The tension that had slowly bled out between the two suddenly returned, washing over them as if a dam of paranoia, anger, and a bit of fear had splintered and burst through the cracks and consumed them. A jolt of adrenaline coursed through the Umbra Ninja's veins as he picked up on every nuance of agitation displayed before him. The signs were subtle and even non existent to the untrained eye, but to Ronin the stranger may as well have been screaming at the top of his lungs.
Whoever this student of the Strigidae was, it was clear that he no longer held any allegiance to them. The similarity between the two of them continued to grow. Maybe the two would get along great if they didn't wind up killing each other.
Ronin's hands met with his own hilt, an instinctual reaction brought on by the fact that he would most likely be in for the fight of his life. Grimmwald wasn't very big and didn't necessarily have that much of a physically intimidating demeanor, but something unspoken about the former many faced Strigidae made the hair on Ronin's neck stand up. Something about the man was so familiar, but leaps and bounds different at the same time. He felt a strong similarity to the man who occupied the alleyway with him, but he didn't understand why.
Finally the tension broke as the man before him calmed down and even smiled again, eerie. Ronin decided to put all the cards on the table because of that. "I was forceable taken in by Ivana Strigidae. I was brainwashed and turned into a weapon for her to point and pull the trigger." Ronin paused, shaking his head as memories continued to seep in, "And pull the trigger she did. I was a hero before that and I'm doing my best to be that same man, but It changed me."
Ronin wasn't sure why he was being honest, other than the fact that his gut was telling him to do just that, which he always trusted. He reached his hand to the stranger before him, "I go by Ronin, I'll help you find your criminal."
Xiandra raced across Gothic City's rooftops, her cloaking shield hiding her from the citizens who went about their daily business below. Every couple of blocks, she would pause to affix a small bit of alien tech to a building that offered a good vantage point for the surrounding area. Each unit had been programmed with the observations she had made about the recent attack on the Metahuman Fighting Arena, and was keyed directly to the HUD in her helmet. If any of the units detected a group or individual who fit the profile of one of the attackers, she was be altered to their location.
After several hours, she finished her sweep of the city, and found a perch on a rather ostentatious cathedral, rife with gargoyles and other medieval sculpture. She settled in, tapping a few quick commands into her gauntlet, and bringing up a virtual map of Gothic City. Now, it was just a matter of waiting for her quarry to stumble into the net...
From the comfort of his studio apartment the Aethrium Royce sat alone at the kitchen table. Subtly enjoying a small bowl of cereal while scrolling through his messages on a secured network, which also enabled him to lowkey peep out the Black Market's current state of criminal shifts and exchanges.
"Yeah? Whatyou want huh? Huh?" looking down at the silent, but wide-eyed chocolate colored pit he had rescued off the streets months earlier. "Walk?" Instantly the pup sat down on its stance with its front end low, back end high, tail wagging in full effect. With a quick wipe of his mouth the two were up and on the move. Maneuvering the trenches of the less then substandard building and its poverty stricken tenants.
The park was only a few blocks away. Or at least what remained of the park, but it was perfect for a young dog to get out and run wild. Lots of debris to pull and carry. Very little people. Without his gear or weapons the forgotten Strix appeared as any ordinary dog lover would. But what was he truly playing at? Where was the Gothic Gunslinger who had brazenly led an assault on the Metahuman Fighting League and assassinated a small percentage of the city's criminal movers and shakers? Where were paramilitary Knightshells?
So many questions. Not a single answer in sight. And all the while Ishmael was being stalked by an unknown dealer of death.
@dwronin: @xiandra: @phantomshell: I hope no one minds me merging these separate interactions into one big one. If not, let me know and I'll edit it out so we can all miss out on something beautiful ;P
Easing his hand away from the hilt of his sword, Kellan's lips welcomed the subtle curl of a smirk and he strode out from under the building's shadow. "Seems turning people into weapons is back in style", the Horned Saint lamented, his ruby eyes recognizing the heavy past in the ninja's. "And finding moral redemption for a questionable past.. even more-so", he paused, inching closer, neck and shoulders rolling as cold confidence trailed him like a shadow. "I should know. I was a Strigidae once. And I'm trying to change things now. And luckily, you're willing to help, Ronin", he said, his gaze holding Ronin's, "Call me Grimmwald. But don't ask. As for the criminal, I-", he stopped, eyes widened like saucers and his focus now on the rooftop vibrations his dermal senses had zeroed in on.
