Official RP Thread: The Evolutionist's Stone

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Celadon's Penultimate
Back with Jack Ryder and "his entourage" (as he would refer to them from now on in public), a large crowd now gathered outside where they'd seen Pierce fight the giant earlier. Now, there stood a pretty decent-sized wooden stage in the same place. To his left, Ivan, Pierce and Fitz; to his right, Tessa, Nadia and Flores. All of them were telepathically cloaked with only the slightest concentration needed from Tessa; and being in Jack's proximity made the task all the easier.
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…”   --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
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Nadia closed her eyes and remembered Fitz's advice.

"Remember, Naddy, your power lets you lower temperatures. And for this to work, we'll need some water to condense fast and hard. Just focus yer breath and let rip."

Nadia sucked in a deep breath and blew a concentrated blast of frigid air into the upper atmosphere. The air stayed together in a laser-like point for several football fields until it finally expanded all at once in the sky. The suddenly sub-zero atmosphere forced the water in the sky to suddenly clump together in huge amounts, and some extra water froze and drifted slowly to the ground.

It was snowing in Cabral.

Pierce cracked his neck and braced himself like a runner. This was going to suck. A split second later, Pierce Dary was a million Ohms flying through the naked sky. He could feel himself breaking up, but it wouldn't matter soon anyway. The moment he hit the snowclouds, he found a billion tiny conductors just waiting for him to work on. He ricocheted inside the gray stratus clouds like a pinball on horse steroids, yelling in exultation all the while.

The snow was joined by sheet lightning and a roaring thunder, along with demonic buzzing screams.

The crowd began to panic and started to rush to leave, but they ran into a third, and much more horrible, disaster. Before they could leave the square, the ground seemed to fall away in front of them in a precipitous drop. Soon, they were on an impossibly tiny pedestal in the sky, with all the town close to death.

The crowd needed a savior.

That was Jack's cue.

He leaped onto the stage--over the heads of some of the panicked--and struck a pose. All his tattoos were glowing with an unearthly light, and even his eyes were lit from within like he was nothing but a vessel for a force far beyond reckoning. His elemental tattoo glowed hard enough to sunburn a man as the wind picked up and the ground began to shake. When he spoke, it was a lion's roar.

"PEOPLE OF CABRAL" he railed. "I come to you as a man on a mission! For too long we have allowed our lives to be trampled like the dust of the earth beneath these warlords, these fear-mongers, these petty princes, these childish buffoons. I say to you, NO MORE. Today I bring you your key to freedom from the tunnels of this land!"

He raised the stone to the sky and screamed at the top of his lungs.


Pierce dropped from his heavenly perch and struck Ryder harmlessly, flowing over the water on his skin rather than though his bones. The effect was, however, astounding--the stranger was now host to a rippling strobe of power that never touched him. The air around him got very warm and the wood of the stage began to singe beneath his feet.

Ryder raised his fist. "Will you join me?"

The crowd roared in assent.

"Will you fight by my side against our oppressors?"

The crowd cried out louder.


The crowd screamed at the top of its lungs.

Pierce pulled himself off and rematerialized, smoking and smirking. The others made their way up onto the stage in full regalia--Ivan flexing all 4 arms, Nadia sucking the heat out of the air in her space, Tessa (though weakened from the mass hallucination) filling the crowd with subliminal dread, Fitz doing his best to look like a hero, and Flores snarling and grimacing with his sheer rage.

"These are my people, my entourage," Jack explained. "Will you treat them with the respect you do me!?"

The yell said it all.

"GOOD! Now, who here has some technical knowledge?"

A portly, red-faced man stepped forward. "Igor Desvanovich, 30 years car mechanic."

Jack Ryder beamed on the man. "Igor Desvanovich! Build us a car."

The team grinned as one.
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"Bleargh, That's gross," said Flash.

"Oh, right, you've never seen a brain before. Whereas I see them go splat all the time," said Wayne sarcastically as the duo examined the brain of the policewoman whose nametag read Jolyne Isonov,

"This is why you shouldn't use your power to function as an x-ray," said Flash still grossed out but adapting.

"See that over there, That's a wireless probe. It's a sort of artificial loyalty generator."

Flash was confused so Wayne explained in simple terms.

"If you are one of those that go against the warlords and you get captured, they place these on your head so that you become one of their slaves."

Flash's brain became visible. Flash threw up again.

"Just checking," said Wayne calmly but he was really smiling on the inside.

"So what are you going to do when she wakes up, I mean she's a teleporter. Wouldn't she just poof away."

Wayne laughed then explained. "That's what this is for."

Wayne revealed his videophone

"What will that do," asked Flash.

"Not the phone... This..."

Wayne took apart his phone and took out a chip. Then attached the chip to the shock collar he took off Flash and started to place it on the woman.

"Dude, she's not a dog," mused Flash.

"And neither are you," said Wayne sarcastically.

"Now whenever she teleports, the collar will shock her and she will be stunned"

"It's only temporary, we need to get to a brain surgeon to remove that chip," said Wayne.

"No need," said the woman startling both.

The transmitter teleported outside the brain and appeared in Wayne's hands.

"I assume you want to refrain from putting that collar on me."

Wayne and Flash were stunned.

"This is a fake," said Jolyne.

"I was working undercover and you two just blew my cover," said Jolyne.

"And you....." said Jolyne. "Bald is a terrible disguise."

"You mean it wasn't a wig," said Flash thinking that he as a master of disguise would've noticed.

Wayne stared at Flash and Flash soon quieted down.

"You think you're real clever. I expected better from Number 2 Assassin. Did you even try to decode my message."

Wayne uncharacteristically blushed. This should have been the first thing he should have done. He knew about codes and whatnot but he had been quick to judge.

"That data you got, its already in the flash drive under a hidden file. Your friend Fitz would have found it." said the woman.

"Who's Fitz?," said Flash.

"None of your business, crook," yelled Jolyne.

"The local overlords have been observing that motley bunch for a while now and they probably are sending.....

You know what....this is a waste of time we need to get there now...," said Jolyne.

Jolyne pulled Wayne into a teleport near the procession.

"You go warn your comrades, I'm going to take out that sniper," said Jolyne as she teleported to a nearby balcony and knocked down the invisible assailant. (Jolyne has spatial sense able to tell where things are in space within a short proximity of space-time usually used when determining a re-entry point)

Wayne sighed. He had to do this AND he wasn't getting PAID.
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Ericus Europaeus (Bug)
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by 667
While Igor was busy building the team a car, Jack was busy mentally creating a plan. His father, Eric Ryder, spent years teaching him all of his battle strategies from the Superhuman Civil War, and Jack decided he would put them to good use.

"Okay this has to be good." He told himself as he wrote a plan in his notebook, "One mistake and its over...I can't let anything go wrong."

He spent hours working on a plan to spread the rumor about him having the Stone. He went through thousands of scenarios in case anything went wrong.

When it turned to nighttime, Jack got busy training while everyone was asleep. He practiced his hand-to-hand combat with his claws; he trained to keep his amplifying and tattoo powers active as long as possible. But after 5 hours of self-torture, he finally passed out. He woke up at noon.

"Damn, what happened to you?" Flores asked, as he found Jack on the floor, covered in sweat.

"I guess I overstressed myself." Jack replied weakly as he got up.

"Then, why'd you spend all night training?"

