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Thread: Hero Force One

  1. #81
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Chapter Two: Hero Force Down Cont.

    Chapter Two: Hero Force Down
    Hero Force One: Judge | Benjamin Mahir | Flax Hyperon | Magick Snowflakes | Seraphim | High Imp | Citizen Rex | Ffion Heul

    Hero Force Support:
    Agent Mulligan | Agent Barnes | Agent Noble | Alexis Thrain

    Other Series Actors: Arkng Thand (President of the U.S.A.) | The Patriot (former HFO leader) | Dr R. Deep (member of Toiletium) | Xiu Shan Fang (Red Faction leader) | Acidspitter (Mr Nine of Hell)

    Hero Force One has reached its lowest point with members dying, leaving and distressing. Battling terrorists in the name of freedom, defeating villains in the name of democracy and dealing with the internal strife of personal beliefs is taking its toll upon the members who attempt to establish themselves in the ever-changing world.

    During a mission fighting terrorists in the Empty Quarter the newest team member, Ffion Heul, killed a prominent member of a rival hero team, the Red Faction, causing a political stir. In an attempt to avoid such politics, Dr R Deep turned to former teammate, Acidspitter (now the ruler of Hell), to resurrect the Red Faction leader, Xiu Shan Fang. Despite being returned to life a trial was held against Ffion Heul but ended with Fang celebrating her rebirth and she then explodes herself in the court, murdering many, including Hero Force support agents. She is now considered a primary target and enemy of the U.S.A. and H.F.O..

    Qhobeg #2 has been in a coma ever since he last saved the Laniakea Supercluster using the Deus Ex Machine. Judge, his love, has tried and tried to find a way to restore him, improving her own mental prowess to do so but remained unsuccessful until The Negotiator struck a deal with her. He amplified her powers, unlocking her Potential, in exchange for doing the will of Arkng Thand - putting the people of Earth to sleep. This she did but when she accessed the mind of Qhobeg she found little left of him and released the last of him so that he could die peacefully.
    Last edited by TheBritt; 07-11-2016 at 05:13 PM.

  2. #82
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow To Overcome the Darkness

    The newly completed hospital wing is given a stark white colour scheme off-set by blue accents, especially with the glowing lights at the top of the walls. Aside from the blue glowing lights the ceiling lights are glaringly bright, allowing for zero shadows to enter this wide room. Large air fans upon the walls filter the air continuously not just for the sake of oxygen but also for normalising the air for dust and microorganisms. Right now the fans are set to keep the temperature fairly cool and Judge stands in front of one of them, feeling the breeze blowing through her ginger hair.

    The steady beep of Qhobeg's heart monitor gives a strange kind of rhythm to the room. Though the hospital has its own staff members, most of them are often absent as they perform community service further afield in the solar system, especially within the asteroid belt. Using Orbital One's new hospital as a main base of operations for the solar system was a major concession introduced by the U.S. government as they knew the medical staff wouldn't be working on Orbital One very much and that the hospital wing could be put to good use for the Earth's further-afield developments. Of the eight medical staff working aboard Orbital One, just two are on duty at the station itself.

    One of the doctors walks into the ward where Qhobeg is being kept. She glances at Judge before marching straight to Qhobeg's bed and checks the monitors. She then checks her MediPIP which is relaying all of the monitoring readouts to itself from the equipment strapped to him and the bed. Despite the information being relayed, her duties include double-checking with the actual device a few times a day to ensure there is no mistake in the calibration. Or tampering for that matter.

    Judge: "Are you gonna oversee my session with him?"

    The woman looks up from the prone figure of the young man and pulls off her glasses.

    Doctor: "You mean this little 'mind-meld' thing? Of course I'll be watching. If you do actually make any kind of connection I have no idea what it will do to him... or to you for that matter. I've already stated that I think it's a stupid idea."

    Judge: "Yeah, well, it's not like he's getting any better is it?"

    The doctor looks disgruntled as she puts her glasses back on. She doesn't reply but it's clear she reluctantly concedes the point. The woman is human but Judge is aware that she's from off-world, born somewhere else in the galaxy, and arrived on the station a week ago. The woman has white skin and light auburn hair that she keeps tied back in a tight, short plait. Although usually covered by her white hospital coat, Judge had noticed that the woman has some kind of burn mark on her neck. Once or twice Judge had accidentally picked up very distressed images from the woman's mind, relating to the burn, but she always tried to block them out. Learning someone's secrets is one thing but experiencing the horrible sensation of being burnt alive is not something Judge wants to go through first or second hand.

    Doctor: "He's stable. Are you going to do your... thing now?"

    Judge: "Not yet. I have to wait for--"

    The iris door spins open and Ffion Heul enters. She is wearing her navy blue tunic that she normally wore under the rest of her Ćon robes but recently she's been wearing Judge's old Union Jack jacket instead of the outer robes of her people. Since Ffion is unsure about her place amongst the other Ćon, Judge thinks it must be comforting to feel like she has a strong place here with Hero Force One and that silly, old jacket is a symbol of that. Since the trial Ffion's faith in that had been shaken and she's worn the jacket almost everyday, as though to remind herself she does belong here and is wanted. Judge refrains from deliberately trying to check Ffion's feeling out of respect for the girl but she thinks she probably couldn't achieve it anyway since the other woman was trained in psychic blocks.

    Ffion: "Yo Alexis."

    Alexis: "Don't call me that, Heul. Only one person can call me that."

    Ffion rolls her eyes and makes a little love-heart symbol with her hands to Judge.

    Alexis: "Whoever this guy is, I hope he appreciates the risk you're taking."

    Judge: "If he doesn't, I'll bash his head in with a very big rock."

    Ffion: "Saving a life even if it costs our own, doc. That's what we do here."

    Alexis: "I suppose that's one way to redeem yourself."

    Ffion is instantly cast into a grimace of hurt but it's a grimace and remark that she bears without refute, without argument and without denial. Ffion had to be open about her past in order to be accepted into the team and, though only to Judge and Dr R. Deep, she admitted that she had been manipulated into almost murdering her friends. Deep acknowledged the desire to redeem herself as a noble one but Ffion seems to never have left go of her actions even now.

    Ffion helps Alexis push the hover-bed away from the wall and into the centre of the room where Judge would have more room to perform.

    "How do you two know each other anyway?"

    Judge loosely clips her long hair back and pulls over a chair.

    Ffion: "We travelled together for a while. For great justice!"

    Alexis just frowns at Ffion for such a stupid remark but Judge snerks.

    "But seriously, are you ready to do this, Judge? I'm not sure you'll be able to break into his mind yet, if I'm honest."

    "You're here to help me out, ain't ya? Besides, what harm could it do?"

    Alexis: "Like I said, you could end up with brain dam--"

    "Okay, okay, I mean the benefit outweighs the risk."

    Alexis: "Actually, no! Not really! One comatose hero or two comatose heroes? I'd say my maths skills is better than yours."

    "Wow... you are a nagging pain in the ass, aren't you?"

    Alexis manages to slip on a plastic glove very menacingly.

    Judge: "What's... that for?"

    Ffion: "She likes cavity searches."

    Judge: "GAH!"

    "I'm going to apply cooling gel to your temples. And his temples. One thing I've noticed is that you psychic types sweat and grow overheated when you strain your minds. No idea why psychic strain would literally cause your head to overheat. Like your brain is an actual battery producing heat en--"

    Judge: "Less boring science stuff and more gel, please."

    Alexis slaps some gel onto Judge's temple roughly with a tut.

    Alexis: "You two deserve each other."

    Judge: "I ain't that kinda girl, doc."

    Ffion: "She just wishes we were, Judge."

    Alexis straightens and, again with apparent menace, places the spatula of gel back into the pot she's holding.

    "Your next medical check is definitely going to include an anal thermometer and I promise you... it will be very big."

    Ffion's entertained smirk falters and Judge realises that this doctor is likely to follow through with her threat. The British-born woman decides to then keep her own trap shut lest she be subjected to such humiliation too.

    With gel applied to both Judge and Qhobeg, Alexis stands back.

    "Did you get any news yet, by the way?"


    Whatever events led Alexis Thrain to Orbital One hadn't been good and now Alexis wants to find someone she believes lived on Mars but she's been unable to locate. Judge has allowed Alexis to use Orbital One's search systems to scan the planet and its space stations for her missing friend but so far nothing has come up. Ffion, though less concerned than Alexis, seems keen to find their missing friend too. Whoever the missing woman is, she at least has friends that miss her.

    Judge wiggles her fingers, as though that will somehow change anything. She reaches down and places the tips of her fingers upon Qhobeg's temples. This kind of thing is unnecessary for the Ćon Knights, or apprentices, like Ffion but Judge isn't an Ćon. Her psychic ability works very differently than theirs, being internalised and a part of Judge's own powers while the knights got their powers from a separate means to their own genetic make-up. Judge is able to probe minds without a physical connection but she has found the closer she is and the more psychical contact she has with a person, the easier it is to access their minds.

    She then puts her palms against his face and looks down at his sleeping features. A moment of sadness threatens to ruin everything as she admires his proud nose and his soft cheekbones. His lips are almost effeminate but when set against his strong nose they somehow suit his unique brand of boyish masculinity. The doctors have allowed him to grow some facial hair, though they keep it well trimmed. His beard is just as softly brown as his head hair, which Judge thinks is getting much too long already.

    She closes her eyes, not wanting his physical appearance to distract her any longer.

    She hears Ffion talking. She's speaking in a slow, soft drone. The words aren't in English so they don't distract her, and yet they seem to guide her mind to a place where it feels like it can expand outwards. Her psyche wants to gaze into everything beyond the confines of her own head and as soon as she enters that state her consciousness reaches out across the room and then beyond it. As she senses a mind filled with images of naked women, she realises that she's found Flax Hyperon somewhere else on the station and has to rein herself in. She pulls back and tries to focus her mind to search the immediate area, search that which she's connected to. She embraces Qhobeg's mind and slips into it.

    As she does so she physically winces, as though in pain, and Alexis puts her finger to Judge's neck, checking her heartbeat.

    Alexis: "This was a stupid idea, Heul."

    "I'm not her boss, Thrain. She does as she pleases."

    Ffion starts talking again, her words are meant to calm as psychic mind in distress but she quickly realises it doesn't matter. Judge isn't in physical pain but psychic distress. Tears come from Judge's eyes and Ffion can't help but feel her friend's sadness overwhelm her too. Clearly Judge can't make a connection...

    "There's only darkness..."


    In Washington D.C. President Thand is, as usual, in the library of the White House where he picks up a book from the shelf. 'Tales of Dave'. He picks up the next, 'Legends of The Devoted Daves'. He puts that back quickly and picks up the next, 'Dave's Not Dead'. He rolls his eyes and puts back another Dave gag.

    Thand: "Surely this Dave joke has run its course by now?"

    Thrawn42689: "Mr President, here are the latest figures."

    Thand: "The process is slower than I'd expected... at this rate most of humanity will be corrupted by the Ever-ending Plot should it escape the Shattered Realm and invade the Never-ending Story."

    The Negotiator: "Turning the population into mindless fools so that they cannot be turned into... well, mindless fools, is a rather unusual strategy, even for you Arkng Thand."

    The president looks up from the spines of the many books on Dave, just short of picking up
    'The David' - the holy text of the Dave religion.

    Thand: "I don't remember inviting you here..."

