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  #276    
Old 1 Week Ago, 05:56 PM
Skymin's Avatar
Skymin
the gratitude pokémon
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: australia
Age: 21
Nature: Quirky









Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, Budapest, Hungary

November 22nd, 2012

It was so strange and perhaps a little nauseating to travel so many miles in a matter of seconds. As soon as Cooper released the doors of the plane, Oakley was in line to get out, her stomach churning a little. She had travelled like this with the Librarian only a few times before but each time felt just as weird as the last.

It seemed that not only had the AUP Headquarters disappeared from around them, but the Librarian had left after his job was done as well. He had teleported them to what seemed like an airport (Oakley assumed in Budapest). There were large cars waiting for them and they quickly began to move gear from the plane to the cars before climbing into them. Oakley could see the smoke rising from the city close by and apparently, so could Emil.

"Perhaps we should leave Elpis here with somebody. A place like is much too dangerous for a young girl." Emil turned to Cooper, looking worried. This was much different to the frustrated worry that Oakley had seen him wearing before in regards to Devon. "I can see this ending very badly if she separates from us, or misunderstands us. What if this reminds her of... her home? What if--"

"Our mission it to apprehend the target." Cooper said plainly, his voice felt void of emotion. Oakley felt a strange ringing in her ears and turned to Cooper, suddenly feeling as if his words were of utmost importance. "If Elpis is there, we can negate the target immediately. Without doing so could cause further chaos."

"Right. No, you're right." Emil nodded his head, I'm just worried for her safety." Oakley turned back to Devon behind her, who was staring at his father. He was frowning and gave a little pout, looking a little confused. Was he... jealous that his father wasn't worrying about him or paying any attention to him anymore?

"As you should be." He gave the frenchman a smile, something Oakley did not see from Cooper often. "Do not worry, she will be fine with us."

"Don't expect me to babysit the kid." Imogen strode past them, dumping a bag into the back of the car and slamming it shut. Cooper stared back at her.

"We will do whatever is necessary to protect the girl." Imogen turned back to him, crossing her arms and looking at him from over her glasses.

"Don't order me to do anything, Cooper. I'll do what I want." She her eyes remained locked on his for a moment before she flicked her hair and got into the car, taking the driver's seat.

Oakley then turned to Elpis, who was staring at the smoke billowing from the city. She looked... worried. Not hysterical, but as worried as an eight year old girl would be if she saw a city with smoke coming from it. Oakley had to wonder -- had she been there at the fall of Atlantis? Had she been placed into that box before or during whatever happened all those years ago?

Elpis turned to Oakley, her face appeared the same but her eyes seemed far away. Oakley gave the girl a reassuring smile. It wasn't returned. Instead, Elpis found Delta's hand and took it with her own.

It was time to head off, and everyone found themselves into a car and they were on the road, the city of Budapest in view and growing dangerously closer and the giant dragon coming into view.

Emilio, Cooper, Delta, Elpis, Oakley and Aiofe in one car, Imogen, Julian, Henri, Mel, Dom and Thayne in the next, Natalia, Devon, Misha, Atticus, Simon and Freddie in the one after and a bunch of people Oakley had never met before in the last. A radio communicator connected the cars, but for the present time it had been used for not much more than chit chat.

"What an imagination this one has. Really." Imogen laughed from the radio, her voice full of static but still with that obnoxious tone. "If it's a fat white kid with a neckbeard, I won't even try to not kill him. Dragons. What a joke."

"This Atlantean could be controlled by another user," came Julian's voice. "It could be anyone."

"Or it could be some f*cking nerd who's been playing video games for far too long." Oakley could see the sneer behind Imogen's radioed voice. "This is what happens when antisocial losers complain that girls don't love them. They go and destroy a cit--" There was a smash from behind them and the radio cut out. Oakley, as well as the rest of those inside the car turned around as Cooper stamped on the brakes. Through the back window a... if Oakley could describe it, a sphinx standing in the middle of the road where the car was meant to be. Oakley followed the tire marks, the car now smashed into the side of a building with those inside it unable to be seen.

"Is that... meant to be Leo Cabrillo?" Emil squinted, through the glass, then turned back to the front. "Watch out!" Oakley turned her head catching sight of feathers just as she felt the car go upwards, nose first and flip over onto its back. They were in the air for just a few moments and Oakley closed her eyes and threw her arms over her head, the armour automatically growing over both as she felt her life was in danger. The smash underneath their heads never came and Oakley moved her arms to see Emil pushing his hands down, slowly lowering the car with his gravity manipulation. There was an angry noise from outside and the beating of wings from behind Oakley as one creature flew off but the one in front of them remained. It gave the car a shove, Emil holding it still as best he could before it took off as well.

"What was that?" Oakley wheezed.

"I think... it's a griffin." Emil replied, unbuckling his seatbelt and falling to the roof. He turned to them, eyes wide and alert. "Is everyone okay?"

"I'm okay." Oakley answered for herself, nodding then turning to Elpis. She seemed frightened, but unharmed, struggling with her own belt, muttering some things in Atlantean with a few broken English words in between. She yelped as she got free, Oakley's arms underneath her as she fell into them. Once she made contact though, her arms returned to their unprotected and unstrengthened selves and she winced as they hit the cold roof below them. "Sorry."

"I knew we should have left her behind. This is my fault, I'm so sorry, Elpis." Emil shook his head, Cooper appearing from around his seat next to him. He looked alright, aside from a cut on his eyebrow from the glass shattering in front of them.

"No. If anything, this gives us more reason for her to be here. This is a powerful Atlantean who needs to be stopped." Cooper coughed, waving away some of the dust and dirt around them.

"In any case, let's get out of here." Emil said, kicking his foot against the door. It didn't budge, caught against a cement block beside him. "Oakley, Delta, if you could, please."

There was another loud screech, a smash and the skidding of tires on the road as one of the other cars took off and the other smashed into a poll and rolled onto its side. Another smash alerted them that the griffin was back on the ground. And not happy at all.

