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Unread 28th of April, 2008, 11:47
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Issue Three - A Mad Tea Party

The Armonia was the epitome of posh upper class ski resorts. Nestled just south of the Upper Lillooet Provincial Park in British Columbia, it had a reputation for sheik elegance. But beneath its impeccably polished exterior there lurked a dark secret. Its owner, the beautiful and enigmatic Madam Noir, catered to more than the idle rich. The Madam was in fact a practitioner the dark arts known as Widow, and her resort a twisted playground for both human and demon alike.

It is into this secret world that a group of inexperienced metahumans has wandered. Driven by a desire to save twenty-three innocent souls they have pushed through the looking glass, and now find themselves deep within Wonderland.
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Unread 1st of May, 2008, 05:01
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They had made good time and avoided further altercations by taking the service tunnels that ran throughout the underground labyrinth almost, Hardball thought, like a web. He pushed the memory of sights seen along the way—demons with people engaged in unspeakable acts—to the back of his mind. There, he dug a deep, dark hole to throw the memories in. If he didn’t, he’d never be able to concentrate on the present. He’d deal with the nightmares some other time.

Right now, the newly minted heroes were hiding in a small service room as they plan their next move.

“OK,” Hardball says, “let me test my understanding. Past that door is a circular room about 50 yards across.” He traces a circle with his finger on the floor, gesturing to points of interest. “If we’re here at 6:00, there are doors here and here at 8:30 and 11:30 complete with uniformed security guards.” He taps a thick, metal finger lightly on the floor at the 3:00 position. “But this is the door that Paul says the scarab points to. Big bald black guy in Armani in front of a columned steel door.”

He pauses a moment to test his memory. Did he forget anything?

“The only light in the room comes from braziers.” He looks up from his imaginary map, making eye contact with Starfire. “Romantic.” The sarcasm in his voice is obvious. Then it’s back to business. “Oh, and the ceiling goes up into the darkness for who knows how far.”

“I’m open to any ideas, but I’ve got a couple of my own. If we lead off with some of those flashbang grenades they gave us, we might buy ourselves enough time to get out that door and make the 50-yard dash to the guards. I’m not sure how long they’re good for, but I can run the 50 in about 12 seconds, and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the slowest of us when it comes to foot speed. That just leaves what to do once we hit the guards. I see two options.

“In Plan A, we all blitz the guy in the Armani. He’s likely the leader of the three. If we take him down hard, fast, and ugly, that combined with the disorientation of the flash bang grenades might be enough to make the other guards hesitate long enough for us to drop him. Then we move to the other two guards as appropriate.”

“In Plan B, we divide and conquer. I’ll keep the Armani busy while the rest of you take the guards out. Nick and Starfire, you get 8:30 guard. Nick can keep him at range while Starfire cooks him. Colin and Jack can take out 11:30 guard. They’re both good at hand-to-hand and should make short work of him. Paul, you’re the floater. Go where you’re needed. Preferably, I’d like to see if you can get access through that metal door while we take care of the guards. Whoever finishes their fight first helps out where appropriate with the remaining guards.”

“That just leaves figuring out how we’re going to negotiate squeezing all of us through that tiny door and getting to the ground safely. I mean, who the hell puts a service door fifteen feet off the ground?”

Last edited by Hardball; 1st of May, 2008 at 07:32.
  #3  
Unread 2nd of May, 2008, 07:08
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"Nick and Starfire, you get 8:30 guard. Nick can keep him at range while Starfire cooks him."

Whoa.

I get to 'cook' him?

Whoa.

Starfire really can't imagine what it will be like. She pictures flames shooting out of her fingertips, just like in the practice sessions. But then she imagines the guard's face melting off, and a really pissed off spider demon emerging from the burning shell, ready to suck her guts out. What if it isn't affected by fire? What if it gobbles up the flames and then spits them back out at Nick? What if she misses completely?

