Hidden 14 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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"I don't see what my appearance has to do with your discourtesy, it's not like I can help what I look like," she quipped, remaining calm despite the spike of irritation. Who just attacks another persons appearance like that?

Rude.

"I felt some kind of seismic disturbance resonate through the exterior wall. With everything going on I thought to investigate and followed a trail back to your home thinking someone might be in trouble," she explained evenly... it wasn't entirely a lie. "I was shot at for my concern (without provocation I might add), and now you're here harassing me for resembling someone you know!" That mercenary actually hit her twice. A split second [Dragonscale] Fortification saved her, but he didn't need to know that.

"I've had about enough, and Golem does not intimidate me... no offense, Big Guy," she smiled up at the spirit before returning her gaze to Dean. "So, if you intend to kill the cat, then you better call that friend of yours. I have an early start and a long way to travel in the morning, so hurry it up," she ended dismissively, folding her arms.
Hidden 14 days ago 10 hrs ago Post by fate0013
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This, this was stupid. Dean threw his hands up in the air in frustration.

”Okay here’s the bottom line lady! You look exactly like a fucking TEMPLAR that found herself lost down here in the underground, do you realize how bad your situation currently is? Snooping around my house aside?” He wasn’t going to back down. But he didn’t attempt moving closer to the woman. Dean was however getting more exasperated. Even Golem was beginning to look tired, even sinking into the ground a bit until his “face” was at eye level.

Dean rubbed his temples and closed his eyes. ”You haven’t even given a name when I freely gave mine, which really doesn’t help your case here, you’ve already been flagged as a potential Stranger. Oh! And not being intimidated by a god damn [Primal Spirit] doesn’t paint you in a none threatening light.”Did she understand just how absurd the situation was now? Hopefully. He knew what was going on with himself right now at least now that he had the moment to air out the actual issues. Damnit Golem’s influence really wasn’t conducive for deescalating easily but he was fucking trying!

”I don’t want to fight, I really don’t. Too much crap has been going on and I’m NOT in the mood to deal with more.” This is why he tried his best not to get involved with . . . Anything really. Dean slumped and leaned back on Golem’s face. Spirits he was all over the place. Given how unstable everything has been in just this past day it wasn’t a shocker.

Why can’t anything outside the house be simple? Shieldtown is supposed to be simple.
Hidden 14 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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Bored.

Bored bored bored.

If there was one thing Dawn never liked doing, it was waiting around. She laid on the lobby sofa with her feet hooked over the back, her platinum waves dangling towards the floor. She stared up at her Slatephone at one of the dozens of unanswered messages she'd received an automated reply to: "This message was unable to be delivered."

Dawn chewed on her lower lip apprehensively. Archer was out of contact, and for some reason, Gemini was being INCREDIBLY evasive about it. She huffed, blowing a lock of hair out of her eyes. It landed in her mouth as she drew a deep breath to sign and she spluttered ungracefully.

Nobody saw that.

Why did they leave her out of all the important things? She could be trusted to DO... STUFF too! Maybe it was because she'd built a reputation for being somewhat of an irresponsible fuckboi... Shut up, ME! Ever since she had that spat with her twin, everyone was treating her like she was made of glass. Dawn rested an arm over her forehead dramatically. Being the favorite was so hard sometimes.

Then there was Felix. She gazed at her palm for a long time. She wasn't sure how she felt about him yet, but he was interesting... and perplexing. Archer and Dawn were both unique in that they were quite sensitive to the emotional imprints of the Astral Sea. Seeing that knot of trauma twisted around Felix had broken her a little, and she felt awful for coming on to him so strongly now. Intimacy was clearly an area of sensitivity for him.

For him to have such a visceral interaction with her aura as well... spoke to just how connected those luminous body constructs were to the core of his being. They weren't just... replacement limbs, that WAS him. An edge case she couldn't have predicted, but maybe should have been more careful of.

"Perhaps it wasn't meant to be," she sighed melodramatically, adding more patterns to the empty array she'd been tracing in the Lobby's dimmed ceiling for the past hour. The ceiling was alight with brilliant golden thread forming a network of carefully aligned and connected concentric circles. Some overlapped eachother, others were connected by Rays or Arcs, surrounding the recessed ceiling lights like little solar systems. Designing arrays, particularly for unconventional purposes, was something of a passion hobby for her. She'd designed the network of arrays that had been tattooed onto Archer's body at his request.

Dawn held her phone up impatiently and checked her notifications. Nothing... she was about to sigh dramatically when her phone buzzed.

[Hey, sorry! I got SUPER distracted for… a lot longer than I meant. I’ll be right there! I’ll come get you? … Where are you?]


Distracted indeed. She huffed, and began tapping her reply with an air of irritation. The phone buzzed again, and she fumbled with it for a long moment before dropping it on her face with a disgruntled noise.

[Heyyyy never-mind, just, don't move. Be right there. Sorry.]


[Dummy.] She replied, before letting the phone flop to her abdomen and turning her inverted gaze towards the elevator.
Hidden 14 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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[ShieldTown - Interior - Markets District]



"Our Rep-U-Tations!"

"Abhorrent! Despicabable!"

"Siding with Templar! Crusades upon us!"

"Upon us!"

"Nononono! Knife-Lady and Cat-Kitty, Rat guides them! Rat is their Guide!" Rat shook his fist defiantly. "When the Grabby-Chomps came, saved Rat they did! Rat has prowess over the blade!" Rat clumsily pointed the sword that he refused to let go of.

