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SF's "Write Your Butt Off!" Writing Competition XIV

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This may sound dumb, but what actually constitutes a 'superhero'? What makes Dr. Strange a superhero but not Gandalf?

I'm not going to be strict about what constitutes a "superhero". For the sake of the prompt, the "qualifier" for a superhero team is that they're people who protect innocents from and fight against the bad guys. Superpowers are not actually required.

I would be interested in getting into this contest if I can somehow puts words and ideas onto paper.

- Does the main villain have to show up in the story? I do have one but if it's just "a day in the lives of superheroes," they may not show up (it's more of a surprise considering what they are). I could try to adjust if they must show up.

- Do the superpowers have to be always beneficial to the superhero? For two members of my four-man team, I was planning to give them abilities that would sound good on paper but are hindrances in practice--basically because they can't "turn off" their power.

1. The main villain does not have to show up in the story.

2. Any powers the heroes may have don't have to always be beneficial to them. Anything goes!

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This may sound dumb, but what actually constitutes a 'superhero'? What makes Dr. Strange a superhero but not Gandalf?

[spoiler=Relevant Conversation][22/06/2015 3:15:24 PM] Proto: So, uh

[22/06/2015 3:15:26 PM] Proto: About this round

[22/06/2015 3:15:41 PM] Proto: How strict are the definitions of "superhero team" and "evil nemesis"?

[22/06/2015 3:16:02 PM] Boron: Well, superhero team is just the "good guys" and the evil nemesis the "bad guys"

[22/06/2015 3:16:05 PM] Boron: To put it into mafia terms

[22/06/2015 3:16:14 PM] Boron: "Superhero team" = town and "evil nemesis" = scum team

[22/06/2015 3:16:25 PM] Proto: Ah, okay

[22/06/2015 3:16:43 PM] Proto: So there's no strict requirement of the superhero team as being reputed for saving the day and such?

[22/06/2015 3:17:53 PM] Boron: Nah, as long as they're the "good guys" they can be unknown

[22/06/2015 3:17:55 PM] Boron: Or even self-appointed

[22/06/2015 3:18:34 PM] Proto: And "bad guys" are basically just their enemies?

[22/06/2015 3:18:44 PM | Edited 3:18:46 PM] Proto: or whoever they're fighting against

[22/06/2015 3:18:51 PM] Boron: Well, they should be doing villainous things

[22/06/2015 3:19:00 PM] Boron: Such as trying to take over the world, or just terrorizing people, or being a nuisance

[22/06/2015 3:19:55 PM] Proto: Ah, okay

[22/06/2015 3:20:18 PM] Proto: One more thing

[22/06/2015 3:20:26 PM] Proto: Does the "fight scene" have to be physical combat?

[22/06/2015 3:20:31 PM] Boron: What do you mean?

[22/06/2015 3:20:58 PM] Proto: Like, do they have to fight physically?

[22/06/2015 3:21:16 PM] Euklyd: ace attorney style courtroom fight scenes imo

[22/06/2015 3:21:20 PM] Boron: Well, how were you planning on having them fight?

[22/06/2015 3:21:23 PM] Euklyd: should totally count

[22/06/2015 3:21:30 PM] Boron: Just to give me an idea

[22/06/2015 3:21:32 PM] Proto: Would a battle of wits count?

[22/06/2015 3:21:43 PM] Proto: Actually, yeah, a Courtroom fight is a nice example

[22/06/2015 3:21:51 PM] Euklyd: VIZZINI

[22/06/2015 3:22:19 PM] Boron: Hmm … well, as much as I'd prefer a physical fight, if you can do a battle of wits well enough so that it feels intense and like an actual battle, I'll give it the green light

[22/06/2015 3:22:20 PM] Proto: gotta find that Objection.png

[22/06/2015 3:22:28 PM] Euklyd: https://youtu.be/U_eZmEiyTo0boron would this count

[22/06/2015 3:22:29 PM] Proto: Ooooh, yay

[22/06/2015 3:22:30 PM] Euklyd: relevant to mafia

[22/06/2015 3:22:31 PM] Proto: Thanks~

[22/06/2015 3:22:53 PM | Edited 3:22:57 PM] Proto: (I'm not very good with constructing physical fights and rarely write them)

[22/06/2015 3:23:07 PM] Boron: Lol, Euklyd

[22/06/2015 3:23:14 PM] Euklyd: such a good movie

[22/06/2015 3:23:20 PM] Boron: Again, if you guys can convince me it's a fight, I'll let it slide

[22/06/2015 3:23:46 PM] Boron: But in the end of the day, I'm not voting so you guys have to convince the voters that your battle counts under the prompt!

So, basically, a superhero is anybody that does good stuff while an evil nemesis is anybody that does bad stuff, kinda. And the fight scene doesn't have to be a physical one, but it should be intense enough to feel like a fight, at least enough for potential voters to be satisfied with it.

- Do the superpowers have to be always beneficial to the superhero? For two members of my four-man team, I was planning to give them abilities that would sound good on paper but are hindrances in practice--basically because they can't "turn off" their power.

The conversation above implies that superheroes don't actually need superpowers or anything, so this should be fine.

- Does the main villain have to show up in the story? I do have one but if it's just "a day in the lives of superheroes," they may not show up (it's more of a surprise considering what they are). I could try to adjust if they must show up.

I would think that it's required for the main villain to be responsible for the incidents that the superhero would have to resolve, even if the main villain doesn't show up directly. But yeah, we'll have to wait for Boron to get here for a definite answer. Edited by Formina Sage

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Just so you guys know, there is slightly less than a week left in the writing phase for this cycle.

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I will have something tomorrow.

Edit: I'm sorry. I keep trying but everything I come up with ends up falling flat. The closest I got was using Whitemane as a superhero which, while not IMPOSSIBLE, leaves me short at least two other teammates.

Edited by Snowy_One

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Here's the countdown for the time left in this round (thanks Proto):

http://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?iso=20150705T235959&p0=791&msg=SF+WriCom+VI+Writing+Phase+Deadline&font=serif&csz=1

Also, do you guys need an extension or something? I could give a 1-2 day extension if you guys need it.

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A 2-day extension would be really great! I'll try to finish the entry as soon as I can, but having time to refine it would be really appreciated, if possible.

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Whether I can enter or not is entirely determined by how busy I get. Right now, it's AS;DLFJA;LFJALJLAJSFDLAJ. Perhaps it'll calm down over the Fourth of July.

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Also, do you guys need an extension or something? I could give a 1-2 day extension if you guys need it.

Really? Could you please do that? I'm a little behind were I expected to be, so that would be greatly appreciated.

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Yeah i hit this pothole where i need to find a not-contrived way to speed up to the actual point of my story/plot and its proving difficult. I mean, i can get it done by Sunday for sure, but i wont complain about extra time lmao.

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I went back and forth on this one, at first I tried to do something serious but found perhaps it was easier to do something a bit tounge-and-cheek, I might have something but it won't be much after my serious thing ran into a lot of writer's block. An extension would be nice.

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This is Sunwoo/Boron, I'm at Ragged's house. I'm giving you guys a 2-day extension. So the new phase end date is Tuesday July 7 pm 11:59:59 PM PST.

Edited by Ragged

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Well, tomorrow's the deadline, and here's my entry, since I just finished it. Let me know if it sucks, which it might. Hopefully it doesn't though.

I don't even know if this fully qualified. The team has three members but only two actually do any superheroing in this story, and the fight scenes are pretty weak, honestly. I feel I wrote more of an exposition story than anything else, but hopefully, hopefully there's some good stuff in there to save it.

Title: Beginnings

Setting: Original setting, a world with super heroes in it, and a city called Fernston, which I made up for this world. I like how DC gives each hero their own city, so I did that here.

Characters:

Protagonists: Anonymous Speed, Shockmaster, Koneko

Antagonists: Shadowfrost

Yeah, this story has a gimmick if you couldn't tell, and I really hope it doesn't suck.

Word Count: 8544

Rating: Um...I don't know, there's no blood, though like...two people say hell or something? I don't remember.

Description (I don't think I need this but I'll give it anyway): A superhero capable of moving at super human speeds is forced to mentor two less experienced heroes in the ways of heroics. He may not be the most qualified for such a position.

[spoiler=Hey, Hi, Hero]

Fernston...a city like most others, in a world quite unlike most others. A reasonably large city, which its citizens praise for its culture and history as much as the citizens of any city praise their own. Among the more mundane attractions of the town is the Fernston City Museum, which, while a museum like you might find in many other towns, it still a rather impressive place to learning. One of its attractions is the Starlight Gem, a shard of glass formed by the impact of a meteorite thousands of years ago, a shard known by many for its beauty, a shard of rather impressive value. One particular night, it was also a shard sought by a pair of plunderers. The crashing sound of shattering glass could be heard, and following shortly after, the wail of sirens, as red light flooded the halls of the museum.

“You idiot!” One of the thieves shouted, both running for the rear exit as his companion, trailing just behind, frantically wrapped the shard in a cloth before stuffing it in a bag.

“Cut me a break, I-”

“You smashed the case with a crowbar, and you didn’t think it would trip any alarms?”

The second of the ruffians threw his bag over his shoulder, and the continued their mad dash to the exit. Getting through the door didn’t exactly mean freedom, especially in Fernston, but it was a start.

“Come on...so close…” the first mumbled, glancing back at his imbecilic partner. Why, oh why did I pick him for this? The thug found his mental bemoaning stalled when he saw his partner slow to a halt and his mouth dropped, and glared at him. “What are you doing, dumb-oof!” His profanity was cut off by a collision with some strange, almost leathery substance. He froze. Slowly, he straightened himself, and turned his head forward, being met with the sight of a man covered from head to two in an earthy red material. His eyes were covered by something shiny and black, like plastic, and his mouth had some sort of small, also black mask over it. He stood tall, with his chest puffed out, and though his face was covered, one could sense smugness within him. “Ah sh-”

***

Outside lied a single cop car, its siren also blazing, and a single officer leaning against the side, impatiently tapping his toe. A few pairs of handcuffs were lain atop the vehicle. A woosh was head, and in that second two handcuffs disappeared from the car. At the same time, two would-be burglars found themselves thrown into the back of the police car, handcuffed. The man in red stood by the open door, and with a teasing wave slammed it shut.

“Good work Speed,” the officer remarked with a nod, straightening himself as he grabbed the spare cuffs from the roof.

Anonymous Speed,” the suited man corrected.

“Yeah, well, that name is stupid,” the policeman countered, making his way around the front of the car.

“Yeah, well, I’m stuck with it,” replied the unfortunately dubbed ‘Anonymous Speed’. “Besides, it sounds a hell of a lot better than just ‘Speed’.”

“That it does,” the policeman confessed with a shrug, coming to the front door of his car. “Heheh, and that’s why young heroes shouldn’t be allowed to pick there own names.”

“Yeah yeah, I know, I was an idiot,” the man rolled his eyes under his mask.

“Heh. I’m telling you, you should just go with your real name, Charlie Baker. What’s wrong with Charlie Baker?” As he asked this, the officer was sitting himself down in the front and bringing his keys to the ignition.

“No,” the speedster chuckled. His mask was not actually meant to preserve a secret identity, but rather to protect him from debris while traveling at high speeds. “You don’t use your real name for this stuff, it’s tacky!”

“Yeah, ‘tacky’,” the policeman rolled his eyes, shutting his own door and continuing his speech through the open window. “Back when I was boy, we had stories about-”

“Spare me, please,” Baker remarked sarcastically, placing a hand on the roof.

“No, listen! Back when I was a boy a codename was to protect your family, it wasn’t about sounding cool!”

“Well, I certainly failed at that part, didn’t I?” The speedster chuckled. The policeman chuckled and started the car.

“Oh, by the way, Chief Kamen wants to speak with you tomorrow morning,” he remarked, rolling up the window. “Six AM.”

“Uhuh, sure, I’ll try to not be too early,” Anonymous Speed stepped away from the car, chuckling as the policeman headed off into the night. A moment later, a woosh sounded through the air, and both where gone.

***

The next morning, just as the sun began to peek past the Fernston skyline, Anonymous Speed, dressed in his full costume, stepped through the door of the police station. He’d quite like to simply run through to wherever Chief Kamen was, but ultimately needed to wait to be buzzed in. As a security measure, partially inspired by his abilities, there was a second door behind the main entrance, made of a sturdy plastic he’d need more speed than he could muster in the small space to break. As soon at that door was open, however, there was nothing stopping him from rushing through using his super speed, which he did, creating a burst of wind wherever he went.

Within a few seconds, he’d located the man he was supposed to meet: the Fernston Chief of Police, Alfred Kamen. Walking (for his standards) up to him, a wave of air rustling a set of papers he was looking at as countless other papers had been rustled in his search. “Alfred,” he greeted with a nod, reaching behind his head and pulling his mast over his head. He had a rather square face, and atop it was greasy, reddish brown hair. Even now, there were traces of smug in his expression.

“Chief Kamen,” the man corrected. He was a tall man, not quite as tall as Baker but still tall, somewhat sturdily built, with black hair. He was of some sort of European descent, if Anon remembered correctly, he probably wasn’t paying attention whenever it came up. “Good morning Speed.”

“Please never call me that,” the man remarked, glancing about indignantly whilst pacing next to the chief.

“Right,” Kamen responded. “Anyway, I want to go ahead and let you know-”

“That I’m doing a fantastic job, and you want to dedicate a museum to me,” the speedster smirked.

“No, actually,” the chief responded, showing a bit of joy in shooting that down. “We’re going to call in some other supers to help out-”

Anon blinked, and oddly enough, stopped in place, mildly shocked and even a bit insulted.

“Two pretty new ones have agreed to come to Fernston-”

Kamen was cut off by the sound of another woosh, the paper’s he’d just straightened out blown out of order again. Grumpily, he looked up to see Anon in front of him, not exactly happy himself. “Help? Are you saying I can’t protect this city myself? Because it kinda sounds to me like you’re saying that.”

“No,” Kamen sighed, stepping around Anon and continuing on past him, with the latter stomping after. “We’re just bringing in some others, it’s more to get people like you familiar with each other than anything, unless-”

“I can do things just fine on my own!” the suited man interjected. “Hell, just look at last night, I-”

“You’re very adamant about this,” the chief took his turn to interrupt. “You’re not afraid a pair of inexperienced heroes are going to obsolete you, surely?” His lips curled ever so slightly into a smirk as he glanced over his shoulder.

“No!” Anon blurted indignantly. “But Fernston is my turf and I can look after it on my own! So whoever you got to come over, you e-mail or call them or whatever, and tell them that they can just stay home!”

“Actually, they’re headed here already,” Kamen replied, continuing down at the same pace while, not using his super speed, the hero behind him picked up his pace.

“What?!”

“Correct, they should both be here within the hour. I figured I’d surprise you.” Facing forward, the chief smirked to himself as the man following behind him steamed. “It’ll be fun, you might learn something.”

“I highly doubt it,” Anon mumbled, before letting out a sigh. “Alright, fine, who’d you get?”

A muffled chuckle escaped Kamen. “Shockmaster, he creates and projects electricity, and Koneko, she absorbs energy and uses it to spin.” he informed as they continued their trek. Anon truthfully had no idea where he was going, the building was large enough for there to be plenty of options.

“Spin? Really? If you’re going to make me work with someone, at least make sure they don’t do something I can already do!”

“Hey, she’s an energy absorber, those are always useful,” Kamen shrugged. “You know,” he called back, “these two don’t have much experience. It might be nice of you to try and teach them something.”

“I’m not much of a teacher,” Anon replied. “Besides, didn’t you say three years wasn’t a lot of experience?”

“Well, no, it’s not,” the other man admitted. “But it’s more than they have. At least try to be nice. These two are taking away from their homes to come here and learn more about what they do.”

“Right, they’re from out of town. Where out of town, specifically?” Anon asked, lazily stretching as he walked.

“He’s from Rayport, she’s from Juleum,” Kamen answered.

“Uhuh, and who’s looking out for those places while they’re here?”

“Well, Rayport’s hit a low streak with crime,” the chief elaborated. “As for Juleum, you see, she’s got a brother-”

“Ah, so super powered siblings?” Anon interrupted, drawing a sigh from his black-haired companion.

“Yes, I’d have explained that if you let me finish,” the latter snapped. “So don’t worry, there’s nothing they need to worry about to keep them from showing up.”

“Hm, brilliant,” the speedster remarked, followed by a moment of silence. “Hey, where are we going?”

“Oh, no where in particular, I just wanted to teach you a little patience.”

Silence.

“Well then. Can I go now?”

“No, actually, I’d prefer you wait for the other two.” Kamen stopped in place and turned around, his speedier associate halting a moment later. “Now, what you can do is go wait at the back entrance, and wait for them to arrive. And when they do, I’ll meet with them, bring them in and we can all make introductions. Alright?”

“Sure, alright,” Anon answered, rolling his eyes as he pulled his mask back on, making a small salute before dashing off, creating a burst of wind which sent any papers in the vicinity flying off.

***

About twenty minutes later, Anonymous Speed was reclining in a cold, white plastic seat near the rear entrance of the station. His mask had been pulled down once again, and he waited for the fresh meat to arrive, tapping one foot impatiently while the other was attached to a leg crossed over the first. The back entry room was like a short hallway, dotted with similar uncomfortable chairs, with an elevator leading to a parking garage on one end and heavy metal door on the other. Both were as sturdy as the plastic barrier up front, despite being made of more primitive stuff. This was most likely because each were several inches of metal. After a wait which felt longer to Baker than it really was, a ding sounded, indicating an arrival. The elevator doors slowly split apart, revealing Chief Kamen, accompanied by two young adults.

Both where black haired, and as Anon had been indirectly told one was a man and one was a woman. They were about equal in height, a little shorter than him. The woman’s face was a bit square for a female, the man’s a bit tapering for a male, but neither exceedingly so. Her hair went just below her shoulders, while his was a bit spikier, and thicker overall even if it was shorter. Both where dressed in normal, casual clothes, t-shirts and shorts, fitting for the summer weather. What surprised Anonymous Speed was that they seemed to be a little older than him, despite their apparently lesser amount of experience. Oh well, he supposed you normally didn’t pick when your powers manifested, and there was nothing you could do about that.

