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Shout out to my boy @LemonZest1337 for the 1,000th IC post!

They drove closer toward the destruction that was in the wake of Behemoth until it was impossible to go further. Judah pulled over near the sidewalk and got out of the vehicle. He quickly donned his gear while Axel leapt out. Using his powers of perception, Mantis sensed for nearby capes to influence, or for Healer to treat. Genevieve parked nearby on her bike and followed the group. Farce appeared to have other thoughts on her so Judah said, "If either of us need help, call the other."

Meanwhile the ground quaked, Behemoth roared and capes fell by the wayside. The Seraph unleashed terrifying power at the beast...and then..silence. Judah could feel so much chaos and discord in the city. More then ever before. He had to limit it or become overwhelmed and unable to function. Mantis tweaked his ability so that he would only sense things in a closer radius.

The silence broke and they spotted a single woman launching orbs of some unknown substance nearby. Judah ran over with his allies and activated his ability. He released feelings of courage and strength. The parahuman was invigorated and began firing even larger orbs at the beast. They moved slower, and were less accurate, but appeared to give off much more energy. "Thank you." She stated before turning in surprise and exclaiming, "You were on the tv! You're lucky to be alive."

Judah replied with a somber tone, "Yes. Now we're going to make the most of it." He glanced around for more people to invigorate. The new aspect of his power shook things up a little bit.
Reign: Kingdom Come
Chapter 4:D - Tower of Light

It was almost impossible to see the ground immediately in front of them on top of the problems with breathing. The one thing that broke through the thick ash was the tower of light, still shining up ahead. They travelled with all the speed the hound could muster. The dog coughed and gagged from inhaling the particles. It had to stop moving for some time as it choked on the black ash. Lorenzo encouraged the beast, but without some relief they would be stuck in place.

Then Marque donned the mask. It fit perfectly over his face and even felt like it had attached to his flesh in a warm embrace. Suddenly, wind swirled around them. Not the cold icy death they had experienced before. A warm gust which blew the black ash away from their group. It continued to swirl around and protected them from the nasty particles of the BreathStalker. Marque instinctively understood that this wind was in some way connected to the mask which he wore. Knowledge which he was ignorant of seconds prior came to him. He felt like he could alter the flow of air around himself with the help of this crow mask.

Seconds passed as the hound began to recover. Col utilized Bastian's bandages to cover his face as he notched another arrow. Ready to fire at the presently unseen enemy. Lorenzo mushed on their four-legged companion. With the better visibility and breathability they were able to make good time.

Suddenly, out of the cloudy black twenty feet in front of their path it reappeared.
The BreathStalker opened its maw and released an ear-piercing scream. The cove vibrated in protest. The ground around it warped and bent to the creature's presence. Their hound came to an ubrupt halt. Marque's mask seemed to offer some reprieve from the entity's screams. They sounded distant and hollow. Not nearly as terrifying as when they first heard them.

Then, two large warped stones rose in the air adjacent to the BreathStalker. In a flash, the stones flew toward them with deadly speed. Col's shield glowed nearby as if begging to be utilized. Marque's mask protected them from the ash, but could it stop solid projectiles on its own?
Lorenzo urged the hound to the right, narrowly maintaining their footing from falling into the sea.

Bastian reached for the glowing shield nearby, and took a defensive position on the dog's left. If it fell, so would they all.

Col fired another arrow toward the fiend.

Marque attempted to guide and increase the speed of the arrow which Col fired.

The grainy stones made their way toward the companions. However, Lorenzo and Bastian's quick thinking proved invaluable. The stone furthest to the left missed the group entirely, while the stone about their right bashed directly into the shield Bastian held. The force rattled him, but much less then expected for a large projectile moving at that speed. The shield radiated in response as the stone fell harmlessly to the ground.

The arrow Col fired moved with incredible speed and precision aided by the winds. The BreathStalker hadn't anticipated this speed increase. It had already begun to create a wall of hardened ash to block the damage. The arrow was much too fast and pierced directly through the half-made wall. The group heard a muffled explosion. They saw vibrant reddish orange colors pop from the hit and heard the screams of the entity.

His projectiles were doing some damage to the monstrosity. Barry fired more tungsten at Behemoth. The beast roared from afar, battling many foes. Buildings broke, heroes fell by the wayside. Even the well known protectorate hero Inkscape was not immune to its deadly lightning.

Barry was no longer held back by speed limitations in his shots. He was free from his personas, at least for now. He wanted nothing more then to end his time while being in control. Being seen as a real hero. Not some nasty villain making a ruckus wherever he went.

