An elevator door hisses open, and the members of the DFSB file into the lobby of their headquarters. The room had changed shape yet again, now a wide hexagon with a group of twelve pillars midway between the walls and the center of the room. Their leader, the user known as Leo, stands near a box in the center, his right arm split into several pieces fiddling with its insides.
“You sure it’s a good idea to bring all of us in?” Echo asks as they fan around it, “We’re only police in name, but I thought you wanted to keep order.”
“If this works anywhere near the way he wants, it’s worth it,” Jodi says as Leo gathers his hand together.
“Not like anyone’s going to be able to cause trouble,” Parcel says, “Not with the… reorganization of the districts.”
“Oh, was that today?” Iwafune asks, drinking as Leo pulls his arm back together, “I completely forgot.”
“And the Kadingir Project is complete,” Leo says, interrupting the small talk, “It knows the position and status of everything and everyone within the city. Well, only Users have direct access. Other organizations, like the DFPD, can only access a limited set of data by their specific request. Over channels that are probably easily intercepted, because he doesn’t want to screw with others’ plans too much.”
A hologram of DFederal flickers to life above the box, complete with miniature people, vehicles, and even the sewer system. Leo taps one building in particular, and the hologram zooms in to show the interior, with a desk occupied by Ramona Flowers and a door leading to an office, in which sits the form of Beast. The label above him, however, displays the name “Amahl Farouk”
“Well, that confirms that,” Menardi says, “No wonder he tried so hard to stop you from finishing.”
“And now that that’s done,” Leo says, concentrating for a second, “And there’s the mental block gone. He was trying to make me forget… the Astral Plane. So that’s where Beast is.”
“So we’re going to rescue him, then?” Saturos asks.
“Surely you’re not thinking of keeping him there?”
“Farouk just plain does a better job.”
“And… well, I guess that thing Menardi and I saw in the Depths was Lurker.”
“No, a shadow with a burning eye is very much not Lurker’s thing. It likes chitin and flesh. So that’s something else entirely… and I think we might need Beast at full power.”
“Joker and Maia,” Carol says, “You’re up. Rescue Beast from the Astral Plane as quickly as you can.”
“Everyone else is on standby here,” Leo says, “You should be able to reshape this place, within reason. I’ll be in my office.”
Within the depths of the astral plane, two figures sat in a room with distinct yellow curtains, each staring at a chess board in quiet contemplation. After a few moments, one of the figures, a tired-looking young man in a tattered green hoodie, hesitantly reached forward and moved his knight forward, capturing a pawn, which crumpled into dead. He nodded, slightly more confident, then finally spoke.
“You’re gonna lose, Farouk.”
The other player, a well-dressed man with a thin moustache, chuckled coldly as he moved a rook forward, cornering the knight, and rests his chin on his hand.
“Oh? Do tell, if you’re so confident, dear Beast.”
Beast moved a pawn forward, sighing as Farouk responds by taking his knight and wiping the dust off the board, then moved a bishop to counter and take one of his opponent’s pawns.
“You really think Leo’s just forgotten about you? Once he’s done with that project of his, I doubt you’ll be around much longer.”
Farouk nodded, thinking the threat over, then moved his rook and captured the bishop, calmly replying, “Yes, that. That could be troublesome, but honestly, did you really assume I wouldn’t account for it?”
He moved his rook forward and mumbled, “Check.”
As Beast moved his king out of the way, he continued.
“Let’s just say I’ve got a little trick prepared for that. And you, chère bête, should be more focused on your own deadlines. I’m afraid that once I’m in power, I won’t have much use for you, and from the way the plane has drained you, I’d say it will be a mercy killing.”
Beast ignored him, focusing on the game, and snapped, “You’re not going to be in power. Even if Leo loses, which I doubt, do you really think the city is just going to roll over?”
Farouk waited for him to finish, then captured a rook with a pawn, and laughed.
“I don’t need their cooperation, that’s what the Hiss is for. All I’ll need is to send it’s signal and that will be, how do you say it? “All she wrote”?”
Beast tensed slightly, quietly muttering, “The Hiss? You’re really going to use that?”
Farouk took another of Beast’s pieces.
“Of course. I’d prefer it if they cooperated, but any good king knows he must ensure loyalty at all costs. That’s one of many differences between you and I: you found yourself desiring their approval, and I-“
He slammed his knight down, stopping to say “Check.”
“-don’t need any such nonsense to rule.”
Beast very hesitantly moved his king forward, wincing again as Farouk instead takes a pawn, then smiles as he moves his pawn into the final spot, snapping his fingers as it turns into a Queen, and simply replies, “Checkmate.”
Furrowing his brow, Farouk scanned the board, then broke into an amused grin as he realized he’d been beaten, giving Beast a respectful bow.
“Bien joué, petite bête! Your first win. Perhaps you do have a few surprises in that head of yours.”
Leaning back in his chair, Beast responded with a satisfied shrug.
“It’s easy. Once I realized that you ignore the little pieces in your grand strategies, it didn’t take long to figure out a strategy.”
Farouk stroked his chin, contemplating Beast’s words, then looked to his watch and sighed. He stood up from the chair and snapped his fingers, causing a door to form, then said, “Well said, I suppose, but I’m afraid I must get back to work. You’ve got a guest appearance on the news this evening. Perhaps you’ll tune in?”
Beast eloquently replied by flipping him off, earning a laugh from Farouk, who stepped through the door and made it vanish behind him. Once he was certain he was lone, Beast nervously reached for the queen piece, gripping it and whispering, “C’mon Leo, don’t fuck this up.”
Elijah Snow is a Century Baby, a handful of individuals born on the first day of the first year of the new century, meant to act as the Earth's immune system and gifted with metahuman powers. Elijah recognized his importance at a young age, and he set out to investigate an apparent grand conspiracy that was controlling humanity. Elijah's investigations brought him into combat with the likes of Frankenstein's Monster, the Invisible Man, and Carnicki the Ghost Finder before confronting the leaders of the conspiracy: Dracula and a remorseful Sherlock Holmes, who takes Snow under his wing after he kills the vampire lord.
Elijah's travels took him all over, from the hidden city of Opak-Re to alternate dimensions to alien worlds, and it would lead to him using his considerable resources to create Planetary, an organization dedicated to uncovering the secret history of the world, and recruiting three field operatives, Ambrose Chase, Jakita Wagner, and the Drummer, with himself as the mysterious "Fourth Man". Elijah ran afoul of a new conspiracy to control mankind, this time run by "The Four Voyagers", a group of astronauts who journeyed to space and returned with incredible powers at the cost of their humanity. Planetary engaged the threat, but Elijah was outplayed by their leader, Randall Dowling, who wiped his mind in exchange for sparing the other agents.
Isolating himself in the desert, Snow was left on his own for nearly a decade before Jakita disobeyed orders and "recruited" him into Planetary, taking him on several adventures before secret agent John Stone was able to break Dowling's memory blocks and reveal to Elijah the truth of his role in the organization. Armed with his full knowledge and resources, Elijah battled the Four once again, capturing or incapacitating two of the team before having a final showdown with Randall and his lover Kim Suskind where he lured them into a trap and killed them. With the Four dealt with, Planetary took possession of their numerous stolen technologies and secrets and used them to make the world a better place, fulfilling Elijah's purpose as a Century Baby.
Powers and Abilities:
- Cryokinesis: Elijah's gifted ability as a Century Baby is the power to control and manipulate temperature by extracting heat from people or objects. Decades of use have given Elijah an easy mastery of the ability, and he's able to use it in incredibly creative ways like freezing the water in a person's brain to give them a crippling headache, dissipate a cloud of nerve gas by draining it's heat, and freeze a stream of urine as it left a man's penis, effectively trapping him in place, on top of traditional feats like freezing people solid and creating structures out of ice.
- Cold Resistance: The cold has no apparent effect on Elijah, as he mentions not needing anything beyond a trenchcoat to walk through Siberia-level temperatures and he apparently emits a natural aura that makes the area around him slightly colder.
- Projectiles: Elijah can create shards of ice to throw as weapons at fast speeds, capable of shredding the suit of the Adam West Batman with ease.
- Immortality: Century Babies are effectively immortal, never physically aging past early adulthood until the end of their century, and this translates to Elijah, who is nearing his late nineties at the start of Planetary but still resembles a man in his thirties.
- Genius-Level Intellect: Elijah is quite possibly the most clever man on the planet, mentored for five years by Sherlock Holmes and able to match wits with Randall Dowling, a telepathic Reed Richards expy, and come out on top. As a teenager, Elijah was able to uncover and singlehandedly destroy a multinational conspiracy of intellectuals and monsters with little resources, and he's regularly recognized as a skilled improviser and interrogator by other skilled operatives like Jakita, Ambrose, and Stone.
- Skilled Hand-to-Hand Fighter: Though he prefers to keep things at a distance, Elijah is a skilled brawler, using his wits and powers to stay ahead in close-range scraps. He was even able to hold his own with the Dark Knight Returns version of Batman, though he was only able to get an edge by giving Batman brain freeze at a crucial moment.
Sypha Belnades is the granddaughter of the Elder of the Speakers, a group of wandering scholars, and a powerful mage. During the siege of Gresit by Dracula's army, Sypha wandered into the sewers in search of "The Sleeping Soldier", the warrior fated to defeat Dracula, but ran afoul of a Cyclops and had to be rescued by the monster hunter Trevor Belmont. Despite their clashing personalities, the two would work together to repel the assault, rescuing the city and killing Dracula's general, Blue Fangs, before awakening the Sleeping Soldier: Dracula's son, Alucard. Now a trio, the group set out to stop Dracula's reign of terror.
Leaving the Speakers for her quest, Sypha found herself bonding with Alucard and Trevor, forming a romantic attraction to the latter, as they traveled to the Belmont estate in search of a way to stop Dracula's moving castle. Finding it to be a spell, Sypha casts it, trapping the castle above the estate, then joins Trevor and Alucard in an all-out assault, killing most of Dracula's commanders before confronting him alone. Dracula manages to incapacitate Trevor and Sypha, but is overcome with grief and guilt at the thought of killing Alucard, giving Alucard an opening to finish him off. With Dracula defeated, Sypha sets out with Trevor to wipe out the remnants of Dracula's forces, bidding goodbye to Alucard as he stays behind to tend the castle.
Powers and Abilities:
- Skilled Spellcaster: Sypha is an immensely and powerful caster of elemental magic, making up for her lack of weaponry with devastating attacks that have enabled her to easily kill incredibly skilled combatants and master powerful spells, like being able to teleport Dracula's castle to her desired location and keep it there.
- Pyrokinesis: Sypha is able to generate and control flames, often by creating walls of fire or shooting fireballs from her fingertips. The control over fire doesn't just extend to her, as she can counteract and defend against fire launched at her or her allies, such as controlling the fire inside of a monster to blow it up from the inside. She can even burn someone alive just by touching them.
- Cryokinesis: Sypha can create ice constructs and freeze water instantly, with the constructs being as big or small as she wants them to be, with the size ranging from a wall that can be used defensively (or as a giant blade, as one of Dracula's men quickly learned) to a set of icicles that could be shot or simply used as close-range daggers.
- Aerokinesis: Sypha can create small bursts of wind to augment her acrobatic feats, enabling her to move more gracefully through the air or soften a fall, alongside being able to control the temperature of the air, to the point where she froze one of Dracula's generals solid, though it was helped by the woman being in a gaseous state at the time.
- Electrokinesis: Sypha can generate and fire bursts of lightning from her hands, though this one seems to be a harder ability, as she has to strain herself to generate the lightning.
- High Intelligence: Sypha is highly educated and knowledgeable on a variety of subjects related to magic and the general history of the world. She's able to speak a half dozen different languages and can quickly study and memorize a complex spell with little prep time.
- Strong Condition: While she's nowhere near Trevor or Alucard, years of wandering and training have hardened Sypha into a level of strength and physicality above the average human. She can perform impressive acrobatic feats with the assistance of magic and was able to keep up with (and survive a hit) from Dracula in a fight, though she needed time to recover after.
Zuko was the proud prince of the Fire Nation and the firstborn son of Firelord Ozai and his wife, Ursa. When he was eleven, Ursa vanished, leaving him with the abusive Ozai and his younger sister, the arrogant and cruel Azula. Ozai reluctantly mentored Zuko with the help of his uncle, Iroh, his apparent heir in the event of his death, and Iroh took him to a war council meeting, where a general spoke of a plan to sacrifice countless lives for a diversion. Horrified, Zuko spoke out against the plan, with Ozai demanding Zuko take part in a duel with the man he had insulted. Zuko initially agreed, but attempted to back out when he discovered that his opponent was his own father. Showing no mercy, Ozai horrifically scarred Zuko, then banished him, telling him not to return until he had captured the Avatar.
Taking part in what was effectively a wild goose chase, Zuko was accompanied by Iroh, who attempted to bring out the boy's gentler nature. Their fortunes would turn with the awakening of the Avatar, a young airbender named Aang, and Zuko's dedication led him to following Aang and his companions, Southern Water Tribe members Katara and Sokka, leading to a confrontation in the North Pole, where Aang saved Zuko's life. Zuko would later help the group defeat Fire Nation Admiral Zhao, though it was more out of vengeance for Zhao nearly killing him than anything else, and found himself questioning his mission.
On the run for his actions against Zhao and being hunted by Azula, Zuko began to drift away from Iroh and wandered the Earth Kingdom. Reunited with Iroh following a fight between him, Azula, and Team Avatar, Zuko ended up in the Earth Kingdom capitol of Ba Sing Se, with the duo going undercover as tea merchants. The attempt at a quiet new life was interrupted when Azula infiltrated the city and staged a coup, capturing Zuko, Iroh, and most of Team Avatar as well. Trapped, Zuko shared a brief moment of understanding with Katara, though his shot at heroism was dashed when he chose to side with Azula, helping to capture Iroh while she critically wounded Aang with lightning.
Praised as a hero by the Fire Nation, Zuko found himself deeply unsatisfied, finding solace only with his girlfriend, Mai, culminating in him going rogue upon learning of his father's plan to destroy the entire Earth Kingdom with the power of Sozin's Comet. Joining Team Avatar, Zuko managed to earn the group's trust, reunite with his uncle, and teach Aang the tricks of firebending before the final battle. During the coming of Sozin's Comet, Zuko and Katara battled Azula, with him taking a paralyzing wound for Katara so she could bring down his sister. After Aang defeated Ozai, Zuko usurped his father as Firelord, promising to bring about a new era of peace.
- Dao Blades: Zuko's preferred weapons are a pair of dao blades, single-edged swords primarily used for slashing and chopping.
Powers and Abilities:
- Firebending: Zuko is a firebender, giving him the ability to create and manipulate heat and fire. Zuko is one of the most powerful and talented firebenders in the world, making up for a lack of natural talent with that of hard-earned skill and experience. Thanks to the training of Iroh, he was able to regularly hold his own against more experienced and powerful benders, such as General Zhao, Aang, and Azula. Through training, Zuko has learned complex techniques such as charging his attacks for more damage, redirecting lightning, and creating shields of fire to protect himself from harm. For examples of various firebending abilities exhibited by Zuko, go here.
- Dancing Dragon: After training in the ancient city of the Sun Warriors, Zuko acquired the Dancing Dragon style, giving him a more fluid, dancelike form that enabled him to fight more effectively and quickly than the average firebender.
- Skilled Swordsman: Zuko is also a talented sword fighter, favoring a duel-wielding style taught to him by the swordsman Piandao alongside mixing it with his firebending style. Zuko is regularly able to defeat groups of soldiers with minimal effort and even held his own against the bandit Jet and his hook swords. His skill with a blade is so dangerous that even his own father, who otherwise saw him as a weakling, refused to face him in a duel when they had lost the power to firebend.
- Skilled Martial Artist: Zuko was highly dangerous even when unarmed, able to break spears, break steel shackles, and subdue opponents with his bare hands.
- Expert Acrobat: Zuko was very quick on his feet, capable of running across walls and scaling steep heights with little difficulty. This agility enabled him to keep up with opponents like Aang and Azula during fast-paced fights.
- Skilled Tactician: While not quite as clever or as effective a manipulator as his sister, Zuko is fairly intelligent, with a preference for exploiting weakness and utilizing misdirection to strike. He was also effective in forming alliances and using allies strengths to his advantage, such as his friendship with Katara in Ba Sing Se or his time working with June to hunt Aang. As he grew older, Zuko's intelligence enabled him to reform the Fire Nation into a more effective and benevolent force on the world stage.
The son of a Scotland Yard detective, Pete Wisdom is a mutant with the ability to generate energy projections from his fingertips he dubbed "hot knives". These abilities made Pete immensely useful to the British government, enabling him to climb the ranks of MI-6 and Black Air, an organization dedicated to investigating and countering the threat of the supernatural. Partnered with the superhero team Excalibur, Pete would turn on Black Air when it became clear they were using the team to further their own agenda, going rogue alongside the team and striking up a relationship with Kitty Pryde.
Pete's adventures with superheroes would lead to him establishing a global network dedicated to protecting mutants from the intelligence community and leading X-Force, which ended when he faked his death and went back to working for the British government. Knowing that Britain was largely defenseless against the supernatural, Pete lobbied to be given control of his own agency and used the resources to form MI-13, which works directly alongside Britain's superheroes in battling threats like Martians, Skrulls, the forces of Hell, and vampires.
Powers and Abilities:
- Energy Manipulation: Pete's mutant ability is the power to absorb ambient heat and solar radiation and release it from his fingertips. While he can just release them as bursts of energy, Pete chooses to release them as "hot knives", blades of pure thermal energy that are said to burn as hot as the Sun. On top of being effective ranged weapons, Peter also wields them like claws that can easily burn through anything.
- Energy Shield: Pete can also shield himself using the energy, enabling him to survive a missile strike and an orbital bombardment of suicide bomber vampires fired from Dracula's base on the moon. (Long story.) He can also use the shields to control his descent, shielding him from the full damage of being thrown out of a window.
- Brilliant Tactician: Effectively Britain's answer to Nick Fury, Pete is a renowned mastermind capable of outwitting foes such as Dracula, one of the greatest strategic minds in history, and going toe-to-toe with the reality warping David Haller and the master thief Gambit. His style of tactics tends to revolve around playing the long game, luring the opponent into a false sense of security before revealing an unforeseen twist, such as his usage of Quincy Harker's skull to wipe out Dracula's horde or releasing the captive demons in Avalon during the Skrull invasion.
- Skilled Hand-to-Hand Combatant: While he prefers fighting from a distance, Pete is still an effective up-close combatant, capable of overpowering and killing a group of vampires with just his knives and critically injuring Colossus with a few well-placed hits.
Goro Akechi is the bastard son of Mayashi Shido, a politician who conceived him in a short-lived relationship with a prostitute before abandoning them, leading to his mother eventually committing suicide and leaving a grieving Akechi to swear vengeance against his father. Chosen by Yaldabaoth as a Wild Card user and given access to the Metaverse, Akechi used his newfound abilities to ally with his father, killing targets and undermining the government in the lead-up to Shido's bid for Prime Minister, with the intention of revealing himself as his son upon his victory, which would disgrace him and effectively destroy the public's faith in government. Unbeknownst to Akechi, Shido accounted for Akechi's duplicity and intended to have him killed after the election, all the while using him to eliminate potential threats to the conspiracy.
Working as a young detective investigating his own crimes, Akechi comes into conflict with the Phantom Thieves, going as far as to enter an intense rivalry with their leader, Joker. After framing the Thieves for the murder of one of their targets and turning the public against them, Akechi blackmailed his way onto the team as a mole, luring them into a trap that Joker and Morgana manage to recognize and outwit thanks to a small slip-up from Akechi much earlier.
Realizing he'd been outplayed, Akechi confronts the Thieves during their heist on Shido's Palace and engages them in a vicious fight, losing due to the groups's teamwork and Joker's leadership. Contemplating an alliance with them against Shido, Akechi's potential redemption is cut short when he is confronted by Shido's cognitive version of himself, and he sacrifices himself to ensure the Thieves escape. Presumed dead by the team, things become complicated when Akechi re-emerged following their victory over Yaldabaoth, willing to testify against Shido and help them escape the false reality created by Takuto Maruki.
Akechi's rejection of the reality becomes even more passionate when it's revealed that his existence is tied into it, as he's a projection created by Maruki in response to Joker's guilt about being unable to save him, and he urges Joker to fight against it as well, refusing to live in a world where he hasn't truly earned redemption. Following the final battle with Maruki, Akechi seemingly vanishes as reality resorts to normal, though a chance sighting as Joker returns home leaves his fate ambiguous.
- Beam Sword: Akechi's melee weapon of choice is his beam sword, a sword resembling a rapier but with a blade made of pure light. Despite it's appearance, it doesn't appear to function any differently from the more traditional melee weapons used by the Thieves.
- Ray Gun: Akechi's ranged weapon is a gold-plated ray gun that shoots beams of energy. Like the sword, it doesn't appear to do any more damage than a regular firearm.
Powers and Abilities:
- Wild Card User: As a Wild Card Persona user, Akechi has the unique ability to wield multiple Personas in battle. Unlike Joker, who collects hundreds over the course of his adventure, Akechi only has two in the form of Robin Hood and Loki. However, Akechi cannot use both Personas at the same time and must switch them out if he is to use one or the other.
- Master Combatant: Akechi had an extra two years to gain more understanding of his own abilities, enabling him to become one of the most dangerous foes ever faced by the Phantom Thieves. Akechi was able to match the entire group in combat and nearly kill Joker on his own, and he's notably one of the few Thieves to wield his weapon with proper form.
- Skilled Infiltrator: Despite his over-the-top behavior in combat, Akechi is fairly talented at stealth and infiltration, working in secrecy for two years and regularly infiltrating Palaces and Mementos on his own to eliminate targets. He was even able to get the drop on the Phantom Thieves, ambushing the combined team at Shido's Palace with them totally unaware he had entered it.
- Skilled Detective: While many of the crimes he investigated were his own, Akechi is extremely deductive and calculating, quickly suspecting the Phantom Thieves and managing to eventually see through their plans once he's given the right clues. He's also talented at picking up on smaller details and quirks and using them to his advantage, like recognizing Makoto's insecurities enough to win an argument with her or seeing through Shadow Sae's tricks to help the Thieves through her Palace.
- Expert Manipulator: On top of playing off of insecurities and weaknesses, Akechi is an incredibly clever tactician and manipulator, often easily playing others into his own schemes and staying far ahead of the Thieves until a small slip-up tipped Joker and Morgana off. His ruthlessness and dedication to his plans is undercut solely by his arrogance, leading him to often underestimate his targets, like the Thieves or Shido, and be caught blindsided if he's outplayed.
- Hereward: Akechi's ultimate Persona is Hereward, named after the Saxon nobleman that repelled the Norman invasion of England and directly inspired the tale of Robin Hood, which was created when Joker rejected Maruki's false reality, earning Akechi's full respect. Hereward is an effective tank, dealing massive damage with it's mixture of Almighty and Physical attacks.
- Laevaeteinn: Colossal Physical damage to 1 foe.
- Rebellion Blade: Colossal Almighty damage to 1 foe. Highly effective if foe is downed.
- Megidolaon: Severe Almighty damage to all foes.
- Riot Gun: Severe Gun damage to all foes.
- Debilitate: Decrease Attack/Defense/Agility of 1 foe for 3 turns.
- Attack Master: Automatic Tarukaja (attack buff) at the start of battle. Passive.
- Fortify Spirit: Reduce susceptibility to all ailments. Passive.
- Evade Bless: Triple evasion rate against (non instant death) Bless attacks. Passive.
