Dropping down through the unremarkable maintenance hatch, Maral found herself in momentary darkness before her vision-enchantment flickered on and turned the world a subtle green.
Sergeant Foss had cut off power to the compartment the second they had latched onto the Republic cruiser. The Imperial pilot had been as good as promised. Better even. He had to be to be able to crash the boarding shuttle into a maneuvering enemy ship in a controlled manner. He had to be better than good to hit the bullseye and smash the reinforced boarding shuttle into the maintenance hatch that was located conveniently close to the bridge. The shuddering impact as they rammed into the Hammerhead and the timing of their approach made it unlikely that Republic spacers would suspect anything other than a downed boarding shuttle. Not that it mattered, they only needed a bit of time. Time that the mercenaries and the Sith warriors were buying them. Ship mounted plasma torches had made short work of the airlock and before the Republic soldiers knew what hit them, the 975th were on board.
The 975th were quiet ghosts that swept along the ship in unison. No pauses. No hesitation. No wasted movement. Each member of the unit knew when to move and what angles to cover as they bounded down the corridors, jumping from cover to cover. Their blackened heavy battle armor melted into the pitch black of the metal corridor. They wore no unit markings, no rank insignias, and no Imperial flags. Everything that they carried was common, high quality and expensive but not uncommonly rare. Operating on a tight deadline, the quartermasters had used all of their back channel contacts to ensure that the serial numbers of the fresh gear that the 975th sported could be easily traced back to a number of less than reputable weapon smugglers and mercenary outfits. The 975th looked like mercs, they looked like a kill squad. Exactly the sort of mercs that would be making some extra credits by running pirate jobs. Just the right type of psychopaths that would ever consider targeting a Repbulic Navy ship.
Maral didn't need to waste time on orders. They had drilled attacks like this a thousand times. They had died hundreds of times in the simulators. They had felt the painful electrical current of simulated injury and death as they made mistakes. But they had learned. They had perfected their movements. They no longer needed to think. They existed only in the moment. They reacted with the unthinking perfection of a killing machine. It bought them seconds, it bought them lives, and it kept the Jedi or Sith guessing. The mind without mind. The body without the emotion. Adrenaline and carefully curated reflexes acting in perfect harmony.
When words might have been needed, quick hand signals were flashed and tense moments passed in complete silence. Shouting across the corridor of a spaceship was a fast way to reveal your position and to swallow a grenade seasoned with blaster fire. Comms were an option, but comms could be intercepted, comms could be jammed, and comms could break down.
Contact with the enemy was inevitable and from the middle of the unit, Maral could see as the leading elements of the 975th rocketed to a halt. Through smoke she could see Repbulic personnel shouting as they rushed to set up a perimeter. They were combat troops. They were Republic Navy Marines. They were the real deal. But they hadn't seen them. They didn't know which direction they were being attacked from. They were searching for ghosts in the darkness.
Maral drew a long steadying breath and then the 975th opened up, unleashing a hail of accurate blaster fire at their unsuspecting foes. Blaster bolts cut through Transparisteel armor and the Republic Marines fell amid desperate shouts for back-up. The 975th didn't stop, but kept moving. One team of Imperial commandos suppressing the Republic marines, while another bounded forward. They had to be aggressive. They had to keep moving. To hesitate and to stop, was to die. If they were pinned down by the defenders it would only be a matter of time before they were overwhelmed by enemy numbers. They had to get close and they had to stay close. They were ready and the Republic Marines were not. They would not hesitate. They would not falter. They served the Empire. They served the Emperor. They were the spooks that did what had to be done without flash and without reward. They had a ship to cripple.
50 meters forward. Left turn.
As they closed in on the embattled Republic Marines, the teams of Imperial commandos fluidly broke into pairs, finding new angles as they heaped intensifying fire onto the the Republic Marines. Burning flesh welcomed Maral as she followed the tide of advancing Imperial commandos. The welcome heavy thud of her disruptor rifle accompanied Maral with each leap forward. Aiming down the holographic targeting cross-hair projected across the inside of her combat helmet Maral took aim at the first officer that she could spot. His personal shield had kept him alive, but it gave him away. She aimed center mass, it was pointless to be fancy when you carried a disruptor rifle. Thunder raced down the corridor as she braced herself against a wall and fired. The arc of plasma smashed through the military shield and through the grayish Repbulic armor. Maral heard only a brief, maddened scream before the man disintegrated within his armor.
Stepping over the smouldering pile of armor, Maral kept pace with the rest of the 975th. They had no time to admire their handiwork as they finished off the last of the Republic Marines. They had to keep moving.
20 Meters. Hard right.
50 meters forward. Left turn. 20 Meters. Hard right. 34 meters forward. A final right. 45 meters to the blast doors. 20 more to the bridge.
The Imperial commandos raced down the corridors at a breakneck pace. The Imperial commandos of the 975th overwhelmed the confused units of Repbulic Navy specialists and technicians that they encountered as they advanced. Distracted by the mercenaries and Sith warriors, the Republic troopers had put up a pitiful fight against the unexpected foes. Maral didn't care. She wasn't adding notches to her weapon. She was winning a war. There was no time for mercy. The barrel of her disruptor rifle had begun to smoulder and she popped the red-orange barrel off with a deft movement of a hand. Ducking behind a metal column, she replaced it with a fresh barrel. She wouldn't need the rifle for much longer.
34 meters forward. A final right.
