Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by JunkMail
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Archie


Archie was almost on top of Bianca now, who remained still- either in shock, or unconscious, he did not know or care. All that mattered was that he could still hear her shallow in and out breathes, and more importantly, her heartbeat. He heaved, his massive chest rising in falling as he breathed in and out, his anger building inside of him. He closed his eyes and with an inhuman bellow he raised his mighty arms, only to bring them down towards his incapacitated quarry like mighty tree trunks- intending to crush her where she lay. He heard the pounding of footsteps behind him, but cared little until he felt resistance on his arms- preventing him from finishing the job he started.

He opened his eyes, and saw none other that Natalie- pale, petite, standing above Bianca, holding his arms up. Preventing him from crushing the metahuman. The beast had never been stalemated, or even exceeded in strength before. Out of instinct he heaved, putting not only his strength, but his body weight into his arms, causing Natalie to gasp and struggle to hold him back further- the very ground beneath her feet beginning to succumb to the immense pressure. But she did not give in. The beast, becoming more angry, opened its mighty jaws once more and leaned forward- intending to extinguish the smaller metahuman where she stood.

"Archie, stop! I know you don't want to kill! Trust me, I know better than anyone it'll hurt to live with. I'd want you to stop me too, if I was in your shoes. Please, don't kill her!"

All at once, Archie was brought back to reality, realizing what he was doing- going to do. His jaws shut like a vice grip inches from Natalie's head. Then he drew his body back, very suddenly removing the what must've felt like the weight of the world from Natalie's arms. She held on for but a moment but released when her feet left the ground, the speed and suddenness of him rising to his full height allowed him to escape her grasp. As Natalie's feet met the ground, Archie stumbled away, his hands coming up to his reptilian face as he screamed- his voice becoming more and more human. He fell to his haunches, then his hands and knees- his claws gouging deep canyons into his face as his body muscles contracted and tore away. The great reptile curled in on itself in a rabid, jerky motion, and then fell silent. After a moment, there were deep, agonizing cracking sounds, and then his back began to split and tear away at the spinal column.

There was a low hissing sound as the creature began to ash away, as if burning. The tear in it's back burning like paper until Archie, human and nude Archie, stepped from the rapidly degrading husk of of his previous body. With shaky hands he extracted himself from the chest cavity of the creature, and took a step towards Natalie and Bianca. He fell, but caught himself on his hands and knees.

"I-" He began, looking up to Natalie, meeting her gaze. "Sorry you had to- to see that. Sorry about-"

He didn't finish the sentence, not wanting to talk about the fact that had he been a few seconds longer in reigning back control he would have made an attempt at her life. She hopefully knew. He averted his gaze, and after taking a moment to collect himself he slowly but surely rose to his feet. He was confident, despite being nude- he had obviously been through this song and dance before. He walked up to Natalie, gently pushing her aside (it was more of a suggestion than an actual push, given her strength) so he could kneel down beside the still form of Bianca.

"Look to me." He said sternly. Her eyes were open, but she was staring straight ahead, as if in shock. He grabbed her by the neck and shook her head. "You look to me." He repeated, venom seeping into his tone.

Bianca's eyes made an ever so slight movement, and shifted to meet Archie's intense glare. He did not remove his hand from her neck. "You come for Natalie again, lay a finger on her, be in the same general area, so much as look at her in the wrong way..." he began, leaning close to her face. "and I will kill you all."

He stood, using her neck to assist him on his way up, roughly shoving her back into the dirt. He approached Natalie, his eyes meeting hers once again and never faltering. He had learned from many unplanned streaking trips that it helped keep the attention away from... other areas. He stopped a few feet from her.

"We need to talk." He said simply. "Dunno where we are. You're wearing next to nothing and I'm wearing nothing." He observed. He normally hid clothes in parts of the city where he knew his bestial state liked to prowl, but had no idea where he was relative to those hiding places. It could be meters, it could be miles. "I suggest we go back to the building," he explained. "I'm sure some of them will have clothes they wont... need anymore."

This was going to be a long night.


@Silver Carrot

Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Skai
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Skai Student

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Eli


Moments before Be Somebody


"Number 58?"

Eli's hooded face looked up from the tacky maneki neko figurine on the counter; she'd been transfixed on the bobbing paw of the cat for the past five minutes. Even as she handed over a twenty dollar bill, she was still aware of the figure's movements. When the takeout bag was finally handed over Eli was quick to take it and make her way out of the richly colored shop.

She turned to the right, placing an earbud into her ear as she made her way towards her apartment. With such heavy rain Eli usually would have had her food delivered, but tonight she needed some air. She'd been going non-stop for the past few days, much like the lucky cat from the store. Ever since she missed a day of work, she was taking on extra assignments as a way to make up for the vanishing act. Dr. Matt was a busy man; after his morning therapy sessions, he headed to Santa Celia University to give lessons. As a matter of fact, Eli was once one of his students. So as an act of gratitude that the doctor hadn't taken the assistant position away from her, Eli agreed to grade the papers from all fifty of his psych students by next week.

Unfortunately for Eli, this meant that most nights she didn't have time to take to the streets. In a way she was grateful for the break. Her world had changed so quickly in the span of one day that she felt it was necessary. She needed to ground herself, and what better way to do that than to read fifty papers on Erikson's stages of psycho-social development. She'd been so busy grading the papers that she hadn't even thought once of putting on the lace mas-
BOOM

The loud noise startled Eli, and she instinctively raised her free hand to cover her head as her feet halted to a stop. A few moments passed before Eli turned back to face the direction she had come from. Five blocks down from where she stood, a giant ball of fire was engulfing the street. Its light illuminated the dark clouds above. Eli's mouth hung agape in shock and she stood still as the distant plume dissipated in the rain until all that was left was the wreckage: a tanker truck lodged into the side of a building now engulfed in flame. Eli took a step towards the scene, but as three patrol cars raced by in the same direction she realized that soon every news channel would be broadcasting the accident. There was no way she could get involved without being seen, and her mask was at home on her nightstand.

