CLOSED SIGNUPS Gods Fall Down

Jhuton

The 430th Ghost Lord
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Metro City, August 4, 2046

The Red Blitz was no average supe, not even close. His star was by far one of the brightest on the Heroes United roster. He was one of their top tier supes that whole cities would rage lucrative bidding wars over. The man who could soar like an eagle. The man who could strike the air with such forceful precision it would ignite the oxygen like a match. And not least among his attributes was a face that would fit right in at the louvre. He was excluxive. He was powerful. And he was disgustingly rich. This was the kind of Supe who would make the career of any reporter who could score an interview with him, and here I was, floating down from the clouds and clinging to him for dear life. Super strength might have been one of his powers, but I wasn't about to fall out of the sky and get pancaked in the middle of nowhere just before I got the promotion I'd been working toward for so long.
My feet touched ground and I let out a quiet sigh of relief. As soon as I was out of his arms he was flashing me that signature, thousand megawatt grin of his.

'What's the matter Miss Hanes, don't trust me?' It sounded innocent enough. But I knew it was anything but.

'I trust you plenty Red,' I shot back my own patented smile. The one that said I was a ditzy airhead who didn't already know his game. The same game he'd played with a hundred girls before me. I'd done my research on the Red Blitz before I scored this interview. I knew how he worked. The womanizing supe who brought starstruck girls and 'desperate reporters' like me to his secret spot for routine seduction. But I wasn't here to write a puff peice on a hard to catch supe. I was here to flesh out the editorial that would put a huge dent in his career and propel mine toward an office on the top floor.

Everyone wants to get close to a supe one way or another.

I took a look around and noticed he'd brought me to a cliff overlooking downtown. There were trees and bushes to the back of us. The foliage was thick enough that I knew the only comfortable way back would be flying with him again. There would be no hasty escapes tonight.

'Take a look, Miss Hanes,' He said. 'This is the only place in this city that isn't made out of metal. And the one place where you find the best view of HQ you'll ever get.'

I stepped closer to the edge and confirmed his statement. The city lights looked stunning from up here. Metro City was nothing short of a modern day marvel and it's crowning jewel was the building that towered above all the rest. As sleek and important looking as a skyscraper could get. Even from here I could see the logo clearly. Heroes United HQ.

I was fairly certain Red Blitz was about to launch into his usual speech about how wealthy he was, how great it was to stroll the halls of Heroes United. How lucky I was to be here with him. But he didn't get the chance before there was a sudden, ear shattering boom from above. I looked up to see the smaterring of cumulus clouds in the moonlit sky being wiped away by what I could only describe as a pillar of fire. I couldn't see where it was coming from, but it was coming fast.

'What the fu-,' was all the Red Blitz managed to get out before the beam hammered down on the Heroes United building. The explosion spread out into the city like a flood. It was consuming everything. Coming right for us. When the blistering shockwave wave finally hit us like a truck and knocked me off my feet I knew we were in trouble. We weren't out of range and the fires wouldn't stop. But Red Blitz could save us both from whatever this was, I was sure. He could turn back the flames or fly us away. He was a supe. He had to be able to do something right? But he just stood there, just as frozen by shock as I was on the floor. He stood there staring out at the destruction right up until the fires consumed him too.

The realization was all too real. Red Blitz was dead. I was dead. This was the last thing I would ever see before the flames ate into me. The last thing I would ever know before fire tore me apart. We'd been saved from impossible situations so many times that it was hard to confront the truth even in the face of death. But a hard to swallow reality was still reality.

Just like the rest of us, Gods Fall Down.


...reports are coming in that there has indeed been a terrorist attack on Metro City-

...multiple casualties have already been reported with the numbers expected to rise-

...NASA has confirmed the unidentified craft has docked just outside earth's atmosphere-

...we've finally made first contact. And may god have mercy on us all.
 
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Jhuton

The 430th Ghost Lord
Original poster
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One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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Genres
Fantasy, Horror, Magic, Apocalyptic, Adventure, Demon
Von wrapped his arms around himself to try and ward off the chill seeping into his bones. The city was cold at night and even the burning debris that littered the street couldn't warm him up. There was a half empty bottle of whiskey stashed away in his bag for whenever the cold got a little too sharp. The other half was swishing around inside his stomach like fire and slowly spreading out around his body. His father had never approved of drinking. He always said 'alchohol could turn the brightest scholar into a drunken fool'. Von had always held his father's words as gospel, but his father was dead, so what did it matter now?

It had been four months. Four months since they'd buried the excavated remains of Val Allen, The Indestructable, in a closed casket. Von knew he was lucky. Some of the victims of the Metro City attack had never been recovered, supes included. Their loved ones would never be able to say goodbye.

Almost as if on cue, he felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. He knew even before he pulled it out what the caller ID would read. He was only proven right when he saw his mother's smiling face lighting up the screen. For a moment he was tempted to answer, but the thought passed almost as soon as it came. What would he say to her? Hey mom, you just lost your husband in a targeted attack on superheroes, and now your only son who's always said no to that life is diving in headfirst at the worst possible time. No, he could never do that to her. She was in mourning as much as he was. Val Allen had been her husband longer than he'd been Von's dad. He wouldn't pile more worry on top of her grief. The phone's vibration cut off and he stuffed it back into his pocket.

Von had told his mother he was going back to the university when he'd left home, but instead he'd made his way to Las Vegas. There was someone in Sin City he'd been tracking for weeks and he was closer now to the ferrety man than he'd ever been. The streets of Vegas were as much a mess as everywhere else probably was right now. People were out on the streets in their numbers. It was the same thing everyday. Riots after nightfall and the calm reprieve of daybreak. With every step Von took he could feel the crunch of broken glass from display windows under his boots. Every street block he got through without someone trying to mug him was a miracle in itself. The fire department was overworked and the combined effort of police, the military and even a few neighbourhood watches were being beaten down by the hysteria driven masses. At the rate they were going it was possible they would destroy themselves long before there visitors from above ever made a second move. Maybe that was the plan all along. Von dismissed that line of thought and kept on moving. He didn't need to be thinking about those things up there. The things that had killed his father.

It wasn't long before he reached his stop. A decrepit, broken down motel that was just as seedy on the inside as it was outside. He found the number he'd come looking for hanging lopsided on a door that had been left ajar. He was expected. That wasn't too surprising. The man he came here to see was an information broker after all. They said he knew things no one was supposed to. Von's father had used him from time to time when he was still street level. Von pushed into the room and shut the door behind him.

The man inside was maybe in his mid forties, as best as Von could tell. It was a hard forty. In the dim light he could see the scars crisscrosing the man's face and a tapestry of deep frown lines etched into his forehead. He was wearing a leather eyepatch and Von wasn't sure if it was decorative or hiding the worst of his scars. Everything about this place made him uncomfortable, but he'd already gotten this far.

'You're a hard man to find Peter Malcom,' Von stated flatly. He tried to keep his nerves out of his voice.

'You say that name out loud again and we're done here.' His tone was very matter-of-fact, and Von nodded in understanding before Malcolm continued.

'The UN set up a research base back in Metro. Super secret type stuff. They're not trying to get an encore performance from our friends out there. I hear they're trying to figure out the ETs at that station. They're looking in what it was they fired at us. Maybe even how to kick their asses back to wherever the hell they came from. If you wanna join up that's where you go.' He paused for a moment to light up a cigarette and take a deep drag. Von tried not to breathe in the smoke. Alchohol was as far as he would go for now. 'Gotta warn you though, kid. Supes like you been turning up dead all over. Or just not turning up at all. Those things are down here, and they're hunting.'

Von nodded. He dropped an envelope on a cracked coffee table before turning to leave. He got what he wanted and he was itching to get out of the small, hazy room. If Metro City was where he would find the frontlines, then that's where he'd go next.

'Hey kid,' Malcolm called, stopping him in his tracks. 'Your old man, he was a good guy. I'm sorry what happened to him.' Von was shocked for a moment before he gathered his wits. This man had his ears to the ground 24/7. It was no suprise he would know who was under a few masks. Von tipped his head at the man and headed back to the streets. He had his objective. A chance to fight back and get his revenge. If he could help beat those things, maybe he could get the closure his father's funeral hadn't brought him.

The buzzing in his pocket resumed and he pulled out his phone with a new resolve. He loved his mother, but he was about to be in the bad graces of some very bad creatures. Creatures that would be hunting him down from the sounds of things. He couldn't put her in harms way. His fist closed around the phone and he squeezed hard, before dropping the mess of plastic, glass and circuits on the street.
 
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Lone_Wanderer

Edgebabby
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Peter woke up much earlier to the sound of gospel music than he'd like. He reached for the pillow that he was comfortably spooning and slammed it against his ear, trying to repress the noise. Sleep was one of his few escapes since the incident, but on Sunday mornings his mother's worship overthrows any right to that. His room was still pitch black, smelling of faint BO, aftershave, and food that was out for way too long. It smelled just like home to him. For a split second he fell victim to his dream world, and all was at peace. He could see Marie, she was mad. Mad that his room was such a mishmash of garbage. She flailed her free arm at him while holding a old pizza box in the other, cursing, questioning how could such a popular hero be such a slob.

"Are you even listening to me?" She marched to the window.

"Wake up!" Alas, a dream is nothing but that.

The blinds swung open, and the room was illuminated by the morning sun. Peter's eyes were already open, and he wiped the tears that always seem to accompany the dreams of her. His mother, a sixty-five year old woman that looked twenty years younger, stood by the curtains and looked away somberly. She knew why he would cry, everyone knew, but it was the elephant in the room that they simply refused to speak about since the funeral. That was a depressing evening, where everyone gathered for an empty casket. Her remains were nowhere to be found, along with many other victims of the attack that effected the Metro City hospital.

Peter sat up lethargically running his fingers through his jet black hair, "Good morning mum."

"Go on then," She shooed him with her hand, "Git' out of bed, git on out of here. Room won't clean itself I spose. Quite the boggin mess, really, I raised you far better than this," His mother truly never changed. She's always been a strong-willed, pious woman, and the death of her youngest only made her faith in god stronger. She retained her thick North Ireland accent, something Peter had somewhat lost since he moved to the states long ago.

He hobbled out of bed, prepped himself for his morning jog, and stepped outside. His father was sweeping the front porch while listening to the radio. The world was never the same since they arrived. Whatever the hell they were. The UK government claimed they were extraterrestrials risking the very livelihood of human kind, but some religious groups began to rise up claiming that those things were god's angles coming to punish us for our sins. Peter could only thank god his mother wouldn't fall for such superstition. He simply couldn't wrap his mind around how a god would want to kill those that stop crime.

"Going for a wee run Pete?" His father, now in his late seventies, said in a raspy mumble, balancing a cigar between his lips, "Take care out there, things aren't good for people like you."

"Don't know what it is your talking about, Pa," Peter grinned, pulling the hood over his head, "I'll be back before lunch."

He was about three miles in when he felt it. He felt as though he was being watched from somewhere, which shouldn't be something out of the norm. It wasn't like he was alone, no, he was running in a park. Kids were playing on the playground, a group of teenagers were arguing about who committed a foul on the soccer field, and there were a number of other people on their morning jogs. But the cold eyes he felt on his skin wasn't that of some passerby. No, someone or something was staring directly at him. Despite the uneasiness he felt Peter took his usual break on a park bench to gather his breath. He sat down, removed the headphones from his ears, and attempted to gather his breath with long inhales. It was a nice Winter day, the sun was out so it wasn't too cold, but there was still snow melting away on the ground. He loved the cold season, but for some reason his bones ached far more than usual. His body crackled like that of a fifty year old with arthritis, the alien attack took a toll on his body for sure.

"There you are." Pete's eyes opened wide, being caught by surprise before relaxing at the familiarity of the voice. He looked slightly to his right at the older gentleman in a trench coat and top hat. He had a newspaper on his lap, and odd rectangular glasses that rested at the edge of his nose. "Bones, Missing in Action. It's fairly hard to recognize you out of costume you know?"

"What do you want?" Peter asked, crossing his leg in an attempt to look as natural as possible, "Why were you following me?"

"I had to wait for the perfect moment to get to you, couldn't have anything appearing too obvious, wouldn't want to put us at risk now would we?" He flipped to another page, "The UN sent myself and other agents to gather the troops. Did you truly believe we wouldn't do anything about what happened?"

It felt like something lodged into Peter's throat, he couldn't breath. Silence followed the statement. Both men sitting there for a couple minutes, "Where are we rallying?"

"Metro City. The world doesn't know who Bones is, but we do. If you don't feel like returning you could hide away in your hole and retire in peace. But I think you know that I know you're better than that Petey." He licked his thumb and index, flipping the page, "Not many of those we're recruting are experienced Heroes, as you know most of our best died that day. In fact, one of the individuals we're targeting isn't even a hero. They could use someone like you. Someone with experience."

"Mr.A, you know I-" He gripped onto his sweats with uncertainty, "They don't need me, my ability has taken a massive hit, I'm sorry." He stood up and began walking away, but the old gentlemen stood up slowly, holding his aching back with one hand.

"Your sister is alive, Pete."

He froze, and looked back slowly, "What?"

"She's not in good shape, but she's alive. With your help, we may be able to to help her further, if we could figure out what this thing is we can figure out how to save her. If you're in, we expect to see you at Metro City tomorrow, if not your sister will most likely succumb to her wounds." Mr. A tipped his hat, "I'm sure I'll see you there Petey."

Peter's dark brown eyes were lost in disbelief. He wanted to cry, but couldn't, no not here, not knowing that Marie is still out there. He gave a confident nod, a new resolve grew and he could feel it taking over his being. It was time to get revenge, time to save his baby sister. Do what he couldn't the first time around. Explaining this return to Metro city will worry his parents, but he decided it will all be worth it in the end. They couldn't know about Marie yet, but if Peter can come back successful, they could all be together again. Retirement is over, Bones is back.
 

