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Ay, mariposas, don’t you hold on too tight; both of you know It’s your time to go~
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In Pariah 26 min ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


AND




Sometime in the past...


Zahariel flew back down the roof of his store, the darkness of night cloaking him from all prying eyes. There shouldn't be any at this time, anyway, as everyone around should either be asleep, drunk, or busy with something else. Plus, his establishment was further embellished by the expansive leaf cover of the vines and hedges that sprouted from the roof and sides. Several trees were set on the pavement in front of the store, which gave even more cover.

The great raven stretched his wings, feeling a bit sore after piggybacking at least two people back and forth from and into the city. Some Variants needed to be extricated from society, and so he brought them to the Underground elsewhere. And now, he didn't expect any company.

What he didn't expect, though, was that his sole employee had left something of his in the store, and would be on the way to get it back. And he didn't have great hearing.

Grassbones lept from rooftop to rooftop across New Haven. The night was growing longer, and most of the lights on the street were out by now. He dropped down into an alley and used a key to open the side door, and let himself in to retrieve something he forgot about. Thankfully, all the lights were off, and Zah was gone. Grassbones walked over to the counter and grabbed his phone. Of all the things to forget, it was that. What he didn’t know was that he wasn’t entirely alone. It was a bad idea to smoke in a flower shop, so the calcified caper didn’t have a cigarette between his teeth at the moment.

Sure enough, just as Grassbones took his phone from the counter, Murder Express dropped in from the large open hatch of the store's roof, gracefully gliding down to the expansive center aisle. It took him more than a while to spot the skeletal figure in front of the counter, but when he did, he nearly choked in awe. Why are they here? Who is this? How did they get in here? Only two people had keys in here: Zah, and…

"What the hell," Zah simply muttered as the two saw each other. "How'd you get in here?"

”Ah- Hey Z. Just forgot something and- What’n the hell?!” Grassbones didn’t realize at first that he was in the same room as Murder Express… In the shop where he worked. ”How’d you get in here?!”

Zah shook his head. "Through the hatch in the roof."

The Murder Express blinked once and then twice. "You don't know that there's a hatch up there, do you. I never told anyone that. Oh, well."

The great raven paused for another moment remembering that the skeleton's voice is so familiar. It's the same voice that he'd hear every day, all day. "Ah, I get it now. Shawn is the Grassbones. You are Shawn, and you are the Grassbones. At first I thought that you killed him and stole his keys. But then, the voice got me…"

The “voice” Zahariel was referring to didn’t sound anything remotely like what a human being should be able to manage, but the way he spoke was a dead giveaway. Grassbones stared at Murder Express for a moment, trying to wrap his head around this, before he eventually just evaporated into a cloud of smoke. From that cloud emerged Shawn Raymond, Zahariel’s coworker. ”Well. This is weird, huh?”

"What are the bloody chances, ey?" Murder Express laughed heartily before morphing back into his human form, with the black, inky mist acting as a smoke screen for whatever internal transaction he might have. Zahariel then emerged from his own cloud of darkness, holding a cane that supported his weight on his left hand.

"Fate must have intertwined and set our paths together," Zahariel began, slowly walking up towards Shawn with the same unsteady gait that he'd be associated with. Gone was the quiet majesty of the great raven; there's just Zahariel, the Martian that always needs pills.

Zah spared a glance to the flowers on the side before looking back at Shawn. "So, can I trust you to keep this whole thing as a little secret? Just between us? You know that I sometimes… pop in the news. And so do you."

”Heh. Yeah. Yeah- Hell, never took you for the kinda guy, man. What’re the odds? You and me, same work, same work too. It’s a small world.”

Shawn stuffed his phone into one of the pockets on his “costume.” It looked a lot better when he didn’t have skin. ”I won’t tell anybody, as long as you don’t rat me out either. Doubt you would, but I gotta keep it close, y’know?”

"Sure, sure, my man," Zah nodded, though he winced as his nodding caused him to have a crick. "Secrets are my specialty, after all. It comes with being a member of the Pariah Underground and an extra-planetary immigrant, after all."

He'd already told Shawn that he's Martian by this point. Thinking up excuses as to why a guy his age was on medication didn't really work out, so he just said the real deal.

"So," Zah cupped his hands together, pouting. "Are you… going somewhere or…? I'd just say 'see you tomorrow', but, you know, maybe we can, ehem, cooperate when it comes to our 'secret lives'."