Taking the corner in pairs, Maral and the Imperial commandos of the 975th found themselves facing a heavy repeating blaster emplacement hastily assembled from metal crates and sheet metal. The fire that greeted them should have been overwhelming. It should have cost them a commando or perhaps even two. The Republic troopers should have made them pay for each step forward. But they didn't. They shot wide. They were slow. They were gasping for air. They were panicking. Taking cover, the Imperial commandos returned fire as they shifted closer. They were already dead. They all knew it. Anything they did would buy them time. Aggression was the only option. Maral watched with satisfaction as the closet Imperial commando lobbed a stun grenade over the makeshift barricade. Surging forward even before the grenade exploded, the 975th leaped over the piles of debris with salvo of blaster fire that cut into the writhing defenders.
Officers. Engineers. Technicians. They weren't combat soldiers. They had never been. The survivors dropped their weapons. Maral counted three of them. Survivors were unexpected, but they were useful. Especially the two officers.
45 meters to the blast doors. 5 more meters to the bridge.
"Password," Maral said nodding to one of the Imperial commandos who pressed the blade of his knife against the neck of the Republic naval officer.
"I don't know any passwords. I don't have the security clearance!"
"Last chance," Maral whispered as her sergeant drew blood. "You're the officer in charge of this section. You know the password."
"You can't expect me to divulge information that put Republic lives in danger-"
The Junior Lieutenant fell to the floor with a silent thud, drowning in her own blood. Maral turned to the warrant officer cowering next to her. "One chance, Senior Warrant Officer, you have one chance to live. You tell us the password, we bring you with us. You refuse, you die here. Drowning in your own blood, like the Junior Lieutenant."
The woman flinched as the Imperial commando guarding her stepped closer. Maral could see the panic in her eyes. The rapid breathing. The shudder that moved through her body. The commando kept her quiet with a simple gesture of his knife. Squeezing her eyes shut, the young specialist spoke just barely above a whisper, "Esk 7 7 9 2. That's the password. Please-"
Maral didn't need to give the order. Her soldiers knew. They were only leaving the ship with one prisoner. Stacking up on either sides of the blast door, the 975th wordlessly set up a perimeter as Sergeant Foss plugged into a nearby access panel.
Contact, a commando signaled as a squads worth of weapons pointed towards a new set of figures that moved down one of the adjoining corridors leading to the bridge.
How long do you usually write? One to two paragraphs to several paragraphs depending on what flows best. I've found that in the long run, a workable post posted in a timely fashion is better than a perfect post two weeks too late. Do you enjoy writing collaborative posts for things like conversations, combat, etc.? I love collaborative posts. I do however like to get them done in a timely fashion (so as to avoid getting stuck). Is grammar and depth of writing important to you? Yes, and yes. Are there any writing subjects you particularly enjoy exploring? Intrigue, morally ambiguous situations, and generally anything clever. Is there anything you really dislike and want to avoid like the plague? Sexual violence, campy assassins, too much of the force, and bad writing. Is there something you are uncomfortable with happening to your character? Nah, life's a bitch and then you die. Do you have any short-term or long-term goals with this character? Short-term, I'd like to throw my character into some interesting situations and expand on what it's like to be a badass plant. Long-term, I'd love to wax philosophical about what it means to do bad things for space credits and to explore a complex galaxy from a more grounded perspective. Ultimately, I'm pretty flexible and my chief focus is having fun with others in whatever RPs I am involved with (this is a collaborative medium after all).
Name: Species: Sylphes Homeworld: Sylvia IV Age: 27 Gender: Plant (Female) Specialisation: RocknRolla (Bounty Hunter) Current area of operation:
Detailed appearance. Imagery insufficient.
has green skin
Her hair is a cascade of iridescent flowers that grow and wilt with her mood.
is tall for her people and reaches just past 1.8 meters, a little bit more on a particularly sunny day.
Report on skills and talents, including level of skill.
Report on known combat experience, training and weapons training.
Detailed notes on common/favored employers and any noteworthy contacts.
Detailed notes on known rivals and enemies.
List and description of other known associates, including subordinates.
List of known belongings, including but not limited to planetary surface property, civilian and military vessels, vehicles, weapons, tools.
Psychological evaluation of Bounty Hunter.
List and description of known and suspected flaws. To be put into restricted database.
Known interests of the Bounty Hunter.
Major achievements on record.
Major failures on record. Confidential.
Personal biography, as detailed by the subject for future record. Acquired shortly after last achievement of note.
"Steel bends and paper tears, only Honor is Eternal!"
NAME: Z-Grip or Z
DEPARTMENT: Stationary, Office Supplies & School Supplies (Stationari)
Z-Grip or Z, was born into the Zebra Pen Corporation, a clan of minor origami samurai that had served the Stationary Shogun for untold generations. Like her siblings DelGuard, Sharbo, and Sarasa Dry, Z was named after one of the many venerated weapons created centuries ago by her family pengineers.
In her childhood, Z was sent to the live with the Rafters in order to train in the arts of stealth and acrobatics. Tied to the hilt of her paper cutter sword is a single black feather from a dire pigeon, a reminder of her time with the elite Raptor warriors and the proud foe that she vanquished.
A student of the famed martial artist, PIX the Black of Clan Montblanc, Z was trained in the mysterious ways of the Hidden Origami Dragon by the wizened old warrior monk on the sacred Mount Office Depot. While other Stationari hide behind layers of paper armor and metal while wielding cumbersome Yard Stick Katana, Z fights in the manner of penjas of old, utilizing subterfuge, blinding speed, and agile acrobatics to overwhelm her foes.
