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Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1203

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:41 pm

Chapter CIII: Auld Lang Syne
Gregaro smiled blissfully. Hand-in-hand with his girlfriend, they stood in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Grill Room in anticipation of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians’ next song. He was thankful that Virginia’s status as a Vindicator had awarded her a place at this dance—especially when it had begun raining just after eleven o’clock.

This was going to be a special night, and Gregaro wanted everything to be perfect…

That might have been why he abandoned his usual attire in favor of a tuxedo: gone was his grandfather’s trench coat, the plaid shirt, breeches and work boots; tonight, he had exchanged his goggles for cufflinks.

Gregaro wasn’t the only one making changes tonight: gone was the sack dress Virginia wore when she wasn’t wearing that red, white and blue uniform. Her pale blue gown shimmered as he whisked her around the dance floor. The white princess gloves, however, seemed about the same. Her hair—a perfect imitation of Jayne Mansfield’s—summoned the attention of every man they passed.

Her laughter brought out the best in him.

As they danced around the ball room, Gregaro leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “Can you keep a secret?”

Virginia grinned, knowing what was coming. “Yes,” she said expectantly.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

As the music stopped, the other dancers—all several years older than the couple—paused to applaud the band’s efforts. Gregaro and Virginia continued to hold each other as they shared a kiss.

As they separated, Gregaro noticed her smile waned. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“It’s nothing,” she said.

“Hey, you know the rules: anything takes my girl’s smile away gets haymaker.” He smiled to remind her that he was kidding. He was always kidding—Gregaro Vincentson took nothing seriously… “So, tell me what’s wrong so I can go punch it.”

“I just… I’m worried about your dad…”

Gregaro’s expression soured.

“Nights like this? New Years is supposed to be for lovers, Gregaro and this is the first one he’s had to spend without your mom.”

Gregaro gently put his hand on the back of her skull and guided her head to rest on his chest. “He’s going to be okay,” Gregaro said softly. “Mister Noman and Mister Higgins are supposed to be with him. Trust me, Ginny: dad’ll be fine.”

Gregaro prayed she believed him. He hoped that he was convincing enough. The truth was, he worried about his dad almost every waking moment.

When his mother died, the teenager’s father became his sole guardian. Despite his lack of Neo-Sapien powers, Gregaro was allowed to accompany his father on the Vindicators’ adventures. What the young man lacked in terms of power, he made up for in moxie: already a talented boxer, he dreamed of becoming a sleuth. Several of his father’s teammates credited his keen, analytical mind with being responsible for the incarceration of Enigma Man, an English jewel thief with a penchant for taunting investigators with riddles. However, Gregaro thought his greatest contribution to the Vindicators was in hiding his father’s drunken behavior.

When King Hades killed his mother, Gregaro’s father responded by crawling into a bottle and never coming out. The more the man drank, the angrier he became. The angrier he became, the more violent he became… Most recently, when the Vindicators faced Top Man, Absolute Zero had launched himself into the dervish of a man, tackled him to the ground and beat him senselessly.

Doctors said it was possible Top Man might one day wake up…

“If you say so,” Virginia said, nuzzling her head against his chest. Holding her, Gregaro couldn’t help but smile. Ever since his mother’s death, he’d been taking care of his dad, yes, but Virginia had been taking care of him.

Not too long before he lost his mother, Virginia had lost hers. Veronica Bell, the Lady Liberty who had served before Virginia, died when King Hades shot down the heroes’ ship. The Flying Dutchman went down and an unconscious Lady Liberty hit the water.

Gregaro imagined that was why Virginia cared so much about his family: she had experienced losing someone first hand; she had witnessed her own father grieve for his wife… For Gregaro, Virginia Bell had a heart as big as his mother’s and that was one of the countless reasons he couldn’t imagine spending the rest of his life with anyone else.

With just seconds before midnight, a ball of lights began crawling down the seventy-foot flagpole that topped the New York Times building. As the other dancers counted down the end of 1957, Gregaro reached into his pocket and pulled out a box. “Three!” Virginia’s eyes were as wide as saucers as he opened it to expose the diamond ring inside. “Two!” Her breath was stolen as the young man knelt down on one knee. “One!”

“Virginia May Bell,” Gregaro said, “will you marry me?”

“Happy New Year!”

Virginia dropped to the floor beside him and answered him with a kiss he’d remember forever…
To Be Continued... wrote:Ginian meets the Vindicators of 2137.

Michael Silverbane
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1200 & 1201

Post by Michael Silverbane » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:29 pm

Michuru81 wrote:Recently, my writer's group discussed intelligent characters who do stupid things--whether or not it equates to the use of a deus ex machina (the writer saying, "I need this to happen so... screw it! It happens!") or whether or not it seems fair. I frequently have people who are somewhat smart do things that are baffling and chimed in, pointing out that a plethora of reasons could exist for a character picking up the idiot ball. At the end of the day though? It's just a writer looking to vindicate the decisions he makes and it falls on the shoulders of the reader to interpret them.

My why though? Early on, he's young and he's hurting. He lost his parents, the girl he's been in love with since grade school is dating his roommate... All he has left are thoughts of revenge and that gives him tunnel vision. He becomes so focused on his goals that he becomes ignorant to what's going on around him.

Of course, you'll see Adonis really get tricked in the next book but, again, he'll be distracted by something else. Namely, his tenuous grip on sanity.

Anyway, welcome aboard and... lemme do something about that more chapters request...

I don't think you can be faulted for Adonis missing what is going on (or what will be going on). After all, the one tricking him has had tons of practice. And of course people do things that are irrational all the time so, even the super-intelligent characters can get away with acting less than optimally on occasion.

Also, I am super jealous of the boys in the NVE game, and of course your local game.

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1204

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:43 pm

Chapter CIV
They couldn’t have piloted the skiff without Anne. The Jovians had semaphore towers set up across the globe and had even erected the relay towers in the ocean. Designed to detect the instruments employed in most transports, traversing Earth unobserved was a nigh-impossible feat. Anne, however, compensated for those instruments: without them, she accurately read speed, altitude and everything else as easily as she made the large aircraft gracefully dance across the clouds.

Of course, the skiff employed more than Anne’s android mind to avoid detection. The hull itself was designed to refract light, making it invisible to the naked eye. The Jovian royal family could see beyond that and well into the infrared spectrum. Some could even simply detect ferrous metals. To that end, Isaac Newton had spent years in finding ways to fool even their abilities.

It was times like these he truly missed Falkenburg: had Sol Invictus not slain him in 2094, his supernatural ship would have easily helped them skirt the Jovians’ watchful eye.

The shuttle began to descend. Coming in over the ocean, their speed reduced. Anne disengaged the landing gear and masterfully set their skiff down on the Las Cruces shoreline where a crawler awaited them. Looking out the window, Ginian smiled at the sight of its driver.

Once upon a time, Jason Lamperouge had been a human. Then, one day, he discovered he was something a little more than human: he was a Neo-Sapien, whose ability granted him a form of hyper-intellect. It was this ability that allowed him to understand the intrinsic components that went into channeling arcana—the force laymen merely called magic.

The magic his essence was most strongly attuned to was necromancy—the magic of life and death. Bridging the worlds of science and the supernatural, Jason long ago found a way to prevent his body from aging. For the last century, the man had done little more than make the occasional repair to his vessel, bonding machines to his flesh with the aid of primal forces beyond the reckoning of mere mortals.

