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#51 Posted by Walter_Hughes (125 posts) - - Show Bio


"The...'Horned Saint?'" A simple question in verbiage, there was an unveiled derision as Walter echoed what was not the first additional sobriquet he'd heard Strix call the man in the devil suit. Nor the first time he'd heard that particular nickname from the man's lips, but he made his derision known if only for the mutually hypocritical distaste each had for one another's particular brand of theatrics.

Finishing what was in his glass, Walter poured himself another, circling the room, indirectly bringing himself gradually closer to the last bastion of the Strix dynasty within Gothic—but not too close. He stopped, rubbing his thumb gently, yet firmly, along the condensation-covered glass. A personal defence mechanism, of sorts, using intense concentration, to keep himself from lunging at the Gothic Ghostshell and using the man's body as a sangre paintbrush to redecorate the walls of the penthouse. Easy cover-up. Burn it down. "Torched in the attack." "An unfortunate loss."

Short-sightedness. The same problem he saw in both of Arthur's recent contacts--but at least Noble and Denver knew their place. More than a peeve, the instant Walter caught a whiff of it in any of his associates, close or unproven—the instant his hair-trigger sensibilities felt such folly endangering his carefully laid plans—mayhem threatened to release: an almost entirely separate entity, more Neanderthal than human, embedded deep within every fiber of his being, that itself had no concerns save for the basest and most prominent of those which occurred to the Proto-Sapien before rage subsumed him. He took several breaths and considered Ishmael. Not his offer, but the man himself.

Picking up on the subtle cues of distress known only as the man's closest confidant would know, Arthur fast-walked his way between the two under the pretense of snatching the bottle of bourbon from his boss—"Aye! Well if it's our last night on Earth don't go hoggin' all the good stuff for yourself!"—the brief interjection apparently enough to pull the grandiose game-planner from his homicidal ideation.

"Mr. Strix, I respect your...passion, but you would do well to understand that I alone am the Word of God here—I will dictate when and how my resources are expended. You may have input to be considered on its merits but when I no longer see that merit in your mind as reflected in your words" Pause. He breathed deeply. "...There are always battles to come. You have a gift for accumulating knowledge but without wisdom it only drives you to panic and recklessness."Bounding through my window, for example."I will not waste one resource - not a single man or dollar - aiding you in a fruitless endeavor that benefits no one. If that's not good enough for you, then you can use your 'charm'to learn his location." And with his own self-assured, externally derisive smile, added, "And as a gesture of goodwill for that which you have brought me tonight, I will welcome you back with open arms when you have learned better."

"I might could help," Arthur piped up again, almost shocked himself that he was somehow playing the voice of the middle ground. For now...Nonchalantly taking a swig directly from the bottle. "If you're so certain he's holed up somewhere and not out n' about doin' any of the dirty work himself, I just might happen to have information regarding certain patterns of behavior. But you know how this goes - nothing's free. First, the location of the safehouse like you promised. And I ain't gonna lie, more'n a little curious how you managed to make your way here, since none of this meeting is on paper, and officially, neither of us is in the city right now. I'll find that out sooner or later anyway, but if you're feelin' nice..." He shrugged, took a long sip.

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#52 Posted by Phantomshell (1168 posts) - - Show Bio


but you would do well to understand that I alone am the Word of God here

Whats a god to a none believer...

It was here, at this particular moment in which the Digital Deathnote's rebellious insubordination figuratively shouldered its way to the front of his emotional disposition. Cherry picking the words which followed but twisting them to serve his own reforged purpose.

After all, Walter wasnt from Gothic. He had never been a part of its streets or even its criminal infrastructure. Up until two minutes ago his knowledge of the events had been...limited. For all his talk of wisdom and projection of self-assured stratagem, the Whale of Wall Street knew nothing. So he would do, nothing.

Ishmael understood the fault of his own gamble now. Though he'd reflect on it silently while the Neo-Juggernaut sought to pacify the heightened social tension. In the ultimate vision of his long game the Horned Saint would have been removed courtesy of the Whale of Whitewood, but not before losing a large amount of valuable resources. And then, at his weakest, Ishmael would have sought to pit Walter against the Beauty of the Boardroom, Elsa Beremud. His back-pocket trump card.

But that would have been too much like right

Yet Walter had given the Phantomshell a glimpse at a possible idea. If his philosophies on battle were true. If going after the Horned Saint was indeed pointless...a, fruitless endeavor, in other words - nothing to worry about; then the next real threat to the city's criminal underworld was the well dressed titan standing here before him, now.

No Caption Provided

A man of unlimited vision. Unlimited resources. And no doubt secret and shady political confederacies. A man who's premeditated actions had already garnered lucrative real-estate in specific chunks at a fraction of its value. Walter had already authorized his proxy in the recruitment of other Gothic outcasts. And that was before Shadowland.

If Walter were to emerge in the aftermath as a substantial figure of influence in the city, any possible gains made for Gothic would be purely cosmetic. The city would be ruled from beneath Walter's boot as he window gazed from some well insulated high-rise a thousand miles away.

"You know...you're right. I'm driven by panic and recklessness." He spoke and laughed in synced stereo, Makes this alot easier though" Like a half formed moon Ishmael bore his teeth in a wide-arching grin behind the crimson highlights of his mask. Swimming his hands into the open flaps of his zipper and buckle peppered jacket with acrobatic dexterity, bringing out two mette black canisters in the blink of an eye. Each one instantly popping smoke and rolled across the floor, almost immediately obscuring all but the fading silhouette of the Shell and those in attendance.

Absent arrogant complacency Ishmael crouched low, and essential free-walked out of the shattered window. His kicks gripping the frame below and eventually the next window down. At this height Gothic's death fueled air was violent and turbulent. Loud and all consuming. However for the Phantomshell it was oddly relaxing.

Instinctively yet without looking the Gothic Ghostshell held one pistol pointing at his previous point of exit, anticipating Grimsuld eventual investigation. In truth Ishmael knew he should have stayed and finished them both off here and now. Why wait? Another time though. But a time would come, none the less

The sounds of sirens, spotlights, cops and crooks below; as well as Walter's previous idea, all floated across the sub-conscious daydream of the Phantomshell. Where Walter sought to garner good will among the citizens, Ishmael now sought to garner it among the criminal entrepreneurs. Captains and right hands left abandoned by the Horned Saint's eradication of villains and evil masterminds. They could be groomed, won over. Their loyalties solidified. And all Ishmael needed to do was to round them up and get them to the aforementioned Safe-House.

Released from his perch speeding through the air with reckless aerial abandonment, the Deathnote waited until a breath's whisper away from the street before employing his carnival like cables and riggings to stylishly swing through, around, over and out of the way of oncoming traffic. There was groundwork to be laid...

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#53 Edited by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@the_silkworm: @hawkshade: @apex_predator87: @assassinatrix:


Something lingered in the air, a poisonous mist that reached out to sting the eyes, run the nose and burn the skin. And Fury felt it all. Eyes tormented and blistered by the Ephemeran's toxin, nose flooded with mucus, and her face lit by a fire that was somehow there yet not, Fury roared - more wounded animal than panicked human. Because human, she was not. She was mutant. She was more. She was Strigidae, a warrior whose superhuman muscle fibers were fine-tuned for two things and two things only; survive and kill. Every twitch of her muscles carried with them the legendary skills of grandmasters alive and dead, and her heart beat with fear. A fear the Strigidae instill in all who rank. A subconscious terror of failure. Failure meant months in isolation, in caves paved with dirt, grime and diseases. Months with neither light nor sound but the lurid glow of the moon as their bodies and spirits were mangled by tortures unknown to man and used by the Secret Masters.

She could not fail. Pain was temporary. So as her face burned, as the pain swarmed through her flesh to set fire to every nerve on her skin, Fury roared and from the corner of her watered eyes, caught the moving shadow of the invincible warrior who'd felled the Orochi and survived her grenade; Apex. She was unbeatable. Untouched. Perfect. But her shadow heralded her kick, and Fury - a warrior born with uniquely explosive muscle fibers, even by metahuman standards - was already moving. Supernaturally fast, she'd spun round to glide with the kick, catch it, tuck Apex's tight ankle under her armpit, turn and sweep her standing leg for a frighteningly fast trip takedown. On the ground, Fury'd be just as explosive, posturing up to drive down with a stab of her vibranium claws through Apex's exposed side, a bid to prevent her from shifting her hips to explode back up, and dupe the legendary vigilante into dropping her hands low - exposing her face to a stab not from vibranium claws, but an Orochi arrow through the eye.

One that'd inject into Apex's bloodstream, the deadliest neurotoxin known to man; Type H botulinum. And one that'd threaten to decay the proteins critical to Apex's neurotransmitters. And without neurotransmitters telling the lungs to breathe, the heart to beat, the advanced healing factor to regenerate and so on, every bodily process fails - death'd come to claim Apex in seconds. Face burning and eyes watering, Fury'd explode to her feet, intent on avoiding a kick to the back of the head from Apex's ally.

The Horned Saint/角状の聖者

"Life is not real. It is a biological VR hardware that is host to my spirit. If you kill me - I was only passing through."

No Caption Provided

There, basking in the shadows of Black House, Grimmwald cast his orange gaze down at his former brother with disregard. The Horned Saint was colored with bruises, but Richard couldn't walk. And as Grimmwald met the man's eyes and felt his words echo in his mind, he stepped forward, the dirty and bones of those buried there crunching under his boot. "And I thought Kellan was the one with bad jokes", Grimmwald deadpanned, "You don't even believe your own words, Hawkshade. If you did, you wouldn't be so terrified of killing when it is right, when it is necessary. You wouldn't be a coward", he continued, unknowingly falling victim to his former brother's game of deception. So as the drones crept up behind him like vultures to a carcass, the Horned Saint dismissed, "You deal in philosophy. I deal in reality. And the reality is you're only passing through because you're the good man who does nothing. Too cowardly do anything but pass through".

