Author Topic: Winds of memories (Cata RP Character background stories)  (Read 2259 times)

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5 years before the cataclysm, X7
Dr. Gardener and the children of X7

Mica reeled as yet another smack of the bright purple wiffle ball bat made contact with the side of her blanket covered head. The act of the "blanket party" was an old ritual for Catnip and Mica. A deep seated hazing from there childhood which, to the children of X7, held an almost religious significance. Mica toppled over and tried to get up, looking like a caterpillar in the middle of it's arching step forward, and Catnip gave her a hard swats on the rump for her trouble. The bat was raised again, and as it was brought down, Mica's sister shouted...

Alabaster brought his fist around and slammed it viciously into whiskey's kidney. As he did so, one of the other children shouted "promise breaker!" While another chirped up with "blanket party!" A third bellowed "snitch!"  Into his sheet covered face loud enough to deafen the poor mutant. Dr. Gardener watched it all with cruel amusement and turned the source of the party over in her hand. A screwdriver. Whiskey had promised Catnip he could get it for her. When he'd been caught, he'd told the doctors everything.

This ritual was familiar and fascinating to the doctors. As far as they knew, the hazing and the process which governed it we're entirely original. The children had just started doing it as a way to police the behaviors they most abhorred. Snitching and oath breaking. The children lied endlessly to each other, but never about anything serious, and if they didn't know a thing they would say so instead of trying to hide behind a lie.

Mica was up next, and Dr. Gardener leaned in for a better look. Mica was Gardeners favorite. She and Alabaster were the best X7 had produced. Alabaster was strong, but Mica was fast and clever. Gardener didn't know and would never find out that in a few years her colleagues would turn their finest candidate into a starving idiot. Mica laid into whiskey with a kick to the stomach that doubled him over. With her tail, the longest and most rat like of three tails among the children, she whipped him twice. Those strikes would hurt her as much as they hurt whiskey, but that seemed to be the point. Those Savage children down there had taken up the belief that what hurt one of them, hurt all of them and so they used their fists and feet instead of the bars of soap in socks one would expect.

Finally, it was Catnip's turn. As the one sinned against, to whom the promise was broken, she would go last and her treatment of whiskey would be the most brutal. Sure enough, Gardener caught the glint in Catnip's hand. The "sacred" load. Security had searched high and low for the implement but again and again they had come up empty handed. The object was a brass rod obtained probably by the girl currently holding it and used by the children for just this purpose. Catnip brought her loaded fist over in a right cross that took her brother high in the temple and dislocated the fingers of that hand. It was nothing compared to the pain of the electric shocks she'd been given for her attempt at getting whiskey to smuggle her contraband.  She swapped the load and used her now loaded left hand to break whiskey's nose under the blanket. Gardener waved over security after taking note that it was the same blanket as every other time they did this. Something significant about the blanket, she theorized. Not that the children would tell her or anyone else.

"They've got the bar, Catnip's got it. If they are still fighting, break it up." She directed. Security would get there too late to break anything up of course, not to mention too late to find the bar before it was once again sequestered wherever the children of X7 hid it. They would never find that item, not even after most of the children were little more than floating tissue samples in cold storage. Catnip hit whiskey one last time, then whipped the blanket from his bruised and battered form. She took his face in her hands, as was their strange ritual, and...

Catnip pulled the sheet off Mica along the the belt she had used to fix it in place and took Mica's head in her hands. She placed a kiss on Mica's forehead and said simply, "I love you sister, will you stand?"

Mica looked into Catnip's eyes and rubbed her bottom, then responded "My-ka will stand."

Catnip kissed her again and finished the "ritual" saying, "Then stand by me. I forgive you."
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 08:23:29 am by saltmummy626 »
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Timeline: ? ? ? ?
Location: [REDACTED]
Characters Involved: Dr. Hoyt Upton, Head of Security Carrol Hitchcock.

The relatively spacious overseer's office was debatably far more cramped once you factored in that it was being used as a living space for two people. It was one of the few relatively nice rooms in a building of cold cement and bulletproof glass and misplaced shadow so thick you could lose your hand in it.

It had an actual carpet. It was an ugly, speckled maroon and green pattern, but nonetheless, it made it feel a little more homely. There was a brown leather couch with a quilt thrown over it in front of a glass table. There were cluttered wooden filing cabinets lining the wall. And there was a grand mahogany desk, a massive, beautiful thing, positioned in front of a small bed that folded neatly into the wall for space.

There was a man sitting on the bed behind the desk, and a woman sitting on the couch with the quilt. They weren't talking. They hadn't talked for hours, and they normally preferred it that way. Not that they didn't like associating with each other. In fact, they were something akin to best friends. As close as people like themselves could have to friends, at least.
The woman was staring hard at two objects on the table before her. The first was a bottle of vodka, about half full. It was some premium stuff, not your run-of-the-mill rotgut. It was distilled from Californian wine grapes. It wasn't flavored. She preferred it straight and to the point. She'd already had a good amount, but not as much as she usually had. The second object was a gun.

It was a sleek, black, intimidating thing. State-of-the-art. Caseless rounds and worth a small fortune. It was a perk of the job. Hadn't even undergone military trials yet. Not that it ever would, mind you. Some PMC in South America probably had access to it from their corporate sponsors. Probably executed a few dozen kids with it. The usual. Not that it mattered anymore. She guessed those kids would be dead anyways. So would the mercs. So would everyone else outside of this building, as far as she knew at this point.

Not that they'd last much longer, either. She'd seen what was in the basement. Hell, she'd fought against what was down there. Not that it did much. Lost some of her best men and women to masses of screaming intestines and fat men with the heads of drooling bulls and roiling protoplasmic piles of eyes. Those things were locked down there, for now, but who knows how long that'd last.

At the thought, she made up her mind and grabbed the vodka. She'd need some more in her if she really meant to do the honorable thing and blow her own brains out.
And then, there was the man. He could sense his compatriot's internal struggle, but he did nothing to stop or encourage it. She was strong, and capable of making her own decisions, even when blackout drunk. Something they have in common, he thought, as he tipped back a small pill bottle and swallowed the last two morphine tablets within.

Before him, on the grand mahogany desk, was a book and a vial. The latter was a delicate thing, thin, almost crystal-like glass and an antique cork stopper. It was filled with something that, to the untrained eye, was a bit hard to identify, to say the least. It was a wispy, almost ghost-like powder, light blue, almost white. Its movements were hard to describe when the vial was moved. But they were off, no doubt about it.

This was of secondary importance, however. The doctor had already examined this substance thoroughly. They'd gotten a good amount, after all. He'd seen it before. Long before he'd seen his compatriot in the room blast it out of a screeching tendril with a shotgun. He couldn't remember what state it was in. New England, for sure, around where he was now. There were recollections of a basement in an estate. A corporate retreat. Meeting the donors. The reputable men and women who fund research into modded sex slavery and turning homeless people into bio-weapons. Something to do with a "ritual," robes, and other bullshit. Something to do with "true alchemy," whatever that was supposed to mean.

Now he wished he had learnt what that was supposed to mean. Damn that donor's expensive wine and uncut cocaine.

It was no large worry, though. The book held the secrets, he was sure. It was hard to glean them, exactly. It was hard to read a book written in seven languages, two of which were obviously carefully manufactured ciphers. Either that, or he had just never encountered a language made of spiked triangles and swirls before. He'd met people who could speak and write in multiple languages in the past, but never a man or woman who could eloquently, hauntingly write in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and Latin before. Especially not while combining the five, sometimes in the same sentence.

Thankfully, he had all the time in the world and more. There was a lot of steel between him and the outside world, and a lot of guns between him and the basement. He had no idea how long it had been. Time sped up and slowed down at the whim of the chemical train he was a passenger on. His friend on the couch probably couldn't tell him her own name half the time. Sometimes he forgot his own.

His reading was interrupted by a knock on the steel door to the corridor outside. It was a steady, polite sound, delivered three times by a gloved hand.

"It's open." He rasped, unused to the clicking of his recently fanged teeth.

The door retreated into the slot at its side at the knocker's touch, revealing a relatively tall silhouette dressed in a lab coat much like his own.

"Ah. Ilyushin. Come in, sit."

The figure stepped forward a few paces, a stiffly pronounced gait, obviously somewhat tense.

"If this is about the dead guards, I've already notified you. They're to be fed to the subjects. We're low enough on food as it is.
 Hell, might be an improvement for them."
He coughed into his coat's sleeve, the woman on the couch finally looking over from the sound.

"It isn't about the dead, Hoyt." There was a pregnant pause, and a more pronounced tensing of the figure's form. "It's about the living."

One of the figure's gloved hands slipped into his coat pocket. There was a telltale mechanical click as he pulled the hammer back.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 05:58:22 am by Forrest »
Area Record 1782:
Date: 08/29/██

Event: An elderly human feeding itself to a group of kakapo. Did not express pain, appeared ambivalent.


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(( Written by both Wilson and I. ))

Timeline: About 4 years before the cataclysm, 3 months after a notable raid on one of The Sanguine Order's hideouts.

Characters Involved: Thomas McKinnon, Lucian Hawdon, Elja Hansen

"Subire mortem tuam, sub malleo deorum..."

"Oi, El-" Lucian stopped dead in his tracks, a hand gripping his arming sword. There was a middle-aged woman, face concealed by a beaked mask resembling that of a plague doctor. Along with it was the black linen and wolf fur trim of a mantle of shadows, richly decorated with feathers. Taken from a follower of He From Beyond The Veil, of course. "D-don't..." the woman, known to Lucian as Elja, said in a strained voice, before hacking up blood.

"You've brought a mere boy into this, lanius." the aging mage hunter said calmly, regarding a man in his early 20s. Lucian stared at her, then back at Thomas, the man in the copper-decorated mask and scaled cloak continuing. "How many of my brothers and sisters have you two killed? And how many innocents, with no stake in this, have died because of you?"

Lucian tried to hold up his mentor as she collapsed, struggling faintly to breathe from crushed ribs driven deep into her chest, the result of a clash Lucian interrupted. "You're not going to believe me, but we've only attacked those who have a stake in this." he remarked coldly.

"It's the job of the magi to bleed innocents dry, isn't it? And yours to protect them as they do that." Thomas spat out hatefully, watching as Lucian eased the dying woman onto her side. "Well then. This is the consequence of such actions. Stand, shrike. And may you join your mistress in Odin's Hall."

Lucian glared at the masked man. Even knowing that last remark was a deliberate mockery of the Sanguine Order's tenets, it still incensed him. "...what fucking god would allow this to happen? Fuck. Your. Gods." He tightened his grip, sword pointed at Thomas. He reached inside his coat, tossing three masks onto the stone floor. "Your gods haven't helped these sorry saps."

Thomas glowered at Lucian from under his mask, a long decorative beard of copper serving to provide added protection to the throat. "And your precious Path to Power didn't help her in the end." he said, gesturing to the slain shrike before readying his hammer. "Now. We've a cycle of revenge to break. Stand and fight, murderer."

Lucian didn't hesitate to quickdraw the blunderbuss, sending a cloud of black powder and buckshot towards Thomas. As he lunged towards him he threw the mass of the single barrel with full force. Thomas staggered, almost knocked over as the shot ripped into him, a familiar glow emanating from his cloak as he met that charge. A swing of his hammer knocked the barrel aside, a snap-kick aimed at Lucian's leg.

Lucian side stepped as he stared at Thomas with a bitterly cold fury. With a flick of his wrist a small double barreled zipgun was aimed towards Thomas, a .38 round ripping into his flesh as Lucian slashed towards his hammer-hand. At this point Thomas was lashing out more aggressively, seemingly in a berserk fury as he pressed the assault, not seeming to react to the round fired point-blank into his chest. The blade biting deep through boiled leather however had a clear effect, shouting something incoherent as he dropped his weapon. Cue whirling around with a left hook from his good hand, aimed square at Lucian's jaw.

Lucian stumbled back, dropping his own sword. He pulled back the hammer of the zipgun as he spat out the blood in his mouth. Lucian punched Thomas square in the gut as he followed up with a .38 round to one of his kneecaps. Thomas knew well enough that the boy had one more shot left, a dark green shirt under the cloak increasingly stained by blood as he did his best to wait for the right moment. He had one more charge left in the cloak, and couldn't waste it.

But the round dropped him to a knee, screaming in anger and pain as the gilded aegis struggled to mend the shattered kneecap, along with fragments of ribs driven into his left lung. At this point the best he could manage now, still struggling to draw breath and weak from the blood loss he sustained, was grapple at Lucian frantically.

Lucian was knocked to the floor, the air being knocked out of his lungs. "Fuh!-" He gasped out as the larger man pinned him to the floor. Thomas was glowering at the shrike, his expression under the mask matching the red-eyed, hateful visage of the bearded figure it depicted, hands fumbling and trying to clasp at Lucian's throat. Even as the strength to fight was fading rapidly, blood still oozing from the wounds his tattered cloak struggled to mend. "H-hel..."

Lucian wheezed, as the large hands grasped against his throat. He struggled to breathe as he desperately patted against the mask, his hands grasping it and his thumbs drove deep into the eyeholes. Lucian pressed his thumbs against Thomas's eyes, the pain causing him to recoil and release his grip. Lucian kicked him off, rubbing his throat and coughing.

The man's grip went slack, jerking back as his eyes were gouged out, toppling over as a result. For a moment, he could be seen struggling to try and crawl, reaching for Lucian's sword as the mask's senses compensated for the loss of his sight. But he didn't make it far, toppling onto the floor in a heap, the mask's metal warping back into its normal form as he went limp.