Ariel

Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo
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Redfield International Airport, Metro City

Back when Redfield International was being built, people had complained that it was too far from the city - over an hour's drive to get anywhere near the city centre. As it turned out, that distance had saved the airport, and possibly any number of lives in the wake of the massive disaster back in August. When the blast destroyed Heroes United HQ and took half the city with it, Redfield had been spared, and its continued existence had been crucial in funneling the vast amounts of aid required in the aftermath.

Even now, months on, it was crowded with military transports and civilian cargo aircraft. With the city devastated, there wasn't terribly much business or vacation traffic, so the arrival of a chartered scramjet direct from Japan was something of an event. Officially, it carried a delegation of Japanese aid workers and support staff; more confidentially, among those workers were several representatives of Japanese government, including a pair from the Foreign Ministry. But known only to a very few among the UN Metahuman Affairs Directorate, one of that pair was a metahuman - a supe. This person was to be the Japanese contribution to the top secret UN research team at Ground Zero, where Heroes United HQ had once stood.

Colonel Weller and Agent Niles scanned the passengers exiting the immigration and security check zone, looking for their counterparts. Most of the arrivals were brisk, middle-aged professionals, crisply dressed in the charcoal-grey suits that were almost a uniform for Japanese delegates, men and women alike. The contact was supposed to be a bit more youthful, but -

"Hiya!" a high-pitched voice piped up, echoing across the cavernous arrival hall. A young girl with fluorescent pink hair in an artistically messy ponytail flounced up, the soles of her sneakers squeaking on the polished floors. She was dressed a little more... flamboyantly... than the rest of the crowd, in a tanktop and open red shirt over cutoff denim shorts that had to be leaving her freezing in the cold December air.


She didn't seem to show any signs of being cold, though. In fact she seemed positively bubbly, waving a cup of some frozen beverage as she approached.

"Wow, it's just like they say, Americans like their coffee sweet!" she declared to no-one in particular. "This Christmas frappe thing is bomb, though. Maybe I should have just asked for four pumps of syrup instead of six. Oh well. Hey - " she stopped right in front of Colonel Weller and shoved her drink at him, the straw barely missing his left nostril. "- wanna sip?"

There was a beat of silence as the two UN-MAD officials adjusted to the latest shift in reality.

It was broken by a giggle.

"Oh, come on," the girl cried out. "Don't be so stuffy. I thought American people were supposed to be looser than Japanese! It's gonna be no fun at all if everyone's like this all the time!"

Agent Niles adjusted her jacket and took a step forward. "Um... perhaps you've mistaken us for someone else, Miss...?"

The girl closed her eyes for a moment, as if deep in thought. "Eh... nope. You're Agent Jessica Niles of UN-MAD and this is Colonel Franklin Weller, USMC retired and now senior military consultant for UN-MAD." Her eyes snapped back open, glowing amber. "And I'm Kisaragi Mika from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan."

She took a sip of teeth-achingly sweet confection.

"Guess the stuffed shirts must have sent you that official photo of me, right?" she huffed. "They made me take out all my piercings and dye my hair black! Took a month to get it back to this colour again. Well, sorry about the confusion, but yeah, this is how I look in real life."

"So... where's your car? We've got a lot to do."
 

Quake

For the Audience of One.
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“In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Von Farbe Manor // Grand Dining Room


Loneliness was not something Edward was particularly used to. His entire life was spent in performance, surrounded by fellow performers and stagehands at his beck and call. He had always had someone to listen to him; to guide and advise his path; to listen to his jokes or guess the answer of his latest riddle. And yet for the past three months, Edward had been alone, scouring the Earth in search of a portal home. The Von Farbe Manor, which he and has family called home, was not a simple compound one could simply stroll up to. It was, in fact, an entire estate housed in a pocket dimension managed by Baba, the elder of the family. There were only a few entrances scattered across the world, and as they moved every few years to avoid discovery, getting home was never an easy task. It had taken the Rainbow Magician many days to locate the closest portal, and even longer to get to it. Now, as he sat at the dining room table soaked in sea water, the young family head couldn’t help but smile to himself. It felt good to be home. Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived. As Edward took his second bite of lunch, the dining room doors flung open as if propelled by some otherworldly force.

“Grandmother!” Edward rose from his seat, rushing to greet his elder before being stopped with a dismissive wave. Barbara Von Farbe, nicknamed Baba, was the head of the Von Farbe family and the most powerful family magician to ever exist. Here mere presence demanded both fear and respect. Nearly seven hundred years old, she had guided the Von Farbes throughout much of their late history and was regarded with the utmost respect.

“Must you drip all over the floor, Edward?” Baba’s voice was filled with contempt, much more than usual. It was clear her mood was extremely sour.

“It’s good to see you too, Baba,” Edward half heartedly smiled, returning to his meal. “And you must forgive me, but you did place the nearest portal at the bottom of the sea.”

“I did that for a reason…” she grumbled to herself before taking her seat at the head of the table. “Very well... I must say I'm surprised you returned… I thought you were lost when Metro City was destroyed.”

“Fortunately, I was out of the country. I had a show in London and one in Algeria, followed by-...” Edward trailed off, realizing by his grandmother’s expression just how little she cared. The two shared a tense moment of silence, and Edward couldn’t help but notice how quiet it had been since he had arrived home. After what seemed like an eternity, the young mage finally asked the one question he’d had on his mind for the past four months: The one question he already knew the answer to. “Did anyone else-…?”

Baba shook her head silently, her piercing black eyes burning a hole through the young man’s soul. Edward swallowed, trying to clear the growing lump in his throat. His spirit was crushed. He knew that survival was unlikely, but he hadn’t heard any news about any of his family being found after the attack. Thus he had maintained hopes that perhaps they had made it to the Metro portal before the attack. It was all that had kept him going.

“They are all gone. Every. Single. One. It is only you and I that remain. Disgusting, isn't it? Me, in my glory, left with...you. A cockroach who refuses to die. The others had so much potential, and yet they are gone now. And yet here you are. Perhaps this is some sort of sick joke from the Cosmos..." By this point, Baba was speaking more to herself than Edward, and yet the Rainbow Magician felt every word.

“I should have been here...”

“And done what, exactly?” Baba questioned, a sneer dancing on her lips. “You are no hero, even if the public says you are. You are a performer. A charlatan! The greatest magician alive!” Baba’s mockery was all to clear. “...But not a hero.”

“You never did approve of my choices...” Edward muttered, focusing on the last bits of his meal.

“The Von Farbes are heroes first!” Baba screeched, her sudden anger startling Edward and shaking the dining room table. “Performers second! It has been this way for 1000 years for a reason. For reasons like world wars, plagues, calamities, villainous attacks! For reasons like Metro City! You are a selfish boy who chose playthings and fun over the lives of the family and the greater public! I have seen the way you act out there. The fool character that you portray! You make a mockery of everything our family is and stands for!”

“Oh H-how rich!” Edward stammered, springing up from his seat at the table in a fit of hot rage, tossing his fork across the room. “The only reason you continue to exist is because you are too afraid to leave this cursed dimension! You have not seen the real world for over 400 years!” Edward hissed. “You just sit here in this ageless palace of yours and plague the minds of your children, making them believe this dream of being heroes. You watch as Von Farbe after Von Farbe rises to hero and falls to their demise at the hands of some cruel death! Forgive me, but I did not wish to see an early grave!”

“No, you did not! You would just send the rest of us to ours.”

Those words cut through Edward like a stake through the heart. He knew they were said in anger, but he also knew they held a measure of truth. Had his cowardice really cost him the lives of his family?

“Baba, I am sorry but-"

“Gather your possessions, Edward.” Baba’s anger had suddenly ceased, if only to turn ice cold as she rose to leave. “I will open a portal to the city for you. Consider it a parting gift. Once you step through, you will never be allowed to return to this place. Perhaps then I will be allowed to mourn the last of the family’s heroes in peace.”
 

Ur Degaton

Ashes To Ashes
Havencroft Meta-human containment center, Metro City outskirts


shortly following the devastation of Metro City, all former and already incarcerated meta-human criminals were arrested and or relocated to Havencroft to be interrogated in possible connection to the attack. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, even after the true enemy had been revealed, the government had yet to release the meta-humans from the facility.



“For the last time I didn’t—“ Before Nikolai could finish his sentence a bruised and calloused fist collided with his face, sending him flying into the wall of his cell.

“Shut the hell up you goddamn freak! I should’ve known you would pull something like this off,” The assailant yelled as he began kicking him while down

“O-Officer Martinez please, there’s no evidence suggesting that he was responsible or even directly related to the attack, M-Mr. Ward has been an invaluable asset of Metro City for seven years, and has in that time never committed any sort of crime.”

Officer Martinez stops his assault and looks to the source of the voice. It was a formally dressed yet nervous looking woman wearing a pair of glasses and holding a large binder filled with countless files. As soon as the cop looked at her she froze up like a deer caught in headlights

“With all due respect Agent Sanders,” Martinez replies curtly while hefting a disoriented Nikolai up by his collar and pinning him to the wall. “This scum is the only person in Metro City capable of creating something that can cause such massive destruction, I don’t buy that alien crap the government is feeding us.”

Martinez looks back to Nikolai with a vengeful glare. “My wife died in that explosion you son of a bitch, you might as well confess now or I’ll beat the truth out of you.” As the officer raises his fist to continue the beating, Nikolai smiles darkly despite having a bloody nose and a mouth full of blood.

“I remember you, your full name is officer Daniel Martinez, your wife was a supe wasn’t she?” Nikolai’s smile grew wider as Martinez adopted a look of confusion.

“I believe she went by the name Bombshell, am I correct? And she had the power to generate explosions, right? Ironic isn’t it? She was killed by the very thing she controlled, and there was not a single thing you could do about it.”

Nikolai sneered as Martinez stared at him in shock. But before the officer could get his bearings he spits a glob of blood into his face, blinding him and giving the ex-villain enough time to quickly and methodically take the gun from his holster.

“You mother-“ Officer Martinez wiped the blood off his face, only to end up looking down the barrel of a Glock.

“You along with the staff of this facility have unlawfully kept me and others here despite it already being proven that the ones behind the attack aren’t even human, now I suggest you stay in this cell while I excuse myself from the premises.”

Martinez didn’t dare move as Nikolai took his keys and walked out of the cell, before promptly closing the steel door and locking it.

Agent Sanders quivered in fear as Nikolai turned to her.
“Now Ms. Sanders, you’re going to be my hostage, and you’re going to walk me out of here like a good little hostage, am I correct?”

The nervous wreck of a woman quickly nods her head. Her legs were shaking uncontrollably and her heart was beating so fast that if it got any faster it would probably burst out of her chest.

This was by far the worst day she’s had since joining the FBI.
 

Cresion Breezes

Beta Tester of Life
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Cresent Hill Cemetary, Metro City Outskirts

A cemetery on a December evening was always dusty, even if the air was clear as crystallines. The sunset that washed over the hilled burial ground stretched rows upon rows of longed shadows that tailed behind tombstones, making some sort of cross-stitch of human mortality. On the stretched shadows stood a boy, his face buried deep in his winter jacket and hoodie. The hooded child leaned against one of the tombstones, his eyes narrowing as they were blistered by the rays of the setting sun.

Nathaniel Tollens
2017-2041
"The luminous one."

The words on the tombstone still felt unreal to him, probably because they are literally lies. It has been expanded since Nathaniel was last here, he recalled that his grave was the only one buried with an empty casket just four months ago. Now there are dozens, with more always coming. The boy sighed deeply and decided to leave, he had always come here when he wasn't sure what to do, but visiting your own grave can't be a healthy thing to do.

"Excuse me!" Before his small legs could carry him far enough, a shout could be heard from behind. A rugged-looking man followed up with Nathaniel, "what are you doing out here kiddo?". The newcomer asked him politely. After the attack, and even before it, Nathaniel had to deal with various kind-hearted people who want to help him due to his newfound appearance. At this point, it was really more bothersome than anything else. "...what else do you do in a place like this?" The boy's voice was eerily calm for his age as he eyed the tombstone he was previously leaning on.

"I see, I'm sorry for your..." The other man's voice trailed off as he read the engravings on the stone, he had previously assumed this was due to the attack, but the date is written there suggested something else. A chilling winter breeze gusted across the cemetery, and swept off the boy's hood, revealing the strange duel toned hair he had. The man blinked a few times before finally asking, "...are you, related to Nathaniel Tollens...Luminary?"

"It would be hard to deny a relation. But I'm more surprised that someone still knows that name." The last time Nathaniel checked, his relevance was pretty much buried with his empty casket, he doubted anyone would remember incidents like that after the attack. It made him on edge, though it was more instinct than anything else. "It's hard to forget a Supe who's corpse was never found," the other replied before quickly adding, "before all of this, of course." The sun slowly slithered down the city's skyline as the faint orange light in the air grew darker and darker, continuously, like the man's words. "There have been some rumors about sightings of him, even after his supposed death."

Nathaniel pulled his hood back on, even if he knew it was pretty pointless and took half a step back. "I thought you would be happy to hear that, you look quite like his family, after all, the resemblance really is uncanny." The sky is now washed in a deep blue to purple hue, "I don't recall him having a younger family member though, it's hard to miss what goes on in that family." Nathaniel glanced at the horizon line out of the corner of his eye, and watched as the sun sunk behind it. The moment its rays began to fade from the land, the child did a heel turn and flipped right behind the nearest tombstone. Immediately the sound of bullets pelting stone could be heard.