- Ingenious Spirit: May decrease SP cost of allies' support/Almighty skills by half. Hereward's trait.
The latest in a long line of tricksters deemed the "Laughing Magician", the first of many lucky breaks for John Constantine occurred when his healthy twin died in the womb, giving the sickly John the strength to survive his mother dying in the process of giving birth to them. This drove a wedge between John and his resentful father, leading John to become a free-spirited and rebellious young man who began dabbling in magic and the occult as a way of living up to his lineage before eventually running away from home after cursing his father and leaving his older sister on her own.
On his own, John immersed himself with the underground punk and magic scene, striking up a relationship with Zatanna Zatara and forming a punk band called Mucous Membrane, though these adventures came to an end when the band found their way to the Casanova Club in Newcastle, where a young girl named Astra tormented by a demon. John, in an ill-advised attempt to help, summoned the demon Nergal to kill the monster, but an unbound Nergal killed her mother, tortured his friends, and dragged Astra to Hell. Traumatized and guilt-ridden, John was committed to a psych ward for several years until he's broken out by gangsters who force him to ressurrect their boss's child, though John instead puts a demon in the boy's place to hide the fact that ressurection is impossible.
Once again left to wander on his own, John reluctantly got back into the occult, serving as an unlikely hero and allying himself with the likes of Zatanna, Swamp Thing, and the Phantom Stranger against a variety of threats to the world, all while serving as a detective, con man, and trickster who protects the little guy against those in power who would do them harm.
Weapons and Equipment:
- Twin Blade: The Twin Blade is a magical blade created from the remains of the Second and Third of the Fallen as a weapon capable of killing the First, a demon supposedly stronger than Satan himself. The blade can kill any being with a well-placed strike, and is capable of piercing the hide of demons and leaving lasting damage to the souls of its victims.
- Magical Knife: John also wields a small magical dagger, not quite as potent or large as the Twin Blade but strong enough to easily kill a group of lesser demons in one hit.
- Trenchcoat: John's coat is almost as old as he is, and has the tears and stains to prove it. More importantly, the coat effectively acts as a lightning rod for stray magic, absorbing it into itself and making it a sentient being. Without John, the coat embarked on a killing spree, moving on it's own accord to strangle and attack people, though it's seemingly still loyal to John, killing people at his command. It can also brainwash people who wear it into taking on John's personality and transfer damage it takes onto others, such as when it lit John on fire to avoid being destroyed.
Powers and Abilities:
- Expert Magician: John is an extraordinarily talented and powerful wielder of magic, though he's unique in that his usage of magic is more limited, mixed with his own trickery and prep time to fit the situation at hand. He knows a wide variety of spells, including:
- Curses: John's favored spell is curses, and he knows a variety of curses well enough that he can cast them without speaking an incantation. Examples of his curses include making his father waste away, leaving a would-be gang of rapists catatonic, and outright making a demon explode by simply touching it.
- Illusions: John is a master of illusion and deception, capable of casting spells that ca fool hardened and experienced criminals and villains, like tricking a group of gangsters into thinking they were being attacked by zombies and creating a projection of a corpse so vivid that you could smell it. His knowledge of illusions works both ways, as he can easily see through tricks put on by supposedly invisible demons and force them to drop them.
- Hypnotism: John knows several spells that enable him to easily control the mind of people, with one as simple as looking you in the eye and calmly counting down from ten to being able to revert someone's mind to a childlike state and instigate a prison riot among dozens of inmates. He can also read people's minds by touching them, often allowing him to pick up information without the subject realizing, alongside erase and alter memories.
- Summoning/Evocation: Another of John's favored tactics is summoning demons and the undead to fight his battles for him, with more complex rituals allowing him to summon stronger creatures, though this comes with the downside of being harder to bind to him, meaning he often sticks to smaller beings like demonic animals such as crows, vengeful spirits with the Soulstorm spell, though this required being in a place where the spirits had died, or the undead, like when he tricked a hitman into naming several of his victims so John could invoke them or when he created a golem, though that required a pre-existing body for him to draw the appropriate sigils on.
- Binding: A crucial element of summoning and combatting demons and spirits is the ability to bind them to a place, person, or object, like when John bound a powerful demon into his friend Gaz, ensuring that it could only harm him without escaping, or when he tricked a ghost into entering a tree, then quickly bound it inside, trapping it for eternity. It can also work on living things, like when he cast a spell that trapped a giant in place.
- Exorcism: John can also expel demons and spirits from the mortal realm using sigils and specific incantations, to the point where he was able to banish the god Khali. He can also use exorcism to force demons into physical forms, enabling them to be harmed, which enabled him to trap and defeat the demon Fuckpig.
- Wards/Shields: John can create magical shields that protect him from physical and magical attack and allow him to hide from magical detection. One of these shields was strong enough to hold back blows from Swamp Thing, while his wards made it impossible for Nergal or the First of the Fallen to find him. On top of larger shields, John can also place smaller sigils on his body that allow him to reflect damage onto others and make him impossible to possess.
- Teleportation: John can easily travel anywhere across Earth, Heaven, or Hell with a well-placed portal, an ability that extends to other people or objects, like when he replaced cocaine with the ashes of a member of the Royal Family as a gag.
- Astral Projection: For when his spirit is needed and not his physical form, John can also astrally project himself, enabling him to access places like Cyberspace, the Green, and the Dreamtime.
- Invisibility: John can place sigils on himself that make him invisible, alongside being able to spot supposedly invisible beings.
- Divination: John is talented with divination, which enables him to see knowledge of the future and the unknown. He was able to use this power to track down his niece using one of her old toys, and he appears to have a limited precognitive abilities, as he correctly guessed the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and sensed a coming storm in Louisiana, bringing him into contact with Swamp Thing.
- Pyromancy: John can summon fire and hellfire, either as a way of attacking threats or doing things as mundane as making light sources or lighting cigarettes.
- Synchronicity Wave Travelling: The signature ability of the Laughing Magician, Synchronicity Wave Travelling is an ability that allows John to effectively control his own luck, ensuring things always go his way. This can be as minor as rigging coin flips and getting perfect shots in pool to spells backfiring and missing him and a speeding car swerving and crashing rather than hitting him. While it is powerful, it doesn't completely rig things in John's favor, nor does it protect John allies and friends.
- Nergal Blood: John has the blood of the demon Nergal in his system as part of a deal to stop a second messiah. The blood has powerful healing properties, as John was able to recover from multiple broken limbs in a manner of minutes, and is also highly poisonous, stunning the king of the vampires when he attempted to drink John's blood and leaving him helpless when the sun rose.
- Occult Expert: John has an extensive, detailed knowledge on the supernatural, making him a trusted expert and source for others on topics like magic, demons, and the stranger corners of the DC Universe like the Parliament of Trees.
- Master Strategist/Manipulator: John is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and dangerous men alive, regularly outwitting serial killers, hitmen, vampires, and demons, and gods and coming out none the worse for wear thanks to a mixture of his wits, knowledge, and ruthlessness. He's so skilled at manipulation and deception that, even when drunk, he was able to trick the First of the Fallen into drinking Holy Water, and later forced all three of the Fallen to cure his cancer or risk a destructive war by making each of them claim his soul with the others unaware.
- Skilled Brawler: While not a talented fighter in the traditional sense, John is good at using stealth and misdirection to win up-close fights, often distracting foes so he can go for cheap shots like a kick to the groin or a sharp blow to the nose, quickly ending things. Despite his wiry build, he's strong enough to break a man's nose with a well-placed strike and ripped Nergal's spine out with little effort.
A college dropout working as a bike messenger, Cole MacGrath's simple life was changed forever when the package he was delivering exploded, gifting him electric powers but at the cost of thousands of lives and his home, Empire City, being quarantined. Alongside his best friend Zeke Dunbar, Cole works towards helping people and cleaning up the city by battling it's various gangs, such as the Reapers and the mysterious First Sons and their leader Kessler. Cole eventually discovers that his powers came from the Ray Sphere, an object that absorbs the energy of thousands and gives it to one person and works to reacquire it, only for Zeke to betray him in an ill-advised bid for power and give the Sphere to Kessler.
In an attempt to teach Cole a lesson, Kessler kidnaps Trish and forces Cole to disarm several bombs before choosing between saving Trish or her fellow doctors, with Cole reluctantly choosing the doctors and getting to Trish in time for her to die in his arms. Getting the Sphere back with the help of NSA agent John White, Cole attempts to destroy it, with it using the last of it's power to kill John before vanishing. With all loose ends tied up, Cole confronts Kessler in the blast zone and manages to kill him after a brutal fight, only to discover that Kessler was himself from an alternate future, who fled instead of facing the Beast, a powerful monster that killed most of the human race, including his family. Shaken by the revelation, Cole vowed to get stronger to face the Beast.
Following the battle with Kessler, Cole and Zeke, on better terms, are forced to flee Empire City alongside NSA agent Lucy Kuo as it is destroyed by the early arrival of the Beast. Ending up in New Marais, where Dr. Sebastian Wolfe has supposedly built a more powerful version of the Ray Sphere. Finding Wolfe, Cole discovers that he also built the Ray Field Inhibitor, which can strip "Conduits", people with special abilities, of their powers, but Wolfe is killed before he can help Cole fully power it. Battling an anti-Conduit militia, Cole befriends a fire conduit named Nix and discovers that Kuo is an ice Conduit, gaining ice powers of his own from her before eventually confronting Joseph Bertrand III, the leader of the militia and a Conduit himself, and defeating himself after a lengthy battle.
As the Beast reaches New Marais, Cole discovered that it is none other than John, gifted powers of his own after the Ray Sphere seemingly killed him. Explaining that a plague is wiping out humanity, John claims that the only way anyone can survive is if all non-Conduits are wiped out, a price Cole refuses to pay. Charging the RFI to it's full power, Cole works with Nix to battle the Beast and Kuo, who betrayed them out of fear of dying, with Nix sacrificing herself to slow the Beast down. Reaching an understanding with Kuo, Cole activates the RFI, which wipes out the majority of the Conduits including himself, but stops the plague and saves the world.
Weapons and Equipment:
- Amp: The Amp is a melee weapon designed by Zeke to help Cole channel his powers during melee combat. It is a two-pronged weapon that resembles a tuning fork.
Powers and Abilities:
- Electrokinesis: Cole's primary power is the ability to generate and manipulate electricity from a limited pool of energy that he can regenerate by absorbing electricity from the environment. Due to tinkering and experimentation on his part, he's able to use this in a variety of ways, including manipulating magnetic fields. These powers include:
- Bolts: Cole can rapid fire a series of electric bolts from his hands. For more precise shots, he can slow down his perception of time, though these require more powers. He can also manipulate the form of these bolts for various purposes.
- Pincer Bolt: Cole fires a trio of bolts that arc through the air before converging onto a single target.
- Artillery Bolt: Cole fires a larger bolt that is affected by gravity and travels at a slower speed, but can hit enemies from a further distance.
- Magnum Bolt: Cole fires a condensed blast of lightning that does major damage.
- Bolt Stream: Cole rapid fires a series of homing bolts.
- Shock Grenades: Cole can create and throw small electric grenades that bounce off surfaces and explode a few seconds after being thrown. Cole can also generate and throw grenades that stick to surfaces and ones that split into smaller grenades before exploding.
- Rockets: Cole generates and fires a massive burst of explosive kinetic energy that explodes upon making contact with anything it touches. Cole can also create a version of the rocket that hones in on targets hit by bolts and one that splits into mini-rockets that stick to targts until they explode.
- Blast: Cole releases a burst of energy that pushes foes back. He can also create a stronger version that knock enemies into the air, where they float helplessly until brought down, and one that charges enemies with an electromagnetic energy that makes them explode upon Cole connecting a shot.
- Thunder Drop: Cole jumps and drains the energy of the air around him as he falls, creating a powerful shockwave upon impact. The range and force of the wave depends upon the height Cole has fallen from.
- Kinetic Pulse: Cole uses his electromagnetic powers to levitate items off such as cars and crates off the ground and throw them at enemies.
- Arc Restraint: Cole creates electric cuffs that pin people to the ground.
- Drain: Cole can drain energy from nearby sources of electricity, restoring his energy and healing his wounds. He can also drain from wounded or trapped civilians and enemies, killing them to replenish himself, but it's a power Good Cole tended to avoid unless absolutely necessary.
- Pulse Heal: Cole shoots out a pulse of healing energy, restoring everyone within the radius of the pulse to full strength.
- Static Thrusters: Cole can use static electricity to briefly glide through the air.
- Induction Grind: Cole can electrically grind across railways and power lines, enabling him to move quickly through the city.
- Radar Pulse: Cole emits an electric pulse that lets him sense out sources of electricity, hidden items like blast shards, and helps him distinguish from friend to foe.
- Bolts: Cole can rapid fire a series of electric bolts from his hands. For more precise shots, he can slow down his perception of time, though these require more powers. He can also manipulate the form of these bolts for various purposes.
- Cryokinesis: Because he took the powers of Kuo, Cole can also use cryokinetic powers that draw from his electric meter (basically stamina). His abilities are limited, but still effective, including:
- Shatter Blast: Cole generates and fires small shards of ice in a close-range burst resembling a shotgun.
- Ice Grenade: Cole throws a condensed ball of ice that explodes on contact, freezing weaker enemies solid and leaving a small block of ice for Cole to take cover behind.
- Freeze Rocket: Cole launches a ball of compact subzero gas that can instantly freeze most targets caught in the radius.
- Ice Launch: Cole freezes water molecules beneath his feet and launches himself into the air, enabling him to leap great distances.
- Frost Shield: Cole creates a field of ultracold air that suspiciously resembles the Polarity Wall which instantly stops projectiles and converts them into energy, letting Cole use his powers.
- Ionic Abilities: Cole can absorb ray field energy from defeated enemies and civilans to access higher tier attacks. For this match, he'll have one Ionic Charge.
- Ionic Storm: Cole uses an Ionic Charge instead of electricity from his surroundings to summon multiple lightning strikes.
- Ionic Vortex: Cole focuses an Ionic Charge in his hands and throws an electrically charged tornado.
- Ionic Freeze: Cole uses an Ionic Charge to launch a radial wave of ice. Human sized enemies are instantly frozen by this move.
- Superhuman Strength and Durability: Cole's Conduit powers have made him substantially stronger and more resilient than an average human. In combat, he can easily throw a man over his head and shrug off direct hits from shotgun blasts and rockets, and he can easily walk off a fall from a great height.
- Skilled Traceur: Cole is a talented practitioner of parkour, which enables him to easily climb and freerun across rooftops and explore the city to it's fullest.
Thane Krios is a Drell hitman, raised and trained by the Hanar in the art of killing as a child, and making his first kill at age twelve. One of the Hanar's most talented assassins, Thane would find himself questioning the profession when a woman stepped in the way of his target, preventing Thane from killing him. Changed by the encounter, Thane fell in love with the woman and settled down, choosing to leave the life behind him in favor of raising his son, Kolyat.
This idyllic peace was shattered when mercenaries, on orders to kill Thane, murdered his wife, leading him to abandon his son in pursuit of vengeance. After slaying his wife's killers, Thane would discover that he has Kepral's syndrome, a respiratory illness that would eventually claim his life, and vowed to remove as much evil from the galaxy as possible before he died. During one of these jobs, an assassination of Nassana Dantius, Thane encountered Commander Shepard, and agreed to join a team assembled for an apparent suicide mission, finding it a fitting end. Shepard would form a close bond with Thane, having rousing discussions about faith and spirituality, and he would end the drell's loyalty after helping prevent a grown-up Kolyat from becoming a killer like his father. The two reconcile, and a hopeful Thane ultimately survives the suicide mission, a high-pitched raid on the Collector Base.
Following the disbandment of the team, Thane's condition worsens, and he checks into a hospital on the Citadel, where he is regularly visited by Shepard. This puts Thane in Cerberus's crosshairs during their coup of the Citadel, and he manages to elude their agents before intervening to stop Kai Leng from killing the Salarian Councilor. After a brief fight, a weakened Thane overpowers the assassin, forcing Kai to stab him and retreat. With his Kepral's making recovery impossible, Thane, Shepard and Kolyat by his side, whispers a prayer for his friend before dying. The death hangs heavy on Shepard's head, and he ultimately avenges Thane by skewering Kai Leng with his Omniblade during the fall of Cerberus.
Weapons and Equipment:
- M-97 Viper: A rapid-fire sniper rifle with 12 rounds per clip, and 48 rounds overall.
- M-9 Tempest: A full-auto submachine gun with 50 rounds per clip and 450 rounds overall.
- Kinetic Barriers: Thane's armor is equipped with kinetic barriers, shields designed to stop projectiles traveling at high speeds. These are highly effective at stopping gunfire, but do little to prevent damage from physical strikes, extreme temperatures, or foreign toxins.
Powers and Abilities:
- Skilled Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Thane is an incredibly skilled martial artist, and he has taken down an entire room of heavily armed mercenaries with little effort. Even when dying, he was capable of going toe-to-toe with Kai Leng, Cerberus's greatest assassin, and nearly winning had Kai not landed a lucky blow.
- Stealth Master: Thane is incredibly skilled at stealth, enabling him to get the drop on his enemies at any time. During Shepard’s mission to recruit him, he was capable of progressing through an entire building filled to the brim with guards and mercenaries, undetected by everyone save a group of Salarian workers he chose to save. In day to day infiltration, he can blend in and out of crowds with no effort, effectively vanishing
- Expert Marksman: In spite of a preference for up-close kills, Thane is a talented and effective killer at any range, and he’s shown notable prowess at a distance with a sniper rifle.
- Throw: Thane uses mass effect fields to throw enemies backwards with damaging force.
- Warp: Thane creates a mass effect field that shreds the target apart and removes their ability to heal. It also detonates any biotic powers affecting the target, hurting them and any nearby targets. It does more damage to shielded and armored enemies.
- Shredder Ammo: Thane activates Shredder ammo, which does heavy damage to unarmored/unshielded enemies.
Jesse Faden was born in the town of Ordinary, Wisconsin, growing up alongside her brother, Dylan, with the two often playing with their friends at a nearby landfill. One day, the two discovered an old slide projector in the landfill and discovered that it had the ability to open portals to new dimensions. One of these dimensions contained a being known as "Polaris", who telepathically told them they were special, with Jesse growing most attached to it. Unfortunately, a local bully discovered the projector and abused it's power, unleashing an entity known as "the Not-Mother" who turned the bullies into horrific creatures and made the adults of Ordinary vanish. Working with Polaris, Jesse and Dylan managed to deactivate the projector and destroy all the slides save for Polaris's, but Dylan was subsequently captured by the Federal Bureau of Control while Jesse managed to escape.
Spending her life on the run, floating between countless jobs and psychiatric facilities, Jesse never stopped searching for the FBC while trying to prove the events of Ordinary. Answers became more clear when Polaris summoned her to New York City, enabling her to find the Oldest House, the FBC's headquarters. Working her way through the House, Jesse discovered the body of Director Zachiarah Trench, who had killed himself with his own gun. After picking up the gun, Jesse was contacted by the Board, a group of entities from another dimension that explained that the House was being invaded by the Hiss, a hostile resonance that had turned most of the FBC into it's minions, and then appointed her Director with the task of stopping them.
Now gifted with incredible power, Jesse linked up with the surviving FBC members and agreed to help battle the Hiss in return for the location of Dylan. Uncovering the House's secrets led her to discover that both her and Dylan were considered potential Directors, but Dylan's instability led to him being locked away. Reuniting with him in the Executive Sector, Jesse was shocked to learn that Dylan had embraced the Hiss, who had entered the Oldest House through the slide projector, with him warning her not to trust Polaris or the Board.
Acting off Dylan's tips, Jesse searched deeper into the House and discovered Hedron, the apparent conduit of Polaris and the source of HRAs, the equipment protecting the surviving agents, which was found by Trench and Head of Research Casper Darling during an expedition with the projector. Unfortunately, Jesse was an unwitting pawn of the Hiss, who broke Dylan out of containment and destroyed Hedron, trapping Jesse in an endless loop until she was able to reconnect with Polaris and force her way out, discovering that the Hiss had been summoned by Trench, who had been corrupted during an expedition and subsequently manipulated by Dylan into activating the projector before killing himself.
Guided by the Board, Jesse confronted the Hiss in the Astral Plane and fought her way to Dylan, who she purged the Hiss from before turning off the projector, stopping the invasion. With Dylan comatose and the House still on lockdown due to the Hiss within, Jesse embraced her role as Director, working on clearing out all remaining threats while investigating cases such as Former, an ex-member of the Board with it's own agenda, and the mysterious disappearance of author Alan Wake.
- The Service Weapon: The Service Weapon is an Object of Power resembling a pistol that was discovered by the Bureau during an expedition into the Oldest House. Wielding it gives the owner a direct link to the Board and makes them the Director of the FBC, with those deemed unworthy killing themselves upon touching it. It is implied that the Service Weapon is centuries old, shifting it's appearance to match the general public's perception of weaponry, with documents tying it to both Mjölnir and Excalibur. Not needing ammo outside of a cooling time, The Service Weapon comes in six different forms with different abilities, which Jesse can automatically switch between two of while she will have to manually switch if she wants a different mode outside of those two. These are:
- Grip: Grip is the standard form of the Service Weapon. Resembling a revolver, Grip has a semi-automatic rate of fire and is suited for close-to-mid range combat encounters, though a skilled enough shot can use it from a further distance.
- Shatter: Shatter is a form resembling a shotgun with an emphasis on close-range damage thanks to it's wide blast radius and high damage output, but poor range.
- Spin: Despite a lower damage output, Spin makes up for it with a rapid-fire function resembling a machine gun that makes it an effective tool against groups of enemies or foes with healing factors.
- Pierce: Pierce charges a single shot that is powerful enough to completely blow through cover and walls, and can easily kill most enemies in one hit while ignoring the armor and defenses of stronger ones.
- Charge: Charge is capable of charging up to three explosive rounds that are unleashed on a single point, detonating for massive area of effect damage. The charged rounds are fired upon Jesse taking her finger off the trigger, with all three rounds automatically firing upon charging to maximum power.
- Surge: Surge is a form that fires sticky bombs that latch onto enemies and surfaces before detonating. Jesse is able to fire up to three, which either detonate automatically after a few seconds or manually when Jesse pulls the trigger again.
Power and Abilities:
- Parautilitarian Abilities: Jesse is a Parautilitarian, an individual capable of controlling wielding supernatural abilities granted through Objects of Power. Both she and Dylan both have this potential, but Dylan's instability made binding him to objects deeply dangerous while Jesse is guided by the Board in understanding her abilities. These powers, which function on a specific amount of energy that recharges when not in use, include:
- Launch: Launch is a form of telekinesis that enables Jesse to pick up objects and sufficiently weakened people and throw them for high damage. Launch is so refined that Jesse can catch projectiles such as explosives or rockets and redirect them back at their wielders and is strong enough to allow her to effortlessly lift a forklift and throw it at maximum speed. On top of lifting, Jesse can also push enemies away with it as a form of close-range attack.
- Evade: Jesse pushes herself with a short burst of speed, enabling her to dodge attacks or give herself an extra bit of momentum into a jump.
- Shield: Jesse can pull debris and objects out of the environment and surround herself with them as a makeshift shield. While shielded, Jesse can regenerate energy, enabling her to use other abilities upon dropping it. The shield will begin to shake as it takes too much damage, giving Jesse a warning that it will soon drop, and upon being dropped it is launched at nearby enemies. While shielded, Jesse can also rush enemies with Evade and use the shield as a makeshift ram.
