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Hadean

Atlas City

2.5 INK

a part of Hadean, by Lord Saethos.

A city on the front line of innovation, science, industry, and heroism! A growing community, helping build a better future for everyone!

Lord Saethos holds sovereignty over Atlas City, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

12,168 readers have been here.

Setting

Atlas City, home to approximately 800'000 civilians, of which an estimated 1000-5000 are supers. Some have minor powers, not able to do much more than parlor tricks, others have abilities uniquely suited to the many careers and burgeoning industries in Atlas City, and some are destined for the greatness of heroism, or the infamy of Villainy.
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Atlas City

A city on the front line of innovation, science, industry, and heroism! A growing community, helping build a better future for everyone!

Minimap

Atlas City is a part of Hadean.

32 Characters Here

Henry Stewart [428] Can't just be strong for your own sake. Not always.
Akiko Bong [368] "Death is a matter of perspective."
Sasha Belov [366] In the motherland, he was called Koschei, the Undying. Now, he's looking for a new name.
Devon Metzger [356] "I guess you could say that I'm living on borrowed time. Then let's not waste it."
Jericho Amile [296] "I'm as alive as you, just a little more monstrous."
Vicki Vortex [277] "I'm not here to save the world, I'm here to rock out in its final encore."
Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) [271] "True heroes do what is necessary."
Yue Bayushi [268] Queen of the Damned...
Cannonade [261] Super Roma #1
Alexander Dalton [258] "Try and hurt me, you wont make a scratch."

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake
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"I guess I'll head to the warehouse then, It's not really within my realm of expertise... But I may be the closest thing we've got to a structural engineer." Devon said as he got up to leave, pausing as he passed in front of George. "...Perhaps it's best if you'd allow your researchers take a look at it first, though if they can't get through to it please do return it. I think I have a sure-fire way to crack the puzzle, but it might take quite some time." He said as he gently placed the blueprint orb in front of George on the table. With that said he walked out of the room finalizing his shift into wraith form as he passed the doorway.



Atlas City: Ruined warehouse


Arriving at the site of the ruined warehouse Devon noticed he had been beaten to the location not only by Silver Fang, but also by Sairyn's spawn. It seemed they were already processing the scene at least it appeared one of the drones way scanning the area likely trying to create a 3-D render of the debris field. Another had dropped something which appeared to create a holographic overlay of the building prior to it's impromptu demolition.

Taking a look at the holographic overlay he scoured the layout for something which one could feasibly 'accidentally' damage that could bring down a building, but if everything had been built as designed then that would be quite a challenge without some large mechanical equipment and there wasn't any of that sort hiding in the debris field. So that route's pretty much dead on arrival, something or someone deliberately caused this damage.

Taking advantage of his wraith form he flew up his to get a birds eye view of the rubble and a bit better grasp on the bigger picture. Trying to imagine how the walls had come down and where what parts of the roof ended up it was quite clear that this wasn't much of a collapse at all... It almost looked like something ripped the place apart in a fit of rage. The walls were perhaps the most clear sign, parts of them looked almost as if they had been blown up... But without any scorch marks to back that up that looked unlikely... Where other parts of the same wall had simply buckled as the buildings weight overcame their strength.

Devon dropped back down to the earth re-materializing next to Silver Fang careful to not move the debris beneath his feet. "Looking at the rubble I'd wager a guess that this building was manhandled by a brute. I can't see any signs of fire or explosives being used and the damage is too... Random to have been a collapse. Whomever brought this building down wanted it to be destroyed, but at the same time wouldn't have cared about removing any evidence. I mean this took time and effort, emptying a couple gas cans or breaking a gas line and throwing a match would have done the same, faster and cleaner." He said part to inform Silver Fang and part to see if he had overlooked something obvious.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger
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Collapsed Warehouse Investigation Site
Atlas City, North Carolina, United States of America
Shortly Before Noon


The door of the station wagon groaned loudly as Sheri pushed it open to step out onto the gravel road outside the warehouse, pulling her hood up against the sun. Sairyn sure was quick to lend her this piece of crap automotive. She hadn’t even asked - it was just waiting for her when she stepped out of the inn, with another of his little notes. She had to bump the door a second time before it closed properly, then stepped around the front toward the warehouse, where one of them was using drones to construct a 3D reconstructed map of the building. Sheri clicked her tongue at the site of her squadmates before approaching - there was a special kind of stress that came with heroes who insisted on full face covering. In her experience, having your face fully hidden had a knack for bringing out all the worst sides of people.

