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August 8th, 10:38 AM
Hub City; The Wedge


”Hnn~!” Karen Hernandez focused on the spark of arcane energy at her fingertip, willing it to orbit her in her mind. Having already drawn sufficient power from the rich laylines of Hub City, all she needed to do now was command this simple spell she had already conjured. With pursed lips, she watched as it began to drift into the air before falling into an only slightly wobbly orbit around her head. Good, now she just needed it to remain as such while she wasn’t so deeply concentrated on it.

The whole point of this spell, after all, was to provide a light source in dark places as you went about your business. If she couldn’t keep it active while doing other things, then it was pretty much useless. She had been practicing for hours each day with this and the various other spells Mr. Luneburg had given her since their meeting eleven days ago. She couldn’t claim to be particularly good with any of them yet, but she was definitely making some progress!

Relaxing slightly, she exhaled. The small orb of light - now looking much more solid than her earliest attempts - continued to circle about her head.

After what happened with Timothy McClellan and his parents, she had resolved to become better. To become more worthy of the power she had been given. Her first step in this had been visiting Lundgrau’s corporate headquarters and learning magic from the one person she felt might be willing to teach her. If she had been a skilled magician, then surely she could’ve saved Tim and his parents that day. While it was too late to change that, she could at least ensure it never happened to anyone else.

And maybe, just maybe find a way to restore him.

The second thing she had done - one of the most difficult things in her entire life - was tell Zoey the truth about her age. That...had certainly been a memorable experience to say the least. It certainly made it a lot easier to drown herself in her magical studies, which was precisely what she had been doing.

Heh, drown...

She had plans today, too. Being the Wizard came with more responsibilities than she just beating up monsters and Nazis, as Samantha had pointed out to her numerous times. She stood at the highest point in the arcane world, and would need to acquaint herself with the other major players within it. Mr. Luneburg was a good start. Now she would contact King Orin of Atlantis.

Crazy, right?! Atlantis was real, and it was ruled by a total hunk. One that she would need to try and avoid making herself look like a moron in front of. She had tried to act mature as Lady Arcana in the past, but it had never been a perfect guise. She needed to do better here. This was diplomacy, after all!

Smiling slightly when she noted that her little spark hadn’t faded yet, Karen consciously commanded it to dissipate as she snatched a small seashell from her bedside drawer. Turning to her window, she stepped up onto the seal and leaped out into the alley. Landing with a roll this time, she quickly ran towards the back before speaking her word.

”SHAZAM!”

Like always, at her command a bolt of lightning descended from the heavens above. Before the smoke could even clear from the area, Lady Arcana had ascended high into the skies above Hub City, flipping open the seashell. It….wasn’t too different from her cellphone, in truth. No, that wasn’t actually true. It was much more sophisticated than her regular one or her burner.

Hitting the only contact listed, the Wizardess waited quietly as it...rang? Patched her through? Whatever it was doing.




King Orin sat upon his coral-like throne in the citadel of Poseidonis, going through reports from the surface world. His agents had been gathering anything related to his appearance during the battle he had taken part in, and his advisors had been arguing for near two weeks about what to do next. Hide or go up there, military presence or diplomacy, make demands or come in friendship. Truth be told, Orin barely listened to it anymore. He had already decided what his course of action would be, when he chose to reveal Atlantis. Now it was just a matter of finding the right time…

Orin’s comm shell suddenly began to chirp at him, and he breathed a sigh of relief that he was just going over reports, and not in the midst of a meeting. He pulled the seashell-like device from his belt and opened it, noting that the connection seemed strong and stable, even at these more advanced distances. Good, he’d have to let the researchers know their magic was interfacing well with the technology.

Lady Arcana’s face appeared on the screen, it seemed as though she was flying. Not that Orin could fault her for that, if he could fly he’d be doing it practically all the time. He could swim though, and that was a nice perk. Like flying, but underwater. Anyway. Orin smiled and nodded to the image on the screen. ”Lady Arcana! I had hoped to hear from you soon. What do I owe the pleasure of the call to?”




”Ah, hello King Orin!” Lady Arcana responded with a warm smile and a courteous bow, wanting to be respectful in the face of royalty. ”I recall that you mentioned wanting to meet again at some point in the future. I’ve been….well, pretty busy this past month, but I just wanted you to know that I’m available now at your earliest convenience.”

Hah, nice! She sounded just like an adult there. Sophisticated as fuck, bitch!




King Orin nodded, recalling some of the reports he had gotten of the… Altercation Lady Arcana had in her city. ”I understand, Lady Arcana. The… Trials of being the Wizard must put a strain on your social life.” He smiled as he tapped the screen to get a location for the call. Somewhere above Hub City, it seemed. ”I had wanted to explain to you Atlantis’s position, as well as our magical properties and our people, as well as… Perhaps ask you advice on some things. Would you care for a personal tour of the city under the sea?”




Wow, he was actually offering her a tour of Atlantis? That...sounded pretty freakin’ awesome!

”Erm, of course, King Orin. I would love a tour of your...esteemed city,” she replied, still striving to maintain an air of maturity and grace. Maybe she should just slow her perception so she could think up the best possible lines to really impress this guy? Wait, how did she do that again? It usually just automatically did it when she moved quickly. Shiiiit, there wasn’t really any time to figure it out right now! ”Where should I meet your most uh….aquatic kingliness?”




At the initial confirmation of interest, Orin had pulled up a map on the device, unfortunately confirming that the city Arcana defended was in the middle of a landmass. He chuckled to himself as he registered the attempts at decorum from the mage, and shook his head.

”Well unfortunately I cannot send a submarine to your exact location. However, I could send you the location of Posiedonis and you could fly here yourself, or I could send transport to practically anywhere connected to the ocean. It would likely be faster for you to fly here yourself though. I assume you have ways to breath underwater?” Orin asked, thinking of the ocean depths between the surface and the city’s protective dome.




”Oh, uh…yes. I do not require breath to air. Err...I....mean…” Lady Arcana shook her head, suppressing a groan of frustration at herself. It seemed the hard she tried, the worse she did.”...I’ll manage, don’t worry. Please send me the location.”