"Hurry!" Emil stressed.
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Last edited by Skymin; 1 Week Ago at 06:02 PM.
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  #277    
Old 3 Days Ago, 11:51 PM
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SV
It was justified
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Coronado Island, San Diego, California, United States

November 22nd, 2012

The plane touched down on the runaway that led into the military base. From up in the air they could see little going on down below but once they reached the ground the entire military base was in fervor. The control tower had tried to divert their plane to the city but their pilot had persisted they land, using DoD protocols to override the control tower and land their plane. When they got off military personnel rushed up to them, telling them that the island was no place for kids but Amanda simply brushed them off. They tried to reason with her that they had the situation under control and didn't need any help from A.T.L.A.S. but all three of them could tell that they didn't.

"Harpy, Gamer, you two take aerial recon, Tank and I will follow with the rest below. Do not engage the target until we're there." Both nodded before heading off into the air as Amanda requisitioned a vehicle from the base.

Like always, Tank felt a bit left out not being able to fly, but after the previous week battling the Pterosaur-mimicking Atlantean in Colorado, he had had his fill of flying. At any rate he enjoyed traveling along the road; despite Amanda helming the vehicle. It took them about eight minutes to finally reach the town portion of Coronado Island, the streets into town well cleared of cars as everyone had tried to leave following the arrival of James Hazen. Even thinking the name put chills up his spine and Tank hoped that the three of them were enough to take him out.

For the past two minutes Harpy and Gamer had been whispering into their microphones as they surveyed James from the sky; relaying his every action to the whole contingent of armoured personnel as well as Amanda and himself. Instead of going directly to the source of the disturbance, where Tank had heard gunfire and yelling from the soldiers whom had assaulted James prior to them getting there, they set up a command station within a couple of blocks.

An arsenal of gunshots was heard from inside the hotel. Furniture and decorations were tossed around the rooms and destroyed. The walls had a combination of bullet holes and scorch marks, and across the floor there were bodies of both hotel employees and guests, as well as a few military personnel that had arrived on the scene. James had destroyed most of the lights inside the hotel, and covered up most of the windows, meaning that the soldiers they had been sent in were coming in blind, while James hid and waited.

He heard the soldiers whispering something in the distance, something about formation and the dark, so he expected they would soon try to split up and see where he was. Each group that came in, whether security, police, or soon the military after, however, were coming in blind and because it was broad daylight outside, didn't expect to bring any sort of night vision. So James' strategy was to basically take out each new group that came in before they had a chance to signal about the situation to the outside. Eventually they would keep moving up the power food chain until the real prizes would show up.

Inhaling deeply, James lifted his upper body from his hiding spot to the side of the room, and fired a bolt at them. The initial bolt didn't hit any of them, whizzing past two soldiers who immediately began shooting around in surprise. Although the shot missed, it did give James a relative position on where they were before they began to spread out. He prepared multiple more bolts of electricity, harnessing from deep within his body, and shot at them from both of his hands. Each hit struck the two soldiers in their chests, pushing them back and causing them to collapse on the ground. The three remaining soldiers began to fire in the position they believed the shots came from, although the lightning came too fast for them to get a definitive position.

James meanwhile had already begun to make his way to the other side of the room, slowly crawling across the ground to avoid being seen. If any sudden eyes or movements were thought to be heading in his direction, he would lie still and act like he was amongst the dead, the the soldiers would continue forward to where they believe his position was. When they had proceeded enough forward, hiding behind furniture that was toppled over, James jumped up from behind them, delivering multiple shots of surging power at each of them. The first was dropped quickly. The last two managed to turn around. James dropped the third with almost half a dozen small bolts to his face and chest, while the third managed to get a few shots from his assault rifle off. James momentarily retreated, feeling a small stinging sensation across his hip as he believe he had been grazed by a bullet. He quickly came out again, firing a larger, more powerful single bolt straight at the soldier. It had failed to directly hit the target, whizzing by the side of his face, but definitely getting a piece of it. He heard the screams of the soldier as he fell to the ground clutching the side of his face.

Quickly, James ran over to the last soldier, favoring his right side just a bit over his left, and stood tall over him. The man below him continued to struggled, but saw his attacker above him and panicked. "Please, I've got kids!" The soldier implored James, clutching the side of his face in anguish. James dropped to one knee, lifted two fingers directly at the man's forehead, and fired a precision bolt right through his skull.

"So did they," He replied, pointing to the other bodies scattered across the hotel floor.

"He's holed up in the Hotel, we can't get a fix on his position," Gamer voice over the microphones.

Standing there doing nothing, Tank started to feel edgy and wanted to get to fighting already yet Amanda held him back. "Fly around the back, enter as low as you can without making noise. They've cut the power to the hotel so you'll be going in blind. Be careful."

Nodding to each other, Gamer and Harpy began their flighty around the side of the building and around the back. They each found an open window, on the third and fourth floor respectively and made their way inside. The rooms were quite well lit from the sun but making their way into the hallways and there was very little light. Harpy had the easier time as her eyes were able to adjust to the darkness thanks to her bird mimicry, but the two soon met up and began descending down the nearest stairwell. Without any electricity, Gamer was reliant on the reserves she had.

"We've arrived on the lobby floor," Gamer again took charge, the two of them glancing warily through the small glass window in the door that separated them from the target. As they watched the latest contingency of soldiers taken out, they tried their best to spot James but the flashes of electricity blinded them. They finally saw him when he bent over a soldier, both girls turning away as he delivered the final blow. "What do we do now?" She asked.

"Try and draw him out into the street. We'll take it from there."

"Gank em." Was all Gamer said, but Harpy knew exactly what she meant.

Opening the door, Gamer was the first to go through, making her way opposite James while hiding behind furniture. On occasion she would make noises; knock a plant so the leaves scratched against the wall, push a table a couple of millimeters; small things to gather the man's attention. When she was sure she had him in her sights, she sent a stream of pixels flying from her hiding spot behind an overturned couch.

James heard the door unlock, and quickly dropped out of sight from the soldier and into the nearest hiding spot he could find, a broken up wooden table, which was lying on its side. He expected it to be more military reinforcements, but as the person moved, he could hear her making sounds. He didn't expect the military to do that, although it could be someone who was simply panicking. What came next was some sort of attack, energy-based of some sort. He was almost positive now. It wasn't the military this time. It was an Atlantean! An Atlantean with some sort of projectile-based ability, like his.

