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-   -   Destrillians: Aftermath Act I (https://thelifestream.net/oldforums/showthread.php?t=3476)

Baldy 11/28/2009 11:34 PM

Destrillians: Aftermath Act I
 
The city was never quiet.

Ever since its foundation mere years ago, the land it occupied had never seen a breath, a pause, not one single beat of silence, for the city never slept. The people kept on talking, and plotting, and shouting, and the machines worked tirelessly day and night. The city itself was yet to be finished, and so construction continued on and on, placing together the heart of the city, then the roads and neighbourhoods as veins, and then the people moved in like its blood.

There were plans being argued back and forth about building a giant wall around its perimeter, as had the ancient cities of days before the wars – the idea remained on the knife edge as officials bantered back and forth the opposing ideas of safety inside, and possible expansion outside. The closest you could get to what their ancestors would call "normal" would be the every-day neighbourhoods – rows of housing units that seemed to resemble those of back in the day, if you squinted so you couldn't see that the manicured lawns were all fake and that the glass in the windows was bulletproof. One level up, technology-wise, the commercial areas were like electric ghost towns in that nobody was there to welcome you in or check you and your purchases out – they just flashed their neon lights and the shelves always, always stocked what you needed.

But the downtown was by far a feat of modern science and technology. It was all glass and steel and polished stone, and the doors never slammed – not because there were no angry bureaucrats to slam them but because they had perfected hydraulic systems to slow them down. The skyscrapers finally lived up to their name; some were already so tall you couldn't see the top of them on foggier days, and taller still were they being planned. Buildings big enough to match the egos of their planners.

And the plan to build a wall was losing, because the city was expanding – a giant intake of breath from the concrete, the glass, the steel, and the population swelled as more and more joined the cause of the ones who had started it all in the first place. There was cleanliness, and there were comforts, and there were rebels being "taken out back" due to "disorderly conduct." The magnetic power systems were fun until they taught you that they could get cut and you just might fall screaming down a 500-foot elevator shaft if you failed to pay your bills.
It was industrial, and it was military, and to those who had planned it, it was nearing perfection.

But it was never quiet.

And so in all the whirring and humming and scheming—and the gossip, that too—among all the noise, nobody would think to notice one girl slip in and just listen, from time to time. Not a spy, never a spy; spies couldn't get into the city, after all. They just couldn't. No, she must be one of them – just another one of them. And that's why she got away with it.

Presently, she was hanging upside down a hundred feet in the air, knees bent to wrap around the exposed support beam. She'd been there for hours now, comfortably, lightly swinging back and forth every now and then; her blood never wound up pooling in her head simply because she told it not to.
Presently, she was, ah, "listening" to a conversation being held by two heads of urban development ten storeys down in the already-finished floors of the building. The headset she was using reeked of being a foreign import, because no manufacturer in this city welded metal together in such intricate swoops and curls, after all. They just didn't. But she did.
And presently one of said curls was bothering her left ear, so with a stroke and a pinch of her fingers it was gone, fused back into the whole, and the girl listened on.

Her hair was supposed to be black nowadays, so if anybody had seen her getting up there (which they hadn't,) and taken a look at her now (which nobody did,) they would wonder why it was suddenly short and almost white, such a pale blonde it was. This, combined with her fully white outfit—tight-fitting tank top, loose-fitting cargo pants, and effective ballet flats—and the aforementioned hanging upside down gave her a strange and almost laughable likeness to a giant, albino bat.
The bat with electric hearing, in the city that was never quiet.
The bureaucrats finished their talk and the girl switched the headset off, satisfied with what she had heard for the day. The construction plans were going full-speed, which meant for anybody truly in the know that the city was safe enough to not need to pull out all the machines and workers as militia—because all the machines doubled as weapons, though few knew it and fewer knew how to make the switch. This meant that the city thought there was no threat, which meant nothing dangerous had been spotted in or around the city.
Which meant that the city's government hadn't found any Destrillians yet.

Her quirky, triumphant smile was lost in a whirl of white as she swung back, forth, and up, now sitting on the beam, now reaching above her for the next and swinging onto the floor of the unfinished level. She flitted down the building by simply creating metal landings where she jumped and fell; she was off and running before anybody could have ever noticed.

And she whipped 'round a corner and suddenly her hair was black and flowing (and fake, but nobody else knew that,) and with a graceful, dancing pirouette on the spot, Genevieve slowed herself and sallied forth at a more amiable pace.
And even now, when she wasn't trying, she heard information all around her as the city talked to itself. Plans for buildings, plans for dates, plans for the next big product—plans to take over the world, if you listened carefully. But Genevieve was done with listening carefully for the day, and so the information went in one ear—

—and out the other, you would think. But it never went out the other, because even though Genevieve had the choice to ignore it, the city was never quiet. So she took it all in and was exponentially wiser for it.
But because she was so busy with her external senses, she never noticed that her internal ones were going off – the ones she had honed to perfection, signaling that one of the people she, ah, "followed" was drawing near.
They were her prey, so to speak – free to stalk at her will. And she did, because they were also her family. So when tiny little raven-haired Genevieve knocked shoulders accidentally with another girl, and felt that shot of something up her spine (almost like vines were creeping up it,) she was almost surprised. Almost.
With the intention of regaining balance, she twisted with a grace that she must have paid a fortune to get implanted in her muscle memory, because nobody who looked that age in this city could move with such fluidity. They just couldn't.
And the other girl did too. And Genevieve's wide, grey eyes locked onto the splatters of freckles across the stranger's skin and she knew it wasn't a stranger. So she felt no need to be awkward.

"So terribly sorry, my dear," she offered, with a head inclination that all who met her said was idiosyncratic because nobody else could be able to look down in a supposed submission and still look so in charge of the situation. "Hope you're alright."
She knew she'd have to make this short, for the girl she spoke to was squinting the slightest bit in vague remembrance, probably of another girl who spoke just like that years ago. And Genevieve couldn't have that connection made, not until she was sure it was safe. So when the girl made her reluctant reply, Genevieve made her final words short but meaningful:
"The name's Genevieve Weatherworm, but you can call me Jen. Careful you don't fall in a place like this, a'right? The city's unforgiving," and with a smile, "but just maybe I'll be there to catch you."

And that was all there was time for, because any longer and the freckled girl who was her friend would understand and Jen couldn't have that just yet. So with a flickering, familiar salute, the girl whirled on her foot and sped away – she barely heard the reply, the call of "I'll see you around," that meant yes, she'd figured it out. Somewhat. But nobody else had, because the city was never quiet and it was too busy with its own talk to listen, and to understand that it was wrong. She was a spy, and the headset was her own, and yes, the both of them could in fact move with a grace frightening to behold when they wanted. It was too loud to have heard her the day she picked out a new name for herself, and to hear the last time she'd said the old one aloud.

The city was never quiet.
And that was why she loved it.

Genevieve had always really meant Idris, anyway.

Alex 12/02/2009 06:20 AM

Even through his heavily tinted sunglasses he could tell that the sky was darkening over the city, the herald of an oncoming storm. Of thunder, lightning and the torrential rain, the untameable forces of nature that were beyond the ability of any man to bend to their will. Pausing for a moment, he put down the book he has been reading to gaze up into the sky as he had found himself doing countless times before. It seemed to stretch on forever, and everything in the world was subject to its reign. There was little doubt why ancient people worshipped the sky as a god. It was difficult not to recognise its vast influence, or do anything less than admire the power and majesty of its being. It was all so alien to him; all he had known previously were claustrophobic, metal corridors. Simple designs by simple creatures that led from point A to point B and back again; lit by cold lights in humanity’s pathetic attempt to emulate the natural world, but came nowhere close to the awe-inspiring power of the real thing. It only served to highlight how flawed and ignorant the human race was he thought to himself, not for the first time.

As he stood up from his typically uncomfortable seat, the ghost of a frown flashed across his face. One downside to the life he had found himself leading these past few years was the way in which every cheap motel he stayed in always seemed to be exactly the same. The monotony of the cheap, uncomfortable furniture and dreary, bland wallpaper was an uncomfortable echo of his origins in the dark, cold basements of the Violan laboratory. A reminder of how weak he had been then compared to what he was now, something more than any human or Destrillian. He had long since lost count of the number of ordinary humans that had fallen to his hand, insignificant little things that they were he had never set out to actively butcher them. They were merely the collateral damage brought about by his quest to kill off the weaker Destrillians, and hardly worth any more thought than any other inanimate object that posed an obstacle between him and his intended goal.

His quiet moment of reflection was interrupted by the first drops of rain dashing against the window and whatever misery Kerr had at being forced to stay in such insipid surroundings were dispelled. No matter how tedious the human environment he had been forced to live in, the awe of natural phenomenon was still able to soothe is ill temper.

“And now, for the regional news”


It was only now that he realised that he had left the television on all day, just for the news. It was important to keep a check on his notoriety and the actions of those elements of the army and the police force that had been tasked his apprehending him, in order to stay one step ahead.

“Or top story tonight, dozens left dead and a nation is left in shock in the wake of one of the most barbaric acts of violence in recent memory.”
Kerr sat on the edge of the bed, staring emotionlessly at the grainy, out of date, excuse for a television. “Police chief Michael Ochoa has issued a heartfelt apology to the nation that they have yet had no luck identifying the man responsible for the horrific destruction of the Saint Raphael Medical Centre in Downtown Osea that left over a hundred people, many of them staff and critical patients that were unable to be moved, dead.”

A few blurry black and white photographs lingered on the screen as the newscaster, those of a man with dark shaggy hair and wearing dirty worn-out clothes stalking through the hospital corridors. His face hidden behind a baseball cap pulled down over his face and his eyes hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. Kerr couldn’t help but think how refreshing it had felt to change his disguise; he had begun to find his long hair dangerously impractical.

“This is the man widely acknowledged to be responsible for the attack, with survivors recognising him engaging in a fire fight with the armed forces in the corridors and lobby of the facility. They report him as being pale, short and slender, with long brown hair and is to be regarded as armed and very dangerous. If you have any information about this man, then please it is important that you must not approach him, and call the authorities immediately.”

He hadn’t been much of a fan of brown hair either for that matter.

“It is yet unknown whether or not this was the same man, or a member of that same cell that have been responsible for the wave of destruction that is responsible the crash of a passenger train en reute to Aurelia, the murders of fifteen police officers in a furious gangland battle in northern city of Gracemaria, and the explosion onboard a military transport aircraft that saw numerous prisoners of war and high level military officers dead.”

Now there was something of note, Kerr thought to himself. The police had only accounted for three of the seven Destrillians he had been responsible for exterminating. It was doubtful that they would ever make the connection though, those kills had not exactly been high profile enough to warrant headlines on the news. But this recent incident at the hospital had meant a shift in his tactics, although he was certain that there were still more Destrillians in this city it would be awhile before he would be able to make his next move. A few weeks of surveillance, to let the attention focus onto the next catastrophe-of-the-month and then he would take his next victim and move on. The same old routine, one step behind the next Destrillian on his hit list and one step in front of the police forces on his tail.

“And in other news, was the Viola corporation conducting inhumane research on immigrants and war criminals? We enter the fourteenth day of the trial of the company’s former CEO, Mr. Jason Spencer as the High Court struggles to sort fact from fiction regarding the truth behind the former multinational corporation’s most classified secrets.”

Despite his cold, emotionless demeanour Kerr couldn’t help but let a nasty smile dance across his face. He felt no sympathy for the men he had formally been so loyal to, their betrayal and failed attempts on his life had seen to that. Watching the tired face of the former company’s CEO on television Kerr felt the sharp rush of justice. That this man deserved the punishment that would inevitably fall on his head, for his crimes and his mistakes, most costly of all his failure to acknowledge Kerr has the very greatest tool that could have saved his company, and stabbing him in the back, was the real reason the company fell from grace with all the dignity and discretion of Lucifer being cast down into Hell.

With the news now having busied itself with more mundane matters Kerr saw no more value in continuing to leave the machine on. He had come to find himself despising people that left their televisions on in these motel rooms because the walls were so thin he was able to hear exactly what his next door neighbours were listening to. An annoyance at worst and something that left him completely unable to concentrate on focusing his psychic powers on locating the energy signatures of other Destrillians in the region at worst.

After switching off the television, Kerr turned to the bedside table and picked up the phone he had stolen from a downtown banker earlier that day. A slim, modern contraption that was almost offensively designed for style rather than practicality, something that Kerr found rather sickening. Inspite of this, it was time to surrender to another one of the concessions that he had made to live this lifestyle, ordering in food from a takeout. As much as Kerr loathed the idea of eating food that was equal parts plastic and poor quality meat he did recognise the advantage of having a meal that could be delivered straight to him, since he was constantly on the move he could not succumb to the traditional ‘weekly shop’ that civilians did in their supermarkets.

He quickly punched the first number he remembered into the tiny, brushed steel finished keypad and growled impatiently as a voice on the other end informed him that ‘Very Happy Abdul’s Takeaway’ was currently closed. It didn’t matter, one takeaway was just the same as another as far as taste went, so he leaned back to pick up one of the leaflets the overly helpful receptionist had insisted that he take with him when he checked into the motel a few hours ago. Selecting the first one that came to mind, he dialled the number into the fiddly phone and waited pensively as the phone rang.

“Hi! Welcome to Lucky’s, my name is Tonio! how may I help?”
The cheery high-pitched voice on the other end of the phone left Kerr temporarily speechless.

“I’d like to place an order”
Kerr replied, his voice sounding slightly croaky because he didn’t often have the need to make use of it.

“That’s super! What’s your name and phone number?”
Was this even a man? He didn’t talk like any man Kerr had ever encountered.

“Jacob. This number” the difference between their voices was like contrasting the aesthetic qualities of a rainbow and a tombstone.

“Oh awesome! And what would you like to order?”
As Kerr placed his order, he couldn’t help but ask himself why he had exercised such restraint with not trying to butcher more of the human race. If the boundless optimism found in this man’s slaving away at a poor quality eatery , was any indication then the human race was probably long overdue for a good purge.

“Good choice sir!” He could practically see ‘Tonio’s’ stupid smile from here “And your address”

“Room 22, Stopover Inn, Bentham Street”


“Charming little place sir! Would you be interested in any of our spectacular offers?”

“No” and with that he slammed the lid of the phone shut so hard that he was practically convinced that he had heard the screen crack.

Bex 12/03/2009 02:00 AM

There had been times when Thetis had questioned whether containment in Basement Five was for the greater good. She hadn’t known any better, of course, all she could remember were white washed walls, hard faces and sharp needles. The girl had never honestly considered herself to be human. There were times when she told herself otherwise, times that she even longed for it, but the grim reality was obvious. Every time the prototype had awoke, she caught a glance of the blank eyed reflection in her cryo-tube. Blue and white hair, yellow eyes, a completely toned body. It was perfection. There were no inadequacies, no excess weight, no blemishes, no posture defects. To suffer from flaws or faults was to be human.

Then, of course, there was Fiona. The way she acted, things she had done, the things she carried on doing… #004 did nothing but enforce the very fact that the aim of Destrillians project was to make weapons. Weapons are relied upon by humans to kill, Dr. Perkins had once told her. Therefore Thetis had little choice but to resign herself to purpose. Despite this, she still found it difficult to understand Fiona. To torture someone, to ignore their screams, then kill them, mercilessly, without remorse and then above all else, to partake in these actions with such feverish ardour. Fiona had ceased to be a weapon. She was a butcher, and while #006 stared up in horror at her slowly approaching comrade, it frightened Thetis to consider whether Fiona was the prototype that Viola endeavoured to create. They were both Destrillians, yes, but the difference between them was beyond measure.

“What’s wrong little girl, are you going to wet yourself? Grow a fucking pair! You disgust me.”

Just as fire and water were polar opposites, so too were the two girls. As terrified as Thetis was by Fiona, that was one, albeit small, consolation. The dim corridor was filled with tangible sense of foreboding as #004’s countenance grew closer, illuminated eerily by the panels of lights that flickered like dying stars in the darkness. The girl flinched violently and raised her trembling hands in a weak attempt to shield herself as Fiona spat aggressively to the side of her before once again looming over the water prototype. The air was stagnant with the stench of singed flesh and hair, making Thetis sick to her stomach. She couldn’t retort or even reply to the Destrillian that stood so threateningly over her. Fiona would kill her; maybe even tear out her still beating heart like she had done with her previous victim. The thought rendered #006 as still and terrified as a deer caught in headlights. Dinner plate eyes stared hopelessly up at the fire prototype as Thetis’ mouth gaped open, unable to cry for help as Fiona’s voice reverberated in her ear drums.

“You ARE going to be useful, or I WILL set your ass on FIRE!”

Thetis had been here before. Blood pounding in her temples, laboured breaths tearing at her lungs as she sat transfixed at the Amazon who towered over her. It rarely ended well. The butt of a taser rod slammed into the floor. Fiona was volatile. Her imposing frame bubbling over with impulsiveness, poor self control, outbursts of temper, violence and sadism. There were no scientists to halt their confrontation anymore. In the face of death, Thetis was petrified.

“Run little rodent, run as fast as you can.”

A voice boomed through the darkness, and Thetis’ gaze darted from Fiona to the end of the corridor. Thetis’ heart rate increased so rapidly that she felt giddy and weak. It was, of course, entirely logical that there had been someone watching the Destrillians all this time. The voice had only served as a reminder to the prototypes. The scale of retribution would be great. Until now, Thetis recognised she had existed in a fog. Cautious. Anxious. But not properly, usefully frightened. Scrambling to her feet, #006’s knees knocked and hands quivered. The distress of the new intrusion was making her nauseous.

“D-d-did you - who w-was that?”

Her voice was thin and shaky from the effort of suppressing a sob that had welled up inside of her.

Thetis… You must calm yourself… Don’t let Fiona push you around. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground.

A wry, hopeless laugh escaped dry lips as the girl’s legs failed and Thetis once more slumped to the floor. The voice terrified her more than Fiona ever could. The threat in that voice, the understated ‘run’, the perfectly calm, controlled tone. It was enough to pull #006 from the dream-like fantasy of escape. What could Sierra do now?

"Idris? Emma? Help me please, someone....anyone, please, I don't want it to end here! I just want to go home! PLEASE! SIERRA! ERTHYS! EVEN FIONA! SOMEONE PLEASE I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!!"

A lump formed in Thetis’ throat as she heard the desperate cries for help. Eve was in the throes of death. This was it. The moment hung in suspension, and #006 was numbed by silence, lowering her gaze and faintly shaking her head over and over. She felt herself floating away, out of her body, out of Viola, away from the others. Thetis clasped her knees, knuckles white with unease. The voice was the signal, the start. Eve was going to die. They were all going to die.

Then all of a sudden, Eve had vanished. The mental connection with her, abruptly severed. Her insides were crushed by a stranglehold of anguish. A choked, low wail emitted from the stricken girl as she shivered in a new form of cold. Tears glided effortlessly over the dried blood and sweat that stained her pale cheeks.

She’s gone… gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone …

Her words trailed off into muffled mutterings. It was loss, leering from that void once more, the same loss that had already cut an ugly, swelling welt into Thetis’ conscious. Eve was too young, far too young. Why did she have to feel it, that connection, that thread being cut so cruelly? First Ariel, now Eve… who next would fall prey to the hands of time?

-----------------------------------------
Lucy Adams woke up with a start. She could hear the pitter-patter of rain through the musty damask curtains, the trickle of water through the wooden shingles in the ceiling, the small ‘plip’ as each droplet fell into metal buckets waiting on the floor. The striped wallpaper swelled and blistered with leaks, and the dirt grey carpet curled as it met the wall.
Lucy Adams squinted for the time.
The clock had stopped months ago.
The girl felt the crunching bite of empty aluminium cans on her back as she rolled out of the single mattress onto the floor. She stared listlessly at the door before stumbling to her feet. As she wiped her sleep encrusted eyes, Lucy Adams found it difficult to distinguish between dream and reality. That dream, she could remember it all too clearly. She could remember the death of Eve, she could remember the death of Ariel. Perhaps worst of all, Lucy Adams could remember the death of Thetis Alcesteos; as much as she wished she could forget. She pulled on some clothes. And walked to the door. Dreams were no longer dreams.
Just bad memories stuck on repeat.

The kitchen was a mess again, and Lucy Adams squeezed past the oven into the cramped, tiled room, tiptoeing over crushed pizza boxes in an attempt to reach the beaten metal fridge. The bright rays of light which shone through a single grime encrusted window revealed the chaotic state of the linoleum floor. As expected, when she wrenched open the heavy, lead-lined fridge door, the shelves were barren and bare; save for a bottle of ketchup and a jar of mustard far past its sell by date. The door slammed, and the dust that hung in the air momentarily danced in the filtered sunlight before once more settling as a thick shroud over the dimly lit room.

Lucy Adams pushed her way past the oven only to find the living room in no less squalor. Gum had been trodden into the carpet, the reading light had been knocked over and discarded candy wrappers littered the floor. The small wooden table (which acted as a make-shift centre piece) was covered in coffee stains, burn marks and yellowing newspapers, titles such as ‘SERIAL KILLER STILL AT LARGE, ’CAPED CITY CRUSADER CUTS CRIME’, ‘REBEL LEADERS ARRESTED’ blared boldly from the front pages, accompanied by mug shots of unshaven men with tired eyes and sunken faces, one photo looking disconcertingly familiar. A dirty glass on the table filled itself with water, and as she sank into the squashy, musty green velvet sofa to drink it, Lucy Adams thought to herself the same thing she had thought nearly every day for four years.

Is this it?

The self reflection would have to wait. Unfortunately, the clock in the living room was functioning perfectly. Punctuality had never been Lucy Adam’s forte, and she scrambled from her seat, frantically searching for a piece of scrap paper to leave a fleeting, last minute plea to her flatmate.

PLeASe BUY SOMe MiLK

Surely she would see it. The tip of the ballpoint pen almost tore through the coffee stained paper as Lucy Adams wrote in her spidery scrawl. The end result looked like a four year old had gone wild with a brand new colouring book. She hesitated for a moment before sticking the notice onto the cracked screen of the mahogany grained television that had been hastily lifted from a skip outside a nearby apartment. Lucy Adams cocked her head to admire her attempt at literacy. Would she read it? Could Fiona even read? Not that it mattered, Lucy Adams knew she wouldn’t buy milk anyway. The girl kicked empty energy drinks bottles across the room as she made her way to the front door. She unwedged her rusted bicycle from the tiny closet in the cramped hallway, disregarding the numerous flakes of faded red paint that snowed over the carpet. As she turned to leave, Lucy Adams caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
Thetis Lucina Alcesteos caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
The mirror was encrusted with limescale and covered with dust and stubborn marks. There were dark black circles eating away at the corners, the reflective surface gradually decaying from corrosive ammonium cleaner.
But Thetis could still see clearly.

Her appearance had barely changed in four years. Same body, same hair, same eyes. But her identity had. Thetis looked in the mirror to remind herself that she was different. The person looking back at her was different. Special. Gifted. The person looking into the mirror was the traitor. The traitor who had turned her back on the life she deserved, the life in which she was an elite being, one of few, a god amongst men. The person who looked into the mirror was the lowest of the low. Just another piece of human waste, clinging desperately onto what little humanity had offered; a life in poverty, a dead-end job, a hopeless existence. Lucy Adams still had so much to do as the 6th Destrillian prototype. Her father was out there, so too was Dr. Perkins. They would pay, in time. She had so much to find out. The life that stared back at her with those weary yellow eyes was the life she could never lead again, the life that observed Lucy Adams’ mundane daily routine from afar, the life of Thetis Lucina Alcesteos.
Lucy Adams reluctantly put on her sunglasses.
Thetis Alcesteos disappeared.

A shadow from outside blocked the light that filtered through the bottom of the door. Rent was due. The door was begrudgingly opened, and the landlady looked suitably downtrodden that her ominous lingering had not frightened Lucy Adams out of her dead-pan misery.

“Sunglasses, Miss Adams?”

She glanced conspicuously out of the window at the grey cityscape.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Petrowski.”

Ms. Jan Petrowski was a woman of unfortunate stature. She stood at least a foot shorter than Lucy Adams and was set like a wooden barrel. Her face seemed like a clay model that had been molested by an abstract art student. Her piggish, cornflower blue eyes were buried under a heavy-set wrinkled brow which was at odds with her petite, up-turned nose. Her wide shoulders were a horrific contrast to her frighteningly small arms. She had obviously been cooking a monstrosity, as flour clung to her wiry, fly-away greying hair whereas her off-white apron was stained with saffron and patches of dried icing. Ms. Petrowski’s mouth was pursed, as though she had been sucking on a particularly sour lemon and grimace on her face conveyed a kind of omniscient knowledge of her residents’ finances. Lucy prepared herself for the familiar monthly spiel.

“I can get you the money tomo-”

“It’s the same every month,”

Yes, she was right. The lecture was the same every month, the same grating voice and stocky frame that blocked Lucy Adams from escaping to her equally tedious job.

“I’m getting tired of dealing with freeloading hippie junkies like you and your friend.”

Lucy stared at the landlady and snorted in amused disbelief. Unbelievable.

“’Junkie‘?”

“Don’t think that none of us have seen those needle tracks on your neck on forearms! Don’t deny it, everyone knows you fritter away all your rent on Gold-dust!”

“I’m diabetic.” Came the unconvincing reply. Lucy still hadn’t figured out how best to explain the scars from her Distrum use all those years ago.

“And I’m Sandra Stanley.”

Lucy stifled the retort in her throat. She would never understand humans. They were far too stubborn, priggish and ignorant to decipher, they existed merely as objects to ridicule and mock. It was the least that they deserved. Regardless of her landlady’s stupidity, Lucy still didn’t have the money, didn’t have an excuse, and perhaps most importantly, didn’t have the time. Inching her way past Ms. Petrowski, Lucy pulled her screeching bicycle down the flights of stairs, ignoring the venomous glare of the landlady as it bore into her back before breaking into a run out of the door.

Lucy stepped out into the rain and hurried down the crumbling steps onto the sidewalk. From the outside appearance of the apartment block, it seemed as if the building was only holding itself up due to sheer terror of what Ms. Petrowski would say if it decided to collapse. The dilapidated building was stubbornly enduring its humiliation until the lurking landlady ceased to darken its dismal rooms and sagging doorways. When that time came, the block would finally lay itself to rest, and with a sigh, bury itself in cloud of wood rot, cracked glass and decaying brick. Lucy Adams leapt onto her bike and pedalled frantically, avoiding the potholes that plagued her block and the piles of sodden magazines that had been dumped lazily in the road. A veil of rain had drifted over Osea, hurtling down from the churning shroud of dark and unforgiving cloud that had blown in from the West. The violent blasts of wind nearly hurled the girl off her bike as she tore through the streams of mud that flowed through gutter. The weather threw the city into a familiar monotone. Cars roared through the streets, commuters huddled under umbrellas and Lucy Adams was still late for work. The pulse of city life continued, and its residents remained synchronised to every beat, every flutter. Life in Osea would go on, and not a thought would be spared for the weather beaten girl who skidded to a halt outside Luckys Takeaway, clothes drenched and blue hair pressed limply to her forehead. The ‘S’ on the neon sign that hung precariously over the doorway had long since fizzled out, while the rest of the letters flickered and shuddered in the gale. Where it was not covered in advertising posters, the large window at the front of the shop had steamed up in the cold and emitted an eerily dull light. A name has been etched in the condensation, and a drip of water had raced down the glass at the tail of each letter.

T O N I O <3

No sooner had Lucy stepped through the door into the garishly decorated takeaway was she greeted over enthusiastically by her boss.

“Sunglasses? Lucyyyyyyyy, it’s not summer here anymore!”

The high pitched squeal that Tonio so frequently finished his sentences with was about as welcome as a gunshot wound to the head. Lucy failed to comprehend why anyone who owned an unscrupulous takeaway could be so unfalteringly optimistic. Lucy had concluded long ago that her boss had probably lost his mind under the weight of his own unmet ambitions. He was only human, despite his inhumane cheer. Tonio was hardly a man of subtlety. His moustache was pencil thin and primed, his dyed black hair glistening with a mixture of gel and grease and a platinum tooth that glinted each time he cracked his mouth into one of his frankly terrifying smiles. His orange shirt was tucked into his light blue jeans and unbuttoned to the extent that it revealed the gold chain that nestled within his curling dark chest hair. Lucy remained silent, opting to throw him a withering glare until she remembered he couldn’t see it behind her sunglasses, much to her dismay.
The phone rang, and the girl quickly siphoned the water from her drenched clothes while her boss burst into a ridiculous song and dance routine with a most likely confused caller. In under a minute, Tonio abruptly paused mid sentence and stared dejectedly at the receiver before wheeling on his impassive employee. The relationship between Lucy Adams and Tonio Barthes was similar to that of a flower bud attempting to unsuccessfully claw its way through an unrelenting blanket of snow in the winter. Each conversation was an over excitable child offering a sweet to another, only to have it thrown heartlessly out of the window.

“Honey, I just don’t know how you avoid those roots of yours!”
I’m not trying to.

“Get a better barber.”


Lucy’s sharp reply told him that was the furthest she was prepared to tolerate his inane chatter. Tonio slid a pizza box over the stainless steel counter before turning his back on her, finally exasperated by her caustic demeanour. The girl plucked the order from the cardboard, the paper practically dripping with fat.

OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES / THIN CRUST
JACOB 07875560970
ROOM 22
STOPOVER INN
BENTHAM STREET
1.5 MILES


Another boring order. Without a word to Tonio and ignoring his shrill goodbyes, Lucy walked briskly away from the counter, leaving the bell on the door ringing incessantly as it slammed behind her.
The pavement shone like silver in the rain, and the neon lights of Luckys were reflected mistily in the pools of water that had collected in the road. The night shift had began, and Lucy set off on her way. The wind howled in her ears and thunder grumbled in the wretched eternity of cloud. Lucy’s shirt stuck to her back, her shoes squelched with each step on the pedals and her breath caught in her throat with the intensity of the cold. She closed her eyes. The rain could be stopped easily. But that was then. Viola had been destroyed, but its remnants still remained. A twinge of pain hit Lucy in the right temple. Of course, there were other remnants nearby, another Destrillian surely. However, the signature was scrambled, the link broken and blurred; it was impossible to decipher which prototype it was. It was foolish for Destrillians to reside in this city. Osea was the heart of the dragon’s lair. Lucy Adams resided within only on the fleeting hope that one day, perhaps someone would discover her past and she could cast of the cowl of disguise she had shouldered for far too long. The signal was becoming stronger and stronger, the distraction greater, like an iron nail scratching against a sheet of glass in the back of Lucy’s mind.

The Stopover Inn drew into view. The motel itself was engulfed in darkness, not a single light seeping through the moth bitten curtains. The parking lot was silent, save for the sound of rain hitting the tin roof of a grossly sky blue car. The drab architecture left little to the imagination, bare concrete littered with grit and pebbles. Lucy tried to focus on the building, anything to distract her attention from the rattling static that flooded her senses. She stumbled off her bike and grabbed the soggy pizza box.
22, 22, 22, 22
Lucy Adams nearly tripped over her own feet on her way up the stairs. Her vision was spliced with single-frame flashes of every Destrillian she had encountered.
She couldn’t have known who had been waiting for her in room 22.
22.
One of the screws in the rusted brass numbers had come loose and the second ‘2’ lazily hung upside down on the varnished wooden door. The door itself was slightly ajar, and the buzzing sensation that wore away at the walls of Lucy’s skull was becoming unbearable. Lucy pushed the door gently open with the tip of her foot, raising her voice to attract her customer’s attention.

"Pizza deliver-"

The words had barely spilled over her lips when she felt herself pushed, almost as if falling, against a nearby wall. The water in the pipes behind her vibrated violently as she hit the wall with a crash. The impact threw the pizza box from her hands, knocked the sunglasses from her face and left her arms and legs splayed across the bland, cheap wallpaper. There was a weight, a force pushing against her as Lucy Adams was pinned to the wall, her blue hair spreading behind her as if she was looking up at the tiled ceiling. The pressure made it difficult to breathe and impossible to move, constricting her lungs as her bright yellow eyes squinted in the darkness. The static had gone.

"Hello."

Alex 12/08/2009 07:57 AM

The psychic powers of the Destrillians were a funny thing. As distinct and varied as each child, not the commonly held assumptions that it was the same structure that hard work and dedication would help unlock the next stage of. Each of the Destrillians had adapted in their own way, some of them were particularly adept at communicating telepathically, and others had shown signs of manifesting different psychic abilities. Then there was Kerr, who for so long had no need to use his telepathy, had recently found himself incapable of hearing the thoughts of the other prototypes. His last altercation in the Osean hospital had brought that to light, he had not been able to hear the pleas for mercy and help as he carried out his mission. Now that it was gone, he did take a small relief in the fact that he no longer heard their distant voices, and that they were no longer able to hear his thoughts. Nothing had proven to be more inconvenient when he was trying to carry out an stealth attack on a fellow Destrillian and then having them alerted to his presence by the sheer strength of his murderous thoughts.

However, in the place of this ability to telepathically communicate with the others of his kind he had rigorously trained himself mentally to seek them out in another way. Whilst he could no longer sense their thoughts now he could sense their energy signatures, perhaps in neglecting to use his psychic abilities to connect with the other Destrillians his power mutated to accommodate, or maybe it was a separate technique developed solely because of his devotion to his mission, nobody could say for sure. Because it was much easier to sense the raw power of any of the old prototypes than to sense the complex thought patterns, as he had done previously, Kerr had been able to track his prey across whole continents. His search had eventually led him to Osea, with an unusually high concentration of Destrillians dwelling within the city it had shone out to his psychic ability the same way that the sun’s light obscures all of the stars in the sky during the day. Osea had drawn him in like a magnet, it had occupied every waking thought for weeks before his arrival and now that he was here and one Destrillian was already dead by his hand he thought about little else but who this city would deliver to him next.

His senses picked it up almost immediately; one Destrillian was moving towards his location, straight towards it as though they knew exactly where his location was. Alarm bells sounded in his head and subconsciously his muscles tensed up as the increased adrenalin pumping through his body readied him to make a fight or flight response. This discovery came as a stern reminder of the downside of the increased range of his psychic powers. He was no longer able to discern one Destrillian from another psychically, that was the gift of being able to sense their thoughts and emotions. He was also able to sense their personality and abilities and could prepare himself to deal with each situation well beforehand. Now, he was left completely in the dark until the confrontation itself. Initially this had been a tremendous disadvantage, but time and wisdom had taught Kerr the merits of being prepared for every eventuality.

As soon as he became aware of a energy pattern heading towards him, he instinctively knew that it was heading directly for him and that this was not just coincidence. Within minutes he had already begun making the preparations needed for the arrival, a plan already coming together in his mind. Moving he swiftly, he went to the black duffel bag that he kept at the side of the bed and started taking out various objects, a few shotguns and automatic rifles, some grenades (which he tucked into the large pocket of his dark overcoat) and finally the object he was looking for: a large red toolbox that looked every bit as crusty and worn down as the builder he had stolen it from.

Next came the tedious part, he moved over to the wall just next to the front door. First gauging it’s thickness based entirely on what the gravitational field of the wall was telling his senses, and then very carefully using the micro power-saw that he retrieved from the toolbox and cutting a large panel out of the wall. He knew that this work was noisy, but luckily it would be over with soon and he was reasonably confident in his ability to scare off anybody that came asking questions.

The knot in his belly tightened, the Destrillian was moving closer, and it was a powerful one too.

Next came the tricky part in setting up this trap, he went back to his bag and pulled out a complicated looking piece of machinery that resembled the result of a bastard coupling between a bicycle pump and a switchblade. It was a handy device, one that he had manufactured himself for just occasions, when he needed to think that the lethal blow would be coming at him from the front when instead it would be coming from behind. The subtle art of misdirection was as invaluable on the battlefield as it was in any of the illusionary arts, and was the only attribute besides being prepared that he considered to be truly invaluable. It helped if one had the raw power to fall back on as a plan B, but Kerr hardly regarded that as a true essential to success on the battlefield.

Very gently he inserted the lethal device into the wall, between the water and gas pipes so that it would be camouflaged in case this was another Destrillian whose psychic abilities were so advanced that they could see through walls. He jammed the device into place as best he could, with the pressure sensor and the corresponding blade facing towards him. Once he was satisfied that it was suitably in place, he pressed the palm of his hand to the mechanism to make sure that the pressure sensor was working adequately. He was rewarded a second later with an audible clicking noise, followed y the shaft of the 6 inch blade thrusting out towards him. That was more than long enough to tear through the pitifully thin drywall that hid this deadly device.

His head was swimming slightly as he pushed the segment of drywall back into place, adjusted the dimmer switch in the room to cover up his noticeable handiwork on the room’s wall and opened the door so that it was ever so slightly open. Preparation was complete, and not a moment too soon, he could feel the power signature’s intensity within the very same building as him. It was very peculiar, even though h had long since lost the ability to distinguish between the differences between Destrillians through their energy patterns alone he could have sworn that there was something so familiar about this one. In the end though, it didn’t matter who it was. He had a mission to carry out and nothing was about to change that.

They were right outside the room, he raised his hand towards the door. He hated this next part, it was always so tiring.

“Pizza deliver-“

The pizza spiralled from its cardboard housing as the delivery girl was thrown backwards, Kerr twisting the gravitational pull of the back wall to many times what it should be and then using his more refined psychic powers to channel all of that pull on the girl who had just entered the room. It was subtle work, and rather mentally taxing, especially on an object as large as a fully grown human being.

“Hello.” He greeted her with a voice inhuman and unfeeling from the other side of the room. Increasing the gravitational pull by just a tiny bit would be enough to trigger the deadly trap in the wall, sending the knife painlessly through the centre of her spine. He knew he should get it over with straight away, end it now and end it quickly. But something stopped him, something that felt like curiosity. One of the more tragic aspects of the human psyche, curiosity had led to more fatal mistakes than any other emotion. But he could not help but feel the need to continue staring at the girl he had ensared, this blue and white haired reminder of the past who had caught him in a wave of nostalgia.

“It’s been a long time Thetis.” He said with a smirk, not bothering to hide his disdain for one of the original 11 prototypes, the ones that had escaped the Violan facility those many years ago. A reminder of how weak he had been in the past. He hated feeling weak.

“Still the weak little crybaby?” he snarled and concentrated harder, forcing more pressure onto the wall. Probably much more pressure than he was required so that he could hear the last breaths of his Destrillian barely managing to crawl away from her lips.

This was over already.

Click

Hisako 12/08/2009 09:01 AM

A mouse crawled along the pipes, scurrying like it had a purpose. Sewage and waste water was a permanent river of garbage, always on the flow whether it rained or not. Sunlight found its way into the system through the various grates and lit-up oil barrels set up at regular intervals, the wide, gently-sloped concrete dully scattering enough to light up the tunnels nicely. The mouse paused, perked its ears up, and instantly fled around a corner as a bullet passed by its comfort zone.

The other boy laughed as his mate holstered his gun into the back of his pants, shirt over the top. Just like he was taught to. “Don’t waste it on those things. You won’t hit anything that moves down here that’s smaller than human. They’re like us, learned to avoid trouble.”
“And to find trouble. Where the hell are these little runts, anyway? Golem has us all searching for them, and their pathetic “hang-out”, but these systems go for miles, man. And I’m still waiting to shoot something.”

The younger boy said nothing at first, and lit up on a home-made cigar. “Our boys said that they spotted feds down in the sewers in this area, and Old Man Spike back up in town says that the kiddos we’re looking for have some serious beef with the cops or summat. So yeah, they’re around. Little bastards got their heels dug into this corner, though, so we’re going to scout ‘em out first.”
He said it like he had a purpose, but he knew that in reality he was just one step in the hierarchy above the guy next to him. They were expendables, and if they died in the holes of the city sewers Golem wouldn’t blink an eye at their demise.
He had way too much to achieve to care about two careless grunts in his gang, and the boy knew it. The boy knew enough to know the stories about their target gang – all the drunken bullshit about the magic and the mystics and their ‘invisible’ nature – all a bunch of nonsense designed to cover up for incompetent thugs who couldn’t tell a gang member from a punching bag.

However, he knew he was different from the others. There wouldn’t be any mindless rampages through the sewers. It would be all quiet-like, all smart and invisible. He was prepared for what the enemy would throw at him; he was prepared for the inevitable loss of the dumb, noisy muscle next to him. He was even prepared for his expendable rank.

What he wasn’t prepared for was an order to put his hands in the air, and the death-rattle of four suppressed submachine guns when he refused.

One of the soldiers from the patrol nudged the bodies with the toe of his boot. “So what were we looking for, sir?”
The man at the back flicked a cigarette stub into the grey-green water nearby, adjusted the lapels of his collar, coughed and wrinkled his nose. “Ah, scars of medical nature. Barcodes, imprinted tags any proof of identity as Denaan property.”
Pockets were turned inside out, the bodies frisked and eventually bagged for later removal. Endless patrols like this, always the same low-lifes in the same places like this. Nothing of note, another pile of dead no-one would ever care about.
The real prize was elusive.

Every sight and sound was empty of clues, no visible trace of anything that could lead them further down this point, but the patrols persisted in the way only desperate soldiers and their leaders could.
“Awful clean for sewers around here, dontcha think?” The words echoed just enough to ring in their ears like someone whispering through a joke toy microphone. They stiffened at the sudden noise after what was another half hour of walking along a quiet gurgling stream of sewage and the only other sounds of their rhythmic crunching footsteps.
One tried to reply with “Zero noise, dumbass,” but the echo from the first syllable felt like a stop sign for his ears. Still, the point was taken – the tunnels were beginning to look like they were swept and vacuumed. Even the bags of garbage littered around the place seemed to be kept in a way that slowed travelling for anyone without acrobatic finesse. Another soldier stifled a sneeze, and what was initially an irrational thought was slowly turning into a strange creeping hollow feeling in the stomach.

“We are at their doorstep, gentlemen. We take down anything that remotely resembles the enemy. No-one gets past us.” The scientist found it easy to break the silence. After all, he was led by a squad of highly trained and elite –

They stopped dead in their tracks as a woman appeared from around the corner of a turn in the sewage pipes, and all of the soldiers raised their weapons, safeties already off by the first sight of her.
The first sight of her was enough to cause confusion. The woman was unarmed, unless they counted the riding crop in her hands as a weapon. Long, blond hair traced the outline of her figure, ample proportions straining against the fabric of a black split-sides dress that left little to the imagination and had the distinct sound that leather had when rubbed together. Matching leather heels moving at a slow saunter towards them.

The woman spoke, a drawl that made the soldiers’ hairs at the back of their necks rise. “Well it looks like some of us are a little lost right now, aren’t we? Was there something you… needed? Or wanted?” The crack of her crop on her open palm made the patrol jump, and she silently slid a step closer over the distance of cracked concrete and dirty water.
“H-hold it right there!” The grizzliest and bravest – or the most foolish, maybe – of the patrol started towards her with his submachine-gun, a move that was met with a coy giggle.

“Relax, there’s no need for this, boy… I don’t have anything you want. Or…” she tilted her head a fraction to the right, stepping forwards close enough to touch the muzzle of the gun, “…or do I?”
The scientist at the back of the group rolled his eyes, shaking off the heavy atmosphere that had settled on them all, and raised his voice several notches. “You incompetent morons! Just do what I said, and shoot this… bitch!” He drew out a derringer from the inside of his labcoat, and pulled the trigger twice towards the woman’s forehead, and her neck snapped back in time with the beat of the gunshots.

There was a few tense seconds of silence while the patrol group waited for the lady to fall to the ground, which made them even more tense when they realized that she wasn’t going to.

The sugary laugh ringing in their ears would have made a lesser person wet themself. The laughter, however, was odd, as if it wasn’t coming from her, and from all directions, even as she straightened and faced them square-on with her piercing, now noticeably blazing red eyes.

“So brave… so dead.” Had he survived the encounter, the soldier at the front would have told the tale to all his mates, and left out the part where he soiled his pants. Especially when the woman vanished in an instant.

The stories that intelligence had gathered involved various things or persons disappearing before people’s eyes, and simply as if they had never existed. No trace of them afterwards, a sign of some form of optical illusion. Had the entire report not been several hundred pages, a superior officer somewhere may have found the accounts concerning Tuatha and prepared the patrols better for such an encounter.

As it stood, no-one knew a damn thing until the soldier at the front had his face inexplicably caved in by a deft strike between his eyes.

A strangled yell was cut short by a crushing blow to the windpipe, and the others quickly fell into disarray and into the stream of sewage, stumbling away for their lives. One by one, however, they had their necks broken, skulls cracked or heads crushed by some invisible force that only revealed itself, when all that was left were a few mangled bodies, and a lone, bespectacled man squirming on the ground, fumbling for bullets with a broken right hand to reload an empty gun with his left.

The woman in the black dress placed a shiny leather heel between the man’s legs as he whimpered in fear, and she tsked-tsked as if in disappointment. Bending forwards inches from his face, she cooed. “Poor thing, you probably don’t even know who I am, do you?”
The scientist gathered enough courage for a last retort, “Fucking bitch-”

“-Not for you, anyway…” She stuck out her tongue, moved forward another inch and roughly licked up the side of his face, tracing the path of blood trickling from a fresh head wound. He shuddered in fear and despair again, while she gave off another honeyed laugh, whispering in his ear. “Tell the other Denann shits in hell right now that I said hi.”

Jettison Brand raised her riding crop, and brought down the steel shaft on his face with a crunch that sounded like a watermelon being smashed with a jackhammer.

***

“Damn, girl, you got yourself a killing spree!” The large, stocky man sitting by the corner section of the sewer pipe spat a wad of chewing tobacco out, and popped another plug into his mouth as he grinned. “Bitches got nothin’ on ya, hahah!”
Jettison Brand shrugged as she dragged the bodies into a particularly deep section of the sewage after looting them of their supplies: fatigues, combat vests, other protective clothing, guns and ammunition.

She had no idea who Daniel “Nova” November was. She didn’t even know what he truly looked like, although his main form of appearance was usually a large, dark-skinned and well-built man with arms like leg hams and punches like meaty pneumatic hammers, filling in the rest of his desired stereotype with words like “motherfucker” or “bitches” or gobs of tobacco spit.
However, his gift of actual shapeshifting made him as interesting to Jettison as she found herself, and also as elusive. Whenever she thought of a few words to question Daniel with about the matter, he would simply chortle and snap off a reply about a god-given right and whores. As such, she usually left him alone as others in her gang never seemed to reply to his quips anyway, although most of them seemed to listen to his advice.

Daniel hefted some of the loot over his shoulder with ease, lumbering next to Jettison as closely as possible. She also had no difficulty with the stack of gear she was carrying, and seemed thoroughly bored with the situation as they walked back to their main hideout. Nova’s second gift was that he found it hard to shut up.
“Man, they don’t even know where we are, the dumbshits. ‘Ooooh, we gonna kill y’all, and-and-and have all this peace, and prosperity, security,’ like bullSHIT, yeah? Damn motherfuckers need to get a torch, you know, cuz they’re so far up their own ass - they still think they’re untouchable. And DON’T get me started on them bikies. Don’t got nothing on our crew. Why the fuck can’t we just go and shoot the bitches anyway, right?”

No reply.

“I know, I know, y’all are like, ‘gotta keep it on the down low’ and all that, but we got the guns and the brains already. Who gives a shit about the numbers? Cause we’re smarter than them, and we gonna OWN this place. Wait, the fuck am I talking about? We already own this place.”

More silent walking. Daniel rolled his eyes, as if he already knew what her reply would have been if she had spoken.

“And look at yo. Such a fuckin’ tease, goin’ out there and licking up all those men. When you gonna gimme some of that lovin’, huh? Hahaa -” with a flourish, Daniel slapped Jettison Brand on the behind with enough force to make her notice, and she fixed a cold stare at him, in a flash bringing the end of her makeshift quarterstaff up under his chin. He raised his hands in jest.
“Hey, girl, I was just playin’ witcha, you know -”
“Trust me.” She flicked away an unruly bang of her hair with a flick of the head, shifting her shoulders to cover up her binded torso a little more with her jacket, “you don’t want some of that lovin’.” She turned away, and continued walking, leaving Daniel standing there, bemused for a moment before he perked up and returned to his self again, quick-stepping towards her like he had a purpose.

“Just playin’ around, yo. But like I said before, yeah? Those bitches at Osea Aboveground…”

Alessa Gillespie 12/08/2009 01:34 PM

One leg up, one leg down. One leg up, one leg down, careful now, there’s a rock, one leg up, one leg down. “Thanks, Tabby, that’s good. Drop it there,” The man who commissioned her help said, nodding at her position. She slowly set down the large crate she had been carrying, breathing out a tired sigh. Wiping the sweat out from above her frames, the man continued, “I didn’t think you could do it, but you proved me wrong again, Sudonim. Here’s your reward.” He tossed her a small, but hefty coin purse, the brown haired girl smiling broadly at him. She opened the purse and counted up the coins, finding a small bonus in her pay and clapping gleefully in response. Nodding, the girl gave him a thumbs-up, feeling good she could at least pay for her groceries for the next couple of weeks. The man awkwardly ran a hand through his bristling hair and told her, “Have a good night, girl.” She limped off, waving him goodbye as she went.

Things had not always been so easy. Well, she supposed this wasn’t easy either, but it was simpler. She was no longer trying to run from anything, she was no longer something that had to be perfect. She could just be herself, whoever that was, Terra Michaels or Tabitha Sudonim. Lately, she didn’t feel like she had a name. But that didn’t matter, because people always told her who she was anyways, and that was fine with her. As long as they were able to help her through rough spots, wasn’t it okay if she was given requests? Keep walking, she told her legs with some effort, limping past swarms of people, who didn’t seem to care or notice. She was little more than an ant in the colony, bumbling past people who couldn’t care less about her: that was fine.

How much time had gone by? There wasn’t really much for markers to decide. How much time since she relearned to walk? Months? How long since she destroyed the facility and had the seizure? Years? Perhaps if she had been marking the passage of the days, it would have been easier to remember, but she hadn’t cared or had much ability to. Since it had happened, she had relied on others, and it was just recently that she was finally able to do stuff for herself. For that she was grateful.

A flower, dearie? It’d look lovely in your hair,” A middle aged woman stopped her, waving a colorful red bloom in her face, which she shook her head to. Maybe if she was selling whole plants, she would have forked over the money, but not just for a flower. The woman shrugged and continued to ask people on the street whether they would be willing to buy what she was selling.

Almost home, at least. Keep walking, she told herself, you’re almost there. Her mind wandered, wondering if perhaps Emma had made her favorite food, or if she had ordered something in, since either one sounded lovely.

Unfortunately for herself, this brown-haired/green-haired/whatever hair she felt it should be at the moment, was rather turtle-like. This meant that while she was spacing about what sort of food they were going to eat, the bump of a single uncourteous person knocked her over. She gave out a small yelp as her leg gave out under her and she collapsed in a heap on the ground. The splint that was keeping her up had broken, and was currently stabbing her in the knee. She didn’t think she was bleeding but there really wasn’t much of a way to know. The traffic of the street had not stopped, which resulted in a several people accidentally trampling her. Damn, how was she going to get back home now?

She concentrated, trying to send a message to Emma while she pulled herself out of the middle of the street. As per always since her accident, she assumed it was filled with static, but she sent the message out anyway.

E…ma. Trapt on piper street. Hlp.

NoenGaruth 12/10/2009 11:44 AM

That company will never die. Even after it was betrayed by it's own, even after it's headquarters was destroyed, and it's whole system was dissolved.....we are still haunted by the shadows it left in it's wake”.

The words were spoken by a man in an expensive suit, standing in a room full of other men and women, all wearing various attire's and uniforms signifying importance of some kind, and all shrouded in the darkness of the dimly lit room with the only light source being a large screen. Rarely were the officials of the Artolian government ever in the one place at the same time, but when it came to 'THAT company', everyone was present and accounted for. All eyes were fixed at the screen as they reviewed another treasure that had been recovered from the incident that occurred 4 years ago, it seemed as tho the more information they received, the more difficult and complicated their problems became. For years now they had been trying to deal with all sorts of horrors that had emerged during a period when all the private research companies were attempting to create the next ultimate weapon, and the topic for that time had been heavily concentrated on bio-engineering and human experimentation. Most of the companies were now long gone or reduced to but mere fragments of what they once were, but their legacies would haunt future generations to come, even if the general public wasn't aware of it.

As the footage came to an end the man in the expensive suit spoke up again. Ladies and gentlemen, it seems like our situation is looking more and more grim every day, but we cannot falter. Our sponsors have expressed great concern over the recent growth in activity from these anomalies and have made it clear that they must be removed by any means necessary – of course that doesn't mean we just go running straight to IRIN. Artolia is on the way to rebuilding itself and with that we also need to rebuild our reputation, for if we rely on a PMC too much our own military force will become a joke which in turn could attract the attention of those warmongers overseas and bring the inferno that still rages on in the central continents back here again.” He then paused for a moment to straighten his tie before continuing. “Therefore, we must be the ones to put an end to all these trifling matters occurring on our own doorstep. We have the finances and backing of our sponsors, so I expect to start seeing results within the next few months.” His words were met with many nods of agreement showing his colleagues shared his sentiments.

Well with that note, this meeting is adjourned...”

__________________________________________________________________



It is raining yet again, it always seems to be whenever the higher ups all meet...

Staring out the window towards the Osea skyline, Kijo wondered why there had been so many meetings recently which had involved all the executive officials and top level military officers of the government. She wasn't interested in knowing what was going on during the meetings – that information was not necessary to someone of lower rank such as herself, moreover she was simply curious as to what would come of those meetings, as surely sooner or later the cause for these gatherings would lead to some form of action, and Kijo simply wanted to be prepared for it.

Multiple scenarios played around in her head, perhaps there was going to be another attempt to flush out the rebel militants up north, or even a more domestic operation to deal with the city's growing crime rate... now that was something that everyone had noticed getting out of hand.

If you lived in the downtown area or any sections of Osea that were in close proximity to the central government offices or military installations, crime was practically nonexistent. However in the outer suburbs and aging city blocks of the old Osea before Artolia's grand reconstruction of the city, then there were all sorts of problems to worry about, from Mob syndicates to hoards of vicious gangs, the areas that were nicknamed by the military as “The Orange Zone” (in the sense that one should exercise extreme caution when entering it), were a place that had little involvement from the authorities. Sure they kept the utilities maintained and even the garbage is still collected (even if via automated trucks), but in terms of policing the Orange Zone, they'll respond to emergency calls, but aside from that the government saw it as a waste of time since whenever they would try to get it in order, the crime just seemed to intensify to even worse then if they just left it to run it's course. Still even crime has to know it's limits, and it certainly has when it comes to spreading outside the Orange Zone. Any attempts in the past have been met with brutal force from the military, and while such involvement may seem a bit extreme, local biker gangs will think twice about roaming into developed residential areas when they're greeted by an APC of heavily armed soldiers.

Reminiscing about Osea's crime industry only increased her concerns so she turned away from the window and turned on the TV in her office to see if the local news could help take her mind off the topic.....it did not.

Or top story tonight, dozens left dead and a nation is left in shock in the wake of one of the most barbaric acts of violence in recent memory.”

Kijo's eyes widened at the sight of the images that appeared in front of her on the TV.

Police chief Michael Ochoa has issued a heartfelt apology to the nation that they have yet had no luck identifying the man responsible for the horrific destruction of the Saint Raphael Medical Centre in Downtown Osea that left over a hundred people, many of them staff and critical patients that were unable to be moved, dead.”

What kind of person would drive themselves to commit such unspeakably horrendous acts of violence? Her question was answered by some photographs of a barely distinguishable man taken from security cameras, which made Kijo note that these facilities desperately needed an overhaul of their surveillance systems.

This is the man widely acknowledged to be responsible for the attack, with survivors recognising him engaging in a fire fight with the armed forces in the corridors and lobby of the facility. They report him as being pale, short and slender, with long brown hair and is to be regarded as armed and very dangerous. If you have any information about this man, then plea-” Kijo had heard enough and muted the Television. Thinking for a moment, she had a strong feeling this was one of the main reasons for the frequent meetings of the higher ups. It seemed there had been a number of extreme acts of violence recently but this one stood out as Saint Raphael Medical Centre was right in the heart of the government's sphere of power, a sacred place where such deeds were considered impossible. Whoever this mysterious figure was most definitely wasn't connected with any form of crime syndicate within the Orange Zone, as even they weren't this foolish.

No.....something just does not add up here, I am not sure what is it but something just feels different about this atrocity than to simply classify this as a random massacre. It almost feels like the waves of violence that occurred 4 years ago, right when THAT company was destroyed. Kijo pondered to herself in the silent office, remembering back when the army was going haywire in search of multiple targets that had emerged from the basements of a rouge company that had the potential to cause widespread destruction. They had never been told what the weapons were, merely that if if they encountered individuals of certain descriptions they were to terminate them immediately. Unfortunately not a single one of them was ever stopped and eventually they all just seemed to have disappeared from the map, although the orders to eliminate them on sight are still in force even today. But all that aside she began wondering if she was giving this too much thought, as there was no way it could be them, not after all this time. Anyone who was an enemy of Artolia surely would have fled overseas and never looked back...

Her attention then drew back to the muted Television as the images it was showing sparked her interest. On the screen was the former head of the company she had just been thinking about, so she unmuted the TV to see what this was about.

“And in other news, was the Viola corporation conducting inhumane research on immigrants and war criminals? We enter the fourteenth day of the trial of the company’s former CEO, Mr. Jason Spencer as the High Court struggles to sort fact from fiction regarding the truth behind the former multinational corporation’s most classified secrets.”

I fail to see how the mass media could have any information of relevance on THAT company when even a majority of the military is in the dark.” She snarked out loud at the Television. Even though no one else was in the room Kijo couldn't conceal her contempt for the media. There are some things that the public shouldn't know for their own good, and anything involving Vio...THAT company, is a prime example of what should remain a secret, for even tho she didn't know all the details, one thing Kijo knew for certain was that said company had been involved with many projects that were.....to simply put it, downright sickening.

I bet those executives who abandoned Spencer and his company are all laughing at him now in the comfort of IRIN headquarters... still the man will get what he deserves, and good riddance to him.” Her thoughts were then disrupted yet again, only this time it was from a knock at the door.

What? Kijo shouted at whoever was outside.

Ma'am, I have news to report regarding the operation in the south-east sewer system.” A male voice replied from the other side of the door, sounded like Lieutenant Marshall.

Enter. Kijo quickly called at him, then stood behind her desk once again looking out the window as the man entered the room.

Good or Bad? The woman demanded, not wishing to waste time with minor details.

Bad Ma'am I'm afraid” Kijo grimaced at the words. “All personnel sent to investigate the sewers are MIA and presumed dead as all attempts to raise them via radio have failed.”

The Major paused for a moment, then turned around to face her subordinate. “Nothing else? Did command hear any chatter on their comms before signal was lost?” To which the Lieutenant quickly flipped through the clipboard of documents in his hands then replied “Uhh....lets see here, last recorded transmissions from the squad is....hmm that's odd” He stopped for a moment to review what was on the paper.

What is?” Kijo demanded to him, at which he looked up at her again and said in a confused tone “Well it seems ma'am that the last thing that's listed on the comm transcript is the sound of a woman's voice, unfortunately the signal starts dying here and all that can be heard is the words 'Well it lo-' then it becomes too garbled to make out.”

Dammit....what the hell is Denann looking for down there anyway?” Kijo asked out loud, although not asking anyone in particular. The Denann company was looking for something they had been tracking down there that has been causing a nuisance for awhile in the sewer system, however in order to conduct operations in Osea they had to go through the military since the government weren't about to let the guns for hire of a research company snoop around under their city. Of course, that meant that the army had to supply personnel and since neither Kijo nor her commander wished to send their best troops into god knows what, Denann were only supplied with mediocre troops who were merely 'labeled' as elites to satisfy the company's demands. Still, Kijo felt bad for the poor souls who had died down there...

Letting out a sigh she then withdrew from the thoughts and placed her attention towards the lieutenant who was patiently waiting still.

So what will Denann do now?” She asked.

Marshall shrugged “We don't know ma'am, they haven't informed us yet.”

I see...well in the meantime no one is permitted access to the sewer system, if city maintenance workers or the odd group of foolish teenagers were the ones to start getting killed, then this whole thing would be all over the news headlines in a heartbeat.”

Yes m'am!” Marshall replied followed by a salute. Kaji saulted back then the man turned around and walked out of the room. Leaving the Major once again to be alone with her thoughts.

Things are indeed becoming more complicated, and my instincts tell me that from here on they are only going to get worse...


Bex 12/15/2009 05:56 PM

In a fairer world, Lucy Adams would not have lived in the city projects, worked in a run-down takeaway shop, worn second-hand clothes and been exceptionally poor. She would never have run into a serial killer who was slowly breaking her body with an invisible force. The name ‘Lucy Adams’ would not have acted as a false identity for a genetically modified government prototype with the ability to control molecules of water. In an ideal world, that prototype would never have existed. However, without prototype #006, the degenerate pizza delivery girl would be dead. #006 knew exactly what Kerr Nordstrom would do now, if only from her past mistakes in dealing with #011. Kerr was going to kill her. She had been caught in his snare, suspended, vulnerable. Helpless.

Thetis had hoped, as Lucy Adams, that she would never have felt trapped again. But there was no ignoring it, Thetis had been trapped ever since the destruction of Viola. Trapped in a human identity, always lying, always hiding, always keeping secrets. She could feel water rushing through the pipes in the wall behind her, hear each droplet of rain as it battered the window, smell the damp and mould that festered behind the wallpaper. She wasn’t Lucy Adams, and she never would be. Lucy Adams was Thetis Alcesteos, and that was a persona she could never hide. Thetis struggled for air as the vice-like grip of Kerr’s power tightened around her lungs.

It’s been a long time, Thetis.

There was a undeniable menace in his monotone voice that rendered his intention perfectly clear. Thetis grimaced, her ribcage juddering and heaving as she attempted to breathe under the weight of his ability. The room had turned cold, and goose pimples skittered across Thetis’ skin as she caught her enemy’s pitch black gaze. She had to break away from the wall without alerting his attention. If #006 gave herself away by manifesting her ability in front of Kerr, he would kill her without hesitation. She needed to break the gravitational field. The pipes. The walls were paper thin, the muffled blare of canned laughter from the television in the room next door was audible. The pipes must have been fitted snugly with little space between their plastic exterior and the dry plaster. If she increased the pressure, increased the mass of water a little more, surely the resulting expulsion of the water could tear through the plaster walls.
Theoretically.

"Still the weak little cry-baby?"

Thetis’ pale, skinny fingers clawed at the wall, dirty fingernails scratching at the loose wallpaper, writhing as the last gasps of oxygen dissipated from her lungs. The weight of the g-force intensified, and a whimper escaped #006s throat. Concentrating under the conditions was absolute agony, but she had to hurry. The water lines in the wall creaked and shuddered under the stress of the increasing contents. All that remained was to compress the water, and she would be free. She paused, unable to speak, drowning in the air as she allowed her spite to permeate into Kerr’s subconscious.

Better a cry-baby than a killer.

A series of cracks fractured the wall, and within seconds the plaster had been blown away by several thunderous torrents of water. Thetis fell to the floor, coughing and wheezing, fighting for air as if she were taking her first breath. Her vision was blurred and her hearing marred by a loud ringing noise. Her blue hair was matted with dust and moisture, and the dirty carpet was flooded with water. She felt numb, save for the feeling of something warm trickling down her left arm. Struggling to her feet, Thetis stared blankly at the wound, as well as the strange invention protruding from it. A switchblade, with the strange addition of a bicycle pump attached, had torn through her shirt and found itself embedded in her flesh. Wincing, Thetis pulled the contraption from her triceps, blood flowing over the back of her hand as she attempted to restrict the bleeding. If anything, the revelation that Kerr would attempt to kill her through such primitive means made Thetis furious. It was an insult.

“At least use your power to kill me!”

Her shout echoed through the cloud of dust, which soon settled to reveal the skeletal remains of shattered pipes. Kerr Nordstrom would pay for his crimes, his sins. She had the chance to clearly take in the appearance of her opponent, the single aspect of her identity Thetis had neglected to change. He had hardly changed since they had escaped Viola. His plain, dull clothes seemed large and oversized, hanging off his stunted frame, as if a child had been dressing up in his father‘s clothes. Granted, he had bulked out since she last saw him, but still not enough to counter his generally disproportionate image. Kerr’s silvery hair had vanished, sheered off and dyed blonde, which would have rendered him eerily human if it wasn’t for his eyes, which were merely two jet black coals set into his sunken, gaunt face. Kerr Nordstrom had betrayed his race, changing his image and hunting down his peers. He would pay dearly for killing the others, for killing Ariel. Thetis hated him. It was time for retribution.

“I’ll make sure you suffer just as much as she did.”

Thetis focused, ignoring the stabbing pain in her left arm as she rose her hands to manifest her power. It was her turn to act. #006 wasn’t a cry-baby anymore. Not only had her personality matured, but her powers as well. Numerous strands of water rose from the puddles that littered the floor, meeting each other to form large, elegant streams. The water that remained on the floor churned and rippled, while the risen waves and lashes licked at the girl’s skin. Thetis’ yellow eyes glared vehemently at the silhouette of the 11th prototype as she projected her final message to him with icy conviction.

A traitor like you deserves to die.

The streams surrounding her writhed before shooting towards her opponent, each jet charged with the same hydrostatic pressure that tore the plaster from the walls only a few moments prior. As Thetis leapt forward to attack Kerr Nordstrom, she was sure of only one thing: #011 would deeply regret his botched attempt on her life.

Baldy 12/16/2009 11:43 PM

It had been a day or two since her face-to-face encounter; even though it had been dangerous and she was probably going to have to answer for it later on, Genevieve Weatherworm found that she didn't really mind. Truth be told, spending years without connecting to anybody had walled her up a little. Sure, she had acquaintances, plenty of them – ladies and gentlemen in both the prim and proper areas of the city, and the slightly more questionable ones, all who welcomed her with open arms and sincere smiles when she came knocking. She just… didn't knock often was all.
A mild frown settled on her face. She rolled over and looked out over the edge of the building she had chosen for the night, and millions of electric pinpoints filled her vision. Red and yellow-white streaks of light pointed out the main roads and the cars that drove upon them, and far off she could spot a building or two that were taller than the one she was nesting on top of for the night.

Genevieve's house wasn't in the city. It was somewhere outside, a few days' trip away – that way, in case the worst should happen and the Destrillians should be discovered here, her home wouldn't be targeted sooner than she could handle. The downside was, of course, that during her self-inflicted missions she had to make her way in the city without a home base to return to. These missions of hers could last anywhere from a few days to a few months, and so far this one in particular looked like it was going to be a long haul—but as a blast of wind that somehow managed to spiral up warm and cool at the same time, lifting her short hair eerily in its wake, she found she didn't mind so much. The weather in the city never got too bad; she always had the ability to fashion herself an effective shelter when needed, as the rooftops were made of metal. And having no home base to return to gave Genevieve a sense of being rogue that she… sort of liked, a little.

She rolled onto her back, looking up at the sky. It was impossible to see any stars because of all the light pollution, even with her heightened vision. But she could sense them there. And sometimes in the really early hours of the morning, when most people were asleep and some of the lights were gone, those balls of fire up in the sky would show themselves a little, almost as if they were shy to come out. Genevieve loved those mornings: it was like a Destrillian sandwich, with the fluorescent stars below her and the real ones up above.
Tonight, though, was not one of those nights. She sighed and shifted position yet again. Something was keeping her up and she'd not the faintest idea what it might be; she'd been trying to sleep for hours now and to no avail, so she finally decided there was no point in trying anymore.


