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Asthylia Elu-Arasté
Asthylia Elu-Arasté
Asthylia Elu-Arasté
With each swing and each thought that fit itself neatly into place, Presidio began to realize just how different their circumstances might be from what they had initially been led to believe. Swallowing, she steeled her nerves, knowing that--truly--they would have to take some immediate and drastic actions to resolve things well on their end.

She began generating ever more shields, arranging another limb for her current array, but she found that it was getting difficult to manage so much all at once, if only because if she made the slightest mistake with her climb that she would fall...perhaps to a very sudden and grisly death if she didn’t react immediately. Fortunately, she hadn’t reached a crisis point such as that just yet. However, she had reached the edge of the building she’d initially began climbing and it was time to cross.

Gauging the distance precisely, with the use of intuited measurements and her extensive array of forcefields, the heroine set one of her limbs ahead and above her as she moved, and then released the others--pushing off backwards as she did and using the momentum of the swinging limbs to drastically increase her momentum. It was perhaps one of the most intensely dangerous things she had ever used her power for, yet it was also one of the most exhilarating and deeply engaging moments she had ever experienced. She held her breath as the incredible inertia of her movement pressed her back against the forcefields behind her, then at the point of greatest upwards and forwards thrust, she released her hold on the building, rocketing herself and the array of forcefields up and forwards. Immediately the limbs swiveled into their places, outer forcefields hit the building, rebounded, shattered, and were replaced, and then with the sensory knowledge she gained from that she caught onto the building with one, then two of the shield constructs before the other limbs swiftly began to move her further along.

Kari’s heart was in her throat and she found that for a brief moment she hadn’t breathed at all. Slowly she let out the breath she’d been holding, sweat beading and running down her skin here and there from the mental exertion of keeping all of the moving parts in smooth synchrony. Knowing now--on some intuitive level--the mechanics of going between buildings, Presidio knew she could do it again with similar finesse and less risk.

She did so and this time she managed not to lose her train of thought or hold her breath. Drawing on her memory, Presidio recalled the positions and rough distances between everything before it had all been hidden on the wayside of the buildings she was using to traverse their field of battle unobserved. All that in mind she knew that she was now roughly in line with the villainess’ location, if not at the exact same elevation.

That needed to change.

She began to ascend, abandoning forward momentum to focus on scaling the side of the huge skyscraper instead. However, after ascending a floor or two she heard several resounding snaps from somewhere past the buildings and she felt a brief flash of alarm as the noises became far more violent.

‘Her web is collapsing,’ she realized even though she had no idea why that would be the case. What was going on? Huffing out a breath, her jaw clenched as the tension and severity of the situation ratcheted up, Presidio called to her mind the rough elevation of the woman, related it to her own position. She realized that even if she got to the other side of the building within thirty seconds, that there was nothing she could do for anyone at the distance she’d be at. Thus, she kept climbing. Seconds later a terrible noise echoed past her and she swallowed. That could only have been the helicopter.

It was only after the noise quieted down that she realized she’d received orders from HQ. The shift in the nature of the encounter didn’t really change her course of action, but it did make her feel somewhat justified as she reached a point that she’d estimated was at least two stories higher than the villain’s position had been.

From there she clambered around to the side of the building, all the while her auxiliary shields applying pressure to various wires from different directions impeding their ability to get at her with any accuracy if the woman tried to stop her. SHe was poised to act, but as she saw the carnage of the helicopter’s fall to the street, got a bird’s eye view of everything, and considered her new orders she realized what was off.

Most people in situations like this would either lose their cool and do something truly rash or would have some kind of strategy--a plan--to turn the tables in their favor. Yet...this woman, this villain had had the upper hand from the beginning and she had not just squandered it, she had almost actively kept from doing anything further. Truly, like a spider in its web, she had waited for their arrival before saying or doing anything further. None of the woman’s actions had even attempted to harm, entrap, or further elevate her position, in fact...those few things she had done seemed to be ploys to delay. Even her most destructive act--destroying all the glass, vehicles, and other property on the street after their arrival--had been aimed so as not to touch anyone. It was a show of power, but not a show of willingness to truly enter hostilities.