"I don't want to mess anything up. If i do anything wrong, it's a matter of lie or death." Jack replied, expression blank to suppress his true feelings. But Flores could tell; Jack was as scared as he's ever been.

"So, what's got you so shook up all of a sudden?" Flores broke Jack's mental silence, "You've been through hell and never been this scared before. I've seen you get shot at, face mobs of people and worse! The hell's the matter with you?"

"All those times, it wasn't so serious. It was all just an adventure before I actually found the Stone. And found out it's a fake. Sure, this plan might work, but if I mess up, its all over. Five years would've all been for nothing. This plan, this...this hoax. Everything... gone. I'm just doing what I can to to make sure nothing can go wrong. Call me crazy; I'm one of those people who believes in a such thing as a fool-proof plan." Jack said, trying to hold back the tears that now came to his eyes; to fight them off, he continued his thought, deciding to end it on a positive note, at least, "You know what? Why am I gettin' all emotional? This plan is gonna work; I'll see to it. This is gonna be epic."

Flores rolled his eyes with a sigh, "Whatever. I'll go to see if Igor is done yet. See ya."

He left Jack there to plot and ponder, and that Jack did.

"I wonder where Wayne i- ooh but first I gotta go eat." Jack said as his stomach growled.
Sonic Mania? Project Sonic 2017?
Time to get out the fanfiction again....
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Re: Offical RP thread.

Celadon's Penultimate
This post was updated on .
"Yeah, figures you would be hungry, hard as you've been working." Tessa spoke abruptly.

"OH! Hey...Tess." Jack calmed down a bit, and wiped a residual tear from his face when he noticed her, "How long you been standin' there?"

"Not long. Couldn't sleep, what with all the excited thoughts in the air. So don't worry, I'm too tired of hearing thoughts to read yours and figure out what that tear is about."

"Ha. Ha ha. Ha." Jack tried to laugh off Tessa's considerably dry half-humor.

The telepath looked at him, considering what could be the matter. She was rarely one to help, but she figured it was the least she could do after he damn-near made her a celebrity in the town. It was quite some show he put on, and she loved being made the center of attention. If he'd scratch her back, she thought, she could scratch his, too.

"Hm. You look tired. Why not have some good ol' fashion psychic therapy?" Tessa suggested with a smile.

"What do you mean, 'psychic therapy'? I'm not into mushroom trips, or LSD or anything."

"Uh, not exactly what I had in mind." Tessa laughed, "But I guess it's close. Come over to this table and take my hands." The two walked over to the table along the wall next to the door, sat down and reluctantly, Ryder put his hands into hers.

In an instant, the two dropped their heads, as though they were about to undergo some sort of seance. Ryder opened his eyes and looked around. Sure enough, he was soaring above the clouds, and looking down on the town of Cabral with a view often only enjoyed by the birds, airplane passengers and certain superhumans. The friction was a massaging wind current under his stomach, the thermal was warm and pleasing to his face. The wind whipped back his hair gently, and his eyesight and breathing were in no way impaired. It was like flight was his true superhuman ability, and he loved it.

Of course, it was all an illusion, but it was certainly enjoyable. He wondered what would happen next, and his wondering seemed to control his journey. The instant he thought of it, he dropped from the sky (only a few feet coincidentally), and was now in the jungle. With a wave, he cleared a whole aisle of trees, and brought some animals to his side and scared others away. The air blustered behind him, announcing his less-than-subtle influence over the green pathway. A large rock rose out of the ground under his feet, elevating him about 15 ft., before he jumped off the pillar. Only he didn't land on the ground, on the other side of the pillar. Instead, he was tumbling out of the sky like a freefaller.

Now winds rushed past him at speeds which were blinding compared to when he was flying. He saw the sky growing farther and farther away, with clouds whirling past him just as rapidly. Yet, strangely, no fear possessed him. It seemed sort of natural, in fact. Even exciting. The whirling air, the temporarily-blinding clouds, growing closeness of his body to the ground. It was exhilarating. He let out an excited "WHOOOOOO!" as he tumbled from the heavens. 'Oh, yeah', he thought, 'Tessa really knows how to cast a good illusion'. He fell only another second, before he landed (much softer than he really would have) into a vast, seemingly-endless, shoreless sea marked by its turbulent waves.

He twisted and turned turbulently in the waters, before he was swept under by a great-big tidal wave. Panic seemed the farthest thing from him, though. In fact, the experience was quite intense. Looking beneath the gem-blue waters, with calming pressure on all sides, at fish of seemingly-alien species, it was totally unheard-of, this feeling. He swam through the waters with the slightest effort, and had no need to hold his breath, making the experience all the easier. At his slightest inclination, the water swept him up with even greater force, into a powerful sloshing current. He closed his eyes and floated through the waters until he met yet another strange shift in his journey. In an instant, he was no longer wet, but instead, totally neat and dry on the floor of a Japanese-style room, furnished with nothing more than a place mat, a bonsai plant and one of those japanese changing curtains.

"Where is this?" Ryder asked nobody in particular.

"This," Tessa spoke softly as she materialized next to Ryder's mat, "Is what I use to unwind and get myself relaxed, and focused. It's a meditation center. After all that mind-wandering, it's a nice way to just kick back and breathe." She smiled before closing her eyes. The two remained there for what seemed to be an hour (but in real time only turned out to be about ten minutes), meditating, contemplating and discussing the whole time.

"How 'bout after this, we grab a bite?"

"Good idea", Tessa laughed, agreeing with Ryder completely.
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…”   --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
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The room quavered and shook like melting ice. Tessa gripped her mat, swore, and waved an imaginary hand. The calm Japanese meditation hut was replaced by a jittering, jumping, 360-degree view of a fight.

Ryder leapt to his ephemeral feet and immediately lost his balance. The distended view was wreaking havok on his figurative stability.

Tessa grunted an apology and gestured the scene into a slightly more manageable screenview. Now the point was clear--the bottom of the mesa was being assaulted by a small army of ragtag soldiers, none of whom seemed particularly powerful. The problem was, Cabral wasn't particularly powerful. This assaulting army would overrun the podunk town faster and more thoroughly than a bulldozer.

Tessa and Ryder swore colorfully and briefly.

"Whose eyes are these?" Ryder wondered.

Tessa said, "Ivan's. He has the resistance of a 13-year-old when it comes to this stuff."

"ALLO LUV!" Ivan's voice boomed out of nowhere. "RATHER BUSY AT THE MOMENT."

"Jesus Christ on a bike!" exclaimed Jack Ryder. "Not so loud, Bruiser."

"Sorry. Didn't know you were in on this too. You, uh, getting some--"

Tessa rolled her mental eyes and interjected, "We are not having mental 'sexytoime', Ivan Fisk. For the last time, I never do that."

"Just checking. While you've been gone in La-La Land, we've gotten a visit from a small contingent of the neighboring warlord's fighting force. They're a weak bunch, but darned persistent. One moment please!" Jack and Tessa saw 4 hands attached to brawny arms swing in and grab a foot soldier's head, then throw him with a football spiral into the churning mass. "At this rate, we'll be down quick. Unless we get some help, that is."

"Really a fan of the guilt trip, isn't he?" Jack mused.

Tessa smiled briefly, then SHOVED her hands down beneath her navel.

The room dropped away and the two found themselves holding hands in the noonday sun.

Jack winced as the hunger pangs hit him but said, "Get us Wayne NOW," before standing and sprinting toward the scene of the fight.

