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    Chapter I: Nate
    Chapter II: Felix
    Chapter III: Radu
    Chapter IV: Henry
    Chapter V: Charlie
    Chapter VI: Derryl
    Last edited by Michuru81; 04-26-2016, 06:31 PM.
    Armada Status

  • #2


    June 3, 2054

    Everyone called him “Nate”. His parents had christened him Ignatius Conrad Miller, because his father had been cursed with a common moniker. The year his father had come into the world, Liam had been the most popular name for boys. Growing up, whenever Nate complained about his name, his father would say, “Well, at least you never had to sit in a class with four other kids with the same name as you.”

    Then again, Nate had never gotten to sit in a class at all.

    It wasn’t until this exact moment that Nate actually understood how his father felt. It had taken him seventeen years to fully comprehend what had possessed his father to bequeath unto him the name Ignatius. Now, as he held his son for the first time, Nate found himself overwhelmed with a desire to give his son a better life.

    The soft knocking on the wall couldn’t make him tear his eyes away from his son. “Got a name picked out?” There was no mistaking the Old Man’s voice: he was quiet, and perpetually sounded winded.

    Nate nodded. “Jude. Kubi and I wanted to… After…” He started to choke up.

    The Old Man understood. “Jude would be honored, Nate.”

    “He should have been here.”


    Nate raised Jude up and gently kissed the top of his head. He heard the Old Man’s shuffling walk as he slipped through the threshold and into the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the candles’ flames flicker as the Old Man passed. “How’s Penny doing?”

    “She’s fine,” Nate said, smirking. The Old Man was the only one who could call her that without evoking her wrath. To everyone else she was Kubichek—or Kubi to the father of her child. Nate had frequently wondered if she would consider taking his name when they got married.

    Of course, he would have to have to pop the question first.

    “She’s resting.”

    The Old Man nodded. “I remember when her meemaw gave birth to our boy—Penny’s uncle.” Without looking at him, Nate could tell the Old Man was beaming with pride as he thought back to his youngest child. It would be a bittersweet smile: the Old Man had survived his wife and all three of their children. “Weeks later, she was still wiped out.” He used the wall to guide his creaking bones to the floor, so that he could sit beside the liter his granddaughter rested on.

    Nate looked up and smiled as the Old Man reached out and lightly brushed his granddaughter’s cheek with an old and gnarled hand.

    Minutes passed by in silence. Eventually, footfalls echoing down the hall reached his ears, heralding the doctor’s return. As she entered the room, Nate found himself holding his breath. He felt guilty: if it hadn’t been for them—for Nate and Kubichek needing someone to deliver Jude—Atlanta Curie would have been on the battlefield, where she belonged. She would argue that she was happier treating the infirm and injured, but there was no denying that her abilities made her a great asset out there.

    Though didn’t look much older than Nate, Atlanta was closer to the Old Man’s age than she was the teenager’s. She was immortal: Nate had personally seen the blonde woman killed twice, and each time, she was back on her feet within minutes. She didn’t age; she didn’t get sick—as far as he knew, nothing could kill her.

    There was more to her than that, however: while she wasn’t as impervious as Connor, or as fleet of foot as Nate, or as mighty as Leo, Atlanta was stronger, faster, and tougher than the average person. She was a human wrecking ball, and she belonged on the frontlines with the rest of their family.

    “Has she woken up?” the physician asked.

    “No,” Nate said quietly, keeping his head down.

    “Hello, Atlanta,” the Old Man said. “You look well. How’s the family?”

    Nate had almost forgotten: Doctor Curie wasn’t just close to the Old Man’s age—she was his age. They’d gone to school together; they’d graduated together from the New Vindicators Academy.

    Though he’d never been there himself, his parents had often told him stories about that place: it was a school in New York—one Neo-Sapiens came from every corner of the world to attend. Other Neo-Sapiens taught them things normal kids were learning: calculus, history, British literature, Latin… but the students of the New Vindicators Academy also learned how to use their powers to protect themselves and their families.

    That was the only thing Nate could relate to: for as long as he could remember, he had been learning how to use his powers to survive.

    Atlanta smiled fondly at her ripened classmate. “They never cease to make their parents proud,” she said before kneeling down on Kubichek’s other side. The woman gently reached out and stroked the girl’s sweat-matted auburn hair. “Kubichek?” she asked. “How are you feeling, darlin’?”

    Kubichek’s eyes fluttered open and the room shook. Ordinarily, it would not have been a cause for concern: St. Deimos was perpetually under siege by the Wardens, and buildings taking heavy mortar fire were nothing new. What unsettled them all was the muted cacophony that now filled their ears: it was like a deafening whir that threatened to drown out all other sound.

    It woke Jude, and allayed the newborn’s wails.

    The Old Man mouthed something, reaching back for the wall.

    “Stay,” Nate said, reluctantly rising to his feet. He wanted to keep holding his son. He wanted to pretend for just a little while longer that there wasn’t a war being waged outside.

    Atlanta began to rise, but Nate waved her to sit back down. He handed the kneeling woman his child and nodded to her, then looked to Kubichek. He knew his words would be muffled by the strange noise, but hoped the doctor would understand him all the same: he wanted her to stay, and watch over his family.

    Kubichek started to cry as she was passed their son. Nate touched his first two fingers to his lips, and she mirrored the gesture.

    “Back in a flash.” He spit sparks as he spoke. He stretched his legs for the barest of moments before sprinting towards the door.

    Electricity trailed behind him as he ran. In such a state, the neurons in his brain fired faster than normal, giving him heightened reflexes. He needed them: at his fastest, Nate was three times faster than sound. Without his lightning-fast reflexes, he long ago would have died after colliding with one obstacle or another.

    Once he was outside, he quickly scanned his surroundings. His eyes froze on the behemoth now dominating the sky. It was like nothing he had ever seen in his life: a metal monstrosity easily capable of plunging an entire city into shadow, were it not from the legions of infernos that exploded from its stern.

    Even from such heights, the whir of countless turbines keeping it aloft filled reached his ears. This was the source of the noise—but why had they not heard its approach?

    Nate’s eyes followed several smaller shapes ejected from the juggernaut. If this was some new weapon the Wardens had prepared against them, he suspected that whatever had just been jettisoned would give him the answers he would need.

    Nate took off again—this time moving all-out. As he ran, a shockwave rippled off of his body and cut through the air, leaving behind a halo of white where he had been standing. His eyes stayed on whatever had been fired overboard, and his trajectory altered to meet it. Only a few times did he have to pause to allow for it to plummet. Only when his target had crashed did he inhale, and when he exhaled, he was standing at the edge of a smoking crater.

    Looking down in the pit, he looked down on a shuttle—a small ship big enough to carry a skeleton crew. A hatch opened on the larboard side of the vessel. Two men stepped out, looking like night and day. There was nothing to imply they were comrades of any sort: one was a short, broad-shouldered man who wore only boots, breeches, and scars; his companion’s clothes, on the other hand, looked like the uniform Nate’s parents had showed him… the uniform of the New Vindicators Academy.

    It was slightly different from the uniforms his parents had worn: though this man’s was black with a white ‘V’ slashed down over the shoulders and across the chest, it lacked sleeves; it had an oval window cut into the chest; a black cape hung from its back.

    Despite these variations, there was no denying that it marked the man as an enemy of the Wardens, which made him an ally.

    Nate waved a hand over his head as he stepped down into the crater. He shouted to the two men, but the whirring noise from their ship continued to silence his voice. Though he couldn’t call to them, they had seen him: the shirtless one—the bald man—pointed towards Nate.

    The one in the New Vindicators’ uniform began to fly towards Nate. Nate grinned at the thought of greeting an ally in this war—this war that had entered the world before Nate had—and then realized the man was not slowing down.

    Crimson flames blazed in the man’s eyes and in his hand. Those flames transformed into a whip that sped through the air and struck the ground where Nate had been standing just moments ago. He watched as the man—who he surmised must have been about his age—turned to him. With a free hand, he swept back long hair—darkest obsidian with a single stripe of white dashing through his bands—and revealed a snarling expression that well communicated his killing intent.

    In his confusion, he looked back towards the shuttle—as though this man’s cohort could help Nate make sense of what was happening. The man was gone, but movement out of the corner of his eye caused him to look up: the man was dropping out of the sky, a glowing green mace in his hands, threatening to grind Nate into the terrain.

    Nate vanished and reappeared at the other man’s back. With an electrified fist he slugged the man in the back and it felt like he was punching a brick wall. He felt the bones break in his hand. He felt his blow yield nothing. He gave a scream as he staggered back. He cradled his broken hand like he had his son barely a minute ago.

    Suddenly, Nate was overcome with despair. It was futile to fight them, he told himself. These men were too strong—too powerful. There was nothing he could do against them. They were going to kill him.

    Nate wanted to run, only to tell himself it was futile: the one with the red eyes had flown so fast—outrunning them was out of the question. If he fled, he would only lead them to the building where his family was. They would follow him. They would kill him, and then they would kill Kubichek and Jude.

    In his despair, Nate knelt down and began to sob. It was the duty of every father to give his son a better life. Accepting the execution these two offered, Nate hung his head and waited for the final blow.

    Arms coiled around Nate in a hug and he was pulled back to his feet and flung onto his back. Suddenly, he found himself looking up at a tall, emaciated man in his late forties—Merle. Quickly, Nate put it together: Merle Tremblay had come to the crater to investigate, saw the skirmish, grabbed Nate, and pulled him through one of his portals to safety.

    He could feel the despair leaving him, like an abscess oozing pus. He understood now: that despondency had been manufactured by one of those men. They were Neo-Sapiens, and one of them had the ability to instill his victims with melancholia.

    Merle took a moment to catch his breath. He opened another gateway and motioned for Nate to head through. On the other side, Nate saw a small contingent of their brethren: Connor Crete towered over the others, sitting on what had once been a Warden panzer. The brute was eight feet tall and made entirely of rock. He was quiet—he hardly said a word—but those like Atlanta claimed he had once been impossible to shut up.

    He was the only one who had noticed Nate and Merle’s arrival: the others’ eyes were on the monster darkening the sky overhead. David Jorgenson, the Mullins siblings, Nate’s aunt Kayla and her son Thomas, Leopold Fox, Sasuke Nakahara, Albert Curie, Carl Hamilton, Paul and Opal Simmons… One of them pointed excitedly, and Nate followed their hand to the ship’s underbelly. Someone was diving, and fast.

    Panic began to set in before he realized it was one of their own: Claude Gordon was in one of his tyrannosaurid forms. From his father, Claude had inherited the ability to transform into any dinosaur; from his mother, he had been blessed with unstoppable flight.

    Slamming into the ground, Claude reverted back to his natural form. He shouted something, but Nate couldn’t make him out over the roar of the turbines.

    Andrea and Ryan Mullins moved to opposite sides of the camp and raised their arms towards the heavens. Suddenly, an obsidian dome spread out over the group, and the sound of the turbines was silenced.

