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4 mos ago
Current Gonna be running a campaign with the Fate Core System today. Hopefully the players don't realize I have no clue what I'm doing.
4 likes
4 mos ago
Internet has been out all day and I’ve suddenly realized I’m boring. Won’t be able to write anything till Friday at the earliest.
1 like
7 mos ago
Finally done Midterms - thank god. Now I can do more productive things with my time, like watch Anime.
6 likes
1 yr ago
Work and college is rough! I probably won't be active for the next few months since Spring break is just ending and I switched to a full time job. I'll be back eventually though!
3 likes
2 yrs ago
Just in case anyone’s waiting on a post from me, it might take awhile - my internet has been down the last few days, and it’ll be back on Friday at the earliest.

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Travis breathed heavily as he pointed the sound gun (Sonic Rifle? Yeah, that sounded cooler) at the Chainsawyer, ready to unload on him the second he started to get up. Unlike Blitz, Travis seemed to lean towards the more merciful option of not brutally killing the pirates, or else he would have already been shooting the downed villain.

"...me... -Sawyer? ...The vermin... Still connect..."

His hearing wasn't getting any better - he could barely make out what Pandora was saying, despite only being a dozen or two feet away at most. Though the low whine of the Rifle and the sounds of the last few Rocketeers dying weren't exactly quiet. There almost seemed to be a light jolt through the room. Unbeknownst to Travis, this was Pandora reconnecting the train cars.

It was around this point that Travis finally noticed that the Chainsawyer was rapidly being frozen to the ground. When the villain realized this, he quickly attempted to pull away, but had already been safely neutralized. Travis lowered the rifle, looking over to Marcie as he did so. She responded by looking over at the few pirates who remained, most of whom were pretending to be dead or unconscious.

Before Travis could act on this and restrain the pirates, however, a red light beamed through the wall of the train car, a third massive hole in the vehicle. Travis quickly raised the rifle up again, ready to retaliate against whatever new villain was arriving this time, but no one came through the new entrance. Instead, a pair of cables shot through the hole, latched onto the Thorium, and whisked it away with ease.

For the immediate few seconds after this, Travis was left in stunned silence. Shortly after that, he finally realized that they had been unsuccessful.

Adrenaline pumped throughout Travis' body like lightning, and the pounding of his heart sounded louder than anything else right now. If the Thorium got stolen, then Director Steel and Blums would be super disappointed. All the funny emails, late-night voicemails, and formal requests for 'Free Ice Cream Fridays' would go to waste!

Of course, that might already be the case. While Travis didn't seem to care about the mass murder of these criminals, the Director and anyone responsible for PR might be a little upset.

Shit, shit, fuck, shit!. The Thorium was being taken away - Travis had to do something. Time almost seemed to slow down as his brain pulled at whatever options were around.

Needed to fly after the Thorium somehow. Growing wings? No, even if Travis' power could do that, he had no clue what kind of injury he'd need to take to facilitate it - the best he could do reliably was extra legs.

Shoot the ship with the Sonic Rifle? No, wouldn't be strong enough and could damage the Thorium. Best case, it gets dropped and is unusable. Worst case, it explodes... Well, maybe. Travis really wasn't sure what Thorium was, but the 'Weapon-Grade' title made him think it probably exploded.

Hold the living pirates ransom? That was a stupid idea. The leader clearly didn't give a shit about her team if she was just abandoning them here with the guy that killed most of them.

Stealing one of the dead Rocketeers' Jetpacks? Didn't have a clue how to operate it, might just go headfirst into a building at 100 miles per hour, and even if it goes well, there's no real guarantee that Travis could help against the flying ship.

Better than nothing, but still pretty dumb.

As Pandora and the new guy (Dawnmaker? Couldn't hear him very well...) both left the Train, Travis began to rifle through the equipment on the dead bodies. Most of the jetpacks were broken beyond repair - pierced along with the flesh and bones of their wearer when Blitz turned them into donuts.

When Travis finally found an intact pack, it seemed even more complex than he initially expected. Maybe the HUDs in the helmets made them easier to operate somehow? Didn't matter too much - none of the undamaged helmets would fit Travis' now deformed jaw. He slung the pack over his shoulder as the huge vape man spoke to him and Marcie.

"Well... shit... I think we're fucked, roach-boy and ice-chick. Hmm, ah, so wind-snob is going after it, I guess that makes sense."

"You guys probably can't keep up, so watch the place. I'll see if I can't go help."

"Whai fo me!"

Travis quickly chased after Blitz, stopping just short of the third hole in the train car. The train was at least 4 stories off the ground and the wind was blowing hard, Blitz running at ludicrous speeds along the roofline.

Yeah, fuck that.

"Fock tat."

It was now that Travis admitted that this wasn't really his fight anymore. His power didn't facilitate chasing down a vehicle very well, and he didn't know how to use the jetpack reliably. He'd almost certainly do more harm to himself and the buildings nearby than he would help to regain the Thorium. The other heroes would do better without having to worry about Travis messing things up for them.

More importantly, they were really high up, and Travis was not the biggest fan of heights.

He quickly began removing the rifles and jetpacks from the corpses and few remaining Pirates that were still alive, tossing them into a bloody pile the next car over. HERO probably wanted to take that stuff... and maybe they'd let Travis keep a badass souvenir. He refrained from knocking them out, however.

No real need to harm them anymore. The survivors surely preferred prison to dealing with Blitz again.

Travis gently rubbed his jaw, feeling the tooth blocks clack together every time he opened and closed his mouth. Might heal in an hour or two? That kind of sucked, but there wasn't really much left to do - wouldn't be too big of a problem.

"Cahn you freec-"

Yeah, this wasn't going to work. Travis paused, before pulling out his phone and opening a text-to-speech program. After typing his message out, a robotic voice quickly began playing from the device.

"Can you restrain these guys? I didn't bring any cuffs."