"Someone's hopping from building to building. Fast. Armored. Hunting posture. It's not who I'm searching for, but it might as well be". With little warning, Kellan ran up the building's side and pushed off it, his body vaulting into the air and twisting and flowing like a water stream before landing on the rooftop with nay a sound. Giving chase to the armored alien warrior, the Horned Saint kept his distance and emitted no sound. The night it seemed, had grown more interesting.
Ronin's emerald eyes carefully watched Grimmwald glance up, theories spinning in his head as he tried to figure out how the former Strigidae knew about the approaching third party. Obviously he was a mutant, but what exactly were his abilities? His inner queries were cut short as he watched Grimm's acrobatic prowess easily get him atop the Gothic rooftops. Ronin found himself taking the same steps up as his new ally, but it took him three seconds longer, another fact Oz took into account when assessing the man ahead of him.
Ronin found himself adjacent to Grimmwald, weaving in and out between rooftop entrances, air condition units, Television satellites and even the odd pigeon coops. The two heroes had picked up on each other's rhythmic movements, without uttering a single word they were able to speak volumes to each other, moving as one.
Whatever Grimm's mutant abilities were, they were not fully responsible for the talent Ronin was witnessing. This man's mind and body was honed to peak conditions and because of this similarity between the two, they were able to travel in complete silence and without being caught in the few and between city lights.
He couldn't really see the warrior they were tracking, thanks to their alien cloaking technology, but there was small, almost undetectable, signs that someone had already gone down the path the two were traveling. Ronin signaled to Grimmwald the strange alien devices that were left behind, doing his best to stay away from them in case they were surveillance.
Unaware that two new elements had entered the game, the alien huntress was on the move again. One of her remote eyes near what seemed to pass for a park had picked up something. It was not a perfect match, but it was more of a lead than she'd seen yet, and she's had her fill of sitting and waiting, by this point. As she moved across the rooftops to a building that would give her a good vantage point, she reviewed the data she was receiving: one human, evidently unarmed and unarmored. Dress was nondescript, activity was identical to that she'd seen dozens of the species engage in.
It was the movement that convinced her. A warrior, a true warrior, had a certain way of moving, a perfect balance of caution and confidence that practically no other profession instilled. This, combined with the fact that the height and weight was a match for what she had estimated, was enough to convince her. Her employer, however, would want more proof than this. It was time for a test, then. If the man was as dangerous as his attack had indicated, he would be prepared for an ambush at all times, no matter how much his appearance might be designed to imply otherwise. That should be easy enough to test.
Though she was still cloaked from sight, her shoulder-mounted plasma cannon came online and targeted the man below, the laser-sighting aiming for the middle of his back. If the beam itself was not enough to broadcast an attack, the firing of the weapon should be...provided his reflexes were up to the task...
Sound, seemingly condensed into a slowmotion vacuum causing the hair on the back of Ishmael's neck to spike. His shoulder instinctively dipped. Cradling the pup while simultaneously rolling into a subtly stylish somersault. The edge of his flannel however had hung in the air just a second to long, catching on fire as it was struck by the unknown energy projectile.
The Phantomshell quickly ejected the scorched material from his arms and back; in the same breath of momentum that had acrobatically carried him around and up to his knees.
Fear, excitement, and intoxicating adrenaline tagged out the calm and unassuming camouflage he had portrayed earlier, as a wide-range of micro-expressions so radically represented through rapid situational observation. Trained eyes instantaneously surveying the area for signs of another attack.
A short explosive burst of motion slid the Digital Diehard across the dirt behind the trunk of a tree in hopes of arresting a momentary reprieve. If Ishmael had indeed revealed himself as part of a bigger, deeper plan, he had yet to reveal it.
Perhaps a costly gamble?
Heeding Ronin's warning with a nod, the Horned Saint was quick to stray out the path of the alien devices. Instead as the wind howled and swept through the roofs, Kellan focused on the vibrations caught by his dermal senses. The vibrations from the scuff of the hunter's heavy boots, and from the gusts of air brushing against the hunter's rare armor. Looking over his shoulder, Kellan met eyes with Ronin, communicating one thing with a quick glance; Stay on her. Darting to the left, the Horned Saint dove into the shadow of a water tank - and vanished. Walking the cold and dark world of shadows, Kellan slithered like a snake unseen while the alien hunter tore the air asunder with her plasma cannon.