Lucian got up, shuddering. He walked up to the corpse, sighing as he scooped up the masks off the floor and taking off Thomas'. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped off the blood, sliding them into the large pocket inside his coat. As he put the masks away, he grabbed some wildflowers that he picked earlier. He gently set the flowers against Thomas' chest, settling his hands against them.

He stared at the gouged out eyes, dark red pits. He gently closed his eyelids as he got back up from taking a knee. He walked up to his mentor, " didn't deserve this..." Lucian murmured,  grabbing the birdlike mask off her face. He pressed his forehead against the mask and began to sob. "Elllljaaa..." He wept softly, shaking as he let it out until a taller man in dark plate armor found him.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 03:41:22 pm by Chaosvolt »


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Timeline: 9 years before the cataclysm.

Characters Involved: Sofia McKinnon.

A woman, appearing to be in her mid-forties with long, slightly-faded blond hair, gave a wary glance at the cavern entrance looming before her. The simple navy blue dress was uncharacteristic of the gear her brethren made infamous. But the holy symbol around her neck made her allegiance clear. A cross, its lower half transitioning into the hammer Mjölnir.

She approached the entrance, regarding the darkness warily as she reached into a simple messenger bag, retrieving a mask she donned to perceive her path. The metal mask depicted a feminine divine figure, steel decorated with bright, polished brass to represent the hair framing its impassive expression. She came here alone and unarmed, bearing none of the weaponry that The Cleansing Flame favored. But she had a mask of insight, the one constant among every member of her order.

The path through the cave tunnels took her through what would've appeared to be a dead-end hidden in the shadows, but through the vision of her mask it radiated with faint hints of energy, a barely-perceptible ring marking a doorway obscured by an illusion.

She raised a hand, as her first step into the true depths of this place was met by a bolt of lightning that arced through the air, flowing around her harmlessly as a strange aura surrounded her. Well, now they'll know I'm here. she thought. She remained there, calmly sidestepping another almost-undetectable rune bound to the floor, avoiding another trap. There she waited, deactivating and removing her mask as a strange light filled the tunnel.

"You intrude upon this place, hunter." a voice called out, as the light revealed a trio of robed figures. The speaker was the one in the middle, holding a strange sword. Even without her mask on, by appearance and instinct alone she knew what it was. A sword of the void, an old one in fact. Converted from what was once a rather mundane arming sword, and making its wielder's origins clear. Once, a member of The Knights-Errant of Christ. One of the founding members of The Cleansing Flame.

"You will find I am no hunter. I am not here to reopen old wounds, but to mend them...Grandmaster." she said calmly, and the man visibly tensed up. "Do not dare throw that old title at me. Sofia, isn't it? Still calling yourself Thane, I bet?" he practically spat out.

"It's not like the Jarl will deny us this, when you slew him with that terrible thing during your quarrels." Sofia remarked. " I am here for a reason." she continued, and he shook his head. "You want us to turn our backs on all the progress we've made, and return to blindly lashing out at what you don't understand?"

"No. I know that our paths have separated, such that any hope of reunion is a distant one. I have seen it in my visions though. It does not need to end in more bloodshed. We have both strayed from the vows we swore. But our order has grown. Studied the practices of rogue arcanists, puzzled out by our own means, seen that other ways can be valuable to humanity. It is only a matter of caution."

"And they'd go right back to nitpicking every discovery we make, questioning and denying us the only reliable, sustainable source of essence we've been able to find! The only one that doesn't require scavenging on the scraps of monsters or weakening The Veil further. We're close to a breakthrough that will make our use of blood magic obsolete, but if you meddle with our research it'll take a generation to see through!" Johnathan shouted, raising his sword. A malevolent purple aura engulfed it, sending an unnerving chill through the air as the other two deployed bionic blades.

Sofia simply shook her head at that. Even with the overt threat displayed before her, she remained calm and unyielding. "That is not the reason we draw upon this power. Look at me. We have found our own ways, and no doubt you have too. How much risk, how much does the soul falter as your spells take their toll? What we've learned could do so much for your methods. We could be allies again." she offered, and the man just glowered at her. "I've no need for your parlor tricks, neither pity nor mercy, not anything you believe you can offer us. You are among the impure, Thane. Your presence here defiles this place and endangers everything we've worked towards." he said, motioning for the other two to stand aside as he advanced.

Sofia simply watched as though she was looking right through him, icy blue gaze meeting his own brown eyes. "They will come. To offer peace and restore what our strife has destroyed, or they will return your hatred in kind and exterminate you. Please, Johnathan..." she moved to catch the blade that swung in a wide arc at her, a powerful glow intensifying as it met the aura of harvest. Even then she could feel its intensity, a sting in her hand right through the warding spell. She moved with a calm, reserved grace to turn the blade aside and pull away.

In the instant the robed man recovered to lunge at her, she'd backpedaled through the illusory wall. A moment's effort and a strange power filled the projection, turning the illusion solid. Sofia had cast one of her protective spells to subvert it and turn the doorway into a barrier. Knowing they'd take it apart in short order, she turned to run. She wasn't here to fight them. As far as she was concerned, her mission was a failure.

She retraced her steps in seconds, bolting for the light of the cavern entrance, when she froze in shock. Johnathan was already there, between her and the cavern entrance. "Your parlor tricks won't help you elude me, hunter." he said coldly, advancing towards her. "Now stand and fight!"

Sofia looked the robed figure over, before glancing at her hand. There was a deep gash all across the palm where the sword had marked her, even through the spells that protected her. She looked back to him before standing firm, the odd glow she gave off vanishing. "No. You are my brethren, though you deny it." she said, Johnathan glaring at her as he approached. Getting past him and trying to elude him would be futile, and she had no intention of going back on what she said. She wanted to make a point of not harming him. "I am no longer your brethren. You are impure, as is the rest of your order." he said. In an instant, the sword wreathed in purple flames ran her through.

She gave a sharp gasp as the aura of harvest burned into her chest, strange wisps of blue flame on her breath as she struggled to speak. "It d-didn't...need to end like this..." she choked out. The sword of the void drank greedily of her fading life and very soul, draining everything it could until nothing was left but a lifeless body. Johnathan didn't give the act a moment's thought, letting it consume and destroy every mote of energy in an instant.

As he walked back into the darkness of the cave, flames snuffed out as he let the blade rest once more, the other two robed figures approached. The trick used to convert an illusion into a barrier was simple enough to break through, as it was only intended to delay them. "Make preparations for our departure. They'll be on this place like wolves on a wounded deer, once they realize she hasn't returned as planned."

"And the body?" one of the others asked. "...leave her where she fell. Let it serve as a warning to them, that Shadows of Arcana will not tolerate their meddling."
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 03:55:42 pm by Chaosvolt »


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Time: 10 months after the cataclysm
Characters: James

The would be bandits had broken into the building and taken the weapons from its inhabitants. Hearing the screaming coming from inside the armored man who’d been walking past stopped. After another scream he sighed and pulled the 1911 from the holster integrated into his vest along with the short sword that hung from his hip.

As he walked through the door he could hear the bandits taunting their victims. Slowly making his way through the home to the master bedroom he noticed the mirror in the room. Taking a mental note of where the armed intruders were in the room he brought the arm carrying the sword back.

Stabbing through the wall and into the back of one of the bandits the armored knight fired a duo of rounds that sent sheetrock flying before ripping into their targets. Ducking down the man pulled a knife from his vest as the bandits sprayed the wall above him. After a few moments one was told to go check and the man adjusted his grip on the knife.

As the raider rounded the corner and shouted the man drove the knife through his throat as he entered the room with the pistol raised. A trio of 9mm rounds hit the balistic vest as the knight passed through the doorway. Firing his own pistol he put the two raiders left in the room down with shots through the skull.

Letting the mostly empty magazine of his pistol slide out and hit the floor the knight reloaded it as the man and woman in the room stared at him. The man managed to say “They..why did you come to save us?”

Holstering the pistol the knight pulled out a roll of guaze and approached the two. Ignoring them flinching he grabbed the woman’s arm and began bandaging the cut one of the raiders had given her. “One of our tenants and my own personal morals required action. I suggest you take the weapons of your former captors and protect yourselves. You’ll see little sympathy from strangers these days.”

The woman let him finish before asking “Is there anything we can do in return? We don’t have much but we have to do something to thank you.”

Shaking his head the knight told them “The only thing I ask of you is to protect yourselves. To ask any more of you would be irresponsible.”

Standing to leave the knight reached the door when they asked his name. Looking over his shoulder he told them “James.”

As he left he pulled his sword from the wall and wiped the blood stains off on a piece of cloth he kept for such purposes.

He noticed the people that had come out of the neighbouring houses when they heard the gunfire were watching him. Shaking his head at their cowardice as he walked James continued on his way. Running a hand along the Templar cross emblazoned on his helmet he sent up a prayer as he walked.

Time: 2 years after the cataclysm
Characters: James

James sat in an empty orphanage across from an elderly woman. The double barrel shotgun still lay on the table next to her as she handed him a cup of tea. Sipping her cup as he just sat there with his armor still on she commented “You should tidy yourself up don’t you think. Won’t do to get sick because you didn’t clean your armor.”

Leaning forward as he held the cup in both hands James tilted his head to the side as he said “Why would you care if a stranger falls ill? These days it’s more advantageous if they do.”

She knew the unspoken thought that would have ended his statement. They might become your enemy. Shaking her head she simply said “Especially in these times one must hold themselves to their principles. I decided long ago that I would anyone that came to my door and that won’t change now.”

James shook his head as he set the cup of tea aside untouched and stood. After a few moments, the old woman watching him the entire time, James said “Principles. I’ve seen so many betray those just to get ahead. Why should I believe anyone would stick to them now?”

The old woman simply sipped her tea before pointing out there was a reason he was traveling this way. “So tell me why would someone such as yourself come to investigate this orphanage.”

James had turned away at this point. Everything that had happened over the past year had left him angry. But the way this woman seemed genuinely concerned calmed him as he told her “I work for an organization. They left a cache of supplies in the uh..concrete in one of the rooms here. I need to retrieve it.”

The woman  nodded as she stood up and motioned for him to follow her. Soon she had led him to a small storage room where she had stored the tools necessary for digging through concrete. “It is in here. Do try and keep the noise down deary.”
After she left James set to work. An hour passed before he pulled the metal case from the concrete and opened it. Taking the bandoleer and putting it on James retrieved the grenades from inside before taking the pair of pistols. One plated in gold the other silver with each engraved decoratively. Sliding one into a holster he looked at the other to see the words ‘One King’ engraved on the side of the barrel.

Standing he decided to leave the rations for the woman as he returned to the room and said “I’ve left some supplies you’ll find useful.”

She looked at him as he started to walk away and said “What was it your order always said? ‘Through loyalty to the kings we shall find salvation, through obedience we shall show loyalty.’ Perhaps you should take your lives into your own hands.”

James didn’t respond as he walked out of the orphanage. His life had been dedicated to an order that was currently suffering from internal chaos. Each king vying for what little power was left. Perhaps it was time for a change.

2 years 3 months after the cataclysm
Characters James, ‘Judas’

Jack had been a name that Judas hadn’t heard in so many years that it sounded as foreign as English had on his first day back after so many years in Russia. Now the armored man standing a few feet in front of him claimed to be his brother from so many years ago like a ghost that had come to haunt him. “What do you want with me?” was all Judas asked as he nervously watched James.

James sheathed his sword as he looked at a face he hadn’t seen since he’d left all those years ago at the age of twenty. Removing his helmet and letting his brother see his face James told him “I need help. It’s a dangerous job and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly but I’ve no one else to turn to.”

Judas closed his eyes for a moment as he asked “What happened to us?”

James raised an eyebrow as he asked “Excuse me?”

Judas walked over and grabbed his brother’s shoulders as he asked “What happened to us? We were both on the righteous path to follow in dad’s footsteps. But now..I was a gun dealer, I sold to African rebels and children on the streets. I killed people for trying to bring me to justice. We were good kids James.”
James put a hand on his brothers shoulder and said “You did what you had to do to survive. No one would hire either of us remember. You resorted to the only thing you could and I don’t blame you for it. I..I did as well. I became a knight in an order whose ideals aren’t exactly shining examples. And now I need your help to set that right.”

Lowering his head Judas sighed before stepping back and walking to the crate he’d been inspecting before James had shown up. Retrieving a Dragunov from the crate he said “Alright. I’ll help you. But after this we stick together. No more abandoning each other, we’re family. We have to stick together.”

James returned his helmet to his head as he told Judas “We will. I promise.”

5 years after the cataclysm
Characters James, ‘Judas’

James had left Judas at a vantage point over entrance of the building as he walked up to the guarded complex. He was allowed entrance and proceeded inside to a large room where a group of six men were arguing. Each wore a suit of armor but their helmets lay off to the side as they shouted to be heard over the others.

The stopped at the sound of him entering the room and locking the doors. “What is a Knight doing in this room?”

James retrieved the golden pistol from his belt as he said “Six kings have led us to ruin. Men sent to die in order to retrieve items whose power is supposed to be great but proves useless in helping the common folk. Only more coins in the kings purses to be used as currency in their power plays.”

Almost in unison they shouted “HOW DARE YOU QUESTION US!”

James shook his head as he said “I don’t question you. I defy you.”