Looking at Hardball gives her some slight confidence. He talks like he knows what he's doing, and like he knows that, when the time comes, the team will also know what they're doing. Plus... just look at him - he's a metal man! Hardball is a real super hero, and Starfire is part of his team. And super heroes always win, don't they?

Unfortunately, the other faces looking around at each other in the cramped little room aren't so bright and shiny. Paul keeps scrunching up his shoulders and making a sort of soft, sawbuzz whining sound. She had thought at first that the noise was some kind of technical gizmo in his pocket. But then she had realized that the speedster was about this close to freaking out.

He's not the only one.

No. Starfire doesn't mean that. She is holding it together. And underneath it all, the others are doing pretty well too, even Paul, now that plans are being discussed. Everyone is coping. Everyone seems to be mustering the determination to do what needs to be done. Now they just have to work out a plan.

"I think, uh.." Starfire's voice sounds dry and brittle. She clears her throat and tries again. "I think Nick and I can handle 8:30 guard." Splitting up seems like the best idea. If it's just her and Nick going after the guard, she'll only have to worry about accidentally 'cooking' one person when she 'flames on'.

"We can do it. Right, Nick?"
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Unread 3rd of May, 2008, 02:47
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Jack grits his teeth at the thought of taking on another of those demons. The sick feeling in his stomach might well be fear at the thought; it could just as easily be loathing from the depraved sights he'd been privy to on their trek here, or a residual effect from the effort of his earlier expenditure.

Not that it mattered.

They were going into that room and taking on those three things. It wasn't a question, and it wasn't something that was going to wait. He flexes his fingers slightly, feeing the twisting pull in his gut as he did so - his power, an evil serpent, is restless.

"It's going to take time for me and Colin to get to the floor and all the way across the chamber. That thing is going to get a shot at us before we can do anything, and if it's like the other one we might not make it across."

He shakes off thoughts of being caught and dying horribly in that viscous, acidic web.

"Maybe Paul can do something to distract it until we get there - circle it and drop grenades or something."
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Unread 3rd of May, 2008, 03:13
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Nick looks up at Starfire from Hardball’s imaginary map. Even on the metallic features of his face she can see the intense look like that of an athlete before a big game.

Their success in the boiler room had boosted Nick’s confidence. They had to be close to their goal. He thought to himself. He had that feeling in his gut. That same feeling he got during a close game. But this wasn’t a game. People’s lives were at stake. His new team was counting on him. They were all counting on him. This time he wasn’t going to let them down.

“I know we can.” he replies folding his hands together to crack his coppery metallic knuckles.

“We just need a way get this play started off. The tricky question is how we throw the flash bangs at two targets and scramble out that small door as quickly as possible.” He says pointing at the small service door. “Anybody got any ideas? “
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Unread 3rd of May, 2008, 10:48
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Hardball looks thoughtfully at his imaginary map on the floor. He smiles slowly and looks up at Nick.

“I know a way. How good’s your throwing arm?”

“Fine,” Nick says. “You want to throw some grenades out there first?”

“Sort of,” Hardball replies. “When I give the signal, Paul will open the door. Then I want you to throw me as far as you can. Once I’m out there, I’ll take care of the grenades.”

“You want me to what? Dude, you weigh a ton. I could never throw you that far.”

“If I armor down first, I’ll be light enough. I can change back before I land. You just turn into something strong that can get me to the middle of the room. Or even better, find a rubber band or something. Turn into that. Slingshot my ass out there. Look, I don't care how you do it. Just do it.”

He pauses to take in the group’s reactions.

“Look. You’ll all have to navigate that 15-foot drop. That takes time. You’ll have to cover the distance between you and the guards. That takes more time. In the meantime, you’re sitting ducks unless there’s another duck--a bigger, metal duck--already in their face. The flash-bang grenades might buy you the time that you need all on their own. And if they don’t, the guards will be concentrating on me while you all move into play. If anyone has a better plan, I'll hear it. Otherwise, we're wasting time."