As the drones screamed, Grimmwald'd already drawn his sword, and vibranium steel glimmered like silver as it sliced through drone after drone. Twisting, turning and contorting as though he were born without bones, the Horned Saint had bit the bait. And he, the once good man become the dragon - was slain. It was like a flash he'd never seen coming. And it felt like a lightning bolt swarming through his flesh, electrocuting every hypersensitive nerve in his dermis till his mind went blank, his eyes white, and his body collapsed. There was a thud. Dirt and dust jumped into the air, and Grimmwald had been stripped of his consciousness. He'd bested Richard as a warrior, but fell to his former brother's ingenuity and cunning. For some seconds, he lay there, motionless with his eyes rolled into the back of his head until his finger twitched. Then his hand, arm, torso, and everything. Like a corpse raised from it's grave, Grimmwald contorted and twisted his way to his feet till it was clear it was never him who'd stood to his feet.

With his mind unconscious, he'd lost the battle of wills with the Soul Lavaliere. And now, the ancient stone had managed what it'd yearned to since the very beginning, replace the Horned Saint's missing soul - and take control. Face pallid like a corpse, eyes empty and black, and his skin cracked like old bark, Grimmwald was no more, his weakened body no longer his but the Soul Lavaliere's. "You know", it began, a female voice echoing alongside a man's, it's empty eyes zeroing in on Richard's, "If you want my personal opinion, that was by far the best decision you've made tonight". Grimmwald's body was weakened, severely so. Richard had crippled it's dermal senses and left it's muscle tissues a noodled mess. The Horned Saint's body could barely stand. But it didn't matter. Richard couldn't. And the Soul Lavaliere had finally assumed control. And in doing so it summoned the rest of the Blackdagger to imprison Richard while Grimmwald's body - trembling and weak - was no longer in fighting condition.

If not for the Soul Lavaliere, Richard may very well have ended the Purge and claimed his title as a hero of heroes.

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#54 Edited by Apex_Predator87 (113 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: @the_silkworm@assassinatrix

No Caption Provided

.Apex is far from unbeatable, far from perfect. She'd be the first to admit that. She just possesses a range of skills and knowledge that few others have. But even with her level of skill, even she can make mistakes. She's already made plenty this night. Apex should have been able to find Grimmwald. Even the Orochi have an origin point. No one and nothing can come from everywhere and no where. Leg caught and forced to the ground, Apex's mind is in full battle mode. She's already thinking of all the possible scenarios being on the ground means for her and for her opponent. Tactically, there is a number of ways this can go down. The direct approach is too predictable, but a feint might not be.

Apex has yet to expose her claws, which is getting to be a rarer thing for her to do as time goes by. So far, she's used her gadgets and skill to carry her over in this fight and with the Orochi. But now, she uses her claws, hoping it'll surprising her opponent. Her left hand pops two claws to defeat the stab of the vibranium blade coming to her left, her right hand pops two claws to swiftly cut the arrow before an attempt is made at stabbing the woman in the throat. Depending on Fury's capabilities, this move could prove fatal or detrimental enough for Assassinatrix to capitalize upon the move and make sure Fury suffer her feared defeat.

Succeed or failure, the moment Fury jumps up to avoid a kick from Assassinatrix is the moment Apex leaps to her feet, even as an animalistic hiss escapes her lips.

But to finish the fight, it is not meant to be. The Blaze Rider suddenly arrives on the scene. The Urban Legend come to life, a horrofying nightmare made real. Blazing with the fury of fire that seems to burn as hot as the sun, but somehow doesn't. The roar of his motorcycle engine is heard long before the Blaze Rider himself can be seen. At last, the nightmare himself appears as if a monster coming to life in someone's worst dreams. Chains that encircle his arms like slithering snakes come alive and move on their own accord. Lashing out as if angry, the chains wrap themselves around Apex's neck. As the Blaze Rider drives by, the woman known as the Apex Predator is snapped off her feet and dragged behind the blazing motorcycle before at last, both the rider and Apex disappear over the horizon to parts unknown. Apex's fate...uncertain.

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#55 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@quintus_knightfaii: @rosso:

Everything happened so quickly, she was still trying to catch up with what was happening. First, in a cloud of smoke, her brother, whom she thought was dead, came to what she assumed was for her rescue. “Quintus” she spoke, breathless from the shock of seeing her brother alive as tears gathered in her eyes. All this time, he was alive? So many questions needed answering, but they had to wait. Because of the shadows came a voice that rumbled deep within the darkness. Ashley’s eyes widen as a warrior who’s name she didn’t know, came forth. His declaration caused chills run down her spine as she stood her ground, his weapon drawn and the attack commenced.

Her reaction wasn’t fast enough to counter the sneak attack, the blade came for her. But instead of the teeth of the blade sinking into her skin, it was June who tackled The Knightfall down to the ground as their bodies skid away from the immediate danger. Her eyes locked onto her, the woman who almost killed Kellan who almost killed her who was saved by Ashley… now saved her. Wasn’t life funny like that? She gave her a nod of a thanks.

The Knightfalls attention shift back to her brother as the attack between the two continued. A warrior and a soldier fighting one on one. Ashley hesitated to join, even after seeing her brother become hurt, even as the Catholicon began to collapse. She wanted to help him, but she also knew that she had to get to Richard and Kellan. There was a bigger battle going on than what was happening here and Richard and Kellan needed her. The look in her eyes must have been easy to read, because June, had then pinned the Knightfall Saint to the ground, forcing her to look up at her ‘student’ as she pleaded with her not to go.

"I know what you're thinking. Do not go to him. You're worthless at best, dead at worst. Here you can help. That man is fighting for the lives of every person in this place. If he dies everyone does. He deserves our help. I can explain afterwards but please,Doctor Knightfall, stay here tonight."

Before she could answer, explosions were unleashed into the Catholicon and just as quickly as the mysterious warrior appeared, he vanished without a trace, leaving the trio in the crumbling underground building. They needed to get out, now. “The people are fine, Lynette would have lead them to safety from the Katacombs. She’s the only one who knows the way. But we need to get out, now.” Ashley spoke sitting up, but not forcing June off of her.She got up, rushing to her brothers side as she wrapped her arm around behind him while putting his good arm over her own shoulder. “Let’s go.” Was all she said as she began to lead the way while the walls were crumbling down. She lead the way as quickly as they could move out of the Catholicon, and into a series of blacken tunnels. Pulling out her phone she turned on the light. The sound of the Catholicon collapsing upon itself was heard behind them as the tunnels trembled. Her Catholicon was gone... but it was ok, she could rebuild it.

She was silent, unsure what to say. What does she say to a brother she thought was dead? What does she say June who was working for her murderous ex? Nothing but their footsteps could be heard as they approached a large cemented wall. “Ashley Knightfall, protocall 23-45.” The sound of power whirling through machinery could be heard as the cemented wall shifted and lifted upward, leading a way into another area. As they steped in, the lights flashed on to reveal the one and only… K-avern

“We need to talk, soon." She finally spoke, her eyes looking towards her brother. "But not right now, I have to go. I need to go to them." She began to escort her brother to the medical ward of the K-avern. "And June, don't try and stop me." Her eyes shift over to her "student". "I have to do this."

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#57 Posted by Faatina_Knightfall (197 posts) - - Show Bio

The Town Built on Fear

"This' why chess is a Queen's game"

The moment her dingy combat boots touched the Gothic soil she came under attack. A man, wielding more power than he was capable of understanding; using it to cleanse the city.

She could feel them, moving like piranhas to the exposed wound, but she stood on land, like she oft did in the sea--poised and confident.

Before she could flinch, her soul-powered blades began to twirl around her releasing a hellish howl in the process before making the Pirate Intangible to the Orochi's long distance fatal arrows.

The Damned weren't so lucky, Their arrows ate away at the bones disintegrating them where they stood. As the arrows continued to rain down upon them, she sent her right hand in the air to tantalize the souls swarming in the Gothic City, their essence were snatched, devoured by the Orochi and their master.

Making a fist with her extended hand, The Dread Pirate sought to halt their movements; but she was currently unaware she was dealing with the power of a universal lavaliere. As the souls were snagged by the power of the stone Faatina's hand opened before becoming tangible again.

"There will always be an army to command" Running her pasty fingers along the Gothic streets, she used the Orochi's previous orders to work in her favor, they mauled for no apparent reason leaving nothing behind but a husk. For Faatina saw no reason to leave behind a perfectly good bodies.

The Styx and Harmony plow into the ground releasing energy into the ground, surging through every crevice within a 5 miles radius--reanimating the dead. There was so much fear to capitalize on to let linger, levitating above the Orochi, her two blades now protecting her for the time being.

Pulling her hands back toward the Dreaded Fleet docked behind her in the Gothic Bay, she sent the shroud of fear blowing through the streets of Gothic; in it's wind rode the Forgotten Knightfall. The source of this widespread fear had revealed itself, unknown to her at the present moment the Gothic Defender and The Horned Saint fought for supremacy. The closer she moved toward the Black House, the more Orochi she encountered; they'd make entry damn near impossible.

Her shroud shook the city like an airborne Earth filling the susceptible to an overwhelming feeling of fear.

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#58 Posted by Walter_Hughes (125 posts) - - Show Bio


From the beginning there'd been an air of mutual distrust between them. A quiet exchange of jabs, subtle and not, negotiation, and ultimately, an exchange in which all involved parties elected to pick up their own balls and go home. Whatever olive branch Arthur was offering wasn't good enough for Strix. His hands vanished and immediately Arthur moved as to interject himself between the two, as though to tank any hostile offerings between Ishmael and the man who took up more space than either of them.