She had only gone beneath the waves a few times since gaining her powers, but she knew her flight worked pretty well there. She couldn’t as fast as she could in the sky, naturally, but she was certainly still faster than any ship or submarine would be.




Aquaman stood in the center of the city, staring up at the expansive ocean above. As the comm shell on his belt beeped a proximity alert, he nodded to the workers nearby, who began working the mechanisms to open the access port in the top of the dome. Water cascaded down the sides of the city-encompassing dome, filtering through drainage pipes as it was sent back into the seas. A moment later a purple flash of color signaled Lady Arcana’s arrival, and King Orin stepped forward with a wide smile and open arms as she touched down. He turned and held a hand out, showing off the tall, coral-like structures of the city and its gleaming marble streets. He nodded to his visitor as a small crowd of gathered onlookers cheered.

”Welcome Lady Arcana, the new Wizard, to Posiedonis! The gleaming capital city of Atlantis and the oldest living civilization on earth! Welcome to my home.”

Karen hadn’t been expecting a crowd to be waiting for her. She had honestly thought this would be a fairly low key affair, but apparently their meeting was some kind of really big deal down here. The journey hadn’t taken long, at least, once she’d received the signal. It had definitely been the deepest underwater she’d ever gone, though, and holy sauceballs was this place amazing!

The streets reminded her of the Rock of Eternity in how they shimmered against the light, smooth and without flaw. The buildings - looking weirdly organic in a way - were far different than anything she’d ever seen before. And the people? Well they looked mostly human...but with a hint that something about them was different, kind of like with Orin.

”T-thank you, your Majesty. It’s an honor to be here,” she smiled, offering him the best curtsey she could manage. Everyone seemed to happy that they were meeting that it was impossible for her not to wave to them. ”Your city is really coo-err, beautiful.”

Orin chuckled and bowed his head as he waved slightly to the gathered citizens. ”Don’t mind them, we… Don’t get very many visitors down here as you can imagine, and certainly none as important as yourself.” He turned away from the crowd and instructed the workers to close the port before turning back to Lady Arcana. ”And I agree, the city is very cool.” He said with a knowing wink.

”Though I had little to do with its construction. I’ve mainly been overseeing some rebuilding from the recent attacks and going over what additional projects we could take on now that magic has returned. Atlantis is, after all, a massive hub of laylines and magical energy.” Orin said proudly, bringing up the shell again and activating a projected map of layline hubs intersecting throughout the city and the territory beyond. A map that he himself had laid out as a young prince, in the precious free time away from his responsibilities.

Lady Arcana leaned over slightly to stare at the map, her eyes lighting up in amazement at just how many laylines intersected through this place. In truth, she could feel the magic coursing through the city before she event entered the dome proper. It was second only to the Rock of Eternity itself when it came to the abundance of arcane power she was feeling. ”Wow, you’ve got to have enough power flowing through here to cast nearly any spell!”

She was quite thankful that she had gone to Mr. Luneburg before visiting this place. At least now she could talk magic a little. She knew the basics of channeling, and how magic was formed into spells, so she hopefully wouldn’t come across like a total retard.

”With all these laylines, it’s no wonder you guys know a ton about magic. Even before I became the Wizard, there must’ve been enough magic here to pull off some interesting tricks, she noted. It was really crazy, in truth. On the surface, she’d heard that mages had to really strangle the laylines to get their spells to work prior to her inheriting the Rock, and even then the effects were relatively small.

Orin nodded as he examined the map with Lady Arcana. Though he knew each line and intersection by heart, he still loved to see the interactions. ”These laylines and the incredibly magical energy here are what gave our ancestors an advantage over any other civilization thousands of years ago. Actually, we had our own Wizard once as well, I think he was the just before the last one if our histories are right. Of course, we could also see the waxing and waning of the laylines with the comings and goings of the Wizards as well, and so our ancestors also turned to technology as a backup. That’s really all that saved us after the meteor hit, the dome above us kept the water out without the need of magic, until we could develop spells to help us adapt. And of course, with the dried up laylines until your appointment, we’ve had to rely on technological means to stay safe. Though we have been experimenting some with magitech, though nothing so heinous as we saw in the desert.” Orin said darkly, remembering the devastation of that night.

”Of course, I didn’t invite you here simply to discuss history, there’s a whole city and the reefs beyond to see; everything from the palace to the sanctuary, the seed and animal vaults, and I would like to show you our magical artifacts as well; such as the tridents I carried with me when we first met. Where to first?” Orin asked with a friendly smile, gesturing to the city again.

Lady Arcana looked a little overwhelmed, in truth. He was basically offering to show her an entire city, and all of it sounded really amazing! Still, if there was one thing about her that was true whether it was on the surface or beneath the ocean, it was that she absolutely loved animals! ”I guess the seed and animal vaults!”



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some time later, the Atlantean prince concluded their tour in the vaults. The pair had first gone through the seed vaults, a place to store and display rare and exotic undersea plants. The facility also help samples of every plant in the ocean, as well as living specimens of every type of coral as well, just in case some terrible epidemic rendered the seas incapable of supporting that life anymore. There were many incredible specimens in the vault, many of which had likely never been seen by any human outside of Atlantis until now.

Orin then took his guest to the animal vault, an expansive quarantined area of the ocean and city where rare and endangered animal were kept safe. Orin had taken special care with this project, as it seemed more and more these days that species such as the blue whales or bottlenose dolphin were disappearing rapidly. With any luck, Orin’s goal was to preserve a small selection of these majestic sea creatures and hopefully rebuild populations. All too soon though, the tour had ended, and Orin led Lady Arcana back inside the dome

”I appreciate you taking such interest in my domain and our culture, Lady Arcana.” Orin said with a smile. ”It is not often I get to share my work with others. I’m very proud of this city and of my people. However, I think it’s time we got down to business. I am not wholly unaware of the events happening on the surface. I’ve seen reports of what happened in your city. I want to offer my condolences. If there is anything I can do for you, any way I could help, please ask. As King of Atlantis, I want to make sure me and my people can support the Wizard in whatever way you need.”

