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It's a "wake up at 3am and headbutt a ceiling fan" kind of morning : )
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If I could do anything else as consistently as I drop out of threads, I'd become too powerful.
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Be safe out there, dudes!
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Ugh. The Block is real.
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Listen, in case you're confused, it's EXACTLY what you're thinking. Deal with it.

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Oof. Nah, dude - migraines are a special kind of hell. No need to apologize lol
|| Duncan Mallard||

|| 002: The Fight and Flight ||

"Yes, they are good people."

It only took five little words to break the storm raging in Duncan’s mind. Calmness took him. He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, held it, then slowly exhaled. All of his doubts and trepidation were swept away with that breath.

Good people…

Five little words and suddenly everything made sense. The Knights and Mages were good people. But there are some things that Good People can’t do, so that’s why he and his brothers were there. They were the Bad People that could help the Good People take down the Very Bad People. Just like in the shows that he would sometimes get to watch with Ms. A…


He shook away the thoughts. Calm. He was calm. And filled with new found resolve.

Ducky returned the Holy Man’s kind smile with one of his own, reflecting Kai’s gentleness. Mimicking it. He then gave a nod before he pulled his attention to the drag bag he clutched close to his chest. As he did so, a face began to form in his mind.

A face he had been learning for days now.

The face of a Very Bad Person. A Very Bad Person who did very bad things.

He was strong. Too strong. He made the game unfair, so he had to be removed. That was Duncan’s primary objective:

The assassination of Vincent Ryder.

As the shuttle touched down and the ramp began to lower, it was the Holy Man who was front and center. Duncan watched as projectiles cut through the air in their direction, only to harmlessly fall to the ground once they made contact with Kai’s barrier. The lead Spectre then turned to his brothers and gave a rally.

"Let's get to work now and take care of each other out there. Light be with you all."

Ducky nodded, but only sat back as the others began to spill out of the vessel. He pulled his sidearm out and checked the magazine count. When he was satisfied with that, he leaned forward and closed his eyes in concentration.

Along the boy’s spine, a long metal plate was affixed. Of the five partially sunken orbs, one began to twitch. A dull light emitted from the grooves in the steel sphere before it popped free, twisting and folding until it took a new shape altogether. It hovered in the air for a moment, as manic and frantic in its movements as a hummingbird, before darting out of the shuttle and climbing higher and high into the sky. Through its lens, Ducky scanned over the chaos from upon high, the warriors no more than ants beneath him. It was…staggering, just how many people there truly were. He was no stranger to battle, but the nature of his speciality rarely took him to the frontlines. But this mission would be different. His mark was likely to appear close to the action.

The problem was the sheer amount of action happening. Finding his mark in this mess would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Or perhaps a needle in a needlestack would be a more fitting scenario. In any case, just marveling over the scale of the work would do him little service. It was time to get to it.

The drone’s lens shifted, zooming in on an engagement on a far side of the battlefield. A group of Belisian soldiers were pushing into the enemy line. From his place in the shuttle, Ducky pushed forward with his mind, first traveling high to his drone…and then falling down onto the group he had been observing. As he fell, Ducky reached out, trying to grab hold of anything…

He lightly grazed something. Something warm. Excitement? He pushed into that feeling, immersing himself until…

Ducky’s sight became filled with dirt and blood. Suddenly it shifted. A face he didn’t recognize lay below him, twisted in a horrible grimace of pain. A knife is pulled from the neck, with a flood of dark red behind it. A groan escapes the mouth it spits and stutters. Already the eyes go from piercing into him to searching for something past him. The sky? Ducky’s vision shifts, scanning over what appears to be a number of Belisians engaged in melee with Vaimese troops. A loud bang cuts through the air as a geyser of sand spits skyward. Shooter. A second bang fires out, but Ducky is aware of it before he hears it. Intense pain shoots through his leg before crawling across the rest of his body. His sight shifts again, and Ducky can just barely make out a pair of eyes in the distance.

