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Mykur: The thorn imperium

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As was the case with many of the Dead's deals, information was wrought from the guard even as some warmth remained in the bodies of his comrades. While the witness imparted the last piece of data separating them as an asset from becoming a liability, the repetitive noise of impact where the deformed door reminded them that despite the Mistress's reinforcements, they didn't have forever. The Puppet Master pointed up at the screen of the room beneath them.

"Does the room beneath us connect to the store room?"

"Yes there are actually two main square vents in the room down there," Something about Cain's tone settled the guard, brought him out of his head and put him in the moment at hand. Maybe, he thought, he could still save himself. "One leads up to this room, the other to the store room."

"Ahh," Cain paced thoughtfully before the screens. "So I could bust down there, theoretically, and come back up in the store room?"

"I mean yeah I guess, but the floors are thick! Good luck with that!"

"You heard the man, team. We have to break through the floor!" said the First Officer with gusto.

Through the blue darkness of the surveillance room, a black spike lanced from his flat palm through the nape of the guard's neck. When exact intentions and guidelines were not yet established, Cain had a fluid way of moving that allowed him to traverse between the lines; but when minds were made up and paths laid out, he became brute force incarnate. As soon as the guard's skin opened up, his blood pooled in intricate patterns on the floor to create a circle full of alien symbols. As the banging at the door grew louder, visible vibrations rocking its melted and reinforced hinges, a purple glow emitted from the mural of blood.

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A frustrated sigh escaped the woman's lips. "We should get going," said the Dead Mistress. "With both Mykur and Baeoi on our side we can just bust through the walls with no resistance whatsoever."

Yes. A highly probable solution. Brute force always worked where there was no other option left. However, to keep their enemies occupied, the Mistress prepared a little surprise of her own.

A tiny ball of light fluttered down her palm and onto the ground where it hovered just a few inches from it. If the wall ever broke down, the tiny ball of light would explode like a bomb and from that explosion would appear a dozen or guardian angels with intent to slow down the Keli's advance.

"Any minute now."

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Shikai watched the blood on the floor glow with eerie light before looking back to the rapidly deteriorating wall keeping the Horde out. He thought about trying to cut through the floor, but didn't want to interrupt whatever Cain was doing. Instead, he walked over to the wall and began thrusting his blade through. Each attack would pierce multiple Keli's. Still, as much as he worked, the banging continued, and it wouldn't be long before they got through.

"We don't have a lot of time here boss!"

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Mykur was a weapon of nigh infinite power. Shikai would learn that in days, months, years to come; but for now he wielded it with incredible brute force and less efficacy. Aside from the legendary weapon’s power, as was the case with any compartmentally powerful device, there was finesse to its use. Several, indeed many Kelis were pierced and neutralized by the arcane artifact; but more than the effectiveness of the blade’s piercing power was the negative repercussion of perforating the last defense between them and the Kelis over and over again. The battered, bulleted wall began displaying dents as the near infinite machines beat against the place where there had once been a wall.

Meanwhile, the circle not only germinated upon itself, changing colors and growing bulbous, fungi figures; but growing upward like a tiered cake. Smaller circles piled upon larger circles leading from a purple point down to a burgundy base. Suffering hands emanated up from the thirteen circles of the oozing obsidian as the wall appeared it could withstand no more. Their blobbed fingers reached, stretched for the black ceiling as the elastic tiers expanded upward. Then the hands resolved into tight fists, and all 13 tiers plowed downward on the floor.

At the same time as desk and chairs plumed outward from the monstrous impact, the wall gave in to roughly twenty undamaged and unhindered Kelis.

Standing between the Mistress with her angels and Shikai with Mykur, Cain had readied his fists as if he were about to attack; but instead of doing so, he dropped backwards into a neat backflip amidst the debris cloud emanating from the floor and landed on the level beneath them in the blackness. Already having absorbed Keli’s store room schematics and the Mistress’s desired items, he rose from the three-point position and zig-zagged between curtained figures toward the area below the store room while a wall of Kelis replaced the wall of steel before the Mistress and Shikai.