It had, honestly, been a mindblowing experience. This city was far and away more advanced than anything in her wildest dreams. Magic and technology working in tandem to create a paradise for everyone here. Most notably, she didn’t see one homeless or poor person during their travels through the undersea utopia...it honestly made her just a little bit jealous that she couldn’t have been born in such a wondrous place.

When King Orin began to speak of what had occurred in Hub City, she wasn’t certain as to whether he meant the fire eight months ago or Iron Eagle’s second attack in July. Either way, she couldn’t help but smile when he promised to aid her. She had always heard that royalty was uptight and snobbish, but he actually seemed really humble and kind!

”I really would appreciate that, King Orin,” Lady Arcana replied. ”I honestly wish that things up above were as nice down here. There’s...well, so many problems, you know? People without homes, starvation...all I really know how to do right now is punch bad guys in the face. I’m trying to fix that, but any help would be welcome!”

Orin nodded slowly as he listened to Lady Arcana’s impressions of his city and her vision for the world. He thought for a moment, considering that this may be the time to bring up his own questions as well.

”Lady Arcana, I must say… You may have one of the kindest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.” He admitted, crossing his arms. ”I want to confide in you though, things down here… Well, they’re not a paradise, I don’t want you to have that impressions. We may not struggle with starvation or homelessness, but there is unrest. Most of my people are not warriors, and cannot fend for themselves out in the sea. Many feel trapped within the city here, even as advanced as it is. You wish to help the world, to make it a better place, and that is what I want for my people as well. I have a question for you of my own, one my advisors have been debating for months. However, I would trust your judgement over any of them.”

“I have been considering Atlantis’s place in the world. We have been hidden for thousands of years, nothing more than a half-remembered myth. For my whole life I have seen my people crammed into this small space, felt the waves of unrest here. I have seen the seas become polluted, witnessed giants pods and school reduced to only a few. I have built the animal vaults with my own hands to combat this, but… Could I do more if I revealed us to the surface? Could I help my people by exposing our existence? Could I help your people? Grow food and set up deep sea farms to produce cheap food? Share technology to improve quality of life? Help to bring about the regrowth of endangered animals, reduce pollution, stop the senseless hunting of whales and sharks? Or would I simply be putting my people in danger?”

“I know the sea, Lady Arcana. I know what I could offer your people. You know the surface. You know the dangers your governments could bring to bear. My question is this: Is it worth the risk? Do I expose my people in an effort to save both of ours? Or is it a fool’s errand?”

Lady Arcana stood silent, desperately trying to hide the fact that he was asking her a lot of really deep and important-sounding questions that she honestly didn’t have a single-effin’-clue how to answer. She was trying so hard to be better at her job, but this had reminded her of how she was still just a stupid kid. Should he share his technology? Should he trust the surface? Sure, feeding everyone sounded like a good idea, but at the same time she really didn’t like the idea of any of the surface government's getting their hands on this kind of technology.

Technology infused with magic!

”I…” Her voice trailed off, searching for the right words. Words that wouldn’t make her sound like the in-over-her-head brat that she was. ”I think maybe people wouldn’t be so scared if you offered them a lot of food? But maybe not technology? B-because a lot of them…most of them aren’t really ran by great people, and might do really bad things with it, you know?”

…That was the best “advice” she could offer him, and it still made her feel like a complete idiot. Damn it, pull it together Karen!.

King Orin fell silent for a moment, contemplating the advice Lady Arcana offered. It was simple enough, of course, and somewhat what he’d expected from her to be honest. But still, he had needed to hear it from her, and now he had options to consider. ”If you believe it would be safe for me to reveal Atlantis to the surface… The rest of the details can be worked out. Sanctions and embargos on technology, keeping anything dangerous of the hands of those who would abuse it; while offering aid and space to grow crops to help feed the starving and poor. And of course, cleaning up the seas and stopping illegal hunting.”

“As for your own problems, I can offer advice, aid in whatever matters you confide with me. Time with our mages, my artifacts, they layline network. You are an honored guest of Atlantis, and are welcome here whenever you please. I would just ask that you give me a call before showing up so I can cancel my meetings.”
Orin said with a wry smile.

Lady Arcana’s shoulders relaxed, a gentle sigh escaping her as he accepted her rather simplistic advice. When he began to speak of his plans for interacting with the surface, she simply nodded her head in silence. Good for you, King Orin. He almost certainly knew how to handle this way better than she could ever hope to. At least, not without a few years of study.

And then she perked up slightly at his offer to allow her to study magic here. ”Really?! I-yes! Thank you! That would mean a ton to me if you would! I would never pass up the chance to learn more about magic in an amazing place like this!”

Okay, so this trip turned out to be a really great idea after all! She was glad she went through with it, even if she was a little out of her depth.

Heh.


4:30 PM, July 7th
Podeidonis, Atlantis




King Orin sat his throne in the domed city of Poseidonis, only half-listening to his gathered advisors in front of him. Vague reports of gatherings of sharks in the Pacific, an unexpected number of bigfin squid hatching, a change in the recordings of whale songs. All thought to be connected to the return of magic to the world ins one way or another. Each advisor wanted his help personally in the matter, now that the jellyfish invasion had been handled. Truth be told, Orin found the whole process tedious. All of these things could be explained away naturally, and even if they were magic-related none were a problem yet. There was one thing he wanted to do, but he'd need a reason for going to the surface first...

"My liege!" Cried an aide as he ran into the room, carrying a report. The gathered cadre of advisors shot the servant a nasty look, but King Orin waved them off, the information the aide carried seemed important.

"Come closer, tell me what you have." Orin said, waving off the advisors for now.