"The blade!" Echoed the others in hushed tones.

"Rat must DELIVER!"

"For Fred!"

"Yesyes, for Fred. Rat will Deliver (For Fred). Rat will also PROTECT! (For Fred) Rat has prowess over the blade!"

"But... what about... The Rain??"

"The Rain, the Rain!"

"Rat's blade will protect, (For Fred)!" He held up the sword. "Rat! We must deliver (For Fred)! Not Rain, nor Sleet, nor Darkest Night..."

"Not Deepest Fear," piped up someone with renewed confidence.

"Not Death!" Called a voice from the rear.

"Not Threat of Death," continued Rat, holding the sword out clumsily... it was getting heavy. "Not Perceived Threat of Death, Temporary Death..."

"Creature Bringing Death."

"Mmm hmm! Suffocation Resulting in Death, not Death by Starvation."

"N-no... but," Rat stammered, dropping the point of the sword to the ground and trying to catch his breath.

"Not Long Sleep Resembling Death but Not Actually Death!" Someone from the front called.

"Shushush!! Shushush! Someone Comes!"

"She comes!" They echoed. The market alley filled with the sounds of scurrying and scampering, some hushed tones and whispers as Rat collected himself. He turned towards the alley mouth as Doll and Maire came into view.

"Knife-Lady! Lady-Knife! Deliveries completed, yesyesyes," he chattered, as he struggled to drag the sword towards her. "(For Fred)" echoed in hushed whispers in the darkness behind him. "Rat guides you. Rat is your guide! Yesyes, Rat's... responsibility," he emphasized, casting a pointed look into the alley behind him. Rat shoved his free arm to the elbow into his pouch and dug around noisily. A plate crashed in the distance, and the darkness broke out into gasps and whispers before being loudly shushed by someone around a corner.

"Doll-Boy. Rat thanks," he intoned imperiously, withdrawing a single Clat from the bag and placing it in the boy's hand.
Hidden 14 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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ID exhaled the longest sigh, dropping to Terra-Firma as she seemed to deflate and relax her shoulders. She had been standing just an inch above the ground by concentrating Mana beneath her feet. She fanned the air to disperse her breath.

"It's Ash," she answered in a more relaxed tone, allowing a smile to twist the corners of her mouth. She came up with the name on the spot, pulling from one of the nicknames she'd heard her associates whisper behind her back. "Mrs. Ashlands."

"Listen, it's not because you're not intimidating, or because I don't respect the things you could do to me, or the dire situation I appear to be in. I have to be very careful to keep a lid on my emotional state. If I give in to fear, or anger, or even love I could hurt people unintentionally," she admitted, letting her Domain of [Fire/Light] get reclaimed by [Earth]. The temperature dropped noticeably.

"Besides... have you seen their face?" She asked, pointing up at Golem. "Look at how fucking cute they are!" She exclaimed, disarmingly. "You're very lucky to have a partner that cares about you. Golem may not have a pact, but your bond is evident," she punctuated the statement with another sigh, crisis seemingly averted for the time being, though she didn't lower her guard completely, she was still observing him very intently.

"As for the Templar thing...," ID paused, unable to completely hide the note of disdain at the mention of that villainous organization. "I can't really do anything about that, what you see is what you get," she concluded, gesturing vaguely to... herself.

"If it makes you feel more secure, I'll skip town early. I can't sleep anyway. Bad dream."
Hidden 14 days ago 14 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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[Stoneworks - Interior]

[A Chaotix14 / XianaEvermor Collaboration]



"Either way you'll be in good hands with Archer. Having a major player in Olympia looking out for you is nothing to scoff at. And don't take him keeping his silent about all this the wrong way, Olympia would've had no problem replacing him with an agent that aligns with their views of hiding the truth had he said or shown anything." Raudd said putting in a little good word for Archer, last thing he wanted was for Yue to lose a good friend and ally over something neither of them had a choice in.

"She can't hear you," Archer chuckled. "But I appreciate it, handsome," he grinned at Raudd with a sultry note.

Noticing that Yue had made little to no attempt at reacting to Raudd's words Zolya looked over to Archer. "On an entirely different note, it seems we've gotten ourselves entangled with your phantom murderer case. The both of us have had an encounter with her and might have some useful information on the tragedy killer."

"Oh?" That news wiped the grin clean off Archer's face. "I hadn't realized 'Tragedy' was lurking around down here. I'd have come much quicker," he replied with a note of concern. His eyes flicked to Yue, who was examining individual ripples in the surface of her coffee. "I think she has enough on her plate currently, but please tell me what you've learned," he requested.

"My thoughts exactly." Zolya replied to Archers statement "Well for better or worse she's taken a liking to Raudd, and she seems to understand that harming me isn't to her benefit. So I'd estimate I'm in a little less danger than Yue, and Raudd obviously isn't in danger at all." She started explaining and hopefully take some of Archers concerns away.

"We confirmed that she is a dimension slip teleporter (non-magical), as I've managed to use my banish ring on her as she tried to teleport around me. And I have no clue where on Ygdrasill's branches her 'home' realm is, with how much mana it drained it's either very far away or really doesn't want her back. " She continued recalling the exhausted state the banishment had left her in.