The woman might be insane, but given their

Fuck, she whispered. It was in that moment that SWAT made his move, crossing the distance between himself and their target. “Fuck,” she exclaimed. Swiftly her eyes went to the hostages suspended in the air. Barely registering her own plan of action consciously, Presidio’s construct opened on one side, the shield levering itself out of her way.

She raised both her arms, aiming at two separate locations, then accounting for drag and distance, before the constructs encasing her arms unfurled into mechanisms resembling crossbows. They were loaded in the next half second, and fired in the moment after that, the shields behind her bracing her against the force of their release.

Neither bolt came anywhere near Spindle or SWAT, no they weren’t important. SWAT was acting against the instigator of this conflict and if she was buying for time and her power had been compromised--as it very well might be, considering SWAT’s suite of powers--she might act and in doing so unwittingly injure the people that they had come here to protect.

Presidio could not allow that. The two projectiles sailed each on their own trajectories, with a small lead of interlocked forcefields spooling out behind them, attaching back to the mechanisms on her arms. The open space at the front of her construct closed partially, leaving only enough opening so as not to catch the thread-thin constructions. The first of the arrows missed its target by several meters and then got tangled in a wider web of cord and wire, but she didn’t despair as she cut the connection and readied another. Meanwhile, the second projectile passed its mark by several feet and she triggered it. In a moment it unfolded and got caught in the net, this time intentionally. Immediately, forcefields began to appear from its form until they created a tenuous area under her control. Then, swiftly, more popped into existence, coming between the hostage and the many wires that held them aloft. Individually none of them could hope to hold the individual aloft, and even together they could hardly levitate them down to safety, but they didn’t have to. More formed, locked into others and binding many many wires in place as they did so.

Presidio moved, her larger array of weightless, mobile armor rounding the side of the building where it would loom ominously over the woman’s position. She fired another of her projectiles, guiding its flight a bit more this time now that she was in a better position, this time it went where she wanted and got caught as it tried to unfurl. Shields sprang up and began to do what she had done before. The limbs of her construct tensed, folding closer towards the building, pulling her with them.

Whatever happened, she hoped her efforts would be enough.
From her new vantage point Presidio really began to notice just how much their adversary had stacked the deck against them. The idea rankled her significantly, but she fought not to lose her composure, instead continuing to consider her options and any viable strategies. Of course, something was strange about the whole situation itself, something she couldn’t put her finger on. The feeling was only accentuated when Dart shot into motion, but the action didn’t frame it such that she could put all the pieces together seamlessly.

While her thoughts roiled about in a barely ordered storm she kept on, creating a new set of constructs. As she did something brought 4Sight’s earlier communication back into the foreground of her mind. She activated her comms with the gentle pressure of a shield, the action barely conscious.

4Sight, you said one of the hostages just...extricated themselves and went into an alley? That doesn’t...” her voice trailed off, but the rest of the statement was clear enough.

’That doesn’t make sense.’

Something about this wasn’t right. Her thoughts began to order themselves as she reconsidered things in a new light. Meanwhile her shields had begun to create what appeared to be five largely translucent oblong rectangular cubes. The reality however was different, as they were actually several jointed constructs neatly folded in on themselves. Within were what appeared to be gears, pistons, and other mechanical apparatus. Elsewhere in her vicinity, Presidio had extended numerous tiny forcefields, all thin and brittle, but incredibly maneuverable. They remained at random intervals, but all within 4 or 5 feet of the edge of her current range. They were arranged so that their presence didn’t actually reveal the outer bounds of her range, staggered as irregularly as she could manage. They were a sort of early warning system and they had taken residence around the entirety of her power’s outer perimeter from every angle, within reason. Fortunately they were translucent so they didn’t really block her vision at all, which was good. As she complexified her array of tools and countermeasures a thought popped into her head and she again activated her comms. Mere seconds had passed.