Eli stood there for a few minutes, watching the distant chaos unfold. Her attention was drawn to the sky as the clouds became the color of merlot; the rain soon changed its hue. She held her hand into the rain, her brows creasing as the strange droplets fell into her palm. The ominous rain only peaked her curiosity. She quickly turned around, briskly making her way back to her apartment.

Soon she was standing in front of the TV, the layers of wet clothing and her soaked sneakers sitting in a pile in the hallway. Just as she had expected every inch of the scene was displayed across the screen. She sat down on the couch, slowly pulling her takeout into her lap. She took absentminded bites of her meal, setting her fork down every now and then to listen to key bits of information. Not only had a tanker crashed into the side of the number one restaurant in downtown SC, but it had been the one restaurant that the mayor had chosen to visit on the same night. There was still no word of any survivors within the restaurant yet.

The footage of the wreckage seemed devastating, but no evidence of foul play was being reported. She paused the TV as the camera panned over the wreckage of the truck, squinting as she saw an image of a three headed beast emblazoned on its side. She grabbed her phone from the coffee table and with one click she'd taken a photo of the logo. It was rare for a truck that size to make its way through that area of downtown, and- now that she thought of it- the logo on the truck had never surfaced anywhere in SC before.

She slowly chewed on a dumpling as she examined the logo closer. Was it the connection between the chaos, or just an unfortunate accident? With a frown, she set her phone down and engrossed herself in the news once more. All suspicions set aside, Eli was just hoping that everyone in that restaurant would make it out safely.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Silver Carrot
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Serene Light and Destiny Light

Collab Between @Silver Carrot and @DocRock




Destiny was stunned in place, finally seeing her daughter for the first time since she was a baby. She’d grown into a rather pretty young woman, even if she had inherited her father’s eyes which upset Destiny for some reason. Her garb was eccentric in appearance, yet practical for purpose, and that was something she got from her mother. She had Destiny’s red hair, which was some consolation, even if her own hair was now dyed black. Red hair just stands out too much in the field of assassination.

Destiny snaps back to the here and now, and realises she’s been silently staring at her daughter for an uncomfortable few seconds, after being asked ‘mom?’ Why didn’t she plan this out? Think about what to say to her own daughter? She cleared her throat, looked Serene in the eye again, and nodded.

”Yes,” she replied with more than a small case of nerves. ”It’s me. Hi, Serene...”

On Serene's end, the silent staring had made her even more spooked. Like real horror movie moments. Then her mom spoke, and her breath caught in her throat. She'd wondered what her mother had sounded like while alive, but to actually hear it? Holy shit, it was...a bit rough, probably tied to whatever had made her into her current self. A billion questions surged through her mind, before Serene just blurted words out.

“I...I don't understand, Dad said you died! When I was an infant. It's why we came to the states. I...he lied? Or was he fooled?” The question was left to hang in the air, Serene left in a state of true confusion. She'd never known the truth about her parents, so the idea that her father had lied for any reason, plus once the truth was given...well, yeah.

”No, as far as he knew, he was right,” Destiny sighed, folding her arms and relaxing her shoulders. ”I got blown up. It was so bad that there wasn’t a hospital on this planet that could have saved my life. But I didn’t go to a hospital. I went to some...private and legally suspect facility, where they did some cutting edge scientific operations to my body. The price for saving my life was that I was a glorified test subject for them. That’s how I got these eyes, among other things. They gave me the cybernetic arm too, though that I had to pay for. Of course, your dad found out I was alive later on, and there are reasons why he didn’t want to tell you. Why...he didn’t want me to see you...” she looked down as some emotion slipped past her touch exterior for a few brief seconds, before it was quashed.

“I...see. Wait, does that mean?” Does that mean…. Dad's alive? About seven years ago...there wasn't accident he was supposedly killed in.” Her voice was tight, showing the slightest hope that her father...was still alive. Perhaps he'd had to go into hiding? “Why...why didn't he want me to know? What's wrong, Mom?” Serene wanted to reach out, and offer comfort, but in the same vein, she was having her world view fall around her, as she now knew her mother was alive...if a really badass cyborg. But what of her father…

Destiny tutted, and irritably pinched her nose. She kept that post for a few seconds before looking back at Serene. ”Thanks for reminding me. Until recently, I also believed that. I’m still extremely pissed off about it. It’s safe to say that mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore.” she gave a wry grin at her own joke, which quickly faded as she carried on. ”That’s what made me start looking for you, actually. I never thought of you until -well, I thought of you a lot, but I never thought of you as a grown woman who I can actually find and talk to, until I got him to tell me where you were. As for why he never told you about me, well...I’ll suppose you’ll learn this sooner or later so it may as well be now, from me.”

Destiny sighed, and took a deep breath. ”I’m a mercenary. Most of the time I’m hired as an assassin, though occasionally I get a job where I just need to be muscle, or an espionage job.” She stopped, letting her daughter process that before she even thought about telling her she tried to kill her father.