Travis continued typing, thankful that his hands didn't get injured during the fight. Typing with weird roach fingers was not an enjoyable experience.

"Do you know if Hero pays for the food here? That'd be ducking awesome."

Travis sighed, a noise that sounded more like a fusion of a whistle and a groan from his mutated throat.

"Fucking awesome."

It was a little disturbing that Travis was hungry despite the gory scene around them.


Sláine Druiminn

Koushuuensaikan Taizan, Mount Miyama, Miyama Town -> Moving towards Commerce District

Mentions:
@Heavy Snark



Sláine backed away from the circle, an expression of surprise lining his face as he stared at the armored figure standing before him. Sláine knew that servants used to be humans, and he had expected the raw power that one possessed... but the presence was like nothing he could have anticipated.

There was no question. The figure standing before him, clad in armor, was a Saber-class Servant. His servant.

"I have heard your summons, and so I have answered. I ask of you, shall I fight at your side?"

"Oh thank god..."

Sláine couldn't help himself - the relief he felt upon seeing the form of his servant was palpable. Despite being stalled until the last minute before the war began, he had managed to land a Saber class Servant. Those were supposed to be the strongest class in the war! Sláine's patience with his summoning ritual must have been the key to this success.

Or it was pure luck, but the former made Sláine feel better about taking so long.

Sláine quickly regained his composure when he noticed the armored figure still present, adopting a more neutral expression.

"Erm, yes. Yes, I have summoned you to fight with me, Saber."

Now that he had a chance to fully appreciate his summoned Servant, Sláine only grew more assured in his prospects in the war. The man's silver armor seemed to radiate power, and his very presence and posture seemed to bear a noble flair.

The only problem was his eyes... They had such a familiar look, but Sláine couldn't put a name to the feeling he saw from them.

That didn't matter. All servants had their problems, right? And if eyes that made Sláine feel weird were the only price he had to pay for a Saber, then he was even luckier than he thought. Sláine tried to avoid looking people in the eyes anyway, so it wasn't that bad.

"I should introduce myself, considering we will be working together. My name is Sláine Druiminn, and I specialize in Plant Magecraft, with a focus on healing and support. My wish for the grail is to grant my creator access to the root - I put my faith in you to help me see this wish through."

The speech was cold, callous, almost mechanical in tone. Sláine's face didn't betray his emotions, but internally he was beaming with pride. He had rehearsed his introduction nearly a dozen times, attempting to mimic the uncaring monotone of the Druiminn family elders. They were true mages, so copying them would lead to the best outcome in a war of mages.

When introductions were finished Sláine quickly discovered that he had no idea what to talk about. Was asking about a Servant's stats considered impolite? What about their past? What orders are appropriate with a Command Seal?

...How the hell did you use a Command Seal?

"...Now might not be the best time, but this is my first time participating in a Holy Grail War. If there is any proper decorum or rules that you're aware of, I'd appreciate you letting me know."

Sláine was aware that Servants received knowledge from the grail on summoning - it was the first thing he asked about. After all, Sláine was petrified when he had first ridden in a car. He couldn't imagine how a monstrously strong servant would react in a similar situation. However, the breadth of knowledge that Servants gained was unknown to the homunculus. If they got even a small amount of information about the war itself, then it couldn't hurt to ask.

The pair continued to chat for a few minutes before Sláine noticed the time.

My lunch break...

Sláine shook the thought away. Skipping a meal was worth summoning Saber.

"I have to head back to work, Saber - Batsu-san will be furious if I am late. I'll finish in a few hours, so ."

Sláine quickly went back downstairs, leaving his Servant alone. The thought of using Suggestion magecract to skip work came to mind, but it wasn't worth it. Sláine needed to minimize its usage if he wanted to last to the end of the war. Besides, working during the day shouldn't matter too much - the possibility of an attack in a crowded restaurant in the middle of the day was next to nothing. No, even if an enemy detected Saber while Sláine was working, the enemy wouldn't attack out of fear of leaving witnesses.

Because of that, Sláine felt more than comfortable giving his Servant a longer leash. Maybe he'd find something interesting while Sláine was working - or he'd just stalk Sláine in spirit form. Either way, it didn't harm them very much.

If Dom Pedro looked around the room, he would notice that the room was absolutely covered in various herbs and saplings, to the point that plant life dominated the living space. More interesting, a cursory glance would reveal that Sláine had left his wallet on his bed.



Finally, the workday was over. The dinner rush, like usual, was incredibly draining. Sláine's grasp on Japanese was better than some of the masters in this war, facilitated by the Druiminn's tampering and constant use in the restaurant, but even with that, it was hard to understand the more inebriated patrons of Koushuuensaikan Taizan. Thankfully, it didn't seem to be as busy tonight as it initially appeared - the restaurant was quite small, so it cleared out quickly.

Batsu slapped Sláine's back roughly as the last customer left.

"Good thing we didn't need an ambulance this time around, yeah?"

"Yes, Batsu-san..."

Sláine rubbed his back as he responded. While it was probably a fairly light blow for someone like Batsu, Sláine's skin was stinging in the area around the hit. Pushing it to the side, Sláine spoke up as his manager began washing the last customer's dishes.

"I'm going to be headed out, Batsu-san. Do you know anywhere I can... anywhere I can hang out?"

Sláine needed to gather information on the other Masters, and while familiars could do the trick, he had no idea what he would be looking for. From his limited knowledge on grail wars, Sláine knew that Servants could detect one another - that would be the best method of finding his opponents. Instead of rituals, dead animals, and magical energy, all this method required was walking around and getting lucky.

"You're headed out? Wow, I was starting to think I'd have to deal with you staying here every night."

Batsu slid the freshly washed plate onto the pile next to the sink as she spoke.

"Maybe you could try OS Cinema in the Commerce district? I think they're showing that new Spider-Man movie. There's a mall near there, so you can get something to eat while you're out."

