“What the hell!” Maya sought to elude the darkness in flight, taking off; as fast as she could, the 5’11 Liafador model weaved in the air in an effort to evade the teething darkness. “Fck…” she spit in desperation. Throwing her hands upward, the Cardinal Princess shot toward the heavens on the belief that space would stop the homing darkness. As she ascended, her russet eyes vaguely caught a glimpse of the overwhelming darkness that smothered the entire capital city. “What type of magic was this?” She wondered. Focus. She needed to focus, any other thoughts kept slowed her down. As she prepared to fly straight into orbit…a tendril of some sort snagged her boot.
“Get the hell off!” She screamed shooting a quick burst of her own light magic at the darkness. Nothing. Nothing happened…instead the darkness slowly began to scale her tall frame. She couldn’t fight it anymore, it entered her pores paralyzing and poisoning her once pure vessel.
In one fell swoop the darkness was lifted over Madrid, but above Madrid the new Cardinal Goddess of Darkness hovered. “Why has all this happened…” She murmured. She stood 5’11 with snow-white hair, her once olive tinted skin was transformed ashy white, and her once russet eyes were dark as the abyss.
“My mother went crazy, and in her effort to destroy everything she worked so hard to build. She failed. It was not my mother’s fault; someone made her like this…someone caused her mind to warp into what it did. This…it’s all Tassi’s fault…”
It sounded as if Maya were simply talking to herself, she wasn’t, what she was actually doing was creating a historical record of the events. “Tassi arrived and altered the entire time line for my family. Her and Kaylen. Their selfish acts brought my mother’s empire crumbling. Because of Tassi…I have to finish…. what my mother started…”
With that said, Maya extended her index finger down toward the city of Madrid. “Survive…if I let you…”
Ashley stalked closer by way of rooftop and darkened alleyways, with her own personal sound negated no one could hear the grunts from her labored breaths nor the negligent patter of her own feet. Though no one could hear her, she could still hear the elements around her, Commander Stacy of STRIKE often fed her Intel, but it was always a one-way conversation. The last bit of news she received was that all communications from Madrid had gone dead, Ziccarra was nowhere to be seen, and the combined force of the Konite Army coupled with the Brahma Brotherhood beat the “New Cardinal Legion” into surrender.
As much as Ashley would’ve loved to hear “I surrender” spit from the mouth of her former best friend, Ziccarra, Madrid and the rest of the Liafador weren’t too much of a concern right now. Susana Diaz, Ashley briefly skimmed over a list of her credentials when she was initially called in. Apparently, the terrorist kidnapped her on the grounds that she’d sided with Ziccarra. Though she doubted it was true, it was probably the scapegoat a lot of people needed to accept radical change.
STRIKE needed to deal a blow to the Brahma Brotherhood; rescuing Diaz would deal a crucial blow to the effectiveness of this takeover. Coming to an intersection, she halted before belting across the street. She could hear tires screeching on both sides of the road. “Cardinals…maybe…” She said to herself.
3-armed Cardinals jumped out off a jeep dragging a Jewish looking woman by the hair. Because this was an autonomous state, the citizens weren’t forced to follow Grand Cardinalism, like the rest of Spain, but as the Autonomous Emerald City found out, The Cardinals will do as they please.
“Fck” she mouthed watching as they placed the barrel of the AK47 on the temple of the woman. Truthfully, Ashley didn’t care if the Cardinals knew she was stalking around, she spent years preying on them in the Bravehart Order, but what she didn’t want was the lady to inform members of the Brotherhood of a slender black woman moving freely through the streets of Spain.
“Ok.” She whispered, before causing small sonic booms off the left shoulder of the gunmen. All three of them turned, providing Ashley with the perfect opportunity. Start low; dropping a capsule, she used her Manriki to painfully bind one of the Cardinals. Blood immediately began to gush from his mouth as his face slammed hard against the ground.
In the same motion, she released two black eggs, which provided concealment. As the two Cardinals flailed in pain, she made a gesture to the woman telling her to run. Normally, she’d call the bounty in make a couple of dollars, and spend it on new shoes; but she didn’t have the time. Handing both screaming Cardinals complementary elbows to the face, she continued across the street, moving just a bit more slowly toward the government buildings.
Taking refuge for a moment inside the alleyway, Ashley returned the sound to normal; she had to send a transmission.
