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Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Six New Chapters

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:19 pm

Arthur Eld wrote:Great bunch of chapters, Mich. And thanks a bunch for the stats. Lexus is really cool, he's got two neat power sets that work well together.
Thanks, Eld! I'm not too happy about him coming in 17 points over budget considering the lack of experience he has (given that Lexus is pretty much a 16-year-old). Sadly, that's been trimmed down from 150 points... For the most part, I'm hand-waving it on the grounds that it's not experience but raw power he's wielding. [shrugs] It lets me sleep at night...

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1151

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:21 pm

NEW VINDICATORS #106: Open Your Eyes

Chapter LI: Go Your Own Way
Doctor Colbenson kept a small entourage: after the Vindicators raided their base in Mechanicsville, Maryland, few of her soldiers had escaped. Now, even fewer remained with her. For the last few months, her organization had been slowly dwindling—losing more and more of their numbers with each of the Department of SPB Affairs’ incursions into Black Box’s secret strongholds.

Now that Black Box had nowhere left to go, Doctor Colbenson was left only with the handful of Neo-Sapiens she had successfully brainwashed into joining her campaign. Tinnitus marched beside her ahead of the five other Neo-Sapiens blindly obedient to the woman’s every order…

Tide was capable of transforming his entire body to water and mentally controlling water while Okami’s ability allowed her to transform into a wolf. Cursed by her ability to imprint her mind over that of anyone she touched, Stockholm marched beside Caliber, whose Neo-Sapien ability not allowed him to fly through the air under his own power but rendered him an unstoppable force so long as he continued to move. Behind them was the Iron Curtain, a Russian whose power transformed his flesh to metal.

Together, they marched through the streets of Manhattan, stopping only when they had reached the intersection famously known as Herald Square.

They stopped when they stood in the shadow of Patriot Robotics.

Doctor Noah Meinstein’s goals were as simple as they were mysterious. Like the founders of the Church of Genetic Purity, the man loathed Neo-Sapiens. Unlike Forest Bedford’s congregation, however, Doctor Meinstein did not seek the eradication of the entire race but strove to leash them. It was why he had engineered prototype Neo-Sapiens—labeled Primes—during the eighties; it was why he had worked to develop a means of inhibiting their abilities; it was why he had funneled so much money into Doctor Colbenson’s pet project—why he had financed Black Box to incarcerate any known or potential Neo-Sapien in the hopes of controlling their breeding while researching a way to keep them controlled.

Now, Doctor Colbenson hoped he would once again bestow her with the funds necessary for resuscitating her floundering organization.

The woman had the credentials needed to pass through security. She had access to the subterranean labs where the good doctor’s most insidious experiments took place. She led her remaining agents through the labyrinthine corridors and finally arrived at the chamber she sought.

“You’re late,” Patriot Robotics’ CEO said once she entered. He did not turn to face her; instead he kept his back to her, feigning interest in a map that hung near the room’s southwest corner.

“I’m sorry,” the woman intoned. “These past few nights, I’ve been cautious. I wanted to make sure that I was not being followed.”

Noah sighed and shook his head. “The Department of SPB Affairs and the Vindicators are both pressing down on you, yes, but that’s hardly any reason to cast aside alacrity, Doctor Colbenson.”

“You’re right,” she said. If it meant securing another grant from him, she would swallow her pride and refrain from pointing out that she was only late by mere minutes. “Again, I’m sorry.”

“Are you?” Noah asked. “My dear, a few years ago, I bequeathed a rather large stipend to you—enough to buy facilities across the country, a fleet of Apache helicopters, computers, weapons—hell, the damn staples in your staplers!” He rounded on her with a furious look in his eyes. “I gave you not only the plans to produce the sentries but the means to begin churning them out! I financed the production of a gateway into the Astral Plane as well as the resources necessary to build an entire prison there! I gave you everything you would need to raise and army and raze an entire species and you come to be with your proverbial hat in your hand, telling me that you failed to accomplish any of the goals you outlined in your original sales pitch!?!”

“I’m sorry, Doctor Meinstein! There’s no excuse for what-”

“You’re damned right there’s not! None! None whatsoever! Do you think it was easy for me to hand you over such an astronomical sum? Do you think I can just do whatever I want here!?! That I don’t have to go before boards and committees to obtain funding!?! You wasted what I incurred and matured well over a decade ago through my pet projects! Your failure, you stupid little girl, has bankrupted our private endeavors!”

“Not completely!” she spat. “We could still try to get a government contract for the sentries-”

“And have the government take a second look at what we’re really doing here!?! Besides, the climate is changing, Cheryl: the Vindicators’ exploits in Chicago, coupled with your supreme failure to act as swiftly, is turning the tide.” The man rolled his eyes. “And now, to add to your list of embarrassing malfunctions, Phase has defected!”

Cheryl blinked at the strange statement. “What makes you say that?” she asked.

Noah rounded on her with a look of astonishment. He seemed to find it preposterous that she had not already concluded what he had. “I accessed the video feed. Before the Vindicators made their appearance, Phase made a phone call and said ‘It’s done’ before hanging up. Sound suspicious?” While the blonde woman mulled over such a revelation, Noah continued to summarize what else he had seen: “The Vindicators appeared; Phase and Portal charged each other; Portal’s electric field took him down and the bald one confirmed his death.

“I know Portal very well, Doctor Colbenson—well enough to say that he’s not a killer. They staged the whole thing to fake Phase’s death, letting him slip off and become someone else.”

“That’s impossible!” Cheryl spat. “Phase would never go along with them! The Black Box’s programming was perfect!”

“Yes, the Black Box can effectively alter a person’s mindset, but all it takes is a single touch to undo that! Is there no chance that Phase later touched the cube!?! Can you assure me beyond a shadow of a doubt that he never once slipped into that chamber and regained his own consciousness? Dammit, Cheryl, for all we know he handed it to the New Vindicators!

“In light of Phase’s defection, I’m left to wonder how many of your failures can be attributed to him acting as a saboteur. He was the mole you sent into the camp, wasn’t he? Perhaps he conspired with the New Vindicators from the inside and helped to bring about the miraculous prison break they caused? What about that boy’s death in Elizabeth City, North Carolina? What was his name? Porter? Potter?”

“Steve Potter,” offered Cheryl.

Noah nodded. “We know the Vindicators were present at the moment of the attack—they had to have been in the city. We’ve identified one of them as Cassandra Goodman, Phase’s twin sister. If he had defected previously, isn’t it possible that he slipped her sensitive information while our camps were both in the same town?

“Isn’t it possible that these consecutive strikes on your every base are the direct result of Phase’s insubordination?”

Cheryl wasn’t sure what to say.

“In light of your second-in-command’s… mutiny… I’m left to wonder if you suffered a major lapse of judgment, Cheryl. I trust that you came here looking for a handout—looking for Uncle Noah to write you a check and put your program back on its feet?” The man shook his head. “I’m giving you and your little splinter group here one final mission—one chance to redeem yourselves.

“Find Phase and terminate him before I lose what little patience I have for you and your antics and terminate you. Are we clear?”

Doctor Cheryl Colbenson looked raised her head and fixed her benefactor with a determined gaze. “Crystal,” she said.

When Noah left the room, she turned and faced her agents. “We need to find Phase,” she told them. “Given his gifts, that’s a feat that stands next to impossible. However, there’s supposed to be a man in New York who’s rumored to have an Esper working for him that can find anyone.

“First order of business: we need to find Willoughby.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Gregaro begins the hunt for Raanan...

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1152

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:22 pm

Chapter LII: The Slow Descent into Alcoholism
Five days had passed since Raanan Lumanta’s disappearance and nobody seemed to care. There was no denying that the note found affixed to his and Gage’s door was in his handwriting; several students said they had even seen him put it up. Gage had told the faculty about Raanan’s nightly disappearances—how the youth had an apartment somewhere in the city he stayed at, rather than his room. It was a fact Razi did not confirm or deny: she agreed that it sounded like something he would do.

In the end, the faculty seemed to conclude that leaving him be was the best course of action. Raanan’s departure followed an outburst and everyone was convinced that his absence was now designed to make them all feel guilty for not giving him his way.

Gregaro Vincetsson had his doubts. He didn’t know the boy well but he liked to think he knew him well enough: though stubborn, Raanan was not exceptionally willful, nor was he that intelligent. While Gregaro understood that the school had the resources—namely Miss Wellor’s telelocation ability—to find Raanan, he doubted if Raanan knew that. If Raanan was waiting to be found, he left no clues as to how to go about tracking him: Gage had let Gregaro search their room but the search turned up nothing; the boy only used their room to house the ficus he used to transmit himself from one place to another and nothing else.

Raanan didn’t want to be found: he wanted everyone to worry. In a sense, he had succeeded: Gregaro now worried that something might have happened to him after running away.

Gregaro worried that Raanan needed help.

He began his investigation with a visit to Miss Wellor’s classroom. The mathematics teacher concentrated on Raanan and was able to give a direction and relative distance. Unless Gregaro missed his guess, she was sensing Raanan in the South Bronx. He thanked her and made his way back to his room in order to suit up…

While he always wore his trench coat and fedora, there were a few other items he couldn’t walk around the campus with—items that would be hard to explain if anyone saw what he had…

Once he was properly equipped, he made his way down to the cafeteria. On his way to his room, he had spotted his roommate headed there. A Chicago-native himself, New York was still as much a mystery to him as the twenty-first century was: if he was going to find Raanan, he knew he was going to need a guide…

Unfortunately, Will Loder was occupied with his girlfriend. Razi Lumanta—who vehemently corrected Gregaro when he referred to Raanan as her brother—simply shrugged the issue of his disappearance off. “It’s Raanan,” she said apathetically, barely even looking up from her book, “he’ll turn up…” Lucas, who had joined the Filipino girl in the library, was of a similar mindset.

Carl and Gideon had used the same excuse Will had: apparently they were ushering in the start of the weekend by heading out on a double date with Candace and Christmas. Similarly, Solon had made plans to take out a freshman he had started seeing.

Gage pointed out that his blindness would be of no help in navigating the city, despite that he routinely displayed ways he had overcome his handicap. Pandora had simply laughed in the senior’s face when he invited her to go looking for Raanan with him.

Gregaro was running out of teammates he could ask for help. Finally, he reached the bottom of the list: “Will you come with me to look for Raanan?” he asked.

“Sure!” Lloyd cheerily exclaimed.

