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

New Vindicators, Chapter 1169

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:22 pm

Chapter LXIX: Blood Red Summer
Time was hastened by a steady diet of Haldol. Before Carl knew it, there was frost on the windows of the community room and snow on the ledges. The weeks he had spent here seemed a blur—a side-effect of the drugs, he supposed: he could remember meeting with Doctor Yume ever Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning like clockwork but he couldn’t really recall any individual meeting.

Carl and Max were sitting in the community room, playing poker with the Nazi and Adam. They had no money to gamble with but they used chips to keep score. At the moment, Carl was down, Adam stank and the Nazi had lost his last chip to Max. “What’ll it be, gentlemen?” he asked, doing his best Jim Backus impersonation. “Are you in?”

Carl looked at his hand: were it not for the four of diamonds peeking out, he’d have had a royal flush. He was short only the queen of hearts.

“I raise,” Adam said, tossing three more chips into the pot. “So, what’s the news in the other ward?” Carl looked up from his hand of red and took in the alarmed look that flashed on Max’s face. Max—the ever-informed Maxwell Swift—always had news from the other ward and the other patients perpetually pestered him for it. No one knew how he got it and no one cared; it didn’t even matter to them that the news never changed: Deimos was still railing at his captors, Suicide Dave was still incessantly whining, Pandora was still stroking her hellfire effigy and Sol Invictus was still asking for his mask…

“Same ol’, same ol’,” Max offered apathetically. “Are you in or what, Carl?”

“Nah,” Carl said, laying his hand down on the table. “I’m out.” Max’s attention shifted to Adam then and Carl took the moment to scrutinize his expression: as he expected, Max looked agitated. That expression returned any time the residents of the maximum security ward were brought up. If Carl had to muster up a reason, he supposed to all went back to his first day here, when Max told him to forget about Sol Invictus. Was that why he glared at anyone who asked about the other ward? Was he afraid Carl might pick up the suspicions he had surrendered along with his belt and shoe laces?

“Is that Sol Invictus guy still asking for his mask?” Adam asked. He chuckled to himself. “I wonder what he looks like. Have you ever seen his face, Max?”

Max shook his head. “I haven’t.”

“Man, I wonder what why he’s so obsessed with that mask… Think he’s horribly disfigured? Like, maybe his face was burnt off or something?”

“Are you gonna talk or are you gonna play cards?”

Grumbling, Adam laid down his hand and revealed a trio of 8’s—easily enough to best the strange hodgepodge of cards Max held: he held the Queen of Hearts that Carl had needed, the Ace of Spades, Three of Diamonds, Seven of Hearts and the King of Clubs. At the realization that he was victorious, Adam reached to rake the pot to him when a pair of doors was suddenly sucked down the hallway.

The sound of metal tearing away drew the attention of everyone in the room—both patients and the nursing staff alike. Carl could feel his heart beat racing: he didn’t know what had happened but he knew that something had happened. After weeks of wasting away on a diet of antipsychotics, something was happening… Thus far, all of his days had seamlessly blurred together, but now, something was happening to make today stand out.

For several tense moments, no one moved. Everyone just continued to stare at the threshold where a pair of doors had just been. Everyone was trying to rationalize exactly what had just happened. It was then that Carl realized that those doors led to the stairwell that led to the maximum security ward.

It was then that Mark inched his way over to peer in through the fractured doorway. Carl called to him—to tell him to move. If Mark could see what was in the stairwell, then what was in the stairwell could see him. Suddenly, a massive shape resembling a crumpled up ball of paper erupted from inside and smashed into Mark, crushing him between it and the wall ten feet behind him.

Carl shuddered as he realized the ball was forged from the doors: the doors had been ripped off their hinges and crumbled up into a ball that had been flung by an invisible force and with incredible speed.

Carl had seen a similar effect: it was nothing that Dipole, Mister Loder or Miss Bedford couldn’t do by commanding magnetic force.

It had to be the work of Sol Invictus.

Right on cue, the man emerged from the stairwell. His azure blanket was wrapped around his body like a cloak; his face was hidden behind a cobalt helm whose face had been fashioned into a sunburst.

Orderlies charged for him while a nurse ran to check on Mark. The windows groaned and the room was sprayed in an explosion of glass. The frames flew from the walls, writhing in the air as they sailed towards the madman’s former captors. The first was driven Carlos’ eye while another shot clean through Tony’s stomach. The bloody bar circled around for Paul and joined its brother in twisting around his neck.

Sol Invictus never moved a muscle. He never raised a hand to guide the metal that obeyed his whims—he never even turned to face his prey. He simply paused and slaughtered two of the three men who had rushed to subdue him. The third now struggled to break his metal collar—his feet frantically kicked as he was dangled inches above the floor.

“Let him go!” Carl screamed, pouncing to his feet. He wasted no time in thrusting his arm out front and steadying his aim by clutching his wrist. He didn’t expect Sol Invictus to listen to him and he wasn’t about to let another innocent person die: Carl unleashed a blast of light for his opponent and then watched as Paul was cast aside.

Sol Invictus turned to face the light that never reached him. As Carl’s blast sped to connect with its mark, it faded until nothing but an afterimage seared into sight remained of it. “Is that all you can do?” the masked man asked. “Visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum: it bends to my will and will not turn against me.”

“C’mon, Carl!” Max urged as the other patients frantically tried to open the doors that would lead to their freedom. “Just, sit back down! Leave him alone! If we leave him alone, he won’t touch us!”

Sol Invictus chuckled behind his mask. “You should listen to your friend, Carl…”

“You killed them,” Carl hissed. “You were going to kill Paul… I can’t just stand by and let you hurt innocent people!”

Sol Invictus continued to laugh. “And that’s where you and I differ,” he intoned. “You can’t allow it… and I’ve been anxious to do this since I got here!”

Carl’s ability allowed him to control light. How that allowed him to fly, he wasn’t quite sure—no one was, really. He wasn’t about to question it now: with his offensive array so easily countered, torpedoing himself into his opponent seemed like the last option allowed to him.

Sol Invictus flung up his hands—he must have tried to negate Carl’s ability to fly or possibly deflect him from his path. He failed to do either—he failed to do anything—and Carl crashed into the man.

Knocking Sol Invictus to his back, Carl proceeded to give in to the only attack open to him now: he swung his fist down and into Sol Invictus’ chest. Every fiber of his being told him to hit him in the face but that mask granted him some degree of protection while the blanket he robed himself in offered him none.

Memories of straddling Raanan Lumanta flooded his memory. Though this was similar, something was different: Carl’s blows were hardly as savage now; his attacks were more a frenzied panic than they were an animalistic pummeling. He knew the primary difference: before—with Raanan—he had given in to the voice in his head.

“What’s wrong, Carl?” Sol Invictus asked. “Why don’t you just give in to your dark side?”

Carl hesitated with his arm pulled back, ready to swat the man with another of his weak punches. The taunt had done more than cause him to falter however: unnerved, Carl was easily blindsided by the crumpled doors that had killed Mark.

The large orb slammed into Carl and knocked him off of Sol Invictus. Slowly, the two men got to their feet. “How did you…?”

“Sound travels pretty well in the maximum security ward,” Sol Invictus said. “I heard every word you said the day you were brought in.” Carl wasn’t sure how he knew, but he knew that the madman was grinning behind that mask. “Maybe you don’t like seeing innocent people hurt… but I’m guessing we have some similarities…”
Carl slowly shook his head and Sol Invictus was slowly nodding. “I want to meet the real you, Carl! I want to face the Carl who crippled that boy at your school! I want to see just how similar you and I actually are!”

Sol Invictus turned his neck and took in the handful of patients struggling at the door. A pair of nurses was with them as was Paul. One of those in a blind panic was the Nazi; the Nazi’s powers would make everyone close to him feel the same way he felt emotionally, making a bad situation worse.

Lyle had given up on trying to escape and was simply sitting in the corner, hugging his knees into his chest. Adam had crept to the row of shattered windows and appeared to be judging whether or not he could survive the leap.

“Do you know what one of the biggest dangers of a nuclear attack is?” Sol Invictus casually asked. “Granted, anyone at ground zero will be effectively vaporized but those further out could be potentially blinded by the accompanying flash, suffer radiation burns—and then there’s the fallout to deal with… In the end, it seems like those at ground zero were given the most humane death. Everyone else just…” He turned towards those scrambling to get through the door. “…Get to suffer…”

“Get down!” Carl screamed.