On the cusp of adulthood, Z seemed poised to become one of the greatest penjas of her generation, having attained a coveted posting to the Stationary Shogunates personal penja guard. However, any hopes of rapid advancement and gaining further honor for her family were dashed in an unforgivable moment of prideful arrogance. What began as a polite debate about penmanship ended in a brutal duel to the death that would change the Writing Instruments section of the Stationary Shogunate forever. Following a heated dispute regarding the superiority of the pen or pencil in honorable combat, Z challenged the heir apparent of the peerless Faber-Castell Clan to a duel. They faced off, and Z struck down the young lord with a single blow, sending a Parker Pen through his right eye. All who witnessed the duel promptly agreed that the pen is in fact the superior writing instrument and applauded the young penja for her skill. Drunk from her victory, Z brought great dishonor upon her family by failing to offer the mourning family of her foe the proper elevenfold sequence of consolatory Hallmark gift cards.
Branded a villain, Z shamed her family with her mere existence. Worse, Z stubbornly refused to restore the honor of her family by committing Sudoku with a sharpened ruler. Ignoring the commands and then increasingly desperate pleas of the family head of the Zebra Pen Corporation, Z fought off a number of challengers from within her own clan than sought to bring her to justice. Eventually, left with no other option and facing a minor insurrection aimed chiefly at seeing Z burned alive, the local daimyo declared Z an honor-less outlaw and exiled her from the Stationary Shogunate with the blessing of the Stationary Shogun himself. Despite her unfortunate exile the young penja remains exceedingly proud of her heritage and will respond with great violence to anyone that dares to sully the name of the most honorable Zebra Pen Corporation or the magnificent Stationary Shogun.
Since the day of her exile, Z has traveled across the departments of the Wal finding work as a Lifter, selling her sword to the highest bidder. Despite her status as a dishonored Stationari, Z has nonetheless managed to make a habit out dueling with followers of the paths of Cereai and other honorable foes when the opportunity presents itself.
PERSONAL GOAL: Z seeks to regain her own personal honor, to restore the honor of her family, and to return to the Stationary Shogunate as a true hero of the Wal.
LIKES: Z likes pens, paper, and rare comics. Having grown up hearing the stories of the legendary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Z is also particularly fond of turtles or any objects that bear their image.
DISLIKES: While she is a dedicated student of the blade and does not shy away from dealing out death, Z nonetheless views needless violence with particular disdain. For a warrior that cannot control their blade or temper is no warrior at all. Convinced of the need of courage, Z holds a low opinion of those that shy away from battle. Like all penja, Z greatly fears the day that her pens run out of ink.
REPUTE: Within the Stationary Shogunate Z is remembered chiefly for the duel that saw her exiled from the shogunate. Begrudgingly a speaker may recall that Z was among the finest penjas of her generation and was famed for her skill with her paper cutter sword. Outside of the Stationary Shogunate, Z has earned a modest level of fame as a mysterious Lifter shrouded in silk. Many recall or recall stories of a female penja that sold her sword to the highest bidding and dueled with those that matched her skill with the penblade.
HEEL: A proud warrior of the shadows, Z is a thrill-seeker. Relishing a challenge, she will take unnecessary risks to display her superiority as a penja to an opponent. Heedless of poor odds, she will happily throw herself at mobs of enemies to test her skill with a pen blade. Truth be told, while others are addicted to all manner of household chemicals and industrial cleaners, Z is addicted to the thrill of danger and the young penja feels alive when her death is only a false step away.
CODE: By performing some impressive mental gymnastics Z has managed to remain an ardent adherent to the warrior code of the Stationari despite her status as a dishonored and exiled penja (a particular class of warriors often derided as "assassins" by other Stationari and Cereai alike). She believes that worthy foes should be given the honor of a duel and a chance to prove their skill whenever possible. However, simultaneously Z has no scruples about slitting the throat of an unaware enemy with her penblade. Following this code of flexible honor, Z is slow to promise anything to anyone, but the few promises she makes she is willing to follow towards an honorable death. As a consequence, she will respond with great violence when faced with personal betrayal.
QUIRKS: Z writes reviews of any noteworthy opponent she has killed on sticky notes which sticks next to the bodies as a mural to her fallen foes. She also maintains an extensive Excel Spreadsheet, a copiously maintained scroll of paper containing information she has gathered since leaving the Stationary Shogunate. Written in her flawless hand, the cursive text found in boxes that Z insists upon calls "cells" is all but impossible to read for anyone but Z due to the cipher she uses to code her writing.
HIDDEN ORIGAMI DRAGON ►
EXCELLENT PENMANSHIP ►
ENTER THE PENJA ►
SWINGLINE CLASSIC PRO CUT ► For closer work, Z carries a sword constructed from an ancient paper cutter on her hip. The curved blade is perfectly balanced and seems formed specifically for the hands of the young penja. No ordinary blade, the weapon was forged by the finest office suppliers of the ancestors, and bears strange runes naming it as the fabled sword, Swingline Classic Cut Pro. A legendary weapon once wielded by the equally legendary Origami master Lucky Star before her death in battle against a horde of rampaging Ambuloceti during the Battle of the Beige Shelves, the blade is said to be able to cut through shelves stacked with the thickest paper with only minimal effort from the wielder.
PARKER DUOFOLD PRESTIGE ► Favored by the famed warriors of the New York Times Bestseller List this deadly dagger was molded out of a single solid block of acrylic. The steel forged stiletto blade glides through armor like butter and slips through gaps in protective attire with ease.