Jason Lamperouge was not immortal but he was close to it.

Of course, he kept similar company: Demeter, Isaac Newton, Yukimura Sanada, Jack Dawkins and Dag Schenkenberg had all seen ages come and go. In their years, they had gathered troves of wisdom—insight they now employed as the Illuminati. Old age and their ongoing conflict with the Jovian Empire had left so many of them deathly serious but Jason tried to cling to the last vestiges of his humanity.

Ginian could always count on Jason to greet him with a smile and a joke. “What’s the sad part of three Jovians dying in a Stream explosion?” Jason asked as the Newton family stepped off their ship.

“I’ve no idea,” their father said dryly.

“Streams seat four,” Jason said smugly.

Ginian smiled; his father was all business. “Anne,” he intoned, turning to the dark-haired girl Ginian considered his elder sister, “please unload the Sentries.”

“It wouldn’t kill you to smile, Isaac,” Jason said. “Seriously: you’re immortal. Nothing will kill you—least of all smiling.”

“What have we to smile about?” Isaac asked. “The Jovian Empire’s conquered and enslaved the Dregs; Sol Invictus has installed himself as the leader of a pantheon the Star Children worship. Maybe it’s that there’s an estimated thirteen-thousand, seven hundred people left on Earth?” Behind him, a platform descended from the ship’s underbelly, carrying a platoon of people of varied age, gender and ethnicity. “Forgive me, but I see nothing to smile about there.”

“You have two beautiful, intelligent children.” Jason grinned at Ginian. “Aren’t you proud of them? Don’t they bring a smile to your face?”

Isaac threw up his hands in defeat. “Have the Vindicators arrived yet?”

“They weren’t there when I left,” Jason said.

Isaac breathed in deeply through his nostrils. “Well, that’s a good thing. As soon as that pile of rubble they call a skiff drops down, the semaphores will tell the Jovians right where we are. I’d rather not get there to find those idiots have brought a battle to our front step.” He looked back to Anne, guiding the waves of Sentries onto the crawler Jason had brought.

The man waited, however impatiently, while his earlier creation herded the newest models onto the crawler. Once their cargo had been loaded aboard, Jason commanded the machine to hover a few feet off the ground. Riding the planet’s magnetic field, the crawler lived up to its name and began to crawl across the sands.

“You know,” Jason intoned, thirty minutes into their journey, “you could have taken your children and returned to New Sapporo.” When Isaac said nothing, Jason continued: “You’re right, Isaac: when the Vindicators come, Hope is going to turn into a blood bath.”

“There is something I need to tell Aphelion—something I couldn’t risk being intercepted.”

“I could have passed it along for you,” Jason said.

Isaac shook his head. “I can’t risk it being intercepted, Jason.”

His tone said enough to still Jason’s tongue: this message was one Isaac did not trust anyone with—even other members of the Illuminati…

The remaining hour of their trip passed in relative silence. Ginian breathed a sigh of relief when the hamlet of Hope appeared in the distance.

The crawler entered through a tunnel dug under the city and came to a halt in a cavernous chamber filled with technicians feverishly tending to their assignments. The gull wing doors of the crawler’s segments opened and Anne began to usher the Sentries out and ready them for the Vindicators’ arrival.

“ETA on the Vindicators?” Isaac immediately asked one of the technicians.

“Ten minutes, if that.”

Ginian watched as his father impatiently bided his time until the Ragtime—the Vindicators’ skiff—arrived. Sure enough, Umbra’s voice was soon broadcasting across the chamber, announcing their incoming. Jason barked orders to open the doors and let sunlight rain down from the ceiling as the retractable ceiling was rescinded.
Ginian’s eyes remained on the sky and the small glint visible in the ocean of azure. Soon enough, the skiff grew and grew until the stellar cruiser came perfectly into view.

The Ragtime was a modified orbiter based on the designs of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Designed by Jason Lamperouge and built by Nicodemus Loder in 2099, it was made to be more than an interplanetary transport for the Vindicators: it was intended to serve as their base of operations and home.

In lieu of the nose and main gear, a trio of nozzles identical to the main engine began to protrude from the skiff’s underbelly, kicking on to allow them to land vertically inside the chamber. Once it had cleared the ceiling, Gideon watched in awe as twelve spider-like legs began to unfurl the ship’s sides. Those legs flexed until they fought solid ground to stand on.

Soon, the thrusters died down and a moment later, the middle of the ship began to descend. The Vindicators, six super-powered beings devoted to defending Dregs from the Jovians, rode a levitating platform down to the chamber’s floor.

Pauldron stood out from the rest: eight feet tall and almost as broad, the behemoth was a figure forged from rock who wore odd pieces of machinery embedded in his massive form. In front of him was Pother: the raven-haired beauty was at least a head shorter than any of her teammates. She wore a tactical vest and split skirt over a fishnet bodysuit while the man beside her wore gun-grey coveralls and sandals. Grey streaked Umbra’s thinning black hair, convincing many that the seasoned veteran was the oldest member of the band’s roster.

Beside them stood Legacy, the product of several Neo-Sapien dynasties marrying into each other. A black streak was slashed through the barefoot woman’s short, blonde hair, curling down to frame the left side of her face. She wore a slate cloak and muffler over her dingy white T-shirt and loose breaches—a stark contrast to what their leader wore…

Echelon’s athletic frame was stuffed into a simple, black armored jumpsuit. An azure sash was tied around his right arm—the only thing he had left to remember his bride by…

Lastly, Ginian’s eyes fell on Aphelion, a tall man who wore a white tunic trimmed with blood red cords. On his chest was a golden sun—one that matched the bronze mask he wore over his face. Though the mask concealed his face, it was not a full helmet: long, crimson hair hung down the man’s back.

Ginian gazed upon the staff Aphelion had with wonder: Ruyi Jingo Bang was an artifact imbued with arcane properties. As he understood it, so long as Aphelion held the staff, he could force it to take any size he desired.

“I love what you’ve done with your cave,” Pauldron exclaimed. His gravelly voice reverberated across the chamber. “It’s so cozy! It's like Martha Stewart meets Osama bin Laden!”

Umbra sighed as the platform rested on the chamber floor. “We may not have much time,” he said. Almost immediately, Isaac led Aphelion away. “The Jovians likely detected our arrival and will be at this location soon…”

“We can’t wait for them to come scalp more Dregs,” Jason intoned. “Your ship should be able to carry at least one hundred Sentries, making deposits on Ceres-”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” exclaimed Pother. “Two questions: what the hell are you smoking and why aren’t you sharing? That is the dumbest plan I ever heard!”

“Pother,” Echelon said warningly. The young woman seemed not to notice.

“Do you have any idea what one hundred Sentries looks like?” She gestured towards the robotic congregation. “They look like that! You really think we can just dock in the Jovian Empire, drop off that many people, and not raise any suspicions?”

“Pother!” Echelon thundered. The man silenced her with a glare before turning back to Jason with the typical apathetic expression he wore. “We’ll do it,” he intoned. “Pother? Go help Umbra and Legacy load them up…”

As Pother stomped off, grumbling all the way, Jason bowed his head in thanks to the Vindicators’ leader. “As I was saying, we’d like to see this force divided amongst the major colonies: Ceres, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede, Enceladus…”

“Avoiding the throne world,” Echelon said. “Why play it safe when you’re risking so much by summoning us here?”

