NEW VINDICATORS (Books I - XIII)

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
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Horsenhero
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1158 & 1159

Post by Horsenhero » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:26 am

First allow me to say, I really hope Absalom and Justice get seriously mangled. Not necessarily killed, but bodycasts would be okay.

Second, it's nice to see that the pbp group isn't the only one that bickers like a bunch of old hens.

Third...and I hadn't ever thought this would happen...I kinda feel sorry for Ranaan. Getting slain is one thing, but torture? Ugh.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1158 & 1159

Post by SandersonCooper » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:52 am

If I'm not mistaken, I came into the campaign session or two after this one. Got to play Torrent before Disguisedasabum!Stephen entered the fray.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1160

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:09 pm

Chapter LX: Superman (It’s Not Easy)
Prompt led the charge. She had been anxious ever since regaining consciousness. As Solar Flare understood it, Sentry had filled her in on everything he had told him. Whether this newly awakened ferocity was born from her agitation at having been ambushed or whether she was kicking herself for being unconscious while Absalom took one of her friends hostage, Solar Flare didn’t know. Truthfully, he didn’t care. At the moment, only one thing mattered: rescuing Candace.

‘He’s going to pay,’ the toe-headed boy thought. ‘As soon as I find him, I’m going to make him pay…’

For weeks, Solar Flare had been suppressing that other side of him—the darker thoughts he sometimes had. Now though, occupied with urgency, he had no energy to spare in quieting that voice in the back of his head. He didn’t even know if he wanted to stifle it… On some level, he found himself agreeing with it. Somewhere, he knew that such thoughts should have scared him. He knew that he should have been terrified of the encroaching darkness but right now he could hardly bring himself to care…

“We’re getting closer,” Prompt said as they continued to dash up the stairs. “I can feel her near…” She reached the landing and moved to turn and vault up the next flight. She froze suddenly and Solar Flare plowed into her.

His girth and momentum knocked her down. While Sentry calmly paused behind them, the young hero bent down to help their guide up. “Sorry,” they both muttered. “She’s on this floor,” Prompt said.

Solar Flare grabbed the metal handle of the door and yanked it back as hard as he could. “Good,” he said darkly, dashing ahead of them. As the door began to swing shut, he paused, realizing that he had no inkling where he was going. He turned and looked back and waited as patiently as he could manage for Prompt to step through.

“This way.”

The young man relegated himself to simply following the dark-headed girl through the former prison. He was growing more and more agitated with each footstep. Despite what Absalom had told him, Prompt led them away from the hospital the instant she sensed out Candace. Obviously, the Nephilim hunter had not counted on them being able to locate his hostages in such a manner and had planned some sort of trap at the smaller building—likely he was there now, expecting Lloyd to be handed to him on a platter.

‘As soon as she’s safe,’ Solar Flare promised himself, ‘it’s straight to the hospital! See how good of a sharpshooter he is without trigger fingers…’

“Found a ski boat.” Solar Flare jumped at first and then realized it was simply Torrent’s voice cutting across the comm. link in his ear. “What should I do? Set it adrift? Sink it? Keep it?” Solar Flare tried to ignore the banter and wordlessly beckoned Prompt to do the same: he waved her to continue on. “What do you want me to do, boss lady?”

“Odds are on it belonging to someone else…” Miss Bedford mused. “If you think beaching it inland will stop them from using it, do it. Otherwise, set it adrift…”

Prompt rounded a corner and opened a door. There she was: Candace Strange, sitting in a cell, handcuffed to the bars. “Christmas!?!” Solar Flare’s heart sank as his name wasn’t the first the mousy young woman excitedly called out. “Carl!”

As Solar Flare ran to his date’s side, Prompt’s hand went to the small device on her ear. Touching the button opened the communication channel. “We’ve got her,” she said as she took out her phone—ready to send a picture to aid Solon in accurately transporting himself.

Solar Flare’s hand gently fell around Candace’s restrained limb and tugged futilely at the restraints. “Gideon,” he said, using his roommate’s real name instead of his codename, “think you’re strong enough to break…” His voice trailed off when the handcuffs released. Stunned, he looked to Candace for an explanation; she looked just as surprised though…

“How did you do that?” she asked, rubbing her wrist.

Her powers forced him to answer honestly: “I have no idea,” he said. “Maybe it wasn’t locked?”

“I’ve been trying to-” She cut off as the Theurgist appeared in the room.

“Solon’s going to take you back to the school, Candace,” Solar Flare told her.

“Just me?” Candace asked as Solar Flare helped her to her feet. “What about the rest of you?”

“The guy who took you has a partner—someone who took one of the younger students. We have to make sure he’s safe…” It was the truth, but it wasn’t the whole truth: Solar Flare didn’t think that she would react well to him voicing what he was thinking about doing…

“You’ll need to get going,” the Theurgist said. “If you’re within the area of my spell, you’ll be teleported back to the school with us.”

‘Kiss her!’

Solar Flare dropped both hands to her waist and pulled her to him so that they were standing chest-to-chest. Her eyes bulged in shock before he rushed his lips to hers. As they kissed, his hands swept up to her back, helping him to hold her as he dipped her back.

The Theurgist smiled at them. Sentry watched impassively. Prompt looked from them to Sentry, giving the oblivious android a yearning look.

As Solar Flare reluctantly drew back, Candace drank in the air once more. On her feet once more, Solar Flare let go of her and backed away slowly, savoring the image of her ever-growing grin. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he said, backing out of the cell.

The Theurgist began to cast his spell. An incantation later, the pair vanished and Solar Flare turned towards his teammates. “All right,” he growled, “let’s go find the son of a bitch that took her…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Coulomb, Dipole and Maalik versus Absalom.
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1161

Post by Michuru81 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:09 pm

Chapter LXI: Open Your Eyes
“I don’t like this,” Coulomb muttered as he stumbled through the darkness. Outside, there were no currents racing along electrical wire, mapping out his surroundings. The blind boy was in a void, guided only by the devices his teammates wore: Dipole and Maalik both were wearing a communicator—the thin sliver of metal that both around and in his right ear. Further, Maalik was garbed in his civilian clothes and was carrying his cell phone in the pocket of his jeans. Though he could make them out, he had trouble reading the terrain. He stumbled as they walked—nearly tripping every few steps or so when his foot found a dip in the ground or caught on some uneven ground.