”You think so? I’m down. We’re both helpin’ people, so why not?” He asked, ”I was just gonna head on home, but I can hang around if you need something done. Birdman-you, not flower guy- you.”

"Very nice!" Zahariel excitedly answered, shaking Shawn's hand until it nearly came off. "So, I've actually finished my errands for the night, so… we can begin working together on both fronts tomorrow. This is going to be fun, yeah?"
In Pariah 17 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


AND




”Ah- Y’know, can’t complain. Easy day today, got a hot date with an acid-spitting lab robber, the usual. Underground treatin’ you right?” Grassbones asked, saddled between Murder Express’ “shoulders” as they climbed into the sky.

His cigarette went out against the wind.

Murder Express paused for a moment, trying to recall which one of the lab robbers could spot acid. He already dealt with Ruby and Graffite (Graphite?) back there, so that left… Flea and Noxia. Which one of them could spit acid again? Oh well, he couldn't be arsed to remember. Probably Flea.

"The Underground is swell to me," Murder Express answered. "The local leaders did just give me their praises after some recent… operations. Though the Scourge, as usual, has been threatening to expose the rest of us through their shenanigans. Things are trouble enough for us outcasts at the moment, then these people make it all worse! Oh, what a pity."

”Yeahhh. I feel you. Hard enough just tryna keep cover these days with all the drones and whatnot, ain’t any easier when these jokers make an ass outta everybody else. They’ve gotta be doing this for a reason though, I wanna find out.”

"I concur," Murder Express replied. "The only possible reason for this brazen lab burning would be some kind of nefarious scheme, perhaps to bring about… world domination. Or something like that. Though I must say that these two Scourges, Noxia and Flea, would be… dangerous to me, personally. But that won't stop me!"

”Shouldn’t be too hard. Big thing with Flea is he jumps a lot. I’m fast, but I ain’t that fast. I can dive bomb him if I jump off your back, and then give him the ol’ one-two so Nox’s all that’s left. Dunno if you’re stayin’ for the fight, but don’t let Nox see you comin’ or she’ll melt you real quick.”

"I see," came the answer. "And just in time, we're over Bywater now. And now…"

The great raven gazed downward, searching for their targets in an aerial reconnaissance. "Ah, there they are."

The mist intensified, a flock of ravens materializing in order to act as ablative armor should any acid streams come at him. As for Grassbones, he now has the opportunity to drop.

"Make sure to do a superhero pose when you land," Murder Express jokingly said. "That should throw them off!"

”Good call.” Grassbones peered down into the darkness below and saw them. Flea and Noxia running for dear life into god-knows-where. Once Murder Express got close enough, Grassbones pulled out a lighter and lit his cigarette once again, before taking a swan dive off of his ride.

He fell for what could have been a few thousand feet at most, cradling the cigarette with one hand, and landing with a loud thud just a few feet in front of where the two Scourge were headed.

”Well well fucking well. Somebody’s in a hurry tonight. It’s dangerous playin’ with chemicals you don’t know anything about, fellas. How ‘bout I take that off your hands?”

Noxia and Flea skidded to a halt when Grassbones hit the ground. Both wore a look of confusion and annoyance.

“What the hell?” Noxia yelled as she clutched the duffel a bit tighter around her shoulder.

“Oh, it’s that, uh, skeleton dude. Mind getting the fuck outta the way, Bonehead?!” Flea shouted at the smoky vigilante. He glanced into the sky to see where GB dropped from and spotted the flurry of black feathers that can only be from one particular Variant. “Looks like the Bird Brain is here too, Nox,” Flea said, nodding up at Murder Express.

“Save the chems…I wanna see if bones can melt…” Noxia said, tossing the bag to Flea. He caught it and quickly threw it over his shoulder before leaping high into the air and onto the nearest rooftop. “You want these, you gotta keep up!”

A sly grin crept across Noxia’s lips as she wiped a bit of acid from them with her clawed hand. “You dropped in on the wrong party, hun. I’m gonna enjoy this…” She darted toward Grassbones while taking a deep breath in. As soon as she was close enough, she breathed out and released a spray of acid in the skeleton’s direction.