“Isaac’s got something planned. What he has planned? I have no idea. Vegas odds are on him filling Aphelion in on it now…”

Echelon grimaced. “He ought to be filling me in: I’m the leader of the Vindicators—not Aphelion. And given how little we know about Aphelion?” The man sighed mournfully. “I… I need to talk to you, Jason. I could use your advice. You’re supposed to be one of the smartest men alive, right? Nothing gets by you?

“I’ve seen under the mask.” Ginian was perplexed by the look of alarm that flashed on Jason’s face; it said that he had seen what Echelon had. “I’ve seen Aphelion’s face and I…”

“Have you told the others?”

Echelon shrugged. “I don’t have enough information. I didn’t want to start a riot… If they knew, they’d-”

“And now you know why Aphelion wears that mask.”

“I need to know, Jason: can I trust him?”

Jason paused to consider his answer. “I do,” he said, as if that should be enough.

Before Echelon could determine if that was enough for him, a beam of light struck one of the Ragtime’s legs. There was an explosion and the ship shuddered as it lost part of its balance. “They’re here!” Jason shouted.

“Not they!” Legacy shouted. “He! He’s here! It’s just one of them!”

Ginian could almost feel those around him tense as they all imagined the same thing. “Sol Invictus?” Echelon asked.

The sentient Sentry peered through the smoke and dust and took in the sight of a man clad in a linothorax. Emblazoned on his chest was a golden sunburst. A dry wind tumbled through the opening in the roof and whipped at his long, black hair and the purple cloak he wore.

He was not Sol Invictus but one of his children—one of the Jovian Pantheon. His name was Conclave and he was known across the galaxy for his temper as he was his recklessness.

“I suppose I should be thanking you,” Conclave said, chuckling softly. “The feast my father will throw in my honor will last for weeks once I’ve brought him the heads of the Illuminati.” Conclave opened his hand and aimed his palm towards Jason. “Jason Lamperouge,” he intoned haughtily, “slain by a god is a death more fitting that a rat cowering underground deserves!”
To Be Continued... wrote:The Vindicators II.

Arthur Eld
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1204

Post by Arthur Eld » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:24 am

Hey a future where Jason isn't dead or evil (yet)! Awesome.

Cosmic Scion
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1204

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:23 pm

Arthur Eld wrote:Hey a future where Jason isn't dead or evil (yet)! Awesome.
My tabletop game has ventured into an alternate future of the Oubliverse--one based on a single point of divergence: Adonis was killed by Forest Bedford the morning he found him in his daughter's bed. This somehow erases all of the bad stuff and replaces it with good stuff... up until the PCs showed up, that is.

In building an alternate future, I established Jason as this philanthropic man who has brought forth developments that have truly bettered the world. In my campaign bible, I have a note to myself that says, "Don't make him evil."

I'm fascinated by Jason as a character: I think there are so many different roads he could go down and still can go down. This may be why whenever I traverse time and space to tell a story that may never be, he's featured in it. In him is the potential to be the deceptive villain you don't see coming, the silver-tongued politician who everyone loves, the scientist who saves the world, the sagely hermit who puts the up-and-coming protagonist on the road towards destiny, the madman who improved himself and survives eons as he's more machine than man... He can be almost whatever the story needs him to be.

Unfortunately, the plight I find myself in with the tabletop game is that if he's not evil, then he falls into the same condition Mister Silverbane has diagnosed Adonis with: if Jason is so smart, how did he not figure out what the story's real bad guy is up to?

I think the answer is simple: a wizard did it.

Michael Silverbane
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1204

Post by Michael Silverbane » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:03 am

Michuru81 wrote:I think the answer is simple: a wizard did it.
Wizards suck! :D

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1205

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:47 pm

Chapter CV: Get a Job
On March 21, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9835—a loyalty program designed to root out communist influence within varying departments of the United States federal government.
In 1948, the Department of Justice deemed the Vindicators subversive and campaigned for the heroes—Uncle Sam, Crusader, the Frog, Xuanxue, and the Iron Curtain—to submit to a loyalty review thanks to the presence of a Russian and a Chinese man on the team.

Within a year, Uncle Sam was killed in action, Xuanxue died of natural causes, and Senator Joseph McCarthy dug his teeth into the Iron Curtain. America pressured the United Nations into terminating the Soviet’s son from the Vindicators and, grudgingly, the powers that be buckled…

When the Iron Curtain was ousted, Crusader responded by quitting in disgust. The Frog remained as the lone member of the world’s premier super-hero team… but a new incarnation was soon to follow: on April 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed. NATO served as a military alliance that vowed to defend each other in the event of an attack on any member. As a sign of faith, each country presented a national super-powered being to represent them in the second incarnation of the Vindicators…

One of the twelve picked to join this new generation of heroes was Vincent Stefansson. Codenamed Absolute Zero, Vincent was a Neo-Sapien capable of emitting extreme colds from his body. When activated, he exuded a biting cold that made the former boxer’s punches burn. With a thought, he could let that chill seep from him to cover an area in a creeping frost that would slowly work to incapacitate friend and foe alike.

Now, when Gregaro looked at his father, he couldn’t believe he was the same man who, nine years ago, had pledged himself to represent his native land as a member of the Vindicators.

It wasn’t that Absolute Zero had gone through a cosmetic change: he still fit into his blue tights; the white-fimbriated, red Nordic cross wasn’t stretched over burgeoning girth—the former boxer was as fit as ever. No longer in his thirties, however, grey tinged his dark-blonde hair. The orbits under his eyes were puffed out—a sign of how much he missed his wife, his teammates mistakenly assumed.

Gregaro knew the truth, however… and had devoted himself to hiding the truth from his father’s teammates. A handful of them knew, yes, but there was no hiding anything from some of them…

Simon Noman was an Englishman with the power to read minds. The Vindicator known as The Templar didn’t abuse his power and enter the minds of his friends uninvited; still, Gregaro had decided to be upfront with him and tell him about his father’s drinking. Likewise, he told Joseph Higgins, the Norwegian known to the world as Tick-Tock, simply because the man seemed to genuinely care about his fellow heroes.

Both men sat at the horseshoe-shaped table that occupied the mansion’s counsel room. Both men were dressed in their costumes. Tick-Tock wore a pair of red tights with white gloves and boots; on his chest was a blue circle, depicting a white hourglass. The Templar protected himself with medieval armor; an ivory cape spilled from the Templar’s shoulders and his helmet was capped with a crimson plume; in his arms was a small lance and kite shield bearing Saint George’s cross.

Looking at them, Gregaro felt underdressed: he was clad only in his shirt, trousers and boots. His fedora rested behind him on the table while his grandfather’s trench coat was folded over his arm; his goggles were around his neck. He looked out of place amongst the superheroes, until the next pair entered the chamber…

Falkenburg wore no such costume. Under his coat, the immortal Bernard Fokke wore a simple doublet with a small ruff and cuffs. His breeches vanished into his leather boots and Curtana—a remnant of the time he spent as a companion to the Aurelius—hung at his side.

