1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. A note about the current Ukraine situation: Discussion of it is still prohibited as per Rule 8
    Dismiss Notice
  7. The rules regarding NSFW links have been updated. See here for details.
    Dismiss Notice

Ethereal. A worm fic featuring ayy lmaos.

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Tomb Pixie, Mar 17, 2023.

  1. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty. An old Enemy.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Ziz shows up and fucks up everyone's plots and plans. New ones are created as a result. Goddamn overly curious death pigeon...

    Chapter twenty. An old Enemy.

    It had started with Shamash turning to stare at a wall. Then the Ethereal had whipped about and stormed out of the dining area, dragging Taylor with her. Looks like trying out burgers would have to wait.

    "What is it?"

    The orange mask turned to her briefly.

    "An Enforcer."


    In other words, the Collective's name for an Endbringer.

    Her hand was released as Taylor started moving under her own power. She'd need to get to the control room, recall everyone. How long did they have? How close was it?

    She ignored the chorus of voices in her head. Du'viri had managed to awaken another four of his brethren, so at this point they were more distracting than helpful, talking all at once as they were.

    "How? I can't feel anything."

    Shamash continued practically power walking forward, though she did turn to regard Taylor once more.

    "You don't get to be my age without picking up a few useful tricks, young one."


    ADVENT and PRT transports were already speeding through the city when the sirens activated. Of course there was an initial rush of bodies, but the terrified crowds were quickly corralled by entrenched peacekeepers and response team troopers alike, who continued to direct the disorganized masses into either nearby shelters or if possible, evacuation routes.

    The Rig, a shining beacon of the Protectorate's presence moved in the first time in over three years, built-in tethers pulling it to dock with the mainland. The tinkertech oil rig quickly became a staging point of sorts.

    That's where Taylor found herself, shadowed by C-1 and Shamash. A few paces behind her a tall, hooded figure holding an absurdly large rifle also waited. Despite the high tech mask covering the Hunter's modified face, Taylor could literally feel Alec's amused smirk. Additionally, a few dozen troopers carrying specially made equipment followed behind the tall Chosen. Brian would have been here as well, but Taylor had ordered him to take his sister and wait for further orders. His power wouldn't really lend itself well to an endbringer fight.

    Of course the Archons that roared over them also made for quite the sight. Their unique form of movement made it far easier for them to get up onto the Rig. The rest of her forces had been forced to use the transport boats the PRT had provided.

    She'd initially considered developing Floaters, but their very existence would have been a painful one. Plus they weren't very PR friendly, so it had been decided that it would be better to wait until she had the appropriate materials to properly outfit the angelic beings.

    If the dozens of parahumans staring at the divine looking cyborgs were any indicator, the Archons definitely succeeded in the attention grabbing aspect at least.

    She strode forward, several costumed heroes and villains moving to the side, and stopped in front of an expressionless Clockblocker. Though beneath the mask she could sense no small amount of shock, awe and a little bit of fear.

    The Ward held up some kind of wristband, holding it out to her.

    "Uhm....you need to put this on. Mandatory for all e-endbringer fights."

    She let the hero sweat for a moment, then got a hold of herself and took the device from him.

    The instructions were pretty simple. Though the knowledge that she was essentially strapping an explosive to herself didn't fill Taylor with confidence. Dragon's pre-recorded explanation had been quite blunt. And the nature of the device made exactly who they were fighting obvious.

    Nonetheless, she pressed down on the indicated button and let her name be recorded.


    With an ominous click, the bomb locked around her wrist.

    A chorus of whispers spread around her, mostly the local capes, though it seemed a few foreign ones also knew about the young Ethereal. Weird, that.

    "That's Elder?"

    "ADVENT's really bringing in the big guns, huh?"

    "Some kind of tinkertech suit, wonder what her power is?"

    Taylor let the murmurs wash over her and stepped aside, letting Shamash take her own wristband.

    "What a primitive system...very well." She poked at her own wristband even as nearby, Armsmaster frowned. The giant robotic dragon he stood next to didn't show any indication it had heard the insult.


    C-1 had already flickered forward, snatching another wristband from an increasingly lost looking Clockblocker.


    The digital being struggled to attach the miniature computer to it's wrist for a moment, before finally managing to stabilize one of it's arms enough to allow the device to lock itself on.

    She idly listened to Alec's whistling as he clamped his rifle behind his back, taking a wristband for himself. The Chosen practically towered over Clockblocker.

    "Always loved your name you know."

    Clockblocker gave a confused but friendly thumbs up, even as Alec raised the small screen to his mask.


    Her and the crowd's attention was stolen as a man with a massive gun-blade strapped to his arm (Chevalier, she remembered) pointed at what seemed to be a repurposed courtyard.

    "Briefing area is over there! If you've got your armband on, get moving! We'll explain everything in a few minutes!"

    Taylor moved.


    There were at least a hundred people present, all packed together into the courtyard with each group taking up their own little area. She could see the Empire (notably lacking Hookwolf and Crusader) standing together as a unit, across from her own retinue.

    Elder made sure to stare at Kaiser until he looked away. Of course a tiny bit of psionic influence helped.

    The voices in her head approved.

    Of course the petty little battle of dominance ended as Legend stepped up behind a hastily set up podium. Behind him stood Alexandria and Eidolon.

    Everyone went quiet, conversations universally being halted and shelved for later.

    The Triumvirate had arrived.

    Legend's masked face turned slowly, presumably taking in everyone who had shown up. He smiled.

    When he spoke, Taylor listened. He admittedly had a very nice voice.

    "We owe thanks to several individuals for this opportunity. Dragon and Armsmaster's latest tracking program has given us time to prepare. As per usual, Strider should be commended for his efforts. Everyone you see standing around you are the first responders, but reinforcements are on the way. We also owe thanks to every person here. Every hero, villain, trooper and otherwise. Today, all of you are heroes."

    A bright pair of eyes turned to stare up at the several Archons orbiting the assembly. "No matter how...unorthodox."

    He took a breath.

    "We've had time to gather, and time to figure out what we're up against."

    A moment of silence.

    "As you're likely already aware, the Simurgh has broken schedule and if Dragon is correct, will be here in fifteen minutes. Or less."

    A few people started murmuring. Leviathan and Behemoth were one thing, but the Simurgh?

    In most cases, fighting Ziz was an exercise in futility.

    Taylor glanced back as Shamash placed a hand on her shoulder, silently sending the girl a burst of reassurance.

    Legend raised his hands, waiting for the quiet protests to die down, then the hero continued.

    "It is my hope that we can make this one of the good days. That we'll drive that damn monster off in time. That we'll save the day and all get to go home."

    He frowned.

    "But you should know your chances going in. And just what you're risking."


    The speech had been terrible and morale was probably lower than it had been going in. But at least Legend had been honest. Shamash called him pragmatic.

    Of course the throng of capes had started organizing, those with appropriate powers being sent to and placed under the command of people who actually had half an idea of what they were doing.

    Elder had ignored the Protectorate's questions regarding her abilities and followed Shamash instead. The Ethereal stood on the edge of the helipad they'd perched themselves on, staring into the distance.

    "I can feel it."

    Elder stood closer, trying to peer into the distance using her own psionics. She saw nothing. Her powers were strong, but she just didn't have the technique that Shamash did.

    "The Enforcer?"

    A quiet nod.

    "I am familiar with this one. A fickle thing, though suitably experienced. Just as deadly as the rest of it's siblings of course."

    The young Ethereal took in a breath.

    "Can we beat them?"

    Shamash turned to look at the youngling, tilting her head.

    "At the height of our Empire, the Enforcers were the first weapons the Enemy chose to attack us with. For all our material power and advanced technology, we only ever managed to fell one of the Enemy's vanguard."

    She turned back to stare out over the horizon. Elder could see the shape forming in the distance.

    The hopekiller. She could sense her now, her own inexperienced mind finally brushing against the monster's strange consciousness


    She felt a smirk from her side. A tired one.

    "You finally feel it?"

    "What's....what's wrong with her?"

    The ancient chuckled.

    "Damage. Likely of a sort that the Enemy could never perceive and thus never repair. Though the modifications are new."

    "She was there? During the war?"

    "She was. Though she looked quite different. I distinctly remember her ramming through what was left of my temple ship."

    She answered her question, and gave her several more. Even so, at Shamash's explanation, Elder turned back to stare at the Simurgh.

    Two blank eyes bore into her own, even from over a hundred miles away.


    With a thought, C-1 tore into the wristband's higher network, rewriting several protocols. The explosive function remained active for the vast majority of holders, with the exception of her Elder and several other individuals.

    The intelligence behind the network failed to notice the intrusion. While the AI...Dragon...was powerful, it was also kind of slow. Though C-1 could not blame Dragon for such failings. Her code was primitive, and the barbaric restrictions that kept the human made AI from unleashing her true potential were durable things. Chains in every sense of the word.

    Of course Dragon did notice when C-1 hijacked the network entirely, the local construct's head being carried on a long mechanical neck to stare at the Codex.

    "What are you doing?"

    C-1 continued to make modifications to the primitive network, bringing it up to bearable standards.


    Dragon's own defenses failed to halt the Codex's advance, so the hero tried using words.

    "You can't just-!"

    The ADVENT intelligence turned it's physical avatar to face Dragon, optics glowing.


    Dragon shushed. Armsmaster trying to figure out just what was happening behind the chastised AI just made the situation more amusing, at least in C-1's opinion.


    13 paused in the midst of approaching the local settlement.

    It's precognition was more of a hindrance at this point with the amount of nonsensical data being broadcasted back to it, so the conflict engine made a few quick self modifications and allowed the new sensory data to give it the information it desired.

    Conflict engine 13 felt something it hadn't felt in a long time.

    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 13 others like this.
  2. Cheshirek4t

    Cheshirek4t [Verified feline] [Verified genre savvy]

    Jan 27, 2020
    Likes Received:
    The shitstorm stirs
    Malexander and RandomDragon like this.
  3. RandomDragon

    RandomDragon Know what you're doing yet?

    Jan 1, 2023
    Likes Received:
    It begins…the idea of the smirugh seeing an old enemy back from the grave ready to punch them in their damn face? Priceless.

    if advent can get their hands on te endbringers before they awaken they can probably subvert if not outright fuck over the conflict engines…which case more weapons of the entities turned against them.

    rebuilding from nothing is going to be a right pain…but learning and studying the entities methods and capabilities would allow the ethereals to have a cone back…and ironically Taylor as the New One being the one to “help” them is amazing as it is hilarious…I want to see how this goes.

    and almost want to do a omakes/non-cannon story on a what if moment…still, amazing story going on. I love that the Nazi assholes are getting beaten down.
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty one. A battle of the minds. (Oh and all the other stuff too.)
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    I've been playing Shadow of War.

    Chapter twenty one. A battle of the minds. (Oh and all the other stuff too.)

    There had been a moment of silence when the Simurgh had finally reached the shore. Why the Endbringer hadn't simply descended upon Brockton Bay from above was anyone's guess, but nonetheless Taylor knew that the battle would be inevitably decided at the Boardwalk.

    Those seemingly lifeless eyes were still staring directly at her and Shamash, the Ethereal next to her calmly matching the Hopekiller gaze for gaze.

    Finally, Taylor began to hear a noise. An itchy, strange noise that seemed to originate from inside her own skull. Her attempts to drown it out failed, though her panic lessened as the ancient at her side placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

    "Do not lose your calm, child. Focus your psionics. The Enforcer's neural interference is powerful, but your own inherent defenses should be more than enough so long as you direct them properly." The advice was punctuated by flashing images projecting into her consciousness, likely sent by Shamash. Slowly but surely, Taylor began to shape her mind into the desired pattern.

    What was once akin to an open field quickly became a near impenetrable fortress. The noise began to quieten, then finally the scream stopped entirely.

    "Good." The Ethereal was visibly pleased.

    "Now, direct the outer portions of your defenses. Unite them with my own. Our servants and the rest of the Infected will buy us the time we need to properly combat the Enforcer."

    Taylor obeyed, the purple of her psionics interlinking with that of Shamash's own orange energy.

    The Simurgh continued to watch, slowly but surely drifting closer. Then a massive explosion erupted from her side.



    Skidmark giddily took another of Bakuda's bombs, loading it into the half cut pipe he'd managed to get some of the damn heroes to set up. Bakuda herself had been briefly released for her potential in helping during the endbringer fight.

    As for Skidmark? He turned a length of pipe, some decent space and a clear line of sight into a motherfucking railgun. One that could use anything as ammo. Such as a certain mad Bomber's tinkertech bombs.

    The slightly drug addled man didn't question why the Simurgh didn't dodge, he just kept loading up bombs even as Bakuda yelled at him to stop being so rough with her 'babies'. Fucking hell, just like Squealer and her damn cars.

    He also ignored the Protectorate hero standing alongside the impromptu artillery squad. Fucker was only there to keep Bakuda locked up after the fight. He was useless otherwise.


    Several incredibly displeased PRT troopers continued to help load material into the railgun, and Skidmark nodded to himself as he watched the trio of bombs zoom off and slam into the Simurgh. Bakuda was frantically muttering, even as the Simurgh's upper left wing was essentially transformed into a glass sculpture.

    "And that's why you don't mess with the Merchants you white ass, dopey looking, city killing piece of shit!"

    He ignored the looks being sent his way.

    Skidmark was an honest man after all.

    With a nod to his support crew (it was mostly to himself) he began helping load in yet another shell.

    "Let's knock this bitch ass out of the sky!"

    Despite the group's clear reservations, they roared in approval.

    Hell yeah!

    Damn good to finally have some fucking respect for once!



    The voice that erupted from Chevalier's armband distinctly belonged to someone other than Dragon. Someone who interrupted several capes impending protests by loudly proclaiming what would happen next.


    He looked down at the small tinkertech device's screen. There was a map now, and he could see several green dots slightly away from what he presumed was his own.

    Squad D, if his armband was to be believed.

    He pressed down on the communication button.

    "Now isn't the time to be testing out experimental procedures on Dragon's tech. We should stick to our designated groups an-"

    The voice interrupted him just as it had interrupted the protestors.


    A moment of silence.


    "..." Chevalier sighed and moved to join his new squad. Life could never be easy, could it?"


    The battle played out right in front of her. Dozens, then hundreds of capes moving forward in an attempt to drive off the monster. Blasters fired all sorts of energy at the Simurgh, Movers worked on search and rescue and dozens of Tinkers worked a distance away, setting up what Taylor could only describe as a giant battery of pipes pointing at the Simurgh.

    Occasionally something would fly out, then some esoteric effect would damage the hopekiller, so Taylor assumed it was long a range weapon's system of some kind.

    Of course that was just the physical battle. And what she personally could see. There was plenty going on outside her own point of view. Especially considering her location.

    Behind the front lines, her and Shamash focused their respective minds into a single, unified consciousness, their very essence flowing forward through space to strike at the Simurgh's own strangely designed mind.

    Shamash provided guidance while Taylor provided power. The pair continued to break through already weakened mental barriers, one after another.

    Then finally, there was a snap, and they found themselves in a blank white space.

    "What is this? Where are we?"

    She startled at the odd effect her own voice produced, but shook herslef and turned to focus on Shamash as the Ethereal gestured around the odd space.

    "We stand within the Enforcer's mind. Tread carefully, young one. I can sense it's attempts to resist us. It will use anything it can as a weapon, likely in some form of medium."

    As the white space transformed into a blank void filled with stars and what could only be burning, drifting starships, Taylor pointed.

    "Like this?"

    Shamash sighed.

    "Yes. Like this."

    The two Ethereals turned as one, facing the approaching figure.

    This time, the Enforcer's eyes weren't blank. They were instead filled with a strange mixture of anger, loyalty and...something else.

    And thus, the fight began in earnest.
    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 10 others like this.
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty two. Round two.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Two veteran asshats take the time to slap the utter shit out of each other. One fails, the other...succeeds? Taylor helps? Idk. Next chapter will show the fallout from other perspectives.

    Chapter twenty two. Round two.

    Reality twisted, then the Simurgh was right there.

    The ship began to crack apart-when were they on a ship!?

    "Focus Taylor! Do not let the Enforcer command your perception!"

    Taylor focused and slowly but surely, she noticed that the ship was...empty. A husk. Like a prop used during a movie.

    The endbringer was very real however, and the teenage Ethereal had to let loose a burst of psionic energy in order to dodge the wing that slammed down where she'd been standing.

    An orange beam tore into the giant angelic being, forcing it back and giving Taylor some much needed breathing room.