The first shot tore through the throat of the King at the head of the table before the second bore a hole in another’s eye socket. The third managed to throw his helmet at the wall behind James before falling to the ground dead. The fourth and fifth were dead before they could make much progress. James pulled the trigger again and the weapon malfunctioned. Tossing it to the side and unscrewing his pommel as the remaining King retrieved his own weapon James brought one arm back and hurled the metal ball into the King’s head with enough force that he heard a cracking sound as the pommel made a dent in his skull.

With them all dead he returned his own weapons to their holsters before taking each kings pendant and setting them on the table. Setting the explosive charge on the table James smiled. He was almost done. Walking out the door he was greeted by the sight of men in armor leveling rifles at him.

Looking into the room some of them came to a decision and nodded to each other before slaughtering the others. “Hail to the new King!” they said as he motioned for them to lead the way out.

They reached the lobby of elevators when he came to the realization that even with these men on his side they wouldn’t make it out. Lifting the detonator James pressed the button…

Time: 5 years 2 months after the cataclysm
Characters: Judas, James
James had expected to wake up in hell. Instead he sputtered to life as an elderly man leaned over him. “So he awakes, good good.”

James sat up and looked around to see Judas watching, rifle cradled in his arms. The elderly man told James “You live still if that is your concern. I had to use many magic crystals to heal you but Judas here has payed for my services. Now, I do need to inform you that the crystals that I used will have lasting effects.”

Pushing himself to his feet James found that he’d accidentally tossed himself forward and a couple of feet into the air before crashing face first into a concrete pillar. Sliding to the floor he muttered something as the man told him “One of those being that one of the artifacts still in your body promotes strength. You find that you’re stronger than you once were. You’ll also most likely heal faster than you once did.”

Judas shrugged to his brother when he received a questioning look. James carefully got himself to his feet as he asked “And this is permanent?”

The man took a puff from a pipe before saying “That I don’t know. Possibly. Now be on your way.”

James was surprised at the roughness of the man’s tone but motioned for Judas to lead the way out. As they exited the building James asked how long he’d been out and Judas informed him at had been two months. James suddenly realized why the man had been so eager to get him out if it had been that long. Moving along the pair wondered to and fro not quite settling anywhere.

Time: 8 years after the cataclysm
Characters: Judas, James
James was surprised to hear his two way sputter to life as a radio call went out. A voice he’d never heard before said "I'm sorry to inform you that Commander McCall..Roland passed away this morning. He was surrounded by those he sacrificed so much to help. We'll be holding a funeral for anyone that wants to attend. We'll radio the details when we have them, for now Krieg is on his way to deliver letters for those left behind. I'm sorry, I don't know what else to say. Normally Krieg's the one to be giving this news.."

Judas heard it as well and James saw him pale at the name mentioned. Staring at each other for a few minutes Judas finally managed to choke out “’s dead?”

James shook his head as he hugged his brother and said “Maybe it was a different Roland.”

Judas hugged him back as he said “A different Roland McCall? Me and you both know the chances.”

James thought for a few minutes as they cried into each others shoulders. Finally he said “We’ll keep an ear out on the radio, maybe we’ll get some more details.”

Regardless they’d stay in the area for a time to see what else they could find out. James kept an eye on Judas as the pair made camp and tried to figure out how to feel about the news. Neither would come out of the day happy James knew that much. Retrieving his pistol James read the engraving again, 'one king'. As the last member of the order he supposed that he inherited that title.


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Time: 6 years after the cataclysm
Characters: Anton, Gunnar
The wind howled through the hills as the pair pushed through the thick snow. Anton followed the tracks as Gunnar kept an arrow nocked on his bow. The white cloth of their cloaks made them blend with the snow as they weaved along the trail of tracks towards the treeline. There the tracks became muddled with wildlife as Anton kept a hand on his knife.

Stopping for a moment at a campsite that was an hour old Anton looked around to see if he could spot anything before sighing. Giving a quick look to his companion Anton received a nod before reaching up to pull a piece of cloth down over his eyes.

You are blessed by Ullr, god of hunting. Rely on all that he has given you child.

Anton always hated the first part of this. His vision was gone and his ears and nose were yet to fill in the gaps as he sat in darkness for a few moments. Then came the sounds. Gunnar’s breathing, slow and deep as he held the bow at the ready, the sound of a bird not so distant fluttering hither and to, then the sound of a twig snapping beneath a metal boot. Drawing his knife Anton motioned and heard Gunnar nod in response as the pair started into the woods.

One of the men they were after had fallen behind and was moving to catch up with his compatriots as Anton rushed through the woods. The noise of a tree branch whistling by his head, faintly scratching the side of his helmet, caused him to adjust course as the smell of polish guided him towards his target.

A grunt from Gunnar let him know he had the man in his sights and the sound of wood tensing as the arrow was drawn back. A bodkin arrow sung a whistling tune through the air as it thudded into a tree beside the man. At the same time Anton had jumped and then pushed himself through the air off of a nearby tree. Lifting a shield as he turned the waster only caught sight of the upside down head of Anton before the dagger dove through his eyeball.

The two hit the ground hard and Anton found himself disoriented for a few moments as he pushed himself to his feet and ripped the knife free to bring it back down through the balaclava of the waster again and again. A hand placed on his shoulder by Gunnar calmed him long enough for him to get control of his breathing again and stand.

Soon they were on the move again. Gunnar’s hood had fallen back as they rushed along the tracks of the other men they were sent for. The smell of fire and sizzling meat confirmed what Anton had thought as he and Gunnar stopped outside of a clearing. Nodding to his comrade Anton moved off to the side as Gunnar replaced the arrow in his quiver and pulled one that he’d pushed off to the side.

Remember my child when the time comes be ready. Prey will fight to preserve its own life. Never hesitate.

The arrow vibrated as it impaled itself on the front of a shield. The men in the camp turned as Gunnar let loose another arrow that made its home in throat of a second waster. As Anton rushed through the snow like a wild man he lifted his hand axe and hurled it into the back of one waster while he slammed the knife into the skull of another unwitting victim with enough force to bring both the body and himself to the ground.

As he ripped the knife free the first arrow Gunnar had fired exploded. The shield became deadly shrapnel that tore its bearer to shreds and knocked one of his allies onto their back. As a waster lifted his weapon to finish off Anton he found a knife stabbed through his genitals. An ear piercing shriek of pain erupted from him as Anton pulled himself up and pulled the knife free.

As he turned Anton found himself tossed to the side by a strike from a man bearing a large club. “I’M GONNA DRINK FROM YA SKULL!” shouted the man as he started for Anton.

Rolling out of the way of the first strike Anton scrambled to his feet while Gunnar sent an arrow into the man’s shoulder. Shrugging the wound off he continued towards Anton as a second arrow flew past his head and into a waster that had been sneaking up behind Anton. Throwing the knife in his hand Anton then turned to run towards the axe that was still sticking out of a wasters back.

His opponent followed close behind and let loose a war cry as he began catching up with Anton. Reaching a hand down he caught the axe and ripped it from the now stiff body. Turning to block the first swing Anton was sent stumbling backwards from the force as a second arrow struck his opponent in the back. Then the second swing struck.

His helmet bent from the force but his skull was intact. The nose piece had bent and he could feel it stabbing into his left eye. Rolling up to his feet he reached up and removed the helmet tearing the cloth from his eyes as he did so. Even the waster stopped in his tracks at the sight of Anton’s now blood red eye as blood poured onto his face.

The smell of iron clouded Anton’s senses for a moment. Long enough for the final waster to prepare another swing. Lifting the axe to block it Anton rolled with the blow this time and let the axe fall from his grasp. Instead he grabbed the arrow and pulled it from his foe’s shoulder. Ducking the next swing Anton drove it up through the man’s jaw into his skull.

Gunnar moved carefully over as he scanned the treeline for any more wasters that would try and kill the two. Once he had assured himself and gotten close enough he slid a packet of gauze from his bag and forced it into Anton’s hand. “Where’s my knife?”

Gunnar shook his head as he grabbed Anton’s hand and pushed it up to his head to try and stop the bleeding. “We’ll get your knife in a minute. Right now you need to deal with the bleeding aye?”

Anton blinked as he heard a distant twig breaking and the smell of fresh blood pouring out of his now dead foe’s skull. Pressing the gauze against his eye of his own volition he almost appreciated the smell of silk as Gunnar wrapped a piece of cloth around his head to hold the makeshift bandage in place. “Aye, but I need to find the knife Gunnar.”

Stepping back his friend said “I know. I just wanted to get that in place for you first.”

The two soon began the search and Gunnar quickly produced the knife from the ground. “Bounced off his armor. Even a stop sign bent around a man’s chest helps it would seem.”

Anton took the knife and cleaned it on his pants, staining part of them crimson. Stopping to admire the blade he smelled the copper of the blade. Motioning for his companion to follow they started back towards the village as he said “I need to see the shaman.”

Gunnar took a guess as the pair walked “The gift of Ullr?”

Anton merely nodded as he led the way back out of the woods. The mixture of sight from his one eye and the overwhelming sounds and smells of the forest were beginning to give him a headache. A steadying hand on his shoulder from Gunnar almost startled him before he gave his friend a smile and said “I’ll be fine. Just need to talk with the shaman.”

Several days later and Anton found himself awake at night. Tossing the knife from hand to hand to distract himself he sighed. The smell of burning wood and the sound of men practicing with blades kept him awake. Everynight he failed to sleep until the early hours of the morning. Stopping for a moment and mumbling to himself “One two three. One two three.” before tossing the knife again on three.


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Timeline: Various points in time pre and post cataclysm

Characters Involved: He From Beyond The Veil, The Archon.

Just over 25 years before the cataclysm.

The priests had researched and studied tirelessly. It was less than 5 years ago that a group of petty arcanists, The Silver Enclave, had been scattered to the four winds. In their wake, endless new discoveries were being made, refining this knowledge.

It was now however, that one of the esoteric priests had at least peered deeper into the haze that clouded their vision of the beyond. The cracks were widening, though at the time no one knew the true cause. No one knew the wound was first opened by science, not magic. It wouldn't be until the last decade before the cataclysm that extradimensional research would begin in earnest, yet the damage was already being done.

The high priest looked deep into this haze, and saw a light. Faint, distant. Scrying and worming around the planes that would, in a couple decades, disgorge more and more horrors by the day. Still the glow seemed distant, despite his best efforts. He was convinced he'd at least look past all that was known in this world, and find enlightenment beyond that attained by any other person on Earth. Past, present, or future.

The source was distant, and the route his spirit took was a winding one. Countless points of brilliance shone through the fabric of The Veil, and at each he could've stopped. He could've led himself to believe he found what he initially saw. These were false truths, false gods, false paths to enlightenment. He was certain of it.

Weeks without food, water, rest. Weeks in a state that was barely akin to life. Whether the first glimpse of the beyond he saw was really that which he found, or simply an illusion of great distance caused by how fine a pinprick the wound in The Veil was, no one would ever know.

He found a realm, distant in ways that few could even quantify. It too had a wound in The Veil, one that had lingered for almost three thousand years. Stable, controlled. He gazed into this rift, and something within returned the favor.

Far from the world and its impending cataclysm, a being watched. In turn he was being watched. Faint pinpricks of distant mortal observation. If it had been just one mortal scrying so far across the realms, he would've paid it no heed. Watchers misstep and peer through far-off realms all the time, by accident. Sometimes glimpses of other worlds are caught in the void between realms, reflections and shadows. Indeed, these same realms already knew of him, and others that held power over their domains.

But that had been nothing but an indirect observation, errant knowledge of the divine and their deeds over the course of eons getting caught in the right place at the right time. This was a deliberate act, done by a truly massive number of individual mortals, one each in countless related realms, all at the same moment in time.

Action was needed. To reach out and discover the cause of this event would be risky, a subtle act of manipulation affecting several mortal realms all at once. In his own domain, he was lord of war, of death, pestilence, famine. And the arbiter of all such things, of all terrible things that must be in balance for a living world to function. A domain that spread far beyond the one mortal realm by which this contact occurred, just one among six such beings with shared dominions.

To bring his true nature to bear would upset a delicate balance. But as his influence was woven into a distant projection, that soon spread to seize upon the minds that every single realm that reached out to him in that moment, he brought one facet of himself with him. His very core, the mantle of all that is grim yet necessary.

And whatever led to this provocation, he suspected it to be well within his sphere of influence.

Just under 20 years before the cataclysm.

The priests had assembled. The past few months had been a flurry of study, sacrifice, and communion. They had given a name to the figure. He From Beyond The Veil. As far as they could confirm, the first ever contact with something that was truly extradimensional, let alone divine.

They only knew what would facilitate his goals. He was a god from far beyond, and the only reason they ever perceived him was due to a growing wound in The Veil surrounding their realm. Along with hints that it might endanger not only their world, but others if it was allowed to worsen.

He saw the potential for a festering wound as a broad swath of realms displayed the same deterioration by sheer chance. Like many divine figures, especially those that held sway over multiple realms, he'd had plenty of time to observe for peculiar events. It had been about 20 billion years since anything even approaching this had last occurred, plus or minus a few misplaced millions.

A single order was carried out, resounding throughout the realms. 14 men and woman, again and again in each realm answered in unison, to swear their fealty and solidify the pact that would mark their founding as a new religion. Every single oath made was signed in blood. 7 of them drew lots and sacrificed themselves on the edges of weapons,forged for this purpose. This selection played out across these numerous realms, covering a sizable faction of every possible combination that could've ensued.