"And I have strong suspicions that she has a similar degree of immortality as me, however not nearly as convenient as she actively avoided harm. Oh, I also have one of her drones in pieces in my workshop, doubt it'll help much, but it's not doing me any good either." Raudd explained pointing in the direction of his workshop off to the far side of the building.

Then showing a cheeky smile Zolya brought what to her was the biggest gain from the experience. "Finally we managed to finagle two names from her. You know I'm a stickler for names, now don't you Art?" She paused for a moment before the big reveal. "Níðhöggr and Ouroboros, the second one she confided to me in a moment of overconfidence it felt to me. Though I can't say for sure how strong her ties are to these names, these aren't exactly names I'd want to performs those tests with." She finished assuming Archer would know how one would 'test the waters' with names in normal situations.

"Ouroboros?" Archer's eyes narrowed in thought. "That's the name of locked folder in the Director's files. I'm pretty sure it's a project name," he muttered. "I...," Archer faltered, looking concerned. "I hesitate to suspect her, but this does warrant looking in to. As far as tracing Tragedy's origin, Hermes or Thanatos are the ones to ask, they're the most familiar with other realms."

Archer spun Freyja's card between two fingers idly in thought, his eyes flicking back and forth between the siblings and Yue.

"Immortal killer from another realm sounds incredibly far-fetched but... so does Greek Gods living mortal lives in modern times," he quipped, raising an eyebrow. "I'll run this information up the chain and see what we can find out. If she really is an alternate realm immortal, I doubt she kills people just to suit her whimsy... she has an agenda... and there's no telling how long she's been working towards it," he sighed. "It can never be easy, can it?"

"Well, since it sounds like you already have a first suspect that's something we could make real easy. Everyone's signature is slightly different, kinda like DNA, and with supers and mages the variation is much wilder, but I can't tell if it's an exact match so I can only say for certain when it's not a match. And I made sure to get a good feel for her signature, so if you can arrange for me to meet this 'director' in passing we can either write her off as a suspect or move her up in the list, Anyway that banishment bought us time, we just don't know how much." Raudd explained before taking another big gulp of his coffee and grabbing himself another cookie.

"Well. One thing at a time," he quipped, turning his gaze towards Yue, who was now watching the plate of cookies very intently. She exhaled and relaxed after seeing that Raudd wasn't taking the last one, reaching and plucking one off the plate as she slipped back into Real-time. She dipped the head in her coffee before munching it.

"Okay... This uh. This is still a big pill to swallow but," she trailed off, locking eyes with Archer for a long moment. "I trust you. No more evading the topic though. No more tricks or games. I need... I need something tangible that I can confirm with my own senses. Is that something you guys can do?" Yue nibbled the supposed hoof of the Unicorn cookie with a note of apprehension.
Hidden 13 days ago 13 days ago Post by TheRockening
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<WARNING: MENTAL STRAIN AT 80%_>
<DISENGAGE MIND MIST ASAP_>
<MIND MIST DISENGAGING_>

The distortion washed away, revealing the black, pink, and sienna of their huddled forms. Temujin groaned, with a voice more human than his body suggested. His grip on Umbri relaxed, directed instead to clutch the bridge of his 'nose'. There was a throb, throb, throb within his head, as if his brain was trying, desperately, to bloat out of its casing.

"That was too close," the ninja remarked, his false voice breathy with weariness. A second passed as he rotated his gaze towards Umbri. The rage carved into that mask glared right through her. "Didn't I tell you to hide?!" He snapped as he got up on one knee and snatched her shoulder with one hand, all too ready to manhandle her again. She flinched.

"Stop it!" She yelped, hitting his hand off her.

Temujin exhaled. "I'm just trying to help, you slattern!" The ninja moved closer, narrowing the glare of his brows. His hand snatched her wrist before she could blink. "The only place you're walking into with that ankle is a casket."

Umbri almost cried out again as she was pulled. Her hand wrung in his grip, and her head jerked up, eyes furious and glossy.

"Your. Help. Hurts," she almost growled. She was shivering, lips turning dry and white under chapped lipstick. Her sweat took on a sickly viscous quality. She tugged her wrist against him and flicked her eyes down. "... Please," she mustered, with a controlled softness.

Temujin's grip loosened. He stared at her in silence, and the shadow of pity surfaced within his pitch black eyes. Words and numbers and graphs flickered over his vision. Spiking heart rate. Plunging blood pressure. Erratic breathing. "Were you bitten?" He asked, looking Umbri over as he released his hold. "You have to tell me. Now."

She shook her head as she hauled herself up, biting back the stab of pain in her ankle. "No. I'm fine. You've done enough," she rasped and leaned against the shipping crate to start hobbling away. She waved a hand in the air, brushing him off. "Tell me the name of your manufacturer and I'll - mmgh, ow - leave a customer review."

"My what?" He asked, his head tilted. There was a pause, a scoff, as Temujin caught up to her thoughts. "I'm not a product. I'm my own man, with my own soul, my own face!" He claimed, gesturing at his mask. "You think the corpos above give enough of a shit to save dregs like you? No…" The ninja shook his head, then slammed a hand against the wall to halt her escape. "I do."

"Man?" Umbri uttered. Her gaze traveled down over the body of smoking synthetic muscles in her path. It's all Chrome. The realization trickled in like an icicle dripping down her back. Much more than eight implants. Her foot shifted away from him. "Then I… I should thank you," she forced, mustered up a grateful nod, then turned around. "Now get the hell away from me -"

Light spots blinded her. She staggered and fell against the shipping crate with a cry, a sudden flare of heat pulsing from the back of her neck. She brought a hand up, pushing under the wig to touch it, and Temujin saw it. A wound, tinging the flesh neon green, with unnatural glowing veins spreading from the source.

