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Found 14 results

  1. The accommodations were mostly clean and practical, as Hana might have expected of her military companion. It was in a nondescript district of Palgard, close enough to the center, but far enough to be free of distractions. The working desk, however, was strewn with papers. “These are pages I’ve printed from our databases,” Delistair said. “Information about the Abysswalkers, and more interestingly, about the tower.” He pulled up a thin stack with pictures and data that would not be too difficult to obtain - information such as general dimensions, specifications, and other sorts of data required by the government. Del flipped to the next page, with a list of names and companies. “The tower is supposed to be owned by a private enterprise, a company that supplies parts for offensive and defensive systems. We are also among its clientele.” “Naturally, we should have information about those we work with, right? Especially its leader? But surprisingly, there is very little information about its Direktor. No photos, no descriptions, nothing. That seems strange to me.” Without waiting for a reply to his rhetorical question, he reached for another piece of paper. “And this,” he took a breath, then passed it to Hana. “It was an encrypted message, but I managed to decipher it. It’s an invoice for government-controlled materials. The address - it’s sent from the tower. They’re selling illegal materials. The place it’s addressed to..” He looked at Hana, his expression unreadable. “That’s the village I was raised in. It doesn’t exist anymore.” @spacegy4
  2. Heroes and Villains Episode 1 A City Abandoned [Jake "Skylord" Evans begins to talk] For years the city of Palgard has been plagued by anarchy. What is left of its government and city officials are corrupt, their every move determined by the wills and desires of the factions which rule the city. During the day it is almost as if Palgard is a normal city. Men and women go to work. Children go to school. People buy and sell, talk and laugh, love and hate. When the sun is out those behind the scenes stay right where they are- in the darkness of Palgard. Generally the string pullers are the wealthy and the powerful, oligarchs who watch the ongoings of Palgard with ominous gazes. The law enforcement departments are defunct, arresting the bare minimum to maintain some appearance of functionality. Right and true officers are hard to find; usually fired before they can climb so much as a single rank for not "falling in line." If a politician is not someone behind the scenes, they are on that person's payroll. Like a mafia, crime organizations aren't separate from the city government. In fact, the city government is all but controlled by the crime organizations. Some areas are better than others as the ruler of the territory is more kind. Two years ago, however, the Terrenus government built Martial Town. A sort of haven and alternative city for those in Palgard, a way to escape the horror that rules them and their loved ones. Many fled Palgard for the seeming Oasis, yet, many stayed. Palgard is their homes and they refused to leave. Some even convinced themselves that Palgard wasn't all that bad. Or that Martial Town wouldn't be all that better. As Martial Town grew, Palgard became more and more chaotic. Especially when the three leading factions ceased their activity. The Terrenus Peacekeeper Renata Saratxaga and her military soldiers left Palgard soon after Martial Town started to grow. The Bandit King Sanu Toak and Captain of Industry Hana Alenko have both vanished, disappeared into whatever dark place they crawled to. Perhaps they even left Palgard. With the sudden vacuum of power swallowing and drowning Palgard, many factions reared their heads in attempt to grab control of the failing city. And that's when things in Palgard took an odd turn. Heroes and Villains started to appear. And not in terms of "good person" and "bad person." At first these people were dubbed "Masks" regardless of whether they were a hero or villain. The term slowly separated into Heroes and Villains, some more popular or successful than others, though the general slang for Heroes and Villains is still Masks. Some may thrive in Palgard's dysfunction. Some may strive to fix it. Others just fighting to survive and save their loved ones. Others for revenge. This is the story of those Heroes and Villains. [Jake "Skylord" Evans stops to talking] [Episode begins early in the afternoon February 5th] Cast: @Ataraxy as Jake "Skylord" Evans | Hero & Naomi "Wraith" Collins | Anti-Hero @danzilla3 as Apex | Other @Tyler as Cory "Poltergeist" Karsk | Villain @SteamWarden as Chloe "Night Dragon" Benoit | Anti-Hero @Die Shize as Kolvern "Red Hands" Rikalsky | Villain @vielle as Diana "Beast" D'Angelo | Anti-Hero @Thotification as The Godmother | Other @Sanonymous as Steve "???" King | Hero @Unicorgi as Jonathan "Shadeglass" Smith | Hero @Wade as Calvin "Blueblood" Church | Villain @SweetCyanide as Cicero "???" Chardonnay | ???
