NEW VINDICATORS (Books I - XIII)

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
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Post by Flashpoint » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:57 am

Fantastic job pulling all of that together, Michuru. I wasn't sure how you would pull of the entire Chimera/Atlas/Xianbei thing but you managed it. Great stuff.
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CIV

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:55 pm

Magnus’ vision blurred back slowly and confusion quickly set in. Jack Olsen was tumbling towards him, collapsing atop the young man. He felt sick to his stomach- his head was swimming in the same ocean his stomach was tossed about in. Barely able to string together a coherent though, he wondered over whether or not he had been drugged. Still, just outside his haze he could make out Chienne’s sultry voice, flinging genetic slurs at who he could only assume to be their captors.

Magnus’ head rolled on his shoulders. “Not feeling so well?” came Coriolis’ voice. “We messed with the magnetic field here in the building. We owe it all to the Lorentz force.”

“What?” Magnus managed.

Coriolis returned with a laugh. “You know, for a smart kid, you’re pretty stupid. Don’t feel bad though… I had to have it explained to me too. It’s this force resulting from the interaction between a magnetic field and an electric current. We have a conductor charge the particles in the air and your powers change the density. Meaning… so long as you’re trying to use your powers- like I’m assuming you’ve been doing for a while –you’ll be sick to your stomach.”

“Quinton figure that one out?” Magnus asked, releasing his control over magnetic force. Slowly he could feel his headache subside- as did the nausea.

“Quinton? Nah… we’ve got someone smarter.” Magnus cursed himself as he realized his wrists were bound by simple handcuffs. Ordinarily he would have had no trouble here. He could have easily unlocked them and melded them into something he could use to fight his way out of their prison.

Upon closer inspection he discovered their jail was the corner office in a skyscraper- judging from the breath-taking view of the Manhattan skyline just outside the window. More shockingly the sun was still in the sky. Either he had slept for a day or the Affiliation had moved so quick that they had executed their plan before the afternoon concluded.

Then it triggered. “Where’s Maria!?” he thundered, shifting his body awkwardly as he managed to get to his feet. Coriolis merely shook his head at his peer’s attempts to stand, easily pushing back over once he had accomplished such a task. “You realize that the second I get out of here, I am going to hurt you a lot, right?”

“If you live that long,” Coriolis said, laughing as he made his way out of the office. “You kids play nice now, y’hear?”

The door slammed shut and Chienne sighed. “Just my luck, captured by Neo-Sapiens… captured with Neo-Sapiens.”

“I’m not a Neo-Sapien,” grumbled Jack.

Chienne narrowed her eyes at the quarterback, fixing all her hate upon him. Magnus was pleased to see she reserved none for him at the moment. “I knew, actually. Kind of. I mean… your brother… he killed my brother. I only went out with you because I thought you’d get me close to him… close enough to kill that worthless blister on humanity. He had to go and steal that chance from me though… he had to go and kill himself and take your whore of a mother with him.”

Jack’s jaw worked furiously- the sight of his mounting rage only made Chienne happier. “Oh, Jack… you didn’t think I actually cared about you, did you? You didn’t think I actually enjoyed holding your hand or kissing your lips. You know, the first time we kissed… I threw up in my mouth and had to swallow it back down. I didn’t know if you had manifested too… or if you were latent. Maybe you never would- maybe the genes died with him.”

“You did the same thing with me- didn’t you?” Chienne rounded on Magnus, eyes wide with confusion. Still, he wasted no time in explaining his theory. “You only went out with me to hurt someone else, right? You wanted to hurt Adonis. You figured we were friends and if we went out… it would hurt him. You wanted to see him ache, right?”

“Not as dumb as I figured,” Chienne said. A fiendish smile appeared on her face. “Oh, Magnus… you mean to tell me you knew? Everytime the tip of my tongue trace the inside of your ear in the cafeteria… you knew I was doing it because Adonis was watching and you let me?”

“Guess we’re more alike than either of us realized,” Magnus said sadly, struggling futilely in his bonds.

“Don’t you dare compare me to you!” Chienne snarled. “Never!”

“You know what the sad part in this whole thing is, Chienne?” It was Magnus’ turn to turn that vicious smile back on her. “Two of the only three relationships you’ve ever had… you entered into with the intent of using love to hurt someone else. That means the most meaningful relationship you’ve ever had was with Adonis.”

Jack began to snicker as an angry glare came over the girl. “No,” he said as her hate-filled expression turned on him for the sin of mocking her further. “No, the really sad thing is… you were both abducted and I- I let myself be captured.”

“What?” Magnus asked, unsure if he understood.

Jack began laughing harder and he shook his head as he laid eyes on Chienne. “I love you, okay?” he asked. “You wanna say whatever about our relationship… fine. The thing is, I fell in love with you. I’d do anything for you. Including follow a group of dangerous Neo-Sapiens out of our school gym in a feint to save you.”

“What are you planning on doing? Tackling every NS you see?” Chienne rolled her eyes at her first boyfriend and sighed as she dropped back into her depression- she was convinced they were going to kill her. She didn’t know the half of it.

“I’m the quarterback,” Jack said with a grin. “You think I wouldn’t come in here without a plan?” He nodded to Magnus. “I can get those cuffs off of you. From there, you need to get Chienne out of here. Get her away from these people before they get rash.”

“I can’t use my powers,” Magnus said sadly. “How do you expect me to protect either of us?”

Jack telekinetically broke the chains on his handcuffs and moved to do the same to his fellow inmates. Magnus’ eyes widened with the realization of the one thing about Jack “the Enforcer” Olsen the Affiliation had overlooked. Yasakani no Magatama, one of the three treasures that made up the Imperial Regalia of Japan hung from his neck, just under the shirt he had worn to graduation. Without any hesitation he slipped the gem suspended from a leather chord over his head and offered it to Magnus. “What?” Magnus asked.

“Your powers… they’re similar to the ones provided by the necklace. I figure telekinesis should have the same applications- no matter the medium. The rest of the powers take a bit of adjusting to but… you should be fine.”

“You’re more familiar with them. Why don’t you-?”

“I already told you, Magnus… I’m the quarterback. It’s the quarterback’s job to pass to his receiver… let him run in to score.”

“You need to come with us!”

Jack shook his head. “They’re going to come back here. If it’s one-on-one, I’m confident I can drop them… keep an alarm from being raised and buy you both some time to get out of the building.”

“Forget it!” thundered Chienne. “I’m not wandering off alone with freakshow here!”

“You’d rather take your chances with the Affiliation?” Magnus asked.

Chienne rolled her eyes. “You lay one hand on me and I promise you I’ll remove it.”

“Get her to safety,” Jack asked. “Protect her with everything you have and more…”

Magnus slipped the necklace on and poked his head out the door before slipping off into the offices of Patriot Robotics…

“God speed, Vindicator,” Jack Olsen said as he watched the two slip off in secret. “And keep my baby safe.”
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CV

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:57 pm

Magnus’ hand was outstretched, helping him to focus as he adjusted to the new abilities Yasakani no Magatama granted him. With the gem around his neck, clutched tight in his left hand, the red-haired warrior was able to suspend Black Widow- forcing her back against the ceiling of the forty-second floor of Patriot Robotics. “And now… she spins!” With the gentlest of gestures with his hand he was able to manipulate kinetic energy and cause Lawanda Murphy to rotate slowly, grinding her against the drop ceiling.

“If she pukes on me, I’ll kill you,” growled Chienne.

“Fine.” Dropping his arm to his side, Black Widow collided with the floor. Her six arms moved to begin picking herself up, shaking off the jolt from the sudden stop accompanying her fall. Once more he swung his arm up and a wave of force rocketed under her, slamming her into the air and back against a column supporting the numerous floors above them.

In their escape from their prison, Magnus had been vehement that the duo not use the elevator. Without his powers it would be walking back into the Affiliation’s possession. In the past few months, Magnus and Maria had managed to compile a small list of people they knew to be in the Affiliation. Still, despite how many they knew to be in the clandestine group, it was impossible to know who wasn’t involved. As such, it was a difficult thing to factor in what abilities the Affiliation possessed… what would be possible for them to do if the two stepped foot on an elevator?

Still, descending through an endless stairwell had another benefit- besides their safety. Magnus knew that Maria was still a captive of the Affiliation and he was determined to save her. As the duo made their way this far, his mind had been stuck on their conversation from the senior prom. After watching Lex and Jacque out themselves to the school, Maria had suggested letting them in on their plans- trusting them with everything they had deciphered about the Affiliation.

“Magnus, we should tell them.”

“Maria… we’re going to be fine. What’s the worst that can happen?”

This. This was the worst that could happen. Because of his pride- because he had been so intent to look better than Lex and Jacque, he had left the two out of the loop and prevented them from helping them actually prevent any of this from actually happening. It was because of him that Maria had been captured. It was because of him…

Chienne screamed as Magnus fell forward. He spun around, having felt someone punch him between the shoulder-blades. All he found there were the shadows… and he knew. “Lurker,” he growled as he picked himself up. “Get away from the shadows, Chienne! JT has the power to move through shadows and… unless he leaves them he’ll be almost invisible.”

“M-Magnus?”

Magnus spun around and found Maria crawling across the floor towards him, her left arm severed at the shoulder and one leg twisted around a hundred-and-eighty degrees. Dried blood streaked her face, running from her mouth and nostrils, tear ducts and ears. “He-help me…”

“Maria!” he screamed, rushing towards her. As he threw open his arms to embrace her, Chienne snapped him back to reality.

“Get away from us!” she snarled, hurling a houseplant at Maria. “You can’t hurt me anymore!”

The young woman was terrified of Maria’s image… and suddenly, it clicked with Magnus. “I’m not afraid,” he whispered, making such bold declarations his new mantra. “I am not afraid!”

The illusions Mara generated faded out and the two wasted no time in waiting for the Affiliation to recover. Grabbing Chienne’s wrist and attempting to block out her screams, the young hero hurried off through the door and took the stairs two at a time. With Lurker onto them, running would be a problem. The only change they had was to avoid the shadows…

The power went out as the pair rounded the corner. Only Magnus’ swearing broke the stillness of the dark. “Keep moving!” he insisted. “We have to keep moving! Lurker can see us!”

“Is he here?”

“It doesn’t matter! He can displace his senses- see through shadows!”

The door to the next floor was flung open and light slithered in ahead of Maria Espada. “Magnus! Chienne! Over here!”

Magnus stopped. “How do I know you’re really Maria? You could be just another phantasm!”

“I can see her too,” mumbled Chienne.

Maria pushed the door open wide and dashed for the pair. Magnus shifted to defend Chienne from anything that might come, but Maria didn’t go for her. Instead, her hands grabbed Magnus’ shoulders and pulled him close enough that she could press her lips to his. The door slowly closed behind them, the light retreating behind it as she continued to prove her identity to him.

Magnus pulled back and slowly opened his eyes. “More forceful than usual,” he whispered, cloaked in the folds of shadows. “Did you think that would mask your disgust, Saffron?”

Telekinetic force exploded- sending Saffron hurling through the far wall and erupting beams of sunlight carried through the office and into the stairwell. “Keep moving!” he insisted, hurrying down two more stories and exploding onto the floor, taking solace in the late-afternoon sun cascading them with light.

A hurricane hammered against them, separating Chienne from Magnus and throwing the young man through the window. He hadn’t much time to experiment with the necklace; he was sure he could use the telekinesis to fly- after all, he used his own powers to do just that. Still, he had no precise control over the force. The littlest of movements resulted in a violent hit. If he tried to fly now, he may very well fling himself into space.

“Better than hitting the pavement!” he snarled, his hand closing around the gem. Suddenly, he felt hands around him and was surprised to find his feet touch the ground. He was looking up at Patriot Robotics- watching as glass shards rained down on the street he stood upon. “H-how?” He turned around and was genuinely surprised to find Sarah Anderson, another graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Beside her stood Katie Merrick, apparently no longer comatose.