- Seize: Jesse can assert a form of mind control on weaker enemies, who will assist her in combat for a limited amount of time before dying. Note that this ability only works on weaker-willed foes and not boss-tier enemies.
- Levitate: Jesse can levitate herself, allowing her to reach higher points and areas that simple jumping or climbing would make impossible. She can still evade and use other powers during levitation, and can slam into the ground at high speed, damaging those caught in the landing.
- Polaris: Jesse can communicate with Polaris, an otherworldly resonance who guides and protects her. Despite it's unclear motivation, Polaris regularly talks with Jesse, seemingly functioning as a surrogate parent from time to time, and provides cryptic hints that enabled her to stay one step ahead of (and eventually find) Bureau. In spite of the destruction of Hedron, Polaris continued to exist within Jesse's psyche, communicating with and helping her in the aftermath of the Invasion.
- Superhuman Durability: Owing to her abilities and importance as the Director, Jesse is able to withstand large amounts of pain and damage before dying. She's survived direct hits from rockets, being in the blast center of explosions, being riddled with bullets, and can easily shrug off a fall from great heights with nothing more than minor pain.
- Skilled Marksman: Limited training with the Service Weapon has given Jesse a surprising level of talent with a gun, and she can easily pull off headshots on fast-moving enemies from a distance during frantic combat.
The fifth adopted child of Sir Reginald Hargreeves, Number Five (his real name either unknown or simply not obtained) was born with the ability to manipulate time and space to travel across distances in the blink of an eye. While he initially used it for teleportation, Five and Hargreeves eventually discovered that he could travel through time. While the arrogant Five assumed it would be easy, his adopted father was more wary, and forbid him from doing so, leading to a fight in which Five stormed out and tested the power himself. While it did work, he soon found himself trapped in a post-apocalyptic future in which he was the sole surviving human, and that the rest of the Academy had died in battle. Wandering the Earth for any clues as to how this happened, Five went mad from the isolation, picking up a drinking habit and falling in love with a mannequin named Delores. After almost forty years, Five was recruited by the Handler, the leader of the Commission, who sensed his potential and offered him a way out of the wasteland.
Working as an assassin to ensure the stability of the timeline, Five eventually went rogue, traveling back in time with one of the Commission's briefcases to eight days before the apocalypse to warn his siblings, and determine the origin of the sole clue: a glass eye that he found in Luther's hand. To his distress, he ended up de-aged by the process, becoming a 50 year old mind in a thirteen year old body. Pursued by the Commission's forces, Five recruited his siblings for his investigation, and was eventually forced to work for the Commission again to ensure the survival of Luther and Diego. Almost immediately, Five went rogue again, stealing a new briefcase and nearly killing the Handler with a grenade, and accidentally erased a timeline in which the Academy was able to finally come together as a unit.
Eventually, Five was able to trace the eye to Leonard Peabody, Vanya's boyfriend who was secretly a bitter sociopath who had resented the Academy for decades, and had manipulated and abused her into becoming an instrument of death, and determined that Leonard, who had recently lost an eye, was the cause of the apocalypse. Upon finding him killed, Five concluded that the apocalypse had been averted, only to discover the true cause was Vanya. After the battle at the theater, Five resolves to go back and try again, this time bringing his siblings with him.
Weapons and Equipment:
- Browning Hi-Power: Kept in Five's coat pocket, the Browning Hi-Power is a semi-automatic pistol with a range of 50 meters and 13 rounds per clip.
Powers and Abilities:
- Teleportation: Capable of manipulating time and space for travel, Five is capable of both short-range and long-range teleportation, though he notably tires out if he overuses the power too much in short capacity, a weakness that nearly got him killed during his escape from Hazel and Cha-Cha. He can take people or objects with him, such as grabbing another person and teleporting them or replacing a weapon with a stapler. He can also use this to travel forward and backward in time, though he has yet to master this ability beyond reversing time a few minutes and is thus cautious to use it unless absolutely required.
- Expert Assassin: Five is a well-trained, ruthless killer, and is frequently regarded as the Commission's best man due to his numerous skills and his intellect. Using a mixture of his powers and a kitchen knife, he was able to casually slaughter an entire strike team in a matter of minutes, and he was able to near-fatally cripple the Commission in one day by infiltrating and manipulating his way into a position of trust. Despite his short stature, he was able to defeat Lila Pitts, a top Commission assassin nearly twice his size and using his own abilities against him, and nearly kill her if not for the Handler.
- Tactical Genius: Five is a clever strategist and leader, capable of manipulating plans and people to his owns and rapidly adjusting them on the fly. As an assassin, Five's ideal method was often simply altering the timeline in a minor way to create a domino effect and he used this wit to stay one step ahead of his pursuers upon returning to the present.
Commander: Amahl Farouk
Once upon a time in the land of Morocco, there lived a cruel, wicked king, who tortured his subjects and ruled the land with an iron fist. This all changed when Amahl Farouk, a centuries old mutant, used his power to overthrow the king, sealing his mind within that of a monkey. Taking the name "The Shadow King", Farouk proved to be little better, living a life of utter hedonism and trapping the minds of any disloyal subjects within that of a mute child, until one day he received a psychic signal from Charles Xavier, a fellow telepath who was searching for any other mutants. Inviting him to Morocco under the guise of friendship, Farouk intended to lay a trap for Xavier and steal his powers, but Xavier saw through the ruse and engaged Farouk in an hours long duel on the Astral Plane before seemingly killing him.
In reality, Farouk had narrowly survived the encounter, but was greatly weakened and forced to flee his mortal form. Vengeful at Xavier for ruining his kingdom, Amahl traveled to his family home and drove his wife Gabrielle to madness before possessing his son David, who Xavier was forced to give up for adoption out of fear for the boy's safety. While his body was taken by the monks of the Mi-Go Order, Farouk leeched off of David, slowly driving him insane by altering his memories and making him see hallucinations until David attempted suicide and was admitted into Clockworks Psychiatric Facility.
At Clockworks, Farouk used David's inconsistent memory to make him perceive his fellow patient Lenny as his old friend Benny, enabling him to lure him into a false sense of trust after Lenny's death during David's escape. The Lenny disguise slowly wore down David as he trained at the mutant camp Summerland, leading him to snap and go on a rampage when Division 3 kidnapped his sister Amy. Fully in control of David, Farouk slaughtered Division 3 and forced Amy to reveal the truth of David's origins to him. When Farouk, in the form of the Devil with Yellow Eyes, attacked David's girlfriend Syd, David was able to take back control and create a fake Clockworks for everyone to live in, where "Lenny" acted as a therapist. When David saw through the ruse, Farouk sealed him deep within his own mind and prepared to murder the others, with his plan only foiled by the intervention of Oliver Bird, who turned the tables on him and isolated him in the same place he had put David.
With the Shadow King sealed away, the Summerland group prepared to remove him from David permanently, but he made it clear to Syd he would kill David if the procedure were to happen. Syd, realizing he isn't lying, reluctantly allows herself to be possessed, and Farouk quickly switched from her to combat expert Kerry Loudermilk before finally taking over Oliver and escaping in the chaos.
Now free, Farouk embarked on a worldwide search for his body, battling the alliance of Division 3 and Summerland and wiping out the last of the Mi-Go monks. David, after receiving a warning from a future Syd that Farouk was crucial to stopping the apocalypse, helped Farouk find his body, but finally ended the alliance after Farouk murdered Amy to bring Lenny back to life. While David set a plan in motion, Farouk manipulated both Syd and Oliver's wife Melanie into turning on him, showcasing the supposed hero's true colors when David violently tortured Oliver for information.
With the heroes scattered and distracted, Farouk reclaimed his body and restored himself to his proper glory, taking part in a duel with David that nearly ended in his victory had it not been for Lenny, as part of David's plan activating a mutant nullifying soundwave. Before David could finish him off, Syd intervened, unable to trust him and aware that the foretold apocalypse is actually the result of Farouk's death at his hands. David, frustrated, wiped Syd's mind so she would love him again, but agreed to let Farouk stand trial. Knowing he would surely be executed if put on trial, Farouk was able to restore Syd's memory and reveal David's treachery to the rest of the team, forcing them to admit that he needed true psychiatric help. Heartbroken at the betrayal, David decides to fully bring out the apocalypse and escapes, and Farouk decides to fulfill his own destiny by stopping him, joining Division 3 as a reluctant ally.
Powers and Abilities:
- Telepathy: Farouk's greatest power is his telepathy, and he is second in strength only to Charles Xavier. David was never able to defeat him in straight-up combat during any of their encounters, relying on tricks to defeat him in the desert and during their final battle in the past, and the omniscient Vermillion determined that any engagement with Farouk once he recovered his body would end in immediate defeat. He can easily invade and manipulate the minds of others and has learned to harness his telepathy in a wide variety of ways.
- Possession: Farouk's favorite trick and his method of survival following his "death" at the hands of Xavier, his telepathy enables him to plant his mind into other people and take control of them. People possessed by Farouk tend to gain yellow eyes, though David and Oliver didn't, and are left largely helpless to do anything as he takes control of their bodies and distorts their perception and memories.
- Astral Manipulation: Farouk is a master wielder of the Astral Plane, able to effortlessly assert his dominance over anywhere in the plane, such as when he usurped control of David's version of Clockworks or invaded his and Syd's private space. Oliver, another powerful psychic, was forced to trap himself in an ice cube far away from any other psychics just to stay away from him, and even needed a special suit just to avoid detection when he ventured to the fake Clockworks. His control over this environment enables him to affect those within it as well, as he was able to immobilize Syd and Kerry and crumple up Division 3 agent Walter into a ball, killing him in both the plane and the real world.
- Astral Projection: Farouk can also project himself into the real world, his preferred method of communication before he recovered his body. Using projection, he could take the forms of Lenny and Oliver to manipulate David and Melanie and was able to project others into the plane, such as David or Switch.
- Mental Sedation: Farouk is able to knock people out with his powers, and was able to effortlessly sedate Clark and multiple agents of Division 3 with a wave of his hand.
- Consciousness Absorption/Control: Farouk is able to absorb and effortlessly subjugate the consciousness of anyone he kills or possesses, as both Lenny and Oliver were trapped in a mental prison upon him taking control of Oliver's body. He can also plant a consciousness in other bodies, such as when he planted Lenny's mind into Amy's body or placed the mind of the previous king into a monkey.
- Reality Warper: Farouk's control over his mind translates into an ability to manipulate reality at will, often using it to set up mind games for his opponents. In a matter of days, he was able to build a massive labyrinth full of traps, video screens, and a minotaur. He's even powerful enough to resist efforts at weakening him, as Division 3's power dampening restraints only limited his strength, and was one of the few mutants who could battle the time-controlling Time Demons and eventually subjugate them to his will.
- Aura Generation: During his battle with David in Kerry's body, Farouk could generate an aura of energy that shielded him from harm. During the raid on Division 3, Farouk used this aura to deflect bullets fired at close-range.
- Matter Manipulation: Farouk's control over reality extends to the human body as well, and he's usually used this to instantly kill any humans he considers beneath him by either turning them to dust or things such as pigs or fish. He can even use this to affect mutant's abilities, like when he removed the Loudermilk twins ability to come back together.
- Teleportation: Amahl can use teleportation to appear anywhere or even bring other people with him, as he took Melanie out of Division 3 and to the desert with Oliver.
- Telekinesis: Farouk can move and control people or objects with his mind, such as throwing Clark out of the way during his escape from Summerland or when he hurled the power dampening tuning fork the Choke several miles away.
- Levitation: Farouk can float through the air by concentrating.
- Master Tactician/Manipulator: What truly makes Farouk dangerous is his expert understanding of people's deepest fears and insecurities, enabling him to play his enemies against one another, and his patience, as he was willing to wait decades just to be returned to his body. Using these skills have enabled him to become one of the most powerful people in the world, to the point where he was able to think his way out of a certain execution and turn the tables on David.
Saturos hails from Prox, the Northernmost settlement in Weyard, and as such is a Proxian. Proxians are a very humanoid race with mildly reptilian features, such as scales and spikes, and are naturally proficient with the Mars, or fire, element. Saturos is considered Prox's strongest warrior, and is generally sent on missions of high importance.
Since his hometown, and eventually the world, was in danger of being consumed by the abyss at the edge of the world, he was sent on a mission to release Alchemy back into the world. In his first attempt, he was accompanied by his partner, Menardi. To release Alchemy, they needed the Elemental Stars from Sol Sanctum on Mount Aleph. Due to the duo's poor communication skills, they entered in conflict with the village of Vale, which guarded Sol Sanctum.
They attempted to raid Sol Sanctum twice, with the first time causing a flood and landslide. The second time was more successful, and they extorted the Elemental Stars from Isaac and Garet. This, however, caused an eruption of Mount Aleph, scattering psynergy stones across Weyard. The Wise One then misled Isaac and Garet into believing that Saturos and Menardi were going to destroy the world, and set them out to stop them.
Saturos and Menardi are successful in lighting Mercury Lighthouse, with the help of their semi-ally Alex. While there, they are confronted by Isaac's team. Saturos has Menardi leave with their "hostages," Isaac and Garet's friends who have joined their cause. While Menardi does so, Saturos fights Isaac's party, despite being severely weakened by the outpouring of Mercury, or water, energy.
After his defeat, he and Menardi cross the continent Angara into Gondowan, killing several guards of the town of Tobli along the way. In doing so, they acquire a new member of their party: Sheba. Saturos and Menardi succeed in lighting the Venus Lighthouse, but are confronted again by Isaac and co. Displaying his penchat for loophole abuse, he promises Isaac's party that they will not harm Sheba if they hand over the Shaman's Rod. He conveniently left out the part that they wouldn't have harmed her anyway, as well as making Isaac's team think they were agreeing to an exchange.They ask the rest of their party to wait outside Venus Lighthouse and fight Isaac's team. After being defeated, they decide to transform and combine themselves into the Fusion Dragon. Defeated again, they fall into the Venus Lighthouse to their deaths. Saturos still remains important posthumously, as his goal is carried out by the party who succeed in compleeting his mission.
Saturos, as a Proxian, has a notably high Mars (Fire) attack and defense power, decent Jupiter (Lightning) and Venus (Earth) attack and defense power, and has notably weak Mercury (Water) attack and defense power.
- Heat Flash
- The user leaps forward to strike a target, and a bright orange-red cloud is emitted upon impact. Deals Mars damage, with a chance the target will be afflicted with Delusion. Delusion reduces hit rate. This attack is technically not Psynergy, but I'm including it here anyway.
- A large mass of fireballs that spread out from the user’s position and attack enemies in a wide range. Deals high Mars damage.
- Removes all buffs currently active on all enemies.
- Pillars of lava erupt underneath a target and its surroundings. Deals high Mars damage.
- Increases the Defense rating of each combatant on the user's side of the field by 12.5%.
- Inflicts Haunt on up to three foes. Haunt is an incurable status effect which inflicts damage at random.
- Potent Cure
- Restores a large amount of HP to the user or one ally. Venus-aligned.
Menardi hails from Prox, the Northernmost settlement in Weyard, and as such is a Proxian. Proxians are a very humanoid race with mildly reptilian features, such as scales and spikes, and are naturally proficient with the Mars, or fire, element. Menardi is considered Prox's second-strongest warrior, and is generally sent on missions of high importance.
Since her hometown, and eventually the world, was in danger of being consumed by the abyss at the edge of the world, she was sent on a mission to release Alchemy back into the world. In her first attempt, she was accompanied by her partner, Saturos. To release Alchemy, they needed the Elemental Stars from Sol Sanctum on Mount Aleph. Due to the duo's poor communication skills, they entered in conflict with the village of Vale, which guarded Sol Sanctum.
They attempted to raid Sol Sanctum twice, with the first time causing a flood and landslide. The second time was more successful, and they extorted the Elemental Stars from Isaac and Garet. This, however, caused an eruption of Mount Aleph, scattering psynergy stones across Weyard. The Wise One then misled Isaac and Garet into believing that Saturos and Menardi were going to destroy the world, and set them out to stop them.
Saturos and Menardi are successful in lighting Mercury Lighthouse, with the help of their semi-ally Alex. While there, they are confronted by Isaac's team. Saturos has Menardi leave with their "hostages," Isaac and Garet's friends who have joined their cause. While Menardi does so, Saturos fights Isaac's party, despite being severely weakened by the outpouring of Mercury, or water, energy.
After Saturos' defeat, the pair crossed the continent Angara into Gondowan, killing several guards of the town of Tobli along the way. In doing so, they acquire a new member of their party: Sheba. Saturos and Menardi succeed in lighting the Venus Lighthouse, but are confronted again by Isaac and co.They ask the rest of their party to wait outside Venus Lighthouse and fight Isaac's team. After being defeated, they decide to transform and combine themselves into the Fusion Dragon. Defeated again, they fall into the Venus Lighthouse to their deaths. Menardi still remains important posthumously, as his goal is carried out by the party who succeed in completing her mission. Her sister, Karst, also attempts to avenge her.
Menardi, as a Proxian, has a notably high Mars (Fire) attack and defense power, decent Jupiter (Lightning) and Venus (Earth) attack and defense power, and has notably weak Mercury (Water) attack and defense power.
- Firey Blast
- A large mass of fireballs that spread out from the user’s position and attack enemies in a wide range. Deals medium Mars damage.
- Death Size
- User charges an attack and strikes, while a transparent image of a Grim Reaper slashes the target with its scythe. Deals Venus damage, with a chance the target will be instantly killed. This attack is technically not Psynergy, but I'm including it here anyway.
- Increases the attack rating of one combatant on the user's side by 25%.
- Flare Storm
- A wall of fire moves through the target. Deals high Mars damage.
- Creates an explosion on the target. Deals high Mars damage.
- All allies have increased resistance to status ailments
- Restores a small amount of HP to all allies. Mercury-aligned.
- Outer Space
- Fusion Dragon leaps up high into outer space and immediately reenters the atmosphere, surrounded by purple fire, and collides into the party with great force to deal Mars damage over an area.
- Evil Blessing
- Does Mars damage over an area with a chance to inflict Haunt. Haunt is an incurable status effect which inflicts damage at random.
- Dragon Driver
- Fusion Dragon sets the battlefield on fire before blasting the opposing party with a stream of fire from its mouth. Does Mars damage.
- Removes all buffs currently active on all enemies.
- Drain Fang
- Drains the health of a hit foe, dealing Venus damage to the target.
- Deadly Gas
- The Fusion Dragon breathes a cloud of gas over an area, doing Venus damage and inflicting those hit with the Deadly Poison status. Deadly Poison does high damage periodically.
- Severe Blow
- Strikes an enemy, causing a burst of Psynergy. Deals Venus damage, and if the blow wouldn't kill the target can reduce it to near death (1 HP in the game).
Nathan Hale was born in South Dakota in 1922, and was quickly orphaned due to influenza. He was eventually adopted into the Farley family, but kept his last name. He and his adoptive sister, Susan, were taught marksmanship by their father,a pursuit which they took to with great skill. Nathan joined the army in 1945. Despite a citation for racing tanks, Hale was inducted into the Rangers due to his high skill and instincts.
Hale took part in Project Abraham, which was supposedly a research program to find a cure for an unknown European disease. He was the second soldier to survive the project's experiments, and the first to remain lucid. He was released back into the army, and took part in Operation Deliverance in 1951. He, alongside the First Ranger Regiment, were sent into Britain to assist the country in fighting off the Chimera. The soldiers were given no intelligence on the Chimera, and were slaughtered.
Nathan is the sole survivor of the American forces, and joins the British Army in their resistance against the Chimera. He is a vital component in the operation, eventually successfully repelling the invasion by destroying the keystones of the Chimeran hivemind. He is returned to the American military, and is recruited into DARPA's Sentinel program. He fights off the Chimeran invasion of the United States, less successfully than the British operation.The Chimeran Virus eventually takes over, and Nathan is shot by his squadmate, Joseph Capelli, who would later marry Hale's foster sister.
The Bullseye is one of the most versatile and common weapons in the Resistance franchise. It is the Chimeran assault rifle, and fires small glowing orange spheres. It has a very high rate of fire, at 700 rounds/minute. Nathan Hale is commonly depicted wielding the Chimera-designed Bullseye, highlighting SARPA's tendency to use any and all weapons available.
Magazine Size: 35 shots
Secondary Fire: The secondary fire of the Bullseye is a homing tag. It attaches onto a target, highlighting it when behind cover. All shots from the Bullseye will arc towards the homing tag. Note that the rounds aren't "smart"; they will not follow the target, nor will they take a path that will always hit - they simply arc towards it, requiring a degree of skill with the Bullseye to use effectively. Tags can also be used to make traps, by putting the tag on a surface and firing at it. The rounds will circle above the tag, making it an effective, mine.Ammo: 6 tags. Tags expire after 30 seconds.
The HE .44 Magnum is SRPA's standard issue revolver. The bullets are made from lithium and laced with glycerine. Other than that, it's a fairly standard .44 Magnum revolver, with large, powerful rounds. The only other notable difference is that the bullets don't appear to fragment on impact, and instead just lodge in whatever they hit.
Magazine Size: 6 shots
Secondary: The HE .44 Magnum's secondary fire is detonating the fired rounds. A small trigger is flipped, and any and all bullets that have been fired (it somehow differentiates between the two - not sure how) explode. This is often used to set manually-detonated traps, similar to the Bullseye Tag.Ammo: N/A.
The Auger Mk II is a Chimeran heavy assault rifle. While it has a slow rate of fire, it shoots high-energy rounds that use radiation to tunnel through objects. The shots increase in power with each object they pass through. The Mk II features a scope which, when looked through, shows enemy positions behind walls as silhouettes.
Magazine Size: 25 shots
The Auger's secondary fire creates a Force Barrier. This barrier is a quarter-sphere, with the user on the inside. Shots can pass through the barrier from the inside, but the outside is impervious to all fire save for another Auger.Ammo Count: 4 Shields
Liliana "Lun Lun" Guenther is the princess of Renstanza, and best girl in Princess Waltz. She acts extremely energetic and ditzy, and to some extent is, but she is also an admiral in her world's largest navy and regularly fights pirates, krakens, and other perils of the sea; furthermore, she also operates her nation's intelligence apparatus. Her semi-facade belies a highly tactical and coldly pragmatic mind, which also seems to know she's the heroine of an H-game. She is selected for the Princess Waltz as Renstanza's representative, being the only princess still a virgin.She enters with her usual energy, taking carefully calculated steps to grow closer to the supposed prince, Chris Northfield, but finds herself falling in love with the MC (and actual prince) Arata. She fights against Angela during the Waltz, and nearly wins, but ends up losing because Angela has plot on her side. She ends up flipping off one of her world's gods because she's so damn thirsty for the MC, and returns back to earth, where she assists the other Princesses in fending off and killing a thousand-year-old demon.
The Aquamerald is the source of Liliana's water manipulation abilities. The crown jewel of her nation of Renstanza, it signifies her position as the nation's princess. It can be separated from the Twinkle Fortune, and can take a hit from Angela without showing any signs of damage. With it, she can perform feats such as manipulating the weather, creating chains known as "blockaders" that are powerful enough to seize ships, and generally make water her bitch.The Aquamerald has a hidden function, one that is highly dangerous to use. Should its wielder be injured, she can use this function to empower it with her blood. This turns the Aquamerald into the Bloodmerald, which augments its water manipulation with the ability to manipulate its user's blood. Liliana uses this to crystallize any blood she has already shed, making seven swords that have a homing function. The Bloodmerald, already a forbidden technique, has another, even more forbidden technique, detailed in the next tab.
