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[@Dnafein] Because people are salty about didney and have forgotten about the prequels.
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Joke's on you Dagoth-Ur, I brought eighty bottles of sujamma.
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Armann Storstrand

The gunshot had interrupted their patrol of the area, just as the trio of gargoyles had taken their leave and headed back to their preferred hunting grounds. Armann for one had just about thought of indulging Maine's desire to take the fight to their enemies, but this gave the rag-tag squad yet another welcome distraction. "Stay sharp." His last command to the group before taking point and rounding the corner to the sight of a rather large group of people in hazmat suits and two in power armor. It wasn't the first of such groups they had come across, but they seemed different in that it was the first time he had seen one of them actually take a shot at the wall.

"It is meant to keep things in."

Easy enough to find the shared comm channel, and moreso to determine that the two accompanying them must have been the leaders of this ill-fated expedition. For a brief moment he considered extending a hand to what was clearly two more Brotherhood soldiers having ventured into the darkness of former New York, but as he started his eyes drifted lower and noticed the sword at the hip of the one at the front. Only one person he had known bore a sword like that, and the spear across their back as well as the faded insignias and carefully maintained armor only confirmed it.


"Star-Paladin Khaliya, if you will Paladin Storstrand."

Khaliya's response was terse and hard-edged, and from the relatively short distance between them he could see the narrowing of her eyes behind the lenses of her helmet. It was to be expected, their last discussion had not exactly ended on good terms. Jeremiah on the other hand seemed more than happy to have the company, coming forward and shaking his hand before taking turns with the other two.

"Paladin Storstrand, we didn't expect to see you. Elder Maxson said you and your squad were lost in battle not too long after you went out on patrol."

Others had gathered around them, hearing the entire exchange over the shared channel either because Khaliya chose not to switch to a private BoS one, or because she didn't care. At this point, he couldn't quite be sure which.

"I'm sure he did, unlike Khaliya I didn't simply heel to his orders. Suppose I should be thankful at least that we have another of the Pride here and the Swordwind no less. I wonder though, did you slip Maxson's leash and get assigned here as we did?"

Bold words spoken so openly, Prism and Jeremiah both took a step back for their own reasons. The Talon Leader as she had thought two survivors of the Raven Rock Incident might have a little more camaraderie than that, and him for knowing full well what would be coming after such a challenge. A couple others made their own comments, the Legionary trying to communicate in a language vaguely reminiscent of the Brotherhood's various mottos, while Marvin whispered aloud his own thoughts on this very opportune encounter.

"We're not here on Brotherhood business."

"Very well, we'll discuss that at The Bunker. As for you," Armann stared at Servius for a moment to indicate who he was speaking to, "I have no idea what you just said, so you'll have to try again once we're under shelter. For the rest of you, let's get moving and we can get settled and out of this accursed rain."

Her reply was terse but surprisingly not as hostile as he had expected. Regardless of how he wanted to counter in depth though, the others in her group were quite correct as the black rain was intensifying and already sheets were coming down around them. Armann gave a slight indication to follow, nodding to both Finn and Maine to take up flanking positions and for Jeremiah to take rearguard. Slowly they progressed up the empty street until the bank was there in sight, the outer walls fortified with what they could salvage and Finn could make work.

"Right, decon is right through these double doors. Do not proceed until the machine has finished. We try not to irradiate where we sleep."

And like that they were through. On the other side as they were misted and hit with the UV lights to scour their suits and armor to decontaminate them, a pair of doors opened to the bank proper. Warm lighting filled the interior, string lights for the most part that had been nailed into the walls at various points and the sound of a fusion generator in the basement powering everything before them. It had clearly been lived and worked in for some time, with a few bunk spaces made out for the three Brotherhood who had escorted them here, but others left empty. Not quite empty as Khaliya herself emerged from the decon room, parking her armor in a repair frame and pocketing the fusion core.

Four bunks had tags hanging from the posts, a box on each with belongings that spoke of a life lived and someone who wasn't coming back.

"Khaliya." Storstrand come up to her, nearly a foot taller but sharing the grim expression that she too wore as she saw the cost of their post. "Whenever they're ready, we'll have that talk."
Talon Leader "Prism"

December 3rd, 2286
The Surface

Discipline or fear had rooted everyone to their own small corner of the subway station, the beast before them one of the terrors of the wasteland only whispered in the safety of a settlement or far from the rad-soaked wilds. As debris went flying, peppering some with rock and trash, Prism was cursing under her breath. The man ducking and weaving was one of her own, she had recognized his voice even in panic over the radio. While he had never been one to bolt in the face of combat before, clearly everyone had a limit and he had reached his. A sudden swing of the creature's tail sent her ducking to avoid decapitation. Instead yet more tiling was rent from the wall and followed up with a terminal lifted from its anchoring to smash against another. In all her life of being a mercenary of the wastes, and in one of the more dangerous regions at that, she had never before seen anything like this. It was vicious and relentless, where most creatures had adapted to hit and run tactics, it furiously pursued her comrade.

