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Arthur Eld
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1229

Post by Arthur Eld » Wed May 22, 2013 10:35 am

Well, the Affiliation seemed a little too ready for this.

Reminds me of a certain scene from ASOIAF, especially with that bit about the band using weapons.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1229

Post by McGuffin » Wed May 22, 2013 10:37 am

...You know, it took me this long to consider this being Déjà vu's vision.. :P

Also, what is ASOIAF?
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1229

Post by Michuru81 » Wed May 22, 2013 10:39 am

McGuffin wrote:Also, what is ASOIAF?
A Song of Ice and Fire--the book series Game of Thrones is based on.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1229

Post by Michuru81 » Wed May 22, 2013 10:46 am

McGuffin wrote:...You know, it took me this long to consider this being Déjà vu's vision.. :P
I suppose it's possible...
Michuru81 wrote:Chapter XXXIX: I Got a Name
“In the original timeline, Neo-Sapiens went to war with each other. The battle spread overseas; sides were taken and before long, every SPB on the planet was drawn into the conflict. Humanity sat back and watched as they kill each other off, only to move in when the smoke cleared and eradicated the victors. Somehow, someone in the time period you are now in will change what was coming.” Sentry’s mind went to the mysterious figure that had appeared in the column of light with him; if he was from the future, then it stood to reason that this mysterious man came from the same era. “They will have prevented the war and, in the process, give birth to our own world…
I mean, that would mean when Cale wakes up, he'd know what's about to happen, and be in a unique position to change the course of events. [shrugs] Maybe prevent Christmas from going rogue? Perhaps prevent Adonis' death and thus the lives of several other characters?

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1230

Post by Michuru81 » Wed May 22, 2013 7:52 pm

Chapter CXXX: Baba O’Riley
Winter was only a month away. With the change in the temperature, Déjà vu hoped that a scarf wouldn’t look too out of place. He was reluctant to abandon the protection his uniform promised him, and sought to hide it under a T-shirt and baggy jeans. While a jacket helped hide the sleeves of the Kevlar bodysuit, the neck of his shirt still revealed the black material creeping up his neck. Adding a scarf hid the uniform fully.

“Ready?” he asked, turning to the boy sitting on his roommate’s bed.

Fluke nodded glumly and rose to his feet. Together, the two boys sprinted down the hall and hurried into the stairs. In no time, Renewal—waiting anxiously between the first and second floor—came into view.

“She’s one of them!” someone shouted.

Déjà vu looked at Renewal curiously, hoping she would be able to explain what was going on.

Fluke smacked the youth in the shoulder, snapping the Esper’s attention back to him. Immediately, Déjà vu read the alarm on Fluke’s face. “That was Cerulean,” he said. His mouth quivered like he was about to cry. “One of ours.”

Like that, Déjà vu understood. Still carrying his bokken, he launched himself down the stairs. At the ground floor, Gabrielle was pulling a bloody dagger back from Prodigy; crimson stained the side of his girlfriend’s sweater. “No!” he screamed, dashing forward to catch the staggering Prodigy.

Prodigy looked up at him and smiled weakly. She opened her mouth to say something, and then she went limp in his arms.

Déjà vu couldn’t pull his eyes away from her frozen gaze. He couldn’t hold back the tears. “Kasunda,” he said breathlessly, hugging her body tight.

His ears registered footfalls on the stairs. Fluke and Renewal had come to investigate. “Gabby,” Fluke said, “you didn’t…”

“They killed Adonis.”

“They didn’t-”

“We didn’t kill him!” Déjà vu roared. “I was there! I saw what happened!”

“No one else knew he’d be there,” Beekeeper reasoned. “No one but us, and you.”

“Hey, Gabrielle?” asked a nervous Bile. “Bulwark’s trying to climb up the shaft.”

“Then find the biggest, heaviest thing you can budge,” Gabrielle ordered, “and throw it down at him.”

As the Australian moved to oblige her, Gabrielle turned her focus back on Déjà vu. “You made a mistake,” he growled. “We didn’t kill Adonis. Hell, Kasunda and I were trying to protect John and Jessica from what… From… What the hell is wrong with you? With all of you?”

“Cale, I don’t have-”

“I don’t care! I don’t care what you have or don’t have! I don’t care about you or us or any of that! I don’t care that you think we had Adonis killed. The only thing I care about is Kasunda didn’t pull the trigger. She had nothing to do with his death, so why… Why the hell did she have to die?”

Déjà vu threw Prodigy’s body behind him, and Fluke dove to catch her. As he moved to swing his wooden sword for Gabrielle, the Egyptian girl began to bring her daggers in to intercept his attack. Catching his weapon with hers, Gabrielle countered with a kick to his knee—one that made him stumble, and left him easy prey for the charging Cerulean.

Gabrielle sidestepped to let her teammate at him. The blue-haired girl raised her curved sword to cleave the youth’s head from his shoulders. It would have meant his end, had it not been for instinct…

Renewal’s powers left her body in a perpetual state of regeneration. She was constantly healing herself, and while that didn’t mean she ignored pain, it did mean that pain wasn’t permanent. Her value to the teams she had served—both the New Vindicators and the Affiliation—was in acting as a human shield: it had become instinct for her to place herself between her friends and danger.

Her powers were gone, but the instinct was still there. Renewal had thrown herself between Déjà vu and Cerulean, and paid the ultimate price for it.

“Jessica!” Fluke screamed. He collapsed to his knees as he watched Cerulean open his girlfriend with one stroke of her sword.

“Stop it!” Déjà vu snarled, springing up and slamming his bokken into Cerulean’s throat. “Stop the killing!” As Cerulean staggered back, he thrust the weapon forward. Had it been a real sword, he would have stabbed clean through her stomach.

Gabrielle ran to her teammate’s aid, only for Déjà vu to counter with a sword slash of his own. Connecting his weapon to her side, he figured he had to have broken a few ribs, given the pained cry he evoked and the way the girl crumbled.

Cerulean held her throat with one hand and swung her sword with the other. She was slower than she was just seconds before, Déjà vu realized. He effortlessly dodged her downward strike and swung his sword into her elbow—forcing her to release the blade. Relentless in his assault, he quickly brought his bokken back and delivered it to the back of her neck, knocking her out cold.

So focused on fighting the two of them, he had ignored their allies. He heard the sound of a magazine being slammed into place, and turned to see Beekeeper training a machine gun on him. “Get away from him, Fluke,” he ordered.

“No,” Fluke growled. “Cale’s right, Chad! Look at this! There’s only five of us left! Everyone else is dead—for what!?! This has to stop!”

Beekeeper shook his head. “Get away from him.”

Fluke shook his head. “No, Chad. You’re just going to have to kill me too.”

Beekeeper didn’t say another word. He squeezed the trigger, and a spray of bullets struck both boys down.

Déjà vu fell backwards and the instant before he died, he woke up…
To Be Continued... wrote:Cale creates a divergent timeline!

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1231

Post by Michuru81 » Mon May 27, 2013 8:02 pm

Chapter CXXXI: Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World
Cale Ueshiba opened his eyes and saw his girlfriend kneeling beside him on the floor of the Wreck Room. She was wearing a slinky black dressed, picked out especially for Doctor Howell and Doctor Talley’s wedding—not a Kevlar uniform; not a bulky sweatshirt and yoga pants stained with her blood… She was garbed in the strapless dress that she warned him would make him the most envious man at the wedding.

She was alive, and smiling glibly at him. “My hero,” she facetiously whispered.

“What… what happened?” he asked, sitting up. He felt over his chest where the barrage of bullets had struck him.

“You tried to help them bring down Gregaro,” Kasunda explained, raising an eyebrow at his behavior, “and he threw Mirage into you.” She leaned in and kissed him. “Bravery is such a turn on. What do you say we slip out of here? Head back to my room? I promise: the only thing better than seeing me in this dress is seeing me out of it.”

Immediately, he understood: he had been knocked out in the scuffle. His powers allowed him to see the future while he was unconscious. That was why his powers hadn’t been working: it was a dream—a vision of things to come…

More importantly, it seemed that Autumn’s powers hadn’t been awakened yet. That meant that the Affiliation hadn’t yet arrived. Adonis was still alive. Kasunda, Jessica, and all of the others were alive.

He could save them all.

Cale gently pushed Kasunda back. “I need to talk to Doctor Howell,” he said. “I have to warn him.”

“Warn him?” Kasunda asked. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw the future,” he said, climbing up off the floor. “Bad things are coming. We…” He hesitated when he looked at her. He couldn’t bring himself to say it, but he also couldn’t hold back the tears. “It’s bad, Kasunda. It’s very, very bad.”

Reading the expression on his face told her how serious his vision had been. She didn’t say another word: she simply took his hand in hers and went with him to find the headmaster.

It didn’t take them long to find the groom, but it did take some effort to wrangle him away from tending to Miss Wellor’s frostbite—a battle scar given to her by Gregaro. “Sir,” Cale asked. “Sir, it’s really important that I talk to you.”

Only when Doctor Howell had made sure that everyone involved in restraining Gregaro was unharmed did he spare a moment for his student. Even then, the simian put a gentle hand on Cale’s head to hold it steady while he shinned a small flashlight in eye.

“Sir,” Cale protested, “I’m not concussed. Please, just… Listen.”

Doctor Howell clicked off the thin instrument and pocketed it. With a nod to continue, he listened intently to all his charge had to say.

“When I was knocked out, I saw the future. In… I don’t know, an hour? Maybe less? Soon, things are going to get bad. It begins when this wave of energy cascades over the reception. It spreads, and… well, it will encapsulate the entire planet. All of Earth is going to be caught inside of this barrier of energy that will turn off all Neo-Sapien powers.

“That’s when the Affiliation shows up to help. They knew this was coming, sir, and they armed themselves so that they could protect themselves without their powers. They’re left to guard everyone here in the Wreck Room, while Adonis, the Vindicators, Miss Wellor, and Doctor Jenkins go to Patriot Robotics. See, that’s where Autumn is—she’s the person who turns off everyone’s powers. Miss Wellor tracks her there, but Autumn escapes. They’re going to end up in the street, and… Sir, Adonis is going to be shot. There’s a clap of thunder, a gunshot, and he falls.