And behind her, Kellan climbed out the shadow along the rooftop edge. She's out here shooting innocent people. Not in my city, he thought, hurling a dagger at her shoulder-mounted cannon before diving under her with his mind set on one thing; grabbing her leg, and rolling and shifting for a heel hook. The Horned Saint'd pounce like a panther, determined to hook his ankles together and trap her leg. Right arm hooking her heel with her leg hugged to his body, Kellan'd rotate his upper body, pulling back towards her to torque and torque, to twist her foot and ankle and wrench her knee out of place. Perhaps he'd fail, perhaps she was too quick, perhaps just skilled enough - but if not - she'd never walk again. It didn't matter. A bystander was in danger, so success or failure, Kellan'd quickly pull away and sink back into a shadow to reemerge elsewhere - from the shadow of the tree the bystander hid behind.
"Cute dog", Kellan'd smirk, on the other side of the tree, cold voice rasping through the air. "You need to get the funk ou-", he stopped, his heart skipping a beat and his brow scowling at the vibrations his dermal senses'd picked up. He recognized that heartbeat. The vibrations from his joints, how he breathed. All too well. You're the Red Mask with that redhead. Heh... lemme get a good look at your face, so I know what I'll be peeling from your skull, he thought, peeking over the edge of the tree trunk before calming himself with a smile. No.. I'll play the long game instead, he resigned. "I caught a glimpse of how you dodged that plasma gun. Clearly you can do something. But you have a pup with you, so tell you what, I'll distract whoever's out to get you, and you leave. A friend of mine is up on the rooftops ready to make it easier for both of us".
"Unless of course, you wanna stay and fight and risk your dog's life".
Ronin nodded, following his partners lead he would be the eyes in the sky, for now. Ronin seemingly followed Grimm's last known location towards the water tank, but instead of going around it the Umbra Ninja ran up the side with silent steps. As he made it to the top, Ronin pushed off the side, back flipping and landing on a higher rooftop while removing his bow all in one graceful movement.
In two seconds, Ronin had devised a plan of his own. Removing two arrows from his quiver and attaching two different arrow cartridges, Ronin was now locking onto the invisible enemy. He watched as the "civilian" skillfully removed himself from the action. Whoever this man was, it was clear that a fourth highly trained combatant had entered the fight. He wasn't sure exactly what was unfolding in front of him, but it was clear that he needed to put the attacker down for the count.
Ronin had almost missed Grimm's exit from the shadows that had swallowed him up earlier, thanks to the questions swirling around his mind, but the dagger hurling through the air allowed Ronin to get a closer bead on whoever was the third combatant.
The first arrow traveled through the air and missed the third combatant's face by less than an inch. The arrow pierced the ground, a foot away from the fight between Grimmwald and the alien assassin. This was intentional, the first arrow revealing itself to be a short ranged EMP, which would hopefully knock off the attackers camouflage.
The second arrow followed Grimm's attack, chasing after where Ronin thought the attacker's location to be while his ally had removed himself from the fight. Ronin hoped his Cement arrow would released a strong adhesive hardening foam that would keep a average criminal stuck to the ground. Ronin assumed, if the arrow did as it was supposed to, the not average criminal would easily break out of the cement, but he wouldn't be able to remove it all, giving Ronin something to shoot at if the EMP didn't do it's job.
Ronin jumped off the rooftop, landing on an adjacent one as he continued moving forward. Oz plan was to continue changing his position shooting cartridge-less arrow after another distracting the attacker, if not hurting them. Ronin sent four more arrows at the location he believed the alien to be, taking into account his own movement as he traveled across the Gothic horizon.
It was curious, how quickly a hunt could go from extended periods of nearly mind-numbing stillness to a series of events so frenetic that the mind could scarcely follow them. Her target adroitly evaded her initial attack, as she had strongly suspected that he would. What she had not expected was that it was the only shot she would be getting off on him as an expertly-flung dagger disabled her shoulder cannon. Fool, she chided herself, he has followers; of course he would be protected!