“Kitty, Tristian, this is Mr. Baker,” Kamen spoke up as the doors were still sliding a part, placing a hand on the back of both and guiding them to step out. Anon waved at the two before activating his superhuman speed, and to the other three the next second looked like a mud red blurr zig-zagging around them, strong winds blowing against their bodies as the speedster looked over the new arrivals, which died down when he halted in front of the group.

“You might know him as Anonymous Speed,” Kamen added, frowning.

The man, Tristian, nodded and stepped forward, but wasn’t quite as fast as the woman, who came forward with a skip and extended a hand in one motion. “Hi!” she beamed. “Kitty Koneko! But to the world at large, Koneko!” Baker accepted her hand graciously, though internally was groaning. “It’s nice to meet you Charlie!”

“Please don’t call me Charlie,” he replied, trying to sound polite as the handshake ended.

“Oh, alright then, uh...Speed?”

“I swear do you people have a club or-” Anon grumbled, then caught himself, and took a deep breath. “Not that either.”

“Well I can’t call you Anonymous Speed all the time, it’s too long.”

“Yes-!” The speedster gritted his teeth, but calming down, slowly pulled them apart. “Just call me Anon.”

“Uhuh...alright, nice to meet you Anon!” Kitty chirped, bowing slightly for need of another gesture before taking a step back. Anon merely nodded before turning to the other hero, whose eyes followed his companion to make sure it was clear for him to step forth. Seeing that it was, he stepped forth and more formally extended a hand, waiting for Anon to take if before speaking. “Tristian Stewart. It’s good to meet you sir.”

“Mhm, thanks...Shockmaster, right?” the younger of the two men inquired.

“R-right sir, but I’d prefer Tristian,” Stewart admitted, withdrawing his hand and bringing both of them behind his back. “At least, in this setting, if you don’t mind.”

“Mhmmmm,” the speedster mumbled, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at this. There was no logical reason, it was a perfectly reasonable demand, but it didn’t cater to his preferences, and thus bothered him. “Tristian then.”

Graciously, quietly, and with a nod, this man who could apparently create electricity stepped back, and now Chief Kamen stepped forward, turning from Anon to the two new arrivals. “I believe the three of you already know me, so I’ll get down to business. Anon, these two will be staying with you.”

“What?” Koneko blurted, the three heroes eyes widening, all of them but Tristian lurching forward in surprise.

Excuse me?” the speedster growled.

“Wait, he didn’t even agree to this?”

“I most certainly didn’t!”

“Relax,” Kamen smirked, laying one hand on a shoulder of either two. “I’ve seen your house, it’s big enough for you three and a few more. Remember that they’re only here temporarily, and will need a place to stay. And if either of you want to stay in a hotel, you can.” he began, turning his attention to the newer heroes. This news made the two, Kitty mostly, seem to brighten up and calm down.

“But you’ll have to pay for your own rooms.”

Then the brightness went away.

Anon silently mumbled some profanities, and Koneko pouted, though Shockmaster didn’t seem too upset. How bad could it be, staying with two more experienced heroes for a while, even if one wasn’t that much more so? Besides, when Kamen said it was big enough, surely he meant ‘there’s enough beds and bathrooms for all of you’ rather than ‘if you squeeze in like sardines and ration bathroom time, you might just manage’. He might have been a bit of a jerk, as this showed, but he didn’t seem that cruel.

“Fine,” Baker spat, crossing his arms.

“Fine,” Kitty muttered, doing the same.

“...fine,” Tristian added plainly, after an uncomfortable moment of silence.

“Good!” Kamen grinned, clapping his hands together in front of him before handing a paper to Anon. “The details of the program are on here, I’m sure it won’t take you long to read.” The chief slipped by the speedster, towards the metal door. It used fingerprints to unlock it, Kamen’s among them. “I’ll leave the rest for the three of you to sort out!” He called back as he slipped through the door.

This left the three in a slightly bitter silence, broken by a sigh from the youngest, yet most experienced. “Well then...unless either of you want to get a hotel room, and I’m guessing you don’t, we might as well go.” With that, Anon normal-speedily pushed past the two and pressed a button by the elevator.

“I don’t think I can afford a hotel for now…” the lone female muttered.

“Yeah, I’m broke,” her fellow newbie confessed.

“Of course,” the speedster grumbled, using his speed to dart into the elevator just as a wide enough opening presented itself.

“Well, it can’t be that bad,” Shock shrugged, he and Koneko stepping in afterwards. “You have space for us, right?”

“Right, but...I do,” Anon admitted, not really having a counter argument to that. He couldn’t say he used all that space, because he didn’t. He couldn’t say he enjoyed having it to himself, because he only used a few rooms. He couldn’t say the noise would bother him, because sound didn’t bother him, and it was near a noisy place anyway. It really did just bug him for no reason, and since there wasn’t a viable alternative besides giving his own money, which he certainly wasn’t going to do, he’d have to accept it. “Do either of you have a car?” He asked as the door shut. “One here.”

“Yeah.”

“Same here.”

“Good,” the speedster leaned against the wall, letting a more characteristic smirk form. “Try to keep up.”

***

A few minutes later, two cars pulled into the driveway of a rather expensive looking two story house, it’s owner impatiently waiting against a wall. It was quite large, and very new looking. The concrete of the driveway looked bright and fresh, as were the walls of the structure. It was like a stubby, bolded L in shape, a garage no one was using the protruding shorter side. A rather large wood patio, encompassed by screen walls, stretched out to both ends of the building. The windows of the first floor where rather standard, but on the second the longer end had none, while the shorter end had them for walls, revealing what seemed to be a lavish living room. Both Koneko and Steward pulled over in the driveway, and stepped out their sedans, red and dark blue respectively, awed.

Shortly after, a burst of wind indicated the arrival of their host. He’d put his mask back on for the trip, and has yet to take it back off. “I said keep up,” he remarked as his guests approached, smirking under the mask.

“It’s...bigger than I was expecting…” Kitty let out.

“Yeah, I know, I said that when I saw it too,” Anon answered, turning back towards the building.

“How did you afford this?” Tristian asked, glancing over at the other two as he actually headed towards the door.

“Donations, it’s how you make money doing this,” the speedster replied, heading off after him with Kitty following soon after. “Don’t you guys get donations?”

“Well, yeah,” Stewart started, “but-”

“Never this much…” Koneko finished.

“Heheh, well, advantages of living in a city with a high median income.”

A short walk later and the three entered the house, it’s inside as impressive as it’s out. It was expansive, decorated with a minimum of furniture, a kitchen and dining room to the left, a hall of rooms to the right. Most notably, the middle of the foyer contained a large, suspended staircase, twice turning ninety degrees on the way up, a two poles supporting it and nothing more. Though Shock and Kitty did look around a bit, they didn’t seem quite as awed now at they did outside.

“Welcome! To...my home,” Anon turned around on his heel to face the other two, starting his introduction strong but quickly losing steam. “So, yeah...it’s mine, there are guest rooms over there,” he began, pointing towards the hall. “There are bathrooms also over there, don’t break anything...yeah, and don’t touch my stuff. TV is upstairs. Any questions?”

“No sir,” Shock said with a small nod.

“Nuhuh,” Kitty added with a notably larger one.

“Lovely,” the speedster acknowledged, zipping over to the base of the stairs in a blur. “You two go and unpack, or whatever. I don’t know, you guys can pick your own rooms.” Anon shrugged. A moment later, he was gone, another blur rushing up the stairs in just under a second. Shortly after, the sound of commercials could be heard from above.

“...well, at least he doesn’t seem mad,” Tristian remarked, looking up towards the top of the stairs.

“Nope, at least not really mad,” Koneko said, shaking her head. “Well, I was expecting a hotel room or something, so I have some stuff I need to go buy. Do you need to go get anything?”

“Hm? No, I’m good, you go without me,” Stewart answered, turning to the girl and then towards the stair base. “I’ll unpack later.”

“Alright, you have fun here then,” the woman shrugged, turning back to the door and heading out, while her male companion turned towards the stairs began the slow trek up.

***

“So...what are you watching?” Shockmaster asked as he came up the stairs, finding Anon without his mask up again.

“The Food Network,” his host dismissively answered, paying little mind as Tristian took a seat next to him on the leather couch, his hands folded in his lap.

“Don’t you want to change out of the suit?” the elder man inquired.

“No, why would I? There’s still daylight,” Anon said with the slightest tilt of the head. “I might need to go out and do something.”

“You could take a car.”

“I can outrun a car.”

That seemed to end the conversation, with both rotting their brains in front of the screen, neither intending to actually cook any of the recipes being explained to them. For some number of minutes, the two were silent. It was just over half an hour after Kitty had left when a small device on a table on Anon’s side began to beep, an orange light flashing on top. Tristian hadn’t really noticed it until now, but now that the device was beeping looked over curiously. Glancing over, Anon smiled to himself and got up, picking up the device as he did so, and began to look at a screen on it. Shock stood up a moment later.

“What is it?” he asked.

“That’s a call to action, newbie,” Anon answered. “Looks like there’s a problem at the Yard.”

“The Yard?”

“You don’t know about the yard?” the speedster gave a quick glare as he placed the device down. “Didn’t they give you a pamphlet or something?”

“Well, they did, but it was mostly about museums, history, you-”

“Got it, tourist stuff,” the younger of of the two interrupted, heading towards the stairs and pulling his mask back on. “Those lazy bums, didn’t even make you your own pamphlet,” he mumbled, mostly to himself but certainly loud enough to be heard. “How am I supposed to teach you people stuff if I have to explain other stuff?”

Without needing to be asked, Shocked followed the more experienced hero towards the stairs. “See Shock, the Yard is where they keep a bunch of fancy supplies which are too big, dangerous and or expensive to put in other places, and it’s pretty well defended, so you know what trouble there means?”

“Time to suit up?” Stewart asked as the two made their way down the stairs.

“Very good sir!” Anon pointed to the sky for a moment in recognition of this correctness, sauntering down while his companion moved with greater urgency, eventually going ahead of him. “And now you see why I wear the suit during the day.”

The two continued down to the front door, Anon pulling out a key and unlocking it once they arrived, his hand moving in a blur. “Alright, you go suit up and lock up when you’re done,” he said, turning to Shock and tossing the key in the air. The speedster continued as the other hero fumbled with the key in the air for a bit before finally grabbing onto it. “I’ll go ahead and scout it out.”

“Wait, can’t you just, carry me or something?”

“No, you’re too heavy, and you need a proper speed suit to do it safely. Now, the Yard’s on Farr Street, it’s pretty hard to miss. Bye bye.” As he said this, Anon opened the door and stepped out. Waving, he closed the door, and a low rattling could be heard as he took off again.

***

Another twenty minutes or so later, Steward’s car pulled onto a dirt parking lot. Anon had been right, it really was hard to miss, if not impossible. Farr Street was located on the outskirts of town, so there was very little along it aside from the Yard, and even then it would be noticeable. It was located in the middle of a large clearing half-encircled by distant forests, most of it covered in grass. The Yard, however, was void of grass. Instead, the ground was packed reddish clay soil, like a lighter, browner version of Anon’s suit. Along the front was a patch which was empty aside from a few parked cars, Tristian’s now among them. Along the sides, and presumably the back, were miscellaneous objects, pipes and containers, organized in piles and in stacks. That was not what made the Yard so noticeable, no, Shock had noticed that well before driving into the dirt lot.

In the middle of the soil rectangle stood what could be be described as a fortress. Four metal walls forming a rectangle, a few hundred feet long and at least two stories tall, topped with barb wire. At each corner stood a tower, protruding slightly from the structure. A large metal door stood front in center, a few meters in from of Shock’s car, bolted shut. When Anon had said it was well defended, he hadn’t been kidding. The fact that it could be robbed seemed hard to grasp. Suddenly, a wind blew against Tristian’s face. A cloud of dust was stirred up, and a dusty speedster stood in front of him.

“Huh, what was that, fifteen, twenty minutes? Not bad, guess I don’t live so far from here though,” Anon remarked, arms crossed. He took a moment to glance over Shockmaster’s outfit whilst the latter processed the sudden arrival. It wasn’t to complicated, and more rubbery while Anon’s was more like leather. It also wasn’t full body, leaving his hands and head exposed. It did at least include goggles, one’s of a sea green color with black lenses, though they were currently on his forehead instead of over his eyes. His black hair was still exposed and no less spiky. The suit itself was also sea green, covering the rest of his body aside from a few other details. Black boots was one, neon blue stripes where another. A pair of such stripes, shaped like flattened Vs, appeared below his arms on his abdomen. There was one more, straighter, at the end of each wrist. “Hm, not a bad suit Shock.”

“Tristian, please,” the elder of the two requested, stepping towards the fortress. “Someone broke...into this?”

“Yep, through the north-east wall,” Anon explained, turning towards the massive structure and pointing to his left. “Welp, come on them, we’re wasting daylight.”

A dust cloud rose and fell as the speedster bolted off once more, leaving Shockmaster coughing before wordless charging after. Thankfully the jog wasn’t so long, so it didn’t take too horribly long to catch back up. What he saw next surprised him. In the middle of the wall, which had seemed impenetrable, was a rather sizable hole, maybe eight feet up and across. “Oh…” he let out, slowing to a halt next to the speedster.

“Yeah, the hole’s more impressive than the goons,” Anon noted, arms crossed. “Four dudes, basic firearms, nothing special on them. Easy to take out.”

“...uhuh. Well...they could have used a bomb. If they blew the wall open the bomb would be gone, right?” Tristian glanced over at his companion, who didn’t look away from the hole.

“No, they didn’t bomb this,” the speedster began, sauntering to the opening. Taking the cue, Shock followed behind him. Both stopped upon reaching the leftmost edge of the gap. “Touch the metal.” This was met with a quizzical glance. “Just do it.”

Shrugging, Stewart did as ordered of him and reached out to the outer wall near the opening, and a spark escapes his fingers as he quickly withdrew his hand from the metal. “It’s cold,” he said with a glance at his companion.

“Exactly!” Anon answered with an affluent point to upwards. “So obviously, it wasn’t like a bomb.”

“So...someone froze it and shattered it?”

“Seems probable.” Baker stepped back and glanced around the entrance. “So, those four dudes probably weren’t it.”

“Well, the person with the ice could have left after breaking open,” Shoch suggested, turning to the man.

“No, no, there’s six sets of foot prints.” Anon stepped forward again and pointed to the ground, Tristian glancing in that direction to find that to indeed be the case. One set was much better defined looking than the others, with the other five being much softer and sprinkled with dust. “One for me, four for the goons, one more. That one goes cold.”

There was a brief silence as each of the two stared at something. For Shock, it was the place where the footprints split up, which he shuffled over to and knelt by. For Anon, this was the labyrinthine mess of stacked metal, organized in steps reaching high into the air, like towers or monuments, a mess in which someone was hiding.

“So that means there’s one more person rogueing about in there,” the latter mumbled.

“...those four goons were guys, right?” the former asked.

“Huh? Yeah, why?”

“Then we’re probably looking for a woman,” the Tristian concluded, one hand hovering over a certain set of footprints.

“How do you figure that?” the speedster asked, tiptoeing around the set of footprints to get a better view of what Shock was examining, kneeling down in front of him.

“The size of the print,” Tristian exclaimed. “If you take a closer look, the footprints in this set are about an inch shorter than the others.”

“Huh…” Baker nodded slowly and got to his feet. “Sharp eyes, Shhhhristian,” he complimented, almost catching himself with the name. “So, we’re looking for a woman, probably able to freeze and smash stuff, in a gigantic maze of scrap metal. Hooray.”

“Well, it’s not exactly scrap at least.” Both heroes looked out towards the stacks which filled the Yard, which did indeed seem to be more well-organized random devices than rusted, razor edged junk. “So it’s not too dangerous on it’s own.”

“Fair enough, I suppose the chance of getting technis is lower,” Anon answered, sauntering towards the center.

“Technis?” Shock began, following.

“Technis, tetanus, whatever,” the speedster shrugged. “So, yeah. We start searching now.”

“Right, and if we find this woman, do we get the other?”

“Eh, I think we’ll be fine.” Baker stopped and looked about, Stewart stopping beside him and glancing over the area as well. “Just ambush them or something.” Then, a blur darted off deeper into the Yard, kicking up a cloud of dust with a characteristic woosh. Shockmaster coughed and fanned away the dust. “I really wish he’d say when he’s going to do that,” he grumbled, charging into the labyrinth himself.

***

Woosh

“No,”

Woosh

“No,”

Woosh

“What-do-you-NO!”

Scenes like that continued on for a fair bit of time, as Anon glanced around each corner he came across, climbed each tower and scanned from every point. Due to his abilities, this didn’t take much time at all, allowing him to take a more methodical approach, starting at the north-east and making his way down the line. It had only been a few minutes and yet he’d checked a third of the Yard, and was already impatient. “Sheesh...monotony monotony,” he sighed, looking about again. “This is probably not the most effective way to search for this person…maybe if I had some thermal imaging goggles. Yeah, note to self, install thermal imaging goggles…”

***

Shock slowly peaked his head around another corner, kneeling behind one of countless abandoned devices, only to see a dirt path with walls of yet more miscellaneous gizmos. His approach was far more organic, going from one corner to another on a hunch, peaking around, anxious to see what or who might lie around each corner. However, being occupied with the search any curiosity he might have had about these devices was suppressed. Swiftly rounding the corner and hugging the wall, Stewart tip toed down, his eyes peeled for anything before or behind him. He came to the next corner and peaked around, and this time noticed something interesting, a small glimmer on the ground.

Glancing about, he slowly stepped into the floorless hallway, and cautiously trecked forward, his eyes darting about all around him. He hadn’t heard anything, but that didn’t mean there was nothing there, or that it wasn’t something quite. One foot went in front of the other with care, almost soundless, as Tristians breathing grew lower and slower, his own breathing and the light sound of his own footsteps all he could hear in the silence he induced. He continued forward, waiting for something to make its presence known. As he approached the shining ground, he soon noticed what it was, a patch of ice.

He stopped in place for a moment, holding his breath. They were looking for someone with something ice based, and this was quite the apparent tell. Tip toeing along, hugging the wall beside him, Tristian came closer to the ice, which went from the ground into a gap in the metal. He knelt down, just barely on the ice, and peered around the corner again to find a ramp of ice moving up from the ground over a handful of gadgets, leading up to the next ‘floor’ on top of such items, topped with a large sheet of plywood. Though the slope was icy, it was not particularly steep. While it would be harder to try and sneak up, Shock figured that it was a lead worth pursuing, and slowly stepped up the ramp, holding his hands out to balance him. As he came to the top his eyes shot around. Nothing, aside from more materials stacked on top of each other, and more plywood separating the layers. However, there seemed to be a similar ramp opposite the one he’d come up, a strip of ice going over the makeshift floor and connecting to two.