Cecaelia, on the other hand, wore nothing. A Daughter of Air, the spirit had no physical form to clothe. Representing Denmark, her immaterial body simply hovered beside the Dutchman.

Little by little, the others funneled into the chamber. William Loder, who represented his adoptive land of Portugal as Lodestone, wore green tights slashed with a red stripe down the middle. Lodestone wore white gloves and boots, a cape and domino mask; a golden circle sat on his chest, with a white ‘L’ in the middle.

Shortly after he arrived, the Frog entered. Pierre Money, wore a blue tunic with red briefs and white gloves, boots and a domino mask—a stark contrast to how the fellow beside him dressed: once a member of the Sergius gens, Markus was deposed by his younger brother and forced to fight as a murmillo in the gladiatorial arena. He became a champion warrior who eventually won his freedom, although not as he would have believed: Markus Sergius was catapulted across time and arrived in the twentieth century, were he donned armor and took up a sword and shield to represent Italy as the Vindicator known as Murmillo.

Gregaro felt sorry for him: he couldn’t imagine what it must be like to suddenly find yourself stranded in an era not your own, and knowing that everyone you loved was gone…

He vaguely listened to the men’s idle conversation but kept his eyes on the door, waiting for the moment his fiancé would arrive. Before her came the soft-spoken Georges Janssen: representing Belgium, the Cistercian monk wore the grey habit those in his order were garbed in: a dark apron spilled over his grey robes and was lashed around his lithe body by a rope; his cowl was pulled up over his head.

He was not the only hooded figure on the roster: representing Luxembourg, the man known only as the Archmagus dressed in black robes embroidered with gold and green threads. A heavy black cloak spilled down his back; its hood was pulled low over his mustachioed face.

Little was known about the Archmagus’ personal life—including the magician’s real name. Though he kept to himself, he especially kept clear of Falkenberg, the team’s deputy leader, for reasons none could fathom…

As he passed by Gregaro, he paid the young man no mind. Since Gregaro had begun accompanying his father on official missions, the Archmagus had been the only vocal opponent of his presence here. Whether it was his age or his lack of powers that the Archmagus protested, Gregaro didn’t know. He didn’t care. He just wanted to sock the middle-aged man for looking at his fiancé so luridly…

Right on cue, the doors opened and Lady Liberty entered. As a Vindicator, Virginia represented America and her costume reflected that: she wore a blue halter top flecked with white stars; her short, pleated skirt was adorned with vertical stripes that alternated red and white—matching the white-trimmed red gloves and boots she wore. In her hand, she carried the torch-shaped cudgel her mother had once wielded in battle…

Gone were the Andru & Esposito glasses she wore as Virginia Bell. Gregaro wasn’t a fan of them, but they were necessary for her to help manage her dual identity…

When she walked into the room, his heart skipped a beat. She gracefully descended the stairs and made her way to him. “Can you keep a secret?” he asked.

She smiled at him. “Yes.”

He leaned in to deliver a peck on her cheek and whispered, “I think I’m falling in love with you.”

As their fingers wound around each other, the doors opened once more. There were no more colorfully clad crusaders to pass through the threshold—only a grizzled man with a weathered face, whose stout body was garbed in military dress…

General Sidell’s entrance cut all chatter. As the other heroes made their way to the horseshoe-shaped table, Gregaro reluctantly let go of his fiancé’s hand and watched her take her seat amongst the Vindicators.

“All right, sir,” Lodestone said, “what are we in for? The Commies looking for another sock on the jaw?”

“It’s possible, Lodestone,” General Sidell said. “Doctor Meinstein has taken his act up north and is working on employing magnetic energy to create nuclear fission. He’s set up a base on Kaffeklubben Island—the most northern point of land on Earth. Trouble is, we expect those darn Soviets may make a move against the doc.

“I don’t doubt that the Cold Warriors will try and muck this up. Doc says he’s hired some protection, but I doubt whatever hired muscle he’s picked up has tangoed with the Commies as much as you lot have. Until the doctor finishes with his project, you lot will be babysitting him.

“However, it won’t do to put all our eggs in one basket: I’m only sending half of you there—keeping the other six here in case things go south.

“Falkenberg, you’ll take point on this one. The Archmagus is a Swiss Army Knife of magical spells and that versatility will be invaluable on this mission. The Templar can act as an equalizer if the Commies do show up—turning that metal Ruskie against his team. Lady Liberty will give you a bit of extra strength and Absolute Zero’s no slouch either.” The General nodded to Gregaro. “Guess that means you’re going to, eh, junior?” When Gregaro saluted the man enthusiastically, the elder members of the group chuckled heartily. “Rounding things out, I thought Cecalia’s talents could be a bane to the Cold Warriors.

“Unless there are any problems, I’ll ask you lot to scramble up north in an hour.

“Oh, and Vindicators? Dress warmly…”
To Be Continued... wrote:The Vindicators of 2137 A.D.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1206

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:50 pm

Chapter CVI
Conclave unleashed a blast of light and Ginian reacted. The android pushed Jason out of the way, and harmlessly took the brunt of Conclave’s attack.

“Gideon!” Pauldron screamed as Legacy charged their attacker in the air.

“Ginian,” Umbra corrected.

“That’s what I said.” The craggy figured hurried to the Sentry and was visibly stunned when Ginian not only shook off the effects of Conclave’s attack but his arm unfolded, transforming into a cannon he now trained on the pair fighting high overhead. “Anyway, you guys got this, right? I’ma go hit the kitchen, see if they have any Cheez-Its; I hope they have white cheddar!”

Ginian ignored the Vindicator and focused on the battle taking place above him. In hand-to-hand combat, Legacy clearly the advantage; still, Conclave looked confident—as if he still had something up his sleeve. “Legacy!” Ginian cried. “Get down!”

The young woman did just that: dropping out of the air, she left Conclave exposed to an assault from Ginian’s cannon arm. A focused beam of light enveloped Conclave’s hovering form, leaving only a faint silhouette burned into the vision of those present. Soon, their sight came back into focus. Soon, they saw that Conclave was unharmed.

Reading the astonished look on Ginian’s face, Conclave sneered. “It seems as though you and I are evenly matched,” he said. “We’re both capable of absorbing and emitting light.”

“Wait,” Pauldron exclaimed, pointing at the Sentries, “these things absorb light? We should totally take them into space with us! Use ‘em to fight Sol Invictus!”

“As if a mechanical mockery could ever compare to the genetic blessing my father and his heirs possess!” Conclave snapped. “That you primitive dregs thought you could build a machine to challenge us is laughable!”
“Not as laughable as your outfit!” Pother’s clothes fell to the ground as her body transformed into a cloud of smoke. Try as he did to blast her incorporeal form away, Conclave was soon swallowed up by the dark haze—leaving him open to a surprise attack from Umbra.

The Ragtime’s captain darted underneath the ship and sank into the ground. He reappeared seconds later, riding Conclave out of the air and down to where Echelon waited. Ideally, he would have pulled the man down to let Echelon finish him off but Conclave struggled in the air. Even with Umbra holding on from behind, Conclave didn’t descend to the ground.

Legacy threw back her slate cloak, revealing the bulky gauntlets she wore. Training her fists on her opponent, she shouted for Umbra to get clear, just before launching the steel cables concealed in the apparatus she accessorized with.