So he pushes forward. In the next moment, he is surrounded by rubble. Makeshift defenses. In his sight, he sees a boy lying in the dirt, a lake of blood growing around him. He can feel the cold metal of the rifle in his hands, even if he can’t see it. His hands move to the action but his sight never changes. He’s a passenger to a shooter. A good one at that. Ducky can tell by the shooter’s steady sight that he’s found his next target. The boy tries to push into the shooter’s thoughts…but there’s nothing. The man is focused. So Ducky focuses as well. Underneath the chaos of the battle around them…Ducky hears something. Unsteady. Heavy. There’s somebody else. Out of sight but…

Ducky pushes his mind towards the sound. Blind to it, he flails wildly…until he grazes something. Again, he latches onto it, trying to pry his way inside.

A dark sky fills his sight. Unsteady breathing is making him shaky. A loud bang cuts through the air and Ducky’s sight comes across the shooter from behind. She curses and goes to load another round, but a distant clapping sound is heard, and dark crimson sprays over Ducky’s vision. It goes dark for a moment, as the body wipes the viscera from its face, but when the sight returns, Ducky observes the shooter slumped onto her side, the rifle still gripped in her hands. She’s unmoving. It was a good shot.

Duncan feels something cold. It’s fear. He begins to push deeper into his hosts’ thoughts. A string of curses. Despair over his comrades’ deaths. Anger. Resentment. A question. An angry, repeated question: where is Diamond Company?

…what is Diamond Company?

The boy released his grip on the fearful Vaimese’s mind. The tension snaps his consciousness back to his body in the shuttle. His breath unsteady, Ducky looks around for a moment, touching the seat of the shuttle, his drag bag, then finally his face. He’s back. He’s him. He settles himself, before pushing back to the eye in the sky. From above, he searches the battlefield, looking for any sort of transport heading for where he was.

Nothing. Although…

Something had caught his attention. The wreckage of a downed enemy shuttle. It would be difficult to know where it was heading, but it did at least seem to be roughly facing the appropriate area. Interestingly enough, there appeared to be another downed shuttle not too far away. An allied shuttle.

Back in the shuttle, the boy twitched as another orb sprang to life. It too shot out before taking to the skies, this time making a beeline towards the pair of downed dropships as it passed over a contingent of Knights heading in the same direction. It arrived at the allied ship as survivors of the crash began fighting off attackers. A pair of allied mages arrived shortly after one another at the scene to offer reinforcement, but it was of little concern to the boy as he soared overhead towards the other shuttle.

It didn’t have to go too far before the little Duckling found what it was looking for. A group of non-standard highly-equipped enemy soldiers were marching from their downed ship to the other downed ship. They seemed a little banged up, but more than that, they seemed pissed. Ducky began to push his mind toward them for a little probing when he laid his eyes on the mark.

Vincent Ryder.

How fortunate. He could just take a little peek inside Ryder’s head and figure out where he would be go-

A shot rang out and Duncan’s vision began to spin. He was falling. He was tumbling. He tried to steady the orb, but another shot rang out and it was no use. His vision cut out. It was dark. Blinded, Duncan tried his best to flail his mind, grab onto something, but it was no use. He found no purchase and quickly snapped back to his shuttle, where he let out a pained squawk.



They shot his baby. His little duckling. THE AUDACITY OF THESE FUCKS!

Shaken, Ducky pulled his sidearm out again and his hand tightened around it in a death grip. His face felt warm. He rose to his feet, pulling his drag bag’s strap over his shoulder and made his way to the shuttle’s ramp. A number of Spectres were still around, but if he noticed, he made no sign of it. In this moment, he was blinded and deafened by rage.

It may have been his mission to kill Vincent Ryder, but that was just work. It was his job, nothing more. There was nothing personal about the whole thing.

But then his goons shot Ducky’s baby. His sweet, innocent little Duckling, who had never hurt anyone. yet

That was going too far. Way over the line.

