The Alabaster Canyon

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Childish Grumpino, Feb 28, 2017.

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    The ground seems to blend into the sky itself: where the two meet is anyone’s guess.

    After all, this is Limbo. A plan of raw, infinite creation: Flatland for the awoken consciousness. It’s entirely possible that the ground and the sky stretch on forever, never to meet. It’s equally possible they are one and the same.

    Yet the men and women who trek through the open white expanse have no time for such philosophical musings, and they are not here for exploration. Each carries a mark on their person that identifies them as part of their order, and each wears some manner of clothing or apparel dyed or stained red.

    They are here on the hunt.

    And their quarry is almost in sight.

    This section of Limbo has been morphed and clouded to resemble cliffs hewn from alabaster, and the hunters have positioned themselves on the high ground. Down below, in the valley they can peer in upon, a column moves. Lurching like soldiers marching to math metal, misshapen and grotesque. Just enough about them is human to be recognisable, but only just. A few dozen of Inferno’s Legions at the most, a scouting party, and at the head of their column strides a figure clad in black robes and whose head is garbed in a brutal steel mask.

    Nothing about this being could be mistaken for human. From it’s movements (sleek and loping like a travelling predator) to it’s height and shape (almost eight foot tall yet spindly thin), the utter alien nature of this scouting party’s leader is made clear. The Nephilim periodically cranes it’s masked face to watch the skyline, but the Frumentarii hunters remain just out of sight as they tail the force.

    One of Inferno’s many sorties into Limbo, trying to find an entrance into Metropolis itself.

    The hunters are here to make sure this is one scouting party that never reports back.
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  2. alabastercanyon.jpg

    The crew stops again. Being behind someone else, Ilse can't see why, but she has learned a bit how this faction works. If the leader says stop, they stop. If the leader says jump, they jump as high as possible, not asking how high. Ilse looks to the left, beside her, is Donald, the guy that find her among the maze of the metropolis and brought her to this group of fighters. Once, Ilse thought she is alone, in a hell, barely human. Feral. Now, she knows this is not hell, it is not as worst as such, as there is hope. Of course, Ilse can't figure out the current expression of Donald, he is again, like almost always, wearing his mask. Ilse remembers her own crude mask she made from a skull of metropolis creature and put it to cover her face.

    Most of the men and women seem to carry a firearm of some sort, Ilse does not carry one, her training shows how bad she is with it. Instead, she is carrying a huge scythe that seems to be made from bone and flesh. An awkward and primitive weapon, others note, but she insists, as the weapon been with her during her wandering alone in the Metropolis. Beside the scythe, Ilse's attire is also weird, as it is a kind of poncho made of synthetic material with zippers in the front and opening at the back. The poncho is red, and she is also wearing black leggings and no shoes.

    Ilse glances around, her eyes locked on a girl with fiery red hair. She remembers her name, Veronica. Ilse admires her confidence, she seems to retain it everywhere, including on this plain of nothing that Ilse wishes to not get lost in.
    #2 Rosedrachen, Feb 28, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
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  3. Veronica Reid adorned a mask of wood – painted and shaped to resemble the ears and snout of the Fox – upon the upper half of her visage. The lower half bore a knowing smile. This was to be a lovely sortie; the wrath of the Frumentarii, set to purpose, was one of the truest forces Veronica knew. The fabric of her red dress shimmered as Veronica trembled with anticipation – she was surrounded by a fine stock. The Armored One, the One of Bones, oh – and Roland.

    Oh of what fine pedigree he was bred, bundles of sinew and muscle bound by aim and conviction.

    Her perfectly manicured hands caressed the cobalt skin of a Glock 17. Quaint, given the circumstances, but a necessary supplement given her power’s limitations. She was not a natural combatant, as her ability was simply the installation of a neural, telepathic network. One which Veronica had, as of yet, neglected to create. This was not an oversight. She simply enjoyed the ambience of silence in completion. Veronica could read the tension or lack thereof on the silhouettes of her compatriots, emotion coursing along the outermost layer of dermis.

    “At this juncture,” Veronica whispered under her breath, smiling her sultry smile all the while. “I’d recommend Induction. I’m aware of the reluctance to indulge in any degree of mind-play, of course. Yet I promise you’ll all find it effective, and not nearly as intrusive as imagined.”

