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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by He Who Walks Behind
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Lynn

Lynn learned several things over the course of their brief dinner. The first was that her hunch about Archie not having any kind of a criminal past was backed up by his own admission - she didn't know anybody from her neck of the woods who had made it to tenth grade, let alone gotten there with a squeaky clean attendance record. Lynn did not enjoy admitting that there was the slim chance Archie didn't have some angle on this whole operation - so she didn't. There were still too many pieces missing from the puzzle for Lynn to look at the back of the box and say it was decisively a pic of Archie not being an asshole deep down. With enough time, the skeletons in everyone's closet started to rattle, and Lynn wasn't going to assume he didn't have a graveyard back there just because he had a drawl and a puppy dog smile. So what got you strapped down on their rocketship, Boat Farmer? Lynn wondered. She figured there was a good chance the lizard killed somebody, but Archie seemed remarkably well-adjusted if that was the case. Who knows, though, Lynn thought. Didn't Dahmer work at a suicide hotline or something? Keaton proved herself to be what Lynn had suspected as well. Smart. Lynn had a feeling that Keaton wasn't looking to make any enemies, but she wasn't looking to make any friends, either. What Lynn figured by that was that Keaton was willing to lie to the authorities insomuch as she could do it with her ass covered, which Lynn found partially annoying, but respected. At the very least, she wasn't still in the police station, like a certain black plague carrying, steel trap triggering rat that Lynn could think of.

Then Lynn learned she was right about Natalie too. You didn't tell the truth, you snake, Lynn wanted to scream. The truth is what they throw at you in the courtroom when you can't afford a good attorney. The truth is what you think you saw and what you told them in holding. There was no truth on the Promise. If they had so many cameras and a machine listening to their words, Lynn had no doubts they had all the truth they needed. Lynn reckoned this one would go marching to the electric chair telling herself it was just a pretty lightshow. Lynn had another, more fitting lightshow in mind, but there was no sense in escalating things here. Dumb as she may be, she's a deterrent, Lynn thought. Like a big, dumb, cop-loving nuke. It was just as likely to go off and kill her, Lynn figured, but whatever the Promise had up its sleeve was a little bit slower to go off with the two trigger-happy juggernauts at her side. Not, to clarify, to say that Lynn was scared of anyone or anything. She just had business to settle, and Natalie had earned the covetous position of being further down the list than she was the previous day.

The waitress bringing food helped settle things tremendously. Again, Lynn started when Archie reached over her for a moment, but her shoulders came back down after only a second. Old habits. Lynn set to devouring everything that was put before her, eating with no semblance of grace or manners. In lock-up, they had maybe twenty minutes total to eat, including waiting in line to get food. Beforehand, Lynn had not been so culinarily deprived as Natalie, but she'd been in the same ballpark. Fast food was a bit of a fancy splurge out for her, and Lynn was leaning into the mentality that any given meal might be the last, whenever Gennedy decided to punch her ticket. So, she figured a pound and a half of Chinese food in ten minutes wasn't the worst way to go. Besides that, Lynn was eager to put some more meat on her bones. Before yesterday, Lynn had entertained the notion she might actually gain some weight and maybe manage to squeeze another inch or two out of her spine here on the Promise, but she didn't imagine she'd be around long enough for that to happen now. Still, Lynn's furnace went through a lot of coal. Better to keep it fed.

Lynn stopped eating when she saw Salamandra walk through the front door - the very reason Lynn had sat with her back to the exit (much as the clatter behind her had pissed her off). Lynn's mind went whirring and processing to place a name to a face. Wasn't she locked up? Lynn thought. Che had mentioned something about her, and for a heartbeat Lynn wasn't in a Chinese restaurant, she was sitting on the floor beside an easy chair held together by duct tape and cigarette-burn-scars, Che's dark eyes staring ahead, talking to himself more than her, with Lynn clinging to his every word. "We could be like the Fire Worms, I mean really put a fucking name out there. They want to kick me out? Fine. Don't fucking need them. Don't fucking need any of them". He swirled a bottle of beer in his left hand, the back of his right hand held to a busted lip, nursed on the cold of a ring.

"I could be a Fire Worm," Lynn said. The others couldn't, she knew, but she could, she could be firepower enough for all of them if she had to. She looked down at her arm, bruised black by the wrist, but her tattoo was starting to come in, she thought, and -

"Yeah," Che had said, staring ahead. He took another drink. "Salamandra knows what the fuck she's doing. A dozen like her and I could run this fucking city."

Lynn looked down at the side of the chair, resting a short finger against the cloth, letting her touch burn a hole in the side -


"Look alive," Lynn muttered under her breath. Lynn looked outside and saw - Christ. Her nose wrinkled instinctively. Lynn had seen some shit before, but something like that was not anything anyone could see and reasonably not take a second to process. Still, there'd be time to throw up about it later (a real possibility, Lynn thought, as the rapidly-devoured meals sat swirling in her stomach). Lynn started to say they needed to shut the fuck up and stay seated, but everyone flipped at the exact same moment. Spoons was staring past Salamandra - don't fucking stare at her, Spoons, that's asking to get your ass kicked - into the spirit world and Archie had gotten up, tried to run away, and gotten caught by her. Yeah, I believe you made it to tenth grade without any fuck-ups. Clearly nobody ever beat you up if that's how you run away. She roasted him a bit but nothing serious, Lynn thought. Archie would be fine if he didn't do anything dumb, like becoming a giant lizard.

Lynn's mind, at that moment, had a great deal to consider in a very short amount of time. Lynn, for all of her rationalizing and paranoid thinking, was not really much of a thinker. She was more instinctual. She could play the game and try to out-fox when she had to, but that was a means to an end. Lynn trusted her gut. Figuring out the fifteen ways in which Gennedy had likely bugged her apartment was the sort of rationalism built over the foundation of he's going to hurt you and not any kind of clearly-articulated thesis Lynn could put together. So Lynn glanced over Salamandra and tried to piece together the first reaction she could have based off the clusterfuck that ewnt down.

One. Guy outside. Nasty. Tough. Don't want to tussle with that. Killer. Could probably take him. Why bother?

Two. Works with Salamandra. She putting out hits on innocents now? Didn't seem like her style.

Three. She's in scrubs. Salamandra either broke out dressed as a nurse or something's fishy there. No fucking MD's for her in LA.

Four. Archie's going to get actually killed if he goes lizard. That means everybody else too, and Spoons is just going to make things worse.

Five. That hit from the Promise is coming, and this sure as hell looks like it.

Five point five. Salamandra isn't the type to do anybody's dirty work, I don't think. Maybe she'd kill some kids, but I don't know if she'd do it because the jailers told her to. Maybe. Maybe not. Doesn't explain those scrubs.

Six. If this is a breakout, I want the fuck in.

"Salamandra," Lynn said. She stayed seated in front of her food, hands on the table. Lynn was perfectly willing to throw down with her, although even in the most delusional corner of her mind, Lynn didn't favor their chances. Lynn had ridden with some tough crowds, and gotten through more than a few tough scrapes, but she knew Salamandra was a league above. Still, there was four of them and one of her. Two. There's whatever the fuck R.L. Stine motherfucker is outside. No, she said them. There's more. Lynn kept her cool, trying to keep an ear out for anything behind them other the panicked running of the restaurant staff. I'm about to blow a hole in another kitchen, aren't I? "Some of us are here under the needle too. Maybe we want in if there's something going on, if we know what it is." Lynn rolled her sleeves up, baring her tattoos. "So if you're looking for company, maybe I'll buy dinner."

There was enough distance that, if Salamandra wanted to whip her ass for that, Lynn could scramble back. If she snapped Archie's neck in retribution, not much Lynn could've done anyway. She was a bit comfortable playing with Archie as a hostage, because she figured in a worst case scenario, he went croc and Lynn could scamper away in the chaos. Some part of her, though, seemed to twist over. Good enough to eat? Lynn turned to Keaton and tried to shoot her a knowing glance. What the fuck is going on here, Denim? was mixed with Thanks for not doing any dumb shit like Spoons and Boat Farmer Before turning her eyes back towards Salamandra but pointedly not directly in her eyes. "Don't mind her," Lynn said, gesturing to Spoons. "She was just on her way out." Lynn figured Spoons could handle herself outside - she could probably bitchslap the Skull Guy back to Earth if she had to - but in here she was going to tweak out and piss Salamandra off. That meant Archie tweaking out, which meant everybody died. If I die, nobody finds out about this shit, and the kids keep getting the needle. Plus, maybe Salamandra was onto something here. If she was a prisoner, Lynn had a feeling she wasn't getting anything close to due process. Lynn couldn't really fault a sister for a little jailbreak. Now, the murdering random women on the street, that did admittedly push Lynn a little closer to the "fuck this bitch and anyone who looks like her" side of things, but Lynn was enough on the fence to hear her out, should Salamandra be in a talking mood - and Lynn figured after five years in lockup, she just might be.

And if one thing was for sure, if Gennedy wasn't behind this, the clumsiest of hits, she was going to rotisserie cook his ass for being incompetent enough to let this happen again.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by SepticGentleman
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"Attention all units, full penitentiary breakout in sectors A and C. Requesting backup of all nullifier and available personnel."

The message looped a few times to make sure everyone was getting it. Patrols, breaks, everything anyone was doing was all immediately dropped, in a single, station-wide pulse of action. The guards all raced to their vehicles, and raced again to the nearest sector elevators - the immense pillars built into the Promise’s bridges, leading upwards in triangular fashion to the central spire running through the ring. That was where the ‘uglier’ aspects of the station were housed - including the prisoners. The parahumans who just couldn’t be helped, whom for it was decided to keep them on the Promise and out of the way of the Earth-side public.

Radvi was on his ATV. He hurried along the concourse towards the sector C elevator. Along the way, he’d grouped up with several other agents who’d split from their patrols.

“How the fuck did a breakout happen?” One of them shouted, as they rode.

“Either one of the prisoners must have broken free and started it, or someone hacked into the penitentiary systems from outside!” Another shouted back.

“Doesn’t matter!” Radvi chimed in, “No matter what, we need to keep them from breaking into the ring!”

They all knew their mission. Maybe some number of the guards were eager to swoop in and stamp out those prisoners like they were a rodent infestation. But Radvi and a fair few others were more focused on, frankly, what many would call a lie - keeping the Promise’s populace safe. Parahuman or otherwise, there were people around who absolutely didn’t deserve to get caught up in all of the problems that had so recently been plaguing this godforsaken station. Hell, Radvi knew a lot of them.