4Sight disregard that. Can you scout ahead between and on the faces of buildings near my current position? I don’t want to be ambushed like some of the hostages were. If it’s not too much effort, check inside some of the nearby buildings, with a focus on stairwells if possible.”

Deciding to really start taking risks, Presidio didn’t wait for his response, but instead began gradually picking up speed, controlling her breathing closely as she did. The arrangements of shields she had created followed her as if anchored in place around her person. Independent of that movement, the oblong cubes positioned themselves at different intervals around her, two below her, one to her right, and another above her. Then his response came.

"You are clear. No one and nothing in the stairwells, and the building faces don't have enough wire to trap you"

“Copy that. I’m going to try to close the distance; maybe remove her height advantage.” Her words were a bit breathy as she responded, her course changing as she headed directly for the right corner of the roof.

“Out of sight for a moment,” she managed as her heart swelled in her chest, her stomach leaped into her throat and she propelled herself in a jump more powerful than her body normally would have been capable of. For a moment there was only the rush of air and the elation of weightlessness, then she started falling.

In a moment of fear wrought clarity she acted and the constructs around her shifted into motion. First the shields near the edge of her range struck the building to her left, giving her a very clear image of its features as they deformed, shattered, or rebounded off of its surfaces. Second, the set of larger shields anchored to her person pulled inwards even as their hidden portions rotated outwards, increasing their diameter till they met, sealing her from the outside world in a near perfect sphere. Finally, third the five oblong cubes slammed inwards, impacting her spherical protections and engaging in earnest. Mechanisms extended out and latched or fit into grooves in the outer membranes of her shields before immediately unfolding into three jointed limbs, which ended in what appeared to be four digits.

The arms, in unfolding, extended outwards and before she had even been falling for more than two seconds, found purchase on the surface of the building. She held her arms out to either side of herself in the moment before, preparing herself for the jerk that arresting her momentum would cause. It came, but she only shifted slightly, her power allowing her to largely anchor herself in the center of her array of constructs while it moved.

Then she began climbing, but at a speed that would not have been humanly possible. She reoriented her body carefully as she did so, essentially laying on her back so she could see above and to the side of her better. The action caused her stomach to flip slightly, but she took a deep breath and held it a moment before releasing the tension. By all accounts her construct was holding together just fine. It helped greatly that the only weight it was bearing was her own. Reorienting again with a hissing breath she changed the construct’s motion slightly, moving forwards as well as up now.

As she adjusted to the strange mode of transit and acclimated to the capabilities of her construct, Presidio found her stride once more. Soon she would reach the edge of her building and have to jump to reach the next one. It was a harrowing thought, even though she knew she’d succeed barring outside interference.

Outside interference….

Her eyes narrowed and she returned to her earlier train of thought. While she was still reevaluating all the information, she now knew one thing for sure.

This incident was not as it seemed.
Intrusion, an outside force, another thinker.

Exactly’s eyes narrowed even as he took in the additional information about their powers and then a moment later the call he’d been keeping open abruptly ended. Glancing down as he lowered his phone, he blinked a moment before he broke into a sprint, keeping the villains in range, his largely undetectable duplicates staying out of sight even as they kept eyes and ears on the two.

Internally he considered getting closer and creating one they could perceive just so he could render them insensate, but he cast aside the notion immediately, knowing it was far too risky now that there were no witnesses. That meant that the two were even less beholden to the rules than they had been before, plus there was the man’s power to consider. He didn’t know the precise mechanisms for it, but he suspected that if he didn’t take the man out of the equation immediately with his first action, that it would almost instantly become a losing battle.

He didn’t like losing. Of course, it was less about the failure and much more about the consequences that such might entail in this instance.

