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New Vindicators, Chapter 1193

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:12 pm

Chapter: XCIII: I Want To Hold Your Hand
Pandora woke up on the floor of the chemistry lab. For the last month, she had been in the habit of never sleeping in the same place twice—never allowing anyone to predict where she would be when she was most vulnerable to surprise. It was a habit she had begun in early October, following Jude Bellow’s nocturnal torture. To her, it didn’t matter that he’d been expelled: part of the boy’s ability included teleportation; if he wanted to come back to the school, there was nothing that could stop him.

Her paranoia had only increased following Justice and Absalom’s joint raid on the campus just a week ago. Though Justice had come to execute Maxwell Swift, she had believed he had come for her. She had told the man as much…

“Stop it!” Phaeton screamed. “Stop it! He didn’t do anything wrong!” Rage was bubbling up inside of her but she restrained herself. Fighting Justice only led to her friends getting hurt. If it was spare them, she would do anything… “I’m the one you’re after—me! Leave my friends alone and just…”

Justice turned on the young woman and hesitated. “You?” he asked. “Why would I be after you?”

Phaeton looked up and fixed Justice with a quizzical look. “You… You’re not after me?”

“Not unless you’re the one who turned Kyle Fairbanks of Palmer, Alaska into a flaming effigy.”

She had all but confessed to killing her father and, try as he did, Max had failed to kill Justice. The man had a knife slipped between his ribs; he had been shot, engulfed in flames and thrown out a window. Against all odds, Justice had escaped. Granted, there was the chance that he drowned trying to escape Governor’s Island, but his body had failed to turn up in the weeks since that night…

Once Justice had finished licking his wounds, he might return to the New Vindicators Academy with a new target. He might come for her and she was determined not to make the job easier for him.

Gathering up what little bedding she took with her each night, Pandora opened up the window and slipped out over the quad. She wasn’t supposed to use her powers like this—a girl flying between the buildings might draw unwanted attention to the school—but it let her avoid having to answer any awkward questions about why she was heading back to the dorms with a rolled up sleeping bag. Besides, she never felt more alive than she did while flying.

Razi would be awake—the girl rose with the sun. Fortunately, Razi respected her roommate’s privacy. She never asked her where she went each night or why; she didn’t even mind that Pandora kept their window unlocked. Putting her palms on the sill, Pandora prepared herself for the sight of Razi sitting on the edge of her bed, her nose buried in a book.

Tossing her bedroll atop the bed she hadn’t slept in for weeks, Pandora moved to the closet and grabbed the strings of her shorts. Before untying them, she glanced over her shoulder at Razi to ensure the young woman was focused on her book. Despite Razi’s apathetic outlook on nearly everything, Pandora felt self-conscious around the girl: Razi was so thin and Pandora carried a little extra padding on her bones.

With her back to her roommate, Pandora hastily stripped and dressed; she tugged on a black T-shirt and a plaid skirt before sitting down to cut a hole in her red fishnets and lace up her knee-high boots. Without so much as a word to her roommate, Pandora darted out the door and froze at the sight that awaited her…

Vines raced from her door, across the floor and snaked up the wall; they trailed over the ceiling and down the wall to her right, leaving a spiraling path that led down the hall to the stairwell.

Pandora cautiously stepped out into the hall and approached the adjacent wall to examine the flowers born on the vines: from her threshold, she could see the violet flowers packed with so many long, broad petals that its core was obscured, but on a closer inspection she saw that those flowers were not alone… What she had mistaken for flecks of white amongst the field of green and violet were actually tiny flowers roughly the size of her fingernails.

A few other girls were standing in the hall, spellbound by the sight that had greeted them this morning. Some had noticed Pandora’s emergence into the hall and greeted her with giggles. Looking back to her door she saw there was no mistaking that this path began at her room. “Razi?” she called back into the dorm. “I think your brother’s up to something…”

“He’s not my brother,” Razi said reflexively. The apathetic young woman gracefully strode to the threshold and scanned the floral arrangement. “But this is strange… even for him.”

“What’s he up to?” Pandora asked.

Razi pulled their door shut behind her and set off down the hall, wearing a determined expression. Whatever was happening, it was enough to pry her away from her book long enough to investigate the source of this phenomenon…

Pandora quickened her pace to fall in beside the Filipino girl. They marched past the giggling girls and threw open the door to the stair well. Here, the flowery path twisted around the stairs, leading them down to the main level. There, they followed it towards the Lighthouse and into the Common Room, where they ran into a familiar face…

“Excusez-moi,” Martin Curie said as he turned a corner and ran into the taller of the roommates. The Frenchman was holding the hand of a tall, busty redhead—his classmate, Tatjana Nelson. “We were looking for ze cafeteria?”

Tatjana’s eyes shone with recognition. “You’re…” she struggled for a moment to summon her name to memory. “Pandora Filash, right?” she asked.

Pandora stared at the pair in wonder. “You’re both students at the Vienna school, right? What are you doing here?”

“Some of us came early, to ‘elp wiz ze preparations…”

Tatjana smiled at Pandora. “Fiore’s waiting for you,” she said, pointing in the direction the path of flowers led. Snapping out of her stupor, Pandora followed the German girl’s outstretched hand and through the patio doors, saw the flowers rise up to form a tunnel leading down towards the shore.

“Fiore?” Pandora asked. She looked to Razi and then back to the door. At first she stepped cautiously but as realization set in, she soon broke into a run. She pushed the sliding doors aside and hurried down the trail the Italian boy had left for her. Sure enough, at the end, she found Fiore Caspian standing on the shore, staring out towards the Manhattan skyline.

“Fiore?” she asked, striding towards him. “What are you doing here?”

Fiore turned and flashed her a roguish grin. “Waiting for you to wake up,” he said, stepped forward the join her. “I am glad that you have found the trail I left.”

“It was kind of hard to miss,” Pandora said, “and a little embarrassing…”

“Embarrassing?” His expression changed to a look of confusion. “Why would it embarrass you? I was the one who made the flowers…”

“It was embarrassing because… well, you left a trail of flowers leading from my door to… Wait, why did you leave a trail of flowers from my door?”

Fiore’s grin resurfaced. “I know that we did not spend much time together when you were in Vienna but since you and your classmates left, you have frequently entered my thoughts. Since then, I have gladly looked forward the day when we met again.” He reached down and took her hands in his. “Pandora? Would you be my date to tomorrow’s wedding?”

Pandora leaned back and raised an eyebrow at the boy standing before her. Six-feet-tall, Fiore was a head taller than she was; his body was lean and his frame was lithe. His shoulder-length blonde hair shimmered in the rays of the rejuvenated sun and his rich blue eyes pierced her to her soul. Looking at him, Pandora felt he wouldn’t have been out-of-place on a magazine cover. Fiore was a fetching young man and in her mind, far out of her league…

“Is this some sort of joke?” she asked, snapping back her hands. “One of your friends put you up to this? What, the French kid? The guy who turns into candy?”

“It is not a joke.” There was a hint of urgency in Fiore’s voice as he raised his arms in surrender. “Please, Pandora… I am being truthful: I have thought of you fondly and I would like greatly to sit with you—to dance with you…”

Pandora shook her head. “Guys like you don’t usually go for girls like me, Fiore.”

“I am not like other guys,” Fiore said, flashing her a smile that he hoped would convey his innocence. “Please, Pandora, I really do like you-”

“Might as well save your breath, pretty boy.” At the sound of his voice, the blood in Pandora’s veins turned to ice. Shivers ran up her spine as she turned to face their guest. “Trust me: I’ve barked up that tree before.

“Between you and me?” Jude Bellows shrugged. “I’m starting to think she plays for the other team, if you catch my drift.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Pandora versus Jude

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Re: New Vindicators, Chapter 1192

Post by flynnarrel » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:39 pm

Michuru81 wrote:NEW VINDICATORS #109: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
To Be Continued... wrote:He's baaaaaaack...

...and no, it's not Elemenoh...
thank the Gods

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, 1194

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:13 pm

Chapter XCIV: Under My Thumb
Pandora didn’t waste time asking questions like “What are you doing here?” or “What do you want?” Instead, she thrust her hands forward and unleashed a torrent of ionized gas at her former classmate.

The blast passed harmlessly through Jude’s body and Pandora cursed his intangibility. “You must have a death wish coming back here!” she snarled.

“Do you see what you’d be getting into, going out with her?” Jude asked, looking to a visibly astonished Fiore. “Our girl’s got a temper, bro. Did you know she offed her old man?”

Pandora screamed and unleashed another blast of energy for the incorporeal boy. A low snarl emitted from the girl was the only warning the boys had that she was about to let loose another barrage. Before she could let her fury fly, Fiore jumped between her and Jude. “You realize I can fly,” Pandora hissed, “though I’m not so attached to you that I won’t just blast through you!”

“Please, Pandora!” Fiore exclaimed. “I believe it is abundantly clear that his ability will keep him protected from yours! Further, your energy blasts may draw unwanted attention to your school… which, according to our briefing, does not operate in the open the way our school does.”

“Yeah, you heard him: give it up, Pandora! There’s nothing you can do to hurt me!”

Fiore looked over his shoulder to the younger boy. “Really?” the Italian asked. “You think baiting her is the best plan of action?”

Miss Bedford descended on the shore and looked over the trio. “Well, that explains a lot…” she muttered. “Pandora? Wait for me in the Wreck Room. New kid…”

“Fiore,” the blonde boy offered.

“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

Fiore cast a worried look to the fuming Pandora. “Go,” she growled. Granted her permission, Fiore reluctantly headed back to the school.

“You were supposed to report to the headmaster’s office, Jude.”

“What!?!” Pandora snapped. “You knew that he was-”

“They called begging me to come back,” Jude laughed. “They want me. They need me. You do too, Pandora. You just don’t know-”

“Go to the headmaster’s office!” Miss Bedford snapped at him.

Jude laughed. “Newsflash, bitch: I don’t go to this school anymore. You can’t make me do-”

The blonde woman silence Jude with an icy glare and Pandora suddenly smelt sandalwood. It was the second time she had experienced such a sensation around the woman—the first being the day she came to recruit her to join the school…

“I’m sorry,” Jude said, suddenly cowed by the instructor. “I… I shouldn’t have called you that. It was rude and I… I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I’ll… I’ll go see Doctor Howell now.” Jude teleported away and the smell of sandalwood went with him.