”So?” she called out, stepping past the holographic police line. The drone nearest her let out a tiny chime of admittance as she did so. She waited for a brief summary of their findings, then spoke again. "This was a WFG warehouse, right? I thought a lot of witchfinders were supers. I doubt they'd just let someone bring one of their buildings down without a fight, even if it were someone with a brute power set."

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The Resort


Lingering, Akiko thought over George's words as her own mind began to race with thoughts. She was nervous. This was new territory for her and Pendrake didn't exactly seem too thrilled about George asking her and the rest of them to come along. The Witchfinder chuckled softly in her ear. She made no movement to show it though if they knew, it would be good reason to not want her along. He seemed to be awake since the moment George had mentioned the Witchfinders. You know something, don't you? There was no response.

Not like he would be much of a problem. Akiko wasn't up to full strength and neither would the Witchfinder. That, and he would be incredibly stupid to take over with other supers around. Especially since she didn't know of their powers or move sets. Speaking of the supers...

Looking up, Akiko noticed a couple of the others had already left or were leaving. She kept a straight face though did sigh internally. Another low, sinister chuckle in her right ear.

"Thanks for the help back there!" Akiko called out to Richard before heading out herself. She paused right outside the door, realizing she hadn't thanked whoever had tucked her into bed. However, Henry had been on his way to the funeral and Devon was already gone. She sighed but pressed on, the sound of her belt announcing SHINIGAMI GRAY to signal her departure.

Case: The Warehouse Explosion

Location: Atlas City, NC


Shinigami lingered in the air as she observed the scene below. Another hero had just joined the two already on the scene, the three seeming to be in a conversation about the site. It did seem unusual. Invisible and intangible, she did a loop around the scene but couldn't pick up much details besides a few obvious ones. The state of the warehouse was not the result of the same fire and salt the Witchfinder inside her possessed. It also seemed to be done without much care. Shinigami frowned. She wanted to go down for a closer look but she had also noticed the drones.

While she was pretty sure they wouldn't be able to pick up her current state, she didn't want to risk it and make the other supers on guard. If they were to all be working on a team, it was better to not let her screammates be wary of her from the start. Particularly if she embodied one of the enemies inside her. Therefore, she settled down with a soft thud and partially revealed herself. She dropped the invisibility but kept the intangibility, letting the others see right through her but still able to see her form.

"Make a lot of enemies, be in for a surprise" Shinigami said as she looked to the others. Devon was familiar but she had no idea who the other two were. "Maybe something or someone got the drop on them. Things could have gotten out of hand or this is all just a distraction from the start."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake
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Having left Jemma contained while he went to a meeting felt wrong. He had no idea how long she would be in that weird state and the idea of her coming out of it and freaking out over the sudden containment left a bad taste in his mouth. Whatever was going on, she didn’t seem in control or aware while in that orb, so he had to just pray he got out of this meeting before she came too. He technically was going to be a few minutes late to the meeting since he did still need a quick shower after both his run and spare with Silver Fang. Best not to be smelled from across the room after all.

Alex chose to stand with his back up against the wall, arms crossed. Mostly due to nerves and really not wanting to be addressed directly yet if he could help it. After the last few days it was no secret that Alex had been itching to hear just what George had in store for this group of supers he had gathered together. Reservations aside, the idea of being on a team with little affiliation to the pre established organizations made him a bit more comfortable. The less suits he had to deal with the better.

Aaaaand people started talking about artifacts and time . . . What? That was around the time Alwx started tuning out most of the meeting. He couldn’t help but feel lost and out of place more so than when it was mentioned that the beast from the beach was said to have been a child and from another dimension. Am I the only one here that’s noticing how crazy this all is?

When the conversation started to drift towards the issues involving the Witchfinder Generals Alex couldn’t help feeling relieved. Finally, something I can actually help with. The fact that the investigation was technically under NAHLA jurisdiction didn’t seem to be preventing anyone present from contributing to the investigation either which was a blessing. The memorial was mentioned, but truth be told Alex didn’t feel like he was in a good mood or mindset to participate. He needed something to take his mind off all of . . . This.

Noticing that things were wrapping up, Alex pushed himself off the wall and made his way to leave. ” Well, this was fun and all, but I think I’ll be passing on the memorial for personal reasons. I’m going to go check on Jemma and see what I can do with the Witchfinders business.“

Alex didn’t realize how tense he had been through all that as he walked towards Sairyn’s lab. He had expected to feel his barrier around Jemma to crack or break entirely during the meeting. He hadn’t fortified it too much, which was stupid in hindsight. But there had been next to no feedback the entire time. That could be either good or bad in the next minute. Finding Sai’s lab unlocked, Alex took a deep breath and opened the door. ” Jemma, it’s Alex. Please don’t be freaking out. I’m sorry for bubbling you but you were kinda freaking out and shooting lightning everywhere.“ he slowly entered the room, not knowing what to expect at this point.