John simply grabbed his friend by the shoulder and pushed him back. “Twenty bucks,” the sophomore said. “Each.”

“I’m broke,” Gregaro said with a shrug.

“We get an allowance,” John offered.

“I spent mine on ammunition, cheap booze and M&M’s.”

“So, you do all of your shopping at Wal-Mart, huh?” Lloyd asked.

Gregaro fixed him with a cold look. “I can’t shake the feeling that something bad happened to him. No one else is willing to go look and I don’t know the city that well. I mean, I know there’s a train under the island, right? Where does that lead? How am I supposed to get to the Bronx?”

Lloyd shrugged. “I’m as new to the city as you are, man. Michigan born and raised, right here!”

“You may not have lived in New York long, but you’ve lived in this century longer than I have. All these new fangled gadgets—phones without chords and that controller for the flat-television? Movies on those shiny discs and that enter-net everyone keeps talking about? Everything is so…” Gregaro shook his head in defeat. “It’s not only that I need a guide to the city but a guide to this time…”

John rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he grumbled, “we’ll help you pro bono.”

Lloyd couldn’t help but laugh. “You said ‘bono’.”

Gregaro raised an eyebrow at the Nephilim. “Is there something wrong with that term?”

“Well, it’s like he’s saying ‘bone’. You know, like, he’s pro bono so he’s for boning you!”

Even John stared strangely at his best-friend. “Anyway,” he muttered, “you’re trying to get to the South Bronx, right? Tough neighborhood from what I hear…”

“We’re all Neo-Sapiens who the faculty agrees can handle ourselves,” Gregaro said. “To top it off, all three of us are physically fit. Even without our powers, we’d be a match for somebody. What’s there to worry about?”

“Bangers,” John said. “No offense, but your old timey speak comes off a bit racist at times. First time you openly question why there isn’t a ‘whites only’ water fountain, you’ll probably get shot.”

Gregaro reached into his coat and pulled out an M1911 pistol that caused both boys to immediately recoil at the sight of it. “What the hell are you doing with that!?!” John thundered and Lloyd exclaimed, “I thought you were joking about the ammunition and booze!”

The senior regarded them coolly from under the brim of his fedora. “I’ve been realizing my limitations,” he said. “My powers are really only useful in a fist-fight or against a group of grounded opponents. If someone stays out of reach or in the air, for instance…”

“You’ll shoot ‘em!?!” John spat. “Are you nuts, man!?!”

Gregaro shrugged before returning the pistol to the holster he wore under his coat.

“You can’t be fuggin’ walking around the school with that, man,” John continued. “I mean, that’s just…”

“Wait, if you weren’t joking about the ammunition, does that mean you weren’t joking about the booze either?” Lloyd asked.

Gregaro rolled his eyes before reaching back into his coat. Immediately, both boys cringed; they relaxed only slightly when instead of a gun, Gregaro produced a hip flask. He offered it unceremoniously and Lloyd timidly accepted. Screwing the cap of, the Nephilim ran the lid under his nose. “What is it?” he asked.

“What gets me through the day,” Gregaro said matter-of-factly.

“How do you even get this?” John sputtered. “I know you were born in like, 1940 or whatever but there’s no way anyone looks at your ID and thinks, ‘Yeah, this kid’s sixty-nine!’”

“Raanan,” Gregaro reluctantly admitted. “He’s very resourceful.”

Like that, John had it all put together: “And that’s why you’re so gung-ho about getting him back, huh?” he asked. “You need your rum runner back…”

Gregaro sighed mournfully. “It’s been… rough assimilating into the culture,” Gregaro admitted. “Everyone I know is dead and gone—my friends and family… My fiancé… Not only am I all alone here but I don’t have the slightest clue about anything. Your music is…” He cringed. “Your shows make no sense… In my day, television told a story. Now it’s nothing but people talking to cameras and voting people out of something or another. It was so rough but then we fought those wizards or whatever a couple of weeks ago and… at the party I had a drink or two and… That was the first time since I’ve been here that I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong here. Raanan mentioned how he could help with that and he’s been supplying me with vodka ever since.”

“And since he left,” John rationalized, “you’re starting to run out…”

Gregaro nodded. “It’s more than that though. Fifty years ago, I fell into the sea and disappeared. My fiancé, my father… Neither of them bothered to find me. Hell, maybe they were both just happy I was finally out of the way. My point is, no one came looking for me and I’ll be damned if no one goes looking for Raanan! He may be an annoying little creep but he’s our annoying little creep!”

“Guess that settles it then,” Lloyd said matter-of-factly. “C’mon, guys… We gotta go find Raanan.”
To Be Continued... wrote:The worst double date in the history of double dates.

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1153

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:36 pm

Chapter LIII: But, Honestly
Under the table, Christmas nervously played with her hands. “Do you… watch TV?” she asked timidly.

“Yes,” Gideon intoned reflexively.

Christmas smiled at the prospect of having something to make conversation with. “What’s your favorite show?”

“Trading Spaces.” She waited for him to go on. He did not.

“Oh. So… do you like music?”

“Yes,” Gideon offered.

“What kind?”

“All kinds except for country: I don’t care for country music very much.”

Beside the couple were the other two dinners at their table: Carl Hamilton and Candace Strange. While Carl and Gideon were frequently found in each other’s company, Gideon had hardly left his roommate’s side since their return from Vienna. Deep down, Carl suspected that it was his near-death experience that was the catalyst: Greystone had almost killed Carl in the hero’s attempt at keeping the brainwashed boy from following his subliminal orders. Indeed, Carl’s teammates had believed him to be a goner for several moments. As Fiore told it, one moment they had been crying for him and the next he sat up, gasping for air.

In a strange sense, it had given him a new lease on life: days before they departed for Vienna, Carl had claimed the life of a youth who should have been one of his classmates. Had circumstances not caused Roland Birkmeyer to leave the New Vindicators Academy of America, he would have been a member of the senior class now. A boy his own age, with dreams and ambitions of his own, had died at Carl’s hand. Carl wanted to become a doctor—he wanted to heal people, not murder them…

‘He deserved it!’ a voice in the back of his head barked. ‘He wanted to create an army of undead!’

‘To resurrect someone who gave his life fighting evil!’ Carl thought.

‘If his aspirations were so noble, why didn’t he come forward? Try to work with the school? Instead he trained frat boys to bend reality to their whim and unleashed them to date rape co-eds, steal cars and transmute water to beer. Does that sound like someone with righteous intentions to you?’

Carl didn’t argue with the voice in his head any further; he ignored it and tried to focus on the one good thing in his life…

He was thankful that his grim mood had not sabotaged things with Candace before they started. It had only been hours after he asked her out that he had fought the Damned and the impromptu field trip to Vienna had caused him to postpone their first date: by the time he got back, he was in better spirits than when he left; she had never been forced to endure the depression he had sunk into after ending the necromancer’s life.

The young woman was so cheery and upbeat that he hoped that he never did anything to sour her mood.

When Carl’s ears detected a phone ringing under the table, he watched as Candace bent down and brought her purse up. Checking the screen, she rolled her eyes. “Laura,” she grumbled. “Hold on a second.” Setting her purse on the table, she rose up and headed for the foyer.

The side of her purse drooped down and Carl’s eyes fell on a pair of syringes resting inside. “So,” Christmas asked, still trying in vain to spark a conversation with Gideon, “did you enjoy your trip to Vienna?”

Gideon nodded. “I met my father and my sister and learned my real name.”

“Oh?” Christmas asked, brightening up as she saw a chance to get him talking. “What are they like?”

“Somewhat distant,” Gideon admitted. “My father is not yet my father but rather will become him well over a century from now in the future.”

Christmas looked to Carl for help.

“Gideon’s… from the future. His father’s alive in this time but…”

“Oh,” she said slowly. “I get it… I think.”

Candace reclaimed her seat. “Sorry about that,” she said as she slipped her phone back into her purse and her purse under the table. “So, what were we talking about?”

“My father,” Gideon said, “and how he won’t be my father for another one-hundred and twenty-eight years.”

Candace joined Christmas into fixing Carl with a befuddled look. When Carl merely shrugged, his date took matters into her own hands: “So, what’s the future like, Gideon?”

“I don’t know,” Gideon said. “I don’t remember anything about it…”

“That’s too bad,” offered Christmas. “We used to have this thing… When Candace and I left Peoria, we had this box we picked up. Whoever touched it got their memories back. It went missing months back though… I had it in my room and then…” She shrugged helplessly. “Nothing.”

The waiter appeared beside them carrying a tray with their plates. Promising to return with refills, he left them to wallow in their awkwardness. Gideon idly kneaded his mashed potatoes with his fork while Candace poked at her tilapia. Unable to stand it, Carl attempted to salvage their meal: “So, you’ve gone here a while, right?” he asked, fixing his gaze on Christmas. “Does the school take students on trips like that often? I mean, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Europe…”

“My sister just went there for her honeymoon!” Candace said, excited to have something to talk about. “Maureen said that Greece was gorgeous!”

Christmas shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind seeing London or Paris, I guess. Maybe Rome? I never really thought about it…”

“Me either,” Carl admitted as he cascaded a glob of ketchup in salt. “I mean, I never even considered that I’d get the opportunity to leave Ohio, let alone the country. I think I’d like to see the Alps. I bet that’s gotta be a sight… Holland must be really nice too…”

The waiter returned with their drinks. “How are we doing here?” he asked.

“Not good,” Carl and Christmas said together. Immediately, the pair’s eyes bulged as they realized they were under the influence of Candace’s ability to tell the truth.

“Oh?” the waiter asked, slightly taken aback by their bluntness. “What’s the matter?”

“I can’t get my date to talk to me,” Christmas said as Carl explained, “I’m worried that my girlfriend is on drugs.”

The waiter stared at them, unsure what to make of such statements. “I… see…” he said. “So, is there anything wrong with your meals?”

Carl and Christmas began to blush as they shook their heads. Candace was staring at Carl with a hurt expression on her face. “No,” she croaked.

Gideon looked to the waiter. “I have noticed that my mashed potatoes appear fairly smooth. The lack of lumps implies that they are instant mashed potatoes. While that’s not really a problem, it is slightly disappointing.”

The waiter continued to stare strangely at the quartet of teenagers seated in his section. “So, can I… go, or…?”