7 high priests and 7 weapons that would allow them to carry out his will, without needing to commit further blood sacrifice to commune. The loss of half their priesthood, and an oath that forever bound their highest council to half its original number, was deemed in all these realms to be an acceptable sacrifice.

They were to protect the new faith, uphold his decrees, bring balance and stability to a Veil that would soon bleed. Such was their oath to keep.

A few months before the cataclysm.

It had been a long, terrible road to pursue the orders laid out before them. Over the years they had suffered at the hands of The Cleansing Flame. Fanatics, consumed by their hatred of whatever they didn't understand. At times there was an uneasy truce. More often, there was war, assuaged only by the mage hunters embroiled in more pressing struggles with The Sanguine Order.

Speaking of which, the Keepers of The Oath and The Sanguine Order maintained an ambivalent, distant relationship. They knew that the blood mages could be quite callous in their pursuit of greater understanding, but like most others that learned of them, they knew little about their true nature. They had all the trappings of a religious cult, but they were no such thing. They despised the gods, of this world and far beyond, believing it to be weakness to accept servitude of the spirit in exchange for power.

But this nature was well-hidden, and the sanguinists eager to manipulate potential allies. It had been a few years ago when the Order reached the pinnacle of their research, only to watch it all fall apart. What remained of their most experienced magi came to the Grand Veiled Temple, a massive structure that hovered above the surrounding terrain, supposed seemingly by a spiral of free-floating stone.

They knew the Sanguine Order was on the brink of collapse, having split into cells and at risk of those abandoning The Path to Power outright. The Sanguine Shrikes, hunters of hunters, were in disarray and equally close to leaving the remaining magi high and dry.

In exchange for assistance in seeking out and gathering the remaining sanguinists, these magi brought with them a blade, to the unending gratitude of the high priest attending the temple. It wasn't just any blade, but one of the original artifacts marking their pact. Over the years these items had been lost or destroyed, one by one and crippling their ability to carry out his will.

They trusted The Sanguine Order, and paid the price. It was a standard ritual, to anoint the blade and sacrifice sacred volunteers, and weave power through a symbol of judgement clasped in the man's hands. Here, as in several other realms, of those that that yet to fall into the abyss by now, power flowed from symbol to sword, channeling a precise incision in the fabric of The Veil.

And with each instance, something went wrong. The high priest stood in wonder as the image filled their mind, body upon body, world after world. Shards of brilliant white metal cracked, peeling away and drifting like dust caught in the wind, revealing a blade with unnaturally dark steel. Runes in a script worlds away from their own had been engraved into it, the result of careful manipulation and scrying. It was a cry that ran throughout the void between realms, and this time He From Beyond The Veil wasn't the one to answer.

The Sanguine Order sought to manipulate this force after it was driven to purge and slaughter the faithful. In some worlds that survived to see the fruit of this labor, they would come to call the being The Archon. It too was a being of great power, though infinitely younger. A rival to the gods of that distant realm, to He From Beyond The Veil foremost among them all, for reasons lost in the endless expanse of the realms.

There, he too gained a foothold, and the Keepers of The Oath were broken a hundred times over.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 01:46:39 pm by Chaosvolt »


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Timeline: 3 days after the cataclysm

People involved: President Kyle Harkness

In an Air Force base near Cheyenne Mountain Complex, President Harkness and his general staff monitored the situation, regarding an array of monitors and a steady, intermittant stream of communications from what few units had weathered the mess that was zero day.

"What do we have left, men?" the president asked, a man seemingly in his fifties, though in truth he was still in his early forties. Going through a term or two always seemed to age someone poorly, but he felt like he'd get another year older by the day at this point.

"Still nothing from any of the forces operating with SPDs XI through XV, not since day one. Checking on status of IX." answered one of the men gathered there, another person perking up afterward.

"No more ICBMs in the air either since day before yesterday, looks like the PRC spent 90% of its nuclear assets on quarantine protocol. No signs of any attempted launches elsewhere since yesterday." she said, before the two looked at a monitor displaying an array of information, a report coming up on it.

Special Projects Division IV (Xenoform Studies)
Operation Windchime

All units are in place, subsonic projector arrays estimated to be 98% operational and awaiting final configuration.

Several of the installations are already compromised to varying degrees by fungimorphic X-rays (Designation: Mycus), and emergency protocols have only barely delayed the spread from Breach Site Alpha Eagle 12. We estimate less than five hours to get the arrays going, or they'll get around the Rockies and have the whole continent by the end of the day.

Secondary breaches seem to be under control, atmospheric analysis suggests secondary breaches originating somewhere in Australia and a possible breach in the Sahara Desert, conditions suspected to make containment by any survivors more feasible than AE12.

Casualty rate of SPD-IX at 68% as of this message. We almost lost 12-IV and 7-IV outright due to heavy fungimorph infestation, as well as Site 16's proximity to Research Directive X-231, which has been compromised by nephropomorphic X-rays (designation: Mi-go).

The president gave a heavy sigh as he looked to the men and woman assembled nearby, in heavily-armored MOPP gear, bearing shoulder patches depicting a swirling galactic disc and the designation IX. "Mister president. 1-IX is ready and awaiting your orders. We've secured the entrance to the secondary command center at Cheyenne, but innards are looking heavily infested by X-rays. There's a full-scale conflict under there between fungal hosts and what's left of the base staff, whole lot of them have been re-animated."

Kyle simply nodded as he stepped up, being led to the armory to suit up and make ready. It had been well over a decade since his time in the Army, and it was hard for him to hide how impressed he was with the way equipment had changed since then. Try as Rivtech might to emulate the look and feel of the old M4 series, there was no hiding the ambidextrous bullpup design, nor the complete absence of a traditional ejection port that the caseless design warranted.

The suit of power armor reserved for him was unlike anything he could recall being in common use back then either. Some engineering units had the suit's immediate predecessors, but this thing made them seem downright medieval in comparison.

He would prepare a final message in the hope of reaching anyone that might be left, then go with the remainder of company 1-IX to secure NORAD's secondary command center, requiring his biometric information to authorize and initiate what would become known as the howling towers. Then finally upload any vital info left in the mil-net database and rig the place to blow so the network couldn't be tampered with.

Given the risk that the command center itself would by a Mycus-infested mess, this was a suicide mission and he knew it. For the sake of morale, he had the message recorded and prepared in private.

"My fellow Americans. No, more than that. To all of humanity that may receive this message. I will keep the remainder of this message as brief as I can.

By the time this message is received, I will most likely be dead. Know that I died fighting, alongside the men and women here with me. I am hopeful that this final mission will contain the worst threat to come out of these portals. Might as well end with at least one success.

Do not attempt to open up the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, it will be either compromised or scuttled by the end of the day. Its purpose will have been fulfilled.

The history of The United States of America, and that of the entire human race, has been one of tenacity and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Never forget that. And never forget the principles on which this country was founded.

To any remaining military assets that may receive this, make use of whatever protocols prove useful in the dark days ahead, and dismiss by your discretion any that will not serve the needs of humanity.

God bless America, and God bless humanity. President Kyle Harkness, signing off."
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 11:53:23 am by Chaosvolt »


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Blue passed the bolt to Mica. Mica flicked it to Caramel as they passed in a hall and from Caramel it made it's way into one of the children's many dead drops in the lab. From the dead drop, it would be picked up by Lily and given to Whiskey during a brawl.

What he wanted it for was a mystery to everyone but the children themselves. The dead drops weren't too secret, at least the ones the science team and their security had tracked down, but the items usually found within were. The children were still small, growth hormones and genetic excitement having only been in use for a year. As such the children passing the bolt around the lab looked to be about seven or so, when in fact they were only around three or four. They were clever for their age.

It still wasn't clear, watching whiskey in the corner of his room, what he wanted the bolt for. Whiskey knew what he wanted it for though, he was just working himself up to it. The children did not yet know what a "camera" was. Only that the little red thing in the corner was watching them. Whiskey peered over his shoulder at it, his shoulder length blond hair obscuring his face from veiw and clashing terribly with the thin sheen of brown peach fuzz that covered his entire body. Of all the children of X7, whiskey hated the little red thing in the corner most of all. He glared at it with open hostility, sometimes even charging across the room like an animal and taking a leap at it. He couldn't reach it though, and that was what the bolt was for. He spun from the corner, arm coming out like a whip sending the bolt in a straight and true trajectory. The red eye in the corner winked out.

"Security, collect contraband from cell 3. It'll be a bolt. Camera in that room is damaged, bring backup." Crackled the intercom at the security checkpoint up the hall. Very shortly, two men would arrive to find whiskey stomping on the remains of the cameras external globe, but the camera itself otherwise undamaged apart from the red LED that indicated it's state.

In the room across the hall, Setsuna was standing naked in front of the two way mirror examining herself. She wasn't as smart as some of the others but she was observant and had watched the changes in herself and her siblings with suspicion and fascination since the first few shots. They were subtle changes, unless you were whiskey, who had grown a crop of thin fuzz, or mica, who had grown a tail. Setsuna's changes were more subtle, but none the less fascinating. She was paler, for example, and her teeth seemed to stick out a little further in front. Today, she was looking for different changes.

It came over her all of a sudden, the feeling of being watched. Not from the red eye, but by herself. Setsuna's reflection in the mirror was watching her with it's blue eyes hardly seen through her curtain of b Judging her. She slipped back into her gown quickly, not forgetting to tie it up in the back and then slipped under her bed with the blanket and sheet. Occasionally she stuck her face out to look back at the mirror and get a whiff of the air. It smelled to her like danger. It would be some time before they could get her out, and in the end she would in all likelihood stay put even then.

Two rooms down, beyond Mona and Snowballs empty rooms, Wolf and Mocha worked quickly under Oni's supervision. Oni was biggest, and that made Oni the boss of those three present. If Mica was here, it would be Mica, but she wasn't there so naturally it fell to Oni. What they were doing, was digging a trap.

They knew the big people would be there soon, so it was important that they be quick. Oni had given Mocha and Wolf spoons, given by Catnip for the job. It was that and the teamwork being displayed that made this instance unusual. The children often expected one another to accomplish their favors unaided. Catnip wanted a guards badge for the clip and plastic sleeve, and she had provided for the task a pair of spoons. They scraped and scraped until the rug and the wooden paneling beneath were a pile of shredded threads and splintered wood beside a very shallow depression and the spoons we're worn away to handles. Right on cue, the door opened and On I played his hand. Another tool provided, this one by Mica who wanted a guards light stick, made the real trap. Oni shifted his weight and jerked his right foot back, drawing the wire across the door at ankle level tight and tripping the guard. Oni was pulled down onto his legs, and the other children got to work. Wolf snatched the guards badge while Mocha withdrew the flashlight from it's loop on the guards belt. The two items vanished as quickly as they'd been taken and wouldn't be found until the sisters were done with them.

As for Oni, the guard kicked him hard in the face and would have done worse if not for the intervention of his partner.

"What the flying fuck are you little shits doing?!" He demanded. None of the children answered. It was very obvious what they were doing, digging a hole. The wire was dangled before them like a rotting fish, and they were asked, "and this?"

"So we can get out again if we fall in?" Oni replied unconvincingly. The guard looked at him, then let them go with instructions to not feed them for a day. Later still, Oni would present the items to his sister's, secure in a job well done.
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Timeline: Nearly 7 years before the cataclysm.
Characters Involved: Tajima Suzu

   Tajima stood outside a Ginza district club in Tokyo with another man, a man named Nashio. Nashio explained why they were there, “[Alright, Tajima-chan. Expect a couple’a bouncers to prevent us from takin’ what’s owed.]” He explained, twirling a baton in his hand. Tajima nodded, “[Got it.]” he said as they strolled into the front entrance. Taji slipped on a pair of brass knuckles as a bouncer stopped Nashio, only to be tripped and met with a dress shoe to the teeth.

   Two more bouncers ran in, One swung at Nashio while the other charged at Tajima. The bouncer threw a punch, The Calm Pheonix grabbed the bouncer’s wrist and the back of his head. He slammed the thug into a nearby wall face-first, as he fell to his knees Taji kneed him in the back of his head. “[Are we really neglecting the fact we could of talked to him?]” Nashio cackled at his comment, as he kneed the bouncer in the face. “Heeheehee! [It isn't as fun, dear Tajima-chan!]” He teased as Taji rolled his eyes as the two continued into the club.

   A good half dozen thugs, looking to be rival yakuza and bouncers are ready to fight, many of them armed with bats, golf clubs, and a couple of tantos for the rival Yakuza. Many of the civilians have already ran or are in the process of leaving through the back. Save for a woman sitting at the bar, wearing a green snake-skin jacket. “[Nashio’s always the forward one…]” She mumbled as she got up from her seat. Tajima looked over, “[Imada’s here, Looks like she had the right idea of negotiating first.]” Nashio cackled once more, “[She always had a stick up her ass!]”

   Nashio stepped to the side, as a bouncer swinging his bat down. He cracked the baton across the bouncer’s jaw, causing him to drop his bat. Scooping up the aluminum bat by the top end, he shoved the bottom into the Bouncer’s mouth once he stood up. Nashio brought the bouncer back to his knees before kneeing him in the jaw, breaking several teeth with a nasty crunch. He tossed the bat in the air, catching it by the grip and gripping it with two hands as rival yakuza with a knife ran at him. He was met with an aluminum bat to the face.

   Nashio’s eyes widened at the knife the Yakuza was wielding, “[They’ve got knives! All bets are off!]” Tajima turned, “[Rea-?!]” He was interrupted by nearly getting stabbed in-between the ribs, being saved by a kick across the jaw by Imada. “[Did Nashio-sama get you wrapped up in this again?]” She teased before Taji gave a glare, “[Now is not the time, Imada.]” He said as he dropped the brass knuckles and drew his own Tanto.