“The Vindicators bring his body back here, and the Affiliation goes nuts. They think we did it, and they… They lash out with everything they’ve got. The school turns into a bloodbath.” Cale took Kasunda into his arms and held her tight; the vision of her death was still fresh in his memory. “It was bad, sir. Very, very bad.”

Doctor Howell stood before him, rendered speechless by the youth’s omen.

“There’s… something else, you should know about. When the Vindicators leave to find Autumn, there’s… Christmas Clark takes a team to go find her herself. Carl Hamilton, Gideon Newton, Kasunda and I go with her, along with some kids from the Vienna school.

“Christmas… She changes bodies with some girl down there—someone who keeps her powers after what Autumn does. Then, we find Noah Meinstein and these three boys in these weird tanks, and… Christmas tries to kill them, sir. She almost does, but Carl and this French kid, they stay to make it better again, and… Christmas leaves. It’s like…” His shoulders sagged in defeat. “It’s like she goes over to the Dark Side or something. She’s… She throws her body away, because she has a body with powers—with more power than she has now, I mean.”

Doctor Howell bowed his head in quiet contemplation. “Thank you, Mister Ueshiba,” he finally intoned. “Rest assured, I’ll do what I can with this gift. We’ll begin coordinating immediately to prevent these dark turns from coming to pass.”

“Please,” Cale urged him. “We can’t let it happen like that.” He gave Kasunda’s hand a squeeze. “It can’t.”

“It won’t,” Doctor Howell vowed. With that, the groom made his way through the throng of wedding guests, looking to gather an army to fight the future.

Kasunda had a terrified look in her eyes. “What happened, Cale?” she whispered.

Cale shook his head. “We’re leaving,” he said. “Right now. You and me are leaving. We’re not going to pack. We’re not going to change. We’re just going to leave the school. We’re going to leave the island.”

“Where would we go?” she asked.

The boy thought about it. When nothing came to him, he sighed dejectedly. “I don’t know,” he admitted.

“What would we do?”

He smirked. He may not have had a destination in mind, but he knew what he most wanted to do right now: “For starters, I think I want to see you out of that dress…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Black Box's newest recruit...

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1231

Post by flynnarrel » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:55 pm

Ack, just seeing this now!

I like how Fluxx is portrayed, including his tendency to over-explanation - a trait shared by many in the Obliverse. I liked the eye-in-the-finger trick.

He's such a non-combattant character by disposition. Against Meinstein he'd go all out though, he could probably tell the man was inorganic.

Interesting touch about the nature of his powers not being countered by Autumn. Makes a kind of sense though. The Curie's are essentially the amniotic fluid of the Primes that gained sentience and escaped - a mutated amoeba. They are more akin to a created being like the Newton-bots than a human with a spark of Divine power like Neo-Sapiens or Nephalim.

Glad to have him included.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1232

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:11 pm


Chapter CXXXII: Run
She watched as the Reptile took off his coat and then his shirt. When he began to unbuckle his belt, she realized he was stripping. “What are you doing?” she asked. He said nothing—merely balled his clothes into his coat and handed them to her.

He made his way over to a desk and effortlessly hefted it. He took a few steps away, swung the desk around, and threw it for the window.

“What are you doing!?!” she thundered. They had eluded capture, only for him to set off an alarm by breaking out one of the windows.

Still, the Reptile gave her no answer: he merely stooped down, and pressed his arms against his sides, touching his wrists to his ankles. As he rose up, he lifted his arms: webbing now extended from his small finger to his ankles. Satisfied with this transformation, the nude man stooped down, and motioned for her to climb onto his back. “You’re not planning on climbing down the side of the building are you?” she asked.

“Climbing?” He spread his arms out again, waving his arms to simulate flapping wings. “We’re going to fly down.”

“Fly?” she asked incredulously. “You can fly?”

“Pterodactyls were reptiles,” he explained. Again, he motioned for her to climb onto his back. “Hop on.”

Cheryl took a step forward, and then stopped. If Vincent succeeded in his mission, there was no telling when Autumn’s powers would be primed. For all she knew, the Reptile would lose his powers while gliding over the city.

The idea of plummeting to her death did not appeal to her. “I… I believe this is where we part ways,” she said, shaking her head. “Thank you for all assistance.”

“You’re not coming?” he asked.

She looked towards the broken window. “Good luck to you.”

“You afraid of heights?”

She shook her head. “I should regroup with Vincent,” she said, offering back the ball of clothes he had handed her.

The Reptile unhinged his jaw and worked his mouth around the ball. With a final salute, he ran forward and jumped out of the building, spreading his wings and flying over Manhattan…

“Good riddance,” Cheryl said. She turned, and made her way for the exit. The broken window would draw unwanted attention, and if Noah’s security team had her description…

“Vincent,” she said, stealing away into the stairwell, “I’ve made it out of the sublevels. Reconvene at one the safe house.” Rather than go down, she went up, and darted through the door of the twenty-fourth floor. There, she kept the door ajar and listened as heavy footfalls echoed throughout the shaft.

She listened as the footfalls disappeared into the floor below her—no doubt a single security guard investigating the window the Reptile had broken out. Others would join him soon, once he reported what he had found. It was only a matter of time before they looked at the security footage from that floor—before they saw the Reptile’s escape and her darting into the stairwell.

They would have her description soon enough. They would begin looking for her—tracking her. It wouldn’t have been a problem, had Occultus Unus not been captured three weeks ago. “Dammit,” she growled, realizing that perhaps the Reptile’s offer had been her best chance of escaping the building.

With a heavy sigh, Cheryl opened the door and quietly slipped down the stairs. She had twenty-three floors to descend, and if she ran into anyone along the way, she would be taken in. She needed a means of defending herself…

The door to the twenty-third floor was closed. Slowly, she opened it, slipped in, and slowly closed it without making a sound. She snaked her way across the dark floor, walking in a half-crouch behind cubicles and desks. She paused at one cubicle long enough to remove the power cord for a CPU. Wrapping it’s ends around her hands, she snuck up behind the guard, standing beside the shattered window. She threw the cord over his head and moved to choke the man with the improvised weapon.

The man was twice her size, but most of that was fat. His belly hung over his belt and his shirt was close to popping a button. She was thankful that he didn’t think to fight her—in the panic, he simply tried to pull the cord free. Finally, his limbs went limp; his body sagged, and Cheryl tried to let go of the cord.

Her hands felt itchy. Red lines dashed across the back of her hands and over her palms. They felt numb, and trembled. She had never taken a life before. She had seen people killed, and had ordered atrocities to be carried out, but she had never taken a life with her own hands…

Quickly overcoming the shock, Cheryl dropped down beside the rotund man and felt his body for any weapons. He had pepper spray, a stun gun, and pistol. She hastily pocketed all three and then seized his walkie-talkie.

Outfitted with what was useful on the guard, Cheryl hurried back across the floor and into the stairwell. “She’s in Stairwell E!” she heard someone cry across the radio.

Too late, she understood: breaking the window had sounded an alarm. They had cameras on the window, and had no doubt watched her pernicious deed. They had begun to swarm on her position the instant she attacked the man.

Two guards appeared below her in the stairwell. She took the pistol and waited for them to come into sight. As soon as she had the shot, she wasted no time in squeezing the trigger. The first one tumbled backwards and painted the wall crimson as his body slid to the floor. The second was drawing his own firearm when Cheryl squeezed off another round. It missed, giving him the opportunity to return fire.

None of Noah’s security guards had seen combat. They weren’t prepared for an armed invader. When this level of danger threatened Patriot Robotics, its CEO no doubt dispatched the Primes to deal with the situation.

The guard returned fire, only to miss. Cheryl fired again and again and again, shooting the man three times in the chest.

Both men were down. She paused long enough to take their weapons, stuffing on pistol through her belt and carrying the other in her off-hand.

As she resumed her descent, she realized that no one was broadcasting over the walkie talkie now. Someone must have realized she’d taken it—they realized what she was doing and were maintaining radio silence so as to keep her in the dark.

Though her racing pulse said to move with haste, she continued with caution, knowing that on every floor, a trap could be waiting: a door could open to reveal a small battalion waiting to take her down.

“Vincent,” she muttered, “if you’re still up, I could use some sort of distraction…”

As she passed the eighteenth floor, a wave of energy cascaded over her: a milky white energy flowed over everything and passed through the walls, disappearing completely.

She froze, knowing what it meant: Vincent had succeeded in liberating Autumn. Autumn was using her powers. Every Neo-Sapien on the planet was now stripped of their dangerous abilities.

It certainly didn’t help her… or did it?

Cheryl took the walkie-talkie and held down the switch. “My name is Cheryl Colbenson,” she said. For a brief moment, she had considered giving them a fake name: she considered naming herself as Emily Dwyer, after her best-friend growing up. Still, her brief stint as the Director of the Department of SPB Affairs meant there was a chance someone might recognize her face, and call her bluff. “I’m a Neo-Sapien.

“I’ve killed three guards. I don’t wish to kill more, but I will. By now, you should have seen my power signature—the energy wave? If it’s touched you, our lives are now linked. If I die, everyone that energy has touched will die.” She turned and sought out the closest security camera. She stared straight into the lens—she showed them her best poker face—and then she took a gun and put the barrel to her own head. “I just want to get out of here. That’s all. If I see anyone—a guard, an accountant, a freaking intern from the mailroom—I promise you, I will end all of us here and now. Do I make myself clear?”

She stood unflinching, staring straight into the camera, holding a gun to her own head. She prayed that Noah Meinstein wasn’t privy to her gambit: if he told his security team that the energy was a manifestation of Autumn’s abilities and that their lives weren’t in danger, she could Finally, she heard a reply across the walkie-talkies: “Everyone stand down. Clear Stairwell E.”

She wanted to laugh at how easy it was. She forced herself to not even crack so much as a smile as she continued down the stairs, passing floor after floor. The closer that she came to the ground level, the less reason she found to smile. They would let her down to the lobby and then what? Surely, they wouldn’t let her escape. Surely they would pursue her—monitor her movements beyond the front doors. She had several safe houses near here, and if she didn’t think of something soon, she was about to lead them straight to one of them…

A small battalion of brainwashed Neo-Sapiens was waiting for her there—men and women who would be utterly useless now that Autumn’s powers were activated. Still, from where they were perched, her forces had a clear view of the main entrance. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her cell phone, and dialed one of her agents.