The independence he normally displayed seemed to give birth to a stigma in his cohorts: neither Dipole or Maalik thought to help guide him—they were too used to him navigating the halls of the school with relative ease.

Still, it wasn’t his handicap that he found so upsetting but the notion that they were effectively walking right into a trap. According to what Solar Flare, Absalom had told him to bring Lloyd Hilton to the hospital on Governor’s Island and trade the Nephilim’s life for Candace’s. Now, with the steadfast tenacity of an advancing virus, the trio was making their way towards the hospital, with Absalom’s target in tow.

“We’re walking into a trap…”

“We have the opportunity to take this guy down,” Dipole said. “If we don’t take it, he’ll show up again and probably get the drop on us…”

“No, I get that but… Lloyd shouldn’t be here!”

“I can’t go letting you guys fight my battles for me, can I?” the happy-go-lucky half-demon asked. “‘Sides, you heard Miss Bedford, Gage: this guy’s a sniper and Willy’ll sense the gun before he can even pull the trigger! We’ve got this!”

“How is he supposed to differentiate the metal in a gun from the any metal in the building?” Coulomb asked. “I’m sorry, Lloyd but this is suicide…”

“I’m not looking for the gun anyway,” Will said. “I mean, he’s going to see us before we see him, right? Rather than try to feel out his weapon, I’m working to actively repel any metal away from us. As soon as he pulls the trigger, his bullet will hit my screen and lose its momentum.” Right on cue, Dipole froze. The only indication that Coulomb had of his teammate’s hesitation was in sensing the communicator had ceased bobbing up and down with each step the junior took. “He’s seen us.”

“Dude, that is so awesome! Look at that, Gage! Isn’t that freaking amazing!?!”

Coulomb sighed mournfully at Maalik’s enthusiasm. “I can’t,” he said plainly. He pointed to his eyes in the off chance the sophomore was looking his way. “I’m blind; remember?”

“Oh, yeah! Sorry about that… Will totally just made a bullet slow down and land in his hand! Dude! There’s another one!”

“That opening salvo just gave away his location,” Dipole intoned.

“Good,” Maalik laughed, “now let’s return the favor!” Unless Coulomb missed his guess, emerald flames had just erupted from Maalik’s sockets. No doubt his fingers had just closed around a spectral hammer. Before Coulomb could comment and point out how Absalom obviously knew their location, he felt the boy’s communicator rocket away at staggering speeds.

Dipole chuckled lowly and Coulomb felt his communicator begin to rise from the ground slowly—shakily… It began to circle around the blind boy and then he felt hands slide under his arms. A moment later, his feet left the ground and the wind began to wash over his face as he flew towards what must have been the hospital—Absalom’s outpost…

Soon, the sound of Maalik’s voice hit Coulomb’s ears. “You wanted me, you got me!” he thundered. “Come and get some… unless you’re too scared!”

Coulomb sighed and shook his head. “It’s probably best to not bait the man who wants to murder you, Lloyd…” he said as his feet gently fell on the ground once again. “In any case, I can sense him right above us-”

A sound like a roaring furnace cut the teen off—Maalik using his powers to blast straight up, he assumed. The intangible energy failed to sunder the ceiling; the blast failed to precede the sound of debris spilling atop them. “Did I get him?” Maalik asked.

“He’s shifted position… Still moving…”

“And probably still covered in metal,” Dipole said. He brushed Coulomb with his shoulder as he rushed past him. Judging by the sounds of their footfalls, the blind hero guessed that Maalik had followed.

He scanned the room and watched as the electronic signals given off by their communicators and phones traveled further and further from him. With a heavy sigh, Coulomb touched the button on his headpiece, opening the channel to the others. “Miss Bedford?” he asked. “This is Coulomb. We’ve found Absalom at the old hospital.”

“I’m on my way,” came the woman’s response. “Be careful.”

Steadily, Coulomb began to thread himself through the abandoned-hospital-turned-military-headquarters.

It was a few moments before his ears detected the sounds of fighting. Urgency propelled him: after only a few incidents of stumbling, Coulomb found them. Sure enough, the figure he guessed was Absalom was in the room with them.

The electronic signals he read suggested that the man was weaving around their attacks and they his. Maalik had engaged himself in close combat—giving birth to the fear that Coulomb could accidentally hit him if he tried to zap the sniper. All he could do was watch their bodies move and hear them grunt from exertion.

Suddenly, something happened: he heard crackling flames like those Lloyd had previously unleashed and then one of the signals—Dipole, given he wore only one device that Coulomb could read—dropped to the ground.
“Lloyd!” Coulomb called. “What the hell just happened!?!”

“I don’t know!” Maalik exclaimed. “He’s got powers like me! His sword’s just like mine, except it’s made of blue fire! I think it’s got something to do with that funky gauntlet he’s wearing…”

“How… astute…” Absalom’s breathing was labored—he was almost panting. “I’ll be sure… to carve it… in your tomb… stone…”

“What’s happening, Lloyd?”

Maalik laughed. “Guy’s too dumb to know when he’s beat!” the Nephilim laughed. “He’s got his own bullets in his belly and he—GAGE!”

The twin signals Coulomb had come to associate with Maalik charged for him. The two collided and the half-demon tackled the blind teen to the ground. There was another rush of flames overhead and confusion all around. “You’ve gotta get out of here,” Lloyd said. “Grab Will and get out or he’s going to use-”

There was a loud pop and Maalik crumbled atop Coulomb. “Lloyd?” he asked, groaning under the sophomore’s weight. “Lloyd, man, get off-”

He tried to push Maalik off of him—he put his hands on Maalik’s face and his hand found something wet and sticky. “Lloyd?”

Silence answered him.

“LLOYD!?!”

Fearing the worst, Coulomb pushed his teammate off of him. He felt Maalik slide from him and crumble to the floor beside him. Coulomb felt down to Maalik’s face. Kneeling in blood, Coulomb bent down and put an ear to the sophomore’s chest. “Say something, Lloyd!”

“He can’t.”

Coulomb froze. It was Absalom’s voice. The blind boy and the Nephilim hunter were alone together. “What did you do?”

