Nigh-Invulnerable

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by four, Dec 30, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
    • @cactsus and @four.

      A professional hero finds himself in a hard situation trying to fend off a monster of the week that has proven too powerful for him to handle. To his surprise, a mundane-looking pedestrian emerges and effortlessly defeats the threat. Asked of his identity, the pedestrian replies that he is just a normal salaryman.

      This is a story about an everyday person who wants nothing to do with mad scientists and alien invasions, but happens to be blessed with immense power; and a small-time hero trying too hard to persuade him to put his potential to use to fight on the side of the good guys.

      A deconstructive, lighthearted tale, In the spirit of One Punch Man.



      CAST:
      ____________________________________________________________

      JAY KIM
      the ...

      5’9’ | Male | 27 | Lawful Neutral​


      Appearance

      Overall he has a masculine but unassuming appearance. Having a mother that was Mexican and a father who was Korean gave him curly, dark brown hair, a wide jaw, defined cheeks, and small eyes. His hair he wears in a professional cut with the top longer but not drastically so. If you don't gather from his manner and the way he carries himself, you can definitely tell from the look in his eyes that he's a hardworking man probably suffering from some severe sleep-deprivation.
      He dresses professionally in suits and watches, usually with a briefcase somewhere nearby.
      Most would agree that his appearance isn't anything noteworthy.


      Personality

      Jay is an average, relatable guy with an unrivaled passion for his career. This up-and-coming assistant business manager feels strongly about his work and the advancement of his title-- and when it comes down to it, he can be outright heartless in the competitive workplace environment. He puts in hours tirelessly at his job, planning and carrying out business-related objectives for Fanpo (the 2nd biggest fan producer/distributor globally!)

      Apart form his work, Jay Kim, a bachelor, has developed an affinity for all things concerning house work. He's an expert when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

      Socially, there isn't much worth mentioning.


      Skills/Abilities

      Among his many skills, writing an amazing resume, finishing full twenty-page reports in mere hours, and being consistently punctual are his most prized. He also has immense, unbeatable physical strength.



      ____________________________________________________________



      CAESAR CRAVEN
      the Longcoat Wizard

      5’11’’ | Male | 25 | Chaotic Good


      Alliterative names to the maximum, courtesy of cheesy hero stories.

      Appearance

      Of average height and build.

      His facial features are sharp but not exceedingly masculine, with a straight nose, thin eyebrows, and prominent lashes. Has dark, slightly curly hair, blessed with the uncanny ability to actually not appear too bad in the medium-length, unkempt mess that it usually falls in.

      Terribly vain and perfectly willing to admit it, he goes to great lengths to maintain his appearance. He imagines himself to some sort of untouchable king of cool, although the truthfulness in that varies greatly depending on the observer.

      The most iconic element in his costume is a black longcoat, which he wears over a long-sleeved T-shirt with the ends of the sleeves covering most of his hands, doubling as gloves. He’s adopted a single circle as an emblem of his hero persona, and has it printed on the part in the front of the T-shirt that shows through the partly-buttoned coat. The outfit also includes dress pants and a pair of old-fashion leather shoes. Alternatively, he is sometimes seen in a sloppily put together suit and tie.

      Having a fondness of accessories, he wears a necklace, many rings, and sometimes a knit cap and a pair of large sunglasses.


      Personality

      The swiftness with which he switches between personalities is truly astounding to those who first witness it. Towards the public, he upholds a persona of a reliable hero - calm, capable, and courteous; but not without the occasional flair with the speeches and boasts.

      Underneath that, however, he has too jolly a personality for anyone to be trusted. Perpetually cheerful, he slips into nonsensical rambling all too often, the content of which revealing much about his weird, personal brand of optimism, as well as his profound lack of understanding about how much of the world actually works. Not extraordinarily good at telling apart times appropriates for nonsense banter and times that are not, his speech is a mess of a mixture of witty, amusing remarks, and blatant lies. His fascination towards heroism is what drove him into the trade in the first place, and it hasn’t been reduced a bit as his attitude towards heroes of high reputation borders on fanboying.

      A glory seeker by nature with slight blood knight tendencies, he fights the hero fight because he enjoys it. A good person at heart, he does care dearly about the people and the city he’s tasked himself to protect, but that is often overshadowed by an exuberant desire to make a name for himself, and a tendency to revel a bit too much in the fights. Overly confident in his capabilities, he would often have already charges into the fray by the time he assessments reveal that it is all too much for him to handle single-handedly. Him surviving to this day is a mixture of cleverness, fast reactions, and sheer luck.

      In terms of personal relationships, his eagerness backfires often, with many of the people who have found his personality to be at least entertaining quickly growing tired as his antics cross the lines into being obnoxious. Despite genuinely wishing the best for his friends, his inability to reconcile his own perception of “best” with the opinions of the recipient result in a tendency for his constant interfere with other people’s life to become troubling.


