.


“Maeve, Kiran, Zeke, Spiderblood, and all executives, please join me in the Conference Room now to discuss some urgent business, thank you.” He sighed and leaned back in the chair as he punched out one last text message, the meeting almost ready to start.


Cousin, the meeting’s almost ready. Let me know when you’re ready to join.


Sent.


__________________________________________________________________


The Resort


George, still in his office, gazed into a gold framed mirror, with white marble shelf underneath it. On the shelf sat a small box containing a pair of platinum cufflinks, and in his hands was a soft, light blue silk tie. As he finished tying the Windsor knot, the sounds of some kind of explosions rang out from some other part of the property. He felt his heart race as he returned to his desk to quickly pick up a Walther P5, slipping it into a holster underneath his black suit jacket.


As he left his office, a staff member ran at full sprint towards him. “Sir! The ahh… Guests have been… Sparring outside.”


George took the information in quickly and stifled the need to sigh. That was relieving to know it was only that. But by the sounds of it…


“Thank you for letting me know. Could you please make a call through to one of our construction contractors? And spread word to the staff that we’re going to remain closed a little while longer, so that we can get these repairs finished. If we have to cancel guest stays, go ahead and do it. Tell them we had some ‘unruly super guests’.”


The staff member gave a hesitant nod and rushed off to begin the damage control process. George took another moment to let himself be eased out of that anxiety he had felt. Today almost sounded like it was going to be quite terrible, but not so terrible as some kind of attack on himself and the heroes. Before he got to comfortable though, he felt his phone buzz. George pulled it out and took a quick glance over the contents of a text, before yet another sense of anxiety hit him.


It was the Attorney General.


He made his way down the halls of the resort, trying to make sure he was able to gather all others he needed to see. During this journey, he came across one in particular that was littered with room service carts. Sheri’s, he believed. He knocked on the door to see if she was in, but with no response coming, he decided she may be out, or unavailable.


The little journey continued until he came to Liz’s door. It had been a while since they’d spoken, perhaps now would be a good chance to check in with her. He was about to knock on the door until he heard talking inside, and the sound of… Kokomo? George knocked before opening the door to peer inside, greeted by floors covered in sand, tropical heat, and the strong scent of drinks typical to vacation spots with these attributes.


George gazed at the two in the room, Sheri and Liz. The drinks, several of which had been clearly polished off and left around the makeshift beach, were alcoholic. At quite an early hour. While the old man’s face was pleasant enough, there was an ever so slight shift in his eyes, a tiny narrowing as he made eye contact with Liz.


“I see you’ve both made yourselves quite comfortable, I’m pleased to see. I hope you have been enjoying your stay at the resort thus far.” Before either could get in another word, he had indicated with his hands back to the hallway.


“If you both have time, I hope you’d be able to join me and the others in the library. There are some matters I wish to discuss shortly.” He was about to close the door to continue gathering the others, but stopped for another brief moment, turning his gaze to Liz once more. “And Ms. Baker, I believe you and I should also have a private chat soon, when it’s convenient.” His eyes had briefly lingered again over the drinks, both around the room and in the super’s hand, before he close the door and continued his search.

__________________________________________________________________


Seemed like just as soon as Richard reached the kitchen, everyone else had disappeared. ‘Jemma’ to go deal with… Something? Right around the time some explosions started happening (apparently the sparring between Alex and Silver Fang?), so he guessed it was related to that. Cannonade, everyone’s favorite gravity wielding super, had also disappeared to go to the memorial no doubt, though it seemed a bit early for that still.


In the end, only Richard and Klaus had remained, but the two soon parted ways as well, probably for the best since Klaus seemed to have a lot on his mind anyways. Richard was about to head back to his room, but ended up running into George on the way back. “Oh, Mr. Carlisle, good morning.” He spoke with a little surprise, though admittedly he felt glad to see the old man again, he still hoped to get more answers out of him soon.



“Good morning Richard, how has your day been so far?” George responded politely.


Richard shrugged slightly and gave a bemused nod. “The other guests are a little… Unique, but it’s been good otherwise. Are you ready to head to the memorial?”


George nodded with a sigh before responding. “Yes, but there’s some matters to attend to first. I’d like you to join me and the others in the library quickly. There’s matters we need to quickly discuss.”


Richard nodded hesitantly, a little offput by George’s rather… Unsettled reaction? “Ahh, sure thing! I’ll shoot a quick text to Klaus, I think he’s still here. The others are… I think in that NAHLA guy’s lab? Maybe?” He quickly typed up a message to Klaus, telling him to meet in the library, before hitting send.


George gave a slight bow of his head in gratitude. “I appreciate it Richard, see you shortly.”

__________________________________________________________________


Moments later, a knock came from outside of Sairyn’s lab, with George peering in to those gathered, not crossing the threshold himself. “Pardon the interruption, but I’d like if you could all join me in the library. We have a matter to discuss quickly. Something I’d like your help with.”


He was about to turn away and leave before he noticed something on the shapeshifter’s lips… Red.


It appeared like it might be blood. George’s eyes quickly came to meet both Sairyn’s and Alex’s. He said nothing further, hoping they knew well enough to not make him need to talk with them. Time would tell of course, for now his best choice with this collection of supers…


Was to help them grow into something even greater.

__________________________________________________________________


George sat quietly in the library, in a large, red chair next to a fire. He’d momentarily picked up a book to pass the few moments he needed till the others would arrive. Wuthering Heights, sort of a macabre, miserable tale if he was being honest. But he felt a strange familiarity with it, like something in the eerie atmosphere of the book was reflected in the real world.


Terrorist attack at a diner, complete with super drugs and Frankenstein’s monster. A towering behemoth of rot and decay attacking Atlas City. The brutal murder of a super on live stream. A Witchfinder warehouse collapsing on the inhabitants.


He believed he hadn’t seen the dead wandering any moors yet, but that could still be yet to come for all he knew.

__________________________________________________________________


Memorial, Atlas City Beach:


From all around Cannonade there was shouts and cheers of excitement, a mixture of people calling out the hero’s name, along with other heaping praise. The memorial had yet to start, but already people were getting worked up, though at this exact moment more because they could feel safe.


More cheers erupted as some activity near the stage caught the attention of others. Seemed some other big names were here too, including Captain Valor, and none other than Backlash, The Baron, and the other hero to have ‘saved’ Atlas City: Albrecht von Richthofen.


Before Cannonade truly had time to react though, there were men in black suits starting to make a perimeter around them, almost as if they were about to be arrested, until they could see who was running at them from the stage.


Gordon Ford. The President of the United States.


“Cannonade!!!” He shouted in glee. “Oh I’m so glad you came here to join us! Truly, Atlas City and America owe you a great debt!” Along with the overjoyed, yet still incredibly boring President, were several other figures. A woman of African American heritage, in about her 40’s or 50’s, with curly dark hair, and an olive green power suit on. She seemed serious, somber, perhaps a little cold, but there was a sense of sympathy and mourning about her. Claudia Burke, Attorney General of the USA.


There was also another man with them, much younger than either of them in only his 30’s. He was tall, quite handsome, and had blonde hair parted to one side and slicked back. He had a smile that could put a Kennedy to shame, but the air of a man who’d be comfortable in just about any setting that could exist. Calm, collected, and very much in control of himself. This was Victor Covistic, the Secretary of Defense of the United States.


“Cannonade, pleasure to meet you, and happier to see you made it today.” Victor spoke in a relaxed, but pleased tone as he offered a handshake to the gravity wielding hero.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss
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2.50 INK

"I'm gonna say it... I'M GONNA SAY IT!"

"Say what?"

"The F-BOMB! I'm gonna drop it, I swear I'm gonna do it!"

"No, don't do it."

"I'mma do it!"

"No, don't!"

"No one can stop me, I swear I'm gonna do it! I'm gonna say it!"

"No!"

"On live tv!"

"NO!"

"I am! I'm gonna say it! I'm gonna drop the F-Bomb!"

"PLEASE!"

"Everyone's gonna hear it! I have to say it! You MADE me say it!"

"NO, I DIDN'T!"

"You did! And after, I say it, I'm gonna make sure everybody blames you! HEY EVERYONE!" the crimson-clad villain known as F-Bomb called out. "FuuuuUUUUUUUUUGH-!" he cried out getting punched in the face and sent flying offscreen past the now relieved civilian.

The Grinning Gremlin chuckled to himself, glad that he thwarted the loudmouth villain. "Hohoho! You've taken a tumble! Be careful of yours words you inconsiderate bumble!" the pointy-eared purveyor of justice giggled. The last he would laugh for today, for even he knew when to be somber at a day of national mourning. A long line of cars had begun to overtake the busy Carolinian roads, traffic was stopped up all throughout the street, all the way up to the interstate.

The Grinning Gremlin sighed and scratched his dark blue chin, noting all the people still likely on edge, made more irritable by the slow moving traffic. But they would all be there in time. In time to honor the poor, lost souls on that horrible day. None of them would forget. Not the many dignitaries present, not the vast of supers in attendance, and certainly not the populace of Atlas City.