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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger
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30.00 INK

Yue tensed as the other team members arrived. Her visible unease was mostly hidden by the suit and mask, though it couldn't quite disguise the subtle shift in body language that suggested she was a little more guarded. Honestly she wasn't expecting anyone else to show up after Sairyn basically told everyone that the investigation was NAHLA jurisdiction... or maybe he meant that he couldn't stop NAHLA HQ from showing up since Yue and he had more or less been reassigned?

The fact that he chose to talk in doublespeak around the rest of the team hadn't gone unnoticed by her, and it left a sour feeling in the pit of her stomach that she couldn't quite ignore. Regardless, they were there and providing input... Yue mustered up the willpower to activate her external vox and respond... supposing they weren't just thinking aloud or talking to themselves at least.

"Well... I'm pretty sure it was a machine," she said, once everyone had finished speaking. "This damage pattern isn't consistent with 'Brute' involvement," she explained as she walked carefully across the damage towards the street. "This wall was pulled free from the outside, most likely by a winch, and something heavy was parked here," she said, pointing to a spot on the asphalt. With a gesture the holographics highlighted a very slight indentation in the asphalt, like something big had shifted its weight in a trailer.

"Here," She said, highlighting a scuff mark on the street. "Industrial grade tires? Some kind of heavy equipment, though I don't know what kind of vehicle makes tracks like this," she noted, more to herself as she knelt down to take a closer look. After a long moment she highlighted the tracks with holographics. A pair of tracks, oddly spaced and not like a normal car, but like each wheel well had two or more tires in it. Yue stood and moved back towards the broken building, highlighting a handful of barely noticeable metallic scrapes in the rubble as she walked.

"Metallic residue here," she said. "Large vehicle drove through the building, and then pulled the wall down with a winch to collapse it... not necessarily in that order," she mused, tapping a gloved finger against the mask's chin. "Investigator, would you please run a search of multi-track industrial vehicles and try to match the tread pattern?" She asked, turning towards the drone, which was carefully comparing two rocks a short ways down the road.

It gave a decidedly exasperated electronic sigh and flippantly waved an appendage at her; a gesture it had clearly picked up from its creator. The similarity was enough to make her left eye twitch behind her mask. She didn't understand what it said, but the message was clear.

"Why do I have to do everything myself?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger
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Two more soon joined the warehouse investigation, first a girl Devon was pretty sure he'd last seen on the plane and hadn't actually been showing her face much in the resort and the other being Akiko who had clearly recovered some after their morning escapades though he wasn't sure she should be up and running already given how she had fainted not all that long ago. The both of them brought forward their own considerations. Certainly the witchfinders did employ that drug of theirs to simulate the powers of supers to a degree and they did employ some supers of their own, but there were no traces of their favored salt or fire being used in this location.

Akiko brought forward a couple reasonable theories, certainly if they were ambushed they wouldn't have had the time to use their drugs, as he doubted they ran around with a couple syringes at all times. A distraction would also be a somewhat feasible suggestion, but that didn't feel right with the meticulous flattening of the building.

"This doesn't look like a distraction, a fire or an explosion would have been far more effective as an attention grabber and a timed or remote igniter would certainly allow them to set it all to go whenever they wanted. But if there was any fighting it was too sudden for the Witchfinders to use their drugs or they didn't have any available to them, given that this looks nothing like the diner that got hit with all the salt and fire." He said traversing towards where Silver Fang had gone to investigate a slight displacement in the asphalt light enough that without that holographic overlay it probably wouldn't even been visible.

As Silver Fang traced some marks she noticed towards the building Devon looked closer at the scuffs on the street. "Definitely had two sets of wheels on it's axle, but the prints seem to indicate some rather small wheels as I'm pretty sure I'm looking at the marks of two axles." Devon mused as he made a mental estimation of how big those wheels could have been from the scuffs. "I don't think these scuffs are from whatever tore the building apart, looks like like a trailer... Maybe one you'd carry behind a large pick-up or something."

As he turned his head back towards what once was a building a question popped up in his mind. "But why would you park in front of a door if you're just gonna pull out a wall?" He exclaimed pointing towards the holographic projection of the door. "... Unless wrecking the place is just an afterthought." He theorized walking towards where the door had been, carefully looking at the ground to see if there was any clues left. Which between the rubble and the trash strewn on the ground was harder than expected... At least he didn't think that a snickers bar wrapper was the clue he was looking for.