She was about to call out to him when it ended with a crack and his death. For a moment she was stunned, feeling as if she had been punched in the chest at just how sudden it was. Only when the creature was gone did she let out a shuddering exhale, slowly sliding down against the wall and just staring out at where one of her people had been. True, he had never been a "friend" in any sense of the word, and had to be convinced through a share of the loot in order to come along… But he was someone she had known. It left her shaking, though for all anyone could tell in the bulky radiation suit she was simply sitting there like a few others had been after that sonic blast.

The medic speaking was what snapped her out of it, watching as the other paladin of the Brotherhood began ascending the stairs along with the others. Of all of them, only one bothered to show their respects, the foreigner from out west. At least, she assumed as much due to his accent and mannerisms. He struck her as one of those Legionnaires who had broken rank, though for what reason she couldn't tell, much less if it was true. Still, he placed a coin on the ground where her comrade had fallen and began to make his way up. She was right behind, coming up alongside and making a gesture with her hand to get his attention.

"I appreciate what you did, he was one of my people and was only here because I convinced him the trip would be worth it." Speaking through the glass of her helmet, she had to raise her voice a little, the east coast accent clear as well as some minor inflections that were somewhat out of place. "Robert was… Well, one shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but I'll just say he didn't deserve to go out that way. It's frustrating that we couldn't do anything, but I know if we attacked even as one, that abomination would likely be feasting on all of us."

Just ahead Jeremiah turned, his armor at a slant as he paused near the top of the stairs and the acid rain poured from him. "It was the right call, though I don't think it sits well with any of us." That was all he said, giving a slight inclination of his helmet towards the both of them before continuing on. So soon into the city and having lost a member, it felt wrong, at least to her. Prism couldn't help but feel it was an omen of sorts, though she tried not to think in such superstitious ways…


At the top they gathered, rain hissing as it cleaned off some of the tunnel debris and the dust from the minor skirmish down below. It had let up from the downpour of a moment ago, but not by much and certainly not in the acidic potency. All around them were the abandoned buildings of upper Manhattan, residences and commercial spaces left exactly as they were the day the bombs dropped. No vehicles sat on the streets, not within immediate sight and the reason was looming behind them. Inside the Necropolis they could see the makeup of the wall a little more clearly than before. Each vehicle had been placed deliberately in the spot it occupied, welded to the ones above and below, as well as to either side. Great beams of steel rose from the bottom where they were impaled into the street and all the way to the top, an eerie blue glow emanating from each.

More at odds with how the exterior had been, even just a glance showed that their spacing was incredibly precise. Each space between the beams was the same. No matter how many vehicles had been collected from the streets, somehow all of them had been fit together to make one continuous path along the top. It was strange to say the least, and caught the attention of Jeremiah and Prism both as they turned to marvel at it.

"It's not meant to keep things out…"

It was Prism who spoke, an uneasy feeling in her gut as she stared over every detail, the city around them tuned out as she took a step towards the wall. No matter that it was perhaps a mile or so down the street, there was already a faint ring in her ears. The same tone except diluted across so long a distance, rain and absorbed into the surrounding buildings. With a slow and deliberate motion, she unholstered her pistol, training it towards the horizon and lifting it up towards the top of the wall. Jeremiah saw what she was doing and as he started to move, so too did Khaliya.

"No! Stop!"

This time she was too slow. Prism tensed her finger on the trigger even as Khaliya took a step towards her, the crack of her pistol ringing out across the street and then drowned out by another. It came with a flash across the sky, one brilliant above the wall where the mercenary leader had been aiming, and spreading in four directions from it as if the bullet had been a drop on a flat plane of water. Blue ripples went out across to the east and west of the impact, eventually fading into nothingness, and the lights atop the beams flared an angry red for just a moment, electricity arcing towards the bottom until once more everything was calm.