Too late: there was a flash of light from Sol Invictus and then, Carl lost consciousness…
To Be Continued... wrote:"Did somebody take your tongue?
In worries of the words that you couldn't say if they could've saved them from
But I don't want to sleep without so I bid to you goodnight
Tonight, sleep tight, my love..."

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

New Vindicators, Chapter 1170

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:25 pm

Chapter LXX: The Velourium Camper I: Faint of Hearts
Carl opened his eyes and was greeted by an array of drop ceiling tiles. Turning his head towards the light, Carl looked out the large window not far from his hospital bed. The lack of bars on the window told him that he was in a hospital and not in the Spider. Suddenly, it all came back to him: Sol Invictus had obliterated the ward and Carl had lost consciousness during the attack.

The blonde boy tried to spring to his feet, only to realize he was handcuffed to the rails of his bed. “Good morning.” Carl’s head whipped around and took in the sight of a police officer sitting beside the door.

“What happened to Sol Invictus?” Carl asked with a hint of urgency in his voice.

“Who?” the officer asked. A ragged sigh escaped his lips. “Son, you’re in a world of trouble: you blew up a damn nut house and killed everyone-”

“It wasn’t me!” Carl barked. “It was Sol Invictus!”

“Right. Sure it was.”

“Sol Invictus is a Neo-Sapien capable of commanding the electromagnetic spectrum. He did his best impersonation of a nuclear bomb and unleashed a pulse of radiation…” Carl trailed off as the officer’s words sunk in. “He blew up the nut house?” he asked. “The whole Spider?”

“More than that but that hospital was ground zero. No one survived it but you, kid. Looks pretty damn suspicious-”

“No, it wasn’t me! It was Sol Invictus! I… I can’t do anything like that! I control light—that’s all! Call the school! Call the-” Suddenly, Carl realized he couldn’t have the officer merely call Doctor Howell to confirm what Carl was saying: it wasn’t as though the New Vindicators Academy openly advertised their presence on Roosevelt Island. “Call the Vindicators—they’ll tell you who I am…”

“Sure,” the officer said dryly, “let me just whip out of my phone and call them. I have them on speed dial.”

“You have to believe me!”

“I press one button and a little red phone rings in their secret headquarters.”

“You want to keep me here? That’s fine. Go right ahead. You need to help me get a message to the Vindicators, though! The guy who blew up the Spider is out there and he’s going to do something like this again! Keep me but get the Vindicators to find him before he kills anyone else!”

The officer narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Finally, he reached to his shoulder and touched at the walkie-talkie suspended there. “Sergeant Sonando,” he intoned. “The kid from the crater woke up and says he needs to warn the Vindicators that this is going to happen again unless they hear him out.” Turning back to Carl, Sonando grimaced at him. “Okay, so… supposing that this Sol Invictus is real? Tell me about him… Why did he attack the Spider?”

“He was a patient there,” Carl offered, “same as me but we were in two different wards. I was in the normal ward for super-powered patients and he was in maximum security because of how dangerous he is.”

The door opened and the Aurelia—the Vindicator Carl had fought beside the night he’d killed Roland Birkmeyer—slipped in. Her usual grace with replaced by nervousness; it was understandable, being on guard given where she was and why she was here. “Carl?” she asked timidly.

Carl forced a smile, hoping that might put her more at ease. “He thinks I nuked the Spider,” he said. “You have to tell him that I don’t have that kind of power.”

“Horde says the rubble’s bathed in radiation,” she said, “like it was hit by-”

“By a nuclear weapon,” Carl said. “Yeah, it… it was; that’s what I was just telling Sergeant Sonando: there was a patient in the Spider’s maximum security wing named Sol Invictus. He had this obsession with his mask. I think that’s why he broke out: he wanted his stupid helmet back… I mean, he was wearing it when he attacked us in the day room…”

“Carl?” The Aurelia hesitated.

“I’m not crazy,” he growled, sensing why she had faltered. “I’m sorry for what I did to Raanan—I was angry and I… I just lost control… but I survived what this guy could do once so…” Carl trailed off as he tried to puzzle out just how he had survived. Twice now he’d survived what he shouldn’t have: he should have died in Vienna, when Greystone had eviscerated him, and he should have died here alongside the other patients.

Carl did not chalk his continued existence up to mere resiliency: sheer luck had saved him in Vienna and his powers must have helped him here. Somehow, his own energy shield must have insulated him from the worst of Sol Invictus’ attack. He was fuzzy on the science—biology was more Carl’s forte—but Carl presumed that it might have been possible that light and radiation somehow countered each other.

“My powers must help me resist his,” he said. “He can do what I can do and more—maybe since visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, I can shrug off whatever he does. More than that, I know someone who’s probably immune to anything Sol Invictus can throw at us.

“I know that you think I’m crazy but… I’m the only one who’s actually faced Sol Invictus and survived up ‘til now. You need to trust me.


Sergeant Sonando looked to the Aurelia and she frowned at Carl. Sensing they weren’t going to let him out, Carl started to panic. He shook his limbs violently, as if that would somehow be enough to free him from his handcuffs. His mind went back to the incident on Governor’s Island so many weeks ago: the handcuffs Absalom had used to imprison Candace had come off so easily—why couldn’t he have that same luck?

Suddenly, both of the cuffs released him and Carl stared in wonder at his wrists. Had it really been just a coincidence that freed Candace or was there something more to his abilities than he realized? “Stop him!”

The officer’s cry roused Carl from his bewilderment. He threw himself out of bed and crashed to the floor of the hospital room. As he started to pick himself up they were on him; he could feel the sergeant’s hands on his back and hear the Aurelia’s invocation. He could not let himself be caught—not so long as Sol Invictus was out there…

Carl rocketed out of Sergeant Sonando’s grip and through the window. He had no way of knowing where he was and proceeded to climb; from a higher altitude, he could get a view of the city and zero in on Roosevelt Island. Not only did he need to recruit Gideon to his side, he needed to get to him as quickly as possible: by now, the Aurelia would have contacted the Vindicators—told them about his escape. They had to know he’d go back to the school—where else did he have to go? If he wanted to avoid being pulled into a battle with them, he would need to move with haste…

It took him a moment to orient himself and soon, he realized where Manhattan was. He traced the east coast of the borough with his eyes and soon found where the island was. He dropped out of the sky and split heaven in twain as he shot towards the school…

Traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, it wasn’t long before the school came into view below him. His heart soared at the prospect of returning here but his spirits sank as he imaged the reception he’d receive from his friends—from Candace…

All of his worries vanished as he drew closer, however: the nearer he came to the New Vindicators Academy, the more obvious the destruction became… The wing where the classrooms rested was a smoldering pile of rubble and the top two floors of the lighthouse were gone. The dorms looked intact until his eyes found a gaping hole vomiting debris into the main quad on the second floor.

A brilliant flash of light shot from the windows and drove back the shadows night had dispatched to flank the ruins. It had to be Gideon. Gideon was fighting and deep down, Carl knew he was fighting Sol Invictus…
To Be Continued... wrote:"This isn't love so forever let it go--forever let it burn
This isn't love there on the backend of forever
I wish I would never hurt again..."

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

New Vindicators, Chapter 1171

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:27 pm

Chapter LXXI: The Velorium Camper II: Backend of Forever
Determination and necessity spurred him forward. As he neared the crumbling portal into the dorms, he cut his speed. He landed on the floor of what once had been the room Christmas Clark shared with Jessica Martin. Carl had never been in here before and had only Jessica’s lifeless corpse to indicate where he was. He looked at it only long enough to cement the sight into his memory banks and then sprinted through the open door and into the hall.

“Carl!” John screamed. His exclamation brought Carl’s head around to where the one-armed sophomore stood beside Gideon. The android’s arm was unfolded into a cannon and aimed on Carl.

“Get down!” Gideon snarled.

Carl dropped to the ground and a pulse of energy exploded from Gideon, screamed as it soared over Carl’s prone body and slammed harmlessly against the barrier Sol Invictus had erected around himself.