Quickly, Tristian stepped off onto dry wood with a thump, wincing slightly. Still, no sign he’d been seen or heard. Darting to one end of the pile he now sat on, he peaked around the corner, seeing nothing again. Still, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t find anything from a different angle, so he leaped down to the clay earth once again and continued to nose around the junk-walled corridors. He traversed one more before hearing a familiar voice shouting at the top of its lungs.

“Agh! Son of a-MOTHER!”

“Crap, Anon!” With the sound coming behind him, Shock turned around and bolted down the path and around a few corners until he found his speedier companion, picking himself up from the ground a short distance away from the first patch of ice. “...you slipped and fell on the ice?”

“My my, aren’t you just so perceptive!” the speedster snapped, dusting himself off.

“What happened to your super perception?”

“I wasn’t paying attention, alright?” In response to Anon’s growling, Tristian decided to change subjects.

“So, we have ice at least,” he remarked.

“I sort of noticed,” the younger countered, now fully straightened on his feet.

“Well, that’s a good sign, right? It’s a trail, at least.”

A sigh escaped the speedster. “I suppose so. And where there’s a trial...you follow it.” With that Baker began his walk towards the end of the stack he was headed to before being rudely interrupted by inanimate ice. Tristian followed after, taking a leaping step over the frozen ground. A light slap was heard as Anon brought his hands to his face and dragged them down. “Of course, that’s hoping they didn’t hear me and run off...blegh…”

Though the Shock had tried to be sneaky, Anon completely forwent that in favor of storming straight down the path, stomping around the corner with mild frustration in every step. Barely had he gone forward from there when a sound caught his eye, a sort of...beaming sound, to which he stopped to listed. His companion tiptoed up to him before stopping to listen himself.

“Well, that might be what we’re looking for,” the speedster smirked under his mask, turning to his new ally. “I’ll go on ahead.” Ready for it this time, Tristian shut his eyes and covered his mouth to protect from the sudden dust cloud, and shook himself off before pursuing Anon at normal speed.

***

It didn’t take long for Baker to find his target, standing atop another sheet of plywood covering a layer of assorted devices about five feet off the ground, pressed against one of the long walls. There was another ice ramp leading up the stack, and the ice-user seemed to be creating more ice on the wall itself, by sending forth a light blue flurry from her hands, which shone brightly in the sun. Perhaps because she’d heard the sonic boom his running made, perhaps because Anon’s earlier scream had alerted her of his presence and made her cautious, perhaps because she was frantic in the first place, the woman quickly glanced over her shoulder to see the speedster, the harshness of her glare indiscernible at the distance Baker stood. What was discernable was the lack of a formal costume, which really wasn’t a surprise; Few people had the know how to make their own, so villains typically had to forgo them. In the case of this woman there did seem to be some attempt at a makeshift one though. She wore a short sleeve dress of an icy blue color which matched the frost she’d been firing, and a belt of black cloth around her waist matched the color of her long hair.

“What are you doing here?” The woman blasted, pivoting to face the speedster. She very clearly didn’t expect an answer, as no sooner had she finished then shot out a hand, sending forth a brief stream of some light blue substance towards Anon. This was dodged, from his perspective at least, by simply walking out of the way, leaving the ice blast to hit the ground and leave another patch of it frozen.

“Well that’s not a very warm welcome.” Baker was sure to puff out his chest, feigning offense at this woman’s greeting.

“Quiet!” Another stream of ice, and another short walk to avoid it.

“Come on! I gave you a comeback on a platter there!” This time is almost seemed like he was offended at the opportunity to belittle him being passed up, as he threw his arms out and spoke in what sounded like actual exasperation.

“SHUT UP!” A third blast of ice, a third patch of frozen ground, a third short. Now, three patches of ice laid along the ground, each about a meter wide and a meter apart. “Stop dodging!”

“I would be amazed if you gave me a good reason why!”

“Because I said so!”

The fourth time is not always the charm, as is the case here. Realizing that if he just kept dodging the whole ground would become frozen over, Anon wisened up and decided to actually take the offensive. This time, when he moved out of the way of the ice, he rushed towards the sender, being careful as he went up the ice ramp. Given the nature of this speed, this was something he was able to do, and he approached the woman the same way he avoided her attacks, by walking at super speed. What to her was a blur, which rushed behind her and threw her to the ground before she could respond, to him was a casual walk, ending in a light, one hand push. This was generally how he attacked if he needed to, his body and suit weren’t resilient enough for a full super sonic punch, and against someone without armor, the force would probably be lethal.

Moments later, Shockmaster rounded the corner to the scene. He’d scurried over towards the sound of yelling, though hadn’t exactly payed the most attention to what was actually being said. Now that his vision confirmed nothing had gone ary though, he was able to behold the pettiness of it.

“That’s a terrible reason,” Anon began, his voice flowing with smugness. One might not have been able to see the smirk through his mask, but guessing it’s existence would have been easy. “Oh, Shock, Tristian, friend!” he greeted, catching a glimpse of him in his peripherals. Turning towards him, the speedster threw his arms out and up in an extravagant pose, taking confident strides towards the woman he’d brought down. Neither male noticed her start to get up. “You just missed my incredible victory!”

Wordlessly, Stewart stepped towards the display, his eyes on the poser. “Is that it?” he asked, stopping a few meters short of the two on the dirt level below.

“Yep. What can I say,” Anon began, putting his hands up in very obviously feigned humility. “I’m pretty fast.”

“Uhuh...so what now?”

“Well,” the younger began, his attention on nothing and his companion’s attention on him. “I suppose now that the easy part is done, we just-BYAG!” Suddenly, Anon felt something grip onto his lower leg, and equally suddenly a painful sensation shoot through it, a bitterly cold, freezing pain. In response his head shot down, revealing what his nerves had already told him, the woman had grabbed his leg and iced it. The afflicted limb attempted to recoil, and did so without resistance as the woman leg go and performed a crawling-jumping hybrid off the stage. He attempted to start after her after processing what had happened, but tripped over his own leg from the misery of trying to use it. Had he not been able to painless move his arms, he probably would have landed flat on his face.

“You insolent...idiots!” the woman shouted, scampering away from the two. Tristians attention had been directed at his injured companion, but was now drawn to the person he should probably be chasing. “I swear, I’ll be the one to surprise you next time! This trespass will not go unpunished!” A complex of some type was quite evident in this woman, who was now retreating from an incapacitated man and a complete stranger. “So says Shadowfrost, queen of-” The running woman suddenly stopped and began trembling uncontrollably, trying to place another step only to misplace her footing and land on the ground, leaving her in the condition she’d left the speedster, albeit twitchier. In her rambling, she’d neglected to pay Shockmaster much attention, not that it would have helped. In an instant he’d thrown one hand out and send from it a small bolt of electricity, which flew through the air towards it’s target and delivered a taser-like shock.

Tristian lowered his hand as arcs of electricity died down around it, and Baker dragged himself to

the edge of the platform, glancing between the other two. “Huh...” he exclaimed, a bit surprised. “Was that it?” His voice betrayed that he was obviously hurting, struggling at the least,

“Yep.”

“Mhm. Great,” he grumbled, “now we just...wait for the police.”

“Alright, sounds...calm.” Tristian turned his attention to this ‘Shadowfrost’, making movements, yes, but no movement to get up.

“So, what’d ya do?” Anon asked, glancing over at the woman.

“I just shot a weak shock at her,” Stewart answered, looking down to his hand for a moment. “It’s sort of a like a taser, just faster, and with more range.”

“I see...not bad,” the speedster nodded, clearing his throat and speaking again in a more natural voice. “Good job, Tristian. Good job. I’m just gonna...take a nap or something.”

“Oh, thanks. Sure, go ahead,” Shock answered, shrugging as his companion dropped his head on his arm and yawned. As for himself, he just leaned against the wall, keeping his eye on both of the supers around him.

Some number of minutes afterwards, the police arrived on the scene. The Shadowfrost woman was taken into custody, and Anon was taken to a hospital. After the authorities had showed up, Tristian went to his car and retrieved his cell phone. It unfortunately couldn’t be kept on hand while using his powers, since they were liable to mess with the electronics. Two officers carried the drowsy Anon off and another two Shadowfrost, still recovering from the literal shock received. Picking Kitty’s number from his speed number, something the two exchanged as a part of their boarding, he wondered if he’d maybe gone a little too strong with the shock…

“Tristian?” A calm, almost concerned voice came through, breaking the male from his thinking.

“Yeah Kitty-”

What the hell?!” the woman shouted from the other end.

“Wha-”

“Where’d you two go?! You guys just up and left without telling me anything! I’ve been locked out for an hour!

Shock took a moment to recover from that, blinking repeatedly in surprise, and taking a moment to decide how to explain himself. “Alright, first, I was wrong, I should have let you know we were going off. See, there was a robbery-”

***

In Fernston Central Hospital, there was a hospital bed. In the hospital bed, there was a gown. And in the gown was Anonymous Speed, lying under a sheet, his eyes shut, as he rested, slowly slipping away into a slumber, one he felt he quite deserved as, silently, a group of four people entered: Shockmaster, Koneko, Chief Kamen, and a man in a doctor’s coat. The only woman among them skipped over to the lying man, brought her hand over his face, and began snapping over it. “Hey, hi, hero!” She called out.

“I’m trying to sleep, not coming out of a coma,” Anon groaned as he pried open his eyelids, prompting the snaps to stop. His face still had a drowsy look to it through it’s frustration.

“Oh, well, you can sleep later!” Kitty chirped. “These two have some stuff to tell you,” she explained, stepping back and indicating to the doctor and the chief. The latter was the first to speak.

“Thank you Koneko,” Kamen replied with a nod, turning to Tristian. “Young man, you did very well today.” Then, he turned to Anon. “Your leg should be fine.” Then to Kitty. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to fight a villain your first day, I’m sure that was very exciting for you two,” he remarked, glancing between the male heroes.

“Oh, it’s fine sir,” the woman answered with a polite, though maybe a bit cheeky smile.

“Anyway,” Kamen resumed, “I’m sure you’d all like to know who you were dealing with today.” As he spoke, he turned his attention downwards, and opened a file of papers, safe from the wind. “Alicia Zenbiniar, calls her Shadowfrost. Former mental patient, escaped from three different mental wards in the past year. Her last escape was three months ago, and now she shows up able to generate and expel a sub-zero substance from her hand and create ice, very interesting isn’t it? She’s currently under special custody.”

“...she’s gonna be okay, right?” Tristian piped up as Kamen folded the folder.

“Hm? Oh, of course, you didn’t fry her brain or anything,” the chief assured. “That’s a very hero way to think, kid,” he complimented, heading towards the exit and tapping Shock on the head with a pen. “She hasn’t exactly been cooperative with interrogation though,” he continued as he opened the door. “But so far we do have reason to suspect she had more help than those four thugs. It doesn’t seem like they could have shattered that wall, even if they did freeze it. Of course, nothing besides that.” The chief shrugged and stepped out the door. “But I’m sure you three will be able to hand it if whoever it is shows up again.” Then the door closed.

Looking about for a moment, the doctor stepped forward In his hand was a tablet, which he looked down at as he spoke. “Ahem, well Mr. Baker, you should be alright in a few days, you just need to rest, and keep off that leg until then, you can take some painkillers if you need, and...no ice packs.” The doctor chuckled to himself, and looked up from his tablet, towards the disgruntled speedster. Anon obviously didn’t find his joke very funny. “It’s a good thing you were wearing that suit,” the physician continued, more seriously. “If not for its insulation, you might have gotten frostbite.” With that the doctor nodded to each of the three supers, said a quick “have a nice day,” and let himself out.

There was silence for a moment.

“So, a sixth person?” Kitty whispered, as Anon returned to his original position.

“I guess,” her fellow visitor replied. “Weird, there were only five sets of footprints when I got there, beside’s Anon’s…”

“Yeah, that is pretty-” Koneko’s answer was cut of by the faint, but distinctly rising sound of laughing in the background. Both she and Tristian turned towards the source of the sound, Anon’s bed. Lying with his hands over his stomach, the guttural chuckling grew into semi-hysterical laughter. The less experienced heroes stared at him.

“Heheh, ah, forgive me, please, I’m probably on something right now,” he explained, resting his head on the pillow. “I told you,” Anon tittered in an almost mumbling manner. “All the time. Ya gotta wear the suit.”

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I'm gonna forget if I don't do this now.

Title: A Traitor's Worth

Universe: Archanea, Chapter 12x

Characters: Backstory's in my sig, one of which featured a certain group of boys totally not named after candy. . . :P:

Word count: ~2075

Other stuff: People die when they're killed

Time taken: About two hours (in other words, this should be a draft, but I don't know if I'll have time to edit tomorrow)

The sun's light slowly woke the soldiers, who had slept soundly thanks to yesterday's forced march. A young man, who was at the awkward stage between childhood and adulthood, held a carrot up towards his horse. The horse gleefully snatched the carrot, not paying any mind to its rider's fingers.

"H-hey, easy there!" the boy exclaimed, jerking his hand away from his horse's mouth, before using his salvaged hand to brush his green bangs away from his matching green mask.

"Oh, morning to you too," another boy said in passing. Unlike the one that nearly had his fingers bitten off, this one was nowhere near adulthood. His curly red hair framed an equally red mask.

"You always up this early, Red?" The aptly-named Red chucked lightly.

"The horses won't feed themselves. Of COURSE I'm always up this early, Green!" The sound of someone's throat clearing caught their attention.

"We will reach our enemy's base of operations today," the newcomer announced, his long blond bangs obscuring his yellow mask. Two more figures approached as well. Though they both had purple hair, one wore a purple mask, while the other wore an orange mask which garishly clashed with his hair.

"We'll beat 'em, whatever happens!" the one with the purple mask announced heartily. He was broader than the rest of his comrades, and taller by nearly a hand.

"Pfft, as if there was any doubt," the one with the orange mask sneered, his voice cracking.

"Don't forget our introductions! Remember how hard we worked on them!" the one with the yellow mask reminded them.

"How could I forget?" Green groaned.

"What a surprise, since you didn't say a word during rehearsal," the orange-masked boy complained.

"That's because YOU wouldn't shut up," Green snapped.

"Peace, you two."

"Yes, Yellow," both of them said together. The frowns on their faces betrayed their apology.

"This is the territory of an Archanean knight. Red and Green, scout ahead and see how many enemies we face. Purple, you'll need to cause mayhem up front, while Orange snipes from behind. I'll do my best to set their leader on fire." The four who were named nodded at the plan.

"Let's go!" four voices cheered in unison. Green scowled and remained silent.

Idiots.

---

"It looks like there's pirates mixed in with the traitor's forces," Red said, out of breath. "Green's holding 'em off, but he won't last forever."

"Thanks for the update, but why is he the one out there?" Yellow asked.

"He said something about wanting to work the kinks out, whatever that meant. Must've been boring in that jail cell," Red mused.

"We Skittles aren't meant to work alone. I'll get the others and move to where you guys are." Red nodded, and spurred his horse forward.

"Purple, Orange, we've got pirates! The traitors won't harm their own citizens, but the pirates might. They're our first priority!" Yellow yelled at the two next to him.

"I don't care WHAT we shoot, as long as we slay evil!" Orange said, a little too gleefully.

"Citizens? Oh, there's probably some lovely ladies waiting for their hero to show up. Here I come!" Purple yelled, running in the opposite direction that Red had trotted off.

"Er, Purple, it's the other way!" Yellow yelled, before heading in the right direction.

"Yeah, I knew that."

---

"I'm ba--whoa, where'd the pirates go?" Red asked, looking at the empty battlefield.

"They've been skirting around me," Green replied, pointing towards one that didn't quite make it past the mountains.

"How thoughtful of you to leave one for me," Red mused, as his lance ended the miserable cretin's life.

"Huh. So that's why they've been avoiding me. And here I thought it was because I didn't get the musty prison smell out of my hair." Green motioned towards the mountains, where the pirates had regrouped. They moved as one towards the pair. From the shore, another group moved towards them.

"Yellow and the others had better get here soon, or we'll be flanked," Red stated.

"You're really reliable, you know that?" Green said sarcastically.

"Why thank you," Red replied, no hint of having noticed the sarcasm.

"Red, Green, report!" Yellow huffed, briefly leaning against a nearby tree.

"There's pirates to the left and pirates to the right. You arrived right before we would've been flanked," Red said, motioning towards the two groups.

"Come a little closer, so I can pin you to a tree," Orange taunted the pirates, his threat losing most of its edge when his voice cracked.

"For the ladies--OOOF!" Purple rubbed his side, where Yellow had elbowed him.

"All together now!"

"I am the Yellow Skittle, leader of the Skittles!"

"I am the Red Skittle, second in command!"

"I am the Orange Skittle, smiter of evil!"

"I am the Purple Skittle, defender of ladies!"

"....."

"Hey, Green, say something," Orange hissed. "Or I'll plant an arrow in your horse's butt."

"Scallion."

"That's not a proper introduction!" Purple protested.

"I said something," Green stated stoically.

"Are the pirates laughing at us?" Red asked, pointing towards the two groups, who held their sides (and not their axes).

"Now's our chance! GO!" Yellow yelled.

Red struck first, his lance finding the nearest pirate who'd dropped his axe. Green rode in the other direction, his lance leaving a nasty gash on his target's arm. Unfortunately, it was his target's off-arm, and only a last-minute swerve saved Green's horse's legs from being sliced. Purple bellowed and charged the first enemy, who just so happened to be the one pirate who had chosen to hold on to his weapons. Any hopes for a fair fight evaporated as one of Orange's arrows grazed the pirate's face. While the bewildered pirate searched for the source of the arrow, Purple cut his head (and his life) short. Yellow took a second to analyze the field, before fumbling out a different book. Several of the water-borne pirates noticed this, and swam towards the seemingly-helpless spellcaster. With a slightly out-of-place giggle, the leader of the Skittles finished his spell. A thunderbolt struck the water, stunning the entire group enemies. Purple quickly set to work relieving the dazed pirates of the burden on their shoulders, while Orange and his bowstring merrily hummed.