Tessa watched him go and then squeezed her eyes shut.
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Wayne was about to kill a infantryman with his own sand-forged knife when Tessa hit his brain.

He stumbled momentarily and the soldier recovered, flipped his knife into reverse grip and got ready to plunge it into the top of the assassin's skull like he was a bald jack-o-lantern. Wayne Cobane cross-blocked high, kicked his assailant in the crotch, stole his crude weapon, and sliced open his chest before muttering "Tessa Mand, you could have not possibly come in at a worse time."

< I know,> hissed Tessa. <Where are you right now?>

Wayne bit his lip in concentration as he hurled the knife into a crystal man's flaw, shattering him on the spot. "I think I'm at the north edge of the mesa! Jack Flash and Jolyne are here with me." The woman in question flitted past and punched a man in the liver, who then proceeded to have the look of shock and pain than a man only has after being punched in the liver.

<Jolyne? Is she with us?>

"Kiiinda," Wayne drawled. "Look, we can discuss it later; where is everyone?"

<South end,> she said after a brief pause. <You seem to have encountered an ambush force. We can't spare any men and the fight to the south is going badly.>

"Well that's awesome news," Wayne snarled as he discombobulated a elastic man before tying his neck to his leg. "You got any more uplifting cheer? Are all my bullets blanks? Does Susanne want to get back together? Am I a daddy?"

<Just get down there,> she said before removing herself.

Wayne offered some choice oaths to the clean desert air before screaming, "Flash! Jolyne! We gotta get to the south!"

Jack Flash gulped down some more air before hurling a knife at a mob. The knife became the knives midair and the flechette-esque result downed several and slowed most. "Are you joking? There has to be a good 25 people here!"

Jolyne Isionov smiled grimly and flying-side-kicked a strongman. "That's at least half of what we started with! Good..JOB!"
This last word was punctuated by an uppercut to the rising strongman's throat. With an Amazonian battle cry, she elbowed a feralman's muzzle and swept him off his feet with a takedown.

Wayne's invisible eyebrows rose. That wasn't the only thing being swept off its feet...He shook the thought aside. She was half his age--amoral he was, creepy he was NOT. And besides, he had far more respect for her as a secret agent and fighter than as a romantic interest; women his age tended to be much more interesting.

"But darned if I'm not getting impressed with her, eh hairy?" he asked a bearded fighter before striking several pressure points and kicking him in the jaw. He stood over his moaning corpse for a second to remark on how untalkative he was, and then moved on to his next victim.


Down south, things were going about as smoothly.

Flores tore through hordes of soldiers like a dog through rats, noisily and joyfully, teeth bared and mind deadened. Ivan followed in his wake, using his extra arms to nonchalantly crush ribs and elbow faces. The two dreadnoughts cleared a path for the others to follow through the middle of the group.

First came Pierce, confident and cocky as always, firing off electrical charges left, right, and sideways. Some bolts jumped from soldier to soldier--chain lightning--and at these Pierce Dary laughed. He wrapped his hands around a Durable Man and surged enough power through his skull to kill a moose; the soldier blinked hard and drew his fist back.

Nadia shot forward out of nowhere and grabbed his forearm. It immediately froze solid as a rock and a sharp kick shattered it like winter ice. The frosty woman then turned to the shocked crowd and exhaled a blast of subzero air, coating them with a sheen of frozen water.

"Back in Ireland, we call that RIME!" cried Fitz to mask his nervousness and fear. His makeshift weapon, a tremendous monkey wrench, really helped his fear. Every once in a while, it would connect as he lashed out with a heartening clang and he would smile big.

The Irishman's optomism, however, did not help the situation. The enemy was 300 strong, and though only about a tenth of them had powers, the weight of numbers and the crew's fatigue proved a powerful obstacle.

Flores stumbled and the soldiers fell on him. One whipped out a gun and pressed it to his temple.

It seemed like all was lost.
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Suddenly, the crowd fell quiet. You could have heard a pin drop onto the dusty desert floor and then each mote of dust settle back to its ancestral home. Far off, a vulture gave a croaking caw.

"Ah, silence, blessed silence," a deep voice said. Flores caught glimpses of a huge form striding through the crowd, parting hardened, toughened soldiers with its presence. "Leroy Brownlow once said, 'There are times when silence has the strongest voice.' Wise man. Wrote several books on the books of the Bible, I believe; lived to a ripe old age." The voice was calming and cultured but also menacing, like a librarian from the depths of Sheol.

The soldiers surrounding Flores parted and the strongman got a good look at his potential savior.

The man was huge and wide--easily seven feet tall. His face was a patchwork of skin hues and tones, and one eye was hidden by a ominous patch. A trenchcoat hid most of him, but he shrugged that off and handed it nonchalantly to a gaping soldier to reveal a mismatch of gleaming metal and unnatural muscles, topped off by an improbable cape.

The monster grinned, every tooth different than the one next to it. "Now gentlemen, I must ask--are any of you religious men? Please answer me quickly and concisely."

A single hand raised near the back of the crowd.

The monster raised his eyebrows, nodded, and pursed his lips. "I would suggest you leave."

His metallic right arm reshaped itself into a buzzsaw and Mickey D went to work.

The fight went shortly after that. The six of them proved more than a match for the remaining soldiers and the warlord ordered a hasty retreat. Flores pumped a weary fist in the air as he watched the army leave. "I haven't fought like that in ages!" he wheezed. "Not since the Great Skirmish of 2014, at least."

Ivan chuckled and clapped his fellow strongman on the back. "Oi can tell."

Mickey D raised a ham-like hand. "Kind fellows," he began, "you have clearly proved your abilities and skills to me and the people of Cabral today. May I have the pleasure of introducing to you my employer and dear friend, Lord Waits." He moved his 500-pound frame aside to reveal a skinny, hunched man in a bowler hat and dissheveled suit. Piercing blue eyes shot out from the depths of a leathery, wrinkled face decorated by a single soul patch.

Lord Waits spoke. "Boys--and lady--I owe you a debt of gratitude. I'm the 'warlord' of this town and 2 others, but I'm really a benevolent guy." His voice was warm sandpaper rubbed over a Victrola horn in the middle of a storm. "Never managed to get a good army going, which was totally my fault and inexcusable. I gotta hand it to you, you saved a lotta lives from that jerk Lord Cohen. Always wanted this little gem for his own."

Ivan raised his hand cautiously. "Lord Cohen? As in, LEONARD Cohen?"

Lord Waits shrugged his hunched shoulders. "What do YOU think, huh?" He chuckled an infectious but horrifying laugh.

Flores stepped forward and said, "We're not just here for the scenery, Lord Waits. We have a stone of incredible power that we're going to use to overthrow evil overlords back east--the Evolutionist's Stone."

The man's already-wrinkled forehead grew more lines. "Evolutionist's Stone, eh? That's a kicker. I'll help you any way I can--providing support, a home for refugees, a communications camp--but with one little detail." He smiled. "I want you to help me run for President when all this is over."

Flores grinned. "Done."

Out of nowhere, Jack Ryder came running up. "What happened? Where's the fight?"

Mickey lumbered forward. "Mickey D at your kind service. I tried other names--Michael Donalson, Matthias Driver--but none really had that ring. Your friends proved themselves quite the fighters here."

Jack grabbed the enormous hand and shook it nervously. "Jack Ryder, de facto leader of this mismatched group."