May as well use the time to do something productive, she thought as she hopped up and stretched out her muscles. Just an hour or two ago, a strange feeling had started nagging in the back of her head, just behind her ears—a pulling feeling, almost, painfully strong but yet not so, as if something was trying to rip the skin off there and it was resisting.

The feeling only got stronger when she stood up, and for a moment Genevieve wondered—Idris wondered—whether the old headaches were finally coming back. She could only hope against it, as there was nothing she could do to prevent them but calm herself. After a moment or two, though, the girl was able to tell the distinct difference between those old menaces and this new feeling.
Wait… it wasn't "new," per se. She'd experienced this before, she could tell. It was just…
"Unfamiliar."
Well what sort of feeling had she not felt in a while? It took perhaps a whole three hundredths of a second to figure it out—power. Not her own, though. The power of another.
The power of a fellow Destrillian.

Now the unstoppable determination was rising within her. She'd always been the curious one but if there were Destrillians within the city that were using enough power for her to feel it, so many miles away, then she would have to go and see. And so, donning her black wig and making sure the white summer dress she used as nightclothing was tough enough to withstand what just might happen next, she took a breath—
—crouched—
—and then leaped.
The cityscape went blurry beneath the girl as she flew through the air, landing silently on a rooftop fifty feet below. The silence itself was not one of practice and Genevieve frowned for the second time that night, this time of confusion, but then her face brightened and a laugh slipped through her teeth as she realized the reason for her lack of noise—she wasn't wearing shoes. The metal, to her skin, felt warmer than the cold wind blowing so high up. Metal had always felt alive to her anyway.
And she was up and running.

Genevieve didn't have to do much work to know where to go – the waves of power were practically radiating from one particular spot. As she neared the situation, she could feel them lash across her in all the places where her skin was bare. It was that power, not the cold night air, that made her shiver. She could almost see where it was all coming from—

WhooooooomCrack.

Sheer Destrillian instinct drove the girl to drop like a stone.

BOOM

In the span of a second, a massive amount of energy had been generated, charged up, compressed with a sound rising in pitch like a jet engine gearing up for takeoff, and then released. The result sounded like a cross between a glacier cracking clean in half and the roar of the most ferocious creature on the planet. With her arms tucked in tight, Genevieve had called up the only power she'd been honing since the destruction of Viola: her shield. Metal flowed up from the building's roof with unnatural fluidity, coating the girl in half an inch of indestructible, molten metal. She could still feel the air tremble around her as the blast took out… well, probably everything around her. Genevieve wasn't going to spend too much time to check.
Slowly at first, her shield of liquid steel dripped from her body and back into the floor where it belonged. Her ears picked up the sound of footsteps—heavy ones—running in the direction of the explosion. Another moment and she could tell that there were a good dozen people.
Her head flicked to the right. If she squinted, she could just make out two figures, and if she'd had time to spare she may just have figured out which of her family was fighting amidst the ruins but she now had more pressing matters to attend to. Because people were coming. And she was in this city for a reason.
Nobody was supposed to know.
So they would have to go.

Genevieve stood and straightened up to her full, five-foot-nothing height. She closed her eyes and tracked the footsteps coming closer…closer…somebody else was following, almost chasing the first group, but they seemed to be alone.
Might be able to spare that one, as long as they don’t catch up too quick.
To her right she could feel, deep in her core, as the fight went on. If it was anything like the Destrillian fights she had seen, then it could either be a very long fight—or a very short one. Her job, on the other hand, had only one option. Genevieve Weatherworm was here to keep the Destrillians a secret from the people they lived amongst. She was going to have to be quick, decisive, and final about her method of dispatch; she had to make sure she got them all at once, because no matter how hard she listened, nothing in the footsteps would tell her whether these were simple civilian gangs or armed, governmental forces who could radio in at a moment's notice and ruin everything. She was going to have to pull a bit of a flashy move.
Genevieve geared up for what she was about to do. She breathed in deeply, feeling her skin tingle as she reached her powers to all the metal she could use. With an exhale, the feeling was gone—another deep breath in and it intensified twofold as she focused on one specific material, the abandoned building right across from her.

The people she plotted against were about to turn the corner. About to meet their doom. Thankfully whoever followed them was too far behind to get caught up in her ploy, and so Genevieve allowed herself a small smile before her eyes hardened, her jaw clenched and her hands whipped to her sides, hands flexed as if she were controlling puppet strings.
The effect was instantaneous. The entire top half of the four-storey building came clean off of it's earth-bound twin, floated there a moment, and then crushed upwards into one incredibly dense, three-foot thick slab of solid, shining death. Her arms moved in a sweeping motion out in front of her and then with a sharp snap of the wrists the slab whizzed through the air and hovered, waiting, right above the street below.
One beat of preparation—
—the gang of whoever-they-may-be ran onto the street and into her trap—
—Genevieve's hands fell to her sides.

And she decided that now was a good time to go back to being Idris.

Time went slack. The girl leaped six feet straight up into the air, tucking herself into a forward roll so tight it almost left her dizzy. She righted herself just in time to bring her knees back up to her chest and then slam them down, turning her acrobatics into a deadly two-footed stomp that sent the slab of metal rocketing down to meet the hapless people beneath it.
They crushed like fruit with bones. The noise of the metal hitting the concrete was amplified a hundredfold—a high, keening, ripping sound, like paper being torn inside your head at top volume.
Idris righted herself as the dust settled, grimacing a bit at how, if the government hadn't heard all the commotion yet, they certainly would have now. She had just enough time to peel back a corner of her death slab and to see that no, these were not armed forces but some sort of petty criminals when somebody came skidding around the corner.

It was the person she'd felt behind this group. Tutting lightly at how this night was turning out, Idris turned smoothly about to face the man and wondered how she was going to deal with what came next.

Bex 12/20/2009 11:53 PM

Kerr was rarely surprised. It was a reasonably alien emotion to him, traditionally in his dealings with humans he was used to them usually doing the opposite of what he expected. But he had grown used to this by now, to the point where the stupidity of their actions barely even caused him to raise an eyebrow.

So when Thetis Alcestos burst free of his well placed trap, wreathed in coils of water pulled straight out of the piping in the wall. The word ‘surprised’ barely did the surge of adrenalin that pumped through his system justice. No Destrillian had ever survived his first strike, and that was something he had certainly not taken into account for this battle. The past few days had taken a strain on his powers anyway and the very act of pinning Thetis to the wall had brought that exertion back into stark focus.

However, as surprised as he was that Thetis had broken free from his trap, this was nothing compared to how surprised he felt when a large pressurised jet of water smacked into his chest with the force of a small car. The surprise quickly melted away into pain, as he felt the plate-sized bruise already forming in the centre of his chest as he careened through the air, and then through the wall on the opposite side of the room. This hurt less than he had anticipated as he burst through the wall
into the next room, showering the empty bed with pieces of demolished drywall.

Without a second thought, he quickly rolled off the bed. The pain in his chest was crippling, but was quickly giving way to an overwhelming anger. The darkening bruise on his chest was nothing compared his bruised pride. That would be the last time this fight that his opponent would take him by surprise.


.oOo.

Thetis had heard the phrase ‘kill or be killed’ a number of times. The scenario had always been the same. She would be sat in front of the TV, with a cold pizza and a late night action movie, which was almost exclusively in some form of horrifically vivid technicolor with an almost comedically formulaic story and a soundtrack limited to screeching guitar solos. The hero, would turn his back to the guerrilla enemy base, riddled with gratuitous explosions, and, sweat dripping from his dirty red bandana, cigar smouldering in the corner of his mouth, proceed to reload his shotgun in one hand and grasp a rifle firmly in the other, square face set into a pained grimace as the phrase spilled out of his mouth like an embarrassing confession.

Kill or be killed.

The expression that reeked of implicit necessity. Thetis had formerly been able to relate. She used to hate the very thought of killing another being, Human or Destrillian. But that Thetis had been replaced with a disillusioned, misanthropic model. A poor trade, but an inevitable one. She did not have to kill Kerr. She could have run, escaped from the motel as soon as she broke free from his trap. She could have phoned the police or even the army. Kerr was infamous enough to warrant such an action with little inquiry into the identity or the anonymous tipster. But there was no urgency to flee, no ultimatum by which she had to abide that would force her to kill her former comrade. And as the girl watched her enemy being flung through the wall by the attack, Thetis felt an almost sadistic sense of satisfaction. She didn’t necessarily have to kill Kerr.

She just wanted to.

The room existed in scarlet red. Thetis felt giddy. She shivered with excitement as the blood pounded in her temples and streams of water lashed at her arms. Kerr would be dead soon enough, and the frenzy would die with him. The girl would need to take her time. Not only for Ariel, but for her, for prototype #006 to sate the lust for revenge that had consumed her. Thetis pursued her target without hesitation, leaping through the newly created aperture. Yellow eyes flickered from the bed to the window. It was still raining. It was as if her victory had been predestined. The conditions had been blessed, and Thetis had already been successfully granted the first blow. Darting for the nearest blunt object, #006 tore a brass wall lamp from its fixings before hurling it through the single glazed window. It shattered instantly, and shards of glass hung perilously, as if melting icicles, from the rotting wooden frame. Thetis’ breath caught in her throat as she was hit by the chill of the wind. It was perfect. Droplets of rain seemed to glow eerily as they hung static in the air, a crystalline curtain clinging to the vapour which began to blanket the girl as she faced her opponent. Kerr was by far one of the physically strongest Destrillians, whereas Thetis was one of the weakest. She would need to wear him down before moving in for the kill. Thetis caught a glimpse of Kerr, silent and predatory. It was all she needed; the time to embrace her identity was now. As anger boiled within her like a fever, Thetis directed the droplets of rain towards her foe with the speed and force of a clip of bullets.

.oOo.

The raw Destrillian impulse that every one of the Prototypes felt, the instinctual drive to give themselves over completely to their powers and become one with what they were made to for, was a sensation that Kerr had always kept under control. For as long as he could remember he had been told that over exerting himself too much would take such an impact on his health that he would be unable to function properly in a combat situation. Thus he had spend most of his existence as Prototype #11 fighting off the considerable frustration, a gnawing in the back of his mind, an itch that he wasn’t ever allowed to scratch. But very rarely Kerr Nordstrom found himself in the position where he forgot about this constant battle of wills, and the primal drive to defend himself kicked in.

Faced with the very first proper threat to his life for a very long time, all his desire to keep the use of his powers to the very minimum was forgotten about in the split second that he had to defend himself from the barrage of liquid bullets bearing down on him. He felt his power, his gift, flaring up inside him like a roaring monster.

Whether consciously or subconsciously his influence stretched out around the room, he could feel the forces of gravity in the room. The attraction of everything in the room to everything else, how everything in the room, himself and the woman preparing to murder him this evening, were being pulled downwards towards the very Earth itself. The very principles of the universe, always so infallible and so unchanging were his to command.

Willing the change in the gravitational pull in the room took less than a second, as he reached out to the gravitational field of everything in the room with his mind, simultaneously and then released it from the pull of the Earth, and then directing the pull upwards so that everything would crash towards the ceiling. For a few moments the room descended into absolute chaos as up became down, the bed, coffee table, television and the few other pieces of furniture in the spartanly furnished room crashed to the ceiling. Kerr himself was used to the sickening sensation of being wrenched upward to the point where he was no longer effected by it. Leaning his weight to the side so that he rolled over in the air to land on all fours on the ceiling with an almost feline grace, as the bullets of water tore through the space his body had previously been occupying and punched miniature craters into the wall behind him.

He smirked to himself as he watched his disorientated opponent struggling to right herself on the other side of the room. The advantage was back, and it would stay that way and from now on he assured himself that this battle was going to be fought on his terms.


.oOo.

No sooner than Thetis had begun her assault on Kerr, did she feel a discomforting wave of nausea wash over her stomach. It was a strange sensation, being pulled headfirst into the ceiling; almost as if she had involuntarily attended an ill advised cliff dive of 3 metres. The fall felt as if it were in slow motion. She watched, bewildered, as Kerr turned gracefully in the air. #006 still hadn’t quite grasped what was going on, Kerr had never displayed his powers so blatantly in the combat training room back at Viola. She didn’t have enough time to choreograph landing on her feet, hastily twisting her shoulder in order to save her skull from the inevitably painful landing. Thetis crashed into the ceiling and through a layer of dry with an agonising crunch, gasping in pain as she landed on wooden rafters with her already wounded left arm. The girl barely had seconds to regain her senses as the bed that had landed barely a metre away began to loom menacingly over her. Still dazed and confused, Thetis rolled quickly from the rafters to the side with sluggish urgency as the wooden bed frame smashed on to the very spot she lay in only seconds ago.

Thetis had underestimated him. The dye in her shirt seemed to have bled away in the dust, while the vivid crimson that wept from her wound delivered a stark contrast. It was beginning to ache. Her arm was riddled with splinters and she was utterly disorientated. The room looked even smaller from the ceiling, like a bastard spare room that had been hastily decorated for a single use, then neglected. Thetis staggered to her feet, the fear of slipping back to earth lingering in the back of her mind like a mango hair in the teeth. The streams of water the prototype had created earlier had endured the pole switch, circling lazily a few feet above what used to be the floor. She glanced at the hollow created by the fallen bed. Kerr had shot himself in the foot. Scrambling to get upright, Thetis once more fired the burst jets of water at her enemy, lunging towards the crater and driving her hand into the ceiling cavity. She found them. Almost instantaneously, there were cacophonous bangs as water from pipes all around the room exploded, tearing through the walls like an ironclad punch through paper. Wrenching one of the pipes from hole under the bed, Thetis curled her lips into a wry smile as the torrent burst from its prison, a helix of water clinging to the outline of her body in a winding embrace.

.oOo.

Kerr couldn’t help but relish the fact that he was finally facing a challenge worthy of his supreme power. It had been a long time since he had felt the rush of a life or death struggle. Every battle he had had with the human armed forces or any Destrillian he had faced before had always been nothing more than a textbook exercise of what he was capable of in combat. It had all been so chillingly methodical and dull that he had long since forgotten why it was exactly that he felt like he could call himself one of the most powerful beings on the planet. As the motel room around him seemed to disintegrate around him as the water pressure from the pipes tore apart the ceiling, and the walls shuddered and burst as the torrents of water poured forth from the numerous splits and ruptures caused from the catastrophic damage to the motel’s water lines.

It was a very unsettling sight, he found the time to observe as he nimbly dodged to the side of the first burst of water heading his way, that the water in this room poured upwards to pool on the ceiling and mingle with the settling dust and debris. He focused his eyes, not on his opponent but on the missiles of water that hurtled towards him. A regular soldier might be able to tell his opponent’s next move by staring unflinchingly into their eyes, but Kerr knew differently. He was fighting a creature like himself, one who could command the very forces of nature, and that meant that he’d be able to see her next move with greater accuracy by watching the behaviour of the water that had surrendered itself to her will.

He dived out of the way of the second jet of water, unblinkingly focusing on the situation in front of him. He could tell that his opponent was already acclimating to the upside down gravity. Much faster than expected he thought grudgingly as he rolled forward to avoid a spear of water trying to punch a hole in his flank, only to hear it tear a hole clean through the wall to his side. Unsurprisingly, this latest blow to the room’s structural integrity caused that entire wall to collapse around the hole and the room was suddenly in chaos as think chunks of destroyed piping and the remnants of drywall boards threw themselves upwards and outwards, temporarily covering the room and breaking his line of sight with Thetis.

Now. He thought it like a sharply issued command, and instantly the force of gravity reversed itself once more and Kerr found himself falling back towards the floor, surrounded by the destruction their battle had wrought he found himself. Time was of the essence, it was far too dangerous to conduct this battle in such a confined space surrounded by weapons for his opponent to manipulate. With so much water in the pipes, this battle was being fought on a battlefield that automatically left him on the defensive and that was hardly went hand in hand with the victory he craved so badly.

He hit the floor with much less grace than he would have liked, and then proceeded to go straight through it with even less. The whole motel seemed to be coming apart at the seams, as the whole floor split itself open as the impact of the small flood forming on the ceiling and the weighty furniture crashed down onto it and sent the whole of the room’s contents, draped in the remnants of the floor hurtling down into a ruined pile in the dingy reception area of the motel and sending the hysterical receptionist shouting for the police. Kerr would have most likely been crushed under it all, had he not threw himself through the glass doors with reactions that were far more than human. Not wasting any time opening them first, he felt the glass break under his weight and the cuts and lacerations tear into his exposed skin. He hit the concrete of the parking lot back first, his headache pounding more than ever, but the fight was still far from over. He lay on his back for only a second to catch his breath before rolling forwards into a crouching position, shuddering in pain from the dozen or so cuts on his exposed arms and head, and the dinner plate sized bruise on his chest. Pulling himself to his feet was hard work, now that the adrenalin was draining from his system he was feeling the full force of the punishment his superhuman body had endured.

Terrific, he thought, glaring at the broken doorway, staring in it for any sign of movement from within the depths of the gutted motel. His hand reached into the pocket of his shirt and produced one of the grenades he had tucked away in there earlier. It was the only one that hadn’t been lost when he was blown through his motel wall. Truly a marvel of military technology, so much destructive power in an object no bigger than a pack of gum, much like the Destrillians themselves. So much unbridled power, packed into the frail bodies of man.

He activated the grenade and threw it casually through the shattered glass doors. Taking a deep breath and tensing his body for whatever would come through them in a few seconds time.

Baldy 12/21/2009 08:11 PM

Genevieve – or Idris, now, as for the moment the act had been completely dropped – considered herself to be a few things. Patient, for one; wise, too, and reasonably intelligent considering how long she'd spent down in a basement. Strong and powerful were so obvious that she need not even think them to know they were true. She also figured herself to be considerably kind, and so when she turned to face the man behind her and saw what he was wearing she had to remind herself of this kindness to prevent herself from laughing.
He'd attract more attention than I would even if I crushed another building. The smirk she held flared briefly before dying as a realization came to her: could he be some sort of special force sent out to capture Destrillians? It would make sense – there had been quite enough time for there to be a military response. Perhaps, then, she ought to take him more seriously.
It was this thought that caused her to lift her hands fractionally from her sides, prepared to fight with an instant's notice, and to lower herself into the slightest of crouches—not the fact that he wielded some sort of baton, although if he knew how to use it, she supposed this would also be something to watch.

The man before her lowered his weapon slightly and addressed her with a tone she didn't quite appreciate: "Who are you?"

Idris' eyebrows – already hidden due to her wig – shot up in surprise. If this had been anybody out to get her or her kind, they would have known a Destrillian when they saw one. The threat he posed was therefore minimized drastically—enough for her to drop her stance and just stand there, regarding the strange man who lifted his baton at her with a sly sort of menace.
"Sorry, but these guys didn’t deserve all that; I’m not sure I can let you off easily after your little flashy entrance…”

My flashy entrance? the young woman thought, concealing her chuckle with a shrug. He really has no idea what I am, if that qualifies as flashy. She chose to ignore the "letting you off easy" comment, as she knew how close this man had been to being crushed flat as well. There was no need to brag.
Still, something in the back of her mind warned against too much confidence. She had no idea why as nothing she saw was presenting much of a challenge, what with all the flashy armour and weapons that she could feel the metal inside of—but nonetheless, her guard was up on the inside. The feeling in the back of her mind was eerily familiar and she didn't want to come to some sort of realization at the wrong moment.

And then she saw the Dark Matter roiling around the end of the man's baton and something clicked. She'd been harbouring this feeling all night, why hadn't she recognized it at once?
If she wasn't terribly mistaken, another Destrillian – or something an awful lot like one – was standing before her. A second realization came crashing into the first one and the small woman had an odd double urge, both to pity this man and to laugh at him. Because as dangerous as he could be, the Gunmetal Glint could tell he had no idea just who he was. Just what he was. So he was a Destrillian—fine. He didn't know it.

“But first I want to hear your side of the story." The utterance was a strange one and Idris was glad to have her superhuman hearing to make sure she'd understood correctly. What was she to tell him?
"Oh, I'm a superhuman weapon escapee who can control metal. There are two of my kind just down that way, and I'm protecting 'em from prying eyes."
"The name's Idris and I'm a Destrillian – meaning, I'm a miracle of biotechnology and I could crush you flat in half a second with the iron in your own blood."
"I'm here to keep an eye on the fight just down the road to make sure the military doesn't intervene; you see, those two people who are trying to kill each other happen to be some of the only family I've got an' I don't want them to get dragged back to a basement somewhere because we spent much too long in one of those."
"They could have been a threat to…"

None of the options looked very good, but for some reason Idris felt averse to flat-out lying. She squinted down the road at this would-be Destrillian and, after a good long moment of thought, made a black and white decision.

If he's one of us, he's one of us.
So now she had three targets to take care of. Might as well put them all where she could see them.

"I suppose you could call me Genevieve."
With every sense on alert, just in case he were to take advantage, Idris turned her back on the man and pointed down the road and into the battlefield beyond. The woman spun ninety degrees, sending her white summer dress fluttering. She took two steps back so that she was pointedly out of the man's way; one arm swept towards the chaos in a "go ahead" motion, her head dipped in a rakishly polite inclination, and for the first time tonight, Idris Savage smiled that smile that nobody could ever reproduce.
"Ladies first."

Bex 12/22/2009 03:52 PM

As multiple fissures crept over the ceiling and down the decaying plaster walls, Thetis began to think her actions were a little misguided. Water sprayed forth in jets and mist as the girl watched her opponent frustratingly thread around her attacks while the room began to disintegrate. The hydrostatic pressure released during the pipe explosion had battered the interior structure of the building, and it would be only a matter of time before the motel was destroyed completely. Unfortunately for Thetis, Kerr seemed to have gathered as much himself. Gravity righted itself again, but the prototype had learnt from her past misjudgement. Streams of water trailed behind her as she fell to the floor. The prototype was prepared this time. However, Thetis wasn’t prepared to plummet through the carpet and wooden floor boards. Plaster and polystyrene ceiling tiles showered over the reception lobby as Thetis landed on all fours on the linoleum floor. The girl deftly dodged around the incoming furniture, the coffee table, the bed, the TV, each of which smashed gracelessly around her.

A shuddering groan ripped through reception. The dated architecture was not best suited to a battle ground for beings with inhuman powers. Thetis looked up in absolute disbelief as, like an elderly man after a ten minute walk, the roof of the motel caved in, pieces of debris raining from the room above. She wouldn’t be able to dodge this. With the violence and urgency of a cornered lion, Thetis used the remaining water, forming it into a high pressure jet as she directed it towards the roof, displacing most of the rubble as the sky fell around her. However, her ambitious plan was not without its flaws. A rogue chunk of wooden beam had bypassed her defences and ploughed towards her. The Destrillian could not react without losing her concentration, which would ultimately lead to being crushed under the falling debris. Thetis fell to her knees in pain as the corner of the wood cut into her forehead, gouging out a chunk of skin above her right eye. The girl was dizzy with pain, and as the unplanned demolition of the roof came to a close, she felt a familiar sensation. An oncoming headache, prickling in the back of her mind like a broken splinter. She wiped the blood from her brow, attempting to stifle the flow as it ran down the side of her face.

Kerr had been lucky enough to escape, and the prototype sensed his telepathic signature waiting for her in the parking lot. Thetis staggered to her feet, stumbling over the wreckage towards the door. There was a tinkle of glass, and the girl watched curiously as an alien metal cylinder rolled on the floor. Her yellow eyes widened in terror as the realisation struck, and the Destrillian hurtled towards the door. She dived through the broken glass and threw herself onto the tarmac, rolling forward before twisting her neck to witness the impending destruction. An ear-splitting bang tore through the silence of the night, and as plaster and wood was spat out of the reception, there was a low, ominous rumble. The motel was structurally exhausted, and the grenade in the lobby had been the final straw. Like a falling house of cards, the motel collapsed in on itself, each wall crumbling as the one underneath it gave way. The girl could only watch as the area was consumed by a ballooning dust cloud, blanketing both her and her opponent in darkness. For the first time in the evening, Thetis was nervous. Kerr’s speciality was assassination. He could come from anywhere, and without a second’s notice, prototype #006 would be dead on the floor. Getting to her feet, Thetis broke the silence, shouting defiantly into the dust.

“What happens after you kill me? You’ll just go on killing the others?”

#006 ground her teeth in anger. She shouted again, her foot knocking into a fire hydrant as she took a step back.

“Don’t you have any pride?”

The enemy was still standing in front of her, she could sense him. Without hesitation, ignoring the encroaching migraine, Thetis gathered her focus. The fire hydrant shivered and moaned, before the metal cap punched through the air like a cannon ball. The torrent of water shot forth from the metal pipe with the intensity of an exploding geyser, and Thetis could only hope for success as the tip of the stream disappeared into the darkness.

Alessa Gillespie 12/23/2009 12:30 AM

Tabitha Sudonim/Terra Michaels had never ingested such a thing as what the stranger was feeding her. She had been kidnapped before; however, which started the whole mess with the Destrillians in the first place, but somehow this didn’t feel all that similar. She did know for certain that this person was not Emma, nor was she really sure she had any idea who this person was. Unfortunately, she realized that she had been rather badly hurt when she had gotten trampled, and the blood loss was making her feel tired, and even though she was being carried off to who knew where, she eventually succumbed to her sleepiness and collapsed onto this stranger’s back.

Her sleep was dreamless, which was quite odd for as of late. But when she woke up, she realized she was near a quite demolished hotel that she absolutely could not recognize. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she was terrified that whatever had destroyed this place was going to kill her as well. She wanted Emma to be there to tell her no one would hurt her, but in her current state, she was flailing around and feeling quite terrified. Clearly, it was another Destrillian who had caused such a huge dent in the middle of the earth, and it seemed like this was the work of the one who was capable of manipulating gravity. She was lucky enough to have never met him, but she had heard tales of him hunting down other members of their group and slaughtering them like pigs. If she could express her fears in any way besides her body language and terrified groans, she tried.

Person kilt uthrs lyke mi don’t let hm kll mi 2.

As quietly as she could send a signal, she sent out the idea to this person on the motorcycle who had saved her. She couldn’t say whether or not he’d be able to hear her, but damn if she wasn’t scared enough to try. Furthermore, she needed a new split (or two, judging by how mangled her right leg was looking) if she even wanted to attempt to walk home to safety. Though she sincerely doubted that this stranger would realize what sort of condition she had been in since she had escaped from the facility however long ago it was. The only person who was willing to take care of her in such a state was already far, far away now. What she wouldn’t have given for a new piece of wood right now so she could make her way back home. Why couldn’t people who wanted to kidnap her ever take her somewhere nice, like home or a home full of puppies and free food? That would have been a nice change instead of driving her to her own death!

Can u taek mi hom? I du naw wan to dye.

She pleaded with her captor, the one with the strange mask that reminded her of insects which reminded her of the facility, which reminded her that she just wanted to cry right now and run away while she still had time. The best she could hope for would be attempting to drag herself away while the killer was trying to brutalize the other person (possibly flatten his eyeballs and slowly remove his entrails and crush them but not before every bone in the other guy’s body was broken and oh god if she didn’t leave soon he was going to do the same to her and crush her soul down to the very base elements it was made of), which made her want to start sobbing even though her mouth didn’t work. So now on the back of this man’s bike was a very upset brown-haired girl, sobbing like a wounded animal, wishing that somehow Emma could still show up and take her back home. Goddamn that gravity freak! Goddamn this person who took her from this street! Why the hell did she have to fall anyways, she just wanted to live and die like a normal person. Was that honestly too much to ask?

She shook her head and continued to cry, wiping her eyes as she continued. If there was one thing she could have before death, it was a good sob, and she was ringing this one for all she had.

NoenGaruth 12/24/2009 12:22 PM

Oh what now!?” Kijo exclaimed out loud to herself. This talking to herself was seeming to become more frequent these days, however that wasn't her concern now – the general alarm in the base was sounding. Standing up from her chair she hastily made her way to the door, grabbing her overcoat on the way out and throwing it over her shoulders as she hurried down the corridor towards the operations center.

Why do I get the feeling this will be the worse part...

And her suspicions were confirmed when she entered the room only to be confronted by a scene of chaos and panic. As the most senior officer now present in the room Kijo knew it was her duty to get everyone in order.

“AT ATTENTION EVERYONE!” She yelled in the most strict of tones at the room full of panicked army personnel. As her words echoed past their heads they all instantly stopped and all focus was on the Major. Having gained their undivided attention she now spoke up in a serious but more calmer voice.

Now then, someone give me a status report, just what exactly is all this commotion about?”

One of the officers standing over the large digital map of the city spoke up in reply. “Ma'am. We're receiving multiple calls to emergency services from an area in western side of the orange zone. Apparently a motel in the district has been decimated by unknown means and we have reports of numerous civilian casualties residing in the premises.”

Kijo paused for a moment, processing what had just been told to her. This kind of havoc just feels too much like that incident at the hospital, and if so they might just have a chance at taking out the one responsible. She then looked to the comm officer standing near her and asked “Where is Commander Farant?” The man hastily replied “He's at city hall, was in meeting with the vice chancellor when this all broke out.”

Understood, get him on the phone right away....” Kijo remembered what Lywn, her adopted mother, had told her about being more polite and friendly then added a very flat “...please.” The man acknowledged her then hurried over to a phone on a nearby desk.

Turning back to the sea of faces gazing in her direction she made another announcement. “Do we have any visuals on the area in question?”

No ma'am. As of now we're only going off local reconnaissance from police units, however even they are keeping their distance so details are sketchy on what exactly is going on down there.” Replied a female lieutenant sitting at one of the terminals, she then added. “However we've ordered a UAV to be dispatched to survey the scene, it should have just taken off moments ago.”

Kijo was impressed by the preparedness of her subordinates, of course they were still all very anxious considering what happened during that last incident.

Good planning, also have the gunships on standby, if we get the green light they can respond the fastest and the more time we take the more casualties the civilian population will incur.” Kijo knew that if this was anything like the hospital then anyone in the general vicinity is at risk. Her attention was then grabbed by the comm officer speaking up. “Ma'am I've got Commander Farant on the line.” And with that Kijo hurried over and took the phone from the man, giving him a nod of approval then bringing the handset up to her ear.

Sir, Major Matsuya reporting.”

Major, it would seem this city is never able to rest.” responded her CO. Farant was a lot more friendly in his tone than Kijo, and despite his high rank and hardened demeanor was a very approachable person. Lywn often told her that she should strive be more like her commander.

So it appears sir, what is the governments stance on this situation?”

Well for one they aren't going to be made fools of again. As you know I was in meeting with the Vice Chancellor when this hit and he pretty much got on the phone with Chancellor Gerald right away. Seems they're taking a no tolerance policy and authorizing us to end this by any means necessary, and since I'm of no use sitting here in my car you've got command. So here's your orders Major, ascertain first who or what is causing these atrocities then deal with it as you see fit, but above all, the higher ups want an end to this as quickly as possible. That is all, good luck.”

Yes sir! thank you sir!” Kijo hastily replied then hung up the handset and spun around to face her staff once again.

Alright everyone, the commander has placed me in charge of this operation. Now what is the status of the UAV?” And immediately that same female lieutenant....Jelanda was her name it seems, replied. “It's just arrived on scene, we should have a visual uplink....right about........now.” And with those words the main observation screen in the center of the room's back wall lit up, showing an image of something that probably once looked like a motel with water rupturing from just about every pipe and service line adjacent to it. However due to the altitude the UAV operated at they couldn't see any people with plain video feed so Kijo called for a change. “Alright we can see the mess, now where is the cause? Switch to thermal imaging”. Then all of a sudden the screen went to a bright white and grey as the thermal adjusted, then most of the screen went darker as buildings turned a near black colour. Scanning the image for a moment Kijo then spotted something. “There! At 20 degrees east, zoom in.” She ordered. The picture focused on her specified area and they could see two small white blobs amonsgt the wreckage, both moving and from Kijo's judgement, trying to kill one another. However, what she saw next she was unable to explain.

Uhh ma'am, what is that there on the left?” The UAV operator asked her.

Kijo fixed her eyes on the spot but was utterly baffled herself, however after a few seconds of observing the anomaly she thought she saw what was....

...Water?” She spoke in a confused tone out loud. She was then echoed by Lieutenant Jelanda. “Actually Major, it does look like streams of water....but how can they be moving in controlled patterns like that?” Kijo raiser her arms and shook her head not knowing how to respond. Jelanda then also added “Honestly, to me it looks like the water streams are assaulting one of the two targets.....” Then paused at the next sight and commented in a puzzled voice “...ok and now the water streams are moving about in the air? What the hell is this Ma'am?”

Kijo was at a loss here, but as commanding officer had to speak up “I have no idea what is going on.... however I do not like the look of this one bit, first a motel explodes without any fire involved and now this. Whatever is happening we are going to put a stop to this.”

Major Matsuya turned away from the screen, then, pushing her glasses up her nose called out her orders.

Alright everyone, give orders to deploy the VTOL gunships immediately, they are to head to the target sight and give a first hand visual on the situation, we will then go from there. Next, I want four squads of infantry loaded up in IFV's and rolling out when ready, also prep the 4th Tank division and have them move out also to back up the troops.” And if that wasn't enough Kijo threw another on top “Actually send a couple of K750 MLRS' with the tank battalion and have then standby at Coriander Park, it is a good vantage point of the motel area, also call ahead to local police and have the park cordoned off.”

Is that all Major? Should we call the Navy and have a Tactical Nuke on standby also?” Came the voice of Lieutenant Marshall from behind her, she then turned to face him. “Now is not the time for being cute with me Lieutenant. This might seem like overkill but I want all bases covered so there no simply zero chance of failure, we cannot have another massacre on our hands.” The lieutenant then quickly apologized “Sorry Ma'am, and what will you be doing now the orders are out?”

I am going out there, the best commander is always on field to personally organize her forces”

_______________________________________________________________

Soaring over the southern freeway and moving into the Orange Zone, three military AG-12 Vertical Takeoff and Landing gunships were nearly in visual range of the target area. The lead VTOL's pilot then called over the radio to his wingmates.

Alright gents, we're almost at our target now, the orders are to first get a visual of the two individuals Major Matsuya described from UAV footage. Now since you can see jack all on the thermal imaging all she could tell us was that they are currently engaged in battle with one another and apparently one is being attacked by what the Major could only describe as 'streams of water shooting through the air'. That may sound like a bunch of bollocks but this is the Major we're talking about so I for one is going to take her seriously. Now remember, once we arrive I'll take lead and move in to get a clear shot of the individuals for the Major while Delta 2 and 3 circle the area and watch for anything hostile. Ok lets do this lads!”

________________________________________________________________


Sitting in the back of the transport VTOL, Kijo watched out the window waiting for the vehicle to arrive at their destination – which was the roof of the Micardis Hotel, a location which was a safe distance from the hazard zone but had perfect view of the whole area. Kijo had chosen this spot for her field command post, and of course the Hotel management gave full permission for the army to use their building after she mentioned to them on the phone that there was a potential repeat of the Saint Raphael Medical Centre incident unfolding. Fear was probably the only thing that kept the general public from complaining until they were blue in the mouth. But what was really the primary thing going on in her head was how to deal with this situation when she got there, things were just too bizarre.

This is no run of the mill terrorist or rebel attack, it is just wanton destruction by unknown entities, ones that from the looks of it can manipulate an element such as water, but how- a realization came into Kijo's mind, a very disturbing one at that.

4 Years ago....the incident from that company.....did not the report say something about keeping watch for unusual behavior in the environment around the targets.... However she didn't have time to dwell on this though as the VTOL touched down on the roof of the building. She then stood up from her seat and made her way off the vehicle with the rest of her personnel.

Everyone get setup, I want full uplink to the military network in the next 5 minutes, the Infantry and Armor wont be far now, and from the looks of it the gunships are just arriving on scene, we WILL put an end to this so I want to be fully capable of communicating with the ground forces.”

As she finished issuing her orders a man emerged from the VTOL carrying a sniper rifle. Kijo turned to face him. “Captain, you can setup over by the railing, you should have a good vantage point from there”. The man nodded as he walked passed her, the sniper was just another backup, and also a quick easy solution rather than letting the tanks blow away half a block in crossfire, but that's only if they're given the opportunity to get a clear shot.

Of course there was another thing the Major had to know first, who exactly were these two people fighting at the motel. And soon her question would be answered....to some degree. The crew had setup their equipment and ready to go. Jelanda called over to the Major. “Ma'am we've got Gunship Delta-1 on the line now, he says he's in visual range.” Kijo then ran over to the setup and grabbed a spare headset. “Delta-1 this is Major Matsuya, what do you see?”

A reply came over the radio. “Two individuals currently in the parking lot of the former motel Ma'am, from the looks of it they are still fighting one another, also a lot of debris flying around.”

I see, can you ID them?”

One moment, we're just focusing now.......there are you receiving that?”

An image came up of on the screen in front of the Major, showing two individuals, one male and one female, both of their faces could be seen side on due to the angle the gunship was at, although the female's face was a bit more visible. This is exactly what Kijo was after.

That will do nicely Delta-1, Matsuya out." She then faced Jelanda "Lieutenant, run these against the database and see who they are.”

Jelanda began running a series of programs on her laptop, which searched through the records of all citizens of Osea on file, however after a minute the search finished with no matches.

Nothing ma'am, whoever these two are they're not on record.”

Dammit.” Kijo replied, tho to be honest that would have been too easy, there are just so many residents of the Orange Zone that the government doesn't have in their database, and then there's also the likelihood these two are from another nation outside of Artolian control. It was then that the thought from earlier came back to her.

Could it really be? No it just is not possible....however it is worth a try

She leaned over to Jelander and quietly spoke to her “Lieutenant, could you bring up the files concerning the Viola Incident from 4 years ago?” The young girl looked at her superior with puzzlement. “Ma'am, if you don't mine me asking, why are you bringing something ancient like that at a time like this?” Jelanda's inquiry made Kijo look her directly in the eyes. She then placed one of her hands on the lieutenant's should and calmly said “Just do it....please. It is just a feeling I've been having but I need to be absolutely certain.” Jelanda exchanged glances with her for a moment then replied with a simple “Yes ma'am.” before turning back to her computer and accessing the files Kijo requested. After searching for a couple of minutes Jelanda just stopped, her head tilted down and her hands just froze sitting on the keyboard. Without moving she bluntly said. “Ma'am....it found 1 match.” Kijo's heart sank at those words, then moved over to the screen and glanced at the display on the monitor.

-1ST SUBJECT – MALE, UNABLE TO PROVIDE A POSITIVE MATCH DUE TO INSUFFICIENT IMAGERY.

-2ND SUBJECT – FEMALE, POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION FOUND. TARGET DESIGNATION DESTRILLIAN #006. NAME AND FURTHER DETAILS CLASSIFIED TO LEVEL 7 CLEARANCE.

-WARNING. TARGET IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. AN EXECUTIVE ORDER BY CHANCELLOR GERALD STATES THAT THIS PERSON IS TO BE TERMINATED BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

Destrillian....so it is them...the ones from back then...and its a safe bet the male is also one of them, otherwise he would be dead by now.......alright I know what I have to do then...

She stepped back from the monitor, and just as she was about to speak up a very large disturbance interrupted her. Out of the blue one of the buildings near the target zone began to rupture and suddenly part of it was torn off and fell down onto the street. This caught everyone off guard since it wasn't right where the two targets were fighting. Immediately Kijo was on the radio again.

What the hell was that? Delta 2 and 3, can you see anything?” There was a short pause before she got an answer. “This is Delta-3, we can't see what caused the building to break apart, although from here it looks like we have multiple casualties, aside from that there's too much smoke and dust to see anything else.”

Roger that Delta-3, standby”. Things had already gone to hell, and now it looked like there might be another one of these...Destrillian things in the area. She was getting really tired of this, so now was the time to act.

Attention all units, for the moment the MLRS will stay on standby until further notice. As for all remaining ground and air units, you are to engage the targets at the motel on sight, deadly force is permitted.” She then walked over to the edge of the roof and looked out over the chaos that was ensuing.

Not this time Destrillians, not on my watch.

Alex 12/24/2009 10:22 PM

Kerr barely had time to process everything that happened in the five minute space in between throwing the grenade into the gutted shell of the motel and suddenly waking up face down on the floor. His memory was a complete kaleidoscope of unidentifiable colours and shapes, clouding over his vision and making a complete mockery of his senses. The first of which that came back to him was a splitting headache, the whole right side of his head felt simultaneously numb and madly in pain. Next, he gained some orientation, he knew where he was and that was face down on the tarmac floor of the parking lot. He felt the deep gash on the side of his head and the disarming comfort of the thick rivulets of blood that had streamed down his face. The pain was almost overwhelming, and if it wasn’t for his superhuman reflexes then he was certain that being blindsided by the super-powered fire hydrant would have torn his head clean from his shoulders. Kerr remembered the sudden appearance of a deep flash of red and flinging himself to the side. Anything more than a glancing blow would have killed him, and the wound itself would probably have proven fatal to a lesser mortal.

The Destrillian pulled himself to his feet, drawing strength from his rage with every rasping breath. His muscles ached, and for all the cunning plans he as capable of producing ahead of time, his strategic mind seemed to be fighting a losing battle against the overpowering evidence that he wasn’t fighting a losing battle. He was fighting a stalemate. Against an equal.

The very thought made him wretch. But that could just be a side effect of a fire hydrant to the head.

“Don’t you have any pride?”
the words floated back to him through the darkness. The last words his sneering, troublesome, unkillable opponent had taunted him with.

He narrowed his pitch black eyes with pure malevolence at his fellow Destrillian standing amongst the rubble, her own dirty clothes and torn, bloody skin a reflection of his own. Every thought and instinct in his body was urging him to draw blood, to go in for the kill as the blood already began dry and crust the injured side of his face into a grotesque crimson mask.

“Who are you, with your normal job and your false name, to speak of pride!?”
he roared back at Thetis over the sound of the final wall of the hotel behind them collapsing into rubble. The final domino to drop in this long chain, and it was only then that he realised what other sense was beginning to stir. He felt them, many of them, at least two or three. Other Destrillians moving towards their location, very literally like moths to an open flame. But no psychic power would have been able to provide him with enough information to prepare him for what happened next.

“So you two are the cause of all this mess eh?”

It was so unexpected that Kerr ripped his concentration away from the battle and turned towards the most bizarre sight he reckoned that he had ever seen. It was unquestionably a Destrillian, that much he could tell straight away. But it’s strange patronising voice and even stranger outfit would have been jaw-dropping to any regular person.

“The insurance company for the motel sure as hell won’t believe what the hell just happened...”

Kerr frowned and tilted his head to the side, trying to work out exactly what this outfit reminded him of. Maybe the bastard child of a circus clown and a medieval knight? That seemed to be the only apt way to describe this...thing that was in front of him.

“Just what the hell is going on here?”

He saw the baton drawn and the dark energy flowing out of it like a fountain and he came crashing back to reality from this brief but ever so slightly surreal detour, and the anger swelled up inside him. A frustration so tangible that he felt like it was a living, breathing creature rearing up inside his chest. He would murder the woman, and then crush this fool inside his insane armour.

Before the stream of hateful speech could escape his lips his attention snapped upwards towards the familiar sound of the engines from military aircraft growing louder and louder, and unless he was mistaken, his keen ears also detected the slow, grinding rumble of tank treads bearing down on this damned parking lot. Now this was fairly typical, he thought to himself, it wasn’t the first time the armed forces and military police had been called out to ‘deal’ with him and the sprawling trail of chaos and slaughter that followed in his wake. But gunships and tanks? At least this was a fresh change to the established formula. A true day of firsts, but the one his weary mind kept coming back was that this was the first time that he had ever failed to win a battle. Failed.

His scream of rage was lost as a shell from the first tank to have rounded the street corner opened fire immediately. The bomb detonated in the parking lot and gouged a crater into the space separating the three opposing Destrillians, and Kerr felt the strength of the blast knock him back and he felt himself genuinely forcing his body to remain on its feet.

The VTOL gunships were nearly upon them, one was already circling the battlefield from up above. Undoubtedly the command centre, focusing on reconnaissance and preparing the rest of the incoming horde of human scum and filth for what to expect in the coming few minutes before all hell would erupt.

He felt something snap deep inside him, he would not be cheated out of his victory today by the petty interventions of these delicate human specimens. The weariness that was dogging at his mind for relying so heavily on his power was overpowered so suddenly that he was nearly taken aback by the titanic surge of power that flowed through every vein in his body. The yearning that came within every Destrillian, the urge to totally give in to their powers overcame every sense, every rational methodology that he had relied on so solidly for so long was abandoned in one single moment as they became little more than food for the unforgiving monster within him. The Destrillian unleashed.

“Die” he hissed at this new arrival in his brightly coloured armour, and within moments he felt the gravitational force of the tank that had fired upon them increase so many times over that the armour at the front, and the nib of the turret began to buckle as it gave way to the unrelenting pressure. He focused next on the armoured Destrillian and felt him fall under the influence of the gravitational pull and watched with venomous satisfaction as he was torn of his feet and pulled with such speed towards the tank that he kicked up a trail of dust from the ground and hit the side of the tank with such force that the tank folded like cardboard around his figure and was thrown onto its side and crashed into the glass panelled windows of the building opposite.

The feelings of hatred subsided and gave ground to the thousands of stabbing needles inside his mind as his legs turned to jelly and threatened to collapse out from under him. A pain unlike anything he had ever experienced before, the Destrillian powers within him felt tortured and exhausted. But never had he been in a position where they were so important and so very key to his survival. Fresh blood began to leak from both nostrils, as the exhaustion he felt from the use of his abilities began to physically manifest. The worst part was that he knew that despite the finite nature of his abilities, that the end of this ordeal was nowhere near in sight. The armed forces were only just beginning to deploy en masse and the realization dawned on him that he wouldn’t be able to continue this gladiatorial death match against the woman in front of him. That there was a threat now against both of their lives, their current conflict would have to wait.

Three more gunships swept into view like vast predatory birds from the city’s skyline.

His coal black eyes locked with her vividly seething amber ones as another poorly aimed tank shell burst on the far side of the parking lot. An unspoken agreement forming between the two bitter rivals, one that didn’t even their psychic powers didn’t need to broadcast to one another. Their instincts, their years of training as weapons coming to the surface after so many years lying dormant, deep down they were the same. Created in the same facility, trained in the same room and in the same manner, it came down to something very primal and very simple that both understood. They were the same, and the enemy was different and overwhelming. There was a very clear distinction, and subconsciously they were both aware of it.

Then the gunfire started.

Hisako 12/24/2009 10:53 PM

“NuMber fIvE at kAppA prIO-”

The knife was smoothly pulled out from its sheath and thrown in a flat arc in one single hand gesture, cutting through the air with nothing more than a quiet whistle and a quiet thunk as it found its mark in a thug’s forehead. A strangled cry punctuated the computer’s announcement short and it skipped a beat.

“NuMber sIx at zEta prIOritY.”

She almost looked up as she unholstered her ten-millimeter, picking up the sound of footsteps spawning fifty meters away. They were picking up the pace a little faster than she liked, although she had already programmed it to do so.

She was just wondering if she’d used the right numbers.

“NuMber sEv NuMber Eight at zEta prIOritY."

Two shots to the chest, one to the head. It was a perfect kill, she noted to herself (and somewhat proudly) as she was aiming to figure it out at some point this week.

Number eight and number nine burst in through the side windows of the hotel room, and she made a mental note to herself as she emptied the rest of her handgun into the two mercenaries that they were being spawned in ridiculous places. She twisted the top half of her body around by reflex in time to avoid a desperate last shot from one of the gunmen on the ground, answering with a short dash towards his bleeding figure, and kicking him through the wall with the instep of her flats just to see him plummet ten stories below.

She let loose a bit of a giggle, and threw away the lump of bubble gum she had been chewing over the edge of the hole she had made in the wall –

“NuMber nIne at EpSIl NuMber Ten at EpSIloN prIOritY."

Two canisters rolled in from the main doorway of the room, spitting out dense, yellow smoke several meters away that she instantly recognized to be lethal. She took a deep breath and with her bare shoulder, ran through the wall, grabbing one of the commandos who took the full force of the drywall and gave her a solid punch to the face, followed up by breaking her grip on his collar and elbowing her to the solar plexus, which she shrugged off as a minor nuisance.

After a moment of grunting, she sidestepped a stab with a knife that the commando had hidden in his sleeve, and tackling him from under the shoulder, she bodily lifted him off the floor and off the balcony into the atrium two floors below, landing positioned on top of his chest which killed him instantly and sounded like a watermelon being smashed into the ground. The other followed, jumping down with relative ease and diving towards an upturned table, sending a spray of bullets from his rifle.

In that moment, she shifted the weight of her feet, and the floor crumbled under the force of the blade of her foot as she took off in a short sprint.

The table the commando was hiding behind splintered into pieces as her forearm reached out and extended itself from its socket, with another foot of reach. She grabbed him by the back of his face, and threw him face-first into the floor, not even giving a second glance at the pulverized mess she was making.

“NuMber eLEveN at dEltA prIOrity.”

What? “End simulation.” She straightened up, pulling a strap off her underclothes back onto her shoulder, and untied her labcoat from around her waist, noting that after a month it had gathered enough dirt and grime to scrape off with her fingernails. Sticking her tongue out from one side of her mouth, she did up the buttons of her sleeves and shrugged the labcoat back on as the world around her dematerialized into the real world.

“SImulAtion ExiT. dEnAnn inDUStriAls, cYbernEticS And GeNEticS rEseARch diVIsion, PROjecT ManaGEr, TuAthA II zEtA prIOrity, SeCURity and WEaPons diVIsion, QuARtermAster LieUtEnanT GEnerAl, VerOniCA NAblA WIlkInS. TEchnicAl rAting, nIne-Ty nIne POint nIne fIve PErcENt. nEW hIgh scOre. WoUld yoU lIke to -”

“Nah, point-oh-three isn’t going to change jack-shit. Maybe after I finish the Delta Priority level, then we’ll talk about high scores.” Veronica Wilkins reached back and uncoupled the cable needle from her spinal column, ignoring the sickly wave of nausea that washed over her senses as she sat up from the chair. “Gum.”

“YOur Gum, MAdam.” Several cubes of brightly wrapped, pink, yellow and blue bubble gum popped out from a hidden panel in the wall that slid out as she walked towards the exit. She squealed in delight as she picked out a blue piece wrapped in pictures of teddy bears, putting the rest in her pocket like an unscrupulous child thief as she unwrapped it and bit into it, sighing in happiness as tastes of blueberry flooded her mind.

She decided it would be her favorite flavour for the next few days. Last week the strawberry ones with butterflies were particularly appealing, but for some reason there seemed to be much less of those these days.

She would have to look into it.

She sat down in her office, spending a few minutes in her leather armchair which was just at the right height for her to put her feet up on the desk. The restrictions of her dress aside, she wriggled her toes and closed her eyes in contentment, only to be disturbed by the mechanical chime of her monotone computer.

“A VisiTor, MAdam. SeCURity and WEaPons diVIsion, QuARtermAster GEnerAl, EmAnuEL CArsON.”
Veronica sighed, pouting a bit and taking her feet off her desk. The boring Quartermaster General, probably with another lecture prepared on how the company wasn’t progressing fast enough.

Total nonsense, of course. Veronica’s career was far greater than Carson’s own, although with the sort of company history Denann Industrials had she was certain that he had no idea. If she wanted, she could kill all her superiors with the flick of a wrist and take the top seat, but only if she was really bored.

And the work entitlements she got in her rank was just too interesting for her right now.

The door slid open silently and Emanuel Carson quickly barged through it as if there was something blocking his way. “Wilkins! What in hell have you done these past few days?”

Veronica leant back in her chair and let fly a sweet, sly, cat-like smile at the fuming Quartermaster General, pale white cheeks dimpling just enough for any lesser beings to be lulled into a false sense of security.

“Nothing the enemy knows about yet.”
“The enemy? Shit, Lieutenant General, do you even know who they are?”

“I know enough to know that they can be killed. When the time is right, sir, I will -”

“The time is now, maggot! Your R&D minions have already filled me in on what we’ve been after all this time. What the hell were you thinking, hiding it from me? And stop giggling, this isn’t funny!”

Veronica stopped, but her bottom lip was twitching as Emanuel carried on, bringing down his fifty-year-old fire and brimstone on her.
“… and when you actually get around to hunting down those goddamn mistakes that you made, Wilkins, we’re going to turn this shitting company around three-sixty and put it back on top of the market!”

Veronica choked out a snort of giggling –
“SHUT UP, WILKINS -”
“Sorry sir. It’s just that three-sixty is, like -”

“That is not the point, Lieutenant General! I want a detailed report on the success of this priority directive by the end of this month, on my desk! Or would you rather us cut down on some of your… privileges?”

Oh no you did NOT. They both knew that Veronica’s bubblegum was the only leverage Emanuel really held on her actions, and in that instant the stainless-steel pen she was twirling in her fingers snapped in two and her eyes would have fired laser beams if she had so desired.

“… I will consider it.”
“Make sure you do.” The General threw a disgusted look at Veronica, turned around, and stomped out of her office, fast enough to run into the door before it opened. “And get your damned computer fixed!”

She stuck her tongue out at him as the door closed behind him. Carson was getting on her nerves, and it wasn’t only because of his empty threats. As lead of the Security and Weapons Division, he was a major owner of Denann, which put Veronica one step below ownership and therefore he was the only one who could potentially ruin her career. Plus, she knew Emanuel was the closest thing to a loose cannon besides her.

“A VisiTor, MAdam. cYbernEticS And GeNEticS rEseARch diVIsion, PROjecT lEaD, BEnjaMiN aSHForD.”

“A face to brighten my day!” She beamed, and took a stick of orange bubblegum out of her pocket. “My favorite Project Lead. Let him in.”

As soon as he walked through the door, Benjamin Ashford was struck in the forehead by a small orange square of bubblegum while Veronica was doubled up laughing. He stumbled back a little before regaining his composure.

“Uh, hey Nica. Ma’am. Director.”
“Oh stop with the friggin’ formalities already, Benjie!” She waved him over to sit down, and put her feet up on the desk again, wriggling her toes the same way she had done earlier before. “It’s one of those really boring days again, and you’re a good familiar face. So, what’s up? Finished the R&D for the day?”

“Yeah, we just cleared out shop. You want your bubblegum back?”
Veronica laughed as she declined. “S’not mine anymore. Eat it! It’s your favorite flavour, so I heard.”

“So it is.” Benjamin grinned the grin of a winner as he unwrapped it and put it in his mouth, leaning back and blowing a bubble in the extra minute of silence it granted. “Y’know, I was wondering why you put in that ‘favorite gum flavour’ category on the R&D employee profiles. Now we know.”

“Now you know, yep.” Veronica took her feet off the desk and spun her chair around so she could put them on the windowsill. “We’re on the point of no return, Benjie. Carson’s after my ass, Tuatha projects still causing shit here and there, and you know about Viola’s crazy project?”

“You mean the project crazier than ours?”

“Yeah. Turns out that some of them made a jailbreak. Some of them made it, some of them didn’t. Some of them disappeared off the face of the planet. Others, well… we have our hunches.”

Veronica stared off into the setting sunlight as Benjamin narrowed his eyes in inquisition, pulling at a loose thread off the cuff of his labcoat.

“Usually when we’re talking hunches you know something the rest of us don’t, Nica.”

Veronica smiled. “One of your smart days today, eh? I guess I can fill you in on a little secret of mine. Don’t tell anyone, ‘kay?”

“My lips are zipped.”
“Pinky promise.”
“Oh goddamnit.”

After a moment of childish glee on Veronica’s part, she licked her lips as she leaned towards him conspiratorially. “I talk to some of them.”
“You what?”

“Well, not to all of them. Most of them I just listen. The ones I talk to feel like they’re familiar, somehow. I’m a bit careful about calling it telepathy, but it comes pretty close. And one of them I talk to a lot.” She bit her bottom lip, looking around. “But somehow she can block me out sometimes, Like, make herself invisible. I usually do this sort of thing during sleepytime, so most of the people I talk to then are usually asleep too, easier to whisper to. But… some fo them feel disembodied, like, not here, but still around, lurking in physical form from one form to another.”

Veronica took the time to breathe, and beamed, slightly flushed. “So, what do you think about this?”

Benjamin frowned, and chewed his gum thoughtfully. “I think,” he started, before blowing a bubble that almost touched Veronica’s nose. “I think you’re the craziest girl I’ve ever known.”

“That’s my baby Benjie!” She laughed, and before he could react to anything put him under a headlock and a noogie before pushing him back into his seat. “Aaaanyway, you didn’t come here for gum, noogies and crazy chicks -”

“Well, the last one, maybe -”

“Yeah, maybe – but anyway, was there something you needed me to know?”

“Uh, yes, in fact. I heard a bit of Carson’s rant.”
“Oh, don’t we all. Go on.”

“He’s planted an observer in our midst. Well, I’d say a mole but that makes us sound illegal. Marcus Forrest. He got put in as ‘Project Liaison’, some bullshit title that just means he gets to see everything that comes to you.”

“Cheeky.” Veronica wrinkled her nose at the manila folder containing Forrest’s profile, a small, middle-aged man with glasses who could have been a gun-toting maniac and no-one would have noticed.

Trouble with a capital T. “Have we done anything about this?”

“Already dealt with. Sent him to the sewers to scout out stuff. Never came back. We did, however, find this…” He slid a tape across Veronica’s desk. “… in our black-box records. Goes completely garbled after a while, but from what we did catch in the recordings, we can assume they’re all dead by now. The tracking devices on their gear have been destroyed, so they ran into someone who knows the way we work. But the main point is that Forrest isn’t going to snitch for Security and Weapons anymore.”

“Well, he’ll put another one in his place, but by then we’ll find a way around it. Nice work, Benjie.” Veronica frowned in concentration, blowing a bubble larger than Benjamin’s opposite her. “As for the tape, I’ll look into it later.”

NoenGaruth 12/26/2009 09:25 AM

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WAS THAT?!" Lieutenant Marshall shouted as he pulled off his headset and stood up from his computer, looking out to the motel area, hardy able to believe what he had just seen on the screen. Kijo was already gazing out in the same direction, clearly she had underestimated the targets and the crew of Tank R-27 had paid the price for it, therefore tactics would have to adjust to suit the new developments as she didn't wish to have anymore lives on her conscience today.

"The battle has just started and already we are suffering losses..." Kijo spoke in a soft flat tone, she then turned to her subordinates "Have the tanks back up a couple of hundred meters down the road and continue firing from there, it is clear we will only lose more if they engage at such close proximity, also inform them to concentrate their fire, increased blasts mean increased splash damage and they will not even need a direct hit to take out the targets." And just as she finished talking Jelanda had more bad news to report.

"Ma'am we've got an updated picture from the UAV's thermal imaging. Two more unidentified individuals have appeared at the motel parking lot - one apparently was thrown at the tank. Also we're picking up some kind of armored vehicle with three occupants, however we're unable to get a clearer view as the VTOL's are currently engaging the targets."

"Two more?! And now they have some kind of vehicle?"
Kijo responded with surprise, it looks like they're better equipped than she thought, and there were more of them. This was a big problem, since so far she knew one was capable of controlling water and from the way that tank was taken out another probably had some kind of telekinetic or gravitational power....but these newcomers could anything. So for now all she could do is wait and watch for them to reveal their abilities so she could come up with appropriate countermeasure.

"Alright, it would seem that we have more targets to deal with then, have all infantry squads close in at once, however make sure they do not get too close, since we still lack a complete idea of what we are dealing with right now."

Well, I have made my move destrillians, your turn

Bex 01/02/2010 11:27 PM

It had arrived. The pounding, throbbing beat of pain that pulsed through Thetis’ head with the effect of a sledgehammer on piano keys. It was an endless ringing in her ears, a crescendo she couldn’t silence that would get louder and louder until she drowned in the agony of her own weakness. Thetis loathed the migraines. However, this hatred was not merely because of the pain, but because it marked a Destrillian’s limit. Such a limit had been imposed by human ineptitude, their stupidity had obstructed them from creating the perfect being. To be limited was to possess a flaw that was strictly human, and Thetis could not bear to consider herself one of that blighted race. Just thinking about how much she had depended on Viola for routine, discipline, Distrum - the very thought made Thetis sick to the stomach. Perhaps it was better that they could only rely on themselves to survive, rather than surrendering to the illusory treatment of Viola.

Spray from the fire hydrant had been whipped up by a draft of wind, ascending like a spiral of stars through a curtain of dust. A low rumble had eased itself into the silence that followed her attack on #011. Kerr was still alive, though his presence had wavered for but a split second. She had survived the blizzard of plaster and glass shrapnel, but even she doubted her chances of outlasting Kerr. It was this train of thought that made her weak, human. If she died by his hand, Viola would have won, and it would only be a matter of time. There it was again, the sentence imposed by the hands on the clock face, the sand in the hourglass. How much time did she have left? More importantly, how much time would the others have if she lost to Kerr?

“Who are you, with your normal job and your false name, to speak of pride?”

The words echoed eerily as the rumbling noise became louder. Who are you. He was right, even Thetis couldn’t quite pin down who she was, or who she was supposed to be. Was she Lucy Adams, Prototype #006 or Thetis Lucina Alcesteos? The girl didn’t know who any of them were. She was unable to piece together more than 3 pages of information of her past. Lucy Adams was a fabrication influenced by the life of prototype #006, and #006 was supposed to exist as just another Kerr Nordstrom. Thetis didn’t know who she was. It was as if she was far out at sea, floating away, screaming and screaming for help, but no-one was there to listen.

“So you two are the cause of all this mess, eh?”

If it wasn’t for the fact she was about to be murdered by a homicidal maniac, Thetis could have been forgiven for breaking into laughter. She couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing, nor did she have the time to fully sate herself in the hilarity of his presence. He wore a crimson scarf that fluttered in the cross-winds from the helicopters, his black armour was well fitted, possibly of military origin. However, Thetis had the most trouble dignifying herself in the face of his helmet, which gave the impression that he was some form of overgrown bug. His appearance was reminiscent of the superhero TV shows that Thetis occasionally indulged in. She had never seen a stranger man.

“Just what the hell is going on here?”

Thetis could barely hear him. It was as if the earth was howling under the weight of the tanks and the wheels of military vehicles. The blanket of dust was swept away by the engines of gun-ships while the air hissed with the pandemonium of voices. There was a heart-rending grinding sound as her bike was devoured by tank treads. Thetis’ gaze was torn away from the garishly dressed newcomer as the military crawled towards them. They had found her. How had she not noticed them? Humans were just moving masses of water. She had placed too much focus on Kerr, but now their fight was over. A loud boom tore through the night, and a shell burst in the parking lot, forging a crater in the already fractured tarmac. Thetis landed several feet away, staring into the starless sky on her back, the tranquil view sabotaged by a gunship already circling their position.

There were others coming, she didn’t have the energy to identify them, though they were definitely on their way. As she struggled to her feet, winded, aching and bruised, she felt a different signature, emanating from the man that was inexplicably hurtling towards a tank. She glared venomously at Kerr, smirking cruelly as she watched blood run from his nostrils, primal war paint decorating his ghoulishly pale face. They both knew their feud was over. In the face of greater adversity, Violan training had taught them to unite - the escape had merely enforced this. Thetis felt like screaming, she could finish it now, kill him and save the others. But she couldn’t face the army alone, she would die, or worse - be taken in. It felt as if the world was mocking her. Always letting her survive, but never letting her live. Kerr must have been laughing at her too. She gritted her teeth as she spoke, barely audible over the hum of military vehicles.

“I’ll take the ground.”

Thetis spun around to see an enigmatic armoured vehicle spinning to a halt at the opposite side of the parking lot. One of its occupants was unmistakeably a Destrillian, though their identity was intangible and weak. Its engines roared and revved as gunfire ripped through motel. Crouching as she ran, Thetis sprinted towards the contraption, ducking behind cars as glass shattered and explosions tore through twisted metal. The machine was firing against the military. An ally? Her shirt whipped around her as Thetis ran out from her final cover, bullets biting at her heels as she skidded behind the vehicle. Crouching behind the back wheel, she squinted to catch a glimpse of the passengers and driver. Two unfamiliar men and a girl. A short, brown haired girl. A short, brown haired girl with glasses. A short, brown-haired girl with glasses who was also crying. Blood was seeping from a deep gash in the girl’s right leg, while the other hung limply by her side. Thetis mustered her focus and let herself into Terra Michael’s thoughts.

Terra? It’s going to be ok. It’s me, it’s Thetis.

#006 turned her attention to the pair of men, glowering menacingly, ignoring her brain’s groans of agony as she was blanketed by a cloak of moisture. If they had hurt Terra, who had sacrificed everything to save the other Destrillians, Thetis would kill them.

“I’ll take her from here.”

She hesitated. These men were fighting against the army. Thetis didn’t know who they were, but at least they weren’t another enemy.

“Don‘t get caught up in this.”

Thetis motioned towards the oncoming storm, lifting her comrade onto her back as the beat of boots on tarmac became louder. Infantry men were closing in, and Thetis took a deep breath before darting from the vehicle to behind another car. If they were sending men in, it meant the end of shelling, at least for a little while. The debris of the destroyed motel would provide enough cover to shelter them from a full frontal assault. Still holding Terra on her back, Thetis bolted into the ruins of the motel.

The ruins were littered with debris. Thetis stumbled over flakes of concrete and pieces of plaster as she made her way towards a half toppled wall. Kicking broken splints of wood from the sodden carpet, Thetis gently placed Terra against the makeshift barricade. The sight of her brought the shadow of a smile to Thetis’ face. Knowing that the others were still there, surviving, was a comfort. As Thetis crouched behind the concrete, she felt unsteady. She felt dizzy, her arm had gone numb and her face was covered with a thin crust of blood. Her arm was still bleeding. Giving in to Weariness, Thetis sat opposite Terra, smiling weakly and speaking quietly as she tore improvised bandages from her tattered shirt.

“You’ll be safe now.”

Leaning forward, Thetis delicately wrapped a strip of cloth around her fellow Destrillian’s injury before quickly tying off a wrapping on her own arm. She didn’t have a lot of time. She placed both her hands on Terra’s shoulders, staring at her tear-stained face in earnest.

“If a man with short blonde hair and black eyes comes anywhere near here, I need you to shout me, ok?”

Thetis didn’t wait for a reply. Dropping her shirt to the floor, she struggled to her feet and turned towards the battlefield. Terra would be safe as long as she stayed hidden. The infantry had arrived, marching cautiously towards her. Moving away from Terra to find fresh cover, Thetis reigned in the rest of her energy. It felt as if her head had been split open as she stood in front of the army personnel, water rising in a spiral around her as she ran, a last ditch attempt to distract them away from Terra. Her whole body felt as if were floating on air, as if she was just watching from far away. The pain was excruciating, yet as she skipped along, whips of water hurling her pursuers into cars, walls and the air, Thetis felt normal. Numb, but normal. The girl laughed airily as she weaved around the building before diving into a hollow caused by the collapse. Thetis was walking on a knife edge, but she was content. The hands of time were slow now, but she was comfortable. It was do or die, and Thetis was adamant that she would perish by her own hand before the government took her in again. Fumbling for any sort of weapon, she grasped a shard of broken glass, beads of scarlet running through grime encrusted hand as Thetis lurked in wait for the next wave of assailants.

Baldy 01/03/2010 06:07 PM

It had never occurred to Idris Savage just how grateful she was for all the noise of the city until this moment now; she had learned very quickly how to block out some sounds and how to lock on and amplify—almost dissect—other ones. The important ones. And so in this alleyway, when she'd had the sounds of battle to her left and an unwitting Destrillian to her right, the small woman had heard the quiet hum of the man's baton, the sound dipping down in pitch and finally cutting out (for all the difference it'd make to anybody else's ears) as he switched it off. She'd heard the infinitesimally small click in the man's helmet as the optical equipment hidden in that ridiculous helmet took her picture, and for that she was glad she had brought her wig.