Carefully pacing back and forth between where once was a door and the tread marks, likely looking like a demented methhead in the process as he muttered about the items that passed in front of his eyes. Then from the corner of his eyes he noticed something out of the ordinary. "Now that's a smoking gun if I ever saw one." He said with some excitement in his voice as he walked to the object in question. Honestly if he hadn't looked at it from that exact angle he probably would have passed it off as a random bit of trash given the falling debris had smashed it up quite a lot, but that was a casing and wherever there are spent casings there almost certainly was a gun being fired at some point.

"Hmm, it's a bit hard to determine with how badly it has been smashed, but that looks like a pistol caliber... 9mm Luger maybe? Odd color casing though." He noted squatting down next to the casing. He wasn't planning on messing with any physical evidence on this site and that bullet casing made it even less appealing to touch anything, especially the casing itself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake
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Jemma was… aware of being trapped in a space that she couldn’t escape, as much as one can be aware of the blood in their veins. She knew that she was in that strange {SPACE} that she entered when she consumed powered things, and she knew that {TIME} was passing while she waited. Her mind was reeling from the abrupt change. She hadn’t been expecting the flesh she had consumed to hold power, and she was further aware of another {POWER} that she had consumed. Part of her was worried, and rather abruptly, she noticed that she felt… full.

Overfilled, even, as if she had finally- FINALLY- eaten too much to be comfortable. The space that she associated with ‘stomach’ felt full, overstuffed, over indulged.
And before she could try and understand what that really meant, there was a snap, a crackle, and a P O P!
And she was blinded by a sky blue light that surrounded her on all sides. There was a brief flash of rainbow light, a prismatic gas that vanished as quickly as it appeared… And an intense panic sparked the moment she recognized what had happened, pangs of fear that pushed at the relatively confused calm that had suffused her before. Her eyes, were they eyes? The portions of her body she was using to see flickered about wildly, her lungs were filling and then emptying of air with an urgency she had no control over. Jemma kept herself from panicking for but a moment longer, and felt some pulse of power, and bore witness as she felt something… Pull. She slid her eyes to Sairyn, only just now noticing that The Scientist was still there.

And a bolt of crackling light, splitting the air of the lab with a sharp sound, slammed into the dome-shield that surrounded her. Alex poked his head in just as Jemma opened the human-form mouth to scream happily, her legs and arms moving about in a wild manner that simply exploded with joy from every motion. Another bolt of lightning leapt from her body, from her mouth this time, and screeched across the surface of the bubble. It arced and raced about as it struck true, sliding too and fro upon the bubble with no sense of urgency. It was blinding, it was loud, and it was so. Fucking. Exhilarating.
She whipped her head towards Alex, baring her teeth in a smile that could easily be mistaken for a snarl. “I. Am. So fucking COOL!” She whisper-hissed at Alex, slamming her hands against the edges of the bubble. “Now let me out! I HATE THIS. I want OUT. Please? … What happened while I was uh… Indisposed, hm?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger
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As the others began to look for clues, Akiko closed her eyes. She drew in a deep breath and when her eyes opened beneath her mask, they were glowing a bright blue. She could see shapes moving within the warehouse and feel the familiar ache of weariness within her. There was a job to do and the others had concluded a vehicle had been on the premises. They didn't know what kind but perhaps the spirits of the recent dead did. That and the quicker they got this investigation over with, the sooner she could retreat to her room to recover.

"I'll go talk to the witnesses and see if they know what kind of vehicle came through here," Shinigami called out as she walked on over. Only Devon would realize what she meant and Akiko paused, adding to the other two heroes, "I see dead people."

While it wasn't meant to be a joke, Akiko felt that was the best way to describe what she was about to do. Shinigami continued, not paying attention to where she stepped. Not that she needed to as she was still Intangible and thus, there were no footsteps to worry about. The crime scene lay untouched even as she walked right through the rubble of the collapsed building.

Shinigami's gaze was on the hazy neon outlines of the few ghosts, a couple who were muttering as Freischütz had during his pacing. They looked to be in horrible shape and didn't seem aware of her or anything around them. She approached them, inspecting them closely. Their faces never turned towards her. They didn't even move, babbling, eyes distant. Akiko frowned. She had seen spirits like them before. The trauma of their death was too great for them to comprehend. Their only respite would be when their energy dissipated and they "moved on" so to speak. They would hold no answers.