“Yeah,” Carl said, shaking his head at his admission. He dreaded how Candace would respond to his accusation that she was on drugs. “Yeah, I’m sorry…”

Flashing them one last strange look, their server departed. Carl looked up at Candace. He opened his mouth to say something and froze. His eyes fell back to his burger and fries. Likewise, Candace didn’t know what to say and refrained from meeting her date’s gaze. Christmas simply traced the rim of her glass with her index finger. “I’m sorry I’m not more talkative,” Gideon said. “It’s just… I know so little about who I am and where I come from that…” He shrugged. “My life really only began about two months ago; I don’t know what there is to say, you know?”

“I’m sorry,” Christmas said. “I shouldn’t have said anything-” She ignored the apology Candace meekly let out. “-I just… I have a history with emotionally-closed off guys. The first guy I ever fell for was so hurt and broken that he locked the real him behind a wall of immaturity. Then there was the guy so emotionally scarred that he can’t actually touch anyone. I just sort of figured this was strike three for me.”

Gideon frowned as Carl began to repeatedly drag a French fry through the salted ketchup. “I’m sorry,” the android said. Silence set in once more. “So, what’s your family like?”

Christmas blinked in surprise while Candace started to cut her fish. “Estranged,” she was forced to admit. “It’s just me and my parents and I haven’t seen them in about a year.”

“Oh,” Gideon said sadly. “I’m sorry. Is everything okay?”

Christmas gulped. “This time last year? I was going to school in Central Illinois… It all started after Mister Loder was framed for Senator Bedford’s assassination: Black Box raided the school and I was captured. They took me to this hospital in Peoria which was just a front for a concentration camp they’d built in another dimension.” She pulled back the sleeve of her shirt and revealed the numbers 00156 burned into her flesh. “Thing is, after they hit the school, they were able to take our records. They didn’t know what an Esper was—that we don’t get our powers from our parents like Neo-Sapiens do. Assuming I was a Neo-Sapien, they figured that I had to have gotten my powers from one or both of my parents and brought them in too… We got out thanks to the Aurelius and some of the other kids from the school and were taken to Canada with the rest of the refugees.

“You know Missus Altair? Her family owned this abandoned warehouse and offered it to Doctor Howell to shelter all of us. My parents didn’t stick around though: they took me and moved back to the same freaking city we had just escaped. I remember being scared to death: I mean, think about all of the info you have to give an employer! I was terrified that their names or Social Security numbers would have been in some kind of system—like it was only a matter of time before the red flag went up and Black Box came kicking down the door…

“I tried to convince them not to go back; I tried to get them to leave… I didn’t realize that another Esper was controlling them. It’s kind of a long story but… my parents, Candace’s parents—a lot of Espers’ parents were manipulated to move there to draw us all in close together. We ended up leaving to find the school and we left our parents behind. Now that the threat is kind of over, a lot of the kids contacted their parents—let them know they were okay. Hell, a few of them even moved up here to be near their kids. Me though?” Christmas bowed her head in shame. “I haven’t spoken to them since I left Peoria last year… I used Miss Wellor’s ability to find them—I just concentrated on them and sensed they were north-west of here—probably in Canada. They must have come to their senses, I figure. Whatever.

“I’m not a Neo-Sapien: neither of my parents has an ability. It was because of me that they were taken in the first place. They… They’d be better off without me so I…” She shook her head slowly. “I haven’t bothered to contact them and I’m not going to. It’s the best thing for them…”

Carl’s frown only deepened as he listened to Christmas’ confession. “You know what I’d give to know where my parents were? Or even who they are?” He shrugged. “I don’t even know when my actual birthday is—just the day I was abandoned. All I have is guesses…

“You know why most people figure Atlas turned out the way he did? When his powers manifested, his bigot of a father left his wife and kid. The guy accused her of having an affair on him—he did everything to separate himself from that family tree… He absolutely refused to accept that he fathered a Neo-Sapien. My best guess? Maybe my dad was like that… Maybe my mom was like Atlas’ mom: hiding her status as a Neo-Sapien and praying that her husband never found out the truth. Then, when I came along, she worried that there might be a chance that I could screw it all up. If I ever I manifested… who knows, right?”

No one knew what to say and for several more moments, the four teenagers continued to eat their meals in relative silence. Finally, Candace could no longer stand it: the curiosity won out over her and she let her knife and fork drop with a clatter onto her plate. “Did I do something to make you think that I’m on drugs?” she asked Carl, knowing the effect her powers would produce.

“When you left the table,” Carl admitted, “I saw inside your purse. I wasn’t trying to look but I saw the syringes.”

Fighting the urge to laugh at her date, Candace grinned at him. “That’s all?” she asked, apparently relieved by his explanation. She reached down for her purse and pulled one of the syringes from it. “I’m diabetic,” she admitted, offering Carl the needle, “and insulin dependent.”

Carl closed his eyes and exhaled softly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I saw them and assumed the worst. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Candace rested her elbow on the table and her forehead in her hand. “I’ve been freaking out, wondering if I was acting weird or something.”

“I’m sorry,” Carl said again.

“Don’t be,” Candace said. “I probably should have said something before. It’s…” She sighed. “I’ve always been kind of… I dunno. I mean, I’m short. I’m small. My whole life, people have treated me like a little kid. A couple of years ago, I was living in Nebraska. I was about to turn sixteen and people would treat me like I was nine or ten. My parents didn’t help things either. I mean, because of my diabetes they… I dunno. They monitored my blood sugar constantly, were strict about my diet—in a way, they were treating me like a little kid too…

“I know how immature it sounds but, not a lot of people here treat me like a little kid. That’s the nice part about being surrounded by Neo-Sapiens: no one treats you differently for being different—even if you’re short. I guess I thought that if more people knew about my diabetes, they’d start treating me the way people have my whole life.”

As Candace shyly raised a fork-full of rice pilaf to her mouth, Gideon looked at his classmates in turn. “The other night, I was watching House Hunters International and these people were looking for a house in São Paulo.” The other three diners stared at Gideon strangely; they were astonished that the android had any voice here. “I know that Brazil isn’t a part of Europe but still, it looked so beautiful there. It’s the first time I’ve ever actually wanted something, I think…”

None of the other seniors knew what to say.

“Everyone was sharing these really personal things,” Gideon said apologetically, “and I didn’t want to keep coming off so cold and… well, robotic…”

“That’s… awesome, Gideon,” Christmas said, flashing him a bright smile. “I’ll bet it’s gorgeous there.”

Gideon continued to stir his mashed potatoes with his fork. “You know what’s not awesome, though?” he asked. “Instant mashed potatoes.”

Carl couldn’t help but smile as he sensed the tension and awkwardness wash away. With hopes that nothing more than a normal evening with friends awaited him, Carl lifted the burger to his mouth and took a bite…
To Be Continued... wrote:Justice.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1153

Post by Horsenhero » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:06 pm

Justice. Somebody's got to put this guy in a bodycast I swear. He's a total buzzkill.

Nice, awkward double date. It made me laugh. I think the waiter actually got the worst of it though.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1153

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:08 pm

Horsenhero wrote:Justice. Somebody's got to put this guy in a bodycast I swear. He's a total buzzkill.
Funny you should say that...

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New Vindicators, Chapters 1154

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:00 pm

Chapter LIV: Close Your Eyes
Pandora was currently suffering from Wikipedia Syndrome: an ailment wherein a student ventured onto the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit looking for information for a paper—arguing either for or against Oswald Spengler’s theory concerning the Nature of the Pattern, in Pandora’s case—only to slowly digress from their research. A trail of hyperlink breadcrumbs followed Pandora from the German historian’s article to one on Heraclitus; from there, Pandora had ended up reading about aphorisms to reading about Pieter Bruegel the Elder… An hour after she had first started her research, she was reading a season-by-season synopsis of Dawson’s Creek. A glance to the blank notebook open beside her snapped the young woman back to reality and suddenly she was lamenting the time she had wasted.

Movement in the corner of her eye reminded her that the library was not nearly as vacant as she could have easily believed: when she first arrived to use the computers here, she had spotted Razi and Lucas sitting opposite each other in the large, plush chairs planted in the center of the chamber. It was a safe bet that in their free time, either of the pair could be found here. Tonight, however, they were not alone: Andrew Woodford feigned to be working at another of the computers but his gaze had drifted to the pair.

The foursome’s social dynamic had been shattered ever since Jude Bellow’s transfer from the New Vindicators Academy of America to the New Vindicators Academy of Asia exactly five weeks ago tonight. Though Pandora didn’t reciprocate Jude’s romantic feelings, she had considered him a friend—one of her only friends—and he had certainly been Andrew’s only friend. In a way, it made sense: after all, Jude had been the first one of them to meet Andrew; Jude had been the one to teleport into the country jail house where Andrew was being kept in protective custody.

With Jude gone, Andrew had no one to occupy his free time with. His crush on Pandora’s roommate was beginning to blossom into a full-blown obsession that the sophomore prayed didn’t reach Jude’s level of fanaticism. He was becoming more and more like a stalker and the amount of time Razi spent in Lucas’ company likely wasn’t helping things.

The night Jude had transferred from the school, Max Swift had lost consciousness, only to wake up calling himself Lucas. Doctor Howell had been forced to explain to those involved that Max suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder—what was more commonly known as Split-Personalities. According to the headmaster, Max was the main and Lucas was the alter—the only alter that they were aware of.

Lucas did not appear to be a privileged alter—that is, Lucas was not aware of any other alters or possess extensive access to the host’s memories. Oddly enough, he didn’t seem aware of his own status as an alter; from his perspective, Lucas simply experienced frequent blackouts.

Like most of her classmates, Pandora had begun reading about her classmate’s condition. She knew that alters typically came equipped with an expertise; Lucas’ seemed to be that he was an intellectual and a true gentleman. She remembered meeting Max only two months ago: after recruiting her, Miss Bedford and Christmas Clark had sojourned to Alaska to draft the smug, homeless boy who had wasted no time in poking fun at her weight and trying to hit on Christmas after learning she could make herself look like anyone she wanted.

Since Lucas had suddenly taken over, the athletic youth had suddenly become more interested in academic pursuits rather than romantic ones. Much like Razi, his nose was almost perpetually buried in a book. It was no wonder they spent so much time around each other as they shared the same love.