    Electricity sparked. Nate saw his mother’s sister, Kayla, standing with her hands held just inches apart—electricity crackling between her palms to illuminate the dome. “Tom,” she said. Her voice was hoarse. “Nate.”

    When his cousin copied the grizzled woman’s actions, Nate hurried to do the same. “What the hell is that thing, Claude?” Carl asked. Like Atlanta, Carl was someone Nate had seen cut down in battle. Like Atlanta, Carl was much older than he appeared.

    “Some sort of ship,” Claude said. “It’s not Warden-make.”

    “What happened?” Nate asked. “How did it get this close without making a sound?”

    “We were fighting the Wardens,” Carl explained, “when that thing just appeared out of nowhere. It just blinked into existence.”

    “It shot something out,” Leo said, looking to Nate. “Your brother went off to investigate.”

    Nate moved to leave, only to realize he had seen scores of those ships ejected from the main ship: there was no way of knowing for sure which one his brother had gone to intercept.

    “Transports,” Merle said. “They were carrying Neo-Sapiens. Nate got to one first—he tried to welcome them, and they responded by trying to kill him.”

    None of the others understood: in this conflict, there were only two sides: the Warders and the Neo-Sapiens. It was so strange to imagine there were Neo-Sapiens out there who were their enemies. “Maybe they were brainwashed by the Wardens?” Opal asked.

    “Maybe,” Nate said. “Their eyes glowed with flames.”

    “Nephilim,” Carl said, obviously taken aback by this news. He looked to Connor; the titan looked away sadly. “The last Nephilim was killed ages ago. It… It’s not possible.”

    “They were strong,” Nate said. “They moved so fast, and the one…” He looked down at his broken hand. “It was like punching a brick wall.”

    Albert made his way to Nate and took his hand in his. In moments, he had used his powers to restore the hand to its original state. “Where about the others?” Nate asked.

    Albert looked to Claude. “Isaac and Niels went with him to investigate the ship. A few others went to scout the shuttles.”

    “What do we do?” Opal asked.

    “Nate and Merle say these people are hostile—that’s all we need to know.” Carl looked up at the dome as though he could see the ship through it: the Mullins’ siblings’ powers allowed them to isolate everything under these domes. It was impossible to see, hear, smell, touch, or taste anything through them. “We have to assume this is the Wardens’ latest play, and it demands a response. I say we have Merle port us all up there, and we tear that thing apart from the inside.”

    “Wait,” Opal said, rounding on Nate with a confused look, “what are you doing here? Is Kubichek…? Did she…?”

    Nate smiled. “A few minutes ago. Momma and baby are fine.”

    Cheers went up under the dome; congratulations were offered; hands were shaken and backs were patted. “All right!” Carl roared, slaying the respite from today’s crisis. “You all hear that? We have something to celebrate tonight! Let’s get up there, and make sure we all make it back!”

    At Carl’s command, the dome went down. Claude took Merle and flew into the air, intending to get the man a bird’s eye view of the ship. Once he had a good landing site, he connected the camp with the deck, and the last remnants of the Neo-Sapien race charged into yet another battle for their very survival.
    Armada Status


    • #3
      Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

      Hmmm...a post apocalyptic NV story. Awesome.


      • #4
        Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

        Heh. Are we gonna see any more of the parallel versions of the 720 world? (AKA our PCs) Or what happened to them?
        Impeach the peach!

        Completed Games:
        Crinoverse - Avengers
        Crinoverse - Young Avengers
        Crinoverse - Bay City Sentinels
        Crinoverse - Time After Time
        Crinoverse - San Antonio Avengers
        Crinoverse - Honnounji Academy
        Extreme Unction


        • #5
          Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

          Be careful what you wish for. Alternate future characters can have a short lifespan ;~)
          Seems to be a Sci-Fi trope that needs to be followed.
          Seems like the main characters died every time they told that story in SG1.

          So, future is terrible, humans are attacking a neo city on a regular basis, and now we've got super advanced tech wielding Nephilim... and then the scary part: Bulwark doesn't talk.
          It's the end of the world!


          • #6
            Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada


            June 6, 2033

            Felix reacted. He wrapped his arms around Karlina and squatted down. As he sprang up, his feet left the ground. As the couple deftly dodged the shuttle that slammed into the park, he clung to her tightly—tightly, but not too tight. He knew his strength, and knew not to squeeze her with all his might, just as he knew not to evacuate her at his top speed.

            It was moments before he landed. Miles away from the city, he could hear again. She was screaming now. Karlina was terrified, and that saddened him. It wasn’t the sudden appearance of the mammoth warship that spontaneously filled the skies over Vienna that frightened her, nor was the deafening whirl of its engines the catalyst behind her fright. No, she hadn’t understood what was happening: she met the ship’s appearance with confusion. Her fear was born from the revelation that the man she’d been dating was a Neo-Sapien.

            Felix Infinity was a Neo-Sapien, who had inherited his powers from his parents: from his father, he had the gift of flight, speed, strength, and durability; from his mother, the power to grasp how something worked by merely looking at it. She called it the curse of comprehension, and it worked on people as well as things.

            It was what told Felix that, right now, his girlfriend feared him more than she did the mysterious attack they now faced.

            “You—you’re a…?”

            Felix nodded glumly. He hadn’t told her yet—he was working up to it. He’d hoped to tell her today, but doubted that he’d find the courage.

            Karlina backed away slowly, and Felix sighed. “Get to safety,” he said. “I’ve got a city to save.”

            Crouching down once more, the twenty-three-year-old rocketed back into the sky, flying towards the ship blotting the sky with its hideous visage. He could have plunged his fists out front and picked up speed. He could have rammed it. He was impervious to harm, and colliding with the ship would do more harm to it than him. Instinctively he knew, however, that such an act would help to bring the ship crashing down, destroying Vienna, and killing hundreds of thousands of people.

            No, he couldn’t bring the ship down—he had to make it leave. It had appeared suddenly, it should be able to disappear suddenly too.

            As he flew, Felix could see more shuttles like the one that had nearly squashed them. They had created massive craters where they landed, and men were climbing out, setting up equipment. Felix landed and glared at the pair of men: one was tall and lean; the other was mustachioed and muscular. At the sight of him, both men abandoned their project and charged him.

            Felix watched as the tall man summoned a sword from thin air. It wasn’t too impressive: his father could do something similar. “All Nephilim can conjure a soul-weapon,” his father had long ago told him. “Mine is a whip, but the others could be anything—a spectral sword, staff, spear… Whatever weapon most resonates with their essence is what they will call.”

            This man, however, was not a Nephilim. His eyes gave him away: missing was the tell-tale sign of flaming eyes; those same solid, heatless flames did not compose his sword, but rather solid steel swept through the air. The sword was an ornate blade with nary a nick along its edge. It looked newly forged, and led Felix to believe that it had never been used in combat.

            He would have thought the man inexperienced, were it not for his stance. The movement of his feet—the way his fingers closed around the hilt… It all served to announce that the man was an expert swordsman, and not to be taken lightly by anyone whose skin was breakable.

            Felix let the man bring the sword down over his chest. It cut his shirt, but not his flesh. Curiously, the man let go of his sword then, and the sword continued to hang in the air. As he summoned a second sword, his partner lunged for Felix.

            His body was covered in quills, like a human porcupine.

            He tried to tackle Felix—to pull him to the ground. Felix simply grabbed the man by the neck and threw him twenty meters away. He looked to the other man then—the swordsman—and regarded him the way anyone else would a fly buzzing about. He watched as the man continued to slash at him, let go of his sword, and summon another. Each sword hung in the air, moving of their own volition. He understood then: if he could summon an infinite number of animated blades, why not do it? The man’s power let him summon a sword one at a time and animate it by swinging it.

            Felix reached out and grabbed the man’s neck, then flew straight into the air. Two hundred meters above their shuttle, Felix regarded the man with a warning glare. The man responded by summoning yet another sword, and swinging it down into Felix’s arm.

            Shaking his head sadly at the man, Felix let go of the swordsman and raced him to the ground. Under him, Felix thrust his fist skyward and into the plummeting man’s spine.

            Bucking the swordsman’s corpse off his knuckles, Felix walked over to the machinery the two men were unloading. He looked it all over: metal prongs half as long as he was topped a stubby cylinder long, thick cables ran from. It was unwieldy for a weapon, and if it was a weapon, they would have used it. His eyes went to the two flat, broad handles jutting from the sides of it. They were the right size for a foot—to help in driving the devices into the earth.

            He looked at the cables—at the odd plug at the end of them—and wondered what they plugged into. There were no other instruments—no other components to be seen. He stepped onto their ship and looked around for anything they simply hadn’t had the chance to unload. The controls didn’t like that much different from any jetliner he’d flown before. He was confident that after a few seconds of sitting behind the controls, he could fly the ship better than the two men had. What he didn’t understand was the controls next to the door.

            Beside each door was a monitor screen lit up, displaying a redundant fuel gage, as well as gages for what looked to be a fleet of ships. Flying out of the city, he had seen several other ships jettisoned from the behemoth—all with the same purpose as this one, no doubt.

            Stepping outside, Felix scrutinized the hull and found a panel that he was able to pry open. Underneath was a plug that looked to fit the prongs on the cable.

            They were siphoning resources from the ground, Felix surmised. The device would be stabbed into the soil, hooked up to the ship, and something would be drawn out of the earth and stored in the ship. What, though? Why?

            His powers functioned through observation: he was confident that if he saw the process, he would have a better handle on what these invaders intended. Taking the device, he pierced the ground with it and hooked the machine up to the ship. Inside, he touched the screen and watched as a command prompts popped up in a language he cracked in no time.

            His eyes fell on one of the prompts: “BEGIN STOICHEION ABSORPTION.” Stoicheion? What was stoicheion?

            Sighing dejectedly, Felix packed the equipment back into the shuttle and closed the doors. Sitting in the pilot’s chair, his hands swept over the controls. He let the engine start up. He pulled back a level and felt the shuttle begin to lift up from the ground vertically—it was hardly a surprise, given the distinct lack of wheels on the ship, as well as the downward-facing thrusters on the stubby wings.

            While it would have been no tremendous feat for Felix to fly back to the enormous ship clouding the skies of his city, he needed to return the ship. He needed to dock it. If his hunch was correct—and they usually were—the shuttles were sent out to gather stoicheion for the larger ship.

            Immediately, he realized his error: the other scouting parties were still gathering stoicheion. By returning now, he was the only ship in the sky. He looked suspicious. He feared the hulking ship would turn any weapons it possessed on him.

            He hadn’t considered that he would also be drawing the ire of his own allies.

            The shuttle’s sensors began beeping in alarm. His eyes swam over the monitors, only to see a flashing screen alerting him to an incoming projectile. Before he could respond, the ship shook from the impact. Whatever hit him knocked him off course: Felix went into a roll. He fought with the controls; he struggled to right the jet.

            Though he would survive a crash completely unblemished, the same could not be said for the ship. He needed the ship. He needed to see how it interacted with the mothership. Desperate to save the commandeered vehicle, Felix shot out of the captain’s seat, knocked the door free from the rest of the shuttle, and flew to the jet’s underbelly.

