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Thread: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #25: Jeopardy!

  1. #3421
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    THE ELPIS
    “Now arriving on Oubliette-333.”

    She had heard the announcement two-hundred and fifty-four times now. It was happening erratically. Sometimes it was two hours and sometimes it was four. Other times, it was a few minutes, and sometimes it felt like a full day had gone by.

    Ever since the ship began looping repeatedly to this dimension, it was becoming nigh-impossible to tell how much time had passed in the brig. She estimated it had been weeks since this began—maybe a month, going by her pregnancy.

    Whatever was happening, it had taken Jeanette’s full attention: since their first arrival in Oubliette-333, she had not seen the woman. Given that Jeanette never missed an opportunity to remind Tabitha of her intentions to steal the baby, she was almost grateful for the reprieve, but now she wanted answers. Had Jeanette’s experiments brought about the end of the Elpis’ voyage of destruction? Did these announcements mean that her home world was now spared the fate countless worlds had suffered?

    It was when the ship announced their arrival on Oubliette-333 for the three-hundredth and eighty-sixth time that someone descended into her cell—phasing through the ceiling. At first, she suspected it was Jeanette—come to demand Tabitha offer her aide in stopping this madness. If the ship were truly trapped in this dimension, however, Tabitha was not about to offer them any assistance.

    It was not Jeanette who came, however. Instead, it was one of her son’s other classmates.

    It was Martin Curie.

    “Martin?” Jeanette asked, confused by his appearance here. Were the New Vindicators somehow responsible for the ship’s repeated shifting? “Is Jay with you? What’s happening?”

    “Ve haf to hurry.” Martin winced and the scar over his left eye pulsed and paled with the exertion. “Mozer is strong unt I am doink all I can to contain her. She has almost discerned how to escape this infinite loop.”

    “You… You’re not Martin Curie…”

    “Nein. Mein name is Martin Erlenmeyer. Mein mozer absorbed me back home on our world vhen ze ozer students stopped Laputa’s plan unt… unt I destroyed my fazer. She zought it would be my destruction but I’ve been in her mind, watching her interactions for many monz now. I’m… I’m sorry for what she zreatened your baby wiz.” His compassion was short-lived as he took Tabitha by the hand. “Come,” he said as he walked her through the wall of her cell, into Katrina’s.

    The woman didn’t look good: months of solitary confinement didn’t agree with the Russian. Her initial reaction was to transform and assume a threatening stance. Then, she saw Tabitha and seemed to relax herself. Then she saw her belly. “You—you’re pregnant?”

    Tabitha nodded. “Maurice’s,” she said.

    Katrina let out a low growl. “I’ll kill him.”

    “I asked him to,” offered the other woman. “A medical condition that couldn’t be healed in one visit was the only way I could think to get Chen Lei to grant me time with Jeanette.”

    Katrina looked to Martin. “So, what’s this?”

    “Martin Erlenmeyer,” offered Tabitha. “He’s helping us escape.”

    The trio set off for the docking bay, determined to make it to a ship. “Martin, what’s going on with the ship? Why do we keep shifting to the same world?”

    “Mozer was trying to control where and when the Elpis goes, but it’s failed. We are stuck in an infinite loop… but she is close to solving it. When she does… Tabitha, it is not only your vorld zat needs saving. I haf seen the data, and zese experiments she’s performed… Ze Elpis is no longer slipping zrough ze space between dimensions—it’s ripping its way across dimentions. She managed to plot a course to zis dimension, yes, but now we can go nowhere else. Once we leave—once we force our way zrough zis…

    “Zis may be vhat Argus truly wanted: ze annihilation of all of creation.”

    Without hesitation Tabitha asked, “What can I do to help?”

    “You mentioned zat I, your Martin, met a much different fate on your vorld? Perhaps my doppelganger can be of some assistance.” Martin stopped and placed his hand on Tabitha’s stomach. For a moment, it was hard to tell where his appendage ended and her belly began.

    Before Tabitha could finish gasping, Martin pulled his arm back. “Vhen you make it home, find your vorld’s Martin, and tell him zat zere is a message for him inside your daughter.”

    Martin led them to the docking bay without incident. Soon, he was leading them onto the ramp of a scouting ship—a crew of grey men at the helm. Here, he dropped to his knees, clutching his head. “Sorry, she is fighting me…”

    Martin forced himself to stand and—fighting through the pain—made his way to the controls. “I vill plot a course for your dimens—argh!” Again, he came close to collapsing. “I’m sorry,” he said, sweat dripping across his brow, “I must leave you. If she overpowers me…” The scar over his eye turned a deep shade of violet as he strained himself to concentrate on maintaining control. “I’ve not ze strengz to form ze new element again, Martinium, unt a highly radioactive explosive decompression vould not be as good here as it vas to take out Dieter, Sphinx, unt their pawns. Still…” He looked to the force field that separated the bay from the void they were adrift in. “I zink I vill let mozer get some air. Ve never took enough trips as a family.”