Last edited by Hardball; 3rd of May, 2008 at 18:28.
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Unread 8th of May, 2008, 10:31
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With difficulty, Paul slows down again as he hears Jack drawl his name. Going over the horror in his head a sixty-third time and mumbling his salvation mantra of twenty-three hadn't helped even repeating it 529 times. Except I'm still here. I could be back in the Armonia sipping a mojito. Probably couldn't sense demons anymore. FUCKING DEMONS!

"- circle it and drop grenades or something."

Something. Anything rather than toss thunder and lightning. My eyes hurt even thinking about it. Maybe I should bolt for the cell door. Release our objective. She's one of us. But what if they're torturing her too?

He nods at Jack half-smiling as pushes his breath faster. Paul watches Jack's gestures slow down like the tai chi class he had started with Marcia. He had honestly thought they were standing still. This is crazy. We're going deeper into this hell on earth by crawling out of a hole fifteen feet up a wall that judging by the giant claw marks is used more by more spider demons FUCKING SPIDER DEMONS! Why the hell am I still here? That's it. We've got to get the twenty three out of this hell. Or they'll be left here...with them...

Crouching he walks slowly to the door and looks into the brazier lit room.
Nick cracks copper. Paul stands straight up at the odd popping metallic sound and stares back at the group. How do they do it? They're all so brave. This is crazy. Nick and Hardball are fearless. Maybe it's the metal.

He peers through the tiny window into the room. Spider demons have sat here watching their victims, waiting until they feel a moment's peace before skittering along the stone. He shudders and flashes open his eyes again forcing himself to look at the demons.

This is Her prize. The rest of the place doesn't have this obvious muscle. Polnoch might be drawing her forces into defensive positions and this is a prize. Like we would be. Focus. The braziers are odd. What is their purpose? The Armani is obviously the leader. The ceiling goes up. Why so high? What's up there? The angle doesn't work well to see the ceiling. The hair on his neck rises again. Focus. The door. There's no lock, no key hole. It's almost sculpted - shaped with columns - not an ordinary door. Still there's got to be a way through. He moves the scarab back and forth. She's definitely through the door. Maybe it's the angle. I should be able to find a way through.

Hardball drawls his name. Paul zips back blurring away from the four foot door. His eyes appear to take over his face as he pictures Nick snapping Hardball into the room apparently over Paul's head. Na, I can slide down cover my ears from the blast. Beat feet from there.

He nods in agreement with the shining Titan though his eyes still have the look of impending panic. "Let's not wait," he gulps "More could come behind us any minute."
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Unread 10th of May, 2008, 11:28
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Colin watches in quiet wonder as the overly complicated plan hatches like a two headed chicken. This was so much easier when I only had myself to worry about.

"Alright Tinman... it's your call. I just hope you have a good throwing arm. That guard at 11:30 is gonna have a good ten to twelve seconds to get a shot off on me and Jack so you have to make sure you hit him square with that flash-bang."

Colin takes a deep breath to steady himself. He can taste the metallic tang of fear in the air. "Paul's right though, let's not push our luck any longer hiding out in here... better if we're the ones getting the jump on them."

Turning to Jack, he says "I'm gonna hit the ground running and try to make myself a target. Hopefully I can avoid his attacks as I move in. Stay behind me and we go like we did in the janitor's room. I'll engage him and then you follow in and finish him off.

And Jack.... try not to be late", he says, giving Jack a pat on the shoulder.
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Unread 14th of May, 2008, 07:44
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Nick chuckles a little bit at the thought of hardball flying into the room thought the small opening “This plan is just crazy enough to work.”

But where to find a good strong piece of rubber? Nick finds the answer to his question on his feet. Nick grabs the underside of his shoe concentrating on the rubber sole. The black rubber of the sole appears to flow up his arm and across his body as he transforms.

“Whoa this feels kind of weird” He says as he checks out his new form. But there is no time to linger on the thought.