Serene stared at her mother, from where she lay seated, processing more of what they said. A mercenary? An assassin? The color now began draining from her face, her mind making Serene suddenly start worrying. About what that meant. Before she, beneath it all, tried to regain her composure. If her mom had been here to kill Serene, Destiny would have done so already. Probably, who knew. But then, she wondered. Did this entail her father? Had they worked together, been enemies, rivals? One had targeted the other? She didn’t know, but she slowly made a gesture, for Destiny to go on, while she remained seated, a tangle of emotions flowing through her, she dared not think about the future for the moment, only focusing on the present, the here and now between them.

Destiny stared at her daughter, then shrugged and took a cigarette pack out of her jacket, put one in her mouth, and lit it with a disposable plastic lighter. After smoking it for a few seconds, she blew smoke out of her mouth in a long sigh and stood up straight. ”Okay, so I was a petty criminal as a teenager. Things got worse and more serious from there, and I’d say I was actually carrying out assassinations at….about 23 years old. Complicated and very top secret spy stuff happened and as a result I met your father. We had a nice relationship for the most part. After you were born I even considered retiring and going legit for your sake, in case something ever happened to me.”

She stopped then, and looked away from her daughter’s eyes for a good few seconds, before squaring herself and gathering courage. ”And then I got a new job from my boss. The target was your father. I….I would like to say I had even a moment of doubt or hesitation, but I didn’t. What followed were an incredibly messy few months as he fled from me all over the world. Then he stopped. He turned around, and he set a trap for me.”

Destiny held her robotic arm up to the light, and sneered. “...It worked.”

Serene kept staring at Destiny during all this, and tilted her head from one side to the other, processing this more. A trap...this was something she didn’t know about her father. The mild mannered, polite, red haired scientist who some had called the future, had been...like a spy or something? She turned her head towards Destiny’s mechanical arm, and some part of her almost drooled at the sight again, it looked so hecking cool. Back on point. “I..see? That was uh, when I was still little. Guess that explains why he retired from his own “actions.” If it doesn’t hurt to think about...what happened, exactly?”

Meanwhile, she decided to “level” the playing field a tad, in the form of Serene pulling herself upright as best able, shakily getting back to her feet. She had forgotten meanwhile about the GoPro on her head, but then again, unless Destiny destroyed it later, it would make for good memories and all. Sure, part of Serene was upset, knowing that her father hadn’t exactly been the man she thought, or the fact her mother was alive but had been injured by him. This was sounding like some James Bond meets Black Widow style antics. Her mom had a boss? Or had had. She wondered idly what was going on now and all. But she had to focus on her mother, on the “angel” that stood before her.

“It does hurt to think about,” answered her mother, taking another drag on her cigarette, “So let’s talk about something else. How about we talk about what you’ve been up to instead?”

Track change. Clearly it hurt too much, Serene making this assumption as she watched the cigarette light up from the puff, before nodding once. Only fair to talk about her, she guessed. “Sorry if I asked too much, but you’re right...well, if you mean recently, just driving west. Stopping at or avoiding places dad marked on a map he left me, along with some other stuff. There’s a storage unit...back home, that I got when his lawyer deemed me old enough. He left me a lot of notes, a power suit that might be a lot more sinister now that I think about it...and a magic staff. Oh right!” Serene started, remembering the fact she had powers, her face lighting up at that. Sure, she was under the impression they were magical, but eh. “I know magic! Apparently I can control technology! Dad didn’t know the specifics...I uh, don’t know where I got it from.” Of course, if one thought about it, Serene didn’t have a magical bone in her body, so she was probably just a mutant in that aspect. The way she said it though, with such pride, couldn’t help but make one smile, or groan internally, it was almost childish.

“I’ve also got a degree of science(I’ll edit later to what she actually has since I can’t remember). I’ve been uh, working on the suit dad left...but its kinda a long way from where it should be. I came out west to well...be a hero, like him. That was...the plan at least.” Her cheerfulness drained away, as she thought about how her image of her father had been shattered. From thinking he was some secret hero who she wanted to live up to the memory of, to knowing he was some sort of secret agent type person? Her initial dream...she was unsure about. But part of her...refused to let go of her dream. But for the moment, if heartwrenchingly so, she sounded downcast, sad. Even if hope still existed as an ember. The ball slipped back into Destiny’s hands, while Serene’s gaze had drifted down towards the floor, a finger going up, to curl around a strand of hair, playing with it almost absentmindedly.

Destiny listened intently, genuinely interested in her daughter’s life. Of course, she already knew a little about the map, having heard it from her husband himself. Talk of a power suit interested her, as did talk of magic. That last one really got Destiny’s reptilian eyes opened wide. Of course, Destiny didn’t believe in magic, but she believed in superpowers. Was magic really that big of a leap in logic? Either way, Serene’s claim that she could control technology was accepted as truth immediately. Still, Destiny’s expression didn’t change even in the face of Serene’s naive declaration of magic.

Strangely, Destiny made no refutation of her daughter’s claim that her dad was a hero. In fact, she almost smiled. She definitely looked proud. “Being a hero is a fine path. Better you take after your father than take after me. My daughter becoming an assassin, or arguably even a villain, like me, is possibly my greatest nightmare.”

The idea of her mother calling herself a villian did make Serene start a little, even as her gaze drifted back up, towards Destiny. “Are you sure you’d see yourself as a villain? You’re so...cool!” There was a degree of “hero worship” there in Serene’s words. Sure, earlier she’d been spooked, but again, just look at Destiny. A badass assassin, right? “But that brings up a fair question...I’m guessing you came here in search of me? How’d you find me? Why now, why not sooner?” She was full of questions again, clearly.