Barry slowly lifted himself into the air by his telekinesis. Around him a single tungsten ball rotated. It picked up speed for half a minute. Spinning faster and faster as he raised himself higher and higher. He reached the same height as Behemoth's head. Barry pulled his mask off and let it fall stories below. Then he pointed his finger at the monstrosity. The "eye" was his target.

The single rotating ball launched forth with great speed and what turned out to be amazing precision. The air around it gave way to a force unlike anything Swarm had ever released. Hardly any time had passed before it penetrated into Behemoth's eye. The sound was defeaning after the fact, being seconds later.

Behemoth seemed to blink as it was struck. However, other then seeming to be mildly irritated it did not do much else. The eye seemed to penetrate into Barry's soul. In a flash of burning white light, Barry exploded. There was nothing left of him as the thunder rang out.

Then Swarm's mask hit the concrete below. It shattered into dozens of pieces. Swarm and Barry were no more.

I will update by next Saturday. Thanks guys!

Barry accepted the medical attention provided by Sheila gratefully. After stopping up the bleeding he traversed with Firefly to the parahumans responsible for dealing with behemoth at a range. As he arrived he spotted an angelic figure of gargantuan proportions. It even had the gall to blast the endbringer and apparently damage it!

Barry was impressed and decided to fire his own projectiles. Taking his tungsten from his packet, he levitated a single steel ball in the air. With careful aim he launched it in the direction of Behemoth with all the power he could muster. It broke the sound barrier and tore through the atmosphere around them. It shattered some pieces off the mammoth figure, but it was already preoccupied with the being in front of it. "I did it! Get ready for another you monster.."

Barry lifted another round to prepare another blast.
Okay its up!
Cicero Bladewalker

Cicero wrapped himself in a sizeable cloak and followed Dalious to the tavern. It was clear the man knew more about the seedy parts of the world then Cicero or Gwyn did. They could lay low and get information. At the first sign of betrayal from Dalious they could turn him in for his bounty. Of course..they could also get turned in themselves. It was a risk they had to make.

Cicero quietly muttered to Gwyn, "We can follow the scoundrel and figure out what we need to clear our names. He knows more about these places than either of us."

Then he got his belongings together and followed Dalious to the tavern. It wasn't as welcoming as the ones he had entertained in his home city. Dark, musky and dirty. He kept his head on a swivel as he took a seat at a table in the corner with his back to the wall. His hood overshadowed his identity. He muttered to his companion, Gwyn, "We will need new identities if we are to blend in and not be caught. What do you think?"

Just then, a bar fight broke forth and sure enough, Dalious was at the center of it. Cicero held himself back from intervening thinking, "That man is a magnet for trouble.." It was difficult to do, but Cicero remained seated and prayed that the scoundrel could get out alive and relatively unscathed.
Escalation of Force: Part 2

Farce wasn’t able to do much, though Fran certainly was more mobile at the time. The ex-villain of the Community ran through the building and carried out as many of the wounded as she could, with some favorites being played in case she recognized any of her old gang’s members. She managed herself fairly well, all things considered, before the entire group heard the crash of something big next to the building.

A lightning bolt had smacked right into the side of the building, causing the entire thing to shake and the power for the building to cut off. A lot of people were out, but there were still a good amount left inside.

“Mantis, how many were left in there that you couldn’t grab?”

Mantis yelled through the clatter, carrying a young man in a business suit fireman style, ”I felt at least 5 or 6! It is hard to tell! One is fading fast!” Axel barked in the direction of the casualties.

Healer ran towards Limbo and said, “Let's go together!” Then she sprinted toward the now powerless building.

”Right!” Fran rushed back into the building and darted up the stairs, whether or not Healer was following. She didn’t know where the people were, so she had to guess based on what she heard instead of what she didn’t. After a few flights, she heard the commotion a little louder, and swung the door right open for both Healer and her to dive right in.

There were two people, a man who was tending to a very bloody leg, and a woman. Fran ran over to the aid of the man and picked him up in her arms, lugging him to the staircase she went up to get to where she was. ”You’re gonna be okay sir. We’ll get you downstairs safely.”

Healer touched the man's leg and the wound was fixed within seconds. She held it in herself until the opportune time. She then helped the woman to her feet, leading her toward the staircase. It was dark without the lighting, fortunately there were enough windows to illuminate the area. They travelled down the stairs until they exited the building without an issue.

Mantis ascended the stairs as the duo exited with the two civilians. A few more trips and they had evacuated all the living from it. The ambulance pulled away with a full load of people. He looked at the two women and stated, ”I'm going to head toward the capes in combat with Behemoth. I will be able to use my ability to help them fight. This is more dangerous than anything we've ever faced before by far. I would completely understand if you wanted to leave now…” His eyes turned toward the sounds of destruction. Axel whined toward his master.