She had definitely heard the soap opera comment, too, but she'd chosen to ignore that.

And now astride the strange glowing motorcycle that matched – for better or for worse – his outfit, the unwitting Destrillian extended his hand to her.
"It’s fine. I shall clear the scum out for The Princess to arrive safely back in home." It took every atom of concentration to keep her face straight at "The Princess," but by some miracle - probably due to the irony of it all – she managed. "Fret not, Genevieve, The Dark Rider will handle the chaos; I shall count your crimes based on the evidence later but for now…”
And suddenly there was a flash of colour and the Gunmetal Glint's palette was no longer monochrome and discreet – this "Dark Rider," as he called himself, had thrown a bright and surprisingly comfortable red scarf around her neck. Before she had the time to inquire, he answered her question for her.
“Keep that; it looks like things are gonna be dangerous ahead, and this dirty city can get cold… We’ll meet again at a less compromising time. I look forward to knowing more about you—and possibly myself.”

And he was gone and she was laughing. The sheer incredulity of it all had forced the low chuckle from between her teeth and she let it – she hadn't found anything this funny in a while now.
"Clear out the chaos, eh?" she said down to the dead beneath her feet. She didn't wait for them to reply. "I can hardly wait to see where this one goes."

She leaped up and pushed off the side of one building only to do the same with its opposite another six feet higher. And another. It was like a deadly pinball bouncing off its confines, but the pale Destrillian had no confines – or so she liked to think. Idris ricocheted off the last lip of building and hit the rooftops running.

There was still a good mile to run before she arrived anywhere that could be considered the hot spot; Idris thought while she ran. She'd come to this city to protect the ones she knew (and loved, a bit) from afar, from the ones they'd all been used by; instead she was going to try and pull two of her kind off one another, not to mention she was meeting Destrillian prototypes she had never even met before. The plan of action was grossly different than the one she'd thought she would have to use… and yet that gave the chase a taste of suspense that she found she had rather missed.
Speaking of other Destrillians—

E…ma. Trapt on piper street. Hlp.

The girl in all her strength nearly missed a step as the discombobulated message whispered in through one ear.
Emma? Who would be calling…
Then the voice itself replayed in her mind and she fixed it to a face – a face with green hair and glasses. Terra.
So there's even more of us here now. Great. And from the sound of it, Terra's a bit handicapped. Just how many of us are going to converge? Danger ahead indeed, Dark Rider – for all of us.
As she cleared the twelve-foot space between one building and the next, all she could do was hope that whatever the case was, it had better be good.

It was good alright. Standing on the edge of a moderately tall building, Idris looked down on all the wreckage and felt within her the two presences that had caused it all. Water and… something stranger and less elemental. Gravity.
"Thetis and Kerr. Hmm." Idris had never seen much of Kerr before so she had no expectations to be met, but Thetis? She used to be the epitome of fragility, and now this? The Destrillian shook her head, partially in disbelief, partially to clear the black hair from her eyes – the wig was most likely going to go sooner or later, especially if a fight was involved. A real one, not the sissy little spats she might have gotten into on the way. A fight between Destrillians…

"And the army too, now? Goodness, we're just pulling out all the stops!" Her head cocked to the side in skilled consideration as she regarded the arsenal at hand: infantry were hiding in some of the vehicles, no doubt, and there was a movement of tanks and some strange aircraft as well. The clear, pale grey eyes widened in a surprise that, to the casual observer, would look playfully amused. On the inside, Idris felt on plan crumple in on itself: she had failed to keep the military out of this. Her feeling of inadequacy lasted for about two seconds before she commanded it to vacate the premises and immediately began rebuilding a new plan. So the military was here now, there was no changing that and it wasn't worth moping over; what mattered now was to carry out the end result of her original purpose, which was to protect her impromptu family. The fight was on.

Her first priority was to locate and match all the Destrillian signatures in the area, so she knew who was where – that was done easily enough. They were all quite close now. As the first shells were fired she could feel the Dark Rider – the darkness Destrillian – engaging Thetis and Kerr. It could only end badly for him, poor misguided thing, and Idris felt a stab of genuine pity for the man who had absolutely no idea what he was getting into. Thetis and Kerr themselves both felt extremely ragged; they must have pushed each other to the brink. Terra was a little farther off but coming in closer—strangely, not of her own free will. Idris took stock of all their positions and carefully filed them away in a part of her brain. Her instinct would tell her when and where they moved from here on out.

The infantry she could trust to her kin – human bodies were easily disposed of, after all. It was the hulking machinery that they needed her for. So now it was time to do her job. As she had minutes before, Idris closed her eyes and breathed, feeling all the metal around her and its use to her. A deep exhale and then another calming, steeling inhale, focusing now on the enemy and its toys – the tingling feeling she received was rather like having pins and needles all over her body, and a little savage grin escaped her at how unprepared they were. It was all metal, all of it – the only question remaining was, who to take out first and how to do it?
Now although Idris has been training herself to use more of her power without the old headaches, she still had limits. Considerably higher ones, but limits just the same. This work would require precision and not spectacle—for now. She stood on the edge of the building, almost teetering but always regaining her rock-solid balance, probing the tanks below for their weak points. Rather than explode the whole lot, Idris found that she could hit a few crucial weakpoints and simply disable the vehicles.
Let's get this show on the road, then!

The gunfire was ripping apart the scenery but she wasn't far in enough yet to be in harm's way. The Destrillian scanned the tanks and chose to scatter them instead of taking out the front or the back. They were all built the exact same and so she could pinpoint the mechanics within – so strong to normal human hands, yet so crucially weak to her own – and with a burst of power like heat up her spine and a movement of her foot like she was squishing something underneath it, the equipment that allowed the tanks to move were twisted in on themselves and then crushed beyond any repair, rendering them all immobile. Still able to fire, but unable to move – this was a plus. And it had taken minimal effort to boot.
"Tact wins over brute force," she trilled, smiling down on her work. A good half of the movement had been frozen – they had been chosen randomly throughout the formation and so impeded the movement of the tanks behind that could still move.
Now for more aerodynamics. This was going to be the tricky part as she hadn't needed to be very precise these days—her only practice lately had been on rooftops and those weren't nearly as hard to land on as tank cannons. Still, it was better to use her body's force than her powers for now.

So she hopped a few times on the spot, wrists loose, to gear up for what was about to happen. One hop, two, three—on the upswing of four, she focused on the base of all the tank cannons on the front lines and enforced her will to weaken them—as she landed, so did her intentions and the connection to the rest of the tank was weakened.
And then she sprang, flipped into the same two-footed stomp that had served her so well earlier, and landed square on the barrel of the first cannon. It dented in a most satisfying way beneath her – the cannon was now perpetually pointed at the ground but she'd no time to admire the work as she leaped again, using her momentum to fly through the air and land on the second target, which dented with similar efficiency. Three and four went smoothly as well, although she'd had to jump farther in between them; she'd landed on an angle on three to further propel herself and so it was curved sharply to the right now. There was a frightening moment when she almost missed on five, but managed to land one foot home – six, accordingly, was flattened completely, almost broken off of the rest of the vehicle. She was moving too fast for them to see what in the world had just brutally—beautifully—impaired them, and as her springloaded crouch hit tank number seven and she shot back up into a sideways aerial onto the next cannon she felt the Destrillian in her exulting at this excuse to stretch its legs.
Eight dented satisfactorily and, with her momentum lost and her legs feeling like jelly from all the shock they were taking, Idris made one more leap and landed safe on the roof of a small warehouse, rolling to an undignified but joyful stop.

"I'm surprised I missed that so much," she exclaimed to the air, unheard over the sound of battle. It took a few moments for her legs to regain proper feeling and function but as they returned good as new, so did something else. The twinge she'd had earlier had now escalated to something that could be called a headache, and though it wasn't the splitting pain it was bound to be if she continued, it was enough for her to stop a minute to fix it.
She lay perfectly still, searching and feeling for every inch of the pain in her head, be it nagging or sharp; quietly, she let loose a sigh as she took control of her own blood flow and thickened or thinned the blood flow in the corresponding areas. At the same time, she willed with all her strength to crush the ache down into something almost not there at all. She could feel the pain in her head like she was handling it in her hands. It was malleable and yet volatile, and always wanting to expand.
Not today, no sir.
Inwardly, she felt her combined efforts cut the pain away into something that could be confused for the lingering tenderness of a friendly punch to the back of the head. This, she had learned to do over her years of freedom – Idris Savage refused to be hindered by human mistake and the headaches had had to go. She was, then, capable of freeing herself (and perhaps others, though she'd never tried it) of the small ones. If done often enough, she could theoretically use her powers indefinitely—but she didn't want to try and find out.

She got up just as the VTOL found her.
"Aw shi—" was all she managed before she twisted and dived off the edge of the building. Even as the one bullet got lucky and lashed her foot with crimson pain, the growl she emitted through gnashing teeth was mixed with a strange sort of laugh. The expression "shot in the foot" had come to mind and the irony was not lost on her. There had been no time to bring up her shield, especially so soon after diminishing her headache, but she landed on her good foot and crumpled with a semblance of grace. The Destrillian was again glad that bullets were made of metal; a little bit of digging, a pain as she wrenched it free from her flesh, and then she slapped it flat between her palms and applied the very same bullet to her wound like a bandage. It stuck fast, adhered by the magnetic pull in the iron in her welling blood, and the bullet hole was sealed off. It would last at least until the end of the battle. There was no healing it, however – as powerful as Idris was, and however much control she held over her own blood, there was simply no way to reconstruct destroyed skin. She would have to heal the human way.

The VTOL was hovering above, probably searching for its target in the smoke and debris the spray of bullets had kicked up. It took the woman a minute and a half – "Slowpoke," she thought to herself – to climb back to the rooftop and jump the aircraft. Once she'd found her balance it was impossible to shake her off – the metal exterior melded around her feet as she walked, slowly but steadily, across the back of the craft, giving her an unshakeable base. When she was where she wanted, she looked down and saw the destroyed parking lot a hundred meters to her right.
"Time to get there fast." A sweeping motion and the tail of the craft screeched in protest as it was bent to suit Idris' path: the VTOL veered to the right and just as she got close enough, she decided a flashy entrance was in order. Truly.

So she flung her arms out to her sides, where the engines of the VTOL were, flexed her hands in the air to get a good feel of where all the important bits were in the machine, and then clenched her fists and crunched the insides into scrap. The VTOL dropped like a stone, travelling just that little bit more to land in—yes, in—the edge of the parking lot, tearing up asphalt as it screamed to a smoking halt.
Idris got up and off it, landing and rolling up onto her feet. She took her wig off with all care and then flung it behind her just as the aircraft exploded, incinerating the synthetic hair and so the last vestige of Genevieve Weatherworm.
"We had a good run, girlie, but it seems we've no longer any requirement of your service," she said, clapping her hands to get the dust off of them. She can make out the suit that could only belong to the Dark Rider and she can feel the dark eyes of Kerr Nordstrom somewhere up ahead, looking in her general direction or perhaps at the wreck behind her. Putting on her best smile, readjusting the scarf at her neck and shaking out her short, platinum blond hair with its flipped, flicked-out ends, she stepped through the smoke and debris to meet whatever would come her way.

To the Dark Rider, who had only met her a short while before and was no doubt wondering why the hell she was there—and suddenly not dark-haired. To Kerr, who she hadn't seen in years and despite her inner warnings, was rather pleased to see again:
"Miss me?"

Alessa Gillespie 01/03/2010 11:41 PM

There were many things Terra did not enjoy: she did not enjoy getting scratched by cats, or beans in her soup. She did not enjoy being kidnapped or being locked up, she especially didn’t enjoy shopping for underpants. Because the list of things she did not enjoy was so long, it made the things she did enjoy especially fun. For example, she was quite overjoyed when Destrillian prototypr #006, also known as Thetis Alcesteos, the nice girl who had power over water. She was even happier when she did what no one else seemed to be interested in doing and taking her somewhere safe. She even gave her a bandage, even if it was part of her shirt. Even as the other girl left, she was already feeling better, wiping her damp eyes and dabbing at her leaking nose. It made her feel pathetic though; always having to rely on others in order to get out of the stupid situations she got into. How would she be able to see if that murderer showed up again? Especially if she couldn’t even move…

She sat and concentrated for a moment. What on earth could she do here? She dug her nails into the dirt…

…dirt?

…of course. She could control the earth below her, couldn’t she? Certainly, she’d never attempted, not since the seizure when she’d demolished part of the facility. But really, how did that help anything? So what if she could move some pebbles, but how the hell was that going to save her or anyone else from anything? How was that going to get her to move? She pulled the clod of dirt out of the ground and tossed it weakly; quite weakly, as it hit her limp leg. It crumbled into two pieces, leaving her shin slightly brown and dusty. Stupid, stupid, how the hell did she think she’d be able to help like this? Why did it seem like her power was completely useless? Damn, what on earth could she DO to help?

Though it was her last shot, she tried to get the earth, something around her to move, simply using the power that resided within her. Her leg suddenly kicked, painfully, shockingly, considering she hadn’t been able to move it since when she was heading back home earlier. Perhaps it was—no, it had to be the power she had over earth, pulling it upwards. There was a thin layer of dirt covering her leg, perhaps it was possible to get herself moving, if only… she grabbed handfuls of dirt, hurriedly smearing it onto her legs, even spitting a few times onto the mess to make it stick more easily. She was GOING to do this, even if she had no idea how effective or painful it was going to end up. Finally, once she was content with the amount of mess she had covered herself with, she began to concentrate on picking up the dirt upon her legs. They kicked up, sporadically and with little pattern, and hovered in the air while Terra herself lay on her back.

She choked out a laugh and something that tasted like metal, and her ears rang, but it didn’t matter to her. She was able to move those limp limbs, those pieces of junk that they had been, and at least manage to get them into the air. She pulled herself up, grabbing onto her hovering knees to pull herself up. Panting and crying in pain, she forced her feet to stand onto the ground like they had those many years ago in her mind. Echoing the picture that popped into her mind, of the dirt that was covering her body, she pushed that dirt on her thighs upward, being the dirt around her knees and forcing the covering around her feet to the ground. Unsteadily, she was able to wobble to her feet, despite the pain in her head quickly growing. The brown-haired girl was scared she was going to start crying again in joy, forcing her legs to continue moving, standing up and turning around, even as blood dribbled down her leg, making the dirt on her legs even stickier than before. She wobbled, certainly, and she even fell over, but she was finally able to get herself moving. She tottered over to something that was still able to stand after all of the destruction and stood triumphantly, sending a message to Thetis.

Wuz abl 2 stand. I kan protekt u guiz nao!

Ignoring the growing headache, she stood, waiting, to keep her friends momentarily safe.

NoenGaruth 01/04/2010 12:18 PM

"Infantry are taking casualties!"
"We've lost contact with over half the tank division!"
"Gunships are under heavy fire!"
"Remaining tank units are unable to advance!"

Kijo was standing there still, ignoring all the disastrous news being fed by her subordinates, as it could all be summarized into one thing - They were being badly beaten. The current tactics were capable of achieving victory, however the army would suffer heavy losses in doing so, and that was something Kijo was simply unable to accept....

As the Major continued to figure out what to do next, Lieutenant Jelanda and 2nd Lieutenant Marshall were still reporting all the chaos to their superior.

"Delta-2 has engaged one of the unknown targets on a nearby rooftop...has lost the target.....target is now on the tail of Delta-2........Delta-2 lost." Jelanda didn't have the slightest trace of surprise in her words, too many bizarre things had just happened. Then almost as soon as Jelanda ceased talking, Marshall spoke up.

"Gunship reinforcement are arriving now ma'am." Those words pulled Kijo from her mass of perplexing thoughts for a moment, but was shortly followed by. "Gunship reinforcements have been wiped out." Marshall couldn't hold back his thoughts and stood up to face the Major. "Ma'am, this is complete bullshit, how can a small group of individuals take out so many of our advanced units?! We're the army, we're supposed to protect this city and we can't even defeat a bunch of scientific rejects?!"

Kijo wasn't usually affected by the comments of others, but those words really hit her. All of a sudden old memories came rushing back to her, back to that day, when she lost the most important thing in the world to her.


Yumei...


Kijo remembered why she joined the army, to protect those who were unable to themselves, to make sure sure no else had to suffer the loss that she did. But she couldn't....even when she had worked so hard and always gave it her very best, people kept killing one another, and the innocent continued to suffer. She simply couldn't understand why people had to die just because of what some company screwed up years ago, what were these....things that caused senseless destruction and death onto those who were simply trying to do their job and protect the people they serve? Perhaps these Destrillians really were nothing but monsters that crawled from the shadows of THAT company. Viola. A demon disguised as a corporation. Those scientist are the ones who should suffer, not Osea.

"...damn it, just damn them all." Kijo mummered to herself. Marshall just fell silent as he could tell she was getting very agitated, the battle was clearly getting to her, and he couldn't blame her, it was getting to all of them. No matter what they did the enemy just kept knocking them down. At this moment Jelanda knew what to do, and walked over to the major with a handset.

"Ma'am, I've got Commander Farant on the line." She said calmly and held out the handset to her superior. Kijo took it and began to walk past Jelanda, giving her a quick pat on the shoulder as to say 'thanks', then proceeded away from her subordinates to the side of the roof where the VTOL was sitting.

"Sir" She said in a strong, serious voice to mask her stress.

"Major, apparently there have been complications, or so I hear."

"Complications are not even the half of it sir, the targets, they are Destrillians, those things from four years ago, and there is currently at least four maybe more at the motel area, our forces are getting beaten badly and the enemy is for the moment showing no signs of giving up. I thought I would be able to end this quickly, however I was simply not good enough."

"No Major it's not your fault, it's mine." Farant replied in a calm manner, then let out a sigh before continuing. "Myself and the other commanders had an idea that these hostiles that have been terrorizing the city might have been the same from four years ago, however due to the lack of activity in years from them we simply ignored it. But I see now that we shouldn't have kept this from you as the result was our forces marching into a slaughterhouse." The commander's voice was now filling with regret and despair. Kijo was caught off guard by this new information.

"Sir? Does that mean we cannot win here without sacrificing a majority of our troops? I have the MLRS's on standby at Corriander park, just give me the word and they'll open fire." Farant responded right away with a serious tone.

"As much as I'd like to do that Major, we're dealing with some powerful beings here, one of which I'm positive can manipulate metal. And what would happen if they were to intercept even one of the MLRS's rockets before it separates in flight? If it got directed back at the launchers - which are currently stationed right near a suburban area, the damage could be catastrophic. No Major we cannot use those."

They both were silent for a moment until Kijo asked "Then what can we do Sir?" Next she thought she could hear Farant place his hand over the receiver, followed by muffled sounds of multiple voices, then after a minute the commander's voice could be heard again.

"Major, after talking with my colleagues, we've decided that we have no other choice but to call for outside assistance in dealing with this manner. As luck would have it there's an IRIN command ship heading back north from military exercises, it should be just on the other side of the mountains to the east of the orange Zone. I'll make the call. In the meantime, send out a full withdrawal order to all forces in the vicinity of the motel, that is all."

"Yes Sir!" Kijo replied, then waited till Farant hung up. So, they have resorted to calling upon them....but I guess we really have no other choice, after all they are better equipped for dealing with such opposition.

IRIN International were almost like gods when it came to war, their technology was like nothing she'd ever seen before. She just hoped they'd be able to respond quick enough, but for now, she had her own task to deal with. Turning back to the direction of her subordinates she quickly ran back over and before she had even stopped she was shouting orders.

"Attention everyone, as issued by Commander Farant I am hereby ordering a full retreat. All unit's are to withdraw from the combat zone immediately!"

"Yes Ma'am!" Jelanda replied before jumping on the radio to pass down the order. Marshall on the other hand was baffled by this.

"Ma'am? What's happening, are we throwing up the white flag already?" His words made Kijo's eyes lock onto him, and she quickly replied. "No. Command has decided to pull back our forces from battle. We are going to let someone else take care of this one." She then immediately turned away from him and began observing the withdrawal with a pair of binoculars. Marshall then actually let out a sigh of relief. "So command finally folded and are calling IRIN in? Well at least our guys don't have to face those monsters anymore..."

"Just so" Kijo replied while continuing to look out through the binoculars, then added "Well now that you are at ease again Lieutenant, how about calling the MLRS's and having them return to base?" Marshall paused for a moment, then gave the major a cocky grin as he said "You got it Ma'am!"

As Marshall walked away Kijo could finally enjoy some peace, but sadly that was short lived, as a video feed jumped onto the screen just next to her, the image on it was of a middle aged blond woman wearing a military uniform and a beret. She also looked very happy....maybe a little too happy. The woman on the monitor then spoke to her.

"Why hello there! I'm General Sophalla of the IRIN International Private Military Company, and you might you be miss?" Sophalla spoke in a cheery tone. Kijo knew of Sophalla, however she had never expected her to be this....nice.

"Major Kijo Matsuya of the Artolian Armed forces." She replied in her stern, serious manner.

"Well pleased to meet you Major Matsuya! And thank you for choosing to do business with IRIN~. So your commander tells me you're having a bit of trouble with some nasty vagrants down there?".

"Yes that's right General. According to our records we have positive ID that the targets are in fact Destrillians."

There were few things that could make Sophalla break her constant smile - the words 'Destrillians' was one of them. Almost instantly her face changed from that of bliss to one of anger, and quickly let out a very loud "WHAT, THOSE REJECTS ARE STILL GOING?!" Which made Kijo stand back from the monitor, but just as instantly as Sophalla became angry, she went back to being happy, then continued talking in her blissful tone.

"Oh my, it looks like you have quite a pickle on your hands then Miss Matsuya. But not to worry! We at IRIN will deal with these little critters in no time~!" She then leaned forward and added. "Just make sure all your people are clear, this could get a little messy"

"Copy that, you're cleared to move in when ready, tho be warned, these targets have been throwing around tanks and pulling VTOL's out of the sky."

"Oh not to worry! We have countermeasures for all that stuff, just keep you eyes open cause here we are now~!" Sophalla jumped back into her chair and extended both her arms out in an expression of 'Ta Da!' as a loud noise could be heard to the east. Kijo and her subordinates looked out to see a gigantic mass of a vehicle emerge from the clouds hanging over the mountain range. The sight of a IRIN command ship was never a dull experience, the vessel was sleek and beautiful in design, and also roughly the size of an aircraft carrier. Only IRIN would know how to keep something like that in the air.

"Alright IRIN, let us see what you have up your sleeve."

______________________________________________________________


The bridge of the command ship was bursting with sound as the crew began readying the ship for engagement. Sitting in the center of the room was General Sophalla, joyously listening to all the chatter around her, as though he was hearing the prelude of a symphony that would be her foes destruction. What goes on in her head at times like this was thought to be random thoughts about, well, happy things, however her mind was in fact in a state of normality, it was only her exterior ringing with joy.


So......the destrillians once again. Personally I'd have been better off if I never had to hear or see them ever again but ah well, such is life. If they're anything like they used to be I suppose I'd better get our defenses up.


"Alrighty everyone! Now we all know the enemy of capable of doing things out of the ordinary, so let's make sure none of those things can get at us, ok? OK! Forward defensive energy barriers and just for good luck, turn on the EM shielding! That way if they try those powers of theirs on us the strain from the EM will make their heads go boom~! AhaHAhAhaHaHA!" The crew didn't need to respond as Sophalla was now consumed by her insane laughter, something they were used to in any battle zone. The General might be a nutcase, but she was an intelligent nutcase who knew what she was doing, so they were able to tolerate the unusual behavior.


After a few minutes of setting everything up the vessel was ready and practically on top of its location. Sophalla stood up and starred out eagerly upon the area.


"Ah excellent! Do we have confirmation on the target's location?" She asked with utter excitement.


"According to the Artolian forces, the enemy should be located at the ruins of a motel, and there seems to be only one motel that's been torn to pieces, we're also picking up an unknown armored vehicle, doesn't match anything used by the Artolians." Replied one of the operators. The general's eyes lit up at the words.


"Superb, they'll be incinerated too!~" She then pointed her right arm in the air and cheerfully yelled in a cheesy foreign accent (*French*) "PRE-PAR TO FIRE, ZE FORWORD PARTICLE CAN-ON!"


"Aye Ma'am. Particle cannon charging, full power will be reached in 3 minutes." The deck officer replied. Sophalla placed her palms together in delight, she always enjoyed seeing things get vaporized.


The time has come and your numbers are up destrillians. I'll do what Viola was unable to. And then, I shall have the cupcakes I baked last night, yes.... I like the sound of that plan~.

Baldy 01/05/2010 01:05 AM

"I don’t know if you’re calling me out or that guy who nearly totalled my armour. Once we get out of here, I want to know. I have to know. What am I; who are you all. And why is everyone out to get each and everyone of you…" said the Dark Rider as the baton buzzed and crackled and energy went bolting off behind them. It was carefully stowed away and the man with his makeshift scarf gestured toward Idris. For an absurd second she thought he might want his original one back but then he spoke again: "But for now, I've gotta incapacitate that lunatic before he can kill more of them."

That made sense. Idris paused, gnawing at her lip gently in consideration; she'd heard the news of the mass killings and accidents lately and had had a hunch for the past while, but only now did it come to light. Kerr was probably behind them all and the only reason he could want to take out that many people – like he could have done here – was to take out a Destrillian.
He was trying to kill them all, she realized. For one reason or another, she found she was neither very surprised, nor very frightened. But before she had time to figure out why, he was speaking again.
He talks almost as much as I'd like to.
"…we're gonna escape. My gramps can take us out of the city until things cool off. Will you join me?"

She'd stopped listening at "city." Out of the city was out of the question – Idris knew how these things worked by now and she knew that once you were out of the masses they could find you and pick you off as they pleased. They needed to remain in the city, that was for sure—but this was a losing fight, with two Destrillians almost out of juice and another who barely knew what he was really doing.
And another who feels a little whacked, too, the small Destrillian thought as she remembered Terra, whose presence was somewhere not too far off. In terms of strength (if she wanted to be REALLY cocky) it was her alone right now.
She might have been a little wrong on that because at this precise moment she was violently shoved to the side.

"BEHIND YOU!" she heard, but only after she felt the presence of the bullet in midair. She almost felt like laughing – she'd been milliseconds away from being done in by her very own element!
"Just goes to show that a couple seconds of thought are a couple too many for this battle field," she grumbled, inwardly testing herself to make sure she was unharmed. The sharp, ringing CRACK that she heard was enough for her to look up to check and see if her… saviour, she supposed, was alright as well. Much to her amused surprise, she noticed the small but noticeable dent in the Dark Rider's helmet. It seemed that—
"This baby isn't all show you know," he said, finishing the sentence for her. She could tell from his voice that he was grinning almost unproportionately to the matters at hand. A mechanical voice, a burst of dark matter and the wall behind her exploded.

In the abyss of smoke, she could faintly make out the outline of Kerr, a little while off and most certainly holding his own. "Let's go together," she heard from her right as she flipped smoothly to her feet. "This ain't over yet."
For the first time since entering the fight, Idris full-out laughed. It was a strange noise to hear among the sounds of battle, but it was strong and confident and full of something that said they'd all make it out alive.
"It'll never be over, hon," she finally said, smiling in a way she hoped wasn't too sad—she'd hoped to avoid thinking about the past. "If you have something to take up with Kerr, then go right on ahead; I'm perfectly happy to wait until I have no choice. There's not going to be any getting out of the city, either," she continued grimly, sweeping an arm around at their scenery. "We need to escape another way. I'm going off to find the others – if you can help it, try not to kill anybody, okay? I know it's real rich coming from me, but please." It was the most she'd spoken in a while and the pale Destrillian was happy to free up her vocal chords again. With a mock salute she was up and gone, weaving through the smoke to find Thetis and Terra.

There was less of a battle going on, she suddenly realized. The noises of gunfire and shouting were becoming less and less, and was that a "retreat!" she'd just heard?
It couldn't bode well.
She knew that the end of this fight could only mean the beginning of another. After all, the Destrillians never really won, did they? There was only ever another round to come. With this thought in mind she felt more than saw Thetis lurking in the shadows and made her way up to the water Destrillian post haste.
"Hey, you," she called out with as much vigour as she could muster. "Enjoying yourself?" The reply made Idris smile, though it wasn't something she would have expected the old Thetis to say. "I think it's about time we moseyed on out of here, don't you? I can feel Terra somewhere nearby – can we get to her quickly?"
What a reunion, the woman thought as Thetis gave her answer. No "Nice to see you're alive!" or "How've you been?" Just more fighting.

She sighed as she noticed Thetis moving, and took off to follow. It looked like it was back to old times, then.


Alex 01/12/2010 08:10 PM

It was as though in the blink of an eye every convention that Kerr had set his life by, simultaneously vacated the premises without so much as a lingering wave or any recognition that Kerr had once lived his life by their strict and unaltering ways. Now, for the second time in his life he felt the familiar tearing at the core of his being, as all of his previous insights into how the world should behave and what his place was in it were blown apart just as readily as the environment around him seemed to explode in a mesnmeric kaleidescope of dust and shrapnel.

Destrillians. He didn't need to rely on his finely tuned psychic abilities to tell that the colourful collection of characters that had appeared on the scene to play hell with the military presence around the motel were Destrillians.

His patience had more than worn thin by now. Today had started so simply, so routinely, and with he had acted and planned every precise moment with the same skill and forethought that he conducted every action and engagement with his enemies with. All of that had been blown away by the stubborness of one opponent, one who refused to die at his hands like she was meant to. The thought was infuriating enough without the involvement of these interfering beings and the laughable human military who desperately sought to police a situation that was so rapidly falling out of their control that it could have been a scene from a classic comedy.

His face contorted into one of frustrated malevolance he felt a bullet whip by the bloody side of his face. The rush of air feeling unnaturally cool and pleasant on the raw open cuts. It was time to reassess the situation (and although it was almost physically painful to come to terms with) his priorities as well. With all the fury of a spoilt infant that was forced to give up playing with his most favourite toy he quickly spun on the spot to survey what was quickly turning into a battlefield unlike anything he had seen before.

His senses told him that there were four Destrillians, excluding himself, currently in the immediate vacinity. Thetis, had disappeared from sight amidst the chaos and she was in a close proximity to another familiar signature, one that he remembered from four years ago. Oh wonderful Terra is here too, what a godsend, he thought sarcastically to himself. Not disguising the contempt he felt for the weaker Destrillian. Strafing to the side to avoid a hail of machine gun fire came almost second nature to him, his countless hours of training in the Violan facility taking control with such ease that his mind was free to expand, to formulate plans and to survey the area. He fell into a couch behind a car, raising his head to peer with seemingly sightless eyes in the direction of the advancing military, but his mind and his psychic senses were looking in another direction. Every other direction in fact.

Th other two Destrillians at the scene, Idris Savage, another familiar energy signature that burst onto the scene like a bombshell and this character in the strange armour were close together, possibly in conversation. In hindsight, Kerr reckoned that venting such a self destructive amount of power on trying to remove that idiot from the fight was a poor move for two reasons. Firstly and most importantly he was beginning to feel the effects of what letting such incredible power dictate the course of this fight. He could tell he was bleeding from places other than the cuts on his face and forearms, shortly he knew the blood would begin to come from his eyes as well as his nose and ears and then it would really be time to consider retreat. Secondly, he knew that this battle could not be kept up indefinitely. As destructive as the Destrillians were in combat, they were to forever be limited by the toll using their powers took on them. Humans hid their own flaws behind their machines that fell before them like cardboard cutouts but did not tire, and annoyingly they seemed to have an endless supply. It was a war of attrition, and Destrillians were not designed for it in the slightest.

This brought him to the third and most staggering conclusion about the present situation. In order to survive the assault of the human beings he would need to rely on these others. Inferior to him though they were, he knew he was weakening to a dangerous level. That made him uneasy, weakness and uncertainty were not feelings that Kerr frequently entertained. No. He concluded, if there was to be any chance of a successful escape then he would need the others. It took a few ragged breaths for the plan to fully sink in. He had never relied on the help of anything or anyone in living memory. Now circumstances were forcing him to cooperate with the same lesser gods that he had dedicated his life to ridding the world of to make way for the dominance and majesty of his own power so that he may stand alone as the greatest of the Destrillians.

His attention was brought rocketing back to reality as a VTOL gunship swung into view to his side, unleashing a lethal rain of gunfire into the ground where he had been crouching in silent observation moments earlier. His agility was far more than human, even with the degree of damage done to his body already. His psychic aptitude and inability to turn off the constant awareness of the gravitational fields in orbit all around him meant that he was constantly aware of his environment, and the moment he sensed the bullets heading his way he acted without thinking. Manipulating his way gravitational field so it was attracted powerfully to some wall behind him, he rocketed backwards in a painful jerking motion that looked as though an invisible car and tow rope were accelerating furiously away from him. He never, made contact with the wall, not like the attack he used on Thetis. Instead he stopped the pull almost as soon as it had begun so that he stopped moving two dozen metres away from his prior position. The experience made him nautious, he was now too tired and ill equipped to properly cope with the sensation that he was so used to. He put the feeling aside for now and watched with loathing as the human airship advanced on his new position and straight into the path of the beaten and ruined remnants of the car that Kerr had been using for cover, as it took off upwards into the air like a rocket. Temporarily released of the Earth's gravitational pull and attracted strongly to a spot located roughly fifty centimetres above the pilot's head. Their deaths were guaranteed as the resulting fireball showered the parking lot with the flaming an d grotesquely mangled debris from both vehicles.

The explosion was not pretty but at least this area of the car park was closer to the humans than to his...new allies.

Kerr promptly buckled over and vomited.

It took an almost indescribable amount of effort to stop Kerr from crying out as the use of the power filled his mind and every limb of his body with a terrible pain. The same way a man would never try to walk on a broken ankle, Kerr's powers were still functional but using them was becoming indescribably painful.

It was time to leave.

He swore mentally, as he jogged towards the nearest Destrillian energy signature, thankfully they were all in a close proximity. The pain traditionally receded after he stopped the use of his powers, but now it was only stubbornly beginning to dull as he motivated his body to move through an uncomfortable combination of survival instinct and will power.

Then he began to get truly worried, the gunfire had was receding. It had been a good while since he had felt bullets spin past him. Humans were not ones for retreating, it was not how they fought. They piled their military together and used it to full effect through relentless attrition. Overwhelming opponents through their force of numbers, the size of their guns and unwavering persistance. This change in tactics only enhanced the unease he felt at remaining here any longer than necessary.
Wearily he clambered over what had once been one the motel's structurally integral walls. The pain in his limbs and head had receded to a dull thump, and he took a moment to catch his breath. That last move was pretty far removed from the athleticisim he had displayed early on in the fight.

“Hey. Sorry to disappoint" Kerr's almost grudgingly turned his head to face his speaker. Momentarily disarmed by the casual tone of voice, Kerr couldn't help but feel nothing but loathing at the armoured Destrillian that advanced towards him now. Bigger, taller and better built, even beneath his ridiculous armour than he was, Kerr couldn't help but heighten his senses and prepare for what could be another battle. Everything about this man seemed to put him on edge.


“Something bigger is ahead of us. Something far more devastating than the army, I suggest we take to the sewers with the girls.”
Oh at least the idiot has a brain “Despite me wanting to take it all out on you, we’re gonna need each other to survive. Like it or not, you’re coming with us.”

"I know I am"
Kerr replied harshly, resisting the urge to tell the man facing him that he wouldn't live to make another threat against him. His jet black eyes darted towards the weapon held threateningly towards him and forced himself to keep quiet. It was not going to be economical to their escape if he decided to provoke hostilities with a man with an obvious grudge to bring against him, and more importantly somebody that was currently in a much better physical condition.

He wondered if this man could sense the murderous black loathing coming from Kerr. His psychic link with the others had rotted away completely, did this mean they couldn't read his thoughts the same way he couldn't read theirs? The issue had never presented itself before now, and Kerr frowned awkwardly. There were several ways he could see that becoming a problem.

"Follow" he gave the command and jogged past his new companion in the direction of the others.

It took a moment to recognise that he had just clumsily climbed into the line of sight of the three female Destrillians he had been searching for. The wave of hostility he felt from them was almost like a physical entity, one that could be touched and in this case run away from. If he could only still interpret their thoughts then he was sure the death threats would be very creative indeed.

Kerr felt pretty much immune to their appalled faces and vicious glare, he very rarely spent time around anybody that wasn't anything short of openly hostile to him. Or dead.

"Something is coming." he shouted simply. Unused to speaking very much, trying to convey a sense of loudness and urgency to his usual quiet monotone voice. Surely they must sense it too.

"We need to leave now."

Bex 01/21/2010 12:12 PM

The hiding place, created by the impact of a shell and debris from the gutted motel, was blissfully quiet. Heavy ripples stilled to small rings in the pools of water that covered the parking lot and Thetis crouched silently as she watched the boots of another infantry group storm past her safe haven. Despite the clouds of the storm having crawled away, it was dark. The pressure of battle lingered in the darkness, the fine line she and every Destrillian walked which placed them a hair’s breadth away from death. The threat that clung to her clothes, coating her skin like silt, suffocating her as she shuffled to the opening of her shelter, improvised knife in hand.

A rogue soldier jogged across her path, and within seconds, dozens of wiry water tendrils darted from a puddle of water that had formed in a crater in the asphalt. Much to her disappointment, rather than punching several holes through the soldier, they merely threw him off his feet. She had overestimated her remaining power. Thetis was exhausted. Forced to fight a battle on two fronts, it was hardly surprising that her energy reserves had dwindled to dangerously low levels. Scrambling from the hollow, The Destrillian sprinted towards him, kicking the rifle from his hands as she forced her weight on his chest. The soldier flailed desperately as the girl muffled his screams with her hand, his pupils dilating in fear as she drove the serrated shard of glass into his throat.

Stumbling backwards, Thetis felt sick when she heard the rasping gurgle of blood in his mouth as he tried to breathe. His death had occurred at the expense of as much effort as it took to swat away a fly or tie a shoelace. She couldn’t help it, of course, that she was so prepared to take a life. It was THEIR fault, THEY had made her like this. The thought of Viola irritated Thetis, even infuriated her. If it wasn’t for them, Kerr wouldn’t be have been on some ‘mission’ to kill her, and she most certainly wouldn’t have been dodging the army as they tried to riddle her with bullet holes. Thetis spotted the infantry group she had seen before, now taking cover behind a burnt out car not 20 metres from her. They must have heard. Thetis licked her dry, cracked lips and her mouth soured with that familiar metallic taste - blood was already dribbling from her nose. That was the problem with killing the human way - it was crude and far too obvious, Thetis thought to herself with such single mindedness that she didn’t even consider the exhibitionism involved in hurling a man 100 yards away with a jet of water. Her braid whipped from side to side as she frantically searched for some cover, some shelter to ensure she wouldn’t be a sitting duck. There was none - if she retreated to her hollow hideaway, she would be filled with bullets before she had a chance to apologise to Tonio for being late back.

Thankfully, Thetis had divine intervention on her side. Divine intervention in the form of another Destrillian, namely Idris, bringing down a gunship on the edge of the parking lot, but divine intervention nonetheless. The fire hydrant she had burst before was still haemorrhaging water, which soon collected in the air. It felt like she was floating far away as she saw a small tidal wave topple the chassis of the car and crush those who cowered behind it. Thetis felt oddly triumphant. The screams died away, and the Destrillian dropped to her knees, blood staining her teeth as her mouth lolled open in a dazed smile, eyes closed in elation. But mostly, there was pain. As soon as Thetis had paused: pain. Every bone and every muscle fibre and every fleck of skin, every corpuscle of blood screaming in agony. Her vision was blotched with a kaleidoscope of lights, and she felt so tired, so, so tired. If she used her powers again, she would probably lapse into Derinium, which would surely kill her. Despite being a sure fire way to get rid of the pain, the prospect of dying by brain aneurysm in a motel parking lot was about as appealing as being stampeded by a herd of bison. Crawling over to a pile of rubble, Thetis’ strength finally gave way as she collapsed on the heap of wood and plaster. It was only a matter of time now. She stared listlessly into the darkness. There were still no stars in the sky.

Wuz abl 2 stand. I kan protekt u guiz nao!

The fragile, garbled voice that broke through the horrific ringing brought a smile to Thetis’ face. At least Terra was getting better, after what she had sacrificed for the rest of them, it seemed only fair that her efforts would be rewarded. A little part of Thetis wanted to cry, but the trembling little girl had been buried under the ruins of Viola. At least they were all here now. Kerr wouldn’t dare attack them all at once. Her arm was still bleeding. Thetis wiped her nose, a smear of crimson painting the back of her hand. The blood that once soaked the front of her baseball tee had been washed away, leaving pale red stains that were barely visible past all the dirt. Her ear drums were pounding, and the roaring engine of the strange vehicle from before was muffled by the agonising screech of her migraine.

“...tis,”

A man stepped down from the armoured vehicle, holding three small bottles in his outstretched hand. It sounded like he was speaking through a wall. Thetis tried to steady her gaze. She felt practically drunk with fatigue. The bizarre pink water that filled the glass containers sloshed about as he waved them in front of her. She wearily snatched them away, pushing them into her back pocket as she staggered to her feet.

“This has gone far enough. Despite all this shit happening…I still want you and the others to be free. Free of the system, free of those horrible days. Take this, kid. Use it on yourself the others and escape…Get out of town. I can help you if you want... Just stop this insane shit kid.”

Thetis felt her energy returning in the form of sheer rage. Her blood began to boil, and the girl responded to his please with an unforgiving scowl. The nerve – a human patronising a Destrillian? This man was farcical. Thetis seethed with anger.

“What do you know about horror?”

Thetis paused bitterly. They may have made her forget her past, her life, but they could never make her forget the terror of ten years at Viola. She brushed past him, taking immense effort to retain her dignity and not fall over.

“Leave. I don’t have time for human ineptitude.”

She turned her back on him, blood boiling, head pounding. As she stumbled over the ruins, Thetis stared vacantly at what was left of the battlefield. Mangled Helicopter chassis, burnt out tanks, gutted vehicles and twisted corpses littered the asphalt. Water pooled in the base of the fissures that riddled the parking lot. It was over. The soldiers that had managed to evade the Destrillian onslaught were retreating, tripping over themselves as they ran for cover. They had won. It was only natural, she thought, as she leaned against a half demolished wall. Thetis was exhausted. Physically, she was on the verge of collapse, with a migraine that made her temples feel as if they were being crushed in a vice. She gazed at her feet. Her hi-tops were definitely ruined, and her jeans were noticeably more ripped than usual. She was not going to be able to afford rent.

“Hey, you,”

Idris’ voice echoed over the field of destruction, and Thetis smiled warmly as she caught sight of her friend’s wiry blonde hair.

“Enjoying yourself?”

Thetis rolled raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes.

“I wouldn’t exactly define this as enjoyable,”

She laughed airily and dragged herself away from the wall, concentrating solely on putting on foot in front of the other as she staggered towards Idris.

"I think it's about time we moseyed on out of here, don't you? I can feel Terra somewhere nearby – can we get to her quickly?"

Thetis nodded slowly, the world around her spinning as she tried to remember where she had left Terra. Her vision began to blur the landscape into a non-descript smudge of colour. She pointed vaguely in the direction of some rubble.

“Over there, I think,”

The ruins of the hotel left all of the Destrillians open to another attack, Thetis thought as she wandered blindly towards Terra’s presence. It would never be over. No matter the loss, the dregs of Violan staff that had survived would continue to hunt them. Humans would always fear what they could not control. Thetis could sense Terra, and much to her resentment, Kerr. It was unfortunate that he had not perished in the skirmish. The water prototype felt a cold fury rise within her. She was quite prepared to wipe Kerr from the plane of existence even if it meant killing herself in the process.

“Something is coming.”

That voice, that arrogant, cold, monotone that seemed to crack with a sense of urgency only further enraged #006. He was mocking her.

"We need to leave now."

What blazon audacity. He made a good point, yet he had no right to act as if there was any element of camaraderie between the prototypes. Thetis tripped over a crack in the pavement as she stormed towards him.

“Don’t you dare try to give me orders.”

She spat at him with abhorrent disgust. Kerr was responsible for the chaos that had ensued over the last few hours. His smugness was infuriating. He had not beaten her. He would never beat her. Thetis glared, staring into those black voids he called eyes. The eyes were a window to the soul, and Kerr’s betrayed his in its entirety. Emptiness. Thetis drove her shoulder into his as she barged past him in a last act of defiance. A rusted sewer cover shone with crystalline drops of moisture. She would conserve her pride if it was the last thing she did. Ignoring Kerr, she spoke to the others, pointing at the sewer cover.

“We can escape down here, it should take us deeper into orange zone,”

She would show Kerr that she, Thetis Alcesteos, still had the power to destroy him. Closing her eyes, she summoned the last reserves of her ability. Her head felt as if it was being slowly torn open with a pair of pliers, and her chest heaved with the effort of each rasping breath. The sewer cover shivered before being ripped from its fittings by a torrent of water, screws flying like bullets as the metal disc was hurled across the parking lot. Awkwardly twisting her body, Thetis smirked triumphantly at Kerr – the ultimate victory - before her knees hit the tarmac and all went black.

Alex 01/21/2010 11:00 PM

If Kerr was to remember anything in the years to come from this catastrophe, it would neither be the sounds of the dead and the dying soldiers all around him, nor would it be the unspeakably awkward reunion with a group that he had dedicated his life to hunting down and eliminating. It would be the simply shining example of an arrogance that mirrored his own. Smirking, self-confident and full of rage.

“Don’t you dare try to give me orders”

His very being ached to the core as she pushed past him, but pride alone kept him standing. He was determined not to give an inch. Not to show any kind of weakness in front of her. Or the others for that matter, their fear of him would more than likely keep them from making an attempt on his life. At least he hoped it would, the new boy in the clown armour looked like he might be stupid enough to try it. But Kerr would cross that bridge when he had the energy to do so.

Every ounce of his being was telling his body to act the visceral hatred building up inside him. She was so vulnerable right now, perhaps in an even worse state than he was, and she had lost alot of blood. It would be so easy to kill her right now. But what next? He’d be torn to shreds within seconds by this plucky band of freaks that were grouped together in this ruined place. Patience and restraint, he thought to himself, were the weapons he needed to win this battle. His prey had moved over to a manhole cover.

“We can escape down here, it should take us deeper into orange zone,”
Kerr wouldn’t dare show it, but to tear the covering from its home in the concrete was an impressive feat for the kind of shape she had found herself in. The familiar wave of anger bubbled over him, was this jealousy? Did Thetis’ showing off mean she was more powerful? The gnawing spark of doubt in his mind disappeared almost as soon as it had come as he watched her fall to the ground unconscious. The realisation that she had used the last reserves of her power in an attempt to one-up him might have filled his body with a deeply murderous anger, but that subsided too leaving only one simple fact.

She was a fool to try and beat me. The victor isn’t always the most powerful, in this case the ultimate victory is going to go to the most patient. One should never leave themselves so weak, or so vulnerable. It was foolhardy, recklessness taking the place of the solider’s logic that should come naturally to these Destrillians. They’d all gotten too soft.
The armoured man immediately leapt to her side and began administering some kind of serum to her. Now that was certainly curious, precious few people knew about the Destrillians, and those same people had been the very ones who had tried to kill them all (albeit, doing a less successful job than Kerr had been), and had betrayed him and robbed him from his place in the world. All feelings of hatred and anger and battle were suddenly drowned out by the alarm bells ringing in his head. Only somebody from Viola could have access to such technology. The Destrillians were escapees, there was no conceivable explanation for why they would be carrying around Violan technology with them.

“Listen up everyone, this is a special medicinal drug called Éclair Bacta Serum, one of my old man’s creations. I don’t know what you guys take to ease your pain, but these things will have you in tip top condition after a few minutes. If anyone’s starting to feel weak, just tell me and I’ll hand you some…except you. You’re too dangerous to heal and I can’t trust you with this…”
the armoured stranger spoke with such ease and command of the situation. The kind of battlefield authority that the Destrillians had been, and he had not been at the same facility as the rest of the group assembled here. Had some element of Viola survived and created his new Destrillian? Clad in the armour and weapons that had always been the final endgame of the project?

“I’m also too clever to take drugs developed by Viola”
he said it venomously, hoping to catch the stranger off guard, or at least gauge his reaction to tell if he really was sent by that company. “I don’t take drugs from the same company that tried to kill all of us” he gestured to where Idris and Terra were standing, knowing that they knew as well as he did the horrors they’d experienced at their hands. “And I’m either not in the habit of trusting somebody dressed in the armour and carrying the weapons of the people that created us, tortured us, and killed us, either.” But the stranger betrayed nothing, his facial features obscured behind his stupid mask. But the cogs in Kerr’s head began to turn, a plan was slowly forming there. A plan that would hopefully buy him the time he needed not to get lynched by this group the second they disappeared into the sewers.

“We should leave her, she’s too weak and carrying her will only slow us down” Kerr nodded towards the prone body of Thetis lying on the ground as he moved towards the hole she had torn into the ground. Trying his best to keep Kram in his field of vision, he did not feel safe in the slightest now. Viola, in their time, had been known to act as calculating and as cruel as he did. The last thing that would put his mind at rest would be the thought of a Destrillian who had his own sense of ingenuity and cunning, but was still allied with Viola.

His suggestion was promptly ignored as he watched Kram pick Thetis up and place her over his shoulder. What a typical hero, Kerr snorted. His suspicion growing by the second, Destrillians were not heroes they were soldiers. His actions seemed so illogical, so unlike any Destrillian he’d encountered before.

“Well? Come on guys, IRIN’s not gonna wait for us to run! I’ll go in first, mind your conditions.”
Kram so very helpfully reminded them of their plight as he and the useless body he was carrying dropped into the sewers. It couldn’t be too much of a long drop Kerr thought to himself, but he resented having to follow the lead of a stranger that he trusted less than the three women combined. But now that Kram was out of earshot, it was time to cover his back.

He turned to Terra and Idris and fixed them with a very stern look. his coal black eyes refusing to betray the alarm that he felt in following this stranger.

“Listen to me, both of you”
he addressed the two girls, but really focusing more on just Idris. She was intelligent, she would understand the direness of his warning. Terra...Terra was just weird.

“I know you have no reason to trust me, and I am not asking you to” Kerr suspected he might have talked more today than he had all week. “But I’m telling you now, do not trust this stranger.” He let his voice quiver ever so slightly, sounding more alarmed than he really felt. Necessary for this plan to work, he reminded himself.

“Think about it. That armour is beyond regular military, not even mercenaries and PMCs re outfitted with that type of gear, and his weapons? Those are designed for a Destrillian” he voiced his genuine concerns, trying not to focus too much on the fact that this interaction was possibly the first conversation he could remember having where he actually spoke his own genuine thoughts out loud. “This man comes here outfitted in weapons and carrying drugs designed for Destrillians. He could only have come from Viola.” He let the accusation hang in the air so that they could absorb the weight of what he had just told them.

“We know that Viola are much more dangerous than I am. I’d watch my back around him” he told the lie effortlessly before turning to the hole and jumping into it. Hoping that his warning sounded genuinely convincing to them.

At the very least he had accomplished warning them about a very genuine traitor in their midst, and at most he had provoked memories of a hatred that all the Destrillians had for a greater common enemy than he was. That would get some of the negative attention off him for awhile and onto this enigmatic stranger. It was a win/win situation, he smirked as he hit the bottom and followed Kram's lead.

Baldy 01/22/2010 10:16 PM

They found Terra quickly enough. Idris was keeping one eye on the suspiciously empty battle field—and one on Thetis. The water Destrillian was running on empty and Idris could see a collapse coming soon, if not worse. It was with this in mind that she allowed Thetis to go at her own pace, even though the situation could only get worse by the minute.

Terra had propped herself up against a wall, incredibly shaky but standing. Idris had previously been unaware of the girl's… imbalance, but when she saw how Terra was holding herself up she had to give way to a frown. That was earth, not bodily function, that was keeping the girl on her feet; whatever could be wrong with Terra's legs, and more importantly, how, Idris had no idea.
She was about to ask when she felt the other two Destrillians catch up.

At the sound of the footsteps she turned around – the little bit of shock left over from finding out about Terra's less-than-health didn't help the look on her face when she spotted Kerr – despite her decision to wait until she knew everything before making any tremendous move on him, she was still a little irked that he was trying to kill what must be the only thing he had that counted for a family. Her glare was only half unintentional.

"Something is coming. We need to leave now." Even when he was shouting, Idris could always see a fullstop after each of his sentences. They were cold. Brief. Cut and dried and desperately needing some sort of emotion.
Still, the words themselves were not lost on her. I knew there was something wrong about the retreat. An army in this city wouldn't just give up… they must have some grand finale on the way.

A couple things happened at once here.
Firstly, Idris felt the familiar, fluid energy signature of Thetis' expand in a rush of what she could possibly describe as heat. Not only was the blue-haired Destrillian angry, she was positively choleric.
Secondly, the small Destrillian noticed that the Dark Rider had joined the party. He looked even more out of place with his ridiculous, restricting armour when he was beside four other Destrillians—the juxtaposition made her laugh, but it was drowned out by Thetis' next words.

"Don't you dare try to give me orders." The venom in that voice was nothing like the old Thetis and Idris wondered, not for the first time, what had happened between old times and now to change her so. Not for the first time, the answer struck her without effort.
The escape happened, that's what.
A sigh escaped her while Thetis shouldered past Kerr, (who, Idris wondered again, might or might not care about the hostility his 'family' was showing him at all) stopping a little while away at something Idris couldn't quite see. Everybody turned to look at her; Thetis herself turned back, addressing the metal Destrillian and the poor unstable girl beside her.

“We can escape down here; it should take us deeper into orange zone.”

Idris Savage knew what was going to happen just before it did.
"You fool!" she wanted to say. "That might not just hurt you – it could activate Derinium and kill us all!"
She only managed "You f—" before the manhole cover flew from its place and shot like a bullet across the parking lot, water spraying from the hole like a not-so-crystalline fountain. Thetis smirked. Then she fell.


Somewhere, a dog barked.

Nobody could say anything for what felt like the longest time—that is, nobody except for the Dark Rider, with whom Idris was slowly beginning to lose patience with. "That was dangerous!" he said, and then, once he'd noticed the water Destrillian's unconscious state and had rushed forward to revive her, "Oi! Wake up! Blue hair!! Hang in there!"

Idris was tempted to tell the man "her name is Thetis," but decided against it. Perhaps Thetis would not be so thankful to have her name spoken for her. Still, watching the Dark Rider try and care so heroically for a woman whose name he didn't even know made her itch to tell him to back off, as he'd no idea what he was dealing with.
Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

He was saying something to Kerr. Idris was too busy with her thoughts to notice anything apart from that the tone of voice he used was so full of surety that she could spit. It had been kind of cute at first, watching him run around trying to save everybody like he was the self-righteous, self-appointed protector of everything. But now, in the middle of a real crisis, the last thing they all needed was somebody playing hero.

“Listen up everyone, this is a special medicinal drug called Éclair Bacta Serum," he said, suddenly addressing her, too. Idris snapped out from her thoughts and focused on what was happening. The Dark Rider had some vial of something in his hand; it was pink and smelled sweet, and reminded Idris of candy and roses and poison. Her nose wrinkled imperceptibly as he continued. "It's one of my old man’s creations. I don’t know what you guys take to ease your pain, but these things will have you in tip top condition after a few minutes. If anyone’s starting to feel weak, just tell me and I’ll hand you some…"

She sighed. Playing hero again. The resemblance the stuff in the vial carried to Viola's Distrum was not a helpful factor.

"Except you," the Dark Rider intoned, pointing as viciously at Kerr as that armour would allow. "You're too dangerous to heal—I can't trust you with this."

“I’m also too clever to take drugs developed by Viola. I don’t take drugs from the same company that tried to kill all of us.” Kerr's equally acidic reply was punctuated by a stabbing point at Terra and Idris herself. “And neither am I in the habit of trusting somebody dressed in the armour and carrying the weapons of the people that created us, tortured us, and killed us, either.”
His point was a good one, and only added to the list of cons about the strange pink serum; the comment about the Dark Rider himself, Idris allowed herself to disregard. If worst came to worst, and he was working with somebody trying to take them all down, she could always crush him in an instant—what with all that metal sitting so snugly right on top of him.

Kerr's next suggestion to leave Thetis made Idris snort. It was terribly unladylike. The Dark Rider picked her up anyway, and although the heroism was getting old fast, Idris was glad to have somebody willing to carry the unconscious Destrillian down to relative safety.

“Well? Come on guys, IRIN’s not gonna wait for us to run! I’ll go in first, mind your conditions.”

He was gone before he could hear the ringing laughter that was Idris Savage.
Conditions? CONDITIONS?
It was hysterical. Out of the corner of her eye, the metal Destrillian thought she even saw Terra smile in what was a bit of a condescending way. This Dark Rider knew nothing about the pain that using power came with – in fact, if Idris was correct, he barely knew anything about being a Destrillian at all. He ran around with superhero armour on, he weakened his powers by diffusing them through electronic gadgets first, and to top it all off he didn't seem as genuinely concerned as he should be.
Not nearly as concerned as the rest of them were, anyway.

The feeling that somebody was looking at her caught her a bit off guard; more so, seeing as it was Kerr. Idris had figured the man would have followed the Dark Rider down into the sewers with silent but palpable rage, but it seemed he had something to say first—something to say to her.

“Listen to me, both of you." Like that was a problem. His eyes were, Idris remarked, the strangest she'd ever seen. Helpfully on his part, they pretty much rendered any show of emotion impossible. She resolved to figure him out yet.
“I know you have no reason to trust me, and I am not asking you to—but I’m telling you now, do not trust this stranger. Think about it. That armour is beyond regular military, not even mercenaries and PMCs are outfitted with that type of gear, and his weapons? Those are designed for a Destrillian.” The alarm he put in his voice was false, Idris could tell, but his concerns were nothing but true. “This man comes here outfitted in weapons and carrying drugs designed for Destrillians. He could only have come from Viola. We know that Viola are much more dangerous than I am. I’d watch my back around him."

And he turned and was gone, just like that. Silence reigned for a whole minute while Idris worked out what to say—what to do—next. She turned to Terra, who was still having a bit of difficulty standing. The girl couldn't possibly make it to the sewer all by herself, and Idris could feel something made of metal coming their way. Something huge.
She could also feel something else coming their way but couldn't quite place it – her mind was too full of things to do now, anyhow.



First order of business, then. Idris had felt how fragile Terra was in her telepathic voice. The last thing the poor creature needed was somebody like Kerr shaking her up with the notion of having not one but two potential enemies in their midst. It was time to set things straight.

"Terra?" she called softly, turning to face the girl. Her hair was brown now, Idris noticed, and it made her look a lot more… normal. "Terra sweetie, Kerr may or may not be right about the Dark Rider—that guy you saw with all the metal on him."



She stressed the word metal to make it a little more clear what she was getting at.



"But I know a few things about this situation we're about to get into. Firstly, Kerr wouldn't warn us about anything unless it benefited him, so I wouldn't place too much stock in his sincerity. He's weak now, but if and when he gets stronger he'll be a much bigger threat than anything else down there." She indicated the sewer a good thirty paces away, again hit with the problem that Terra couldn't make it all that way easily.

"Secondly, as for th' Dark Rider himself—I wouldn't worry too much about him." She laid her fingers carefully upon the red scarf around her neck, showing it to the girl. "I met him in a big deserted place all by myself and he did nothing to try and hurt me. He gave me a scarf. And a very self-righteous talking to. And that's it. He's got some sort of potential and he's almost flashier than I am, and he could use with a good arse-kicking to remind him that the world is, in fact, not his oyster." Her hand dropped and she moved closer to Terra in case the earth Destrillian should fall. "But that's all he is. Nothing more harmful than that, I think. And besides, if he does turn out to be a problem, a certain metal-manipulating girl will take all that pretty armour and use it to crush him."

She smiled her best smile, hoping to encourage. "Okay?"

The reply gave her hope that Terra wasn't completely unsalvageable yet.

"Thirdly, though," she said, dropping her smile, "that manhole is a good bit away and although you're doing a wonderful job using your powers to keep yourself upright, it's not going to be as easy when you try to move. I can feel things closing in on us, so we need to go now; would you mind if I helped you there, darling?"

While Terra's garbled reply came through, Idris was already thinking a few steps ahead and around. The big metal thing was almost upon them; if she looked up she was sure she would see it, whatever it was, but she kept herself from doing so for fear that it would distract her too greatly. And now that other thing was much more clear—another Destrillian.
Another Destrillian.
ANOTHER Destrillian? Idris thought. This place is just rife with them! And with everything else going on, she couldn't focus to try and decipher who it was. So she turned to Terra.
"Another one of us is coming—can you feel it?" She inhaled deeply, trying to feel the metal in the oncomer's blood, to taste it, to see if it was good or bad—no luck whatsoever. There was simply too much going on. "They might be any Destrillian we know, or maybe one we've never met. I suggest it's time to go."

Even as she carefully looped her arm around Terra's waist, Idris could tell that this was going to be a lot harder than even she expected. They managed a few paces and then they had to stop as Terra re-concentrated on staying upright. Idris decided that now, when she had used up all her plans and was now thinking for new ones, was a good time to look up.
The thing could only be described as a warship. And there could only be one place that knew they would need a warship to counter the enemy.


Idris didn't look up again. The new Destrillian was practically right around the corner.

The Gunmetal Glint twisted to face where the newcomer would appear, and hoped for the best.

Tennyo 01/29/2010 08:53 AM

Sometimes, when Emma was riding on the train that took her too and from work, the eighth Destrillian prototype would become lost in her own thoughts and tune out everyone around her. It had become a comfort as well as a necessity to try to not feel the lives of the people around her, because in such a large city as this, it could often times be overwhelmingly painful.

This was a fact that Emma had learned about herself in the four years since she and the others had left Viola. Dr. Thomas, working off of Dr. Nedews’ own theories, may have actually been right about her. She could feel the life force of every single person around her, sometimes from almost a mile off if she concentrated, and each one took its toll on her mind. Humans were far too intelligent, which made them highly complex. Each one had different thoughts, and all were feeling different emotions at all times. Some people even seemed to be feeling two things at once, perhaps feeling conflicted about whatever situation they were in. This was especially hard on Emma, at least at first, until she learned to tune them all out.

It was on this particular ride home that she found herself drifting off to sleep. Her thoughts turned to the past as she smirked to herself about the chance encounter she had had earlier today. Emma had known it was Idris, and wondered if Idris had been able to guess who she was. It seemed as if she had, but Emma played the part of a stranger on the street, clumsily bumping into another when she wasn’t paying attention. She did have to admit that she was caught quite off guard with the way the other Destrillian looked, what with long black hair that Emma didn’t think suited her. She squinted at first, trying to decide if the hair was real or a wig, but then realized what she was doing and internally reprimanded herself for being so openly rude. Not that Idris even noticed, but that wasn’t the point.

The young woman leaned her head against the window of the train and closed her eyes, falling asleep almost instantly. Withough even realizing, she found she had drifted back to a time some twelve years before to hear earliest memories.

Emma fidgeted uncomfortably in her yellow robe as she followed Natasha down the hall. She was being led to a place known as the, “Recreation Room,” where she could meet and converse with other Destrillian kids her own age. The thought of it seemed rather daunting, however. She was the newest recruit and barely had a handle on any of the things that had been thrown at her the last few days. The tests had been quite taxing on her stamina, but what affected her most was wrestling with herself over her forgotten past. Amnesia, really? Her mind was having a hard time processing the idea of the first eleven years of her life basically not existing, despite the fact that as of yet, that’s all she really knew.

The grown up stopped in front of a large metal door and smiled down at the frightened looking child. “Oh come now, Emma, this won’t be that bad,” she chimed, her heavily accented voice ringing like a bell as she tried her best to exude courage. “You’ll get to meet people and make friends. How fun is that?”

“Doctor Thomas said Destrillians don’t have friends. We can’t have them.”

Natasha sighed loudly and shook her head. “Doctor Thomas is only an assistant, and a bit overly presumptuous as well.” The scientist bent over to better look the young girl in the eye. She placed a comforting hand on the child’s shoulder before she continued. “But I’m the one in charge of you and I say go have some fun.”

As Dr. Nedews smiled brightly at her, Emma found her heart lifting a bit and smiled back. Her heavily freckled face and dimpled chubby cheeks made her quite the endearing sight. It’s a pitty she’ll loose all that when she starts combat training, the scientist thought to herself.

After a few more encouraging words the young girl found herself walking through the large metal doorway of the recreation room, Natasha’s friendly smile the last thing she saw as the door shut behind her. She turned to face the room, bracing herself for the inevitable. There were a few other kids in the room, each doing their own thing and really paying her no mind. That is until two assistants entered in and called out to one of them.

“Fiona, it’s time for your test.”

“Ah fuck, man…” came the voice of a girl with fiery red hair from the other side of the room. She made her way toward the two assistants with a huff, bumping and knocking things over as she went. Her eyes eventually fell on Emma, who was still standing near the door and was looking hopeful at perhaps having her first bit of contact with one of her peers.

It was then that a feeling of dread came over Emma. Fiona smiled at her, or maybe it was more of a sly grin. At first the more natural of the two redheads felt excited, but then she got the strangest feeling of déjà vu. People had looked at Emma that way before, but it was never good. She knew this, despite not being able to think of any instances due to her apparent amnesia.

This instance, however, is one that she would be reminded of for years to come. “What’cha lookin’ at, fatty?” the other Destrillian spat, looking highly amused at her own words. The two assistants both began to scold her as they left the room, but it didn’t seem that Fiona was even listening to them as she glanced back at Emma on the way out and chuckled.

The young plant manipulator stood frozen to the spot. She felt afraid to move because if she did, the other kids would see her and laugh as well. Emma suddenly felt herself balloon to three times her normal size, so big that even people who might actually want to ignore her would still be assaulted by her presence.

“Don’t pay attention to Fiona. She’s a bitch,” came a voice from somewhere nearby.

Emma had suddenly shrunk back down to normal size as she honed in on the origin of those words. They had come from a girl, probably only a couple years older than she was, sitting in a chair not far away. She was leaning to one side against the arm rest, her hair brushing with the oversized leaves of an exotic looking plant. She held a textbook in her lap along with a notebook and pencil which she tapped absentmindedly on the paper as she looked up at the red head with hazel eyes.

“You going to sit?” the other girl asked. Emma made a few timid steps forward to a chair that sat neatly facing the other Destrillian. As she sat, the newcomer thought to herself that this girl was quite beautiful. Her hazel eyes were offset by olive skin and hair that was a dark brown, almost black. “What’s your name?”

“Emma,” she timidly replied.

“Hi, Emma. I’m Eve,” the elder of the two smiled warmly back, outstretching her hand in a sign of friendship. Emma cautiously reached out her own and the two of them shook.


That very moment in time is one that Emma would probably never forget, and one that she sometimes looked back on with sadness and longing. Sure, her time at Viola couldn’t really be described as pleasant, but the time she spent with Eve conversing in the recreation room was. The two girls changed much over time; Emma’s red hair grew dull and her chubby visage gave way to toned muscle and agility, perfect for hand-to-hand combat. Eve changed also, her skin and hair becoming darker, and her hazel eyes became permanently dilated.

But what did not change is the friendship the two had formed from the very first day they met. Eve was older than Emma and had been in the program a couple years longer than she had, and it was because of this that Emma looked up to her as sort of a big sister. Eve was the one she went and cried to when Natasha was taken away, and later when Dr. Thomas killed some of her mice.