What came, however, was unexpected. Instead of an all-out assault on both men, Strix had opted for subterfuge. This was not the time for pride; the instant he saw the canisters roll along the ground, Walter flung his broad-bodied self over the large sofa and onto the floor. Arthur, true to form, rushed toward the danger, ready to fling himself on any grenade, inhale any toxin en route to removing the threat from the premises.

Smoke trailed out of the building as the Viking Super Soldier launched both canisters out of the open window like projectiles from a cannon, striking a runner's stance himself before—

"Not yet!"

Walter's voice halted him as soon as he started, carried forward on several off-balance steps, for the power on which he'd already begun to explode.

"As you were," commanded the would-be Caesar of Gothic. He rose, dusting himself off and composing himself as though nothing of import had happened at all.

"If we have made an enemy of Strix then we will need to be more careful than ever, especially within this city. Although his incompetence is merely a front, we know what he wants, and that makes him somewhat predictable. See to the associate. I've already planned accordingly."

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#59 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall: @quintus_knightfaii:

The Horned Sinner's warrior was gone. All too soon, it seemed. It was as much a shame as relief, for while his presence brought danger, it was also an incentive for the doctor to stay and defend her own. Now that he was gone, no internal conflict could keep her from her former lover.

It'd have been a lie to say she felt nothing at all. A bred sociopath with as many double lives as there were people in the Catholicon, all built on the recitation of memorized lines and simulated feelings, Juniper's hurt was genuine as she followed Dr. Knightfall through the tunnels. She could've sworn Valentina felt something as well, though the con woman was too busy making mental notes of each turn en route to the underground facility to make complete sense of feelings.

She followed. Closely. She wouldn't stop the doctor from aiding her brother, but the instant she sought to leave the area, the Scarlet Serpent would strike, ready to use her Cobra's Kiss to incapacitate the woman who had been her mentor and shelter.

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#60 Edited by Quintus_KnightfaII (74 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @ashley_knightfall:

Their subterranean exodus was subtle yet inherently aided by a sheath of rapid visual motion and militarized stealth. Fueled by the Catholicon's inevitable collapse and an uncertainty regarding the DeathHead of Darkness' true location.

Unwilling or perhaps conditioned beyond the point of verbal allowance, an emotional curtain had been pulled on the premiere of the Iron Mamba's physical expression of pain and internal injuries. Hugging his abdomen as they marched along as if secretly trying to hold his guts in. Slightly agitated that despite his physical sacrifice, here they still were. With Ashley no closer to confronting the Horned Saint and her facility on the brink.

No Caption Provided

Little was said. Little could be done. But as they entered the abandoned Underground the displaced siblings acknowledged one another with a non-verbal glance before Knightfall Saint offered up a figurative 'to be continued.' For she understood the immediate concern remained the one and only devil.

"Its okay, go stop that sonnovabitch"he gruffly struggled to state. Hoisting himself up on a lab-table seemingly out of place among the sounds of dripping cavern water and stalagmites of the cave before flashing a forced and but no-less heartfelt corner lip grin.

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#61 Posted by Hawkshade (4947 posts) - - Show Bio

𝔅𝔩𝔞𝔠𝔨 ℌ𝔬𝔲𝔰𝔢

"And I thought Kellan was the one with bad jokes You don't even believe your own words, Hawkshade. If you did, you wouldn't be so terrified of killing when it is right, when it is necessary. You wouldn't be a coward. You deal in philosophy. I deal in reality. And the reality is you're only passing through because you're the good man who does nothing. Too cowardly do anything but pass through."

The words hit Hawkshade like a club. He couldn't hide his grimace. But then Grimmwald fell and he felt his spirits lighten. Hope bloomed again.

It was short lived. Grimmwald rose and spoke with a voice that was both male and female and Hawkshade knew his brother wasn't home anymore.

"You're wrong and you're right." He rasped. "I'm not terrified of killing. I love it. It's power. Power over life and death. For a heartbeat I am a god."

Blood dripped from his chin to the floor.

"But you're right that I am a coward." His voice was quiet as he lay on the floor in the darkness. "I love it. I love the power. More than anything. And that's what I'm afraid of."

"It's like a drug. Like heroin. I've been addicted all my life. I'm clean now but once an addict, always an addict."

"I know I won't come back from the next hit."

The Blackdagger came for him.

The Son of the Shogun couldn't stand. Both his hands were broken. His mask half destroyed, his armor in tatters and his drones lay broken on the cold stone. He was outnumbered.

He fought like a god.

Explosives from his belt brought down the roof and flung blades splattered the walls with their blood. He choked the air with gas and deployed a dozen ingenious uses of his devices. Martial techniques not seen in a hundred years, learned at the feet of the Seventh Secret Master himself. Every ounce of his soul was poured into the battle and he gave not an inch. It was a hopeless battle but he never wavered.

He lost anyway.

"Kellan." He gurgled through a mouthful of blood as the Blackdagger dragged him away and the darkness swallowed him.

No Caption Provided

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#62 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @quintus_knightfaii:

She gave a gentle kiss to her brother's cheek as she began to walk away to the other side of the K-avern, hoping he would still be here upon her return. She didn't want to leave him, not like this with so many questions hanging around the Knightfall Twins. But she couldn't waste any more time, for all she knew the fight between Kellan and Richard could have been over already. Someone was either dead by now, or soon to be dead and Ashley was still underground.

No Caption Provided

Anxiety began to settle into her chest as she picked up her pace with every step until she came across an area that was filled with costumes of different designs. Some brighter than others, some lacking color entirely, some with heavy armor others with almost no armor. She stopped upon a case that was blacked out with a simple "AK" on the case itself. She pressed her thumb upon it as she then entered a series of codes on a keypad and with a light sound of a 'beep', it opened to show her own uniform. Black, white with some gold, she didn't wear it often, but it was there. She had them located in four different spots throughout the city. Her home, Halo, what was left of Catholicon, and here. Without thinking she began to change, the uniform slipping on effortlessly as she grabbed her weapons that were on both sides of the case and a medical bag that sat at the bottom of the case. She had a sinking feeling in her chest she was going to desperately need it.

All this time she knew there was one more possible obstacle before she could leave. “June,” she spoke, knowing that her apprentice would be nearby. There was a strangely unique relationship between the two. One that was built on lies from both sides. Yet... in a strange way, there was some trust, even if it was a sliver of it, it was still there. June had saved her life just moments ago, out of obligation because Ashley saved June's life all those months ago, she couldn't tell, but she saved her. But was their uncommon friendship going to be put to an end at this moment? “I know he did... things to you. I don't know if you don't want me to go out of some strange loyalty to him, or because you really do care about me, but I’m leaving. I can't stand by while he turns Gothic into a mass graveyard." She swung her medical bag over her shoulder. "You can stay here, I never told him about this place, you should both be safe till I come back. Or you can come with me, it's up to you but I'm going." With that, she began to attempt to walk out.

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#63 Posted by Assassinatrix (288 posts) - - Show Bio

@apex_predator87: @grimmwald: @the_silkworm:

She had been trained to expect the unexpected. A battle was pure chaos, and every participant added an exponential number of variables to a violent equation. All one can do in such chaos is to ensure that iron-clad control was exercised over the self, so that the unexpected could be swiftly assessed and adapted to.

That being said, seeing her improvisational ally get dragged from the fray by what seemed to be some manner of vengeful spirit was definitely at the extreme far end of "unexpected." Still, if this gave her pause, she hoped it would similarly affect their attacker, who had been focused on Apex. The flurry of fury she had unleashed against the consummate warrior was all the assassin needed to see to determine that staying out of arm's reach was unquestionably the way to maximize survivability in this encounter.

Moving almost too quickly for the eye to follow her hands whipped three of her five throwing blades at Fury in rapid succession, one at center-of-mass and the others at each leg. If any of them hit, the delayed-onset toxin they were coated in would begin to go to work, igniting tiny rivers of fire throughout the musculature. Not willing to leave this to chance, as this foe demonstrated toughness on par with her skill, she accentuated her sentence with a short-radius incendiary flung at Fury's feet.

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#64 Edited by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@faatina_knightfall: @hawkshade:


No Caption Provided

At the Horned Saint's word, a monster - Famine of the Blackdagger - climbed out the ruins of Black House to devour Faatina the Dread Pirate. The Soul Lavaliere'd sensed her, felt the fear she'd sown in Gothic's heart, and knew of the dead she'd stolen from it. For her crimes, Famine would make her pay. Around them, the Orochi fought on but their numbers dwindled, as did the Dread Pirate's army. And just as Faatina made war resources of the dead, so too would Famine. He was a monstrosity. A dark mass of inhuman muscle, dagger-like claws, thick tendrils, and a gaping maw with rows of needle-like teeth, he was more monster than Strigidae. More beast than human. And above him, the moon's glow grew more lurid as he spoke. "Hrmmm... you doin' too much sistuh'. Thinkin' toooo far'a head", Famine drooled, voice like a leper's feet trudging through mud. "I'm more of an... in the now kinda guuuy".