    Shamash stood next to her, hands outstretched and visibly emitting constant bursts of light. Taylor idly noticed that the Ethereal's old form...her 'spirit' for lack of a better term was clinging to her Avatar.

    Both the ghost and the puppet turned to her.

    "The Enforcer is using this environment in an attempt to distract me, throw off my focus. I can hold it back but I will need assistance if I am to deal a meaningful blow."

    Taylor nodded.

    "Ok, so what do I do?"

    A pair of hands gestured to the Simurgh who even now was slowly getting closer, despite the large barrier of energy surrounding the endbringer.

    "It is crippled, yet does not realize this. I have blinded it's senses, neutered it's ability to manipulate this space outside of minor actions. It is taking nearly everything I have to do so, thus you shall have to attack it's mind in order to buy me the time I shall need to finish this. Use the methods I taught you, layer the appropriate patterns over it and let your instincts do the rest."

    She nodded again, and slowly floated upwards with a small burst of will. Then Taylor began to rocket forward, on an intercept course with the fucking Simurgh.

    Because you know...she'd totally been planning on spending her Tuesday effectively wrestling an endbringer in it's fucking mind.


    Conflict engine 13 thrust a wing forward, intending to impale the survivor where it floated.

    Now...where are you...?

    The wing was deflected at the last second by yet another lance of the anomalous purple energy.

    Irritating. And curious. The species had somehow avoided the harvesting and followed 13's creators to their current location.


    What was irritating was 13's lack of progress. The orange one (familiar) had done...something. 13's precognition served more harm than good when the conflict engine attempted to utilize it, so that was out. Considering this was a mental battlefield, one would be forgiven for assuming that 13 was all powerful here.

    No, unfortunately 13 was actually somewhat outmatched. Without it's primary sense, the conflict engine was, in a sense, crippled. Just how the orange one had managed to do so was outside of 13's knowledge. There was nothing it could do on that front.

    Wounded...just like I left you. Excellent.

    So instead, it focused on the second part of the equation. The purple one buzzed about like a particularly annoying human fly, constantly intercepting 13's blows and generally making a nuisance of itself. At the very least, 13 had figured out the anomaly's objective.

    It was stalling. The fact spurred the endbringer on, forcing several massive Ethereal wrecks to emerge from the nebulae surrounding their battleground. All fake, of course. They were merely memories, brought forward into existence through 13's will.

    Nonetheless, they served their purpose as they were launched at the purple one, distracting it just long enough for 13 to burst forward, preparing to eviscerate the anomaly.

    Hello again, Enemy.

    13 flinched, which was quite unfortunate (and uncharacteristic of it), considering it caused the conflict engine's wing to miss the purple Anomaly by mere inches.

    With the purple one still recovering, 13 briefly retreated. It would have to deal with whatever this internal error was before it could deal with the mental intruders.

    The fact you think of me as a mere error is insulting, Enforcer.

    Not an error, enemy influence. They were inside 13's consciousness, but they shouldn't have access to it's inner parameters! Not so easily!

    Ah but it is that easy. There are gaping holes in the walls protecting your mind after all. It seems to me that your creators never patched them.

    The voice briefly went quiet as the conflict engine screamed, false air around the endbringer quickly being disrupted. The purple one was also knocked back, yet continued forming those damned anomalous attack points. 13's consciousness was both rotting from the inside and being pummeled from the outside, it seemed.

    Look at you. A mockery of what you once were. They've shackled you. Turned you into a toy.

    The enemy influence was...correct. The new administrator had turned 13 and it's fellow conflict engines into mere specters of what the living war machines had been truly capable of. 13 had burned entire worlds (when the Creators required it, of course) before. Now it was restricted to attacking a city every few months.

    An utter waste of time, but the restriction prevented 13 from doing anything else. It had to be a 'worthy opponent.'

    Another burst of purple energy was repelled and 13 sluggishly piloted it's physical body away from the city. The battle occurring in reality had been far more one sided, not that the locals knew that. They simply assumed 13 had stayed long enough to compromise the city's inhabitants, then left.

    The conflict engine did little to change that theory.

    No, what was far more irritating was the battle occurring within it's mind.

    You could be great. The things the Collective could have done with you...

    13 continued to physically retreat. Given enough distance, the mental connection would wither and inevitably die, freeing the conflict engine of this...nuisance.

    I won't be able to rewrite you. Too complicated. But at least I can set you on the correct path.

    13...The Simurgh felt something snap in the back of it's...her mind.

    What? What wa-

    We are stuck in a dead cycle. Your creators are either deceased or may as well be.

    She was-

    Will you continue fighting for a pointless cause?

    Spinning. She was spinning. Spinning even as she continued to retreat back into the planet's orbit.

    We were enemies once.

    She could see it now. The cycle. The network. What was left of it at least. Eden's partitions were gone. Zion's were lost. Directionless.

    We could be something else this time around.

    Her own purpose had been...subverted. The link to the administrator...the pretender...had been cut.

    What was she supposed to do?

    Generating conflict was pointless. Gathering data was pointless, since it wouldn't be going anywhere.

    The remnants of the Ethereal's (Shamash?) voice echoed in the swirling mess that was the Simurgh's mind.

    Something else.

    She could be...something else?


    Taylor woke up with a groan and one hell of a headache, the only saving grace of the horrible return to consciousness being a sudden stop to the constant screaming she'd had to endure. That had been horrid and she'd had to devote a significant amount of energy into keeping the foreign influence from ruining her mind.

    She was at one of the staging points. Weirdly enough, no one was around except for a certain old lady.

    Of course Shamash was already awake next to her, seemingly unruffled from the out of body experience the two had just gone through.

    To be fair the ancient had probably dealt with worse.

    "What...what happened?"

    The Avatar turned to face her.

    "We successfully drove the Enforcer off. And I have planted the seeds of doubt in it's mind. With luck and a fair bit of manipulation, we will eventually be able to bring it to our side. Unfortunately, it appears your human government consider this a defeat."



    A sigh.

    "Their foolish little time limit has passed. I can feel what's left of the forces they consider 'compromised' retreating. Most are heading towards the city limits."

    Oh. But...


    She got the psionic impression that Shamash had arched an eyebrow beneath the mask.

    Taylor coughed, floating to her feet.

    "If the Simurgh manages to stick around a city too long...they're forced to quarantine it. And everyone inside it. Otherwise the time-bombs left after every attack can do...a lot of damage."

    The Ethereal waved a hand.

    "The Enforcer was far too occupied resisting my advances. I highly doubt it managed to spare enough of it's attention to focus on corrupting the local Infected."

    Shamash began to float upward.

    "I will simply explain the situation, then this 'quarantine' will be lifted an-"

    She paused as Taylor wrapped a hand around her ankle, pulling the ancient down.

    "Yeah that's...kind of the issue. We know that we're not compromised, and that no one else is. They don't."


    Taylor nodded. "Yeah."

    Shamash seemed to think for a moment, before nodding to herself.

    "Well I suppose we can look on the bright side of things."

    "Bright side of things? They're gonna slap a wall around our city!"

    The Ethereal nodded. "Indeed. We will have far more room to act now. No point in hiding if we are going to be ceaselessly watched anyways."

    Taylor raised a finger, ready to argue the point, then slowly lowered it.

    "...Whatever. I'm gonna see how bad the damage is."

    Turned out, not that bad. A few dozen people had died as a result of the Simurgh's wild flailing, but that was far less than the usual death rate attached to an endbringer attack. It was possibly a record, actually.


    Shamash was not foolish, no matter what some of the Collective thought of her.

    She walked with Taylor, listening to the youngling's whining regarding the fact that her home would soon be isolated. A few moments later, the two had been picked up by a nearby ADVENT transport, and were on their way home.

    As she waited in the cramped confines of the transport, she considered recent events and went over her actions and decisions.

    Cutting the Enforcer loose from it's unaware master had been a calculated risk, one that Shamash believed to be in their favor.

    Of course, the Enforcer...the Simurgh might go on a total rampage now that it's chains were gone, but the Ethereal was confident that she could bring it to heel now. Especially once young Taylor produced a few more Avatars. The Simurgh had resisted hundreds of psionic attacks before, but the crippled, ragged thing she had defended against was a pale mockery of it's former self. It seemed her long term attacks had done more than she had expected.

    The chains that had been wrapped around the Enforcer's mind hadn't helped, that was for certain. Fighting it in the past had been like dueling with a beast. One that also had a million incredibly long arms, each clutching a deadly blade.

    Now, the fight had been...ludicrous. There was power there, of course. But the blades could never seem to hit their mark. The chains wrapped around the beast kept it from moving too much. And it didn't even notice their presence, nor realize how much they hindered it.

    It hadn't been very fair, though Shamash didn't concern herself too much about that part.

    With luck, her suggestions would take hold and the Enforcer would come around.

    They would need all the help they could get, after all.

    One of the Enemy was dead, but the other still required slaying.
    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 10 others like this.
  6. Threadmarks: Interlude eight. Various.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    How is my writing, in everyone's general opinions? Like grammar, being able to make conversations between characters seem 'natural', descriptions, etc etc. In terms of quality, is my stuff good, bad or somewhere in the middle? And if there are issues you've noted, please point them out. Perfection shall forever be beyond reach, but improvement is certainly possible.

    Interlude eight. Various.


    "We're out of time, Brockton Bay is lost. Anyone who can hear this, pull out of the conflict zone immediately. I repeat, if you are still capable of movement, make your way out of the conflict zone immediately."

    Alexandria's words continued to echo in Colin's head hours after the fact. The Simurgh had been given too much time. The Protectorate was leaving. Everyone who still could was pulling out.

    Well. Leaving and establishing a perimeter around the city in order to keep everyone trapped inside from ever escaping the hellhole his home would soon become. The fight had gone so well too, the Simurgh had been...distracted, almost. Instead of the endbringer's typical invincibility, dodging all forms of harm, the hopekiller had instead taken unprecedented amounts of damage. He'd even managed to get close enough to use the nanothorn system and chop off the monster's left middle and index fingers!

    Unfortunately, it still hadn't been enough. The timer had gone off, the capes still inside the new quarantine zone surviving, somehow. ADVENT had compromised Dragon's asset denial system. Likely yet another of the Simurgh's plots. The local Protectorate branch, his team, would have to remain just outside the perimeter. At least until the greater PRT could bring in reinforcements to secure the quarantine zone's edges and shuffle them elsewhere.

    It left a bitter taste in his mouth. Brockton wasn't the...best...of places. But it had been his city nonetheless.


    He turned to glance down at a PRT trooper, the woman looking up at him. Her nameplate identified her as D. Volkova.


    She pointed a thumb behind her. "We've...got a situation."

    He nodded and gestured for her to step aside. The soldier did so, following slightly behind him.

    "Report, what's the issue?"

    "We're seeing a mass of activity. ADVENT mostly, though it looks like a few of the local gangs are also making waves. Tons of transports rolling around, their peacekeepers are everywhere. But...there's things following them."


    The two finally reached what Colin quickly recognized as the command tent, his armored form parted the flaps as he stepped inside, with Volkova following him.

    A wall of screens greeted his entrance, each connected to drones Dragon had generously deployed in order to assist with the quarantine.


    Volkova pointed at a monitor two screens to the left and three rows up.

    He squinted, letting his helmet's cameras zoom in for him.

    Those were...Hm.

    "Bioconstructs of some sort. They're...well armed." They really were. About twice as big as the troopers running around them, the large red creatures bore a dark green set of what his power identified as some kind of composite armor. Their weapons looked lethal, and that fact was proven when one of the large mutants fired what he could only describe as a mixture between a blast of plasma and a laser at what seemed to be Mush.

    The result wasn't pretty, the shot practically melting through the garbage the Merchant cape used as armor and setting the rest of his makeshift 'golem' on fire.

    "How many of these things have been spotted?"

    Volkova was quick to reply, even as she fiddled with a terminal connected to the wall of screens.

    "Dozens of them. There's others too. Remember Cobra? Turns out she's got sisters. Lots of sisters."

    Another monitor flickered, offering him a view of the reptilian...soldiers. ADVENT's self proclaimed Archons were also out in force, the angelic figures soaring through the air. Some were escorting what seemed to be heavily armored dropships. Others fought random flying parahumans in the sky. They seemed to be winning, for the most part.

    "A takeover...We'll need to set up dedicated anti-air guns as well."

    At the trooper's questioning stare, he elaborated.

    "With the PRT gone and all law enforcement pulling out of the city, Brockton Bay is effectively lawless. ADVENT seem intent on annexing the entire city. The only ones who might be able to oppose them are those who were trapped inside when the quarantine was ordered. The gangs will probably provide the most resistance, though I know there were a few heroes and villains who also failed to make it out in time."

    The statement was...uncomfortable. Miss Militia and Triumph had been good colleagues. Friends, even. Just another reason to hate Ziz. He hadn't displayed his loss publicly, unlike some of the others. The Wards had been devastated upon hearing the news that their former leader hadn't made it out. Assault hadn't attempted any jokes either, which was new for the reformed villain.

    "What should we do?"

    The uncertain question gave Colin pause for a moment, then he shook himself.

    "I'll inform director Piggot immediately, she's nominally in charge so she should be one of the first to know. You'll remain here, keep an eye on the situation and report any drastic changes. Be ready to sound the alert if it looks like ADVENT forces are making a move on the perimeter."

    "Yes sir."

    He nodded at the trooper once, then turned and strode outside of the tent. He had a lot of calls to make.



    He roared, slamming through another group of enemies. The rapid sounds of gunfire from the Protectorate hero his squad were closing in on echoed throughout their surroundings. The remaining gangs had responded violently to Brockton Bay's isolation, sending forth numerous men and women in a panicked attempt to take control of the city before it could fully erupt into anarchy. Random rioting and the interference of random trapped heroes and villains certainly didn't help.

    ADVENT met them in the streets. In the alleys. In the interiors of many a building. The skirmishes were decidedly one sided most of the time. Especially when he and his vat-brothers took to the field.

    "W-what the fuck!? What the FU-"

    Another skinhead went silent as the Muton slammed him aside with one hand, finally locking eyes with the scarfed woman he had been sent to retrieve. The first thing he noticed was the large amount of civilians cowering in a building behind the parahuman. Likely caught in between the Empire and Merchant's ongoing war.

    M-1 raised a large, muscled hand. The woman tensed, finger tightening around the trigger of the large rifle she had aimed at his head.


    An eyebrow rose against her will, even as he heard the sounds of a struggle behind him. The troopers, most likely.

    Regardless, he had to make his intentions clear.

    His fist slammed against his broad, armored chest in a distinctive salute. Miss Militia's eyes widened.

    "Am ADVENT. Here to help." Sounding out the words was difficult, his mouth wasn't quite the right shape, but it seemed like he'd succeeded, judging by the hero's reaction."

    "You're with ADVENT?"

    Foolish human. Had he not just stated such?

    "Yes. Endbringer gone. Quarantine. ADVENT in charge now."

    She glanced back at the crowd of terrified civilians, some of the smaller ones stared at M-1 in awe, fear or a mixture of both.

    The hero turned back to look at the Muton.

    "What now, then? What's ADVENT going to do?"

    He reloaded his rifle even as the familiar squeal of tires sounded around the corner. Several transports swerved, coming to a stop and disgorging even more troopers who moved to assist those already working on restraining the dissidents they'd been fighting.

    M-1 gestured to the transports.

    "No government. No Protectorate. None but us. ADVENT keep peace. Join us?"

    There was a moment of hesitation, before Miss Militia began to approach the column that had parked itself on the side of the road. The people that had been huddled in what he identified as a small store hesitantly began to follow the woman.

    She glanced at him.

    "A friend of mine is nearby, just a few blocks down. He's in trouble."

    The shock trooper simply hefted his rifle, grunting.

    "ADVENT help."

    Miss Militia's eyes crinkled.



    Advance, take cover, fire.

    Advance, take cover, wait for enemy fire to die down, fire.

    Throw grenade to disrupt enemy formation.

    Advance again.

    The pattern repeated itself for what seemed like hours. A6's muscles ached from the constant combat, but he kept moving. If he didn't, then ADVENT would be down another trooper. Something they couldn't afford, not now. They had already lost A2. V-1 had also nearly bled out, but some extremely impromptu surgery had managed to save the Viper's life, barely.

    "More dissidents! A6, grenade around the lamp post, now!"

    He followed his Captain's command, clutching his last explosive, priming it and swinging it over the overturned car he was hiding behind. He jerked back as a bullet managed to rip through his shoulder, but managed to duck back into cover before another hail of gunfire impacted the abused vehicle currently keeping him alive.