“My, how you’ve grown, Gideon,” Sol Invictus laughed. “I almost felt that one!”

Carl got to his feet and kept his head down as he ran to his friends’ side. “What’s happened?” he asked urgently.

“This maniac came out of nowhere and started trashing the school,” John explained.

Carl’s eyes fell on the stump John’s right arm now ended in. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have gotten here sooner.”

“It looks worse than it is,” John growled determinedly. “I keep telling myself magic’ll heal it—just gotta take this guy out first!”

“Where is everyone-”

“Infirmary,” Gideon grumbled. “Less talking, more making sure this guy doesn’t hurt anyone else.”

“Right!” Carl said determinedly. “I’m going to pour my power into you, Gideon—maybe you can overpower his force field with a biggest blast?”

“It’s worth a shot.”

With a nod, Carl began to emit beams of white-hot light from his hands and funneled those twin streams of energy into Gideon’s back. The android began to glow as his cells absorbed the light and pooled it in his right arm. Before long, the radiance was so incredible that John had to look away. Carl continued to fuel everything he had into Gideon and Gideon continued to store it.

Finally, when he’d taken as much as he could, a cone of light exploded from the lenses inside of Gideon’s arm and baptized the hall in white. For anyone else, only a bright void of nothingness would remain; for Carl, whose eyes had adapted to let him see in the absence of light or a deluge of it, watched as Sol Invictus’ barrier was devoured by the wave of energy. He watched as Sol Invictus received Gideon’s attack; he watched as the madman braced himself against the force of the attack and he watched as he was finally overcome and flung back. Carl watched as Sol Invictus’ body exploded through the far wall and he wondered if he had been carried out by the column of light now threatening to bombard Queens or if he had fallen off it to the quad below.
Regardless, Sol Invictus was gone for the moment and they could use the respite to rally. “Where the hell is everyone?” Carl asked. “Where’s Candace?”

“Most are in the infirmary,” John said as he rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “He got the drop on us and managed to take out the big guns first: Miss Bedford, Mister Loder, Christmas—they’re all okay but down for the count. Pandora… Dude, the guy punched a hole through her gut with a beam of energy. Razi got her downstairs but it really didn’t look good…”

“Who do we still have?” Carl asked. “Who’s still up and able?”

“You’re looking at them,” Gideon said.

Carl shook his head. “What about Gage or Solon or Gregaro?”

“No one’s seen Gage,” Gideon said. “We’re not sure if he ran or if he’s buried or… or like Solon.” John frowned and looked like he was about to start crying. “Solon’s gone, Carl. He never stood a chance.”

Carl sobbed. “It can’t be…”

“First Lloyd, then Solon…” John sobbed. “It’s like a bad dream, y’know?”

The blonde senior closed his eyes tight; he was afraid to ask his next question: “Where’s Gregaro?”

“The infirmary,” Gideon said. “The shaft leading to the lower levels is filled with ice. He’s making it as fast as that guy can melt it. Only way in or out now is John…”

“I’ve grown a lot stronger since you’ve been gone,” the one-armed boy told Carl. “I can make the ice shift into water around us and then freeze again after we’ve passed through.”

Carl forced a smile at his underclassman; it was obvious he was proud of his achievements—rightly so—and looking for something good inside of all this chaos.

“So, you’re the only one who can open the door and Gideon’s the only one standing up to fight him. Why haven’t you radioed in the cavalry yet?”

“We can’t,” Gideon said. “All signals are down.”

Carl understood: somehow, Sol Invictus had to be manipulating the electromagnetic spectrum to disable their communications. The school was in the dark. “Gideon, when you first arrived, you said ‘Sol Invictus’, right? The guy you’re fighting? His name is Sol Invictus. He’s the guy you were built to fight, Gideon.”

“What a coincidence.” The trio of boys turned just as a beam of energy shot down the hall and struck John. Before either of his teammates could react, the sophomore’s body was gone—vaporized by the power Sol Invictus wielded. “I was born to kill you all.”
To Be Continued... wrote:"Let this colony know in the name of the dead we're coming..."

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

New Vindicators, Chapter 1172

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:29 pm

Chapter LXXII: The Velorium Camper III: Al the Killer
Carl watched as Gideon charged down the hall. Sol Invictus fired off blast after blast but the cells in the android’s body absorbed everything the madman threw at him. As he ran, Gideon thrust his arm forward and discharged the energy he had absorbed from Sol Invictus’ volley of attacks back at the masked man. Those strikes too impacted harmlessly: rather than absorb them into him, Sol Invictus simply intercepted them with a barrier of identical energy.

Gideon had to have realized what Carl had: this was not a battle that would be decided by anyone’s command over energy. This was a war that would be won by fists and physical resilience—by fighting aptitude and deftness.

When he was within range, Gideon pounced. He lunged for Sol Invictus and sailed through the air. His fingers flexed as his arm reverted to its natural shape. Gideon tackled the madman to the rubble-strewn floor and then writhed to pin him. Sitting on the man’s chest, the android triumphantly rose up and swung his fist down and into his opponent’s masked face.

Unable to merely stand back and watch Gideon do this alone, Carl rushed forward. The blood of the other patients—the men and women Carl had spent the last few weeks surrounded by—were on this man’s hands. Jessica Martin and John Titus had been cut down by him. Sol Invictus had taken lives and would no doubt continue to take lives unless he was stopped…

Suddenly, Carl froze. It dawned on him that he didn’t know how far he was willing to take this. The memory of having attacking Raanan Lumanta was fresh in his mind. Since the moment he had woken up in the Spider, he had regretted his actions… Still, there was a gap between Raanan’s pety annoyance and Sol Invictus’ threatening to eradicate Carl’s other classmates. On the other side of the coin though, Roland Birkmeyer had been threatening to end a life. If Carl hadn’t killed the magus, he might have baptized the Aurelia in flames. Though it may have justified his actions, it did nothing to help take away the regret and self-loathing that had come from killing someone.

Was there a way to end this without killing Sol Invictus? Someone had obviously beaten him before and placed him in the Spider. For weeks he had lived under the same roof as Carl and never harmed anyone. It was painfully obvious now that he could only be contained if he wanted to be contained and right now, Carl doubted if the madman wanted to be contained…

Sol Invictus caught one of Gideon’s fists and unleashed a torrent of energy from it. The attack was harmless—Gideon’s cells absorbed the energy and fueled the cannon retracted into his arm. Gideon responded by overpowering him and pinning his arm to the ground.

Carl caught faint movement out of the corner of his eye: there was destruction all around them and a metal beam once hidden under drywall now shuddered. He had seen Sol Invictus manipulate magnetism before, in the hospital, and realized that if he attacked with something other than energy blasts, Gideon might not be able to shrug it off. Carl raised a warning cry as he sprinted forward. Gideon turned to face him and the beam slammed into the side of his face.

Carl stopped dead in his tracks as he watched the beam take Gideon’s head off. The android’s decapitated body slumped across Sol Invictus’ legs and the madman was forced to wriggle free of the corpse.

“Gideon?” Carl asked hopelessly.

“Your last hope is gone,” Sol Invictus proclaimed as he steadily rose to his feet. Carl ran forward and retrieved the head; he cradled the electronic skull in his arms like it were a newborn baby. “He’s gone.”

“No,” Carl insisted. It didn’t matter that Sol Invictus was standing over the body—Carl raced to where the rest of his roommate had fallen. “I’ve seen him bounce back from injuries before.” He put the head to the neck and prayed for some sort of technological marvel to play itself out before him. “His body will repair itself…”

“He was a Sentry,” Sol Invictus intoned, “a newer model of a construct originally built to hunt people like us, Carl. Though truly spectacular, their kind is far from immaculate. The skull contains the system’s memory: it tells the body when it needs repairs and how to make those repairs. Separate the head and a Sentry unit is nothing more than heap for the scrap yards.”

“No!” Carl said, repeatedly stabbing Gideon’s head into his neck. “He has to be fine! He has to!”

“He is unimportant, Carl. He was a distraction. You no longer need him; you have me.”

Carl ignored him and focused instead on trying to jumpstart Gideon’s repair process. He placed the head to the body and held it in place with the soles of his feet. Leaning back, he took aim with his hand and unleashed a blast of light at it. He hoped that somehow his powers might trigger some sort of protocol installed in Gideon’s kind.

