NEW VINDICATORS (Books I - XIII)

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
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smashed247
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Post by smashed247 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:00 am

WOW

Just for clarification, who are the PCs? 'cos I'm starting to get confused

Michuru81
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Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:59 am

smashed247 wrote:WOW

Just for clarification, who are the PCs? 'cos I'm starting to get confused
The answer may actually be more confusing. Each player in this campaign has control over a student at each of the three academies. For instance, Saya and Lodestone are controlled by the same player. When Brass told Deimos about Quintessence at the European Academy? Quintessence is a PC under Portal's player's control.

Additionally, each player has been allowed control of a thug- minion to the crimelord they've been facing off through out New Vindicators: Memento Mori. Some have developed personalities and backgrounds for them and others... just see them as stats to be played. One thug has actually declared he has the enemy complication- due to his irrational hatred of Frostbite.

I do have to say that there are upsides and downsides to letting your players have their own badguys. As a story-driven GM, it's difficult when you have a story that hinges on key characters at key points... and their players get tired of playing them and want to bring in something else. One way to curb this is frequently let them play something different. For instance, three sessions for now we'll be playing New Vindicators Annual #2, where my players get their European counterparts hunt down one of their own. They seem pumped at the prospect of being able to play something different. Lodestone's player gets to go from being in the thick of combat to being support. Frostbite's player gets to RP a character who's not such an introvert.

Additionally, it helps the story. It's often unbelievable that all of the PCs just happen to react to the same thing- that they're always together. If two PCs are out at a club or in line at the bank when a villain attacks... it helps to have the other players run the low-level, non-powered criminals holding the place up. Not only does it keep everyone involved in the gameplay, it keeps the story slightly believable.

The downside is that, several sessions ago, Frostbite and Deimos were taken down by two player-controlled minions. Not only is it bad for the moral of the players, it's bad for their relationships. It's one thing if some NPCs the GM controls trounce the heroes in a brawl (everyone has to lose sometimes) but it's different when it's another player.

At this point in the story, Amalgam, Brickhouse, Copycat, Deimos, Fathom, Frostbite, Lodestone, Manji, Portal and Saya are player controlled characters... meaning that characters like Adonis, Loess, Rumble and Tripper are my brain children. Some were created just to further flesh out the PCs (Jacquelyn gives Lex a little more character, a smidgen more depth) and soem just have story potential (Adonis the catalyst into Chienne's plotline- as her family plays a huge role in the overall story of these storylines).

Rumble exists purely to fill the brick quota.
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Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 50

Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:21 am

Chapter L: True Colors
Drew let his arms droop as he scanned the room. Hardly the most athletic of his companions, seeing Tokyo on foot had left Drew exhausted. Now, standing on the tatami floor clad in his socks, Drew could hardly believe what he was seeing. “Wh—where’s the television?”

“Who cares?” Lex said, gently pushing past Drew to move into the large chamber. Dim moonlight cascaded in near the balcony, giving the muscular man all he needed to navigate the room. “Television rots your brain.”

“Maybe I want to have my brain rotted out,” Drew grumbled as Ben slipped into the room. “This is supposed to be a hotel but it’s just some mattresses on the floor. How much are we paying for this? Because anything more than two dollars translates to us being ripped off.”

“It’s not that bad,” Ben said as he dropped backwards onto the futon.

“Not that bad!?” thundered Drew. “They don’t even have real doors! The doors are made of paper!”

“I think it’s called washi,” Ben said as Lex vanished behind a dressing screen. Adonis paused from glaring at Magnus, to shoot a quizzical look Ben’s way. “Back home in Kansas City, my best-friend had an exchange student from Japan stay with him. I’m pretty much an expert in Japanese culture.”

Drew couldn’t control the icy glare he fixed Benjamin Altair with. “I hate you so much,” he grumbled. “You have no idea… In fact, the only thing I hate more is that this room doesn’t have a TV! What kind of hotel is this?”

“It’s called a ryokan,” Lex offered, “and apparently they’re fairly rare these days—more so in Tokyo.” Lex reappeared, clad in a white towel. “If you want to watch television—there’s one in the lobby.”

“Where are you going, O Fearless?” Drew asked.

“I’m going to the onsen.”

“Dressed like that?”

Lex sighed. “Onsen are outdoor baths, Drew.”

It was all Drew needed to hear to be provided with a burst of energy. In no time the young man running for the balcony, peering out into the blue-tinged twilight. “Dude! Japanese people bathe outside?”

“And together,” Magnus offered.

Drew blinked in surprise. “So… like… Alexa and Maria bathing… together… outside where anyone could see?”

Lex said nothing to the contrary—he was growing tired with the increasingly difficult task of correcting Drew’s random assumptions about the Japanese culture. The Ichigo twins had showed them temples and shrines, museums and gardens and Drew Jenkins had persisted in concocting the wildest notions about their Eastern neighbors…

“I’m still a little concerned about Deimos,” Magnus said, standing over the futon furthest from the one Adonis had selected. He may have had to stay in the same room as the man, but he would keep as much distance as he could.

“Lex already called Mister Bradshaw,” Adonis said idly. “He said not to worry.”

“Maybe the plan is to go home and leave Deimos here!”

Magnus rolled his eyes at Drew’s statement. It had been a long flight, a long day, and like Lex, his patience for Drew’s antics were slowly wearing thin. Ultimately, he realized that Lex had the right idea. He could use an escape from Drew and Adonis both—even if it meant having to be around Lex. Without another word he slipped off to change for the onsen.

“I’m just saying… why should Deimos get to have all the fun?” Drew leaned back, throwing back his head to fix Adonis and Ben with an upside-down grin. “Maybe we should be out too! I mean, sure… the cultural stuff is fine but… I say we experience Tokyo the way the locals do. You don’t think Japanese people are sight-seeing, do you? No! They’re having fun—partying it up! C’mon, Adonis… let’s experience this town the right way!”

“You’re enthusiasm to be around me wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that your power to duplicate my powers makes you irresistible to the ladies, would it Drew?”

“That Umi girl was really into me,” Ben said suddenly. As Adonis and Drew fixed him with curious stares, Magnus slipped out of the room, a towel around his waist. “Yeah… it’s going to be really hard to break it to her that I already have a girlfriend. I mean, I’m with Katie and… well, I’m pretty sure that I love her.”

“Dude… you’ve know her for like…” Drew counted on his fingers, mumbling the months from September onward. “Four months! You can’t possibly be in love with her!”

“You’re dating Katie Merrick, right?” asked Adonis. He didn’t wait for Ben’s nod to proceed. “I’ve known her since junior high, man. She’s quick.”

“Huh?”

“He’s saying she’s a slut, Benny-Boy,” offered Drew.

“Katie is not-”

“Ben,” Adonis said, his voice commanding. “For the last five years, Katie Merrick has had a different guy each semester. Generally, she has an aptitude for jocks. How you ended up in her radar is anyone’s guess.”

“It’s a regular unsolved mystery!” Drew laughed. “If only Robert Stack weren’t dead, we’d get to the bottom of this!”

“Try to ignore the buffoon and focus on me, Ben.” Adonis followed his own advice, ignoring Drew’s outcry to continue. “Word is, Katie’s a little… well, she’s a bit of a party girl.”

“She’s a regular Slutty McSlut-Slut!”

“And given that we are presently between semesters and given her previous track record…”

“Looks like you’re in the market for a new girlfriend, Ben.”

And suddenly it happened. After a day with Drew—Lex’s patience had thinned. Magnus had left to avoid losing his temper. Everyone was over-taxed and over-stressed by a day with Drew and Adonis had heard all that he could take. “Will you shut up!?” Adonis snapped. “Good grief, Drew… do you ever stop to think? I mean…” He paused, thinking over his words carefully. For a brief flicker of time, he considered stopping right there. Nothing was keeping him from following Lex and Magnus’ example and leave. He could escape saying anything he could never take back… if he only stopped right here, right now. “He loves her.”

“He hasn’t known her that-”

“Drew… define cold.”

“What?”

“You—there’s no definition of cold…. Cold is a concept. It is the absence of heat, same as darkness is the absence of light. There is no such thing as cold and no such thing as heat and… and you can’t define love either. All you people sit and talk about what love is… is there a being on this planet capable of defining it? God… you don’t get it but I do… Ben says he loves Katie—then he loves Katie. I love Chienne. It doesn’t matter about how long they’ve been together or her track record. What Chienne’s father did to destroy my family or what I am… that doesn’t change how I feel and I’m willing to bet that nothing you or I can say can change how Ben feels about her.”

“You said it yourself: she’s easy.”

Adonis turned from Drew and looked Ben square in the eyes. “I never should have said anything. Ben? I’m sorry. I really am. I don’t know Katie personally… but from what I’ve seen or heard I just I just expected she’d do the same to you and… and I don’t want to see you get hurt, Ben. Getting hurt sucks… Nothing feels worse than giving yourself to someone, only to have them just cut away cleanly and walk off with that. I gave all of who I was to Chienne and that’s gone from me now. I didn’t want to see you get here, Ben… I don’t want to see you become bitter and pained and…”

Adonis stood up and made his way to the washi—the sliding, rice-paper doors the ryokan used. “Where are you going?” Drew asked.

Adonis never turned around. His head merely sagged between his shoulders. His knees trembled. He didn’t have the strength to go on. “My fight’s over. Chienne is never going to change. She’s going to hate our kind forever and ever—and even after that’s up, she’ll still hate us. She’ll still hate me. Katie can change though. You can still fight, Ben. And if you have any sense in you… you will.”

Sliding the door closed behind him, Adonis’ silhouette vanished down the hall. Drew was stunned silent; it was perhaps Adonis’ greatest accomplishment. Ben quietly rose up and stepped out onto the balcony, leaving Drew alone to contemplate everything.

Bathed in the light of the moon, Ben fumbled in his pocket for his cell phone and dialed a too familiar number. After three rings, it picked up, and Ben’s expectations soared. “Hi, mom,” he said. “I—it—it’s Ben mom. I hadn’t talked to you in a while and I… Ben, mom. I just—I wanted to say I’m not mad that… that you weren’t going to be home for Christmas—no. N-no, I’m not trying to guilt… Yes, I know it’s your first Christmas with Steve—Mom? Mom, will you just listen? Will you ju—yeah… yeah, mom. Okay. Yeah, I understand. Have fun skiing the Al-” Ben looked down at his LCD screen and the message ‘CALL ENDED - 00.00.37’ “…the Alps. I love you, too.”

Ben dialed another familiar number—though less familiar than the last. It was a number he had been given four months ago, when he started school at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. He dialed from memory, and listened as the ringer went straight to voice mail. “Hi, Katie… it—it’s Ben again. You’re probably tired of hearing from me. I know I’ve called like, seven times today but… I dunno. Don’t worry about the time difference—I wanna hear from you… give me a call when you get this, okay?”

Hanging up, Ben sat down on the balcony and looked out over Akasaka. He watched colorful, neon signs go out and others as they turned on. It was so radically different from New York. In a sense, it reminded him of his room at home in Kansas City. Pulling his knees into his chest, Ben stared intently at the display on his phone—as if such an act would make it ring sooner. “I’m not a gay robot,” he grumbled defiantly. “I’m not…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Wet.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 51

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jan 22, 2007 3:26 pm

Chapter LI: Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Magnus stood, frozen in the threshold of the onsen. Through the veil of fog he watched as Lex Sway dropped the towel he had worn around his waist—now neatly folded—next to the one Jacque had brought. The man stepped down off the stone walkway and wadded out through the steaming water of the hot spring towards his girlfriend.

Maria Espada sat with her back to the farthest wall, her eyes shut and her head raised to the starry ceiling nature had provided. Not far off, Alexa was demonstrating her Neo-Sapien ability to transform into liquid, playfully slithering through the environment around the Ichigo twins. “Loder-kun!” Miruku called out. “Where is Jenkins-kun?”

“Drew’s too tired,” Magnus said. “You know, I’ve had a long day too. Maybe I should get to bed-”

“Nah! Come on in!” Alexa reformed and waved the young man in. “C’mon! The water feels so great…”

“At least, the hot spring water does,” Kiwi grumbled, folding her arms across her chest. Magnus’ eyes fell on the dark blue straps of her swimsuit and he swallowed hard.

“No, really… I’m fine. I’m just going to-”

“You’re not wearing a swimsuit there… are ya chief?”

Magnus turned around and found himself face-to-face with a Japanese couple—only a few years older than him. The man had long, black hair and a dark complexion. A pair of long scars ran down from his left shoulder, diagonally over his chest and vanishing into the waistline of the loud, orange swim trucks he wore. More disturbing however were his haunting blue eyes that glowed eerily. Those eyes put him in mind of Deimos; they were different colors… but similar in effect. His partner, a one-eyed woman of surprising height for a Japanese girl, wore a towel around her torso. “S’all right,” she said teasingly. “Neither did I.”

Lex had frozen at the sight of the woman. Jacquelyn was paralyzed by an array of emotions. Alexa only grinned at the sight of an old friend. “Okami?” she asked, transforming in her aquatic state to move through the water faster. Her form rematerialized at the water’s edge nearest the entrance to the onsen. “Okami Reon? Is that you?”

“Alexa Hawk! What brings your stinky butt to my town?”

Jacque turned, flashing a worried look at Lex. Lex only sighed—recollections of times with Okami flooding through him. Okami merely sat down on the edge, sliding out of the towel and into the water. Magnus’ eyes popped as he found truth to what the woman had told him and suddenly he found himself wishing he had worn a suit in.

“Don’t sweat it, bro,” the man said, clapping a hand on Magnus’ shoulder. “There are some spares through that door over there. You’re welcome to them.”

Magnus hesitated only a moment before shuffling off to the maintenance house adjacent from the ryokan’s western wall. Skirting the edge of the tall privacy fence, Magnus vanished within—leaving old friends to acquaint themselves. “This is our brother,” Kiwi intoned to their guests. “Hanyou Hajime. He takes care of the inn.”

“And his fiancé,” Okami said enthusiastically, showing her hand to Alexa and basking in the splendor of the ring she had accepted.

“Congratulations, girl!” Alexa laughed. “So, you two have a date yet?”

“We have some business to attend to first,” Hajime said. “Once everything is squared up… then we’ll make it official. I’m hoping for April. Cherry blossoms and all…”

Lodestone emerged from the shack, wearing atrocious blue shorts with pastel palm trees printed on him. They nearly hung from his gaunt form; he had tied a knot in them so tight, only a pair of scissors would ever liberate him from them. Still, he felt confident that he would not lose them now.

“Lodey,” Alexa said as he dipped his big toe into the water, “this is Hajime and Reon. Reon’s alumni from the American Academy and Hajime is the twin’s older brother.”

Magnus took in the twins and then the young man who had joined them. There was something of a similarity, but the eyes pulled him in. There was something disturbing about them… “Hajime runs the inn,” Alexa explained.