“Stacy, listen. I can’t take on the Brahma Brotherhood by myself. I’m going to need some sort of diversion at the government building. Didn’t you say you had allies in Maverick?”
“We do, but this is a STRIKE matter, I’ll see what I can do.”
2 Hours Later
“Ashley…get to the drop point…I’m sending you a package.” Stacy finally called, after almost two hours of waiting. Truthfully she didn’t expect to get to the extraction point so quickly, especially since the start point on the other side of the city.
The start point was empty; that is until a Boeing CH-47 roared overhead, Ashley immediately disabled the noise but could do nothing about the plethora of debris the massive vessel kicked up. As the doors slide open a good 14 trained STRIKE Agents hopped out, along with a motorcycle for Ashley.
“You guys couldn’t have come in on something smaller?” She asked, knowing full well the massive military copter would put both the Cardinals and The Brotherhood on high alert.
“What I need is for you to create a diversion at the government building. Something that’ll get me in, once I retrieve Diaz, I’m going to need a transport vehicle waiting out front so we can come back here. I’m heading off ahead oh….and don’t get captured”
"Raptor Six to Six Six Alpha Two (Bradshaw), multiple hostiles confirmed KIA."The pilot proceeds to begin to make a long turn as the plane rode the wind, and began to making a strafing run. Soon however, something spawned from the ground, something huge. He looked, shoving the craft to the side as then the hand appeared.
He swerved to the side, making evasive maneuvers as he was taught in order to evade the plane, trained to react to gunfire, he reacted to giant hand as it reached and he'd almost evade it entirely. Almost. The hand took off nearly the entire wing of the thunderbolt despite the efforts of the pilot. Soon it swerved completely out of control the left wing. The A-10 was however, a craft designed to be capable of flying one wing, enabling him to fly off as the distance between him and the city increased.
"Overlord to Raptor Six Six, you have sustained critical damage. Pull out of the hot zone."
Slowly, the one winged began to turn around.
"Overlord to Raptor Six Six, pull back, that's an order."
The plane flew high into the atmosphere and was distance. Miles away as it flew with 1 and 1/2 of it's wings. From the craft. It released it's missile payload, loaded with numerous nanostructured explosives in tandum with a Hafnium bomb. A fissionless, small yield nuclear bomb.
The ensuing explosion would wipe out multiple city blocks and tower far higher than structure as it would ravage the land for approximately two miles. A bright flash of seemingly white light as structures were torn asunder would be followed by a mushroom cloud that had no nuclear fission as a trigger. This meant there was no evidence the bomb was even a nuke. Any sufficiently large explosion creates a mushroom cloud and reports attributed it to a metahuman.
The plane however would escape the blast waves entirely. And even then, he was losing altitude rapidly. The blast smacking him would only make the inevitable worse.
"Wonder if I got the bastard..."
The craft goes through multiple buildings in a heap, smashing through them and toppling some as it rests within one, the building toppling upon it and burying it in a heap.
An alert flashed on the visors, warning of one of the most dangerous sort of common metahumans one can encounter. A speedster. Immediately they rose up without a word as raw instinct took over. One motion referencing to get Sahi and Siphon out of there are the two were tackled off a roof by one and down into the streets below. Leaving the one man against her. He didn't even hear her coming (@feral_nova). He only saw the blur and instinctively fired at it with high velocity rounds. Even then, he'd little time to aim . He didn't the skill or training Bradshaw or an ENCU would have. Nor did he have enhanced reflexes of the shadow company. Perhaps, if he'd reacted a few milliseconds quicker, if she missed one attack, he might have tagged her. But, his armor fizzled, producing no barrier, no explosion to repel her from him nor him from her. He attempted to jump back, but he was human. He knew i was over, but he'd be damned before going down without a fight. Her hand rendered into his armor, the searing sensation of imminent death roaring from his pierced abdomen.
Yet somehow through perhaps sheer force of will, the lone Maverick soldier fired off a few shots towards her as she ran, stumbling hapzardly trying to mumble "Fucking b****" beneath his helmet in vane as everything was going black. His lungs exploded from the searing heat, sufficient to torch his nervous system before it could contemplate sending any such sensation of pain throughout his body. The water boiled as his flesh flashed vapor. His hand momentarily went over the gaping, steaming hole in the torso portion of his armor and the smell his own freshly steamed flesh came into his nose. He gave the bird as she was gone, and everything went back half a second later. His body no longer any type of candidate for infection.