"Who are you?" James asked, quickly firing off a small bolt of electricity at the direction of the other Atlantean, before moving from his first hiding spot across the side of the room to a more larger, half-torn couch.

Gamer followed his movement with her eyes as they struggled to adjust to the changing of light before firing off another stream of pixels in his general direction. "Zoe, who are you?" She asked, summoning up the fear she currently felt as her voice shook. She knew all about him, but he knew nothing of her. The more disinformation he knew the better upper hand she had.

"Havoc," James replied back, crouching under the furniture to avoid the strange energy wave that came at him. He fired off another round of lightning in the direction where she fired from, though with less intent to harm more than to keep occupied. "You're Atlantean, who're you working for?"

"I don't work for anyone! I was staying in the hotel with my boyfriend!" She called over the couch, firing another bolt his way to keep him distracted and occupied. She had to be careful though because she was slowly running out of built up power and didn't know how much he had in reserve either. "Why are you here?"

"Waiting for someone to show up!" James called out from his own spot, waiting for her to fire her shots before he looked up and fired his. Once he did, he roamed across the room and positioned himself behind another piece of turned-over furniture, this time a wooden table of some sort. "But if you're serious about just being a guest and turning out to be Atlantean, this is my lucky day!" He called out. He doubted she was simply a guest. He was pretty sure she was one of the ones that came in through the door. Though that didn't mean he could try to recruit her.

"Sh*t!" She cursed, louder than she had meant to. She had tried to conjure up another stream but failed to do so; she was out of ammunition and she could hear him moving about. "Why is it your lucky day then?" She asked hesitantly, this time refusing to fire a stream and hoping that he didn't connect the dots.

"Come on, we're on the same side here," James responded, choosing not to fire another round since apparently the woman stopped firing as well. Maybe she was curious about what he was talking about. He peeked over the table to ensure she wasn't aiming for him at that moment. He then place his whole upper body on the table and leaned over it. "We shouldn't be fighting. See? I'm putting down my hands," He added, showing that he was dropping his hands down to his sides.

Unsure whether or not to trust this guy, it took Gamer a few seconds to make up her mind. He seemed like he was raising a white flag and calling truce, but she knew from his profile that he could easily charge a bolt and hit her before she even had a chance to move. "I'm coming out! Don't fire." From behind the couch Gamer came, standing upright with both her hands at head height. She slowly walked forward, shortening the distance between them until she was at the halfway point. "You wanted to talk, so let's talk." She took a gulp, her heart racing in the tense situation.

James came out right as the girl did. He walked toward her direction in the dark hallway, and stopped a few meters away from her. "Right," James began, offered the girl a small smile to let her know he wasn't going to fire at her, yet. "So I'm Havoc, or James as you probably heard. Was with a man named Henry for a while. Then I went to the Atlantean Royal Family, then to a group called the Renegades. I'm now technically not with anyone, although I'm backed by a man named Lucas," He stated, still keeping his hands down and in plain sight.

"I'm telling you this because I'm letting it all out. No bullsh*t. So Zoe, who're you?"

Gamer grinned at James, happy that he had let his guard down. "Zoe, Zoe Pearson. I live in San Francisco with my boyfriend. He brought me here on holiday-" Gamer's sentence was cut short as harpy launched from the shadows. With a flap of wings the half-woman, half-bird Atlantean slammed into James' body, gripping his midsection tightly as she propelled them both towards the front door. Summoning up the reserves she had pretended to be exhausted of, Gamer send a large stream of pixels flying towards the door; blowing both off of it's hinges.

"F*ck!" James yelled, struggling to try and break free from the bird-woman's strong grip. He should have known that there were others hiding around, but he acted recklessly. As Zoe broke the door and the harpy girl brought them outside, James slowly tried to concentrated and make something happen. He controlled his breathing, trying to focus his energy not just on his hands but on other parts of his body, which he hadn't had much practice in doing. Sparks began along his fingertips and traveled along his arms, up to his shoulders and down to his stomach region. The sparks seemed to work, so he tried again, this time with more energy.

He once more let the energy flow from around his torso, to and down his arms, then back up. All at once, he released the shockwave across his body, trying to focus precisely where the harpy was holding him so that it would hopefully shock her.

As the electricity coursed through her body, Harpy's claws dug deeper into the skin and muscle of James' body as her feathers began to singe. After a couple of seconds her grip receded, wings stopped flapping and the two fell to the ground. Her body limp and smoldering with no pulse to be found. Gamer now stood in the doorway of the hotel, her hands clasped over her mouth in horror.

"Harpy!" The yell from down the street erupted into a roar as Tank began pelting down the street. Blue fur started to sprout all over his body as he grew slightly larger, his arms now significantly larger than his legs as, in his place, a large Silverback Gorrilla was now bounding towards James.

"Stupid b*tch," James cursed, holding his side where some blood was seen seeping through his shirt from the harpy's claws. Having no time to lick his wounds, he could see another apparent Atlantean, one that could transform into a gorilla suddenly spring onto him. James backed away a few steps, bringing his hands up and gathering energy into the palms of both of his hands. He felt the tingling sensation of energy passing through his nerves toward his hands, and watched as the electricity formed at the base. He then shot out the two lightning bolts directed at the gorilla. Afterwards, he prepared two more bolts, but instead of firing combined them together into one large one, and fired that as well. He could feel the tingling intensify in his arms after he fired those shots.

As Tank dodged one bolt, the other hit him in the flank, but whether it was the rage, adrenaline or simply his Atlantean heritage, he continued forward until he was mere meters from James. He definitely wasn't prepared for the second larger bolt which caught his arm, sending him pummeling into the ground. Picking himself up, he tried to shake the pins and needles from his arm as he huffed at James. Pulling his large, hairy arm in close to his chest, he roared that primal, animalistic roar before grasping a table with his other hand and flinging it at James. As each table, chair, and whatever else wasn't bolted to the ground left his grasp, Tank grabbed another and another; sending as many as possible flying towards James.