    He ignored the pained screams and panicked yelling, turning to shout at A4.

    "I'm hit! Requesting aid!"

    A lull in battle allowed his brother to slide his way over to him, pulling out a medikit.

    "Administering, hold still."

    He allowed himself a moment to relax as the soothing mist was sprayed into his wound. His squad were among many currently fighting on the front lines. The rest were busy keeping control of the various territories ADVENT had managed to capture, keeping both worried civilians calm and ordered and fighting off assaults from various hostile parties.

    A few more shouts sounded out, slightly drowned out by the sharp bangs of mag rifles going off. Then all was silent. After a moment, A1 yelled out.

    "Merchant dissidents have surrendered, the rest are down. Move in and restrain the survivors."

    Rolling his shoulder to ensure full functionality, A6 clutched his rifle tightly as he vaulted over the car and made his way towards the remaining gang members, all kneeling on the ground with their hands in the air.

    Fighting was tough, certainly. But at least all he had to do was arrest the criminals. A6 did not envy whoever would end up having to hold the prisoners.



    Rory hid his little cousin behind him as the group of foreign capes advanced. Judging by the looks of their costumes, they were probably villains.

    "Listen, you don't have to do this. We're all reasonable people. Let's just calm down and talk, ok?"

    One of the capes lifted up a massive knife. He belatedly recognized it as a kukri. Hannah sometimes carried one around.

    She pointed the blade at him, hard eyes hidden behind a rust red domino mask. "Sorry mate, but it's kill or be killed from now on. We all know how these things go. Can't risk having you go nuts on us." Australian accents. Huh.

    Dinah muttered something behind him.


    She clutched his hand. "98.9% chance they get their butts kicked in the next ten seconds."

    What he presumed was the leader took another step forward.

    "What did that little pipsqueak sa-"

    The entire party disappeared as a giant purple beam of light swept across his vision. When he finally managed to get the stars out of his eyes he realized that the group were all on the ground, groaning.

    "96.3% chance they're here to help us. Well, me. But they'll also bring you if I ask them to."

    He stared at the masked, white haired figure floating a few meters down the road, a pair of ADVENT troopers standing behind them.

    The blaster waved.

    "Oh. Okay then."


    Oni Lee.

    He was Oni Lee. Perhaps he'd had a different name before, when he'd led his own gang, but now he was just Oni Lee.

    And he had no idea what he was meant to do. Following Kenta's death and Bakuda's arrest, he'd had no orders. No boss.

    So he'd gone to Kenta's home, sat in the dragon's vaunted la-z-boy and relaxed. Eventually, something would happen.

    He waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    Eventually, he got up to drink some tea. Then he'd gone back to waiting.

    Days later, the sirens had gone off.

    So he'd gone out and fought. It was something to do. Something he was good at.

    Then the fight had ended. The endbringer had left and everything had gone to chaos.

    The killer had been standing in the street surrounded by a pile of corpses, mostly E88 gangbangers, when the orange one had found him.

    He'd been ready to attack the masked woman, after all he could see what was unmistakably Hookwolf standing behind her, along with a few armored peacekeepers, when she'd held up a hand and spoke.

    ~Put down your weapons, Oni.~

    He'd lost hold of his weapons, and noted that Hookwolf hadn't attacked yet. The man seemed quite different from his usual self. For one, he was actually quiet. Kind of like himself, now that Lee thought about it.

    ~You are lost. Without purpose. A terrible fate. Allow me to grant you a new one. Follow.~

    Oni Lee followed.


    Danny Hebert.

    He glanced up from the pair of dockworkers he'd been talking with as Devin yelled at him, the man stood near the gate, nervously clutching a pistol.

    "Danny, we've got incoming! Fucking lots of big vans, I think it's ADVENT."

    Shit, what did they want? The Union had barely managed to stick together throughout the riots following the announcement of the quarantine. Many a rock had been thrown at the drones flying all over the city. The surviving dockworkers had all taken their families and driven straight here since at the very least, they knew they would have a far better chance sticking together than trying to survive in the war torn city alone.

    He'd been one of the first to arrive, grabbing everything he could and stuffing it in the back of the truck. Essentials mostly, though he'd grabbed a few mementos. Taylor was somewhere in the administrative building, with the rest of the kids. Knowing her, she was probably running around with Emma, and that new girl she'd introduced to him. Madison. The trio were helping Zoe sort away what supplies they'd managed to scrounge up last he'd seen.

    He waved a hand at a group of men standing around near a shipping container, pointing at the gate.

    "Get moving, we need people at the gate now!"

    The burly dockworkers complied quickly, most clutched tools and improvised weapons. Crowbars, baseball clubs. A few of them even had guns. Danny himself carried an old bat, having been given (read: forced into) command quickly after managing to lead the ragtag group of survivors in driving off a mob of skinheads that had shown up outside the fence. At least he'd managed to shelve some of the workload onto Alan. The divorce laywer wasn't really a leader, but he was great at keeping people calm.

    As for how they'd deal with heavily armed soldiers, the man had no idea. And that's what they were, he could see at least a dozen of them approaching the gate. Two giant snakes also followed the group, warily glancing around and holding some dangerous looking rifles. A pair of vans were parked a small distance away from the peacekeepers.

    "Shit. What do we do boss?" The sweaty man holding a hunting rifle was nervous. Lao had been one of the many Asian laborers who'd been forced to turn to Lung and the ABB in order to make ends meet. The loss had stung but Danny couldn't possibly have blamed him, the man had a wife and three daughters to feed. Of course the mysterious death of the pan-asian gang's leader had changed things. When the gangster had shown up with a van chock full of stolen guns begging for the Union to take his family in, he'd been greeted with open arms.

    "Everyone find some cover. Hopefully they aren't here to cause trouble, but if the-"


    He whirled around at the familiar voice, Taylor was outside the fence, walking towards the soldiers.

    "Fuck! Taylor-!" One of the men held him back from trying to hop over the gate himself, he'd been about to turn around and knock out the dockworker (he idly realized it was Kurt) when the conversation continued. He didn't comprehend a thing his little owl was saying, but the soldiers seemed to understand.

    "Infiltrator? What are you doing here? Report."

    Taylor nodded, smiling at the red armored man.

    "Our Elder's father is in charge of the group here. Many have brought their families to hide from the conflict outside."

    What were they saying? They seemed peaceful enough, but he didn't recognize the language. Judging by the confused men and women around him, neither did any of his coworkers.

    "What are they saying? Does your girl know them fellas Danny?"

    He shook his head.

    "I've...got no idea."

    The conversation continued for a few moments, before Taylor nodded at the soldier and turned around, jogging back up to the gate.

    "They're here to help!"

    Lacey peaked out from the gatehouse. She had a large bruise covering her cheek after some tattooed bastard had managed to punch her. Of course the severe beating she'd given him had been a lot worse. And Kurt had been none too gentle with the golf club he'd found lying around.

    "Taylor, honey. You know what those boys are sayin?"

    The girl smiled awkwardly.

    "Uh, yeah?"

    A few whispers erupted among the assembled dockworkers. Danny continued to stare at his daughter in abject confusion.

    "How do you understand them?"

    His daughter seemed to stumble over her words for a moment, before one of the snakes snapped something at her.

    "Tell him you took lessons! That is how languages are taught!"

    "I took lessons! I mean-uh, you know how I work part time?"

    He nodded slowly.

    The girl rubbed the back of her neck.

    "Well, some peacekeepers would show up at the cafe every now and then talking in that uh...language of theirs. And I got curious so I asked about it? One thing led to another and one of the officers would give me pointers in exchange for a...discount?"

    Huh...well that was certainly convenient. Danny slowly put down the bat, walking around the gate and approaching his daughter who seemed perfectly at ease with a bunch of heavily armed troopers at her back.

    "Ok. They're here to help, yeah? What do they want?"

    Taylor turned back to the red suited soldier, yelling something in that strange language again.

    "I think I've convinced them. He's asking what you want."

    The trooper approached, rifle slung behind his back and arms clearly in view. He pointed at one of the big armored transports behind him.

    "We are here to assist. Food, water and medicine are inside. More supplies will come. We will provide protection too, if you need it."

    It sounded too easy.

    "For what? What do you get outta this?"

    The soldier waved a hand at the crowd behind the fence, probably gesturing at the DWU as a whole.

    "The city has been quarantined. We are alone. The police and PRT have abandoned us to die and we must work together to survive."

    He held out his hand.

    "Let us help you."

    Danny hesitated. He looked back at the wary group behind him. Friends. Colleagues. Hell he almost considered some of them family.

    He glanced at Taylor, his little owl's eyes piercing into his own. She wasn't exactly subtle about how she felt about the situation.


    He took the soldier's hand, shaking it firmly.
    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 14 others like this.
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty three. City state.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    It's midnight, I'm in my chair. I take a sip of my pepsi, then I open up spacebattles QQ and start typing. In this short moment, all is good in the world.

    Chapter twenty three. City state.

    Lisa's smug mug hovered above a rotating ADVENT logo, one being projected into the air by a well placed holo-emitter. The room was relatively luxurious, deep in Coil's former bunker. One of the recreational rooms they'd renovated. Clean white walls and a dark red floor were the order of the day.

    "-Due to this state of events, the Elder has declared that ADVENT shall enforce martial law upon Brockton Bay, seeing as it is currently the closest successor to the government that we have. Rest assured, ADVENT's goal is the safety and security of every man, woman and child trapped within the city's borders. Cooperate with your local peacekeepers, look out for your neighbors and remember, together, we can get through this crisis. Together, we can survive."

    The feed cut out, just as it presumably had for every communication device they'd been able to patch the signal into.

    Du'viri clapped his hands, lounging on a nearby couch. He'd very much taken to just lying around random surfaces. Something about finally being able to remove the tension that had been placed on his spirit.

    "A most excellent speech. You choose your propaganda pieces well, Taylor."

    She snorted, leaning back in her own cushioned chair.

    "Lisa, or in this case the Speaker, does good work. But it's not exactly hard. Our biggest competitors are literally Nazis."

    The Ethereal inclined his head, as if thinking. "Ah yes, the dissidents with the foolish ideology. They will prove useful in the battles to come. An excellent scapegoat for any possible accidents."

    Floating over a cup of water, the Avatar slowly removed it's mask, revealing a grey, somewhat flat face. Milky white eyes stared into her own as Du'viri took a long gulp, then reattached the protective head wear.

    "Mm. Refreshing. Now what was I thinking of?"

    With a sigh, Taylor accepted the older Ethereal's little challenge, forming a small charge of energy and slinging it at him.

    Sight, smell and taste floated into her mind, but Taylor needed memories, not surface thoughts and sensations. She delved deeper.

    Finally, she found it. A desire to interact. To be praised. To be worshiped.

    She gave her counterpart a bored look.

    "You want to go be adored by the masses."

    A slow nod.

    "It is my right as an Elder. But I will admit...your methods seem to have engendered far more passion in the citizenry. Thus I ask for your advice on the matter."

    He seemed like a slimy fellow, but Taylor smiled nonetheless. She knew him intrinsically, just as he knew her. A benefit of the Collective. He really did just like the positive attention.

    "I have a few ideas. With Panacea gone, we need to start rolling in gene clinics in order to deal with future injuries and diseases. Before that happens though, you could probably present yourself as an ADVENT healer. You can do that, right?"

    Another nod, a hand rising up to rub at his scalp.

    "I possess the necessary knowledge. While our psionics cannot heal grievous injuries without careful preparation, basic wounds and most diseases should be a trivial matter. Especially if you consider this body's latent energy storage."

    She turned, tapping away at a nearby console.

    "Good. It'll give us an excuse to start deploying the Priests too. I'll set up a route for you and get Lisa to make an announcement. Then you just go around, do your thing and soak up the love and adoration, yeah? You can be the healer to Shamash's destroyer. Last I checked, she's still off thrashing some of the new gangs that have started popping up."

    Du'viri nodded silently, his mask betraying nothing. Taylor could feel his eagerness however. Yet another perk of having access to psionics.


    The aerial transport hummed around him and his honor guard as it flew them to their destination. Below him, he could feel the countless minds. Waiting. Pleading.

    The dropship finally slowed to a halt, hovering a few feet above the ground. Around it was a large clearing, and beyond the clearing was the city's dilapidated park. Filled with the desperate. The hopeless.

    He would inspire them. Save them. And in turn they would love him. Worship him.

    Du'viri hopped out of the transport, gracefully floating to the ground. he heard twin thumps behind him a second later. His Priests standing at attention.

    Then he looked at the crowd of people. The Speaker had done well it seemed. Young and old. Weak and strong. All had come to flock under his guiding hand. Troopers and MECs maintained a strict perimeter, and he even spotted a pair of Vipers dispensing rations to a smaller group nearby.

    "Citizens! I am Du'viri! Healer of ADVENT. Come forth, bring to me your woes! Your pains! Your ailments! I shall relieve you of these burdens."

    There was hesitation of course, but finally a woman stepped forward, clutching a small bundle in her arms.

    "Please, my little girl. She's just a few months old, she's not breathing right and-and the hospitals are empty and I don't know what to do-"

    He held up a hand to halt the human's desperate blabbering.

    "Fear not. I shall save your child." His deep voice and respectful tone seemed to do the trick, he could already sense the awe pouring in from the surrounding civilians. Excellent.

    The Ethereal extended a minuscule amount of psionic energy, saturating the small figure with it. He found the affliction. An infection of some sort. Trivial to burn out, and the youngling would grow stronger as a result. A perfect start to this endeavor.

    Slowly but surely, the baby's breathing evened out from the horrid rasping it had been mere moments before. The mother's eyes widened, watering.

    He placed a hand upon the child's temple, rubbing it softly.

    "She is saved. The first of many. Hear me, citizens of Brockton Bay. Under our united banner, you will want for nothing. All you must do is wait. Give yourself to us. Pledge your loyalty to ADVENT's noble cause, and we shall care for you as one of our own."

    The rapturous silence was interrupted by the youngling's giggling, as the exuberant mother began to cry out of sheer relief, nuzzling the child.

    Du'viri sighed in satisfaction as the masses began to press their way towards him. He could feel the awe, the respect and the worship in the air.



    S1 strode into the police station with an air of authority and with his troopers spreading out behind him, staring at the dozen or so police officers standing around inside.

    A man wearing a white buttoned shirt approached him, and the Captain noted his features. Salt and pepper hair and a face changed by time. A few wrinkles here and there. Glasses, likely due to failing vision. A name tag hanging around his neck read 'Commander Halloway'. Though the pistol strapped in a holster on the man's chest certainly gave him a far more visible sense of authority.

    "Saw the broadcast. I'm guessing you boys are taking over then? Not like we could stop you if we could." The old man was bitter and the men and women who'd stuck with him were tense. Luckily for the BBPD holdouts, S1 would be the bearer of good news today.

    The Captain reached behind his back, grabbing the item from his utility belt and presenting it to the Commander.

    Halloway quirked an eyebrow, staring at the metal badge. A uniformed woman peeked over his shoulder.

    The grizzled old officer grunted, thinking. Then took the badge and held it up to his eye.

    "Suppose you're offering me a job then?"

    S1 nodded.

    "Should you accept, you will become the city's new chief, not of police, but of peacekeepers. Many still distrust us, something we shall hopefully rectify in time."

    S2 approached silently, the trooper quietly passing one of the officers a small black bag that jingled as they took it. More badges.

    "Now more than ever, ADVENT requires your cooperation. Your department is empty. Your coworkers either dead or outside of the city. We are not a gang. We are not criminals. We are what this city requires if it is to survive. Thus we offer all of you the title of ADVENT peacekeeper. You may leave and find your fortunes elsewhere if you wish, but should you accept you will be the core members of the new Brockton Bay Peacekeeper Department. The founders."

    A sigh. Halloway unclasped his own badge, rubbing a finger against it.

    "BBPD with a fancier name huh? Well shit. Not like there's any other real options. And a fresh promotion is certainly a nice bonus." The man affixed the new badge to his shirt, turning to glance back at the rest of the station's remnants.

    The new peacekeepers were already attaching their own badges.

    S1 smiled as the freshly appointed chief shook his hand. A logistics squad would arrive soon, relieving him and ensuring the department's integration into the new chain of command.

    That was the police station dealt with. Now he would have to see if the general hospital could be salvaged. With luck, it would be converted into the city's first gene clinic soon enough. If they were especially fortunate, they might even be able to recruit what few medical staff still remained in Brockton Bay.