Thinking quickly as he ran, making sure he remained safely out of sight, but still well within range, Exactly waited precious moments while he rebooted his phone. When it was restarted he made the call, using his speed dial for Penelope’s burner phone, a device to which only he had the number.

’C’mon, pick up,’ he silently urged. Using this number, she’d know immediately that something was up, especially considering he’d made a point of keeping track of her schedule on any given day. It was good for work and for their less legal dealings, as it were.

She needed to know that something bigger was going on.
Swallowing hard as she heard her supperior’s response, she simply nodded, continuing her work as she started forwards at a diagonal, going right. Her stride sped up, becoming a light jog before she hopped into the air and a set of forcefields buoyed her steps as she took additional hops, quickly climbing across a stairway of forcefields that either fell moments after she’d pushed off of them, or were shattered by the weight of her form and the force behind each step. Moments later she was on the shortest of the nearby buildings to the right of her former position alongside her teammates. Unsure if they would need her assistance, the heroine cast out a spool of sorts, throwing it with more force than she would have been capable of unassisted. A long, thin chain of interlocked forcefields unraveled as the spool flew towards her teammates. Not having locked the entirety of the shields, Presidio was able to easily guide and arrest the considerable momentum of the construct well before it reached her team. Having already turned away she activated her comms.

“One of you keep that on your person. If you stick together the presence of that construct--so long as the chain remains intact--will allow me to generate forcefields near you.” To punctuate the statement, additional forcefields began to pop into existence within inches of the spool, consolidating within several inches of it and moving to accommodate wherever one of her colleagues decided to place it amongst them.

Meanwhile, Presidio herself began to make her way upwards, all the while keeping an eye on the situation as best as she could. More importantly she kept an eye on the hostages and any wire that might be attempting to hide itself on the faces, roofs, or other surfaces of nearby buildings. After all, while she trusted the Director’s judgement, that didn’t mean it was perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

’Speaking of which,’ she thought even as the smaller components of her aura began to assemble themselves into more long thin chains, which then promptly affixed themselves to her armor and began radiating outwards as if she were a sun, and they her rays. As she moved them she locked many of them in, making them part of the larger construct of her armor. Similarly some of her larger constructs began to fit into one another like puzzle pieces, swiftly creating a suite of eight shields, which then arranged themselves at the ends of the long chains she was creating. Vaguely, the shape appeared as a perforated sphere, with many gaps in its make-up, though she would amend that soon enough. The individual shields themselves were roughly five feet in diameter, with each being an inch or so thick, with their outer surfaces being convex. Flexing her control faintly as she hopped, Kari felt the internal gears and mechanisms of the shields work, causing each to expand outwards a millimeter along its outer perimeter before returning to its original state.

Had she merely been practicing she might have smiled, but the severity of the situation overshadowed any joy she might feel at her work.

Instead all she experienced was a faint satisfaction and a sense of relief that her idea had worked.

As she continued her building, Presidio couldn’t help but doubt and hope, in equal measures, that she could truly make a difference.

With that thought she set foot on a taller building’s roof, sure to let forcefields remain in un locked state over the outer surface of her renovated armor, particularly on her feet. Now roughly four stories off the ground, Presidio knew that she’d have to do something soon.

What exactly she would do however, well that was a bit up in the air….
Watching carefully from his position, and that of every entrance of the building, Exactly waited until the villains had passed from his primary perceptions. Then, he moved. As he burst out the door the villains were far enough away to not catch the movement.

Back in the bank one of his duplicates spoke up, its words aimed at his monstrous ally, “I’m going to follow them. The authorities will be here in a few minutes at most. Though I’d love to work with you further, I doubt there’s any convenient way to keep in contact. So, until we meet again...I was never here.” At that, the duplicate turned, ran straight through a wall and then began moving faster than humanly possible. Once at the edge of his range, it shattered. Due to its distance from those who had perceived it, the deleterious effects of its dissipation were greatly diminished, becoming only a brief onset of confusion that quickly faded.