”Heh.” Close-quarters fighting was Grassbones’ comfort zone, and it was only natural that someone who could spit acid would want to capitalize on that. When she made a rush for him, Grassbones threw himself at the ground in a way a person normally shouldn’t be able to. He swung his left arm towards his right knee, bringing his right leg up, which caused his body to twist parallel with the ground. As he did this, he was falling, and spun clockwise. Once Noxia was close enough, that spinning motion turned into a 360-degree kick to her ankle.

The idea was to use Noxia’s momentum against her, and use his own weight as a pivot point, resulting in Noxia throwing herself backwards. Grassbones would’ve counted it as brownie points if she fell with her nose in the dirt and smeared acid across her face.

Nox expected some sort of counter to her full frontal attack, so she wasn’t caught totally off-guard. However, she wasn’t able to fully dodge the ankle kick, and she was clipped as she vaulted over the attack, causing her to twist in the air and land in a sketchy crouch. The acid spray had missed her target and instead coated a small area of the ground to her left which was now sizzling as the acid corroded the street.

The momentum from that kick resulted in Grassbones having the push to bounce off of his back foot, and dart towards Noxia, who landed wobbly on the ground. After roughly 10 steps, he hurled himself forward like a cannonball, shifting his weight once he left the ground so that his feet were pointed at Noxia. What followed was a flying drop kick aimed at her entire body, as he hoped to land it before she could get back up.

Noxia recovered a bit more slowly than she would have liked as Grassbones launched his follow-up kick. She was, however, able to fully rise to her feet and brace herself rather than dodge the kick, so she quickly crossed her arms in front of her chest to block the hit. The impact was enough to take her off of both feet, and she flew back a few feet before landing on her back. Refusing to be caught off-guard a second time, she used the momentum to throw her legs up, roll onto her shoulder, and launch herself off the ground with a back handspring. Noxia landed properly this time, digging her clawed hand into the pavement to halt her backward momentum. Just as she was readying a counterattack, she heard sirens beginning to close in.

Damn, cops…this bony bastard is lucky…

Nox’s opponent was obviously quite formidable and the fight would take much longer to settle than she had time for. She made a quick scan of her surroundings for a way to end the fight before it ramped up any further. There was a streetlight directly to her right and she saw an opportunity.

“Enough with the gymnastics, smokestack!” Noxia took another deep breath in and expelled a stream of acid onto the streetlight near the base of it. The metal immediately started to corrode and she swiped the spot with her clawed hand causing the pole to buckle. It fell at just the right angle to potentially land directly onto Grassbones, though she figured he would simply move out of the way. It was more of a distraction for her to be able to escape and avoid the authorities.

Seeing the pole collapse as the acid ate into its structure, Murder Express resolved not to get anywhere within spitting range. While his gravity related health issues were nullified by his transformation, that didn't mean that other things couldn't harm him, especially not acid that could destroy metal. Instead, he summoned yet another unkindness of spectral ravens, sending them in a wave of claw and beak. He figured that they wouldn't be able to harm the reptilian scales on Noxia, but he could at least inconvenience the Scourge's escape by covering them with dark excrement. Not to mention that Flea might jump on him, which made this venture rather risky.

Grassbones, meanwhile, easily leapt out of the way once the pole collapsed. Upon seeing Noxia get harassed by more of Murder Express’ birds, he decided to use the opportunity to get a good swing in on her. He took off charging towards her as fast as he could, and aimed to swing a haymaker at her stomach to knock the wind out of her… Assuming reptiles had lungs to hold wind.

Noxia swore loudly as the swarm of black birds interrupted her getaway. She swiped furiously at a few of them before ending up facing the direction of Grassbones who was coming in hot with a gut shot. She caught the blow full-on and collapsed to one knee clutching her midsection. She wasn’t expecting such a scrawny Variant to pack that much of a punch, and she swore under her breath as it was knocked out of her.

Flea hadn’t gotten too far when he noticed that no one was coming after him. He heard the streetlight collapse to the ground from a few buildings away, and he turned to see his partner-in-crime being double-teamed by the two meddlesome Variants. He wasn’t about to leave her to suffer, so he leapt back to her rescue. Noxia glanced up as Flea landed on the roof directly above the fight. Through sheer rage and adrenaline, Nox was able to muster enough breath to yell out to her fellow Scourge.

“Don’t you dare come back for me! Can’t you hear the sirens?! Finish the mission!” Nox shouted up at Flea just as he was about to leap down and join the fray.