    She was referring to her Gift, the ability to connect the minds of those willing Few.
  4. Donald was tense, nervously awaiting the time of the ambush. The clothes he wore were ruffled, dusty from leaping ahead of the rest of his unit to scout on the way to the canyon. He crept now in a low, cautious posture along the ridge, maneuvering to get a better look at the marching column below. How were they going to fight all those things? Especially that Nephilim up front – it was absolutely monstrous-looking. He cast his eyes around at his companions.

    Ilse was nearby; if anybody could stand up to these things for any length of time, it was that woman. His top priority, even more than personally taking out any of the Host, was to ensure that she didn't get out of control and attack their allies. If all went well, they would be fighting as a bit of a two-man team, with Donald sticking around to flit in and provide reinforcements against whatever nasty piece of work Ilse had tangled up in her tendrils by just hitting it with waves of exhaustion mid-grapple. It was a structure that had seemed to work alright before, at least – and if more direct tactics were needed, Donald also had his pistol at the ready in its holster.

    There was that redheaded woman he had seen around occasionally. Veronica something. Was she planning on fighting in that outfit? He had gotten the impression that her abilities did something to link up people's minds, which her suggestion seemed to back up. "If it'll help with coordination in the fight coming up, then sure," he whispered over to the woman.

    Then of course there was the leader of their bunch, the burly man by the name of Roland. A good guy, from what Donald had seen, and passionate as anyone about the Frumentarii cause. He was definitely going to be a strong asset in this fight – Donald had seen Roland's power with fire himself when he was getting his armor made. A good leader, too, and it was for this reason that Donald kept his gaze on Roland, watching to see what the commander did, listening to hear what he ordered.
  5. Roland remained crouched down near the edge of the cliff, watching his prey while remaining as hidden as he could. Their numbers did not bother him in the slightest. If things went as planned, a large portion of the soldiers would be taken down before the rest had time to react. They would be in trouble if they had to fight a Nephilim and all of those grunts at once, but that was of course the reason for the ambush.

    He moved back from the edge and stood to face his companions. Regardless of his status as leader, Roland saw all of the Frumentarii as brothers and sisters in arms, not as underlings. Leadership and structure were necessary for success, but he'd always felt that there was a balance to be had between using one's authority and respecting those you commanded. He'd seen other would-be leaders of the Frumentarii rise and fall as tinpot tyrants, and that was not a path he cared to tread.

    As Roland looked them over, he was once more amused by their less than conventional appearances. He felt almost out of place with his simple red t-shirt and black pants, without even a mask to give him a little flair. Veronica especially, wearing a dress of all things, was almost enough to make him laugh. She was damned useful though, and she hadn't gotten herself or anyone else killed with her wardrobe choices yet, so he didn't see any reason to give her shit for it. As long as they all did their jobs well, Roland didn't really give a damn what they wore.

    "Alright folks, it's almost time. I'll be joining with the mind link," he nodded in Veronica's direction, "and anyone else who's comfortable with it should do the same. If you don't want to be part of it, then just stick to the plan: follow my lead, stay low and quiet until we're ready to strike, then give 'em hell. We'll hit them hard before they know we're there, then mop up the rest. Or it'll go tits up and we'll have to improvise. If you're gonna die today, then make sure you take at least a few of those bastards with you." Roland flashed them all a grin, projecting assured confidence to them. This was just another routine fight, mopping up some more trash, and he had no doubt that things would turn out just fine for them today.
  6. Ilse is not sure about this Induction, of connecting mind. Would all her thoughts be heard by this lady? What if she turns berserk, what would she hear? Ilse wonders, oblivious of possible ramifications of this. Ilse looks at Donald waiting for his decision. When Donald express his agreement to the Induction, Ilse without any doubt follows, saying yes to the other lady.

    Then, Ilse focus on the leader's brief. If just they are not trying to hide from those grotesque beings below, Ilse would already claps and cheers. She instead, just nods, her mind knows she will do the best. Somehow she knows the others will do their best too.
  7. There were bold soldiers, and then there were old soldiers. Nathan was very clearly in the second category, and he had been happy to let the younger Donald take the lead scouting. He'd done a decent enough job of it, after all, and letting the youngsters get some practical experience was important.