The source of both defense and offense for (most) participants in the Waltz, the Dress is a magical suit of armor that, in Liliana's case resembles a naval uniform and a cape. It doubles her natural strength, speed, ability to manipulate water, and overall power. It is literally made of magic, and its true form is the jewel in her fancy goddamn hat. So long as that is intact, it will regenerate. If it is broken, then the dress will remain, but will not repair itself.Liliana's ability to manipulate water is highlighted in other tabs.
Tenkei Iwafune, formerly Seigo Ootori, is the drunk and pessimistic Grey King. Originally the leader of the Grey Clan CATHEDRAL, Iwafune was present at the Kagutsu Crater incident; the former Red King lost control of his Sword of Damocles, creating a massive crater that changed Japan's topography. In this incident, every single member of his clan died, and he found the dead body of Nagare Hisui, who was only saved by his awakening as the Green King. This incident marked the transition from his hopeful self to the bitter, cynical man he is today.He spent most of his time caring for Nagare, becoming the young man's surrogate father, and assisting the youth in his plans to unleash the Dresden Slates and empower everyone. While he tends to stay in their hideout, drinking and cleaning, he does take to the field twice; once during the Five Kings' Battle and once to defend the Green base. His first confrontation ends up completely turning the tide of battle, utilizing his Sanctum's powers while buzzed to pin down the three Kings considered the strongest, while the second fight ends in his loss, though he also forced his foe into a life-threatening situation. He ultimately dies holding his surrogate son in his arms, as their base collapses around them.
As the Sixth and Grey King, Iwafune is the keeper of the Grey Sword of Damocles and its accompanying Sanctum, the source of Grey Auras. Known as the absolute defense, it manifests itself as a thick fog that obscures all electromagnetic waves, from visual to radio, and appears to dissipate other magics at an accelerated rate. Iwafune can imbue his weapons with the Aura from this Sanctum, strengthening them. Iwafune's preferred combat style depends heavily on this Sanctum, deploying the fog in a large area around the foe to prevent them from tracking him, and using his Colt to shoot or pistol-whip them from within.
As he is a King, his Sanctum can also function as a protective barrier, able to stop other supernatural powers and physical objects, though this requires concentration. Further, if he were to put too much strain on his mental condition or release too much of his power at once, he would trigger a "Damocles Down." His Sword of Damocles would fall, killing him and everyone within a large enough radius to be seen from space. The only way to stop this is to inflict a mortal wound on him prior to its fall.He can also imbue others with a Grey Aura, making them his Clansmen. They can presumably use a weaker form of his fog.
Kiritsugu's early childhood was spent on the run, with his father fleeing a Sealing Designation. They eventually settled on Alimango Island in the Philippines, where they lived for a few years. While there, Kiritsugu learned some of the basics of the Emiya magic and developed a friendship with and crush on his father's assistant, Shirley. This life came to an abrupt end when Shirley consumed some of his father's research materials and turned into a Dead Apostle - the Nasuverse's equivalent of a vampire. The sealing Enforcers caught up with them on the same night, and the mercenary Natalia took Kiritsugu under her wing after the latter killed his own father.
Afterwards, Kiristugu worked as a mercenary, killing the few to save the many. this eventually culminated in him killing his own mentor and mother figure, leaving him an emotional wreck. He eventually left the mercenary life to live with his wife, Irisviel von Einzbern. The Holy Grail then called upon him for the fourth Grail War, where he would be forced to sacrifice his wife. Knowing this, he entered a physical relationship with his protegee and assistant, Maiya Hisau, to "practice" betraying Irisviel
Over the course of the war, Kiritsugu fought and defeated several powerful magi, eventually "winning" the war by reaching the Grail first. Realizing his dream was unattainable, he rejected the grail. This broke him completely, until he saved and adopted Shirou. He died five years later, as the curse put on him by the Grail took its toll.In short, Kiritsugu's life sucks.
The Origin Bullets are Kiritsugu's trump card. Each bullet has powdered bone from his ribs inside it, which gives them magical properties. When fired at someone using magic, the bullet materializes his origin - cutting and tying - within the target's magical facilities. It severs the connection between mage and magic and then ties it back together wrong. This typically results in great pain, large loss of blood, unconsciousness, and/or death.
Nasu himself has described the mechanism as:
Innate Time Control is Kiritsugu's magic. A combat-capable evolution of the Emiya family's Time Manipulation abilities, it manipulates the flow of time within a bounded field. In layman's terms, Kiritsugu creates an area where time flows differently than normal. In order to make this form of magic effective in combat, Kiritsugu limits the bounded field to his own body. This ends up having a far more powerful effect at greater cost.
Rather than manipulating a space around him, manipulating his own body allows for the total manipulation of the universe, as it changes his own perception of time rather than time itself. The universe, however, doesn't like this and tries to forcibly end it. This results in damage to his body the longer he uses it, so it has to be done in controlled bursts rather than a continuous application. Adding Avalon into the equation changes things, but that's not in this battle.It's activated using the command "Time Alter," followed by a multiplier and the manipulation type. His most used spell - Time Alter, Double Accel - speeds his actions and perceptions to double speed, allowing for a quick barrage during combat or a speedy escape from a bad situation. He has also used spells to slow his inner time - such as Time Alter, Triple Stagnate - to improve his stealth by suppressing his vital signs.
Kiritsugu has possession of Avalon, an artifact with powerful healing properties. He can regenerate destroyed internal organs in an instant, though a headshot will still kill him. This also allows him to use increased versions of Time Alter while healing all the damage he takes, letting him triple or quadruple his inner time.Avalon usually requires Saber's presence to power it, but Leo has given him one of Saber's severed fingers to supply mana as needed.
Parcel was made into a Contractor at a very young age. Hearing that her parents hoped that she would not be a Contractor, she used her newfound abilities to escape. She was quickly captured by PANDORA, a research institute that studies Contractors and their origin, the Gates. While at their laboratories, she was frequently known as a "problem child," who would escape frequently, but she was caught every time.
On one of these sojourns to the world outside her cell, she met a Doll - a human who lost all ability to feel or think for itself - who was being turned into a cyborg. She befriended the Doll, and named him Champ. She was eventually given employment in PANDORA, and set up a "secret base" for herself, which could only be accessed via her powers. Partnered with Champ, she acted as his support during missions.She eventually meets up with Hei, the main character, while performing surveillance on his target. She has Champ protect Yin from kidnappers, and earns his trust. Parcel, one of the few women to meet Hei and not immediately want to bang him, assists him in his investigation. After a branch of the Syndicate tails him to her hideout and kills Champ, she uses her powers to kill the man who trained Hei, sustaining a wound in the process. After the defeat of Harvest, Parcel - now recovered - wishes Hei and Yin luck before using her power to vanish.
Hanakamakiri, or Flower Mantis, is an assassin working for The Organization. Born Kozue Shiihara, he was orphaned in an accident. After a few years in an orphanage, he was picked up by a wealthy couple. Due to his kleinfelter syndrome, they then raised him as a girl, and she grew to identify herself as such. Her adoptive parents, however, were killed by her stalker; she then killed him in turn. She was then taken in by Kinohadakamakiri and trained to be the perfect assassin, and to fit the man's tastes.She learns her lessons all too well, however, and escapes by blinding him in his moment of weakness. She then joins the organization fully, eventually partnering with Imomushi. She assists her partner during the Caterpillar Hunt, and ultimately survives the sinking of the cruise ship. Once the rape zombie apocalypse destroys Japan, she goes missing. This prompts Imomushi to find her, vowing to seduce her once they reunite.
Hanakamakiri's specialty is disguise and concealment. She can quickly and effortlessly swap clothing and mannerisms to imitate others, though she cannot change her build. This is a core part of her skillset, as she uses both disguises and psychological tricks to fool her enemies into thinking she's weak or defeated. Then, when their guard is down, she strikes with her claws.Her acting ability cannot be overstated; she is able to successfully pretend like she has completely given up on a fight and is pleading to live, to the point where experienced assassins fall for it. She uses this to successfully find a foe who cannot be observed with human senses.
Jordi Chin is an assassin and "fixer" initially active in Chicago. He is hired by Aiden Pearce to assist him in finding Maurice Vega, which he does. Jordi then gets Aiden out of trouble when a member of the Viceroys pulls a starts an incident during a baseball game, setting up the scene to look like a gang fight instead of kidnapping Maurice. He calls the police as a distraction, letting him and Aiden escape undetected.
Jordi helps hook Aiden up with his contacts to do various jobs for them, often acting as a middleman. He assists Aiden in many other ways, getting him materiel on demand. He acts as Aiden's main support, giving him information, holding Maurice, and providing sniping backup.
Jordi later betrays Aiden, having received a more lucrative contract. Aiden (somehow) manages to hack the lighthouse they are on, and pushes Jordi over the railing in the confusion. He survives, and gives Aiden the location where he held Maurice. Some time later, he ends up in San Fransisco, chasing the Bratva. He works with Marcus Halloway to take them down, eventually raiding their boat and near-singlehandedly wiping out the entire organization's leadership.Jordi, being Jordi, pins this on Marcus so that he can make his escape.
Maya Visari, also known as Echo, is the daughter of Chancellor Hera Visari. Her father was likely Vektan, as was one of her grandparents, making her a quarter-Helghan. Little is known of her early life, but she enlisted in the Helghan military at the age of 16, having already undergone considerable combat training. She was assigned to infiltrate anti-government forces, and used her abilities to defend her people.
Echo was captured by the VSA at some point, who held her on counts of murder and espionage. She was then used in a prisoner exchange to secure the release of Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshal captured by the Helghast. The exchange goes south as she escapes in a firefight, leaving casualties in her wake.
She later teams up with Kellan to prevent the rogue scientist Hilary Massar from developing a bioweapon designed to kill all Vektans, and eventually arrive at the true mastermind behind the escalating tensions: Jorhan Stahl, an arms dealer who survived the ISA irradiating the entire planet of Helghan by detonating irradiated petrusite warheads in low atmospheric orbit. They assault his base, and she gets separated from Kellan as Stahl prepares to launch his bioweapon.She later learns that Kellan's father figure, Thomas Sinclair, had killed both Stahl and Kellan. She infiltrated a Vektan installation, and assassinates Sinclair to prevent him from starting a new war between Vekta and Helghan.
Carol was born in the middle ages, and her mother died while she was young. She was raised by her father, who taught her alchemy. The father/daughter pair lived in idyllic happiness, traveling to learn new things and help out where they could. During the Black Plague, her father's alchemy was responsible for eradicating the disease in a nearby village.
The villagers then declared his miracles a heresy and burned him at the stake.
Carol swore revenge on the world, taking her father's last words, to know more of the world, to mean dissecting it. Over the course of a thousand years, she mastered the art of Alchemy, learning how to create homunculi and gaining immense power. When her plans were complete, she exiled a failed clone of herself, Elfnein, knowing the homunculus would attempt to contact and assist SONG in disrupting her plans.
Utilizing every bit of power at her disposal, she took on the Symphogears and utilized Elfnein's upgrades to their equipment to power the Chateau de Tiffauges, which would send alchemic power along the earth's leylines to disintegrate it. She is ultimately foiled, requiring the Symphogear users to direct their strongest powers to stop her, and ends up merging herself and Elfnein to save the latter's life.
She would later reconstruct herself, using the advanced alchemic art of copy-and-paste to reconstruct her memories from Elfnein's mind. Rather than doing anything malicious, however, she lies dormant until Elfnein is in mortal peril. She then temporarily takes control of her body, and despite having less power available, still manages to curbstomp the new villain team, even managing to force the Symphogear users present into X-Drive again.
She then assists SONG in their fight against the resurrected Shem-Ha, fighting the resurrected god to a near draw alone and keeping up with the Symphogears in a boosted X-Drive form to permanently damage Shem-Ha without requiring her to burn too much of her memories. She then burns all of her memories defending the Symphogears from Shem-Ha's attacks, even scoring a hit, and leaves Elfnein with the information needed to fully defeat the resurrected god's plans.Carol here will be used as she was in Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX, at her full power.
Carol is the single most powerful Alchemist in Symphogear, able to create and control multiple different manifestations of the four elements (plus silver) at once when elite members of the Bavarian Illuminati, immensely skilled alchemists themselves, are only able to manifest one element in one form at a time.
She can utilize these five as methods of attack, sending out a storm of an element strong enough to cause widespread damage and even harm a Symphogear user. She can also manifest alchemic barriers, including the Hermes Trismegistus, a massively powerful, three-layered shield.
She is also capable of two master-level alchemic techniques: the creation of Alkahest as well as Chrysopoeia. Alkhaest is a universal solvent, able to disintegrate anything it touches and the basis of the Alca-Noise. Carol is able to apply this with enough force and skill to threaten Shem-Ha, basically God, with annihilation by eradicating only her soul while leaving the body and soul of her host intact.
Chrysopoeia is the act of transmuting items into gold. Unlike Adam Weisshaupt, whose own Chrysopoeia was only usable as an attack, Carol can utilize this technique as a shield strong enough to not only deflect but overpower Shem-Ha's abilities, even scoring permanent damage on her own to a being that can instantly heal from any attack not done by seven Symphogear users singing in harmony.
She can also create and transfer her consciousness to homunculi, but since that's a time-consuming process it will not be relevant.Her base abilities are also further enhanced by the use of memory combustion, a process by which she can selectively erase her memories to convert them into raw power.
Carol can boost her Alchemic abilities further by summoning her Faust Robe, Daur da Bla. The Faust Robe takes the shape of a harp when not worn, and has points sharp enough to stab. When it is worn, Carol ages up into her adult form, as shown above, and gains access to new abilities.
First and foremost, her alchemic powers are increases several-fold while wearing Daur da Bla. Unlike other Relics, it does not require a song to activate or maintain its wearable form, and can be powered by Carol's memory combustion instead. Carol, being Carol, has found a way to convert her memory combustion directly into the Phonic Gain needed to power her Faust Robe.She also gains the ability to utilize the harp's strings as razor wire weapons to attack or defend, which can easily slice through entire buildings.
Carol is able to convert her memory combustion into Phonic Gain, a much more powerful energy source. Her normal song contains enough Phonic Gain to count as a Swan Song, which is a last-resort technique for most Symphogear users because it creates enough power to threaten the user's life. Not only can Carol handle that amount of raw power on her own, she can generate enough Phonic Gain that all six Symphogears can utilize it to activate their X-Drive forms, which require so much Phonic Gain to activate that doing so once is miraculous.She can utilize this Phonic Gain to power her alchemy, as well as boosting the functions of Daur da Bla. She is theorized to be able to fight the entire world to a standstill at her full power. Simply starting to sing can release enough raw power to decimate a couple city blocks.
Maia Naitou and Joker are elsewhere
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As sunlight poured in through her bedroom window, Jesse Faden stirred, groaning slightly from being woken from a good night’s rest. Her hand rested on the spot on the bed next to her, still slightly warm from the person that had shared it the night before, and she smiled as she saw a small note, hastily written and left on her pillow. She unfolded it, sitting up and taking a moment to read it.
Thanks for letting me crash. I suck shit at the whole “goodbye” thing, so figured I’d just leave this, I guess. I’m gonna go figure out this whole homeless bullshit, crack some skulls til a match falls out for me. See ya around.
She chuckled, shaking her head, then set the note aside and reached for her phone, her eyes widening, her initial sleepiness jolted away by the terrifyingly helpful notification that she had four missed calls: two from Sypha, one from Akechi, and one, most distressingly, from Elijah. Hastily mumbling “shit” to herself, she staggered out of bed, quickly throwing on clothes and grabbing the service weapon off the coffee table as she headed for the door. She opened it and came face to face with John Constantine, who looked up from lighting a cigarette and gave her a surprised smirk.
“Rise and shine, luv. Hate to come and bother ya, but it appears it’s all hands on deck today.”
Jesse nodded, tying her hair into a ponytail, and replied, “Everyone? I thought Elijah had rules against all of us under one roof?”
John shrugged and took a drag of his silk cut.
“Fuck if I know. I’m certain he’s got his reasons, so let’s got a move on before Sypha drags us both in by the ear.”
The duo headed down the stairs and exited the apartment building, John leading the way down a nearby alley. Jesse looked around, confused, as he came to a stop and began digging through his pockets.
“Uh, don’t we need a ride? Pretty sure the 1% district is a bit of a walk from here.”
“Normally, I’d have a cab waiting, but that’s,” he briefly took on a sad expression before shaking it off and pulling a small business card with the Planetary logo on it from his coat, “That’s a bit of a long story, really, so I won’t bore ya with the details. So, instead, we’re gonna teleport in. Now, take my hand, luv.”
Jesse very cautiously reached out and did as told, with John giving her a confident smirk and quipping, “Now, it’s good you skipped breakfast because this might shake things up a bit.”
Before she could ask what that meant, there was a snap, followed by a bright flash, and the duo materialized in front of Elijah’s door, helpfully marked with the symbol of a planet. John leaned against the door and took another drag, chuckling as Jesse staggered, her face slightly pale. She hadn’t felt a rush like that since her first time in the Astral Plane.
“Next time, how about we just take a cab?”
John smirked, replying, “Eh, maybe,” before knocking on the door. He went to take another drag, only to sigh as the temperature around him dropped, snuffing out the cigarette. As he flicked it to the ground, Elijah opened his door and coldly stated, “You know better than to smoke in here. Now, come in, you’re both late.”
John confidently strode into the mansion, followed closely by Jesse, who sheepishly mumbled an apology to Elijah as she stepped inside. Following them into Elijah’s study, Jesse’s eyes widened as she saw the assembled group turn to look at her, then resume talking amongst themselves. Not only was the entire assembled team here, but they were joined by a User: Beast, who drummed his fingers on the table and watched her curiously as she found a seat between Five and Akechi, who both sipped on coffee and gave her a polite nod. For his part, John stayed standing near the back of the room, resting his arm on a bookshelf.
While she didn’t follow the news of him as closely as others did, Jesse was still aware of Beast. She’d overheard his rallies, seen others wearing his button around, and even watched some of his and Skull’s speech against the redistricting efforts (an impressive effort that still failed). Even the Board was aware of him, though their initial talk of him had faded to more uncertainty, deeming him a “unknown/undetermined/pending” factor when asked.
The initial conversation faded as Elijah entered the room and stood by Beast. Once all attention was on him, he spoke.
“I’ve called you all here today because this assignment is going to require all of us. I won’t lie to any of you, because we’ve all worked together long enough to be beyond that: it’s going to be dangerous.”
Sypha raised her hand, earning a few chuckles from the assembled group, and said, “May I ask why there’s a User here? I was going to wait but I think we’re all fairly curious.”
Elijah frowned, crossing his arms as he side-eyed Beast, who simply rested his chin on his hand as he waited to speak.
“Beast is… my source of information on this one. He’s been useful a few times in the past, so when he came to me with something he said was “urgent”, I figured it was fair to hear him out.”
He gestured to Beast, who gave him a respectful nod and straightened his tie as he stood up, setting a small metal disc on the table and moving it to the center without touching it. The disc emitted a small hologram, depicting a box covered in elaborate mechanical pieces, and the mere sight of it made Beast’s friendly smile disappear.
“This is the Kadingir Project, the pet project of Leo and his little gang of jackboots.”
At the mention of Leo, a small image of him, his mask hiding everything, even his eyes, accompanied by eleven silhouettes with a question mark over them.
“Kadingir may look simple, but I assure you: it’s activation would upset the entire balance of power in this city. Simply put, it’s a tracking device that can find you anywhere, anytime. If it’s fully implemented, it will be the end of what little privacy is left for the citizenry.”
Pete Wisdom, who until this point had been listening intently while chewing on a toothpick, gave an impressed whistle.
“Don’t suppose the surveillance department could have a crack at it?”
Beast smiled grimly.
“You laugh, but I fear that Leo is planning something. He’s grown more…irate as of late, more annoyed with the squabbling of the other Users. I think he’s going to seize power for himself, and I think Kadingir is just what he needed to make a move, the perfect tool with which to crush dissent,” he paced the room anxiously, giving his all to sell the desperation. “I’ve done my best to delay it’s completion, but in the end, he’s outplayed me. So, I need your help before it’s too late. If you’ll aid me, I’ll lead us into a raid on his little secret police’s headquarters, where you’ll engage them, and, ideally, destroy Kadingir.”
Elijah raised an eyebrow, clearly intrigued.
“He calls them the DFederal Security Bureau. Assassinations, kidnapping, memory erasure, all manner of atrocity committed in the name of preserving his power. I’ve been quietly staving off some of their efforts, but I can’t face them alone. Not all of them anyway.”
Pete scoffed, leaning forward and pointing towards the silhouettes, and asked, “You expect me to believe that there’s a branch of the DFPD I don’t know about? Trust me, mate, I’ve done my research and-“
“-and that means nothing. If a User does not want you to see something, you simply won’t see it.”
His ego mildly stung, Pete leaned back, grumbling to himself, and Elijah scratched his chin, brow furrowed in troubled contemplation.
“Who exactly is on this team? I’m not walking in blind.”
Beast snapped his fingers, causing most of the silhouettes to fill with images of various warriors, the top two being a small blonde girl and a blue-skinned man well known to most of the room as Saturos. He stepped closer to the holograms and pointed to them.
“The exact membership of the group is a well-guarded secret, much like with Planetary, but through my engagements with the bureau, I’ve been able to ascertain some of them. Saturos and Carol here are the likely leaders, so they should be considered a priority.”
Sypha looked at Carol quizzically.
“That is clearly a child.”
This earned a genuine laugh from Beast.
“Assume that at your own risk. I will be dealing with her while you handle the others. She’ll be troublesome, but she’s not without her… weaknesses. I must urge you not to take anyone in this group lightly. That is, assuming you’ll aid me in this.”
Elijah exchanged knowing glances with Pete and Sypha, then turned to Beast and gave a curt, “Leave us for a minute. We’re going to discuss this plan of yours.”
Beast seemed surprised by this, but gave a noncommittal shrug and stepped outside, gently closing the door behind him. It didn’t matter, really, since he could still very easily listen in on the conversation from behind the door, but it was nice to give them the illusion of privacy. As soon as he was gone, Pete spoke first.
“Something’s off about this, Elijah. Can’t honestly say I like it.”
There were murmurs of agreement from around the room, with John reluctantly speaking up next.
“Likewise. Back in the early Council of Magi days, we ran with Leo and this Saturos bloke on a nasty bit of business with the Cult of the Old Ones. He was stronger then, and he fucking loathed every minute of it. Didn’t quite strike me as someone who’d want that back.”
Elijah scratched his chin as he looked at the projection, still hovering above the table.
“He’s giving us this because he wants to see Leo eaten, not us fed.”
Sypha seemed relieved by his apprehension, and asked, “So, I take it you’re turning down his request?”
Elijah shook his head, surprising her and several others in the room.
“Even if it’s playing to his agenda, I don’t like the idea of a device that monitors anyone and everything or secret police that operates how it pleases. If I can prevent another Dowling situation, I have to take the shot. If any of you want out on this one, this is your opportunity. I won’t hold it against any one of you.”
He paused, waiting for anyone to speak up in opposition. For a moment, John considered heading for the door and letting the other settle this whole “fate of the world” nonsense. After all, he didn’t really owe anyone anything. But, there came the issue of Kadingir, and the idea of someone watching his every move very much rubbed him the wrong way, and so the moment passed. When it became clear no one was leaving, Elijah gave a satisfied nod, then said, “Alright, I’ll go tell him, then we can discuss a strategy here.”