“There’s another upstairs,” Katie said. “Chienne Bedford.” Katie said the name like it was a four-letter word. “Go!”

The air around Sarah shimmered for a second and she was gone. Magnus could hardly believe what he saw. The doors of Patriot Robotics were flung open as Black Widow and Forecast rushed onto the street, joined by Circe, Mirth and Girth in no time. Lurker was transporting anyone he could to the ground level- to continue the fight there. Still, Sarah rematerialized in front of him, releasing a writhing Chienne Bedford into the crowd of onlookers.

Suddenly, the citizens seemed to realize it wasn’t just a group of Neo-Sapiens demonstrating their abilities. The clouds overhead darkened and lightning sundered the street. If it hadn’t been for Katie pulling him out of the way, Magnus was sure it would have struck him. “I felt like a change in the weather,” Forecast said, her eyes glowing menacingly.

“So do I.” Magnus watched as Alicia Gladstone used her abilities to call upon a blizzard. Violent winds pelted those present and carried in a veil of obscuring snow and a biting cold that sent the crowd running for cover.

Alicia and Magnus had much in common. The media had dubbed their families dynasties- for three generations before them, their parentage had served the world as the costumed heroes known respectively as Lodestone and Captain Canada. Their great-grandfathers had both served on the second incarnation of the heroic team; they had perished together on that fateful mission in 1957- just fifty years ago. They had vanished without a trace and left behind a legacy. Their sons took up the mantles left behind and their grandsons carried on their tradition. In this day and age Magnus Loder strived to become the next Lodestone while Alicia Gladstone had dreamed of being her homeland’s guardian Captain Canada.

Nine months ago she had left the school, returning home at the revelation that she was pregnant. She protested that it was impossible- that she had never even had sex. Some whispered behind her back, mocking her as they asked, “Does she think she’s Mary or something? What, she’s going to give birth to Jesus’ kid brother?” Others simply equated it with her attempting to keep her reputation as a good little girl who obeyed all the rules and would never find herself in the role of an unwed, teenage mother.

Alicia had finally realized the truth though; it hadn’t taken her long to figure it out. Still, she was slightly embarrassed her peers at the New Vindicators Academy hadn’t seen the signs sooner and realized that Adonis Skraag was not who he seemed to be.

Quinton Jorgenson rushed past the stunned and speechless Lodestone then, followed by Quinton Jorgenson and Quinton Jorgenson. Two more joined the trio and Magnus began to shake his head as the smorgasbord of forgotten heroes charged into the melee.

An unfamiliar one leapt past him, vaulting forward on the collapsible bo staff concealed on his costume. The uniform marked the masked young man as the Gumshoe- the former child sidekick of the Detective. Still, the Detective had been operating for years without an assistant… much less one as physically unimposing as Magnus himself was. “Outcasts!” Katie Merrick proclaimed, taking in the ragtag band of young heroes. “Offense!”
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CVI

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:58 pm

A frigid blast of arctic pressure hammered down on Black Widow, chilling her to the bone and sending shivers up the young woman’s spine. It was all courtesy of Alicia Gladstone, the fourth generation of the superhero dynasty known the world over as Captain Canada. The young woman whipped her head back, expunging her long red hair from her eyes as the winds she evoked pelted at all present.

Katie Merrick seemed unaffected by such winds, her powers converting the electricity she siphoned from the streetlights into an aura of flames. Circe and Mara screamed out as she ran through them, burning them both with her magnified heat.

Lodestone could only watch in awe as Sarah Anderson teleported the Gumshoe behind Lurker- giving the young man a taste of his own medicine. Dropping down onto the shadow-weaver, the young vigilante cracked his staff over the villain’s skull. Lurker staggered forward and was snagged by the mob of Quints rushing them.

Snapping back to reality Magnus scanned the surroundings for any sign of Chienne Bedford. Sarah had teleported her safely from Patriot Robotics, but the young woman had used the ensuing chaos to flee with the other bystanders. His bottom lip protruded as he realized she was gone- all he could do was help the collective heroes fight the Affiliation. Katie had called their forces the Outcasts- a group of the forgotten and discarded. It fit well. He hadn’t known about Sarah’s powers, though it suddenly made sense to him. Months ago, Drew had told him of an unexplainable teleport during an altercation with Mirth and Girth. Sarah had been present- he must have mimicked her abilities- abilities she now used to teleport out of the path of the super-fast Girth, tripping him on Girth’s elongated body.

He hadn’t known Katie had woken from her coma, nor that Alicia had given birth to her baby and returned to the States. He hadn’t known Quint was will alive, nor that the Gumshoe even existed. Still, they fought on as well as he or anyone else could have. Against all odds, they fought because their abominable will wouldn’t permit them to back down.

They fought on because they were heroes.

Suddenly realizing he was now outside of Patriot Robotics, Magnus reached for his own abilities. The Affiliation’s use of the Lorentz force seemed not to extend to the streets. His magnetic manipulation had returned to him. With a thought stoplights groaned and curved, bending to coil around Black Widow and heft her back into the air.

“Hey, JT!” he called out over the melee. His magnetic powers felt out and Lurker’s eyes widened as the ring in his ear tugged ever so gently. “So many body piercings…”

Lurker shook his head, knowing what Lodestone intended to do. “Don’t do it, man… you don’t wanna go there. You don’t wanna be that guAH!” The stud in Lurker’s tongue was liberated and rocketed through the air, floating before Lodestone.

“Way I figure… people get piercings like this because… what? Because pain turns them on? You little masochist… you’re going to love this.”

Lurker screamed as each metal piercing tore itself free from his ears, nose, eyebrow… Magnus felt out with his powers and raised an eyebrow as he found three more piercings. With a thought two spots of blood began forming in the chest of Lurker’s shirt and a devious grin came over Magnus’ face. “A Prince Albert… how exotic.”

Tendrils of water coiled around Lodestone’s face and fluids began to work their way up his nostrils and down his throat. It was a familiar enough power signature- but one that left question as to whom it belonged to. It was a trick both Fathom and Tide favored highly… but Lodestone was far from being so fortunate.

As Lurker breathed a sigh of relief that Lodestone had failed to tear out his last piercing, Doctor Kenneth Bradley shook his head. “You knew your enemy was the Lodestone… and still, you wore your piercings?”

Lurker’s mouth hung open, his head hung over the pavement, letting the blood drip onto the street. Even if he could convey words at the moment, he could say nothing to argue the point. He had been stupid and careless and it had cost him the tip of his tongue.

“Stand down, lest I suffocate your companion.”

Katie held up a hand; she appeared to be the leader of their group. She seemed to have the most influence over their gathered forces. “Lucas… you surprise me. You were able to piece together an army so quickly…” He nodded to Alicia then, as if only just realizing she was present. “Hello, Miss Gladstone. How’s the baby?”

“I put her up for adoption,” she growled. “Your leader will never find her.”

“I doubt Mister Skraag could care.”

Though held in Doctor Splash’s aquatic grip, Lodestone had heard and his eyes widened in shock. Adonis? Adonis was the leader of the Affiliation? It was something he hadn’t considered- but he realized all too late that it was very plausible. Adonis had proven himself to be a genius with a gifted tongue- it wasn’t beyond his ability to organize such an army under everyone’s noses. He certainly had the motive.

Then it clicked. Why would the Affiliation want to take Magnus Loder and Chienne Bedford. Suddenly he knew… she wasn’t safe- not by herself. Adonis was the leader of the Affiliation and he was obsessed with her. He would pursue her to the exclusion of all else. There was no place she could be safe from his brand of affection.

Magnus struggled to focus his powers- shooting Lurker’s liberating piercings at Doctor Splash like bullets. One-by-one they passed through his shimmering form, having no discernable effect on his altered anatomy. They were hardly enough to even draw the doctor’s attention. Wreck Room exercises had often pitted the students against each other in combat situations. A few times he had fought Fathom; Lodestone knew that she was difficult to hit, her alternate form’s anatomy shifted around most attacks, letting her dodge nearly anything he threw at her. For someone with Doctor Bradley’s decades of experience…

Hope departed.

“You have allowed this dark lord to twist your mind,” the Gumshoe told Doctor Splash sadly, quoting his hero in an effort to keep the villain talking. So long as he was talking, he wasn’t acting. “Until now. Until now… you have become the very thing you swore to destroy.”

‘Lodestone?’

Magnus looked for the speaker, but found everyone merely standing guard, waiting for their opponent to make his move. Who was talking? ‘Lodestone… this is Gumshoe. Psion’s linked us telepathically.’

‘Psion?’ thought Lodestone. ‘You- you mean Lucas?’

‘There’s no time to explain… Psion is possessing Katie Merrick’s body and is about to send a massive charge of electricity through Doctor Splash. I’ve read the dossiers on the Vindicators- it’s his weakness. Doing so will send a charge through him to you. Still, you command the electro-magnetic force, correct?’

‘Y-yeah?’

‘You might be able to use your powers to deflect the blast from you- arc it back to Katie. She can absorb the discharge and convert it to heat. Her power is apparently ionization. Just use your own energy fields to deflect the blast before it strikes you. I’ll heat up Ion.’

‘Wait! How do you know I can do this… I mean… what if I can’t?’

‘Patience… use the Force. Think!’

Gumshoe’s hand went for his utility belt, for a small incendiary he had stored away. Hurling it for Ion drew Doctor Splash’s attention to him. His free hand flew for the Gumshoe and in that span, Ion hesitated. If Doctor Splash grabbed for the Gumshoe, what would protect him from the charge carried through the former Vindicator? “DO IT!” Gumshoe screamed as the small bomb impacted. Katie’s body absorbed the heat and transferred it quickly into one quick blast.

Lodestone arced the current away from him, flinging it back to Ion as Gumshoe had told him. Her body easily absorbed the blast, converting it back into flames that danced between her fingertips. She was ready to continue the assault, should the battle continue.

Lodestone looked for the Gumshoe, only to find no one but Doctor Splash’s staggering form. Then he saw it- above them, Sarah Anderson reappeared, dropping the junior sleuth on the aquatic being. Disoriented from the blast he was barely able to shift around the youth’s assault; Gumshoe’s staff connected and Doctor Splash fell backwards onto the pavement.

Flourishing the cloak around him, the Gumshoe narrowed his eyes on his fallen foe and said darkly, “I am the Gum.”

With the threat incapacitated, Captain Canada wasted no time in turning her attention on any of the younger Affiliation members foolish enough to remain behind. Circe hurried back for the doors to the lobby, attempting to outrun the arctic wind the young woman summoned. Lurker managed to bear the pain Lodestone had brought upon him and quickly pushed her through a shadow- ahead of him and out of their reach.

“Maria and Jack are still inside!” Lodestone screamed, charging for the lobby doors himself.

“Stop him, Quint!” Ion commanded. In no time the small collective had restrained Lodestone.

“They have Loess and Tripper?” Captain Canada asked.

“Wrong Jack,” offered Ion. “Lodestone… we can’t go in there just yet. You know as well as I do your powers are being countered. You can barely control the full power of Yasakani no Magatama. None of us are in any condition to go storming a guarded fortress like this either.” Lodestone took in the Outcasts then. Katie Merrick, Ion as she was now calling herself, could absorb electricity and convert it to flames or absorb flames to convert into electricity. Without a power supply, she was limited. The Gumshoe appeared not to have any abilities- only a limited combat expertise and a quick wit. Quint was a genius, but he was far from being physically imposing; his abilities allowed him to become a brain trust and little else. Captain Canada’s powers were mostly support and while Sarah’s abilities were the best suited for combat, she had the least experience with situations like these. Hard as it was to admit it, Ion’s little band was hardly capable of taking down the Affiliation. “We need Lex and Jacque… we need to merge with their teams if we’re going to stand a decent chance.”

The Gumshoe looked to her and asked simply, “Can you get a telepathic distress call to them?”

“I’ve been trying but… I’m not able to feel any of them.”

