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NEW VINDICATORS: Book XIII Finished

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.

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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Chapter 1209

Postby Solarflare » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:45 pm

Hi
Just wanted to say how happy I am to see you posting more of the stories.Though I do thing having a certain stone person who should remain nameless should be sure that the shadows are comeing for him.Keep up with the great work
Solarflare
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PREVIEW: tabula rasa

Postby Michuru81 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:09 pm

Hi! Sorry for sort of breaking the flow of the story with this, but I'm kind of jazzed about this...

For the last nine months, my tabletop group has been playing in an alternate future of the Oubliverse--one where the point of divergence is Forrest Bedford walking in on Adonis and Chienne... and then killing them both. Adonis and Chienne's deaths in 2006 set off a chain reaction: the Affiliation is never formed, the White War never happens, Senator Bedford is never assassinated, Black Box never rounds up Neo-Sapiens, Apocatastasis never rises, the Basileus' invasion never occurs...

We call it the Good Universe.

The campaign is set in 2025, where things aren't as depressing as they are here. Anyway, I started to work on a narrative version of this game, and have only been plugging away at it when I need a break. Unlike this narrative, I'll be posting them in massive chunks--a post per session. As I'm not yet done with the first session, I'm just going to post a few scenes here.

So, here it is: NEW VINDICATORS: tabula rasa...

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Drew Jenkins had no delusions about living a normal life. Normal people woke up, showered, brushed their teeth, got dressed, ate breakfast and went to a menial job they hated. After suffering through the work day, they suffered through the commute home where they made small talk with their families. Eventually, they zoned out in front of the television, only to surrender to the need for sleep and the promise that the process would be repeated all over again.

Normal people did not don a Kevlar bodysuit. They did not wear masks designed to protect their identities and they certainly did not manipulate gravitational forces to propel themselves through the air. Drew Jenkins did. Drew Jenkins did many things that normal people did not do, and that was why, for the last nineteen years, Drew Jenkins—or Simulacrum, as he was more widely known—had not considered himself to be normal…

“Give it up, Deimos!” Orbit screamed. It was thanks to her that his feat of flight was at all possible: it was her Neo-Sapien power to command the forces of gravity, and Simulacrum’s power allowed him to mimic the genetic traits of those around him. “You’ve run out of places to run to!”

The Nephilim’s head turned slowly, assessing the truth of her statement: Lodestone hovered to the west while Torrent’s hydrokinesis kept Oxidane in the air in the north. On the ground below, Blitzkrieg was waiting with Prism.

“Make this easy on yourself and surrender.”

Lodestone rolled his eyes at his teammate’s choice in words. “Jeremy relishes making things difficult…”

Simulacrum cringed. He had known Deimos for nineteen years—almost half his life: he knew what effect evoking the Nephilim’s real name would have. Lodestone knew what effect it would have too—that was why he did it. Simulacrum had known Lodestone as long as he had known Deimos, and he knew the Nephilim wasn’t the only one in the sky who was a glutton for punishment.

“My name isn’t Jeremy!” the man roared. An obsidian inferno exploded from his body, baptizing his silhouette in the immolation. “I AM DEIMOS!”

Simulacrum saw the smirk on Lodestone’s face and cringed. “Don’t goad him-”

“You’re an annoying little pain in the ass, is what you are,” Lodestone snapped.

Simulacrum’s arms swept through the air and grabbed a freshly made duplicate. Suddenly, his hair was colored crimson while his copy’s hair was a rich azure. The pair didn’t exchange words—words weren’t needed: one body kept the pair aloft while the other strained to use Lodestone’s own powers against him.

As an ebony comet shattered across the sky, Lodestone was suddenly jerked out of the way. “The hell, Drew!?!” Lodestone thundered as Deimos continued to fly away. Orbit moved to follow, but Simulacrum stopped her with an outthrust arm. “We had him cornered!”

“Emphasis on ‘had’,” Simulacrum said. “Or are you forgetting what happened the last time you egged him on?” As he reabsorbed the duplicate into him, his eyes went to the prosthetic that composed Lodestone’s right arm. While it took only a fraction of the Vindicator’s focus to manipulate the fragmented appendage, it was a chink in his concentration that had allowed Simulacrum to move him out of the way.

Lodestone flew towards Simulacrum, stopping only when they were mere feet from each other. “Deimos is a killer, Drew! He’s a psychopath, and thanks to you, he just got away! Thanks to you, who knows how many people he’s going to kill!?!”

“He’s still wounded from Prism’s-”

“Precisely why you should have let me take him down!”

“I made a promise to Alicia!” Simulacrum thundered. “After what happened the last time… For God’s sake, Magnus, we didn’t know if you would make it or not! When you recovered—when you rejoined the team—she made me promise that I wouldn’t let you do something so stupid again!”

“Guess you broke your promise,” Lodestone hissed. “You did something incredibly stupid, Drew: you let Deimos get away.”

“You set him off. You pushed him, Magnus. You know how his powers work! If he couldn’t keep his emotions in check—if he couldn’t hold his other side back…

“Besides, I didn’t let him escape—not completely.” Simulacrum put a hand over his head. “Still got him, Danny?”

“I’ve got him,” came Blitzkrieg’s response across the communicators.

Simulacrum glared at Lodestone. “He’s stubborn, but he’s not stupid: if he was going to risk it trying to take us all out, he wouldn’t have kept moving. Like I said: he’s injured; he won’t make a move until he’s healed up. Blitzkrieg will keep an eye on him; we give Deimos a little time to calm himself, and then we strike. We do this surgically, though. You try to antagonize him like that again, I’ll recommend you’re suspended from active duty.

“Is that clear?”

Lodestone glared at the other man. “I thought this was Dan’s team.”

“That’s why I said I’ll recommend it.”

The one-armed man sighed. “Sometimes, it’s hard not to hate you so damn much,” he grumbled before flashing his oldest friend a smile.

“Then it must really piss you off that you named your kid after me, huh?”

*******

Drew Loder stood on a balcony overlooking the floor of Bedford International Airport, holding a sign that read ‘NVA’ in one hand, and his girlfriend’s hand in the other. Odds were that she would see the new arrivals long before he saw the sign: Mary Hanson was a Neo-Sapien whose ability granted her keen eye sight. With her powers, she could read fine print across a football field, and without squinting. Armed with photographs of each of the new students, she scanned the crowd, looking for any sight of their would-be underclassmen.

Five of the new students were coming in on Flight 317 from California—from Los Angeles, Merced, Sacramento, and two from San Francisco, to be precise. All five of the new students had been told to look for the sign with the school’s initials on it—that representatives from the school would be meeting them outside the gate.

“Should be any minute now,” Drew said, looking over his shoulder to the arrival board.

Mary couldn’t help but chuckle. “Getting impatient are we?” She rested her blonde head on his shoulders. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear there was somewhere else you’d rather be…”

“There is,” Drew said.

Mary lifted her head and fixed him with a look that was equal parts shock and indignation.

“The sooner we get these new kids settled in, the sooner I can take my beautiful girlfriend out for the most romantic evening of her life.” Drew checked the arrival board again. “Honestly, I’m considering just going up there and magnetically landing the plane myself.”

“Something tells me the FAA wouldn’t be too happy with you.”

“What are they going to do?” Drew asked playfully. “Sic the Vindicators on me? Dad, I could take; Uncle Drew could be a problem though…”

Mary couldn’t help but laugh: “I’d be more worried about your mom coming after you.”

Drew sucked air through his teeth. “Yeah, she’d tear me apart. Josie’d probably help her.”

“I can just see your sister holding you down while your mom lays into you. Your brother’d probably get in there too!”

“Jim? Jim wouldn’t hurt a fly…”

Mary smiled as she held her boyfriend and looked out across the sea of travelers. “It seems unreal that it was only three years ago that I was getting picked up here. Simone Davies picked me up—do you remember her?”

“The short girl with the annoying voice? She secreted a glue-like substance or something, right?”

“Yeah. I remember being so scared of this… I’d never been away from my family. I mean, I’d stayed over at friends’ houses, or gone to Bible camp, but never anything like this… And now, we’re about to leave it. Just one more year…

“In three years, who do you think these kids we’re picking up today will be picking up? Do you think they’ll be thinking back, telling each other about the day they met us?”

Before Drew could answer, his cell began to ring. “It’s the school,” he said, checking the display. Raising the slim device to his face, he pressed the button to accept the call. “Hello? Yes, sir, Mary and I are—what? How did he…? Okay. Thank you, sir. We’ll see you soon.”

“Is everything all right?” Mary asked as he slid the phone back into his pocket.

“Scratch one kid. I guess Eric Vaughn is some kind of teleporter and he’s already at the school.”

“Excuse me?” Drew and Mary turned and took in the sight of a tall, thin girl with long dark hair standing before them. Standing beside her was an Asian youth who wore an apathetic look. “You’re from the school, right? I’m Regina, and this is Ken.”

Drew grinned. “The dynasty brats!” he laughed.

Mary rolled her eyes. “Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my boyfriend, Drew.”

“Drew Loder?” Regina asked. “My parents told me about you.”

“All good, I hope,” Drew said with an uneasy laugh.

“Yeah,” offered Regina.

Something seemed to click with Drew suddenly. “Wait, ‘Ken’?” He looked at the back of the sign, to the list of names he’d been given. “I don’t have a Ken on my list. I have two boys, and I know you’re not Eric-”

“I prefer ‘Ken’,” the boy said. He continued to exude a melancholic aura. “It’s not my legal name, but it’s what I’d prefer to be called.”

Drew looked at the back of the card again. “Yeah,” he said, uneasily, “I can see why. So your dad is-”

“Yup.”

“I didn’t think he could-”

“I’m adopted.”

Drew nodded. “Well, that’s…” He checked the arrival gate. “Well, look, the other kids were supposed to be on the same flight as you two. We’re still waiting on Cyndi Brightman and Aisha Stein.”

“Cyndi Brightman,” Regina asked, “of Brightman Vineyards & Winery?”

Mary gave the girl a look of surprise. “You know her?”

“We saw her on the plane,” Regina said, almost apologetically, “throwing a temper tantrum because she wasn’t booked on a private jet or something. Then she wouldn’t shut up because she was booked in coach with the rest of us peasants.”

“Okay, well, we just-” Drew was cut off by Mary putting a hand on his shoulder. Turning to her, he followed her outstretched hand towards the gate, and a nervous looking girl with caramel-colored skin. “Is that one of them?”

“Her boarding pass says ‘Aisha Stein’,” Mary said. Regina and Ken exchanged looks of surprise. “She’s one of them.”

Drew nodded, and motioned for the others to follow him over to the girl. “Hi,” he said, cheerily. “Aisha?” Her nod was all the permission he needed to continue. “I’m Drew, and this is Mary. We’re from the school. These are Regina and Ken—they’re new students too.”

“Hi,” Regina said, stepping forward, and offering her hand to the new girl.

“H-hi,” Aisha said, nervously.

“We’re just waiting on one other new student, and then we’ll take you-”

“EXCUSE ME!” The quintet turned and took in the sight of a young girl glaring down a middle-aged man. “You think just because we’re in New York, you can throw manners out the Goddamn window? You’ve got all this space to walk, fatass! If you need to run someone over, maybe you pick someone who can’t buy whatever fledgling company made the mistake of employing you, and then tossing you and that hideous suit on the street!”

Drew looked worriedly to Regina and Ken. “Is that…?”

“Cyndi Brightman?” Regina asked.

Drew nodded.

“In the flesh.”

Drew sighed dejectedly, and turned to his girlfriend. “In the event that these kids are one day telling new generations of Neo-Sapiens about their first day at the New Vindicators Academy, let’s hope they omit the parts about Cyndi.

“They’re going to give those kids nightmares…”

*******

Hikari sat in the hallway of the boy’s dorms, idly flipping through the pictures on his phone. Occasionally, another student would drift by and he was back out of the album and pretend to be texting someone—his thumbs would feign to hit an imaginary keypad, but in reality weren’t even hitting the screen.

He looked up at the sound of his door opening. Neige Altair looked both ways as she slipped into the hallway, and continued to pull her shirt down. At the sight of her bra, Hikari went back to pretending to be engrossed in fantastical texts. “Thanks, Hikari,” she whispered, pulling her blonde hair out of her shirt. He looked up again, and watched as it spilled onto her back, just past her shoulders.

She didn’t waste any other time on small talk—not when girls were forbidden from being in this building. Instead, she slipped off, and Hikari slipped back into his room…

His roommate was still lying in bed—naked, Hikari could only presume, from his naked chest. Hardly the cleanest of students, Luke Meinstein often left his clothes lying across the floor. What he’d been wearing might have been there, or it might have been elsewhere.

“God,” he the redheaded boy said. He laid back with his arms behind his head. “We gotta get you a girl, man: you don’t know what you’re missing…”

Knowing that his roommate never wood, Hikari bent down to pick up the condom wrapper, and dropped it in the waste basket. “What’re you doing!?!” Luke exclaimed. He threw off the covers and Hikari winced: he was naked. “Neige’s mom’s is one of the housekeepers!” He was out of bed, and on his feet in an instant. Snatching the wrapper up, he crumbled it up and set it down on the dresser by the door. “Do you know how bad it’d be if she sees that?”