Guided by the girl’s mastery over magnetism, the cables coiled around Conclave’s ankles. With a ferocious tug, Legacy’s titanic strength ripped the man out of the sky and slammed him into the ground. She swung her arms again, throwing Conclave into the air and swinging him towards the walls of the cavern.

Beams of light erupted from Conclave’s hands. Flung through the air by Legacy, training his attack on any particular target was out of the question. Still, with all of his power behind those blasts, Ginian watched in horror as the instruments and computers congregated here were obliterated in their battle.

Legacy slammed Conclave into the wall of the cave and the coils relaxed. As they slipped from his wrists and ankles, the earth behind him began to stir. The wall threatened to devour him, binding one of his fists and both of his feet.

Conclave wrestled one hand free and immediately thrust his limb for Legacy. The blow failed to knock the woman off her feet but it had broken her concentration: it kept her from commanding the earthen wall to continue to encroach on her opponent.

With her dazed, Conclave moved to blast his restraints, but Echelon was on him in no time: the paragon pounced down onto the Jovian, ready to force him into submission. At the last second, Conclave threw his free arm forward and sent a pulse of light into Echelon’s chest. While his impervious skin shielded him from the intense heat, the force of the blast was enough to catapult him off course. “My father no longer finds your little plots as amusing as he once did,” the Jovian said as he moved to liberate himself. “You should all kneel before me and embrace the escape I’m offering you: I promise you, my siblings will show considerable less mercy than I will!”

The roar of Pauldron’s thrusters snapped his attention up towards the enormous man flying towards him. Ginian watched panic set in on Conclave’s face; he watched the villain thrust his arm forward in a last ditch attempt to veer the rock man off his course. As the wide beam of light shot from Conclave’s arm, Pauldron thrust one of the Sentries out like a shield.

The android did what it was designed to do: it absorbed the blast. Almost reflexively, it raised an arm and Ginian watched the limb undergo the same transformation his did before emitting a beam of energy.

“No kill stealing, kuso!” Pauldron snapped. The big man’s arm moved more quickly than Ginian thought it should be able to; in one clean motion, the titan grabbed the cannon arm and tore it free from the android’s body. Instead, he used its mangled form to bash Conclave, crushing him under the robot coupled with his momentum.

The roar of the behemoth’s thrusters died down; the cavern floor shook when Pauldron dropped from the wall. The one-armed Sentry was embedded deep into the wall; one of Conclave’s arms and his legs poked out limply from around it.

“And that is how you-” Pauldron’s words were cut short when Conclave’s arm rose up and blindly fired a beam of light across the room. “Did he just interrupt me?” Pauldron asked as the blast obliterated one of the chamber’s devices. Pauldron calmly bent down and picked up the arm he had removed from his makeshift shield. “It’s rude to interrupt people, kuso!” he bellowed. Swinging the transformed limb down, one of retracted plates cut through the wildly-firing appendage.

Ginian watched as Conclave’s arm fell to the floor of the chamber and was soon followed by Pother’s lunch.

“He’s dead,” Ginian said, finally lowering his transformed arm.

“For now,” Echelon said.

“Conclave is one of Sol Invictus’ rugrats,” griped Pother, “and takes after his old man. He’s got his eyes, dimples, and penchant for not having the courtesy of staying dead when someone goes to the trouble of killing him.”

“You need to get going,” Jason said. “The way he was talking… The rest of the Pantheon is likely en route to this location.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Ginian asked. “They disabled Conclave easily enough. And we have all these Sentries… Why not hold our ground and fight?”

“Fight the entire pantheon!?!” Echelon thundered. “Are you insane!?! Ignoring that they outnumber us ten-to-one, Sol Invictus and his ilk are gods! There’s no way that we can defeat them!”

“They’re not gods,” Isaac mused. “They are merely immortal.”

“I’m immortal,” Pauldron said, raising his hand.

“How do you define ‘gods’?” Pother asked Isaac.

“I’m a god,” Pauldron said.

“We’re getting out of here,” Echelon said, “and so is everyone else. Jason, you need to evacuate Hope. If the Pantheon takes down the Illuminati, the resistance is done for.”

“We’ll get clear,” Jason said, “just get airborne.”

“And take Ginian with you,” Isaac said.

Ginian rounded on his father with a confused look.

“I already discussed it with Aphelion,” Isaac said. “We’re preparing an endgame—one contingent upon Ginian traveling with the Vindicators.”

“Fine,” Pauldron said, “grab your gear and get on board, Gideon.”

“Ginian,” Umbra said.

“That’s what I said,” said the lummox, “Gideon.”

Echelon threw his hands up in an attempt to stop the chatter. “Hold up! Look, Isaac: it’s great that you discussed your little endgame with Aphelion, but I’m the leader of the Vindicators. Don’t you think that if someone should be let in on whatever you’ve got planned, it’d be me?”

“Or me?” asked Ginian timidly.

“Now is not the time to debate this!” Isaac barked. “You have your mission, Commander Shepherd, and now Aphelion has his! So, why don’t you do what you do best: be a good little soldier, and follow orders.”

Echelon’s face was contorted with rage. He looked from Isaac to Aphelion and then flashed a pleading look to Jason; Jason looked away and Ginian wondered if it was sorrow or shame he saw on the man’s face.

“You heard ‘em,” Echelon growled. “Get the Ragtime fired up, Umbra. I want to see this rock in our rearview in minutes.” The leader of the Vindicators turned to Ginian and flashed him a look of pure contempt. “Better go find yourself a seat, kid,” he growled.

“You’ve got an endgame to get ready for.”
To Be Continued... wrote:The Vindicators II versus Kallio.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1207

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:50 pm

Chapter CVII: Sixteen Tons
Looking over the railings and into the arctic waters they soared above, Gregaro wondered if he would ever get used to the Vindicators’ mode of transportation. Captained by the immortal Falkenburg, the Flying Dutchman was a spectral ship doomed to sail for eternity. It was a ghostly vessel that featured prominently in the tales Vincent Stefansson had regaled his family with. Back then, Gregaro had only dreamed of the ghost ship carrying him across choppy waters. Now that he was here, he found the spectacle tarnished by the lamentable circumstances that put him here.

The only thing he didn’t regret about the last year was meeting Virginia.

“You okay?” she asked.

He smiled at her and turned up the collar of his grandfather’s coat. “I’m a little cold,” he confessed. “I could use something to warm me up…”

Lady Liberty returned the smile and leaned in to kiss him. “Land ho!” Falkenburg’s cry stopped the Vindicator in her tracks; she turned her head and sought out the sight of Kaffeklubben Island’s distant shores.

“Time to get to work, right?” he asked.

Lady Liberty kissed him on the cheek. “I’m going to go check on your dad,” she said before hurrying off.
Gregaro was left standing on the port side of the Flying Dutchman, lazily gazing ahead at the ever-enlarging island. Soon, the whole of it came into view and the mystical ship came ashore.

The other Vindicators had begun to assemble on deck: Cecalia floated near Falkenburg for the bulk of their voyage; the Archmagus sat at the nose of the ship, lost in quiet contemplation; the Templar nodded to Gregaro as he made his way up from the bowels. Soon, Lady Liberty came up, her arm hooked around the slouching man staggering alongside her.