It was because of this that Emma had always berated herself so hard over the way events turned out. I should have never left her alone with those drones. I should have followed along. I should have been there to help her when she was in trouble.

Emma could still remember to this very day what it had been like to feel Eve die. She had felt something wrong as her and Idris tried to find their way back to the other Destrillians, and her and the Gunmetal Glint had turned tail and ran back to where they had left their friend behind, only to find her beyond saving. Even when Emma had taken the Ice Queen into her arms, she could do nothing but feel every part of her body slowly shut down as Eve offered her a candy bar she had found in a desk somewhere. One last offering of friendship, and then she was gone. Emma hadn’t been able to do anything.

Together she and Idris had managed to get Eve’s body out of Viola amongst the chaos and wreckage caused by Terra. They chose a quiet, secluded place surrounded by trees to give her a proper burial. Idris fashioned a decorative grave marker out of metal and Emma transplanted some perennial bushes that would bloom with beautiful flowers come midsummer. In addition, Idris had taken all of the bullets out of Eve’s body and fashioned them together as jewelry; a symbol of all that they had lost also what would be avenged. Emma requested one to keep, and it was placed upon a long chain for Emma to wear around her neck, a way to always remember the friend she had failed to protect.

The necklace also served as a reminder that she would have to fight harder to protect the ones she cared about. All of the escapees from the Violan incident decided that it would probably be best to split up. However, one of their number, Terra, had been rendered unable to function alone by a massive seizure and other injuries she sustained in the destruction of the Violan building where they were kept. It had been because of Terra that they were all able to escape; someone had to volunteer to take care of her, and that someone had been Emma.

It hadn’t been easy, either. Squatting in abandoned buildings, sleeping in homeless shelters, being turned down for jobs due to a lack of identification, all of it made Emma feel hopeless. Either that or it was just the emotions of the people around her that she hadn’t yet learned to tune out.

She had taken to stealing clothes from Laundromats and selling them at new and used shops whenever she got the chance. It made her feel quite guilty, yet she knew she had no other way to get by. She would also go around collecting cans from garbage dumpsters to bring to recycling plants to get money. Occasionally she would bring Terra onto the trains to sit for a couple hours. However, she never wanted to waste money on a ticket, and eventually they were caught by a ticket inspector and had to get off.

Luck seemed to turn around for Emma, however, when she caught word from someone on the street of someone she could go to for a new identity. He was a very shady guy, but after a bit of saving up Emma was able to pay. Now, armed with the means to be able to get her and Terra on their feet, Emma went out and got a job in a fast food restaurant. She was able to rent out a room in a motel for the two of them to stay in for cheep by offering to help out with the upkeep of the place.

One particular day, as the young red head was walking along the street, she came across a small flower shop with large sign that said, “Help Wanted,” hanging in a large window. Without thinking twice she went inside and began poking around. It was a wonderful feeling to be completely surrounded by flowers again. No one appeared to be in there at the moment, and so she took the opportunity to clear her head and reach out to the plants around her. They were such simplistic organisms, with no emotions or convoluted thoughts. It was a comfort to be connected and feel only life, nothing more.

“May I help you?” came a soft voice from somewhere behind her. She looked up to see an elderly woman emerging from a back room.

“Oh. I uh…I saw the sign in your window. I’d like a job here.”
Emma replied, stumbling over her words.

“Oh? A young girl like you wants a job in a flower shop?”

Emma laughed. “Oh, yes! I love flowers! They’re…they’re my life!”

The two of them then got into a lengthy conversation about the bouquets around them in the small shop. Each discussing different things about each type and proper ways to grow them. Emma had learned a lot about botany in her time in Viola, and rightly so, given her powers. Even though some of if she had a feeling she had already known from a different time. The woman seemed so impressed with Emma’s knowledge and enthusiasm that she seemed adamant to hire her on the spot.

With the addiction of a second job, and one where the pay wasn’t too terrible, Emma was able to get a small two-bedroom apartment for her and Terra to share. It was in a bit of a shady neighborhood, but it wasn’t far from a train stop so it was convenient. Terra herself was even able to find a simple job that paid in cash over somewhere near Piper street.

Piper street…

“.E…ma. Trapt on piper street. Hlp.”


Emma awoke with a start as the train pulled into a her stop. Perfect timing. But what was that? She had been dreaming, and in the way that dreams have she was quickly forgetting everything that she had just heard or seen. However she couldn’t get over the terrible notion that something was wrong.

She quickly pulled the hood of her raincoat over her head and walked briskly home to see if Terra was all right. She should be there by now.

Alex 02/05/2010 11:32 AM

=========MEANWHILE, AT THE OSEAN COURTHOUSE============

Osea’s city centre was a picture as far removed from the battlefield of the motel as it was possible to be. A sweeping landscape of white marble plazas and curved buildings made of deep azure glass and shimmering chrome. It was a maze for the average citizen to traverse the formation of courtyards and walkways to the various beautifully designed offices of high government, but one that was navigated daily by the most influential and powerful men in the country, and it had remained that way for over one thousand years since the city was first settled.

The seat of government and the most revered temples from ancient times had been built onto a high-crested, flat-topped hill surrounded on all sides by lush farmland, from there the city of Osea, and subsequently the entire nation of Artolia had spread out from, always with its government perched high above those they ruled. Over time the temples ad been converted and added onto with constructions of steel and glass, but the original classical designs, marble columns and fixtures had remained unchanged and barely weathered by the ravages of time. Many who were not used to spending their time on this citadel found it a distinctly jarring experience, this coming together of both the very ancient and the very modern. It was a stark contrast to the high rise skyscrapers of the city’s financial district that ringed the great hill, or the sprawling urban ghettos of the orange district that lay so far from the city centre that the current battle was just a blur of smoke far in the distance.

The High Courthouse was set midway up the side of the citadel and was perhaps one of its oldest and most beautiful to behold. Rectangular shaped and surrounded by two stories of enormous columns on all sides, propping up an ancient marble roof that looked unchanged since the days of antiquity. The statues adorning the four corners of the building all depicted various scenes from mythology, figures being condemned to damnation or brought to salvation by blindfolded and hooded figures. The courtyard that spread itself out in front of the building, clad in the same polished white marble as the court building and centred around an enormous statue that was almost as tall as the building itself. The statue was almost universally considered to be deeply unsettling, chiselled out of pitch black granite in the likeness of a blind, skeletally thin man, gazing skywards with sightless eyes and holding a pair of scales out with both hands in front of him. Many of those who found themselves standing trial in the high court found the macabre effigy a deeply unsettling omen of their fortune. Justice might have been blind, but the statue made it look intimidating and ominous.

The group assembled in the courtyard were starting to get restless; the loud buzz of whispers had erupted amongst the teams of lawyers and judges was reaching fever pitch. The most popular speculation for the increased military presence in the southern end of the city was that Osea had been the victim of yet another large scale terrorist attack. But that didn’t explain the faint hollow thump of cannon fire, or the aircraft carrier sized airship that was descending over the battlefield. Those with a more imaginative disposition had let their penchant for exaggerated theories get the better of them and every possibility under the sun, no matter how unlikely, was now a topic of discussion.

The only person who seemed to have nothing to say on the matter was the man who was the cause of the massive legal presence in the courthouse today. Clad in the bright orange prison jumpsuit, he was easily distinguishable amongst the small army of similarly coloured suits and various styles and colours of neatly cut greying hair. The former President of the Violan Corporation had remained stubbornly tight-lipped ever since the evacuation order had been called and he had been herded outside by an armed team of four security guards. He was the first one to make a mental note that the amount of security surrounding him at all times was overkill. With the handcuffs fastened around his wrists and ankles, moving anywhere in a hurry was a difficult task, let alone mounting an escape through one of the most heavily fortified areas of the country.

He didn’t look like the average president of one of the most powerful corporations in the world, standing at over six foot five tall, he had nearly a head’s worth of height over most of the people assembled in the courtroom. His presence was positively fearsome to behold, standing ramrod straight with the efficiency and muscular build of a trained soldier. Despite his fifty years of age, the muscles beneath his jumpsuit still looked powerful and efficient enough to beat down a man half of his size. This was of course all to be expected, Jason Spencer’s military record before he came into the acquisition of the Viola Corporation was nothing short of legendary. A former highly decorated Lieutenant Colonel, and practically regarded as a national hero. As little as ten years ago, it had been common gossip that if Mr. Spencer had decided to go into politics then he would have ascended through the ranks to lead the country faster than any man in history.

It was tough to believe that it was the same Jason Spencer that now stood trial today, the former clean cut war hero turned corporate tycoon bore little resemblance to the man he had once been. Whether it had been the spell in prison or the dramatic upheaval of his company, he now looked tired and rough around the edges. More wrinkles had formed around his eyes, and his sweeping mane of collar-length slate hair was now streaked liberally with badger stripes of white at the temples. His formerly smartly trimmed goatee was now overgrown and framed by a thick stretch of stubble along his jawline. However, despite his newfound scruffy demeanour he was still instantly recognisable from the old scar that had long since decimated the left hand side of his face. An angry dark fault line of raw scar tissue that stretched from just under his jaw, up over his left cheek and then through his eye and then branching out into two separate lines from his left eyebrow. One stretching up across his forehead to end above his nose and the second line stretching further across round the left side of his head, disappearing into the hairline on his temple. The scar, posture and the fearsome jade green eyes that stared out from beneath his ragged face were his hallmarks, and what had made his grizzled visage memorable throughout the country.

“What do you think it is?” his skinny, bespectacled lawyer turned to ask him. Spencer hadn’t even bothered to learn his name. He didn’t even bother to turn to acknowledge the little man’s question; he just continued to stare hard towards the sound of battle.

“Spencer? I they’ve given the all clear, it’s time we returned to the courtroom” a security guard with a face that looked as though it had been chiselled out of a concrete block ordered from his other side.

The former soldier gave an exasperated sigh, they seemed so eager to get back to this trial even though the verdict was already decided. He had sarcastically noted to himself that they had seemed to be taking a rather long time to announce his execution.

“Spencer? Did you hear me?” the security guard spoke more harshly, Spencer could tell that his hand had reached for the trigger of his gun.
The wind had picked up around them all of a sudden, a brief howling gust that went as quickly as it had come, blowing some of the piles of papers some of the officials had brought out with them right over the balcony of the courtyard and into the Osean skyline. The former President closed his eyes in and let the slow breeze rush past them. There wasn’t enough of that in prison, the forces of nature were so removed from his 7 by 7 foot prison cell that he was determined to savour every last second of it.

“I don’t know what it is, but it sounds like its giving the military ten kinds of hell” He didn’t bother disguise the wry smile on his face or the contempt he felt for his security guards, deliberately turning to face the lawyer that had asked him the question and letting the guard give his next order to his shoulder if he so pleased.

“Mr. Spencer I have to insist that-“

“Come on, we’re going back inside now. I want to get this over with” his gruff voice gave the order swiftly, overriding guard and reminding him that he was letting himself be ordered around by these men. Even though he was in no position to do anything to the contrary, it was nearly impossible to deny the sovereign quality that seemed to exude from the man. He had been married to the company for so long that it was no longer possible to separate the commanding authority from the man. It didn’t take long at his shuffling pace, for his team of security guards to assemble around him on all sides to escort him between the columns and through the large black doors at the front of the courthouse. The next few minutes were little more than a blur, as the crowd bustled through the stark marble white corridors into the large circular chamber that the high court had been using to conduct the trial and Spencer made his way to the raised seat in the very centre of the room. Facing the judges and with his back to the attorneys and witnesses that were filing into the rows behind him. It was most reminiscent of an amphitheatre; Spencer had thought drily, the high justices were on the stage looking down at him as he sat solitary in the orchestra pit, facing judgement from those all around him.

“Now, after that commotion, shall we resume where we left off?” the Chief Justice. The man sitting directly in front of him. Tradition dictated that judges in Artolia wore the hoods of their black ceremonial robes up, cloaking their masks in shadow. The whole building and farcical nature of this trial was so steeped in tradition it was past the point of absurdity, Spencer couldn’t help but think to himself. In any sane country he’d have been taken outside and gunned down by a firing squad in less than half an hour after the charges had been read. Instead the whole affair of bringing him to court, presenting evidence from what and who remained of his former company had taken five years. They already had enough evidence to give him the death penalty three or four times over already. The whole thing was a joke.

The cowl of the Chief Justice twitched, apparently impatient with the bored look on the accused’s face. “Does the accused have anything to say in their defence before we hear from your lawyer about that last charge”

Spencer let the silence linger just long enough to let them know it was a clear act of insubordination. “Nothing except to remind you all that this is getting rather tedious” he said tiredly whilst staring, apparently fascinated by a mole on the lower lip of the Chief Justice.

“One more snide remark Mr. Spencer and I will be forced to hold you in contempt of this court. Is that understood?” his voice was thin and raspy. Spencer kept his expression vacant and his eyes fixated at anywhere but the judges.

“Chief Justice Walther!” an urgent voice pierced the suffocating drawn-out silence.

“Yes, what is it now?” the Chief Justice asked impatiently. One interruption had already cost him nearly an hour of his day, and that was because it could have potentially been a threat. This distraction seemed to carry far less weight.

Even Jason had turned around to look at this latest development to this dull proceeding. The interruption was less than satisfying to say the least, another skinny man in a smart brown suit was hurrying down the central aisleway, descending to the centre and jogging past Spencer, who barely caught a glance at the man’s panicked expression and a large bulging folder underneath his arm. Something was up, and for the first time the events in the trial had snared his attention.

Whatever this new analyst had discovered was certainly something of ground-breaking importance for the trial. He exchanged a hushed and frantic series of whispers with the Chief Justice, pointing erratically and flicking through dozens of pages in the enormous document. The hood obscured the reaction of the judge, but Spencer was a good enough judge of people to tell that the man deciding his fate was torn somewhere between shock and disbelief.

“Tell me, if you would Mr. Spencer” the new arrival hurried to the side and out of the eyeline of the two men. “About the nature of the Destrillian Project” his voice was grave and hollow, as though he was still coming to terms with the nature of the information he had just read.

A wide grin crept over Spencer’s face as he looked at the panel of five judges facing him, each one taking it in turns to read various documents from the extensive file. As far as the final nail in his coffin went, the Destrillian project would certainly prove to be a lively and interesting end to the trial. Although with the information he was about to impart to them, he was sure whatever slim chance he would have had of leaving the trial without the death penalty would depart for good.

So be it.

“What would you like to know?”
he asked, not hiding the bold confidence in his voice.

It always came down to Destrillians after all.

NoenGaruth 02/09/2010 12:14 PM

Darkness.....nothing but darkness as far as one could see....
This place....what is this? Where am I? Who am I? These are questions I am unable to answer....
It seems like this darkness goes on forever.....I feel so alone, and yet.....it also feels so crowded here... but still, I see no one....not a thing....except darkness... Is there no one out there? Can no one hear me? Please someone answer me....

I can hear you.

The figure in the darkness searched around in confusion, seeking for the source of the voice. They called out again into the great expanse.
What is this? Who is this? Is somebody there?

Suddenly, they saw a light appear, the light shone brightly and looked so warm and safe. Reaching out in the darkness towards the light, they addressed the light.
Hello? Can you help me? I'm so scared and confused, this place is cold, I don't want to be here anymore.....can you take me away from here? Please....

There was a short pause, then the light fluctuated and replied.
Of course I can, It's very simple actually. All you have to do is take my hand, here. A glowing white hand extended from the light and reached for the figure, beckoning for them to take it.

The figure then began to start raising their arm up to the glowing figure, this is where hope would be felt if one could feel anything but coldness here, soon they would be safe.....safe....safe? Wait, something wasn't right here, something just suddenly felt wrong about the whole thing.....why was it that out of the blue suddenly this light appears offering salvation and everything the figure was seeking, it just didn't add up. So the figure stopped and withdrew their hand.

The light seemed angered by this action due to the way it suddenly glowed brighter.
Why did you stop? Do you not want to be saved from this eternal void of darkness? This emptiness? This everlasting coldness?

The figure was at a loss of words, they just had this sudden stabbing feeling that the light was bad and they must stay away from it.
I....I can't. You offer salvation but I can sense something else behind you motive, I don't know what it is but every fiber of my being is telling me to not go with you.

The light paused for a moment, as though contemplating the figure's words, then replied.
I see...then I guess I'm going to have to do this the hard way....

And with those words the light disappeared, and once again there was nothing. Was it gone now? Were they safe?

WRONG.
A voice boomed so loud it felt as though it was piercing the figure's very soul. Then a rumbling sound could be heard, slowly getting louder and louder. The figure looked around desperately for an answer to what was happening, and then it appeared.

Out of the darkness suddenly a massive eye began to open, it seemed to be greater than any mountain or building, but then again, size was of no meaning here in the darkness. The figure had an instinct to tremble in fear, but alas, that was another thing they were incapable of doing here.

Once the eye had fully opened, the figure could see all sorts of intricate patterns in the eye, however the eyeball itself was a blank white, but nevertheless they still felt like it was looking right at them. Then a voice emitted from the eye...more like....many voices, so many you couldn't distinguish any, all talking at once.

You were foolish you think you had a choice here to begin with. What I desire is all that matters, what I desire is all that will happen. You will comply since you have no other option but to submit to my will.


No! I won't! I don't know how I'll do it but I'll resist you no matter what!




The eye seemed almost amused, and laughed at the tiny figure before it.

HOHOHO! And what can a little speck like you possibly do? You don't even know who you are, let alone what I am or of the immense power I possess here. No....you can do nothing. And now I tire of your insignificant defiance....Prepare to become part of me.

The white eyeball then proceeded to slowly spin around, revealing a ying-yang symbol, and now began to descend towards the tiny figure who desperately tried to scramble away, yet could not, no matter how hard they tried they could not escape from it, and the eye began to close around them.

STOP! PLEASE! LEAVE ME ALONE! I DON'T WANT TO BE PART OF YOU!

However their pleas went unheard, and the eye completely closed around them, and they were now surrounded by crimson, almost as if this new place was nothing but blood. The figure could feel everything now, and the one thing that stood out from everything else was absolute terror, not a fear of death, no something far, far worse. It now felt as though danger was everywhere here, and so the figure was turning in every direction, waiting for whatever would appear.....and then they were confronted face to face with another figure, which was shrouded in shadow, except for one thing - bright glowing red eyes. But then something else also stood out, the body shape of the shadow in front of them, causing the figure to say...

A girl?

The Shadow then grabbed the figure by the throat, and sharply grinned.

You're mine.

Tennyo 02/11/2010 06:10 PM

The high pitched squeaking of rubber boots on tile could be heard echoing through the lobby as Emma entered the doors and made her way over to the elevator, a trail of tiny puddles forming in her wake. It was an old building she lived in; a relic of a richer time in which the neighborhood had been much better off. However nowadays everything around the area had begun to fall into disrepair, as was evident in the cracked plaster on the walls and ceiling and the, “Out of Order,” sign that was taped to the elevator door. The young redhead frowned and entered the stairwell.

An old rusty metal door creaked loudly as she entered the stairwell, her footsteps echoing off the concrete walls as she made her way up the two flights of stairs it took to get to her and Terra’s apartment. The muffled bass of a stereo could be heard from another apartment somewhere down the hallway as she opened the door for the second floor and entered. The carpeting in the hallway was light blue and dirty, the occasional stain of someone’s spilled drink proceeding Emma as she walked the few feet to her home.

Upon entering the apartment Emma quickly shut the door and leaned against it, heaving a large sigh as she was glad her day was finally over. Very groggily she removed her yellow raincoat and hung it up on a hook on the wall to dry. She also carefully unwrapped the floral print scarf she had wrapped around her head to keep her hair from becoming frizzy and out of control in the rain.

As she kicked off her galoshes and set her nicer shoes she wore while she worked at the floral shop in the front closet she looked off in the direction of Terra’s room and frowned; the earth Destrillian wasn’t home yet. This had Emma worried, however she didn’t want to automatically jump to conclusions right away. For all she knew it could be nothing. It wouldn’t be the first time she got worked up over Terra for no reason.

There was a light flashing on the beat up, practically antique answering machine Emma had found at a thrift store, indicating a new message. She pressed play and smiled at what she heard. “Hey, Beautiful! It’s Chris. Ring me back!”

This had been something that Emma discovered about herself in the four years since the escape from Viola that she had never expected; guys seemed to like her. First there was a guy named Gary who randomly came up and started talking to her while she and Terra waited on platform for a train a while back when they were still homeless. He then proceeded to follow them on and sit near them, continuing to talk. Emma didn’t realize at first that the man was flirting since it had never happened to her before, and she didn’t quite know how to respond. However a few stops down she spotted a ticket inspector on the platform as the train came to a stop, so she had to excuse herself and quickly escort Terra off the train.

When Emma had gotten her new identity as Christina and started to work at the fast food restaurant she met Robert, a slightly chubby man in his late twenties who liked to be called, “Crazy Uncle Bob.” He whistled the very first time she was introduced to the staff by their manager. It seemed that Uncle Bob liked all pretty girls, and often liked to comment on the posterior of one of their coworkers.

Now she wasn’t an expert on the matter, yet somehow Emma knew that you just didn’t say such things to girls. When Emma discreetly asked her coworker, whose name was Riese, about it later the girl just smiled and said, “Oh Chrissy, you’re so cute and innocent.”

Her words took Emma a bit by surprise. Considering the fact that the Destrillian could probably kill them all in an instant without even having to use her powers had always made Emma feel as far away from innocent as was possible to get. Yet maybe there was some truth to the idea. Years of being locked up in Viola had left Emma without much knowledge of the intricate workings of a more mundane existence. To the average person she must appear to be like a child. It was an odd idea to get used to, but Emma decided to run with it. Who would ever suspect humble, innocent Christina to be an escaped super-human weapon on the run from the government?

It was during this period that the young redhead and her now-brunette charge, for Emma had helped Terra dye her green hair brown, were living at the motel. It was a very unpleasant experience for the most part, not because she hated the room or because she hated helping out around the place, but because different people were coming and going all the time, and their emotions were really having a negative effect on how Emma was able to sleep. One night in particular Emma found herself awoken so harshly that she cried out in surprise. Terra had woken up at the sound and was staring at her, but Emma just sat in her small bed and said nothing, simply twisting her hands together as she tried to make sense of the intense rush she was feeling from the couple in the room next to them. It made her think back to a long conversation she had once had with Natasha about men and women and some of the finer points that marked a relationship between them.

Emma was about to get a harsh lesson in reality, however. As she went on working at the restaurant there was one customer in particular who liked to come in a few times a week. His name was Sammi and he had dark hair, tanned skin, and a highly charismatic demeanor. He was probably the first person Emma ever felt attracted to in her life, and it made her feel excited. He always made a point of going through Emma’s line and, if there wasn’t anyone waiting behind him, he liked to chat her up. Of course Emma decided that this was probably what real life was like and so she did her best to try to show her interest in a subtle manner. Eventually Sammi asked her out and she said yes.

The two went on a simple date of dinner and a movie at first, hanging out a bit outside of the restaurant and generally just getting to know each other. After around a month had gone by they were alone in Sammi’s apartment when his emotional state suddenly reminded Emma of the couple in the room adjacent to her’s at the motel. One thing led to another and the girl let it happen, at first thinking this was the most wonderful thing that could have ever happened to her, then later no longer feeling quite so sure. Afterwards Sammi seemed a little different, and for the first time in years she couldn’t read the emotions of the person she was with; his life energy pulsating in a way she had never felt before.

The next few weeks brought the answer to her puzzlement like a slap in the face. Sammi stopped coming into the restaurant and never answered his phone when the young redhead called. She asked Riese one night after work and the human just sighed. “Chrissy, hun, I think you just got dumped,” was what she said. However she agreed to accompany Emma to a place where they knew he would probably be with his friends, and sure enough they found him.

Upon confronting him about his actions all Sammi could do was smile and say, “You just turned out to not be my type is all.” He then laughed, as did his friends, and Emma kneed him in the crotch. As he was doubled over in pain the Destrillian brought her fist to his head in an uppercut and knocked him backwards: it was all she could do to keep herself from unleashing her full potential on him.

“You couldn’t tell me to my face? You had to run away and hide? You are a fucking coward!” she screamed, glaring down at his shocked face. Emma did not swear much, in fact she had no memory of ever saying anything so foul in her life, but at that moment it felt better than the last night she had spent with the creep. The red head quickly turned on her heel and stormed out, leaving both Sammi and his friends staring in shock.

Riese, however, could hardly contain her laughter. “Wow, Sammi, you are such a pussy,” she said before leaving.

Not long after this Emma got the job at the floral shop and her and Terra were able to move out of the hotel and into their current apartment. Emma stayed on at the restaurant on weekends, and her and Riese still talked and sometimes hung out. In fact it was this new found friend that encouraged the Destrillian to not let the Sammi escapade ruin her outlook on men. Sure there were plenty of assholes, but there were also a few great guys, too.

One such “great guy” turned out to be Christopher Nolan, the grandson of the woman who owned the flower shop. He was working there delivering orders to customers as he went to college on the other side of town. Obviously under the impression that Emma’s alias was her true name, he only ever called her, “Tina,” or, “Beautiful,” claiming that to call her anything else would be too much like his own name, and hence slightly creepy. The energy he gave off reminded her a bit of what Sammi was like when he first started flirting with her at the restaurant. This feeling made Emma feel cautious, and she fought hard to feign disinterest. A good three months went by until one day she found herself trapped between the delivery van and Chris as the young man chatted away happily to her about a TV show they both liked to watch. As Emma quickly excuse herself Chris called out to her.

“Hey Tina, you doing anything tonight?”

“Well, I have to cook dinner for my sister and I and also do some laundry, so, yeah, I guess so.”

“What about tomorrow?”

“Uh… I guess I don’t know. I haven’t planned that far ahead. Why?” of course Emma knew why, but maybe if she feigned ignorance it would somehow make the situation less awkward.

“We should hang out. Or, more like go out,” he replied.

Oh crap it’s not working….


“Well, we hang out at work, don’t we?”

What kind of question is that, Emma? Geez…


“I mean like, a date. You know, dinner, a movie if you want to be predictable. Or something else if you want to be adventurous?”

Emma couldn’t help but laugh at that last comment. “Adventurous?”

“Yeah, how about it?”

The girl diverted her blue eyes as she felt herself blush. She wanted so badly for this to not be happening, yet she couldn’t deny the flattery. “I’ll look into it and let you know at work tomorrow if I’m free.”

“Not what I was hoping for but I’ll take it,”
he said, climbing into the van. “See ya tomorrow.”

That night Emma called Riese and told her what happened. Riese told her she would be an idiot if she said no, so Emma decided to give this guy a try and see if he was any better than the last.

As it turned out, Christopher was much better than Sammi. He was very kind, and told some fairly lame jokes. It was rather endearing, actually. She was loathe to admit it, but Emma was actually having fun. At the end of the night he gave her a gentle kiss outside of her apartment building, then wished her goodnight. So far so good, but Emma didn’t want to get her hopes up.

That first date with Chris led to many others, and it was now almost two years later and they were still together. Chris finished college and now worked a real job, but he remained in the city and still helped out his grandmother every once in a while. Most of all, though, he still saw Emma whenever he had the chance.

The Destrillian smiled to herself as she set a pot of water on the stove. When it had come to a boil she poured it into a white mug with a half rubbed-off image of some cartoon character on the outside and steeped a bag of tea in it. After taking a small carrot out of the fridge she walked over to cage that sat on an old table and peered inside. A fluffy albino mouse, bigger than most but still a tiny creature, blinked up at her with red eyes, his nose twitching.

“Hey there, Squeak! Have a nice day?” The girl stuck her hand into the cage and picked the mouse up. She then set him on her shoulder where he happily perched without question.

Squeak, as he was so affectionately called, was one of the mice from the Viola basement facility. Emma had ducked into the room where they were kept with a couple of her peers to gather supplies. The sight of her little loves made her heart ache at the thought of leaving them all behind, but what was she to do? She couldn’t escape with them all, nor did she even know how she would care for them. They would die if they went with her, yet at the same time she knew they would die if she left them. Either way there was no choice; it was just a harsh reality.

However there was one mouse that was different than the others. One that Emma had raised herself per Natasha’s instruction. Emma thought it was a fun project, but in reality it had been a small, secret experiment that not even Dr. Thomas knew about. The mouse grew larger than average and seemed to respond to Emma much in the way that a dog would its master. It was quite the interesting occurrence. Emma decided that if she could just save one or her mice, it would be little Squeak since she knew he would be intelligent enough to go along with it.

Upon her recollection, the Destillian then sat down on the couch with her mouse on her shoulder and gave him a carrot, then turned on the TV, and picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey Chris, it’s me.”

“Hey Beautiful, what’s up?”

“Just got home from work, you called?”

“Yeah! Remember that concert you wanted to go to tonight?”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“A buddy of mine has tickets but he can’t go anymore ‘cause he’s sick. He says he’ll give ‘em to me for only half of what he paid for. Wanna go?”

Emma jumped up and practically squealed with delight, causing the rodent on her shoulder to drop the last bits of his carrot and squeak indignantly, but Emma paid him no minde. “You kidding? Of course I want to go!”

“Tickets are in the nosebleed section but beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

“Nah, that’s okay, at least we’ll…” she suddenly found the words had been cut out as a terrible surge of energy washed over her. Someone had died. No, many people had just died all at once. Emma let down her barricade she had built up around her and to her horror she could feel, off in the distance somewhere in the city, an immense amount of power being used. Destrillian power.

It was then that Emma noticed what was being shown on the TV. The news had interrupted with a special bulletin about a possible terrorist attack in the city.

“Tina?”

“Chris, turn on channel five.”

A minute went by, and then, “Whoa, what’s going on?”

“That’s…that’s not far from where Terra works,” she whispered, mostly only to herself.

“Terra? Who’s Terra?”

“Chris I got to go.”

“What? Hey, Tina, you okay?”

“I don’t think I’m going to make the concert tonight. But you can find someone else to go with you.”

“Wait a minute, why the sudden change?”

“Chris, Ter…Tabitha isn’t home yet, and this is happening near where she works.”

“Seriously? Well wait there! I’m coming over!”

“No, Chris, don’t come over. I’ll call you later.”

“What are you gonna do?”

“Bye Chris.”

“Tina wait a se…” Emma didn’t hear the end of his sentence as she quickly hung up the phone.

Without even turning off the TV or putting her tea away, Emma jumped up from the couch. She hurriedly put on her rain coat, slung a duffle bag she kept for emergencies over her shoulder, jumped into her galoshes, and ran out the door, little Squeak hanging on for dear life, as she ran.

Alessa Gillespie 02/14/2010 04:43 AM

---TWENTY FOUR HOURS PRIOR---

If there was one thing that Brent Michaels had felt proud of, it was the fact that he’d joined the army. Though every day since her disappearance, he’d felt guilt over the disappearance of his sister, when he finally appeared old enough to join, he was finally able to enter, he could make enough money for his siblings, he was able to actually buy a house for them. Moreover, without the army, he wouldn’t have been able to find his wife, Jeorgia. Hell, he’d even been promoted to sergeant. What hadn’t he been able to achieve with it?

When he was called by his superior, he thought very little of it at the time. Certainly, he was on leave with his wife from the job for her maternity, but perhaps there was something they needed to ask that only he could answer, such as who was in charge of latrine duty that had managed to muck it up so terribly(clearly Reynolds). He hoped his wife would be okay without him coming along to the doctor’s. She of all people should have understood how demanding commanding officers could be. Hell, maybe if it didn’t take too long, he’d be able to show up at the tail end of it.

He approached the office of his superior, taking a deep breath. He liked him well enough, he was a good man, but being called to ask questions always made him feel like a school child called up by the principal. When he’d get in there, he’d probably just give him his typical smile and start chatting him up about Jeorgia. Finally mustering the courage, he opened the door, where he saw his superior sitting and apparently reading a report. “Commander, you called?” Brent asked dully.

Johnson looked up from his report and motioned to a chair across from his desk. “Sit. No need to look so uneasy. I just wanted to ask about your family.” He assumed that he meant his wife and their growing child. Although surprised he’d be concerned about them, he was more than excited to tell him how they’d been, how he was building a crib for their child, and all of that. But this apparently was not the case. “How many brothers and sisters did you say you had?”

“Oh. Well, two, sir. Is something wrong with them?” He asked, his eyebrows shooting to the ceiling. He hadn’t heard from either of them in a week, but that was normal, they were grown with families and business all their own. He was planning on calling them today, in fact.

The Commander shook his head. “No, no, nothing like what you’re assuming. What did you say their names were again?”

“Glen and Carey. Glen Michaels and Carey Peppers, now, I believe,” He wasn’t certain why Fred Johnson was asking him, he should have had that sort of information on his files. Certainly not something he’d call him away from his vacation for. Something was off about the situation, although he couldn’t say exactly what it was. It seemed like his superior was trying to trip him up, or spill some information, but that didn’t make any sense. What would he know that the other man wouldn’t?

He shifted in his chair a little, leaning forward. His eyes seemed especially piercing as he asked him a question. “Would the name ‘Terra Michaels’ mean anything to you?”

His breath caught in his throat, and Brent brought up a hand to run through his sandy buzzcut. He knew about the sister he’d kicked out, the sister that he’d been pretending didn’t exist for the longest time. But they couldn’t punish him for getting mad at her and kicking her out, right? He’d only been 13 at the time, and he was so frustrated with how she’d been acting. He’d assumed she was going to come straight back home after a good cry, and was shocked and horrified when she hadn’t. Though, his sister’s name wasn’t pronounced like that, she was the only one who would have called herself that. The girl he’d accidentally let die was ‘Tara Michaels’ not ‘Terra Michaels’. Did this mean they had found her? Was she okay, then? His heart started to pound in his chest. He did the only thing he could in that situation, he told the truth. Well, most of it, anyways. “I had a sister by the name Tara, yeah. B-but she ran off into the desert as a child and I always assumed she died.”

This was apparently information the Commander had been looking for. Something in his eyes flashed, and he looked like a wolf on the attack. “Are you certain? You are her brother, after all. You wouldn’t happen to be keeping her with your wife and your baby, correct? Because you know as well as I do how dangerous such a situation would be.”

His eyebrows knotted in confusion. Brent had just told him that his sister had died as far as he was aware. Why would it matter if she wasn’t dead and he happened to give her shelter for a moment? Had she become a dangerous criminal while he was trying to keep the family afloat? Finally, he asked, “Why would she have been a danger? Isn’t she dead? There’s no way someone could have survived the desert for such a long while.”

Johnson visibly frowned. Apparently, he had not answered his question in a manner that he’d hoped for. His eyes flicked back to the papers in his hand, then went back to staring intensely at the young sergeant. “Your sister, this ‘Tara Michaels’ as you called her? Is a very dangerous criminal to the government of Artolia. I think if you ever happened to come in contact with her, it’d be best to inform either myself or even General-Brigadeer Ross. Am I clear?”

This was a lot to take in within the span of a few seconds. His sister was not only alive, but she was some sort of dangerous criminal? That pipsqueak was now somehow someone not to be messed with, someone who’d somehow harmed Artolia? But he didn’t want to seem suspicious for not responding either. Certainly, he wasn’t planning on helping someone who might harm Jeorgie, especially since she was now carrying their child. He nodded to his commander, blinking his dark brown eyes while he said, “Crystal, sir.”

His expression softened. Now, he was returning to that kind, old commander that Brent was used to. “Good. I’m glad we had this little chat, and good to know you’re on our side, Michaels. Tell Jeorgie I can’t wait to see your kid.” Brent relaxed slightly and nodded. At least this had managed to get all cleared up. “Well, dismissed, soldier.”

Brent left the room in a daze. His sister was still alive, he hadn’t killed her after all. It was unlikely that she was particularly happy with him, but she was alive, and he’d never harmed her in any way. It was a relief to know that his burden had suddenly been lifted, after all of those years of guilt. His mobile phone started to ring in his pocket, and he hurried to grab it. “H-hello? This is Brent Michaels speaking.”

“The hell did you go, dear? I already finished with the exam and I was hoping you’d actually be there,” The voice of his agitated wife demanded over the telephone. The pregnancy had already left her emotions at the end of a very thin thread, and this seemed to be burning the last of it merrily away until she reached total breakdown.

He frowned, mumbling his apologies to his wife, finally offering her an explanation as to why he’d been missing. “Sorry, Commander Johnson called me in. I’m so sorry I missed your appointment.”

The sound of her sucking in a breath was audible even over the phone. She’d been called in a couple of times, and for her, neither of them had ended up well. The first time, she'd nearly gotten a demerit, and the second time lead to her nearly getting kicked out of the army. “Anything up? Shit, if I’d known, I would have asked Dr. Valencia to put it off an hour or two.”

“No, no, everything went fine. Nothing to worry about at all. He just had some information on some family I haven’t talked to for a while and he wanted to tell me about what he’d come across in person rather than over the phone,” She didn’t need the extra stress of knowing that that family member was the little sister he’d been convinced he’d let die and that she was apparently some sort of psychopath who might kill without a moment’s notice. After all, they had a kid that they needed to keep in mind, and he wanted to keep her as relaxed as was possible.

“Alright. That’s sort of surprising; normally he doesn’t care too much what he says over the phone. But we can talk more about it when you get home. My feet are horrifically sore.” She said, not-so-subtly hinting at a foot rub. Though he knew she couldn’t see it, he smiled. He adored her, even when she was upset like this.

“Promise. I’ll see you in a bit, Jeorgie. Love you,”

“Love you too, you absolute dork.” She hung up on him and he sighed. At least nothing too eventful had occurred, and he’d still be able to make his wife at least a little happy. He got into his car and turned the key, her beautiful smile carved into his mind.

Bex 02/14/2010 07:16 PM

MEANWHILE, TWELVE YEARS IN THE PAST (???)
----------------------------
Alison Perkins knew today was going to be a bad day.
For starters, she had stubbed her toe on the wheel of her car, forgotten her glasses and was wearing odd socks. She had also been assigned a new role in the company today, namely a supervisor in the Destrillian Project that everyone in the genetic engineering department had been raving about.
Today the Destrillians would awaken from their induced sleep of two years, fully functional and imbued with revolutionary abilities.
And Alison Perkins hadn’t even had her coffee yet.

From what the Doctor had seen from the file of Prototype #006 (she had been told to call her that), the child appeared to be thoroughly unremarkable. Waiflike. Rosy-cheeked. A gap-toothed smile. Sapphire eyes that shone with secrets. The subject’s uncanny likeness to the poster children of the Osean government had been a constant source of darkly ironic humour to the project’s scientists, as had her original name. Thetis Lucina Alcesteos. Alison Perkins rolled the name around on her tongue like boiled candy. As she could control water, #006’s name seemed to have been prudently contrived. Typically Violan- the Doctor had thought- always attempting to pin significance onto something entirely coincidental. It was dizzying to think of this girl’s potential, the mutation they had created in her DNA had had been successfully welded to the existing structure. She had unmatched strength, she could communicate through her mind, and she had the ability to control water. There had been no hitches.
Well, in prototype #006’s case, at least.

She was a little bit nervous. The tapping of heels on the industrial steel floor echoed as she was escorted through basement level two by a pair of Kevlar clad security guards. They halted outside a consultation room. Room 22. The head of the memory modification unit had advised Alison Perkins not to be taken aback when she met the prototype. It would be, he had warned, slightly surreal. She would be entirely responsible for the development of this child; this weapon. If #006’s growth fell short of expectations, the consequences would be severe. The doctor remembered how he had stressed that word. Severe. Alison Perkins steeled herself as the door was pushed open.

The girl seemed to blend into her surroundings.
#006 was sat on a Plexiglas chair in the centre of the room. Her shaking knees and knobbly ankles were clamped tightly together, her pale face fixed on her toes, which curled under the intense scrutiny. Bony fingers picked at the seams of a simple white hospital gown, while her left arm hung quite lifelessly by the arm-rest of the chair, riddled with needles attached by sparse pieces of surgical tape. Her hair was unpalatable in the context of her surroundings. It had not yet been cut, and reached the small of her back, while her white fringe hung around her face like curtain. It’s far too blue, Alison Perkins had thought. She was right – the colour bled into the bland decor like a flower sprouting through a blanket of snow. The prototype’s mouth opened and closed, her lips mouthing soundless words as yellow eyes roved the floor, searching for answers to questions that she would never understand. The Doctor felt a pang of guilt. #006 was just a husk, a shell that had no idea how valuable she was. The Destrillians were vessels that housed the next step of evolution.

Disembodied words floated through Alison Perkins’ subconscious.
Am I dead? So heavy... Where am I? Here. I don’t like it. I don’t like it here.
I don’t like it here.
I don’t like it here.

These dribbles of thought, ghostly whispers in dead silence echoed in the back of the Doctor’s mind. She knew of the Destrillian’s telepathy, but it didn’t seem as if #006 had even realised she possessed such a gift.
“Number Six!” The doctor felt a small sense of satisfaction as the child flinched at her words, and no sooner had the prototype’s saucepan eyes met her hardened green ones did the voices stop. The child’s mouth lolled into a gut-wrenchingly innocent smile as her eyes welled with tears.
“Nhuum-bur Si-cksssss?” The prototype’s voice faltered with gratitude. “Isthatmyname?” She spoke quickly, as if she was worried her voice would die as it floated through the silence. Dr. Perkins’ original apprehension had been replaced by a feeling of empowerment. The head of department was right. Prototype Six been surrendered to her entirely.

The fevered whispering returned.
Number Six. Number six. Number Six.
It carried on like a broken record that was stuck on repeat. For the next step in human evolution, the Water Destrillian certainly was pathetic. It was beginning to get on the Doctor’s nerves. Perhaps it had been ill-advised to use children as prototype models. After all, children were just too... difficult.

An outburst from the blue-haired experiment brought Alison Perkins plummeting back to earth.
“What-is-your-name? What-is-your-name? What-is-your-name?” Each syllable was punctuated with vigour, each word smeared together in an oddly lyrical fashion, an echo of a nursery rhyme she had been forced to forget.

“You will call me Dr. Perkins,” A single curt response, and #006’s enthusiasm was dead in the water. She hung her head and returned to fiddling with one of the IV needles in her arm. The Doctor sighed indignantly, and the pair of security guards shuffled awkwardly beside her. #006 was 10 years old – too immature to be an asset, yet too valuable to terminate. She wondered if the other Destrillians were behaving in the same way.
Probably.

Alison Perkins walked towards her subject, firmly plucking the experiment’s grip from the seam of the hospital gown before taking a pulse. The prototype’s veins swelled through her translucent skin, which was as uncomfortably clammy to the touch, as was the persistent throbbing of her pulse. Upon closer inspection, her right arm was patched with bruises from the various apparatus which had been implanted into her flesh.
“How are you feeling, Number Six?” The doctor spoke coolly as she withdrew her fingers from the prototype’s wrist, bending her knees so she could lock her steely gaze on the prototype in order to fully affirm her authority. #006’s eyes darted from left to right, as if she were trying to make sense of a jigsaw puzzle with no pieces. It made the Doctor feel distinctly nervous.

“L-L-L,”Her brow furrowed as she searched for the words. “L-L-LLLLLLLLLLLL.....L-Like. Like. Like....” The girl shook her head furiously and began to chew on her bottom lip. The head of memory modification had told the young doctor about this. The memory wipe process wasn’t fussy or selective. It would sometimes take away other things at random. In this case, it had caused decay in #006’s lexical ability. It could be fixed of course, and like everything else, it would be in time.

Alison Perkins glared and rose to her feet. She glanced at her watch, before once again looking at the pitiable child. The girl began to cry, taking great gulps of air as mucus dribbled from her nose.
“Well. I am disappointed,” Her words stung like winter frost. If the prototype couldn’t understand her vocabulary, she would definitely recognise the tone.

“I. DON’T LIKE, IT. HERE.” Prototype #006’s voice was shrill, and her speech fractured. The plastic chair screeched across the floor as the experiment attempted to stand up – only for her legs to instantly give way. To her credit, the subject hadn’t used them in two years. As #006 crashed to the ground, the pair of security guards instantly trained their weapons on the Doctor’s charge. It was almost embarrassing how she was so desperate for acceptance, Dr. Perkins thought as anger rose in her chest. She felt humiliated by this public revolt in her area of jurisdiction. Kneeling by the prototype’s crumpled frame, Alison Perkins placed her slender finger under #006’s chin, lifting the tear-stained face to hers. The Doctor smiled wryly, sickly sweet words flowing through her lips like poison.
“Why wouldn’t you like it? This is your home, after all.”

-----------------
MEANWHILE, IN THE PRESENT
-----------------

Alison Perkins was woken from her nap by the swoosh of sliding doors. The evening commute was the perfect time for reminiscing. She did miss them, the glory days, the ten years during which she was on the vanguard of scientific progress. Maybe Viola had been a little misguided in their actions. They had broken the rules. They had crossed into forbidden territory. They had broken the laws that made humans human. Such transgressions were sometimes necessary, however. It had always been exciting, always fulfilling. The Doctor had thoroughly enjoyed her position, and, despite her charge being slightly subpar, Alison Perkins was proud of her achievements. The light from the plasma screens in the subway car made her squint.
'We interrupt your current transmission to bring you this urgent development in the trial of former Viola Corporation CEO, Jason Spencer...'
‘You reap what you sow,’ the Doctor muttered under her breath, as if she had nothing to do with the sowing and the reaping. The woman on the television shuffled her papers as she prepared to give the report in her trim-suit-reading-aloud voice. A montage of familiar mug shots scrolled across the screen, and Alison Perkins’ mouth crinkled into a smile

“They are called Destrillians,” The newsreader’s voice rang with a tinge of urgency through the carriage, which had fallen silent. “Once children, they were kidnapped from their homes and transformed into human weapons. Trained by Viola Corporation and held for over ten years, through advances in genetic engineering these ‘Prototypes’ have been granted super-human strength and the ability to communicate via thought. They can even manipulate the very elements around them. During today’s trial, files detailing the ‘Destrillian Project’ were presented as evidence at the trial of Jason Spencer. Containing records of heinous experiments, violation of medical ethics, as well as several counts of murder, this last minute discovery represents the final nail in the coffin for the former Violan CEO. He has now been found guilty on charges of crimes against humanity, and will be executed via lethal injection at a later date. When questioned upon the reasoning behind the project, Mr. Spencer was reported to simply state, “Because we could.””

“It is furthered believed,”
the voice continued “that the surviving Destrillian prototypes have links with terrorist groups throughout Artolia, and are responsible for the incident at St. Raphael’s Hospital, amongst various others. Recent images imply that a number of Destrillian prototypes are currently involved in the attack on an orange zone motel, with UAV images providing near perfect matches to several Prototype images revealed in today’s files. Identified prototypes are as follows...” Images and text flashed up on the screen, each prototype profiled with a pair of photographs – their original file mug shot and a blurred image taken from the wreckage of the motel. Alison Perkins named them all in her head as their pictures glared from the screen. #011... #009... #003... A vigilante playing dress up...? The Doctor frowned, before a new picture slid onto the screen. The corners of her lips curled into dry smile as the mug shot of a terrified blue-haired teenager stared from the television, paired with another of a much older girl crushing a car with a wave of water.
“Number Six.”
She had sewn her seeds well.

Tennyo 02/17/2010 08:22 AM

A cell phone, that’s what she needed to get. No, two cell phones. Cheap ones, of course, on some sort of family plan. Maybe even a couple of those pay-as-you-go type phones, since Terra really wouldn’t be using hers much, if at all. Emma had been debating the idea for a while, but didn’t quite know how she’d be able to budget her money to pay for all of it. However she new it would make her feel just a tiny bit better knowing that Terra would have a more reliable method of communication with her other than telepathy.

She found herself trying to make a deal with some unseen force in her head. I’ll go without buy any clothes for a year. I’ll stop buying cookies! I won’t buy any annuals, only perennials so that they last longer. In fact I’ll just stop buying plants; I already have enough! The fact that bargaining how to pay for a cell phone would not solve the situation at hand didn’t even register as an option in Emma’s head.

Oh Terra. Terra where are you? Please be okay…


The frantic girl could have taken a bus, or hailed a cab, but neither of those ideas ever came to mind. All she could do was run as fast as she could in the direction of all the commotion; military machines flying over hear head in the same direction. It’s sure getting crowded over there.

She turned down one street, running a few blocks over. She had to get to Terra, and all she could think of was something that had come to her as she ran, yet she wasn’t sure if it was real or if she had dreamt it on the train: “.E…ma. Trapt on piper street. Hlp.”

Piper Street; that was Emma’s destination. Terra was there, she just knew it. The Destrillian reached out with her powers and yes, somewhere a few blocks ahead of her was the girl she had come to think of as a little sister these past four years, despite the fact that Terra was actually the older of the two. Emma also knew that there were more of her kind in the area and could even sense who a few of them were, but for now she would concentrate all of her energy on getting to Terra. Nothing else mattered other than that. If she could get to her before the government, they might still have a chance to get out of harms way and remain safe and hidden.

As Emma got closer a sudden sense of dread began to wash over her. Unless she was mistaken, Terra was moving. Yes, moving at a fast pace. At a fast pace toward all the commotion and military action.

“NO!” Emma cried, stopping at a street corner to get her bearings. The street was empty, no doubt everyone in the area had fled, and it had also at least stopped raining for the present. That would hopefully make things easier. But Emma felt herself wanting to panic as she came to realize her and Terra’s cover was probably about to be blown. Worse than that, they could be recaptured and placed back into test tubes, or killed on sight.

She felt the tiniest tickle of soft fur and tiny claws on her cheek as Squeak pressed his paws and face into her skin. She reached up and picked him off her shoulder, then held him in front of her face to look at.

“Oh Squeak, I’m so sorry, I was in such a hurry I didn’t think to put you down. You should be back in the apartment where you would be safe.”
The mouse replied with a little high pitched noise, then wrapped his front legs around her thumb and hugged it, as if communicating that back in the apartment is not where he wanted to be.

Emma smiled. “Thank you, Squeak. Although, I think it would be safer if you were in here,” she said, placing the rodent into her shoulder bag. He peaked his head out from under the flap and squealed happily.

“You hold on tight now, and don’t leave the bag unless you absolutely have to. This is going to get pretty bad, I think.”
Squeak gave a tiny nod, and then ducked out of sight into the bag.

A gentle breeze blew, tousling the long red hair of the young woman standing on the street corner. It gave a bit of a chill, for Emma wasn’t dressed very appropriately. A nice green sweater on under her yellow raincoat, but a pleated skirt and bare legs. I picked a heck of a day to wear a skirt, she though. At least she had sense to wear small socks with her galoshes. It all seemed oddly out of place for what was about to take place.

The Destrillian reached out over the few blocks toward all the commotion, and there she picked up on Terra again. Was she crying? Emma felt her heart tighten.

Terra wasn’t alone, though. There were other Destrillians in the area. She picked up on Thetis and Idris, and also another Destrillian she didn’t know. Then she picked upon Kerr. He was bad knews. Emma didn’t know him very well, only well enough to know she didn’t want to, but his presence was enough to give her goosebumps. She quickly decided on the route she felt would get her there the fastest, then she started running.

Emma left her abilities wide open so as to gauge the situation at hand, but it wasn’t very easy. There was a lot of fear, a lot of anger, and some sadness, but mostly death. A lot of people were dieing. It was always highly unpleasant to feel death, but Emma would need to brace herself to deal with it if she were to save Terra, and perhaps the others.

If there was one thing the escape from Viola had taught her it was that death was unavoidable. She had felt horrified when she discovered that her comrades had been the cause of all the death she had felt while trapped in her cryo tube, yet as she thought about it she realized that sometimes, people just had to die. There was no right side or wrong side, there was just people trying to get out on top and survive. It was a difficult notion to come to terms with, and she still didn’t entirely like it, but she had learned to accept it. It was the way of nature, after all. Animals killed each other all the time in the name of survival.

As she ran Emma quickly pushed her hair back and pulled her hood up to cover her face. She also buttoned up her coat to try to hide as much of her as she could. She didn’t want to risk anyone seeing or identifying her.

There also came a bit of a change in the flow of energy and movement in the area. The flying war machines were turning and leaving the vicinity, and going by on a cross street was a tank. What was happening? Emma then felt an intense rush of excitement, a few hundred people strong at least, and she looked up into the sky. There, descending from the clouds was the largest airship she had ever seen. Emma remembered hearing about such a thing on the news once. Owned by a company called IRIN, which had been founded by former members of Viola's weapons development unit from back in the day. Squeak gave out a terrified squeal as he peered up from under the flap of the shoulder bag.

Now, IRIN dominated everything, or so the newscaster had said. They often over exaggerated facts for the sake of ratings and making their stories more interesting she had come to find out. It made her wish she could feel emotions through the TV, just out of curiosity.

“Hey! You there!” a male voice called out to her.

Emma quickly looked and saw, to her horror, a small group of soldiers approaching. She had been so preoccupied with everything else she must have confused their energy signatures for basically everything else.

“What are you doing here? Everyone is to clear the area.” Emma could only stare blankly at the man. Maybe if I just play dumb…

“Hello, you home? Turn and go the other way. This area is off limits.”


“Um, sorry, I got an errand to run,”
she said sweetly, then made to cross the street in a diagonal to get around them.

“HEY!" The man shouted again, this time reaching out and grabbing Emma by the arm. “You mental or something? I said clear the area.”

Emma yanked her arm away. “Let go of me! I heard you. Just leave me alone.”

Then it happened. “I bet she’s one of them, sir!” another of the soldiers cried, pointing his rifle at the girl.

She put up her hands and feigned a frightened demeanor, which really wasn’t that hard. “What are you talking about? What do you want?”

“You know what, Carlson? I bet you’re right,” the first man said, lifting his rifle as well. The others followed suit, until there were seven guns pointing at the red head.

Again, Emma put on a façade. “What is this? What do you want? Please don’t hurt me I’ll do anything!”

“Come with us, then. If you’re not who we think you are we’ll let you go.”[/COLOR]

“I…I can’t. I need to find my sister.”

“Too bad, you’re coming with us.”


The man Emma assumed to be the leader motioned for another soldier to detain her. When the man reached out and grabbed her by the arm, however, she reached up with her free hand and grabbed his.

“Don’t touch me,” she said in a low voice.

In one quick fluid movement Emma was behind the soldier, twisting his arm painfully until she heard a sickening snap as it broke. A rush of pained emotion surged through her as the man cried out in anguish. She somehow managed to keep her composure and with all her might threw the injured human at a coupe of his unit mates. She then gracefully moved in to the leader and pushed the barrel of his gun away from her as he fired. A few of the bullets hit his subordinates and at least two of them died instantly, followed by their leader and Emma thrashed her palm up into the man’s nose, crushing his face and sending bits of his skull into his brain.

Emma stumbled at the feeling of three close-proximity deaths all at once. She really hadn’t meant to kill anybody. She only wanted to cripple them so that they couldn’t chase her, but now she had really overdone it.

“Shit! I’m out of here! I ain’t gonna die today!”
one of the men yelled out, then turned heal and ran. One of the other soldiers followed.

“You fuckin’ cowards!” another yelled, doubled over and holding a bullet wound on his shoulder. There were only two left now.

“Hey man, you seen what those other ones can do. We can’t kill ‘em. Come on, let’s just get out of here,” the other remaining soldier said, still pointing his gun. Emma stood staring at the two of them, trying her best to look menacing. She was sure glad she had hid her hair under her hood and that it was after sunset. These men shouldn’t be able to ID her later so long as she ditched the clothes.

The two men eased their way around the Destrillian, then backed away a few feet before turning around and sprinting off. Emma turned in the direction of her fellow prototypes before collapsing against a burnt out street lamp. She screwed up her face and fought to regain her composure. She was far too opened up to her surroundings than what was good for her, and now three men were dead. It was all so quick.

A faint squeak emitted from her bag as the small animal within peered up at her with concern. All Emma could do was reach down a finger and gently scratch him between the ears, then push herself off of the pole and keep going.

Terra, I have to find Terra. That’s the only thing that matters right now.

She glanced up at the large airship in the sky. “So what is it that you’re gonna do?” she asked, as if the ship could answer.

Whatever it is, it couldn’t be good. Emma quickened her pace, trying to keep tabs on everyone’s location. Eventually she found her way there. A couple buildings stood between her and her goal. However, when she got to the end and was about to turn the corner, she stopped. There, not far off ahead, were two soldiers. One was severely wounded, the other not as much, and he was angry. They were hiding behind what looked like a crushed tank not too far up ahead. Emma strained to listen to what they were saying.

“Fuck this man. This is too much!”
one whispered to the other.

The more injured of the two struggled to speak. “Y…you need t…to go. They ordered an evac.”

“I’m not leaving you, man. I’m gonna kill these fuckers is what I’m gonna do.”

“IR…IRIN will do it. Dude, just go.”


So that’s why the military seemed to be pulling out. That massive airship had something big hidden up their sleeves. Emma had to come up with a plan, not only to block her comrades from the soldiers, but also the airship. She needed to provide some cover in case they were able to watch. She looked around from behind the building and there, near what looked to be the remains of a building, was a torn up, charged tree. But deep inside it contained a tiny pulse of life. Not much, but it would do.

Emma reached out with her power toward the tree, and everything around her intensified. She could feel the irritation and paranoia of her fellows, the anger and the pain of the soldiers, and to an extent many other people who didn’t even seem to be in the vicinity. She would have to completely open herself up to everything if this were to get done.

The plant manipulator reached out a hand in the direction of the tree, then the other. She pulled on invisible strings and the it lurched, a creaking noise gradually building in volume as everything began to shift and grow.

The concrete around it began to crack as the trunk widened and the roots grew. The branches began to grow thick and spread out from the base. It was a slow process as first but Emma really began to push harder, using more and more power, and opening herself up even more. Eventually the tree lurched, then everything sprang to life. Large oversized branches extended down and smashed into the street to act as support for the rest of the tree.

“What the hell?!” the uninjured soldier yelled. He stood up from behind the tank in disbelief at the site of the tree growing. He then lifted his gun and began to fire. A branch extended out and came down near the tank where the two men were hiding.

“DUDE! You have to go!”

The other man bent down and lifted his friend. “Not without you!”

Emma pulled on her invisible strings again to bring the now enormous tree in her direction. The branches extended out to keep the two men from being able to see her or move in her direction. It consumed the tank, but she could still feel the lives of the men on the other side. They must have gotten away. Not good, in that now there were witness, but maybe they wouldn’t make it out anyway if that airship was really going to be causing some damage. She then walked forward, hands still outstretched, and directed part of the tree to split off and form a canopy over the street.

There, just beyond the building, she could see Idris and Terra. She had to shield them as best she could, and so massagive branches came down around them to support the huge trunk that now curved over them.

When Emma felt satisfied by her progress she stopped and made her way toward where the other two Destrillians stood. She walked slowly at first, stumbling and feeling fatigued and with a headache slowly building in size in her head. But she quickened her pace and eventually began running, not stopping until she had flung her arms about the young woman with glasses.

“Terra! Or Terra you’re okay! I was so worried! I’m so sorry it took me so long to find you. I’m so, so, so sorry! I’ll never leave you again, ever! I swear!”

Emma then looked up at the other girl next to them. “Idris,” she smiled, still holding the earth Destrillian tightly. “Thank you so much for looking after Terra.”

After a bit, she asked, “What’s going on here?”

Alex 02/21/2010 07:31 PM

No matter how many times Kerr delved into the sewers beneath Osea, the smell was something he reckoned that he would ever get used to. Especially beneath the Orange Zone, where maintenance was unreliable at its best and non-existant at worst, and there was no doubt that some stretches of the cavernous sewer system had never been seen to since their original construction. The section of tunnel that he, Kram and the unconscious Thetis were hiding in seemed to fall under that category from what Kerr could discern of the environment, aided by the dim ceiling light that was now so covered in grime that everything it illuminated was coloured in sickly shades of washed out green or jaundiced yellow.

The three of them were waiting in silence on the raised platform that ran down either side of the tunnel, the sickening canal of filth flowed down the centre. Kerr tried to put the oppressive environment out of his mind for now, a task that was proving more difficult with every step sticking to the foulness that caked the concrete floor beneath them and the dizzying stench of the sewer water and exacerbating the dizzying sensation that had come about as a consequence of his over-exertion and blood loss from the deep gash on his head from his less than spectacular performance against a speeding fire hydrant.

Predictably, it was Kram who broke the silence first.

“Personally Everything I have right now… It’s not Viola technology. My old man would never work for those fuckheads…” he said, apparently expecting some kind of acknowledgement from the eleventh Destrillian. Whatever signs he was expecting, Kerr gave him neither, instead just fixing him with the same unfeeling stare from his coal black eyes. The information he imparted could have been the truth or it could have been a lie but neither would have directly changed their present situation, and information that did not lead to their successful escape was information not worth dwelling on at this stage.

“And I don’t work for anyone for that matter. I’m a freelance vigilante.”the stranger turned away from Kerr’s unblinking stare to continue with his monologue. “But the armour kept calling you all and myself…a Destrillian. What are we? Other than Blue Hair spouting water like a damned tsunami, or Genevieve controlling metal like some comic book supervillain and that brown haired girl who… looks just weird but has some psychic powers... What are we? And you…”he paused melodramatically for effect “What’s with you? Mistreating Blue Hair like that? She’s a lady god’s sake! What’s wrong with us trying to blend in society? From what I heard you’ve been trying to kill us all. What the hell”

Kerr couldn’t help but snort, failing to hide his contempt for the startling display of ignorance on the part of the armoured man. It was awfully noble of him to leap to the defence of Thetis as though she was a damsel in distress, he hadn’t even seen them fight and he automatically took the woman’s side. Knowing Thetis like he did, Kerr knew that she would absolutely love the fact that she had a big strong man in her corner to back her up.

“You've committed so many sins in this city, I’m surprised no one has found you yet. Those murders you’ve caused, Even though they’re scum…They didn’t have to die. They would’ve gone to jail anyway”
he growled at Kerr, and for the briefest of moments a tiny smile danced across the blood stained features of the tired Destrillian.

“Do you make a habit of making assumptions of people you’ve never met before and don’t know a thing about?”he spoke up for the first time. There was no way that this man of all people could have known about his personal war against the other Destrillians, or the other lives lost. He had never once been identified as the attacker, not even by the military. No mugshot of Kerr had ever found its way to the mass media, and he had remained relatively anonymous given the amount of carnage he had wrought over the past couple of years. This idiot didn’t know what he was talking about or anything about him, simply determined to play the part of the hero.

“Shit! I’m going up to check on the girls, I know this doesn’t seem like your kind of task but do take care of Blue Hair.”
Kram arrogantly rattled off the instructions. This was a man who clearly always got his own way. “I’m counting on you”he said, as though this display of trust would be in any way, shape or form endearing to Kerr, who simply watched stoically as the armoured stranger placed Thetis down against the curved wall of the sewer and hurried back off down the passage in the direction of the ladder.

For a moment Kerr didn’t quite believe what he was seeing. After this man’s rant at him about his murderous intentions towards ‘Blue Hair’, was he seriously just about to leave him alone to guard her. Surely he knew that she would probably be safer on her own unconscious in the sewer than down here with him...

...No apparently that hadn’t crossed his mind, Kerr thought with disbelief as he watched Kram’s figure disappear up the ladder and out of sight.

He instantly turned his attention back towards Thetis, barely over an hour ago this had been the young woman he had literally been fighting for his life against. A truly formidable opponent that had lasted longer in single combat against him than any Destrillian had done before. But now? Now she was a pathetic sight. Completely defenceless, her breathing was rasping and faint and pale as ash from blood loss. She had left herself too weak, it had been so foolish of her. Desperate and needy, determined to show off, and this was the result. Defeat.

Then again, it could have just been a ruse. Thetis had always been pegged as being one of the more cunning Destrillians, or if not cunning then just spiteful. He wouldn’t put it past her to feign this whole passing out ordeal just for this opportunity to get Kerr alone to strike back at him for his prior assault.

He nudged her with his foot to check, her body was limp and unresponsive. If it hadn’t been for the gentle rising and falling of her chest then it could have been possible to pass her off for a corpse. She opportunity was far too good to be true, to murder her now whilst she was helpless and then disappear off into the sewers of Osea. It served her right after all, trying to first beat him in combat and then try to show off in front of the others.

He walked crouched over her body, imagining how easy it would be to just slit her throat now. He even felt his arm subconsciously grope his ankle, just to double check that his small combat knife had actually been knocked free during the prior battle. It was gone, and this was probably the best outcome because the mounting pressure to murder this reminder of the Violan facility was nearly overwhelming.



====MEANWHILE, SIX YEARS AGO====




“Are you coming with me or not?”

“Not.”

“Come on Kerr. We agreed!”

“They’ll kill us if we do”

“They’ll only kill us if we get caught!”

Kerr folded his arms and turned away, trying to hide an uncomfortable feeling that had absolutely nothing to do with how cold the Viola Recreation Room was.

“We’ll get caught” he mumbled.

The girl who was standing at his side with arms folded and scowling in frustration, rolled her eyes. Today of all days, Kerr Nordstrom lost his confidence. How typical.

“What the hell is going on with you Kerr? What are you hiding?”
she demanded impatiently.

Kerr said nothing at first, pretending to be momentarily transfixed with Ronin Maverick doing some press-ups at the far side of the room. “I’m not hiding anything Ariel. I just don’t think it would be a good ide-“ the sentence was interrupted by the hard slap to the back of his head. He might have deserved that, Kerr thought unhappily as he pushed the collar length dull silver hair out of his face so that he could turn and face his impatient companion with coal black eyes that revealed nothing.

“Kerr. You were the only one who agreed to escape with me. The only one”
Ariel Regan, the twelfth Destrillian matched his gaze with her own vividly piercing lilac coloured eyes. “Why have you changed your mind?” her tone was softer now, less angry, less hurt. Just confused.

Kerr paused before answering, trying his best to make sure that his face betrayed nothing of what he was feeling. He gave a resigned sigh and asked his next question carefully. “Would you try to leave, even if I said I wouldn’t go?”

“Absolutely”
she answered immediately, though the expression on her face looked slightly more than disappointed in his reply.

Kerr gave an almost pained nod, “Okay, I’ll come”

Instantly a wide smile spread across her pale, round face and all trace of her impatience with her stubborn, grim-faced friend. Kerr tried not to look.
“I knew you’d come around” she said happily. “Now keep your chin up yeah? You know we’ll make it. We can run rings around these idiots in uniforms. You know that.” Kerr didn’t say anything, she was mistaking his reluctance for a lack of confidence in his own abilities. Out of all the Destrillians developed in this facility she was the one who had retained the most of her humanity.

“Yeah.” He said simply.

“You remember the plan?”


“Yeah.” This reply was more sullen than the last.

“Good.” She smiled again, “Just think, by tomorrow morning we’ll be so far away from here that even the sky will look different” she said with a confidence that she did not entirely feel, purely for the benefit of her friend who looked far more worried than he should be.

===
[COLOR="DarkOrange][/COLOR]
“You remember the plan?”[/COLOR]


Yes Doctor Malcolm. Kerr replied telepathically from inside his stasis tube, looking up at the familiar shadowy shape in the glass viewing room above him.

“Good boy. You know we can’t have dissenters among our ranks. Not even ones as skilled and powerful as your friend Ariel."


Kerr said nothing, for some reason the emphasis on the end of Malcolm’s sentence had made the Doctor’s presence even more unwelcome than it had been before.

Malcolm immediately seemed to sense his reluctance. “Having second thoughts Number Eleven?”

No. Kerr replied, perhaps a little too forcefully to be entirely convincing.