“I can teach you so much about your abilities, Carl—all of them! More so than anyone at this school could ever hope to… If you’ll only just join me!”

“I’d never join you! You’re a killer!”

Sol Invictus nodded solemnly. “And so are you.” Carl looked at him in wonder. “I know all about Roland Birkmeyer, Carl.”

“How?” he asked. Still sitting on the floor, he crawled backwards away from Sol Invictus now. “How could you possibly know about that?”

“I saw it happen. What? You didn’t think I went straight to the Spider after arriving in this time period, did you?” He chuckled and his laughter reverberated against the metal wall of his mask. “I’ve been observing you for sometime—even after I was imprisoned, Carl. The range of my powers—their precision—is so great that I’m able to manipulate energy from miles away. Didn’t you wonder how the handcuffs came off of Candace so easily? Me. The cuffs that you were in just minutes ago? Me. Don’t you understand, Carl? You’re the reason I came here…”

“And you came here from the future?”

The masked man nodded.

“You came back in time, because of me, and Gideon was sent here to stop you?”

“In my time, you are a legend. You, your children, your children’s children… Generations of legends will spring from you, Carl. From your bloodline, the Jovian Empire will be born.

“The empire I rule.

“Our bloodline could be so much stronger though if only it weren’t so diluted. I came to this time line seeking power, Carl. More power than I currently wield.”

“I don’t understand…”

“A Neo-Sapien receives their powers from one or more parent, Carl. Your children will be blessed with the powers you possess and they will have enough sense to mate with Neo-Sapiens who have other abilities. Those children will be born with the powers in your genetic template and in another’s, and if they likewise mate with a powerful Neo-Sapien, their children will be gods.”

Carl felt like throwing up. “You want to breed Neo-Sapiens?”

Sol Invictus nodded. “It could have begun sooner, had you not condemned yourself to life with an Esper—a woman with no genetic ability to bestow on her children.”

“Candace,” Carl said, realizing who Sol Invictus meant. He couldn’t help but smile. “I end up with Candace…”

“You need to forget about her!” Sol Invictus snapped. “I have purposefully left her alive but if you do not do as I say, he life will be forfeited! I have found you a suitable consort. There is an American girl currently enrolled at the Vienna school. Her name is Eve-”

“You’re insane!”

“So I’ve been told.”

“I don’t even know this Eve girl! How can you be sure she’ll want to… to be with me?”

From behind his dented mask, Sol Invictus fixed Carl with a blank look. “Who said she’d have a choice in the matter?” Sol Invictus asked matter-of-factly.

Carl was shaking his head before the madman could finish his sentence. “No,” he said. “No, I won’t do that-”

“Then Candace dies!”


“It’s pretty black and white here, Carl: hold onto your noble ideals or give in to that little voice inside your head. Be the hero and watch helpless as your loved ones suffer or save them by joining me in the darkness!”

“I choose to be the hero,” Carl growled, “but you’re not going to lay a finger on Candace.” An aura of bright light surrounded Carl then. “I’m going to stop you, right here and right now, before you hurt anyone else.”

“You’re certainly welcome to try.”
To Be Continued... wrote:"Good eye, sniper
Now I shoot, you run
The words you scribbled on the walls
With the loss of friends you didn't have
I'll call you when the time is right
Are you in or are you out?
For them all to know the end of us all..."

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1173

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:34 pm

Chapter LXXIII: A Favor House Atlantic
A guttural cry left Carl’s lips as he exploded forward. He was moving faster—faster than he had ever moved before. All around him, reality was moving at a snail’s pace: debris crumbled and dust fell at a sluggish rate. Most importantly, Sol Invictus looked like a statue standing before him.

Carl slammed his fist into the man’s gut and immediately hurried around his opponent. Before Sol Invictus could even begin to double over, Carl swung his leg around and hooked his foot into the back of the masked man’s knee. From there, he continued to move until he was facing the man’s back; raising his arm up, he folded the limb in and dropped his elbow down and between Sol Invictus’ shoulder blades.

The speed he had moved with diminished. Sol Invictus cried out and doubled over, only for his left leg to give out. He cried out again and spasmed as he felt the blow from behind. Stunned by the onslaught, the madman collapsed to the floor.

Watching his back heave told Carl he was still alive—still a threat. Acting fast, Carl grabbed the man’s wrists and stepped into the middle of his back. There, Carl began to pull the limbs. Sol Invictus cried out and unleashed twin torrents of energy from his palms. He tried to twist his wrists in Carl’s grasp—tried to aim his hands at his opponent to connect with a beam of energy. Before he was able to clip Carl with an attack, the pair heard twin pops that heralded the dislocation of Sol Invictus’ shoulders.

Carl tumbled off of Sol Invictus as the man flailed in a wild attempt to pick himself up. As the masked man rolled onto his side, Carl skidded back and armed himself with Gideon Newton’s severed head. Sol Invictus bucked himself up to a kneeling position just as Carl began to charge him with the skull. A savage war cry exploded from him as he swung the head into Sol Invictus’ masked face—further collapsing the once ornate visage.

Sol Invictus staggered back from the blow and Carl watched as blood ran down the man’s neck and into the pair of blue scrubs he had pilfered during his escape from the Spider. “Will…” Sol Invictus fought to speak now. “Will you kill me… like Roland Birkmeyer?” Carl hesitated to continue the barrage. “Perhaps… cripple me… like Raanan Lumanta?”

Carl looked down at himself: his hands were covered in blood. He had dented in his roommate’s decapitated head while employing it as a weapon. Was this who he wanted to be?

Was this who he really was?

“If you don’t stop me, how can you be sure she’ll ever be safe?”

He wanted to protect Candace but at what cost?

“Don’t you see, Carl? There’s no way to escape it: you’re a monster.” Sol Invictus started to laugh and descended into a fit of coughing. Only once he had it under control did he continue. “It’s like I told you—right before I nuked the Spider: I want to see just how similar you and I actually are!”

Carl dropped Gideon’s head. “I’m nothing like you. Nothing.”

“It’s futile to lie to me: we’re two sides of the same coin, you and I…”

“We’re nothing alike!”

“Wake up, all ready!”

“I have!” Carl snapped. “You wanna know what futile is!?! Futile is wasting your breath trying to get someone to do what you know they’re never going to do! You told me I had to choose between black and white and I chose gray! I beat you—I beat you all by myself! I refuse to let you hurt anyone else and I refuse to become what you are!

“If anyone needs to wake up and face reality, it’s you!”

Sol Invictus exploded then; his entire body was swallowed by an emerald inferno.

Carl leapt back out of sheer surprise but then curiosity drew him in. This was an effect he had seen before—it was the same energy the late Lloyd Hilton wielded. Lloyd was dead but in his ignorance, Carl could not fathom who else could have evoked such an effect. “Lloyd?” he timidly asked.

A figure was rising up from out of the ashes that had been Sol Invictus. The flames licked every inch of the diminutive figure but hardly immolated her in the manner they had Sol Invictus. Only when they were extinguished did Carl recognize her as the old woman he had seen so long ago in the maximum security ward of the Spider.

“Who… who are you?” he asked.

The old woman regarded him with a piercing stare, as if sizing him up. When she was satisfied, a pleased smile dawned on her face. “My name is Blanche Gareth,” she intoned. “I’m a friend of your grandfather’s.”
To Be Continued... wrote:"Ignoring the words of your obnoxious little brother;
kill or be killed spilled the words from your mother.
I'll lay awake for a while.
I'll leave the light on a while.
But you couldn't last a lifetime.
Caught between here and the days of it.
Carving her name across your arm.
With every wish, it's hit or miss... her.
I told you so.
I measured distance in lines departing the rest of my life."

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1174

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:36 pm

Chapter LXXIV: The Light & the Glass
“My grandfather?” Carl asked. “I don’t have a grandfather. I’m an orphan-”

“And being an orphan means you don’t have a grandfather?” Blanche shook her head at him. It seemed that whatever impression he had made on her was now abolished. “Think about it, Carl: your parents left you at a hospital in Ohio. It wasn’t as though they died a horrible death and left you behind and alone: they gave you up.