THROWING PENS ► Tucked beneath layers of her clothing, Z carries a seemingly endless number and variety of pens sharpened into deadly projectiles. Light, silent, and hard to spot as they sail through the air these cylindrical objects are effective ranged weapons.
INK REFILLS ► To facilitate escapes and to blind her foes, Z has a collection of ink refills that will burst upon impact, coating her foes in various distracting colors of ink.
THUMB TACK CALTROPS ► To slow down or wound pursuers Z has a bag full of thumb tack caltrops, exceedingly sharp spiked objects created from several thumb tacks that can be thrown or dropped.
PENJA GARB ► A close-fitting bodysuit of soft, dark fabric complete with a stylish hood and mask. Lightweight and flexible, it allows stealthy, unimpeded movements. The outfit is lined with hidden pockets, allowing Z to to conceal a wide range of weapons, tools, and penja related items on her person. Paper clip chain armor and small armor plates formed from melted pens have been expertly sewn into the garb to afford Z some additional measure of protection.
Name: Nina Nikolayevna Noskova. // Nina to her friends. // Ninenka to her intimate friends. Alias: Spellbound Age: Nina was in her mid-twenties at the time of her death some twenty years ago. If she were still alive she would be in the middle of her forties.
Powers: Undead Physiology, Regeneration, and Limited Resurrection
Neither alive nor truly dead, Nina is an undead creature trapped in an unwelcome cycle of reincarnation by Hex's powerful but ultimately flawed ritual magic. Gifted with an undead physiology, Nina has superhuman strength and stamina. Lacking the physiological needs of a living, breathing human being Nina is highly resistant to physical damage. She possesses a healing factor and has gained a measure of immortality thanks to the elemental energy that imbues her form with undead life. Wile Nina has been destroyed a number of times, she always returns to life after some time, reawakening restored in her crypt in Cormack Historical Cemetery. However, each time that she is resurrected Nina is touched by the magic woven through her soul and she is irrecoverably changed. With each new life, her powers, memories, and personality have been twisted, leaving Nina unsure if she's even the same person that she was before her death.
In her current incarnation, Nina lacks any ranged abilities. This presents some problems as throwing a car or concrete road barrier at a bad guy is all well and good, but it's not nearly as effective as shooting beams of lasers, covering your foes in molten plasma, or exploding your enemies into a million smaller pieces. The lack of variety in her repertoire of abilities means that Nina is an exceedingly predictable, if unnerving fighter. Following in the footsteps of legendary comic book superheroes like the Dr. Hulk, Nina's solution to most of her villainous problems is simply to punch very hard.
A lack of tactical flexibility is however a small problem in comparison to the state of the necromantic wizard's mind. Altered by the magic that keeps her among the living, Nina is slowly losing herself to the powers that Hex accidentally gave her with his flawed ritual. The magic surging through her have stripped her of not just her mortality but her very essence of being. Her memories have begun to change, fading into the darkness. Her personality and her form have been gnarled and reshaped into something that she can not recognize. Power, dark, unbidden power pools within her.
Cursed in more ways than one, Nina struggles to find peace even when she manages to avoid the company of prattling mortals. Standing between the living and the dead, she is almost continually troubled by the voices of the recently dead. Less often, she finds herself drawn to unwelcome communion with long dead spirits that still cling to the powers they commanded when they walked among the living. Having spent a good decade mastering the art of telling the dead to shut up, most of the time Nina can easily ignore the rasping requests for attention that assail her ears. However, when distracted or in the presence of places with long, intimate histories with death she finds herself struggling to contain the desperate demands of the literal underworld. Talking to beings most people can't see is not a great party trick and in her brief interactions with other superheroes Nina does her best to not make it obvious that she sees dead people.
A recovering devotee to the Goth aesthetic, Nina is exceedingly pale, less in an unhealthy manner, and more in a vaguely spectral sort of way. At a glance, Nina appears to be in her mid twenties, certainly no more than twenty eight. She has an elfin build unburdened by the weight of her true years and untouched by the passage of time. She has serious pale gray eyes, splashed with a hint of green that offers a promise of grim deeds to come. She keeps her hair cut just above her shoulders and it is painted a shade of brown that seems to shut out light, appearing far darker than it really is. Her lips move little and are often simply pursed in a gentle frown, as if existence is a burden she only barely chooses to suffer.
For all her polite mannerisms and soft visage is there is something unsettling about the young woman. She looks tired, exhausted even, like she hasn't slept for the better part of a century. And there is something forced about the way she smiles, the way she moves, and the way she breathes. It's like her movements are merely habits that she remembers and reluctantly performs for the benefit of those around her. When she does move with some expediency she practically floats above the ground, moving like some sort of specter.
Typical Clothing: Generally uninterested in clothing, Nina owns a modest collection of dark suits in varying degrees of disrepair that suggest a growing disinterest in her own appearance. Second hand acquisitions sourced from thrift shops and estate sales, the suits, though expertly tailored to her figure, reflect the weariness that she feels in her undead bones. Beneath her jacket, Nina favors monochromatic dress shirts and simple ties of a similar vintage as her suits. She is exceedingly fond of leather boots and rarely leaves her crypt without a pair adorning her feet. In short, she far from a dashing figure, she comes off as deeply tired and not at all that concerned about whatever it is that forced her to leave the comforts of her crypt.