Sláine nodded, already climbing the stairs as Batsu finished speaking. As soon as he made it to his room and established another bounded field, Sláine addressed his invisible companion.

"Saber, tonight we're going to gather some information on the other Masters. If things turn ugly, please prepare to escape - fighting will be a last resort."

The first night of the war was far too early to reveal Saber's abilities to the other Masters. Big players like the Matou and Tohsaka would surely be looking at any fights that occur, and as the creators of the war, they'd be the most difficult opponents. Even if anonymity is a small benefit, any advantage possible would be needed to win against them.

Besides, Sláine felt that allowing the others to tire themselves out fighting would be much more effective than actively participating.

Sláine quickly got changed into his casual attire as he spoke, a white button-up shirt and black dress pants.

"If you have any suggestions or other plans, please let me know."

Servants, like Homunculi, were tools. But unlike the latter, Servants were at one point human - and as a result, they could be quite easy to upset. Sláine needed to refrain from ordering Saber around as much as possible, and treat their relationship more akin to a partnership. If the Saber rebelled or became too difficult, then Amelia would never reach the Root.

Saber probably knew a lot more about strategy and fighting a war than Sláine did anyways. If he had another plan, it was almost certainly a better one.

Sláine nearly left but paused at the door. He raced back to the closet, pulling on a green hoodie and a pair of white gloves. The Command Seals on Sláine's hand would be a dead giveaway that he was a master, and his unnatural pallor drew attention even from the mundane. Satisfied with his undercover attire, Sláine left Koushuuensaikan Taizan.



Assassin

Penthouse Suite, Grand Bleu Hotel, Shinto Town -> ???

Mentions:
@SSW



Assassin frowned slightly from her Master's remarks - particularly the 'pipsqueak' comment. This guy should have summoned the 4th Hassan if he wanted to call someone a pipsqueak... Her frown only deepened when Constantine mentioned that he had stolen their current summoning location. Assassin had met many people like that during her life, and killed quite a few of them. Thievery was certainly not the problem, but if someone was so willing to bust heads to get what they wanted, then he'd probably work Assassin hard during the war...

"Well, you can kill as much as you want, but I'm not here to win. Who needs a cup anyway? I can drink just as well from my hands."

This comment gave Assassin pause from her pessimistic thoughts. He... didn't care about winning? Why the hell would he willingly enter into a battle to the death if he didn't have any plans on winning? Did he really just want to meet heroes?

Then again, if you weren't trying to win the grail, there really wouldn't be a need to fight to the death...

Assassin's lips curled into a strange grin.

"Sorry if I'm not up to your standards for a hero. If it makes you feel better, we Assassins are also pretty low maintenance, so your pitiful circuits won't be too taxed."

Assassin finally climbed off her perch on the couch, sauntering after her master as he walked to the door. Before he left the penthouse, however, he paused a final time and spoke out again.

"Oh, by the way, I don't speak Japanese. If it comes down to it, I might need you to translate."

Assassin nodded, either not noticing the embarrassed tone or simply not expending the energy to comment on it.

"Very well, Master. Let me know when my services are needed."

As they left the tarnished penthouse, Assassin shifted into spirit form and smiled once more. Despite the insults, this Master definitely fulfilled Assassin's criteria. And if what he said about summoning her again was true, then he must have felt the same way about her - why else would he summon her a second time?

This war might not be too bad!



This war sucks!

Assassin was hidden in an alleyway, laying in a hammock of her own hair. A pair of spiders moved between her hands, spinning webs between Assassin's fingers like an unsettling game of Cat's Cradle.

Constantine wasn't joking around when he said that he 'didn't go for luxury'. Apparently, his definition of luxury was much different from Assassin's.

"How the hell do you not even have a tent!? What are we supposed to do, sleep outside?"

Assassin groaned and swung in her hammock, acting more like a child forced to eat their vegetables than a hardened killer.

"Maybe we should have risked the trap at that apartment..."

Assassin, despite not having left Constantine's side since being summoned, had already established quite the information network. She had already acquired a few hundred spider familiars without even trying, and had disseminated most in various parts of the city - everywhere except the Church and Mount Enzo. Of course, she wasn't able to detect Servants through them directly, so it mostly served as a means of navigating the layout of the Fuyuki and as a warning in case a large amount of Magical Energy was used nearby.

The most notable discovery of Assassins, however, was the positions of the four Leylines of Fuyuki. Leylines were of incredible importance to Magi - not only could they further reduce the cost needed to maintain a Servant, but they also served as an incredible 'battery' for rituals. And while one of the leylines was impossible to use thanks to its proximity to the church, the other 3 were prime spots for enemy Masters - they were almost certainly serving as a base for someone.

...Not that it really mattered, however. Assassin had already decided that she wasn't going to kill unless she was forced to, and considering her Master didn't want the grail, that really only left self-defense on the table. The Enemies who've claimed the leylines as their own would be safe from her stalking.

"I've gathered a few spiders to search for other Servants. What are we to do in the meantime, Master?"

Assassin paused, leaning over to give her master a snide remark.

"Other than loiter outside like homeless bums, I mean."

Maybe it was because she lacked a proper 'nesting area' to set up her territory, but Assassin seemed a bit more restless than usual - every minute or so she leaned out of her hammock to look around, almost as if she expected enemies to drop in instantly.


Sláine Druiminn

Koushuuensaikan Taizan, Mount Miyama, Miyama Town

Mentions:
@Heavy Snark



"Danbai! Breakfast is ready!"

The pale figure awoke with a start, sitting up from his futon and nearly hitting his head on a poorly positioned shelf. The first thing he saw was the large summoning circle drawn in the middle of the cramped room he found himself in, eliciting a yelp from the young man.

"Ye-"

A slight pain in the head caused Sláine to pause briefly.

"Yes, Batsu-san, I'm coming!"

