The World After (Ather City 2) [The End] page 221 (locked)

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Lee
“Which is why we came here. There should be some, if a limited amount of, food. As well as it being a place to rest. That, and I refuse to head to someplace safe while the two factions are still up and running. We need to be bringing the fight to them, not running because we lost a couple of people.”
“We lost Andrus for definite, and possibly John, Michael and Connor. That is a lot of people.”
“I don’t care. If I’m still alive, I’m fighting them.”
“With that kind of attitude, you won’t be alive for much longer.”
“I’d rather die than stop fighting.”
“We need to be more careful now that there’s only the five of us. We need to plan carefully.”
“We can still beat them.”
“Not if we charge in headfirst.”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW WE DO IT, ONLY THAT WE DO IT! We need to kill as many of them as we can, and that means charging in headfirst.”

Amy
Something’s gotten into him. I didn’t realise Andrus being captured would affect him so badly.

 
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Victor Fieldstone, age 16

“Please, just stop!” I beg in desperation. “Leave me alone!”

“Silence!” The leader of the mob, a towering beast of a man, snarls. “Mutant scum like you should just die!”

“But I’ve done nothing wrong!” I instinctively step back a little. The feeling of cold, hard stone tells me that I’ve been backed against a wall. There is no escape.

“That doesn’t matter,” rage and contempt drips from the man’s voice. “Abominations like you do not deserve to exist!”

KILL THE MUTANT!” The crowd behind him screams. “KILL THE MUTANT! KILL! KILL!” Torches ablaze, the mob descends into a feverish chant. “KILL! KILL! KILL!”

I cover my ears and curl into a fetal position, but that is futile as the sounds of madness and bloodlust bores into my brain. “No… Go away…” I whisper in agony.

RIP HIM APART!” The man screams. The mob rushes at me, pitchforks, machetes, and various other weapons raised to tear me apart.

AAAAARGH!” I finally snap. As if these pathetic little steel objects can harm me! Multiple beams of blood red energy burst from me, crimson electricity shaped like human veins. Whenever they strike, things rapidly turn into red metal, be it stone or flesh. As my own madness descends, many red metallic blades emerge from me, and I charge toward the mob; demented cackles escape from my lips like the baleful cries of blood-drinking mutant vultures…

Aether

Do you have a destination in mind, Master? Psyche’s voice whispers in my metaphysical ear.

NO! I almost scream out loud. Again I violently expel her presence from myself, spitting out Psyche as a sphere of violet energy. But again she quickly, involuntarily returns to me, her own essence permanently fused with mine and unable to leave me for long. AND I AM NOT YOUR MASTER!

Then what should I address you as? She asks as our magical reserves combine once again, though more mine than hers as I am painfully aware.

I have a name! I snap. Aether!

You wish me to address you not as “Master” but rather a synonymous title? Psyche asks quizzically.

ARGH! I scream. Beams of bluish white light shoot outward from me, vaporizing some of the seawater below. I consider spending all of my mana in one massive spell to completely deplete myself of magic, if only to rid me of Psyche. Then I shudder as I realize that such a thing will end her, throw her into complete and utter oblivion.

So I simply ignore her words, and continue to blindly dash forward, no particular goal in mind. However, in a cruel twist of coincidence, my destination quickly becomes apparent…

Why have you returned to the place of your creation, Master? Psyche asks.

Indeed… Why? I begin to ponder. The island’s magical reservoir already begins to resonate with my magical signature, beginning the process of my reassimilation into the guardian of this place…

[Please do not interfere, Gambi. I have this planned out.]

 
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[And to mark our triumphant return, Pyro and I present one big-ass collab post! Enjoy.]
“Stop the ship. We’re here.” Nick turns to his twin piloting the vessel and looks out a window at the approaching zeppelin. “We’re almost out of time. Zero, have Sarah bring Michael and the boys to the bridge. I’ll meet them once I have my armor on.”


Chaos stared at the oncoming crater intensely, a greedy gleam in his eye that would be visible were it not for his mask. The pieces of the black metal that he had collected had been melted into a suit of skintight armor which acted as a second skin of sorts, mimicking his appearance in all ways short of the metal’s shape-changing properties. Yet it was not complete. The mask told him it wasn’t. This piece would complete it. But it was very large, appearing massive even from this far away. It would take time to bond to. That’s why the ship waiting for his arrival worried him. “Jason. Scramble the troops. I want a full guard for this job.”

The mutant behind him nodded. “I’ll let them know. We should be arriving in just under ten minutes.”