"Visiting your own grave? What kind of narcissistic masochist does that?" Buying time until the sun goes down, of course. Nathaniel thought as he glanced at his cellphone's lock screen, before jumping another tall tombstone. "Narcissistic I suppose, I thought you were a die-hard fan." Holding the phone in his hand while weaving in the dark shadows of the stones, the boy called out to his attacker, "I am flattered though, still sending people even when the world is like this, I'm starting to sympathize with the guys up there, humanity sure has problems, huh?"

The final words of the sentence shifted abruptly in tone, from a high-pitched child's voice to one that is clearly of an adult male's. At the same time, the attacker was hit right on the shoulder with an object, upon inspection, he realized it was a smartphone...with its flashlight turned on. In a split second the ray of light from the device formed into a blade that thrusted through the man's shoulder, causing him to drop the pistol. The phone fell to the ground with the weapon, and another dagger projected out of the pure white background lock screen, right into the attacker's ankle. Nathaniel Tollens, now the same height as his opponent, stood up from behind his cover and kicked the gun away.

"W-wait!" There was no hesitation though, the two blades in the attacker's body dissipated and reconverged into a longer one in Nathaniel's hand. "Your body, there's a way to fix-" Those words did peak the annoyed meta-human's interest, he withdrew the blade away from the man slightly. "The city, there's a base where all the old supes and techs are gathering, they'll welcome you, they'll help you-". The crystalline blade disappeared as Nathaniel let go of the man. "I suppose you got that intel from the same place you learned about me." The man took a few steps back, "which means it's accurate." He smiled as he picked up the cellphone, waving it at his informant, the other turned around and ran down the road.

Nathaniel turned the phone on again and looked at the digital time displayed, the number ticked into a new hour and a few streetlights along the road flickered on, those that weren't too severely damaged. Down the road, a scream of pain that was soon silenced could be heard, as Nathaniel's body dissipated just like the lustrous weapons did, leaving the hooded child beside his own tomb once more.

The boy shifted over to the pistol that he had kicked away, picked it up, and fumbled with it a bit before putting it into his coat. Then proceeded to head down the road in the opposite way.
 

neptune

ロングファービー
SECURITY DEPARTMENT
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Civilian Shelter 003, Metro City

The last four months were a painful blur. One minute she a normal college student, going through the motions of coursework and a minimum wage job at a cafe and now, Missy Pfifer was homeless. Her grandmother’s neighborhood had been blown off the map in the powerful shockwave that followed the attack on Heroes United HQ. The only home she had ever known, along with the only family she had ever know, was now just a smoldering hole in the ground. Missy thought she knew loss before, but abandonment didn’t compare to such a brutal, unexpected death. There wasn’t even a body to bury; Grandma Pearl was just some statistic.

Life in the shelter wasn’t all bad. Through her grief, Missy found ways to be productive, and she had grown close to a woman named Carla, who helped out in the kitchen at meal time. It was often that Missy found herself behind the counter, hair net on and ladle in hand as she helped distribute hot meals. It felt like the least she could do when so much of the city was in mourning too.

It was just after dinner one December evening and after serving the last of the city’s displaced residents, Missy joined Carla in the back of the kitchen to share a meal. Seated at a round, cafeteria-style table, the young blonde sat with her feet up in an empty chair as she poked and prodded at the mashes potatoes on her plate. She should have counted herself lucky to have food at all, but she couldn’t seem to shake the knowledge that she would spending the fast-approaching holidays alone. There would be no Christmas tree to decorate, no cookies to bake, no itchy sweater she would have to pretend to love.

It was a stupid thing to be sad about, Missy knew, but she couldn’t help it.

“Miss?” Carla asked from across the table, “did you hear me?”

“Huh?” she raised her eyes and met Carla’s. Concerned shined through her chocolate-colored irises and Missy shook her head, embarrassed. “No, I’m sorry. What did you say?”

For a moment, it looked like the other woman was going to repeat herself, but she changed her mind at the last minute. “I’m guessing this is important?” The question was rhetorical. Carla slid the plain, white envelope across the table, “someone dropped this off for you this afternoon. Wouldn’t say where they from but the suit looked expensive. Government, maybe?”

Pushing the tray of food aside, Missy reached for the envelope and messily tore a hole in the top. She hadn’t gotten mail since the attack, and even then, those were just bills. A bolt of fear flashed through her stomach at the passing thought that the letter might be from her mother. They hadn’t seen one another in over ten years, but there was no time like the present to get back in touch. After all, it looked like the world was ending, and who wanted to go out on bad terms?

Where hope was raised, it was quickly dashed and then livened again. Carla was right—the letter was from the government. “It’s about my grandma,” Missy gasped. “They recovered some of her things from the debris and they want me to come down to claim everything.”

“Who’s they?” Carla asked, having noticed initially that the letter lacked a proper return address. The only thing the front sported was the girl’s name, handwritten in blue ink.

“I don’t know,” Missy shrugged. “The mayor, maybe?” Had he died in the blast too? She turned the letter over a few times, so filled with morbid excitement that she’d missed the closing. “Mister Allen. It says M. Allen right there. I’m going to go right now.”

Carla stood with Missy, her hands on the table, “if you wait until morning then we can go together! I'll take you!"

But Missy was already gone. Driven by the need for connection and the desire to feel close to the only person who had ever cared for her, she bounded off into the night. Some of the other shelters, the newer ones, were in better areas of the city, much further from the blast zone, but shelter three was just a dozen blocks from the former HQ. In the early days after the attack, she and Carla used to sit and watch the smoke waft up into the sky after sunset.

It was a bit clearer now. The pit in the ground had stopped smoldering, but that didn’t mean that Metro City was safe. With all of the regular Supes either dead or MIA, it was up to law enforcement and military organizations to keep the peace. They weren’t doing a very good job. There were riots, there was looting and crime was at an all time high. It was dangerous there, for a girl like her, but Missy didn’t pay attention to any of it. She ran through the streets like her life depended on it, and it did. She could see the barricade in the distance, the armored vehicles that were set up around the perimeter and finally, the faintest doubts crept into her mind.

What if this wasn’t a good idea?

There were rumors around the shelter that some people were looking for metas, trying to round them up and take them somewhere, to get rid of them like they’d gotten rid of the supes. Missy had never worried about things like that before, having always hid her powers. In her opinion, they weren’t that impressive; she was no Red Blitz, Bombshell or Whisper—but she was sure that there was a record. Somewhere. Something that said what she was. What she’d always been afraid of.

“Whoa there!” An officer behind the gate stopped her almost immediately. Not that it had been difficult to see her coming. “You can’t just wander in here, this is a crime scene.”

Missy, a bit breathless from running, shifted her weight from foot to foot and frowned anxiously. “I’m supposed to be here.”

“Says who?”

“Allen. I got a letter, and—“


“There’s no one here by that name.”

“There has to be!” Missy insisted. “The letter said for me to come here so I could pick up my grandma’s things. I—“

“We don’t send out letters for that, ma’am. I’m sorry. If you’re missing something you’re going to have to go to—“

“No!” She could feel the opportunity slipping between her fingers but she held on tight. “I’m supposed to be here! I live here!” Her voice raised in a panic, climbing sharply to a shout that toppled the officer off of his feet and onto the ground.

“You’re one of them!” The commotion drew the attention of the other officers on duty, and the confrontational one scrambled to his feet, his gun drawn. “Get on the ground! Now!”

Before Missy could protest further, or crumble to the dirty ground of her old neighborhood, a woman in a gray suit came running up. “Stop! Stop!” she pushed through the officers, looking out of place with her black pumps and coiffed hair. “Stand down, officer! She’s with me.”
 

Jhuton

The 430th Ghost Lord
Original poster
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Metro City was once the shining jewel of the North American continent. A busseling metropolis of the future where supes soaring among the tall skyscrapers and zipping through the streets like lightning were a common sight. There was hardly any crime so close to the Heroes United headquarters, and even littering in this prestine city was a major offense with heavy fines. There could be no doubt that Metro was mankind's closest attempt at creating Utopia. Looking at it now, there wasn't even a shimmer of what Metro City used to be. As Von sat in the driver's seat of his rented jeep it was hard for him to believe this place was ever anything more than a giant scrap heap. The road was hardly a road anymore. He was lucky if he hit a few patches of smooth asphalt between the jagged rocks and cavernous potholes in the street. Even though he kept his speed at a safe pace, it was still the jerkiest car ride he'd ever endured. More than a few times he had to change routes where peices of one building or the other had fallen into the road and blocked the path. The air was thick with the smell of smoke and other acrid odours he didn't want to identify, so he kept the windows rolled up. There were people still mulling around the outer edges of the city, despite the state of it. There was no electricity or running water. The only thing left here now was a hundred different ways to end up hurt, or worse, hiding around every corner. But still these people tayed. All of them Von had passed shared a similar, vacant look in their eyes. They all had their own ghosts that tied them here and kept them from escaping the carnage, just like his ghosts had pulled him into it.

The deeper into the city Von got the less people he saw and the harder it became to navigate. Eventually, the road got bad enough that he decided he would have to abandon the jeep altogether. There was no longer a route to the innermost parts of the city that any vehicle could follow. Everything was either blocked up or smashed to hell. He pulled his shirt over his nose and mouth and hopped out into the street. The first thing he thought when he was out in the open was how even the wind seemed to make his skin feel grimy. He gave the vehicle one final, furtive look and tapped the hood in consideration. Vandalism and thievery were probably the new normal these days, especially in a place like this. It had been hard enough to find a car rental company still operating, and he had used the last of his savings to acquire this vehicle. He didn't even want to think about how much it would cost him if it got hijacked.

'Typical me. Thinking about bank accounts and penalties when everyone else is smashing through storefronts every night.' He rolled his eyes at his own sense of morality. 'For my sake I hope this thing is still here when I get back.' Von offered up a silent prayer and set off.

Walking through the gutted shell of Metro City was a whole other experience. There were no impatient drivers blowing their horns in traffic or revving their engines at the stop lights, no stray dogs barking or pigeons circling dangerously overhead, no streetside arguments or hagglers. It felt like Von was completely seperated from anything else that was alive when he was in this city. It was just him and the firey scorch that blackened every surface as far as he could see. A few minutes of walking later and he had almost settled into the eerie silence when he turned the final corner. There, set up in the middle of the street, was a barracade blocking anyone of from going any deeper into the city. By Von's estimation, he must have been just a couple miles out from the initial blast site. The informant hadn't ripped him off after all. Something really was going down here, and the government definitely had a hand in it.

He moved closer to the barricade and the soldiers guarding it broke out of their bored lethargy and sprung into action. Two assault rifles locked unto him, but Von walked right up to them fearlessly. Those bullets would flatten like pancakes against the invisible aura surrounding his body. He hoped so anyway. A third man was leaning on the barricade, casually smoking a cigarrete. He didn't seem quite as alert as the other two and he wasn't as heavily armoured. He was wearing no helmet and his vest had been left undone, exposing the white T-shirt beneath his fatigues. If not for the rippling muscles and the weapon holstered at his hip, Von would have thought he didn't fit in here. His eyes locked unto Von's and after a moment he signaled for the men to lower their weapons. Without missing a beat, their weapons fell back to their sides, though they stayed poised to fire at a moment's notice.

'First the screamer, now you. You lot really are shipping in fast. I didn't expect another one so soon.' The man's tone was just as relaxed as his getup and Von was starting to wonder who he was. It seemed clear enough he was the ranking officer here. 'You're not Bones or the Japanese delegation, but we'll take everything we can get.' Von quirked an eyebrow and the man jumped the barricade and walked up to him, still looking as casual as ever.

'Who are you?' Von finally asked when the man was just a foot away.

'Captain Ronald Swannick, but most days I go by Ronny. You're a meta I presume?'

Von didn't answer. Instead he took a moment to appraise the man. He couldn't have been older than thirty, but if he held a captain's rank he probably had years worth of service in the army under his belt. Clearly those years hadn't soured his disposition.

The captain noticed his hesitance to respond to the question and nodded discreetly.

'There's a meeting scheduled to happen here today. Not too long from now in fact. You've arrived just in time, and I think you might be interested in being in that room. We're waiting on a few more guests, but I can escort you to the command tent until then.' He looked questioningly at Von and Von nodded in reponse.

He motioned for Von to follow before he turned around and hopped back over the barricade. Von followed suit without hesitation. That was easier than he thought. He was glad he didn't have to launch into a speech about how much he needed to be involved. He looked back at the city as he fell into step with the captain and took it all in once more. Now that he was here everything seemed so much more real. There really were beings out there that could level a whole city in a single night. This is what humanity was up against.
 
Last edited:

Quake

For the Audience of One.
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“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration...Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
-Frank Herbert, Dune

Metro City: Western and 4th

So this was it. Edward had stepped out of his grandmother’s final portal and directly onto the crossroads of Western and 4th where the family circus had once been held. In truth, there wasn’t much there apart from some debris and a creeping loneliness that seemed to permeate the air. The entire center reminded Edward of a massive graveyard. Taking his first few steps through the streets of Metro City, the Von Farbe surveyed the area slowly, his gaze searching for any possible remains or clues that had been left behind or forgotten. He knew his chances of finding anything useful were practically nonexistent. What little good that may have survived after the blast had likely been looted or scavenged by now. And yet, Edward’s heart propelled him to search nevertheless. For now, it was all he could do.

As Edward dug around the area, his thoughts remained fixated on his family and all he had lost. In his mind he had apologized countless times, but the bottomless pit that stirred in his heart continued to gnaw at his soul. Disbelief continued to plague him as he hunted for something tangible. At this point, he would take anything. As hours passed, the man grew increasingly frustrated with his failures. It just didn’t seem real! They had all been there one moment, and then they were gone the next. What could have done this? And how? Edward’s heart ached as he asked himself the same questions over and over.