    The rest of the crew was... eclectic, to put it mildly. On one edge of the spectrum, Veronica Reid, who wouldn't look out of place in a ball room. On the other, Ilsa. Or even Nathan himself - the old man's clothes were dyed greys and brown from years of exposure to the elements, and the only touch of colour came from the necklace that hung loosely from his neck, a simple string with multiple irregular red disks, each carefully carved from the bone of a creature the old man had taken part in killing.

    Seconds of tense silence dragged on as the warriors waited to spring their ambush, Nathan being made sharply aware of the nephilim's location at every instant thanks to his instinct warning him of the threat he posed - but his kneeling position near the cliff's edge did not budge an inch, shotgun right next to him. When choosing weapons Nathan hadn't really felt like there was anything contesting it - out here you didn't know what you were going to find, and when faced with something you couldn't kill stopping it was next-best. And stopping power was something shotguns had plenty of.

    Veronica's offer to link them brought him out of his own planning, and he shook his head negatively with a single glance at the woman. Nobody was getting into his head, regardless of how safe they said it was; but it seemed like most of his companions did not share the sentiment. Roland, he could somewhat understand, what with being the leader. The rest? Not so much.

    It wasn't that the network wasn't useful. Nathan had enough experience to see that it was an amazing tool. He just didn't trust it, regardless of Roland's faith in it. Still, there was planning going on, and if he wasn't going to be in the link he might as well let the rest know what he was thinking.

    "Can keep the big one busy." He paused, wondering if that was enough information. It wasn't, clearly. "Don't think I can kill, but if we clean the small ones first we can throw everything at him." The old man turned to Roland, looking at him with the slightest hint of a question in his almost dead gaze. "Should I?"
    #7 Gryal, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
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  8. Veronica’s smile never waned as she offered a salute to her compatriots, Nathan included. The Colorless One’s refusal was somewhat expected, albeit only through estimation by rough generalization. He was old – if such a descriptor even mattered for their ilk – and the elderly were always so hesitant to embark upon the arc of the new. He was unsightly, yet not without his intrigue; she could imagine the story of Nathan already, peaks and chasms – he must have hit quite a low, to have become as he is.

    In any case, Induction.

    There was no particular science to the esotery of the Awakened. Some were easily observable, others were not. Veronica’s own fell into the latter. On some metaphysical plane, Veronica imagined, invisible strands unraveled from her mind, latching onto the minds of her comrades. At the point of connection, the silken vector disseminated, coating the foreign synapses. The end result: a quartet of flowery arrangements, mosaics, kaleidoscopes of electromagnetics, linking brain to brain.

    That was the imagery, in any case – not even Veronica could fathom the true process behind the magic. All she felt was the simple, intrinsic instinct upon completion.

    “For the first timers, welcome.”

    Veronica’s voice would – for a minute instant - permeate the thoughts of the Networked. In practice, the method of communication was blissfully non-invasive; it was less motes of verbal communication than it was the bestowing of sets of realizations.

    “Communication should be fairly simple – you will find, as I have found, that it’s akin to a sixth sense, or perhaps a seventh in our case, that you have an intrinsic fluency of.

    Good hunting.”
  9. Ilse almost jumped when she founds Veronica's voice in her head. It is merely just unreadiness for being the first timer, but after that, Ilse felt Veronica's voice is somehow soothing, a presence she can easily welcome.

    Ilse quickly understood how it works, as she felt she just needs to speak in her mind and direct it onto the source; Veronica herself, so her power might relay it to everyone else. At least, that is what Ilse perceive, that Veronica becomes the center for their communication. Perhaps, long time ago this was the method of communication of all humans, back before demiurge ruins them.

    "Good hunting too," Ilse replies, before checking her apparel. The fancy poncho was created by one of the Frumentarii after she shreds a finely woven jacket and shirt when they ask her to show her ability. At very least, Ilse is glad that she founds herself not gone to berserk, probably because she wasn't morphing under the stress of threats. Besides that, Ilse hasn't morphed even once after joining Frumentarii, it is most likely that only Donald and Roland knows her abilities.

    Ilse changes her grip on her scythe, she is nervous and ready to battle. She glances to the leader Roland, which seems to wait for a certain special time.
  10. He’s swapped his usual dark attire for something that will allow him to blend with the pale dunes and cliffs that surround them. But he might as well have not bothered with the mask.