"Like.. hrmm... whatamIgonnaeat now", he paused, tendrils wrapping round corpse after corpse on the pavement, bladed tongue stretching out his mouth long and serpentine. "WhatamIgonnakill now", Famine stopped, his tendrils feeding on the corpses' organic matter and pouring it into his biomass till no dead lay around him. Bones stretched, body swelled, and he grew larger - stronger. Where there lay organic matter for him to consume, Famine would be strong. And as he held the Dread Pirate in his sights, and drooled at the thought of his teeth rending her flesh and his throat swallowed her whole, bladed tendrils burst out his torso and stretched through the air to wage war with the blades swirling round the Dread Pirate. His tendrils'd swing and slash, attacking here and there from the oddest of angles - but only to occupy Faatina's blades. More tendrils shot out his body, rippling as they extended low to wrap round the Dread Pirate's feet then round her body like a boa constrictor. From above, his bladed appendages threatened to butcher and chop through her torso should her swords drop low to defend her legs from the tendrils that sought to coil round them.

And if her swords kept their guard high, from below, his tendrils'd threaten to coil round her body, squeezing tighter each time she breathed, shutting off the oxygen and blood flow to vital organs like her heart and brain. The pressure'd drop in her arteries, rise in her veins, and her blood vessels'd close shut. And Famine'd squeeze and squeeze till the Dread Pirate's heart pumped no more, and her body fell limp for him to consume.

The Horned Saint/角状の聖者


The words echoed in his mind. Richard's last words to a friend the Soul Lavaliere'd shut out his own mind. It was in control now. And it was what'd heard Richard's words. Kellan was in the woes of unconsciousness. On a throne of cold rock and a room of pale light, the Horned Saint sat still, his body too weak - too damaged by Richard's attack - for the Soul Lavaliere to use. But to it's right, it had War of the Blackdagger, a behemoth of living metal. Pestilence had fallen, and both Famine and Fury waged war with enemies above ground. Still, to it's left it had the reanimated corpse of Niko San'Vun. A boon from Grimmwald's murderous spree in the Nihonto Khan. Living in the Horned Saint's skin, the Soul Lavaliere smiled, and it's unseen hand claimed the soul of War and Niko, tethered them to it's will. They would fight for it - for Grimmwald. As they'd sworn to.

A shame then, that the avenger they'd wage war for had been purged from his own mind by the very stone of power he sought. And now, his righteous cruelty'd turn into twisted madness. The Soul Lavaliere need only more time. Richard sat in his prison with the wet and foul stench of his cellmates; rotting corpses, victims of Satar's time in Gothic. But elsewhere, what remained of the Shadow Knights rallied. Ashley Knightfall, ex-lover of Grimmwald, was to come to Black House on a white horse. And waiting for her would be a monster unrecognizable.

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#65 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@quintus_knightfaii: @ashley_knightfall:

Valentina watched with alien curiosity the sentimental display between the reality-displaced siblings. Though she'd never, to her knowledge, experienced such a thing herself, she understood the genuine affection in some distant, incomplete way as a human-esque program might. She stood nearby, never more than a yard away from the doctor, but quiet to minimize her presence.

And yet, the moment would always come. They both knew it. It could only be put off for so long. Her expression vacant, Valentina watched intently as Ashley dressed, knot tightening in her chest, and as Ashley addressed the elephant in the room she took a deep breath to relieve some of the tension in her muscles.

"There's only one way you're getting there without going through me."

"You can go. I'll even take you to him. But there's only one way you're getting there without going through me." At that she hastened her step to stand in front of the Angel of Gothic. Gone was Juniper's concerned, soft-hearted naivete. Gone, too, was the timid smallness of Grimmwald's pet. Whether all that'd come before was the act, or she'd just then stepped into the role of the self-assured confederate, one way or another, her own safety was no longer her concern. One way or another, she'd taken a side.

"Tell me what you're thinking. I've seen how his idiotic brother in the bird suit tries." Her upper lip curled into a sneer as she recalled the initial Black House encounter with Hawkshade, resentment at his complete lack of concern for her well-being. If he died tonight it'd be too kind a punishment. The same resentment stirring gently but ever more fervently--that Ashley might have the slightest inkling of what Grimmwald had done to her, and still prioritize "saving" him.

"Right now I know him better than either of you. If you're going to try that same song and dancethe whining and begging, 'please come back,' 'remember who you are,' reminiscing, and debating philosophythen you're better off getting your ass kicked here right now. At least I'll be nice about it and you'll stay alive," she said with a projected confidence masking her true apprehension. "But if you're going with the intent to actually work, then you'll need what I know.

"So I ask you, just what do you intend to do now?"

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#66 Posted by Tenjin (2432 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: @hawkshade:

Tenjin’s Loft...

Several Minutes Later...

The main quarters were empty and silent, hauntingly so, only the faint sounds of the wind outside allowed realization that in this lonely loft time still reigned. A crimson streak of vile blood was revealed and hidden by the waxing and waning of the moon. Dark hardwood floors were littered by a trail of battered smoke and debris coated clothing, leading towards a large chamber with twin double doors now open. A faint red light emerged from the doorway and it flickered in random intervals like the stirring of a half dead heart now clinging to life. From this doorway, one could see the Grim Ghost’s pallid skin, battled marred by all manner of wounds now healed, as he adorned himself with armor; black as deepest night. Buckles and fasteners and latches sounded, as his incredible physique became hidden. This was unlike what he wore previously, no, this was not shinobi regalia. This was war armor, a complex vibranium and carbon nanotube monstrosity, giving him the appearance of an unnatural shade with a multitude of high tech features.

But this was not all.

In this room across the walls hung an array of weapons, guns of various size and design but who all shared the purpose of dealing wanton death. Tenjin pulled from this collection a drum feed automatic shotgun, an Auto Assault-12, and cycled the extractor several times, checking for an imperfection in the movement and found none. He repeated this action, observing the reliability of several firearms and corrected them if needed before he slung, sheathed and holstered his tools of the trade about his form...blurring lines between ninja and covert operator. Yet he was both and, in many ways, much more.

He moved still with absolute silence even in haste, as if sound feared his wrath, while making his way out into the balcony and for a split second, observed the Hell before him.

Everything was lost to carnage. Flayed skins danced in scream filled winds over blood-soaked streets, with its origins upon a throne in Black House. The King of the Damned. The Horned Saint.

Gone was Gothic..

Tenjin then sank into bleakness, beckoned inward into shadow, tendrils encasing him in ebon horror. Thus, he too, was gone...

Soon After...

Black House.

The stench of death, wet cement and the feeling of abandon greeted the Lord of Spiders as he emerged from a shadow lined wall which he himself still seemed apart of and would never leave him. His Battlemind scanned the surroundings, although he could transport himself through the umbral, if he lacked knowledge of its layout he could appear anywhere within. Examining the dark narrow corridor, registered a heat signature far down utilizing thermal imaging, he made his way slowly. A man such as Tenjin does not know fear, he was deathless, he was mighty yet even his iron resolve was tested, minutely, by the iron bars around him and perhaps memories of a time long past. He kept close to one side of the corridor, his armor absorbed photons and adjusted his radiated temperature to that of his surroundings in real time, he was a ghost. He heard what would be the Blackdagger henchmen around the corner, but his inhuman hearing allowed this and he was not within earshot of normal creatures as he gazed inside a reinforced cell, much more secure than some others about him. Curious. His eyes fluctuated a variety of unique forms of sights, until settling on night vision, as the cell was graced with but the slightest light. Behind is façade was a cold stare, viewing from a thin band upon the door, only his crimson optics would be seen from inside, like smoldering rubies.

He whispered ghoulishly “I was under the impression that this Grimmwald craved souls...I am curious what makes you so...precious, to be kept alive?” There was a not a murmur for a moment, allowing the question to set in. “Then again, you may not make it through the night, I can smell the blood...

The Grim Ghost drifted through the door, moving through the shadows like a phantom and stood before him, joining him in his personal Hell, and asked. “Make no mistake comrade, I am not your savior...tell me about the Horned Saint and his power and perhaps, I will deliver you a quick death. If you wish.

The cell became noticeably colder and the shadows twisted like serpents along the floor while Katsuro waited for a response, curious to know what manner of devil he may have made a deal with before he met him...or It, in person momentarily.

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#67 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio


It was as if she was now talking to a completely different person. Her entire demeanor changed, it was as if she had gone through a transformation. The way she stood, her back straight, shoulders back she actually appeared to be taller than Ashley had originally thought. Even her eyes, the ones that used to tell a story of a naive young woman was now that of a woman who had faced a darkness that Ashley had yet to experience herself. Then there was her voice, calculated, cold even. This was a peek of the person who Kellan almost killed… this was the woman who Ashley saved. It caught her off guard when she stood in front of her as June began explaining the situation to her and demanded some sort of explanation of a plan. ANY plan that didn’t involve ‘talking it out’.

She stood there, silent, but looking directly at June in the eyes. Ashley was never a soldier, that was her brother, she was the healer of the group. She healed the wounded and kept the chaos at home as controlled as possible. It was the same role she had here in this universe. Healer, try and keep the chaos as controlled as she can, only now she was failing on that front. She knew how to fight, she had fought before, many times, but also many years ago. Ashley was trained by her brother and also trained by Kellan, but could she fight Kellan and win? Of course not. Ashley wasn’t blind to this, she was well aware of her physical capabilities and fighting Kellan one on one was something she knew she couldn’t win. But she wouldn’t be a Knightfall if she didn’t try.

Ok then.
Ok then.

"Ok then." She took in a sharp breath and reached into her bag. Could June simply be gathering information on the Doctors plan to stop Kellan in hopes to stop her? Maybe. But she trusted June at this moment and she felt like she had to prove to June she wasn’t as hopeless as she thought she may have been. Pulling her hand out, it held one of the many vials in her bag.“This is my Limiting Enzyme Agent to Secure Hemophilia. It’s a version of tPA that I altered to basically stop the healing factor of a mutant with… well… the most impressive healing abilities I’ve ever seen. It makes the blood too thin to clot, for the mutants with healing abilities… on a normal human, it will cause internal hemorrhaging within minutes.” To show a sign of faith, she handed the vial over to June, for her own examination if she chose to.