Calm enough as Khaliya and Jeremiah both looked to the skies, weapons in hand and alert for the beating of wings, but they never came. Instead their attention was suddenly drawn to new arrivals coming from the direction of the bank. Looming tall in a suit of battered power armor, the colors of the Lyon's Pride stood out on both pauldrons of the leader, one who had clearly seen combat and a lot of it over a short period of time. He was joined by two others, another in power armor and one in the gear of a scout. All three Brotherhood, and by the looks of them, a squad who had been inside the city for a long time. The gunshot had alerted them to the presence of the party, and though wary at first, Khaliya recognized the man at the fore, especially as he continued the thought Prism had left unfinished.

"It is meant to keep things in."
Khaliya, The Swordwind

December 3rd, 2286
The Blue Line

It was a creature of nightmares, raw natural power rippling across scale and cracking tile with every step. Deathclaw was what it was called in most places, the penultimate predator of the wasteland. Few who encountered one survived the encounter, and even fewer among them had ever been as close as this. Putrid breath wheezed from it with each deep exhale, its chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm as it slowly turned its head as if searching out something it knew was there. The clicks that echoed around the room returned to it and the horns crowning its skull extended a membrane from them that rippled with every sound around it. Though clearly blind, it was not without ways to hunt its prey, and as the buzzing calls of its kin above ground made clear, it was not the solitary predator that most Deathclaws were.

Emil's bold move to alert the rest of the group drew the attention of the beast. One step closer and he would see the talons digging through concrete and steel as if it were dirt. Each of the three claws at the fore of its splayed foot was stained dark with what could only be the remains of former prey. Another step and he would see the maw of the beast opening slowly as it sent out another tentative click, echolocation honing in on what was before it. Small orbs writhed in the center of the hollowed sockets that would normally have been eyes, pinpricks of a reflection in each focusing and shifting from point to point. It was not entirely blind, yet as it turned its massive head from side to side to peer at Emil, it may as well have been.

Two things happened at once before the beast could determine what was before it was prey. First was the sound of the rock skipping across tile and down the stairs to land rather loudly at the base. The beast turned swiftly, claws at the end of both wings ripping tile from the walls with the speed of the movement. It had just started to move towards the stairs and away from the group when someone else spoke up. One of the other mercenaries with Talon Company had watched the advance of the beast, and while Jeremiah was beside him and doing his best to silence the terrified merc, it was not quite enough.

"Fuck this!"

His panicked cry went out over the comms, immediately disorientating the creature as it heard a rather loud sound from all around it, but soon it had little else to focus on. Jeremiah watched on as the man made a run for it. Heavy footfalls echoed around them as the merc ducked underneath the angry swipe of a wing. It now had a direct bead on him as the party could only watch for fear of revealing themselves as well.


Khaliya's voice whispered over the comms, firm and direct as she had heard the commotion and the man's voice in her ear as well. Still she kept a hold on Brian, an armored arm keeping the fool close by as masonry went flying down below in the frenzy. The beast was giving chase in the confines of the lobby, and as much of a bigger fool the merc was, he was giving it a decent enough run. He leapt over the swipe of a wing that came just a foot away from where Marvin and Frankie were standing by. Another dodged just in time as the other wing came in a vicious thrust that shattered concrete and rent concrete. Terminals on top of the counters went flying as a roar that shook the entire tunnel sounded, actually cracking glass and flooring the merc.

There he lay disorientated as the beast bore down on him. One last shout echoed through their comms before a sickening crack and silence. In the center of the room the beast had crushed the dome helmet of his suit into the floor, dark red flowing from around the talons buried into the concrete and the single rear claw sunk into his back pierced through the pack. There was only silence now, interrupted by the soft clicks of the beast as it smelled blood on the air, leaning down to give tentative licks at the floor. Up above two more crashes announced more of the beasts coming to investigate, insistent buzzing between the three sounding.

The one among them sounded irate, at least more so than when it first came upon them. It stalked towards the base of the stairs, dragging its victim along with it and giving off low and aggressive pulses back up to its packmates. They seemed to argue for a moment, before with another roar it relented. Tossing the dead merc up the stairs, the beast followed as Khaliya kept still once more, watching it stalk by and rejoin the others.

For a long moment there was nothing following the heavy beating of leathery wings, until finally Khaliya released Brian.

"They're gone." Of course she had kept an ear out on above ground before giving the go ahead to everyone else, taking a hesitant knee on the stairs and glancing out to the surface. All three had left presumably to hunt down more substantial prey, leaving them in the clear for now. "Everyone to the top of the stairs, and let's try this again. Stick together." No one needed clarification as to who that was directed to, her tone alone enough to convey her displeasure at just how close a call that was. "Low and slow, watch the shadows and the skies. Let's not take anymore unnecessary risks."

??? // ???
??? // ???