Still, it was unsettling how much time Lucas had spent in control. Much to Raanan’s chagrin, the Lucas alter had not surrendered control of the host to the main…

As she puzzled the enigma of Lucas’ presence out, the lights went off in the library and her monitor turned black. Suddenly, she breathed a sigh of relief: had she actually been working on her paper, she might have lost any and all progress. “Doesn’t the school had generators?” she heard Andrew ask from across the room.

“Maybe they take a little time to kick in?” Lucas asked.

“Hold on,” Pandora said. “Lemme try something…” She rose up from her chair and stretched her arms out in front of her. With the palms facing each other, Pandora brought her hands close together so that her finger tips were almost touching. The invisible globe she cradled suddenly illuminated the room when she channeled a small orb of plasma between her hands: indigo streams of energy spilled outward from the pink orb and tickled over the inside of the cage of hands. “Something Miss Bedford’s been working with me on,” she said, suddenly able to see her classmate’s faces. “It’s supposed to teach me control: I have to work to keep the energy at a certain level or it shifts and hits things. Burned right through my freaking comforter…”

In the hall they heard what sounded like someone running into the wall, followed by cursing. Lucas was the first one to move and Pandora followed him, intent to give him a light. Razi followed her roommate and Andrew followed his crush. In the hall, the sophomores set sights on one of their upperclassmen: Gage Morris was sitting on the floor, rubbing his shin. “You okay?” Lucas asked him.

The blind boy looked towards the source of the voice. “I see by sensing the flow of electrical current,” he grumbled as Lucas hurried to help him to his feet. “Suddenly, I can’t see anything but blips from whatever electrical devices everyone’s carrying—cell phones, iPods…”

“Yeah, the power went out,” Andrew offered.

“And the generators?” Gage asked.

“That’s what I said!”

Lucas hurried over to help Gage to his feet. “I’m sure the faculty is already hard at work on-” A gunshot silenced him and Pandora felt like she’d been punched in the back. Stumbling forward, Pandora slowly connected the two phenomena—what she had heard and what she felt—and realized she might have just been shot.

“Was that a gun!?!” she heard Andrew asked. She looked down at her torso and failed to find any spreading pool of blood. Only when she realized that the hit had come from behind did she notice her breath before her—an oddity that only served to deepen the confusion.

“Pandora,” Razi said with an alien hint of sympathy in her voice, “your side…”

She felt it then: the sudden burning in her side hit her, like a match had just been lit under her skin. Her concentration waned: she dropped the orb balanced between her hands and exiled her classmates to the darkness once more. She gave a cry before collapsing to her knees. Her body fell forward and hands quickly caught her. “She’s been shot,” she heard Razi tell the others.

“Why is it so damn cold?” Gage asked. “Gregaro?”

“Me,” Lucas said. There was another gunshot, followed by another, but they were oddly muffled now. “It sounded like it came from behind us so I froze the air—built a wall of ice. We need light, Gage!”

“What if I zap somebody?”

“You won’t—not if you regulate it like Pandora! Arc it between your fingers!” Like that a muted glow washed over the group: sure enough, Gage was able to slightly illuminate the hall by arcing electricity between the tips of his fingers. Pandora looked from the surprised expression on his face to the thick wall of ice Lucas had erected between them and the shooter. “If we’re being attacked, we need to get to a defensible position! Razi’s probably our heaviest hitter at the moment and the library’s big enough to let her go wild. Andrew’s touch’ll end up hurting Pandora if he gets bleach in the wound so... come help lead Gage in—watch out for his hands. Razi and I will get Pandora in…” As Andrew slipped an arm under Gage’s, Lucas moved to Pandora. He put his hands under her arms and watched as Razi scampered to the girl’s ankles.

As they followed Gage into the library, Pandora heard a small explosion. She felt the ice pelt her. “Move!” Lucas screamed to the others as her head swiveled towards their attacker.

The light Gage generated didn’t reach far from him but the smoldering debris had enough of a glow that she could make out a figure garbed all in black and clad in an armored jumpsuit; a bandoleer suspended a handful of incendiaries off of his chest while hunting knives and .45 caliber pistols were holstered at his shoulder, hip and boots. Light glinted off of the lenses of his night-vision goggles as he casually marched through a cleared obstacle and towards his quarry…

Once they were inside the library, Lucas hurriedly set Pandora down. He pushed the doors closed and moved to coat them in ice. He had to know that it wouldn’t stop him—he had already blasted through one wall—Lucas must have been trying to slow him down. “Tell me this guy’s carrying a cell phone or something, Gage!”

“Something,” Gage said. “There’s a couple of devices on him I’m reading…”

“Good,” Lucas offered. “So you can see him. You need to zap at him, Gage. If you can hit him—great—but for the most part, you can distract him for Razi to take him out.”

“What about me?” Andrew asked. “You said I can’t touch Pandora and my powers suck in a fight…”

“There’re too many unknowns,” Lucas admitted as he added another coating of ice to the doors. “Is this guy alone or are the halls crawling with crazed gunmen? Here is what we know: Pandora needs help. I can stop the bleeding but she’s going to need a doctor. Moving her to the infirmary is out of the question unless you can find Solon—he might even be able to just heal her on the spot. If you can’t find him, Mister Loder or Miss Bedford could magnetically carry her to the infirmary.”

“Find someone who can move Pandora,” Andrew said. “Got it.”

“Just be careful. Like I said, we don’t know if this guy is working alone or if the whole school is under attack-” There was another explosion and Lucas dove to cover Pandora as hunks of ice and splinters of wood showered the group.

Pandora looked over Lucas’ shoulder to see the gunman casually train a pistol towards them. “Justice will be served,” the man growled. “Your victim will be avenged!”

Suddenly, it clicked… She had heard about him: a New York City police officer who had lost his wife and son to a Neo-Sapien, only to watch as their killer was acquitted. He had gone insane and now targeted Neo-Sapiens who used their powers to kill—like how she had used her powers to kill her father in self-defense. This vigilante acted as judge, jury and executioner.

He called himself Justice.

Before Justice could pull the trigger, Razi swung a bark-covered arm into his chest and threw their assailant onto his back. “Go!” Lucas screamed to Andrew. Eager to be excused from the scene, the Mississippian wasted no time in launching himself for the exit. As he vaulted past the downed man, Gage hesitated to unleash a blast of energy. “He’s clear, Gage!” Lucas barked as Justice rolled to a kneeling position.

The room was flooded with light for a brief window of time. Pandora was reminded of a late night thunderstorm—when lightning flashed across the sky and illuminated everything for miles. Gage opened his mouth to scream and sprayed sparkling spittle from his maw. His eyes flared as a stream of electricity rushed from the ends of his outstretched arms. The gunman rolled out of the attack’s path and was on his feet before the energy abandoned them to the shadows once more.

The brief illumination from Gage’s attacks briefly showed her how Razi was fairing against him as Lucas carried her to safety. “He’s after me!” she proclaimed in Lucas’ ear, fighting to be heard over the sounds of gunfire. Lucas sat her down and put a hand on her back; another flash of lightning showed his shirtless frame beside her. Darkness devoured them once more and she felt his hands at her stomach. When she realized he was trying to take off her shirt—the shirt that clung to her by the pool of blood forming at her side—she tried to fight him. “I don’t want Razi and Gage to get hurt trying to protect me!”

“They won’t get hurt,” Lucas lied, “no stop fighting and let me take care of that wound before you bleed out!”

Pandora leaned forward in an attempt to help Lucas help her. She winced and recoiled as she felt the gunshot wound ache when she stretched. Lucas didn’t take her shirt off completely—he only peeled it up to reveal the injury. Again, the room was flooded with light and she watched as Lucas began to tear his shirt into strips. When the darkness poured over them again she felt him feeling her side for the wound. Again they had light and again it was gone: Lucas firmly pressed a wad of cloth to the wound and worked to try and bind it with what remained of his shirt. “Hold this,” he told her, guiding her hands to two strips he hadn’t been able to connect. He tore another strip from his shirt and began to tie it around the end of what had been his sleeve. Another round of gunshots made the youth flinch before tugging the makeshift bandages tight.

Pandora realized suddenly that the sudden flashes of light punctuated by the occasional gunshot were ominously absent. “Gage-” she started to say.

“I know,” Lucas said determinedly. The sounds of combat still reached their ears: Razi was still fighting. “He’s okay.”

“You don’t know that-”

“He has to be.”

They no longer heard the sounds of combat coming from the entrance of the library. They could no longer hear Razi’s frustrated groans as the gunman avoided her wild swings and they could no longer hear the sound of gunfire. All they heard now were footsteps slowly drawing closer. “I know you’re in here,” the man said. “You think you can hide… but you can’t. You thought you could hide from me here at this school, but I found you. I followed you from one side of the country to the other. No matter how far you run or how well you hide, you will never evade me. You used your powers to take a life.”

The pair turned and saw the man standing over them.

“You cannot hide from Justice.”

“What about you?” Pandora asked. “You have such a hard-on for killing killers but what about you!?! What did Gage or Razi do to deserve your so-called justice!?!”

“They’ll live,” Justice growled. “I came here with just one target in mind…”

Lucas moved to tackle him but was stopped when Pandora wrapped her arms around him. “No one’s denying here!” Pandora snapped. Suddenly she shot into the air and Justice emptied a magazine of ammo into the violet trail of energy left in her wake.

As the pair threatened to collide with the ceiling of the library, Pandora thrust an arm forward and winced as her side ached. She endured however and sent a blast of energy through the roof of the library. Relief washed over her as fresh air hit hers and Lucas’ faces.

This high up, Lucas held onto his blood-covered classmate for all it was worth. “We need to go back!” he cried.

“I won’t drop you,” Pandora assured him.

“Razi and Gage are back there-”

“He said he wouldn’t hurt them!” Pandora said.

“And you believe him?”

Pandora nodded. “I’m the one he wants! I can lure him away from the school—keep him running!”

“You’re not going to be running long if you don’t get that wound treated! I’m betting he’s the reason the power went out—probably sabotaged the generators too! Odds are he took disabled our communications too… We need to find Mister Loder and set a trap for this guy, Pandora! You think his little crusade will stop just because he catches you!?! If we use you as bait to lure him in, Mister Loder can stop him! Magnetism should beat bullets every time, right? We can stop him from ever hurting anyone ever again, but we have to think rationally…”

Pandora nodded and altered her course to return to the northern tip of Roosevelt Island. “Here’s to hoping you’re right…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Raanan's Rescuers.
Last edited by Michuru81 on Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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New Vindicators, Chapters 1155

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:04 pm

Chapter LV: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
The worst part was the cramps. Raanan Lumanta had spent the last four nights sleeping in a cage intended for large dogs. Though the Filipino boy was just small enough to climb inside, he was not small enough to sprawl out. He had two options: either he could sleep sitting up or her could sleep curled in a ball. He woke up every few hours to change positions, but the worst part was the cramps he got in his legs and feet. For several minutes he could do nothing but suffer in agonizing pain as it felt as though his limbs might turn inside out. He could not stretch them out—he could only massage the affected appendage and hope that the horrible sensation eventually departed.