      Skills/Abilities

      Magic user. His own preferred version of an explanation is that he can “cut and fold the fabric of reality if he thinks hard enough” - which is a much fancier way of conveying the fact that the only functioning form of his magic is the ability to open up pairs of portals that lead to each other. The most frequently visited application is teleportation, but he can be seen using it in combat as well as to carry out mundane tasks such as retrieving his scooter keys from where he left them in the living room without having to go back out of the garage.

      Has also received some training and can put up a decent hand-to-hand fight. Wields a plain metal quarterstaff as a trademark weapon - presumably fashioned from something he picked up at a construction site at some point and decided to keep handy.


    10:00 AM | ONE CITY | EIGHTH FLOOR APARTMENT

    The apartment on the eighth floor was empty, but the lights were on. So was the television set. The man on the screen was far enough into his rant he was barely making the effort to be facing the camera anymore.

    “ - Remember when it was about acts of bravery, about belief in the power of one person changing the world for the better!”

    The hoarse voice was not as much of an act as it was something that one would acquire naturally if they spent fifteen years screaming in a studio. He wore a full suit and sat at a desk with a greenscreened background behind him, with his name plastered across the banner. With his accent and the way he slammed his fist into the table between every two words he stressed, though, he could just as well have just downed his fourth mug of beer that night and slouching against a bar stand.

    “Heroism is over, I tell you. The good old days are over - nobody cares anymore, nobody -”
    Because he would have choked on himself otherwise, there was a brief pause in the harangue, just long enough for the sentence “costumed hero rescues local cat” to make its way halfway across the marquee on the bottom of the screen.

    “ - and now all we’ve got are these self-important pricks in cheap costumes throwin pathetic punches at - these - “

    His hands waved in the air as he tried to come up with a description that would carry the appropriate amount of mockery.

    “ - these ridiculous squid monsters -”

    Because of the fact that it was a late night talk show and the airing in the morning was a replaying of the live version last night, and also because that the electricity being cut in a certain eighth-floor apartment wouldn’t affect a news studio in another city anyway - the show continued even as the floor trembled and the screen flickered. Then the television, along with the lights in the apartment, went out.



    08:40 AM | ONE CITY | STREETS

    A little more than an hour earlier.

    Late night talk show host Billy Chadwick had his morning commute severely inconvenienced by the incident of an oversized cephalopod arm slapping onto his windshield.
    “frippin’ -”

    Pedestrians spectated in horror as moist, sucker-lined tendrils latched onto the pavement on the river banks, and the body of the creature emerged from beneath the waters.

    - frippin jinxed it,” he muttered and let go of the steering wheel as the tentacle wrapped around his vehicle and lifted into the air.


    ENTER: RIDICULOUS SQUID MONSTER


    The Billy Chadwick Show
    did not claim itself to be a pinnacle of scientific accuracy. The host himself, however, was familiar enough with the laws of physics that he would probably be able to give a rather compelling explanation why a cephalopod, made almost entirely from muscle tissue and lacking a skeleton, will not be able to grow to the size of a small house and walk on land without being crushed beneath its own weight.

    The squid hauled itself out of the water and onto the sidewalk, made a gurgling noise, then lifted the car and tossed it into the air to express its opinion towards having its existence questioned by what a puny human thought he knew about the laws of physics.

    A few screams came from the streets, the city folk stopping in the middle of their trips to work or to school upon witnessing this absurdity. The few seconds felt a lot longer than a few seconds for Billy, who watched as the cityscape outside of his car window did an aileron roll, while he was himself strapped helplessly to the seat of a vehicle that wasn’t designed to be airborne. For one instant the world outside was upside down, and the inside of the car was without gravity. His closed his eyes and waited for the fall to begin. Yet before his eyes were completely shut, he caught a glimpse of the sight of a circle - a circle of bright white flame, through which -

    The landing came a lot sooner than it reasonably would have, and the light thud was truly underwhelming in comparison to the spectacular crash that never happened.

    Confused, he opened his eyes. His car had somehow emerged resting - upside down, but otherwise safely - upon the ground.

    Nailed it.” Said the young man outside the car as, behind him, a much smaller, but similarly flaming, circular portal sealed itself.


    ENTER: SELF-IMPORTANT PRICK IN A COSTUME


    Portal magic had a number of applications that made certain things a lot more convenient, including getting oneself to the site instantaneously upon notification of a monster attack, and intercepting a car mid-air and transporting it safely back onto the ground.

    Caesar Craven straightened the collar of his black longcoat. A white circle printed onto the front of his shirt showed between the collars of the coat as she stood, leather shoes on the pavement with the capsized car between himself and the monster on the other side of the riverside road. He smiled - this must have been the best entrance he pulled off in months.

    “‘you alright old man?” He asked, bending to look at the man stuck in his car. Looks startled, but not injured. Could probably get himself out of there without help -

    Old man? Who are you calling an old man you disrespectful little -

    -could definitely get himself out there without help.