“They gave you up… and they are still alive…”

There were so many questions Carl wanted to ask. He wanted to know who they were and why they abandoned him. He wanted to know where they were now and if they’d had any other children. Still, at his core, he was skeptical: “How do you know all this?”

“As I said: I’m a friend of your grandfather. He’s been looking for you, Carl. He asked me to come here—to test you and see if you were ready to join his side…”

“Test me?” Carl asked. “I don’t understand-”

“All of this? Your fight with Raanan, the Spider, Sol Invictus… This is all a dream, Carl. You’re still at the New Vindicators Academy. You’re still in your bed.” Carl started backing away, slowly shaking his head. “You just spent the day with Candace Strange, kissed her goodnight and flew over the city. When you wake up, you’ll be getting ready for your appointment with that psychiatrist the school has summoned…”

“No! That… that’s impossible!”

“Is it? Think about the array of powers at your disposal, Carl: think about all that you can do and all you’re unaware that you could do; is it really so out of the question that I have the ability to enter someone’s dreams and manipulate what they encounter there?”

Carl slowly shook his head. “You… you put me through hell… because my grandfather wanted to test me? To see if I was ready to… to join him?”

Blanche nodded.

“The next time you see him, tell him I told him to screw off! Tell him to stay away from me!” Carl stormed towards Blanche with a fury in his eyes. “Eighteen years! Eighteen damn years I’ve been all alone! I’ve bounced from foster home to foster home—been treated like crap—and this whole time he’s known about me? He’s known where I was and what I was going through!?! Why didn’t he come for me sooner, huh!?! Why the hell didn’t my dear old grandpa show up when I was nothing more than a meal ticket to some strung out junkies who knew how to con a social worker or two!?!

“Go back to him and tell him that he was never there for me… and I’m okay with that! Tell him that I have a family: that I have friends who I’d do anything for and would do anything for me! Friends whose deaths his friend made me dream about! Friends he indirectly threatened in order to test me!

“Go back to my grandpa and tell him that if he’d shown up ten or twelve—hell, even a year ago!—I would have jumped at the chance to be with someone I could call my family. Tell him that coming to me now? Tell him it’s too little, too late…

“Go back to my grandpa and tell him that I turned out just fine, despite him and my parents pretending I never existed. And tell him that if it’s all the same to him, I’d like to spend the rest of my life pretending that they never existed.

“But most of all? Just go.”

Blanche stood frozen for a moment, unsure what more to say to ease the young man’s ire. Finally, she bowed her head in acquiesce. “I will relay your message for him,” she said, “but be warned: your grandfather is a very proud man who will not take this well.”

“Well, I don’t take people manipulating my dreams well,” Carl hissed. “Get lost.”

Green flames devoured the woman. She was gone and Carl woke up in his bed at the New Vindicators Academy of America…
To Be Continued... wrote:"In our sleep, there's more to this nightmare.
Will she beg for your mercy?
Slowly but sure, I'm hoping what comes in the absence of love.
At night, she'll kick and she'll fight, should they fill in his sight?
At night, I'll worry from all, the end of us all."

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1175

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:38 pm

Chapter LXXV: 21:13
Before his Neo-Sapien powers had manifested midway through his freshman year of high school, prompting him to drop out, the Reptile had been getting a D- in Biology 1A. Needless to say, he didn’t understand the exact science behind how a chameleon changed its colors. Understanding why his clothes also shifted to blend in with his surroundings was another enigma he was not qualified to answer. There was nothing special about the baggy pants, ill-fitting T-shirt or ratty overcoat he wore—had he been wearing a tuxedo or swim trunks, those would have blended in too—they just blended along with his skin.

At the moment, his skin and his clothes both looked blue-black. Patriot Robotics’ sublevels were cloaked in shadows and—so long as he walked in them—so was he.

The Reptile crawled along the ceiling—another aspect of his unique physiology—looking for anything remotely promising. He still wasn’t exactly sure what he was supposed to be looking for: all Magnus Loder had told him was that they were investigating what role Autumn Colbenson had in Doctor Noah Meinstein’s shadier projects.

According to Magnus, the barrier that had surrounded New York City during the White War had been the product of one such experiment: The Boys were a trio of children made from Autumn Colbenson’s DNA and given the ability to generate an impenetrable barrier of incredible magnitude.

It was Autumn’s raw power that made her genetic material the secret ingredient in Boost, a drug once peddled by the Reptile’s former employer, the Wisent. He couldn’t help but wonder now if Doctor Meinstein had known that the Wisent and his generals were Neo-Sapiens before he began to work with them.

Magnus Loder said that Knitter and the Zero armor were also byproducts of Autumn Colbenson’s mysterious abilities. What those were and how those abilities played into those projects was what the Reptile was now tasked with uncovering…

Skittering along the ceiling of sublevel five, he swayed into a chamber set to recognize spikes in temperature. Cold-blooded as he was, the Reptile went through undetected and soon found himself sitting in front of a computer.

Prior to the Wisent’s arrest, these were the sort of missions the Reptile had gone on. What he didn’t know about how his powers functioned, he made up for in computer-savvy. In no time he had bypassed Doctor Meinstein’s security and was perusing the most surreptitious of the man’s files.

The information the Reptile was reading was the sort of thing that would topple Patriot Robotics if released. It was the sort of thing the Wisent would have used to blackmail the man with; it felt strange to be working towards altruistic goals for once.

Copying all of the information onto his portable drive, the Reptile sprang out of the chair and was on the ceiling again. He had the data—now he just had to get out!

Scurrying back along the ceiling, he scanned the mental map he’d made getting in and tried to make his way to the ventilation shaft he’d used to gain access. Somewhere along the way, he must have taken a wrong turn: he ended up in a corridor he couldn’t remember having passed through before. Worse, he could hear footsteps coming towards him…

The Reptile remained motionless as he hung above the pair. “-had all of the activation codes memorized,” the woman said. “Without him, we’ll need to access Black Box’s network to get it.”

The Reptile recognized the woman as Doctor Cheryl Colbenson. For a time, she had acted as the Director of the Department of SPB Affairs. The young man with her was an enigma though, as was why he was staring straight at the Reptile…

“Doctor?” the boy said casually. His hand went to his hip—to a pistol—and the Reptile’s stereoscopic eyes bulged. “We are not alone.”

The man drew his firearm and shot at where the Reptile had been. He owed his continued existence to his lightning reflexes and for those, he owed the western fence lizard. Dropping to the floor, his camouflage faded and the pair were able to taken in the sight of his hairless, scaly, pale-green form.

The Reptile wasted no time in retreating into the shadows and his ambusher wasted no time in discharging his weapon after him. The man was a good shot and might have hit, were it not for the elusive, zig-zagging manner in which the Reptile was accustomed to moving. “Stop it, Tinnitus!” Doctor Colbenson commanded. “You could ricochet and hit one of us or damage the equipment kept down here!”

Unwilling to let the Reptile escape, Tinnitus took off at a run. The intruder could hear his heavy footfalls pounding across the steel grates that passed for flooring here. On foot, he was no match for the Reptile’s speed. He had read once that the spiny-tailed iguana of Costa Rica was the fastest reptile on land; clocked at twenty-one miles per hour, the Reptile was able to move just as fast as his Central American cousin.

In no time he had left Tinnitus and Doctor Colbenson far behind him… but he still had no inkling how to escape the labyrinthine tunnels buried below Manhattan’s Herald Square…
To Be Continued... wrote:Doctor Colbenson has another family reunion...

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters Galore!

Post by Michuru81 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:41 pm

Hi! Remember me? Probably not. I haven't been well. [coughs] See?

Anyway, there's an abundance of new chapters up. Seven, if my math is right (it probably isn't). They start here and end the little sidetrip Carl takes. Hopefully this one doesn't cause as much confusion as the last two...

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters Galore!

Post by Arkrite » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:01 pm

Michuru81 wrote:Hi! Remember me? Probably not. I haven't been well. [coughs] See?
Prettygirlitus? ;~)

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapters Galore!

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:51 am

Arkrite wrote:
Michuru81 wrote:Hi! Remember me? Probably not. I haven't been well. [coughs] See?
Prettygirlitus? ;~)
If only... I like that sickness.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1176

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:03 pm


Chapter LXXVI: All the Right Moves
“Forgive me, Doctor,” Tinnitus intoned, “but I still do not understand what it is we’re doing down here.”