She awoke. A dissonance sat around her like a fog, thick and unyielding as her eyes struggled to adjust to the gloom of her room. The slow turn of her head was meant to bring things into focus, but instead everything seemed more of a blur, more out of focus. Walls she had been familiar with for the last couple years looked the opposite. It was all a blur and she couldn't quite grasp as to why. More pressing, there was this strange coldness about her, something that sat deep and pierced to the marrow. Each movement felt numb and far away like swimming through ice water.

Eventually she managed to swing her legs out of bed, pushing aside the heavy covers and starting to stand. Yet she did not. With a painful slowness, the moment her feet hit the floor and she began to put herself upright, she fell forward. That impact at least managed to jar her from the worst of the fog, knocking the breath from her lungs and jolting her into a higher state of wakefulness. Fingers splayed against the carpet, Verra worked to put them underneath herself and steadily push up, taking a long moment to once more gain some sense of verticality and find a sitting position. Everything felt so odd to her, as if she was just an observer in her own body. Yet… There was a distinct ache from where she had fallen.

Once she had found her footing she thought nothing of the strangeness of her surroundings, dismissing it as some strange post-sleep weariness. Step after step she brought herself towards the door, vaguely adjusting her sleepwear into something moderately presentable and ensuring nothing was showing that shouldn't be. Her hand settled on the doorknob and started to turn. It was warm… More than that actually, she winced as the more she turned the warmer it became until it was searing hot. Letting go she took a step back, staring down at her hand as steam rose from her burnt skin. Now she began to get the feeling that things were not right, as she should have already started to heal from such a minor wound as that. In fact, normally she wouldn't have even been feeling the pain of it this long afterwards, yet as she stood there and worked through just how strange this all was… It still throbbed angry and red, the ache pulsing up her arm.

Things were very much not right, and the moment she felt that first small oddity, other small pieces began to stand out. The walls were just a shade off from what she knew they should be, patterns winding through in the differences of hue and seeming to ripple the longer she stared. A soft glow from her desk brought her attention to the clock, which every time she seemed to glance over displayed a different time, and not in the expected sequential order. One moment it said six in the morning, the next eight in the evening, and again at a completely different time. Her breathing became shallow as she started to realize she had to still be asleep, mild panic starting to seize hold.

This was not the first time she had such a dream, though it was since the last memory of her previous life faded. As if summoned by her thoughts on such things, those memories flooded back with sudden clarity. An entire lifetime lived in a reality that no longer existed, she felt the room heaving and twisting about itself, soft blues of the wallpaper of her dorm room melding with a darker red. She willed it to stop, to undo this and go back, but all she managed to achieve was to halt it in the midst of everything. The room remained in a mixture of past and future, an abomination of the merged lifetimes struggling to assert domination over each other. Alone in the center of what was becoming an undulating mass of temporal instability, Verra could feel her heartbeat pounding in her chest and control slipping from her.

Then it all stopped for one singular moment that dragged on forever. Complete stillness surrounded her, and she felt her blood run cold. Drums sounded from all around her, distant yet close, and in a steady pattern that inspired her to move in an attempt to get away from them. Once more she pressed her hand against the doorknob, uncaring of the searing pain from the metal, wanting only to get out of this room. Each turn as before brought it closer to molten, but more of her concern was the growing darkness that spread from the window opposite. Tendrils of black seeped into the walls, poisoning the crumbling reality of the dream and seeking her out as the sole point of stability.

Finally with a panicked gasp, she yanked the door open.

Metropolis National Park
January 29th, 03:26


As she stepped through the open door, she felt cold air. It was… Strangely fresh, clean and pure. Her eyes struggled to adapt from the light coming down on her from above, a hand coming up to cover that spot high in the sky that shone down. With a sluggishness that was incredibly unfamiliar to the speedster, and quite uncomfortable to say the least, she worked to get her bearings. First and foremost, her other hand went to her neck, fingers grasping around the necklace that she had dearly hoped was still there. Step one done, she still had her suit with her, and if things went bad she had a way out. That was assuming she could determine where it was that she was, and what she was getting out of. Her eyes began to adjust to the rather jarring shift in perspective, picking out green in front of her. A lot of green actually. As she gained more and more awareness, she discovered that there really was a lot of green around her.

Bare feet dug lightly into soil and grass, and she looked down to find that the reason for that was really quite simple. She was in a forest somewhere, her right hand falling a little and her focus shifting to take in the clear skies. The moon was high and at its first quarter, stars shining among familiar constellations.

