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So, I've edited the first post once again. I was saving this new development for a plot twist, but I decided it was best to have it start out this way instead.
Thanks for the interest! ^_^ First post has been edited with more info.


In 2067, gaming has reached new levels of awesome. VR gaming is basically the norm thanks to Interactive Immersive Interface (i³) technology, and the Nexus allows the world to be continually connected.




Several years ago, a mysterious MMOVRPG appeared suddenly on Axis, the world's premiere video game digital distribution platform. The game was completely free and in the description, players were promised a chance at the 'greatest prize ever given in a video game contest'. The developer and origin remained undisclosed and most people believed it to be a virus or malware. A few brave souls (or complete morons) had downloaded the game to see what the big deal was, and had found that the game was legit. But that wasn't all. It turned out that the game, known simply as Paragon, was the most expansive, customizable, and engaging video game experience of all time. The contest, however, was not an immediate experience. Players gained entry into the contest by earning a glyph which was granted as a prize for reaching level 100 in the game. This turned out to be a nearly impossible task. Whoever these developers were, they had created the most challenging game ever, and only the most elite gamers in the world would manage to complete this extremely absurd feat. There are only 1 million glyphs available to earn...which would seem like a whole lot if you didn't consider the fact that Paragon currently has 1.3 billion active players. The game's contest is set to begin 24 hours after the last glyph is collected.


With the global population cresting 10 billion in the last few years, the planet is getting a bit crowded. Pollution and poverty are at an all-time high and the Earth is becoming less pleasant to live on every day. Multiple space programs are being funded by both governments and the super-rich so we can all get the hell out...but even if that were to ever fully realize itself, we all know who would catch those first seats. There are a few rumors that claim there is a shuttle already prepped and the contest is about winning one of these precious spots...but let's be real. Whenever the Earth does bite the big one, we're all going down with her. So in the meantime, we have the glory that is Paragon to take our minds off this shithole.

While most games focus their characters and setting on a single genre, Paragon manages to encompass nearly every type of game in one massive amalgamation. Since the game is essentially a VRPG at its core, there is, of course, a class and leveling system, but the openness of the gameplay puts games like GTA and Skyrim to utter shame. Players travel to different worlds...yeah, not levels – entire worlds...to complete all kinds of tasks and challenges. Some worlds are simply for farming or recovery. Several spots are even built purely for fun and relaxation. And did I mention that players can purchase in-game real estate to build their own locales? And there's no limit to this stuff. Apparently, the servers for this game are the size of the Taj Mahal and powered by several nuclear plants because this game hasn't stopped growing and has never lagged or crashed.

As for the playerbase, it's just as diverse as the game itself. With 1.3 billion users, you're, of course, going to have those who just play the game 'for fun', which is actually most people. Then you've got your major try-hards who take the shit way too seriously like it's life or death. Then somewhere in the middle are the true elite, those who face every challenge with such determination and finesse that people are forced to mash that spectate button or camp out their notifications for that player's next Optica vid.






Okay, so remember how we mentioned life and death earlier? Well, it turns out some people had the right idea all along. Because our little 'contest' is absolutely critical on a whole other level.

After the last glyph was earned, the world went into a frenzy. It seemed like forever and a day had gone by before this mysterious contest was finally going to be revealed. The million elite players who bested the game had 24 hours to prepare before the challenge of their lives would begin. The mixture of nerves, confidence, and pure excitement throughout the world was palpable.

As the final moments counted down, the number of active players at one time absolutely crushed any previous record and players' livestreams were packed to the gills. Each player with a glyph had a timer displayed on their screen, ticking down to the reveal.

5...4...3...2...1…

That was when the world stood still.

Those million players with glyphs? They vanished into thin air. Gone. No trace. Leaving nothing but whatever clothes they were wearing in their wake. Not only had their physical bodies disappeared, but their avatars had as well. What. The. Fuck.

A few moments later, every device on the planet with Nexus access received an eerie simulcast. The screen was totally dark and an ominous voice spoke in…an alien language. The creature's words were translated into captions at the bottom of the screen.

Hello, creatures of Earth. We hope you've been enjoying our little game. It appears that quite a few of you have participated. But, unfortunately, only the best of the best are worthy of facing the real challenge and claiming the ultimate prize. How does the title of 'Earth's Savior' sound?

(The screen changes to a view of a massive alien satellite that appears to be for some type of military use.)

This is one of several of our devastator satellites that are orbiting the Earth at this very moment. Don't worry about trying to detect or disable them because you simply don't have the means. These satellites are equipped to completely obliterate planets much larger than yours, so we should have no problem reducing your Earth to cosmic dust.