”... this seems like a better opportunity for Gaia to talk.”

”Indeed.” Gaia appeared back in Fran’s place, walking up to Judah. ”I’m not gonna let you go alone here. We’re fighting that monster together, and whoever lives, lives, and I’ll be damned if it’s gonna be you dying.” She hugged Judah before breaking away from him and looking at the monster from the small glimpse she could see it through the buildings. ”We’re a team, dammit, and I didn’t just come save you only to have you get taken away from me by this asshole.”

Healer sidled up alongside the two and wrapped her arms around them both in a group embrace. Then she stepped to the side so that the three of them were looking toward Behemoth together. “I abandoned you guys before when you needed me. Never again. This time I'm in too!” Though her voice quavered from fear, she knew that with these flawed human beings she belonged. She had no intention of abandoning them again. Come hell or high water.

Mantis was taken aback by the sudden show of loyalty and affection. He hesitated for a moment as Gaia hugged him and pledged to even die for him. He lowered his balaclava from his face and returned Gaia's hug. And it wasn't a halfhearted one either, it was a real one. Sturdy, solid and true. Then Genevieve wrapped her arms around them Judah joined in. Without realizing it, he released a powerful emotion he had not felt in a long time. It swirled around them like a dancer in motion invading the atmosphere. Like liquid love and affection. Tears rolled down his face onto his friends. Judah couldn't figure out what was going on for some time until finally the question passed through his mind,

"Is this"

Judah genuinely smiled through joyful tears. Even in the terror that was Behemoth and the evil that surrounded them there was real love. It was comforting to know there were people in his life worth living with or dying for. Off in the distance arose a massive silver-winged being. It fired off a large silver beam at the endbringer. The environment lit up brighter around them from the display. Whatever it was, it didn’t like the Behemoth. Judah wiped his eyes and stated ”Comon, we have an endbringer to end. I don't expect anyone to hold back!” Then he ran toward their vehicle. Judah took the drivers side. Axel followed after him and hopped in the backseat calling for the others with a playful bark.

”Too bad, I’ll be disappointing with my shitty power!” Farce joked as she leapt into the backseat, reaching into her bag to grab her gun and nightstick once again, maybe for the last time, maybe not. She wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t about to let this fight go without her pitching in. Plus, Axel was back here, and that was the best part of this.

They headed toward Behemoth. Unsure of what they would find when they arrived. But they knew that they were going together.
Reign: Kingdom Come
Chapter 4:C - The Path

Lorenzo guided the hound to the left. A stable, but not as quick of a route toward the tower. The dog immediately took to his directing. It sprinted with all the speed it could muster. The stones beneath its paws flew behind as the earth shook from its weight.

Above the sky continued to darken. They saw the particles descend on the area around them and up ahead.
Gardevoir replied to Lorenzo's inquiry, "What envelops the atmosphere around us is none other then the BreathStalker. It desires to cross over to our world, but we will not allow it.." He began waving his staff in swirling motions around them. The ashen particles were pushed aside. However, their vision was becoming more limited as time passed. Then, directly in the path ahead appeared the BreathStalker. Its hollow sockets glowed with a pale white light in the darkness. Their hound howled in fear, yet continued forward. It was the bravest animal Lorenzo had ever seen besides Loyal.

Gardevoir cried out, "You must use the items at your disposal! Shoot it!" Col had already resolved to use the bow earlier though he did not know how it would come in use against small particles. Now he knew. Col notched an arrow on their mount. It was difficult to aim with its erratic movements. However, his training on horseback prepared him for his shot. The glowing arrow flew true toward the entity. It sank into its chest and erupted in an explosion of reddish orange. It cried out into the wind as it was forced to separate again. The hound trampled over it smearing the BreathStalker on the stoney ground below.

The ashy rain continued to fall, but Gardevoir's staff and key lit the way like a lamp on their path. The tower of light continued to glow through the darkness. It glowed brighter and brighter the closer they came. Hope rising in the darkness.

Gardevoir began to groan in pain, "I do not have the strength to continue to protect us..cover your faces and take as few breaths as you need. Use the shield to separate the deadly ash from us. Fire more arrows as needed. And know what to do..." As he spoke the barrier around them began to flicker out, little by little until it was gone. Marque felt his master's hand clasp his shoulder. Then Gardevoir collapsed in exhaustion. The mask in Marque's hand lit up brighter then ever before. Marque felt a powerful urge to put it on.

As soon as the barrier dissipated, smokey ash swirled around them. If they breathed they would inhale thousands of particles. The dog winced in pain. They could barely see or breathe. How would they continue forward?
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