To his credit, the aide showed no apprehension. Though Orin considered himself a benevolent ruler, he had also proven his worth as a fierce warrior recently, and many still showed nervousness on interacting with the King. "The scouts have seen war on the surface world." The aide said, approaching the throne. "An area they call the Middle East, near the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf." The aide tapped on the tablet he carried and a holographic map sprang into existence, showing the area's topographical details. "Normally we would dismiss this as a surface issue, but... We've detected magic. Technology fused with arcane arts, as we've been experimenting with. And we've seen several individuals arrive on site to help stop the fighting, powerful beings with strange abilities. The Wizard's successor is among them."

Orin's eyebrow lifted at the last sentence. There was his reason for going to the surface. Since magic had returned he had been meaning to go introduce himself to the successor, but the siege on Atlantis had kept him busy until now. He stood, waving a hand to dismiss the advisors, who grumbled at being interrupted as they filed out. Orin turned to another aide nearby and began to set out his instructions. "Send in my suit, I'll be taking care of this myself. I need a pair of bonded comm shells as well." He said, referring to a device they had had some success pairing with magic recently.

"My lord," muttered Trosa, the old mage who served as Orin's chief advisor. "Let me gather you guard, you will require your retinue--"

"No guards. I mean it, Trosa." King Orin said to stop the fire in the old mans eyes. "This is no invasion force, no battle, no formal function. This is a meeting between, hopefully, equals. And an offer of help, is it is needed. I'm going alone." Orin turned to the aide who had delivered the news, nodding his head in thanks. "I need you to get me Poseidon. Go to the armory, Present the guards with this seal." He said, taking the aide's tablet and using his override to imprint it with his personal seal. "Then bring back Poseidon's Trident to me. You've done well. Consider this a promotion."

Only a few moments later, King Orin's requests had been fulfilled. Having shed his royal robes he was now garbed in the bronze scale-mail of the royal warriors, and the green gloves and swim tights that went with. He tightened his grip on the comforting staff of the Trident of Poseidon as he stepped into the transport bay. The columns here would propel him out of the city at a high velocity, giving him a boost to his natural speed and swimming ability as he made his way towards the center of the action.

-----------------------------


Only a short time later, Orin had snaked his way through the Suez Canal and around to the Persian Gulf, and launched himself out of the sea at incredible speeds, landing several hundred feet inland. He knew he was not far from the action thanks to his brief study of the map, as well as one of the other devices he'd taken to detect magical activity. He centered himself for a moment before taking off running, faster than any of the land-based vehicles the surface humans had available. Soon enough he would find the Wizards successor, and his goal.


@Ceta de Cloyes
@Crazytazer





July 7th , 2020
6:00 PM, PT
Gold Coast Estates, Coast City




&



&

Judas :)

-_-_-_-





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Jessie paced around the large living room of her new estate in frustration. Everything had been going so well since they had rescued Vox from the DEO. Their ATM operation had hit a slight snag once the banks and cops had caught on to the fact that so much money was going missing, but between Jessie and Vox talking to servers and banking systems, they had managed to rework and fine tune their operation, simply siphoning money from the banks themselves, through dummy account after dummy account, laundering and buying and selling until the transactions became practically untraceable, and suddenly the trio had more money than they knew what do with. Jessie Beedle was back in the lap of luxury, and she had made sure her parents were taken care of too, by buying them their own house not far from the Estates. They were curious of course, where all this had come from, but after Jessie and Ezra's assurance that nobody was getting hurt, they had accepted the gift.

The estate itself was specifically chosen, not just for its many amenities like the pools, views, modern design, and the custom server room the trio had installed, but also for the history behind the area. Gold Coast was a short stretch of land in the Coast City suburbs, one which owed its name to the gold rush era. Prospectors and mining companies had come out here and had a fair bit of success. Since then, most of the entrances to the old mines had been closed off, but during their research Ezra had found a partially-sealed access point on this property. That had sealed the deal for them, as they figured they could use the mines as a base for more secret projects if they could open up the access points and widen some areas out underground.

But now... Jessie was bored. It had been weeks since they had gone out to hit an ATM, a section of their servers was dedicated to making them money at this point. Their research and projects provided some distraction, but there was only so much time one could focus on wires and alien technology before you started to see it even when you closed your eyes. The house was great, but Jessie was feeling... Cooped up. Especially after that museum break-in last month from the skeleton-faced dude. That call-out to the 'supervillains' of the world had felt like a smack in the face to her, that was what she wanted to be doing! Making grand shows of power, earning riches and making a name for herself! She was a superhuman after all, it was practically her right! And yet here she stood, hiding in a mansion while she researched some admittedly intriguing stuff, but missing out on the real adventure out there.

Jessie knew she needed something more in her life. She had to convince Ezra that there was more out there, that it was safe enough to show off a little. Vox too, though she was pretty sure the AI wouldn't take much convincing to see more of the world with her own optical sensors. They just needed something to do! Something like... Jessie stopped, her attention turning to the TV screen as she paced past it, watching the news report. They needed something like a high-tech war in the Middle East. To go steal some of that technology, that crazy-ass stuff showing up in the found-footage airing now. Jessie lifted her wrist to her mouth, speaking into the device strapped there to activate the Ghol communication technology. "Uuuh... Hey guys?" She said, confident that they would hear her, as the range on these comms watches was pretty far and Vox was almost always listening. "There's a... Thing happening on the other side of the planet that I really want to check out right now. Can we convene and come up with a plan maybe?"

---------------------------------


A few minutes later, Jessie was showing Ezra and the virtual avatar of Vox a recording of some of the more impressive footage coming out the Arab Federation. Tanks and jets moving at impossible speeds, guns firing faster than anything she had ever seen before, armored solders taking blows that should have been lethal... "I want that shit. I want a lot of that shit." She explained forcefully, her eyes fixated on the screen in front of the group. "And all of that is going to get confiscated by someone as soon as this conflict dies down and nobody will ever see it again. If we want any of that, we have to go get it ourselves. Think of the advancements that are there, the kinds of things we could make out of that if even given half a chance! Think of how much fun it'll be to go steal it!" Jessie finally tore her eyes off the screen and turned to look at the other two, flashing an excited smile at them and awaiting their responses.