"...! Stop!" Temujin yelped, then coaxed her hand out of the way. Words and numbers flashed over his vision, most of which he barely understood. He didn't need them to see the danger. "This is bad. This is really bad," he murmured, cradling around her neck with the gentlest touch he could muster. "I have to go after it. Cut off the stinger. Synthesize an anti-venom." Umbri replied with a barely lucid, "Huh?" and limply batted at his hand, fighting him off.

Temujin sighed. In her current condition, she was no more than dead weight. Yet he felt uneasy leaving her unattended. The ninja glanced at the shipping crate, then back at Umbri. "Hey. Hey!" He barked, turning her attention to him with a hand on the cheek. "You need to stay here. Stay and hide. Are you listening?"

Her eyes slid to the hand the cyberpsycho couldn’t keep off her. She thought of something to say - spit at him - that, she assumed, would only invite violence. She nodded.

“Good…,” he replied. “Good.” The ninja drew his hand back and stood. He looked to where the Thresher had gone off to, and paused with uncharacteristic hesitation. He was loath to take on such a dangerous creature by himself… but calling for help from the other Rogues seemed an even more distasteful proposition. No… its death can come later. He just needed one good cut. He was good at that. The ninja looked back to Umbri one last time, with eyes that lingered to her pallid, weary body. “I’ll be quick.” And just like that, Temujin was gone, spraying Umbri with a burst of cold water as he zipped in the blink of an eye.
Hidden 13 days ago 10 hrs ago Post by fate0013
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Oh thank the spirits that worked! Dean celebrated inwardly. She had introduced herself and was retracting her domain. ”Well, nice to finally meet you properly Ash- wait what do you mean cute?”

Dean scrunched his brows, stood up, and turned to see Golem had instead been in a scaled up version of his diminutive form. Which was considerably more harmless looking compared to the spirit’s natural state. ”You didn’t even put on your war face?! Come on man really??!” it was no wonder it didn’t work. It was like having a giant ready bear made of rock try to intimidate you. Ash’s comment about Golem’s evident bond with him despite no formal contract did strike a cord though.

[I like you young one, let’s be friends.]

The first words Golem had ever said to him echoed in his head as Dean over dramatically lamented at his partners failed assistance in trying to be serious and scary.

Ash seemed to grasp the situation and took it in stride. Her offer to leave sooner rather then later did help alleviate some of his previous fears. But you can’t be too careful.

”Downsides of the awoken world, bad dreams and nightmares are so much worse. Hold that thought for a sec-“ Dean began shuffling around through his pockets before finding the trinket he was looking for. ”Ah ha! There you are.” clutched in his hand was what looked like a broken heart locket.

It might be seen as a waste of a one time charm from someone else, but a Hedge Mage survived on being prepared and paranoid. Dean crushed the charm in hand and let it’s magic flow through him, a growing aura emulating from his astral body. Threads of golden light in tightly controlled patterns emo sting past his own green, smells like bay leaf and palm now overpowering the caramel. The sensation of silken thread danced across his skin.

Dawn really didn’t mess around with this charm. Crap it was gonna stick around for a while then.

. . . . .

Fuck if Archer comes back he wouldn’t hear the end of it. Shit Dawn was gonna know he used it somehow anyway and he’d still get teased.

Welp, no turning back now. He looked to Ash and straightened up. ”One question before I make you some hospitality for my rudeness. If you will indulge me. You are, to your own knowledge, not a person with Stranger powers or using any methods to make yourself look like that are you?” he could feel the aura working against him now already as it Encompassed the two of them now. Damn, he was gonna have to choose his words carefully for who knows how long.
Hidden 13 days ago 13 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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ID let out the other half of the breath she was holding, fanning it away to prevent it from accumulating. Last thing she needed right now was an accidental detonation. ShieldTown was near guaranteed to be a safe locale, and to boot it was protected by a Hedge Mage of some skill, at least judging by the quality of the charms and wards scattered throughout the settlement. When she chose this location as her rest point she had no idea the magician in question was from the prestigious Locklear family... a tidbit of information Mother would definitely be interested in.

She spent most of her time there recuperating after operations, so not having to burn this bridge was definitely preferable. As for the Templar he mentioned... they could be housing her sister. They bore a strong resemblance, but Dean didn't need to know that.

Wait... what was he doing? He crushed something in his hand and she squinted against the golden light... what a peculiar signature: she'd never seen one that arranged itself naturally into patterns before. What kind of magic was that? A detection spell?

"I have modest skill with [Illusion] magic, can turn myself invisible from mundane eyes, and make minor alterations to my appearance," she admitted before snapping her hands over her mouth with a surprised expression. A simple "no" would have sufficed. "I like to have done up eyes, but I'm terrible at makeup!" she blurted out, after stammering for a long minute.

"My eye-shadow, liner, and mascara are all illusions! Aaaah! What have you done?!"
Hidden 13 days ago Post by ZombiesAnHyenas
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[Titan's Fall - Templar Tower - The Lobby]




[Dummy.]
Came the reply, leaving Felix blinking slowly as he tossed the burst of emotions in his chest around. Hm.
First came the swirl of irritation, followed and mixed with a whorl of admiration. Alongside that? A helping of guilt.
He definitely didn't MEAN to forget about her, but, sometimes work was just... So much more fun!