“Ah. I was wondering why our guides were still with us,” he said, slipping himself into the steaming waters. Maria was still off in her own world while Lex massaged Jacque’s shoulders in the distance. She was whispering something to him… something Reon seemed keen to attempt to eavesdrop on. “You both live here then?”

Kiwi and Miruku nodded. “So, where are your parents?”

Hajime shook his head. “Our parents are dead,” he said sadly. “They died two years ago, in a car accident at the Shibuya Crossing.” He hesitated for a moment, before adding, “Well… our mother. My father left before I was born… but Ichigo-san was always wonderful to me.”

“Apparently, the twins father was a friend of Mister Bradshaw’s,” Alexa offered. “That’s why he picked this place-”

“Michuru?” snapped Okami. “Don’t tell me that he’s is back in Japan!”

As Magnus raised an eyebrow, Alexa slithered nearer. “She… doesn’t much care for Mister Bradshaw,” she whispered.

“No,” Okami said, having caught the comment, “I just don’t see what use a guy who can’t control his powers is to a school designed to teach kids to use their powers! He actually tried to kill me once!” As Okami’s chronic case of verbal diarrhea continued, Lodestone glided back through the water and out of her area of influence. He left Okami and the siblings to Alexa to deal with.

Leaning back against the stone walls of the onsen, Lodestone shut his eyes tightly and attempted to drown out the sound of Okami’s voice. It was a difficult task, but he was up to the challenge. Taking a deep breath, he slid to lie on the floor of the onsen, losing himself to the sound of moving water. As he broke the surface again, his long, white hair clung oddly to his face. More to his agitation, he rubbed his eyes to adjust his vision once more. “Refreshed?” he heard as his ears popped.

He turned and could barely make out the sight of Maria Espada. He hadn’t known he had moved so close to her. “Yeah,” he said awkwardly, blinking until the young woman came into focus.

Her dark hair hung in long curls on her back and shoulders and her swimsuit was far more modest than anything Alexa had even packed for their trip to Japan. Maria was a rare breed—she was a beautiful woman who never tried to be beautiful. Despite how little he knew about her, he assumed she was nice. Maria certainly seemed to be everyone’s friend. She had been at the school for four years now—she was close to the veterans of the Academy, like Lex and Donna-Anne. She was beautiful enough that she was allowed into the inner circle Cassandra kept and yet still had too much sense to become engulfed by the hubris. She was simple enough that she was breaking through Atlanta’s barrier. There was just something about her that clicked with people. She was merely exceptionally charismatic.

“What’re you thinking?” he asked, noting the distance in her eyes.

Maria smiled as she blushed at the question. “The moon,” she said. “I mean… I’m not sure about the time difference or anything like that but it’s just… This is the same moon my padre is looking at back home in Brooklyn. All those miles and… we’re not really far apart at all, are we?”

“Missin’ the family already, huh?”

Maria shook her head. “I worry, I suppose. Sometimes I think that these last four years… I wouldn’t say that they have been a mistake. I’m doing well here—I am going to do good in the world some day, because of the time I have spent here. It’s just that… I’m not sure. I don’t know how to really explain it. It’s just… I feel guilty for coming here instead of going home for the holidays. It’s just… well, I’ve… I’ve never even been outside of the States. Well, I was in Canada a few times but that doesn’t count.”

“When does Canada ever count?” Magnus asked.

Maria did her best not to laugh at the statement. Still, her face showed her resistance in the way her lips parted in that half-smiling way. Her cheeks began to hurt as she fought the urge and Magnus opted to laugh for her… if not at her.

“You know…” she said timidly, inching just a fraction closer to him. “Mi padre… when my mother died, he didn’t know the first thing about how to raise a girl. I was just one of the boys.” She began to blush as her grin spread across her face. “You know… we never missed a Yankees game…”

Magnus blinked at the sensation of her fingers, tickling the back of his hand. “M-Maria…” he whispered, hoping the others couldn’t hear them. “I, I have a girlfriend.”

“I know… but I also know that she’s Chienne Bedford and… I know you’re lying to her… and to yourself if you think that you’ll go any further.” Maria stood up and Magnus’ eyes slid down the orange-red one-piece that had become a second skin to the Spanish girl. “I like you, Magnus and… I’d like to be with you… when you get tired of illusions.”

Magnus could only watch in wonder as she wrapped herself in a towel and slipped off to her room. The young man hung his head, looking down at his reflection gazing back up at him from the surface of the water. Perhaps he was selfish. Perhaps Adonis was right and Chienne was a nothing more than a trophy to him—something to hold over Adonis? No, it had never been about Adonis. It had been about dating one of the most attractive young women at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. It was about the prestige of being attached to her… and about the prestige of being a Neo-Sapien dating the daughter of the Church of Genetic Purity’s leader.

Perhaps he had been selfish about not being selected as a prefect. He had seen Lex and Jacque in Wreck Room exercises and there was no denying that the two were good leaders. They weren’t the incompetent lovebirds he had assumed them to be. Both were capable warriors. Both were respected by the other students. Magnus looked to the pair; Jacquelyn laid her head on the big man’s shoulder and his hand stroked her straight, black hair as they both soaked up the warmth the onsen and each other provided.

Not far off, Alexa was unsuccessfully attempting to convince Okami and the twins to join her in a shirts-and-skins round of water polo. Magnus blinked in surprise, unsure why he hadn’t noticed before. Jumping from the water, he grabbed at the waist of his trunks to keep them from dropping due to the weight the water added. He grabbed a towel on his way out, hastily making his way through the halls of the ryokan. Alexa and Jacque were still in the onsen and their teachers had yet to return from wherever it was they had spent the day. The girls’ room had only one occupant…

Maria’s face showed shock as she slid open the washi to reveal a soaking-wet Magnus Loder, standing before her. “You’re right,” he said. “I’m through with illusions…” Magnus took one step over the threshold. “I’m ready for something real.”

Maria’s hands slapped against his chest, stopping him from coming any further. “You’re ready for something all right,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I don’t know what you thought was going to happen, Magnus… I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong idea, I just… I think that—no. I want to be with you.”

“You can,” he said, moving to step into the room.

“I can’t!” she thundered. “Not like that. Not yet anyway… Do you get what I’m trying to tell you?”

Magnus nodded sadly and Maria grinned sweetly. She leaned forward, kissing him gently on the cheek before slowly sliding the washi shut. “Good night, Magnus Loder.”

Magnus could only nod again. “Good night, Maria. Sleep tight.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Adonis' True Power!
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 52

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:02 pm

Chapter LII: Rolling Days
Adonis made his way through the streets. Half of the neon lights flashed characters that meant nothing to him. He could not read the languages the Japanese used—he didn’t know hiragana from katakana. Occasionally he caught signs in beautiful calligraphy; the art form that kanji had been escalated to was lost on the pulchritudinous Adonis Skraag.

He tugged at the collar of his leather jacket and ran a hand through his long, blonde hair. Adonis was a beautiful man; with his blue eyes he was the very image of the clichéd ‘Aryan race’. Truth, his Neo-Sapien abilities factored into that; since the day his abilities manifested he had not had a pimple. His complexion cleared up almost instantly. His hair was never frayed or frizzy; he didn’t know the annoyance of split ends or dandruff. It was as if his abilities ensured that his biology could do nothing to fracture his aesthetic image.

One store had a wall of monitors—each a different size and each at odd angles… looping the same video. Images flickered by, advertising an animated movie of some kind. Music played over it. “Yume ni made mita you na sekai de…” The girl’s voice sounded pretty, but the lyrics meant nothing to him… “…Arasoi mo naku heiwa ni kuaishitai…”

In the street ahead of him, a young girl merged from a grocery store wearing a tired look and what seemed to be the uniform of the store’s clerks. Leaving her part-time job, she crossed the street… pursued by a trio of identically-clad young men.

Adonis knew their kind. Adonis loathed their kind. For years he had sat back and watched as Jack “the Enforcer” Olsen had wormed his way into Chienne’s heart and life. Jack Olsen was the typical jock incapable of anything remotely resembling monogamy. For years, Chienne had been his and all the while he would ogle and flirt. He was far from faithful. He was only interested in sleeping with as many women as he possibly could. Suddenly, it hit Adonis that he may have been becoming that way… Since his powers had awakened he has used them to seduce five different women—four of which he had slept with.

“When did I become such a hypocrite?” he asked, catching a glimpse of his reflection in the store window.

“ALL MY LOVING… sou janakya yatterannai!”

“Dame desu! Saru!” the woman thundered. Her back was pinned against the wall, ringed by the three men. The man in the middle leaned forward, his hand against the wall. The man laughed as he said something, Adonis couldn’t have made out the Japanese—even if he had heard it. “Tasukete!” she began to yell. One of the men moved to cover her mouth. “Tasuke-”

The man gave out a cry as she bit his hand. In the respite, she swung the plastic bag with her meager diner into his knee and hurried to rush around him. The man in the middle caught her quickly, hooking his arm around her neck and dragging her back to the wall. Again he said something lost to Adonis, but not to his friends. To them, it imbued a wide, fanatical grin and a look of sheer terror to the woman.

“Kimi no FIGHTING POSE misenakya- Oh! Oh!”

“Leave her alone.” Adonis did his best to appear tough and intimidating. If anything, his powers made him more charismatic. He had a subtle influence over people- one he couldn’t deny. He could talk his way out of almost anything. Given than most of his powers stemmed from his appearance, he reasoned that so did his uncanny people skills. Still, in his heart, he prayed that the language barrier would not prove to be the death of him.

“Doko ni osumai desu ka? Amerikajin?” the middle man said, advancing slowly. Adonis’ eyes fell on the nose ring in the man’s left nostril and the thin chain that connected it to the ring in his left lobe. “Baka-san, oname wa, nan desu ka?”

Adonis shook his head. “I don’t… I don’t understand. I’m sorry…” Adonis cringed as the man raised his hand. He braced for the punch that never came and instead was shocked to feel the man’s fingers tighten around his hair and drag him closer.

Pulling back Adonis’ hair, he forced the young American to look up at him. Adonis was surprised at how tall the man was… and at how ugly he could be from so close a range. The man’s nose was bulbous and covered in blackheads that spread out under his eyes. A cold sore he had recently picked open met Adonis’ gaze from just above the man’s lip. “Pretty boy,” the man said, enunciating his words in English for Adonis’ benefit.

Adonis grinned, despite himself. He didn’t have the man’s size or experience in fights… but if he had a leg up over the man, he would take it. It was all the provocation the man needed. Balling up his fist, he hammered down, punching Adonis in the middle of his face.

Adonis reeled back, his hands flying to his face and panic set in at the unfamiliar touch of blood met him. Adonis automatically assumed the worst and guessed that his nose had been broken. He was sure that happened frequently in fights; it didn’t seem too preposterous to think otherwise. In the confusion, the woman had escaped—leaving Adonis to be her decoy.

“Haikei…” the man said, shaking his fist in the air in a poor attempt to clean Adonis’ blood off his knuckles. He certainly wasn’t about to wipe it on his clothes. “…Korosu!”

Adonis somehow understood what he had just ordered; he didn’t need the appearance of knives flashing in their hands to tell him that his existence had just been threatened. From the ground he threw up a hand, as if he could do anything to stop them. He thought only to plead for his life. “Mou yoshinasai!” he exclaimed. The pair froze in their advance, stunned by hearing their own tongue from his lips. Suddenly, he not only realized what he had just said… he realized that he understood what he had just said. “Nani? Shinjirarenai…”

A grin flashed across his face. How he had done it, he wasn’t sure. Suddenly, it dawned on him what Doctor Kenneth Bradley had told him when he first came to the New Vindicators Academy: “That you slowly deplete women of their common sense is obvious… and that you can command them to do just about anything you command is a given but there seems to be more to your powers. The MRI picked up something… it’s like your brain is able to receive pheromones on an uncanny scale. It might account for your unnatural eloquence. You know what people want to hear and what they need to hear…”

Adonis often mocked his powers, saying that he had won the genetic lottery with ‘super people skills’. Perhaps this was just a part of it. Neo-Sapien abilities manifested out of necessity; Adonis needed to be understood and needed to understand them. Adonis realized that in addition to the battery of useless abilities he had already displayed… he now had the power to act as a universal translator.

Still… it was just one more ability that couldn’t get him out of situations like this. His mind reeled back to that scene at the start of this semester. It was a Saturday afternoon, spent hiding under the stairs in the basement of his parent’s house. He could hear them—the voices arguing and accusing. He could hear his parents screaming. He could hear the crackling of the flames—even over all those men laughing and screaming for blood. He could hear the torches as they lit the crosses were Arthur and Denise Skraag were burned alive.

He could hear the sirens fading out as Rift saved him. The commotion had drawn her attention. It hadn’t taken long to figure out what the gathered men were demanding. They wanted the boy—the happy couple’s son. Arthur and Denise Skraag had refused to hand him over to the mob. They had refused to deny their son the same chance at happiness they had once had. Breanne Jordan refused to let their sacrifice go in vein. She scoured the brownstone for him. She had found him. She had pulled out of the fire. She had given him a chance.

He hated Magnus Loder. Magnus represented what Adonis had once had. He the son of a proud father; there was no doubt that the Lodestones who had come before Magnus looked down on him and smiled. He had been blessed with power. Adonis had watched from the control booth of the Wreck Room; their instructors wouldn’t usually permit Adonis to participate in some exercises. He had been allowed to take the self-defense exercises, but in those times when the teachers at the academy sought to develop their powers through simulated combat, Adonis was told to sit out. His powers were non-combative. He couldn’t tear the ferrous metal from a room and use it to engulf a man—rendering his opponents helpless. He couldn’t fire ball bearings through the air, piercing flesh to attack his enemies. He couldn’t use his powers to levitate himself off the ground or to generate force fields to cushion the blows he received in melee.

Sometimes, when his roommates had already fallen asleep, Adonis would cry… and ask God why he wasn’t more like Magnus Loder? Why he didn’t have the power to save the people he loved the most?

Adonis Skraag had not shed a single tear as the two men bore down at him with switchblades in their hands. His life meant so little, after all. It was when that white hot bar of light tore through the night and exploded against one man’s wrist that the dam broke. He knew the power signature as Doctor Natalie Styles, the former Vindicator known as Halogen. Breanne Jordan, also known as Rift, was with her. Once more, it seemed, he would have to rely on her to pull him from the fire.

Adonis began to weep as the pair used their powers to save him. They were by no means lethal. The pair could have been. It was theorized that if Rift so decided, she could use her intangibility to attack the body’s internal system. With a touch she might very well be able to stop another person’s heart. Instead she chose to use her abilities to defend and confuse. Their vision dazzled by Doctor Styles’ own abilities, they swung their fists blindly through Miss Jordan and watched as she redirected their attacks onto each other.

“Are you all right?” Miss Jordan said, offering out a tangible hand when all was done and the fight was won.