    The Negotiator: "I don't remember requiring an invitation..."

    Thand: "Dare I ask what it is you want?"

    The Negotiator: "Couldn't I just be visiting an old friend?"

    The man is standing in the library wearing a pristine white suit, shirt and tie. Even his leather shoes are white. He leans on a cane as though in need of propping up.

    Thand: "No. You don't have friends."

    The Negotiator:
    "Now that's just mean. Or self-projection."

    Thand: "Just tell me what you're offering this time."

    The Negotiator: "You want control of the entire populace, yes?"

    Thand: "As you well know."

    The Negotiator:
    "I can give you the means."

    Thand: "In exchange for what?"

    The Negotiator: "Your life."

    Thand is rarely staggered into silence but now he almost throws himself against the bookcase, knocking a lot of Dave books to the floor. The Negotiator holds out his hand and one of the tomes snaps to his hand. He opens it and waits for Thand to make his decision. Thand won't blurt out the obvious question of 'why' or 'how dare you'.

    The Negotiator: "The Davesutra? This is... absolutely vile!"

    He looks up aghast.

    The Negotiator: "Mind if I borrow it?"

    Thand, having recovered himself, turns away and starts picking up the books he'd knocked over.

    Thand: "Help yourself."

    The Negotiator tucks the lurid book into his jacket and smiles down at Thand as he works on tidying up.

    The Negotiator: "Always my favourite son."

    Thand shakes his head.

    The Negotiator: "All of humanity became my children, Thand. That includes you."

    Thand: "That's absurd. You gave up the title of God a long time ago."

    The Negotiator:
    "Or maybe you just don't like someone else claiming to be the father of your own children?"

    Thand: "At best you'd be the adoptive father."

    The Negotiator:
    "Is it better to be the biological father or the dad that's there for them?"

    Thand shakes his head as he puts the final book back on the shelf.

    Thand: "Pettiness isn't one of your better qualities."

    The Negotiator: "Forgive me. Let me try to think of one of your better qualities. Hold on. It might take some time."

    Thand: "That's the pettiness I'm talking about."

    The Negotiator:
    "Are you sure you're not mistaking frankness for pettiness for the sake of your pride?"

    Thand takes out a pipe and lights it up, taking his time. Blue smoke begins to rise lazily into the air and his drags upon the sweet, yet tangy, taste of the magical herb. He stares out of the window, not facing the infinitesimal aeons old creature behind him. Once Thand looked up to the now dubbed 'The Negotiator'. Now he is older, wiser and far, far more cynical.

    The Negotiator:
    "Will you agree to my terms?"

    Thand: "You can't guess my answer?"

    The Negotiator:
    "Once I believe you would have jumped at the chance to be the greatest martyr of humanity. Father and protector. Now... I think you've grown to like living too much."

    Thand sighs but doesn't speak in response. He doesn't need to.

    The Negotiator: "No. I think I'm wrong in that. I think you hate living. But you've grown so accustomed to it that you find the concept of death... abhorrent."

    Thand: "As spoken by one that cannot know death..."

    The Negotiator: "True the joy of mortality is not within my grasp."

    Thand: "The fact you call it a joy speaks volumes. You don't comprehend the insipidness of death. The ultimate state of not being."

    The Negotiator: "Do you forget Heaven? Or dare I say Hell?"

    Thand manages a smirk.

    Thand: "Now I do have to wonder... would I be deemed worthy?"

    The Negotiator: "Well, Jim Sevenicci is now God, so if that guy gets to be ruler of Heaven, I think they'll let just about anybody in these days. He certainly sets the bar pretty low."

    Thand: "I would argue Yahweh was far worse than James Sevenicci ever could be."

    The Negotiator waggles his finger at Thand and gives a small chuckle.

    The Negotiator: "Now there's something we can both agree on."

    Thand rubs his eyes. He isn't sure why he feels so weary. Stress or maybe just age. Age... he remembers that shining light of his long life. How vapid his life has felt since her passing and now he thinks he understands why she left this world. She simply grew too tired.

    Thand: "I will take your agreement... if you can provide the solution."

  3. #83
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Judgement

    Judge's apartment on Orbital One is large, spacious and open plan with only a single-step down to a lower level to partition the bed space from the lounge. She tosses her Stars-and-Stripes jacket onto the bed, which is a large four-poster affair with a deep mattress and a thick, lush quilt. Although a four-poster, the bed is conceived of an ultra-modern style - four, thick and sleek white posts with chameleon-web curtains that can shift their pattern to mimic their surroundings, making the bed invisible when closed. The inside of the curtains are black and velvet to keep in both heat and keep out any incidental light that might flicker in the room during sleeping hours. There's no actual day and night on the station so only a scheduled day-night cycle that imitates the timezone of the East Coast U.S.A..

    Qhobeg had fought for the West Coast to be the timezone resulting in half of the station being West Coast for a while before Qhobeg was given a hardy smack by Seraphim. Judge imagines her room is still on West Coast time, operating several hours out of synch with the rest of the station.

    Judge: "TV on."

    The television isn't something straight out of the future but it is an LG curved screen with 4K technology and OLED... all of which is entirely wasted as Judge doesn't even bother to look at it as she walks right by. She just listens to the voice of Ying Hu Jackizumama rambling on about the recent Brexit when Queen Maeve refused to continue its role in the E.U. when it was taken over by Emperor Nyneve. Judge thinks she might have preempted the event with her own Brexit, an exit from Britain to the U.S.. Quite a lot of disappointed British fans have been mailing her (all of which has been filtered back at a Hero Force office somewhere) about her apparent lack of patriotism for her birth nation.

    She zips down the sides of her boots, which are actually still the original boots of her former Union Jack outfit since they weren't so blatantly the British flag and the colours are shared between the two nations. Plus, in Judge's mind, this is how she can visually represent the country of her birth. But the U.S. is her country of nurturing and has done far more for her than Great Britain ever did. She tosses the boots towards the far wall where their bright red-white-and-blue colour scheme stands out against the off-white wall and soft, but flat, grey carpet.

    The door to the bathroom is a large, open arch that also has chameleon curtains to disguise the interior. She slips in and switches on the taps for the massive bathtub. During the renovations Judge's major 'requirement' was a bathtub she could lounge in for hours and, lo, her wish was granted. The hot water instantly starts to steam up the cool atmosphere of the room and she slips her tower and bathrobe onto the heated towel racks.

    When back in the main living area of her apartment, hooking the chameleon curtains open so she could watch the bath fill up from afar, she walks over to the replicator and requests a tomato and lettuce sandwich. She's sure to add plenty of mayonnaise for that sour flavour to help cover up the fact that replicated food always seems to taste just a little bit blander than the real deal. At least no real tomatoes or lettuces were murdered in the creation of this meal.

    She takes a bite from the sandwich and reaches her right hand up her back to unfasten her bra. Being a superhero, specifically being a super-heroine, gives her licence to parade about in public in nothing but her underwear. One perk of this is that she has less clothing to remove when she gets home.

    One sandwich and a discarded pair of knickers later, Judge is in her bath with rose and milk bath salts to scent the water and soothe her skin. The doctor, Alexis, bade her spend the day at rest and at rest Judge intends to be.

    "Lights dim."

    The lights of the bathroom settle down to low, giving the bathroom an aura of sensuality. She sighs and tries to let her mind run clear and empty. Since expanding her psychic powers her mind is so constantly filled with mayhem and nonsense from the world around her that she'd almost forgotten what her own, quiet mind is like. But even as she lies alone in her own apartment her mind starts to reach out, as though it's unable to remain in solitude. It grasps out and she accidentally finds herself in the company of Benjamin Mahir in one of the adjacent rooms. She knows it's Ben from the very first thought that that crosses his mind - the new Hero Force One computer game. Being the only team member, now, that plays games he gets to play test the latest Capcom beat 'em up.

    She quickly tries to pull back her mind, especially when Ben starts to ponder the unrealistic 'boob-physics' in the game.

    Bath time ruined she hops out and after a quick drying down she's in her bathrobe and the towel is wrapped around her orange head like a beehive. The new is still rambling on, this time Penny Whatsherface is going on about TV and Facebook rotting the brains of America. Judge holds out her hand and the fridge door swings open with a bottle of water gliding to her outstretched palm.

    Man: "Is this a bad time?"

    Judge jumps in shock and the next moment the bottle of water slaps her straight on the forehead.

    A couple of expletives later Judge brandishes the plastic bottle as though it's a mace of extreme clobbering but there's nobody present.

    Judge: "Where are you?"

    Man: "Why speak, Judge? You can use your mind. Go ahead. You can do it."

    Judge mentally threatens to render the psychic intruder impotent should he not explain his intrusion. Albeit in more flavourful language.

    Man: "I believe they call me..."

    The door to her apartment slides open and a man stands there, his black skin contrasting with his white suit and grey hair.

    "The Negotiator."

    Judge: "I have no idea how you got onto Orbital One but the moment you revealed yourself to me the station's A.I. had already alerted everyone else on the station.

    The Negotiator just smiles.

    The Negotiator: "Ah yes. The rat, the space-buffoon and a child..."

    Judge just gives him a wicked smirk in response.

    Judge: "Yeah. Just call them my B-Team."

    Judge has never been one for conversational skills.

    The water bottle zips across the room but The Negotiator, despite his seeming infirmity, makes a single, casual movement to avoid the projectile.

    The Negotiator:
    "Honestly, who throws water bott--"

    Judge's fist in moments behind, having propelled herself across the room like a rocket and The Negotiator is struck squarely in the face. Or he would have been had her fist not melted straight through him. She lashes out again but she phases through him yet again. She then just waggles her hand through him.


    The Negotiator: "You could strike me, Judge. But not physically."

    Despite being quick to attack, Judge isn't stupid or irrational.

    "Why the bloody Hell would you tell me that?"

    The Negotiator: "Ah... you can take the girl out of Britain but you can't take the bloody out of the girl, eh?"

    Judge: "... did you just make a period pun?"

    The Negotiator: "Uh... oh right! I suppose I did! Can't say I'd ever considered myself witty but perhaps I'd prejudged myself!"

    Judge: "... Seriously dude. Who the fuq are you?"

    The Negotiator: "I'm here to help you, Judge. I want to fulfill your desire."

    "Right. Because I haven't heard that chat up line before."

    The Negotiator: "Chat up line? Oh! Oh, I see. Now it's you who's being witty. How droll you are."

    Judge: "I am one second away from unleashing a whole lot of fury on your face. Explain yourself very quickly."

    He saunters past her and into the apartment.

    The Negotiator: "Well, where to beg--"

    The water bottle flies through his head.

    The Negotiator: "What the devil!?"

    Judge: "I said quickly."

    The Negotiator: "The art of politicking is evidently lost on you, isn't it? Well I shall be straight. I can help you help him."

    Judge freezes and stares at him for a long moment. Long enough that the other team members come crashing through the door. She doesn't turn to face them but Flax Hyperon looks her up and down and then looks over to the stranger in the room.

    Flax: "Is this a private party?"

    Judge: "I haven't decided yet."

    Flax straightens up with a grin.

    Flax: "I have to admit, ol' Flax was beginning to think you'd never open up to his charms. But here you are, my English Rose."

    Judge holds her hand up to Flax' face.

    Flax: "Uh..."

    Next minute he's sent flying out of the room.

    Magick Snowflakes watches him fly by and then back to Judge.