   Meanwhile, there is a discussion inside the owner’s office. The large fireplace inside roared “[Oh dear. Looks like the other racketeers are coming to collect.]” The rival Yakuza boss said, his sickly pale face turning towards the noise. “[Wh-what’re we going to do?]” The owner asked nervously, “[You said you were going give me benefits the Yuchi family couldn’t!]” The Shateigashira took out a golden chalice and set it against the mantle of the fireplace, “[Don’t worry.]” He said all too calmly as he took out a small cooler containing a blood bag, and his dagger. Skewering the bag, he emptied the contents into the chalice, one of the men guarding the door gave his boss a concerned look.

   “[B-boss? What’re you doin’?]” He nervously asked, before the rival grabbed his shoulder and gave the shorter man a unsettling smile. “[Don’t worry, I’m just much stronger than you are now…]” The thug widened his eyes, “N-nani?” He said before the dagger skewered his jugular and was tossed into the fireplace. The man screamed and gurgled as the fire charred his skin and bones. “Sit hoc esse necessarium vulnus in Velum…”

   The others stood, fixed by horrified confusion as the man was engulfed in flames, of such intensity that it obscured the grisly sight with a white-hot glow, and filled the room with unnatural heat that made every breath utterly stifling. It was only when the flames died down and the screaming ceased, that the boss' actions became clear. Instead of a charred corpse, something was scrabbling and clawing its way out of the flames, shedding embers and strips of burnt flesh as it crawled out out the fireplace.

   As it stood, the unnatural proportions of its muscular, towering humanoid form became apparent. It had the head of a bull, partially-burnt fur as white as the flames were at their peak, and its leathery skin bore distorted parodies of the tattoos that covered the thug's body. Much of the outfit had burned away as well, or seemingly been ripped by the unusual contortions of its body. The man's shirt, jacket, and shoes most notably had been reduced to burning scraps. What remained of its outfit, though scorched and charred, at least endured the form it was forced to fit.

   The second guard drew a gun, a small snub nose. “[The fuck did you do to Suto?!]” He barked, the boss simply smiled again and gestured at the Gozu who let out a huff in acknowledgement and charged at the guard. The ox tanked a shot in the side before grabbing the Guard’s wrists and yanking down roughly, the arms letting out a sicking pop as they were yanked out of their sockets. Those massive hands gripped the thug’s head and began to squeeze, and he began to scream in agony.

   Tajima drove his tanto into the last of the half dozen thugs’ gut, kneeing the knife to drive it in deeper. That was before they all heard the scream, “[The fuck is going on up there?]” He wondered aloud, “[Nothing good. We need to move.” Taji answered as Imada looked wearily at where the scream came from, “[I have a bad feeling about this…]” She said, grimacing.

   A mutilated corpse with a caved in skull was thrown through the wall, the Gozu stepped through the hole in the plaster and looked at the three. “[What the hell is that?!]” Nashio exclaimed. “[I don’t know, just keep it busy.]” Tajima said calmly, sheathing his tanto and tossing it to Imada.

   His eyes locked onto something, an antique sword. An old worn katana in a display case, he sprinted towards it and the Gozu turned towards him. The creature was met with an aluminum bat to the back of it’s head and the beast swung blindly at Nashio. Taji grabbed a barstool and threw it at the display, breaking the glass and sending the sheathed blade clattering on the floor.

   The gozu was stabbed in the side by Imada, followed up by a bat to the back of it’s head. The minotaur swung it’s arm at Nashio, sending him flying and the baseball bat clattering on the floor. A fist was sent at Imada, who dodged to the side and stabbed through the bull’s wrist. The blade was pulled out and driven back in-between the Gozu’s ribs. Tajima gripped the katana with one hand, and with a flick of his wrist, the scabbard was removed. With two hands on the handle, Taji was ready to get back into the fight. Nashio was back on his feet and took off his suit-jacket and jumped onto the Bull’s back, putting the coat over it’s head, blinding it and disorientating it. The Pheonix remained dead calm, running towards the gozu and slashing open it’s gut. It’s insides nearly spilled out, but Imada slashing it’s open it’s throat certainly didn’t help matters.

   The minotaur was brought to its knees and Nashio got off it’s back. Tajima rose the blade over his head, and brought it down onto the back of the cow-man’s neck. It’s head was severed from it’s shoulders and on the floor.

   A gunshot was heard from the other room, and the three couldn’t even get a breather in before they ran through the hole in the wall. They found the rival Yakuza boss standing above the dead owner of the club, a single gunshot to the head. “[Can’t have him blabbing about what he saw. Neither can you three.]” He said in a monotone, aiming the gun at the three. It was the guard’s snub-nose. Imada stepped forward, “[What the fuck did you d-]” and in response she was shot in the head. “[Stupid bitch.]” The boss said coldly, and Tajima was livid. “[Imada! I’m going to fucking kill you, bastard!]” He growled at him, the usual calm mask he being shattered as he ran at him.

   The boss aimed the gun, but as it was being fired, Nashio tackled Taji out of the way. However, he caught the bullet in the eye. “AAAGGGHH. [CRACK THIS BITCH, TAJI.]” He screamed out, and Taji obliged. He opened up by grabbed the boss by the arm, and kneeing the elbow. The rival yakuza let out a scream before Tajima put his hand to the back of his head and slammed it hard into the hardwood desk. The Shateigashira cupped the blood coming from his nose with his good hand before Taji grabbed him by the hair and cracked him square in the face. As he was on his back, the fuming phoenix stomped on the man’s ribs. He struggled to get back up, but he was only met with a stomp. Tajima ground the sole of his feet into the man’s face, before letting out a deep breath and sliding the gun away with his shoe.

   He helped Nashio up, and let him brace against his shoulder. “[We need to leave.]” Tajima said coldly, as the remaining two made their exit through the back, police sirens rang ever closer.

   The two of them were sitting at the desk, an older man rubbing his temples in frustration at the story relayed to him. He believed them of course, but that honestly was more of a headache than if he hadn’t. “[Even if the others buy this, what happened is going to cause quite a disturbance..]” the man muttered. “[It will take time to smooth things over. This is a bit beyond just keeping a low profile for a while. Beyond even the kind of discretion that killing one of the family heads would already warrant.]”

   Taji bowed his head, “[I understand, sir.]” He said solemnly, taking out his own tanto from inside his coat. He set his right hand against the desk, “[Taji-]” He said, only to be inturrupted by the family head. “[Tajima, stop. No need. You two have lost enough. I’d say Nashio’s eye is enough.]” He said, glancing over at Nashio, who looks away.

   “[It might be prudent after all this to move somewhere quiet in the meantime. I’ve already made arrangements, if you two find it acceptable. A contact who’s worked with associates here and in the states on multiple occasions, most notably after that incident with the Path of the Sun, couple decades back.]” he added. “[Brings back memories, though back then there were never stories of strange creatures like that, spiritualists or not...]”

   The family head sighed, “[I’m not going to let you stay here and look over your shoulder for the rest of your lives. How’s your english?”]” Tajima nodded, “Fluent. [Are you sending us to america?]” Nashio cocked a grin, “You tell me, boss-man.” Taji shot a glare, “[Nashio!]”

   Their boss gave a little chuckle at that. “[You can be such a little shit sometimes, Nashio.]” he remarked, before regaining his composure. “[Our contact will be here within the hour to finalize arrangements. He has a few ideas for suitable work already it seems, should keep you both busy and out of trouble. Assuming I can trust the both of you not to accidentally stumble into any more cultists?]” he joked.

   Nashio let out a snort, “[We’ll try, boss.]” Tajima nodded, “[What’re we going to be doing over there, sir?]” He asked, hands settling on his knees. The boss gave a nod at that. “[For Tajima, the family under one of my associates has some work for him. As for you Nashio, it might be best to space things out a bit so that the two of you attract less attention. There’s a local business they’re running, a small hostess bar. It’s Something relatively low-key but shouldn’t bore you to death, as you’ll be the manager.]”

   Nashi rolled his eye, “[‘course, ‘The customer is king’. Right?]” The boss nodded at that remark, which caused Nashio to grumble. Tajima bowed his head, “[Thank you, sir. When will be leaving?]” He asked, which cued the boss to slide two plane tickets ahead. “[Had to bribe the right people for these, you can bring whatever you’ll need. Plus.]” He tapped them, “[First class, ‘eh? Fancy, fancy. You two’ll be leaving tomorrow.]” The head said, smiling at him. “[I couldn’t ask for better Yakuza, although I could do without Nashio’s attitude at times…]” he teased, which caused Nashio to chuckle. “[Love ya’ too, boss.]”

   As the two were dismissed, they went to their separate homes to pack their bags. A certain uncertainty gnawed at the back of Taji’s mind, and a frustration at Nashio’s. A frustration at being reduced to being a civilian, he grumbled before sighing. On his way home he spotted that small clothing store Imada went to, always had all sorts of tacky leather jackets. Snake-skin, alligator. He stopped inside to get a tan python skin coat, and head home.
I am no longer legitimately considering leaving this forum


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Timeline: A few months before the cataclysm.
Characters involved: The Archon.

Eighty feet above a weathered old crater, an impossible structure stood. Over a small plaza, floating stone steps wound in a spiral to the base of a floating temple, where twisting stone walkways branched out only to converge at the structure's very peak.

Braziers burned at the base of the structure, filling the air with the scent of charred flesh, four bodies beheaded and tossed into the fires as burnt offerings, and within the very inner sanctum, a gathering was held. Men and women in ashen-colored robes waited, clutching golden chalices and strange forked talismans. By the doors on either side, a few men clearly not of the congregation watched and waited nervously, seemingly uneasy despite clearly being welcome to attend the ceremony.

Among the followers there, one stood in the center of the room where others knelt or sat on the pews. In one hand he held one of the golden talismans, and in the other was a long sword of shimmering white metal. The blade was etched with markings in an unearthly language, the edge slick with fresh blood.

"Today, we receive honored guests who have brought us what we once thought lost. These magi of the Sanguine Order have reclaimed one of our sacred blades. No longer will we be struggle to hear the commands of our master, to learn what must be done to salve the deepening wounds in The Veil." the man preached, making deft gestures in the air with the sword. As it moved the point left a glowing trail in the air, tracing a peculiar rune.

At the sight, while the guests watched in amusement, the followers bowed their heads and closed their eyes, the apparent high priest among them following suit. "Four volunteers have anointed your gift, their willing sacrifice to renew our vow. Today, we call out to you, Veiled King, that your steady hand may guide us once more."

The others chanted quietly as he recited his prayer, and in his mind's eye he saw a vision of what he sought. For a moment he saw a glimpse of distant lands, a divine domain and the shrouded figure they called He From Beyond The Veil. He saw a robed, cloaked being, dreary and drab save for rich embroidering over the undyed fabric of a face-veil, a literal representation of the authority their patron god had claimed.

Then, in an instant, the vision faded. The man was fixed in place, lost in what was now a nightmare. The shrouded image dissolved as another figure stepped through. Imposing and lithe in form, wholly armored save for six wings. Each was formed of three twisted digits, contorted into a mockery of a bat wing.

What the praying worshipers did not see was a sight that the magi watched with rapt attention. The shimmering blade seemed to crack and peel, surface sloughing off like scales of rust off red-hot steel, bit by bit revealing a different sort of unnatural metal beneath. The runes, once glowing with intense white light, also fell away to reveal an entirely different engraving, glowing red instead.

The figure called forth was not the one they sought, but he happily snatched up the four souls offered to him. And as armored, clawed fingers forced the high priest to rise, a fifth was snatched up, as this figure manipulated a new puppet in a realm countless worlds away. "Your wayward offering I accept, insect."

What stopped the chanting was the clatter of the sword falling to the ground. All at once the procession fell silent. Even the sanguinists halted the very moment they were prepared to spring into action, both for the same reason. The sword. For the followers, the high priest would never dare simply toss a sacred blade aside. And for the magi, that meant the binding ritual had failed them.

Lighting arced through the air the instant the magi prepared to act on their fallback plan, a beam of wicked power lancing clean through a man's torso and sending everyone in the beam's wake toppling to the floor, convulsing in agony. As strange power swirled around the room, it was then the temple fell into utter chaos. A shift of The Veil to draw forth creatures, picking off and preying upon followers who turned to flee, while electric death bore down upon those that stayed.

In the chaos, only one managed to earn a moment's reprieve. The sword was snatched up, a single follower hiding in the preparation room. The walkways were swarming with otherworldly horrors, while something much worse reveled in the bloodshed within the temple itself.

She could discern their "guests" had done something to the ritual sword, sabotaging it to direct the sacrifice towards something else entirely. And there was evidence of a failed effort to bind it, for what purpose she didn't know. All she knew was that that thing, now dragging the body of their last high priest around as a distant puppet,  would be confined yet no less of a threat.

The door was secured, and all the magic she could place was focused on ensuring their trapped foe would not be able to free himself alone. She fell upon the cursed blade, and with it the Keepers of The Oath would fade, their last effort to strike against the imminent cataclysm destroyed by treachery.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 10:36:40 pm by Chaosvolt »


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(( Written with Wilson. ))

Timeline: 12 years before the cataclysm.