The monster smirked. "Trust me, you use mismatched in the lightest sense of the word." He turned to the strangely charismatic leader. "This is Lord Waits, my employer. He has offered to help you in any way he can."

Jack Ryder cocked his head. "Waits...Waits...where have I seen you before?"

Lord Waits smiled and scratched at his soul patch. "I was in a coupla movies. Minor roles, like."

Jack nodded his head and said, "Let's talk business."
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"We agreed on a set of terms," Jack explained later to Wayne as they raced across the desert in their souped-up Humvee.

"He would back us in every way he could--routing communications, sending some monetary support, such and so forth--and we would travel east to NYC, liberating as many large cities as we could. He really believes in us, Wayne. He really does."

"Too bad it's a lie," Wayne mused as he looked back to the sleeping six--Flores, Pierce, Tessa, Nadia, Ivan, and Fitz--in the expanded back. "Lookit them all, so sound asleep. You know, I invited Jack Flash along, but he didn't bite. Something about me must just make him nervous, I guess." He smirked for a moment.

"What about Jolyne?" Jack asked.

Wayne adjusted himself back to normal sitting position. "Jolyne?"

"Yeah, Tessa told me about her. Didja invite her too?"

Wayne looked out through the window at the rapidly passing desert. "Uh, she couldn't make it. She had a sick mother back in Cabral. Terrible shame. You know, she wasn't really that strong of a fighter. We had to save her skin so many times."

Jack shot him a glance. "Shame."

Wayne Cobane got comfortable in his seat. "Say, what was the name of the overlord back there?"

The other man shrugged. "Dunno his first name. Only called himself Lord Waits. Funny little guy; hunched over, wearing some kinda fedora, talked with a warm rasp--"

The assasin shot up in his seat. "Lord WAITS?" He began fumbling at the door handle. "Let me out of here, I'm going back to Cabral!"

Jack cast him a fish eye. "Wayne, we're going 70 miles an hour and the mesa's about 500 miles back. What's so important about this Lord Waits?"

Wayne lowered his sunglasses and gave the inhuman man a look that would wilt a flower. "You mean you've never heard of TOM WAITS?"

He rolled his eyes. "No, and I don't care. We're not driving back, got it?"

Wayne flumped down in his seat and slouched until his chin touched his chest. His murderous mutterings of red-eyed young-uns with no respect for real music and how he oughta garrot every last one of them were only cut off by his snoring. The Humvee raced across the desert past the last of the mesas and stupendous cliffs, skimming like a speedboat. It raised a dusty trail that could be seen for miles.

On the last of the cliffs, Jolyne Isonov lowered her night vision goggles. Their trail was clear. Contact could wait till morning.
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Celadon's Penultimate
This post was updated on .
Not the slightest bit thinking of rest, Tessa, eyes still closed, gleaned the air quickly to find Pierce's mind. She accidentally grabbed Fitz's mind, and then let it go before again mistakenly gripping onto Nadia's little dream soap opera (narrated in Spanish, of course). She hated looking for minds over the roar of car engines. After she touched Jack's mind, and stumbled imperceptibly onto Wayne's memories, she finally latched onto Pierce's mind. When he wasn't busy outputting immense amounts of electricity, he was more than easy to read.

<Hey, there, Sparky.>

<Hey, yourself, Mandy...>

The two sat in temporary mental silence waiting for Tessa to think up some exotic, or erotic or romantic place for them to have their rendezvous. The instant she thought of it, a red satin room appeared before the two and in the middle, a satin red bed shaped like an immense heart. It was kind of corny, to be sure, but it was definitely something they could BOTH appreciate.

<Mandy...really?> Pierce thought-laughed at the telepath's choice of settings.

<YOU wanna try better?> she retorted cutely, <Besides, it's the most private place you're gonna get.>

Pierce loved her humor. It was kind of like his. In fact, that was how the two met. He took her hand and the two made their way to the big, plushy bed.

<Well, I can think of some more interesting stuff to do...> Pierce smiled wickedly, <We do THIS all the time. Romantic stuff. Why not something else...?>

<Oh, really? Like what...?> Tessa didn't read his mind to find the answer. It ruined the surprise.

He gave it only a second of thought, before he thought of something he really wanted to do.

<Let's mind-jump.> He announced finally, catching Tess more than a bit off-guard. He didn't seem the type concerned with the thoughts of others. Then again, it was just like him to let out a different side when others weren't looking. She looked over to his beaming face, and nodded. Mind-jumping it was. In the briefest instant, they blinked from Tessa's little mental love-nest to a jungly wilderness.

<What the heck? Where is this?> Pierce asked, a mix of nervous and excited.

<No clue, Sparky!> Tess laughed as the two ran through the wilds, <The mind-jump was random!>

The two dashed through dense thickets, laughing all the way. Birds flew overhead, deer ran beside them, and the bugs seemed far too uninterested to bite or sting. It was more than perfect, it seemed. Suddenly, however, something broke the perfect solitude. Tessa and Pierce came to an abrupt stop at the same time behind a thicket that overlooked a group of natural springs. Gesturing once again, Tessa cleared the steam, and what she saw made her jaw drop.

<Oh, my--> 

<Shh! You'll give us away!> Pierce whispered, <And I wanna see what happens...>

Little did they know they had run into the dream of none other than...Ivan. He sat bare-chested in a natural crater filled with waters warmed by an underground geyser. What's more, the bruiser was surrounded by a harem of mind-numbingly beautiful women, tending to him like a prince, and clothed with nothing more than their birthday suits. It was definitely something Tessa wished she could un-see.

Pierce, however, found the thought hilarious; so hilarious, it turned out, that he burst out laughing.

<OI!> Ivan broke the silent solitude of his fairly-erotic dream, <WHO'S THERE?!>

At the startling outcry, the two realized they were about to be caught. Pierce took Tessa's hand, and the two mind-jumped elsewhere, leaving Ivan to his kinky fantasy.

In the real world, Jack and Wayne noticed that a smile had grown on both Pierce and Tessa's sleeping faces, while at the same time, Ivan's face had turned into a menacing grimace.

"Wonder what they're dreamin' about." Wayne chuckled.

"Meh, let 'em dream," Jack replied, "They deserve a LITTLE downtime."
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…”   --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
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Ericus Europaeus (Bug)
After about a hour or so of driving to break the silence Jack asked ‘wanna play some poker?’ *Whatever* Wayne said as Jack dealt the cards ‘High stakes anything we can bet no take backs’ Jack said grinning. Jack had a ace and two queens Wayne had 2 aces *its in the bag there’s no way I am going to lose to him* Wayne thought as he raised the bet 50$. Jack flashed back into his mind when his father Eric taught him his famous card in sleeve trick. *Its all in the wrist son never let a card slip out unless you want it to* And Jack flashed back and flawlessly switched 2 aces into his hand and switched his queen into the deck.

*2 aces beat that* Wayne said with a cocky look on his face. ‘O yeah well 3 aces I win’ Jack said embarrassing him. *hold up theres only 4 aces in poker you f***’ Wayne growled as he slammed his hands on the table which woke everyone up. ‘Oi Whats happening’  Ivan said mad from getting his dream smashed. *Jack is a damned cheater* ‘o yeah like you weren’t gonna cheat yerself’ Jack retorted.