Ezra had to admit he'd had his doubts the moment Jessie had called him, he'd long learned this side of the world was the most advanced, but the footage... it reminded him of Ectonian soldiers in his final days on Ghol. The Infinitized were weapons of mass destruction all on their own, added to their proclivity to become crazed or warped by their powers, it had sometimes taken everything Ghol could scrape together to tame a newly desolated landscape. This was definitely not Ghol tech, but the speed, agility, durability, they may just about reach his standards for 'useful.'

But where had it come from? He would likely know more if he ever bothered to surface from the labs, but since he couldn't seem to take two steps without some new idea needing writing down or some new gadget needing attention... Anyway, Jess was right, tech like that wouldn't last on a world like this, moreover it would probably end up destroying a world like this- just what he needed, another apocalypse. Well this time he wasn't taking any chances.

Ezra's eyes narrowed, some uncharacteristic steel appearing in his gaze. "I'm in, how do we do it?"

Judas had been occupying herself by keeping a tally on the money moving about, not to mention watching various documentaries on the side to abate inactivity and digest more interesting information. The call from Jessie was a welcome thing as she always seemed to be up to something exciting or at least tried to be which was refreshing in between her 'studying' both her friends had insisted on. Her avatar's expression was one of wonder as she watched the recording noting the impressive capability of the vehicles, weaponry, and armor present on screen. It was a hard argument to make for not wanting to experiment on the technology on display of which there was no need in her case because she very much wanted to as well.

It was strange to see technology like it out in the open which made the AI question how did it work? A better question however was whether or not she could gain access to them herself for ease of use, advanced computer setups were quite common in military vehicles of importance, but these were quite different from the average which only made the prospect more enticing.

"We would need to transport us three within acceptable speed and comfort parameters. I do not think we could manage this on our own yet...I would like to experience flying on a plane as it seems likely for our needs." Vox said quickly addressing the initial problem of transportation and maybe a bit of wishful thinking. "I should begin transfer to the new core for ease of movement correct? We should be able to find suitable transport within a decent radius though I do not know how we are to go about this."

Jessie grinned to herself, glad that her friends had agreed to help so quickly, though she was slightly surprised at the eagerness Ezra showed the project. "I think it'd be a good idea to start transporting to the new core, good idea Vox." She said, musing over their options. The Arab Federation was a long way away, and civilian flights to the area would likely be shut down. Jessie switched the TV off quickly and opened her laptop, switching to a saved tab and connecting to the overhead projector she had insisted they install. The light flashed on and projected an image of her screen onto the far wall, showing the public webpage of the Coast City Air Force Base.

"That's our ticket." Jessie said, pointing to a promotional photo of a new stealth jet the base had recently received. "It's the quickest way there, and between me and Vox, I think we can break into their databases and basically have it waiting for us. We just have to sneak in and take it. We can figure out how to fly a jet, and landing should be pretty simple too. The only thing will be space... The jet has a small cargo area, usually used for bombs, but it means we won't be able to grab a whole tank. Unless anyone else has some transportation options?"

Ezra didn't really see the need to rush, but it was likely to be one of the few options open to them- that, and taking a military grade jet for themselves would be useful, not to mention the hardware he could... Right, focus. "No, that sounds as about as good as it gets. I finished the gun rays, not quite done with the canon though. Should we take them? We can finally see how well they stand up to Human technologies."

The gun rays were spawned by Jessie's offhand mention of wanting a big lazer gun, and given the ease with which such technologies came to Ghol - energy weapons were their default weapon of choice after all - Ezra had set about building a big ass ecto-cannon, though the smaller hand held versions were much quicker to complete. Perhaps they could mount the canon on their new jet when it was finished.



Although, given that both himself and Jessie had their own energy based attacks the weapons were more... back up, or maybe cover ups, if they didn't want to reveal all of their full powers. Still, it'd been fun to make them anyway.

At confirmation Vox went about moving herself over to the new core her friends had been building for her, partially for her and for convenience in moving her around as her older core was quite large. This core was far more portable being similar in size to a small briefcase and styled to look like one while maintaining a wire or wifi hookup for getting her into a target system. It also had one other trick being able to convert into a recon drone able to stay in the air for a fair amount of time with one main camera and two secondary ones to maintain maximum sight arcs in the area. The AI was rather fond of it as it gave her physical mobility she was unused to unless she was piloting one of the various devices in the laboratory which while fun didn't quite compare to the drone.

Judas settled into the drone which had been charging in a different part of the lab and got the motors running before flying her way back over to Jessie and Ezra setting down on the nearest available space. In the meantime she had been keeping an eye/ear on where they were going to be getting the transport from exactly to which she was not disappointing when the images for a stealth jet flicked by. It was going to be effective for they're purposes as well as useful afterwards as she assumed they weren't going to bring it back to the base.

"This seems valid given our timeframe and needs, it is also a jet so it is cool." The AI said happily in the mood to vex the humans in charge of the aircraft. "I will look for relevant information for flying while we set up the acquisition of it, having a Plan B for piloting seems wise."

"Sounds good to me." Jessie said with a wicked grin. "I already have some details set up, so if we can get the ball rolling, we should be able to bug outta here soon!"

8:36 PM, July 7th
Gotham Central Bank, Gotham City




The evening sun disappeared behind the tall buildings of Gotham, casting the city into the comforting darkness it belonged to. Anarkee emerged from her hiding spot, counting on the strange, self-reflective period of transition between light and dark to conceal her as she slipped into the main lobby of Gotham Central Bank. The elites of the city hid their hard-earned green here, squirreling it away from the normal folk of the streets. Of course, those slips of green meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, this was all just a monument to apes, playing at something larger.

"E-excuse me miss?" A male voice called to her as her eyes adjusted to the new light. A pair of security guards, just as she'd thought; likely hired to weed out the simple sheep that wandered in to the grand halls of this temple to greed. They'd recognized her, of course. Anarkee was an urban legend of the city much the same way as her counterpart Grim was. The older of the two guards was shaking in his boots, he'd be no trouble at all. The younger one though... Mid twenties perhaps, unassuming in most respects, but he seemed unshaken by her presence. Either incredibly brave, or extremely foolhardy.