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As the Kelis filed into the room, the Mistress' angels began their assault. The only problem is that there are way too many of these Kelis. So much that her guardian angels were overwhelmed. At that the Mistress shrugged. Her summons can only do so much. And she truly wished that she did not have to dirty her hands again.

So she pulled back and moved to trail after Cain's wake. Her guardian angels should slow the Kelis down but not for long. She can, however, fight a retreating battle. Call it a tactical maneuver. Running backwards, she began her own assault at he Kelis, her body shooting rays of homing laser lights at the mass of enemies.  Her beams would tore through the Kelis but even then that was enough.

"Hurry."

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In matters of brute force, Shikai had what they needed when Kelis came blasting through the wall. Even as the Mistress's angels picked off, but eventually fell to cyborg legion, the zombie general of the Dead swept incredible planes of existence through midsections and heads and limbs with reckless abandon. However there were literally hundreds, and soon Shikai would find himself the last remaining in the flickering surveillance room, swimming with towering Kelis. There were two ways to go, each plugged up with the enemy. One thing was certain; he would have to fight his way either to the smoldering chasm Cain had wrought in the ground or the busted welding of the door they had entered through.

"Sir," said the orb to Shikai as it bobbed a few feet above the reach of the Kelis."It appears we are in danger! Fighting our way down after the others is my recommended protocol!"

Down below, Cain and the Mistress hustled between curtained figures. This was where they had been mere hours ago, chairs rowed before a stage and podium. Now this was like an empty, black gymnasium haunted by the fixtures that had composed the auction event of the night. Far ahead was the dim red light of an "Exit" sign to the auction house basement.

"It looks like this is some kind of store room for the auction itself, not the goods they're selling," he said as they ran. Even at a full sprint, Cain had an eerie way of speaking unaffectedly and not running out of breath.

Echoing through the black all around them was the sound of manifold footsteps pounding the wood behind them. The room's acoustics made it hard to discern whether or not any Kelis had made it in front of them, but they had at least wide enough a berth not to be grabbed at by the robotic assailants. Up ahead, clear to augmented sight, was the vent through which they would plunge upward into the store room of actual value— the one containing all the goods the Mistress had come for.

Cain stopped beneath the vent, standing beside a massive curtained figure. He flexed his fist as if he were about to blast up through the ceiling but paused, looking at the Mistress.

"Wait, when is the last time we saw Black?"

That was when a pair of immense, black, polycarbonate arms burst from within the sheeted figure and wrapped around Cain from behind.

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19 hours ago, amenities said:

"Sir," said the orb to Shikai as it bobbed a few feet above the reach of the Kelis."It appears we are in danger! Fighting our way down after the others is my recommended protocol!"

Shikai gritted his teeth, "I agree! But we need an opportunity!"

With one arm, The Zombie lashed out with the sword once more, cutting another wave of Kelis in half. At the same time, he wove signs with the other to activate his Body Enhancement Jutsu. His muscles expanded with explosive force, shredding the shirt he was wearing. Then he grabbed the hilt of the sword with both hands, and unleashed a massive swing. 

The combination of the supernatural sharpness of Mykur and the explosive power of Shikai's jutsu enhanced strength proved to be devastating. A great shockwave blew through the assembled Kelis, slicing many apart while carrying even more back the way they had come. Letting the jutsu deactivate, the Zombie took the opportunity to follow his companions through the hole. 

When he caught up, he found Cain being seized from behind by a massive pair of arms. His reaction was almost instantaneous, as he sent another slash hurtling through the air towards the limbs.