‘I oughta slash your bald head right now’ Jack yelled brandishing his claws  *come on freak the lights green* Wayne said as he pulled out his guns. Everything was silent it was only a matter of time before a fight would break out
Sonic Mania? Project Sonic 2017?
Time to get out the fanfiction again....
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Tessa and Pierce woke up, Pierce fumbling with his fly until his conscious mind caught up with his subconscious mind.

"What the--put your stuff away, you idiots! You're driving the car!" he hissed.

Jack's rage was overtaken by the illegitimate spawn of something like panic and embarassment and he turned back to the road. Wayne grumbled a little more and holstered his custom revolvers. Pierce flumped back into his seat disgustedly.

There was an awkward silence before Wayne spoke. "Where'd you learn that wrist flip thing?" he grunted while looking out the window.

Jack glanced over at the sullen Wayne Cobane. "My father, Eric Ryder."

Ivan was suddenly a lot less grumpy. "You knew RYDER? I thought--"

Tessa felt the twinge before everyone else did. There was a tiny sensation like glass shattering, and then everyone's vision was swimming with color and pattern. Blue satin, purple darkness, blatant unremorseful green all clouded their minds and their eyes. Fitz woke up, eyes dilated wide like he was in bright sunlight. Pierce's blue eyes swam with red interwoven with threads of orange. Even Ivan was feeling the strange force, and Flores had not a hint of anger on his face.

A sensation told Jack he should pull over, so he brought the car to a screeching halt, turned it off, and almost fell out of the doorframe when he exited. He stared at a point in the sky, amazed and awed. Everyone else shuffled over and stared too.

The colors and patterns warped and twisted to reveal a human form floating in midair, playing minor-key music on something weighty, and smiling with brilliant teeth.

Flores waved a scarred hand. "Hey Ben."

For indeed it was the superhuman musician. As more shades and details became apparent, it became clear that The Bassist's previously spotless suit jacket was replaced by a ragged vest, and his shined shoes by tire sandals. The top of his head--the illusion was incredible--even looked a little sunburnt.

"Hey fellas. Who're the new kids?" His voice sounded perfectly normal.

"Ivan Fisk, Pierce Dary, Tessa Mand, Nadia Gonzales, Fitz Tanner...and you've already met Wayne," said Jack.

Ben rolled his illusory eyes and played an arpeggio down to tonic. "And I will remember two of those. C'mon, Ace, go easy on the weary."

Tessa chuckled, but Flores stepped forward. "So what's the occasion?"

Ben leaned forward in a ghostly fashion. "Aw, man, I got a story to tell YOU."
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Ben's shiny dress shoe hit Rio's dirt road. The rest of him followed and took a look around.

Rio De Janeiro reminded Ben of a puzzle, every little piece different but somehow essential to the whole. The sharp edges of a conventional skyscraper jammed up against the smooth edges of Sugarloaf Mountain rubbing shoulders with a Presbyterian cathedral that would put to shame any Catholic church, which was cheek by jowl with a street full of people as crowded and diverse as the city they lived in--black, white, brown, red. All the people, all the buildings, were under a brilliant tropical sun and a sky as blue as the bay the city surrounded. The beach was white and beautiful--and packed, typically. But Ben didn't mind--at 22 degrees south of the equator, people tended to wear a lot less clothing.

Byne slugged him on the shoulder. "Stop smiling and let's get out of here."

Ben sighed and went to the bus' undercarriage. Waiting for him was his beautiful upright bass, made of the finest wood, resting in its travel case. The cloth case featured straps not unlike those of a backpack, so carrying the unwieldy instrument would be a lot less of an issue.

He hoisted the instrument onto his back and nodded at Byne Turner. "You ready?"

Byne gave him a look. "Ben, I have been ready for the three days I was riding on THAT." He gestured contemptuously toward the retreating bus, then looked up to the hills. "Those the favelas or whatever you're talking about?"

Ben looked up at the hills. "Yep. That's where we'll find my friend."
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Favelas always made Ben wistful and sad.

Shantytowns balanced on the tightrope of the hills overlooking the city, they were held together with Catholic prayers and glue. The roofs were as ramshackle as the buildings they perched on--tin, wood, stone, corrugated iron. The buildings were gray and made of concrete, but that is not to say they were clean. Rather, they were as scarred as veterans, sporting pits, bullet wounds, some even displaying their rebar innards for the world to see. The inhabitants of the town were scarred too--but proud, and resourceful. Stairways, sidewalks, alleys, even planks of wood stretched between buildings made the place a mysterious labyrinth of drug gangs, haunted eyes, hopeful children, and hopeless causes.

Byne and Ben walked along a cobblestone road. It was partly cloudy outside, and the buildings towered over them like sentries.

"Ey, companheiros!" a voice called from behind them.

Ben froze and turned so he could see. It was, indeed a group of bored young men. And bored young man up here was a synonym for deadly agile mugger. Worse yet, Ben didn't speak Portuguese. Before he could ask them if they 'parlez vous francais', Byne stepped forward and gave them his biggest grin.

"What are you DOING?" Ben hissed in his quietist voice.

"Relax. I took 4 years of this in high school," Byne reassured.

The leader of the gang stepped forward. He had enough ink to write a book disseminated across his hide. "What brings you here to beautiful Brazil?" he asked in Portuguese.

Byne cleared his throat and extended his hand dramatically. "We have eats you see the sights and meet the people," he enunciated with great aplomb.

The leader was taken aback. "What?"

Byne continued with the grace of a Shakespearean actor. "Tell me, of it you live here? Is will be it very majestic."

The gangster was totally out of his comfort zone. "Um...thank you very much, I guess." He straightened up and hardened his gaze. "So you got any money on you, tourist?"

Byne decoded this response and then declared majestically, "Not, we are very poor." He gestured at Ben. "That one is not a low one that my friend has. Its low case is full of bricks without value."

The leader shook his head and blinked hard. "This is hurting my brain. Screw it."

He pulled a knife that would have made Crocodile Dundee blanch and jammed it up under Byne Turner's ribcage, driving it into his heart. Ben scrambled to open his bass case. Shit just got real.

The lead gangster twisted his knife around visciously, grinning maliciously at the visceral noises that squirted forth. He looked up with evil eyes at Byne's face--and his face fell like the imaginary bricks in Ben's bass. The tourist's face was calm and collected. "I have the hope that I did not damage its knife excessively," he said, then shoved the intruding wrist out of his chest cavity with a great spurt of blood.

The 8-inch blade was twisted like a corkscrew.

At this point Ben had gotten out his weapon and assumed his stance. "This will hurt. A lot."

He played a 4-count sixteenth note rhythm on a B and 16 orange darts shot forth and buried themselves in the gang. 2 were knocked down and out. The remaining 3 looked at their wounds and then started the charge toward the turistas.

Ben looked at Byne and screamed, "What did you say?"

Byne shrugged. "I don't know, it was going so well!!"

And then they ran.
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This post was updated on .
Ben rarely regretted learning to play the upright bass. It was a great instrument, full of character and style, and added an extra dimension of depth and eccentricity to any ensemble it was in.

But in chase scenes he often wished he'd learned to play something smaller, like piccolo or kazoo. He ran around the corner and paused to catch his breath. When he was ready, he stepped out and readied his instrument.