“I think this will do. As soon as I launch the silver duck here into the room Collin and Jack should go so they can get to their target. Then I’ll go. Starfire you got my back. Paul is our ace in the hole.”
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Unread 15th of May, 2008, 01:18
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Jack nods to Colin, cracking a slight smile at his quip and trying not to look sick to his stomach. He glances down at the tactical armor velcroed over his clothing - some fraying around the edges but everything still seemed intact. Better not to get hit at all then to rely on it, though.

He didn't have anything to add to Nick's plan - it sounded about as good as they were going to come up with given the knowledge they had. At this point he was best off just concentrating on his part - make it to that thing and, well, do what he could do. Against fucking demons, for Christ's sake. He clears his throat slightly, dark eyes steady and serious.

"Let's not make assumptions about what we're up against either. These might not be the same as the one we saw."
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Unread 15th of May, 2008, 02:48
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Starfire nods at newly rubberized Nick. Yes, I've got your back.

They're all almost ready to go. She's more than ready. The longer she waits here, the harder it is to breathe. Is it getting hot? She imagines that she can smell something burning, and thinks how bad it would be if she suddenly lost control.

But that's not going to happen.

Jack's comment is unnerving. The spider-demon-thing had been a horrifying surprise. She'd sort of been preparing herself for more of the monstrosities. But what if these are different? How can she prepare herself for the unimaginable? Maybe it's better not to spend any more time thinking about it.

"Let's do this. I'm ready." Starfire looks around at the group, ending with the one who will lead them in this fight. "Hardball - we'll be right behind you!"
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Unread 25th of May, 2008, 11:26
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“Duuuude…” Nick grunts as Hardball continues pushing backwards into his stretching body. Reaching the end of the squat hallway the silvery titan pauses, the thick bands of metallic muscles in his legs bulging with effort. Beneath his feet the metal floor supports creak and bend as he eyes the door some forty feet away. In the dim emergency lighting he can make out Paul’s large saucer-like eyes as the speedster readied himself.

“Ready?”

Nick only grunts.

JC can’t help but grin. Sure he was about to catapult himself down a hallway into a room full of demons that wanted to eat his face, but there was something about it all that just seemed….right.

He flashes a thumbs up to Paul.

“On three.”

“One…”

Hardball can feel Nick’s arms and legs begin to shake from fatigue, his malleable face contorting with pain.

“Two…”

He pulls the pins on the two soda can-like grenades.

“Three.”

In a blur of motion Paul opens the hatch-like door and hangs on to it as it swings open. Hardball tucks his legs and is instantly launched down the hall. Like a bullet from a gun he rockets across the circular room. The far wall rushes up on him, blotting out everything else.

Too fast…

Twisting in midair he manages to get his feet under him just in time. With an stone-crushing crunch he slams into the wall, his legs buckling under the impact. For a split second the metal man simply hangs there, half crouching on the wall. To his right he can see the spider demons crawling out of their guard skins.

Time to be a hero.

He whips a grenade at the closer bug demon then launches himself from the wall. With a grace that belies his mass, the metal man hurls his last grenade across the room, and then lands.

An instant later the room is filled with twin deafening booms.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 05:05
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Paul closes his eyes in time, but the light still howls by him. His ears ring from its scream as it passes. An instant later he flashes them open slightly dizzy and hanging fifteen feet above the ground. He drops and somersaults to a standing position quickly moving along the wall toward the brazier.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 10:39
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Colin explodes down the corridor, hot on the heels of the silver bullet and the rubber bando. He finds his focus as he seeks to push himself beyond his normal limits, heart racing, legs pumping. Reaching the end of the shaft just after the explosions, Colin launches himself headfirst into cavernous room. At the last moment Colin puts his hands out to brace and tucks his chin to his chest, curling into a ball. Rolling back to his feet with hardly any loss to his momentum Colin continues his sprint towards his target.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 22:34
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Shit, I'm up!