Anyways. Felix cleared his throat and turned on a heel, hand darting out to grab an unoccupied emitter-card. This one was... Entirely lacking in formatting, and would need to be coded by the time he got back, buuuut he could go ahead and get some prefabs set in on it while he was within range of The Tower!
Yay for potentially super duper illegal AI that apparently only a few knew about! Yay! Yayyyy!

Felix blinked, realizing he had been standing in place for... Huh. Four minutes. Wow. He needed to move, oops.

"Hhhhey Sovereign? Would you be so willing as to assist me down the stairs?"
He got an affirmative Beep-beep-beeeee-, and then, with a single blink and a gasp...

He was stood directly in front of Dawn, smiling brightly at her as the world yanked back into view.
He bowed, extending a hand in an exaggerated motion; not too dissimilar to a butler. If said butler was wearing a shit eating grin.
"Yeah hi, sorry! Sorry, I TOTALLY got distracted making... Something interesting! Working on something new always gets that, y'know, creatives focus-- ANYWAYS! Hold on, sorry! Okay. Okay! So. My meds should kick innnnn, in like, like, maybe three minutes and eighteen... Seventeen... Sixteen... Yeah, you get the idea."

He paused, making eye contact with her before continuing, rambling like a speeding train on the rails. "So! If you're still up for it, we're gonna A) go get some coffee and something to snack on, and B) if you're down for it, we're gonna fuck with your boss and SINS s'more."
Hidden 10 days ago Post by ZombiesAnHyenas
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Titan's Fall, The Undercity, Underground Headquarters Ichabod




To say that Maria Menagerie was having an interesting day would be, above all else, quite a disservice. If it wasn't the fact that one of her more experimental project/facilities was completely AWOL/destroyed, it was the fact that some of those under her direct supervision were getting... Big for their britches.
'The board' had wanted a meeting today. Apparently some site-directors of no small repute and size were getting nervous. They were losing sight of the future, and losing focus on the tasks at hand. 'The size of the projects, and the amount of them, are unreasonable!' they had decried.

Maria had rectified that.
Reminded them of what they could do with the limitless potential at their finger tips. Reminded them of what they accomplished without her input, and how she fully believed they could manage this much. Reminded them that they were the reason for this companies success, and that she only wished to see them push that much harder.
Reminded them of what they [SWORE], when they joined the upper echelon of employment at Menagerie Technical.
Only one needed to be... Re-educated. His departure was saddening, for sure, but the chance to teach with his leaving was beyond beneficial.
She hadn't even needed to be nearby to watch the [MANA] break his mind, to weave the threads of insanity that boiled and warped his thoughts.
He didn't know any of them! Where was he!? Who was he? Well! He couldn't very well keep the extremely sensitive data on his computer! This was after-all, not his to keep!
He left the conference call at that point.
He would not be seen for weeks, only reappearing later, under the scalpel of one of their cyber-ware clinics, while another of the more... Questionably dedicated, was on site nearby.

Maria huffed. Twitching like a spider's limb as Thomas- Her assistant- leaned over and placed a cup of faintly luminous coffee on her desk.
She gave him a nod, mentally twisting on the corded [ROPE-BRAID-CHAIN-WEB] that spanned between them. Another silent conversation passed between the two, with Maria staring Thomas directly in the eye the entire time.
Thomas nodded once. The conversation came to an abrupt end, the man silently striding off, and out of her office. He knew what she wanted of him.

She turned then, tapping twice upon the table-top of her desk as a keyboard overlay formed itself in the glossy plas-steel. Two points of light bloomed on the far corners, cycling through a multitude of colors. Then, quick as a blink, a holographic screen displayed itself before her.
Two taps; the screen shifts; and ID's tag displays itself on a map. Another two taps; the screen shifts only slightly; and MG's tag displays.
This process continues for precisely two minutes, and only stops when there are a total of sixteen tags moving throughout the Under City.
Maria hums, leans back, and watches quietly.

Perhaps it was time for her to start getting everything moving. Hm.



Shieldtown, Interior


They were walking now. Why were they walking? What had happened?
A force. Right. [ARTEMIS]. Right. Where… On a wall. Right.

J-3 shook its head, grappling with discordant thoughts and observations. There was… A threat display! Right? It was a threat display, had to have been. The other one only ever did threat displays, the one of [SUN AND FLAME].
And then there was [EARTH], still there. Still under their feet, watching. Was it still watching? Where was it? Where had it gone?
Had it always been so stifling in this town? This was home at some point— Wait.

A memory; but disjointed and foggy. It skipped through their mind like a scratched vinyl.
There was a flash; a familiar face; a smile given as he lifted— It skipped.
She was laughing; an instance cleared! Kasha was- It skipped.
She was crying; messy breakup; his was the only safe place to go- It skipped.
Chrome and plastic at her finger-tips; an attachment gone awry; a bad Fixer residing nearby- It skipped.
He was frowning at her now, she was yelling at him. An argument. She had to go to the Graves— it skipped.
Scrambling through the rubble, running. A flash of fire, brilliantly hot. Debris flares to ash. A cry on the lips.
Help me—
It skipped.