"Hello gentlemen." The woman said smoothly, her fingers on either hand twitching slightly as the micromovements began to set up the concentrated aerosol sprays of her toxins. "I don't suppose either of you could help me in setting up an account here?"

"Of course ma'am." The younger guard said, stepping forward and narrowing his eyes. "You'll just need to give me your name while we give a few people some phone calls." Fearless, as she'd suspected. But not foolish, he was fishing for information and trying to buy time. Anarkee had spent a long time cultivating the idea that she was mentally unstable, some kind of crazy person. If she truly were, this approach might have worked. He was smart. He could be useful. She twitched the fingers on her left hand again, clearing the prepared concoction and setting up a new one. He would be useful. For now.

"Of course, of course my good man!" She said with a wide grin, stepping forward and opening her arms. The older one stepped back, hand going to his belt, but the younger one waved him off. Probably thought he could talk her down. "First thing's first though: I feel a little outnumbered here." The pair tensed, likely getting ready to pounce. "Let me even the odds a bit."

Anarkee lunged forward, her left hand thrust out to grasp at the younger guard's face. A flick of the wrist triggered her toxin, a sharp hiss and a small cloud of particles the only clue that something was amiss. The younger guard coughed violently and staggered back as Anarkee shoved past him and leaped for the older guard, who barely had time to cry out before she was upon him, her right hand delivering its own custom payload. His was simple, little more than a basic Fear dose. He'd be cowering on the floor for hours, unable to do anything but jump at his own shadow. The younger one had gotten a more complicated dose. A base level of Lust, giving him a desire for her and to do as she asked; tempered with a touch of Apathy, so he wouldn't be too tempted to simply act on his basest desires and take what he wanted. Anarkee stood up and dusted herself off, turning to her guard as he began to pick himself up off the floor.

"Right darling, now follow me and shut up. Anyone tries to stop me, and you deal with them, understand?" A pair of puppy dog eyes and an eager nod confirmed her control over the poor boy, and the pair walked into the bank proper. A few nearby patrons turned to look at their arrival, giving a few double-takes and some worried whispering. Reaching into her coat, Anarkee pulled out a pair of Apathy bombs, tossing one into the small crowd and the other by the tellers windows. The glass may be bulletproof over there, but it couldn't filter out her toxins. A few cut off cries of panic and some dropped phone later, and the whole place took on a listless, zombie-like vibe.

Admiring her work, Anarkee smiled and turned to her new toy. "Right lovely, now why don't you open up the vault for me, and then empty out all the cash drawers and bring them to the vault. After that, gather everybody up in the lobby here, including your crying friend back at the entrance. Then you can come back and meet me in the vault." She said soothingly, reaching out and running the flat of one of her bladed fingers down his cheek. The guard nodded and set off, soon pulling one of the tellers out from behind her desk and taking a set of keys from her, and motioning for Anarkee to follow. A short jaunt down a well-secured hallway later, and Anarkee found herself face-to-face with the largest money-pile she had ever seen. Given the volume and clientele of this particular bank, it seemed to carry more money by orders of magnitude than most other banks would. She picked up a bundle of hundred dollar bills, and stepped closer to her unwitting helper, slipping it into his belt. "Let's call that a little bonus between us, for such a good job." She said with a wink before shooing him along to complete the rest of his tasks.

The purple-suited woman spent the next few minutes picking out a few appropriate bundles of green, swapping some in and out of their little paper bands so the numbers were no longer sequential, and making sure she avoided any dye packs. Money may simply be a social construct, but her contacts within the criminal underworld did like it ever so much, and it was a useful tool for getting things done. Then she reached deep into the recesses of her coat and removed another few toxin bombs. She had taken the liberty of preparing extra Greed grenades for this trip, and she nestled them on top of the pile lovingly. The she removed a bottle of lighter fluid from its hiding place near her bombs and began to douse the stack of money. She had a lighter ready too, but needed a few more moments to finish her work.

When her toy guard came back from his tasks, Anarkee waltzed back out to the lobby, pleased to find everyone lined up on their knees. That would make the next part of her plan much easier. A quick count of the customers, tellers, and guards let her compose her message, and she nodded, setting to work as she flexed her razor-tipped fingers. A few moments after that, shaking blood off her hands and pleased with the effectiveness of her Apathy bombs, Anarkee dragged her consort back to the vault.

"Oh my darling, you've done such good work for me today." She cooed, watching as he blushed at her compliments. "I'd love to take you with me and let you in on all my little secrets, but alas... Our time runs short, and you're the last letter I need." She said, mock sadness filling her voice. "You're quite lucky, really. Were I any of the other crazed lunatics running through this city in a mask, I'd give you a big speech about how you're my 'Chosen One' here to 'Spread my word to the masses'. But I'm not crazy, dear. No no, though you're going to bear my mark, I know that's all it is. A mark. A symbol. And symbols only have the power you give them. I wonder what power you'll give me...?" The woman mused before reaching out with her clawed gloves again.

---------------------------


With her bloodied hands full of Greed grenades, and trailing a cloud of billowing smoke behind her, Anarkee stepped out of the hall and back into the lobby. She tossed the grenades and watched as the effects began to take hold. Life came back to her victims bloodied faces, their eyes squinting and filling with envy. They stared shiftily at each other, their newly deformed visages seemingly ignored for now.

"Attention, Gotham City parasites! All your lovely, lovely cash that you've spent your entire lives cultivating, is in the open vault behind me!" Anarkee cried, getting the attention of every shifty-eyed vulture in the room. As one they rose to their feet, each vying for a position where they could sprint past the others and get as much as their grubby little claws could grab. "Unfortunately, you'll have to be quick!" Anarkee continued, a grin on her face. "Because the pile is currently the source of that lovely smelling smoke behind me, and will smoulder to ashes in no time at all!" The crowd broke in a roar, the stamping of feet almost drowning out the cries of pain as some of them trampled the others underfoot like a nightmare of a Black Friday as the gathered worms rushed to the flaming pyre to excess in the vault. Anarkee sighed with contentment as she heard the cries and wails of pain and the crackling of flames behind her as she headed for a back exit, content now to simply melt away into the darkness.