    Magick: "Is this man bothering you, Judge?"

    She glances back at Flax.

    Magick: "As well?"

    Judge: "What exactly are you proposing?"

    The Negotiator: "Nothing but benefits for you."

    Judge: "Your name is The Negotiator? That means you want to negotiate, not to give stuff away. If you were giving it away, then you'd be Father Christmas."

    The Negotiator: "That wit again. I suppose you must be the team clown without Qhobeg to fill those shoes?"

    "Actually I think that might be Flax now. Or Rex. But I don't think Rex even deserves the respect the team clown would garner."

    "Does that mean I'm respected?"

    Judge: "Don't make me blast you out of the room again."

    Benjamin: "What do you want, Negotiator?"

    Ben, ever quick to bring the point back home.

    The Negotiator: "All you have to do is do the bidding of the President."

    Benjamin: "Which President!?"

    The Negotiator frowns at him.

    The Negotiator: "The only one that matters. Arkng Thand."

    Benjamin: "Oh. Right. I just thought it might be one of them demon tricks. Like you make a vague offer and it turns out to be something else. Like something High Imp would do."

    Magick snaps her attention to Ben.

    Magick: "High Imp would not do that. He might be a demon but he's honourable."

    Ben looks at Magick dubiously but Judge speaks first.

    Judge: "So you help me save Qhobeg and all I have to do is follow President Thand? Like I haven't been doing that anyway?"

    The Negotiator: "I will give you the means you desire. I will not save the man directly. That is up to you. If he can be saved then I can give you the means to do that."

    Judge: "What are the means exactly?"

    The Negotiator: "Nothing you don't already possess. But... I'm sorry, can I turn this television off? Whatever news channel you have on is very irritating."

    Judge: "TV off..."

    The Negotiator sighs with physical relief from the audible barrage. He taps his cane upon the grey carpet before continuing to speak.

    The Negotiator:
    "I can unleash your Potential, Judge."

    Magick winces.

    Magick: "That sounds kind of familiar..."

    Judge: "What does that mean?"

    The Negotiator shrugs innocently.

    The Negotiator: "Nothing more than that. Your power is still in its infancy. Underdeveloped. I can unleash it. Amplify it, perhaps. I just have to--"

    He makes the motion of a key in a lock.

    The Negotiator: "Unlock it."

    Judge: "Okay fine."

    Magick: "Whoa! Judge!"

    Benjamin: "Maaaaybe you should at least consider it for longer than a second, Judge?"

    Flax: "There's a time to act and a time to consider your options, lady."

    Judge: "What's there to consider?"

    She looks at them.

    "He's saying I can access and control more of my powers. All I have to do in return is help President Thand. Then I can save Qhobeg."

    Benjamin: "Yeah but doesn't all that sound too good to be true?"

    The Negotiator: "How cynical of you, Mr Mahir."

    Benjamin: "Experience."

    The Negotiator: "Yet you have never experienced me!"

    Flax slaps Ben on the back with a cheer.

    Flax: "Get your coat, son, you've pulled!"

    Ben just rolls his eyes while even Judge lets the joke drop when faced with the serious opportunity to save her friend and love. She folds her arms.

    Judge: "Like I said. I accept."

    The Negotiator:
    "Then outside we go!"

    They all look at the thin window that shows nothing but space outside. Judge points slightly towards said window.

    Judge: "You know there's nothing but vacuum out there, right?"

    The Negotiator nods eagerly.

    Judge: "Right. Well at least let me put some clothes on, eh?"

    The Negotiator doesn't bother to verbally acknowledge. He simply walks out of the room - through the wall and into space. He glances back in through the window a waves.

    Benjamin: "I think he's just showing off."


    A short while later and Judge has flown out of an airlock to meet with The Negotiator who stands upon nothing as though it were a solid floor. Judge's own atmospheric shield keeps her safe and sound as she glides over to him, pushed along via telekinesis. The Negotiator sweeps his hand over the Earth.

    The Negotiator: "Face this way."

    She does as asked.

    The Negotiator:
    "Don't worry. There's no melodramatic lightning bolts or bursting forth or any such nonsense. You'll just... become who you are like--"

    He snaps his fingers.

    The Negotiator:

    Judge's mind snaps. It's like a plank of ice suddenly being cracked in twain. The initial response is to cry as though in pain but she realises she's not in pain at all. In fact it feels like her mind is wide open to everything - or perhaps everyone's mind is open to hers. At first it feels like the sudden influx of minds will overwhelm her but she quickly realises that she has more than enough control to keep the minds at bay. As she lets one in she finds that it's the random mind of a man in South Africa. Another mind is in Australia. Another is an American woman. Then a panda in the sky above China...

    Judge: "I think I'm imagining voices..."

    The Negotiator: "Everything is real. You can hear every being on the planet should you choose..."

    Judge: "There's so many... and not everyone is human... I can hear those lizard people deep down in the Earth!"

    The Negotiator:
    "Locate a specific individual."

    Judge does so. She has the swine that encased her in stone - Ballax the lizardman.

    The Negotiator: "Now ask that individual to do something..."

    Judge looks sidelong at him.

    Judge: "Like what?"

    The Negotiator:
    "What do you want them to do?"

    Judge: "I want him to jump off a bridge."

    Suddenly the mind of Ballax responds to the request. First, however, it has to learn the concept of 'bridge' since there aren't any in the underground city of Ubar. No rivers and no chasms to cross, just lots of flat rock. Once the concept of bridge is understood he goes off in search of one. It might take him some time...

    Judge has to act quickly to stop the process. As soon as she demands that he stop... he stops.

    It's then that Judge realises what she has become...

    Judge: "This is dangerous. Too dangerous!"

    The Negotiator: "The deal is already struck. Now you must fulfil your promise."

    Judge: "But--"

    The Negotiator: "Once Thand's request is complete, you can aid your beloved Qhobeg..."

    Judge pauses.

    But only for a couple of seconds.

    Judge: "What does Thand want?"

    The Negotiator: "Control."

    Judge: "Of a person? Who?"

    The Negotiator: "Everyone."

    Judge: "E-Everyone!?"

    The Negotiator smiles.

    The Negotiator: "This is not some nefarious scheme to conquer the planet, never fear my dear. Thand is not the sort. Needs must, however. The people are vulnerable while their minds are open. You must close them down."

    Judge: "This is--it's madness!"

    The Negotiator sighs with pity.

    The Negotiator: "Your inability to grasp the circumstances is unnecessary. You already agreed to the contract. You are unable to renege on the deal."

    Judge: "I can... I... can't..."

    Judge intrinsically knows she is unable to falter upon the deal struck. Once agreed she it bound, even unwillingly, to perform it. She looks down at the beautiful blue planet and then she mentally reaches for it. Her mind sweeps across the North American continent, humans of the U.S.A., demons and ghosts of Canada, then on into Mexico and down into South American nations. Some minds resist, those of greater will and determination - but most obey her and succumb instantly. She casts out across Africa where even angels of Burundi fall under Judge's mental control. Through Egypt she moves into Europe. Some minds fight then give in, like a child demanding to be let free when picked up. Then Great Britain where she conquers yet more minds, including many of The Forgotten whose minds have become weakened by their loss of status. Greenlance, Iceland and back into Russia, China - including many pandas when Judge realises there's no end to weirdness on this planet - and into Japan, India, Australia. The world is encompassed.

    Judge: "Some remains uncontrolled."

    The Negotiator: "But you have well over ninety percent of the population. I sense it."

    Judge: "What... what do I do with them?"

    The Negotiator: "I think they can go to sleep. Have them find their beds. No need to sleep where they stand."

    She does so. Whatever each individual deemed a bed they went into it. Even creatures that did not sleep are now, inexplicably, asleep. Judge expected she'd be tired... but she isn't. She did this as though it were nothing.

    Judge: "This is... horrible..."

    The Negotiator: "You can wake them again when the danger has passed."

    Judge: "Danger?"

    The Negotiator: "A great enemy seeks to control the minds of all those people you just sent to bed--"

    "Great. Now I sound like a cosmic nanny."

    The Negotiator: "You did do what is best for them. When the enemy finds no minds to prey upon it will find itself that much more vulnerable when heroes are required to defeat it."

    Judge looks down at her hands, as though they are somehow responsible for all of this. She doesn't hate The Negotiator. She doesn't hate Arkng Thand. She hates herself.

    Judge: "I've become... I've become a monster..."

    The Negotiator: "Nonsense. You've just become more than you were. You were already clobbering people around. Now you don't need to even do the clobbering. Why shoot a man with a gun when you can ask him to surrender?"

    "No one should have this much... power."

    The Negotiator:

    Judge looks at him. There is, at least, one good thing this power could do. She thinks of him, lying in his bed in the hospital wing...

    And then she is there.

    Judge is thrown off and afraid that the world has suddenly appeared around her - almost as much as Alexis Thrain seems to be as Judge appears before her.

    Alexis: "Where did you come from!?"

    Judge doesn't answer. She looks at Qhobeg.

    Judge: "I can save him..."

    She slowly walks towards him but her mind is already connected to his. She plunges deep within, past the darkness she had seen before. Breaking walls of protection that would usually stand up against psychic attacks. She pushes and pushes down until she catches the faintest glimmer of something.

    Judge: "It has to be him..."


    When Alexis speaks Judge realises that she's able to multitask with ease, the physical world and the psychic world. She lifts up her arm while simultaneously delving ever deeper into Qhobeg's head. Judge is shocked, and appalled, at the ease with which she seems to have overcome any and all limitations.

    Alexis: "I'll send a message to Heul. She went to Mars to... check on stuff."

    Judge: "I'll be done long before she gets back..."

    At the mention of Ffion Judge's mind finds her, across the great chasm of space, flying Nach into dock with Saffron 5. All of the minds of the humans and aliens upon that station could also be hers to control in the blink of an eye. Even while doing that, she is still probing Qhobeg without sacrificing focus.

    Then, suddenly, she stops. There's a crack in the darkness and through the crack is a white room. It looks like a padded cell. And inside she can see him. She can see Qhobeg there.

    Judge: "Qho--Qhobeg!!"

    "Judge... I'm... dead..."

    Judge: "No! No you're not!"

    She laughs.

    Judge: "You're trapped in here. Trapped in your own mind. I'm here to get you out."

    The brown-haired man looks up through the crack and smiles at her. It's a warm but sad smile.

    Qhobeg: "Of course you never gave up on me. Judge, Hero of the Hour. Determination is your middle name!"

    Judge: "Damn straight! When there's a will..."

    Qhobeg: "But there's no way, this time. I'm... already gone. This is it. This is all that's left of me. It's not enough, Judge. I'm so happy you came here, I really am. You've come to save me... by letting me go..."

    Judge: "I... Yes, of course I'll... I'll let you go..."

    Qhobeg: "You can understand what I'm saying? It's you that's holding me here. Always has been. Some part of your mind was always latched to mine and... wouldn't let me go. I already died, Judge. I... this is it. I've been in torture all this time, stuck in this void. A small pinprick of existence, like I'm locked in a room forever..."

    Judge: "I'm... sorry for that. I didn't even know..."

    Qhobeg: "Of course not. More powerful than you know, Judge."

    Judge: "But now I am powerful! I'm going to save you!"

    "Stop! Think! Don't ignore me! There's nothing to save! This is it... I'm not enough to fill this mind. I'm just the faint memory of an existence that needs to... I need to be set free..."