“What the hell just happened?” Pandora asked.

“I’m sorry,” Miss Bedford said. “I knew calling on him was a bad idea but Doctor Howell was desperate…”

“Oh, we’ll get to that,” Pandora growled. “I just… how did you get him to do that? And why did I smell my grandpa’s chess set?”

“You have a lot of fond memories of your grandfather, don’t you?” asked Miss Bedford.

“Y-yeah, but… what does that have to do with anything?”

“One aspect of my powers gives me this… ability to persuade people. I get more than a silver tongue though: it lets me to evoke emotions of love and creates illusions that affect the senses. It might change my appearance slightly to make me look more appealing or conjure phantom smells that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling… It’s almost always some sort of memory that-”

“I smelled it the night I met you—the night you invited me to enroll at this school.”

Miss Bedford’s eyes widened, betraying her sudden realization that she had shown her hand…

“You used your powers on me to make me come here?”

“Pandora, I wouldn’t-”

“Deny it, Miss Bedford! Tell me you didn’t use your powers to control me!”

“No! I wouldn’t control you! I just… I think I might have given you the wrong impression: this ability lets me know what people want to hear and what they need to hear-”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better!?! God! First Jude, then Fiore, and now you!?! I am so sick of people trying to play mind games with me!”

“You have to believe me, Pandora-”

“A lot of people seem to be saying that today.”

“I would never try to control you, I—I just wanted to help you!”

“What? Help me like you helped Lloyd?”

Miss Bedford began shaking her head. “That’s not fair-”

“It isn’t!?!” Pandora swung her arms forward and sent a blast of plasma screaming from her palms and towards her teacher.

Miss Bedford crouched and suddenly shot into the air. As the blonde woman leapt out of the path of the initial blast, Pandora sent a barrage of attacks flying towards her. Each one missed their mark and soon, Miss Bedford had gracefully landed behind her pupil. “What happened to Lloyd was… Gregaro’s right: I should have made him leave—both of you. I made a mistake and Lloyd paid for it. Believe me: there’s not a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about what happened-”

“This isn’t about Lloyd!” Pandora snarled, sending another stream of energy for the woman. Miss Bedford swung her arms to her side and was catapulted to the right.

“Pandora, please calm down! I know you’re angry but let’s talk about this-”

“Why!?! So that you can use your powers to make me believe whatever lie you’re going to tell me!?!”

“No!” Miss Bedford snapped. “Because I… because I owe you an apology!”

“Apologize to this!” Another beam of energy erupted from Pandora and again, Miss Bedford effortlessly dodged it.

“I don’t want to fight you, Pandora!”

“Too bad, because I want to kick the crap out of you!”

It felt like she couldn’t hold up her arms. Her limbs dropped to her side and suddenly, she felt as though something were pushing her down. Suddenly feeling very heavy, Pandora was powerless to do anything but collapse to the ground.

“In case you haven’t noticed,” Kasamir Flaegler, another of the Viennese school’s students said, “she’s not taking the offense. She’s been dodging your attacks—attacks that I’m told are fairly flashy and sure to draw attention to your little compound.” The blind boy turned and gave his classmate—Jack Rexroth—a nod of thanks. “Maybe I’m out of my element here, but I believe I speak on behalf of your faculty when I ask you to calm down and stop endangering your presence here.”

Miss Bedford sighed as she looked upon Pandora, struggling under the effects of the Austrian youth’s mastery over gravity. “I’m sorry for using my powers on you, Pandora. Our concern was that your story would draw Justice and on your own like that? Without the right training? He would have had no problem taking you out. Doctor Howell and I both thought that the school was the best place for you—that you’d be safe here. When you seemed hesitant to our invitation, I thought that if I just gave you a small push…”

“I haven’t been safe though,” Pandora growled. “Jude was a nightmare and it’s only a matter of time before Justice comes after me…”

“You would have been on his radar one way of the other,” Miss Bedford said. “I know that’s not that comforting but… Pandora, your chances are better here. Me? The other New Vindicators? We’ve got your back, Pandora.”

“Like we had Lloyd’s?”

“You lost a classmate, I take it?” Though from where she lay, Pandora could not see him, she saw Miss Bedford’s head swivel towards Kas. “Last year, my friends and I went up against a group of terrorists… Their leader was out for revenge—she was angry with just one person and yet, so many innocent people were pulled into that war. So many people lost their lives, all to settle this one score. In the end, we triumphed but… one of our classmates lost his life fighting them.

“I did not know him well, but he left friends behind. Some of those friends spent weeks and months looking back at it—trying to think if there was something more that they could have done or something they could have done differently. Some blamed themselves. Some blamed each other. In the end though? This young man died simply because sometimes horrible people do horrible things—not because of anything we or our teachers did or did not do… but because a bad people do bad things.”

Pandora glared at Miss Bedford. “Like try to control your mind…”

Miss Bedford sighed. “Let her up,” she said to Kas. The youth must have hesitated: it was a moment before Pandora didn’t feel as though she were being pushed into the ground. As she began to stir, Miss Bedford took a few steps forward and offered down her hand.

It was a gesture Pandora ignored.

“Again: I’m sorry. What happened all those months ago? I thought I was protecting you. We knew your origin might draw Justice’s attention and we wanted to give you the best chance against that. Maybe I should have just been upfront with you, but given everything you’d just been through? I didn’t think telling you stories about the Boogey Man was such a great idea… You may not think it but we really do have your best interests at heart here, Pandora-”

“Then what the hell is Jude doing here?”

Miss Bedford sighed. “I told him that you’d find out—that Jude couldn’t be controlled… Doctor Howell asked Jude to come back to help us on a mission, Pandora. We were going to have you sit it out but…”

“Why?” she asked. “What mission? What possible reason would there be to ask for his help?”

“We’re going after a teleporter. Prompt can find him, yeah, and I can fly the Blackjack, but keeping up with him if he decides not to stick around and talk to us? With Solon’s arm like it is, Jude’s our best hope of-”

“What about the Aurelia? What about Portal? The Vindicators have two people who can teleport and unlike Jude, they can take an army with them.”

“They’re busy. The Aurelia’s going to be shuttling the guests over for tomorrow’s ceremony and Portal’s sort of on-call. This assignment? It’s not exactly a high priority, Pandora. We’re not going after someone who’s on a crime spree or threatening to blow up the world or anything like that. This assignment is something that’s personal to Doctor Howell: he didn’t want to occupy the Vindicators with it, in case something catastrophic happens.

“Though, honestly, they’d have a better chance of convincing this guy to come back than we would…”

Pandora raised an eyebrow at the woman. “Wait a minute… All we’re supposed to do is find the guy and convince him to come back with us? Invite him to the wedding? Why the hell doesn’t Doctor Howell just pick up the phone and call him?”

“It’s not that easy,” Miss Bedford said. “As near as we can tell, he’s a vagabond. He lives off the streets and he stays on the move. Doctor Howell wants us to do more than invite him to the wedding: he wants him to act as his Best Man.”

“We’re going after the headmaster’s Best Man? Who is this guy?”

“Have you ever heard of a man named Lex Sway?”
To Be Continued... wrote:The hunt for Lex Sway...

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1195

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:15 pm

Chapter XCV: A Hard Day’s Night
Chienne watched as Geist vanished, taking Solar Flare and Prompt with him. “We’re up next,” she said, looking to Coulomb.

“Why bother?” the blind boy asked. “I’m only going to slow you down or get in the way…”

“You’re an important part of this mission, Gage. Your ability lets you find and black out any nearby security cameras. You keep us…” She trailed off when Geist reappeared, alone. “Get ready.” The youngest of their group grabbed Coulomb’s wrist while slipping an arm around their advisor’s waist. Before she could fathom protesting, their surrounding instantly changed from the Wreck Room at the New Vindicators Academy to a riverfront at dusk.

It was the Saint Croix River—a river that forged a portion of the border between Maine and New Brunswick. As Geist vanished, Chienne turned to her students. “How close are we?” she asked.

Prompt’s eyes were closed; her mind was no doubt scouring the landscape for any psychic trace of their target. “Close,” she said.

“Are you still picking up two signals?” Solar Flare asked. When she had first been asked to use her powers to find Lex Sway, she had told them she had found two in close proximity of each other.

“Yeah, but… I dunno: maybe it’s an aspect of his teleportation? The Lex I feel closest to us seems to be moving towards the other one so… maybe it’s some sort of psychic impression made when he ‘ports?”

“Try to locate Jude,” Chienne said, as Geist reappeared with Sentry.

“I’m right here,” he said at the sound of his name.

Chienne ignored their temporary ally. “See if you pick up two signals from Jude, Christmas: see if he creates a phenomenon similar to the one Lex is-”

“He’s not,” the dark-haired girl said.

“Whatever,” Solar Flare growled. “If you’ve got him, we can move…” He trailed off as he did a quick headcount. “Go get Gregaro,” he commanded, glaring at Geist.

Geist flashed the toe-headed teen a challenging look. “Why bother? The guy can’t control his powers and his only contribution to the team is punching things and smelling like the floor of the men’s room. I haven’t exactly been sitting on my hands since I got expelled: I’ve got ‘hit stuff’ covered in our playbook.”

“Go get Gregaro.”

Geist rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

Prompt inhaled loudly and fixed their advisor with a determined look. “I understand why Geist and I are here but, was it really necessary to bring the others? This is Lex we’re talking about: he helped us take down Deimos, Miss Bedford…”

“Doctor Howell and I discussed this mission at great length,” Chienne said as Geist returned with the last of their force: the visibly disgruntled Cold Detective. “Given Lex’s… activities since his wife was killed, we felt it best to be prepared for anything.”

“Then why not come full force?” Prompt asked. “I understand why Solon would be excluded…” She glanced at Geist. “And Pandora… but the others?”

Chienne hesitated to answer her. She couldn’t tell them that the roster for this mission had been tailored from Doctor Bell’s findings: Solon was still on the injured list and Pandora and Razi had been left out because of their experiences with Jude; John was left out because he seemed to be the least stable, following the incident at Governor’s Island while Will felt pressured to be Lodestone.

Just as there was a reason for excluding those students, there were reasons to include those she brought: Carl needed something to stave off the darkness he was apparently afraid of; Christmas needed to feel as though she could have a purpose without being a full-fledged Vindicator; Gage needed his confidence in himself rejuvenated; Gregaro needed to trust Chienne again; Gideon needed to be around his teammates more…

“We needed to keep our force small enough for Geist to be able to move us all in a matter of seconds. With the six of us, he should have been able to transport us in three groups of two.” She shot him a look that said she was not pleased with his attempt to leave the Cold Detective out of it.