I guess you're also wondering where your precious players are, right? Oh, well, they're right here…

(The screen switches to another view of a domed island floating in Earth's orbit…and gigantic doesn't even begin to describe it. At nearly 10,000 square miles, it's about the size of Massachusetts and is visible from the ground on clear days.)

This is where the defenders of your planet will reside during our game. Don't worry, they will have everything they need to live, but unfortunately, they won't be coming home anytime soon. You can keep an eye on them through one of the endless number of cameras present on the island.

So, now comes the time for all of this to fall into place. Each of your million players is being equipped with a device that attaches directly to their nervous systems. These will sync with their individual avatar identities in a very personal way. You see, once a player's avatar is destroyed in the game, the device in their neck plunges them into a deep, dark coma from which they won't ever awaken. And we are minus one player.

Once the player count reaches zero, the Earth and everything on it will cease to exist. Plain. Simple. But if just one player is able conquer Paragon, we will spare your planet. And before anyone decides to dismiss this as some sort of hoax...I believe you called this...Tokyo?

(The screen pans to an aerial view of Tokyo, Japan. Moments later, the city is hit dead center by a shot from one of the alien devastator satellites. The world watches helplessly as the entire city is leveled in a single crushing instant.)

And that isn't even close to a fraction of what our technology is capable of. So, enjoy these last moments of your existence, creatures of Earth...because no one ever wins.

Game on.


So, yeah...we're screwed. No, we're dead. Earth is pretty much done for. And how do we get to prevent our inevitable apocalypse? A fucking video game. Oh, and it's not just hard. It's nightmarish. Grueling. Impossible. In the beginning, our numbers plummeted fast as people failed challenge after challenge, task after task, boss after boss. Eventually, we got a little smarter and a lot more cautious. I mean, the fate of the world is literally in our hands and we have to win. We have to win. Period. Or we're all dead. All. Dead.


Other Notes
  • We'll be among the players trapped in space
  • This is only a slightly altered version of Earth so most things that currently exist IRL will be relevant (even if it's a different version of it)
  • Feel free to ask me anything at all

This is a basic premise...more details to come
@Pyromania99

Looks like Bestia is filling up a bit... Pela is approved!
@ghastlyInc@Rune_Alchemist

Love them both! They are approved!

@Sedjwick

Yeah, sorry, I forgot to mention the third character allowance in here. I've been super busy the last couple weeks. :/
Manny/Inverse

– Midtown –

Police cars swerved and twisted to dodge traffic as they struggled to keep up with the two Variants traversing the rooftops. Eventually, after a few sharp directional changes, Flea was able to shake the cops off of his tail. Inverse, however, was another problem entirely. No matter how suddenly Flea would cut in another direction or how far he would leap, Inverse stuck to him like glue.

Damn, this dude is fast...I mean, I'm keeping up, but barely. Time to switch things up…

After the closing the gap a little with a few well timed maneuvers, Inverse concentrated on Flea's jump path, trying to predict his next landing spot. Gotcha. He pinpointed an area on the rooftop in front of Flea and increased the gravity. Once the short man landed, he immediately tumbled, flinging his duffel out in front of him. His entire body suddenly felt heavier, like he had just been dunked in lead.

"Aaaaah...what the hell!"

Inverse landed on the roof near the little guy.

"End of the line...wait, I already used that one…...I need some more material..."

"Let me up, asshole!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa…language, little guy."

"I'll show you little!"

"Well...I'm waiting..."

Inverse opened his posture as a challenge to the extremely aggravated Variant. Flea grumbled profusely as he struggled to lift himself off the ground. Inverse gave a sly smirk and snickered out loud.

I could watch this all night...huh…?

Inverse's banter was interrupted by the subtle hum of electric motors. As he turned toward the direction of the noise, a M.A.D surveillance drone headed straight for him and his tiny hostage.

Sigma-881 has visual on two male Variants. Green Level Agile. Alias: Flea. Red Level Distortionist. Gravity Manipulation. Alias: Inverse. Proceeding with detainment.

He already knew it was his cue to go. When the drone came within range, a pair of launchers protruded from underneath its body, each equipped with a round of shock darts. Without hesitation, the darts fired toward the pair. Inverse was able to use his powers to dodge the projectile altogether while Flea, of course, wasn't as fortunate. He took a direct hit and was instantly subjected to a few thousand volts of electricity. Inverse released his hold on Flea and made for the duffel bag, scooping it up before sprinting at top speed toward the edge of the roof as the drone tried in vain to hit him with another dart.