Adonis merely sat in the street, listening to the song he had not been able to understand before. “A world like the one I’ve seen in my dreams exists without conflict, in daily peace… but in reality, there’s such daily trouble that sometimes I regret those rolling days.” At those words he lifted his eyes to the pair of women… and he wondered just how many more times he would have to rely on them to save him.
To Be Continued... wrote:Mommy Dearest.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 53

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:40 pm

Chapter LIII: The Way It Is
It was a somber march to Kokyo. Adonis had fallen into a deep depression; the young man barely uttered more than a word over their hasty breakfast. Drew was equally as quiet. Every so often he exchanged sad looks with Ben. Ben seemed so distant… as if his mind and soul were somewhere else. The New Vindicators of America had been summoned to Kokyo, the Imperial Palace of Japan… and yet, for Ben Altair there was no reaction.

Magnus Loder’s eyes were on the back of the woman just ahead of him. Every so often, Maria Espada looked over her shoulder, throwing an apologetic look the man’s way. Even their leaders, the pair of prefects Alexander Sway and Jacquelyn Webber, seemed disturbingly morose this morning. Still, it might have had something to do with Alexa Hawk, wedged between the pair and talking animatedly at Lex. Of their procession, only she was in her usual spirits.

Doctor Styles and Miss Jordan, the former Vindicators and their instructors, had returned in the night to rest up and to bring the young people to the palace. Every question had been answered simply with an agitated, “It’ll be explained when we get there.”

Their party stopped at Nijubashi Bridge and at the odd encampment there. Michuru Bradshaw and Pandora DiMera were joined by many oddly-dressed locals and one of their own: the New Vindicator known as Deimos.

“Anything?” Doctor Styles asked.

Mister Bradshaw shook his head.

“Wh—what’s going on, sir?” Lex asked, fighting back the urge to yawn. “Why did you have us suit up?”

“I put in a call to Atlanta’s father but I couldn’t reach him. Normally, his team, the Illuminati deals with this kind of thing but… what I’m about to tell you may not make much sense… but try to stay with me.” The tone he took snapped each of them out of their respective stupors and reigned in their full attention. “A long time ago, there was an eighth continent known as Hyperborea. The people there were an advanced race with sciences beyond our scope. Hyperborea is gone but the artifacts from that civilization are still here. The Japanese Imperial Regalia consists of three of these artifacts: Kusanagi no Tsurugi, the sword; Yata no Kagami, the mirror; and Yasakani no Magatama, the jewel.

“The sword was lost at sea many years ago. A few years ago, the Japanese government contacted me to assist in attempting to find it. We dredged it up, me and Miss Styles and four students from the Academy: Caliber, Okami, Tide and Tusk. When it became apparent that certain people wanted to use the treasures for evil, Ichigo Meiyo, the twin’s father, helped us to hide them in three places. The sword was entrusted to the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya while the mirror was left in Mie, at the Grand Shrine of Ise. The jewel we left here…

“A week ago, the mirror was taken. The night before we arrived here, Kusanagi was stolen from the shrine I left it at. The jewel is still secure here at the imperial palace—I’ve seen it myself. Whoever is after the treasures will come here… and here we have to stop them. Is that understood?”

Tripper’s eyes widened in surprise; Anomaly’s expression mirrored hers as he fixed a her with a startled look. In the onsen she had told him about her dream and how odd it was to meet up with Okami again after dreaming about her. He had told her about the dream he had dreamt the day they fought Tide. ‘It can’t be coincidental,’ Tripper thought. ‘It must be Okami who’s after the treasures…’

“What’s so special about these treasures?” Lodestone asked.

“Whoever possesses them has powers like us,” Mister Bradshaw explained. “Historical texts recovered hint that there may have been some SPBs around—even back when Hyperborea still existed. We believe that the people there may have used the items as weapons against ancient Neo-Sapiens.”

“Makes sense why someone would want them then,” Amalgam mused. “We’re not exactly a popular bunch. So… do you know what these particular weapons do, sir?”

Mister Bradshaw nodded. “Whoever controls Kusanagi can control the wind. So long as I can keep my emotions in check, I may be able to counter that ability with my own elemental powers. The mirror is going to be the problem. It reflects attacks back on the attacker. The mirror is roughly the size of a shield and will be carried as one. Do not engage an enemy carrying a shield directly.”

Deimos grinned. “That’s my job,” he laughed.

Again Mister Bradshaw nodded. “It’s believed that Deimos’ abilities may be able to bypass those of Yata no Kagami. Tripper’s abilities may be able to get around them as well, as the Trip Field doesn’t exactly directly attack a body. We’ll try other tactics as well: Fathom, Frostbite and Lodestone each focus on incapacitating a target through nonviolent means.

“Each of the thefts have occurred at night—we believe this time will be no different. That said, we should have the luxury of time enough that you can each familiarize yourself with the area. Kyoko is a big place so we’re splitting up to guard it. Myself, Halogen, Rift and Pandora will act as the last line of defense around the Jewel. Amalgam… I want you and Fathom to take the northern encampment. Tripper and Deimos will take the south. Lodestone and Loess will be in the east and Copycat and Frostbite will be in the west.”

Adonis blinked. “Wait—what about me?”

Mister Bradshaw sighed. “I’ll want you with us, at the jewel, Adonis-”

“Dame desu!” thundered Adonis. Mister Bradshaw blinked in surprise. “You always want to leave me out of things! I can’t go on missions or I can’t be a part of an exercise! You all harp on and on about how this school is supposed to teach us how to be able to defend ourselves and those dear to us in the real world, in the event our identities are exposed. You don’t think I can do that though, do you? If I were Magnus I could just magnetically wrap an iron bar around my opponents or if I was Lex I could just transform into stone and pummel them to a pulp… but I’m not them. I’m Adonis and my powers may suck but… but this is all I’ve got to work with so work with me! Teach me! Because I refuse to simply sit back and watch everyone else keep moving forward!”

“Adonis…” Mister Bradshaw sighed, recognizing a losing battle when he saw one. “Adonis will go with Copycat and Frostbite… and act as field commander.”

“Wait—what?” thundered Copycat. Lodestone’s eyes had popped just as wide as his roommate’s had. “Adonis!?”

“I don’t have a problem with that,” Frostbite said, grinning wide at Copycat. “I mean, Adonis is like, a super-genius and all anyway.”

“Lodestone!” barked Mister Bradshaw. “You’re in charge on your side.”

Lodestone blinked in surprise. “M—me?”

Mister Bradshaw nodded to him. “You’re ready for this,” he said softly. “You’ve got the head of a leader. You just need a chance to develop the rest.”

Lodestone’s grin rivaled Frostbite’s for size.

“There’s more,” Mister Bradshaw said. “We have some help…” Michuru turned towards the odd bunch standing on the bridge behind him. “This is Sanada Yukimura and his group… the Sanada Juuyuushi.”

Adonis raised an eyebrow at the title. ‘Sanada Juuyuushi’ translated to ‘Sanada Ten Brave’ and implied that they were ten warriors who followed Sanada Yukimura.

He only counted nine standing with Sanada Yukimura.

Those nine seasoned warriors barely moved at the mention of their names. They seemed not to care whether the teams of heroes were introduced to each other or not; the Sanada Ten Braves were on guard—anticipating an attack at any moment. “And…” Mister Bradshaw cast a worried look Tripper’s way. “…As soon as Interpol learned of Kusanagi’s theft… they sent an agent to investigate.”

Tripper shook her head as Mister Bradshaw’s eyes scanned the horizon. Even at such a distance, Tripper could make the shape out. It was a face that haunted her every waking moment… a back she had been chasing for years. “Agent Jacquelyn Webber,” Mister Bradshaw said sadly.

Amalgam’s eyes widened; he knew better than their associates what this meant to Tripper. The mother who had abandoned her years ago had returned… and he knew, instantly that nothing would never be the same again…
To Be Continued... wrote:Anomaly.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 54

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:49 am

Chapter LIV: Venus
Night fell and Amalgam rose up from where he had been resting—his back slumped against the cherry blossom tree with his head hanging in shame. He was her protector… and he was unable to save her from this. Everything he had offered was turned down. Every idea he has birthed was shredded. There was no sparing Jacque Webber from this sort of pain. There was no saving her from the chaos her mother’s arrival sowed in her world.

“He moves!” Fathom laughed. “He lives!”

Amalgam lifted his eyes to the woman. Immediately, his eyes were pulled down her body; the swimsuit-like uniform she wore lured his senses in and enticed his nature. He forced himself to meet her eyes and was distressed at the sight of a knowing grin on her face. The woman had no shame but it was worse that she reveled in such a facet. “You okay?”

“You must be cold.” As a prefect he had been given a jacket that matched the uniform he wore. He began to shed it until Fathom shook her head.

“You know how warm these uniforms get. They’re insulated against the weather.”

“Still…”

Her pencil-thin eyebrows twitched ecstatically, knowing how she made him feel. “You’re so naïve, Lex… it’s so adorable.” She mused for a second and then grinned as she proclaimed his new nickname. “Sexy Lexy.”

“Amalgam,” he corrected. “We’re in the colors, Fathom.”

“I could get out of these colors pretty quick…” she offered, raising an eyebrow as she waited to see if he might accept such an invitation.

“Fathom… it’s a mission. From what Mister Bradshaw says, this gem has some big-time fire power in it. Anyone who’s wearing the necklace it’s on has control over kinetic energy.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… they can move super-fast and make things move with their mind… I caught the briefing. I was there; don’t tell me you didn’t notice me?” She transformed into her aquatic form and slithered around his back and, curling herself around each muscle down his arms, reformed in his embrace. “You’re going to hurt my feelings, Sexy Lexy.”

Amalgam gently put her down and continued to pace the area, leaving his partner for the evening pouting behind him. “Fathom… try to keep focused on the mission.”

“Hey, you’ve got your mission and I’ve got mine.” The big man paused and craned his neck to fix the girl with a stern look. He prayed that didn’t mean what he thought it meant; he honestly hoped she was not revealing herself as a member of the clandestine Affiliation. “What?” she asked, giggling playfully. “I mean… it’s not like I’m hearing you say ‘no’.”

“No.”

“Oh, you don’t mean that…”

“Fathom…” There was less warning his voice now, more authority than anything.

“C’mon… us beautiful, statuesque Neo-Sapiens have to sleep together. I mean keep together. Sorry. Well… I’m not but… you get the idea.”

“I’m in love with Jacque.”

Fathom grinned, in spite of Amalgam’s simplicity. “And I’m head-over-heels for Cassandra. My point is that… there’s a difference between love and sex, Lexy. Where is it written that you’re only allowed to sleep with the people you love? I mean… c’mon… its fun, don’t you think so?” Lex said nothing. He merely touched at the stud in his belt. It was something new he had added to his uniform, something that allowed him numerous properties to mimic at the ready. Reflexively, his body reacted, adapting to the molecular properties inherent in stone. “Oh, don’t tell you never… oh, now I want to even more.”

He spun around. “Did you hear something?”

Fathom grinned. “I believe that would be the sound of me getting positively weak in the knees.”

“Not that!” he hissed. “Shush!”

Sensing how tense he was, Fathom found the strength within herself to actually remain quiet. In the darkness the two remained silent, scanning the shadows for any signs of movement.

The blast of energy split the night as easily as it carved a path through the silence. “Look out!” Amalgam screamed. Fathom could have easily dodged such an attack in her aquatic state, but Amalgam wasn’t ready to take the chance; reacting to the danger he pulled her into his arms and rolled out of the path of the blast. Rivets were cut into the earth by the blue ray of energy. There was something oddly familiar about the signature. It was almost identical in nature to the energy blasts Pandora and Deimos wielded… but blue.

The shadow-clad warrior leapt from the wall, drawing a pair of short swords as he descended on a current of air. Amalgam turned, intercepting the charge with his back and moving Fathom out of harm’s way once more. “Call for back up!” he commanded to her. His hands left her sides and she shuddered as the warm sensation his touch had brought left her. He spun around and she touched at the communicators installed into the collars of their uniforms. “This is Padmé Amidala,” Fathom said. “One, I’m sick of Drew getting to pick our call signs. Two, Sexy Lexy is fighting off an uber-ninja. Anyone who knows how to fight… we could use your help…”

The twin blades seemed to spin in the man’s hands, clinking off of Amalgam’s stone skin, the battle looked futile. Amalgam’s strong hands moved to grab at his opponent—every time the man slipped outside of his reach and then slid back in. He was an expert at dodging attacks and in skirting the battle. Fathom took her liquid form in an instant, slithering her way through the night to reach them. Her body shifted, becoming one long, aquatic tendril and she lashed like a whip for the man.

Blood was drawn as the whip sliced through the black leg of the breeches their opponent wore. The surprise attack caught the man off-guard and gave Lex the opportunity he needed; Amalgam reached out and snapped the tempered steel extensions of the man’s fighting style. Once more the assailant was surprised… but he was far from stopped.

Amalgam and Fathom both were amazed to see blue energy dance out of both palms, forming into twin wakizashi in his hands. Again, there was no mistaking Deimos’ hellfire—but blue?

“Kanpai!” Sarutobi Sasuke screamed, swinging down out of the trees and landing against the man’s back. In a flash his steel had been drawn and the black-clad man accepted the challenge. Blades of hellfire and blades of steel clashed as their duet of death began. Back and forth the two fought, and Amalgam and Fathom felt like they could only watch…

Deimos’ arrival was almost missed due to the black energy the young man covered himself in. Still, there was no mistaking his shape as he descended out of the sky, glowing black wings riding down currents to the ground beside his partner, the enigmatic Tripper.

A chunk of the courtyard had been torn from the earth’s embrace to allow Loess to fly to the battle as quickly as she could. Lodestone flew beside her—magnetically commanding himself, via the metal instruments he had implemented into his uniform.

Copycat and Frostbite both rode on waves of ice—the duo were focusing their beams at their feet, generating the ice-lift that allowed them to reach impressive heights and make such grandiose entrances. Not far behind them, Adonis hurried in on foot.

As he sensed himself outnumbered, the man with the glowing blue blades emitted a bird call and Amalgam watched as more shinobi descended around them. “Go figure!” laughed Drew as he blasted a beam of freezing ice at one of the ninja, “we go to Japan and have to fight ninja… I guess it was either this or giant lizards… I mean, seriously, this is so clichéd, I’m not sure if I can get myself motivated enough to beat them down…”

“Just imagine their ganguros, Drew,” Amalgam grumbled—his fist flying into the midsection of an unfortunate ninja.

“And we have it!” Drew laughed. He aimed the beam at the feet of his opponent, generating a mass of ice around his ankles. As he toppled helplessly to the ground, Drew spun to begin taking to non-lethal measure against the others.

Frostbite’s eyes widened behind the icy-mask of his armor. “Why didn’t I think of that?” he mused, mimicking Drew’s movements with his powers. Behind him Lodestone had seized the remains of the leader’s blades and was magnetically manipulating them to spin around his body. It generated an area of repulsion—no one was daring enough to engage the hero in close combat with the blades whirling around him like they were. Some were foolish enough to attack from a distance: hurling shuriken and kunai through the vortex. All it did was provide Magnus with more of a shield; he caught up those weapons too in his force field, using them to further keep his opponents at bay.