Characters involved: Abraham, Sofia McKinnon, Sigmund

A small group of men and women rested by a campfire, in view of a river a few miles away from a small town. They rather clearly weren't campers out enjoying the scenery, but it was clear they came prepared for whatever they were here for. Weapons were neatly resting on a log laid out nearby, cloaks with metal scales hanging up from tree branches, and each had a metal mask either worn or nearby.

A woman, notably keeping her mask nearby but wearing plain clothes rather than the peculiar mix of modern clothing and medieval armor others had, turned to look at one of the men seemingly sitting there, glowering into the campfire. He'd insisted on retaining his armor, the only one there wearing a full suit of it. Leather of some sort, though extensively up-armored with assorted splints, scales, and lames variously laced or riveted into place. He had a spangenhelm with a mail aventail, and was the only one whose mask was built into the helm rather than open-faced helms the others had.

One of the younger men there glanced other at the figure, then at the woman. "That another Odin's Oath founder, Thane McKinnon?" the man asked. She was about to speak up when the armored man interrupted, not even looking their way. "No. Recruit, but I honor the gods all the same. Don't rely on them though." he answered. Only then did he look back, at the woman. "Sofia, correct? You're not a combatant. Why are you here?"

Sofia looked the man over, before giving a nod. "It was asked that someone experienced in seidr be available due to the nature of the artifact suspected to be in their possession. One that's not something small enough to take with us." she answered, and the armored man just scoffed. "Think you can handle a few rats, lass?"

"Act in unison, harry them at all turns..." Sofia answered, and the man smiled under his mask before adding to that. "Always advance in groups, stay in each others' mask range, and do not underestimate them. Not the magi, not the apprentices, not even the children they snatch away and corrupt." He then looked over to the other people. "Any other intel?"

One of them spoke up at that. "No known shrikes suspected to be there." he said, prompting a scoff from the armored mage hunter, before he continued. "Local area is also known to be an occasional spot for homeless to camp out, on the way between the two closest towns." At that the hunter seemed to perk up. "Odds of them working with the blood mages?" he asked, and the other promptly facepalmed. "Non-existent. If anything it seems the sanguinists periodically prey upon traveling vagrants here." At that, the armored mage hunter turned his attention back to the fire, seeming thoroughly uninterested.

"So what's your name then?" Sofia asked, and the man again didn't bother to look towards her. "Sigmund." he said. "Getting late. I'll take first wat-" It was then the distant sound of gunfire interrupted him, Sigmund immediately standing up and activating his mask. "...shrike." he said coldly, one of the others speaking up. "Not in mask range yet. Assume nothing, Brother." he said, only to be given a blunt rebuttal. "And expect anything."

Immediately the group gathered their weapons and cloaks, Sofia taking up a simple quarterstaff, others grabbing hammers, swords, and their peculiar crossbows. Sigmund took up his own cloak with fur decorations covering the scales on the shoulders, short sword and a small round shield at the ready. The gunfire resounded again, along with shouting, closer as they came upon the scene ahead.

There was a man, utterly haggard and practically destitute in appearance, with clothing that'd look like something out of a western film if not for how worn it looked. From the look of him, the only possession that stood out, the only thing in even half-decent condition was a short lever-action rifle, leaving plumes of black-powder smoke with each shot. “That poor vagrant...” Sofia said, only for Sigmund to glower at the group the stranger was trying to avoid being surrounded by. “ Something else.”

The vagrant shouted, “Fuck off! I’m not with ‘im anymore!” He said as a robed cultist snuck close to his side, as the gunslinger drew a worn but well oiled and maintained Schofield and shot him in the gut. One of the mage hunters as about to raise his hammer only for Sigmund to raise a hand, gesturing to more figures sensed on the edges of their vision. Instead he gestured for half the group to move one way, wraithslayers leveled as they covered a cautious advance by the others.

Sigmund himself led the group advancing, split off with one swordsman directly behind him, the rest circling to another position. There was a streak of flame searing its way across the underbrush, from a staff clutched by one of the robed men. The vagrant backed away as flames lapped at his duster, firing another shot at the closest man only to turn towards several knife-wielding figures that had circled around to his left. Next thing he knew, brilliant green bolts of light shot through the forest, tearing into the flanking men, and a figure lunged from the underbrush, singling out and hacking open the staff-wielding man.

“Wot’n’tarnation...” One knife-wielding cultist lunged at him, taking a bullet to the chest only to bowl Abraham over, before the robed figure’s head was staved in by a warhammer. As he fumbled to get back up, a masked woman offered him a hand. “Easy. We’re not here to hurt you.” The gunslinger looked the woman in the eye, before knee-capping a mage that was sneaking behind Sofia. “Keep yer head on a swivel! I’m fine!” The Gunslinger barked at her as he finished off the cultist.

Sofia nodded at that, raising her staff and following behind. The purpose of this became clear as a hatchet was slung their way, engraved markings glowing a peculiar red. She simply raised the staff only for it to explode in midair, sweeping flames and a spray of putrid blood swirling around, leaving a pristine circle in the ground around them. She then pointed to the direction the weapon was thrown from, taking advantage of the fact he whirled around to put a bullet through the man’s chest, so that he was facing away when a cacophony of brilliant flashes and thunderous sound erupted just ahead.

“What in th’ hell was that?” Abraham practically shouted, turning to see several figures in their cloaks of metal scales, or in armor, driving back the remainder of the group. He continued to look around them only for Sofia to speak up. “No more behind us. Trust me.” she said, and he warily chambered another couple rounds into the old mare’s leg before picking off a straggler among the group of now-fleeing cultists, seeing strange bolts of light likewise striking down figures one by one.

By now the remainder were being picked apart, but just when things seemed to calm down, Sigmund stepped up, glancing over Sofia and Abraham. “They’ll have a lair. Somewhere to snatch up their victims, likely not far. You...I know not what you are, nor do I care. Do you know this area?” Sofia meanwhile sighed, giving a polite nod. “Apologies for his attitude, he’s a bit...forward. Are you hurt?” she asked, only for the mage hunter to grumble. “If he is, can your miracles even treat him?”

“Yeah, I know th’ area. Trail runs up ‘round th’ bend an’ off the river half-a-mile north.” Abraham answered, and Sigmund nodded. “Good. We’ll start with just past the bend, head directly away from the river. Any place they can easily see this trail is likely where they are.” he answered, leading the way. Sofia perked up a bit at that. “Gods, I think this is...not more than a few miles south of...just 100 yards northeast of where we’re head is a path leading to an old spot we used to tend to, think it was an old plantation house before the woods grew over the fields. Good view of the river, don’t think I’ve heard of a blót being held there in a decade...” At that, Sigmund nodded. “Ideal place and former holy ground for them to defile? There’s our mark.”

Abraham gave Sigmund a look, “Y’remind me of someone, but that can wait. What’s yer plan once y’get there?” He drawled as he stared the mage hunter in the eye. Sigmund smiled under the mask. “Old building, grown over with vines, overrun by a cult that bleeds people dry and burns the mutilated corpses? A trifling mote of flame, and order Sofia here to use her little protective trick on the entrances. You don’t go in after them without numbers AND experience, and we’ve only six of us.” he said, gesturing to the other five. Sofia seemed a bit stunned at that. “Sigmund, that’s...for one overkill, and second I count seven.” Sigmund just scoffed at that. “Even with the revenant that’s not a full hunting party.”

The gunslinger had already walked off, to a white, skinny horse. He pulled several revolvers and a sawn-off double barrel out from the saddlebags, “Ah ain’t doin’ this yer way, ahm doin’ it mine. Y’all can join in, but if y’all wanna go with fuckin’-” He gesticulated at Sigmund, “Boone Helm’s idea y’all can go fuck off straight t’hell.” The Gunfighter said, as he clipped two more holsters to his belt and strapped a back holster onto himself.

Sigmund glowered at Abraham, taking a step forward only for Sofia to step in between. “Enough, both of you. We can handle this, but only if we work together.” she said, only for Sigmund to sigh. “Alright. When we get there, need eyes on any exit the rats might crawl out of. They might have captives anyway, but usually it’s a lost cause.” he said coldly.

He reluctantly followed along as the group made their way out into the area that had once been fields and farmland, now itself just as overgrown with trees and shrubs, in an elevated area overlooking the river. There was an area however where the trees had thinned though, and as the group came upon it, Sofia went a bit pale under her mask at the sight. Trees here and there had been cut down and burnt, underbrush stripped clean rather than trimmed, further sowed with ash. The source of that ash was apparent, a sizable pit filled with charred human bones.

“Oh...oh gods...” Sofia muttered, only for Sigmund to smirk under the mask. “Only just now getting squeamish, Sister?” She shook her head at that. “No, it’s not that. Just, I remember what the place used to be like. The hörgr used to be right there.” she said, pointing to the pit. “Th’ what now?” the gunslinger asked, and Sigmund sighed. “An altar. The sanguinists put this charnel pit here on purpose.”

Abraham ignored the burnpit, and made his way to the front door of the plantation house. He had several different revolvers on his person, ranging from different eras and times. The newest being a snub-nosed Model 29 clutched in his teeth, the oldest being a worn Colt Walker in his off hand, along side with his Model 3 Schofield. He knocked the grip of his schofield against the door.

Sigmund watched, stunned and profoundly irritated as he gestured for the others to take positions. There was no answer from the door at first, only for the door to seemingly open itself. Sigmund waved, holding up three fingers before pointing at a direction each time, hoping that Abraham understand the intent or perhaps figured out what the masks revealed.

A blood mage took a step backwards, opening the door before Abraham rose the schofield and planted a silver slug into her chest. She stumbled backwards into the main room, and Abe promptly dove into her, he flicked his wrist and domed another bloodmage with the colt walker.

Abraham saw first one then another fall, gesturing at one of the two carrying those odd crossbows. Abraham turned, about to fire on the third person in the room when a green bolt ripped through the decaying wood and tore through the man’s torso. Almost immediately he was followed in by Sigmund, shield at the ready as he pointed at a doorway, the man behind him raising a hammer as it gave off an odd glow. Abraham’s ears rung as the hammer’s glow gave off a loud bang.

The flash it gave off likewise stunned the people in the next room, Sigmund lunging in and stabbing at the cultist’s throat. “Watch for their axes...” Sofia said as she brought up the rear behind them. A pair of double doors were burst open, and Abraham fanned the hammer and dropped three of the five cultists. He dropped the spent colt walker and snatched the model 29 from his teeth, “Eleven shots.” Abe muttered, pulling back the hammer on the Smith and Wesson.

One of the mage hunters stepped in, holding a peculiar crossbow, a strange energy swirling about it. They advanced deeper into the decaying halls, Sigmund pointing out a separate hall to two of them venture down, to avoid being flanked. “If they’d had a shrike he likely would attack just as we split up, after we’ve expended effort on these weaker foes...” he said, looking back towards the faint auras of the two that ventured through the hall, hearing the bang of a hammer again as they stormed into the room they neared. “Hmmph.” He kicked in the opposite door, leading the way in.

Abraham had followed in right behind, grimacing a bit at the scene laid out before them. There were stripped, flayed bodies of stretched out across a long table, some of which were people he vaguely recognized. Now merely the subject of grisly rituals attended to by men and woman in those strange robes, a few with peculiar leather armor. And at the end of the table was the centerpiece of the morbid great hall, a massive stone block etched with countless strange symbols and ornate designs. One of the robed figures stood atop the monolith that seemed to take up a full third of the hall’s floor space, and the ceiling would’ve offered barely enough room to stand if not for the massive hole in it, as though the block had been carved from a meteorite that landed there.

Though the sanguinists were thrown into a panic by the intrusion and flash of hammers, he seemed unfazed by the interruption, and Abraham saw him standing over a second figure, forced to kneel with arms raised and bound to chains leading up into the rafters. He saw the glint of a knife, poised to stab into the man, and realized the soon-to-be victim was another vagabond he met occasionally in the next town. “Stop ‘em!” the gunslinger shouted, raising the older revolver as the robed man brought the knife down.

He saw only that the knife seemed to bounce off something, the robed man committing his full weight into the stab such that he smacked into whatever force halted the attempted execution, and the spray of blood from a bullet ripping through his throat revealed the outline of a bubble cast around the chained man. Sofia’s work.

Ten shots left. Abraham thought, surveying the morbid scene unfolding, watching as a bolt of green light struck down a man who was reaching for a hatchet embedded in the table. An’ just about twice that to deal with. He raised the Model 29 and calmly plugged a man in the chest, watching as Sigmund leapt over the table before him and took another’s head off, the gunslinger turning his efforts to braining someone who was about to lunge at the hunter. “Head on a swivel, boy!” he shouted with a little smile. Sigmund smiled under his mask, only to gesture in one direction without even turning to face him, prompting the gunslinger to whirl around and discharge the old Schofield into a charging cultist’s face. “Mask does well enough for me, you do the same.”

Another careful shot sent one of the cultists in armor staggering, finished off by a mage hunter kicking her knee out of place and staving their head in, only to see a man raise one of the strange axes high, about to charge towards them. “Ma’am, do that thing!” Abraham shouted, and Sofia grimaced a bit under her mask as she raised the staff, the axe-wielding cultist bouncing off a forcefield, trapped with two other sanguinists in the ensuing explosion.

It was soon however that the advance faltered, a spray of strange acrid mist flowing from the palm of another sanguinist, sending a mage hunter tumbling to the ground in agony, and the one behind him pulling back, a strange glow surrounding him as he cried out, seemingly in reaction to the cloak rather than the splash that caught his legs. Seeing this Abraham fired on the man, watching as one round went through the shoulder, another catching his gut, the sanguinist stumbling only to stagger across the lingering, fuming puddle of acid unharmed, dropping only to plunge a dagger into the body of the woman he caught in the vile spray, before the floorboards gave out from under the two.