    The pain-induced rictus grin he wore took on an almost demonic appearance as he phased through the wall of the ship, leaving the women to escape the Elpis once and for all.

    “Can we trust him?” Katrina asked as Tabitha sat in the captain’s chair.

    “Do we have any other options? Just keep an eye on the greys…”

    The ship lurched to life and pierced the energy barrier that separated the bay from the void. Tabitha’s eyes swam across the monitors displayed before her, swiftly interoperating how to control the ship. As she figured out how to initiate a shift, the ship shook violently.

    “They’re onto us,” she said, looking at one of the monitors. “We’ve taken a hit.” She barely had the words out before the ship shook again. Alarms were going off all around them. “Almost…”

    The ship accelerated and suddenly they were sailing through the sky… straight for mountains. “Everyone, brace-”

  2. #3422
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    SHETLAND ISLES (Jack, Violet; NPCs: Augustus, Carla, Excalibur, Kenny, Kirstie, Mary)
    Mary rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Violet! Whoever killed Jack is after me! Now is not-"

    "How could he kill Jack if he doesn't know where we are?" asked Augustus. "The wards around the cottage keep anyone from knowing where we are." He breathed in deep and fixed his daughter with a mournful look. "There was another drug for Jessica--one that would prevent her from inheriting my abilities.

    "Your mother was researching this drug, but she needed Neo-Sapien men to act as sperm donors. She came to MI18, looking for assistance. I wasn't comfortable with asking the agents there to become fathers. Even with the contracts and waivers your mother had drawn up--freeing them from any legal responsibility--it just... Row 64. That was the solution. We selected inmates who had abilities Mary was confident she could..." He shook his head. "It wasn't enough to impregnate these women... The children would need to have powers she could bring out through stress. An inmate with flame abilities, for instance? By burning the baby, she could spark-"

    "What the hell is wrong with you, lady!?!" snarled Excalibur. "You experimented on babies!?!"

  3. #3423
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    Augustus nodded. "We worked so closely together in the beginning. We grew close... but Mary wasn't comfortable with my status as a Neo-Sapien. We got married--decided to start a family... but only after the drug was deemed a success. Mary took a drug to prevent Jessica--our oldest--from ever becoming a Neo-Sapien.

    "The success of the project prompted the government to commission another drug--one that could do the exact opposite. We used the same inmates, but different surrogate mothers... Again, the results-"

    "Wait, so..." The Blue Knight had had an epiphany. "You used people MI18 put away?"

    Cavalier cracked a smile. "Now you're speakin' my language! You know, I think I owe you an apology... I thought you'd be more by-the-book... More like Paladin, you know?" He frowned as they continued to leave. "He ever talk about me? Tell you what happened? He... We were workin' a case, right? This muppet could control air with his mind, right? Was goin' after people who worked at Vauxhall Cross. He thought they were holdin' his dad... He took a kid hostage--demanded his old man's release.

    "We cornered him atop Big Ben. Paladin tried to talk him down. Our guy was a kid--about a year older'n I was then. He was countin' on the kid not wanting to hurt anyone. He gambled and lost. Our guy tossed the kid. Paladin went to save the kid and me... I wasn't gonna let this punk get away with it. I hit him. I hit him with everything I had. I wasn't about to let him ever hurt anyone else again! Paladin... He stopped me from doing what had to be done. He told me that wasn't what heroes did...

    "If heroes go easy on the bad guys, though... more people get hurt--sometimes worse.

    "After that, he started making me see this quack and takin' pills. He bloody benched me--told me it was for the better. But he's gone now, and this city needs someone."


    "Can one of your prisoners control air?"

    Augustus thought for a moment. "Reginald Davies," he said. "Why?"

    "Was he part of the experiment to give a kid his power?"

    Mary nodded slowly.

    "He was," Augustus said.

    "What happened to the kids, Missus Lear? The kids your experiment created."

    "Most were put into child services. They-"

    "I think one of them knows about how he was created." But then what was he doing? Was he looking for his mother? Was he punishing all of the women on the list for giving their children up? How was he killing them? If he could control the air, it explained how he was suffocating them, but how was he doing it without being seen? If he could control the air, he could very likely fly... but someone would have seen someone flying around London--it was why he had to be so careful about where he landed when he needed to blend in with the crowd. Maybe the killer was flying outside of their windows, using his power to siphon the air from their lungs?

    But what about the video Cavalier had shown him? One of the victims opened her door and died in the hallway. Her clutch and keys were still inside--she wasn't going out. It was like she was answering the door for... an invisible...

    "Is it possible one of the mothers was a Neo-Sapien herself?" asked the Welshman. What if that was it? What if they were looking for someone who could control air and turn invisible? "Missus Lear, I need your help on this... I need to find the children your experiment made before one of them kills again."

  4. #3424
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    Alex "Current" Murphy
    HP: 1 CND: Fatigued


    Lex came to a panting stop somewhere just off the coast on the Shetland islands.

    He pulled off his mask and shook his head to clear his hair out,
    "Well, that was all sorts of fun. I think I'm going to have a headache for a week from bullying around my powers like that."