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Mykur was as sharp as the edge of an atom. At first. Hacking and slashing through dozens of enemies, Shikai would be able to appreciate its unruly capacity for cleaving through obstructions; he would be able to feel the void within Mykur beckoning to his most Unnatural inclinations. Shikai would see the very darkness warping around his blade as he swung it through the shadows and dark figures, and soon he would grasp at inklings of manipulating those shadows to his very will— but for now, wielding something of such greatness would come at a cost to the zombie general. His first strikes were surgical by Mykur’s very nature, carving terrific chasms through Keli after Keli; but eventually the blade became more cumbersome. Its weight became taxing and it became harder to summon. By the time Shikai had used his jutsu, fought off wave after wave of the man they were in fact robbing blind, and caught up to the Mistress and Cain, he would find himself noticeably more taxed and/or out of breath than typical.

In fact, his blow upon the large Keli would only sever one of its arms.

“Sorry sir, I should have told you:” said the blue avatar in the dark basement. “It will take your body time and training to grow accustomed to Mykur! This blade was forged for High Lord of Darkness, Zenhariel. No normal mortal could even touch such a thing, let alone come this far. I recommend you rest for now or risk damaging your body!” 

The sword of night, it is said that Mykur could swallow the sun with its darkness. The greatsword's blade is pure black, dark as the abyss, and drinks in the light of nearby sources. The crossguard is violet and ornate, connected to a pommel that is wrapped in dense leather. At the end sits a large amethyst.

Now, as the blade returned with another notable energy expenditure, even the great man’s adrenaline could not fend off the weight of this incredible artifact as it settled on his shoulders. If only for a moment before the sea of Kelis crashed in on the Dead operatives, Shikai would be humbled by the great thing bestowed upon him. Then, two things happened in quick succession.

Cain grabbed the single remaining arm of the Keli and flipped it over him. Neither his nor Shikai’s maneuver would save him, though; for their enemy had made his clones’ entire bodies into weapons. From the 8’ Keli’s chest extended a barrage of needles that pierced Cain’s back over and over in passing before the giant figure was thrown wholesale into the advancing Kelis behind them.

Without any warning, the ceiling exploded and tons of heavy stone pounded down all around them. What looked like an elephant-sized black fist appeared to have blasted through floor one level above. As it deflated, the Dead operatives would see Black standing one level above in the store room. It looked as if he had used a giant fist to punch a hole into the corner of the store room, both creating an entryway to the basement and the lobby they had first entered through.

As the thick debris settled, dozens, maybe hundreds of silhouettes could be seen standing around Black. None of them were like Keli, though. As the smoke cleared further, the bodies of the Kelis that had filled the auction house lobby minutes earlier zapped and sparked in various states of violent dismantlement. Just after that realization, a hail of ammunition rained down around them, shredding the bodies of Kelis that dared protrude from the rubble.

“Well what are you waiting for,” said Captain Black, surrounded by the crew of the Black Fleet’s flagship. Wearing a decorated waistcoat and his captain’s hat, he looked far less subdued than he had all night. Much more authoritative. He jangled a set of keys in one hand, assumably the ones that had gotten him into the store room before blowing it open from the inside. “Let’s get our shit and get out of here! You need help?”

Shikai would be in an intense state of exhaustion and Cain, after regenerating a body and having it pierced to bits, would be worse for the wear too. Nevertheless they made it up into the store room and Black commanded an attache of men to help the Mistress gather her desired belongings.

“Cops will be here real soon. Our mad dash through the city didn’t help, that’s certain. We might need a decoy,” said Black to Shikai and Cain.
 

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Busting through the store room was easy enough and with Black to assist the group, the Mistress did not have much to worry about anymore. Eyeing the store room, she began to start mentally assessing its contents.

Exalta weapons. Black Exalta Prisms. A shield of healing. Cobran alpha wolf furs. Ballard Bay shield of healing. The elusive Vintel berries. A half-dead monster from Moonwood, ready for binding. And a baby phoenix, ready for bonding. Then the rare materials. Bloodstones. Elemental Stones. Celuro. Stryderian scales. Runestones. And more. 