The Sector C elevator was coming up. Built into the center of one of the bridges connecting both sides of the station’s ring. As they made their final approach however, something uncalled for began to happen. A loud buzzer sounded, and a system of reinforced shutters began spiraling around the elevator’s entrance. Radvi and the other guards raced forward, but by the time they reached it, the elevator was completely locked down.

“What the hell!” One of the guards exclaimed, as they all dismounted their ATVs. “Who initiated the lockdown?!”

“Chief, this is Radvi!” Radvi said into his earpiece, putting in contact to Gennedy, “The Sector C elevator just went into lockdown! We’re stuck out here!”

“Ra-... what’s-... y-...”

His voice was being bombarded with static before cutting out completely. “Chief? Chief!” Radvi said aloud, “God damn it, someone’s tampering with the comms! Cara!”

“I have already begun a full reboot of the communications network, Agent Radvi, and I am also attempting to override the lockdown. I must inform you however that multiple distress signals have just arisen within Sector B’s shopping district, near the sector elevator.

What?!” Radvi called out in disbelief, “Fuck, they’re already out!”

“What the hell were we called to the other sectors for?” One of the other guards asked aloud.

“Doesn’t matter right now!” Radvi replied, “We need to get back to the shopping district and secure it! Make sure everyone is safe inside the public shelter!”

“We’re only seven men, how the fuck are we g-”

The guard’s sentence was interrupted, by the immediate yet unnoticed sound of loud, crazed screaming fast approaching the group. None of them had any chance to react as their fellow guard was swept off the bridge by a bald, frail man in pale blue scrubs, flying through the air, laughing like a madman.

It only then crossed Radvi’s mind, for a just brief second during that horrible scene, that there wasn’t a single nullifier amidst their unfortunate group.

“Mitchell!” One of the other guards loudly called out, turning along with everyone else to watch the airborne bedlamite hoist up his victim, swinging him around in circles by the straps on his shoulders. One of the other guards immediately drew his handgun and aimed it at the aggressor, attempting to line up a shot. “I’ve got him!” He said confidently.

“No, no!” Radvi called out, “You could hit Mitchell!”

“Well what the fuck do you want me to do then?!”

Radvi wasn’t given a chance to respond before the bedlamite rounded back, swinging Mitchel around in a few more circles before finally letting go. He came careening through the air, screaming, headed straight for the bridge. Several of the guards extended their arms in some effort to catch him, only to end up watching Mitchell’s face collide head on with the bridge’s railing with a loud, metallic thud. Blood shot from his face as he flipped backward, falling down into the brush below.

“MITCHELL, NO!” The same guard from before had called out, watching in vain as his friend’s body landed on the grass below, leaving him as nothing but a tiny, bloody mess far below the group. Several of the other guards refused to hesitate and immediately began firing at the flying psychopath, though no shots connected with him as he rocketed further and further away from the bridge, cackling all the while until he was completely out of view.

“What the FUCK was that?!”

“Jesus Christ, Mitchell…”

“There’s nothing we can do for him now!” Radvi called out after a brief moment of hesitation, “We have to get to Sector B now! C’mon!”

The rest followed his lead as they raced back to their ATVs, the one guard doing his best to put the death of his friend out of his mind for the task at hand. He couldn’t stop his own face from turning red and the tears welling up in his eyes, but he was still managing to push himself to keep up with his fellows.

Radvi was taking charge. All hell was breaking loose, and he had to do his best to help stop it.
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Keaton Plasse


With the arrival of food came Keaton’s appetite, which she thought she’d lost earlier that morning. Given that she’d only ordered soup, though, she stuck with that, trying a dish here and there as she watched the others curiously. Across from her, Lynn scarfed down everything she got her hands on, stuffing her face like her life depended on it. She had a fast metabolism—really fast. Power-driven fast. Whether or not her life actually depended on it was uncertain, but Keaton figured it’d be more pleasant to burn through energy when there was more of it.

On the opposite side of the spectrum of food enjoyment was Natalie, who quite literally choked up on her food, eyes glistening as she proclaimed her delight. Keaton’s brows went up, and she flashed Archie an amused look, taking a piece of the fried dough he pushed her way. Somehow, the person with a tendency to turn into a lizardman was the second most normal person here. Eating with them was making Keaton feel spoiled, and she knew spoiled well enough to know that she wasn’t. That these three had harder childhoods than her was obvious, but it was only now becoming clear exactly how much harder they had it. So far, she ranked highest on the happy childhood scale, with Archie coming second. Then came Natalie, who seemed to have a normal personality under all the baggage she carried. Something haunted her, some event that left her with hollow eyes while threatening to overshadow everything else in her life. Last on this list came Lynn, who was so jumpy that Keaton was pretty sure some thinly-veiled eye contact could set her off. Lynn was the one who’d lived a life of hardship rather than being recently subjected to it, and it showed, as sad as that was. In their company, Keaton was both glad to have a decent well of happy memories to draw from and envious of the immediate kinship they shared by virtue of the tragic events in their lives. Here on the ship she was realizing she might never leave, she could do with a few people to relate to.

Mid-bite into a wonton, Keaton heard the door burst open behind her, and seeing both Archie and Lynn freeze prompted her to turn around. It took her all of two seconds to place the woman dressed in scrubs, her half-eaten wonton slipping off her spoon and back into her bowl of soup with a plop as icy fear shot through her. Salamandra, the leader of the Fire Worms, the woman who’d been the face of crime in L.A. for as long as Keaton could remember and the woman who’d been arrested and put away over five years ago, was walking into the restaurant without a care in the world. She’d been imprisoned instead of killed, and on The Promise of all places? That she wasn’t dead was shocking enough, and Keaton couldn’t even begin to fathom why she was on this ship. There was no rehabilitation to be done with someone with Salamandra’s track record, no reason why anyone like her would be allowed on the ship if The Promise stood for what it purported it did. But, then again, Keaton had already learned that the ship was a hoax of what it promised. Zero deaths? Boarding criminals like Salamandra guaranteed otherwise.

A scream from outside drew Keaton’s attention to the window, and she watched, frozen, as the skull-headed beast of a man outside reveled in his kill. Fear kept her in place as Salamandra drew her attention again, and it wasn’t until Archie ran past that Keaton finally managed to put a thought together again. He was dead. Salamandra just told him to stay put, but then she seemed to change her mind, telling everyone to get out. And she meant it. She was actually letting them out, actually letting them live, so—

Lynn’s voice interrupted Keaton’s surprise, and Keaton watched in horrified awe as the girl started talking to Salamandra, who’d literally just let them off the hook. And she was bartering with the woman, to enlist her help of all things. Lynn wasn’t crazy, but Keaton could’ve sworn she was, power be damned. Did Lynn think some tattoos and big statements would make a difference? Maybe it would. Maybe Salamandra would be interested. But that guaranteed nothing. Or did it?

Attempting to calm herself, Keaton glanced out the window again. The killer outside wasn’t someone she could reason with, wasn’t someone anyone could reason with. Maybe he bowed to power, maybe he didn’t. Whatever the case, Keaton was dead if she caught his attention. She wasn’t dead with Salamandra, though, so maybe, in some twisted sort of way, Lynn had the right idea in trying to reason it out with Salamandra. Not because aligning herself with the past gang leader was a good idea, because it wasn’t. If Salamandra had been imprisoned aboard The Promise for the last five years, there was a good chance that she’d tried and failed to escape before, which meant that the people running this place were capable of defeating her. Five years was a long time, after all, and if she was going to break out this time, she’d need a lot more than the musclehead outside. In fact, was Salamandra even breaking out? No—no she wasn’t. She was—what was she doing? Testing the limits? Irritating her captors? Whatever the case, it still stood that Keaton had a better chance staying put and talking as they waited for the guards to show up. It was too late for Lynn to retract her statements, and it was too late for Keaton to try and tell her that Salamandra wasn't pulling the jailbreak card. For now, they were waiting on Salamandra's response.

With that in mind, Keaton straightened, meeting Salamandra’s eyes with what she hoped was resolve. Of course Keaton was still scared, but considering Salamandra's ego, she might be offended if someone wasn’t, so that was fine. Everything was fine as long as it kept Salamandra’s interest, kept her distracted and talking instead of killing.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by JunkMail
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T H E P R O M I S E


"Salamandra,"

The woman's eyes shot to the girl, a small and pale thing with technicolor hair. She had some semblance of authority in her voice, and she admired the gusto if nothing else. Perhaps the fact that the little squirt knew her nickname eased her mood- five years off the streets and they remembered her name.

"Some of us are here under the needle too. Maybe we want in if there's something going on, if we know what it is."

Salamandra's good mood began to falter, what the fuck was this candle talking about? Being under the needle? If she was allowed to walk around freely, then she certainly wasn't under the needle. Sally had been behind bars for years now and hadn't been put down yet, and she was thoroughly convinced that she had done far, far worse than anything this one had done in her life. Under the needle her ass. Oh, she was showing her tattoos. If one could call them that. There was a skull on her forearm and- and was that?

"Is-" Salamandra began, a wicked smile breaking out on her face. One of her hands came up to cover her mouth out of instinct. "Is that Mike fuckin' Tyson or Tyler The Creator?" The tattoo was bad. It was really fucking bad. Tears were beginning to well up in her eyes now and she was unable to stifle her laughter. Did this stupid bitch think a few scars, a skull tattoo that looked like Goofy, and a Mike Tyson tattoo? Theriouthly?

"So if you're looking for company, maybe I'll buy dinner."

That did it. Salamandra doubled over, howling with laughter now. She carried on for a few more seconds before she regained her composure. "I dannae what the fuck you're on abou'." she said, catching her breath. "Aint no gettin' off this ship. One way ticket n' all. They wanted ta kill ya, they'da done it already." she said, standing back up. Movement caught her eyes below her, and the young man she had thrown to the floor in front of her. He was attempting to crawl away, and she admired his commitment to getting the fuck out of dodge. Unfortunately, her instructions to the rest of the cafe had not applied to him. "Ya really trynnae stand a girl up? Shame on ya." She said, lifting her food and driving her heel down into the back of his knee. Archie howled, instinctively pulling his leg up to cradle it against his upper body. "We have a date."

Salamandra looked up from Archie's prone form and back to the incredibly stupid but infinitely entertaining girl. "I like you, yae dumb enough to be fun." she explained, her forearms began glowing a dangerous red color, as if they were made out of hot metal. Her eyes took on a dangerous gleam to them. She looked between Lynn and Keaton- whom had the stones to meet her gaze. "I'm just lookin' for good food and a good lay before the man comes n' puts me back in me pen. Until 'en? Fuck off before I change my mind, or I'll kill you all."