No Caption Provided

“This right here…” she pulled out a vial of greenish yellow liquid. “Is a combination of hallucinate agents created from the mixture of 5-meo-dmt and Harmaline that I call Hallucinate Hypertensive Hemorrhaging Agent. The mixtures help induce sedation dream like hallucinations and cause the hallucinations to last for about five to ten minutes depending on the individual's ability to get rid of toxins from their body. This also causes a significant rise in blood pressure, so…. With the combination of this and that” she motioned to the other vial, she showed first. "He will bleed out more quickly." she tucked the Triple H Agent back in her back. “So I plan on getting close enough to get him to breathe in the fumes of the hallucinate and then get close enough to inject him with the blood thinner. I can make Kellan bleed out until he passes out, give him the reversal drug, drag him back here, put him into a medically induced coma and try to figure out what happened to him.” Even going over the plan she knew there was a slim chance of success.

Even with her explaining everything, it was still obvious that Ashley had mixed feelings of her own plan. If things went wrong... she could accidentally kill him. Even with her healing abilities (which she never told Kellan or anyone about), she knew there was a chance she could be killed herself if she miscalculates anything either by him or by her own agents. She knew this day was coming the moment Kellan went rouge, but it still didn't make it any easier. “June... I’m not blind, I know I can’t talk Kellan down. If his own brother couldn’t do it, I highly doubt an ex could. But I can't physically fight him either, I'm not skilled enough to fight him. This is what I could come up with.”

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#68 Edited by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@quintus_knightfaii: @ashley_knightfall:

"—reversal drug...figure out what happened to him.”

Valentina's muscles tensed. She closed her eyes and exhaled again. It was almost enough to send her over the edge. It sent her back into her mind, fighting through several retorts. Fighting the urge to plunge the scalpel into each of the good doctor's eyes. Fighting against the idea that whatever punishment the warrior behind Ashley doled out would be worth it. Whatever it was, it couldn't be worse than him.

"God damn it! Ashley!" She took a half-step forward, clinched her fists, then took two whole steps back. She damn sure wouldn't let it go without a word. "Nothing happened to him. He happened to me. To them," motioning vaguely in the direction of the other doctors and patients, "and now he is happening to this entire city. He is not a fecking victim, and very little has changed. He's the same man you were dating all those months. The only difference is that he finally got what he wanted most of all. What he's always wanted.

"And they say being a good person doesn't have to mean you're hopelessly blind, naive or stupid."

Triggering another internal bout by her own outburst, Juniper's revered image of Dr. Knightfall began to give way Valentina's Ashley. What she'd make of Ashley, Valentina was yet uncertain, but the same traits that brought about the assassin's infatuation with the woman's "purity," she began to hate, even in spite of herself.

But her plan was sufficiently brutal. That had to count for something, Valentina tried hard to convince herself. She could be brutal. She could do what was necessary. She was good, but...somewhere in there, apart from the good woman's heart, there was the intellectual capacity of a cerebral killer.

She'd passed the test. She was ready to see Grimmwald.

"Really I'd love nothing more than to sit here and hash out all the ways you've been wrong - and for so long - and as much as I'd love to bare my soul to someone who might care, I understand we're in a hurry, so we'll talk this operation on the way. If you're feeling at all trusting, I wouldn't say no to a little gear, at least for protection. But if he's staying here"—jerking her head in the Noir Rose's direction—"then you'll want someone who can ably defend you, and you'll want her to be as able as possible.

"I don't suppose you've got anything in my new size?" she shrugged, a sheepish grin plastered on her face.

And, absent the details of her own personal torture, Valentina prepared to lay out what she knew of Grimmwald's present situation while they made the trip. Of the Soul Lavaliere and how he'd dragged her along on his journey to the Black Hallows to retrieve it—omitting, however, that the Horned Sinner sold his own soul to have it. ("It requires a soul. Or...the person who had it demanded one. So he brought me along.") That obtaining the Lavaliere emboldened Grimmwald, enabling powers she could only guess at, that she'd not been told of the attack beforehand but perhaps staging it soon after her release was no coincidence.

Over the course of her explication she seemed to naturally soften and recede into herself, thousand-yard stare fixed on the floor as she began to dissociate. She told Ashley of their journey to Black House, the encounter with Hawkshade and his failed attempt to philosophise and debate Grimmwald into repentance, and of Grimmwald's last words to his brother:

"How people think, crime stats, Gothic City, heroes and so on, none of it'll matter. There'll be no evil in my new world. Only me. Only fear."

"He brought me there to kill every living person. I was to conquer it, use it as my stronghold and report back to him with information about the city. Makes sense, right? Where else could you keep an army of...anything, in this city, with no funds and no paper trail to be left, no attention, nothing, and spring an attack that nobody sees coming in one night? So that's where he's probably holed up. Probably. Like I said, he didn't tell me anything about tonight. That's why I came to see you."

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#69 Posted by Penalty (172 posts) - - Show Bio

He'd long since ceased to think.

His aberrant adrenal system was in overdrive, pumping a steady cocktail of berserker biochemicals into his brain. He now moved faster and hit harder than any mere human could ever hope to, and even the injuries that his body wasn't able to heal quickly were unable to slow him down. Veins stood out in his blazing blue eyes, and his blood-slicked limbs worked like inexorably machines, raining murderous blows on any enemy that came within reach. His clothing hung in tatters, and his flesh was a constantly shifting roadmap of wounds, as new damage quickly replaced that which was healed.

He'd been living in Gothic for...a long time, longer than he'd lived anywhere else, if you could call what he did living. He'd stick up for an innocent here, beat down a gang there, trying to do a little good and keep his own conscience from tormenting him overmuch, but he'd always sat out the major conflicts that engulfed the city. Wasn't his fight, he reasoned; it was the work of people who didn't care about the little guy, and he'd do better being around to help the city's forgotten bottom class pick up the pieces and go on surviving in the renewed urban hellscape.

This time, however, something had snapped inside of him. Maybe it simply him reaching his breaking point, maybe it was one of the terrified faces that he'd seen, in the multitude who were caught in the middle of all this: confused, powerless, and suffering. Enough was enough; whatever sick power play this was had gone too far. Without a shred of evidence, he knew what it was about; this was the demon-man Richard had him trying to locate, and that he'd spent weeks trying to shake down low-level scumbags to get a bearing on. Well, that was a moot point, now. Looked like the demon was done hiding, and he wasn't needed, anymore. Not for that.

So he just started fighting. The Orochi were far more skilled, and far better equipped than he was, to say nothing of their sheer numbers. Penalty, however, was about as difficult to kill as it was possible to be, and he shrugged off a hurricane of blades and bludgeons that would have wiped out an army. Toxins flooded his bloodstream and only fueled his fury.

As he brought down a length of rebar on the skull of the last foe standing in his immediate vicinity, his system finally started to come down, and a wave of fatigue and a crushing sense of futility washed over him. He pulled the assassin's dagger from between his ribs and tossed it aside, as though he was brushing some lint off his collar, as he looked around. For every enemy he'd brought down, there were a dozen innocent victims. A panhandler with his throat cut, the stray dog that had sat by him each day licking his face and whining piteously. A mother whose body covered that of the child she tried desperately to shield in a doomed attempt to flee.

The realization transfixed the Gothic Goon more painfully than any of the swords that had been driven through his torso in the past hour: he wasn't enough. He was all but spent, and he'd accomplished nothing. For all that he would be healthy and whole the next morning, hundreds, if not thousands, had seen their last sunrise. He choked back bile as he threw the length of rebar to the side, and started walking.

At first, he wandered without purpose, numb to the pain and death he waded through. Almost without realizing it, however, he found himself approaching a place he had very purposefully avoided: the Alaric Foundation's Metahuman Halfway House. He knew they were offering refuge here, but that wasn't why he now approached. Like anyone in Gothic, he'd heard the rumors, listened to the gossip about the kinds of things the organization hid under their veneer of social work. Now, he found himself reaching for what mere hours ago would have filled him with only disgust.

He strode right past the sentries and grabbed the security officer overseeing the flood of victims by the collar, ignoring the dozens of weapons that were now suddenly trained on him. "I know what you do here, dirtbag," he snarled in the man's surprised face, "and I want in."

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#70 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @grimmwald

She could see coming before it happened, but even then it surprised her. Her entire body became rigid you could feel the tension in the room skyrocket even before June snapped at the Doctor. She had been quiet for the most part, but now, it was as if she was tired of being silent, tired of just watching and tired of people not listening to her. She yelled at Ashley (and even called her by her first name, which had never happened until now), unleashing her frustration of the doctor not willing to accept the truth. Kellan wasn’t ‘gone’, this was him, he just wasn’t wearing the ‘muzzle’ he had before anymore.

There was pain in the Knightfalls eyes. She didn’t want to accept it, but she knew she was in denial. If she could just see him for herself, make the judgement herself. Once she saw him… she would make her final decision, but until then, she was set on her plan. She blinked though as she looked at June, she was willing to go confront Kellan with her? She asked for armor, but most of it was fitted for her brother. She thought for a moment, and got an idea. The Doctor nod her head, walking up to another case, this particular suit had a similarities to her brothers outfit only slimmer and more fitted for a young woman. This was because it was fitted for a young woman, one who hadn’t exactly taken up the challenge of wearing it… yet. “This is all I have at the moment. If you want to use it tonight, you’re more than welcome to borrow it.”