The earth tore itself apart and formed into a great hand that grabbed a ninja. The arm mimicked the movements of Loess’ own hand—she pulled back, and it pulled back. She pitched forward and it pitched forward, throwing the ninja Fathom’s way. The young woman warped her body again; her arms extended into long tendrils with which she caught the flying ninja and redirected his flight towards Amalgam’s fists.

Deimos’ energy scythe cleaved upward, popping another enemy upward and slashing open the chest of the man’s black garb. Around him were numerous fallen adversaries; the young man had not been holding back. Still, his fighting ability seemed to have improved, even if only slightly; that slight advantage seemed to be the razor’s edge between life and death.

Tripper kept herself near Adonis, determined to fling aside any who came near him. Adonis realized quickly what she was doing: she was protecting him because she felt he needed someone to do it. His face was the very image of resentment as she continued to use the Trip Field to put any who approached them on their backs… and hold them there.

Amalgam recognized the gravitic blast that rocketed over his shoulder for the ninja sneaking up behind him. He turned, looking for his girlfriend and was astonished to find her side-by-side with Adonis. Confusion set in and was quickly relieved by the appearance of Tripper’s mother. Agent Webber had been the source of those abilities Tripper used.

Tripper’s eyes went to her mother as well. She tried her best to put the woman out of her mind. The two had met last year; wild horses couldn’t have kept Jacque from running to the woman once she knew she was there. Amalgam knew the outcome of that conversation: Tripper had offered to leave the school to go with her and the woman had not minced words when she told Tripper she did not want a daughter. “You were an accident from my novice days,” Agent Webber had said plainly. “Days when my life was spent as… a thief of rare artifacts and as an assassin. Your mother was a fool and your father was just a target…”

The woman’s cold response to her daughter’s seething affections had left Tripper trapped in an abyss of bitterness and self-contempt. He wasn’t sure how he was going to pull her from it, but he knew something had to be done; Amalgam saw himself as her knightly protector. He had to find a way through her pain… he needed to free her.

Agent Webber took aim on another ninja and a second struck her from behind. The blast went astray and Amalgam reacted. There was no thought in what he did—it was a knee-jerk to him. It was his nature to put himself between his friends and danger and in the twinkling of an eye he had interposed himself between Alexa Hawk and the blast.

Tripper’s eyes fell on Amalgam as he screamed in pain. Everything came back to her. Her mind drifted back to the beginning of the semester… and a field trip to Patriot Robotics. “Grab hold of me,” Professor Philip Alston, the former Vindicator known as Professor Incendiary had said to Lex. The man had realized that something in his flame form’s biology rendered him immune to Atlas’ abilities. “If you become flame…”

“I—I can’t,” Lex had managed under the pressure Atlas had put on them all. “I’m afraid.”

“It can’t hurt you. Your physicality will change—you’ll become the flame.”

Jacquelyn knew him better than anyone though. She knew what Alexander Sway feared more than anything. “Lex is afraid of not being able to pull himself together afterwards! He—We don’t know if once he becomes energy… if he won’t be dispersed.”

His powers reacted to the blast and his molecular structure reorganized itself to match the properties of gravity. His skin began to turn as black as the night. The ground began to sink in under the tremendous pressure around him. Everyone around him was slowly drawn in towards Amalgam.

“No…” she whispered, knowing full well what she was seeing. “Oh, God… don’t do this… don’t make me lose him…”

Fathom fell by his side, knowing that he had taken the blast that would have hammered her. In an instant she had dropped her aquatic form, reverting to her flesh and blood. Long, blonde girls spilled down and brushed Amalgam’s face as the young woman hovered over him. “He’s not breathing!” she screamed. She checked for a pulse and she checked for a heartbeat and was startled by how cold his body felt. She put such curiosities out of her mind for now and focused on what she had not found. Almost immediately, Alexa put her medical knowledge to the test.

Alexa’s mind drifted to a study she had read in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study proclaimed that on television, CPR had a success rate of seventy-five percent. The truth was that CPR was not portrayed accurately in fiction. CPR had little chance of restarting the heart. Alexa cursed her knowledge as she told herself that all it truly did was provide oxygen to the brain to prevent brain damage. In the real world, without defibrillation, survival rates averaged at around five percent.

Whether it was the shock that Amalgam had fallen in battle or the sight of Fathom’s lips on his that cause Tripper to freeze, Adonis wasn’t sure. In that slither of a moment, his eyes caught the sight of her heart breaking and her resolve shattering.

Most of their eyes were on Amalgam… and many of the New Vindicators missed the sight of a one-eyed wolf leaping down from the wall and racing across the lawn. Deimos had seen it though and so had Agent Webber. Each on their own, the two withdrew into the shadows—in pursuit of the lupine form.

“What happening to him?” Frostbite asked, anchoring himself to the ground with his own powers. Copycat shut his eyes, reaching out with his own abilities and moving for that flickering star he knew to be Amalgam. He reached out and was surprised to find something so different than he had known before. That light was pulling him in and he was suddenly reminded of the incident just weeks before. He couldn’t lose control again… not here, not now. Fighting against the pull of that glimmer of light, Drew escaped back to his body.

“His powers…” Drew said, unable to believe what he was about to say: “They’re… they’re evolving.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Deimos versus Okami
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 55

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:36 pm

Chapter LV: Hungry like the Wolf
Okami charged through the night, knowing just where to go. If she knew the way he thought, he would be near the gem. Her nostrils twitched, searching for Mister Bradshaw’s scent amongst the jumble of sensations the air carried to her.

She erupted from the foliage in the Imperial Palace Garden. As she ran she shook herself free of whatever vegetation clung to her. Suddenly she picked up a new scent, moving in fast. She crouched down and pounced out of the path of a blast of black energy. She immediately recognized the signature as hellfire—the odd ability her fiancé channeled. Still, Hanyou Hajime’s energy wasn’t the first of its type she had ever witnessed; her mind drifted back to a year ago, when she stood beside Caliber, Tide and Tusk, fighting against the criminal who called herself Brimstone. Brimstone’s energy was red; Hajime’s was blue. Black… this was a new experience to the young woman but it hardly came as a surprise.

Deimos glided on his glowing wings—the energy he had rocketed outward cascaded over him, forming a terrifying armor and functional wings that erupted from his back. That same energy he formed into a scythe—the chosen weapon for the Personification of Fear. “Well,” he said, chuckling softly to himself as he landed, “this is different.”

The wolf stood on its hind legs and as it reeled back it took shape, transfiguring Okami back to her natural form. Reon was the latest descendant of the Okami clan, a family of Neo-Sapiens blessed with the power to transform into a wolf. It was that power that gave them their name, Okami was Japanese for wolf. “Being a wolf must suck when you only have one eye,” Deimos grumbled. “I mean… your field of vision must be crap.”

Okami grabbed at the sword on her back. When she transformed, so did everything on her. Deimos’ eyes went to it. It had to be Kusanagi. Still, he didn’t see the mirror anywhere on her. “Give it up, lady… you’re not getting through me.”

Okami Reon’s teeth bit into the hilt of the curved-edged sword. With a thought she had transformed back to a wolf. Her skill with a sword was meager… but in that form, she was more agile and strong. Though her ability was limited, holding the sword in her mouth, she was still a threat.

Deimos’ feet spread apart as he took a bracing stance against her charge. The wolf barreled forward, leaping at the last second. He had considerable reach with his weapon, but she couldn’t allow herself to sit outside his range. The only options open to the young woman were to get in close…

There was little hope of dodging the blow in the air but on land his aim would be heightened. She needed the high ground—she needed to descend upon him and tear him apart, limb-from-limb. She tucked and rolled, the blade of the sword rotating from the vortex of the ball of fur she had become. The sheer size of the scythe hindered Deimos’ movements. He drew the weapon back behind him and brought it down overhead—sacrificing accuracy for power. It was a futile attempt as his swipe barely connected with the woman. Her form unraveled, landing atop his chest and slashing the blade for his throat.

Deimos threw back his head, avoiding the razor’s edge by mere inches. His weapon’s size couldn’t help him fight Okami at this range… but he had another weapon...

Reaching back, he drew the katana Sanada Yukimura had given him. The man claimed it was the blade that would fell one of the Seven Fallen—whatever that meant. Deimos had pushed for more of an explanation… but Yukimura would say nothing. Kirigakure Saizou was more generous: “The Seven Fallen are ancient warriors unlike any this world has ever known,” he had said. “Half of what mankind knows we know because of them. They taught us to make weapons and to go to war. They were the professors of forbidden arts. They are the fathers of the Nephilim.”

Nephilim. It was the word Atlanta’s father, the Aurelius, had used to describe Deimos. What did it mean though? Was one of the Seven Fallen his father? He had never known his father. He had never really known his mother either; he had been raised by his aunt and her husband. They had told him so much about the woman who had given birth to him, but they knew nothing of the man who had helped to conceive him. To Deimos it was a simple enough equation with an even simpler answer:

He would use this blade to slay his father.

“It will be used to kill one of the Seven Fallen,” Saizou had admitted after Michuru had dismissed the New Vindicators from the bridge just hours ago, “but it will be broken when it crosses its brother.”

“Brother?”

“In traditional swordsmithing… two identical swords are forged. You have the brother blade to a great sword… The day it crosses its brother, it will break.”

“Where is the brother?”

“Yukimura-dono gave it away not so many years ago… to Michuru-kun.”

‘I can’t oppose Michuru… not until I’ve killed my father.’ It was Deimos’ logic; though fractured… it was sound in some sliver of a way. For now… it seemed that a truce was forged between the two. Deimos was intent to keep that truce for as long as he had to. “Michuru,” he said, touching at the communicator. He wasn’t normally accustomed to wearing his uniform, but this once he fortunately had given in to the conformity. “I’ve got the thief in the gardens. She’s not going down easy.”

“We’ll be there as soon as we can,” came Mister Bradshaw’s voice. Surprise was mingled on his calm demeanor; he likely couldn’t believe that Deimos was not only wearing his communicator, but that he was requesting assistance.

Okami’s eyes were wide with terror as she turned back to her human form. “No!” she demanded. “You have to call him back! Tell him to stay where he is!”

“I don’t like that he’s coming to help either,” Deimos grumbled, “but I’ve got to be a team player for just a little while longer…”

“You don’t understand!”

Deimos swung the katana through the air and Okami rolled out of the sword’s arc. “You idiot!” she hissed, using her own blade to block his strikes. “He needs to protect the jewel!”

“Once you’re gone, it’ll be safe!” Deimos laughed. “Now hand over the Kusanagi!”

Okami growled; even in her human form, she seemed almost wolf-like as she barred her teeth at the young man. “You moron! If I had the Kusanagi, don’t you think I would have used it to get past you by now?”

Deimos blinked in surprise. “Yeah…” His sword strokes slowed. “Wait—why didn’t you-”

“God… you’re not the thief, are you?” Deimos dropped the hellfire armor and her eyes popped at the sight of the uniform he wore. “You’re a New Vindicator?” she barked. “Dame!”

That Deimos was confused was an understatement. Okami didn’t have time to explain herself. She transformed back into her wolf’s form and moved to speed away. Almost instantly, Deimos’ armor and scythe had reappeared. Okami didn’t stop to finish their battle—she merely hurried off across the lawn, moving towards where she had earlier smelt Michuru.

Imps torn from the pits of hell threw themselves upon her back. Okami struggled to fight them off, but she managed to escape their hold. Light as bright as the sun flared; it was only the precursor to the inferno that raged across the gardens. “I always knew you were a moron,” Okami barked as she turned back to her human form. She raised her hands in surrender, knowing when she was outgunned. Against Pandora, Halogen and Michuru, she knew she stood no chance. “This takes the cake though…”

“Where are the other artifacts?” Mister Bradshaw demanded, his voice near-drowned in the crackle of the flames that leapt from him.

“With the thief,” Okami growled. “Agent Jacquelyn Webber.”

The dance of the flames became more chaotic as they grew. Without hesitation, Mister Bradshaw abandoned his questioning, charging back towards the shrine on site. Under his breath, the man cursed Sanada Yukimura and his fear of adaptation. Of the immortal swordsman he commanded, only Sasuke had begun to embrace the changes time brought. He alone understood technology. In their arrogance-fueled ignorance, they had ensured no way to alert them to the true thief’s identity. They trusted Agent Webber—what would they do to stop her if she arrived and said she needed to move the gem to keep it safe?

Mister Bradshaw arrived at the shrine, the others in tow behind him. Sanada Yukimura seemed genuinely surprised to see them return… and to see the effect of Michuru’s powers that hinted at his emotions.

Yasakani no Magatama was gone.
To Be Continued... wrote:Loose ends.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 56

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:37 pm

Chapter LVI: Soldier Boy
Lex Sway was in the infirmary of the New Vindicators Academy of Asia. Doctor Styles was in there with him, as were Mister Bradshaw and Jacque Webber. Miss DiMera and Miss Jordan stood outside, poised as stoic sentries anxious to find out what the young man’s fate would be.

The other students from the American school sat in a waiting area down the hall, within sight of the door. The moment there was news they would know it. “Should we chalk this one up in the win category?” bemoaned Magnus Loder sarcastically. “We scuffled with people who were trying to help us and let the real bad guy skip town with three powerful relics.”

“At least nobody died,” Alexa grumbled. “I mean, we’ve gone how many weeks without any of our classmates dying? This must be a personal best.”

Deimos shook his head at them. “Give Michuru a minute and I’m sure we’ll meet our quota for corpses.”

Maria raised an eyebrow at him. “What do you mean?”

“You know how the Affiliation tried to recruit Lex and he shot them down? This must be Michuru’s punishment… Lex will be lucky to live through the night. Now I’ll never get to pay him back…”

Magnus started to laugh and Adonis shuddered; he hated his roommate’s laugh almost as much as he hated his roommate. “What makes you think Michuru has anything to do with the Affiliation?”

“It was the night Kai died,” Deimos explained. “His last words were ‘Don’t trust Mi-’ which… is pretty incriminating in and of itself but when I got to his body… a sword was coming out of his back. It was Michuru’s sword. Michuru’s sword was jutting out of Kai’s back and Kai had been about to say ‘Don’t trust Michuru.’ Now this Yukimura guy gives me this sword and says that I’m going to kill one of the Seven Fallen with it—whatever that means—but that it would break when it was used in battle against its brother-blade… It’s going to break against the sword Yukimura gave Michuru… the one that was coming out of Kai…”

“We don’t know that he didn’t come to Japan to steal back the Imperial Regalia,” Alexa intoned softly, afraid of who might be listening in. “I mean, for all we know… Jacque’s mom took them to keep them away from him. Think about it: he admitted to knowing where they were and she’s an agent of Interpol, right? Maybe she was the good guy here…”

“Lex said that those two he and Jacque fought—Lazarus and Singe?” Magnus thought back to what he had heard them tell Doctor Styles. “They said that in the Affiliation all the members get their orders from two people and that those two people are the only ones who know the true identity of their leader.” Adonis’ eyes widened in horror at the youth’s words; perhaps it was his feelings of self-worth that made him so nervous. Lex and Jacquelyn, Deimos and Ben… they had each been tested in battle by members of the Affiliation. His powers were useless in a fight. Perhaps it was fear that he too would eventually be tested that made him so nervous when the Affiliation was mentioned. “They told them that Blitzkrieg was one of those two people… and Blitzkrieg stopped them from saying the other name.”