Some of the more wise had already left the premises, electing to take their chances with the beast of the streets outside than the monster in the sheets in the restaurant.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Silver Carrot
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Natalie Ellis





If Lynn was expecting Natalie to be angry, she was mistaken. Natalie could have hugged Lynn. What she was doing was incredibly stupid but she was keeping Sal's attention and had also given her an out. Natalie didn't even say anything. When Lynn said she was just leaving, Natalie backed out and swiftly left the restaurant. However, outside was worse.

She backed away into the outside wall of the restaurant and watched with horror as the skull man continued to consume the blood of those around him without touching them. Natalie's legs wouldn't even move. She was frozen to the spot, terrified. So much blood. So much death. She didn't want to leave, knowing people were getting killed. She couldn't confront him knowing she'd die before she got close. She couldn't move. She felt...so useless. She started to sob, and slid down the wall slowly as she began to slip into a breakdown.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by He Who Walks Behind
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Lynn

Cordelia Lynn Holmes was a great many things, but wise enough to avoid taking the bait was most assuredly not one of them.

Since Lynn had come on-board the Promise, she'd had a noose around her neck just loose enough to let her breath. Strapped and collared on the flight. Bound to a bed and told she wasn't medically clear to leave. Detained for something she wasn't remotely involved in by the sort of security force Lynn could only assume was literally making a game of seeing how far they could fit their heads up their own asses rather than stop these freakshows. She couldn't knock Natalie's teeth out for narc'ing on them, she couldn't slap Amelia for coming and talking to her at the cafeteria, and she couldn't knee Archie in the groin for picking flowers for every bitch who looked at him twice on this station. Up until juvy, Lynn had not ever dealt with that shit. If you insulted her, Lynn made a diss track. If you slapped her, Lynn punched back. And if you punched her, Lynn burned your fucking world down.

Lynn was five feet closer to Salamandra before she made her feet stop moving. "Keaton get the fuck out before I glass this bitch," Lynn spat out, some back corner of her mind that was desperately trying to hold back the rest, like a child trying to stop the ocean from demolishing his sand castle. And a kid was what Salamandra had made her fucking feel like. You were the one, Lynn wanted to scream, if the deep down parts, the Che parts and the Lucy parts and the cold parts, could even admit it, You were the one that was never fucking afraid. Lynn was Salamandra when she was getting beat in, or beaten by the six foot two hundred pound bitches in juvy, powerless and frail as any other hundred pound girl, curled on the floor. Lynn was Salamandra when they'd made her burn. When they'd - when they'd laughed. You didn't laugh at someone who wasn't your bitch. And Cordelia Lynn Holmes was not anyone's fucking bitch.

Not ever again.

"You Nelson Mandela sounding fuck," Lynn said back. She'd taken her hoodie off, sometime, she wasn't sure when. Lynn's hair was white, her eyes burning to match, and around her the air shimmered and broiled, the bottom of her shoes just barely starting to run out onto the floor. Where Lynn's knuckles split as she clenched them tight, steam rolled from the cuts as her superheated blood met whatever cool air was left around her. Visibly, the food in her belly had already begun to shrink. "You belong in the pen. You're Gennedy's little bitch."

Lynn spared one moment to glance at Archie, curled on the floor, grasping at his knee. Get the fuck up, Boats, Lynn thought. I =

Salamandra's next words cut through Lynn's thoughts.

She wanted a date. Archie was sixteen, seventeen?

He hadn't had any fuck-ups 'til tenth grade.

There was a man, older, screaming on the floor, his left hand smoking from the fingertips, the number Lynn had dialed in her right idly forgotten, she was gone -

"Lynn, they tried to - "

"They tried what? They tried fucking what?"


Lynn walked towards Salamandra. Ten feet. Nine. Eight. This fat bitch was probably nine, ten inches taller. Maybe eighty pounds. Lynn was going to make her eat her own fucking heart.

"Square up." Lynn hissed, hands rising to her jaw. Along the knuckles, Lynn's skin burned bright enough to hurt the eyes, and her tanktop burned and split where it came in contact with her skin, the acrid smell trailing off her. Where Lynn exhaled, there was a brief flicker of blue flame that traced her breath.

The Fire Worms were a bunch of pussies anyways, and the West Coast had shitty rap.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by SepticGentleman
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Sector B was coming up. Radvi and the other five guards hadn’t encountered any resistance on their way there so far, but they could see the destruction becoming more and more prevalent the closer they got. All the while, Cara was notifying them of more distress signals popping up around the shopping district, and slowly beginning to spread further out. Casualties had already been confirmed beyond the death of their fellow guard Mitchell just moments ago. The longer this breakout went on, the worse it was going to get. And still, they were six men with no nullifier and no immediate backup. They had to hope that the rest of the force would break out of the lockdown as soon as possible.

This, at its core, almost felt like a suicide mission.

“We’re closing in on Sector B now, Chief!” Radvi said into his earpiece as the group sped along, with the communication system reboot having since been completed. “Orders?”

“Get to the public shelter and secure it. When it’s full, lock it down and form a defensive. We’ll provide reinforcements as soon as we’re out of here. In the meantime, any other forces still outside of the sector tubes will be converging on your signal.”

“What about the prisoners?”

“Lethal force authorized. Do not attempt to capture.”

“Understood, sir.” Radvi replied. ‘Lethal force authorized’ were not words he enjoyed hearing, but the present situation left no room for security to hold back. There were so few of them, and so much of the opposition. They couldn’t take any chances.

The public shelter’s location was coming closer. As they drove along the concourse, up ahead came a figure from around a corner leading into a pavillion within the shopping district. A young woman, somewhere in her early twenties, thin and ragged brown-blond hair, eyes wide open with scars surrounding them. Dressed in a standard prisoner garb, several bloodstains adorning it. She stood in the middle of the oncoming guards’ path, silent, holding a soft smile across her face, never blinking.

“Got something up ahead!” One of the guards called out. As they approached, getting ready to draw their weapons, the woman shot out her arms. Radvi, all of them, immediately tensed up, straightening their backs, gritting their teeth. They were lifted off of their ATVs, which all proceed forward, either crashing into each other or veering off into a nearby wall. The woman stepped forward, keeping her arms raised, watching all six of the men intently, with her soft smile and wide eyes still very much persisting. She tilted her head to the side some, scanning over her captives. They floated up above her, arms outstretched. She could feel them resisting, but to no avail. She nodded her head, as if pleased, and then turned to carry them all away.

Radvi fought. God, he fought, but he could feel... fingers underneath the skin on his neck, his arms, his torso, his legs. Wrapped around, digging in, holding tight.

This is what happens when you have no nullifier.



They were situated a single floor up now. The woman, she had already carved out a little spot for herself within an open foot court, now void of any civilians after the chaos had driven them away. She stood by the railed edge with her back facing the open air, smiling as she looked at each of her captives once again. They were arranged side-by-side, Radvi being all the way on the left. The woman bowed her head to them all, and by the force of her will, they all did the same.

And then, they danced.

The woman must have been a ballerina or something similar before she was this… horrible monster, because despite her disheveled appearance, she moved with such grace and elegance that, were the circumstances much more different, she’d be receiving rounds of applause instead of pained and strained looks of terror. The guards under her spell all matched her movements, like uniformed puppets on invisible strings. They formed circles, criss-crossing lines, held and spun each other around. If not for the extremely prevalent feeling of muscles taut in wires, these men would almost certainly be feeling extremely emasculated. And yet, they had no choice in the matter.

The performance went on for several minutes. It seemed as though the woman had started to become bored of her playthings however, as she gazed out into the open air between spins on her heel. After a moment, she stopped, and so did the guards. She fashioned them into a line, Radvi in the very back. She stood by the railing and smiled at the guard in the front of the line. He, against every shred of his will, bowed to her, spun some, and proceeded to initiate a running start, leaping gracefully into the air as he approached the edge, soaring over the railing, and then plummeting into the brush below. She let her control over him go once he was out of sight, allowing him to let out a few seconds worth of screaming, before the silence returned.

She turned her head to the next in line. She bowed. He bowed. He spun around a few times before he took his leap.

And then the next.

And the next.

The second to last guard, the one who had already been grieving the loss of his friend Mitchell, was up. As he was forced to spin around a few times, Radvi could see the tears in his eyes. The redness. The fear. The universal look that told you ‘please don’t let me die like this’. But there was nothing Radvi could do, except watch as the young guard took his run, leapt forward, and fell screaming to his death.

And then there was just him. She watched, smiling, as Radvi did his spins, inching forward, getting into his run, seconds away from the edge…

But then...







INTERVAL 03 - TUNE UP, TURN AROUND, DROP KICK



“SUBALUWA-“

Out of the blessed unknowns of nowhere, D came running forth, charging at the woman. Once he was close enough, he took a leap off of the floor, raised both of his feet forward, and planted them both RIGHT into her unalerted spine. The both of them fell to the floor - Radvi too, released from the woman’s tormentous hold. D wasted no time getting into his own spin, atop his head, flinging himself back upright and standing before the woman, still keeled over. Radvi was free, but he was taking a minute of his own to breathe deep.

Just then, she spun her around, her smile gone, the unmistakable look of anger flaring up in her big ol’ eyes. She shot out her arm at D, attempting to bring him under her control.

Yet, D felt nothing.

She lied there, confused and still very much angry. D simply moved into a low chuckle, until shifting his attention to the right, towards Radvi. The woman did as well, just in time to watch him aim his handgun straight at her, and fire.

The bullet went right through her forehead. She fell limp. She was done.

Radvi let out a few strained pants. The shock of seeing D very much back on the station instead of drifting out into the darkness of space was momentarily lost on him, as he scrambled to stand back up and race for the edge of the floor. He peered over the railing, almost immediately reverting his gaze at the sight of the other five guards, all dead and spread out along the grass below. Radvi closed his eyes, pinched his nose, fought away the distress. D looked over the edge himself, not very pleased with the sight either. But when he turned back, Radvi had set his attention on him now. His gun was lowered, but still being held forward.

“How…” Radvi said, still with some stressed breath, “How did you... get back?”

D just shrugged. What could he say? He never left.

Radvi waited for a verbal answer, but no such thing came. He gave the matter all his thought. Out of the blue, D had come and saved him from flinging himself to his death, but not before his five fellow guards had done so. That… that was no act of malevolence. Even after he’d taken part in D’s, apparently failed, execution.

“Oh, when times get hard,
You can’t give in!”


A clip of a song sounded softly from his helmet. D eased forward as friendly as he could towards Radvi, extending a hand.

“If you need some help,
You’ve got me, my friend!”


Radvi dropped his pistol to his side, and pondered. Here was D, offering his assistance… supposedly. Even after everything that happened the day before. He would normally, of course, refuse. But in this present situation, he had no other guards in his company thanks to one downright crazed escapee, he didn’t know how much backup was on the way - if there was any in the first place - and he had no nullifiers around to mitigate the powers of the enemy forces. D, somehow, was unaffected by the woman’s attempt at controlling him. How? He couldn’t spare the time to wonder.