Least of all, Mayor Gideon Gauss. He could hear the faint cheers amongst the chorus of noise outside his armored tinted windows. It gave him a slight smile. It wasn't always loud but it was there. The support of the people. A power greater than any other. If left unchecked it had limitless potential, moreso than any heat ray or supersonic flight and that was because those who wielded it didn't mindlessly treat it like a toy. They valued it as an asset. A resource that was to be carefully managed and utilized when most convenient.

Thanks to the traffic, he would arrive "fashionably late" or whatever lackluster dimwits without any sense of efficiency would like to call it. But today, it suited his purposes just fine. It gave him more time to handle other business he was putting off for some time now and catch up with family...

Gideon glanced at his phone as the notification popped up.

"Cousin, the meeting’s almost ready. Let me know when you’re ready to join."

"I'll be there in three minutes, little cousin. Forgive me, but I'll have to scan in," he texted back, barely looking down at his phone as the drone unit in front of him activated it's scanner, displaying a gridlike pattern over his face, and soon enough, the rest of his body.

And in Club Shapeless...an identical double of Atlas City's mayor was displayed, holographically slouching in one of the Club's many cushioned seats.

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 Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow Character Portrait: Scourge
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100.00 INK

The Time Tunnels

Outside the cracked glass that occasionally dotted the walls of the time tunnels sat the Outer Chronoclasm, a realm of pure chaos and destruction. A black void of a realm, constantly moving with unseen forces and energies that few could make sense of, and fewer could even conceive of surviving. It was a torrent of utter destruction, the likes of which even the roaches had learned long ago to respect.

Two soldier roaches guarded this tunnel, waiting for reinforcements to arrive and do a changing of guard. Word had already spread that a massive assault on the tunnels had cost them hundreds of laborers, at least. Work on their war ships would be slowed to a grinding halt as a result, and the Queen… Still living, but the utter disrespect she’d suffered at the hands of those filthy interlopers, it was inconceivable to the roaches, and they would have their revenge.

The two guards chattered and clicked in their insectoid tones, nearly mimicking machines. Topics of conversation had varied from their beloved Queen, the attack earlier, the tastiest fallen comrades they’d consumed, and much more. But soon their talking stopped, having noticed something odd out of their peripherals. Something had been moving strangely, coming from… Behind the glass?

The quiet of the hall was erased by an explosion of noise; glass bursting open, the tinkling and crashing sound of it hitting the floor, the mighty roar of the chaos beyond the glass.

Winds whipped around the hall, threatening to pull the two roach guards to a fate that might be worse than death. A heavy thud was heard, causing them to turn their gazes back towards the now destroyed window. There was a figure standing there.

Twelve feet tall.
Muscular.
Bipedal.
Carrying a sword.
Covered head to toe in armor.
Surrounded by a blue, mist like light.


The armor was shaped intentionally to mimic that of what one would see on a knight, but the material was far from simply ‘medieval’. It was more like a patchwork of a thousand war zones, across thousands of years. Some of it bore the steely look of an ancient warrior, some of it gleamed as though from some far flung, space-age time. And other parts still looked as if it could have been stone.

All of it appeared to have severe cracks throughout it, but they were fused together, like thick scars or fissures. The same was true of the sword in fact. It must have been shattered into thousands of pieces, yet here it stood in one, monolithic piece. A testament to its long journey. And to its wielder.

And the blue light, a strange substance that seemed to be both at once a sort of intangible mist, and light. It glowed a beautiful, vibrant, soft tone of blue, and when touched it might seem as though it were air, or a cloud. At least that is how it currently would feel…

Whoever this individual was, he was what the bugs had seen on the other side. Out of the Chronoclasm. The roaches tried to respond quickly, one opening fire on him nearly immediately, landing every shot on the intruder.

The shots did nothing to the man. He turned to the roach that had shot him, and sent a mighty fist into its skull, colliding the creature’s entire body into the ground beneath him.

The other now began to open fire as it tried to flee, but the towering intruder was able to catch it in only a few mere steps. The knight wrapped a hand around the creature’s neck, lifting it off the ground, before slamming it back down into it. Once. Twice. Thrice.

He lifted it back up in front of him, bringing the roach to eye level with him.

“*klik* Pitiful…. Creature? *kilk* Man… Human! What *klik* ever you are… You cannot… *klik* defeat the Roaches! We are… *klik* the masters…. Of the End of Time!”

The hulking figure was silent a few moments, before a soft, amused sigh could be heard from within his mask. “Well I guess today isn’t your day then, because I’m from the Beginning of it.” Bright blue light surrounded the man and the roach, as he pierced his left fist through the carapace like chest of the Roach, and pulled at its head with his right, removing it with ease.

As he dropped the corpse of the roach to the ground, he walked back to the other that shot first at him, his feet landing heavily on the ground, body swirling with the bright blue, misty light that followed him wherever he walked. It began to pour forth from him, surrounding the other roach and lifting it into the air, screeches erupting from it as it felt its body being crushed down by some kind of incredible pressure.

“I will only ask this once, ‘pitiful creature’. Where is the Artifact?”

The roach looked to him, what little its eyes could show were showing fear. “It was *klik* taken by a human, to another time! We don’t know where *klik* it has gone!” The words were sputtered out as the mountain of a man stood before it, the blue light enveloping the roach pulled it closer and closer to him. “You *klik* fool… You think you can *klik* defeat us? Who are *klik* you to think you can defeat what has *klik* already passed!”

A moment of silence passed as the tall figure held his sword out, feeling the weight of it as the blue light swirled around them. “I’ve fought worse.” His voice was monotone as he lifted the sword and cleaved the roach from top to bottom, it’s thick armor offering up no resistance.

The body fell to the floor, and while the blue light continued to swirl, the giant knight quickly went over his next plan of action. It sounded as though someone either very stupid, or very unaware had gotten their hands on the artifact. Either way, he needed to figure out where they had gone, and quickly. Otherwise…

His thoughts were cut off by the sound of approaching roaches, a group of twenty or so who quickly spotted him, and the remains of their comrades. They lifted their weapons to him, and the blue light cascaded towards them.

No time to waste then.

_________________________________________________________________________


The Resort

Richard had been on his way to return to the library when he heard some loud noises coming from another part of the resort again. He couldn’t place exactly where it was, but it sounded like there had been some crackling? Like electricity?

He passed by the buffet dining hall, stumbling upon Devon who seemed to be taking advantage of his own coffee routine. But he seemed kind of tired, almost as if he’d had a rough night or something. At least mentally. Richard chose to put it aside and gave a wave to the German. “Hey, George wants to see us in the library. You should come along.”

Richard continued on towards the library, passing through the kitchen first, and once again stumbling upon someone, Henry this time. Strange, he also seemed a little on the tired side. Had others been having trouble sleeping or something? Might be a bit of projection on his part though, he doubted Henry had the same reasons to be losing sleep as himself. “Hey Henry, sorry to interrupt you, but George wants to see us all in the library, you should come with.” With that, he exited once again, Henry in tow, and Devon gravitating in the same direction.


_________________________________________________________________________


George heard a soft, English voice pipe up in the library, and upon lifting his eyes from the pages of his book was greeted by Klaus, a man who had the most interesting timing of any man he’d ever met. He smiled back to Klaus, giving a nod in greeting.

“Good morning Klaus, and yes I’m doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances. Thank you for asking. How are you managing? I expect this has taken quite a toll on everyone.” In fact, George had been weighing that on his mind considerably. He’d speak to the others as a group, but felt it was time to offer them some much needed mental respite; someone to talk to.

Before anything else could be said, a flurry of noise erupted from another part of the resort. Sairyn’s library. George furrowed his brow and let out the softest sigh one could imagine, the tiniest loss of composure he could muster given his growing agitation. “Excuse me a moment Klaus.” George briefly exited the library and made his way to the lab.

On the floor in a heap was Sairyn, Pendleton, and Yue. Standing in the room was a nearly shirtless Alex, and some ball he was holding in his hands. George looked to all of them, brow furrowed slightly, eyes that uncomfortable narrowness of someone ready to scold. But rather than do that, he was very simple, brief, and commanding.

“Library, now. Everyone.”

_________________________________________________________________________


The team was now gathered together in the library, everyone capable of arriving there at least. George was seated back in his seat, and Klaus had remained in his for the time being, still enjoying the steaming cup of coffee he had.

“Now that you’re all here, we have some matters to discuss, namely the memorial, and a… New Mission that’s come to us. But before we begin, how about you all update me on what’s been happening today. Seems you’ve all run a little more loose and wild than I had anticipated.”

His voice carried a little sternness to it, but was not cold or unkind. It was almost like a parent who had come home to find their children drawing all over work documents. Of course, blowing up a chunk of the property was a little more expensive to fix.

_________________________________________________________________________


Club Shapeless: Atlas City

Maxwell smirked upon reading the response he’d received from Gideon, but chose to disregard the remark. They’d both had their independent successes, but now they were going to have to rely on each other, work together to get what they wanted out of Atlas City, and potentially beyond.

As each member entered the room, he would greet them with an affirming nod, though under his mask he was raising an eyebrow at Spiderblood’s entrance. What were they riding? Was that a dog in a spider costume? He decided not to address it, there had been weirder things to have happened here.

And Scourge… That was a mountain of a man, something he hadn’t anticipated seeing so soon (and in such good condition) from Kiran. But here he stood: The Shape’s response to ‘Balthazar’, or whatever those Witchfinder nuts called the monster they’d bought.