After some time, Edward had had enough. Taking a moment to rest, the mourning magician's thoughts moved to his fallen parents. In truth, he couldn’t even remember his last conversation with them. Maybe it had been about circus operations. Or perhaps an argument over his newest dangerous stunt. Edward wasn’t sure, but how he wished he remembered it now! At least then he would have something to hold onto. As the young man worked to catch his breath, a glint of metal underneath the remnants of a fallen building captured his attention. What was that? With shaking hands, Edward ran over and dropped down into the dirt, reaching behind some last bits of fallen concrete. His sleeve caught some loose rebar, but he didn’t care. He continued to frantically tear and pull, desperate to reach his goal.

After a few more minutes of struggle and wrestling in the dirt, Edward began gradually dragging out a large metal sign from underneath the rubble. It had collected bits of rust in the corners and the red paint was badly peeling, but the words “Von Farbe Family Circus” were still quite legible. Edward heaved a sigh of relief, taking a few deep breaths to calm his emotions. He had designed the sign with his father when he was a child, and it had been used annually every time the Circus had performed. How simple the past had been! Edward collapsed onto the ground, holding the sign close to his chest, tightly gripping it as he began to cry softly. He wished he could go back and see his family one more time. He wished he hadn’t taken the stupid worldwide tour. He wished he had died with his family. He had always worked to outdo himself; always trying to outdo his family. Was this the price? Some sort of twisted, karma-centered trade for all his success? Or perhaps it was some form of divine punishment. Either way, Edwards' mind was a cocktail of burning self loathing and heartbreaking agony.

As Edward’s body gently convulsed from his cries, a series of approaching footsteps drew his attention, and the young magician quickly wiped his tears with a silk handkerchief. It was unlikely any credible characters were out in a dump like this. He couldn’t have been more right.

“Now what do we have here, Mikey?”

“I don’t know, boss. Looks like some kinda fancy-pants rich noble who's a bit too far from mommy and daddy! Wadd'ya think Tony, Ricky?”

“Rich noble? He seems a bit too dirty for that. But hey, sounds like money to me! Hey, Jonny, Eddy!” The thug waved his hand, and two more goons appeared around the corner. “I bet he’s got some pretty cool valuables stashed in the pockets of that suit of his! Hey buddy! Why don’t you come on ova here and play with us!”

“Fuck,” Edward muttered, clenching his jaw tightly. He had already been through quite a day and the last thing he wanted was to entertain some low level thugs. And yet the forgotten hero knew he probably wouldn’t be able to simply walk away. “Guess it’s showtime,” he whispered to himself, his eyes glancing down at the circus sign in his arms before setting it softly back in the dirt. “Watch me, Pa. Ma. I’m gonna fix this, and it begins right here.” Taking a deep breath, Edward plastered on his best smile and rose to his feet, dusting off his suit the best he could.

ShOwTime. sHowtiME. ShoWtiMe.

Spinning around on his heel, Edward tipped his hat and curtsied playfully, his sugary smile so rich and wide it was almost unnatural. Only the dirt weathered suit and torn sleeve failed to fully complete his look.

“♫ My oh my! Gentlemen! Have you come to see a show?” Edward had dipped into his stage voice, a sing-songy tone he had mastered over many years. The magician’s performance was a mix of erratic flamboyance and unpredictable style, and none were better when it came to manipulating an audience.

♫ I’m sorry to admit, but the circus is closed...Permanently, it seems!“ Edward giggled to himself, pointing towards the rubble. ”♫ Perhaps another time-”

“Shut it ya weirdo! We don’t wanna see no magic unless it’s you showin’ us how fast you can empty them pockets of yers!”

Edward shrugged sheepishly, feigning a look of worry as he turned his jacket pockets inside out to reveal nothing more than bits of lint. “♫ My My! It would seem I’m a bit more than a day late and a dollar short! In fact, I’d say I’m quite a few dollars short!” he sang, bouncing around the compound sporadically as he talked. “♫ Mother always said I’d never survive; out here making funny money! It seems she was right!” The rainbow magician clasped his hands together with glee, rubbing them together in excited anticipation. “♫ Tell you what, my pretties! Perhaps you kind, young men would prefer to see some magic, hm? Perhaps some cards?” Edward beamed, brandishing a deck of playing cards out of thin air. “Or maybe a coin trick?” the magician laughed, revealing a gold coin clasped tightly between his teeth. “♫ Nothing is too difficult for I, the Rainbow Magician! So my children, what shall it be?”

“Rainbow magician?” One of the thugs stopped. “Hey hold on boss, ain’t dis guy some kinda hero?”
“Ha! Unlikely! I ain’t never heard of him.” the thug sneered. “And even if he is, issa five-on-one situation! Take him!”

Edward laughed as the thugs rushed him, appearing to accidentally drop a couple cards from his hand onto the ground. The moment they hit the dirt, large bursts of colored smoke billowed out around Edward and his assailants, shrouding them all in smoke that was quickly turning black. As the attackers struggled to see, the Rainbow Magician began to sing, his voice a haunting melody.

“♫ Five little children, running for the door,
One snapped his neck, and then there were four.”


The heavy thud of a body hitting the dirt interrupted the song.

♫Four little children, trying to flee,
One went blind, and then there were three.”


Through the smoke, one of the thugs cried out, his voice shaking in panic. “I-I can’t see! I can’t see!” He screamed. His friend, drawn to his screams, found him among the smoke and shook him, attempting to calm him. “What’s wrong Mikey? Lemme see! Move yer hands away from ya face! Lemme see!” What he saw chilled him to the bone. Mikey’s eyes had turned pitch black, and all the man could do was cry in terror and grasp at his friend desperately. As the pair sat in disbelief, a giggle echoed through the smoke.

“Enough of this!” The second of the stunned pair roared, drawing his pistol from the waistband of his jeans and firing off wildly into the smoke.

♫Three little children, What will they do?
One got shot, and then there were two.”


As the shots rang out, another thug hit the pavement, killed by a stray bullet to his chest. As the armed thug looked around frantically, the song began once more, only a bit faster this time.

♫Two little children, where will they run?
One fell to rebar, and then there was one!”


A bloodcurdling scream rang out, only to be cut off abruptly by the sounds of gurgling blood. By this time the smoke had begun to clear, revealing the Rainbow Magician’s latest victim, impaled on a sharp piece of metal jutting out from some debris. And so now only the armed thug and his blind counterpart remained.

“Showtimes over.”

Edward had dropped his act, and he stepped out of the shadows menacingly. The gunman freaked out and tried to fire his pistol, but was met with nothing more than the hollow clicking of an empty chamber. As Edward approached, he turned his jacket pockets out once more, dropping the remaining unfired rounds on the ground with a sly grin. The Rainbow Magician always held a flair for the dramatic.

“W-W-WAIT! WAIT! HOLD ON JUSSA MINUTE!” The thug stammered, dropping his gun. “STOP THIS! HOLY SHIT I BEG YOU! WE MADE A MISTAKE! W-WE”RE NOT BAD GUYS! WE”RE JUST TRYING TO GET BY! I SWEAR, WE”RE SORRY!”

Edward gave his best tight lipped smile, kicking the gun away towards a gutter.

“You’re in luck! I’m feeling oddly generous today. So tell me. Who else still remains in this city?”

“N-No one really. Just stragglers here and there.. small groups, stuff like that...Oh! B-but I’ve heard there's a military outpost of some kind down the road that way.” The thug pointed, his finger shaking. “No one knows what they’re doing, but they’re there! I swear!”

“Fascinating. I shall pay them a visit. Be good now...children.~” And just like that, Edward vanished from sight.
---

A few hours later, The Magic-man strolled up towards the outpost, singing his latest tune.

“♫Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water!
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And JIll was led to slaughter!”

Upon approaching the barricade, the stationed guards trained their weapons on Edward, and the man smiled with glee. He didn’t know why this group was here, but he would find out, and then decide for himself what was best.

“♫ Gentlemen! What a beautiful day it is! Can I interest you in some magic? A card trick, perhaps?”
 

Izurich

Pikaface
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A beam of light from the sky, its glow dwarfed even the sun, blinding all those who gazed upon it, and then... in a split second, it was all over. In a single night, heroes and civilians alike were vaporized by the light. Many of them didn't even get the chance to scream, nay, didn't even get the chance to realize their impending doom. Perhaps, out of all the ways to go, this was one of the least painful path. Still, the assailant remained at large, just who or what had the heart to massacre so many innocent people? To what end? What was the point in all of this destruction?

Many believed that since the two atomic bombs were dropped, humanity had grown past weapons of mass destruction, apparently they were not. This was assuming the perpetrators were even human. Upon the aftermath of the Metro City incident, conspiracy theorists from all over the globe chimed in, proposing increasingly wilder and absurd theories. Their accusations ranged from a secret society of supervillains, self-aware AI rebellion, to extraterrestrial invasion.

However, all of these came to no surprise. The world was panicking, the superheroes everyone thought to be invincible were toppled in one fell swoop. If the instigator could do this to Metro City, the capital of superheroes, who knows what they could do to the rest of the world? New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Paris, and others, would the same fate befall them? No one knew and as such, it was her duty to find out. Yes, her...

Lucielle Delcroix, a superhero of the Heroes United Paris Branch Office, sent to Metro City to assist the government in the on-going investigation.
---
The sky above Metro City...

Seated alone inside the passenger area of the small private jet plane, the white-haired girl gazed out of the aircraft's window, slightly narrowing her light blue eyes at the devastation wracked upon the once-proud Metro City. Even from this elevation, the huge crater that took up more than half of the city's area was clearly visible. "It's worse than I thought... what could have done this?" She mentally murmured.

"Lucielle..."

She could hear a voice in her head, a familiar one, his voice.

"Yes, Father?" The girl replied mentally through this seemingly telepathic connection she had with her father. She knew that he could see through her eyes and hear through her ears.

"It is imperative that you gather as much information as you can about the incident. It is convenient for us that the our goals align with the Heroes United organization and the government." He paused, "However, always maintain vigilance, we don't know who can truly be trusted in Metro City right now. Is that understood?"

Lucy made a mental nod. "Understood, Father."

Then another voice came, but this time, it rang in her ears as it came from the plane's intercom. "We are approaching Redfield International Airport, Madame Lucielle. We'll be landing shortly," The pilot announced, "We have contacted the army base and they will be expecting you."

She nodded at the pilot's announcement even though he couldn't see her just to show appreciation. Now, let's see how the hands of fate would play her cards...

An hour later...

The girl with the halo of thorns found herself already seated at the backseat of an army jeep, having being picked up by one of the army's personnel regarding her official business representing the Heroes United organization. Standard procedure entailed she should have confirmed her identity first by presenting her papers and such, but one look at her distinctive halo, it was enough for the driver to confirm that she's the person he was meant to escort. A stroke of convenience to say the least.

On its way to the Army Camp, the jeep traversed through the ruined streets of Metro City. Devastation, chaos, and anarchy reigned as the military could barely keep order amidst the sudden calamity. "Sigh... what a mess, isn't it, Miss?" The driver murmured in exasperation, "So many lives just..." He pursed his lips, at a loss for words.

Lucielle glanced to gaze at the reflection of the private's face via the jeep's central rearview window. It wouldn't take an empath like her to discern that he was on the brink of collapsing. She couldn't blame him, hell, it would take an incredibly callous person to not be at least moved by all the death and suffering around them. "That's why we are here, aren't we, Sir?" All she could offer was a warm smile and some comforting words, "We're here to find the ones responsible and put a stop to it."

"Fuh..." The driver was somewhat comforted and inspired by the petite heroine's words, yes, every able-bodied men and women should do their part, including himself. "Thank you, Miss Lucielle..." He took a few calming breaths then curled a small smile, "Say, I was informed by command on your looks, but... I have to be honest, you are still shorter than I expected. Ah, no offense."

The girl chuckled quietly, "None taken. I get that a lot."

Fortunately, their journey to the Army Camp near the center was mostly uneventful so far, a blessing considering the state of the city... or what's left of it. However, just before they arrived at the barricade set up around the city's central park area where the forward base was erected, Luciel noticed a... man with long white hair, clad in the flamboyant uniform of a magician albeit stained with grime and dirt. He was seemingly addressing the soldiers manning the barricades in a sing-song manner. Judging by the reactions of said soldiers, he was not expected to be there, unlike herself. She narrowed her eyes, he was going to be shot.

"Stop here, Sir." Lucy ordered the driver. "And please inform the men to stand down."

"Huh? But wh- hey?!" Apparently, the petite heroine wasn't in the mood to even hear his confusion as she unlocked her passenger door then just jumped out of the moving jeep like that. Well, guess he better do that informing then, he'd never live it down if his escort got shot... by his fellow soldiers. As such, the driver continued driving closer to the barricade, intent on preventing needless bloodshed.

Meanwhile, said heroine had the same goal as she ran as fast as she could to the magician's side. She would stand in front of him to block his way forward. "You... what are you doing? This is a restricted area." ...if that was not obvious enough for him. One would think that the heavy fortifications, barbwire, and armed soldiers would make him think otherwise. Then again, in a city gone mad, a gentleman magician offering a card trick to a group of agitated armed military personnel wouldn't be the strangest thing around.
 
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Jhuton

The 430th Ghost Lord
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Just Outside Corinthian Park, Metro City
Featuring:
Cresion Breezes Cresion Breezes

“Aww, this place sucks.” A young boy jumped from one piece of rubble to another, a bit conspicuously casual about the destroyed cityscape that surrounds him. It took Nataniel a bit to get into the city’s center, the deeper you go the more chaotic it gets. He took a deep breath as he jumped down the final piece, stretching out his arms when landing as if he was on an Olympics gymnastic court. Then started coughing. “...yep, smells like meth.” The kid rolled his eyes before bouncing onwards.