    He popped his neck, then started stretching out his legs,
    "Okay, so the good news is that this is the right island. Bad news is that I was here once, and I didn't come from this exact direction..."

    He looks over at William and shrugs sheepishly,
    "And I have no fricking clue which way we go from here, so I hope you're okay with wandering around a bit."

    "How you holding up? Anybody from MI18 you want me to punch? 'Cause I have a list so far and it's starting to get pretty big."

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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    Violet Lear
    HP: 2

    As the conversation wore on, Violet realized she was crying. She wiped away a thin trail of tears from her cheek. "I can't be here right now." She rose and quickly pushed out the front door, looking for a place to be away from everyone. So many things suddenly made sense. So why was she so confused?

    Outside, Violet went around back and found a large tree to hide behind. She created small balls of ice in her hand and mindlessly started tossing them at the trunk of the next tree over, watching each explode when it impacted the bark.

  6. #3426
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    OUBLIETTE-137, ROMANIA, APRIL 23, 1995
    Slowly, Tabitha began to open her eyes. She was in darkness. Her left arm hurt—at the shoulder. She felt for it, only for her fingers to fall over sticky, jagged bone where her arm should have been. She started to panic, but quickly reined it in. If she was going to save the cosmos, she needed to keep calm. She needed to not bleed out.

    She needed to get her baby to Martin Curie.

    With one arm, she fashioned a tourniquet. Still, the pain was too much.

    “Katrina?” she asked. “Katrina, are you…?”

    She lost consciousness.

    ASTRAL PLANE, NOW (Lex; NPCs: William)
    "I knew you could do it, Lex." William smiled at him. "How are Carla and Kirstie?"

    ROMANIA, 1995
    Light cascaded through a hole in the ceiling. A flashlight was scanning over—the beam fell on the corpse of one of the greys. “Please,” she pleaded with a weak and feeble voice, “help me.”

    “Hang on,” said a man. He pronounced each word oddly. English was not his first language, she realized. “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.”

    Her eyes closed. Suddenly, she could feel someone slapping her cheek lightly. “Wake up!” The flashlight was beaming into her eyes. “Stay with me! Keep talking! What’s your name?”

    “Tabitha.”

    “I’m Radu. I’m going to get you out of here. Hold on.” He called back, shouting in Romanian: “I need a cutting torch down here! There’s a woman! She needs help!”

    “Help will not come in time,” she said in Romanian.

    “You speak Romanian?” he asked.

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

    “Is that why they abducted you?”

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

    “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. She wasn’t going to make it, but the baby had to. “Please, take my baby.”

    The flashlight dropped 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…”

    And like that, Tabitha Lamperogue joined her husband.

    SHETLAND ISLES, NOW (Jack, Violet; NPCs: Augustus, Carla, Excalibur, Kenny, Kirstie, Mary)
    It didn't take long for Augustus to find her. "I figure you want some space," he said. He looked up at the branches of the tree. "I remember when you were... what, about eight? Nine? Your friend Annie was hit by a car and in the hospital. You hid behind the tree out back. You did the same thing when Nana June passed." Silence settled in as the man rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "I wanted one of my own. Your mother had poor Jessie's life mapped out before she was even out of her. She... Queen Mary has to always be in control. I wanted something I had control over--that... That sounds bad. I don't mean I want to control you. I want you to be you, Moo Cow. I want you to be happy.

    "I took the drug without your mother knowing. She took the same drug she took to keep Jessie from getting my powers, and I took the other one because I... I wanted you to have a chance to be whatever you were going to be. I just didn't want Queen Mary to be able to decide who you were. Maybe I screwed up, but... I'm sorry you had to find out this way. Maybe I should have told you sooner, but..." He shrugged. "I love you, Moo Cow."

    ROMANIA, 1995
    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. Tabitha’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.”

  7. #3427
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    Violet Lear
    HP: 2

    "I've never doubted that you love me Dad."
    Violet sighed heavily. "Before today, I never doubted Mum did either. But now, I don't know." Violet turned away from her father. "Jessica is the perfect daughter for Mum, right? And I'm everything she didn't want."

    Violet turned to face her father, frowning. "That's why she's been so horrible to me all my life isn't it? Because you went behind her back and she hates it."

  8. #3428
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    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    ASTRAL PLANE, NOW (Lex; NPCs: William)
    As they walked to the cottage, Lex told him everything he'd missed over the course of the last few weeks. Once they were there, the older man lingered in the main room, watching the hazy reflection of his family cast into this world. "Well, Lex... I'll be safe here. Aside from Hall, no one in MI18 will be able to find me, so long as I stay here.

    "I really can't begin to thank you enough. It means the world to me to know that... that there's someone watching over my family when I can't." He began to choke up, only to hold back the tears. "Thank you.

    "Now, take off that ring and give it to my wife."