When he heard footsteps leading away from the room, the boy gave a sigh of relief. The Druiminn's didn't have time to completely teach him Japanese, so they implanted some small ticks that helped him along. The pain was initially quite bothersome but had become nearly unnoticeable over the last few days of use.

Now that he was fully awake, Sláine began to recognize the place he was in. A small room, boxes filled with bottles and spices limiting what little space the room provided. However, all of that was pushed to the side and stacked as high as possible, allowing enough space for the intricate summoning circle in the middle of the room. Sláine had drawn it over the course of five hours last night and quadruple-checked it for errors or mistakes - it was far out of his usual practice, so he wanted to be especially careful with the powerful ritual. He ended up taking so much precaution, however, that he ended up falling asleep before he even summoned his servant.

The pig blood has dried already... does that matter? I should have asked the elders more before I left...

The thought of summoning his Servant immediately crossed Sláine's mind, but he dismissed it. The ritual wasn't especially time-intensive (at least, not when he had already finished the circle and prepared the catalyst), but Batsu might get curious why he's taking so long - and it'd be pretty hard to explain how someone with a sword managed to get into his room when the store wasn't even open yet.

No, it would be better to do it during his break.

His attempts at securing a base in the farms failed spectacularly, his suggestion magecraft not being strong enough to distract his potential hosts from his albinism and poor Japanese. Thankfully, a restaurant in the city was hiring part-time help, and the manager was even willing to rent out a room for Sláine to stay in. Compared to tricking someone into thinking you're some grandson or nephew, getting hired for a job was much easier to do with suggestions.

Sláine began getting ready for work, replacing his crumpled pajamas with unfamiliar eastern clothes. Even after wearing it for a few days, Sláine was uncomfortable in his work uniform - it felt too loose and flowing compared to the formal western-style he was acquainted with. Several minutes later he finished his ensemble, dressing in an orange robe with floral designs along with a cute green apron. Satisfied, Sláine quickly made his way to the kitchen of the restaurant. Once there, he could see Batsu in a similar outfit, her hair put up into buns. She had a look of annoyance on her face, and she quickly placed the bowl she was eating from onto a small table nearby.

"Geez, what took so long? We're opening soon!"

"I'm sorry, Batsu-san. I am still unfamiliar with this type of dress."

Batsu's eyes narrowed slightly as she slid the bowl she was eating from to Sláine. It was filled with Baozi, a type of bun with contents that changed so frequently that Sláine began to suspect that Batsu simply filled it with whatever she had on hand.

"It's not a dress - it's a Changshan. Very manly, you know? Anyways, eat quick and clean up when you're done."

One of the major downsides to this area compared to the farms (Other than how urbanized it was, the population density, and the risk of meeting other Masters) was the food. Sláine's creator, Amelia, had not put too much effort in recreating proper taste buds - taste wasn't an important function for a homunculus to possess, after all. But even with his rudimentary sense, Sláine could tell that the food served here was far too spicy for the average human. And while his tongue didn't protest too much, his stomach had been aching the last few days that he had spent here...

Sláine dismissed the thought and began eating quickly, careful to avoid getting his dress dirty. He still wasn't too used to eating with chopsticks so he chose to pierce the buns with the utensil, which always earned him a glare from Batsu when she caught him doing it. It didn't really matter if she caught him now though - the restaurant was opening soon and he would need the energy for the rest of his shift. While it might have been possible to avoid working the job at all, a job in food service would be an excellent way to get information from the mundane population of the city, along with teaching Sláine how to properly interact with modern society.

...The real reason Sláine was working at all, though, was simply because that was what he was designed to do. He wouldn't know what to do with all the free time he would have if he didn't do something during the day. Maybe he'd quit and move, if his Servant had a better place in mind.

When he emptied the bowl, Sláine quickly went about clearing off the small table and washing the bowl and chopsticks. By the time he had finished up, the restaurant had already opened, and a massive stream of customers came tumbling in...

Not really. Koushuuensaikan Taizan seemed to be infamous for its spicy food, and while quite a few people stopped by in the evening to enjoy the only chinese cuisine in the city, the morning crowd was limited at best. The morning was mostly spent preparing for lunch, Sláine bringing down various boxes from the second floor, cutting up vegetables, and seeing to the few customers that did stop by in the morning. When lunch hit and the restaurant actually got more than 2 customers at a time, Sláine grew anxious. What if he was taking too long, and the Saber slot was already filled? The effort he went to secure a catalyst would be pointless...

Eventually, the lunch rush was finally over, and Sláine began cleaning as fast as he could. You had to be extra careful when washing the dishes - if you did a poor job and the spice clung to your hands, you'd end up burning your eyes...

Don't ask how Sláine knew that.

As soon as he finished, he left wordlessly for his room. Batsu could deal with the stragglers - Sláine just needed to finish the ritual quickly. When he got to his room, he immediately began searching the window, prodding blindly until his fingers finally clasped the clay pot he was looking for.

Can't hide when I know where you are, little one...

With the artificial Dryad in his hands, Sláine could now see it quite easily. And more importantly, he could see the rusted sword fragment that was safely tucked next to it. It once belonged to a hero from South America - of course, Sláine didn't know who 'Dom Pedro' was, let alone his skills or martial prowess. All that mattered to Sláine was that the catalyst belonged to someone who had bound themselves very closely with the element of water, and would almost certainly be summoned in the class of Saber.

Sláine was about to begin the ritual before stopping himself. He paused for a second, before establishing a soundproofing Bounded Field around the room.

Last thing I need is for Batsu to come and investigate...

His final preparations completed, Sláine began the ritual that would decide his fate.

"Let silver and steel be the essence..."



Assassin

Penthouse Suite, Grand Bleu Hotel, Shinto Town

Mentions:
@SSW



The air warped slightly as the ritual proceeded, growing soaked in magical energy. The circle that had been prepared by the defeated magus seemed to be doing its job and began to softly glow.

No object serving as a catalyst was present for the ritual - though, unlike most Servants, a physical catalyst wasn't necessary for the Servant that Constantine planned to summon.