"F*cking f*ck!" James cursed again, surprised that his bolts did nothing but slow down the large ape. He opened his eyes in shock as a table was flung directly at him. With no time to move out of the way, James was hit square on by the table thrown at tremendous force, and knocked back onto the hard concrete. He groaned on the ground, coughing once or twice from the hit, which seemed to have knocked the wind right out of him. He could feel the throbbing pain on his ribs, but forced himself up, whether through adrenaline or sheer will. Another chair came soon after, which James was able to avoid just in time, hearing it crash behind him. The beast was relentless, continuing to throw more and more items.

Behind her the power to the hotel sprang back on and Gamer could hear the television in the foyer blaring with static. Taking it as her chance, she pelted back inside, holding her hands up at the television and draining as much pixelated energy from it as she could. No doubt the would shut the power off soon to leave James Hazen dry; which annoyed her since her ability relied on electricity as well. She finished draining the TV and stepped back outside in time to see the furniture and rubbish bins start flying at James.

James started backing up, hoping that if he increased the distance between them, he could be able to dodge more effectively. However, because he was constantly moving and dodging, he had no time to prepare any more powerful lightning attacks which could take down the gorilla. He continued to move left and right, trying his best to dodge every item, although occasionally he would get chipped or knocked back by a chair to his arms or side. Eventually, he began to grow tired of it. "F*cking piece of sh*t!" He cursed, as he slowly was losing the energy to keep moving around. Deciding to take a chance, James powered up as much energy as he could into his left hand. He stopped dodging, this time focusing as much energy as he could to the tips of his fingers. He aimed directly for the gorilla's chest, standing in place to gain better footing and precision, and fired a large bolt, which drained a sizable chunk of his power. However, he was unable to dodge the incoming table that was thrown at him, which hit him once more right onto his body and flung him onto the ground.

The bolt of electricity struck Tank, if he hadn't had his arm hanging limply in front of his chest it would have struck him cold. Piercing through his arm, Tank roared as the shock sent him flying backwards; his gorilla ability waning until eventually he was lying on his back a few meters behind. His arm still had the hole where the bolt had pierced.

Seeing Tank struck, Gamer leaped into action, heading towards James who had been flung to the ground. One after the other she fired streams of pixels from each hand, alternating as she stepped closer. She aimed for his hands, legs, joints, anything that would stop him casting electricity at her or allow any movement. She needed to keep him down and out of control.

James couldn't catch a break. Immediately after he had appeared to finally bring down the gorilla Atlantean for the moment, he started to be fired upon by the same Atlantean from inside. Luckily, there was a broken up table on top of him, which he tried to use as a shield from her attacks. However, as she kept alternating locations on where she was striking, James lay there, unable to strike back. He was hit multiple times across his arms and legs, though he did prevent a few bolts from reaching him thanks to the table piece he used.

He still felt the pain of being struck by the large table, which further slowed his movements. However, he was finally able to get a few smaller bolts of electricity out from his hands toward the girl, hopefully distracting her enough so that James could find some cover. As the lightning strikes left his body, he could feel his energy depleting. He looked around, trying to find a source, taking what he could from lamp posts and cell phones.

"Not so fast, Mister Hazen." Amanda Tell stepped out from the alleyway followed by an ensemble of guards all decked out in riot gear with serious weapons pointed at him. In front of them, Amanda stood with a pair of what looked like gloved handcuffs in her grip. "You are under arrest as given to me by the jurisdiction of A.T.L.A.S and the United States Government. There is nowhere to run, you're coming with me so you either cooperate and put your hands behind your back or we choose the hard way." She approached James, all the guns pointed at him as well as Gamer standing behind him.

James looked around, seeing that he was in fact cornered and probably with nowhere to run. He chuckled nervously to himself, glancing at each one of them and shaking his head. On one hand, he detested the thought of being a captive of humans. On the other, he preferred not to be dead. Maybe a while ago, he would have instantly tried to fight his way out in order to avoid such a fate. Now, he was playing in something where he needed to be sensible about things. Right now, he valued his own life more. James stood up slowly, raising his hands together to be put in the handcuffs. He looked directly at Gamer.

"I took out three of you," He said to her plainly. "If I didn't step out to talk to you, I could have done more. Think about that." He added with a smile, hoping she would understand what he was saying.

Slipping his hands into the cuffs and tightening them, Amanda signaled to two guards to take him to the holding van. While she stayed here and cleaned up the mess, the van would drive back as part of a contingency to store James on their plane before leaving. While one guard opened the door to the metal box that was to be his seat back to HQ, the other stepped in with him, locking James' cuffs into a small looped bar so he couldn't move before taking a seat opposite him. As soon as the door closed, the van roared into gear and proceeded towards the airport.

"My my my, in a bit of a pickle now aren't we?" The soldier that had entered the van with him pulled off his mask, revealing himself to be none other than the Librarian. "Long time no see, Mister Hazen." He grinned at the chained James.

"Oh, God, not you again," James said as a wave of shock and dismay swept over him. "What the f*ck are you doing here, Henry?"

Henry laughed, "For two things really. First of all, I must retrieve a gift I left in your possession," Henry stretched his arm forward, picking up the necklace around James' neck and spiriting away the small blue crystal embedded in it. "Secondly, I'm here to return you to your caregiver. Can't have someone of your stature rot away in prison now, can we?" With Crystal safely tucked away, Henry then procured a key from his jacket, brandishing it to James before unlocking the handcuffs and allowing James to slip free before grabbing him by the scruff of the neck. "And off we go!"

The next moment Henry was in the living room of Lucas' suite. "I believe this belongs to you, Lucy." He shoved James forward before spiriting himself away leaving James to his own devices with Lucas.

Detesting the nickname his brother has given him, Lucas ignored his sudden appearance and instead turned his attention to James. "I'm guessing your little spectacle wasn't quite spectacular? What happened?"

"Well..." James began, not quite sure where to begin. First everything was going well. James was there, doing what he did best. Then came some Atlanteans, which was a nice surprise. Then came A.T.L.A.S. Then Henry. Overall it was a whirlwind of events in the small span of time, ultimately ending with James managing to take out a large amount of humans, civilians and armed alike, and also some Atlanteans. It was some nice publicity, even if it ended somewhat anti-climatically. How could he really describe the entire ordeal.