He decided he had no better options, and he shook D’s hand.
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T H E P R O M I S E


It had been a long time since Death Head had a meal like this. He had subsisted off of pig’s blood and the bare minimum required to keep him going for the longest time. This? This was heaven.

The hulk dropped his latest exsanguinate victim- and continued on his hunt. The bodies were never particularly useful to satiating his hunger. He couldn’t see well, but his dark world was complimented bu red auras of beings that he could hunt. If he was capable of seeing other things, he had never tried. Nothing else mattered, frankly.

The soft cries acquired his attention, and he wheeled around, finding a small red shape that had curled in on itself against a wall. A screech tore from his throat, and he pulled at her. Pulling people was a talent he had discovered some time ago. It had helped him consume by tearing blood from their bodies at a distance. Anywhere he couldn’t reach, he would simply pull.

But when he pulled, that red aura did not disappear. He didn’t feel that sense of satisfaction or pleasure at another meal being consumed. No, the shape simply stayed where it was. If it was affected at all, Death Head could not see it. It didn’t matter to him, though. He couldn’t eat her like this. Primordial anger drove him now, frustrated and confused that his prey wasn’t simply dying. Another screech shattered the air and he hurdled like a runaway train towards her. This time, intent on getting his meal the old fashioned way.



"Square up."

Salamandra leaned back on one leg, one arm crossed under her breast and her chin resting on the other at Lynn’s little show, clearly unafraid of Lynn’s display. Her eyes flashed down to Lynn’s rapidly disintegrating clothing and then back up to her eyes.

“Well ain’t thatta bitch?” She said, not even dignifying Lynn’s demand with a proper response. That had happened to her a lot, too. It was why she tried to keep the heat to her extremities. Salamandra shook her head, more amused than anything else. She had tried to get everyone out peacefully, she really had. Any evaluators would probably be questioning her about this for the next several months. They’d go on about how all of her progress was wasted and how she made their job so much harder. But fuck it, she was on the clock.

She gave Lynn a smile that was all teeth, and her left hand, the one that had been cradling her chin flashed forwards and grabbed Lynn’s right. She felt the influx of energy at this, even more so than she had earlier, and her smile widened. She didn’t know how Lynn felt, but she probably had never been grabbed in this state. If she was surprised or not mattered little to her, though. She pulled Lynn forward and closer to her, almost pulling her off the ground as she did so, and stepped forward. People instinctively resisted being pulled in a direction, and this was what Salamandra was counting on. She placed her leg behind Lynn’s now off balance gait, and drove her right elbow into Lynn’s jaw. The force pushed Lynn, and she careened over Salamandra’s leg. The whole maneuver was fluid, taking less than two seconds for Lynn to go from standing to on the floor. The concept of directional reversal in judo was something Salamandra was very familiar with, despite not having any formal training in martial arts. She preferred fighting dirty and efficiently compared to all of those well practiced and incredibly useless katas. She had learned what worked on people through the best means possible- getting her ass kicked. Having abilities that made her so hot that she could melt through people’s skulls just by touching them long enough? Gravy.

Salmandra was not one to leave a job unfinished, though. That was just rude, and this little girl had asked for this after all. She had continued a pace or so past Lynn after dropping her, and simply turned around, lifting her leg and intent on driving her heel down into Lynn’s head or throat. It didn’t matter to her, really.

Archie


Now, Archie would love to give you a completely detailed account of Lynn being turned into a smear on the floor. He really would. This was the first time he had ever witnessed an honest to god fight like something out of TV, but he was finding it increasingly hard to focus. There were tearing noises, an a shit-load of pain. He wasn’t sure if that was him or Lynn being torn apart or the creature outside going to town on someone outside. It sure felt like it was him though, but it was hazy.

Pain, a snap, it occurred to him that he was lying on my back. He probably would’ve been stumbling around if his leg didn’t feel like it had been bent the wrong way. A small part of him realized how weird it was that he could tell which pain was there before he started turning. Archie was getting bigger, taller, bulkier. His skin stretched in weird ways as the bones beneath cracked and popped. His muscles bulging and warping as they changed shape and location.

He managed to get a glimpse of his hand, which looked like some abstract sculpture made by a hack artist. His finger nails were falling off, and the part of him that came to the weird realization earlier reminded him that fingers nails falling off probably wasn’t normal. Ever helpful, that voice was. It was weird, though. Pins and needles ran up his arms. Normally he fought it, and it hurt the whole time. At least, until he blacked out. Given the circumstances he found himself wanting to turn. It was like a switch had been flipped now and his body was dulling the pain. He wasn’t resisting it and it felt good. It felt really good. Not like sex good, but like he had been plugged into a power plant. He felt strong, and the bigger he got, the stronger he was. He felt like he could outrun a horse. Fuck, he could lift a car if he wanted.

He was distantly aware of the twisting and snapping of his muscles and bones, but was honestly more concerned about clothes tearing apart. How fucked was that? He couldn’t even feel himself break, so his mind fixated on his clothing. He’d laugh at that if he could. While he hardly seemed to register pain, his senses were on overdrive. Archie felt like he was taking the world in at a hundred times the intensity that he normally did. He could hear what people were saying across the street, what was happening through through the window down with perfect clarity, was Natalie crying? He’d have to make sure she was alright. He had promised that they would look out for each other after all.

He could hear the steady tap-tapping of feet on the sidewalk. He realized that he could see through the dark just as easily as he could anything illuminated by the lights above, like something had muted all of the shadows. Most of all though, he could smell, and a powerful acrid scent burnt his nostrils. The smell of sweat, burning, and food. He could taste the metallic signature of blood in the air. As if he was sucking on a coin.

The process was far from over, but it was well on its way now and seemed to be progressing faster than it had before. The living time bomb’s clock was ticking.
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Keaton Plasse


Now, had Salamandra taken the bait and settled down, Keaton wouldn’t have considered running outside. Presently, with Salamandra choosing to square off against Lynn, Keaton didn’t have much of a choice. She had roughly a few minutes until the restaurant started reaching temperatures unsuitable for life, she figured, and therefore only a few minutes to yell whatever she could at Lynn. Calling Lynn an idiot would’ve made her happy, but it wouldn’t help either of them much. Yelling at her that her powers would make Salamandra’s stronger wasn’t too smart either since that’d give away Lynn’s powers to no real gain. Plus, Lynn knew who Salamandra was, knew what her powers were, so she could’ve made that connection herself. Or, at least, Keaton hoped she made that connection herself. Either way, it made no difference to Lynn, who was very apparently fireproof. While Keaton couldn’t discount the possibility of Lynn having more than just fire manipulation and color-changing hair, Keaton also figured that if it were significant, Lynn would’ve whipped it out already. At this point, the match was looking to be a smackdown, and Lynn was pretty small for a physical fight.

On the ground a short distance away from Salamandra was Archie, who looked to be in the middle of lizarding out. He couldn’t control himself in lizard form, couldn’t really control when he transformed either, by the looks of it. He healed fast, in his transformed state. Not in his human state, so he’d need some time for the broken leg. Maybe the pain was helping to center him, maybe it wasn’t. He had some amount of control, at least for the moment, but was that enough? He was too big for her to drag, much less carry, and he could probably break something if he hit her. But he wouldn’t do that yet—yet? His target, could that change? Yes—yes, it could.

Salamandra moved, and Keaton moved too, glancing outside as she rushed over to Archie’s side. Natalie wasn’t fighting the skull head, so that was one less target for Archie. Where she was, though, wasn’t something Keaton had time to wonder about right now.

Crouching at Archie’s side, she looked his leg over, finding herself unable to make much out under the shifting muscles. “Archie, if you can hear me, go for Salamandra—glowing hands. Her hands are glowing. Or the skull—blood-headed guy outside. He’s big,” she said as she looked up at Salamandra and Lynn. Lynn was on the floor, Salamandra above her. Salamandra was holding back, for whatever reason. Using her hands—she was vulnerable.

Her heartbeat in her ears, Keaton stood up, grabbing a plate and throwing it at the woman. “Lynn! She absorbs heat, use something else!” she yelled, then booked it for the exit. Maybe the plate would hit, maybe it wouldn’t. Point was, it’d distract Salamandra, give Lynn a moment, give her an idea of what Keaton was saying. Leave Salamandra clueless. The rest was up to her and Archie, depending on whether or not he actually could control himself. Keaton had too much fear-fueled adrenaline and too little fire resistance to help them more.
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Natalie Ellis





Natalie could feel the tugging of her arteries behind her muscles. She tensed, stopping it as much as possible, but it felt like her insides were wriggling. Like they were alive. It was the most horrible sensation she'd ever experirnced, though far from the most painful. She looked up, and saw the skull faced man screeching and charging at her. Natalie quickly got back to her feet, and was snarling. Her life was on the line. There was now only one thought in her head;

'You're in danger. Kill him before he kills you. Get out of here and out of danger.'

She screamed to match his screech, and ran at him. They met in the middle, as Natalie ducked under the larger man's hands, clumsy and blind, and punched him in the chest as hard as she could, with a blow that would have outright killed 99% of the people on this station if it actually connected with them, including both Lynn and Sal most likely.
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Lynn

Cordelia Lynn Holmes was no one's fool, although she certainly felt like one for a brief moment.

There were a fair number of skills that Lynn had acquired that are worth mentioning here. Firstly, Lynn had learned a long time ago the very valuable and difficult lesson that comes from getting punched in the face, really hard. It sucks. It's unpleasant. Your head spins, your ears ring, your thoughts scatter like the employees of this Chinese restaurant when Salamandra walked in.

But you also learn you aren't made of glass. When you can piece yourself back together from anything short of an atom bomb given enough time and calories, doubly so. If it was going to have killed you, it would have done it then and there, Lynn always figured. So drop an f-bomb and keep swinging.

Second, Lynn had learned how to get her ass kicked before. This is a rarer brand of wisdom. Most people can take a punch, but few people can take an absolute ass-beating. The deep, primordial knowledge of knowing that someone has more power than you and can do whatever they want to you is harrowing. If this was someone's initiation into the ass-beaten community, they may have panicked, or screamed, or shut down entirely. Curling up on the ground and trying to take it was not the most unreasonable of responses.

However, Lynn had spent a pretty mean stint in parahuman juvy, where damn near everyone was bigger than her and got real tired of the shit that came out of her mouth. With Spoon's favorite kind of necklace on, there wasn't much Lynn could do but grind her teeth together and take it. Lynn had gotten the shit beaten out of her more times than she could remember.