    Judge: "No! No! Now I have the power to save you, Qho! I have the power to... save you..."

    "It's not you, baby, it's me."

    He laughs. It's forced but it feels genuine. Judge can't help but laugh too, even through her tears.

    Judge: "It can't happen like this, Qho... I came here... I have become... to save you! I can't-- I CAN'T let you go!"

    She reaches her fingers into the gap and, for a sweet brief moment she can feel him. The entire room feels like him. It's faint, it's small, but it's there. That tiny sensation of love. His silliness, his vanity, his friendliness, his hope. Everything that made him, every wonderful flaw, every grand dream. It's now a tiny, little speck of a presence that she, unwittingly, imprisoned here all this time.

    Judge: "I'm sorry I'm so selfish..."

    Qhobeg: "Hey. It's... it's okay to be selfish. I would be too..."

    He reaches up and their fingers touch.

    Qhobeg: "Break me out of here, hero girl."

    Judge: "... you bet. Jailbird."

    She then starts to pull on the crack with both hands, pulling it apart. She cries out with effort as she pulls and she knows the task shouldn't be difficult for her newly advanced mind... it's because she's fighting against herself, that part of her that refuses to let go. She pulls and feels the crack grow wider. Qhobeg smiles up at her.

    "Remember to hate me, okay?"

    Judge: "Don't make me laugh, I'm busy, stupid!"

    Qhobeg: "Remember all the annoying things I said? How many times you told me to shut up?"

    Judge: "But I never really wanted you to shut up! I don't want it..."

    Qhobeg: "Then just think how happy everyone else will be, right!?"

    She laughs and, suddenly, the job seems easier. The crack breaks and the room instantly expands and envelops the darkness with golden light and a single white spark. She watches it as it dims.

    And then darkness returns and she realises she is probing for a mind that doesn't exist anymore...

  4. #84
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Mind-span

    Benjamin Mahir sits in the common room for Orbital One. It's a spacious room with a high ceiling and lights that hang low. The wall is essentially one humongous television screen and before it is a very wide U-shaped modern sofa with soft grey fabric that he now sits on. Usually he'd lounge on it, watching a classic action movie or playing some Wii U, but this evening he sits with his elbows resting on his knees as he intently stares at the recorded video footage from the morning. The two-hundred mile tribute to Qhobeg slowly moves along the streets of Washington D.C. with the hearse at its centre and police vehicles all around. People stand at the sides of the road and as the procession reaches them they begin to walk along with the vehicles until, finally, the long line of cars has passed them by.

    To those in the know he was Qhobeg #2, the second in a line of clones created in Canada. But to the world he was THE Qhobeg. The man. The hero.

    Benjamin sees his own vehicle pass by on the camera where he and Dr R. Deep were being transported just behind the hearse. It had been a sombre morning with little to no talking. Oddly Benjamin was convinced Deep was thinking about more than just Qhobeg's death and Ben himself had to think of his own mortality. One day could it be his own procession that people are watching?

    He fears that prospect and yet he sees the love and respect of the world awash on the streets of Washington and can't help but hope he would have such honours should he fall in service to them.

    "First Nick. Now Qhobeg..."

    Though startled by the sudden voice, it's so dulled by melancholy he doesn't even turn to look at the former angel standing in the open arch to the common room. Seraphim walks in, her liquid light illuminates the dark room and Ben finally turns away from the television-wall if only to wince. She sits next to him and for a while they watch the procession in silence.


    Across the galaxy Millicent Tarq stomps down the metal corridor of the primed and ready battlestation of The Primary Order. Though the Galactic Empire of the Milky Way was cowed and defeated by The Republic, forced to sign an accordance to make the remnants of the empire a lonely branch of The Republic itself, the resurgence is at hand. Those unwilling to enter the crippled imperial branch of The Republic sequestered themselves to the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the gaze of The Republic. Finding themselves sharing space with the High Empire, the newly formed Primary Order has kept its borderworlds quiet and small, unwilling to enter confrontation on two fronts. At the heart of the new empire, however, is a massive, technologically aggressive power that is determined to win back the seat of the Empire, overthrow the corrupt Republic and restore true order to their neck of the galaxy.

    And Millicent Tarq is the newly appointed ambassador for negotiations. While it would be nice if The Republic were the only contender for the galaxy, it isn't and to that end talks must be maintained with the other factions, especially the High Empire that lurks on The Order's borders.

    While the capital world of The Order is constantly being moved, switching between a set of planets deep at its heart, the new battlestation is being considered the military's mobile HQ and it is there that Millicent is due to get her orders for her new role before she sets off for a very different spacestation.

    Millicent enters her room and walks straight over to the mirror where she looks at her beautiful face. Even now there's a look of superiority to the eyes, the angle of the nose. There's a tiny scar to the right of her chin that somehow only adds to her outrageous beauty. She plays with her cheeks like they're made of Plasticine. She pulls a tongue at herself.

    Millicent: "This is pretty damn cool."

    All of the information she had known, the recent history, the job and even the location of her room. It all came to her mind as though it were her own. But it isn't her own. It's currently under the control of Judge, whose own body is still back on Orbital One.

    Millicent skips through the room and, arbitrarily, throws a pillow. Judge is somewhat horrified with how easily she's able to control every aspect of this woman's life. Her mind, her body. Everything is Judge's to play with however she likes. Before exiting the woman's mind she lies down on the bed and wipes her most recent memories - Millicent Tarq will wake up in bed as though she'd fallen asleep.


    Onision a slave. And he likes being a slave.

    He stands in the slave den and looks from the cart he was carrying, filled with a pile of meat and vegetables, to the cages around him where he can see other slaves. These slaves clearly
    don't like being slaves. But unlike them Onision loves his masters Ms Hadara and Lady Galesh - two green-skinned Orions. He looks up as one of the two women, Ms Hadara, walks lazily down the stairs. She's wearing a nightgown loosely tethered with a sash and her hair is a wild, yet alluring, mess. Evidently she's just woken up.

    She has a cup of some hot brew that she drinks as she approaches.

    "What're you doing, Onision? Dish out the food before they start wailing."

    He nods and pulls the cart along to begins the process he's performed every day for the past ten years of his life. He opens a small gate to the first cage and, with his bare hands, grabs a chunk of meat and drops it onto the empty tin plate that the slave is holding out. Then go on the two vegetables. He closes the small gate and moves onto the next cage. Then the next. Then the next.

    When the last slave has their meal Onision stands and stares at them all. Different species, different genders. Here a fox-like man, there a human girl with cat ears, and then a blue-skinned woman with bark-like hair. He turns his head and finds a short woman with jet black skin looking up at him over her chunk of meat. Her hair is sky blue and her eyes are yellow. Despite having the features of a woman she looks to have the build of an adolescent human. Onision thinks of what she is. A drow.

    The drow continues to stare at him as she slowly chews. Onision cocks his head at her as realises that she's able to sense his aura and that aura isn't reading true.

    Judge falters for a moment and starts to play with the mind she's in, altering perceived external brainwaves so that they should read as Onision's own pattern. Judge admires her handiwork - even mind scans and aura scans won't be able to detect her. But the drow now narrows her eyes at Onision in wonderment.

    That stare makes Judge's decision for her.

    Onision turns to look up at Ms Hadara who finally notices him standing about doing nothing. She just groans at him as though he is a stupid dog.

    Hadara: "Onision, if you've finished you can go and play in the yard or something."

    He blinks.

    Ms Hadara blinks too. Again and again. Her eyes flutter and she grabs her skull. A small cough marks her sudden and unexpected death from a brain haemorrhage and her body slumps to the floor. The slaves all stare in wonder and disbelief.

    Hian Woman: "Is-is she dead, Onision? Check!"

    Onision: "She's dead."

    Judge's mind expands across the whole slave den and finds the guards, the tenants, the workers.

    Onision: "Now they're all dead."

    The drow woman throws down her meat and crawls excitedly to the cage bars.

    Drow woman: "You're here to set us free, right?"

    Onision nods.

    Onision: "There's transport ships just outside. If one of you can pilot it, you'll be able to escape."

    The transport ships are the ships used to ferry slaves to the den for storage before they're then moved on to be sold. Luckily this means there's a lot of them.

    But what to do with Onision?

    Judge finds, in his mind, that he has killed and tortured at his master's commands. He doesn't have to find a key for the cages, Judge just opens them. As the slaves emerge wearily the last slaver dies - Onision drops dead.


    Judge almost throws herself off of her bed as she wakes up gasping. She had essentially just killed herself and the experience was not a pleasant one. As she gasps for air she thinks of what she'd just done. It was nothing she wouldn't have done in person, any mission with Hero Force One may well have ended the same way but it leaves her feeling cold that she was able to do it from across the whole galaxy. She's now the human equivalent of a drone strike and she isn't even sure if she has the right to be rescuing people from worlds not her own. Could she solve every problem of the galaxy? Save everyone, defeat every evil?

    Should she?

    She climbs back onto her bed. She hadn't meant to drift into others' minds. Upon sleeping her mind went on its own merry wanderings and she'd found herself living the lives of many people throughout the galaxy. She throws the quilt over her and, still exhausted, she closes her eyes to sleep.


    On a planet strangely named Oogilove, Knightlord Thorn has spent a few days investigating proceedings of the regional manager for the High Empire. He's kept his distance and merely probes from afar, not wanting to let his presence be known.

    Thorn is a proud, arrogant man with a superiority complex that would put even Millicent Tarq to contest. He stands straight-backed as he marches down the corridors of the little-known planetbase. Once he enters one oft he staff offices he decides, in Judge's infinite wisdom, that this would be a great time to do himself some much needed humiliation. He proceeds to perform an Irish jig before the staff who all stare agape. Thorn's reputation certainly takes a nosedive that day and Judge is left to have a good chuckle the next morning.

  5. #85

    A Heart to Heart

    As the TV continues displaying the late Qhobeg's procession, Benjamin Mahir turns his attention to Seraphim. She, in turn, notices and returns the attention with a face practiced in high diplomacy.

    Benjamin Mahir: "It bothered me to be around Qhobeg. You know, when he was alive. Him just being around always reminded me of my time with the NeS Heroes. My life might be in constant danger here in Hero Force One, and yet it made sense, and those other guys made me question my sanity. In some ways, I was most afraid when in his presence, just as you have been with me."

    Seraphim: "I'm not afraid of you--"

    Benjamin Mahir: "I mean when I'm a rat."

    Seraphim: "Ben..."

    Benjamin Mahir: "It's OK. I'm used to it. I mean, it hurts that even an angel who could love even the Devil sees me that way, but it's expected."

    He opens his mouth to say something else when he notices Seraphim's flawless face cracks in hurt.

    Benjamin Mahir: "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean--"

    Seraphim: "No, you're right, and I should be the one to apologize to you."

    She places a hand on his shoulder.

    Seraphim: "I guess there's more than one reason to have kicked me out of heaven, right?"

    The ex-angel attempts a smile. It's the sort of smile both forced and genuine. Benjamin reluctantly smiles back.

    Benjamin Mahir: "It's who we are, I guess. I'm not sure who I am myself anymore, though. I mean, I've been a street rat, in more ways than one, for years now, just trying to get by while still trying to do some good by others. Then..."

    He takes off his cowboy hat, which has the handmade blue-and-orange crocheted hat inside.