Hikari shrugged. “Maybe she’d think it was mine.”

Luke couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry, man… I’ve been your best-friend since we were, what, six? Seven? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with a girl, so why would Missus Altair?” Luke bent down, picked up a pair of boxer shorts, and brought them to his face. After a quick sniff, he seemed satisfied with their freshness, stepped into them. “You think anymore about what I said about ‘Brina?”

Hikari shook his head. “She just got dumped…”

“Yeah, like, three months ago. She’s had the whole summer to get over Jim.”

“We’re on the same team. If I ask her out, it’s going to make things awkward…”

“Neige and me are on the same team.”

“Neige said ‘yes’,” Hikari said icily.

“And so will ‘Brina, man! Don’t sell yourself short: you’re a good guy. I mean, once you get past the creepy, quiet vibe you give off. You just need to…” Luke tugged on a pair of jeans, and set about looking for a T-shirt. “I dunno, emphasize your best features.”

“And those are…?”

“You’re best-friends with me.” Luke flashed him his most winning smile. “Look, man… We’re juniors now! I’d say we’re gonna be runnin’ this place next year, but we’re gonna be runnin’ it this year! Last year was diesel! Vanguard trounced Drew Loder’s team, and who led us to victory over the golden boy? You did. Whose dad’s the headmaster of the school? You, dude. I don’t get why you don’t just embrace it: you and me? We are royalty, this year.

“Hell, you could have any girl you wanted.”

Hikari couldn’t help but grin at the thought of that.

“So, you gonna make your move on ‘Brina, or what?” He didn’t notice Hikari’s mood dour. “If you’re still worried she’ll turn you down, I’ll get Neige to talk to her—kinda feel things out.” Stepping into a pair of flip-flops, Luke grabbed the crumbled up wrapper. “I gotta go flush this, and then my mom and I are going to go meet my dad for dinner. I’ll see you later.”

Hikari said nothing as Luke left the room. For several minutes, he simply stared off, and got lost in his own thoughts. After so long, he stood up and began trying to clean. After a few minutes, the youth gave up. Sitting down on the bottom bunk, he sighed dejectedly. He reached in his pocket and took out his phone; he opened the hidden album and smiled…

The pictures were hardly indecent. As Freshmen, Luke had tried to coerce Hikari to use his powers to make himself invisible and invade the girl’s locker room. His conscience, coupled with the fear of what his parents would do to him if they ever found out, had kept him from succumbing to peer pressure… but last year, he hadn’t been able to help himself. Last year, he’d started taking photographs of one girl when she thought no one else was around. He had pictures of her studying, pictures of her sleeping, pictures of her talking to friends, pictures of her practicing the guitar…

One of his favorites was of her getting out of the pool.

Laying down on the bottom bunk, Hikari unbuckled his belt. He unzipped his pants. Wiggling a ways out of his clothes, Hikari set about to abusing himself both mentally and physically.

Lying in Luke’s bed, he caught a scent from the pillow beside him. Realizing it was Neige, he closed his eyes tight. He held onto the mental image of what was on his phone and buried his face in the pillow. Neige’s scent and the imagined image of his crush getting out of the pool overcame his senses. Soon, another sensation swept over his body, and only a few seconds later, he was done.

He wiped his right hand off on Luke’s sheets and prayed the boy simply thought it the stains would be from before. He set his phone down long enough to clothe himself again. When he was finished, he rose up to his feet, and moved to steal another glimpse at the pool picture.

A popup message was on his phone—over the picture he’d used. “Message Sent,” it said.

His eyes widened in alarm; his heart began to race. Hikari backed out of the album and went to his messages—praying he hadn’t just set that picture to Luke, or Neige, or his parents.

He had accidentally sent it to one of the Freshmen—one of the new students he had met only an hour ago. In an attempt to be helpful, Hikari gave the boy his cell phone number—told him to call if he needed anything—and the boy had reciprocated the gesture.

Hikari had sent the picture to Eric Vaughn...
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Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1210

Postby Michuru81 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:12 pm

Chapter CX
The Ragtime spent weeks traversing the galaxy, and in that time Ginian had found himself with zero opportunities to talk to Aphelion.

Like Ginian, the man didn’t eat or drink. Unlike Ginian, the man never left his bunk. The others walked softly whenever they trespassed outside of the man’s door, and when they spoke about him, they spoke in hushed tones. Even Pauldron, who seemed to respect no one’s boundaries, spoke with reverence whenever he spoke of Aphelion.

In the last few weeks, Ginian had come to know the rest of the Vindicators: Pauldron was quite possibly the strangest person he had ever met in his life. He insisted on maintaining a secret identity; he often made strange references to things Ginian had to have explained to him—much to the chagrin of anyone within earshot; he routinely cursed in Japanese, because he had once seen a television show set in outer space where the cast cursed in Chinese. He had no respect for privacy or boundaries, appeared to delight in embarrassing those around him, and frequently made very little sense. Through it all though, Ginian couldn’t help but feel sorry for the golem-like man: his peculiarities appeared to be an act designed to keep people from getting too close to him. According to North, Pauldron was older than anyone on the ship. It was likely that his powers kept him from aging, and that he had buried a great many friends over the years.

Ginian wondered how many friends he would lose, while time passed him by.

Allyce had feelings for North—feelings North failed to reciprocate. North was a quiet, soft-spoken man who seemed to be perpetually observing everyone’s antics. Little escaped the man—least of all Allyce’s infatuation with him. Ginian didn’t believe the man was oblivious to her feelings, but merely resigned to a life of solitude. North was no stranger to the war against the Jovian Empire; like Pauldron, he had lost a lot of friends. He may have been trying to spare himself the inevitable pain of losing another loved one, or he may have been trying to shield her from the hurt of one day losing him.

Losing loved ones seemed to be a prerequisite for joining the Vindicators: both Casey and Libby had lost someone important to them. Casey, Ginian had learned, had once been married to Libby’s older sister. A Vindicator, Rachel had been down by Sol Invictus himself…

“Sol Invictus has a weapon—an artifact from Ancient Earth,” Allyce had told Ginian. “The Longinus Spear can kill anyone… even an immortal, like Rachel or Libby…”

Ginian couldn’t help but wonder what the Vindicators were like before Rachel’s death. Casey was a stern man, who did not abide nonsense, while Libby who was a happy-go-lucky optimist who found the good in everything. Had they always been like that, or had Rachel’s death been the catalyst for change? Had losing her sister made Libby appreciate life more? Was burying his wife the catalyst behind the commander’s adopting such a dour personality?

Weeks went by, and Ginian got to know the Vindicators. He learned about their past, their struggles, and the war they fought.

Weeks went by without word from Earth. Weeks went by without sight of the Pantheon, leading North to conclude that Conclave had been bluffing.

Weeks went by, and then, North called Ginian up to the bridge…

“Yes, sir?” the android said as he made his way to the command deck. Through the view shield, he could see Jupiter resting in the distance.

Ginian supposed that it must have been a sight to behold, once upon a time. Today, it was an eyesore in the night sky. A gas giant, there was little hope of terraforming the planet, but colonization of its moons was well within the realm of possibility, once several hurdles were overcome…

The solution to so many of those problems was the Cradle, an engineering marvel manufactured by the Pantheon. From further out in space, the Cradle resembled a mechanical frame enclosing Jupiter. From what Ginian understood, the frame acted as radiation reflectors that protected the colonized moons from Jupiter’s radiation belt. The network simultaneously siphoned the gases that formed Jupiter’s atmosphere, transforming it into a substitute sun that brought manageable heat this far into the solar system.

“We run quiet from here on out,” North said, as he powered down the ship’s engine. “The Pantheon set up a semaphore line out here, to monitor who comes through…” He turned in his seat and fixed Ginian with a sad expression. “You need to be prepared for what you’re going to see here. Ceres isn’t bad. I mean, the place is a damn warzone, but it’s not as bad as what you’re going to see here…

“Europa, Ganymede, Titan… The Jovian colonies…” He rubbed the back of his neck and tried to process where to begin. “Life expectancy’s a lot lower out here. Maybe it’s the conditions they live under, or maybe it’s a sign that the satellite’s aren’t exactly terraformed… Me? I think Sol Invictus pumps something into the atmosphere to kill people off before they see their forties.

“The Illuminati says it’s been about a century and a half since Sol Invictus came to power. In that time, several generations have come and gone. The people here in the Jovian system? They’ve grown up thinking that Sol Invictus is a god…”

Ginian nodded. “I’m aware of this,” the android said. “Sol Invictus has set himself up as the Unconquered Sun—the god of this universe—and his children are regarded as the Pantheon.”

“You know that,” North said, “but I don’t think you understand what that means. The people down there? They don’t know any different, Gideon.” In the last few weeks, Pauldron’s corruption of the android’s name had begun to stick. “I mean, their grandparents weren’t alive during the Acrimony War. Their great-grandparents hadn’t even been born yet. With their generations so short, they… Well, they don’t know any different. The idea that once upon a time, we all lived on Earth and no other rock out here? That’s slowly turning to fable, same as I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like… during the Crusades!

“Out here, Sol Invictus doesn’t just call himself a god: the Jovians worship him as one.

“When we touchdown on Europa, the people there… You have to watch what you say. We can’t tell them that we fought Conclave. We can’t let them know we’re Vindicators. We can’t let them know that we’re going up against Sol Invictus. To them, that’s heresy and blaspheming. Do you understand, Gideon?”

“The people we’re fighting for think that we’re the enemy.”

North nodded.

“Then why are we fighting for them?”

“Because it’s right.” North looked up as Ginian turned; Commander Casey Shepherd ducked through the portal and stepped onto the bridge. “The day Rachel died, Sol Invictus said something, Gideon… He asked why we’re fighting him. He said he wasn’t doing anything wrong—that, if anything, he was making the universe a better place. On some level, he’s right. Out here, there’s no war. Titan never went to war with Europa—probably never will.

“There’s no denying that he’s done amazing things… but he’s far from being altruistic. Hell, look at what he’s done to Earth. He’s all but abandoned Earth! With his powers he turned Jupiter into a sun—a sun that he controls! He could do anything! I have a map in my room—a map from a hundred years ago! You wouldn’t believe how different the coastlines were back then, Gideon! If Sol Invictus wanted to, he could help that planet and the people still on there, but they know he’s not a god! They know he’s a fraud, and he’d sooner let them die that see that information spread!

“The people out here deserve to know the truth about him and his family… They deserve to live in a world where they’re not slaves to a cult a madman’s built up around himself. The lie may be wrapped up in a pretty package, but that don’t change what’s inside.”

Ginian was surprised to see another enter the room: Aphelion ducked down and maneuvered in through the doorway, careful to avoid his mask hitting the threshold. “This is why your father wanted you to come with us, Ginian,” Aphelion said. “He wanted you to observe what Sol Invictus does—to bear witness and create a record of what’s to come.”

“To come?” Casey asked. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion at the redheaded man. “What do you mean?”

“In due time, Commander. For now, we must continue with the mission: land on Europa and let the Sentries infiltrate society.”

Ginian looked back towards the planet in the distance. Soon enough, it devoured his sight. Not long after, their ship entered Europa’s atmosphere and North began to take the Ragtime down…

To Be Continued... wrote:The worst day of Gregaro's life.
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1211

Postby Michuru81 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:25 pm

Chapter CXI: Secret Love
Five days went by without any sign of the Cold Warriors making a move. Five days went by with Vindicators taking shifts keeping watch over Kaffeklubben Island. Five days went by without Gregaro’s father taking a single sip of alcohol.

The first day, he was agitated. He awoke to find his flask empty and the bottles stowed in his luggage cracked. Gregaro had braved the elements to stay up with him, watching as the man grew progressively more irritable. Absolute Zero ranted at the Archmagus and exploded at the landscape.

It couldn’t have helped his sanity that the sun was not behaving as it ought to. This far north, night lasted far longer than the Vindicators were used to. When Falkenburg and Cecaelia relieved their teammates, the Vindicators had been stationed here for twenty-four hours—twenty-four hours, and no sign the sun intended to rise.

Absolute Zero brushed off his teammates, and insisted on staying on guard. Gregaro wondered if the man were secretly hoping the Cold Warriors would arrive, and give him something to hurt. Expecting an encore of his father’s battle with Top Man, Gregaro urged him to return to their bunks. Though he failed in getting his father to rest, his own body was hardly as obstinate.

A smell like ammonia and rotten eggs roused Gregaro from his sleep. Though he’d fallen asleep outside, he’d woken up in his bed. Across the room, his father sat in his undershirt and boxers, sweating profusely. His unexplainable anxiety left Falkenburg excusing him for his guard duty that night, and Gregaro volunteered to take his place. Gregaro told his father to rest—to get better—but the man found sleep evaded him. When he was finally able to close his eyes, he woke up screaming not long after.