  3. It had been a while since the teenager had settled in. Her sights were not only set on conquest of the remains of Palgard, but on other things far greater. On her spare time the engineer turned over rumors, manuscripts and other information from various sources. It was mostly technical information and reports on prospective enemy forces and the success or failure of a given operation, but other mysterious goodies were peppered throughout. Most of this allegedly extraneous information was simply passed over, but there was one item that gave a chill to her nerves. There was a log of a ship that came into the industry controlled port, but a physical description of the individual who allegedly departed the craft was missing. Taking up a techno-magical tablet she browsed through the surveillance footage to the given log time. No person was seen departing the ship for the entirety of its visit. Was there an intrusion into the surveillance network or what other trickery could potentially be at play? Sanu knew a few things about sailing craft and potential mysteries they could bring, but so unfortunately he was on an extended vacation. This anomaly would need to be investigated, but another just as important event would occur first. What could that possibly be? A lunch meeting of course! The Direktor had eyes and ears all over the city. The surveillance which not limited to the industrial district found an individual of interest. A particular blue haired mercenary whom she'd briefly met before. Curiosity bade discovering what the individual was up to. Caerula would receive an invitation to meet with the General'ny Direktor in a private upper floor of the Zephyrus tower. Should Cae accept and approach the tower at the appointed time she would be met with an armored and armed escort consisting of firearm equipped soldiers. Soon taken off the path of the regularly traveled lower levels a lift would take her up and up and up. Once they departed the lift the lead soldier would direct Cae to a door which slid open upon approach. Hana could be seen sitting at a table with two settings of food and an empty chair across from her. "Welcome back. Things have changed a bit since we last met."
  4. Something was brewing in bandit controlled territory. The self proclaimed Bandit King had gone silent, with the apparent cause a mystery. Had he simply opted to walk off or had another individual forcefully usurped the throne? The only sure way to find out as dangerous as it would be was to travel there. The stronghold of leader was deep in anarchist dominated territory where the military lacked permanent and precise surveillance, and an act as simple as travelling there held tremendous risk. Opting to take action on limited intelligence the Lieutenant opted to foray into bandit controlled territory after taking a brief shortcut through an industrialist area. Hana carefully traveled while wearing little to no association with the Terrenus military nor was she exceedingly well armed to avoid attracting unneeded attention. Significant progress was made as the teenager would soon be reaching the heart. The farther she traveled it seemed the anarchists and bandits appeared more and more nervous and restless. Was another outside power waging a campaign against them? Approaching a stopping point in an alley the girl leaned against a wall to rest before being interrupted by the sound of nearby footsteps. A duo of unsavory fellows pulled out of the shadows behind to confront the seemingly unarmed teenager. One sported a club crudely fashioned from a destroyed structural bar, and the other a seemingly poorly maintained hand gun. As Hana turned and walked the opposite way she quickly found that a third individual blocked that path. "If you're looking for valuables I'll be sorry to break it to you that I don't have any. All I have is some rations. You want it then go for it." With that she'd toss her pack to the opposite wall while hoping the action created enough diversion to consider how she'd get through this without drawing too much attention to herself.
  5. When TITAN fell, it left a hole in need of filling, not only in Palgard, but in all of Terrenus. Vespera couldn’t be everywhere at once, and Palgard was her home, so it was in Palgard that her new calling presented itself. The hand that loaded the gun and the finger that pulled the trigger, they belonged to her, but not in quite the same sense as her time in TITAN. Then, she was a spy, an assassin, and a thief, on the prowl in her homeland for those that would do it harm. Now, there was no connection to something larger, no central intelligence to guide her. Martin Strauss, Director of TITAN, was gone — so long, you old bastard — and he was the nucleus, the foundation on which the organization was built. No Strauss, no TITAN, no orders; so where did that leave her? “The report, Ves.” Vespera looked up to find a man — John Bishop, Dougton, no rank; nobody held rank anymore — sliding a manilla folder forward across her desk, toward her. He dismissed himself. Like the lack of rank, there was a lack of decorum, with nobody technically subordinate to anyone else. Instead their group was a loose confederation of like minded individuals, former agents, military operatives, gumshoes, and even a few ex-gangers. All working together to help the people of Palgard, providing supplies, protection, and information, whatever was needed, whenever it was needed. A cooperative that she was nominally in charge of. They answered to her, as much as anyone answered to anyone else. A precarious position for her to be in when surrounded by blacker-than-black types that could kill you and dispose of your body with minimal effort. In Palgard, that would be just dumping her out in the street for the unusually large packs of rats. She sat behind a large desk, one of the few they found to be serviceable, in what had been an abandoned office building. It was their base of operations now, controlling the back way into Martial Town — through the tunnels, alleyways, and back roads — against trespassers. Their primary concern today being the large gangs based out of the northern section of the city, much reduced today, partly thanks to the efforts of her people, than when the city first fell. Shuffling through the papers the folder contained, Vespera selected one in particular for close examination; it was a high resolution map of the city, newly printed from the