“I shot him,” Absalom said. “Back of… the head. He… put up a fight… Knew I’d need… to settle it… with a bullet… Your friend… He took a… spare clip… Fired the bullets…”

Coulomb slowly cobbled together a mental image of what must have happened. From what Maalik and Absalom had said, Dipole must have used his powers to pilfer a spare magazine from the hunter’s person and magnetically propel the bullets into his body. That accounted for Absalom’s labored breathing…

“Gauntlet gives me… their powers… Blast of… hellfire… took the other out…” That must have been the rush of flames he heard and explained why Dipole had fallen. “Let me… use a gun… Just needed… to put some distance…”

Coulomb knew what had happened: Absalom had realized that Maalik’s other teammate was blind and had taken aim with his gauntlet. Maalik had seen Dipole incapacitated by such a blast and knew Coulomb wouldn’t see it coming. He had moved to tackle Coulomb out of the way—providing Absalom with the opportunity he needed to execute the Nephilim…

Coulomb rose up and wobbled slightly. His legs felt like jelly, but still, he pushed on. Guided towards the signals he registered as Absalom. He heard the rustle of fabric and the click of a pistol’s hammer being drawn back. “Don’t come any-”

“You shouldn’t aim your gun at me. Thing’s metal, right? Must make for a damn decent lightning rod.” Coulomb let the lightning fly. He had the signals’ fluctuations and Absalom’s cries to tell him it had struck true.

He savored every agonized sound.

Coulomb’s ears registered Absalom slumping to the floor. He heard the metal gauntlet knock against the wood as he tried to catch himself. He heard him panting. He heard leather creaking as the hunter clutched his chest with his gloved hand.

Coulomb knelt beside Maalik’s murderer. “Dipole shot you with your own bullets, huh?” He felt down and felt the stiff layer worn over Absalom’s torso. “Dipole’s powers let him fire bullets with more force than a gun can… A ballistic vest is probably worthless against him: he’d just drive it through… Will’s not a killer though, so I doubt your wounds are severe… but you never know. You could need medical attention and we’re out here in the middle of the Upper Bay…

“Hold on,” Coulomb said apathetically, “I’ll save you.”

“What the hell are you-” The gunman screamed as the blind youth placed his hands over the man’s chest and released an electric current into his body.

“Clear.”

“What do you think-” Again, his demands were cut short as another current was released into his body.

“Clear,” the New Vindicator said as the man lost consciousness. “Clear.” He released another charge, followed by another and another. “Clear. Clear. Clear.”

By the time Miss Bedford arrived, Absalom’s heart had long since stopped but Coulomb had not ceased to defibrillate the Nephilim hunter. “Clear,” he growled. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he thought on Lloyd’s last action: diving to push him out of harm’s way.

“Clear…”
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...
Trigger, Lloyd and Absalom... Three down, one to go...

Up next: Phaeton offers Justice her life...
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by SandersonCooper » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:23 pm

Poor Lloyd. He picked a bad time to go see Wolverine.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by Horsenhero » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:10 pm

Well Absalom got what he deserved. I find it funny, in a more unfortunate than humorous way, that Gage was the one who ended up doing him in. Poor Gage had been such a beacon of humanity among the lunatics (read: Maalik, Ranaan & Torrent), it's almost a pity to see him driven to the point of killing someone...but Absalom DID deserve it.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by McGuffin » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:03 am

The latest chapter being told from Gage's POV was a cool idea and the ending was really chilling. I feel sorry for Gage for having to live with what he did, even if Absalom deserved it. None the less, Absalom makes four so the bodycount mentioned earlier is full up.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by Michuru81 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:51 am

Horsenhero wrote:Well Absalom got what he deserved. I find it funny, in a more unfortunate than humorous way, that Gage was the one who ended up doing him in. Poor Gage had been such a beacon of humanity among the lunatics (read: Maalik, Ranaan & Torrent), it's almost a pity to see him driven to the point of killing someone...but Absalom DID deserve it.
In the weeks to come, the story will show that there's a lot more going on under the surface with Gage... There were other factors at work behind killing Absalom--not just avenging Lloyd. Still, Lloyd's death will act as a catalyst for a lot of characters who've pretty much been in the background stepping forward: Will, John, Gregaro and Chienne will all be very effected by what's happened here...
McGuffin wrote:The latest chapter being told from Gage's POV was a cool idea and the ending was really chilling. I feel sorry for Gage for having to live with what he did, even if Absalom deserved it. None the less, Absalom makes four so the bodycount mentioned earlier is full up.
Thank you, McGuffin: Gage's POV was a pain to write--there were too many times where I'd realize I was depicting things he'd see... I considered trying it from Will's perspective (knocked unconscious only to wake up to two dead bodies and no clue how it happened) but thought this might be a better way of getting into Gage's head... Like I said, this last chapter will sort of begin to delve into Gage, who has a much bigger role in the story than has thus far been established.

In any case, the body count is actually at three. I never said Thuggy was out. We saw Bogart shoot and kill Trigger and the chapter ended with Thuggy charging the gunman as the trigger was pulled...
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1162

Post by Michuru81 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:15 pm

Chapter LXII: The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine
When she put on the uniform, Pandora Filash’s teammates called her Phaeton. Razi Lumanta was Kudzu. As he was a member of the intermediate class, Lucas had never been designated with a codename. Kudzu claimed he didn’t need one, pointing out that Lucas was technically an alter-ego whose real name was Maxwell Swift. Phaeton dismissed such a notion though and had dubbed the boy Chill. It summed up his abilities and described his personality: Lucas was Max’s calm, composed personality and the side of him the young woman preferred.

Together, the trio made their way through the gymnasium carved into the bowels of Liggett Hall. Once upon a time, the building served as a barracks. Legend had it that the Army dreaded their island’s conversion into an airport and situated the building to thwart the city’s attempts to erect a runway. It was one of the biggest buildings on the island and, according to Prompt, where Andrew was being kept…

Ten minutes into their search, and they had nothing. “He wants me,” Phaeton reasoned aloud. “Maybe if I just come out in the open—call him out instead of skulking around…”

“And get yourself killed?” Chill asked as they reached the top of the stairs. “No, we stick to the plan: find Andrew, call in Solon-”

Kudzu opened the door enough to peer through and signaled to her teammates that she had found him. They were operating under the assumption that Justice was nearby—that Andrew was the bait in a trap.

The Filipino girl didn’t rush in but waved for her teammates to join her. Soon, all three of them were crouching outside of the door. Phaeton attempted to use nonverbal commands and suggested she go in first; Kudzu frantically shook her head and pointed to herself—a proposition that only won her a agitated look from the field leader Miss Bedford had promoted. Still, Chill put a hand on the purple-haired girl’s arm in an attempt to still her acerbity.