Peaking out of a corner, Nathaniel watched a barrier on the road closely. “Armed guards, staying in the same location...any passerby turned away…” He muttered as he popped his hood back on to hide the distinguishing two-toned hair. It was obvious that they weren’t going to let a child into whatever that area was, and Nathaniel wasn’t too keen on announcing his grand return under such circumstances. The boy’s eyes drifted a bit, towards a ditch in the ground.

Clink. A piece of cement flipped out of the way as Nathaniel squeezed out of a tight pipeline. After some (admittingly terrifying) crawls in the city's abandoned sewers, he had realized that most of the pipes were sealed shut too. But they didn’t seal the smaller ones. After a slight struggle the boy managed to get himself out of the slightly distorted opening, gazing around to make sure no one was coming along.

Not too far away from the drain pipe opening, Von was strolling through the guarded parts of the city, taking in all the destruction once more, now that he felt relatively safer. After being shown to the command tent where some of the most important people in the world at the moment would be meeting in a matter of hours, he'd been given free reign of the camp, but he chose instead to survey the area just outside it. Another manned checkpoint was just ahead, but he wouldn't stray too close to that. He doubted very much that everyone had been brought into the loop as far as his admittance to the camp was concerned. Instead he braved the ruined city streets closer to the park.

He didn't think he would ever quite get used to this, the sight of Metro City in ruins. Even with his powers he was hesitant of straying too close to the buildings, even leaning on anything, lest whatever was left standing come tumblimg down on top of him. The buildings certainly looked unstable enough to fall if a strong enough wind passed through. For the first time, Von began wondering if this city would ever live again.

In contrast to the bussle of activity that he'd just left behind in the camp, the silence of the city felt even more unnerving. So it was no surprise that his body immediately tensed when a drain pipe cover was popped open just in front of him. A small head poked out of the darkness and Von took a few shocked steps back.

'What in the hell...' This was all he managed to get out as the head swivelled around, checking the area, before landing on him.

"Oh." Nathaniel had to admit his eyes probably haven't adjusted to the light outside yet, or that he can't see through objects, as another person turned a corner the moment he popped up. It was an adult, though that was probably to be expected. The man wasn't a particularly strong looking guy, but he was still much taller than Nathaniel in his child body. "...You didn't see anything?" He shrugged as he stood up after climbing out of the pipe, adjusting his hood so his hair and face weren't quite visable, hoping that this was just some rando who was non-confrontational.

Clack. The pistol he had salvaged from his previous attacker dropped onto the ground from the inside of the hoodie. Nathaniel froze a bit on the spot, before slowly kneeling down and picking it up, putting the weapon back into his jacket, before turning away, trying his best to act like nothing happened.

'Hey!' Von shouted, as the kid turned to walk away. An actual kid, climbing out of the sewers, with a gun stashed away under his jacket. The world really was going batshit insane. He ran after the kid and in no time, he was close enough to grab unto his shoulder. Without much effort, Von managed to spin him back around.

'I don't know what this is all about kid, but first you have to hand over that pistol, and second you're telling me what the hell you were doing hiding in a sewer.'

Nathaniel was calm, or at least that's how he appeared. But deep inside he had no idea what to do in this situation, this wasn't just some social security worker he can con away, it was a guy in a military encampment. He held his head down for a few moments before arriving to a decision.

He grabbed the man's wrist that was holding him and twisted it back suddenly, before pushing the other away as he stepped away himself. The act was fluid, and obviously well practiced. "...Nope." The boy muttered under his breath, "I need to be here for a reason." He quickly stepped back a bit more, but the movement caused his hood to waver and drop off.

The kid was strange in every way. His white and blue hair wasn't something you saw everyday. In fact he looked vaguely familiar, but Von couldn't quite place him. His maneuvering out of Von's grip was yet another oddity. No kids he knew could wrestle away from his firm grasp. Something was up and Von wanted to know what.

'You said you need to be here. Why exactly? Who are you?'

"...My name is Nathaniel." The boy replied as he pulled his hood back on. He didn't want to expose his surname just in case. "I'm here to do whatever you're doing." His eye twitched a bit, but it wasn't a complete lie, "but I have some other reasons."

Von considered the kid, Nathaniel, for a moment. He had already snaked his way into a restricted military area, and it was probably a good idea for him to be brought to Captain Swannick or one of his superiors anyway. Von shrugged.

'Fine. You're a weird kid but you're already here so the guys running this place should probably be told about you. You can follow me back into the camp.' Von outstretched his palm. 'But first, the gun. I don't like you being armed and I don't think the military base that you're trying to get into would appreciate it either.'

"...Fineeeee." The younger one kicked the dust on the ground a bit and pulled out the pistol, opening its magazine to reveal that it was completely empty. As Nathaniel waited for his last attacker to reload before he struck. "It was for intimidation anyways, I don't need it, I'm a metahuman."

He dropped it on the ground and looked up to the sky. A small but bright flash and shockwave came from where the pistol dropped, as it became a few seperate, slightly smouldering parts.

"Whatever, let's go then." Nathaniel scoffed at the stranger.

Von spared a second to look at the partially melted remains of what was only just a moment ago a pistol. He made no effort to hide the shock on his face. The kid was a meta, and a potentially powerful one too. Who would've thought? The captain had said they were scraping together as many meta-humans as they could, so maybe his meeting with Nathaniel would go better than Von had thought. He set off with Nathaniel back toward camp.
 

Ur Degaton

Ashes To Ashes
Metro City Outskirts

Nikolai never took his eyes off the road as he drove. The only things around him being the endless grass plains and hills that dominated the rural areas surrounding Metro City. After escaping the prison he had stolen Agent Sander’s car, and that was the last of their very brief hostage/captor relationship. She of course didn’t even attempt to stop him, you never question the man with the gun.

He had been driving for two hours now, and has almost reached his destination. It has been seven long years since he’s been to the place, visiting it only brought back bad memories. Memories that filled him with an uneasy feeling, memories that made him toss and turn at night, memories that reminded himself of who he really is underneath all of his intellect.

It didn’t take long for him to reach his destination. It was a manor, a rickety old residence that stood alone In a field of dead, yellow grass. It looked like it had been abandoned for many years. Its dark and ominous visage would surely scare off any angsts teenagers that like to hang out in rural areas and dare each other to explore creepy abandoned houses. To many, it was just a random condemned property that was probably owned by some rich person decades prior, but to Nikolai, it was home.

He takes a deep breath as he walks up the creaking steps of the wooden porch and opens the faded, dark mahogany door. The door screeches as its rusted hinges struggle to turn, he never liked that door. The interior of the manor was dark and musty, just as you would expect of a decrepit building.

As he investigated each room of the manor he came across broken furniture, dusty decor, and crumbling infrastructure which dominated the living room. The kitchen was filled with cobwebs and one wouldn’t dare to open the refrigerator. The bedrooms were filled with cockroaches and the beds were covered in a thick coat of dust and debris. And finally the study, which was the last location he visited. Unlike the other rooms in the house the study was the most intact. While it was still dusty and smelled like mothballs, it wasn’t nearly bad as the rest of the house.

It used to be his father’s study. He remembered when he was young his father would call him up every time his school report card came in. He wasn’t allowed to get straight A’s or overachieve in anything at school, if he did he was punished, usually with his dad’s favorite golf club, or anything the old man could get his hands on really. His dad was paranoid about his powers being found out and did anything to make sure he didn’t reveal his potential to any authorities. Something always baffled him though. While he was punished for his abilities his sister wasn’t. In fact, the old man never raised his fist to her, no matter how many times she showcased her powers, and he hated her for it.

Nikolai shakes his head to prevent his thoughts from wondering to dark places. This was no place to contemplate the past. Looking around the study, he spotted the bookcase that held a collection of weathered books that have long lost their titles. Reaching out with purpose, he pulls on one of the books, as if attempting to take it out of its resting place on the shelf. But instead of the book moving like it should, it makes a harsh clicking noise as a large mechanism activates within the walls. The sound of gears turning and metal scraping on metal could be heard as the bookcase slowly opened like a door, revealing a secret passage with steps leading downwards into a dark abyss. Not wasting any time, Nikolai walks down into the darkness, not even bothering to close the hidden door.

It didn’t take long to reach the bottom, despite it being dark, he was able to quickly find a light switch. The lights flickered and dimmed as they struggled to turn on, eventually they stayed on, but would constantly flicker at random intervals. The light revealed a large concrete basement that had been heavily modified into a makeshift lab. Strange machines lined against the wall, chemistry stations sat atop tables, flasks of viscous fluids rested on shelves, and countless schematics covered the walls and ceiling like blue wallpaper.

Nikolai sighed and walked into the center of the room where a glass display case resided. A black costume sat within the case like a trophy, a memento of a past time in his life. He swore to himself that he would never again wear that accursed suit. A suit that was a symbol of diabolical acts of terrorism and irredeemable evil. Whenever he put on the suit, he was a completely different person, he changed completely, like a separate person, a separate personality, an entity of logic and reason with no room for emotions or sentimentality. But in the past, despite the psychological effect the suit had in him, he was still Nikolai, even if he was different inside the costume. But this time he didn’t know if he could recover, he didn’t know if he could ever go back to being “normal” once he puts it back on. His sister was the only thing anchoring him to normalcy, but now that she was gone he had no reason to go back to being a “good” person.

With trembling hands he opened the glass case and grasped the composite nanotech cloth that made up his suit.

There’s no turning back

slowly but surely he puts the costume on. From some perspectives it only took a couple minutes, but from his perspective it was an eternity.

Eventually the body portion of the suit was on his person, leaving only the mask left. He looked down at the mask like he was staring at a dark reflection in a mirror. This was who he was, it was who he was meant to be. With a sharp intake of air he slips the mask over his head and over his face. A few moments pass as the nanotech within the suit recognizes his DNA and configures to his person.

Nikolai was dead, there is only Nemesis.
 

Izurich

Pikaface
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Collab between Quake Quake and Izurich Izurich

" ♫ Restricted, you say?
Now what have we here?"
All children love tricks,
So pick one my dear!"


Edward smiled at Lucielle, extending his hand of cards towards her with dramatic flourish. He had quickly judged by both situation and location that she wasn't just an average child, and this was far more than just some standard military outpost. Edward glanced around, taking in his captive audience and their reactions to his odd performance. In time he would figure out who they were and what their mission was, but not quite yet. For now, he needed only to flash his grin and play his little game.


"..." Instead of doing what any sane man would do in the face of a military blockade, the red-eyed man merely shifted his sing-song attention to her instead. "He's not thinking right..." Well that much was obvious, wasn't it? Now it was just a matter whether this was his usual self or...

"Lucielle, may I ask what you are doing? This is no time to be entertaining street magicians."

Ah, now that Father mentioned it... why was she doing this? She should be entering the Army Camp and proceed with her duties. Then again... "Isn't preventing more deaths part of why we're here, Father? I am doing that right now."

"..." Father went silent, seemingly not expecting his daughter's reply, she was... right. "Just don't sabotage yourself."

Now that she had gotten his 'permission', Lucy could properly examine the man in greater detail. He looked older, those clothes were actually fancy if not for the dirt and grime... and bits of dried blood, they shared a hair color, yet opposite eye color, but most importantly, the way he went about his little rhyme and song...

She sensed that behind the eerily jolly veil of a street magician, lied copious amount of pain... regret, sorrow. Those lips tried to maintain a smile, but... what was it for? Was it to entertain others or... himself?

"Judging by what happened here, did he lose someone in the incident...? Perhaps I can..."

For now, she decided to humor him and take one of his cards at random.

Meanwhile, the jeep's driver had parked the vehicle somewhere and in the process of telling his comrades that command was expecting the haloed girl. It wouldn't do well if they accidentally shot her in their attempt to pacify the perceived threat displayed by Edward, especially when the latter looked like a drunken hobo masquerading as a street magician.


Edward clasped his hands with glee as his latest audience member took her card. With a quick wrist flip, the magician volunteered the faces of his hand, proving that each card was different.

" ♫ Now a card has been chosen,
Of a will that is free,
And no card is the same,

Let all know and see."

A quick riffle shuffle and Edward's deck vanished into thin air with a small clap. As Edward pranced around the front of the outpost, seemingly without a care in the world, one of the gate guard's pockets began to emit a small trail of black smoke rising quickly into the air.

"Oooh!" Edward exclaimed with a jump, rushing to the shocked guard's side before turning his attention back to Lucielle with a mischievous grin. "Say, dearie, why don't you tell us what card you chose?"


By the time Edward had finished his second set of rhymes, the jeep driver had disembarked from the vehicle and was conversing with one of the gate guards, making sure they would keep their finger off the trigger. The soldier's action arguably prevented the situation from escalating past the point of no return as Edward brazenly pulled off a trick in said gate guard's pocket.

He raised his eyebrows in alert, his mind assuming on the spot that an explosive had been placed there. Acting on instinct, he would delve his free hand into the smoking pocket, picked up whatever inside it, then threw it away from him. Even if there's nothing inside that pocket, he would still do that motion. After that, he shot a murderous glare at the 'insane' street magician, being this close to shooting him. Meanwhile, the other soldiers - except the jeep driver - trained their weapons on Edward even as he cheekily addressed Lucielle.

As Edward was close to the jeep driver, the latter attempted to talk to him, "N... now, Sir, whoever you are, please, don't make this worse. We're all anxious as we are."

Meanwhile, Lucy observed the situation, thankful that the young man managed to diffuse the situation enough for the other soldiers. She flipped the card's face toward her eyes. The image of a jester at the center along with the stylized letter of 'J' at the upper-left and lower-right corners were reflected in her light blue iris.

She blinked once, then looked up at Edward, "The Joker..." She idly wondered if it meant anything.