offices of Renata Saratxaga, and, circled in red, an outpost on the edge of anarchist territory. Dark blips along the roads and the fortified buildings suggested people, but Vespera ignored them to focus instead on the defenses. She smoothed a blond lock from over her right eye, tucking it behind an ear. Sub-dermal veins of green and black light spread from the golden artifice, its color at odds with its natural blue neighbor, as the map was submitted to active recall. The next paper Vespera pulled from the stack was a list of names, her people’s names, included for their skill in sabotage and assassination, and their determination to get the job done. “Gedeon, Fenna, Kolos, and Anton,” she said the names out loud to commit them to memory, tapping the finger of her free hand on the desk, the nail clicking, the sensation of touch and sound a mnemonic technique. She could have committed them, like the map, to her active recall, but that was a temporary thing, not a fitting memorial. “Two groups of two, or one group of three with a solo infiltrator?” She pulled up her mental image of the map, double checking egress and fortifications, and recalled the underlying maze of sewer and rail systems beneath the city, factoring in ease of access and exposure, but decided it was getting here nowhere. Both options held certain drawbacks, just as both had benefits. She stood and gathered up the loose files, stuffing them back into their folder before dropping it with a smack onto the desk. “Fenna takes the sewers,” she announced loud enough fro the room to hear, now, with her concentration broken, distinctly aware of the noise her fellow conspirators generated. Several dozen people stopped what they were doing to focus on her. “Get Gedeon, Kolos, and Anton through the passage on Sundown Lane. They’ll sabotage the stockpile. Tell Fenna we don’t need Helmut alive.” No rank, no decorum, but there was a mission. Without it, they had nothing. Vespera thought, maybe the PeaceKeeper had her own way of doing things, and maybe she wouldn’t approve, but they — Juno — had their way. It was the only way they knew. “How’d you do it, Strauss?” Vespera asked to no one in particular. “This bites.” She spun lazily around in her chair, kicking at the floor to complete the turn, a glass of dark wine, the color of blood, in one hand, and a faded photo of herself in the other. The office had cleared out for the night. Which was good, since this was where she slept most days. She brought the photo up and inspected it, remembering how young she was then, and how little time had passed despite how old she now felt. It was little wonder that the Strauss that haunted her memory was such a grouchy old bastard.
  6. THE ABYSSWALKERS: TERRENUS BRANCH HQ - More information will be added in the future -
  7. Thunder rolled overhead as the rain fell around them, so loud that it masked their movement through the city. Spotlights lit the mouth of every alley, narrowly missing them as they shot through one and into another, throwing themselves around a corner to exit behind a squat building with broken windows, its interior silhouetted as a light passed over its front, revealing clothing racks and mannequin displays. “Fuck me, but that was fun, eh, Fenna?” Gedeon grinned, showing teeth filed to points, the expression only falling away when Fenna, herself a stunning combination of looks and confidence, directed a glare full of murderous intent at him. Between the two of them, Kolos would put his money on her. Gedeon might be two times her size, more metal than man these days, with two prosthetic arms, both possessing an array of hidden hardware, but Fenna could melt steel with her mind. Out of the three of them, Fenna scared Kolos the most. One day Gedeon would push his luck too far and Fenna would kill them both to prove a point. “Leave her be, Gedeon. For fuck’s sake, we just lost Anton.” “You don’t know that!” Fenna growled, causing Kolos to bite back his own response. She continued, “He killed Helmut. He could still have escaped. Anton was the best of all of us.” “Helmut killed himself and Anton’s dead as shit — blown to smithereens — along with whatever Helmut wanted to hide.” “Thanks Gedeon,” Kolos said. Gedeon gave him a thumb’s up in response. The sounds of pursuit died off as levitating platforms, armored transports, and men on foot trudged through the city, until they faded away entirely. Everyone released sighs of relief, deflating as the tension left them. “Too damn close.” Gedeon shrugged the water from his face, for what little good it did. He was soaked through; they were all soaked through. Kolos wondered if Gedeon’s prosthetics would rust or not. He received them from a company in Last Chance, not known for their quality, just their low prices. “You calling?” Kolos nodded, turning away from the group to talk into dark slab of metal that represented his lifeline to Juno HQ. He explained the situation, hurrying to ensure nothing of importance was lost, always worried that their pursuers would some back. Not until they reached Juno would they be able to relax. Vigilance, until then. When his connection to Juno was terminated, he put the device away and looked down at the trash strewn streets, where a man lay prone, his arms and legs tied together. He did not move. “What about him?” Kolos asked. “Interrogate here, or home?” “Kill him.” Fenna said. “Take him with us; Ves’ll have our balls if we don’t.” “Kill him,” Fenna emphasized. “Later, Fenna. I don’t like the idea of going the rest of the way with deadweight—” “Like you’re the one carrying him,” said Gedeon “—but Gedeon’s right, and you know it, Fenna. Ves will want to have a word with him herself. The guy’s supposed to be dead.” “He will be soon enough,” Fenna muttered. Gedeon gathered the man back up, throwing him over his shoulder roughly, unburden by the additional weight. Benefits of Orchish ancestry, Kolos figured. Better Gedeon carrying their old lieutenant than Fenna or Kolos himself. Having said what he did out of necessity, he still didn’t trust himself not to open the bastard’s neck. It was better than the traitor deserved. Kolos looked away from the group. The walls of the alley glowed softly with luminescent paints, showing outlines of bulbous letters, obscene drawings, and gang tags. More importantly, under it all, the markers that lead the way to one of Juno’s safe houses. From there, they could get anywhere in the city. “Let’s go.”