There were things you couldn't do with a kazoo, though. Such as hit a tritone so yellow and clashing that it forced the closest gangster's eyes to cross, his muscles to lose strength, and his heart to seize so hard he dropped to the ground and skidded while weakly clutching his chest. Such as strike the low E string with the side of his thumb and watch the second pursuer's knee explode from the inside, then slap the bass three more times to destroy his elbows and good knee.

Indeed, these were things you couldn't do on a kazoo.

He looked up from the incapacitated gangsters and noted that there were only two men rolling in pain on the favela road. Where was the third? And for that matter, where was Byne?


"Where's Ben?" Byne gasped, running from the third gangster as fast as he could.

Despite his ironclad heart--thanks to a particularily zealous pikeman back in old Colorado--Byne was losing fluids fast from his gaping abdominal wound. His trusty method of hold-it-with-my-hand wouldn't work here, and if he died in this hot pursuit with nobody who knew his true nature around, he might resurrect 6 feet under in an unmarked grave. Or worse...

He looked back and in garbled Portuguese begged for the gangster to stop. He was not surprised when the thug sped up. Byne turned and, while running, ripped his shirtsleeve off and tied it around his abdominal wound. Couldn't fight with his guts dangling there, right?

Byne Turner stopped, braced himself, and reverse-punched the favela gangster right in the throat. The thug gasped for air, but stopped when Byne kneed him in the crotch, stomped on his knee, and then shoved him to the ground. He did not get up.

The victorious superhuman laughed wetly. "Yay for Muay Thai," he gurgled, before pumping his fist in the air. The sudden motion was too much though, and he found himself unusually dizzy. He turned and mindlessly stumbled down the makeshift sidewalk, leaning on buildings every few steps. He needed to find a doctor, and fast.

But it was too late. He could see his vision blurring, his perception dimming, hear nothing but the slowing rush of blood in his ears, smell nothing but himself. Byne Turner recognized all the signs--it was Death, again.

If he could hold on a little longer...get to that Dumpster...

His legs gave out underneath him and he slumped like a puppet with its strings cut. He rolled over onto his back, stared at the sun, and gurgled, "Well, shit."

Before his eyes filmed over, he could have sworn he saw a skinny young woman with curly hair coming near...


"Byne! Byne Turner!" Ben hissed.

It was nighttime in Rio, and Ben still hadn't found hide nor hair of his transiently-dead friend. He should have resurrected by now; the wound wasn't THAT serious. For crying out loud, he'd kept all his limbs this time.

Ben tried his beacon again. He got ready--C, F, G...

Ben stuck the loudest C suspended chord he possibly could and a column of orange interwoven with green exploded from his location and shot up like a spotlight from the street up into the night sky, narrowing to a thin beam only moments later. He waited. Nothing. He sighed and got ready to relax.
"What are you doing, stupid?" a female voice challenged affectionately from an upper window.

Ben turned and flashed his winning smile. "Hello Francesca Vera Borges Santos. How are things?"

She rolled her eyes, but there was a smile in there too. "Come on in, idiot. You'll catch your death of cold."

The musician turned over his shoulder, and added, "Or catch a bullet. In my head." He opened the slum door, walked in, and started climbing stairs.

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Byne slowly felt life returning to his limbs, his head. Moments like this, he could feel the synapses snapping back to life in his brain, his alveoli filling with blood, new energy filling him up like water fills a glass. The spot where the knife entered him felt hot, and he knew that the muscles and viscera that had been violated by the cold steel would be stronger than titanium and impervious by the time he was 100% again. He felt the cataracts of death leave his eyes.

Byne Turner sat up and found himself in a dingy battlescarred garage listening to Ben play 'Froglike' for a skinny young woman seated on the floor.

The woman turned with a slight look of shock, but Ben displayed no such shock. "Dead man walking!" he crowed before returning to his technically demanding song.

The dead man in question swung his legs off the metal table that he had been using as a stretcher and walked over to the two. "What's that song for? Some kind of healing energy?"

Ben cast him a look as he played the high harmonic note that marked the end of Froglike's middle section. "No. Not everything I play is for you-all. Sometimes...."--he played the last note and looked up--"'s just for me."

"But I asked you to," the woman said in mock confusion.

Ben gave her a fish-eye and cocked his head. "Hush."

He shook himself and continued, "Where are my manners? Byne Turner, this is Francesca Vera Borges Santos. Francesca Vera Borges Santos, Byne Turner."

Francesca offered Byne her hand and she shook it. "Do I have to use your full name?" Byne queried.

"No. Ben just likes to do that to make me mad," she replied in a thick accent.

"I do not! It just rolls off the tongue, it's a beautiful name," Ben interjected with faux admonishment. Then he whispered to Byne, "AND it makes her really mad." Byne choked down a chuckle.

Francesca stared Byne in the eye. "How did you do that? You had no pulse when I picked you up off the street."

Byne felt an incredibly analytical mind probing his face, his scars, even his tattoos for clues. Thoroughly creeped out, he managed to reply, "It's my power. I...recover from death, and my body adapts to my killer--poison, knives, even Consumatory Possession. I don't think anything can kill me before it's my time to die, and if there is something that can I haven't found it yet."

The intense young woman weighed his response and deemed it satisfactory--Byne could almost see the calculations all check out in the reflections in her eyes. "I am very, very smart. I can see the...connections, yes?...between things, and I know how" She looked at Ben expectantly.

Ben finished her thought. "Francesca knows what objects can be combined, and how, in order to make different effects. I've seen her make tear gas out of an average kitchen cabinet. She's got several college textbooks committed to memory, several technical manuals, a Guinness Book Of World Records too. She knows everything technical there is to know."

Byne Turner looked again at those pure black, soul-probing eyes, and believed it.

After a short pause, Francesca blinked and smiled. It did not make her any less unnerving. "Can I get you boys something to eat?"

Ben smiled a toothy grin and said, "Oh sure! Be sure to bring me my favorite tea!" When she had left the room, Ben leaned over to Byne and forced through his teeth as aggressively as he could, "Feed it to the cat."

Usually Byne Turner was starving after a resurrection, but the sight and smell of her eggs and toast--or as he would tell it later, the black and the slightly crispier black--put him off food. He accepted it nevertheless, but when he tried to throw it to her cat the feline tried to bury it in the concrete floor of the garage.

When they were finished with hiding her breakfast, Ben asked, "So what's our situation?"

Francesca grimaced. "Not good. Everyone saw Ben's light, and so we have a whole bunch of thugs circling the neighborhood like sharks to blood."

Ben shrugged apologetically. "Sorry." He played the melody from Vivaldi's Spring and made a few light green birds fly forth from his bass strings and flap around until they evaporated.

Byne watched the cat confusedly stare at the empty space and swat the air a couple of times with a small smile and then said, "Is there any way we can leave here, you know, with a bang? We're not going to squeak past those guys."

Francesca's brow legitimately furrowed. "We're leaving?"

Byne was shocked. He turned to Ben. "We're not leaving?"

Ben's expressive face was stone cold for once. "I have no love for Jack, Flores, Ivan, or anyone who does what they do intentionally. I think we could lay low here until they fail, at which point we will take Francesca Vera Borges Santos, ride the Greyhound up north, and find a home in some sleepy beach town. I want nothing to to with them."

Byne stood up, scaring the cat, which scared him. After calming his reinforced heart, he said, "You can't DO THAT!"

Ben stood up and placed his hands in playing position. "What says I can't?!"