Before they could commit to a plan, the door opened and Justice trained a gun on their huddle. Kudzu—the closest to him—launched herself at the gunman and simultaneously transformed. The front of her uniform burst apart as a horde of tendrils burst from the girl’s chest. “Got him!” the green-tinged girl proclaimed as the roots and vines swathed around Justice’s body.

“Perfect!” Phaeton shouted as she got to her feet. “Call the Theurgist for a transport, Chill!” The young woman raised an arm to help focus her powers on Justice. “Just hold him steady and I’ll handle the rest, Kudzu…”

A beam of luminous, violet energy erupted from Phaeton’s fist and shot towards Justice. With Kudzu grappling him, little of him was exposed. Given all that the man had done to her and her friends—given everything he had put them through tonight—Phaeton didn’t hesitate to aim for his head.

Justice threw his all into swinging himself and his assailant around. Phaeton began to grind her teeth as she watched her blast nail Kudzu in the back of the head; her fists began to tremble as she watched her roommate’s grip loosen; she cursed as she watched Kudzu collapse in an unconscious heap.

“Idiot child…” Justice growled. “How many of your friends will you let sacrifice themselves before you simply accept your punishment?”

“Die, you son of a bitch!” Phaeton screamed, thrusting both of her fists out front of her. Twin pulses of plasma rocketed from her towards Justice. As the vigilante leapt clear of the blast, the Theurgist was conjured. “Kudzu!” Phaeton screamed to him as she unleashed another wave of energy for Justice. “Heal her!”

The Theurgist nodded and hurried to the downed girl’s side. He hesitated at first, noticing how the front of her uniform was open and only precariously covering her miniscule chest. Shaking off the surprise, he began to swing his arms around in preparation for casting the spell that would bring the young woman back around.

“A magus, eh?” Justice asked as he dodged another round of attacks from Phaeton. Rolling across the floor, he stood within striking range of the Theurgist.

It all seemed like one fluid motion: Justice grabbed the magus’ hand—intertwining his fingers with the boy’s—and gave a tug; as he pulled the arm out straight, Justice raised his free arm and bent it down just as his right foot stamped down on the youth’s feet.

Like a craftsman swinging a hammer, Justice swung his arm down and dropped his elbow into the Theurgist’s arm. The boy gave a scream that drowned out the cracking noise that froze his teammates where they stood.

Justice wasn’t finished: he gave a twist with his left hand—the one that held the Theurgist’s—and caused the young wizard to scream louder. Letting go of the boy, Justice drew a long, hunting knife from behind him. Just as the Theurgist brought his good arm around to cradle his broken appendage, Justice thrust the blade and stabbed it through the back of the boy’s left hand.

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

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

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

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

Phaeton shook her head, trying to make any sense of what Justice had just said. She had never heard of Kyle Fairbanks—never even been to Alaska except for a brief moment, the day she had been recruited to join the New Vindicators Academy of America…

Suddenly, everything clicked: Miss Bedford, Christmas and Pandora had gone to Juneau to locate and recruit a boy living on the streets there—a smug, homeless boy with the ability to manipulate thermal conditions to the point that he could cause things to combust…

When Justice attacked the school, there had been one person by her side through the entire ordeal: she had never been Justice’s target—she’d just been standing beside him…

Taking advantage of her momentary astonishment, Justice drew a pistol and trained it on Chill. “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done!”

“I haven’t done anything!” the boy insisted. Phaeton realized that was probably right: Lucas was a strange case in that was not a privileged alter—an alter who knew his status as a personality of the main.

“Typically, Dissociative Identity Disorder occurs when the host—or main—experiences some form of extreme trauma,” Doctor Howell had told them shortly after Lucas surfaced. “Typically, these alters come equipped with an expertise—something that the main lacks and might be looking to make up for…”

Justice moved to pull the trigger and ice raced from the tip of the pistol, over the barrel and down the gunman’s hand. Coated in ice, Justice could not fire the weapon. Dauntless, he charged for his target, bringing back the frosted firearm to simple strike the boy with it. Chill panicked and crossed his arms over his head, fabricating a wall of ice before him in the process.

Phaeton stood spellbound as she continued to put the pieces together: Maxwell Swift had mercilessly mocked her for her weight from the moment they met while Lucas was sweet and sensitive. Max was arrogant while Lucas was modest. Max never apologized for his behavior while Lucas apologized for the behavior of others.

Max had created Lucas to feel sorry for what he had done: Lucas was an alter created to feel some sense of remorse over what he had done to Kyle Fairbanks…

“You’re going to pay for what you did to that boy, Max!” Justice snarled as he skirted around the bulwark Chill had forged. He grabbed the boy by the arm and tugged at his last line of defense. Without his arms to shield him, Chill was struck in the face by Justice’s frozen fist.

“I’m not Max!” the bleeding and beaten boy bellowed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t know anyone named Kyle!”

Was that why Lucas was not a privileged alter? Was that why he had spent so much time in control? Had Max fabricated Lucas because he wanted to forget what happened? Because he wanted some part of himself to be blameless in what had happened?

“Then I’ll tell you!” Justice grabbed Chill by the collar of his shirt and slapped him again with the ice-encased-gun. “You and Kyle were close friends all throughout grade school! Then, as your first year of high school closed, you discovered your Neo-Sapien powers! You felt strong—more powerful than a weak little human like Kyle!” Blood spilt down Chill’s cheek from a cut the ice had given him under his eye. “You wanted to show him just how powerful you were, so you set him on fire! You turned your best-friend into an inferno and savored his pained screams!” Justice released the boy’s shirt and smacked him again. Chill was sent staggering back and collapsed beside the whimpering Theurgist. “You thought you were untouchable—that your power meant no one could make you pay for your crimes!” Justice casually strode towards the youth lying prostrate before him. “You were wrong, Max!

“Your victim demands justice!”

Justice’s target rose up, holding the hunting knife Justice had stabbed into the Theurgist’s arm. “You wanted Max?” the boy asked, a mocking tone in his voice. He slipped the knife between Justice’s ribs and a maniacal grin appeared on his face. “You got him!”