    Taking his attention away from the civilian, he cast his sight towards the creature and its angry, tentacle-thrashing tantrum. Caesar pulled his weapon out of the coat, the metal quarterstaff just long enough to have its tip scrape against the asphalt as he swung it a circle to get a good grip.

    “Dear citizens, please do not panic,” he announced, smiling. Due courtesy.

    He squinted at the squid across the road.

    Several minutes earlier, Caesar Craven was slouching around in his eighth-floor apartment, having scarcely awoken and was only moments from the decision to actually get off the couch and go get some morning coffee, or the decision to turn the television off because he fell asleep before he could turn it off last night and now it was a middle-aged man blabbering nonsense on the screen. The pre-recorded programme was interrupted by an emergency broadcast; and several minutes later he was fully dressed, had his shoes on and weapon in hand, and had decided to do without the coffee because there was nothing more sobering than a monster incident in the morning anyway. Several minutes later, he was charging straight in the direction of the giant squid, hollywood-samurai-duel style.

    The squid squinted back.

    Several minutes later, he was feeling a bit overwhelmed because parrying four wildly thrashing appendages with two hands on one metal rod was something pretty inherently difficult.
    Seizing a temporary opening, he found the time to step backwards into a freshly opened circle of white, and emerged on the other side, behind the creature.

    The squid was too large and too heavy, and the four other limbs that supported it were too clumsy to be able to adjust in time. He had a clear shot.

    Feet latching onto the rim of the pavement along the river, he brought the staff down with both hands in a blow that surely carried enough force to crack a skull.

    The back of the head of the squid monster lacked a skull and gave off a somewhat anti-climatic squish sound.

    “Eh.”

    Several metres away from the fight scene. Late night talk show host Billy Chadwick had just succeeded in freeing himself from the restraints of a safety belt and a car door whose handle was very hard to properly locate and operate because everything was upside-down. Stepping out of the vehicle, he narrowed his eyes to see, off the other side of the road, a little splash on the surface of the water where Caesar tripped, lost his balance, and had plopped into the river.
    Scratching the back of its head with one of its tendrils, the squid let out a slightly louder gurgling sound and, slowly, turned itself around.

    Another several metres away, a crowd of citizens had stopped in their morning commuting trips to spectate, and were slightly confused as to what just happened. Somewhere amidst them, a circle opened in the air, and a soaked and slightly disoriented Caesar apologised as a large amount of river-water gushed out of the portal behind him, cascaded onto the pavement, and ruined a great many suits that people were wearing to work.
     
    #1 four, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 29, 2016
  1. 06:00AM | ONE CITY | DOWNTOWN FLAT

    Jay sat quietly in his underwear and a stained white T-shirt staring vacantly into a bowl of cereal. Stacks of folders and papers (all in impeccable condition with no creases or extraneous marks) spread out beside him on the kitchen table, and behind him a television set wrestled between the images of a popular girl group and static. He wondered if he was depressed as he gently nudged a Cheerio around with his spoon. The bags under his eyes were heavy enough that he could feel them pulling his face down. Mornings were always rough.



    07:00AM | ONE CITY | DOWNTOWN FLAT

    Jay, now in a suit, sat passed out in the same chair. The bowl of cereal from earlier had been rinsed and placed in the dish washer, but papers still covered the table in neat little piles, slightly shifted from their previous positions. A harsh static sound resonated throughout the otherwise silent flat.



    08:00AM | ONE CITY | DOWNTOWN FLAT

    Jay stood in front of a small, but extremely clean mirror gargling mouthwash. He spat it into a shiny, spotless sink that sat just below the mirror and exhaled heavily. Toothpaste foam filled the small divots in either side of his mouth. He took a swig from a coffee cup on the bathroom counter and winced at the distorted, sour taste. The side of the cup read “#1 SON” in big red lettering; it was a gift from his mom. Static could still be heard softly echoing from the other room. ‘I really need to fix my television,’ Jay thought to himself. The signal hadn’t been coming through recently and he wasn’t sure why, but he’d put off calling the cable company about it for long enough that he’d begun to just accept watching his regular programs through a grainy, static lens.



    08:35AM | ONE CITY | STREETS

    Jay, carefully groomed and ready for work (the papers covering his table before now neatly packed into the polished leather briefcase he carried), stepped out of his building and started toward the inner city. He’d strategically chosen this building from the ones that were available for its proximity to his office, but could’ve easily afforded something much nicer if he’d settled for a further location. In all honesty, he lived in a pretty shitty part of town, which was apparent from the chaos he deliberately ignored as he walked down his block. More than one couple were viciously arguing outside and clusters of high school-aged kids sat on the steps lining the sidewalks in intervals of a few meters, loudly joking with each other and shouting taunts at the distraught couples or fighting amongst themselves, despite school having started an hour ago. One of them tried to engage with Jay, but he’d gone selectively deaf to anything anyone under the drinking age had to say to him.