“I’m going to be coming out of the front doors,” she told Caliber. “Be ready to give me some cover fire, in case things go south…”

Hanging up, she threw open the door to the lobby and made her way in. Her eyes darted about the floor, looking for any deterrents to her escape. It seemed that they were still buying her bluff: Patriot Robotics’ security was keeping out of sight, for fear she would take her own life, and theirs with it.

Outside, she lowered the gun. It may have been New York, but a woman with a gun to her own head would still draw unnecessary attention. She slipped in amongst the crowd, and when she made it unmolested to the intersection, her spirits soared. She crossed a moment later, still hidden within the throng, and tried to hustle around the corner, out of the shadow of Samuel Meinstein’s monument to progress and the betterment of mankind.

There was no way of knowing where they had eyes. For all she knew, they were patching into traffic cams or satellite images, tracking her every step. She disappeared into a coffee shop and casually walked behind the counter.

Slipping into the back, she spotted the back exit; after stealing a cap and a coat, she darted through it into a back alley. Hastily donning her lazy disguise, Cheryl sprinted for the street, slipping back into the crowd once more.

Keeping her head down, she doubled back, passing the coffee shop and turning the corner once again. She made her way to the building sitting kitty-corner from Patriot Robotics. Slipping inside the derelict building, she hurried to the sixth floor—to the offices she had rented under an assumed identity.

Doctor Cheryl Colbenson hurried inside, and found the last vestiges of Black Box huddled here: Caliber, Okami, Tide, Stockholm, and the Iron Curtain were her agents—all SPBs whose memories had been altered by the relic from which her organization took its name.

“Is it working?” the woman asked, looking to Stockholm.

The youngest of her agents removed a glove and put her hand on Tide’s cheek. When she pulled away, Doctor Colbenson looked to Tide expectantly. “Who are you?” she asked.

“Aurora Leigh, ma’am,” Tide said. “Codenamed: Stockholm.”

Doctor Colbenson couldn’t help but sneer. Though Autumn’s powers were suppressing the powers of every Neo-Sapien on the planet, it was useless against the talents wielded by Espers such as Stockholm.

With Autumn’s powers rendering the students and faculty of the New Vindicators Academy defenseless, there was little that could stop Stockholm from imprinting her psyche on every super-powered being under that roof.

For months, they had whittled away at her forces, leaving her with almost nothing. All she needed was Autumn and Stockholm: with those two women, Doctor Colbenson would resurrect Black Box. With them, she would create an army of super-powered beings, all under her control.

With them, no one could stop her.
To Be Continued... wrote:5.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1233

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:15 pm

Chapter CXXXIII: I Will Follow You Into the Dark
She didn’t know how to call him. When Chienne had last said goodbye to Adonis, he hadn’t left her a forwarding address, or a number to reach him at—only a promise that he would be in touch.

It was a promise he had thus far broken.

Seven months ago, she had been with him when the Affiliation returned to the New Vindicators Academy. She had watched him deduce that Contagion was responsible for the outbreak that had struck down so many of their number. She had been beside him in Egypt, when they found themselves facing Gabriel Farouk. She had held his hand when they returned, only to find the school recovering from an attack by Deimos.

In the days that followed, they welcomed Alan Altair into the world, and laid Steve Brown and Corey Ander to rest. They saw the unease that came from hosting the Affiliation, and he confessed to her that they would be leaving in the morning.

That night, they held each other, and when the sun rose, she awoke alone.

For months, she hadn’t been able to get him out of her head. She had even gone so far as to make a CD for him—a playlist of songs that conjured his face before her. For a moment, she considered running up to her room to get it, but worried that if she moved from the front gates, she would miss his arrival.

According to Doctor Howell’s briefing, the New Vindicators Academy would soon be hosting the Affiliation. He did not know specifics—like when they would show; he only knew that they would arrive after Autumn’s powers were activated. Now, with a milky-white sheet hung across the sky, she knew that the Affiliation would soon be here.

Adonis was coming.

Her phone began to ring. It was a blocked number—it had to be him. She wasted no time in answering: “Adonis?” she asked.

Stunned silence answered her. “How did you know it was me?” he asked.

“I’m waiting for you at the front gate.”

Her companion feigned clearing his throat.

“…With the Curler,” she added, rolling her eyes.

“You know we’re on our way?” Adonis asked.

“It’s a long story,” she said. “Doctor Howell will explain, once you’re here.”

“We’ll be there soon.”

“Adonis?” She thought about the other part of Doctor Howell’s briefing—the part that made her deaf to everything else he had said: Adonis Skraag was going to die. “I love you.”

Again, her words seemed to stagger him. “I love you too,” he said before hanging up.

As she lowered her cell phone from her face, she could feel the titan’s eyes on her. “It’s a good thing your parents are dead—can you imagine how awkward it would be to bring him home to meet the folks? Get it? ‘Cause your dad made him an orphan?” Chienne did her best to ignore him. “Man, could you imagine if you two ever had kids? Did your mom know how to sew? Or do they make capirotes that small?”

“You don’t have to be out here,” she growled.

“Yes, I do,” the Curler said, matter-of-factly. “I’m one of the few remaining people who actually has powers—one of which is I can’t die—so, I’m kind of the best doorman in the history of doormen right about now.”

“The school isn’t going to be attacked,” Chienne said through gritted teeth.

“Uh, were we listening to two different accounts of how this all plays out, because we totally get attacked!” He pretended to crack his knuckles. “Simple solution to that though…”

“You heard Doctor Howell: you’re not supposed to hurt them.”

“Seems to me I’d be doing a lot of people a favor by just putting these guys down here and now…”

“They attack us because Adonis dies. Adonis isn’t going to die.”

“He’s not?” the Curler asked. “What, do you think your fun bags are so Lundgren that he’d ignore the imminent threat to everyone he knows to spend the evening motorboating them? ‘Cause… I don’t know how to break this to you: you’re not Cassandra Goodman.”

“He’s not going to die,” she reiterated.

Two pairs of headlights breached the darkness. Soon, a van and a pickup truck—both, no doubt, commandeered—lurched towards the front gates. The convoy stopped a car’s length from where she and the Curler stood. She was forced to shield her eyes against the glare from the headlights. The passenger door of the van opened; a figure stepped down. She knew it was him—it had to be him.

Chienne’s heart soared. The thought of him not seeing tomorrow pushed her to plod her way towards him. “Bluetooth and Pack-” Before he could finish his sentence, Chienne seized his hooded sweatshirt and pulled him into a kiss.

It took a moment for him to recover from the shock of it. He began to kiss her back; she could feel his hands on her back. Finally, their lips parted. Keeping her eyes closed, she lowered her head, brushing her forehead against his. She forced her fingers to relax—to let go of his shirt. They snuck around behind him, and pulled him into a tight hug.

For a moment, she considered never letting go.

A horn blared. The pickup truck was idling behind the van. She wasn’t sure if its driver wasn’t able to see their embrace, or simply lacked the patience to wait. Regardless, she let go of the Affiliation’s leader.

“Hi,” he said.

Chienne was flabbergasted. “Months go by without a word from you, and all I get is ‘Hi’?”

“Honestly, you kiss me like that, wearing that dress, and my ability to string together anything resembling a coherent sentence is diminished.” He flashed her an ornery smile. “I really, really like that dress.”

Chienne looked down at the strapless black dress that clung to her every curve. “You’d probably like it better on the floor of my bedroom.”

“Vile temptress,” he said. Another blast from the truck’s horn forced them back to reality. “We, uh… We should…”

“Yeah.” She nodded, and followed him to the van. Once he’d sat down, Chienne climbed in after him. She ignored the perplexed look he gave her as she climbed onto his lap, locked her arms around his neck, and rested her head on his shoulder.

His hands fell on her waist and the van began to roll through the gates, meandering up to the front entrance of the academy. She was disappointed when their ride ended. The back door slid open, and the vehicle vomited out the Affiliation. “Chienne?” Adonis asked, as Bile shut his own door with a bang. “We’re here.”
Chienne took a deep breath. “If I ask you to do something for me, would you?”

“I’d do anything for you,” he said. “I’d hoped you’d know that.”

“Don’t go.” It was a request that drew a strange look from him. “There’s a student here who can see the future. He said that we go Patriot Robotics to find Autumn. We don’t succeed. Instead… people die. Students, teachers… the Affiliation…

“We can prevent it all if you just stay with me—let the others fight this one and just-”

Adonis bowed his head. “I can’t,” he whispered.

Chienne began to cry. “You told me that you’d do anything-”

“Whatever this student says happens? We can change it-”

“We can change it by you staying here!”

“Right now, Autumn Colbenson has made us sitting ducks.” She already began frantically shaking her head. “Someone is going to take advantage-”

“No one!” she insisted. “Adonis, this will create a war. The school and the Affiliation go to war, and-”

“Why would we do that? We’re on the same side!”

“There’s a misunderstanding.”

“I’ll make them understand-”

She started to cry. “You can’t…”

“Why? Is it me? Did I lead them against-”

“You die, Adonis. Cale said that… that you go, and you get shot, and you die, and when…” She trailed off in a fit of unintelligible blubbering. Adonis held her tightly—he tried his best to calm her.

Someone pounded on the window of the van. Chienne looked up and saw Cerulean glaring at them through the glass.

Adonis nodded to the blue-haired girl and then looked back to Chienne. He flashed her his best smile and gently brushed the hair out of her face. “I’m not going to die,” he whispered, “but I need to go hear what Doctor Howell has to say. You said he would explain—you meant about the future? About what this student saw?”

Chienne nodded emphatically.

Adonis leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Thank you,” he whispered.

“For what?” Chienne managed between sniffles.

“For caring about me. I don’t deny that I’ve made some bad choices, Chienne. I know that I don’t deserve to compassion, but it’s nice to know that someone spares some for me.”