Flea grimaced as he considered her words. He knew she was right. After getting this far, it would be foolish to let both of them get caught up. Nox would be able to handle whatever came next. And he had no idea whether Ruby and Graff got away. He had to treat this as if he were the last man standing. Flea gripped the bag of chemicals tight to his body as he leapt with a good bit of his strength, soaring past his previous stopping point and landing about half a block away from the action. He glanced back once more as the sirens closed in on the scene, let out a huff of irritation, and continued on his escape.

The cacophony of the tires of several vehicles screeching to a halt was more vexing to Noxia than the pain in her abdomen. It was the auditory signal of both a failed mission and an impending incarceration, and it made her blood boil. She found the strength to tumble away from Grassbones before he decided to throw another strike. She stood up and took a ready stance, though her breathing was a bit labored since she was still recovering from the punch. Both New Haven PD and MADmen poured from their respective vehicles and brandished rifles and pistols at the reptilian girl. The weapons were loaded with both stun and Variant suppression ammunition since this was not a shoot-to-kill situation.

“Don’t try anything stupid! Get back on the ground!” one of the officers shouted.

“Fuck you!” Noxia yelled back as she spit some acid onto the ground toward the authorities. A handful of the officers fired on her, and in her slightly weakened state, she hadn’t the energy to attempt to dodge the incoming darts. She let out a shriek as the voltage from a few stun darts coursed through her body, and she collapsed to the ground. The suppression darts affected each Variant in a different way, and in Noxia’s case, they diluted her acidic secretions down to nearly water. At this point, she was fairly easily detained and moved into one of M.A.D.’s transport vehicles.

"It seems that we too must make our exit," Murder Express simply stated as he landed near Grassbones, motioning his shadowy head towards the police cruisers. "Shall we, friend?"

It's unfortunate that they're no longer in the position to pursue Flea. One can only hope that they'd see the results of whatever chemicals he hauled off in the next few days…

Grassbones lit another cigarette and watched the boys in blue and black cart Noxia away. ”Underground’s gonna get the flak for that stunt they pulled. Hate to see it. Let’s get lost before they bug us.” Grassbones hopped onto Murder Express’s back. Their work here was done to the best of their abilities. Ruby and Noxia were guaranteed to be locked away. Graphite was a possibility, but Flea? Well, there was always next time.

And then they flew off into the night.


"There is no greater calling than to explore the stars, seeing all you can ever see, experiencing all you ever could, and bring glory to our race. Then you shall return to enrich our home, and take your place with honor."

High Explorator Savas Kalhian of the Explorer's League



Well, it took them long enough. Banshee, the gas tank (a tank in both senses of the word) arrived, prompting memories of Sar-Vanthan and Rainbow Comet City warships going to join a war involving the Thetos. They fought on both sides of the conflict; it just depended on who paid them more.

A far more concerning arrival would be Aftershot, who came after Banshee. Now, Kelmandrar suspected that the Cybertronian so far had just been polite for the sake of professionalism. After all, the Eye of the Storm, Kelmandrar's old ship, participated in the Cybertronian Civil War, and committed some spicy war crimes. Even the Sarveli on-board was shocked at the captain's complete lack of ethics, and, just as surprisingly, were sad over the city-wide nuking. Though that sadness was more in a sense similar to when a human is saddened when they witness news that the population of a certain animal species had been extinguished. Well, on top of the fact that they were wasting ammunition, anyway. Hopefully they don't have too many quarrels in the days to come.

Then came the rodent. At first, Kelmandrar couldn't figure out whether Slink was a mutated rat from the sewers of some human city, or were a wholly different species that just happened to look similar to rats. The major concern, though, was that he entered through the air vents. Could be useful should they be boarded…

After Slink was the spectral… whatever. Kelmandrar that Strata comes from wherever the Sarveli pull their powers from, if it wasn't from out of their buttholes. It was pretty comical seeing him… she… it… them being impaled in many places, though.

Skylar the human came next, the cybernetics reminding Kelmandrar of the scientists back home. They too liked to replaced their body parts with machinery in a quest for maximum efficiency.

Wex the slimy fish entered next, ducking under the human's arm as if there were no alternate routes. Oh, and the doctor. Why is she late?