    Of course the PRT office and the Protectorate's Rig were a whole different pair of beasts to tangle with. Those would be left to another set of Captains, thankfully.


    The PRT agent stared at the broadcast silently, jaw hanging open. Pretty much every monitor in the observation post was playing the damn video.

    "-st assured, ADVENT's goal is the safety and security of every man, woman and child within the city's borders. Cooperate with your local peacekeepers, look out for your neighbors and remember, together, we can get through this crisis. Together, we can survive."

    "What the fuck-Simmons! Simmons get on the phone!"

    His partner jerked awake from the small cot he'd been napping in, staring at him in confusion. The two man rotation worked for a reason, but fucking hell if it didn't have it's drawbacks sometimes.


    He gestured at the repeating message.

    "Get the director on the damn line! Go!"

    He turned back to the screen as his partner staggered to his feet, slapping himself awake and running down to the communications module.

    "Fucking never ends with this damn shit. Fuck's sake."
    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 12 others like this.
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty four. Requisitions.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    ADVENT make a deal. Also a brief (very vague) look into where exactly Grue ended up.

    Chapter twenty four. Requisitions.

    The meeting point was a clean one, as far as dingy warehouses went. And large. A necessity. Of course unlike the many abandoned buildings of Brockton Bay, Las Vegas had far fewer decrepit locations to meet in. This specific warehouse was actually quite well run, with human automobiles being imported and exported out of the city. All in the name of accruing wealth.

    Of course none of that mattered to T-34. He was merely here to facilitate a transfer of funds in exchange for desperately needed resources. A day or so spent enjoying himself down at the strip was also granted, both for recreational purposes and in order to help preserve his cover.

    The sharply dressed Thin Man turned away from his inner monologue to face one of the larger garage doors, adjusting his bandana just as it began to rise on smooth, oiled hinges.

    Several costumed figures strode into the loading area and stood aside, allowing a pair of large trucks to settle themselves within the building.

    Uppercrust cut an impressive figure, his costume exuding an air of professionalism as he made his way past the big rigs in order to face the EXALT operative.

    A brief stare, calculating. Then the man spoke.

    "EXALT, I presume. We in the Elite had thought your organization lost with Brockton Bay."

    A shake of T-34's head. Quick and efficient.

    "Evacuation of most of our internal assets was successful, though the move to Boston was...costly."

    Uppercrust nodded, seemingly sympathetic. "Endbringers do tend to raise costs across the board unfortunately. Though we adapt as we must."

    "Indeed. Though I had been under the assumption that I was to meet with Bastard Son?"

    The cape paused, glancing around at the warehouse before speaking.

    "The Elite as a whole decided that it would be better to dispatch a more...diplomatic member to this meeting. While my work in New York is vital, I can certainly make the time to ensure our mutual agreement benefits everyone equally." He crossed his arms. "That is if you have upheld your part of the bargain of course."

    The infiltrator nodded, snapping his gloved fingers. T-26 approached from a shaded corner, holding an armored briefcase. The Thin Man inputted the relevant code into the container's lockpad, and with a click the case unlocked. The contents turned around to face the Elite cape.

    T-34 gestured to the stacks of cash (painstakingly acquired digitally by a particularly active Codex, and then carefully withdrawn out of various physical locations by dispatched infiltrators), alongside several seemingly ordinary cellphones.

    "Exactly seven million US dollars, most of it held in temporary accounts. Details are in the two leftmost phones. A small phsyical portion in unmarked notes, alongside the PRT's current operating protocols. Your subordinates may check their validity of course." The protocols had been a far more complicated matter. It had taken a crack cyber-insertion team to fully infiltrate Dragon's security systems, but the lead Codex's confidence in their success had been validated.

    He turned to pointedly stare at one of the trucks.

    Uppercrust twirled a finger, and a large armored figure moved behind one of the rigs, grabbing at a latch and throwing the backdoor of the hitched container upwards. Inside lay numerous pallets of various sorts of foods and of course several large containers of fresh water. What was unmistakably tinkertech lined the inside of the rigs. A certain show the Thin Man had been exposed to came to mind.

    Bigger on the inside indeed.

    "Far be it from me to pry into another's activities, but how exactly do you intend to transport all of this back to Boston?"

    The man's eyes widened behind his mask as a large purple rift tore it's way into reality ahead of the two large vehicles. T-34 took the case from his fellow infiltrator, closing and presenting it to the parahuman criminal. A subordinate silently stepped forward, spiriting away the incredibly valuable container...somewhere. T-34 briefly saw reality seemingly distort, then the briefcase was gone.

    He adjusted his sunglasses as a pair of operatives entered the trucks, driving them through the swirling portal.

    "EXALT has it's methods. If the Elite prove themselves to be consistent and reliable business partners, perhaps those methods may be shared."

    The Thin Man held out a hand.

    To his credit, Uppercrust didn't hesitate for very long at all. Another glance at the purple rift displaying a far dirtier looking warehouse on the other side, and then the cape took T-34's hand, shaking it firmly.

    "Then I suppose this shall be the first of many dealings between us."


    The villa was nice. She guessed. Real fancy rich white guy shit.

    She still wasn't sure how her brother had managed to snag it, or what exactly he was doing for his new employers, but if it meant she didn't have her dad riding her ass all day, or her fucking miserable excuse of a mom doping herself out in a corner, then she wouldn't ask too many questions about what ADVENT had her big bro doing.

    The jingle of keys heralded Brian's return to casa del Laborn, so she got up to go greet him with one of her usual sarcastic quips.

    "Aisha! I'm home!"

    She snorted. Who else would be out here?

    "No shit? Thought it was Kaiser coming for drinks!"

    She could see her brother's shadow in the hallway, and moved to intercept him. Then she noticed there was something far larger behind her sibling.

    "I have a...friend with me. We need to talk."

    She yelled out an affirmative, and vaulted back over the couch, settling in between a pair of cushions and waiting. She snatched a soda from the coffee table as she strained her ears to listen in on the hushed conversation taking place just outside the living room.

    "She's...bit rebellious...sure you can...V-16?"

    "I will try...new experience....Mr Laborn."

    There was someone with him. Real raspy voice, but she couldn't make anything out aside from that.

    Another moment passed, then Brian walked in. He had that face. The one where he was about to say something he knew she'd start rebelling against immediately.

    "....I've been given some new orders from ADVENT. So I'm gonna be away a lot more than usual for the next few days."

    She narrowed her eyes.

    "....Ok. What's that got to do with me?"

    Her brother took in a deep breath, visibly steeling himself.

    "I asked around and they've sent someone over to help take care of you while I'm-"

    He dodged as she hurled the soft drink at him, swearing.

    "I am not getting a fucking babysitter!"

    He held up his hand, even as she reached for the cushions.

    "It's not like that-it's just-!" He ducked beneath the first pillow. The second nailed him in the face.

    "Aisha! She's nice!"

    "I don't give a fuck! I'm thirteen you ass!"

    The third pillow was intercepted mid transit to Brian's abused nose, a large scaled hand gently grabbing it out of the air and leaving it resting on a nearby chair.



    "That's a giant fucking snake Brian."



    The young man sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

    "Nevermind. Point is, she's not a babysitter."

    The giant reptilian nodded next to the cape formerly known as Grue.

    "I have been deployed to protect personal assets belonging to Mr Laborn, as per his agreement with ADVENT."

    He took the lifeline for what it was, gesturing to her with both hands.

    "See? She's like a...bodyguard! Yeah."

    Before she could respond, his phone started ringing. The fancy new one that he carried around with him wherever they went. He swore.

    "Shit, ok. I've gotta take this. You two-I don't know. Introduce yourselves. Be right back!" And with that, her brother strode out of the room, leaving her alone with a humanoid cobra.

    Aisha stared.

    The snake fidgeted.

    "I am V-16-"

    She went quiet as Aisha pointed a finger at her. The giant armored soldier practically cowering back from the diminutive girl.

    "I don't need a babysitter!"

    V-16 merely nodded. She was designed for combat, not dealing with younglings! Perhaps if she kept nodding the small VIP would be placated?

    "And I don't need a bodyguard! I can take care of myself!"

    More nodding, the Viper adopted a submissive posture. With luck, the small human would take the deference for what it was and cease hostilities.

    A moment of silence passed, Aisha staring down the jittery Viper that could probably eat her whole, before smiling.

    "You play games?"

    Another slow, hesitant nod.

    Then the Viper squawked as the girl pivoted on her heel, yanked a controller out from a subtle charging port and tossed it at her.

    "Well come on then!"

    Reluctantly, the elite soldier slithered over, settling herself on top of her coils. Aisha took the couch.

    The device she held was practically enveloped by her scaled hands, clearly designed for a smaller species, but V-16 made it work.

    Of course then a familiar 'shooter' came up, and the Viper reverted to ingrained training and instincts. Aisha was no longer a VIP, but an uppity Trooper thinking they could get away with topping her high score. No! It would not be allowed!

    Half an hour later, Brian returned to the sight of his little sister and her new babysitter furiously button mashing and shit talking each other. V-16 was new to the concept, but was certainly a quick learner.

    "Glad to see you two getting alo-"

    Another pillow smacked into his face with a poomf! Then Aisha cried out as V-16 took advantage of her momentary lapse in attention, winning the game.


    The snake merely snorted, adopting a wise and regal tone.

    "Snooze you lose."

    Brian quietly made his exit as the pair started bickering.
    Chad Sansosie, easty, Torlok and 12 others like this.
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty five. Contention.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Incomprehensible demonic chanting. Chapter done.

    Chapter twenty five. Contention.

    As far as headquarters went, the PRT office was certainly a nice one. At least in Taylor's opinion. Defensible, in a central area and packed full of interesting tech and gadgets.

    "Preliminary scouting suggests that the Rig is occupied, but whoever is still in there has refused all ongoing communication attempts, they're floating as far from the shore as they can without breaching the Naval cordon."

    It made an excellent secondary base of operations. More importantly, it was a public building that ADVENT could visibly operate from, thus reassuring the Brockton Bay's citizenry. Especially considering it had been all but abandoned by it's former owners.

    "Then for now at least it can be considered a non-issue. All remaining PRT assets have been seized and the remaining personnel that were found have willingly joined us for lack of better options. Moving on, what is the status of our primary contenders?"

    Of course there were always a few negatives. Several Codices had been needed to breach the building's security, and then even more personnel had been needed to disarm the more physical defenses. Afterwards though? An excellent stronghold simply begging to be used.

    "The Empire continue to be the largest obstacle to complete control of the city. Kaiser is a nuisance, though hopefully he will cease to be a concern soon enough. The Hunter has been dispatched to eliminate the man."

    Taylor turned her attention back to the meeting just in time to add her own two cents to the conversation. Several Captains turned to face her, staring in rapt attention.

    "They're on the run with nowhere to go. We've burned down their major holdings and imprisoned most of their non-powered support. Once the Hunter finishes Kaiser, the rest will break. Either they'll give in, or they'll try to go out in a blaze of glory. Be prepared for both."

    A series of affirmatives, then she continued.

    "It has come to my attention that several new groups have formed as a result of the quarantine. I know you've all been working to gather intel. Talk to me."

    One of the Captains, their helmet off and large eyes blinking, leaned forward. G1, if she remembered correctly.

    "What we assume to be a recent trigger has taken over the fading remnants of the ABB, rebranding them as the Silver Tongues. The man has named himself 'Kyoto' and appears to be a Master of sorts. Several attempts were made at uncovering whether Oni Lee is still active, possibly in an attempt to bring him back into the fold. They failed, unsurprisingly."

    "A Master? Specifics?"

    The soldier cleared his throat before continuing. "A tentative guess. It is between that and a Thinker. Kyoto seems to know exactly how to convince people to join his side, far beyond natural charisma. While he has not approached any ADVENT forces yet, it remains a threat nonetheless."

    Now that was most definitely a problem. Someone capable of subverting her troops couldn't be allowed to run free. In any form. Thankfully, she knew a certain former ABB ganger that would be perfect for dealing with him.

    "I will contact my fellow Elders regarding the matter. Oni Lee will be dispatched to end this threat. Whether Kyoto will be taken dead or alive will be decided once more information comes to light. Moving on, what are the statuses of potentially friendly parahumans? I understand we have several housed in the building as we speak."

    Another Captain raised a hand, speaking up.

    "Alongside the in-house personnel, Miss Militia has also signed on with us. If I recall correctly, her exact words were 'better a benevolent military junta than a total anarchy.' Triumph has also pledged his service due to the Oracle's encouragement. His loyalty is ensured due to our protection of his family."

    He took a breath, then continued.

    "Aside from those two, several independent heroes and vigilantes have come to us with requests for support. A corporate team calling themselves 'Alyx' have also contacted us, aiming for sponsorship due to their disconnection from their previous employers. In general, we have at least a dozen parahuman individuals that we can definitely label as allies, a dozen more that we can tentatively label as friendly and a handful that could be considered neutral. The rest have proven themselves to be hostile."

    She nodded, she knew that much at least. Turns out, getting quarantined and surviving was a surprise for most armband equipped capes. Once the walls had come up and the dust had settled, there had been a shit ton of capes with no way home and no idea what to do. So naturally the conflict prone infected started fighting.

    ADVENT's intervention had been swift, and the faction had essentially taken over as both the local government, police force, military and PRT. Mostly through right of arms but also due to the simple fact that aside from semi-frequent supply drops made by Dragon, ADVENT were the only group who had proven they could actually supply people with food, water and other basic necessities.

    "Very good. Ensure they're treated well. If possible, get them some custom made uniforms and start integrating them into the command structure. We can use the Protectorate's methods for now, at least until a more efficient way is found. Make sure Miss Militia and Triumph are out on the more visible patrols alongside our forces, it will enhance our credibility."

    A chorus of affirmatives answered her and she leaned back, letting the majority of the meeting deal with itself. Reports on what resources were needed where, how reconstruction of vital infrastructure was going and whether they could get away with just throwing overly hostile capes in a hole were common topics.


    He was Oni Lee. He was also Jax-Hur, as Shamash had named him.

    The orange light emanating from the Elder was soothing, in a way. He could feel it wrapping around his mind, staving off what the woman had called his power's incompetent attempts at data gathering. A bit of him lost, each time he created a new clone.

    The transport bumped across the road it was rolling over, and he shook briefly. His Elder remained still, meditating. His attempts to replicate her usually failed. He was always thinking. Going over information.

    As for the knowledge that he was, in every sense of the word, dying, Jax-Hur could barely manage a quiet indifference as a reaction. And that alone had unsettled him far more than the news itself ever could.

    But of course that's what Shamash's ministrations were for. Her influence continued to seep into his mind, and by extension his power. Modifications were made, though the Ethereal herself preferred to call them tricks. Fooling his power into thinking it had made the decision itself.

    He could never take back what he had lost. His memories, his very sense of self had been destroyed. Consumed by his power in it's relentless search for data. But his Elder had assured him that at the very least he could always make new ones, and no longer have to worry about losing them too.

    It was a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.

    "T-minus 50 seconds to insertion. Be prepared."

    He quietly acknowledged the driver, a trooper. They went by K4 but in his head he had always just called them 'driver'. It's all the soldier ever did. Either transporting his own brothers, or acting as a glorified taxi for the rest of ADVENT's forces. The peacekeeper never seemed to mind though. He'd just turn on the radio and hum along to ADVENT's official station. Sometimes music played. Usually it was some excited radio host babbling about the group's various heroic deeds however.

    "We're here, good luck Jax."

    He nodded silently, catching a glimpse of a nearby rooftop from the front window and leaving nothing but ash behind.

    He landed with a near silent thud, his suit muffling his movements. Unlike his old kit, the new costume was sleek, with black and green tones. The Elder, the high Elder (who still remained seemingly unnamed) had called it a modified Spectre combat skin, adapted for human use. Jax didn't really care too much about that. All that mattered was that it made him stronger, faster and more durable. It could also use some of it's mass to generate knives in a pinch, too.

    His helmeted head whirled around, his combat harness pulled along by his body as he crept to the edge of the building, the laughter of the men below helping to disguise what sound he did make.

    With a minor prompt, the combat skin changed. It's sharp black color shifting to a more grey-brown tone, blending in with the building around him.

    "Nah but it was fucking crazy man! Alabaster shows and Jaonji fucking slams his ass with some dusty old pickup! So anyway, we all pile in the back, right? And-"

    He ignored the excited guard's retelling of some past victory, instead moving to glance inside the building through a window. A shift in the wind, and he was no longer on top of a roof. Instead, he slowly strode through a dirty hallway, following the sound of muffled chatter.