“Remember that you’re a soldier Number Eleven. You act on the orders of your superiors, not on the orders of your friends.”
No response. “This is the only way to make you stronger boy. The only way.” Malcolm said softly, appealing to a different facet of Kerr’s personality. “Do this for us, and you know we can make you more powerful. We can make it so that all your guilt can vanish. You know we can do that for you Number Eleven.” No response, but Malcolm was sure by now that he had gotten Kerr’s attention.

“Why don’t you reply to me Number Eleven?”


Because I have a name, not a number.


From behind the bullet proof glass, Doctor Malcolm Abaddon smirked. “Was it Ariel that told you that?” Kerr remained silent. “You know as well as I do that she causes all the trouble around here, Kerr. Starting those fights with the guards and killing those doctors. How are we ever going to help better this world if our soldiers are too busy killing their own side to follow orders? You do remember that thats what you were all made for don’t you? You were made to be soldiers of peace."

What if I don’t want to be.

“Don’t lie Kerr. Just think about your options, just think about what really needs to be done.”
From inside his pod, Kerr felt Malcolm’s presence leave the viewing room above and quickly go out of range. Leaving him alone to carefully consider the crossroads that lay before him.

===

His eyes snapped open to the stop-start sound of gunfire.

Well that was a stupid mistake on their part, it was almost like handing Ariel ammunition. Ariel, the Destrillian of sound, able to vibrate apart matter itself.

She was inside the room with him, working on the control panel that freed open his stasis tube. She was less than six foot tall, but still taller than he was. Her short, straight hair and choppy fringe that covered up her vibrant eyes when she looked down was black, but liberally streaked with white, resembling the keys of a piano.

She saw he was awake and flashed a hurried grin, giving him a thumbs up as the door to his pod eased open and a silmy Kerr pulled himself free of the confining viscous fluid.

“I brought you some clothes”
she said merrily, throwing him what was unmistakably the black jacket and pants of a security guard. “Sorry about the bullet hole though”

Kerr did his best to force a smile at the joke and quickly pulled on the deceased guards attire.

“Now we match” she said with a smile, doing a small spin on the spot to show off her guard’s uniform that was easily too big for her slender frame. Kerr made a quick note to himself that this was more happy than he had seen any Destrillian be, ever. “Also take this. You’re a better shot with one of these things than I am” she threw him a standard issue pistol, which he deftly snatched out of the air.

Wasting no time the two Destrillians escaped from Kerr’s room and out into the eerily deserted corridors, passing only a few deceased guards (now only clad in their underwear and socks) outside of Ariel’s old room.

“It’s much too quiet”
she observed grimly.

“I’m sure it’s nothing” Kerr lied. Had Malcolm deliberately ordered the guards to evacuate this level to further ensure that he would be the one to kill his rebellious friend? Was it all part of the test? It certainly added up, and Kerr could only gulp nervously. Trying hard to fight off the extreme uneasiness that came about when your head and your heart were telling you to do two completely different things.

On the one hand, he and Ariel were more than capable of escaping from this facility. She was the oldest of the Destrillians, easily one of the most powerful, most level-headed. Able to adapt and overcome any obstacle that the Violan Corporation had thrown at her on the training courses better than any of the others had. If there was any among them that was capable of getting out of here alive, then it would have been her. But perversely that was exactly the reason why she had been deemed to risky to keep around, coupled with her wild independent nature and popularity amongst the others. She had all the ingredients of a leader, and one that was poised on the brink of revolution against her creators.

But freedom was so appealing. To be free, free from all the regulations and free to be happy and independent and to no longer to answer to any authority or any superior, the thought was nearly unimaginable. But it was so exciting, he couldn’t remember anything of the outside world other than the tactical military briefings of various sites where they might be deployed to help turn the tide of a battle. To be free with his friend to experience and see all the sights that the company would have never gotten around to showing them, it made him happy. The alien emotion had taken him by such surprise that it had taken a good while to even recognise what he was.

On the other hand, what would happen to the world they wanted so desperately to escape to if they weren’t fighting to make better if they weren’t the front lines making sure that it did indeed change for the better? Was it worth it? It wasn’t as though he was unhappy here after all. He enjoyed the training, he enjoyed the feeling of power and the self confidence in his own abilities. Was it worth giving all that up for the uncomfortable uncertainty of the wild world outside of these cold grey walls?

“Shit, the elevator’s been locked down” Ariel muttered in exasperation, trying in vain to prise her fingers inbetween the steel doors. “When you finish daydreaming, reckon you can come over here and help? Because that would be lovely”

Why did Kerr want to escape so badly if he was so comfortable here? Why did he want to leave here so badly in the first place? Maybe Malcolm was right. Maybe Ariel really was just out of control, and he was the fool for being sucked into her chaotic fantasy.

“Kerr? What’s wrong? Don’t wimp out on me.”


“It’s nothing.” Kerr said solemnly. Flexing his power, and taking his mental frustration out on the stubborn elevator doors. Watching with satisfaction as they crumbled like paper beneath his manipulation of gravity

With a satisfied look on her face Ariel clapped her hands together and instantly the doors fell inwards into the elevator shaft, forced backwards by the sonic blast generated by the noise. She leapt into the shaft and looked around anxiously. “We can get up here Kerr! There’s a service ladder that should take us up to the next flo-“

The gunshot cut her off mid sentence.

They were soldiers.

Malcolm was right. They shouldn’t do this. This was wrong.

Ariel spoke no more. The bullet caught her in the upper left quarter of her back, there was the rushed sound of the air being forced from her lungs by the force of the bullet and she fell forward onto her front and was still. It was over, just like that. Taking a life was every bit as quick as Malcolm had promised him that it would have been. But it was not as painless as he had been told.

Kerr threw the gun onto the floor and hopped down into the shaft where the body of his best friend was lying. He did his best not to look at her surprisingly peaceful face as he picked her up and carried her out into the corridor to meet the squad of five security personnel that had seemingly materialised out of nowhere whilst he had been lost in thought. He focused on them, their equipment, weapons, faces. Anything, anything that he could fill his mind with to take away from the growing feeling of loss that was threatening to breach through the previously unmoving dam of his stoic exterior.

“Dr. Malcolm wants to see you” one of them grunted at him.

“I don’t care” Kerr snapped back. Whipping round to face the one who had addressed him “What are you going to do with her body?” he demanded.

“Dr. Caithness wants to examine her body in the morgue first, apparently some of the big wigs want to be in attendance.” The guard replied with a voice that sounded like a gravel blender.

“The big wigs?”


“I thought you didn’t care” the lead guard replied mockingly.
Kerr just laughed, a bitter, mirthless laugh as the gravity of the room pulled the five guards with sickening force into the far wall “If you personally, don’t make sure that nothing happens to her. Then I will kill you and your entire family, do you understand me?” every ounce of hate that seemed to be filling his being poured out in that sentence as he subconsciously increased the pressure to the point where he could nearly hear the guards brittle bones splinter under the remorseless pressure.
He let them down, as he turned his back on them to return to his room.

They made sure no harm came to Ariel’s body.

Two of the guards died from their injuries later that week.

===

“ Congratulations Kerr”
Dr. Malcolm Abaddon greeted him with a warm, friendly smile as Kerr stalked back into the room. “You’ve done this company and this nation a great service.”

“Shut up” Kerr snarled. Malcolm was far too calm, too friendly. He didn’t even look like a scientist. A man in his early thirties, with stylishly trimmed shaggy hair and handsome, tanned features, he would have probably looked more at home in a trendy vodka bar than he would in a labcoat, spending his days pouring over research statistics and notes.

“Kerr. You’re crying.” Malcolm said understandingly.

Kerr hadn’t noticed.

“I know what you’ve just been through has been has been hard. But you know that it was for the best.”

“You said you can make how I’m feeling go away” Kerr snapped back, nearly shouting over the top of Malcolm’s smooth, knowing voice. “Can you do that now?”

“Absolutely. The drugs will be added to your treatment for tonight.”
Malcolm said as he headed for the door. “I’ll leave you alone with your thoughts.”

Kerr was still crying and it was making him feel awkward.

“Keep your chin up Number Eleven”
he muttered off-handedly as he hurried out of the room.

“That’s not my name” Kerr said venomously inbetween sobs that he was no longer bothering to try and suppress, as he pressed his back to the wall and sank to the floor.

Doing what was best for the world had never made the young Destrillian feel any worse.



===================MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE PRESENT=====================



It was the second time in his life Kerr had had a defenceless Destrillian at his mercy, and the relevance was not lost to him. Suppressing the white hot feeling of hate in his stomach and exercising the self control he had been teaching himself since that day, he bowed his head. The decision made.

Turning and sitting against the wall next to her he breathed a long and drawn out sigh. “I’m not going to kill you Thetis” the words had fallen out of his mouth before he could stop himself.

To think, he had just criticised her own weakness a few moments before.

Baldy 02/23/2010 02:21 AM

Out of absolutely nowhere, something began to happen.

The earth beneath her feet began to tremble; the brittle concrete, already having taken such a beating from the battle and just about ready to throw in the towel, was cracking. Idris Savage held Terra fast and widened her footing to prevent her own fall, all the while looking around for the source of it all – it couldn't be the girl she had her arm wrapped around, surely not. She was barely standing up, let alone in control enough to cause such a powerful rumble in the earth.

Then Idris saw it. A… tree? A tree was growing at incredible speed, straight through the meager shelter it had been hidden with, swelling with life and shielding the two from the sky. The thing grew ten, twenty, thirty feet tall and still higher—and then the Gunmetal Glint knew. She knew who was here to save the day.

It was Emma.

Idris' grin could have lit up the street beneath the tree like the sun lit the sky above it. Of all the people she'd expected, Emma had been the best case scenario; not only was she powerful, and on their side, but she was a personal favourite. A friend. And so very kind. She shifted Terra's weight on her arm a little as the two stepped semi-awkwardly out of the way of an enormous tree branch, which crashed down beside them to support the ever-growing organism; it was both beautiful and terrible, to see something this fierce and natural in such a synthetic setting. The metal Destrillian found it refreshing, and of course, it was also very helpful.

Idris was confident that they had at least a little more time than they'd just had previously, if nothing else than from the shock factor it would deliver to those upon the warship. Emma's head popped up from between two gigantic roots, her red hair tucked safely beneath her yellow raincoat's hood, and the freckled girl began to make her way towards the two female Destrillians. First walking, then a little faster, and then full-out running towards… Terra.

The earth Destrillian was swept from Idris' arm faster than she could see it coming; it left her arm feeling empty, almost, with all the air suddenly surrounding the skin where warmth had just been. She shook it absent-mindedly to get rid of the feeling.

"Terra! Oh Terra, you're okay; I was so worried!" Emma said while enveloping the girl in a crushing hug. The joy was definitely there, and so was the relief. And for some strange, incomprehensible reason, it made Idris sigh on the inside. "I'm so sorry it took me so long to find you, I'm so, so sorry! I'll never leave you again, ever—I swear!"
At last, she turned her face up from where it had been buried against Terra's brown hair, and faced Idris—who managed to slap her smile back on just in time.
"Idris, thank you so much for looking after Terra."

"All in a day's work," she replied easily. With Emma here, getting Terra to the sewers wouldn't be a problem anymore. They could lift her up together and carry her down—

…just like last time. Idris glanced down at the bracelet she wore and remembered the last time she and Emma had worked together to move a comrade to safety. The circumstances had been a bit different then: namely, the comrade in question had been a corpse. The safety bit had never changed – they'd always been running from Viola, after all. But Idris had felt some of the most intense feelings in her life that moment when Eve had died. Anger, grief, regret—all of it and more. The trinkets she and Emma wore were made of the bullets Eve had been killed with, and to Idris it served as a reminder of both her friend, and of what seemed to be the only goal she had left. To protect the other Destrillians with everything she had.

"What's going on here?" Emma's voice broke through Idris' reverie; the small woman had just enough time to look back up before somebody else replied.
The Dark Rider had gotten impatient, it seemed.

"Nothing but big trouble, miss." Emma's face when she noticed him was almost worth the irritation of having the situation explained by somebody who only barely knew what was going on. Almost. "We gotta head underground fast, the big cheese up there is gonna fry us any minute. I suggest we move now. Come on, I got to go back down there."
The plates of armour the Dark Rider wore clinked just a bit as he turned his head back to face the three. "Everyone. Let's go." And he jumped back down into the sewers just like that.

Idris sighed for real this time. She looked at Emma, who still seemed a little confused as to who the newcomer was. Idris didn't blame her.

She tried her best to clarify in an objective manner.
"That's the Dark Rider, so he calls himself. Thinks he's some sort of vigilante, cleaning up the city one crook at a time – I'd make sure nothing happens to me if I were you, or else you'll have him slinging you over his shoulder and giving melodramatic speeches and injecting you with fast-tracking serums." So much for objectivity. The woman checked herself and continued. "In truth he's a Destrillian – not from where we came from, I think, and he's got absolutely no idea about anything so do forgive his bravery. It's only ignorance in disguise. I know you, you're patient, but I'm waiting for someone else to finally snap at him. It should be interesting to say the least."

She looked at Terra, still held in Emma's arms, and then back up to the vibrant girl who could control nature. "Well, in any case, he's right. We've got to get down there or else it's curtains for us – as a heads up, Kerr and Thetis are down there too. It's like one big family reunion, eh?" She did her best to laugh even though oddly enough her stomach had gone a little hollow.

Emma did smile back a bit, though, and that made Idris ignore the feeling in favour of helping Emma with Terra. Together the two balanced the third girl's weight and they made their way to the manhole.

"On three?" Idris suggested. Emma nodded and Terra was ready to help break her own fall, so Idris turned and faced down into the sewers.
"One…"
She could see the Dark Rider pacing around, anxious as usual to go and save somebody's day. A little further into the darkness the girl could see Kerr, sitting against the wall near Thetis with an expression most peculiar. It was a moment before she realized that it was the fact he wore an expression at all that was peculiar in the first place.
"Two…"
The air was filling with tension. Surely that warship was about to unleash hell and high water upon the decimated parking lot, and even this wonderful tree of Emma's couldn't hold back the barrage they were about to receive. Terra's arm tightened on Idris in preparation and a strange pang went through her.
"Three."

They jumped together and Idris realized what this small but insistently clawing feeling was.

Regret.

Regret that when she left the ruins of Viola, she hadn't gone with somebody—that she hadn't stuck with a Destrillian or two for company's sake. Regret that while Thetis and Kerr had some strange sort of rivalry going on, and while Emma and Terra were so enviably close, and while Kram had anybody he goddamn wanted because he made it their business to be his business… Idris had nobody, really. And for the first time in a long while, she really felt the loneliness that that brought with it.

They hit the sewer floor with a wet, squelching splat, all three of them. Terra kept her footing and Idris lingered a moment longer than she needed to before letting the girl go; the metal Destrillian turned to face the manhole above and flicked her hand, and the metal piping along the wall melded over the hole to block the street above. There was darkness so total that even with all their superhuman eyes, it was still a little difficult to see.

She stood on the concrete walkway on the edge of the sewers, a little apart from the group that had formed, and stared up at her handiwork; then, she took a big breath, exhaled it, turned, and walked to the group to take her place.

"Okay, so who do we have here? Roll-call would be nice, seeing as we have newbies and besides… it's been a while. Nice to see everyone again," she said, and she meant it. "As a start, we've got Idris Savage, the Gunmetal Glint here, ready to help protect against whatever hell comes our way."

She had always been a little lonely, hadn't she.

NoenGaruth 02/27/2010 02:57 PM

Any moment now....any moment....or not.

Leaning forward in her chair, Sophalla gazed out the front window of the command bridge for a solid minute with a look of puzzlement, looking for the massive beam of death to come streaming from the underside of the ship. Then after realizing nothing was going to happen she slowly turned to face the controller on her left and with a smile and a slight tilt of her head to the side, calmly asked. "Am I missing something or isn't there meant to be a large display of destruction right about now?". The controller was checking displays on the console in front of him for a moment then replied "Uhh...it seems ma'am that there's a malfunction in fire control, we're attempting to cut in the axillary."

Even after all our technological advancements we still haven't ironed out all the bugs, but I guess it's expected considering the particle cannon is a brand new piece of weaponry... Sophalla's inner monologue thought to herself as she casually sat back in the chair waiting for her personnel to correct the problem.

Five minutes had passed and during this time Sophalla's attention had drifted off into thoughts about what Vargas would do now that there are Destrillians around once again, however she was then interrupted by the sound of success as the computers all started buzzing with activity as the Particle cannon systems all began to come back online.

"All checks are green, Particle cannon is now online, proceeding to fire at the target area now Ma'am" The controller reported. Sophalla lit up with excitement once again and watched eagerly for the imminent stream of destruction that would annihilate those who she hated with such sincere passion. The underside of the airship began to make loud humming noises as the insides of the cannon started spinning, faster and faster. The speed and sounds kept growing until that which Sophalla was waiting for finally blasted out with such great force that it shook the vessel and lit up the area with it's powerfully bright blue beam. A few seconds later and the beam impacted onto the motel area and expanded into a giant blue ball of energy that vaporized everything within it's radius. The large tree that had mysteriously appeared withing a short time frame burst into flames and was quickly incinerated, steel supports from the buildings melted under the heat, the concrete cracked and broke apart, and what remained of the ground troops and abandoned tanks left in the area were all erased in the blink of an eye. The bright ball made the entire city of Osea glow blue for a good 30 seconds then quickly began to fade away and before you knew it was gone, leaving a large crater with nothing more than molten pieces of steel and scattered blocks of concrete all along it's surface. Electromagnetic radiation from the beam knocked out the power for blocks around the area and now, save for the hum of the Airship's engines, everything was silent.

Back on the command bridge, Sophalla sat perched back in her chair with a sinister look of satisfaction on her face, the cannon couldn't have performed more perfectly in it's display of terror and destruction. Without moving the slightest bit she spoke to her command staff.

"The operation is now completed ladies and gentlemen, good work!. Inform the Artolian command that they can move in to cordon off the area..." She then paused for a moment and added. "...also send down some of our personnel to confirm the targets were destroyed, I won't be pleased if any escaped..."


___________________________________________________

===A MASSIVE POORLY LIT ROOM, UNKNOWN LOCATION=====

A frail looking man stood in the center of the room, completely still, and hooked up to a wide assortment of machines and apparatuses. He was surrounded by video monitors which displayed all sorts of footage from around the world. Televisions shows from Artolia, news from a wide assortment of nations, scenes of the violence still erupting in the central continents. Yet the man was not focused on any of the images, instead, he was looking down at the floor.

"Humans...even though that is what they are, they wish for the freedom of birds. These mere beings know not that it is an unreachable dream. One could best describe such desire with a recalled saying 'It is the lowly who aspire to reach a higher place'....however, in this changing world it would appear as if humans are not the only ones foolish enough to seek such an impossible goal, such arrogance and disregard to the order of things simply cannot be tolerated..."

The man then looked up to the wide array of monitors and continued. "...Isn't that right, Solaris?"



=====CHANGE LOCATION, SEWERS UNDERNEATH OSEA ORANGE ZONE=====

A young person, mid teens, walked...more like skipped happily along the poorly lit tunnel in the dank sewer. They had short, messy ash-blonde hair, a top that had the sleeves rolled up with a leather vest which looked as if it was some piece of an ancient military uniform, blue cargo shorts and black boots with high socks. Additionally they also wore blue fingerless gloves and a pair of goggles on their forehead.

This person was rather peculiar, aside from the fact that no sane person would be wandering around the sewers period, it was the fact about the ambiguity of their gender. Anyone who looked at them couldn't tell if they were a girl or an really pretty boy, and it didn't help that their voice also sounded like they could be either, nevertheless, this person enjoyed keeping people confused on such a topic - as a mysterious person is always a far more interesting one.

Without any regard to who or what was down there, they skipped along, and sang in a rather nonrhythmic manner about what they were doing.

"~Down here in the sew-er! Minding my own businesssss! Looking for noth-ing in particularrrr! Oh look a it's rotting corpse! And it's drifting down the riv-errr!~"


Their unusual singing was then grinded to a halt and a look of alertness was on their face. They quietly spoke to themself "What's this? I sense people....multiple people nearby, and they're coming this way...but something's different about them, there's a feeling....as if they're like..."

They then ducked into a side passage on the tunnel and waited to see who these new people were. The footsteps were getting real close now and they could hear voices, unclear what they were saying, kinda sounded like arguing about being lost...or at least the word lost was heard, then again maybe they were talking about a television show? But this was no place to be talking about such things, it's dark, wet and dangerous. They should save their discussion of popular entertainment mediums for more pleasant scenery's, like a park...filled with dinosaurs, a Jurassic park if you will. They then realized that their mind was wandering again and had stopped paying attention to the approaching group of people who were practically on top of them now. Fortunately, the group seemed to have stopped due to their arguing about location and thus weren't paying attention to their surroundings. The person hiding around the corner saw their opportunity, so pulled their goggles down over their eyes and stepped out into the middle of the tunnel where they could see the group of people about 20 meters away. They then knew it was time to execute their monumental plan which had just been thought up during the last 3 seconds and so, with the biggest smile on their face, called out the group of people...

"Hiya! Fancy running into a bunch of people down in thi-"
They then stopped dead in the middle of their sentence and fixed both of their eyes on one of the people in the group who was wearing some really bizarre getup. They weren't exactly sure what they were seeing, but it made them burst out into laughter and blurted out. "Hahahahaha! Oh my god when did the circus get into town?! Ahahahahaha!" They then continued for laugh for a long extent at the hilarious sight before them while the group just looked at them with puzzlement. Finally they were able to compose themself and once again address the group.

"Sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself, anyway my name's Stolz, pleased to meetcha!"


Their introduction seemed to have mixed feelings from the group, one or two felt as though they were gonna attack so Stolz quickly spoke up again.

"Woaaaaa now, don't get hasty here! I'm not wanting to get in any trouble now."

Stolz then raised their hand and snapped their fingers expressing they had a great idea "Hey how would you guys like to see something cool?" and then Stolz's arm swung around towards a pipe that was leaking water, extended their hand towards it and suddenly the water began to freeze and in a few seconds the leaking water was now a series of ice shards. Stolz then looked back at the group an remarked "I can freeze things and fling them around as I please, pretty cool huh?" They then added."Say, considering you people look pretty lost, how bout we team up?"

One of the girls in the group then replied "Well actually we're not really sure where we are so could use the help, do you happen know a way out?"

Stolz paused for a moment, then cheerfully replied "Nope." The group of people's expression was mixed between sudden surprise and general annoyance. Stolz then placed one their hands on the back of their head and embarrassingly said "Well, to be honest I have no idea where we are, usually I just keep wandering around and eventually I'll stumble on an exit. But not to worry, I'm sure there's one around here somewhere, so let's go!" And pointed towards the darkness of the long tunnel in a confident manner.

Alessa Gillespie 03/05/2010 01:10 AM

Maintaining a constant thought of holding the dirt in the air to support her bad leg was surprisingly exhausting. Moreover, her walking was still too slow for the other, able-bodied Destrillians, and she was left behind with Idris, that kind but strong girl from Viola. It was clear her ineptitude was not going to be any good for those around her, and with those soldiers coming they were certainly going to die. The brunette had thought that regaining the ability to walk would be able to help her, allow her to save her friends from danger. But yet again, she was nothing but a useless lump, and she was going to die along with the other Destrillian.

And yet suddenly, they were gone. Also there was a large tree in the middle of the ground that most certainly wasn’t there before, but the soldiers were gone as well. This could have only meant one thing. "Terra! Oh Terra, you're okay; I was so worried!" And suddenly, everything was alright now. Emma had come, she’d found her, and she’d saved her and Idris with some sort of plant. A bit odd, she would have supposed if this were any other point in time, but right now weird was welcome. The redhead hugged Terra, who gave out a contented sigh, even though she was starting to feel like her ribs were being crushed.

"I'm so sorry it took me so long to find you, I'm so, so sorry! I'll never leave you again, ever—I swear!" The apology didn’t mean much to the brown-haired girl, if only because she hadn’t held anything against Emma for not coming to help her. She was far more occupied with suddenly being kidnapped by a weird guy in armor, attempting to not be killed by soldiers and other Destrillians than to care terribly about not making her way home that day.

But now, with Emma’s help, the metal conductor made a suggestion, "Well, in any case, he's right. We've got to get down there or else it's curtains for us – as a heads up, Kerr and Thetis are down there too. It's like one big family reunion, eh?"

It was definitely time for everyone to go down to the sewers, the both of them holding onto her to carry her down. Terra quickly pushed her glasses back up her nose and held onto the girls as they prepared for the jump. As Idris counted down, Terra tightened her grip on the girls carrying her. On three, they jumped into the hole and the crippled girl held onto both of her friends just enough to stay up. The sewer floor was squishy, and to be entirely honest, she didn’t want to know what it was squishy with. Idris suggested that they introduce themselves. An introduction was going to be rather difficult, considering Terra’s condition, but she tried to give it a shot.


Eye am Terra Mikeals. Eye can control earth, and eye cant talk b/c eye hurt my brain whin we wer escaping Viola.

A strange intro, to be certain, but it was the best she had. As she spoke, she could feel something shift in the ground under her feet. It was odd, something she rarely noticed or paid attention to, but the earth seemed to be changing under her feet. She couldn’t interpret it properly, but something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong. Earth felt like it was bracing itself, becoming hot and charged, oh god, what the hell was going on?

Ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod

Like a rat, she got the urge to bury them all, deep underground, to keep all of them safe. The stone walls of the sewer would work, though she hadn’t moved stone since the day she’d destroyed Viola. Mentally, she forced the rock to move, to hold them all safe and sound inside of this dark drainage pipe. Even though it was giving her a fierce migraine, and she probably looked ridiculous with all of her pushing motions, the stone started to groan near the manhole cover, folding and shifting into something like a stone origami box top. Holding her arms up, forcing the stone to hold in place and not crumble down, she felt an incredible impact bear down on the rock. It almost felt like she was holding it up with her own shoulders, the weight of…well, the weight of whatever was boring down upon it was so intense. Though she knew it was only momentary, it felt like it took forever. The weight let up, and the stone relaxed, a shower of dust hitting Terra’s face. She coughed and sputtered, but at least there was one thing she knew. It was over. Whatever had struck the ground had been done, and they’d been safe within their little bomb shelter.

She let out a tired, relieved sigh, falling back into the sludge on the floor of the sewer. It was unpleasant, to say the least, but she’d managed to keep everyone safe from whatever the hell was happening on the ground above them. Certainly, whatever was trying to kill them wasn’t going to stop with that. They were going to come down to the sewers, find their corpses, or be horrified when they didn’t fine them. Then they would get their guns loaded and shoot them… assuming that they saw them. It was clear that they needed to get moving, even if Terra’s head was throbbing.

Every1, eye thnk we need 2 get movin or we may dye. Ema do u have n e thing that u culd use 2 splint mai leg?

As soon as she sent the message out, she was prepared to move. She pushed herself back to her feet, holding onto the wall and using her good leg for support. If she could get her splint on, she’d be fine to move on her own, even if she wasn’t going to be fast. The most important thing at the moment was making sure that they all made it out of the sewers, hopefully to safety. If nothing else, it at least kept them from the soldiers that were surely going to come for their dead bodies.

Hisako 03/07/2010 11:36 AM

spitting that shit out I’ll smash them Y-you bitch Oh man this is so disgusting squishy I say we cut our losses we get you out of here, hmm you’re going the wrong way I WILL set your ass on FIRE will k-k-kill me I thought you might like it so vulnerable, so naked without it get I-I love you we take the fifth exit don’t stay back or the turd gets it get The top floor ”this is the point of no return, isn’t it why won’t you all just die I will see you all maybe later wait, something’s wrong pathetic little nuisance what are you DOING a later time we’re not going to make it going to make it make it don’t look back, close your eyes NOW Hey you.


Silence


Aw come on talk to me


Silence

What’s wrong, rough day today

Silence

Oh and hey I finally got the sneakers I wanted the ones I mentioned to you earlier on the last time I talked to you about it

Nice.

Huh what

Must have been nice.

Yeah I haven’t had those sneakers since I was a little girl, you know and ohmygod they even still had the flashing lights

Flashing lights?

Yeah um they had little flashing lights they put on the shoes when you step on them they flash all these pretty lights

Good on you.

Wow you sound like you’re really in the dumps today Is it boy troubles Girl troubles

You care?

Um I guess I mean you’re one of the only people I really know although I don’t know your name, I’ve always meant to talk to you about that and ask

Sorry to disappoint.

Um okay But hey so what is it Boy or girl troubles

You could say a little bit of both

Hah well you can tell me all about it you know

Can’t say I can.

Oh well But anyway today I had some bubblegum and it was like soooo good

Silence

And then I got high-score on my simulation for the second time of the day, total wipe-out and then my boss went all rage on me and gave me a ton of crap but that guy can go fuck himse-

Your boss?

Yeah, he’s basically just some old dude who runs Denann and he gets money for sitting on his ass and ordering people around all day

I thought you did that.

Yeah but I’m like, I make that stuff fun Plus I have bubblegum that is very important. So where do you live

What?

Well I was just wondering cuz you know, we’re like buddies and I wanna meet you some time plus I need to figure out how we talk like this

I will get back to you on that.

But we’re like buddies right hey wait hello hello oh what don’t shut me out like this hon pretty please can you hear me how bout now or now can you hear me yet

“Brand!”

Jettison woke with a start. Daniel was sitting a few meters away from her, staring at her intently.

“Yo girl, we gotta make the meet. Sharkey says that there’s some shit goin’ on up on the Aboveground. He wants us watchin’ his ass. His goddamn multi-million ass. Motherfuckin’ rip-off don’t pay us a dime. One of these days I’ma gonna make that bitch cough up his fuckin’ title deeds for all the shit we’ve had to handle.”

Jettison nodded, dusting herself off as she sat up from her mattress. On occasion that she made conversation she made it clear that this was her ‘lair’, a haven that only she could be in and for others to enter at their own peril. She wasn’t feeling particularly hospitable today, but she wasn’t in any particular mindset to be killing any people today.
She walked out, bending two grate bars back into shape once she had walked through it. The rest of the gang was lazing about as usual, most back from their oddjobs on the Aboveground, sweeping trash and selling roadside flowers.
“We’re moving, boys and girls.” Jettison grabbed her quarterstaff, which came out of nowhere. The rest of the gang sprang into action and in ten minutes the den was completely empty and virtually unrecognizable from the rest of the sewers.

None of the gang spoke, a good twenty of them walking in dead silence. They were for all intents and purposes invisible to anything, but they were cautious nonetheless.
The sewer pipes were endless in all directions, threads in a spiderweb. But like the spider, Jettison knew practically every dusty and muck-ridden inch of it. So when she heard clattering noises at an estimate of less than a hundred feet away, Jettison instantly recognized it as a sewer hatch being opened and instinctively tensed up like a wild animal. The others followed, a tried and tested reflex that saved the lives of the gang countless times since the very beginning.
The first thing to do was to take a path around. Murphy’s Law was a good law and Jettison valued her numbers. There weren’t enough gang members for any of them to be expendable.
The second was to know what they were here for. A minute of listening to conversation and footfall told her there were about five people, maybe six, some in various states of injury and others in various states of armament.

Jettison closed her eyes, listening to her heartbeat pounding a notch above its normal snail’s pace. She formed her plan three beats later and opened her eyes.
“Nova.”

“Yeah, girl?”

***

“Deck-thirty-one, twenty-one-one, Peseta Dyson Bank on Fort Street, commercial district. 2 gunmen. Unknown number of civilians, presumably hostages. Any units respond. If you want.” A tired sigh drifted over the cracked microphone in the van. “Guys?”

“Deck-sixty-nine, Housekeeper, we’re on it.”

“Deck-forty, give it to ‘em, Wolf One.”

Arctos briefly fumbled with the small two-way receiver before roughly shoving it back in the slot on the dashboard. “Let’s move it Teddy.”

“On it, boss.” Ted Payton hurriedly ran over his tangled hair with a haircomb one last time before stuffing it into his jacket pocket and turned the key of their armored van, giving it a futile kick before it coughed into a guttural rumble half a minute later. “What’s the plan, sir?”

FONT=Verdana]“What do you think, genius? Two guys go into a bank, wanna rob the place. We keep them from offing everyone, try and get the civs out and then take them down clean and quick. Do it by the book. You do the sweet-talk, the rest of us find a back door and hit them if they get touchy with the hostages. Get geared up, guys.”
“We’re ready on your say-so, boss.” Arisa was already in her combat gear, repeatedly pulling out and putting in a magazine into her submachine gun, in her typical psyched state of dealing out justice and every other heroic cliché they had in store for the criminals. Madison ground the stub of her cigarette under her boot, and Luis slipped his handheld console into a magazine pouch for good measure.[/FONT

“Oy, Teddy.”

“What’s it this time, Maddy?”

“Don’t fuck up.”

“Yessuh, ma.”

“Stop with the attitude. And don’t fuck up. If you cause shit that the boss, me, and Arisa have to clean up after, I swear on your early grave I will be cleaning up the locker rooms with a bar of soap and your face.”

“What about me, Matron?”

“Luis, dear boy, if you actually have to shoot anything today it means we’ll all have fucked up, and that’s not going to happen. So go find a visible rooftop, put your clay-shooter up and pretend to look dangerous. Play your Playbox or something. Your lucky hour.”

“As you wish, Matron.”

They pulled up to the battered roadblock hastily propped up in the middle of the road and Ted barely turned the key before the van went still, giving out a cough from its engine as if to punctuate its pathetic life with a verbal fullstop.

The team began to file out onto the street, and the first thing they noticed was that they could feel tiny tremors rippling under their feet periodically, which they instantly picked out to have the familiar characteristics of –

“Explosions.”

“How far off?”

“I’d say pretty far. Probably would guess even the other side of this city. At least.” Ted snatched up the two-way receiver just before he was about to shut the door.
“Deck-twenty-three Housekeeper, but what’s the word on the wire? Something big going down in residential?”

“That’s a yes Wolf Four, but IRIN called in. We’ll handle it later.”
“Deck-forty. Keep us posted, Housekeeper.” Putting the receiver back on the dashboard of the van, Ted pulled out two large plastic bags from under the seat, filled with what looked like takeaway boxes of food. Noticing the strange looks in his direction, he shrugged.

“Southside Takeaway is the best peace offering. Gets my nieces and nephews to sit down an’ shut up every time.”

“Just get it done, Wolf Four. We’ll find a back entrance, Wolf Five is on communications and tech, bring sniper cover as Plan C. Wolf Two and Three on me.”

In minutes, Luis was on a rooftop opposite the bank, looking bored with a suitcase full of surveillance and communications equipment, Madison was shearing through cable sheathing in a service tunnel to fix a transmitter, Arctos and Arisa were sitting by the fire stairs testing their headsets and Ted was slowly approaching two gunmen with nothing but a headset and two bags of Southside Takeaway.
The wind picked up a notch and raised its whistle a semitone.

“You got me, Wolf Five?”

“Airwaves are clear, Wolf Four. How is the progress going, Wolf Three?”

“Twenty seconds until I get this fixed, keep yer pants on Wolf Five.”

“In twenty seconds I’ll be held by gunpoint by the perps, we need surveillance and floor plans asap.” Ted slowly walked towards the huge glass surface of the bank entrance, hands raised in the air. The doors slid open silently and let out the noises from a hostage situation he had heard so many times before.

“Open the fucking safe, or I will put one in your other leg, ya fucking old coot!”

“I-I-I d-d-”

Before any of the scene could get any worse, Ted gulped and broke the tension for a fraction of a second with an ‘ahem’ that in hindsight was a ridiculous noise to make in such a situation.

“The fuck? Don’t you take another step closer, shitface!”

Even before the bank robbers had turned towards him to train their guns at his chest, Ted had drawn a profile in his mind. Facts and inferences flew through his mind and painted the details he needed to relay. Dropping his voice, he kneeled in an offer of submission, and thumbed his earpiece in one swift movement as he raised his hands.
“Wolf One, I have eyes on the prize. Fifteen hostages gathered around the columns, one needs medical attention. Two perps are armed with a nine-millimeter long and a ten-millimeter short. Needle tracks indicate probably -”

“Aw man, he’s a frickin’ cop! I knew this was a bad idea!”
“Dude, shut the fuck up and keep an eye on him! What’s in the bag, punk?”

“Woah, woah, take it easy, man. It’s just takeaway, I thought some of you guys might be hungry and I brought some along.”

“Put them on the – the ground! Yeah, that’s it – now step the fuck away. Go check the goods, Boxcars.”
“W-what? I-I’m not checking no fucking cop’s bags! No way!”

“That wasn’t a fuckin’ suggestion, mofo, do it!”

While the bickering flared up, Ted scanned their appearances a bit more closely. They appeared to be in their early twenties, although heavy drug use had added a few errant years to their age and had given them the tell-tale signs of homelessness and the traits of small-timer criminals. Malnourishment had had its toll on their faces, gaunt-like, pale and sweaty with nervousness, fear, and (as far as Ted could assume) withdrawal symptoms. Tattered clothes, perhaps stolen as he could see a price tag still hanging off a few, seemed to be thrown onto themselves rather than worn, and in many layers. They were probably all the clothes they had, further causing the stink of sweat in even such a perfectly air-conditioned and well-ventilated area like this.

As the psychologist of the team Ted rationalized them into their constituents, took them apart and put them back together in his head. Neuroticism, extroversion, non-openness, antagonism, undirectedness, all in different scales. While the gunmen weren’t professional bank robbers and more along the profiles of small-timers looking for a quick fix, the fact that they were so spontaneous and suffering from withdrawals made handling them as easy as handling old dynamite with a hot poker.

The man referred to as ‘Boxcars’ finished rifling through the bags, his expression shifting from twisted and fearful to twisted and somewhat less panicked.
“I-it’s food. It’s Southside Takeaway!”

Behind the cautious, narrowed eyes, Ted could detect the slightest hint of approval.

“W-what do we do now Hearts?”

“Give some to the other guys.”

“What, why?”

“To make sure they’re not pulling anything funny, like poison or whatever, dumbfuck!”

Boxcars rapidly nodded, sweat droplets trickling down his face as he pulled out a warm takeaway box filled with rice and sweet and sour prawns, and slid it across the floor towards one of the frightened hostages, who flinched as it struck them in the foot.

“E-eat it! Fuckin’ eat it!” The woman squealed in terror as Boxcars frantically waved his gun at her. As she quickly tore the lid off, Hearts looked Ted up and down with bloodshot eyes.

“And why the hell should we let you live, cop? Why not I just shoot you in the face and get it over with?”

The robbers flinched as Ted began to stand up.
“I’m the negotiator.”

“Well here’s something to negotiate – you get us a fucking truck, we leave with the money through the back door. You don’t follow us. How bout that, dipshit?”

Ted ran his left hand through the tangles in his hair, and let free a shadow of a smile. “Uh, well, you see, I’m not so sure that the rest of the cops out there would like that. Now, before you say anything -” He raised a hand before Hearts could yammer out another phrase with the word ‘fuck’ in it –
“I’d like to tell you right now that I would like to see this end without anyone getting hurt more than they already are. Now I don’t know if you can see them, but one of my buddies out there is on a rooftop looking at you guys down the scope of a rifle, and the rest of my team out there really want to finish their rounds so they can go home. Especially my friend up on the rooftop. He’s dying to get some of the action and it’s taken me all of my talk not to put two in your heads.”

“Uh, yes, of course. That’s right. The action. Yes.” Luis flicked a casual glance over the shoulder of his rifle as he nonchalantly twiddled on his console.

Hearts and Boxcars, as Ted was concerned, was nearing the breaking point, and he knew unless they wrapped it up soon, there was going to be a world of hurt breaking out in the bank. “So I guess the cops are all over the place, huh? W-well we’ve still got the hostages! They won’t frickin’ touch us with a body in between us!” Ted’s eyes lit up in alarm as Hearts pulled a quivering lump of a man to his feet, pressing the muzzle of his small rifle to the back of his head.
“Keep fuckin’ standing!”

“Mate, that’s another thing. Now I want to help you out, but you gotta help me as well. The man over there by the safe, that leg looks real nasty, and I need to give the cops waiting to bust all the doors and windows in this place some sort of faith so that they don’t turn this place into a shooting gallery. I need you to let that man and maybe one or two of the others go.”

“The fuck? Why would I send anyone else out?”

“You don’t expect that guy to walk out of here by himself, do you? If anyone dies now, this all screws up and I don’t know what’ll happen. Hell, anything can happen. I can’t guarantee you’ll get away with it, but if no-one else gets hurt, we can try and lessen whatever you land with.” Ted absently thought about how much it was a lie, and he knew anyone who had tried a stick-up in a bank and shot someone in the leg wasn’t going to get away easy anytime soon.

Ted’s earpiece crackled as the rest of the team began to get ready.

“Wolf Four, we’ve analysed the floor plans Wolf Three hacked for us. Wolf Five will hack security feeds as a precaution, and break in through the 2nd floor. We’ll move in on your say-so. From what we’re hearing I don’t think these guys are going to back down fast enough.”
“Okay Number Two.” He looked up as Hearts’ bottom lip quivered in nervousness and he snapped at the injured man and two other hostages to leave.

[COLCOLOR=red] “Go on, get the fuck out!” Almost immediately two of them took the man and hobbled out the front door as fast as possible.
“Now what happens?”
“Now we can talk about how you’re going to get out of here. If the cops break in, I need you guys to drop your guns. That way we can end this without anyone getting hurt.”

“Now we can talk about how you’re going to get out of here. If the cops break in, I need you guys to drop your guns. That way we can end this without anyone getting hurt.”

“Fuck man, we ain’t going without some juice for the boss! He’ll whack us dead if he finds out we’ve been caught!”

Ted frowned at the remark. As ridiculous as it sounded, there always was the possibility that gang members in custody would be silently killed off by police officers under a gang’s payroll. The risk obviously depended on how much they knew about the gang’s activities.
Although from Ted’s profiling, he didn’t particularly see the two quivering lumps posing as bank robbers as being very high on the chain of command, but at the moment he had bigger problems to worry about.

The withdrawn faculties of the robbers had overridden their need for self-preservation. In short, in his head, they were going to snap very soon, and sure enough, they broke the fragile balance of peace with a wavering outcry and the pointing of guns at Ted’s face.

“I’m not goin’ to jail jus’ to get offed by the boss, ya fuckin’ cop!”

Well, that does it. “We’re green, Wolf One!”
No sooner than Ted dropped to the floor, a door slammed open and a canister was dropped from the overhanging balcony. Even with his face on the ground, his eyes squeezed shut and his fists in his ears, he could hear the deafening bang ring through his head and catch the flash of light behind his eyelids, as everyone else on the ground floor screamed, clapped their hands over their eyes and ears, or both. In an instant afterwards, a second canister hit the floor and started billowing out a thick plume of smoke that was cut through by three figures promtly roping off the balcony.

Even through the pain in his eyes and ears, one of the men fired aimlessly upwards, fear in his cries of anger cut short by the distinctive snap-clack of a shotgun and a multitude of swearing. The other, dropping his gun, had a short scuffle with one of the team before being floored by a solid punch to the cheek, only letting out a strained groan afterwards as Ted stood up, coughing lightly.

“The first one’s rubber, boy, but the rest are the real thing. I wouldn’t try anything if I were you.”
The sound of handcuffs brought Ted down to earth and in minutes the hostage rescue was over.

Ted walked up to Arctos, who leaned on the front grille of their armored truck, nursing his bandaged right hand.
“That was a nice right hook, boss. Aren’t you worried about the jaw he got you on?”

Arctos would have sneered if he was bothered enough.

“A face isn’t any good if it can’t take a few hits. How’s the manager doing?”
“He bled out enough to pass out when they put him back on the ground, but Luis has him stabilized enough to survive the night in a hospital. He’ll live.”

Arctos took a few deep breaths, and pushed himself off the front of the truck, and opening the driver’s door grabbed the receiver, while the rest of the team finished packing their gear away.
“Deck-sixty-eight, Housekeeper, Deck-ninety-two and good for drop-off. We’re deck-forty-two.”
“Deck-forty Wolf One, good job. See you back home.”

***

Arctos pulled up his sedan on the grass, trying to keep the engine as quiet as possible when he noticed the other car already parked in the driveway. The neighborhood, despite the uncomfortable distance to the Orange Zone, was silent save for the night-time cicadas and the faint breeze that rattled various small loose things and whistled through the trees. Tranquility at its best, and Arctos knew every night that ended like this was a better night than most.
Even the evident thumps of explosions and rattles of gunfire (that would have been very audible in this part of the residential zone) were now gone.

Evidently, the engine wasn’t quiet enough.

As soon as he reached the metal grate front door, a single, low snuffling bark came from behind the doors and Arctos rolled his eyes as scratching noises followed. He almost stepped back as the massive bear of a dog stood on its hind legs and pawed at Arcto’s stomach.
“Dog...” Arctos tried to push it back down onto the floor, but the giant dog held fast, forcing him to shuffle to the side of the doorway and in a semi-circle so he could walk past.
“Dog, stop it. Heel, Dog.”

“Aw, he’s been nervous the whole day, he’s been pining for you pretty much the entire afternoon. Don’t be so surprised.” The voice that cut through the snuffling and Arctos’ grunting put a smile to his face and softened the furrows in his brow even as he tripped over and collapsed on the couch.

Although nearing her mid-forties, Lynn Wolfe didn’t look even ten years as old. The only lines on her face deepened at the dimples of her smile, and the only wrinkles present were a complement to the twinkle in her eyes. With a slender beauty in her figure and her face, she had aged as gracefully as humanly possible and to the extent that she was envied by her friends.

And by Arctos’ friends as well.

“Dog, come here.” Attracted by the smell of a chunk of a treat in Lynn’s hand, the dog immediately got off Arctos and ran in a bumbling gallop across the living room floor, tongue lolling out from a mouth almost completely hidden by the mass of fur enveloping his body. “Oh, you like them don’t you?” she grinned even wider and giggled as Dog snuffled in reply and snatched the treat from the tips of her fingers.

Arctos wrinkled his nose as he took off his coat and unbuttoned his shirt.
“It must have been the takeaway that Ted took with him today. That stuff smells something nasty.”

“Well, your shirt always ‘smells something nasty’, it’s no wonder he recognizes you a mile off. If my nose was any better, so would I.” She firmly pressed the fridge door closed as Arctos began to open it.
“And no drinking tonight. I want you showered and ready for bed.”

“Huh?” Ten years ago, Arctos would have clearly construed a meaning from those words and woul have gone upstairs with a whoop and a holler, but now he was too troubled by alcoholism to think about it.

Lynn’s tone of voice softened.
“Today was horrible. Lana ran home today, she was almost in tears. I left work early and found her on the front doorstep, trying to break into our own house. After a bit of coaxing, she told me that she’d been hanging out with her friends, at Targus Alley.”

“What!?” Arctos’ eyes instantly flared up, and he almost forgot about the throbbing pain he had in his knuckles.
“That’s only half a mile from the Orange Zone! What the hell was she think-”

“That’s not the point right now.”Lynn’s even voice and her ‘shushing finger’ (as she so affectionately called it) cut him off short.
“She described crazy things to me, she seemed to be in complete shock. She said she saw giant trees, an army there, fighting a giant tree and water flying in strange shapes. If she wasn’t afraid of the Orange Zone, she sure is now.”

“Good.” Arctos grumbled as he dropped his hands to his sides.
“I still gotta have a word with her though.”

“You won’t tonight, I put her to bed early. We can talk about it tomorrow.” She cupped Arctos’ chin in her hands with a tenderness that softened his expression again.
“The fact is, the noises scared the hell out of me too. I asked around what was happening, but no-one seems to know. They’ve cordoned the area.”

Arctos murmured. “They asked me and my team to go and comb through the place tomorrow. I’m sorry I couldn’t get here earlier, hon. We had this hostage situation that the higher-ups couldn’t ignore for once.” He vaguely recalled the conversation they had back at the headquarters and in the locker room. They were to go and look at the scene tomorrow morning, and come back with an evaluation of damages and determine a public statement that would appease the people.
An evaluation. Arctos mentally rolled his eyes. In better days, the police would have investigated the matter right down to the last detail and made some arrests. But, as Madison had reminded him, “We aren’t in better days any more.”

“Did anyone get hurt?”
“One guy got shot in the leg, he’s fine though. I busted my hand a bit knocking someone out.”

“Oh my god!” in a flash, she was fidgeting with his right hand, blushing at the fact that she hadn’t noticed it before.
“Is it serious?”

“Uh, I can’t honestly say. I can go to work tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
Lynn shook her head.
“You’re not young anymore, Archie. You got to stop getting yourself beat up like this.”

“Well, look at you, you’re still young.” Arctos let loose a lopsided smile as the remark only deepened Lynn’s blush. He thumbed her chin with a callused hand.
“We both know that every time -”

“Oh stop it.”
She giggled and batted away his hand with her own.
“But seriously, do take care of yourself tomorrow. And find out what the hell’s going on. You watch the news, right?”

“Do I ever.” Viola was, for all intents and purposes, old news, but the recent turn of events had put their remains back in the limelight as rumours fed into television networks and turned into sellable current affairs. Both Lynn and Arctos knew the gut feelings they had on the issue weren’t unfounded. The investigation, like all others, made in the AED’s jurisdiction was cut off, but the documents that had been discovered, the wreckage that had been recovered, and the interviews – interrogations, rather – that had been done, had blown the mystery wide open and left a den of unexplored secrets to explore.

“So I want you with me tonight. I don’t want you lost in your own black hole anymore. I can only do so much for Lana, she needs a strong guiding hand like yours. And I need one too.” The pleading in her eyes was like a knife in his heart, making it ache so tangibly. It wouldn’t take away his alcoholism, but it was a look that made him hate himself for what he had become.

The snuffling of Dog at Arctos’ heel broke the sadness around them, but the atmosphere of tenderness remained. “I’ll do my best, hon.”

“Good. Now let’s get you both cleaned up and ready for bed.”

***

“Ohoy, Jettison, I’m glad yer here! Some of the guys an’ gals down in The Mirage are gettin’ nervous with all that shit goin’ on down at the Border.” The man trying to keep up with her in the nightclub crowd was less than a few inches shorter than her, yet her presence dwarfed everyone in the pit. He gave a lecherous laugh, driven more by nervousness than anything, and held onto the fat cigar between his pudgy, ring-encased fingers like it was a security blanket.
“Maybe perhaps you could put in a little extra to keep them, ya know, at ease an’ everything.”

Jettison hardly acknowledged his presence as she sauntered the familiar path to the innermost enclosed room in the building. The man didn’t know it, but she hated it when people called her by her first name.

It was all about emphasis, and the word itself was an emphasis on decrepitude. The word revealed the meaning of her life, and the path that it had taken. It was anathema to all that she had been working for her entire lifespan that wasn’t riddled with pockets of amnesia. Although she had chosen the name herself, over time she wore it less and less as a badge of pride and felt it as more and more of a mockery, of a self-constructed taunt that deprecated her status as a gang leader.
And deprecated her abilities as a stealth killing machine.

As she neared the velvet-lined door, the man pressed on, more emphatic than before. “I mean, I know you’re doing high-class stuff for me, I’m not baggin’ yer skill, but if you don’t get some new ideas, all the boys an’ girls on the floor are gonna feel we’re gettin’ stale, ya know? And when that happens, kapoof!” he flicked open his fists out in front of her, making her stop before she turned the handle of the door. “Where yer gonna get a job?”

Jettison whirled around and in a fraction of a second had the dwarf-like, pudgy man dangling a foot above the ground against a wall – by the neck.
“And when are you going to pay us for the protection, King? If that is your real name, you wannabe fuck?”

She could imagine King’s mind going over his possibilities, and mentally smiled as his options dwindled like his oxygen supply. She tightened her grip just a tiny bit to quicken the pace.

“Orright… jus’ … lemme -”

She let him drop in a crumpled heap, choking and gasping for breath, where she left him there. She waved her hand at her following gang members, and turned to open the door. “Thought you might say so.”

She walked into her other lair, and worked her magic.

***

The Destrillians – or more accurately now, the motley travelling party - in the sewer felt like the air was closing in on them. For most, there was no outward reaction to it, but with animal-like instincts they knew things could go very wrong down here. The Orange Zone could be a death-trap for the unprepared.
They didn’t walk much further, when an animal growl ahead in a particularly dark section of the sewers put them on alert. It was generally rule of thumb that anything larger than a small feral cat would find it nigh impossible to survive down in the Underground, so when a massive, man-size leopard-like beast with glistening fur like illuminated snow padded out of the darkness, some of the Destrillians didn’t know what to think and Kram was somewhat surprised that he couldn’t differentiate it from the rest of the darkness.

In fact, a moment’s of probing gave the travelling party the impression that the animal’s mind was completely opaque and unreadable, something which put them on edge further. A wave crested through the animal’s fur as it growled again, padding away from them but stopping as the fur seemed to become a light source.

Now, it illuminated the path of the sewers for them, the faint glow adding soft light to a harsh environment. It looked back at them, and gave a sort of low bark, as if, mysteriously, asking them to follow it, the mysterious feeling it gave off weighing heavily on their shoulders.

Bex 03/22/2010 10:49 PM

For a second, Thetis had forgotten everything – who she was, where she was, and why she was there.
The smell of the sewer soon brought her crashing down to earth. Her mouth was dry, her eyelids felt heavy, her body ached – though not as badly as she expected. Although it wasn’t too uncomfortable, Thetis was becoming increasingly irritated by her torso continually colliding with someone’s back. Some moments later, Thetis realised she had been slung over someone’s shoulder. How charming, she thought, as her forehead rhythmically banged into her saviour’s spine. Sculpted plates of metal bit into her hips as she was carried along the decaying walkway.
By the Dark Rider.

Whether it was because of the stench of sewage, the unbearable humidity or the humiliation of being carried by an over-zealous vigilante, she didn’t know, but Thetis felt nauseous. Any relief she may have had regarding their escape had quickly dissipated as she listened to fast paced footfalls squelching in the inches of slime and dirt which covered the sewer walkway.

Even if Thetis hated living undercover, she hated running from Viola even more. It never seemed to end, even after 4 years, even after Viola had fallen – now the army was chasing them, and if the army failed, they would call in IRIN. It was hopeless. They didn’t have anywhere to run anymore, and if the media had caught any surveillance of those involved during the motel incident, there was no returning to Orange Zone. #006’s fringe, now grey with dust, fell over her eyes as she squinted at those who trailed behind the Dark Rider. It was pitch black, and Thetis could barely make out the figures of Idris, Terra, and much to her dismay, Kerr. However, there was another girl walking by Terra’s side. She had hardly changed at all.

“Emma!”

This abrupt interruption of the silence surprised even Thetis, who immediately felt awkward in the face of her comrades. She wriggled and clawed her way free of the Dark Rider’s grip before pulling Emma into a hug. Thetis felt embarrassed, but as Idris would say, in these situations – family comes first. It had been such a long time since they had all been together like this, and for the first time in four years, despite everything that had happened, Thetis felt like she was at home.

Then there was Kerr. As soon as she caught glimpse of those pitiless eyes, she fell silent and sullen. Thetis didn’t think that there was anyone who could kill her mood faster. She folded her arms, the calmness of her voice belying the sheer fury that she felt.

“What is he doing here?”

Thetis’ elation disappeared as quickly as it had come. She was wary at the ease with which Kerr had infiltrated their group and how the others had so blindly accepted his intrusion. They just didn’t seem to understand. With him around, they would always be looking over their shoulders. It had started with Ariel, then the others. If it wasn’t for the timely arrival of the Destrillians, Thetis would probably be buried under the rubble of the motel, or thrown in a ditch somewhere. His presence infuriated her almost as much as the party’s inability to sense the threat he posed. Thetis knew there was safety in numbers, but Kerr was like a splinter under a nail, slowly festering away, infecting the group with all manners of malevolence. #006 couldn’t tell if she was shaking due to anger or loss of blood, but it felt as if all the frustration she had suppressed while they fought the army had suddenly reared its ugly head. Thetis rounded on Kerr. The others needed to know, regardless of the consequences.

He’s the only reason we’re down here, you know,”

Thetis violently kicked a chunk of moss into the stagnant green water before jabbing a finger at #011.

“If he hadn’t tried to kill me in that motel, we wouldn’t be in this situation,”

Thetis was spitting venom. She didn’t want to divide the Destrillians, but the words had spilled out of her mouth before she could stop them. She felt a bit sorry for the three girls, but that was soon quashed by an overwhelming sense of vindication. If the party agreed to kick Kerr out, she was confident that things could only get better. One error of judgement could easily be countered and remedied, Thetis thought. Before she could be caught up in an argument, #006 turned heel and stormed ahead. She was feeling quite drained and hated arguments- especially with Kerr- whose monotone only seemed to rile her up the wrong way.

Some might have called her behaviour childish, but to Thetis, it was quite cathartic. She wasn’t just angry at Kerr, but also at the others, and herself. Despite everything she’d been through, Thetis still had feeling of paranoia regarding everything Violan – Destrillians included. For them to let Kerr stay with them, after what he’d done – it felt like a betrayal. Thetis felt stupid for even thinking it; Idris, Emma and Terra were her friends. But not even her friends had always taken her seriously. Ever since she could remember, she had always been the weak one. Too afraid to speak her mind, too afraid to stand up for herself, always being protected by everyone else. And then they escaped Viola, and they were all free to live life on their own terms. Living with Fiona, and suffering so many failures working towards her goal had taught Thetis all she needed to know. How to act, how to treat other people and most importantly, how to be strong. However, even that wasn’t enough to get them out of this mess. They were lost in a maze of dank tunnels with no destination. She needed time to plan ahead. Thetis took a deep breath, which she instantly regretted - the smell of sewage making her sick to the stomach. The tunnels of the sewers must have been built before the war. The brick was rotting, moss and roots creeping through cracks in the cement, algae stuck to the banks that ran parallel to the river of sewage, rippling and winding for miles like a murky grey scarf.

After the red haze of anger, Thetis still hadn’t fully evaluated her physical condition. Her arm and nose had stopped bleeding, though the former still hung by her side like a dead-weight. It would heal with rest, though she grimaced at the thought of stitching the wound. Her clothes were still wet, which made her outfit even more uncomfortable in the sweltering heat of the sewer. What surprised her most was the lack of a pounding migraine, which, by the absence of the strange pink vials in her back pocket, meant that Thetis would begrudgingly have to thank the Dark Rider. #006 peered ahead, scouring the darkness for any sign of the strange masked man. As she passed him, Thetis awkwardly patted his shoulder before moving ahead. As Thetis walked forward, she caught view of someone else illuminated by an extremely dim light in the distance.

From behind, Thetis couldn’t tell if it was a boy of girl, but they were dressed almost as oddly as the resident vigilante. She had probably missed introductions, and if the others were following a stranger, it was likely this person had an escape plan. However, the stranger made Thetis feel a little uneasy. She didn’t recognise his energy signature as human, nor as Destrillian. Then again, she was exhausted, had been unconscious for a while and was in no fit state to use her powers – telepathic or not.

As Thetis approached the stranger, she had already reached her conclusion- short hair, shorts, boots, high socks equals boy. Thetis walked as briskly as she could to reach the stranger’s side. Catching a glimpse of his face only made her feel more uncertain, his eyes were hidden by goggles, and his face was quite girlish. Unaware of how awkward she may or may not have been making the boy feel, #006 continued to stare at him, as if she could construe some answer about his gender from this increasingly awkward scenario. After forming the opinion that the stranger was ‘odd’, ‘unfamiliar’ and possibly ‘dangerous’, Thetis leaned backwards and spoke coolly.

“Watch your back,”

She wasn’t sure if she was trying to be intimidating, or just being rude. It was most likely that he was like the Dark Rider, or just some human gang member, high on gold-dust or some other drug. Either way, as soon as they escaped the sewers, he wouldn’t be hanging around, especially if they got into a fight underground. If the motel was anything to go by, humans weren’t very receptive to Destrillian abilities. Thetis was wary of catching the stranger’s eye again, just in case she would all of a sudden change her mind about his gender. After the string of events that constituted the last few hours, Thetis didn’t need any more confusion. She picked at the folds of her t-shirt to distract herself from the newcomer. #006 hadn’t realised how filthy her clothes were until she’d seen them in the light. The light? Thetis raised her eyebrows.

Did I hit my head?

If there was any doubt before, now Thetis was sure that she had a concussion. The light source was like something she’d seen out of one of the B-movies IBC showed in the early hours. It was some kind of over-sized cat, she couldn’t tell if it was some form of leopard or not, but it was glowing with this almost ethereal light. Thetis’ mouth hung open in disbelief – things never seemed to be simple when it came to the Destrillians. But if TV was to be believed, any form of intangible light was usually a good thing. Well, in one movie she’d seen it had been a symbol of death, but still. TV had taught her that light was good - even if it was in the form of some furry leopard cat...thing. Thetis didn’t question why she was more willing to trust a gender confused junkie and a glowing animal more than she was willing to trust Kerr, but it was probably because a light imbued leopard had never tried to stab her in the back before. It was probably the concussion. Most of all, it was because #006 had absolutely no idea what had happened since she blacked-out. Could the others even see this thing? No matter. What choice did they have? Spinning on her heels, Thetis turned to face the party, pointing over her shoulder to the dimly lit corridor.

“Let’s go.”

Alex 03/23/2010 12:26 AM

The dull, wet and awkward splash made by the sound of three or four people hitting the floor wasn’t quite enough for Kerr to pull himself out of the overpowering sense of nostalgia that had momentarily ensnared his senses.

He gently closed his eyes, trying to discern each individual Destrillian from the echoing sound made by their footsteps as they headed towards the position where Kerr and Thetis had been left. Kram was the easiest to discern, his footsteps were loud and forceful. Idris was the next one he could tell, even on the soft wet ground of the sewer floor her footsteps were barely audible. Her figure was so slight and her movements so precise that she barely made any noise at all. Terra came next, awkward and shuffling and curiously supported by another Destrillian, one who his advanced sensory perception hadn’t even detected during his moment of reminiscence.

What a foolish moment of weakness. He couldn’t trust any one of these Violan refugees. The second he lost his focus again like that then there was a good chance he would any one of his newfound ‘companions’ would stab him in the back.

His alert coal black eyes snapped open and he swivelled his head to get a look at this latest arrival to the party. Oh but of course, it wouldn’t be a reunion if at least one more member of their old team hadn’t showed up, and of course it would have had to have been Emma. He immediately recognised her from the trademark long red hair and the fact she was supporting Terra’s weight as the two made their way towards the rest of the group. Emma always had been far too caring and humane about those Destrillians she counted as ‘friends’, it was too bizarre, too alien to him. It wasn’t at all a shock then to find her so friendly with the one person from the group who was most in need of a hand to hold to stop herself from falling over.


"Okay, so who do we have here? Roll-call would be nice, seeing as we have newbies and besides… it's been a while. Nice to see everyone again.” Idris said taking a position in the centre of the group that was forming. Kerr didn’t even stand up, the people of this group were more strangers to him now than they had been when they had first met years ago. Their separate experiences in the outside world ever since they escaped from Viola had changed them all so fundamentally that he barely recognised them. Idris was so confident now, and Thetis had been so angry and bitter. They were all so human and emotional that they bore little more than superficial resemblance to the crude creatures they had been before, too confused by a life raised in stasis pods and battle simulations to ever make sense of their hormones and emotions.

“As a start we have Idris Savage, the Gunmetal Glint here, ready to protect against whatever the hell comes our way!”


He wasn’t feeling in the mood to introduce himself, everyone here knew him already, whether by their own recollection or by his reputation. He avoided Idris’s lingering gaze, instead occupying himself with watching Terra intently bobbing her head up and down, presumably trying to communicate psychically. He couldn’t hear a word of it, that part of his psychic abilities had long since withered away to nothingness, his brain was incapable of registering psychic thoughts as coherent words or even sounds. Instead of her words registering as words in his brain all he could hear was an indistinct white noise. It was comforting. Much like this sewer, the quiet was a refreshing change of pace following the frantic action that they’d just left behind them.

They all felt it at once as the sewer shook violently, showering them with dust from the old brickwork of the sewer. The military must be deploying whatever nightmare machine that the Destrillians had been so determined to escape from. Terra’s response was immediate, using the earth that the very sewer was built in to seal up and reinforce the entrance to the sewer. The shockwave that followed was even more violent, without Terra’s aid Kerr reckoned that there was a good chance that whatever weapon the military had just deployed would have burst through the already weakened sewer walls and killed them all.

Not wasting any time on thanks Kerr pulled himself to his tired feet, wincing at the severe aching in his muscles. He quickly assessed that there was no lasting damage to the nerves or muscles, they were just sore and tired. It had been a long time since he had been forced to tap his reserves of power this extensively.

The group was silent. A vast, yawning silence in the wake of the destruction that had been wrought to the battlefield they had just been fighting on. Nobody was quite sure what to say, it was awkward. Even though some of the Destrillians had remained friends they had never expected to all be thrown together like this, and they’d certainly never even dreamed of being reunited like this. In the same violence and chaos that they had wrought upon Viola when they had fought to break free and escape out into the real world.

It was Kram who broke the silence with a dogged sigh. “Now what?” he asked. Saying what they were all thinking.

Kerr said nothing, thinking too much at this point was beginning to be a chore. He hadn’t felt this tired since their great escape from the Viola facility. When he momentarily closed his eyes it felt as though he was beginning to drift off to comforting embrace of sleep, he was barely even listening to Kram’s instructions, telling the group to move on before the infantry figured out that their big expensive blast hadn’t killed anyone.

Then as quick as he was to welcome the chance to drift off he remembered the group he was with, and reminded himself what he had told himself before. He couldn’t trust a single one of them to watch his back.

Then something rather unusual happened.

A young man, even smaller and skinnier than Kerr was had appeared a short way down the sewer and was strolling towards them with a confidence mimicked by the broad smile on his face. Kerr couldn’t tell what was more shocking, the apparent emergence of this random interlude following their harrowing escape from an overwhelming military force, or the fact he could not tell whether or not this man was a boy or girl. From a distance it had appeared to be a man, but on closer inspection, the clothes seemed baggy enough to hide any hint of cleavage, and his facial features seemed soft and delicate. He would have been able to tell more from his eyes, however they were hidden behind a pair of dark, thick goggles.

Why the hell was this random person down here in Osea’s sewers.

"Hiya! Fancy running into a bunch of people down in thi-"

More importantly, why had it taken him so short a period of time to accidently stumble upon the Destrillians.

"Hahahahaha! Oh my god when did the circus get into town?! Ahahahahaha!"

As little as Kerr cared for this individual’s eccentric behaviour the feelings of suspicion were a far more serious concern. Kram on the other hand, had already drawn his baton at the new arrival and activated the flashlights on his damaged armour. For the first time since they met only a short while ago, Kerr couldn’t help but agree with Kram’s choice of action. Either this man was an idiot, in which case killing him would weigh on his conscience in the same way that making a sandwich would. Or he was deliberately searching for them, in which case killing him would be removing one more obstacle in the way of the party.


"Sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself, anyway my name's Stolz, pleased to meetcha!”

Kerr said nothing but crossed his arms defensively, already coming to the conclusion that this person needed to die. Only a lingering sense of curiosity over whether or not he was an enemy or not was preventing a swift, trachea-crushing, elbow to the stranger’s throat.


“Woaaaaa now, don't get hasty here! I'm not wanting to get in any trouble now.”


Kerr would have suspected mind reading if it wasn’t for Kram thrusting his baton at the stranger. He risked a cautious glance back towards the girls, Terra, Emma and Idris all seemed to sharing the mutual expressions of shock and confusion that he was feeling. Were they getting the same bad feeling about the appearance of this random human that he was? Were they sharing his suspicion? There had already been far too many coincidences today.