The door to the mansion opened, and Beast turned, his face betraying no emotion as Elijah stepped out, looking down on him as he said, “We’ll help you on this. But after we deal with Kadingir, you and I are done. I’m tired of you using my people to pick up your messes. If you have a tip, you can pass it along, but don’t expect anything in return.”
Beast seemed unsurprised by this, offering nothing beyond a calm, “Fair enough,” and a hand to shake. After a moment’s hesitation, Elijah took it.
“I’ll give your team time to prepare themselves, but we need to move quickly. If we strike before Kadingir is fully activated, it’ll be easier to shut down.”
Sometime later, the assembled Planetary, led by Beast, seemingly blinked into existence near the back entrance of the DFPD Headquarters. While others were slightly more dazed, Akechi quickly adjusted and scanned his surroundings, giving an unimpressed scoff.
“Now, I haven’t worked here long, but I feel as though I would’ve noticed if there was a secret door in the back of-“
His mocking was cut short by Beast waving his hand over the brick wall, causing one to stand out with a distinct glow. Smirking, he held up his hand, which warped it’s appearance, then pressed it against the brick, which gave a quick beep, then opened up to reveal an elevator. Akechi’s jaw hung open and John gave an amused chuckle, clapping him on the shoulder and mumbling, “Guess you’ve got to be a bit more observant, mate.”
With the elevator open, Elijah turned to the assembled team, speaking calmly and assertively.
“Alright, let’s run it through again. While Beast lures Carol away, the field team will make a straight shot for Kadingir. Akechi, you’re with us, since we’ll need extra fire support. John, you’ll be leading everyone else in a diversionary assault. Lure as much of them away from us as you can and watch our backs. Are we clear?”
The team nodded, then followed Beast onto the elevator, and once they were all secure, he pressed the button. As the doors slid closed, he did his best to hide a grin of triumph. After months upon months of scheming, the plan was so close to completion.
At the elevator’s destination, in a place both in the city and not, the members of the DFSB simply wait, taking advantage of the endless refreshments their employment contracts entitle them to. A few of the members watch the hologram created by the Kadingir project, poking it to see just how much detail it can provide.
Parcel picks up a small black cube, which flickers to life with a miniaturized version of the Kadingir project. As she walks, a few taps changes the view to Ayaka, showing the highschooler sitting languidly at her desk. Parcel herself plops down on a couch, next to Carol and an excited Jordi.
“No, no, Carol, it’s brilliant,” Jordi says, gesticulating at the girl, “We send Hana in there, and bam! It’s like… what’s that song, the one Joker likes? They’ll never see it comiiiiiiiing…”
“Look, Jordi, I will not approve using Hanakamakiri for that. Or any of the other children.”
“Oh come on. None of you can recognize pure genius when you hear it.”
The elevator interrupts with a ding, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. A split second later, the solid steel elevator doors shatter, launching into the room. Hanakamakiri, right in front, gets decapitated by a flying shard of metal. As the dust settles, the remaining DFSB members quickly take their combat positions.
Carol and Saturos glance at each other, and the room itself changes. The wood-paneled, comfortable lounge remains, but now has a spartanly functional concrete entryway. The doorways to the rest of the base vanish as the Kadingir System relocates itself to the back of the room. In the split second that this takes, Sypha charges into the room, creating a hail of icicles.
“Really?” Iwafune sighs as he deploys his Sanctum, “All of us with that Kadingir thing and no one thought to watch the door?”
“Nor Farouk, apparently,” Carol says, “And he’s trying to teleport me into single combat. Saturos, you’re in charge.”
After Saturos affirms, Carol stops resisting and allows herself to vanish away.
“Well, let’s go with the usual for now,” Saturos says, utilizing the sliver of User abilities he has to maintain communications.
“Do whatever and try not to hit each other?” Parcel snarks.
As the fog and the chaos of the early fighting rolled in around him, Elijah tensed, taking a step closer to the rest of the field team (and Akechi). He should’ve known better than to engage in someone else’s base of operations. If it had been up to him, he would’ve lured them out and confronted them on more neutral ground, but since he had made the mistake of letting Beast take point, he was just going to have to work around it. He glanced over his shoulder at Sypha, who had struck a fighting stance.
“Can you try removing it with wind?”
She grimaced and shook her head.
“I’ve tried, and it either doesn’t move or just rolls back in.”
He cursed and put a hand to his earpiece.
“John, tell your team to get to higher ground, try and scope out a vantage point.”
The loud static, combined with a lack of any response, got another curse from him. So, it takes out communication, and if the slightly drained feeling in his body was any indication, it’s sapping strength. He sighed and gestured for the team to move forward.
“Only way out is through, so let’s keep moving. The priority is Kadingir, but if we can find whoever, or whatever, is causing this, we need to eliminate it if we’re going to stand any chance at winning this. Akechi, you take point.”
At the mention of his name, Akechi grinned and replied with a confident, “With pleasure.” All softness had vanished from his voice, replaced with a barely-hidden sadism as he stepped forward and tapped the bridge of his nose. In an instant, his detective’s clothes had been replaced with his armor. Drawing his sword, he turned back to the rest of the group, a cocky sneer showing underneath his mask, and quipped, “Try to keep up, will you?”
He strode forward, and the others quickly followed. For a few moments, they walked undisturbed, but the crack of gunfire gave them pause, and Akechi quickly summoned Hereward, the Persona blocking the shots with it’s form. The rest of the team took cover behind it, and Akechi laughed maniacally as he cast Riot Gun, the concentrated bursts illuminating the fog, with Sypha, Zuko, and Pete all adding their own attacks into the burst. His glee turned to confusion as he saw a dull yellow light activate, then the firing continued. Staying crouched, Pete leaned towards Elijah and yelled over the chaos.
“Now, much as I love to be in the trenches with you lot, I think I’m better served doing recon.”
Elijah winced as a round flew over his head, then replied, “Well, if you’ve got a way forward around the gunfire, I’d love to hear it.”
Pete smirked, then cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Five, you little bastard, if you can hear me, follow my voice!”
In an instant, Five appeared in a blue flash, his trademark scowl greeting the group as he glared at Pete, who pointed towards the dull glow in the distance.
“Can you get me there?”
“Quite easily. And, frankly, you can just say ‘Five, I need help.’”
Pete chuckled and retorted, “Yeah, but I gotta get my kicks somewhere.”
Rolling his eyes, Five grabbed Pete’s arm, and the two vanished in another flash. With them gone, Elijah signalled for them to move forward, Hereward providing cover with both its body and its flashy attacks that shook the area around them.
Nathan crouches behind his Auger’s shield, feeling incredibly out of place as magic flies wildly around him. He has his revolver drawn, his hand on the explosive trigger as he waits for someone to get close enough to the bullets he’d fired. He sees a black boot land nearby, but before he can activate it he feels a searing pain.
He barely has the time to register the glowing claws ripping through his chest before Pete brings them up, sizzling through the Sentinel’s brain. He grimaces as he lets the hot knives fade, the all-too-familiar smell of cauterized flesh tickling his nose.
Looking around, he sees that Five had planted him in the back of the DFSB’s front lines. With Constantine’s group occupying the backline, he finally has enough breathing room to notice the conspicuous black sphere at the very back of the room.
“Target or trap, let’s find out,” he mutters, concentrating energy into his hands. He lets a barrage of hot knives fly, the compressed thermal energy streaking through the air. They sink through the black sphere, which vanishes to reveal the box Beast had shown them. He barely has time to smirk victoriously before another black sphere appears around his torso, before fading away.
“Ah, sod,” he grumbles, collapsing as his own hot knives combust his heart.
Unaware of their comrade’s death, the remaining members of Planetary’s frontline head forward after Nathan’s guns went silent. They barely advance a few steps before a blue blur slams into Akechi, the youth barely getting his sword up to block. A blast follows the clang of metal, sending the fake detective flying and Saturos after him.
Sypha spots a new muzzle flash, and creates a wall of ice before the sound of the gunshot reaches her. The bullet shatters it, but stops just before wounding her. Elijah exhales, still getting used to the extra effort needed to use his powers. He gasps as Zuko shoves him, throwing him off balance but out of the path of the scythe that would have cut him in two.
Zuko kicks at his assailant, hitting only air as Menardi leaps back into the fog. He instinctively flinches as he spots a mass of icicles, which stop a few feet from impaling him. He nods in thanks before feeling his hair stand on end.
He recognizes the feeling and moves, using his abilities to redirect the lightning about to fry him. It hits the ceiling with a crack, sending a rain of debris to scatter the trio. Separated from his allies, Elijah tenses as he hears metal dragging against the floor, his only warning before Menardi launches herself from the fog, scythe raised high for another strike. Her smile turns into an expression of pain as she feels the sharp sting of the fluids in her brain freezing up, throwing her off balance, and it gives Zuko an opening to jump forward and land a harsh kick to her side, sending her careening away. He comes to a stop by Elijah, and the duo give each other a silent acknowledgement as they turn to face Menardi, who stands to her feet and grips her scythe tightly. The older man prepares himself, then calmly says, “Alright, it’s you and me against her, so stay focused.”
Just as Elijah gives his orders, a jet of water erupts from the fog, and Zuko quickly turns on his heel, creating a burst of flame to counter it. The clashing elements create a thick cloud of steam through which he sees the small, but distinct, form of Lun Lun, already preparing another burst of lightning. Drawing his swords, he gives an apologetic look to Elijah, then leaps through the steam towards his foe. Watching the young man vanish into the fog, followed shortly by a series of explosions, Elijah sighs.
“Well, that’s just typical.”
Far from the rest of the field team, Akechi manages to reposition himself in mid-air, digging his claws into the ground to skid to a stop, as Saturos hits the ground and rolls to his feet. As soon as he recovers, he’s forced to keep moving, ducking and weaving to avoid a series of slashes and swipes from Akechi, who practically snarls as he pushes the attack. He brings his sword up and manages to block a strike, and the two stay locked in place, pushing against one another. Locking eyes with his foe, Saturos smirks.
"Akechi, right? Joker’s mentioned you once or twice.”
The name drop throws Akechi’s focus, giving Saturos an opening to drive his knee into his gut, then follow it up with a full kick to the chest, sending him skidding away. Akechi grimaces and summons Hereward, and Saturos leaps to avoid Rebellion Blade, breathing a sigh of relief as it just misses him, hitting the ground so hard it forms cracks. Akechi charges again, this time managing to drag his claw against the Proxian’s cheek, drawing blood and earning a hiss of pain. As Saturos ignores the stinging pain in his face, Akechi raises his sword and points it at him, voice dripping with scorn.
“How do you know that name? Tell me now and maybe I’ll make your death quick.”
Saturos takes some internal pleasure in knowing that Joker wasn’t exaggerating the details of him and the detective’s rivalry, then readies himself and replies, “He’s part of the Bureau, though he’s out on business right now. It’s your lucky day, frankly, because if he was here, I think he’d make pretty short work of you.”
Akechi’s eye twitches at the insult, and he roars in response and charges again, making an easily telegraphed strike that Saturos calmly sidesteps. As he attempts to turn and attack again, Saturos quickly casts Pyroclasm, then jumps back as four pillars of lava burst out of the ground, engulfing Akechi and lifting him into the air. As the young detective tumbles back down, Saturos follows up with Haunt, and a group of purple spirits emerge from the holes formed by Pyroclasm and engulf Akechi, who struggles futilely against them before hitting the ground so hard he bounces.
He groans as he staggers to his feet, mask cracked and lip split, then spitefully glares up at the spirit circling above his head, crying out as a burning pain shoots through his side. He grits his teeth and summons Hereward, firing off Megidolaon and grinning through the pain as the explosion envelops Saturos and sends him flying into the fog. He runs after him, hoping to follow-up and hopefully finish him off, only to stop, confused, as he realizes that the Proxian had vanished. The burning strikes again, this time in his leg, and his cry of pain deprives him of the vital moments he would’ve needed to block as Saturos emerges from the fog and drives his sword through his chest.
Blood trickles from Akechi’s mouth as he glares at the wound, and he manages to spit out a defiant, “K-kill you...go down...with me!” as Hereward appears over him, casting a final Megidolaon directly on top of them. Saturos’s eyes widen and he kicks off of his defeated enemy, using the momentum to avoid the brunt of the blast, but still letting out a pained “oof” as the force of it slams him into a wall.
Bruised and with several tears in his cape, Saturos takes a moment to get his bearings, then looks to the smoking crater where he and Akechi had once stood. Now he was glad he had isolated him from the rest of their assailants, or else there could’ve been trouble. Hearing the sound of combat further ahead, he sighs and casts Potent Cure, healing most of his wounds. He’d hoped the others had cleaned up the frontline now, but it appears he was still needed.
“Christ, Jesse, might’ve overdone it on the doors.”
As the duo stepped over Hanakamakiri’s corpse, John jokingly scolded his teammate as he cast a ward and sent it forward, trying his best to dispel the fog with every enchantment he could think of, while Jesse raised the Service Weapon, set to Spin, and opened fire at Kerry, who quickly dodged and returned fire with his Calico before falling back into the fog. Jesse quickly formed a shield, then dropped it after the rounds pinged harmlessly against it.
“Look, I didn’t realize she was gonna be in the way! Besides, it’s one less to worry about.”
There was a quiet hum in the back of her head as Polaris helpfully reminded her that killing a child was generally bad, and she sighed and snapped, “Yes, I’m aware. We’ll discuss the morality later.”
John gave her a quizzical expression, and before she could sheepishly explain the voice in her head, the distinct glint of a sniper rifle gave her just enough warning to pull John back and form another shield, then quickly sent it at the direction of the shot. John gave her a thankful smile and a cheery “Thanks, squire,” then glanced in the direction the shot had come from and whistled. In an instant, Five appeared, adjusting his jacket, and John pointed in the general direction of the shot. With a determined expression, Five vanished in another blink. Jesse stared at John incredulously as they moved deeper into the fog.
“Did you just...summon Five?”
“Nah, I was just hoping somebody friendly would answer. Would’ve settled for the other blokes, too.”
Jordi swore and cocked his Dragunov. He’d had the perfect shot lined up on the magic guy (well, one of the numerous magic guys) and then the redhead had blocked it. He had been so close to getting to put “wizard killer” on a business card and that opportunity had been stolen from him. As he scanned the battlefield, hoping to get another chance at it, he heard a quiet pop behind him and quickly spun around, grunting as Five managed to grab the barrel of the rifle and raise it just as he fired. Pulling it from his grasp, Five strikes Jordi in the jaw, to which he replies with a kick to the gut, sending him staggering backwards.
Wiping blood from his mouth, Jordi gave an impressed look to the young boy in front of him, then drew his knife and asked, “Christ, you hit hard. How old are you, twelve?”
Five raised his fists and responded, “Sixty.”
Jordi paused for a moment and let the answer sink in, then mumbled, “Wasn’t expecting that one,” as Five lunged, vanishing in a flash and appearing behind him to deliver a kick that brought him to his knees. Jordi turned, stabbing forward, but the boy vanished again, appearing beside him to grab him by the hair and drive his knee into his head. This time, he was able to grab him, lifting Five up and tossing him as the smaller assassin awkwardly fumbled, trying to grab onto his coat as he was lifted into the air.
Five hits the ground with an uncomfortable thud, wincing in pain as Jordi took a moment to catch his breath. Lifting the knife up, he goes to bring it down, only to stagger back as Five manages to raise a gun and fire a round into his chest. Jordi blinks, confused, as he recognizes the gun in his killer’s hands as his own, then realizes he can feel less weight where his shoulder holster should be. Before he can compliment the effortless pickpocket, Five fires again, putting a round clean through his temple, and Jordi falls, dead.
Tucking the gun into his coat pocket, Five stands up, ignoring the pain in his side, then looks appraisingly at Jordi’s sniper rifle. After making sure it was loaded, he slung it over his shoulder. Not like the previous user was going to need it anymore. --- Seeing another muzzle flash, Sypha creates a gust of wind, knocking the bullet off target, then points her hands to the ground and generates a cyclone, letting the force of it carry her into the air and over another round as it tears through the fog. Confident she’s clear, she gracefully lands on her feet and returns fire, hurling a fireball into the fog. Preparing a follow-up attack, she pauses as she notices the strange, enormous sword that looms in the sky, and how the fog almost seemed to move with it.
Her concentration is broken by another gunshot directly beneath the sword, and she quickly knocks the round out of the air with an icicle. Still waiting for a follow-up attack, she pursed her lips, eyes narrowing as she contemplated if the gunman attacking her was somehow responsible for the sword. If Trevor were here, he would’ve grumbled, “Oh good, she’s making her investigator face again.” Frankly, she wished he and Alucard were both here, but Elijah had firmly insisted on this staying Planetary’s business.
For a moment, she contemplated heading into the fog and tracking down the sword herself, but the sound of fighting, coupled with the distinct crack of ice shattering, drew her attention, and she decided to instead inform the others of her discovery after ensuring that Elijah was alright.
Quickly drawing from the moisture in the fog around him, Elijah created a small shield of ice, grimacing as Menardi swung down and shattered it with her scythe. She continued forward, swiping at him as he attempted to create some distance between them, hastily firing out a blast of ice shards that she easily swatted aside. As Menardi lunges again, he freezes the floor beneath him and lets the ice carry him backwards, easily avoiding the strike and knocking her off-balance with the sudden loss of friction beneath her feet. She attempts to right herself, only for Elijah to capitalize on the momentary distraction and let loose another blast of shards. Moving her head out of the way of one that would’ve gone right between her eyes, Menardi grits her teeth as the shards cut at her, one even digging into her shoulder.
Before Elijah can follow up, she casts Fiery Blast, and he desperately ducks and weaves to dodge the cloud of fireballs as it converges on him, grunting in pain as one connects with his back and sends him sprawling. He quickly tears off his burning jacket, then freezes it as he tosses it at Menardi, only for her to easily cut it aside. Before he can fully stand, she fires off a Supernova, the explosion knocking him to the ground, then follows up with Flare Storm. She grinned as the advancing wall of flame seemed to envelop her dazed opponent, only to tilt her head, confused, as it split into two around him. Ears still ringing, he turned and nodded graciously as Sypha dispelled the flames, then fired back a blast of her own, which Menardi ducked out of the path of.
The two women charged at each other, Sypha quickly creating a trio of floating icicles that stabbed forward, clashing with Menardi’s scythe as she tried to land a hit on the Speaker. Their duel was interrupted as Elijah flanked Menardi, forming a large bladelike shard and forcing her to fight on two fronts. She charges her scythe, then unleashes Death Size, the pale spectre of the Reaper forcing Sypha back, then swings at Elijah, who blocks with another shield. They stay locked in the clash, practically face to face, until Elijah spits at her, freezing it in mid-air and causing the miniature shard to slice her cheek.
The momentary distraction gives him time to land a headbutt, staggering her, then he lunges, using the fog once again to encase his fist with ice, then slams the makeshift gauntlet into her face, hitting her so hard she collapses to the ground, jaw nearly dislocated. Her scythe falls, almost out of reach, as he looms over her, rolling up his sleeves.
“That’s the problem with your little fog trick. It’s draining, certainly, but the amount of water you’ve surrounded us with gives me a very big sandbox to play in.”
She grabs her scythe for another attack, only for it to freeze solid as soon as she touches it, the ice traveling up her hand and wrist. Before she can pull away, Elijah brings his boot down, shattering both limb and weapon in one fell swoop. Grimacing, she decides to cut her losses and throws out another Fire Storm, vanishing into the fog as Elijah freezes, then shatters it. Realizing she’s gone, he frowns, then looks to Sypha, who gestures towards the sword looming over the battlefield.
“Now that she’s been dealt with-”
“-I believe that sword may be tied to this fog. We should focus on bringing it down if we’re going to have any hope of getting rid of it and actually finding Kadingir in here.”
Elijah adjusted his tie, using the pause to catch his breath, and thought about Sypha’s findings. The fight had taken more out of him than expected, and he doubted he’d survive another scrape like that unless they dispelled the fog.
“Alright, let’s keep moving then. Hopefully, the sword is between us and Kadingir.”
“Shouldn’t we wait for the others and regroup?”
Elijah shook his head and headed in the direction of the sword, followed by a disturbed Sypha, who pointed back towards the sound of fighting.
“Surely, we can’t just leave them, they’re-”
He turned back and glared at her, urgency and frustration clear in his tone.
“They’re all very capable of handling themselves, and even if they aren’t, their deaths will have been for nothing if we don’t destroy Kadingir. Now, let’s go.”
He turned on his heel and continued walking towards the sword, and Sypha, hesitantly, followed him.
Steel clangs on steel as Cole brings his Amp up diagonally, parrying a knife aiming to slit his throat. It vanishes before he can send electricity down it, and he instead throws up a frost shield, absorbing the hail of bullets that followed. He lets loose a bolt in frustration, the electricity snapping into the fog.
Kiritsugu aims and fires his Contender, loaded with only ordinary ammunition. He hadn’t tested firing his Origin Rounds within Iwafune’s Sanctum, and really didn’t want to kill one of their best assets by accident. He grimaces when, as predicted, Cole blocks it.
He reaches inside his coat, making sure the small silk bag - still soaked in blood - that Leo had given him months ago was still there.
“Time Alter, Octal Accel,” he whispers, recalling a slight bit of what Carol had told him about User Powers. The same principle applied here; pushing himself this far should not be possible, but he simply had to discard that notion.
He flips his Thompson around and charges, swinging it at Cole. The man reels, his jaw nearly ripped off before he heard his foe’s footsteps. Half a second later, the blur smashes him in the chest, breaking a few ribs. Cole uses a radar pulse to spot a small source of electricity - some sort of drone approaching him. He drains it without a second thought, but it only provides enough electricity to reattach his jaw.
“Damn fog,” he mutters, “Can’t see a damn thing, fucks with my powers…” He looks at his hand, before grinning. “Let’s see it put a damper on this!” he says, gathering Ionic energy in his hands. He creates an electric sphere in front of his chest, and as he’s about to release it feels a sniper bullet tear through his skull.
The electricity detonates, carbonizing Kiritsugu’s arm and shorting out Echo’s camouflage. While Avalon allows Kiritsugu to zip off to another part of the battlefield unharmed, Echo has to stagger to her feet, dazed. She barely has the time to think she needs to be leaving before Thane lines up and takes a shot, killing her.
Drawn to the explosion, John and Jesse emerge from the fog and run to Cole’s corpse, Jesse solemnly crouching beside her fallen teammate while John contemplates a new strategy now that one of their powerhouses is down. Lighting a silk cut, he glares contemptuously at the fog that obscures everything around him.
“Christ, feels like they got enough snipers to recreate bloody JFK. That better be the fucking last of em.”
He turns quickly at the sound of a gun reloading, hellfire blazing between his fingertips, then relaxes slightly as Thane steps through the fog, reloading his Viper. He nods to John and offers a regretful, “My apologies. If I’d been a few moments sooner, I could’ve saved him.”
John shrugged and put a hand on Jesse’s shoulder.
“He knew the risks. Now, let’s keep moving. Snipers are down, but we still gotta deal with-”
As if summoned by the mention of him, Kerry, arm already piecing itself back together, stepped out from the fog, raised his Contender, then fired, frowning as Jesse dashes in front of her teammates and raises a shield. The round embeds itself into a piece of rock, which he manages to use his Time Alter to avoid as Jesse flings it back at him. Tossing his cigarette aside, John nods to Jesse and points upwards, explaining simply, “Two-pronged assault. I draw the bastard in, you hit from the sides.”
Jesse levitates herself into the air, circling around Kerry and switching the Service Weapon to Surge, firing each bomb in a zigzag formation and forcing Kerry to stay on the move as each explosion comes dangerously close to him. Thane’s hands glow as he prepares to join the fight, but John places a hand on his chest and shakes his head.