THUMP
J-3 stumbled to a stop, shaking their head and staring upwards. They had walked into something. The idea of it just, wasn't coming to mind. Like sand in a sieve. The information just wasn't sticking! WHY!? Oh- Wait that- Never-mind. It was making sense now.
There was a building in front of them, and it blinded them with deja-vu. Did they recognize this house? And... And it was a house. Two stories… and… And the finer details of it slid past their mind. Like trying to take in the shape of it was impossible. The idea of a house was impossible to grasp. Shelter, yes, but, not what a house actually signified.
Where were they? What was happening?
Golden-threaded light danced in the air, abrupt and attention grabbing. The street. An intersection? Magic ward interlaced over the air. Unawakened and awakened both would avoid the area.
Two familiarly unfamiliar signatures tainted the air, as J-3 moved to a better vantage point. [THE ONE OF SUN AND FLAME] and [EARTH] were communicating. Arguing. A [ZONE OF TRUTH] had formed.
Their hearing was just sensitive enough to pick up what they were saying, from the distance that the two were at.

J-3 twitched, watching as communications developed. Then, with grace and strength that belied the shape they were in, J-3 turned and sprinted away. They wanted no part of whatever was happening there. Where were they anyways? What was happening...?

Rat! Rat. They had to find Rat, and The Sword Queen. How long had it been? Why was it so hard to think?!

J-3 scrambled along. Unknowingly leaving whorls in the manascape around them. Inky black-purple-pink, swaying like kelp in ocean currents, and filled with terror and confusion.
Hidden 9 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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Raudd broke the following silence with a sigh. "I think you just put your finger on a sore spot. A lot of things magic can do can be explained away as superpowers, but we've got a few things that might be distinct enough." He said before looking over to Zolya who procured the bottle of contained crimson from her cloak. "I think you recognize this." She said sliding the bottle over the coffee table to Yue. "I'm assuming you haven't seen much interact with that crimson of yours? Give it a shake if you want, the crimson can't escape as long as the bottle remains corked, and even if it escapes it'll quickly get pulled into the runestones in the area and cleaned up." She said fully expecting this to be insufficient for Yue. There were other things they could do, but almost all of them required getting off the couch and some were a little less pleasant to the eyes.

"I haven't... but," Yue hesitated, taking up the bottle and examining it closely. She ran her fingers along the glass, watching the bottled coil writhe inside as it struggled to make contact with her skin. "OK," she sighed.

"Arcanist has explained to me that... my body generates a field of energy that envelopes the things that I touch, and that... the fact that it doesn't register on his instruments and that he can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I'm tuned in to a spectrum of energy that is, how did he put it... 'Fucky and beyond his comprehension to perceive,'" she recalled with a bit of a snort.

"Also goes to reason, that if this spectrum of energy exists, and I can perceive and interact with it, that others may be able to as well so, while I appreciate the validation that what I'm seeing is indeed real... I'm going to need something more concrete than this," she explained. Everyone else in the room shared a knowing glance. Archer just smiled and tried not to laugh.

"Fucky and beyond comprehension to perceive... Sounds about right." Raudd said with a lighthearted tone giving both Archer and Zolya a glance. "Well that's largely within expectations. How about I get you a research paper on this form of energy?" Zolya asked Yue with a bit of a smile.

"Research?" Yue perked up with a bit of inquisitive wonder.

"Magic is as much of a natural science as Physics is, hon. People dedicate their lives to studying it and, to this day, are finding new theories."

Hardly a second after the question Zolya spoke up again. "[Rappel de Livre.]" Her words carrying a strange echo. She held up an open hand as if expecting something to come flying into it and not more than a few seconds after a book came flying into the living room from an open window elsewhere in the building.

"Ooh, I haven't seen one of these in a while," Archer chirped. "The way each organization and tradition stores and distributes knowledge is as unique as the culture itself," he explained.

"H-how does yours do it?"

"Oral tradition held strong in Greece for a very long time, so we kept knowledge in stories and myth. My twin and I developed a method for storing information in enchantments, so Olympia has a vast library that is... actually very portable. You may want to have a conversation with your mother too. She's a Sword Song Mystic like you are, and probably has some family resources tucked away someplace."

"Yes...," Yue muttered, with a note of suppressed ire. "I think I will..."

As Zolya put the book on her lap everyone could clearly see the book as a large leatherbound hardcover adorned with various patterns in gold leaf the header reading 'le monde réveillé expliqué' written in an older cursive font and below it in a smaller but similarly cursive font 'Savante'. "[Reproduire, apprenti.]" She said holding her hand slightly above the book as a significantly thinner copy of which the cover was a near perfect copy, aside from the fact that instead of 'Savante' it read 'Apprenti'.

"Normally these are only given to members of our organization, but I have some liberties to make exceptions." She says as she held the thinner book out for Yue to grab. "As you can see, to someone 'mundane' the book is not only invisible... We can't even touch it." Raudd said as he stretched out his arm and let it intersect with where he assumed the book should be.

"You have a very unique opportunity to learn from multiple traditions," Archer noted as Yue took the book. Raudd groped awkwardly in front of her, and she attempted to thump him in the chest with the book experimentally, raising an eyebrow as it passed through him. She looked at the cover intently as threads of [Silver] weaved out of her fingertips and throughout the pages of the book, converting the text to Kanji.

"You like to read in Japanese?" Archer asked with interest, peering over her shoulder.