Destiny fought against a smile that was growing on her face and lost. She blushed as she looked away. Nobody had ever thought what she did was cool before. She did take pride in her work. Even though she wanted her daughter to grow up among good influences, it was admittedly nice to be looked up to. Serene’s questions were good questions, though, and Destiny decided to answer them.

“I suppose I didn’t spend much time actively looking for you because I was secretly afraid of meeting you. But once I learned that you’d be coming here, I knew that I had to actually meet you for the first time since you were a baby. From there, and knowing from which direction you’d be entering the city from, figuring out that you’d come here wasn’t hard for somebody who finds people for a living.”

That made sense, even if her mother’s words made Serene also blush a tad, reaching up a hand to rub the back of her neck. Or she would have, if not for remembering she was holding the flashlight, and avoided nearly clonking herself in the head with said light. She lowered her hand, and sighed softly, mulling over what Destiny had said, before nodding to herself. “I’d say we should go out and do family things...but the city is what, under lockdown? Besides...if you’re here, then this place is definitely safe and perfect for a base of operations, right?” Sure, it wasn’t the best place, one had to wonder why Serene would find a run down, abandoned factory perfect, but then again, with the chaos outside, could one be blamed for wanting to avoid being flashy? Besides...given some time, hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, the factory would be good for business. And it was basically free real estate, so the meme goes, right?

Destiny chuckled with a wry, twisted smile that betrayed her face wasn’t used to smiling. “Yeah, I’m not really a ‘family things’ person. This place is safe, though, relatively speaking. Nobody’s gonna check it out and there are plenty of secure exits that can’t as easily be used as entrances if we don’t want them to. It’s not very homely yet, though. There’s no electricity, there’s still running water but I don’t know if that’ll last, no beds, no heating, and we can’t exactly turn everything on or people will start asking questions.”

“Mm, you’re right. It would be pretty suspicious.” It wasn’t that Serene’s face fell or became crestfallen, rather that she became thoughtful, trying to think about what they could do to the place, or in general. “We could get our hands on a basic generator, get a space heater, as for running water...we might have to make do with bottled water. It’ll be safer than tap water for the moment, if any of that stuff in the sky gets into the water table, or the city water supply.” Serene placed a hand on her chin, rubbing it as she thought, before looking back up to her mother, giving her a slight smile. “Got any ideas for what we can do, mom?”

“Those ideas are good, and a good start,” Destiny replied, turning away and pacing towards the wall. “If we board up every window with chipboard, and maybe weather and graffiti it to camouflage the factory, we could probably get away with running electric lights off the generator. Beds shouldn’t be hard to come by. Neither should water. I don’t know how you feel about washing with hot water. There’s a gym two blocks away, with showers, but it’s membership only so it depends how deep your pockets are whether or not you think it’s worth it.”

Serene mulled over what Destiny said regarding ideas, nodding to herself a few times. She could run a water heater off the electric generator, probably. They’d need that chipboard like Destiny noted, and while Serene wasn’t sure where they could get it from, she figured her mother could find it easily enough. As for the gym, Serene thought about it a bit more, before looking up to her mother, laughing nervously. “Yeah about that..I got like a hundred bucks or so on me, though gran said she’d send me some cash once I got settled, so that’s something at least” Thinking more, Serene considered what the two could do right at the moment, beyond what had already been said. Then she nodded again. “I should probably get stuff from my truck, after we pick where we’ll be sleeping at first, then I can move all the stuff in there or into a side room. If you haven’t found a room yet. Then while I’m setting up, you could go out into the city, look for what we need? Since I mean...I dunno.”

She rubbed the back of her neck, now unsure what to say. With the craziness outside, Serene wasn’t sure what she could do to help out. She’d probably be best doing support, given Destiny already knew a fair bit about the outside, all things considered. So in other words, she was leaving it up to her mother what they did, trusting her judgement there.

“Yeah, you can set up in any room you want.” replied Destiny nodding. ”This factory’s pretty big, but even so, I’d recommend the offices. We could use the break room like a kitchen. First things first, I’ll get some chipboard and some spray-paint, and a few large water cooler-size water drums, and look into finding a generator. I’ll go and wrap up and put some shades on so I fit in. You pick a room and unpack.”

Another nod was given, as Serene took in more of the information, nodding once more. “Roger that, I’ll go upstairs and set up shop! But first…” Before she ran off to go do that, Serene did something a tad strange, and stepped over to her mother, until they were basically within arms length, and proceeded to do something even stranger. She hugged Destiny tight, wrapping her arms around her mother. Hopefully not bonking her mother in the head with the helmet Serene wore. After a few moments, she let go, and stepped back. “Please be safe, once I get everything inside, I’ll keep watch by one of the windows till you return, alright?” Hope shone in her eyes, displaying her drive and desire to keep pressing forward, to make sense of the chaos outside. Hopefully they could make a difference, right?

Destiny was surprised at being hugged so suddenly, and stood awkwardly for a few seconds with her arms frozen it midair, before she clicked her tongue, sighed and hugged back just as tight. Her hands took a tight grip of Serene’s clothing, as if she didn’t want to let her baby girl go. When she broke the hug, her brow was furrowed. “Alright, but stay low. Don’t make yourself too obvious to anybody who may be looking at the factory.”

The moment Destiny left the room, she wiped her eyes, which had now moistened with tears. Steeling herself against the unprofessional weakness of emotion, Snakeeyes checked the ammo of her sidearm, then calmly went to go and get changed.