  8. @supernal@Mag [MT1:1] Paroxysm vs Fennis Ursai // command [CISHCHAT] // 26548AO 0RAT ::The lower dimensional manifold in the casino is being used for waste disposal. The owner is feeding people into it. Sometimes they’re still alive. // command [CISHCHAT] // 84511KD 0PIL ::Fire is currently ascendant in Palgard. Related? // command [CISHCHAT] // 26548AO 0RAT ::It’s possible, I guess. Sequential feedback resonance indicated pyretic particulates that gel when introduced to water. Sounds like a recipe for fire. // command [CISHCHAT] // 84511KD 0PIL ::Oh. Want to investigate? // command [CISHCHAT] // 26548AO 0RAT ::can’t lol. I’m in a fight rn. Tbh, I think he likes me. He keeps flirting. Hold on. // command [CISHCHAT] // 23583LL 0FCL ::hey guys anyone in great pine barrens rn? lol, let got gnawed off by a teletype
  9. No matter where he treads, the reactions are all the same. A lone being that identifies as human in form approaches several others with a aura seeping through his body. To everyone he encounters or attempts to approach, he is a large red flag this afternoon. No rage emits from each turn down, no emotional spectrum is highlighted, it's simply comfort over opinion. He isn't lost, for he has no home. He isn't starving, for he has no appetite. He is craving the words of someone brave enough...to point him to the nearest bar. "Assassin" A man mutters and scurries away. "Heretic" another says retreating. "Civilian" the authorities called him. There is a simple exchange of words between the masked man and the guards of justice, then after a finger point towards the north, they part ways. An hour of travel and the masked man is at it again, searching for another guide, he asks questions about directions to several landscapes, makes his way there, and continues on. No GPS, just plain old fashioned touring. "This is where out of work masters go?" He says to a random woman passing him by at a monument. The strangers keep themselves complacent. "Isolation" is the nickname his inner demon has given him. All of his hard work has led him to being dismissed from school, out of a job, and now on the road seeking a new course. His latest breakthrough has yet to undergo tests. He is very eager to demonstrate his power...but to what cause? A white wooden bench in the middle of the town. A nice place for him to unclip his "Dark Knight Awakens" book from the back of his belt and start his first chapter this sunny afternoon.
  10. The home of Guin, a young adventurer living in Martial Town slums. A small middle floor studio apartment Guin has managed to repair or otherwise clean the run down apartment into a livable environment. Few in amenities it has a tub, an old mana impulse stove, a ice enchanted fridge and an old twin sized bed. For the occasional company she keeps a small table with three chairs in the center of the room. It is not heated, and while it has electricity it is far from reliable and frequently goes out. Guin enjoys being home, and can often be found winding down after an odd job or adventure. All in all it a simple home on the outskirts of Martial Town, a deeply dangerous area that rarely has visitors. Guin does not own this apartment, and instead rents it from a faceless multinational housing corporation - any defaulting on the rent means she is quickly evicted, for Martial Town has limited tenant protection laws. [OOC - This is a hub thread for my character Guin where I will roleplay her in between quests/jobs/adventures, it is open to visitors - if you'd like to interact with Guin at her home throw a knock on her door!]