A police report on the incident would show that those trampled were the lucky ones. They had mostly avoided the fire. The others had burned, though a few survived. Notably, a young security guard was mostly unharmed, though his story would be less than helpful, and doctors at the hospital would recommend him to a series of psychiatrists to help him through his difficulties. All told there were 20 victims. 12 dead, 4 badly burned, 3 trampled, and all survivors mentally broken. $1,600,000 was lost. And one cryptic and grizzly cypher left behind, carved into the faces of the victims.


March 8, 5:35 Pm PST
Sunspot Cafe, Coast City

@Crazytazer


Jessie headed back to her computer setup, waiting impatiently for another signal from inside the base as she got another ted be interesting. Jessie debated for just a moment before reaching into her backpack and pulling out a connector, plugging her goggles, still concealed in her backpack, into her computer. This way she wouldn't miss a signal while she checked out this new clue. Jessie focused on her phone, sending her mind out to trace back the signal from Ezras, just as she had done the day they had discovered each others secrets. It was easy to find, and she could feel a physical connection between his phone and what she assumed was the stolen one. That was good, she wouldn't have trace another wireless signal.

Getting into the DEO agent's phone was simple, all she had to do was tell the password block that it had received the correct password, and she was in. Cell phone security was only so advanced compared to the stuff that was likely in the lab systems. Made you wonder why they issued cell phones at all. A lot of it was to be expected, phone calls to and from what she assumed was the office, text conversations with coworkers, a chatting app that was likely unmonitored so they could gossip on company time, pretty standard stuff. There was, however, an app that appeared to be a custom DEO one. Jessie could see shift assignments, guard patrols, access points... A detailed map of the base! And an unused string, which appeared to be some kind of prototype keycard app. It wasn't finished, but Jessie thought as long as she could get her hands on one keycard, she could probably tie it to the phone, so they could open doors remotely.

Jessie snapped out of her connection and began typing at her phone screen, sending a new message to Ezra. "Good shit on there, got a map and all the shift changes. If we can get a keycard too, I might be able to rig up a way to open doors for us." Pressing send and nodding to herself, Jessie turned her attention to her computer to see if anything had come in.

Judas. Prototype core. Quarantine server near lab. Last message, discovery probability rising

Sitting straighter in her seat, Jessie reread the message from her mysterious source. Prototype core in a server? Was this Judas an AI? But it had seemed so real, so desperate... If it was an AI, it was beyond anything she had ever seen. That alone was worth looking into, even if Ezra hadn't had his own reasons for coming here. If they could get Judas out, convince it to work with them, the things they could achieve were almost beyond comprehension! Jessie needed that core, and began typing another message to Ezra.

"PRISONER UPDATE, IT'S AN AI I THINK. SUPER ADVANCED, I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS AI TILL IT OLD ME. WE NEEEEEED TO RESCUE IT, IT'S AMAZING"

March 13, 1:00 AM EST
Gotham City Stadium, Gotham City

@Blazion


The red dripped down the painted brick walls making up the outside of the stadium, illuminated only by the dull glow of the street lamps. With a few large brushstrokes encircling the uppercase A's, transforming them into anarchy symbols, the well-dressed white-faced woman stepped back, admiring her handiwork. She had half-expected to be interrupted by much more than the hapless security stooge lying in a pool of his own blood, but it seemed as though the security enforcement of the city had better things to do with their time than investigate reports of a strange woman painting with blood after her spray can ran out of paint. No matter. The message was clear, and would reach its intended target soon enough. As a final measure, Anarkee stepped back up to the body of the guard and shoved him a bit, planting a pressure-release fear/anger toxin bomb underneath his corpse. Mixing the concoctions produced a less strong effect than either a Terror or a Rage bomb, but the combination of the two was still interesting, and the blast would likely be large enough to affect anyone within twenty feet or so. Turning a garden spotlight to highlight her work, Anarkee stepped away, satisfied with her nights work, and the writing on the wall with a crude drawing Grim's wolf head symbol.

BEWARE the rise OF the GRAVES
March 8, 3:15 PM PST
Satomi Towers, Coast City

@Ceta de Cloyes


Jessie turned to Ezra as he plugged his phone into their computer bank and began to speak excitedly, she had learned over the past couple months to expect his sneaky entrances and had conditioned herself to not be startled by him. She stared at the computer screen he was using, watching in fascination as a map popped up with various pinpoints in major cities and smaller byways. Even one right here in the city, probably no more than an hour or two to walk, much less if they were flying. Jessie leaned closer, jabbing at the red dot over Coast City as she spoke. "So Benji came through, huh? That's what we need right there, practically an open invitation."

Jessie looked at Ezra curiously as he began to bumble his way through a half-formed plea for her help. It almost sounded as though he didn't think she'd actually go through with it, or that she'd back out and try to take some kind of smaller role. It was almost adorable, if a little bit insulting. Jessie shook her head and chuckled, reaching down to her goggles on the desk in front of her and slipping them on, the display lighti9ng up as Lightning Bug adjusted them to her head and looked at her alien friend. "I made a promise when we started this. And breaking into a shady government agency to find out some X-Files shit about who's hunting aliens and why? That sounds like a show I wouldn't miss for the world." She said with a grin, smacking Ezra's arm playfully.