    SHETLAND ISLES, NOW (Jack, Violet; NPCs: Augustus, Carla, Excalibur, Kenny, Kirstie, Mary)
    "Like I said," Augustus said as he sat down next to his daughter, "your mother has to have control. Do you know, before I met her, I had a tooth brush--plain old tooth brush... She threw it away and replaced it with a motorized one. Even these shoes were picked out for me. I don't believe that your mother dislikes you... I think that she's afraid of you. Jessie does what your mother says. Jessie acts as your mother expects. Jessie... Jessie is not her own woman, but you..." He put his arm around his little girl. "You are. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're something she detests. It's just that... she knows that she can't control you. She knows that you're going to make your own decisions in this life, and she fears you making the wrong decision. I think she truly believes that she knows best, and the way she treats you is just her way of trying to guilt you into falling in line.

    "But don't you dare do it, Moo Cow. I love you just the way you are, and... to be honest? I've never been prouder of one of my girls than I am of you." He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. "My little girl is a superhero.

    "Let's see Harold Nelson and his new lawn mower beat that."

    Quote Originally Posted by Michuru81
    If you're okay with it, Arkrite and Shock, we can end it there.
    OUBLIETTE-137, ROMANIA, TWO MONTHS AGO...
    The doors of the van opened and light raced in. The guards rose to their feet and grabbed the handles of the tank. Outside the van, men were locking the ramp into place. They signaled to the guards and the six men began to wheel the tank out of the van and into Vladislav Radikovich’s new home.

    The stocky youth braced himself as best he could. The water in the tank sloshed violently as he was unloaded and carted down a dark corridor. As they slowed down, preparing to lead him into a cell, he saw a familiar face: his uncle Sorin impassively supervised the entire process.

    Vlad kept his mouth shut. It wasn’t much of a surprise to see him here—he was still employed by the Serviciul Român de Informații and likely pulled strings to involve himself in this entire affair. Vlad had suspected this could happen: Sorin would pull strings, and Radu would not be punished for the torturous upbringing his children had endured…

    He just prayed that Iosef, Ilena, Adam, and Simon were safe from him now.

    The tank was wheeled into a cell containing so very little: a cot, a table, a chair, a toilet, a sink, a Bible… The men who had ushered Vlad here left and the door closed behind them. Sorin stepped forward and opened the tank; the water rushed out and seeped through small drains in the floor.

    Vlad looked up. High above them was a large vent. “You’ll be monitored around the clock. If you are observed using your abilities, they’ll press a button, flooding the room almost instantly. Do you understand?”

    Vlad nodded. He didn’t tell them that it was a weakness he had overcome. He liked them thinking he was vulnerable—easily controlled.

    “Your father said Herta was there,” Sorin said. “It seems as though that might be a violation of her parole…”

    “What are you talking about?” Vlad asked, feigning ignorance. “Herta has been at the school all evening. One of our classmates—Jack Rexroth—will vouch for her.”

    “The Laputa children were outfitted with subcutaneous tracking devices.”

    Vlad knew this. Lexus told him as much when they had been briefly reunited. According to Herta, however, Tallemaja had helped her removed hers. She had been carrying it with her in her pocket, in order to avoid raising suspicions.

    She had left it at the school before their homecoming.

    “And I believe hers will show that she’s been at the school all evening. As I said: I was alone…”

    Alone except for Domingo. Who was that man, and what had he wanted at Radu’s farm?

    Sorin sucked on his teeth as he considered what to say next. Finally, he said, “You have no idea what you’ve done.”

    “Sure, I do. I’ve stopped a madman from abusing anymore children.”

    “You’ve compromised the safety of all existence,” said Sorin. “Radu was training you kids to deal with a threat beyond your comprehension.”

    “Ah, yes, this ‘Armada’ that Herta’s mother gave her life to fight?”

    “Herta’s mother wasn’t the only one working to stop the Armada,” Sorin said. “I was there the day Herta was born, Vlad. Your father was still with the service, you see… He and I were sent to investigate reports of a flying saucer crashing in the mountains. We arrived and… it was true. It was like something from the movies.

    “Show him.”

    A light flashed on behind him and Vlad realized it was a projector, throwing a photograph onto the wall ahead of him. It was just like his uncle said: a trench torn through the ground, leading to where a flying saucer had collided with the base of a mountain.

    The next slide showed an alien creature—dead—sprawled out on a table. It was small and grey skinned with an oval shaped head; it had large, black eyes; its limbs were long and thin.

    “There were two humans aboard the ship,” Sorin said. “Two women—one of which died as a result of injuries she sustained in the crash. Still, we were able to save the child she was carrying.”

    “Herta,” said Vlad, unable to mask his shock. “He was telling the truth…”

    “Yes, he was. Herta’s mother died in the crash, Vlad… but, as I said, there was another woman… Show him.”

    The projector showed the security footage of a cell identical to his. Sitting at the table, was his mother, transformed into her candy body.

    “This is Katrina Zubkov. You know her?”

    He knew his mother’s name was Katrina. He had never heard her last name uttered.