    Benjamin Mahir: "Well, later, I got roped into this team with you all, and that's both a huge honor and horror, let me tell you. But at least with you guys, I was doing good, even if I wasn't much help. Doctor Deep told me I needed to keep this team grounded, but in the end, that crazy plan with Qhobeg worked and... and yet I have to wonder what karma leads to a good guy like him... maybe if I had just spoken up more or... or be willing to believe in..."

    As he struggles to not choke on his own words, Seraphim hugs him close. Even without any divine healing magic, Benjamin felt more at ease as tears fall down his face.

    Seraphim: "It's not your fault, Ben. I know you feel small and helpless now, but you're part of the best group fighting for good for a reason."

    Benjamin Mahir: "...because you guys needed a new Company Kid?"

    Seraphim: "Uh... well, yes."

    He looks at her questioningly.

    Seraphim: "...and because you've got real talent! Real gifts!"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Sneaking around and being a rat...?"

    Seraphim: "Do you know how many times I've had to heal Sam back from fatal wounds and talk down everyone who wanted our heads for his collateral damage? What I wouldn't have given for someone who perfectly heals their own wounds and gets the job done without destroying half a city? You've been the Company Kid up to now, but you're no kid, and we don't need just company. We need you..."

    She gently takes the blue-and-orange hat out of the cowboy hat and holds it up to Ben.

    Seraphim: "...and I think you know who you are already."

    Benjamin Mahir looks at the homemade hat once again, then at Seraphim with growing confidence. As he's about to speak, though, there's a loud knocking at the door. Uneasily, the two get up and answer the door, with Benjamin Mahir standing behind Seraphim, having wiped his eyes before the door opened. A government agent-type man stands before them in an intimidatingly official manner.

    Gov. Agent: "Benjamin Mahir."

    Confused, Benjamin Mahir steps forward a bit.

    Gov. Agent: "The Company Kid Board of Directors requires your presence in Executive Conference Room Five."

    Seraphim: "Who gave them authorization to enter this station?"

    Gov. Agent: "You did, ma'am, exactly three weeks ago. They've been scheduled for some time to discuss matters of the Company Kid since the departure of The Patriot."

    Ben turns up to look at Seraphim with pleading, almost fearful eyes. She takes notice.

    Seraphim: "I must apologize to them on the team's behalf that Benjamin Mahir cannot attend today due to the loss of our college and friend, Qhobeg, of which we still need time to mourn."

    The agent, while specifically hired to be of a calibur worthy of serving for Hero Force One, still pauses in consideration of Seraphim's standing before continuing.

    Gov. Agent: "Ma'am, the Board of Directors represents several of the highest-paying sponsors of not just the Company Kid, but of Hero Force itself. Many of the directors have already dropped, and the rest have threatened to do the same. They will not tolerate a postponement at this juncture."

    The feathers of the angel's wings ruffle, and Ben prepares for an apocalyptic wrath to rain down. Instead, though, she nods as fitting for a politician.

    Seraphim: "Of course. Please escort us, then."

    Gov. Agent: "This invitation is for Mr. Mahir only, as stipulated by the Company Kid contract. I'm sorry, ma'am."

    She does an admirable job of hiding her clenched jaw as she gently nudges Ben out the door.

    Seraphim: "Don't worry, Ben. It's just their usual annual meeting. It'll be over before you know it."

    The ex-angel bends down to be face-to-face with Benjamin. She seems to cradle his head with her hands, and she brings her face right next to his. In the intimacy of the moment, Ben almost doesn't notice that Seraphim places a wireless earpiece into one of his ears.

    Seraphim: "I'll watch over you. Beware what they say."

    She kisses him gently on the cheeck, then stands back up.

    Seraphim: "I'll see you soon!"

    Gov. Agent: "Come with me, Mr. Mahir."

    Benjamin Mahir gulps as he follows the government agent down the space station hallways...

  6. #86

    A Rat Among Rats

    Benjamin Mahir glances around as the government agent escorts him to the conference room. Despite having some time with Hero Force One now, and his own former family's upper-class upbringing, he still found the space station a spectacle to behold even in its most nondescript of hallways. As they approach the doors to Executive Conference Room Five, he can hear Seraphim's voice in his earpiece.

    Seraphim: "I'll help you with any negotiations, but under no circumstances can you reveal I can hear or talk to you, understand?"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Yes."

    Seraphim: "Don't respond back to me!"

    The agent turns curiously to Benjamin Mahir.

    Gov. Agent: "Excuse me?"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Uh, just getting myself pumped, you know? Yes! Yes! I'm ready for this!"

    Gov. Agent: "Right... what a job... this way."

    The agent gestures to the door. Benjamin Mahir, looking for an escape, thinks on his feet.

    Benjamin Mahir: "Uh, so can I hit the toilets before this? I really got to go."

    The government agent points to a door right across.

    Gov. Agent: "Be quick."

    Benjamin Mahir: "Thanks -- be back in a jiffy, ha ha!"

    He scurries off to the toilets. Inside are a couple stalls, a few urinals, and a row of sinks, all of which appear far too impressive for where people piss and ****. He looks around for vents or windows, but finds no obvious secret escape routes.

    Benjamin Mahir: "Damn."

    Seraphim: "What are you doing in the restroom?"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Trying to escape, what's it look like?"

    Seraphim: "What did I say?"

    Benjamin Mahir: "No talking."

    Seraphim: "You're still doing it!"

    Benjamin Mahir: "You're not making it easy, you know."

    Seraphim: "...fair point. Director's stopping in where you are."

    Benjamin Mahir: "Wha--"

    The restroom door opens, and a man who could be mistaken for a used car salesman in a very expensive business suit enters. Benjamin Majir quickly steps up to a urinal as if he was using it, while the director steps up to use the urinal directly next to him.

    Seraphim: "Isn't it usually bad etiquette to use the urinal right next to another when there are others?"

    Ben tries his best not to shout or wildly search for the cameras. The director seems to take little notice of him, whistling as he starts to pee.

    Seraphim: "I apologize for startling you, but I have to keep an eye on you while I can. You should know that the executive room's security cameras and microphones have been disabled during this meeting as part of Hero Force's privacy arrangement with the Board of Directors. I'll be able to hear you all well enough with your earpiece, though, so as long as you don't give our secret away, we'll be fine. You're good at being sneaky after all, right?"

    As Ben listens to Seraphim, he has failed to make a show of peeing of his own. The director takes notice.

    Director #1: "Shy on the gun, are we?"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Uh...."

    The director zips himself up and slaps Ben on the back.

    Director #1: "Ha ha! I used to have that problem myself! You'll get over it soon enough, bucko."

    Without flushing or even going to wash his hands, the director goes to step out. He points a finger, pistol-style, at Benjamin Mahir.

    Director #1: "See you soon, Kid."

    When the director leaves, Benjamin Mahir sighs with relieved disgust.

    Benjamin Mahir: "I lived in the sewers, and that was disgusting."

    Seraphim: "He's the cleanest of the lot, and I don't mean his hygeine. You better get back there -- they're waiting for you."

    He takes a deep breath, then proceeds back out the door. The government agent mans a post outside the conference room. Ben grabs the handle for one of the doors.

    Seraphim: "Remember, I'm here for you."

    When Benjamin Mahir enters, he first notices how long the curved conference table stretches out into almost a half-circle. The table would seem to easily fit two dozen people on the longer side, though Ben notices that only about a third are occupied. By the way the directors present sit, Benjamin can tell that they sit where they always have, and that they would normally fill at least the one side. The directors themselves, mostly men, seem to have rat-like features to them, whether it's slicked-back hair or sharp noses or beady eyes. Despite those features, they all have an aura of power to them, the sort of power that normally broker deals with Earth gods and their Mount Olympus timeshares. The one woman, who happens to be Oprah, gestures to a seat on the other side of the table in front of them.

    Oprah: "Have a seat, dear."

    Slowly, Ben takes his seat, now clearly the focal point of the other directors. Some of them shuffle through paper packets in folders they have in front of them.

    Director #2: "Welcome, Mr. Mahir. Relax."

    Seraphim: "They're attempting to lull you into a false sense of security. Try to look relaxed."

    Benjamin attempts to look relaxed, slumping to the side of his chair. He spots Director #1 and shoots a pistol finger. The director, however, seems to only give a stern look, as do the others in turn. Benjamin coughs, and straightens back up a bit.

    Director #3: "As you may be aware, Mr. Mahir, the role of the Company Kid on Hero Force One traditionally has been one of support, specifically to The Patriot, and has been upheld by many fine, upstanding young men willing to serve for America and the world at large since the earliest years of Hero Force's founding."

    Oprah: "And a fine job you've done! Why don't you take a look under your seat?"

    Seraphim: "Be careful."

    Ben reaches his hand cautiously under his seat, as if expecting there to be a bear trap laid for him. He feels a package, and pulls it up. He opens it up, to reveal an "Oprah" T-shirt and tickets to her show.

    Benjamin Mahir: "Tickets to the Oprah Show?"

    Seraphim: "Insidious."

    Benjamin Mahir: "Er...thanks."

    Seraphim: "Feign more interest!"

    Benjamin Mahir: "Thank you! It's--it's been my dream to see one of your shows in person."

    Oprah smiles, apparently pleased with Benjamin's response.

    Director #2: "Since the Patriot's...departure from Hero Force, however, the purpose of the Company Kid has been...lacking."

    Director #4: "You ain't makin' money for us no more."

    Director #5: "Now, now, let's not be so negative. He's the longest-living Kid in history, which is garnering some buzz on the social medias--"

    Director #4: "--which means diddly-squat! If there's no Patriot, there's no money to mooch off of! Nobody wants to watch this snot-nosed brat hide in some hole. They want to see him dash by the Patriot's side into lethal danger! It's tradition!"

    Director #6: "You well know that the popularity of both of them had been sinking since the late eighties."

    Director #5: "Yes, this is an opportunity to cash in on the millenials. They want change, "real" change!"

    Director #1: "And we could use the extra change, am I right?"

    All the directors give a hearty laugh. Ben blinks.

    Director #2: "Mr. Mahir, I'm afraid to say that many of the directors who used to be on this board don't have faith in what you can accomplish. We, on the other hand, have a little vision -- a vision of you not as kid, but as your own force to be reckoned with."

    Benjamin Mahir: "...really? Great! I was thinking maybe I could go by just M--"

    Director #2: "--so we have a few ideas we've been kicking around, and we want you to try them out so we can better visualize which ones work best. Right? Right."

    Seraphim: "Prepare for the worst, Ben."

    A projector turns on behind Benjamin Mahir, and he turns around to look at it. The image on display simply says "Company Kid: Plan B" in a rather plain PowerPoint fashion. Director #3 flips through the first few slides, and Benjamin only catches glimpses of descriptions like "CIA frames Patriot as Russian quadruple-agent", "Globalists need brain slug carrier", and "U.S bought out by China plan succeeds".

    Director #3: "Don't mind those. They're meant for us, and we've seen them already. Ah, here we go!"

    The image projects a young male model wearing a red and white baseball cap with a Hero Force logo on it, a blue and white short-sleeve hoodie and jeans. While the design vaguely resembles American colors, the ensemble mostly comes off as "urban hip" that's at least a decade out of date. The title says "Company Kid ver. 2 -- Mark-it Man"

    Oprah: "If you could get up and stand over there, the materializer should do the rest."