“Thank you for joining me everyone. We have some business to discuss, some of it being… Breaking news. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that what is discussed in this room stays in this room, but I’m going to out of care for our mutual needs.”

His eyes flicked over to Zeke, Kiran, and Scourge before continuing. “At times I believe it is essential to remind everyone that a betrayal of each other is a betrayal of me. I expect you all to protect each other as much as you would protect me, and our business operations.”


_________________________________________________________________________


The Memorial: Atlas City

Victor followed Cannonade with his eyes as Cannonade passed by with very little regard for their welcomers. He smirked. “There’s that famous confidence I’ve heard about.” He chuckled, speaking mainly to himself and the Attorney General.

She looked on with uncertainty and discomfort. There were other words she could think of than ‘confidence’ that would be impolite to voice out loud. “And you’re thinking about trying to invite them to work for us?” She asked in a tone trying to mask her incredulity.

Victor nodded and smiled. “At the very least inviting. Last I heard they were missing a team, so perhaps we can help them out.”

“If you say so…” Was all the AG could mutter back.

The President briskly followed Cannonade, as did his entourage, as he attempted to make friendly overtures to the hero. “Again, it’s so good to have you here! We’re inviting some of the heroes who were on the beach that day to speak some words of encouragement to the crowd, is that something you’d be up for? We can absolutely get a time slot in for you!”

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: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow Character Portrait: Scourge
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The Resort

George placed a hand down on the book, stopping Henry and the others from writing anything else. He gently thumbed back to the page with the symbols and carefully studied them. A moment of silence fell over the room before the old man sat back up in his chair and looked to the group.

"Finding this woman is a top priority. Ladies and gentlemen, I am asking you to use all the skills and abilities at your disposal to find this Polarity, or Isotropic. I need you all to capture her alive, and this... 'Artifact', I need you to obtain it intact. It may be that we need to destroy it, but I want to avoid even the tiniest mistakes until we have a clearer idea of what it is."

He looked to Sairyn a moment, as to several of the others gathered. "Mr. Pendrake, I would appreciate your talents in collecting whatever data you can gleam about this woman. She may have connections to the mystery soldiers from the beach, or not. As for everyone else, whatever you can offer in the search for her, you're welcome to provide that assistance."

"What's got you so spooked about this 'artifact' Mr. Carlisle?" Richard asked bluntly, eyes searching George for the tiniest clue, the slightest tell, that could reveal some of the knowledge he was so intently holding back. "You've seen these symbols before? Where? And what do they mean?"

George remained as stoic as before. "Unfortunately, none of those questions will be of any help to you all right now. You need to stay focused on the tasks at hand, finding this woman, and the artifact. Not to mention the other tasks at hand."

_________________________________________________________________________


Club Shapeless: Atlas City

The Shape gave an appreciative nod to Gideon. "Your assistance is greatly appreciated Mr. Gauss. And an internal investigation could be very much warranted, though I recommend a cautious approach. If it becomes too obvious that we're looking for Witchfinder agents, or people working for their suppliers, it could drive them more into hiding."

Maxwell chuckled slightly before continuing. "Of course, again, time is of the essence. We need to find information, evidence, leads. The Witchfinders, much as I disdain their antics, aren't what we're worried about. Uncovering their supplier is our goal. Once we do that... Well the rest should be evident."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Scourge Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Atlas City, North Carolina, Memorial Day, The Beach




The trio of chimes from his helmet HUD is what first caught his attention, his head swinging to the left as he watched the empty beach. A warning about a spatial anomaly some eight yards away. Alas...
Nothing.
Though his HUD kept chiming at him for a time, eventually it quieted down, and Nebulae Recluse huffed before resuming his walk. The sunlight and gentle crash and rush of the waves were soothing enough, and as Recluse looked out over the coast, he let himself smile. The memorial was today, and while he was wary to go and take part in the proceedings of the event, he certainly was enjoying the lack of people milling about.
His armor shifted silently as he walked along, the gloves and heeled 'boots' creaking and crackling with faint bits of static electricity.

He grunted his dissent at the sparks and cracks, rolling his eyes before simply continuing along. The pier was quickly falling into the distance behind him, and as Recluse continued to meander his way away from civilization behind him, he stretched his arms and took a glance over his shoulder.
No one following him yet, it seemed like.
Which was appreciated.

"Hm. Chart route to ah... Hm. Cancel that. I'll find my way." He sighed as the HUD AI chirped an affirmative, and once again went silent. To any outside observer, the sleek blue, black, and cyan armor pivoted on a heel and began walking inland, returning to the city. More than a few minutes were spent silently walking, chuckling when some people would stop, point, and then turn to dart off in another direction. Others would simply ignore him and keep walking, perhaps unaware of his infamy, or uncaring of it. It didn't matter regardless, as he eventually found the alleyway he wanted.
A few quick turns, a brisk climb up a fire escape, and warping of said fire escape within a field of stars and a purple-gold-orange cloud of space dust, and Recluse was where he wanted to be. Namely on the roof of his apartment building. He walked to the edge of the roof, humming some small song under his breath as his hands came up and tapped along the back of his helmet.

The HUD AI chirped at him again, flashing a quick display before it quieted and went dark, his vision blocked by the no-longer operating helmet. There was a quick pop, a hiss, and a gasp as the piece of armor came off his head.
It came to rest on the edge of the roof, the raised heels of his boots slowly smoothing out across the soles of the boots. He was high enough that he was able to pass a curious eye over the nearby Club Shapeless.
His eyes roamed over the building, taking especial note of the relatively obvious scorch marks in the parking lot from a recent... Explosion. Y'mari popped a laugh at the memory. Ahhh...

He shrugged and rolled his neck, leaning on the edge of the roof and elected to simply watch the Club, a sort of bored bird watching. He had absolutely nothing to do today, and if the other night was anything to go by, the club was bound to be interesting.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow
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#, as written by Nulix
Cannonade squinted at the president. "If it would help... first, I need to show you something." Cannonade rose a hand to their hip and from a pocket pulled out a glass phone. The touchscreen came to life with a gloved finger press and the screen went to twitter. It was open to an account named smallpuppetsbigd.

“I see that most of the replies to my tweets are about my mother, Anastasiya. They‘re mostly dirty comments. Dammit, people, stop talking about my mother's chest and want to do her!” Read the first tweet

“Yes, I know she has fucking gigantic knockers. Every time check my Twitter, I have to go through this shit. It's getting old”

“Really wish people would stop posting comments about my mother on my Twitter. Doesn't help that my mother post her NSFW pictures on my Twitter. Seriously doesn't that woman have her own damn account?”

This was followed by an extremely strange photo of a pink haired gnome-esque woman with, as described, gigantic knockers.

"Sorry," Cannonade said, glancing over to the screen they'd shown the American president wrong page. Cannonade flicked their finger to the twitter homepage, where pages and pages of concerned tweets over the attacks were laid out before them. "People are scared. We are the response but right now we don't have any answers... not to any of this."

***

Spiderblood remained silent but watched the scene with great interest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway 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 Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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The Resort

Richard interjected again to draw George's attention away from the increasingly anxious Akiko, though she did her best to hide that. "The more we know about what's going on, the more helpful we can be. Besides, you have us working for you, so there really isn't any reason to hide things like this from us."

George's eyes darted to Richard again, and the old man let out a soft sigh. "I'm afraid you're mistaken. You are working for me, certainly, but I've reasons enough to worry you could be working for others as well. Namely, the Soldiers in Black. Furthermore, there are other items of business to attend to. Whatever information I have for on this 'artifact', knowing it now won't be of any use to you. If you're going to persist on the issue, I will tell you all more about it. Later. For now, we've other matters to attend to."

Richard, arms crossed, rapped his right hand's fingers across his upper arm. He wasn't entirely pleased with the answer, but perhaps George was right. Maybe it would be better to hear it all later? "Other matters?" He repeated back in query.

George nodded, before looking to both Sairyn and Akiko. He'd noticed the Tinker was being represented by an IV pole mounted screen. The old man felt... Less than enthusiastic about that. But Sairyn was at least 'attending' the meeting, so George supposed it was best to just go along with it. "Mr. Pendrake, we can worry about the Polarity matters later. I certainly believe there are better ways your skills can be utilized in that search, so before we worry about it I'll do some information gathering of my own. I'll make sure you, and everyone else, is immediately informed when we do have more tangible information. Right now however, I have work that you could be of more immediate assistance with. Your NAHLA comrades as well, for that matter. Miss Bong, I will appreciate your assistance in the search for Polarity as well, but the same applies: your detective skills could be of use on this immediate issue. And... We can discuss the artifact later."

Having clarified those matters, he continued with the business at hand. "I received word from the Attorney General just before I called you all in for this meeting. There's been an incident within the city, a warehouse collapsed in on itself, under rather suspicious circumstances. The warehouse was apparently being used as a storage space for weapons used by the Witchfinder Generals. The AG has asked for our assistance in this matter. She wishes to keep this matter more discreet, to avoid public concern, and because of other concerns she has. Concerns of potential 'leaks' within NAHLA."