            As he moved to stop the ship’s freefall, he caught sight of what had hit him: the leader of the Vindicators—at least the branch based in Austria. His statuesque frame was clad in the form-fitting uniform complete with the white ‘V’ cutting across his chest. A white cape flapped in the wind behind him and matched the gloves and boots he wore. His short, dark hair was flecked with grey. His piercing eyes were replaced with crimson furnaces.

            It was his father, Dominique Infinity, the hero known around the globe as Paragon.

            At the sight of him, Paragon flew towards the ship. He put his hands on the bottom hull, holding it stable while Felix returned to the captain’s seat. He started to fly, and soon, his father was sitting in the seat beside him.

            The roar of the engines from the mothership prevented them from hearing one another, and forced them to communicate non-verbally. Father gave a permissive nod; son clenched his jaw determinedly. He guided the shuttle back towards the dark beast hovering high above them. As they neared, Felix’s eyes took in the artillery dangling to the ship’s underbelly: railguns, machine guns, missile silos—the giant ship was armed to the teeth.

            Unable to hear anything above the hum of the mothership’s engines, he wondered how scouting parties were able to report back. His eyes swept across the control panel for anything that would let them communicate with the larger ship: a keyboard, keypad, straight key… If they were supposed to do something to hail the ship upon their return and failed to do so, would those armaments swivel to train themselves on the approaching ship?

            Fortune seemed to favor them: doors to a docking bay opened, and Felix easily guided the craft in. The doors closed behind them, and the hum was muted.

            “Where the hell are we?” his father asked as the ship landed.

            “Beats me,” Felix said. He rose up from the chair and made his way to the open door. Stepping down, his eyes swam over everything. The only feature in the room was a long, thick hose capped by a plug similar to the one onboard. “A ship this big must require a lot of energy,” he said. “I think these ships… They’re sent out to harvest energy, and bring it back to the mothership.”

            “What energy?” Paragon asked. “Like, they’re drilling for oil? Tapping into our electrical grid?”


            “Huh? What’s that?”

            “I’m not sure, dad. I’ve never heard of it.”

            “So, what do we do? I mean, these people attacked us, right? The pair I ran into tried to kill me.”


            His father didn’t appear to be listening to him. “Damnest thing too: one of them was Iconclast, and I stopped him fifteen—twenty years ago. He looked just like hadn’t aged a day.”

            Before Felix could mull over this new information, his ears registered a door opening at the nose of the ship. He could hear footfalls, but no voices. Someone was coming. They weren’t talking, but they weren’t trying to be stealthy either.

            The pair turned the corner and Felix’s eyes bulged in surprise at what now stood before him: they were short—a little under one-hundred and twenty centimeters—and nude. Their hairless bodies didn’t sport genitalia, navels, or nipples. They almost appeared amphibian. Indeed, their dull grey skin looked almost rubbery.

            Their limbs were long and thin, while their oval-shaped heads were large. Their mouths were thin lines, and their eyes were large, tilted, and dark pools of black.

            They looked like every image of alien life forms he had ever seen.

            “They’re real?” he said, as stunned to see them as they were them. “Aliens are real?”

            His father, however, had no sense of wonder. He simply fired jets of crimson flames from his eyes, striking the first one. The other moved to fight back, only for Paragon to conjure his soul-weapon. He moved so quickly, and lashed it around the creature’s neck. He jerked it forward and grabbed one of its arms, pinning it behind its back. “Talk!” Paragon roared. “Tell us who you are, where you came from, and what you’re doing here!”

            The alien’s mouth didn’t move, but they heard its voice all the same: “Unhand!” it said. “Will not like this! Will slaughter!”

            Paragon laughed. “You? Slaughter me? Did you see how quickly I dropped you and your buddy?”

            “Only engineer! Others will avenge!”

            Felix looked to his father in surprise. “I think I’m starting to get it,” he said. “It’s like they don’t have any use for personal pronouns. It’s almost as if-”

            “Spare me the grammar lesson, Felix,” Paragon spat. He twisted the creature’s arm and evoked a pained cry from it. “Talk, you bastard! Who are you! Where did you come from?”

            “Armada,” the creature said. Again, Felix didn’t see its lips move. He wondered if the alien was speaking telepathically. “Everywhere.”

            “Armada?” he asked. “Is that the name of your ship?”

            “Ship Elpis,” said the alien.

            “Why did you come here?” Paragon demanded. “What are you after? The stoic-con?”

            “Stoicheion, dad.” Felix knelt down so that he would be looking the alien in the eyes. “What is stoicheion?”

            “Energy. Powers Elpis.”

            “Why? What is the Elpis?”

            “Dad, I… I think this is the Elpis. I think we’re aboard the Elpis.” He saw the look of confusion on his father’s face. Dominique Infinity was a great many things: powerful, valiant, heroic… slow on the uptake… “This ship’s name is the Elpis.”

            “Then what’s the Armada?”

            Felix looked to the creature his dad was throttling. “How many ships like this do you have?” he asked. “How many ships like the Elpis are there?”

            “There is no ship like the Elpis.” It wasn’t the same telepathic response they’d come to associate with the creature: the voice came from an intercom speaker nestled in the corner of the ceiling. “The Elpis is the flagship.”

            “Who are you!?!” Paragon thundered, throwing the ccreature aside and scanning the room, looking for a camera. “Where are you!?! Show yourself, you coward!”

            “Mum called me Alfie,” he said. “Alfie Griffiths. I s’pose with a name like that you can see why I’d prefer to be called ‘Creeper’, yeah?”

            There was something melodic about the way Creeper spoke. It reminded Felix of one of his teammates: Robert Price, codenamed Dragoon, had picked up several of his father’s habits—his accent chief among them. There was no doubt in Felix’s mind that Creeper was Welsh.

            Before he could devote anymore cerebral power to the man’s accent, a door opened behind them. Felix turned and his eyes fell on a girl a year or two his senior. She was beautiful, with high cheek bones and almond-shaped eyes. Her brown hair crashed down over her shoulder in waves. She wore a clothes more appropriate for the bedroom than the battlefield; leaving little to the imagination, they showed off her athletic body.

            She strongly resembled one of his father’s teammates: she could easily pass as Shiver’s daughter.

            “Hi, boys.” She flashed them a flirtatious smile. Felix couldn’t stop himself from smiling back. His father, however, was not so easily charmed.

            Paragon launched himself at the young woman. She didn’t seem concerned by his impending onslaught: instead, she lazily raised her hand and let a torrent of cold explode from her palm. Frost formed around Paragon’s body and soon became a wall of ice encapsulating his entire body.

            “There’s lovely!” Creeper said across the intercoms.

            Feeling something on his legs, Felix kicked. He looked down to see skittering darkness climbing up his legs: legions of bugs were spreading over his knees and up his thighs. He gave a scream and frantically tried to swat them away. He hovered in the air, only to feel them dropping down from the ceiling into his arm.

            His hands began swatting at his skull and then his shoulders. He panicked as the swarm began to coat him and he screamed as he felt them climb into his ears. Howling only gave them another orifice to enter through: the bugs made their way past his lips, over his tongue, and down his throat.

            The young man started to spit. Then he vomited. He collapsed to his knees and frantically scratched at his skin. The bugs continued to swarm over him and into him. He fought for as long as he could, but soon a different sort of darkness swept over Felix Infinity.
            Armada Status


            • #7
              Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

              It's so weird to be rooting for Dominique Infinity. So very, very weird.


              • #8
                Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

                Well if one can root for Liz Lamperouge...

                Although I don't think we'll see him again, given how we've already jumped across worlds and years.

                But hey, in one universe Gwyn has a kid, so thats something.
                [I]Any sound can shake the air. My voice shakes the heart![/I]


                • #9
                  Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

                  So many characters my head spins. But that's to be expected. Can't wait for more.


                  • #10
                    Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada


                    April 23, 1995

                    Part of the national defense, public order, and national security system, the Serviciul Român de Informații—the Romanian Intelligence Service—was tasked with harvesting, evaluating, and disseminating any and all information that pertained to national security. Authorized by the High Court of Cassation and Justice, it was their mission to identify and counter threats to public order, both domestic and foreign.

                    Before joining the SRI, he and his brother had served as officers in the Romanian Armed Forces. Five years later, they were two of the agency’s most sterling agents—a reputation they no doubt owed to their experience in dealing with incidents involving Neo-Sapiens. In 1991, they successfully apprehended a killer capable of transforming himself into a living shadow. Ten months later, they saved a village from a teenage boy who lignified everyone he touched. Within a few short years, they had successfully resolved five such issues—five more than anyone else in the agency.

                    The brothers had a reputation for dealing with the unexplained. That was likely why they had received such a sensitive mission…

                    As soon as the report reached Bucharest, the brothers had been dispatched. An hour later, they landed in Alba County, where a helicopter waited to take them into the mountains. They’d been briefed on what had happened, yes, but neither was ready to accept what the poliția so easy had. Still, as they rounded Ardaşcheia Peak, they could see why anyone would be so quick to believe that aliens had invaded Transylvania.

                    “Isuse Hristoase!” the younger of the two exclaimed. Ordinarily, his big brother would have shot him a cold look for taking the Lord’s name in vain. Given the circumstances, however, he was willing to forgive the expletive. There, nestled in the Trascău Mountains was a flying saucer straight out of science fiction.

                    His eyes followed the path of destruction and he said a silent prayer that it had come down in an unpopulated area: the craft had come in fast and hard, leaving a gash through the earth and trees before colliding with a rock façade. The crag had partially collapsed, nearly burying the vessel. Were it not for the plumes of smoke rising up from it, he doubted if he would have spotted it.

                    The helicopter landed in a small clearing not far from the crash site. As he stepped off, he noticed a small smattering of onlookers. The nearby village of Arieșeni barely boasted a population in the thousands. Still, he wanted to keep the news contained, least a panic spread like wildfire throughout the commune.

                    According to the report, the people of Arieșeni were the first ones to see it: the ship had appeared in the sky, smoke trailing from it as it rocketed towards the mountains. The crash had sounded like an explosion, and though they had come to see if anyone had survived and needed help, the sight of a flying saucer left many too paralyzed with fear to come any closer.

                    He was snapped back to his senses at the sound of his own name, only to realize his little brother was introducing them to one of the local officers. “So,” Sorin asked in Romanian, “what do you make it?”

                    The officer looked at Sorin as if he’d just asked what color the sky was. “Aliens, sir.” He rolled his eyes. “The Bible doesn’t mention any little green men.” Mourning the officer’s common sense, he began to make his way up to the wreckage. “No, you mark my words: a Neo-Sapien made this.”

                    This theory seemed to baffle the officer. “What, with his power? He just conjured it up?”

                    “Some of them are super-smart,” said Sorin. “They could design an aircraft that’s light-years ahead of what the military has.”

                    Now that they were closer, he estimated that the ship was fifteen meters in diameter. He stripped off his glove and carefully touched his fingertips to the side. When he found it wasn’t hot, he put his whole hand against the hull of the ship. “Have your men found a way in?” he asked.