Edward chuckled, nonchalantly wrapping his left arm around the jeep driver as if they were best friends. Lucielle announced her card, and the magician grinned widely. Naturally, he had always known her selection, for it had been forced upon her in the appearance of free choice. It was simple sleight of hand, but that was what made it so incredibly effective. Bowing down onto the ground, Edward picked up the smoking square of paper that had been frantically tossed by the guard. Flipping it over, Edward presented the Joker symbol for his audience to see.

" ♫ The Joker it be!" Edward exclaimed, tossing the paper into the sky. A quick wand twirl and different sections of the rising smoke began to slowly change colors. Some red here, some blue there. A splash of purple and white, and soon the fading smoke resembled that of a jester playing with a beach ball. " ♫ The Joker you see!" Edward sang before pointing at the jeep driver and the guard, his two unwilling volunteers.

" ♫ The Joker is three!"

Looking down, the guard and driver would suddenly find their apparel had drastically changed. They were still wearing the same gear and uniform, however the blacks and grays had been swapped for purples and pinks, each with a Jester symbol resting on their sleeves in bright white. As the two would exclaim in surprise, Edward drew the attention back to himself, only now he had changed as well. His suit had magically changed in colors to match the two. Sliding up to them, Edward joined the ridiculous looking duo.

" ♫ The Joker is we!" Edward announced triumphantly. His arms were outstretched for effect as he grinned his sugary smile, patiently waiting for applause. He hoped applause would come, for if it didn't he feared he would have to flee and find some other means to get into the facility. Luckily, he wasn't completely out of options. While he had danced and pranced like an idiot before his audience, the master magician had prepared the entire surrounding area in case he needed to make an emergency exit. He only hoped it wouldn't come to that.


The girl with the halo of black thorns genuinely didn't suspect that whatever card she chose would be irrelevant for the magician had determined the outcome beforehand. It came as a pleasant surprise - like that of an amused audience - when he revealed that the smoking thing previously inside the guard's pocket was the same card. The jeep driver and most of the other guards looked bewildered and amused as well with varying degrees of expression, except for that one guard he 'pocket-pranked' of course, having a deep scowl on his face. He seemed to be the grumpy sort, the type that wouldn't make a good audience for a magic show.

Now, all those sleight of hand and colored smoke tricks were impressive displays of showmanship, but they were still within the realms of possibility for a mundane magician, a skilled one but mundane nonetheless. However, when Edward started shifting the uniform colors of the jeep driver and grumpy guard, Lucielle had her suspicions confirmed. "This man is a supe... or a meta-human." Whatever the case, he certainly possessed supernatural powers.

Fortunately, no one decided to shoot Edward during his show, he finished by sliding up to the 'jesterized' soldiers and ended the performance with a flourish. The jeep driver was flabbergasted, examining his changed uniform, grumpy guard looked like he was about done with life and then...

*Clap Clap Clap*

Edward could hear measured soft claps, three times and no more. They came from the fellow white-haired person in front of him. "So... you have a gift."

"Interesting... so this street magician is more than a simple circus showman."

"It appears so, Father. What an interesting turn of events."

"I will attempt to identify him. Gather more information about him to hasten my search."

"Understood."

Lucy then stepped forward to join the three jesters, although she focused her attention on the flamboyant jester, not the flabbergasted, nor the grumpy. "Excellent performance, Sir." She curled a small demure smile, "Now, would you be so kind to introduce yourself? ...and perhaps, why have you chosen this place for your show? The magician seemed like a sharp man, she was betting on him being able to read between the lines.

As for the other gate guards, Edward could hear a few chuckles here and there, it seemed they found the colorful version of their comrades to be a refreshing sight among all these death and destruction.


As Lucielle clapped, Edward smiled through pressed lips, heaving a sigh of relief to himself. It seemed he could save his Houdini-esque escape for another time. The young girl asked about his identity, and Edward chuckled. She didn't seem the type to watch magic shows, otherwise his identity would be all too obvious. He was world famous after all, he scoffed to himself.

" Edward Pavel de Von Farbe the Second, at your service!" Edward saluted playfully, offering the young girl a deep blue pocket rose in exchange for his card back. " I am but a humble traveling magician, roaming the world in hopes of granting poor souls some joy! Whom better to serve than these brave men and women, fighting on the front lines for our safety? Surely they could use a brighter day! That is why I, the Count of Cheer, Doctor of Delight, and Mastermind of Merriment has arrived! To bring joy to all!"


...or maybe, just maybe, he looked so dirty after wading through dirt and rubble to dig up his family's circus sign and involved in a bloody scuffle with five thugs made it hard for strangers to recognize him at first glance.

...

Nah, he was right, Lucy didn't watch magic shows much.

However, the moment Edward revealed his full name to her, everything became clear. Unbeknownst to him, he was actually speaking to two different individuals after all.

"Edward Pavel de Von Farbe the Second... Father paused for a moment, "I see... The Von Farbe, world-famous family of heroes and entertainers both. They have... or... considering the incident, used to have a circus here at Metro City."

"..." Lucielle blinked once at her Father's words, she tilted her gaze down for a brief moment. "I see... I... don't want to assume, but... considering everything. The Von Farbes... he must've lost loved ones during the attack... after all, why is he here alone and not with his family? They are heroes." However, she felt like she'd step on his toes if she asked him about his family. That deep sorrow and regret just underneath the veil of flamboyance... Edward was hurting.

"I won't be surprised if he's here for revenge against whoever responsible for this massacre." Father concluded.

For now, what mattered was that she had prevented needless bloodshed and loss of life. The fact that the person turned out to be a fellow gifted human and member of a family of heroes were unexpected, but welcomed. To add more to the sliver of hope in this bleak situation, he was a potential ally as well. She accepted the azure rose, smiled, then put it on her black blazer's pocket. "Then, why don't you come with us, Sir Edward? We need all the help we can get right now." She then turned her gaze at the jeep driver, "He's coming with me."

The jeep driver rubbed the back of his head, thinking hard, then he shrugged. Yeah, she was right. "Sure, Miss Lucielle... I trust your judgment on the matter." But... before they entered the forward base, "Oh yeah, Mr. Edward, I suppose you can turn our uniforms back to normal, can't you? I don't want to get into trouble with my superiors... neither does my friend here, ahaha..."


Edward studied the girl intently. He didn't particularly trust her, or anyone in the surrounding area. For all he knew, they were going to lock him up once he entered the facility. Alas, these were problems he would tackle at another time, should they arise. " After you, my dear!" He sang, humming a small tune to himself. As he turned to follow Lucielle into the compound, the jeep driver's request made him chuckle. Turning to his two former voluntold assistants, Edward feigned his best look of innocence. " I'm sorry? Whatever do you mean, my child?" Looking down, the two would see their uniforms had returned to their natural state at some point. Edward chuckled and spun around back towards the entrance. " Now if you will excuse me..."


"E... eh?" The jeep driver blinked a couple of times at Edward's reply before looking down to check his military uniform. It had somehow returned to its original drab color, same with grumpy guard's uniform. The latter just scoffed and proceeded to ignore Edward's existence, returning to guard his post. "Ahaha... thanks, now then, uh... shall we go?"

"Very well." Lucielle nodded at both Edward and the jeep driver. There was nothing else left to attend here, she should be getting back to her original mission. The investigation wouldn't go anywhere by dallying around.

The meeting would start in a few hours after all, she was expected to be there.

Thus, the heroine and the hero(?) entered the compound, an Army Camp set up at what used to be Metro City's Central Park area.
 

neptune

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Metro City South Command Gate/Metro City Camp

Adrenaline coursed through Missy’s veins, her breath drawing in sharply as her hands instinctively closed tight into fists. Even with the guns drawn on her, she wanted to turn and run, hide and forget that she’d ever received a mysterious letter from M. Allen, but she wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet. She was just a girl, mixed up, sad and looking for a place to fit in now that all the stability had been yanked cruelly from her life.

“I said stand down!” The woman in the suit demanded, her voice sounding as firm and commanding as she looked.

Missy backed up, her body still caught in that fight or flight response as she prepared to flee. Time slowed around her and her vision tunneled, making it difficult to focus on anything but the rapid thump of blood pulsing beneath her skin. Despite the chill in the air, Missy felt hot and jittery, and it was a good thing that her voice was now caught in her throat, or else the scream she wanted to let out would have destroyed what was left of Metro City.

“Now!” The woman issued one last command, and the men lowered their weapons. Her smile was satisfied but short, measured, before she bridged the gap beyond the barricade to extend a hand. “I’m so sorry about that. We’re all a little on edge here. Please, come with me.”

Skepticism mingled with what was left of her fear and Missy found herself staring at the woman’s outstretched hand, as if she’d never been offered a handshake before. “What?” she found herself asking, finally managing to speak. “Who are you? What is this? What about my grandma? You can’t be Mister Allen. Did you send me this letter?” The girl was all indignant questions as she pulled the crumpled envelope from the pocket of her oversized black coat and waved it between them.

“It’s Miranda Allen, thank you,” the woman replied as if she had all the patience in the world despite the dire situation at hand. “I can explain everything once we get inside. Now, if you’ll please come with me.”

The guards who had been ready to shoot her just a moment ago now looked just as bored as they had when she’d run up to the gate. Missy bit down on her bottom lip, a nervous energy still fluttering around like a caged bird inside of her, but she nodded in agreement anyway. Whatever Miranda Allen wanted with her, Missy could only hope that she wouldn’t live to regret running off from the shelter.

A maze of canvas tents laid just beyond the barricade. It was a small city atop of what used to be. The makeshift streets bustled with people, replaced by army men and women in uniform instead of business professionals with coffee in their hands and work on their mind. Missy’s eyes traveled around as she trailed behind Miranda like a lost puppy. “What is this place?” she asked, realizing that it couldn’t just be a simple clean up or a crime scene investigation.

“This is the heart and soul of the resistance,” Miranda waxed poetically after coming to a stop near a tent in the center of the camp. “The brain too.”

A glance inside revealed a communication hub with people hard at work in front of computers. Any closer and Missy would have been able to see the tiredness in their eyes and the weariness in their posture. From where she stood, however, the operation looked like a well-oiled machine and she couldn’t fathom where she might fit in. “So you’re rebuilding?” she asked, naive but not stupid.

“Yes.”

“What does that have to do with me? Why lie to get me here? Why me at all?”

“Would an inactive Meta come when called?” Miranda questioned rhetorically with a quirk of a dark eyebrow. “I think not. You’re here because we believe that you and others like you can help. There’s going to be a presentation soon where you’ll have all the information you need to make your choice.”

It was so vague that Missy felt insulted. “And if I refuse?”

Miranda shrugged, “no one is forcing you to stay.” The radio that she carried crackled on her hip and she flipped a button, silencing the chatter for a moment. “But please consider it. You’re welcome to look around the camp in the meantime.”

Left alone in the mix, Missy took one last look into the communication tent before setting off back the way she came. Her mind said that it was time to leave, that she couldn’t possibly be of any use to anyone, but her heart said otherwise. She didn’t question how the government had found her in the first place—that was what they did best—but if someone out there thought she could be an asset, then wasn’t it right to help?

“Make room!” A pair of guards cut through the foot traffic and lead a vehicle through a tight squeeze on the rubble-filled street. Missy narrowly missed being run over with a few other people, but they didn’t seem to pay any attention and got on with whatever they were doing before. Up ahead, she could see the entrance to the camp and the street beyond. It wouldn’t take her long to get back to the shelter, back to Carla and back to whatever her life had become.

She lingered, Miranda’s words echoing in her mind before she took another turn and wandered deeper into the camp. Rows of the same canvas tents greeted her and while it was overwhelming, she was determined to tough it out. If she really hated it, she told herself that she could leave after the presentation. Whenever that might be.

Continuing on her timid journey, Missy eventually found a person who wasn’t dressed in any kind of uniform. They looked as apprehensive as she felt, and she approached them with the hope of feeling less alone. “Excuse me,” she said, getting their attention, “are you here for the meeting too?”
 

Ariel

Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo
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Metro City Command

Mika's first impression of the once-magnificent Metro City was none too edifying. For one thing, her two well-meaning hosts had come to get her in an MRAP, which was... well, perhaps safer than a regular car would have been, but it was also as bulky as a bulldozer and ugly as sin. The passenger seats were metres above the ground, which should have provided a good view - but the narrow, high windows were closed off with inch-thick armour glass and shaded by steel slats.

If you wanted to see anything, you'd have to pop your head out the hatch up top, which she'd have done except that it was occupied by a gunner at a machine-gun station who obviously had orders not to make conversation. Pity too - he was young and sort of cute in that grain-fed, high-and-tight Marine way that was all too familiar to anyone who'd spent any significant amount of time on Okinawa.

So really all Mika got to see was glimpses of ruins, derelict buildings, and maybe worse. It was hard to tell, and the rock-hard suspension of the vehicle made for a bumpy, uncomfortable ride.

They were doing a pretty good job of conveying to Mika just how bad it all was.

But it came to an end, and the MRAP lurched to a halt. Col. Weller undogged the rear hatch and extended a hand. "We're here, Miss Kasaragi," he said - was that a slight softness to his voice, a tone of... kindness? "Sorry it don't look like much, but this's as good as it gets in Metro right now. Here's hoping you and yours can make it a little better."

Mika clambered out into the cold air and the grey winter light.
 

Lone_Wanderer

Edgebabby
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Peter would never forget the time he first found out he had his powers. Being eight years old in a small North Ireland village of a little over a nine hundred folks wasn't a very exciting life. Everyone knew eachother because they really had no other choice but to, and whenever young adults reached the age of eighteen they would venture off unwilling to stay due to the boring lifestyle. Who could blame them though, Peter was always engulfed with the fascination of going to a big city where buildings were said to touch the sky. But his biggest obsession was in the city of heros, Metro City, the city of tomorrow.