“Hey would you guys want to see something cool”


“Actually, I’d just want to see us get moving thanks” Momentarily shocked that he had broken his customary barrier of intimidating silence, he cast a nervous eye over the rest of the Destrillians, wondering if any of the others had caught his moment of weakness.

However what happened next made him forget all about that brief moment of self-consciousness. He watched as Stolz spun on the spot to turn the water leaking from one of the burst pipes on the wall into a shower of sharp, freezing iciles that hung from the rusty pipe like a fountain of intricate crystal. Stolz certainly looked impressed with himself, Kerr however looked dumbfounded. It was bad enough that they’d run into Armour-Man, armed to the teeth with technology that wouldn’t have looked uncommon amongst the ranks of a Violan run private military company, and now there was this bizarrely dressed, inappropriately chirpy young individual who seemingly had the power to control ice.

Yet another new Destrillian? No. Kerr came to the conclusion instinctively. His energy signature did not read like the other Destrillians’. His psychic perception was perhaps the most highly trained of anyone else’s here. Even if he had just been through a long and tiring battle, his senses wern’t dulled enough to let the realization that whoever this false Destrillian was. He was not one of them.

"Say, considering you people look pretty lost, how bout we team up?"


So you can lure us into a trap? No thanks. Was all Kerr could think about. The sewer gangs of Osea were nothing that this party of Destrillians would be unable to handle on their own. However with their backs turned, this new arrival could probably wipe most, if not all of them out in a matter of minutes if they were caught off guard. On the other hand though, Kerr had no intention of spending the next few hours blindly wandering around a section of Osea’s sewers that he wasn’t familiar with.

"Well actually we're not really sure where we are so could use the help, do you happen know a way out?"
Idris spoke up, voicing Kerr’s concerns but devoid of any of his maddening suspicion and cynicism. It was infuriating, he had stayed alive as long as he had by being more so paranoid and so cautious. Emma seemed so normal that she was practically another human, none of it made sense.

Then again absolutely nothing else about today made much sense either.

"Well, to be honest I have no idea where we are, usually I just keep wandering around and eventually I'll stumble on an exit. But not to worry, I'm sure there's one around here somewhere, so let's go!" Fantastic, Kerr though tiredly, as he watched their new ‘guide’ march on ahead into the sewer’s enigmatic darkness.

“Emma!” The apparent silence of their march into the rotting heart of the sewers was broken by the most unexpected voice. Kerr hadn’t thought it was possible for Thetis to recover that fast, it looked like Kram’s medicine was at the least medicially useful, regardless of whatever dangerous side-effects there might be.

Instinctively he felt his hands curl into fists as he turned around to glare at his rival, who had freed herself from Kram’s grip and leapt to embrace her friend. Their eyes met mere moments later, and no matter how tattered, bruised and bloody they had were now, the instense spark of hatred ignited in their gaze signalled that they were ready to start round 2 right here in the sewer in front of their new companions and old friends.

“What is he doing here?” she spoke venomously, withdrawing herself from Emma in order to devote her full attention, and animosity, on Kerr.

This is going to get tedious, Kerr sighed. Resigning himself to silence in preparation for the vicious onslaught on his presence with the group.

“He’s the only reason we’re down here, you know. If he hadn’t tried to kill me in that motel, we wouldn’t be in this situation”
she snarled at him. Angry and feral, like a wild dog, she was absolutely determined to split Kerr off from the rest of the group. Ordinarily Kerr would have loved nothing more to detach himself from this bizarre collection of individuals, but in his weakened state and the apparent sense of the enormous odds against him made him less inclined to split up from the rest of the party, at least for now.

“Are you finished whining?” he spat at her back contemptuously. Infuriated by the fact she’d awoken so soon, Kerr gritted his teeth and fell behind the rest of the group. Watching one by one as they proceeded to follow Stolz down the walkway, Kram was in second place, followed by Thetis, who seemed determined to put as much space between herself and Kerr as humanly possible. Kerr wasn’t complaining. The trio of girls followed next, Emma and Terra walking as a couplet, the former apparently nervous about the condition of the splint she’d just applied to Terra’s leg. Idris however, ever universally sceptical looked as though she didn’t know who to trust amongst all the new faces, and Kerr.

“You.”
He spoke to her quietly, falling in line at the rear of the column of wandering misfits. “I’m not going to ask you to trust me” he continued whispering, now that he’d gotten Idris’ attention he didn’t want to alert the others. “I’m asking you not to trust this Stolz. You must have felt it too. His energy signature, it wasn’t like ours. The others trust you, make sure that if they’re not watching their own backs, then you’re watching them for them.” They had more chance of surviving a double cross if more people were aware, it wasn’t as though they would listen to him afterall. It was still a concern, his inclusion in this group was balancing on the head of a pin, and he was nowhere near strong enough on his own right now to cope with the military presence directed towards the Destrillians after the incident in the Orange Zone. His best chance of survival meant sticking with the group, and the best way to stick with the group was to prove that he was actually useful to them.

Suddenly the tunnel up ahead was illuminated with a bright light, it was brilliant in its radiance against the grimy walls of the sewer and Kerr’s instincts immediately readied himself for another fight. But then suddenly, the light began to fade away and the group began to hurry on after it. Kerr cursed his short height and the fact he had been at the back of the group, he hadn’t even seen what the source of this light had been.

“Let’s go!”
he heard Thetis call out from the front of the group, spurring the group on to follow what appeared to be n illuminated trail on the sewer floor.

At least it couldn’t have been anything crazier than anything else that had happened to him today.

Right?

NoenGaruth 03/24/2010 12:28 PM

First Impressions.....first impressions....did not go as well as planned. Honestly I thought someone might like me....I mean I was friendly and showed them the ice thing, what more do these people want? Maybe if I keep up the niceness they'll warm up to me....except the black eyed one, I suspect he doesn't like me very much and will probably stay that way...

Lost in their thoughts, Stolz was standing still with a vacant expression on their face. The group was at a stop as the one of them who'd been previously unconscious had woken up, a blue haired girl, with a white fringe, it was rather pretty actually, reminded Stolz of a split ice cream, you know, the ones that are an popsicle with an ice cream centre, only blue...

....except I don't think there is a blue flavour, tho I wish there was as I could really go for one right about now...

Once again Stolz had drifted off subject, so much that they failed to notice the blue haired girl was now standing right beside them, sussing them out. Stolz stared back, although the goggles hid their eyes, and after a second tilted their head to the side and smiled at the girl. However the response from the blue haired stranger was not as friendly, as she simply leaned backwards and said.

"Watch your back"

Stolz paused for a second, then realised that those words could be constructed as a form of warning or threat....which while hurtful, wasn't actually that surprising considering this girl had just woken up to find someone as unusual as Stolz suddenly there. So they decided to just smile once again at the girl and stand patiently until the party would decide to move again...or would have if not distracted by a faint light in the darkness ahead. Stolz however was less amused upon discovering the light source to be some kind of large animal and not something more interesting like a vampire. Nevertheless it seemed this thing was wanting the group to follow it, probably back to it's lair so it could feast on the young people....

"Let's go" Called out the popsicle girl to everyone before heading in the direction of the creature, and it seemed everyone else was following suit, so Stolz thought 'sure why not?' and began striding merrily in the same direction.


___________________________________________________
IRIN International Headquarters, Vanaheimr
___________________________________________________


At night , The city of Vanaheimr was truly a spectacle to see. A large spanse of tall buildings and other beautiful structures rose above the skyline, all lit systems and highways spiralled in and around the buildings leading to practically every part of the metropolis. The streets were full of fancy high tech vehicles and various robotic units that performed all sorts of public service duties from garbage collection to law enforcement patrols. Yes indeed this city was the pinnacle of technological advancements, because after all, it was owned by IRIN, a fact made so obviously clear by it's main office being built into the side of the cliff face that overlooked the entire city. IRIN Headquarters was a monumental piece of architecture, a fortress made of steel and concrete, with massive neon letters at the top of the central building that spelled out in two rows 'IRIN' and 'International'.

On the main heliport a row of soldiers stood at attention as a VTOL transport gently set down. The vehicles side doors opened and out of it emerged Lieutenant General Maya Circe, looking as serious as ever. The last four years had seen little change for Circe physically, save for her attire which was that of a IRIN general, a dark green jacket with gold buttons and 3 gold stars on either side of her shoulders, matching coloured pants and shiny black boots. Her hair was still the same shade of brown, only change in her style was that the right side of her fringe hung down a little more, covering half of her eye.

Now when It came to personality, she couldn't be more different. On the outside she seemed pretty normal for someone in a military role, however underneath her dark persona which was just beginning to surface during the time of Viola was now completely developed, resulting in a chillingly cold persona just waiting to crush anyone who crossed her.

Circe stepped off the stairs of the helipad and strode past the group of soldiers who saluted her as she passed. One of them quickly stepped from the group and walked alongside her, then spoke up.

"Ma'am, everyone else is arriving as we speak, General Vargas has requested that all senior staff proceed to the main conference hall as soon as possible".

Circe's eyes darted in the direction of the soldier without moving her head, then as quickly looked forwards again. What could possibly have set off Vargas that would cause him to recall every high ranking IRIN officer back to Vanaheimr for an emergency meeting. Couldn't be the insurgents in Damascus, the Artolians have military patrols all over the border, not to mention the company wouldn't care much anyway as such lowly militants would never dare pick a fight with IRIN. No it was be something else...but what? It would seem she was about to find out, for as the doors to the heliport's elevator opened, the figure of a man wearing mirrored aviators stood waiting for her - Founder and CEO of IRIN International Seth Vargas.

"Circe, my dear.....I just heard some old friends are back in town". Vargas said to her then grinned in a sinister manner.


________________________________________________
Orange Zone, Osea
________________________________________________


The site of the motel was a completely in ruins, or to be more precise, completely non-existent. Kijo stood at the edge of the crater and looked down into it with disbelief.

So this is the power of IRIN....horrifying, however did it do the job?


A number of IRIN technicians in protective clothing were down in the crater with various pieces of equipment, searching for something. Apparently they had a means to determining if the targets had been eliminated...the targets - Destrillains. It was a word that was all over the city now, thanks to the trial of Jason Spencer. More or less Kijo was very unhappy that such information had been released to the public, as the last thing the government needed was people panicking over a group of bio-engineered super humans wandering around the city. However what's done is done, and soon the entire country will know, and even the neighbouring nations, so now she just hoped that these beings had perished in IRIN's particle beam. Then at least all those soldier's deaths will have at least had some meaning. Kijo then heard footsteps behind her and turned around to see Commander Farant walking towards her.

"Major, good evening." He said to her in a calm manner, although the look in his eyes could tell that he too was distraught.

"Commander....I am assuming you also have heard the news?" She replied.

"Yes indeed I have Major, now everyone knows. Viola's darkest secret has finally surfaced...." He then walked over to the craters edge and peered over before adding "....the question now is, have we seen the last of them?"

Kijo narrowed her eyes at the notion. If even one of those things was still out there then there's no telling what might happen next. It's possible that they might even start going berserker at the news of the others death....assuming these creatures have any kind of association to one another, as it was clear that at least two of them were fighting with one another when the UAV first arrived at the motel. She then looked towards Farant and asked.

"Sir....these Destrillians....how many did Viola create?"

Her question made the commander sigh before bluntly replying "To be honest Major, we simply don't know. Records have listed at least eleven, although we have no idea if any perished during the initial escape, or if Viola had more at any of their secondary facilities - which I might add haven't all been located. Personally I prefer not to think about it." He then stepped away from the crater and turned back towards Kijo.

"In any event, I believe I've seen all there is to here, all we can do now is wait and see what the IRIN personnel find. In the meantime you should really go home and rest, it's been a hell of a day and you've already been on duty far longer than you should be."


Kijo then immediately protested to her superior. "But sir, I can not just leave without knowing if all we did today even accomplished anything!". She looked very determined, however also very tried. Farant then placed his hand on her shoulder and calmly said.

"Matsuya, don't make me order you. Seriously you look as though you're about to collapse, you can't keep overdoing it all the time."


Kijo finally gave in and nodded to him, Farant then signalled over Jelanda who was waiting by a jeep.

"Lieutenant, I know this isn't part of your regular duty, but could you please take the Major home? All the personnel here are still busy cleaning up the mess."

Jelanda saluted Farant and quickly replied "Yes sir, it's no trouble at all sir!" To which farant gave a nod to both her and Kijo, then walked past them towards the collection of officers standing by a mobile command centre.

Jelanda then peered over to the Major and asked "Well Ma'am, shall we go?" Kijo paused for a moment, looked over her shoulder back towards the crater, then replied. "Yeah..."


__________________________________________________
Somewhere in the Orange Zone, not far from the crater
__________________________________________________


The city was quiet, more so than usual. The overall lack of noise was due to the spectacle IRIN put on only a few hours earlier. Power was still out in the areas surrounding the impact site, and no one dared to be outdoors.....that is save for two individuals sitting on the roof of an apartment building. The darkness of night shrouded most of their appearance, and they both barely moved, just sitting there, peering out towards the large hole in the ground, watching, waiting for something.

After a few minutes finally one of them moved, a female, about mid 20's, with shoulder length dark cherry coloured hair and some kind of visor covering her eyes. The woman raised a type of fancy looking binoculars to her visor and glanced into it. She analysed whatever she was looking at for a moment then lowered the device and looked over to her companion and spoke.

"Still nothing, just a bunch of IRIN techs sniffing for traces of roasted imitations..."

The person next to her leaned forward, however the shadow casting from part of the building still hid most of their features. It was a male, mid 20's tho seemed a bit younger than the woman.

He had short hair but in this light it was impossible to determine what colour it was. His outfit seemed to be something a military grunt would wear, and additionally he seemed to have some kind of small storage tank slung on his back aswell as a gas mask. The man closed his eyes and with a sly smile replied.

"If those jackasses are hoping to find anything then they're going to be there for a long time, in all likelihood their little light show probably didn't get a single one."


The woman softly chuckled at his words.

"Well, well Vollerei, now aren't you giving those lowly creatures too much credit? "

Vollerei opened his eyes and looked up towards the sky, then over to his companion.

"Not the slightest, Inveja, because even tho they're the type of scum I wouldn't even let grace the bottom of my boots, they've done some insane shit in the past, and probably pulled something as crazy and retarded to make their escape today."

The woman grinned and placed her hand above her head, then tapped it twice with two fingers.

"So little Voller is thinking today, I guess that means you're not drunk..." To which Vollerei responded to buy pulling a bottle full of unknown contents from beside him and unscrewed the cap.

"Not yet, but I'm getting there....tho being drunk still isn't as fun as it used to be, seems almost like the effects lessen every day..."
He said with a tone of disappointment.

"That's to be expected of us, most substances have little effect on our bodies as time goes by, it blows but that's how it rolls, so you'll just have to learn to deal with it." And stuck her middle finger out at him.

Vollerei scoffed at her words and abruptly responded with a "Fuck you, bitch" To which a voiced from one of the apartments underneath them came the shouting of some man complaining about the noise, and Vollerei shouted back "AND FUCK YOU TOO!"

"Now what's all this then? Are the children fighting again?" Came a voiced from the other side of the rooftop. A female figure covered by a dark green cape with beautiful long orange hair came walking towards the two people who did little more than gaze in the newcomer's direction.

"Who are you calling children? You're younger than either of us, so shut the hell up."
Inveja snarked at the other girl who simply giggled.

"Oh Veya, you don't look as pretty when you're mad....I on the other hand look good no matter what mood I'm in, because I'm so youthful and gorgeous..." She said in such a self glorifying manner, even so much as to stretch her arms out above her head and follow into a sexy pose before continuing. "...whereas you have the outwards appearance similar to that large crater over there".

At this point Inveja looked like she was about to kill someone, probably because she would if given the chance. The girl in front of her was Vanagloria, or Vana for short. A person who, as Inveja liked to refer to sometime as, 'someone who has a hard-on for one's self' and also with a more commonly used phrase 'Vana you are a filthy whore and I hate you. Please fuck off and die'.

Despite rather enjoying this confrontation, Vollerei knew he'd be the one to cop it if these two killed each other so decided to intervene.

"If you two are done playing stare down, we still have a job to do ya know...and 'he' is going to be really ticked unless we find out where the knock-offs went".

Vollerie's words seemed to have calmed the two girls down, although unexpectedly all their bickering had irritated someone from downstairs so much they were now standing at the doorway of the stairwell with a shotgun pointed at the trio.

"I told you fucking brats to shut the fuck up, and if I have to pop the lot of you to get some peace and quiet, I fucking will."

What the man had just said to these three was so very, very unwise. And the man seemed to have started to get that feeling as the people in front of him all became to quietly laugh in a sinister fashion. He then heard one speak.

"What's this? It would seem some kind of insect has wandered up here...." Veya said to the fool of a man.

"Why yes, you are right Veya, it's walked right into our web..." Remarked Voller

"And the spiders are oh so hungry tonight, what luck this one is so fat..." Vana added, then all 3 of them slowly turned towards the now terrified man, still aiming his shotgun.

"Oh look it has a weapon, but that won't save it now..." Veja snickered, and at that moment all 3 looked directly at him, and suddenly their eyes were glowing red eyes which made the man feel as though their gazes were piercing his soul. He was now petrified, so much that he couldn't even pull the trigger of his shotgun even if he wanted to, all he could do was stand there. The three people in front of him then proceeded to draw weapons from behind them. Veya unsheathed her Katana which had been hanging on her belt, Voller pulled out a combat knife, and Vana withdrew a pair of steel fighting fans from under her cape. They then closed in on the man, their sinister laughter echoing off the rooftops, followed by multiple sounds of flesh and bones being torn apart...

Tennyo 03/24/2010 10:38 PM

It was a wet, dreary day on the campus of the Osea Community and Technical College. Students were coming and going under raincoat hoods and umbrellas as the daylight slowly faded away into night. There was an intense feeling of excitement permeating from the student body as they rushed about, anxiously chatting about current events.

Such excitement was lost on at least one person on the campus, however. Dr. Jeffery Thomas sat silently at the desk in his office grading papers, frowning at the complete and total ineptitude of his students. He would fail them all if only it wouldn’t make him look so bad. But oh, how he fantasized about it. The looks on their faces as they saw their grade point average shatter, crumbling like dirt in his hand.

“Hey Jeff, you watchin’ the news?” a man in his early forties, only slightly older than Dr. Thomas himself, asked as he waltzed in the room.

“No, Charles, I’m grading papers. You know, actually doing my job, unlike some people around here.”

“Geez, what’s your problem today?” the other man asked. His name was Charles Peterson, one of the other teachers in the science department. He taught chemistry where as Dr. Thomas was in charge of biology. The former Viola scientist despised everything about him; his toned muscles, his perfect hair, the fact that Charles looked much younger despite actually being the older of the two. All this piled on top of an annoying habit of always wanting to strike up a conversation.

“Unnecessary interruptions,”
was the biology teacher’s eventual reply, which was only a half-truth. In fact, Dr. Thomas had been under tremendous stress lately. Agents involved in the investigation of Viola’s secret goings on had paid him a visit the other day, and everywhere he went the scientist could swear he was being followed.

Then there was the disconcerting phone call he had received the other day from his old friend Carlton Dempsey, former member of Viola’s board of directors. “Some agents came to see me today, Thomas. I don’t think I’m the only one they’ve talked to, either. They certainly asked some interesting questions. I suspect they’re finally starting to put all of the pieces together.”

Dempsey was already serving his prison sentence after working out a plea bargain. Ten years is what he was slammed with. It might as well have been a life sentence; by the time he would get out he would be nearly 80

“They’ve been to see me, too. I think I’m being watched.”

“Be careful. I would hate to see you go the same way as your father.”

“It’s probably too late for that.”


It was most likely true, too. Dr. Thomas knew it. He knew the time would come once the truth about the Destrillian project was finally uncovered. He would soon be indicted, and then his life would most likely be over. He thought about fleeing the country, but where would he go? How would he get there? He’d never be allowed to leave now.

The younger man was soon snapped from his reverie.

“Just thought I’d let you know,” Charles began, “There’s been a terrorist attack in the Orange Zone.”

“The Orange Zone?” Dr. Thomas asked incredulously, removing his glasses and tossing them onto his desk in frustration. “And why should I give a damn about what happens in the Orange Zone?”

“Hey man, just thought you should know.”

“Hah!” Jeffery laughed, for the first time in days. “Good! Let them blow up the Orange Zone. You ask me the world would be a better place if that entire part of the city were wiped clean off the map. The Orange Zone, and everyone in it. Just get rid of ‘em all.”

“That’s pretty harsh, Jeff,” Charles laughed, walking over to his desk.

“Truth hurts,” was his reply.

“Hey, also, wasn’t the trial for the president of Viola today?”

“I don’t know,” he lied.

“Didn’t you used to work for them, Jeff?”

“A long time ago.”

“You know, it’s interesting,” the chemist smirked, twisting the tip of a pencil into his desk, “A couple agents came by to talk to me the other day. They talked to Mary, too.”

Dr. Thomas stiffened, but kept his composure. “Oh?”

“They asked about you.”

“No consequence. Given the history of the company I’m sure they’re talking to every former employee, even the people they consort with. Just normal procedure.”

At that moment, whether by luck or bad karma, for Dr. Thomas was thankful for the excuse to end the conversation yet hated having another distraction, a female teacher by the name of Mary Evans, also from the science department, quickly ran into the room.

“Mind if I turn on the news? I want to hear more about the terrorist attack,”
she said, turning on a small TV that sat high atop a filing cabinet.

“That’s it, I’m out,”
Dr. Thomas said, tossing his hands into the air. He then stood up and began collecting everything he was working on into a pile and sticking it into his briefcase.

“There have been some new developments in the Orange Zone. Aren’t you the least bit curious, Jeff?” the woman asked.

“Can’t say that I am,” he replied, closing his briefcase and throwing random objects into one of his desk drawers. “The Orange Zone can implode in on itself for all I care.”

“You know, a lot of your students commute here from the Orange Zone. Do you realize how long of a train ride that is?”

“Considering the high percentage rate of failure in their classes I am not surprised in the slightest that we have a lot of students from the Orange Zone.”


“You’re a prick, Jeff, you know that?”
the female teacher spat.

“I’m honest,”
he replied.

“A lot of these kids are the first in their families to go college!”

“And they’ll probably be the last.”


The woman scoffed. “Can you believe this, Chuck?”

Charles swiveled away from them in his chair to better look at the TV. “Not getting involved.”

“Mary, your faith in humanity is a nice sentiment, but I think it’s time you opened your eyes,” Jeffery said as he turned to walk out the door.

Every day he had to deal with crap from these two, and every day he found himself pondering more and more whether or not to just go hang himself. He was working in a community college for crying out loud! The very notion was simply inconceivable, and yet here he was. The great Doctor Jeffery Thomas, who graduated high school with honors at the age of sixteen, was recruited by Viola straight out of college, was able to get his PHD at an early age, and gave years of loyalty to the company that was on top of the world and had promised him everything.

It had all been a waste. The Destrillian project is what had ended him. If only those brats had just stayed in their tubes and behaved like they were supposed to. He had still been in his twenties when he was assigned to work under Dr. Nedews, and within five years was head of the team (thanks in part to his betrayal of his superior but still). He was the youngest scientist in the company to head a team of his own; as such he knew he was destined for greatness.

But now he was nearing forty no company would touch him with a ten-foot pole. Not after the collapse of Viola. Sure, he figured he could go work for IRIN, but pride stopped him. Give Vargas the satisfaction? Dr. Thomas could almost see the man's smug grin. He hated the man more than anyone else he could think of. He was the only person who never saw Dr. Thomas for what he was: a genius.

He had even applied for a few top-notch universities where he could at least get funding for experiments, but they wouldn’t touch him either. So now he was trapped trying to teach the un-teachable for less than half the salary he had made before.

It was all thinks to them, those Destrillians.

“They are called Destrillians.”


Dr. Thomas froze in his tracks just outside the office door in the hallway.

There was the sound of a stomped foot and Mary’s angry voice. “Ugh! He pisses me off so much!”

Then Charles’ laid back drawl. “Like you said, he’s a prick. Don’t let him get to you.”

Underneath both of them though, was the sound of the voice of the news anchor currently on TV.

“Once children, they were kidnapped from their homes and transformed into human weapons. Trained by Viola Corporation and held for over ten years, through advances in genetic engineering these ‘Prototypes’ have been granted super-human strength and the ability to communicate via thought. They can even manipulate the very elements around them. During today’s trial, files detailing the ‘Destrillian Project’ were presented as evidence at the trial of Jason Spencer. Containing records of heinous experiments, violation of medical ethics, as well as several counts of murder, this last minute discovery represents the final nail in the coffin for the former Violan CEO. He has now been found guilty on charges of crimes against humanity, and will be executed via lethal injection at a later date. When questioned upon the reasoning behind the project, Mr. Spencer was reported to simply state, “Because we could.”

Dr. Thomas slowly walked back into the room and toward the TV, not realizing the look of horror on his own face.

“It is furthered believed that the surviving Destrillian prototypes have links with terrorist groups throughout Artolia, and are responsible for the incident at St. Raphael’s Hospital, amongst various others. Recent images imply that a number of Destrillian prototypes are currently involved in the attack on an orange zone motel, with UAV images providing near perfect matches to several Prototype images revealed in today’s files. Identified prototypes are as follows...”

Dr. Thomas was now standing directly in front of the TV, blocking the screen from the view of his coworkers, both of whom were giving each other quizzical looks in response to the biology teacher’s strange behavior.

A few images of faces he knew all two well were flashed on the screen. All were images of the apparent terrorists who were ripping up the Orange Zone. There were prototypes eleven, nine, three, and six, along with someone in a strange suit that he didn’t recognize.

Destrillians.

The jig was up.

Alex 03/29/2010 04:04 PM

========================MEANWHILE, OSEAN COURTHOUSE JAIL========================

"Who's that?" The security guard whispered to the warden, both of whom were looking at the smartly dressed woman who had just entered the prison complex. She was somewhere around 30, quite good looking, long dark red hair and a neat fringe with a few curls in it. She wore a black business suit jacket and matching skirt with a red dress shirt underneath and red high heels. The woman walked with a confident stride, paying no mind to the guards and administration workers all gazing in her direction.

"You don't know?" The Warden responded, then after thinking for a moment, continued. "Well I guess it's not surprising you're not aware of who Resal Demonio is. Publicly she's not well known, however she's actually one of the leading players over at the IBC television company. Most people don't know it, however my nephew works there and told me all about how Ms. Demonio is really the one calling the shots with their productions, including that long running Cherry Honey show" The guard was baffled by what he just heard from his boss.

"But sir, if this woman has been running the joint, how come no one's heard of her..." He then looked down in ashamed for the next words that came out of his mouth. "..and to be honest sir, I'm quite a fan of Cherry Honey, yet I've never seen a Resal Demonio in the credits".

The warden chuckled at the words "I thought someone like you would be too old for a show like that, but yes, it's true her name doesn't show up in the credits, however as my nephew says 'Ms. Demonio insists her name never appear in any of IBC's programs, no exceptions' then goes on that the woman apparently doesn't want her private life disturbed by the media or fans of the various shows." The guard digested the information, then after a minute asked another question that was on his mind.

"So then, sir. If she's some important TV executive, why is she here visiting a monster like Jason Spencer?"

The Warden contemplated those words, and wasn't quite sure himself, the request came from high levels in the Artolian government, meaning Ms. Demonio was well connected, and it's probable she knows Spencer in some way, however considering IBC is sponsored by IRIN International, they're probably not friendly acquaintances. He then decided to inform the man next to him with his best guess.

"Well lad I can't be sure, but my best guess is since Spencer's days are numbered, she's probably just here to gloat." The warden continued to follow her with his eyes until she reached the end of the corridor and walked through the door to her destination.

"My my, you've seen better days....prison hasn't been too kind to your image now has it Spencer?" The woman grinned at the former Violan President. She then added "It's been awhile my friend..."

The tiny cell was barely lit, the only light shining through from the outside corridor to illuminate the dank interior. The space inside was barely large enough to contain its undersized single bed and rusty metal toilet, Spencer had long since gotten used to the foul smell and the overwhelming claustrophobia of the cell but the first human contact with somebody that wasn’t either a lawyer or security guard was something that he had nearly quite forgotten.

So needless to say, when Resal Demonio appeared silhouetted against the pale yellow light of the outside hallway his face distorted into one of shocked disbelief. Standing up slowly from the bed, as though he was unsure that the figure before him truly existed, it had been so long since the two of them had seen face to face after all.

Clasping the bars to his cell, he shrugged his powerful shoulders confidently,[COLOR="SeaGreen"] “I thought a beard would be a nice change. It has been a while hasn’t it?”[/COLOR] lips spreading into a warm smile at the sight of his old colleague, his eyes however remained masked and unreadable beneath the deep, shadows of the cell.

“Did you know that I’m to be executed in three hours time? I know. I’m as shocked as you are” he spoke with mock disbelief, the very thought of the execution actually being a threat to a man in his position. Then the smile vanished and his voice took on a much more sour tone, “I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t get a visit. Glad to see you still have the capacity to prove me wrong”

Resal's face turned to a more serious expression. "Come now Spencer, you know an appearance from anyone earlier would have aroused suspicion, luckily we're at a point where it doesn't matter anymore..."

“Lucky for me then” Spencer said with a mirthless smile. The very thought of his impending execution still seemed more outrageous to him than it had any right to be.

She then raised her arms in a gesture to their surroundings. "And about all this, I'm sure you're not too pleased with it, however this outcome was expected in such a scenario. If they hadn't caught you then they might have started sticking their noses where they don't belong, and uncovering more important things that are best left alone" she then paused for a moment and flicked back her hair sitting on her shoulder before continuing. "The only unforeseen factor was the government drawing out your trial for an excessively long amount of time."

Spencer shrugged non-responsively, his scarred and weathered face was cold and unreadable. Something had indeed been drawn out for an excessive amount of time, but it certainly wasn’t the several years he had spent imprisoned in government institutions. They had seemed like a luxury compared to the very real imprisonment he had felt in his lifetime.

“I’m sure that our glorious leader has found the time to turn this ‘unforeseen factor’ to his advantage” he commented sarcastically. Not even bothering to hide the bitterness he felt in his voice. But on the bright side, at least Resal’s appearance meant that this imprisonment was at an end. Freedom, for the first time in recent memory felt so close that he could almost taste it.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound so bitter” he said with his head bowed. “This whole experience hasn’t been too pleasant for me” if only she knew. “It is truly good to see you old friend” he remembered when she used to look up at him as a superior. Now those were the good old days. Everything had gone to hell since then.

Resal smiled at the words from her colleague. Spencer was a treat to deal with as opposed to the others - savages the lot of them. And Avidez, while sane was too obsessed with his work and all that expensive crap he fills his home with.


“So what’s the plan for getting me out of here?”
there was a hunger in his voice and in his deep green eyes. He was so close now, that the ordinary man would find no trace of the patient, knowingly smirking man from the court room in his ravenous features.

"Well for starters that whole debacle with the Destrillians has stirred up some confusion, and get this - A bunch of them appeared out of nowhere and started something with the army somewhere in the Orange Zone. I hear it got so bad that IRIN was called in, and that nut-case Sophalla vaporised an entire city block!" Resal laughed at her own words, then composed herself and addressed Spencer again.

He kept his face as unreadable as he could, but the fact that his mind was racing with ideas meant it was difficult. His missing Destrillians had shown up again? Now of all times? If he believed in a higher power then he would certainly be inclined to believe that today this being was working in his favour. It was relieving to hear that freedom hadn’t softened the Destrillians up at all, if they had caused enough damage to provoke the itchy trigger fingers of IRIN then they were still operating at their expected capacity.

"But lucky for you my friend, this mess has everyone's eye's looking elsewhere. And thus will be unable to react in time."
She then reached into her jacket, withdrew a cell phone and held it up next to her.

"I'm pretty sure it's customary here that every prisoner is entitled to one phone call" Then slipped the device through the bars, although as Spencer went to take it she held her grip and her face changed to a serious expression and whispered softly. "Heed caution in where you go from here Jason, the old man might be a walking corpse, but that woman is always there, always watching... and even worse than before. She has been entirely consumed..." She then released her grip of the phone.

Spencer nodded slowly as he caught the delicate looking phone without the need to look at it. He wasn’t so blinded by the desire for freedom that he could ignore Resal’s warning or the all too knowing tone in her voice. She knew that it had been a long time since Spencer had a face to face meeting with what she considered his superiors, but what he had once seen as his equals.

“I’ve known your boss for more years than you’ve been alive Resal. I know how he thinks”
he said in a low voice, considering his words carefully. “He is an old friend afterall” he kept his tone neutral, unreadable. “But I appreciate the warning, especially about her. That creepy bitch has been losing her grip for years”

Resal let out what sounded like a muffled laugh, then remarked "Losing implies one had something to begin with..."

Spencer turned the phone over in his hands, smiling a little to himself when he instantly recognised the sleek yet functional design. “A Viola brand phone? How very apt. Your sense of humour has always been one of your best qualities Resal”

Her face then returned to a smile and said "Well then, that should be everything you need..." Resal stood up and turned towards the exit, but paused for a moment before adding. "By the way, Avidez said to pay him a visit, he's in Audoula now. Over the last 4 years there's been a lot of impressive advancements in our work..."

He flipped open the phone and instantly moved to the phone book, inside was a lengthy list of numbers attached to very familiar names. He let the smile creep back over his features as he scrolled through the list.

“Avidez can wait his turn. Audoula is quite out of the way and I’m going to be a very busy man over the next week.”

More importantly, I’m going to be a free man.

“I’ll be in touch”
he told her quietly, turning his back to her and raising the phone to his ear, he knew that she would just see herself out. It was time to call in the cavalry. The phone on the other end of the line kept ringing and Spencer furrowed his brow. There would be big trouble if his partner didn’t pick up the phone right now.

“Salem Locke, professional well-paid plot device speaking. How may I help you Mr. Spencer?”
he breathed a sigh of relief at hearing the sarcastic drawl from the other end of the line.

“You took your time answering the phone. Don’t do it again”
Spencer growled. “Or have your abilities gotten sloppy”

“No way boss. Don’t worry, you don’t need to provoke me into being angry enough to try harder. I’m always on the top of my game”
the voice laughed from the other end of the line.

Spencer silently conceded that point, but would damned if he would ever admit that. Salem’s ego was a dangerous liability at the best of times. “You’d better be boy. I suppose you’ve seen the news about the Destrillians being back?”

“Not really. Was busy. Sounds fun though”


Spencer rolled his eyes, almost absolutely sure that busy meant ‘asleep’. Chances are that he was telling the truth here, unfortunately. “Right. I need you to come get me from prison. They’re going to execute me in a few hours and I’d rather that not happen.”

“Was wondering when you were going to ask me Boss. I thought you were cutting it a bit close”

“Good. Come ASAP.” Salem gave the order. He had seen enough prison walls to last him a lifetime.

“I’m getting in the car as we speak”

“And Salem?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s no need to be subtle about this job. Send them a message”


He could tell Salem was grinning. He had just made his day.

Hisako 04/06/2010 05:09 AM

The longer they followed the iridescent beast around, the more the travelling company thought they were being led around in circles.

It wasn’t the fact that they were. In fact, most of them with enough cognitive power to keep the little nooks and crannies of their surroundings in their short-term memory would have known, with a bit of logic, that they were going deeper and deeper into the Orange Zone.

The issue was that not many of them were keeping track, and not many of them had a clue about the layout of the Orange Zone, let alone the sewers. That was also one of the reasons that they hadn’t stopped following the cat-like thing – backtracking to the border would take too long.

The sewers slowly changed as they went further and further down them. Typical stink and stench of sewage gave way to other waste; errant food scraps, wrappings and plastic bags, beer cans telling the tale between the poverty-stricken affluence of the gangs and the new world Artolia was trying to usher in. Soon enough, burning oil drums began to frequent the tunnels, giving off enough light to lessen the eyestrain the Destrillians had from staring at the man-sized animal ahead of them. They passed other small bands of gang members, too drunk or tired to start a fight, staggering back to the rat-holes they crawled from.

Eventually they could feel the ground rhythmically thumping under their feet. What were originally thoughts of an earthquake, or maybe they had been found again, soon turned back to rationalization.

It was the rhythmic, synthetic kick of a bass drum. A thumping bass guitar.
To some of them, the thought of a nightclub brought them back to the feeling of civilization. Checking the time, they had only spent a little more than an hour traipsing through the pipes, but to a lot of them it was an hour too long.

The entrance was most obviously the back door, but were it not for the (pad-locked and broken) metal door that had ‘MAINTENANCE’ painted on the surface with extremely faded letters, it may as well have been the front entrance. A painted-red rope masquerading as a poor excuse for a velvet rope hung off the doorknob. Various people sat outside, on piles of rubbish or milk crates, smoking or drowning themselves in beer. Two well-built bouncers holstering handguns and pipes welded as makeshift tonfa stood on the sides of the door, keeping an eye out for the more undesirable elements.

And, when the Destrillian party approached, they kept an eye on them.

The tense silence was suddenly broken as two people were hurled down the stairs and out the maintenance door, one of the bouncers lifting up the rope nonchalantly as they stumbled into the tepid trickle of the sewerage, dusting themselves off. The bouncer who threw them out stood at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the nightclub.

“That’s yer second strike, boys! Next time we kick you the fuck out, you stay the fuck out!”

“Yeah, fuck you too!” One of the two men gave the bouncer the finger, and then noticed the group staring at them, and gave a lecherous smile, mainly directed at Thetis, Emma and Idris. “Well, looks like we got us some pretty-kitties here to play with, don’t we, Sammy?”

“Sure do. Gawsh, lookit them.” The other let off a greedy laugh like a drug addict in a pharmacy, fidgeting with the shiny plastic rings on his fingers. “Bitches, them’s what’s for dinner.”

At the smartassery, Kram stepped forward slowly, cracking his knuckles under his gloves, ready to crack some low-life heads, and the two men turned their attention to the rest of the group.

“The fuck you looking at, you… wait, what the fuck is this? This ain’t the costume party, bug-face.”

“I think he’s in the wrong place, Willums.” The other one named ‘Sammy’ took out a switchblade, the other following suit.

“Yeah, you know what? This’ll be a sweet end to my day. Waste a couple’a shitheads, bang a few holes, and I might’a even be in a good enough mood to not cut the bitches’ necks.” They stepped forward, and the Destrillians prepared themselves for a short, quick fight –

The initial spray of blood coated the ceiling and then descended into a crimson trickle, catching Kram on the visor and Thetis on the face and her clothes as the severed heads smashed into the sewer wall with enough force to leave a second coating of blood on the floor. The bodies dropped to the ground as the leopard-like monster retracted its claws and shook the blood off its fur.

No-one had even seen the thing move – one moment it was standing at the side of the tunnel, growling, the next instant it was standing between two decapitated bodies with inch-long claws for paws.

The bouncer at the bottom of the stairs gave a tired smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.”

From the direction she was talking, she wasn’t entirely addressing the Destrillians, although they didn’t say a word as they stepped over the massacre to follow the cat-beast and the bouncer up the stairs.

The moment they passed the doorway, their senses were completely assaulted by the sounds, sights and smells of the nightclub. If the massive shimmering beast in front of them was strange to them, by now it was nothing compared to what they were in.

They were knee-deep in iridescent fog that shimmered and formed shapes of things in their imprints. Faces appeared from the ground, screaming, moaning in ecstasy. Snakes slithered around their feet, and up the walls, disappearing into a liquid black ceiling. Blood seemed to run from cracks and pores in the walls, and sensual sighing and moaning reverberated to the music. The walls themselves seemed to move – body shapes imprinted themselves from the dark-green, dark red, dark blue, dark brown wallpaper – an arm flailed, a leg gripped the back of another, torsos ground together to the rhythm of a wailing chant.

No-one dared touch the walls. Bodies imprinted themselves and disappeared under the peak and valley of another.

In my own reflection
I hear you in the wind that passes through me


The dance floor was upside down, shifting to the left, to the right, dividing in a crevasse down the middle and opening and closing to the beat. A sigh passed through the dancing crowd as they twisted and rubbed against each other, held in rhythm by the synth that blurred the walls of the room.

you’re haunting my ambition
beautifully destructive attraction


There were dancers on the ceiling, wailing to the beat in a low, sensual scream that crescendoed and diminuendoed. They were naked, covered in the red of wine that dripped and evaporated before they reached the ground, covering the room in a haze that shifted shape – into the female figures that slowly reformed and touched the ground on the ceiling. As they ground against each other, liquid chocolate ran down from the spaces between their bodies and from their long snaking hair, dripping off onto the dancers above on the ground, tasteless and touchless.

now falling like a rock
drugged and digitized you inside a dream


It was difficult for the Destrillian group to focus on one particular thing.
The air seemed to shimmer in front of Thetis’ eyes as hair floated upward in the writhing pit of dancers. The walls and the people grinding around them appeared to be made of liquid mirrors in Idris’ point of view. The unfamiliar smell of port wine mixed with plant sap and mouse blood lingered in Emma’s nostrils. Muddied, vestigial arms and mouths and tongues angrily lashed out at Terra’s ankles, attempting to grope at her legs. The floor under Kerr’s feet seemed to turn into a black-holed void, seeping honeyed blood which evaporated into the floating figure of a woman with a familiar face, sighing as she intangibly wrapped herself around his neck and condensed back into blood which dripped from holes in her back and in her eye sockets.

Smisurate e infinite ormai
Vivi, nei miei pensieri


They were led up another flight of pulsating stairs, and they reached another door, this one made of black leather, the imprint of a male and female torso fused together. The bouncer turned the handle to the door, and it opened silently. She gestured into the blackness of the room, barely audible amongst the overwhelming sounds reverberating through their very heads.

“Mistress is waiting.” And the bouncer left, stepping down the heaving flight of stairs as if it were nothing more than a simple elevator. The leopard hustled past the group, padding off into the darkness. Its fur dimmed until it could be hardly be seen in the cloying blackness, and it all but disappeared from everyone’s sight.

The darkness here literally felt penetrative. There was nothing inside but absolute blackness, as if they had found an event horizon just a few feet ahead of them. Kram saw simply a dark, bubbled void which made absolutely no sense for a room – and it may have been a trick of the eyes, but something was very, very wrong.

Tennyo 04/07/2010 03:47 AM

Emma held on to Terra tightly, relishing in the positive energy that radiated off of the girl in her arms. She was so relieved to have finally found her, and safely in the care of friends. Now to just get out of here.

She looked up at Idris and asked, “What’s going on here?”

Before the Gunmetal Glint had a chance to answer, however, someone else spoke up in her stead. “Nothing but big trouble, miss. We gotta head underground fast, the big cheese up there is gonna fry us any minute. I suggest we move now. Come on, I got to go back down there.”

It was the man Emma didn’t recognize. His energy definitely read off as something she would associate with being a Destrillian, however, as an individual, she didn’t think she had ever met him before. Another Destrillian she didn’t know? Had Viola been conducting their experiments elsewhere?

But as much as the idea of a new Destrillian made her feel uneasy, it was the man’s outfit that really grabbed her attention; and she almost laughed. Emma shot a glance over at Idris and mouthed, “Who is that?”

To which the now-blonde-again Destrillian replied, "That's the Dark Rider, so he calls himself. Thinks he's some sort of vigilante, cleaning up the city one crook at a time – I'd make sure nothing happens to me if I were you, or else you'll have him slinging you over his shoulder and giving melodramatic speeches and injecting you with fast-tracking serums."

This time Emma did give off a chuckled at the explanation she received. She wasn’t sure if it was the man or the situation or just the way Idris said it. It was a welcome feeling after how stressed she had just been to get here.

Idris went on, "In truth he's a Destrillian – not from where we came from, I think, and he's got absolutely no idea about anything so do forgive his bravery. It's only ignorance in disguise. I know you, you're patient, but I'm waiting for someone else to finally snap at him. It should be interesting to say the least."

“Yeah I’ll say,” said the red head as she rolled her eyes.

"Well, in any case, he's right. We've got to get down there or else it's curtains for us – as a heads up, Kerr and Thetis are down there too. It's like one big family reunion, eh?"

Idris gave an odd sort of laugh then, and Emma could tell it was more out of irony than anything else. Even a bit forced.

Emma looked down at Terra and smiled, and then her eyes moved down to the shorter girl’s legs.

Is that mud? Is she using her powers to splint them?


Emma was about to ask when Idris came up to Terra’s side and looped an arm through hers. Thinking quickly, Emma turned reached around to her other side and broke a branch off of the tree. It would come in handy when they had time for Emma to take a closer look, perhaps. She then wrapped her arm around Terra and the two of them each took one of Terra’s legs in their arms.

"On three?" Idris suggested. Emma gave a nod and Terra tightened her grip on the two of them in anticipation.

The two girls counted, and on three the trio jumped in through the oversized hole in the ground. They landed with a splash on the squishy floor of the sewer. The slick sludge made Emma crinkle her face in disgust as well as feel thankful that she was wearing galoshes.

It was then that Idris let go of Terra and turned to face the manhole cover. With a flick of her hand some of the metal piping sprang forth and closed the manhole cover, sheltering them from the world above. The metal Destrillian than turned to face the group and said, "Okay, so who do we have here? Roll call would be nice, seeing as we have newbies and besides… it's been a while. Nice to see everyone again. As a start, we've got Idris Savage, the Gunmetal Glint here, ready to help protect against whatever hell comes our way."

It was then that Emma noticed something about Idris that she hadn’t been paying much attention to since her arrival just a couple minutes before. Her emotions were affecting her energy signature, just as was the case with all human being. It was a bit odd, for at first Emma didn’t know what to think of it, but she felt that was mainly because Idris just didn’t seem the type to feel this way. But here it was, the mixing emotion of loneliness, panged with a slight hint of jealousy. At least, that was how Emma interpreted it. She would have to make a mental note of talking to the girl later when the situation allowed them to.

However, there was another pressing matter at hand. Beside her, Terra used her mind voice to speak. Eye am Terra Mikeals. Eye can control earth, and eye cant talk b/c eye hurt my brain whin we wer escaping Viola.

Emma smiled at Terra’s words. The red head had no problem communicating telepathically in such close proximity, especially with physical contact.

Even still, she supposed she should introduce herself as well.

“And I’m Emma. I can…”

Before she could finish her sentence there came a low rumble as the entire sewer began to shake violently. The air seemed almost electrically charged as the thought occurred to her; the airship must be firing its main weapon at them. She could feel the heightened sense of fear and panic as she wrapped her arms tightly around her charge, the Earth Destrillian’s frightened telepathic voice ringing in her head. But the girl did not falter. On the contrary, Emma could feel a surge of energy coming from the girl that she hadn’t felt in years.

Terra was using her powers.

The violent quake intensified at what Emma imagined must be the dirt and rocks around the sewer and up above moving over them to provide cover. She slipped her arm’s around Terra’s waist and did her best to help her remain standing as she saved all of their lives just as she had done four years previously.

Emma looked up and noticed for the first time that the concrete and stone of the very sewer walls themselves were what Terra was moving, folding in on themselves to lock into place with each other and keep whatever the weapon was from getting to them underground. The small girl had turned within Emma’s grasp and her very arms were held up as if she were holding a great weight with only her physical strength to aid her.

Suddenly it was over, and the sewer settled into place. The violent shaking was over.

Terra had saved them.

The earth Destrillian coughed at all the dust that had settled on the party and slumped in her caretaker’s arms with a sigh. Emma placed her down on the small walkway on the side of the sewer and sat down beside her, holding her.

Terra spoke again with her mind.

Every1, eye thnk we need 2 get movin or we may dye.

A good point. Who knew if IRIN would fire that weapon again.

Ema do u have n e thing that u culd use 2 splint mai leg?


It was then she remembered the branch in her hand that she had broken off of the tree up above. No doubt the thing was fried to a crisp, but that couldn’t be helped.

“Yes, sweetie, I do. Can you stand?”


Terra pushed herself up to her feet and teetered; yet somehow remained up. Emma knelt down beside her bad leg and pressed the branch up against it. The good thing about plants is that even if you broke a piece off there was still a residual trace of life energy that remained behind; just enough for Emma to exploit. She focused in on every intricate pulse as the very composition of the branch exposed itself to her. The branch grew, spreading from her upper thighs all the way down to her feet. Smaller offshoots grew out and around, locking it in place.

As an added precaution, Emma lifted the flap of her bag and peered inside. The site of a frightened mouse cowering in the corner greeted her.

“Aw, don’t worry Squeak, we’re safe now,” she said, reaching down and stroking the rodent on the head. “I need the clematis seeds. Can you get them for me?”

The mouse quickly climbed up the side of the bag and unzipped one of the side pockets in the messenger bag. It then reached in the flipped through the different packets of seed, eventually pulling one out.

“No not that one.”
Squeak quickly dropped the packet and pulled out another.

“That’s the one! Thanks!”

The little rodent gave off a squeal of welcome as Emma closed the flap of the bag. Opening the small packet, she pulled out a couple different seeds and placed then into the dirt around Terra’s legs. She then focused her power on them and caused them to grow, green vines sprouting out and wrapping around the tree branch, further reinforcing it. She was careful not to allow any blossoms to grow, as right now she only needed function, not show.

As she worked, the new Destrillian spoke from somewhere behind her.

“She’s right,” he said, obviously meaning Terra, “They won’t believe the blast killed us until they find our bodies burnt to a crisp. We better get moving.”

It was then that Emma suddenly realized something was off. There was another presence down in the sewer. She had been too preoccupied with helping Terra to notice, but now that she was done, it was abundantly clear. However, the energy it gave off was strange, unlike anything she had ever felt before. It felt like life, but was it human?

At that instant her questions were answered.

“Hiya! Fancy running into a bunch of people down in thi-“


Emma turned her head to see the silhouette of a humanoid figure standing just a small ways off in the tunnel. The stranger then laughed, obviously at this Dark Rider fellow. “Hahahahaha! Oh my god when did the circus get into town?! Ahahahahaha!”

The Rider turned on some lights on his helmet to better illuminate the new arrival. It was an odd-looking boy child, or perhaps a teenage girl? Emma couldn’t tell, and immediately the prospect made her feel uneasy. Telling someone’s gender based upon the energy they gave off was the most basic of the basics, yet for some reason she couldn’t. She couldn’t even tell if this kid was human or not, despite her eyes confirming that it was.

She stood up for a better look as the stranger and the Dark Rider exchanged words, revealing his/her/its name to be Stolz. She looped her arms with Terra’s to help the girl stand. She tried to focus in on this child standing before them. She felt a small pull of nerves in her stomach as she realized she couldn’t make any sense of this new person, yet at the same time had a strange sense of déjà vu. For some reason, this new person almost felt like…

They feel like…me…

“Hey how would you guys like to see something cool?”


“Actually, I’d just want to see us get moving thanks,” Emma heard Kerr say from between the stranger and herself.

The stranger turned their attention to some water dripping out of a nearby pipe and instantly it formed into a long shard of ice.

"I can freeze things and fling them around as I please, pretty cool huh?"


Another tug in her stomach, but this time for another reason. Emma shot a glance at Idris, wondering what kind of reaction she should be having to this.

Eve. They have the same powers as Eve…

"Say, considering you people look pretty lost, how bout we team up?"


Before anyone could answer, the Dark Rider spoke yet again, picking Thetis up off of the sewer floor. “Why not? I’ve no problems with that.”

And then Idris spoke up as well. "Well actually, we're not really sure where we are so could use the help, do you happen to know a way out?"

Not faltering on pep for an instant, the kid replied, "Well, to be honest I have no idea where we are. Usually I just keep wandering around and eventually I'll stumble on an exit. But not to worry, I'm sure there's one around here somewhere, so let's go!"

“I don’t know about this…” Emma said silently, not knowing if anyone had heard her or not.

She had no time to think however, as there came a strange glow from further on down the tunnel. Everyone in the group saw it, and their curiosity was piqued by it. Emma reached out her powers tentatively to see what it was, but again she found herself confronted with something she did not recognize at all.

Before it came fully into view, however, Emma was pulled out of concentration by a shifting of the energy pattern given off by one of her fellows, followed by a loud shout when the girl in question saw her.

“EMMA!”


Thetis had finally woken up and she wriggled her way out of the Dark Rider’s arms before launching herself at the plant manipulator. Emma quickly let go of Terra so as not to pull her over, hoping the girl would be able to stand now, and hugged Thetis back.

“Thetis! I’m glad you’re okay! What happened to you?”

But it seemed as though Emma was going to have to wait yet again for an answer as to what was going on, for it was then that Thetis noticed Kerr and shot him a look that could almost kill.

“What is he doing here?”

“I don’t know. He was already down here when I arrived. I have no clue what has been going on.”

Kerr sighed as Thetis went on. “He’s the only reason we’re down here, you know. If he hadn’t tried to kill me in that motel, we wouldn’t be in this situation”

“What?” Emma asked, looking back and forth between the two.

“Are you finished whining?” Kerr spat back.

Thetis turned and stomped away down the tunnel, stopping when she noticed Stolz. The two of them stared each other down, and Stolz gave a mischievous grin.

“Watch your back,” Thetis called. Emma wasn’t sure if she meant Stolz or if she was still talking about Kerr. The water Destrillian was nothing but all kinds of rage right at that moment.

It was then that the source of light finally came into view, slicing through the tension caused by Thetis’ anger like a knife through butter. None of them could believe what they were seeing. It was large cat, like the ones that Emma had seen in the city zoo. It was odd enough that it was down here, strange still that it was what was glowing. Emma gaped openly and forgot their situation for a moment at the site. When she came to her senses she reached out her power and sure enough, this is what she had sensed before, and just like Stolz, she couldn’t make any sense of it.

“Let’s go.” Thetis ordered, following the large cat as it walked off down the tunnel.

“Well, we can’t stay here anyway so what choice do we have?” Emma murmured, once again looping her arms with Terra’s to help her walk.

She then thought of Chris and the concert they could have gone to tonight. Oh how she wished she could get out of this loony bin and go there instead. She had just gotten here and already she had had enough.

Emma turned around to see that Kerr had fallen to the back and was whispering to Idris, and she remember what Thetis had just said. Was this all really Kerr’s doing?

Emma decided to try to reach out with her mind and peak to Kerr and only Kerr. Sure she always had a hard time with the standard telepathic powers of the Destrillians, but being this close it should be easier.

Hey Kerr! What is Thetis talking about when she says it’s your fault? Did you really try to kill her?

But there was no response.

Hey Kerr!

It was odd, but Emma could swear it almost felt like he wasn’t getting the message. Either that or he was ignoring her. She found herself getting annoyed, what with trying to communicate with him while also trying to watch where she was going. It was an irrational feeling at that time, yet somehow she wasn’t sure if she cared just then.

Even still, he didn’t show any signs of a shift in emotion. Perhaps he couldn’t hear her. Was she really that bad at telepathy?

“Hey!” she whispered, trying to get his attention while Thetis, Stolz, the Rider, and Terra were all transfixed on the large beast leading the way. “Hey Kerr! What is Thetis talking about when she says it’s your fault?”

She had never liked him. One bit. Ever. She had never quite been able to trust him, either. His reaction to her question didn’t help her mood one bit.

She looked forward again, feeling even more annoyed and trying to calm herself. She then looked back again and said, “When we get out of here later we ARE talking about this!”

Emma then turned her face forward and tried to focus on other things.

She couldn’t help but feel angry. Her and Terra’s quiet life could be over because of him, and if that was the case, she would get her answers, and she didn’t care what she had to do to get them.

Mantichorus 04/10/2010 10:01 AM

= = = M E A N W H I L E , E L S E W H E R E . . . . . . = = =

Donovan Early was not having a good week. For the last two years, he’d found steady employment - admittedly, with multiple employers - in the war-torn country of Damascus. For the last ten months, he had been kept on a retainer by the governor of Chulainn, sometimes doing jobs for him, sometimes being paid for not doing any jobs for his rivals. (There was an old saying in Damascus: a mercenary is worth two men - one on your side, and one not on your enemy’s.)

While working in Damascus, he had become familiar with the name VOLSUNG. Back in the days of Unified Damascus, Volsung had been the name in consumer, pharmaceutical and military goods. To keep themselves “neutral” politically, Volsung had owned facilities in each of Damascus’ provinces. When the provinces began to make war with each other after the loss of the central province - and thus, the Damascan government (Early would love to learn how exactly you “lost” a tract of land) - Volsung splintered and practically ceased to exist. Their facilities ended up as the property of the various governors and warlords who set themselves up in the power vacuum.

So, being called into the offices of the governor and meeting with a former Volsung scientist, only to be told he would have to leave the country… It was fair to say Early was slightly miffed. While he was leaving the country on well-paid business, he had certain side-interests in Damascus that he disliked leaving (a contract was contract, but the contract had said nothing on information brokering).

To cap it all, he’d got as far as the border between Damascus and Artolia, and his van had broken down. Class.

On the plus side, another driver on the Artolia side had just stopped for him, and hadn’t yet tried firing on him.

A man in his fifties, or possibly well-preserved sixties, climbed out of the cab of the other vehicle. He had a fairly solid body shape and short grey hair and beard. Glasses reflected the sunlight, obscuring his eyes.

“Can I help you, lad?” the old man asked.

What Early could see of the face stirred something in his memory. “Are there twelve still standing?” he asked.

The old man froze momentarily, before swearing softly. “I’m Smythe,” he said.

Formerly Doctor Mateus Smythe, Early thought to himself, glad he’d remembered both the face and the code phrase.

“I’m Early,” he said.

Smythe snorted. “Actually, you’re damned late, Mr. Early. But now I see why. Isn’t Chulainn paying you enough for better transport?”

They were. “Call it sentimental value,” he said.

Smythe shook his head. “Fine, I’ll hook your crap heap up to my truck. Sooner this is over with, the sooner Volsung can leave me the hell alone again.”

Baldy 04/11/2010 11:10 PM

Maybe it’s all just a bad dream.

Idris Savage sat in a corner of the Recreation Room with her legs stuck out in front of her. Back then, she was a little wisp of a thing, even more so than in her later years – her wrist and ankle bones poked out from her papery skin and her hair was only just beginning to lose its soft brown colour, making it look lifeless. Her eyes were just as bright back then, though. Bright with a childish defiance, shown also in her crossed arms, which – the doctors told her – didn’t help the flow of whatever they were feeding through her arm. The IV clinked as she readjusted herself, staring out at the room and its inhabitants.

Idris was weak and anaemic from the treatments she was receiving; having just been freshly thrown into the hellhole of Viola, maybe a week or two ago, her body was still only beginning to adjust itself to the things going on inside of it. Her ability to control metals was manifesting in a painful way: little Idris had taken to suffering random bouts of mass iron deficiency in her blood for indefinite amounts of time. She looked ghostly as a result, with chalk-white skin and a sad, malnourished look about her.

It was enough to stop the other Destrillians from coming over to talk to her, that was for sure. One of them, a girl with hair like fire, had given Idris a once-over and declared her something that Idris daren’t repeat. Another, a slight boy with flyaway blond hair, had smiled at her in a pitying way – the air coming through the ventilation duct she’d so stubbornly sat by grew warmer but she paid it no notice, and he turned away to attend to other matters.
And so on and so on. When they’d first seen her, a few had expressed interest: the frail-looking girl with the blue-tinged hair and the teenager who seemed to be able to control light, the both of them had seemed at least a little bit intrigued. But something about Idris had kept everyone away, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She wasn’t fooling anyone. Of course it wasn’t a bad dream.

The little girl let loose a shivery sigh and crossed one leg over the other, observing everybody go about their business. It was a while before she noticed that somebody was standing near her.
Expecting it to be a doctor or a nurse, or some other sort of authority, she did her best to ignore them; the melodic voice that came next so surprised her that for a moment, she forgot she was being stubborn on purpose.

“Hi there! Now why is a girl like you sitting all alone in a corner, hmm?” Idris looked up and saw the source of the speech. Another girl, older than her by a few years at least, with a black and white outfit and choppy, chin-length hair to match it.
Like piano keys, a part of her mused. The mention of such things stirred something fierce inside of her but she couldn’t tell what; it felt like whatever it was was buried deep beneath something impenetrable and impassable, something she would never get through. It caused her grief that she didn’t know she could express.

“Hey now, don’t cry,” called the older girl, squatting down beside her and thumbing Idris’ cheeks to dry them. She seemed to sure of herself that Idris obeyed. “I’m Ariel,” said the girl with the piano keys-hair, with a smile that reached her bright violet eyes. “Who are you?”


“I’m…”
It took a moment.
And another.
And she started to panic. Only a little. But it came back to her like it had never been apart in the first place.
“I’m Idris. Idris Savage.” Talking to this Ariel was impossibly easy, Idris noted – typically, she couldn’t speak very much when she was having one of her deficiencies. It drained her too much. Perhaps it had something to do with the violet-eyed girl and whatever she could do, or perhaps it was just because Idris was very lonely.

“Idris—that’s a pretty name.”
“So’s Ariel,” Idris retorted, but the faintest of blushes rose from her blood-drained cheeks and that made Ariel smile. The older girl told Idris all the things she’d been wanting to know and had been to afraid to ask about: all about where they were and why, and who was what and how they managed it. Ariel told Idris about how she wasn’t alone here and about how, in some way or other, everybody here was just like her. Suddenly a lot of things about the other people in the room made sense.
Ariel also told Idris something else.
“Never let it get you down, okay?”

Before the small, pale girl could ask precisely what that meant, the Destrillian with piano keys-hair hauled Idris up by her bony little wrist, dragged her—IV and all—across the room, and plopped her down right beside a freckly girl with red hair and a kind face.
“Emma, this is Idris; Idris, Emma. I think you two will get along just great!”

Just great.

Just great.


* * *

“Just great,” muttered Idris Savage, Destrillian prototype 009, as the group trudged along the sewers. A little while ago, fractured introductions had been made and Terra had saved them all from being completely vaporized. The metal manipulator was beginning to remember the fact that there was a bullet hole in her foot, kept clean and clotted only by the metal patch she’d fused over it earlier, and the tension between all the Destrillians was high.
Business as usual.

"Hiya! Fancy running into a bunch of people down in thi-" Before Idris even had time to register that there was another person down here, they were laughing. She stood up on her tip toes to see above the heads of the taller Destrillians in front of her. There was a boy… or was it a girl? There was a person, standing there in their path, laughing hysterically at… The Dark Rider.
"Hahahahaha! Oh my god when did the circus get into town?! Ahahahahaha!"

It was hard to keep a straight face. Idris herself had been meaning to laugh at The Dark Rider a while back but seeing as somebody else was doing the job for her, she didn’t feel the need quite so much anymore.
"Sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself, anyway my name's Stolz, pleased to meetcha!"
She liked this newcomer already. Silently, she slipped between Terra and Emma, still attached to one another, and The Dark Rider, to see better.

The person was dressed so ambiguously that even Idris, who was occasionally mistaken for a boy, couldn’t tell their gender. The face would have helped tip the scale, only a pair of goggles obscured most of it. Their short blond hair bounced up and down as they rocked back and forth on the balls of their feet, staring excitedly at the Destrillians.

The Destrillians didn’t take kindly. The Dark Rider may as well have set up a neon sign saying “I’M GONNA CRUSH YOU,” and she could feel the tension around Kerr about to snap. The newcomer was evidently not too oblivious because they backpedalled hastily at the hostility. “Woaaaaa now, don't get hasty here! I'm not wanting to get in any trouble now. Hey how would you guys like to see something cool?"

“Actually, I’d just want to see us get moving, thanks,” said… Kerr? Idris blinked in surprise and cast an eye beside her, where the typically silent Destrillian stood. She couldn’t feel any emotion come off him and she had no idea whether he was looking back at them or not, what with his black eyes, so she shrugged it off for the moment—and just in time, too. Not a moment later, a cracking sound could be heard. Stolz, they said their name was, had flung their hand out towards a leaking pipe.
And the water was freezing.

The world skipped a beat for Idris—and probably for Emma, too, the metal Destrillian thought. Quietly, the two met eyes for a moment, and one thought undoubtedly passed through both minds.
Eve.

Stolz was speaking again. By instinct alone, Idris processed what they were saying. Something about teaming up…
"Well actually, we're not really sure where we are. We could use the help; do you happen to know a way out?" It took a moment to realize that she’d been the one to say it. Idris mentally shook herself out of her memories (SameasEvesameasEvesameasEve) and put them away for safekeeping. Now was not the time.

She could’ve sworn she felt Kerr glaring at her, but she didn’t look. The Dark Rider was taking charge as per usual and suddenly Idris felt tired enough to just let him. She didn’t care for the moment. She fell behind, to the back of the pack of superhumans as Stolz was accepted and they set out again. Idris was just about to delve back into her thoughts when—

“Emma!”
So Thetis had finally woken up, then. She scrambled out of the Dark Rider’s grip faster than Idris would have imagined possible, and it made her smile a little. The water Destrillian rushed Emma and embraced her fiercely, then pulled away with just a bare hint of question in her yellow eyes.

And then she saw Kerr.
All hell broke loose. Accusations were slung back and forth; Idris was amazed that Thetis didn’t try to attack Kerr right there and then, and Kerr took it all with only the one small barb of “Are you finished whining yet?”
At least the Dark Rider was enjoying himself. Idris rolled her eyes up at the ceiling—when was he going to figure out that this wasn’t one of the city’s superhero shows? It was real and it was dangerous, and to some, it was frightening.

The small woman shook her head and fell back again as the group advanced. Thinking on it now, Idris wondered exactly how much everybody had changed in the past years. She hadn’t had a very good look at Emma before they’d been plunged into the darkness of the sewers, but she’d looked almost like a normal human. Idris didn’t envy her, she just… wondered how Emma did it was all. How did she manage to pretend? Even Thetis looked more normal, at least. It seemed everybody had begun to settle down, with the exception of Kerr…
“You.”
Speak of the devil.


“I’m not going to ask you to trust me,” he said, and Idris thought this a funny thing to say, as she considered herself less hostile toward him than some of the others. She contented herself with listening to what he had to say—after all, it wasn’t often that Kerr Nordstrom spoke to anybody without malicious intent. “I’m asking you not to trust this Stolz. You must have felt it too. His energy signature, it wasn’t like ours. The others trust you,” he continued, and Idris could’ve sworn there was something behind those words right there, but then it was gone. “Make sure that if they’re not watching their own backs, then you’re watching them for them.”

Watching their backs? Idris thought. Slowly, it occurred to her that this was why she was in this mess in the first place. A bitter retort about how well that had worked out was half-formed in her mind when a strange string of thoughts appeared.

Idris watched their backs. She watched their backs because she loved them as a family. They were her family… even Kerr. They didn’t use to be. They used to be apathetic and pitying, in a harsh Recreation Room many years ago. Somebody had changed that.

“Never let it get you down, okay?”

Years ago, Idris had figured out what that had meant. She remembered again now.
It meant that no matter what cruel and life-upsetting things were brought her way, she had to persevere. To keep her chin up and her smile on and to weather the storms until she found a peaceful place to make it better. It meant to say what she meant and to mean what she said, and to keep things optimistic when they looked grim. Kerr had reminded her of why she was where she was--why she was who she was.
So she turned her head and looked at Kerr, and with every ounce of sisterly warmth she could muster, she gave him a little gift of two words.


“Thank you.”
And she smiled.

Alessa Gillespie 04/12/2010 02:04 AM

Her leg had been carefully set into place by Emma, though Terra still tried at test step forward to make sure that it’d hold. She made a tiny noise of happiness and hugged her friend, not particularly caring that some new person had found them until Thetis woke up and hugged Emma, leaving her to stand up on her own. This new blonde…whatever could turn things into ice, which worried the crippled Destrillian. Did that mean that Viola had made more people like Eve? Why would they do that, when she already had a number? Were there other places in the world that did the same things that company did? It suddenly felt much colder in there than Terra would have preferred and she tugged awkwardly at her hair.