“Okay, hold up…” Lodestone shook his head as he stepped into their center. “Since when does Katie Merrick have telepathic abilities?”

“Since she became possessed by Lucas Howell,” Captain Canada offered. “I thought it was weird too. This morning, I started hearing Lucas’ voice. I thought I was going crazy. He tapped Sarah too- she pushed her powers to the limit getting me here before the force field enveloped the city.” Lodestone looked up at the shimmering dome overhead- he was still able to see through it, to the sky and clouds… now that the sun was setting it was more obvious than it had been from that office he had been held in.

“I’ve got a lot to brief you on,” Ion said sadly. Suddenly, her eyes widened and she turned- just as ZERO blazed past, the armored-being’s fist hammered for Lodestone. He dodged the attack easily enough, letting the assault connect with one of the Quints.

“Because this day couldn’t get worse!” screamed Lodestone, jumping clear as ZERO charged straight for him. He flung up his arms, focusing the totality of his magnetic abilities into a force field to absorb the wild blows ZERO sent his way. “What’s your gripe with me!?” Lodestone exclaimed. “We’re the good guys here!”

Lucas’ telepathic abilities reached out and scanned ZERO’s surface thoughts. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” Lucas proclaimed. “Magnus… inside the armor… it’s Chienne!”
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CVII

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:59 pm

ZERO’s metal-clad hands closed around Lodestone’s neck and for the second time today he began to fight for his right to breathe. Quint and Quint jumped onto the hulking figure, each wrapping their arms around the thick stalk that throttled their companion. The armored titan shook the pair off, only to discover two more diving to wrap themselves around it’s legs. Through it all, Magnus was unable to fight back. Chienne; ZERO was Chienne. It made sense. It explained so much. ZERO had been operating before Tide abducted the girl, but had failed to come to her rescue. It was out of character for ZERO to fail to appear when any human- no matter how prolific –was engaged by a Neo-Sapien.

ZERO couldn’t come to Chienne’s rescue because ZERO was Chienne.

The Gumshoe hammered his staff across the armor’s back- all to no avail. The unit’s life support system prevented Captain Canada’s attacks from doing any harm and Sarah’s only ability was useless against an impervious foe. Ion hurried in- hands bursting into flames as the possessed girl moved to strike against their new enemy. All it took was a backswing from Chienne’s enhanced strength to send Katie Merrick’s body sailing through the air. Reacting with the speed of the gods, Sarah Carter teleported, catching Ion and landing her safely on the ground.

Lodestone knew that he was the only hope they had of defeating her. He was the only one of the ragtag band capable of hindering Chienne Bedford… the armored NS-hunter renown as ZERO.

Her fingers began to loosen as his magnetic might forced them to open. He was surprised how strong the armor made her- she was capable of resisting his powers despite being clad entirely in metal he should have been able to manipulate and command.

The Gumshoe sized her up- he knew how the armors worked. He had secretly been fighting crime clad in this unit’s predecessor. As Portal, he knew the mechanics involved in the battlesuit. Hydraulics were incorporated into the armor- they did all the heavy lifting the wearer needed. In his other identity, David Meinstein was capable of bench pressing a Buick. That lift system acted as her muscle and might. It was what allowed her to punch through concrete or fling his companions about as if they were nothing. If it could be disabled… what else was she left with?

David mused over the benefits of the 001. The armor made him impervious to damage and its internal A.I. increased his lack of a fighting ability. It helped him to know where to hit and when to dodge. The visor had numerous sensors built in- clock, compass, police-band scanner… the armor practically doubled as a cell phone. Both armors were capable of self-propulsion. It had taken David weeks of practice to control his flight pattern- he much preferred to focus that energy into the Portal unit’s ability to teleport, rather than fly. Teleportation was an addition fixed in the newer model- the prototype he had stolen. What did the 000 do?

From the shoulders numerous tiny orbs rocketed out, scattering around the battlefield. Suddenly, it clicked with the Gumshoe. His father had been bragging over such a discovery a little over a year and a half ago. The inmates of Alcatraz Island were kept from using their powers through creativity. Noah Meinstein had discovered a common energy signature in all Neo-Sapiens. It had helped to further the theory that all Neo-Sapiens shared a common ancestor- their powers operated on an undiscovered wavelength. He had created a counter to that… the ZERO armor was the prototype that generated a negation field.

“She’s going to dampen your powers!” Gumshoe screamed. He knew that it was impossible to simply turn off a Neo-Sapien’s powers. If that were possible, how many people deformed by their powers would line up for an off-switch? No, the negation field wouldn’t nullify a Neo-Sapien’s powers but dampen the strength and magnitude of their effect. “Quinton, get out of here!”

It was too late. The energy field canvassed the area and four of the Quintons stumbled to their knees, vomiting on the ground. They were extensions of the original- though each capable of independent thought and individual personality, they were still a manifestation of his Neo-Sapien abilities. Dampened by the field, they were sickened and fatiqued. Ion’s own energy conversion was drained and Sarah found herself unable to teleport more than a few steps away.

The sight only helped to emphasize what Lodestone already knew… he was their only hope. “Stop it, Chienne!” he snarled. An explosion of kinetic energy separated the pair- flinging her back and slamming her against the wall of Wayridge Industries’ plaza building. ZERO shook off the stun of being flung so easily and made it to her feet. Another surge of force fired Lodestone forward. He was imbued with unstoppable speed by the legendary gem and once more he brought ZERO to her knees. With a thought, his telekinetic field seized her and suspended her before him. Still, the might granted by Yasakani no Magatama was hardly a match for the ingenuity of Noah Meinstein’s top developers.

She knew where the power came from. She knew what had to be done. ZERO reached out and seized the leather chord the gemstone hung from. With a tug the chord snapped and Yasakani no Magatama fell into Chienne’s hands. “I can’t believe I ever let you touch me…” came the electronically-masked voice from within the armor. In some small way, Lodestone heard a fraction of his ex-girlfriend within that digitalized tone. She pulled back her free hand and a bar of white energy erupted from her palm, striking across Lodestone’s chest and flinging his body back.

As the Outcast’s eyes were drawn to Lodestone rolling across the pavement, none noticed as ZERO looked to her hands in surprise. The mask hid her astonishment well. For a moment, Chienne Bedford hesitated… and then fear set in. She turned and flew away… the gem in hand… and the field deactivated.
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CVIII

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:00 pm

“Lex? I- can I ask you to just… look out for my sister over there? I’m worried about her. I’m worried something will happen… just… promise me you’ll look after her.”

“Her and all of them. You know I will, man. You don’t even have to ask.”

“I know… I know. Thanks, Lex. Take care of them.”

J.J. Manther’s voice, the voice of Alexander Sway’s former field leader, faded from his memory. Abandoned in the void, the only company Lex now had were realization and guilt. In the last nine months, Addison, Lucas, Malachi and Quinton had been killed. Adonis, Magnus and Maria had been abducted.

“You failed as a leader, boy.”

Alexander Sway had many names. To his friends, he was simply known as Lex. At one point he had been known by the codename Amalgam. These days he went by the moniker of Anomaly. Still, there was one person in his life who preferred to call him “boy”.

“D-dad?”

The hiss of Lance McGee’s beer can opening was his only reply. There he stood- once a proud athlete. He was the champion of the gridiron back in his day. Now he was a laborer for Carl Burling Excavating in Tremont, Illinois. He had lost his scholarship at ISU due to his love of booze. He had lost his license too. The man couldn’t even operate the equipment where he was mercifully employed. He was a professional back-breaker, spending his weekdays from seven in the morning until half-past three digging ditches by hand.

All for a meager $8.50 an hour.

Lex hadn’t seen his father since his junior high years. He had no contact with them. Colonel John Sidell, director of the Department of SPB Affairs had once told Lex late last year that progress reports had been sent to Lance McGee and his girlfriend, Christine Sway. “We’re required to let him know where you are,” John said.

“But… if he wanted to, he could take me back, right? You couldn’t stop him if he did?”

Colonel Crowbar shook his head. “We can be fairly persuasive but… no, if your father wanted you home, he could take you back in a heartbeat.”

Lex hadn’t been worried about being taken from his adoptive home. He knew that his biological parents wanted nothing to do with him. His father was so much of a bigot he had convinced himself his perpetual girlfriend had produced the boy with another man; it was the only way he could both rationalize Lex’s status as a Neo-Sapien and sleep comfortably at night. Lance McGee refused to believe either he or Christine were NS’s.

“I’m not surprised. I coulda told those fancy pants teachers of yours you’d never cut it as a leader. You’ve got no backbone. You don’t stand up for yourself. You’re not good for anything. You’re as messed up as that skirt you’re with.”

“Don’t you dare talk about Jacquelyn like that!” Lex snarled at the man.

Lance McGee appeared before Lex then- he had come close enough to slap the boy. Lex’s powers rendered him nigh-invulnerable; pain was an unfamiliar sensation… one had lost contact with the day he ran away from the trailer park… the day he began living on the streets.

“You got bark… but no fight. The dog that tucks its tail between its legs shouldn’t bark, boy. It should be neutered or put down. Given that you’ve already been neutered…”

“You’ve got to be a figment of my imagination,” growled Lex, rubbing his jaw, “because my real dad couldn’t string together an intelligible comeback to save his life. Know why? Because he only has about three-percent brain function left. The rest he lost to hops. I may not make you proud… I may not be the way you want me to be… but I’m thankful for that. I’m not going to turn out like you. I’m going to respect the woman who loves me and work hard for her- I’m going to provide for her and give her all the things you could never give mom… like my last name. God… my name. You know, I’m thankful I don’t have your last name. I really am. I don’t think I could live with myself if I was passing your legacy onto Jacquelyn and our kids.”

Lex felt satisfaction restored as the apparition of his father retreated back into the depths of his subconscious. Slowly the darkness faded and he returned to reality.

It all set in then. There had been an explosion. He was outside with Atlanta but the others had been inside…

Anomaly’s eyes opened and he found himself lying in the rubble that had once been the home of Michuru Bradshaw. Sounds brought him around to the sight of Atlanta scavenging for any sign of the others. “Jacquelyn!” he realized, leaping to his feet and hurrying through the debris for any signs of life.

He was frantic in his search. He prayed that the others had been able to react- use their powers to cushion the magnitude of the explosion and minimize fatalities. “Ah got one!” Rumble exclaimed, removing a charred plank of wood to expose a quivering arm. With all the caution she could afford she hurriedly revealed the twitching form of Donna-Anne Manther, the high-flying New Vindicator known as Jetstream. She laid face-down in the wreckage, her arm broken and out of socket, twisted around behind her back. “She’s conscious… but she’s in shock…”

Anomaly froze as he looked down on her. Her brother’s words, Caliber’s words were evoked once more in the recesses of Lex Sway’s mind. “Promise me you’ll look after her.”

“I knew you’d screw it up,” echoed Lance McGee’s voice. “You always screw it up.”

Anomaly fell to his knees and began to cry for his charge. He had been named prefect- he was responsible for their well-being. He was their field leader. He had led them into this… he had led them to their deaths.

“Oh, Lord… she’s ontoppa Ben!” Atlanta’s eyes scanned down Ben’s still form and stopped on his leg- bone protruding from it.

“Wait!” Lex said as the Georgian-native advanced on the pair. “Are you sure you should be moving them!?”

“It’s likely Donna’s in shock from the pain,” Rumble grumbled. “We need to pop her arm back into place if we’re going to be of help to either of them.” The blonde girl planted her foot firmly against Jetstream’s back and her fingers felt down the young woman’s arm. “Ah’m sorry, doll.” With one motion she popped her arm back into socket. Her enhanced hearing became her bane then as Jetstream let out a scream that could wake the dead.

Perhaps it had. Something stirred not far off. Michuru’s ash-covered desk shot backwards; the blue-haired Lodestone was glad it was a metal surface. Given what they had just survived, Rumble ignored his taking her lord’s name in vain and continued to tend to Jetstream. “She’s going to need treatment,” Rumble said. “Do we know if we can go to the school?”