Costumed Appearance: As Spellbound, Nina wraps herself in a coarse funeral shroud that she has fashioned into a hooded cloak and several layers of black clothing. Over her hands she wears gel-lined fingerless gloves that protect her hands and wrists from the immense forces she generates with each punch. In a professional capacity, she wears black leather boots. The most modern aspect of her costume is her helmet, a tasteful number in black with darkened glass that casts shadowy reflections of all that she sees.
Beyond her costume, Nina carries only a simple handgun. A venerable CZ-75, an all-steel nine millimeter Czech demigod dating back to the early months of 1975. Wildly out of date and considered something of a relic in the current year, Nina maintains that the pistol still does the job well enough. Reasonably sized, reliable, and heavy enough to be used as a hammer it gives Nina an additional bite. It would be a safe bet to assume that Nina does not have a gun license. When asked she maintains that being dead, she is well outside of the jurisdiction of traditional law enforcement.
"Standing in the light I never wanted to be right Now I'm attracted by the light And blinded my the sight"
Nina Nikolayevna Noskova was born to a family of unremarkable nobodies in Boston-Atlanta sometime in the early 2020s. Her parents were third generation Czech immigrants and strictly working class. An unremarkable child, Nina appeared to be destined for nothing more than a high school diploma and maybe cosmetology school if she played her cards right. The great cybernetic revolution came for the rich and the comfortably upper middle class, it certainly did not come for those at the bottom of society. By sixteen she wasn't pregnant, like many of her classmates, but she had managed to rack up a respectable criminal record largely due to minor drug related offenses.
She was a difficult teenager with a disdain for authority and an inability to keep her mouth shut. Her parents were frequently at their wits end and threatened to send her back to the Old Country or to a much hated uncle, Gabriel. In between screaming matches with her parents and running from the police, Nina managed to find some happiness in the Goth subculture and quickly made all the wrongs friends. Pictures from back then show that she wore a profusion of black velvet, lace, fishnets and leather tinged with purple, accessorized with tightly laced corsets, gloves, precarious stilettos and silver jewelry depicting religious or occult themes. The very same pictures also suggest that she used criminal amounts of eyeshadow and white powder.
Teenage rebellion eventually gave way to an early adulthood of slight responsibility and by the time she turned eighteen Nina had a job working in the kitchen of the local dive bar scrubbing dishes. She spent what little money she earned on cigarettes and booze, managing to move out of her parents apartment only after several months of half-hearted saving. Her average life of mundane debauchery was forever shattered when an encounter gone wrong with a former paramour led her to discover that she could cause frost to appear in the middle of July. What followed was a storied tale that saw Nina threatening to turn half a city block to ice, destroying one police cruiser, and leaving one Roger Thompson with frostbite over most of his body. The incident and Nina remain infamous within the 77th precinct of the Boston-Atlanta Police Department.
However, before things managed to spiral completely out of control and Nina was thrown in a jail cell or put down as a magical arbitration, a local, well-respected witch, the retired Superhero Zita the Wise, stepped in and offered to train the young, untamed magical prodigy. The wizened Slovak witch was her teacher for many years and taught Nina most what she knew and knows about magic. Nina was a contemporary of the superhero Hex, that is, until he killed her several years later.
"Here in the garden of the arcane delights, Dark shadows overwhelm us and we become blind. Blind to the needs of those who would be free From the grip of fear and the prisons of the mind."
Mastering magic at a marvelous rate, Nina quickly became a powerful practitioner of the magical arts. A rebel at heart, she nonetheless managed to maintain her own brand of modern magic. An idealist with a penchant for do-it-yourself magic, spray painted graffiti rituals, loud music, and magical orgies she was a disruptive force of mostly good in the Boston-Atlanta area. Zita the Wise guided her as best she could, always cautioning her to respect the great powers that she commanded and the spirits that she often meddled with. However, Nina was talented and young enough to happily ignore the hard-earned wisdom of many older magicians and she indulged in a number of vices that more conventional wizards would stay far away from. Designer drugs infused with magic were for many years a beloved interest of the young wizard.
Once she was certain that she had learned what she could from Zita the Wise and chafing just a bit under her increasingly serious tutelage Nina declared herself a full personified master wizard at the impressively young age, for a wizard, of twenty two. Confident, arrogant, and not a little full of herself Nina was convinced she was destined for greatness. A fact she felt was confirmed by the bitter jealously of the older wizards that surrounded her. Bored to tears with the idea of spending the next several decades in the academic pursuit of arcane knowledge, Nina decided soon after that she would become a hero, a superhero even. Looking to stretch her wings, she decided that she had to strike out on her own, she had to find a place that needed a real hero, and somewhere that was far enough away that Zita the Wise wouldn't come knocking if she made some noise.
Nina met Hex soon after she relocated to New York City and came out as a proper anonymous hero called Spellbound. In his youth, Hex was as good as he was in his old age. But he was more handsome then. He was a younger man, a more reckless warlock who had yet to be burdened by his own flaws and failures. He had not learned the price that had to be paid. The pair were brave, wonderful heroes. They were children playing at a game they did not fully understand. They could see other heroes, one after another fall in the fight for good, but they continued to play anyhow. They were convinced that they were better and that they were smarter. They knew that they would be different. And they believed that things would end differently for them. They would not lose and they would not lose their way.
For nearly a decade Hex and Spellbound protected New York City together as a team. They became household names, with action figures and a Netflix show. They fought demons, necromancers, and arcane antagonists that threatened not just the city, but the nation, and sometimes even the world. They grew together and they grew apart. A budding romance evolved into a respectful friendship with clear boundaries and an arcane golem or two to keep the peace. Hex grew a beard. Nina developed an interest in horticulture. She even made efforts to reconcile with Zita the Wise, now a retired old woman who spent her days beekeeping in upstate New York. She mostly forgave Nina for stealing the Eye of Odin when they had last met.