"Mr. Pendrake, I'll let you and the other NAHLA members decide how you wish to participate in this, though I will say that the AG personally thought your technical skills could be of use as a 'handler', if you will. If you feels that's the best use of your skills, I'll make sure everyone is equipped with the necessary communications equipment. As for the rest of you all, you may either attend to this investigation, or join me at the Memorial Service. I'll leave that up to your discretion."

George raised his hand before anyone could speak to call for a final brief moment of their attention. "Ah yes, and Mr. Pendrake, you've reminded me. Given the circumstances, and all that has occurred, I've taken the liberty of calling in an employee of mine to work with you all. He's a doctor of sorts, someone you can all speak to, open up to. Just so we're clear, it's entirely optional whether or not any of you speak with him, but I hope you will consider it. Perhaps along with Mr. Pendrake's assistance, he will be able to offer some peace and respite from all that has occurred. Though I must ask everyone, let's all be respectful of what is a very personal matter." He spoke to the group, though the last part had particularly been intended for Sairyn.

"Now then, unless there are any further questions, ladies and gentlemen, let's get to work."

_________________________________________________________________________


The Memorial

The President felt incredibly uncomfortable at seeing the rather personal matters of interest the Gravity Wielding hero had unwittingly informed him of, but tried to maintain his composure. He began to try to come up with some kind of a response, but feebly stumbled over his words. Cannonade saw a hand gently clasp itself onto the President's shoulder, giving him an easing, reassuring pat on the back. The hand belonged to the Secdef, who grinned confidently and seemingly unafraid.

"I wouldn't say that, not at all! Sure, we can't really get into specifics here, but we do have leads, enough leads we can start pursuing. Perhaps even with a little... Aggression." He sighed slightly as he looked around at the crowds, taking in the mixture of emotions that overwhelmed the people. "America got a sucker punch to the back of the head. Unfortunately for the person punching, they aren't counting on our ability to punch back with about a million times the force. When push comes to shove... Well let's just say our enemies won't be getting back up from this one."

He turned his gaze to Cannonade, a look of sincere concern, not so much for the hero, but for the people they needed to inspire right now. "What do you think though? What would you need to hear to feel that 'we got this' feeling?"

Meanwhile at the stage, Captain Valor waved to the gathered crowds, dismissing a few attempts at autographs by (as politely as he could) reminding the requesters that today was about the victims, not about fame and flashiness. The emcee worked to get the playlist set up and time properly to coincide with the speeches, double and triple checking to make sure they had their very finest patriotic tunes set up for the right moments. It was a mixture of music for mourning the fallen, and empowering and emboldening the American people, letting them know they were ready to fight back in full force.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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20.25 INK

Henry arrived at the Memorial Grounds, not too far from the beach where the Beasts attacked and time once unwound. All seemed relatively normal now in the company of heroes from across the United States and many from the world over. Strange sight, it was too see many heroes all gathered in the same place to honor perhaps what was one of the greatest disasters to befall the world in the modern age. He couldn't help but wonder how many other teams were looking into the Beast incident.

He spotted Captain Valor among the many heroes gathered as well as the two heroes who helped strike the final blow on the Beast, Backlash of ACHI and his own team(?)'s Cannonade. There were other faces as well, both recognizable and unbeknownst to him, but there was also an influx of civilians. Many from Atlas City made their way to at the very least pay their respects for the city's fallen even if they couldn't remain to watch the rest of the proceedings.

Henry didn't know how long he wanted to stay, himself but he at least wanted to pay respects. And meet back with some family.

"Henry!" a couple of voices called out. Several familiar figures had spotted him, bringing a wide smile to his face. "Marshal! Anette! What's-" he began before being greeted by a tight embrace from them both. ...And a pummeling against his leg from tiny fists.

"Thank God you're alright," Anette sighed with a somber smile.

"Glad you could make it, cuz," Marshal laughed with relief. "You been so flaky lately, I wasn't sure you'd show up. I know you been eating well. You wouldn't even show up if you didn't have...what, three breakfasts?"

"By the way..." Anette smiled, squeezing her hug tighter. "...where's my car?"

"..."

"Henry?"

"So...about that," Henry couldn't help but laugh a little. "There's good news and there's bad news."

"Yo, for real? Maybe tell us later, 'cause today's-" Marshal began.

"Nah, hold up. Lemme finish. It's busted but I can fix it. It's all on me," Henry answered. Better yet, if y'all wanna upgrade? I might be able to get the hookup."

"...Are you serious?" Anette asked after a moment of silence.

"New job perks," Henry shrugged.

"Put a caper on this man, he out here dodging bullets," Marshal laughed, punching Henry in the shoulder before he could roll his eyes. "Come on, we got our seats saved," he went on, he and Anette beginning to lead Henry towards the many rows of chairs. The majority of people were just chatting amongst themselves. Loud laughter, raucous sobbing, fears and hopes for the future. An entire web of human emotion was spread across the whole of Atlas City today.

Of course the kids were more interested in the wide variety of heroes present. On the way to their seats, Henry had to feel his pant leg pulled every two seconds to alert him if one of their favorites showed up.

"Ruby Robot!"

"Stunt-Man!"

"The Sub-Woofer!"

Those three and many more were pointed out to him, whether he wanted them to be or not...but he couldn't help but be thankful. There was a tension in the air. More than he would like to admit. The fight at the beach felt like it happened just an hour ago. All that passed time vanished in an instant, it seemed. The levity of the kids, the warmth of family could both break through the veil. But only for an instant. Atlas City had lost it's unwavering faith that someone would come to protect them from whatever calamity befalls them. It was up to many heroes present today to ensure a loss like this is never suffered again.

"So, what's this new job, man?" Marshal asked, breaking Henry away from his thoughts.

"I'll...I'll tell you later," Henry replied. "I don't mean to keep in secret it just hasn't...it's like..."

"Like an NDA sort of thing?" Anette asked.

"Exactly!" Henry pointed at her, grateful for the reprieve from trying to explain any further.

"Dodged another one..." Marshal chided, under his breath. This time he got the punch to the shoulder

Setting

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Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Silentium
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Henry and his family sat down in their seats after some maneuvering through the crowd. It was almost like a dream, seeing so many costumes at once. Surreal and exciting to see so many heroes gathered in one place, it brought Henry back to his childhood. There was so much chatter going about, so many simultaneous conversations, by the time they'd all settled in their seats, they could barely hear themselves.

There were nearly as many people standing standing as there were seated, which was to say; near countless. A sea of people not only from Atlas City or the US, but all around the world. Apart from the spectacle of all the gathered heroes, the atmosphere remained as melancholy as a memorial should. The skies themselves were cloudy and thunder could be heard roaring in the distance, but they gave way to no rain.

An elderly husband and wife took a seat next to Henry on his right, bickering a bit between themselves. What they discussed was hard to glean, with all the other noise drowning it out and Henry had no interest in prying unless things decided to get out of hand. Fortunately that was not the case as another senior citizen sat down on their right. He spoke calmly and whatever he said, he seemed to talk some sense into them and that was that.

Or was it? Henry had no intention to speak to either of the people unless they spoke to him, but he had begun to get get a sinking feeling in his stomach. He turned to face the elderly trio to find them staring back at him. The old man of the couple gave a smarmy chuckle and that was enough for Henry to give a derisive sigh and stare at the ground.

"Why the sullen look, my boy!" the man spoke in a heavy Mediterranean accent, his voice breaking through as clear as day, despite the myriad of chatter. "A bit ungrateful, considering we practically took you in..."

"I seem to remember you two trying to get me killed. Soemthing along those lines..." Henry replied, managing to convey as disinterested a tone as he could in a whisper. "What are you doing here anyway. Thought you guys retired."

"Retirement is often boring," the old man wheezed. "Besides...we like to go where we please," he continued, his eyes wandering over towards a heroine alighting to the ground, lingering on her as she walked amongst the crowd. His wife promptly drew a fountain pen and jabbed him in the leg with it. "Why you withering old..." the old man spat through gritted teeth, grabbing her wrist and starting to squeeze it as tight as he could.

Henry glanced around to check if anyone was watching the scene unfold, but it fortunately(?) it seemed most were too preoccupied to notice the old couple's quick descent into a ludicrous amount of violence the likes of which one would see on a Tom and Jerry short. The old woman, her accent similarly Mediterranean commented amidst their struggles. "We did come here for a reason. There's something you should be made aware of urgently."

At this, Henry took a moment to drop his standoffish behavior regarding the two. Much as it would be in character, they wouldn't come down here to simply pester him about something trivial. What happened on the beach would and should concern them as well, after all. And he figured whatever they dropped by to say regarded just that.

"If you've got valuable information, say so...Otherwise-,"

"Yes, yes, I know. Just listen," the old woman hushed him. "Whatever happened two days ago has stirred the pot so to speak. What kicked off in the forties was but the prologue. What happened a few days ago has set you all into the first chapter."

"Is there a less vague way I can interpret that?"

"Eyes are going to be on this place now, my boy," the old man continued, finally wrestling away the pen from his leg (which appeared otherwise fine aside from an ink stain or two) now that the subject had changed. "Not just from the styx, but the stars. Before and beyond the Manifold Mirror. You should know that more than anyone what that means. With it comes both good and bad tidings."

"Lemme guess...mostly the bad?"