No, the class alone would suffice - the name a word that represented the servant being summoning, down to its very core.

Assassin

The light of the circle reached its peak as the air picked up more, causing dust and glass from the broken window to scatter around the room. In the center of the circle... there was nothing. The light had cut off almost as soon as it peaked, and soon after, the only thing causing the air to move was the wind from the broken window.

While someone with less experience in grail wars may assume that they simply failed the ritual, the truth was far from that.

Slinking from behind a flipped-over couch, Assassin breathed a silent sigh of relief. She was short, maybe 145 centimeters at most, and her entire frame was covered in a ragged black cloak. Her face was covered by the signature skull mask that all Hassans bear, the bottom of her face and her dark, almost glowing eyes being the only uncovered portions of Assassin's body.

She held her arms out wide as she walked towards her Master with a smug look.

"Did I get ya? Sorry Master, just a little prank to make you shit your pants, kekeke."

Assassin paused near her master, having noticed that a bounded field had been established in the room. While not a Caster, Assassin was a mage in her life, and could recognize something like a bounded field quite easily. Deciding that the soundproofing was harmless, she continued looking around the torn apart penthouse, disappointment clear in her posture. She had no idea what a hotel or penthouse was, but could clearly tell that the room was quite luxurious at one point in time.

"You must have had pretty good digs here once - what's with all the mess? Did you really have to ruin the rug like that?"

Sighing, Assassin laid herself on one of the mattresses used to surround the circle.

"Anyways, I'm your servant - Hassan-I-Sabbah, Assassin-Class. There, done my part. Now - who are you, and who do you want me to kill for you?"

Assassin couldn't remember her past incarnations, but was aware of the nature of the Holy Grail War. Servants kill one another with Magi acting as their Masters, until only one pair remains. Even if she wished to relax and enjoy her newfound existence, she'd have to stick with this guy in order to remain summoned. And since he was a master, he must want Assassin to kill again.

God, what a pain.







As Travis slammed his wooden sword against the side of the pirate's head, he could almost feel the helmet give way from the force of the blow. The pirate probably felt it too, considering he got knocked into one of his allies and didn't get up. When the second pirate was pinned under his friend's unconscious body, Travis quickly dispatched him as well - one hit to the head, followed quickly by a kick where Travis thought the ear was.

The others didn't seem very pleased that their friends were getting the crap kicked out of them. A loud screech rang out as one of them fired off their sound rifle, colliding against Travis's side with only minor pain. Another shot to the chest confirmed what he was thinking - he was almost entirely immune to their sound blasts by now, the blast only leaving him slightly unnerved. Noticing how it was ineffective, one of the pirates simply chose to thrust the butt of their rifle into Travis's face.

Pain exploded from his mouth as Travis fell to the ground. He wasn't expecting such a ballsy hit and lost his balance - that was kind of embarrassing. Almost immediately, he began to cough and spit, eventually hacking two teeth onto the floor of the car. They'd grow back, nothing to worry about. He did it on reflex - he knew what was about to happen next, and had learned that getting the shit in his mouth out of there was a priority.

As soon as he shut his mouth again, he could feel the teeth in his mouth fusing, becoming bulky and unwieldy. Almost like they were transforming into incisors or even just blocks of bone. He had experienced it dozens or even hundreds of times, but it was still uncomfortable as fuck. If he hadn't gotten those loose teeth out before the adaptation, Travis wasn't sure if he'd be able to get them out before he healed.

Travis opened his eyes. Three seconds. His forearms already were beginning to grow that brown, almost plate-like armor.

Thank god for adrenaline. Was starting to feel pretty good.

The sounds banging around the car were beginning to dull somewhat - the hairs that had grown all over Travis's body seemed to be working a bit too well at breaking the sound waves. Still, he could tell that the pirates were firing their rifles - it didn't seem like they were willing to waste any more effort on Travis while he was down though. Turning, he saw that they were aiming at Marcie. Smart move - she was probably a much softer target, and judging by the sudden chill in the room and the fact that the hole into the car had been frozen over, she was a more pressing target as well. As she got knocked to the ground from one of the blasts, Travis could feel a sudden chill near him.

"Tr... Take...!"

Even if he couldn't hear clearly, it didn't really take a brain scientist or rocket surgeon to figure out what Marcie wanted him to do. It was hard to get leverage on the ground, but even the best armors didn't fix human anatomy. Rolling over to the nearest pirate, Travis simply grabbed his leg and turned, pulling the leg backward. With his feet frozen to the floor, a sickening crunch ran through Travis's body as the Pirate's knee was forcefully bent in the opposite direction.

It took a spray of blood and a deep scream for Travis to realize that there was another person present - which is pretty surprising, considering he was by far the largest in the room. Easily towering over both the pirates as well as the heroes, Blitz was rushing through the rocketeers with incredible ease, simply running them through with his arms. While most heroes would probably be disgusted with the brutality and lack of care for human life that was being displayed, Travis simply thought 'Man, that's badass'.

"Mahn, tha's badash!"

God, it sucked trying to talk with weird fused teeth-blocks...

But it seemed like Travis didn't really need to worry about the rest of the pirates - some of them were fused, and those that weren't would probably get frozen or simply rammed through by the giant running around. Travis quickly got to his feet, prepared to jump in the way of any last desperate sound rifle blasts.

Before the sound of metal being cleaved through rang out through the entire car. Even with his hearing compromised, Travis could tell that probably wasn't a good sign.

Another giant man was walking into the car, and although this one wasn't as tall as Blitz, the giant glowing chainsaw he carried made him look even more intimidating than the guy covered in blood and organs. Travis had no idea who this masked villain was, but was extremely wary of his blade. He'd seen energy weapons before, but only in the form of knives and small blades. Even with his durability, Travis wasn't sure if he'd be able to take a hit from that and survive-

As the Chainsawyer began to move forwards, the tip of his weapon managed to lightly brush against another figure in the room - Viper. While Travis didn't notice him initially, the man's darker outfit almost immediately made Travis think he was a villain and the Chainswayer just didn't care about friendly fire.