Serene herself remained, lingering as she watched Destiny depart, and once her mom was out of sight, Serene turned back around, taking in a breath, before then letting it out. She steeled herself. It was time to get to work. Whereas Destiny headed for wherever she went to change, Serene began to walk into the darkness of the factory, moving carefully, sticking to the shadows as able. She had to set things up, and soon. Mom had the outside covered, Serene had the interior covered, the support side of things...right? Hopefully people outside the factory were okay, yeah? Only time would tell.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Silver Carrot
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Natalie Ellis



Location: Natalie's apartment > Archie's apartment
Time of Day: Night
Mentions: Archie Anderson @JunkMail




It had been a while since Natalie had gotten back home. It was almost the middle of the night right now. Natalie had left the site of her and Archie's battle with Bianca pretty quickly after finding clothes, despite Archie's attempts to sit down have some kind of conversation. Then wasn't the time. Natalie needed to go back to somewhere safe and familiar, shower, dress in her own clothes and calm down. Before she left, she finally managed to reclaim her mobile phone, and exchange numbers with Archie. She gave him specific instructions to text her when he got back home to let her no that he was safe, of sound mind and there was nothing else to worry about. Still no text. He should have gotten home a long time ago. Maybe something was wrong! Maybe he was attacked again! Maybe he transformed again! She had to know!

Grabbing her coat (still with a bloodstained sleeve) she headed out quietly to avoid waking El if she was in tonight, and started to brisk-walk towards the address Archie gave her, which was actually quite close. When she arrived at the apartment block's front door, she buzzed Archie's apartment number, then waited. Then she buzzed it again for longer. When there was still no response, she looked around Seeing nobody, pushed the door open, wincing when the door's twisted, mangled lock clattered to the floor. She carried on to Archie's front door, and knocked that. Then she knocked it again, harder this time. The whole wall actually shook a little.

"Archie? Are you in there? Are you okay?"
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lord Wraith
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Lord Wraith Big Tuna

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________________________________ The greatest risks require a few ill-advised actions ________________________________

_________________________________________________ I L L A D V I S E D _________________________________________________
Location: New Lilith - New Hampshire
Post #7.01: A Vigilante Cometh

Interaction(s): None
Previously: Be Somebody

The stray bullets flew down the seemingly abandoned alley as the gunshots echoed loudly through the cold, foggy night air. Beads of sweat dotted Toretto’s forehead as he gripped the heavy weapon tightly with his free hand, keeping it aloft as he pointed it from the fire escape above the alley to either rooftop. Breathing heavily, he kept his other hand tightly over the woman’s mouth, the panicked breath from her flared nostrils felt hot against his bare skin.

Suddenly the shadows moved as the man jumped, spinning around on one heel as he raised the weapon again, letting off a barrage of shots. The gunfire echoed in the stillness of the night followed by the ricochet of steel as the bullets collided with the nearby dumpster. Instinctively ducking, the man looked around, pulling the trigger again only to relax slightly as the shot missed a scurrying raccoon that had emerged from the shadows.

“Let her go.”

Toretto jumped as the gravelly voice caught him off guard. Spinning around, he held the gun outwards only for an armoured hand to wrap around his wrist, twisting it upwards as the snap was muffled by another gunshot ringing out. Crying out in pain, Toretto relaxed his other hand momentarily only for the woman to see her opportunity. Biting down on the hand restraining her, Toretto was forced to release his hostage as he pulled his hand away.

“Run.”

The hooded figure ordered as the woman gladly obliged. Turning back towards Toretto, the vigilante twisted the wrist further as the welcome sound of the gun clattering to the ground echoed through the alley. The other man smiled beneath his mask before his free arm shot forward, an armoured hand wrapping around Toretto’s throat before lifting him into the air.

“W-w-what do you want?” Toretto managed to stammer.

“I want to talk about your employer.” The hooded vigilante growled. “I want to talk about Chimera.”

“I can’t! They’ll kill me.” Toretto protested as the vigilante spun him through the air before slamming the larger man against the alley wall.

“What makes you think I won’t?” He roared back as Toretto began to laugh. It was a sad laugh, devoid of any actual amusement instead laced with resignment towards the situation at hand.

“I know your game, the whole city knows your game.” Toretto spat, “You’re nothing but a cosplayer, riding the coattails of actual heroes from thirty years ago.” He taunted, smiling as his hooded assailant tightened his grip around Toretto’s neck. “I’ll take my chances with you.”

“I’ll make you wish you were dead.” The vigilante growled before delivering a blow to the man’s face. Hurling Toretto across the alley, the vigilante rushed forward, stomping on the downed man’s knee as a loud cracking sound reverberated between the pair of tall walls. Crying out in pain, Toretto spat a wad of blood onto the cobblestone ground as he looked up at the other man.

“Well fuckin’ come on then, that’s all you got?”

“Where did the truck go?” The vigilante asked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Toretto retorted only for the other man to press his boot down on top of his supporting hand. A single ‘pop’ was all it took for Toretto to know his thumb had just been broken, biting his lip to fight back the pain.

“Where!”

“Go fuck yourself.” A series of pops echoed in Toretto’s ears as he lost his index finger.

“Where!” The figure repeated as Toretto replied only by shaking his head. In response, he felt the pain of his middle finger breaking, quickly followed by ring finger and pinkie and numerous other bones throughout his hand.

“California!” He screamed, “The truck went to fuckin’ Santa Celia!” Toretto exclaimed as the pain finally broke the man. Stepping back, the vigilante turned to leave, pausing as Toretto called after him.