The experience was not only increasing his sleep debt but his captivity was causing him to waste away… Bogart fed him once a day. The first night—just hours after Raanan had been forced to crawl into his prison—the Reptile had come back with a greasy, brown bag from a nearby burger place. While Bogart and his associate ate bacon cheeseburgers, Raanan had been offered a small bag of fries that the boy had been forced to thread through the bars of his prison one-by-one.

The next night, they ordered pizza. While the Reptile answered the door, Bogart stood beside the cage with the barrel of a gun poking through: he had promised Raanan he would pull the trigger if he made a noise to alert the delivery man of his capture. Then, Raanan ate only when the other two were full: once Bogart and the Reptile had their fill of the pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pie, the remaining slice and a half was squeezed through the bars and into Raanan’s hands.

The boy hated mushrooms—he despised the texture of them—but he downed every soggy, mushy morsel.

Another delivery boy arrived the next night, this time bringing Chinese takeout. What remained of Bogart’s orange chicken, the Reptile’s pork with garlic sauce and their combined rice was overturned and dumped through the top of Raanan’s cell where he grabbed handfuls of it and shoved into his mouth—spitting up the occasional hair or ball of lint the meal had amalgamated with after dropping onto the ratty blanket he had been given.

Last night, the Reptile had returned from a sports bar, bringing Styrofoam boxes full of spicy wings. Their captive had choked them down and pleaded with them for something to drink—anything to quench the fire in his mouth. “Looks like you already have something to drink!” Bogart had laughed, pointing to the bottle in the corner of Raanan’s cage.

On that first night, Bogart had thrown an empty water bottle into the cage with Raanan “in case you have to go.” Thinking they would be emptying it for him, Raanan had peed into the bottle. He had begun to overfill it on his first night and—unable to stop mid-stream—had spilled urine over his hands—the same, unwashed hands his food was dumped into nightly. He had screwed the cap back on and his jailers neglected to remove it from his prison. The next time he had needed to urinate, he had peed through the bars. That resulted in Bogart violently jabbing at him with the backend of a flyswatter threaded through the bars of the boy’s prison. Now, Raanan simply held it in—much like his need to defecate. That they never gave him anything to drink certainly helped his efforts but now, when his tongue felt as though it might spontaneously burst into flames, Raanan was seriously beginning to consider drinking the only liquid he had on hand: the bottle of Aquafina filled with a golden fluid…

In just four nights, Raanan had begun to drastically change his tactics. At first, he thought he could escape on his own. Try as he might, disassembling the cage was impossible so long as he was inside it. When Bogart or the Reptile found it partially collapsed atop him, his captors responded accordingly: Bogart calmly went into the kitchen and disappeared for several minutes. As Raanan began to wonder what he was doing, he began to hear the kettle whistle. Bogart would return with it in hand, steam pouring from it. He would stand over Raanan and slowly pour the boiled water down atop the sophomore until every last drop was dispensed.

Next, Raanan tried his hand at the padlock that secured the door. Unfortunately for him, it was a combination lock and Bogart’s refusal to let him out meant that he had no opportunity to see any of the numbers. He had tried a few though when he got bored: he now knew that it wasn’t 1-37-0 or 8-30-19. When he decided to try 19-22-6, the Reptile spotted him, summoned Bogart and Bogart calmly left the ramshackle house, only to return with a small bucket of white paint. It took him only seconds to render the digits unreadable and abolish any hopes Raanan had of ever figuring out the right configuration to his freedom.

When he realized he would not escape under his own power, Raanan had tried bribery. He offered them money but Bogart reasoned that by using Raanan’s ability, he would create a drug empire that would yield more than the boy could hope to pay him.

Next he tried to annoy them, hoping that they might get tired of his incessant mouth and simply let him go in order to silence him. The Reptile had turned on an old television set to give Raanan something to do. At Bogart’s insistence, it was left on PBS and the vertical hold was not corrected. All of Raanan’s complaining, begging to have the channel changed, or other attempts to drive them insane resulted only in Bogart turning the television off.

Next, Raanan tried singing rounds of The Song That Never Ends. He knew it was a gamble: with nothing to drink, he feared his throat would dry up and that he would have to surrender when it hurt to sing. Bogart responded by standing before him and kneading small, bright orange pieces of foam between his thumb and forefingers. Once he put the ear plugs in his ears, the foam expanded again. He flashed Raanan a triumphant grin before continuing with his work: using Raanan’s Neo-Sapien powers to cultivate a small garden of marijuana.

With his captors voluntarily deafening themselves, Raanan began to use what remained of his voice to scream for help. Bogart noticed and hurried into the other room. He returned with an empty spray bottle and a bottle of bleach. Raanan’s curiosity silenced him as his captor filled the bottle but his voice returned when it dawned on him that whatever purpose Bogart had for the bottle could not be to his benefit. He began to scream again and Bogart took to spraying the youth’s face with the chemical.

Locked in a cage, urinating in a bottle, eating like a dog and hoping it took the taste of bleach out of his mouth had slain whatever remained of Raanan’s foolish pride: tonight, the Filipino boy openly wept in front of his captors. He endured Bogart’s jeers at his expense and never once considered a scenario where the tables were turned—a dimension where he laughed as Bogart wept for the freedom he once held. Raanan had no hope now. He had no hope that he would ever get free—that anyone was coming for him.

He had lost track of time. The windows were drafty and thick blankets had been stapled over them to keep the biting, late-autumn wind out of the condemned house. He had only his meals—few and far between—to gauge how long he had been here. His fingers poked through the cage and idly flicked the combination lock. “Hello?” the boy prisoner raggedly called out. “Mister lizard man? I’m sorry! Please let me watch Supernova…”

He listened to the darkness’ answer.

“Awesome,” he moaned, wanting nothing more than to cry but having no more tears to spare. He found himself wishing that he had not been so dramatic in how he had gone about vacating the school. At first he had held onto hope that the others would come for him but left alone with his thoughts he realized his folly: he had engineered it so that they would not see the foul play in his disappearance.

He might as well have loaded Bogart’s gun for him.

With nothing else to do to pass the time until Bogart returned to soup on Raanan’s abilities again, the young man returned to flicking his lock on his cage and froze when he caught sight of the door carefully opening…

Bogart and the Reptile were deeper into the house, cultivating their crop. This was someone new—someone unexpected. Hope soared in Raanan at the prospect that Razi might have somehow saw through the ruse and detected his despair. He envisioned his roommates behind her; Lloyd would be exploding across the warehouse floor at staggering speeds, swinging that ethereal hammer into his enemies while Max caused Bogart’s men to burst into flame with little more effort than a murderous look took.

In Raanan’s fantasy even Andrew Woodford was with them, grabbing the occasional bad guy from behind and cupping a hand over their face to incapacitate them using the smell he exhumed.

Of course, in reality, Razi did not lead a charge of New Vindicators to his rescue. Instead, what appeared from the doorway’s crack was the barrel of a gun. At the sight of the weapon, Raanan’s blood turned cold and hope drained from him as surely as his bladder emptied.

The gun was followed by the steady hand of an African-American man—one of two who entered the room in exuberant stealth. “Cost is clear, Thuggy,” the first man announced in a hushed voice that failed to mask the high pitch he regularly enunciated with. “We did that all sneaky-sneaky, like we was Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible! Only not all crazy…”

“Trigga! Just because the man aligns himself with a religion that most find farfetched does not give us warrant to go derogatorizin’ his monkier like so! Keep in mind that those who identify themselves as worshippers of the Christian God—such as Jews, Catholics, Muslims and Christians of all protestant faiths do—are giving alms to what many see being no less farfetched than a flying sketti monster. How are we to dictate that Xenu is any less a ridiculous concept that Lucifer?”

“You mean Lucy Lawless?”

“No, I don’t mean Lucy Lawless, although she is one fine, fine white woman. I used to have myself some mighty fine erotic dreams involving her and them throwin’ rings she has, wherein I would lay down in bed and she would throw them and try to get them around my-”

“Excuse me?” asked Raanan.

Trigger Happy spun around and trained the gun on the shadow-cloaked kennel. Raanan began to cry. If he wrung out his pants at that moment, he could have filled two more bottles.

“Trigga!” Thuggy declared. “You almost proliferated the very impeachable young man we came here to rescuate!”

“Rescue!?!” asked Raanan excitedly. “You came to rescue me!?!”

“Well, yeah…” said Thuggy. “Word on the street is that this upstart who designs himself to be the new boss has found himself a Neo-Sapien capable of extraditing the growth of certain controlled substances.”

Raanan stared at the man strangely. “What?” he asked.

“Bogart found a speebling who makes pot grow quicker,” Trigger offered.

“Trigger! ‘Speebling’ is a derogatory term used to oppressidate the super-powered race! I find it to be highly Hippocratic of you to employicate such a word! I is almost ashamed to be associated with you!”

Suddenly, a sound like a thunderclap exploded in the room. Then another and another. Raanan covered his ears and shut his eyes tightly. Only when the booming ceased did he open them. His eyes widened at the sight before him. Trigger Happy was lying on the floor, staring at him with eyes glazed over; his white tank top was turning crimson; his gun was inches from his hand.

“You both talk too much,” Bogart said, standing in the threshold of the room and keeping a pistol trained on the unarmed Thuggy. “You’re also loud. But you?” He shook his head. “You try to sound intelligent but really you just sound even more idiotic than you actually are. I mean, you’re aware that you’re using the wrong words for… well, everything, right?”

Raanan watched helplessly as Thuggy charged for his best-friend’s killer. The instant Thuggy moved, Bogart pulled the trigger…
To Be Continued... wrote:
Michuru81 wrote:Huh... well, there's a couple of deaths lined up in the coming chapters... Before New Vindicators #106 is over, four characters will meet their respective ends...
One down, three to go...