Anomaly said nothing. His eyes never left Jetstream. Atlanta wrapped her arms around her, trying to warm the girl as she rocked her back and forth. “She needs fluids and Ben need his leg set. Lex? Are we goin’ back to the school?”

“He’s froze up!” exclaimed Lodestone, throwing his hands into the air. “Great choice, everyone! Really, he’s an amazing leader… staggering decision…”

“Shut up and find the others!” barked Rumble.

A smirk appeared on Lodestone’s soot-covered face. “You’re so hot when you’re angry. Rowar.”

“Now!”

“I like it when my women take charge,” he mumbled as he moved to find the others. The explosion was drawing a crowd now. Given that the Church of Genetic Purity was patrolling the streets, it wouldn’t be long before the blast brought them too. Still, such urgent thoughts didn’t draw Lex away from the sight of Jetstream… broken and beaten.

“I got two more!” Lodestone screamed. “Jacque and… Drew!” At the sound of her name, Anomaly rushed to the blue-haired hero. She lay under Drew’s unconscious form, a wooden beam impaling him through his side. “It- it looks like he shielded her,” Lodestone said looking down at the pair. “That idiot.”

Rumble set Jetstream down beside Frostbite and made her way over to the duo. “Oh, God… is it-”

“It’s just barely scratching Jacque,” Lodestone said, prying Drew up just slightly. “That’s the good news…”

“What’s the bad news?” Rumble asked, not sure if she even wanted to know.

“I’m detecting metal inside of her,” he said. “She took some shrapnel to the back… it’s embedded in her.” Lodestone’s gloved hands touched at the pool of blood forming under her. “It’s wet… she’s bleeding pretty bad.”

Rumble grabbed the beam close to where it was piercing Drew’s stomach and with all her strength snapped it there. She knew enough not to remove the beam- a wound that size would begin bleeding so freely- she had to snap it off and have the remainder removed once they could get Copycat into surgery.

Anomaly staged backwards and tripped over the arm of another of his charges. He turned and found himself looking straight at Deimos- a jagged piece of metal jutting from his right eye.

Lex covered his ears… to shut out the sound of his father’s resounding laughter.
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CIX

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:01 pm

The doors of the hospital opened, permitting Lodestone to guide the magnetically-cobbled stretcher baring Frostbite into the emergency room. Anomaly brushed past him, holding Tripper’s still form in his arms. “I need a doctor!” he exclaimed. It sounded cliché, but he was in no position to worry about how he sounded at the moment. His only concern was for her well-being.

“What’s wrong with her?” asked a young attending, clad in light-blue scrubs. He thumped open her eyelids, peering down into her pupils before scanning the rest of her.

“There was an explosion,” Anomaly offered. “She- she was pinned and…”

“There’s some shrapnel in her abdomen,” Lodestone said, stepping forward. Though he had carried Frostbite on his powers he had helped a limping and dazed Jetstream into the emergency room. Now he slowly lowered her into a chair in the waiting room. At the sight of them the other hospital patrons reeled back in horror- they recognized the uniform of the Vindicators and given Anomaly and Lodestone’s power displays, it was obvious the group was a band of Neo-Sapiens. Not far off two officers were waiting with a man bound in handcuffs. They rose up, hands moving to draw weapons should anything escalate into a fight for survival.

Lodestone knew he could easily disarm the pair… but he was hesitant to appear even the slightest bit threatening. So long as they kept their cool, he would keep his. “My friend shielded her from the blast… he was impaled by a falling beam.” He gestured to Copycat, carried by Rumble, the last of their procession. They were short two members- two they had not found amongst the wreckage. Still, if their five wounded teammates stood any chance of survival, Fathom and Hourglass would have to get by merely on their prayers. “I think the brunt of the impact might have pushed the two and she possibly landed on some jagged metal.”

Deimos dropped into the seat beside Jetstream. His life was hardly in danger… but a jagged chunk of metal jutted from his eye. Rumble had told him to be thankful it hadn’t penetrated deeper- into the brain. Still, he couldn’t escape the inevitable: he was going to lose his eye.

A whistle had the young doctor spin around and fall into attention similar to an enlisted soldier. “Newbie!” a stone-faced doctor with two-days worth of stubble proclaimed. He jabbed his thumb towards Tripper and Copycat. “Thoooooose two could probably use surgery. Why don’t you get Gandhi on the horn and get him prepped to do whatever it is he does that actually saves people?”

“If she has shrapnel in her tummy-tum, we can’t put her through an MRI,” the young doctor explained. “Finding what’s damaged and where she’s bleeding internally is going to be a problem.”

Lodestone raised his hand and cleared his throat to reign in their attention. “I, uh, control metal… I could, help, I guess…”

“What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?” thundered another doctor. This one more aged, albeit with a less commanding presence. Still, the embroidery over his breast announced him as the chief of medicine and his agitated disposition had the New Vindicators fearing the worst. “Get the Neo-Sapiens out of here!”

“Oh, Bob-O,” began the other doctor. Before he could finish his thought, Rumble had interjected.

“We may be Neo-Sapiens,” the young woman growled, “but you’re a physician. As such, ya’ll are bound by the Declaration of Geneva. Ya’ll promised not to let considerations of age, disease, disability, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, or genetic status to intervene between your duty and your patient. Ah couldn’t give a rip what ya’ll think of us, but Ah promise you… deny muh friends medical treatment and push us out the door and the next people comin’ through are gunna be from the World Medical Association.”

“Young lady… this is a hospital, not a MASH ward! I don’t want whatever malevolent costumed creature you’ve been tangling with bursting through our doors next! Part of that declaration you so flippantly tout is that the health of my patient is to be my first consideration and at the moment I’m considering the health of all those admitted to my hospital.”

Rumble’s jaw tightened. She hadn’t expected this much of a fight to see her friends admitted. Anomaly’s face contorted and he advanced on the man. He was an intimidating sight to behold, but one that seemed not to sway the doctor. “Young man… physical threats are hardly going to get me to change my mind. My decision stands.”

“In case you haven’t noticed,” grumbled Lodestone, sweeping his hand through his long, blue hair, “the entire city is under attack. Check out the uniform, pops; we’re the good guys. No offense to the boys in blue, but their trigger-happy fingers aren’t going to cut it against the Affiliation. We’re the one who make a difference out there… and you’re the one who can make a difference in here. Start treating my team… or get prepared to treat the city.”

In true Grinch fashion, the chief of medicine’s heart grew three sizes that day. A change came over the seasoned physician as he gave the go-ahead to his medical team. “The west wing hasn’t been used in ages… we’ll put you up over there. If anything happens… it’ll be away from the patients then. Still, I can’t spare much of my staff. We’re understaffed as it is, treating the victims of the riots.” He may have been cooperative, but his voice was thick with animosity. “I’ll see what I can do though…”

“Giant!” proclaimed the chief attending, nodding towards a rotund nurse in passing. “Go find Barbie and pull her away from the latest issue of Tiger Beat.” His eyes scanned over Jetstream and stopped on Deimos. “And what happened to you? A little too into the pirate-look there, kid?” He seemed to disregard anything crude Deimos had to say as he wrangled a nurse. “Get this kid’s head scanned. I’m suuuuuure there’s plenty of damage up there but mostly we’re looking for anything relating to the spike going through his skull, m’kay?” His eyes fell on Ben then and he shook his head at the comminuted fracture. “Yeah… that leg’s gunna have to come off.” Ignoring Ben’s reaction, the doctor spouted his real orders then. “Look for crepitation and get this kid prepped for surgery. As soon as soon as Shrapnel Girl and Beam Boy get back, he’s going under.”

“I’m not really losing my leg, right?”

Scraping his thumb across his nose, as if itching it, the doctor crouched down close to Ben’s level and told it to him plain. “Here’s the heads up, big chief. “You’re going to need surgery. You’re going to need an O.R.I.F.- an open reduction internal fixation. They’re going to make an incision in your leg and align the bone and then you get a re-he-heally nifty thing called a gamma nail pinning. That’s where they take this thing that looks like a railroad spike and bolt it down with bone cement to patch you back up. It’s gunna hurt and it’s gunna take a few weeks to heal, but it’s really going to impress the ladies.”

“I have a girlfriend,” Ben said, his breathing labored as he wrestled with the pain. “She’s in a coma.”

“Well, gee, kid… I bet your just the life of the party ain’tcha? Ain’tcha!?”

Standing up straight again, the doctor stretched and shook his head, peering around the room and the strong showing on injured from around the neighborhood. The Affiliation’s attacks on Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Patriot Robotics had birthed chaos in the streets. Understaffed as the hospital was, there was hardly any way to treat so many people.

“I can help,” said the handcuffed man, assessing the residency director’s dilemma. He rose up and Anomaly’s eyes fell on the convicted villain known widely known as Bookworm.

The Department of SPB Affairs had kept the breakout at Alcatraz Island from the public eye- not wanting to cause any panic over the release of dangerous criminals. However, the New Vindicators knew all about the tragedy that occurred six months ago. It was largely due to the efforts of Silverback that most were restrained- actions which led to the man’s parole. However, it was due to the criminal mastermind Bookworm that any had escaped.

Bookworm had engineered the escape of many of the inmates- taking advantage of the situation they found themselves in when Justice invaded the prison. However, his cohorts had little use for him after they breathed freedom. That much Alabaster had confirmed when the New Vindicators apprehended him and a small group of escapees after the band abducted Doctor Natalie Styles. It appeared as though today’s riots had brought him unwanted attention and landed him back in police custody.

“Knowledge is power,” Bookworm intoned, a knowing grin spread across his ghostly face, “and my power is knowledge. I’m willing to bet that I could effortlessly help you… were I but released from this manacles.”

“What’s your price?” Lodestone asked, knowing that leverage was seldom surrendered freely.

“Your little clique got Silverback paroled. I want the same treatment. He saves lives and walks, I save lives and walk.”

“I don’t have the authority to promise that… but I’ll see what I can do.”

Bookworm held out his hands, expecting the officers to release him. He was surprised to find them release on their own- levitating off his wrists courtesy of the power possessed by the Lodestone. With a fiendish grin, he rubbed at his wrists. His eyes widened then as the handcuffs descended, locking around his ankles instead. “So you don’t get any ideas,” Lodestone said, his grin rivaling the villain’s devious smile.

Fixing the hero a hate-filled glare, Bookworm ambled towards the chief of medicine, coming up from behind the man and brushing the back of his hand against the side of the man’s face. It was the trigger for Bookworm’s ability- with a touch he drew out the knowledge he needed. In an instant, years of medical expertise processed through his cerebral cortex, congealing into knowledge of what needed to be done. His eyes scanned over the wounded heroes and instantly he diagnosed their conditions and formulated an appropriate response.

He began barking orders, steering the wounded into rooms to be properly tended to. He coordinated the medical team of the learning hospital expertly- the stolen knowledge amplified by his own superior reasoning skills. He volunteered to perform Tripper’s himself, assisted by Lodestone and his fine control over ferrous metals. With Tripper and Copycat in surgery, the medical staff moved onto Deimos, Jetstream, Frostbite. “This won’t cut,” a blonde doctor said, attempting to remove Jetstream’s uniform to tend to her wounds. “What is it?”

“It’s Kevlar,” Rumble said, crossing the room to reach her teammate. “Let me show ya’all where it fastens.”

Her departure had left Anomaly alone beside the unmanned nurses’ station. Anomaly’s eyes hadn’t left the door he had watched Bookworm spirit Tripper through. For hours he paced back and forth- only the comings and goings of the medical staff that had been sparred for the ward the young heroes now occupied. His hopes lifted as Lodestone emerged from the OR. As his jaw dropped, working to formulate anything close to a coherent statement, Magnus knew what he was seeking. “I got the shrapnel out. She’s been taken in for an MRI, to make sure there’s no internal damage.”