“Can we just get this over with?” Solar Flare asked. Prompt flashed him an apologetic look before she began to move in the direction she had detected Lex. When she began to move, he fell in behind her.

“What’s up with him?” Geist asked. “Someone piss in his corn flakes? Punch his grandmother…”

“His girlfriend broke up with him a few days ago,” Sentry intoned. “Carl has not been himself since.”

“It’s none of our business,” the Cold Detective growled, clipping Geist with his shoulder as he moved past him. Geist’s face contorted into a snarl as he stormed forward. Reading his movements, Chienne grabbed Geist’s shoulder and stopped him—an act that would have been impossible had he elected to turn himself intangible. “If he wanted to talk to us about it, he’d talk to us about it.”

“Fine,” Geist growled, “then let’s talk about something that is our business: who the hell is this Lex Sway guy and why is he so important to Doctor Howell?”

“Lex spent four years at the school,” Chienne explained, “graduating in 2007. Over the summer, he married his classmate, Jacque Webber. The two moved to San Francisco and joined the Guardians—a group of super-powered security guards who make sure the bad guys locked up in Alcatraz stay locked up.

“You know about Apocatastasis, right? That dome that went over New York back in ’08? Well, Lex and Jacque were on the front lines, fighting to tear it down. They were separated and… Mister Loder’s wife ended up fighting back-to-back with Jacque in the trenches. She was the one who had to tell Lex his wife sacrificed herself so their group could live on.

“He sort of… snapped… He didn’t lash out or anything—he just… He disappeared. You were all briefed on Lex’s abilities? He opened a wormhole and just slipped away.

“He came back to the school last summer. You’ve all heard about Deimos, right? Well, Lex just sort of showed up out of nowhere and joined the fight—helped us put him down. When the fight was over, he told us all that he couldn’t stay—that there was too much blood on his hands. That year he spent away? Lex had…” Chienne took a deep breath. “He killed people. Normal people. Humans. We think we have his M.O. down: Lex finds women trapped in abusive relationships and he… Well, he frees them by killing their abusers.”

“Great,” the Cold Detective growled, “so you’re leading us up against another psychopathic murderer. Bravo.”

Chienne looked to Coulomb and read his expression: the Cold Detective had evoked memories of Governor’s Island for the blind boy and all of the guilt he felt about Lloyd’s death—all of the blame he had piled on himself—came bubbling up.

“This is different,” Chienne said. “We’re just going to talk to him. Lex was instrumental in getting Doctor Howell released from Alcatraz; the headmaster considers him his first and best-friend. We’re going to tell him about the wedding and ask him, on the headmaster’s behalf, to serve as Best Man.”

“So, let me get this straight,” said the Cold Detective, “we’re tracking down a guy who snapped because his wife was killed and invite him to a wedding? Does that sound incredibly cruel to anyone else?”

Chienne signaled for them to quiet when she saw Prompt stop and stare up at a nearby mill. ‘He’s here.’ She spoke directly into their minds—one of the many abilities she had imprinted from the various Espers she had encountered. Chienne had a difficult time keeping what Prompt could and couldn’t do straight at this point, let alone who she had copied the power from.

Chienne gave the group a nod. The plan was for her to go in alone and talk to Lex. Depending on how the situation went, she would use one of three different code words devised by Doctor Howell: if everything went according to the plan, the New Vindicators would hear her say ‘Midnight Rambler’ over the communicators; if they heard her say ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, then Lex had fled before hearing her out, then they would try again; ‘Play With Fire’ was the signal for them to join her in battle and ‘Wild Horses’ was the command for them to abort the mission, abandon her and return to the school.

As the others moved to get into position, Geist moved to her side. “Watch the hands this time,” she hissed.

Flashing the woman a daring look, Geist slapped a hand on her backside and instantly teleported them to the other side of the wall. She glared at him but Geist only gave her a cocky smile before vanishing as quickly as he had appeared. Making a mental note to kill him later, Chienne cautiously began to explore the mill’s interior.

“-meeting like this!” The voice was faint but her only clue. As she followed it, it became more and more audible—more recognized as Lex Sway’s voice. “I told you to stop following me!”

Chienne froze in place. He knew they were tracking him? “Lex?” she called out. “Lex, I just wanted to talk…”

“Who the hell is that?” There was something strange about Lex’s inflection—almost as though he weren’t demanding the disembodied voice calling to him to identify itself but as if he were asking someone near him to inform him. “You brought backup this time!?!”

“Not back up-” Chienne began to say.

“No!” Lex exclaimed. “It’s not like—no! I’m alone!”

“I know, Lex! Look, I just want to talk…” Chienne turned the corner and was shocked to see Lex Sway standing before Lex Sway. Though both wore ragged civilian clothes, one wore a bandoleer across his chest, beset with bulging pockets, strange buckles, and other trinkets.

“Chienne?” one of the two asked, visibly stunned by her appearance here.

“Who the hell is she?” the one with the bandoleer asked.

“Lex?” Chienne asked. “What… what’s going on here?”

Lex grabbed at his bandoleer; his hand closed over one of the buckles. Instantly his skin changed to take on a metallic appearance. He wasted no time in charging for his doppelganger; pulling back his arm to punch the other Lex, he seemed shocked when his body suddenly froze.

Whatever he had done, he had transformed into a ferrous metal; armed with Magnus Loder’s mastery over magnetism, Chienne was more than capable of restraining the man. “Will someone please tell me what’s going on here?” she asked. “Maybe start with why there are two of you?”

“Chienne Bedford,” Lex Sway said, gesturing to his iron counterpart, “meet Xander Sway…

“My other half: Amalgam.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Anomaly, Chienne and the New Vindicators versus Amalgam.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1196

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:29 pm

Chapter XCVI: Paint It, Black
Lex transformed. Chienne was too confident: she saw a metal opponent and knew that the powers that made the Loder family living legends would keep him at bay. What she did not see was how resourceful their opponent was. Amalgam knew his powers inside and out—he knew their strengths as well as their limits. He could transform his flesh into any substance he was touching. Just because he couldn’t bend his arm to go for the bandoleer he wore did not mean he was helpless…

Amalgam changed—adopting the properties of his socks. Suddenly made of cotton, he was free from Chienne’s grasp. However, this sudden decease in density made him easy prey for the intensified gravity that surrounded Anomaly.

Too late, Anomaly realized that had been the man’s plan all along.

Amalgam was pushed to the floor—his hands fell flat on the concrete. He changed again and the strength he needed to overcome his counterpart’s powers was resurrected. “You maybe want to explain this?” Chienne asked as Amalgam rose to his feet once again.

“Our senior year,” Anomaly said, watching as Amalgam moved to charge Chienne, “my powers were just like his. I faced off against a woman who could control gravity…” Throwing himself between Chienne and Amalgam, Anomaly braced himself for impact. “It altered my powers forever and spit this guy out on the opposite side of the world!” Anomaly’s increased density made him nigh-unmovable; even after being slammed by Amalgam in his concrete form, Anomaly barely budged. “He’s me except he doesn’t have any of our memories!”

Anomaly slugged Amalgam in the jaw. The blow hardly seemed to register to his amnesic opponent. “He showed up in New York, looking to find out who he was—popped up on our radar when he committed a few crimes…” Amalgam exploded forward and slammed his fist into Anomaly’s nose. The super-dense man reeled back and swiftly recovered: Anomaly punched his opponent in the stomach; as Amalgam doubled over, Anomaly raised his arms high overhead; with his fists locked together, he brought the hammer down over the back of Amalgam’s head and dropped the man to the ground.

“Ben and the kids he was training tangled with him,” Anomaly said as he watched Amalgam revert to his natural form. “They got a hold of me and together, we put him in the Spider, hoping they might be able to help him… but he broke free when Apocatastasis attacked New York.”

Anomaly bent down to hoist his fallen opponent up, only for Amalgam to grab the man’s obsidian skin. Immediately, Amalgam’s abilities mimicked the properties of Anomaly’s body: Amalgam’s figure turned blacker than night and incredibly dense.

He speared his arms between Anomaly’s legs and spread them to hook his limbs around the man’s ankles. Rolling, he threw Anomaly off balance—sending shockwaves out as the titanic figure hit the ground.

Chienne caught herself on a support beam. By the time she had regained her footing, Amalgam had thrown himself atop Anomaly and was going for the pin. Not far off she spotted a chain hoist; utilizing Magnus Loder’s abilities, she commanded the rusted links to break and forced the length to fly for Amalgam.

The chain coiled around Amalgam’s neck and struggled to pull him away. Amalgam released Anomaly’s wrists to reach up and snap the chains, giving Anomaly the opening he needed to writhe his way to freedom.

As he crawled away, Anomaly kicked and connected his foot to Amalgam’s face. Amalgam flailed with the sundered lengths of chain and cracked them like a whip over his twin’s back. Instantly, Chienne seized the makeshift weapon magnetically; unable to move them, Amalgam let them go and reverted to fighting hand-to-hand.

Suddenly, Chienne realized she could see her breath. The temperature was dropping—a sure sign that her students had elected to wait no longer. She expected to see the Cold Detective—easily the most hotheaded and impetuous of the bunch—leading the charge; instead, it was Solar Flare who descended onto the battlefield first, flying over the labyrinth of shipping crates to join the Nephilim in combat.

Solar Flare hesitated to move after seeing two identical figures brawling in the warehouse. “Uh,” he said, looking to Chienne for advice.

The Cold Detective rounded the corner, followed by Sentry. Prompt brought up the rear, helping to guide Coulomb. Before she could ask where he was, Geist teleported in front of Chienne and charged blindly into the fray.

“Power down, Lex!” Chienne screamed. “They won’t be able to tell you from your other half!”

Almost begrudgingly, Anomaly reverted to his natural form and rolled clear of Amalgam’s assault. “Put down the other one!” Chienne snapped to her students.

Solar Flare and Sentry immediately opened fire and unleashed twin beams of blinding, white-hot light at Amalgam. Adapted to Anomaly’s form, Amalgam’s gravitational pull was so great that light could not escape him: he effortlessly absorbed both blasts into him.