She brought her hands up to hold his face—to force him to meet her gaze. “Don’t go,” she commanded.
She felt him swallow. “That’s… a difficult thing to promise,” he said. Her hands felt suddenly heavy; they dropped from his cheeks. “For months, I’ve been telling them all how damning Autumn’s abilities are—how this battle could be the prelude to a much bigger conflict. I can’t just sit back and do nothing, Chienne. I can’t…” He sighed. He took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. “I can’t preach to them that there’s a war coming, and when the first salvo is fired, stand back and wish them good luck in fighting it.

“I’m the leader of the Affiliation, Chienne. I have to lead them.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She began to slowly shake her head. “But I’m not going to die. I’m going to hear Doctor Howell out—find out every detail about what’s to come and… Chienne, I may not be able to command the wind, but I can still adjust the sails.”

She was speechless as he opened the door for her. She didn’t say a word as she slid off his lap. He dropped down behind her and took her hand in his. He marched her forward, past the members of the Affiliation who had accompanied him here.

“We’re going to go meet with the headmaster,” he intoned. “Gabrielle, Cerulean, come with me; the rest of you, stay on guard.”

The four continued into the school and funneled into the elevator. The ride down to the sublevel was a somber one. Soon enough, the doors opened. They marched through the infirmary, and up to the War Room.

“-on the word of some boy,” Chienne’s aunt Beth was saying.

“I have faith in Cale, and in his powers.” Doctor Howell held up a hand as he saw the newcomers to their meeting. “Mister Skraag, we’ve been expecting you.”

Adonis nodded in greeting. “I understand some congratulations are in order.” He looked to the woman sitting beside the headmaster. “This must be your bride. My condolences: weddings are meant to be happy occasions; not rife with situations like these.”

Doctor Talley smiled politely at Adonis and then looked to her husband to continue.

“I’m not sure how much Miss Bedford has told you,” Doctor Howell said, “but one of the students here is a young man who sees the future whenever he sleeps.”

“Cale Ueshiba?” a stunned Gabrielle asked. “He was one of the Espers my group met in Peoria.”

“Before your defection?” asked Magnus.

Gabrielle glared at the man. “No, actually, I had defected long before that.”

“Mister Ueshiba’s ability functions when he is knocked unconscious,” Doctor Howell loudly intoned, in an attempt to regain control of the meeting. “There was some unpleasantness during the reception: it seems that Black Box is able to trigger some sort of hypnotic effect in their former captives. They brainwashed one of my students into attempting to abduct a member of this faculty. Mister Ueshiba was amongst those who tried to restrain him. In the ensuing melee, he was knocked unconscious. When he awoke, he warned us about Autumn’s powers. He went on to tell us that you and your entourage would arrive on campus following the display of her abilities, and that you would lead a group to Patriot Robotics.

“Mister Ueshiba then joined a covert team formed by several of our students who retained their abilities. This group apparently intended to locate Autumn before your team. At some point, the two teams met each other, merged, and Mister Ueshiba born witness to your death.

“I’m afraid, Mister Skraag, that this young man predicts that an assassin will end your life with a single gunshot. Your body is brought back here, and your comrades—after incorrectly concluding that your blood is on our hands—seek to avenge you.

“Though the vision ended as Cale was killed, he claims to have witnessed countless deaths—all stemming from your own demise.”

Adonis ran a hand through his long, blonde hair. “Wow…” was all he could muster at first. He quickly recovered. “If he warned you before hand, why didn’t you use that information, and find Autumn before any of this came to pass?”

“We tried,” explained Doctor Howell. “Katherine wasn’t able to detect her until the wave of energy passed over us.”

Adonis grimaced. “I feared that Meinstein’s drugging her may have rendered her powers beyond her control—that she may have been the catalyst for his developing a method of entering the Astral Plane. Likely, she was kept there until now; that would explain why she avoided detection.”

“We know where she’s at,” grumbled Dane, “so why don’t we just go get her?”

“Because we don’t know where she is exactly,” explained Doctor Howell. “We estimate that she is inside Patriot Robotics, but it’s impossible to tell where in the building she is. At least, not from here. Once Katherine is on site, she can begin to close in. However, Mister Ueshiba assures me that in the vision he had, such a stratagem was attempted, and the results were not favorable.

“What we know is that Autumn Colbenson will be smuggled out of the building. It is highly unlikely that Doctor Meinstein would simply walk her out the front door. We know that there are numerous sublevels below the building—sublevels accessible via the city’s sewer system.”

“That’s no good,” Adonis said. “If Meinstein engineered this, he has to have some sort of contingency plan. This is the man who built the Portal armor: it is not outside of the realm of possibility that he has the ability to teleport her elsewhere.”

“Not according to Mister Ueshiba’s account,” Doctor Howell said. “He seemed to indicate that Autumn was moved from Patriot Robotics—but not in a massive leap like teleportation would suggest.”

Chienne watched as Adonis suddenly rammed his palm into his forehead. “It’s not Noah,” he said. “Noah’s had Autumn secured on the Astral Plane for years—why bring her out now? He should have plenty of ways to move almost instantaneously.” The man began to shake his head. “It’s not Noah who’s using Autumn—it’s her sister.

“Between the Vindicators and the Affiliation, we’ve had Black Box on the run. We’ve been targeting their bases—thinning out their numbers. We made her desperate, and this is what we pushed her into doing.”

“The gunshot,” Chienne said, suddenly piecing it all together. “Cale said that Adonis is… There’s a sniper somewhere outside of Patriot Robotics, right? Who knows how many men Cheryl still has under her command?”

An electronically garbled throat clearing brought her attention to the armored man standing across the room. “We may have someone who can help us here,” Portal said carefully. “A few months back, we extracted our mole from Black Box—Cloud Goodman, Cassandra’s brother. His powers have evolved since he was a student here: he can transform his body to any state of water, as well as alter his appearance to look like anyone. He was advising us from where the Department of SPB Affairs was holding him, but… he was here at the wedding.

“I wasn’t made aware of it until after Autumn turned off everyone’s powers, but… apparently, he was found out by a couple of the students and restrained.

“I trust Cloud. He… He was Doctor Colbenson’s right-hand man. He can give us an idea of what resources they still have.”

“That’s if Black Box is behind this,” offered Isaac Newton. “Right now, we’re operating only on pure conjecture.”

Adonis looked to Portal. “Did the Vindicators ever apprehend Stockholm?” he asked. “What about Tide or Okami?” When Portal admitted that they were still at large, Adonis made his way to the computer in the heart of the room. Delving into the school’s files, he brought up information on all three former students and displayed it on the monitors. “Aurora Leigh,” he said, looking to Katherine Wellor, “Peter Titus, and Reon Okami. Can you find them?”

Katherine closed her eyes for a moment and concentrated on those three faces and names. When she opened her eyes again, Chienne saw realization shinning in them. “They’re not far from Autumn,” she said. “Same direction, almost the same distance.”

“That’s how I get shot,” Adonis said. “Cheryl went in for Autumn, and likely has all of Black Box watching Patriot Robotics. Someone must have made me, taken the shot, and…” A devious grin flashed on his face. “Remind me to thank Cale.”

“We know where their agents are,” snarled Dane, “I say we take everyone we can and put these sons of bitches down once and for all!”

“I’ll get Mirage, the Aurelia, and the Curler,” said Portal.

“No,” Adonis said firmly. “The Vindicators are heroes, and this is war. Heroes don’t fight wars—soldiers do.”

Adonis turned to Gabrielle and Cerulean. “Tell the Affiliation to get ready—we leave in ten minutes.”
To Be Continued... wrote:4.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1234

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:16 pm

Chapter CXXXIV: Fix You
Prompt turned at the knocking on her door. “Just a moment,” she called out. Her fingers latched her uniform the rest of the way. Her gloves and boots remained on the bed as she crossed the dorm room, and answered the door.

At first, she didn’t recognize the man who greeted her. He was the same height she was, with salt-and-pepper hair and skin that conjured memories of the teak coffee table that resided in her grandmother’s living room. Then she took in the sight of his ill-fitting tuxedo—practically hanging off his lean frame—and the familiar glasses he wore. Immediately she understood: this was the depowered Doctor James Howell. “Miss Clark,” the man intoned, “may I have a moment of your time?”

Prompt stepped aside and motioned for him to enter. Holding up a hand, the headmaster shook his head. “I’m afraid it wouldn’t be proper,” he explained. “I hope not to take up too much of your time, in any case. Miss Clark, I’m here because I know what it is you’re planning.”

Prompt opened her mouth to tell him that she didn’t know what he was talking about, but decided against it. She had changed from the dress she’d worn to the wedding into her uniform. There was no sense in insulting the man by denying what was so apparent: she was planning on joining the battle.

“With all due respect, sir,” she said, “I’m the most powerful person at this school—possibly on the planet.”

“Yes,” Doctor Howell said, “there’s not a person here who’s forgotten exactly who bested the Basileus. No one here is disputing that fact. If I may explain, however?

“During the scuffle with Mister Vincentsson, Mister Ueshiba was knocked unconscious. When he opened his eyes again, he set about to warning me of the future he had seen. This barrier, Miss Clark? It is something he predicted. What’s more, he predicted the arrival of the Affiliation.

“He went on to tell me that after a group was dispatched from the school, you rallied a group of students to follow you into the city—Cale among them. He said that you used your powers to locate Autumn Colbenson, led a force into the sublevels of Patriot Robotics, and nearly cause the death of three innocent boys.”

Prompt froze. The idea that anyone would die because of her was appalling—not because she the idea of causing anyone death was so odious to her, but because she was so sure of herself that she didn’t believe she could fail in such a way.

The young woman reached out with her mind, and telepathically probed the recesses of the headmaster’s psyche for a full explanation. Almost instantly, she saw Cale standing before her. He wasn’t really there, she knew: it was just how Doctor Howell perceived their conversation. “There’s… something else, you should know about,” Cale said. “When the Vindicators leave to find Autumn, there’s… Christmas Clark takes a team to go find her herself. Carl Hamilton, Gideon Newton, Kasunda and I go with her, along with some kids from the Vienna school.