Focused on the spectacle of Stretch Armstrong firing Robojock down the tunnel, Jack almost forgets that the clock is ticking. Colin's racing form snaps him back to the present and he belatedly jumps into action. The twin booms of the grenades nearly deafen him here in the relative safety of the alcove and he can only hope they have some impact on the creatures below. The end of the tunnel approches all too soon, the floor looks further down than he'd like, and Jack has a second to ponder the psychological difference between practice and the real thing. Colin makes it look easy, like a walk in the park rather than a leap into the maw of hell, but that's the real trick to most things. With more confidence than he feels, Jack leaps out after him in what he hopes is a passable imitation of the maneuver, albeit with less style.

For a brief instant, hurtling through the air, unencumbered by the baggage of every day life, Jack feels every bit the super hero he is supposed to be. He embraces the feeling, letting himself exist only in that moment, where nothing mattered except simply being. Lost in that timeless space, the solid floor rushes up like the ocean when you turn your back on it. Jack hits the ground a little too hard but he tucks and rolls and bounces upright, legs immediately pumping, eyes focused on Colin as he closes the distance between them.
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Unread 4th of June, 2008, 03:53
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Hardball had shot out of the little room like a shining rocket. And Nick - her partner - is out there now too.

I've got your back, Nick, Starfire thinks. But her feet are stuck to the floor like they are glued there.

Someone else should go next. I don't know what I'm doing. I'll screw up the plan!

And one by one someone else does go next, until Starfire is left alone in the corridor watching Jack leap and disappear into the room beyond. She wants to run after him but her feet still aren't moving, she can't make her legs go, it's like she doesn't even have control over them. She should have known she'd be useless here, except as a distraction. She's a body in a pink snow-bunny suit, that's all.

Fear and self-contempt churn in her gut. If all she's good for is a distraction then, all right. At least she'll go out there and stand with the others. She doesn't have to do anything special, not really. Just distract the demons enough so that the real heroes can do the job.

But you know what? Fuck the snow-bunny thing.

I am Starfire.

As she starts down the corridor, she feels it beginning. Tiny motes of glistering light spring to life throughout her body, tingling, burning, consuming, transforming her flesh. By the time she makes the door, her body has changed into pure, white-hot energy. She bursts into the room, as brilliant as a star.

The floor looks a lot further down than she thought it would, and she's afraid for a moment that she will drop like a stone and break her neck! But instead of falling, she finds herself gliding through the air. She sails over Nick's head, striving to bring her descent under control, and finally lands lightly a few paces ahead of him.
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 09:49
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Chaos erupts around Colin as he sprints across the room. Still, his team seems to be sticking with the plan. The spider demon that was his target obligingly stumbles in his direction, wicked hooked claws flailing blindly. So far so good.

Out of the corner of his eye, Colin sees Starfire gently alight to the floor, her flaming corona brighter by far than any of the braziers. He then realizes that he wasn't the only one to notice the blazing beauty. The nearer of the two spider demons must have shrugged off the effects of the grenade and Colin cringes as he watches that demon spit another one of those acidic webs, completely enveloping Starfire.

Instantly, Colin angles towards the creature, shouting over his shoulder, "Jack, new dance!" Nearing the hideous fiend, Colin turns his baleful gaze upon it and growls, "I'm gonna rip your fucking fucking head off, hellspawn!" With a flourish he strikes a combat pose as if preparing to strike.

Colin's attempt to draw the demon's attention fails miserably. The creature completely ignores the mortal warrior at it's back, all eyes fixated on the flaming female.
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Unread 12th of June, 2008, 00:16
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Collecting himself after the sling shot launch Nick takes in the field. The team seems to have the spiders in trouble as they blindly grope about the room for a target. The others appear to have traversed the leap to the floor with little trouble. Starfire had made an impressive display. Floating down in front of him like some fiery angel. He could feel the intense heat like a blast furnace.

Then the demon the one that was to be their target snapped out of its confusion. It moved closer spitting its acidic webs encasing Starfire.