The Cold Detective ran forward, pulling back his fist to pummel the man. As he neared, he found an invisible force pushing down on him, grinding his charge to a halt and almost driving him towards the ground.

“His will is too strong,” Prompt grumbled. “I can’t swap, can’t control…”

Suddenly, Geist lunged in with a rolling kick. Amalgam moved to block it, only to watch in astonishment as the limb passed harmlessly through his body.

Geist’s movements were like a crashing river: as unrelenting as they were violently erratic. He flowed from one kick to another and closed the distance between the pair. Just when they were face to face, Geist swung for him and sent his fist through the man’s face. He dropped low to the ground then and for a moment, he turned solid; he was tangible long enough to plant his hands on the ground and use it to spring back—kicking and intangible foot through Amalgam’s jaw as he flipped back.

“What the hell’s the point of all this?” barked the Cold Detective.

Geist halted his attack and fixed Amalgam with a menacing glare. “If you value your life, you don’t move,” he growled.

The warehouse was filled with bellowing laughter. “Or what?” Amalgam asked. “You’ll flail at me again?”

Geist raised up a small, pen-like advice. His thumb hovered just above the button capping it. “Or I detonate the explosive I left in your skull.”

Amalgam froze.

“All that flailing? It served as a distraction. The first few blows showed you how harmless I was—made you lower your guard. You didn’t think anything of my hand phasing through your face; you didn’t even notice I was holding something when my hand went through your head or that I was holding nothing when it came out the other side.”

Anomaly rounded on Chienne. “What the hell are you teaching these kids!?!”

Chienne fixed Geist with a shocked look. “He’s… on loan from the Tokyo school…” There was no strength in her voice as she answered the former Guardian.

“Don’t do it,” Solar Flare said, planting himself at Geist’s side. “This isn’t how we operate, Jude!”

“Geist!” the sophomore boomed. “We are on a mission and you will address me using my codename.”

“Give me the detonator.”

“No,” Geist growled. “You heard Chienne: we had to take him down. So long as he cooperates, nothing is going to happen.”

“Hand over the detonator, Geist!”

Geist turned towards Prompt and tapped his forehead with his free hand. The two stared at each other for a moment and then Prompt looked to her teammates. “Everyone needs to back off and let Geist handle this,” she intoned. “Trust me: the situation is under control.”

Amalgam continued to stare defiantly at Geist. When the young man refused to back down, Amalgam reverted to his normal form. With gravity back to normal, the Cold Detective was able to move again; the time-lost youth wasted no time in rising up and laying his opponent out cold with a swift uppercut.

Anomaly approached his other half cautiously. “He’s out,” he said, checking to make sure Amalgam was actually unconscious this time.

“Give me that!” Solar Flare snapped. His hand passed through Geist’s hand and his ire spiked even more.

“You want it so bad?” Geist said. He turned tangible and dropped the Bic gel pen he’d been holding into Solar Flare’s hand. “Take it: it’s yours.”

Solar Flare wore a perplexed look as he gazed down at the ink pen. “He was bluffing,” Prompt said, not needing her telepathy to read the confusion on his face. “He never implanted an explosive in his head. Geist saw that everyone was struggling to take him down so he… took action. He phased his hand through Amalgam’s skull and convinced him he’d left a bomb—convinced everyone he was holding the detonator…”

“It was all a trick?” Solar Flare asked, looking up at Geist in wonder. “You didn’t really…?”

“No, but the fact that you all thought I could do that helped sell it.” Geist chuckled. “You guys really think I’m a monster, huh?”

“After what you did to Pandora?” Prompt glared at him. “Yes.”

“Not that I’m unappreciative for the help or anything,” Anomaly said, “but can one of you possibly tell me what the hell you’re doing here?”

“We were looking for you, actually,” Chienne said. “Doctor Howell wanted us to find you and give you an invitation-”

“I can’t come back to the school, Chienne. There’s far too much blood on my hands… I’m a murderer. Everything the Vindicators have done to enhance how the public sees us would go down the drain if they knew you were all harboring a killer.”

“Maria, Magnus, Ben…” Chienne sighed. “Honestly, half of your graduating class has taken a life or two and no one minds sleeping under the same roof as them.”

“Maria was acquitted of all charges,” Anomaly intoned, “Magnus was set up and Ben was defending his family. Me? I’ve taken lives, Chienne. I took the law into my own hands—dispensed my own brand of justice. I should be in prison…”

“Then turn yourself in.” Geist waved a hand dismissingly at Anomaly. “Honestly, you sound a little whiny. If you feel so bad about what you did, why not just walk up to the nearest police station and tell them all about what you’ve done?”

“Because Neo-Sapiens don’t exactly get a fair shake,” Prompt hissed. “When I was your age, the school was raided; me and my classmates had digits branded into our arms and were tossed into a concentration camp. If Lex hands himself over, he might not even get a trial. He’ll be found guilty of being different and put in the electric chair.”

“Yeah, he’s getting a really bad shake here,” Geist said, rolling his eyes. “You wanna talk about the punishment not fitting the crime? This guy killed a few people and you all can’t live without him; I put a sheet over my head, scared a few kids, and you shipped me across the globe.”

“You did a lot more than that,” Chienne growled. The blonde shook her head. “That’s not the point though: Lex, we were sent to invite you to Doctor Howell’s wedding.”

“What?” Lex asked, obviously taken aback by the news. “Doctor Howell’s getting married?”

“The doctor at the Vienna school? Her name is Samantha Talley and her ability lets her turn into any animal, Lex. Months back, we had this… outbreak. After Doctor Howell got sick, she came over and they… they sort of just hit it off.”

Lex couldn’t help but crack a smile. “That’s… Good for him. He deserves to be happy.”

“Lex, he…” Chienne reached to the belt pouch dangling at her side and produced the invitation Doctor Howell had given her. “He was hoping you would stand in as his best man, Lex.”

Lex blinked in surprise. “Me? Why me?”

“You were the first friend he made. I mean, from what he says, he wasn’t exactly the most socially accepted kid before his powers manifested. After? When he was trapped in the form of a gorilla? When he turned to crime, he worked alone. When he was incarcerated, he didn’t have a cell mate. You were the first person to reach out to him, Lex. You were the one who brought him hope and started him on the path he’s on now—the path towards happiness.

“Why wouldn’t he want you as his best man?”

Lex nodded slowly as he stared down at the envelope. “When?” was all that he could articulate.
To Be Continued... wrote:Doctor Bethany Fischer confesses her sins to Chienne.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1197

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:07 pm

Chapter XCVII: Yesterday
Once they were back at the school, the New Vindicators’ mission was over. It was over and none of them had died. That had been the first mission directive: they all needed to come home alive.

Second to that, of course, was bringing home Lex Sway. With Xander confined in the Wreck Room until other arrangements could be met, Chienne led Lex to the headmaster’s office.

Congratulating the New Vindicators and dismissing them to hit the showers, Chienne couldn’t help but think about the other directives: with Doctor Bell’s help, Chienne was working on helping her students recover from their emotional injuries. There were a million and one things to accomplish with her students and Chienne could only hope that this mission put them a step further down that path.

As they neared Doctor Howell’s office, the door opened and the headmasters from their sister school in Vienna stepped out. Despite that one of them was an immortal Isaac Newton, capable of eavesdropping on the dead, it was his associate that Chienne was most excited to see.

Doctor Bethany Fischer was Chienne’s maternal aunt. A difference in ideologies had forged a rift between the sisters when Chienne was a child; it was only two weeks ago that Chienne had been reunited with her closest living relative. They had reconciled while Chienne was in Vienna, but they still had so much to catch up on…

“Aunt Beth,” Chienne said cheerily as their respective processions neared each other. “You busy?”

“Not at all,” the elder woman intoned before turning to her counterpart. “If you’ll excuse us, Isaac?”

Chienne hastily ushered Lex into Doctor Howell’s office and then whisked her aunt back to her apartment. “Can I offer you something to drink?” Chienne asked, slipping into the kitchenette. “Coffee or tea or water or…?”

“Some tea,” Bethany said. “It’s funny: I used to be a full-blown coffee addict. All this time across the pond’s changing my predilection, however.” Sitting down at the small nook that divided the kitchenette from the sparse living room, the woman’s eyes found a jewel case resting near her niece’s computer. “Adonis,” she said, reading the name off of the cover. “Isn’t he the boy you were telling me about?”

“Um…” Chienne was thankful to have an excuse to keep her back to her aunt: it meant the woman couldn’t see her blush as her estranged lover was brought up. “Yeah.”

“Have you seen him since we last spoke?”

“No,” Chienne said, setting the kettle on the burner. “It’s just some songs that make me think of him. I dunno. It’s kind of stupid and juvenile… I probably won’t even give it to him.”

“I think you should. Chienne, life is far too short to not be upfront with your feelings. Tell him how he makes you feel—tell him that you want to be by his side.”

“Easier said than done, Aunt Beth. Adonis…” A defeated sigh escaped the blonde as she turned towards the counter. “He uses his power as a crutch at times: he tries to brush off other people’s feelings, saying that they only think they like him because his powers make them like him, you know?”

“Nothing worth having ever comes easy, dear.” Bethany took a deep breath. Reaching across the counter, she took Chienne’s hands in hers. “Chienne, I… I need to tell you something. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you told me when you were in Vienna and… I think you need to know about your cousin…”

“Cheryl?” Chienne’s expression soured. “I know she’s the head of Black Box…”

“Not Cheryl, Chienne: Autumn. I need to tell you about Autumn because…” It was Bethany’s turn to sigh. “You never met your cousins. You still very young when your mother and I had our falling out and I… I had already lost my children by then. Autumn was my youngest daughter, Chienne. She’s about five or six years older than you and… well, Autumn is…

“Not long your mother and I stopped talking, Autumn manifested her abilities.”

“You—you’re daughter is a Neo-Sapien!?! Wait, Cheryl Colbenson—the leader of Black Box—had a Neo-Sapien for a sister?”

Bethany shook her head. “Autumn is not a Neo-Sapien, Chienne. She… She’s like you.”

“A Nephilim?” Chienne asked.

Bethany nodded. “What’s more: Autumn’s fire… Chienne, it’s… It’s white.”

Chienne stared disbelieving at her aunt. “She… your daughter has white hellfire? She… She’s my sister, then?”

Bethany shrugged. “If what you said is true then… yes, I suppose my daughter would be your half-sister.”