    Seraphim: "It's the pad probably in front of you. It projects holograms, which we usually use to examine dangerous materials in three dimensions. They want you to try on their outfits."

    Benjamin stands up and onto the pad. Holographic projections simulate the clothes onto him, though they're not quite opaque in their projection. As Ben moves around, the holographic clothes mostly follow him.

    Director #1: "Mark-it Man is all people love in the Company Kid's support role for today's kids. When he's not helping the team out of a jam, he takes care of his pet and closest friend, Corey, his cybernetic corgi. When the time gets tough, though, Mark-it Man points at his target and issues a morale-boosting rally, whether it's to tell a teammate what they're doing well or to help them attack an enemy. Now, Ben, turn the cap on your head backwards. It's like you're flipping a switch, into serious mode, and say "Magick, go get 'em!" as enthusiastically as you can."

    Benjamin Mahir: "Uh... here I go... Magick, go get that guy!"

    Director #6: "I'm not feeling it."

    Director #5: "I tried telling you already, we can't just rip off Ash Ketchum guys -- the Internet will roast it and Nintendo will be on our asses before we even get the first press release out."

    Director #1: "Fine. I'll have a harder time writing off the seven billion dollar corgi project as a tax write-off though."

    The slide moves onto the next image, this time of the young male model wearing wear appears to be a mostly black police uniform with some red and blue accents, complete with sunglasses. On the back, and in the title above, text reads "Homeland Hero" in white. The same outfit materializes onto Ben.

    Director #4: "The Homeland Hero not only reminds people of the good ol' U.S.-of-A. and the protection that patriots of the heartland loved with the Patriot and the Company Kid, but the kids will eat up the dark, edgey sleek black look. And of course, GUNS!"

    The image of Rugar pistols hover approximately in Benjamin's hands, while larger rifles appear strapped to his back.

    Oprah: "You do realize police brutality and gun shooting deaths have been the highlight of every American news network for the past five weeks, right?"

    Director #4: "That's liberal media slander, and you know it! We produce it, after all."

    Director #3: "Next!"

    The next slide shows the young male model in relatively trendy, colorful and casual-for-a-golf-course attire. As the hologram outfit projects onto Ben, his pistol is replaced with a flashy smartphone, and headphones appear around his neck. The title on the slide just reads "Insert Title Here"

    Director #5: "I call it "Party Plus-One" and this hero's all about keeping the action fun and connected with all the people he cares about! Verizon and Sprint are already on board with the idea, and we're negotiating with Facebook on an augmented reality app so people can pretend they're saving the Earth too right along with Hero Force One."

    Director #2: "Isn't the plus-one thing part of Google Plus's gimmick?"

    Director #5: "Nobody uses that. Besides, the Google gorgon director dropped out of this board -- they ain't gettin' **** now."

    Director #7: "Hey, this Ben guy's British, right? Isn't England looking for a Judge-replacement? Maybe we can slap a clock on him and call him Big Ben, eh?"

    Director #6: "Are you high?"

    Director #7: "It's 4:20 somewhere, right?"

    Seraphim: "Ben, listen. I know these are all terrible, but just play along for now. Tell them you think you can make Party Plus One work. It doesn't matter if you can convince them or not, we'll get the lawyers on it and let you pick your own--"

    Director #1: "Hey, kid, you look like you got something stuck in your ear."

    Benjamin Mahir: "Wha.... what do you mean?"

    Before he can object though, Director #1 leans over the table and pulls Ben to him, then pulls the earpiece out. The other directors look at Ben suspiciously.

    Benjamin Mahir: "I, uh... must have forgotten to take out my Hero Force communicator from our last mission. Is that a problem?"

    Oprah: "Maybe you weren't told, so we'll let this slide, but this board has exclusive and non-disclosure privacy agreements. We can't chance our competitors stealing top secret information."

    Executive #1 crushes the earpiece surprisngly well in his fingers.

    Executive #2: "Let's table this discussion, shall we? After all, Mr. Mahir here isn't any ol' Company Kid. He's the byproduct of the famous Doctor Flint, who's rumored to have created the perfect zooanthropy, one with perfect regenerative healing properties. There's a lot of people willing to pay good money for the blood flowing in his veins."

    Executive #4: "We could market a whole crapload of cloned fodder that never needs medical attention!"

    Executive #3: "And before you get any funny ideas, kid, know that if you leave now, we're all pulling our plugs on this operation, with a lot of broke and disgruntled superheroes who know who to blame."

    Benjamin Mahir begins to sweat.

    Executive #7: "Awww, but I didn't get to show my proposal!"
    Last edited by Gebohq; 07-13-2016 at 01:44 AM.

  7. #87
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Path of Vengeance

    A new shakeup of divisions in the Hero Force Team has led to new designations and meaning for the numbering system. Once each number represented a team of empowered individuals to a greater or lesser degree. With the losses of many teams and a shift in focus and more and more superhero units in the world rise to prominence, the system for Hero Force has changed.

    Hero Force Five is now the designated 'military division'.

    Almost all of the soldiers for Hero Force Five are American and, in true American fashion, they blare funky rock music out of their armoured cars as they roll into battle. Turrets fire, pasting a battery of projectiles down the dirt road towards the escaping vehicles. A few bullets whirl back in retaliation but the enemy is mostly pinned down. Hanging out of one of the windows is Seraphim - kick-arse angel and utter distraction to many of the soldiers, both male and female alike, because she was practically naked and her butt was sticking up in the passengers' seat. The driver, managing to keep his focus on the road better than the soldiers, is Agent Barnes.

    "Closer, Barnes."

    He puts his foot down and speeds forward. The jeep makes a satisfying vroooooom!

    They pass by the other military vehicles, in one of which Seraphim glances the newly dubbed 'Hero Plus One'. A small spy-cam sits on his shoulder, ready to lift off and buzz about. While the device was sold as 'spy tech' for is hero persona, in fact its major purpose is to take snapshots of the action and broadcast blurbs and snippets to the action-hungry public. The thing would follow Ben about even if he transformed into his rattus norvegicus form, the spycam being small enough to whiz after the rodent even into small pipes and holes.

    The camera wouldn't, of course, beam live (unless specified for a live showing) in case of filming screw-ups or the like. Besides it was all about photographs these days. Photographs that could later be turned into annoying memes.

    Agent Barnes: "If you're going go--"

    She is already out of the car, having kicked open the door. Her wings, burst into existence and spread wide. With a single beat she is thrust into the air above the jeep. She glides there for a moment, judging the distance, and then swoops down towards the escaping car. She lands on its roof, as dignified and gently as if she'd taken the last step of a staircase.

    A bullet bursts through the roof, narrowly missing her. That prompts her to action. She grabs the roof and gives it a yank, tearing it off of the car as though she were opening a tin can. The people inside start yelling at each other, screaming at her and aim their guns. She grabs the closest gun and throws it from the car, along with herself. While the weapon clatters to the road, she barrel rolls away from the car and watches their bullets strike nothingness. She then moves back in and grabs the target by his shirt.

    Moments later she's high above the land and the squealing man is dangling above certain doom.

    Seraphim: "You know what we want to know."

    He babbles in Korean.

    She lets him go.

    One short drop comes to a sudden stop as she grabs him again. Suddenly he remembers he can speak English.

    N. Korean Soldier:
    "I'll tell you! Please put me down!"


    Those that are still awake, unaffected by Judge's 'Great Sleep', are able to now login to the Hero Force website and see snapshots of Hero Force One in North Korea. It wasn't unusual for them to be there. They'd liberated the country from various dictators several times. However this time they have another mission. On the screen is a collage of shots with the title 'Path to Vengeance'. Beneath is a live char for Hero Force One fans and critics alike to comment on this latest mission.


    Flax Hyperon waggles his tricorder.

    He waggles it again.

    High Imp: "It won't work here."

    Flax: "The most sophisticated scanning equipment from the Daisy Federation and it's useless..."

    Magick: "Daisy Federation?"

    Flax nods absently.

    Flax: "Space-tree huggers if you ask me. Great parties though. Lots of dancing naked around fires on Hippitastic VI."

    Magick: "Sometimes I don't know if you really are speaking English or some alien language..."

    High Imp: "The demonic invocations have warped the fabric of reality here. You should be careful lest you slip out of space-time and wind up somewhere... unsavoury."

    Despite the dire warning he gives Magick a malicious grin. She glares at him.

    Magick: "You can't scare me."

    High Imp: "It's not me you have to be afraid of."

    Flax: "Did I ever tell you about the Planet of the Succubi?"

    High Imp: "I'm beginning to wonder about your age, space captain. The number of stories you have suggests you've lived a longer life than I'd give you credit for."

    Flax: "I just like to keep myself busy."

    High Imp:
    "Very busy."

    Magick: "How can we find Xiu Shan Fang without the scanner?"

    High Imp: "There's more than one way to find someone like The Fang..."

    "We're calling her The Fang now?"

    Flax: "That's what the kid's message said..."

    Magick: "I suppose that's kind of a cool villain name, right? Oh! I wonder if they'll make a new toy series for her!?"

    Flax: "Now I don't understand what you just said..."

    High Imp: "An demonically possessed threat reduced to an action figure?"

    Magick: "You're an action figure too, you know?"

    High Imp: "I saw..."

    Magick: "They made some that speak too! Your catchphrases are all... demony!"

    High Imp chooses not to respond to that. He has lived for longer than either of these fools could imagine, triumphed over countless enemies, travelled across planes of existence few could ever even conceive of and now... he's reduced to 'demony'.

    Flax: "This fog is peculiar..."

    High Imp: "Just one more trick to obscure herself from her stalkers. But she cannot hide herself from me. I sense the demon that writhes within her. I find it delicious that Deep caused this. Such an entertaining mess."

    Magick: "You're not supposed to celebrate when things go wrong, High Imp."

    High Imp: "Isn't fixing wrong things what your little team is supposed to do, Little Hero?"

    Magick: "Our team, High Imp. You're on the team, remember?"

    High Imp: "I am, aren't I?"

    He grins again at this and Magick feels very unsettled. She wishes she could feel a deeper trust for the demon but all of the warnings against his kind and his own mysterious temperament makes it difficult. Yet, so far, he has proven entirely honest.

    He lazily points.

    High Imp: "This way."

    Flax snaps his tricorder to his utility belt and, instead, takes his blaster in hand. Magick likewise readies her most immediate defensive spell upon the tips of her fingers. She feels the aether tingling around her fingertips as it eagerly laps at her skin, wanting to be transformed into glorious magic.

    They trek through the thick fog for half an hour, though it felt much longer, before High Imp stops them. He gestures and the two humans lean over to see a deep pit in the ground with a spiralling staircase that leads down, down, down into darkness.

    Magick: "Really? Why couldn't she have chosen a nice beach or something?"

    Flax taps a circular pad upon the strap running diagonally across his chest. It illuminates brilliantly. He takes the first step and, with a last glance at the others, he heads down the staircase first. Magick goes second and High Imp last. Magick conjures a small light orb that floats above her head. High Imp seems happy enough to venture about without the aid of light...

  8. #88
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow A New Plan

    The spiral staircase seems to take an eternity as they slowly trek down, down, down into the earth. Instead of fog to obscure their path, they have the utter darkness. A couple of times Magick nearly lost her footing as she stumbles about. The light of her orb doesn't manage to illuminate the entire borehole, as though the darkness itself is unnatural.