Then two very distinct things came to her attention. First was that she was out in the middle of a forest somewhere in only her pajamas. Second… She had obviously run there, and done so a little too fast. Behind her was the smell of a fire consuming cloth, and her lips creased in a frown as there was her blanket laying in the grass. It was the source of the fire, friction burns across the fabric of it as she must have had it wrapped around her during her sleep-run.

"That one was my favorite too."

All that was left to her was to figure out a bit of a more concrete idea on just where she had run off to, and preferably at some point soon.
@Apollosarcher Dropping a mention here on guild as well in case you miss the Discord ping, but you are clear to ship Finn over to the CS tab.
@JrVader Hey there, you're pretty new to the guild and probably just feeling out a few RPs to see what's what, so I do apologize for the slight delay in touching base with you. I've had a little bit of family stuff going on this week, so understandably distracted from everything.

In regards to your CS, I've got a few little "concerns" that I would like some back and forth with you on if you're still intent on joining. I'll enumerate them for ease of conversation.

1: Not that it's entirely too much of an issue per se since we are in the casual section, but your CS is a little lacking in terms of detail and depth. Granted, you get the point across in regards to your character concept and what you want to do with them, but for what you have I feel there could be so much more there to flesh them out and make them a living character in our world. As an example, you have a character with a Polish first name, pseudo-Greek last name, from Costa Rica. That alone has a spin on there that should make someone stop and go "Wait what?" and provide up some ample opportunities to expand his history, but... There's nothing.

2: On terms of power level and your character's skills, I think we should really look it over carefully and see where he fits in with other heroes. Normally I would advise against this for someone potentially new to RP(I don't know your background or skill, so won't comment), but we've got a fairly decent group here going and a lot of times there's instances where we'll throw a collab together and get a neat event going for the entire playerbase to see and have a good time with. On the very first post there's an explanation of how the tiers work, so I would advise looking it over a little more and seeing where Archangel fits into that. Secondly on this point, I would strongly advise either clarification on your statement of: "... he is the best at martial arts." or to perhaps back away on such an absolute stance. We have more than a few characters who are either naturally gifted, or have supernatural abilities in such things, and as policy we really try not to have absolutes set in stone with such things.

3: Regarding his personality as a "Silent Hero" archetype, I am personally incredibly wary of this. Such things are a little difficult to pull off properly even for experienced roleplayers, as these characters often end up doing their own thing for most of the RP for various reasons. Either they are presented as characters that others simply do not wish to interact with, or the player themself has no desire to interact with others, and I've seen it far too many times result in a player posting a few times with this kind of character, getting little interaction and then leaving the RP because of it. Now as said, I don't know you personally and whether or not you may know what you are doing with such archetypes, but I would really prefer to see a lot more backing up Archangel before I would feel comfortable giving a go-ahead on him. There are many ways that you can make such a thing work of course, in ways of perhaps he's normally an incredibly insular lone-wolf who has always had to depend on himself, but finds that he is increasingly needing to rely on others and has to work out this change over the course of an arc or two. That's just one example out of many, but in the end, I would really just like to see a little more meat on the CS to back up the archetype or present possible plot arcs if that is the direction that you truly desire to go with.
Khaliya, The Swordwind

December 3rd, 2286
The Blue Line

Interacting with - @ONL

A relative point of safety in the interim, the group seemed to relax at least a fraction in the lobby of the station. Several spoke of the plan at hand and their opinion on it, mostly a unanimous decision to go for some fortifications and hopefully radiation free lodgings. Khaliya for the most part didn't pay the rest of them any mind. Only a glance here and there towards a few notable individuals and ensuring the one with the torn suit was still mostly intact. He seemed to be for now. At Marvin's suggestion to run to the bank, she was at first on board with it. It was even her suggestion to make a run for it once ensuring the coast was clear, but the more she thought on it and the possible threats above… The plan didn't sit well. The correction was half-formed on her lips when she heard a fairly distinct accent over the shared channel.

"Did someone say a bank? Sounds just like the types of banks they blew up back home far back! Let's go!"

Khaliya turned from the terminal, cord still trailing from the gauntlet of her power armor as she heard frantic bootsteps towards the stairs and shouted out to him.

"Wait! Stand to!" If it was directed at anyone other than a mercenary collected by a third-party, then perhaps the order might have worked. Her tone was severe and cut clear across the channel, just over the sound of tile cracking as she was already bracing to move after him. Just as she had feared, one of the greatest dangers to this mission would be their companions, and here she was proven correct. Prism she could work with, and same for Monika and Bailey. They might not like each other, true, but at least they weren't foolish. As Brian turned the steps she heard his call back and grit her teeth, servos in her armor wheezing and protesting as she put them to work.