When Kura mentioned that they were going to a desert planet, Kelmandrar almost fell over from his standing position like a drunk. Despite his long life so far, he'd never actually set foot on a desert world. The closest equivalent to it was the small desert in one of Sar-Vantha's constituent space stations, but that was there to serve as a training ground for the pyromaniac Sarveli psykers that made up the psychic forces of the station-chain. They'd often take turns heating up sand until it turned to glass before grinding more rock from the nearby asteroid belt to make even more sand. At times, the more artistically inclined of them would create glass sculptures made using pyromantic psychic powers and a copious amount of sand. He supposed that those arrogant immortals weren't a total waste of oxygen.

Still, this was a new opportunity for him. As he belonged to a species that was nigh immune to radiation, the rays of the sun wouldn't be a concern for him.

"A most excellent deal, honoured captain," Kelmandrar stated, half cackling, half laughing (or was it just cackling?). "It will take me no more than a quarter of an hour to be fully prepared. Lucky for us, solar radiation cannot harm me."

He said that last part while looking at Skylar with wry eyes, as if stating "I got you homie." That's how the humans would say it, anyway.

Date/Time: November 11,2022
Location: Redline, Maine; en route to the Museum of Parahuman History

"I will defeat you with the power of friendship. Oh, and these stars! Hah! At your face!"



Alman simply watched their merry little party of crazy teens, endowed with frankly horrifying powers and less than stellar backgrounds. From what he heard from gossip during the introductions, some were straight up orphans, others were kicked out of their houses, and a couple were abused in ways more than one. Oh, and there are a few of those with stable homes. Including himself, he supposed, as he checked his phone and saw the latest series of messages from his parents. They kept asking him if he had already eaten, if he was well, if his companions were absolutely insane.

"Oh, I'm sure it will be fine," Alman said to no one in particular as he resisted the urge to conjure a star for the laughs. He really itched to see if he was well-practiced with his powers, but that was apparently going to happen once they got down to the ground.

Alman found the whole situation odd. What would any of the groups of... evil parahumans gain from attacking a museum of all places? What are they gonna do? Steal a retired hero's costume and then parade it around like a dog on crack? Take the outside underwear and then use it for themselves?

Maybe they needed money for their nefarious schemes, and wished to auction off some stale and unused spandex?

"Anyway, any of you played Dungeons and Dragons? Or, I guess, any RPG game with class roles in it?"


So, one of them, Wattson apparently, had begun to strike a conversation. Perfect, Alman thought, as he formulated an answer.

"I don't know if it fits. But I play... Eh... League of Legends," Alman said, shuddering with how the others might react to that information. One of their group, belonging to one of the most toxic gaming communities out there? What if they thought he fit the bill of 'a typical League player?'

Another, named Bastion, asked what they could do. She makes forcefields... huh, neat.

"I... blow up stuff. And melt stuff down," Alman continued, creating a sphere of crimson light. "I make these little spheres of plasma, which I guess you can call miniature stars. Anyways, you lot can just call me Alman. 'Astromancer' might be a mouthful to say after all."
In Pariah 1 mo ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


"Right- Now lets scramble. Mind dropping me in Bywater?"


"Sure, my good sir," Murder Express answered with the same echoing voice. The swarm of spectral ravens returned to him, melting back into the black mist that permeated his eldritch body. Strangely enough, though, one of them stayed, flying in a circle before perching itself on top of Murder Express' head.

It would appear that Zah liked his pets, even if they were but pale imitations of himself that are made out of shadow, imagination, and spite.

"Bywater, huh," Zah remarked as he began to lift off from the alley, blowing dust and other nasty particulates at Ruby. He took a moment to hover over the Scourge Variant, whom he had no love for.

"You really like ruining things for everyone else, don't you?" Zah grumbled at Ruby, his tone sounding as if he was her disappointed father. Considering the fact that no one actually knew who Murder Express was, a theory like that might have a lot of support backing it, though it would ultimately be proven false.

"The rest of us are just trying to live honest lives, and yet, here you are, doing the opposite of laying low. What part of 'lay low' and 'keep a low profile' don't you understand, anyway? If he were still alive, Imrahil would be fuming!"

Imrahil was his late brother, of course, but it's not like anyone else in the Underground knew their exact relationship. Most would just assume that they found a reason to bond when one turns into a giant tentacle monster, and the other is a titanic raven.

"Anyway," Murder Express croaked, "Congratulations, on being the reason why we're screwed!"

With that, the giant raven and his two passengers flew off, heading to Bywater.

"Oh, right, you," Zahariel looked down at Graphite who was firmly in his grip. "Goodbye!"