"I did get hit by a flying table. Twice. Which is new. So I'll put this in the not-too-bad-of-a-day column."

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Last edited by SV; 3 Days Ago at 01:16 AM.
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  #278    
Old 1 Hour Ago, 05:39 PM
Vintage Arachnid
im always watchin
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Nature: Timid
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Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, Budapest, Hungary

November 22nd, 2012

In mere seconds they were off to Budapest. There was nothing stronger than how Delta abhorred flying, except, maybe, her crystallized skin. The Librarian's method of traveling was far preferred even if it did leave her stomach in knots. She graciously made her way off the plane with Elpis in tow and made sure to keep a keen eye on her movements. When Elpis wanted to be, which was all the time as of late, she was quite the handful. Several different conversations lulled on around Delta yet oddly she didn't care to listen in on any of them. Her mind had travelled to a conversation she was actually interested in and had been replaying ever since it had happened. Right before they boarded the plane Aoife had come up to her and, well, their short conversation ended with both parties having malice toward one another. It made Delta so angry that Aoife hadn't listened to her. She knew she was right. How many times had Aoife done this? None. Delta was trying to protect her from harm but clearly Aoife had put on her rose-tinted glasses. Anger started to influence Delta's thoughts; she was just so enraged at it all. A small hand slipped into hers - Elpis.

The small girl had a knack for bringing Delta back down to Earth, here all she had done was selfishly think about herself when Elpis had came from the destruction of her home to the scene of another. How had she been so stupid? She should've made Elpis stay in Toulouse because this was no place for her. It was too late for that; everyone was already getting into separate cars. The passengers in Delta's vehicle weren't so bad, Emil, Cooper, Oakley, and Elpis. Then there was Aoife... who by some twisted act of fate ended up sitting next to her of all people. Outside of the window is where Delta kept her eyes glued not wanting to give into her urges to look at Aoife. She had previously visited Budapest, strangely that felt like a lifetime ago. Nathan had taken her here as some sort of romantic gesture, and it was. A smile graced her face as she recalled him getting down on one knee right in the middle of a mud puddle in vivid detail. When he slipped the ring onto her finger it was the happiest she had ever felt in her life. That was before all their talks erupted into arguments, and before the bruises and pain...

Imogen's voice pierced through her memories just in time, "If it's a fat white kid with a neckbeard, I won't even try to not kill him. Dragons. What a joke."

A dragon that had to be some sort of a joke, but it wasn't. She saw the rather large fictitious creature flying through the air far ahead of their current position and (what Delta could only assume was) fire flew from its mouth. At least Delta knew what they meant by beasts now. They all were assuming that these beasts were being controlled by someone, but what if these beasts were Atlanteans? Delta had taken to reading some Atlantean literature - yeah, it surprised her as well - Atlanteans with morphology-related powers were fully capable of doing this.

It didn't take long before something went wrong. Imogen's constant talking had ceased (not that Delta minded) and when the brakes were slammed on Delta instinctively thrust her arm out in front of Aoife. Goddammit, she just momed Aoife. A loud crash from behind them gathered all of passengers' attention. An oversized monster stood on the road and from what Delta could tell it was a mixture of a bird, a lion, and a person, more specifically, Leo Cabrillo. Its feathered wings were outstretched and it pounced (or glided?) from place to place, swiping its paws at the AUP's vehicles. Dom and Thayne were in one of the cars that had found itself halfway buried inside of a building. There was barely enough time to think before the car she was in flew up and flipped on its back. In no time at all Delta's skin had crystallized and she grabbed ahold of Aoife to absorb all the damage they would take on impact. She prayed that Oakley was doing the same with Elpis. Fortunately, they were in a car full of Atlanteans and when she opened her eyes she saw Emil using his power to slow their descent.

Now, there were two winged-beasts, and the second one was responsible for flipping over the car. It was a hybrid like the first one except this one was darker in color and seemed a bit more agitated. The first one took off and the second one came back for seconds, a griffin, that's what Emil called it, and crashed into the car before it flew off into the smoke-filled sky. After everyone confirmed their safety they started unbuckling their seats belts. Falling to the roof wasn't Delta's idea of a good time, but she eagerly helped Aoife out of hers, though neither said a word to one another. Aoife joined Delta on the roof and tried her best to avoid the glass. Delta doubled checked that Elpis was alright and safe before looking over everyone else to make sure there weren't any serious injuries.

Emil struggled to open his door, Delta could see that there was a chunk of cement pressed against it, "Oakley, Delta, if you could, please." Her hands reached forward to the side door and slid it open a crack with all her crystallized might. Noise from behind them caused her to look backwards to see that the griffin was going on another rampage attacking all of their cars. She waited while Oakley touched Elpis again and watched as her armor instantaneously started covering her arm again. Elpis had little control over her power, so any skin-to-skin contact automatically activated her ability to take (or give back) ones Atlantean ability. It didn't take them long to push the cement block backwards and off of Emil's door. Everyone inside of the van trickled out, one by one they made their way onto the road. A small layer of dust and debris covered Delta's clothing. They weren't safe here; the griffin wasn't done with its reign of terror. She saw a car positioned in the same upside down manner of the one she had just exited. Who knew who had survived the attack of this beast? She wasn't sure if this was an Atlantean or a monster created by one, but one thing was for certain they needed to stop whoever was responsible for it. They needed a concrete plan, one that would minimize casualties.

Almost like a bullet, Aoife took off toward one of the severely damaged cars. Simon! Delta managed to grab hold of her fellow AUP member's hand before she ran too far, "Aoife!" A fury of red hair and anger turned toward her trying to yank her hand free, but in Delta's crystallized state it was completely useless for Aoife to attempt such a tactic. Delta saw the tears sliding down Aoife's face and wanted nothing more then to wipe them all away. She pulled Aoife into her arms so that her head rested on Delta's shoulders. All the pain Aoife was feeling Delta wanted to take away, she didn't deserve it. As a reminder that it was still there, the griffin flapped its powerful wings and shrieked, which sounded like thousands of people dying in a truly gruesome manner. A whimper came from beside her, Delta turned toward it only to see Elpis frightened with her eyes brimmed with tears and her hands brought up to face. The young Atlantean shook her head and ran away. She watched as Oakley tried to outstretch her hand to get the girl, but Elpis had predicted Oakley's move and successfully dodged it. Did Delta do too good of a job at secretly giving Elpis lessons in combat?