"Y-yeah. More information conveyed in fewer characters. All of my displays are in Kanji... I mean it may seem silly since I can stretch precious seconds out so far, but when fractions of a fraction of a second are involved, reducing the amount of time I spend reading means I can spend more focus on the things around me... is it supposed to vibrate?" She asked, with a note of concern.

"Hmmm, now that would be a nice feature." Zolya joked as she watched with some surprise at what was happening to the book. "Deja vu, ain't it?" Raudd asked his sister with some glee.
Hidden 8 days ago Post by TheRockening
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Deep in the heart of Northbridge, where the green haze of industry was a choking fog, where blood-red searchlights leered upon barbed wire fences. It was a world of metal, with pillars of pipes that stretched and coiled like the tentacles of an eldritch beast, where the walls and railings were scarred green by acid storms and blackened by long-dried blood. Ruined structures coloured the landscape. The latticed ceiling of a great stadium, collapsed into the husks of old world trains, laid scattered and left for dead. Blocks of half-torn, windowless buildings, their rooftops manned by rows upon rows of anti-air cannons, their streets patrolled by gangsters clad in gas masks and bodysuits. And beyond that, within a sea of debris and desolation, was an abandoned warship, half-sunken into rubble, the letters faded but not gone, from its starboard: JAHANNAM.

High up on the bridge of the warship, beneath a ceiling of rust and tangled pipes. Music reverberated through metal in deep, synthetic beats. Blood red light washed over the rust, swinging here and there, stark and searing to the eyes. Men, women, anything in between. Chromed-up psychos and freaks mutated by the filth in the air. There was no uniformity in JAHANNAM, only a shared goal, a shared will, of profit and dominance. And here they made their home, upon bullet-riddled couches, around half-moon tables of cards and chips, beside workbenches slathered by bullet casings and racks on racks of guns and blades, both scavenged and homemade.

In the middle of it all, a woman writhed and twisted, wrapped in see-through silk that drew eyes to her every move. The light emphasised every curve and line of her body, yet her face was obscured behind a porcelain mask, devoid of even the barest features. She danced before a throne of metal, beneath the twisted knots of a hundred cables. And upon this throne, highlighted by a blood-red spotlight, was the leader of this cabal.

His body was of black steel, with limbs as thick as pillars, and shoulders as wide as a man is tall. His muscles were cables, thick and taut and expanding his mass beneath the armour bolted into his very being. He slouched, with a chin rested upon metal fingers, his eyes deep and staring, like a hawk eyeing its prey. His face was flesh, unmistakably - even with the screws above his brows, and the code stamped between them. Thick, with oversized cheeks and a bald head carved by the lines of age.

A hunched figure cut through the club, clumsily weaving its way around the dancers and gamblers. Blistered flesh caught on their clothes and the reek of cooked meat crossed the room with the new arrival. It left a trail of viscous dark fluid, glinting in the red light. Slowly, a few heads began to turn, looking after the panting, wounded creature dragging itself in.

He staggered out from the crowd before the gang bosses’ throne. The movements of the dancer distracted from him, her silks trailing behind her and masking the man… then they fell. Drifted away to expose a sight that stopped the party.

Ganta faltered on his feet, half his clothes burned and torn revealing scorched flesh. He clutched his right arm - or the stump of it. The sleeve was tattered and hanging loose, drenched in so much blood it looked like ink. Half his mask was chipped away. The brow above his eye swelled, and his eye looked down, hesitant to meet the glare of his boss, but he did. With a grave, urgent look that could not mask his shame.

The man in black held his gaze upon Ganta for a moment. His head stirred from his hand, straightened and roused from his boredom. Brows lifted above his hawk-like eyes, eyes which gleamed with questions… and demanded answers. “Ganta. You’re late,” He spoke first, leaning against his throne, one hand outstretched to beckon the dancer.

He smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. The woman came close and settled upon his knee, her legs crossed, her arm caressing his broad, armoured chest. “Was the Dancer too much to handle?” He asked, his smile broadened into a grin that flashed unnaturally white teeth. He turned his gaze to his left, out the window of the warship’s bridge. One building stood out from the distant skyline, brought to life by the pinks and yellows flickering with its name: HYSTERIA.

Ganta snorted a blood bubble. “You think some slut did this to me?!” He spat, “We had her. Those fucking beasts. They got Kite and Canary. Threshers! Two of them, in Northbridge!”

The music stopped. The crowd fell silent, then scrambled into murmurs. The man in black’s smile did not fade. No… it deepened, darkened by the lines of his face.

“Bullshit!” A voice protested behind Ganta, from a burly man clad in the olive greens of pillaged military gear. “Northbridge ain’t had Threshers for over a decade!” He spat behind his balaclava.

“Just cause they’re behind the walls don’t mean they can’t get through!” A woman in full biker gear retorted, shaking a chrome fist at the man.

“We should load up and send EVERYONE before it gets worse!” A mohawked punk added.

The crowd descended into debates. Shouts. Expletives were thrown, and dares summoned. Until the man in black sat up straight, and held up his hand. The crowd was silenced once more. The dancer in his lap snuggled her cheek against his shoulder.

“Have you ever lied to me, Ganta?” He asked.

Ganta shook his head, but his eyes darted around the room, feeling cornered. “No, boss.”

“Swindled me?”

“No, boss.” He sweated. This line of questioning was normally a prelude to the boss exposing otherwise.

“Stabbed me in the back?”

“NO! BOSS!”