Looking around, Shinigami looked to see if they were all the same. A majority did though there was one who seemed to be looking around, arms out, calling out to the others. He seemed to be growing more frantic as he heard no response from his fellow spirits. When Shinigami called out to him however, he seemed to wish he hadn't been heard at all. His body went rigid and Akiko's eyes widened as she saw a hole at the back of his head.

"Who are you?" he spat suspiciously, turning to face her. There was a slight pause in her movements as she saw the remains of his right eye splattered across his face. The other eye squinted at her and there seemed to be no other wounds on him.

"A bullet to the back of the head," Shinigami said as he winced at her words. "You seemed to have gotten off pretty easy huh."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Scourge Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow
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‘Fearless, and feared,” came Maxwell’s reply towards Scourge’s prodding.

The giant man’s eyes wrinkled with a smile. “HAHA!” He leered closer, and his voice dropped into a purr as he replied, ”Ohhh, I like you. Your confidence is pleasing to me.” The monster’s milky yellow eyes darted from top to bottom, quite pleased indeed.

Pyromancer and Scourge listened on. The former took mental notes to summarise the situation. Witchfinders. Warehouse. Weapons. The latter nodded along to Maxwell’s explanations, the Shape having engaged his full attention.

Scourge cackled, then held his arm up and clenched his fist. ”Don’t worry, boss. We’ll uncover the Witch-Bitches’ suppliers and PULL them by their roots!” Veins bulged under his skin, too tight and too many to be natural. ”Kicking, screaming, and BEGGING if need be!! Hya-ha-ha-HA!”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Vic's brow twitched irritably as she heard Scourge's laughter seeping through closed doors. She was sprawled out across the bar like a mangy cat, nursing the crushed hand she didn't let Kiran anywhere near with tequila. She took in a half-hearted gulp, most of it dribbling down her cheek and stinging all the cuts. She turned her head and saw her reflection in all the bottles on the counter. The puncture wounds that needed new stitches. The lacerations on her face from charging out a window into a seventeen story drop. The burn on her back, the broken fingers, all her bruises were so numerous they were joining forces into one big hive mind. Trade out the miserable expression for some kind of troublemaking smirk and she'd still be fuckable, Vic thought as she prodded and distorted her face flesh.

She hung around until she heard one more guffaw from the Supervillain Mafia meeting happening next door then swung herself up with a grunt. She shuffled her cigarettes out her pocket and trudged outside to get buy a lighter and ponder over how she'd dropped a tracking chip down into the core of Lab Rat's abode.

It'd probably be the only place they wouldn't be able to find it, she thought outside, a now-smoking cigarette between her teeth and beanie dragged low over her face. It's a Tinker's lair, with all the magical bullshittery that entailed. It'd be the safest place for her to hide if there wasn't a psychopath ruling it.

Smoke trailed up over her head along with her last sensible thought.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sairyn Pendrake
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Sairyn was becoming increasingly fidgety as he watched the drone telemetry and listened to the commentary from warehouse investigation. He flinched when Alex came into the lab, and drummed his fingers on the workbench for a long few moments as he observed the man with a note of new suspicion. He clucked his tongue thoughtfully and Volta dissolved out of his other hand with a hiss.

He'd need a bigger gun for that anyway.

He'd already come to a pretty well realized conclusion based on the data that had come through to his array of slates floating above the workbench. It was all being downloaded to an encrypted thumb drive which would get spirited away to the Emporia where nobody but him could touch it. Insurance. The question was WHY? Just to flaunt their power over him?

He couldn't let them find out that he knew though or... his eyes flicked to Silver Fang's damaged suit components, then to Jemma and Alex. He swallowed dryly and then cleared his throat softly, materializing the special phone into one hand and tapping out a message on it discretely before letting it vanish back into his temporary pocket. Even highly sophisticated government shenanigans wouldn't be able to spy on that message, though... it wouldn't keep them from knowing he sent it, just not what and to whom.

"Feeling better then?" He chirped to Jemma with a smile on his face. Best not to involve them yet. "I was afraid I may have made you sick," he said with a note of relief.

Elsewhere, a certain someone's phone chirped. Not their usual phone: the phone that only reached one number.

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Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Nebulae or Y’mari as he tried to remind himself, since he wasn’t wearing the helmet of his suit right now. Regardless, he was watching the Club Shapeless with a disinterested eye for a time, simply standing or leaning on the ledge of the rooftop he stood watch upon.
His interest was quickly piqued as he watched a young woman step out from the club, red hair catching the light and cigarette held in her lips.