Before she had the luxury of further self-recrimination, however, her mysterious assailant slipped seamlessly into grappling range and sought to cost her the use of one of her limbs. Imperium medical science was far more advanced than anything this world had to offer, but even so, repairing the kind of damage that such a technique would inflict on a load-bearing joint would likely require both nanotech reconstruction and Eristian blood transfusions, neither of which she was keen to experience. Her brutal training kicked in and she countered reflexively, mobilizing her hip and pivoting so that she could extract her leg from between his. She rolled, coming up in a warrior's crouch with her hand closing about the handle of her retracted spear...only to find that her opponent had vanished as inexplicably as he had appeared.
It was at this point that a third enemy made his presence known, hitting her with two projectiles, the first of which disabled all the electronic elements of her gear, including her cloaking shield, and a second of which encased her in a quick-hardening substance of some kind, no doubt meant to immobilize her. Thinking quickly, she activated two weapons that depended on simple mechanics, rather than electronics: her spear and her wrist blade, both of which sprang from their respective housings and punctured the substance restraining her. With its structural integrity thus weakened, the Ephemeran exerted her full strength and caused it to crack and then break, freeing her from being pinned, although the material still clung to her body.
Enemies must be fought one at a time; multiple enemies simply meant that you needed to fight as quickly as possible. Her target was far below her; the first attacker had vanished, so Xi opted to engage the archer. Pushing herself to her feet, looking through her de-powered helmet, she lowered herself into a Sauroid challenge stance, legs spread wide and arms thrown out to display her weapons. Its meaning was clear: come and fight me, then!
There was no long game for the enigmatic Strix. Reckless, impulsive, he was too excitable to play the rational game. He knew instantly that the shadow dancing vigilante was the reputed Horned Saint, and because of this, his reflexes were set on autopilot.
Swimming a free arm across the body retrieving a flashbang from his now exposed harness and rigging belt, with a quick stabbing sidearm motion Ishmael tossed it towards the shadow of the tree.
And then immediately mirrored the same silken motion to yank his HK45 tactical pistol from nearly the same location, and open fire on the olive branch offering Shadow of Sin.
With his gun hand in the dirt the Phantomshell pushed off and launched himself into an impressive sprint. Angling his arm backwards to let off a couple more blindly fired shots to cover his dash. Making quick and stylish work of the park's fence with an Olympic like orientation of urban parkour. Pup still cradled. Still monopolizing the Digital Diehard's full range of acrobatic mobility.
"Get to the park. 5th and Edinborough." he spoke into the air before hood'sliding across a parked car and into the middle of the busy street.
If not for his dermal senses, the Horned Saint'd be dead - and drowning in the pit of fire and brimstone from which his costumed imagery came. Instead, he felt them. The vibrations from the air brushing past the hurled stun grenade and the gunshots that followed. So as he sank into the cold embrace of the tree's shadow, Kellan's eyes caught one last thing before he vanished into a world unseen; Ishmael's face. Gone from sight as quickly as he'd appeared, Kellan darted through the abyss from which all shadows were born. Ishmael Strix? Looks like that blue-blooded binch's got some moves, he smirked, the thought echoing in his mind, But he might be helping that redhead fund the Assassination Market. I'm not taking any chances.
Gloved hand reaching for something on his belt before twirling it out into a metal quarterstaff, Kellan leaped out the shadow of the car Ishmael'd slid over. The mask and top half of his costume left in the pit of the shadow he'd climbed out of, Kellan'd abandoned his costume so that no pedestrian could accuse the vigilante 'Grimmwald' of preying on an innocent man 'Ishmael Strix'. Instead, Kellan's face changing skill saw him don the face of Clinton Diggs - the officer Ishmael's shot dead long ago. Two feet behind Ishmael, Kellan lifted his quarterstaff, twisting it around and bringing it down across his body, tucking one end of the staff in his armpit and twisting the staff out as his hips and arms poured torque and borderline metahuman power into a swing that threatened to smash into the side of Ishmael's head, right behind the ear for a violent knockout.
He's too good to get caught that easily, Kellan knew. So he swung again, no less than a second after the first one. Elbow tucked as he swung his quarterstaff low to sweep Ishmael's legs from under him, the Horned Saint spun out the range of a potential counter while his mind raced to thoughts of Ronin and his ally's battle with Ishmael's hunter.
Ishmael didnt possess the extraordinary level of sensor based mastery displayed by the Strigidae Shadowbender. Sure, his militarized attire as the Phantomshell had its fare share of utilitarian compensators, yet sadly his current articles of tactical aid consisted of little more then a pedestrian strain of street level assistance.