It all fell apart when the pair of magical superheros confronted a group of cultists attempting to open a portal to a dimensional of unspeakable evil. It wasn't the first time they had fought a group of cultists. Necromancers, blood mages, and cults trying to bring about the apocalypse were dime a dozen. They weren't anything special. At least, they weren't supposed to be anything special. That time things were different however. Nina had felt it as they climbed down into the basement the cultists had excavated to reach the catacombs that lead to the temple. The air was heavy with magic, dark, repulsive magic that reeked of death. Everything had started so well. After a short jaunt through a gloomy series of passageways, Hex and Nina had burst into the temple and sent the nearest cults crashing into the nearest wall. They had offered some witty comment in the direction of the abomination of flesh and viscera that appeared to be leading the gaggle of cultists. It had roared something about "interruptions" and "sacrifices" but Nina didn't pay much attention. She didn't put much stake in the rambling of mad monsters or their threats. She'd heard them all before, after all.
Everything was going well until Hex took a blow to the head. He was dazed and Nina could see the blood that began to pour down his face. His magic faded, it grew weak. The cultists rallied and the monster laughed or at least Nina thought it was laughing, it was hard to tell. The young wizard used all the magic trickery that she knew to keep them alive. She stalled for time and she fought the wave of nausea that told her she was reaching her limit. Hex recovered, but he recovered slowly. They were in over their depth. They were in trouble. When Hex finally stood again, tossing curses all around him, Nina already knew it was too late. They were surrounded by cultists and they were running low on magic. They were trapped and it was only a matter of time. It was hopeless, she knew. She was powerful, Hex was alright, but they were outnumbered and they were outgunned. They would be torn to pieces and that would be the end of the dynamic spell-casting duo.
Left with no other option, Nina did the one thing that she had known she was never, ever, allowed to do. She summoned her own horror, she summoned her own special brand of eldritch horror from some abyssal plane. Hex told her to stop. She didn't listen. He didn't understand. He never would. She had to save them. As the spell reached it's apex and the horror began to substantiate, Nina broke the final rule. She summoned another dimensional portal and smashed the two together using all the magic she could muster. For a brief moment, she brought the two impossible realities together over the cultists and the abomination that commanded them. She could feel as the doorways to the planes ceased to exist, each rejecting the reality of the other. She watch the master and its servants disintegrate in a shower of sparks as the arcane energies tore them into pieces. She heard them scream. She heard it scream. She heard it curse her very name.
Hex screamed and she screamed too as the arcane light danced in front of them. She was not ready for the the sudden force that cut through her. It sent her falling into a helpless heap on the now dusty floor. Hex screamed again. She found it very annoying. She shouted at him to shut up, but he pointed at her chest, and he looked afraid. She hadn't known that it was possible to be alive without her heart or rather with her heart replaced by some shadow of magic. It was in that terrible moment that she remembered why it was wizards did not make a habit out of smashing dimensional portals together. Creatures beyond the veil did not take kindly too being used as improvised explosives. They became very irritate at the very notion of a broken summoning contract and they demanded revenge. The connection was all that they needed to find her. It was all they needed to mark her and to doom her.
She could feel herself dying. Dying faster than a normal human being that is. She told Hex, but he already knew. She could see it. She could feel it. He'd had another one of his damn visions. He knew. He knew all along what would happen!
They stumbled out of the catacombs and were greeted by a crowd of New York City's finest boys in blue. An entire city block had been leveled. Several people besides the cultists were dead, dozens more were wounded. They were still heroes to the city, but Nina could see the fear in their eyes. They finally knew what she could do. They finally saw and they were afraid. She had sacrificed herself for them, for Hex, and they were afraid. They were afraid of her and she would die. She would die for nothing. In the span of a month, Nina went from powerful wizard moonlighting as a superhero to mostly dead girl slowly fading away. There was nothing she could do about it. She had tried. She'd poured over all the books she could find, she'd sought out all the experts, and she'd even talked to Zita the Wise. There were no good news. There was no easy answer. There weren't even any hard answers. There were just terrible answers, sad looks, and deep, heavy sighs of uncertainty.
When Hex finally visited her he came with a plan. He had found something he promised. A real chance, not a great chance, but a chance. A chance to fix her, a chance to bring her back, and a chance to make things right again. She didn't want to die. Not yet. Not for several decades. Not in some shitty hospital bed under an anonymous name. Forgotten. Feared. Hated. So she agreed. They'd try, they'd try it together. Hex had found a loophole. He'd reverse engineered a curse, a terrible curse, the worst sort of curse that was never to be spoken of. It had taken him weeks of painstaking work and it had almost cost him his mind. He'd had to deal and wheel with several demons, but he had prevailed, he'd found out what he needed, what she needed.
"Some present you gave me, the bitterest pill My eyes is all grey And I haven't slept in days Locked up in your dungeon Running around in your maze Now I'm feeling zombiefied"
The ritual worked.