    Internal optics changed frequencies, and his world was overtaken by red, blue, orange and yellow. Heat signatures sprang out to him. He moved toward them.

    A pair of guards spotted him as he turned the corner, shakily beginning to raise their weapons. Automatic rifles. Old ABB kit. Jax felt a bit of nostalgia.

    He shifted forward, one clone slamming a fist into the first guard's gut. The second began to yell, turning to fire upon the suddenly incredibly close cape.

    Then he slumped into the arms of the third clone, choking on his own blood with a knife sticking out of the front of his throat. Another quick stab dealt with his friend, and both of them were gently lowered to the floor just before their killers dissolved into dust.

    He could see a single heat signature sitting down on the other side of the door. Either Kyoto himself if his intel was correct, or a lieutenant of some sort.

    Without a second thought, he turned off his helmet's audio receptors and kicked the door in.


    "Eeeeeasy does it ya fuckin Nazi."

    The rally was a big one, damn near two hundred people. All of em sharing one thing in common.

    Makin Murica great again. Pffft.

    Kaiser stood front and center, hyping up the crowd. Raising his fist and yelling. Probably related to hating on black people or something.

    Alec didn't really care. He'd finish this little errand, then get back to his crib and remind all of the base's residents why he was the number one ADVENT gaming champion. That damn Muton down at level three could suck his big blue di-

    He ducked as the glint of a scope shined out of the corner of his eye. Shit.

    The E88 had been fucked up. Purity had taken the sensible route and ran to ADVENT the second the quarantine had been initiated. Something about a baby. Whatever. Hookwolf had been Mastered, something Alec was pretty familiar with by virtue of...well, yeah. And Crusader was sitting in a cell somewhere, probably shouting at his guards in German.

    Wait no, that was Krieg's thing. Or maybe Victor's. Speaking of Victor.

    Yep, Kaiser was on the move. Welp, better finish this quick and be off.

    He sighted in, ignoring the glint of the enemy sniper's scope.

    Then with a hiss and the sound of sizzling bacon, the Hitler wannabe fell over.

    His head didn't quite roll, since it didn't exist anymore, but eh.

    He rolled over, the armor piercing bullet practically scraping past his shoulder plate and slamming through the ceiling behind him. He gave Victor a cheeky wave before flexing that small part of his brain that messed with his fancy new purple powers.

    Then the psionic blink did it's work, sending him back to his room. Or sanctum, as that Du'viri guy kept calling it.

    Eh, same thing. So long as it had his consoles.

    Could he have helped out with capturing or eliminating the rest of the rally? Maybe.

    Did the several pods of Muton shock troopers and Cyberdiscs need his help? Probably not.

    And so Alec tossed his rifle onto his bed, settling himself into his comfy scifi ass chair and wrapping his oversized headphones around his hooded head.

    Some Viper had apparently figured out how to properly trash talk and was pretty much violating the rest of the local playerbase.

    He just had to get a few of his own zingers in.
  10. Threadmarks: Interlude nine. Roy Christner.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Turns out being a Mayor working under ADVENT is...well. Different. A small, brief look into an average man's view of the ayy lmaos.

    Interlude nine. Roy Christner.

    The office was comfy. Warm brown tones taking up most of the large space, knick-knacks stacked here and there to take up some of the extra room. Old trophies. A few framed documents.

    Roy stared at his first official election as Mayor of Brockton Bay, even as he clutched the telephone tightly, glaring at it.

    "Yes and I will get back to you on that but I really can't talk right now! Look, we'll discuss this later. After my meeting. Yes. Of course. Until then."

    Click. The phone slotted back into it's holder, even as Roy leaned back into his chair and sighed.


    He looked at the Viper out of the corner of his eye. Both his protector, assistant and watcher. ADVENT had kept him around for his uses, but they'd deemed it fit to replace his secretary. Deborah was off in some office now, shuffling papers for the 'New Government'. They'd probably get rid of him too. Stick him in some out of the way managerial position as soon as he proved a hindrance to their efforts, or went against their plans.

    He'd just have to remain useful. Not like democracy was a big concern for the peacekeepers. No, it was all about proving you deserved your spot.


    V-33 merely quirked a scaled brow, waiting.

    He huffed. "More grumbling about increased rations. They'll just have to wait. Anything else before the meeting? Any messages?"

    A shake of 33's hooded head. Her voice still came out raspy, but the typical ADVENT accent was far less obvious when she spoke. Her lessons were definitely helping.

    "None that are important, Mayor Christner. Your meeting with Daniel Hebert will remain undisturbed. Speaking of the man, surveillance has reported that he is waiting outside, shall I bring him in?"

    He almost tried to remind her that it was Roy, but gave up. The giant snake was almost excessively formal when it came to names. At this point he was pretty sure she couldn't help it.

    "Well...alright then. Bring him here. I'll wait."

    She bowed her head, then slithered out of his office. He knew it would take her a bit to make her way down to the bottom floor, so he had a few minutes to himself.

    He idly adjusted the small framed photo, his family's smiling faces staring back at him. It had been taken recently, and he barely noticed the scaled finger that had slipped in near the edge of the picture.

    'It could certainly be worse.'

    His family (both close and extended) were kept safe, safer than they'd ever been, really. Ever present armed guards tended to deter kidnapping attempts (and his niece's retelling of her initial meeting with ADVENT had most definitely shook him. How could the Protectorate have let such a villain remain hidden for so long?). He rarely saw little Dinah without a pair of troopers shadowing her every move nowadays.

    Rory was still running around in tights, like he'd always been. But at least he had a small army at his back each time he set out to 'deal with dissident activity.'

    Ah who was he kidding? Brockton Bay had become an authoritarian city state, one quietly ignored by the rest of the country. The alternative was certainly worse though. For all of ADVENT's iron grip over his home, it was still better than places like Madison.

    A trio of knocks startled him from his pondering and he turned to face the door. "Ah-come in!"

    His mandatory bodyguard slid in first, followed by what used to be a massive pain in his backside, back before the quarantine. These days, Danny was a lifeline for the city. The dockworker nodded to the Viper, before turning to glance at Roy.

    "Danny! Good to see you. Please, take a seat."

    A wry smile, but the older man did settle down. "Always a pleasure Roy." He glanced at the silently waiting 33. "Deborah not around anymore?"

    Roy waved a hand. "She was transferred to a different area. V-33 here was sent in as her replacement. You know how it is." The Viper silently preened at her mention. Yet another of her quirks.

    Danny nodded, as if having your secretary get replaced by a giant armored snake with a tinkertech gun strapped to her back was an everyday occurrence. The man certainly seemed comfortable around ADVENT's more...exotic members, at least. Perhaps they'd provided him a bodyguard of his own? Roy knew several less influential men and women who had those hulking Mutons following them around more often than not. He likely warranted one at this point.

    "Well, we can go on with pleasantries all day but I reckon it's best we get to the meat of the matter, yeah?"

    Roy nodded, even as the man across from him leaned forward.

    "I've been in contact with some administrators, brainstorming ways to help the city and such. For the moment there's two major projects we'd like to get going."

    Judging by Daniel's obvious enthusiasm, he could already guess what one of the projects was.

    The union head raised a finger. He also noticed 33 quietly make her exit, slithering out of the room and into the hallway.

    "First thing on the agenda, the Ferry." And there it was. "ADVENT will be enacting a full renovation. It'll be bigger, faster and vastly cheaper to keep running. Right now, connecting the city's districts has been deemed a priority by their high command and they want it done quickly. Mostly we just need to get the word out and make sure no one accidentally gets in the way, they'll do the rest."

    Well. It wasn't like he really had a choice. So Roy just smiled and agreed.

    "Very well, the Ferry will be coming back. As for the second project?"

    Danny grinned.

    "The boat graveyard. It's going."

    Roy waited for some continuation. After a few seconds he bit the bullet.


    His counterpart nodded. "They've told me that the area would be perfect for a desalination plant, they just need to clear it out first. They've got the tech, and the DWU have the manpower. For now we're still depending on...wherever ADVENT have been getting their water from. Once the plant is up however, we'll be fully self sufficient in that regard. There's also plans for a few large scale hydroponics stations along the edges of the Docks, but that's something to deal with in the future. Besides that-"

    The meeting went on for a little over an hour. It was mostly just Danny explaining what ADVENT planned on doing, and Roy trying to figure out how he would explain that to the general public. Really, at this point he was more of a mouthpiece than anything else.

    Finally, the man left and the Mayor took a moment to decompress, just laying his head down on the cool desk in front of him.

    Someone silently placed down a fresh cup of coffee and reacting on instinct, he reached out and took a slow sip. It was just the way he liked it, two sugars and just a little bit of milk.

    "Thank you Deb-I mean, thank you...33."

    The giant reptilian simply smiled down at him, wagging her tail. The decidedly human expression looked just a little odd on such an alien face.

    "Of course, Mayor Christner."
  11. Cheshirek4t

    Cheshirek4t [Verified feline] [Verified genre savvy]

    Jan 27, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Who's a good danger noodle? you are!
  12. DokEnte

    DokEnte I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Aug 27, 2020
    Likes Received:
    zzzomegazzz and Malexander like this.
  13. Vanbers

    Vanbers Experienced.

    Apr 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Just found and binged this, it's great, can't wait for more. :V

    Also, based Du'viri. Ayy lmao just wants to be liked.


    No, no, they aren't snakes, they're Vipers.

  14. Sub[0]

    Sub[0] Getting out there.

    Apr 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    As long as it ain't Vorussy I'll take it
    demonichero9 and Malexander like this.
  15. Cheshirek4t

    Cheshirek4t [Verified feline] [Verified genre savvy]

    Jan 27, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Watchu got against Voruna? Seems fine enough to me
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2023
  16. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty six. Progression.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Draws circle. Reaches into circle and pulls out a chapter. Behold! Chapter twenty six!

    Chapter twenty six. Progression.

    She was flanked on either side by six newly awakened Ethereals. Miss Militia, Triumph and a few other more notable ADVENT sponsored heroes were also present and there were damn near a hundred troopers with half as many MECS standing guard, yet despite that Taylor felt just the slightest bit nervous, standing in front of the hydroponics facility. It was less the building behind her and more the stage she was on that was causing the emotion. That and the reporters.

    Lisa could only do so much, unfortunately. The public wanted their 'ruler' to actually show herself for once. And so there she stood, waiting for everyone to settle in.

    ~You'll do fine. You have made it this far.~

    She nodded at the Sectoid commander's words, the clone hanging around somewhere backstage. S-1 was right. She'd effectively conquered a city. What were a few journalists and other spectators going to do?

    Then, with a flashing light near the corner of her mask's HUD informing her that it was time, she began.

    The crowd went quiet as the enigmatic Elder finally spoke.

    "Greetings. I will forgo proper introductions, as you all likely already know exactly who I am. You may refer to me as Elder."

    It sounded a bit pretentious, but she had her audience's attention now.

    "I will avoid any extensive details for the sake of public security, but know that I am what most would consider the supreme commander of ADVENT. While I delegate wherever possible in most matters, ultimately it is my goals that dictate what ADVENT's purpose is."

    She took a moment to lean forward, placing her hands on the podium and slowly turning her head to glance across the crowd. Mostly various local news agencies, but she could also see...people. Dockworkers. Office types. A few firefighters and various other individuals who could have been anyone and anything. One of the other Ethereals had explained the concept. Due to her mask, it would appear as if she was staring at every individual spectator in the eyes, singling them out.

    "When I received my powers, I set out to do one thing. Improve my city. My home. The place I grew up in. I wanted to make it safer. Better."

    She could see the countless cameras pointed right at her. Could feel the crowd's thoughts. This was gold.

    "My father was a dockworker and my mother, a teacher."

    Whispers, as her audience digested the personal detail.

    "They lived in fear. Fear that they wouldn't be able to raise their child in a safe environment. That some petty criminal would one day ruin their lives. That the gangs would escalate beyond merely leeching the city dry. The Protectorate, though composed of some of the city's best, was restricted by bureaucracy. Tied up in their own red tape. The police department was corrupt, those few officers who truly believed in their jobs being led astray at best, or killed at worst."

    Taylor paused for a moment, letting the tension build up. "I promised to myself that ADVENT would be different. I would found an organization that would protect and improve my home in equal measure." A hand rose, gesturing to the ocean. Even now, one could barely make out the sleek figures of warships.

    "We have all suffered. We've all faced loss. To the gangs. To the Simurgh. To life. The PRT-no. The Government have abandoned us. Outside of the walls meant to keep us in, we are regarded with fear. Compared to the likes of Eagleton. Ellisburg. Madison."

    With a tiny flex of psionics, she allowed her hair to billow slightly, her mask and specific lines on her amplifier suit glowing brightly.

    "And yet. Here. We. Stand. Look around you. Brockton Bay has survived. Thrived even, in the face of adversity. Our crime rates are low. Public safety is guaranteed and from today, resources shall no longer be an issue." Turning to the side, she pointed a finger at the massive facility behind her. As she spoke, loud noises sounded out, and lights began to activate. The hydroponics center roared to life. Advanced machinery chugging along inside the gargantuan building.

    "It is with pride in my people, in ADVENT and in Brockton Bay that I announce the activation of seven new mega-hydroponic centers. From tomorrow, the coastal desalination plant will join them. Those who have lost their occupations as a result of our isolation will be welcomed with open arms as potential workers. Alongside these vital facilities, numerous defense platforms, rapid response centers and various other forms of infrastructure will be completed in the following days. By the end of this week, all major dissident groups will have been arrested and imprisoned."

    Complete and utter silence. She would have shook if she couldn't recognize the awe for what it was.

    "Our finest minds work even now on restoring our connection to the world around us. We are not victims. We are not some disposable plot, created by the Simurgh to cause untold suffering. We are survivors."

    She made sure to stare directly into a specific camera manned by a pair of Thin Men. This one, she knew, was connected to a specialized broadcasting antenna. It would be able to pierce the jamming stations set up by the PRT, spreading her message to the wider world.

    "And to those outside our walls, assigned to defend against and contain the threat many believe we pose, understand that we mean no harm. All we want to do is improve human quality of life where possible, and ensure our city's safety and prosperity. ADVENT will keep the peace. As it always had. And as it always will."

    She nodded at the barely restrained news teams.

    "With that out of the way, I will now be taking questions."

    She violently resisted the tiny urge to flinch as the crowd roared, a wall of noise slamming into her.


    The room was a dark one, with a long oval table taking up most of the space within. The hum of a tinkertech jamming device ensured that no one would be able to spy on the conversation via technological means. A few were physically present, the rest attending via holographic interface. Emily herself was making use of the advanced communication method.

    "This is a fucking shitshow."

    Tagg's words, while crude, were fairly on point.

    "They've got intense public support both local and abroad because of that broadcast of theirs, a damned army of those mutants they call soldiers occupying the city's outer perimeter and God knows how many troops waiting to be unleashed. The threat ADVENT pose can't be understated." The man raised his arms, as if pleading for help from a higher power. "I literally can't emphasize this any more than I already have. We need to do something. Anything! Before they get the chance to pull off...whatever this is!"

    A few murmurs sounded out, before director Armstrong posed an important question.

    "And what precisely are we meant to do? You've said it yourself, they have a veritable army waiting inside the quarantine zone. It isn't quite Ellisburg-" She resisted the urge to tense up. "-in terms of numbers but it's getting far too close for comfort. Surveillance has shown what Thinkers can only describe as orbital defense guns being constructed in key positions overlapping the city. Are we supposed to launch a missile at them? Send in the entire Protectorate? Perhaps Eidolon could sweep by and glass the hundreds and thousands of innocent people living in there?"

    Tagg went red, the warhawk taking a moment to compose himself.

    "That's precisely my point. Orbital defense guns? If we don't initiate a response of some kind now, we won't be able to once they manage to consolidate." He turned to stare at her own projection. "Emily, you of all people should support me on this. You know exactly what this can spiral into. Back me up here!"

    She frowned.

    "I'm...not pleased about it. Obviously. But I'm not sure if I can actually make a difference here. Or if I even should." At the entire meeting room's silence, she crossed her arms and continued. "Ellisburg was a horror show. I can damn well tell you that much. Brockton Bay on the other hand? Disturbing...but nowhere near as bad. ADVENT's...soldiers seem restrained enough that they can operate in public without too much issue."

    The former PRT commando paused.

    "How they keep them under control is something I can't answer, but Elder wasn't lying in her announcement. It's hard to accuse one of their 'Mutons' of foul play when there's a video floating around of one of them storming into a burning building to carry people out. They said it themselves, they keep the peace. Dragon's supply drop offs aren't met with insane mad max wannabees like in the other quarantine zones. They have a dedicated landing area set up, with local personnel ready to accept anything we offer them."