The man hit the ground less than ideally, holding Raeyn and allowing himself to take a brunt of the force. He lethargically but with urgency got up.She could attack again. His capacity was low but he had to be ready. Thankfully, it had seemed that she moved on. He uses his mind to sift through his HUD to see his vitals. Irregardless, he had to evac them to somewhere else. Somewhere safe but also, somewhere Sahi was allowed to go.
"We'll f***ing figure it out later. We just need to get out of here now."
With that, a craft appears from seemingly nowhere, descending down to ground level. The man picks Raeyn up carefully, his disorientation gone as he watches it. Not wasting any time, he turns towards Sahi. "Are you coming?"
He wants to give her a chance, too.
Bradshaw takes a bit of a few thousand milliseconds as he takes it all in, is informed of forces gathering all around him. The blood of feral Nova vibrating cleanly off his blade at speeds difficult to process for many. His intuitive eyes keen on detecting the newfound speedster from the corner of his eye. He blew himself back all the same, widening the gap between his new opponent and himself. He aimed towards her, but, he did not fire.
He already knew she would try. The same exact thing every speedster would do, the speedblitz. However, she did indeed, waste time. Licking her wound and flicking blood at him, he already knew she was a speedster. Indeed, his allies had warned her and he was alerted to this. A file? It helped him, but he read his opponents and fought many a metahuman opponent. Trained against many a metahuman opponent. His weaponry that let him harm metahumans wasn't what got him this far. He wasn't the only one who had access to them and they did not make him unique.
His power was in his mind. Smoke appeared on the ground and in actuality by the time the blood reached her, he'd long dodged it. As she begun to run towards him, he'd already been gone. But it hardly spared him from what had come next. Nothing more than common sense informing him of what was next to occur.
A storm of blades came. Seeking the blood of not him, but of Ziccarra. His mental map of trajectories already performed, he focused more on the blades, than on Nova while still keeping her and what she could do in mind. His movement was rapid but with careful. A single misplaced movement. A muscle uncoordinated. Severe, crippling injury if not death.
And so, he had seemingly, danced through the storm. He didn't pay attention to all of the swords. To do so, would divide his mental capacity. More so, he payed attention to the ones that would immediately endanger him. The blades whizzed by, as close as mere inches at certain points. Flying by him and colliding with walls of buildings, ruined debris of some destroyed buildings, the ground, cars, signs and all that had laid about. Each passing leap causing his body, unnaturally aged by Sahi to become increasingly fatigued. He wasn't in his peak, not in body and not in mind. He drifted, for but a moment.
He couldn't help but think of how his daughter used to do ballet....
There was an explosion. And he felt himself flying now. He himself becomes a blur as he collides with a concrete wall, the impact of the explosion causing his armor to conscious harden to evade the shattering of his bones as cracks raced across it, and he fell to the floor, clear from the range of the storm of blades. His vision rapidly fading. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to rest. His mind, was tired of all this fighting. And for what? The world seemed no more peaceful. No closer to being something that he'd be able to take his child into without fear of something like this happening. Death, destruction. Able to appear anywhere on the world.
Nowhere was safe.
And what was he? But one man. There were others who couldbe made to take his place. Indeed, they'd long planned for it. The private military company is not about relying on any one individual to be it's "Hero." It was a collective of gifted individuals. And by studying his mind, others could perhaps be made like him. Eventually, he'd be replace. They had a good idea of what made him tick. Of how to make other men like him. Or perhaps even better men. Jackal could lift more than a thousand tons and move many times faster. Prometheus was a better marksman in every way. Nemaz was his organic superior, able to learn more, and do more. For christ's sake, he could shoot bullets out of the air. It was inevitable that eventually they would surpass him. That as a human with a prosthetic skeleton supporting his that was shattered by being broken by some metahuman so long ago, that he was in actuality obsolete. The Maverick Mutant Hunter figured that perhaps, he'd just allow himself to join the others. Seemed little point in living on an earth as sh*tty as this anymore.
Nova approached as she extended her arm to him, churning the flames down towards him. At such temperatures, the fire could hardly be considered fire anymore. At such temperatures, she was well above the melting point of any natural element on the periodic table, which melted at 6,000 Degrees Fahrenheit. She was moving scorching plasma at him that surpassed the temperature of any magma as the ground melted into molten slag by it mere vicinity. Near double the highest recorded temperature and reaching into temperatures more commonly found in the sun as it began to eat away at the armor. Slowly, he sank into the concrete. He couldn't really tell if the white light was Nova's fire, soon to roast him like a lobster in a steel kettle. His armor could survive nuclear temperatures for breath periods of time on it's own due to incorporating Starlite in it's structure.