“Ward told us that the best way to find Phase was to take this Wellor girl from the New Vindicators’ Academy, and we still have a sleeper agent there at the school we can activate. Trouble is, Phase had all of the activation codes memorized,” the woman said. “Without him, we’ll need to access Black Box’s network to get it.”

“Doctor?” The blonde woman turned and saw Tinnitus frozen in place. His eyes were on the shadow-drenched ceiling; his hand was inching towards his pistol. “We are not alone.”

A figure exploded from where Tinnitus sent a volley of bullets. The creature had a reptilian appearance it tried to hide beneath a ragged overcoat. As it landed, it’s pale-green skin began to turn darker—almost to the point the creature was blending into the shadows.

The intruder wasted no time in retreating into the shadows and Tinnitus wasted no time in discharging his weapon after him. “Stop it, Tinnitus!” she commanded. “You could ricochet and hit one of us or damage the equipment kept down here!”

Still, it was imperative they not let the interloper escape and Tinnitus knew it. Charging after the trespasser, Tinnitus had left Cheryl alone and unguarded this far deep in Noah Meinstein’s shrine to bygone sanity.

Unwilling to be caught in such a precarious situation with an obvious Neo-Sapien on the loose, Cheryl ducked behind the nearest door and trusted Tinnitus’ clairaudience to help him locate her later.

Behind the door, the woman froze in awe of what awaited her here: she had heard about them—read about them—but never actually seen them face-to-face…

Three chambers rested in the room, arranged in a triangle. The orange solution each was filled with functioned as a filter for the dull, muted lights that bathed the room in amber. Rigging above each tank supported three identical boys of about twelve or thirteen years; their bodies were perfectly submerged up to their necks. Totally nude, wires and tubes and cables traveled down and into their bodies. Never having known an existence off of those machines, their skin had begun to grow over and up those tubes.

Cheryl knew their history: cloned from the cells of two Nephilim—two of Samael’s children… The father had been a Vindicator and their mother had been Cheryl’s half-sister, Autumn...

These boys were her nephews.

A sneer flashed over Cheryl’s face as she thought about the connection she shared with them. Immediately, she turned, intent to go back to the hall. “Are you a girl?” one of the boys asked.

The doctor froze with her hands on the handle and shuddered at the thought of conversing with these genetically engineered children. “Yes,” she said.

“I met a girl once,” the boy said. “Her name was Alexa. Do you have a name too?”

She wasn’t about to give them her real name, on the off-chance they mentioned her appearance her to Doctor Meinstein. “My name is Lee Ann.” It conjured memories of her grandmother: the woman purported that she had been in love with the name since the 1955 Miss America pageant. She had wanted to name one of the daughters Lee Ann, after Lee Meriwether, but her husband had vetoed the name each time.

If she ever had a daughter, Cheryl decided, she would name it Lee Ann…

“My name is Nod Meinstein,” the boy said. “These are my brothers, Wynken and Blynken.”

“Are you a friend of daddy’s?” Wynken asked.

“Yes,” Cheryl said warily. “I work for your daddy. He asked me to come down here to find something he left here.” Looking at them, she could tell that they lacked the capability to move from this room; it was unlikely they would be any help in locating the hard copy of Black Box’s files. “I should return to looking for them…”

Before she had to endure the boys’ presence any longer, Cheryl tugged at the door and threw herself through it. On the other side she was greeted by shadows and silence—hosts she found far more welcoming than her sister’s children.

It may have been careless of her to wander off on her own; she had no powers of her own and with an intruder on the floor, making her way without Tinnitus’ hearing to warn her of incoming danger was a foolish endeavor. Still, given how adroit the lizard-like intruder had appeared to be, she suspected he had snuck in alone.

Still, she moved about the level as quietly as she could manage. She didn’t want to alert anyone to her presence if she could help it. Eventually, she turned a corner and gave a start when Tinnitus emerged from the shadows up ahead. “My apologies, doctor,” he intoned grimly, “the intruder eluded me.

“Should we alert Doctor Meinstein?”

“And have to explain what we were doing down here?” she asked. “No, Tinnitus. Let’s just find the hard copies and get the activation code…” She looked over her shoulder. Her nephews had left her more unsettled than the intruder’s appearance had. “The sooner we can get out of here, the better…”
To Be Continued... wrote:Carl.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1177

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:05 pm

Chapter LXXVII: A Bad Dream
“And then I woke up.”

“And that was… last night?” Doctor Bell asked.

Carl nodded. “I had just got in from the most amazing night ever, fell asleep, had that dream and… when I woke up, it was time to come here. What do you think it means?”

It took the woman a moment to answer. “It depends,” the middle-aged woman finally said. “If we look at this purely as a dream, then I think it means you’re afraid of getting your teammates killed.”

Carl looked at her with a surprised expression. “Look, I… I get that you were brought in to talk to us after what happened to Lloyd, but I-”

“Think about it, for a second Carl: Billy Cold? A boy who’s always out of time? Gregaro’s abilities revolve around him being cold and he was torn from his own time. The one who claimed to be a reincarnated Nazi? Will Loder was forced to serve his father—the Fuhrer—back in the 1940’s. He lived an entire life and then was put back into the body of a teenage boy—reincarnated, as it were. Christmas Clark possesses a plethora of mental abilities and Valentine was a hypochondriac: someone who thinks they have a plethora of conditions. Rachel killed her father; Adam’s hydrophobia hints that he’s an allegory for the hydrokinetic John… The list goes on and on, Carl…

“You took every one of your teammates and assigned them a role in your dream, then watched as your subconscious killed them all off, one-by-one. That’s survivor’s guilt, Carl.”

Carl said nothing: his gaze locked onto the books that lined the headmaster’s office—loaned to Doctor Bell today for the purpose of analyzing everyone involved in the events that led to Lloyd Hilton’s death.

“But that’s if your dream was nothing more than a dream,” Doctor Bell intoned, snapping his attention back to her. “You said that this woman—Blanche?—that she told you she had the ability to enter and influence a person’s dreams. If that’s true, then maybe your dream meant nothing, Carl. It’s entirely possible that everything you experienced was cooked up by a woman and designed to drive you mad.”

“You think she’s real?” Carl asked. Judging from the look on his face, he found the notion of Blanche Gareth’s existence to be a ludicrous one. “You think an old woman can twist dreams and decided to come play around in my head?”

“I think that my daughter can create invisible barriers harder than steel and that you can fly and shoot beams of light from your hands. I think that I was greeted by a talking gorilla when I arrived here this morning. I’m not sure how, in spite of all that, a woman who can control a person’s dreams is so farfetched.

“I think it’s certainly possible that this woman exists and that she did what she did because your biological grandfather asked her to.” She frowned. “Why? Why don’t you think that’s in the realm of possibilities?”

The blonde boy sighed. “I just figured I’m nuts.”

“Because of what you dreamed?”

“Because what I dreamed isn’t too far from reality,” Carl said. “In the dream, when I snapped and unloaded on Raanan? Honestly, every time I see him, I have to tell myself not to do that. Sometimes, I hear this voice just… urging me to do things that I know I shouldn’t do.”

“Everyone has that,” Doctor Bell said. “Ever hear of a thing called a ‘conscience’? Everyone has to wrestle with right and wrong: they think about taking a little out of the register or speeding down an empty road at night.”

“I don’t know,” Carl said, “mine just feels different… It’s like there’s this whole other side to me—another person or something—and I have to hold him back.

“It feels like I’m losing too. After everything that’s happened—not just… what happened to Lloyd…” He took a deep breath and admitted, “I killed someone. He—his name was Roland Birkmeyer and he was a student here once. If he hadn’t left the school, he would been a senior, just like me. We would have had classes together. I don’t know if we would have been friends but… he… he was the same age as me and I…” Carl started to cry. “I killed him. I took his stupid knife and I stabbed him with it and he died! He died and his blood is on my hands!”

“And that’s when you started hearing the voice?”

Carl shook his head. “No, I’ve been hearing it for years. I just… I think I hear it more now.”

“Carl, Doctor Howell supplied me with files on you and each of your teammates—explaining your powers and abilities and summarizing what you’ve been through so far. As I understand it, Mister Birkmeyer was threatening to kill one of the Vindicators—the Aurelia, yes?”