Chienne continued to wear a puzzled look on her face. “I was very young when I met your Uncle Art, Chienne. I graduated high school early and my parents consented to let me get married at sixteen. I started college and he joined the army. We had Cheryl and… well, it was 1982 and the Lebanese Civil War was underway. Art was deployed and when he came home, I was pregnant with Autumn.

“I’d met a man who made me feel things Art never did. His name was Sam and he…” The elder woman shook her head. “I never saw him after that night. I never knew he… You said everyone capable of channeling this flame is child of a… a fallen angel?”

Chienne nodded somberly. “His name was Samael,” she said. “I never met him but some of the New Vindicators did. He helped them during the White War, just before he…

“He died.”

“Art was willing to forgive me,” Bethany said, “but we were having other problems. He gave Autumn his last name and we… we split up. It was amicable but… around the time you were born, Autumn manifested her abilities. She was able to create this dome of white energy around her that nothing could breech. She couldn’t turn it off and I couldn’t get to her. I didn’t know what to do so I… I called Art…

“Art freed her from the prison her abilities make, Chienne but… it put her on the government’s radar. They saw the potential for her ability to be weaponized and they took her. They discredited me professionally and painted me as an unfit mother. Worse, they… Autumn heard voices, Chienne. She… They painted her out to be insane.”

Chienne grimaced: if Autumn was a Nephilim, she could guess at what those voices were… She heard them herself from time to time. In some Nephilim, their demonic nature possessed with a louder voice—one that drowned out their other heritage. During times of stress, Chienne could hear that other side of herself railing against sanity, demanding that she lash out and succumb to her base instincts.

“They took her and I… I haven’t seen her since.” Tears rolled down the woman’s face. “My country took her from me—I knew they’d never give her back… I went to Europe and sought help in other nations. It’s been twenty years and… I’d almost given up on the hope that I’ll see my baby girl again but my position at the New Vindicators Academy of Europe affords me certain resources…

“Resources that allowed me to have a conversation with my eldest child, not long before you reentered my life…

“Cheryl alluded to Autumn’s presence here in New York, Chienne. What’s more, she claimed that Autumn’s children were responsible for the barrier that surrounded the city during the White War.”

Chienne nodded glumly. “We’ll find her.”

“I have reason to believe Patriot Robotics may have her.”

“We’ll get her out.”

Bethany shook her head. “I’m sorry, Chienne… I didn’t mean to come here asking for your help. I wouldn’t have your students do anything I wouldn’t ask my own to do and I… I won’t burden my charges with my own personal matters.”

“I wasn’t thinking of taking the New Vindicators,” Chienne said. “We… We recently suffered a pretty big blow. We had a mission to save two students and… the entire team didn’t make it back. The New Vindicators aren’t… They’re not quite ready for a mission like that. We’re trying to get them back into the groove with things like finding Anomaly and…

“No, I was thinking about Adonis. I told you: he leads a group—the Affiliation. We can find him, Aunt Beth. He’ll help us. He’ll help us find Autumn and free her.”

The whistle of the kettle summoned both of the women’s attention. “First, we’re going to drink some tea and talk about happier times,” Chienne said, moving to turn off the burner. “Then, I’m going to talk to Katherine Wellor about finding where Adonis is now.

“We’re going to do it, Aunt Beth: we’re going to bring Autumn home…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Vows.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1198

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:08 pm

Chapter XCVIII: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
“Are you ready?”

With her head covered by the veil, the woman nodded to the tuxedo-clad young man and a roguish grin spread across his face. As he turned he ran a hand through his cap of golden curls and then pressed his hands on the double doors that led from the Lighthouse’s foyer to the main grounds of the school. Michael Meredith opened his mouth and a perfect imitation of a boy’s choir rolled from his lips: “I saw her today at the reception,” he sang as he entered the chapel. Those packed into the pews rose and turned towards the singer. “A glass of wine in her hand,” he sang beautifully. “I knew she would meet her connection. At her feet was a footloose man.”

Behind Michael walked Johnny Tharivol, the youngest of three brothers. At just thirteen-years, Johnny would be entering high school next year. He yearned to come of age to join the ranks of the New Vindicators… but as of today he would not be joining the team that had sent up Quintessence, Taegan and so many others who had become the new legends.

“Now you can’t always get what you want.”

Mario Tharivol, the New Vindicator codenamed ‘the Pachyderm’, proceeded into the room, clad proudly in a tuxedo and marching just a few steps behind his younger brother.

“You can’t always get what you want.”

Doctor Samantha Talley appeared at the chapel’s entrance, wearing an ivory gown of finest silk; pearls were woven into the intricate stitching. At her side walked her eldest son, A.J. Tharivol, the hero known as the Rhino. He was wearing a grin filled with crooked teeth that he flashed to one of the American Vindicators, seated on the side reserved for the Europeans. Adrianna Covington was his date for this afternoon’s ceremony. Though the weather outside heralding winter had caused her to dress in layers he had seen her in so much less last night and again when the pair woke up this morning…

To the bride’s right the pews held students and the faculty of the New Vindicators Academy of America—both past and present. Magnus and Maria Loder shared a look as they watched her parade past them; holding their twin children, Jim and Crystal. Beside them stood Ben and Alicia Altair; the couple held their youngest two children, Margaret and A.J., while Neige stood on the pew beside him. Alex Winter stood with his fiancé, Béni Neptune; beside them stood Alex’s teammates, Quinton Jorgenson and Clarissa Townsend; though at different stages in their respective relationships, both couples watched the bride’s party progressing forward and imagined that far off day when they might pledge themselves to each other in such a manner.

Not everyone who looked upon the approaching bride was so blissfully happy: Cassandra Goodman looked at David Meinstein hopefully, but the billionaire was oblivious to her yearning; equally oblivious was Gideon Newton, who seemed not to register the hopeful glint in Christmas Clark’s eyes; next to Gideon, Carl Hamilton stared through the attendees to rest his eyes on his ex-girlfriend, Candace Strange; even the children’s teachers seemed lovelorn: Michael McDougall’s gaze was on Katherine Wellor, sitting a few pews behind where he sat with his best friend, Sam Peterson…

On the other side of the aisle, Fiore kept his gaze on Pandora; Lexus Rauf stole a kiss from his boyfriend; Otso Karell held Beatrice Marceau’s hand; Martin’s arms were around Tatjana’s waist while Vlad Radikovich merely had an arm slipped around Ellen Woolf.

Evan Bradley’s arms were around Chastity Bennett while Blaine Papogos stood holding Iulia Catargi’s hand; not far off, Iulia’s ex-boyfriend, William Benson, watched them morosely. George and Esme Snock exchanged smiles as they recalled their wedding just a few months ago…

“You can’t always get what you want,” Michael Meredith continued to sing as he stepped onto the dais where the rest of the wedding party awaited. He nodded to Peter Andrew McClanahan; as Pict, he was a 2007 graduate of the European Academy but he had remained at the school to serve as a chaplain. Today he was officiating over these services.

“And if you try sometimes…” Doctor James Howell was enthralled by the vision walking towards him. “You find…” The headmaster of the New Vindicators Academy of America managed to pull away his gaze and flash a satisfied grin to the man who stood as his best man. “You get what you need…”

Lex gave James an encouraging pat on the back as the music faded. “We are gathered here today to witness love assume a visible and tangible shape,” Andrew intoned. “Whether you believe in God, destiny, or just sheer chance, there is no mistaking that forces beyond our comprehension have brought these two together. James and Samantha stand before us, ready to defy distance, doubt… disease…” He smirked at the pair. “…And proclaim before us all that nothing can keep them apart.

“Who gives this woman away?” the Scotsman intoned.

“Her sons,” A.J. answered. The boy lifted her veil and as she did, Samantha used her powers to transform into a gorilla.

The eldest boy leaned in to kiss his mother on the cheek, then stepped up to shake her beau’s massive hand. It was a gesture Mario followed. Johnny gave his mother a peck on the cheek, lumbered up the dais and when James offered his paw to the youngest Tharivol brother, the boy lunged in to hug the man about to become his step-father. A look of surprise flashed over James’ face but soon that faded into a warm smile as he gently wrapped his arms around the youth.

Hand-in-hand, James and Samantha stepped up to join Andrew at the top of the dais. Lex and A.J. gave up the rings to be exchanged. Vows were said. Permission to kiss the bride was given and then…

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Andrew announced, “I give you Mister and Missus James Howell.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Celebration.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1199

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:11 pm

Chapter XCIX: Shout
Lex Murphy and Tatjana Nelson stole the show. For the couple’s first dance as husband and wife, James and Samantha had each selected a song and the students from the Vienna school mashed them together to perform them as a ballad. Taking the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” and the Rolling Stones’ cover of the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, Lex was armed only with a Spanish guitar and accompanied by the German girl’s voice.

When they had finished, those in attendance rose to their feet and filled the quad with applause that may have been meant more for the musicians than the newlyweds.

Several other students from the New Vindicators Academy of Europe ascended to the stage then: a blue-haired boy sat down behind the drums while another youth picked up a bass guitar. Lex switched instruments as well and soon led his classmates in a medley of Beatles and Rolling Stones songs: “Eight Days a Week” faded into “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, which turned into “Shout” and then “Honky Tonk Women”.

“Why don’t we have a house band?” Mindy asked breathlessly as she and her boyfriend dropped into a pair of chairs.

“We’re too busy not dying to learn to play anything,” Solon said.

“Hey, kids,” Ben said, thrusting his son into the magus’ lap. As the band began to play “And I Love Her”, Alicia pushed a stroller carting Neige and Margaret up to Mindy. “Mind watching the kids?” Without waiting for an answer, the school’s music teacher pulled his wife out onto the dance floor that had been assembled here. “Great!” he shouted back as the redheaded woman called back a curt thank you.

Not far off, Eli Cron struggled to dance with his boyfriend; though he wasn’t quite used to the prosthetic leg, Norman Goodman had nothing but patience for him. Behind them, Pollux was tapping A.J. on the shoulder, looking to cut in with Adrianna.

“Razi?” The Filipina looked up from her book to see a sweaty and shaky Andrew Woodford standing before her. “Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“No,” she said, matter-of-factly, “I would prefer to sit here and read.”

Pandora rolled her eyes at her roommate. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re more robotic than Gideon is?” she asked as Andrew left in defeat.

“No,” Razi said.