Fishing inside her coat pockets, the woman finally produced a black glob of jiggling flesh which she threw on the ground. The black goop seemed to have a mind of its own and soon several black tendrils sprouted from it. Each tendril went for their respective item in the store room. Then each one of them would carry the items back into the black goop which seemed to have sprouted a large mouth. This goop was actually the same homunculus that the deceased Lady Blackbush had used way back in the days of the Legion to abduct poor civilians and innocents. With a portable pocket dimension connected to the blob, a lot of things can be stored inside it.

Once the storeroom is cleared, the Mistress would address the others, "All done. Time to go."

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Shikai sank to one knee, the exhaustion of wielding Mykur hitting him all at once. Over the dull throbbing in his ears he could hear the robot telling him that it would take time for his body to adjust to the strain of using the blade. Normally he would have answered with a sassy remark, but he was simply too drained to do anything but catch his breath. His attack on the large Keli had not been as powerful as he'd hoped, but luckily Black was there to bail them out. As The Mistresses flesh golem cleaned out the storeroom, Black presented them with another challenge.

On 1/27/2020 at 1:30 PM, amenities said:

“Cops will be here real soon. Our mad dash through the city didn’t help, that’s certain. We might need a decoy,” said Black to Shikai and Cain.

"I can be a decoy!" he said, struggling to his feet. Without looking, he tossed the blade to Cain, "Hold this for me, will ya?"

A few weaved signs and the General had activated his signature technique, the Revenant Jutsu. With this technique, he would gain the properties of an undead, including nearly unlimited stamina. Using the Jutsu now, when he was already exhausted would lead to consequences when the fight was over. He would probably need to sleep for a few days after this. But he could worry about that once they had made it out alive.

"So what did you have in mind?"

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"I'll leave you two to that," said Black to Cain and Shikai as they discussed how they would smuggle a pirate crew out of Joran City.

"What are you gonna do with alla that?" said the pale, rugged pirate as he slid up next to the Mistress in the dark, watching her throng of tentacles do its thing.

Meanwhile, Shikai saw fit to bestow greatness upon Cain like it was a mere trinket. Cain— or rather, what Cain had become in the span of a few years— had an eldritch respect for such items. A fear, almost. Luckily, he had also developed a casual way of showing it: He reached his hand for the blade, but extending from his palm came a claw that grabbed the blade and morphed into a sling, sliding it into a diagonal position on Cain's back without ever touching him. The gesture was as fluid as the matte appendage that executed it. All of Cain's attention seemed to be devoted to Shikai's transformation, resolving in a mixture of concern and intrigue.

"We've made a big scene," said Cain. He put a hand on Shikai's undead shoulder. "There will probably be a lot of them out there. The chances you escape are slim if you just try to take them on alone. What's your plan?"

While the Dead operatives talked to one another and the Admiral of the Black Fleet, what must have been the top brass of Black's crew walked around dealing final blows to the Kelis who plastered every surface of the smoldering auction house. The rest of the crew had absconded with basic treasures and left with the rest of the small fleet, leaving a sleek battleboat those remaining could all fit on. Before the auction house was a giant street. One way was downtown, from which a cacophony of sirens and emergency lights already exuded. The other way, down a gentle slope, sat the great mouth into the Great Northern Sea.

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"What are you gonna do with alla that?"

The Dead Mistress turned to face the pirate. "For our cause. It might be trivial but these materials don't come cheap and hard to acquire." She pointed to the swirling mass of tentacles. "Please ignore the tentacle. It's just an aesthetic."

With nothing left to work on, the white-haired woman watched to Black and his homies dispatch with the remaining Kelly's and finally blowing up the disgusting place where disgusting stuff once happened. She hoped that this would be the end of Kelly's sick art. What really saddens her is that she cannot do anything else for those that have experienced that kind of art. If only she can bring them back again, give them another shot at life.

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Truth be told, Shikai didn't have any plan greater than throw himself at the Keli's until a window of escape opened. Now that Cain pointed it out though, it did seem like a strategy doomed to fail. He was just too vastly outnumbered. A greater strategy was clearly needed, so he knelt down for a moment and went over his options. Perhaps if he could cause enough trouble elsewhere he could draw Keli's attention away. But how?