No Caption Provided

The body suit is made with several pieces of hardened plates with titanium-dipped tri-weave fibers over a more flexible water, fire and shock proof bodysuit to allow more mobility to the wearer. The gloves are made with a shape-able dense leather with a ribbing along the palm side of the fingers and metal lining shaped around the knuckles.

The belt is able to hold many smaller gadgets and tools such as;

  • Sharp, explosive, electric and blunt throwing stars

  • Zip-ties are mostly found in the belt to replace the more heavy handcuffs but there is one set of cuffs in the belt.

  • Small circular tracers can be found in the belt

  • Tranquilizer darts

  • Evidence bags

  • Grapple gun.

  • Laser torch, which is a miniature laser used as a cutting tool.

  • Lock Pick.

  • Rebreather - a small limited amount of air.

  • Smoke Pellets to provide cover

  • Stun (Flash-Bang) grenades, a grenade that emits a bright flash of light and a loud noise, used to disorient opponents.

There is a cape that comes with the suit that while in the air is able to become a personal glider. This allows the wearer to glide throughout the city from the tops of tall building and slow their fall.

Built into the cowl itself is a com-link that allows her to communicate with Ashley hands free. Also built within the cowl is a distance sound recorder that is able to pick up and record conversations 300 yards away.

On the way to the area, June began to explain her entire situation. Including something that was called a Soul Lavaliere. Everything was coming to light, everything beginning to become clearer. She should have done something the moment she knew something was wrong. But she refused to accept it. Could she have actually made a difference? It was unclear, but she could have tried and possibly avoided this war on her city.

The two stopped just outside of the old broken hospital. How fitting. He had to have known she was coming. He had to have known June would have told her the story and bring her here. Was this a trap? Was she about to die in this world again? She pulled out her phone and began texting something real quick before setting her phone back down just as quickly. She took a deep breath before letting it out slowly as she adjusted her medical bag that was hanging off her shoulders. Most of the things were there for help Richard… if he was still alive. “He’ll know you brought me here. Might be smart to keep a distance… for now. Just in case however...” She gently grasped one of June's hands and firmly placed a couple of syringes of RPG (Rapid Polymer Generation or Rapid Plugging Gel for more simpler terms) in them. "this will help to stop any bleeding from any wounds." Pulling her hands away, she then placed one upon June’s shoulder. “Thank you for telling me everything June and thank you for bringing me here. Whatever happens, know that I'm grateful for everything you've done for me.” While her voice was filled with gratitude she didn't wait for a response from June. Her eyes looked ahead as she held her head up high. There was no point in sneaking in, he knew she was coming. So she would walk in, right through the front doors of Black House.

Please... let's talk
Please... let's talk

Instantly the lobby of the once hospital smelled like rotting flesh and blood. The stench was sunken into the ground as bodies could be seen... everywhere. What was once a place of healing, was turned to a place of death and despair. Ashley's eyes scanned along the bodies, hoping that one of them wasn't Richard. Even with the experience of the War on Reality M, this site still made the Knightfall Saint's stomach quiver. Her wet footsteps echoed through the bone chilling atmosphere of death all around her. She felt it though, the feeling of someone watching her from the shadows. But she never stopped moving. Deeper and deeper she walked into the hospital, until she reached a room that was more open the rest. She couldn't see another door leading out of the room other than the one she came in. "Kellan, I know you're expecting me, please... let's talk."

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#71 Edited by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@hawkshade: @tenjin: @rosso: @ashley_knightfall:

The Horned Saint/角状の聖者

While Richard sat shackled and paralyzed in a cell foul with the wet and sour stench of the corpses lying next to him, Tenjin - a samurai and ghoul wrapped in one - taunted and preyed.

But elsewhere, the man first known as Strigidae, then Kellan, then Grimmwald - sat on a throne of grey rock. And now, he was little more than a vessel for the Soul Lavaliere glowing orange in his chest. He wore Grimmwald's dark colors and horned cowl, but the vessel of pale skin and black eyes was no brother to Richard, no lover to Ashley, nor even a torturer to Valentina and Gothic's savior, an avenger. He was a thing. An impersonal monster tainted by a power more ancient than any truly knew. So as he sat on his throne, body still weak and reeling from Richard's attack, the Horned Saint... nay... the Soul Lavaliere drove all of Black House mad with dread. It's presence haunted the air, left it cold and misty, and covered every surface with frost. It gripped the atmosphere, and choked from it all possibility of joy and cheer.

By Grimmwald's side, War stood strong and vigilant, a former Strigidae with glimmering steel in place of flesh. And hanging further back was Niko San'Vun, pallid, undead - and dangerous. On his throne, Grimmwald was quiet, his hyper-dermal senses still yet to recover. But as Ashley and Valentina drew closer, even his damaged flesh caught something subtle... that someone was there till finally, from Ashley Knightfall'd emerged first, her eyes still sapphire, and her hair still golden. Yet it was not Kellan's familiar red eyes that met her gaze, it was the Soul Lavaliere's - all black and completely alien. "Ohohohohoho oooooh this. IS. GOOD", Grimmwald mocked, his voice twisting into a hideous chorus of men and women damned to the Soul Lavaliere. "Shame. Shame, shame he's not even here to see you.. this. But - does it even matter? If it's Kellan or...", Grimmwald scoffed, "Names... souls are fond of those".

"Doesn't matter", he dismissed. "Because even if he was here, you're not reeeaaally here to talk. Unless of course, you really ARE as good as "Kellan" believes you to be and you're not here to fight the love of your life", Grimmwald - the Soul Lavaliere - taunted. "So. Do it, if you can. You're here to kill me right? To stop me? So go on, Dr. Knightfall. DO IT! Everyone's waiting on the good doctor! Gothic! Richard! JunoValentino! So come on! Do it! Do something! Right here! Sweet spot, right between the eyes!".

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#72 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall: @grimmwald:

Valentina paused, puzzled. It seemed unlikely that Ashley wouldn't know about Grimmwald's ability to track through his enhanced senses. Maybe she was still trying to protect him. Protect the information about his capabilities that she thought Valentina didn't know of. Or maybe Ashley didn't know. Or, it could've legitimately slipped her mind. The doctor wasn't a great liar, Valentina noticed long ago. But she herself would never forget. things were different, she thought, when you spend so much time being hunted. You noticed things because you had to. Forgetting something that important was impossible. Undesirable, unless you resigned yourself and reneged control over whether you lived or died.

"A nice gesture, doctor, but pointless. If he's anywhere inside that hospital he's already sensed both of us," she responded, affirming her place at Ashley's side. Unaware of the preceding confrontation which had effectively dulled Grimmwald's senses. "And besides, he won't be alone. He likes an audience when he's performing." She referred at once to the chorus of nonexistent souls she'd repeatedly hallucinated in her drug-induced stupor, and the Blackdagger loyalists with whom she shared an equally personal hatred.

Although she wore the intensity of the Scarlet Shadowrunner, and the mask of one of the Knightfall's initiated, in those halls she nearly clung to Ashley's side just as Juniper had inside the Catholicon—ever closer, even more so as the Soul Lavaliere wearing a flesh mask of Grimmwald's body (huh, ironic) made itself known. Valentina's head cocked slowly as he spoke. Already so different from the last time she'd seen him, a deformed caricature of the man who'd tormented her. It was like watching the progression of a disease which warped both body and mind in increasingly less subtle ways.

Despite the gear, she made no moves herself that might be interpreted as hostile to any party. Her eyes were fixed on the Blackdagger, War, and the unknown affiliate stolen from the San'Vun Syndicate. The woman, she wagered she could take - in her prime. But like this? Doubtful. Alongside War? Even with her equips and the doctor's, it'd be damn near impossible.

So she did the only thing available to her, and listened. People-watching, like she had countless times before. Like any other job. Observed the interpersonal dynamics of the relationship between Grimmwald--Kellan?--and Ashley. And a...Richard? The man from the Catholicon? Or Grimmwald's brother, Hawkshade. One way or another she had work to do, assuming they made it through the night.

"Whatever you're doing, I'll back your play," she leaned and whispered, fist clenched tightly around the hilt of a confiscated Orochi blade to keep from trembling.

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#73 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: @rosso:

Oh god... Kellan
Oh god... Kellan

The moment her eyes fell upon what was left of Kellan, she felt her heart sink down to the ground. “Oh god… Kellan…” was just audible. Even with the breakdown of the events from June… this… this was just… inconceivable. His eyes were as black as the death around him and his voice… it wasn’t even his own. Instead it was a mixture of voices, the voices of his victims. Flashback of what Kellan used to be, his charming smile, his warm voice, his eyes that lit up when he saw her… it was all gone. And what was left? This…. Monster.

Her eyes quickly evaluated his body. He was injured, bleeding... most likely from Richard, but where was Richard? Oh no... was he dead? Was he one of the bodies she passed by on the way to Kellan? Her eyes then looked upon the other two in the room with them. The woman with the sword, and the man with the skin of metal. She didn’t take into account that there would have been others with him. Fighting this thing was one thing, but two other individuals who’s abilities were unknown to the doctor? It was much more risky than she would have liked. But she had to put a stop to this… to all this death.

"So. Do it, if you can. You're here to kill me right? To stop me? So go on, Dr. Knightfall. DO IT! Everyone's waiting on the good doctor! Gothic! Richard! JunoValentino! So come on! Do it! Do something! Right here! Sweet spot, right between the eyes!".

The heaviness in her chest only tripled as the Strigidae taunted the doctor. Kill him? She was suppose to save lives, not take them. She took her doctors oath all those years ago. She didn’t want to cross that line. She didn’t know if she had the strength to do so. She was trying to rationalize everything. Every choice that was laid before her. If he wasn’t stopped now, would he expand out to other cities? States? Countries? There wasn’t a limit to how far this could go, to how many lives would be lost if she did NOTHING. She couldn’t do nothing. She could drug him, keep him in a medically induced coma. But could she justify keeping him as a vegetable until he died from complications from being in a coma? Was that really better? Her mind was running at a 100 miles per hour.