  11. A bowl of lukewarm noodles was sat in front of Pilot, for which he nodded his thanks. Although he did not posses the olfactory system necessary to properly appreciate the fare, Pilot still found that their presence satisfied an emotional component essential to his affectations. It was a personal, self-satisfying pretense, but Pilot maintained his fantasy, his enjoyment, of life. He reached out a hand to the bowl, causing the metal digit to clink softly against the ceramic as the two touched; Pilot moved the bowl by a fraction of an inch, and then nudged it again after a moment of silent appraisal. Sharpmate ignored him, as did the three other customers in the restaurant. Pilot ignored them too. It was a quarter before nine and the sun had already set in Palgard. Outside crickets chirped alongside the distant noises of city life, dogs barking, people shouting, and a scream or two just within audible range. These sounds Pilot had come to associate with the city, as the sound of Palgard's beating pulse, not a thundering crescendo, but a low, quiet murmur as the city struggled in its recovery. For all its metal and cement, the city was as alive as the people inhabiting it, Pilot knew. It was as alive as he was. His adventures this evening would lead him into that dormant city. Him, and several others. The first of whom should be arriving within the next minute. Pilot ceased his attempt at finding the best possible position for the bowl, and turned his thoughts instead to his recently assembled team, to Finn Cavalcante, Babette Marx, and the twins Candie & Sunny Scarborough. The former, having been sponsored by Pilot in the past, was whom he was most familiar with. Finn Cavalcante had not only proven himself useful, but integral to the successful completion of a mission in Yh'mi some time ago; it had cemented Mr. Cavalcante's position as an associate of the Handymen. The other three he was not familiar with, but they had been contracted through the regular channels; they possessed interesting aspects each, and the necessary skills for the job; Pilot was excited to observe how they performed tonight. Taken with the idea of adding to the CISH repository a handful of capable freelancers. But those thoughts would have to wait. In the mean time, the dullahan stared at his noodles with intense concentration, and then slowly slid the bowl to the customer directly beside him, displacing the man's drink as he did so, and, having received no response, the two continued to ignore one another. The entire team would need to assemble before Pilot could give his briefing, and afterward he would deposit them on location, less than a city block away from their objective.
  12. @sheep @supernal @Paroxysm Only fourteen seconds separated Lysander Angelis from four-o-clock in the afternoon. The seconds ticked away on his wristwatch, tapping the skin beneath like a mechanical heartbeat. Nine, eight. Soft brown eyes scanned the crowd with an intensity that belied their warmth, constantly gathering data for a mind that never stopped calculating. Approximately forty percent of the masses were female, with thirty-five percent of this sub-category toting children. The remaining sixty percent were male, with the majority wearing clothes stained with grease and blood and dirt. Only five percent of the crowd wore military attire, and they were moving quickly, almost distractedly, though not without purpose. Lysander squinted, his eyes unfocusing slightly to filter the mob for the telltale light blue of a soldier's uniform; his estimate decreased from five percent to four as a few blue shapes shifted from view. The seconds continued to pass: three. Two. One. “Today, ladies and gentlemen, you will see a magic trick unlike any other.” A tall man stood in front of the Odin Haze monument deep within Martial town, a careful distance from the ring of excrement that encircled the statue. His long, silvery hair was loose and curled around his shoulders in a decidedly tasteful fashion, and he wore work clothes similar to every other man and woman who bustled through the square. In his eyes, however, shone a fire that promised much more than a magic trick. “Today, you will see Odin Haze bow his head to you, the people.” At that, a few passersby stopped and stared, not really believing in the gentleman’s words, but willing to waste a few minutes if watching the statue of Odin Haze eat shit was even a remote possibility. Lysander cleared his throat, and continued. “But first- many of you may know me as Lysander Angelis,” he shouted, though the only people in this Gaia-forsaken city who knew his name were probably in their homes and enjoying their smuggled contraband. “I have come to call my brothers and sisters to arms against the injustice in Palgard.” A few more people stepped up, curious as to how a man dared speak on injustice in the center of Martial Town. It was a risk, sure. Lysander knew there was a statistically relevant chance that he’d end up leaving the square in chains. But he had done extensive planning before his speech, analyzing the rounds of guards, measuring his own volume, checking escape routes, doing a few mathematical calculations- and he concluded that, provided he adhered to his own plan, there was a very high chance of success. He had the impartial goddesses of Science and Logic on his side. One crucial element to his endeavor was the spell currently running on the statue’s neck. He had paid a child to scamper up the side of the statue in the middle of the night, and slather a magical ‘adhesive’ in a ring around the smooth marble of Haze’s neck. The substance was of Lysander’s own creation, and allowed him to cast spells on the statue in a very specific location he would ordinarily have trouble reaching. Earlier this morning, he had cast a burning spell imperceptible to the casual observer, a thin ring of fire circling