    At the corner of his block a prostitute, a surprisingly kind woman who he passed nearly every day on his commute since moving in, waved and offered her customary “have a nice day” in a deep raspy voice that hinted at decades of constant smoking. Jay nodded to her politely, like he did every day.

    His destination, a very tall, but otherwise ordinary, high-rise with the company title, Fanpo, in relatively small white letters at the top corner was only 17 blocks away. As he walked, Jay caught himself lamenting the chill in the air. It wasn’t even that cold, but ever since he was a kid he’d been too finicky about temperature. Or maybe he just liked to complain.

    Gradually the buildings around him got nicer and the crowd of people walking beside him on the sidewalk thickened. Just more people on their way to work. Determination filled Jay as he neared his office. He was close, maybe a little less than halfway, to his destination when he realized he heard screaming. As he glanced around himself he noticed the crowd of businessmen had thinned out slightly as well. Jay’s pace slowed. Looking ahead with squinted eyes, he groaned. A massive squid flailed its tentacles in the distance. ‘It’ll be fine. All of these other people are just planning to cut through this mess to get to their offices as well.’ Jay thought, nervously checking his watch and then eyeing the pedestrians around him.

    Down the road some way off a hero looked to be arriving on the scene. Even from this range he looked pompous... But at least he was taking care of things. Jay tried his best to avoid looking at the spectacle and just keep walking. The hero seemed like he was putting on a show and a few citizens were clearly just standing around to watch... Jay looked down at his nails; they seemed clean. The hero was jumping around, doing something with a metal stick, avoiding the tentacles... The crowd was getting hard to navigate through. Jay frustratedly pleaded with people to move out of the way just a little for him as he neared the block where everything was happening, a steady stream of excuse-me’s falling out of his mouth while he pushed through the growing mob. It was becoming progressively harder to get anywhere. This was exactly what he’d been afraid of. The monster was marginally larger than usual so everyone seemed excited. And maybe a little panicked. Jay looked ahead to see the hero falling into the river. He tried to think about work, reciting a small presentation he planned to give for his bosses in a few days that would hopefully convince them to switch from one plastic manufacturer to another (although both manufacturers produced essentially the same quality of plastic and worked out to have identical costs, this new manufacturer had a better public reputation). Realistically, this wasn’t the type of thing that warranted a presentation. When he first mentioned it the bosses all agreed with him that this change of manufacturers was fine, but he’d been adamant in requesting to go about the decision-making process more formally because he wante--

    Suddenly a gush of cool water hit Jay’s back. In the split second that it took him to realize that he was soaking wet all of the blood fell from his face. He went pale and put a hand to his mouth. Just barely he could hear the sound of someone apologizing behind him over his own heartbeat which steadily rose alongside his blood pressure. The slight chill he’d felt earlier was gone and despite his limited medical knowledge he was positive that his body was going into shock. ‘My suit.’ Jay looked down at his expensive gold watch, which was now dripping with river water. ‘My watch.’ Jay nervously shifted his gaze to the wet briefcase dangling pitifully from his clenched fist and bit his lip to keep tears from welling up in his eyes. ‘My report...’ When Jay turned around he saw the hero from earlier standing there, also drenched.

    With an obscene amount of effort Jay managed to restrain his anger, and with a hollow gesture wiped away the stream of water drizzling over his brow. After a shaky breath Jay turned back around and continued down the sidewalk in a daze, slowly squeezing past the other shocked, wet businessmen.
     
    #2 cactsus, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  2. This was not where I intended for the portal to open to was one of the many thoughts that crossed Caesar’s mind as his shoes hit the ground and the cascade of river-water hit him soon after.

    Portals not connecting properly was something that happened from time to time, and it wasn’t all that surprising that it happened at the point because it was hard to be thinking straight while also intensely wishing not to drown. Or not to have his clothes soaked and hair ruined, for that matter.

    Water dripping from his coat into the puddle around his shoes and damp hair clinging to his forehead, he staggered a little, nearly tripped over himself again on the slippery floor, before eventually recovering his balance.

    “Sorry for the inconvenience,” he shouted at the crowd around him, somewhat guiltily as more than one pedestrian in his proximity let out little screams and moped over their wet personal belongings.

    Turning his head, he returned his attention to his task at hand, and scanned the surroundings for a little. One of the complexities with travelling with portal gates was that one was generally much less certain where in relation with everything else any location was, and that was especially true when winding up somewhere accidentally; something that may prove problematic when, for instance, the possibility existed for a giant squid monster to suddenly attack from a random direction. The only choice was usually to gather visual references as quickly as possible. How far is this from the -

    That train of thought was soon interrupted. Halfway into taking in the surroundings, his eyes contacted those of a man in a business suit not far away into the slowly dissipating crowd. The man wasn’t tall, and neither did there seem to be anything outstanding about his face. Brown hair, professional cut, small eyes. He also had in hand a badly soaked briefcase.