A snort left him, and in a spur of the moment decision, he turned and grabbed his helmet. Once again it came down onto his head, and his vision filled with the soothing lights and layout of his HUD.
‘Jakarta’, the in helm pseudo-AI, chirped a cheery ‘Hello USER’ at him. Nebulae chuckled a baritone “Hello Jakarta. Chart me a route to Home Five, please. And set me a timer for ah… Thirteen minutes. Volume of two. Alarm setting of four. Thank you.

The AI beeped pleasantly at him, and he watched as overlays quickly formed on the display. He turned on his heel, rising up into the air by an inch or three as the heels of his boots extended. A soft sigh later, and without hesitation, Nebulae was swiftly approaching the club. His strides carried him over to the woman, and as he approached, his voice floated out into the air. The bruises and … general everything of the redhead before him took him by mild surprise, but alas, who was he to judge? However, he definitely was one to question.

Always five o’clock’ somewhere, no? Why do you drink so early?

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Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Vic deliberately nudged over the bottle beside her feet. Its contents spilled out into the gutters. She kept her chin down, hoping the beanie and bruises would disguise her well enough. She inwardly lamented her inability to stand in an alleyway without some dude ambushing her.

"Bit of a fucking personal question, isn't that?" she shot. She pushed herself off the wall and went to remove her cigarette with her dominant, decimated hand, then switched hands with a flinch and went swaggering back to the door.

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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: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Silentium 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."

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Character Portrait: Cannonade
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#, as written by Nulix
Cannonade stared at back at the man ceremonially dubbed the leader of the free world. There was an immense gap in power between the two, but when even he seemed like just a man, Cannonade knew the situation was serious. Cannonade stared glassy-eyed, though hidden behind their helmet. "They have to know you have a team that will make this right. That will investigate and prevent this from ever happening again." Cannonade spoke with honesty. "That team needs a face. That team needs a name."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Scourge Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow
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Maeve rose from the chair until she loomed over the others, assuming that with no further information to be discussed, the meeting could be considered adjourned. "I'll go then." Her eyes flickered to the one in the stained hoodie. "Bring the car around."

Although, looking at them... were they important? She'd initially taken them for another grunt, but after seeing them floating around the club and now their seat at the table, perhaps there was something more there. Not that it was terribly important.

"If anyone else is comin', come," she added brusquely as she moved toward the door. She tapped one finger against the top of the Shape's chair as she passed, causing the wood to vibrate slightly as if someone had struck it. "I'll call if anythin' useful turns up."

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Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger
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"No."

Shinigami sighed. He seemed to be insistent on being difficult and was refusing to answer any of her questions. She briefly thought about threatening him, showing him the Witchfinder she had trapped and vowing to do the same to him, but she knew it would only cause him to get even more defensive. He could possibly even try to leave or worse, call her bluff.

He stood there, hands in his ghost pockets, his eyes flickering back to where his former allies screamed or muttered incomprehensibly. He hadn't even tried to leave though. Shinigami knew they could walk around but he seemed rooted to the spot. His face revealed nothing but the frequent looks let her know he was at least somewhat concerned. Whether it was their fates or if he would end up rambling like them, she was unsure of.

"Do you remember, what happened to them?" she asked, turning just enough to where she could still see his face but also look like she was facing the other ghosts. He would only see her head turn, the helmet obscuring her face inside.

"No," he immediatley snapped but his voice softened a little as he added, "I just remember loud noises, like a crash, and next thing I know... I'm like this."

So, the former.

"They're not going to be suffering for long. You might stick around longer than them, going by prior experience," Shinigami said to which the ghost gave her a look for.

"Prior experience? You've seen this before?"

"I'm not freaking out at the sight of you, am I?"

"... No, you're not. Your buddies, they also see us? Or they just think you're crazy and brought you along out of pity?"

"One of them's seen me do this before. The other two, I don't know. They haven't told me to go home yet so I assume they think I'm telling the truth."

"Or they know you're going to get something valuable out of it somehow."

Shinigami paused and smiled. She turned to face the ghost and he looked back at her, peeling his gaze away from a spot a few feet away from them where the ruins of a room entrance stood. His gaze was firmly on her though he seemed to be restraining himself from looking again.

"And what would that be?" she asked as she began to walk over to the entrance. He scowled and ran after her to try to grab her but she was ready this time. She turned invisible and ran forward though the ghost could still see a faint outline in his vision. He tried grabbing her but found nothing but air though he did recoil his hand as she flinched. The pain Shinigami felt wasn't as intense as on the beach however when she was fully tangible.