Haze’s neck like a noose. Even now, it burned. “No education system. Unsafe labor conditions. A crumbling infrastructure. The government has created an incubator in which criminals are born and raised to maturity, and fail to lift a finger as these criminals continue to tear Palgard apart. To add insult to injury, they would have us rebuild our city- at a profit.” The last word came out in a hiss, sending shivers down the man’s spine. He could see that his words were having an impact on the crowd, which emboldened him to continue. “We must come to a practical realization: we cannot entrust the management of our lives to lords, priests, politicians, and generals- least of all our saint king, Odin Haze.” Between 24 and 35 head nods followed this statement, well past the threshold of initiation. Pleased, Lysander took a deep, measured breath, and continued. “We must take democracy seriously. We must refuse to exist in the shadow of a king who claims to have seen the light.” Slowly, imperceptively, one of Lysander’s hands slipped into one of his trouser pockets, and his fingers closed around a thin glass tube. In a carefully crafted, poignant pause, he rolled the vial between his index and middle finger and thumb, the glass remarkably cool to the touch. Similarly cool brown eyes scanned the crowd, not so much collecting data as drinking in the attention at this point; although he was a man without emotion, the visionary did possess a primal thirst for recognition- even power. He considered himself to be the optimal leader: unbiased by feelings, emotion, and empathy, he could make entirely objective decisions based on data and logic. It was not ill-intent, therefore, that had driven him to take action. Lysander lifted a hand into the air, pinching his thumb and forefingers together almost delicately. “His pretty empire has taken so long to build, but now, with a snap of history’s fingers, down it goes.” One hand snapped in coordination with his speech. The other, still nestled in his trouser pocket … Squeezing his thumb and forefingers together caused the thin spell vial to snap, a cool, twisting air slipping through his fingers as the magic was released. In an instant the blistering heat lining Odin Haze’s neck was be replaced by a burning cold, and an ear-splitting CRACK rang across the square. The crowd fell completely silent, eyes wide and searching for the source of the jarring noise. A sharp gasp permeated the silence, a hand snapping out to point at the grand marble state towering above. “The head! It’s-“ A grating crack drowned out the last of the man’s words as the head of Odin Haze tottered forward, tearing itself from the body in a strangely macabre fashion. It fell through the air for what seemed like an eternity, though Lysander had already gone through the calculations and knew that only 2.47 seconds had passed before the head of Odin Haze slammed into the ground with a massive BANG. Silence. Then one scream. Then many. “You cannot buy the revolution,” he cried over the raucous crowd, a wolf standing tall and still among a swarm of sheep. “You cannot make the revolution.” There were uniforms in the mix now, light blue patches of cloth fighting their way through hordes and hordes of browns, greys, blacks. The panic was impossible to permeate. “You can only be the revolution.” It wasn’t long now; already Lysander heard the brusque shouting of the guardsmen through the screams of the people. His voice carried over them all. “It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” His speech resolved, the anarchist jumped over the wall of excrement to stand next to the hunk of marble that had once been Odin Haze’s head. A hand came to rest on the marble, still cool to the touch, while the other rummaged in a pocket for something small- ah, yes, here it was. Lysander tossed the small object, which was nothing more than a pebble, into the air, muttering a few words under his breath. Energy flowed out of his body as the mass associated with Odin Haze’s head transferred itself to the pebble. In an instant, the pebble had grown into a massive rock, and crashed to the ground with another marvelous BANG. By contrast, the statue’s head rested in the center of Lysander’s palm, small, light, and no more interesting than the dismembered head joint of a child’s doll. He slipped it into his pocket. It was time to disappear.
  13. Sanctuary cut a lazy path across the sea of clouds, a massive, silent giant above the pockmarked city of Palgard, well above the city's ruined skyscrapers and its beleaguered populace. Its hull was pitch-black but shone with a glossy enamel, broken irregularly by triangular lights affixed into depressions in the hull, shining blue-white, some blinking, some solid and steadfast, radiating, to those with the appropriate sensitivities, power as was channeled by the mages and sorcerers of the world. Power that provided propulsion and lift, drawn from an atmosphere rich in mana, in energy that was converted through a melding of disciplines. All along its surface, Sanctuary bore the marks of its engineers, displaying numerous shutters that housed recessed contraptions, forked beams constructed onto an actuating arm, inscribed with runes and affixed with powerful crystals. In other places, sensor arrays jutted out instead, erected at the appropriate junctions, always built in redundant pairs. Topside, a declining ramp stopped abruptly at a large bulkhead, leading into the ship; and beyond that was the stunted command tower, which housed the carrier's brains, Martin Strauss. Strauss's seat was situated on a raised dais at the rear of the tower, which afforded him an imperial view over the rows of consoles and support crew that kept his castle afloat, and a gorgeous view of the outside skyscape besides. At the furthest most point of the tower, and arranged in a line that arched inward at