It wasn’t long before only one remained, a single cultist backed up against the monolith, clutching a long staff adorned with a round red gem. Neither thinking nor caring about the consequences, flames erupted from the gem, sweeping across the hall and halting the advance of the others. Abraham tensed up a bit, stumbling backwards as a gout of fire caught his coat, momentarily losing his composure. Despite his he didn’t fall back, instead fanning the hammer of his Schofield, dumping the remaining three rounds into the cultist’s chest. He saw Sofia rushing to his side, her staff seeming to part the flames that swirled around him, and as she set a hand on his shoulder he felt a strange sensation. The pain dulled to a faint ache as smoldering fabric died down, and the fire threatening to engulf the wooden building steadily burnt down to the dim glow of faltering embers.

Abraham gave a little groan of pain when things at last seemed to calm down, sitting down in a chair despite the horrid scene laid out on the nearby table. Sofia was there helping another mage hunter unchain the captive and calm him down, a third was recovering what was left of the hunter who’d fallen prey to the sanguinst’s wyrmskin armor. Sigmund had gone from calmly beheading every slain cultist in the room, to searching what remained of the building with the other remaining mage hunter.

Sofia soon turned her attention to the massive block of carved stone, one of the mage hunters stepping up. “Is that...heard about some rumored artifacts, one of the slabs...” he said in a hushed tone. Sofia shook her head, gesturing to the markings on it. “I’ve little experience with those, but I’ve heard the reports. All the ones they found were something you could practically carry, by two or three people at most. These markings are definitely sanguine in nature anyway.” she explained, gathering a few items. Salt, laid in a cautious circle around it, before gather herbs and a small clay bowl. “No mistletoe or verbena, but it’ll do...”

She walked in a circle around the monolithic centerpiece of the plantation dining hall, cedar-scented smoke drifting from smouldering herbs in the bowl, and as she calmly recited something in Old Norse, faint glowing runes appeared here and there on the stone surface, before she returned to the monolith’s front. She gestured to a mage hunter standing beside her, pointing to a single prominent glowing symbol. “Strike.” The hunter brought their hammer down on that exact spot, and flames erupted from cracks in the stone surface, lapping at the steel and silver decorations, tongues of fire seemingly lashing out only to halt at the circle of salt surrounding the structure. Then, all at once, the cracks propagated over every last engraved surface, carvings sloughing off in crumbling pieces, chunks of stone falling away and leaving an uneven boulder of meteoric stone.

Soon the group had finished securing various items and books within the building, along with supplies and clothes, a set offered to the vagabond who had nearly been executed, along with a spare set offered to Abraham. While the other had gone on his way, reluctant to stay after witnessing such a terrible spectacle, Abe followed the remaining five back to their hastily-made camp, Sofia offering to prepare a meal for him while they rested and sorted the items taken from the building.

Sofia breathed a sigh of relief, offering a bowl to Abraham, to his relief not the same one she’d been burning plants in earlier. “Thank you for the help with all this. An unexpected surprise to say the least. If there’s anything we can help with, or any questions to answer, we’ll do the best we can.” she offered. Sigmund looked up from his bowl, a simple stew Sofia had made, and glanced over at Abraham. “Said I reminded you of someone, revenant?” he asked, and Sofia sighed a bit. “He has a name, you know...”

Abe looked up after practically inhaling the stew, “Wha- Oh! Yeah, y’reminded me of someone I met way back. There was this kraut bounty hunter, an’ his n- Black friend.” He said, before catching himself. “He was very practical, an’ blunt at that.” Abraham continued, “The kraut was a fine fella, always bought the first round.” He finished, looking the Slayer in the eye.

Sofia gave Abraham a concerned look as he went on, one mage hunter noticeably glancing over before returning their attention to tending to their wounded comrade while they rested, Sigmund smiling under his mask. “Have to be practical when dealing with blood mages. Our gear may look flashy, but it has a purpose. If you aren’t...” As he said this, he picked up one of the books taken from the building, before nonchalantly tossing it into the campfire. “ end up like so many others that have run into these rats.”

Abraham hmmed a bit, watching as the man tossed the book into the fire, seeing another working at taking apart one of those strange staffs, while Sofia picked a small glass orb that had been recovered among the minor artifacts. “I’d been tempted to ask about what did this to you, or the nature of the artifact I sensed in place of your right eye, but...” she said, examining the orb taken up. "To tell the truth we don't have a lot of time, as there was another thing we need to take care of soon."

One of the others spoke up. “What do you think, Thane McKinnon? Doesn’t look familiar, didn’t seem to be made from blood magic...” Sofia nodded. “Something likely taken by a stray practitioner of another discipline. Seems to be safe in fact. Nothing but some energy imbued in it and very basic enchantments, yet to be finalized...” she said, getting an idea. She focused her magic, sprinkling what seemed to be holy water on it, taking out a small charm carved out of bone before tossing the odd carved item into the fire. “Should be...perhaps if there’s nothing else we can do for you, this would be suitable? It may be more useful to you than to us, and it’s not worth destroying.” she explained.

Abraham hmmed a bit, carefully replacing his weathered golden eye with the glass one, glancing over the group and the peculiar spectacle of the magical items sensed through its sight, before replacing the fake eye again. The gunslinger and the group parted ways soon enough, both parties left with unanswered questions yet relieved that things had turned out less grim than it could’ve gone, despite the half-dozen losing one of their own...
« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 10:40:41 pm by Chaosvolt »


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Catnip worked her way through the dark streets towards the section of town she'd only cursorily scouted a few nights before. Every now and again, the street would light up for a few seconds. A flashlight held by a pale freckled young woman with Auburn hair, and long wirey whiskers starting under and to the sides of her nose giving her a distinct rodent appearance. Catnip as she had been. The flashlight went out again. Someday, she wouldn't need the handy little plastic thing that made the light, but for now she used it mainly to get her bearings in what seemed to be a shadowscape for her. Dark unidentifiable hulk's in the midnight darkness, looming over head and blocking her progress. A block up, the light came on again and then flicked off again just as quickly. A groan rose from a corner not far from where the light had been, soon joined by others. The call of alert for the biters. Catnip wouldn't know the terms "undead" or "zombie" for another two months but she knew well that she should avoid them. Nathan told her so.

She slipped inside a building with a big fun sign, which she couldn't read, on it's front. Here had been where her explorations had come to a halt and where further trips into the small town always inevitably ended up. Her current goal was in here, her current obsession. It was an arcade, not that she would know what an arcade was, and a fairly popular one before the Cataclysm at that. It was a month before that she'd found this place, quietly making her way in by jimmying the lock to evade the searching horde. With the door securely shut behind her and the blinds drawn, Catnip had begun her explorations in earnest. There wasn't much that she could see at first, but the various arcade cabinets and pinball machines were certainly fascinating. A look at a world she never knew. They didn't seem to do much of anything but sit there and look strange. Perhaps, she thought, this is what Nathan called a museum?

Not a museum. Not of the conventional sort anyway, but fun to look at and explore. What she really wanted was at the front standing in a row of broken glass, blunted spiraled metal, and large empty boxy machines. There were five of the boxes, but only one still had anything in it. It was to this one that Catnip went, being careful not to make too much noise by stepping on the shattered display windows of the boxes. It the one that had not been broken, there was food. The only kinds of food that really mattered and made stomaching to poorly roasted hunks of howler meat and bitter vegetables worth it. There were crispy salt flakes, salty meat sticks, colored sweet balls, rainbow gummy things, red fish, chewy candy rolls, and especially chocolate. The holy grail, the finest of food stuffs, the very best that Catnip craved. There were so many kinds and Catnip loved them all. All except white chocolate. Catnip knew it had to be some kind of chocolate because of the way it looked. The pattern and design adorning it was the same as that of real chocolate. White chocolate offended Catnip's sensibilities and taste buds. A dirty trick calling something so nasty "chocolate" when it wasn't really chocolate.

Three days she'd returned to this machine, three days and several close calls. It was worth it though, would be worth it, if she could just get the box open. She'd tried picking it's lock and surprisingly, it had been just a bit too complex and the ome she could manage was just the cash box. Later, she tried prying it open, but the box held firm against that sort of applied force. Then she tried disassembly. That got her somewhere, sort of. In that attempt, Catnip had managed to take apart the frame, the various little doors and hatches, and even dislodge the whole box from it's anchoring on the floor. What she was left with was a "naked" brushed steep vault with a glass front. On that occasion though, she'd looked around at the other machines, and just about slapped herself. Of course, the answer was right there.

This time Catnip came prepared. This time, she had a hammer and a little doodad with a tiny wheel on it. Her experience with tempered glass was that blunt force wouldn't break it. Not the kind she could apply by hand anyway. No, the little wheel thingy was what she needed. The little pictures on the package had shown her what to do with it and through experimentation, she'd figured out the rest. She set the doodad in place, and pressed down firmly on the surface of the glass. Then, she began to drag it down. It didn't quite cut the glass, as she knew, but instead it left a little line of chipped material. If she was lucky, the front of the machine would break on it's own as most of the windshields had in her tests. It didn't. She got into drawing a second line, then a third, and finally a fourth and fifth before taking out the hammer. She was prepared for the sound of breaking glass. She knew it could be very loud. She did not expect the alarm though. As soon as the window was broken, the box began to shriek. "WEEEE OOOO WEEEE OOOO."

Catnip nearly bolted then and there except that for a moment, she couldn't move. Joints wouldn't flex, muscles wouldn't work, and her brain simply drew a blank out of fear. Then, she swing the duffel bag she carried around and hectically stuffed it with everything from inside the machine. There was no time to get picky, no time to separate out the white chocolate and throw it away. Smash and grab was all she had time for now. At the front of the arcade there came a hellish shriek followed by the moans of numerous biters. If the urgency of her situation wasn't enough, the threat of being attacked would certainly get her moving. They were as blind as she was in the midnight streets, she could escape if she was quick, quiet, and careful.

Just then though, she felt a prickle run through the flesh on the back of her neck as the air suddenly shifted nearby and her whiskers caught the movement. Catnip wasn't alone in the arcade. It had been there the whole time but until the alarm had been triggered, it had stayed inactive. The shadowy form loomed out of the dark at her, treading the glass but not making a sound, and took a swipe. Catnip felt the blow coming and ducked under the clumsy attack and brought her hammer around. To her surprise, the head snapped off and flew into the dark. Fortunately, her own attack was enough to stun the undead monster long enough for her to pocket the last bag of chips and make for the back door. There were more of them though, Catnip had to dive under one of the colorful glass top tables and crawl down the row of them to evade a particularly tenacious biter to escape. She hurdled the counter, bowling over a third as she did so, bolted through the small kitchen at the back of the building,  and out the employee exit into the alley beyond.

Behind her, the alarm blared on and on while she waited in a green metal box at the end of the alley, exhausted from her fright and flight. An hour passed, then two. She fell asleep shortly after the alarm blipped off. Undead shambled past but neither noticed the other. When Catnip finally woke at the crack of noon, she didn't know where she was at first. She was hot though, the bags around her stank faintly of months fermented trash, and it was oddly noisey in the town. There was a motor running and she could hear people. They we're obviously people, judging by their voices and gunfire. Gunfire was a relatively new thing, sort of, for Catnip. She'd not handled a gun before and the sounds she'd heard in the distance on occasion we're strange and alarming for reasons she didn't understand. Also the voices, Catnip hadn't heard another persons voice since... Well, since she'd done what she did to Nathan, her handler...

The lid of the green box lifted tentatively at first, a pair of small blue eyes looking out at the noonday street, or trying to. From the dumpsters location in the alley it was a bit tricky to see anything but the opposite building and the tiniest bit of main road at either end. She slipped out and crept to the end where she thought all the commotion was coming from.

"Pop this one again slick, I'mma go have a look see over at that bling shop. Fowdee, go see if you can snag some hooch at Crowley's 'cross the way." Ordered a man who walked by, mere feet from where Catnip hid behind a pair of wheeled trashcans. He had darkish skin and walked briskly but oddly. His shoulders seemed to slouch casually and somewhat behind the rest of him. The other people the man seemed to be with were white skinned like her, but one of them had hair the color of a sour apple.

"Whatever you say Carmelo, so long I get paid." Said one of the others before leveling his gun and firing it into a biters head.

"That's yo problem slick, ain't got no vision beyond the next paycheck. Shit don't work like that no mo'. Stick with me Slick and Carmelo will show you what's what."

Carmelo? Catnip rolled it around a bit, judging how the word rolled around her head. Who was this Carmelo the strange brown man was talking about? Catnip could do with someone showing her "what was what" and maybe they would be friendly? They didn't seem to be interested in biting one another, so they weren't biters. They'd also cleared out a large number of said biters. All the same, Catnip wasn't ready for meeting people just yet. Nathan had told her to stay away from people and of course she planned to do exactly that until she'd seen for herself. While she watched, the people lined up and stacked the bodies, making sure to check their pockets before arranging them. Catnip hadn't thought of that before. She used her own pockets extensively. What, she thought, would be in the pockets of biters? It turned out to be quite a lot actually. The men collected little plastic cards, shiny things, and the little leather and plastic sandwiches most of the biters kept in their back pockets. Catnip wondered what all that stuff was for, especially the sandwich things. Her mind began to wander and as it did so, the man called Slick struck a match, and set the pile of biters on fire. She hadn't noticed the smell of gas until then, she was just to used to it to notice it anymore.