    The way his dark-circled eyes on his paled face screamed simultaneously of grief and suppressed anger would strike a most unnerving sense of fear into anyone who happened to find themselves looking at them - the sort that is half what a parent feels when a child is just about to cry, and half the feeling one would get when they looked into the eyes of someone who intended to murder them.

    Caesar froze for a moment, and by the time the chill was done running down his spine, that businessman in the distance seemed to have turned away and was on his way leaving.

    Huh.

    Alright, where was I? He thought as he shook his head and blinked a few times to get the disorientation out of his brain. The crowd was clearing a little.

    Then he remembered. Oh, yeah. Where’s the -

    A giant squid monster entered the scene and attacked suddenly from a random direction.

    From what he had already gathered by that time, Caesar was estimating a few hundred metres between where the site at the river and where he ended up, and was just getting confident that the clumsy creature wouldn’t have gone far in any direction. As such, he was very confused as he was tossed through the air into a rolling landing several metres away. Putting himself back on his feet, he saw through blurry eyes that the creature had adopted a new form of locomotion. It had curled up its head, and tucked a few of its arms in so that the shape assumed by its entire body approximated a sphere.

    It was rolling itself along.

    Caesar had a reaction time fast enough to throw himself through a portal but not fast enough to close it in time.

    Several blocks away, a white, flaming circle opened in the air, and out of it fell a young man in a black longcoat followed by a vaguely spherical mass of soft tissue and flailing tentacles.

    Caesar had been a registered professional hero for no less than a few years, and he had been practising his magic for far longer than that. Through that time he had devised an impressive number of tricks - an assortment of stock maneuvers that would be borderline impossible to pull off on first try, but were manageable through muscle memory, and could be put to use in the specific scenarios they were designed for. He had considered the possibility of the necessity to be able to quickly get himself back on his feet after being thrown, but also having to do that without losing track of a moving enemy. The solution was a sequence of portals in mid-air, cleverly oriented such that the momentum of his fall acting in tandem with gravity would guide his trajectory in a given direction, until friction shaved his velocity down to something that allowed for a controlled landing. A move this flamboyant wasn’t something that he had to break out often, but he was confident that he remembered it well enough to pull it off now.

    A flurry of portal gates opened and shut in quick succession, leaving a trail of white residue flame as Caesar, throwing himself through one of them after another, kept a stable few paces lead in front of the rolling monster. And as the last portal sealed itself, he would’ve cheered for himself at how properly he had angled the landing, if he hadn’t also, at that moment, remembered that he neglected to consider the fact that the water on his shoes made them awfully slippery.

    He slipped on the pavement, messed up the landing, and along with with the giant, tumbling ball of squid, he crashed into something whose shape vaguely resembled a man in a suit who had a briefcase in hand.
     
    #3 four, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  3. The overwhelming scent of squid and river sludge that wafted through the air and a whole collection of thrilling sounds (disordered, sloshing footsteps; scattered cries of terror; the low shriek of infrastructure protesting against the serious tremors that shot through the ground every time that monstrosity of a squid shifted its weight; etc...) followed Jay as he walked away, stone faced, trying to imagine how he would recover from the loss of his report: a generic paper he'd written to outline the current subtle differences between the old and potential new manufacturers Fanpo could utilize-- which loosely related to the presentation he would be giving in a few days and was quite a similar matter except for the fact that it was mandatory work and covered a larger range of producers. He'd loved and nurtured it like a child: that accursed, time-eating report... He'd spent so long toiling over the rough draft that his back had ached ever since he woke up and the callouses on his index and middle fingers were still stained blue from ink in spite of being scrubbed raw during the hand-washing segment of his morning routine. Jay clicked his tongue bitterly. Of course there were backups of the draft, but nothing would replace all the vital, meticulous revisions he'd penned on the copies over the past two days. Hours of work were now just diluted blotches of ink on half-dissolved paper.

    He sighed; mourning over all of this would just waste more time. So, as swiftly as he'd sunken into his depressive state, Jay regained his mental composure and resolved to stop dwelling on what had already happened. He would walk into work damp, but confident and do his best to make up for the loss in the few hours he had left to hand in his report. He would show his bosses how dedicated he was to every step of the managerial process, even in the face of such adversity. Jay sucked in a deep breath. He was a passionate, hard-working man. Everything would be okay.

    Or so he'd imagined before a violent jolt broke his thoughts. Ah, somebody's bumped into me, he realized, catching a glimpse of a black figure collapsing into his side. Was it the hero from earlier? It was certainly hero-sized. And soaking wet at that. Jay was marginally surprised that something crashed into him despite the fact that he'd tried so stubbornly to shun everything that was happening... But even still this hadn't quite shaken his determination to ignore the progression of events around him, and he desperately clung to the sliver of hope that getting wet would be the extent of his involvement in the situation, before (perhaps milliseconds later) catching a glimpse of something significantly more colossal, and squid-like rolling towards him.