“You think it could have been Michuru?” Maria asked.

“No,” Deimos growled. “Michuru’s the only person who ever took down Atlas. Do you honestly think there would be anyone above him?”

“Then Michuru is the top dog of the Affiliation?” Magnus shook his head. “Then whose name didn’t Blitzkrieg want us to know?”

“Someone we know,” Drew rationalized.

“One of our teachers,” cursed Deimos. “You ever see the way Miss Jordan looks at him? Like she’s going to explode if he doesn’t take her right then and there?”

Magnus shook his head. “We’re forgetting Mister Jorgenson. Whoever killed Lucas changed their appearance to look like Deimos. Who has that kind of power except for Chimera?”

“Whoever killed Addison!” Maria thundered. “Her Morph Buckle was stolen…”

“Quint said those things were almost impossible to reprogram. Not just anybody could reconfigure it to give off the illusion that they were Deimos.” Magnus stroked his chin as he mused over the other solutions to their present quandary. “Quinton was Mister Jorgenson’s son; he could have reprogrammed it for him to set-up Deimos. That might also explain why Quinton was taken out: to keep him from revealing who he helped…”

“But Quinton wasn’t taken down!” Drew argued. “We saw him when Atlanta’s pop took us into the Astral Plane! Quinton’s alive—all five of him—and they’re underground, lying low…”

“If Quinton’s alive then… whose body did Cloud see burning that night?” Magnus shook his head. “I guess Cloud being in the Affiliation might explain why he’s been acting so weird the last few weeks…”

“None of it makes sense,” offered Alexa. “Why would Mister Jorgenson ask his son to reprogram the Morph Buckle when he could alter his appearance with his powers?”

“Because he hadn’t had flesh-to-flesh contact with Deimos,” Magnus retorted. “Chimera’s power only lets him morph into those he’s touched and indexed.”

“That’s something else…” Maria asked. “Is Mister Jorgenson’s power to merely alter his appearance… or become that person? Like… if he became Deimos… could he use Deimos’ abilities?”

“What difference does it make?” asked Alexa. “He’s gone now… there’s no telling where he went…”

Magnus shook his head. “No—there’s no telling who he is.”

Adonis rose up from his seat, his face showed agitation—he had heard enough. “I trust Mister Bradshaw,” he said. “I do not honestly believe he could be behind such… such terrible acts. Besides, wouldn’t it be dangerous for him to run an organization like the Affiliation from inside the school? At some point someone might notice one of their fellow teachers running a clandestine group of super-powered terrorists.”

Ben Altair had been quiet up until now. Adonis’ championing him in his prior argument with Drew had won the young man’s loyalty. “I agree with Adonis,” Ben said sternly. “There’s no way Mister Bradshaw could balance his responsibilities to the school and building a group like the Affiliation without someone noticing.”

Adonis nodded. “So long as he remains at the school, I’ll believe in him.” Ben voiced his agreement and then cut off as the Mihoshi brothers, Seikai and Isa, appeared in a blur. Of the immortal warriors under Sanada Yukimura’s command, they were the swiftest. The shinobi had been dispatched to scour the city for any sign of Agent Webber. That they returned empty-handed meant that she had not been found.

“How hard can it be to nab her?” Drew mused. “I mean, you’d think customs would notice her trying to waltz out of the country with the Imperial freakin’ Regalia under her shirt.”

Drew’s comments were ignored. In the room beyond, Doctor Natalie Styles pushed her healing abilities to the limit in an attempt to help one of her students. She had some help from others whose powers may have been able to suppress whatever was happening to Lex. At his side were two women: his girlfriend, Jacquelyn Webber, and the girl who apparently wanted to be his girlfriend, Alexa Hawk. Michuru Bradshaw, another of their instructors, attempted to put Lex Sway’s strange malady out of his mind as he pulled answer’s from Hanyou Hajime’s. “If not from the beginning, when did you find out that Agent Webber was stealing the artifacts?”

“We only figured it out a few hours ago,” Hanyou explained, fixing the man with a glare. Two factions—the New Vindicators and Kurenai Kage—had clashed trying to protect the three sacred treasures. In their zeal, they had failed in doing that. The items were now in the possession of a woman they all believed to be a reformed thief.

Drew raised his hand and Mister Bradshaw sighed, fearing what was about to come. “Drew?”

“So… what, the twin’s brother is a ninja?”

“The twin’s father was leader of Kurenai Kage—the Crimson Shadow. It’s a clan of shinobi who served the emperor during the Bakufu. When Ichigo-san died, leadership passed to Hanyou Hajime, despite that he was not a blood heir.”

“What about the twins?”

“They are also shinobi, though inactive,” replied Hajime. “Ever since they joined the academy, they have not been privileged to clan information. Still, their powers would have been most beneficial tonight… especially short-handed as we are.”

Mister Bradshaw frowned. Since their father’s death, the clan’s numbers had been dwindling. It was undoubtedly a sign of Hajime’s leadership. The man was slowly poisoning the clan with his poor ability. Kurenai Kage would be extinct in the years coming. “Why didn’t you come to me? You knew I was in the country…”

“My clan needed to be the one who stopped her,” Hajime admitted. “Our numbers are dwindling. I’m not sure how to… I can’t let Ichigo-san’s legacy fall. Not on my watch.” Magnus’ heart went out to the man. He knew how it felt to be passed a torch that burned brighter than one soul ever could. It was hard to look at that light—blinding as it was—but it was so mesmerizing at the same time and so hard to look away. As heavy as the burden of being the Lodestone was… he couldn’t just pass on it. He knew he couldn’t do it justice… but he had to try. “I thought if we returned the items, things would change… this embarrassment will only make things worse.”

“Pride isn’t the issue,” Mister Bradshaw intoned. “Three very powerful Hyperborean artifacts are somewhere out there… and who knows whose hands they’ll fall into? The three treasures don’t belong to her—they belong to-”

“They belong to you,” Yukimura interrupted. Michuru shook his head, opposing the idea. “Michuru-san, please… The treasures would suit you. Kusanagi would double your power-”

“Power I can’t control!”

“Finally!” Okami laughed. “He admits it!”

Neither Yukimura, Mister Bradshaw, nor their audience paid her insipidness any mind. “Mister Bradshaw… your powers resonate with those of the treasures. You are a swordsman; you know how best to use them. You’re hero of legend who is worthy of legendary artifacts. Why should the treasure of Japan not be entrusted to a son of her?”

“We don’t even have them-”

“We will. We have to have faith that we will. I think that… we should not trust them at shrines though.” Yukimura stroked his chin and he grinned knowingly at the man. “They will be safe with you.”

Doctor Styles emerged from the room Lex Sway had been taken to. “She did it… Saya did it.”

“That’s my girl!” Drew laughed.

“We were right about Drew’s abilities,” she said. “That he wasn’t able to sense Sasuke and the others’ abilities proved that Drew’s talent was limited to genetic powers only. That he was able to still pick out Lex with his powers implied that… even though they were changing, Lex’s powers are very likely still Neo-Sapien in origin. Ahodori Saya’s power to manipulate the Neo-Sapien talents of others has suppressed the darkness. He seems normal…”

“But?” Mister Bradshaw could tell by her voice that more was coming.

“But… we’re not sure how long it will last. Lex is conscious and… and he can’t mimic properties anymore. Wood, stone, cotton… his structure stays the same. When he attempts to transform he only takes that form.”

“What is it?”

Doctor Styles shrugged. “We know next to nothing about Agent Webber’s abilities. Jacquelyn’s powers are an extension of her mother’s and father’s abilities from what we’ve learned… but both appeared to be based on gravitational forces.”

“So… what?” Adonis asked. “Are you saying that Lex is… like his own planet now or something?”

Doctor Styles wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. “Lex is… becoming a spatial anomaly—a human black hole, as it were. Thanks to Saya, he’s able to at least reverse the transformation… but… what happens if there comes a day when he can’t? And what happens if he’s too powerful by then?”

Michuru’s face fell in his hands. Alexander Sway naturally put everything on his own shoulders as it was. Now he had to live with the idea that he could one day become a black hole on Earth? If he knew… would he kill himself? Lex was willing to do anything to protect those around him; that messiah-complex had been what put him in this situation. Should he be told? Did he need to know about the possibility? It was only a theory—they had no way of knowing just what would happen. Did they have a duty to pass on their postulations?

“The school has given us use of their private jet to return to home immediately. Back state-side we have Doctor Bradley and Professor Alston… they come close to being the smartest men on this planet. I think the only one smarter is in Alcatraz.”

“The monkey man!” Deimos exclaimed. Sarutobi Sasuke shot him an odd look.

“It’s possible that they can create some sort of containment suit for him,” Doctor Styles intoned.

“Will he be able to return to school?”

“We’re headed back-”

“I’m not talking about the academy, Nat,” Mister Bradshaw said, lifting his head enough to fix the woman from over his fingertips. “I mean… will he be able to continue his normal life at Eleanor Roosevelt?” Doctor Styles gave him no answer and Miss Jordan’s heart broke as she watched Michuru’s heart ache for the boy. “Well, we’ve been in Japan for two days and so far we managed to allow a known thief to walk off with the crown jewels and we’ve permanently disfigured one of our students and completely dismantled his life. Am I missing anything else or can I just chalk this one up in the loss category?”

“Jacquelyn’s blaming herself for everything,” Pandora said casually, “Alexandra is trying to steal Lex, Magnus is mad at Maria for not putting out, Maria’s mad at Magnus for expecting her to put out, Drew’s alienated Adonis and Ben, Adonis is having feeling of inadequacy, and Ben seems even more introverted. But on the plus side, Deimos is as functional as always.”

“All right!” Deimos laughed.

“That’s not a good thing,” Pandora grumbled, folding her arms across her chest. “Why don’t you just admit it, Michuru? Okami’s right: you don’t have any business teaching these kids. You don’t have anything to teach! You can’t control your powers and, well, let’s be honest… history is slowly repeating itself. This is the Vindicators VII all over again! Good people end up dead or missing a body part or two… Lives get shattered and as far as I can tell, the common element is you.”

Doctor Styles’ jaw worked furiously; she wrestled to evoke the words that would do her indignation justice and just as she had settled on them, Michuru cut her off. “You’re right… maybe… maybe I am failing them.” He took a deep breath, afraid to say what he knew he had to: “Once we get back to the States… I’ll hand in my resignation.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Justice.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Michuru81
Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
Posts: 5693
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

New Vindicators, Chapter 57

Post by Michuru81 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:22 am

Chapter LVII: Monster Mash
September 8, 2006 had been the worst day of his life. Officers Avery St. James and C. John Holden were assigned to a case of drug trafficking. There were rumors that a criminal mastermind was uniting the criminal element of New York. Every low-life, every thug, every gang, every drug dealer and every pimp was eating out of this one man’s hand. Most of his dealing seemed to involve a new drug. Little was known about BOOST beyond what it was hyped as: it was an adhesive patch that upon skin contact delivered a euphoric high unlike anything. If the user happened to be a Neo-Sapien then their powers were pushed beyond the threshold. In some cases, their powers mutated out of control—they didn’t just become stronger, they gained new, disturbing abilities.

This kingpin knew what he was doing. Nobody that New York’s finest busted knew who he was—they all got their orders channeled to them from someone else. Only one thing was certain: BOOST was being trafficked out of New York City quickly. It was being manufactured in the boroughs… and bussed somewhere else.

Two brothers, Bret and Kyle Morris, were pegged as a pair of the local pushers. Revenue was afloat thanks to high school kids with too much money. The rookie cops were assigned to bust them—catch them in the act and possibly nail their boss. They were made and Avery took a bullet to the shoulder, three to the chest, one to the neck and one to the frontal lobe. John hadn’t been hurt. He had made it to cover and rather than plug him then and there, the pushers decided to sprint. John radioed backup and stayed by Avery’s side.

In the White Pawn, his wife and their five-year-old son were trying to sell her grandfather’s classic Gibson to the proprietor, Sam White. Sam White was known throughout Brooklyn for his eccentricity… and his perplexingly good deals. Up to their necks in debt and with John’s birthday approaching in a week, Angela and Ryan were all set to buy John the antique pistol from the Civil War he had been eyeing for months. His father had been the one to get him involved in Civil War reenactments. Owning an actual piece of the battles would be like a dream come true for the man.

Pursued by the standard Crown Victoria’s, the Morris brothers holed themselves up inside the White Pawn, taking Sam White and the four patrons inside hostage. Before the situation was defused, allegedly by a seventeen-year-old boy inside, two hostages were slain:
Angela and Ryan Holden.

All the evidence pointed to one or both of the brothers being a Neo-Sapien. Such evidence was inconsequential, given their lawyer. The Morris brothers were defended by the best attorney on the east coast: Bo Vidae. It only proved to John that whoever these thugs were working for he had more money than God to hire the big dog. Of course, under his protection, the two walked.

It only proved to Officer Holden that the justice system—the very thing he had upheld and idolized for years—simply didn’t work. There was no such thing as justice in this life…

So he would become it.

He removed the solid blue bar and the solid green bar from his uniform. Somehow, he didn’t feel right wearing the NYPD-issued medals for Valor and the Police Combat Cross. Not while he was thinking the sort of thoughts he was thinking. It took months of careful planning and physical conditioning… but he did it. He did it and he owed it to his mysterious benefactors—the Affiliation—for financing this mission. He checked over the gear their grants had purchased him and when he was convinced he was ready he set off on the back of his motorcycle and he rode for San Francisco.

Jean Luc Black never knew what hit him. Originally a product of Project: PRIME, he was a being bred for the right genetic talents. Codenamed Ombre, he had graduated from the New Vindicators Academy less than a year ago. A 2006 graduate, he was not as experienced as some of the other members of the Guardians, the elite superhero team policing Alcatraz.

Clad in a black armored jumpsuit and armed with two nightsticks and a revolver Angela had died to give him, C. John Holden dropped from the ceiling and literally got the drop on Ombre.

The impact roused a few of the inmates from their sleep. The Falconer, so named because of his ability to control birds, had been sent to Alcatraz for sending his vile flock upon those who made fun of him in high school. He had even killed one girl, who had broken his heart for a cruel joke. With Ombre’s keycard, John had access to the controls. The Falconer’s eyes sparkled joyously as the man opened his cell alone. The dark figure ignored pleas from Mason as he slipped into the Falconer’s abode. “Not that I’m ungrateful,” the twenty-something said tiredly, “but who are you?”