One Variant, Flea, has been detained. Sigma-881 in pursuit of Inverse.

Inverse continued to traverse the high ground. As the buildings got taller, he ran along the sides of them, maintaining his distance from the M.A.D. drone. He spotted an open window ahead of him and saw an opportunity to lose his pursuer. He dropped into a baseball slide and 'fell' into the open window, launching himself into what appeared to be a bedroom. He was immediately met with a startled scream from a woman standing in front of a large mirror in nothing but a towel, seemingly about to get dressed. As he stood, she clutched the towel to her body.

"Oh! Sorry!...wait, why would you be doing that with window op-?"

The drone appeared in the window and fired another dart, which lodged in the wall as Inverse evaded it and bolted from the room. He made his way out of the apartment and into the hallway. Gotta go up. He found the entrance to the emergency stairwell and discovered he was several stories from the top floor.

Lost immediate visual, switching to thermal optics...Variant has entered emergency stairwell, likely heading for the roof. Proceeding to roof for intercept.

Inverse hopped over the railing into the open space and 'fell' upward toward the ceiling. He grabbed the railing at the top floor and flung himself over, landing directly in front of the roof exit.

Yeah, that drone is probably right outside…but I got something for him...

He manifested a small black orb that hovered over his palm. As he burst through the door, he threw the orb out in front of him while tumbling to dodge yet another dart. Both the drone and the dart, along with some loose debris, were forcibly pulled toward the orb that was now hovering in the air.

Losing control of movement. Variant's escape is imminent.

"Well, it's been fun," Inverse mocked as he shot the drone a bird and launched himself into the air, leaving the drone pinned in midair.


Sierra/Incinera

– Midtown –

Incinera met a group of firefighters in the stairwell as she moved the group of young scientists to safety. The rescue team seemed to pause when they noticed she had been walking through the flames in barely any clothing and emerged completely unscathed.

"Help them! Get 'em out of here!"

The firefighters snapped back into action and lead the scientists downstairs. One of the rescuers offered Incinera an oxygen tank, which she was actually quite grateful for. The fire seemed to be getting under control as others pitched in to help, including a...werewolf? When the remaining occupants were shuttled out of the lab, Incinera decided not to stay for any longer than she needed to and made her way to the roof. There was a giant metal contraption that was cascading water onto the building.

The hell did this thing come from?

She walked over to the edge of the roof and peered down at the chaotic scene below. More rescue vehicles and workers than she could count swarmed the streets and she noted to herself that some of the more professional-looking types were most likely with N.O.V.A. She really hated dealing with the agency in general and definitely didn't feel bothered to at the moment. She backed away from the edge and sat down, leaning against one of the legs of the metal-water-thingy. She removed her mask and coughed a few times while she brushed debris and ashes from her hair.

This had to be Underground…they're always doing the stupid shit…but why burn down a chem lab? What would the Underground gain from something like that? Seems extreme even for them...there's gotta be more to it...


Dante/Sever

– Midtown –

"Yoooo, Rocky Road! I know you're in this mission, where you at? It's Scavenger, I can give you guys a pickup!"

Graffite nodded as he received the call. "We're heading towards Tech Alley. The cops are gaining on us, so move your ass!"

"Who the hell is this guy?" Ruby said when she noticed Dante looking like he was preparing to engage them.

"Who cares? Wreck him!"

Dante pulled a pair of shades from his pocket and donned them as a countermeasure against being identified. He conjured up a blue knife and hurled it in the direction of the pair of Variants, then immediately followed it with two red knives. The action was so quick that Ruby and Graffite had no time to react. The blue knife precisely cut the strap of the duffel Graffite carried causing it to fall to the ground, and the red knives exploded at each of the Variants' feet, sending them flying in different directions. Graffite slammed into the wall of a nearby building while Ruby tumbled and rolled in the street. As the pair struggled to get to their feet, the police screeched to a stop behind them and drew their pistols.

"NHPD! Remain on the ground and place your hands behind your head!"

"Fuck that," Graffite huffed as he got to his feet.

"Hey! Get down or we will open fire!"

Of course...shoot first, ask questions later…

Graffite broke into a run directly toward the officers.

"Stop!"

As the police fired at the Variant, he simply shrugged off every bullet and continued his sprint unfazed. When he reached the first officer, he knocked the pistol from his hand and knocked him unconscious with a fist to the jaw. He then continued to make his way through the ranks, disposing of each officer in kind. Meanwhile, Ruby got to her feet and spat a bit of blood onto the ground.