As Absolute Cold’s restlessness persisted, Gregaro and Ginny became little more than phantoms passing each other as they drifted from one duty to the next. Ginny stayed with his father when Gregaro was covering the man’s shift. When Gregaro returned to watch him, she left to sleep for her shift. During hers, the Templar opted to sit with the man, while Gregaro rested up for his next post. In making sure someone stayed with Vincent around the clock, Gregaro had effectively sacrificed his relationship.

He kept telling himself that it was only until the Cold Warriors showed up. He began trying to make himself see them coming across the horizon—bringing the hope of ending this torment with them. Kallio, whom Gregaro spent the most of his time with now, had shot that hope down though: “If the Cold Warriors show up, you’ll fight them, and then what? You think if you beat them, this job is over? We’re supposed to be protecting Doctor Meinstein, and his research, right? I figure, we’ll be done with our job when he’s done with his…”

Still, hope was renewed when, on the fifth day, his father seemed miraculously cured. He had stopped sweating. He seemed to have triumphed over his insomnia. He had managed to sleep through the night. He had insisted on taking his shift back from his son, but Gregaro protested. He didn’t want to see the man jeopardize his health by pushing himself too far, too fast.

With Ginny keeping the man company, Gregaro went to work…

“That’s great!” Kallio said, after hearing about the state of euphoria Absolute Zero had awoke in. “Maybe now you and Ginny can go back to spending time together.”

“I hope so,” Gregaro said, smiling up at his titanic friend. “Hey, when this is all over—when Doctor Meinstein finishes up here, would you want to come to the wedding?”

Kallio seemed stunned by such a suggestion. “I… yeah. That sounds… That sounds great.”

“It’s okay,” Gregaro said, mistaking the giant’s hesitation for reluctance. “You don’t have to…”

“No, I want to. Sorry, it just hit me that I haven’t been home since…”

“The apple?” Gregaro asked.

Kallio nodded. “I haven’t been homesick in a long while… This is going to sound weird, but, it just hit me how much I miss apple cider. My mom used to make the best cider. We had an apple tree in the backyard, and right around fall, we’d go out back, pick a bunch of apples, and she made cider that was just…” Kallio sighed mournfully. “It was to die for.”

“I’m sorry,” Gregaro said as he reached into the pocket of his coat; he pulled out the bag of candies he’d been nursing since he got to Kaffeklubben Island. “I honestly don’t know how you can stand it,” the youth said as he tipped the bag over his hand. Four candy-coated chocolates rolled out and were swiftly delivered into his mouth. “I’m not sure what I’d do if I woke up tomorrow, and couldn’t eat M&M’s.”

“Life’s taught me to appreciate all the small things,” the granite goliath said. “More than my senses, I miss my mom and dad. I miss my wife.

“I know these last few days haven’t been easy. Your dad’s been sick, and things are strained between you and Ginny… but relish every moment you get with them, Gregaro. Believe me: the things you take for granted are usually what you end up missing the most when they’re ripped away.”

“Why don’t you go on? Archie and I are plenty enough to guard this place.”

Gregaro smiled up at the giant before turning back towards the laboratory. He made his way down to the dormitories, and sought out the room he’d been sharing with his father. Giving the doorknob a twist, the youth split the darkness with the light from the hall, and exposed the couple enslaved by passion.

The sheets were twisted up and had been kicked to the foot of the bed. Ginny straddled the elder man with her naked body. Leaning forward, with the palms of her hand planted against the wall behind the bed’s head, Gregaro’s fiancé rocked back and forth on his father, and stopped when she spied his silhouette on the wall before her.

Gregaro said nothing. He simply turned and closed the door behind him. “Gregaro!” came Virginia’s muffled cry. Gregaro bent over and emptied his stomach onto the floor. Incapacitated by his vomiting, he was prone to his fiancé’s ambush: wrapped in a sheet, Virginia scrambled into the hall.

Had it not been for the soft sound of her sobbing, Gregaro would never have guessed that she was crying: he couldn’t bring himself to look at her. “Gregaro, please, just-”

He rose up and moved to retreat. She grabbed him by the hand, and he turned on her with a furious look blazing in his eyes. Without hesitation, he slapped her. Though it was impossible for him to physically hurt her, the sheer shock of the act caused her to release her hold on him and deliver her hand to her cheek. Looking in her eyes, her hurt was obvious; his, not so much. “Whore,” he quietly said.

“Hey!” his father called, as Gregaro began to storm away. “You don’t talk to her like that!”

Gregaro rounded on the man with more fury than he reserved for his fiancé. The younger man thrust an accusing finger at his father and found keeping his hand from shaking to be a difficult task.

Clad only in his underwear, Vincent made his way down the hall to stand before his son. “Calm down, and let me-”

Gregaro balled his hand into a fist and swung it up into his father’s jaw. Ginny gave a scream as the elder man toppled backwards. It was an alarum that roused the others from their rooms: Falkenburg and Cecaelia stepped into the hallway, followed by some of Doctor Meinstein’s assistants not long after and the Templar not long after.

Gregaro glared at the girl sitting below him, sobbing quietly. “Do you love me?” he asked.

“Of course I-”

Gregaro interrupted her with a chortle. “Did you ever really love me, I should ask.”

“Of course, I did!” Her eyes went as wide as saucers as she realized the tense she’d spoken with. “I do!” she recanted. “I love you!”

“This… The thought of you two…” Gregaro swung his fist into the wall. “Goddammit, Ginny! This… This is…” His eyes went to his father, still sitting where Gregaro’s punch had put him. The younger man’s jaw was set; tears streamed down his face. “I never want to see you again,” he told his father. He turned and shot Virginia a baleful glare. “You, I’m not so sure about, yet.”

As the young woman broke down in tears, Gregaro turned to walk away. Vincent eyed him with a sad look; with the help of the wall, he began to climb to his feet. “I know you’re hurting-”

Gregaro rounded on him with a fury. “You have no idea what I’m feeling!” he thundered.

“-but you don’t mean that. Gregaro, you’re my son. We’re family.”

“Family wouldn’t do this to each other, you pathetic bastard.”

“I was hurting, Gregaro! Ginny-”

Gregaro slugged his father in the gut. “Don’t,” he snapped. “Don’t you dare say her name!”

“Gregaro,” Ginny said, her voice almost pleading, “I’m so sorry! I never wanted to hurt you! I saw him hurting and I couldn’t help but remember how my father was after my mother passed…” She trailed off unintelligibly, as she succumbed once more to sobbing.

Gregaro stared perplexedly at her. “What does that have…?” He slowly realized what they were telling him, and yet keeping silent about. He closed his eyes at tight as he could, before asking, “How long has this been going on?”

Neither of them said anything. Ginny could no longer look at him.

“How long!?!” he screamed, keeping his eyes shut—as if that would somehow render him deaf to the answer he demanded.

“Months!” Vincent confessed. “Off and on for months!”

Ginny rose to her feet. “Gregaro, please… Let me explain…”

Gregaro turned his back on them and hurried back through the laboratory. He hurried up the narrow flight of stairs and back into the biting cold.

Pulling his coat tight around him, Gregaro tried to will his tears to stop. At the sound of footfalls behind him, he took off at a run, only to stop when he heard another sound…

Gregaro froze when he heard the plane’s engine.

He looked up and scanned the sky of perpetual night until he found it: a plane coming towards them from the northwest. As he watched it, the Templar caught up with him. He said something—something he no doubt intended to be comforting—but Gregaro was mesmerized by the incoming ship.

When the Englishman realized the boy wasn’t listening, he followed Gregaro’s gaze to the plane. Together, they watched as something fell from it—something that fell for about fifty feet and then it began to rocket straight towards them.

They both knew the phenomenon. “Incoming!” Gregaro screamed as he raced across the island. “They’re here!”

Not far from their position, the Archmagus turned, just in time for Missile Man to slam into him.

“The Cold Warriors are here!”

To Be Continued... wrote:Zzz...
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC
Michuru81
Cosmic Scion
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1212

Postby Michuru81 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:28 pm

Chapter CXII
“Welcome to Dorigatti,” Echelon said as he led the team off the Ragtime. “If the Jovian Empire had a government, this would be Europa’s capital city. There’s no bigger metropolis in the galaxy. Best place to let Newton’s little missionaries loose…”

All around him, Ginian watched as his brothers and sisters waded into the throng. This was their intended purpose: to blend in amongst regular people, and slowly spread word that Sol Invictus was no god. They were programmed to create an uprising, and, if need be, defend themselves against any member of the Pantheon who tried to silence them.

This, Ginian realized, was what he had been created for. He had been made to convince the Jovian people that they worshipped men who built themselves up as deities. He found himself envious of them: they knew what it was Isaac Newton intended for them.

“Pssst!” He had been snapped back to reality by Pauldron, creeping in the shadows of the ship’s cargo bay. “Bring me back a souvenir!”

Ginian stared at the largest member of the team in wonder before Legacy came to his rescue. “The weirdest, cheapest thing I can find,” she promised.

As Pauldron moved to lurk deeper in the ship, Ginian looked to Legacy for an explanation. “Pauldron sticks out like a sore thumb,” she said. “We’re able to pass ourselves off as couriers, bringing exports from other worlds, but our cover’d be blown if anyone saw him.”

“More importantly,” Echelon said dryly, “it gives us all a little piece and quiet.” He froze then, and Ginian watched the color drain from his face. Along with Legacy, Ginian followed the man’s gaze down the dock to a figure propped up on a pole—a pole that everyone was steering clear of. “Everyone get back on the ship,” he said quietly. “We’re leaving…”

“What is it?” Pother asked, squinting to make the shape out.

Ginian knew: even from this distance, he could tell that the figure was missing its right arm. It appeared he was not alone in this realization: “Isn’t that the Sentry we left on Earth?” Legacy asked.

“He has a name,” corrected Pauldron, from the ship’s hull, “and his name is Glark Crisswald.”

“So, any ideas as to how Glark Crisswald got halfway across the galaxy?” Echelon asked. “I doubt the Illuminati would risk putting up something like that just to signal us, let alone come to this godforsaken planet in the first place.”

“I know how he got here,” Pauldron said. “Glark is resourceful. He took the last train to Glarksville and he’ll meet us at the station.” Pauldron jerked his thumb towards Ginian. “This guy knows what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!”

“Huh?” asked a perplexed Ginian.

“It’s like… hydraulics. You know?” Pauldron threw his arms into the air. “Woo!”

Ginian looked to Pother for help; the young woman could only sigh and shake her head.

“Man, you are so lucky we picked you to join the Vindicators!” Pauldron laughed. “‘Cause if we left you with Glark, he would have knifed you for being different.”

“Focus, people!” Echelon snapped. “If the Illuminati didn’t bring Glark here, then that means Conclave did. On Earth, he hinted at his siblings’ approach; it’s possible they arrived after our departure, freed him, tended to his injuries, and brought him back here.”

“Along with Glark,” Pauldron said.

“Along with Glark,” Echelon grumbled. “So, why string him up like that?”

“To unsettle us,” Pother said.

“It worked,” Legacy mumbled.

Exuding consternation, Echelon stood with his arms folded over his chest, head bowed in deep thought. He turned and looked back down the ramp, towards the bubble of space the Jovites made around Glark. “The people are avoiding it,” he said, “which likely means they saw a member of the pantheon put it up. Whoever put it up is probably watching it, waiting for us to react.

“We need to leave.”

“Won’t it seem suspicious that we’re taking off so soon after landing?” Pother asked. “I mean, maybe we should just try not to draw attention…”

“If Conclave is with them, he’s seen the Ragtime,” Echelon said. “He’ll know what to look for. We can’t just lay low and pretend to be traders. We need to lift off, and hopefully lose them in space.” The commander looked to Pother. “Get up to the bridge; tell Umbra to get us in the air.”

Pother’s clothes dropped to the ground as she transformed into her smoke form. In such a state, she was oblivious to the ship’s suddenly shuddering. If it hadn’t been for the others’ exclamations, she would not have realized anything was wrong.

“Kuso!” swore Pauldron.

“What just happened?” Echelon asked as the Ragtime lurched sideways. “Tell me that wasn’t what I think it was, Legacy!”

Ginian looked to Legacy and read the intense concentration on her face. “She’s here,” she said.

“Keep fighting her,” Echelon commanded before rounding on Pauldron. “Polaris is somewhere out there.”

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Pother asked, still in her smoke form. “The last time we tangled with Polaris, Pauldron-”

“Right now, she’s locked in a battle of wits with Libby. This is our chance to put her down.”

Pauldron gave a nod before hurrying down the ramp. Midway down it, the thruster embedded into his back came to life. An explosion of flames charred the ramp, immortalizing the spot where the titanic figure had erupted into the air.

Aphelion stepped into the cargo bay and a calm permeated the Vindicators. Their commander fixed the masked man with the rage he reserved for the entire Pantheon. “If Pauldron has been deployed, I take it there is no need for subtlety?”

“Legacy can’t fight Polaris forever, and she’s the only thing keeping us grounded. We disable her, and we run.”

“They’ll follow us.”

“No, they won’t—not with Polaris down! They won’t risk Legacy shredding their ships in space. Just because they don’t stay dead doesn’t mean they don’t die. Without a ship, we can let the vacuum do the rest.”