Oh... oh maybe...

"Little robot friend! Where is the city morgue?" inquired the Zombie.

The orb projected a holographic map of the city. The groups current location was marked in green, and a building some distance away was marked in white.

"Now show me Keli's other holdings in the city. I bet the one we came from isn't the only one."

Sure enough, several red marks appeared on various buildings throughout the map. Shikai grinned widely as his plan started to come together in his mind, It would take some doing to pull off, but it had a decent chance of working.

"I'm gonna make for the morgue, make some friends, and hit Keli's shit!" he told Cain, "If they think they're being attacked, it might cause some of the forces to break off to deal with the threat; give us a chance to escape."

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Captain Black’s hand came to rest upon the Dead Mistress’s shoulder. Whether he could see her remorse or not, the words that came from his mouth were not spoken as a victor; they were spoken heavy with the burden of loss. Just maybe he felt the same remorse, as any basically moral being should.

“We all know this guy is fucked up," he said, "but there’s no looking back, you know? All we can do is stop him from going on and make sure nobody else like him pops up.” Then, with a pat, he turned to face his men. Though he spoke to them, his voice was clear to Cain and Shikai as well.

“Pack up your shit, men! Let’s get out of here.”

Their avenue down to the water was clear. There, a few speed vessels would take them out to sea and free from the land authorities.

“We are on 18th avenue, sir. Head down seventeenth three blocks and take a right. After two blocks take a left.” The node of light bobbed around Shikai’s shoulders as Cain and him made their way to the smoldering auction house’s entrance. Just a couple turns away up ahead were the blaring lights of first responders who were nearing the scene.

“The city morgue will be on the left side. It’s closed, the best entrance will be the glass doors. It looks like it’ll still be a while before you can use the blade again, so I advise you avoid using it to keep from causing yourself permanent damage!”

With everything packed up, the agents stood alongside one another in front of the auction house just before the sirens waled in on them. Cain said nothing, simply saluting Shikai and turning toward the downhill slope leading to their getaway.

“Let’s go,” he said with cold dutifulness. With that, the brigade of pirates and bandits took off running. “Shikai, I know it won’t be all of them but draw as many as you can!”

The Mistress was lingering behind, standing among the smoldering pieces of the building. The rest of them were already outside, and now that the simmering bodies had begun to cool it was like a graveyard. Nestled into the rubble nearby, if she was looking, she would see an amulet. It was dulled from ages in the dirt, almost as if it had somehow always been part of this fresh rubble. 

“You know,” she would remember one of Black’s men saying in the background. “Joran city was once known as ‘the Armory.’ It’s a city renowned the world over for magitech weaponry. Shit’s just commonplace around here.”

“Hey!” came Cain’s voice. “Are you ready? We need to go now.”
 

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Shikai returned Cain's salute, and then took off.

"Seventeenth for three blocks, turn right, two more blocks, then left," he repeated, "I can make that no sweat!"

The shinobi bounded over the rooftops, avoiding the streets below. He could see citizens running to and fro, some seeking shelter while others tried to get a better look at the chaos from whence he'd come. In his opinion, the ones taking refuge in buildings and basements had it right. What would the people rushing to see the danger do when they found it? What could they do? How would the knowledge help them? Just go home and wait for the news.

Movement out of the corner of his eye caused him to jump across the street to his right. Something crashed through the roof the building he had been running on a mere instant after he'd gotten clear. Now he had to reassess his opinion of the gawkers as he peered over to see what had happened. A second later the front door was blown off the building, and a Keli bounded out. Quickly locating the Zombie, it lunged through the air toward him. 

Shikai lashed out with a kick just as the clone came in range that sent it crashing through the building to his left. As the dust settled, ten more clones appeared on the roof of the other building.

"That's not good!"

The General turned and took off at full speed towards the morgue, knowing he couldn't afford to waste time brawling with the Keli's.

 

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