There was some sort of…cat that was standing in the sewers, a huge one, the sort that most people may have seen in their nightmares. The normally nice blue haired girl was ranting about how Kerr had started all of this, though technically, Terra wouldn’t have even gone to this place if she hadn’t been suddenly kidnapped by the weird guy in armor. She wasn’t particularly mad at that black-eyed murderer so much as she was absolutely terrified he was suddenly going to decide to kill them all.

But they were moving and it wasn’t time to be concerned with whether or not members of their little party were going to murder them all in their sleep. With Emma’s help, she started walking, following the strange blonde…person and the weird cat. (Terra had to remind herself it probably wasn’t the effect of that strange drug the armored guy had given her, since that had been long enough ago that it was impossible) The more they followed the person, the more convinced Terra became that they were going nowhere. Besides that, things were changing in the sewers in a way she’d never seen before. Honestly, she didn’t know much about what was underneath Osea, besides rumors she’d heard from employers, and those were general, typical ‘albino-cannibals-living-under-the-city’ sort of things. But the people didn’t look like albinos, at the very least, and she assumed that none of them were cannibals.

“That’s yer second strike, boys! Next time we kick you the fuck out, you stay the fuck out!”

“Yeah, fuck you too! Well, looks like we got us some pretty-kitties here to play with, don’t we, Sammy?” He looked at Emma in a manner which, if Terra had words, would have made her respond with a resounding ‘Fuck off.’ Well, probably something more like ‘Fuck the jerk until he falls out the door and bleeds the red juice’, but certainly she would have gotten some point of her sentiment across. Instead, Terra sent him a glare that would’ve stabbed him in the eyes.

Kram stepped forward, prepared to fight for their honor, but the monster-cat got to them first. She gasped as the blood hit him and Thetis, and gritted her teeth in panic. What the hell were they following here?

“Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.”

The earth-controlling girl was terrified, to be perfectly honest. Though this had been her normal state since all of this had happened, something about this told her that when they followed this bouncer, things were not going to get any better. But follow her they did, and as they walked, things started to change. The people in this… club(?) were everywhere, but their faces… they were all the same person, though the face kept changing. It looked like her dad, and then it looked like her brother, and then it looked like Emma, and finally looked like someone who stirred her memory but she didn’t recognize them.

“Hey, Terr, weren’t we going to go to Shangri-La? Weren’t we?” Every mouth in the club opened their mouth, suddenly speaking in the strange, young voice. “You didn’t forget, did you?”

Everyone, the everyone that was everywhere turned into one person. In fact, they turned into the only person in the club, even the other Destrillians had disappeared. The face and body of the person shifted into Emma, smiling her freckled grin like she often did. ”Terra, Ive decided to take a job in another city. Im sorry, but Im going to have to leave you, youll be fine though, right?”

Terra opened her mouth, feeling it was dry as a desert. She wanted to say something, but she knew she had no words. The face shifted again, the body shifted, into a worn 13 year old boy, glowering at her, and he was so much taller than her, it was terrifying. “If you’re not going to give up your glasses, you better go make your own money. I can’t feed Carey and Glen dirt!”

She turned and started running, but she wasn’t getting anywhere. She tripped over her own sad, broken legs, crying and gasping for air. A strong, gentle hand reached down to take her up and get her back on her feet. She grabbed onto the hand and smiled, pulled up to her feet by her father’s strong hands. But when she looked into his face—a face of bone with scraps of meat attached to it—she screamed. A hollow, echoing voice voiced its concern for her, “What’s wrong, Tara? You feeling okay?”

The body and face shifted again, now into her brother, starved to death, to Emma, beaten to death, nose smashed in, neck snapped and leaving her head hanging in an impossible manner, into the skeleton-like body of that boy that she didn’t recognize. “Terr, I never died. I just changed. Doesn’t that make you happy? I didn’t REALLY abandon you, I just went somewhere else. Hee!” The face that she didn’t quite recognize said, smiling. Who the hell was this person? Did he kill Emma and her big brother? What the hell was going on? She gritted her teeth, clutching her head, almost feeling herself falling to pieces.

“Who are you?!” Terra yelled, in a voice that shouldn’t have existed, in words that shouldn’t have made sense. He frowned, a rather disturbing look on his gaunt face.

“I’m your friend. You know, the one that had to leave Viola when he was really little. They sent me Somewhere Else, but I left and came here. So now we can go to Shangri-La, right?” His body morphed, changing into someone closer to her age and not that of a child. But the strange, boney look of his body scared her, and she wanted to know where everyone else had gone. She didn’t want to think about Viola and what they’d done, and she certainly didn’t want to think about her early days, when she had no friends and no purpose.

“No, where is Emma? Is my big brother okay? Aren’t I in some sort of club, where is everyone? How can I talk?” She was sweating; there wasn’t anything to fight this weirdo off. She was crippled, and while he was bony, he could probably overtake her in a fight. She needed her friends, or some earth, either, really, not this strange, blank, whiteness that she was trapped in. His body started to shift again, and turned into Emma. S/he held hir arms open, hugging Terra and stroking her hair.

“Oh, Terra, its okay. Dont be scared. I want to help you; I just want you to be happy. I like you, were friends. You believe me, right?” Not!Emma whispered into her ear, spreading lies. This person, why would he want to terrify her if he was trying to be friendly? Terra pushed the imposter away and thought of running away. But running wouldnt get her away, she knew that. Maybe this was like a dream, even though she was certain she wasnt sleeping. She grabbed part of her cheek and pinched as hard as she could. Things started to melt away, starting with this persons disguise, and continuing to the white surroundings.

“Oh, don’t do that. I don’t want to have to find you again. I thought you missed me, I thought we were friends. Didnt you miss me?” His voices shifted between people as it changed back into the club, with the strange dancing and groping hands, but at least, she wasnt alone now. She was with the rest of the group as she had been, holding onto Emmas arm and shaking. The group continued to follow the bouncer, walking through the floor and up another flight of stairs.

“Mistress is waiting.”

Terra shivered, staring into the dark abyss before them. She didn’t want to step forward; she’d almost rather someone else did. She planted herself on the spot, not moving an inch, and waiting for someone… or something else in the room to make it.

Bex 04/12/2010 10:08 PM

With every step the Destrillians took, Thetis was becoming more and more weary of their guide. It might not have been so jarring if the sewer tunnels didn’t look like a nightmarish recreation of Basement 5, or rather, if anyone had the slightest idea where the shimmering animal thing was taking them. It seemed like the rats that scurried around her feet had a better clue of where they were going than the group did. The thought of not being in control made Thetis feel a little bit sick, and she trailed her fingers along the rough stone walls to distract her. As she did so, she felt vibrations – the only proof of life above their heads. As a background to the hurried footfalls of the party, there were distant thuds and bangs from the streets of the orange zone – something which Thetis found comfort in.

She strode ahead of the group, not daring to look back lest she betray any other signs of weakness. Then she thought of Fiona. Thetis paused momentarily before soldiering on. Fiona could definitely look after herself; but what if things had got out of hand on the surface? What if the army had figured out just what they were dealing with during the fight? What if they had found her? Worrying over Fiona was pointless – she’d probably raze Osea to the ground before she let anyone take her in – but it didn’t stop Thetis for feeling particularly anxious. It was probably because she couldn’t sense Fiona beneath two hundreds of meters of rock. She’d never noticed it before, but it was like looking up and seeing no birds in the sky. Thetis was so used to it now. Fiona was probably fine; it was just the not-knowing part of it all that rubbed Thetis the wrong way. Whether they were stuck down here because of accident or design, the Destrillian didn’t know; but she knew she’d have to find Fiona as soon as they escaped this labyrinthine maze of tunnels.

The tunnels began to fill with light as they edged closer to civilisation; well, the dregs of it. Dogs wandered wheezing from one piece of trash to the next, their ribs protruding through their skin as if someone had draped a length of wet fabric over a row of twigs. Thetis turned up her nose in disgust as they trudged through scattered beer cans and garbage, while inching herself away from the homeless people who slouched against the dirty brick, their glassy eyes illuminated by the fire from burning oil cans. Everything about them was just so ...hopeless- pathetic, even. It made Thetis wonder how humans could manage to create cities like Osea, technology like IRIN and soldiers like the Destri- She stopped herself. She didn’t want to be reminded.

After a couple of hundred metres, the ground started pulsing. A nightclub? Thetis stared blankly as they reached a rusted metal door. She didn’t understand quite how people could possibly enjoy these places, and she especially didn’t understand why anyone would come down into the sewers by choice. Thetis was happy to finally be reunited with all her friends, sure, but she didn’t feel particularly ecstatic about being led into a nightclub by a glowing animal. It could have been some sort of ambush, and even as a group of seven, a few of them were still worse for wear. The mingling odours of smoke, sweat and beer outside the club made her feel even more uncomfortable than the men who sat staring at the plucky band of Destrillians. The pair of men who came tumbling out of the nightclub made Thetis take a nervous step back.

“Well, looks like we got us some pretty-kitties here to play with, don’t we, Sammy?”

She wasn’t sure she wanted to be here anymore. Thetis heard the others shuffle behind her, and threw the men an unsavoury glare. Humans were so vulgar, especially the male ones. The Dark Rider stepped forward and stared down the two men.

“In case you’re wondering, these ladies aren’t interested. So back the fuck off ok?”

How chivalrous of him, Thetis sniggered. Though the Dark Rider meant well, Thetis resented the fact that he found the need to speak for her and her companions. They were perfectly capable of doing that themselves, especially to a pair of deadbeat lechers, thank you very much. Thankfully, the men seemed to have the same opinion of The Dark Rider as...well, everyone else.

“The fuck you looking at, you… wait, what the fuck is this? This ain’t the costume party, bug-face.”

The constant back and forth was beginning to get a bit tiring. Thetis crossed her arms and sighed as the Dark Rider prepared for battle, cracking his knuckles in an attempt to be intimidating as they exchanged quips like something out of that terrible TV show that showed before work. What was it called? Thetis couldn’t quite remember its name. Cheery Honey? Cherry Honey? Cheeky Hombre? The whole confrontation was beginning to get quite surreal, with most of the Destrillians watching the farcical exchange in silence. Maybe it was a human thing, Thetis thought as she picked at the tears in her t-shirt. At least it kept her from thinking about what must have been happening on the surface. She wondered where Fiona was, whether Ms. Petrowski would be knocking on their door for rent, and whether Tonio was panicking because he-

Thetis stiffened as her face was spattered with blood. The prototype let out a small gasp as she tried to process what had just happened. Her stomach tightened when she saw two severed heads roll into a stream of sewage. Despite steeling herself against the world so she could live with Fiona, Thetis had never quite managed to desensitise herself to the more gory side of killing. Going through with it was fine, it was easy these days; but the aftermath always seemed... messy. Especially the more showy side of it, like this, like what Fiona used to do. Her palms felt clammy against the denim of her jeans, and her tongue felt like sandpaper on the inside of her mouth. The female Bouncer’s voice belied her hardened exterior, and it made Thetis feel even more on edge.

“Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.”

The Bouncer gestured inside, and Thetis hesitated, struggling to regain her composure. As her friends pushed past her into the club, #006 could still smell the blood on her face and in her hair. Was it just her concussion playing up- or had a cat honestly just beheaded two humans in the blink of an eye? Nothing that had happened in the past five minutes had made any sense to Thetis, and that made her anxious, which in turn, made her feel angry. In fact, everything that had happened in the past few hours was a whole mess of chaos and confusion. But never mind that. As she watched her friends disappear one by one into the club, Thetis wiped the splatters of blood from her face and hurried in after them.
It was unlike anything Thetis had ever seen before.

Music pulsed through the club, feeding its patrons the rhythms they so desperately needed as lights flittered about the air while humans danced and danced and melted into one another so sensually and slowly with mouths agape and screaming soundless lyrics to the words that ran down the walls like blood. Blood? There was so much blood, always blood seeping from the bullet holes in the walls and rippling around her feet with the faces of all those they’d killed contorting and crying and then they’d gone.

Thetis’ head jolted upright as she walked to the base of the stairs, though not without the snakes curling around her legs and pulling her to the ground, not without the arms of the figures from the walls caressing her neck, not without the dancers on the ceiling beckoning for her to join them, because that’s what she wanted, wasn’t it? To forget it all? Yes, yes, she wanted that, wanted that more than anything, and as her hand reached towards theirs, they fell, twisting as their limp bodies fell with a splash into the pool of dancing blood below – and Thetis screamed - before they all stood to their feet, necks broken and arms lifeless as they stared at her with glazed eyes and silvery hair floating to the ceiling as if they were drowning. She backed away from the banister. Then the blood smears on her face began to peel. Yellow eyes widened in the darkness as she shouted for Idris, Terra, Emma, anybody to help her, to save her from – she felt a pair of hands touching her neck and shoulder.

“Sweetie, where did you run off to?”

Thetis turned to catch a glimpse of the face she’d longed to see for years.

“Mom?”

Except it was all wrong. The woman’s hair was wispy, full of greys and reds and whites, her bony hands held Thetis in a vice-like grip as her macabre open-mouthed smile spread into a gaping wail, cheeks gaunt and eyes sunken and black, black like Kerr’s. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the girl kept mouthing as her eyes filled with tears and she reached to touch her mother’s face. The kind voice Thetis once dreamt about had turned into a piercing screech.

“Where were you? Where were you?”

And as the mouth stretched wider and wider, the figure turned to sinew and flesh, screaming and writhing in agony as it twisted against its bonds to the wall. Thetis couldn’t see the others anymore, and her screams were lost to the synthetic beats of the club. Terrified, she turned to run, only to stumble into someone and fall clumsily down the few stairs she had managed to climb. Thetis winced and propped herself up on her elbows. It was just a dream, wasn’t it? The banshee women on the dance floor were still staring at her, with eyes that felt like they saw through Lucy Adams, through #006 and to Thetis Alcesteos. She couldn’t stop staring at them, as though if she looked away, she would lose herself, she would cease to exist. The prototype felt herself being hauled to her feet by a pair of strong armed men behind her.

“#006, how many times must you fail?"

She could never forget that voice. Thetis looked up into Dr. Perkins’ face with horrified disbelief as it began to flake away into a face that was all too familiar.

“You know what happens to failed Prototypes,”

Thetis didn’t want to look, and she clamped her eyes shut as she pushed past the doppelganger and back up the stairs. As soon as she made contact, Dr. Perkins’ body seemed to melt and meld itself onto hers, and she felt a hand gripping onto her wrist as she tried to pull away.

“Why were you scared? Why didn't you come with me?”

The ghostly hand spun her around , and Thetis found herself face to face with Ariel. Her flesh was falling off her cheeks, one of her eyes a gaping socket, while the other had rolled up into her skull. Her skin was rotting, and her hair seemed to be rapidly going white as blood dribbled from the bullet hole in her chest.

“I-I-"

Thetis stuttered and shook her head. There were no words to say. It was her fault, all her fault. She felt like she was going to be sick. Even when she tried to look away, Thetis could still see the faces in the floor, her mother in the wall, bodies strewn across the bar like they were part of some kind of picnic. Tears in her eyes, Thetis ran away. She tripped over her feet as she sprinted up the shifting stairs; Away from the women on the dance floor. Away from Dr. Perkins. Away from Ariel. Away from her mother. Within seconds, Thetis fell into a pitch black room that reduced her to silence. Panic set in as the rhythm of the club disappeared. She couldn’t hear anything apart from her ragged breaths as her chest heaved up and down, nor could she see a thing. Perhaps the worst thing was that Thetis couldn’t sense her friends anymore. Taking a deep breath and blinking the tears from her eyes, Thetis clenched her fists and took a step forward into the darkness.

Alex 04/13/2010 11:00 AM

“Thank you”

Today had been full of foreign feelings and emotions, Kerr had thought to himself. It had been weeks since he had ever properly been tested in battle, months since he had seen anybody from the original Violan facility, years since he had been forced to have any sort of meaningful human interaction with another living being. Yet in the space of a few hours, his mind had been subjected to a seemingly endless barrage of the strange and unwanted sensations of alien emotions. The raw hatred he had felt for his own failings on the battlefield that had led to his out of character sniping at his blue haired companion when she’d woken up, the unnatural compulsion to stay with this rag-tag group of individuals because of the uncertainty he felt in his own survival without them. Now this.

Thank you. Seriously? Thank me for what? Warning you about stuff you should know already?

No. The inital stab of anger that followed his utter surprise wasn’t directed towards Idris. The realization hit him within seconds, the anger was directed at himself. Why the hell was he doing things worth thanking? Was it for survival? That seemed to be the rational response. The more they looked out for each other against hostile outsiders and unknown variables like this Stolz kid, or what apparently turned out to be a giant blue leopard, then the safer he was.

Right? The rational part of his brain had kept him alive all these years, and had very rarely steered him wrong. What was the point in doubting it now. Sadly, asking oneself what was the point in doubting these things has rarely been considered a cure for removing those doubts in the first place.

His train of thought was interrupted by the slight buzzing noise echoing in his brain. Mild and harmless, but extremely irritating.

“Hey Kerr!” his head jerked upwards towards the front of the group, noticing the advance of a furious redhead in his direction. As the rest of the group trudged on after the glowing beast in front a furious looking Emma bore down on him, her freckled cheeks nearly as red as her hair, and the frown on her face managing to uncannily resemble Thetis’s own.

“Hey Kerr! What is Thetis talking about when she says this is all your fault?
” This was the part that was hardly a surprise, Thetis and Emma had always been reasonably close as far as prototype super-weapons could be.

Resisting the urge to tell her that if Thetis had just died, then none of them would be in this situation, Kerr bit his tounge and furrowed his brow. Hoping that just staring blankly at the opposition would make her back down, at least for now. He was tired and sore, and definitely not in the mood to be dealing with another irate Destrillian.

“When we get out of here later we ARE talking about this!”
she warned.

Luckily he was saved from a conversation that he was unlikely to get away from unharmed by Emma’s sudden focus onto other things. The other things in question being what appeared to be the entrance to a seedy nightclub. Kerr was not surprised, there were quite a few establishments like this in the sewers, dark and dangerous. Controlled by the gangs and warlords that fell outside of the control of the security forces on the surface, once you were below the city’s surface this was their turf and experience had taught the dark-eyed Destrillian that the gangs did not take kindly to outsiders wandering blindly through their domain.

The neon light that bathed the entrance to the club was grotesque, bathing the travellers in an aura of lime green and bubblegum pink, and the smell eminating from inside the club was equally stomach turning. The scent of violence, sugarcoated with dirty liqueurs.

Two stumbling men had fallen out of the club, typical gang types, Kerr noted. Matching gang tattoos on their arms, shaved heads and dirty clothes. He had run into plenty of this sort before whilst hiding out in Osea’s sewer systems, and had killed plenty of them too. The gangs tended to be more of a nuisance than a threat, but this place...it didn’t seem right. It was not normal, that much was apparent right from the get go. The air coming from inside was heavy and sticky, catching in his throat and in his lungs.

And then there was blood on his shoes.

Kerr blinked, not quite sure if he could believe the way in which the glowing beast that was travelling alongside them had murdered the two drunken braggarts in front of him. It had been superhumanly fast. If it hadn’t been for his enhanced Destrillian vision then he would have missed it, it had probably been too fast for the average human eye to follow.

Come to think of it, why was he blindly and unquestioningly following the lead of a shimmering blue creature that looked nothing like any animal he had ever seen before.

His head hurt.

He wasn’t sure it had anything to do with the battle he had just been fighting.

“Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.”

The words were addressed to the group, but Kerr barely heard them, he was barely listening. Something was very, very wrong and all his senses were screaming at him to resist. The same senses that had casually suggested that something was wrong about Stolz now told him that stepping foot inside this place would be a terribly ill thought out move. The feeling of powerlessness was maddening, but he couldn’t help but place one foot in front another as he followed the group through the door into the nightclub.

Although Kerr was perfectly familiar with these establishments in the sewers, this was the very first time that he had ever actually set foot inside one. It took his addled brain under a minute to remind him why, the assault on all of his senses was overwhelming. Every sense of caution and every dread of powerlessness he had felt outside of the club was magnified a hundred fold once he had stepped inside the threshold of the venue. He became barely even aware of the other Destrillians anymore, not even on the psychic level, but physically too. His vision was overcome by fog that rapidly changed colour to refract the changing strobe lighting. The other Destrillians in his group became little more than shadows to his vision as they made their way through the club.

The urge to yell at them all to stay close and stay together bottled up inside his throat and lodged there like broken glass, pressed up against the intoxicating sweet smell of the fog which had seemed to invade his mouth and seep down his throat. It felt like he wanted to cough, but his throat seemed numb. Everything seemed numb, he just kept walking forward, following the others. This was the closest thing to terror he had experienced in many, many years. He felt as though veil after veil had been cast down over his vision and that puppet strings were ones operating his limbs and binding his lips together.

He knew that there were other people in the club, dancers writhing to the beat of some primal bassline. But he couldn’t bring himself to look at them, to truly see them. The seemed to exist as ghosts, haunting the periphery of his vision, translucent and colourless, everything seemed to become colourless now. A haunting monotone, a dreary background image, even the other Destrillians seemed to become less noticeable. They shimmered slightly, rather than be the dull monotone that everything else had faded into. The others shone, barely. Like light reflecting from the surface of water.

Everything was not as black and white as Kerr had originally thought, no, not when you really saw it. The shimmering whites and greys were really red. Had they always been red? What was going on? He couldn’t even be sure of his own judgement. His own memory.

The red didn’t even appear to be red at all either, everything was just coated in blood. Everyone and everything. The Destrillians were moving through a slaughterhouse, even the dancers seemed to be unaware of it. Kerr turned sharply, the panic finally overcoming the assault on his senses and forcing a reaction from his body. It had been the very first time he had actually looked at the dancers, at who they really were. Corpses. Lifeless and shambling, dancing to the music that seemed more and more like screams with every passing moment. They were skinless and rotting, macabre and bloody. Exposed bone and muscle tissue dripping red with fresh blood to mix with the already knee deep blood on the floor. If the other Destrillians had noticed then they certainly wern’t reacting normally, Kerr thought, each seemed to be reacting differently. This couldn’t be real, he told himself. There was no way that this could be real. But that did not make the panic any less real.

They had obviously been filled to the gills with some manner of hallucinogenic or psychotropic drugs. Something designed to induce panic, make them see things that weren’t really there. Something to play to their fears and their insecurities...it was the only thing that made sense.

The dancers weren’t even walking cadavers. Now that they had begun to surround him he noticed for the first time that they appeared to be rotting in reverse. Stretches of skin painfully stretched over muscle tissue, whisps of colourless hair sprouted from their head. Bloodshot and violet eyes grew from nothingness inside bloody, gaping sockets. All the while the dancer was painfully and agonizingly screaming, every one of them was screaming. The music was nothing but an endless succession of screams. Yet Kerr could not help but feel strangely detached, blood and corpses and screams could not frighten him. He had lived through most of those things for as long as he could remember, his subconscious was telling him something else.

He could not even see the walls or the ceiling anymore, but he could tell that they were covered in warm fresh blood. The smell, even from the shadows was unmistakeable. Everything seemed drenched in shadow with the exception of a small radius around himself and the dancing corpses. Corpse? Suddenly there was only one. Much faster and much more subtle than any eye could have ever picked up, Destrillian, human, or something else. The dancers surrounding him had all blurred into one single form and to Kerr it felt like there had only ever been one of them all along, layers of skin began to stretch over what was unmistakeably a female form. Dressing it in flesh and crowning it with ever darkening hair, the dancer had stopped dancing as the long dark hair fell over her fringe to mask her eyes. Another illusion inside an illusion.

If the floor was covered in blood then Kerr no longer felt it, his gaze solely fixed on the woman who had formed in front of him. For the second time in ten minutes he felt the breath catch in his throat, rendered powerless again by the sight of her. It no longer smelled like blood. Or even remotely like the club. He was back in the corridors of Basement Five, the same musky smell of Viola, sterile but at the same time unclean. The club no longer looked like the club, it seemed narrow and familiar, and there was nobody else present, nobody else at all. No Destrillians, no dancers, no drunken gang members. It was only himself and...

“Ariel?” the word came out as a whisper.

The screaming had stopped.

The silence was much more agonizing.

Her eyes were hidden, and she seemed taller and older than he remembered. Older too. His subconscious making her own age match his own. Her eyes were barely visible beneath her choppy fringe, but there was no denying her identity. Even the confident smirk on her face was exactly the way he had remembered.

She gestured to her abdomen. To the bullet hole, a perfect little black circle. A brand of his betrayal that had torn clean through her body. Words failed him.

“You deserve to join me”
she whispered. Her voice was not angry, nor was it high or cold as he had expected from the one he had betrayed. She sounded so emotionless. Was she right? Kerr couldn’t speak up. Did he really deserve to join her amongst the ranks of the dead? He felt his knees weaken at the thought; the eleventh prototype has rarely spared the time to consider what he deserved.

Then he was back, the corridors of his nostalgia seemed to bleed away, back into the nightclub. He felt a deep pang of guilt for not speaking up to Ariel when he had the chance. Speak up to your own hallucination? Don’t be such a fool.

“Mistress is waiting”

He briefly caught sight of the other Destrillians, wide-eyed and shell-shocked. Had all their hallucinations been as vivid as his? He mopped the cold sweat from his forehead just as everything around him went black, devoured by a vast and infinite darkness.

---

The figure had watched the group stagger and blunder through the nightclub, staggering as though drunk and looking terrified at things that didn’t exist. These Destrillians truly were infants, the unknown figure mused, whenever they were confronted with things that defied their comprehension. In spite of all the power they wielded, they were reduced to nothing more than children living in a world for adults. Helpless and leaderless.

The observer grinned slyly beneath the heavy hood that shadowed the unknown face beneath it. Placing the cell phone from the table and pocketing it inside the coat pocket, the unknown figure returned to the vicious cocktail of brightly coloured alcohol before it.

There was nothing left to do but wait.

And watch.

Mantichorus 04/17/2010 10:39 AM

=======
MEANWHILE, NEAR THE BORDER BETWEEN ARTOLIA AND DAMASCUS...
=======

Early studied his face in the bathroom mirror and then glanced at the grey water in the basin. Barely a week since his last shave and wash, and that muck had built up. While his van was solid enough, what clean water it could provide he saved for drinking water. He felt grateful to Smythe for allowing him to use the bathroom of this hut to freshen up.

Early grabbed his tee from the side, and walked out of the bathroom to Smythe’s “office”, pulling the tee on as he went. Smythe had rented out a building the opposite side of this little town to his house for any old business that might crop up. Early thought back to the personnel file he had been given. He was pretty sure the old man was married, or had been.

“How’s your wife?” he asked, as he walked up to Smythe. The older man tensed before replying.

“She’s good, thank you,” he said.

“Either of you miss your old home?” Early asked.

Smythe shook his head. “There’s nothing left there for us. Even before the conflict started, I was the only surviving member of my family. And my wife… my wife was from Hephaestus.”

“Shit. I’m sorry,” Early said. Hephaestus had been the seat of the Damascan government, until it simply vanished one day. As it had also been home to the largest Volsung facility in the country, most people believed it was one of their experiments gone wrong.

“Hmm, you sound sincere enough, so thank you. If you can fake that, then rot in Hell,” Smythe said. “Now… I assume that as Hartnell sent you to see me, your job has something to do with the Animus.”

“Bio-engineering super-soldiers is bloody stupid work at the best of times, but starting from the womb? With non-human DNA?”

“Damascus needed warriors. Genetic engineering is a part of everyday life, and has been--”

“Spare me the sermon. My first job was hunting a genetically engineered pyrokinetic. The bastard turned three towns and a dozen villages into molten pits before I blew his head off. He had no control of his powers, and from what I’ve read, that’s the same problem with the Animus,” Early said.

Smythe grimaced slightly. “The Animus… originally had no control. As there is only so much that can be hushed up, I would believe they now have some self-control. Otherwise we would have heard about such grisly remains.”

“There was an Animus in Chulainn Hub, the province capital. The press and police were convinced it was a human serial-killer,” Early smiled. It held little humour. “When folks decide to fool themselves, those in the know tend to let ‘em.”

“So… I take it you know about that night. You also, presumably, know about the Hunger. What do you need an old man like me for?” Smythe asked. Something that could have been anger or could have been distaste glittered in his eyes.

“Doctor Hartnell gave me… a load of crap, to be honest. My security clearance is so low, he couldn’t give me much else. But yeah, I know about the night they escaped. I’ve been warned about the Hunger by one of the loyal Animus, so I guess she knew what she was talking about,” Early nodded. “But we - that is, they, your old bosses - think that a few Animus have crossed into Artolia.”

Smythe drew a sharp intake of breath, and rubbed his chin. “Dear gods… I, I mean, it was obvious some might leave Damascus, but…” Smythe appeared to gather his thoughts. “No. I think I know what you want to hear, but I’m afraid - ha, no, glad - I haven’t heard or seen any signs of an Animus in Artolia.”

Early nodded. That had been the thinking behind it - if there was an Animus making a nuisance of itself, one of the twelve surviving scientists involved would recognise the signs.

“OK. I doubt one could hide itself in a little place like this, anyway. What about cities? The capital’s called Osea, right?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Smythe said. “It’s about the only city large enough in Artolia that could cover the rampage of an Animus in the throws of the Hunger under the usual crimes humanity commits.” He paused. “Well, there is one other… Vanaheimr.”

“I’ve heard of that place somewhere…” Early said. “Might be worth checking out.”

“Vanaheimr is home to IRIN International,” Smythe said. “If an Animus rampaged there, I expect they would have captured or killed it themselves.”

“IRIN, huh?” Early said, and made a low whistle.

“You know of them?”

Early nodded. A few of the factions in Damascus made good use of IRIN tech, whether they bought it themselves or stole it off of another faction. Compared to some of the Volsung tech still in use after twenty years or so service, the IRIN stuff was hard to blow up in Early’s experience. The only other equipment that came close to that was the higher tier Volsung and Viola war-gear.

Smythe appeared to pause. “Of course… I expect you have heard…things…about the Destrillians,” he said.

“I’ve heard the name,” Early said. “Supposedly, Viola was involved in super-solider work before they went bust. And it was the Destrillians that helped them go bust somehow.”

Smythe glanced at him. “You seem pretty calm at the prospect. I would have thought, considering what you’ve told me, that the prospect of individuals with elemental powers would disturb you,” he said.

Early scowled. “I’ve heard rumours about…those things, too. You mean that’s what the Destrillians supposedly are?”

“Not supposedly, are,” Smythe said. “A stranger came into town three years back, terrified and near death. I was the nearest thing to a medical man here at the time. While I was caring for him, he recognised the Volsung logo on some of my kit, and we got talking. He claimed to be a former Viola scientist, and when he slept, he woke up screaming. Supposedly, because of dreams about the Destrillians, and a man called Vargas. Within a few weeks of him arriving, a group of IRIN soldiers came into town, and…” Smythe shrugged. “We couldn’t afford a fuss.”

That irked Early at a primal level. He didn’t put much stock in honour and fair play, but just giving up a wounded man to those he was mortally terrified of seemed wrong. But something in the story had sent a memo to his memory.

“There’s a Vargas in charge of IRIN…” he said slowly.

“Yes,” Smythe said. “I think you’re better off steering clear of Vanaheimr.” He snorted. “You understand, I really just want to be left alone now. And if you get killed, Volsung will be sure to hassle me some more.”

“You’re all heart,” Early said.

Sheva Alomar 04/20/2010 08:17 AM

“You dumb cunt, get back here!”

“You’re the only dumb cunts around here for bothering to chase me down.”

Fiona chuckled under her breath as she ran down a long stretch of a neglected alley way. This was one of the rare nights that the fire destrillian dabbled in the decrepit crime rings of the Orange Zone—and of course it went awry. A simple gambling night hosted by the notorious Don Fabrizio. Naturally, nothing was ‘simple’ when it involved one of, if not the, biggest crime syndicates in the area.

Out of curiosity only someone as wild as Fiona would harbor, she wandered into the abandoned office building where the games were to be played after being invited by a couple of goons plucking fodder from the masses unfortunately stuck in the Orange Zone. The #004 prototype was, no doubt, a unique specimen for rounding up for such an event. An interesting victim—let alone a female! If only the poor saps knew what they were in for.

Poker was the popular game of choice, which was luckily a card game the fire destrillian had picked up in her four years of squandering the streets of Osea. Cash only, and the #004 prototype had just so happened to come into some money that day.

It hadn’t even been an hour into playing, when a small-time criminal by the name of Jackal Roterio playing at Fiona’s table said something. Right in the middle of a hand while the river card was being drawn, he met with his eyes with hers and abruptly slammed the old card table with both fists.

“At first, I thought it was pure luck that this broad was picking away at our earnings, but now it’s the goddamn 15th hand and this bitch has yet to fold or even lose to any of us!”

He jabbed his heavily jeweled finger at the girl with fiery hair sitting so relaxed at one end of the table.

“You’ve fixed this game! Somehow, you’ve fixed this fucking game and I’ll crack your head open if I have to, to find out how! Boys, I want you two to escort this dyke to the back and ask her nicely about her little scheme. Maybe I’ll let her come back and play next to me if she complies.”

Smirking with his half-gold grin, he handed one of the two grunts he spoke to a hand pistol. Silently, the duo stood up and slowly approached Fiona from both sides. Her feet had been propped up on the table during that time and continued to keep them that way as she coolly rocked back and forth, waiting. Of course she had rigged the game, just not as he expected. With the psychic and telepathic abilities granted to all of her kind, she readily used them in cheap thrills such as this. Fiona laughed to herself in these types of situations. She knew they all ended the same way and this time would be no different. Just as their hands crept to the fire destrillian’s shoulders, she made her move.

“Heh...”

Swiftly sliding her legs just beneath the poker table, she flipped it over, knocking the rest of her company to fall backwards and over one another. Standing up Fiona bent her arms so her elbows were out and jabbed the two men on either side of her in the chests, then bringing her clenched fists up to break their noses.

“I think this is my cue, assholes! See you in hell!”

With one sweep of her arm she collected a large pile of bills that were still wrapped in neat stacks to her immediate right and bolted for the exit. The rest of the men there had little time to react to all of this going on. One found the breath to shout out “After her!”, but that was all, given that this sudden shift occurred in all of 10 seconds.

As Fiona made her escape towards the stairwell at the far end of the large, stale room, the men fast enough whipped out their guns and began to open fire. With her superior speed, the gangsters had but seconds to even hit her—not that, that was even possible. Leaping down two flights of stairs, the fire destrillian legged it quickly through the double doors out into the street. She could hear the multiple grunts clamoring and fumbling over the next guy to catch her and take her out. THAT would never happen. Continuing her run around the corner of the next street, she ran past a purse vendor with his bags spread out over a table. Without stopping, Fiona helped herself to one and shoved all of the money she had just ripped from the goons at the poker match.

“You’re too kind, old man!”

Her sarcasm was far too sharp for her own good, especially when she was excited by a group of dumb criminals who had no idea just what she was. Before the poor vendor could even object to her stealing, several cohorts from the gambling night were in pursuit of her and ran right over him.

Rounding another corner down a small side street, barricaded on either side, Fiona couldn’t have asked for a better escape. A translucent jug labeled ‘GAS’ was sitting in front of a run-down repair store. Stopping with plenty of space between her and her pursuers, she kicked over the large container and watched as the liquid slithered across and down the street in a number of directions. Jogging backwards to keep an eye on the gasoline and the goons chasing her, she casually waved her arm in front of her, setting the liquid ablaze and watching as it rose to the sky. It left a perfect wall of flame between her and them, letting her run off without worry. Even if some of the men were stupid enough to try to follow her even after that, she would know and would only leave corpses after that. The grunts, no doubt, remained on the opposite side of the firewall and could only shoot blindly at a target they could and would never hit.

------------

So hear she was, Fiona Myrwind, self-liberated destrillian prototype #004 in all of her glory—what glory she could salvage living in a dump like the Orange Zone. Living life no normal human ever would. She refused to. Unlike her roommate, Thetis, #004 would never succumb to “trying to fit in” or “keeping a low profile”. With her appearance, she especially couldn’t pull that trick off. Even as she walked down the street now, most of those who passed her by on her way to her current residence would stop and stare for at least a few seconds. Her bright hair and outlandish clothing were certainly a combination that only a handful that had ever really seen before. That handful tended to be the people that lived near her.

After walking another hour or so, finally arriving to the apartment building where she lived, Fiona made her way up the several flights of stairs to her dwelling. She could sense the old woman waiting quietly waiting for her, but begrudgingly allowed her to think she was catching the destrillian by surprise.

“Ah good, the other one decided to show up. Is that a new purse you’re sporting, Miss Myrwind?”

Slowly, #004 turned to face the sour woman, her countenance ready to turn into a snarl at a moment’s notice.

“What of it, hag?”

“Well, you inconsiderate…girl...y-your rent is due! You certainly shouldn’t go around buying new things for yourse--!”

“Would you shut it already?! I can’t stand listening to you!”

Blindly reaching into the bag around her shoulder, Fiona grabbed a handful of money and shoved it at the landlady.

“This should keep your trap shut and you out of our business for a while. Now go back to your hole so I can have some quiet over here.”

Before the fire destrillian could register the twisted look of horror, anger and disgust on Ms. Petrowski’s face, Fiona opened and slammed her apartment door shut. She whispered under her breath.

“Fucking humans.”

Now having the time to catch her breath, #004 took the bag to the shared bedroom and sat on the bare mattress there. Pouring the contents out, Fiona had a satisfied look on her face. The stacks she had taken were hundreds—most likely a private reserve that no one bothered to see was under the table. It really was her lucky day. A couple of months had gone by since the fire prototype was able to get her hands on some good money, let alone a small fortune. This was going to come in handy.

Shoving the cash back into the bag, with a few hundred dollar bills saved in her pocket for her next venture, Fiona threw it all under the mattress. Returning to the living area of the dirty apartment, #004 kicked her way through the garbage littering the floor to the small note left by her only roommate. She almost couldn’t read the horrible hand-writing, but managed to sound it all out.

“Please… buy… s-some… milk.”

There was a pause as she stared at the scrawl with a strange expression.

“Is she serious?”

Dismissing the note without thought, the fire destrillian flung the scrap on the floor with the rest of the junk.

Fiona was celebrating her victory tonight and in a fashion she rarely had an opportunity to do it in: getting wasted. Drinking and getting high were things Fiona was never exposed to before escaping Viola, unless you accounted for the large doses of distrum and other unconventional drugs specially made for destrillians. No, this was a new experience for her when she discovered it—and she certain enjoyed it when she could. There was a place she had heard of the last time she went to a local bar, they called it The Mirage and made it up to be a wonderfully grandiose experience that had everything you could ever want out of a nightclub. The group discussing The Mirage also mentioned how to get there and Fiona easily navigated to just the place. Hell of a time getting there considering she has to sift through the sewers, but she made it with ease all the same. When she entered, it was more than even what she expected.

As soon as the fire prototype walked through the door, all of her senses were assaulted by blood, sex and everything in between. Bright colors contrasted with the dark atmosphere and an earth-shaking bass attacked her eyes and ears. Still, Fiona gladly made her way to a seating area full of lush couches and other people.

She spent the next few hours drinking, smoking and eating multi-colored foods that tasted very different from what she was used to. A crowd also began to form in her area, everyone talking with everyone else. In her drunk and high state, Fiona melded into the crowd—having small talk with some of the more attractive people around her, mutually interested. #004 kept drinking and taking in drugs: body shots off of strangers and doing lines of substances she had never heard of. The music became low hums and the room, a haze. The fire destrillian was completely immersed in her environment. That’s when the vision started to come.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Lighten up a bit will you? I can’t be the only one you actually talk to around here. One day you might actually have to depend on the other guys, you know? I may not always be around. Fiona, are you listening?”

“Yeah, Ariel.”

“Good, because you being a little nicer wouldn’t hurt and could certainly help you in the long run.”

“I can’t talk to them.”

“And why not, exactly?”

“Because they’re not you, damn it!”

“What’s so special about me?”

It was a conversation that occurred often between the prototypes of sound and fire. Ariel was the only one of her kind that Fiona would be civil with. It was that charm that she retained when dealing with anyone that held #004’s interest. That, and Ariel always offered a warmth Fiona never had, without fail. The warmth the fire destrillian secretly yearned for…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The flashback left Fiona feeling empty. All of the alcohol and drugs she just took in were subdued by the fresh feeling of hollowness that engulfed her. What happened? Why did her life have to end up this way? Looking back, so many things could have turned out differently. Certainly, someone could have stopped Viola from taking her away. Just maybe…

The fire prototype hadn’t realized that she had removed herself from where she had been seated all this time. Before she knew it, she snapped her head up and caught the feeling of an ominous presence nearby. Fiona’s eyes caught a hooded figure in the corner and kept her inebriated sight there for a moment until a large man brutishly bumped into her. In the intoxicated state the destrillian was in, someone harshly bumping into her was hardly the sort of thing that should occur now. Combined with the still-fresh flashback and flood of emotions, a very sensitive trigger was set off in the back of #004’s mind.

She didn’t hear the apology; she didn’t see the concerned faces of the folks around her as she slowly balanced herself as best she could in her loose condition. Fiona could only feel rage. These poor souls were about to get a violent light show.

“This…is all…YOUR…FAULT! ARGH!!”

Nothing could stop her now. In one fluid motion she grabbed the large man’s skull and turned his body to melting flesh and bone. His eyes immediately turned to goo and puss and blood boiled and slowly traversed down what was once solid skin. The Blazing Fury was unleashed.

Screams echoed in throughout the nightclub as the customers started to come to their sense. The smell of burning flesh was a rude sobering scent. Fiona couldn’t hear them.

“ALL OF YOU WILL SUFFER! YOU’RE ALL TO BLAME! EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU GOD! DAMN!! HUMANS!!!”

The furniture began to catch fire, the air became thinner, people began to fall to the floor and writhe in agony and even the temperature rose at an alarming rate. A small taste of hell, some would say. Everyone else was panicking; no one knew how to counteract this juggernaut of fire and death.

Fiona, the Blazing Fury, was going wreak havoc until this fresh wave of irrational rage diminished and no human could stop her.

NoenGaruth 04/20/2010 01:19 PM

IRIN INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS - MAIN CONFERENCE HALL


There was an unusual amount of tension in the hall as many generals and other high ranking officers of IRIN's armed forces waited for Vargas to arrive. No doubt the sudden appearance of the Destrillians had the people in the room unnerved considering most of them were former members of Viola's Private army, and they knew all to well what Destrillians were capable of.

Sitting patiently at one of the seats in the room, Major General Krieg paid no attention to the other people around, or at least tried. A man came at sat himself on the corner of Kreig's desk and folded his arms waiting for the seated man to acknowledge him. This person's name was Reza Ali Sayyari, although here and everywhere else, he is known as 'Janus'.

After a solid minute of Silence, it was clear that Krieg was not going to say anything, so Janus finally spoke up.

"So I hear you used to work for Viola....that must mean you must know all about these 'Destrillian' things"

Krieg then looked up at Janus and bluntly replied. "Yes und no. Vhile I like a number of personnel here are former Violan staff, a majority of zhe information concerning zhe Destrillian project voz kept restricted to only zhe science department, so somevon such as myself had very little contact vith zhe accursed creatures." Then looked back down at the papers on the table infront of him.

"Eh? So then you know jack all about them?" Janus spoke in a surprised tone. The words were once again an interruption to Krieg who didn't even look up when giving his response.

"Not entirely, I know for a fact that zhese creatures are capable of great destruction, as ve have all seen from zhe reports of the current incident vith zhe Artolian military. To be simply put, zhey are unstable monsters, and zhe greatest mistake ever made by Viola during it's time." Krieg hadn't witnessed the actual massive breakout as he was in charge of the defense force of facility #2, however he had studied the footage from facility #1 and read all the reports Vargas had helped himself to during the collapse of the company. You could never be too prepared for the unexpected, and after so many failures of preventing escapes from facility #2, Krieg made sure that if these...things, ever emerged again he would ready.

"Hey, you gone deaf or something three eyes?" Janus interrupted his thoughts by making an idiotic jab at Krieg's monocle, which made him look up at the annoying man with a displeased expression, however before he could speak the room fell silent as the main doorway began to open.

The massive doors of the conference room slid open slowly, allowing light to pour into the hall from the walkway outside, making the doorway area appear as though it was glowing. Amongst the light, two figures confidently strode into the room - Seth Vargas and Maya Circe.
The sight made everyone in the hall move to their seats and await for the man in charge of IRIN to begin the meeting. Vargas moved to his spot, a large desk at the northern section of the Hall's circle of desks, which had two rows, with the back one elevated slightly higher. Circe took a seat at the desk on the right of Vargas', while the desk at the left remained empty due to General Sophalla being on active duty in Osea.

With all eyes fixed on him, the large monitor displays on the northern wall lit up with Vargas' image, still wearing his aviators in the dark room.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's finally happened! Those misfits are back and within only an hour or so of resurfacing they managed to force the ASDF into retreat and lay waste to the surrounding areas......now come'on people, what the hell is this?!" Vargas echoed through the massive hall. Immediately the desk of Circe lit up and she added to the report.

"Additionally, the Artolian military command contracted General Sophalla who was on route back to Vanaheimr from military exercises, to deal with the problem. After arriving on scene the General ordered her Solde-class battleship's main particle cannon be fired on the target's location, after 10 minutes of minor delays the weapon made contact with the ground and incinerated everything within 2 blocks. However we have been unable to confirm if the targets were actually destroyed."

Vargas nodded a couple of times at the information and with his usual grin continued.

"So in other words we don't know if we even did anything, moreover according to eyewitness reports there were only 4 confirmed sightings of Destrillians and one pompous jackass in cosplay." He then hit a couple of buttons on the console built into his desk and on the screen multiple Bio images appeared. "Circe, if you would be so kind" Vargas motioned towards his right.

"Yes sir. From the data we've received off the Artolian military, we've been able to positively ID Destrillian Prototypes three, six, nine and eleven. Additionally an unknown individual dressed in some kind of unusual outfit was seen engaging the Artolian troops as well, however we are unable to confirm if this character is a Destrillian or not..."

After she finished, General Badrach, another former Violan, slammed his fist on the desks and exclaimed "Dammit, of all the bad luck, The gunmetal glint had to resurface!? Need I remind you all of what she did to Viola HQ? And from the footage we saw she was pulling Artolian VTOL's out of the air! How the hell are we supposed to counter that?!" And without any change of expression, Circe calmly replied.

"We have already implemented countermeasures for number nine's abilities, all our machines are equipped with EM shielding, causing a greater strain on someone such as Idris Savage attempting to directly affect the metal components of our weapons..." She then paused for a moment and added "...however it still doesn't prevent her from using metals from surrounding areas as projectiles, so pilot's will have to be on their toes and we'll require a major overhaul of the AI systems in all our automaton units to factor this in."

As the generals all talked amongst themselves about this information, Krieg finally decided to speak up to the assembly.

"Moving onto zhe more important question, vhat is zhe current status of all zhe escaped Destrillians? Can ve expect to see more of zhem appear now zhat a few of zhem have come out into zhe open?" To which Vargas gave a simple smile and shrugged before answering.

"Who know? We've had reports from all over the place of things that may or may not have been Destrillians, including ones where it was claimed the subjects were terminated. Of course it would be nice and convenient if they had all just moseyed over to the central continents and became their problem, however it seems we we're that lucky...." He then pushed his sunglasses up his nose and added "Now about your first inquiry, General Krieg, I think that calls for us to pull into the secretive goodness that is the Violan archives!" He then punched in some commands into his terminal and a few seconds later the main screen showed two windows, labeled #1 and #2, both with a list of names and photo's next to them. "Circe since we all just love the sound of your voice how about you do the honors again?"

"Of course..." She then turned in her seat towards the monitors and using an electronic pointer, enlarged the window entitled '#1'.

"This is a list of all Destrillians that were produced at Viola's main headquarters, known as facility #1."

"Originally, there were 27 failed attempts of creating a Destrillian prototype, all of the subjects perished. However finally the Violan scientists had success with Destrillian Prototype #001 - Sierra Alexis Lutraine. Her ability was that of light, which was mostly used to either light dark places, remove that light or blind opponents. Not the most impressive ability in my personal opinion, however she was the first to survive the process and demonstrate her abilities successfully. Reports suggest that she was the ringleader in the massive breakout of four years ago, however sometime when the Destrillians breached the main levels of Headquarters, she disappeared and has not been seen since."

"Next, Destrillian Prototype #002 - Erthys Connor-Guzman, the....Thunder Child. This one had the power of lightning, which despite sounding impressive, his power was rather unstable. During the escape he was seen with Prototype one, and disappeared around the same time. No sightings since."

Scrolling the screen down, the display next showed a young girl with dark green hair and matching eye colour. "Prototype #003 - Terra Michaels, who was codenamed 'Makeshift Golem' oddly enough. Not much to say about this one. Her power is Earth, to what extent her powers goes is unknown as this one had an issue with controlling her abilities..." Vargas then interrupted by adding.

"Didn't this one also have some kind of glasses fetish?"
To which Circe replied "Apparently so." Then continued.

"...During the escape of Viola, it's noted that she caused considerable damage to the basement levels of the building, effectively taking out the power for the levels which disabled the electronic locks used by most doors on the levels. After this event all drone units were pulled back and we lost track of Prototype Three. However she has been positively ID'd as being present at the recent Osea battle."

"Now onto Prototype #004......"
The room then fell silent. Everyone at some point had heard of this one, of #004...

"Fiona..." Vargas bluntly said. Although he had never cared to remember any of the names of the other Destrillians, 004, Fiona, was one who he remembered all too well. The day of the board meeting, when he viewed her so mercilessly immolate the squad of guards and tear out Dr. Fringe's heart with her bare hands, there was no other emotion he could've described as feeling that day other that sheer awe of her cruelty. Unlike the other Destrillians he knew Fiona enjoyed the killing, savoring every moment of the process. This girl was the harbinger of Death, and Vargas desired so much to meet this angel of destruction....but where was she...

"She manipulates fire which many of us have seen demonstrated and is god knows where now, move on." Vargas said, details on this one were unnecessary.

"Yes sir, now about Prototype #005, Ronin Maverick - Shadow Star. This one had the power of Darkness, apparently he could drain the life out living things."

"Really now?" Vargas said, clearly getting bored.

"Yes Sir." Circe replied. They then exchanged glances in silence for a few seconds before Vargas called out. "Next."

"Ahem, onto #006, Thetis Alcesteos - The Raging Charybdis..." To which again Vargas interrupted.

"The what?"

"The Raging Charybdis, her power is to manipulate water, however she was a rather timid one and there was little expectation from her. Although she was spotted as one of the four at the Osea battle, so perhaps the science department was wrong..." She didn't even pause for the next one.

"Prototype #007, Eydin Eckhart - The Wayward Gale. Ability was the manipulation of wind. Currently missing and whereabouts are unknown." She then instantly clicked the pointer, the Destrillians not sighted were of little interest at this point.

"Prototype #008, Emma Marie Johnson - Vacker Påsklilja." Circe then paused and looked at Vargas expecting an interruption, who simply looked back. She then continued. "This one was actually a sorry case according to Science department records. She had an ability to manipulate plants, which is not very impressive, so let's move on."

"Prototype #009....Idris Savage - The gunmetal glint. We've already spoken about her, and due to the high risk she poses despite our countermeasure systems, this Destrillian is our highest priority target. Extreme force is approved if any of our troops encounter her."


"Prototype #010, Eve Rosalind Daly - The Ice Queen."
Circe stopped there as she knew Vargas would say something, and he did.

"Ah Eve...lovely girl, almost had her on my side, until that arrogant jackass Roland ruined everything. Sadly the girl perished however she did do me the favor of eliminating Roland. Next please my dear!"

"Sir. Prototype #011, Kerr Nordstrom....Viola's lap dog. Has the power over gravity, and this one was spotted at the Osea incident. Our annalists suspect he might have been the one carrying out the horrendous acts of violence throughout Osea in the past. Consider him a priority target."

"And finally....Prototype #012, Ariel Regan. Her power was of sound, however she was terminated during an escape attempt at Viola, so of no concern anymore. That concludes Viola facility #1" She then brought up the second window with the pointer.

"As for facility #2, this one is hard to document, as most records seem to have been lost or destroyed. This facility had a track record of escapes, and after Viola collapsed the remaining Destrillians there simply vanished with no traces as to where they went. Additionally there were no signs of a mass breakout like at facility #1."

Everyone then began talking amongst themselves again and Circe sat back down at her desk. Vargas sat there silently, contemplating the situation. Shortly after he spoke up again to the assembly.

"Alright so there you have it everyone, we know what we're up against, so let's not embarrass ourselves like Viola did OK? We have the means to take these scientific rejects down, and additionally we shall roll out all prototypes that have passed their trial tests." He gestured to the desk to the right of him. "Circe and I shall be heading out to Osea shortly to assess the situation ourselves, anyone wishing to accompany us is most welcome to do so. As for everyone else, please proceed with regular operations, that cash flow isn't going to bring itself in after all..." He then stood up from his chair and added. "So with that meeting adjourned, and I bid you all goodnight." And headed for the main doorway, with Circe close behind him.

Still at his desk, Janus sat back in his chair and grinned. So Vargas is going Destrillian hunting...this could be my opportunity to take one down as I hear they would be very formidable opponents, and i just love a challenge.... He then let out a small laugh, to which Krieg simply gave him an unimpressed look and got up to leave.

Outside the room in the corridor, Vargas and Circe walked down the hall towards Vargas' office.

"Circe, be a dear and make the call for Solde-1 to be prepared for takeoff, we shall depart in a few hours. Also call the lab and have then ready Zwei and Drei for deployment, this might turn out to be a good occasion to give those fine ladies a proper field tests - after all nothing proves a new weapons better than actual combat." Then let out a slight chuckle.

"Yes Sir." Circe replied, then after a few seconds asked her superior. "What will you do if you find her?" To which Vargas simply smiled and said. "Somehow I doubt that will happen, however if it does....then I shall play it by ear."

Joe 04/22/2010 12:32 AM

What happens to the Warrior who breaks his sword?

What happens to the Eagle that injures its wings?

What happens to the Destrillian who watches the murder of his own kind?

They find the strength to move on.
 
"I will find that strength, Even if it means murdering those responsible"

Lokka finished making calibrations to his PDA device before setting off. He had been shackled up in an abandoned apartment room for the last 4 days and had used his time here to pick up useful information about the mercenary group 'The Undying'. A high ranking member of the gang was the target of an Assassination attempt made by Lokka and his group a few weeks before. The reports leading up to the attack proved to be falsified in order to lure the group into a trap. Detryn Vita was the man they were after and he proved to be a lot harder to take down with roughly 400% more reinforcements than Lokka's group had expected.

The battle ended in the deaths of Lokka's teammates, Destrillian prototypes #015 and #018. Lokka fled the scene and took refuge in the darkest corners of the Orange Zone of Osea. Working under the alias 'Prism' during his time working in Osea, Lokka had become infamous and posed as a major threat to many of the crime syndicates in the local area, as well as some legitimate corporate business holders who were working out of the spotlight in shadowy affairs.

Tonight was going to be the night. Detryn Vita was holed up in a temporary headquarters for the gang with his boss known only as Banshee. The information was secret and classified but it was Prism's job to find out this kind of information. The Undying would be fools to assume that they're meeting was going to be exclusive to them, which is why they were heavily guarded by many of the gangs members aswell as some hired brute force to ensure the meeting would not be disturbed. Detryn was not Lokka's target however, and neither was the thugs boss. Lokka needed to know which of his contacts was working against him. Detryn may well be a scumbag, and his men may well have been the ones to fire on Lokka's team, but he did not set them up. Detryn would get the justice he deserved, but not before he parted ways with the name of his associate.

Lokka closed the door to the apartment, knowing he would not be returning here. On his person he was carrying 5 capsules of Distrum, secured through sources all over the city, as well as a high-calibur pistol with several ammunition clips and his PDA. He doubted he would need to use any of the items much but they were there as a security risk. Not that there would be much trouble. Lokka wasn't going to break through the front door and fight his way through a bunch of guards and give Detryn a chance to prepare or flee. He wasn't entering through Detryns personal quarters, the room adjacent to the meeting room. If there was any one thing that Lokka could do better than anyone else he knew, it was planning. He'd been studying the building's blueprints for the last few days and deduced the quickest way to extract the necessary information.

He walked out onto the street. His face was not known to his enemies and he intended to keep it that way. He produced a large bandana from his pocket and wrapped it around his face several times, only showing small parts of his body and leaving his bright green eyes uncovered.

"There it is"

He muttererd to himself as he saw the structure. Nobody knew quite what a building like this was doing down in the orange zone. From the outside it looked like a millionaires mansion that you'd see on the upper levels of the city. The bluprints revealed that the inside was open and barren. Lokka instantly recognized the bystanders outside the building as guards in disguise. Moving around the nearby building he proceeded to scale it using his powers as gripping points. Shining, white synthetic-looking barriers produced at the ends of his hands as he moved up the building. Pulling himself up on to the top of the small building he had a clear view of the room he was about to infiltrate. He was not out of the sight of the guards so he would need to time his jump correctly and minimize the time taken to get through the window.

"4 Guards: Centred position on west side, 2 to the east. None on Southern side. Window not open. Careful opening not an option, takes too long, guards would fire or raise alarm. Forced entry preferable, quieter than alarm or gunfire."

As Lokka contemplated the actions that took place he armed and readied his pistol.

"Guards talking. Opening."

Without hesitation Lokka ran and leapt off of his own building aimed directly at the window. Using a barrier as his landing Lokka quickly forced the window open, shattering the top panel. The guards outside the base would be too far away to hear the glass breaking without listening devices but the gang members in the meeting room would certainly have heard it. Lokka rushed to the door, forced it open and took a left down the hallway. The first door on the right, that was the room that the meeting took place. No doubt they were aware that someone would soon enter the room. The mercenarys would be lining up their shots on the door and be ready to fire. They will be confident.

Lokka brought out his pistol and activated his prime ability. He covered his body in a powerful barrier shield, invisible to the naked eye. The shield would not allow him to move much faster than a walk and but his pistol would take out any opposition before this became a problem. Knowing his limits Lokka forced the door open then and began analyzing the room.

'Two guards, Unknown, far right of the room. 1 guard, Detryn's bodyguard, room centre. Detryn Vita and stereotypical mobster, Left hand side. Detryn carrying Sub-machine gun, Mobster unarmed. Assume this as Undying leader'

Lokka took the time to analyze each of his enemies thoroughly as he entered, as they fired they're weapons without holding back. Confusion set in and Lokka seized the opportunity. He pulled up his pistol and spent 5 shots on the two guards on the right, turned and fired a shot into the centre guards neck. Two shots left. Lokka aimed his gun at Detryns kneecap and fired. Detryn went down with a cry. Lokka turned his attention to the mob boss.

"You. I have no reason to kill you, you pose no threat. What can you offer me in return for your life?"

The boss was clearly taken by surprise. He stuttered for a moment and looked down at Detryn. He was curled up on the floor screaming in agony and gripping his leg tightly. The wound in his knee had shattered a joint in the bone and had caused more damage than Lokka first expected. It didn't matter too much though, he wouldn't last long as it is. The boss turned around to face Lokka.

"Wh-What do you want with him?" He muttered looking back down at Detryn.

"That doesn't concern you"

"Fine. I know when to keep my mouth shut. What do you want from me then?"

"I assume your life is worth more to you than your pathetic excuse for a gang?"

The boss scowled lightly at the insult. "Yes"

"Then I require data on your group. If I know everything you know then I have no reason to keep you here"

"Here" The boss rifled through his pockets and produced a small memory key. "This has all of our bloody information on it, some of it heavily classified, will you just let me go?"

He threw the memory key to Lokka. Lokka caught it and lifted his left arm to reveal his PDA system attached to it. He inserted the memory key and the data opened up on the system.

"Credit Transactions, Private Funding, Member Files....This will be useful"

"Yes yes can I go? I need to get out of this god damn city!"

"You may leave once I get a name out of this guy". Lokka gestured toward Detryn with his gun. He slowly moved across the room and grabbed the piece of dirt by the scruff of the neck.

"You possess information that I require"

Detryn looked up, grunting as he did so. He looked Lokka right in the eye.

"What the fuck do you want?!"

"I need a name. Two weeks ago. Information was leaked to Prism about your whereabouts. Who was he?"

"I can't tell you that I'd be out of a job!"

"You wont be able to work very well with two broken kneecaps I bet"

"What?! You cant even count your own shots you assho-AGHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Lokka had fired a second shot into Detryn's leg. He'd wasted far too much time here tonight. He needed answers now.

"I NEED A NAME!"

"Michael Sayrs! He's part of Prism's network thats all I know!"

Lokka dropped the man. Michael. He had provided a lot of information to Prism when he was just starting out after leaving the viola facility. This man was responsible for most of Prism's reputation. Why would he betray him and for what price?

"C'mon man! I told you the goddamn name! Why do you need it so bad he's just a god damn information broker."

"He provided me with incorrect information"

"Wait...What? Your....your Prism?"

Lokka had heard all he needed to hear and needed to get out now. This man had to be found tonight before he heard about this.

"Yes, Thats me. Goodbye Detryn Vita"

Lokka bent down and picked up Detryns gun, placed it in his hand and pulled his own arm to fire through his throat.

"NO! PLEASE MAN DONT DO-"

The round went off and the criminal got what he deserved. Lokka turned to face the frightened Boss. "Get out of here"

The man ran and would likely alert the guards still positioned around the building. It didn't matter, 'Prism' would be long gone. He bent down and picked up Detryn's UI chip which was inside his telecommunications system. This would be all he needed. Lokka continued through the building and exited out of the southern side on the second floor, the side which was unguarded in the earlier survey.

He vanished out into the streets and removed his Bandana. As he moved he injected himself with a distrum capsule and released his shield. Michael Sayrs would die tonight.

Lokka brought up his PDA and inserted the UI chip belonging to Detryn. He opened up the recent call logs that had light encryption on them. He configured the calls with his own PDA and within minutes replicated Detryn's own voice from the chips history. Accessing the files he found Michael's User number. He found a safe alleyway and made the call.

"Michael its Detryn". The voice translator worked perfectly.

"What the fuck do you want? I'm already in way over my head for what I did the other week!"

"Hey asshole I'm covering your back! You need to meet my associate tonight so he can give you a new UI chip, the information on your old one has been compromised"

"Dammit! Okay but you better make it quick. I'll be at The Mirage in 10 minutes"

The call ended. The Mirage was a well-known nightclub in the area. Michael could be found, moved to a nearby alleyway and slaughtered. It would be seamless.
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------- 
 
Lokka arrived at the nightclub at the meeting time. He lurked in the shadows for a while and watched the people in the club. He had no idea what Michael looked like but he'd spotted 3 males alone in the club neither drinking nor dancing. He could be any of these three people, or they could all be working for Michael, it was hard to tell. Lokka brought up his PDA and dialled Michael's number once more, this time looking carefully at the Men in the room. Only one reacted and brought out his phone and touched it to his ears. His lips moved in sync with the sound coming from Lokka's own device.

"Hello?"

It was him. This was it. Justice in its purest form. This man would die and things would be corrected. Suddenly it begun. Complete chaos. Lokka had been soo focused on finding Michael that he hadn't even noticed the presence of a Destrillian. It was made clear to him however when flames begun to sprout up in the club, burning everything.

Lokka identified the woman that was doing this. I young girl that had attacked a bystander in the club and done serious damage to his face, no doubt killing him. The girl's glowing hair shone out red and orange in the flames purging the room.

Lokka didn't panic, he tried to re-locate Michael. Where was he?
Looking down he found the man he was looking for, lying on the floor with severe burns on his body, getting worse as the heat grew stronger. The man was no longer conscious and if he wasn't already dead he would be in seconds.

This...Revenge. It wasn't how Lokka had planned it. Not at all. Thinking logically he realised that his mission was over here but there were more pressing issues such as the destrillian.

Holding out a barrier around himself to ward out smoke or flames, Lokka moved through the crowd of slowly failing humans and approached the girl. Another Destrillian was here tonight and he needed her. The building was slowly collapsing around them so he needed to get them both to safety and out of the public eye. This was the kind of attention that he did not need.

He grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her around.

"We need to get out of here"

Hisako 04/24/2010 06:03 AM

No sooner than their eyes adjusted to the dim light near the door, the door swung shut behind them and threw them into darker darkness. A second later, the room instantly flooded with blinding light and writhing snakes on the floor, causing most of them to close their eyes, some of them to look away from the room that lay before them.

The walls were covered in naked human bodies, all drenched in what appeared to be the same liquid chocolate and wine but darker, thicker and even more viscous. Red and brown-black coated the room, giving it the appearance of a macabre lair of a wild beast. They did not move, although a continuous, deep groan rippled through the room. The bodies were in various states of dismemberment, but were surreal and were unlike any bodies in their last death throes the Destrillians had ever seen, more resembling freakish mannequins nestled deep within the trough of the uncanny valley.

At the far end of the room, the magnificent man-sized cat lay curled at the feet of a teenage girl, who sat on a red-leather throne, which contorted with the imprints of human faces, arms, legs, and torsos. She wore a simple, white billowing gown which reached her ankles as she sat, contrasting herself with the live, writhing bodily hell she sat in. Her face was made of plastic – or porcelain – and her eyes shifted colors from left to right iris. She spoke, her supposedly innocent voice like the honey hiding the bitter syrup underneath.

I find you in my fears
and in my fascination

“Why are you here?” Her voice came at them from all sides, from behind them, from above, from below, from inside them. “They tell me you came from out of the Orange Zone.”

“You tell us.”

The girl pouted, her eyes flashing between a cream color to pink and then hot red. “My lair, my rules. You know when you play in someone else’s house, you play their games.” She rested her chin on one of her arms propped up on an armrest. In an instant, she shifted out of focus, convulsing as in the space of seconds she grew into an adult woman, back curled as she continued to fuel the nightmare playing out in front of the Destrillian’s eyes.

“What the hell is this place…”
The woman on the throne lifted her head, noticeably the same, glistening porcelain skin glinting against the spotlights from above. “You’re not like the others…”
“We can’t really say the same thing about you.”
The woman shook her head, her eyes flashing blue to dark purple. “You didn’t come here by choice, you’re looking for something… something more human – human – than you…”

Paranoid and peaceful
Inside a sweet addiction

A couple of dismembered torsos detached itself from the ceiling and landed on the floor between the woman and the Destrillian party, splashing more redness over the snaking floor as they silently writhed on the spot. Unsure or not whether to attack it, they took a step backwards as the queen in the lair continued.

“I can help you with what you need… a sanctuary…” She spasmed again and on her chair she grew – her dress billowed outwards and her belly rose. Her motherly visage was only broken by the same, plastic complexion. “Somewhere safe, a sanctuaryAAAAAHHHHH-”

Most of them took another step backwards as they watched her lapse into another convulsing fit, most too bewildered to reply to very much. She tripped and fell over the beast curled at her feet, and clawed at the snakes on the floor as she continued to writhe on the ground with a scream that echoed and pierced through their heads in one continuous bellow.

Soft insanity and I can’t make it stop
Live hallucination within a dream

Eventually, there was silence as she collapsed into a heap. Then there was movement under her dress. Red bloomed across her belly as she began to crumble into ash and dust.
A child stood up from under the dress as it turned to liquid and reformed on the child’s body. The dust cleared as the red dress quickly returned to form-fitting proportions, as she seemed to phase in and out of existence, morphing from mere child to full-bodied adult. Finally, she stopped just as she was a few feet away from the group, standing amongst the crawling dismembered torsos, the air growing heavier and heavier around them as she stepped closer and closer.