Graphite landed with a resounding plop as he got dropped into a pile of mud as Murder Express flew past. Zah knew that he can't really hurt Graphite, so he decided to simply inconvenience him as much as possible.

"So," Murder Express began, his lone spectral raven intensely staring at Grassbones. "How are you, Grassy?"

In Pariah 1 mo ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Seeing that Sear had decided to leave the field of battle, Zahariel reconsidered his stance in the fight. It was now just Grassbones facing off against the two Scourge members; he doubted that Grassy (as he had come to nickname the skeletal Variant) would be able to ever defeat or even delay them. Giraffe… Graffiti, no, Graphite would just keep backhanding him back and forth with those stony hands of his. Sure, he wouldn't get hurt, as he doesn't have a nervous system to feel any pain with, and no flesh to speak of (though Zah wondered if a fractured bone could make him feel something?), but he's just a smoking skeleton.

As for Zah, he's an eldritch raven, and he has a surprise of his own.

The dark mist that exuded from his form intensified, spectral ravens coalescing from the black smoke. With a single thought, the flock of forty shadow ravens flew forth, pestering Ruby and Graphite. Mostly Ruby, because Graphite has stony skin and wouldn't get affected by their attacks in the slightest.

With his partner sufficiently distracted, Zah set his eyes on Graphite. Without a word, he spread his vast wings, casting a shadow in the moonlight. He flew down with the grace of any bird of prey (nevermind that ravens are carrion birds…), talons seeking out Graphite. He sought to take hold of the stony Metamorphic Variant, and fly with him in tow. Zah wondered what he'll do. Maybe they could have a little chat before he drops Graphite to a garbage disposal, right where he belongs?

"Oh, hello, Grassbones," Zah said as he tried to clamp down on Graphite, his voice echoing as if there were a dozen speakers in his avian throat. He sounded pretty serene, at least. "The authorities draw close. Care for a joint departure?"
.



@The Man Emperor

Alright, I'm finally running through and reviewing the stragglers to get this started. Not much to say about Alman here, except, uh...Isn't this just his original power? Y'know, the one we had ya change? xD. Point is, though, firing several hundred-feet spanning heat beams of death is a tad extreme. If what we came up with last time isn't to your liking anymore, we can figure something else out, but this one can't run as-is.

@RBYDark

This looks promising, but let's touch base on a few things; firstly, backstory. The main thing that strikes me as odd is how, er....Emotional his spiders come off as? That was my best way of describing it, but my point being this. End of the day, they're still spiders, so beyond being piloted by his intents (which is what some of this could be viewed as, but it's put forth in a kinda odd way), they're still very simplistic creatures. As for his power, the ability-copying needs to last for a far shorter frame; I'd say at most is perhaps 10 minutes, to prevent him from simply having access to a massive collection of powers of his choosing that can last him for potentially a whole hour lol. Oh, and also, how exactly do these 'power transfusions' work when it comes to giving him multiple Parahuman abilities at once, or when (theoretically, given this is not dismissed in the Power section itself) granted to other Parahumans? Does it simply not work? Or does he gain those multiple powers, perhaps at some cost, like the duration, potency, or control of said abilities? Some things to think on that I'd like to see handled before I fully accept him, but overall, it's lookin' good. :)

@LostDestiny

I honestly don't have a ton to say here, which is a good thing, cuz it means the sheet is really solid lmao. Accepted! Bring Fuse on board. It's not directly mentioned, but I suppose he's going to be apart of the Redline Guardians, correct? If so, no complaints here lol

@Crusader Lord

Aight Crus, apologies for the wait, but Luna is accepted!...Unsurprisingly, I mean ya personally worked with me for like 3/4ths of this sheet xD


Oh I see. I'll just use the old one then XD
In Pariah 1 mo ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Murder Express


Zahariel smirked as Shawn left the shop at last, his lone employee disappearing into the night. He took his time, taking the cash register's contents and placing them into his bag in order to deposit them in the bank later on. A few hundred dollars

Today was a good day for business. An elderly couple came in, looking for the biggest and baddest cactus Zah had in sale, so naturally he directed them to an absolutely enormous specimen in the back of the shop. It was easily as big as the average person, and the spines could be used as deadly weapons. Zah mused that they wanted to use it for self defense as well as house decoration, but alas, they bought it along with some of the water lilies.