Viper's guts and blood spilled onto the ground, joining the sizable pool that was already forming from Blitz's rampage.

'Yeah, let's not even try to tank that...'

Travis honestly had no clue how to deal with this. He might get away with minor injuries if he was lucky, but honestly, it was not worth the risk to try and use his power here. It cleaved through someone with only a glancing hit.

Plus, he wasn't sure if he regrew his limbs. And Cybernetics would really mess up his style...

The Chainsawyer began to race towards Marcie - either he followed the same line of thinking as the other pirates and saw her as the most dangerous, or he was just picking them off randomly. Either way, Travis didn't really have the opportunity to help her out - the pirate whose leg Travis just broke seemed to be made of tougher stuff than the others, and he along with the other surviving pirates was keeping him pinned, kicking him in the head and sides while forcing him down with their weight. One of the pirates laying on Travis was already aiming his rifle at someone (Blitz? Travis wasn't really looking), trying to take advantage of the sudden shift in battle the Chainswayer's arrival caused. Seemed like they had found Travis's second-biggest weakness - he wasn't super strong, so they could just pin him to take him out.

Blitz wasn't in Travis's line of sight, but he was the only one that Travis could think responsible for what happened next. Something flew directly into the Chainsawyer's chest, fast enough that Travis could barely even register what happened. The move seemed to distract the other Rocketeers somewhat, as almost everything seemed to stop for a brief instant.

However, the arrival of another hero was what really sealed the deal. Someone in a flamboyant costume ('with a very cool looking cape', Travis thought) entered the car, seeming to cause the very air in the room to fluctuate. Dawnbreaker entered a little before the Chainsawyer, but Travis and the pirates pinning him only noticed the man after the initial hit on the giant chainsaw-wielding freak. It was the perfect distraction, as Travis had just enough time to begin choking out one of the mobile pirates pinning him. He struggled briefly, but with his legs locked around him and the solid hairs digging into his flesh, it only took seconds for the tired pirate to fall unconscious. And with only two pirates pinning him, one of whom was partially frozen and had a broken leg, Travis finally managed to free himself from the veritable swarm around him.

Thank god Travis's hearing was messed up enough to miss what Dawnbreaker was actually saying, or he'd also be distracted by thinking of how cool it was.

The two pirates had finally moved on to another target, firing their rifles at Blitz. Travis yanked the rifle from the partially frozen pirate but didn't stop to deal with the other unloading on the huge hero. He had bigger priorities - getting Marcie away from the Chainsaw guy as quickly as possible. She was the only one who could really close the holes these weirdos made in the train car walls, and could painlessly incapacitate the Rocketeers... Well, painlessly compared to Blitz's method.

Thankfully, the gun that Travis stole wasn't one of the ones frozen by Marcie. He trained it on the Chainsawyer, ready to fire it the second the man moved. He yelled at Marcie over the conflict still going on in the train car, his voice coming out strangely from his mutated mouth and weakened hearing.

"Freecee te whol!"

God, it really sucked trying to talk with weird fused teeth-blocks. Hopefully, Marcie would freeze the hole in the train before more pirates came in - then they could have a breather and buy time for the other heroes to secure the civilians and arrive.


"The aquarium, eh? I've seen some mighty strange marine life. Once, I saw the Kraken tear a ship apart in the north Atlantic ocean. Terrible thing. Those poor sailors. Our ship managed to escape, but I wouldn't be surprised if that creature was still lurking beneath the depths. Twice as big as a whale."

Travis nodded his head as he listened to the story, picking up cards as they were dealt to him. He had been on a little fishing boat before with his friend Scales, so he could believe that a squid sank a boat. Of course, Travis didn't know that Pandora was probably remembering an event that occurred decades ago, or even a hundred or two years ago, and the ship was most certainly not a small fishing boat.

"Sound scary. I'll keep that in mind if I'm ever traveling the Atlantic."

The conversation, along with the game, stopped pretty quickly after that. Almost as soon as the cards had been dealt and the game was starting, an explosion sounded nearby, and the train silently began to stop, causing numerous free objects to clatter about the car.

This included anyone not buckled in, and Travis somehow managed to hit his head against the wall behind him. The wood exterior cracked with the force, but the damage to the car was superficial at best. And it wasn't even that for Travis - the sound of the impact was far more uncomfortable than the actual 'injury', causing Travis to wince slightly. Not even damaging enough to activate his power. Pandora grabbed the cards in Travis's hand quickly, silently returning them to their case before leaning back into her seat, seemingly undisturbed from the sudden halt of the train.

Grumbling slightly, Travis briefly forgot what could have caused the explosion. It wasn't until Pandora spoke up again about their 'guests' that he remembered - oh yeah, he's here to fight pirates and protect the Thorium, not to play card games. The thought quickly brightened his mood, and Travis climbed to his feet just as the train began to fully stop. Quickly after that, two heroes from the rear storage car entered, running to the point the explosion from earlier sounded.

Normally, Travis would immediately join them - not only would he get to show off in front of other heroes, but it would also be a good chance to save some civilians and look even cooler. Maybe get a medal or something!

...But Travis honestly had no clue how many heroes were actually in the Storage room with the Thorium. He only really remembered the big guy that had blown smoke in his face - for all he knew, the safe was completely undefended!

Travis didn't really care about saving civilians in the first place - the only reason he'd even want to is because they would thank him for it. But if he helped keep the Thorium safe and beat up some pirates... then everyone would totally think he was super reliable, right?

Maybe Alexandra Director Steele would even respond to his email about instituting 'Free Ice Cream Fridays' on the Paladin!

"You'd better not keep them waiting. I'm sure you'll do fine. Failing that, I'm sure you'll at least survive."