Of course, Kelly was already moving onto his next set of plans. As he passed through the gathering crowd of onlookers, jostling more than a few people in the process, he generated more duplicates, making sure that he left room for two more when and if necessary. The rest he used to further diminish the world’s ability to properly perceive him. That thinker had been able to tell where he was, but looking back on it, he’d only noticed him once he had been struck. To Exactly this meant one simple thing, if he were to act against the villain again, he’d have to take him out of the equation with his first strike.

Casting his duplicates out before him, he had them totally ignore obstacles, with two keeping closer to the pair of thieves. One of them some distance behind, the other some distance ahead. Meanwhile, the rest of his intangible clones remained firmly out of sight, either around corners, or within walls. Sometimes he would have one poke its head out for a better view. However, by and large he just used their other senses, particularly hearing, to lead him on the path of his adversaries and--furthermore--to inform them of any conversations they had.

He wasn’t disappointed in the least as he caught almost the entire conversation they had whilst in an alley. As they slowed, so did he, staying roughly half a block or so off their trail just to be safe. After all, he wasn’t sure how the thinker’s power actually worked. Of course, this didn’t mean that he wasn’t taking active steps to work against the villains. Chief among his measures was the phone call he’d just made, with the prominent numbers being 9-1-1.

With them wrapped up in their own conversation and the thinker’s mind--and hopefully power--no longer on him, he figured that he was safe to inform the authorities even further.

“9-1-1 what is your emergency,” the operator said in the way of greeting. Kelly smiled, “I’m currently in pursuit of a pair of capes, they were responsible for the bank robbery a few minutes ago, I saw them as they entered and managed to make my way out.” He continued on, stating the street and cross street as well as their exact location. While he didn’t give a name, he did state that he was a cape, and that his advice was to have them followed not by squad cars with sirens blaring, but instead by silent vehicles or even undercover ones.

When the operator tried to inquire further, he declined to answer any personal questions, deflecting instead with honorable intentions and well meaning statements. All the while he kept an eye out so he could hang up or hide if the villains somehow noticed his presence. If the police, First Guard, or Final Guard wouldn’t do anything, he’d make sure to track the pair down and take note of residences or hideouts that they had. If and when he took action he planned not to be alone and, more importantly, he planned to be prepared above and beyond what was necessary for the situation.

After a certain point he informed the operator that he would stay on the line as long as possible, but that he might be forced to hang up by circumstances. After that both went silent.

Though things were fairly serious he couldn’t quite help the smug grin that had spread its way across his features.
Well this is interesting. Just as Atrophy said, please hit me with a mention when things get going again.
With each passing second Presido’s suite of forcefields became more extensive and she put them to use generating numerous constructs. Most apparent were the arrows and thin chains she was generating, whereas many of the other forcefields simply floated around her, their purpose yet to be defined.

While she worked her gaze scanned the surroundings, the shock of the villainesses display wearing off only to be replaced by a discerning eye. Most notably Kari found the damage the larger wires had done to any of the metal they’d struck. That information was something she found exceptionally useful and so she acted on it immediately, shifting the makeup of her armor by unlatching or affixing various components, creating empty spaces therein. At frightening speed shields swept into the armor and began deforming, shifting to fit the holes, increasing the armor’s density and complexity. At the same time she noted SWAT’s earlier request and so quickly assembled a much more barebones version of her armor, fit to his person. To keep the construct from decaying outside of her influence, she utilized one of the thin chains she’d been generating, increasing its length to a ludicrous degree before affixing it to something like a spool at his left hip. She included a series of shields that weren’t locked in and could slip into place or manipulate the movement of the chain with greater ease, she kept these pieces in the central portion of the construct, their like defended by the more durable shields around them.