"Alright, you little shit, you wanna play?!" Ruby shouted in Dante's direction. She then conjured a large blade made of crystalized blood in each hand and dashed toward Dante.

Here we go…

Dante created two more blue knives as Ruby took a swing towards his upper body. He ducked under the blade and deflected her second attempt with the other blade with a knife. The battle continued in a wild flurry of motion.


– Emerald Lyceum –

Darcy, Andi, and Vel navigated the morning rush as they continued on to first session. Andirah broke from the group and headed for the Crimson Lyceum, Velvette made for the Azure Lyceum, and Darcy continued to the Emerald Lyceum with Ceraseth floating by her side. Upon entering the hall, Darcella spotted two of her favorite mentors conversing outside of one of the rooms. Lady Ashorath and Lady Wyght diverted their attention as Darcy approached to greet them.

"Good morning, Lady Ashorath...Lady Wyght," Darcy said with a warm grin and a casual tone. She had quite a favorable rapport with the two mentors just short of a first-name basis, and Darcy reveled in it.

"Morning, Darcy," said Lady Wyght with an equally casual tone.

"Darcella," Ashorath echoed with a curt nod. She finished her coffee and nonchalantly folded her arms over her chest. "How's your little pet project going?"

"Andi is showing a lot of promise," Darcy replied assuringly. ...and also giving free panty shots...

"We'll see how just how much promise when exams come," Ashorath responded with a slightly raised eyebrow.

"Well, if anyone can whip her into shape, it's Darcy," said Lady Wyght, giving Ceraseth a scratch under his chin and earning a satisfied purr.

"Don't worry, I got this, Lady A... Ashorath." Darcy corrected herself before Asmia could react to the informality. As much as she liked Darcy, she still expected her to refer to her with her full last name. Lady Ashorath gave another nod. "Let's go, Cera," Darcy said as she pressed on toward Lady Wyght's room.

Lady Wyght gave a split lesson that morning, dividing the students by house. She would lecture one half of the students while the other half had free study. Her Draconas were finishing up a dragon anatomy review while her Phantasmas were learning about bog spirits from an eerie realm that Lady Wyght had been studying. During the last little portion of class, all of the students were engaged as a whole once again as the mentor gave a small review of some invoking techniques. It was an easy-going lesson that Darcy seemed to cruise through. She had always been impressed by the mentors' dual knowledge base and couldn't wait to get to the point where she could start her own cross-house studies. As her musings were cut short by the end of class, she collected her things and headed out toward her next class.
@Weird Tales
Very interesting...I wasn't expecting someone to play another cop lol

Approved, my friend!
IC is live everyone!
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” – Spider-Man

“Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”– Iron Man

“It’s not dying that you need to be afraid of, it’s never having lived in the first place.” – The Green Hornet

"You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time, but you were wrong. The world is cruel and the only morality in a cruel world is change. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.” – Harvey Dent/Two Face


* * * * * * *

[ Message from The Apex ]

Greetings, Cipher.

Over the past few months, there has been an increasing number of disappearances in New Haven, a city known for increasing levels of Variant-related crimes. All attempts by local law enforcement to solve these missing persons cases have turned up cold. Investigators who appear to be close to a solution end up disappearing themselves.

Infiltrate the city and investigate the matter as you best see fit. Use whatever methods and resources necessary to bring this mystery to light.

This message will degenerate in 5...4...3...2...

* * * * * * *

[ Privy Newstream ]
BREAKING NEWS
Local Lab Set Ablaze As Occupants Are Trapped Inside
Foul Play Suspected As Variants Are Seen Fleeing Scene


[ May 23, 2129 - 7:04 PM ]

The flames roared as the lab turned into an ever-increasing hell. A burglary gone awry had caused an entire floor of a large chemical research laboratory in Midtown to explode into a blazing inferno. The fire was spreading rapidly leaving several people trapped inside as firefighters outside struggled to extinguish the flames. The streets were littered with emergency and law enforcement personnel clamoring to get the situation under control.

It was soon discovered that the incident was caused by a few members associated with the group known as the Pariah Underground. Four Variants were spotted leaving the lab on foot with duffel bags that were assumed to contain stolen chemicals. Upon learning that they were being pursued by the law, they split into pairs and headed in different directions. Flea, an extremely short Variant with the ability to leap fifty times his height, and Noxia, a girl partially covered with reptilian scales who had the ability to spit acid, both headed toward Bywater. A bulky Variant, called Graffite, possessing stone skin that is near impenetrable, and a girl, Ruby, with the ability to construct blades and spears out of blood, were heading in the direction of Uptown. Each pair carried a bag and seemed to be very protective of their cargo. The chemicals weren't apparently volatile and were well secured within their duffels.