With a sigh, Lex leaned back against the wall, sliding down to the floor in a heap. “Any word from Doctor Styles?” Magnus asked, wringing his hands the towel he had used for his forehead. He hadn’t imagined surgery to be so stressful- to be so taxing. Lex said nothing and Magnus figured he would find out for himself.

“Anyone out there?” asked Lodestone as his fingertips touched at the communicator built into the collar of their uniforms. “Doctor Styles? Professor Alston? Mister Lang? Miss Jordan? Anyone?”

There was no response from any of their teachers- all former Vindicators. Still, he would have settled for anyone to respond to his hail. “Fathom? Hourglass? Does anyone read me?”

“They’re probably dead,” Anomaly said mournfully, the last rays of the sun piercing the layer of dust on the windows here, finding their way to him and basking him in light. “They’re dead. They’re dead and I killed them.”

Lodestone’s eyes widened in horror as Anomaly continued to make that downward spiral. Despite their differences and despite the rift Magnus’ jealousy had created, he harbored some level of respect for the man. Lex Sway was a loyal friend and devoted leader; if anything his only fault was that he was devoted to a fault. Now, in the face of such hardships, he blamed himself for everything. Their companions didn’t need him to waiver now- they needed his resolve and his guidance. They needed him… he hadn’t failed them by leading them into a trap- he had failed them by not being strong when they needed his strength most.

“No, you didn’t… I did. I- back in January, Miss Reice approached me and offered me the opportunity to join the ranks of the Affiliation. She- he- I don’t even know what to call it… It was Chimera. The whole time, Chimera was our school’s principal, recruiting the Neo-Sapiens so misguided that they were sent to the principal’s office. Maria was working as a double agent- she was part of the Affiliation, feeding me information. I knew an attack was coming, Lex. I knew they were after Adonis. I knew so much and… and Maria- Maria and I didn’t know who we could trust. She thought we could trust you and Jacquelyn. I knew we could too, I just… I was so angry that they had picked you to lead instead of me. I mean…”

Lodestone sighed and shook his head, oblivious to Anomaly’s eyes leaving the doors of the surgical ward to sadly fall on him. “When I was a kid, I was so anxious for my powers to manifest. You know how a Neo-Sapien’s powers only manifest out of necessity? I used to try to force them out. I spent the summer with my leg in a cast because of it. I missed Cindy Walker’s thirteenth birthday pool party because of it. I liked her too. What seventh grader didn’t? Even the eighth graders were into her. She was one of those early bloomers, you know? I was one of those late ones… I wanted my powers. I wanted to continue the legacy of the Lodestone.

“After it happened… I did everything I could to… to be the best hero I could be. I pushed myself to learn things. To mould myself into the best of the next generation. You can’t imagine how it felt to show up here, expecting everyone to see me as this god among men… and there you are. You were everything I fought to turn myself into and you- you never had to work for it. You never had to sweat or cry or lose sleep to become the man you are. I was jealous and I wanted all the credit for stopping the Affiliation. So I didn’t tell you. I could have stopped this, but I didn’t. It’s not your fault, Lex… it’s mine.”

Anomaly’s black fist slammed against Lodestone’s face, flinging the young man across the hall of the hospital and into a tray carrier bringing dinner to those admitted. “You wanted to see me hurt!?” snarled Lex, barreling down the hall for the young Neo-Sapien. “You know the adage!” Anomaly’s hand closed around Lodestone’s throat as he lifted the man off his knees, off his feet and off the floor. “Be careful what you wish for!”
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CX

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:02 pm

The New Vindicators had been given mere fractions of a second to respond as the bomb detonated- obliterating the apartment of Michuru Bradshaw and smoldering their chances of easily defeating the Affiliation with it. Still, in those precious moments, two had reacted. Alexandra Hawk and Cassandra Goodman were both young women with multiple names. Neither truly went by their given names- opting for Alexa and Cassie, respectively. Still, there were few on this earth Cassandra allowed to call her Sandra, sometimes Sandy. Sandra had been her mother’s mother- her aunts typically called her by the woman’s name at family reunions, weddings and funerals. She understood their need to establish the matriarch of the Richmond family as still being with them and allowed it… no matter how much she hated it.

Even still, they were both known by other names. Alexa had been codenamed Fathom, whilst Hourglass was the moniker bestowed upon Cassie. The two young women were Neo-Sapiens, humans blessed with extraordinary abilities inherited from one or both parents. Alexa was a Prime, a genetically-engineered child made from samples extracted from the DNA of Doctor Kenneth Bradley, the Vindicator once known as Doctor Splash. As such, she shared his ability to transform her body into a being of living water. Doctor Bradley’s former lover and teammate, Victoria, had been known as Miss Mist in her tenure with the Vindicators IV. Fearing the future he may be dooming the woman to, Kenneth broke things off, driving her into the arms of her former boyfriend. The two had married and birthed Cassandra and her twin brother into the world- their second and third children. Cassandra was able to transfigure every molecule in her body into a grain of sand. It was a power that she had used in that moment when all else seemed lost.

Her body lacking a substantial form she slithered through the floors of the apartment; Hourglass didn’t know where she was going- she simply intended to escape the blast. Fathom had come up with a similar idea and was hot on her heels. The two snaked their way down before the momentum of the blast brushed them, rocketing them down and flinging them beneath the building… plunging them both into the sewers.

The pair had returned to their forms just before breeching the water’s surface. Almost immediately Alexa found herself cursing the lies told by so many Saturday morning cartoons; the river of sewer water running beneath the streets held a current faster than four anthropomorphic turtles would have had her believe. Swept through the system, Alexa called upon her experience as a swimmer to keep her head above sewage.

“Cass!?” she called as she broke the surface, coughing the sludge running down her nose and into her mouth. “CASSANDRA!?!”

Flailing about, Alexa managed to grab onto a ledge. Her fingertips slipped on the hold- coated in the sludge she floundered about in. Again and again she grabbed, finally clutching a rusted foothold jutting from the wall. She scanned further down the stream, catching sight of Cassandra’s head of long brown hair bobbing out of the current. Shaking her head she let go, throwing herself back into the stream and trying to catch up to the young woman.

Her arm slipped around Cassandra’s waist and held her up. Her free hand slapped about on the surface, part for her trying to remain afloat and part for her seeking another hand-hold. She finally found one, the rung of a ladder, and struggled to reel Cassandra up with her to the surface.

The two girls emerged from the sewers and Alexa looked down at Cassandra’s still form. “I always imagined locking lips with you,” she grumbled, planting her fists into the girl’s chest to begin working the compressions. “I just never imagined you’ve have been swimming in sewage…” Alexa Hawk put her medical training to use, performing CPR on the drowned girl.

It took several minutes of work, but the girl finally vomited the sewage, hacking and gasping and looking shocked to find herself on this side of eternity. “Wh-what happened?”

“Things went ka-boom,” Fathom offered, scanning their surroundings for anything even remotely threatening. The two had emerged in the basement of a building; darkness greeted them, inviting them in further. Around them turbines whirred and generators hummed. Fathom’s eyes fell on the crates stacked against a far wall and the shipping labels still attached. Crossing the room, she read the label, sighing and shaking her head.

“What?” asked Hourglass, doing her best to brush the scum off her body. “What is it?”

“I think we’re in the lower levels of Patriot Robotics.”

Hourglass sighed and merely pressed on. They had two options: fling themselves back into the sewers or continue their way through the building. On dry land, their powers would help them to move covertly. It seemed like the best option and neither was willing to immerse themselves in sewage once more. The two changed forms, sliding under the door and into the equally empty hallway.

At the least they expected to find the lower levels littered with technicians and engineers- instead they found no one. Remerging into their human forms, the two girls eyed each other wearily. The lack of a threat only helped to put them more on guard, rendering them more uneasy. “This isn’t right,” Cassandra said, her voice a low whisper. “Shouldn’t there be people here? I mean… even on a Sunday?”

Fathom said nothing; her ears had caught something- she wasn’t sure what. Still, anything was a welcome change at this point. She signaled for her partner to be silent as she skulked about, hoping to be treated to an encore of what she had just heard. Then, there it was. “I heard it too,” said Hourglass. “It- it sounded like someone… sniffing?”

“Well, we HAVE been in sewage,” Fathom said. “It’s something more though, I know it…” The two stalked the noise, every so often something else would reach them. A moan carried through the lower levels or a meek voice muttering something inaudible. The two continued, confident they were getting closer and closer to the source…

…when an ear-splitting scream hit them.

“It’s a girl,” Hourglass said, her voice mimicking the urgency they had been suddenly imbued with. “Which way?” Fathom led the charge through the halls- the sniffing Hourglass had heard became clearer and clearer- to the point they could make it out as sniffling.

Fathom came to a stop at an enormous door, just slightly ajar. She pushed herself inside, her eyes widening and jaw dropping by what she found within the room.

Hourglass’ hands flew to her mouth as she laid eyes on the room’s single possession. There were no fixtures- nothing stored here. It was an empty room, save for the young woman lying naked on the cold, steel floor. Maria Espada was curled in a corner, shivering and with her knees pulled tight to her chest. Her dark flesh was tainted with bruises and shallow cuts; a purple welt stared out at them from the side of her face. “Loess?” Fathom asked softly. The young woman cringed at the onset of their voices. “Maria, it’s… it’s Alexa. What happened?”

At her touch Maria screamed and pulled her knees in tighter, as if attempting to hide inside herself. As she shifted, Hourglass’ eyes fell on the dried blood between her legs. “She’s been raped,” Cassandra said, putting a hand on Alexandra’s shoulder to still her from evoking another scream.
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXI

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:03 pm

“Who did this!?” Alexa thundered. “Did the Affiliation do this to you?”

Maria began to choke on a marriage of tears and snot, rolled down her cheeks and nostrils and into her mouth. “It’s not important,” Hourglass said. “We have to get her out of here. Go… go find a blanket or something. We need to get her covered-”

“My uniform,” Fathom said. “I can shift to my other form and-”

“And how do you propose we get her into a skin-tight bodysuit? We need a blanket. Go!”

Fathom only nodded and made her way out of the room. She slipped through the halls, slowly making her way around each and every corner. Just because she and Hourglass had yet to run into any personnel, didn’t mean they wouldn’t. Besides, there was always the change Maria’s attacker would return.

Reacting to echoing footfalls, Fathom slipped into her aquatic form and vanished into the ventilation system. Not waiting to see who was coming, she hurried through the pipes- determined to warn Hourglass that the girls were about to have company. She hurried, necessity carried her and drove her on faster. She found an opening; she could hear someone on the other side. Assuming her friends, she plunged through the vent and returned to her other form.

All the shock she had felt upon finding Maria paled in comparison to the sight before her.

In each corner, what looked like wood-burning stoves hummed and gave off a dull, muted light that cascaded the room in an odd orange hue. It was part from the glow and part from the solution the tank she faced was filled with.

Inside the tank was a little boy- his head just above the solution’s surface. His body was supported by a metal rigging, like a shower rack just keeping him immersed in the odd fluid, but keeping his head out. Wires ran down from the lid of the tank, penetrating his skin. Those tubes and wires had been in him so long, his flesh had begun to knit itself together around them… and up them. Those cables were now more than a life support system- they were a part of his very being.

The child was awake and aware. He regarded Fathom curiously, as if attempting to decide what she was. Assuming a child incapable of posing a threat, she advanced towards the tank… and spoke to him. “Hi,” she said nervously. “My name’s Alexa. What’s yours?”

Her greeting seemed only to confuse the child. “What is Alexa?”

“It- it’s me,” she offered. “It’s my name. What’s your name?”

This two seemed to confuse the boy. “Name?”

“Aside from myself, you’re the first person he has ever met.” Alexa spun around and registered the face as belonging to Noah Meinstein, one of the five heads of Patriot Robotics. As the senior class of Eleanor Roosevelt High School had toured Patriot Robotics, there wasn’t a one of them who didn’t know Noah Meinstein, Touya Noguchi, Wayne Bruce, Lawrence Snell or Amanda Halcyon. They were the five people who called the shots at Patriot Robotics… but as Noah’s grandfather had laid the foundation for such a giant… he was seen as the company’s leader.