“You can’t stop them, you can’t do anything,” He yelled towards the vigilante, “Who do you think you fuckin’ are?” Toretto laughed between sobs trying to cradle his broken hand as he lifted his broken wrist towards it. Turning back, the vigilante's glowing eyes peered at Toretto from beneath the hood as his raspy voice filled the alley.

“I’m the justice you can’t run from.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hillan
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In the minds of
C R O S S R O A D



Devil Of Santa Celia
Location St. Paul Church.
Part 1.



"You do know that out there, there's chaos, right? For a month straight, Hell's rained upon Santa Celia. People are suffering, living in fear, confusion and terror. The cops are outmatched. They don't stand any real chance with what they're up against. The realization of panic is slowly spreading, Father. Is it a reckoning for our sins, like the flood Noah had to face?" The man said, to the older gentleman on the other side of the booth, they could not see each other, not properly, only small parts of the other, through the grated surface. It was an old church, the oldest in all of Santa Celia - the St. Paul Church, straight from the roman empire, they rebuilt it here, brick by brick after they cultivated this land.

"It is truly a dark time here in our great city, my son. The Priest responded, somberly, bowing his head he mumbled something in latin - a prayer, closing his eyes and gesturing a cross in front of him.

"Does that work? Praying, I mean." he asked the Father, leaning back in his chair, and the father nodded, visible through the grates.

"It brings comfort. Both to the mind and the soul. You do not pray, my son?" He asked Joseph and Joseph shook his head.

"Not since I was a little boy. See, when I was a child, my father would beat my mother. A lot. And no matter how much I prayed that his heart would stop - it never did. Not once did my prayers come true. I used to believe that God wasn't real - that all of it was just made up bullshit. Then something happened to me.. And I know better now, Father. God is real." Joseph confessed and the priest nodded in acknowledgement

"The lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. It would seem that spreading more misery, by smiting your father, wasn't his plan. I am glad to see that you've found enlightenment. Are you ready for confession?" Father Cascone said and Joseph nodded.

"I've done bad things, father. Really bad. I've had sex, probably thousands of times outside of wedlock since my last confession. I've gotten drunk, smoked and gotten into barfights. I've worn mixed fabrics and ate all kinds of meat and seafood, I hear that's still a big no-no with god. I got divorced, after swearing in a church like this that I'd love my wife till the day death do us part - well, I at least kept my end of that deal. I got my Ex-wife killed, Father. God, I got her killed. " He began, putting his gloved hand towards his face, looking distraught.

"Is that all, my son?"

"God, no. The list's just gotten started. That's when things got crazy. I got killed. Murdered, in fact. I came back, but I.. I wasn't quite myself. Not quite right. I'm not the man I was once, you see. I'm someone else now. And that someone else has cranked the bad things up to eleven. I was a police officer, but now. Now I've taken the law into my own hands. I'm the jury and executioner, and I've been striking down those who've done wrong with righteous fury. Well, perhaps not righteous."

"Wait, are you him? That guy in the news, who's been fighting the gangs?"

"Fighting's a stretch. I brutalized them. Everyone from Geseppi's gang, the McNeal Crew and the Suarez chapter. that's 85 men. In a month. But I guess that's what happens when you barely eat, don't sleep and you can only think about one thing. The demon whom you sold your soul to." Joseph spoke and the priest felt the color drain from his face, as he moved towards the door, but it was already too late. The metal hand shot through the wooden wall and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him towards the grated window, and the priest yelped and soon began crying in terror.

"Who are you?!" He shouted, but the church was empty. Nobody heard him.

"See, father. I know I'm not the only one with sins." Joseph said as his lips curled into a smile.
"I know who you are. Who you really are. You're not just a man of the cloth, oh no. You're so much more. You're a gunrunner, a drugdealer, human trafficker and child sex-slaver. You're the Capo of the Lucerne Mafia. And I'm the ghost of your Christmas past." The once dead-man said, as he dragged the priest across the room the Father trying to fight his steel grip, but the bionic arm could not be budged. Joseph threw him into the wall up above the main hall of the church, looking through the stained glass at the people walking on the street below. The priest was about to yell, but soon the cold hand was around his throat again, and the other fist was in his stomach, he fell to the ground, on his knees, vomiting from the impact.

He coughed and looked up at leather jacket clad - sunglasses wearing predator, like a rabbit looking at a wolf.

"What the fuck do you want?!"

"I want the world to see your monster inside, Marco. I want you, to confess. To everything. If you do, I'll let you live. If not, you're just gonna become another notch to me." Joseph said, as he pulled his gun and cocked it. "Decide."
Joseph got his phone out with the other hand and turned the lights on, filming the beaten priest, who's voice was horse from the tight grip around his throat.

"Fuck." He said, as he spit out blood, and looked into the camera.
"My name is Marco Giovanni Maria Cascone, I am the priest of the St.Paul church in Santa Celia and a well respected member of my community... But I'm also something else, something different. Worse. I'm a fiend, a demon. A villain and a monster. A criminal and lieutenant in the Lucerne mob. I've worked with Lucky and the others for 25 years, ever since his dad became leader of the West Comission. I'm a rapist, a thief and a murderer. I am, truly, the scum of the earth. He spoke, eyeing the gun pointed at him.
"And I am truly sorry."

Joseph turned off the video and put away the gun, he chuckled and clapped his hands.

"Excellent performance, father. "

Kill him. Kill him NOW, Detective! the demon nagged, and Joseph tried to avoid letting it phase him. Joseph pushed the father away from the window and sent the video to the authorities, using every IT-security trick he had ever learned to make sure they would never figure out where it came from. He knew full well it wasn't gonna hold up in court. It didn't have to.