    Reflexively, Jay lifted a hand to swat the loose sphere of mucous meat away. But, just as the monstrous squid slammed into the back of his open hand, it shattered into a million different fleshy fragments, spraying a fine mist of blood out in every direction (with no regard for Jay's already soiled suit). The shock wave that resulted was powerful enough to blow Jay's hair back for what seemed like several seconds. Where the squid had been just a moment ago was now empty apart from the few drops of tissue and blood that had shot upwards and now were raining back to the ground. A solid, deep red and bits of squid for texture thickly coated the immediate area, leaving only shadow-like patches of clean pavement.

    After a short pause Jay lifted a hand to partially wipe the heavy layer of blood off his face. A chunk of congealed blood slid down the front of his suit-- the back of which, because it had been facing away from explosion, was completely untouched by the carnage. His briefcase, similarly, was half-painted in gore. Looking down at himself, he almost sobbed. Water was one thing; if it was just water, with some minor adjustments to his work space (a plastic bag over his chair, maybe an improvised shower cap to keep his hair from dripping onto papers or his keyboard) he could still go into the office, but now... Walking in like this would be beyond inappropriate... But the time it would take to go home and clean up would definitely make him late, and he hadn't been late for anything in over eight years (since his rebellious high school days). Even thinking about it... being late... caused goosebumps to prickle his extremities. Worst case scenarios flashed across Jay's mind as he envisioned himself walking in at 9:31AM only to be immediately fired and forced to spend the rest of his life standing on that corner beside the kind prostitute he passed every morning, wishing some other business man a good day at work... And all of this of course only added to the setback of having the revised copy of his report destroyed...

    I can't let it end like this, Jay told himself, pitifully as he squinted his moistening eyes at the road behind himself to look down the path he'd just come from. His flat was more than several blocks down: too far, by any means... Even if he managed to hail a taxi... No, even just the time it would take to shower and then change would be much too long... There was absolutely no going back...

    Jay looked around himself, panicked for another moment, set down his briefcase, and then booked it over to the riverside where he hopped a small fence and awkwardly tumbled over the rocky ledge beyond it before deliberately and clumsily falling into the murky water.
     
    #4 cactsus, Jan 13, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  4. Being a hero was not about keeping the people safe, so Caesar had heard, from one of his more pragmatic friends in the circle. There’s always going to be some threat you can’t overpower, there’s always going to be a scene you can’t get there in time. It is therefore more important that the people feel safe. Tell them that they are protected, that there is no need for panic, and as long as they believe it there isn’t really the necessity that those statements are grounded in reality.

    Caesar denounced those notions, partly because he’s in it more for the excitement than for anything about ensuring the safety of anything, but mostly because in his particular case the part about not being able to get somewhere in time was nonsense.

    The practicalities weren’t lost in him. however.

    “Mister, please, there is no need for panic -”

    Caesar said to the civilian as he, after a considerable amount of struggling, regained his footing. His weapon was lying on the ground several metres away after the mess he made with the crash, but retrieving it was an issue trivially resolved by a pair of well placed circular cuts in space and having his hand at the right place for the stick to fall into.

    What concerned him more was the fact that the squid was now nowhere to be seen.

    He narrowed his eyes as he scanned his surroundings.

    Where did it go? Something that large - it is simply inconceivable that the creature could’ve gone anywhere far, even taking into account its new method of locomotion.

    He waited. Nothing happened, which was bad, because it only looks like nothing is happening when things are happening when he didn’t see them. He'd been ambushed once, it didn't end well, and the last thing he wanted was for it to happen all over again.

    Flip, where did it go? He thought as a chunk of flesh landed on his forehead.

    Instinctively he brought a hand up, but before it could reach his forehead the chunk slid off his face under its own weight and splattered into an indistinct pile of mush on the pavement.

    What the actual fruit?

    ...and was it raining blood?

    At this point, Caesar wasn’t even trying to make sense of everything that’s happening, for he was already quite certain there was no amount of thinking that would allow everything to make any more sense.

    Instead, he ended up staring in utter confoundment at the businessman that was just standing beside him.

    Usually, a coincidence of these proportions would have elicited a larger response from Caesar - he wasn’t the sort of person who would back down from an opportunity to be over-dramatic. But for some reason - perhaps the sense of astonishment could also be numbed in the same way the other senses could? When Caesar laid eyes upon the soaked hair and circled eyes and realised that the face they belonged to was the exact same one that he saw in a crowd back then - the one with that murder stare - he felt little surprise, but instead simply added the issue of coming up with a satisfactory way to compensate for his badly damaged suit to an already large mental repository of unsolved problems.

    Said businessman was also covered in blood. Before Caesar could worry about it, the man seemingly mumbled a few things before he, slightly clumsily, ran towards the river banks and threw himself into the water.

    What.

    For a few moments, little happened. It was past the time where morning traffic reached its peak by then, and the streets were relatively free of hustle. Caesar was standing, soaked in water, blood, and who knows what else, the taste of a seafood stand unattended to remaining in his mouth and nose; and somewhere under the surface of the river a businessman was either succeeding at suicide or failing at not drowning.