"Whatever veil clouded this planet has long since lifted," the other old man chimed in. He had a different accent than the others., Henry couldn't quite place it, but he'd recognized it instantly. He nodded at this one, with a bit more respect than the other two. He had darker skin, a stern scowl, a beak of an upper lip to help accentuate the near permanent frown etched across his face. "We can only do so much. We have our own to attend to after all."

"Right now we're doing all we can to get to the bottom of whatever's exactly happening," Henry noted, somewhat disappointed, resigned to the fact that whatever the bigger picture was, these three were unable or unwilling to spill any more than they had already.

"You have time, Macro-Nite. Perhaps you all will rise to the occasion, perhaps not. But you'll need to if you want to survive," the other old man stated, as he and the other two senior citizens sat up. "You all have that potential. Be better than us. Succeed."

"Yes, yes, be careful..." the old woman added, snappily. It was clear she and her partner were ready to make their leave. "Oh and something else you may want to keep an eye on..." she seemed to suddenly remember. "There have been some rumblings near Mt. Etna. Perhaps it's nothing to worry about, but considering the state of the world..."

Henry looked to the ground again, with a heavy sigh and nodded. Thinking of all the people here, he couldn't have bee the only one they deemed to warn. But something he felt, made the messages they'd passed on feel significant. He couldn't quite place it, but it made him feel better about the group George had assembled. As if it were the right choice after all. As if heading back to Atlas City in the first place was the right decision.

A loud din of the thunder rolled by, startling a few in attendance but once again it gave way to know rain. A pair of eagles darted across the sky out of sight and as Henry had expected the couple who had sat next to him previously had gone. The other old man was left behind. At least for now.

"Sorry about those two. I followed them to mediate and...I think it turned out pretty well, wouldn't you say?" he asked. "Good luck, Macro-Nite," he winked with a thumbs up.

"Look! Sun's out again! I told you it wasn't gonna rain!" he had heard his little cousin Tae exclaim to her father. Sure enough the sun had broken through the clouds and the second old man...nowhere in sight. Henry looked up and leaned back in his chair.

Times ahead would be tough. But at least here, at the memorial, he'd get a chance to relax and pay respects.

***

"Target en route..." Silentium registered internally, his communication reaching across continents to at present unknown party via encrypted signal. "Getting into position now. As quick and clean as I'd like this to be. With this many supers around it won't be possible. Today, we'll have to play the long game, won't we Mr. Carlisle?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow
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"Right, so...I can't stay for much longer, but in addition to holding off any prying eyes for as long as I can, I may be able to provide additional assistance. Not that any of you lack in competence, but it would ease my own state of mind to send one of my own in with the rest of you." Gideon's hologram slowly phased out of sight as the device emitting him began to rattle and shake.

Soon, a swarm of grainy silver sand seemed to swim from beneath the floor. All converging on the holographic emitter and quickly forming into a sleek, vaguely humanoid exterior..at least form the torso up. It lacked legs, opting to instead hover silently above the floor by utilizing some sort of anti-gravity array. The blue light of the hologram emitter now acting as a singular eye.

"A bit cliché to deem it, 'State of the Art' but the acquisition of Nanomachia Ltd. a few years back proved to be well worth the trouble. And given that I've spent a good month or more ironing out the flaws in their designs piece by piece, I daresay it's quite a bit more advanced than your average military grade war-mech,"[color] Gauss chuckled, his voice emitting clearly through the robot's vocal array. [color=goldenrod]"That's all the time I have for now. Infiltrax will make itself useful, I can assure you of that much."

With that, Gauss voice faded out, leaving his creation to sit impassively, awaiting for the start of the group's mission.

***

"Mayor Gauss, we've arrived," Gideon's driver alerted him. It wasn't long before the Mayor stepped outside and stretched his legs a bit. After a lengthy limo ride in the midst of traffic, he was more than happy to finally set foot outside once again. Especially among the people of his city and honored guests. From the visitors from the Nation's Capital to the dignitaries from across the sea, it almost brought a smile to his face to see them all gathered here to honor those that had fallen in Atlas City's greatest disaster.

"So many grieving parents. Too many died too young, Diane," he sighed to his secretary.

"Then it will be our job to give those poor souls a legacy their loved ones would be proud of, sir," she answered back succinctly.

"Indeed. Upon the ashes of this soul-crushing loss, the foundations for Atlas City's brightest future start today. ...I think I may use that in the speech."

"Sounds like a plan, sir," Diane gave an immediate thumbs up. "Would you like me to see to the accommodations of the President, sir?"

"It's like you've read my mind. Please, so do, Diane," Gideon nodded, as another pair of feet stepped out of the limousine behind him. A small boy with blonde hair and a tiny suit. He clutched a Lone Star toy tightly. "You alright, Ben?"

"Will we see Phaser here? O-or the Gamma Guard?" the boy, Ben asked sheepishly.

"Maybe after the ceremony, son," Gideon assured, patting him on the back. "For now, let's find our seats."

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 Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow Character Portrait: Scourge Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Club Shapeless: Atlas City
Maxwell chuckled slightly at Scourge’s response, nodding in affirmation. “I have every faith you’re all the most capable people that could be put to this task. Just ‘pull carefully’ with this one. Weeds can grow back if any root is left behind. We need to make absolutely sure we get every last root in our grasp first. Then we can rip them out, and toss them in a bonfire.”


Things began to near their end, with Gideon making his final remarks. “Thank you Mayor Gauss, I’ll be sure to put this to good use.” Maxwell said in regards to the automaton his cousin had leant to them. As Gideon’s form disappeared, the others began to ready themselves to leave, with Maeve leading the way.


After his chair lightly shook from the press of her finger, The Shape rose a hand to stop her. “Hold on, there’s one last matter I need to address.” He swiped across his phone again, pulling something else up onto the wall screen. An email this time, one that appeared to have been written for quite a variety of recipients.


The sender was a corporation called Menagerie Tech.


“Apparently this company, Menagerie Tech, has had an issue lately with a ‘lost asset’. They’ve requested assistance from just about everyone they felt was safe to ask in this matter. The asset they’re looking for in specific is some kind of shape shifter.”


Under his mask, Maxwell allowed for a slight smirk. “There’s no doubt of quite a handsome reward for helping reunite them with their lost ‘property’, but businesses like ours have more things to consider than money. If you come across this shape shifter, I ask you to do what you can to ensure it ends up back here at Shapeless instead.”


The Shape looked to all others present. “That’s all from me for now. If you need anything else feel free to ask now. Otherwise, you can head to the warehouse now.”



__________________________________________________________________



The Memorial


Before leaving the resort, George had made sure to get Devon’s ‘blueprint’ put into a secure area where it could be researched later. The object was strange, something he’d never encountered before. But based on the discussion of the strange interdimensional travel, he was allowing himself to have a small amount of optimism that this could be a potential breakthrough in their fight. It would remain to be seen, but hope was an important tool, one they were all in need of.


Atlas City finally came into sight again, striking George with a strange sense of foreignness, but also nostalgia. It had only been a few days ago, and yet it felt like years. The old man continued to gaze out through the window of the 2025 Rolls Royce Limo he and Richard both sat in the back of.


Richard adjusted his tie while taking a quick glance at George. The old man seemed deep in thought, understandable given the circumstances. The White Death was also in a slight trance, thinking back to the day the ‘Beast’ had attacked. Standing on the balcony, looking out at the ocean, seeing that towering mound of death… It was like it had never even happened, like it wasn’t real. How could it have been? And yet, here they were, going to a memorial for the people who died from it, the ones that couldn’t be saved.


“How does the suit fit ?” George asked quietly of Richard.


Richard nodded an affirmation before he spoke. “Quite well actually, little surprised you had something in my size.”


George chuckled slightly, trying to keep up a positive exterior, hiding the sense of melancholy growing as they drew closer and closer to the memorial area. “Actually we just work quite fast. Some things can’t be anticipated for, so the only alternative you have is to reach a solution as quick as possible.”


Richard smiled in agreement, but said nothing more as the car pulled up to the memorial. All the passengers inside stepped out and made there way to find spots to sit. Richard had hoped he and George might sit a little closer to Henry. He wanted to be close to someone he knew, and someone he felt could offer some more immediate assistance if any was needed.


White Death had already spotted some familiar faces, a few quite famous, including the briefest of glimpses of Cannonade. Seemed they’d arrived earlier, and were already busy being adored by the crowds.



George and Richard finally took their seats near the edge of the crowds, hoping to avoid being clustered too close together with anyone, and wanting easy access to be able to stand up and leave their seats if it became essential. The old man had noticed plenty of familiar faces, but what caught his attention most immediately was that Henry had gone to join what appeared to be a family, possibly his own relatives. It was touching, but he had some concerns as well, primarily for the safety of the two adults and their children.


“You know George, I think we should come up with a team name at some point.” Richard stated nonchalantly.


George, a little surprised, cocked an eyebrow at the comment. “Really? And what do you suppose you should all be called?”


Richard shrugged. “No idea, I kinda thought that was more your department, speaking frankly.”


The old man’s mouth perked up at the corner as he shook his head. “No, while I might be your ‘boss’, I think you’re all much more qualified to come up with that sort of thing on your own. Besides, builds some camaraderie with each other, and lets me avoid being criticized over choice of name.” He chuckled slightly.