“Christmas… She changes bodies with some girl down there—someone who keeps her powers after what Autumn does. Then, we find Noah Meinstein and these three boys in these weird tanks, and… Christmas tries to kill them, sir. She almost does, but Carl and this French kid, they stay to make it better again, and… Christmas leaves. It’s like…” His shoulders sagged in defeat. “It’s like she goes over to the Dark Side or something. She’s… She throws her body away, because she has a body with powers—with more power than she has now, I mean.”

“You don’t want me to become stronger,” Prompt hissed.

Doctor Howell looked stunned. “My dear, I want for you the same thing I wish for all of my students: happiness. I want-”

“You want to keep me here,” she railed, “docile and controlled. You’re all afraid of me—afraid of what I can do!”

“Miss Clark, you misun-”

“Shut up!” Prompt roared, telekinetically flinging the man backwards and slamming him into the wall.

Immediately she saw the look in his eyes: she saw the fear and sadness she had planted there. “I’m-” She began to apologize—to explain that she hadn’t meant to. She second-guessed herself, deciding that admitting that her outburst had been an accident would only validate their fears about her. “I’m done here,” she told him. “I’m dropping out. Anything you can teach me, I could just as easily learn instantly through telepathy. I am done being held back.”

“Christmas, please!” Doctor Howell sprang to his feet. Without the additional mass his body normally possessed, he was quite spry. “I am begging you: don’t do this!”

As he moved to charge her, Christmas telekinetically seized him, swinging him up and into the ceiling, then slamming him down and into the floor.

Her boots and gloves floated across the room to her; she wasted no time in hastily adorning them. “I’m going,” she said. “I’m going to find Autumn Colbenson and stop whoever’s trying to wipe us out this week.”

She turned and the wall of her room exploded outward, leaving nothing but a view of the East River, and Astoria beyond it. “When I’m done saving everyone again, don’t bother with thanking me; don’t worry about apologizing.” Prompt levitated off the floor and began to float away. “Just go right ahead and kiss my ass, James.”
To Be Continued... wrote:3.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1235

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:19 pm

Chapter CXXXV: Gimme Sympathy
Looking down at himself, wearing the school uniform, Adonis couldn’t help but feel strange. It wasn’t just because it had been almost two and a half years since he’d last worn the Kevlar bodysuit, or because of how the formfitting uniform felt on him, but because of what it represented…

The school colors of the New Vindicators Academy were black and white, symbolizing good and evil. The uniform was more black than it was white, and while there were practical applications to that—such as the small degree of stealth it afforded—it was emblematic: no matter how overwhelming the darkness, light still prevailed, cutting a path through the darkness to victory.

As the leader of the Affiliation, Adonis didn’t know if he was part of the black, or part of the white. Was he a force for good, or evil? Three years ago, several students had died because of him. He wasn’t the one who smothered Addison Truman in her sleep; his hands weren’t the ones holding the bat used to cave in Lucas Howell’s skull; he hadn’t stabbed Malachi Brown through with a sword…

He hadn’t been the one to murder any of the people immortalized in the school’s memorial gardens, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t responsible for their deaths.

At the time, he tried to justify those acts as casualties of war. They were necessary sacrifices made in forging a better world for their kind. But he hadn’t made a better world. If their lives had been sacrificed, they had been sacrificed in vain.

Adonis felt strange—not because of how the uniform felt, but because he didn’t feel worthy. Still, he was leading the Affiliation in a mission where none of them possessed their powers. They were going to need all the protection they could get.

Stepping out of the locker room, he was surprised to find one of the school’s students leaning against the wall. He’d heard that the students were being contained in the Wreck Room—that in the event of an attack, it would be the safest place for them.

The boy couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen. He wore a cap of dishwater-blonde fuzz and a plaid sweater vest over a plain white T-shirt. His stance was relaxed, letting Adonis see the inside of his arm, and the numbers that had been forever burned there.

“Sir?” the boy asked.

“Hello,” said Adonis cordially. It felt so different to not have to hide his face—to be able to face someone without his powers entrancing them.

“My name is Rick Trasker, sir. I’m a Neo-Sapien. Well, I was a Neo-Sapien…”

Adonis corrected him: “You are a Neo-Sapien. We’ll get the power turned back on soon enough.”

“The humans did this, didn’t they?” Rick asked. Rick held out his arm and Adonis was able to read the numbers: 00254. “They’re trying to make us weak, right? They’re going to come for us…”

“We won’t give them the chance,” Adonis said. “We know what’s causing this. My team and I are going to stop it.”

“It”. He was referring to Autumn Colbenson as an “it”. Was she just another necessary sacrifice to be made on the road to tolerance, he wondered…

“I want to come with you,” Rick said. “I may not have my powers, but I can help you!”

Adonis smiled. He didn’t want to patronize the boy, but he didn’t want to put a child on the battlefield either. “I think the best place for you is right here,” Adonis said. “In case there is an attack…”

“This place is not the best place for me, sir,” Rick said, shaking his head. “They don’t understand… They all think that things are going to change—that things will get better. They don’t know what it’s like to lose the people you love—to be treated like something less than human, just because you can do what no one else can…”

Adonis frowned, and wondered how many other angry young Neo-Sapiens the world had to make before it was enough.

He could see so much of himself reflected in Rick. As Rick got older, would that rage grow? Would Rick kill his classmates in the pursuit of justice against the people who had burnt numbers in his arm?

Rick needed guidance that the school couldn’t give him—that Adonis alone was qualified to dispense. “We’ll talk when I return,” Adonis said, “for now, please keep everyone here safe. I’m entrusting them to you.”

The youth nodded and Adonis walked down the hall hopeful. He didn’t believe the boy would raise an Affiliation of his own in the next hour, but he was hopeful that he wouldn’t do anything too rash any time soon.

He made his way down the hallway, traveling past the war room and the infirmary. Lurker and Black Widow were waiting for him at the elevators. “Everyone’s waiting for you top side, boss,” Lurker said.

Adonis nodded. As the three boarded the car, he found himself wondering what to do about Rick: should he simply talk to the boy and maybe warn Doctor Howell to be wary of him? Should he extend an offer to take the boy from the school? He looked to his two associates. “Do you two ever regret not staying here? Graduating, I mean?”

“And then what?” Black Widow asked. “It’s kind of hard to have a normal life when you have four arms.”

Lurker shook his head. “Last time we rolled through here, Sandy asked me the same thing.” The doors opened and the trio stepped out into the foyer. “I’ll tell you what I told her: if I had stayed and graduated, what then? Become a Vindicator?” He chuckled. “Can you see me doin’ that? The alternative is… what? Get a real job; spend eight hours a day in a cubicle, doing the same menial, thankless job day in and day out? Get married? Squeeze out a couple of kids?” He shook his head. “You guys know me: does that really sound like me?”

“That’s not what I’m asking,” Adonis said, stopping before they left the school. “Downstairs, I met a young man who has suffered because of his status as a Neo-Sapien. He’s young—maybe a sophomore. He reminds me of myself, J.T.: hurting and angry and all alone. I don’t know, but… I get the impression that his family was killed. I think he belongs with us, but… by inviting him to join us, aren’t we effectively robbing him of the experiences high school affords? Friends, dating… all of that?

“I mean, there’s a reason you have to be eighteen to join the Army. What if he’s too young to make this sort of decision?”

Lurker shrugged. “The way it sounds, someone already robbed him of his adolescence.”

As Black Widow pushed open the doors, Adonis followed them out, and tried to put such thoughts behind him. He couldn’t allow himself to be distracted by Rick’s situation—not when so much more was on the line…

Stepping outside, he found the caravan he had arrived with had expanded by five: Portal, the Aurelia, and Fossick were necessary for the mission, and he had expected that Chienne wouldn’t sit it out, but Lodestone’s presence came as a surprise. “Planning on joining us, Magnus?” he asked.

“Is that going to be a problem?”

“I expected you would be staying here, to protect-”

“The school’s got enough protection,” Lodestone growled.

“I was going to say ‘your family’. Magnus, you have a wife and two children to-”

“You started this.”

Adonis didn’t know what to say. “Excuse me?”

“You came to me months ago, Adonis—you had Lurker bring you into my home, and you handed me everything you and your little hit squad had dug up on this bitch. You put this in my hands, and you didn’t give a shit that I had a wife and kids then. Why do you care now? Why do you have a problem with me seeing this thing through?”

“Because when I came to you with our information on Autumn, I didn’t know you had died!”

Portal took a step forward and slowly raised his hand. “So, I have a fun question.” The armored man turned to Lodestone. “Adonis came to you months ago with information on Autumn Colbenson, and you didn’t tell anyone about it because… what?”

Adonis rounded on the obdurate man with a furious look. “You didn’t share the information with the Vindicators?”

“Hey,” said Magnus, “if you wanted them to know, you should have taken it to them!”

“I took it to you because I know you! I took it to you because despite everything that has transpired between us, I trusted you! I took it to you because I didn’t think you would attack me the moment I turned up on your doorstep!”

“Whatever,” Magnus growled. “We can stand here and bitch and moan, or we can go do something about this.” He scanned the group, taking in everyone’s expressions. “What’s it going to be?”

Adonis sighed and ushered for the Affiliation to gather around. “I trust Lurker’s filled you all in: this is it. This is our final showdown with Black Box. They’re on the ropes, and this…” He looked up towards the milky white barrier suspended high over the school. “This is an act of desperation.

“The Aurelia and Fossick are going to be scouting out Manhattan for us, beginning on the roof of Patriot Robotics. Fossick will approximate where Black Box is holed up. Once we have them, we move hard and fast: Portal will generate a doorway through to join the advance group.

“Keep in mind that Black Box still controls several Neo-Sapien agents. As you all know, these people are not in their right minds. As such, I want no casualties.”

“What about the others?” asked Fluke. “Mel, and Chad, and-”

“The others will rendezvous with us once we have a location,” Adonis said. “Bluetooth and Pack Master are still standing by at Patriot Robotics; Rapunzel and Beekeeper are keeping an eye on the Church of Genetic Purity, to make sure they don’t try and take advantage of our momentary weakness.

“Any other questions?”