the middle, was the network of telepaths that kept Sanctuary, and, by proxy, Strauss, connected with Terran intelligence and his T.I.T.A.N agents in the field. Strauss raised his hand to a see-through panel of light, hesitated long enough to read the data inscribed over it, and then swiped two fingers in the air to dismiss it, calling, in its place, another pane of light. He repeated the process several more times. Nearby, his navigators, one a man in his forties, the other a woman in her mid-twenties, conveyed the carrier's heading, and then confirmed course adjustments. Sanctuary was on its third lap around the city. They had received their orders a week ago, commanding the carrier to relocate to Palgard airspace and await further command. The order had not sat well with Strauss. Ostensibly, TITAN existed outside the regular chain of command, functioning alongside, but separate, the military; TITAN answered to a council of investment, and to Edward Brown and his offices in Ignatz, as well as, to an extent, the PeaceKeepers of Terrenus. Just a little over a dozen men could move TITAN across the gameboard that was continental Terrenus, and fewer yet could do it without Strauss knowing about it first. Yet Strauss found himself floundering, unable to identify where the orders had originated. The Pythian Foundation—his network of telepaths—could find no trace, and his agents in Igantz had been blocked in their efforts, and, subsequently, compromised. “Update.” Strauss spoke, absently dismissing another pane of light. “Sir,” One agent acknowledged, looking up from his console and craning his head toward Strauss. He wore a bemused expression. “PeaceKeeper Saratxaga denies having issued any orders to the Sanctuary crew, and the city itself is quiet. Martial Town isn't on lockdown, and all patrols are accounted for; I don't know why we're here, Director. Our agents all report the same; nothing is happening.” Strauss felt anxiety tighten in his belly, drawing itself into a knot of tension and frayed nerves, making him feel the weight of his ninety-something years all at once. Nothing was happening now, yet Strauss could feel a looming threat in the distance; and that there was hand at work here in the shadows. "Maintain course," Strauss ordered to the acknowledgement of his navigators, and then spoke, "Major," he did not turn to face the broad-chinned man that occupied the seat below his dais, "you have command." Martin Strauss stood from his command seat and exited the room, emerging into a long corridor of ceramic and metal, punctuated along its length by doors that Strauss knew could lock on command, and jettison the contents of the corresponding rooms with the appropriate command phrase. Keyed to specifically to his voice. He continued on his way, passing saluting agents, bustling and jostling one another, but swerving out of his way. An elevator at the end of the corridor took Strauss between floor levels, to an individual room, secured against intruders for his private use; it was the Director's quarters, his home away from home, except he rarely slept anywhere but on the carrier. Strauss entered, locked the door with a command, pausing until he heard the magnetic bolts thud into place. He breathed deep, exhaled. And then released a string of curses and expletives, issuing one oath after the other until he had exhausted every highbrow insulting phrase he had learned in his long life, and then Strauss moved onto obscenities normally associated with the sailors working along the winding coast of Casper. When he was done, Strauss turned around, released the lock on his cabin and began a slow return to the command tower.
  14. It was dawn, and while the sun creeped over the horizon, long shadows of tall skinny trees loomed over barren land. A caravan of horses pulling carriages and carts traveled down a straight and very narrow road, with nothing of worth surrounding them for miles. It was but a dry, flat valley peppered with skeletal trees, and if one were to look in all directions, they'd see nothing. Nothing but the road ahead, and behind. Nothing between the road and the east, or was it west, in this strange, empty dimension?. Directions like those didn't matter here. There was only one direction, it was forward. It made for a tediously boring travel for the dozens of travelers who journeyed this cross-dimensional road. The carriage that led the caravan was nicer than the others. Roomier, with soft cushioned seats, and pulled by two prize-worthy, sturdy mares. Inside sat a man of modest but round stature. His shiny, bald head was flushed, and his moustache twitched nervously as his bejeweled fingers fidgeted at his expensive silk robes. Tiny beads of sweat pearled at his temples, despite the cool dawn air. A nervous man, full of anxiety. He felt a tickle and cleared his throat. "We're nearly there," he said. Another traveler accompanied the man. A woman, with thick long waves of auburn hair, and eyes the color of blood.. She seemed calmer than her male companion, sitting stoically with her silk-gloved hands folded neatly over her lap. She regarded the man with a skeptical smirk. How many times had he said such things in the last few hours? She had lost count. They had been traveling for some time, much longer than she had expected. It was her first time making this journey, however it hadn't been his. In fact, the noble looking man was the leader of their caravan's expedition. The leader of a traveling sideshow, Meret Mermont smiled back at the red-headed woman. "We should be coming up to the portal any moment now..." he slipped his fingers into a hidden pocket in his robes, and felt around. Within was a warm smooth gem. Meret sighed and tucked it away, relieved. "Can you sense it, Callista?" She soured as he spoke her name. So casual, so unlike before. Before their arrangement. Callista and Meret had