                    Again, the officer looked at him like he was mad. “Why would we want to?”

                    The agent bent down and examined where the ship met the earth. If there was a hatch below, there would be no accessing it here. He opened his mouth to order the man to call for a cutting torch when he decided to climb up onto the craft instead. The rock and debris made an uneven ramp up to the top, but a ramp all the same. Soon, he stepped onto the ship and almost slid off. The metal was so smooth, he barely had any traction.

                    A warning glare stifled a laugh from his brother. He got down on his stomach and tried to crawl to the center of the ship. There was a seam in the metal, as though it were meant to open there. He futilely tried to pry the door open with just his fingers, but resigned himself to calling for a crowbar. Moments later Sorin was at the top of the ramp, leaning as far as he could to try and toss his brother the bar.

                    He made the metal bite into the seam and the man gave a groan as pushed back. He pushed too hard and almost found himself sliding off the ship, only to quickly catch himself. As he struggled with the hatch, he stuck his tongue out and licked the corners of his mouth and felt the hairs of his mustache in doing so. It was a nasty habit of his that his brother gave him nothing but grief about.

                    A few more moments of careful prying and he felt the hatch shamble to life. There was hiss of air escaping and he leaned back, watching as the metal rose up. Looking at the underbelly, he was surprised to see stairs and realized that the craft must have come down upside-down.

                    “I need a light,” he called. His brother called down to the officers, who must have scrambled to get one; he didn’t have to wait nearly as long for the flashlight as he had the crowbar.

                    After a few taps against the hull of the ship, the torch came on, and the agent peered down into the saucer. It didn’t look like a long drop into it. Pinching the light between his head and his shoulder, he gripped the sides of the hatchway and lowered himself in.

                    Once he found his feet, he took the flashlight in hand once more and began to scan his surroundings. The ship’s innards were mangled. Something that looked like a hot water heater with a broken, oval-shaped window was pinched by a bent beam; it seemed the wall of the ship had begun to buckle against the load of rubble pressing against it. The flashlight passed over some chairs, what looked like a metal tray table, some sort of console rent beyond repair, and nearby the mangled corpse of…

                    The agent screamed at the sight of it. The creature was small—maybe one-hundred and twenty centimeters tall—with long, gangly limbs and dark eyes sunken into an oval shaped head. Completely nude, its skin was grey and smooth.

                    It was an alien, he realized. Aliens were real after all.

                    His screams had drawn his brother to the hatch. “What is it?” he called down. “Are you all right?”

                    “Ge-get the people out of here!” he roared. “Sorin, it’s true! It’s an alien ship!”

                    To his credit, Sorin didn’t bring his sanity into question. He knew his brother well enough to know that he wasn’t one for joking—not on the job—and he knew that he’d still been holding onto his senses when he’d descended into the saucer…

                    As Sorin hurried to clear away the onlookers, a faint cough sent shivers up his brother’s spine. The agent turned around slowly, fearing what sort of nightmare he would find behind him.

                    His eyes bulged when his flashlight found a woman—a human woman. Immediately, he recalled the stories of alien abductions—stories he had discounted as twaddle.

                    The dark-headed woman was pregnant, he realized quickly, and pinned in place by a long bar of metal shooting through her right thigh. “Please,” she pleaded with a weak and feeble voice, “help me.”

                    She spoke English, forcing him to be thankful he’d studied the language in school. “Hang on,” he told her in her native tongue. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

                    She chuckled, only to cut off in a fit of coughing. “I’m not going anywhere,” she managed.

                    The man plotted his route precariously, careful to not take a tumble in the rumble and end up needing help himself. As he reached her, he realized that she had lost her left arm just below the shoulder; a makeshift tourniquet was all that was keeping her from completely bleeding out. It was a fresh wound—no doubt received in the crash that had killed the extraterrestrials.

                    He gingerly put his hands on the metal beam and inspected where it pierced her. It was thick. If he removed it, she’d begin to rapidly lose blood. If he could get a blowtorch down here, he could cut around it…

                    Realizing she’d grown quiet, he trained the flashlight on her face, only to find her eyes closed. “Wake up!” he roared, crouching down to lightly slap her face. “Stay with me! Keep talking!”

                    Her breathing was slow and labored. He was terrified for the woman’s chances.

                    “What’s your name?” he asked.

                    She gave the man her name, and he returned the courtesy.

                    “I’m going to get you out of here. Hold on.” Turning back towards the hatch, he yelled for his brother, and returned to speaking Romanian. “I need a cutting torch down here! There’s a woman! She needs help!”

                    “Ajutor nu-l va face în timp.”

                    He was astonished to hear his native language slip through the woman’s lips. “You speak Romanian?” he asked.

                    “It’s part of my power. I’m…” She hacked. “I’m a Neo-Sapien.”

                    The man crouched in front of her. “Is that why they abducted you?”

                    She chuckled softly, careful not to laugh. It hurt to laugh. “Actually, I abducted them.”

                    For a moment, he wondered if maybe her Romanian wasn’t as good as he had first thought: it sounded as though she thought she had abducted the aliens.

                    “I took… one of their ships. I had to recalibrate the shift drive. Argus must have known… He tried to blow us out the sky before we shifted… I was just trying to get…” She started to choke and had to fight to regain control. “Trying to get home… I have to warn my son… Warn him… the Armada is coming. When they…” She trailed off into a fit of coughing. “They’ll destroy everything.”

                    “I don’t understand. Whose armada? What country?” He looked to the aliens and wondered if instead he should be asking ‘what planet?’

                    “Please,” she said, “I don’t… I’m not going to make it.” He was forced to agree with her: her breathing was getting harder. “You have to…” She closed her eyes. “Please, take my baby.”

                    The agent let the flashlight drop beside him as he took her face in his hands. “Stay with me!” he commanded. “You said you came to warn your son! Who is your son? Whose armada? When are they coming?”

                    “He… goes to school… New Vindicators…”

                    New Vindicators? He had heard of the Vindicators—the team of Neo-Sapiens based in America. He’d heard that their roster had changed recently: the Aurelius’ team had retired, and a new group was protecting the globe now. Was that what the woman had meant?

                    He shook her, demanding answers. The moment he realized she had gone—that she had given up the ghost—he sighed, and reached for his knife…

                    By the time Sorin had thrown a rope into the ship and climbed down, the sound of a baby crying was reverberating off the walls of the saucer. “A baby?” the younger brother asked. “Is that a baby…?”

                    He trailed off when his flashlight found his big brother covered in blood, holding the wailing infant. “Her name is Herta,” Radu said. Growing up in Cluj-Napoca, the Radikovich brothers had adopted the elderly woman who lived next door as their bunică. Her name was Herta Eliade. He had always imagined, if God blessed him enough to grant him children, that he would name his daughter after that saintly old woman.

                    Outside the ship, Radu tended to Herta while Sorin delved back into the ship. Alone, he put the deceased into body bags—obscuring the truth from the officers who helped haul them up. Herta’s mother’s remains were the first to be raised from the ship, followed by the trio of alien corpses Radu had spotted inside. After the fourth black bag was raised, the men signaled for Radu: his brother was calling for him.

                    Sorin ascended from the belly of the ship wearing an astonished look on his face. “There was another woman on board,” he said excitedly. “She’s unconscious, but she’s alive.”

                    Radu couldn’t take his eyes off of the child. “Take her in,” he said. “Perhaps she can help us to understand what this armada is, and how best to prepare for their prophesied attack.”
                    Armada Status


                    • #11
                      Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada


                      October 9, 1930

                      Once the sun went down, my city came alive. I’d hung my hat in a lot of apples, but Chicago… her sort of dissonant charm made me feel like we were kindred spirits. We had the aquarium, whatever the hell Max Adler had just opened—hell, we’ve got the largest building in the world over on the north side. To the untrained eye, we were a respectable burg.

                      Take a closer look, though, and you’d see the Hoovertowns; blink and you’d miss the lines of schleppers queued up outside’a the soup kitchens. About every third feller you’d brush shoulders with was a rumrunner. What’s the point of havin’ the world’s biggest department store when no one’s got the moola to buy anything?

                      No matter how you gussy it up, Chicago was dirty—just like me. When I walked into the clip-joint, I looked like everyone else. Short hair, shirt neatly tucked into my trousers, tie around my neck… I was just another macher lookin’ to part ways with his money. Hell, I hadn’t been there a minute before some b-girl started tryin’ to get me to take a swig’a somethin’ other’n dog soup. Dame doesn’t know I’m on the job…

                      Some chizzo owed Martelli for a Cadillac he’d taken off him. Now Martelli was havin’ him fitted for a Chicago overcoat—and I’m the best tailor in the business. Used to be that made men’d ask for a triggerman—now they ask for the triggerman. They ask for me, Henry Shoemaker. If my momma could see me now, God rest her soul…

                      I took a Lucky from the case I kept tucked in my coat pocket and leaned in so that she could light me. “Sorry, doll,” I said, taking a whiff of the perfume she was wearing, “but all I’m here for is the music.”

                      Just because I couldn’t get swacked didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy myself in other ways: as the brunette left in a huff, my eyes ran up legs that went on for days. By the way she was walkin’ I figure she had to know I was starin’—she put on a helluva show, and for an encore, she looked over her shoulder and threw me a wink. If I didn’t have to see this alligator ‘bout Handsome Jim, I wouldn’t mind futzin’ around with her a bit… It was gettin’ colder outside, and I had a hunch I could keep the dame plenty warm…

                      Soon as I made my way up to the band, Slick Rick rolled his eyes. “No,” he said, never takin’ his hands from the eighty-five.

                      “Why do you do this to me?” I asked, leaning against the upright. “Don’t I take care of you?”

                      “Usually, when I see you, a hoo-ha ain’t far behind. Whatever you’re involved in this time, I don’t want none of it, man.”

                      “I’m just looking for someone.”

                      “You’re always lookin’ for someone—usually someone who doesn’t want to be found.”

                      “Martelli’s pretty insistent.”

                      “Martelli ought t’learn-”

                      “Martelli doesn’t pay me to educate him.”

                      “I know what he pays you to do for him,” Slick Rick said. The jazz he was playin’ sounded a lot more like the blues then. “I don’t know how you sleep at night, brother.”

                      I gave him a shrug. “With a full belly, in a comfy bed…”

                      He didn’t say anything. He just kept playing.

                      “Are you gonna help me-”

                      His hand slipped. I wouldn’t have noticed if my sainted mother hadn’t made me learn to play. Doubtful anyone else noticed—not with nothin’ but that deafening hum fillin’ the air.

                      Something happened—hell if I know what. Half the club was screaming in wordless horror; the other half looked plain stupefied. Hell, they probably thought it was the coppers. Me, I didn’t know what it was, but I was going to find out.