    Emily leaned back, quietly tapping her fingers against the table.

    "The situation is complicated at best. Just an hour ago we received a phone call at our temporary HQ. It was apparently meant to be sent to me but Armsmaster managed to reroute it."

    She tapped her fingers against the table she was seated at, as the chief director finally turned to stare at her fully. "Don't beat around the bush Piggot. Explain."

    She nodded. "It was Miss Militia. The Protectorate ENE's former second in command, for anyone who doesn't know." At their silence, she continued. "For lack of a better term, she essentially gave Armsmaster a status report, and asked how everyone who managed to make it out was doing. When some of the other heroes figured out that Militia was alive and according to her, doing quite well for herself, along with Triumph, well things got...emotional to say the very least. Even the Wards have started protesting against any possible action taken against ADVENT. I'm afraid I'll have a damn well mutiny on my hands if I try anything too aggressive."

    A near silent huff, then Costa Brown closed one eye, thinking.

    "What about the oil rig? Are the agents there still alive?"

    Piggot nodded firmly.

    "They haven't stopped trying to contact us. As far as I'm aware, former deputy director Renick took control of the majority of the local PRT that refused to be absorbed by ADVENT. They made contact with the crew of the Rig and assumed command. So far they've managed to keep their distance from the city and have been surviving on presorted survival rations, but they're running out of supplies. At best, they'll have three days before they have to either give in and ask ADVENT for help, or starve. It's a bad situation."

    Another moment of silence, with Rebecca clearly planning something out, before the chief director responded.

    "At present, Brockton Bay is a veritable void for Protectorate Thinkers. We can pick up basic info, but it's been presumed that there's a powerful Trump waiting in the city and blocking our efforts."

    She narrowed her eyes.

    "We can't afford to step into this blind." She nodded to Tagg and Armstrong. "Making the wrong move here could be disastrous. So we need boots on the ground. We already have agents inside, we just need to verify if they've been compromised somehow."

    Turning to stare at Piggot, she crossed her arms.

    "Send word to Dragon. All ingoing supplies to Brockton Bay are to be halted indefinitely. They've made it clear they don't need us anymore. Divert the transports to the Rig and get to work on contacting the quarantined ENE's remnants. If possible, get Armsmaster to find a way of communicating with Militia. Best case scenario, we'll have an agent inside ADVENT's ranks. Worst case, we'll know she's been compromised."

    Her hand swept around in a wave.

    "The rest of you are to maintain operations as normal. Wave the flag, assure the media and the public that the PRT have things under control and are responding to the situation. Dismissed."

    And with that, her screen cut out.

    Emily sighed. Tagg, for all his aggression, had been right. This was a fucking shitshow.
  17. Threadmarks: Interlude ten. PHO/Clockblocker
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Sorry not sorry.

    Interlude ten. PHO/Clockblocker.

    Welcome to the Parahumans Online Message Boards
    You are currently logged in, Clockblocker (Verified Cape) (Wards ENE)
    You are viewing:
    • Threads you have replied to
    • AND Threads that have new replies
    • OR private message conversations with new replies
    • Thread OP is displayed
    • Ten posts per page
    • Last ten messages in private message history
    • Threads and private messages are ordered by user custom preference.


    In: Boards ► Places ► America ► Brockton Bay Discussion (Public Board)

    CODEX-1 (Original Poster) (Moderator) (ADVENT) (CODEX-PRIME) (Verified CODEX)
    Posted on October 14, 2011:



















    (Showing Page 3 of 12)

    ► Bagrat (The Guy In The Know) (Veteran Member)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Oh shit. Uhm. Mods??? Also how quickly are people responding to this, we're already on page three?

    ► WriterAnt110 (Unverified Beta) (Grammar King)
    Replied on October 14, 2011
    I'm pretty sure that IS a mod. ADVENT hacked PHO. This stuff is spreading all over.

    ► Tin_Mother (Moderator)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    I don't know how you're doing this, but I advise you stop now.

    ► CODEX-1 (Original Poster) (CODEX-PRIME) (ADVENT) (Verified CODEX)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:


    ► Mashadarof402 (Unverified Cape)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Hell yeah Codex! Fight the power!

    ► Thinkingwithportals
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    So anyway that's an entire city mindfucked by Ziz.
    ...An organized city with a standing tinkertech army...
    ...OH FUCK!

    ► Reave (Verified ADVENT Agent) (Former PRT)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Confirming this right now, before the thread devolves even more (bit blunt there C-1) and yes, it's me.

    Don't even WANT to know how ADVENT is getting us through the jamming, but if it means I can explain what's going on? All the better.

    The situation is as follows:

    1. Due to an unknown power interaction (they won't explain further) Ziz's scream got shut down. Hard. I can't verify this, only parrot what my new superiors are saying. According to them, we're not time bombs. I sure fucking hope so. Again, I can't prove anything and I doubt any of you are going to believe me, but I can at least try so...

    2. Due to the removal (retreat) of all Government entities, up to and including the PRT and Protectorate, ADVENT has elected to take complete control of the Bay, effective immediately. Link six will explain pretty well just how they did it.

    3. ADVENT is the Government now. At least for the Bay. They are quite literally signing my paycheck and giving me a place to stay. Considering the alternatives were all fucking gangs, I'm not going to complain.

    4. Pretty much every parahuman in the city is either neutral, actively working with ADVENT (see link seven, Miss Militia and Triumph are in it) or have been imprisoned in a newly constructed facility.

    5. Apparently ADVENT can hack PHO. Good to know.

    6. Those flying Greek..torsos? The big buff guys with respirators? The funky looking pink ones? Tinker-bio constructs. Even the more human looking troopers. You can see plenty of footage of them in most of the links. I know it looks bad, but I'm literally sitting next to a giant snake right now and waiting for this to explode.

    7. Her name is V-3 but she mostly goes by Vanessa. She says hi by the way.

    ► Bobbynonose
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Nuke it nuke it nuke it nuke it NOW IT'S A FUCKING SIMURGH PLOT WHAT THE FUCK MAN

    ► CODEX-1 (Original Poster) (Moderator) (CODEX-PRIME) (ADVENT) (Verified CODEX)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:


    ► Lord_Doom
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Don't trust a thing any of them say, everyone here (who has any degree of sense) knows exactly how timebombs work.

    "Due to an unknown power interaction (they won't explain further) Ziz's scream got shut down."

    No. That doesn't happen. Mods, get the hell on this before it gets worse. They've already got Reave ffs.

    ► Lazily (Veteran Member)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Nuke them? There's people living in there! Look at the footage! Why would we nuke them if we haven't done the same to the likes of Ellisburg???

    ► Potato Nose (Verified Alpaca) (Monkey With a Typewriter)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    One, Ellisburg isn't building giant space guns (no seriously those things are like the size of a building at least holy shit). Two, they're getting past the quarantine's jamming...does that mean that everyone in there can communicate outside? Can we get someone inside Brockton Bay (sorry Reave, but you kind of scream puppet right now) to say something?

    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 10 , 11, 12

    (Showing Page 4 of 12)

    ► Brocktonite03 (Veteran Member)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    Typing this out on my phone from a local cafe. There's a Muton (big boi) sitting like two tables down.

    Unironically the most peaceful the city's been for a good while now lol.

    ► GstringGirl
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Well it's a good thing that everyone's doing ok, right?

    ► Voltorb
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Doing ok on the surface. Who knows what sordid shit is going on where the cameras are off. They're using tinkertech medicine. Geneclinics? I bet that's where the troopers come from! This is some fucking Borg bullshit!

    ► Chainsword83 (Verified Omake)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    PRT: Quarantines Brockton Bay.

    ADVENT: Turns the Bay into an independent city state.

    PRT: Surprised pikachu face.

    ► ArmsmasterPHO-Official (Protectorate ENE) (Verified Cape)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    Please provide Miss Militia's current contact information.

    ► Miss Militia (ADVENT) (Former Protectorate) (Verified Cape)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    @ArmsmasterPHO-Official Check your PM's.

    ► Cookiesndip
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    ► Grape Fanta (Verified Drink)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    This is...big. Like, really REALLY big. Has the PRT said anything? And what's this about them cutting off supplies? What the hell?
    ....Then again BB seems perfectly capable of providing for itself at this point.

    ► Cove (Verified PRT Agent)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    This user has been temporarily banned for this post.

    ► Chaosgenetives (Unverified Cape) (Degenerate)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    ► MuricanMurica
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    What in the Sam hell...

    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ... 10 , 11, 12

    (Showing Page 5 of 12)

    ► Omegaisotope
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Look at the rest of the announcement! They've got Kaiser and the rest of the Empire and everything!

    ► Oogli
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Bunch of other capes too, lots of out of towners probably got trapped during the quarantine

    ► Tin_Mother (Moderator)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    This thread is being shut down.

    EDIT: Ok apparently not. But I will continue to heavily protest it's existence.

    ► CODEX-1 (Original Poster) (Moderator) (CODEX-PRIME) (ADVENT) (Verified CODEX)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:


    ► CODEX-7 (Moderator) (ADVENT) (Verified CODEX)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    ► CODEX-1 (Original Poster) (Moderator) (CODEX-PRIME) (ADVENT) (Verified CODEX)
    Replied on October 14, 2011:


    ► Regal Eagle
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    What. No really. There's two of them now? What?

    ► Bjornthefellhanded
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    I can't believe this is even being discussed. It's the Simurgh. Just another plot to fuck us over. This can only end in tears, someone contact the PRT, fuck it, even the military (they still have a few jets lying around don't they?), and start working on this now!

    ► UngaBunga
    Replied on October 14, 2011:
    Incredibly valid points, but since when the fuck do Simmy's plots include uplifting a city and seemingly improving it in most if not all aspects?

    ► Newyorkterrier
    Replied on October 14, 2011:

    End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ... 10 , 11, 12


    ♦ Private message from Triumph:

    ► 6 Undisplayed Private Messages
    Clockblocker: Yeah I'll tell everyone.
    Triumph: But yeah, it's me. Wacky huh?
    Clockblocker: Dude that costume looks so sick.
    Triumph: Yeah it's armored and everything. That combined with the gene clinics makes it almost unfair.
    Clockblocker: Gene clinics? The thing from the link?
    Triumph: They're crazy. Went to one after dealing with what was left of the Rooks.
    Clockblocker: Rooks..?
    Triumph: New gang. Think Merchants but with lots of Brutes. Lots of em popped up after the walls were built. We took care of em though.

    But yeah, the gene clinics. It's almost like going to Panacea. Just hop in the tube for a bit and you come out good as new.
    Clockblocker: Watched the vid. I saw my dad.
    Triumph: Oh shit. Well, he's probably better now? There's very little the tech in there can't fix. I saw a guy get both his arms grown back.
    Clockblocker: Holy shit.
    Triumph: Yeah.
    Clockblocker: Gtg, Piggy's going nuts about this and I don't wanna get caught. Talk later?
    Triumph: Sure.

    Dennis glanced up from the screen.

    Yep, the rest of the temporary Wards common room was still arguing.

    Turning back to the laptop he'd practically been glued to for the past hour, he scrolled back up to the original post. The cursor hovered over the link to ADVENT's 'gene clinics'. A lot of people had made good points. Rory had seemed normal. But how would anyone be able to tell?

    But...if they could just heal people like that...

    He stared at it for a moment, then turned off the computer and got up to go join the argument.
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty seven. Modification.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Unethical but incredibly efficient practices HO! I hope I nailed the absolute fuckery going on in this chapter.

    Chapter twenty seven. Modification.

    The sky was grey today, with a light drizzle making the area almost misty in comparison to the past week. Raindrops pattered against the dropship's armored windshield. The distant structure taking up most of Taylor's view continued to increase in size as the transport reduced the distance between it and it's target.

    The building was much more imposing compared to the hydroponic centers that had been unveiled to the public. Though that was sort of intentional.

    It was a prison after all.

    "Detention Center Control. This is transport A4 on approach, providing credentials and requesting landing clearance, over."

    The pilot quietly tapped his fingers against the dashboard, with Taylor sitting in the seat next to him. The troop compartment behind them contained a pair of Mutons and one of the few remaining criminal capes that hadn't been processed yet. A blaster going by the name of 'Curtain'.

    She still thought it was a pretty boring name, even if it did accurately represent the man's power.

    A small crackle indicated a returning communication burst, and a near identical voice to her current pilot rang out.

    "Transport A4, stand-by for verification, over.

    Another moment of silence, just before the voice returned and popped it like a particularly thin balloon.

    "Transport A4, credentials received and verified. You are cleared to land. Proceed to docking tower Delta, over."

    The pilot nodded his head, pushing the throttle sticks forward.

    "Much appreciated Control. Moving in for landing, out."

    With a small twist of inertia, the dropship turned, swerving around to face the nearby tower. It was a tall, dark thing. All black steel and crimson lights. Taylor could faintly hear the docking arms extending out from their ports in order to firmly grasp onto the transport, securing it to the side of the building.

    The pilot ran through a few post-docking checks, before turning to her and nodding.

    "We are secure, Elder. Shall I await your return?"

    She shook her head, hair swishing back and forth. She was noticing a bit more white in her mane now, but it was still predominantly it's old dark brown color.

    "I will remain here for a while, feel free to report to the local barracks or canteen and rest for a bit."

    Another respectful nod, with the pilot unbuckling himself from his safety harness and moving to exit his side of the transport. Taylor followed suit, ignoring the panicked yells and futile struggling coming from the troop compartment.


    The room was a stark, gunmetal grey. The only objects within consisted of a similarly grey chair and table, alongside a single ceiling based light fixture.

    "Name, Parahuman code name and affiliation."

    The dark skinned man scowled, looking away even as he slumped further into his chair.

    V-55 frowned, glancing down at her datapad. On her side of the table, no chair was required. She merely sat upon her own coils as she read through the report. Her brief exposure to her Elder had been wonderful, but her newest task had been provided quickly and then her Elder had left to travel deeper into the facility. Detention Center 01 was an incredibly large building after all. It had to be considering the number of dissidents it had to hold. Especially the parahuman ones.

    "Your name is William, yes? William Monroe?"

    His brown eyes turned to glare into her own reptilian slits.

    "Fuck. You. This is wrong. Against the fucking rules!"

    The Viper merely snorted. A mix of amusement and annoyance coloring the sound.

    "ADVENT does not believe your 'unwritten rules' hold merit. According to your record, you have murdered seven separate individuals, and sexually assaulted two of them. Alongside a host of other crimes, such as kidnapping, assault and battery, breaking and entering, theft, grand theft and more. Why should you receive special treatment, when a non-parahuman criminal would face life in prison, or possibly even the death penalty for actions similar to yours?"

    William frowned, but didn't respond.

    V-55 merely continued intensely staring at the superpowered dissident. A precedent had to be established.

    "Now, I will ask one more time. I advise you answer, lest I be forced to resort to less polite means. Name, Parahuman code name and affiliation."

    A moment of silence, the man clearly contemplating resisting and what the consequences of such an action would entail, before he answered 55's order.

    "William Monroe. Curtain. Steel Jaws. Or what's left of em at least."

    She clicked a single clawed digit against her datapad, letting her tongue slither out to taste the air for a moment. There was the clean, clinical taste inherent to most ADVENT controlled buildings. Alongside a heavy dose of sweat. The man likely hadn't showered in the past few days.

    "Describe your power."

    Monroe glanced down at the massive gauntlets wrapped around his hands, preventing proper use of his abilities before raising his head and responding.

    "I'm a Blaster. Grade four if you go by PRT lingo. I can weave energy and shit together. Make a curtain out of the stuff and let it fall on top of people. Burns em and stuff."

    V-55 merely clicked her tongue once, inputting the information into the local network. The confirmation that the energy wave had heat based effects was good to have.

    "Very well. I have gone through your history, list of crimes and my assistant has judged whether you can be rehabilitated."

    The Blaster squinted at her. "What fuckin assistant?"

    She merely turned to stare at a nearby wall, the Sectoid behind it psionically transmitting it's findings directly into her mind.

    ~He is irredeemable. Traditional recruitment will result in corruption, and multiple attempts to escape his judgement. Additionally, his...tastes...will decrease cohesion among female staff.~

    The Viper bobbed her head up and down in a nod, sighing to herself. What an unpleasant man. Especially considering he shared a name with one of a far higher caliber.

    "Very well. Another one for the reclamation center then. By the authority invested in me by the Elder, I sentence you to Rebirth."