“Pandora?” The purple-haired girl looked up to see Fiore had taken up Andrew’s place before the two girls. “Would you do me the honor of a dance?”

“You don’t give up, do you?”

Fiore smiled at her. “Nothing worth having is easily won,” the Italian proclaimed as he offered his hand.

With a groan, Pandora took his hand and was led onto the dance floor. As they slipped out, she noticed another young man nod to Fiore. “What was that?” she asked. Without waiting for an answer, Pandora pulled her hand away. “Look, if this is some sort of joke between you and your jock buddy over there…”

“My jock buddy?” Fiore asked. He followed Pandora’s gaze to an athletic young man standing on the sidelines. “Juozas?” he asked.

“I saw that knowing nod…”

“Juozas is just… He is happy for me. That is all.” Another boy approached Juozas and offered him one of the two drinks he was carrying. Watching them, Pandora was astonished to watch as the elder boy leaned forward to kiss the other. “I think you Americans put too much stock in appearances.

“Yesterday morning, you told me that the flowers embarrassed you. Before your rude friend appeared-”

“Jude is not my friend!”

“-you told me that guys like me don’t fall for girls like you. Maybe not here, they don’t but where I come from? Artists like Ruebens would have painted picture after picture of you, Pandora. You may not think it, but you are beautiful. You’re beautiful for all of the reasons you don’t believe you’re beautiful.”

Pandora looked away and Fiore gently took her chin between his thumb and index finger to guide her gaze back to him. “You are beautiful, Pandora Filash,” he whispered, “and I can’t help myself for falling for you.”

As Fiore kissed her, Carl continued to dance with his ex-girlfriend. It had been a little over six weeks since she’d broken things off with him—since her session with Doctor Bell. Every time he tried to talk to her, she ran away but here he had cornered her. Here, he had flat-out asked her if she wanted to dance with him and when her powers compelled her to say yes, she had no excuse not to…

“Look at them,” he said, nodding towards Fiore and Pandora. “Don’t you want that?”

“Yes,” Candace begrudgingly replied.

“The night before you broke up with me, you told me you loved me. When did that change?”

“It didn’t.”

“You still love me then?”

Candace nodded. “Yes,” she said softly.

“Then why… why did you break up with me?”

Tears rolled down her cheeks. “Because I don’t want to be your Kryptonite, Carl. I’m not as powerful as you and your teammates and if you stay with me, someone like Absalom is going to come along and use me to get to you or your teammates and… I don’t think I could live with myself knowing that my weakness hurt you or someone.”

“What happened was… it was a fluke, Candace. Absalom wanted Lloyd and they—both of them are gone now.”

“Justice is still out there.”

“But Lucas—Max isn’t. There’s nothing for Justice to come back for…

“Look, Candace: in a few more months, we’re graduating. It’s not like I’m headed off to go and join the Vindicators or something. My plans are exactly what they were when I got here: I’m going to graduate and move on to medical school. I’m going to be a doctor and save lives without having to fight anyone…”

“But your powers-”

“My powers are not who I am. I don’t have any ambitions to put on tights and save the world, Candace: I just want to help people in my own way and… grow old with you by my side.”

Not far from where Will Loder was dancing with Cheyenne Ford, Vlad Radikovich was dipping Ellen Woolf. “Little Gregaro!?!” Connor Crete bellowed at the sight of the boy sipping from a flask. “Dude, I haven’t seen you since your epic cannonball!”

As the behemoth lumbered across the quad, the time lost boy seemed to be saved by the arrival of Dane. “Phone call for you,” Dane said, gesturing towards the main entrance of the Lighthouse. “Said it was Virginia’s granddaughter?”

Gregaro skirted a path around Zachary Jenkins waltzing with Victoria Goodman and passed Jessie Martin en route to the table where John Titus sat, gazing down into a glass of dancing ice cubes.
“Wanna dance?” she asked.

“Pass,” he grumbled. Even a girl as attractive as Jessie failed to pull John’s focus from the ice he mentally commanded to orbit the glass’ walls. It took Adrianna storming away from Pollux to snatch his attention away for even the briefest of moments…

“Do you even care at all that he’s not here?” the Grecian asked.

“Of course, I care!” Adrianna growled as she rounded on the Nephilim. In all the time they’d been enemies, he had never seen her evoke a fury like this one… “Owen’s a big boy though! He made his own decisions!”

“The way you treated him influenced those decisions though,” Pollux growled. As the band began to play “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, the groom’s best man and eldest stepson approached the pair.

“Everything okay?” A.J. worriedly asked.

“Peachy,” Adrianna grumbled. Snatching her date’s hand, she led him away from Pollux, leaving a perplexed Lex in her wake.

“Do I even want to know?” Lex asked. Lex turned at the sensation of a tapping on his shoulder. At the sight of Cassandra Goodman and her beau, David Meinstein, he forced a smile.

Cassandra opened her arms and Lex obliged her with a hug. “It’s good to see you,” she said softly to him. “We’ve missed you, Lex.”

He didn’t know what to say. Was he supposed to apologize? Was he supposed to say that he was sorry for making them worry about him all this time? He’d been gone over a year—almost two. Was he supposed to apologize for that or was he supposed to lie and tell her that he’d missed her too? The truth was, he didn’t miss any of them. He hardly thought about them. He cared about them, yes, but they didn’t occupy his every waking thought in the way Jacque did…

Lex didn’t know what to say, so he settled for, “It was a lovely wedding, wasn’t it?” He forced another smile—this one slightly more teasing. He knew how he was supposed to behave and he played the part. “So, when are you going to make an honest woman out of our girl, Dave?”

David smiled and Lex was confused. He recognized it as the same sort of smile he’d given the couple: it was forced out of social etiquette. “Lex, there’s… there’s something we need to tell you.” He looked around suddenly, as if surprised that he was at a wedding reception. “Not here though… Think we can get away for a bit?”

Immediately, Lex began to consider what was coming: as the leader of the Vindicators, David might have been here to arrest him—to make him pay for the crimes he’d committed in the time he’d been away. That seemed the most likely and yet, the most unlikely… David was nothing without his armor; if he intended to take Lex into custody, he would have been suited up.

Perhaps they were warning him that such an event was coming. Lex and Cassandra had spent four years together as students here. They were like family and it wasn’t likely that Cassandra would just go along with any plan to arrest Lex. If that was coming, she’d want to warn him first…

Lex nodded and motioned for the couple to lead the way. He wondered if they would lead him to the Wreck Room—if they had some sort of protocol set up to trap him. When they merely led him to the Common Room, his eyes fell on the elevator doors that would lead to the lower levels. He felt vindicated in his theory until they led him past the elevators and to the doors leading outside, to the shore of the island…

Here, the duo stopped. David took a deep breath and Cassandra put her arms around him. Lex could remember Jacque doing that when he needed comforting and strength… “What’s this about?” he asked.

“Months back, Sclera led Moksha in an attack on New York City,” David said. “You were there, right? Someone took Atlanta’s comm link out and hailed our dispatch to pick her up. They identified themselves as Lex Sway, codenamed Anomaly… and Amalgam.”

Lex nodded. “I was there. I fought Sclera…” He didn’t tell them the rest—he didn’t tell them about how he had let Sclera escape because he saw so much of himself in the mad tyrant.

“Something happened to me there,” David said. “Something…” He took a deep breath. “This is complicated, Lex but you… you need to know what happened. It’s going to be hard for you to hear and you might not believe me but you… Please, Lex, just hear me out.”

“Spit it out, David.”

“Jacque is alive.”

It was the one thing Lex wasn’t prepared for. He legs felt wobbly. He knees gave in. Lex collapsed to the ground and knelt before the couple. “You have to believe me-”

Lex laughed and the lovers froze, fixing him with concerned looks. “Thank you,” the vagabond breathed. “Oh, God… Thank you!”

David and Cassandra exchanged looks. “You… you’re…” David scratched his head. “I’m officially confused.”

“Where is she?” he asked.

Cassandra took a deep breath. “We… don’t know. That’s the hard part, Lex.” She looked to David. “You need to tell him the whole story.”

“Ben died; Sclera killed him. Cassandra and I were fighting Anthrax and… that’s when it got hard to move. It was Jacque, Lex. She was there.” Lex shuddered. She had been there—in Madison Square Gardens—on the same battlefield he had been on. He had been so close and he never even knew it… “She knocked out Anthrax and I called to her. She wasn’t alone, Lex. There were three other women with her: one, they called Ruth; one was Phenomena; the other was Bio.”

“Atlanta’s mom and… Bio? They’re supposed to be dead…”

“So is Jacque,” Cassandra said.

“That’s the thing though, Lex: the world thinks they’re dead… and they’re determined to keep it that way. I talked to Jacque, Lex. I talked to her and she… She saw Ben and she got Bio to… This is going to sound insane but Bio raised Ben from the dead! Her powers? They’re insanely strong…

“Before they left though, they did something… That Ruth woman? She knew everything about me. She knew who I was, she knew about Portal and… She knew what I had in my pocket and she knew about the problems Cassandra and I were having. It’s pretty obvious she was an Esper but she… She did more than just read my mind, Lex: she rewrote it.

“Before they left, she did something to make me forget that I’d seen them. I tried asking Ben about it and he… he has no memory of it.”

“If they made you forget,” Lex asked, “how are you telling me about this all now?”

“The school had… There’s an artifact Christmas stole from Black Box. It’s… Well, it’s a black box. No one knew what the hell it did but they kept it under lock and key so we thought that it must be important, you know? A while back, I touched it and… The cube restores lost memories. It’s… well, it’s like a tabula rasa. Anything that’s been done to your head is undone. I touched the cube, Lex, and everything Ruth made me forget came back.

“I wanted to tell you the night we fought Deimos but… there was so much going on and you left before I ever had a chance. I’m sorry.”

Lex grabbed David and Cassandra and pulled them both into a tight hug. “Don’t be sorry,” he said, half-laughing. “You just gave me the greatest gift, David! My wife is alive! Jacque is alive! I…” He trailed off as realization hit him: “I have to find her…”

“How?” Cassandra asked. “Lex, you… David’s tried finding her. He asked Kat and Christmas to find them and neither of them could do it. That Ruth woman is probably able to block their powers—keep them from finding their group…”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lex said, still beaming. “You guys don’t seem to get it: my wife is alive. Nothing—not Espers or dead Vindicators or all of Black Box—can keep us apart. The only thing I’ve ever believed would separate us was death and… it’s simple: I’m alive, she’s alive, and somehow, someway… we’re going to find each other!”
To Be Continued... wrote:The wedding gets attacked by Black Box's sleeper agent...