“She’d been clawed up, she was covered in blood-”

“And Mister Birkmeyer was threatening to use his powers to burn her, wasn’t he? And you stopped him?” Doctor Bell sighed. “I can’t tell you how to feel about what happened,” she said, “but I can try to tell you to remember that your actions saved someone.”

“I could have found another way,” Carl muttered. “I should have… I should have done… I don’t know. I just know I shouldn’t have killed him.” He shrugged. “Maybe Sol Invictus was right: maybe I am just like him…”

“I don’t think you are.”

Carl looked up at her with disbelieving eyes.

“Think about it: in your dream, Doctor Howell urged you to give in to the voice; Sol Invictus tried to get you to behave like him—tried to give you the ultimatum of… kill him or rape a girl you’d never met! If we assume that this Blanche character is a real person and not just something your subconscious cooked up, then we might assume that she was controlling them. Doctor Howell and Sol Invictus told you to give in because that’s what it said they say on the script this woman wrote.

“How do you explain Maxwell Swift then? If she had total control, then he wouldn’t have been telling you to stick your head in the sand and ignore everything that’s happening… Carl, I think that when everything else is telling you to just let go—to give in to your urges—your subconscious is fighting against all of that. There may be a part of you that’s just like Sol Invictus—a side that wants to hurt people like Raanan Lumanta—but there’s another side to you, Carl: a side that beats itself up because of how things ended for Roland Birkmeyer.

“Like I said, Carl: everyone has to wrestle with the urge to go against what we know is right—there’s nothing wrong with that. You said you thought you were nuts because of what you’re compelled to do? I think you’re sane for resisting those urges.”

Carl grinned sheepishly. “Thanks; that’s the first time someone’s ever said I was sane.”

Doctor Bell shrugged. “And probably the first time anyone with the credentials to back it up has.”

‘If she only knew,’ the voice in Carl’s head chuckled.
To Be Continued... wrote:John.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1178

Post by Michuru81 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:07 pm

Chapter LXXVIII: We Cry
Thirteen minutes had passed since John had first sat down. For thirteen minutes, Doctor Bell had calmly watched as John sat, slumped forward, gazing down into his folded hands. For fifteen minutes, neither doctor or patient said a word. “I’m sorry,” John said in an almost whispered tone, “I’ve never been to a shrink before. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”

“You say whatever you want. We’re here to talk about what you’re feeling inside, John.”

“I’m not sure what I’m feeling.”

“Why don’t we start with what happened on Governor’s Island. Why don’t you tell me what you remember?”

John shrugged. “Gregaro and I were going around, looking for any kind of water craft Absalom or Justice might have used to get there from Roosevelt Island. When we found something, we fuggin’ wrecked it. I used my powers to capsize it while Gregaro started stripping down. The cold hit and I couldn’t concentrate enough to use my powers after that. He just waded out into the water—started to freeze it… When he finished, he was trapped in the ice. I crawled out to him with his coat but that didn’t do any good. I mean, he was still stuck… I started trying to break the ice and… that’s when he told me to move it.

“My power lets me command water and what’s ice? Water in a different state is a still water, right?” John’s shoulders rose and sagged as a sigh as equally apathetic as his gesture escaped his lips. “Funny how I never thought about my fuggin’ powers like that but Gregaro did… A guy I haven’t known but a couple of months had my powers down better than I did…”

“So, it worked? You were able to manipulate the ice and free him?”

John gave the woman a short nod. “It was hard but… yeah. I’ve been trying ever since—to manipulate ice. I even locked myself in the showers—covered every vent with towels and ran hot water to see if I could command the steam. Turns out, it’s a lot easier for me to command it in its liquid state but… yeah, I can control ice or steam.”

“Well, that’s certainly good,” Doctor Bell said, feigning enthusiasm. “It sounds as if you’re making strides in how to use your powers…”

John bowed his head; his hair swayed as he shook his head. “Mister Loder came into the kitchen while I was working on the ice: I was using the fridge’s ice maker to give me cubes and just… trying to make them float into a glass I’d left out. He told me that if I could learn to shape the ice first—sharpen it—and then worked on my aim, I’d be another step towards being a super-villain…”

“Hmm,” Doctor Bell mused; it was difficult to assess whether or not John was exaggerating the former Vindicator’s sentiments or whether he had fabricated them entirely. In her experience, teenagers tended to imprint negativity and disapproval on those in authority over them. “Why do you think he said that?”

“I don’t think,” John hissed, “I know: my cousin Pete used to go here years back. Man, everyone was so freaking proud of him when he graduated; he got accepted into medical school—was going to be a fuggin’ doctor… Then, he just quit. He dropped out of school, decided being a fuggin’ terrorist was a better career path and kidnapped Miss Bedford.

“Mister Loder was one of the students here at the time—one of the ones who fought Pete…” John frowned. “Guess Mister Loder thinks the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree?”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“How the hell do you think it makes me feel!?!” John snapped. His head snapped back up and eyes brimming with rage locked onto the psychiatrist. “The guy I looked up to half my fuggin’ life turned into a fuggin’ terrorist and my teachers think I’ll turn out the same! You know that Mister Loder and Miss Bedford are supposed to be teaching us about our powers? Maybe that’s why Gregaro was the one to teach me that I could do so much more with my abilities: they resent me for being related to the guy they fought—the guy who kidnapped them…”

“Have you considered talking with the headmaster? Express how you perceive your teachers-”

“Why? What good will it do? Mister Loder and Miss Bedford are the ones who are supposed to be training us. Who else’ll do it?

“I complain about them and then what? I’m dropped from the team, put by myself?”

Doctor Bell saw the opening and took it: “You don’t like being alone, do you, John?”

“Does anyone?”

“Sometimes, I like a little time to myself—to gather my thoughts or read…”

“Yeah, well, we’re talking about two completely different things…”

“Why don’t you tell me what we’re talking about?”

John rolled back the sleeve of his shirt and thrust his arm out to the side. There, burnt into his arm, were five digits: 00048.

It was no surprise to Doctor Bell: John’s file told the tale of how he had come to the New Vindicators Academy of America after he had been extracted from the concentration camp in Peoria. Upon his entry, those numbers had been burned into his arm, marking him as a Neo-Sapien to anyone who knew what they meant.

“Black Box raided this school and walked out the door with the files. They had everything on my cousin—they knew who his parents were and knew there was chance his relatives were also Neo-Sapiens! They came to my house! They came after my folks! My dad tried to fight them—he tried to use his powers to buy mom and me time to escape…

“They killed him. They killed him and they kept coming… Mom didn’t have any powers and I did. Not long after the White War, Pete showed up looking for a place to lay low and I… My powers manifested trying to get him to leave. I told her that I could fight them and…”

John fought to hold back the tears as he confided in Doctor Bell what he hadn’t even told his teammates. “I woke up in Peoria. I’d tried to fight them and I…” John kept his head bowed: in his mind, men didn’t cry and he wouldn’t let the woman see him weep. “I went down and my mom…”

Silence blanketed the room like a light dusting of snow on a cold winter’s night. “It’s not your fault, John,” Doctor Bell said softly.

John ignored her: if he argued, she would argue with him. “The New Vindicators eventually came and freed me—took me to Canada and then Montana and then back here… When this year started, I made friends: Max and Lloyd. Max is gone and Lloyd…”

“Lloyd’s death wasn’t your fault either, John.”

“I could have stopped him! Gregaro tried to tell Miss Bedford to hold him back! I could have stood up for Gregaro! I could have made Lloyd come with us or…” He couldn’t hold it back anymore: he started to cry. “What’s the point of…? My dad’s dead, my mom’s dead, my friends are either dead or in a nut house or…”

“What about the friends you had back home in Buffalo?” Doctor Bell asked. “Before Black Box-”

“You mean before a small militia kicked in the door, guns blazing, to cart off the speebs?” John rolled his eyes. “Yeah, they were real understanding about that…”

“Your aunt and uncle? Peter’s parents?”

“Why do you think Pete came to see my parents instead of his?” he asked. “His died a couple years ago…” John shuddered. “Everyone I care about dies. They die or they get taken to a nut house or they become a terrorist or… or something!” His fists pounded the couch cushions flanking him. “I’m so sick of fuggin’ losing people!”