    Flax seems to be more than capable despite having a limited light source of his own. He tiptoes down the stairs as nimbly as any cat and even manages a moment to survey their surroundings with a 'ready for action pose' that had already caught on on social media with lots of popular 'Flax memes'.

    Just when Magick is ready to give up and rest, they finally reach the bottom of The Pit. Down here it seems unusually hot and Magick fans herself with a light magical breeze. She lifts up her big witch hat to let the breeze blow through her hair. She can feel sweat building up on her forehead already.

    Magick: "She certainly likes the heat, doesn't she?"

    High Imp: "What demon doesn't?"

    Magick: "Right..."

    High Imp: "Actually there are quite a few that don't, but I'm really alluding to the common stereotype."

    Magick: "They don't? Like who?"

    High Imp: "Baal would be the first that comes to mind. He resides in the Frozen Wastes of Hrandir where his great forge lies in Mount Athirat--"

    Flax: "History lessons aside, I sense we'll find our quarry up ahead."

    High Imp: "Considering how often you're so quick to regale us with your historical exploits of pointlessness, educating the child on demonic strongholds seems highly prudent given the scenario we're in..."

    Magick: "I'm not a child."


    The space hero, completing ignoring High Imp, sneaks on ahead and they're resigned to follow after him. They traverse a narrow passage until it suddenly expels them into a large chamber where they can gaze down from their vantage point onto a gathering of people who are chanting mysterious words that only High Imp can understand. Flax and Magick crawl to the ledge and watch while High Imp observes from the shadows behind them, a cold and calculating stare on his stony face.

    As they watch the gathering of people moves aside so that an unconscious man could be dragged through their midst towards a tall statue at the end of the cavernous room. The statue is that of a gigantic insect, much like a fly, atop of carving of larvae. Creeps jump down Magick's spine as she sees it and she holds a hand over her mouth in disgust.

    The stomach of the statue then opens and from inside steps Xiu Shan Fang. She's is coated from head-to-toe in blood. She raises her head towards the ceiling and wipes her hair from her face as casually as if she were covered in rainwater. She grins with glee at the new sacrifice and points towards the stomach of the statue. Inside Magick can glimpse mountains of gore and body parts. She can't help but whimper and wriggle closer to Flax. She glances at his face to see it unusually stern.

    When her eyes float back to the scene below she's suddenly horrified to see that someone else is now down there - High Imp.

    His voice trails up towards them in the echo-laden room.

    High Imp: "Greetings, servant of Beelzebub. I come bearing offerings for you and your divine sacrifice..."

    Flax: "That snake!"

    Magick: "I don't think he means--"

    High Imp points up at them.

    Magick: "Oh dear..."

    The two of them jump to their feet, ready to run, but Fang suddenly bursts out of a flaming wall before them - blocking them from their only escape route. Flax fires a plasma pistol at her, a green beam of light streaks towards her, but it's merely absorbed as heat energy. She smiles at him as though he were a mischievous child that was calling her silly names.

    Magick, learning from this, conjures as sudden snowstorm but even as the shards of ice begin to fall Magick is struck by a blast of fire that knocks her off of her feet and throws her into the air - above a drop that would lead to certain death. She reverts her magic into a well practised spell of wind that allows her to ease herself down gently to the ground. The worshippers circle around her but do not advance. Up at the top Flax enters into fisticuffs with Fang but is quickly, and frankly quite easily, defeated by the nimble and demonically possessed Chinese woman. She snags him by the neck and dangles him off of the cliff.

    Magick: "No! High Imp, help him!"

    High Imp: "You can't kill him until our deal is done, Fang."

    The worshippers gather beneath the cliff and hold their arms up. She drops him. He doesn't cry out and Magick fancies Flax is staring up at Fang with vengeance as he falls into the waiting arms of the flock. They grab him and he's safely deposited on the ground where he's then pushed into the inner circle with Magick and High Imp.

    Magick: "This is some kind of plan, right?"

    She mutters to High Imp.

    High Imp: "Of course. It is my plan at least. Not one you would like very much though. Perhaps I should have handed you my resignation first?"

    Magick: "A-are you serious? Do you mean...?"

    High Imp: "I shall grant you their lives as sacrifice in return for siphoning some of your power and connection to Lord Beelzebub."

    Fang disappears from above and reappears below.

    Fang: "Why would I agree to that?"

    The fire of her teleport dampens gradually as licks of flame still linger on.

    High Imp: "They would make an excellent sacrifice, would they not? And they are your sworn enemies..."

    Fang: "... fine. Agreed."

    High Imp: "Surprisingly easy. I'm always fond of those who are quick to accept the task at hand. You made a good choice today."

    Magick: "But... I thought that--!"

    High Imp: "Thought what? I worked with your team for the sake of acquiring more power from you. And now I can gain more power than I could from you directly. Siphoning power from Beelzebub shall grant me power here and in the domains of Hell... a minor title will be mine. It isn't much but it is a step upon the ladder through the echelons of rank."

    Fang closes her eyes and whips an arm up, spraying globs of blood into Magick's face. She cries out and wipes away the blood. When she opens her eyes again she sees a haze of light passing from Fang to High Imp. It takes but a few seconds before Fang relinquishes her channelling and pants with exertion.

    High Imp: "Then, I grant these two Hero Force One members to you, Fang. I go to the domains below to claim my prize..."

    He turns but pauses.

    High Imp: "Of course now you must be wary, servant of Beelzebub. As we now share the siphon of Beelzebub, you are weaker than you were... and should you fall..."

    Fang: "Now I see why you would settle this so easily. They have a fighting chance against me and if they win... you get all of my power? Never deal with the devil, they do say."

    High Imp: "I believe you already did that."

    High Imp vanishes but his words echo in the ears of Magick. A fighting chance is something. Her hand is instantly in the air and recasts the ice storm spell she'd tried earlier. This time Fang isn't fast enough to fight and she retreats as shards of ice pummel the worshippers. Flax has a second gun out, this one apparently coming from a 'secret place', and he fires as sting of red energy into the first worshipper unable to escape the ice shower.

    Flax: "Hopefully backup will be here any time soo--"

    Suddenly there's a chorus of voices as Ffion Heul draws her ruhand above them.

    Ffion: "I hope I didn't keep you waiting."

    She jumps down from the perch and cuts down a worshipper she lands on. With a follow up strike she cuts through another.

    She had been waiting for the main group to get further ahead, the idea being she could provide additional backup in case of emergency. A plan that, for once, seems to have worked like a charm. She grabs one worshipper with her mind and tosses him into the others, bowling them over where they're they bombarded by ice.

    Flax: "Where did Fang go!? Don't let her escape!"

    Ffion: "Where'd the ugly guy go?"

    Flax: "He's gone. Quick! After Fang!"

  9. #89
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Magick: I trusted him.

    Seraphim: I know. Even though I didn't, not fully, I didn't expect him to betray us like that.

    Magick: You're an angel, I thought you'd distrust him most.

    Seraphim: Fallen angel.

    She suppresses a wince as she says it. It's still somewhat unpleasant to think of herself that way. Yes, she willingly left heaven's ranks, but it's hard to relinquish millennia of belief that fallen angels are terrible.

    Seraphim: And so is he. Most demons were always demons, but High Imp - he was once an angel, the mightiest and best of them. And like me, he left heaven for love.

    Magick: You have Acidspitter. Where's his girl? Or guy?

    Seraphim: Girl. She chose another man over him, and then died. Tore him to pieces.

    Magick: Ugh, don't make me feel sympathy for the guy. He just handed us over to Fang.

    Seraphim: Wasn't going for sympathy. Was just giving you the background. I always knew he'd leave HFO, but... I don't know. I guess we had less in common than I thought.

    Seraphim's cell phone rings, and she answers it. It's her sort-of boyfriend Acidspitter, also known as Mister Nine, the ruler of Hell. After a few flirtatious comments, Acidspitter updates her on the status of Fang's imprisonment in Canada's internment chambers.

    Acidspitter (on phone): But can't you tell me about the fight? It was all epic and action-y, wasn't it?

    Seraphim: I wasn't there. It was Flax and Magick and Ffion. They had one of Ben's spycams with them, get that recording.

    Seraphim and Acidspitter are still deep in conversation with no signs of winding down any time soon, so Magick gets up and goes to her bedroom. She is surprised to see a piece of parchment rolled up and tied with a black ribbon, on her bedside table. Curious, she picks it up, and wrinkles her nose at the slightly sulfuric scent wafting from it. She unties the ribbon and unrolls the parchment to reveal a blank page.

    Magick: Well, that's bloody useless.

    But then, words start scratching themselves across the parchment in marks of flame, which leave behind scars of writing seared into the page. Magick reads it in fascination.

    'You think I betrayed you. Perhaps I did.
    But I gave you the means to defeat Fang, by weakening her.
    Remember this.
    If ever you wish to make a pact, call my name, and I will hear.
    You know I always honor the pacts I make, child.'

    Magick: I'm not a bloody child!

    More words scritch themselves onto the parchment. 'P.S. You are a child, next to me. I have lived untold millennia.'

    Magick looks around.

    Magick: Can you HEAR me?

    Before she can think about the ramifications of a security leak like that, a last sentence burns onto the parchment. 'No, I am not listening in. But you are very predictable. Farewell.'

    Magick rereads the letter once more, then, with a determined set to her jaw, she balls it up and tosses it into the incinerator.

    Magick: I trusted that fiend once. Never again.

    And yet, his words remain in her mind...

  10. #90
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow YouTube

    HPO: "Check out those smooth move from Flax Hyperon."

    Benjamin Mahir glances off camera for just an instant. When he speaks again he's making a concerted effort to give his speech 'more enthusiasm'.

    HPO: "Ffion Heul uses her 'super cool' Ćon powers to bring Fang down."

    Magick slurps her cuppa soup as she watches the video on the team's channel on YouTube.

    HPO: "But... oh no. Fang is back up and meaner than ever. I really cannot believe it... really cannot."

    Despite Ben's lacklustre commentary, Magick is just as enthused as any other HFO fan seeking out the badass action. She bounces unconsciously in her seat as she watches Flax try to lasso the Asian supervillain with a degree of success before she grabs hold of him.

    HPO: "It seems the legendary... charm--"

    Ben seems to begrudge the word.

    "--can't overcome this unfeeling woman. Luckily Ffion to the rescue while everyone's favourite, Magick, keeps the other enemies at bay."

    Magick smirks at being called 'everyone's favourite'. She certainly hopes that's true.

    HPO: "And Ffion uses her ruhand to cut off a leg! Uh-- sorry. That didn't happen. She... convinced Fang to give up."

    The video itself had cut just before Ffion Heul had actually cut off Fang's leg and shows, instead, Fang sitting on the ground with cuffs on. With both legs. Luckily for Ben's lie, Fang can regrow her limbs. Cutting off a leg might have been acceptable for some other members should it be absolutely necessary, with Ffion she isn't allowed to be shown in any light except for that of absolute heroism. Since her trial the promoters have been determined to express her as nothing but an utter saint in an attempt to completely invert her image and give the impression that her prosecutors were out to get her for being born off world. Magick feels a bit guilty about this but she does like seeing Ffion as a beautiful white knight instead of the pragmatic force that she actually is. In some ways Ffion has even been emulating this code of conduct into her life, trying to live up to the image that's being projected. Sometimes, of course, needs must and a leg had to be cut. It saved the day and Fang was caught.