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1197 - 1199

Post by Arkrite » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:25 pm

Either this agent is going to be extremely badass, going to be in and out before anybody can react, or this is going to be the most amusingly one sided fight in existance ;~)

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1200

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:32 pm

Chapter C: Waitin’ For a Superman
Magnus impatiently drummed his fingers on the tabletop. A week had passed since he had followed Katherine Wellor’s directions to the Reptile. A week had passed since he inexplicably lost consciousness, only to find Bogart and Trigger Happy’s corpses beside him. A week had passed since he had brought Raanan Lumanta home. A week had passed since he had dispatched the Reptile to infiltrate Patriot Robotics, looking for any information he could dig up on Autumn Colbenson…

A week had passed since the Reptile left the safehouse he had set up. A week had passed and Magnus’ second cell phone had not rung. A week had passed and Magnus Loder was beginning to worry…

He was not worried about the Reptile. One of three things had happened to him: either he had abandoned his mission and was in hiding or he had failed and was now a prisoner or a corpse. Magnus prayed for the latter. If the Reptile had been killed trying to break in—or out—of Patriot Robotics, it just meant there was no hope of Noah Meinstein connected this to him. If the Reptile had been taken alive, he likely would have given up everything: he would have told them how Magnus had come to him and offered him protection in exchange of his services. He would tell them his target and… what then?

There was no reason to worry, Magnus knew: he was only agitated at losing this chance to be a hero again…

“Open up…” Snapped back to the present, Magnus watched as his wife navigated a bottle of formula to their daughter’s mouth. All around them, their friends were celebrating the marriage of James Howell and Samantha Talley. Being here—in the same place Magnus had exchanged vows with Maria just ten months ago—should have sparked something in him. He knew he should have been taken back to that day; he knew he should have felt overwhelming happiness and joy, but he couldn’t evoke it…

The part of him was dead and gone, buried not far from where they were all celebrating…

Still, there were parts of his wedding day he fondly remembered: the wedding night… “What do you think about us maybe heading back to the Caribbean?” Magnus asked as the band began playing “Hello, Goodbye”.

Maria looked up from feeding their child to stare quizzically at him. “Someday, I guess,” she said. “Maybe in a few years?”

“What about January?” Magnus asked. “Maybe celebrate our first year together by recreating our honeymoon?”

“Magnus,” she said warily, “the twins are too young to-”

“We’ll leave the kids with my mom,” Magnus said. “She could stay in the apartment and watch ‘em. She’d love it.”

“Jim and Krystal are only ten weeks old, Magnus! That’s far too young for us just leave them and go trotting cross the glob!”

“It’s for a week!” he snapped. “One Goddamn week, Maria!” When his booming voice drew the attention of some of the others sitting a tables flanking the dance floor, Maria tried to hush him. “What, you can’t cut the damn cord for one week and maybe spend some time with your husband?”

Maria turned away from him and smiled at their children. “I’m just…”

“What?” he demanded. “You’re just what? Pushing me away?”

“I am not pushing you away!”

“No, you’d actually have to touch me to push me away.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “I just pushed two children out of me. Can you even imagine what that’s like, Magnus? What it’s like to have a small explosion go off in your body? I’m sorry, Magnus… I just… I’m not ready-”

“When?” he asked. The man reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and produced his cell phone—the one his wife knew about. “Give me the date—I’ll set a reminder so I don’t forget…”

“Magnus, please don’t do this. Not here; not now…”

“No, it’s fine: you don’t want to have sex with me. Lucky for me, we’re at a wedding and everyone’s on an emotional high; I should have no problem finding someone who wants a good screw…” As his wife ignored him, Magnus slumped back into his seat and watched as Michael McDougall gently took Katherine Wellor by the hand and led her onto the dance floor. “Hell, even he’s probably getting laid later…” There was no masking Magnus’ contempt as the man slipped an arm around her and placed his hand on her lower back. Even if the pear-shaped woman paled in comparison to his wife, Magnus found himself jealous of the intimacy and contact Michael had by simply waltzing with the math teacher.

Strangely, he did not seem to be alone in that regard… One of the students—Gregaro—strode past Magnus’ table and approached the couple. He didn’t bother with tapping Michael on the shoulder and asking to cut in: Gregaro pulled back his fist and slammed it into Michael’s face.

As the youth’s English teacher tumbled to the floor, the dancers all around them stopped. “Gregaro?” Katherine asked, as perplexed as Magnus was by the boy’s sudden violent outburst. “What are you doing?”

Michael moved to pick himself up off the ground but Gregaro was quick. He delivered a boot to Michael’s jaw and then dropped down beside him, grabbing the collar of the man’s shirt and repeatedly punching him in the face.

Michael was unconscious by the time Dane, Alex Winter, and Cale Ueshiba charged in to restrain Gregaro. The time-displaced boy flailed and was able to shake the Vindicator off of him—sending him crashing into Cale—but one aspect of Dane’s Neo-Sapien ability granted him titanic strength. While Gregaro couldn’t shake the man off, he could still escape the confines of his coat.

Instantly, a piercing cold permeated the Wreck Room. The women—mostly clad in gowns and dresses—wrapped their arms around themselves. A few of the men shed their coats and jackets and draped them over the girls’ shoulders. Out of the corner of his eye, Magnus watched as Ben hastily tore his coat off and tried to wrap it around his three children.

Unable to withstand holding Gregaro, Dane released him with a pained cry. Gregaro grabbed Katherine’s wrist and the woman screamed from the sting of his frigid grasp. He moved to haul her to her feet, only for Martin Curie to spring into action.

The Frenchman moved to bind the boy by coiling his malleable form around him, only to draw back at the burning sensation that came from touching Gregaro. One of his own classmates moved to intercede: Kas moved to increase the gravity in hopes of stopping the American’s rampage.

At first, it seemed to work: Gregaro dropped to his knees and struggled to stand. Katherine, on the other hand, fell prone to the ground. Still, Gregaro had an ace up his sleeve: his hand soon liberated the pistol he’d holstered at his side and trained it on the crowd.

Suddenly, it was Magnus’ time to shine. “I’ll take that,” he said as he rose to his feet. He stretched his arm out for the gun and watched as it sailed out of Gregaro’s hands, towards the crowd, and into Will Loder’s hands.

“What the hell are you doing, Gregaro?” shouted Gregaro’s roommate.

Gregaro said nothing; he only struggled to move under the effects of Kas’ intensified gravity.

“It’s just like in Vienna,” Carl mused. “It’s like when Black Box controlled Jack and the others!”

Realization shone in Will’s eyes. “Black Box found the ice!” he exclaimed, thinking back to the day Colonel Sidell had summoned Will and Jacob to Bar Harbor, Maine… “They could have done the same thing to Gregaro that they did to the others!”

Gideon sprang into action: as an android, he was immune to the effects of Gregaro’s powers; further, his frame granted him some degree of resistance against Kas’ abilities. Impeded only slightly, the boy pulled back his arm and swung his fist into Gregaro’s side.

Trained as a boxer, Gregaro was accustomed to taking a beating. Gideon analyzed their situation and raised his arms high overhead. Locking his fists together, he swung them down and let the effects of the intensified gravity add some extra power to his blow.

Magnus watched as Gideon clubbed Gregaro over the head and succeeded in knocking the boy out. The only question now, Magnus realized, was whether Black Box’s programming would remain intact when Gregaro regained consciousness…
To Be Continued... wrote:Tabula Rasa.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1201

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:34 pm

NEW VINDICATORS #110: The Time Warp

Chapter CI: The Time Warp
No one questioned it when Annette McMenamin volunteered to leave the reception to accompany the procession taking Gregaro down into the school’s lower levels. When the other members of the school’s medical team moved to follow, the L.P.N. insisted that they stay: it was the Doctors Howell’s wedding; Norman had his boyfriend Eli and Kayla seemed to be hitting it off with the man who ran their sister school’s kitchen. Annette, however, hadn’t come with anyone and she hadn’t met anyone.

A handful of the New Vindicators insisted on accompanying their teammate down to the lower levels. Christmas Clark, Gideon Newton and John Titus had followed Dane into the lower levels, suggesting they could help incapacitate Gregaro, should he wake once more…

“You’re sure you can’t do anything to deprogram him?” Dane asked. “I thought an Esper cured those kids and their teacher when this happened in Vienna.”

“Yeah,” Christmas said, “Emily something-or-other… I might be more versatile than she is, but her telepathy’s a hell of a lot stronger than mine is. I keep hitting some kind of resistance when I try slipping into Gregaro’s head…”

Annette took a deep breath. “What about that cube you found? Couldn’t that reprogram him?”

“I haven’t seen it in months,” Christmas grumbled. “Portal and Breeze and Asmodeus went to my room to get it—no one’s seen it since. Asmodeus is gone and Josh is dead but Portal… I skimmed the surface of his mind and saw that they hid it away inside the wall—one of the walls that got trashed during Deimos’ little rampage. For all we know, it was tossed out in the rubble…”

The elevator doors opened; Dane and his clone led the unconscious Gregaro off and towards the Wreck Room. As John and Gideon followed them down the corridor, Annette stopped Christmas. “You should be able to find the cube,” she said.

Christmas looked at the woman strangely. “What makes you think I can-”

“Think about it, Christmas: touching the cube reverts a subject’s mind to its original condition—it erases any and all psychic alterations made. That means that the cube is psionic in nature, yes? It gives off a type of psionic energy…

“When you concentrate on a person, you’re effectively feeling out for their psyche. Well, what if the cube has it’s own psyche? What if, by concentrating on the cube, you could find it?”

Christmas only continued to give the nurse a curious look. “What makes you think—?”

“Isn’t it worth a shot?” Annette asked. “Worst case scenario: you think about the cube and feel nothing. If I’m right though?”

Christmas closed her eyes and after a few seconds opened them to fix Annette with a look of astonishment. “It’s here,” she said, disbelieving. “It’s directly over us—the Lighthouse.”

“The faculty apartments,” Annette mused. “I need to tend to Gregaro but you… go get the cube, Christmas.

“Get the cube and bring it to me.”