    “Katrina has been a guest of this facility since April 23, 1995. Fourteen years she’s been here, Vlad…”

    “That’s not possible,” he said. “If she was here…”

    “Last year, your mother was sentenced to life in Pandora. She joined up with a group of criminals from other dimensions who call themselves the Armada. She spent almost two years with them, traveling to other dimensions and destroying them. In an effort to save her home dimension from meeting the same end, she commandeered one of their ships. Though she did end up in the correct dimension, she arrived in the past.

    “She gave us information—told us what she could remember about the historical events of her past. She was able to convince us that she was telling the truth.

    “At first, we considered telling the Hague that Pandora was a trap—a means for this… Argus… to harvest the worst criminals our dimension could offer. Your mother warned that this could potentially create a paradox: if we failed to send criminals there—or even prevent the crimes Laputa would one day commit—then she would not be able to come here and warn us of their existence.

    “Instead, we realized, we could implant moles on the inside…”

    “Adella,” Vlad said, realizing what Sorin meant.

    Sorin nodded. “Adella was briefed on the parameters of her mission: commit crimes that would necessitate her being sent to Pandora, putting her in position to infiltrate the Armada.”

    “All this time, you’ve been working with my mother—torturing children to… to make them evil enough to join these monsters? Did father intend for me to join them, too!?!”

    “No,” Sorin said. “You were the bargaining chip. Your mother told us about you—about how she abandoned you… How she regretted that… My brother promised her that he would take you in—raise you like a son. He would protect you-”

    “Father was a madman! He trained me to be-”

    “To be what, Vladi? A soldier? We’re at war, yes? And what do we need in times of war?”

    Vlad glared at him. “I want to speak to my mother.”

    “In due time,” Sorin said. “As I said, your father was training you to be a soldier in the coming war against the Armada. I need to know if you are willing to fight this fight.”

    “Of course.”

    “And you will give anything—sacrifice anything—to stop them?”

    “Yes!” growled a frustrated Vlad.

    “Even your humanity?”

    Vlad eyed him strangely. “What are you talking about?”

    “There is a process… Your mother has undergone it. If you’re willing… we can make you more powerful—a weapon in the war against-”

    “I’ll do it.”

    “Don’t be so hasty,” Sorin said. “Take the night to think on it-”

    “I said I’ll-”

    “Why do you think your mother is in her other form, Vladi!?!” Sorin pointed back to the footage. “If you do this—if you go down this path—you will never again be able to revert to your human form. You will forever be in your enhanced state.

    “If you do this, water won’t simply force you to change back, Vladi. Your mother dipped her toes in a small pool of water, and they have never grown back. If you do this, water will kill you.”

    Water was no longer a weakness he possessed, but if he transformed… they would quickly discover this. He would be showing his hand to them.

    “May I talk to my mother before I give you my decision?”

    Sorin nodded to the camera watching him. The cell door opened, and men came in to transport him…

  9. #3429
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    New Vindicators Academy of Europe #24: Press Your Luck

    NEW VINDICATORS ACADEMY OF EUROPE #24: Press Your Luck

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    OUBLIETTE-137, VIENNA, NVAE (Fluxx, Imago, Magnitude; NPCs: Larrikin, Manticore, Rheid)
    An hour had passed since Newton had interrupted Magnitude’s evening by summoning him to his office. “We’ve had a visitor,” he explained, wearing a dour expression. “The Aurelia—one of the American Vindicators… There’s trouble brewing in the States. For some time, they’ve been dealing with some sort of ancient cabal—I’m not entirely sure of the exact details at this juncture. What I do know is… Dana O’Laughlin was killed in the initial skirmish tonight.”

    That came as a shock: it had barely been three weeks since they had come together to lay Corey Ander to rest.

    “The remaining Vindicators have gone with her: Backlash, Kiln, Pict, Hubris… They have all joined the battle… and I’d like to ask you to have your Volunteers on high alert. Though I know little of what the Americans are dealing with, I’ve been assured that this campus won’t likely be a target… however, the world itself may very well be in danger.

    “I know that most of the students have gone home for the summer, but if the fighting makes its way here, I would like you and anyone willing and able to defend our home ready to do so.”


    Kas took stock of who was still at the school: Jack, Gaspar, Astrid, Doug, Martin, Tatjana, and all of the Radikovich children were orphans and wards of the school. Similarly, the Laputa pawns were remanded to the custody of the school. Lexus, Pirjo, Armande, and Herta were still here.

    Others stayed at the school for their own reasons: Juozas and Venefica had graduated, but were remaining in the city for the time being.

    Venefica had taken a job working at the school as a housekeeper, but quit when she found out she wouldn’t be able to continue her relationship with Aramande; now, she worked at a café and had an apartment in the city.

    Juozas was still living at the campus, trying to figure out what to do with his life. He’d spoken to Kas once or twice about it. He wasn’t cut for university, like Dag, and his ability wasn’t exactly on the powerful end of the spectrum. He was considering taking a job at the school—in maintenance—so that he could stay in the city and continue to work with the Volunteers… but he worried over how he’d be perceived.