"Elpis!" Delta loudly screamed after the girl who had taken off.

"Go," said Aoife firmly, she nodded and stepped back from Delta.

Lacking any hesitation Delta separated herself from Aoife and went into the debris filled area where Elpis had fled. A few steps into her run Delta stopped herself, if she didn't make it back for some reason there was something she had meant to do. She found herself back in front of Aoife. Even with the dirt smudges, tears, and hair stuck to her face Delta had never seen a more beautiful sight. Was she really about to do this? What the hell... Delta cupped Aoife's face in one of hands and tucked away the strains of hair that clung to her face behind her ear. She leaned in and pressed her forehead against Aoife's.

"I know, you don-" Aoife started, but Delta didn't care what she had to say at that moment and slowly parted Aoife's lips with her own. For a fleeting second everything didn't feel like a mess, she felt those same fireworks she felt with Nathan but with greater intensity. Delta broke away from Aoife and cursed, upset with what she had just done. This wasn't some crappy action movie where the hero kisses the love of their life in the midst of an active battlefield, especially when they had someone that they cared for who needed to be rescued.

The only thing on Delta's mind as she ran was Elpis safety, that girl had a special place in her heart and she wasn't ready to lose her. The destruction around her was astonishing, could this even be considered Budapest anymore? Most of the buildings had chunks taken out of them or were completed decimated and fire was burning anything that was left. One couldn't even see the streets, not only due to the extensive amount of smoke but it was buried under rumble and litter. The frequent amount of severed body parts she had seen was more than enough to make her stomach churn, that and the smell that emanated from them. A group of people stood ahead of her, they were all... bending over?

"Excuse me, have you seen a little girl with wavy hair?" Delta called out to them, wary of the situation and thus not wanting to get too close. Delta noticed how they all wore the same outfit, tattered black robes and lacked footwear. The second after she finished her question they all turned toward her in unison. How creepy, but not as disturbing as the fact that their eyes resembled miniature coals and lacked visible irises. Blood splatter was the only pigment on their stark white faces. Suddenly, they all hissed and showcased their teeth, no... fangs? "F-ck." These were definitely not allies. There were five of them versus Delta who was already in a race against time. Crap.

Her dominant hand had already found its way to her gun and removed it from its holster; Delta pointed the barrel at the targets. Visibility was low but she took two shoots anyway, the bullets pierced the skull of one of the creatures and it went down. One of the bullets passed straight through the skull and found itself lodged in the eye of another; its damaged eye ruptured and bled. The others dissembled; they surrounded Delta, one on and for each of the cardinal directions. If they simultaneously decided to rush her she would only be able to take out one or two before she succumbed to the others. She had practiced this situation too many times in training for this to turn out any other way than her walking away with maybe a few scratches, if she was being generous.

Trying to gather herself Delta sharply inhaled then let loose one giant breath. There was only one way to win this so she lowered her arms and sheathed her gun. A burst of speed sent her flying forward toward the creature she nicknamed West. The creature stood still until she got close enough for it to swipe at her with fingers that resembled talons, sharp and hooked. Delta halted to a stop to avoid its fury of attacks by leaning her upper body backwards. Successful in evasion she brought herself forward then reared up a kick to the creature's abdominal region. She promptly went into guard position, she turned her body sideways by bringing her right foot back, lowered her chin, brought her right hand up to eye level, brought left hand up the same way only it was positioned slightly further ahead, and with elbows tucked into her sides as closely as possible. The thought of Elpis meeting her fate pressed Delta on, she smashed her crystallized fist through its skull, blood and brain matter covering her arm.

The other creatures briskly moved toward her location. Effortlessly, Delta swung her body 45 degrees to the left with her hand still caught in the creature’s skull. Delta hoisted the body up as a shield while her free hand removed her gun once more and fired three bullets through the creature’s neck, down fell South. Quickly she yanked her arm free from West's skull, sheathed her weapon, obtained the small dagger from her leg, once in hand she slammed the blade of the knife into East's throat, ducked to avoid North's swipes of fury from behind, and turned 180 degrees. She retrieved her gun from its holster, rose up, and pulled the trigger twice, one bullet for North's skull and the other for its heart. East predictably lunged forward, which allowed for Delta to simply step backwards to evade its obvious attack. It tripped over Delta's foot and she double tapped it in the back of the skull, its blood painted the ground.

She moved on, not allowing herself to gloat over the dead bodies of what seemed to be vampires or a moments rest. Smoke poured from the windows of the surrounding burning buildings making it harder to see much of anything. Delta kept her nose and mouth inside the antecubital space of her arm. Her eyes kept scanning the area ahead of her for any surprises, once and awhile she would have to fire a bullet at something trying to attack her. Finding Elpis in this situation was like finding a needle in a house that was burning down and had already started to collapse. Delta wouldn't give up, point blank period. She kept walking, and eventually she heard the sound of fighting to her left. Through the smoke Delta could only make out a woman taller than her with dark brown hair who stood facing off against three humanoid creatures. One reminded Delta of Devon when he was in his Atlantean form, it looked more like a beast of nature than human, another was a knight in metal armor (noticeably lacking a helmet) brandishing a steel sword, and the last was a female whose feathered arms turned into wings halfway down yet still had hands that ended in sharp claws. Delta swore she saw the woman smirk before she disappeared in cloud of purple... smoke? Gas? Tortured screams were the only thing that reached Delta's ears. A glimpse of a hand here and an arc of a blade was all she saw, but after a minute the ruckus ceased and the area became eerily silent.