first met, one year ago. It was in the mystical golden city, Chrysopolis, where she reigned as a Queen, fair to her people, generous, beloved. Chrysopolis was a hidden dimension which she created to build a prosperous and peaceful kingdom that would be hidden away from the rest of the universe, formed out of the divinity of Callista herself. However, though powerful Callista was, the energy it required to build a whole new phase of reality meant a sacrifice, as all divine magic came at cost, whether man or deity. She would never have the power to leave, ever. It was a decision she had quickly made peace with; a sacrifice she would gladly make if it meant building a new world of peace and prosperity. As she tended to her kingdom and it grew to be just as she had envisioned, the more validity she felt as a ruler. As a woman with divine power, and as a Queen, she should have been fulfilled. Yet as the years drew on and on, the novelty faded, and the seclusion which she had credited for creating the masterpiece which was her kingdom, had grown to feel more like a curse. When Meret had entered her city with his traveling caravan, it had sparked something within the Queen. They very rarely had outside visitors, it took someone special to enter her dimension. Meret Mermont fancied himself special, certainly, and would travel across all dimensions as he pleased. From one land to the next, he would bring his traveling sideshow, earning a bit of coin with his unique shows and items, before moving on. She felt herself dwelling on his ability to move freely from one dimension to another, something she no longer could do. Eventually her envy led her to approach the master of ceremonies, pleading to know how he did it. He asked of her why she concerned herself with his methods of travel. “Because I want to do it too,” she had replied. To her disappointment, Meret didn’t have the power to restore Callista’s ability to move as he did across the planes of reality. It didn’t matter how he did it when it was of no use in relation to her request. Perhaps he could make a compromise, however; though it would require yet another sacrifice. She made a deal with him for passage along to the next dimension. Meret bartered that should he have to carry such a powerful vessel across the time and space between dimensions, then it would require a greater power than he possessed. He posed a trade she would grow to regret. “It would be just for the trip,” he had said. “Yes…” Callista said, the memory of those days lingering in her mind after a moment of thick silence. “I do sense it…” Her gaze dropped to his robes, to where she had seen him fiddling before. She knew what he had been palming. It was what she had traded for this one way trip, her power as a Goddess, syphoned from her being and contained in a simple little gem. Her lips thinned out, the fire in her blood rising. She could just lean across and snatch it, it would be so easy… But no, she knew Meret was the only one who could bend the rules of time and space for her and end her stale existence trapped within a cage of her own making. “Indeed,” Meret noticed her scarlet eyes boring into him, and smiled. He reached into his robes again, as her gaze followed like a hungry dog. His fingers grasped something cool, teasing around the object as Meret reveled in the Goddess’s stare, before finally plucking out a small glass vial. Callista had been eyeing him hungrily, even if it was subconsciously, however she was painfully aware of her disappointment when her eyes fell upon the palm-sized vial. It contained a viscous black fluid, corked and safe. “What’s that?” She asked, sullen in her demure. “This, my Lady is what will open our portal to your new home,” Meret said. Callista was beginning to vibrate with anxiety when their carriage came to a sudden halt. She peeked out the window, but there was nothing but endless grass and field, and the flooding orange glow of the rising sun. She pondered, why travel so long to open the portal way out here? However she was far to anxious to ask any questions. She simply watched as Meret stepped out of the carriage and walked around to the front of the horses, walking a few meters ahead. Callista stepped out as well, curious, as she saw him pause in the middle of the road. He held the vial up in front of him, and pulled the cork. she watched as the thick fluid poured out at his feet as he overturned the glass vial, until it was empty and he tossed it aside, stepping back quickly a few paces as he did. It was then that the noise of rushing air drowned out all sound, and a small black tear appeared in the space before him, rippling outward like a drop of ink. Meret ran back towards the carriage. “Amazing,” Callista marveled, as Meret rushed her back into their humble chariot. “It won’t last forever. We’ve got to get everyone through before it closes,” he pressed, signaling the driver to move on ahead. “What was in that vial?” Callista asked as their carriage lurched forward. She peered out the window eagerly as they approached the portal in the road. “A concoction of my own design, though I won’t divulge the ingredients. I will say, however, that it reacts with the wavelengths of certain dimensional hotspots, the glass of the vial blocks those waves until I open it and pour the liquid out. Clever, don’t you think?” he said, his mustache twitching. “What are you, some kind of alchemist?” She asked, turning to look at him with a scrutinizing eye and one cocked brow. “If it pleases you to call me such, then yes, you could call me an alchemist of sorts,” he replied. His eyes twinkled like there was more to him being just an ‘alchemist of sorts’, however he said nothing further, as they entered the void of the portal, consumed in blackness as Meret and Callista left the world of Chrysopolis behind,
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