"Can I go?!" The father cried and Joseph shrugged.

"Do you feel forgiven?" He asked, coyly and the priest nodded. Joseph nodded backwards and pointed his hand behind him, towards the stairs, and the father climbed to his feet to bolt, only to be caught by Joseph and janked back, this time, with a wire around his neck. A thick, industry size wire that made up a noose. Joseph had tied one end around his neck and the other around a piece of the stairs, he placed something on that end of the wire, as he pushed the priest out of the stained glass, hanging him on the outside of the church, 5 meters above the stairs below.

Joseph calmly walked down the stairs, towards the entrance, as he saw people already gathering outside, filming with their phones and gasping, looking terrified at the struggling, beaten and broken priest, choking his life away. That was, till the wire's fastening exploded and the explosive charge blew the wire clean, sending the priest sailing to the ground, where he broke his legs in several places, people began walking towards him, but before they could, they saw the black clad man step out of the shadows, his gun in hand.

"The people out there, who in the past month have been turned into freaks, the ones scared and petrified, confused and worried. Sad and angry. The ones who have been through hell, and cannot handle it. They, they aren't the monsters. Men like Father Marco Giovanni Maria Cascone, here is the worst piece of filth there is in this world. A new day is dawning. Wake up, Santa Celia. The devil's coming to drag all of his rotten souls back to hell." Joseph preached as the red energy traversed his body, a vague aura of horns growing out of his head as he spoke. People gasped in horror as the gun took aim.

"I realized that God is real, father. We humans just scared him off."
The priest cried in pain, trying to gasp for air, his lips said 'please' but no sound could leave him. Never again.

BANG and the priest's body went limp with a new hole in his head.

The shooter was back in the church when the sirens could be heard, and when the police arrived, there was no trace of the gunman.

He wasn't Detective Joseph Dark anymore. He wasn't a broken man killed by the mob and forgotten by the world.
He was now the Santa Celia Devil, Crossroad.

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Archie



Nothing and everything had changed that night.

After scavenging some clothing to make it through the city without being arrested for public nudity, Archie looked resolutely into Natalie's face and hugged her, right there in front of the badly damaged, likely to be condemned building. After a moment of surprise, Nat had hugged him back, and they sort of sank into each other's warmth before releasing and going their separate ways: Each to their own apartments.

It was only later, sitting alone on his neatly made bed, that Archie came to regret not seizing the chance, not being brave enough to close that last few inches between them and kissing her right then and there. He almost feels like he's missed an opportunity, that perfect moment when his mind had been vulnerable- but in a good way. Clouded by adrenaline, shock, the realization that he had indirection maimed or even killed people by bringing a building down on their heads... All that was left was that sense of innocence and nostalgia, and her lips had been so close...

With a growl of frustration, Archie tosses his pillow across the room, hearing it thud disappointingly against the beige walls. After all this time and he's still a coward. He buries his head into his hands and sits up. He doesn't want to deal with the reality that he had almost taken Natalie's head off. He can't think about it. Instead he considers how, despite her tiny frame, she had enough strength in her to stop him in his tracks. Between drinks Archie's outlook on this revelation flip-flops. On one hand, he seemed to have chosen the right person to... date? On the other, something in him reveled in how powerful he was. The feeling and rush of being the top of the food chain. The apex predator. It was unnerving to be faced with the reality that there were those that could challenge him.

And the reality that there were those that could win.

But perhaps the most damning fact was that Natalie had seen him now. The real him- not just the one she saw in bed. She saw his aptitude for damage and ability to harm others. Worst of all she saw his capacity for anger. Anger that misfired and often aimed itself at the easiest target around because he had little ability to control it and himself. If Natalie hadn't seen it, she had to have felt it and would see it soon. Ellie had seen it- it had always been an attribute of his that he disliked about himself but could never find the means to really change. It had reared it's ugly head the most after-

His whole thought process screams to a halt. With shaky hands, Archie tries to pour himself another drink but decides instead to finish the handle. He cant think about that. He's not ready, not strong enough. He downs what's left, feeling his chest burn and muscles swell. He fights it, but darkness welcomes him. Some small part of him is content with the somewhat open ended outcome, whether he turn, pass out, or simply die, Archie had done enough thinking for the night and would rather not do any more at all.

A few days later, he cannot seem to draw it out any longer.

While ambling through his apartment and revisiting old haunts in his own mind for the past two days, there is a knocking at the door that the man promptly ignores. Calls and texts from his boss- which he answers and Natalie- which he doesn't. Reality is setting back in, though and he has to come back at some point. There is another banging at the door now, with a familiar voice that is neither as surprise nor expectation— but, at this point, Archie's starting to question: what is this poor girl seeking him out for? Why him?

Archie was content to dwell on these questions himself, but sat up abruptly when the whole wall began to vibrate. Seems like Natalie was tired of waiting. Having long since abandoned all desire for self preservation, Archie slunk out of his bed. His body felt stiff and heavy, and he hadn't shaved or taken a proper shower in days. He had bags under his eyes, no shirt- the works. Exactly what you'd imagine when you think of a depressed man approaching his prime. He did his best to ignore the banging and stumbled into his bathroom. He ran water through his hands and splashed it on his face in a last ditch effort to freshen up.

Leaving his bedroom was a a dreadful experience, because he was more and more aware of the embarrassment he would feel when Natalie saw his home. Clothes strewn around, an empty handle of whiskey on the counter and uncleaned glasses. It could've definitely been a whole lot worse, but it didn't feel lived it. It wasn't a home. When they disappeared, the soul of his dwellings had gone too.