"It's a delight to meet your acquaintance," the voice came from behind Delta, she felt coldness nip at her neck and when she looked down she saw the sword the knight held pressed at her neck. The dark-haired woman stood there holding the handle. "I'm glad you ran into me rather than Lev or Branko." Far into the smoke sailed the blade and with more grace and agility than Delta had ever seen before she moved into sight. Her brown eyes were as cold as the blade itself and betrayed very little. "I saw you fighting earlier, you have a knack for it. Though, your movements are sloppy, any highly-trained Atlantean could beat you in combat, and your marksmanship is almost spot on except you lower your gun right before you shoot."

"Are you Atlantean?" Delta asked, trying to place the accent the lady let slip before she hid it behind a generic American one. A simple touch to her neck where the sword had been held told her it wasn't only the coldness that nipped her skin. She wanted to know why the woman was watching her but there were more pressing concerns, "Are you here to help? Have you seen a small girl in a white dress with wavy hair around here?" Not one of her questions seemed to have an effect on the lady's reticent disposition. She turned her back to Delta and started to disappear into the smoke. No, Delta wasn't going to allow her to get away from her that easily.

"I'm Alesina, we will meet again." She spoke with absolute certainty, and did so without turning around. A bird came from out of nowhere and landed on the lady's shoulder and cawed twice before taking off again. "I must be on my way now. The Atlantean you seek is on that building, she is not alone so be careful and do try to stop being so reckless."

"Wait! Why are you here?" Delta coughed, she advanced several steps toward the fading woman. The world seemed to fall away in an instant and that's when she noticed the purple fog that emitted from the lady. She dropped to her knees and then fell forward landing on rumble, she saw the lady disappear before everything turned black.

~ ~ ~

When Delta recovered she sat up and rubbed her head, how long had she been out? Five minutes? An hour? There was no telling the exact amount of time, as she wasn't carrying anything on her that told time. She practically leapt to her feet, dusted herself off, and sprinted in the general direction she was heading before she had encountered that peculiar woman... Alesina. Who was she? What was her deal? And her ability... Anesthesia Manipulation? Morphology? Delta trudged on knowing that these questions would remain unanswered until she met that woman again and next time she wouldn't let her get away. Was Elpis really on some building? Her foot ran into something that made a clanging noise, Delta bent over and picked it up. The sword the woman threw... Delta kept it in one hand as she carried on. The area she stumbled upon lacked smoke but, unfortunately, made up for that in monsters. Most of them were similar to the ones Delta had already met. She watched as a group of people tried to hold off a mob of creatures. One of them wielded a torch, another a broken chair, and one had an actual weapon, an axe. They swung around their weapons with inexperience, but it kept the mob mostly at bay. Delta noticed how the group was circled around something, no, someone. She walked closer to them and squinted her eyes, she saw a brief flash of long, wavy brown hair on white material.

Two loud bangs exploded from her gun. An extra magazine was all she had, which meant she couldn't waste her bullets on the likes of these things. She achieved the reaction she wanted; the entire horde of fiendish creatures diverted their attention to her. Handling a sword felt weird, thankfully she had done some minor training with swords but Delta had opted to spend more time with daggers. In actual combat she liked to stick to guns (and her fists) so she had not officially tested either of them. There was a first time for everything, right? She gripped the hilt tighter and threw herself into the throng of soon-to-be victims. One-handedly Delta swung the sword in a semicircle, the blade itself and Delta's clothing was moisten with blood. She took hold of the nearest creature within her range and slit its throat from ear to ear, blood squirted from its neck as it collapsed. A warning that was not well received. Anything that moved she sloppily slashed and sliced, blood flew every which way.

Delta stuck the sword in the belly of a near dead creature and used her brute strength to heave the blade all the way upward to the base of its skull. Its bloody entrails fell out on the ground. Swearing had become Delta's favorite thing (not that it wasn't already her favorite thing to do), she cursed left and right as the creatures swiped, stabbed, and poked various things at her. Her crystallization had developed significantly since she had been involved in combat of this caliber. The stinging scratches she had acquired on her face were the only foreseeable downside. Twenty minutes passed before a heap of bodies and severed limbs laid scattered at Delta's feet. She huffed and puffed, her shoulders rising and falling with every breath she took, and boy did Delta take a lot. Once she had composed herself she wiped off the bloodstained sword on the body of a dead gutted harpy. She was coated head to toe in blood and guts, she couldn't tell what was her blood and what wasn't. Parts of her clothing were shredded, such as her pants and the backside of her jacket (she hadn't worn her favorite leather jacket, thank god!) Delta dropped the sword and went toward the humans who had watched her this entire time, stepping over the bodies of those she had killed.

"Elpis," Delta said, almost in tears. She watched as the people closed rank and raised their weapons, blocking the one person on Earth Delta wanted to see. "I just saved your sorry as-es, you f-cktards. Elpis is my..." Delta paused, she hadn't actually thought of what her and Elpis's relationship would or should be called. It seemed weird to call Elpis her friend; they were closer than that... "My family." She watched as the men and woman exchanged approving looks and nods before eventually parting and lowering their weapons to reveal Elpis. The dress she was wearing was no longer white but covered in dust and red speckles. Delta scooped up the girl in her arms in a tight embrace and spun her around in a circle.

"Promise me, you won’t leave us, me, again, okay?" Delta said sternly, by her tone of voice she knew that Elpis would be able to tell she wasn't happy. Elpis understood enough of what Delta said to nod and smile. In a less perilous situation Delta would've easily stood there and held onto Elpis for quite some time.

English wasn't well spoken amongst the group, but Delta still did her best to thank them all individually. As a group Delta led them toward where she believed the AUP was located. From time to time she would hear one of the three terrors - that's what Delta had taken to calling the griffin, dragon, and sphinx - and signaled for the group to hide low amongst the rubble. About every five minutes or so this happened and when the coast was clear they would continue on their way. Occasionally they would encounter a civilian that would need their help. At the top of the list was freeing someone trapped underneath wreckage, saving people from burning buildings, and protecting a person from getting savagely beaten to death by murderous beings. Strangely enough it felt nice to assist these people, though, Delta wasn't going to make a habit of it.