Justice swung with his frozen arm and Max caught the limb. “You’re wrong about what happened to Kyle! I had no idea that I was a Neo-Sapien! My dad ran off before I was born and never looked back; since my mom didn’t have any abilities, I assume I must have gotten ‘em from the old man!” Max socked Justice in the jaw and grinned as he watched the bleeding man drop to the ground before him. “The day my powers manifested, Kyle kissed me… It surprised me, yeah, but it also made me angry… I mean, why did he have to be gay? Why did he have to tell me? Why did he have to try and make me gay too?”

Justice slowly drew the knife out of his side and Max hurriedly replaced the blade with his foot. Kicking Justice in the ribs evoked a pained grunt. One wild swipe of the blade kept Max from repeating such an action though…

“I immediately pushed Kyle away and I… I was so pissed off! That’s when it happened: that’s when my powers manifested…”

Justice swung his gun arm into the floor. When the ice failed to break, he tried again and again…

“I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t know where the flames came from so how was I supposed to know if the flames would burn me or not!?! All I could do was watch—stunned as my best-friend screamed and burnt! I can’t imagine what he must have went through…”

The ice broke and Justice rolled away from the boy before him. Kneeling, he steadied his shivering arm with its brother and tried to ignore the pain in his side.

“But you’re about to find out.”

Suddenly, Justice burst into flames. He dropped the pistol as he began to flail about wildly, frantically swatting at himself in a futile attempt to smother the flames. Through it all, Phaeton could only stand and watch in horror, shuddering each time a ragged, agonizing scream tore itself from deep within the inferno’s core.

Max seemed not to notice the man madly dancing backwards around the room. His sights were set on the discarded firearm and his feet casually carried him to it. He slowly bent down and picked it up; whatever ice Lucas had coated it in was now long gone thanks to the spontaneous combustion.

The youth turned, chuckled, and raised the gun towards a nearby window. The instant the flailing, burning man was between the gun and its target, Max squeezed the trigger.

Phaeton’s breath was stolen when the first shot rang out. Then the next and the next and the next. Some of the bullets hit and some failed to. Justice staggered back from the force of each shot. Soon, he tipped back and fell out the window. Engulfed in flames and riddled with bullets, Justice fell out the second-story window and Max continued to fire the gun…

It was only when each pull of the trigger resulted in a harmless clicking—a whisper compared to the thunderclap that accompanied each ejected bullet—that Max finally ceased shooting. Throwing the gun to the ground, he turned towards Phaeton and the girl jumped at the devious grin across his face.

She was frozen in place as Max made his way to the stairs. The instant she realized Andrew was still chained up in the next room and Kudzu and the Theurgist needed medical attention, the shock faded. “Wait!” the young woman commanded. “I… I need your help…”

Max paused but he didn’t turn back. He simply shrugged. “Pretty sure I just helped you out a lot there, fatass.”

“The Theurgist isn’t in good shape! I could use your help getting him-”

“One, that’s the most retarded codename I’ve ever heard. Two, you need help? Wake the flat-chested bitch. Three, shut the hell up so I can go and make sure there’s a dead asshole outside, okay?”

Phaeton said nothing more. She turned and moved to help her friends, leaving Max to continue down the stairs, descending further into the darkness…
To Be Continued... wrote:Magnus Loder has failed to recruit Atlanta White and Alexa Hawk in his investigation of the information Adonis Skraag gave him. Up next, Magnus finally recruits someone to his side...

...But first, a fourth character still has to die...
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by McGuffin » Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:15 pm

Michuru81 wrote:Thank you, McGuffin: Gage's POV was a pain to write--there were too many times where I'd realize I was depicting things he'd see... I considered trying it from Will's perspective (knocked unconscious only to wake up to two dead bodies and no clue how it happened) but thought this might be a better way of getting into Gage's head... Like I said, this last chapter will sort of begin to delve into Gage, who has a much bigger role in the story than has thus far been established.
I took a course of creative writing in high school where we wrote a scene, then our teacher had us rewrite the scene while removing all the visual references and adding description tied to the other four senses. Not exactly writing from a blind character's POV, but it gave me a view of how much more varied my description could be.
Michuru81 wrote:In any case, the body count is actually at three. I never said Thuggy was out. We saw Bogart shoot and kill Trigger and the chapter ended with Thuggy charging the gunman as the trigger was pulled...
Oh derp, my brain just froze there. I literally looked over the last few chapters, then re-read the end of the chapter where Absalom died. Apparently I can't do math. :P

Edit: Also, Max is an asshole, in a kind of scary kind of way.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters 1160 & 1161

Post by Michuru81 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:30 pm

McGuffin wrote:I took a course of creative writing in high school where we wrote a scene, then our teacher had us rewrite the scene while removing all the visual references and adding description tied to the other four senses. Not exactly writing from a blind character's POV, but it gave me a view of how much more varied my description could be.
I tend to neglect the other senses of whoever's perspective I'm writing from. The dialogue is there but I tend to neglect the subtle things they hear--what they smell and feel get lost by the wayside. It's something I need to work on...
McGuffin wrote:
Michuru81 wrote:In any case, the body count is actually at three. I never said Thuggy was out. We saw Bogart shoot and kill Trigger and the chapter ended with Thuggy charging the gunman as the trigger was pulled...
Oh derp, my brain just froze there. I literally looked over the last few chapters, then re-read the end of the chapter where Absalom died. Apparently I can't do math. :P
After seeing some of the comments here, I had the impression that I caused a few people to think Thuggy had died alongside Trigger. Hardly the case: Thuggy will survive this encounter. While such a statement may seem to damn Bogart, let me be clear: not only does Thuggy live, he does not kill Bogart...
McGuffin wrote:Edit: Also, Max is an asshole, in a kind of scary kind of way.
And he'll only continued to get worse...
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1162

Post by Horsenhero » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:24 pm

Wow...can't both Max and Justice die? Justice could die...die and Max could just have that personality die off.

I know, it'll never happen. Look at Lodestone. Douchebags tend to linger.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1162

Post by McGuffin » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:34 am

After the last chapter I'd have to say Maggie's got nothing on Max. And he'll get worse? :shock:
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1163

Post by Michuru81 » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:49 am

Chapter LXIII: Placebo Headwound
Months had passed since Adonis Skraag had appeared in Magnus Loder’s apartment and made him realize that in order to stop what was coming, stealth and subtlety would be necessary.