Manny/Inverse


– Midtown –


Manny had suited up as soon as the news update hit his notifications. He wasn't quite sure if he could handle a burning building but he sure as hell was good at catching people. He also wasn't sure what to expect so he mentally prepared for the worst.

After cruising the rooftops and following the sound of sirens, Inverse spotted a pair of Variants running down the street with a duffel bag. The police seemed to be closing in on them, but he had a feeling that they would not be easily subdued. Continuing on the rooftops, he landed on a building directly above the pair as they cut down an alley. Their path was impeded by a high chain link fence. Perching on the edge, he called down to the Variants.

"End of the line, I suppose. Guess you chose the wrong alley. A couple streets over and you might have made it."

Inverse smirked with his arms folded as a few police cars halted at the entrance to the alley, cutting off the runners' exit. Several officers exited the vehicles with weapons drawn.

"NHPD! Drop the bag and put your hands up!"

Flea and Noxia eyed their pursuers with mild annoyance. They nodded to each other as if silently agreeing to some sort of Plan B and Noxia tossed Flea the duffel which looked quite awkward for him to carry at his height. She then turned around and took a deep breath. When she released, she exhaled a spray of highly corrosive acid onto the fence. As the metal was quickly eaten away, Flea began to run straight toward the gathering of officers.

"Freeze!"

Flea simply smirked and took a single leap. He soared directly over the officers a good fifty feet and landed on the roof across the street from the alley. He gave a mocking salute and leapt once again toward the next rooftop. Meanwhile, Noxia took off through the large hole that now existed where her acid had melted the metal.

Inverse's head darted back and forth as he watched the two split up.

"Oh, hell…"

He made a quick assessment of the situation and decided his best bet was to stay on Flea. Ignoring the police now scrambling to continue their chase, Inverse headed in the direction of the small Variant.


Sierra/Incinera


– Midtown –


As the fire at the lab blazed on, Incinera flew toward the building at breakneck speed. When she came within range, she hurled a fireball at a window directly in her path, shattering it enough for her to fly straight into the flames. She rolled as she landed nearly colliding with a collapsed support beam. She immediately regretted her impulsive entrance as she coughed and choked on the smoke in the air. Fire immunity didn't really equal smoke immunity. She decided it was too late to leave and covered her mouth as best as she could and continued on hoping to reach a pocket with better air quality.

Using her instincts, she made her way to a door leading to a stairwell and crashed through it. This part of the building had yet to catch flame and she was able to somewhat catch her breath. She stood for a moment, listening for cries for help. She heard several screams coming from the floor above and she immediately made her way up. Pushing through another door, she was instantly greeted by a wall of flames. She moved unfazed through the fire, shoving aside scorching and scalding debris to clear a path toward the victims. She found a group of what looked like college students trapped behind some fallen rubble. A couple had lost consciousness and the remaining few were on their way to the same fate, coughing and hacking at the smoke and heat exposure.

"Hey! I'm gonna help you, okay?!"

Incinera hurriedly cleared away as much of the debris as she could and made to move the students to safety.


Dante/Sever


– Midtown –

Dante focused hard on his game as he looked to beat his own high score on the ninth machine in the arcade. This score was particularly high even for him...he must have really been in the zone at the time. He heard the sirens as they whirred in the distance and he continued his quest, ignoring what was a rather common sound in Midtown. It wasn't long before he failed his attempt to best himself.

"Dammit!"

He lightly slammed a disappointed fist on the machine and backed away. He pulled his phone out from his pocket and immediately saw the breaking story from the Privy Newstream. He knew as soon as he read the headline that Sierra and Manny would jump on it and try to play hero. It sounded like the incident wasn't too far from where he was, and he wondered if there was anything he should, or could, do to help. He didn't exactly try to ever put himself in harm's way, but he felt obligated at this moment to act.

As Dante stepped out of the arcade, he noticed that the sirens were growing increasingly louder. He figured that most likely meant that the chase was headed in his direction. Just then, a couple of people turned a corner in the distance running full speed toward where he was standing. He presumed they were the Variants trying to evade the authorities and he felt his adrenaline starting to pump.

Well, looks like I don't have much choice now...only question is whether or not I can stop them...
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