__________________________________________________________________



Start of the Memorial


As everyone took their seats, or found a place to stand and watch, a deafening quiet came over the crowds gathered in Atlas City. All eyes turned to the stage, or the screens, whichever they had easiest access to view. After a few moments of silence set in, a projector screen lowered at the back of the stage, and on its left and right side two banners unfurled downwards, decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag.


Images began to fade into view on the screen, and the televisions across the city, country, and world. Pictures of men, women, children; they were of homes, parties, happy times. Hearts broke and tears began to stream as the pictures became accompanied by the sounds of Lee Greenwood's “Proud to be an American”. Those who tried not to cry struggled, some failed. They leaned on shoulders, tried to give comfort where they could as they watched images of their happy loved ones pass by.


After a while, the song finally came to its close, and the screen faded to its blank, white color once more. The first speaker came to the front of the stage, slowly, almost cautiously. Once he was at the podium, Captain Valor took a moment to compose himself. The hurt was clear in him to the crowd below, but he maintained his composure as the screen behind him flickered with color once more. Now images of Lonestar faded in and out, introducing various glimpses of the hero’s life and adventures.


“My fellow Americans, people of the world. We all lost loved ones on March 12th. For me, it was my fellow hero, sometimes rival, and always good friend; Lonestar. We had…” Valor went quiet a moment as his eyes glistened, two tiny trickles of tears making their way down his cheeks. “We had a lot of adventures together. Saved a lot of people. Saved each other even a few times.”


The hero continued on, regaling the crowd with a few tales of the adventures the two heroes had had. Of course, this was all mostly known to the public. There were many ‘adventures’ they hadn’t heard of though, the kinds of which Valor and Lonestar would both ensure were taken with them to the grave…


“All I want to say now is thank you everyone, America and the whole world, for all your continuing support. And to Lonestar buddy, we’ll meet again one day. Till then, know that you’ll always be in our hearts, a true American hero.” Valor began to exit the stage, wiping away a few tears as the screen continued to show a montage of Lonestar, before slipping into images of more of the heroes and soldiers that laid down their lives to fight the Beast. As America’s heroes passed by on the screen, they were accompanied by a favorite song of Lonestar’s, Toby Keith’s “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue”.


While the crowd was hit by a wave of emotions, the sadness had begun to subside near the end of the song, giving way to a roar of cheering and applause. They could be proud of those who sacrificed so much for them, and honor that freedom by continuing to fight this fight for their families, friends, and America itself.


As the song subsided, other speakers had gone up to the stage, survivors, family members of victims, heroes. Once they’d said their piece, it was time for the message they all really needed to hear. Gordon Ford, President of the United States of America, stepped up to the podium. Near the back of the stage, stood near other speakers, the Secdef and Attorney General both stood by, looking on and hoping Gordon knew what he was doing.


“My fellow Americans…” he started. “This has been a truly, truly painful time for us all. Our country has suffered a grievous injury like never before. So many lives lost, families torn apart… We’ve never seen anything like this.” There was a pause as he sought for words to give power to what he was saying. “But we are a strong nation, a strong people. We’ll rebuild, and fight this fight to keep our free nation as free as it ever has been. You can all sleep soundly at night, knowing we’re working tirelessly to keep you all safe, and to give you the answers you deserve. The people who did this will be brought to life, this I promise you. And to help keep that promise, your government is starting new initiatives to try and fight this menace, including a new team we are calling F.I.S.T. And to speak more on that, I’d like to introduce our Secretary of Defense, Victor Covistic.”


There was some cheering for the President as he stepped away from the podium, though the message he gave perhaps didn’t have the amount of impact he’d hoped for. Victor, for his part, smiled at the President as he went to the podium himself, but inwardly thought very lowly of everything the President had just ‘attempted’.


Once Victor took the podium, he also allowed for a brief pause, a moment of quiet, as he went over everything he would need to say. “Thank you Mr. President. Ladies and Gentlemen, people of America, citizens of Atlas City… Before I say anything else, I need to take a moment here to apologize. As Secretary of Defense, I’m partially responsible for the response we gave to the monster that attacked this great city. We believed we were ready to take this thing on, that we had everything we needed to destroy it. We were wrong, we underestimated the Beast, and we need to take responsibility for that. Myself, my colleagues, and everyone in your government takes responsibility for our handling of this attack.”


There was silence in the crowd as they took in what he had to say. “As the President said, we are all working tirelessly to strike back against our enemy, and while I cannot, for security reasons, tell you everything you deserve to know, I can tell you that our enemies are not long for this world.” He took a pause, hands pressed firmly on the podium as he squared his shoulders and looked directly into the faces of the crowd before him. “Again, I cannot say much for security reasons, but what I can tell you is that the military is developing a team called F.I.S.T. First Initiation Strike Team. They will be instrumental in allowing us to deal with these threats in more precise, fast, and tactical ways. We are also developing another team, known as Bulwark. This team will differ from F.I.S.T. as it will be the newest American Hero team we put together, designed for the specific purpose of ridding us of monsters like this Beast. We will have more details on this team at a later date. But for now…”


Another moment of silence. It stretched on for a second as Victor held his gaze with the crowd, letting them have a moment of anticipation. “For now let me say this. America, today is a day for mourning. Feel this grief, this sadness, this hurt. Let it all go through you. That’s what we can do today. Tomorrow? Let these feelings embolden us. Let it steel us, our resolve. The ones who did this to America, to the American people, they want us to be afraid. They want us to live in fear of them, to put us on edge. But our men and women in uniform, our Supers, our best and brightest minds, are all working in unison in this fight. One people, one purpose. They crave justice, to bring retribution down like a mighty storm. Our enemies have caused us to be afraid long enough. It’s time for these cowards to TRULY be afraid. They’ve awoken the Beast of America, and we are ravenous.”


With that, Victor stepped away from the podium as a roar of passionate emotions erupted from the crowd. The cheers were near deafening, filled with a sound that could be described as sorrow burning up into righteous rage. America had been struck a heavy blow, but it would strike back with a million times more force.


Once the crowd had let that wave of emotion pass through it, other speakers began to take the stage…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Silentium
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Atlas City Memorial 11:22 AM. The last speaker got a standing ovation for his heartfelt words of encouragement to the surviving friends and family of the Beast's victims. In the row next to the target, Precipitator was busy comforting an older woman. An old relative of hers, perhaps? A friend? A retired hero? Perhaps just a stranger she happened to sit next to and was comforting out of kindness. How noble.

Next to her were the five other members of SixStorm. Category-5 sat furthest to the right of the group at the end of the row. Perfect. His ability to read the flow of the wind currents needed to be taken to consideration and him sitting right at the end, made the trajectory of the projectile all the more easy to calculate.

A quick read of the old woman's vitals revealed she was not in perfect health. Palpitations in her lungs were currently on the rise given her current state of mind. Nothing would feel amiss when the dart hit her neck and she slumped over. Too tiny to see with the naked eye, the number of supers purported to have heightened senses were taken to account. Particular those with enhanced sight and hearing. None were in this row or two rows in front, but the cluster of seats adjacent to them, had two right within ear shot.

A risk perhaps, but a disk-drone was launched from the barrel. No bigger than a fly and remote controllable immediately after release. It'd emit a high frequency sonic wave. Annoying enough to turn attention to or catch the ear of dogs but otherwise it was nothing but a distraction. It land and bury itself within the sands after five seconds. Just long enough for those in attendance who could hear it to wonder what it was before being distracted by something else.

If Silentium was lucky, they'd even investigate. They couldn't trace it back to him if they tried. After all, even if they'd managed to follow the trajectory, he was never in the exact same place twice. His teleportation matrix was assure that. And thanks to his stealth field he would not be seen or heard either.

The old woman was in a catatonic state. Temporary. The dart had already dropped off. and fallen to the floor. Tiny robotic legs sprouted from it and carried it away from the scene. The puncture wound was miniscule and would not be seen right away. Even if it had he'd enough time as per his calculations. Heightening audio receptors...

"Nana! Nana! Oh no, it's her heart! She can't-"

An internal smile. More of a smirk. The entire teams began to panic. It seems the family connection was spot on. good. It would breed more irrationality. Pre-existing conditions meant she was less likely to check for external causes, less likely to ask for the opinion of any super qualified to examine her medically. And why would she. Checked for fever, checked her heart. Either way she wouldn't discover where he dart struck.

And what's more it was but a blip in this massive crowd, but a distraction She wouldn't want to disrupt the ceremonies. A phone call. An ambulance. Precipitator would carry her out of the premises. And her team would follow. A show of solidarity. Such nobility should be commended.

A quick scan of the target's row. Mindscape, a telepath sat it front. His helmet was an eyesore, but he shouldn't be a problem. A lot of ex-military and street level supers. Not an issue for his purposes, but as a precautionary measure, a disc-drone. Behind the last row of seats was a long line in order to get some refreshments. It was a long ceremony after all, even in this tepid weather people would get parched.

A quick scan of the line, showed a variety of supers, none posing an immediate threat. One was of interest, however. A speedster, with a containment suit. Appeared to be designed to house an unstable body. Perfect. The punch gets poured in and the drone follows. Run a quick diagnostic scan, and have the drone emit counter-vibrations to reverb against the speedster's vibrations and she'd experience a sense of violent vertigo.