Weeks had passed since he had managed to track down Atlanta White and Alexa Hawk. Atlanta, he realized, could teleport into a facility; Alexa could have easily assumed her liquid form and gained access that way. Either of them could have gotten him the rest of the information he needed if he was going to make sense of Autumn Colbenson’s role in the coming battle. Unfortunately, neither had been interested in joining his crusade…

Days had passed since he realized who to turn to next. Magnus needed someone who could get in and out of places easily—someone to gather information for him. The man felt stupid for having not realized before that there was someone who was an expert in such areas.

Hours had passed since his investigation—and his bribes—finally paid off: he had an address.

His target was not someone Katherine Wellor could find. In order for her to locate someone, she needed to know who she was looking for. Without the right details, she risked finding too many people who fit the criteria. Magnus didn’t even know his target’s real name. In fact, he knew next to nothing about the man…

What he did know was that the man attached himself to people of power. A coward at heart, Magnus’ target was like a remora: attaching himself to those with power to feed off of the scraps they missed.

Now, the journey brought Magnus to a ramshackle house in the South Bronx—a house whose windows were covered with blankets.

As he approached the house, he heard gunshots from inside. Knowing the sort of life his target kept, Magnus dashed inside. Locks were no challenge for him—not when his mastery over ferrous metals meant he could easily will a chain lock or deadbolt to slide away and permit him entry. Magnus followed the sounds of violence—the shouting and the shooting. He rounded a corner and found a strange sight cast before him…

He was hardly surprised to see them here. The men he knew only as Thuggy Thuggerton and Trigger Happy were the Wisent’s henchmen. They had fired at Magnus several times in their employer’s campaign against him.

Now, one of them was lying on the floor with bullet holes in his chest.

Thuggy charged for his best-friend’s killer. The instant Thuggy moved, Bogart pulled the trigger. Bullets erupted from the barrel of his pistol, speeding across the room to strike true for Thuggy’s heart…

And then Magnus Loder willed them to stop.

The rush of adrenaline triumphed over the novelty of bullets suspended in the air and Thuggy continued to dash towards Bogart. In a panic, Bogart fired again and again to no avail: the bullets were ejected from the pistol only to sit uselessly in the air.

Thuggy’s fingers were slipped through the holes of his diamond-encrusted, solid gold knuckledusters. One blow to the face sent Bogart off of his feet and onto his back. From the shadows, his associate moved to protect him: the Reptile lunged at Thuggy and tackled him to the ground.

“Mister Loder!?!” Magnus realized one of the students—Raanan Lumanta—was curled up inside of a pet carrier not far from where Trigger Happy lay dead. Hope shone on the Filipino boy’s face. “You came to save me!”

Bogart looked up to see Magnus standing in the room. Suddenly, he realized what his presence meant and took hold of his powers. The bullets Magnus stopped shot through the air—towards where Thuggy was throwing the Reptile off of him. Magnus reach out with what traces of his powers Bogart had not seized and a contest of wills began for the projectiles.

Thuggy didn’t question it. Though the Reptile was a Neo-Sapien, he hardly possessed anything close to the strength Thuggy had forged on the streets. Ignoring the annoyance the man posed, Thuggy lunged for Bogart and in breaking his concentration, rendered Magnus the winner of their invisible battle.

Pinned beneath the big man, Bogart screamed for help as Thuggy proceeded to avenge his best friend. With one hand on Bogart’s neck, Thuggy repeatedly raised and dropped his free hand, delivering vicious blow after vicious blow to the Neo-Sapien’s jaw.

Desperate for salvation, Bogart reached towards the door. Watching him, Magnus knew he was trying to focus his abilities—trying to block out the distraction of pain in order to siphon his magnetic powers once more. Something strange happened then…

Bogart’s eyes bulged as if he had seen a ghost. His expression whitened as all of the blood drained from his face. Magnus turned, expecting someone or something to be standing behind him. There was no one… “She’s alive…”

Magnus’ head whipped around as he heard Bogart’s hoarse proclamation. The oddity of it was enough to even still Thuggy’s fist. Both men stared down at Bogart and the odd, bloody, swollen smile his lips had curled into. Tears streamed down his face as he said in a relieved voice, “She’s alive!”

Magnus heard footsteps behind him. He turned and suddenly understood what Bogart had sensed when he reached out with his power-siphoning aura.

Four women stood behind him—all clad in something that resembled the uniform of the Vindicators. They wore black and white uniforms with a white ‘V’ slashed over the chest, but the colors were inverted. Instead of a white ‘V’ on a field of black, they wore a black ‘V’ on a field of white.

Their leader wore a blood red cloak with a hood pulled over her skull. Her face was visible though, and her hair was long. Magnus immediately recognized her—as well as one of the other two blonde women. Still, it was the slender, raven-haired woman with them that held his attention…

“You’re alive!” he exclaimed.

Tripper nodded somberly at him. “Hello, Magnus…”

“Jacquelyn,” the woman in the red cloak said sweetly, “put them all down.”

Though it had been years since he had last felt the effect, Magnus Loder was no stranger to the Trip Field. An invisible force dropped upon him and caused his knees to buckle. Even when he fell to the floor, the unseen pressure refused to let up. Now, Magnus and his company could only make out the party’s ankles as they moved into the room. “What the hell, Jacque!?!” Magnus roared. “First you disappear and then this!?!”

“Magnus,” Tripper pleaded meekly, “please, just be quiet…”

“Let me up, dammit!”

One of the women knelt beside them. Looking at her, Magnus was taken aback by the resemblance to her daughter. “Better do what she said,” the former Vindicator said, cracking her knuckles. “You either shut up or get shut up…”

“You-”

“Please, Magnus…” Phenomena whispered. “Your dad and I used to fight side-by-side. I changed your diapers, for God’s sake… Don’t make me hurt you.”

From where he laid, Magnus could not see the others: Thuggy, Bogart, the Reptile and Raanan had all been behind him when Jacque had used her powers on them. Still, he could hear them: he could hear Bogart cry-laughing behind him.

The group’s leader—the woman in the red cloak—stepped over Magnus and immediately the man realized that either this woman was immune to the effects of the Trip Field or Tripper could now regulate who was and was not affected by her powers…

“I can’t believe this,” Bogart said. “All these years, and here you…” He trailed off into a fit of sobs; the woman in the red cloak said nothing. “I can’t tell you how… how many times I’ve dreamed of seeing you again… Everything I went through: when the Illuminati conceived a way to travel back in time and prevent Apocatastasis’ return, I tried to go back in time to save you but I…” Magnus face contorted into a confused expression: what did Bogart have to do with Apocatastasis and time travel? “I didn’t go back far enough… I was late—I missed it by mere days and…” He sobbed. “Here you are…”

“Here I am.”