However the Digital Diehard's bread and butter, the pride of his freestyled offensive and defensive predilections, had never truly been his tech, or even his Aethrium resources for that matter. With a perfect and unwavering understanding of his stride(s), and perception of spacial perspectives, the Phantomshell's feet were nearly always in position for an immediately transition. Situational awareness automatically alerting which leg to ambidextrously lead, or push off with for an acrobatic evasion.
Such was the case as he gymnastically attempted to dodge the Horned Saint's martial combination. Turning and sitting into the air while bringing his gun hand up along the side of his face, allowed first; for the deflection of the concussive head shot via the Secret Strix's own pistol. While the second - and more reckless act - saw the brazen vigilante literally sit into the air allowing the leg swiping attack to float beneath his own release of solid footing.
The wind was instantly knocked out as his back slammed into the street, but Ishmael instinctively rolled never losing true momentum despite the rough and turbulent impact. Again he wheeled back to his feet and once again over the hood of a parked car. This time on the opposite side of the street. Dashing past a group of youths as they exited the nearby projects, Ishmael momentarily disappeared into the stairwell.
First swing of the staff, air. Second swing of the staff, air. No skull was cracked by the hard steel end of the quarterstaff, and no legs were swept. Instead, the air whistled in protest, parted by the Horned Saint's mastered swing of his quarterstaff. Though as Ishmael dodged but fell on his back with a thud, Kellan - a born predator - pounced. Staff twirled and his grip strong, Kellan swung down hard and his quarterstaff howled through the air in a downwards arc, smashing viciously into the concrete pavement - and narrowly missing Ishmael's head. Staff pulled back with a stylistic twirl, the Horned Saint darted after the Aethrium Royce, now more conscious of his target's acrobatic skill and athleticism than ever. Ishmael wasn't just good. He was quick-thinking, resourceful, creative, preternatural. Elite.
Matching Ishmael acrobatic feat for acrobatic feat, Kellan trailed after him, body flowing as though without bones, front flipping over obstacles and running along walls as he gave chase. Free hand reaching back into his belt while his other hand held his quarterstaff, the Horned Saint's dermal senses zeroed in on the back of Ishmael's knees. The air fell silent and Kellan's arm swung out like a bullwhip, hurling a silver stream of razor sharp throwing needles at the soft back of Ishmael's knees. Needles that flew through the air like bullets threatening to tear through the flesh behind the Aethrium Royce's knees and lodge themselves in the gaps in his knees, stinging and wounding his knees after every stride, every movement of the leg. A reminder that their day - their showdown - was imminent. Sinking into the nearest shadow, Kellan slithered through the abyss from which shadows hailed. With his mask and the rest of his costume back on, he climbed out the shadow nearest to Ronin.
Twirling his quarterstaff, his neck rolling and his blood cold, the Horned Saint eyed the armored alien, glancing first at her weapons then her feet. Two weapons, he thought, A spear and some blade. A lot of offense and limited defense. But we don't need to fight her. She and the Strix can kill each other for us. And if not, I have a plan for him. "We should fall back. There's new info", he said with a glance Ronin's way. "Let's go", he insisted, offering Ronin his hand to pull him into the black pit of the nearest shadow and pop out elsewhere in Gothic City; the ruins of Black House.
@human_dynamo: Created eons ago, Damask brought his crippled legs to his chest as he watched those around him simply walk by, never once letting themselves see the poor like himself...or what he let them see. It was his task and his need to search the minds of those who passed by searching their minds, for over to pickp out of the crowd and tease.
As he waited covered in a sheet that looked and smelled of waste, her could the scent of something so very sinful....Pride... Gluttony. All those eons in hell as a Prince, he saw many things pass by and even tortured even more.
Those who wished to be more in their corporeal forms were those who he would be brought, giving so much of who they were as creatures. For a brief moment of being something. Wickedness crossed his face as he sensed over in particular. He was a handsome man yet still very young for such an old soul within.
Letting him pass Damask stood up, and slowly followed, disappearing into the shadows as he did. Stepping out from the shadows as they were not alone he speaks deep and low "Spare some change my son?" Hand stretching out with a cop...