Byne Turner took a step forward. "Try it. I DARE you." His normally shy voice crackled with menace.

Francesca made no move from her chair. Dramatic moves were not her style. Instead she asked, "What they did, was it wrong?"

Byne and Ben simultaneously said, "Yes."

"Did they do it for the greater good? Were they aiming to help people?" she continued.

Ben rocked his head back and forth, fishing for an answer, but Byne answered "Yes. Yeah."

"Then let's go help them. By refusing to help them, you're hurting innocents that you could help." Her voice was flat and strong.

The bassist scrambled for a response, but none came. He hung his head sheepishly, then he looked up from his hangdog gaze. "For someone with borderline social disorders, for someone for whom English does not come not naturally, for someone who likes things and parts and concrete facts more than people...Francesca Vera Borges Santos, you are much wiser than I."

The intuitive inventor hopped up, slugged Ben on the shoulder, and said, "Don't call me that, stupid. Now let's get in the car."
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"I can't believe you wouldn't let me take the cat," Francesca moped.

"Cats give me the willies. I'm sorry," Byne apologized.

"Whatever. Let's blow this taco stand," Ben said.

Outside, two gangsters were watching the house. One leaned over to the other and said in gutteral Portuguese, "You really think they're here?"

The other one shrugged and took a drag on his cigarette. "Honestly, I don't care. I got a kid and a girl and this is my last job. I'm gonna get a whole new life when this is over, get my tats erased, get me a suit, go into business. Yessir, I'm going to be a new man by the time this week is gone..."

A heavily modified muscle car exploded from the garage and almost ran over the impassive gangster.

His buddy looked at him. "Man, that really could have put a dent in your plans."

The previously impassive man nodded, then shouted for his friends.


Byne was impressed with the MorcegoMobile the moment he saw it.

An old, pre-Event muscle car the color of robin eggs outfitted with a custom engine with 14 pistons--giving it unholy amounts of horsepower--and designed to run on anything from corn oil to crude diesel, equipped with runflat tires, an oil slick dispenser next to a crowsfoot deployer next to an industrial-grade fog machine, a razored popout hubcap (a la Ben Hur), spotlight-grade headlights, an armored bottom plate to protect the drive shaft, and a tiny saturday night special in the glovebox.

"How fast does she go?" he crooned while admiring the car's curves.

"On a good run, I can get the pointer to go all the way back to zero," Francesca bragged.

Ben asked innocently, "Is that fast?"


Ben's swears and screams were torn away by the wind that whipped past his face.

Francesca laughed like a sadist and floored it. The car roared like a caged animal and lurched into a diving run that sent innocent bystanders into fits of panic. The cobblestones that comprised the road were hardly felt, the shocks were so good. A small hill was turned into a ramp as the MorcegoMobile flew over it and soared for several yards before landing with a loud thump and a tiny dip. Scratch 'the shocks were good'--the shocks were DIVINE. Byne looked back and grinned maniacally.

"WE GOT COMPANY" he shouted over the roar of the engine.

Indeed they did, but not of the vehicular kind. Instead, it was a flying man and a speedster. And they were definitely gaining.

Francesca, without taking her eyes off the 'road', shouted "BEN! CAN YOU TAKE CARE OF THAT FOR US?"

Ben was cowering in the backseat, cradling his big upright bass in its cloth case like a teddy bear.

"GUHH FINE," Byne said. "I GOT IT." He popped open his glovebox, grabbed the tiny, fragile gun, and took aim.

The flying man immediately soared up, up, and away so he was right in front of the sun. Byne scowled and aimed at the speedster, who promptly began zigzagging madly. These guys were alive for a reason.

But just because a gun was easy to avoid did not mean that all the weapons on board were so direct. Byne reached over and smacked the button marked in typeprint "Pés-de-Galinha."

Immediately, hundreds of palm-sized devices tumbled out of the back of the MurcegoMobile. These little wonders were medieval in design but beautiful in action. 5 spikes welded together in such a way as to ensure that one rusty point would land straight up needed no further refinement. The speedster noticed these and immediately changed his tact--he began a fast-forward rendition of Tiptoe Through The Tulips, picking his way through the field of tetanus swiftly and carefully. He would have gotten away with it too, but his momentary concentration meant that Byne had a small window of opportunity. His shoulder lurched and he twisted to the ground, shot.

Byne nodded his respect. A clever man like that needed to live.

Next he looked up to the sky to see the flying man diving right at his face.

He turned to Francesca and screamed, "BRAKES!"

The Brazilian woman complied and there was an unholy squealing screech. The car went from 120 to 0 in three seconds and the flying man crashed into the street ahead of them. He fought to get up, failed, and then collapsed, breathing hard.

Ben raised his head from his safe place. "Why did we stop? Are we there yeeeeEEEEEOOOH MY GOD"

That last part was because Francesca took a 90 degree turn down the adjacent alleyway right for the sea.

"THE SHIP LEAVES"--she checked the deck clock, which was as ramshackle as the rest of the MurcegoMobile--"A MINUTE FROM NOW!"

Byne swore. "PUNCH IT WOMAN!"

Francesca put the pedal to the metal, literally. The pointer spun past the highest marking, past zero, and started to creep up again. She put her hand on the horn and leaned on it, giving people a good half-mile away warning that they were coming. They ROARED through Rio de Janiero, through the favela into the city whirling past the business district sailing into the beachside, and there was the cruise boat. Pulling away from the dock.

The pointer edged back up to the highest marking.

The MurcegoMobile soared off the edge of the dock.

There was a horrible moment when all Ben could hear was the wash of the ocean and the redlining rage of the engine.

Then there was the best THUMP he ever heard and he almost came to Jesus out of sheer animal gratitude.

Francesca stood on the brake and a diabolical cloud of sulfur smoke rose from the tires, enough to choke the Devil himself. When the smoke cleared, the partygoers gaped at a skinny young woman and her passengers--a traumatized black man and a adrenalin-crazed white fellow. They all would seem normal on the street, but here they were impressive, almost godlike.

Byne stepped forward. "Here, let me try to explain...You guys speak Portuguese, right?"
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"So after we talked Byne out of it like a suicide off a bridge, we managed to get on the captain's good side and secured passage to New Orleans in exchange for work. Did you know that their old bassist couldn't play a diminished walking line? Sad," said the Ben-hallucination.

Jack nodded, by now at ease with the psychedelic vision that had become his world. "So I heard that you don't think we're all evil," he grinned.

Ben rolled his eyes and fished for an answer, but found none. "That's one way of putting it. I guess."

Flores smiled, too. "Oh, well then, I guess we're still in the doghouse."

Ben chuckled and played a harmonic note. "Damn straight. So where you guys headed?"

Everyone but Tessa looked at Jack for the answer. "Santa Fe," replied Jack Ryder.

Ben and everyone else kind of recoiled. "Santa Fe? Isn't that where Caleb Trelaine's set up his little shop of horrors?" Ben asked.

Jack nodded soberly. "I know, but those are the people who need it most. When's your ETA for New Orleans?"

"Oh, uh, say 4, 5 days? I'm on a ship fellas, and with people dabbling in the weather like it is..." he shrugged and left the statement open.

"Great! Wait there until we catch up. Warlord Trelaine'll be a handful."

Ben nodded and wrapped up his musical phrase. "Good night, y'all."