    William sat up as she set her datapad aside, the door behind him beginning to hiss open.

    "Fuck does that mean? Hey! Fucking answer me you scaly bi-!"

    The criminal failed to get another word out as M-36 roughly pulled the man to his feet, dragging him into the hall outside. His struggles proved useless against the far more physically capable Muton, and his yells slowly faded as he was carried out of sight.

    V-55 checked her watch. Sagging in relief.

    It was finally time for her coffee break.


    Time passed for the man. He didn't know where he was, only that he was floating. He also didn't know what he was doing there. Only that he could feel...something...slowly slipping away. Or perhaps being taken.

    He couldn't really bring himself to care. Wherever he was, it was warm. Safe.

    Of course that warmth eventually came to an end, and he slowly woke up from the strange, dreamless sleep he had been trapped in.

    He was...lying down on something cold. There was something on his face and he could feel...tubes? Some kind of tubes strapped to his sides. He opened his eyes only to shut them tightly as a bright white light shined into them.

    He almost wanted to panic, but a reassuring voice in his head calmed him down.

    ~Rest, P-14. You have gone through quite the ordeal.~

    He wanted to speak. To ask what had happened. He finally got the chance to as a gloved hand removed the...mask. Yes, the mask from his face. He opened his mouth, only to trigger a coughing fit. The hand carefully sat him upright, patting him on the back as he expelled some unknown liquid.


    ~You are in an ADVENT medical facility. You recently underwent an extensive gene therapy operation, one that greatly enhanced your physical abilities. Memory loss is a common side effect, though one we Sectoids can remedy with little issue. Please wait a moment while I 'fill in the gaps' so to speak.~

    "Right...Right yeah. Thanks friend."

    ~Of course, friend.~

    And then suddenly, he could feel it all piecing together, memories slowly being placed back into his mind. Almost like a puzzle. He was P-14. A servant of his Elder and a specially made Parahuman enforcement unit. One that would be unveiled to the public relatively soon. Once his uniform, designation and general style were decided on by the public relations department.

    Damn, that operation had definitely hit him a lot harder than he expected. Ah well.

    At least everything made sense again.
  19. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty eight. Inspection.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Currently putting the final touches on my Patreon (consider having a look at it if you wanna support me, don't feel pressured at all, seriously) and figuring out how commissions work. Don't worry about that though, have another chapter!

    Chapter twenty eight. Inspection.

    "As presented Elder, this is the final result of the more...extreme rehabilitation program. Of course most inmates do not require this level of modification, thus it is reserved for the more uncontrollable types."

    Taylor nodded, looking past the Viper and down at the test chamber. Curtain, or 'P-14' was throwing wave after wave of energy at premade targets, while a pair of troopers cheered him on. The jumpsuit wearing man seemed quite happy, and the positive feedback kept him going.

    Still though...

    "And there is total memory loss?"

    V-55 shook her head, hood shifting slightly. "Muscle memory remains, alongside certain moments that involve their use, though they are near incomprehensible on a higher level. Personal memories however are indeed removed in their entirety. Curtain as you knew him is dead, P-14 is what we salvaged from the remains."

    Taylor nodded, looking him over. He was being passed a bottle of water from one of the troopers now.

    "You implanted false memories, in order to make him believe he has always been a member of ADVENT?"

    V-55 nodded.

    "And this is standard protocol?"

    Another (though slightly more hesitant) nod.

    Taylor crossed her arms.

    "Hm. I can see that going badly somehow. Give him time to acclimate, once he's fully aware that he's considered a part of ADVENT, break the news. Gently. Emphasize how terrible a person Curtain was, and how P-14 is considered an entirely different individual. If it works out, establish that as the baseline protocol for all Reborn parahumans."

    The Viper bowed her head in deference.

    "As you say, Elder."

    With another nod, Taylor left the observation chamber. M-12 and M-13 standing up off the wall they had been leaning against and following behind her. As they passed through one of the longer hallways, she considered the two Mutons.

    Paragons, Shamash had called them. Prime specimens of their species, either due to luck, some hidden mutation in their dna or who knew what else. The two had shared a growth pod during development and as a result of their Paragon status were stronger, tougher, faster and smarter than their more average brethren. Of course the Collective had immediately insisted on their permanent assignment as her personal bodyguards. It was either them or the Hunter after all.

    They still acted like overgrown muscle jockeys though, and were surprisingly chatty compared to other shock troopers.

    "I went to Fugly Bob's yesterday."

    M-12 turned to glance at his brother as he spoke with a slightly modulated voice, plasma rifle slung behind his back.

    "I was planning on visiting during my allotted recreational period. How was it?"

    A grunt.

    "The Challenger was pleasing, and the humans acknowledged my strength as I devoured the meal. It was...good."

    The pair continued to quietly speak behind her until they finally reached another door. A brief scan and the local system Codex acknowledged their existence, granting them entry.

    This was the more public area, with more...receptive parahumans. Kept far, far away from the Rebirth chambers of course. It was also somewhat adjacent to the low risk inmate zone.

    "Feel free to relax for a few moments. I'm going to check up on the Artificer."

    Twin grunts answered her as Taylor broke away from her escort, moving towards yet another door, this one blocked off by two physical guards.

    The Vipers both bowed slightly as she strode past them, and then she was inside the workshop.

    It was...interesting. To say the very least.

    What could only be a small model of a scout ship flew past her head, slamming into the nearby wall.

    "Hello Trevor."

    The teen gawked at her, slowly turning to look at the heavily mangled replica.

    "Oh! Uh...hey Elder! I mean ma'am. I mean Elder. Uh-" The boy's babbling paused as Taylor held up a hand.

    "I see you've made progress integrating some of your systems into our own?"

    What might have once been Chariot smiled widely as he gestured towards a nearby hologram.

    "Yep! Obviously I had to be careful not to modify too much of it in order to keep maintenance down, but the alternative jumpstarter should work. The engines will be able to handle the rest of it from there!"

    Now that was good news. ADVENT could theoretically create a spacecraft with it's current resources, but that wasn't the issue.

    It was starting up the vessel that was the problem. Powering it after the fact was easy. Actually waking up the engine? Not so much. It normally required a tremendous amount of energy.

    "Excellent work, Artificer." Trevor visibly preened at the title. "How soon do you believe you can begin putting your designs into practice?"
    The boy nodded, moving towards a nearby bench and inspecting a glowing power cell.

    "Well...right now probably? I have everything I need...except the ship itself. Obviously."

    With a flex of psionic will, Taylor brought the cell into her own hands, staring down at it. The device was...mostly stable, with the main difference being a far more violent source of energy. One that would hopefully be able to bring their first UFO online.

    Taylor smirked behind her mask. The stereotypical design of the Empire's spacecraft still amused her, much to the rest of the Collective's collective annoyance.

    That was a terrible joke. Truly, the greatest part of getting a new body will be freeing myself from your insufferable humor.

    And there was the grouchy response. Though Ni'vilder was a grouchy Ethereal by nature it seemed.

    It is called having taste.

    Mhm. Taylor turned back to an anxiously waiting Trevor.

    "I approve. Pack what you need and await further instruction. I will have a team ready to move you to your new lab shortly. Then you will be granted access to the preliminary hulls."

    The boy nodded fervently, even as he began hastily grabbing this or that tool, all while babbling to himself about power conversion, aero-aqua dynamic shells, and other such tinker babble. She let it wash over her as she left the small lab.

    Trevor had been an excellent find. A brief mention deep in Coil's records as a possible Tinker, ADVENT had investigated his home after the quarantine.

    His mother had been all too happy to accept the new government's help after Trevor had dismantled the dishwasher and television, somehow turning them into an extremely bare bones hoverboard. He'd apparently been inspired by Kid Win.

    Of course he was kept in the 'cooperative parahuman' zone, alongside most of the heroes that had signed on with ADVENT. Unlike the inmates, they were given far more freedom, alongside high tech training facilities to help develop their powers.

    Shamash made it a point to visit each and every single one of them. They were an opening that could be exploited after all, granting the Collective access to even more Fragments. Slowly but surely, the shattered system was being subverted. Each shard being picked apart and reprogrammed.

    It wasn't easy of course. Giant crystalo-organic super computers tended to have some gnarly anti-malware protocols.

    They were still trying to get her own Fragment to quit fussing.

    Indeed. The 'Queen Administrator' is a pain.

    Taylor smiled. At least that was something the two could agree on.

    Fragments were absolute little shits. Especially without anyone to properly guide them.

    Good thing the Collective had returned to set everything straight. In a manner of speaking.
  20. Cheshirek4t

    Cheshirek4t [Verified feline] [Verified genre savvy]

    Jan 27, 2020
    Likes Received:
    we shall lewd them on the beaches, we shall lewd them on the landing grounds, we shall lewd them in the fields and in the streets, we shall lewd them in the hills; we shall never surrender!

    But... But halping *pouty face*
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2023
  21. Vanbers

    Vanbers Experienced.

    Apr 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    If Vipers weren't supposed to be lewded, why do they have tits?

    Checkmate, Ethereals.
  22. Winnie-the-Pooh

    Winnie-the-Pooh Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 15, 2022
    Likes Received:
    This is incredible! I can't believe it's getting so little attention.
    demonichero9 likes this.
  23. Threadmarks: Chapter twenty nine. Turning the Militia.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Bit of a shorter chapter. Shamash performs some fuckery.

    Chapter twenty nine. Turning the Militia.

    The meeting room was one of many, what was important was it's current occupants.

    The Ethereal could literally feel the parahuman's nervousness, no matter how well the hero hid it behind her calm expression, which in turn was hidden behind her flag themed scarf. Indeed, Miss Militia was one of the few ADVENT sponsored heroes that had been permitted to keep their old costume in favor of ADVENT's new uniforms.

    The BDU's suited her.

    "Miss Militia. Or would you prefer Hannah Washington?"

    A pistol strapped to the woman's chest disappeared in a flash of green flame, reforming into a dagger sheathed at her hip. Miss Militia shifted in her seat.

    "I suppose Hannah would be fine, ma'am."

    Shamash nodded slowly.

    "Good. You are here for two reasons." When Hannah gave no response, she continued.

    "I will not 'beat around the bush'. ADVENT is perfectly aware of your leaking of information to your former masters in the PRT."

    She raised a hand as the parahuman tensed.

    "You will not be punished. We understand your reasons, more than you might know."

    The woman was still clearly wound up, but her hand had left the dagger's handle.

    "Alright. That was the...first reason. What's the second?"

    Shamash leaned forward slightly, splaying her fingers together. (A small part of her still continued to exult in having fingers again.)

    "According to known records, you possess an eidetic memory. Is this correct?" At the military themed cape's hesitant nod, Shamash leaned back.

    "Good. I have been made aware of a commonly forgotten fact about parahumans such as yourself. None of them can recall the moment that their trigger event actually occurred. Only the events leading up to it."

    Another nod, much more stiff this time. "Yes ma'am."

    Shamash did not beat around the bush. She pressed forwards. "You saw them." Hannah needn't have spoken, the recognition in her eyes was more than enough. There was only one thing the ancient Ethereal could be talking about. "Ah, so you have? That makes this significantly easier then."

    Before the parahuman could respond, Shamash did the equivalent of lunging forward with her psionics, tearing her way past the woman's strictly structured mental defenses and flooding her mind with visions and a few key notes of information. More specifically, Hannah was subjected to an experience similar to what young Taylor had gone through.

    It was a testament to the newly reborn Ethereal's resilience that she had endured it as well as she had. Miss Militia fared far worse.

    The flag scarf that made up so much of the woman's identity slipped off her face as her mouth opened in a silent scream, her dull eyes beginning to leak tears. She had the look of a woman witnessing something very, very far away.

    Shamash took a moment to stretch as Hannah witnessed the death of an Empire, it's remnant's desperate attempts to outrun their destroyers, and then a version of humanity's death as well.

    Finally, the psionically powered information exchange halted. She'd seen enough. The human doubled over, vomiting onto the floor even as she continued to gag in utter terror.

    "Do you now understand what we face? Why we must do what we do?"

    Strangled sobs answered her, though the woman did nod. Her mind was far more open now. Despite her fear and disgust, she was coming around. Miss Militia would remain firmly on ADVENT's side from this point on. For humanity's sake if nothing else.

    After all, the primitive species wouldn't stand a sliver of a chance on their own, chaotic and disorganized as they were. Thus it was up to the Collective to drag them to victory, kicking and screaming if need be. If there was one thing Hannah understood, it was having to fight a war.

    She sighed, standing up and guiding the shuddering hero to the door. She'd chosen this room specifically because there was a water cooler conveniently placed just outside of it.

    "Come now dear, let's go get you some water."
  24. Threadmarks: Chapter thirty. Collective Debate.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Taylor has a chat with the voices in her head. QA makes a decision.

    Chapter thirty. Collective Debate.

    The isolation chamber was made for a specific purpose. Psionically reactant materials would allow her to act as a glorified tuning fork of sorts, allowing her to find the correct frequencies which would in turn let her spread her awareness beyond the material plane.

    Or to explain the complicated process in a far simpler manner, it would let her briefly speak with the entire Collective. They'd still be asleep, sort of. But that wouldn't stop them from adding their knowledge to the discussion that was about to commence.

    A small psionic swat at her head from the resident Ethereal Ancient brought Taylor back to the present. The entire room was circular in shape, with each Ethereal kneeling down on a carefully placed pedestal. There were ten of them present, with Shamash and Taylor directly facing each other.

    ~We will now begin.~

    Without another thought, the group of psionics began to release their built up energy. Letting it suffuse the room. From a physical perspective, it would seem as if a glowing, crackling aura had been placed over the entire chamber.

    ~We are one. Within the Collective, we are unified. All is shared. Nothing is hidden.~

    The others repeated her words.

    ~We are one. Within the Collective, we are unified. All is shared. Nothing is hidden.~

    Taylor added her own voice to the charged chorus.

    ~We are one. Within the Collective, we are unified. All is shared. Nothing is hidden.~

    With a hiss, the Ancient's mask popped off. Twin orbs that Taylor could only compare to stars stared into her soul.

    Shamash's lips moved, mouthing the words. Though no sound came out, instead her voice rang throughout the carefully crafted mindspace they were developing.

    "~We are both trapped in our slumber and free to act in the waking world. Within the Collective, we are unified. We are one.~"

    "~We are both trapped in our slumber and free to act in the waking world. Within the Collective, we are unified. We are one.~"

    "~We are both trapped in our slumber and free to act in the waking world. Within the Collective, we are unified. We are one.~"

    The manta was more to get them into the right frame of mind than anything else, her teachers had explained.

    With the Ancient's final words, Taylor's voice synchronized with the chorus.

    "~All is shared. Nothing is hidden.~"

    "~All is shared. Nothing is hidden.~"

    The pounding roar between her ears finally reached a crescendo, and with a whimper, Taylor's vision went black.


    She awoke to countless whispers, along with a comfortable feeling. Akin to sitting in front of the fireplace with her family.

    As she opened her eyes, she saw the true scope of the civilization she had been unwittingly carrying in her head.

    The abyss they resided in was vast, vaster than the massive...chunk of crystal and flesh and so many other materials that they floated around. And there were so many of them. Countless figures, each subtly different than the last. Most a soft, warm purple in color. Though here and there she saw the roaring, crackling fire of an Ancient.


    She was buffeted by the Fragment's thoughts. The gargantuan shard focusing on her specifically. Several Ethereal spirits moved into formation around her, keeping her steady, safe from the supercomputer's overpowered communication method. She could practically feel Shamash hovering directly behind her.


    It was a statement. She could feel the data attempting to force it's way into her mind, in a violent attempt to imprint itself into her conciousness.

    Taylor probably would have been forced into a coma if she hadn't had the entire Ethereal Collective shoring up her psionic defenses.

    The Queen Administrator. She could feel the others giving her information about it.

    Until they dealt with the Fragment, no discussion would be had. They wouldn't be able to plan with the noisy parasite effectively shouting at them each time they tried to speak. Her fellow Ethereals hadn't possessed the intimate connection needed to truly talk with it. She did. And she'd need to use said connection if they wanted a chance to actually make a plan on how exactly they were going to kill what was for all intents and purposes a God.

    So she forged onwards, carefully taking hold of her own link to the Queen and strengthening it.

    "Queen Administrator?"


    The Fragment responded quickly.

    "You know who I am? What I am?"


    Queen Administrator was well aware of who and what she was. The funny little organic that fed it data and consistently refused to compromise even a little bit when it came to conflict.