Immediately, Gregaro wondered how much his father had had to drink. Had he downed the entirety of his flask’s contents yet? There was no telling how long they would be stationed here, and the man’s supply might exhaust at the rate he consumed it…

The thought of his father sober for the first time since his mother died brought a smile to Gregaro’s face.
Falkenburg led them down the plank and onto the island’s frozen shores. Lady Liberty and the Templar wore fur-lined cloaks to help them resist the elements while the Archmagus cast a spell that no doubt gave him an immunity to the cold; Falkenburg and Cecailia paid the temperatures no mind and Gregaro’s father’s power left him numb to the maddening conditions.

Gregaro tied his coat tight around his body and tugged his scarf snug around his neck. “How far is the lab?” he asked.

The Templar chuckled. “Tired already, Little Gregaro?” he asked.

“No, just… just curious…”

“It should be a quarter mile north of us,” Falkenburg said. “We’d best start moving.”

Gregaro fell in line on the other side of his father and helped Lady Liberty guide the man along. Occasionally, the couple would exchange dopey smiles around the man. Other times, they would just wink playfully at each other. They were oblivious to the other’s watchful eyes, however: when the other Vindicators caught sight of their mute displays of affection, they flashed knowing smiles that bordered on proud.

Soon, Doctor Meinstein’s campsite came into view. “We’re almost there,” Falkenburg said as they crested another jagged, frozen hill. “Not much further now!”

Suddenly, the ground exploded behind him. A fountain of dirt and snow was cast into the air as a titanic figure erupted from the ground. It must have caught Falkenburg off guard: the hulking figure easily seized the man’s legs in its massive grip and hurled him across the frozen plains.

As the Templar put his left hand to his forehead, he stretched his other arm forward. The others understood what it meant: it was how he focused his considerable telepathic powers. “It’s mind is strong!” he exclaimed. “I’m having difficulty overwhelming it!”

“Your mind tricks never were much match for my arcane mastery,” the Archmagus growled. “Let’s see if we can’t slow this behemoth down!” The black robbed man began weaving his hands through the air. “Lonticor Nortfict!”

“A mage!?!” exclaimed the gigantic figure. As it turned, Gregaro realized he was gazing up at a man hewn from solid stone. Towering over them at eight feet tall, the hulking brute wore patchwork breeches with a red sash tied around his waist. “My mom was a mage! Did you know her!?!”

Lady Liberty exploded across the ground. With a mighty cry, the young woman pulled back her first and the rock giant turned to greet her attack. Thrusting his own hand out forward, the titan caught her punch, closed his massive hand over her fist, turned and hurled her off the battlefield. “Ginny!” Gregaro screamed, leaving his father’s side to charge at the monster.

“Gregaro!” the Templar exclaimed. “That thing is incredibly strong!”

“‘Thing’!?!” The behemoth pulled back his fist to punch the human, only for him to stop when a cry of “Kallio!” cut through the air.

Both Gregaro and the monstrous figure halted their attacks and turned north, towards the man racing towards their battle. “These people are the Vindicators, Kallio!” the man was exclaiming. “Please, let them pass!”

The brute turned back towards Gregaro and narrowed his gemstone eyes at the boy. “They look kinda puny to be Vindicators, doc.”

“Little Gregaro isn’t officially a Vindicator,” the Templar intoned, “but the son of one. The young man joins us on our adventures.” The mentalist smiled at the sight of the newcomer. “I take it you must be Doctor Meinstein?”

“Ulysses Meinstein, at your service.” The man in the parka bowed. “You’ve met my security force. Be polite, Kallio. These people are our guests.”

The rock man extended a massive hand to the Templar; his fingers were almost the same size as the Englishman’s head. Wearing a devious grin, Kallio hardly hastened the Templar to shake the offered paw. “Charmed,” the man said as he hesitantly put his significantly smaller hand in the larger man’s.

As Kallio gently shook the man’s hand, Lady Liberty descended gracefully out of the sky, and Falkenburg trudged back to the site. “Doctor Meinstein,” the immortal captain intoned, “it’s good to see you again. I’m not sure if you remember me, but-”

“Bernard Fokke, the legendary Captain Falkenburg,” Doctor Meinstein said, cracking a smile. “You’re a hard man to forget.”

Falkenburg nodded. “If we may adjourn somewhere else? Not all of my teammates are immune to Mother Nature’s ravages, and I doubt you are either.”

“Of course,” Doctor Meinstein said, leading the way back to his lab, “won’t you all follow me?”
To Be Continued... wrote:Gideon gets to know the Vindicators.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1207

Post by McGuffin » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:44 am

:D Heh, the big lummox sure gets around.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1207

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:43 pm

McGuffin wrote::D Heh, the big lummox sure gets around.
Surely, you're not calling the Wielder of the Mighty Stalactite of Justice a slut, are you?

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1208

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:30 pm

Chapter CVIII
As Legacy used her powers to make the platform rise back into the belly of the Ragtime, Ginian kept his eyes on his father. The ageless man had not given any indication that this was what he intended. Where this mysterious endgame was concerned, Ginian was as in the dark as Echelon. Still, the pair’s reactions couldn’t have been more dissimilar.

Whereas Echelon merely appeared agitated, Ginian felt hurt, confused, unwanted, afraid, and a little lonely. He had dropped into the first seat he saw and the Vindicators continued to make their way through the bowels of the ship. Soon, the roar of the engine snapped Ginian from his melancholia. He strapped himself in and braced for lift off.

In minutes, the Ragtime had escaped Earth. Without the forces of gravity fighting to cast them back down to the ground, the ride suddenly felt smoother.

As Ginian prepared to dive back into his somber mood, Echelon came down the corridor he and his team had vanished down, leading Pother with him. “It’ll be a few days until we reach Ceres,” the commander said, “and weeks before we get to the central colonies. For the foreseeable future, this ship is going to be your home. Pother here will show you around.”

The man didn’t wait for a response: Echelon made a swift retreat.

“Well, I’m pretty sure I can beat that warm welcome,” the dark-haired woman said, watching Echelon’s back. When he was out of view, she turned towards Ginian and offered her hand in greeting. “Welcome aboard, kid.”

“Thank you, Miss Pother,” Ginian intoned.

Pother smirked at the android. “You’re more than welcome to call me Allyce.”


“Yeah. That’s my name: Allyce Sanchez. You didn’t really think my parents named me ‘Pother’, did you?”

Ginian shook his head.

Allyce waved for the sentient android to follow her back up the hall. “C’mon, the Commander wanted me to give you the tour, so…” Allyce dashed out of the dimly lit alcove Ginian had taken up residence in, forcing him to hustle to catch up. “The mess hall’s here on the right,” she said. “We mostly have M.R.E.’s—not too tasty but every so often we pick up something good. Last week we had an honest-to-goodness watermelon. You ever tasted watermelon before?”

Again, Ginian shook his head.

“It was pretty good. These tiny little black things were kind of hard to chew—ended up spitting them out. Anyway, feel free to help yourself to anything, but don’t touch the cakes stuffed under the cupboard next to the fridge. If Libby catches you eating her precious Twinkles, she breaks your fingers.”

“I do not!” Catching up with Allyce in the threshold of the small dining area, Ginian found Legacy taking a bottle out of the fridge. “And for the thousandth time, they’re Twinkies.”