When no one said anything more, Adonis looked to the sorceress. Fossick put a hand on the Aurelia’s shoulder, and the Vindicator began to cast a spell that would instantly move the pair across creation.

Minutes passed with the Affiliation and their hosts stifled by an uncomfortable silence. “They’ve got ‘em,” Portal said then, receiving the hail from the Aurelia’s communicator. “Let’s move out…”
To Be Continued... wrote:2.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1236

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:23 pm

Chapter CXXXVI: Open Fire (Acoustic Version)
He hated to admit it, but it was a good plan. They had deduced that Black Box was responsible for the situation they now found themselves in; they had determined where the remaining contingent of their forces had gathered. From there, it was easy enough to determine which exit they would take in spiriting Autumn out of the building…

The woman was their ace in the hole: so long as she was safe, Neo-Sapiens would be denied their powers. It was an ability that Noah Meinstein had kept in check by keeping Autumn on the Astral Plane. It was a success Adonis now strove to emulate. Once Autumn was spotted, the Aurelia would move to try and banish the woman back to her ethereal prison, giving everyone back their powers.

Adonis warned his forces that things were far from simple, however: Cale’s vision of the future suggested that Black Box had a sniper watching the building. It was unlikely that they would be able to reach Autumn without drawing gunfire. If that was to be the case, they were going to need to take Black Box by surprise—but not before they could radio in a warning to change direction.

This mission demanded simultaneous strikes: one group would need to storm Black Box’s base and kept their spotter from preventing the Aurelia from getting to Autumn.

Adonis had considered almost everything. He had neglected only one thing: it had been a rough year for Magnus Loder…

Things had started on a high note: Magnus’ wedding to Maria was a joyous occasion, eclipsed only when, weeks later, the couple found out they were expecting. While their honeymoon in the Caribbean served as a nice respite from the battles that perforated their lives, it was back to fighting almost the moment they came home: Maria fought against renal kidney failure, brought on by systemic vasculitis; his father fought Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; his mother fought to keep her sanity as she watched her husband ravaged by dementia; his children, born a month premature, had to fight to survive…

Some battles were won: Maria and their children were healthy; his mother persevered. Some battles were lost: Magnus was forced to attend his father’s funeral a second time.

The worst battle had come when Deimos attacked the school, and killed Magnus. The Nephilim had murdered Magnus’ positive side—the part of him who was capable of love and compassion. Deimos killed the side of him who was a patriot. Deimos slew Magnus’ self-sacrificing side.

His confidence was gone; all that was left was arrogance. His insolence had eclipsed his tactfulness, while his recklessness made his other side’s vigilance a distant memory.

All that remained was a cruel, tenacious man who had no problem with taking another person’s life… and that was the one thing Adonis had not taken into consideration.

The Affiliation had known that Autumn had the potential to negate their abilities, and had begun to stockpile weapons to use in such an event. Armed with a M16 borrowed from their trove, Lodestone made sure he was part of the team tasked with protecting the Aurelia. Adonis had told Lodestone to help provide cover fire for the sorceress, and it had forced Lodestone to summon up all of his acting ability to play the role of an obedient soldier.

Magnus crouched in an alley, behind a dumpster, with Circe. Once upon a time, they had been classmates. He remembered taking American Government and Civics with her at the New Vindicators Academy. He also remembered fighting her the day they graduated, and she revealed herself to be an agent of the Affiliation.

As thoughts of training the rifle on her filled his head, Bluetooth’s voice came across the communicator in his ear: “We have visual on the target. She’s with Vincent Haynes.”

“Roof team, ready?” asked Adonis.

“Room team is good to go,” came Portal’s response. He was positioned up there with Bile, Dingo, Mirth, Girth, Black Widow, and Lurker.

Adonis and Chienne were on the ground, along with Gabrielle, Cerulean, Fluke, Renewal, Mara, Morph, Bluetooth, Pack Master, Circe, Lodestone, and the Aurelia. “You all know what to do,” Adonis said. “Go.”

Circe dashed out from behind the dumpster and barreled out of the alley. She trained her rifle on the wall of the building where Black Box was held up. All around her, her teammates were coming out of hiding, and moving to lay down cover fire so that the Aurelia could—quite literally—work her magic.

Lodestone had other plans.

If the Aurelia banished Autumn to the Astral Plane, what would happen then? That was where Noah Meinstein had kept her, and Black Box had no trouble getting her out once—surely they could do it again. Would the Aurelia take her to the Aurelius’ sanctuary? It wasn’t as though the Chapel was any safer than Patriot Robotics had been: during Portal’s stint as the second Blitzkrieg, he had been remanding criminals to the Aurelius’ care, and all of them had escaped.

As Lodestone saw it, there was no guarantee that putting Autumn back on the Astral Plane would prevent them from being in this position again further down the road. Even if the Affiliation squashed Black Box here and now, someone else would take their place. The Church of Genetic Purity would make a move to free her, or Noah Meinstein would let her loose when it was most convenient to him and whatever agenda he possessed.

As Lodestone saw it, there was only one way to make sure Neo-Sapiens around the world were spared from Autumn’s powers…

Lodestone trained the rifle on Autumn, and he squeezed the trigger.

He had little experience with firearms: until now, Magnus had relied entirely on his ability to manipulate magnetic waves to attack. If he needed to, he could coil a steel girder around a man to restrict his movements; other times, he would propel a handful of ball bearings at his opponents. In a pinch, he could take a bullet fired at him and return it to the sender.

He had never fired a gun before. Accuracy was a major issue. He had intended to kill her with a headshot, but inexperience coupled with the weapon’s recoil meant that the volley of three-round bursts he unleashed didn’t fall where he wanted them.

“NO!” With a right cross to Lodestone’s face, Adonis knocked the man to the ground. The blow took him by surprise, and the rifle fell from his fingertips and to the ground. “What did I tell you before we left!?!” Adonis roared. “No casualties!”

“Says the man who stockpiled more assault rifles than David Koresh,” railed Lodestone. “I think you’re sending some mixed signals here.”

Adonis kicked the rifle away. “Stay down, Magnus,” Adonis ordered.

From the ground, Lodestone looked across the street: Tinnitus and Autumn were both down. The Aurelia was almost to them. If Autumn wasn’t dead, one quick spell from the sorceress would spare her life and damn everyone else’s.

On instinct, Lodestone flung an arm out. The parked car he had intended to hurl into Autumn failed to budge. He hung his head in defeat, knowing that Adonis had closed the window of opportunity he’d had.
Suddenly, Lodestone caught movement out of the corner of his eye: something had dropped out of the sky. Out of reflex, he turned, and took in the sight of Prompt rising up from a crouch.

He watched as the girl scanned the street, looking for something. She seemed to find it when her gaze settled on Autumn.

An invisible force caused Autumn’s head to whip around. The gunfire erupting high above them barely stifled the sound of her neck snapping.

As Autumn’s body crumbled on the street, Lodestone smiled. Climbing to his feet, he put his hand together to applaud his student for her decisiveness. “Thatagirl!” he cheered. He spun around, and with a wave of his hand, launched a car upwards, into the side of the building where Black Box was camped out.

And like that, everything stopped: with the realization that their powers were no longer being suppressed, the Affiliation froze. Fluke and Mara looked to the sky for verification, and when they saw the night sky, rather than a field of white, they mouthed silent thanks to invisible forces; Renewal crossed herself; Gabrielle simply conjured her soul-weapon, drinking in the power she now channeled…

“We have our powers!” Cerulean roared. “Let’s show them what we can do with them!”

The sounds of gunfire erupting several stories above drew looks. A moment later, the wall of the building exploded outward and the Iron Curtain came hurtling towards the street.

“No,” Chienne said. With a wave of her hand, she made sure he never landed. Instantly, Lodestone knew that she was using magnetic powers imprinted from him to hold the Iron Curtain in the air. Then, as casually as she had stopped him, she hurled him down the street and out of sight.

Lodestone looked to the rifle Adonis had kicked aside. With a thought, he tore the gun apart, and commanded the bullets to rise into the air. Before he could do anything with them, Adonis lunged for Lodestone and tackled him to the ground. Looking over Adonis’ shoulder, Lodestone caught the sight of something flashing just above them. Something streaked across his vision an instant before they were pelted by debris.

Lodestone pushed Adonis off of him and looked at the spot where he had been standing. Caliber was standing up from the crater he’d made with his crash landing. Though a pair of goggles covered his eyes, the mad snarl his face had contorted into told Lodestone that he was out for blood.

Before Lodestone could scramble to his feet, Caliber exploded forward again. He slammed into Lodestone. His feet left the ground as the Manther carried him down the street. In an instant, they were rocketing across the East River. Given the breakneck speed Caliber flew with, Lodestone knew that if he did not shake loose of the man’s grip, he could end up almost anywhere.

Stopping Caliber was out of the question—even slowing him down was an impossible task: Caliber’s ability not only allowed him to fly at mach speed, he was invincible and unstoppable so long as he was in the air. He couldn’t stop him, but he could make him change his course.

Someone in Black Box had the bright idea to outfit all of their troops with ballistic armor. The bodysuit Caliber for contained ferrous metals—the domain of Lodestone. With a thought, Lodestone jerked at Caliber’s chest and made the man veer. Realizing that he could control his opponent’s direction brought a grin to Lodestone’s face. Suddenly, the two shot upward. “You’re impervious to harm,” Lodestone roared over the vacuum. He magnetically yanked at Caliber’s armor and threw them into a dive. “But you still have to breathe, right?”

Lodestone took a deep breath and the two hit the water. It seemed to take Caliber by surprise. With all his magnetic might, Lodestone forced them apart. Swimming for the surface, he continued to push Caliber down—holding him below the surface by the sheer force of his Neo-Sapien power.

Once he had made sure Caliber would no longer be a threat, Lodestone oriented himself and flew back towards Manhattan. Descending to the street, he found a curious sight: while most of Black Box’s superpowered agents were lying crumbled in the street, the Affiliation was still fighting their own people.

Mirth had wrapped himself around Renewal, while Dingo was doing his best to hold off Pack Master. Fluke was panting, standing over an unconscious Bile, who laid beside a screaming Circe. Every so often, a blur of motion Lodestone recognized as Girth shot through the crowd, attempting to whittle away at the street team’s defenses. “What the hell happened?” Lodestone hissed.