Hank had taken pictures before in the squalor of Gothic. They just never sold, and he didn't understand why. Yet he was always drawn back to this place. It certainly wasn't the smell. A figure approached him out of one of the alleyways, someone asking for change.
Usually they just tried to mug him. No one was usually in an 'asking' mood in these kinds of streets.
He removed a twenty from his pocket, something he was saving for lunch today, tomorrow, and the next day.
"Here, you need this more than I do," he placed the bill in the man's outstretched cup.
@human_dynamo: Smiling wide Damask takes a bow "Thank you my son...." As he came back up from the bow the desperate humbling homeless man visage disappeared, replacing it with that if a knighted pale man. Head piece with crowns that reached nearly a foot above his head.
A pair of long horns wrap around themselves through the head piece, almost piercing the skin again as they just barely touch his forehead. Raising an armor glad hand his fingers were bare, middle finger and thumb touched briefly then snapped.
All light even street lights shattered out disappeared, washing the area in a Darkness that enveloped everything. Soon all noise siezed and only Damsks voice could be heard. No cars, sirens, the hum of lamps nothing but his voice.
"You offer your last penny, what do you wish to have in return. I cannot allow for such an act to go unrewarded. Anything you wish...tiz mine too grant." A slight grin arise on one side of his face as he stared at the young man.
As the stranger began his transition from a seemingly normal homeless man into something entirely alien, Hank put a finger to his visor. However, he was temporarily distracted by the purging of all light and sound. The complete lack of ambient noise struck a profound chord in his mind, and he grimaced, obviously disturbed. His finger quivered on what functioned as a trigger for his optic blasts.
"Can't... or won't?" he began shakily. "I don't want... anything," his mind wandered back to how much he wanted his pictures to be sold, for the truth about Gothic City's slums to be exposed. Perhaps it was for money, fame... his face on TIME magazine. Maybe those were his deeper desires, like any human.
But of course he was a mutant, so in the public eye - more often than not - he exemplified the worst of human culture. Those repressed feelings however... perhaps they were just fuel for this creature in front of him.
@human_dynamo: Grinning wide his teeth shined in the pure darkness "Don't lie child, all things are needn't of something within this world..." Moving his hand slightly and a flock of his fingers the world was once again whole or as whole as this dreaded city could be, a moment later Damask was atop The building behind the young man. Snapping his fingers to get the man's attention "All you need is to admit that there is something you truly want, from to be seen as what you really want to be seen as..." Another snap and the young man's camera was in Damasks hand, a flick of the wrist and the camera transformed into the latest technology of camera. "Or be seen as the nobody you are now..." Tossing the camera towards the young man as it left his hand it returned to the shabbled camera it once was, Damask smiling wide now.
She waited, as she had for the past two nights.
Cloaked in her invisibility shield, and with her helmet's visual spectrum set to infrared, she prowled the upper levels of the deserted building. While it was bustling during the day, at night there was typically only a single watchman present, who's duty was largely relegated to sitting in the office and watching the security monitors, while trying to stay awake. For the past two nights, however, even this human had not been present. Her employer had assured that, due to what would later be discovered to be a scheduling error, no one had been assigned to cover this building at night for an entire week.
Her employer had also been obliging enough to let slip, through her own means, a rumor that there was some manner of unwholesome activity taking place here at night, something related to the Alaric Foundation and their odd interest in metahuman combat...there was no truth to the rumors, of course; the materials that passed through this building was little more than merchandise to be hawked at fights, but with any luck, the false information might draw in one or more of her targets.
It was a strange tip, to say the least. "Unwholesome activities" sounded more like a job for the cops. And it would be, in time. But it'd reached her network first thanks to the superior efficiency of her black market network contacts, so the Scarlet Shadowrunner spent the week casing: camera placement (at least those which could be located easily outside), personnel, numbers of staff members, patrol patterns, and their personal lives in case something came up. And what do you get when you mix "interest in metahuman combat" with "unwholesome activities?"
Hopefully something that would help in future conflicts with mutants and other vigilantes—especially him, for now. And if she was particularly lucky, material enough for easy extortion of at least one of Gothic's wealthiest.
It seemed a no-brainer to show up when there would be fewest people (obstacles) to worry about; just as it seemed a no-brainer that if something at all valuable was in fact inside, it wouldn't be left unprotected. There was a method and a psychology to security matters. Valentina had been studying them since she was five. Even among variable approaches there were a few virtually universal constants. Among those, there's always a guard dog when you can afford it. State of the art detection systems and even automated weapons were accompanied by at least one sentient element: an A.I, a squad, maybe even a meta (or several). That Beremud chick certainly had enough connections.