Muttering to himself, he stomped off toward the downed shuttles, his eye in the sky trained solely on the fuckers. The remaining three drones had all deployed and circled above Duncan like a halo, mindlessly firing at any poor Vaimese that got within their sights.

He was a man on a mission.

Mama off to avenge his baby.
Oh, I could throw together a Ducky post.

Diamond Company bout to get them cheeks clapped.
|| Junia Menarini ||

|| The Zombie on the Ridge ||

|| ACT I ||

“Fuck me…” muttered a balding man as the wind picked up, whipping the pages of his magazine into a frenzy. He twisted his body, trying to shield his “reading material” from the wind, but the wind was undeterred. It caught the book and gave it lift. The man desperately tried to hold onto it, but the tug-of-war proved to be too much for the magazine’s abused binding.


In a flash, the small campsite had a change of weather. A flurry of pages - the flickering campfire revealing women posing in the nude alongside “advice columns” - had descended upon them. The balding man stood up and threw his torn rag on the ground and began stomping at it out of rage. One of the men sitting around the fire, a younger blonde boy, barely of fighting age, began laughing as he loudly chewed his bologna sandwich. The balding man turned to him, his head as red as a ripe tomato, and screamed at him.

“The FUCK you laughin’ at, bologna boy?”

The boy’s laughter intensified, morphing into a full blown coughing fit as bits of bread, meat, and mayonnaise spewed out with each cough. One of the other men - short and stocky with dark hair - piped up, “Looks like he’s laughin’ at your dumb ass, Marchetti.”

“Oh yeah? You laughin’ at my dumb ass, boy?” the man called Marchetti fired toward the coughing boy, which only made the coughing boy laugh and cough even more. His face also began to turn red, as tears welled up in his eyes, and he managed a choked approximation of “Shut the fuck up, Marchetti.”

A fourth man, a taller lad with a bright shock of red hair, chimed in, “Yeah, shut the fuck up, Marchetti. Let Monti choke in peace.”

Marchetti shot a look over towards the ginger and started nodding. “Oh yeah?” he turned towards the coughing boy. “I got a lil’ somethin’ Monti can choke on. Come here, ya little bitch!” he shouted as he rushed toward the choking Monti and started pelvic thrusting toward the boy's head. The boy’s laughter and coughing grew even louder as he pushed the thrusting Marchetti away, earning a roar of laughter from the other men.

“HEY!” barked the older blonde man seated the the far side of camp, a can of opened beans in his hands. The other men jumped to attention, with the exception of Monti who was now doubled over coughing up his dinner. “Marchetti, shut the fuck up and go check on Menarini.”

Marchetti stood still for a moment, just gazing at the older man. He appeared to consider saying something before the man piped up again. “You got a problem with that order?”

“No.” Marchetti answered.

“No sir. the man corrected, his eyes narrowing at the balding soldier.

“No sir!” Marchetti answered.

“Then what the FUCK are you waiting on? Get!” he barked at the soldier, who turned and began hurrying out of camp towards the ridgeline to the east. The senior soldier looked down at his beans and shook his head before looking back over towards the boy vomiting. He sighed. “For fuck’s sake, one of you go either help Monti up or put ‘em down.”

The men all turned to look at one another before the exasperated officer called out, “Russi - go. The rest of you pick up Marchetti’s porn. Go which caused them to scatter like ants.

Another bald man next to the officer chuckled. “Belisio’s best and brightest.”

The officer grunted as his spoon clanked against the metal can. He watched as the tall redhead Russi managed to get Monti back on his feet - just in time for the kid to spew again. The officer shook his head and stared into the can. “Yeah. Best and brightest. God help us.”

|| ACT II ||

In the cold darkness, a figure stood atop the rocky outcrop overlooking the field engulfed by countless Vaimese slave soldiers and a truly pitiful Belisian force. She stood in silence, binoculars practically attached to her face. If it wasn’t for her occasionally lowering them to get a better view, one could be forgiven for thinking she was a statue.