He heard a voice. But it wasn't a radio. The plasma interfered with signals, as his command yelled at him, trying to get in contact with him. They couldn't get through the flames. No the voice was something familiar. Something personal. One he knew
Get up! Come on! Get up! Eric. GET. UP!
His hands twitch, grasping into molten rock as he floated atop it and began to look towards the direction of where the flames came from. It only required a thought for his Electroreactive armor to activate. While Nova's fire was hot, it was hot enough to become plasma. A molten gas that had the very electrons that bonded it to matter forcefully rended apart. The side effect of this was however that it became highly magnetic. The result of his armor's activating and emission of EM field was that the flames were completely repelled from his person, along with ambient oxygen. But his suit was a self contained atmosphere that withstood the pressures she caused the lack of oxygen. His armor, emitted plasma by ionizing the surrounding air. Repelling it in a manner nuclear fusion reactors would be able to contain particles with a temperature of over 100 million degrees Fahrenheit.
The result was an explosion and then, the flames parted. Slowly, he rose and there he stood. A figure the sun-like fired dare not touch. A mortal man, with his own fire in his eyes. The brightness of the flames blinded him and rendered seeing impossible. But he knew where the flames were coming from. He could feel the direction. He took a step forward, wobbling constantly and yet still managing to retain some form of equillibrium. His armor armored burned through it's energy reserves quickly. 39 megajoules in his capacitors in total with one being burned every second, meant that he had 39 seconds to reach her.
He continued to walk through the flames, unrelenting and unyielding. His indomitable will not allowing him to die lying down. To let his opponent have him. He must never. Ever. Allow them them the kill. If he is going to die by the hands of another, he is going to make them earn it. He dropped his knife, it having long melted under these scorching temperatures, and relinquished many of his explosives. All of his ammo. Only his armor and his pistol, and then tossed it rather far away, towards the side and then jumped into the vortex Nova had previously created. He got sucked in by it's rapid winds easily as he flew around in circled and was tossed around like an amish ragdoll.
He disappeared from the area as the vortex tossed him away apparently several blocks away. And the pistol? He didn't throw it point blank at her. He threw a distance away, as the temperatures ate through it's insulating coating. The pistol went off as a giant explosion consumed the area. The combined ammunition of the pistol causing a detonation that caused an explosive release more than 100,000 greater. A mere pistol's combined ammunition wiping out skyscrapers and small structures at a time.
She’d deflected many of them over her extensive period as a warlord, but today something was different. Perhaps it was the tenacity in which he fought, or skill? It did play an important factor; or maybe she wanted it? Whatever the reasoning, the toxic life force of the Outlaw Queen spill from her bosom onto the once veiled Liafador Family painting, now in ruins. As she lay, waiting for death to take her once more, she kept an enigmatic grin on her blood-tinted lips. With each prolonged breath, her bosom shuddered in the frigid air.
“Well done…” She whispered followed by a series of problematic coughs. “You got me.” The deep wound kept her voice soft but harsh as if she were using every facet of her being to continue speaking. “But how will you stop the Nightmares that have yet to come”.
Blood drip down the curves of her olive tinted cheeks, followed by a series on involuntary blinks. “Ab sequuntur somnia somniabunt (Dreams from Nightmares) she muttered softly, before closing her pacific blue eyes on her grandson for the final time.
Falling lifelessly to the side, the dead Cardinal queen’s body shivered in the aftermath of her own dangerous concoction. Her once pure and innocent now had a heart of darkness, and as Maya’s assault on Madrid began, another faction slowly crept his way into the fray.
Mark Antony jammed his blade into her spine, a gruesome wound, but what was death for Ziccarra became life for the virus she’d been carrying. He’d been there for years, halted by Ziccarra’s death and eventual ascension to godship, but thanks to Amora, he was finally able to free himself from Ziccarra’s vessel.
Appearing in a bright light in the dead queen’s study the former Liafador Family Patriarch stood. “You have done this family well mija…” he smirked, taking a moment to capture the gruesome scene of both his daughter and his great grandson.