    It was arguably the least weird scene that the morning has seen.

    Then, silently, a portal materialised a few metres away from where Caesar was facing, out of which spilled another cascade of river water, a suitcase, and seconds after the suitcase, the businessman.

    Per routine, what he should do is to walk over, help the man up, and politely ask him whether he was okay. But the less-than-pretty answer to that question was known to both of them, so Caesar opted for another one.

    “... Do you ... have any idea what just happened to that squid.”
     
  5. The chill of the water was enough to tense Jay's muscles and constrict his chest. Holding a big mouthful of air, he frantically rubbed himself over-- paying special attention to the creases in his suit and the roots of his hair-- to try and wipe the blood away as thoroughly and quickly as possible. Just as he was really getting into it, though, the pressure around him changed. Suddenly, somehow, he was falling onto the street he'd been standing on a few moments ago.

    It was disorienting to say the least.

    When he met the wet, and still quite bloody, ground he didn't manage to land with much dignity. Jay stared, wearily, into the pavement. He searched his memory for anything he might've done to deserve all of this. A few days earlier he'd borrowed a stapler from the woman who worked a few cubicles down from him without asking; maybe it was cursed. A drop of red tinted water slid down his nose and dripped off into the puddle under him. He wasn’t quite clean yet (and laying on the dirty street wasn't helping much in that department), but at this point it would have to do.

    As he picked himself up off the wet ground he quietly struggled to put together why or how he was in the street.

    "... Do you... have any idea what just happened to that squid.”

    Jay looked over to see the hero.

    Oh.

    Things were coming together now. What an annoying guy.

    Why is he asking me? He was right there. What does he want me to say? Jay eyed the man suspiciously. "Well..." he scanned the scene around them. "... I’m not sure I understand what you’re talking about...”

    Sighing, he checked the time on his broken watch and grumbled about how late it was and how he really needed to leave. “Thank you for getting me out of the river, I guess, even though it was a little premature,” Jay added, as he attempted to squeeze the blood-tinged water out of his sleeve, “but I really need to get going.”
     
  6. “- but I really need to get going.” he said, fiddling with his sleeve as he started walking away.

    “If you don’t mind me asking,” he said - his clothes being soaked in blood-water and hair sticking to his face taking much away from the grandiosity with which the line was supposed to be delivered. He took a few faster steps to stop in front of the hurrying man, and gestured towards a freshly opened portal large enough for someone to walk through without crouching. He broke into a wide grin.

    “- to where exactly do you need to get going?”


    05:40 PM | ONE CITY | EIGHTH FLOOR APARTMENT

    The fact is simply that there aren’t nearly as many secret attics and hidden basements and subterranean formations beneath enormous mansions, as there were full- or part-time heroes who required secure bases of operation. (Global warming was also casting concern over the once fashionable fortresses beneath Antarctic ice-shelves, but those were way above most people’s pay grade anyway.)

    Later that day, at the glorious secret base / living room / bedroom / kitchen of the professional hero, Caesar Craven.

    “So what you’re saying is … Jay punched the squid,” Caesar said, pacing around the space at the centre of the room, “which caused it to explode.”

    “Strictly speaking, it was less of a punch and more of an offhand slap.”

    Liang was a young man, but from his appearance alone, it is only barely possible to determine that: skinny, with a delicate face, pale skin, and blonde hair that looks even whiter which he keeps in a tidy mid-length haircut. The shape of his eyes carried evidence of his heritage, vaguely east Asian, but he spoke in spotless received pronunciation.

    He was curled up on a sofa against a wall, a continuous stream of clicking noises flowing from his slender fingers hacking away at the undersized keyboard of a laptop computer. On the screen, one window in the corner was repeatedly displaying footage of a man in a suit throwing himself into a river.

    “But yes. At least that was what I got on the cameras.”

    A bit upset about Liang not having moved his head a bit throughout the conversation, Caesar turned around and leant backwards so that he could at least face him. As he did so, however, a poke in his waist sent him jolting aside.

    Ow?

    “You still smell like a seafood market,” Liang said. From his pocket he produced a piece of tissue paper with which to wipe the finger that just touched Caesar’s clothes. Nothing that’s been recently soaked in sweaty blood-water was to be let near him, less near his precious machine. It was about around then that Liang began to seriously question his decision to accept Caesar’s invitation to this appointment.

    Caesar frowned and sniffed the long sleeves of the fresh black shirt he just threw on - he had showered at least twice since he returned to his apartment earlier that day. He then checked his watch on the same hand.

    “When’d you say he’d arrive again?” Liang noticed the gesture. He pushed the computer on his lap slightly farther away from him and folded it.

    “Any time now,” Caesar said, looking at the door, “any time.”

    Earlier that day, he dropped a freshly cleaned Jay through the last portal from Jay’s apartment to just outside of the conference room of the Fanpo building, but that was only after he got Jay’s name out of a little-rushed formal meeting, forced a piece of notebook paper carrying an address into Jay’s front pocket, and had him promise to meet up with him after work to discuss what happened that morning.