"Pirate clean-up complete," Red sang, as the last pirate slid off of his lance.

"Good work everyone. Now, we must find the traitor and bring him to justice!" This time, the five boys moved as a group towards the imposing armored figure in the middle of the battlefield, whose armor still shone in the midday sun.

---

"You must be Horace, the traitor," Red said accusingly. The armored figure said nothing.

"Why did you stand by as your territory was being overrun by pirates?" Yellow asked. Silence answered him.

"So, which villages have the cutest girls?" Purple tried. No response from the armored figure.

"We're going to enjoy bringing YOU to justice~!" Orange said far too enthusiastically.

"Huh, interesting," Green mused to no one, his gaze fixed on something in the distance.

"Well, the traitor has nothing to say for himself. Skittles, get ready!" Yellow yelled.

"I am the Yellow Skittle, leader of the Skittles!"

"I am the Red Skittle, second in command!"

"I am the Orange Skittle, smiter of evil!"

"I am the Purple Skittle, defender of ladies!"

"....."

"Dammit, Green," Orange growled.

"We're wasting our time here," Green replied, pointing towards the castle. The rest of the army seemed to be situated near the castle's gate.

"But the traitor's over here," Red protested.

"Fine, fine," Green grumbled. He spurred his horse forward, lance at ready.

TINK!

Green dropped his lance, as his horse balked at the sudden stop. His hands tingled from the impact. The armored figure's armor sported a small scratch.

"No, you need to put some effort into it. Like this!" Red yelled, using the exact same move Green had attempted.

TINK!

The armor sported a slightly larger scratch from Red's attempt. Red flexed his fingers as he transferred his lance to his off-hand.

"Man, you guys suck," Orange complained, loosing one of his arrows.

TINK! THUNK!

The arrow had lodged itself neatly where the figure's abdomen should be, before falling out. This time, the armor showed a noticeable dent.

"Must I do everything?" Purple muttered, unsheathing his sword. He thought he heard a chuckle from the armored figure, but struck anyway.

TINK! TINK! TINK!

"Not even a scratch," Yellow observed. "But can that armor protect against the elements?" As Yellow finished his spell, he saw the armored figure throw his lance skyward. The thunderbolt hit the airborne lance, and arced harmlessly elsewhere. Much to the Skittle's surprise, the armored figure took off his helmet and shook out his hair.

"Is that ALL your capable of? You five were lucky you didn't die out there!" the man lectured.

"Many times over?" Orange growled, another arrow at ready.

"Give it a rest, kid. You guys won already. Name's Horace, and the rest of your army's cleaned out the filth that had been in my castle." The man pointed towards the castle, where Marth's flag fluttered in the wind.

"Huh. So you're surrendering? How boring," Orange grumbled, as he lowered his bow.

"YOU," Horace ordered, pointing at Green, "are completely off-balance when you're on horseback. Learn how to ride before trying to wield a weapon."

"Well EXCUSE ME for being a little bit rusty after spending two years cooped up in a jail cell," Green shot back.

"You're better on horseback than the green-haired guy," Horace told Red, "but your style doesn't allow you to make full use of your horse's mobility."

"You're an armored knight. How do you know this?" Red demanded.

"It comes with the job, kid. I need to evaluate my own knights, which means that I'd best know what to look for in a soldier. And you with the sword! Your fighting style is more suited for someone in armor, like me." Purple sputtered in response.

"You're the most competent out of the bunch," Horace continued, "but you need to learn when to use which spell. The thunderbolt that you aimed into the lake was a good tactical decision. However, it's trivial to deflect, if I can see it coming. Fire and ice are better options against an armored opponent."

"Thank you for the lesson," Yellow said sagely.

"Huh, you guys all suck," Orange gloated.

"Oh, I saved you for last for a reason, pipsqueak. You spend far too much time nocking an arrow, and your form is terrible. If you're going to represent the legendary Skittles, you WILL do it right, and I don't care if it takes all night!"

"You are a valuable ally indeed, Horace. Very well. Everyone else, let's report to Marth," Yellow ordered. The non-bow-wielding Skittles waved merrily.

"I hate you all," Orange whimpered.

---

From a distant tower, a lone figure stared into a scrying globe. Through its magic, she saw the sun cast its dying rays onto the field, and a lone Skittle and another man near a tree, which sported a few arrows in its trunk.

"Oh my Skittles, you've got a long way to go. But only I can unleash your full potential. If all of you work together, you'll be unstoppable," she said softly.

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I MADE IT!

Title: Prelude

Universe: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Characters: Loki, Vision, Wanda Maximoff, Clint Barton, Thor. (among some others)

Word Count: 2972
Other Junk: I like Ragnarok. (also if one hasnt seen Age of Ultron, things might be confusing as hell)

Time Taken: Too long for a rush job.

"No, I won't let you do it again! One of us will die first!" He squirmed in his restraints, the straps tightening around his wrists. "And I'd much rather it be you!" How delicious, how hilarious. Clint Barton's red face twisted in a defiant glower. His eyes fixed directly on the smiling figure in front of him.
"Oh no, dear Barton, I am afraid no one will die tonight. Especially not me," the figure answered. Barton began to wriggle again, but Loki only laughed harder. "I have something else in mind. But first, you are going to tell me some things..." his voice trailed off as if he was listening to something else. Loki's brow furrowed in confusion. "First question, Barton, where did it go? You know what I am referring to," Loki stopped there, the ringing in his ears came again. This time, blocking out his hearing so all he saw was Barton's indignant mouth form what looked like a foul word. Loki's head shook as if to make his ears work again.
"If you mean Vision, why the hell would I tell you," Barton's voice finally seemed to return. "Why are you asking me this anyway?" Loki smirked at this attempt at digging into his own motives.
"Hmm. I see. That is...unfortunate. I know that your little cabal has been researching the strange corralation between strange events and Stark's new pet. And it seems that there is something quite odd going on lately. Something that demands explanation." Loki's patience was wearing thin. Barton began speaking again, but Loki wasn't paying attention. Something was nagging at him, something strangely familiar. What is that, I know this do I not? What...
"Answer me, Loki!" Barton screamed. "How is it you are even alive? Thor said you died, and I was damn happy to hear it!"
Loki winced at his brother's name. "Enough. I will not be getting answers this way. You leave me with little choice, Barton. Ahahahah like it matters." Barton shuddered as he watched Loki fade into a mirror image of himself.
"Goddammit! I will feather your ass, Loki! I'll make sure you stay dead!" The other Barton laughed.
"Sleep now. I have a lot of work to do."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I think maybe you should try configuring this to fit his neroreceptors." The girl began moving the wires connected to a figure lying on what appeared to be a gurney.
"Darcy, don't touch that," a second woman yelled, seated at a desk with a great deal of computers. "You'll cross wires!"
The man on the gurney spoke next, "I do not think it is possible to cross wires and reconfigure my A.I." This voice all too familiar. So, there is where it went...Stark's pet.
"See? It's fine. Relax, Jane." Darcy sat down next to Vision, placing her elbows on the gurney. "So like, what's it like being basically a computer anyway?" He began to sit up, but stared forward. "I suppose one would say, 'not bad'" The stone on his forehead shone yellow. The Scepter had had a blue light to it. Is that it's true appearance? All this time, I hadn't the foggiest such a thing was concealed within.
An odd fear gripped Loki as he stood watching the odd man on the gurney. He had almost forgotten about the Other's threat all this time. He may be dead, but his master was not. But seeing the stone within the Scepter out in the open, caused him alarm. Open, alive. He kept his face placid. It would not do for them to notice anything strange. They all believed him to be Clint Barton after all. Barton who was seemingly aiding in research about the strange happenings. He had the one named Natasha explain to "Barton" what Thor had seen and why Vision is connected to all of this. "I don't know why I have to explain it to you again, Clint." She had said to him as he entered the compound. "Honestly, all of this really worries me. We have had a lot of strange reports of sea levels rising all over the globe. The media is claiming climate change, but the rate in which it's happening is just too fast. On top of that, there has been no sign of Bruce." A good sign, he had thought. For some reason, Natasha's face had taken a sad expression. A pretty thing she was with her red hair and bright, sharp eyes. This one is too clever by half. Be careful. She was speaking again, causing him to nearly shake his head. "It's also getting really difficult to get a hold of Stark. He is probably the best option we have in really investigating this, but he's deliberately making himself scarce. And I really don't blame him too much. Still..." she trailed off noticing Barton's expression. "Clint, are you feeling alright?"
"What? Yes, just...a little tired is all." He answered carefully. Careful, indeed. Natasha had raised an eyebrow.
"I see...Well, get some rest. By the way, before Thor left, he called these guys in. They are pretty good. We also have Dr. Selvig coming in to take a look at the sea level issue." She turned to leave but had stopped in the doorway. "Honestly Clint, If this issue really is one of those galactic stones Thor mentioned, we might be screwed. That's why we have that bunch examining Vision. Perhaps to get some clues."
Clues. These were better answers than Barton himself could ever give. Loki had noticed a third woman entered the room. She had dark hair and a striking face. A beauty with a severe expression that softened when she approached Vision on the gurney. "They aren't making you do experiments, are they?" Her voice thick with an accent that made Loki think oddly of a specific castle in what Midgardians called Eastern Europe.
"I quite enjoy these exercises. Besides, I am finding out a great deal of information myself," Vision said. "Do not worry about me, Wanda." The woman scrunched her face in a scowl. "Well, I know what it feels like to be experimented on."
"Please don't worry," Jane Foster said gently. "We wouldn't do anything to hurt him. Right, Darcy?" Darcy was examining two wires that were connected to a device to Vision's left. She appeared to be wanting to place the ends of such wires together.
"Ohh sure...Sure..."
Wanda leaned closer to Vision, "What did you find?" Loki moved closer as well, nearly forgetting himself.
"Oh hi, Hawkeye!" Darcy blurted out. The rest had their eyes all on him now. He found himself smirking at Jane as she said hello and turned back to the screens.
"What did you find?" Loki said turning Barton's big head toward Vision. He was eager to find the source of the occurances. If it is linked to the Scepter, and that stone on that one's forehead...if I get to it first...He tried not to look too eager. Vision seemed to stare up at the ceiling for a moment before speaking.
"I have found there is a strange signal coming from somewhere deep in the Atlantic Ocean," Vision's voice carried on disturbingly like an automated computer. "Several hundred miles east of Puerto Rico."
Wanda spoke next, "Do you know the exact coordinates?"
"I do," he answered. "N 18° 43' 46.2072" Latitude. W 55° 48' 37.9688" Longitude. I reckon a flight would take roughly 6 hours from here."
Loki shifted a bit, "So, when shall we be off?" Suddenly, there were many eyes on him. It was as if he could feel the Barton image being stripped away by their stares.
"Yeah sounds like fun!" Darcy answered.
"You wouldn't be going anywhere, Darcy," Jane snapped. "Neither would I. Although it would be extremely interesting to find out what the ping is."
"Yeah I suppose," Darcy replied with a hint of meloncholy. "Wouldn't want Thor going nuclear again."
"Indeed, not." Loki found himself blurting out. "I mean, that hammer and all..."
Wanda smirked and Loki felt a relief come over him. They still did not suspect. The room became a flurry of activity. Jane Foster and Darcy remained seated. Vision began unhooking the various wires and electrodes from his head, all with an eerie placidity. Wanda began making a call on her mobile phone. Loki overheard the words "S.H.I.E.L.D" and "Helicarrier" being said. Jane handed something to Vision. "It's a camera, so we can monitor you and what you guys find from here."
"Hey, bring me back something cool!"
"Darcy, no." Jane said with a smile.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The plane was comfortable enough, but a little crowded. Flying at a rather high altitude and quickly, Vision steered nicely. Dr. Erik Selvig joined them on the trip. He was typing furiously on a black laptop. His hair looked even thinner than Loki remembered. Wanda was staring at Loki intently. It wasn't the first time he wondered if she could somehow see through the magic. Selvig was speaking rapidly, "Thor should be meeting us there. He said that it was rather important that he be present. He may have an idea on what we are dealing with. Given how he came to me last time," Selvig continued, "a crucial piece of information might reveal itself." Wanda turned, finally taking her eyes off what Loki hoped she still believed to be Barton.
"Does he have any clue what's going on?" She asked.
"He mentioned something about a serpent on Midgard." Selvig answered. This sent a very cold chill down Loki's spine, which he tried desperately to hide.
The sea levels....
The idea of Thor being present wasn't something Loki had been banking on. If it is indeed what I imagine, this lot will be entirely useless to begin with. If anything, Loki wanted to avoid any encounter with his brother. Revealing himself would also be particularly damning. Let us hope it will not come to that.
The plane began descending quickly. Strangely, at the exact coordinates, there was a small islet waiting. Too small to land on, so Vision carefully landed the plane with the float landing gear. The waters were black as the night sky, and Loki looked up as he climbed out of the plane, to see the stars. The islet was made of hewn rock and was more of a cavern than an island. The grey stone got darker and darker as one could peer into a gaping mouth of an opening. Loki began to feel cold and brought Barton's hands up to his arms when a jarringly familar voice struck.
"So you all have arrived. Good," Thor said. His voice always unnecessarily loud. The others began coming out of the plane as well. Dr. Selvig began setting up his electronic devices on the smoothest and largest part of the stone. Wanda tried not to get wet, but failed. Vision just seemed to glide from place to place. After adjusting themselves, and Wanda reaching for a torch, Thor began to speak.
"Inside, is the cause of the strange occurrences of late. The rising of the sea levels, the poisonous clouds over this portion of Midgard, and the disappearances of many vehicles."
Wanda eyed the cavern carefully, "Is it like that stone?" Thor didn't need to ask what she meant by stone. He faced Vision, "No, this time it is not."
It is worse...
It is worse...
Loki heaved Barton's thick legs into the cavern without a word. Thor followed closely, too closely for comfort. "Clint, can you see enough inward?" Thor asked. Loki did not answer. He could not bring himself to speak to his brother, even with another's voice. What was worse, there was an eerily familiar smell emanating from further into the cavern. Pressure mounting in Loki's ears as they went deeper beneath into the very sea itself.
"Why is it dry?" Wanda asked with a quaver in her voice. "This is the ocean, right? I mean, a cave in the middle of the ocean, but who or what made this?"
"You will see soon enough." Loki couldn't help blurting out.
"Something did, indeed make this," Thor answered. "Something large." Just as he was sucking in air to elaborate, an extremely loud hissing noise erupted from just a few dozen feet from where they all stood.
"Get down!" Vision yelled. A rumbling noise was coming and fast. Loki braced himself, as he heard the others scrambling around. Wanda grabbed his arm and pulled him down. A strange reddish glow was coming from her hands and eyes. Loki felt as if the ground itself was swaying and suddenly stopped. Wanda's grip lessened, and she was staring at him with a strangeness in her eyes. "Who---" She began to say, but Loki pushed her aside and began rushing toward the rumbling sound deeper in the cavern.
"Wait! Stop him, stop him! I don't even know who that is!" Her voice echoing off the cavern walls. Loki did not look back. He soon found himself in a strangely familiar place. It appeared almost like a cathedral, giving off a strange green light. This place...
He saw it then, the orb. It was resting on a pulpit-like spire in the center of the cavern. His legs moved mechanically toward it. He realized very quickly that Barton's image was gone and he was himself again. Loki's hands found their place on the green orb. It was moist and cool to the touch. He heard the sounds of the others reaching the cavern's cathedral. A smile crept across his face as he raised the orb.
"You! Who---" It was Wanda's voice again.
"Jormungand," Loki said. He released the orb as it float in the air above him. It began to glow an even brighter green. Bright enough to light the entire cavern. The light took on the shape of a serpent. At first, small and almost weak looking. Then quickly growing to so massive, it seemed it would fill the entire cavern and beyond. The serpent began taking a more solid, physical form.
The sound of thunder crashed behind Loki, as a familiar shape careened past him.
Mjolnir. How...predictable.
Loki moved quickly behind the now solid serpent. Hoping beyond hope that Thor did not catch glimpse of him. Something came shooting out of the area the others were standing. It was a gold light, hot and deadly. It was coming from Vision, and aimed at the serpent. The beast reared and hissed before letting off a strong blast of what looked like smoke.
"The poison!" It was Thor's voice. "Be mindful! It will fell a man in a single moment if made contact!"
"How do we kill it," Wanda shouted. "It's not like a normal beast! I can't manipulate this."
Vision's figure moved in front of her in a protective stance. "This is a being of energy," his voice oddly measured. "One must find the source of the energy to dispel it."
Mjolnir flew past Vision and attempted to strike the serpent again. The creature, irritated, began moving toward the cathedral entrance.
"Perhaps if we find the source, we can control it." Wanda said as she tried to scan the room. Thor had moved with the snake in pursuit.
Seizing his chance, Loki stepped out from behind a spire, "I am afraid that is impossible. No one can control that creature and the magic of this orb, but me." Wanda assumed an attack stance. A swirling red energy emanated from her hands. "Who are you?"
Loki simply smiled, "Nevermind that now."
Vision landed next to her, "I know you." His voice never changing tone.
"Perhaps you do," Loki answered, eyeing the stone on Vision's forehead.
"Where is Clint?" Wanda demanded, that red energy inching ever closer to her target.
"He sleeps far away from here. I had my suspicions as to what was causing so much turmoil on Midgard. However, I did not realize it was this that awakened." Loki looked down at the orb he was holding. "Many strange things have happened of late. Ancient and unknown powers awakening...secrets coming out for all to see. I remember those beings, the Chitauri, speaking of Infinity Stones. But I knew not what it meant. I know now." Loki's eyes narrowed as he glared at Vision. "However, this is not one of them. This...this belongs to me by right."
It was then that Wanda released the red energy. Loki dove quickly away from it. She was more dangerous than he had initially imagined. He must escape the cavern and soon, before Thor notices. The serpent itself had left the cavern. Loki could hear the sounds of waves thrashing and thunder coming from above. Trying to keep his focus and his brother busy, Loki fled. Vision appeared in front of him, blocking the exit.
"I have no quarrel with you," Loki said. "Given how well your power served me, I know what you are capable of. It is not in any of our best interest to fight."
"Perhaps you are correct." Vision answered coolly. He made to grab the orb from Loki's hands.
Loki smirked, "In that case, good bye." As Vision's hands grazed the orb, it vanished, along with the rest of Loki's form.
They will never stop falling for it.
Arriving at the exit, to his relief, Thor was still engaged with the serpent. Dr. Selvig appeared to be unconcious. Loki made for the plane. I have what I need.
As soon as Wanda and Vision emerged from the cavern islet's mouth, Loki was in the air. "Forgive me, brother, but I still cannot meet you yet. I need this. You will see why soon enough..." The image of the serpent faded as Loki stroked the orb. Thor's confusion was delicious to watch as Loki steered the plane far away from the islet and out of view.
"Soon enough..."