"Whatever you're doing, I'll back your play,"

Her thoughts screeched to a halt as she heard Junes voice. June was counting on her, her brother was counting on her... Gothic was counting on her. She didn’t say anything but give a subtle nod. She took a step forward, pulling her mask off her face revealing the tears that have been building up around her eyes. “Kellan…” she began, still making slow steps up towards the throne of the devil himself. Her heart was throbbing in her chest with pain. How could she have let this happen to him? “I’m so sorry… I love you… and I… don’t want to hurt you.” Her voice cracked, showing she was indeed in distress of the current situation. She couldn’t help it. He was her first love since her husband died. He was the one she opened herself to. He was the one she trusted the most from this reality. Her eyes then looked down upon his chest, where a golden glow of the stone that had embedded itself rested and reminded her... this was no longer the Kellan she fell in love with.

“But I’m not about to lose another home.” in one swift movement she reached for something on her belt, and slammed it forcefully on the ground as close as she could to Kellan before taking a deep breath of fresh air as she unleashed the Hallucinate Hypertensive Hemorrhaging Agent (Aka Triple H Agent) that was once used to work against Alpha Dog. It was very effective against him and she could only hope it would work against Kellan and his other two warriors. As soon as the vile left her hand, with her other hand she had already pulled out the syringe filled with The Limiting Enzyme Agent to Secure Hemophilia (aka The LEASH) and rushed forward, attempting to slam the needle and inject the chemical somewhere, anywhere into Kellan.

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#74 Posted by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @ashley_knightfall:

The Soul Lavaliere

Had the Horned Saint still his dermal senses, he'd have caught the heaviness of the good doctor's chest, the lump in her throat, and knots twisting in her gut as she stared down the blackened eyes of her lover turned monster. Instead, Grimmwald felt the subtle graze of a whisper - it was all his senses could make of Ashley's vibrations. Seconds ago, a chorus of his victim's voices flowed out Grimmwald's throat as his, but now? A dominant voice'd emerged.

"He was Kellan", Grimmwald - the Soul Lavaliere - answered, voice deep and carried by an unfeeling emptiness that lifted the hair on one's skin like dead grass in a steady wind. He wore no smirk nor grin on his pallid face, and his eyes - black as ash - met Ashley's with a quiet otherness. Like a switch, the Horned Saint'd changed. From mocking and sardonic, to this. It was a change seen less by the eyes and felt more by the skin. "But not anymore. He's gone. He sold his soul to acquire a power he didn't even understand. Typical symptom of the human condition", Grimmwald paused, motionless as the Soul Lavaliere was now firmly in control, "I suppose love is another. You love him, he loves you and Richard. In fact, before he'd lost his soul, he was going to send your friend", Grimmwald smiled, neither taunting nor sadistic - but alien - as he glanced at Valentina, "To do his work here in Gothic".

"Because he didn't want to have to lay his hands on you and Richard. Until he lost his soul of course, paving the way for me to take control. In fact, I'm affording you kindness by speaking to you myself. You wouldn't want to see what's become of your Kellan without his soul", Grimmwald smiled, the skin round the alien curl of his lips, "If you wish, I can retract that kindness and let you speak to him. But then who's the real the villain?".

"But I'm not about to lose another home"

"I suppose this body will do"

Who the villain'd be didn't matter however, as Ashley was the hero. And as all heroes do, she stared down insurmountable odds and rose to the occasion. A chemical agent, psychoactive and gaseous burst into the air, quickly claiming the minds of War and Grimmwald. Yet as War fell victim to a hallucinogenic dream of the ceiling unfolding in on itself and a three-eyed elephant lecturing him about the glory of the Roman Empire, the Horned Saint screamed - and the sound was anything but human. The Soul Lavaliere felt the chemical rush and understood what was being done, and it lashed out to leap from one mind to the only warrior who breathed no air; Niko San'Vun. A reanimated corpse, she needed no oxygen, and her eyes now glowed orange as Grimmwald collapsed unconscious on his throne, and Ashley's syringe was stabbed into his arm.

"I suppose this body will do", Niko smiled, the Soul Lavaliere's voice echoing out her mouth while the gem still glowed hot in Grimmwald's chest. Eyes set firmly on Valentina's, Niko walked towards her, the stride of legs slow and domineering, and the sway of her hips predatory. Valentina'd been tortured and malnourished, in her current condition, she'd be a step too slow. Niko'd draw close, then explode - diving under her to seize a leg, and roll to invert herself for a heel hook. And yet, Niko's heart hardly lay with the heel hook at all. Instead, her desire - rather, the Soul Lavaliere's - was simply to touch Valentina. Just a touch, to absorb her soul and leave nothing of the Crimson Assassin but a catatonic husk, existing but not truly alive. Though as Niko attacked, Grimmwald lay prone with the Soul Lavaliere glowing and exposed in his chest - in front of Ashley.

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#75 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall: @grimmwald:

Senses dulled, the Lavaliere inhabiting Grimmwald's body failed to sense Ashley's assault coming. She had no enhanced senses but Valentina sensed the breaking of the dam. Body language, voice, the small muscular tensions scarcely noticeable from afar which she'd been trained to perceive from youth. As time approached for one thing or another to give, she allowed Ashley several measures of space and prepared herself. Soon she'd need either to act in both their defense, or to strike down the doctor. There was a moment of hesitation, and then—

At first she was shocked. It seemed unreal. Not possible. The terror that'd seized Valentina's life by the throat for months, dropped in seconds by the pacifist doctor. It was bittersweet, to see him put in his place but not be the one to put him down. This is fine, the Scarlet Shadowrunner convinced herself. Concentrate on getting out safe first.

That, however, was a matter complicated by the warrior turned thrall, Niko San'Vun. Valentina had never seen her in action, before nor after her death. Still she had little faith in her ability to fight Niko on equal footing as-is. The sword in her hand felt pointless. She'd be too slow, too weak, and maybe unskilled against one trained as an actual warrior.

No Caption Provided

But the Madripoor Viper didn't play fair and she didn't intend to fight Niko on equal footing. She didn't wait for her to initiate. While the spirit-possessed Niko strode theatrically forward, Valentina sought to preempt her before she got close enough to sprint. In a single sudden move she stretched her arm and activated the Cobra's Kiss—"spitting" two nodes of highly conductive copper with the intent to embed themselves in the woman's chest, electrifying her entire body. As a corpse she may not have needed breath, but her body still functioned like normal. She still heeded the same principles of muscular function as everyone else, and the Scarlet Serpent sought to fry the circuit board entirely.

To put down the shallow corpse of a woman would be an act not only of self-preservation, but a kindness to Niko, a slap in the face of Grimmwald, and a service to Yazhun San'Vun who had once cared for Valentina.

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#76 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @grimmwald:

The second his body slumped she grasped him from under his shoulders and began to drag him out of the radius of the hallucinogenic agent, holding her breath the entire time as her lungs began to burn. When she was far enough she took in a deep breath, knelt on the ground next to Kellan as she watched as the swordswoman began to make her way towards June, unaffected by the agent. But before she could get up to help her, a golden glow caught her attention.

The Knightfall looked down to see the stone radiating a light from Kellan’s chest. This stone, it caused so many problems, took so many lives and destroyed many lives who were left behind and now… here it was before her, for her destroy… or… to take? The Knightfall Saint began to quickly weigh the pros and cons about retrieving the stone herself rather than destroying it. Maybe if she studied the stone, she could release the souls that were captured... like Kellan's. She could learn where the stone came from and if there were others like it. So many things could be learned from it. Or she could destroy it here and now and prevent the stone to ever be used again.

She quickly shrugged off the bag that was still on her back and began scrambling to grab some sterile gloves and a scalpel. Was it safe to even touch the stone? Or would it corrupt her own soul when she would touch it? Her brows pushed against one another, she couldn’t just leave it here, she had to take, remove it from Kellan and take it with her back to the K-avern, speak with her brother (who was hopefully still waiting for her) about this and figure out what to do with it. Not to mention, they still had to find Richard… dead or alive, she had to try and find him in this graveyard.

"I'm sorry, but I have to do this." she whispered to herself, gently running her hand along Kellan’s head, unsure if he could actually hear her or not. “I can’t let this go on.”. With the white gloves over her combat gloves she positioned her fingers of one hand around the stone (but never touching it) as she would begin to cut into his flesh, to try and surgically remove the stone from his body (which was bleeding more than normally thanks to her injections).

If successful, as soon as the stone was loose from his body, she grabbed a vial from her bag and slipped the gem inside before tucking into her belt with one hand while the other began to give the coagulant serum. Hopefully he hadn't lost too much already.

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#77 Posted by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @ashley_knightfall:

There, Kellan lay. Not on a throne forged from black stone, but in the arms of the woman who had once inspired all that was good in him. Yet, even as he lay there, motionless and unconscious, the Horned Saint was no hero - he was an avenger. Not a good man, but a right one. But the Soul Lavaliere - for all it's power and utility - had turned him into a monster. An impersonal abomination who fed on the souls of all instead of the damned. Above ground, Famine cannibalized the streets of Gothic, swallowing whole those who still walked the night, and growing larger from each meal. Yet in the ruins of Black House, Kellan'd been defeated, and the Soul Lavaliere was minutes from it's own demise as Ashley soaked her blades in blood and cut it out Kellan's chest.