Salamandra was just the bitch who elbowed her in the face this week.

Now, Lynn would be the first to admit that she had not expected whatever judo bullshit Sally had pulled on her, and Lynn would probably go further to describe martial arts as a whole as "some pussy stuff you do when you can't really fight". However, Lynn also had enough pain tolerance and punched-in-the-face discipline to know that wouldn't help her. Lynn also had known Salamandra had fire powers, but not whatever specifics she was packing. Lynn was a bit too busy trying to put this bitch down to stop and really contemplate all the possibilities there. So, Lynn all in all would say Salamandra was a dirt underhanded bitch, which she would perhaps have anticipated better had she not rushed in headlong. And in all fairness, her last fight ended when she set off a DIY nuclear warhead in a kitchen, which was as close to underhanded as it got. Secondly, Lynn felt the brief jolt of fear from Sal reaching out and grabbing her - which shut down about Plans A through Y that Lynn had cooked up for most fights, and let it push her harder. Lynn's jaw hurt, but she'd been hit worse, and knew that if you slowed down to think about it, you just got hit again. Lynn knew the next hit was coming, and didn't care when it came. The flip side, Lynn thought, Is she can't hurt me with heat either.

Lynn's stomach cramped for a brief moment, and the back part of Lynn's mind - the part that wasn't getting her ass beat, took very careful note of that, as well as the glimpse of Archie starting to stretch out, sitting perfectly still. Shot clock's on, Lynn thought to herself. It would've been regardless. The corpse outside would've come in or something. Lynn was burning pretty intensely - not as hot as she could maximally go, but Lynn was looking to kill this bitch.

There were a few minor problems with that. For starters, Lynn could feel her heat being wicked away about the time the sprinklers above exploded with the harsh shrill of the fire alarm. Water rained down around them and sizzled off her and Salamandra alike. She didn't know if it was going to be more of a detriment to her or to the would-be rapist, but Lynn figured at the rate her day had been going, it was safe to assume the former. Second, she was still currently on the floor, which began to melt as Lynn crashed down onto it. Not one to sit still, she was already rolling as Salamandra brought her foot down. Once you got on the ground, you were dead. Everyone could kick your teeth out, and even though Lynn wouldn't have known the fighting terms for it, she knew you didn't have leverage or options. Staying off the ground was one of the first things she'd learned from the academy of running her mouth too much. One of the few advantages of being Lynn's size was that she was a lot quicker than most of the people she fought. Salamandra would probably smoke her on any given four hundred meter sprint with those long legs, and could out-wrestle her for days, but an extra step or two for her was more time than a step or two for Lynn. It was clear Salamandra knew more fighting techniques than Lynn, but Lynn was no stranger to a fistfight. She kept her cool as her body reached the sort of temperatures you need for blast furnaces. As Salamandra's foot came down Lynn was up in a crouch and dodging the blow, half a second ahead of her. When Lynn got hit, which was frequently, she kept moving. You still got hit that way, but not as badly. As Lynn pulled herself up she braced herself for the next hit, letting the pain drive her on. Lynn had fully expected not exactly this, but the Promise to try and take her out. She didn't know what Salamandra's angle was, but Lynn was fighting for her life, and she was ready.

There was a quick, adrenaline-frenzied whirlwind of thoughts. Cramp. Cramp. She's not fazed by the heat. She's glowing. That's something, I can do something with that. I'm at waist height. Sprinklers. Smoke. I'm below her - smoke in her eyes. Archie. Keaton. Clothes. Lynn grunted and flared as much as she could, forcing another blast of acrid smoke from her clothing up directly above her - where Salamandra was looking down. She may have been able to eat Lynn's fire, but Lynn had yet to meet someone who didn't gag at a cloud of burnt polyester. The corona of heat around Lynn brightened even as it shrunk, devoured by Salamandra and the dowsing sprinklers. Lynn's skin glowed like burning coals, shimmering across more and more of her bare skin, as most of her jeans had burnt away and her shoes were becoming a melted, runny mess. The phoenix across Lynn's back danced with the blues and reds and golds of her hair, and might have been beautiful if she wasn't about to die.

Lynn didn't know to what degree Salamandra was sapping away her strength. Keaton had shouted she was absorbing her heat, which was curious. Just the heat. Okay, we can work with that. Lynn hoped Keaton was running to grab a crowbar and knock Archie out while he was still transforming, but that seemed to not be her plan. Best Lynn could figure, he was completely out of it while he was shapeshifting, and while she didn't enjoy the idea of giving Archie brain damage, it seemed like the most surefire way of keeping the lizard from coming out. I could knock him out with smoke, Lynn thought, If I wasn't having to deal with this bitch. Without her power, Lynn was only as strong as all ninety-five pounds of her would allow for, which lost to this five foot eight, hundred eighty pound sack of human garbage every time. She could still feel that energy running through her, but it was all getting eaten by her as soon as it ignited along the surface. Fortunately, Lynn didn't need to have all her strength for the half-baked plan she had in mind. She needed maybe fifteen seconds, and one good window, and then she was going to go put the lizard to sleep for the second time. Lynn's jaw screamed with pain, but she forced it down. She could spit out her teeth when this was over. I think it's about even, Lynn thought. Lynn figured she'd have the upper hand on strength if she could shut down her absorption, somehow, but at least they were roughly square. That was more than Lynn was used to. More than the fucking lizard gave me, at least.

There was one other thing Lynn was pretty sure would work, because it had worked on literally everyone Lynn had ever met. Lynn, Salamandra's left leg beside her, shifted her weight for a split second before throwing as much force as she could into a punch at her target, a foot away and off-guard from Keaton's shout.

Salamandra's groin.
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T H E P R O M I S E



It hurt.

It had been a long time since he had experienced pain like this. It was a wet, crunchy feeling that was distinctly uncomfortable. Feeling shards of one’s sternum being damaged would do that to you.

Blood of different viscosities and shades of red flowed from the wound, and that was perhaps the biggest shame of all. He could feel himself becoming weaker from the strike. He was still alright, though. His internals were... kinda messy? Mixed around, having stuff that’s unrecognizable, but the standard organs were still hanging around. His unnatural and abnormal setup had spared him being fatally injured.

Death Head looked down at her and shifted his weight backwards. If he had flesh to make expressions, Death Head would probably be grimacing and royally pissed off. The giant grabbed Natalie by her face and by her arm and tore her from his body. He screeched again, unconsciously pulling at her blood once more. At such close range, Natalie would undoubtedly feel him literally tugging the life force out of her body.

He wasn’t as physically strong as her, but she was small and light. He pulled her up in the air by he head and drove her into the concrete face first. He released her for but a moment, only to wail on her body once with a closed fist, finishing by grabbing Natalie by her hair and throwing her away from him. He did not let up for a moment, charging in the direction he had thrown her. His simple mind deciding that he would kill her.

Or die trying.




The sprinklers were not something Salamandra was unused to. Her heat usually generated fire, which in turn meant smoke, which set off the sprinklers. You get the idea- so those didn’t particularly bother her. What did surprise her though, was the smoke that the girl had thrown right into her face. Most of the time she could get used to it, and simply burn it out before it even reached her if she was burning hot enough, but this had come out of seemingly nowhere. This girl had no problems with fighting naked as the day she was born. Salamandra could respect that.

Her foot came down, but Lynn had shifted to take advantage of Salamandra’s disorientation. Her eyes stung, and as she rubbed at them she left herself wide open for Lynn’s sucker-punch to the groin.

“Sonnova bitch!” She shouted, stumbling back a few paces, her hands instinctively losing their heat and pressing on her groin. She herself wad not above punching below the belt, but that didn’t make her feel any less slighted when it happened to her. Pain addled, frustrated, and with her pride damaged, Salamandra swore she was going to make this bitch suffer before she died. She turned, her own eyes going stark white as they had before. “C’mere!”

Salamandra half stumbled, half lunged forward, grabbing Lynn by what was left of her clothing and her shoulders, and pulled her in while also driving her forehead towards Lynn’s nose.

Archie



Archie’s heart was beating incredibly fast now. But it had not just speed, but power too. It pounded hard against his chest as it swelled in size to support his rapidly growing body. It was as if a war drum had taken the organ’s place, the intensity was so high it was audible.

“Archie, if you can hear me, go for Salamandra—glowing hands. Her hands are glowing. Or the skull—blood-headed guy outside. He’s big,”

Archie could feel Keaton’s heat next to him. He could smell her fear. In a brief moment of perfect clarity, something profoundly sad entered his eyes, his head cocking to one side as he met Keaton’s gaze. And then there was only pain, and an icy-cold rage that sent his jowls curling in a snarl and a growl through his chest. But his eyes? They stayed the same, holding Keaton’s stare for a few more seconds until they shifted into the milky luminescence of the beast.

There was water falling on him. It felt good, soothing even. It was cool, which eased his newly formed but sore muscles. It reminded him of rain. The sound of rain against the deck of the boat had always been his favorite sound growing up. His back arched upwards as his muscles contracted further, spasming his body like he was having a seizure. Archie fell onto one side, rolling onto his stomach and in his rapid and jerky motions he managed to kick himself into the kitchen.

The smell of smoke and piss and blood filled his sense senses. The smells were familiar, all but two that is. Like dry heat, like chemical and machinery, like ink and graphite. The great being couldn’t place them, but it knew they weren’t outright harmful. The other two smelt of napalm and blood.

”Glowing hands. Skull.”

It would be moments now before the process was complete. The guttural, primordial growls emanating from the kitchen were already reverberating through the entire restaurant.
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Lynn

Lynn had only a brief moment of animalistic joy as Salamandra roared in pain before the woman was on her again. Lynn had attempted to scramble away and put some space between them, but the floor was slippery from being only semi-solid at this point, and Lynn's ruined shoes did not contribute to her steady footing. In fact, Lynn had started to sink down into the floor as she stood, which was not going to bode well when one of them ran out of juice. If we got sealed in this shit when Archie comes out, we're dead. As she stumbled backwards Salamandra was on her, bringing her head down to smash Lynn's face with her own.

At this same time, Lynn's mind was processing what her next steps were - calling it a plan was overly generous, but she had two steps figured out as her stomach cramped once again. The third, most likely, was getting choked to death by Salamandra or eaten by Archie - or, at a distant third, devoured by the skull beast walking around outside. A pleasant but incredibly unlikely fourth possibility was that Keaton was able to MacGyver a high-powered rifle out of egg rolls and discarded forks in the back and proceeded to kill all three with one bullet.

Lynn's next step was going to be a doozy. She had about five seconds, she reckoned, before she could pull it off.