    Of course, Caesar now had a complete understanding of what happened that morning. A name - Jay Kim - more than enough for Liang to pull just about every piece of relevant digital information out of the web (his existence made the “detective” part of the hero job absurdly easy for Caesar). Jay Kim, 27, assistant business manager, utterly uneventful background. Incredible potential.

    A mental image of Jay in tights, a cape, and a domino mask. An offhand slap, Caesar repeated in his mind. Amazing. Imagine if he actually seriously punched something. Jay Kim, the One-Punch Man. Caesar wasn’t aware of himself smiling at himself as he waited eagerly for that knock on the door.

    This was going to be good.
     
    #7 four, Mar 20, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
  7. 4:56PM | ONE CITY | FANPO BUILDING

    The day progressed as it usually did after Jay had arrived at work. As expected, with a little hard work, he’d recovered quickly and gracefully from the setbacks of that morning. Except for one. Jay stared blankly at the monitor in front of him as he patiently waited for the man standing behind him to start speaking. The soft clicking and beeping of machines echoed throughout the office.

    “Hey, Kim, before I leave… could we have a word?” the man, whose mouth seemed to take up at least half his face, squeezed Jay’s shoulder comfortingly. His voice was one of the most grating, patronizing voices a human could have.

    Jay swiveled around in his chair to look up into his boss’ unsettling visage. His features were twisted into an unconvincing smile.

    “Sir,” Jay replied, expressionless, as a bead of cold sweat slid down his forehead.

    “I think we should have a talk about personal hygiene, Kim...” the boss said softly, pursing his fat lips.

    Jay could feel his pupils shaking. “H-hygiene,” he repeated flatly.

    “I’ve been getting complaints...” the boss continued, looking off to the side in an exaggerated gesture and twirling a cowlick at the base of his scalp.

    After a brief moment of silence he paused his coy act to glance down at Jay and wait for a reaction.

    “W-well,” Jay cleared his throat and fought furiously with himself to look directly into his boss’ dark, beady eyes, “like I said earlier...”

    Mmmmhmmmm~...” The boss cooed in an annoying, overdone tone. He’d shifted his face to look out at the rest of the office now, but peeked at Jay from the corner of his eye.

    “I fell into the river-- my briefcase fell into the river-- and I fell in trying to get it out,” Jay quickly re-explained.

    The boss nodded and leaned in, motioning for Jay to do the same.

    Yeaaaaaahhh~," he exhaled onto Jay's face, causing an involuntary look of disgust to pass over the assistant manager's already strained features. "Well, Kim, I’m gonna have to ask that this doesn’t become a reoccurring issue. See, here at Fanpo, the 2nd largest fan producer and distributor worldwide, we have a reputation to uphold...” The boss went on, quietly, under his breath in an ineffective act of discreetness.

    The clicking of keyboards and general hum of work in the near vicinity had gone eerily silent.

    “I understand sir,” Jay agreed.

    The boss nodded and turned to leave, but as he left he peered back over his shoulder and audibly tapped the small, impeccably polished, title plaque on the outside wall of Jay’s cubicle.

    “This isn’t how an assistant manager should represent his company, Kim, is it?”


    10:00PM | ONE CITY | FANPO BUILDING

    “I’m leaving,” Jay announced to the now empty office. He stood up from his seat and slowly collected his things along with a small tub of scented gel beads which the lady a few cubicles down had given him on her way out when a neatly folded up piece of notebook paper fell to the floor.

    “Oh,” Jay mumbled, remembering the promises he made earlier, “I forgot…” He scratched the back of his neck, wondering if the corny hero from earlier would still be waiting for him or if he should just go back home. I should probably go home and change anyway, Jay thought to himself.


    10:45PM | ONE CITY | EIGHTH FLOOR APARTMENT

    Jay hesitantly knocked on the door, double checking the paper in his hand with the brass numbers hanging in front of him.

    The clothes he wore were particularly casual: dirty sweatpants and an old white T-shirt. His hair, which was strikingly curly (like it was back when his mother still dotingly called him afrito, or 'little afro') from being washed and dried without the mellowing hand of pomade, smelled strongly of shampoo. It stung Jay’s nose... Along with the copious amount of colognes, lotions, and Febreze he’d used to mask the stink of squid. Jay realized quickly that his plan had backfired and that perhaps his previous stench was less offensive than the powerful cocktail of aroma he’d created to cover it.

    Not that it mattered much at this point anyway, he just hoped it would wear off before morning.

    Jay sighed and quietly prayed that the hero wouldn’t answer his door.


    Maybe he was sleeping already; he seemed like the type to be enthusiastic about getting his beauty sleep.

    Asleep...

    Wouldn't that be nice...

    Jay rubbed his heavily-bagged eyes and thought about the value sleep and all the things he would give to not be awake and knocking on a strange man’s door at 10:45PM.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.