Niko San'Vun however, had been made a puppet, and the Soul Lavaliere pulled on her strings. "Give me the redhead", the stone commanded with each tug on Niko's restless soul. Fate however, had denied it. And in the end, Niko fell to nodes that sent tides of electricity swarming through her body. A corpse's body dehydrated enough to resist the electrical surge long enough for Niko to grin and her eyes to meet Ashley's. "Pitiful... that... ahaha... you fall for the redhead's act. You don't even know her. Not really. Why does she help you... who knows... attraction perhaps? Utility? Gnnh....", Niko convulsed, body weakening and twitching as the Soul Lavaliere sent it's last desperate plea to Famine. It's command was simple; flee. Niko's eyes however, blank globes of white, never broke from Ashley's. "But you rest assured, Dr. Knightfall. She'll jump at the chance to kill that pathetic little man of yours".

"I....", Niko contorted, "I can't wait to see how that plays out. He still has no soul. It's gone. He's not yours anymore.... but you'll all be mine. Eventually... you'll live your lives and grow old, and when old age returns you to the weeds, I'll be waiting". Again Niko convulsed, and as quickly as the devastation'd come to Gothic City, it had left. Only Famine of the Blackdagger remained, a refugee of the war started by his leader. A leader he would soon return for. The Orochi however - vanished.

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#78 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

@ashley_knightfall: @grimmwald:

The lavaliere's power truly was amazing. Against all reason, against all of what conventional science dictated (at least as far as the assassin understood), Niko remained semi-active even as the nodes embedded themselves into her corpse-flesh and electrical current set the mangled form to fry. Head cocked, Valentina strode calmly forward. It was always coming to this. She functioned as though on autopilot.

"Pitiful... that... ahaha... you fall for the redhead's act. You don't even know her. Not really. Why does she help you... who knows... attraction perhaps? Utility? Gnnh....But you rest—"

It was all she'd be able to manage before Niko San'Vun's head separated from her body, rolling a short ways along the ground before it was stopped against Valentina's foot. She regarded the corpse solemnly, and decided she'd have it preserved until it could be reunited with Yazhun and the rest of the living San'Vun clan. With a flourish, the sword returned to its sheath...

And Valentina turned her attention toward Ashley. As quickly as she'd manifested, the Scarlet Viper vanished. June's eyes admired Ashley, her expression softened. "Doctor, please..." The cape hung, draped over her shoulders and wrapped around her body but one arm extended from underneath. "I was there with him. I've seen him with it. I'm sure you won't trust me, but...I think I understand it. I can restore him back into his body. Not for him, I'm sure you know. I know you'll look for a way to blame the stone for what happened but I know the truth, and I know you know as well, because you've seen me and all of Grimmwald's other victims since well before tonight ever happened.

"I'll do it for you, then you can have the stone back and do whatever you want with it, and you won't even have to see me again if you don't want. In return, all I want is a chance."

She took a few steps closer, something broke in her voice and a hint of a Southeast Asian accent glimmered within. "I don't want to be 'the bad guy' to everybody. And maybe there's no way to fix that, but I want someoneI want youto listen to me. Hear me out about everything. About our meeting, and about what he did to me. You don't have to change your mind about either of us. But if he's the hero and I'm the villain in all of this, at the very least I want you to hear my side.

"So, Ashley. Please give me the stone now."

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#79 Posted by Ashley_Knightfall (972 posts) - - Show Bio

@grimmwald: @rosso:

The Knightfall Saint begun to tend to the wound that she had inflicted on Kellan. Even as the stone spoke through his puppet, she pushed forward, continued to work. She just wanted this night to end, she wanted all of this to go away, go back to how things were. But she knew it was never going to happen. No matter how much she wanted. Kneeling in a pool of blood from her ex, Ashley pulled out gauze from her bag and pressed it firmly against his chest as the voice suddenly stopped mid-sentence. She didn’t bother to look back.

“For a stone, it very much enjoys talking.” Ashley commented, even as the words of the entity still itched in the back of her mind. What was June’s endgame? Surely she wanted more than to just take down Kellan. Surely a simple ‘thank you’ wasn’t going to suffice. But at this moment she had no reason not to trust June. She saved her life, twice, followed her into a battle they had a slim chance of winning and now… what was left? Where would their relationship go to now that Ashley was in possession of the stone?

Junes voice then broke the silence that hung around them as Ashley finished her bandaging. Ashley noticed the accent that she swore she never heard before. Was this a part of who June really was? Was she trusting the Knightfall enough to give her a small glimpse of who she was? But then she paused for a moment on what she was doing. She wanted the stone to restore Kellan? After everything that he did to her? She stood up, turning to face June. “After everything we’ve been through together, you think I don’t trust you?” Ashley stepped forward and would attempt to wrap June in a embrace of gratitude. “You didn’t just save me, you helped me save thousands of lives and stood by my side even when the outcome wasn’t a promised victory.” She would then pull away her eyes filled with tears. “I may not know your real name June, but I know that somewhere inside you, there’s good.”

She took a few steps away from her and looked down at Kellan. Was restoring him really what she wanted? Yes, she loved him, but they could never be together again. He had gone too far in order for anything to go back to the way they were. Restoring might just put the city in danger again. Was it worth it? Risking June for Kellan? Yes, she knew June’s occupation, but she was a controlled chaos, Kellan… he was an unpredictable chaos. If he was willing to go this far for what he believed in, what was to stop him from doing this again and going further? But she couldn't allow him to die either. Not because of her feelings to him, but because of her own moral code she refused to give up. She reached into her belt that held the small clear container, and inside was the yellow stone. She looked down upon it and then looked at June but held the container firmly in her hand. “June… I don’t want you to risk your life for me. You have nothing to prove to me. I’ve seen what Kellan had willingly become. He made his choices, you don’t have to do this. But... if this is something you feel you have to do for whatever reason…” she held the case out to her, the stone glowing inside. “I wont stand in your way.”

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#80 Posted by Rosso (5411 posts) - - Show Bio

“After everything we’ve been through together, you think I don’t trust you?”

I wouldn't if I were in your shoes.

Valentina opened her mouth to respond but instead found herself choking on air as a sharp gasp seemed to collide with the words in her throat. She stood frozen, arms pinned to her sides not just by the doctor's hug, but her own astonishment. Although a small gesture it was a lot to process.

Most times it was hard to tell where her father's conditioning ended and Grimmwald's began, they were so similar in both methods and ends. In the Devil's captivity she'd become disgusted with herself on virtually every level, especially physical. But even beyond that, in the entire time she'd been alive Valentina couldn't recall a single embrace - given or received - that had any genuine sentiment behind it. As it ended, she regretted fighting so hard to both process and control herself that she didn't reciprocate. Later, she would regret not letting herself cry as well. But for the moment, despite shaking at their foundations, years of conditioning held firm.

"In the future time, maybe I'll tell you," she said, tension releasing from her muscles as Ashley let her go. "But for now, I think...Juniper will do. I like her." The way you see her. In spite of me. "I'd like to keep her safe for now, give her a happy ending. Maybe...Who do you want me to be? If you want...She can be real if you want her to be."

As she set eyes on him once more Valentina's hatred for Grimmwald surged as vividly as ever. He'd taken so much, ruined her. Ruined that moment. But, oddly enough, Grimmwald had given her everything as well. Poetic, she thought with a smile. She met Ashley because of him. They played their game using Ashley as a mutual battleground because the Horned Saint was just as much predator as the Scarlet Shadowrunner. And now, his own proclivities and ambitions had effectively sealed it. Valentina knelt by Grimmwald, and through her blank expression crept the slightest hint of a smile. She was already running through the conversations they'd have when they actually met again. Assuming her gambit would succeed. It was a good game, but now, at the end of it all, I won and you lost. All that was yours...is mine.

Everything. She stood and took his final possession – the stone, gently from the doctor, nevermind the fact she had no idea how to use it yet. Revenge was sweet but the Viper wasn't even close to finished. Her expression softened and passed from the lavaliere to the Angel of Gothic. "Yes, doctor, I know. I don't have to do this, but...it's something my spirit needs. You do whatever you need to do to keep him alive, physically. There's something I need to do, someplace I need to go, to make this right."

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#81 Posted by Grimmwald (3330 posts) - - Show Bio

@rosso: @ashley_knightfall:

Grimmwald was a predator. One who feasted on the sickening crunch of bone when he snapped the limbs of criminals. One who fed on the guttural sound of vibranium steel carving through flesh as he skinned the faces of Gothic City's worst. And yet, Kellan - the man - was prey. Prey to a hunger that pulled at his heart and spirit when it wanted to feed on the lives of others. And it was what made him an avenger. The man who represents everyone on the receiving end of criminality, super-villainy - evil. The karma that draws closer to evil men after every crime they commit. He is the lack of a conscience that Gothic City - and the world - needs to vanquish evil. He is not wanted, but he is needed - necessary.

So as he lay on the cold stone of Satar's ruins, unconscious and soulless and under the eyes of the woman he loved and his chosen heir, the Horned Saint was yet finished. The ceiling trembled and dust fell. The air hung still, and the sound of a leper's feet dragging through mud echoed from above. THOOM! The ceiling broke, and through it, slithered a tendril, colossal and dark as night. Famine would not leave without Kellan and War. Wrapping his tendril round the Horned Saint and his steel brother, Famine'd drag them both through the hole in the roof, and if unimpeded - flee. He would take them back to the black walls of the Brahma Bull's temple, and be at ease. For this was no failure. As in losing everything - his life and loved ones - he had done what few could. Fixed Gothic.

So thick was the fear in it's atmosphere, that few'd dare point a gun at the defenseless or mug the outnumbered. And soon, he'd return to see the fruits of his labor... but with no soul to appreciate it, lest something change.