Anyway, Zah had been looking at the news. The Scourge seemed to be pretty busy nowadays, seeing as how they had just burned down a laboratory. Plus, they've stolen some chemicals.

Zah sighed. Why can't they be content with living in isolation from the rest of humanity? Why must they pull these antics and ruin the lives of everyone else in the Pariah Underground? Things are bad enough as is…

Taking his cane, Zah walked to the back of his shop. It was open and had a telescope in it, lending him a view of the stars. Sometimes, he'd catch a glimpse of his old homeworld, the Red Planet, glinting in the night sky. He remembered how he lived underground, and only ever got out of that little world on a world with a suit on.

Now, here he was, on Earth. He could sense that his body was still having trouble with the gravity, even after a whole decade. Zah quickly downed one of those pills with a glass of water, making sure that he didn't suffer any health issues when he got home.

Speaking of which, it was getting dark. And so…

A dark mist surrounded Zah. Out of the black smoke emerged his transformation; an eldritch raven, exuding pure shadow.

The news reported that the Scourge members went in different directions. He didn't want to deal with Flea, as she could jump up and catch him in mid-air, so he'd rather deal with Graphite and Ruby. True, his raven swarm cannot harm Graphite, but he didn't need to harm them- not yet, anyway. They needed a good talk.

"Well that's relieving," Zah thought as he witnessed a bunch of small shapes fight in the dark alley below him. Let's see, a pyromancer, a smoking skeleton, then those two. Must be… Sear and Grassbones.

Zah flew down, perching on one of the nearby rooftops, deciding not to interfere- yet. Though to those four, he's not exactly hard to miss.

"Cute…" Zah simply mused, watching Ruby and Graphite's irritation.




The Collector


"Sir. SIR! Please step away from the-"

"Step away or you'll, what, shoot me?"

The Collector stood in front of the set of jewels, his eyes filled with greed and exquisite taste. The glass box was an easy matter. He could just take it along with the set, as the Tesseract Labyrinth would have no trouble swallowing the whole thing into its unfathomable dimensions.

Either that, or let his pets break it.

"Uh…"

"Darling," the Collector said, stepping forward while Satan and Lucifer, those mechanical centipedes, crawled beside him. "I tell you this. Are you implying that you, a man who in most likelihood, has a family to feed, an ambition to reach, will willingly fight me? And for what? How much do these people pay you anyway? Minimum wage?"

Collector lazily tossed a black cube at the jewel set, causing the precious relics to disappear into a pocket dimension. "Word of advice, my dear. You shouldn't do for others what they aren't willing to do for you. For instance, fighting to the death. You know who I am, no? You know what I can do? Bullets simply… stop."

The security guard whimpered, though he still pointed his gun at the completely unfazed Collector.

"You know, with a face like that, my parents would be telling you to marry my sister," Collector said, giggling. As if in cue, Gloriana Hellas and Sol Invictus floated towards from elsewhere in the mansion, bearing news.

"Gold plates and vintage wine bottles have been found," Gloriana Hellas said in a monotone, robotic voice. "On the second floor."

"Most excellent, my love," the Collector said with an amused tone. He then looked back at the security guard, who was still standing there, scared. "How old are you? 20? 25? You have a long way to go, my good sir! I suppose that your cooperation and generosity should be rewarded here and now, no?"

"...what?"

"Oh, you misunderstand," the Collector said, taking out another of the cubes from his pocket. "Here, take a peak."

The Collector plunged his right hand into the cube, the point that he touched turning into a semi-liquid. He then pulled out a large, glowing ruby that reflected the light of the nearby chandeliers with absolute beauty.

"Glorious, isn't it," the Collector answered, holding out the ruby. "This is worth more than the salary you'll get in a whole year. Or your life, depending on how brain-dead your owner, err, employer is. Anyway, if you'd kindly just leave, you can have this."

Satan loomed behind the Collector, its mandibles excitedly clicking. Its eyes alternated between red, green, and yellow, as if they were a set of Christmas lights.

"Satan, don't scare him, can you?" The Collector chided the machine.

Satan looked dismayed, and crawled away. The Collector turned his attention back to the guard, who had his gun down now. Not waiting for anything else, the Collector took the man's hand, and placed the ruby on his palm.

"Go on now! Be free!"

Surely enough, the guard ran away, leaving his gun behind.

And so the ransacking continued. The Collector was very, very pleased.
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