Behind the mask that obscured his identity and provided him with additional senses, John smiled. “I am Justice,” came a voice from the vocal scrambler. Cracking the nightstick across the man’s face, John laid him out cold and moved to smother him with his own pillow.

“Wh—what’s going on?” Mason asked, peering through the slivers of light to find a shred of what was taking place. “Hey! Hey, everybody! Wake up! Something’s going on!”

The Falconer’s last breath robbed of him, John made his way into the alley for the minimal security. It was the ward where the least threatening were kept. The prisoners were raising an alarm. He couldn’t take them all. He would have to move on quickly if he were going to kill his main targets. The Order of Chaos had more blood on their hands than anyone in here. Perhaps they had killed more than every other prisoner combined.

Here, in the maximum security ward, were Justice’s main targets: Artillery, Apathy, the Order of Chaos and the Shadow. They would be the lives he would claim that would make him a legend. Their deaths would ensure that his name struck fear into every Neo-Sapien who so much as considered murdering a normal human.

John’s hand felt for a detonator he had carried on a back pouch on his belt. He knew the heavy defenses that kept the maximum security prisoners in also kept people like him out. Stealing a simple keycard wouldn’t allow him to gain access to them. The most efficient route to them was also the simplest…

The transformers blew. The generators and backup generators exploded. Every charge John had strategically placed went off simultaneously, rocking the island’s foundation and clearing the path to the big leagues. Deeper into the complex, one prisoner immediately noticed the change. Michael Connors, the villain known as the Shadow, could enter one shadow and exit any other on earth. His room was ringed in numerous halos of light that banished all darkness. His furniture was hard, transparent plastic. Though he had adjusted to using a beauty mask to sleep, tonight he found himself too immersed in the collective works of William Shakespeare to venture off to dream. When the lights went out, he waited for the backup generators to kick on. When they failed to, he had his chance… and was gone…

John vanished into the maximum security ward just as the other Guardians moved to respond to the radio silence Ombre was unnaturally observing.

Besitz and Izzy came around the corner, led by Warden Hart. Once upon a time their fearless leader had been a member of the Vindicators VII; better known to the world as Siphon, his ability to drain a fraction of a Neo-Sapien’s powers and use them as his own made him the perfect candidate for fighting down such riots. That ability made him confident and that confidence clouded him. As the commander led the duo around the corner and onto the alley, Nathanial Styles’ face was not one he expected to see.

“What are you doing out of your cell, Nate?” Siphon asked cautiously. His companions were young and inexperienced. He wasn’t sure if they could stand up to Alabaster in battle.

“I was thinking I’d go visit my twin sister… see how she’s doing and all.”

“I really think you should get back in your cell, Nate.”

“I really think you’re afraid of me, Brian. I really think you’re afraid of us.”

Besitz sized up the liberated inmates and picked out the most physically imposing. The martial arts training practically programmed into her made her as good a practitioner of Jeet Kune Do as Bruce Lee himself. Still, there was a difference between knowing the style and living it. That difference was a chasm in his ability and her own. Still, it was enough to help her navigate the flood waters of villains and make her way to Haymaker. Laying a hand on him their bodies merged and became a new being…

His body and her mind. His power and her experience.

“Tiff’s working her magic!” Isato proclaimed.

“Go!” their commander cried. Haymaker turned towards Nightingale and delivered the super-punch—the totality of his Neo-Sapien abilities—right into the woman’s gut. Besitz knew the strategy: in the event of a riot, attack the most dangerous. Any opponents who focused their attacks on mental faculties were the first priority. Those who could do the most damage came next. By using her own ability to possess the body of another she was killing two birds with one stone.

Isato threw himself against the back wall and immediately he snapped forward. Carried on an unnatural momentum, Izzy began to bounce from one surface to the next, ricocheting from surface-to-surface and taking down a few of the weaker criminals. The four Frenzy brothers, the Fowl Four, the Ghost Moth, Syngery, the Bookworm… they all fell under the bizarre powers the prime possessed.

Tearing off his muzzle, BOOM! opened his mouth and unleashed a devastating blast of sonic force from his maw. Pummeling into the oncoming Izzy, the force threw the young Asian man backwards and into the arms of Rodney Jackson, also known as Numb. His hands clapped down on Izzy’s face, paralyzing the hero with a touch.

Brown Recluse was quick to pounce upon the paralyzed hero and wrap all six of her arms around him. “Give it up, blondie! Unless you wanna see me bear-hug fatty and snap every bone in his body! At least after what Numb did… he wouldn’t feel anything…” Besitz never considered her options; Haymaker’s arms sagged as Besitz gave up the fight.

“Where is Warden Hart?” she asked.

“He’s with Alabaster,” Brown Recluse said. “I saw Nasty Nate drag his sorry butt away a while ago… Seemed like adopting Nate’s powers didn’t help much. Guess he didn’t know about Nate’s immunity. Maybe he should have siphoned that!” Pariah and Sift were tossing Ombre and Izzy into cells and Mason stood guard over the duo. “Everyone? It looks like we’re free!”

A titanic punch connected with Brown Recluse then, liberating Besitz’s form. “Keep fighting!” Silverback snarled to the girl. “Miss Bentley! Mister Akimichi and yourself are Guardians! You have both dedicated your lives to guarding society from these people… I don’t believe Mister Akimichi would appreciate being the reason you’ve given up on that duty!”

Silverback’s mighty hands clasped down over BOOM!’s face and with little effort he forced the man back against the wall. The man went limp in the gorilla’s arms; unconscious, he was no longer a threat… but he still could pose a problem to some others. With his savage strength, Silverback hefted the man’s form and swung into Numb. He was an educated man and knew what the man’s powers were. He knew that he had to avoid flesh-to-flesh contact if he hoped to make it through the battle.

Behind him, Besitz was still fighting in Haymaker’s body. Each jab hammered the inmates back. The man had been a boxer until he was outted as a Neo-Sapien and every title he had won was disputed. As such, his build allowed her to finesse the fight and take full advantage of Bruce Lee’s philosophy. Jeet Kune Do and Western Boxing weren’t that far removed from each other. “Where’s Caliber?” she growled. “He should have responded by now!”

Silverback wretched a wrought iron bar from the cement walls and wielded it threateningly against Numb. “I fear the worst,” he said simply; it was a remarkable achievement for the genius.

“You don’t think he’s dead!?”

“There are worse things,” Silverback grumbled. He didn’t want to give the young woman any further concern. He didn’t want to say what he was thinking. One man could not merely just slip past the defenses at Alcatraz’s disposal. Not without inside help.

“So what now?” she asked, the numbers slowly thinning. Realizing that most of their strength had been bested, more of the inmates were surrendering. They would rather quietly return to their cells than face the pair.

“We fight!” Silverback snarled. “We fight until every last one is contained!”

And then it dawned on Besitz… what would she do when it came down to her and Silverback? What would she do if he made a move to escape when all else was said and done? Tiffany Bentley pushed such fears out of her head and out of her heart. For now, he was her ally and she would not think of him as anything else. If the time came… she would deal with Silverback in her own way…

With a savage cry honoring his jungle-like form, Silverback hurled himself into the melee and continued the war to keep Alcatraz’s prisoners right where they belonged…
To Be Continued... wrote:The Source of Dreams.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 58

Post by Michuru81 » Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:13 am

NEW VINDICATORS #7: Disco Inferno


Chapter LVIII: Dreaming in Metaphors [Part III]
Donna-Anne Manther held her breath as she felt the rigid touch of the tree’s bark press against her spine. Large, gentle fingers clumsily worked the buttons of her blouse as she smiled up at the mammoth of a man.

Max Fitzpatrick was her first boyfriend. She truly believed that she loved him. Whether she really did or whether it was the sort of youth-induced drama concocted by her teenage mind, she didn’t know. She didn’t care. Max was the man for her as far as her fifteen-year-old brain could fathom and that was all the reason she needed when she gave herself to him three weeks and two days ago.

The pair had been doing it like rabbits ever since, praying to any major deity they could think of that they wouldn’t be found out.

No one else at the New Vindicators Academy knew that the two were even dating. They could only imagine the scandal it would cause. Not only was Max Fitzpatrick on the same team as Donna-Anne’s big brother, he was under the man’s command. To further complicate matters, Max had turned eighteen at the beginning of the semester—all the way back in September. It would be two more months before the girl was even old enough to drive.

“Wait,” she whispered. “Don’t you wanna talk? It feels like forever since we’ve just done that, Max.”

With a thud Max sat down on the cold grass at their feet. It put him at eye-level with her where she stood. “What’s on your mind?”

“Graduation.”

“You’re still only a sophomore.”

“You’re a senior. You’re going to be graduating soon. What… what’s going to happen to us?”

“Maybe I’ll flunk. You never know.”

“Max…” she said, a warning sound in her voice. She buttoned the trio of buttons he had undone and fell to the ground, leaning against his titanic shape hulking out in the gardens behind the private school. “You can’t do that. It’s too… stupid.”

“What about dropping out?”

“When you’re so close to graduating?”

“Not me, Jet. You.”

Donna-Anne Manther, codenamed Jetstream, blinked at his suggestion. Born with the power of unstoppable flight, little in life hindered the young woman—little managed to shake her.

“I’ll graduate and you… drop out. Marry me.”

Her eyes widened at the suggestion. His proposal had done it; he had shaken her to her core and back again. “What?”

“You heard me, Jet. Marry me. Tonight, tomorrow… whenever. Drop out of school and marry me.” His massive finger traced the line of buttons up to her chin and she grinned at the familiar warmth of his touch. “Lemme make an honest woman out of you.”

“You expect me to just drop out of school? Someone doesn’t see all the PSA run on television, huh? We practically get it beaten into us: we can’t go anywhere without a high school diploma.”

“I love you, Jet. I don’t even know if I would know how to fail you. I want to get a job and work nine-to-five. I want to provide for your every need. I want to come home everyday to your smiling face. I want to wake up to have it be the first thing I see.”

“Max… we can’t have that.”

“Why not!?” His voice thundered across the treeline and sent birds awake and into flight.

“Max… we couldn’t ever have a normal life. It’s not fair but… Max, you know how people are. How you look… your size and your molars…”

That was why Max preferred making out over talking—talking always came back to this. “You think I don’t know that I’m a freak!? You think that I don’t know that people are going to treat me differently because of how I look!?” The Neo-Sapien known as Tusk rose up to his full height and looked on the love of his life with sad eyes. “Jet… I know how people look at me. I know what they see… and… I used to think that it was okay. I used to think that it wasn’t like that for everybody… someone would see me for who I really am.”

“And I do-”

“Why do we hide our love then?”

“You know why, Max. I don’t want to get you into-”

“No! Jet… we hide because you can’t stomach to think about how the other kids would look at you if they knew… what? That you had navigated your head between these molars jutting from my mouth and brushed my lips with yours? Or that they would tease you and ask if you had broken any ribs under me? Nobody would get it, right? What is a pretty doing with an ugly?”

“Max…” She hated it when he used those terms. They were as derogatory as some racial and ethnic slurs when they rolled from his tongue—filled with as much venom as any other unspeakable words.

“Max is my human name,” the behemoth whispered, hugging his arms tight around his grey form to brace against the chill. “I wanted you to see Max so badly but… you don’t, do you? You only know Tusk.”

“Max!”

“Good-bye, Jet.”
  • ...


Donna-Anne Manther woke up with a start and found herself in her bed at the Academy. The holiday had come and gone, spent in Tennessee for her. She was raised in the Appalachians in the eastern part of the state, a country girl true and through. Donna-Anne was the third of ten and so far, the third to find themselves blessed with the power of unstoppable flight. The eldest, Janet-Marie, used her powers for evil. She always looked down on their family. Their father had been a fisherman who made his living on the Clinch River basin. Their mother was a woman who had abandoned her hopes of being a country music superstar to have John Manther’s children.

The only thing was… they never stopped.

Janet-Marie saw each additional sibling as a drain on their income and only making life for the Manther’s worse. Inheriting her abilities from her father, Janet put them to use doing whatever she wanted and taking whatever she wanted. Her powers made it so nothing could stop her—why should she let anything get in her way?

J.J. Manther didn’t see it that way. He was one of the earlier students of the New Vindicators Academy—opting to use his gifts to make the world a better place and save it from people like his sister. He had graduated and joined the Guardians, the team which policed Alcatraz Island.

It had been a happy reunion with her parents and seven younger siblings—even though her elder sister and brother had not made it home for varying reasons. Still, it was rough coming back to New York. She had begun dating Cloud Goodman, the son of Coach Crag and Miss Mist, back during homecoming. In the recent months he had begun to grow more and more cold and distant. At first he seemed to not even recall that they were dating. Now, he treated her like a minor annoyance he was forced to deal with.

“Why do I do it?” she asked. She knew the answer. Doctor Pickford had given it to her plain as day:

“You undermine yourself,” he had said back in October. “You refuse to see yourself as an attractive young woman and you tell yourself that every man you look at is out of your league. So you settle… you settle for men who you believe have social or physical imperfections… simply because it’s the category you see yourself with. You don’t think you have a chance with men like… say Ben Altair or Drew Jenkins… so you lower your expectations for what you can get out of a relationship.”

Still, there was no shaking that something else was bothering her… Jacquelyn had told her that she had dreamt about Okami before landing in Japan and running into the woman. She said Lex had dreamt of Tide only just prior to the man’s abduction of Chienne Bedford. Donna-Anne Manther was not superstitious. She did not believe in things like ghosts and goblins or soothsaying and fortune-telling. The idea that their dreams were premonitions of things to come was preposterous. Still, there was no escaping that they had dreamed about Tide and Okami, her brother’s former subordinates, just before they found themselves fighting them. Who was to say that Tusk might become her enemy soon?

“There’s got to be a reasonable explanation for these dreams,” she grumbled. She rolled over onto her side and her eyes bulged at the sight. There he stood, crying out, soundlessly begging to Donna-Anne. His form was illuminating and radiant. His body was transparent and veil-like. Unless it was her lack of sleep tacking hold of her senses, there was no denying that Donna-Anne Manther now believed in ghosts.

“Lucas?” she asked, recognizing that face anywhere. “Lucas Howell?”
To Be Continued... wrote:Lex, Alexa and Jacque
Last edited by Michuru81 on Sun Sep 05, 2010 3:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 59

Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:35 am

Chapter LIX: I Want You to Want Me
Lex watched as the glowing red digits of his alarm clock transfigured themselves once more. His hand had been hovering just over the button, waiting to turn the alarm off the moment it displayed 07:00. Since returning from Japan, he had been given his own room. In the event that his abilities accidentally triggered, he was away from anyone he could hurt in his specially designed, specially located room.