Remembering the effect the acid had on Hardball Nick acts quickly to free his wrapped up partner. He stretches his rubber hand down to touch the floor allowing his body to absorb the properties of the hard stone. He quickly grabs the sinewy acid dripping webs with both hands. Instantly he can feel the acid and heat burning his hands.

Nick pulls with all his stony strength ripping large bundles of webbing sending acid and bits of webbing spaying off. One glob of acid and webbing hits Nick’s right cheek burning into his stony flesh. Nick grunts from the pain as he turns his head away to protect his face from other flying pieces.

Last edited by -J-; 16th of June, 2008 at 06:47. Reason: font
  #19  
Unread 16th of June, 2008, 05:55
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The world slows almost to a stop as Hardball watches the spider demon’s caustic webbing envelop Starfire. All of his muscles tighten momentarily as his body remembers the deep burning. But Starfire doesn’t seem to be burning. Nick, on the other hand is smoldering just fine as he fights to pull the webs off her.

Ooh! Hardball cringes slightly as he watches. Not the face!

"I'm gonna rip your fucking fucking head off, hellspawn!"

Huh? Did that just come from Colin? He seemed like such a quiet, polite boy. The fierce pose Colin strikes in his attempt to distract the demon from Starfire says that it did. But the demon remains unimpressed. Even from behind, Hardball can feel the weight of its gaze as black, glassy eyes track its tasty target. What it is planning cannot be wholesome. If only there was someone who could stop it.

Oh, wait. There is.

Hardball takes two or three running steps to start his forward momentum, coils his body for the jump, and he is airborne—almost 40 feet at the apex of his leap.

As he begins his decent, Hardball aims for the demon. He lands squarely on it, driving 881 lbs of living metal into its back and forcing it to the ground. The demon splatters with a sickening pop, covering nearby Colin in a wash of demonic blood.

Hardball glances over at the dark man in the Armani. Now might be a good time for a show of force to make him reconsider joining the fight, or at least direct its attention to him like the plan originally was.

“What do you think of THAT, you smug bast—

Last edited by Hardball; 17th of June, 2008 at 11:55.
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Unread 16th of June, 2008, 06:45
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Hardball’s words trail off as the well-dressed demon launches itself into the air, its ten thousand dollar silk suit fluttering like the glossy wings of a moth. Even through its sunglasses Hardball can see its fell eyes blazing like globs of fresh magma, and behind its grimacing lips were rows of glowing hot metallic teeth. Unable to catch his footing on the ichor-slicked stone, Hardball braces for the impact.

The demon’s fist crashes onto Hardball’s cheek filling the air with sparks and the deafening clang of metal striking metal. The silver titan reels backward and drops to a knee as the world around him spins sickeningly.

The towering demon throws its head back and roars with bestial fury. Streams of molten metal dribble down its chin, melting and burning their way through its false skin to expose the blackened metallic flesh beneath.

Last edited by -J-; 24th of June, 2008 at 10:17.
  #21  
Unread 17th of June, 2008, 11:00
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Open the door. Open the door. Open the door. Paul’s new smaller mantra works to focus his mind away from the crazy bug demons as he runs across the vast chamber in a split second and the team spills slowly out of the elevated door.

The prison door is carved intricately apparently from one piece. Human figures partially push out from the plane of the wall – limbs grasping or contorted. No hinges, no handles – not even some intricate figure looks to be pulled or pushed, no sign of any seam. It’s hardly a door more like some installation piece with obvious muscle parked in front of it.

Then Armani’s gone arcing into the air toward the fray. Open the door. Paul’s up on the dais dodging between a carved stone pillar and a firey brazier. He faces the door and tries to find a seam, an indentation, some mark of human fucking demon hands have left from opening it. A hidden combination of twist this naked arm, poke that screaming face. The figures are all in torment. Fucking sculpted torture, imagined beautifully, horrifically like the silent scene of the underground hallways they had just come through. So many figures jammed up against one another, pulling, pushing away, reaching out for respite all frozen motionless and unheard in silent stone.