He sniffled. “I love you so-” He cut off into a fit of odd gurgles and choking sounds. This went on for several moments and then, an eerie silence fell over the room.

“We’ve done what we came to do,” the woman in the red cloak said. “Cleanse the others’ memories, Ruth, and we can get-”

“Jacque, don’t!” Magnus railed. “Don’t leave! You have to come back to the school with me!” Phenomena tried to put a hand over Magnus’ mouth but even under the Trip Field he proved to be squirrely. “There’s a woman there—she can find Lex… God, he’s going to be so happy to see you again.”

Tripper knelt beside Magnus and flashed him a confused look. “Lex died, Magnus… Over a year ago—making his way through Queens to fight Apocatastasis.”

“NO!” Magnus screamed. “Lex is alive, Jacque! He-” Magnus cut off in a fit of screaming. Were it not for the pressure of the Trip Field, his hands would have flown to his chest. He had no way of knowing for sure—he had nothing to compare it to—but he supposed that this was what a heart attack felt like.

Suddenly, he understood: he knew that the series of strange sounds Bogart made behind him were the sounds of him dying—of being pinned beneath Thuggy and the Trip Field while his heart slowed to a stop. Magnus even knew who in the room was capable of such a feat. It took him a moment, but he quickly understood that he was being shut up. Worse, he understood why…

“Don’t listen to her, Jacque!” he managed through the pain. “She’s lying to you! Lex is alive! I’ve seen him! Fought-” He cut off again as the pain in his chest seemed to double. “We fought Deimos together!”

“Jacquelyn,” the woman in the red cloak intoned passively, “you saw it with your own eyes, remember?

“Remember your husband’s death?”

“You bitch!” Magnus snarled. “Why the hell are you doing this!?! You used to be one of us!

“You used to be a Vindicator, Bio!”

Bio turned and pulled back her hood. “And what does that mean!?!” she snarled. “You talk like the Vindicators are some sort of family—a fraternity of Neo-Sapiens bound under a common desire to make the world a better place! Do you know what my family did to me, Magnus!?! Do you know what my teammates did!?!

“They left me entombed under a Goddamn mountain! Rosa, Richard, Sylvia, Breanne… I could understand them but Brian and Michuru!?! Brian was my brother—my twin brother!—and Michuru… I thought he loved me…”

“They thought you were dead!” Magnus snapped. “Hell, the whole world did!”

“Me!?! They thought that I was dead!?! The girl whose power makes her body heal everything!?! They thought that there wasn’t the slightest chance that I could have recovered from that given everything they’d seen me recover from before that!?! Hell, even if they thought I was dead, they could have come back for my body! They could have given me a proper burial—some place my mom and dad could go on my birthday or the anniversary of my death and… No, they didn’t care—none of them! They never did! They were happy I was dead—happy! As soon as I was gone, they all moved on with their lives…

“Let me share the wisdom I accumulated, spending seven damn years digging my way out of my own grave: there is no such thing as love or compassion or mercy or justice or loyalty. No one is ever going to give a damn about you. The only person you can count on is yourself.”

Magnus strained under the force of the Trip Field. “Says the woman leading a team.”

“I don’t know why I waste my breath,” Bio growled. “You’re not going to remember this anyway… Ruth’s going to go into your heads—mess around with your memories-”

“Is that what you did to Jacque!?!” Magnus stormed. “Is that why she thinks Lex is dead!?! Jacque! He’s alive! He’s hurting! He thinks you’re the one who’s dead!”

“Do it, Ruth,” Bio commanded.

“You bitch!” Magnus snarled. “Why the hell are you doing this!?!”

“Why?” she asked, a hint of surprise in her voice. “It’s the oldest motive in the book: I want revenge. I was a Vindicator and I was hurt by the Vindicators. I was abandoned by the Vindicators—left for dead! They robbed me of my hopes and dreams—they stole my love!

“All I have left is hatred… Hatred and a desire to destroy everything that they stand for…”

Magnus Loder closed his eyes and when he opened them, he was lying on the floor. Disoriented, he sat up and tried to recall where he was and how he had ended up in the position he was in. He looked over and saw Bogart gazing up at the ceiling with a glazed-over look on his face.

The sight of the corpse brought Magnus back around: he had come to recruit the Reptile, hoping that he could convince the man to serve him. He had arrived in the middle of a fight… He looked to where Trigger had laid and found nothing. He searched the room for signs of Thuggy and came up short on that end as well. Thuggy and Trigger had come for Bogart, Trigger had died and Thuggy had avenged him—the last thing Magnus remembered was Thuggy tackling Bogart and wildly pounding his knuckledusters into the Caucasian man’s face.

That must have been what happened… but what happened to him? How had he lost consciousness during the scuffle?

Raanan was still locked in the pet carrier. Raanan was still unconscious—the only time he was tolerable. Crawling to the cage door, Magnus used his powers to break the lock on the door. “I can’t figure it out…” His head whipped around; his eyes sought out the speaker and found nothing. Instantly, he realized who his invisible host was: the Reptile had not left. “At first, I assumed that you came with the thugs—that you had entered into some sort of alliance with them… But the one awoke, took his friend’s body, and left you… You came for the boy though, didn’t you?”

“Actually,” Magnus said to the shadows, “I came to talk to you. I have a proposition for you, Reptile: I want you to work for me. I want you to break into some places, dig up some information and report it to me. I can pay you…”

“I’ll want more than money,” the Reptile said. He stepped away from the wall then and his skin shifted to normal—to the pale green hue it normally was, rather than mimicking the appearance of the drywall. “My powers are hardly subtle. I can blend into almost anything except for a crowd. For years, I haven’t been able to have a normal life… My appearance draws their hatred and my powers have not lent themselves well to defending me.

“I want protection, Magnus Loder. I want to know that if a fight finds its way to me, I can count on the Vindicators to have my back.”

Magnus shook his head. “You don’t understand: what we’re going to be doing is going to be done behind the Vindicators’ backs. No one—not even my family—can know what we’re dealing with.