Catnip was about to slink away back the way she'd come the previous night, when strong hands grabbed her under the arms and lifted her up high enough that she could probably get a foot onto the trashcan if she wanted to. Instead of trying to get her feet under her, she flailed wildly and hissed like an animal. The hands didn't relent, they only clamped down on the tender nerves under her arms and forbade further struggle.

"Yo, Carmelo, we got a live one ova' here! Spying on the brickhouse boys?" The strong man said. He stank of garlic and sweat, and the moment his grip loosened, she swing the heel of her right foot back hard in an arc that missed his balls by a good two inches. Still, the move startled him enough that he dropped her. The trash cans toppled over and spilled their contents out onto the street in a rolling avalange of empty soda cans and bottles. One of the men was laughing raucously like the whole conflict was some kind of joke. It sounded like Carmelo but Catnip didn't have time to look and see. The big man was plowing through the debris after her. He was making good headway in the short distance until a missed grab put his foot on a bottle. The bottle put him on his face and when he tried to get up, Catnip put him back down via liberally applied wine bottle to the back of his head. The laughing stopped abruptly.

"Heyo, what the fuck sweet thang? Why you gotta get all aggro n' shit?" The dark skinned man said indignantly. Sweet thang? Heyo? Aggro? Words Catnip didn't know. She'd heard the expletives before, lab guards who came to take things away from the children or take the children to other parts of the lab, but she'd never heard some of the words the strangers used.

"I... I don't know what that means..." She mumbled, taking several steps back. It was clear that she didn't want anything but the maximum amount of space between herself and them. She hefted an old mason jar with it's insides coated in a thick layer of mold, cocking her arm like she meant to brain one of the men with it. "What's an aggro?"

"Leave her be guys, I don't think she's playing with a full deck." Slick suggested, "What's your name lady? You got a name?" He knealt low, down on his haunches almost and putting the top of his head at Catnip's mercy.

"Catnip... What's a lady?" She husked anxiously. The man reached into his jacket pocket, slowly when Catnip tensed up.

"You are. Want some chocolate? My name's Been, but everybody calls me Slick. What do you mean 'whats a lady'?"

Catnip snatched the tiny chocolate bar away from Slicks offering hand and gobbled it. She still suspected that this was some kind of trick. Just a ruse to get her to lower her defenses. A little movement off to the side, and the jar left her hand with a deft move that left Slick flinching away and Carmelo wondering if there'd ever been a jar in her hand to begin with. It flew and exploded noisily against the top of the big man's head, he'd been just coming around, and he slumped back to the ground.

"Clutch is gonna feel this day in the morning..." Slick commented. Carmelo scoffed.

"Clutch gonna remember none a' this shit tomorrow. You wanna consider not concussin' my boys anytime soon suger tits?"

"Don't worry about it Catnip. You live around here? Kind of dangerous around here for lady like yourself to be kicking around."

"Kicking? I don't know... I live that way," Catnip explained hesitantly, pointing north, "at my house..."

"Okay. Why don't you let us take you home. It's really not safe out-"

"No, it's fine! Really! I'm just gonna... Go..." She said. Midway, she turned and walked briskly away from the men and the growing pyre.

That was her first meeting with Carmelo's crew. Later that night, they would stumble on her workshop and after earning a bit of trust, be asked to get things for her. More and more though, it would be Carmelo who came to talk to her and Slick would one day just not be there. His absence was explained away as a disagreement, but that was only half the truth. Catnip would sometimes think about those early days when she was looking back over her memories, judging her early experiences through the lens of time. Time spent with other people (Hector, Roxanne, Dee, her sister, Kathrine) convinced her that Slick had probably been a bit sweet on her. Time spent in Pricetown on the inverse though, told her that Carmelo may not have had such Noble intentions. In fact, she knew he didn't. He'd said so himself so many times. Constant propositions for sex, obscene requests, and a healthy trade for pornography Catnip had collected. No, he probably wasn't quite as nice as Catnip remembered him. She didn't know much about the "disagreement." How it had entailed a small ember of casual jealousy, and a screwdriver in the back. She didn't know how Slick had been left paralyzed at Carmelo's hand and dumped at the side of the Maine state highway, a mile from the Bangor offramp. Of course, Floyd could have guessed it. Had she ever told him. Even now though he wouldn't tell her. "Let her first memories of the outside world be as they are." He would say, and he'd be right.
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Timeline: Zero day.
Characters involved: Helen, Toshiro, Darius.

Two figures lingered in the treeline overlooking an old country road, a man and woman in strange cloaks with shimmering metal scales, and strange masks. The woman held a warhammer in hand, and the young man had a sword at his side. The young man was sitting at the foot of a tree, working on sewing a few replacement scales into another of those odd cloaks. Nearby was a second warhammer, and a third mask. Whereas the ones they wore were steel with copper decorations, depicting impassive faces, the third mask was all steel, with blue laquer depicting a more fearsome visage.

Across the road was a gas station, a few cars parked in the lot, one having evidently attempted to ram another out of the way of a now-ruined gas pump. Other that that however there were no signs of life. Except for movement inside the store itself. A middle-aged man walked out of the gas station's store, wiping strange black ichor off a sizable knife, simply tossing the scrap of fabric aside before sheathing the knife, hidden away as he walked back to the other two.

"Is everything alright, Brother Toshiro?" the woman asked, at which the fellow shook his head. "Only people there are those...things we've been spotting every so often. And still no sign of strange magic at work." he answered. "I see. Anything else? Think Darius here has just about finished repairs."

Darius stood up, offering back the scaled cloak after Toshiro put back on his mask and retrieved the warhammer, the older man giving a sigh. "All of them seem to be travelers too, actual employees either didn't show up, or..."

"How many were there, and how many victims remained normal?" she asked, and Toshiro lowered his head. "Ten, no other dead among the bodies. They all got back up." he answered. "Any word from the other hunting parties?" the woman asked.

"Afraid not. Glad I at least brought a cell, but...listen, Helen. I'm starting to get worried. What if..." Toshiro said. It was then Darius spoke up, concern concealed under his mask. The metal of his mask had contorted into a menacing grimace, the faint glow of magic apparent in the eyeholes of his mask. "Um, guys..."

Helen however didn't initially react to Darius' attempting to speak up, nor did Toshiro, the attempt rather quiet and barely audible. "Let's not jump to conclusions just yet. Any reception, or just no answer?" she asked. "No reception. Service seems to be just completely dead." he answered. Darius again tried to interrupt. "Guys." he said, still rather soft-spoken.

"And you're sure this area even gets reception? We're rather far away from any towns." Helen pointed out, Toshiro giving a nod in response. "Of course, every time we pass by this road I'm able to check in via ph-"


After the momentary startle, the other two activated their masks, magical vision granting them insight to what had prompted his outburst. Both were utterly stunned by what they saw. Where auras and their view of all their immediate surroundings had once been clear, peering through obstacles in all directions, their vision was a horrible blinding glare, as though powerful resonances pierced the darkness of their mask's limit of perception. As though magic powerful enough to split the heavens was flowing through countless wounds in The Veil.

" can't be..." Helen murmured, Toshiro every bit as shocked. "Kuso..." he mumbled, before deactivating his mask. "We...have to keep moving. Reach our planned rendezvous point, and pray to all the gods that the others are still there..."
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 02:50:38 am by Chaosvolt »


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Time: 3 days before the cataclysm
Location: Unknown
Foster adjusted the stack of papers on the desk as he listened to his colleague, one of about a dozen that rotated in and out of his lab. The pair had forgone the usual lab coats for more comfortable attire with Foster wearing a turtleneck sweater. His colleague wore a pink t-shirt as they rattled off the results of the tests they’d conducted earlier.

None of their experiments on the magic items the ‘Company’ had acquired for them provided him with any answers to his own problem. That was as he expected honestly, he’d been seeking answers since he’d been hired three years ago and had found nothing since nor in his studies beforehand. Though if what he’d heard about Section 2’s work was correct..but he’d be discussing that with it’s leader later in the day.

Entering the lab proper and picking up a clipboard Foster started taking notes on the experiments progress since they’d left the previous day. As per usual Alpha had increased the speed at which the plants in it’s container were growing. Meanwhile Beta continued it’s odd little pulsating glow that had otherwise done nothing. If it failed to do anything else he’d likely try and get rid of it to be replaced by something hopefully more interesting.

The majority of the day went similarly taking notes and writing reports for the ‘Company’. Truth be told his curiosity as to who was actually employing him had been growing since learning more about Section 2 a few months ago. Foster’s group was Section 1, Section 2 was the less ethical counterpart as far as he was aware. Speaking of it was about time for him to converse with his counterpart now that his colleague was leaving for the night.

Tapping a button on the console in front of him Foster scribbled down a few more notes while he waited for ‘Moriarty’ to answer. It took a few minutes as it normally did when the two actually conversed rather than simply emailing each other notes. When he did finally answer the two shared the usual formalities before Foster asked “So what was the result of the experiment pertaining to those samples I sent you?”

Moriarty stopped for a moment, his normally cheery demeanor dropping and being replaced with concern. Setting the mug of coffee he’d been drinking down Moriarty leaned forward as he said “Foster I really do have to ask, did those samples come from the source you mentioned or something else?”

Foster wasn’t really phased by the tone of his friend’s voice. Shuffling through his notes from the day Foster read through a page his colleague had written while responding “Yes, the blood samples came from the source mentioned. Allow me to guess, subjects bodies rejected the injections outright or..responded in rather bizarre fashion?”

Moriarty nodded as he leaned back and regained his composure. “The first few subjects rejected the injections of the blood despite being the same blood type and being..made to meet the requirements of needing a transfusion of blood. I thought perhaps you were simply attempting to sabotage my work but then the next subject responded in a rather concerning fashion. He screamed about the ‘nothingness’ as he tried and failed to fight some of our security. Amazing how far a crazy man can make it with four rounds of 7.62 in his chest.”

Foster shrugged as he said “One to the head was all it should have required. Still, any other interesting results?”

Moriarty shrugged as he said “One subject went catatonic, he’ll be sent off for harvesting. Another is still in a straight jacket so he doesn’t cut his own throat open. A third ripped out his own eyes and bled to death on the spot. I have to say this is all very concerning given the source of the blood my friend.”

Foster looked up at the screen and adjusted his sunglasses as he looked at his friend. Even in this dark lab he insisted on wearing them. “Don’t be. In my own studies, oh it must have been two years ago, the reactions were more violent. I do believe one of my original subjects is still out there killing people like he was a villain from one of those slasher movies. Always entertaining reading the news stories from that area. But with your further experiments I think I can find my original conclusion was correct.”

Moriarty sighed as he replied “Yes, the reaction isn’t physical. It appears to cause a mental breakdown but the introduction of blood of all things shouldn’t cause this and we’ve done tests to make sure it’s not the introduction of blood itself. Furthermore we’ve ensured there’s nothing wrong with the blood, the samples you’ve provided are perfectly healthy and indicative of a healthy adult. Which means whatever is causing this is-”

Foster interrupted his compatriot as he said “Supernatural. Magical. Whatever you desire to call it. Which means I’m no closer to an answer. Still to have a fellow researcher do the same tests and have the same results is reassuring, I didn’t mess it up back then.”

The two sat in silence for a time. This whole world of magic was relatively new to both of them. Foster had always believed in something a bit grander due to his ‘condition’ but Moriarty had always been a man of science. Foster didn’t have the heart to point out the artifacts they’d been studying were getting stronger for some reason. Instead he decided to continue with small chit chat and niceties until the two decided to part ways for the night.

Sighing to himself Foster took a minute to collect his thoughts. Between the two they had made sure there was no other possibility. The blood samples induced some sort of magical reaction, that or it was something undetectable to modern medicine. Sipping his cold coffee Foster found the first option more comforting if he were honest.

Turning to stare at the glowing artifact that had simply been sitting in it’s cage for the past few weeks. It’s glow had been getting brighter, barely so but enough that Foster had begun to notice it. The simple fact that he had what amounted to a magic flashlight had never seemed to be something worth mentioning to his employers. Maybe tomorrow he’d write a report and ship it off. For tonight he’d finish the paperwork from today’s observations and experiments.

An hour later and Foster found himself sitting in a restaurant waiting for his food.. It amazed him how one could hide a lab full of potentially volatile artifacts in a city. At least it was easy to find a decent meal on his way home.

---------------------4 days later, one day after the cataclysm

Foster tossed the ruined sweater aside. Whilst he’d sustained no severe injuries in yesterdays events his clothes were much worse for wear. Thankfully he’d been visiting an off site storage facility with his colleague, the one in the pink shirt.

Driving along the pair remained relatively quiet as Foster unfolded the stock of the MP5 he’d taken from a guard that had died during their escape from the storage site. He didn’t quite see the other vehicle that slammed into the side of the car. Their car rolled onto it’s roof as the other vehicle sped off into the distance while Foster climbed out.

Observing his colleague Foster determined he was far too injured for him to stop and help at the moment. Besides there wasn’t any benefit to helping him either. So he leveled the MP5 at the man’s head and pulled the trigger as the man begged. From there he decided to take the obnoxious pink shirt since it was better than nothing. Sliding it on he started down the road towards..wherever it would take him. Perhaps he’d head to New England and visit Section 2. See what they were working on down there if he could find the place. Maybe raid see what they were hiding in the 'archives' facility he'd heard the retrieval teams mention.