She heard the bald man long before he reached her, his muttering and cursing cutting through the howling wind. As she scanned the opposite ridgeline, his voice cut in.

“Spot anything?”

She hadn’t. Nothing worth mentioning anyway. She had been tracking the movements of a particularly shifty looking group - possible mages by her count - but she was finding it rather…difficult to concentrate at the moment.

“Ayy, you fuckin’ deaf or something? I asked ‘you spot anything?’ Cap wants to know.” the man had called out to her again. But the watcher on the ridge was trying her best to not lose her mark. Could be nothing, but it was worth looking into.

“God fuckin’ damn it - why are you such a fuckin’ freak, Menarini?! Just say something already.”

A moment passed. Then another. The balding soldier stooped down and picked up a rock. He tossed in the air, checking its weight, before chucking it towards the woman on the rock. It collided squarely with the back of her head, but it didn’t earn a reaction. Juno’s head shifted forward, then she returned to her previous position.

“What the fuck…?“ he chuckled to himself in disbelief before picking up another one. Again he threw a rock at the silent woman, and again he struck true. No reaction. Marchetti stood mouth agape as he shook his head. She was bleeding. Even in the darkness, he could see that.

“Contact spotted.”

The soldier had just picked up another rock when he processed what he had just heard. He turned to look at her, shocked. “Wait, what?”

The woman pulled a radio from her side and brought it to her mouth.

“Steed One, Steed One…This is Zombie, over.” she barked. The radio buzzed for a few moments before the static was cut.


”Got a stork in the sky, over.”

A moment passed before the next reply.


“WILCO, Steed One. Zombie out.”

With that, the woman returned the radio to her side and leaped off the rock. As she passed the soldier, she gave him a glance, tossing the binoculars at him. Marchetti juggled them before he finally secured his grip and brought the lens to his eyes. He scanned the ridgeline…

And nothing.

He turned to look over at Menarini as she approached the large, kneeling suit of hers. She approached from the rear and climbed up into its exposed back. Once she was in, Marchetti watched as the metal shimmered and bristled like an angry cat’s fur before it reached out with metal tendrils and began to spread out across the woman’s back. And just like that, the back was solid, no seam in sight. It was unnerving to watch. But he couldn’t help it. As the metal figure began to stir, Marchetti found himself mesmerized by the flickering metal on its arms. Like scales on a dragon. A metal dragon.

The Hepius roared to life. As it rose to its feet, it swung the cannon from where it had been resting beside it to front and center. The tendrils on the back of its head snaked forward, finding their places in the base of the cannon. And then the humming began.


A dull light began to flicker from within the cannon.


After a few moments, the humming grew louder and light brighter. Marchetti managed to tear his eyes away from the strange machine back towards the ridgeline.


He didn’t see shit. He brought the binoculars to his eyes and…

Still nothing.


The humming grew even more intense. When the soldier looked over, he would notice small wisps of pinkish-purple appearing around the edge of the cannon, from the end of which a purplish arc lashed about violently.


Suddenly, a voice crackled out from the machine, sounding warped and tinny..

“You’re going to want to stand back.”

“What d’you mea-” he started to protest -


- but the humming evolved into a ferocious roar, joined by a creepy scream - a woman’s scream? - as a large column of purplish light poured out of the cannon. The soldier instinctively dove to the ground, searching for cover. From his place on the rocky ground, Marchetti traced the beam as it cut through the sky towards…nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

The bitch had fired at nothing.


And then the explosion started. He watched as from a seemingly empty night sky, the imposing figure of a Vaimese dropship had suddenly appeared - materialized out of nowhere. And there was now a massive chunk missing. Explosions were going off. It was breaking apart in the sky and falling to the ground in two halves. Marchetti watched as at least two dozen bodies came tumbling out of the wreckage, plummeting towards sure death.