                      I headed for the door as quick as I could, shovin’ the people too stupid to get out of the way. Busting out and onto the streets, I saw everybody running in a panic. My eyes went to the sky—to some sort of giant ship hovering overhead. It was huge—like something out of a funny book. At first, I thought maybe it was the Krauts… then I saw the ships whizzing around faster’n any plane I’d ever seen… and I’d seen some strange things. Hell, I was a strange thing…

                      It was a secret I’d kept my whole life. It was the reason I was such a good triggerman. I could do things that no other man could do—things that woulda landed me in a whole world’a trouble. Used to be that I’d lay awake and wonder what they’d do if they found out: would they burn me at the stake like a witch? Would they call in priests and try to exercise the demon? There wuddn’t anything natural about the sort of things I could do. That was why the only people I showed were people not long for this world.

                      One of those ships slammed into the ground up by Buzz’s. Damn thing took out the sign and blew out the front window. Buzz was a good man who worked hard for what he had—it didn’t sit well with me to see his shop trashed like that.

                      A hatch opened and out stepped two’a the queerest people I’d ever seen in my life. One of ‘em was wearin’ something—he might as well have been naked, the way his clothes clung to his body. They were black—blacker’n night—with a white arrow over his chest.

                      An arrow, or maybe a ‘V’…

                      His friend wore trousers with pouches stitched into the sides. He didn’t wear a shirt. His body was a mass of muscle. The son of a bitch looked like he could rip a man in half with his bare hands. Those green flames comin’ outta his eyes didn’t make him any less imposing either. Red flames were pouring out of his friend’s skull. Everyone who saw them started runnin’, screaming in horror.

                      Everyone but me. Like I said, I’d seen some strange things…

                      I closed my eyes. I concentrated on it. I knew where it was—just had to take hold of it. The moment I had it, I opened my eyes. The two invaders paused in their tracks. I knew why. Probably surprised ‘em to see someone just like them. Probably surprised ‘em to see blue flames blazin’ where my eyes should’a been…

                      I watched as the bald, shirtless feller closed his hand around a mace made out of the same ghostly flames cracklin’ in his skull. He jumped high into the air. I followed his movements—like an idiot—and left myself open to his partner’s attack. The one in the fruit suit shot a jet of crimson flames at me. I barely dodged it.

                      Nothing was burned or signed, but it still hurt like hell all the same. It was nothin’ I couldn’t fight through, though. Grin and bear it, I did. I curled my fingers in, leaving just my thumb and pointer extended. My other hand grabbed my wrist and helped me to steady the heater. My thumb flicked down and a thin line of blue flames sprang from my fingertip and clipped the boy in the chest.

                      His friend didn’t let me savor the sight of him dropping to a knee: the bald man crashed into the ground where I’d been crouched, smashing through the street with that mace of his. He wasn’t the only one who could make weapons though…

                      My grand-pappy had his daddy’s old saber. Hiram Shoemaker’d brought it back with him when he fought in the Civil War, and he’d left it to his eldest boy, Matthew. Pappy ended up leavin’ it to my uncle, who never took care of it. Last time I’d saw it, it was ate up with rust. I wish pappy’d left it to me. I’d have taken better care of it…

                      When I thought real hard, I could make those flames take a shape. Usually, they’d take the shape of my pappy’s war saber. I made ‘em do it now and I wasted no time in stabbin’ that bald bastard right through his stomach.

                      He was a tough one. He didn’t go down—just let out a roar. That was the only warning I had before he swung that blasted mace around and caught me in the ribs with it. I staggered to the side and went down to my hands and knees. I’m man enough to admit it hurt like hell—hurt like nothin’ I’d ever felt before.

                      THIS IS IT, TRIGGERMAN. THIS IS HOW YOU DIE.

                      I spit blood. I reached around and felt my side. I winced in pain. I tried to stand up, but the bald one must have brought that mace down between my shoulders. I collapsed to the ground. Everything was blurry.


                      I tried to roll onto my back. I only made it to my side.


                      He lifted his leg. He was going to stomp on my face. He was going to kill me.

                      HE IS GOING TO KILL YOU, UNLESS…

                      I was going to die.

                      LET ME FIGHT FOR YOU!

                      I felt so tired. I closed my eyes… and everything went… blue…

                      I woke up then and the bald man was holding my in the air—his hand was squeezing my throat.

                      Beyond him was his partner—the dark-haired kid with the crimson flames—was on his knees. His screams were being drowned by that infernal hum. He was holding a stump where his arm had been. There was a head before him—I don’t know whose.

                      There was blood everywhere…

                      The bald man brought his other hand up to my throat. He started to squeeze. I grabbed his wrists and frantically tried to get him to release me. Then I damn near scratched my throat to hell trying to dig my fingers under his. It was pointless—the bald man was stronger’n I was. Factor in how punchy I was? I didn’t have a chance in hell. This whole futzin’ fight had been a real flopperoo, but I’ll be damned the Triggerman just rolled over and died without makin’ the biggie schlepper and his queeny pal work for it…

                      I reached out and took hold of the air. I made the blue fire I controlled turn into a Chicago typewriter. I shoved the heater right in his face and I pulled the trigger. Brimstone bullets bombarded him in the face and he kept on going.

                      He swung me around and slammed me into the street. I felt dizzy. Maybe it was from the oxygen debt I owed; maybe it was how punchy he’d made me. Either way, I felt powerless as I laid on my back, gazing up at that spaceship clogging up the sky.

                      Biggie pinned me down with one hand and with the other, he grabbed a chunk of the road and raised it overhead. I watched him swing it down into my
                      Last edited by Michuru81; 10-02-2015, 06:22 AM.
                      Armada Status


                      • #12
                        Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada


                        March 27, 2011

                        Charlie Amanchukwu’s arms were around his tearful wife and his eyes were on their television. Not even half an hour ago, CSI had been interrupted by breaking news: aliens had invaded Earth.

                        A massive ship—roughly the size of an aircraft carrier—had appeared suddenly in the sky over Reedy, West Virginia. A deafening hum prevented anyone within a few miles from hearing anything. The military was scrambled. Fighter jets were met by a storm of flying saucers shooting them out of the skies.

                        There were no survivors.

                        The Vindicators arrived shortly after. Only a few of them were capable of flying. Those who tried to impede the invasion perished and hope died with them.

                        Moments later, the mothership jettisoned several smaller ships. A reporter for a local CBS affiliate took a cameraman to one of the landing sites. When they arrived, they caught sight of two men—humans, by their appearance—stabbing some sort of probe into the ground. The reporter tried to hail them, and one man launched himself into the air. The camera tried to follow his movements. There was a flash of green light and the camera dropped to the ground.

                        Cell phone footage showed Bulwark fighting in another part of the city. He was fighting a human warthog and a man made of molten metal. The video cut off before a victor was decided.

                        No one knew what was happening—there was only speculation. Convinced that this was the end, it was only upsetting Andrea. Charlie had tried to change the channel, but she stilled his hand. Granted, he didn’t need to use the remote, but he didn’t want to upset her more by outing himself.

                        A knock at the door startled Andrea. “It’s probably just the pizza,” Charlie said softly--reassuringly. He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head tenderly. “Are you going to be okay?”

                        The knocking persisted. “Make them go away,” Andrea said meekly.

                        Charlie rose up from the couch and walked into the foyer. He opened the door to find a woman standing there. She was skinny, with broad shoulders—like Andrea—and wore clothes that looked dingy and wrinkled. “Hello?” he asked, wondering what she was doing here with everything that was unfolding halfway across the country.

                        She took a deep breath and turned around slowly. He realized she wasn’t that much younger than he was. Her hands were shaking as she laid eyes on him. “Da—uh… M-Mi-Mister Amanchukwu? Charlie Amanchukwu?” she asked.

                        The man nodded slowly, obviously unsure what this was about.

                        “My name… I’m sorry to bother you. It’s… Actually, may I come in? I need to speak with you and… and your wife.”

                        “What’s this about?”

                        “You’ve seen the news? You know about the El—the ship? The ship that’s hovering over West Virginia right now?”

                        Charlie nodded.

                        “Yeah, I… Well, I’m with… I’m with FEMA. I need to talk to you and your wife about evacuation.”

                        He felt like he was about to be sick. If FEMA were evacuating them, then this was it. This was the end. The Vindicators couldn’t thwart the alien attack, and humanity was doomed.

                        “May I come in?” the woman asked again.

                        It snapped Charlie back to reality. “Sorry,” he said, stepping aside to let her in. “I was…” He didn’t know how to finish the sentence. He simply shut the door behind her and led her to the living room.

                        “Andrea?” His wife hadn’t even registered that they had company. Charlie took the seat next to her and gently put his arms around the woman, easing her away from the chaos unfolding on their television, and back into the here and now. “This woman is from FEMA. She’s here to talk to us about an evacuation.”

                        That got Andrea’s attention. “Is it aliens?” she asked. “On the news, they said it was aliens.”

                        “I’m not even sure where to begin,” the woman said, sitting down in the chair nearest the couple. “Okay, it’s… All right, the ship? The news is getting it wrong. It’s not from another planet. Not technically, anyway… It’s from Earth. Just… not this Earth. See, there are an infinite number of dimensions out there, and…” She shook her head. “None of that matters, I guess. The point is, these people? They’re from other dimensions.” She hesitated. She looked like she were trying to force her fists through her knees. “We’re from other dimensions.”

                        “‘We’re’?” Charlie asked incredulously. “You’re one of them?”


                        “I don’t understand.” Andrea was starting to cry. “You’re… you’re here to… What are you doing here?”

                        “I think you should leave,” Charlie said, pulling his wife close to comfort her.

                        “Please,” she begged, “just… I know it’s difficult, but please hear me out.”

                        “You’re upsetting my wife-”

                        The woman rose up, but she did not move to leave. “The people I came here with? The people on that ship? They don’t conquer. They… They’re going to leave your world. Soon. They’re going to leave, and when they do everything on this planet will die.” Charlie grabbed her arm and started to haul her back to the front door. “That’s how they power the ship!” she cried urgently. “They drain the energy from every living thing on the planet.”

                        “Why would-”

                        “I can get you out of here,” she said. “I can take you back to the ship, and you can leave with me. You can survive.”

                        “Why the hell would you do that?”

                        “Because you’re… You two are my parents…”

                        Neither Charlie Amanchukwu, nor his wife Andrea, knew what to say to that.

                        “My name is C.J. Amanchukwu—Charlie Amanchukwu Junior. I was born on August 18, 2012, right here in Tecumseh—eldest of three kids.”

                        “This isn’t funny,” Charlie growled. He’d never been a violent man, but this was uncharted territory. Never before had aliens invaded Earth. Never before had a woman old enough to be his sister knocked on his door, claiming to be his daughter. Today was a day for firsts… “I’d like you to leave.”

                        “Dad, you have to…” C.J. turned then and looked at the television. The volume went up, drawing her parents’ attention away from her and back to it. “I’m a Neo-Sapien, dad. I’m just like you. I can control machines with my mind.” As she began to change the channel with her mind, Andrea looked to her husband with a startled expression on her face.

                        “I was nine the first time my power manifested. Mom took us to McDonald’s, but they didn’t give us the whole order. She left the car running while she went in, and Hannah crawled into the front seat. She was playing around, and the car started backing up. We were rolling down hill, and I panicked. I stopped the car with my mind, dad. We didn’t know what happened, but you… You explained it. You said you’d been hiding your ability all that time, but you…”

                        Charlie looked to Andrea. “Baby, I’m sorry. I should have told you…”

                        Andrea sat staring up at the pair, struggling to process everything she’d heard in the last few minutes.