“They’re disgusting,” Allyce insisted, “and they make you fat.” She turned to Ginian and forced her face to look serious. “That’s why she wears that cloak: she’s trying to hide her muffin top.”

Legacy stuck her tongue out at her teammate before smiling sweetly at Ginian. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said. “I’m Libby.”

“Libby Loder; new kid,” Allyce said. “New kid; Libby Loder, descendant of several heroes from the Acrimony Wars: Caliber, Lodestone, Tierra, Rumble, Fach… Second-in-command, powerhouse extraordinaire, and heifer who eats too much cake.”

“Nice to meet you,” a perplexed Ginian said before Allyce pulled him away.

“Wanna see the bridge?” she asked. “We’ll see if the Old Man’ll let you fly her…”

“No chance!” Libby cried from the mess hall. “North won’t let anyone touch the controls but him!”

“North is Umbra?” Ginian said, knowing enough about the Vindicators to know that Umbra was the pilot of the Ragtime.

“Yeah, the Old Man’s real name is North Childress. He’s a real grumpypuss, but not a total hardass like the Commander.” The young woman climbed a short flight of stairs and stepped through a portal onto the ship’s bridge.

The ship’s pilot sat behind a large, half-circle dashboard, overlooking two smaller stations a tier below him. The deck was strew with all manner of debris: Styrofoam plates and plastic bottles; food wrappers and empty cartons amalgamated with clothes, books, and boxes bound with bungee cords.

This was more than the command center of the entire ship: this was where Umbra spent the bulk of his life.

“I’m busy, Allyce,” North grumbled from the nexus of the mess.

“No, you’re not,” she said, leading Ginian up to the man’s chair. “We’re in space now. I’m betting you have your course set-”

“We’re not entirely out of the woods,” North said, failing to turn his chair to face his guests. “Conclave hinted that other members of the Pantheon were en route to Earth, and I’d rather not run into them…”

Allyce rolled her eyes. “Worry wart.”

“Does this visit have a purpose, Allyce, or…?”

“Commander told me to give the kid a tour of the ship.”

North chortled. “And everyone else was busy?” The man glanced over his shoulder and shot the duo a teasing smile. “Sorry, Ginian: Casey gave you the one Vindicator who probably knows less about the ship than Rocky does.”

Allyce shrugged when Ginian looked to her. “Before you came along, I was the rookie,” she said. “Too bad the Old Man is so busy keeping us from running over any members of the Pantheon or he could give you the tour. You know, since I know next to nothing about it…”

“He couldn’t ask for a better guide,” North said, matter-of-factly.

“So, you know every nook and cranny of this ship, huh?” Allyce arched her back and smiled flirtatiously at the man. “How about you get to know every nook and cranny of me?”

“Can’t,” North said, turning his seat around.

“Because the ship’s auto pilot isn’t good enough?”

“Because he literally can’t!” The tallest, densest member of the Vindicators ducked into the room. “You know that carpet bombing in 2121?” said the stone man. “Kinda ruined his day!”

“Right on cue,” Allyce icily said. “Kid, meet Rocky Rhode.”

“It’s ‘Pauldron’ when I’m in the uniform,” the gravelly voiced brute said. He lumbered through the litter to stand next to North’s chair. “Any sign of ‘em?”

“Itching for a fight so soon?” Allyce asked.

“Just expecting the inevitable. Today’s been a real Crusade of a day, what with us goin’ to Earth and fightin’ the Pantheon and the new guy…”

“Crusade?” Ginian asked.

“Yeah: I used to have this friend—major film buff! He used to call Lundgren days ‘Ark’; weird, trippy days, he’d call ‘Temple’; fun days were ‘Crusade’… and then there are the days where he would grow too fast and his body would e’splodiate, but then a magical alpaca would gallop backwards across a bridge made out of used Clorox disinfecting wipes and French kiss a German girl to reform his body—only his Pinuno is now protruding from his forehead like he’s a freakin’ unicorn… Those days are what John Saxon would call ‘Crystal Skulls’.”

No one knew what to say.

Pauldron shrugged. “I still say Crystal Skulls was better than Attack of the Clones. I don’t care what Dave used to say: that movie was like an all-eunuchs orgy: nothing happened and no one went home satisfied!”

“Yeah,” Allyce said, stepping back towards the door, “I’m going to finish giving the new kid the tour. See you later, Old Man.”

North failed to respond. Sighing dejectedly, Allyce led Ginian off of the bridge and back down the stairs. “So, that’s pretty much the crew. I’d go introduce you to Aphelion, but he pretty much keeps to himself.”

Ginian frowned at the thought of Aphelion: the Vindicator was shrouded in mystery. His visage alarmed Echelon and was something that few had apparently seen. He was the only one who truly knew what it was Ginian’s father was planning—the only one on this ship who knew why Ginian had been charged with joining the group. Further complicating things, the masked man was the only Vindicator who had not joined in the battle against Conclave.

Echelon said it would be days before they reached Ceres, and weeks before they reached their next destination. That meant ample opportunities to inquire what it was Isaac had told Aphelion, and maybe discern what it was about the redheaded man that left Echelon so bewildered…
To Be Continued... wrote:Gregaro stages an intervention.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1207

Post by McGuffin » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:12 am

Michuru81 wrote:
McGuffin wrote::D Heh, the big lummox sure gets around.
Surely, you're not calling the Wielder of the Mighty Stalactite of Justice a slut, are you?
More commenting on him apparently being the one constant in the Oubliverse, no matter when or where the stories take place :)

I'm glad to see more New Vindicators stories since I assume it means things are looking up for you.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1207

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:45 pm

McGuffin wrote:I'm glad to see more New Vindicators stories since I assume it means things are looking up for you.
Things are stable, which is a vast improvement over chaos. Thank you.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1209

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:47 pm

Chapter CIX: Sh-Boom
Gregaro removed his fedora as he followed the Vindicators into the narrow entrance to Doctor Meinstein’s laboratory. Pulling his goggles down to his neck, he chanced a look back out into the cold. “What about Kallio?” he asked, realizing the stone giant was too large to make it inside.

“Kallio is the perfect guard,” Doctor Meinstein said. “He doesn’t eat, drink or sleep. He doesn’t get cold. He just stands guard, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”

“He must be lonely.” There was a hint of sadness in Lady Liberty’s voice—a hint that echoed what was in Gregaro’s heart.

Doctor Meinstein waved his hand dismissively at the two young people. “He’s paid very handsomely to be lonely,” the man offered, continuing further down the passageway.

Falkenburg cleared his throat. “Getting down to business, doctor? We understand you’re working on a way to generate nuclear fission?”

Doctor Meinstein nodded. “I set up base as close to magnetic north as I possibly could. I believe there may be a way to harness the energies our planet generates as it rotates—it’s magnetic field, to be precise—and use them to power the world.”

“Have you made any progress?” asked the Archmagus.

“Some,” the doctor intoned. The man had reached the door at the bottom of the stairs, and hesitated to open it. “May I ask exactly what it is you are all doing here?”

Absolute Zero rolled his eyes. “Uncle Sam wants us to make sure the Commies don’t come here and take your science fair project.”

A wry grin flashed on the doctor’s face. “I think I know a bit more about what Uncle Sam would want than the rest of you,” he intoned.