Inside the ruins of the room was rubble. There were smashed crates and various items scattered across the room. A majority of them had been crushed and there were one or two shell casings about. Devon had already picked up on the bullets and they looked to be about the same as he had described earlier. What did interest her was a crate that had survived partly intact. She looked over and saw more rubble inside. Her eyes scanned for anything she could pick out, debating if she should disturb the contents, when she noticed something different in the corner. There was a small silver circle. Making her gloved fingertips solid again, she carefully extracted the silver lid only to find an intact vial attached. Her gloved hand became tangible and she found her hand closing around the vial. It began squeezing it and Akiko gritted her teeth, forcing her hand to reopen to avoid crushing it.

A feeling of irritation washed over her and Shinigami gently closed her hand over the vial again. This time, her hand cooperated though she found her other arm unresponsive as she tried to dig through the box again. The Witchfinder did let her look over at her ghost friend who had been strangely quiet. He stood stiffly a few feet away from her, feet pressed together. He also looked heavily irritated but did not move forward to stop her. If anything, he seemed like he was waiting for her to leave.

"You done being a thief yet?" he barked at her, arms crossed over his chest. Shinigami chuckled.

"I would be if there wasn't something else you were hiding from me," she said as she got up to approach him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Y'mari Abara
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Nebulae blinked at the woman as she turned to leave, chuckling softly and speaking up to her back in response. "Oi, oi, oi. I apologize. Look, 'm just a curious sort of person, aye? How 'bout I buy you a drink? I was thinkin' of headin' in for one myself." He paused, tilting his head as he fired off another question to the red-headed woman's back. "I'm assumin' you don't work here though... But since you're in the alleyway smokin', and you uh... Look like hell put through a speed washer, I'm gonna start assumin' you do?"

His HUD flashed an alert as he spoke to her, a brief text message from a sender named 'Ashanti'. His eyes rolled, and with a mild twitch of the head, the message collapsed and vanished away from sight. Hm.
Ah well. More important things to focus on. Like the woman who appeared to want nothing more than to walk back inside. And... Who's hand was fucked. Up.




Jemma raced through the skies ever so high above the highway, following the black, asphalt path back to Atlas City. Two pairs of wings beat in tandem as she flew, the 'back' pair smaller than the ones in front. Her skull was in the shape of some bird of prey, perhaps an eagle- perhaps a falcon- and though she should have feathers, her body was coated in chitin that was ever so thin. Her body was a sleek, powerful thing, and even if her body had no feathers, her wings certainly did. She was just barely bigger than a Mastiff, though she was certainly leaner in this form.

She flew onward though, tracing her thoughts back to Alex and Saiyrn in the lab. They had filled her in, and told her what she had missed in quiet sentences. Alex had barely dropped the bubble before Jemma was in his face, hands and claws and tendrils slapping, scratching, and tugging on his unaffected body. "I'm so going! I have to! I can't stay here one second longer! I. Need. To. See. Our. HOME!" She had practically screamed at Alex, her form shaking with just barely restrained energy. He had only gotten the 'Okay but-' of his sentence out before she had turned and bolted off. Ink swelled around her form as she moved, and the moment her body was outside, she launched into the air with no hesitation.

And so, she flew, screaming her delight happily into the wind for absolutely none but herself to hear. A pair of eyes on her underside blinked, tracking the stretch of roadway beneath her before closing tightly as she dove into a cloud.
Jemma spun, tucking her wings tight against her body as she dove towards the ground. The eyes upon her skull darted about as she took in the sprawl of Atlas City before her. With a mighty screech, a spray of spittle, and the pulse of joy in her body; Jemma's wings flung themselves open. She was moving faster now, far faster than powered flight could take her, so she glided forth on her own momentum. The eyes on her underside flicked open once again, and as she coasted around Atlas City for a bit, she caught sight of a few familiar bodies and faces.

She was glad for the eyesight of an eagle, and oh so happy that she had four pairs of eyes looking in four separate places. Though she was also partially sad that none could see her, not really, as she had a pretty strong feeling that the movement of the eyes would be... Unnerving for most.
Regardless! There! Was the one named 'Silver Fang'. She was... Familiar, at least, sort of? Ah, who cared.