Aphelion nodded and casually made his way towards the ramp. Echelon rose off the ground and hurtled outside and into the sky, leaving Pother in his wake. “Stay here,” Aphelion told Ginian. “The Pantheon will no doubt be trying the same strategy as we are. Protect Legacy, or the Ragtime is finished.”

Ginian nodded and positioned himself at the top of the ramp, determined not to let anyone get by him.

In the skies above him, the Vindicators and the Pantheon clashed. Echelon exploded across the sky, slamming into Threshold. All these weeks in space, Ginian had begun educating himself on their opponents…

Threshold was the son of Sol Invictus and a Neo-Sapien girl whose name had been lost to history. In addition to the gifts he had received from his father, Threshold was capable of manipulating his mass: with a thought he could shrink to microscopic levels, or stand higher than the mountains; Threshold could turn his body intangible, letting him pass through solid matter, or increase his density to a point where his body was harder than steel. At the moment, he stood in his colossal form, frantically trying to seize Pauldron in his titanic grip.

Corona whizzed over her half-brother’s shoulder, locked hand-in-hand with Echelon. Corona was one of two surviving descendants of the Aurelius—Echelon’s sister-in-law being the other. While neither Legacy nor her late sister had pursued the arcane arts in the way their would-be cousin had, they knew enough that restricting their hand movements was instrumental in reining in the phenomena they could conjure. Thankfully, they had had the foresight to tell their teammates about the magus’ weakness.

Not far off, Pother was fighting to keep Perihelion distracted. In her smoke form, the young woman was trying to create openings for Aphelion to attack. Like nearly every other member of the Pantheon, Perihelion was born out of Sol Invictus’ relationship with another Neo-Sapien. In addition to his ability to manipulate light and magnetic waves, Perihelion could generate and discharge plasma.

Considered the most powerful of Sol Invictus’ children, it was no wonder he had taken the name Perihelion: the point in a plant’s orbit when it was nearest to the sun.
Ginian watched as Aphelion swung his staff back. Suddenly, the end of it stretched; it barreled through the smokescreen forged by Pother and struck Perihelion in the face. With his opponent momentarily stunned, Aphelion raised his arm and unleashed a blast of light for the youth.

Watching them, Ginian puzzled over what he was seeing: the masked Vindicator’s name—Aphelion—meant the opposite of Perihelion’s name: if Perihelion was the point closest to the unconquered son, Aphelion was the farthest. Aphelion wielded light as weapon—just as all of Sol Invictus’ children did. Was that what troubled Echelon about the man’s identity? Was that why Aphelion wore a mask?

Were the Vindicators hosting a rebellious member of the Pantheon?

Such thoughts were taken from Ginian as he was forced to come back to reality. His eyes left the sky, where the Vindicators were fighting the Pantheon, and looked down to the man slowly climbing the ramp to the Ragtime’s hull.

“You’re one of the Sentries, aren’t you?” Conclave asked. Conclave, the man they had fought before leaving Earth—before Ginian had been put on the Vindicators’ roster. Conclave, the man who’s arm Pauldron had claimed.

Conclave, Ginian had read, who was the only member of the Pantheon not born to a Neo-Sapien mother…

The man wore a cloak now, draped over the shoulder of the arm Pauldron had removed. “I believe the last time we tussled, we found ourselves evenly matched,” he said. “I wonder, though…” He thrust his arm forward, sending a blast of white hot light straight for the robot.

Ginian absorbed the blast and watched as his arm unfolded, exposing the weapon concealed within. Reflexively, he brought it up to fire on Conclave. The man’s mad grin evoked a foreboding sense of doom in the android.

Conclave whipped the cloak back and threw up his arm—the arm Pauldron had taken. Ginian watched in horror as that arm unfolded into a replica of his own weapon-like appendage.

It all sunk in: Pauldron had ripped the arm off the Sentry he had been using as a shield. He had used the arm to sever Conclave’s own limb. There was no doubt in Ginian’s mind that that was where the prosthetic had come from.

During their battle on Earth, Conclave had revealed his ability to absorb light. Ginian had taken his blast and amplified it, only for Conclave to absorb, amplify with his cybernetic arm, and redirect… not at Ginian, but at the one Ginian had been left to protect.

An eruption of light exploded from the cannon secreted in Conclave’s arm, and struck both Ginian and Legacy. Momentarily stunned by the blast, Legacy was powerless to suppress Polaris’ magnetic command. The ship lurched again, and Ginian hurried out of the ship.

Though Conclave was considered the weakest of the Pantheon, he alone was immune to the power their father wielded. Only Conclave was capable of absorbing light, making Sol Invictus, the Pantheon, and Ginian’s attacks worthless against him…

Conclave was immune, but his siblings were still vulnerable.

With the now thrice amplified energy brimming inside of him, Ginian planted himself on the dock and carefully took aim on Polaris. With a scream, he unleashed the totality of attacks he and Conclave had been trading.

A cone of white hot light split the sky, incinerating everything in its path and blinding anyone who had the misfortune of looking directly at it. Echelon looked away in time; Pauldron and Pother—in her transformed state—employed other senses to see. Aphelion looked harmlessly upon the eruption, and watched as Threshold staggered back from the blow, while Polaris struggled to find her bearings within it.

“In the immortal words of the Reverend Tex Stoveheadbottom,” roared Pauldron as he flew towards Corona, “‘Go to Hell!’” He tackled the magus and proceeded to fly higher and higher. If Echelon could have used his eyes then, he would have seen the behemoth transform into a speck in the sky.

Spurred by Pauldron’s charge, Aphelion moved on the Pantheon. The masked man took advantage of Polaris’ momentary condition swung an impossibly-long staff into the back of her head.

As the girl fell out of the sky, Echelon charged for Threshold. The Vindicator laid into the giant with a powerful uppercut, and pushed the advantage when Threshold tottered back. Again and again, he delivered vicious punch after vicious punch, pushing the colossal man back with each blow. Helpless against the onslaught of blows, Threshold reverted to his natural size and turned intangible—a sure sign that he saw the battle as a lost cause.

As Echelon, Aphelion and Pother converged on Perihelion, Ginian looked back up the ramp: Conclave had escaped, and a wobbly Legacy was making her way down to the docks. The roar of Pauldron’s thrusters drew Ginian’s eyes upward, to the sight of the titan’s return.

“Where’s Corona?” Ginian asked.

Pauldron cracked a smile. “Mama had a baby and it’s head popped off!” he sang before shambling over to where his teammates stood.

Effectively backed into a corner, Perihelion sneered at them. “You may have bested us, but know that my father will not stand for this insult. To touch a god is a sin punishable by smiting! To assault one!?! To take one’s arm!?!”

“That’s the thing though,” Echelon said. “You? Your brothers and sisters? Your father? None of you are gods. There’s no such thing as gods.”

“I’m a god,” Pauldron said, matter-of-factly.

“You’re just tyrants,” Echelon spat, “and this? This isn’t an affront… This is the beginning of the end of your despotism.”

“‘Tyrants’? ‘Despotism’!?! You dreg loving idiots don’t realize… The Jovian Empire is one devoid of war and poverty and crime! The people here are all equal in all regards! These people aren’t being oppressed! Their every need is provided!”

“You’re exploiting them!” Pother snapped. “You keep them in the dark—convince them that you’re gods meant to be worshipped! You’ve practically enslaved them!”

“We are their salvation! The Pantheon has saved humanity, and you fools strive to tear down all the good we have done! By what authority? By what right? Who do you people think you are!?!”

“You wanna know who I am!?!” Pauldron bellowed. “I am Pauldron; His Supreme Galactic Eminence; Master of Time, Space-” Perihelion opened his mouth to interrupt, and Pauldron responded by putting a hand over his face. “-and Dimension; Lord of All He Surveys; Omnipotent, Omnipresent; Last King of Sealand; Grand Herald of the Letter ‘M’; Dark Overlord of the Universe; Brobdingnagian Emperor of the Lilliputians; Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future; Larger That Most in More Ways Than One; Stalwart Defender of the Meek; Nemesis of the Number Four; Lord of the ThunderCats; Wielder of the Mighty Stalactite of Justice; Courtesan of the Hawt Emily’s Rack; Guardian of Canadian Athletes; Rempli du Fromage; Awesomemonger; Norse God of Rock and Shenanigans; the Corn Whisperer; Kicker of Nephilim Ass; Ayatollah of Rock and Rolling; World Record Holder for Biggest Cannonball Splash; Slayer of the Last Gray Squirrel; Unchallenged Conqueror of the North; Viewer of Five-Five-Five; Rated ‘T’ for Teen; Keeper of Lady Liberty’s Torch; Self-Proclaimed Seventy-seventh President of the Old United States; an American Werewolf in Amsterdam; Purveyor of the Wrath of Genin; World Champion of Agricola; Honorary Eco-Warrior; Dali Lahma; First Earth Rock Taken to the Moon; Neon Spandex Savior of the Future; Never Going Left; Liberator of Glark; and Just a Darn Good Fellow, Esquire!” Pauldron gave Perihelion’s head a squeeze and Pother lost her lunch. “They sure don’t make gods like they used to. Back in my day, their skulls didn’t pop like zits.”

“We need to get out of here,” Echelon said. “More of the Pantheon will be coming. Load these three up. We’ll dump their immortal asses out the air lock once we’re clear.”

Ginian couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of what they were condemning Sol Invictus’ children to: Perihelion, Polaris, and Threshold would come back to life, only to die once more in the vacuum of space. This perpetual cycle of death and rebirth was to be his existence, until someone found and rescued his remains.
Unless he missed his guess, that was the cruel fate Pauldron had punished Corona with as well.

As Echelon led the others back to the ship, Ginian looked to the faint line that divided the sky. The Cradle was a halo that crisscrossed Jupiter, functioning as a radiation deflector that protected the moons. Without it, inhabiting Europa—or any of the Jovian colonies—would have been impossible.

As Ginian followed the Vindicators back onto the Ragtime, he watched as the Cradle moved. He watched as the structure long ago installed by Sol Invictus began to break apart—each segment descending towards the gas giant that composed the sky here.

“I don’t think the Cradle is supposed to do that,” the android said, leading the others’ eyes to the horror unfolding miles above them.

Aphelion strode back down the ramp; with his mask on, there was no telling what he reacted to the sight of the collapsing Cradle with. “Conclave escaped. He must have summoned his father.”

Legacy shuddered. “Sol Invictus is… here?”

“Legend has it,” Pauldron said, “if you look in a mirror and say his name three times, he’ll appear behind you. Then he slips a few hard candies into your pocket—the strawberry ones that only come in those gift boxes with the cheese and crackers and mustard!—gives you a wet willy, drinks all your soy sauce and disappears!”

Echelon ignored the big man. “Why is he tearing apart the Cradle, Aphelion?”

“He’s going to erase the memory of this,” Aphelion said, a touch of sorrow in his voice. “He’s going to slaughter every person in the Jovian Empire. No doubt he’ll start civilization anew—choose a new Adam and Eve to populate the worlds he and his children rule…

“He’ll start fresh.”

“Because the people here saw us rough his kids up!?!”

Aphelion shook his head. “Because the people of Dorigatti can testify that their gods are flesh and blood. Because he won’t risk word metastasizing—infecting other cities and colonies like a cancer…”

“And you’re suddenly an expert on how Sol Invictus thinks?” asked Pother. Had she been in her physical form, her shoulders would have sagged.

Echelon rounded on her with a furious look. “Yeah,” he said. He stormed back up the ramp. “That’s what we keep him around for.”

“Look, this isn’t a problem!” Pauldron explained. “We just need to get everyone on the moon to start running really fast in the same direction. If we do this right, we can knock it out of orbit and take it a planet that won’t kill everyone on it.”
Reluctant to admit defeat, Echelon shut his eyes as tightly as he could. “We need to get out of here,” he said. “There’s nothing more we can do.”

Legacy rounded on her brother-in-law with sheer shock. “We can’t just abandon these people!”

“If we stay here, we’ll die with them. We can’t evacuate everyone—there’s not enough room on the Ragtime…”

“What about Legacy?” Pother asked. “Can’t she just… put the Cradle back up?”

“No,” Aphelion glumly said. “It would take someone with Sol Invictus’ strength to move it…” Echelon’s head whipped around to fix the masked man with a look that shone with hope. Aphelion bowed his head, as if his mask’s weight suddenly dwarfed that of a black hole. Radiating reluctance, the robbed man took to the skies, and left almost everyone on the ground speechless.

His arm gently stroked the air around him, and the Cradle ceased to fall. His head turned, and he swept his hand skyward, commanding sections of the fallen structure to stand.

Everywhere the Vindicators looked, the fractured Cradle danced on the horizon, slowly cobbling itself together at Aphelion’s whim.

Pother reverted back to her natural form, to take it in the splendor of the moment with her own eyes. Even her naked body standing beside her teammates wasn’t enough to tear their gaze away from the marvels Aphelion was creating though. “What is he doing?” she asked.

“He’s doing exactly what Sol Invictus did,” Legacy said, her voice full of awe. “He’s manipulating magnetic waves to move the Cradle.”