After a moment, he got to his feet and looked down at the battle below. The wreckage of the dropship was now illuminating the melee going on around it. Absolute carnage.

The strange voice cut through the man’s thoughts.

"Drop’s coming. Tell Captain Bruno to take the ridge.”

He looked over towards the machine woman, but it wasn’t moving.


His answer was silence. Marchetti was about to reply when he noticed another shuttle light up off to their southeast. A friendly one this time. Mage must have took a page out of the Zombie’s playbook. At the same time, the machine roared to life once more, launching immediately southeast.

“Fuckin’ freak…” he muttered to himself as he hurried back towards camp.

|| ACT III ||

As the Hepius roared down the hillside, Juno trained her eyes on the falling dropship. Steed One had just broadcasted that reinforcements were coming…but that wasn’t where they were supposed to land. She frowned. She was to join up with the landing force and support their push into the opposition flank. From the west. THAT was her objective. THIS was improvisation. And Juno so very much hated being forced to improvise.

She gave the battlefield a wide berth as she repositioned, gliding over the landscape like a figure skater on the ice. Still, the occasional small arms fire caught her, some bouncing off the Hepius’ armor, some piercing through. None doing any significant damage that couldn’t be repaired though. The woman pressed onward.

Even from her considerable distance, she could tell that the survivors of the shuttle’s crash were making a stand. She began to take aim with the cannon. The shuttle took some significant damage on its way down, but it somehow hadn’t detonated. She could correct that, maybe take a few Vaimese out while she was at it. The cannon began to hum again.

Something detonated in the area of the crashed shuttle.

The light in the cannon fizzled as the Hepius took a hard turn. Directly into enemy lines. The Hepius readied the AAPT and began swinging at anything that got within reach. Cracking skulls with one arm and using the cannon as a lance with the other, the Hepius began to cut a path towards the next shuttle. The downed shuttle was lost. That was a shame, but she still had her orders. She needed to link up with the main force.

As she glided through the lines, an enemy mage landed a nasty hit on the Hepius. The explosion ate away at the front armour and burned much of the woman’s face. Ever calm, however, the Hepius approached the mage, quickly regenerating as the mage hastily prepared their next attack. In vain, it would seem, as the mage soon found himself getting to know the AAPT rather personally.

Juno screamed across the battlefield, figuratively and literally, until eventually arriving at what seemed to be a Knight-held line. Drenched in the viscera of numerous Vaimese slave soldiers and one particularly unfortunate mage, the Hepius looked every bit a monster. Juno had maintained her composure…but for how long, she couldn’t say. The skin on her face stretched and tore, constantly jabbing her brain with shocks of horrible, intense pain. She could feel the little tingle in the back of her head, a surefire sign that it was time to…let loose.

She just needed to get her orders first.

…which she had neglected to tell the Knights she had approached, opting instead to just stand there.

I wouldn't want to hold you up, so don't worry about waiting on me if you're ready to post. I'm out and about on a few errands right now, so it'll be a couple hours before I can start. Either way, I'll have her post up later today :3
Hope everyone had an awesome holiday!
|| Duncan Mallard||

|| The Cat and Concert ||

With the detached disinterest of the lazy cat watching over the mouse scurrying to and fro in its vain struggle for survival, the lanky ghoul watched as body after body flooded into the shuttle bay. His expression did little to betray the turmoil storming his mind as the buzzing began. With each new face, the buzzing in the boy’s head grew louder and louder, the various disembodied voices clashing against each other, merging and breaking apart as they formed a mad orchestra performing a concert that moved between beautiful symphony and agonizing discordance.

With every new thought or observation given form to join the disharmonious harmony, the paradoxical performance swelled to its climax. The young Spectre felt as if his mind were splitting apart at its seams.