Dropping to a knee he rubbed his soft hands over the carpet lining the study, at the core the fabric began to wittle and tear. He was back, his power was back and now the nightmare was to begin.
He'd waved his arm, and swatted the fly. And yet, somehow, even when stripped of one of it's wings, Maverick's aircraft soared. From the ground, Satar observed, wounded, his plow-horse chest heaving while his eyes remained cold and austere, their gaze never wavering from the plane above, never leaving it until it ascended beyond his sensory reach. Flesh hanging from bone, blood trickling from the cuts and breaks in his skin, bruises and bumps reddening and swelling, the Baabda Beast's injuries were severe. But pain. And the susceptibility to bend to it's will, Satar did not believe it to be physiological. His will to power convinced him otherwise. Pain. Suffering from one's wounds, it was a choice.
To feel pain, to suffer. It was a choice. A negative sensation. A negative feeling. A weakness. A weakness he would not.. nay, never entertain. 'A man hears the knock on his door, his brother's voice speaking through it. A man acknowledges his brother. Opens the door. Welcomes him, entertains him. Directs energy to him. Pain.. I acknowledge it. But I do not open the door. I do not entertain it. Because this is my house'. The words echoed in his mind, and behind his mask, the Baabda Beast gritted his teeth and strode forward, casting aside the psychological woes of an injured man, and welcoming the fortitude of a force of nature. He walked across the broken city, his mask filtering the dust and powdered concrete in the air.
Then he heard it. The fall of a bomb. He cast his eyes to the sky above, looking past the pillars of smoke that climbed towards the clouds. Then, his gaze fell on his men. Those of the Brahma Brotherhood and the Rebel Fighters who did battle with the Cardinals and Maverick troops. They were preoccupied. 'If they are worth anything, they will not die. The strong will find the means to survive and the weaklings shall perish', his mind justified, his thoughts cold, his heart icy. His power ring burned, it's power surging through, his veins swelling and glowing green. Seconds prior to the explosion, he was gone. His departure owed to the power ring's ability to enable one to travel across interstellar distances with little worry. What was some kilometers to light-years?
He was gone. Severely wounded but alive. Those he left behind in Madrid perished. Had he remained, he believed he would have survived nonetheless. No bomb could kill him, Satar believed. But sustaining unnecessary damage was... unnecessary.
Seville, Andalusia, Spain
Susana Diaz was gone. Nowhere to be found. Whatever surveillance footage of her departure had been destroyed. Someone had extracted her. And done so with a sound strategy. The Brahma Brothers in the 'Palacio de San Telmo' had been left bamboozled by a distraction, fooled into a wild goose chase in the government building. They found nothing. And the identity of Susana's rescuer remained unknown. And with the rest of the Brahma Brotherhood strictly instructed to tend to and protect the citizens of Seville while the Rebel Fighters began their celebrations and waved the Brotherhood's flag in victory, their resources could not be expended on rearresting an escaped Susana.
Those in the government building had been engaged in a brief melee against fourteen S.T.R.I.K.E. agents, a scuffle that yielded no casualties. Owed in part to the Brahma Brothers' more defensively-minded firing tactics, and the S.T.R.I.K.E. agents' agenda of acting only as a diversion. And once the melee had ended, Susana was nowhere to be found, and the agents had too disappeared. And in that moment, the Baabda Beast arrived, appearing in a flash of emerald green. When told of Susana's disappearance, he dismissed it, concerning himself instead with his forces' occupation of Andalusia, and their capture of it. Donning his coat, Satar slid the power ring from his finger and slipped into his pocket. His posture was nothing short of global. His swagger, militant and aggressive.
Clutching his coat's collar with a flair of self-certainty, one that conveyed the air of a man in control, of a man whose confidence in his ability to eliminate his enemies could never be shaken, Satar emerged from the palace, armed Brahma Brothers and Rebel Fighters flanking him as his feet came to a halt. A crowd gathered, and they roared. Susana's disappearance seemed a dent in his plan to further strengthen his hold over Andalusia and ensure the entire region's loyalty. But he was a manipulator. And one last bit of propaganda could lock his grip over them tight. A bomb had been dropped on Madrid. And in Satar's mind, Ziccarra could not have survived it. And so, he deceived, feeding on his supporters' fanaticism. He had killed Ziccarra for them, he'd claim.
And his voice, deep and assertive, accompanied by an inflection that was Lebanese and thick, echoed the words. "The Queen is dead. Long live the King".
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