    Citadel is nothing if not a distinctive member of the Frumentarii, after all.

    Built like a mountain, even hunched over into a crouch alongside the rest of the ambush team his frame rises above the rest. He keeps close to Roland, scanning the surroundings frequently before returning his attention to the infernal scouting party below. Always at this point, his eyes narrow.

    Finally, Citadel reaches out to squeeze Roland’s shoulder, an old military communication to signal that the time has come. Roland looks over to the hulking figure crouched next to him and nods.
    “Show’s on, ladies and gentlemen,” he says simply. Nothing else needs saying: everyone knows their purpose here.

    The things in the canyon below cannot be allowed to leave it.

    A small mob of them may have entered, but none shall exit.

    When Citadel moves he does so with a speed and grace entirely out of place with his vast size. He doesn’t wait to see if the others will follow: he knows that an operation’s success is built upon trusting your team implicitly. Instead he simply lunges out towards the edge of the cliff and launches himself into open air, plunging down like an anvil towards the creatures below.

    And as he does, his skin begins to change.

    His white clothes become burnished and grey, gunmetal black in stark contrast to the alabaster canyon. His skin solidifies and hardens, rock-like and powerful, and by the time Citadel hits the ground maybe twenty metres away from the Infero scouting group he no longer looks like a man. He is a human fortress, forged from rock and steel, standing armoured and ready.

    The chittering horrors surrounding the robe-clad leader of the scouting party screech and begin to writhe forwards as the Nephilim extends a long, spindly arm towards the new arrival. Citadel’s only response is to let his left arm morph and expand, jutting outwards and spreading into a shield-like appendage that he braces in front of him. Legs spread apart evenly, breathing steady as the horrors that were once human rush towards him.

    They will break themselves upon him.

    And his allies will then break them.
  11. As the mind link slipped into place, Roland gave Nathan a quick thumbs up signal. Having someone keeping the big one busy while the little things were swept up was an ideal strategy. He'd been intending to call for Ilse to handle that, but if Nathan wanted the job then so be it; his shotgun would hopefully have enough punch to get it done. He said nothing over the mind link, seeing no need for it quite yet.

    Citadel, the point man of this ambush, gave the signal Roland had been waiting for. From there things kicked off immediately. Citadel called out and jumped off the cliff, and Roland followed up with a dual call through voice and mind link: "Now, go!" Citadel had a bit of a head start, and the advantage of the hefty weight of his metallic form, but Roland was not far behind him.

    The plunge from the cliff was exhilarating. It made Roland recall many similar stunts in his days before his Awakening, diving off of cliffs and precipices into water far below. There was no inviting water this time though, just a pack of nasty little shits that needed to be eradicated. That was almost as good, he supposed.

    As the ground and the chittering swarm of enemies approached, Roland held his hands out and reached deep inside to the spark of power that had been with him ever since he Awakened. It was already like second nature to him to pull forth this power and create fire. Twin gouts of flame sprang forth from his palms, aimed to both scorch some of the enemies and to slow his descent so as to not make it a bone-rattling landing. As he was landing he readied for another blast of flame, this time to cut across the goons and thin their numbers as his compatriots landed and got ready to charge in and start cutting them all down.
  12. Veronica was woefully ill-equipped for a full-on confrontation against the masses of horrors. Small-caliber arms weren’t like to do well in this scenario, and she wasn’t nearly skilled enough for heavier artillery. Even so, the Frumentarii was a well-oiled machine, and the heavy-hitters, fire and steel alike, they hit hard. Like a fearsome hammer upon a burning brand. It was a joy to watch.

    And her job was to watch, although not quite in the manner she was doing. Roland, Citadel. They were beautiful, beautiful men. Perhaps not in the tabloid, reality television, socialite kind of way. But here, where none of that mattered, they were forces of nature; they were beautiful in the same way ocean pillars before the typhoon were, and wondrously macabre like the ruins the typhoon would leave behind.

    It was involuntary. But she gasped in spite of herself.

    She remained upon her perch, offering insight as to the motions of the horrors, and transferring them through the mental-link. Citadel was a magnet, and… Veronica could not manage any descriptions that rendered the analogy whole and unbroken. Still, she watched: for now, there was only the pattern of chaos, the schizophrenic motions of those caught unaware.