    Fiore and Rose had elected to remain at the school, and were pushing themselves morning, noon, and night to exercise their control over flora. Following Robor’s last attack, they had apparently decided that they were the best defense against the man, and were tirelessly working to make themselves the Irishman’s worst nightmare.

    Refugees from other dimensions, Dennis and Napoleon were on hand if needed.

    Others, like Sarah, Annaliese, Mouloud, Rebecca, and Anne, were in the city because their family had relocated to Vienna for one reason or another: Sarah and Rebecca’s families fled Black Box in America; Annaliese’s fled prejudice at home; terrorists had abducted Mouloud and threatened his mother…

    Lex was spending the summer in London, but he could be called back at a moment’s notice; Gwyn could make it in from Wales in no time.

    He had approached the more reliable ones: Juozas was flying around the city, while Herta was on foot, able to be almost anywhere at a moment’s notice. Martin and Dennis—excellent support—had joined him and the Volunteers in patrolling the city. For now, he had opted to leave Jack alone. Since his return from London a week ago, he hadn't been himself...

    It was one thing for the headmaster to ask them to be on guard and another for them to know what they were looking for. On cue, they found what they were looking for…

    One moment, there was nothing but clear skies above them; the next, Kas could sense a gigantic ship hovering overhead. It was like an air craft carrier, albeit one tilted on its side. What’s more, the air was now filled with a humming noise that drowned out all other sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michuru81
    ]Dennis and Martin will see a bit more than Kas: in the sky above them is another world. A city is now taking up the sky high over Vienna.
    OUBLIETTE-137, VIENNA, NVAE (Jack)
    "This may be the answer we've been looking for," Augustus said, stroking his mustache as he thought it all over. "I could go to Francine under the guise of bringing her intel. You all already encountered Randy's father. I could tell her that I have more information. Whether or not she's allied herself with Black Box, stopping a powerful Neo-Sapien will be one her list of objectives. With her network, she may be able to root out Molly O'Shae, and potentially find Seamus."

    “Stop!” roared Carlos.

    “Daddy, you have to.” That one was Violet. “We can’t let him kill Randy.”

    “STOP! STOP IT!” Carlos again. It was wrong. Carlos wasn’t there.

    “He won’t,” Kenny said. “Not yet. Randy’s the best hope he has of finding me. So long as I’m alive, Randy’s safe...”

    “This is for Carol, you son of a bitch.”

    Jack was floating in the void. He couldn’t breathe. He was dying. But he’d eaten an apple. He was fine. He wasn’t the real Jack. He was just a double.

    "Did I ever tell you about the time I killed my double?" asked Incubus.

    Ellen’s room was lit only by the moonlight flittering through the window. He was standing at the foot of Ellen’s bed. She was lying on her back. Her feet had kicked her pillows up against the headboard. His hands were squeezing her breasts as she teased him with her tongue. “Tell me,” she said. She wanted to hear those three small words.

    "I love my family," his father said. "I love my wife. I love my son."

    “I figured the world needed more dads like you instead of the bastard I got stuck with, who fell into a bottle, and took all his frustrations and anger out on me, but this #%#@ you're pulling about 'your little girl'? It's almost as bad as what my dad did to me.”

    No, that wasn’t right. That wasn’t what was happening… That was two years ago, in Italy… No, it was only one year… wasn’t it? Why did this keep happening?

    "You don't know everything about the situation." It was his voice, but it wasn’t him. It was the imposter—but not the one from the other world… It was the imposter he made. "We came to Pandora at the same time but we went in at different times, there's stuff I know you don't. I can't explain it any better than that."

    "Then tell us what we don't know, Jack."

    "Lots of folks rebelled," Bile told Katrina. "There was this married couple, right? Dale and... Tammy, I think?”

    “Tabitha,” Katrina said, correcting him. No, that was wrong… She hadn’t been at Camp David… She wasn’t talking to Bile. Bile was talking to him. Him and the others.

    “They tried to lead a rebellion. They saw what was goin' on and got worried that we might end up in their home world--said they had kids back there. They tried to take the Armada down. The woman, she wasn't as dangerous as her old man. She was super-smart, but he was this... great... bloody dragon, or something. He got left behind on this one dimension and she was put in the brig. That was... wow, that was months ago."

    “What was?” asked Vlad.

    “I killed her.” He wasn’t talking about Carol. He hadn’t been there when Carol died, and Wight’s spell would know if he was lying. “She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time... She should have run. She should have just..." She should have flown away. She could fly faster than he could glide. She could have gotten away. Why didn’t she fly away? "I slashed her body open.” WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T ALINA FLY AWAY? “I killed her... and her boyfriend will never know how sorry I truly am...”

    “It was an exercise,” Tatjana said, “and you did what you had to do within the parameters. The teachers would have stopped it before it became serious and I trust that Mister Ander would have healed any injury you gave me."

    No. No, that was all wrong. That was last year—no, two years ago—and she said that Jack, not Dale… wasn’t it?

    “Vhy do you ask, Jack?” asked Mart. “Your tone denotes some importance.