So you could imagine when his powers came to, excitment filled his system. His parents weren't metas or supes, they weren't very special at all. So despite his obsession with heros and the big city, Peter wasn't expecting anything special to happen. Until one day he fell from a swing and broke his arm in two places. His parents would rush him to the hosptial, and by the time they got him into the emergency rooms his arm was good as new. It stunned his parents, but it probably didn't surprise anyone as much as it did himself. The pain was real, and he truly did break his arm in two places, yet through concentrating on his arm his bone was...cured? From that day forward through constant years of practicing his powers, he would learn to protrude them from his body, manipulate it to form a suit of armor, use the bone manipulation to sharpen his teeth and by the time he was an adult the pain from praciticng the bone manipulation was little to nothing.

Boy how things have gone full circle though. Since the day he survived the full onslaught of the attack his bones hurt like hell. The doctors back home said he was developing acute arthrytis, unaware of his abilities of course, but Peter could only beg for a couple pills that could help alleviate the pain. But something he still couldn't believe was the aftermath of Metro City. Coming off of that plane was probably the easiest part. It landed in the outskirts of the city, a portion that was mostly untouched yet extremely effected by the loss.

He stepped off the plane, along with a dozen other folks who were either reporters or tourist wanting to get a first hand look at the landscape that was once Metro City. The fact that this fascinated people made him completely sick to his stomach. He found a car rental still open on the small runway the city has been using as an airport, yet they were all out of cars stating that the last guy who was there took the last car. So he began his trudge to the military encampment Mr.A had told him about.

It took a couple hours, and it went by rather uneventfully. He didn't cross paths with many people, but it was obvious that everything was in a dire situation. Store fronts have been smashed open and looted, and store owners most likely abandoned them or never made it through the blast. Buildings were vandilized, the roads were blocked by abandoned cars that had gas whisked out of them or twisted sheet metal from skyscrapers that were obliterated. This wasn't the great city he once knew and loved.

Coming up to the military encampment, he was met with guns directed his way and they demanded to know exactly who he was and what he was doing there. But he made it clear right away he belonged and that he was recruited in as a former hero, not letting them know exactly who he was of course. After getting approval from their commanding officer, they allowed him in and he blindly ventured into the encampment.

It was busy, very busy. It seemed like the government was still mobilizing. There were soldiers still getting baricades up and helping build up walls and defenses. Some tech guys were in big tents with computers, typing away for some reason or other. There were other soldiers of course that seemed to be relaxing, cleaning their gun, chatting away or playing soccer on one of the designated locations in the camp.The government must've been here for a while, but not long enough to have the proper defenses up. They must've been here since the blast.

"Excuse me," Peter snapped out of his daydream and looked down at the voice that called to him. It was a girl, much shorter than himself with wavy white hair. She looked out of place, being far too young for a place like this, "are you here for the meeting too?"

That caught him by surprise. The same reason he was here, he assumed she was here for as well. Unless they're just having more than one meeting. Peter wiped the sweat from his forehead, it was fairly chilly on this winter day but the hike here did make him break a sweat. "Yeah, I am." He said with a friendly grin, "You seem lost though, are you looking for where to go?"

He paused for a second and chuckled, "Sorry, sorry, I forgot to introduce myself! Peter, it's a pleasure." He hold out his big calloused hand for a handshake.

Although Missy was never one to judge a book by its cover, the man in front of her seemed nice enough. He had an easy smile that offered a level of reassurance that had been missing from her life for the last four months. Even better, he was there for the meeting and Missy had to assume that, like her, he was a meta too. Judging by the way he carried himself, how strong he appeared and how confidently he stood, she assumed that he wasn’t the type to hide his powers like a dirty secret.

Maybe she was projecting.

Peter,” Missy repeated with a nod, chuckling too as she committed his name to memory. Even if she never saw him again, she wasn’t the type to forget a name or a face. Her hand disappeared in his large grip but she shook it anyway, happy to meet him. “I’m Missy, and yeah, I guess I am lost.” She didn’t know what else to call sticking out like a sore thumb.

Again, there was a chance it was all projection.

Dropping his hand, Missy dug back into her coat pocket and produced the letter that had sent her running from the shelter. “Talk about your false pretenses,” she commented, letting him read it over if he wanted. It still hadn’t hit her that there was no trace of her grandmother left on this earth, but those emotions were bound to bubble over. And soon. “I don’t really know what they want with me. I’m not...” she paused, a frown creasing her unusually dark brows, “anything. They’ve got the wrong idea.

It occurred to her, just then, that she was doing too much talking, too focused on herself and her own problems. She must have looked awfully rude. “Sorry,” Missy demurred, her chuckle anxious this time. “You must be important if they called you back, right?

"Missy," He returned the amiable chuckle, giving her hand a firm shake making sure not to make it too tight. The girl was certainly sticking out like a sore thumb. He's seen other females around the encampment, but they resonated in confidence. Missy had this energy she gave off. Something about her presence didn't make him uneasy, no quite the opposite. It reminded him of Marie.

He took hold of the letter and read it over a couple times, his smile faded quickly and in a showing of empathy frowned slightly. "Jeez, I'm sorry this happened. They don't have any of her items?" He neatly folded the paper and passed it back, "I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to be here. You've lost family, I did too. So I understand."

When she stated she was a nobody he gave a hearty laugh and shook his head, "I don't think that's the case," In an attempt to cheer her up he shrugged, "If they tried forcing you to come here it must've been because you're super important. You're young kid, too young to be so hard on yourself."

Her question did throw him off a little bit, and he lifted his black baseball cap off of his head to scratch at his messy hair. He never deemed himself as an important person. He never did what he did for the money, even if it was really good, he truly enjoyed helping people. "Important?" He shook his head, placing the cap back on his head, "No, I'm just some guy with powers. Shit, you're probably way more important than me." He motioned for her to follow him, "Come on, let's start heading to the meeting point Missy."

As they started walking he did have a question that piqued his interest, "Actually I was curious, what are your powers?"

He looked at her direction with a smirk, "And don't try to undermine it either, think about it, as dark as it sounds most of the heros died at this very location. Which means you, Ms.Missy, are the cream of the crop! You're as important as it gets."

Accepting the letter, Missy refolded it and shook her head at Peter’s question. Part of her thought that Miranda Allen might have been telling the truth, that some of her grandmother’s possessions might have been recovered, but they were being held as a bargaining chip. Missy didn’t want to think that anyone, organization or not, could be so cruel, but she had already been tricked before. Her cynical thoughts came to a stop when Peter mentioned that he’d lost family in the attack too. “You did?” she asked, concern in her voice. “I’m so sorry. You’re brave to come back.

Although they didn’t know one another from anyone else on the street, Peter seemed to believe in her for some reason. It was foreign to Missy, who had only ever had the support of her grandmother and a few close friends. She found herself smiling as the conversation took a more lighthearted turn, almost able to believe that she was there at the camp on purpose and not by mistake.

Aren’t they all some guy with powers?” Missy asked, the question on the rhetorical side. She may have been able to downplay her own abilities, or lack thereof, but she never stood for others putting themselves down in her presence. So far, Peter seemed like an extraordinarily nice guy and she was willing to bet that his powers were just as impressive.

Before she could start putting on her hypeman routine, Peter set off and motioned for her to follow. Missy jogged to catch up to him, his legs much longer than hers, and she had to speed walk to keep pace after. She looked up at him when he questioned the nature of her powers, though she was ready to dismiss them the same way she’d dismissed herself. “It’s nothing interesting,” she said as they made their way to wherever they were supposed to be meeting across the camp, “I can’t fly or anything.” Though that would have been much easier to hide.

I make sound waves when I yell and if I’m loud enough I can knock people over. Or buildings. When I was a baby, I shattered all of the windows in my mom’s house. And the same thing happened with my grandma’s station wagon,” she chuckled at the memory, though it was painful now. Her pace had slowed some, but she caught back up in just a few extra steps, “what can you do?” Missy assumed by his looks that it had something to do with strength.

He held his stomach as he laughed at her story about shattering windows as a baby, "I could only imagine the bill for changing the windows!" He wiped the tears from the corner of his eyes as he laughed. "But that's awesome! Not to self, don't get Missy mad."

"I'd prefer being able to take a building down then flying any day of the week," He scratched the back of his neck and laughed a little, "Probably because I'm terrified of heights."

"Me?" He wondered if Missy was the type to know about supes much. If she did, his power would be a dead give away, The only hero out there that was well known for bone manipulation was none other than bones. But did it really matter anymore? If she's going into this room, they'll most likely be working alongside one another. "My power's a little strange."

He stopped walking for a split second to demonstrate, "First things first, I hope you're not easily disgusted. Viewers discrution is advised, don't say I didn't warn you!" He held out his left hand in front of his face, and using his other hand he grabbed his left index finger and pulled back until it snapped.

He whinced a little, just because he was able to manipulate his bone marrow didn't mean it was painless, "Now I know what you're thinking, and no this isn't some freaky way of showing you I have superhuman strength." The bones under his skin began to crackle and pop until finally it was back in place, "I can control my bones, in ways most people can't. I can turn them into weapons, and armor if needed be."

"Pretty boring stuff huh?" He was still grimacing a little, his body was never the same since the incident. He was very good at tolerating the pain before, but it isn't normal for a showcase as small as that to effect him so badly. "Come on," He faked a smile, not wanting her to notice his discomfort, "the meeting location's just up ahead."

It wasn’t often that Missy shared stories about her past, but it wasn’t often that she met another meta, either. On the off chance that she did find herself in the presence of another, she took pains to distance herself shortly after, not wanting to become friends or risk exposing herself to some kind of rejection. Many metas took pride in their powers, but Missy didn’t think that she would ever be the type to shout it from the rooftops...that would just lead to more collapsed buildings and Metro City had enough of those to last a lifetime.

Regardless of how she felt about herself, she appreciated Peter’s positive spin. At least he was entertained. “It takes a lot to make me mad,” she assured him, a smile peeking through her words. She was much more interested in what he could do, however, and she looked on with curiosity. “How weird can it be?” she asked.

Stopping in her tracks alongside him, Missy rocked back on her heels as he cautioned her against whatever she was about to see. When it came to blood and guts, she was about as wimpy as they came, unable to stomach things like gory scenes in horror movies or the gross-out humor that some of her friends enjoyed. “I can handle it,” she assured anyway. “Show me.” About a moment later, Peter snapped his own finger and Missy wished that she’d taken his warning more seriously. “Oh!” she gasped, her hands flying up to cover her eyes. The crunchy sound made her feel a little sick, too.

Despite the small urge to throw up, it suddenly occurred to her who Peter was. “I know you. You’re Bones,” she said, her hunch only reinforced when he gave a more in-depth explanation as his finger slid back into place. Missy may not have been up to date on most supes, but the unique ones tended to stick out to her. “A girl in my dorm used to go on and on about you,” she chuckled, the queasiness in her stomach subsiding as they started back on their way.

It’s not boring,” she assured. “I’m glad you made it, you know? I thought the attack got all of the big names.” With a guy like Peter on humanity’s side, maybe there was some hope for the planet yet.

"Big name?" He smiled and his cheeks reddened a little bit, "You're making me blush, I'm not big name, just some guy who likes to help. Now come on, we're going to be late!" They continued with their small talk as they neared the meeting point. "Just make sure to keep me being bones our little secret!"
 

Jhuton

The 430th Ghost Lord
Original poster
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Fantasy, Horror, Magic, Apocalyptic, Adventure, Demon
1605806893666.png

[Army Command Tent, Metro City]
The base command tent was a very long, very thick dark green canvas located in the centre of camp. It was a thing of beauty in both size and functionality, though it was far from the biggest around, being dwarfed even by the nearby tent that served as a makeshift mess hall, among others. Despite this, no one could mistake that it was the central point in camp. No less than a half dozen soldiers had been been installed around the entire perimeter of the tent, weapons cocked and ready for action, faces stern and alert. The things that would be said inside in only a matter of moments were sensitive enough that they hadn't left a single opening for any uninvited listeners. There could be no doubting it; anyone who strolled past this part of camp would have no trouble guessing where the directors of the whole operation were herded.

Inside the tent there was only so much space available for furniture and machinery, but someone had organized the place to make the most of it. In the centre of the room, two long tables had been pushed together into one, with chairs spread out along both sides. A few monitors were set up at the back of the tent, all of which were currently dark. There were no openings or transparent patches in the tent, so instead, someone had attached two solitary, flourescent light fixtures unto the roof.

The procession filed in, many discussing things of global consequence in hushed tones. They wasted no time seating themselves around the table and even after every chair had been filled there were still several people left, most of whom were military personnel who chose simply to stand in silence. Someone shut the flap and what little natural light that managed to stream into the tent was cut off. The two overhead lights made all their profiles just a little bit more shadowy and ominous.

This was it. The people gathered in this room were the most important task force mankind had ever assembled. They had come from all over to outline a plan of action against apparent aliens who could rain fire from the sky, something that was still unbelievable even in a world of superheroes. The silence that fell over them and the anxious looks that adorned many of their faces made plain they all knew what was at stake. There was a fair chance that this group held the fate of the world in their hands.

In all, they numbered around seventy people. High ranking military officers, bulked up beneath their intimidating army fatigues. Researchers still wrapped up in long lab coats from whatever experiment or the other they'd been called away from. Government representatives, all looking equally as pensive. There was the Japanese delegation and the French represantitive, both newly arrived in the country. And of course, the assortment of metahumans who had wandered into camp, among which was a child interestingly enough.