                        “I’m sorry, dad. I just… I need you both to believe me…”

                        “Why are you here?” he asked.

                        “I’m here to save you-”

                        “Why us!?!” he roared. “Why now!?! Why did you-”

                        “I miss you!” C.J. roared. “In my world, you’re both dead! There was a fire, and you and mom and Baker were…”

                        “Baker?” Andrea pounced on the name of C.J.’s little brother. “That was my-”

                        “-Mother’s maiden name,” said C.J. “Yeah, I know. Mom, I know this is probably a lot to process, but you have to believe me, here: I’m your daughter. I’m from an alternate dimension—a world where I lost you and dad, and now I’ve got the… I’m here. I’m standing right in front of…” She took a deep breath. “Every world we’ve gone to, I’ve scanned their internet—well, if they have it. We once ended up in the Medieval period, and… You know what? Not important. I’ve been looking for you—for versions of you that found each other… I didn’t get to be… I didn’t get my mom and dad, but you guys… Mom, think about grandma. She died a few years ago, right? You were just a little bit older than I was when you lost her. What would you do if you were in my shoes? What would you do if you could…? What if you could go to her house, knock on her door, and just…?

                        “Please, just trust me. I can’t lose you both again.”

                        “You… you’re our daughter?” Charlie cautiously asked. “From the future?”

                        “A parallel future,” C.J. answered. “Same Earth, different dimension. I know it’s a lot to take in, but please, we don’t have much time. When the Admiral gives the order to shift, this entire dimension will die. You’ll die. I’ll die. The only way to…” She stopped. Her eyes lit up like she’d just had an epiphany. “Dad, if you don’t come with me, you’ll both die here. The only way to save mom is to just come with me.”

                        Suddenly, all of the helplessness he felt filled with was melted by waves of resolution. “Grab your momma’s quilt,” he told his wife as he moved towards the far wall. He reached up and took the picture of her parents down. “We’re getting out of here.”

                        Andrea stood frozen in place. “We have to go, baby!” he snapped at her. “Now!”

                        “It’s on the foot of the bed, right?” C.J. asked. “I just hailed my ship. It’ll land outside. Get her and go, dad! Get on board that ship!”

                        As C.J. rushed towards the back of the house, Charlie grabbed Andrew’s hand and started to move. He had a million questions, but no time. Not if his supposed daughter was to be believed. The only thing that mattered was getting his wife to safety.

                        If anything, he had to admit that C.J. was true to her word: as he opened the front door, an alien ship was descending on the front lawn. Maybe that was all the proof he needed that she was telling the truth. Once her resemblance to Andrea was factored in? It was hard to be skeptical of C.J.’s story.
                        In the distance, he could hear police sirens. He knew why. Aliens had invaded West Virginia, and now the local police feared the invasion had spread to Oklahoma.

                        As the ship landed, Charlie thought ‘Open’ and watched as the gull door swung up. He shoved his blubbering wife in and looked back to the house—hoping C.J. would be quick about retrieving that quilt. The sirens were getting closer. His neighbors were peeking out their windows. A few had their cell phones raised, snapping pictures of the uncanny craft.

                        The door opened and C.J. came running out—the quilt Andrea’s mom had made was draped over her shoulder, along with Grapevine, the stuffed giraffe he’d had since he was a kid. He hadn’t told her to bring it, but she had. She knew what the second most precious thing in the world was to him. She had to be his daughter.

                        “Dad, get in!” C.J. screamed as the squad cars came barreling around the corner. She threw Grapevine into the ship before jumping in herself.

                        The cabin itself was a tight fit. C.J. must have read his mind: “There’s more room in the back,” she said as the door closed. “Plus, there’s no windows, so mom won’t-”

                        “You really are our daughter, aren’t you?” Charlie helped guide Andrea through the small doorway. It obviously wasn’t meant to be used by normal-sized people, begging the question of who the ship had been designed for.

                        “That’s what it says on my birth certificate,” C.J. said. The ship lurched to life. Charlie looked back and through the windshield. He watched as his neighborhood became smaller and smaller. “You guys might want to hold on to something back there. If the military comes after us…”

                        “The military!?! Doesn’t this thing have a—a… what do you call it? A stealth mode?”

                        “The scouting ships do. This one is a scavenger class ship. Single-seater with a big backseat. The usual protocol when we shift in is for the scouts to move out and assess threat levels. Mining ships deploy to extract stoicheion, while scavenger ships go to scrounge up some stuff.

                        “The Elpis is pretty self-sustaining,” she said. “It has a greenhouse, and the greys grow a lot of our food… but we still need to go out to get amenities like bacon, or taco seasoning, or ta- tampons…”

                        “The Elpis?”

                        “The flagship of the Armada—named after the spirit of hope—the only thing left after in the jar after Pandora unleashed all the evils on the world…”

                        “I still don’t understand what’s going on,” Charlie shouted from the hold. “Who is the Armada? Did they come here just so you could get us?”

                        “It’s… it’s complicated, dad. They’re… Okay, so there’s this world—another dimension, right? It’s like Australia: everyone used it as a penal colony. The thing is, Argus wanted to build an army and he tricked all these other dimensions into building it for him. He gave us the Elpis—all the other ships, too—and he gave us the greys to serve us.”

                        “Who is Argus?”

                        “He’s the guy—well… he’s the one who brought us all together and sent us out into the multiverse.”

                        “Us? You said this started on a penal colony. You were in prison?”

                        C.J. didn’t respond. Not for a bit. “I’d just gone to college when I got the call… Hannah’d spent the night at a friend’s house. There was a fire. You, mom, and Baker didn’t make it out. I left school to take care of Hannah, but it was hard.

                        “My powers made it easier.”

                        Charlie was glad he was in the ship’s hold: C.J. couldn’t see the horrified look on his face. When he was younger, he had considered using his powers for personal gain. It would have been easy to tell an ATM to give him money, but his conscience ultimately won out.

                        It seemed that was not something his daughter had inherited from him.

                        “Eventually, they brought me down. They said my powers made me too dangerous to put into a regular prison, so they sent me to Pandora, with the most violent of offenders. The first few months there were pretty hard, but I got through it. There were no machines on Pandora, so I… I had to…” She trailed off as the ship continued to fly through the clouds. “I was useful.”

                        “C.J., back at the house, you said that we… You said that when you leave, everything on this planet…”

                        “Stoicheion powers the shifts, dad.”

                        “You said that word before. What is it?”

                        “It’s… it’s life energy. It’s inside every living thing, and the Armada is powered by it. The mining ships go out and they… Okay, they put these prongs into the ground to establish a connection between the ship and the planet. Once the connection is online, the Elpis can shift. It instantly siphons the stoicheion out of the planet and it shifts dimensions.”

                        “So, you… you and your friends… you travel around the world—the cosmos—destroying worlds? Killing people!?! Why!?!”

                        “Because Argus… He…”

                        “He what, C.J.?”

                        “We just have to, dad!”

                        Charlie swallowed the lump in his throat. He couldn’t believe he was about to do this… “No, we don’t. Pull ov—land. Land. C.J., let us out.”

                        “Weren’t you listening, dad!?! When Admiral Chen-Lei gives the order to shift, everything left-”

                        “I heard you,” he said sorrowfully. He held his sobbing wife. He rubbed her shoulders reassuringly. “I was willing to come with you when it was self-preservation, but… I can’t be a party to this. I can’t… I can’t go with you and help you kill people!”

                        “No!” Andrea screamed. “No, we have to! We have to go with them! We can’t stay here!”

                        Charlie quietly cursed what little light made its way into the hold: he didn’t want his wife to see how disgusted he was with her at this very moment. “Andrea…” he said weakly.

                        Andrea sobbed into his chest. She clutched his shirt tight. “I don’t want to die,” she whimpered.

                        “Dad, I-”

                        “Don’t say another word, C.J.,” Charlie hissed. “Don’t. Just…” He held his wife in his arms and did his best to comfort her. “Just fly the goddamned ship.”
                        Armada Status


                        • #13
                          Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada


                          April 19, 2025

                          Boredom had set in. He knew that in a minute, he would hear the screeching of a car’s tires on pavement. Heather Schrader would scream for someone to call an ambulance. Dave Matthews—a nurse, not the musician—would dash out into the street and work to save the eleven-year-old’s life, but to no avail: Jason Edwards was going to die, and the only person who could hope to save him was Derryl Isaacson.

                          Derryl Isaacson was a Neo-Sapien, with the power to manipulate sound. It was no tremendous feat for him to eavesdrop on his father while the man was at work across town, nor was it a difficult task for the teen to emulate anyone’s voice. If he wanted peace and quiet, he need only devote the minutest of thoughts to mute all sound within a few hundred feet.

                          None of that really translated to him saving a boy who was about to step out into traffic from between two parked cars. No, to save him, Derryl wouldn’t need to draw on any of his super-powered abilities: he need only grab the youngster and pull him back.

                          At least, that was how he usually saved him. Today, however, Derryl was bored. Today, he was going to simply sit on the park bench, and drink single malt whiskey until he couldn’t any longer.

                          Obtaining the liquor was something he had used his powers for. It had taken a little planning: first, he needed to hear the manager speak; then, he only needed to learn the clerk’s name. He simply silenced the door as he slipped in, then projected the manager’s voice from the backroom, thundering, “Thomas, get your ass back here!” With no one minding the store, Derryl casually walked in, grabbed as many bottles as he could fit into his backpack, and calmly walked back out.

                          Now, he sat on a park bench, nursing one of the pilfered bottles, and debated whether or not he would save Jason tomorrow.

                          He continued to sit there, listening to his teammates scouring the city for him. They were confused as to why he wasn’t at the designated meeting place. They were puzzled as to why he wasn’t answering his phone. They wondered if something had happened to him. That made him laugh. What could happen to him? He’d died before—several times, to be honest. There was nothing this world could throw at him that would stick, thus rendering their concern as comical.

                          Given Otso’s sense of smell, it wouldn’t have been hard for him to find Derryl, but doing so without drawing attention to himself would be a challenge. Instead, he listened as they decided to split up and scour Calgary for him.

                          He took a swig. John and Jessica were way off. Otso and Montana had stumbled upon the scene of the accident. Haley and Gregaro were getting closer. They would find him any second now. He took another swig and closed his eyes.

                          “Derryl?” It was Haley’s voice. Maternal Haley, who tried so hard to be the surrogate mother he didn’t need. It was understandable, given that her son was trapped by Infinity. “Derryl, we’ve been looking all over for you!”

                          Derryl opened his eyes and saw the worried look she wore. Feeling a tinge of guilt, his eyes drifted past her to Gregaro. The thirty-something man’s hands were perpetually stuffed into that ratty trench coat; his expression was eternally one of agitation. “I’ll radio the others,” he said as Haley sat down next to Derryl.