“If you do what I say though…” Magnus offered his hand to the green-tinged man. “You can count on my protection.”

The Reptile didn’t hesitate to shake his hand and Magnus Loder made a mental note that the Reptile was an exceptionally gullible man…
To Be Continued... wrote:"Hello, Apollo.

"Where should I begin?"
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1164

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:49 pm

NEW VINDICATORS #107: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth


Chapter LXIV: The Ring in Return
When Doctor Meinstein told Doctor Colbenson to seek out Willoughby, her mind went to work on fabricating what she could be possibly walking into. Willoughby was painted as a criminal mastermind who manipulated the super-powered community in his affairs. Such a man undoubtedly had made powerful enemies over his life and would have walled himself up in an urban fortress, complete with murder holes and machine gun turrets to discourage those seeking to do him harm.

In reality, the man’s base of operations occupied three floors of the Trump Building. Ward, Willoughby and Wolfe was an accounting firm and financial advisor company that had been servicing New York’s movers and shakers since the Reagan years.

The instant the elevator doors opened, her senses were overwhelmed by the cacophony phones ringing and keyboards clicking. Flanked by Tinnitus and the Iron Curtain, Cheryl stepped off of the elevator and onto the forty-fourth floor and approached the front desk where a trio of receptionists hurriedly diverted the incoming calls. At their convergence, one of them turned and greeted them with a warm smile. “What can I do for you?” the twenty-something asked.

Cheryl reached into the inside of her coat and drew out a billfold containing falsified credentials manufactured by her disgruntled benefactor. “I’m here to talk to Mister Willoughby,” she growled.

The receptionist frowned. “Mister Willoughby is no longer with us,” she intoned sadly. “I’m sorry to have to tell you but… he died this last summer. I’m afraid Mister Willoughby and Mister Wolfe were in Chicago and were caught up in that fiasco…”

“And Mister Ward?” Cheryl asked wearily. She embraced herself for news of his demise as well.

“He survived.”

Cheryl turned and took in the sight of the man walking towards them. To say that he was handsome was an understatement—the man was beautiful. A lean, muscular physique like those the Ancient Greeks chiseled in honor of their gods was wrapped in an expensive suit; long waves of sun-touched blonde hair was tied back and out of his flawless face.

Oddly enough, his eyes told tales of wisdom collected over a long life but his bronze skin had a youthful appearance about it.

“I’m Mister Ward’s personal assistant,” he said in a rich voice, “Apollo Hendricks. Mister Ward’s been expecting you, Doctor Colbenson. If you and your associates will follow me?”

The idea that Ward knew they were coming was a disturbing thought to the woman but she couldn’t return to Patriot Robotics without what she’d been sent for.

No matter how much she wanted to inquire as to how they had predicted her arrival, she kept quiet on the elevator ride up to the forty-sixth floor. Asking such questions would only make her seem afraid—she needed to come of calm and in command.

The forty-sixth floor was far different from the forty-fourth. No longer did the sounds of office workers scuttling along, performing mundane duties fill the air. Now, only the hum of the muted lights reached her ears now.

Apollo lead them down twisting a path of pine green corridors trimmed in mahogany. Soon, they found themselves at a pair of double doors that opened into a meeting room. There, Mister Ward sat at the head of the table, smiling at the sight of their arrival.

Ward was an effeminate man who looked to be in his early twenties. He had pale skin, eyes that sparkled like emeralds and a cap of short, blonde hair. His charcoal suit was lined with green pinstripes and looked just as exquisitely tailored as Apollo’s did. Unlike his assistant, Ward wore no tie: instead, the top two buttons of his green silk shirt were undone, exposing the thin silver chain encircling his neck.

He was missing his left arm: the sleeve of his jacket was pinned up at the shoulder.

“Doctor Colbenson,” he intoned, gesturing to the empty seats on both sides of the long table. “Mister Haynes, Mister Volkov. Welcome. Won’t you have a seat?” When they acquiesced, he gestured to Apollo. “Can my assistant get you anything to drink?”

“I think we’ll just get straight to the point,” Cheryl said. “You know who we are and you knew we were coming—you know what we want.”

“Phase—specifically, you want to know whether he’s alive or not.”

The woman nodded.

“I wish I could help you. Unfortunately…”

“You’re telling me that you knew we were coming here and why but you can’t tell me whether or not my associate is still alive?”

“I’m hardly omnipresent, Doctor Colbenson. Suffice it to say, I have my eyes on Doctor Meinstein… I believe he could prove pertinent to my business needs.”

“And you’re telling me? How do you know I won’t tell him?”

Ward grinned fiendishly. “I don’t imagine there is much he could do with that information. I’m not worried about what you’ll do with this knowledge.”

Cheryl nodded glumly. She felt defeated.

“Doctor Meinstein told you that Willoughby had an Esper on his payroll—someone who could locate anyone. Even though Willoughby is no longer with us, this woman still lives. Her name is Katherine Wellor and you are largely to blame for building the road she’s taken from this firm.

“You are the one who gave Johann Meinstein access to the artifact that reconstructed his memories, Doctor Colbenson. You’re the one who turned him back into the Fuhrer—the one who opened his cell and let him loose. He summoned her to us to use her power in locating young Espers. Unbeknownst to him, your organization also lit the fire that drew in those moths from the New Vindicators Academy, putting her into their camp.

“These days, Miss Wellor is employed as a teacher at the New Vindicators Academy of America. If you want to find Mister Goodman, you’ll need to find her.”

Cheryl narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Ward. “What’s in it for you?” she asked. “What do you get out of putting me on this woman’s trail?”

“As I said, I believe that your benefactor could be of use to me. Helping you, helps him. Helping him, helps me.”

“And how in the hell am I supposed to just waltz into the New Vindicators Academy and walk out with one of their teachers without all of them coming down on me with all they have and more?”

Ward smiled a disturbingly pleased smile. “I have eyes and ears on those who can benefit me; are you telling me you don’t make a practice of doing the same in regards to your enemies?”

And like that, Cheryl remembered that their sister school in Vienna wasn’t the only institution she had sleeper agents stationed inside…
To Be Continued... wrote:"For you
I'd do anything just to make you happy
hear you tell me that you’re proud of me

For them
I'll kill anything
cut the throats of babies for them break their hearts for they were them

Waiting for you to say...

I love you, too..."
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