Not but fifteen feet behind Yue, a massive, five foot tall shard of bone, meat, and metal slammed into the pavement with all the forewarning of an assassination. The shard cracked on impact, pulsed with ink, vanished in a blink, and revealed the shape of Jemma's humanoid form.
She flashed a smile with a maw filled with shark-like fangs, and let a long, black, forked tongue loll out and taste the air. "Hello! I am here to help!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheri Galloway Character Portrait: Akiko Bong Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Yue Bayushi Character Portrait: Devon Metzger Character Portrait: Jericho Amile Character Portrait: Vicki Vortex Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Alexander Dalton Character Portrait: Sasha Belov Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Maxwell Landon (The Shape) Character Portrait: Maeve Butler Character Portrait: Ezekiel "Zeke" Walker Character Portrait: Kiran Kingsley Character Portrait: Silentium Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Scourge Character Portrait: Gideon Gauss Character Portrait: Jamie Kerrow 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: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit 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: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit 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.

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Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen Character Portrait: Evangeline Richter
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"Are we going to have to pay for that?" Anthony asked Izetta, leaning over to whisper as Albert gave his speech.

"They're going to demolish the stage later anyway," she replied, not looking up from her phone. "If they make a fuss, just take it out of the budget for his plane."

"Oh, he'd be thrilled about that."

Izetta didn't respond, too absorbed in the holographic display of her mobile device. It had barely left her hand in the last three days aside from when she was moving rubble around; she hunched over it constantly, brow furrowed like a gambler who's just realized she and the dealer are playing two seperate games yet isn't willing to fold just yet. She must have been quite the sight to the audience at the memorial - sitting up on stage, the leader of NAHLA sitting to her left and the president only a couple of yards away as famous names came up one after the other to say their piece, yet appearing to all the world like a moody teenager dragged along by her parents.

"-am? Ma'am?" Ivetta's eyes flickered up at the emcee. "Did you also wish to make a statement, as leader of ACHI?"

Ivetta leaned back in her folding chair and crossed her legs, fur-lined coat sliding down her shoulders as she continued tapping at her palmsized screen. "No. Ba- Crimson Shield is a member of my team, so his words are my words."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henry Stewart Character Portrait: Cannonade Character Portrait: Richard Mackenzie (The White Death) Character Portrait: Klaus Zeit Character Portrait: Albrecht von Richthofen
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Klaus sat silently as the memorial carried on. His mind kept replaying the events of the day, or rather the year for him. He'd spent an entire year developing a method for destroying the Beast, using tech three-hundred years more advanced, and still managed to fail. In fact, it nearly cost him his life! Technically it did, at least life as he knew it. He was now a prisoner of time, unable to move forward to return home, and somehow everywhere he visited in the past was now different. Time was fractured, and he had managed to slide into a different timeline when exactly the timeline splintered was the mystery. Henry and a few others mentioned The Horde, a species of time tunneling roaches, but that wasn't conclusive enough to him that the shared allies they'd met were from the "proper" time or this new offshoot. Did it even matter? He couldn't be sure. He indeed seemed to exist outside the rules of time and very well may never live in this world's future and could be reason enough for why he cannot visit the future. Perhaps his tech had been altered by being here into a less advanced version? He made a mental note to run a diagnostic when he visited The Time Tunnel next.

His attention returned to the memorial as Albert, a hero he remembered seeing briefly during the battle, finished speaking. His voice echoing around the audience. Klaus stood and placed his hands into his pockets. He wasn't going to learn anything sitting around. While he understood the symbolism and psychological need for a memorial, it was simply a stage for those in power to pretend they cared. They truly felt sorrow and could empathize with the thousands of people of Atlas City in mourning. It was all for show. The President would travel back to D.C. and remember no one he talked to, Sec Def would simply think of the weaponry he wanted and use the catastrophe as leverage to add money to the defense budget, and the heroes? Many of these heroes are around for show only. Few fought, and fewer are truly mourning anyone. Many will speak as Albert had, but few will follow through. Klaus doubted everyone employed by George was indeed on board with the suicide mission he'd recruited them for. Many may have seen the opportunity to use the "Get out of Jail Free Card" he'd presented but never really considered the price.

Klaus found himself walking among construction barriers and chain-link fences, heavy machinery parked nearby. Clean up was well underway and in a few months the debris would be gone but the scar across the city would last years. He wondered if a proper memorial would be built here, and thought about what that could look like before turning down a street and into what was just another normal day for the citizens of Atlas City. Their city had been attacked, thousands died, no answers were ever given, yet here they were, traveling to work, school, shopping, life went on, it always does. He looked over his shoulder at the stark contrast to the crumbling ruins of the beachfront where thousands sat to listen to speeches, and then back to the bustling street before him. He sighed and pressed on, his mind clouded with questions that seemed to have no answers or at least answers he wasn't ready to accept.