It worked exactly like it was supposed to. There was only one small problem — the ritual didn't save Nina, it killed her. Hex had made a mistake. In his desperation to find an answer, he'd been sloppy. He had committed the gravest of sins for mathematicians and wizards alike; he had neglected to double check his math. He'd saved Nina from one curse with another refashioned by his own infernal magic. He had never considered that the two curses would interact. He spared her from death by separating her from life. Hex had trapped her between life and death. He had had changed her. She could feel it, she could feel the wrongness of her new existence, she could feel how it pushed back against the reality of the material plane, and how it crackled against the veil. Dead magic flowed through her. Energies that should not have been possible, energies that should never have been, and energies that kept her in a new state of unlife.
Hex was afraid of her, but worse, he was ashamed. He was repulsed by her, he recoiled from her touch, and he locked himself away in his study. He buried himself in his ancient tomes and his work. Nina knew that she had become a reminder of his greatest failure. She was a reminder that no matter how pure his intentions were, the consequences could be unbearable, and the results horrific. Months of arcane research and experiments proved futile. Nothing worked, nothing restored her, and nothing brought her back. She gave up long before Hex did, but eventually even the Warlock lost what little hope he had managed to save.
Hex never managed to forgive himself for what happened to her and neither could Nina. She blamed the Warlock more than he blamed himself. He had damned her and he had cursed her. He had failed her. Love tore them apart and sent them along different paths. Nina was merciless and Hex found his own voice. He would not suffer the hysterics of a scorned wizard for eternity. He had a duty, he had others to protect. She did too, he begged, but Nina ignored him. She had given enough she shouted. What more did he want her to give? What more could anyone ask of her? What more could be taken from her?
Hex didn't have any answers.
She called him a coward. She called him a fool. And then she left.
"Of freshly dug grave and death and night These things are her essence"
Cursing her own fate, Nina fled back to Boston-Atlanta. Hiding away in a forgotten cemetery, she settled in an abandoned mausoleum content to await eternity by herself. When the loneliness of her stone crypt finally drove her close to madness she began venture out into the city. For a time she became the mysterious protector of the Autumn Hills. She patrolled at night. She kept the streets safe. She fought off criminals and supernatural creatures. Underneath the neon lights of the city she found a new purpose. She found a calling. She claimed the neighborhood as her own. She enjoyed watching over the living. She felt pride. They feared her, but more importantly they respected her. They spoke fondly of the reverent that protected them. They believed in her.
Then the voices started. At first they were nothing more than whispers. She convinced herself she was simply imagining them. She could ignore them. She could silence them. They recoiled when she shouted at them. And then she saw them. She saw all of them. She saw the ghosts that surrounded her, that begged her for a voice, and demanded she act for them.
In her madness she found herself in conflict with the police and with other heroes. They began to question her. They doubted her. She felt hatred for the first time in years. She felt rage, so much rage. She fought them. She fought the criminals and she fought the cops. She fought everyone that stood in her way. And then she died again. Some hotshot hero had buried her in a tomb of lava. It was the first time she had burned. It was the first time she had melted. Yet there was no peace, there was no rest for the wicked. She awoke again some time later in her crypt. Restored, but still dead, and different. She realized with great alarm that she was different. She had changed. Her magic was gone. Her spells forgotten. The voices were louder, they were a torrent of pleading screams. She couldn't remember her parents. She couldn't remember her home. She remembered only darkness and her regrets.
New fears coursed through her as she learned more about her affliction. She would not risk herself again. She would not risk her memories, she would not risk herself, and she would not risk what little remained of her soul. The city was no longer her concern, the citizens could rot, and the government could crumble. She would remain. She would silence the voices. She would wait. She would rest.
With each passing year, a torpor has grown inside of the unliving wizard. The world seems less interesting. Matters no longer concern her. People are no longer important to her. She no longer understands them. They are violent, impatient creatures, full of emotion, and life. Sometimes she hates them. Sometimes she misses them. But most of all she feels tired, so very tired.
Nina isn't sure how the letter from Special Agent Reynolds reached her. She hadn't expected a crow to be able to find her. She had already known. She had felt it when Hex died, the magic of the ritual had still bound them together. It had hurt. For the first time in years she had felt something. But it did not make her happy. What use was weeping? What use was feeling sorrow and loss? She had to go. She owed him. She owed Hex. He had always been better than her. He had always known she realized. He had always known she wouldn't let him down in the end.
Personality: Bitter, jaded, and angry; Nina is all of these things in great abundance. The grand adventure of being a wizard and superhero has trapped her in what she perceives to be her own personal hell. She is slowly losing herself and her memories to the eldritch energies which swirl through her. Beneath the fearless confidence of the undying, Nina hides all that she has lost and all that she desires. Memories are twisted, memories fade, and with each passing moment Nina despairs that she is losing more of herself.
Nina can no longer deny what she has become. A monster, something less than human; a creature of the night. She can feel her emotions unraveling, becoming undone, and she no longer knows how to change or return to the woman she once was. She struggles to resist her darkening thoughts and can feel a gnawing hunger, inhuman desire, unhurriedly consume what little remains of her soul. She can sense the fractures that deepen within her, slowly tearing her apart. Weakness and fragility that can only be mended with further lose of her humanity. Another heavy price to pay.
As Spellbound, Nina has retreated from humanity and other superheroes. Long since divorced from her humanity she cares little for the laws of men or the lofty morals of other superheroes. Instead, she acts of her own violation, following what she can remember of her own conscience. Withering with the dying light of her own spirit, it is becoming increasingly hard for Nina to call upon this inner voice. In Boston-Atlanta, Spellbound has become a legend, a mysterious vengeful spirit that once kept a nightly vigil over the neighborhood known as Autumn Hills. Boston-Atlanta Police Department database files detail Spellbound's activities protecting the residents of Autumn Hills, but also note several encounters with the vigilante that devolved into violence when officers attempted to impede her efforts. While rarely violent, Nina's encounters with other heroes have been sparse, terse, and full of otherworldly tension. Those that have met her, remember only a faint whisper of a voice that offered nothing more than a few cryptic words in parting. In recent years, Nina has withdrawn even further, letting the city stand alone and largely fading into nothing more than an old story.