He took a deep breath and turned the door handle, opening it enough so Natalie could get a good look at him and hopefully not much else. He rubbed his eyes. God, she was a welcome sight. It took a surprising amount of willpower to stop himself from reaching out to touch her right then- just to see if she was real. A guardian angel sent to rescue him from wallowing further in his own filth. God, he was pathetic.

"O-oh," he began, briefly forgetting how words worked. "Natalie. Hi, hey, hello um," he dragged on. "What- what brings you here?"


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Natalie Ellis



Location: Archie's apartment
Time of Day: Afternoon
Mentions: Archie Anderson @JunkMail




Over the past few days of worrying about Archie, Natalie had plenty of time while working and sitting at home alone to think about Archie, their relationship, and why she feels the way she feels. His reptilian form, and the fact that she saw him out of control just made her think about him more fondly. She wasn't scared that he wouldn't understand her, and she wasn't as scared of hurting him knowing that he had power to match hers. It had been two years. She was no longer hung up on her first boyfriend. The real reason she had been so afraid of dating all this time was 'what if?' What if she snapped and hurt or killed them? Could she ever live with herself if that happened? Those fears were still present with Archie, as well as the tiny fear that he might hurt her, but as long as they didn't both lose control at the same time, one should be able to contain the other. Their sum total of human interaction were two crime scenes and a night of drunken sex. She wanted to know more about him. Talk to him. In a strange way, despite not knowing Archie very well, she missed him. She'd try again today.

---

When Archie opened the door he'd see Natalie standing there in jeans, black leather boots and a beige coat, under which was a grey cardigan. After several days in his squalor, the hastily-dressed Natalie, with just enough makeup to cover up a past of substance abuse, must have looked incredibly glamorous and cosmopolitan. She raised an eyebrow at this very tired, broken-looking man with his shirt off with a scent of booze that could probably get you drunk if you smelled it long enough. Suddenly, Natalie felt very good about her own life of isolation and minimum wage. At least she tidied and cooked. The younger woman sighed.

"I've been trying to get in touch with you to make sure you were okay after that night. Clearly, you're not. Can I come in?" she asked with genuine concern.
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Archie



Archie's breath hitched when he opened the door- his worst fears realized. Here Natalie was, looking great per the usual, meanwhile he had barely eaten or cleaned in days. He looked like a mess.

"I've been trying to get in touch with you to make sure you were okay after that night. Clearly, you're not. Can I come in?" she asked, concern in her tone. Archie glanced behind him at his apartment and sighed. At this point, there was nothing that he could do to escape whatever verbal and metaphorical judgement was coming his way.

"I-" he began, automatically formulating an excuse in his mind as to why she most certainly could not come in. "Yeah." he said, finally. Archie stepped backwards, pulling the door open to allow her entry. He hastily stepped away, moving into the main room to grab any articles of clothing that were left out and running them to his room in a half baked attempt at seeming at least somewhat cleanly. It wasn't so bad, he mused. The only thing that he wouldnt have time for would be the dirty dishes and that empty handle that he should really have thrown out days ago. Oh well, nothing he could do about that now.

Archie returned from tossing the dirty clothes into his room, out of sight out of mind, with a shirt on and shut the door. He turned around to face Natalie who was now standing in the living room, but stayed by his doorway. Seemingly unwilling to approach or come closer.

There was an awkward silence, then he spoke up. "Sorry for not calling. Phone has been dead. Put in on the charger today." he explained. It was a weak excuse and he knew it- essentially meaning he couldn't have been fucked to get out of bed to do a task as simple as charging his phone. But to him it didn't feel that way. He had no energy, no drive to even move. Getting out of bed alone felt like a monumental task that was so unattainable that he might as well not even try. It was soul crushing, in a way, even if it was over such a minute task. He hated himself for that. "But this- this isn't really about that night." he explained.

In his mind he liked to think he was depressed and alcoholic because he was a monster at sundown. It was easier to swallow and Archie, for the past few years had been doing nothing but running and taking the easy routes. It was only a natural progression for him to do it now. In reality it was the death of his son and the loss of his loved one that dragged him to this dark place and made him feel like a monster. Actually being one? That just solidified his own personal image. It was icing on the cake.

Archie sighed, walking over to the counter and past Natalie, grabbing the empty handle and depositing it in the garbage. He turned, grabbing the empty glass and running it under the sink in an effort to busy himself in some productive way. He knew he could only put it off for so long, and decided that it should be sooner rather than later. "I take it you'd like to talk about what happened?"


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Natalie Ellis



Location: Archie's apartment
Time of Day: Afternoon
Mentions: Archie Anderson @JunkMail




Natalie wordlessly entered the living room, and looked around. This was...probably what her apartment would look like if she didn't share it. Her and El had a wordless agreement to keep it somewhat clean for each other's sake, so forced themselves to make the effort. Archie lived alone. Judging by the amount and state of dishes, they weren't months old or anything. He probably had a productive spell every so often. This particular load had probably been mounting up since they first met, at the house. Not that she could blame him. It had turned her deliberately simple life into a confusing mess with a lot to think about and ponder. It was probably the same for him.

He returned from his room, now wearing a shirt at least. His explanation was disappointing, but she could relate. It did raise the question that if he couldn't even muster the energy to charge his phone, and discounting the possibility that he didn't want to talk to her, had he been eating? He asked her if she'd like to talk about what happened. Natalie sighed.

"We're going to have to eventually, but I don't have any other plans today. First of all, have you eaten? This...isn't the house of someone who's taking care of themselves."
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