Up next, Gregaro, John and Lloyd rock out with Stratocaster!

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1154 & 1155

Post by Horsenhero » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:04 pm

Ya got me. Never, never would I have guessed that Trigga would be one of the deaths mentioned. Never.

Nobody's put Justice in a bodycast, I'm still waiting.

And if Pandora dies I'm going to be a little miffed. She's one of the few of this new gang that I find interesting.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1154 & 1155

Post by flynnarrel » Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:34 am

Wow, an ignoble end for two... colorful characters.

I partly expected that, instead of rescuing the boy, they'd kill him to deny bogart his powers.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1154 & 1155

Post by Thrincold » Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:06 am

To think of all the things those two normal and very simple men had survived to die in such a simple way. Now for Thuggy and Trigga to come back as zombies and get their revenge!

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1156

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:40 pm

Chapter LVI: Cherry Pie
“Did you know that if you play a Nickelback CD backwards, you’ll hear a message from Satan? Yeah, but it you play it normal it’s worse because it’s Nickelback…”

“Listening to Nickelback doesn’t make me want to kill myself—listening to Nickelback makes me want to kill Nickelback.”

“If you’re ever online and you see a flashing image saying something like, ‘click to hear the newest Nickelback single’, don’t click it: it could be a virus; worse, it could start playing the newest Nickelback single…”

“All right, so… stop me if you’ve heard this one: Nickelback walks into a bar.” When the young hipster failed to continue, the others looked at him with blank expressions.

“I don’t get it,” Lloyd said, staring at him in wonder. “What’s the punch line?”

The young man shook his head and skewed his face into faux seriousness. “There is no punch line,” he insisted. “There’s nothing funny about ruining music.”

Lloyd shrugged. “I don’t know,” the teenager in their midst said, “I kind of like ‘If Today Was Your Last Day.” The other four simply stared at him in wonder. One of them stifled a laugh by clapping a hand over his maw; the mustache he had tattooed to the side of his index finger peeked out. “I’m not really sure why everyone gives them such a hard time. I mean, is there some President of Hipster Douchebags who decides what is cool to like and cool to hate on and his office sends out a memo and you all just do exactly what it says or… what?”

Before anyone could say anything, Lloyd’s cell phone began to ring. Flashing them the universal sign for ‘Hold On, I’ve Gotta Take This’, Lloyd pressed the device hard against his face while plugging his other ear with his free hand. “Hi, mom!” he said, taking a few steps away from the small gaggle of college-aged boys. “I’m doing okay. How about you?”

Behind him, the next band had stepped on stage. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the MC apathetically announced as he strode to the mic, “Lightsaber Lobotomy.”

“No, I’m not at a club,” Lloyd said as he covered his other ear with his hand. The music coming from the club kept him from hearing his mother too well over his cell phone. “I mean, yeah, I’m at one but it ain’t like that, ma! I’m helping some friends look for this kid who ran away from the school! We just thought we’d check out his usual hangouts…” It was the only lead that any of them had: their first week at the school, Gregaro had roped a small group of them into coming here—to sneaking into a nightclub where they ended up duking it out with the power_gamers. “Huh? He’s the same age as me… Well, he uses a fake ID to—No! Mom, no, I’m not going around sneaking into clubs and…” Glancing up, he took in the sight of Gregaro Vincentsson standing before him—a disapproving glare peeked out from under the rim of his pine green fedora. “I gotta go, mom! One of my friends is giving me the stink-eye…” Lightsaber Lobotomy’s drummer counted them off and the others began to play. “I love you, too!” he screamed into the phone, hoping she could hear him over the music. “I’ll call you tomorrow!”

Hanging up, he took in the sight of John chuckling at him. “I love you, mommy!” he exclaimed mockingly.

“So?” Lloyd asked. “I love my mom! I don’t care who knows!” He took in the sight of an attractive girl bobbing her head to the band’s energetic riffs. “Hi!” he said, tapping her on the shoulder. “My name’s Lloyd Hilton and I love my mom!”

The girl gaze the high school sophomore a look that said she not only didn’t care, but found it weird that he was sharing this with her.

Gregaro clasped a gloved hand on Lloyd’s shoulder and spun him back around to them. “Any leads on Raanan?” he asked.

“Huh!?!” Lloyd asked.

Lloyd rolled his eyes. “Damn near impossible to have a conversation with that racket they’re making up there!”

John and Lloyd followed his angry glare to the stage. There, they watched as a wiry young man garbed in a sleeveless leather jacket bearing the visage of Vic Rattlehead on its back; his torn jeans were mended with duct-taped and his leather of his boots only barely clung to their soles. His head was shaven save for a row of black spikes that resembled a rooster’s comb.

In his hands was a guitar…

With his appearance on the stage, the band slowed to a stop. A muscular man in a dark shirt jumped on the stage. As he rose up, the odd man casually turned to him, strummed a single chord and watched as the sonic pressure catapulted the man back and into the audience.

Screams erupted from the audience as—for the second time in recent history—Hell in a Handbasket came under siege by a super-powered criminal. “Allo, my lovelies,” the man said as he took the mic. As his faux British accent overpowered their cries of terror, John and Lloyd moved to make their move: “Don’t go runnin’ out on me now… I just wanted to play you all a little song I wrote…”

Green flames ignited inside of Lloyd’s skull while John focused his powers on the bar. Bottles flew from the bar—propelled by the youth’s hydrokinetic abilities—towards the guitarist. “Oh, so it’s the old ultra-violence ya want, eh?” he asked, seeing the incoming projectile. He quickly hammered out a riff that shattered the glass and sprayed the now-vacant floor with alcohol. “You don’t bloody mess with Stratocaster!” he thundered as another shock wave threw the charging Lloyd onto his back.

As John began to pick up the alcohol strewn about the floor, Gregaro reached into his coat for the gun he had procured. He had seen how futile Lloyd’s attempts to charge the man were and realized this might have been the only option open to him…

As John forged a fluid lance, Gregaro took careful aim. Stratocaster’s song was inducing vertigo—distorting his vision and making it hard to aim. Still, with the club cleared and his companions kept back by the pressure put out by the guitar, he felt it safe to make the shot.

The Chicago-native pulled the trigger and watched as the bullet sailed past Stratocaster. Even John’s attempts to spear the man were in vain as his thrown lance missed the mark. “You call that music?” the Cold Detective growled as he removed his coat. The Icelandic youth could settle this if he could get in close but the sonic pressure put out by Stratocaster’s wild strumming nixed that notion.

He needed a distraction. He needed to take off his coat.

Almost instantly a wave of cold spread out from his body, sending shivers up Stratocaster’s spine. “Bill Haley and the Comets!” the Cold Detective screamed as he charged the rocker. “Now they were musicians!”

He had cleared the distance between himself and his opponent but Stratocaster had recovered from the shock brought on by the sudden shift in temperature. He moved to leap back—to put a little distance between them—only to slip on the ice. Falling onto his back, Stratocaster’s eyes bulged as Gregaro dropped atop him.

Pinning him under his guitar with one hand, Gregaro seized his pistol by the barrel and raised it up to club the musician with a Mohawk in the face with the weapon’s butt.

One blow laid Stratocaster out cold.

“Gregaro!” Lloyd screamed, skidding on the ice as he hurried towards his teammate’s side. Without the cacophony created by Stratocaster to obscure it, the sound of police sirens was more than distinct. “We need to get out of here, man!”

“We did nothing wrong,” Gregaro griped, rising up off Stratocaster and striding towards his allies. A shivering John offered the senior back his trench coat.

“Except for being underage in a club you have to be twenty-one to get into?” Lloyd asked. “Besides, I thought you wanted to find Raanan! Gonna be hard to find him if we end up spending the night giving a statement…”

“Plus, you’re going to have to explain the gun,” John said. “But that’s probably fine, right? I mean, you may look underage but you were actually born in nineteen-digity-four, right? I’m sure you had no trouble securing the proper permits and licenses to carry that…”

Gregaro grimaced as he holstered the pistol inside his coat once more. “Well,” he grumbled, “we’d better agitate the gravel, huh?”

Lloyd stared at him dopily. “Does that mean ‘leave’?”

Gregaro nodded.

“You heard the man!” the Nephilim barked. “Time to aggregate the gavel!” He took off at a run and slipped on some of the ice formed by Gregaro’s powers—frantically flailing as he fell face-first on the frosted floor.

Gregaro rolled his eyes as he tied the belt around his coat and casually made his way for the nightclub’s backdoor…
To Be Continued... wrote:Carl, alone against a certain human armed only with an assortment of weapons and a strong desire to kill a member of the sophomore class...

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1157

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:46 pm

Chapter LVII: Save You
For their foray into Manhattan, Carl’s company had been requisitioned a vehicle for the evening. It wasn’t anything too fancy: a Jeep that remembered the Clinton administration. Still, it did its job in transporting their group from Point A to Point B. Not that there weren’t alternatives, of course… Carl and Christmas both were capable of flying and while the thought of her carrying Gideon across the skyline of New York might have been slightly emasculating, there was a part of Carl that truly wanted to have Candace cling to him tightly as they soared through the air.

Though the evening had started awkward, once the Esper’s powers had compelled them all to air everything out, he had genuinely begun to have fun. Being with her had banished all of the dark thoughts he had been brooding over to the deppest recesses to his mind: being around Candace had taken his mind off of the Roland Birkmeyer’s death at his hands, being nearly killed by Jack Rexroth in Vienna or even Raanan Lumanta’s disappearance… Somehow, being with Candace rendered everything he had been dwelling on moot. Now, with the front gates of the school in sight and the end of their first date looming, he found himself anxious for their second date…

Perhaps next time, they would go alone…

Not that there was anything wrong with turning their first date into a double date, but Gideon was so socially awkward that it was almost painful to watch them. Glancing into the rearview mirror, Carl caught sight of Christmas staring deeply at Gideon, who appeared more entertained by the scenery passing them by. Christmas was biting her bottom lip and flashing him a hopeful, hungry look. While she might have been obvious in her wants, Gideon couldn’t have been more oblivious. “Carl?” he heard Candace asked.

Carl turned to look at her. Gideon was not the only one oblivious: blinded by infatuation, Carl failed to notice the worry on her face. “Carl!” she said in a panic.

Carl followed her gaze to the road and to the odd black line running across the approach. Too late, Carl realized that the Jeep’s headlights had fallen upon a spike strip resting across their road into the school. The Jeep hit the spikes—the tires were obliterated—and the vehicle flipped.