However, despite her reclusive nature, Nina sometimes seeks the assistance of mundane mortals, supernatural creatures, and superheros to fulfill her enigmatic goals. Further, having spent too long languishing in the crypt that she calls home, she has unintentionally adopted some of the mannerisms ascribed to ancient undead creatures and to those that provide her with a service of some kind she will return the favor by allowing them to call upon her in times of great need using grim magical charms carved out of bone.
Misc Facts: Following her death in 2027, Nina has acted as the protector of the Autumn Hills neighborhood in Boston-Atlanta. Private, bordering on isolationist, she has largely avoided interaction with all other heroes or vigilantes since the start of her unlife.
As an undead creature, Nina does not have any of the physiological needs of a base human being. She doesn't need to breath, eat, or sleep. She has no pulse and her skin is as cold as the grave to the touch.
Relationship with Hex: Hex had promised. He had promised to help her. He had promised that he would find a way to save her. He was wrong. He made a mistake. He didn't save her. He cursed her. He bound her. He trapped her between life and death. He failed her. When she learned the truth she ran away. She ran away from Hex. She hated him. He had damned her. For all his ideals and good intentions, he'd sealed her fate. He'd turned her into a monster. He'd made her into a creature of the night. Far from the neon lights of Fort Cedar she found a new place and a new purpose. The Autumn Hills belonged to the Spellbound. She kept them safe. She was a monster, but not a villain.
With the passage of time, her hatred for Hex tempered. It was so hard to remember what it was like to be alive, to be so full of feeling, and life. She didn't need to see the encrypted video message from Special Agent Reynolds to know that Hex was dead, she had felt it. She had to act. She owed Hex that much, for all that he had done for her and for all of his failures.
Settled in the early 1700s by Eastern European immigrants, Autumn Hills, is one many ethnic neighborhoods found in the urban sprawl that was once Boston. Tinged with a darker reputation it is rumored to be home to organized crime elements and occult spirits that tend to discourage outside visitors. Which is a shame, because Autumn Hills is heaven for any visitor who likes charming and/or cluttered curiosity shops, spicy pierogis, or fresh, flavorful pirozhki just out of the oven. Night falls early here though, and Autumn Hill's mystic and crime-ridden reputation keeps most non-residents away after dusk. Brave souls may venture out at night to try to catch a glimpse of Spellbound, the mysterious guardian of Autumn Hills that was once said to haunt the neighborhood.
Adjoining the neighborhood is the Cormack Historical Cemetery. Largely abandoned, the once sprawling cemetery has slowly turned into a dark, twisted forest as the landscape has been relinquished to nature. The grand mausoleums and elaborate tombstones of a bygone era remain standing, crumbling slowly as they lay hidden beneath years of foliage and dust.
Teg felt the heat of the explosion as it rocked the ship. She heard Maria's shouts over the ship comms. She had no time to react when fire from the enemy ship smashed into the turret she was manning. Paneling shattered from the force of the blow and glass rained over her. Her hands were fast enough. They always were. She'd covered her eyes. She needed to be able to see. She needed to be able to fight.
"Fuck," Teg groaned, pushing off a loose panel of sheet metal that had fallen against her. She shifted her fingers. Her hands still worked. Sighting the enemy ship and placing it in her sights she squeezed again. Nothing. The gun was silent. The gun remained silent even when she hit it with an angry fist.
"Fuck," Teg swore once more, before centering herself. She could still fight. She keyed the intercom.
"Turret is damaged. It's done for. Enemy ship is closing fast. Preparing for boarding action." Teg said. Her voice had shifted, gone serious in a fleeting moment. She was focused. She was ready. She was serious. Old memories, old habits had taken hold. She didn't feel panic. There was no point in panicking. She was the muscle. She was the guns. She had a job to do. She'd make them pay for every step they took into the ship. Uninvited guests were rude. Very rude. And bullets were the cure for rudeness.
She needed guns. Firepower. She need firepower. Sliding a hand over the pistol she kept on her hip, Teg considered that she needed a bigger gun. Kicking her way out of the shattered cockpit, Teg sent glass and scraps of plastic flying in her wake. She felt a trail of blood slowly rolling down the side of her face. Brushing her hand over the wound, she felt a sudden needling burst of pain. It hurt, but she was alive. The cut wasn't deep and it wouldn't slow her down. Steadying herself, the mercenary bolted down the corridor, practically crashing into the door of her quarters.
Throwing open the metal door to her quarters with a stiff shoulder, Teg pushed over several boxes that had been stacked atop of a another larger box. Sprawled across the large case, she took a moment to breath before flipping open the heavy latches. Grunting she retrieved a large, brutal firearm. Metallic chitin had been shaped into a jagged weapon that spoke only of grim efficiency and killing power. Stamped with an impressive array of alien symbols and handles where there should have been none, it was clear at a quick glance that the weapon had not been designed by or for any humans. A Glaos special, Teg had no idea what it was called. But she understood it. She knew what it was capable of. She knew how to use it. Loading a heavy drum of ammunition into the weapon, Teg couldn't help but smile.
She'd have another dance, one way or another, she'd have another dance.