“This is… a girl,” he said patiently to the child. “You remember daddy telling you that you were a boy? Girls are like… the antithesis of what a boy is.”

“What’s his name?” Fathom asked.

“He doesn’t have one. The concept of names was never taught to him. As far as he knows, there is only daddy and his little boy. I would have liked to have kept it that way.”

“Your own son!?” Fathom snarled.

Noah shook his head. “No… not my son. Daddy and his little boy. I’ve made no attempt to coax the child into believing that there is a connection between him and I.”

“Who’s son is he then? You- you didn’t abduct someone’s child, did you?”

Noah smiled, as if he found Alexa’s line of questioning humorous. “In some ways… I suppose you could consider him your brother, Alexandra. You- you’re Alexandra Hawk, yes? You’re a Prime- a created being. Project: PRIME existed to create Neo-Sapiens. They manufactured creatures like yourself, raised them, trained them, and then turned them into a commodity. This boy is a Prime… one of three I created myself. He has two identical brothers- backups, rather. You’re very special, miss Hawk… but they’re even more special. They weren’t created from a Neo-Sapien’s genes… but from the genes of a Nephilim. Further… I’ve managed to contain the abilities granted.”

“What are you talking about?”

“When a Nephilim has a child… their abilities are passed on, but in a new medium. Assume for a second that… there is a Nephilim who’s hellfire grants him a level of telekinesis. He envelopes matter in hellfire and is then able to move objects. Now, his child may be able to move objects with their mind… but not conjure the hellfire.”

“Neo-Sapiens,” Fathom realized.

“Exactly. Neo-Sapiens are just a byproduct of Nephilim mating with normal humans- maybe with each other. Nephilim are the fathers of Neo-Sapiens, just as Neo-Sapiens have sired Primes. I wonder what this little boy will go on to create? What new being will you conceive, Alexandra?”

“How do you know all this? How do you know me?”

“An undertaking like Project: PRIME requires start-up capital. Who do you think funded the project?”

Fathom snarled at the man. He had been the reason she had been forced to carry out those missions- running supplies and acting as support to her mercenary brethren. He was the thief who had stolen her right for a normal, natural childhood.

“This little boy… a Nephilim made from a Nephilim. He was made after you all were however- but before the New Vindicators destroyed the schoolhouse. For years, the government had one in their custody. They saw so much potential in him and so did I- albeit on a different scope. They looked at his powers and abilities and saw a perfect soldier, if he could ever master his wild talents. The government gave him to me for a time… before deploying him in the wake of the sixth team’s disbanding. This child, like his backups, was made from cells I extracted from Michuru Bradshaw… the most destructive force on this earth.” Noah grinned fiendishly to Alexandra, turning to expose his missing right eye to the woman. “This is my contingency.”

For once, Fathom was unable to form words. Noah’s grin vanished, his single eye scanned the area around them. “It’s not safe here… the Affiliation is here- they’ve come for the child. They know what he can do.”

“What can he do?”

“Michuru Bradshaw’s latent ability is white hellfire- manifested as an exo-skeleton. In his armored form, he has tremendous strength and power- but that armor… that force field is what I duplicated. This child alone has enough power to contain all of New York City in an impenetrable barrier.”

“He’s maintaining the Force Field!?” Fathom snarled.

“Not him! His brother!”

“We have to stop him!”

“We can’t! The only way to stop it is to kill the child!”

“We have to!” growled Fathom.

“No!” Noah screamed. He lunged at Fathom, closing his hands around her throat. Fathom converted to her other form and slipped out of his hands, recombining away from him. “No, you- you don’t understand! We can’t kill them!”

“We have to do something!”

“We have to crush the Affiliation! If I can regain control… things will be different. I- I can calm the child and shut down the barrier. We don’t need to kill them… We need them. We- I- I can get you out. Yes, you- you’ll never get out of here alone. I’ve managed to elude them up until now. I know how to get out and I can- I can get you outside!”

“If you could leave whenever you wanted, why would you stay?” she asked, suspicious of another attempt on her life.

“Because,” he said simply, flashing her a toothy grin, “daddy has to stay with his little boys.”
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXII

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:04 pm

Between 42nd and 53rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan sits the neighborhood of Turtle Bay. It rests on the banks of the East River, just across from Roosevelt Island. In its conception, it was commercially developed, stocked full of slaughterhouses, shipyards, cattle pins and railroad piers. It was nearly destroyed during the Civil War, courtesy of the New York Draft Riots. It was rebuilt, and today is home of the United Nations Headquarters.

The United Nation is an organization that focuses its efforts in social progress and human rights issues. Amongst the assemblies and councils established by the United Nations exists the Department of SPB Affairs- a branch of the organization dedicated to working in situations involving Super-Powered Beings. One of their many acts had been the New Vindicators Academy- three schools positioned around the world, dedicated to training young Neo-Sapiens in a safe environment.

Roosevelt Island’s location across the river from the United Nations was the reason it was chosen as the location for the first academy. However… it made it a quick trip for one young man, burdened with a great and terrible ambition.

In simple motorboats Adonis shipped his selected across the East River, delivering them to the shore of Turtle Bay. From there… it was a short march to UN Plaza.

The guards were in position, guarding their delegates from the threat of the riots ravaging the city. Still, the Talos Agents supplied by the Department of SPB Affairs were prepared to engage Neo-Sapiens in combat. They were not prepared to deal with demonic entities torn from another realm.

The hellhounds summoned by Pandora were something of a gift given to her by her father. For starters, as a Nephilim, Pandora had inherited her mastery over the energy known as hellfire. In the new age, the age of heroes begun at the end of World War II, Pandora was the first to emerge in the public eye with such powers. Her ability to use that energy to call upon the fiends was how it became known as hellfire- the people imagined that she literally tore the beasts from the side of the devil himself.

They were close.

As Pandora’s pets tore the throats through the armored bodysuits the Talos wore, she lead their procession through the field littered with flailing, screaming figures. Adonis’ eyes never touched them. His eyes were set on the road before him… on where he was going.

Okami, Tide and Tusk kept the delegates they had gathered within the chambers of the General Assembly, letting none out but permitting Adonis and his group to pass. “I’m taking the floor,” Adonis said, barely regarding Rift or Blitzkrieg as he made his way to the podium. One seemed anxious… and the other nervous.

Adonis didn’t strong arm any dignitaries to secure their attention; he merely cleared his throat and a hush dawned across the room. “Leaders of the world,” he said, his voice regal as he addressed the diplomats. He paused then and found himself unable to keep a straight face anymore. He began to snicker and shake his head at those present. “Leaders of the world you say? OPPRESSORS OF THE INNOCENT! You confuse yourselves within these walls, bickering over the pettiest of disputes! You watch while millions of children starve! You talk while millions die from disease! You persecute those whose nationality, faith, skin colour or genetics are different from your own! An inevitable union was what we dreamed would come- but born from the ashes was the result of your shared terror and years of holding us back!

“Oppressors of my kind… I stand before God and man, chosen by destiny to unleash the very powers you fear and hate. I am a Neo-Sapien and I have had enough. This is the final act of my concerto against your tyranny. This inevitable moment will transpire before your eyes, even as this Vindicator bears witness to it!”

Adonis snapped his fingers and Michuru was dragged to his feet and paraded to the floor. With all Blitzkrieg’s strength, he was made to kneel before Adonis. “Of what consequence are you now?” he asked. “This planet… these people… they are nothing to me! The universe is power, Mister Bradshaw; pure, unstoppable power and I am that force. I am the power. Kneel before you master, fool! You are no longer my teacher. I am more than man, more than life…

“I am a god.”

Stockholm took her cue and removed her gloves. Her hands gently clasped over Michuru’s temples… and she began to hold on.

She had always seen her powers as a curse, but the Affiliation looked upon her abilities as a blessing. Flesh to flesh contact allowed Aurora Leigh to override the consciousness of any other being, replacing it with her own. She lacked control- she could not turn her powers off in the way most could. She was denied physical contact as a result- least she overpower their psyche and rewrite it with her own.

When Adonis had learned of her powers, he realized what it meant for him. He had a control over those who found him attractive. He could deplete their common sense, strip them of their will, and reign them in under his control. With a look they became fanatical followers… but there was a catch: it only worked on those who found him attractive. It generally only worked on women.

Stockholm could remake Michuru’s mind and leave only her own psyche. She could turn Michuru into a puppet he could control. She was the key to making Michuru’s powers- the very abilities that the world believed had defeated Atlas five years ago –under Adonis’ thumb.

Rift looked on with glee. As per their arrangement, Adonis could use Michuru as a weapon and he would turn him over to her when not using the man to strike against their oppressors. She and Adonis both had so much riding on Stockholm’s abilities… but they hadn’t counted on Michuru’s powers.

When he was happy- he could control the air around him. When he was sad or hurt the earth moved as he willed it. If he was calm he could manipulate the flow of water and when he was angry flames erupted from his flesh and raged out of control. However, if he felt nothing… if he was dead inside, then something else took over.

Stockholm had suppressed his consciousness… and replaced it with something nobody had counted on.

“Now then,” said Adonis. “Michuru… I want you to look at me.”

Michuru’s head raised and his eyes opened- seeping a white energy from them. His body was a hollow husk, an infinite well of energy similar to Pandora’s own hellfire. His jaw dropped and ceased to move, though from the open hole came a choir of voices, all speaking at once. “הנּפלים,” sang the voices. “בני האלהים.”

“Oh, God…” Adonis managed, backing away from the man and looking from Rift to Michuru. “What- what is it?”

Rift shook her head. She had not been present the only other time this being had taken over Michuru. Michuru sniffed the air, as if sensing something. He locked on it, spinning around and reaching for Pandora.

His arm became enveloped in white hellfire, extending outward and tipped with claws. That hand grew and closed around Pandora’s body. She opened her mouth to scream- only steam escaped as she lost consciousness. Those present watched as a black taint flowed within the shell forming around Michuru, navigating up his body and swirling around his head. The armor continued to form, and Adonis knew he had to get as far away as he could.

“Michuru!” Rift screamed, moving to embrace him, to attempt to soothe the beast. His arms swung to attack her and in an instant Blitzkrieg was between them.

She appeared not to regard Blitzkrieg- only Adonis, her key to all she wanted. “Where are you going? You have to control him!”

“He’s become something else… we need something else to control him. We need Chimera!”

“What good will that do!?” thundered Rift, abandoning Blitzkrieg to Michuru’s mercy and hurrying after Adonis.

“Michuru doesn’t know what you did to Doctor Styles. Chimera should be able to pose as him, perhaps evoke some level of his consciousness.”

“But then we can’t control him!” Rift thundered.

“You moron… you saw what he became when Stockholm touched him! We can’t control Michuru! We have to stop him! God help us, Breanne… we’ve unleashed a monster.”
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXIII

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:06 pm

Fathom couldn’t believe her eyes.

Noah Meinstein was on his knees, begging forgiveness from the being that had materialized before them. He was an imposing figure- hardly a physical threat, but something about his essence radiated an authority unlike any they had ever known.

He wore faded blue jeans and black flip-flops, a tuxedo shirt with a Texas bow-tie and a cowboy hat resting on his mop of dirty-blonde hair. In his hands however burned a sword- one he had created with less than a thought. He had merely moved his hand and there it was- a blade shimmering with a light unlike any they had known. The energy signature was so like that belonging to Deimos… yet the colour was so different. Deimos’ energy was black.

This man’s was white.

“You are an abomination,” he said, pointing the sword at Noah Meinstein. “You have done horrible, wicked things. You have manipulated people into doing what you required. You have told lies and steered people with misconception. You have hidden yourself and operated from the shadows. There are so many sins attributed to your name… and yet… I am unfit to be your judge.”