The one thing that she had an urge to fulfill was to find the Atlantean(s) responsible for the decimation of this once beautiful and lively city and the countless amount of lives that were taken. Only one fate was accepted for that type of person and it was Delta putting a bullet through their skull. These Atlanteans were cowards, hiding behind their creatures and refusing to face her. Regardless of their craven tactics Delta would deliver their punishment first-hand. Even thinking about it made her twist her face in disgust. One of the buildings they passed Delta recognized, she turned to face the group in order to deliver this bit of information.

"We're almost there," Delta said. Each one of them nodded, except one. His eyes were bulged out like he was in shock and blood trickled down the side of his mouth. That's when she saw the sword protruding from his neck.

The sheer look of horror on Delta's face must have alerted everyone because one by one they all let out frighten wails. It was too late for them; Delta couldn't help but watch the slaughter unfold before her very eyes. Screams were cut short by blades and fangs. From up above a seemingly endless stream of vampires, knights, and harpies descended from the building, this was an ambush. Instinctively Delta stepped in front of Elpis and removed her gun from its holster to fire three shots. Two of the shots killed two of the creatures and the last round was a mercy killing for the man they had mutilated beyond recognition. How had she not seen this coming? She had given her word to them she'd led them to safety but instead she had led them to their graves. There were too many for Delta to take on and still watch over Elpis to make sure she didn't run away again. Her gun kept flaring to life; she disposed of one magazine and inserted another, hoping there was enough rounds inside to take down this swarm. Usually she brought two guns and four magazines with her minimum, but her fight with Aoife had distracted her from grabbing the second gun and extra ammunition. The number of foes dwindled but Delta was still on the defensive. They were incoming and in seconds Delta knew they would be on top of her.

"Get down!" Delta preferred to not yell at Elpis but the moment called for it and Elpis made herself as small as possible. After Delta holstered her weapon she crystallized her fists and ran at the group head on, wanting to keep their sole attention on her and not on the small girl that was crouching on the ground behind her. Her fists found themselves colliding with the skulls of many. On top of a mound of rumble Delta spotted the axe that belonged to one of her fallen comrades. A punch here and there allowed for Delta to clear a path toward the weapon. She ducked down to retrieve it but before her fingers could wrap around its wooden handle she was blindsided by a being with claws and feathers.

Picking herself up was easier said than done, especially when a mass of creatures was trying to rip her throat out. Her forehead throbbed with pain, she pressed her fingers up against it only for it to come away covered in blood. If she could fully crystallize this wouldn't be a problem, these things would've been dealt with by now. The only good thing about being knocked down was that she was closer to the axe. A prickling sensation on her shoulder caused her to curse as looked back and saw one of the beings with serrated teeth feasting on her flesh. Wrapping her gloved hand around the handle of the bladed weapon Delta swung it at its neck with all the vigor her crystallized arm could muster and cleaved the head clean off its shoulder. An inhumane scream focused Delta's attention and heaved her onto her feet. She lashed out with a foot to kick the nearest fiend down and brought her weapon wielding hand backwards and flung it as hard as she could. The axe sunk into the head of an armored knight that loomed over Elpis, she would have to thank Natalia for the sessions of target practice later. Not many remained after Delta snapped the neck of one very pissed off werewolf.

An overwhelming feeling of pleasure had firmly settled in. Something she hadn't felt since that time on the boat, the passion to kill. If she had the time she would have reveled in each of her kills before she moved on to the next one and made sure their blood painted a masterpiece. The gash on the left side of her forehead after some time bled enough to reach her eye, leaving her unable to properly use it. In a fit of rage she took out the rest but not without acquiring more superficial wounds.

"We did it," Delta grunted, and lowered herself to Elpis's level. In her hand Delta took Elpis's and beamed a forced smile to try and show that everything was going to be okay now. “I couldn’t have done it without your bravery, okay?” Elpis stared deeply in Delta’s green eyes and wiped away some of the blood that was stopping her from fully opening her left eye. “Lets go,” Delta murmured softly, she rose from the ground and turned around to lead them away from the massacre that had occurred.

A bloodied knight stood directly in front her, the axe protruded from the side of his head and the need for vengeance was written all over his bruised and bloodied face. With a smug smile he sank his jagged blade smoothly between her ribs. In an attempt to minimize the damage done Delta tried to crystallize her body but to no avail. Again, she tried. Nothing. Her attempts were futile. Goddammit. She looked down to see her blood staining the sword. Elpis's touch had taken her ability. The knight retrieved his weapon by yanking the sword out. Delta placed her hands on her injury, but the pressure alone wasn’t going to stop the bleeding. Taking a step forward she immediately fell to her knees. Damn. She had always imagined her going out in a blaze of glory not by some pathetic stab wound in the middle of a ruined city. Wouldn’t it be funny if this were the exact spot where Nathan had proposed so that the happiest moment of her life and the lowest were all in one spot?

Delta lingered her gazed over her shoulder for just a moment, she wanted to see Elpis one last time. If there was one final act she must do it prior to dying it was to tell Elpis, “Run.” Elpis stood there frozen in place, her voice had not reached the girl’s ears. This was Delta’s fault, she made Elpis promise not to leave her side and even at the worst possible time she was still fulfilling it. The ragged knight brought his weapon straight down for what seemed like one last strike. Delta shielded herself with her forearm, and laughed until she started coughing up blood, it was certainly going to take a better move than that to kill her. She saw the flames from the lit fires glinting off the blade as it came down for a second and, this time, final blow. Unlike others Delta had no plans on shutting her eyes and embracing death, she would see life until the very end. The sword stopped mid-swung, before it had the opportunity to finish her. A vast amount of blood started pouring profusely from the knight’s neck and, much to Delta's surprise, his head slid straight off of his shoulder. He fell forward, right on top of Delta. Delta turned her head to the side and noticed a swirl of purple haze that lingered in the air. A silhouette was visible for a brief moment then it disappeared from sight. Delta swore she heard the wings of a bird flapping. Against her will her eyes fluttered shutter, she felt her consciousness slipping but still Delta reached out for Elpis.
__________________

THE EXTREMELY JEALOUS PAIR OF CAREFULWETPAINT
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