Edited by Loki Laufeyson

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Gah, I might not be here at deadline so I'll submit this first without proper proofreading.

Title: Tempestuous Second Sun

Setting: Touhou

Characters: Reiuji Utsuho (Okuu), Hakurei Reimu, Shameimaru Aya, Ibuki Suika, Yakumo Yukari, Komeiji Satori

Words: 4220

Background Information: will fill it in later

[spoiler=Tempestuous Second Sun]It was a long time ago.

Long before my humanoid body developed and before I was capable of human speech. I was just an ordinary baby raven youkai back then. Except I didn't have any parents or family. I think my parents died shortly after I was born, since I was the only Reiuji there. And over here in the wild, a raven youkai without a family would have to undergo pure hell. I had to struggle all on my own, and other ravens would attack me all the time. And they would often leave me seriously injured to the point that I wished I was dead.

This was one of those times. My wing was injured and I couldn't fly. I just lay on the floor, hoping that someone would come and accidentally step on me. But that would never happen. Humans and youkai all knew better than to get involved with an injured raven youkai. They were well aware of how vicious raven parents would be if they were caught with their injured child. Of course, I didn't have a family for them to be concerned about, but they couldn't know that. They'd avoid me anyway. I'm used to it. This has happened many times before.

But this time was different. I could feel two hands carrying me up. I opened my eyes to see the face of a little girl with purple hair. She had a third eye near her chest, connnected through red tubes. Was she a youkai? She looked at me and said, "You don't have a family, do you? There's no one waiting for you to come back..."

I was shocked. How could she have possibly known? She smiled at me and explained. "I'm a satori, so I can read all of your thoughts. In fact, my name is Komeiji Satori. This is my little sister Koishi and my pet cat Rin." Satori showed me towards the girl next to her that was holding a black cat. The other girl smiled cheerfully at me while the cat meowed.

Satori said, "Rin says she wants to play with you. But I guess I should take care of your injuries first. Hmmm, since you don't have a family, would it be okay if I adopt you as my pet, like Rin?"

A pet...? I didn't understand. After all, this was the first time I've ever truly been shown kindness. Satori nodded her head, "Don't worry, I'll show you the meaning of kindness."

She held me tight. "Welcome to the family... 'Okuu'."

That was when I first met Satori-sama. It was right then that I've decided to devote my life towards her.

---

"This doesn't look go- AYA, CAN YOU PLEASE PUT THAT FREAKING CAMERA DOWN???"

I tightened the grip on my gohei, trying to resist the temptation to whack the camera out of Aya's hands. Okay, fine, she is a reporter, and the whole reason why she even wanted to accompany me in the first place was so that she could directly experience the events, and of course, take pictures of everything, all for her newspaper. But, as I watched our adversary soar through the air, releasing fireballs from her flapping wings, I could sense that she was much stronger than all our previous opponents.

I took out a few homing amulets and tossed them, trusting that they'd find their way to the fireballs and dispel them. Aside from the enemy, we even had to deal with the harsh environment deep within the Hellfire Mantle. I had to keep a special amulet active at all times just to keep my body protected from the extreme heat. At least my two companions weren't human and could handle these conditions, but I wish they focused more on the battle.

"Just chill, Reimu", Aya spoke casually, without a trace of concern, "Like, I know that cat told us that... 'Okuu'... intends to destroy the entire surface, but she doesn't seem to be too much of a threat to take down. But hey, at least I'm blowing in wind so you guys can have air to breathe in! Why don't ya complain about the drunken oni instead?"

"Because she's always drunk anyway!" I retorted, "And she fights better when she's drunk too. But you... you may be a crow tengu but how can you expect to fight properly while you're distracted with taking pictures? But... I suppose you're right about Suika." I turned to face the short oni on my left, who was downing her sake gourd, clearly oblivious to the situation around her. "Suika, could you like, stop drinking for a sec-"

"Watch out!" I reflexively turned my head at Aya's yell but I was too slow. A fireball was approaching me and I had no time to react. But just right then, a strong gust of wind blew to the side in front of me, blowing the fireball and steering it away from me.

"Oooooh, who's the one distracted now?" Aya smirked. Gah, this is so frustrating. "Thanks for saving me, but it really wouldn't hurt if you behaved more seriously as well!"

Well, there's no point in complaining about that now. I watched the hell raven, Okuu, as she stopped soaring and stood still about fifty meters away. She probably realizes that we're a threat now. It's my responsibility to resolve the incident and keep her from destroying the surface. I should consider myself lucky to have allies who wanted to tag along. Really powerful ones, too. I just wish they were more serious about this though. Aya just wants her scoop, Suika is always drunk, and Yukari... she left us right before we faced Okuu. Where the hell did she go???

I focused my attention on Okuu, waiting for her next move.

---

I walked out of the boundary gap, and stepped into the Palace of the Earth Spirits. Komeiji Satori was in front of me, sitting on a chair with her back towards me. She didn't even turn to face me.

"So the great Yakumo Yukari decides to come back after beating up my poor Orin. Are you here to gloat?"

"Sorry about your cat, but she had it coming. She was hoping we would beat her if she gave it her all, so that she can feel that the chances that we would be able to survive from engaging Okuu would be a little less hopeless. But let's put that aside, you already know what I'm here for, don't you?"

"Of course, and if I wanted to entertain your request, I would have done so already. Besides, we both know that you can take care of Okuu by yourself. Or wait, are you going to risk the destruction of Gensokyo just so that your adorable shrine maiden won't cry? My, my, it seems you're growing too soft"

Gah, I really hate her mind-reading and I figured that she would just piss me off more if I approached her like this. I can do an excellent job of staying calm and composed in any situation, but she can read all my thoughts anyway so I can't hide anything from her at all. I am the overseer of Gensokyo, and while Okuu is an annoying threat to the state of Gensokyo, she's not really a problem. If I wanted to efficiently take care of her, I could just easily send her to another dimension where she'd never cause any trouble for Gensokyo ever again.

But I can't bring myself to do that. So far, Reimu has been faithfully resolving incidents through very appropriate methods and rarely sought my help. And every time Reimu resolved an incident, she found herself befriending the very people that she fought against. She wants to believe she can achieve a peaceful resolution for this situation as well, by bringing Okuu back to her senses as opposed to eliminating her entirely.

What pisses me off the most is that Satori is completely right. I am growing soft, and she knows it. But I figured the only way I can fulfill Reimu's ideal outcome would be through Satori's help. I already made the decision to approach her, so I can't just give up without any results.

"I have to disagree there. Not giving up will just make you look like an idiot since you already know my decision and nothing you say is gonna change that since I can already read all your thoughts. It's better for both of us if you just give up. Or do you want to kneel down and beg for the impossible?"

Why...? Why is she so insistent on refusing to help me? Okuu is her own pet, I thought she would want to help her...

"Because I'm not stupid, Yukari. You think I haven't tried to calm Okuu down already? I couldn't approach her at all but I was able to read her mind at a distance. She is intent on going berserk with her powers to destroy everyone on the surface of Gensokyo. Trying to approach her is nothing but suicide. Why would I help you fulfill an impossible goal while getting myself killed? I'm just gonna let Okuu have her fun while you guys try to stop her. The results should be interesting."

Looks like Satori is pretty adamant about her decision. I suppose I should give up, after all, since there's nothing I can to change her mind...

Actually, wait a minute, there probably is something I could do...

---

"I can't stay on the surface anymore."

"Why not...?"

"I am hated wherever I go. By humans and youkai alike. They can't stand someone like me who can read their minds. No matter how hard I try, they never accept me..."

"But that's horrible! You are wonderful and amazing, Satori-sama, and it's awful that those humans and youkai would judge you without getting to know you!"

"There's nothing I can do about that. I just need to accept the situation as it is. I'm going to move to the underground instead. Would you two want to come with me?"

"Of course!"

"It might be a long journey. I don't know how deep I want to go underground, but I want to avoid all the youkai down there. Each of you have grown too heavy for me to carry, so you'd have to just walk and fly with me the whole way.

That's fine, don't worry about it. It'd be harder on you than it would be for us. But we're ready to follow you all the way to the center of the earth.

It's all because of them. All those humans and youkai on the surface drove Satori-sama out. She didn't deserve to be exiled like this. They're the ones who should be suffering. Not her.

I looked ahead of me at the three figures. They came from the surface and they seem to insist on stopping me. They should be punished too.

I raised my arm cannon. Let's see how they can handle the power of nuclear fusion!

---

This is gooooood. I poured more sake into my mouth. Hmmm, Reimu hasn't had any since we came here. Maybe I should offer her some sake again.

"Reimuuuuuu-" I stopped as I saw Reimu's face, with her mouth open and her eyes wide. This... isn't good. Is she scared? I turned to look at what she was facing. It was a big, brightly glowing... ball. Reimu kept throwing all her paper on the ball but nothing happened. She's... in trouble, isn't she? She's even trying to fly away now...

No! I don't know what's happening but I can't let that giant ball scare Reimu away. I flew in front of Reimu... and punched the ball! So hot! With my oni strength, it should have been blown away. But... it didn't. It got pushed back a few meters and then came back towards me.

I need to protect Reimu. Back when I first left the underground and came to the surface, I've met a lot of humans. But these sneaky humans were always lying and deceiving others. I hated that. But Reimu was different. She was always honest and straightforward. She would bluntly speak out her mind without reservation. I've always admired that about her. And since then, I became really fond of her. I came with her to protect and help her. I would be betraying my word if I allowed her to fall here.

"Increase the sparseness" I think that was the annoying crow tengu's voice. Then I heard Reimu's voice. "Split it up". I knew what I needed to do. As the ball approached me, I went ahead to punch it again. Except this time I also used my power to... split it up.

The ball then got smaller and smaller...? I wasn't expecting that. Some wind blew it away. Good, Reimu should be safe for now... No, wait, there are more giant balls coming from the same direction! Along with a bunch of... fireballs. I'm sure that behind all of those must be the culprit that's trying to hurt Reimu. I need to stop whoever it is!

Reimu gave her instructions. "Suika and Aya, take care of the suns. I'll handle the fireballs" The big balls are... suns? Anyway, Reimu entrusted me with a clear task. The three of us can work together and crush this coward hiding behind the balls.

"Alright!" I charged ahead, splitting up the 'suns' in my way. I tried to ignore their heat. They kept getting smaller and blown away by wind. I kept pushing forward. Reimu would be safe as long as I keep fighting!

That's when I saw her. The enemy. Large black wings similar to the crow tengu. She had a bright red circle on her chest and a long... rod where her right arm should be. The moment she laid her eyes on me, she froze. Hah, I bet she's scared as hell right now! She immediately jumped back a great distance.

Run all you want but I'll keep catching you. That's when I felt a hand holding me back. I turned my head. It was Reimu. "Hold on, she has something up her sleeve. It would be foolish to charge in recklessly."

Alright then, little birdy. I'll wait for you to act. But don't expect me to hold back this time.

---

I got up from my chair and turned around. I read her thoughts so I knew what Yukari was planning to do. But would she actually do it...?

Yukari knelt down and lowered her head. "Please help us bring your raven back to her senses". The great overseer of Gensokyo, probably the most powerful youkai in all of Gensokyo... was now pleading to me on her knees. I may have been able to read her thoughts, but this display of humility was far beyond my expectations.

I couldn't hide my shock. "Are you... serious?"

"You know that I am. I've grown fond of Reimu to the point that I'm willing to throw away my pride to fulfill her wish." I knew what she was going to say next but I was scared. I didn't want to hear it. "Wouldn't you do the same for Okuu?"

Those words stabbed me painfully straight into my chest. Humans and various youkai have hated and shunned me for my mind-reading, and that's why I resolved myself to stop trying to involve myself with their affairs. But... Okuu has always been innocent of this. She never once bore any hostility towards me for my mind-reading. In fact, she loved me for it and devoted herself to me. And yet, here I was, allowing Okuu to suffer simply because my pride kept me from working alongside the outsiders that I wanted to avoid. Okuu deserves far better than this. After all, I know that Okuu's rampage was motivated purely for my sake; I've confirmed this when I read her mind before. It's my obligation, as her master, to set her straight and free her from this state, even if it involves assisting these outsiders.

"Get up, Yukari. I need you to help me find my lost pet raven."

---

"Huh? W-who are you?"

"It's okay, little raven. I'm just a god from the Moriya Shrine. I've been looking out for various ravens recently."

"Why? What do you want?"

"I've been watching you. The look in your eyes... You seem to be the perfect candidate."

"For what? I'm not going to do anything for you."

"For me? Ohoho, you misunderstand. I am offering you the chance to wield the great power of nuclear fusion."

"Hmph, I don't know or care about that."

"You'll become incredibly powerful. You'll be able to destroy anybody that dares to oppose you. Fulfill whatever plots of revenge that you seem to be harboring for a long time. Isn't this a wonderful opportunity?"

"...if you're lying about this, I'll throw you in hell"

"I'm glad we could come to an understanding"

I'm starting to panic. I don't know who these people are but they were able to take out even my suns. They seem really intent on taking me down.

Hold on, it's okay. I swallowed the Yatagarasu, the god of nuclear fusion. These people wouldn't stand a chance if I unleashed my full power. They only made it this far because I was holding back.

But alright, then. Since you people are being so annoying, I'll unleash the true power of the Yatagarasu!

---

'Doesn't seem to be much of a threat', I can't believe I actually said that. But yeah, as soon as I saw her creating the giant suns out of her arm cannon, I realized that she was not an ordinary enemy. Well, okay, they're actually mini-suns, but they were huge. Either way, not someone I should let myself be distracted by taking pictures. Her eyes were closed right now and she seemed to be concentrating hard. Probably preparing for her next attack. It's best to stay cautious and wait for now.

Reimu glanced at me. I could tell she was depending on my natural ability to think fast, and on my knowledge about how Okuu's suns work. Being a reporter allowed me to gather information from various sources and learn a lot. Suika's ability to manipulate density and sparseness was invaluable. While it can generally be used to make something heavier or lighter, increasing the sparseness of a sun is especially effective. Suns depend on the energy released from nuclear fusion to incite more nuclear fusions. But if the hydrogen atoms are separated too far from each other, they wouldn't get the energy to fuse and would just mix with the air instead, causing the sun to diminish rapidly. I was fully prepared to exploit Suika's ability if Okuu created more suns. Right now, Okuu seemed to be covered in a growing barrier. I still wasn't sure if it would be safe to act.

I wasn't doing this for a news scoop anymore. Nor was I doing this to save Gensokyo or anything like that. Right now, my only motivation was to help Okuu control her power. I'm a crow tengu, while she is a hell raven. Though we are distinctly different species, we are similar enough that I believe I could relate to her. Just as I possess the power of the Wind God, she possesses what seems to be the power of the Sun God, or something similar. I can recall exactly how difficult it was for me to control my power back in the past. Okuu's overwhelming power is likely corrupting her rationality at this point. Just as I was able to control my power, I want to help Okuu gain control over hers.

This is when I noticed a black feather falling from my own wing. Except its trajectory was slightly slanted to the front, which was odd. I was in full control over the wind, and there shouldn't have been any wind blowing it to the front. I looked back at Okuu and I realized what was happening.

"She's transforming herself into a sun!" And not just a normal sun. This was a sun that was quickly growing in mass and density. At this point, I was able to start feeling an invisible force drawing me towards Okuu. It was a weak gravitational force, but it was growing stronger. Okuu herself was becoming a sun with far more mass and density than any of the suns she fired.

I had to think fast. If she was already enclosed by a sun with a significant source of gravity, it's only going to get worse as it grows. Random debris is already being drawn into the sun. All masses would be pulled into the sun, disintegrate into hydrogen and contribute to the sun's growth. She wouldn't just destroy the surface of Gensokyo as she intended, she'll destroy all life, including the underground. She's definitely not being rational right now.

"The three of us need to stick together! Reimu, can you enclose us all in a single mobile barrier?"

"I could, but a mobile barrier wouldn't be strong enough to protect us from even the fireballs!"

"That's fine, just do it. Suika, make the barrier and everthing inside it really light!"

The three of us would become lighter, but that alone wouldn't slow down the pull from the artificial sun. However, with a lower mass, the effect of air resistance would be much more significant. It would be like comparing the falling of an iron ball with the falling of a feather. And I had full control over the wind, allowing me to control the speed and even the trajectory in which we get drawn into Okuu.

"Wait, Aya, we're approaching Okuu at this rate, is that what you were going for?"

"Yes, Reimu. Running away isn't going to help anything. We need to get close to her to stop her. I'm just trying to make sure our journey to the artifical sun is safe!"

As we got closer, I could feel the gravity getting stronger and stronger. I tried to balance it out by strengthening the wind but it was getting harder. We were moving in really fast. Reimu probably couldn't register her surroundings at this rate, but I was accustomed to even dodging obstacles at really high speeds. Still, controlling the wind to manipulate our high-speed trajectory from an increasing gravitational force wasn't a trivial task, and the otherwise simple task of maneuvering through the fireballs was a lot tougher. I ignored everything else and just focused on controlling the wind to precise levels.

We made it through and were almost at the artificial sun. At this point, I focused on strengthening the wind. We need to slow down before we can reach her.

"Now, Suika! Make the entire artificial sun as light as you can!"

Suika raised her arm towards the sun as I instructed, and I could see her straining herself as she tried to control the mass. I can't blame her, the sun must have enormous mass and density to create a strong pull. I focused on strengthening the wind as hard as I could to keep it from being sucked in. Reimu focused her concentration on strengthening the barrier into an immobile wall, but it was just barely keeping us from grazing into the sun that would instantly disintegrate us.

I couldn't take it any longer. I was reaching my limit. This wind would have been strong enough to wreck the entire Human Village, but it could no longer stand up to the gravity from the artificial sun. And just when I was about to give in to despair...