Everything happened fast—faster than Carl could take in. When the vehicle stopped rolling, his mind went to work, slowly putting together the pieces of the puzzle to make a clearer picture. The airbags had deployed, crushing Carl and Candace into their seats. His first reaction was to check on her. He moved his arm—his right arm—there was a dull, aching pain in his left arm that left him wondering if the airbag had broken it—and reached for her. “Candace?” he asked. His vision was shaky and he felt very tired all of a sudden. Her hair was standing up straight; it took him a moment to realize that meant they were upside down. Ignoring that, he reached out and found her hand with his fingers. Walking his phalanges down to her wrist, he checked for a pulse and was ecstatic to find she yet lived.

Assured that she was still with them, Carl looked to the back seat. Gideon, he knew, would be fine, but unless Christmas had reacted quick enough, she would be vulnerable. Sure enough, the young woman hung in her seat, suspended by her seat belt. Blood ran down the side of face—the right side, hinting that she had smacked it against the wall of the Jeep in the collision.

“How are you holding up?” he asked, looking to where Gideon sat, calmly surveying the damage from where he hung.

Gideon opened his mouth to respond and suddenly a bullet struck him in the face. As his body sagged, Carl began to hyperventilate. In checking on his passengers, he hadn’t considered what was right in front of him: someone had to have placed the spike strip in the road… someone who was apparently still lurking out there in the night.

It may have been damning to use his powers right on the school’s doorstep but he wasn’t about to let the others slowly get picked off. If their attacker was a sniper, Carl knew how best to disable him: his body suddenly radiated a light akin to the surface of the sun. If he couldn’t see them, he couldn’t shoot them.

Carl began to push his way out from behind the airbag only to find his body snagged on the seatbelt. Frantically, he fumbled for the button to release the buckle. He moved to worm his way out from under the safeguard only to realize he would have to fiddle with Candace’s seatbelt as well. Reaching across the minute gap between the bucket seats, he pressed the button to release her. He had hoped that the airbag would have supported her. Instead, it drooped down against her weight and dropped her headfirst onto the canvas ceiling of the Jeep.

Not bothering with the zipper, Carl kicked out the plastic window and crawled onto the ground. Still emanating the bright light from him, he hurried to his feet and around the wreckage. There, he tore away the soft door that stood between him and the mousy young woman he was beginning to develop feelings for.

Carefully, Carl pulled her out of the car and moved to resuscitate her. In his mind, their first kiss had played out much differently… Pinching her nose and tilting her chin upward, he moved to put his mouth to hers and something struck him in the back.

His body sagged atop Candace’s still form and he felt hands close around his neck. While one hand was garbed in a glove, strangely, the other seemed thrust into cold metal. As Carl puzzled over the conflicting sensations he read, his attacker hauled him up to his feet and slammed him against the side of the Jeep.

Almost instantly, his attacker shifted: his hold was released as he threw Carl back and immediately he lunged in; a gloved hand grabbed Carl by the throat while the other pulled back a sword forged from crimson flames.

Though he was saturating his surroundings with bright light, Carl was able to see through the sheen. His eyes adjusted perfectly, no matter how much or how little light there was. Spun around, he could clearly make out his attacker: a man garbed in urban camouflage, a ballistics vest, and a small artillery strapped to him. A hood was pulled over his face with a respirator over his nose and mouth and some sort of goggles over his eyes.

Strangely, this man clutched his blazing weapon with an odd gauntlet—one set with stones of varying color. Even stranger, Carl looked down to see a photograph of one of his teammates strapped to the inside of the arm that held him. “Where is he!?!” the man thundered.

“Lloyd?” Carl asked, slightly puzzled at the realization that this maniac was after the sophomore. “What do you want with Lloyd?”

“He’s one of the damned—the result of a human woman giving herself mind, body and soul to a demon!”

Carl frantically shook his head. “You’re nuts! You ruined our first date—you shot Gideon because you think we go to school with… a half-demon!?!”

“Your friend in the backseat had an abnormal heat signature,” the attacker growled. “I assumed he might have been the Hilton boy… I was wrong.”

“You’re insane-”

“No, you are! You and everyone else at this school! You idiots are harboring the spawn of a demon—the very stock the Lord sent the Deluge to cleanse this world of!”

Carl glanced towards the school and wondered why no one was coming—they had to have noticed the brilliant light he was giving off by now… unless this man had started at the school… If he looked there for Lloyd and failed to find him, it might have explained why he was staking out the main entrance onto the grounds…

Fearing that he was alone against him, Carl took the initiative: at this close of a range, he wasn’t likely to miss… The senior threw his good arm up up, pressed his palm to the man’s clavicle and unleashed a pulse of light into him.

The attack separated them but it had unforeseen effects Carl hadn’t considered: in blowing the man away, he had put him close to Candace. “So that’s how it’s going to be, huh?” the man said as he moved to grab the unconscious girl.

“No!” Carl screamed, sending another eruption of blinding light for him. The man rolled out of the attack’s path and grabbed Candace. “Leave her alone!”

“Stand down and no harm will come to her!” the man snapped as he hauled the girl up. His gauntleted hand swung down and put the blazing sword he wielded to her throat. “You’ve seen the Hilton kid fight, right? You know how a Nephilim’s soul weapon works? This sword won’t cut her—it won’t break the flesh… but it’ll tear clean through her soul…”

Carl shook his head. “Please, she… Don’t hurt her.”

“I won’t,” the man said. “Not if you do what I say…

“My name is Absalom and I hunt Nephilim—half-demons like your friend Lloyd Hilton. If you want to save your little girlfriend, you’ll bring him to the hospital on Governors Island.” Absalom bent down and dropped the unconscious girl over his shoulder. Hefting her with ease, he half-turned before hesitating—Carl imagined he was glaring at him from behind those goggles. “You try anything funny—you think to come after me—and I kill her! You want to save her? You bring me the Hilton kid…”

He could have attacked but if he missed—if Absalom dodged him again—he’d be putting Candace in danger. He could have followed him but he saw no point: he knew where the man was going. As he stood there, Carl’s mind worked to think of a plan. Maybe it was the shock of the wreck or maybe it was a trace of that darkness Candace had helped to tamp down, but Carl could think of only one way to help his girlfriend…

Feeling powerless, Carl made no move to follow as Absalom hurried off into the night… He simply watched as they disappeared from sight and mentally prepared himself for making the exchange…
Michuru81 wrote:Pandora and Carl prepare to lead the New Vindicators against Justice and Absalom...

Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1158

Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:14 pm

Chapter LVIII: Again
Pandora opened her eyes slowly. As she released a low groan, Lucas leapt to his feet and shot in front of her view of the fluorescent lighting that dominated the infirmary. “What happened?” she asked.

“You passed out after we landed and I got you inside,” the boy said. “I ran into one of the other kids, told him to call Solon and have him ‘port to us; he patched you back up with a quick spell and brought us down here…”

“Razi!” Pandora exclaimed, suddenly remembering everything that had happened in the battle with Justice. “Gage! Are they-?”

“They’re fine,” Lucas said. “Solon got to them too: Gage is actually responsible for getting the power back on and Razi… She’s on a little mission at the moment…

“Miss Bedford asked Razi to take inventory of the students, faculty—everyone who lives and works here, really. Guess given how Justice was roaming the halls, wildly firing shooting at anything that moved, Miss Bedford wanted to make sure we didn’t have a student or a housekeeper or something bleeding out in a corner somewhere.”

Pandora grimaced at the mention of Justice. She knew how the man operated—how he only came after Neo-Sapiens who used their powers to end the lives of normal humans. Her powers had manifested in self-defense and claimed the life of her father. Now, she couldn’t help but feel responsible for bringing this nightmare upon the school…

“Personally,” Lucas said, “I would have just asked Miss Wellor to handle it. I mean, her power lets her find people and Razi’s been through a lot tonight…”

The metal blinds affixed to the door announced their guest. Pandora and Lucas looked to the door and saw Miss Bedford standing in the threshold. “Which is precisely why I sent her,” the blonde woman intoned. “After what Razi’s been through tonight, she was obviously on edge. Giving her something to focus on should calm her nerves a bit… As for Miss Wellor? She can sense a general direction and distance to whoever she’s looking for; as we were looking to make sure everyone on the school grounds had not been injured, her powers wouldn’t have been as effective as physically checking on them.”

Pandora couldn’t bring herself to look at the woman. “It was Justice,” she said. “He… He’s after me because of…” Only her eyes moved, rolling from Miss Bedford towards Lucas. She couldn’t bring herself to say it—not in front of him—but she knew Miss Bedford would understand the context. “I don’t know.”

The purple-haired girl threw her legs over the side of the hospital bed. “Where do you think you’re going?” Miss Bedford asked as Pandora rose up.

“I’m leaving the school—I should have a long time ago! It’s not safe to keep me here, Miss Bedford! The others could have been hurt tonight because that maniac’s after me!”

Miss Bedford shook her head. “Somehow, he tracked you across the country: no matter where you go, he’ll find you. Just let the adults handle this, okay? Miss Wellor’ll get a fix on his location and then Mister Loder and I’ll go pay him a visit. He’s not going to hurt anyone, Pandora—not you or any of the other students here…”

“What about the next guy? Or the guy after that? I feel like my past keeps coming back to bite me in the ass and I… I don’t think I could live with myself it someone else got sucked into my problems.” Fighting back the urge to cry, Pandora tried to push through the educator; the Nephilim didn’t step aside, nor was she easy to run over. “It’d be better for everyone if I just left…”

A commotion outside of the exam room drew their attention: they watched in wonder as Kayla Hudson, a member of the school’s medical team, hurried to meet Carl Hilton and Gideon Newton.

When Miss Bedford realized that Gideon was carrying an unconscious Christmas Clark, she hurried to join them. “What happened!?!” she exclaimed as she sprinted down the halls of the infirmary, followed by Pandora and Lucas.

“We were ambushed,” Gideon explained.

“The son of a bitch took Candace!” Carl raged.

Pandora froze in her tracks and Miss Hudson led the android past the stunned sophomores. “Justice?” she asked. “He… he took Candace?”