His mattress was flat and uncomfortable—it was only part of the reason he had been awake when the alarm clock buzzed. There was some fear that his new abilities could trigger in the night and given his possible density, metal springs couldn’t hold up to his weight, nor would the floorboards. It made things uncomfortable, given that his room was located in the lower levels and his bed was a foam mattress on a stack of concrete blocks.
Turning off the alarm the moment it sounded Lex rose from his makeshift bed and began to undress with the intent of jumping in the shower before officially starting his day. Today was the first day of a new semester—of his last semester. Since his powers evolved there was some fear that he might involuntarily transform into his dense state. He was confident that he could make it through the rest of the year without any major glitches in his physiology.

The last few weeks had been terrible. He had celebrated the Christmas holiday with the love of his life refusing to even look at him. Jacque shouldered the blame for what had happened to him. It had been her mother who the blast had originated from. It was the abilities that she would grow into as her power matrix developed. She considered herself responsible for his condition and had been inconsolable.

Michuru Bradshaw had resigned from his post as educator. Where he had gone, Lex wasn’t sure. He had been one of the few to volunteer help in carrying boxes from the school to the moving truck; try as Lex did to get the man to open up, Michuru wouldn’t say where he was going—only that he was going. It was hard for Lex—he had revolutionized the school. He had begun to teach them to fight and defend themselves better. He had designed combat exercises in the Wreck Room that would pit them against each other to further push them to master their powers. Still, it wasn’t just that Lex appreciated what the man taught… but that he felt responsible. Like Jacque, Michuru blamed himself for what was happening—not just with Lex but with the other students. Lex’s life shattering had apparently been the last straw.

As sad as Lex was to see the man go, Doctor Natalie Styles and Breanne Jordan seemed just as sad. Cloud Goodman appeared wounded by his departure as well, oddly enough; Lex had thought Cloud despised the man’s lessons—Cloud had done everything he could to avoid combat in the Wreck Room. Then again he hadn’t actually seen Cloud use his powers in months… Something was happening with Cloud and he had almost failed to notice it. It seemed, at first, to have been the death of Quinton Jorgenson that had pushed him over the edge. Not only were they best friends but it was Cloud who found Quinton’s body. When the Aurelius took the New Vindicators into the Astral Plane they discovered that Quinton was still alive. Such a revelation hardly changed the sudden personality shift in Cloud’s personality. In fact, he hardly seemed surprised to be told that Quinton was still alive.

Of course the changes in Cloud were distressing to his girlfriend, Donna-Anne Manther. Her best friend and confidant was Jacque—Lex’s girlfriend was too engulfed in her own relationship problems to help Donna with hers though.

He wondered if maybe Magnus was right: maybe the powers that be had made a mistake in their choices for prefects. He and Jacque had let their personal problems get in the way of helping their friends and teammates… and it was abundantly obvious that the New Vindicators had a slew of problems.

Since returning from Japan, the relationships between so many students were estranged. Adonis and Drew had started out as good friends… but something had happened between them; when one entered the room, the other left. Something else seemed to be eating at Adonis, however…

Magnus and Maria had gotten close in the onsen, Lex had noticed the pair laughing and talking… He hadn’t been too pleased with Magnus’ relationship with Chienne Bedford and would have liked to have seen something spark between the young man and Maria Espada. Magnus could have benefited from a relationship where he could be honest and open—perhaps he would learn maturity and true compassion. Perhaps she could help to make him the leader he envisioned himself to be.

Ben Altair was even more introverted upon their arrival; at least, for a few days he had come off as dark and dreary. Then one day his cell phone began to play the Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’ and he had been wide grins ever since. He was hardly on the campus lately- he was always gallivanting off to some mystery date or another every time that song played.

Alexa was one of the few who had come back unscathed. Jacque’s avoidance of Lex was like an invitation to the girl to never leave his side. “Ooo,” came her voice from behind him, “I like what I see.”

Lex turned around; he had stripped to his briefs as he rummaged through his hamper, seeking for anything that didn’t smell too rank. Alexa’s abilities allowed her to transform into water which made it all but impossible to keep her out of anything—like Lex’s bedroom for example. She materialized with a grin that only broadened at the sight of his embarrassment. “No need,” she said as he turned to pull on whatever clothing he could grab. “Take your time. It’s not like you’ve got something I haven’t seen anyway.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking?” he asked.

“Sure—but my religion forbids it.”

He took the bait. “What religion would possibly forbid knocking?”

“Oh, I’m in the worship of Sexy Lexy… especially when he’s in ocean blue underoos. I love blue. Did you wear those for me?”

“I’d excuse myself to go take a shower if I wasn’t so terrified you’d find a way to become the water.”

“Quick trip through the plumbing!” she laughed. “First I take one and then… you could take one.”

“I’m not interested, Alexa.”

“C’mon! Lex and Alexa… our NAMES even sound good together.”

“No dice!”

“What does that even mean?”

“I’m with Jacque! You know that!”

“Really? Because anymore it seems like even she doesn’t know that, Lex. It’s like the only one who seems to think Lax and Jacque exist is you.” She turned and crossed the room, sitting on his bed and openly displaying her shock at the state of his bed. “Wow… this has to be the most uncomfortable thing I’ve… okay, we’ll officially have to use my room. I can chase the others out.” Alexa’s roommates consisted of Donna-Anne Manther and Jacquelyn Webber. “We’ll just hang a tie on the door and they’ll get the picture.”

“Listen, Alexa… whatever you want to happen between you and me? It’s not going to happen. Not now, not ever. Do you understand me?”

Alexa merely stared blankly at the man. She wasn’t used to not getting her way—and that was a feeling only second to not being used to men turning her down. “I am in love with Jacquelyn and… you can go ahead and say whatever you want about love and sex—but it won’t matter to me. For me… love and loyalty go hand-in-hand and… I’m not about to crawl into the sack without anyone I don’t love. I know things are estranged between us right now… but she’s hurting. She’s hurting and she won’t let me help her… maybe that’s what’s really going to help her. Maybe she needs to just… fight for herself. I don’t know. What I know is that I love her and I believe she loves me. I’m willing to fight for her if I have to. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this work and… and Alexa if that means hurting your feelings, then I’m sorry. Really, I’m sorry. I abhor confrontation but… I won’t just sit idly by and let you jeopardize what she and I have. Do you get that?”

“I guess so…”

“Can you respect that?”

Alexa said nothing. She merely rose up from the uncomfortable bed and opened his door, making her way into the dorm’s halls. With a deep breath she turned back to face Lex, a grin wide across her face. “Your bed is PAINFULLY uncomfortable.”

Rolling his eyes, Lex crossed the room in his underwear, stepping out in the hall to snatch up the doorknob and regain some modicum of his privacy. Instead he froze on the sight of Jacquelyn Webber- paralyzed by what she had heard and seen. Before he could manage anything remotely resembling a comprehendible sentence, Jacque turned and ran down the hall for the common rooms. “I think she’s got the right idea,” Alexa said, grinning broadly at the sight of her roommate running away. “We don’t want to be late for school. I should probably go get ready now.” Paralyzed by the situation, Lex never moved as Alexa reached up and brushed his cheek with her lips. “Feel free to watch me walk away though. M’kay?”
To Be Continued... wrote:Back to School
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 60

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:54 pm

Chapter LX: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Jacque Webber rushed up the stairs, pushing her way through the students who, like the swallows to Capistrano, were returning to Eleanor Roosevelt High School. The second semester evoked no emotions in some but for a fourth of the school’s populace it meant five months until the end of their high school careers. For Jacque, the building itself simply served as a sanctuary from Alexa Hawk, who was proudly parading just behind her. “Jacquelyn!” came the excited voice of Saffron Harris, the woman’s self-proclaimed best friend. “Jacquelyn! You never called me back! How was Japan?”

Jacquelyn ignored the young woman for the time being. Japan conjured too many painful memories: her mother, Lex’s transformation, Alexa’s flirtation, her battle with Magnus—why did they ever go to Japan?

She pushed past Ben Altair, Katie Merrick’s head rested on his shoulder as they walked through the doors of ERHS to unexpected applause. Ben froze, unsure what to make of the situation. “Why are people applauding?” he asking, whispering to an equally-unnerved Katie.

“This is all for you, Benny-boy!” Chris Tribe laughed. “Congratulations on being the first guy Katie stuck with after a semester ended!”

Nothing could have restrained the force of nature that was Benjamin Altair’s ego, running rampant, painting a smile on his face. His grin was almost broader than his face would allow as he realized that he had broken her streak. He had proved the guys at Chienne’s party and Adonis wrong. He had changed her.

Blinded by his sweltering pride, Ben failed to notice the people who weren’t happy for him. Through the halls were a few students not applauding the act of Katie staying with one guy for longer than a term. Among them was Ryan Mueller—a young man from marching band who had introduced Ben to Katie in the first place. At the time Ben had realized that Ryan had long harbored a crush on the young woman. Still, it hadn’t stopped him from agreeing when the young woman had asked him out.

His hands covered in minor chemical burns, Ryan pushed open the door of the chemistry lab and passed through—doing his best to let anyone see him crying.

Ben also failed to notice Chienne Bedford tearing the goggily-eyes off a blue, stuffed octopus her boyfriend had brought back from Japan. “You’re breaking up with ME?” she thundered at the youth, spiking the stuffed toy on the cold tiles of the halls.

Though the sight of Mirth and Girth sneaking up on Jeffrey Smith was lost to Ben—no one in the hall could escape the aftermath of their prank. Taking a cooking liner, they had secured it around the rim of the toilet. The silver-gray plastic bag sagged from the weight of Girth’s waste in the moments before it was upended over the young boy’s head.

Time seemed to stand still in that fleeting moment. Fecal matter ran down over Jeff and all heads whipped around as his bellowing voice echoed through the halls. Jeff was a frequent target of mean spirited jokes—not only Mirth and Girth’s, but most of the football team as well. With the exception of Ben Altair, every one of Katie’s ex-boyfriends had laid into Jeff.

A TMH student, Jeffrey Smith was considered the only student at ERHS picked on more than geeky-heir David Meinstein. Jeff’s parents had never noticed that their son was slower than other children. They loved him and were proud of him; besides, they lived in a world were special groups were formed to attack people who were different. Why would they want to admit the truth that their son wasn’t normal? It wasn’t until his preschool teacher pointed out the obvious learning disability that he was taken to a doctor. Diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome, or Martin-Bell, Jeffrey Smith was mildly autistic and suffered hypotonia and malocclusion. As he grew older, his prognathism and macroochidism became more obvious. His dental arches were misaligned, his jaw and forehead protruded, his ears were big, his eyes sunken, his face elongated… As his later years approached, the retardation became painfully apparent for Jeffrey’s peers and he had been singled out because of it.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School lacked a strong TMH program. Of their student body, Jeffrey was the only student with any form of retardation. Most students with such special needs were bused to St. Francis’ School for Gifted Boys and Girls in Staten Island. Still, Jeffrey’s father worked in Turtle Bay, across the river from the island. It was fairly public knowledge that Jeffrey was permitted to attend class at ERHS to be closer to his father—should a special need arise.

Ben’s heart sank at the sight. Jeffrey stuttered with the letter ‘P’, and most of the student body, Katie included, found his utterance of, “P-p-p-poo!” comical. Even Chienne Bedford, enraged as she was at Magnus’ breakup, couldn’t keep herself from laughing at him.

“When are you idiots going to lay off him?” In her last semester of high school, Sarah Anderson had plans to venture off to college and return as a teacher. She wasn’t sure about focusing herself on the mentally disabled, but she had the patience and the heart for dealing with them. She had volunteered herself to help Ms. Forbes, the special needs teacher who had been hired primarily for the purpose of taking care of Jeffrey. Still, as Ms. Forbes rapidly approached the big four-oh, she was frequently seen around the gym, attempting to get widowed gym teacher—and Katie’s dad—Coach Merrick to look her way. As such, it generally fell on Sarah to act as educator, caretaker, and often defender. “You think this is funny?” she asked. She was normally meek and quiet, but when her passionate side was evoked when something precious to her was attacked. It is said the etymology of Anderson is “Son of God”; if anyone at ERHS came close to personifying the virtues attached to such a name, Sarah did. “You people are sick…”

“You want us to play nicey-nice with Corky?” Mirth said between breathes of his hyena-like laughter. “Go out with Girth and we’ll stop for one week. Scout’s honor!”

Rolling her eyes, she grabbed Jeff’s wrist and led him down the halls.

“Looks like she’s already got a guy!” Chris Tribe laughed. “Jeffy’s gunna get him some!”

“Oh, the sounds of love!” Danny Williams laughed, his arm around Sarah’s younger sister, Alicia. Even the pair dating for months wasn’t enough to get the jock to lay off the young woman.

The others from Katie’s list of ex-boyfriends all joined in as the pair disappeared around the corner. Only Alan Sours failed to join them. He had just left the counselor’s office, a morose look on his face. New Years Eve, he had come home from a party at Jack Olsen’s house to find his home burnt to the ground, his parents still inside. He was staying with his elder sister in Austoria, commuting to Roosevelt Island each day for the rest of the semester. As such, he was hardly in the mood to begin jeering at the expense of others.

One-by-one the onlookers got bored without the gossip Ben and Katie generated, the spectacle of Magnus Loder dumping Chienne Bedford or the atrocity of a prank at Jeffrey’s expense. The crowd gathered at the main doors dispersed with most heading off to their lockers or class. A few slipped by the cafeteria for a quick breakfast. It left the halls almost deserted as Lex Sway entered the building…

Almost.

“Welcome back,” Jack Olsen said. It was a frustrating thing for Lex—the love of his life and his biggest rival having the same name. Granted, there was a small difference between Jack and Jacque… but it was slightly unsettling to have to go from “I love you, Jacque” to “Shut up, Jack”. Lex made a mental note to get a geranium or a dog, name it after Jack Olsen, and abuse it. Perhaps he would water Jack Olsen the Plant when the leaves began to brown—only enough to resuscitate it and prolong its agony. Jack Olsen the Dog would be a hyperactive, inbred mix to ensure stupidity worthy of its namesake. Of course he would have to be restrained from time-to-time. Lex chuckled at the thought of being able to scream, “Jack Olsen! Get back in your cage!”

“So… are we going to be ready for the next meet against Randal Poffo High School?”

Lex shrugged. He didn’t want to get into this contest. Jack Olsen’s competitive spirit was a meager annoyance; the man turned everything into a contest between the two. “Saw Jacque earlier… she looked pretty tore up. Things okay between you two?”

“They’re fine,” Lex lied.

“Huh…”

“What?”

“Nothing… I just figured that if you two had called it quits… I might see if she wanted to go out sometime.” And suddenly Lex realized what it was Jack had found to compete over next. It wasn’t that he had found her attractive—Lex had thrown the man against a row of lockers when he overheard the braggart putting her down to the rest of the offensive line.