I felt the gravitational pull weakening. I opened my eyes. Suika succeeded. The sun was shrinking. At this sparseness, the hydrogen would just spread out to the air. "It's... working... it's working... IT'S WORKING!!!"

The sun completely faded away. Okuu slowly opened her eyes, probably only just realizing that something was wrong. But before she could react, Reimu's gohei made contact with Okuu's face, in what I can confidently say was the most ruthless physical strike that I have ever witnessed from Reimu in my entire life.

---

Am I... falling?

It hurts...

What... happened...?

I was supposed to become the second sun, how could they have stopped me?

No, really, why does my head hurt so much?

It doesn't matter. I need to get back up.

As long as I have the Yatagarasu, I can't lose to them.

I'll destroy them all!

Wait, this sensation... I could feel two arms carrying me. This... feels so familiar...

I opened my eyes. It was her. This was just like the first time I met her. It's been so long, and her face has aged since that time but it was still definitely her.

She looked at me and smiled, "You have a family, Okuu... We're waiting for you to come back..."

"S-Satori-sama..." My eyes were brimming with tears. I couldn't help myself and started bawling. I've forgotten all about my desire to destroy the surface. I've forgotten about the three people attacking me. Right now, all I wanted was to be with Satori-sama. Satori pulled me close and hugged me.

"Welcome back... Okuu"

Edited by Formina Sage

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I MADE IT I MADE IT!!!

Phew, I had way too much stuff to do in the time it took me to write this, so it's probably sloppy and terrible. I couldn't proofread so please forgive my mistakes; I have a job and I'm preparing for a convention that's literally this Friday. The fact I finished this at all and rewrote the fight sequence is a miracle x.x

Title: Soul of the Astrai

Type: Original Fiction

Setting: An unnamed city

Words: 4782

Warnings: Isabella curses in Spanish, I guess that counts as a warning (not really)

Author's note: There are actually two more team members who don't actually show up in this because that would put me over the limit, so this is essentially a "rolled back" version of the story. Since I haven't actually written about the story in its current time it doesn't really mean much to say this, but I wanted to get it out there anyway.The later team members' names are Garrett and Erevu (though I'm thinking about changing Erevu's name, idk yet I haven't decided)

It was a hot summer day, and Isabella had just gotten off of work in her fathers’ auto shop. She wished it would rain as she walked a few blocks down to the restaurant her friend worked at so she could get some food and relax.

The door to the restaurant was stuck when she went to open it. She pushed but it wouldn’t budge. She pushed again, sighed that this was happening now when all she wanted was a break. Her bicep twitched and she applied a little more force the door and it flew open, hitting the adjacent wall with a bang. Some people looked up to see what happened, others didn’t. Isabella sighed heavily, checked the doorframe to make sure she didn’t hit her head on the top-she was all too good at doing that- and gripped the door handle until her dark tan knuckles turned white. She closed the door silently and sat down at the barstool at the counter with a sigh.

“Heya, boss,” Isabella’s friend said as she set a tall glass of ice water in front of her.

“Please Imani, we aren’t doing any battles. You don’t have to refer to me as anything but my name.” Isabella said, pushing one of her braids behind her and downing the water in seconds flat.

“Aww, ok!” Imani said, pulling out a pen and a paper so she could take her order. “Well let me guess- you want your usual?” She asked.

“Uh-huh, but can you put in an extra order of fries? I was busy today.”

“Hah, what were your dads making you do at the shop today? More impossibly heavy lifting? No problem though, I’ll get that order in right away. Oh- the others are downstairs hanging out. You should drop in and say hi when you’re done eating.” Isabella nodded and turned to observe the patrons of the restaurant. Being so close to an airport the restaurant had new faces every day, human lives so different from the lives herself, Imani, and the others downstairs lived.

A creature, obsidian with ivory eyes that had what seemed to be a head and shoulders that tapered to a point, wrapped in pure silver chains, appeared and rested its head on Isabella’s shoulder.

“I’m not detecting another one of us,” it said. Its voiced had an ethereal echo to it, as if multiple voices were talking at once. None of the patrons noticed the creature or its strange echoing voice. “I guess we’ll just have to wait.” The figure faded away and Isabella leaned back. She continued to watch those people go by. Some stared back at her or her muscles, others didn’t give her a passing glance. She was snapped out of it by Imani, who had delivered her food.

Her usual was the restaurant’s signature “Gutbuster Special”, a comically large burger with a side of fries, which were just as large, so popular it attracted people from all over the country to try the challenge. For Isabella, it was just another meal after working on cars for seven hours. She started tearing into it, remembering that it had been rather long since the last time she ate. Imani leaned on the counter, looking at the people in the restaurant beyond the counter. She blew one of the springy curls of her afro out of her face.

“Hey Isabella? Do you sometimes forget what it’s like to be human?” She asked. Her friend gave her a look. “I mean, being an Astrai, we aren’t human anymore. We don’t need to breathe or worry about serious injury…and other stuff. Have you forgotten about what it was like before then, when you were still human?”

“What brought this about?” Isabella asked between bites.

“Well, I was talking with babu-that’s Swahili for grandfather- about this whole Astrai thing. I’m trying to explain to him that this is a good thing, that I’m helping to save a dying race, but he thinks I’ve just given up my humanity.”

“To answer your question, there have been some times I don’t really feel in touch with being human. It’s almost exhausting trying to fit in to a point, until our power is needed. But I don’t think you rejected your humanity. You love life, Imani, and when an alien of a dying species came to you for help, you did it knowing you could help save it from mutating. Every Astrai made the same decision you did, but you did it to help the Astra, not yourself. That act of compassion makes you the most human-even now.”

Imani’s face lit up as tears welled in her chestnut eyes and she smiled. She laced her pudgy fingers together and brought them to her chin, rocking side to side in glee.

“That really means a lot, Isabella,” she said between stifling sobs, “I just wanted to do the right thing, you know? My babu may not understand but it’s ok. He just doesn’t want me to get hurt. Well, I gotta get back to work, see you downstairs!” Imani said, a spring in her step as she walked away.

Isabella smiled. As a leader she always found herself supporting her teammates. Truth be told, she didn’t know why she was the leader. When the team’s Astra led them all together, Isabella was sure the girl named Haeyun would take it. She stayed more calm and collected in stressful situations than her that allowed her to plan more carefully, but Haeyun turned the offer down quickly. No matter why they decided to make Isabella the leader, she had to do good for all of them. Her friends, the Astra, they were all her responsibility. It was a lot to take in, and with one of her fathers pregnant at home she had to worry about that too.

She was snapped out of her thoughts when she went to reach into the basket of fries and found none. Without realizing it, she had finished her lunch as she thought about the future. With a satisfied sigh she got up, and headed down the stairs to the Astrai meeting place. It was a part of the storeroom to the restaurant, but Imani convinced her grandfather to clear that part out so they had a place to stay and plan. She wasn’t paying attention and as she descended, she hit her head on the top of the bannister with a loud “smack”.

“¡Hijo de puta! Aiiiiiii….” Isabella swore, rubbing her head. Muffled giggles came from within the small gray room.

“You ok there, boss?” Someone asked.

“Si-yes I’m fine. It’s not like I haven’t hit my head on that bannister before, Vadia.” Isabella replied. More stifled giggles started erupting in the room.

“Sorry, it’s just you do this practically every time you come downstairs.” Vadia said. She was in her favorite outfit today, a matching hot pink long-sleeved crop top and pants, with poofy, fuzzy things starting at her elbow and knees and ending at her hands and feet respectively. She was the only one that didn’t think that outfit was an eyesore, but she liked to wear things that drew attention away from her face.

“Mmm…what’s going on?” Another girl asked, as she sat up on a bench while reaching for her glasses.

“Oh, welcome back to the land of the living, Haeyun,” Isabella said, “have a nice nap?”

“Yeah…My biology finals are taking a lot out of me so I was resting.” She said, while rubbing the stump of her leg. “Ahhh, I don’t want to get up.”

The last girl in the room was sitting at a computer, largely ignoring the commotion that was going on in the room. She brushed empty cups of coffee away from her desk, into a trashcan sitting near the desk. Her red hair was drawn into a messy bun and she looked like she hadn’t slept in a while.

“I hate geodesic algorithms! Who came up with these things anyway, argh! Well, I know who came up with these things and why, but it still sucks.” She said, putting her head down on her desk. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m going for a PhD in computer science,” she continued, before switching her window to something else. “Oh. Those numbers you wanted me to run? Well that’s all finished.”

Suddenly there was a deathly silence in the room, the four Astrai suddenly at full alert, looking at the girl at the computer expectantly.

“Bonnie.” Isabella whispered.

“The number is…3,558.” Bonnie said. Instantly, the suffocating feel of misery and agony washed over the room. It was most visible in Imani, who was shedding silent tears. Haeyun traced circles into the skin of the stump of her leg, not wanting to look up. Vadia crossed her arms and looked away. Isabella shook her head; her twin braids flicking every which way. She didn’t want to believe it-she couldn’t believe it.

“Are you sure?” She asked.

“Numbers don’t lie when you do them correctly. Did you give me correct numbers?” Bonnie replied.

Once again, the room was silent. The claustrophobic absence of noise made Bonnie uncomfortable.

“By the way, you never told me what those numbers were for.” She said awkwardly.

“It’s the number of Astra that mutate daily.” Haeyun said, putting her prosthetic leg on so she could stand, “We were hoping that the number would be in the hundreds, not thousands.” She stood, testing her leg, then stretched. “But now we know.”

“When an Astra becomes a Source of Evil…We still don’t know what causes it. At first we thought it was cosmic radiation, but that’s not it. And when Sources come knocking on our door…that’s when it’s the hardest to face.” Isabella said.

Without warning, everyone’s Astra appeared. They all looked similar to Isabella’s, but each one had unique traits. They all looked up at the ceiling.

“There is a Source headed this way!” They all said in unison, though the Astrai could only see and hear their own Astra.

“Bonnie, stay here.” Isabella said. “There’s a Source coming, and you’re going to have to help all the patrons to safety.”

“But…! Fine. But promise me you’ll all come back safe, ok?” Bonnie said. Isabella nodded, and picked Bonnie up so she could kiss her.

“I promise-we all do. All right team, let’s get moving! Our mission-stop the Source and keep casualties to a minimum.” She set Bonnie down, and raced up the stairs, this time ducking so she wouldn’t bump her head again.

Outside, they saw the Source they were looking for, a behemoth of a Source, and one they’ve met before-Misery. She opted to take on a human form this time despite being two stories tall.

“Mmm…I thought I smelled some delicious misery but I had no idea it was coming from you lot. What a riot. You do everything in your power to keep me away but now you’ve attracted me!” She laughed, a low deep laugh that rumbled through the buildings of the city. “Now come, let me drink deep of your misery and make it my strength. And please do entertain me-misery loves company after all!”

Vadia ran up first, launching herself off the ground with a mighty leap. Extending her arm, a small nebula extended itself from her hand and from it emerged a sword. It looked almost as if it were made of glass, deep purple in color, and saturated with stars. Within the blade itself was a planetary system, all the planets perfectly aligned in a row. She swung, putting both her arms into it, but Misery jumped backwards. Vadia flew, using the power of her Astra, taking wild swings at the Source of Evil, pushing her back from the city, buying the others time.

The three other Astrai held their Astra to their bodies and returned them to the universe. They became heat, light, stardust, and particles of the universe when it was newly born. Their bodies and minds became a part of the infinite reaches of space for a short time; connected with every living thing until Astra and Astrai fused, pulling each other back together and down to Earth. They took on various forms, the true forms of an Astrai, chosen back when they were still human and were asked to bind the Astra to their soul.

Imani became a centaur with black hair, big and powerful. In her hand was a lance with the same glassy, starry appearance as Vadia’s sword, but instead of a planetary system, there was a comet spewing icy azure hues behind it. Her eyes had also become purple and starry, and her Astra’s eyes-pure white-appeared above them.

Haeyun had become a raven harpy, with the same eyes as Imani. Her prosthetic leg had transformed with her. She had no weapon but on her forehead, a small, thick nebula flickered, not unlike the flame of a candle.

Isabella gained the lower half of an octopus with a curious pattern on her tentacles. Her hair had unraveled, and floated around her body as if she were submerged. On her hands were gauntlets, the same color as Vadia and Imani’s weapons, with a swirling spiral galaxy on each hand. All of the transformed Astrai were just as tall as Misery and just as eager to put on a show.

“Thank you for buying us time, Vadia.” Isabella said. She had the same voice as her Astra. “Haeyun, you’re up. Bounce her clear into the sound.”

“Ha-ha! I love this part! Bounce!” Haeyun said, flicking her head to the side. A large orange mat appeared right behind Misery. “Three…Two…One…”

Misery stepped on the pad right as Haeyun finished counting. She was shot backwards, launched into a sound of water. Imani sped ahead, and before Misery could even get up she was there, her lance pointed directly at her throat.

“Bravissimo, you filthy Astrai. But do you think it’s going to be enough?” Misery asked. Before Imani could do anything, a firey burst erupted from Misery’s body, coupled with lashes from whips-obscured by the blast-sending her flying.

“Bubble!” Haeyun said, flicking her head. A bubble appeared and Imani crashed into it, softening the impact.

“Ha, is that all you Astrai got? No wonder your species is mutating-becoming something more! Hey you silly Astra, why don’t you come join me? This power is what we were supposed to have before, you know. When the universe came to be and the Astra formed with it, we were destined to become these wonderful beings! Go on-mutate! No matter how many beings you bind with, you’ll still become a Source in the end!” Misery said, carefully planned to worsen the Astrai’s moods. However, when she was done with her speech, Isabella appeared right behind her.

“You know the cool thing about octopi? They can blend in with their surroundings. While you were talking, you let me move into position.” She said, winding up a punch with both arms. She gave two devastating blows, which knocked the Source forward, directly into Vadia’s waiting sword. One slash was all it took to get Misery to fall to her knees.

“Do you think you’ve won?” Misery asked. “Because let me tell you-you haven’t, not by a longshot.” She stood, clawed fingers wrapping around the blade of Vadia’s sword. With a smile she ripped it from her chest and cast it aside. Her body darkened, bone structure changing. The sound of napping bones and tearing flesh filled the air, her body transforming into that of a green-eyed beast. She walked on all fours and thick black fur covered her whole body. “You will never defeat me! That’s why I keep coming back!” She swiped her massive paw at Vadia, who was too small to block the attack.

“Sister!” Haeyun shouted. “Bubble!” The bubble broke Vadia’s fall, but it was clear she was hurting. She slid to the ground, shaking. Haeyun flicked her head, and the ground around Misery turned red, exploding shortly thereafter. The monster was thrown high into the air, where Imani was floating, lance at the ready. There was a clash of blade and claw, and sparks rained down. Misery fell, right into Isabella’s waiting fists.

“For all your talk about being so much stronger than an Astrai because you’ve mutated, you sure haven’t done anything that proves it.” Isabella said, putting the Source in a headlock. Imani landed and Haeyun flew over.

“Vadia’s doing pretty bad,” Haeyun said, “but she’s going to manage just fine. We just need to end this quickly.”

Misery smirked, flashing multiple rows of jagged teeth. With a mighty exhale; she blew fire into the faces of the Astrai coming towards her. They staggered back and fell into the water with pained shouts. Misery then brought up her hind legs and kicked Isabella in the stomach.

Suddenly, she regretted that extra order of fries.

Isabella let go and reeled backwards, trying to not fall into the water, but it wasn’t going to happen because she had tentacles instead of legs. Misery cackled, diving into the water after her targets.

Because Astrai didn’t need to breathe, being in the water didn’t hinder them as much as Misery had planned. However, water resistance prevented them from attacking well. Imani tried desperately to get to the surface, kicking her hooves in some attempt to float.

“You’re first!” Misery said, paddling down to the helpless Astrai.

“Just kidding!” Imani said, spreading her arms out wide. Giant strands of seaweed grew from the sound floor, tying the Source of Evil to the ground. “Did you really think I didn’t have any tricks up my sleeve? You should know us better by now,” she continued.

The three Astrai closed in on the entangled beast. She let out a mighty roar, and an explosion rocked the area they were in. Vadia could see bubbles form on the surface of the water, before the explosion broke the surface, spraying water-and the Astrai-everywhere. They landed unceremoniously on land or in the water. Haeyun looked up, and saw a news helicopter flying overhead. Of all the times, now wasn’t it. She motioned with her wings to try to get the helicopter away, but it lingered.

Misery leaped out of the water on her strong hind legs, paws out, ready to cleave the aircraft in two. However, a bounce pad appeared in the space between them and her paw bounced back and hit her in the face, making her fall back into the water. Instead of Misery, a new monster came out, one that looked much like a glowing yellow gorilla. Its long pointed teeth glistened with saltwater and saliva as it headed straight to Vadia, who was still reeling from Misery’s previous attack.

“NO!!!” Haeyun shrieked. She was too dizzy from landing on her head to get up to defend her sister. “Vadia!!! Please transform!”

“Give me a break…That embarrassing form? I’d rather do it myself.” Vadia said, rising to her feet. She was worse for wear, but she pointed her sword at the hulking monster regardless. It growled at her, hungry. She went to attack, but found herself restrained by Misery’s whip-like appendages, coming from her back.

“Your pride regarding whatever humanity you still hold will be your downfall!” Misery said, green eyes flashing. Licking its lips, the beast inched ever closer to its prey, ready for the meal. A ring of trees appeared around Vadia, cutting off Misery’s whips in the process. Imani emerged from the water, slicking her hair back.

“Hey now, pick on someone your own size!” She said. The beast lunged for her but she had her lance at the ready. She stabbed it twice, and it fell, melting to yellow sludge and fading away.

As Imani was dealing with the beast, Misery set the trees protecting Vadia on fire with her breath. Everyone could hear the young woman’s screams of terror as her protection turned into a deadly cage.

“If you don’t get rid of the trees then your precious teammate will be burned to a crisp!” Misery cackled. Right before Imani had the chance to wilt the trees away, Isabella flew out of the water, her chest puffed out more than usual. She pressed down hard on her ribcage and spat up water, which she had been storing in her lungs just in case Misery had tried pulling a stunt with her fire. The Source went for Isabella, but she noticed a bounce pad appearing, so she jumped back before she could get launched. Haeyun could get up now, though she was still shaken from the blow to her head.

“Get away from them!” She commanded. Misery growled. When the fires were put out and the trees successfully wilted, Vadia charged at Misery. However, she never anticipated getting headbutted, and found herself on the ground, pinned.