"Surviving is pretty good at least. Nice meeting you guys - I owe you two a game of blackjack later."

Despite some strange sounds coming from the adjacent car, Travis immediately began running to the back of the train. Worst case scenario, he would end up getting ignored and have to sit out the entire fight... which would really suck, actually...

At least he wouldn't be the only one - Pandora didn't seem eager to get into a brawl, considering she hadn't even moved from her seat. Maybe she just had some really long-range power? Travis didn't really think to ask before leaving.

Thankfully, it was too late for Travis to reconsider doubling back - he was already running at full speed to the back of the train, and after passing a few cars, managed to burst through the door. The lingering scent of strawberry smoke was still thick in the air, but thankfully it was fading quickly now that the source was gone. Travis could probably handle it... Well, he'd actually have to, since he noticed that a hole had already been carved out of the storage car, and pirates were already beginning to storm in.

Perfect! Travis's plan had worked! Now he just needed to beat up a dozen or two pirates, all of whom were armed, and could probably just fly away with their jetpacks and shoot him with their weird rifles...

Okay, it might have been a bit optimistic now that he was thinking about it. Maybe he could bluff though! What would Scales say in a situation like this...

"Alright, good job guys. I'll give you guys one chance to sur-"

A sonic blast ripped through the air, colliding with Travis's shoulder and sending him careening into the side of the car. A miss - they were probably trying to pop his head like a grape. Time seemed to slow as Travis slammed into the wall - the collision didn't hurt enough to build a resistance, but that sound shit was pretty crazy. Thankfully his arm wasn't broken. Would probably be bruised later, but he would heal it in an hour or two.

What mattered more was what began happening to Travis's body. Hairs sprouted from his injured shoulder radially, spiraling from the wound until they covered every inch of his body. Stiff bristles, more akin to small spines than actual hair. They were tightly packed, causing Travis to look more like some macabre pincushion. If someone missed them growing, they might think he had gotten a few thousand splinters somewhere during his landing.

3 seconds have passed. Travis got to his feet, seemingly unbothered by his now injured shoulder. He was right-handed anyways.

"That hurt, asshole."

Travis leaped forwards, yanking the wooden sword from his pant loop. The guy that initially shot him had been the one to carve out the hole - and as a result, the closest guy to smash over the head. He shot once more, but the second blast only paused Travis for a fraction of a second. The direct chest shot was even less damaging than the glancing blow from earlier, only causing a slight increase in the number of spines across his body. The shooter was rewarded with a powerful blow to the helmet - the armor might keep him up, but even the best helmet in the world wouldn't protect someone from what was a glorified baseball bat to the skull.

"I'm still walking, bitch! Woooooh!"

Travis was definitely out of his league - the fact he hit one of them so hard was really just blind luck and surprise. Considering the Rocketeers had access to his dossier, then they probably had some tranquilizers or gas to take him out.

Or, y'know, other guns. Gross roach spines sure as hell wouldn't stop a bullet, and a well-placed one could probably take Travis out before he could adapt.


The woman in front of Travis seemed to finally register that he was in the car with her, an eye peering open to look at the young man. Her expression didn't seem to change in response to his presence - or, at least not in a way that Travis could recognize. She looked like she was only a few years older than him, making her apathetic attitude a little weird. Maybe she was just really used to this kind of mission like Travis thought.

When she said his name, he was visibly shocked and nearly missed the snide comment. Unlike Pandora, Travis clearly did not read the profiles of the other Heroes on the train. Hell, he didn't even know that was an option - he had mostly stuck to either solo missions, or large 'clean ups', neither of which warranted learning about whoever he was working with. Travis thought briefly about asking how the woman knew his name but decided to just slide past it. It made sense that someone would look into who they're going on a mission with.

"Glad to hear, I have a pot roast waiting for me when we're done. Bit optimistic cleanup time though, I'd think that rockets would leave a bigger mess."

Despite the serious tone of her voice, Travis assumed that Pandora's comment was a joke, and responded in kind. Though, if this lady could see the future, that would explain how she knew his name...

Before he could pursue this asinine line of thinking any further, another person entered the car. Travis didn't see her walk past him towards the storage room, but considering he was coughing and had smoke in his eyes, he realized he must have not even seen her.

Marcie seemed to have been like the other woman in the car, choosing civilian clothes for this mission... Then again, Travis didn't have a costume and was also in his regular wardrobe, so he couldn't really bash her for that. Marcie definitely seemed a lot mousier than the people that Travis was used to dealing with though. She awkwardly asked if she could sit down, and Pandora permitted it a few seconds later, Travis nodding in agreement for no reason.

A few seconds of silence passed as everyone got seated, and Travis started to get nervous. When he first walked in, the lady in here was just sitting with her eyes closed - and Marcie didn't exactly strike him as a conversationalist. Was he going to have to sit still and do nothing for however long it too for the Rocketeers to show up? Hell, the Rocketeers might not even show up - If they know about the Hero presence on the train and are smart, they would probably just let it go. Then Travis would have to sit in silence for who knows how-

"You two ever play a game called Twenty-One? You might know it as Blackjack."

Thank god, that would at least make things move by quicker. This lady was probably cooler than he gave her credit at first. She retrieved a deck of cards from her bag and pulled a small table out the side of the car (weird, the car that Travis was in earlier didn't have any tables). She then began to shuffle the cards with ridiculous deftness, explaining the rules to the game as she did so. Travis kind of blanked out as she talked, focusing on her cool tricks instead - she was either a master at sleight of hand, or her power let her mess with cards.

Travis wasn't really sure how someone with card tricks could fight crime, but this lady seemed pretty cool, so no sense in being a dick about it. Hell, his friend Bomber kept talking about some chick that fought crimes without powers and posted videos of it online, so she could always just be a badass or something.

Travis leaned closer to the table, thankful to have something to distract himself with.

"Oh I'm happy to join in, I do get bored easy! We're not putting cash up though, right? I'm pretty trash at card games."