Not long now

The words cut through the noise. The soothing warmth of familiarity serving as a shining beacon in the dark sea of insanity. As the boy focused on the words, his mind’s eye shifted, it’s gaze fixed solely on the source of its respite. As he grew closer, the orchestra’s damned song faded into the gentle hum of a choir. The boy’s eyes shifted from the impossible sea of faces to the form of the Holy Man gazing upon something in his hand. It would be nothing for the young Spectre to peer into his comrade’s mind, to see what he was seeing, know what he was contemplating.

But he wouldn’t dare.

Not this one.

Never this one.

The Holy Man towered over his brothers, the Spectres who congregated around him. There were some within their ranks who avoided the man…but they all recognized him. In some capacity anyway. Duncan certainly did. To the boy, he was the calm at the center of the storm. Order within chaos. An abnormality amongst abnormalities. Proof that they weren’t doomed to be the monsters that others saw them as. The potential to be…good?


Not good.

Never good.

Images flashed across the boy’s mind. Blurry. Unfocused. Painful. He pushed them away, back into the dark shadows they sprung forth from.

With his train of thought derailed, Duncan turned his attention to the other wreck occuring before him. The Others gathered around their own ranks. Metal men in garish garb. Mages mulling over malevolent magicks. Some gave speeches, some gave insults. Some prayed like the Holy Man, some laughed with their fellows. The many little rituals of the men and women preparing for battle, with him as their silent, unseen audience. Occasionally, stray thoughts would pierce Duncan’s calm. He would let them in, let them say their piece, then let them leave. And then he would ponder.

Those thoughts of love.

Thoughts of joy.

Thoughts of duty and glory.

Of dread and sadness.

Of fear.

Of hatred.

He would hold each against his own heart, hoping to identify that feeling which resonated with his own…but he did so in vain. Whatever moved him, he either did not find it amongst the thoughts of the Others, or could not recognize it. For these gathered few, this would be a momentous occasion, something extraordinary that they would hopefully look back upon. But for Duncan…the coming battle would be no different than breathing or eating. For this was his purpose, his very reason for creation.

Like the cat finally pouncing upon the mouse, there’s no greater reasoning or motivation to the act. There is no malice. No joy. It is merely instinct.

Pure and primal.

|| The Doubt and Hope ||

As the Spectre shuttle lurched forward and took flight, Duncan found himself thinking of the Others. Before today, he had only worked with others within his own order. His own brothers. He knew little of the other Belisian forces. And there would have been a time when he would have gladly kept it that way. He had his tasks and they their own. But…something stirred within the boy. An uncertainty. A change. He had noticed it before. Back when his bro-

no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no
no no no no
no no no no

Another series of unfocused memories began to surface in the boy’s mind, but he averted his gaze. He knew that to gaze upon those images and slides now…it would break him. He didn’t know where that knowledge or his absolute certainty came from…and that terrified him. But ever the master of many masks, the boy refused to allow his face to betray him. His was a stony demeanor, the ghoulish Spectre of Dr. Mallard. In an effort to steel his mind, the boy found the Anchor. Liffis Kai. The Holy Man. He pushed his mind towards the solemn Spectre delicately, careful not to push too far. There would be no melding, no invasion. Only the passage of a thought - four words in an attempt to seek assurance.

”Knights…Mages…good people?”

In a shaky, uncertain voice, the young Spectre would speak his thoughts aloud rather than risk intruding upon the Holy Man’s privacy. For many, it would be their first time hearing the boy’s voice outside of their own heads. Raspy. Hoarse. Some shifted their gaze upon him, sizing him up, searching for weakness. Others turned towards Liffis, curious to see his reaction to the strange outburst. Most remained unfazed, their minds solely focused on the task at hand.

The young Spectre, however, awaited the sage’s wisdom with bated breath, his eyes trained solely towards Kai. The Belisian weapon was little more than the boy Ducky once more, a creature of earnest, unabashed curiosity.

And the answer he was given would doubtless shape the boy’s troubled heart.
Ayo! I'm still alive! I ended up moving? I'll start working on something after some sleep. I drove for waaay too long.
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