“I’m sorry,” Gregaro said, “my dad didn’t mean to-”

“It’s fine,” Doctor Meinstein said, “I know what he meant. I just think that you all could do well to remember that I’m not just some ordinary researcher. I was a boy when my father helped form the Vindicators—your predecessors—about the same age as the lad there.” The man motioned towards Gregaro. “Maybe a bit younger… Point is, I remember my father fairly well, and I remember what he stood for: he wanted to make this world a better place. He loved his country, my friends, and he had no qualms about laying down his life for it… but wanted to make this world a better place for everyone. That’s the principal Patriot Robotics was founded on. You’re welcome to stay, but as far as my work falling into Russia’s hands? If I’m successful, I intend to share these developments.

“As I said, I’m looking into a way to harness the energy the planet generates to power the world.”

“Commie sympathizer.” Gregaro shot his father a dirty look and prayed Doctor Meinstein hadn’t heard what the man had muttered.

“If only the rest of the world were as altruistic as you,” Falkenburg said. “Sadly, doctor, there are men who would see your research as something to monopolize. On the off-chance the Cold Warriors come here, looking to seize you and your work with the intent of withholding it from their enemies, we intend to be ready to stand against them.”

“May we stay?”

Doctor Meinstein looked over the group, and let his gaze linger on Absolute Zero for a moment. “I suppose,” he said. “I’ll have some rooms made up for you.”

“Thank you,” Falkenburg said. Turning towards his team, he regarded the Vindicators coolly. “We’ll work in six hour shifts. Myself and Cecaelia will take the first. The Templar and Liberty will relieve us, with Absolute Zero and the Archmagus taking over after.” Gregaro frowned at the exclusion of his name: it was far too frequently that his father’s teammates wrote him off, due to his lack of an ability.

The Archmagus did not hesitate to leave the other’s company. Gregaro and Lady Liberty moved to help his father along, only for Falkenburg to stop them. “If I may have a word, Gregaro?” The immortal nodded to the Templar, dismissing the man. Taking the hint, Cecalia drifted off after the others.

Lady Liberty hesitated. It was only when the Englishman moved to help her and Absolute Zero along that she moved on, casting the occasional worried glance back at her fiancé.

Falkenburg waited until they were out of earshot. “You have twelve hours to sober him up,” the man said.
Flabbergasted, Gregaro was helpless to do much more that gawk at the man.

“It hasn’t been a problem before,” Falkenburg said, “but he’s had eleven teammates and you to help carry him. Not only-”

“I know,” Gregaro said glumly. He didn’t want to hear anymore. He couldn’t stand to hear it. It was nothing he didn’t already know himself, but hearing it from someone like Falkenburg—from a Vindicator—Gregaro felt like he was to blame. “I’m sorry. I’ll take care of it.”

Falkenburg patted the youth’s shoulder before he made his way down the hallway, leaving Gregaro to handle the rest.

Gregaro took a few moments to consider his plan of attack: his father had twelve hours to sleep off his hangover. He knew the man hadn’t come up here with much—whatever was left in his flask could be dumped outside while he slept.

The only thing that worried Gregaro was how the man would handle the next few days. Maybe he would finally be forced to mourn his wife’s death, and not just retreat into a bottle. Maybe, Gregaro hoped, this was exactly what it would take to bring his father back.

Gregaro made his way down the hall of the laboratory. One of Doctor Meinstein’s assistants pointed him towards the Vindicators’ rooms. With no need to sleep, Falkenburg and Cecalia had forgone the doctor’s hospitality; the Archmagus and the Templar would be sharing quarters, as would Absolute Zero and his son; Lady Liberty, meanwhile, had a room to herself.

The young woman was quietly backing out of the room Gregaro was meant to share with his father, followed by the Templar. “He’s out,” she whispered to Gregaro. “My shift is up next. I’m going to try and get some sleep before then.”

Kissing the young man on the cheek, she and her teammate left Gregaro to creep into the dark, cramped quarters. Sure enough, Vincent Stefansson, stripped out of his uniform, was lying sound asleep on the bottom bunk.

Like the other Vindicators, his father wore colored tights that left no place for carrying their possessions. That was why Gregaro wore his grandfather’s trench coat—plenty of pockets to keep things. Still, Gregaro knew that his father couldn’t bring himself to be far from the drink: he kept a flask of whiskey tucked into his boot, pressed against his calve.

Denied the amenity of a drain, Gregaro slipped the flask into the inside pocket of his coat. However noble his intentions to spill it outside were, they would be for naught if the man brought more with him. The odds were good that more bottles were nestled in amongst his toiletries, in the luggage he had left aboard the Flying Dutchman. The odds were better that the Templar would be telekinetically carrying everyone’s baggage back to the base.

If his father woke to find his flask barren, he might chalk the phenomena up to his insatiable appetite for the drink. If Gregaro worked fast, he might be able to engineer it so that the man’s luggage arrived with her cargo damaged.

Precariously creeping across the room again, Gregaro stole his way down the hall, and back up towards the surface. The cold hit him again, and forced him to pull his coat tighter around his frame. He hurried away from the laboratory’s entrance—it was possible that the others had discerned what Falkenburg had, but if he could spare his father the embarrassment of anyone else finding out about his drinking, he would.

Pulling the flask from his coat, Gregaro moved to unscrew the cap… “And just what are you up to?” Gregaro froze at the sound of the gravelly voice and looked over his shoulder. Sure enough, Kallio stood not far off.

Gregaro screwed the cap tight, and slipped the flask back into his coat before turning to greet him. “Nothing,” Gregaro said, “just… heading back to our ship. I thought I could go get the others’ bags…”

“Yeah, the snooty British man already left to do that.” Gregaro told himself his plan could still work: he would need to find a way to muffle the sound of breaking glass, or risk his father waking up while he enacted his plot. “You got a little crush, don’t you?”

Gregaro stared at the giant perplexedly. “I’m sorry?” he asked.

“Lady Liberty,” Kallio said. “You like her; I can tell. When I threw her earlier, you were ready to kill me, even though you’re… Well…” Kallio motioned from Gregaro, to himself, and back again. “And just now, you were running off to go carry her bags for her. You have a crush.”

Gregaro smirked. “I’m smitten,” he said. “So is she, though: we just got engaged, not too long ago.”

It was Kallio’s turn to look perplexed. “Really?” he asked, incredulously. “You and her?”

“Yes, me and her. Why? What’s wrong with that?”

Kallio shook his head. “Whatever you say, Little Gregaro. I just think it’s a little weird, that’s all. I mean, she travels the world with the Vindicators, you know? The planet’s most powerful heroes? She regularly fights people like the Iron Curtain, and you…

“Do you even have a power?”

Gregaro shook his head mournfully. “My father does, but I… I never manifested his powers. I always could, I suppose, but after all these years? I guess I’m not a Neo-Sapien like you and my father.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Kallio bellowed. “Who said anything about me being a Neo-Sapien?”

Gregaro stared perplexedly at the brute. “I… thought you just said…” Before he could question it any further, the Templar appeared on the horizon, a cluster of levitating luggage floating behind him. “Sorry, Kallio,” Gregaro said, rushing off to join the Vindicator, “there’s something I have to take care of…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Gideon and the Vindicators of 2137 land on Europa...