"Last one there is a road-killed coyote!"

"Oh my god, he just ran in."

Not even waiting for the last word to leave her mouth, she was in motion. In the background she heard the rather callous words of Bailey dismissing the man to his death, but she was not going to lose someone this early to stupidity. With long strides she covered the distance between the information kiosks and the stairs at battle-speed, slamming into the wall with a thunderous crack and following by bounding up the first eight steps of the stairs. Few could claim to see power-armor at full speed, most assuming it to be relegated to the status of about as mobile as a steel wall and twice as durable. And in all fairness the Brotherhood was wont to correct people of that assumption. Standard tactics was to simply advance in formation, lay down heavy fire and if that didn't work, then lay down even heavier firepower. Rare was it for anyone to truly use power armor as it should and to its fullest potential.

Right then and there, Khaliya gave the group a good indication that when someone wanted it, power armor was not slow and cumbersome in the slightest. Using the very same servos and pneumatics that allowed her to lift twice or even three times her body weight, it was a wonder she even touched the ground. Brian's foot had just touched the fifth stair down from the top, acid-rain splashing down all around him when Khaliya's hand grasped at the back of his collar and arrested his motion akin to one suddenly slamming on the brakes. It was almost comical how her grip forced his legs forward from his continued movement, while the rest of his body was pulled backwards from her jerking him back.

There was quite little time to react however, for as the two of them made their own mad dash for very different reasons, something had become distinctly aware of their presence. Even before moving into action, the sounds of the Necropolis above had filtered down to the group and already a few could have likely felt something very off. Everyone should have expected the creaks and groans filtered through the howling wind of the radiation storm, the cracks of thunder over head and intermittent gunfire of all things, but this was different. A soft buzz came from above, akin in a way to the cicadas of summer, but it felt very wrong. Brian's first step onto the stairs came with a click a hundred feet away, the sound gentle and echoing all around them. Then another as he began to ascend and Khaliya went into motion. It was harsher the third time, as if honing in on the group.

When both were nearly upon each other, the buzzing had gotten closer, a rumbling sound that no longer seemed as far away or as small as before. By now it could be felt shaking the walls of the station, dust vibrating on the ground and each click more insistent and violent as it pierced through their suits and to their very marrow. Khaliya's grip on Brian allowed her to yank him close against the chest of her armor, violently throwing herself onto her back and against the side of the wall. There she pulled him tight and made the two of them as small a target as possible as she hissed into the open channel.

"Don't speak. Don't fucking move. Don't even breathe. Make a sound and I let you go."

Then there was a thunderous crash of something massive crashing down onto the pavement at the top of the stairs, claws raking and tearing apart pavement, and of course that infernal buzz. Here the two of them could tell very distinctly that it was something alive and something incredibly hostile. It pulsed in low and long beats, far too similar to that cicada song for her comfort, and almost as if calling to others nearby. That was answered as more sung back to the creature slowly descending towards them.

"Everyone hit the fucking ground or hug a wall. Make yourself as small as possible and don't make a fucking sound."

Even though she hissed it through the open channel, there still came the violent click of the creature feeling out for them. It echoed off the walls, making her grit her teeth from the pain of being so close to the source, but it was nothing compared to looking up and seeing the creature.

In every definition of the word, it was an abomination. Hissing pools formed in the dense hide of the beast where the acid rain had carved rivulets, scale directing the flow down and to taloned feet that gripped each step until it broke into chunks of shattered masonry. Powerfully built legs carried it slowly from the top of the stairs, pounding into the staircase and nearly lifting the pair from their spot with each impact. Dust fell onto them, and for a moment Khaliya thought it was simply the passage of the beast alone that was making it fall from the ceiling, and then she saw the wings. Easily thirty feet in span, it had to scrunch down and stoop low in order to squeeze into the tunnel, the clawed ends of both wings gouging through solid stonework and working furrows down the stairwell. Then it paused, the buzzing ceased and it clicked.


It was nearly thunderous in the confined space and so close, some internal organ within the beast cracking bone against bone to cause the sound. Echoing all around them, she realized why it was that it had been doing that as her eyes set upon the maw of the beast. Just above a mouth filled with multiple rows of serrated teeth the size of combat knives, there were hollows where once eyes would have sat. Instead they were smooth and rounded out, muscle tensing as it listened to the reverberations of that probing noise, mapping out its surroundings before once more beginning to hum back to the others. Steadily continuing, it moved past Khaliya and Brian, as if completely unaware of their presence and towards the main floor of the subway station where the group was waiting...