    “Do you know vhy some people haf a mortal fear of clowns—coulrophobia? It is zought to be because of ze dichotomous qualities of sameness and ozerness—just familiar enough to be recognizable yet just ‘off’ enough to impart ze quality of ‘tainted’. It’s a similar root of ze fear unt revulsion of zombies, unt in some cases, xenophobia—ze general fear of ozers. See, I ‘ad never experienced such phobias to clowns or zombies or ozers. I later deduced it vas because my morphology makes such zings impossible as zere IS no ‘ozer’ zan vhat I can become.”

    No, Martin was French, not German. Ganze was German. Her Martin would have that accent, but not his… and it wasn’t even his Martin. It was Mart—fragments of Martin’s psyche that stowed away in the mass Martin loaned him to make the other Jack.

    “Very interesting,” mused Mart.

    No, it wasn’t. It was distracting him from what his psyche was trying to tell him. Like Martin, Jack could become something else. He had even taken his powers to the point that where he could create a second body—another him. Hell, he had died and come back from the dead. There was nothing normal about him at this point…

    Was that why he was having such a hard time reconciling the influx of memories he’d gained from the other Jack? His ability to be anything—do almost anything—meant that there was no ‘other’ than what he could be, so his subconscious didn’t reject alien thoughts? A year’s worth of experiences he hadn’t had?

    “Your zeory seems sound.”

    Shut up, Mart! Just go back to Ellen! Think about Ellen! Focus on the love, like Doctor Yavorshak said…

    “I fought alongside your daughter, Roselyn Arnett-Rexroth. You and Kirstie decided to hyphenate your children's surname so that they take advantage of the reputation her family has in certain circles.”

    No! Kirstie was with Lex, who will never know how sorry Dale was… Jack was with Gitta.

    "Oh, yes," Gitta said, slowly sliding her hand further up Jack's thigh…

    Ellen! Jack was with Ellen!

    ~I have looked all over the place~

    ~But you have got my favorite face~


    That was it! That was their song! His and Ellen’s!

    ~Your eyelashes sparkle like gilded grass~

    ~And your lips are sweet and slippery~

    ~Like a cherub's bare wet ass~


    He remembered their first kiss.

    "You..." She panted. "You saved me." Before Jack could utter a word she pressed her lips to his.

    No! That wasn’t Ellen! That was Elfriede… Ellen was in that other dimension—the one where they’d met Dennis…

    He tried to focus his memories just like Yavorshak had taught him. He had to concentrate—suppress the year of memories he’d inherited from his duplicate. He had to ignore all those experiences and just focus on what mattered…

    He remembered the color of underwear Ellen had been wearing the first night they made love. He remembered the smell of her hair. He sang Flower, because so many of their songs were Liz Phair songs…

    Ellen was what he had to focus on in order to keep himself sane, but he couldn’t see her for two more days.

    “Jack?”

    Ellen and her mother were visiting her grandparents—two people who he’d been told weren’t the most progressive of individuals.

    “Jaaaaack…”

    Once they came home, he had an invitation to spend what remained of the break with them.

    “Jack!”

    They’d been keeping in touch through a stream of constant text messages and Skype calls, but without her, Jack was-

    “JACK!” Jack snapped back to reality to find a small boy standing at the foot of his bed. He looked ten or twelve, though his eyes looked far older and sadder than seemed possible. He had long, brown hair that was pulled into a topknot that spilled down his back. He was garbed in furs and animal pelts, and carried a staff topped with what looked like a slingshot.

    Strangely, Jack didn’t feel threatened by his presence here, nor did he question how or why he was in his room. “Theeeeeeey’re heeeeeeeere!” He pointed to the window.

    Jack looked out and then up. The Elpis floated on its side, suspended between Vienna and another city that now hung over them. “You need to pull it together now, Jack. This world and every other world are counting on you. You, and Martin, and Herta, and Derryl.”

    Jack turned around, but the child was gone, replaced with a deafening hum that drowned out all other sound.

    OUBLIETTE-137, FLIGHT 5429 (Violet; NPCs: Augustus, Eve, ect.)
    It had been six hours since they boarded in Dubai. Four hours before that, they had said farewell to Kolkata, but the last week had been spent moving throughout Bangladesh and India, where the Lears employed their abilities to fabricate several tons of ice. Once it melted, the ice would fill newly constructed reservoirs and provide countless people with fresh water.

    Violet’s father even found ways for Eve to help the people: he presented her to the engineers and explained that Eve was an exceptionally gifted young lady. “Let her look over your schematics,” he said. “She be able to figure out a more efficient way to go about this.” Indeed, Eve was able to figure out a better way to melt the ice once it had been made—all using solar energy.

    Now, they were in-bound for London, to rest up for a week or so before Augustus left for another such journey. He was about to spend two weeks in the Volta Region of Ghana, and had invited both girls to join him once more—but only if they wanted to. “Of course, I’ll completely understand if you want to enjoy your summer break,” he said, “and not spend the whole time working.”