But in-between that and step two - which was Archie breaking through that wall and clawing apart everything in his way, Lynn knew what she needed to do. If Keaton managed to get through to him, I can't be glowing when he comes, Lynn thought. And I need to get clear from this bitch, which is not -

Lynn tried to twist her face, to bring her forehead down to intercept the blow, but she had no positioning and not enough time. Salamandra's forehead smashed into her nose and Lynn felt the lightning-flash pain of her nose breaking for the third time in her life. Lynn screamed, her flames scorching up and disintegrating the rest of her clothing as well as a good deal of Salamandra's, filling the air around them with more putrid smoke. Lynn's eyes watered from the pain and she felt a boiling trickle of blood rush down her nose for a moment, but Lynn forced herself to sideline the pain for just a second. She needed just a second more.

Her stomach cramped tight enough to make her think, for one brief, pain-addled moment, that she was pregnant, and her legs went weak. Lynn stopped struggling to pull herself away from Salamandra, trying to pull herself in closer instead. Under the woman's iron grip, this was easy. She reached up and grabbed the back of her shirt as best she could reach - Lynn had wanted the back of her hair, but there was no such luck there, Lynn was far too short - and Lynn hurled up three meals' worth of Chinese food up onto her attacker. She was aiming for the eyes, but trying to maintain any semblance of accuracy when your eyes are full of tears and smoke and your head is ringing from a probable concussion is somewhat difficult. Lynn spewed, and spewed, and gasped and spewed again.

A particularly disgusting, but noteworthy fact about Lynn is that her internal body temperature is hotter even than her outside body temperature. When she commits as much as she has in a fight such as this, her stomach burns like a blast furnace. A great deal of Lynn's energy had gone into keeping the acidic bile that now dripped off Salamandra as superheated as the rest of her. Shaky from the impact and from hurling, Lynn couldn't help but grin (a tooth was knocked out that she did not even register) at her masterpiece. A sludge of well over a thousand degrees, acidic, foul-smelling, and overwhelming in volume had torn the lining off Lynn's throat and had splattered onto Salmamandra. Eyes and hands, Lynn thought. Please try to cover your face or my mouth.

Lynn was no chemist, but she had a rudimentary understanding of heat transfer just by nature of her powers. Best Lynn could figure, they had a nice little bubble of superheated steam around them that wasn't going anywhere, and was keeping the two of them nice and warm and toasty. Lynn was firing as much of her energy as she could into Salamandra, and as close as they were, this bitch had to be working overtime to be taking it all. Lynn knew she could not maintain this for very much longer, but if her gamble - her only real shot at winning - was to work, she wouldn't have to. She didn't know how efficient the older woman's powers were, but what felt to Lynn like thirty gallons of boiling vomit had to put a dent in her capacity. Lynn was fully aware that trying to super-charge her opponent to the point of combusting was not, perhaps, the soundest strategy, but if Lynn had been committed to the soundest strategy she would have walked out with Natalie and gotten clear.

It's not every day you get to throw up on a childhood icon. Let alone a murderer. Let alone whatever Salamandra would've been if she'd taken Archie.

Lynn had hoped she could keep a lid on the rather explosive mixture of adrenaline and a full stomach until Archie had come out to play, thinking that even the lizard's scales couldn't take liquid that hot, but that had not panned out. Now it just meant she'd have to go find a real big stick to beat his ass with once she finished up Salamandra - or so she told herself. Lynn tried to gather her strength to break free from Salamandra, but she was stunned for just a moment - there is physiologically just about no way to deal with projectile vomiting and getting your nose broken within five seconds and stay in fighting shape throughout. Lynn shook her head (a terrible idea - her nose split open with pain once again) and tried to gather herself, but she knew Salamandra's next hit was coming. She tensed, readying for the blow - either my nose or my snatch, I'm guessing.

"You still hungry now, bitch?" Lynn spat, a thick clot of superheated blood splattering onto what pitiful shreds remained of the older woman's clothes. She gasped for air. How much oxygen are we burning? Lynn wondered vaguely. The two of them were causing some serious damage to this place, and one way or the other, it couldn't last much longer. Anytime now, Gennedy, you worthless fucking fascist, anytime now.
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Natalie Ellis





One thing Natalie immediately noticed as she struggled is that this guy was strong too. She couldn't break his grip on her face or arm with her brainless, wild movements. She felt the pulling again, and her whole body tensed to protect itself, and she screamed in mortified horror as she felt the internal wriggling again. But this time he was closer, meaning the pulling was stronger. And though all the blood behind her muscles was safe, the blood between her muscles and skin wasn't. And it was looking for the path of least resistance...

All of her scars opened at once, and though a tiny fraction of her blood was leaving her body and getting consumed, it was making him stronger, and the pain was making her weaker. At least, physically weaker. More blood flowed from her many open wounds even after Death Head had finished feasting, and now Natalie was coated head to toe in a thin film of blood that was supposed to replace what she lost but now only served to dredge up bad memories and blind her, as well as possibly make her details more visible to her enemy.

She was driven into the concrete, punched very hard, thankfully in the chest, and thrown by the hair, all the while she was screaming in distress and pain. But that was the drawback. Getting hurt only increased her fight-or-flight, animistic nature. Only increased her mindset of 'kill or be killed'. It only made her more dangerous. She landed in a crumpled heap, and didn't even bother getting back to her feet. She crawled towards Death Head on all fours. His height would now be a disadvantage, as she as so fast, and so low to the ground, that before he could attack her or even run through her, She stopped him in his tracks by merely grabbing his ankles once they got close enough. He could no longer move his legs. But before he decided to use his arms to harm her in some way, she yanked both his feet towards her, hopefully causing Death Head to lose balance. And for good measure, she squeezed both his ankles as hard as she could.

Anyone looking on would see a crazy, animal-eyed screaming woman, covered completely in blood, topple the hulking, skull-faced behemoth like he was made of paper mache.
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“You still haven’t told me how the hell you got back on the station after being spaced.”

“Cause Little Willy, Willy won’t, go home!
But you can’t push Willy ‘round, Willy won’t go!”


“That doesn’t answer my question!”

The newfound duo had commandeered a hovercraft to reach the public shelter in short order. ‘Commandeered’, that is, meaning they found a hovercraft that had been previously occupied by a single guard, only to have met his fate at the hands of - what would most likely have been - a parahuman who could blow up peoples’ heads with their own. No such aggressor was present however, so they gently removed the body and set it against a wall, then took off with the hovercraft. Radvi drove, of course.

“Fine, then.” Radvi said as he kept his eyes focused on the path ahead, “Wouldn’t suppose you know who’s behind all this madness?”

“There’s a traitor, there’s a mole, it’s a peacetime overthrow-“

“Stop, stop with the songs! Just use words!”

“NO.”

Well, technically, he did as asked. Radvi just groaned in reply, letting silence befall the two for a moment. “I…” He began, D turning his head slightly to face him as he continued. “Sorry. Thank you, for helping me back there. I… wouldn’t have made it, if you hadn’t stepped in.”

Radvi shifted his head to the right. He wasn’t met with a song or sound clip, just a friendly thumbs up from D. He nodded, returning his attention to the road. “I still don’t know what you’re doing up here in the first place.” He said, “But if you’re ready and willing to help with this, this goddamn mess, then... I’ll look past your, ‘prior transgressions’.”

D, in response, played a sound clip of several children cheering, leading Radvi to smile and snicker a bit - something that was, admittedly, very rare for him. But just as it appeared, so quickly did it leave when he raised his finger and said sternly, “No more kicking any students in the face though, that’s over the line.” D’s response was to play a clip of a dog whimpering, sinking his head.

After several more minutes of driving, the public shelter finally came into view up ahead - as did the scene playing out in front of it. The woman from the High Rise, Noelle, was standing in front of the closed-up entrance to the shelter, with a guard-issued shotgun in her mechanical hands - she must have taken it off of another dead one. She had situated herself between the shelter, and a single escaped prisoner who looked like she wanted to get inside - but not for the purpose of safety. Three others lied around her, dead on the floor, shot and killed. The fourth prisoner was a spindly thing, lithe and tall but frail- as if a breeze would knock her over. She appeared emaciated, as if her build was not natural to her. She had long silver hair thatrand down the length of her back. Why she had been trying so hard to get in couldn’t be known, but it wouldn’t be difficult for one to ascertain that she desired to have control over others. She was obviously far from one of the top dogs in the rehabilitation facilities.

“I’ll scream!” she threatened, less weight to her words than she probably intended. There was a crazed look in her eyes, though. As if she refused to go quietly even if Noelle had her at gunpoint. “I’ll blow the doors down. I swear to God.”

“I said, get back!” Noelle yelled, keeping her shotgun trained on the woman, attempting to maintain a threatening stance. The thin girl’s jaw dropped to an unnaturally wide degree and she inhaled.

“MOVE BITCH, GET OUT THE WAY-”

She was interrupted in her action by the approaching sound of-

“GET OUT THE WAY BITCH, GET OUT THE-

The hovercraft collided with her, sending her flying forward with thin trails of blood spreading out. D had raised his head out of the window, playing yet another song, watching with masked yet eager intent at the moment of impact. The hovercraft came to a halt just a bit past the location of impact, but the prisoner was further away, looking much worse for wear - as in, quite dead. Noelle simply watched in bewilderment as the glass pod doors opened up, and out jumped Radvi and D.

“That was…” Noelle said, shotgun lowered, “Well.”

“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner.” Radvi replied, “Got hung up before, but…”

They both turned their attention towards D, who had climbed up on top of the hovercraft.

“I thought you sent him back to Earth?” Noelle said in visible confusion.

“Yeah. Apparently he came back.”

“And now you two are working together.”

“I… yeah.” Radvi replied, “You were able to hold this location well enough?”

“Yeah, I picked this up on my way here.” Noelle said, motioning towards her shotgun, “But the thing only had a few shots left right up until that last prisoner. They all came around right after I did, but they weren’t that much trouble.” She proceeded to toss the shotgun aside, having no further use for it given her lack of ammunition. “How the hell did this all happen?” She proceeded to ask.

“I don’t know.” Radvi replied, “Right now, I’m just focused on holding this location until the rest of the force comes in. They got held up in the sector tubes. Someone forced a lockdown while they were headed for the spire.”

“Who the hell could’ve done that?”

“I think he has an idea.” Radvi said, shifting his attention towards D, who was still keeping a vigil atop the hovercraft, scanning his head left and right, playing a repeating sonar sound. He returned his attention to Noelle and asked her, “How many are in there?” He motioned towards the shelter.

“About a couple dozen short of fifteen-hundred.” She replied, “They closed up before I got here. And before you tell me to go join them, fuck that. I may not be a guard or a parahuman anymore, but I’m not gonna sit and do nothing. I’m staying out here and helping.”