Something struck Echelon then. He lowered his gaze and worked his jaw, as if trying to churn out the words. “We need to get out of here,” he said.

None of the Vindicators moved.

“We need to leave!” he thundered. “Sol Invictus is sense what he’s doing! He’s going to notice us! He’s going to come here!”

Before anyone could react, the ramp swung up, sealing them in. The docking bay was filled with the sound of metal groaning. They all knew what it meant: they didn’t need the cue of bolts popping from their stations or the hull buckling in to know that Echelon had used the wrong tense…

Sol Invictus had sensed what Aphelion had done. Sol Invictus had noticed them. Sol Invictus had arrived.

To Be Continued... wrote:Zzz...
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC
Michuru81
Cosmic Scion
Cosmic Scion
 
Posts: 5670
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: Pekin, IL

New Vindicators, Chapter 1213

Postby Michuru81 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:30 pm

Chapter CXIII: Rock Around the Clock
Aside from their leader, little was known about the Cold Warriors. What was known, however, Gregaro had committed to memory: he knew that the Missile Man was of German descent, and that he was assumed to be in his early twenties—too young to have lent his power to Adolf Hitler or Johann Meinstein.

A Neo-Sapien, the Missile Man was capable of self-propelled flight. It was an enigma how he did it: he didn’t have wings and he didn’t use anything to thrust him through the air—he simply flew, and he flew at breakneck speeds.

While he was flying, he was virtually indestructible, and completely unstoppable. They were characteristics that made sure he was the first into the fray each time the Vindicators had clashed with the villains, announcing the others’ imminent arrival…

Gregaro watched as the Missile Man stood up. Beneath him, the Archmagus was a crumbled heap in the ice and snow. Against his better judgment, Gregaro looked back towards the incoming plane. Turning his back on the man was a foolish move, but he needed to know how much time they had before the others landed.

Missile Man erupted forward, intent to press the advantage surprise had given him, and charged the Templar. With a thought, the Englishman telekinetically seized the man and diverted him from his intended course. “Gregaro!” he screamed. “Alert the others!”

Gregaro looked back towards the entrance. Undertaking such a task meant having to confront them—having to face his father and his fiancé, so soon after storming off. Against his better judgment, he put one foot in front of the other and hurried back into Doctor Meinstein’s arctic base. “The Cold Warriors are here!” he screamed down the stairs. “Battle stations! We’re under attack!”

Cecalia floating in his wake, Falkenburg rushed to greet him at the bottom of the stairs. With sword drawn, he wasted no time with words and pushed past Gregaro, determined to meet their enemies the moment they landed. A mental inventory told Gregaro that there were only two other Vindicators who needed to be alerted.

Briefly, he tried to weigh his hatred for the Commies against his hatred for his father. Need defeated want, ultimately, and Gregaro pushed to find the adulterers.

The door to the room he shared with his father was open. As he drew closer to it, he was able to make out the sound of Virginia’s voice from within. “It has to stop,” she was saying. “It never should have happened to begin with. I’m in love with Gregaro, Vincent…”

“I need you, Virginia.”

Gregaro didn’t want to hear anything further. Far from a gambling man, he refused to hear how Virginia had decided. Instead, Gregaro cleared his throat, and stepped into the doorway. He didn’t lift his eyes to meet either of their gazes; he kept his attention on the floor of the room. “The Cold Warriors are here,” he said with no warmth left in his voice. “Everyone needs to get topside.”

He didn’t wait for them to try and explain themselves. He didn’t give them the chance to ask him questions. He didn’t bother with waiting for an affirmation that they had understood him. Gregaro turned and dashed back down the hall, intent to join the battle brewing above.

Kallio lunged into Gregaro’s field of vision. He crouched as he leapt forward, letting his massive hands scoop up a chunk of rock. Without wasting another moment, he pitched the boulder towards Uriaş, the figure towering over the battlefield.

Hailing from Romanian, Uriaş’s ability allowed him to increase his size, transforming him into a giant with strength unmatched by any of the Vindicators—Lady Liberty included.

Suddenly, Gregaro was very thankful that Kallio was on their side.

Seeing the behemoth staggering back from the blow, Kallio wasted no time in hurling yet another chunk of the terrain at the giant. With each blow, the rock man charged in—closing the gap between himself and the man who dwarfed him. Wrapping his massive arms around one of Uriaş’ legs, Kallio lifted the limb and threw the Romanian off balance.

No sooner had he toppled the titan than Quickeye shouted something in his native tongue—no doubt a warning to Balszerencse. Tearing off the bandage that covered his eyes, laser beams erupted from Quickeye’s eyes and hammered into Kallio’s chest, bowling him over and leaving twin dimples where the attack struck.

Right on cue, Cecalia descended and wrapped her intangible body around the Czech’s head. As he flailed about, trying to break free of her attack and win the right to breathe once more, Falkenburg came up from behind the man and brought the pommel of his sword down on the back of the man’s head.

Zmey and Dhampir flew through the air, moving to flank the immortal sea captain. A stream of Zmey’s flaming breath alerted Falkenburg to the coming assault better than a shout of alarm from Gregaro. As Falkenburg leapt back, the Archmagus darted through the teen’s field of vision. Gregaro was glad to see that Missile Man had not fully incapacitated the Archmagus with the Cold Warriors’ opening salvo. Doctor Spoiler was the Cold Warriors’ resident mystic, and thus far, the Archmagus had proven himself the only one capable of withstanding the arcane assault the robbed man was capable of unleashing.

The Polish man removed his belt. Covered with ruins and talismans, the Archmagus claimed it was an artifact known as the Magic Belt of Poland, and that it had been missing since the end of the Second World War. Holding it out straight, Doctor Spoiler began to chant and the Archmagus had precious few seconds to ready his defense.

Arcane energy manifested in the form of countless blades—all hovering in a deadly halo that orbited their creator. Doctor Spoiler pointed, and the weapons all charged for the Archmagus; even when the Vindicator dodged, the energy curved, and continued to follow him.

Lady Liberty exploded out of the buried lab and charged straight into battle.

The Iron Curtain reverted back to his natural form and whistled. The sound summoned the German man to him: the Missile Man shot across the landscape and scooped up his leader. Gregaro watched as the pair moved to meet Lady Liberty’s charge. The very instant that they became a hurdle she could not avoid, the Missile Man let go of his comrade, and the Iron Curtain transitioned back into his metal body.

Gregaro watched as his fiancé slammed into the Cold Warrior’s leader at her top speed. He listened to the dull clang of her invulnerable body striking a wall of iron. He watched as she bounced back and hit the ground. He saw her move to stand, only to collapse again. He saw her opponent begin to press the advantage of her momentary condition.

The boy charged across the field of rock and ice, letting loose a guttural war cry. The Iron Curtain turned at the alarm and scoffed at the sight of the incoming threat. Tinny laughter reverberated through his metallic innards as he took the first punch Gregaro delivered.

Hammering his naked fist into the Iron Curtain hurt, but he drove the pain away by recalling the sight of his father and his fiancé together. That was a pain that dulled all others. Again and again he swung at the Russian—breaking knuckles and tearing flesh. He had nothing left: no love, no hope… just raw anger.

Whatever amusement Gregaro’s barrage had once provided seemed to fade from the Iron Curtain; the colossus gently grabbed Gregaro’s neck and slowly hoisted him into the air. “You have spirit, tovarishch.” The Iron Curtain pulled back his fist, ready to strike Gregaro down. “A pity that spirit matters so little in this new world.”

The Iron Curtain swung, and Gregaro closed his eyes, bracing himself for his end.

To Be Continued... wrote:Zzz...
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1214

Postby Michuru81 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:33 pm

Chapter CXIV
“Out!” Echelon screamed. “Everyone out!”

Legacy strained to overpower the magnetic forces that were commanding the Ragtime to constrict around them, while Pother’s smoke form let her snake her way through the newly-forced cracks in the hull. It was those cracks that Pauldron made his targets: the brute lowered his head and his thrusters kicked in, shooting him straight into the wall of the ship and through it.

“Go!” Echelon screamed to Ginian. The man grabbed Legacy’s wrists and pulled her to follow him through the egress their teammate had made.

Outside, Umbra greeted them. The man stood on the ground, solemnly watching as his pride and joy was slowly destroyed. “We need to get clear!” Echelon snapped to him. Trusting Legacy to fly on her own power, Echelon let go of his late wife’s sister and seized his friend instead.

As they hurried to get clear from the ship, something sparked the fuel and what remained of the ship exploded. Lacking the ability of flight so many of his teammates possessed, Ginian was thankful for Legacy towing him along behind her: he never would have cleared the explosion otherwise.

The explosion was unnatural in that the shrapnel refused to spray outward: what remained of the ship remained in place, held there by the power of the man who had caused such a catastrophe. It was only once he knew where his enemies were that he bid what was left of the Ragtime to fly: with a thought, Sol Invictus commanded every shred of the ship to speed towards the Vindicators, and with a thought, Aphelion deflected the attack from his teammates.

Both men descended to the earth. One garbed in a white tunic, trimmed with blood red cords; the other wore a gun grey jumpsuit accented with navy blue thread. One wore a bronze mask cut to resemble the sun emblazoned on his chest; the other a crown beset with gemstones forged deeper in the cosmos than any mortal man had ever tread. In one’s hands was the size-changing staff, Ruyi Jingo Bang; what had once been the Lance of Longinus was coiled around the other man’s arm.

Long, crimson hair hung down Aphelion’s back; short, blue hair capped Sol Invictus’ skull.

Sol Invictus, a man who barely looked older than eighteen, smirked. “A mask,” he observed. “How cute.”

At the familiar sound of his voice, Ginian looked to the man standing between the Vindicators and their enemy. Before he could question it, Echelon rushed forward; not content to stand behind Aphelion, the leader of the Vindicators stood beside him. “You’re going to pay,” he roared. “You’re going to pay for Rachel!”

Sol Invictus regarded him coolly. “Who?” he asked.

“Rachel!” Echelon snarled. “My wife! The last time we saw you, you killed her! You killed her, bakayarou!”

Sol Invictus idly scratched his head. “Ah, I think I remember her.” His head bowed—his face skewed into a penitent expression. “I’m truly sorry. Killing her… it’s a regret that I’ve endured for so long…

“She would have made such wonderful breeding stock.”

Echelon and Legacy both launched themselves at Sol Invictus and were immediately immobilized by bands of solid light. “No!” The command rattled behind the bronze mask Aphelion wore and shook them both to their cores. “I will fight him! You must escape!”

“How?” asked Umbra. “The Ragtime’s gone.”

“The Pantheon had to come here in something. He had to come here in something. Find their ships and use them to flee.”

“We’re not going anywhere, Aphelion!” Pother declared.

Sol Invictus chortled. “‘Aphelion’?” he asked. “Oh, that’s rich. It’s very creative—very… fitting.” Unable to contain the mirth any longer, he roared with laughter. “Why don’t you show them? Show them who it is they’ve been fighting beside all this time!”

Echelon looked nervously to Aphelion. Legacy looked to the masked man with a confused look on her face. “What’s he talking about?” she asked.

“Go on!” urged Sol Invictus. “It’s your chance to shrift! Show them what you no doubt feared they would find out!”

Echelon shook his head. “Don’t.”

Aphelion took a deep breath and raised his hands slowly to his mask. Lifting it up to the top of his skull, he showed the Vindicators his face…

Echelon sighed. Legacy began frantically shaking her head. Pauldron simply bowed his head. Umbra swore under his breath. Pother stared at the sight for a moment, only to look to Sol Invictus and then back to Aphelion.

Ginian was just as clueless as his teammates: the two men were identical. “Why do you two look so similar? Are you related?”

Aphelion shook his head. “We’re the same person, Ginian. We’re two halves of the same coin.

“Originally, we were one person—one body, one mind… Part of our ability allows us to split our consciousness between two bodies. I am the embodiment of everything that’s positive about the collective, and Sol Invictus is the one who carries our moral turpitude.

“During the Acrimony Wars, we saw… so many things—things that changed us. We became determined to make sure nothing like this ever happened again. We just… we took different paths to that end. I thought the world could be changed—I thought society would change. He…”

“He knew they would never change,” Sol Invictus said, speaking in the third person. “The only way to ensure mankind never rose up against us was to keep them underfoot. Subjugate them. Yesterday, they feared us as monsters; today, they worship us as gods.”

Aphelion shook his head. “What you’re doing is wrong.”

“I’ve created utopia! I’ve ushered in peace!”

“You’re a tyrant! You’re a madman who had no problem with murdering every living being on this planet, simply because a handful of people saw behind the curtain!”

“If those people knew that I was not a god, they would rise up-”

“Don’t try and convince us you have altruistic intentions! There is nothing philanthropic about setting yourself up as the centerpiece of your own religion!”

“Tell that to Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha… What difference does it make which false deity they believe in?”

“You’re stripping them of their freedom to choose! You’re not building a faith, Carl: you’re creating a brainwashed cult!”

“Carl?” Legacy asked. “Who’s ‘Carl’?”