                          “What’s this?” she asked, taking the bottle from him.

                          “I wanted to take a day off.”

                          “Derryl, sweetie…” Haley turned the bottle over, emptying it on the ground. “I understand. You’re the same age as my Eric, and I can’t even fathom him shouldering a burden this heavy… but the world’s depending on us.”

                          Derryl couldn’t help but chortle at that. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Nothing we do matters.”

                          Haley didn’t say another word. She just put an arm around him, comforting him until Gregaro was able to rally the others.

                          They called themselves the Survivors. All of them were Neo-Sapiens. Ursa was their leader. A Finnish man in his early thirties, his was the power to transform into an anthropomorphic bear. Finland practiced conscription, and sported a branch of their military devoted to SPBs. As Ursa, Otso Karell led their unit. It was experience that made the others unanimously make him their leader.

                          Haley Atwell certainly didn’t have the experience necessary to lead. Before Infinity, she was an attorney in California, albeit one with the ability to distort spatial topography. She was the one who brought them together, after finding them online, and it was her ability that allowed them to band together each and every morning.

                          Next was Gregaro Vincentsson. His power let him command the cold. Gregaro insisted he wasn’t a Vindicator, but Derryl suspected he had at least be a cop. He knew how to fight, and he was fairly keen and intuitive.

                          John and Jessica Smith were the next ones. John’s powers skewed the odds in his favor, while Jessica’s body was constantly knitting itself back together. It was creepy to see the married couple together—partly because Jessica’s powers kept her from aging. John looked to be Ursa’s age, while his bride didn’t look a day over sixteen.

                          Lastly, there was Montana Monroe. She was only a few years older that Derryl, and had the ability to pause time and cause him to have wet dreams.

                          With the exception of Jessica, they were the only people who seemed to be aware of Infinity—at least, that was what they had taken to calling the strange phenomenon that had been plaguing them for the last year. Almost a year ago, a large ship suddenly appeared in the sky above New York City. Everyone went into a panic, thinking it was an alien invasion. Around midnight, everyone lost consciousness, only to wake up on the morning of the ship’s arrival, with no memory of what had taken place.

                          For some reason, Derryl and the other survivors—save John’s wife—were the only ones aware that they reliving the same day over and over again. Vegas odds were on the alien ship being somehow responsible, but after a year of investigating, the Survivors weren’t sure how. Worse, they were no closer to undoing Infinity than they were a year ago.

                          “What happened?” Ursa asked as he jogged up.

                          “Junior got into the liquor cabinet,” grumbled Gregaro.

                          “It’s a day off,” Derryl argued. “I’ll be back to work tomorrow. Promise.”

                          “I don’t get it,” Jessica said, looking around. “What’s he talking about?”

                          Gregaro let out a groan. Typically, the first order of business was Haley picking everyone up; then they had to convince Jessica that they were reliving the same day over and over again.

                          “Honey,” John said, turning to his wife and gently taking her hands into his. “You remember the movie Groundhog Day? For some reason, we’re stuck in a loop, and only a few of us are aware of what’s going on.”

                          “You don’t know who I am,” said an apathetic Derryl, “but I know all about you: your name is Jessica Smith, you’re married to John. You’re a Neo-Sapien. Wednesday will be your birthday, and despite how you look, you’re turning thirty-four.”

                          Jessica rounded on her husband with a terrified look. “He’s not messing with you,” Derryl dryly added. The blonde looked back to the drunk teenager sitting on the park bench. “That’s what you were thinking, right? You think this is all part of some joke he’s pulling on you, but it’s not… sadly.” He reached down for his backpack and nearly threw up. Swallowing it back down, he opened the bag, revealing the other bottles he’d procured. “Anyone up for a drink? This is all much easier to deal with if you’ve had a few.”

                          “You’ve had more than a few,” Haley growled as she teleported his bag away.

                          Derryl opened his mouth to argue with her, only to have his train of consciousness derailed by the appearance of a golden circle inscribed with runes appearing on the grass a few meters from where the Survivors were gathered. “Please tell me someone else sees that.”

                          As the others followed Derryl’s outstretched hand, the glyph exploded with a flash of light.

                          For the last year, they had been reliving this day over and over. He knew that Jason Edwards was going to try to try to cross the street by running out from between two cars parked along the street. He knew that Missus Shah next door was going to have to put down Charlie, and that she would spend the afternoon on her back porch, sobbing while her husband yelled at the television. He knew that his mother was going to break a glass while doing the dishes. He knew that Australia was going to be hit by an earthquake, video of a golf club flying out of the President’s hands was going to dominate the news, and his friend Gordon was going to be excited at the news that Disney was remaking The Dark Crystal.

                          Derryl knew everything that was supposed to happen… and this woman’s appearance surprised him.

                          It was like Dennis all over again…

                          “That girl.” Once his vision had returned, he pointed to the mysterious woman checking her watch. For a moment, Derryl found himself simply ogling her. She about Montana’s age—maybe seventeen or eighteen—with dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was tall and svelte and very pretty. Undressing her with his eyes was an easy feat: under her worn-out leather jacket she wore a tight, white tank top; her jeans likewise clung to her every curve, leaving little to his imagination. “She… she shouldn’t be here,” he said, breaking loose of his reverie. “She’s not affected by Infinity.”

                          The Survivors looked to each other, helpless. “Well, only one way to resolve this.” Haley started jogging towards the woman, waving her arm in the air. “Excuse me!” she shouted. “Miss?”

                          Soon, she was out of earshot for everyone who was presently sober. Even from this distance, Derryl’s powers let him hear what they were saying. “This is going to sound weird,” the Survivor’s den mother said, “but are you aware of any distortions in time?”

                          “Depends on which distortions in time you’re talking about,” the girl said. “I’m aware of several.” She sighed. “Look, maybe we should go somewhere and talk.”

                          Derryl watched as they made their way back to the group. As they arrived, Ursa was returning from the accident. “I think we need to get moving,” he said. “I might have drawn a little attention…” He looked at the new girl. She was grinning at him. It soured Derryl’s disposition: was she into muscular, older men? “Who’s this?”

                          “New member,” Haley said. “Get ready to ‘port.”

                          That was the only warning she gave them. A moment later, their surroundings changed. Derryl was used to Haley’s powers, but he’d never experienced them drunk. He stumbled backwards while his head lurched forward. He emptied his stomach on the floor of Haley’s office, evoking an “Ewww!” from Jessica.

                          Otso helped Derryl to a chair. “Give me a moment to get something to clean that up.”

                          “Why bother?” John asked, checking his watch. “In a little more than fourteen hours, it won’t be there.”

                          “Why’s that?” asked the new girl. “What happens in fourteen hours?”

                          “Infinity,” Otso said as he left the room.

                          There was no recognition on their guest’s face. “You really don’t know about Infinity?” asked a shocked Haley.

                          “No,” the girl said, “but I’m guessing it’s probably what brought me here.” She took a deep breath before slipping off her messenger bag and dropping into the chair next to Derryl. “Maybe we should start with introductions. I’m the Drifter.”

                          “Haley.” Haley proceeded to introduce each of the Survivors, ending with Otso as he returned with a roll of paper towels, a wash cloth, and a bucket of water.
                          “Nice to meet you,” the Drifter said, “except that I’ve already met Otso Karell. He’s a bit older than I remember, but… it’s him, all right.” She saw the skeptical look on his face and smirked. “How’s Beatrice doing?”

                          Everyone looked at the Finn. He had frequently spoken about his wife. She had taken their young daughter to visit her parents in France. It had been two days since they’d seen him, and months since he’d seen them. Haley had taken him to them, but it was hard to explain how and why he had suddenly appeared there. Derryl knew it was wearing on him to have been apart this long...

                          “Okay, like I said: I’m the Drifter and I’m not from around here. I come from an alternate timeline. I have this device—the Astrolabe.” She touched the amulet she wore around her neck. “It has the power to travel through both time and space. I have the sinking suspicion that it’s sentient. Sometimes, it just… takes me somewhere—usually where it thinks I’m needed.

                          “You said that your… tipsy friend here saw me? I think he probably saw me land in this dimension. I only arrived in your dimension a few seconds before you came up to me.” She made a face. “Leave it to the Astrolabe to drop me off right in front of the right people.”

                          No one knew what to say. After looking at each other helplessly, John took the initiative: “Have you ever seen Groundhog Day?” he asked.

                          “About a year ago,” offered Otso, scrubbing at the carpet with the wet rag, “an alien ship showed up in the sky over New York City. At the time, I was in Finland. I’d woken up early. I was working out when it came across the news: it was an invasion. Communication went down shortly thereafter. I headed for the office. Finnish military has a branch of SPBs. There was talk of us heading over to assist. Before we could be deployed, I was in my office, it was the day before, and no one knew a thing about the ship.

                          “I spent the day and the night trying to find out about it. They thought I’d gone insane. I was drugged, interrogated, and while I was out… the ship arrived in the sky over New York City again. A few hours later, I was back in my office… Once midnight hits New York? I’ll be right back in my office. We’ll all go back to being where we were this morning.”

                          “It’s like that for each of us,” Haley explained.

                          “Well, except for Jessica,” John sheepishly added.

                          “I wake up in bed with my husband each morning,” Haley continued. “My son is in his room. Neither have any idea that time is looping like this. They don’t ever remember the ship’s arrival… nothing.

                          “I thought I was going insane, until I took to the internet. I started looking for an explanation. I mean, I’m a Neo-Sapien. I can do amazing things. Who’s to say that this isn’t somehow the work of another Neo-Sapien, you know? My search turned up a post from Montana. A few weeks later, we found John and Jessica. Derryl came along shortly thereafter. Little by little, our group came together.”

                          “Time is broken,” Gregaro explained, “and we’re pretty sure that ship’s the cause of it. We stormed it a couple of times. The first time…” He trailed off, shaking his head in disbelief.

                          “What?” the Drifter asked. “What did you see?”

                          Derryl held his hands up as if holding an imaginary ball. “Aliens,” he said dryly.

                          “Little grey men,” John explained. “It was like a bad sci-fi movie up there: these little dudes were everywhere and they… they started taking us down, one-by-one.”

                          “I died,” Otso said, “and then I woke up, sitting at my desk, in my office.”

                          “We tried another raid,” Gregaro explained, “but achieved a pretty similar outcome. The first time, we were pretty surprised that they were aliens, but the second time? They just overwhelmed us with numbers. We were wiped out again, and again, and again—every time we tried taking the fight to them, we lost. There’s just… too many of those things.”

                          “Each time we go up, I see more of the ship,” Haley said. “If I can picture a place, I can teleport us to it. We’ve been able to scout a lot of the ship, and… about a week ago, we found a room. There were these two people talking.

                          “There was this Asian man—Chinese, I think.” Haley’s face scrunched up as she tried to recall everything she could about him. “He was very muscular and broad shouldered. It… It looked like he cut his own hair. It was very uneven and rough.

                          “The other one wasn’t really in the room with him. He was just a voice coming out a speaker. The muscular man called him Argus, and the voice called the other one Admiral Chin, or something.”