“Stockholm,” Adonis said. “She’s turned most of the roof team.”

Chienne stayed by Adonis’ side, still empty handed against the evolved threat. As soon as he questioned why she hadn’t merely conjured her soul-weapon and slashed her way through Stockholm’s puppets, Tide lunged for him. Lodestone gave a muffled scream as the man filled his throat and nostrils—using his malleable body to suffocate the man.

Lodestone flailed wildly, but there was no shaking Tide off him. Desperate, Lodestone began to ascend into the sky. Tide could elongate his aqueous body, but there had to be a limit to how far he could reach.

Climbing higher and higher, Lodestone was soon hundreds of feet above the isle of Manhattan, and outside of Tide’s influence.

As Tide’s amorphous appendages left Lodestone’s breathing passages, the man hovered in place. He tried to drink in the air, only to find the atmosphere too thin.

Descending towards the battlefield, the moonlight glinting off of something metallic summoned his attention to one of the surrounding buildings. There was a man perched there, watching the battle through the scope of a rifle. Immediately, the sight of him conjured Cale’s prophesy: a shot rang out, and Adonis crumbled at the feet of Patriot Robotics, resulting in the deaths of countless people on both sides…

Lodestone smirked as he reached out with his powers. “I’ll take that,” he said as he levitated close to the sniper.

This close, Lodestone was able to recognize the man: though he’d heard rumors of his continued activity, it had been years since they’d last seen each other… It had been years since this man attacked the courthouse, intending to avenge Cole Eibernov, the man Maria had killed…

It had been years since Lodestone had come face-to-face with Justice…

Lodestone reached out with his powers, intending to take hold of the gun. Nothing happened. The weapon failed to budge from Justice’s hands. Alarm flashed over Lodestone’s face as Justice smirked and said, “Non-ferrous gun. Just for you…

“And after I avenge Senator Bedford, I’ll avenge one-hundred and thirty-seven thousand innocent people.”

He knew that he couldn’t stop the bullet. When he tried to take the gun, he had found nothing ferrous about it—not the gun, nor its ammunition had responded to his powers. Still, when Justice pulled the trigger Lodestone tried to stop the bullet. He failed, and was forced to rely on the polyarylamide fabric his uniform was composed of for protection. Though it hardly rendered him invincible, the uniform did its job in absorbing most of the bullet’s energy, and keeping it from inflicting too devastating of an injury.

Justice was a former cop, and seemed to quickly realize what had happened. He adjusted tactics easily enough and raised the barrel of his gun to train it on Lodestone’s head.

Panic set in and Lodestone dropped out of the sky. As he went into a freefall, he began to strip his surroundings, calling them to his side and weaving them into a shield he could use to protect himself against any further barrage.

Before he hit the ground, Lodestone caught himself. Letting the shield hover overhead, he thrust his arms out and used the iron bracelets he wore under his gloves and began to propel himself horizontally down the street.

Ahead, he could see Chienne, standing with Adonis, using her own magnetic powers to restrain the Stockholm-infected members of the Affiliation while simultaneously cobbling together an airtight tank to contain Tide. Suddenly he understood what she was doing: she knew that Adonis was going to be shot, and was planning on deflecting the bullet. “It’s Justice!” Lodestone screamed, putting a hand over his ear. If Magnus Loder believed in a higher power, he might have prayed to it in the hopes that such a small action would help cut back on the rush of air’s effect on his voice. “He’s the shooter! He has non-ferrous bullets!”

He didn’t care what happened to Adonis, but he refused to fail. He refused to fulfill Cale’s prophesy—he refused to return with Adonis’ dead body and set off a chain reaction that resulted in countless deaths.

His spirits soared when he saw everything metal rise up and move to create a dome around the couple. They had heard him, he realized. They heard him, and responded accordingly.

A shot rang out from above and behind him—Justice. Lodestone didn’t know who the madman was firing at and he didn’t care: he flipped in the air and came to a halt. Standing on nothing, Lodestone looked back to the building he had just dropped down. “You’re done,” he growled. Reaching up to his ear, Lodestone removed his communicator.

He didn’t want anyone listening in on what he was about to do…

With a thought, Lodestone pulled more metal to him. Wrapping it around his head and hands, the man cobbled together a helmet and gauntlets. Plunging the shield ahead of him, Lodestone soared back up the side of the building, stopping at the roof. “Surprise, you son of a bitch!” he snapped.

Lodestone wasted no time in lunging in. In hand-to-hand combat, Justice had the advantage: the man was a veteran officer of the New York City Police Department, while Lodestone had spent his senior year taking basic self-defense classes from former Vindicators. It hardly surprised him that Justice was able to dodge his wildly blow, but Lodestone had something he felt trumped experience…

The cellular tower perched atop the building crumbled and flew around them. Lodestone threw another punch and Justice dodged, countering with a punch that bruised a rib or two. Lodestone took another swing, and Justice moved to dodge, only to find scrap coiled around his ankles, anchoring him to the spot.

Taking Lodestone’s punch on the chin, Justice reached for his knife only to find his wrist suddenly bound. Lodestone swung one of his gauntlets into Justice’s cheek, only to bring a left hook into the man’s chest. As he brought back his right fist, Lodestone shaped the metal, adding a series of inch-long spikes over his knuckles. He swung it into Justice’s gut, tearing away at the woven fibers that composed the man’s body armor.

Justice swung with his right and Lodestone responded by binding that limb as well. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just tear you apart? With a thought, I could just… I could pull you in four different directions.

“You’d deserve it, you know?” He chuckled. “Did you know that I’m married? Maria Espada. Once upon a time, you-”

“Cole Eibernov’s murderer married Senator Bedford’s assassin?” Justice asked. “And they say opposites attract…”

“I did not kill Senator Bedford! I was set up! A shape-shifter… You know what? You don’t care. Nothing I could say would change your mind—would convince you that I’m innocent. You… Nothing…” Lodestone shook his head. “You made up your mind. You’re just like everyone else…

“Do you know who Lloyd Hilton is? Was? He was this kid… I didn’t really know him, but he was a student of mine. You teamed up with that piece of trash Absalom, and Absalom killed him. You’re all about eye-for-an-eye, right? Well, Lloyd never killed anyone. He never hurt anyone. He died because he was different, and you helped make that happen.

“You helped a killer slay an innocent kid. You. You did that. Blood is on your hands, Justice. Your hands-”

‘Mister Loder!?!’ cried Prompt’s voice in his head.

“Christmas?” he asked. “I’m a little occupied here…”

‘You should get back on the ground, sir. It’s bad. It’s… it’s pretty bad.’

“I’ll be down in-”

‘Miss Bedford was shot, sir.’

Lodestone glared at Justice. The man had squeezed off a single shot as she moved to raise a dome around her and Adonis. Justice’s trigger finger must have been faster.

‘She’s gone, sir.’

Lodestone took off like a bullet, heading southwest. He sent Justice north.

And south. And east, and west.

Touching down on the street, Lodestone paid no mind to the figures tangled up in the debris Chienne had bound them with. He ignored the barrier the squad cars and EMTs made around the battleground. He failed to Portal trying to explain the situation to the police and hurried into what was left of the dome.

“I heard this pounding,” Prompt said, falling in line beside Lodestone. “I used my T.K. to peel the walls back and…”

Lodestone entered the shell and laid eyes on Adonis, crying, cradling Chienne’s lifeless body in his arms.
To Be Concluded... wrote:Boom.

Cosmic Scion
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1237

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:24 pm

Chapter CXXXVII: The W.A.N.D.
Cameron Kirk’s voice was a somber one as he reported from the outside of the police line: “Patriot Robotics prides itself on building a better tomorrow, but today, things are grim. The site of the latest superhuman brawl, it was here that at least one of the participants paid the highest price imaginable.
“F.L. Oakley, the press secretary for the Vindicators, issued a statement in which the white field that reportedly encapsulated the globe was called the catalyst for this battle. In a maneuver executed by-”

Cameron’s image cut out, only to be replaced by the face of a young man with long, blonde hair hanging down over his face. “People of the world,” he said in salutation, “my name is Adonis Skraag. I am a Neo-Sapien, codenamed…” He looked up and the camera met his ice blue eyes. “…Acrimony.

“A friend of mine, codenamed Bluetooth, is also an SPB. Her ability allows her to communicate psychically with technology. It is thanks to her powers that I am able to come to you on every channel across the world. I am broadcasting through radio transmissions, cutting across cellular lines, and even streaming over the internet. I feel it safe to assume that the majority of the Earth’s population is receiving this message, which is both a message of hope and a warning…

“My abilities are not dangerous—at least, not in the sense that people like you typically fear people like me. One aspect of my power ensures that no matter what language you speak, you will understand me. Yet these abilities were something Forrest Bedford feared me for. He may have been acquitted by a jury of his peers, but those twelve people were not me, and did not see what I saw—what I was not permitted to testify as to: Forrest Bedford murdered my parents.

“You see, I have experienced persecution first hand. I have experienced heartache and loss… simply because I was born different. I have met many others like me who have been made to suffer at the hands of normal humans, ignorant humans who fear us simply because they do not understand…

“If you’ll humor me enough to let me paraphrase a man much greater than I: when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your brothers and sisters with impunity; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old asking in agonizing pathos, ‘why do humans hate Neo-Sapiens?’; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Neo-Sapien, living constantly at tiptoe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments…” He swallowed hard. “Then and only then will you remotely come close to understanding why I, a student of the New Vindicators Academy of America, formed the Affiliation. Only then will you understand the notions that I was combating, and only then will you come close to grasping the catalyst of the White War.

“It’s a vicious circle that we are all guilty of perpetuating: I wanted justice for my parents, and blinded by zeal, I brought about the slaughter of one-hundred and thirty-seven thousand innocent people. It was an event that made you angry—angry enough to do something about it. It spurred Senator Amy Bedford to strive for the most powerful job on planet, and to campaign for it on a platform of hate and vitriol… She sent Neo-Sapiens everywhere a message, and one Neo-Sapien responded with actions that caused this country to rise up, attack us in our homes, brand our arms, and put us in camps!