“Us,” Aphelion explained. “That was our name well over a century ago… Aphelion, Sol Invictus… Once upon a time, we was only Carl Hamilton. That is why you have to leave this to me: he and I are evenly matched-”

“Which means it could still go either way,” said Echelon. “Let us tip the scales in your favor.”

Aphelion dismissed the bands that had snared his more zealous teammates. “Fine,” he growled, swinging his staff around. With a thought, the butt of the staff shot forward. Sol Invictus rose up into the air, and the roar of Pauldron’s thrusters kicking in announced the man’s intent to meet him in the air.

As Pauldron exploded into the sky, Sol Invictus let a volley of blasts erupt from his hands. Below the behemoth, the Vindicators scattered—save for Aphelion and Ginian. Aphelion was immune to everything Sol Invictus could unleash, and the energy he attacked with was what fueled Ginian’s own attacks.

Sol Invictus dodged Pauldron’s charge, only to fly around the elongated staff his other half swung. Ginian clipped him with a blast of light, only to watch as Sol Invictus shrugged off such a blow.

Pother swarmed over the would-be god, blinding him to Echelon’s charge. “You’re strong,” Sol Invictus growled as Echelon tackled him out of the air and to the ground, “but I have well over a century’s worth of experience on you, children.”

As they pair dropped, Umbra’s arms reached out of the Sol Invictus’ shadow. The limbs wrapped around him and threatened to pull him into the shadow. Suddenly, a blinding light exploded from Sol Invictus. As his silhouette vanished into the dazzling aura, screams rose up from where Umbra was hiding. Ginian watched the man reel back from the wall he’d been standing beside: his arms were now missing just below the shoulder. By abolishing the medium Umbra employed to teleport, Sol Invictus had severed the connection between the man and his arms.

Legacy moved to hurry to her teammate’s side, only to be stopped by Aphelion. “No!” he barked. “Ginian will tend to Umbra! I need you with me, Legacy!”
Pauldron dropped out the sky as Sol Invictus was climbing out from under a momentarily-blinded Echelon. “You cut off my friend’s arms!” Pauldron thundered. “Not cool, man!”

Sol Invictus raised his arm towards the titan’s face, and with a thought he launched the metal coiled around his arm through the behemoth’s skull.

As Pauldron’s lifeless remains toppled back, Legacy stood frozen. “We can turn this around,” Aphelion insisted. “I can use my powers to counteract his, giving you control over the spear. You have to turn it against him, Legacy.”

Legacy let a low snarl escape her lips. She charged forward and Aphelion reached for her. “No!” he cried, binding her in bands of light once more.

Ginian had forged a pair of tourniquets in an attempt to stop Umbra’s bleeding.

Echelon lunged for Sol Invictus, but was too late: with little more effort than it took to breathe, Sol Invictus willed the Lance of Longinus to return to him. As it traveled through the air, its shape changed: when it had leapt from his arm initially, it had become thick and dense—strong enough to pierce Pauldron’s lapidarian hide. While Echelon’s flesh was impervious, it would hardly be as resistant as his teammate’s had been.

The metal became slender and sleek and easily broke through Echelon’s back and out his chest—piercing his heart before coiling itself around its master’s forearm once again.

As Echelon crumbled to the ground, Pother flew in to try and avenge her teammates. While she lacked any physiology in her smoke form, she was still vulnerable to the array of energy at Sol Invictus’ disposal. As she descended, Sol Invictus casually aimed the palm of his hand over his shoulder, unleashed a burst of gamma radiation from his hand, forced the girl to revert to her natural state as her unconscious body hit the ground, and continued his march towards the only surviving Vindicators.

With no other option, Aphelion released Legacy and used his own command over the electromagnetic spectrum to tear the dreadful lance away from his other half. As he sensed the metal leave him, Sol Invictus was forced to use his own powers to enter into a game of tug-of-war with Aphelion—an act that left him open to Legacy’s frantic attacks.

“You killed my sister!” Legacy snarled as she landed her fist in the god’s stomach. “My brother-in-law! My teammates!” She punctuated each word with another fierce blow.

Sol Invictus released the lance and thrust a hand into the girl’s face. The same energy he had used to bring down Pother merely left Legacy stunned, but it had also given Aphelion control of the only weapon in the universe capable of ending Sol Invictus’ immortal reign.

Aphelion hurled the sliver of metal for his blue-haired self, only to watch as a fiendish grin flashed on Sol Invictus’ face. Beams of light shot from Sol Invictus’ hands and encircled Legacy’s body. Throwing himself back, Sol Invictus pulled Legacy into the path of lance’s path, and a wordless cry exploded from Aphelion.

Ginian watched as the Lance of Longinus went through Legacy. Like her sister before her, the metal retarded her own immortality, ensuring her no hope of recovering from a mortal wound.

Sol Invictus released the girl to fight for control of the lance once more. He found no resistance from Aphelion: his other half’s eyes were on the girl twitching on the ground—the girl whom crimson pools were forming under.

“Are we done yet?” Sol Invictus asked. “You know how this ends: we’re immune to everything we can throw at each other, as well as anything your little friend there is capable of.” It wasn’t the first time Ginian had lamented the useless of his ability: why hadn’t his father built the Sentries as anything that could pose a threat to Sol Invictus? “We can play Keep Away with the lance; eventually, one of us might overpower the other, but how long can that last? Long enough for either of us to deliver a killing blow?

“You had your chance to kill me… and you just killed that girl instead.” Sol Invictus shook his crowned head at the dying Legacy. “It’s a shame: she would have been excellent breeding stock as well.”

Aphelion took Ruyi Jingo Bang in both hands and stood poised to attack.

Sol Invictus laughed at his other half’s stance. “This again?” he asked. “We’re supposed to be equal, but I suddenly find myself wondering if I got all the intellect…”

“Blast him, Ginian,” Aphelion said.

Ginian looked to Aphelion and then to Umbra: the tourniquets had not saved the man’s life. Gently setting down Umbra, Ginian rose up once more. “It won’t do any good. He’s immune to everything I throw at him.”

“You have to trust me, Ginian,” Aphelion said, “you’re so much more than you realize…”

Ginian raised his arm towards Sol Invictus and evoked another round of chuckling as his arm unfolded once more.

The android unleashed a blast of light and Sol Invictus let the Lance of Longinus fly for his other half. Even though the intensity of Ginian’s blast momentarily denied the god his sight, he was able to easily magnetically guide the sliver of metal along the rod extending from Aphelion’s hands.

And then, Sol Invictus felt something he had not felt in a long time: he felt the staff stab him in the stomach…

The light faded, and Aphelion and Sol Invictus could both see again. Sol Invictus saw that the Lance of Longinus had struck true: it had pierced Aphelion’s chest. Looking down, however, he saw where Ruyi Jingo Bang had reached him… and too late, he saw a small sliver of metal forming a pointed cap on the butt of the staff.

“When you blasted Legacy,” Aphelion said weakly, “I shaped the lance—pulled a sliver of it away. I knew we would end up wrestling for control over it… but I knew you’d never notice it on the end of my staff.”

Aphelion’s fingers relaxed and as the staff fell to the ground, it shriveled back to its natural length. As the red-haired man collapsed to the ground, Sol Invictus—clutching his bleeding wound—stumbled forward.

Standing on wobbling legs, Sol Invictus watched as Ginian dropped to his knees and tried to help Aphelion up.

It was the last thing he saw before Pother stabbed a long, jagged piece of the Ragtime through his back and out of his stomach.

To Be Continued... wrote:Zzz... wha? What? We're back? Um... Next up... Gregaro manifests.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Death to the Hiatus! Four New Chapters!

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:22 am

So that's the "good universe" is it? You folk have an odd definition of the word good. Unless by good, you mean, "no less bloody but at least it's a different set of corpses this time".

Still, it's an interesting read.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Death to the Hiatus! Four New Chapters!

Postby Arkrite » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:25 am

I'm pretty sure that's just an alternate future universe.
From what I understand the "good" one is set in the modern timeline and has more to do with Adonis dying before he could ruin everything ;~)
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Death to the Hiatus! Four New Chapters!

Postby Michuru81 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:37 am

Arkrite wrote:I'm pretty sure that's just an alternate future universe.
From what I understand the "good" one is set in the modern timeline and has more to do with Adonis dying before he could ruin everything ;~)


Aye. Adonis and Chienne's deaths create shock waves through out the good universe: no Adonis means no Affiliation, which means no White War; Forrest Bedford's going to prison means no assassination of his wife; that means no Black Box, no concentration camps, and no Lodestone on the run. Without Lodestone's help, Abaddon never raises Apocatastasis. No Big-A means no Basileus.

What does happen is Bedford's killing his daughter spurs his wife to take action against the sort of idealogy that killed her baby girl. She becomes president, makes sweeping changes as to how NS's are treated... By the time 2025 rolls around, the players are in a world that accepts them, and going to a school that doesn't have a graveyard.

That's not to say they're not without their share of problems though: one of the students has uncovered a conspiracy that leads to one of the Vindicators (turns out power corrupts), while choices the heroes have made have resulted in the formation of a team of villains who share one thing: a vendetta towards the students at the school. One of their classmates may be a serial killer, and another is now purely driven by his insane pursuit of justice.

Also, Stratocaster has a daughter named Courtney Rage.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Death to the Hiatus! Four New Chapters!

Postby Horsenhero » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:28 pm

Ah...my bad. I should have reread a couple chapters (at least) leading up to all this, but sometimes there's just too much inertia to overcome when it comes to paging back.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Courtney Rage. Heh. Awesome.
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Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Death to the Hiatus! Four New Chapters!

Postby Arkrite » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:02 pm

It's wednesday! You need more rum!
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1215

Postby Michuru81 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:52 pm

Chapter CXV: Till I Waltz Again With You
The Iron Curtain swung, and Gregaro closed his eyes, bracing himself for a blow that never came. Opening his eyes slowly, Gregaro blinked against the light from a never-setting sun glinting off of the Iron Curtain’s arm—an arm Lady Liberty had grabbed, and was putting all her strength into stopping.

“Let go of him,” she growled.

Any other day, Gregaro would have emasculated at the sight of his fiancé coming to his rescue. That he was a normal human and she was a super-powered being didn’t matter: he was a man, she was a woman, and on the rare occasion that he needed her to come to his rescue, he had suffered pangs of depression.

Today, however, no such thoughts entered his mind. Instead, he only thought that she had saved him. He needed her, and she had come.

She still loved him.

“Lady Liberty!” His father’s voice sent the bliss encroaching on him scurrying back to the shadows. “Get him to the water! Templar, help her!”

As Gregaro’s father dashed for the coastline of the island, his teammates moved to work in unison, employing their colossal strength and telekinetic prowess to move the immovable. The Iron Curtain flailed at Lady Liberty, loosening her grip with his titanic punches. The very moment he looked to be free though, Kallio bounded into view. “Got him!” he bellowed, seizing the Iron Curtain’s arms with his own massive hands.

Zmey swept through the air and moved to divebomb them. As he opened his mouth to spew fire, the Templar shifted his focus: seizing the dragon-man in his telekinetic grip, the Brit hurled Dmey into his teammate, sending both the Bulgarian and Dhampir crashing to the ground. “Take him!” the Templar howled. “I’ll cover you!”

Every time the Vindicators had crossed the Cold Warriors, their strategy had focused on removing the Iron Curtain from the fight as quickly as possible. A former Vindicator, the Russian had years of experience on his teammates. He was more than a leader: he was their anchor.

Any other time, Lodestone’s magnetic powers were more than enough to counteract the man—often times forcing him to revert to his natural state and leaving him exposed to attack from someone else—often times Lady Liberty. Today, however, the Vindicators had been split in half: General Sidell had only sent part of the team to Kaffekluben Island, reluctant to have all of the world’s mightiest heroes sequestered in the arctic, waiting for an attack that may or may not have come.

Today, they were without Lodestone’s help… but they were far from helpless.

Kallio and Lady Liberty threw the Iron Curtain into the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean. In his metal form, his density would cause him to sink. His only hope was to become flesh and bone—to become buoyant again. He had to know what Absolute Zero was planning, however…

Left with no other option, the Iron Curtain transformed and began to rise to the surface. As soon as his head broke the water, Gregaro watched his father dash across the ocean.

When he used his powers, Absolute Zero emitted a cold so intense, water froze instantly. Before he could even get his boots wet, Absolute Zero was standing on ice—ice that the Iron Curtain was now trapped in.

If he transformed again, his added size would liberate him, but the additional weight would drag him down. By transforming again, he would float to the top, but there was no doubt that Absolute Zero intended to keep him contained. It would have been a stalemate, had it not been for two factors: one, in his human form, the Iron Curtain had little protection against the chill he now felt; and two, Gregaro was defenseless.

Some of the Cold Warriors had gotten past Falkenberg, Cecalia, and the Archmagus. The Templar did his best to deflect their onslaught, but one got through: so long as he was in the air, the Missile Man was immovable and unstoppable. Try as he might, the Templar’s telekinesis was unable to veer him from his course…

At Missile Man’s top speed, it was impossible for Gregaro to survive one of the German’s flying tackles. Still, even with his speed cut back, he moved far too fast for Gregaro to dive out of the way. Before he could react, Gregaro felt the Cold Warrior’s arms lock around his torso, and then the ground vanished beneath his feet.