The colors wafted away into the night sky and the virtuosic bassist's form eroded like a sand dune. Jack turned to his team. "You heard the man. Good night." He went to grab everyone's sleeping bags; tonight would be a night under the stars.
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Celadon's Penultimate
This post was updated on .
MEANWHILE, IN SANTA FE (Trelaine Territory)...

"What do you mean, 'a group of supers headed here'?" Caleb squirmed restlessly in his chair at the thought.

"They're headed this way, and should be here sometime tomorrow." One of Caleb's nameless precogs ducked back into line.

"D*** it!" Caleb barked to no one in particular, "I hate when people come unannounced...Did they come from another territory, or are they unclaimed?"

"They seem to be a various bunch. No Overlord's name comes to mind," a claircognizant squinted into the unknown, searching for a more definite answer, knowing the one he just gave wouldn't suffice his tyrant leader.

"Hell, do you know if they have anything of value with 'em, at least? Maybe I'll just send out some random gang to jump 'em."

"That might prove a bit unwise, sir," the claircognizant remarked quickly, "they are a bit more powerful than they appear..."

"Any chance I can find a power-negator to cut 'em down to size?" Caleb asked, irritated.

"Hm...they wouldn't make it in time to stop the intruders, and the only ones you COULD muster have power-negating capacity that could only work on one or two at a time." The claircognizant spoke from his recently randomly-acquired knowledge.

Caleb groaned in disgust at his ill-preparedness. Rarely would he ever be caught off guard, but when he was, it often proved annoying to the highest degree. It always bit him in the behind when he didn't plan out every single detail. He jumped up out of his chair and stormed to the window overlooking the front of his territory.

"Rebels won't be tolerated..." Overlord Trelaine mused to himself, "But it would be unwise to attack them head on, wouldn't it? No, instead, make them feel welcome, and let them mingle among the people. And give them my regards. I don't want them on the defensive."

Trelaine's advisors nodded, bowed, and left in a single-file line, leaving the brooding overlord to his thoughts.
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…”   --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)
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Celadon's Penultimate
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As he looked out over his territory, grumbling angrily, he heard footsteps approaching.

"Who the hell is that?" Caleb didn't even bother to look behind him.

"Uh, uh, it's me...bro," his half-brother stammered, looking around nervously, hoping Caleb wouldn't call for his goons like he had before, "Dane?"

"Oh, you. What the hell you doin' up here?" Caleb demanded without the slightest implication that he actually cared, "Beat your last video game?"

"Uh, dude, I'm outta weed. And I guess I need some sunlight. Or moonlight, whatever. So, uh...whatcha up to, Trey?" Dane asked, looking down and fumbling through his pocket for something to eat.

"Don't call me Trey. And go back to, if that's what you call that disaster area. I got stuff to do, freakin' stoner."

Dane shrugged and turned around to head back to his room, pulling out a granola bar from his pocket, and chomping it with delight.

Caleb turned back finally and watched in disgust as his brother walked away. What a slob. Damn junkie, Caleb thought to himself, how did he get stuck with such a totally idiotic, irresponsible and useless jackass of a half-brother? Luckily, his mother Samantha Trelaine realized what a loser Dane was, too, and left the territory to Caleb when she "died". Dane was loveable (in that brotherly, "I fake-hate you", "mistreat each other on a normal basis, but stand up for each other when it counts" kind of way), but totally useless for anything other than carrying out Caleb's dirty work, getting into trouble and blaming others.

Putting his disdain for his half-brother aside, Caleb went back to looking out the window and looked out to see if he could spot any unfamiliar people on the streets of Santa Fe. He highly doubted he would find any such thing, though.

Caleb kept a tight grip over the throat of the society he ruled. It was hard to find any place that didn't have propaganda with his face on it, surveillance to serve his purposes or AT LEAST one spy. No one in his town trusted one another (besides only the closest family and friends, of course), but they ALL trusted (or at least feared) HIM. And that was how he liked it. How else would he get things done? If the people knew that his eyes were everywhere, they would stay in line. And his eyes WERE everywhere, in the form of highly trained goons, both human and superhuman. And how did he keep the goons, and spies, and assassins, and mercenaries in line? Why, a potent chemical cocktail to induce subservience, of course.

After a while of considering his rule and how effectively he was running things, his thoughts were abruptly cut off by the sounds of screams down the hall. He could tell they were approaching his "throne room".

"Oh, goody," Caleb thought to himself sarcastically, "Another jackass who thought he could oppose me."

He turned around to face the two goons that held the captive, one a durable man, the other an elastic man. Behind them, a girl with Superhuman Accuracy holding a taser at the ready, in case the captive tried to escape.

"What did this one do?" He asked, eyeing the captive condescendingly. She was brown-haired and big-eyed (with a pleading look on her face, as many before her).

"Nothing! I didn't do anything!" She wimpered frantically, knowing the stories of how so many superhumans entered Trelaine's mansion, and only his goons ever got out alive.

"Oh, really?" He scoffed, "Then I have a problem. You see, whether you're innocent or not, I'm offended one way or the other. On the one hand, you didn't do anything, meaning that I didn't train these guys very well. Otherwise, they wouldn't have picked you up unjustly. Am I right?" He leaned in to the girl's face to see her fear up close.

The girl nodded hesitantly.

"And on the other hand", he continued, "you're NOT innocent, and that makes you a liar. And I don't tolerate liars." He stepped back and looked to the elastic man for an answer.

"What did she do?"

"We caught her out in the street after curfew. Not on a bus home, not on her front porch, not somewhere she could be monitored by our patrols. She was walking, and we just HAPPENED to find her." The elastic man paraphrased form the citation he'd written down.

"Interesting. And what, may I ask, were you doing walking hom ALONE after dark? Were you trying to escape my notice? What were you up to?" Caleb demanded gruffly.

"I...I didn't have money for the bus. I was coming home from the store, and I was mugged. I even dropped my food. And right after that, your patrol caught me."

"You lying b***h. I know a liar when I see one. You think you're smarter than me, huh? Well, let me ask you got a power?" Caleb's question cauht the girl off guard, causing her to give him a strange look. So he repeated his question, louder and slower.

"Yes...I can hear thoughts. I really can't control it, though. Why?"

"YOU don't question ME..." He answered bluntly, "Morris. Dobbs. Take her to the echo chamber with the others. Play one of the white noise recordings backward, the other one forward. And turn 'em on full blast. Give her something to listen to while she's a guest here..."

The two goons chuckled maniacally to themselves and nodded at their tasks. Caleb, on the other hand, remained stone-faced, as he had throughout the ordeal.

"What?! No! Wait, this isn't fair! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!!!" the girl pleaded, panicked and frantic as the two men dragged her down one of the longest corridors, out of Caleb's sight, to be tortured. He stood there briefly, listening out for the girl to make sure she'd been transported safely and quickly (you never could be too sure). Finally hearing her blood-curdling screams as her mind was being inundated with the electromagnetic noise, Caleb sighed, only now showing signs of fatigue from his day. He rubbed his neck sorely, and groaned in frustration.

"Man, sometimes, I almost wish I wasn't the boss," he mused to himself, before laughing at the thought and repeating for emphasis, "ALMOST." That thought finally voiced, he took one final sighing breath and decided it was time for some sleep.
“…Judge not what a man has done, but judge what he could have done if he was a different bloke altogether. For art thou a leper? And a leper can changeth his spots…”   --Rudy Wade, Misfits (Series 4, Episode 8)