It was true - Kat and Bomber kicked his ass every time they played cards, though the latter did it mostly by counting cards. Noticing Marcie in his peripheral vision, Travis realized that he never really responded to her introduction.

"Oh Marcie, I forgot to give you my name - sorry about that. I'm Travis."

Leaning back to the table, Travis spoke to both Pandora and Marcie.

"You guys do anything cool lately? My friend Scales took me to Castleburg Aquarium yesterday and we saw some weird-ass fish."

Travis loved pointless nothing questions like that - it padded out conversations when he had no idea what to really talk about. Throw a couple of those out, and eventually, someone either gives up and humors him, or snaps at him to shut the hell up. Or in this case, a band of jetpack pirates interrupts their blackjack game.

Anything was fine by him, honestly. Travis hated the silence more than anything else.


'God this sucks.' Travis thought to himself. 'I thought there was supposed to be explosions and badass fights, not waiting on a stupid train for an hour...'

That was a bit of an overstatement - Travis, like the other members of the mission, had only been on the N-train for about 10 minutes. It's just that, unlike them, Travis had no patience whatsoever. Usually, when he rode one of the E-trains, Travis would talk with one of his friends or listen to music on his phone or something. But since this was a cargo train and he had to wear this stupid earpiece, both of those options were out.

...Well, Travis probably could listen to music since he wasn't on a public transit train. Most people only really use earbuds to avoid annoying other people.

Instead of thinking that though, Travis chose to pace around his car, occasionally lounging on the cushions and chairs. Usually, in those old action movies, the bad guys struck immediately - what was taking so much damn time!? Were the Rocketeers stuck in traffic or something? They have freaking jetpacks!

Travis stood up from his chair, leaning against the wall to look out one of the windows. The East Flank stared back at him - homes, restaurants, laundromats, and all other kinds of buildings flew past at speeds that made it near impossible to recognize any singular structure. If the pirates crashed the train or Travis fell out somehow, even with his durability he'd probably end up as paste on the pavement below.

Travis dropped the line of thought - too morbid. He wasn't going to get knocked out of the train, he was going to kick a bunch of ass. No point in thinking about what ifs, right? Instead, Travis began focusing on his reflection in the glass. A young man in black cargo pants, a white hoodie, with a crappy plastic mask around his neck looked back. There was a cut on his neck from his shave this morning, though Travis hoped that the wooden sword hanging from his belt loop would distract anyone from noticing. He really needed to work on his costume - he'd already been in HERO for a week, and he was wearing stuff he dragged out of his closet. Who knew getting a costume that wouldn't get wrecked up every fight for the few dozen dollars he'd saved up would be so difficult...

Hopefully, this mission would pay out some big bucks. The thought of asking if the food on the train was covered by HERO crossed Travis's mind, but before he could think of who he could even ask, a loud static sound pierced his ear. A second or two later, the Assistant Director's ('You think he'd mind if I called him Ray?') voice rang out through the earpiece, telling the Heroes to watch over their actual objective instead of sitting wherever.

Travis smirked slightly - Finally! Something to do! He quickly got to his feet and began walking towards the back of the train. He had initially chosen a car near the front, thinking that the Rocketeers might attack the rails in order to stop or derail the train. As he walked through, he was starting to think that was pretty dumb - while they destroyed the M-Train, gold was a lot less explosive than Weapon-Grade Thorium. If they tried to derail the train or force a stop, they would risk it getting damaged or blowing up... Probably.

Travis wasn't really sure what 'Thorium' was exactly, but 'Weapon-Grade' made it sound like something that was dangerous to drop.

Finding the final door, Travis was pleased to see that most of the other Heroes assigned to the mission had already shown up. He wasn't sure which ones were assholes yet so he was kind of nervous about making first impressions, but it was probably a lot less boring than hanging around an empty train car. Travis pulled out his HERO ID card and unlocked the door, walking inside just as an absolutely massive man blew a huge cloud of smoke from his vape in Travis's direction.

Travis immediately walked out, coughing into his hand violently.

'Why is his vape pen so huge!? ...And why'd he go with Strawberry?'

Travis had never done well around smokers. Second-hand smoke seemed to irritate his throat and lungs especially quickly thanks to his power, and while the man had never been an asthmatic, he found himself struggling to breathe whenever he was in a room with someone smoking. Thankfully, he didn't need to deal with it too much - his father's drug of choice was injected rather than smoked, and the only one of Travis's friends that vaped, Bomber, did so far from Travis whenever they hung out.

Even though it pissed Travis off a little that he just embarrassed himself in front of the other heroes, he decided to shrug it off. After all, they were kinda doing something important right now - it made sense to try and relieve some stress. Hell, he didn't even see Travis walk in, so he didn't do it maliciously. No reason to hold a grudge over that when they're on a mission...

At least, until that big guy does it on purpose. Then he'd definitely be filed under Asshole.

Deciding that there were probably enough people keeping watch over the safe, Travis chose to walk a few cars down. The Rocketeers wouldn't go straight at the Thorium, most likely targetting one of the other cars in order to minimize the chances of damaging it... Then again, Travis didn't really consider that the safe that contained the material was probably designed to take as much damage as possible without harming the fuel inside. He was mostly just looking for an excuse to wait somewhere else till the action happened.

Thankfully, Travis's breathing was already getting back to normal. If he was lucky, the pirates would only have rockets, and not tear gas. When he decided to stop, Travis found himself in a car alongside one of the other heroes he saw at the station - an attractive woman in trousers and a red dress shirt, with hair tied up in a bun. She looked more like someone about to go to work or some dinner party than fight a group of flying pirates.

Travis was just happy to have someone to talk to, oblivious to the fact that the woman had her eyes closed when he walked in and probably wanted nothing to do with him.

"Do you know how long these things usually take to start? I've only done the 'get cats out of trees and clean up Ambleweeds' kind of missions."


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