“Fine by me. But you need a weapon.”

Noelle nodded, shifting her gaze towards D. “Hey!” She called out, getting his attention. “You wanna be useful? Go grab any guns and ammo you can find on any dead guards!”

With a salute and the beginning of the William Tell Overture’s Finale playing, D performed a backflip off of the hovercraft and raced down the nearest pathway he could find, on the hunt for some armaments.

“He’s… something.” Noelle said.

“Yeah.”
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T H E P R O M I S E



Death Head’s charge was stopped in its tracks by Natalie’s well timed grab, but his own weight carried him forward, causing him to fall over and on top of Natalie as she threw his legs up. He didn’t even register the fact that his ankles were broken, as he was focused more on the life giving liquid that was flowing out of Natalie’s whole body like fountain. He pulled at her blood again, and basically being on top of her now, the bleeding increased substantially further.

Her blood flowed into was sweet. Almost entrancingly so. Death Head wanted more. Like some unfeeling, unyielding terminator he sprung into action. With an enormous hand he pushed himself onto his rear, and grabbed Natalie’s hair once again, yanking her head to the left side while simultaneously pushing her right shoulder down with his other hand. Natalie’s hands were on his legs, and despite her strength she was disadvantaged by his superior leverage. As if she was a great lever, he crossed her up and then leaned forward, driving his red maw into her shoulder and exposed neck.

The veins that whipped around his skeletal face drove themselves into Natalie’s body, thankfully without much care as to where they landed. Like harpoons they drove into her skin and began siphoning blood out of her body directly, his mighty jaws anchoring him in place.




Sally had seen a lot in her day. She watched a lot of people get shot, she’d seen baseball bats, crowbars, construction equipment, but never once in all her years had she seen someone vomit on the other person. She’d seen people throw up blood and whatever they ate for lunch after taking a few mean punches or strikes, sure, but she had never seen it be used as a weapon. It was disgusting, and clever. Despite herself, Salamandra felt an inkling of begrudging respect for Lynn as she was covered in vomit.

She had always heard that when small people fight, they fight to survive. This little girl was the embodiment of pure unadulterated spirit in that way. She was brash, confused, and more than a little bit stupid, but she had the spunk. Salamandra could fuck with that. In another lifetime, in another world, Sally supposed that they could’ve been great friends.

But this was this world, and in this lifetime she was being vomited on. This vomit was the temperature of the earth’s mantle. She screamed, more in surprise and indignation than she did in pain, and threw Lynn back. She stumbled, falling onto her ass as her hands instinctually came up to her face in a desperate attempt to wipe away the refuse. The surprise was rapidly wearing away, and was equally rapidly being replaced with rage that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Salamandra’s whole body lit up, as if someone flipped the light switch on in her body. She grew an angry red, then bright yellow, and then into a deep blue and purple hue as her whole body took in and released the pent up energy she had been absorbing throughout the skirmish. Her clothes, the vomit, the water that came within eight inches of her body all seemed to evaporate as the heat radiating off of her intensified and spread through her whole body. Plasmatic electricity arched off of her feet and into the molten floor below her as the heat rolling off of her body ionized the materials around her. The temperature of the room was becoming unbearable now.

She was terrifying. A living elemental. She pulled her hands away from her face, revealing eyes that were so bright that they were painful to look at for long. “I’ll kill you!” She roared, lunging for Lynn with a molten arm cocked backwards with what was most definitely not polite intent of expressing her frustration with the woman.

Archie



Salamandra only made it about a step before an entire fridge close-lined her from the side, melting partially as it got close and touched her but still flooring the woman as it sailed through the air. It continued on its flight path, having done little more than a glancing blow on the woman. The fridge careened through the store and shattered the window, releasing a great deal of heat and steam from their previously enclosed location. It touched down in the street, rolling a few times and coming to its final resting place.

The floor vibrated when the titan’s fists pounded the floor in an ape like display of strength. He was so big now that his scutes and spikes were scraping against the ceiling. It surveyed its surroundings, taking note of the prone forms of Lynn and Salamandra. The latter was almost definitely the one that was brightest, but the heat of their bodies were substantially hotter than anything else in the room. This made them both shining thermal eyesores in his vision.

”Glowing. Skull.”

He craned his neck, scales scraping against metal and drywall. The scent of blood was heavy in the air outside. He could see bodies. He could hear struggling. He felt hazy, but he felt the familiarity of one smell. It was female, he knew that much. She smelt of her own brand of blood as all did, but she smelt like adrenaline and fear, too. He could sense the urea in her sweat and the rage in her soul.

”I think we should look out for each other from now on. Help each other stay under control and stuff."

He turned his enormous head to Lynn, who smelt like what rage against the machine would probably smell like if they were a smell instead of a band. She seemed woozy but alive, no doubt further disoriented by the rapid pressure and temperature change in the room. Better than Salamandra at least, whom had received a badly dislocated shoulder from the object he had thrown. She too was slowly making her way to her feet again, but was fixated and glaring daggers at the smaller woman even still. The enormous being decided to pay them no mind for the moment, huffing instead at them and stepping outside. The other drew him in more, and the great reptile knew that it would have a job to do. Natalie was likely losing it in her own mind, and he knew that Lynn’s was tied up enough at the moment. He would likely be the only one capable of bringing Natalie back down again.

That is if she didn’t kill him, too.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by He Who Walks Behind
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Lynn

Before coming on-board the Promise, Lynn could think of two situations that ranked as absolutely fucked as this one was. She was beginning to suspect this was just going to be a regular occurrence.

Lynn did not fight as Salamandra pushed her backwards, privately thankful she had a moment or to to gather herself. Wheezing, Lynn tried to stand but felt her head spin around a bit. She blinked blearily and looked around her. Oh, fuck me, Lynn thought, forcing her fire down. Between her and Salamandra and the amount of smoke Lynn had been throwing out and whatever burning the floor of the restaurant had accomplished, there was a notable lack of breathable oxygen in the air. Lynn's body was pretty damn resistant to poisons, but even she needed breathing air. Lynn forced her flames down to a more manageable level, treating what was more than likely a death sentence as nothing more than a mild irritation. It was hard to be furious at biochemistry when the lower half of your nose was pretty close to a thirty degree angle. Salamandra was gearing up for a haymaker, and Lynn did her best to take a quick assessment of how she was doing and where she was at.

The answer was that she was fucked. Lynn was thrown off from vomiting so violently, and even for a girl who fought to the bitter end, the throbbing pain of her nose was wearing her down. Not to mention she now had a tremendous weak spot right on her face for Salamandra to take advantage of, and Lynn no longer had the speed to butterfly float around punches. Not that any punches were coming her way - Lynn figured Salamandra was going to close the distance, pin her down, and pound her nose until it was the consistency of Gennedy's moral backbone.

Lynn's backup plan/mutually assured suicide pact came through with the form of a refrigerator that tagged Sally shortly before melting into refrigerator plasma and going out the wall. Lynn turned to face Archie, powering down as much as she dared with Salamandra so close by. The lizard made eye contact with her - Wanna go tango in the kitchen, scaleface? - before heading outside. Lynn considered this as a pretty mixed blessing. On the one hand, Lynn had watched enough WWE to know that smashing an appliance over someone's head was a definite boon in combat. On the other hand, Archie was now fucking off killing God knows who, and it was going to be that much more of a pain to track him down later. Lynn attempted to look outside to see what he was doing, but the thick steam and smoke in the restaurant made that pretty much impossible.

Okay, Lynn thought as clearly as she could through the pain and the smoke. Positives is that her arm looks like it's first-day-in-prison fucked. Negatives are that I have maybe two good bursts left in me, no clothes to burn, and I can only breathe through my mouth. The arm, Lynn realized, was much more of a boon than she had initially thought. She can't grapple, Lynn thought, wildly and desperately. Lynn crouched down lower, hoping to salvage a bit more air closer to the ground. As she'd dimmed down her flames, she'd felt her head begin to clear up a bit. I'm gonna pull that bitch all the way off.

Lynn gave her a wide, bloody smile, her front tooth gone. Lynn thought about trash talk, but noticed her mouth filling with blood. Well, if the vomit worked, fuck it, let's hang onto that too. Lynn didn't know if Salamandra was near her breaking point in terms of how much heat she could take, or if she even had one. But for the first time, Lynn was starting to feel cocky. She was going to have one hell of a time putting down Scaly Boat Farmer in a few minutes, but Salamandra was looking at least manageable for the first time in the fight. Lynn didn't have a tremendous amount left in her reserves, but she now opted to shift her strategy - with all the extreme heat in the room, and as much as she'd pumped into Salamandra, she was content to just let the bitch simmer. Lynn was going to keep what juice she had left for her haymakers and only try to flare back up if she got tangled up with her again.

Lynn stood up, naked, blood running down her chin and throat, hair a rippling blue sprawl. She smiled at Salamandra and started walking closer, more cautiously than her initial approach. Lynn was going to let her make the first move, and react accordingly.
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Natalie Ellis





Natalie shrieked in unimaginable pain as the blood was once again drawn from her, her eyes shut and screwed up, and her jaw clenched. Her body, in an effort to replace what she'd lost, was just giving it to him! Pumping more and more past the safe wall of her muscles, which were starting to ache from the collective strain of holding the rest of her blood in. She relaxed her body for a split second, and she died. It was now grabbing her hair and shoulder. She opened one eye to look at the terrifying, inhuman creature, so close to her, just in time to witness it lunge at her neck. She felt what seemed like some sort of tendrils enter her skin, and while they couldn't pierce her neck muscles, they didn't have to. There was enough blood to drink without that.

Natalie was so far into the tunnel of fear and despair she felt broken mentally. She no longer had the mental energy to scream. Indtead she merely let out weak grunts as she punched her attacker again, and again, and again. Each blow tore chunks from its body like a shotgun would do to a normal torso. She continued to punch it until its upper body could no longer be called a human torso. It looked like a misshapen raw burger patty. But a tiny part of her brain, still capable of rational thought, took over.

'Its attention is focused entirely on your neck', it was saying to her, 'and it's getting weaker. Go for the kill.'

She listened to this thought. Her eyes flared with newfound hope and passion, and she grabbed the monster's head with both hands and pulled up as hard as she could. It was tough, and she was straining with the effort, but Death's Head wasn't stopping her, too focused on drinking her blood to heal itself from her devastating barrage of punches. It didn't notice its life was in danger until it was too late.

With a final tug, the skull-like head separated from the body with one last spurt of blood, and the body slumped lifeless to the ground. Natalie dropped the head and got shakily to her feet. Everything hurt. She was terrified. Her heart was beating for its life and her adrenaline was high. The thoughts in her head became unignorable.