So long as Missile Man was in flight, he was impervious to harm. Gregaro knew that whatever experience he had in the boxing ring was useless to him in this arena. He couldn’t harm Missile Man physically. If he had inherited his father’s powers—if his touch brought with it a biting cold—he could have made a difference… but Gregaro Vincentsson was an ordinary human. For years, that had been enough: he had compensated as best he could. This moment, however, Gregaro suddenly found himself needing to be something so much more…

Suddenly, Missile Man cried out in pain and let go of Gregaro. Before could the boy could figure out why, he was plummeting back towards the ground.

Quickly tugging his goggles down over his eyes, Gregaro was able to see despite the rush of wind that met him in his fall. He saw how high he had been carried in such a short time, and he marveled at how fast Missile Man could fly.

One of the figures—tiny specks on the ground far below—was rushing towards him. In seconds he could see it was Lady Liberty. In another moment, she was past him. He blinked, and she was closing in.

Once the girl was beside him, she matched her speed with his. Slowly, she flew closer to him. She winced as she wrapped her arms around him. “What’s wrong?” he shouted. She must not have heard him, as she failed to answer. Instead, she continued to hold him—cringing all the way towards the ice…

He never would have survived the impact had it not been for her: she tucked at the last second and shielded him. Her invulnerable body coupled with their momentum thrust them through the ice and propelled them deep into the arctic waters. Almost instantly, ice was beginning to form around them.

For Gregaro, everything clicked: Missile Man’s releasing him, Lady Liberty’s recoiling… He had finally inherited his father’s powers; his touch bit with the cold.

He could feel the ice creeping over his shoulders. Soon, his arms would be encased. Gregaro looked to Ginny—knocked unconscious by the impact, but otherwise unharmed. At the rate the ice was creeping, it was soon swallow her up too. He ached at the thought of not kissing her one last time, but if the simple act of hugging him had obviously stung, what would that do?

Gregaro pushed her away—cast her free in the arctic waters—and as the ice crept over his eyes, he hoped the Vindicators would find her. He wished for her to have many more days ahead of her.

He prayed she enjoyed them all, no matter who she spent them with…

    ...

“Someone get the Colonel! He’s waking up!”

With each blink, Gregaro’s vision came back into focus.

“Gregaro!?!” There was something familiar about the voice, and yet so alien. “Gregaro, you’re okay!”

“Step back,” someone else said. “Lemme check his vitals…”

He was lying in a bed, he realized. He looked up and the bright light made him look away. He turned his head, and took in the sight of the strangest machine he had ever seen. It was a box, with a screen like a television. There were gauges on it—glowing numbers and wavy lines that scrolled endlessly. The numbers began counting upwards: as soon as they appeared, the glowing digits were instantly replaced by a higher one.

It was that he felt something on his face. He reached up with his hand and was spellbound by the small device clamped over his index finger. For a moment, that distracted him from the tubes running up to his nostrils.

“Lay back, Gregaro,” a black man said. He looked to be wearing his pajamas—a dark blue shirt with matching pants. Nearby was a woman dressed similarly, although her clothes were peach-toned.

“Who are you?” he asked with alarm.

“I’m Doctor Garrison,” the man said. “This is Nurse Rogers.” He didn’t look like any doctor Gregaro had ever seen: Doctor Truman was a stout man who wore a shirt and tie with his slacks, and he was white. The idea of a black doctor…

“Gregaro?” His attention was pulled to a young man about his age, standing beyond Doctor Garrison and his nurse. “Do you remember what happened?”

Gregaro simply stared at the boy, obviously bewildered.

“Gregaro, it’s me! It’s Will! Will Loder!”

Gregaro looked back to Doctor Garrison. “Where am I?” he demanded. “Who are you people? Ruskies? Some plot to make me give up the Vindicators?” He chortled. “You need to hire better actors: Will’s a grown man!”

“Gregaro, you have to trust me: it’s really me! I’m Will Loder! A lot’s happened since you disappeared, Gregaro!”

“I disappeared?” Gregaro asked. “Where did I go?”

“Don’t you remember, Gregaro?” Will asked. “You and Ginny went through the ice. They found her, but you… Your powers froze you—preserved you for all these years.”

Gregaro laughed. “Powers? You Commies really should do your homework: I don’t have any powers!”

“I’m sorry,” Doctor Garrison said, “but we need to sedate you. He’s getting too worked up. You should probably leave.”

Gregaro saw the man produce a syringe, and Gregaro tried to swing at him, only to find his arms felt numb. “What did you do to me!?!” he thundered.

“Your muscles have atrophied,” Doctor Garrison said as he plunged the needle into Gregaro’s arm. “You spent half a century frozen in ice—completely immobile. It’s a damn miracle you’re alive, kid. Personally, I’d take it, and stow the complaints.”

Gregaro looked to Will once more. Maybe it was the drugs, but he was starting to look like the man Gregaro’s father had fought beside. “What’s he talking about, Will?” he asked, groggily.

“Sleep, Gregaro,” Will said, his voice dripping with sympathy. “There’s a lot to catch you up on.”

“Where’s Ginny?” Gregaro asked. His eyelids never felt heavier.

Will said nothing.

“Did I tell you? We’re getting married…” Gregaro closed his eyes, and cracked a smile. “When I asked her, she gave me this kiss like you wouldn’t believe…”

To Be Continued... wrote:Isaac Newton sends two people back to the past...
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Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1216

Postby Michuru81 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:11 pm

Chapter CXVI
Months had passed since Pother had used the Lance of Longinus to finish off Perihelion, Polaris, and Threshold. Lashing it to Ruyi Jingo Bang, Pother announced her intention to hunt down the rest of the Pantheon before word of Sol Invictus’ death created a power vacuum. Conclave and the others were still out there, and she was determined to make sure none of them tried to take their father’s place on the throne of Jovian Empire.

With the Ragtime destroyed, she and Ginian each took one of the ships that had brought the Pantheon to Dorigatti. Saying their goodbyes, Pother headed deeper into the Solar System, while Ginian returned to Earth. Much as he wanted to go with her, and continue the Vindicators’ crusade against the Pantheon, Pother insisted one of them return and tell the Illuminati what had happened here…

For months, Ginian flew in silence, mulling over all he had seen and heard in his time since meeting the Vindicators. He had gotten to know them, only to bury them. Echelon, Legacy, Umbra, Pauldron, and Aphelion—it fell on him to tell the Illuminati how they had died fighting Sol Invictus.

As he flew, he considered the day he left Earth. His father had pulled Aphelion aside—had spoken to him privately. Ginian knew now that they had conspired together—plotted to include him on this ill-fated journey across the stars. Had they known that things would turn out this badly? Had this been their intention all along? As Sol Invictus’ other half, Aphelion knew how the villain thought—he had to have known how he would react to the deployment of the Sentries. The robots were intended to sow doubt, and make the people of the Jovian Empire question the Pantheon’s divinity. Aphelion had to have known that Sol Invictus would respond with genocide, so why execute such a plan at all?

The more he thought on it, the more apparent it was to Ginian that his father had used the Vindicators to draw out Sol Invictus and force a confrontation—a confrontation he apparently wanted his son present for.

As the months passed, Ginian was left with far too many questions. He was thankful when his ship landed in New Sapporo. He was anxious to find his father, and force him to answer his questions…

He didn’t have to look long: the sight of a Pantheon ship landing in a city whose existence was supposed to a secret created quite a buzz. Normally, he wouldn’t have taken such a risk: the semaphore towers monitored all comings and goings in the atmosphere. Once he was on Earth, the Jovian Empire would be tracking his movements. Then again, if Pother was successful in her mission, there might not even have been a Jovian Empire to fear anymore.

Still, the people of New Sapporo didn’t know what had happened on Europa. Whispers spread like wildfire, and it wasn’t long before his father’s drones took notice. Though it took less than an hour for Isaac Newton to arrive where he had landed, Ginian had spent months waiting to face him.

Even seconds were too long to wait.

“What happened?” Isaac asked.

“The Vindicators sacrificed their lives to bring Sol Invictus down,” Ginian intoned. “Pother and I were the only survivors. She is hunting down what’s left of the Pantheon.”

The throngs that surrounded them cheered triumphantly. They didn’t care what the cost was: they were overjoyed at the news that the Jovian Empire was crumbling.

When it became obvious that their revelry would prevent the father and son from exchanging anymore words, Isaac waved for Ginian to follow him. They braved the rejoicing masses and were soon behind closed doors—alone, save for Anne and the inactive Sentry replacement parts lining the walls.

“Aphelion?” Isaac asked. “Did he…?”

Ginian nodded glumly.

“Did he give you anything before he died?”

Ginian looked up in confusion.

“He didn’t.” The immortal said those two words as though he were cursing. “What became of the spear?”

“What?”

“The spear, Ginian: Longinus’ Lance? The Spear of Destiny? That was what the entire mission was for!”

Ginian looked at his father as if seeing him for the first time. “Pother has it,” he explained. “As I said, she is hunting down the other members of the Pantheon.”

Isaac threw his arms up in defeat. “The bastard was supposed to send you back to Earth with the spear, Ginian! A fragment of it—anything!”

“Father? I don’t understand…”

“He was supposed to manipulate the metal in you, Ginian—fuse the alloy of the spear with your body to enable you to become a god slayer!” He shook his head as he crossed the room back and forth. “I’ll need to get a communication to the Ragtime—tell Pother to bring the spear back to Earth…”

“The Vindicators are dead, father! Echelon, Legacy, Pauldron—all of them!”

“But your mission-”

“-is over! Sol Invictus is dead!”

“Dammit, Ginian!”

“Gideon.”

“What?”

“It’s what Pauldron called me. I… I started to like it.”

Isaac breathed in deeply. “No one is more pleased than I am that Sol Invictus’ reign of terror is over, and it breaks my heart to know the Vindicators are dead, but Gin—Gideon… Listen to me: I was aiming to accomplish so much more…

“Several decades ago, I found a book I’ve come to call the Hikari Protocols. Fortunately, the author saw fit to transcribe his thoughts using pen and paper—rather than trust them to be kept digitally. Though better known by his codename, Albedo, Hikari Himura was one of the Vindicators who operated out of Tokyo. Most importantly, however, he was a traveler. A time traveler, yes, but he was also something more… Like David Kennel, Beth Lamperouge, and Montana Monroe, Hikari Himura was a man who traversed both time and space.

“You see, time travel as it is commonly imagined is impossible. Imagine that were to go back in time, and alter the course of history so that your own life were to be changed. By doing so, you’ve created a paradox: you have eliminated the future you originated from, thus eliminating your traveling back in the first place. The universe is not so fragile a thing that it permits this to occur. Rather, by going back in time, your actions instead cause an entirely new reality to branch off.

“Our world is one of countless worlds, spawned by a single decision. When a new world is forged, every time a decision is made, more dimensions are born. The universe is composed of a vast cosmos of planets—some similar to our own and some that are beyond alien.

“Hikari Himura wrote that it was impossible to change what had happened in his world. By going back in time, he would not alter what had happened, but simply create a world where things had happened differently. Hikari traveled to a world where he changed the course of human history… and then he stayed there.”

Gideon looked at his father through eyes that shone with confusion. “Why are you telling me all of this?” he asked.

“You know about the machine I built to send probes to parallel worlds? I’ve been able to modify it to send probes backwards in time.” Isaac chuckled. “I set a safety on it, to make sure Sol Invictus never used it… If the Pantheon is finished though, I suppose I could calibrate it to send someone other than a Sentry back.”

“I don’t understand though: why do you want me to go back in time? We defeated Sol Invictus. This world is saved, father.”

Isaac gave a grunt. “Hikari was not the only one to make changes to history, my son. This world? All that Sol Invictus wrought? None of it was supposed to happen, son. Someone altered the course of history. Someone caused the river of time to fork, and this world is the divergent path.

“In mapping the cosmos, this branch is the only one where Sol Invictus comes to power. By manipulating the course of events, someone in the past inadvertently causes a war. According to Aphelion, it was during that war—the things that he saw—that forged Sol Invictus’ ideology. With the spear, you could have gone back in time, and killed him before he ever realized his true power.”

“All of this… This was to turn me into an assassin?”

Isaac raised an eyebrow at his son.

“You wanted me to kill Aphelion!?!”

“You don’t understand, Ginian! For every decision, more universes will be forged! If Sol Invictus is allowed to dwell in those worlds, he’ll come to power! Think of it as a library where every book ends the same way: Sol Invictus comes to power, establishes the Pantheon, and enslaves mankind! If he’s dealt with before he has a chance to become-”

“Aphelion was a Vindicator! He sacrificed himself-”

“This was all his plan, Ginian! He took you into space to retrieve the spear, so that you could return to me, travel back in time, and stop him before he becomes too strong!”

Gideon frantically shook his head. “I can’t! All those months with them… They’re like a second family to me, father!”

Isaac frowned. “I see,” he said. He turned, and slowly went to his desk. “Please leave us, Anne.” It was only when his other child had left that he budged: his hand moved to a small device at the corner of his desk. “I’m sorry,” he said before flipping the switch.