    HPO: "And that's how Hero Force One saved China from this latest supervillain."

    He holds up his index finger.

    HPO: "So, remember guys - you are my plus one. Stay tunes, heroes."

    The video ends and Magick sighs. Finished the videos, finished her soup. What's next?


    Judge opens her eyes. Her body feels heavy and the world around her seems unreal. She reaches up to rub the sleep from her eyes and finds that there's a tube in her mouth. She jerks at the alien apparatus but her mind instantly finds the answer to this unexpected discovery from the mind of Alexis Thrain. Despite knowing the answer already, Thrain explains it again verbally;

    "You were gone a long time this time, Judge. I had to attach you up to keep you fed. You need to stop this."

    She removes the tube, which Judge feels slide along her gullet with a horrible sensation. She coughs and is given a glass of water. After a few minutes of sitting up in the hospital bed aboard Orbital One, Judge manages to speak;

    Judge: "The universe needs me, Alexis. I can't stop. There's... evil everywhere. I saved a planet today. I stopped the world's nations from blasting themselves with nuclear weapons. I also convinced ships to not attack another empire, a High Empire I think it was called. The ships were on a suicide mission after the High Empire conquered their world. I convinced them to start again on a new world or join another federation. I stopped over a thousand rapists. I stopped ten thousand murderers..."

    Thrain: "At the cost of your own life."

    Judge: "I saved one hundred thousands cats from trees."

    Thrain: "..."

    Judge: "I didn't actually realise just how many cats exist in our galaxy..."

    Thrain: "Judge. Focus. This is the real world--"

    Judge: "And cat people! Really weird. There's these cat people and those cat people. Just cats and cat people everywhere."

    Thrain: "The fiolxon. The caelins. The--"

    Judge: "I sense something... there's a man... he's going to destroy a planet!"

    She falls back down onto her bed and is gone...

    Dr R. Deep, who is still with Hero Force One for the time being though has every intention of retiring from the group soon, sits in the mission room. The first person to respond to CynthAI's aggravating alarm is Benjamin Mahir. He appears flustered, as though he'd just been interrupted from something, as he bursts in. He scans the room to find he's the first person there and then, attempting to correct his posture, nonchalantly sits himself down. Deep is certain he's trying to be first on the scene so he won't have to make the tea. He might now be Hero Plus One but Deep is sure he'll still be the tea boy.

    Then Seraphim enters the room, alert and ready, along with Flax Hyperon. Flax follows her in, eyes drawn down as he tries to catch a glimpse of 'heaven' from behind the angel and her splashing light 'clothes'. When she sits down, Flax seems to become aware of himself and slinks into a seat too.

    Ffion then runs in. She has yet to realise that not every alarm requires her instant and determined attention. Several times a week CynthAI will sound the alarm if the vending machines run out of coffee. She once roused the alarm because there was a smudge on a window where a visitor, one of the sponsors, had been so amazed by space he'd pressed his face up against the glass. CynthAI only ceased her alarm once Ben had cleaned the glass thoroughly.

    Seeing no immediate threat, Ffion sits down looking a little deflated.

    Finally Magick enters. Only Judge is missing but Alexis Thrain has informed him that she's unwell. Judge's illness has postponed his own departure for longer, especially since High Imp betrayed them and dwindled their numbers further still.

    Dr R. Deep:
    "There's a situation in Paris. According to reports the French military has responded to an attack on the imperial palace by unknown assailants. We have agents in the area now. CynthAI, patch them through."

    CynthAI: "What's the magic word?"

    Everyone waits for Deep to say it, anticipation filling them with glee.

    Deep groans.

    Dr R. Deep: "Please..."

    CynthAI: "I didn't hear you..."

    Dr R. Deep: "Your sensors can detect a pin drop."

    CynthAI: "I caaaaaaaaan't hear you~!"

    Dr R. Deep: "Please!"

    There is much snickering around the table.

    Seraphim: "Ben... I would like a cup of tea, please."

    Ben, who had been snickering too, suddenly sulks and sullenly slides off his chair to leave the room and make the tea.

    Magick: "I want hot chocolate, Ben!"

    Flax: "I will have a Klingon brew! No sugar!"

    Deep: "Earl Grey for me."

    Everyone looks at Ffion expectantly.

    She shifts uncomfortably.

    Ffion: "Uh... I'm not thirsty. Thanks anyway."

    There's an expression of incredulity on everyone's face. She clearly still needs to get into the rythmn of this team and fully synch with them. Everyone gets a hot beverage in Command.

    Deep: "Just give her a tea, Ben."

    HPO: "Right."

    Ffion doesn't understand why she's being force fed tea but just shrugs in surrender.

    Finally a large screen lights up and there stands Citizen Rex. There's an audible groan from everyone at the table. He hasn't been allowed back on Orbital One for quite a long time now, yet he still manages to make himself part of the team whenever he can manage it. Behind him, as usual, is Agent Mulligan.

    Citizen Rex: "Hello there, fellow heroes!"

    Dr R. Deep: "Explain the situation, Rex."

    Citizen Rex: "Well, me and Agent 92 here--"

    Agent Mulligan: "I'm Agent Mulligan, doctor."

    Citizen Rex:
    "Right. Agent Trevor. We arrived in Paris ten thirty minutes ago. We ate a baguette, drank a coffee, went to pee--"

    Ffion: "Wow... how is this guy really part of the team?"

    "We're, unfortunately, stuck with him."

    Ffion: "Can't you fire him?"

    Seraphim: "If only."

    Citizen Rex:
    "--I got fined for trying to take the subway without a ticket, I forgot my pants on the train--"

    Dr R. Deep: "Who is attacking the palace?"

    Citizen Rex: "--I think I caught herpes when I licked the window-- huh? Oh, the palace. That's the big golden building, right Agent 56?"

    Agent Mulligan: "Yes."

    Citizen Rex:
    "Okay. Well it looks like there's... there's a lot of bad guys out here. Like... all of them."

    Dr R. Deep shakes his head with dismay.

    Dr R. Deep: "Can you be more specific, Rex? Who exactly is attacking the palace?"

    Agent Mulligan cuts in;

    Agent Mulligan:
    "Actually, doctor, this time he's not wrong. There's a lot of them out here. Traditional supervillains like TotallyEvil are here, demons like Helebon are here, Disney characters are here--"

    Seraphim: "Such evil!"

    Agent Mulligan: "It's like a massive supervillain team up!"

    Dr R. Deep: "I understand the French military are there? Have they run away yet?"

    Agent Mulligan: "Surprisingly... no! They're still here! I don't really know who's defending the palace though... I'm pretty sure the emperor has sided with the villains attacking the palace..."

    Seraphim: "Unsurprising. It was only a matter of time before the NeSferatu showed their true colours."

    Dr R. Deep:
    "But she is the ruler of Europe. Attacking her could be... problematic. I'll contact the incumbent president and get authorisation to go in but do not attack the emperor. Even if she attacks you!"

    Ffion: "Like fighting with one hand tied behind my back..."

    Citizen Rex: "I think I'll go inside the palace and see who's there! Citizen Rex, away!"

    He jumps off the camera, as though he is going to fly away. Judging from the expression on Mulligan's face, Rex has just jumped up and landed flat on the floor. The camera blinks out.

    Seraphim: "Hopefully he doesn't cause too much trouble in there."

    Ben returns with the drinks and hands them out. Ffion stares at her tea dubiously.

    "A supervillain team up... you know what we need? A superhero team up!"

    There's a moment of silence.

    Seraphim: "You mean work with the other hero groups?"

    Dr R. Deep: "Let them share the spotlight?"

    HPO: "I doubt the sponsors would like that..."

    Magick: "They would! We can market it the right way and the people would love it! We'll get the best ratings ever! A real superhero team up! Wow!"

    Dr R. Deep: "Well... I'll make the calls. You go down to Paris."

    Magick: "You're not coming?"

    Dr R. Deep: "I'm retired, remember?"
    Last edited by TheBritt; 12-07-2016 at 04:33 PM.

  11. #91
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Judge has just used her incredible psychic Potential powers--


    In the Writers' Realm.

    Geb the Editor: Awesome alliteration, Al!


    --to set free a convoy of slaves being shipped to cruel new masters, when she feels a great disturbance rippling through the universe. It is a shockwave on many levels: telepathic, as surprise and consternation afflict trillions; magical, as disrupted and rechanneled ley lines pulse; spatial, as gravity subtly shifts.

    On the opposite side of the sun from Earth, in the exact same orbital path, a new arrival has manifested. Mega Jonestown Prime, vanished for millions of years, had returned. Judge can sense the anticipation in the minds of everyone in the giant city - they are getting ready to face their greatest enemy, Highemperor.

    The sly old mage, Hermes Trismegistus, had told her of the group, R.I.T.E., preparing for Highemp's return. She'd seen the Hero Force dossier on Highemp. Though the Highemperor does much good for those under his thumb, he is a conquering tyrant, and Judge cannot abide that, heartily approving of the stand being taken against him.

    But here? In the solar system? So close to Earth? That could be...dangerous for all those she loves.

    And so she sets herself there, casting her mind about the universe to continue her endless crusade of psychic heroism, but retaining a sliver of awareness at Mega Jonestown Prime. She will know when the battle begins. And she will be ready to shield the Earth from collateral harm.


    CynthAI: AWOOGA!

    Magick: Oh, thanks for making sure we know about the crisis, CynthAI, but we already do know. You can shut off the alarm now, please.

    CynthAI: Negative. There is another emergency alert. AWOOGA!

    Doctor R. Deep: Another-- Tell us what is is.

    He pauses.

    Doctor R. Deep: Please.

    CynthAI: Of course, Doctor. I will be glad to dispense any knowledge I can. It seems that a very large object, whose profile conforms to an ancient space city, has just materialized within the solar system.

    Magick: Oooh, sounds fascinating!

    Ben: Is it dangerous?

    Seraphim: Mega Jonestown Prime was before my time, but all angels are told the story...but yes, very potentially dangerous. Although their power likely won't be directed at Earth...there may be collateral backlash.

    Flax: An ancient space city? Are there alien babes just waiting for a dose of the Flax charm?

    Everyone ignores Flax's comment.

    Doctor R. Deep: The demon said we would have a major role to play in their battle - R.I.T.E.'s battle - with Highemperor.

    Magick: High Imp also betrayed us!

    Seraphim: I still know that nothing he says should be discounted casually.

    Ben: But if they're no immediate threat, shouldn't we continue our mission to Paris? That's happening NOW.

    Doctor R. Deep: Ben makes an excellent point. CynthAI, continue to monitor Mega Jonestown Prime and alert us if anything changes.

    He pauses again.

    Doctor R. Deep: Please.

    His glare defuses any potential snickering.


    In a subterranean complex beneath Mount Olympus, DelphAI - central coordinator and chief strategist for the Hero Force organization - entertains a visitor.

    DelphAI: My time is short. Mega Jonestown Prime is here. What role is HFO to play?

    HorseGod: You mean...your oracular vision really can't tell?

    DelphAI: Mega Jonestown Prime is sealed against even my divination. I only know that Hero Force One is the locus of R.I.T.E.'s schemes.

    HorseGod: No longer. The narrative locus was shifted.

    DelphAI: So everything R.I.T.E.-related that happened in this thread was pointless?

    HorseGod: Al Ciao the Writer is pretty sh*t at his job...

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