She looked round to see several other escaped prisoners, who had been standing and watching the fight take place. Natalie started to drag her body in their direction.

'Kill or be killed', her thoughts told her. 'Kill all of them.'
Hidden 30 days ago 29 days ago Post by SepticGentleman
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Hit that jive, Jack
Put it in your pocket, till I get back
Goin’ downtown to see your man
And I ain’t got time to shake your hand


He was skating again.

Hit that jive, Jack
Put it in your pocket, till I get back
Time and time waits for no man
And I ain’t got time to shake your hand


Within the span of a few minutes, D had managed to land himself a rifle and a handgun off of a couple dead fellows. The one with the rifle wasn’t even a guard, just seemed to have the same idea and appropriated a weapon for herself. D had picked up both the weapons and whatever ammunition he could hold for each. He rolled by a convenience store to see if anyone had happened to hole up there, but no such thing was discovered. Instead, he pilfered a couple glass mason jars with the flippale clipping lids, using one of them to hold a bundle of all the handgun magazines he’d collected so far. He kept the other for a spare.

He continued skating through all the scenes of mayhem, destruction, rampant murder, and the aftermaths of all three. He passed by folks running in whichever direction seemed like it led to safety. He passed by escaped prisoners (and even some regular citizens) doing nothing but robbing shops and food joints for a bite to eat. He passed by two folks hugging, too scared to do anything else. And all the while, no one seemed to pay him any mind. Given that he was on something of a mission, he decided not to go making any unnecessary scenes. Right now, he was just focused on finding another rifle. He wanted one to give to his new best buddy Radvi, and one to give to the woman with the mechanical arms, Noelle. She seemed nice.

He wasn’t too far away. But he began to figure he needed to venture out a bit further, since he was having a hard time finding that second rifle. The first one came so easily! But, it made sense that luck would falter after such an immediate boon. Oh, well.

He rounded another corner, skating in front of a few storefronts. He peered into them as he went and-

STOP.

He skidded to a halt. Inside a Panera Bread, there was a woman. She was the only one there, in the back, making full use of the available resources to fashion herself something to eat - the pick two version of the bacon turkey bravo sandwich and tomato soup (located at your local Panera’s™).

And she looked just like the woman he saw torturing that guy last week.

D just stood there, still, staring at her as she remained unaware of his presence.

YooOOoooooOOOOOO-

He, quietly as he could, continued skating forward, past the Panera Bread, attempting to raise no attention to himself (a rare practice for his like). He needed to be…

Subtle.

...

Arianna had taken the time out of her day of espionage and villainy to get lunch. Planning was time and energy consuming, and she would need to be in tip top shape if she was to proceed further. The ploy had worked almost perfectly, and all things considered she figured that she deserved a celebratory meal. Panera’s was close by, easy, and most importantly it was entirely vacant at the moment. Even the lunatics and inmates seemed to have mostly dispersed out of the area. Distracted by her food, the destruction outside in the distance, and her own musings, she didn’t hear the chaotic stowaway approach from behind.

“Rock me to Russia!”

She barely had time to turn halfway around.

“WHIP THE LLAMA’S AAAAA-”

D’s feet collided with the left side of her face. She could feel an unyielding, unbending force behind the plastic and rubber of the soles of his feet. She stumbled to the side, more shocked than anything else.

She looked over at him, half of her face written with surprise, the other half missing entirely. It quickly reformed, the splattered content of her person making its way back to her entity and reconstituting her damaged face almost as soon as she had lost it. “What the fu-“

D was situated a few feet away from her after picking himself up from the dropkick, flipping back into an upright position. He was whipping his arms and legs around like some child who’d watched far too many kung fu movies. With the accompanying sound effects. He held out his hand towards Arianna, making that ‘come and get some’ gesture. Arianna pinched the bridge of her nose, sighed, and shot her arm forward. It stretched and impossibly long distance, flattening as it flew through the air, and shoved Freaky-D back towards the entrance of the Panera’s. When she retracted her arm, it occurred to her that this Pac-Man looking village idiot seemed oddly familiar.

He had jumped out of the window of the school. She had read about him being captured.

“And here I thought you were gone.” She mused. “Well, can't have you running around anymore and ruining my fun.” She looked behind her at the ruined meal. “Or food.”

D picked himself up from the blow, with seemingly no sign of injury, and certainly no sign of stopping the sound clips.

“Pay the court a fine or serve your-”

“Y’know a lot of people die quieter than you.”

“Dead or alive, you’re comin’ with me!”

She huffed, and her arms shot towards him again, intent on doing far more than pushing him away. He had already assumed a defensive stance, holding his fists up, for whatever good it would do him.

S u b t l e .







For the moment, all was calm.

Radvi and Noelle were maintaining close proximity to the public shelter’s entrance. Inside, the hundreds of students and residents that had come together were watching a series of screens connected to cameras above the gate. They could see their two protectors standing their ground, watching for aggressors. Many of them thought to themselves how foolish it seemed for just two human guards to fancy themselves a bulwark against a potential horde of insane and dangerous parahumans. Not to mention the vast majority of them were parahumans themselves, and some few quite handy in a fight. But they’d come here to stay safe, to protect each other, for any multitude of reasons. Keen on letting the rest of the security force - wherever they may be - handle this mess.

Radvi was still the only one with a gun. It had been a fair few minutes since Freaky-D had left to go procure more arms for the both of them, but such a short amount of time could potentially spell doom in a situation like this.

They stood vigilant. But as they did, they heard it. A clicking noise.

“You hear that?” Noelle spoke up.

“Yeah.” Radvi replied calmly, “Stay close.”

They inched closer together, both scanning their heads around the immediate area. The flat open space, the second floor balconies and walkways above them, they looked everywhere. The clicking sound came again, from further away than where it seemed to originate. Whatever was making it was attempting to toy with them. Radvi, maintaining his composure, raised his handgun - and promptly lost it.

A spike flew through the air. Something sharp, something... organic. It hit the handgun dead on, carrying it away from Radvi’s hands and pinning it to a nearby column. It had pierced right through the metal, rendering the weapon virtually useless. Radvi and Noelle both glanced at it in shock, before turning their heads back in the other direction.

Clinging to the edge of the second floor railing was yet another prisoner - lithe, nigh-skeletal, pale complexion. Curved, blood-stained claws clinging to the vertical surface. His eyes were practically gone, the lids closed shut by stretched flaps of skin. His teeth were bared, long and sharp, making that awful clicking sound still. Emerging from his backside was a long, narrow tail, ending in a faded, blood-red stump, dripping with some pale-yellow, translucent fluid. From the quivering stump quickly grew a new, fresh spike, just like the one that had deprived Radvi of his firearm.

“Jacob?” Noelle asked. No response came from Radvi.

Another noise. They turned their heads once again - two more prisoners emerged from around a corner. One, a tall and greatly muscled figure with jagged, metal protrusions erupting from all over his form, obscuring his features. The other, a shorter woman - no hair to speak of, eyes wide open and bloodshot, limbs distending into thin, meaty whips with long, bladed protrusions on their ends. She hurried along a short distance away from her large, sharp compatriot, covering the empty space between him and their third friend, the wall-crawling one.

“Stay… calm…” Radvi said under his breath. They both assumed defensive stances, waiting for the enemy trio to make their move. The shelter stayed closed - it wouldn’t be quick to open from either side, with that heavy, sealed bunker door.

They could really use those guns right about now.
Hidden 28 days ago Post by Typical
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Typical

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Keaton Plasse


While Keaton knew that there’d been a bloodbath outside the restaurant, knowing and seeing were two different things. She knew the skull-headed man had torn through multiple people and drank their blood, knew that Natalie might be around if she hadn't run off, but opening the door came with such a strong waft of the fresh, metallic tang of blood that Keaton was momentarily stunned, her brain telling her that it was at least five, ten, more people that bled out on this street. The shape of limbs and parts and red masses strewn along the pavement made her instinctively recoil, but a burst of heat behind her urged her out the door.

Stumbling along with her back to the wall, Keaton turned the corner, pressing herself against the building as she peeked back out. Natalie was fighting the skull-headed man, her superior strength putting her on top in the power matchup. From the looks of it, Skullhead’s powers related to manipulating blood, which was too slow to stop Natalie from winning the fight. What concerned Keaton, though, was the almost animalistic rage that had possessed Natalie. It’d taken her over, given her actions an edge reminiscent of Skullhead’s.

Keaton turned back, wrapping her arms around her legs. She hadn’t gotten the best picture of what went down in the cafeteria, but she’d made some assumptions. Archie went lizard, Natalie tried to stop him, and Lynn stopped him by blowing the place up. Based on that assumption, Archie was the only one who had killer tendencies, but it was clear now that Natalie did too, despite her quiet demeanor. Lynn was more reckless than reasonable, and Amelia was a slightly less reckless question mark, but it was likely that Keaton was the weakest in the group. Even if Salamandra and Skullhead were in no position to kill her at the moment, there was Natalie and Archie. Whether their switch flipped today or tomorrow didn’t matter; staying with them was guaranteeing that Keaton would always be in danger.

Her eyes drifted to a camera at the building corner. Right. On this ship, she was always in danger. From what, she wasn’t sure, but there was no doubt that something was brewing beneath The Promise’s shiny exterior. Whether or not all the rehabilitation claims were a farce had yet to be seen, but she wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Her hopes of returning to Earth were as scant as her belief in her survival here, but neither could be zero as long as she breathed. The only difference was whether she’d prefer to take her chances with a crew of walking hazards or keep her head down and feign ignorance, and she knew exactly how easy, how falsely blissful pretending to be unaware was. Growing up, she’d learned quickly that Erica didn’t want to know that her dad was lying about getting better, that Stephen fared better not knowing that his mom left to go meet the stranger in the parking lot. She’d taken these lessons to heart at a young age, learning to lie before she even understood why, and though she pushed herself towards the truth as soon as she grew old enough to weigh the cost-benefits of the situation, the lies never stopped. But that was on Earth, where she’d been bound by social norms and expectations. She was on The Promise now, the ship that had sold her on lies, and she’d be damned if she continued pretending that everything was fine and dandy.

A twinge of pain prompted her to shake her hand out, glancing at the raw edge of her pointer finger. A bit of blood, nothing new The ironic thing was that she’d thought she’d gotten rid of the habit a year or two ago, but that was a thought for later.

Peeking out from behind the corner, Keaton watched as Natalie finished Skullhead off, watched as she started towards the people—escapees—closest to her. As long as Natalie didn’t notice her, Keaton could stay put. Hopefully Archie was about done inside, and hopefully the police arrived with nullifiers soon. Natalie taking down Skullhead seemed to keep the other escapees from attacking, but for how long, Keaton wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
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