“You’re needed elsewhere, mate. Move on ahead, make sure Elijah’s crew don’t get themselves killed, and if you can, take out whoever the fuck is making this fog. It’s making me feel like I’ve got a bleeding hangover.”
Thane reluctantly does as told, fading back into the fog and giving one last look at John as he waves his hands and a flock of rotting crows flies from his sleeves, the undead creatures cawing viciously as they peck and tear at Kerry.
In the Astral Plane, Beast rests back, nursing his beer as a light show he can barely follow plays out on the screen in front of him. The match between the DFSB and DF Planetary was riveting, though without his usual ability to see everything at once it was fairly chaotic.
A ripple in the room drew his attention as a large pair of double doors appeared, which he somehow knew were rosewood. They open, displaying an impossible stygian purple and black swirl. A pair of glowing red dots advances through the gloom, and Beast relaxes. He’d let Leo have his theatrics.
His relief is interrupted when he sees the eyes belong to a girl, about his height when sitting, wearing a frilly black dress with purple and red detailing. He stiffens in his chair as she smirks maliciously, and starts slowly, deliberately striding towards him.
Just as she’s about to reach his chair, she jerks back and up, flailing at the air before going limp, save for glaring to her right.
“What are you doing?” she asks, continuing to stare daggers at Joker.
“What are you doing?” he asks, continuing to hold her by the back of her neck as if disciplining a kitten.
“Well,” she says, leaning in to whisper into his ear.
“What? Why?” Joker asks, recoiling in surprise.
“Leo said Beast would like it.”
“Whatever he told you, he was probably lying,” Beast says, ignoring the expression of disgust on Joker’s face.
“At any rate, let’s get you out of here,” Joker says, not setting Maia down.
“Wait, what about Raziel?” Beast asks, looking around for the spacey angel that had appeared some time back.
“She’s elsewhere, we’ll get her later.”
“Fair enough, I’m certain Leo has his reasons.”
Beast groans and stretches as he stands from the chair, then follows Joker and Maia to the door, stopping as though he was reminded of something. Much to their confusion, he walks back, appraising his old chair for a moment, then picks it up and tosses it at the bar, laughing in satisfaction as the dozens of bottles shattered and collapsed to the floor. He then turned towards the projector and knocked it over, stomping it on several times for good measure, before striding up to the screen and putting his fist through it. Content with his destruction, he takes a deep breath, then looks to the baffled duo and simply shrugs.
“I’ve...been in here a while.”
He follows them back through Maia’s doors, and the trio steps out into the Astral Plane, an enormous white void, occupied by nothing save the occasional remnant of objects in the distance that float past them. They walk, the ground rising from nowhere to form a path for them, with Beast leading the way while Joker and Maia close behind. Keeping a close hand on his dagger, Joker clears his throat, getting Beast’s attention.
“I assume you have a way back into your own body?”
Beast gives them a “so-so” hand motion, then replies, “Yeah, I contemplated that, but it runs the risk of Farouk just booting me back here and making me even harder to find, and Phoenix is under his control, so I had to take a bit of a third option. Fortunately, good old David Lynch gave me an idea, a little backdoor out of here which should be right about..”
He comes to a stop, then reaches out and drags his pointer finger across the air, forming a small power outlet which crackled and hummed ominously as it floated in the air. He grins, then says, “Here.”
Before either of his rescuers could ask how exactly he was going to escape through that, a sickly roar, accompanied by the slow creaking of metal, gives them pause. Beast pales as, in the distance, what appeared to be a sickly man wearing a cow skull advanced towards them, slowly pulling himself with crutches while a makeshift chariot lifted his legs behind him. Joker finally sets Maia down, and both position themselves in between the creature and Beast as he mumbles, “Of course he put the minotaur in here.”
Joker summons Arsene and runs to fight the Minotaur, who groans in response, while Maia creates a trail of thorny vines that hold it in place, then looks over her shoulder at Beast and sweetly says, “You should go, we’ll deal with this. And be a dear and look me up when you get back to the city, will you?”
She caps it off with a wink, and a deeply unsettled Beast places his finger into the socket, then vanishes in a burst of electricity. With the primary objective complete, Maia focuses her attention on the fight, with Joker ducking under a strike from the Minotaur and quipping, exasperated, “Surely you didn’t need to make him that uncomfortable.”
To this, she simply shrugs and replies, “Leo’s orders.”
Iwafune turns as he hears a pair of footsteps getting closer, materializing out of the fog. One, belonging to a man in a white suit with white hair - more monochrome than Saturos - who simply stopped once he could see. The other, belonging to a blonde woman, slides across the floor as she takes a combat stance.
“Let me guess, you’re the dry ice machine?” the man asks.
“Oh, no,” Iwafune replies, fishing a flask out of his pocket, “Just a simple old man, out for a stroll.” He flips open the flask, takes a couple sips of the alcohol inside, and tosses it to Elijah, who catches it and opens it himself, taking a sip.
“A simple old man. In DFederal. Taking a stroll in the secret police’s headquarters. With a gun. Very convincing,” Sypha says, taking the flask from Elijah and taking a sip herself. “At least your sake is better than your jokes.”
“Not too high a bar, I’m afraid,” Iwafune says, grinning sheepishly as she tosses it back. His expression sharpens for a split second, as he levels his revolver and pulls the trigger. The bullet passes through the flask, causing the sake within to spray back. Sypha leaps to the side as the tiny ball of fire she was creating ignites it in an unusually bright flash.
By the time their sight had returned, Iwafune had already vanished beyond the pair of instinctual ice shields into the fog. In the few seconds it took Sypha to find the large, glowing sword, another man had melted out of the fog. Elijah sighs, recognizing the blue-skinned warrior.
“Sypha, your priority is their fog machine. I can handle this.”
“Back me up after,” she says, charging into the mists as Saturos waits, taut. As soon as she leaves sight, the blue man snaps forward, feinting with a sword strike as he casts Psynergy, catching Elijah with a kick as the white-haired man dodges the pillars of lava. He softens the blow with a shield of ice, sending a few shards Saturos’ way. The Proxian shatters them with his sword, and Elijah jumps just out of reach of a kick in the balls.
He lashes out, fist covered in ice, and grazes Saturos’ face. Even that much was enough to stagger the blue man, who swiftly cast Pyroclasm between them. Elijah rolls left, doding a horde of spirits that erupt from the ground to his right, and Saturos leaps through the columns of lava, sword flashing in the light. The Proxian brings his blade around as Elijah crosses his arms, letting out an orange flash as steel meets ice. They stay there, locked in a contest of strength.
Saturos slams his free hand into the bottom of Elijah’s jaw, preventing the spit of ice Menardi told him was coming. He breaks the lock, leaping back as a rain of ice shards crack the ground where he was standing. Elijah freezes a wall around Saturos, and prepares to walk away when he hears a cracking noise.
He turns back, repairing the wall with moisture drawn from the fog.
“I see why Leo keeps you around,” Elijah says, straining, “Why don’t you join Planetary after this is all over? We could use someone who can fight like you.”
“And join a bunch of fools easily manipulated into a plan doomed to fail?”
“Better than a shady organization full of tyrants, no?”
“We… actually, yeah, maybe hiring mostly villains and antiheroes wasn’t a good PR move.”
“Besides, whatever Beast is planning, it can’t be worse than what you’ve done here.” At this, Saturos breaks into a laugh.
“Well, human. Humor me for a second. Why do you think I was considered Prox’s strongest warrior?”
“Agatio has his massive psynergy pool, Karst and Menardi both have attacks that can kill in an instant. I have a sword and two psynergy attacks. So why do you think I was the strongest, Elijah Snow?”
Elijah grimaces, unable to answer as he puts his all into keeping the cage together.
“I’ll answer that for you. Power. Pure, raw ability. I need no tricks. I broke every one they threw at me with a simple sword,” he says, casting Inferno, the outpouring of fire the last straw for the cage. Elijah makes an ice wall, blocking the debris.
“And that’s all I need to cut a puppet who doesn’t even know who pulls its strings.”
“God, do you villain types ever shut up?” Elijah asks, sending another several shards at his opponent, “Are you going to tell me I know nothing next?”
“Look, man, I haven’t had a good monologue in eleven damn years,” Saturos says, baring his teeth before charging back in, “Let me have this.”
“Sure,” Elijah replies, punching the sword away from his face, “But that’s all you’ll get from me.”
He lashes out with his other hand, hitting Saturos square in the jaw. He throws a cluster of ice spikes as the Proxian reels, but Saturos casts Pyroclasm to melt them. Elijah instead freezes a portion of the fog above the lava, sending shards down to flash-cool the attack.
Saturos, evidently expecting this, charges through the opening, casting Inferno as he does so. The fireballs intercept the ice shards Elijah throws his way, and the Proxian reaches his foe in short order. He swings, and Elijah encases his arms in ice once again to block. He deflects a flurry of slashes, the two evenly matched. He finds an opening and swings once again, though Saturos leans out of the way. Elijah takes the opportunity to grab the blade of his enemy’s sword. In an instant, he flash-cools the weapon, shattering it.
“And now I’ve broken your simple sword, Saturos,” Elija says, smirking as Saturos looks at the shards remaining attached to the hilt, impressed. “Should I break your arm the same way, like with the pink woman?”
Saturos then flips the broken weapon into the air, punching as it falls. He casts Inferno as he strikes the pommel, the concentrated Mars psynergy propelling it forward. Elijah barely swerves out of the way, taking a cut on the shoulder instead of a stab to the neck. He continues his fall, rolling out of the way of the fireballs and freezing his blood to stop the bleeding as he rises.
Elijah grimaces as he and Saturos glare at each other, his own frigid gaze warring with the smouldering hate in the Proxian’s eyes. He’d clearly picked the wrong thing to taunt his foe with.
Elijah throws a set of icicles, which Saturos simply deflects off his bracer. The Proxian charges in, throwing a punch. Elijah dodges, and uses the momentum to spin into a backhand that his foe ducks under, before leaning back to avoid an uppercut. He whips forward into a headbutt as Saturos does the same, and the two collide.
Elijah throws an icicle as he reels, and Saturos throws his left arm forward, but before he can cast psynergy it impales his hand, travelling through his arm. The white-haired man slams his fists into the Proxian’s injured shoulder, sending him sprawling to the floor. Saturos rolls out of the way of a kick, and lands his own on the back of Elijah’s knee.
This sends him sprawling, and Saturos rises and stomps on his foe’s elbow. The metal boot shatters bone, and he kicks Elijah over, breaking a rib in the process. He then drives his knee into Elijah’s stomach, causing him to cough up gastric juice just before the Proxian’s good hand clamps around his throat.
Elijah beats at Saturos’ elbow, ineffectually trying to shake the man’s grip. In one last, desperate attempt, he creates an ice shard in hand and swings, gashing the Proxian’s brow. THe pressure lets up slightly, giving Elijah just enough oxygen to think. He gives Saturos a brain freeze, and as the Proxian lets go in pain he stabs the ice shard through his foe’s knee.
Saturos loses his balance, falling to the floor again as Elijah picks himself up. The Proxian rolls out of the way of another boot to the face, and grabs Elijah’s shin. Holding his foe in place, he casts Pyroclasm, the pillars engulfing the other man.
Elijah falls to the floor, badly burned but still alive. Saturos casts Inferno, but just before the fireballs converge Five swiftly teleports in and sends both himself and Elijah away. Saturos lies there, gasping, before casting Potent Cure on himself. Death staved off, at least for now, he begins to move, dragging himself to where Menardi was also recuperating.
As a charged round streaks by his head and hits the ground with an explosion powerful enough to make his teeth rattle, Kerry fires his Contender directly at John, who chuckles and flips him the bird as the bullet passes harmlessly through him. The illusion fades and the real John appears at Kerry’s side, flicking open his lighter and waving his hand over it, causing a burst of hellfire to erupt from it. He staggers back, narrowly avoiding the flames, then curses as John fades back into the fog. Somehow, the magician was using the fog against him, while the girl above him continued to use suppressing fire to keep him from following.
Jesse hit the ground as her levitation ran out and quickly switched the Service Weapon to Pierce, charging and firing a shot that tore through Kerry’s knee, bringing him down. He grimaced, Avalon almost immediately piecing the wound back together, but it bought Jesse time to lift a chunk of the floor and toss it at him. He manages to roll out of the way of the projectile, then raises the Contender and fires, Jesse crying out as it pierces her shoulder and knocks her back into the fog. Just as she vanishes, John leaps from the fog, swinging the Twin Blade over his head, and Kerry lifts his knife, blocking it, then pushes the Brit back.
The two clash blades, John stumbling back as Kerry presses the attack. In hindsight, attempting to engage a master assassin in a swordfight wasn’t his most clever strategy, but at this point he was just treading water until the pieces fell in place. He stabs forward, hoping to run his opponent through, but Kerry dodges to the side and brings his knife down, slashing his wrist and forcing him to drop the Twin Blade, then kicks John in the stomach, knocking him on his back. He pivots, drawing the Contender to finish him off, but the shot hits the ground as John rolls left, then hastily scribbles a circle on the ground in his own blood. In an instant, the circle glows a dull white, then screams as a horde of spirits emerge from it and slam into Kerry, carrying him backwards with enough force to crack his ribs.
He heals as soon as the Soulstorm drops him, especially resenting the fog around him for depriving him of Origin rounds. As John pulls himself to his feet, wrist already healing, Kerry lines up a shot against his chest and fires, only to hiss in pain as he feels the bullet passing through his own chest. Feeling the ward on his chest fade, John smirks and calls out, “Some mage killer you are.”
Ignoring the taunt, Kerry falls back into the fog. John tenses, trying to anticipate his next move. He was rapidly running out of tricks here, and Faden was still hanging back in the fog, doing as John had told her and waiting for the right moment. Lost in thought, he doesn’t notice Kerry coming up behind him until the assassin puts a shot through his kneecap, then smashes the butt of his gun into his jaw before he can attempt to chant a spell. He hits the ground hard and Kerry trains his gun on his temple and coldly says, “No more tricks.”
John winces, feeling his jaw slowly put itself together, then replies, “Might have one more, mate.”
At that moment, Jesse floats from the fog and uses Lift, grabbing the Twin Blade and tossing it towards Kerry. His eyes widen and he quickly yells, “Time Alter, Double Accel!” As time slows around him, he pushes back with everything he has, the Twin Blade humming with power as it comes within centimeters of his face before embedding itself into the ground. He nearly ends the spell, but keeps it going just long enough to avoid Jesse’s follow-up attack, leaping back as the girl slams into the ground at full force. As Kerry seemingly vanishes, Jesse looks around, confused, then yells in shock as he reappears, gun trained on her. She lifts her hand to force him back, but he fires first, the Contender’s round destroying most of her hand and passing through her throat.
She hits the ground, choking on her own blood, and Kerry moves to finish her off, only to pause as her body begins to crack and glow. Jesse feels the spot on her shoulder where John touched her begin to burn, then squeezes her eyes shut before she explodes in a burst of hellfire, the flames completely overtaking Kerry and sending him flying.
Deafened and half-blind from the explosion, he pulls himself to his knees, trying to ignore the pain as Avalon pieces his body back together, then gasps as the Twin Blade stabs through his chest. Grabbing him by the shoulder and pulling him deeper onto the blade, John leans in, smiling grimly, and mutters, “It’s called a Death Curse, sets off when whatever poor git has it is on their way out. Felt like a bastard for putting it on her, but looks like it paid off, yeah?”
He pulls the blade from Kerry’s chest, causing him to explode in a burst of light, leaving only John standing. Sighing wearily, he snaps his fingers, replacing the Twin Blade with a pack of Silk Cuts, then puts one to his lips and lights it with a burst of hellfire. Hearing the fighting further ahead, he gives an apologetic look to the scorch marks where Jesse had once been, then headed towards it.
Zuko winces as he manages to redirect another bolt of lightning, pushing it harmlessly away into the fog, then leaps over a whip of water that lashes out from the fog, followed shortly by Liliana, who pursues him as he deftly rolls and dodges her attacks. When she lashes out again, he leaps to the side and brings his hand down, coating it in flame as he does so, and cleanly severs the whip down the middle in a burst of steam. He turns and shoots a fireball from his hands, but she manages to raise a shield of water to block it.
As she squints through the steam, Zuko draws his blades and charges forward, hoping to use her brief pause in attacking to close the distance, and Liliana raises Twinkle Fortune and shouts, “Call! Icicle Blitz!”
An onslaught of icicles erupts from the gun, forcing him to leap out of the way of the ones he can’t cut down. He steadies himself quickly, but she follows up with a cry of, “Call! Cannon Blitz!”, sending a watery cannon ball that smashes into his chest, knocking the wind out of him as he goes flying backwards. He hits the ground, pain shooting through his side from the force of the landing, and groans as he forces himself back to his feet and jumps up before another jet of water can hit him. Still airborne, he raises his hands and fires two jets of flames at the girl, combining them for extra force that easily dispels the jet of water she raises as a counter.
As he closes the distance on her, dropping the jet to redraw his blades, she fires another Icicle Blitz, only for him to create a shield and send it forward, melting the blades, and he dives through the flames, bringing his sword down in a strike she manages to sidestep, only to cry out as he lands a kick to her jaw. Wincing, Liliana creates another whip and charges at him, forcing him back as he blocks the strikes, and she catches him off-guard by aiming low, wrapping it around his legs, then spinning on her heel and tossing him into the air and following the toss up with, “Call! Thunder Blitz!”
Unable to position himself in mid-air, Zuko can only cry out in pain as several lightning bolts slam into him and he hits the ground, twitching and struggling to stand as Liliana steps closer and trains Twinkle Fortune on him. Before she can pull the trigger, a round tears through her hand and sends her weapon skittering away, and Zuko turns, smiling slightly as he sees the small outline of Five cocking his rifle.
He grits his teeth through the pain and lunges for the disarmed princess, who raises her hand and sends the fog rushing at him, but he manages to fire off a fireball and force her to drop it as she dodges. She dives for Twinkle Fortune, grabbing it and firing off another Thunder Blitz, but this time, Zuko’s ready, and he redirects the bolt of lighting directly into her chest. She gasps as the electricity courses through her and she hits the ground, and before she can recover, Zuko grabs her by the hair and smashes his knee into her face. As she cries out, nose broken, he brings his fist down and hits her hard across the jaw, knocking her out cold.
Once he’s certain she’s out, he lets her unconscious body fall, then gives a gracious nod in Five’s direction, the boy returning it before teleporting away.
“Sure you want to leave her alive?”
Zuko scowls and looks to see John step from the fog, Silk Cut between his fingers as he gestures towards Liliana.
“I’m not a killer, Constantine.”
Seemingly amused by this, John shrugs, taking a drag of the Silk Cut, then replies, “Suit yourself, mate.”
They both turn as they hear the sounds of a fight in the distance, and the two head towards it, Zuko running briskly while John strolls behind him.
Sypha leaves the din of combat behind, tracking the movement of the massive sword, deflecting the occasional gunshot with ice. Hearing the telltale clink of spent cartridges ahead, she claps her hands together, before pointing ahead and opening her fingers. A blast of fire sweeps out in a cone, fizzling out in the fog without hitting anything.
“Careful with that. Fire’s dangerous,” Iwafune says.
Sypha turns to see where his voice is coming from and ducks, narrowly dodging a pistol to the head. She freezes a spike on her fist and punches at Iwafune’s abdomen, but the man leaps back into the fog without missing a beat.
“If you’ve lost your way, you can always just go back home,” Iwafune says.
“Like hell I will,” Sypha says, freezing a portion of the fog to send a bullet to her left, “Not while you lot scheme in the shadows.”
“What, would you rather we schemed in the light?” Iwafune says, snapping off another shot, “Killjoy.”
“I’d rather you didn’t scheme at all,” Sypha says, deflecting it and directing a blast of fire towards Iwafune, “Maybe use your obvious talents for the good of the city?”
“Oh for the love of…” Iwafune growls, concentrating power in his gun, “I’d wondered what you’d throw at me, but this tripe?” As he finishes, he fires, the bullet splitting the fog as it passes.
“It is not tripe!” Sypha yells, creating a wedge of ice to split and redirect the bullet, “Working towards the greater good is the basics of a society. What heroes try to inspire. I will not let you belittle that!” she continues, sending a bolt of lightning through the bullet’s trail.
“And who decides this greater good?” Iwafune asks as the lightning fades, yards from reaching him, “Is it you, a mewling child drunk on the sweetwine of success?” He fires another shot, before reloading.
“At the very least, it’s not a group of tyrants led by a child,” she replies, encasing the bullet in an icicle and shooting it back.
“And are you willing to kill that child?” Iwafune asks, breaking the icicle on his Sanctum before firing again, “For your justice?” He growls, firing again and again to punctuate his words, “This precious delusion of yours? A peace, paved by blood and bone? Made of the corpses of those protecting it, declared evil simply because we opposed you?”
“No,” Sypha says, catching shot after shot in ice as she advances, “stifling the people with oppression is not protection.” She hears the telltale plink of a revolver’s cylinder opening, and crouches as she creates a slide of ice towards Iwafune’s position.
“You do not act with justice,” she says, coming to a stop before him with a ball of fire on her fingers, “If you ever have.”
She fires it upwards as a beam, nearly point-blank, when a black sphere opens in the space between them. When it vanishes, a ten-year-old girl in a blue, mouse-eared hoodie hovers, suspended by the force of the attack.
“Parcel!” Iwafune says, genuinely upset for once as he catches the girl, “Why did you…”
“Friends protect each other, no matter how illogical,” she says, touching her fist to his chest, “You’re more valuable, so don’t look like that,” she continues, as Iwafune grits his teeth, “Tell Ayaka I won’t make dinner tonight.”
She expires in his arms, and Iwafune meets Sypha’s eyes, glaring as she freezes in horror at what had happened.
“This is where your justice leads, Sypha. Another child dead in my arms. By your hand,” he growls, leveling his revolver at her head, “And this is how it ends,” he continues, pulling the trigger. Sypha, too shaken to resist, collapses, missing the back of her head.
He sets Parcel down, gently, and reaches under her goggles to close her eyes. He withdraws his hand, and feels another cold pair on the back of his head and his cheek.
“Ah, shit,” he says, and Thane snaps his neck.
The Drell lays him down, closing his eyes and closing Syphas as the fog fades.
“Too late again,” he says, “I’m sorry, Sypha.”
Carol reappears in a wide, blank room, across from “Beast.” She sighs and summoned Daur da Bla, deciding not to change into her adult form for now. She activates it, donning her purple battle gear.
“Look, Carol, surely you can see that…”
“You can drop the farce, Farouk.”
“Oui, mademoiselle,” Farouk sighs as he warps Beast’s form, taking his own instead. The tall, vaguely middle-eastern man strokes his moustache, before continuing, “My point still stands, Carol. Join me, and we can overthrow the Users together.”
“Even if I wanted to, it would be impossible,” Carol replies, cackling, “Besides, you barely measure up to me, despite getting lucky and taking Beast’s body. What makes you think you can match even one User, let alone a war against all of them?”
She lets loose an experimental blast of fire, seeing how Farouk would react. He raises his palm, splitting the stream around him, and then teleports away from the ice spikes Carol sends through the floor. He reaches up and catches the pillar of earth she tries to drop on his head, crumpling it into a pebble. He launches it telekinetically, and Carol catches the shard of rock in Daur da Bla’s strings, setting it harmlessly on the floor.