Someone cleared his throat very intently, and all eyes went to the back of the room where one of the army men stood. The greying man radiated an intensely authoritative aura that would make clear, even outside of his military apparel, that he was a man used to commanding respect. A bespectacled woman stood just behind him, but she seemed far less used to the attention and almost appeared to be making an effort not to fall under the scrutiny of the room. The man waited a beat to make sure he commanded the entire room's attention before speaking his first words.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Major General James Alvers, and I would like to open by thanking you all for making the journey here. Whether by invite or just stumbling in. We're accepting all the help we can get from every corner. Now I know many of you have travelled long distances to get here so I won't waste your time." He gave one of the technitions a nod and the screens behind him flickered to life in a burst of colour. The fiery images that were being displayed were easily recognizable. D-day in Metro City. The room was set ablaze in bright orange tones cast from the screens and reflecting in the eyes of the spectators.

"We're getting straight into the nitty gritty," Alvers said. "It's no secret by now what happened here four months ago. Metro City suffered one of the most devastating attacks ever launched on American soil, and the culprit was confirmed to be an inhuman threat."

The screen cycled through muted videos of the chaos from Metro City on the day of the attack to damage statistics, death tolls and other morbid data. Then from that it moved on to images of burning and collapsed buildings. One of the images had managed to capture the towering Heroes United building a moment before it was struck down from above. Finally, the screens all switched over to a large, unfamiliar structure in what seemed to be outer space. The craft looked like nothing anyone in the room had ever seen before. The almost rectangular, chromatic structure was all edges and menace. It looked large enough to easily cover two football fields. A few roving eyes in the room swept over the craft, looking for a cannon or weapon. Something big and dangerous enough to destroy a city. But if there was such a fixture it was well hidden.

"If our sattelite images are correct, then the creatures that fired on us are still orbiting the planet and, for all we know, could be getting ready to fire again. We cannot rule out that another major city might meet the same fate as MC. Under no circumstances can we allow that to happen. Which is why several world governments have been working in concert with us to make sure we figure out these creatures and how to take them out." Major General Alvers cued the woman standing next to him and the doctor cleared her throat before stepping hesitantly to the fore and taking over.

"Recently, a team of twenty five men and women from this camp travelled to the original blast site for the purpose of data collection. As we speak, eighteen of those people have died and six others are currently quarantined under twenty four hour care in critical condition." The woman paused for a moment and caught her breath. Many of the sick and the deceased had been her longtime colleagues. "We don't understand the nature of what made them sick, but we do know at the very least that the pathogen tha caused it is close to viral in nature. They picked up something in the blast crater that entered their bodies and...tore their cellular structures apart. The only person who seemed to have any immunity to whatever they picked up, was the sole meta-human who went in with them. A meta who has been missing for the last three days, possibly a victim of the growing meta-human abductions. We weren't able to run tests, but the natural assumption that we've come to is that whatever difference there is in his chromosone that makes him meta also protected him from the pathogens." She stopped speaking as she delivered her final bit of information and Alvers tapped her on the shoulders and nodded. The doctor seemed all too thankful to retreat to her spot once again before Alvers retook the floor.

"We have a lead on where we might be able to find our E.T's and I have designated a team to draw up a plan of action, but for the moment, our main priority should be finding out what else there is to learn in that crater and complete our data collection efforts. That is where the metahumans in this room become important. Invaluable, in fact. I am proposing the formation of a team of meta-humans to finish the mission and return with samples from the crater. We can't just send in regular agents to scout the blast site from the looks of things, but if the empowered among us can possibly withstand the conditions there then it's the best shot we've got. If the metas in this room are willing and able, then we can provide you with a heavy duty vehicle to transport yourselves safely to ground zero." He took only a moment to let his words sink in before continuing. "Now let me say this. There is a gag order protecting everything that is revealed here, including all your civilian identities. We're not looking to exploit your secrets. All we want is your help. But whether your answer is yes or no it is not our intent to expose any of you as supes or metas. Everyone in this room is held to that under the accords that are governing this meeting. So here's the big question. Are you willing to officially join in on this task force?"


~~o~~​


Von Allen [Army Command Tent, Metro City]

There was one thought that kept reverberating in Von's head, and that thought only got louder and more demanding as the meeting progressed. This is bad. This is bad, this is bad, oh crap this is bad. What was he doing here? In this jacked up city that his father's corpse had been pulled from. What was he thinking trying to become some kind of alien hunter? How long had it even taken for this to become life or death? Only a couple hours here and he was already being asked to dive headfirst into a giant cemetery of a crater that was swimming with some kind of alien pathogen. And who was to say they could all survive exposure? They didn't have any data to actually back that up, just the best guess of a bereaved researcher. None of this sounded good and the more Von thought about it the more he felt he was in over his head. Looking around, all he could see were men and women trained to fight under harsh conditions, brilliant scientists and stonefaced government officials. These people were used to all this.They were used to military combat, war room meetings and life or death strategizing. Even Nathaniel, a kid who spent his time shuffling around in sewers, had more moves than him. Von was just a college student that was in way over his head and he knew it.

All those thoughts and more swirled around behind his skull in a violent maelstrom, but in the end he knew it all meant nothing. His mind had been made up long before he ever set foot in Metro City and it wasn't about to change now. He wasn't his father, he was no Untouchable. But he had the power to at least try and fill out his father's footsteps. The whole point of coming here was contribute to the fight and get some sort of closure one way or another. If the general's offer was the best way to do that then so be it. He huffed nervously before deciding on how to best get the room's attention. Scraping his chair back, he rose to his feet with infinitely more confidence than he felt.

"I'm in. I'll help you get your samples and whatever else you need as long as I get to stay in the loop."
 

Quake

For the Audience of One.
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Fantasy/ Sci-Fi.
“There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.”
-Edwin Markham

[Army Command Tent, Metro City]

Edward leaned back in his seat, casually rolling a pair of dice in his right palm. As he hummed softly to himself, he thought over all the information that had been provided in the day’s meeting.

Aliens. It was a crazy idea. And yet, In a world of superhumans and otherworldly powers it really wasn’t that unbelievable to imagine that such interstellar beings existed. Edward could only wonder if he really had the capabilities to face off against unknown invaders that wielded such destructive power. He was only a magician, after all. Human beings were one thing. They were predictable; easily manipulated. Aliens, on other hand, were a big unknown x-factor. So much of Edward’s performance and trickery depended on predictable behavior; he couldn’t help but wonder if it would all fail him when presented before extraterrestrial life. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something he could just pawn off onto someone else. Save for the people in this base, there was no one else.

Glancing around the room, Edward realized he had little knowledge of the other inhumans there. He might have seen one or two of them at some fleeting point in his life, but not in a memory that he would easily recall. Probably for the best, he thought. He was never one to delve into other’s lives. It always made things too complicated.

As the last Von Farbe went over his options, a young man spoke up, pledging his support to the General and his invitation. He was the first to do so, and Edward could tell he was clearly uncomfortable. It was a brave choice to make; one a lesser man would turn down in a heartbeat. The Rainbow Magician knew this, and it was because of this that he found himself inspired.

Well now, I suppose we can’t simply let a strapping young man like yourself go on your own now, can we?” Edward clapped with glee, springing up from his seat and sauntering his way over to Von. “Fear not, young boy! You shall have me at your side! Edward, the great and powerful! We shall fight back the darkness with...hopefully more than two of us!” Edward laughed nervously at the thought, resting his hand on the boy's shoulder. “If nothing else, we shall confuse these invaders with trickery and bamboozle their minds with magic! Oh what a sight it shall be! I have never performed for aliens, y’know! I dare say it would be quite the experience! Do you think they like card tricks? Or perhaps, they favor more of a vanishing coin style of performance! Either way, we shall meet them...h-head on! ”
 

Ur Degaton

Ashes To Ashes
Metro City Harbor

Ever since metro was crippled by the explosion, the local economy was severely affected. To remedy this the U.S. along with other countries involved in humanitarian efforts sent hundreds of ships containing supplies, resources, and materials to rebuild the city’s infrastructure. Due to such a large influx of coastal activity, harbormasters are forced to work overtime and thus, sometimes misplace or forget certain ship records. Something that Nikolai is counting on.

15 miles off the coast of Metro City

The SS. Haley is a freelance ship that moved cargo for various companies and benefactors. Seemingly innocent in the eyes of cargo shipping companies, what many don’t know is that they are well known in the criminal underworld for transporting resources, drugs, and even hostages for many criminal organizations and black markets.

“Goddamnit be careful with that!” Captain Williams yelled at his crew as they clumsily moved a very heavy crate into a very large shipping container. “The contents of that container are worth more than all of our annual salaries combined, so stop dropping every crate you move like it’s fucking IKEA furniture!”

As the crew finished moving the cargo, a resounding thud could be heard from the side of the ship.

“What in the blazes was that?” The captain shouted before looking to one of the armed sailors. “Go check it out.”

The guard nods before walking over and peering over the edge. Only to have a hand grab them by the collar and throw them overboard.

seconds later a figure climbs up on to the boat. The stranger was clothed in a black costume with some kind of kevlar vest and utility belt.

“Who the hell are you?” The captain shouted as a contingent of armed sailors surrounded the enigmatic visitor.

The stranger looked at the guards and quickly analyzes them. He counted a dozen armed men carrying an assortment of AK’s AR’s, and shotguns. They wore no body armor and didn’t seem to have much fire-arm training, judging by the fact that some of them had their guns haphazardly aiming at their colleagues.

After finishing his musings, the stranger looks to the captain. His voice was deep and low to an unnatural degree, courtesy of the voice modulator built into his suit. “I’m taking this vessel, I suggest you get on the life boats and leave.”

Captain Williams stares at him speechless, caught off guard by the sheer audacity of the stranger. This doesn’t last long though as the captain quickly regains his bearings.

“Boys, I want you to shoot this bloody twa-“ before Williams could finish the sentence his head explodes, sending gore all over his men.

Said men looked in horror as their leader was eviscerated right in front of them. A once respected sea captain now reduced to worm food.

The stranger stood there, holding a large handgun that was smoking at the barrel. the gun itself didn’t look like any ordinary fire-arm, it seemed almost hand made and lacked any features to distinguish it as any particular brand or model of pistol.

“I am Nemesis, and I will slay all that stand in my way,” The costumed stranger theatrically proclaimed right before the crew of the SS. Haley opened fire on their assailant.

Nemesis is quick to duck behind a few crates as a hailstorm of bullets pelted his location. He was outnumbered, but numbers meant little to him. It only provided the costumed meta-human more target practice.

After the crew run out of bullets, they examine the damage they’ve done. Bullet holes were riddled everywhere and a fraction of the cargo had been turned to Swiss cheese. Something that Nemesis was none too happy about, he needed that cargo, it was the whole reason he was hijacking the ship in the first place.

“No way he could’ve survived that,” one sailor comments as they look at the destruction their reckless gunfire had brought.

Nemesis meanwhile, contemplated his next course of action. While the gunfire did destroy much of the area he was hiding in, luckily the crates he was hiding behind were filled with something thick enough to stop any bullets from passing through.

Gonna need to finish this quickly, I’ll be in trouble if they manage to flank me’

Hastily reaching into his utility belt, he pulled out a small, marble sized red pellet.

“Try this one on for size,” he muttered to himself before lobbing the small orb from behind his cover and at the crew.

Some of them backed away as the pellet rolled towards them, but one of them, a muscular man wielding a shotgun, wasn’t so impressed.

“Ha, you think a little firecracker is gonna scare me?” The muscle bound sailor snarked in amusement as he reached down and picked it up. He examined the small object before looking to his fellow sailors.

“What are you cowards so worried about? this guy is full of shit, he may have killed captain Williams, but that was a lucky shot, the guy is probably some small time thug looking to scare us outta our business.” The sailor then looks to where Nemesis is hiding. “You may have fooled these idiots, but not me.”

Nemesis snorted at the idiot’s speech before pressing down on the detonator he held in his hand.

a few milliseconds later the red pellet exploded, setting the man on fire like tinder wood.

While the crew was busy watching the sailor’s flesh melt off, Nemesis took advantage of the distraction and ran out of cover, right towards them. He pulls out a second handgun that’s identical to the first and opens fire like it’s high noon at the Ok Corral.

The crew doesn’t have time to react as they’re picked off one by one, high caliber lead tearing through them like a weed whacker to grass, leaving large gaping holes in abdomens, heads, and even legs.

Nemesis was quick and efficient when firing his gun, making sure not a single bullet missed its target. He made sure to always hit somewhere vital, so that he didn’t have to deal with the screams and cries of injured foes.

After he was done nearly a dozen men lay dead on the cold red metal floor of the ship.

The crew of the SS. Haley, was no more.

That is, until a groan of pain emanated from one of the sailors, causing Nemesis to turn to them.

Holstering his guns, Nemesis strolls over to the injured seaman, whose stomach was torn open by a bullet that barely missed his kidney.

“P-Please, don’t kill me, I only work at this job because I’m contractually obligated to work at sea. I-I have a daughter, she’s eleven, and I’m the only family she has left, so ple-“ before the sailor could finish, Nemesis put his boot on his neck, cutting off his airflow and garbling his speech.

“Your daughter? Family? Don’t make me laugh, she may lose her father, and she’ll grieve for a time, but over the years she’ll forget about you, and eventually you’ll be but a distant memory in her head, an afterthought,” he growled out threateningly as he applied more pressure to the man’s throat, but after a few seconds of watching the injured sailor flail around from asphyxiation, he suddenly stopped.

Taking his foot off the man’s neck, Nemesis grunted in irritation before walking away, leaving the man to gulp down precious air like a fish out of water.

‘Hannah, I hope you stay safe’ the sailor thought before eventually falling unconscious.

Some time later

The only survivor of the SS. Haley groaned in pain as he rubbed his eyes. As the memories came flooding back he quickly sat up and looked around at his surroundings. He was on a beach, the Metro City beach to be precise. Grunting in pain, he looked down at his wound to discover that it had been bandaged by someone, but by who?

And more importantly, who left him on the beach?
 
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