Lashing out, she knocked the punch cooler, earlier and vomited on the floor. This was enough of a distraction to garner the attention of most of the backrow. What's more, the paparazzo had begun to swarm in. He couldn't ask for a better distraction as some reporters and other officials in the row of George Carlisle began to turn their heads. And all those sitting out in front were none the wiser. Silentium raised his rifle. No trick shots this time. This one would be plain and simple. Quick. Clean. And silent.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Albert dropped from the sky like a meteor, his near soundless fall giving way to a tremendous snap and crack of the stage buckling under his momentum. Ripping his feet free, Albert strode from the crater he'd created in the wood, pulling his goggles up to his forehead. Staring out at the gathered supers and other passersby, who had all turned from their momentary distractions, some out of fear, others out of confusion from the man who had literally fallen from the heavens, Albert reached out and grasped the microphone from the podium.

"I am known as Backlash," Albert boomed. "I represent Atlas City Heroes Incorporated. I watched the heroes of this city fight the beast that rose from the depths of the sea to attack us just a short time ago. We were all unprepared. But while many of my peers look forward with fear, I look forward with fury. Though many of the surviving heroes cower in misery, shock and grief, I do not."

A glow began to arise around Albert. Strangely, the air around him seemed to darken... as if the light itself were being subtly pulled into Albert's aura.

"My mission is to protect this city," Albert continued. "It is a mission I take seriously. It is a mission I will not be unprepared for again. I promise you this, Atlas City, and even beyond, if a beast of hell should arise again, I will be there. No matter its form, no matter its strength, I will be there."

The glow was stronger now, but Albert didn't seem to notice. "I promise you this, Atlas City. There is no one in this world stronger than I am. I will be the frontline. I will be the wall upon which the darkness breaks, and the shining blade that will destroy any abomination that dares appear. Thus, from this day on, I will no longer be called Backlash. Today, I take on a new name: Crimson Shield."

As suddenly and strangely as it had appeared, the glow was gone and the light show with it, leaving Albert in his aged pilot uniform on the stage, the last of his words echoing across the crowd.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake
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Richard felt a jolt of anxiety and instant terror rock through him as some kind of explosion erupted from the memorial stage. His gaze flashed forward to see what kind of tragedy had occurred, what insidious act had just taken place, only to take in the image of another super standing there, the one who took out the military's big gun on the beach. A wave of relief soon followed after, but ebbed away as a sense of annoyance bubbled up. The way he spoke seemed perhaps a bit too... Grandiose, in some ways. Particularly during a memorial. Maybe he was just trying to reassure the scared public, but it didn't exactly feel that way to Richard.


The White Death had just a moment ago been focused on some nearby heroes who'd seemed to be fainting, or getting sick, probably from nerves. He turned his attention back to the stage, but got distracted from the sight of birds fleeing the scene. 'Crimson Shield's' entrance seemed to have scared them considerably worse than it had Richard, and he wondered if they perhaps could feel any of that annoyance he did. His eyes followed them as they moved away from the stage, inland towards the city, passing over buildings. He watched as they dipped and dove, evading a non-existent danger as they tried to locate safer grounds.


Richard felt a little entranced, taking the moment to just enjoy watching them as they slowed to more of a gingerly glide, disappearing behind buildings, only to reappear as they rose back up into the sky. Back and forth they flew, up and down. He watched as two of them once again disappeared again.


Disappeared into thin air.


It was a brief moment before they had reappeared again, and Richard questioned if he'd even seen it at all, but they looped back around, and once more disappeared in the middle of the air before quickly reappearing again.


There was someone up on that roof.


His eyes darted around again to where the sick heroes had been, then back to the roof.


Richard had no idea how it happened, but it had to be some kind of sniper. As the realization hit him, he turned to George, grabbing the old man by the back of the neck, and pulling him down into a bow.



"Richard! What are you do-"


The old man's words were cut off as a quiet crack, barely audible even to Richard and George themselves, came from the ground just across from them. George and Richard both gazed at the spot, a hole now in the ground, created by a small, super heated bullet of some kind. The old man looked to Richard in shock and determination.


"We're getting you out of here, now." Richard whispered. "Pretend to be sick." He lifted George up and carried him over to the group of supers tending to some of the sick as he pulled his cellphone out, quickly dialing in a number.


Henry's phone rang, and when he picked it up, Richard's voice came through. "We've got a sniper here, get over to George ASAP and keep him safe, I'm dropping him off with a group of supers tending to some sick." After that, he quickly hung up and looked to the group he'd been rushing towards. "Hey, my granddad's sick! Can you guys please look after him while I go get his medicine? I've got a friend coming over to look after him, big guy, can't miss him. Can you look after him in the mean time?" The supers looked terribly confused, but nodded and affirmed they'd take care of him. Richard made doubly sure that George would be in a slightly covered area first, off to the side, near the food vendors, to make sure he couldn't be hit. While there, he stealthily grabbed several bottles of water from unsuspecting merchants.


And from the food vending area, a light fog began to form, carried in by an abrupt cold wind. Richard bolted, hidden in the cover of the fog he created, to the building the sniper had been on top of, hoping and praying he could catch them in time. Once he was inside the building, he quickly made his way to an elevator, taking it to the highest floor he could. While inside, he reached into his suit jacket, and pulled Durendal from his holster. Out from another suit jacket pocket, he produced a silencer, and quickly screwed it onto the barrel of the pistol.


As the elevator reached the highest floor it could, he quickly made his way around the floor until he found a service area, and with it the rooftop service elevator. Richard placed an earpiece into one ear, quickly flickering it to life as he made a quick call out.


"Sairyn, I need eyes in the sky, we've got a sniper on top of the Galliant Office Building, right across from the Memorial. I need you to send a drone up here to try and track this guy before he gets away."


While he waited for a reply, he quickly dumped out several bottles of water onto the floor, stuffing one more full one in a jacket pocket, and holding the other in his left hand.


"He's got some kind of invisibility tech, but I've got an idea in mind." He took a pause before quickly putting out one more message. "Klaus, if you're receiving this, get to the top of the Galliant Building."


The elevator reached the roof, the doors opened, and a thick fog poured out onto the roof from within, quickly beginning to obscure visibility. Richard didn't have his music with him at the moment, but he couldn't help but have a song stuck in his head.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Silentium
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Henry dug in his pocket, when his phone started to ring. He'd forgotten to silence it, but luckily, the sound of the crowds chattering between speakers designed it to all but those closest to him.

"Hello? What's..." Henry paused, listening to the quick response from Richard. "Uh...that was one of my co-workers. Seems like the boss got sick," he informed his cousins. "I'll be right back!"

He had hoped at least. No rest for the weary it seemed. He looked around the memorial for the medical tent set up and headed there immediately once he spotted it.

"Excuse me, but do y'all have a George Carlisle here?" He inquired of the medical staff once he arrived.

***
Silentium mimed exhaling, an act of habit if anything. A miscalculation. The assumed super next to George...a bodyguard perhaps? Facial recognition scanners gave him no leads on traditional channels. Hyper-computing, he took a deeper dive. Credit cards, military records, anything he could narrow down, using thousands of parameters in mere seconds.

Richard Mackenzie. Canadian. Ex-Special Forces. Heavily classified. Nothing regarding powers or abilities, though he was certain to have them. No matter. No one else was alerted and it seemed only he had moved to act.

No cause for alarm just yet then. If this super were to engage him, were he even able to track him down, he'd be able to assess any danger and respond accordingly. He appeared to gave made several calls after securing the target with medical professionals. The crowd hadn't stirred much, so perhaps only a sparse few had been alerted.

Depending on their power sets, the hunt would still be on. A whole swarm of supers was an unsinkable situation, but a handful? That was a challenge.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Evangeline Richter Character Portrait: Scourge
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Medical Area: The Memorial

Upon hearing the tall man's request, several of the medical staff simply looked at him, blank faced. They were not prepared to tell an absolute stranger about patients they were caring for, and certainly not one that most of them weren't familiar with. Luckily, a hand rose out of the group of people to wave over to Henry. George stood, face grave and stony as he ushered Henry to join him.

Before the cosmic titan could ask anything of his new 'employer', George cast a pointer finger to his lips and led Henry to a part of the tent with fewer people, and less noise. "Thank you for coming Henry. There's been a... Complication today." He looked a little shaken, but not just because of the attempt on his life...

"Someone just tried to assassinate me. Richard has gone to try and catch the sniper, and I guess he hoped you'd be able to serve as protection for me." He looked to Henry and gave him a concerned smile. "For what it's worth, I don't feel quite as in danger with you here now. But we need to stay focused, figure out what to do about this right now."

__________________________________________________________________


Stage: The Memorial

As Cannonade finished their rousing speech, the crowd broke out into a raucous chant:

"Can-On-Ade!" Was how it started.

"Crim-Son-Shield!" Was how it was followed.

The two names continued to be chanted for a few moments, before they bled into chants of 'U-S-A', and other proud and patriotic cheers. The President stood, clapping profusely in his fit of enthrallment for the 'heroes of the city'. Victor and Claudia both found themselves clapping as well, though both less inwardly enthused. Claudia looked to Victor, trying to hold back a smirk.