“Now, die-!!!” Misery said before a sharp stabbing pain in her back cut her off. She could feel the area slowly going numb. Before her body went limp, she jumped off of the Astrai.

“I told you, I didn’t wanna transform! Now I have to do something I didn’t want to do!” Vadia rose again, now with a scorpion tail jutting from her lower back. Letting out a low, animalistic growl, she brought her Astra to her body. It didn’t take long for her form to reveal itself, a manticore. “See? I’m a hybrid animal-it’s so embarrassing! But…I stabbed you with my poison, so it won’t take long now for the effects to start wearing on you. Let’s dance!” Vadia sprang forward on her hind legs, her claws outstretched, ready to tear Misery’s face off.

“All right, let’s finish this now! Ladies, into position!” Isabella said. Imani and Haeyun flew up. Vadia threw Misery off of her and over to Isabella, then flew up with her bat wings. The three formed a triangle in the sky, weapons ready, waiting for their target to be delivered to them.

When Misery was thrown to Isabella, she delivered an Earth-shattering punch to the monster’s side. Now she was limp, dead weight in Isabella’s arms. The Astrai lifted with all her might, muscles bulging, and veins ready to burst.

“I am not done here…! I am full of your misery…! I will be victorious…!” Misery said, twisting, trying to blow fire into Isabella’s face. With the remaining water in Isabella’s lungs, she spat the water into Misery’s mouth, surprising her and getting her to stop for just a moment.

“You want to bring the heat?! Well, I can too!” She said, and the galaxies in her gauntlets started to swirl. The weapons instantly superheated, the telltale “hiss” of flesh searing under intense heat. Misery wailed, unable to break from Isabella’s vice grip. She was flung into the air from the impressive strength of her captor, and she was met with a superheated fist to her back. The sound of the impact echoed through the air. Vadia and Imani stabbed Misery wherever they could stick their weapons, and Haeyun flicked her head.

There was a tremendous explosion that threw the Astrai clear from the blast, and Misery had gone with it. Some of her blood rained down, but quickly disappeared with the rest of her remnants. The team all came to their senses, and looked around to see humans on both sides of the sound, cheering for their victory. News helicopters flew overhead and people were dispatching boats.

The four Astrai, exhausted from their efforts reverted back to their human forms, into the boats sent out for them.

“Are you gals some kinda aliens?” One of the men in the boats asked.

“Something like that…” Isabella said.

“Well, whatever ya are, thank you for protecting our city! It almost looked like ya did it before.”

“We have, but away from the city so nobody would see it. We had no choice this time,” Haeyun said.

“Is that monster thing dead?”

The Astrai sat in silence for a few agonizingly long moments.

“No, she’s not dead. But don’t worry; we’re this city’s guardian superheroes, or whatever people nowadays like to believe in.” Vadia said with a pained smile. Her side was already pooling blood underneath her skin. “Whenever this place is in trouble, well, we’re gonna be there.”

“Well, that makes me feel a little better at least. But you, are ya ok?” He asked Vadia. “You look like you got mighty hurt.”

“Ah this? Uhhh….Well I’m gonna need to go to the hospital for this…”

“I’ll phone up ahead for ya then.”

Imani looked off into the distance, staring at nothing, until Isabella scooted closer to her.

“Are you thinking about what Misery said?” She asked.

“Yeah…this whole time I thought that I could help save the Astra by becoming an Astrai, but this is really what they’re meant to be, huh? Well, I don’t wanna believe it! I’m sure we can save the Astra one day. That’s what I believe.” Imani said, playing with one of her curls.

“We’ll fight it, maybe one day the Grand Astra will be able to correct the problem. Until then, we will handle all the Sources of Evil and be the best vessels for our Astra.”

Imani nodded, looking over at Haeyun and Vadia. Haeyun smiled wide at Imani, having overheard the conversation. Vadia gave a weak, but happy thumbs-up.

“Yeah, no matter what happens, we’re Astrai for life! We aren’t going to give up on them this easy!” Haeyun said, pulling Vadia into her lap so she could rest comfortably. “Because we’re all one big team!”

The boat pulled up to the dock and let them all off. All of them were weary and ready to take a good, long rest. Haeyun offered a shoulder to Imani as Isabella picked up Vadia, who didn’t want to walk at all. As Vadia was put on a stretcher for the ambulance, a woman was shouting things to her in Korean.

“It’s ok ma, I’m all right! It looks worse than it actually is!” she said, in English. A reporter rushed up with a camera in hand, and Vadia threw up two peace signs.

“Yeah mom, Vadia’s German after all. She’s made out of some tough stuff!” Haeyun said.

The EMT’s looked over the others and concluded they all needed to go to the hospital. Imani decided to get on a stretcher, but Haeyun stood at Vadia’s side. As Isabella was preparing to get into the ambulance, a news reporter equally tall as her shoved a microphone in her face.

“Ma’am, could you just answer one thing for me? What exactly are you?” He asked. Isabella was annoyed, but this one answer couldn’t hurt anything.

“We’re the guardians of this city. Now, no more questions, please.” She quickly hurried into the ambulance and closed the doors. She could see the crowd of people trying to follow the ambulance, some even climbing into their news vehicles to give chase. She let out a sigh and crossed her arms.

“Well, the cat’s outta the bag now.” Imani said, smiling. “But I don’t care. It’ll be fun seeing people recognize me when they come to the restaurant! I wonder if they’ll ask for autographs?”

“I hope not, I have to keep studying for my biology classes!” Haeyun said. “If people keep asking me then I’ll fall behind, and I’m not that good with biology as it is.” She looked at her prosthetic leg and sucked her teeth. “Darn, I was in the water for too long. The joint is gonna rust. Oh well, I’ll just ask dad to get me a new one. I grew a little anyway so it’s time for a new one.”

“When you have two dads and one of them is pregnant, you tend to turn heads when you go in public. I guess now my family is going to seem even more unorthodox, ha ha!” Isabella said. “Sorry about your leg, though, Haeyun.”

“Ah it’s ok, at least it was my fake one.”

“After this, why don’t we all take a nice, long nap? I’m thinking like, two days, tops.” Vadia said wearily. They all chuckled.

The number that Bonnie had given them lingered in the back of their minds. As they lived their lives, as they fought Sources of Evil, their brethren would be mutating into the same thing they were up against. It was a terrifying thought, but one they all knew they could face, no matter what happened. As a team, they grew stronger from their ordeal with Misery, but they knew the fight wasn’t over yet. Until the Grand Astra could save his people, the fight wouldn’t ever be over.

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Title: Fighters Assmeble!

Type: Awakeing AU plus FE4 on the side.

Setting: Modish day...

Words 3250

Warnings: Violence I suppose, a little swearing, Lack of seriousness.... First entry and hoping not terrible...

The city of Cityville! A bustling metropolis full of life, money, and promises of tomorrow. This is a city where the cars are fast, buildings glow bright, and the grass is blue for god knows what reason. It’s city is home to colorful characters in the truckloads, as the capital city of the nation of Nationland its streets see millions of people and thousands of cars pass by every day. Cityville’s status as a large port and trading center has made it also a place of much wealth and power; and where you find great wealth you always find people who want to acquire more of it through various nefarious means. This great city of light and show had it’s darkness no doubt, underneath the gilded vision that it tried to present was, is, and perhaps always shall be that spectre of crime and vice. It is inevitable where people gather and rules are established that people will break those rules. Yet that did not stop some people from trying to help make the city a better place.

Some of said people were at the docks right now staking out an ongoing crime as a large group men were smuggling illegal copies of the video game Flame Jewel: Destiney to be sold on the black market. It was truly a dastardly crime that had to be stopped by the bravest of heroes. Who else could be turned to but the legendary, the illustrious, the end all, the be all, the- hold on there’s more here but I doubt you want to hear me ramble on more do you? What? Surprised at the sudden tone shift and the narrator suddenly doing something other than exposit for your pleasure? Well sorry I’m not getting paid to-

“RADIANT DAWN!!!!”

Huh? Oh it looks like something’s going on- Oh right! A battle cry of immense power and righteous fury rang out through the docks as a hero of proud and noble lineage leaped from the shadows. This was the battlecry of the hero known throughout the city as the Scion, a heroic hero who performed great deeds of heroism heroically with his sword Missiletainn. With speed and precision he attacked with his blue energy vibroblade® that sent debilitating energy through whoever it struck, just enough to knock people unconscious but not enough to kill; because if there’s one thing that heroes don’t do it’s kill. Some of the thugs transporting the games tried to reach for their guns but the hero was too fast for them. Before one man close to crates could even reach for his holster he was stuck across the the chest by the badass blue blade and knocked to the ground with a thud. Several of his accomplices joined him in quick succession as the hero dressed in bright yellow and a little bit of black moved with the speed of a bolt of lightning. No one could touch him even after a few managed to draw their guns. Either the hero was actually outrunning the bullets or the aim of the criminals whichever hurts your suspension of disbelief the least I suppose... Like a samurai warrior of old this man wielded his blade with precision and grace, moving with the fluidity of flowing water as he dispatched his foes with a veritable storm of slashes and stabs. Yet even as identical thug after identical thug fell to the ground more seemed to come from practically nowhere leading to the white-masked hero needing some back up. And there was no better backup than the person who burst into action just now.

Out of the blue, a storm flower petals somehow emerged into the air as a sliver armored heroine wielding two vibrospears® jumped into action.

“Perfect! Spears! Of Conquest! Lady Pegasus is here! Those valiant of heart make your stand now!” The blue haired heroine introduced herself with flurry of her weapons.

Twin spears swirled back and forth creating mini tornados that whipped around the pink petals almost as much as the girl’s blue hair. Cityville’s Sliver Sentinel of justice and all that good stuff wasted no time in pressing the attack. Lady Pegasus, or Pegasus as she was commonly referred as, used her spears to attack and dispatch the thugs that tried to overwhelm the forces of good with sheer numbers. Despite the growing amount of unconscious criminals on the floor right now it did none of the oddly seemed to get in the way of the movement of anybody as a truly absurd amount of minions of depravity continued to flow into the area. Seriously? Were these games so valuable a number of guards past the double digits was needed? Seesh...

In any case Pegasus fought hard as ever as bullets filled the air. The despite the cramped conditions of the shipping docks the female fighter seemed to have no trouble maneuvering her way as she struck down guards with her spears. The pointed energy tips sent high voltage bursts through the nervous systems of a man attempting to use a crowbar to strike Scion, and as that man was shocked into unconsciousness Scion gave a small nod to Pegasus before continuing to fight. Other than just using the electric points of her spear Pegasus also whirled her spears in the air using the cold iron shaft to knock out crooks the old fashioned way. As time went on and various men and women continued to pile on to the concrete floor of the dock it appeared at last that they might finally be running out of thugs... They didn’t even seem to come from anywhere just from around corners or something, but here they were with around twenty unconscious bodies here to guard video games.... As Scion stabbed one woman in the gut and Pegasus stabbed another thug in the leg it appeared finally that the battle was over.

Now all that was left to do was call the local police and tell them to bring lots and lots of cars to pick up the thugs and the games. However, it appeared that in all the action and chaos one thug still retained his senses and reached into his pocket quietly so as not to receive another beating. Carefully the outlaw tapped a few buttons on his phone, and smiled briefly as pain and the void took away his sense with his effort now finished.

“You fought well today valiant ally!” Scion appraised, sheathing his blade as he did so.

“Heh, not as good as you though! How many did you knock out? A dozen?”

“Fourteen.” He replied with no small amount of pride, “Though truly it was a dastardly thing these men and women were trying to do! Smuggling games not yet released...”

“I know! It’s a good thing we managed to stop them.”

“Hey remember you guys knew to get there because I told you too!” A new voice cackled in both of their masks.

Several miles away in an underground base sat and spoke the third member of the this team. His codeman was Merlin and he was the brains behind this team known throughout the city as the Justice Cabal. At first it had been a game played between the three as children, but as the three grew older and learned more about the city they lived in and what went on they knew they had to do something.

Right now Merlin was Merlin was sitting behind a desk and viewing a veritable multitude of screens which included crime reports, police chatter, and the score of Merlin’s Fantasy Battleball team.

“Don’t worry we haven’t and will never forget your vital contributions to the cause of justice Merlin! Your knowledge of tactics and planning have never failed us!”

“And they never will!”

“I miss having you in the field sometimes though, Morgan. It’s always the most fun when the Justice Cabal is out in full force!” Pegasus added.

“Hey! This maybe a secure line but we’re supposed to use codenames out in the field!”

“Oh come on! How many Morgans, Cynthias, and Owains are there in Cityville?”

“Even so you shouldn’t just use names over the com!” As Merlin said this, a bright light lit up on his computer grid of the city, switching to satellite footage revealed a robbery in progress with it’s perpetrators bearing faces Morgan knew well. “Guys you better get down to First National, you’ll never guess who’s making a withdrawal.”

“Surprise us.”

“It’s the Victory Brothers, and from the looks of things the Cops aren’t able to stop them! I’m sending the PegasusMobile to pick you guys up! Be ready!”

With that Scion and Lady Pegasus hurried to the the nearest street where their ride was bound to show if Merlin programed the thing correctly. One time they tried this auto driver feature and the car ended up clear on the other side of town. To the relief of the two heroes nothing but a sliver DMC-12 DeLorean appeared and its wing doors popped out in welcome to the two saviors of the city. Why a DeLorean you might ask, because if you’re going to be a superhero you should do it in style! And why call it the PegasusMoblie? Because Lady Pegasus was the only one with a licence... The heroes hopped in, Pegasus taking the driver’s seat, and the car zoomed off. As they car bobbed and weaved through the busy streets Pegasus slammed down on the gas peddle pouring on the speed. They were going almost 88 miles-per-hour, but if they didn’t get to First National in time there was going be some serious shit.

While the two hurried off towards their destination a ringing filled the Pegasus mobile and a vibration rung through Scion’s pocket. The normally boisterous and fearless hero gulped in his throat as he reached down and grabbed his phone. To his great horror the name on the screen was the one he feared most, the name known as “Severa”. Hesitantly Scion pressed the answer key and prepared himself for the storm of noise that was about to come.

“OWAIN!” Yep, that was Severa alright, “Where are you!? You were supposed to come over Laurent’s house to help set Gerome’s surprise party half-an-hour ago!”

“Hey sorry, I’m in the middle something right now!” Owain said as he was jerked around by the sudden motion of the car as Cynthia veered left to pass by a semi truck. “A hero is never idle after all!”

“You’re not out partying with Morgan and Cynthia again are you? I know every time you go out with them you end up with cuts and bruises all over.” Severa said over the phone with just the slightest hint of worry.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time to both assist in assembling the celebratory functions and return without injury or distress!”

“Alright fine just hurry up!” Severa admonished, before quietly adding, “Add just take care of yourself whatever you’re doing...”

With that they both hung up and Owain breathed a sigh of relief.

“You should really tell her how you feel.” Cynthia added as they sped through a yellow light on the junction of Smith and Wesson.

“What? What madness do you speak of comrade? And shouldn’t you be focusing on the road?”

“I am focused!” The blue haired heroine protested even as she nearly crashed into the car in front of her.

“I agree with Cynthia you should ask her out some time.” Morgan’s voice chattered over the radio earning a flustered burst from Owain

“Hey I don’t need you taking sides!”

“I’m just saying you hang out with her a lot-”

“Pegasus can’t you drive any faster?” Owain asked, cutting off the tactician.

“We’re almost there! And hey we were talking as Cynthia, Morgan, and Owain not Pegasus, Scion, and Merlin and we’re not gonna let you off that easy!”

“Do we really need to talk about my personal life while we’re on the way to stop two dangerous criminals?”

“Hey every story needs a good romance subplot as my mom always said!”

“No it doesn’t! And would you keep your eyes on the road!”

“Oh come on we're just teasing you! And don’t worry about my driving look we’re here!”

The PegasusMobile stopped in front of a line of police cars parked in front of the gothic design of the First National Bank of Nationland. Scion and Pegasus leaped out of the DeLorean and quickly made their way to where their friend on the force, Captain Gregor was standing behind a police Barricade. Gregor saw the two approaching and greeted them with a wave before they got into speaking range.

“Greeting young persons. Gregor is happy you you show down for big fun!” The captain said in his thick accent

“Greets to you as well noble officer of the law! What seems to be the situation here?” Scion questioned.

“Da Victory Comrades have step down shop inside bank. Currently they have hostages so police head honcho not wanting to go in. However, technically you no police so no jurisdiction over you...”

“So you want us to go in and rescue the people and take down those crooks right?” Pegasus asked, practically jumping up and down with excitement.

“Da, if things get bad I and the rest rush in but I know you two good at job. So go and fight and do butt kicking for goodness!”

“Yes sir!” The teenaged heroes responded before jumping over the police barricade to the bank.

However, both knew that a frontal assault would be too risky so the two deployed their grappling hooks from their belts and rappelled onto the ceiling on the bank. Luckily this bank had a glass ceiling just like every other major building in town. They managed to get a visual on the two twins as they threatened tellers and hauled away money. Silently Pegasus targeted Vincent and Scion zeroed in on Victor, with great force and awesomeness the two burst through the glass without cutting themselves somehow and coincidentally none of the glass shards hit any of the civilians on the floor... The two attempted to end this with single stroke attacks but found that the twins were faster than the last time. Victor managed to dodge left away from the sword slice of Scion, while Vincent was able to block both strikes of Pegasus’ spears using his laser battleaxe.

“Ah... If it isn’t the Justice Cabal here to try and ruin our day!” Vincent sneered as the he and Victor moved alongside one another.

“I think we should teach these two a lesson on what happens to those who interrupt our outings together Vincent.”

“I couldn’t agree more Victor.”

“Enough talk!” Scion protested, “Let’s do this! SACRED STONES!”

With that the swordsman leaped at the Victory Brothers with Pegasus behind him. Scion decided to try and use his superior speed to get an edge over Victor and get close enough where the criminal’s longer range would be useless. On the flip side of that coin Pegasus was trying to make sure the other brother kep his distance as he spears were best used at range. The twins had coordination that much was clear, as soon as one was open for an attack the other would step into defend the other. While individually they were no match for either Scion or Pegasus, but together they could keep both of the heroes on their toes. Scion went for a left slash against Victor and managed to have his blade make contact with flesh, however Victor was tougher than the average criminal and thus resisted the energy of Missiletainn. Momentarily distracted by his brother’s distress Vincent tried to move to defend his brother but Pegasus was one him like glue. This time as he tried to move in front of Victor Pegasus jabed both of her spears at him and managed a direct hit. Electric energy shot through Vincent and he fell to the ground ground with a thud.