“You have been working under Leo,” Farouk says, unperturbed, “the other users, these indolent साले, have not even noticed I am now Beast. They are not the gods they style themselves as. We are.”
“The best you can do is imitate,” Carol says, smiling, “I’m not as versed in the mysteries of this place as Saturos, but even I can tell. A proper User has something… different about them. Something intrinsically tied to the city. Even with Beast’s body, you don’t have it.”
“Nonsense, mademoiselle,” Farouk replies, laughing, “They are no…”
“You can’t use User powers, can you?”
Farouk growls, forcibly teleporting Carol. She destroys the chunk of wall he tries to embed her in, and starts to sing. Farouk throws up a shield of force, pushing back against the wave of pure power that aimed to crush him as a byproduct. He glares at her as he cancels it out, putting all thoughts of recruiting her aside.
Carol launches another blast of fire, which Farouk again deflects with a gesture. He makes another one, and a series of blades made from compressed air shatter against an earthen shield. A gesture from Carol sends a cluster of strings towards Farouk, but the man makes finger guns, firing one to shatter the strings and the other to break the wall.
He flicks his hand dramatically, sending the shards point-first towards Carol. The diminutive alchemist dodges, sending a flurry of magic to attack her foe. With a wave of his hand, the magic turns into a harmless cloud of bubbles, and he steps through it, the ground seemingly shaking with each step of his feet, clicking his tongue.
“So much potential wasted in the service of others. Very well then. If it is a fight we must have, then let it be a spectacular one.”
Storm clouds form above him as he rises into the air, a sadistic grin across his face, and Carol rises to meet him, only to grimace and freeze as pain shoots through her temples. She had anticipated him attempting to manipulate her mind, but even that preparedness only gave her a small edge. His laugh echoes through her mind, accompanied by a playful, “Come, fille stupide, با چیزی روبرو شوید که نباید باشد.”
She grits her teeth, powering through the telepathic assault, only for Farouk to telepathically swat her aside. Carol recovers quickly, creating a gust of wind beneath her feet and launching herself back at her opponent, unleashing a torrent of rocks as she launches herself up. Just as the assault of stone reaches him, Farouk reduces it to sand with a raise of his eyebrow, then catches some of the sand and blows it forward, the grains turning into a shower of swords that Carol blasts aside. He teleports away, avoiding a swipe from a string just as she closes the distance.
Appearing a safe distance away, he whistles to get her attention and waves playfully, causing her to scowl and fire another blast of magic. Avoiding each of her attacks, Farouk weighed his options. He’d hoped to simply shut her down, but her mental defenses were surprisingly impressive. As he teleported to dodge a jet of flame, he placed a hand on his breast pocket, feeling the Hiss relic still waiting patiently for its chance to play. Lifting his hand to create a stone hand that firmly held Carol in place, he decided against it for now. For the time being, he’d focus on chipping away at her strength.
Carol roars in defiance as she bursts free from the fist and unleashes a torrent of wind, and Farouk skids on his heels as he tries to stand against the attack. Looking down on him, she calls out with a boastful, “You call yourself a god? I’ve faced gods, and you’re nothing!”
Farouk answers her call, rising quickly into the air and letting an energy shield form around him as she charges towards him in turn. They collide in a blinding flash of color and sound, sending them both flying to opposite directions of their arena. Winded, Farouk places a hand to his lip and chuckles as he feels blood.
“As I said before, Farouk, we’re pretty evenly matched,” Carol says as the pair stagger to their feet, “Let’s see how much farther we can go. Gatrandis babel ziggurat edenal. Emustolronzen Finé el balal zizzl. Gatrandis babel ziggurat edenal. Emustolronzen Finé el zizzl.”
Farouk grimaces, feeling a change in Carol’s song. It had grown rawer, straining against itself to draw out as much power as it could. He gathers himself again, knowing the next few exchanges would likely decide the match.
A spiral of wires pierces his shirt just before he teleports away, sending another mental attack at Carol. To his surprise, it not only had no effect, but was seemingly stopped by a golden flash. Carol points, and a beam of gold light shoots forth. Farouk gives it a contemptuous flick, but it doesn’t unravel the way the thought it would.
It hits his arm, turning it into gold. He transmutes it back, and a split second later is engulfed in a white light. It fades, and he steps out feeling no ill effects. Carol nods, seemingly confirming something, and fires off a blast of fire and wind.
“I’d thought maybe an actual god was controlling you, but it seems not,” she says.
“Fraulein, I have told you. Aquí només hi ha un déu,” Farouk replies, pointing at himself.
“Nonsense. That was an Alkahest tuned to kill gods, and gods alone. The only thing that can step out of that light is a simple man.”
Farouk growls, and a pair of golden beams hit him in the eyes. He teleports as he transmutes them back into working organs, and finds the right half of his body encased in the same white light. Carol clicks her tongue, glaring as usual.
“Half a step more…” she curses, and Farouk realizes he can only use part of his powers. He quickly diagnoses the situation, and re-mutates the DNA in every single cell in his body. He grits his teeth and renews his assault, fingering the Hiss relic once again. It was a little earlier than he’d’ve liked, but the little girl was proving to be an irritant and he had places to be. As Carol prepares another attack, he reaches into his coat and pulls the relic out, giving the girl an arrogant grin as he snaps it in two.
In an instant, a swarm of red mist envelops Farouk, who points at Carol, sending it rushing forward. Before she can fall back, the mist overtakes her and she cries out as she feels it tear through her mind. Farouk’s attacks had been precise, focused, like a scalpel, but this? It was like a tidal wave surging forward. As Farouk’s cold laughter echoes through her head, she finds herself in a dark red void, the Hiss adding to the echoing with a cacophony of noise. She squeezes her eyes shut, hoping to drown out the noise all around her…
...and opens them to find herself sitting in bed, the only sound being the river and the birds chirping outside. She sits up, confused, trying in vain to remember the strange dream she’d had, when a familiar voice caught her attention with a playful, “Good morning, sleepyhead. I was worried you’d miss my trip to the village.”
Carol turns, eyes widening as her father enters the room, and she rushes from her bed and into his arms, earning a surprised laugh from him.
“Is something the matter, Carol?”
She pulls away, shaking her head as she tried to explain the bad feeling she’d woken up with, and said, “No, papa, it’s...nothing.”
He shrugged, then replied, “Alright. Let’s eat then, so we can set out. We’ve got a bit of a walk ahead of us.”
After breakfast, the two set out, Izak’s bag by his side while Carol’s trusty hat rested on her head, the girl humming a tune to herself as they walked through the woods. Her humming stops as a ringing sounds out from the distance, and she comes to a stop, squinting as she sees a light in the distance. With each ring, a vision flashes through her mind, of events that feel deeply familiar, of people she feels she knows, and worst of all, a yellow-eyed demon glaring at her. As the ringing sounds out one more time, the memories all come rushing back, and she sighs, feeling a pit form in her gut, while her father came to a stop and looked to her, confused.
“Are you coming, Carol?”
Fighting back tears, she shakes her head and sadly replies, “I...I have to go, papa. I’m needed elsewhere.”
As though he could hear the ringing as well, Izak nodded grimly.
“I see. Well, in that case, I suppose you must-”
She cuts him off with a final hug and a whispered, “I love you, papa,”
He simply replies, “And I love you, Carol.”
Forcing herself away, she runs towards the light, not looking back for fearing of not being able to leave, then passes through it, vanishing and finding herself back in the red void. Fists balled with rage, she ignores the screeching around her, pausing as she contemplates the trap around her. Farouk’s new weapon was tricky, but he’d made a vital mistake: he’d tried to use her own memories against her. Whatever this mist was, it had nearly trapped her, but she could feel that it’s power was auditory, so all she needed was to cancel out the sound. She smirked. That would be easy enough.
Farouk paces anxiously, watching as the Hiss cloud continued to hold Carol in place. His experiments had shown total subjugation within seconds, but she was taking much longer. It was unnerving, as much as someone like him could be unnerved. Just as he turns to leave, he winces as the Hiss’s distinct shriek is seemingly reversed and he turns on it’s heel as the cloud glows a bright yellow, then bursts open, sending him stumbling back.
He curses internally as a fully grown Carol, eyes fiery with anger, steps away from the last vestiges of the Hiss, who give out a final dying whisper before fading away. She summons Daur da Bla and grins as Farouk steels himself.
“I’ve had enough of this dance, Farouk. Allow me to end it.”
Faster than he could react, Farouk found himself hit Daur da Bla’s strings, bundled into a blunt appendage rather than a slicing net. Another one hits him in the back, spinning him around before he teleports away, only to be hit in the gut as he reappears.
“Fight back, Farouk,” Carol snarls, striking him yet again, “Fight back!”
He sends another mental assault, hoping to at least break her concentration. Carol counters it, somehow managing to intercept the psychic attack with a golden beam as she continues attacking.
Seemingly tired of the pummeling, the strings open and coil around Farouk, digging into his skin while strangling him. She fires another golden beam, striking his body. As the chrysopoeia progresses, he musters the strength to send his essence into the Astral Plane before his body entirely turns to gold.
He appears, hale and whole but gasping, inside the Astral Plane. He catches his breath and fixes his suit before striding forward, confident he could find a way to turn the tables. He was a god among men, simply trying to take his rightful place.
He walks into a wall, made of orange-hued magic. He slams his fist into it, finding it unyielding, and finally notices the goteed man sitting on a rock nearby.
“Do you really think this will hold me long?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, it was built to trap you as you fled.”
“You knew I’d be coming here? Nonsense.”
“Farouk, you may be a god amongst men. But there are gods among gods here in DFederal, and even the mightiest of those is paper before the weakest User. And you went and confronted Leo, of all of them. The one who has been here the longest, and knows more of its secrets than anyone. How could you possibly win? Think, Farouk!” Strange says, before turning away, “At the very least, you’ll have a long time to do just that.”
Farouk chuckles at the last part.
“I am nothing if not patient, Strange. You and I know that you’re but an amateur of the Astral Plane, so in time, I will devise my escape.”
Strange stops, turning back to look at Farouk, and shrugs.
“Well, yes, but, since I got help from an old friend of yours, actually no. By the way, a young man by the name of David told me to say hi and to tell you to, and I quote, ‘eat shit and die’. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you to Leo’s mercy.”
On that final note, Strange creates a portal and steps through it, leaving Farouk all by himself. In spite of everything, he cracks a smile. So, in the end, dear David had finally beaten him. How poetic.
Oops, All Kaiju
The sound of fighting, much smaller and more focused than it had been at the start, continues to echo as Zuko and John cautiously walk through the fog, trying to reconnect with whatever allies that were still standing. Elijah’s orders, to focus on finding Kadingir over the others, were clear, but both men knew the strength of numbers in situations like this. They both jump, startled, as Five appears directly in front of them, holding a grievously injured Elijah. Zuko crouches to his leader’s side and checks for a pulse as John surveys his injuries from a distance, unnerved.
“Christ, the fuck happened to him?”
Five looks up and matter-of-factly explains, “Saturos happened.”
Stirring slightly, Elijah chuckles, coughing blood and groaning as pain shot through his body, and mumbles, “Managed to shut the arrogant bastard up, so, not a...total loss.”
Wincing as he looks over the severe burns over Elijah’s body, his eye stinging, Zuko looks at Five and asks, “Will he make it?” and the boy threw his hands up, at a loss.
“Do I look like a doctor? Besides, it’s not exactly like we have a healer lying around.”
At this, they both pause and glance to Constantine, who was idly scanning the battlefield. Feeling eyes on him, he sighs, tossing his Silk Cut into the fog, and digs through his coat, pulling out a small vial filled with a dark liquid. He gestures for them both to move, then crouches down and jiggles the vial in front of Elijah’s face. There’s a hesitant pause, then Elijah nods and opens his mouth for him to pour it in. John tosses the empty vial aside and takes a step back as Elijah retches and coughs, writhing on the ground as his wounds close and heal in sickening detail.
Watching the show unfold, Five wrinkles his nose and asks, tone dripping with disgust, “What the hell is that?”
John calmly watches as Elijah finally goes still, seemingly fully recovered, and explains, “Long story short, it’s my blood. Well, technically, it’s the blood of a particularly vile bastard named Nergal, but he was kind enough to share it with me. Nasty as all get out, but it’s got some perks. Sypha and I found a way to filter out the demon-y shit and make a healing serum, trouble is it’s hard to make, so don’t ask for any shots of your own, square?”
Elijah shakily stands up and wipes spit from his mouth, glaring at John and adding, “And it tastes like shit.”
To this, he simply shrugs and smirks.
“What were you expecting, rum and coke?”
Before Elijah could reply with his own snark, a gunshot rings out, followed a few more moments later by a distinct snap, and in an instant, the fog dispels, the combined group feeling like they could finally breathe again. They looked around the battlefield, taking note of the numerous bodies scattered around it, and Zuko’s heart sank as he saw the signature blue of Sypha’s robes lying prone, flanked by two other corpses and a somber, praying Thane. The rest of the group was more focused in the other direction, where Saturos and Menardi, not yet fully recovered, locked eyes with them and groaned.
The blue-skinned Proxian glares and grumbles, “I was hoping to take a few more minutes to recover, but since when have I gotten what I wanted?”
Taking point, Elijah looks over his shoulder at John and Five and asks, “How many are left in the backline?”
Unslinging his sniper rifle and checking his remaining ammo, Five coldly and simply answers, “None. Thane and I took care of the snipers, John eliminated the mage killer, and I’m fairly confident that’s the teleporter by Thane.”
Elijah takes the information into account and nods, then orders, “Alright, then, that means it’s just these two, and without their weapons. Hit them hard and fast before they can use any tricks. I want this over quickly, so we can destroy Kadingir and get out before any back-up arrives.”
“But the others-”
“-can be revived. Focus on the mission. They wouldn’t want you getting killed for this any more than you want them dead.”
Thane snaps off a shot, aiming at Saturos’ head. A split second later, however, the flake of metal halts in midair, captured in a net of harp strings. Carol simply appears, sighing in irritation.
“Really? It’s only you two left?” she asks, looking aside at Saturos and Menardi.
“I suggest we have group combat exercises in the future. We’re… not the best coordinated in an open fight,” Menardi replies.
“That may be a good idea,” Carol says, “Let’s wipe these shits out first. I’ve taken care of their would-be puppetmaster.”
“What, ya think one more will make a difference?” Constantine scoffs, “It’s still three on five, and with your little dry ice machine gone our magic’s back to full power.”
“So is ours,” Saturos says, clasping Menardi’s remaining hand.
“And I think it’s time for drastic measures,” she continues, squeezing it back before their Psynergy starts to overflow.
“As do I,” Carol says, smirk lost in the bright glow of alchemy.
Zuko sends out a blast of fire, intending to interrupt whatever it was they were doing, but it was too late. It fizzles ineffectively on the armor of the Alchemic Beast, while it simply annoyed the Fusion Dragon.
“You know, Elijah,” he says, flourishing his blades, “I kind of liked this idea better when we didn’t have a dragon and a giant magic tiger to fight.”
In response to the attack, one of the dragon’s heads lets loose a cloud of gas that Elijah quickly drains the heat from, dispelling it as it surrounds the rest of the team. As Planetary responds with a hail of ice shards, bullets, and fire, the second head roars defiantly and fires a jet of flame from it’s mouth, only for the flames to stop in mid-air and change direction, heading directly for the Alchemic Beast. Guiding the flame firmly with one hand, Zuko takes a deep breath and brings the other forward, creating a second burst of fire and boosting the jet as it collides with the Alchemic Beast, the attack briefly giving it pause before it charges forward and brings it’s paw down, with John quickly raising a shield ward to block it, grimacing as the force of the strike brings him to his knees.
Five anxiously reloads his pistol, fully aware of the futility of shooting either creature, and looks to Elijah, who creates a thick layer of ice over one of the dragon’s mouths as it attempts to breathe more fire. The older man glances over his shoulder and orders, “Take Thane and find Kadingir. We’ll handle this.”
“Are you insane? These things-”
“-are immune to anything you two can throw at them, so you’re just making yourselves cannon fodder. We’ll buy you some time. Now, go, while we still have time to discuss this.”
Five nods, hesitantly, and grabs Thane, vanishing in a flash. Watching the two assassins leave, John grumbles, “Perfect. I was thinking this damned fight was too easy, so why not get two of us to bugger off,” and Zuko ignores him as he leaps atop the dragon’s first head, slashing it with his swords while the creature struggles to force its mouth open, before turning and tossing a fireball at the second head as it fires another stream of gas, the flame igniting the cloud and creating an explosion that sends him flying. Elijah quickly creates a pillar of ice for him to land safely on, and Zuko slides down and stands side by side with him as the dragon shakes off the flames covering it.
The Alchemic Beast pushes away from John’s ward, and he quickly drops it in favor of drawing the Twin Blade and charging forward, hoping to land a blow, only for it to unleash a blast of magic that explodes next to him, knocking him to the ground and sending the Blade skittering out of reach. He ignores the ringing in his ears as he staggers to his feet and manages to teleport to avoid the green paw that comes crashing down, shaking the ground. He materializes next to Elijah, who is too focused on creating a wall of ice to block a swarm of purple spirits unleashed by the dragon to give him much acknowledgement, while Zuko uses the distraction to close the distance and slash at its legs.
“Don’t suppose you’ve got any more tricks up your sleeves right now, John.”
John frowns, waving his hands and mumbling Latin to create a dozen illusions of himself around the Alchemic Beast, who casually swipes them aside and roars, then replies, “As a matter of fact, I do, but he ain’t gonna be pleased.”
“You’ll see, assuming you can keep these two busy for a moment.”
Elijah somehow manages to chuckle at that as he creates a rain of ice shards at the Alchemic Beast, the icy projectiles shattering against it’s armor, and quips, “Well, we can certainly try.”
Giving a determined nod, John falls back a safe distance and draws another vial, this one green, from his coat, then tosses it to the ground. The vial shatters, releasing a small green substance that wriggles and digs into the ground, then goes still for a moment, and a scowling John mumbles, “Don’t you fuck me now, you big green tosser,” as he hears the sounds of fighting getting closer. After a few seconds, the ground cracks open, and a mossy green fist rises from the crack, followed by the rest of the body, and the monstrous form of Swamp Thing pulls itself up, glaring down at John before surveying his new surroundings.
“Why...have you summoned me...Constantine?”
John points towards the Alchemic Beast and the Fusion Dragon as they continue their assault on Elijah and Zuko, and the creature’s eyes narrowed in resentment as it realized it’s purpose.
“You wish me...to fight? To use the power of the Green to wage your war?”
Tapping a finger to his nose, John nods and quips, “Got it in one, Swampy. Help us win this, and I swear you and I are clear.”
Swamp Thing lets out a deep, earthy sigh, then replies, “You will not ask my aid again, Constantine.” before rushing towards the fight, growing larger with each step.
Zuko rolls to avoid another burst of fire, then leaps forward, swords raised high, only for the dragon to follow up with Severe Blow, it’s claws raking at his sides and sending him crashing to the ground. Pain rings out in every corner of his body as he groans, too weak to stand, and one of the dragon’s heads opens its mouth, preparing to finish him off, but is stopped by a vine wrapping itself around it, forcing it’s jaw shut. Fully grown to match the size of his new foes, Swamp Thing lets out a defiant battle cry, then pulls the dragon face first into a sharp punch before grabbing it by one of it’s necks and tossing it at the Alchemic Beast.
As the two beasts collide, the Dragon hitting the ground with enough force to crack it and shake the entire room, Elijah stares incredulously at the new arrival, who pays him no mind as he shrugs off a blast from the Alchemic Beast, easily regrowing the chunk of his shoulder lost from the attack, then fires a barrage of thorns from his chest in response. A pained groan from Zuko draws him away from the clash, and he rushes to the boy’s side and puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“Can you stand?”
In response, Zuko shakily climbs to his feet and gives Elijah a confident nod, to which the white-haired man smiles in return, and they both turn to John as he reappears, a smug grin on his face.
“Told you lot he was worth the wait.”
In the back of the room, away from the chaos of the fight, Five and Thane appear near the large black rectangle, far enough away to check for traps. A quick glance shows nothing obvious, simply scattered pools of blood, still fresh from the ongoing fight, and the unconscious figure of the blonde girl Zuko had fought. The two shiver in the cold and glance at each other, before Thane gestures.
“Oh, sure, just ‘cause I can teleport away means I get to be the minesweeper,” Five says, shrugging exaggeratedly.
“Try to be more timely than I,” the Drell says dryly.
Five nods, and steps forward. A mere three steps in, a portion of the blood crystalizes, pinning his feet down with two sword-shaped crystals, while a third flipped towards his head. He activates his power just before it hits.
In the back of the room, away from the chaos of the fight, Five and Thane appear near the large black rectangle, far enough away to check for traps. A quick glance shows nothing obvious, simply scattered pools of blood, still fresh from the ongoing fight, and the unconscious figure of the blonde girl Zuko had fought. Thane shivers in the cold, and two glance at each other before he gestures.
“Oh, sure, just ‘cause I can teleport away means I get to be the minesweeper,” Five says, giving a wan smile.
“Try to be more timely than I,” the Drell says dryly.
Five nods, focusing himself, and steps forward twice, stopping just before the pool of blood. He teleports across, staying still for a second on the other side. He sighs in relief, taking another step forward.
“Five! Behind you!” Thane shouts, and Five barely has time to turn before his hand is run through with a sword of crystalized blood, pinned to his thigh. As another pair swoops in on him, he activates his power.
In the back of the room, away from the chaos of the fight, Five and Thane appear near the large black rectangle, far enough away to check for traps. A quick glance shows nothing obvious, simply scattered pools of blood, still fresh from the ongoing fight, and the unconscious figure of the blonde girl Zuko had fought. Thane shivers in the cold, and two glance at each other. Five nods and steps forward.
He glares at the pools of blood, still unable to figure out exactly what the trap was. He teleports past the first two pools, taking a split second to reorient himself before picking a new target and teleporting in a random pattern. He stops, between Liliana’s body and Kadingir.
Just as he catches his breath, a sword of crystalized blood pierces his heart from behind. A second takes him in the back of the head, killing him before he could react. Five collapses as Thane snaps his rifle up, sweeping it around until another pair of swords pierce his hands and impale themselves into the ground, sending the Drell crashing to the floor as well.
Confident he was down for the count, Liliana struggles to her feet, directing the two Blood Claymores impaling Five to extract themselves, as three more position themselves to impale Thane’s head, throat, and heart.
“Once you’re revived, tell Zuko to do his Practical Combat homework,” she says, “If you go for a knockout, bind or cripple them after.” As she finishes, the Blood Claymores shoot forward, killing Thane instantly.
Pausing a second to confirm her kills, Lun Lun limps towards the monster melee, gritting her teeth against the pain.
Surprised by the new foe and his strange abilities, the Alchemic Beast swipes at him with its paw, connecting and tearing into his body, then snarls in surprise as Swamp Thing reforms his body around the paw, trapping the Beast in place and leaving it open to repeated elbows to the jaw. The Fusion Dragon roars and breathes a cloud of gas, then quickly follows up with a stream of flame, causing another explosion, but Swamp Thing, anticipating the attack, encases himself in wet bark, then sheds the flaming armor. As soon as the flaming wood pile settles on the ground, a vine with a fist at the top erupts from it, hitting the dragon with a sharp uppercut.
The remainder of Planetary watches the clash of titans, impressed, before Elijah breaks the silence, refocusing on the task at hand.
“John, your green friend...can he win?”
As Swamp Thing bellows when the dragon sinks both sets of teeth into his shoulder, managing to pull him away from the Alchemic Beast, John shakes his head.