    Now, towards a setting sun, Augustus allowed himself to relax. In his hands was a beaten-up paperback copy of The Once and Future King the mustachioed man had purchased in Dhaka. Violet’s eyes drifted to the page he was on: “It is only a personal reason,” she read. “Personal reasons are no excuse for war.”

    Suddenly, the plane shuddered violently. It began to shake and was swiftly plummeting. Masks dropped from the ceiling. A strange hum filled the air, drowning out all other sound.

    Eve had the window seat. She was frantically waving to get her companion’s attention, pointing to something outside.

    Leaning down, Augustus realized it wasn’t the missing wing that was distressing the American girl: it was the massive ship they were flying along.

    OUBLIETTE-137, VIENNA, VIENNA NATIONAL AIRPORT (Otso; NPCs: Karell, ect.)
    His father took off his shoes and emptied his pockets into the plastic tub. With his carryon behind it, the American sent his belongings down the conveyed belt and walked into the body scanner.

    The father and son were flying back to Finland, to visit what remained of Otso’s mother’s family. Beatrice and her parents would be meeting them there—the first time Otso had seen her since she left for the break. For the last three weeks, his life had been accompanying his father to Central Africa—to provide relief to the people hit hardest by the U.U.B.’s continued presence. At least now the U.N. was actively trying to bring General Basenji to justice. At least some good had come out of Ironside’s attack on the University of Vienna…

    “So, I have a small surprise…” his father said as he threaded his belt through the loops of his his cargo pants. “I talked to Bea’s folks, and we’re gonna take a small trip to Kakslauttanen—separate rooms, of course, but… I might just be persuaded to take the Marceaus out for an evening so y-” His lips were moving, but Otso only heard a deafening hum that drowned out all other sound.

    OUBLIETTE-137, LONDON, HOUSE ARNETT (Lex; NPCs: Kirstie)
    Lex had his tongue in Kirstie’s mouth when her powers sparked. He had moved his hand to her waist, only for the energy field she commanded to shove him back. “I’m sorry!” she said, genuinely worried he might have been hurt being shoved deeper into the cushions. “Let’s… let’s try it again…”

    She hooked her leg over his and pressed her lips against his neck when suddenly his father’s voice rang out. “Lex! Kirstie! Get in here!”

    There was a sense of urgency in the man’s voice that propelled the couple from the back porch, into the main family room. He hadn’t even known his father was back. Since William’s escape from Row 64, he had been hiding out at the cottage up in the Shetland Islands. Roger frequently took Carla there in order to see William. Now, Roger, Lillian, and Carla were focused on the television. There was no sound: only what looked like an aircraft carrier, on its side, floating in the sky…

    A sky composed of another city.

    “It’s Vienna,” Roger said.

    Friday, April 23, 2021

    OUBLIETTE-720, SAN PAULO, NVSA (David, Francis, Merle, Miguel, Tamati; NPCs: Jason, Kitrina, Wally)
    Tamati Stevens looked up the moment the sun was eclipsed. Floating over the campus was what looked like an aircraft carrier, floating on its side. Odder still, beyond that, it looked like a city was hovering just over San Paulo.

    OUBLIETTE-137 & OUBLIETTE-720, THE ELPIS (NPCs: Admiral Chen Lei, Amanchukwu, Jones, Nightrider, Sycophant, Takeuchi, Watkins, Whitaker, Wight)
    “Now arriving on Oubliette-137. June 19, 2009. 48° 12’ 0” N, 16° 22’ 0” E.”

    “137?” asked Wight. He looked at the Nightrider. When the man’s face gave away nothing, he looked to the Admiral instead. “That’s our home dimension… Where are we?”

    “Vienna,” said the Nephilim impassively.

    Suddenly, the ship lurched. It never lurched.

    “Now arriving on Oubliette-720,” announced the Elpis’ computer. “June 19, 2009. 48° 12’ 0” N, 16° 22’ 0” E.”

    “How?” the Nightrider exclaimed. “How did we shift? We never even deployed!”

    “Computer,” the Admiral asked, “what dimension are we presently in?”

    “Oubliette-137.”

    “But it just said-”

    The computer interrupted Whitaker: “Oubliette-720.”

    “That doesn’t make any sense,” said Takeuchi. “How can we be in two dimensions at once?”

    Admiral Chen Lei looked over his crew. While he was sorry to have lost Erudite and Ganze, he still had Nightrider and the Adversary to figure this new mess out. “Make an announcement,” he said. “We have to delay deployment until we figure out what’s happening here…”

    Quote Originally Posted by Michuru81
    If you're not aboard the Elpis, you are in the area of an Auditory Obscure X. Have at it, gents.

  10. #3430
    OPA Belta
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    3,585

    Re: New Vindicators Academy of Europe #23: I've Got a Secret

    Imago
    HP: 3

    Dennis paled at once, recognizing the warship of his past experience and nightmares. The sound obliterated all others, but Dennis' illusions were psionic so everyone in the patrol group could hear him 'speaking.'

    *It's the Armada. They're here. ...And there's another city above the Elpis, isn't there?*


    OOC
    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

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