“NO!!! Vincent!” Victor cried out as his twin lay unconscious, “You’re going to pay for that, we still have an ace up our sleeve!”

“Oh really and what is that?” Pegasus taunted as she prepared to also knock Victor out.

“That would be me!” A new voice challenged as he stepped into the scene from the vault area.

The man was gargantuan, standing at least over six feet and dressed in all red combat armor. At his side was a massive battleaxe seemingly as big as a man, and on his face was etched the look of a hardened killer ready to fight and conquer any who stood in his way.

“Conqueror!” Scion exclaimed, “I thought you were imprisoned for life a generation ago!”

“You would be mistaken pitiful boy! For I am now free to begin my conquest of this city starting with its underworld!”

“Not if we can stop you!” Pegasus shouted as she charged the massive warrior.

With a gaze of near contempt Conqueror almost swatted Pegasus away and the silver heroine was sent crashing into a nearby wall. Scion looked on in shock and horror at the man’s power, even as Pegasus struggled to push herself out of the rubble. Meanwhile, miles away in the Justice Cabal’s base Morgan watched these same events with equal worry. it was at this moment he made a snap decision. Leaving his desk with it’s lights and computers Morgan stepped in front of a set of sealed doors and placed his hand upon the scanner. As the computer scanned his prints and confirmed his identity the doors opened to reveal one of the most dangerous weapons on Earth. Before the hero known as Merlin was a set of experimental power armor from Project G.R.A.N.D.M.A.S.T.E.R. the only one of its kind. He hadn’t had to use this thing in a long time, but with his friends in peril it had to be done. He donned the purple and gold metal suit and slammed the launch bay open button, and with urgent speed flew off into the night sky towards the city and battle.


Meanwhile back at the bank Victor closed in on Pegasus while Scion stood before Conqueror with his sword at the ready. It seemed that this wouldn’t be a simple day after all. The stage is set for a grand confrontation, but who will emerge victorious?


“Will Scion be able to fend off Conqueror alone? Will Lady Pegasus be able to fight Victor with her wounds? Will Merlin make it to his friends in time? Find out next week on Fighters Assemble!”

With that the ending credits and theme song of the the show played and Seliph pouted as he wanted to see what happened next.

“Come on, come on! Why did it half to end there?” The young child protested.

“Alright son that’s enough TV, you’ll be late for your playdate with your cousin Leif.” His father Sigurd admonished as the blue haired man had to physically drag his son away from the couch.

“But I wanna see if they win!”

“Don’t worry son, in those shows the heroes always win. Now hurry along we don’t want to have to scramble for parking!”

With that the obvious conclusion to our story goes, and the advertising for the Justice Cabal figures, I mean TV Show passes through another week of programing! Well, that’s all folks!

Edited by jankmaster98

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Blah this thing wasn't going anywhere but I needed to finish in some way

Title: The Fifteenth World

Type: Original

Words: 2781

Mild swearing

Two college women sitting at a computer desk sweated small droplets as they worked on a paper. Though the air conditioning was blasting all throughout the rental house, the summer heat was at its apex for the day and two completely shattered windows needed to be replaced. There was only so much two blackout curtains could do—and there was still a few hours to go before the temperature would drop drastically.

Freya, the one not working, let out a loud groan. “This fucking heat! Fuck this fucking heat!”

Erin stopped her fingers. “You didn’t want me to write that down, did you?”

“No. Sorry. I already know you’re trying you’re hardest for me as is, but this heat is intense.” Freya chugged the rest of her ice water. A solid chunk of ice hit against the plastic walls of her bottle; and, after enough shaking, Freya groaned. “I’m also pissed at my heat vision. And now I’m out of water.”

Freya got out of her seat but was stopped by Erin. “Here. Just take mine.”

“It’s okay. I’m quite capable of getting water. The refrigerator and freezer stick out like sore thumbs to me.”

“Take mine for now. You said we were almost done with the draft. I’d rather just get it done and then relax.”

“Fair enough. Thanks.” Freya smiled and took a gulp from the bottle. “Aaah. Needed that. So where were we?”

“‘This scientific study according to Wagner…’”

The two continued on writing the draft, Freya saying her thoughts aloud and Erin typing away as fast as she could. A quiet symphony from Erin’s phone played in attempt to drown out cicadas and birds crying in the distance. Erin blinked her straining eyes a lot, drowsiness starting to hit her from the heat, the work, and the music, but she would try to keep working without letting out signs she was tired. Freya kept prattling on without knowing a thing.

Once they finished, Freya let out a sigh of relief. “Done, done, done! Finally we can rest.”

“We sure can.” Erin let out a yawn.

“Erin, you weren’t tired, were you? Why didn’t you say something? Now I feel bad.”

“Don’t be! I wanted to get it done. Besides, this paper is due soon, you said.”

“Yeah, I know. But not like I wanted you to work for me in the first place.”

“We can’t help that. You can’t see the screen anymore.”

Freya snarled. “I know that! I just hate that you have to do this for me. If only I wasn’t procrastinating on writing the damn paper…”

Erin smiled. “You did the research. You just needed to write the actual paper. And not like—“

“And not like I knew that I was going to get some random power that would make unable to work on a computer anymore, yeah, yeah.”

“At least you picked this semester to do all online classes.”

“Convenient, isn’t it? It’s like as though someone picked a power for me so it wasn’t that much of an inconvenience but just enough to piss me off. I can’t even turn it off.” Sigh. “But it’s not like as though you haven’t gone through this before. I shouldn’t be complaining.”

Erin shook her head. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry. Mine wasn’t that bad anyways.”

“Constantly tasting sweetness whenever those monsters got near? You used to keep eating saltines and other salty things to get rid of that taste. I know I would have been just as annoyed—but I guess you’re right.”

Erin had a grim smile on but still tried to be cheerful in tone. “To be honest, you being annoyed is not hard to do.”

Freya laughed. “Ain’t that the truth?”

The front door opened as two men around Freya and Erin’s age walked in with a pizza box. Vincent had a toothy smile on. “Special delivery!”

“About time!” Freya said. “I thought you texted saying you were on your way back.”

Vincent said, “About that… Matt over here thought he heard there was an attack in the vicinity.”

Mateo took off his headphones and looked at Vincent to get a repeat of what they said. Mateo then spoke calmly. “The birds were especially vocal. I thought I heard the word ‘beasts’ among them.”

Freya grinned. “There are a lot of birds out there right now. I’m sure it was hard to pick out key words.”

“Yes. Mostly about food or mating otherwise.”

“That’s the life though: a whole lot of eating and a whole lot of screwing. I’d be down with that.”

Erin gave Freya an elbow jab to the side. “Don’t say that!”

Vincent said, “You’d be down with bearing so many birds’ eggs and flying every winter?”

“Over doing these papers and getting a job? You’d bet your ass I would!”

Mateo coughed. “Let’s eat.”

The crew sat down at the dinner table and dug into the pizza. Freya took the forefront in conversation, chattering away with the guys. Vincent was being playful with his little quips and comments. Mateo would smile sometimes, saying little but pondered thoughtfully over. As Vincent would put it: “He’s a writer; it’s just kind of in his nature to think over his words twice.” Erin kept to herself. The other three looked as though they could sustain themselves without her input. She dissolved perfectly into the background, seeming to not want to exist. Nobody called her out on this.

With the pizza box completely empty, everyone said their thanks. Mateo and Freya got up.

“One last check before the day’s over,” Freya said to Vincent and Erin. “Hang tight, you two. Don’t fall asleep until we get back.” She said with a wink and left the house with Mateo.

Vincent laughed nervously. “Is she always like that?”

Erin smiled. “Just a bit.”

He turned to her. “You didn’t talk much at dinner. Something wrong?”

She blinked. “Huh? Oh… I don’t know. I just didn’t feel like talking.”

“Tired from helping with Freya’s draft?”

“No. I… don’t know. I just wasn’t motivated to talk.”

“Perhaps we got carried away in our conversation before. Sorry.”

“Please don’t worry about it. It’s nothing.”

Silence fell between them. Vincent observed Freya. Her posture was straight and her face neutral in any sort of emotion. She had a faraway look in her eyes, but it was not as though she was not receptive to anyone. More often than not, she had to be spoken to to get any sort of reaction out of her. And even when that was the case, it was like someone had to put words in her mouth to actually speak.

“You know,” Vincent spoke out suddenly. “We hardly know each other despite now living in this house.”

“Well, we were just housemates before. We had no real reason to talk to each other.”

“I mean, we tried to converse, but everyone had different time schedules. And even a week after getting our powers, we hardly talked.”

“I suppose. I had to help Freya with her draft.”

“How’s that coming along?”

“We finished it. Now we need to make sure the facts and logic are sound and edit.”

“That’s good. So… how about you?”

“Hm?”

“You’ve seemed kind of down since this whole thing happened.”

Erin grinned. “I never would have expected new people to be in on this. In a way, I feel guilty. I know it isn’t my fault, but I feel like as though I brought everyone else into this mess.”

Vincent hand-waved at her. “Nothing of the sort. Don’t worry about it.”

Erin looked down. “If only my brother was still here and alive… If only I was kidnapped along with him…”

“But you still don’t know if you brother’s dead, right? We don’t even know if his possible death would have caused us to have powers.”

“I’m pretty certain he is. It’s a feeling. I just feel that he’s dead and his death is related to everyone getting powers.”

“If that’s the case, then I’m sorry.”

Erin smiled. “It’s okay. I’ve accepted the possibility for years. I won’t cry for something that I’ve been thinking could happen and has finally now happened.”

“I don’t think I could have held it together like you have. You’re tough, Erin.”

She shook her head. “Tough or unemotional? I’ve been told since I was young that I’m emotionally strong. I don’t quite think so. I didn’t even cry when my brother was taken away from me by a bird monster. I didn’t cry when it happened, and I didn’t cry afterwards.” Her lips pressed together into a straight line. “I wanted to but… it’s like a though someone said I couldn’t—that I’m unable to cry. I don’t remember the last time I did.”

The door opened to a sighing Freya and Mateo. “And I just got done eating too,” Freya whined. “Trouble just down the street.”

Erin and Vincent followed the two towards the destination. A cloud of birds flew overhead cawing into a cacophony. Mateo covered his ears and gritted his teeth. “Damn birds never shut up.”

“Any news on the monsters?” Vincent said.

“Wolves… a bear? Yes, a bear.”

“A bear?! Things have only gotten tougher.”

They rounded the corner and witnessed the small figure of a portly man taking aim at the bear with his pistol. To the group, they saw a full-sized bear with black tattoo marking along with the curvatures of its paper-white body; but, to the man, the bear was nothing more than floating tattoo marks in the air, snarling at him and reading its arm to strike at him. The group now started to make a break for it and scream at the man to run away, yet the man stood his ground.

The man fired multiple rounds at the bear. They phased through the bear, only for the bear to narrow its black ink eyes and roar. Two tattooed wolves launched themselves onto the man, chomping down on his shoulders, bringing the man down to his knees. The man screamed and tried to swat at the wolves to no avail as his hand went through them. He cursed; he attempted to shake them off; he cried as the bear raised its arm.

The bear roared a final time before bringing it down across the man’s neck. Instead of the expected blood, the man’s body turned into a mass of black ink words. All the man’s possessions fell to the floor. The group had just arrived as the man was erased from existence. The wolves licked their chops. The bear growled at the wolves, seeming to send messages to not eat what it wanted. The wolves did not mind. They picked whatever words and scarfed them down. The bear sniffed around and found its appropriate words.

The bear grew bigger, tall enough to be on level with the pine trees, and roared a monster’s roar. The wolves’ bodies meanwhile disappeared. Their tattoos got longer and reformed into different shapes as skeletal frames for new bodies. Only when they were done shifting around did their bodies come back into existence. One became a falcon with a horrendous screech and the other a snorting boar stomping its leg in a preparation for a charge.

“Shit…” Freya shook her head. “Too late.”

Mateo had a grimaced look about him. “Another gone. But let’s destroy them. They’ll only get stronger if they keep eating like that.”

Vincent stepped forth. “Then you know the usual. You two stay back as Erin and I face them.”

“Got’cha, boss-man,” Freya said with a tinge of sarcasm. “What I wouldn’t give to be able to punch these monsters if I could.”

The boar didn’t wait for a second longer. It squealed and charged towards Erin. Erin stood as she was. She narrowed her eyes as the pounded towards her. It was a small boar, barely taller than a middle-sized dog, so she lowered herself and extended her right index and middle fingers. The boar jumped up to dig its tusk into her heart, but she stretched out her two fingers at the last second against the boar, casting up a reflective shield. She cringed, feeling some of the impact on just her two fingers, but a majority of the fatal blow went back on the boar, where it was deflected and cried out in pain. Its facial ink cracked and disappeared. Being “headless,” the boar’s body faded away.

“Easy,” Erin said under her breath.

“Not easy!” Vincent had been the distraction for the bear on its hind legs, which was looking more at Erin than at Vincent. The bear kept inching its way towards her, but Vincent kept getting in its way and trying to touch the bear. Seeing an ally go down earlier, the bear avoided Vincent’s touch. “Not going to hurt you for long, buddy, but you mustn’t look at my friend like that. She doesn’t like it.” The bear growled at him and raised its arm sideways. Vincent readied himself. With a ferocious roar, the bear swiped at Vincent with the back of its paw, swatting away at a nuisance rather than killing it. Vincent had dodged one swing but couldn’t respond in time for the other, taking a blow. He did, however, manage to touch the bear’s arm. The bear got on its four paws and began running towards Erin, but it lost its balance and crashed to the floor. It roared seeing its arm-ink fade under the sunlight more quickly than it should—and behind it was the detached paw becoming transparent. The creature struggled to balance itself on three legs. Vincent got himself up as fast as he could, holding himself together from the pain, and stroked along the bear’s side and up to the supposed-brain area, deepening the pressure as though to penetrate the skull. The bear groaned and its mouth dropped as the entirety of the head was fading fast.

The body would disappear eventually, but the two now needed to take care of the falcon, which it had hidden itself amongst the scattering birds high above. Erin and Vincent peered into the avian mass.

“Hey!” Freya called out, looking up at the sky. There were tiny bodies of red and orange, but only one where the body was blue and green in entirety. Its head was cocked in Erin’s direction. “Erin, watch out!”

The falcon screeched and dived fast at Erin. Without much time to think, Erin side-stepped and was grazed in the arm. She turned around to see the bird also returning, this time with talons outstretched to claw her face. Mateo intervened, throwing a fist, but it dodged his attack and kept flying. Erin moved away and gasped as its talon scratched her chest. She kept trying to step back but it had it out for her heart. Vincent reached for it to no avail. “Cunning bastard!” he shouted.

Scrape after scrape, Erin accrued a lot of damage to herself and she could not get her fingers to reflect the bird’s attack. Freya snuck up from the falcon’s back as it was concentrated on Erin. Before the falcon could sense where Erin’s eyes lingered, Freya grabbed a hold of it. “Now!” Vincent touched it and the group watched as the bird eventually disappeared.

Mateo breathed out. “The monsters had it out for you today, Erin.”

Erin coughed. “I suppose so. I don’t know why.”

“They really didn’t want you to exist.” Freya placed a shoulder on Erin and smiled. “But don’t worry. We won’t let them, right guys?”

Vincent tried to keep the spirits up by smiling himself. “Right.”

Erin smiled back. “Well, I suppose we are done here. Shall we head back?”

The group started to walk towards the rental house.

“Do you think we’ll ever find out what’s going on around here?” Freya said while stifling a yawn.

“I don’t know,” Erin said. “But we can’t let people get killed like this any longer. All I know is that I think I’m ready for bed.”

Vincent yawned. “Me too. What about you, Matt?”

Mateo shook his head. “I think I’ll write for a bit. It’s been a while since I have.”

“Oh yeah. Did you ever figure out what you were doing with that character you said you had no idea what to do?”

“Mm… I think I either need to remove him from the story in some way.”

“What? Like send him on a long bus ride?”

“Maybe. But it might be more interesting if he was dead.”

“A little cruel—but that might be a good idea. The main character dies. Yeah. I think I like that idea!”

Oops. Might have been over the time limit. Don't worry if I didn't make it. I was really having a bad time with this one.

And anyone that's interested to know what I was going for here and probably failed at doing:

The people in this story are just that: people in a story. They are unaware for now that they are not real people.

The true villain is outside of their world. The hints I were trying to drop were that the villain is the author.

The idea came to me a long time ago when I noticed some people interested in writing creating very sadistic scenarios for their characters. Even I have committed “writing out a character” via death or sending them away. This whole story was about the author’s attempt to “write out” Erin.

The author (I’ve dubbed Insofert) is whatever you imagine to be in terms of appearance, but the personality is this: sadistic and only interested in surprises and excitement. Insofert has created multiple stories and worlds before and we are getting the “fifteenth” one Insofert has ever created. It is the current one as well.

This wouldn’t be as explained right now but basically Erin was a character created by Insofert made with the intention of “passive strength.” She cries little; she hardly puts herself out there; she is committed to what she deems her task. But to someone reading the story, Erin is rather “boring.” She seemed little affected even when her brother was taken away and killed (this was an attempt for Insofert to change her character). Erin probably “worked” too effectively—and so Insofert is now starting to try to write her out of the story in place of more “exciting” and “dynamic” characters.

So there you go.

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Oh right, I forgot to end this in time. I'll let Dual Dragons' entry slide, since I wasn't around to end the competition on time. Anyway, this round is officially over. Give me some time to assemble the poll.

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Don't have time to update the topic title and everything, so have a prompt instead. This one was inspired by Serious Discussion--hey, don't run off on me!

The One Who Fulfills the Prophecy has arrived! Except there's more than one of them.

Write a story where a prophecy, intended for a single person, applies to multiple people instead. Whether this dooms the world or causes hilarious mayhem is up to you, the author~!

Snowy_One

Glaceon

AnonymousSpeed

Edited by eclipse

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So kinda like how in Harry Potter, how Harry or Neville could have technically fulfilled the prophecy? Depending on events.

Edited by Jedi

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