The man in black nodded. Confidence surged through his dark-eyed smirk, bolstered by Ganta’s every answer. He flicked a finger, and something light and metal and jingling zipped through the air. Ganta caught it by reflex. A key. He almost melted in relief.

“Northbridge belongs to JAHANNAM. I will send the message.” The man in black arose from his throne, his full height drowning Ganta in his shadow. He gestured the Dancer to leave him, as a mask formed over his face, black and white with four eyes of blood red lights. “Personally.”

And on the back of his head, etched in rigid capitals, was his name. Warchief of JAHANNAM. The Black King of Northbridge.

LOCKDOWN.
Hidden 6 days ago 6 days ago Post by XianaEvermor
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Dawn pursed her lips at him, squinting for a long moment before folding her arms and looking generally disgruntled. What could be more interesting than the magical girl right in his living room? Wait, right. His brain was filled with static. She quietly wondered if there was a vein of magic that could help him with that... would it be Restoration or Fortification? Would he even want it if she could help?

"It's fine," she huffed, looking away. "I'm creating... important... things too," she muttered, flicking her fingers haphazardly at the ceiling. Luminous golden dust shot from her fingertips, speckling the network of glowing arrays with stars. She weaved threads of [Light], dotting the arrays with stars and galaxies until she got to one corner of the ceiling where the whole network was exploding out of a sketch of Felix's head.

"So... does that mean I'm waiting for your medication?? Or...?" Her eyes flicked up towards him, and he was suddenly gazing intensely into them. She flinched, unable to look away. The image on the ceiling shattered, showering them with motes of glowing golden dust, she coughed uncomfortably.

"Right. Coffee. Y-yeah, I'm still up... down... for it... all," she stammered, as she struggled to right herself. He wasn't supposed to find out about her affiliation, but the Enchanter was annoyingly persistent and had blown her cover. Felix was surprisingly chill about her working with Ares, particularly after she explained it wasn't entirely voluntary.

"Let's go," she answered, doing her best to smooth out the hoodie she'd changed into and fix her hair before they left.
Hidden 2 days ago Post by CabbageAngel
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Water pooled on the floor of Umbri’s apartment, trickling down from something wet and shambling dragging itself in. Mindlessly, swinging at the air and anything to lean on, pushing forward against the groan of a bone that could no longer support this perseverance. She threw herself, from wall, to cabinet, to a door frame. A fluorescent light flickered on automatically, blaring down on a bathroom, about the size of an elevator shaft, with tall white walls stretching up to an unusually tall ceiling. A few tropical fish darted around in a small aquarium. It hummed. The lights buzzed. Umbri threw herself at the toilet.

She retched and coughed, choking on the fluids rushing out of her throat. Her hunched figure warped in the glassy eyes of the fish. Chunks of the bugs she’d eaten earlier splattered and swirled around the bowl. Then the purge was complete. She staggered back up, the glaze on her eyes lifting, and looked around, confused - for just a moment - by how she had gotten here.

You need to stay here. Stay and hide, the cyberpsycho had said. She didn’t listen. Of course she didn’t listen. He didn’t know what she had to run from. The kind of danger she was really in had nothing to do with the beast he fought now. She had to pack her bags and be ready to run again the moment he came back with the…

Umbri gingerly brought a hand up, watching herself in the mirror. A vein of neon green had coiled around her neck and stolen her attention. She winced as her fingers nudged the wound. They came back, tips coated in a radioactive green that tingled.

“...”

This was the stuff that was going to kill her.

That stomach-churning thought wouldn’t go away. She wanted to not think about it. She wanted to pack her bags and be ready to go and just let somebody save her. But she didn’t trust the Rogue who had set out to do that. Didn’t trust him, didn’t believe in him. She smelled burning rubber when he held her. Seen the smoke rising from tears in his synthetic muscles. He won’t come back. He won’t come back for you. He’d either be too dead or too cruel.

If he doesn’t, she thought, If the poison shuts my body down…

A fragile memory. Pulling back curtains to gaze upon a girl, her little face hidden under the tubes and mask keeping her alive, disappearing into the sheets of a hospital bed.

Umbri lurched over the sink and grimaced, shaking her head. She groaned as she fought off the memory, but in her head, she couldn’t stop the drag of her feet against the tiled floors, bringing her closer and closer to her nightmare. “No,” she whimpered under her breath, then slammed the side of the sink with a frustrated shout. "No, no! Fuck!"

IT CAN’T.

Her painted fingers stretched out to her reflection, dragging a line across the nose.

And she can’t rely on a cyberpsycho to ensure that it WON’T.

She stared at herself, huffing and sick and dressed in its venom like warpaint. She knew that she had to go. She was so scared. She KNEW that she had to go. Her body wasn’t hers to let die.

She packed. Slower than she wanted to move. Every time she put weight on that ankle now she wanted to scream. Photos, clothes she didn’t look at, her hologram gear, wigs. Talcum powder. Sports strapping tape, from days she sommersalted around poles instead of danced against them. Almost everything she had in a single backpack. Before she left she pressed her forehead to the tank and bid it, “I’m sorry.” A whole open tube of fish food floated to the bottom and settled on the aquarium gravel as she left.

She took the apartment's fire extinguisher in the corridor. Used its butt to smash in the glass cabinet holding the axe. Then she moved up. Up to the very top floor, out onto the rooftop, to look for blooms of fire and green light.



There.

She knew that she had to go. Her body wasn't hers to let die.
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