Hard to tell what, without going inside, but she'd be stupid to approach a B&E without readying for something, so Valentina prepped almost as though she were getting ready to carry out a contract, albeit more lightly. The feeling was almost alien.
Been too long since I did a job that didn't involve killing.
The van was parked a couple of blocks away, safe distance to avoid easy detection and description if anyone happened in the area. The inside was filled with unknowns but entering through a window, she decided, would at least keep her from showing on the outside cameras. No freebies. Anything else, she could erase and loop when she was done if necessary.
Nanite gloves made quick work of the glass and Valentina fired her grappling hook into the ceiling grid. There she hung, scanning for additional cameras and any personnel, or at least an command center/office area where someone might be stationed and watching.
Hank looked between the camera in his hands and the creature in front of him. Judging by what was happening, he had no real way of leaving the situation at hand nor did he have a real choice in the matter. Then again, he did admire the make and model the magical being conjured out of thin air. A Nikon D850 DSLR, just the frame of which cost nearly $4,000. The shadow of it loomed in his mind. Maybe he could snap more pictures, get better results, and receive a higher paycheck... but what would it cost him, exactly?
No, the camera could wait. He had a job to do.
"Alright. But no funny business!" his fingers shot back up to the button on his visor - again, keeping his hand on the trigger.
"If you want me to make a wish, then so be it. I want my pictures to bring the truth about this place to light, and that the injustice caused to them will be rectified,"
He cursed inwardly, knowing the detail about 'his pictures' being the one to stick out like a sore thumb. It didn't matter about what he wanted, these people were suffering. But the damage was already done, and he needed a steady source of income. Maybe this was a way to get two birds with one stone... hopefully.
It appeared that her patience had finally been rewarded; an intruder had entered the building. A highly skilled intruder, she noted. Had her vision not currently been in infrared, she might have missed Valentina's entrance completely, for the woman moved as though she was kin to the very shadows that cloaked the building's interior.
Xi remained still, observing Val as she deployed her grappler and gave herself a superior point of observation. She frowned slightly; this pattern of behavior did not fit the profile of the warriors she hunted: there was not enough tech, not enough weaponry. The attack on her employer's holding was bold and violent; this was subtle and cautious. It was unlikely that this intruder would lead her to her quarry.
That being said, she had grown bored with her vigil, and viewed this as an opportunity to not only get some exercise, but sharpen her skills against the inhabitants of this world. She moved towards a maintenance ladder that would enable her to ascend to Val's level, deliberately loosening a brick from the wall in the process and letting it drop noisily to the floor. Her invisibility cloak would keep her from being observed, but nothing thrilled her quite like a hunt when the quarry was on full alert...
What was that!?
It came from behind. Valentina inverted herself into an upside-down position, locking the cable about her feet so she could control her angles while looking around. But she saw nothing. Something definitely moved, and something fell. Fairly heavy. But she couldn't see it.
Then it was time to move. Could be nothing or it could be a mutant. Time would tell, but she wasn't about to draw things out waiting to find out. With the click of a button the grapnel released and Rosso fell into a somersault. She hit the ground light as a kitten and rose with mild theatrical flair. Bowing once to the "imaginary" crowd, she made straight for one of the boxes on the ground floor.
Cautious, but not paranoid. This one knows what she's doing.
The huntress was impressed, thus far. This intruder was skilled and perceptive, but despite not seeming to have any backup, she showed exceptional confidence, and even a touch of bravado. This was not some beast to be struck down from the shadows; this was a prize worth claiming in honorable fashion.
She dropped from the upper levels to the floor, about a dozen yards behind Val, allowing the duranium elements of her armor to absorb most of the shock. As she rose, she deactivated her cloaking shield, revealing her presence even as she drew her spear from her belt and snapped it into readiness. She crouched, every finely-tuned muscle tensed in readiness, as she steadied her weapon across one arm in a clear challenge that transcended any difference in language or culture.
Come. Show me what you have to offer.
She slashed through the box's bindings quickly and opened it.
Onto the next one.
And another, some greater distance away just in case they'd been grouped in some order she didn't understand.