“He said his name was Absalom,” Carl spat. “He took her hostage; said he’ll trade her for Lloyd…” The stocky boy turned and slammed his fist into the wall beside him. “I couldn’t do crap to stop him…”

“Calm down,” Miss Bedford said. “I understand how you’re feeling right now, Carl but what Candace needs most is for you to keep a level head.” The woman paused and turned to Lucas. “You have Lloyd’s cell phone number? Try to get a hold of him: if Absalom is demanding a trade, it means he doesn’t have him. Tell him to get down here.”

“Miss Bedford?” Pandora asked timidly. “Who’s Absalom? Is he Justice’s partner or something?”

Miss Bedford sighed. “Absalom is a man who obsessively hunts Nephilim—people like Lloyd, myself and Mister Black who have the power to channel hellfire. The two don’t have a history of working together but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t start… I doubt it’s a coincidence that both of them turned up on the same night…

“You said he demanded a trade, Carl? Did he give you some way to contact him or-”

“Governor’s Island,” Carl said. “The hospital there… He told me to bring Lloyd there…”

Lucas hung up his phone and turned to the others with an apologetic expression. “Lloyd’s not at the school. Apparently, Gregaro took John and Lloyd out looking for Raanan and they fought a man with a super guitar?” He shrugged helplessly.

“Stratocaster?” Miss Bedford asked. “How did he get out of Tartarus?” She sadly shook her head. “This night gets better and better… Did he say where they were?”

Solon suddenly appeared beside the elevators with Will and Razi in his company. “I was paged that there’s been another injury?” he asked. At the sight of Carl’s lame arm, he took the initiative to quickly cast a healing spell to mend the broken bone. When he was finished, Miss Bedford ordered Lucas to lead the magus to where Christmas had been carried.

“How’s your mission going, Razi?” Miss Bedford asked, turning to the diminutive girl.

Razi frowned. “Not good,” she intoned. “A few of the seniors were missing: Christmas Clark, Gregaro Vincentsson…”

“Christmas was with Carl’s group,” Miss Bedford explained, “along with Gideon and Candace. Gregaro is off campus with John Titus and Lloyd Hilton.”

Razi nodded. “Then the only ones unaccounted for as Mister Loder, Andrew Woodford and my brother.”

“Andrew?” Pandora asked. “Andrew!?!” The young woman turned to Miss Bedford with a scowl. “Andrew was with us when Justice attacked. I’d been shot and while Lucas was trying to stop the bleeding, Razi and Gage worked to hold the madman off while Andrew ran for help.”

Miss Bedford sighed mournfully. “I’ll get Miss Wellor to locate him—see if he isn’t still on campus…”

Pandora shook her head. “Justice might have taken him,” she said. “This guy who jumped Carl kidnapped Candace, right? Said he’d trade her for his target… They’re working together—they have to be! It’s only a matter of time before Justice contacts us and offers to trade Andrew’s life for mine…” The sophomore turned to Carl with a determined look. “You said Absalom told you where to bring Lloyd?”

“No!” Miss Bedford hissed. “I know what you’re thinking, Pandora! You’re not going anywhere near that place! I’ll contact the Vindicators; we’ll let them handle this…”

“And if he has Andrew!?!” Pandora snapped. “Look, no offense, but the fact that Justice is still on the loose says a lot about the Vindicators’ track record for dealing with him. The guy may not have powers but he tends to plan ahead and there’s no way he’s going to end up in a firefight with our biggest guns! If he sees them, how do we know he won’t just kill Andrew and make a quick escape?

“If he gets away, he’s going to come after me again; he’s going to hurt the other students here again. Solon might not be able to get to us all in time the next time, Miss Bedford! I have to go! I have to face him… There’s only two ways this ends: either I kill him or he kills me. It’s the only way to make sure everyone here stays safe…”

Miss Bedford opened her mouth to object but Carl cut her off. “She’s not going alone,” he said. “Absalom took Candace—I can’t just sit by and do nothing! Gideon’s good to go and we can call Gregaro to have his group meet us there! That’s six…”

“Seven,” corrected Will.

“Eight,” Razi said.

“Eleven.” They turned to see Lucas leading Solon, Gideon and Christmas out of the infirmary. “Twelve if you count Gage.”

Miss Bedford sighed dejectedly. “Thirteen,” she said, “but we go in with a plan…”
To Be Continued... wrote:A plan is put into motion...

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1159

Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:16 pm

Chapter LIX: Breakeven
Gregaro watched as Lloyd continued to scan the shadows for signs of the wild turkey. Not long after arriving in Battery Park, the trio of New Vindicators had encountered Zelda, the park’s most renowned resident. The Nephilim, it turned out, was uncomfortable around birds—a trait that John seemed intent to exploit.

“Zelda’s behind you,” John would mutter. He couldn’t help but smirk at the sight of watching his best-friend jump and scream.

It was only after he scampered for safety that he realized he’d been had. “It’s not funny,” Lloyd said angrily.

“Maybe not to you…”

“Everyone’s afraid of something.”

John shook his head. “Not me.”

“Not me,” Gregaro added darkly.

“Spiders? Snakes? Enclosed spaces?”

John continued to shake his head as Lloyd counted off some of the most common phobias. “Sorry, man… I’m just not afraid of anything.”

Miss Bedford suddenly appeared inside the shadows, accompanied with a small group of the trio’s classmates. “About damn time,” Gregaro growled. “What? Did you have to fix your hair? Put on your face?”

The educator ignored his chauvinism. “Here’s what we’re dealing with: approximately two hours ago, the school came under attack by two men. Justice is a former cop whose wife and son were killed by a Neo-Sapien who was acquitted of the charges. He’s since decided that there is no justice other than an eye-for-an-eye, so he spends his free time hunting down super-powered people who he feels are responsible for killing normal humans. Absalom, on the other hand, is a nut case who thinks he’s doing God’s will by hunting down Nephilim like Lloyd and me—anyone who’s eyes burn when they use their powers.

“Justice is after Pandora and Absalom is after Lloyd. Both took hostages: Andrew Woodford and Candace Strange are being kept in the hospital on Governor’s Island. Our objective is twofold: rescue our friends and bring these two men to justice.

“Lloyd, given that this guy wants to kill you, I’d like Solon to ‘port you back to the school-”

“No way!” Lloyd exclaimed. “If I turned tail now, John wouldn’t let me hear the end of it! Besides, this Justice guy is after Pandora, right?” In an attempt to look cooler, the Nephilim flexed. “If she goes, I go!”

“Hold up,” Gregaro said. “You said that Justice only targets Neo-Sapiens who have killed, right? Anyone curious as to what he’s doing coming after Pandora?”

The others all looked to Pandora for the answers. It was obvious to the youth in the trench coat that none of his classmates had even thought to consider that until now. From under the brim of his fedora, his eyes locked in on her clenched, trembling fists. “Did you kill someone, Pandora?” Gregaro asked, already knowing the answer.

“It’s not important,” Miss Bedford said.

“It is if we’ve been spending all this time with a killer,” John said.

“Do you really think that the school would continue to shelter her if they thought she was a danger to any of you?” Miss Bedford asked. Suddenly, the woman took Gregaro’s breath away; for a brief moment, he could have sworn she looked just like Virginia…

“If there are no other problems… Solon?” She handed him the photographs of their destination: in order to teleport to a location, he needed to be able to visualize it—Gregaro suspected that was why they had been told to meet here, by the statue of John Ericsson.

An incantation later and the group was displaced for a fraction of a second. Gregaro pushed thoughts of his past love from his mind and tried to focus on the here and now. If the magus did his job, they had to be on Governor’s Island—the site Absalom had told Carl to bring Lloyd to and the place where Miss Wellor had sensed Andrew was.

In Gregaro’s time, the island had simply been a post for the army. According to John, it had since become a park and the host of several national monuments. This late into the year, Governor’s Island was closed to the public, making it the perfect place for the two men to operate out of…

“We’re going to divide into five groups,” Miss Bedford said. “Carl, Gideon and Christmas will be one group. Christmas can scan for Candace and Carl’s powers fuel Gideon’s. Since your group will be specifically looking for Candace, the odds of you running into Absalom are pretty high. If that happens, Christmas should use her telekinesis to keep him at bay and let Carl and Gideon attack him from a safe distance.

“One you’ve found Candace, radio Solon for a quick transport. Once he has her back to the school, I want the rest of you to rendezvous with the others.

“Will will take Gage and Lloyd with him. It’s possible that Absalom will abandon Candace to take out Lloyd. What intel we have on this guy suggests that he’s an expert marksman first and foremost. He’ll favor a sneak attack before he’ll risk fighting you up close and personal. If he’s carrying anything electronic on him, Gage should be able to warn you before he can get the drop on you and Will should be able to make his attempts to snipe at you futile. At that point, his options will be to engage you in melee combat or flee. If he chooses to fight, you three should be able to keep him on the ropes until back up arrives.

“Pandora, you’re taking Razi and Lucas with you.”

“No way,” Gregaro said, thrusting an accusing finger towards Lucas. “Not only did he not even pass your little test to make it into our club, isn’t he a lunatic? I’ll go with her instead-”

“No,” Miss Bedford said. “I need you and John for something more important…

“If we focus on nullifying their preferred methods of fighting, we run the risk of them fleeing the island. As Pandora pointed out back at the school, if we don’t do something about them, they’re going to keep coming back for us. There are two ways off of this island: by sea and by air. They have to have a vehicle somewhere… While I scout from the sky, looking for a helicopter or a plane or something, you and John will be scouring the shore for a boat or a raft. Our job is to disable their escape plans.”

“Why us?” Gregaro asked. “I’m a better fighter than Lucas—hell, does he even know how to fight!?!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Miss Bedford said. “Once we strip them of their mode of transportation, they might make a swim for it. John controls water and you… Well, we all remember what happened back on Ducktron.”

“Unfortunately,” Carl muttered.

“Point is, you two are the most effective at stopping them in the sea. Yes, Lucas’ powers grant him some control over the cold but your range is more devastating, Gregaro.

“Please, I need you to do this.”

Gregaro rolled his eyes and thrust his hands in his pockets. Miss Bedford alone recognized it as a sign of defeat.

“Like I already said, Solon: your roll is going to be in shutting our people back and forth. Once someone radios in Andrew or Candace’s locations, they’re going to take a picture with their cell phone and send it to you. That’ll be enough for you to get an idea of where you’re going, right?”

Solon nodded.

“Good. Okay, everyone, we all know our parts… Let’s go!”
To Be Continued... wrote:Carl, Gideon and Christmas find Candace...