New Year's Day, 2026
Hub City; set of “Power Hour”

Crossing one of her slender legs over the other, Cassandra McKenzie flashed a sharp smile to the man sitting across from her. The crackle of applause from the audience was finally starting to settle, allowing her to speak.

“Mr. Lüneburg, thank you for being here with us this morning. I’m sure your schedule keeps you very busy these days.”

Though no stranger to interviews in the past of this life in particular, Raymond looked a fair bit more haggard and worn as the last few years had taken their toll. Only a few had known of just how close to death he came at the hands of Theia in the LSOC, and of them only two that he still carried the wounds. Hiding the pain in his side, he leaned forward, a deceptively charming smile on his face as he nodded in agreement.

"Quite so, there are many things to be done in keeping the UNDF supplied and combating various threats around the globe. Thanks to the Justice League though, at least we don't have to face them alone."

“Indeed,” she readily agreed, “we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Justice League, particularly today, on the fifth anniversary of the One Week War. It seems difficult to believe that so much time has already passed, and yet the scars from that conflict are still raw for many. Our world has been irreversibly changed.”

Cassandra shifted slightly in her seat, her eyes sweeping over the somewhat disheveled billionaire sitting before her. “But you would know all about that, of course--you’ve played a key role in the rebuilding effort. Tell us, Mr. Lüneburg, how have these changes personally affected you, and how have they affected your company as a whole?”

"As you know, Salt Lake City was hit as hard as many other cities in the US, with the Titan Theia coming to personally oversee the battle. LIS lost many good men and women that day, and if not for Velocity coming to intervene at the last moment, I would have been among them. Since then I've taken a less involved approach in heading the company, relegating myself back to the CEO and Chairman of the Board. It's a little different when you're not at the forefront of everything, but considering what happened, a very needed change."

Going quiet for a moment, he pulls out a notebook from beside him with some of his prepared notes and some slides come across the screen for the viewers. "For the company though, while I am adverse to say we've profited off the reconstruction efforts, there has most certainly been positive effects from our contributions. An increase in government contracts has allowed us to finish many of our research projects that had languished as pipe-dreams and thought decades away, some of which I'm not quite allowed to speak about yet. I can say that later this month the UNDF Navy will be putting to sea their newest battleship with LIS technology that should hopefully protect against future arcane incursions."

Cassandra listened quietly, the audience likewise remaining silent while he spoke. Folding her hands over her knee, she nodded in understanding. “It’s always a relief to hear that the UN Defense Force will be well-prepared in the event of a new crisis; perhaps even at the hands of the Eurasian Confederation. Do you feel confident that the arsenal you’re developing for our military will ensure its continued technological superiority over the Russians?”

At that comment he frowned just slightly, sitting back once more in his chair with the notebook in his lap. "If the Eurasian Confederation acts in such a way as to endanger their neighbors or incite further political instability among the non-aligned powers, then yes I am confident that the UNDF will have technological superiority."

Smiling, Cassandra eased back in her own chair, seeming decidedly more relaxed than the man she was interviewing. “Mr. Lüneburg, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rumours that have been circulating as of late in regards to your possible status as a Homo Magi. Many believe that the extraordinary breakthroughs that LIS has achieved would not be possible without the supervision of someone with intimate knowledge of the arcane.”

"That could certainly be argued." He offered, that smile turning from somewhat charming to a little more devious as he continued. "My company makes use of numerous contacts through the world, looking into acquiring the brightest minds of each generation and putting them to task where they do best. Though perhaps a little bit of magic does go a long way here and there."

Cassandra chuckled, along with the audience. She didn’t seem particularly bothered by his evasiveness, merely evening out a wrinkle in her dress. “It is now known that Homo Magi have existed in the shadows long before the One Week War thrust them into the limelight. It begs the question of just who may or may not be hiding a magic wand in their back pocket. Many fear mages, just as they fear metahumans. How do you feel about the changes these two groups have brought to our society?”

"Well Cassandra, I can assure you that I do not have a wand in my pocket." He laughed as if to disarm that insinuation before thinking for a moment on the question. "Fear of change is quite natural, especially for normal humans who do not have these kinds of powers. They see something that has abilities far beyond their own, such as men who can leap continents or a girl who can run at supersonic speeds, yet many struggle to make it through the day to day. For my opinion on the changes they have brought, I ask everyone to look at the people who build and rebuild our society. Yes, the metas and the mages defend the common people from threats beyond their ken, but it is everyday people who put in the effort to ensure that we all have something to fight for."