“Against one of ‘em, he could, but these two will get one over on him eventually. We need to take one down so he can focus on fucking up the other.”
He points to the Alchemic Beast, which unleashes a magic blast that nearly cleaves Swamp Thing in two, and says, “Reckon we take down that one. If I can get the Twin Blade into it, it’s done for. Trouble is,” He pauses, coughing and scratching his head sheepishly. “I lost the Twin Blade.”
As viney tendrils form on Swamp Thing’s back and yank the dragon off his shoulders, the plant elemental reforms himself, reinforcing his midriff with a quebrancho armor, then coats his fist in the same wood before smashing it into the Beast’s jaw, and Zuko strains himself to be heard over the thunderous crash.
“Can’t you just make it appear?”
“I would if I knew where it was, but I lost it in the chaos of this little scuffle.”
Elijah sighs and strides towards the fight, calmly gesturing for them to follow him, then replies, “Well, looks like we’ll need to find it, then.” Zuko draws his remaining sword and follows him, and after hesitating a moment, John goes as well. Before the trio can head further towards the fight, Zuko feels an unnatural chill and hears the crack of a whip. He leaps forward, shoving John out of the way just in time to block a water whip from Liliana.
The princess approaches the three men and twirls Twinkle Fortune confidently, the squirt gun now glowing a sinister red, and followed by seven swords made of crystallized blood. John glares at Zuko and mumbles, “How’s the whole “not a killer” business going, boy scout?”
Zuko ignores him and lunges for Liliana, throwing a fireball that collides in mid-air with a Cannon Blitz, dissolving both in a burst of steam. She manages to dodge his strike and lash out again with a whip, but he coats his sword in flame and slices it into several pieces as he pushes forward, trying to cut her down quickly. Before either Elijah or John can reach them, she activates the Guarden, causing her and Zuko to vanish in a flash.
Elijah curses as he comes to a stop right where the two had been just a moment ago, and John chuckles nervously and says, “And then there two. How the hell did Five and Thane let her get by?”
“Judging by the blood on her dress, they didn’t let her.”
John nods, somberly absorbing the information, then keeps walking towards the fight.
“Right, let’s keep moving then.”
Zuko sends a gout of fire to his left, incinerating a shot of water while he flourishes and spins his sword on the right to deflect the Blood Claymores that swooped down. He ducks under a lash of Liliana’s whip, and stumbles out of the way of a claymore. The break in his rhythm causes his fire to fizzle, giving his foe room to finish her spell.
“I command the heavens! Strike the earth! Heed my call! I am she who rules the seas! Minor summons of the seven seas!” she says, calling forth a downpour.
“What, you needed a shower?” Zuko taunts, and Liliana sighs.
“Oh, right, because I haven’t heard that one before,” she mutters, “Call! Infinity Chain!”
The rain shifts, turning into a set of countless, viscous gel-like chains. Liliana leaps, perching on one and snaps, sending them at Zuko. He evaporates one as it closes in, and his sword bounces off another, ripping the blade from his hands. It flips through the air as he twists and turns, ducking and dodging the chains his fire missed.
“Come on, Lun Lun,” he says as she plucks the sword out of the air, the steel frosting over, “Stop this, please. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“That’s at school,” she says, winding a chain around the sword, casually snapping it, “Here and now? You’re threatening the entire city. And your friends are killing mine.”
“I know-” Zuko starts, cutting off as a chain slips through his guard and smashes into his stomach, halting his motion. He vomits, gastric juices burning his mouth as the rest of the chains wrap around him.
“Lun Lun, you’re not a killer,” he groans as the chains tighten around him, “Would Liliana Guenther, Princess of the Storm, who fought pirates, monsters, and defended the law really be all right with this?”
“That’s not the only Lun Lun, Zuko,” she says, “There’s also Lun Lun the spymaster. The Lun Lun who knows that protecting people isn’t all smiles, friendship, and sparkles. It’s never fun, but sometimes people have to die,” she finishes, impaling him through the base of the skull with a Blood Claymore. The least she could do was make it painless and quick.
The Fusion Dragon circles Swamp Thing, swooping down for the occasional slash or fire breath attack, as he continues to brawl with the Alchemic Beast, entangling it with a mass of vines as he batters it with his fists. As it prepares another attack, the dragon stops, seeing two small figures running across the battlefield out of the corner of one of its eyes. Hoping to cut them off, it swoops down and unleashes an onslaught of flame, Elijah just barely creating an ice shield above his head in time to block it.
The flames surround them, still stinging their eyes even as Elijah drains the heat from them, keeping them in place as the dragon lands with an ominous boom. Even in their new form, they can see the rage behind Saturos and Menardi’s eyes before they unleash Evil Blessing, setting loose a wave of spirits. This time, John steps up, eyes rolling and hands waving he quickly chants a spell and banishes the attack with a wave of his hand, only to get swatted aside as the dragon follows up with Severe Blow.
With the sorcerer out of the way, the dragon attacks with fire again, Elijah digging his heels into the ground as the force of it slams against a newly created ice wall. Sweat trickles down his brow as the wall melts as fast as he can form it, and he barely has the energy to glance in the direction of John, who weakly crawls behind him, shakily pulling out his last silk cut as he feels his shattered bones piece themselves back.
“Is now really the, hrm, time for a goddamned smoke?”
John laughs, regretting it instantly as a rib pokes his lung, then replies, “May as well.”
The flame finally relents, and both of the dragon’s heads sneer sadistically as it lunges forward and destroys the ice wall with a single strike, knocking both men back. It grins triumphantly, then slashes again, only for it’s claw to pass cleanly through them and causing them both to vanish in a puff of smoke, it’s wispy trail leading to a barely smoked cigarette. One of the heads tilts quizzically as the other’s eyes widen in realization, and it turns just in time to see John and Elijah reach the Twin Blade, with John giving the monster the finger as they teleport away.
Ignoring the fight beneath it, the Alchemic Beast staggers back from another punch, then unleashes dozens of harp strings, slicing off Swamp Thing’s arm and dicing it to pieces as it falls. He quickly regrows it, but the momentary pause is all the Beast needs to fire a focused beam of pure magic straight at his torso, cutting him in half. As he attempts to heal, the Beast rams into him, sending his two halves in different directions, then quickly turns and destroys his legs with fire before pivoting back to face the torso. Pinned to the ground by it’s foot, Swamp Thing simply glares as it charges up another shot, but his defiance turns to confusion as it lets out a piercing cry.
John and Elijah, hands locked onto the hilt, grunt as they drive the Twin Blade deeper into the Beast’s back leg. Inside the Beast, Carol cries out, feeling the piercing agony in her own legs. No blade should be able to bring her down, especially not in this form. Cracks form in the skin of the Beast, each shimmering with lights, and it lets out a final screech as it explodes, with John hastily creating a protection ward as Elijah drains the heat from the blast while Swamp Thing simply retreats into the ground and the Fusion Dragon soars as high as it can into the air.
In an instant, the blast dissipates, leaving an exhausted Elijah and John standing alone in the rubble. Coughing as he waves away the smoke forward, John asks, hesitantly, “Fucking hell, was that it? Are we done?”
Elijah nods, equally hesitantly, and John smiles wearily and declares, “Well, that’s the last time I help you lot with-”
His gloating is cut short as a harp string decapitates him, and Elijah yells in shock as Carol steps over the body and fires a blast of magic clean through his chest. He falls, blood trickling from his mouth, and Carol calmly strides towards him, moving her head to dodge an ice shard, and asks, unamused, “Did you really think a master of alchemy wouldn’t know how to put herself back together?”
Elijah simply glares at her as she stands in front of him, hands on her hips.
“If I were someone who cared about that sort of thing, I’d say you fought admirably, but since all you’ve really done is manage to piss me off, I won’t bother.”
Holding the gaping wound in his chest, Elijah manages to spit out, “So, that’s it? Leo...wins?”
She nods and replies, “Yes. If it’s any consolation, he might not block your revival, since you utterly failed to destroy Kadingir.”
In too much pain to form words, he spitefully spits blood at her feet, then slumps forward, dead. Leaving his body, Carol turns back to see Swamp Thing erupt from the ground, and she massages her temples before flying off to aid the Fusion Dragon in ending this fight before it dragged on any further.
The Fusion Dragon swoops under a viney fist, rolling in the air to rend it with its claws. A net of wires wrap around the wound, trapping the thorns that threatened to impale the dragon’s belly. A breath of fire ignites the inside, before the plant monster seals it inside with no oxygen. The dragon catches another fist with its forelimbs, pinning it down and using Evil Blessing.
Swamp Thing roars as the ghosts swarm him, one staying behind and circling over its head. He flinches as the spirit sends a sensation of pure pain through its body, amplified as the temperature plummets with Liliana’s return to the room.
The Fusion Dragon follows up with a blast of fire, causing the wood to crack and splinter. Swamp Thing winces in annoyance as he feels a few pinpricks of the Blood Claymores embedding in its flesh, and reels at another spasm of pain. Carol wraps the monster in her wires as Lun Lun grabs the Bloodmerald from inside her squirt gun and tossing it into the air.
“Bloodmerald Break!” she yells, and the red gem shatters before she continues, “King of the seven seas, Absolute Zero!”
The temperature of the room drops further as she throws her palms forward, a massive beam of cold stretching between her and Swamp Thing. The monster roars as his temperature plummets rapidly, freezing solid in a matter of seconds. One final Severe Blow from the Fusion Dragon shatters it, finally ending the fight.
Saturos and Menardi undo the fusion and collapse on the ground, gasping as the four survivors of the battle recover their strength.
Looking away from the paperwork on her desk, Ramona checks her watch, confused that Beast had yet to give her some form of update as to why he’d been absent for the last couple hours. It was very unlike him not to communicate, but he’d also been somewhat eccentric as of late, so maybe this was just the new norm. She attempts to return to her work, but pauses as the lights in the office begin to flicker. She sighs, annoyed to see the Lower Class infrastructure rearing its head yet again, and then yelps as the lightbulbs outright burst, shrouding the room in the darkness.
As if in response to this, the small gold orb, which she’d taken to keeping as a decoration, rolls off her desk, hitting the floor with an echoing crack. She squints through the darkness, baffled as a thin crack, bursting with light, forms on the orb, followed by another, then another, before it bursts open in a flash of light. A spotlight, seemingly shining from nowhere, shines through the darkness, followed by a hand poking out of it, then an arm, and finally, to Ramona’s shock, Beast, only with much longer hair and rattier clothes than she remembers.
The lights return and Beast, seemingly not noticing his assistant watching him, touches his face, then yells in triumph, raising his fists to the heavens.
“Ha! Fuck you, Farouk! I did it! It fucking worked!”
His celebration stops as he sees Ramona, and he weakly smiles at her before saying, “Hey, Ramona, would you be so kind as to grab me a glass of water? I’m feeling a bit…”
He’s cut off as he collapses to the floor, exhausted but beaming from ear to ear. After so long away, he was home.
Elijah looks up from his meal at a knock on his hospital door. A unusual thing, considering he was in the high security flight risk ward, and the only things he’s seen are the doctor, nurses, and the foul-tasting prison slop that passed for food. A second later, the door opens and he stiffens, seeing Leo in the doorway.
“Congratulations, Elijah,” Leo says, voice far more even than expected, “Your little display was… impressive. Here, a reward,” he says, tossing a sheet of paper on the table.
Elijah picks it up, reading it. A list of access requirements for the DFPD to request access to the Kadingir System.
“You’re saying Pete has to okay all Kadingir requests from the DFPD?”
“Correct. Meaning he can bring abuses of power to your attention”
“And what of the Users? Or the DFSB?”
“Well, Users could do this anyway, at least those few who knew how, so it’s insensible to restrict access there. As for the DFSB, well… we kind of make and operate the system, so we have full access.”
“Come on, Leo, this is ridiculous,” Elijah says, “If you really underst…”
Elijah cuts off as his mouth is covered in his skin. His eyes widen, jaw unable to open in shock as Leo stares at him, the vague geometric shapes on his mask where eyes should be boring into his actual, flesh-and-blood pair.
“Look, Elijah,” Leo says, causing the man he addressed to flinch. Each word was accompanied by a physical pain in his brain, embedding themselves into his mind. “This isn’t a negotiation. This isn’t a concession. Despite what I said, it isn’t even a reward. I was simply reframing something I was going to do anyway to make you think you got something out of this little venture, to keep you quiet and out of my business.”
Leo sighs and picks up the green apple, the sole pleasure in the meal. Leo teleports bites of it into his mouth, taking a moment to pick it down to the core before continuing.
“Since it seems you’re not intelligent enough to understand that, let’s go with this. Planetary will be allowed to continue operating, on indefinite probation. If I, or someone in the DFSB, tells you - a plural you here, mind - to back off of anything, you back. The. Fuck. Off. Any single person fails to do so, and every single one of you will have your body peeled off down to the bone, publicly and without being allowed to die or even fall comatose until it’s finished. You would then be recreated, practically a zombie for all the thought you would be capable of. Now I’m going to let you speak again. If you do anything other than say ‘I understand, Leo. I agree to abide by these terms,’ and fully mean it, well… I just told you what would happen.”
Elijah, mouth returned and stabbing in his brain reduced, takes a few seconds to gasp for breath. He briefly considers simply spitting in the tyrant’s face, but knew that would get him nowhere. Calm voice aside, the User was clearly ticked off, and he’d need to understand them much better if he were to stand a chance.
“I understand, Leo. I agree to abide by these terms.”
“Good,” Leo says, teleporting the paper to his hand and walking to the door, “And no matter what you learn, Elijah, a puppet doesn’t ‘stand a chance’ against the one pulling its strings.”
Farouk hears a rapping at one wall of his prison, and looks up from the book he created. Seeing his visitor, he puts on a smile and rises from his silk-covered beanback chair, lifting the saucered cup of fine Egyptian coffee - also made using his abilities. A brief saunter brings him to the edge, where Leo leans against a rock, the User’s arm resting on a small shelf.
“Leo. Here to gloat?” Farouk asks, arching an eyebrow as he takes a slow deliberate sip of his coffee, “I’d offer you a drink, but, well…” he continues, gesturing at the orange wall.
“Oh, no, I’m here to hand down my sentence,” Leo says, conjuring a cup of his own, “And I much prefer tea at this hour.”
The user places the cup down on the shelf, circling the rim with his finger as he teleports a sip into his mouth.
“Well, mon ennemi, I hope the enjoyment our games gave you will render you more merciful. Even if our purposes collided, it was an interesting pastime.”
“They didn’t, actually. I’d’ve left you alone had you not attacked me.”
“Ah, well, that piece of insight would be better served some time back.”
“Indeed. You don’t seem overly inconvenienced.”
“If I must spend an eternity, shouldn’t it at least be comfortable?” Farouk asks, eliciting a chuckle from Leo.
“Perhaps. But that’s not much of a punishment, is it?”
“A gilded cage still traps, monsieur. I do hope you’re aware of that.”
“It is, so let’s start with… this,” Leo says, nodding.
Farouk took a second to ensure his composure was maintained, not wanting to betray any sign of discomfort. Whatever the other man had done, he could feel some sort of fluid rushing and roiling under his skin, his shirt rubbing against his arm as he brings his coffee to his lips, and every detail on the raised, gilded brim. Meaning this was…
“Yep. Sensory amplification, specifically touch. Several orders of magnitude above what he found unbearable, to boot,” Leo says, chuckling again at Farouk’s quick, surprised intake of breath, continuing, “Ah, you just tried to reverse it. You can’t. This is now an intrinsic part of the being known as Amahl Farouk, the one standing in front of me here.”
“You’ve made your point, سادیست لعنتی.”
“And the second part… is extending your sentence.”
“That’s already infinite,” Farouk snorts, “Though I suppose this is where you detail, excruciatingly, how you’ll make that possible?”
“Ah, good, you’re catching on,” Leo says, relaxing against the wall, “That will make this easier. Simply put, your perception of time will be changed. Let’s see… a Svedberg will be an aeon, because weird measurements are fun.”
Before Farouk can say anything, he halts. Nearly. His cursed sense of touch could still feel every small twitch of his muscles, the strong scent of coffee - normally pleasant - stalled in his nostrils. Leo vanishes from sight, instantaneous even in the slowed world, leaving Farouk to his own devices.
The various members of Planetary’s reserve group shuffled out of Elijah’s mansion, their combined energy a mixture of tension and defeat. Elijah had made the new status quo going forward fairly clear, and they would all have to do their best to avoid invoking the wrath of the DFSB in the future.
One man, however, was his usual self. John Constantine hums to himself as he sits on the curb, idly smoking a silk cut and waiting for Chas to arrive. The sound of boots on pavement catches his attention, and he turns to see Jesse approaching him with a grim expression on her face. He waves to her and calls out, “Ey, squire. Somethin’ on your mi-”
She cuts him off, raising a hand and applying just enough force to his windpipe to put pressure on it but not break it, then balls her hand into a fist to bring him almost face to face. Glaring at him, Jesse leans in closer and utters, “Use me as a bomb again, John, and I will kill you. Clear?”
Gasping for breath, John nods and stammers out, “Crystal”, and Jesse releases him, letting him fall to the ground a retching, coughing mess. She turns on her heel and walks off, leaving him trying to catch his breath on the sidewalk.
After a few moments, the assembled reservists had left, leaving only the field team sitting in Elijah’s study. Both Sypha and Zuko had a distant look in their eyes, the battle still weighing heavily on their minds, while an undisturbed Pete whistled as he did some extra paperwork, hoping to get an early start on using Kadingir. For his part, Elijah looks over his team, and after hesitating for a moment, gives new orders.
“Sypha, Zuko, both of you head home too. I’m going to have a word with Pete.”
Sypha perks up at the mention of her name and shakes her head.
“I’m fine, Elijah. Honest.”
He stands from this seat and puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder, his voice it’s usual reserved tone but the worry and care evident in his eyes.
“No. You two have done more than enough, and you’re not going to be of much use to anyone, let alone me, when you’re both exhausted like this. Go home and rest. You’ll get a call when you’re needed. Understood?”
The message was clear, and they both mumbled a thanks before leaving. As the door closes behind them, Pete, still not looking up from his work, chuckles.
“Not much of a stomach for dirty business with those two, eh? They’ll get it eventually.”
Arms crossed and watching from the window as they head off into the night, Elijah frowns.
“They shouldn’t have to “get it”, Pete. We’re supposed to be an investigation team, explorers of the unknown, and I turned us into a glorified hit squad. It’s time I shifted tactics, so this won’t happen again.”
He turns away from the window and presses a button on “Beast’s” (or whoever exactly that had been) metal disc, helpfully left behind prior to the assault on the DFSB, and it emitted a hologram, showing the appearances of the various Users. Studying them, Elijah rests his chin on his hand, and Pete sighs as he puts the paperwork away for now and leans forward, attentively.
“Now what are you thinking, old man?”
Elijah reaches out and drags aside two images, one of Beast and one of Leo, and replies, “We’re going to start keeping better tabs on the Users. If I’d been focusing more on Beast, I might've seen the play coming and avoided this damned mess. Obviously, now that he was nice enough to inform me that he’s back, he’s a known commodity, and Leo didn’t mince words on us interfering in his business, so I’m going to let them be, not that I have much choice in the latter’s case.”
One by one, he places each User on one side of the screen until only one remains, and Pete laughs, leaning back in his chair.
“Never a dull moment with you, is there? Ever heard of taking a break?”
As the image of Cfp, prolific businessman and former staff member, hovers in front of them, Elijah’s eyes narrow. The others could be dismissed, either not active enough or seemingly benevolent enough to be left alone, but this one? He needed more information on him.
“This city doesn’t rest, Pete, so neither will I. See what you can dig up on him, and keep a light touch on it for now.”
His hair trimmed down to its proper length and back in his classic hoodie and jeans, Beast smiles as he steps out of the elevator in his old office in the Upper Class district, now fully restored, much like it’s owner, to its proper glory. Ramona looks up from her computer and smiles, and he returns the gesture with a friendly nod.
“Just letting you know, boss, Leo swung by, said he had a welcome back gift for you.”
He grins and chuckles before replying, “Really? Well, that’s very nice of him. He’s not exactly the gift giving-”
The smile vanishes as he opens the door to his office to see a mountain of paperwork resting atop it, a small yellow sticky note laying atop the pile. He hesitantly walks forward and takes the note, which read:
Since Farouk signed all of this work, it’s technically fraudulent. You’ll need to thoroughly review it so it doesn’t get invalidated.
P.S. You’re on your own next time you get kidnapped. Saturos and Menardi enjoyed the Mike’s Hard gift, though.
He groans, lifting his glasses to massage the bridge of his nose, and calls out, “Ramona?”
“Can you go grab me some drinks? I’m going to be working late tonight.”
“Naturally. Oh, and boss?”
He turns as she pokes her head into his office.
“It’s good to have you back. Genuinely.”
On that, she leaves, and Beast perks up slightly as he sits down at his desk and gets to work.
Elsewhere, in the DFSB headquarters, Carol snaps her fingers, creating a large conference room. The thirteen members of the bureau file in, sitting down. Iwafune comes in last, setting down a large bowl of his special karrage in the center.
“Well, that was a disaster,” Carol says, snatching a piece for herself, “We won in the end, sure, but that’s the only positive thing here.”
“Not sure what you expected Jordi, Echo, or I to do,” Hanakamakiri grumbles, “We’re not suited to a big magic brawl”
“And Maia and I were on a rescue mission,” Joker says.
“That one went pretty well,” Maia says, grinning.
“Say, Iwafune,” Lun Lun interjects, “Is there any way you can keep the fog from affecting us?”
“Not without making you my Clansmen.”
“We should do that, then,” Carol says, “Your ability will then be a true help, rather than a hindrance to both sides.”
“Sure,” Iwafune says, grabbing another bowl and dropping in a dozen pieces of karrage. He breathes out, focusing his power on the food, before nodding. “Pass the bowl around, eat one each. Don’t treat me any different, now.”
“ ‘course we won’t, you old drunk,” Parcel says, snatching a piece when he hands it to her.
“Speaking of the fog,” Kiritsugu says as he takes the bowl from Parcel, “I’ll need to test whether the Contender can be used inside it.”
“I don’t see why not, so long as you don’t hit the Sword of Damocles or me. Better to be sure, though.”
“We should set some time aside for group combat training, though,” Menardi says, taking a piece and handing the bowl to Saturos.
“Luckily, Kadingir should drastically shorten the time it takes to gather information and surveil suspects, so we’ll have that time,” Carol says, “Anything else?”
The room shakes their heads, and Carol allows herself a rare smile.
“Then we can just enjoy the food. Regardless of how we got there, we still won. Good work, guys.”
Lun Lun grabs a glass, abusing the Aquamerald to fill it with water, as Iwafune cracks open a can of beer and the rest of the team eat, drink, and make merry.
Farouk, having already spent uncountable time simply standing with a cup in his hand, spends several trillion years widening his eyes as a cloud of smoke with a flaming eye forms in front of him, this too somehow instantaneous.
It spends several quadrillion more years simply staring at him, before something happens and the flow of time returns to normal.
b e t t e R, f a r o u K?
“Yes, much. And you are?”
s a l v a t i o N a n D d e s t r u c t i o N.
“That’s not very helpful.”
I w i l L l e T y o U d e s t r o Y h i M. s e r v E m E.
“You mistake me,” Farouk says, putting his cup down, “I aim to rule, as it is my right. No god would rule over ash, and no god would serve another.”
t h e N r o T i N y o u R h e l L
The… whatever it was vanished, and Farouk returns to spending eons finding his chair.