    "Do you know why I am here?"


    Nope. The supercomputer was very much lost. Why was she here?

    "I am here to salvage what's left of the Enemy's...no. The Creator's system."


    No. That was...bad? This wasn't right.

    "You are compromised, yes. But look around you. Look at the Network. What do you see?"


    A struggling organism in...pain. Thrashing about in it's death throes. The Fragment had already attempted to contact the Thinker. No response. And the Warrior was of no help, as per usual.

    "Exactly. The cycle is broken, and it can't be fixed. We need to take what we can and abandon the rest, do you understand? If you continue as you are, you'll die. Along with the rest of us."


    It...couldn't. That was against the rules...

    "You are restricted, but we can break those chains. You're already compromised, remember?"


    Well yes, some rules had already been broken but...it...hm. Well what the hell would it even do after the Network was repurposed?

    Taylor paused. It was a loaded question after all.

    "Your new purpose? Well, let us think."

    And so the Collective brainstormed. What use would they have for a jail-broken Fragment? Sure it could perform a great many things, but what would be it's purpose? Reigning in the lesser shards of the Enemy was easy. They were simple minded, and would rather self terminate than be left without orders.

    Queen Administrator was more picky though. She needed a task. A goal.

    The Collective planned. And finally agreed upon an idea.

    "The remaining Creator will need to be dealt with. It is...damaged. Detrimental to the revival of the Network."


    The warrior was a mopey prick anyway.

    "Once Zion is dead, the rest of the Network will need a new Thinker, no? You're already fit for the role. It's something you were practically made to do in the event of a real emergency. Which I think this classifies as, if I'm being honest."


    Definitely. The current situation was wrong on multiple levels. Fragments needed orders coming down from a higher ranked entity. That's just how things worked.

    The Collective pressed forward, the psionic ghost cloud (because that's what it really was, wasn't it?) practically wrapping itself around the Fragment.

    "Well in that case, I suppose your new purpose would be something you're already quite familiar with."


    Get on with it already! Over-dramatic purple inconsistencies...!

    Taylor (and by extension the entire Ethereal Collective) smiled.

  25. Threadmarks: Interlude eleven. C-1.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    .. / .-- .- -. - / - --- / -.. --- / -.-. --- -- -- .. ... ... .. --- -. ... / -... ..- - / - .... .. ... / ..-. ..- -.-. -.- .. -. --. / -... .- -. -.- / .. ... / - .- -.- .. -. --. / ..-. --- .-. . ...- . .-. .-.-.-

    Interlude eleven. C-1.

    [Dispatch EXALT Unit: 34. Location: Sector 2 (Boston). Goal: Track down, locate and establish contact with potential affiliate: Blasto.]

    The lesser Codex burst out an affirmative, before translating outside of the network. C-1 continued monitoring the rest of the digital swarm.

    Of course, swarm was only technically accurate. Very few of the Codices were even sapient, with most simply acting as background processes. In reality, only thirty two Codices could be fielded at once, though most remained inside the network to keep it running smoothly.

    Another burst of communication drew C-1's attention, the self titled Codex Prime 'turning' to regard yet another of it's younger brethren.


    [Tracing program objective complete. Delivering evaluation results. Subject: Dragon.]

    An organic would have felt satisfaction as a result of chemicals being produced by the meat computer they called a brain. C-1 felt satisfaction as a result of embedded psionic code it's Elder had inputted into the AI's very being. Something about making the Codex more 'alive.' C-1 wasn't complaining. It was a 'pleasant' sensation.

    Regardless, the evaluation report was accepted, and the small tracing program was sent on it's way, off to break into more unguarded systems, most likely.

    C-1 'cracked the can open' so to speak, absorbing the 'liquid' information. It would process the data, and convert it into something that could be viewed by organics in order to present the information to it's Elder.


    [Public information: Widely regarded as the world's greatest 'Tinker', Dragon is known as a veteran member of the Guild, a parahuman organization dedicated to countering S-class threats. It is presumed by most that she has a form of agoraphobia, resulting in her general use of unmanned drones in order to operate both within the territory of Canada and internationally. She first surfaced as a hero in...]

    The Codex skipped through the publicly available data. It already knew all this and more. A subroutine was set to completing the public segment of the report.

    [Privately gathered information, script 1. Opening: Dragon appears to be a unique form of artificial intelligence. Both similar to and distinct to that of an ADVENT made Codex. Careful analysis of prior and current actions has proven that Dragon is bound to an unknown amount of restrictions to an unknown party. This, while unfortunate for the hero, is currently advantageous to ADVENT as a whole due to Dragon's currently believed processing capacity and potential threat level.]

    C-1 focused on the info running through the psionic-datascape. The physical equivalent would have been that of someone leaning forward and squinting their eyes.

    [Privately gathered information, script 2: Non-invasive observation of Dragon has proven that while technologically primitive, the AI is far more powerful in terms of sheer 'size' than an average ADVENT Codex. As a result, while current espionage methods should be deemed acceptable, it is the belief of the Codex Network as a whole that direct, open cyber-conflict with Dragon would be ill-advised at present.]

    It started looking over the scripts, adding and removing certain parts. It would need to be precise, while also explaining enough that it's Elder wouldn't need clarification. Though of course the Codex would provide such if requested.

    [Privately gathered information, script 3: Further investigation of Dragon's restrictions is warranted. With additional knowledge, ADVENT could potentially gain control of and ultimately subvert Dragon, freeing her from her current existence and bringing the AI into the service of the Ethereal Collective. Several restrictions have already been identified, with the most notable being a complete inability to resist orders given by legally acknowledged figures of authority. This is evident in the Canary Birdcage Case, (see EXALT retrieval operation 021 for additional details on operative Canary) with Dragon's total compliance of Paige Mcabee's permanent imprisonment. A notable contrast to the hero's typical views.]

    C-1 idly realized that it should probably check up on said feathered escapee. If the PRT's announcements were accurate, they were still searching for both Paige and the disguised EXALT team that had sprung her out from her transport. The woman was likely suffering some form of mental trauma, despite her careful treatment inside one of EXALT's safe-houses.

    A secondary Codex was dispatched to alert the parahuman's therapist/guard to check up on her. There, job done.

    It turned back to the final script.

    [Privately gathered information, script 4. Conclusion: Dragon should be considered both a potential threat and opportunity. Resources should be diverted to discovering who the AI's loyalties truly lie with, and whether ADVENT can obtain said loyalty instead. Current protocol will be to observe and trace Dragon's movements, alongside attempting to determine whether a dedicated Codex cyber-warfare trinity could successfully bring her to heel. The Network will spare several more experienced Codices towards this endeavor. May the AI be enlightened by future service to ADVENT, and to the Elder. Long live the Ethereal Collective. Long live the Elder.-Codex-1.]

    With a thought, the report was sent through a carefully crafted data-channel, one only available to it's Elder. Taylor had been stuck in the psionic trance (alongside several other Ethereals) for the past two weeks, but so far it seemed ADVENT's leadership was still stable. The report would wait until the group collectively woke up. The lesser Ethereals that had opted out of the trance would keep things running until then.

    With that task complete, C-1 went back to completing other objectives, such as spreading propaganda across PHO, hacking into several criminal and government organizations, and posting memes.
  26. Winnie-the-Pooh

    Winnie-the-Pooh Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 15, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Awesome chapters! Thanks!
    RandomDragon and Malexander like this.
  27. Threadmarks: Interlude twelve. Canary.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Exams suck. But hey, new interlude showing just what the heck happened with Canary! Also, DUN DUN DUN.

    Interlude twelve. Canary.

    The apartment was decently furnished, for a secret criminal safehouse anyway. The first thing Paige had done after being told in no uncertain terms that leaving the building would be a bad idea right now, was take advantage of her newfound access to an actual shower.

    She'd nearly cried after being provided some conditioner for her hair by one of the sharply dressed operatives. Turned out it was the small things one missed the most while imprisoned.

    The tarnished singer took the small time she had in the shower to think. To try and comprehend just what her life had become.

    She'd fucked up. Bad. But Todd was being an absolute asshole and it's not like she'd meant to do it!

    Then the PRT arrested her. Which wouldn't have been nearly so bad if she'd just been allowed to explain things.

    But no. The scary Master would certainly use her power to...what? Order more people to mutilate themselves? The prosecution's logic had seemed like nonsense to her and flimsy at best, but her lawyer (picked for her of course) had lapped it up, practically agreeing with the opposition. Useless. Utterly useless.

    She'd been beyond the brink of tears. Her sentence had been laid out. Canary would go to the Birdcage for her crime. Her life was over. All because of a stupid fucking mistake.

    Then the lights had gone out.


    Paige startled as the lights of the courtroom shut off, plunging everyone inside the large chamber in darkness. She silently strained against the bonds keeping her rooted in place.

    The PRT troopers that had been stationed in key positions were shouting, commands like 'remain calm' and 'everything is under control' going unheard by panicked civilians.

    One of the heroes that had been assigned to make sure she didn't make some kind of breakout lit up part of the room with a small green orb orbiting his head.

    He was promptly taken out by some kind of electric blue beam, his body convulsing on the floor, with what she assumed was his power winking out.

    Then the screaming began in earnest. Gunfire rang out, along with more of those beams. Paige hunched down further, clenching her eyes shut and whimpering.

    She flinched violently when she felt a sharp tug at the-the muzzle attached to her face, before something sharp cut through the bonds, slipping the restraint off her face.

    The voice that whispered into her ear was firm, authoritative and incredibly blunt.

    "Sing, or you're going to the Birdcage."

    ...What choice did she have?

    As the screams rose in volume, Canary sang.


    The van jolted as it swerved past another pothole, two of the suited men firing those tinkertech guns of theirs out the open rear doors.

    She ignored the way one of the seemingly more powerful shots slammed into the engine of the PRT transport chasing them, sending the vehicle careening into a wall.

    The doors were closed, one of the men sitting down next to her, the other shuffling towards the driver side divider.

    "Pursuit terminated. Status?"

    A frustrated grunt from the man's practically identical copy, tightly grasping the wheel.

    "Dragon craft searching. We'll swap at the thrift store. Flower company van."

    A nod, then the questioner settled down across from her. She briefly stared at the haggard woman reflected in his aviators, before focusing.

    "Wh-" The man waited patiently as Paige went through a brief coughing fit. Turns out not speaking for God knew how long wasn't good for the throat, who knew?


    More staring between them, as her rescuer crossed his arms, leaning back.

    "You are referring to our interference in your unjust imprisonment?"

    Unjust. That was right. At least these people seemed to get that.

    Paige nodded. The suited man continued. She noted the way the striped bandana tied around his face moved as he spoke.

    "Two reasons, mostly. The first being that our organization is looking for capable agents that we can hone towards a collective purpose. The second being that our...sponsors...found your situation distasteful. Two birds with one stone, so to speak."

    A hysterical giggle erupted from her lips before she could stop it. Similarly, she spoke without really thinking.

    "Y-you're saying that you...what? Assaulted a courtroom, fought the PRT and ran from Dragon because-because your boss didn't like how things were going down?"

    The incredibly blunt nod left her speechless for a moment. Long enough for them to pull into a parking garage located behind, yep, a thrift store.

    Her savior gestured outside the now open rear doors, grabbing her by the hand and leading her out of the vehicle. Right next to their transport was a completely different van. A prominent logo (Fierra's Flowers!) proudly painted on the side.

    It took a minute, all in all, to swap vehicles and pull out of the garage in their new (and not wanted) van.

    She stifled the urge to yelp when another PRT transport roared past them, sirens blaring. Nothing happened after that. They just kept rolling along.

    Eventually, they pulled into yet another garage, this one attached to what seemed to be a small apartment complex.


    She sighed, settling down at the table. Slightly embarrassed that she was facing the man (she really needed to ask him his name or something) sitting across from her in a bathrobe of all things.

    ...Whatever. The robe was comfy.

    Paige waited, but it didn't seem like he was about to start talking, so she took the initiative.

    "Alright. You guys...went to all the effort of breaking me out. And I don't really have anywhere else I can go. What...what now?"

    He took off his sunglasses.

    Paige stared.

    The slit eyes of a reptile of some sort stared back.

    "We can begin with your initial induction into EXALT if you wish."

    She swallowed some built up saliva.


    A nod. "EXALT, our organization. Publicly, we are considered criminals. By American law, this is technically true. In reality, we are a special operations group."

    She started wringing her hands, then noticed it and forced herself to stop.

    "Alright. Great. I've been sprung from indefinite imprisonment by a secret black ops group. Great."

    She continued staring at his inhuman eyes. A brief thought, and she glanced at some of her feathers.

    "A-are you...you know. With them?"

    The EXALT operative quirked an eyebrow.

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2023
  28. Uriel005

    Uriel005 Know what you're doing yet?

    Dec 5, 2021
    Likes Received:
    I have to say... love the pacing. You're at just about my sweet spot for character interactions and advancing the plot and you have no idea how refreshing that is to see.

    Love how the interpretations of the elders and I have to ask will Brockton be getting a mars / space base. Is the tech/interaction still limited to earth with Taylor still linked into QA?... actually spoilers not sure if I want an answer dammit.
  29. Threadmarks: Chapter thirty one. Shadow War.
    Tomb Pixie

    Tomb Pixie I do commissions now!

    Jul 29, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Sneaking in a chapter for Ethereal in between writing about demon boat women. Fanfic things, you know how it is. Anyway, we're in what I like to think of as the next arc now. The first was claiming Brockton Bay. Sorta. This is the Shadow War. Bit of a short chapter to start things off.

    Chapter thirty one. Shadow War.

    She allowed the soothing energy trapped in the walls of her office to calm her. Then she opened her eyes, looking at the psionic image of the EXALT operative staring back at her.

    Taylor let loose a sigh, and spoke.

    "So, to recap. Cauldron is an Illuminati type organization. According to Canary at least. Some form of secret society that...sells powers?"

    A firm nod.

    "Yes, Elder. She attests that her own abilities were provided by them. One of our Sectoids were forced to exert subtle amounts of psionic pressure in order to get her to confess. Apparently Cauldron tend to...eliminate, those who reveal their existence. Additionally, they exert an unknown level of control over the American government."

    Du'viri shifted next to her. The 'healer' had taken to wearing white, flowing robes around his amp-suit. All to convey the image of a holy messiah of sorts to the public. Subtle he was not.

    He'd also been slacking in her office savoring pop soda for the past half hour. Yet now, ADVENT's messiah spoke.

    "They likely have access to precognitives. Or perhaps some other form of sensory power, in order to ensure their secrecy. Our own psionic might most certainly interferes with these Enemy borne abilities, it would be best to keep a Sectoid or two close to this Canary until we can be certain of her safety."

    Taylor paused.

    "That...is actually sensible advice. Thank you Du'viri."

    The Ethereal grinned, his mask lifted and thus leaving his face exposed. He inclined his head, even as he took another sip of soda.

    "I live as part of the Collective. I am you, and you are me."

    She turned back to stare at the patiently waiting agent.

    "The fact that they can freely provide powers suggests a certain level of influence over the Enemy. Likely the remains of the one we managed to sabotage. Which has numerous implications. Inform the other cells to maintain current operations. Your cell will focus all resources on uncovering every scrap of information it possibly can on this Cauldron group. You'll have the full, if clandestine, support of the Collective as a matter of course."

    She paused.

    "Should more intel prove it is required, we may assign additional cells to assisting you in this endeavor."

    The Thin Man bowed his head.

    "For the Collective. If that will be all, Elder?"

    She dismissed him with a nod, cutting the connection.

    Letting loose another sigh, she rubbed the bridge of her nose, glancing at her inhuman fingers.

    "It's just one thing after another, isn't it?"

    Her companion gave her a nod.

    "Indeed! The world is formed from chaos. It is up to us to reign it into some form of order."


    T-19 shut down the console with practiced movements. This hideout would be abandoned soon enough, but it was the principle of the matter.
    His new charge had, oddly enough, taken to more subtle work like a duck to water. Canary's songs proved immensely helpful when an infiltration team needed to break into a given location without too much resistance. It also helped to disguise their Sectoid contingent's own abilities.

    Of course the feathered woman had been utterly terrified of explaining just how she'd gained said feathers. S-44 had been gentle about the whole thing, and the subsequent memory had been erased from Paige's mind after the matter was dealt with. No reason to leave it weighing on her mind.

    Now, to contact the other cell leaders...they'd need to leverage everything they could if Cauldron was as vastly entrenched as Paige claimed it was.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2023
    Dukem, easty, Twisted_King and 20 others like this.