Her work on his protection done she watched as he and Slingshot made their way to the roof, nodding when they were safely there. As she averted her gaze it slipped across a quite unwelcome sight, that being what was hopefully an independent cape stepping up to speak to the day’s spectacle. In almost no time at all wires rose up and around the figure, largely enclosing them. She frowned. Did this mean that the women had yet another hostage? Why had they so brazenly offered themselves up, were they even an ally, or were they perhaps aligned with the enemy? It was hard to say.

Each development and piece of information, including 4Sight’s intel, almost seemed to paint the situation as something worse than she’d initially thought. It was frustrating and she honestly wasn’t sure how to take action without either finding herself caught in yet another of the woman’s snares or even directly endangering the hostages. Worse still was the fact that this particular event appeared to be the cape’s debut. In short, that meant that they had nothing on her except for what they learned through this encounter.

Thus, beset with indecision she turned to 4Sight, looking for guidance.

“Do we have a plan of attack? Are we awaiting results from SWAT? Do you have a plan?” As she spoke just the barest thread of anxiety made its way into her expression, apparent in the downsloping of her eyebrows and the faint wrinkling around her eyes.

As much as she was itching to take action, she was frozen by the promise of harm that the villainess had delivered unto them.

How could she risk their wellbeing without any assurance that her actions would amount to anything?

It was an impossible question, as far as she was concerned….
Things happened almost too fast for him to process, with his target’s actions being not at all in line with his expectations. What?! he briefly exclaimed internally, only for the immediate realization to hit him a moment after. Thinker power. He grit his teeth and took deep breaths, reassessing the whole situation as his heart stuttered at the gaze--and gun--leveled upon him. It seemed, somehow, that his actions--and the irrational anger that had driven some of his decision making--had landed him squarely in a situation to which he was unaccustomed. Moving fractionally he found that his adversary’s gaze adjusted accordingly to match, Exactly discovered that he was well and truly at a disadvantage. Frowning to himself he lowered his weapons slowly, not sure if the villain could properly perceive him or not.

His power told him he could generate a duplicate, but he had a strong feeling that doing so would not facilitate him getting into a better position. Given how the cape before him had reacted--in every encounter thus far--he had a reasonable suspicion that the man had some kind of combat thinker power. Troublesome.

Deciding to give him nothing, Exactly remained motionless as his eyes darted around the room, considering the people who could currently perceive his other duplicates. The one he’d sicced on the man had ‘landed’ on the counter and now remained largely stationary, though its gaze gave him access to a greater understanding of the bank’s layout. The other duplicates he had active were visible by a civilian and by his only present ally. His frown deepened before suddenly an idea struck him. Suddenly, the first duplicate he’d generated sprinted out of and through the doors of the building outside of which were many onlookers. The nature of his power meant that they rationalized the frankly impossible actions of the duplicate. Swiftly, the duplicate began accosting people, making absolute sure the authorities had been called. It turned out that the police had been, but they were secondary, so he made sure someone else--through fear or apparent obligation--notified the Final and First Guard respectively all the while insisting that he did not have a phone on his person.

Eventually he got someone to relay incredibly detailed physical descriptions of both capes. All the while he remained motionless and silent within the bank, by all rights totally compliant with the villain’s request--albeit totally invisible. Similarly, he managed to get his unknowing accomplices outside to notify the authorities that hostages were involved and that both capes had actively threatened the lives of people inside. He relayed how they’d entered and as many other details regarding their actions--and what he’d observed of their powers--to the best of his ability.

In the same moments he directed another duplicate out the ‘entrance’ that the villains had made for themselves and then had them move at normally impossible speeds around the perimeter of the building, zipping between exits. He would know which way they exited and so long as they remained within his range, he could easily track them back to wherever they decided to hole up after their apparent success.

So it was that Exactly waited in smug silence for the rest of their actions, secure in the knowledge that he’d just gained an advantage in not the battle, but rather...the war.
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