He turns away from the door as the piercing din of high speed metal hits high speed metal. His hands cover his ears reflexively though they’re still ringing from the grenades. The new wave of sound from Armani’s roar nauseates him as it rumbles through him. He crouches partially hands still covering his ringing ears, eyes still filling with horror.

Open the door. His eyes focus on the right column. He scans for a plate or seam on the pillar where an access pad might be hidden. Nothing on that one. He turns to the right. Nope. He follows them up where they recede into nothingness.

Literally nothingess. Paul stares where the ceiling should be or a shaft retreating upward. Instead there’s emptiness, a blackness pulling at him, reaching out toward him in his mind. It makes no sense. He can always see. It makes no fucking sense. Paul can't wrap his mind around it this abyss of nothing where there should be something. What is it but the Void. And he swears its looks back at him.
  #22  
Unread 2nd of July, 2008, 12:36
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With a bone jarring crash the well-dressed demon drops Hardball to his knees. Panic fills Starfire’s stomach as the beast roars in victory. The demon’s burned lip crack wide in a horrific grin as it prepares its coup de grace.

“No!” panic explodes into rage as the stone beneath her feet begins to melt. Waves of flame pour out of her and roll through the air in great fiery sheets. The white hot blast crash against the demon’s side, igniting flesh and Italian silk. The creature roars again, its suit and faux skin peeling off in charred sheets to reveal its true, utterly demonic, form. Blackened metallic skin covered the beast, from its wickedly curved horns, to its thick, cloven feet. An unnerving rumbling sound comes from the thing as it casts its molten eyes on Starfire.

It was laughing.
  #23  
Unread 2nd of July, 2008, 14:36
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Air flows thickly around Paul fraying the edges of his suit. Buttons spiral away from him lazily as he flees from the gnawing darkness above. An instant later he’s there, his hands vibrating the locked door hand so violently that the hardened steel begins to redden from the friction. An instant later it breaks free, sending tiny splatters of molten iron searing into his imported slacks. 247 blows later, the flattened remnants of the door knob clatter impotently to the ground.

Eyes bulging almost from their sockets, he cowers under the weight of the emptiness above, a single thought clawing through his brain.

Escape.

Blurred hands rip through the supple fabric, desperately searching for the one thing he knew would get him out.

The crystal.

The amethyst colored stone pulses warmly in his hands as he drops to his knees.

“Place the stone on the ground when you’re ready to return…” Polnoch’s words burrow virally into his mind.

Paul is milimeters from his freedom when he spots it, tumbling slowly through the air in front of him.

Samuelson.

23

23 people.

They were here to save 23 people:

23 lives to make up for one,

23 chances for redemption,

23.
  #24  
Unread 4th of July, 2008, 02:44
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In the brief second that the beast is distracted Colin strikes, his taught muscles explosively unwinding into a vicious side thrust kick. The heel of his boot connects solidly; the impact rocks the demon backward but sends shards of agony through his leg.

It was like kicking a metal wall.

Pushing past the pain he closes, trained hands instantly finding the creature’s center of balance and redirecting it into a tight spiral. Utterly confused, the massive iron beast finds itself pin-wheeling in the air. With a stone pulverizing crunch it slams into the floor at Colin’s feet.
  #25  
Unread 4th of July, 2008, 02:44
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This is it Jack…hero time.

He waits for a second reading Colin’s technique and is in motion even before he begins his throw. As the darkly metallic creature spins in the air before him he can feel his mutant power surging into his hands begging for release. Moments later his pistoning legs chew through the last few feet of distance between them. Brilliant violet energy arcs wildly as he rakes his left hand along the demon’s side, gnawing and pitting the beast’s metallic flesh.

Pride wells in his chest as his momentum carries him out of the demon’s reach.

Now where’s that other bug…
 

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