As Christmas rode the elevator back to the surface, Annette made her way to the infirmary. One of the rooms had its blinds pulled shut; unlocking the door, Annette McMenamin slipped in and took in the sight of Annette McMenamin still asleep on the bed.

Annette walked over and checked the IV bag. She looked at the monitor displaying the sleeping woman’s vitals and gave a curt nod before slipping back into the hall. Locking the door behind her, Annette looked back towards the elevators: in order to get to the Wreck Room, where Gregaro was being restrained, Christmas would need to cross through the infirmary. Would she think anything of a room closed off? Would she see the blinds drawn and wonder what was hidden behind them? If she tried the door, a simple lock wouldn’t stop her… With a sigh, Annette crossed the hall and closed the blinds in two other rooms, so as not to draw attention to the real Annette’s location…

By the time the fake Annette had finished, Christmas had still not returned. Annette traipsed down the hall and slipped into the control booth from which the Wreck Room was operated. “Has he regained consciousness?” the woman asked, seeing Dane’s duplicate seated at the console.

“Not yet,” Dane said.

Annette stepped forward and looked through the window to the floor below. There she saw the other Dane checking the restraints. The boy had once more been stuffed into his trench coat. There was no logical explanation for why his powers were only controlled while he wore that particular coat; the coat possessed no special properties: much like why Doctor Howell could not change out his simian form and why Owen Reagan had been unable to touch another living person without siphoning their life energy, a mental block prohibited Gregaro from having any sort of control over his abilities unless he wore that particular coat…

So long as Gregaro wore that coat, the cold was contained inside of him. Still, Dane had implemented a backup in the room: a halo of sunlamps surrounded them and could be set to go off at a moment’s notice. Further, two of Gregaro’s teammates stood vigil: if Gregaro freed himself from his restraints, got out of his coat and somehow got through the heat lamps, Gideon and John were changed out of their suits and into their uniforms: they were ready for a fight if Gregaro was going to give them one.

Annette took a deep breath before making her way down to the floor to check on Gregaro’s vitals. It was a charade: she only had to be seen doing what was expected of her until Christmas arrived with the Tabula Rasa. One touch of the cube and Gregaro would be free of Black Box’s programming.

Sure enough, as the fake Annette went through the motions of pretending to be a nurse, the doors opened and Christmas entered, holding the cube… Annette smiled and took a step forward, only to hesitate when she saw the angry look on the young woman’s face.

“Who the hell are you?” Christmas demanded.

Annette’s heart sank. “Someone who has your best interests at heart, Christmas. Now please… give me the cube.”

“Are you with Black Box? I mean, you knew how I could find the cube and I stole it from them first so… I figure you’re with Black Box, right?”

“What the fugg is going on?” John asked.

“Annette knew how to find the cube,” Christmas said, never peeling her gaze from the fake nurse. “She told me to go get it—knew it would snap Gregaro out of this. It made sense so… I went to get it. She told me to bring it to her and on the way back, I scanned for her mind and found her in the infirmary.

“Annette’s in some kind of drug-induced coma. This is… I don’t know. I want to say a shapeshifter but I can’t get inside her mind. Now, I’m wondering if she has one. Maybe she’s an illusion or something. I don’t know… What I do know is that she’s not going anywhere until I get some answers!”

“I could give you the answers,” Annette said, “but they would only ask more questions. What I can tell you-”

“This is getting us nowhere,” Dane hissed. Rounding on Christmas, the older man asked, “Can’t you just use the one girl’s power to make him tell the truth?”

“I could try,” Christmas said, “but I had trouble just reading his mind. He’s psionically shielded somehow…”

Annette’s features melted; her arms and legs lengthened and her jaw descended; her nose broadened as her eyes changed color. Her chestnut hair retreated into her scalp, transforming into a crew cut. Where the nurse had once stood, an athletic man in his mid-thirties remained. “My name is Phase,” he said, “and I’m a shapeshifter. I’m also the first Neo-Sapien Black Box captured—the first agent they created. I was freed though, by the very artifact you’re holding Christmas.

“The very thing that will liberate Gregaro’s mind…”

“You heard him!” John snapped. “He’s one of Black Box’s agents!” The boy’s uniform was sleeveless—cut at the shoulder. As he began to move, Phase saw the digits forever branded into John’s forearm, marking him as a former prisoner of the concentration camp Black Box administered.

A stream of water shot from a bottle hooked to John’s belt and cleanly slashed at Phase’s arm as it rushed past him. Seeing a second barrage coming from John, Phase adopted his ice form and watched as the youth’s attack froze on contact.

A beam of white hot light rocketed from Gideon’s transformed arm and struck Phase from behind. The focused light ate away at his defenses and forced another transformation from the shapeshifter. This time, Phase took to his liquid form.

“So your power lets you transform into any state of water, huh?” Before Phase could turn all the way around, his body rose into the air. He now looked down at the young man, garbed in a uniform he had once worn as a student here.

“Handle’s Torrent,” the boy from Buffalo said by way of introduction. “I control water with my mind. Sucks to be you, huh?”

“You don’t understand!” Phase exclaimed. “I don’t serve Black Box! I’m trying to help you!”

“I had to bury one of my best friends not too long ago,” Torrent thundered. “You’ll excuse me if I don’t just trust that you’ve got Gregaro’s best interests at heart, right? I mean, for all we know, you’re the one who activated his brainwashing and this is just an attempt to free him!”

“You have to trust me, Christmas!” Phase snapped. “You know I’m right! You know the Tabula Rasa will free him!”

“Enough!” Torrent screamed. A scream erupted from Phase as his body began to separate. “I’ve had it with you people coming after us! We never did anything! We only wanted a normal life but you can’t let us have that, can you!?!”

“Christmas!” Phase cried. “Help Gregaro!”

Christmas nodded and sprinted towards where Gregaro was restrained. “Stop her, Gideon!” Torrent snapped. “We don’t know what that thing is going to do!”

Sentry hurried to intercept his teammate—his girlfriend. Seeing him barreling towards her, Christmas flung out an arm and hit the android with enough telekinetic force to knock him back. Sentry was on his feet in no time and hurrying to try once more to stop her…

He was too late: Torrent still held Phase in the air; Dane stood by, paralyzed by indecisiveness… Sentry lunged for Christmas as she lowered the cube to an unconscious Gregaro’s face…

Gideon’s fingertips fell on the cube just as Gregaro’s eyes opened. Gideon and Gregaro had both touched the cube; instantly, both New Vindicators remembered everything they had forgotten…
To Be Continued... wrote:To the future!

Cosmic Entity
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1200 & 1201

Post by Arkrite » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:33 am

Important lesson learned: When activating your brainwashed pawns it is always a good idea to have some general idea of the situation they're currently in.

And hey, Lex Murphy showing up without being an antagonistic jerk! All it took was somebody else writing him for a change ;~)

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1200 & 1201

Post by Michael Silverbane » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:07 pm

I just caught up to the current chapter, after having found this story hour some time ago. I have really enjoyed reading the exploits of your characters (as well as the filler arc). I have two things to add.

First... I thought Adonis was supposed to be smart. Why, then, is he so easily tricked? He should be ashamed.

And finally... More chapters please! :)

Cosmic Scion
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1200 & 1201

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:34 pm

Michael Silverbane wrote:I just caught up to the current chapter, after having found this story hour some time ago. I have really enjoyed reading the exploits of your characters (as well as the filler arc). I have two things to add.

First... I thought Adonis was supposed to be smart. Why, then, is he so easily tricked? He should be ashamed.

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

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

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

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

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

New Vindicators, Chapter 1202

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:38 pm

Chapter CII
The first time Sentry Model #18769 opened his eyes, the sight of several thousand naked men and women, standing in columns and rows, greeted him. It should not have seemed strange to him. It should have had no effect on him either physically or emotionally, just as his own nudity should not have made him embarrassed. While he was programmed to know the definition of nudity and to know what nudity was, he had not been engineered concept of what it meant to be nude.

Despite that, Sentry Model #18769 suddenly felt very embarrassed and hurried to cover himself with his hands.

Those stationed around him never moved. Old men, teenage girls, little boys, middle-aged women; blacks, whites, Asians—people of every age and ethnicity stood rigidly in place around him. His head turned, trying to catch movement or maybe even a door. The hordes of nude figures stoically standing around him blocked sight of almost everything however…

Everything except for the figures systematically making their way through the throng…

At the sight of them, Sentry Model #18769 cried out, “E-excuse me!” Now, the other naked people turned to regard him with cool, indifference. There was no emotion on their faces; they responded because they were programmed to respond. “I… I need some clothes…”

The two figures slipped between the naked people and soon, an elderly man and a dark-haired girl in her teens stood before him. Both of them were clothed. “You… need clothes?” the man asked.

Sentry Unit #18769 nodded. His cheeks felt hot. He could feel the girl’s eyes on him. She made him feel more nervous than he already was. “I…” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “I’m naked.”

The man nodded. “I can see that,” he said, slipping out of the white coat he wore. He handed it over and the android graciously accepted it.

He slipped the coat on with one arm—continuing to try and cover himself with one hand. Only when he had the coat to obscure his nudity did he remove the limb and only when he had buttoned it closed did he seem to relax. “Thank you,” he said, nodding to the man.

“Prime your cannon,” the man said.

The Sentry nodded in compliance. He pushed back the sleeve of the coat and let his arm unfold and expose the weapon concealed perfectly within.

“I’ll be damned: you are a Sentry.”

“Sentry Unit #18769, to be precise.”

“And you were embarrassed to be naked?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you able to comprehend why this is so fascinating to me?”

The Sentry nodded. “As a Sentry, I am programmed to know but should be incapable of understanding. Instead, what I do not understand is… why I do not understand…”

The man took a moment to consider his answer. “I’ve always held that the universe is governed by natural laws… and one undeniable rule is that sometimes, mistakes happen.” He read the sour expression on the android’s face and immediately lamented his choice of words. “That’s not to say that you’re a mistake, son… No, you’re… well, you’re pure chaos.

“If you conduct the same experiment one-hundred different times and obtain the same result ninety-nine times, what happened during that one experiment where something unexpected was yielded? Chaos is a force that… causes an evolution of sorts. It perverts the system and decides the system’s future dynamics.

“Ginian,” he said. “I believe I’ll call you ‘Ginian’.”

“And what should I call you?” Ginian asked.

“Isaac,” the man said. “My name is Isaac Newton.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Back to the past!