“I know it’s hard-”

“No,” John growled, “it’s not hard…

“It’s not right.

“My mom and dad didn’t do anything wrong and Black Box killed them, just because my dad was a Neo-Sapien.

“Lloyd didn’t do anything wrong and Absalom killed him, just because he was a Nephilim.

“I keep thinking that maybe Pete knew what he was doing when he joined up against the Affiliation. I mean, they fight against this kind of crap, don’t they? They’re the ones trying to take down Black Box and people like Absalom—people who hate us just because we’re different.

“I have a lot of time to think lately—what with everyone I ever cared about being ripped away from me—and honestly, I keep coming back to that: maybe the Affiliation’s right.” John shrugged. “And maybe Mister Loder’s got me pegged afterall.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Christmas.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1179

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:43 pm

Chapter LXXIX: Say It Ain’t So
Doctor Bell smiled as Christmas cautiously made her way from the door to the couch. “Hello, Miss Clark,” the psychiatrist intoned, “it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Hi,” the dark-headed woman said as she took her seat. “So, you’re, uh… you’re Rissa’s mom?”

The woman’s graying head dipped forward in imitation of a nod. “You know my little girl?”

“Kind of,” Christmas said. “We, uh… we fought together. Until a few months back, at least…”

“It’s a pity,” Doctor Bell said, looking down at the manila folder she’d been provided on the young woman before her. “I imagine you could have been a great inspiration for her. She always wrestled with her body image… I see you’ve lost quite a lot of weight in the last year?”

Christmas shrugged. “When I left my parents and took a bunch of runaway Espers on the road? Things were tight; food was rationed… I started working out more over the summer.”

“It’s very commendable. If you don’t mind my asking, how much have you lost so far?”

“I was two-hundred and fifty-seven pounds when we left Peoria,” Christmas admitted, “and I was at one-seventy-four when I hopped on the scale this morning. Still got some ways to go though: fifty-four more pounds and I’m at my target…”

“You weighed yourself this morning?”

Christmas nodded. “Every morning.”

“That doesn’t strike you as a bit… obsessive?”

“Nah, it’s a motivator. I mean, you know those stories where someone loses a lot of weight and then they just fall back into old habits and put it all back on? That’s not going to be how my story ends.”

“And how does your story end?”

Christmas closed her mouth and silence wafted under the door and into the room. “Christmas?” Doctor Bell asked. It had been a simple enough question—she hadn’t expected such a strong response from it. “What’s wrong?”

“My story—how it ends… You… won’t tell anyone, right? I mean, that’s how this works: if I tell you something, it doesn’t go any further?” It was only when the woman nodded that Christmas took a deep breath and released what she’d been holding in for so long… “We—your daughter, me and our—a few of our teammates… Bul—the Curler—and Wilt, the Aurelia and Hourglass… The six of us were looking for someone and we found him. He saw the uniforms and panicked, so he used his powers… He put everyone to sleep and made us dream these vivid dreams where our lives turned out just like we wanted. Anyway, for the most part, the others dreamed about living normal lives: getting married, having kids, not burying classmates every other week… Me? I dreamed that I killed them all. I dreamed that I was the most powerful being on Earth and that no one could stop me.

“What if that’s how the story ends?” Christmas asked. “I mean, ever since that guy went into my head and unlocked my potential—gave me the power to use the power of any Esper I met—I’ve realized how strong I am. I mean, there was a girl who used to go here… She’s dead now—big surprise—but Julia’s power was telekinesis: she could move things with her mind. She never really used her abilities to their fullest though. Using her powers? I can fly. I can surround myself with a force field that repels physical matter. I can pick a person up and throw them and that…” She sighed. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“I can read minds, switch bodies, form a sword out of nothing, make you think you’re seeing things that aren’t there… I single-handedly took down the Basileus. Yeah, I needed Crusader’s body and some magical artifacts to do it but… that was all me up there. Me and no one else.

“I’m probably the strongest person on Earth and I get a little stronger every day—every time I meet another Esper…”

“And you feel tempted to… be the person you dreamed about being?”

Christmas shrugged. “Sometimes. I mean, after everything I did, they just left me here. I’ve stood up to the Fuhrer and the Sixth Reich—twice—and saved the world from the Basileus. But that’s apparently not enough to warrant a spot on the Vindicators’ roster. Last summer, when Deimos attacked, Dave told me to enjoy the time I had left—to be a kid—but I’m not a kid anymore. Everything I’ve been through forced me to grow up and I just can’t… I can’t just go back to being the fat girl hopelessly in love with a talking rock, y’know?”

“You want to be a Vindicator? Why don’t you just look at this year as an opportunity to become a better one? You could focus on learning new skills or mastering-”

“What? Focus on being a better leader? I lead the Espers here. Work on pushing my powers? I think fighting an all-powerful, wind-manipulating immortal over Chicago is kind of the pinnacle of my training, don’t you?”

“Then maybe cherish the relationships you have. Don’t you have friends here? A boyfriend?”

Christmas started to laugh. “I certainly have a type,” Christmas said. “In one way or another, every guy I’ve ever fallen for wasn’t able to feel me—physically feel me, I mean. First off, there was Connor. Connor’s a rock—he doesn’t feel anything. He’s also a man-child who couldn’t care about anyone but himself.

“Then there was Jordan… Jordan’s powers made it so his bodily fluids are acidic. His kisses would burn your face off and sex was obviously out of the question. After him, I made a move on Owen but flesh-to-flesh contact with him causes him to suck out all the strength and energy in you.

“And now there’s Gideon, the obvious android. His roommate’s girlfriend fixed us up so that they’d have another couple to be around, you know? I sort of liked the idea of being with someone but he’s… well, he’s a robot. I mean, he’s sentient and has free-will or whatever but he’s just so… cold… I mean, I get it: he’s sentient and he has free will but he doesn’t have hormones or any sort of experience to speak of. Even if he knew what to do when a girl practically throws herself at him, his body still isn’t telling him what it wants to do.”

“So, things aren’t working out with him. There are other boys-”

“Boys who won’t feel emasculated being with the most powerful being on Earth?”

“Your friends then-”

“The Espers I brought out of Peoria look to me like I’m their unofficial leader, not a friend. They come to me with their problems—not invitations to go hang out.”

“So, if you can benefit nothing from being here, why endure it? Just because if you make it to your graduation, the Vindicators might take you on?”

“Pretty much,” Christmas admitted.

“And if they don’t take you on?” Doctor Bell asked. “Power is one thing, Christmas but without experience… Have you considered what you’ll do if there’s not a space for you on the team?”

Christmas nodded. “If that day comes… I’m afraid there will be nothing left to hold me back.”
To Be Continued... wrote:Pandora.

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New Vindicators, Chapter 1180

Post by Michuru81 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:44 pm

Chapter LXXX: Bad Day
Doctor Bell looked up when she heard the door open. Pandora Filash oozed confidence as she crossed the room. She wore black sweats under a plaid skirt and a tweed jacket over a Sex Pistols T-shirt. As she sat down, the buttons pinned to the coat’s lapel clinked. “Well,” she said, “let’s get this over with… We’re supposed to talk about Lloyd’s death, right?” She shrugged. “Lloyd was an idiot. It sucks that he’s dead but we weren’t really that close.”

The psychiatrist tapped her lips with the butt of her pen. “Well, I suppose that sums that up.”

“So, we’re done?” Pandora moved to stand and froze when the woman waved for her to sit back down.

“Actually, there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about. A while back, Jude Bellows played a prank on you: he made you believe your dead father was haunting you, correct?”

The purple-haired girl said nothing; she simple stared ahead.

“When Justice came after Mister Swift, you thought that he was after you. Justice was vague: he demanded the killer the New Vindicators were harboring and you assumed this meant you.”

Again, Pandora continued to gaze out the window.

“It doesn’t take a doctorate in clinical psychology to realize that you killed your father Pandora.”

Pandora’s head bowed. Tears rolled down her face.

“Do you want to tell me what-?”

“The son of a bitch got what he deserved,” Pandora growled. She rose to her feet, nodded curtly to the psychiatrist and strode to the door. “Have a good one,” she muttered before slamming the door behind her.
To Be Continued... wrote:Candace.