Iara che respiro
Il mio cibo, cioche osservo
Magico se tu

“Long story short, I don’t know who you are. But in a moment, I will find out. And maybe some of you will too.” A red haze descended from the ceiling and floor and began to wrap itself around the Destrillian’s and the other’s bodies, as the woman’s voice manifested itself into a viscous honey-water fluid that pooled around their feet. “Start the dosage, prepare the pods.”

One by one, the group began to fall unconscious without knowing, until all who was left standing was Kram and Stolz. Through the near-opaque haze of red now completely surrounding them, the two half-realised what was happening, although by the time they had started to reach a conclusion, there were two neat sharp blows at the back of the head, and gentle but firm fingers gripped their necks and stabbed syringes into them, causing them to fall unconscious soon after.

***

Thetis didn’t know where she was when she woke up. She tried scanning her surroundings but soon realized she was lying down – floating on water, ignoring the wave of nausea that swept over her as she stood up.
The water was like glass and spanned out for as far as the eye could see. Her reflection flickered and died out on the water under her, and before she could call out for someone, anyone –

“So it’s you.”
The man standing a few feet behind her – it couldn’t be.
“Father?”

He was silent after his greeting, staring at her with eyes that seemed so empty and lifeless. He simply stared at her. He seemed to loom over her as he folded his arms and was immaculately dressed, hair combed neatly.
She reached out towards his face, and without warning, he pushed her away, a rough shove that caused her to trip and fall backwards. “Why did you?”

“…”
“You left. And you know what? I didn’t mind. You didn’t want to follow me. And that’s fine. But how could you do that to your mother? You abandoned us. It’s all your fault.”
It’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault
Before Thetis could reply, a rough hand pulled her back on her feet from the scruff of her collar and as she struggled to pull herself away, she was backhanded across the face with a slap that burned her cheek. She fell onto grass, the wind grating across the fresh mark that the slap left. There were trees, looming over her in an enclosure, black and spiny with branches that seemed to reach downwards. And then the slight frame of a woman in a lab coat squatted down to meet Thetis’ eyes with a piercing, disapproving gaze that seemed to drill fear into her chest like a knife.

“You continue to fail yourself, Number Six.” Allison Perkins ignored anything Thetis might have said, and slapped her across the face again. She stood up, wiping her hand on the sleeve of her labcoat like one would have wiped their hands after killing a particularly bothersome mosquito. “You continue to fail everyone you know, and most importantly, you continue to fail me.”

At a shadow of resistance from Thetis, armored soldiers she didn’t notice were there before walked towards her, aiming their rifles at her as Dr Perkins drew out a syringe from her lab coat. “You’re not even human anymore. But you’re no better than one. You’re nothing. You think otherwise? Prove it.” She drew a penknife out with her other hand, twirling it on her fingers like an expert.
This wasn’t the Dr Perkins Number Six knew, but she was going to be the end of her anyway if she didn’t do something fast.

***

“Idris? Where are you? Idris? Where are you? Idris? Where are you?”

Heat.
It was hot. The air around Idris shimmered like the atmosphere sitting on a searing summer road, but the more ice-cold the metal floor she was lying down on was. It was the heat that had woken her, and then the flame that licked at her toes. She looked around at the inferno raging about her, and a cold, dreaded sense of familiarity set in.
The floors used to be wooden floorboards, though…

“Idris!” The scream was faint, distant, choked back by the flames engulfing her bedroom, leaping up the curtains and sending thick plumes of black smoke out the windows as paint curled up and crackled, blistered and charred by the licking tongues of red and orange.

Suddenly, the ceiling caved in and soldiers followed suit, landing on their feet around her as she fully realized where she was and what was happening. The patches sewn on the sleeves of their arms fully set in the reality of what was happening.
They drew out stun batons, and circled her, the snap-crackle of electricity rising above even the stifling inferno the house was in. The windows were not a good exit, and by now flames were surrounding them as they circled around her, the door the only visible safe exit she could see.

***

The thicket of trees felt the same to Emma, even though they were different from those she had known before when she escaped. An inescapable feeling of freedom. A newfound awe of the silvery light beaming from a midnight sky and casting midnight shadows on the ground. The life pulsing around her swayed in the breeze, shedding leaves like hair onto the ground.

A wail pierced through the silence of nature and through her mind, and she instantly recognized the voice. She had been here before.
She had been in this situation before.

Emma tried shifting the trees, bending them to her will, but when she concentrated –
Nothing.
In fact, the trees seemed to close in on her, pushing and shoving her as they buckled and swayed to the wind that picked up into a gale.
Suddenly there were people all around her, trying to kill her, trying to plead with her, trying to reach out for help, and all were buffeted around and impossible to reach as she fought to gain control over the trees around her.
But there were only two cries of help that echoed in her mind, and both were the voices of two of the most important people that had ever entered her life. As several armored soldiers seemed to jump down from the trees, blocking her way, she knew what to do.

***

Terra yelped as a wildly flailing tree branch caught her across the legs and made her fall face-first into the dirt, which then surprised her because the pain in her fairly useless legs were gone.
In fact, as she stood up without too much effort, she knew something was different as soon as her legs failed to fail to support her body. Momentary surprise was replaced by momentary glee and then to momentary suspicion.
And she could feel it, despite the constant disturbing prodding of the tree branches making her jump.

Emma was close.
Thinking about it, she realized that she could think a lot better, and when she cleared her throat to talk out loud, she realized that her brain was connected to the rest of her body much better as well. She diverted her attention to her thoughts, and suddenly realized how they – how she had gotten here.
They had gotten here out of nowhere.

As another tree swung at her particularly uncomfortably, a pinprick of annoyance, a massive wave of dirt uprooted the tree and blasted its bottom half into splinters, leaving its remains to lie on the ground, squirming in what appeared to be pain.
She covered her face with her arms, expecting whatever incredible source of power that had done this to charge at her next, when she realized that she was the source of power that had exploded the tree, her simple careless gesture causing a deadly shockwave of lethal earth.

And she had barely noticed.

Suddenly, the trees morphed into screams and howls, of eerily familiar voices that threatened to rob Terra of what little newfound confidence there was.
YOU ABANDONED US, YOU LEFT US, YOUR FAMILY AND YOU DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT WHETHER WE DIED HOW COULD YOU BE SO CRUEL TO YOUR OWN FLESH AND BLOOD
A particularly thick branch swung at Terra, and swung at her hard.

***

Kerr woke to pitch-black darkness. For an irrational moment, he might as well have been blind. Eventually, eyes adjusting to the darkness moments later, he methodically retraced his steps, where he was, how he got here.

He was sitting in a leather chair, excessively extravagant. Fine-trimmed and clearly expensive, somewhat like one a business executive would have in his office. He deduced he obviously wasn’t in his comfort zone.

In front of him was a long table which stretched out into the darkness. Neat rows of laptops were closed in front of neat rows of other extravagant office chairs.
A board room.
Details played out in his head immediately afterwards: the room was relatively open-spaced, too open-spaced for his liking. The only protection afforded could be from the chair he was sitting in, the table impossible to upturn, any attack on him from a distance difficult to defend against. Any such self-defense would inevitably force him to use his powers, and considering his state –

A reassessment of his own condition cut him short. There were no aches in his bones or fatigue clouding his head like there was previously. He had no wounds that needed tending to or limbs that felt stiff.
Previously.
The more Kerr thought about it the less he was sure of what ‘previously’ was. Details about some fight, a whole range of emotions ranging from shame, stinging embarrassment, smugness, apprehension to fear.
But his head was somewhere else entirely.
He would have to find his way out, try and pick up the details of where he exactly was and why he was here.

As Kerr stood up, floodlights shot torrents of light straight at Kerr’s face, the sudden light leaving marks before his eyes could adjust to them. He noticed a logo printed into the wood of the table as he turned away, and finally he knew where he was now.

“Number Eleven.”
He couldn’t see where the voice was coming from, but he knew the voice the moment it voiced his old name.
“It’s good to see you still doing Viola’s work. But you’ve been straying from the mark lately, Kerr.”
The spotlights moved with mechanical whirring, and Kerr deduced that they were actually security droids, their guns trained on him. The favored heavy guns of Viola, designed to take down even the most rebellious of their property.

“It’s reasonable to bide your time, Kerr, but you can only keep up the act for so long. Viola is not dead. It lives in you, Number Eleven, and as you are our property, you shall finish your orders to the letter. You can’t gain acceptance from anyone except us. You are a Destrillian, not a petty human living out a mundane life.”

The spotlights seemed to close in on him, laser sights from a line of soldiers behind them training onto his chest. “We can make it so all your guilt can vanish. Besides, Kerr, think about what really needs to be done. You know we can’t have dissenters in our ranks.”

Something felt very wrong, and as Malcolm Abaddon paused, the whirring spin of chain-guns could be heard.
“Just ask your friend Ariel.”

***

The hard concrete floor on Kramskov’s bare face was a rude awakening, much more so when he felt the chill all over the front of his body, penetrating through the shirt and pants he wore.
Looking around, the room he was in was bare except for a toilet and a bed that he had most likely rolled off from. The room was small, cubicle-like, and with the oddly-sized window placed at the uppermost part of the wall behind him, he may as well have been in a prison cell.

There was the sound of a klaxon in the distance, a familiar sense of danger and darkness. The cold gave Kramskov a runny nose, and the boy began to get a sinking feeling in his stomach.
It felt like he was missing something. He couldn’t place his finger on it, but there was a familiarity to where he was that he couldn’t shake.

The door in front of him was pulled of its hinges and thrown aside, and the klaxon sounds began to crescendo as dust from outside cleared. A man-sized robot with large metal muscles burst through the doorway, sweeping the room with a cone of fire that extended from his palm, yelling something about SUPER HENSHIN DRIVER FIRE FORCE SPLENDIDU and other incoherent rubbish. The roaring heat seemed to light up the room like an oven, but there was no way out aside from the doorway.

KRAMMY!!!

The voice pierced through his mind, even as sheer terror bled like sweat.
She was somewhere.
She was in trouble.
He had to find her, and to do this he had to get out of this horrible laboratory.

***

Nova grunted as he plucked the last of the fur off his meaty forearms. “So, uh, see anything you like, girl?”
Jettison remained silent for a moment as she adjusted the bulky headgear attached from her head to the monitor. “They’re fucked up.”

“Just ‘fucked up’? Come on, you knew that the first time you even saw ‘em. There’s more than that shit.”
Jettison chose not to reply. There was another gut feeling that replaced her reasoning skills which she couldn’t explain. She had no way of ‘recruiting’ them into the gang, they seemed far too independent and untameable for that.
Just like me.

But they could help her, regardless. There were things that even her entire gang combined could not face by themselves. As much as Jettison had prepared for her inevitable attack on the company and its science that had ruined her life, she knew that as a weapon she was not enough. Being a master of disguise and improvised combat could only take her and her gang so far.

And these people… they weren’t people. They were far more human than human. Aliens, living out their lives in mortal worlds. Even more so than herself.

“Oh, and hey – aren’t you gonna hook that kid up to some of that wacko-jacko shit?” Nova flicked his head in Stolz’s direction, who lay unconscious on a mattress in the corner of the room.

“We have other plans.”

Nova rolled his eyes. “Yeah, y’all need to do your thang with him, move yo master plan and all into fruition or someshit. I get it.” He cricked his neck as he turned to face the shadows at the back of the room, raising his eyebrows in curiosity. “But just how important is that kid to youse guys anyway?”

Mantichorus 05/04/2010 05:49 PM

The ash scorched at the back of his throat, causing him to choke. His brain was telling him what he ought to be smelling - charred flesh, wood smoke - but the flame was too hot to smell anything other than heat.

“Kara? Mom? Dad?” he cried. At first, there was no answer. And then, directly behind him…

“Sssssssss… burnburnburnburnburnburnburnburnburnburnburnburn--”


___________________________________________________________________________

The sound of a silenced gunshot jerked Early awake in a heartbeat. That damned nightmare again, -who fired that gun? Who was it fired at? Am I hit?-

Early smirked and tapped the butt of the pistol against his temple.

“Idiot,” he muttered to himself. He always fell asleep with a gun in his hand, and every time he had that nightmare he always pulled the trigger in his sleep, always waking himself. A friggin good eject button, he had to say so himself.

He pulled himself into a sitting position on the couch in Smythe’s office. The doc had allowed him the use of the building for the night, on the understanding that before the morning was through, Early would be gone from town for good.

He hated that nightmare. It wasn’t how things had happened, but it captured everything Early had felt at the time, dialled up to eleven. By the time he’d returned home, the fire was long dead and the freak that had caused it was even longer gone.

…Not to mention that Kara had died the year before. Shit.

Early shook his head. He needed to focus on the job, not the past. Let’s see… First point of business: where next? There were no other former Volsung staff settled in Artolia that he knew of, which meant it was either Vanaheimr or Osea. He’d have to visit the capital sooner or later. So, was a detour to Vanaheimr worth it?

He knew Smythe was right - it was likely that any Animus that had been in Vanaheimr would have either moved along or been bagged and tagged by IRIN. But could there be any new arrivals there that he could catch… now there was a question worth asking. And the IRIN. Early knew a thing or two about organisations, and greasing the right palm could get you a few words off the record. On the other hand… approaching them in an official capacity might be worthwhile, too.

But; would an Animus go to Vanaheimr in the first place? Hmm…

___________________________________________________________________________

“Is this safe?” he’d asked.

Doctor Hartnell nodded. “Of course it is. Nemesis works for Chulainn just as… hnn…
better than you do, Early.”

Early expected it was fact, although the senior scientist could just be showing pride in his work. Hartnell was somewhere in his sixties. Doubtlessly as a younger man he was quite tall, because now, even stooped with age, he was over five and half feet tall. His ash-white hair had receded up his forehead, leaving him with a widow’s peak. His white lab coat covered his body to his knees, where carefully creased trousers took over to the polished shoes.

“So, Nemesis… what do I need to know?”

“Nemesis is her identifier, hmm, see, at birth, each Animus was given a ‘code name’, which we call their identifier. However, when it seemed they were unlikely to see combat duty, they were also given more regular names. Nemesis is a Lykaon Animus -- you remember that term from your briefing I trust? -- and was one of the first to be repatriated after the mass escape.”

“You mean the Night of --?”

“I detest that name. The Animus are too cowed to know rage. No, it was the Hunger that caused it. Heh, gods know if I knew about the Hunger beforehand, I would have advised they be sedated more heavily.” Hartnell shook his head, perhaps in remorse.

“What can she tell me that you guys can’t?”

“The Animus think differently than you and I. This is in part due to simple genetics, in part due to their isolated rearing. And, of course, there is also the Hunger. Every single Animus we have interviewed since the escape, regardless of personality, has spoken of it.”

“Yeah,” Early said.

“Ah, of course. I had forgotten how you became aware of the Animus in the first place.” Hartnell paused. “If it makes a difference to you, most who have become aware of the Animus have had memory alteration work done on them, if not straight extermination.”

“Ain’t I lucky?” Early said, not trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

Hartnell shot him a look, well aware of the tone. Early guessed that the old man had probably had people ‘exterminated’ for the Tone.

“Ah, here we are,” Hartnell said, obviously as glad to be out of Early’s company as Early was to be out of his. “This is the interview room Nemesis will be brought to in a short while. There are cameras, so we will know what passes between you, although--”

There was an audible clack as Hartnell closed his mouth so quickly his teeth bumped together. Early knew what the sound meant, as he’d made it a couple times himself. He was biting off an utterance he might regret later.

“Anyway; wait here. A handler will bring her along shortly,” Hartnell said, opening the door.

Early went in quietly and heard the door close behind him. The room was painted off-white all over. There was a table and two folding chairs in the middle of the room. They were, depressingly, the same colour. He briefly wondered which side of the table he was supposed to sit. A quick examination suggested they were both the same.

He decided to take the seat opposite the door, as it gave a more commanding presence. If it had been sooner in his career, he would have presumed that they would have expected that of him and gone for the seat nearer the door. However, he had recently come to the conclusion that trying to second-guess anyone was like a bad comedy skit, as they’d probably try to second-guess how you would second-guess them.

No sooner had he taken his seat than the door opened. A lean girl somewhere in her late teens walked -- no,
stalked -- into the room. He’d never seen a female Animus before, but as he knew what the males looked like, he couldn‘t not identify her as an Animus. Where you would expect body fat to provide definition on a normal human, the Animus lacked it. One of the scientists had explained it -- their metabolism was so severe they couldn’t sustain body fat. The head sheds were divided as to whether this was a result or cause of the Hunger. Only muscle tone prevented them looking malnourished. Although, a few of the Animus on the run looked that, too.

This girl had dark hair and dark eyes. As with all Animus, due to being raised without natural light she had what could only be described as extreme prison pallor -- and with the harsh fluorescent lighting, what little skin colour she might have had was bleached out.

The grey jumpsuit she was wearing would have emphasised her figure, had she had one. The hair was cut short, and the eyes were wary. Dog tags hung around her neck.

“You are Donovan Early?” she asked.

“Yeah. What’s your name, kid?” Early asked in response.

“I am Nemesis,” she replied.

“Cute,” Early muttered. “What’s your other name?”

Nemesis narrowed her eyes slightly, but it seemed affected. Early remembered something in the briefing about Lykaon Animus being the most loyal to their handlers. Well, Lykaon were part wolf and part human, and dogs were domesticated or ‘humanised’ wolves… Would the pup want a pat on the head?

“Lani. Lani Blaise,” she said.


‘Good girl,’ Early thought to himself. Out loud, he said, “Nice to meet you, Lani. Wanna take a seat?”

Nemesis took the seat opposite him carefully, not taking her eyes from him even as she brushed the seat with hand.

“So, Ms. Blaise. Our bosses think some of your fellow Animus may have left not just the province, but the country. They want me to go after them,” Early said, and then leaned in conspiratorially. “What can you tell me of how the Animus think?”

Nemesis tilted her head to one side and studied him, frowning. “I would try to avoid the cities at first. They’re too noisy and smelly,” she said. “But, smaller settlements would be insufficient to hide an Animus for too long. Especially if the Hunger was to overtake us. So…”

“You’d migrate to bigger towns. Then the cities. Then the biggest cities,” Early said.

“Yes,” Nemesis answered. “But I take it from your tone of voice, you had already surmised that.”

Early paused, thrown at actually hearing the word ‘surmised’ from the mouth of anyone who wasn’t involved with the law.

“Pretty much,” he said. “I’m told you could give me some insight to the Hunger?”

The frown on her face deepened. “The Hunger… It’s, well, it’s impossible to describe accurately. The Hunger is… As an Animus, I feel hungry most of the time. To say my highest priority is where my next meal is coming from wouldn’t be far wrong. But after…we change, this hunger is heightened to unbearable levels. At times, it can overcome us, leaving us barely more than berserk savages. In this state, our only focus is to gorge ourselves on meat.”

“Why meat?” Early said.

“I don’t know. Some of the scientists believe it’s due to the proteins in the meat, that immediately after the change it’s what our bodies need most. Some suggest it’s due to our DNA and our more bestial characteristics asserting themselves.” Nemesis shrugged. “If any of them do know the cause, they do not tell us.”

That made sense to Early. “So, you said gorge. Why did you choose that word?”

Nemesis shook her head, a wry smile quirking her lips. “You are Donovan Early, who brought down Achilles? Do you need to ask that?”

Achilles… He hadn’t known the monster’s code name, but he knew who she meant. A serial killer had been stalking the streets of the Hub, slaughtering without discrimination or pattern. As Early was in Chulainn’s pay, he decided he would hunt it down.

He didn’t approach the police, as he had no official weight, being a soldier of fortune. He followed the details released by the press. He talked to people who may have seen something. He talked to those who saw
‘absolutely nuffin’, honest, wait, no, don’t get like that, OK, but you don’t let anyone know I told you this’.

Eventually, he came across the man whose description had been seen around nearly every murder. The damage this man had done to those he killed was horrific. Early was prepared to bring in the corpse of a monster. And a monster was what he had got. With talons…teeth…

“An Animus in the grips of the Hunger… is nothing but a monster. Even in your own eyes. Tearing people apart to sate its guts, blind to everything else,” he said, presently.

Nemesis nodded, almost impassively. “Exactly. I have no idea how many of my friends fled in the Night of the Rage… or how many were torn apart by another Animus, perhaps even…myself.” Her voice wavered slightly on the last word.

“For myself -- and the other repatriates here -- losing ourselves to the Hunger is one of the worst fates imaginable. For those feral Animus… I can’t say. Some of them may revel in it. Others may end their own existence to try to escape it.”

She locked her eyes directly to Early’s.

“You should take care of yourself, Mr. Early.”

Bex 05/05/2010 12:42 AM

Thetis didn’t know where she was when she woke up.

The icy chill of something against her back made the water prototype shiver as she stared at the dreary monotone sky. Her blue hair had come loose from its braid, and was spreading in the eerily calm water beneath her. How did she get here, again? Thetis couldn’t quite recall anything before waking up and staring at the empty space above her. Despite being surrounded by her element, Thetis felt alarmingly out of her depth. Her chest tightened. Something was very wrong.

The water prototype’s stomach churned as she clambered to her feet as she tried to negotiate her balance with the still sheet of water below her. It was so quiet, and the water seemed to go on for miles in a glassy grey expanse which never ended. Thetis impulsively reached for her arm, half expecting a twinge of pain from the battle she had fought...earlier? There was nothing there. She leaned over and glanced at her image in the murky grey mirror beneath her. No blood, no wounds, nothing. But she had been so sure, so certain that something had happened. The water prototype just didn’t know what. Thetis crouched to study her reflection. A ripple in the mirror, and her likeness faded in an instant. Thetis frowned. She was a Destrillian; designed to overcome any adversity. Why did she feel so nervous? The girl took a step back, her breath catching in her throat as she opened her mouth to shout for the others, someone, anyone who could tell her where she was. The prototype flinched at the sound of a booming voice.

“So it’s you.”

Thetis turned on her heels. It was the man she had never expected to see. The man who brought back memories of home and white corridors, the smell of moss and sterility, a photo of a woman with warm blonde hair and a smile that sparkled like the stars.
“Father?”
He was silent and stern in his starched shirt and tailored suit, his eyes cold and brown like coffee stains. She remembered what he had done, yes, but Thetis was drawn to him. To know that this man lived was to know that she existed. A few disjointed steps and Thetis was inches away from her father. He had betrayed her. But after years of not-knowing, to see him here and now melted her anger into nothingness. She was his daughter, after all. Trembling pale fingers reached to remind her that she had finally found the answers to everything.

The girl’s legs buckled beneath her as she was roughly pushed to the floor.

“Why did you?”
Her father loomed over her, and she could only stare up at him. This wasn’t right. There was a numb silence as Thetis attempted to process what had just happened. She had so much to say. Words floated around the air in bits and pieces as Thetis clumsily tried to form a coherent sentence. She stuttered, words dribbling out of her mouth as she tried to reason with her father.

“I don’t understa-“

“You left. And you know what? I didn’t mind. You didn’t want to follow me. And that’s fine. But how could you do that to your mother? You abandoned us. It’s all your fault.”

It’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault it’s all your fault
Those four little words hurt Thetis more than anything in the world. Tears pricked the back of her eyes as she edged herself away from the overshadowing figure of her father. One last look at her father’s glassy brown eyes, and Thetis felt herself being choked as she was dragged violently to her feet by the collar of her shirt, her feet trailing across the still sheet of water below her. Thetis flailed her arms behind her as she fought to tear herself free, pulling and scratching at the hands that held onto her clothes and hair in a vice-like grip. Before the girl could voice a single protest, she was roughly spun round and backhanded across the cheek. The force of the slap threw Thetis to the ground. Damp blades of grass brushed against her face and the mark on her face stung almost as badly as her damaged pride. Trees creaked in the wind, stripped of leaves and life, bare branches jutting out awkwardly like broken bones towards her as Thetis glanced indignantly into the face of her attacker. Her heart sunk as soon as she caught a glimpse of a pristine white lab coat and a chillingly critical glare. Thetis instinctively scrambled backwards, her chest heaving as Dr. Perkins walked closer and closer, yellow eyes widening as the Doctor squatted down in front of her.

“You continue to fail yourself, Number Six.”
Words fell from Thetis’ mouth in a gasp as she received another slap to the face. She watched Dr. Perkins stand up with a glare and a lump in her throat. It was exactly like back then at Viola; constant humiliation because she could never fight back, because she had always been so weak. Thetis sunk her nails into the grass as she watched her former Doctor wipe her hand on her sleeve in disgust.

“You continue to fail everyone you know, and most importantly, you continue to fail me.”
Incensed by the Doctor’s callous tone, the water prototype leapt to her feet. She had grown since Viola, and she knew it. Freedom had made her stronger.

“I-I’m NOT a failure!”
Thetis winced as she heard it; the stammer that betrayed every ounce of uncertainty in her words. She felt the rough bite of bark against her clothes as she backed into a tree, all of a sudden very aware of a number of soldiers approaching from all directions. The tell-tale click of rifles being raised and primed to fire made the girl’s hair stand on end. Her primal instincts kicked in as she watched Dr. Perkins pull a syringe from her pocket. A flash of steel, and the doctor was rolling a knife in her other hand, twisting the blade around her fingers without a thought to masking her intent. They weren’t taking her back to Viola. They were going to kill her.

“You’re not even human anymore. But you’re no better than one. You’re nothing. You think otherwise? Prove it.”
Adrenaline pulsed through her veins as the doctor’s taunts bubbled like poison under Thetis’ skin. If she was a shell of a Destrillian, she would make sure it was still enough to get revenge for ten years of torture at Viola. As water snaked up Thetis’ arms and body, she could have sworn she felt something of a twinge in the back of her skull.

“I have nothing to prove to you.”
Thetis’ voice resonated with the false confidence she had practised for years. As the sixth Destrillian prototype lunged for the troop of soldiers that stood before her, she held in her mind one clear thought.
She still had everything to prove.

Baldy 05/07/2010 04:02 AM

Darkness.
It was almost odd, after all the flashing lights and explosive heat she’d been exposed to lately. It was almost kind, after the dirty smiles and intentions of the scum in the sewer. It was almost comforting, after the horrors of the nightclub, what with its thumping music assaulting the ears and its pungent smoke assaulting the nose and its strobes and bodies and faces and mirrors and everything everything everything assaulting everything else.
Almost almost almost.

But not quite odd, because the girl was used to darkness and had learned to embrace it a long time ago; not quite kind, because there was an edge of something ominous to it, like the front of a storm cloud.
And definitely not comforting, for the woman who had put Idris Savage in this predicament was shady at best.Woman? Or child? Or thing? She—it?—had never given any sort of indication as to what her true form looked like, but good lord had she looked like a monster anyway. Idris would have shuddered if there had been enough of her to shudder – as it were, she was… floating, almost, upon something invisible and cold. She was barely able to register what cold felt like, so dulled were her nerves. But she remembered what it should feel like, and so with the confused signals her body managed to grab hold of, Idris gathered that this was cold… whatever this was.

But suddenly, it wasn’t cold anymore. No, the temperature was rising all of a sudden and Idris had a sickening jolt of a premonition that whatever was making the heat rise was bad bad bad. She tried to open her eyes, not knowing whether they were already open or not, but it was hard and her body was still sending jumbled signals to her – hot cold hot cold. What was where?
The heat of licking flames was above her.
The cool, familiar feel of solid metal was beneath her.

The Destrillian opened her eyes and beheld something she never wanted to see again.
I recognize this place.
It took her by surprise that she did, for Idris had not seen her house since the day the fire had actually occurred. That day… today…? For some reason it felt like ‘that day’ was supposed to be ‘today,’ although a big part of her told her it wasn’t. It had happened years ago, she told herself, and yet suddenly the small woman wasn’t so sure. What was going on?

“Idris? Where are you?”
The voice, muffled and hoarse from smoke, called out in the hallways and Idris’ mind did something it had never done before. It shut out logic in favour of awful awful awful childish instinct. Here she was, eleven years old, and this was her home, and it was the middle of the night and she was tired and in bed—on the floor?—and there was a fire raging away and this was her home.

“Idris? Where are you?”
“I’m here,” she tried to call back, but instead she only breathed in a lungful of smoke. She coughed it out, feeling increasingly like there was something she should be doing, but she couldn’t figure out what. She just had to get out of there, and find her family. There was plenty of metal on the floor, that would make life easy to escape… wait, wasn’t her floor made of wood? And what did she even mean, metal made life easy?


“Idris? Where are you?”
And the third time’s the charm and Idris Savage called out like the scared little girl she thought she was, for her mother and father and big brother, but there was no reply. The smoke stung her eyes and her fright didn’t help and soon she was crying crying crying there on the floor. Some memory stirred in her brain that you were supposed to stay low while there was a fire, and Idris curled up on the floor.
The moment her cheek hit the cool, soothing metal ground, some strange and painful blast of clarity went through her like the floor had shocked her. The girl started, and then blinked. What was going on here? Why did this feel familiar?

Cccckkrrrr—

Oh. That’s why.

The ceiling caved, and a team of men resembling the military reconnaissance team of your nightmares came crashing down into her bedroom. That was what really kicked Idris back to where she was supposed to be. Here she was, crying on the floor while people were trying to kidnap her and… and… and…

“Idris!”

And take her to Viola.

That’s right. The small woman’s bright grey eyes flashed with sudden realization. This had happened before – this exact scene, playing out in front of her, was what had gone on almost a decade ago. She had been taken by Viola to begin treatment, honing her into a weapon, and her family…

Her family was dead. Not from the fire, ironically, but from circumstances unknown to the woman. They had died while she was at Viola. They had died, which meant that the cries of anguish from somewhere just down the hallway that she could reach if she just tried a little bit, didn’t mean anything. And now Idris knew what was going on here.
You’re trying to pull up my past against me. Well, it won’t do you any good.

“IDRIS!”
“No.” Idris stood up slowly, brushing herself off despite the flames licking around her. This had happened before, which meant it wasn’t happening now. The urge to run to save her family was there, alright, and it was strong, but Idris Savage’s logic was stronger. And so was her cold, sad, resigned determination.
You’re dead. You’re dead you’re dead you’re dead. I’ve already lost you – nice try, woman, she thought viciously, cursing the thing that had done this to her, but you’ll have to try a LOT harder to get me that easy.

The team in front of her, however, with their stun batons pointed straight at her, were going to be a bit more of a problem. Idris closed her eyes, took a deep breath of the air and the smoke and the flames, and ignored the urge to cough horridly. She needed to concentrate. The only safe exit was the door—as safe as you could get in a burning building, anyway. There would be no getting out easy.

A swift glance around the room one last time – maybe to scout for possible openings, maybe because she knew she’d never see her room with this much clarity ever again and she wanted to remember it, burning though it was. And then Idris Savage dropped to the floor, grabbed the metal floor beneath her, and pulled the top layer off, like pulling taffy. It hung liquid from her clenched fist, dripping thick silvery ropes down to the ground, until with a flex and flick of her hands the stuff wound around her forearms in a hard, fluid metal shield. Another flick of her fingers and the metal had whipped out to cover her fingertips in wicked claws, three inches in length and dense as lead.

“You want me so bad?” she said, talking to both the men and to whoever was controlling the freakish flashback. She took a stance incredibly low to the ground, coiled like a viper. She took a preparatory breath for what was about to happen. And with as much malice as she could muster (which was a truly frightening amount, mind,) she snarled through a grim, feral smile:

“COME AND GET ME.”

Alex 05/09/2010 05:50 PM

==========THE ACROPOLIS, OSEA CITY CENTRE==========


The mid afternoon sun was irritating Serviceman Reynolds, standing guard on the Acropolis of the city wasn’t the kind of action he had expected when he enlisted in the armed forces three months ago. The closest he had come to a brush with the enemy was escorting Jason Spencer back into his cell a few days back. The fact that one of his greatest heroes was about to be executed for crimes against humanity was not helping this irritable, lazy afternoon. He had heard there had been some fighting for the 22nd Brigade down in the Orange Zone today, what he wouldn’t have given to have joined in down there. Anything would have been more interesting than the excruciatingly boring job of watching the helicopter landing pad here on the Acropolis from the interior of the security checkpoint. It was ridiculous, the Acropolis hadn’t suffered a direct attack for over five hundred years. Why the hell was it so necessary to have such a tight security force around here?

“Acropolis control, Acropolis control this is prisoner transport VTOL, callsign: AT-RAP requesting permission to land to commence prisoner extraction. Over.”
The speaker on the console piped up. Reynolds looked at it, dumbfounded momentarily, amazed that something had actually had happened on his shift.

“Anybody there?”


Reynolds blinked rapidly, snapping himself out of his daze. Of course a prisoner transport would be inbound, his superior had informed him that one would be coming in order to take Spencer from the jailhouse to the execution grounds.

“This is Acropolis control, you’re cleared to land AT-RAP”
he spoke apprehensively into the microphone. Doing his best to ignore the irony that he was now responsible for sending the man who had inspired him to join the armed forces in the first place, to his death.

“Much obliged” the gravelly voice of the pilot said.

Reynolds signalled to his partner to take over monitoring the consoles of the small control room, as he pulled on his dark blue security jacket and cap. He’d always loved seeing the VTOL craft take off and land, it was rare that somebody on security detail would ever get to see one up close. Stepping out of the office and through the door at the end of the hall he emerged onto an open-air walkway that led to the landing pad.

The VTOL that was coming in to land did not look any of the standard military-issue ones that Reynolds had been briefed about. It was sleek and jet-black, composed entirely of curves and contours, looking far more like a hyper-advanced prototype or private-sector vehicle than anything supplied by the armed forces.

But still, he thought to himself. The sector of the military that handled executions was so far removed from standard operations that the fact their own vehicles looked so different hardly came as a surprise. He gave a wave to the pilot, though he couldn’t see him through the pitch black windows of the cockpit.

The VTOL touched down, the engines’ volume lowering themselves to a low hum as Reynolds approached the cockpit door, which swung open and upwards like the scissor door of a sports car. It took less than ten seconds for Private Reynolds to realize that the man exiting the chopper was most definitely not a member of the military. Unfortunately for him, it took the bullet much less than ten seconds to punch through the very centre of his forehead.

“What a noob”
Salem muttered to himself as he holstered the high calibre revolver and closed the door to the VTOL.

He took a moment to consider that this plan would have probably gone alot smoother if he had used a silenced pistol, or even taken the time to dress in the uniform of one of the security officers of the Acropolis. Instead, Salem Locke had donned his own uniform, one so ragged and beaten up that he looked as though he had worn it through a hundred different battles. Military boots over a pair of torn, patched and ratty jeans, topped with a dirty white t-shirt emblazoned with the graphic image of a smiley face disfigured with a bloody bullet hole in the centre. Over the top of the shirt he wore a loose fitting kevlar bullet proof vest that had taken more than its fair share of damage in its time.

“Hey you! Freeze!”
the panicked voice of Serviceman Reynolds’ partner was yelling frantically. The deafening crack of the revolver gunshot had sent the frightened man sprinting outside to investigate.

“Put your hands up!”
he shouted back, Salem kept walking forward as though he hadn’t heard him or didn’t see the gun being pointed in his direction.

“Yeah, no. Sorry”


“I’ll shoot! I mean i-“
the explosion killed him before the scared guard could finish his sentence. Shearing his body apart so violently that it cracked the concrete walkway beneath their feet and collapsing the wall into the Acropolis air control station behind them. Leaving nothing but a smoking, bloody crater where the guard had been standing moments before.

Salem Locke, #022, the Destrillian of gas and explosions didn’t even change his expression from one of boredom. Returning to the VTOL, he fetched a long, slender package wrapped up in a brown paper from the passenger seat, which he promptly tucked underneath his arm. Finally smiling a wide grin as he heard the muted sounds of the alarms going off inside the Acropolis jail walls.

It was time to go to work.

===
“What do you mean it’s just one man?!”

“Like I said sir! It’s just one ma-AARRRGHH”


The communications line went dead with a jarring, agonizing scream that left Commander McCoy firmly rooted to the spot. Eyes transfixed on the walkie-talkie he was holding.

How could one man cause so much destruction? In the space of 5 minutes the courthouse and jail complex had been thrown into chaos. Timed explosives maybe? It had to be. Terrorists must have been setting up this plan for months. And today of all days? They had to have been after Spencer. It was the only explanation that made sense.

“All units, this is Commander McCoy. Defend Priority Prisoner One. He is the terrorists target!” he shouted into the communications device. “Do you read m-What the hell?” he shouted as the whole building shook. McCoy was a ten year veteran, listening to his senses is what had kept him alive throughout the war, and he was thankful they had saved his life again now. Running to the end of the corridor as the floor beneath him began to shatter and cave in, the structural integrity of the building was beginning to become too irreparably damaged by the scale of the explosions that were gutting its interior.

===

Salem hadn’t even been forced to break into a run yet, nor had there been any resistance strong enough to wipe the self satisfied smirk from his unshaven face as he calmly walked over the pile of rubble that had once been the central wall that separated the courthouse building from the jail area of the building. Holding out his left hand and feeling the gas constrict and tighten down the corridor to his side, the trio of guards who had turned on their heels to flee buckled over as all of the air at that end of the hall was sucked from their lungs, compressed from the air all around him into a space no bigger than a marble. Then he released the pressure psychically and felt the familiar wave of gratification as the tension released itself from his psychic ability.

The large explosion had blown out the walls, floor and ceiling from that end of the corridor, and Salem gave a wry look at the ceiling above his head. If he was crushed by some falling masonry then it would really put a downer on his big day out.

===

“Mr Spencer! We have orders to move you!”
said the most boisterous of the trio of guards that were now standing in the cramped, ill-maintained corridor outside of his tiny cell. The convict remained in utter silence, not even looking up from the shadowy recesses of the room, apparently transfixed with continuing scratch against the wall of this cell.

“Mr Spencer! We need to move out now, this facility is under attack from terrorists!”
he barked in what Spencer could have only assumed this guard believed was an intimidating, authoritative voice.

“I’m well aware.”
He said quietly. The scratching on the wall continued. Temporarily becoming the only sound as the distant rumblings of explosions died away. Spencer caught the nervous city guards, so unused to actual combat were noticeably trembling from the corner of his eye. “You would be well advised to leave now if you value your lives.”

“Shut up!” another one of the guards shouted, pointing the gun at Spencer through the bars. Spencer refused to look up from whatever he was engraving on the wall of his cell.

“If you want to live then I strongly advise you to leave now.”
Spencer spoke calmly and softly, ignoring the gun barrel mere feet from his temple.

“One more word out of you and I’ll put a bullet in your head, I swear to God!”
the guard shouted hysterically as an explosion much closer in proximity literally shook the room and caused a copious amount of dust to fall from the cracks in the aged ceiling.

Spencer let out a slow sigh and turned to face his aggressors; three sweaty, panicky youths. Not a one of them could have been older than twenty-one. His eyes were hidden in shadow, but the gaze was uncompromising, completely ignoring the potential threat of a loaded gun barrel thrust directly at his face.

“You were warned.”


As Spencer whispered those words they instantly became lost amongst the thunderous explosion and the resulting screams of the guards as the corridor outside the cell has blasted with boiling hot wind and the scorching blaze of gas expanding so rapidly that it caught all three in an explosion shattered bones and tore their insides asunder.

Even though the reinforced concrete walls of his cell provided Spencer with some protection, the sound had been like a cannon ball firing close by and had left his ears ringing uncomfortably.

“Hey gorgeous”
Salem spoke cheerfully as he strolled through the blackened crater that had once been one of the most secure doorways in the entire country. This penitentiary for only the most maximum security prisoners had been reduced to a charnel house in less than ten minutes by the gas Destrillian. This young man who had made a mockery of their uniforms and automatic weapons with his wild and unkempt green hair, torn clothing and arms covered from wrist to shoulder in a colourful mosaic of tattoos.

Spencer rolled his eyes, working with Salem was always treading a fine line between the special blend of lethal battlefield perfection and the intense desire to slap him for the continuous and inane running commentary of sarcasm and quips.

“You were cutting it pretty close there boss”
Salem said unhelpfully as he noisily tread through the bloody meat and brittle bones that were littering the floor.

“Just open the door, thank you” Spencer said patiently, casting a final look at the wall he had been carving on since he had first called his accomplice rather than watch as Salem created a mini explosion inside the cell door’s control panel.

“What were you doing in there?”
his partner asked inquisitively, looking at the white scarring marks that Spencer had been scratching into the wall of his cell. Five names had been crudely cut into the concrete surface.

“Just something to keep myself occupied.” Spencer said coldly.

“These five going to be the targets then?”


“Yes.”
He answered simply, shrugging when he saw the incredulous look that Salem was giving him. “I’ve had a good long time to think about this Mr. Locke, I’ve made my decisions as to which of my errant creations matter. Shall we go?” Spencer made little attempt to hide his frustration at the fact they were lingering around his cell. Freedom was only minutes away, and every minute they spent talking here was another minute that the Artolian military would realize that their government’s highest priority prisoner was making an escape and to mobilize their military accordingly. Time was short.

“Did you take the VTOL here?”

“No. I rode in on a magnificent white stallion. I recognise one of those names, why do you need him?”
Salem asked impatiently as Spencer wearily got to his feet, with an equally impatient look in his eyes. The glare was as unreadable as it was severe, causing the gas Destrillian to check his insubordinate tone.

“I’ll tell you when you need to know.”
He said as calmly, but with enough force that the usually roguish Destrillian looked uneasily to avoid the uncomfortable gaze. “Now, let’s get out of here. Did you bring what I asked for?”

By way of a response Salem handed over the long, thin brown parcel he had been supporting in the crook of his arm. “I sure did” he responded “Figured mine wasn’t the only pretty face you needed to see”

Spencer smiled as he unwrapped the package revealing a long antique rifle and an equally long two-handed sword, the leather bound grips on both were well worn and the rifle’s barrel and sword’s scabbard looked weathered enough to know that they had both seen use outside of regular practice sessions. These were the traditional weapons of Artolian military officers, formerly they had stood out amongst the rank and file of the military by wearing a sword. This practice had long since been abandoned after he had left the military, but in close quarters combat and with a skilled sword arm, there was no more deadly weapon. His hands were quick to tie the scabbard and belt around his waist, well experienced from having done the same hundreds of times before. It was a larger sword than most officers dared to wield, many favouring their swords as being nothing more than ornamental trinkets as a mark of their status. Spencer had rejected that outright and chosen to wield a heavier blade, one that wouldn’t break or bend if he was forced to defend himself at close range.

“We have one more job to do before we can leave”


“We do?”

“Yes.”
Spencer answered firmly, taking up his old rifle and slinging it over his shoulder. “We’re going to go kill the supreme court.”

===

“Can you confirm that Spencer is free?” Chief Justice Walther shouted over the chaotic hubbub of noise that was swelling to an almost unbearable pitch in the courtyard outside of the Central Courthouse building. The entire supreme court and many of the legal representatives involved in today’s trial had been hurriedly evacuated from the key government buildings encircling the courtyard. However, given that nobody really knew how many attackers there were or on what scale the devastation really was, the assembled mass of thirty to forty security guards had no real idea where to evacuate the civilians too. There had been reports of explosions all over the Acropolis, concentrated on the jail building adjacent to the courthouse.

“Not at this moment Chief Justice!”
one of the five security guards that he had been assigned solely to protect him responded.

“Well can’t you start getting these people out of here!”
Walther shouted back, grabbing hold of the guard. “We’re just begging to be ambushed by terrorists out here!”

“Not terrorists!”

One voice rang out clear above the crowd, powerful and captivating all at the same time. It was as hard as iron and loud enough to shout across the length of a battlefield. The noise seemed to die down before it, simultaneously curious and terrified. Every eye turned in its direction, towards the courthouse doorway where two men now stood.

“This was not done to you by terrorists!” Spencer shouted again. Mindful not to make a move down the steps of the courthouse, from speaking up at this height he could hold them captivated much like an actor or orator would do to their audience.

“This was done to you pathetic people by my Destrillians!” he gestured to the roguish figure of Salem to his left who gave a cheery wave to the crowd of petrified onlookers. “And by me!” it was now that the crowd noticed the drawn and bloody sword in Spencer’s hand. The panic and screaming began to set in now and a few of the guards began to fire their guns wildly at them. None of the bullets came close, but their firing encouraged more and more gunfire, causing Salem and Spencer to calmly move behind the pillars at the front of the courthouse building for cover.

“Did you really need to be so melodramatic?" the Destrillian asked with a wide smile on his face as the panicked shouting reached fever pitch as it struggled to contend with the cacophony of gunfire.

Spencer shrugged his shoulders indifferently and put the rifle down off his shoulders. “The survivors of what happens here today will now definitely know who to blame”

“And that’s a good thing I take it?”


“Even these clowns are competent enough to drive them out into the open” Spencer explained, then saw the sideways look that Salem was giving him from behind the other pillar “At the very least they might be able to help us find our friends.”

“And you aren’t worried at all that the humans won’t end up killing one of ‘our friends’, or one of the ones on your list?”
the Destrillian of Gas asked.

“No I’m not, Mr. Locke” Spencer said with such finality as if to suggest that the very notion was something repulsive and impossible. He carefully took the rifle from his shoulder and placed it against the pillar to his back. “Now listen closely, in ten seconds time I’m going to need you to destroy the very centre of that courtyard. Don’t concentrate the blast and make it 90% strength. I should have enough time to get clear.”

“Get clear? You’re going out there?”


“I’m going to be sending a message.” Spencer corrected him. “Leave one survivor”

Spencer leapt out from behind the pillar and instantly tucked into a dive to duck the swathe of bullets that cut through the air above him. Hitting the hard stone floor at the foot of the steps and instantly tucking into a roll to minimise the pain on impact.

Ten.


He leapt forward, the sword swinging out to the right to sever somebody’s head and then back around, using his own momentum to cleave a female lawyer he recognised from the trial in half, all in one fluid motion.

Nine.

The sword swung out again and again, and two more maimed security guards fell to the floor. Spencer caught a muzzle flash out of the corner of his eye, some idiot was trying to shoot at him whilst he was in the middle of a packed crowd. He rolled his shoulder instinctively and felt the bullet streak by him, plucking at the fabric of his bright orange prison uniform. Faster than the guard could squeeze the trigger a second time, the former President of Viola had taken one step forward and extended the heavy sword with one arm outstretched to pierce the security guard’s throat...

Eight.

...and tearing it out again in one large stroke, catching another advancing security guard in the face, dropping him to the floor. He caught a glance of the familiar long black robes worn by the supreme court amongst the teeming mass of people and charged forwards.

Seven.

A series of brutal chops with the sword left the security guards separating him from his targets had left them maimed and screaming on the floor.

Six.

The first one fell before he could even cry out, thick red blood spilling out onto his black robes. One brave security guard tried getting in between Spencer and the next Justice but he was knocked to the floor by one of Spencer’s fists crashing into his face, rewarding him with the sickening wet crunch of his nose shattering.

Five.

Two more Justices fell in less than a second as they tried to escape, but were hindered by the massive throng of fleeing civilians. That just left chief justice Walther. Not much time left.

Four.


Another bullet flew by him, but Spencer paid no attention. His eyes transfixed on the man that had spent the better part of two years trying to damn him into a death sentence.

Three.

Most kills were emotionless, an act of necessity, a means to an end. Spencer rarely felt guilt, or sorrow, or pleasure in taking the life of another. Out of the dozen or so men and women he had slain this afternoon, taking Chief Justice Walther’s life was the only one that managed to penetrate the cold, mechanical act of killing another human. The act of pushing the blade roughly in between his ribs and feeling the resistance on it as it tore through the stomach and punctured the heart left him with the lingering satisfaction that only came with the total destruction of an enemy.

Two.

The air around him was starting to get tighter, his heightened senses, fuelled on pure adrenalin alerted his brain that his lungs were having to work harder to draw oxygen from the air around him. Pumping his fists and breaking into a sprint he ran back towards the steps, following the bloody path he had carved.

One.

It had all happened so quickly, but to an old soldier, fighting like that seemed to take so much longer. Time seemed to slow down, opponents would move much more sluggishly than they would normally and every move you made would be much faster and more precise than you would have been in any normal situation.

The explosion would have killed most of the surviving masses instantly. An enormous fireball that had burst forward from the area of the courtyard where the crowd had been thickest, wiping all traces of their existence out in a single instant. The explosion was so powerful that the marble floor and iconic statue shattered and threw debris and bodies into the sky. Those who had survived the initial blast were killed by the hundreds shards of marble that had been thrown up from the explosion.

Nearly fifty people had been killed in less than ten seconds. Neither Spencer nor Salem even batted an eyelid.

The courtyard had been reduced to a singular black smoking crater, littered him the badly burned and dismembered bodies and the dead and the dying. There weren’t even any of the characteristic moans or screams that Spencer remembered from his days in the army after watching his men shelled by artillery fire. There was just silence.

“Precious few would have survived”
Spencer remarked quietly as he shouldered his carefully discarded rifle.

“Yeah, wasn’t that the point?
” Salem remarked. His voice was strained and out of breath, finally feeling the effects of such a sustained and continuous use of his power.

“Indeed” Spencer said to himself as he wiped the fresh blood from his sword on the orange leg of his pants. “Now we’re leaving. Did you land the VTOL close by?”

“I used the east landing pad yeah, not far.”


“Good. I’d say we have about ten minutes to get off the Acropolis before the entire Artolian military shows up.”

NoenGaruth 05/11/2010 01:16 PM

The walking seemed to go on forever...and ever....and ever. Stolz was getting both tired and bored - there simply wasn't anything of interest to look at, save for the unusual company that was traveling with Stolz, thus they decided to get a good look at these people.

They were already familiar with Popsicle Girl, with her unusually delicious looking hair. She had made a very poor introduction, as usually it was preferred to greet a person with 'hello' and not just stare at them, but Stolz suspected this one was just in dire need of a hug.

Next there was Captain Fabulous and his magical super amour of wonders. Stolz has read news reports about some costumed vigilante going about the city and fighting crime, however they assumed it was just a publicity stunt by IBC, plugging another bad show with viewers that can be counted on one hand.

Then there was Mr. Creepy eyes, he certainly had creepy eyes. Stolz had seen worse things before but those were certainly high on the list. And then, walking near him was the girl who had accepted Stolz's offer of assistance. They didn't know her name but she seemed nice, mostly because she hadn't threatened or made any kind of hostile gesture like most of the others had. Also there was the Glasses girl and the Red head....the Red head. Something didn't seem right to Stolz about that one, it was a peculiar feeling, almost like when THEY were around, but it was impossible for her to have anything to do with THEM..... oh and finally there was the weird creature that was leading them back to it's lair to feast upon them, that thing was cool.

Once again Stolz's trail of thoughts had made them oblivious to their surroundings, and so without realizing it the party had arrived at some place...with a door. Doors usually lead somewhere so Stolz could only deduce from watching a lot of television and seeing two intimidating looking bouncers that this must be a secret nightclub full of vampires. However the individuals that had just been ejected from the establishment did not look like Vampires, but rather the kind of trash you find shooting up in some dark corner of the Orange Zone - do not want.

The men then seemed to be looking the direction of the female members of the group, and one of them then said “Well, looks like we got us some pretty-kitties here to play with, don’t we, Sammy?”

Kitties? I love kitties! But I see no kitty cats around here, and these gentlemen don't exactly look like cat people Stolz thought to them self, looking around for said felines. They then missed some more dialogue before something came to Stolz's attention - blood, all over the place. During the moment of Stolz not paying attention, the two men had been killed horrible by the large creature thing, therefore they would not be able to play with the kitties they had spotted earlier.

“Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.” A bouncer said to the group. Stolz was very confused now however since the others began heading inside then that was obviously where to go.

Inside the club was very....peculiar, even for someone like Stolz. Unusual things were all around the place - The walls seemed at one point to be running with blood, then changing colour, and even images of people flowing into one another in a rhythmic fashion. If it weren't also for the bizarre smells then Stolz would've sworn they were back at home watching IBC4's Friday night after hours programming. However suddenly Stolz had an unusual feeling, a strong sense of anxiety....almost felt like something was coming, but they couldn't tell if this sense was real of an effect of god knows what is going around in the air currently. Their eyes narrowed under the goggles for a moment and scanned the surroundings.

What is this? My senses are all thrown off, I can't tell what's going on, weather there are friends or enemies nearby....and this makes me too vulnerable. I need to find out who or what is behind this place...

Stolz's questions would soon be answered as a bouncer ahead of them opened a strange door and said “Mistress is waiting.” before leaving. Stolz wasn't keen on entering this mysterious room however the others seemed to be so there was no choice. Inside was completely black, but not for long, suddenly a bright light filled the room, although Stolz wasn't that bothered thanks to still having the goggles covering their eyes. There also seemed to be snakes on the floor, causing a few of the others to recoil at the creatures on the ground, however Stolz didn't even pay attention to them, nor the walls covered in naked, dismembered people. Stolz was just staring right at the teenage girl seated at the end of the room with the large cat-like creature at her feet. The over-the-top display and freakishly extravagant thrown made it pretty clear that this being was the one behind everything in this establishment.

“Why are you here?”
Spoke this new girls voice. “They tell me you came from out of the Orange Zone.”

Stolz then immediately, in a serious and completely different tone to their regular voice, called out "You tell us" However Stolz got the answer they were expecting.

“My lair, my rules. You know when you play in someone else’s house, you play their games.” And shortly after those words the girl suddenly shifted into an adult woman. Stolz however did not flinch, just remained still with both eyes fixed on this....person.

“You’re not like the others…” The 'woman' spoke to her gathered audience once again, to which she was replied to by a voice Stolz didn't pay attention to.

“We can’t really say the same thing about you.”

And with a shake of her head and some eye colour trick, the woman added. “You didn’t come here by choice, you’re looking for something… something more human – human – than you…”

That rules you out then Stolz thought, it couldn't be more clear that this person if you could even call them that was not human. Then a few torsos landed on the floor in front of the group, and once again Stolz paid no mind to them - it was essential to keep both eyes on this figure in the chair as only the gods know what she'll do next.

“I can help you with what you need… a sanctuary…” She said before spasming and screwing around with her image once more. What a hilarious notion, there was no play in this city, above or below, that could be considered such a place.

“Somewhere safe, a sanctuaryAAAAAHHHHH-” The woman then looked like she was suffering from epilepsy, which Stolz knew about all too well from when IBC was airing those old foreign action cartoons with all the flashing lights constantly filling the screen. No now was not the time for a tangent, the creepy woman was spazzing out on the floor, but after a moment stopped...then moved again....then turned to ash....now there's a child with a magical dress that has auto-adjust built into it. After shifting between form a little more, this odd woman now stood right in front of the group and spoke to them once again.

“Long story short, I don’t know who you are. But in a moment, I will find out. And maybe some of you will too.” Which followed with a red mist or gas-like substance started to come from the ceiling and envelop Stolz's companions. The woman spoke again but Stolz paid no attention, as it was clear this person was not friendly. It seemed then that this gas was subduing the others, and they all fell onto the group and now Stolz found them self left standing with, of all people, Captain Fabulous.

This is bad, but if this changeling want's trouble, I'll give her trouble And Stolz placed one of their hands on the goggles, ready to remove them. But suddenly they felt a hand grab them but the back of the neck, followed by the prick of a syringe.

Or maybe not........man this person is a terrible host.....I think they....need to...lay off the...in..ject..ionssss.....
And then Stolz slipped out of consciousness.


______________________________________________________________


WESTERN SUBURBS, OSEA



The car pulled up at a tall apartment complex, and Jelanda switched off the engine. She then turned to Major Matsuya and said. "Well here we are Ma'am, I'll leave you here then."

Kijo was about to step out of the car, but noticed Jelanda seemed rather tired herself, and after thinking for a moment, asked. "Where do you live Lieutenant?" a surprising question to the young girl, who then replied "Eastern side of central Ma'am."

The next words were very hard for Kijo to voice, however the more she looked at Jelanda, the more she could see the girl was exhausted, probably been without sleep as long as herself, and remembering what Farant had told her many times, she said.

"It is almost 2 in the morning and East Central is nearly half an hour away from here, I could not just let you just head off in the condition you are in."

These sudden words had Jelanda even more puzzled, the Major was the type who would usually just be all 'Understood, goodbye.' But now it seemed like she was forcing herself to be friendly. All Jelanda could muster up in response was "Ma'am?"

"You may stay here if you like, I have a spare room. It would be no trouble at all." The words seemed stale and forced, however it was clear she was trying to make an effort, and so Jelanda gave a weak smile and replied. "Thank you, Ma'am".

"We're not on duty anymore, so Kijo will suffice Lieutenant." She quickly added, to which Jelanda just as quickly said. "Please, call me Jelanda, it is my name after all."

Kijo gave her a nod then they both stepped out of the car and walked towards the main entrance to the apartments. Jelanda then let out a small laugh and said. "You know, this was the last thing I expected from you, Kijo." Which was met with a quick glance from the other woman followed by the words. "Indeed. However I must ask you do not tell Marshall of this, he will start to think I have gone soft and then I shall never hear the end of it." Jelanda giggled at the words, which made Kijo show a small smile. She hadn't seen such joyful innocence for many, many years, and although she wouldn't outright say so, it was nice to reminded once again.

__________________________________________________________________________


ORANGE ZONE UNDERGROUND, OSEA


That was no fun at all, now I really wish there were Vampires.

Vampires would still have been bad, wouldn't they have tried to drink your blood?


Who? What? Is there someone else here?


I would certainly hope so, otherwise it means you're talking to yourself.


That wouldn't be the first time I assure you, sometimes I've engaged in conversations with inanimate objects.


How riveting those must have been.


Never mind that! Who are you Missy?
The voice communicating with Stolz was distinctly female despite a weird echo effect.


"I'm....I'm....uh....I'm not sure."

Well pleased to meetcha Not Sure, I'm Stolz!


Hey that's not what I meant! I mean I have no idea who I am!


Ohhhhh right right, sorry. I assumed you just had some weird parents that decided to pull a bad joke when you were born which would eventually cause you to change your name to 'Francesca Von Heidelberg', invest millions in a floating mansion held up by zeppelins, then die a horrible death when someone lit a match which caused the gases in the zeppelins to ignite and blow you all to kingdom come.


You really assumed THAT?


Yup


I see, well back onto topic, I can't tell you my name or anything about me as I simply don't know.

But you have to have a name! It's important to like, be found when you're shopping and your car suddenly gets towed.


Uh-huh, so then what should I be called?


Hrmm....how about Virtue?'


Virtue?


Yeah, it's also the name of a robot on a TV show I watch a lot, I think it would be good for you also!


You certainly have a peculiar way of coming up with names, but okay. From now on you can call me Virtue!


Hooray! Now we just need you to give birth to a child and name it Nadleeh!


...should I even ask?


Probably not.


So then, Stolz, what happens now?


Well....methinks we should focus on why I am in this unknown space deedly talking to you....which was...ummm...OH THAT'S RIGHT! Creepy shape-shifter gassed people and Injected me with something!


WHAT?! That's really bad! What if she intends to cause you harm?


Or bang my holes for that matter...


Again, should I ask?


Maybe?....on reflection I'm pretty sure at some point I heard someone outside the place I was in say something like that tho I'm not entirely sure what it means.


Right, well it seems you could be in potential danger, so please wake up!


Okay! ...just how do I do that?

Let's see... how about you try counting sheep? If it puts you to sleep while you're awake, maybe it will have the opposite effect while you're out?


Hrmm, I like you're thinking. Okay then, One sheep....Two Sheep...Three Sheep....


Meanwhile, back in reality....


“Oh, and hey – aren’t you gonna hook that kid up to some of that wacko-jacko shit?” Nova flicked his head in Stolz’s direction, who lay unconscious on a mattress in the corner of the room.

“We have other plans.”

Nova rolled his eyes. “Yeah, y’all need to do your thang with him, move yo master plan and all into fruition or someshit. I get it.” He cricked his neck as he turned to face the shadows at the back of the room, raising his eyebrows in curiosity. “But just how important is that kid to youse guys anyway?”

"Oh, let's just say they're VERY important to us..." Said Inveja and she emerged from the shadows, still with her Visor concealing her eyes. The second figure, Vollerei, shortly followed, revealing his appearance. He had an unusual shade of green hair, and wore a sort of military outfit - button up top and matching pants, a harness-like belt with many pouches around his waist, and also sported black combat boots and short black gloves. Additionally he had a large gun of unknown function slung over his back and a combat knife strapped to his right leg.

"This is just too great! All of them, right here in a convenient location. And the best part is we can see into their nightmares! Ah could this day get any better?" He asked to Inveja next to him.

"Actually yes it can - Vana isn't here." She said with a grin.

"Touche. So then shall we go wake our little friend over there?" Gesturing towards Stolz.

"Why yes, I think it's time that we had a little talk." And she began to walk towards the small figure lying on the mattress.

The pair loomed over the little one and just stared for a moment, waiting. The next part they didn't expect. Stolz suddenly jolted out of the forced slumber and shouted "10 SHEEP!" However the spontaneous action didn't phase them the slightest, and Inveja keeled down to look Stolz directly in the eyes.

"Hello Stolz, we've missed you." She said with a grin.

"You? ....you. What do you want?" Stolz replied, once again in their different, serious tone.

"Oh come now, is that any way to treat your old friends?"
, Vollerei chuckled as Inveja spoke those words.

"You are not my friends." Stolz bluntly replied. That made the pair exchange glances, then look back at Stolz with their grinning faces.

"Woa now, temper temper short fry. Better be careful what you say, otherwise we might just get mad...and you know what happens if we do." Vollerei added, then raised both his hands in claw like gestures.

"Yes....I do. Then get to the point, what do you want?"
Stolz said in a blunt and agitated manner.

Inveja placed her hand on the side of Stolz's face and turned their head to face hers "Well you see, we've been dying to meet your new friends, I hear.....great things about them and just had to see for myself." She said, then gently slid her hand off Stolz's cheek. The pair then turned to face the cluster of pods that contained the unconscious Destrillians. Inveja stood up and walked towards the pods, and, without any regard to Jettison and Nova's presence, spoke out loud.

"You see my dear Stolz, these....things, these worthless creatures, are nothing more than old weaponry that have been rusting away in the dark corners of this city. And even weaponry is too kind of a word to use, for they weren't even completed, just unfinished science projects of a fallen company that the world no longer cares about."

Stolz then slowly stood up and began walking towards the pods also.

"Well you know what? I have no idea what you're saying."

"Ha! No you wouldn't, you don't know anything, not about us, not about them..." Inveja said as she pointed at the unconscious Destrillains. "...not about anything. You live out your life wandering the city with a carefree smile on your face, completely oblivious to everything going on around you. I think you should stop this charade and just accept your fate, after all, it won't hurt a bit." She finished by tilting her head forward and grinning heavily at Stolz.

"Veya you talk too much." Vollerei interrupted. "It's about time we got a good look at these 'Destrillains'...." He then leaned over to the nearest pod and observed the person inside, to which he let out a whistle.

"Hoo boy! Look at the rack on that one, never though something like that could come out of a Viola facility." He ogled at the unconscious form of a Red Haired girl with freckles. Inveja stepped over to stand next to him and placed her hand up to the Visor.

"Emma Johnson, Destrillian Prototype number eight. You gonna offer to buy her a drink Voller?" She snarked at him.

"Heh, if only, but you know the boss's orders..."

Inveja nodded then began to walk by the other pods. "Thetis Alcesteos, Kerr Nordstrom, Terra Michaels....hmmm interesting, this next one's from facility #2, Kramskov Niet. It's amazing the sort of trash that shows up in Osea....hold on now we're talking." Inveja stopped right in front of the last pod. She then smirked and looked over to Vollerei.

"Look what I just found Voller, it's number nine." The words made Vollerei smirk and quickly walk over to see it for himself.

"Idris Savage, one of the most dangerous beings that escaped Viola. This IS a great day!" Vollerei called out in joy. Inveja then leaned forward and added "Oh that it is...." and began to remove her gloved. Stolz's eyes widened greatly at the action from Inveja and yelled out.

"Hey! What are you doing!?" Which caused the dark-cherry haired woman to slowly turn her head towards Stolz and reply "What does it look like? This is just too tempting to let pass after all." And with that a black, liquid looking substance began to form around her right hand which emitted a hissing sort of sound. Inveja then began to move her hand closer and closer towards Idris' pod, during which there was some form of objection from Jettison however Inveja just discarded it by raising her other hand in the woman's direction as to say 'you wanna be next?'. However, then as her hand was just about to make contact, a smaller hand grabbed her arm.

Stolz held onto Inveja's arm tight and would not let go, the look on the woman was that of both puzzlement and extreme anger.

"And what do you think you're doing, runt?"
She asked in an unamused tone.

Stolz glared at her and boldly stated "I won't let you do it. Not while I'm here." This sudden outburst of defiance from Stolz made Inveja's eyes widen under her visor for a moment, then she smiled in an eerie manner and the dark substance around her hand vanished.

"Fine have it your way...." She said, then leaned over Stolz's left ear and whispered. "...but remember.....you won't always be around. I'm not exactly sure what you're game is, but what you try to protect will inevitably be lost, and you will know despair."

Their little heart-to-heart was then suddenly interrupted by large crashing sounds and the smell of smoke coming from somewhere in the club. Inveja quickly faced the direction and placed her hand on her Visor.

"Fire detected within the building....and I'm picking up the energy signature of another one....no two, nearby." The pair then turned to Jettison and Vollerei scoffed. "Well now....looks like you missed a couple, but don't worry....we'll have this mess cleaned up in no time." followed by a thumbs up, and with that, the pair glared at Stolz then darted out the door towards the location of their new prey.

Stolz turned back to the pod and looked in at the girl that was apparently named 'Idris' for a moment, who seemed so peaceful in her artificial slumber. Stolz gradually turned their head to face the creepy woman and, nearly in tears, said in their regular tone "They....him and her....they are bad people..... and will just come right back when they're done... probably with even worse intentions.... so please.... just let them out..." They then placed their head onto the pod and hit it with their fist once.

"...just let them out."


Meanwhile, in the other part of the Club


Inveja and Vollerei entered to main section of the club only to find part of it on fire. The patrons were scurrying towards the exits in a panic so it was difficult to spot the targets, however the next thing they heard made it very clear there was at least one very close.

“ALL OF YOU WILL SUFFER! YOU’RE ALL TO BLAME! EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU GOD! DAMN!! HUMANS!!!”

The shouting came from an insane looking girl with fiery coloured hair, the perfect camouflage when half the room was on fire. Then it seemed the second target appeared, a male, who grabbed the girl's arm in what looked like a gesture for them to leave. Vollerei then said to his comrade "And what are the names of our two lucky contestants tonight Veya?" To which she once again raised her hand to the Visor and replied

"Fiona Myrwind and Lokka Kayne, one is the fire bitch from facility one and the second is yet another fine example of the crap they were spewing out of facility two....barriers or some shit like that."

Vollerei unslung his weapon then smiled. "Alright we know who we've got then. I'm gonna take Mr. Barrier and you can have the flaming fucker next to him." Inveja also smiled and withdrew her Katana from it's sheath.

"Sounds good to me, however first I think the polite thing to do is say hi." And then they took a few steps forward and she called out:

"Good evening Blazing Fury and Pale Shell! You've certainly made a mess here, and we thought we'd show a kind gesture to the owner of this establishment and clean it up for them...."

After which Vollerei raised him gun up to point at the pair of Destrillians and added "So what coat of polish would you two like.... regular or heavy duty?" followed by a sinister smirk.

Despite certain orders they were simply itching to kill Destrillians tonight and right now that's exactly what they intended to do.


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