It wasn’t enough that he had to balance being a prefect with Magnus’ indignation and Alexa’s infatuation—Jack Olsen’s rivalry had stepped up a notch and his relationship with Jacquelyn was beginning to flounder. Suddenly it seemed that this last semester of school would be harder than any other…

“Do what you want,” Lex said angrily. “I can save you some trouble though: you’re not her type. Jacque’s not shallow. She’ll want a man who… well, for starters she finds literacy an attractive quality.”

“You know, I don’t exactly fit this stereotype you have me set in. I’m not the dumb jock, man. I’m actually fairly intelligent…”

“I doubt that.”

“I’ve noticed. Mind if I ask why?”

Lex grinned fiendishly. “Because if you had an ounce of intelligence you’d know how stupid it was of you to even imply that you’re intention is to come between Jacque and I.”

He didn’t say anything more. He merely shouldered his backpack and began the lonely walk to Missus Springborn’s Chemistry class.
To Be Continued... wrote:The Affiliation's Two Newest Members!
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 61

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:11 pm

Chapter LXI: Undercover Angel
Drew rounded the corner quickly. The bell proclaiming the start of the sixth period was still resounding in his ears. It was too much to ask now that he retain any level of punctuality—he had been late for every class so far today; why should his last hour be any different? At this point he simply prayed he could find Room 137.

As he navigated his way through the history department, he discovered that he was not the only student tardy this period: the sight of David Meinstein slamming back against the wall of lockers caused Drew to double back and peer around the corner at the scene. The sounds coming from the band room muffled what awaited him up ahead. The scrawny youth had been catapulted backwards, bounced from a thrust of Girth’s Brobdinagian belly. Girth was never alone though; Mirth was always by his side, and the young albino’s chortling resounded through Drew’s ears, breaking his concentration.

Drew’s instincts told him that he was a New Vindicator. Mister Bradshaw had trained the kids to defend themselves and others—should they attempt to assimilate with society and their status as Neo-Sapiens be discovered. Despite the level of self-defense he had received, Drew told himself he was in no place to deal with Mirth and Girth; not without his abilities at least. The trouble was that Drew’s own abilities required him to be around other Neo-Sapiens. His power was to copy the abilities of those around him. Defending a human from two humans… he was all but worthless.

Suddenly, he found himself wishing he were Lex Sway. The young man could have handled them—even without his powers. He imagined Lex just casually walking around the corner and saying something to get their attention. He’d give them a warning and then he would suggest that they just walk away. Of course, they wouldn’t—the bad guys never took the advice of heroes—and that was when Lex would make a move against them. He wouldn’t use his powers—he wouldn’t have to!—but he wouldn’t get violent either. They would attack him and he would easily dodge their blows and they would run into a wall or each other or something. Inevitably they would try again… and Lex would merely make them look even more stupid.

“God, I wish I was Lex,” Drew grumbled. “It must be so easy to be him…”

Still, no matter the odds stacked against him… Drew wasn’t about to stand by and do nothing. He had been trained to be a hero and that’s what he was. It was at his very core. It was his true identity. Closing his eyes and biting his lip… Drew took a step forward and moved around the corner…

“All right!” he barked as he opened his eyes. “Leave… him… alone?”
No one stood before Drew. The hall was empty.

“Or what?”

Drew turned around, recognizing the unfamiliar accent with which Girth spoke. There they stood: Mirth, Girth and David Meinstein. Somehow, Drew had moved around the corner and down the hall… in a single step. Drew froze, unsure what had just happened. It didn’t take him long to recover—his powers DID have that unpredictable side to them. It was estimated that out of every one-hundred people, one was a Neo-Sapien. It was fully possibly that ERHS had played host to other native Neo-Sapiens, aside from Adonis, prior to the New Vindicators infiltrating the campus. So many of their peers could have been latent SPBs and the New Vindicators would have been completely unaware. For Drew, it was only a matter of getting too close to such a person, mimicking their abilities and accidents happened.

David Meinstein’s eyes were wide with surprise. “Teleportation?” he muttered to himself. Mirth’s hand on his chest slammed him back once more, pinning him in place while Girth advanced on their newcomer.
Drew bolstered himself up against whatever came; he was determined to not look as terrified as he was. Girth’s size gave him an advantage in strength—one that Drew couldn’t hope to match. “I am waiting…” Girth said as he advanced ever-so-slowly. “Leave him alone… or what?”

Drew narrowed his eyes on the man and clenched his fists. It brought a bellowing laugh from the rotund youth—one that continued as Sarah Anderson lead Jeffrey Smith around the corner. Drew grumbled; his pride told him he couldn’t lose in front of a girl. Maybe if he could feel out with his powers—find the source of his teleport? No… he couldn’t expose his abilities in front of so many others. He had to do something though. He was tired of watching these two hurt David and Jeff. He had to do something to stop it…

As Drew’s eyes left David’s for Jeff’s… something triggered. He had been considering trying to latch onto Ben Altair’s abilities—Ben was in band and he had to be on the other side of the wall—out of the hope that Ben’s abilities could find a quick and subtle resolution to the problem. He found something else though. Electricity was drawn from the outlets nearby, arcing into Drew’s body and causing his hands to burst into flames. Teleportation AND electrical powers? Drew could think of only one person with a similar set-up: Portal, the armored warrior that Lex and he had met in November, the night of Chienne Bedford’s birthday party. Portal had said his abilities came from the armor though and after experimenting around the Aurelius, the teachers decided that Drew’s powers only worked on genetic gifts such as those bestowed upon Neo-Sapiens. It couldn’t have been Portal—someone would have noticed the hulking armor lurking around the school—unless the armor was his way of hiding himself as a Neo-Sapien.

Drew wondered if Portal could be just another student at ERHS…

“He’s an NS!?” Mirth exclaimed at the sight of flames dancing across Drew’s knuckles. He had forgotten all about David at the sight of Drew’s adoptive abilities. The pair didn’t sound frightened though—they were merely surprised by the odd turn. Mirth even pieced it together: “No!” he declared. “He’s one of the New Vindicators!”

Drew blinked. How did they know? There was the news report after their rescue of Chienne but Drew’s appearance had been altered; he had been mimicking Lex’s old amalgamation abilities at the time. There was no way that they could possibly have known…

“The boss told us not to touch them yet!”

‘Yet?’ wondered Drew. ‘The boss?’ Suddenly, it clicked: “The Affiliation…”

Girth’s eyes widened in horror as Drew uttered that name. It was the answer Drew needed; they recognized the name, thus they were involved. In a blur of motion, Girth had moved to Mirth’s side and in another blur they were gone. Drew couldn’t believe it: Mirth and Girth weren’t just Neo-Sapiens… they were working for the Affiliation.

He had to get back to the campus; he had to tell his instructors—no!—he reminded himself of Deimos’ warning: Michuru couldn’t be trusted and thus none of the faculty could be trusted…
To Be Continued... wrote:Tulpa
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC

Michuru81
Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

New Vindicators, Chapter 62

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:12 pm

Chapter LXII: How Do you Talk to an Angel
Atlanta scowled at the pair from atop the latest copy of the New England Journal of Medicine. Amongst other things, a subscription to the weekly published journal was given to her by her father as a Christmas present. It was a bitter present for the young woman, having spent the holiday break in San Francisco and spending little of it with the man who had fathered her.

To say that the man had hardly noticed her presence would have been an understatement: Christmas Eve he had taken the group of heroes who dwelled within his abode, the Illuminati, to Alcatraz Island in response to a crisis there. The general public had not been informed of the attempted break-in, or of the near break-out that the prison had almost suffered. Even amongst the students of the New Vindicators Academy, Atlanta White was one of the few who knew what had transpired. Still, it had caused the Aurelius to miss his chance of spending the holiday with his daughter. Ultimately, she had spent Christmas alone in the Astral Plane.

“I’m telling you, it was Lucas!” thundered Donna-Anne Manther as she led the way into the library, storming the solitude Atlanta had secured for herself.

“That’s impossible, Jet…” Jacque said. There was a depressive tone in her voice—more so than usual. Since she had returned from Japan, something seemed to be hurting her. Atlanta was more empathic than others; she could tell what was going on. It didn’t take a genius to notice Alexa refusing to leave Lex alone. It didn’t take much to recall how insecure Jacque had been in the past. She was terrified of losing someone she never believed she deserved to begin with. She predicted their relationship would collapse on itself and now… she had found the thing she needed to vindicate her fears and cushion herself from the worst. If she terminated things before they could implode…

Though she had diagnosed her, Atlanta felt that she didn’t know Jacque the way some of the others did and as such she didn’t feel comfortable being the one to comfort her—even if she was the only one who could see what was happening.

In the girl’s dorms, Alicia Gladstone, Cassandra Goodman, Maria Espada and Addison Truman had roomed together for four years across the hall from the room that housed Alexandra Hawk, Donna-Anne Manther and Jacquelyn Webber. Only in the last year had more girls been added to their graduating class: Mae O’Connell, Gale Weathers and Atlanta White were all so different.

Gale was proud and stuck-up; it hadn’t taken her long to make friends from outside the Academy. Granted, Gale had no intentions of relating to them her status as a Neo-Sapien but she had at least waded out into social water.

Mae had found companionship in Lawanda Murphy; they had something in common in that both their mothers were serving time in Alcatraz. Still, it wasn’t enough to create bonds between the pair. Lawanda had found a friend in Addison—up until the girl’s passing. Still, it appeared Lawanda had played some role in that; it wasn’t long after Addison’s death that Lawanda’s allegiance to the Affiliation was uncovered. Now Mae tried to attach herself to some of the girls- Cassandra, Alexa and Gale in particular. She saw them as being the pretty and popular ones of the bunch- the ones who could taxi her to the popularity she craved.

Atlanta was independent; the brood of two former superheroes, Atlanta White had grown used to neither parent having the time for her. She had learned to take care of herself; she had discovered the strength to not depend on anyone else. Perhaps it was that which made her so distant: because she didn’t need anyone, she translated that nobody needed her.

“But I saw him last night!” Donna-Anne declared. “I just rolled over and there he was…”

“There’s no such thing as ghosts, Jet!”

“There are,” Atlanta said idly, trying her best to shut them out and delve back into an article on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. “Ah once saw muh daddy beat the tar out of Farley Llewellyn, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. Ghosts exist… but… they’re not what y’all might think.” She was too deep in it now to stop; Atlanta had to abandon an afternoon of quiet reading to journey into the world she tried so hard to put behind her. “The correct word is ‘tulpa’; they’re beings made through someone’s raw force of will—not the souls of the dead. Near here, in the Village… the tulpa of Kent Allard haunts the apartment where Walter Gibson used to live.” She drew only confused looks from the pair and forced herself to remember that neither was as educated in the arcane as she had been. “Walter Gibson was the creator of the Shadow—those radio programs from the thirties? Kent Allard was the character’s real name.”

“Wait—so… a fictional character haunts an apartment in Greenwich Village?” Jacque shook her head. “Yeah… I’m sure.”

“Gibson had an amazin’ force of will,” Atlanta offered dryly. “He churned out stories at amazin’ rates—just to satisfy the public’s demand for more of the Shadow. On top of it, he was a magician and dabbled in the mystic arts… It’s no surprise he was able to manifest a tulpa into existence.”

“So… what are you saying? That Lucas willed himself into existence?”

“No… Ah’m sayin’ that Luke was a telepath: his brain was already extremely powerful as it was. It wouldn’t have been much of a stretch for him to etch a part of himself onto the Astral Plane. Think about whatch’all saw a few months ago… you watched muh daddy rip Lex and the rest of our souls out of our bodies and took us on a trip through another realm.”

“It was like you all just… fell asleep,” Jacquelyn said, beginning to catch what Atlanta was telling her. “I almost panicked but… but Lex appeared then and… and he was still asleep. He tried to say something but I couldn’t hear him.”

“S’cause Lex ain’t exactly used to bein’ on the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane is one of multiple realms touching on our own. This world—the physical plane—it’s like a nexus point between everything else. The Astral Plane is like a thin layer that rests just overtop this one. Everything in this plane exists in the Astral Plane… but everything in the Astral Plane is all ghost-like. It’s sorta like mean ol’ Mistuh Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’: nobody can see or hear you… at least, not unless you want ‘um to. It’s not surprising that Lex was able to let you see him—he loves you more’n he loves breathin’, gal. You probably woulda been able to hear him and see him better if’n he knew what he was doing.”

It all made sense to Donna-Anne now. “That’s just like with Lucas. He—he was trying to tell me something but… but I couldn’t hear what. He was all ghost-like too… fading in and out… he didn’t have any legs either.”

“Ah think Luke made himself a tulpa, just before he died. Think about everything surroundin’ his murder—the Affiliation and all, Ah mean. Luke died on account’a he found out somethin’ he wasn’t s’posed to know ‘bout. His dying thoughts were prolly somethin’ like how he had to warn us… he had to tell us what was goin’ on… He likely imprinted his soul on the Astral Plane as a tulpa and… now he’s tryin’ to warn y’all about what he found out.”

Donna-Anne sighed. “I don’t get it… first that dream about Max and then Lucas appearing like that…”

“You dreamt about Max?!” Jacque thundered. “Jet, on the plane to Tokyo, I had a dream about Okami! When we saw her again, I told Lex about my dream and he said that he had dreamed about Pete just before his team fought Tide!”

Atlanta stood up then and moved to cross the room. “Whoever this Max guy is, we need to warn everyone…”

Donna-Anne couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You really think Max is coming—that we’ll fight him too?”

Atlanta spun around, her azure eyes reflected just how sad she was to say what she knew: “H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Jordan… Baum and Barrie… they all wrote about a world of dreams. It’s not just in fiction; in oneirology there’s a postulated realm of dreams. The Astral Plane sits adjacent to the Dreamtime.”

“Wait a second!” thundered Jacquelyn. Atlanta stopped and turned around once more, her march to the doors halted each time left her more and more disgruntled. “Let’s say for a second that Lucas is the one sending us messages of who’s about to attack… how does he know what’s coming?”

“The same way we found out where Chienne was being held,” grumbled Atlanta. “Flutter around the Astral Plane enough and you can learn what almost anyone is up to!”

And it was all Jacque needed to hear to convince her. Moments before he breathed his last breath, Lucas Howell had left a psionic imprint of himself on the Astral Plane. That manifestation, the tulpa, had scoured the realm and had learned of Peter Tidus’ intention to abduct Chienne Bedford, the role Okami Reon was to play in the theft of Japan’s Imperial Regalia, and now he had discerned something about Maximilian Fitzpatrick. Having failed to merely tell them what was coming in their waking moments, he had begun to manipulate their dreams to warm them of what was to come.

“You’re sure about this, Atlanta?”

Atlanta stared blankly at her.

“I’m sorry I doubted you,” Jacque said as she turned to leave the library. “I just wanted to be sure.” Jacque didn’t understand it all, but she understood that they needed to warm someone… Of the teachers at the New Vindicators Academy, there was only one she felt they could still trust: “We need to talk to Doctor Styles.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Let the mind blowing begin...
Last edited by Michuru81 on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC

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