March 8, 5:30 PM PST

Sunspot Cafe, down the street from secret DEO headquarters, Coast City

@Crazytazer


Jessie set up her laptop in a quiet corner of the internet cafe, checking to make sure her gear was still safely in her backpack. She would have loved to rush in guns blazing to this base, but Ezra had been adamant that they at least check out the area first. He had a point, it seemed almost too easy to have found such a close base to their location, they didn't want to walk into a trap. But Jessie wanted to be ready regardless. Jessie opened up a small window on her computer, as well as loading up a few decoy programs; IP blockers, proxies, hackertyper in case anyone was spying on her, things like that. Then the real work began. Using the laptop to extend her senses through the wifi network of the shop, Jessie slowly began making connections to the nearby security cameras on the street. That would give her a good view of the street layout around the building before she tried to push farther in. She didn't expect to get very far, a secret government agency would likely have firewalls and precautions in place to prevent all kinds of attacks, even from unorthodox sources such as herself. But hopefully she could get an idea of what the security looked like while--

Help

Jessie gasped and winced, her cyber attacks and connections stopping as her mind was assaulted by a foreign presence. She was still only trying to interface with local cameras, she hadn't even touched the facility yet. Were they tied into the surrounding grid? What the hell was 'help' supposed to mean?!

Trapped

Jessie looked around the coffee shop, trying to see if someone, no matter how impossible, might be playing some kind of trick on her. Nothing. Hipsters and coffee. New age music. Laptops on a shared network with shitty privacy settings, but none of them attempting to reach out to her. Which left just the direction of the DEO base. Jessie was ready for it now.

Help

Jessie's mind snapped around the transmitted word like a steel trap. It was a signal, transmitted through a few different mediums. Radio, power line, short range wifi. Jessie could feel the echos reverberating through the web, and she grabbed her backpack and ducked into the bathroom. Pulling out her goggles and settling them over her eyes, Jessie was pleased to see a text box appearing to the left of her vision, displaying the message as well. Her goggles were on an open receiver, easier to interface with that way, and they had intercepted the message. With the signal in her head, and in her goggles, Jessie though she might be able to trace it back to the source...

It was coming from the DEO base, that was sure. Security was tight on the network, they were likely monitoring everything on every computer in the place. But that's where the weakness was too. When you're searching everything for anything, some things can slip through. And where a message got out... Another could punch in. An unused dead-end in the network, a brief connection that had been made then lost. It would be a simple enough matter to connect again, and see exactly what was pushing words into her brain...

Who are you? What are you? Where? Jessie pushed her thoughts back towards the source, compressing her thoughts into a small file and opening the connection to the dead-end terminal for a brief moment, just long enough to push the file through before backing out of the system completely. It was crowded and dangerous in there. She'd keep monitoring the airwaves for now, but she didn't like the thought of going back into that system without needing to.

Jessie pulled out her phone and began to text Ezra again, he was close by doing his own scouting. Something's in there. Made contact with me through the computer, talked into my brain. Trying to find out more. This is the place.


March 8, 2:45 PM, PST
Coast City(?) USA


Lightning Bug stood still with her eyes closed, smiling softly to herself as she felt the wind whip her hair across her face. She was dressed in her full costume for the first time since she had put all the parts together, and she wanted to savor the moment. Not that she planned on doing anything particularly special, apart from the test flight she was conducting of her tech and the costume itself. No no, this was simply a stress test, and an added layer of disguise in case someone somehow spotted her. She had taken to wearing elements of the costume after her and Ezra's first few hits on the cities ATMs, figuring that someone wearing goggles and a full cloak would be harder to find than a girl with her face and regular clothes on display. So far it had worked, though security footage had begun to surface of herself. Nobody seemed to suspect Jessica Beedle though, and that was the important part.

Lightning Bug shifted a bit as the wind picked up, bringing a chill to the air that cut through the early spring warmth. Maybe it was time to head in, the test had been going well so far. Jessie looked up and opened her eyes, her smile widening to a grin as she set her eyes on the city, laid out below her. Jessie looked down then (Or up?) at the metallic disc pulsing with energy that her heavy boots were anchored to. After her talk with Ez in the burger shop months prior, the two had begun designing a way for Jessie to fly in their spare time. It was quickly decided that a flight suit was out of the question, as the time, energy, and materials it would require to build that was out of their grasp. But then Ezra had hit upon an idea. Hover technology was standard in a lot of Ghol devices, and with added microthrusters one could conceivably build a working hoverboard.

And so they did.



Lightning Bug shifted her weight and felt the hoverboard react, flipping her back into an upright position. The young girl shook her head, her ears ringing from the sensation of her blood rushing out of her head and back to where it belonged. She angled downwards and let out a joyful holler as she went into a free-fall, the wind rushing through her hair and past her face, her cloak billowing out behind her. For not the first time, Lightning Bug was grateful for her goggles, as she knew she wouldn't be able to concentrate with her eyes drying out from the winds. Crouching down slightly, she urged the board to go faster, the city growing larger as she approached, the buildings filling her vision. Soon, Lightning Bug was descending into an open public square, screaming over the heads of amazed and horrified onlookers as she soared past.

Leaning into a turn, Lightning Bug whipped around a fountain and flew down a main road. The streets went by in a blur of motion, within minutes she was passing the CCU campus, blowing a raspberry in the window of a particularly annoying professor before arcing up and over the building and heading up to a good vantage point. Several people had seen her by now, she was sure of that. And as intoxicating as this was, as exhilarating as showing off her skills and smarts made her feel, Lightning Bug knew she couldn't track anyone back to their hideout. Luckily, she had discovered that as long as the hoverboard was connected to her, she could teleport with it, and a few short hops later, Lightning Bug found herself on the roof of Ezra's apartment building. Deactivating the boot magnets with a quick eye movement, Jessie stepped off the board and reached down, grabbing it out of the air and slinging it onto her back which sent it into compact mode.

Fishing the key to the maintenance shed out of her pocket, Jessie slipped inside, landing heavily into her wheely chair she had moved over and scooting over to the small bank of laptops she and Ezra had set up. Some of them were working out programming, interfacing human programming languages with the Ghol technology, some of them were monitoring metahuman references in the news, there was a program dedicated to finding potential references to herself and Ezra so they could do some damage control of need be, and finally there was a small system set up to monitor ghost hunting websites. After learning a bit more about the ectoplasmic energy source, Jessie had drawn a parallel to ghost stories and hauntings. IF even one of those turned out to be true, it was possible that the pair could find a way to create a breach into a theorized fold in space/time, a pocket dimension of pure ectoplasmic energy. IF they could do that, they'd never need to worry about power again...
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