That sword vanished and the man knelt. Fathom was shocked to see six bones jutting from the man’s back- cleaved near his flesh. He had once had more appendages- appendages that had long ago been amputated. “I have always believed that we all should leave the judgments for someone much more qualified… but yet, that is not my only reason. I have done all that you have… all in the name of my own misguided justice. I move now with a new purpose. I move to undo what has been done… to salvage what I can of this miserable situation. I pray you do the same.”

The man turned then, regarding Fathom, Hourglass and Loess with a bow of his head. “Young ladies… I pray you will come with me. There is still much to do, and I am afraid explanations must wait. You have no reason to trust me… but I beg you to do so.”

He did not wait for their answer- urgency outranked courtesy. He had appeared in an instant and he vanished in likewise a manner- rematerializing with the trio of girls in the streets of New York, startling the small band of heroes who moved with just as much purpose. “Lodestone!” Fathom exclaimed happily.

“Maria!” the red-haired Lodestone said with a voice filled with relief.

“Alicia!” Hourglass cheered.

“Quint!” the Gumshoe exclaimed, feeling slightly left out of the mix.

“Gumshoe!” proclaimed Quint with just as much enthusiasm.

“Quint?” asked Hourglass, raising an eyebrow at his presence. “Wait- what’s going on here?”

The man who had teleported them knelt before the Outcasts and provided them the same rehearsed explanation he had the others. Then, without so much as another word, he teleported the group once more- this time appearing in a closed off wing of a nearby hospital.

“Cease this fighting!” the man exclaimed, waving his hand. Suddenly, the man and Amalgam had vanished, reappearing behind the group, further away from the blue-haired Lodestone. “Now is not the time for this, Alexander!”

“Wait- how did you do that?” Fathom asked. “What’s going on here? Who are you?”

“Where is Drew?” the man asked, ignoring her questions, as well as those the other New Vindicators posed. “Where is Drew Jenkins? Is he not with you?”

“Sir?” Anomaly asked, his breathing changing as he fought to regain control over his emotions. “Sir, I’m not sure who you are… but you knew where to find us. I assume you must know what happened to us as well?”

“I can track you… I am far from omnipresent.”

“What are you!?” thundered Fathom. “You told us to trust you but… you haven’t told us anything. You’ve just popped up and brought us together…”

“Men know me as Sam White, owner and proprietor of White Pawn… a pawn shop here in the Burroughs. I am afraid that is a guise I have used to remain close to my children- to oversee their directions and ensure something like this didn’t happen.”

“Something like what? You’re not making any sense here, Mister White.”

Sam White looked at Anomaly sadly, and knew the truth had to come out. “My name is Samael… and I have seen things the likes of which your meager reckoning could not hope to comprehend. I have seen the birth of man upon this earth. I have witnessed great moments in the history of all creation. I am a seraphim- one of the highest order of angel that exists. At least… I was. I am a fallen angel. I am one of the Fallen.”

The young heroes seemed to regard him suspiciously. It was obvious that few were accepting his claims- he not only had revealed his true origin, but that what so many of them had once heard in Sunday school might actually hold a ring of truth to it.

“I’m- I’m not evil… no, if I had truly fallen into the darkness, my flame would have changed colours.” He conjured a white flame and extinguished it in his grasp. “All seraphim are capable of channeling this energy… but those who fell, the other six? Their flame changed colors. Astaroth’s is now red while Semyazza’s is green. Leviathan’s is blue and Asmodeus’ blazes yellow. Abbadon’s is black. Their children are born with the same power- albeit with less intensity. Pandora? Deimos? They are half-siblings. Their mothers slept with Abaddon… likely changed shape to appear more pleasing. It’s what he does best.”

“You said six… but that’s only five. Who’s the other Fallen?” Anomaly asked.

“Satan,” Samael breathed reluctantly. “He wields purple hellfire- the colour of kings.”

He had expected them to not take such news easily- but the scream still shook him. He spun around, shocked to find the cry sounding from Maria Espada. Wrapped in blankets, she stood huddled against Hourglass. Magnus, her boyfriend, had reformed himself and approached her- intent to hold her as they heard Samael’s tale. At his touch, she had panicked… and Fathom was forced to explain what had happened to her.

Accompanied by a worried Lodestone, Hourglass slipped out of the group, steering Loess into a hospital bed and summoning some of the medical staff they had been provided.

“The others are content to mate at their whim. They have so many children… I have had but for a few. In this age… I have had two children. I met a young woman many years ago and in a night of passion we created a child. His name is Michuru Bradshaw and at this very moment the powers I gave him are raging out of control. As such, it falls on you and I to do what we can. It will not be easy.

“I have feared this day would come. I- God, forgive me –I put various contingencies into place. In this form he has taken, Michuru’s only weakness is his own power. White hellfire is all that can hurt him now. Aside from myself, there are two others capable of this… three if you count the monstrosities in Noah Meinstein’s breeding pits. The first is Michuru’s sister.”

“Wait- Mister Bradshaw has a sister?”

“A half-sister. About two decades ago, I met a woman… she was a young attorney, working on her first murder case. I seduced her and she carried my seed. I would like very much not to involve my daughter though. Instead… I ask we use the other I put into play. Where is Drew Jenkins?”

“Wait- what?”

“Many months ago, Drew Jenkins was in my shop… Drew is not a Neo-Sapien. His powers come from me. I empowered him with his abilities and steered him on a path that would put him here… where I knew he may one day be needed. I didn’t expect this day to come so soon.”

“Drew’s not a Neo-Sapien?”

“You did what?”

“Hold on…”

“None of this makes sense!”

“Holy frick!”

“Back the truck up,” Rumble said. “Ya’ll mean to tell us that… Deimos is the Anti-Christ and you gave Drew his powers? Plus, you’re an angel and Mistuh Bradshaw’s daddy and he’s causin’ a big racket right now and we gotta take him down?”

“Deimos is far from the Anti-Christ,” Samael said. “Satan hasn’t mated yet. He’s too in love with himself and too repulsed by humanity to debase himself by making love with a human.”

“Yeah,” Fathom grumbled, “because that totally makes sense.”

“Satan hates humans,” Samael growled. “Why do you think he fell from grace in the first place?”
Next Up! wrote:The story jumps six thousand years into the past as we meet the Gibborim, the world's first super-team. Led by Samael's child and Michuru's half-brother, Aryan's story begins to unfold as a precursor to the destruction to come...
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Post by Michuru81 » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:12 pm

Salutation and hello.

As you're undoubtedly aware, the Atomic Think Tank was down for a while. I have the habit of posting dailies of this story. Thing is, I post dailies to numerous other sites as well. It would stink to not have everyone on the same page so... I played a little catch up.

Parts CIV (104) - CXIII (113) have been posted. You can start reading the new stuff HERE and avoid possibly catching a spoiler scrolling up.

I'm going to avoid posting over the weekend, to allow anyone time to read at their leisure. So, expect three posts come Monday. As usual, questions, comments and complaints are welcome. Oh, and yes- the medical staff is who you think it is.
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXIV

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:29 pm

Avarice and envy, gluttony and lust, wrath and sloth- they are but six of the seven deadly sins. The gravest of them however, is pride. According to the old saying, “pride goes before the fall.”

Pride was the reason for the fall.

He was once known as Lucifer- a name which translates to “light-bearer”. He was the morning star, one of the more beloved amongst his choir. He was beautiful… disturbingly beautiful. The Creator doted on him as well, clothing him in a robe of all the precious gems of the earth. Still, there was more to him than majesty. Lucifer was intelligent and his power was unmatched amongst all the angels in heaven. He was second only to God Himself.

God created man in his own image… and that man he presented before his angels. With a powerful mandate, God declared that all the choirs would acknowledge man by bowing before him. They weren’t told to worship- merely to prostrate themselves beneath this new being. Only Lucifer in his pride refused to kneel and instead… he built himself a throne and raised it to the height of God’s own seat.

His brethren were astonished, reading into his intent to make himself equal to the Creator. As the beautiful being smirked at his deed, he was flung from Heaven and his wings were cleaved from his body.

He was not alone in his act. Thousands of angels flocked with him- catching him as he plummeted for the earth. Each in turn was stripped of their ability to fly, cast down to the earth and the realm beyond it. They had fallen out of their stubborn pride… and were eternally denied the paradise they had once known nothing but.

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Still, mankind flourished across the earth. Years passed by and God, fearing what Lucifer and his armies would do, posted a squadron of angels to watch over mankind. The Grigori were also tempted to the Fallens’ side, due to the prodding of Semyazza, and they defected en masse. They married the humans, producing fiendish cambion. They corrupted humanity, teaching them to make metal weapons, astronomy, precognition, arcane talents… they taught men everything humanity was never meant to know.

They mated with the daughters of man… and gave rise to the Nephilim.

Aryan’s fingers closed around the air and instantly his great sword blazed into existence. He wielded it deftly- the youth was a natural swordsman. He said nothing as he fought the brothers- Barbatos and Aamon charged for him while the other two reeled from the blows the blonde-headed youth had delivered them. As Rashaverak got to his feet, the children used the opportunity to escape. Sons of Astaroth, the four brothers were Aryan’s cousins and he felt responsible for them. He refused to stand idly by anymore and watch them do as they would. He knew why they were wrangling every young boy the village had.

Aryan had been on the receiving end of their sodomy once and he refused to let any others know their brand of love.

The white sword cleaved open Pruslas’ chest and a spray of blood cascaded over Aamon and Babatos. The two staggered from their own blows; Aryan didn’t waste time or energy on any unnecessary movement. He knew the flow of combat well and every move he took with his sword had a purpose. As Pruslas toppled to the ground, the feral dogs the brothers kept as half-starved pets lunged on him, chomping to feast on his flesh. “I am not dead yet!” he snarled. From his wound came an eruption of red hellfire, flinging the mongrels off of him.

“Your father is supposed to be the epitome of sloth,” Aryan said as he thrust his sword into Rashaverak’s stomach. “Ironic that his sons would put up this much of a fight.”

The sword exploded inside the Nephilim’s body and a white stream of flame rocketed from Aryan’s palm- running between his hands. He pulled his arms apart and the line of white fire tore and whipped back, forming two swords. The twin blades were considerably smaller than the giant cleaver he had been swinging about- however, he could use any blade at a master’s level. His cousins had been taught only to imbue the world with chaos and evil- his father had taught him to fight as the angels did… that he might hold his own against them.

Aryan bowed and thrust the swords over his head- stabbing one through Aamon’s neck and the other buried deep into Barbatos’ chest. The two fiends screamed as they toppled to the ground. Not a one of the four brothers was in any condition to continue to fight. Still, the brothers kept their spirits. They spat at him- knowing full well that Aryan would show them mercy. He wouldn’t finish them. Aryan didn’t believe in killing.

Seeing them down, Aryan relaxed his grip and the swords dissipated. “You never kill them,” Raphael said, shaking his head at Aryan’s display of perceived weakness. “They won’t learn from this. They’ll only come back.”

“You have nothing better to do than watch me and make despairing comments,” Aryan said, barely regarding the angel as he did so. “If you are so against my leaving them alive, why not finish them yourself?”

“Were it I the one who bested them.”

“Tell me something, Raphael… you are a Grigori- charged to watch mankind. You’ve seen what the Nephilim are doing. Why do you do nothing to stop it?”

“Grigori means ‘watcher’, my friend. Watching is my appointed role. Speaking of which, I watched you fight the Tarasque a week ago. Beautiful swordsmanship; you’re getting better- if that’s possible.”

“I prefer fighting the chaotic one’s children. Leviathan the twisted… he’s certainly not the schemer Asmodeus is, but… perhaps his directness makes him all the more dangerous. Still… Tarasque murdered his own mother- a woman named Onachus.”

“And yet you left him alive- ensuring he could come after someone else when he is recovered and ready!”

“I don’t believe in killing them, Raphael.”

“What DO you believe in, Aryan?”

To that, Aryan said nothing.

“One of Abaddon’s children is rising up in the west- building himself as a god among men. He’s calling himself ‘Apocatastasis’ and he’s preaching that all men will have to reconcile and return to him as he- he claims to be the originator of all existence.”