“My power makes it so that you understand me, no matter the language I use… but I fear that the only language any of us understands is the language of violence.

“Then so be it.

“Once upon a time, I actually believed that mankind could come to accept us. I see now that this was… a childish dream. It was foolish of me to imagine a world where you would let us stand by your side. That’s fine: if we cannot stand by your side as equals, then you can bow before us as gods.

“I am a god who seeks vengeance for every one of his brothers and sisters slain by your hatred and ignorance! I am a god who is vehemently seeking justice, and rest assured: when I find it, it will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

“I hereby declare war on the people of Earth for crimes against humanity. Like it or not, that is what Neo-Sapiens are: humans. We are humans—humans who are tired, and exhausted, and just plain pissed off, and we have a message from the oppressed and persecuted:

“We got the power, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

  • The End

Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
Posts: 5693
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL


Post by Michuru81 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:30 pm

Adonis’ hands were trembling as he delicately raised the jewel case up. Under the transparent plastic shell he could see the rewriteable disc adorned with what he recognized as Chienne’s hand-writing: there was no mistaking the lazy strokes she made her capital ‘A’s with: “For Adonis” it read in black marker.

He allowed himself to cry at the sight of it, and he continued to cry as he opened it up. He bawled as he popped out the disc tray in his computer and sobbed as he pressed play. As the iconic piano melody was queued up, Adonis froze and his tears subsided. Chienne’s final message caressed his ears and summoned his resolve…
  • I used to rule the world
    Seas would rise when I gave the word
Torrent wasted no time in expelling Oxidane from their battle: the veteran Vindicator’s body was sent flying and soon vanished from sight. Lodestone rounded on the boy with a sneer. “Good to see the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree,” he growled.

A steel beam was thrust at the man and Lodestone only just barely stopped it from taking his head off. Even then, he struggled to hold it in place; instantly, he understood what such a phenomenon meant…
“I can understand Tide Junior turning traitor like this,” Lodestone growled, watching as Dipole descended onto the battlefield, “but you, great-granddad?”

  • Now in the morning I sleep alone
    Sweep the streets I used to roam

“I was only trying to help you!” Christmas exclaimed.

“Help me!?!” Jordan thundered. “You bloody raped me!”

  • I used to roll the dice
    Feel the fear in my enemies’ eyes

“Do you know what this guy would do to you if the tables were turned!?!” Rick shouted. “He would not hesitate to end your sorry excuse for an existence if he had the chance!”

“Please!” the guard begged. “I’m married… I have th-three ch-ch-children… I’m just trying to provide for them…”

“Do it, Woodford!” Spittle flew from Rick’s mouth as he commanded the boy. “Spit in his eyes! Cover his nose and mouth!” Andrew hesitated. “Make this son of a bitch pay!”

  • Listen as the crowd would sing,
    “Now the old king is dead
    Long live the king.”

Once upon a time, Magnus Loder had dreamed of leading the Vindicators. The day Forrest Bedford had posed as Magnus—the day he’d been framed for the assassination of Senator Amy Bedford—he believed that dream had died…

He didn’t know it then, but his dream wasn’t dead: it had merely changed shape. It was not Magnus Loder’s destiny to lead the Vindicators; it was his duty to lead the Paroled and it was their mission to stop the Affiliation at all costs…

  • One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me

“I can’t believe I’m seeing this,” Incendiary said, his voice like a crackling furnace, “Lex Sway: super-powered terrorist.”

“If’s all the same to you,” Anomaly growled, “I’ll wait for judgment from someone who hasn’t murdered innocent children in cold blood.”

  • And I discovered that my castle stands
    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

“I can’t just sit by and do nothing!” Carl roared.

“You have to!” snapped Gideon. “Adonis called himself Acrimony! He declared war on mankind! This has to be what Aphelion was talking about: the Acrimony Wars are what change you—what create Sol Invictus!”

  • I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringin’
    Roman cavalry choirs a-singin’

“I know what it’s like to be counted out—to go away, and come back, only to find that everyone you ever loved just forgot about you, and moved on…” Her sympathetic look was replaced by a fiendish grin. “But I can give that back to you, Gregaro. I may not be able to send you back to the past, but I can bring what you long for to the present.

“Join us,” Bio said, “and I’ll turn back the clock—make Virginia your age.”

  • Me, my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in the foreign field

“I wanted to talk to you,” Pandora said hesitantly, “about what it would take to transfer me to the Vienna school…”

  • For some reason I can’t explain
    Once you’d gone it was never
    Never an honest work

“You won’t.” He couldn’t help but smirk at the blind boy. “You don’t have the balls to-”

“I do, actually,” Coulomb said. “I’ve taken a life before. I put enough volts through him to stop his heart, and then I restarted it, just so I could do it all over again.”

“You’re bluffing.”

Coulomb shrugged. “One way to find out: ask Absalom how he died—when you get to Hell, I mean.”

  • But that was when I ruled the world

“I’ve seen what you become, Christmas!” Déjà vu roared. “Doctor Howell’s wedding? I was knocked unconscious. I saw a possible future where you threw away your body—your body!—for raw power! Carl, Gideon, Anne, Martin, Jason… It didn’t mean anything to them, but Kasunda and I? We followed you out of Peoria, Christmas! We were with you the whole way! We saw how much you’d changed…

“We saw how far you’d fallen…”

  • It was a wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in

“You need warriors!” Deimos raged. “You need someone who can handle himself in a fight! You need me!”

“You're right...” Lodestone sighed. “And I’m desperate.”

  • Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn’t believe what I’d become

“You believe in justice above all else, right?” asked Acrimony. His wrist rotated, grinding the barrel of the gun into Justice’s forehead. “You murdered Chienne Bedford—murdered! Chienne Bedford never killed anyone and yet… her blood is on your hands, Justice. You are a murderer and… well, you believe in an eye for an eye, right?”

  • Revolutionaries wait
    For my head on a silver plate

Lodestone laughed with delight as the executioner’s hood fell over Adonis’ head. “Looks like it fits,” he said.

Suddenly, he felt very heavy. Instantly, he understood what it meant: Lodestone turned, and took in the sight of a fist just inches from his face.

The blow knocked Lodestone to the ground. He opened his eyes and saw two of his teeth lying beside him. “God that felt good,” Anomaly said.

  • Just a puppet on a lonely string
    Who would ever wanted the king?

Doctor Colbenson grabbed at Acrimony’s coat with trembling hands. “Please,” she begged as he pushed the pistol’s barrel against her forehead. “Please, don’t do this…”

  • I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringin’
    Roman cavalry choirs a-singin’

“If it weren’t for me, the Basileus would have conquered everything! Do you know what it’s like to save the world, only to be told that saving the world isn’t good enough!?! ‘Sorry, kid! Go back to school while we pretend to be heroes!’”

“You think I don’t get that?” Lodestone roared. “My entire existence was about preparing to be a Vindicator. It’s in my blood—it’s who I am!—and I can never have it because some asshole killed his wife while wearing my face!”

  • Me, my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field

“You know I killed your brother, right?”

Gabrielle said nothing: she simply continued to glare at the Curler through eyes filled with azure flames.

“So, this is all about revenge, huh?”

Gabrielle chuckled. “If you knew what this was really about, you’d snap.”

  • For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
    After all this work

“‘What army?’” Bio asked. She had to fight back the urge to laugh. “My power gives me command over the grave. I will empty the warrens of Heaven and Hell to fight for me.

“What do you have?”

  • But that was when I ruled the world

“Who’s there?” Adonis roared. “Show yourself!”

  • Oh oh ohhh

She rushed out of the shadows and swiped at his stomach. He jumped back in time, and instead of his flesh, her talons raked only his shirt.

  • Oh oh ohhh

Behind her, flames surrounded one member of her company: Malachi Brown’s aura illuminated the faces of Doctor Styles, Lucas Howell, Shannon Sharp, and thirty-six other students.

  • Oh oh ohhh

Adonis trembled as he saw his attacker now. “Addison?” he asked. His voice wavered. “Addison Truman?”

  • Oh oh ohhh

“When Chienne died, his focus died with him.” Cerulean shook her head sadly. “I joined the Affiliation because I wanted to make a difference—I wanted to help change the way our kind is treated. Now, we’re nothing more than a petty revenge squad.

“Adonis Skraag is no longer fit to lead the Affiliation. Follow me, and I’ll make sure our purpose is rejuvenated.”

  • I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringin’
    Roman cavalry choirs a-singin’

“You’ll notice the distinct lack of memorial gardens,” Razi explained. “That’s because there is no need for them here, Mister Altair. Here, people like myself are allowed to go to school without wondering who is going to attack us next, or which of our classmates won’t survive to graduation.

“You always wanted a normal life—for you, and your family. Sir, here at the Reeder Institute, you can have everything you ever wanted.”

  • Me, my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field

“Then we go to war.”

Headmaster Howell sighed. “To quote the great philosopher Edwin Star, ‘War, hunh, good God, ya’ll! What is it good for? Hunh! Absolutely nothing! Say it again!’”

  • For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
    After all this work

“I thought we could pick up where we left off,” Katie said. She began to blush as a smile crept across her face. “Do you remember where we left off, Ben? On the couch, before the lights went out? Before Ryan came and… Do you remember where we were?”

Ben couldn’t process what was happening, let alone articulate a response. His wife simply looked to him, wearing an expression of worry.

  • But that was when I ruled the world

“One for Forrest Bedford,” Acrimony said as he pushed the first bullet into the chamber. “One for Noah Meinstein. One for Cheryl Colbenson.”

He slammed the fourth bullet in with as much anger as he could fit into so small of an action. “One for Justice.”

The fifth bullet he paused on. He reflected on it mournfully and with a quivering lip and trembling hands, he put the final bullet into the chamber.

“And one for me.”


    ira deorum

    “Wrath of God”


Cosmic Entity
Cosmic Entity
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Post by Arkrite » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 pm

I suspect Adonis is going to have no shortage of neos who'll want to help him after having been tossed into the camps, having loved ones killed....