<You've got to be shitting me.> The realization set in just as she heard another, notably louder, thump on the floor—again, some small ways behind her. There was no mistaking it then. Valentina sighed and stood straight up, shaking her head as she pivoted on her heel.
"A Goddamn setup."
But who set the trap and why? Her mind immediately went to Grimmwald, the vigilante who nearly killed her. And, she somehow got the feeling, still had eyes on her. Whoever this was, they certainly looked like they could've been a fellow vigilante. And they were beckoning her onward, inviting her to strike...
So Valentina stood perfectly still.
Since the first time since World War II, Mary suits up as the new Apex. No, she isn't dressed up in her 'American Flag' costume. This time, she dresses up like a bat, much like Theron King did in order to honor that man for what he did before he died. Mary had trained him, unknown to but a few and now, Apex is back.
Apex got a tip from Thunderfist about the schematics and the manufacturing facility that was responsible for building dangerous weapons called toast masters. One blast from it and a human is a steaming pile of meat with a giant hole in them. Thunderfist and Ronin had already destroyed a shipment of such weapons, but the source of the problem still needed to be dealt with and Thunderfist wasn't being payed to do that part. So, she tipped off Apex, thinking Mary was the old Apex.
Apex leaps down and hits a thug in the back, knocking him out. She throws a Batarang at one thug to disarm his gun before she slides towards the other, doing a spin with her legs and trips him so hard, the thug lands on his head and is knocked out. Then she punches the other thug whom she disarmed earlier with a single punch. All of this happened in the span of two seconds since Apex moves so blazing fast.
Apex sneaks in the manufacturing facility. She uses detective mode to see that she is heavily out numbered and out gunned. But when has that ever stopped her? She smirks, this'll be easy...
@apex_predator87: In truth, startling revelations had come to Jacob of late, he wasn't simply an avenging archer and protegee of Aaron Kenway, those memories had been implanted in him by the government, he was a patriotic hero of World War Two, a lost lover of Apex thawed in the modern day who had shaken the yoke of his superiors, this was unbeknownst to her even now.
He was a distant relative of her first lover from the Civil War, and wounded on the battlefield was given a rejuvenation formula that completely stopped his aging and enhanced his physical attributes to above his previous peak human levels.
All these years later, he finally felt he should step in, and show her the truth.
He preferred to use a blade over a bow as of late, and in his WWII identity as The Sabreur, he slices the thugs to ribbons in seconds.
He then sheathed his rapier and pulled off his mask, "Mary, I've returned."
Thusly, he explains his tale to her.
And before she can stop him, he had sliced the bad guys into so much sushi in seconds. That angered her since she has a no kill rule she's adopted. But then he pulled off his mask, calling her by name. Immediately, she thinks this is suspicious. She's only been Apex for a few days. Last time she was Apex, it was during World War II and she was dressed completely different back then. So, how did he know who she is?
The man bore the face of a former lover, a man Apex loved deeply. She patiently waits for him to finish his story before she strides over to him and proceeds to try and slap him across the face. Hard. "First, that's for killing those men! Now I can't interrogate them for information. And second, how do you know who I am? I only just adopted this look a few days ago. Third, you just now decide to reveal yourself to me? Why not earlier?"
@human_dynamo: Wickedness spranged forth from the smile that stretched across the face of the creature known as Damask. "The truth? Injustice rectified? So be it...." Snapping his fingers and the darkness that had covered then disappeared showing the night air. The homeless and the provided came to love, song their TRUE nature.
The homeless that you looked past shit forward to the next person who ignored him, screaming at the fact he was ignored as he plunged his thumbs into the eyes of the well groomed suited business man. Across the street the well kempt woman sipping at her coffee snatches forward at the woman opposite of her screaming "He's my husband you whore!!" Grabbing handfuls of hair and tearing from the young ladies scalp firs fills of blood and hair.
"Your photos of the derelict and the privy, the wealth and the barren, each soul holds all kinds of emotions. Injustice is never truly rectified, as you bring one to light another hidden deep still remains... You want this city to be shown in the light... So be it..." Laughing loudly it fills the street as chaos unravels "You asked for them to be shown... You have the chance to make it stop..." Breathing deep as if the chaos filled him with energy Damask smiled, outstretching a hand that now resembled what he should look like. Demonic and grotesque "All you have to do is ask for it to stop"
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