“Wonderful.”

“It gets better… he’s been to the north. He’s returned from Hyperborea.”

Aryan’s eyes widened with horror. “He- he what?”

“You know what that means.”

“One of the Nephilim… has eaten an apple. He’s become an Æsir.”

The earth shook then and the people screamed, fearing what would befall them now. Reacting fast, his sword had blazed into existence once more- though he could not see any opponent. “You see!?” thundered Raphael. “You left Tarasque alive and he’s come to fight again!”

“No… that- that was something else.” Aryan’s eyes scanned the distance, but he could see nothing. “Raphael… can you- can you find out what happened for me?”

Raphael’s features seemed to melt, congealing into an orb of light that dispersed- every particle fading into nothingness. Something huge had happened. Something extraordinary had occurred. Somehow, Aryan felt as though God’s hand were involved… the Son of Samael’s prayers had been answered.
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Michuru81
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXV

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:30 pm

One year after the earth shook so violently, they had come.

One year after Aryan had traversed into the far-off distance, they had come.

One year after all hell had broken loose in Midearia- after the rumors of Apocatastasis began to spread… One year after the man’s terrible charisma easily swayed man to his flock, one year after he had begun to travel the country, uniting the sons of Adam in his campaign to spread his glory… they had returned.

They called it Atlantis and they called themselves the Gibborim.

Atlantis was a flying island, fashioned from the meteorite that had slammed into a far off nation. Men would later find the crater fashioned by it and dub it the Chicxulub Crater. At more than six miles in diameter, it had released over a million times the explosive force of the most powerful device mankind would ever detonate. It was powered, largely, by an odd mineral.

When meteorites hit, it was not uncommon for the impact to create tektite. Considered the driest element in existence, tektite is formed under incredible heat and pressure. Only such a cataclysmic blast could have created a sort of hyper-tektite… a sort of liquid glass. As he arrived, Aryan had found the mineral made him sick and dampened his abilities. It was a natural poison for the Nephilim… one that could not harm any others.

Aryan had been the first to arrive… but he had not been the last. Several others had ventured off to investigate that which made the entire planet tremble. The brothers from Hyperborea, Thor and Baldr, looked on at the great rock with wonder. They had been guided their by their wise ally and friend, Mímir.

Two others joined them- the man known simply as Joseph had an unexplained ability to manipulate time and no clue of his origins. As he understood it, he had just simply existed one day- he lacked a childhood and an adolescence. He simply had become and he was so willing to accept such a creation.

Lastly came their greatest aid. His name was Aurelius and he was a man who had penned all that the Grigori had unlawfully told mankind. All the forbidden knowledge was transcribed into a tome he called the Book of the Grigori… a book he had studied for years. His magic and Mímir’s wisdom helped to forge the meteorite into a mobile fortress from which they could combat the evils of the world.

They called themselves Men of Great Renown. They called themselves heroes. They became the Gibborim.

They attacked with a purpose and they struck with a vengeance. It was not their motive… it was one of the most base of human instincts. For so long the Nephilim had run amok, terrorizing humanity.

Their time was over.

Aurelius’s voice echoed over the lands as he recited an incantation in the Language of the Birds. Lightning flew from his fingertips and struck at the Tarasque. His head, resembling that of a lion, roared as the electricity coursed over his body. He swayed on the spot, struggling to maintain himself on his two legs. His four arms- like those a bear –slashed through the air and found Baldr. Still, his impenetrable skin could not be broken. It was his gift- the power he had received the day he feasted on a golden apple. His brother swung his hammer down and missed. Swinging around to face Aryan, Tarasque’s scorpion-like tail collided with Thor and hurled him backwards and into Baldr.

Everything stopped. The behemoth’s swing was frozen, inches from Aryan. The brothers’ bodies were suspended in the air. Aurelius’ hands were frozen, a spark of a flame etched into reality, right on his fingertips. With all the time in the world, Joseph moved about. He pulled Aryan back, estimating that the young man would be out of the beast’s reach. He righted the brothers, placing them in what he perceived as prime striking positions. Aurelius he left alone. He had fought alongside the other Gibborim enough to know that the man was evoking a jet of flame to fly from his hand and seer the turtle-shell clad back of their titanic foe.

For a flash of a moment, he cursed himself for his lack of strength. It would take more than Joseph possessed to turn Tarasque to catch Aurelius’ flame in his face. Inspiration struck suddenly. If he could not move the monster, he could surely move his friend.

Standing back to admire his work, he allowed the flow of time to return over the area. The Aurelius’ blast exploded into Tarasque’s eyes and Aryan easily dodged the beast’s attack. Baldr and Thor wasted only a moment to grin to each other before tackling the monster; they registered what had happened and were grateful for the time lord’s presence.

Aryan’s hand closed around his great blade, forged of white hellfire. His other hand hefted the hilt, bringing the sword over his head and then down in a massive slash that forever scared the demonic offspring.

Tarasque staggered backwards and his four arms were grabbed by the brothers, pulling him backwards and throwing him on his shell.

His scorpion tail flailed to attack any of them. He knew as well as they did that with his underbelly exposed as it was… he was done for. Without a word, Aryan flew up, climbing the skies on glistening wings composed of ethereal energy, and spiraled down for a final slash.

Raphael stood not far off, watching the people cheer as Mímir piloted Atlantis to the earth. The brothers hefted the heavy creature to its feet, dragging him up and into the fortress’ entrance. He would be jailed in a room that sapped him of his powers and of his strength. He would be contained with so many others the Gibborim had sundered from society.

Tarasque would never threaten Aybera again.

Not far off still, a lone man watched from a mountain side. They were all like specs of dirt in the distance from where he watched… but he knew what had happened. It was unlikely that the Gibborim had lost. Word had spread of them through the land… the news of their great deeds were turning his followers away.

Apocatastasis watched them take another of his cousins into their collective and he grinned. They weren’t protecting humanity… the Gibborim were building him an army…
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Michuru81
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
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NEW VINDICATORS: Radix Malorum Est Cupiditas, Part CXVI

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:33 pm

The stone wall of Atlantis ruptured as Baldr’s struggling form was thrust through. His legs kicked as he was dangled miles over the great span of desert. Until moments ago, he had been keen to be released from the villain’s clutches. Now, all that held him aloft was the mighty grasp of Apocatastasis. “Your flesh may be unbreakable,” the tyrant said, pronouncing each word slowly; he truly enjoyed watching the hero struggle. “But your other defenses are… well…” With his free hand, Apocatastasis touched Baldr’s forehead and sent a jolt of psionic energy piercing through his cerebral cortex.

The Æsir fell limp and was released. His body twisted and turned, pelted by the winds he sundered in his freefall. Apocatastasis was unconcerned with his fate and turned his back to the window he had created, ignoring the sight of Aryan diving in to rescue his companion.

Aryan knew what would happen if he got too close to Atlantis. It was made of the same material that imprisoned his cousins- dampening their powers and sapping their strength. It was what made them so docile- so easily contained. It had failed to work on Apocatastasis however. The man had consumed a golden apple on his journey to the northern continent of Hyperborea. He was more than a Nephilim, he was an Æsir. He was immune to the tektite that poisoned their kind.

He called himself a god… perhaps he wasn’t far off.

At the footfalls of the giant, Thor looked up. He lay in a pool of blood- not his own, but the blood of his father’s ally and friend. Mímir, the architect of their fortress and their tactical advisor, had been decapitated by the behemoth in one swift swing with his glowing black sword. The blade was every bit as long as he was tall- seven and a half feet in length. He swung it so deftly, as if its great size was no hindrance to him.

Apocatastasis had slain Mímir and drank deeply from Gjallarhorn- the container of Mímisbrunn. It was those waters which imbued Odin with the wisdom of the ages and that very sagely power was now possessed by the demon of a man.

Shouldering his massive blade, Apocatastasis let lightning crackle between his fingertips and rained it down on Thor. The man cried out, reaching for Mjolnir and struggling to keep his grip on consciousness; he had figured out what power the monster possessed. He knew he had to stop him before their situation grew worse.

Too late… Joseph had arrived. “Stay back!” Thor exclaimed. “His ability-”

“Shush, boy,” growled the Nephilim, “you’ll spoil the surprise.”

To Joseph’s eyes time slowed. He would be able to see the man’s movements as he thought them- he could easily counter him in a fight. He could duck and roll around each blow and counter accordingly. Then, Apocatastasis sped up and the two moved about in a world of frozen time. Joseph understood now- just how the man had been so invincible when they initially faced him. Apocatastasis possessed the powers of those nearest him. By coming within his range, Joseph had imbued the villain with the very control over time.

Joseph and Thor were not alone in their realizations however. Another had assessed the man’s abilities and knew how best to counter them. The Aurelius wielded primal forces of magic- a talent that was learned and not genetic as with his companions. Apocatastasis could not mimic such a trait. The only problem was that with Joseph’s presence, Apocatastasis possessed uncanny speed and reflexes as well as mastery over the flow of time. Fighting him would be a difficult thing so long as he remained close to Joseph. “Forgive me!” the Aurelius proclaimed before uttering the incantation that would save them all and possibly stop Apocatastasis.

Joseph was teleported outside of Atlantis- miles away and far above the earth’s surface. As he faced death, he smiled… and his prayers were with his companions. Atlantis no longer in sight, he was too far out of reach for Aryan to perform another rescue. In an instant, Joseph met the earth and passed into eternity…

…and in another instant he reformed elsewhere, with no memory of what all that had experienced with the Gibborim. He knew only that his name was Joseph and that he commanded time. He traced his memory for any other fragment of knowledge…

Chronus Aeon was as eternal and unending as time itself.

“You were a fool to cast aside Baldr!” the Aurelius boomed. “You’ve no protection but your own hide, tyrant!” With a wave of his hand, energy cascaded through the span between hero and villain and collided with the Nephilim. Apocatastasis seemed to feel nothing. “Preposterous!” the magus bellowed. “You shouldn’t have-”

“How many Nephilim did you imprison here?” Apocatastasis snarled. “How many different people with how many different talents did you lock away in this flying fortress? Ask yourselves that… and then ask yourself just how far my reach extends.”

“Madness!” boomed the Aurelius.

Apocatastasis’ arm extended outward and his claw-like fingertips shattered through the elder’s chest, erupting out his back. Thor looked up at the hand protruding out of the Aurelius’ back and he knew he had to act. His fingers closed around Mjolnir… and with the speed of lightning he rose up, and swung down…

The Aurelius was dead, but he had not passed on in vein. His body had trapped Apocatastasis for a sliver of a moment and had allowed Thor to claim the tyrant’s hand.

Screaming in pain, Apocatastasis felt out for any with regenerative abilities. To his sorrow, he found none. He clutched the wound with his other hand and reached for heat-based abilities. With a thought he cauterized his own stump of a hand and snarled viciously at his opponent. He reached out, intent to use something great and terrible against the would-be god… and was surprised to find the familiar touch of Aryan’s power signature. But for him to be within his range… the hero would have had to have been on Atlantis…

Aryan was a hero in every sense of the word. He had heard from Baldr all that was transpiring and all that Apocatastasis had intended. He cursed himself and his vanity- why, oh why hadn’t he killed them all when he had the chance? Instead he had delivered an army into the hands of a greater evil than he had ever known. Worse, he had condemned his friends to perish at the monster’s hands.

Mímir was dead- that Baldr had confirmed. Still, how many still survived? He prayed none. Aryan honestly prayed they had died by Apocatastasis’ hand and not his own. He had assumed command of the fortress and had piloted it for the great void of water.

Aryan was a hero… and he would not see Apocatastasis unleash such a terrible army on the world. “Father… Mother…” he whispered as he drove the fortress into the ocean. “Tell me… did I make you proud?”
Next Up! wrote:The story returns to the present day, focusing on Lodestone and Loess in the aftermath of what happened to her in Patriot Robotics...
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