“Well said, Mr. Lüneburg,” said Cassandra, smiling. The audience clapped in appreciation for his words, before once again quietting. “Now, one of the most groundbreaking inventions produced by your company is the Rift Jammer, which promises to prevent the opening of any interdimensional rifts within a ten kilometer radius. This is widely available to the military now, but people throughout the world still live in fear of monsters and demons ripping straight through reality and right into their living rooms during family night. When can we expect these to be distributed to the public at large?”

It was a question he was expecting, and as such didn't have to even open his notebook to give the answer to. "As and when we are able to distribute them to local governments without the possibility of malcontents disabling them. It is known that the device does utilize some of the technology acquired during the Arabian Intervention, and there are still many who are agitated over the use of magitech at all. We do not wish to risk having cities under the protection of these devices suddenly left defenseless when a cult or domestic terrorist attacks."

“But they’re defenseless right now, in many cases,” Cassandra was quick to point out, not seeming satisfied with his answer. “Just last week, a father of three was pulled under his son’s bed and torn to pieces by an unseen force in Boston. The people are crying to return to the days when parents could reassure their children that there wasn’t a monster hiding in their closet, or that their dreams couldn’t harm them.”

"We're doing the best we can, and cooperating with as many willing tech leaders that are available and with the resources to produce the devices. The simple fact of the matter is that while the UNDF works to provide as much protection to our regions as we can, there are still some who have not realized the world has changed. Petty politics prevent us from stepping in to assist in some regions, where some kind of presence would mean all the difference."

Though she frowned, Cassandra offered a curt nod. “I understand, Mr. Lüneburg. Magic is a new and oftentimes frightening technology--but I find the prospect of Freddy Krueger standing over my bed to be far more terrifying. We can only hope that our representatives will come to understand as much, before it’s too late.”
Khaliya, The Swordwind

December 3rd, 2286
New York City Metro - Blue Line

Debris littered the main floor of the station, cracked terminals still reading out the last entries of a day two hundred years ago and waiting for the first curious soul to brush across their keys. Seepage dripped from the ceiling through fissures in the concrete, the acidic nature of the downpour outside causing hissing, steaming pools of water here and there. The very fact that there was anything present here besides walls and ceiling was enough reassurance for a few. Khaliya among them quietly set it aside as a bit of good luck. Anywhere else in the wasteland, a distinct lack of human presence would be seen as ideal, even if it meant the area had been looted. Here in a dead city all it did was serve as a dire warning that no matter how well prepared they were, in actuality they weren't. Nothing set off her survival instincts more than an absolute absence of life, and it was a feeling shared.

"Paladin." The voice over the open channel was that of the Talon Leader Prism, her tone low as if the walls could hear and she preferred greatly that they didn't. It was the first time she had addressed anyone at all since their departure, and that she made contact with her specifically made her raise her guard instinctively. "It should be starting to get dark above ground soon, if it hasn't already. We should seek shelter for the night so that we can regroup and reassess the mission."

It was a smart move, one that she already intended on doing, something Prism likely knew. What this was was a show of solidarity. They had just been given a very direct reminder that there were others in the Necropolis, and that if they weren't outright hostile then they most certainly did not appreciate the group's presence. She did a quick scan of the room as she paused, holding a gauntlet up to signal everyone to hold. Before them were the stairs to the surface, dim light at the very top where rain poured down. The sky couldn't be seen quite yet, but she knew it was already dark out due to the storm. It would be dark for much of their journey, but keeping to the daylight hours was for the best anyways.

Behind them as the last of the group made it to the lobby were the stairs going back down to the platform and the way they came. Even if it wasn't for the so called power-ghoul, there was no going back now that they had already made it to those first steps above ground. Her eyes scanned the various stands set up, skeletons laying where the people had died in the very brief time they had left after nuclear fire swept the city. A few were scattered along the steps here and there, signs that some might have survived the initial impact and tried in desperation to find shelter in the subway tunnels. It was a bitter reminder of the sheer loss of life so long ago, but of no help to them.

Turning, she found an information kiosk with green still lighting the screen of the terminal. Though no expert in computers, it took little to access the basics. "There's a bank just down the street from surface entrance." She said, metal fingers still clicking across the keyboard. It meant a run across open ground and through the acid rain, but she was confident they could do it. "It's referenced as a main branch of a local bank, so should be decently fortified. Might even have low enough radiation levels for us to take off the suits. Everyone good with this? We'll likely have to book it after checking to make sure the surface is clear."
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