    ...

Gideon couldn’t move, but he could see. He could absorb all that was happening around him. “If you’re seeing this,” his father said, “then it means your memories have somehow been restored. I’m sorry for what I did, but I didn’t feel I had a choice. I doubt you’ll ever be able to forgive me, but please… try understand…

“I never considered that you would develop feelings for the Vindicators, nor that they would cloud your judgment. I don’t like it anymore than you do, but this is what Aphelion wanted. He hated what he became—what Sol Invictus did. More than anyone, he wanted to make sure that no one had to suffer because of his other half. Even now, I can hear his voice, urging me to have you complete the mission.

“And that is why I had to erase your memories.

“Please, son… For the sake every world that ever could be, it is up to you to do what is necessary. If you find him before he realizes he can manipulate the full electromagnetic spectrum, your body will absorb the only energy he can command: light. You are the greatest weapon for fighting him.

“You’re our only hope, my son.”

Isaac Newton touched a button on a control he held and sighed. “Begin new recording,” he said. “Display after Carl Hamilton manifests his immortality.”

Isaac cleared his throat and smiled. “Hello, son. If my calculations are correct you should just have defeated Greystone. Without your presence here, Greystone would have made it to the school, where he would have faced off against an army of his peers and—ultimately—forfeited his life to them. Your actions prove that the Hikari Protocols are right: the future is not written. It means you have the power to prevent the nightmares to come…

“I… I don’t have the slightest inkling of where to begin. My name is Isaac Newton and for lack of a better term… I’m your father. At least, I consider myself to be your father. I created you—you and your siblings—in an attempt to free mankind from their oppressive masters. You were born here, in my lab, in the year 2137, almost a century and a half from where I hope you have landed.

“I’ve been able to send scouts into parallel worlds in order to try and chart the catastrophes that lead to the nightmare we now know as reality. What’s more, I have discovered that our dimension is a deviation. In the original timeline, Neo-Sapiens went to war with each other. The battle spread overseas; sides were taken and before long, every SPB on the planet was drawn into the conflict. Humanity sat back and watched as they killed each other off, only to move in when the smoke cleared and eradicated the victors. Somehow, someone in the time period you are now in will change what was coming. They will have prevented the war and, in the process, given birth to our own world…

“Not long from where you are now, a girl is going to die. Her name is lost to history—we have Leonardo Loder and the magnetic storm of ’89 to thank for the destruction of all digital data more than forty-eight-years-old—but it’s her death that acts as the catalyst for a full-blown war between humanity and the SPB populace… like Helen of Troy in the Trojan War. This war will result in the enslavement of humanity, the birth of the Jovian Empire and the rise of Sol Invictus.

“Despite my abilities, I’m not a Neo-Sapien and therefore am counted amongst the Dregs. When I looked to the past for answers, I recalled how humans employed the Sentry units to combat SPBs. Needless to say our genetic oppressors would notice my cobbling together something so huge so… I set about building a unit that could easily disguise itself as a person. I had built a similar construct many years ago. You should have met her by now. Anne is more than your predecessor—she could be considered your big sister, I suppose.

“I upgraded her design and began to mass produce our new guardians—your brothers and sisters. As their purpose would be to blend in with humanity I made each one to look unique but all would possess the same functionality.

“In mathematics, there exists a force that describes the behavior of systems sensitive to initial conditions that cause an evolution of sorts. The conditions pervert the system and ultimately define their future dynamics. This random and deterministic element is popularly known as the butterfly effect or… chaos.

“You, my son, are pure chaos. Of all the children I created you were the only one to display a will of your own. Originally, in ancient Greece, chaos did not mean disorder but referred to a sort of primal emptiness. The word ‘chaos’ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘ginian’ which means ‘gape wide’ or ‘chasm’. As you displayed reasoning ability and a personality, I refused to call you by a serial number. Instead I began to call you ginian which… the Vindicators—Pauldron in particular—began corrupting into ‘Gideon’.

“That is your name, my son: you are Gideon Newton. As for your mission—your purpose—I sent you back to protect someone: stay by Carl’s side, Gideon—he is both our salvation and our damnation. Stay by his side; be his friend—act as his shield and perhaps the future you create will be far less dreadful than this one.

“Most of all, never forget that I love you so very much, my son.”

Again, Isaac clicked the button on the remote. “Begin new recording,” he intoned. “Display after Justice kills-”

The wall exploded behind him. Bricks and mortar fell as a blinding iridescence filled the room. Paralyzed by whatever the device on his father’s desk was, Gideon was helpless to do little but watch as Conclave hovered through the opening he had created.

“I really have to thank you,” said Sol Invictus’ son. “If it wasn’t for you, I never would have been able to find where the last of the dregs were nesting.” The dark-haired man chuckled. “It’s funny: my father always said I was his greatest disappointment… but who’s still standing?”

When he realized Gideon wasn’t moving, Conclave looked at him sideways. “What’s his problem?”

“He’s simply biding his time. Leave now, or I promise you a family reunion.”

Conclave chuckled. “I’m not buying it,” he growled. “See, he hasn’t moved an inch since I came in… He can’t, can he? My dad got in a few good licks before he went down, and you’re trying to repair him, huh?”

Isaac said nothing.

“I bet he wouldn’t do anything if I just… walked out the door with you—took you back to the royal palace. You’ll make a marvelous footstool, Newton.”

“Remember, Gideon… Remember: you have to stop Sol Invictus.”

Conclave raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about? My father’s dead…”

Isaac touched a button on his remote, activating the time machine. There was no time to push Gideon into the device—he had to have the device take him. “Lock on to all Sentries within a ten-foot radius,” Isaac said. “Send them to New York City, September 8, 2009.”

Energy washed over Gideon. It washed over the arms, legs, heads, and torsos hanging around the room.

It swept over Conclave’s prosthetic arm; too late, Isaac Newton realized his folly. Before he could cancel the order, the clothes Gideon and Conclave had been wearing dropped to the ground. The machine had taken the Sentries—the Sentries, and anything fused to them—and left all else…

    ...

Carl grinned. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut: going into space would be pretty cool.”

“Look, kid, I just don’t think that’s such a-” Portal’s words cut off at the light began to pull towards the young man’s palm. The energy spiraled around itself, turning into a funnel that just barely touched his skin. Suddenly, his rich, blue eyes were gone—replaced by a growing luminescence that gained more and more intensity as the light was sucked into his body.

For several tense moments the Vindicators watched in wonder as the young man siphoned the pillar that seemed to stretch into infinity into his body. The more energy he drank, the more his skin began to take on an uncanny radiance. Soon, it hurt to look directly at the teen and soon he had forced the pillar to disappear.

“Dude…” the Curler said. “I’m blind and even I thought that was Lundgren.”

With most eyes on the youth who had absorbed the pillar of light, no one noticed a naked man rise up out of the debris left in the column’s wake. His skin was pale and his hair was long and black.

Conclave looked around with a wild, confused look on his face. In a panic he scrambled out of what appeared to be a pile of robot parts. He tried to run on foot but without shoes, treading the rough pavement was uncomfortable and hindered the progress. A brilliant aura of light surrounded him and suddenly he shot into the air and blazed a path down the streets of New York.

Another figure stirred inside the fractured robot bodies. Arms, legs, torsos and heads tumbled out of the way as another nude figure rose up from the wreckage. “Sol Invictus,” Gideon said before collapsing atop the heap.

To Be Continued... wrote:Ten months! After ten long, tedious months of sporadic updates, the narrative finally returns to the present!

The present which is 2009, sure, but the present...
OUBLIETTE - NVAE: IC | OOC
Michuru81
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New Vindicators, Chapter 1217

Postby Michuru81 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:13 pm

Chapter CXVII: Suddenly Everything Has Changed
Tears rolled down Gregaro’s face. Gideon was paralyzed with shock. Torrent looked from them to Phase and anger flashed on his face. “What did you fuggin’ do to them!?!”

“It wasn’t him!” Prompt snapped. “John, the box is… Okay, this is going to be difficult, but that box? It’s some sort of… I dunno, mental reset button or something. Anyone who has had their mind altered in any way has that undone the moment they touch the cube.

“If anything, this guy just saved Gregaro.”

Gregaro was crying as Prompt moved to free him from his restraints. Gideon simply continued to stare off into space. “You two okay?” she asked, registering the strange expressions on both boy’s faces.

“Virginia,” Gregaro said weakly. “She…”

“I need to find Carl.” Prompt turned towards Gideon and was surprised by the fiercely determined look he now wore. “He’s the reason I—I know who his parents are.” Prompt’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Paralyzed by surprise, she was helpless to do nothing more than watch as the android rose up and march out of the room.
Only a pained grunt from Phase drew the young Esper back to reality. “John!” she cried. “Let up!”

“Are you fuggin’ serious!?!” Torrent exclaimed.

“I didn’t say to let him go,” Prompt said, “just to let up. He doesn’t deserve-”

“He deserves worse than anything I can do,” Torrent snarled. “This son of a bitch is Black Box! You remember them, right? The people who burned numbers into our arms, Christmas! He…” Tears began racing down the sophomore’s face. “He works for the people who killed my parents!”

“You don’t understand!” Phase exclaimed.

“I understand plenty!”

“Think about it,” Phase snapped, “why would a Neo-Sapien willingly work for an organization devoted to wiping Neo-Sapiens out!?!”

Torrent froze, obviously considering that Phase may have been another victim of Black Box’s machinations.

“I think you should start talking,” Dane growled.

Phase nodded. “As I already said, I was the first Neo-Sapien Black Box took. I was not, however, branded as Christmas and John were. I was taken long before Senator Bedford’s death sparked their rounding us up.

“Black Box took its name from the Tabula Rasa.” He inclined his head towards the cube Prompt now held. “It’s a relic from Mu—a device capable of restoring an altered mind to its original state. How it ended up in their hands is anyone’s guess, but it didn’t take them long to figure out what it did. It took them even less time to decide on attempting to weaponize it.

“Black Box’s best and brightest minds went to work on it and they found a way to harness its power in reverse. They built a room that could alter a person’s memories—make them believe anything they wanted—and used it as a power source. I was their first test subject. They brought me in, sat me down, and used the cube to make me see Neo-Sapiens the way they did. They turned me into an agent, and, following the raid on the school, I was tasked with infiltrating the concentration camp.

“I posed as Vincent Haynes in order to discern where those who had escaped Black Box had fled to. Somehow, I must have been made: one moment, I was surrounded by Black Box’s prisoners and the next, I was alone with the guards.

“I was blamed for your escape and punished. My allegiance was questioned and additional programming was prescribed. I was sent back to the Tabula Rasa chamber. Unbeknownst to my captives, on my exit, I brushed against the cube. I made contact and my mind was restored. They were oblivious though, and I thought I was in a good position to sabotage their plans from within.

“We had a handful of encounters with the Vindicators and I was able to slip messages to David Meinstein. I tried to help keep his team a step ahead of Black Box. Unfortunately, I failed to help him save the life of one of your classmates, Steve Potter.

“Working with the Vindicators, we’ve been able to close down several of Black Box’s bases. With them on the decline, they decided it was time to bring me out and helped me to stage my death. Since then, I’ve been working to fight Black Box.

“I came here today looking for an opportunity to speak to Doctor Howell,” Phase explained. “I took a female form, thinking I’d be able to dance with him during the reception, without raising suspicion. When Gregaro lashed out, I knew what it meant and knew how best to free his mind.

“You know the rest.”

“I’ll get Doctor Howell,” one of the Danes said.

“I’ll go check on Nurse McMenamin,” the other Dane offered before excusing himself. Without another word, he hurried out of the room, leaving Prompt, Torrent and a softly weeping Gregaro Vincentsson to deal with Phase.

It wasn’t long after he left that Phase fell out of the air. Prompt looked to Torrent who seemed as shocked as their captive was. “John?” she asked.

“Something’s wrong,” he said, aiming his arms towards a perplexed Phase. “I can’t control him…”

Prompt looked to Phase and noted he had reverted to his human shape, albeit not the shape he had taken after abandoning Annette McMenamin’s guise. Phase now looked to be a lean young man in his early twenties, whose body was covered in horrible burns. “It’s because he’s not water anymore,” she said.

“No,” Phase corrected, “it’s more complicated than that.

“I didn’t willingly transform out of my liquid state and I can’t morph. My powers are gone, and I’m guessing his are too…”

Prompt looked to Gregaro, knowing how best to test Phase’s theory. “Take off your coat,” she said.

The teary-eyed teen looked up at her strangely. “I’m sorry,” she said, as gently as she could manage, “I don’t know what memories the cube gave you back but right now, there are bigger things happening here. Please, Gregaro: take off your coat.”

Gregaro nodded somberly and slowly shrugged out of his trench coat. When he was free of it, Prompt grimaced at the lack of any environmental shift: the temperature had not dropped; frost was not creeping across the floor and up the walls.

“Our powers are gone,” Phase said solemnly. “Autumn’s been awakened.”

To Be Continued... wrote:Small victories.
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