                          “Admiral Chen-Lei,” said the Drifter.

                          “Yeah,” Haley said uneasily, “that sounds… How did you know?”

                          “I’ve…” The Drifter sighed. “I’ve met him. Well, years ago. Years for him, a few months back for me. It’s… Okay, so, a few months ago, the Astrolabe dropped me off in this universe—Oubliette-666, right? Or, Pandora, as it’s more widely known. Pandora is a dimension completely untouched by sentient life. A few dimensions all got bamboozled by that Argus guy you heard Chen-Lei talking to. He sold them on it as some sort of… humane alternative to execution. ‘You can’t hope to contain these people in a regular prison, but in mine, they can never plague your world again.’ I imagine it must have looked great on paper, but then…” She sighed and shook her head. “A few worlds took him up on it, right? They send the worst of the worst there. What they didn’t know was he had this ship—the Elpis—the ship that’s going to appear in the sky over New York City tonight, and that this ship can traverse space and time.

                          “They call themselves the Armada. They’re a collective of villains from multiple dimensions, and wherever they go, universes crumble. In order to power their ship, they absorb the energy of every living thing on the planet. They jump, and everything dies.

                          “I think… I think that their arrival broke time. When they jumped, everything died… but everything also reset to the morning of their arrival.”

                          “So, how do we stop it?” Gregaro asked.

                          “Stop what? Infinity or the Armada?”

                          “Both,” Haley said as Otso said, “Either.”

                          “If you stop Infinity, you’ll die. I’m sorry, but… that’s just how it is. Every living thing died on your world a year ago, and the temporal fracturing is all that’s keeping you alive.”

                          “Then how do we stop the Armada?” asked Gregaro.

                          “You don’t,” the Drifter said. She reached into the messenger bag slung across her chest and pulled out a Moleskin notebook. “I’ve got the full record of every criminal Oubliette-137 ever sentenced to Pandora, and the names of a few of the others… As near as I can tell, the Armada’s full force is around one-hundred and thirty-something strong. That’s also not counting the greys—the aliens your group keeps running into.

                          “I don’t think you can take down the Armada… but I think you might be able to take down the Elpis.

                          “The Astrolabe brought me here—today. Not yesterday, or seven months ago, or two years down the road, but today. Something is going to go down differently this time, and the Astrolabe needed to bring me here for it.

                          “How long do we have until it appears?”

                          Haley checked her wrist. “Thirteen hours,” she said.

                          “Then we need to plan. Have you guys got some schematics for the ship’s layout?”

                          They did not, and Haley was forced to begin sketching out what she could remember. She sketched out the ship’s layout on copy paper and taped together ends when she was satisfied with the layout. “One time, we fled down this hall and we darted into this room… It was like a green house,” the woman said, sketching out a large room. “There were aliens in there, growing crops… It was so… surreal. Gregaro decided to kill their crop with frost.”

                          Gregaro shrugged. “They need to eat, right?”

                          “We tried to tell him that it wouldn’t matter once we hit midnight, but…” Montana shook her head. “He did it anyway.”

                          Haley continued to sketch out what she could remember and the others chimed in when they remembered something she’d forgotten: Otso pointed out the weird wall with a door to nowhere and the Drifter’s brow scrunched up as she tried to rationalize it; John tried to recall where the brig had been—where two women were being held; Otso interrupted Gregaro’s description of the ship’s engine room to tell the Drifter about the vault where they found the alien pods suspended from the ceiling.

                          “Can I have this?” the Drifter asked, looking over the pile of paper. Before anyone could answer her, she reached for the tape.

                          “Weren’t you listening, you dingy broad?” Gregaro glared at her from under the brim of his fedora. “Once midnight hits, everything will reset. Those plans will be erased.”

                          That didn’t stop the girl from taping each sheet of paper together to make a large, poster-sized schematic. “Like I said, the Astrolabe is sentient. It likes to take me where we’re needed, and I think we needed to meet you guys. If I take you to another world-”

                          “Whoa, what?” asked Montana. “Another world?”

                          “Yeah, another dimension. I’ve got friends over in 137, or 88,153, or…”

                          “Why would we leave?” asked Otso. “This is our home. My… my wife and daughter are here.”

                          “My husband and my son,” said Haley.

                          “My parents,” said Montana.

                          John gave Jessica’s hand a squeeze while Gregaro scoffed. “I might not have anyone waitin’ for me, but that doesn’t change that I ain’t gonna put my tail between my legs.”

                          “You guys,” pleaded the Drifter, “if you stay, they’ll-”

                          “We’ve died hundreds of times,” said Haley. “We’ll wake up, and start all over.”

                          “But how long will Infinity last? Listen, there’s this… this thing… called a causality loop.

                          “Normally, when someone manages to travel through time, they can’t really evoke any sort of change in their own timeline. They create a divergent path: there’s the universe that they remember, and then there’s the one they create by changing things. The Astrolabe generates a sort of… field around me and those I travel with. We can alter the course of things without forming a new timeline.

                          “The Elpis has something similar around it. When they arrive in a universe, they don’t create two separate dimensions—one where they arrived and one where they did not.

                          “For whatever reason, you all have something just like me and the Armada. You’re anchored temporally here. Time is moving around you.

                          “What I’m getting at is… in all of your encounters with the Armada, did they ever seem to recognize you? Not other iterations of you they may have met in other dimensions, but you specifically? Because I’d wager that they know that they’re stuck in Infinity, too, and it’s only a matter of time before they figure out a way to break out. If they do… you won’t wake up from that. You need to come with-”

                          “I am not leaving my family!” roared Otso. Standing there, he had started to transform: the hair on his arms was thicker; his teeth were sharper; his muscle mass had increased. He’d begun to turn into a bear-man, but stopped himself mid-way through the process.

                          With a few calming breaths, Otso reverted back to his natural form. “I’m sorry,” he said, to their guest and his teammates. “I shouldn’t have-”


                          Everyone looked to Montana, who was eyeing the muted television with a panic-stricken expression. “That’s them,” the Drifter said, watching the breaking news about the Elpis’ arrival over New York.

                          “They’re early,” Gregaro said, looking to clock on the wall.

                          The color had drained from the Survivor’s faces.

                          “They’ve done it,” the Drifter said. “They broke free from Infinity. This is why the Astrolabe brought me here now: this is your last chance-”

                          Otso was shaking his head. “I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I’d left my family to die here.”

                          “I could go get them,” Haley said. “I’ll get Eric and Bruce.”

                          As she teleported away with Otso, the Drifter reached out and grabbed the schematics. As soon as she shoved them into her satchel, glyphs began to appear under her. “No!” she cried out, grabbing the bauble from her neck and shaking it frantically. “No, no, no, no! No! Wait for them, you stupid…” She looked up at the others with tear-filled eyes. “I’m sorry!”

                          Derryl had only a second to react. He rushed forward and lunged to tackle the girl as the room and his friends faded from sight.


                          June 29, 2025

                          “I’m sorry,” the Drifter said when she had finished explaining all they’d been through. “I know that this is a lot to take in, but…”

                          “I don’t understand,” said Tyler Isaacson. “Why didn’t your… your thing there… bring the others?”

                          “I suspect I wasn’t taken there to save them,” the Drifter said sadly, “but rather to get the intelligence they’d gathered on the Armada.” She touched at her satchel—where Haley’s schematics of the Elpis were contained. “Your son-”

                          “Derryl,” the elder Isaacson said, correcting her.

                          “Derryl jumped through at the last second and made the Astrolabe take him. It’s been two days though, and it hasn’t let me leave. I don’t think it wants him to come with me… wherever it plans to send me next.”

                          “Sorry,” Derryl said, looking across the table, “but this was the only place I could think to go.”

                          Tyler Isaacson looked to his wife; Tiffany was trying to hold back the tears. Derryl looked away from her. It was a painful reminder that he had so easily done what Otso and Haley refused to do: he had abandoned his family to die at the Armada’s hands.

                          The guilt he felt wouldn’t let him look either of his parents in the eye. There was only one person he could face…

                          “So, what’s the deal with the marks on your arms?” asked this universe’s Derryl Isaacson.

                          “If I wake up with them,” Derryl said, “I know Infinity hasn’t happened here. I know we’re still safe from the Armada.”

                          This world’s Derryl Isaacson—the one who belonged here—swallowed hard. “So, I’m… I’m going to be a Neo-Sapien? Like mom?”

                          Derryl looked confused. For the briefest of moments, he looked to his parents for an explanation, only to remember they weren’t his parents. His parents were dead now.

                          “Our Derryl hasn’t manifested yet,” Tiffany said. “When did you-?”

                          “Three years ago,” Derryl said, keeping his eyes on the table.

                          “Well, that’s what we have to do then,” Tyler said. “This Derryl is a Neo-Sapien; ours is not. That school you went to, Tiff?”

                          “We can’t send him to Tokyo!”

                          “The one in America, then. We’ll… we’ll just… Christ, how do you even know who to call?”

                          “I’ll take care of it,” Tiffany said. She reached across the table and took Derryl’s hand. “You’re about the same age as our Derryl, right? You’d just be getting ready to start high school…”

                          Derryl nodded glumly and forced himself to not look up at his not-mother. It wasn’t such a bad fate: certainly better than living with people who looked like his parents—having to endure living under the same roof with himself.

                          “Sounds good,” he said quietly.

                          With Derryl’s fate decided, the Astrolabe took the Drifter on yet another adventure; Tyler and Tiffany Isaacson left to make the arrangements to enroll their doppelgangers’ son in the New Vindicators Academy; and Derryl was left alone with himself.

                          “So, these… Armada guys?”

                          Derryl looked up at his other self.

                          “You really think they’ll come here?”

                          Derryl shrugged. “I don’t know.”

                          “What… what do we do if they show up?”

                          Derryl sighed and looked down at the symbols he’d taken to drawing on his arms. “I’m working on it…”
                          Armada Status


                          • #14
                            Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

                            So that's what you've been working on ;}

                            That was a good chapter. I feel a little less confused now


                            • #15
                              Re: NEW VINDICATORS: Armada

                              Originally posted by Shock View Post
                              So that's what you've been working on ;}

                              That was a good chapter. I feel a little less confused now
                              Aye. Unfortunately, I'd been working on it for about a year... [sighs] I'm trying to get my head back into the writing game. I need to find a better way to budget my time.

                              As for the chapter... Derryl's origin was something his player and I actually kept secret from the others at the table. There reaches a point in Tabula Rasa where that dimension's Derryl Isaacson is enrolled at the school, and the other players were very confused. "So, you're twins... but you're both named Derryl?" Some of the players started quoting Newhart--tons of fun.

                              So, the player came up with the idea of Infinity--that time broke in his universe and after going through a Groundhog Day sort of situation, he was evacuated to 731, where he was trying to live his life, but also terrified that it could happen there. Initially, I considered Infinity being caused by Montana. The idea was going to be that her temporal powers wigged out on her, fractured time, and created the situation. That was scrapped as I started to play with the Armada, and realized this was a cool way to tie everything in together.
                              Armada Status