"Looks like that idea just got flushed down the toilet." She teased nodding at Cannonade.

Victor only smiled and gave a slight shrug. "Mmm, I think it may still be too early to say. And at the very least, I still have other candidates I've got lined up." He pointed with his eyes in the direction of the newly rebranded 'Crimson Shield'.

"But... He's working for ACHI. I doubt they're gonna want to let him go."

"Who said anything about them letting him go? Don't forget my area of expertise as well Claudia, I'm a businessman first and foremost. I have a mutually beneficial business arrangement I think Ivetta will be pleased to hear."

Claudia nodded along. Victor probably had the budget afford trying to get the pilot on their payroll, but this all assumed they were willing to work with the government. Time would tell, she supposed.

"By the way Victor, what was all that about the 'Beast of America'?" She questioned, raising a curious eyebrow. "That's some pretty intense choice of wording there, not sure it's what our speech writer's would have come up with."

Victor turned his gaze back to Claudia again, the two of them now resuming their seats, the clapping having come to a close with the next speaker getting prepared. "Our enemies sent Hell itself to our shores. The people are absolutely terrified, and how could they not be? How do you stop being scared of monsters and beasts?"

Claudia stared back and sighed. "By becoming one?" She asked, already expecting the answer.

He chuckled in response before turning his gaze back out to the audience. "Don't worry about the speechwriters. It's going to become politically popular very soon, because for as angry as me, you, the President, or any of these heroes may say we are? None of us are more angry than America and her people."

Whilst heroes, politicians, and businessmen participated in the memorial, off to the side Douglas MacNamara flipped through a few messages on his phone. He looked up long enough to listen to Cannonade's speech, smirking a little to himself before going back to sending a reply text message. 'And a special team run by Super Roma's Number 1 no less. Interesting. Very interesting...' He thought to himself.

'One more thing to keep our eyes on.'

__________________________________________________________________


Club Shapeless: Atlas City

The door's of the meeting room opened gently, giving way to the sight of a masked figure standing on the other side.

The Shape.

There was the briefest moment of silence before he granted a bow of his head to Vicki Vortex. "Vicki, pleasure to see you again. Won't you come in?" He said indicating to the meeting room. Kiran was absent currently, but as Maxwell allowed the rocker in, retaking his own seat at the table, he set to work in assisting Miss Vortex in her task.

"Lab Rat isn't here at the moment, as you can see. But what is it you'd like to speak with them about? Perhaps there's some way I can be of assistance."


__________________________________________________________________


Roof of the Galliant Building: Atlas City

Richard's mouth swung open about as fast as Sairyn's had.

What was this guy's problem? Richard was about to snap something back at the guy, but bit his tongue on remembering that Sairyn was the one with the drone's that Richard currently needed. It wasn't made any easier though by the inclusion of unrequested software being sneakily put on his phone. Of course, this was ignoring all the data collecting software likely already on the phone when he bought it...

"Alright, alright, I got it. And the thing doesn't like 'made up words'? Is that supposed to be a special 'feature' or something?" He remarked mostly rhetorically. It was a slight dig, Richard found he couldn't help himself in the face of the tinker's choice of wording, which the icy hero found to be somewhat grating.

Richard pulled out his phone and started to get the software running, and once it was operational, he spoke some brief orders. "Uhh... Tracer; fly to the rooftop of the Galliant Building in Atlas City."

He heard some shouting from the other end of his earpiece, something about poison? "Are... You alright? What was that about a... Tongue?" He asked confused.


"I'm sorry, your request for 'tongue' cannot be completed as requested." Tracer chirped through his phone.

"Disregard that Tracer. Please come to the roof of the Galliant Building." He heard Klaus's voice come through the other end as well, and quickly muted his phone so Tracer wouldn't get any more confused.

"Thanks Klaus, see you shortly."

After he felt confident things were settled and that the drone was almost in position, Richard snuck out of the elevator and carefully made his way across the roof, with the thick, cool fog encompassing nearly the whole area. As it spread out over the roof, it began to leave a thin coating of frost on the surfaces it touched, giving them a slight glimmer.

Richard wasn't sure if his plan would work, but since he couldn't see someone that was invisible, he figured seeing something frost covered would at least bridge the disadvantage.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Silentium
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"Shouldn't we get you out of here?" Henry asked, glancing back cautiously. "We're not exactly out in the open, but if this assassin is bold enough to try and kill you in the midst of all these supers, you're probably still at risk."

***

"Ice Manipulation. Or perhaps weather?" a mechanical voice taunted from within the icy fog, emitting form a humanoid outline directly ahead of Richard. "It is no matter. I've dealt with others of your ilk before." the voice continued, now coming from Richard's right. "So who are you to Carlisle, boy? His bodyguard? You must be a recent acquisition of his, then. Nothing in his profile suggests he's employed anything of the sort before. But to the point!"

Richard would see a red dot line up to where his ribcage was, though the direction it was coming from was Richard's left. "How many other supers are in Carlisle's employ? How many are present at the Memorial? Answer quickly and concisely...unless you vastly prefer being left to bleed out on a roof."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Silentium
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Klaus raced to the top of the building, he knew Richard needed him, and he would be there to offer whatever support he could. He wasn't expecting to bust through the door that led to the rooftop and find Richard slowly trying to use his powers to "feel" out their enemy.

"Mind if I try?" he started, throwing a few disks across the gap between the highrises. If an enemy was there, displacing them out of time should render whatever cloaking they were using useless. There between flickers of time dilation, the pair could make out what looked to be a robot? it was a brief view as the disks short-circuited, there was likely an EMP field emitting from the robot but it was enough time to see what they were up against.

"There's your sniper, any ideas?" he took a stance to ready himself for the chase he expected was coming.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Devon Metzger 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: Cannonade Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Joseph Wright Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Liz Baker Character Portrait: Hugo Hemrod Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Hudson Li Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Niall Khadkani Character Portrait: Amelia Brunel Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow Character Portrait: Scourge
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Maxwell grinned under his mask at Vic's various remarks, a little amused by her candidness in what she had to say. "You know Miss Vortex, our resident tinker may be away, but I certainly think I could be of some assistance to you. Both in getting back your 'personal investment', and I suspect in many other things." His gaze was fixed on the rocker, considering her, and what she'd been through. She'd told him next to nothing, but she didn't have to. The Shape had seen plenty of performances before, and while her almost flippant behavior was authentic, Vicky Vortex was practically draped in pain.

"As for keeping my secrets Vicky, I'm not really worried about any of that. You don't seem the sort to burn bridges with friends, and I think you might be looking for some right now. Some resourceful, well connected friends."


______________________________________________________________________________________


Richard stared down the glistening air, noticing a red dot now trained on him. "Carlisle? Oh he's my grandfather figure." He remarked sardonically to the sniper. Richard's right hand was tensing up, readying up as he responded again. "As for how many of us he's got around, that's need to know information. And you don't need to know. Though I have to ask; who hired you to kill some random, old billionaire, and why?"

Before an answer could be given, time began to skew around the sniper. Klaus had arrived, and not a moment too soon. "Appreciate the help! Now as for ideas..." Richard paused, finally being able to see glimpses of the enemy. A robot? Seriously? This was beyond anything he expected... But not something he was going to be any more intimated by.

"I've got a few." Richard grinned as the red dot swayed slightly. He flicked something with his right hand, and the red dot quickly separated into thousands of directions as it shone through a piece of glassy ice. Taking a dive to the side, Richard fired off a few shots at the robot, before tucking and rolling into cover. A few shots silently rang out from the sniper, but while Klaus made a few attacks of his own, Richard came back around in a full charge at his steely foe.


______________________________________________________________________________________


George nodded stoically to Henry, though his eyes showed a certain dread, the realization of how precious a commodity time was, and how forces were now at play that sought to rob him of as much of it as possible. "We'll need to contact the others. Richard is going to try to subdue the shooter, but you're right, we need to get out of the city. I think it's finally time we made that trip out to sea..."

______________________________________________________________________________________


THUD

CRACK

Richard's body slammed into a sheet of reinforced, skylight glass, causing the whole piece to buckle and crack. He gasped silently, his whole back searing in pain from where it connected with the skylight, his chest contracted and unable to move, incapable of taking in any air. Gripping onto the side of the angled surface, he steadied himself enough to roll off of the glass and onto the layer of concrete that made up the roof of an entirely different skyscraper. The fight had gone unexpectedly wrong when the assassin grabbed Richard and threw him from the roof of the Galliant building, and onto whichever building he was on now.

His whole body shook violently as the realization came over him of just how close to death he had been. The assassin made a miscalculation, a mistake. Had he thrown him in a different direction, or with less strength, it would have been pavement Richard was landing on. Finally, his chest managed to release from its contraction, and deep, shaky breaths returned to him as he gulped up as much air as his lungs could handle.

Laying prone, resting his forearms on the ground for support, Richard slowly rolled himself over onto his aching back, gazing unsteadily into the bright blue sky above him. There was rapid, unintelligible chatter come through his comms device, something about the other group being attacked by some villains? An explosion at the mansion? Needing to retreat? His brain couldn't make any sense of it, so he pulled the device from his ear and decided to just lay there.

Just 10, maybe 15 minutes. 20 tops. He just needed a second. He just needed some Time.



To Be Continued.