Huh. The armor still fits after two hundred years. But reminiscing on his past wardrobe choices aside, there are more important things to deal with. Of the four people sitting in front of him, two are his oldest friends, the other two he hopes will be heroes in their own right someday. He stands up and clears his throat.
“We have less than ten minutes before the world maybe ends again. Last chance to back out.” There is no response from anyone. “Well then, Sarah, Zero and Norman will stall for time until the rest of us can get over there. When we do, Michael, you engage the primary target. Alex, you take out the engine room, slow them down at all costs. Connor, you’ll be—”
“No.” The young mage speaks up.
“What?”
“I’m going for the engines. I was down there, I’m not letting anyone else screw this up for the ones who weren’t lucky enough to escape.”
“…Fine then. Connor will take out the engines, Alex, you’ll try to hijack the ship itself. Are we clear?”
Alex raises one hand, the other supported by an ancient-looking sword in an ornately carved scabbard covered with flame patterns. “One question. What exactly is it that we’re dealing with here?”
“Right now, a couple of crazies and a mind-controlled private army. If this conversation goes too long, something worse than anything that’s shown up for centuries. And we’re out of time now.” Nick waves his hand, and three of them disappeared, leaving himself and Sarah alone in the room. His eyes flash purple before fading back to gold. “Norman and Zero just shoved a guy off a broken catwalk with a flare strapped to his back.”
A moment passes before she responds. “That works, distraction-wise.”


Alex, Connor, and Michael show up on the ground under the approaching zeppelin. Connor casts a few protective spells on them before they begin their ascent, Alex carrying the other two as he flies up to a lower catwalk. He drops them off and flies toward the front of the ship. Along the way, he scrapes his sword across the hull, leaving streaks of fire in it’s wake.

Connor and Michael split up, Michael kicking a door in to draw as much attention as possible, and Connor sneaking away, hoping to find an unguarded entrance.


The commotion from near the crew’s barracks alerts Jason to the intruders which had somehow gone unnoticed until now. One was flying outside the hull, the other had just flattened a man with a door. Flyboy’s out of range, so the big guy is first priority. He grabs a belt of blood-filled syringes and makes his way to the barracks.


Damn, I love being the distraction. After killing a man with the door he kicked in, Michael found himself in a roof filled with formerly sleeping guards. His first reaction was to pick up the door and use it as a shield. His next was to try to use the door as a weapon, Spartan-style. He was just about to throw the last two of them into a wall when a dark red knife _ding_ed off his metal arm and returned to its thrower. The man standing there had blood coating his arms, and the bodies near him looked like they had been drained. A new challenger, eh? He unsheathed his sword, and the image of his old enemy, the snakelike demon he had killed when he was just a child, appeared nearby. He’s a Blood Kinetic. Remove his advantage. And you know, don’t bleed.
“Good to know!” Michael lunges forward and slashes at Jason’s stomach, missing him but shattering the belt of blood. “You idiot!” The mutant shouts. “Do you have ANY IDEA how long it took me to harvest all that!” Jason charges and forms a sword aimed straight for Michael’s throat, but he blocks it with his mechanical arm and the blade returns to its liquid state. Michael punches him in the stomach and throws him out the open door, sending him falling to earth. The cyborg sheathes his blade and walks out of the room in search of his objective.


Jason has mixed thoughts as he falls.
Why did I think I could take that guy?
How many of them got on?
Wait. I still have some blood left. The blood spatter soaked into his clothes seeps out and forms into a liquid ball in his hand along with the blood he had ready to weaponize. He holds the ball at arms’ length below him and it spreads out to form a thin membrane about a meter wide. An image of a clear sky obstructed by a few buildings appears in the crude scrying pool. The ground is approaching quickly. Link. The sheet becomes solid and Jason crashes into it and vanishes. Simultaneously, an alleyway in Hong Kong plays host to a young man shooting fifty feet into the air and landing on a rooftop. He looks down at the body which served as his portal, and then out over the city. “New city, new life.” He drops down to the street and blends into the crowd.


Connor seems to be having a good deal of success at his mission, since he’s managed to enter the ship without being seen, at least part due to Alex and Michael diverting the guards’ attention. The engine room is just ahead, but it has two guards in front. He figures now is as good a time as any to try this new spell. He points at one and speaks mentally. Purge. A beam of white light shoots out of his finger and hits one guard in the head, bouncing to the other one immediately. Both of them collapse, and the masks they are wearing dissolve. He walks past the two unconscious mutants and enters the engine room.

It’s bigger than he remembered. Then again, being trapped in a glass tube for three days tended to mess with your sense of scale. Every tube was filled now. He has work to do. He walks up to one and taps on the glass, hoping for a response. There isn’t one. He finds the cable that runs from he tube to the generator and cuts it, opening the tube but leaving the occupant still unconscious. He cuts the remaining cables first, figuring that it would be easier to wake them all up rather than one at a time. Once the last tube was open, he cast an awakening spell on the room. “Listen up! Without you guys, this ship’s going down soon! So I you want to live, I’d suggest following me!” Their attention sustained, he leads them out of the engine block to he scaffolding on the exterior of the ship. “We’re gonna have to jump if we want to get out of this.” A murmur of discontent travels through he crowd, and he can tell that he’s losing them. “I SAID JUMP, DAMMIT!” The mass of mutants throws themselves over the edge, plummeting to the ground. The young Mage watches for a few seconds before leaving to track down the man responsible for this.


That day, several disappearance cases were simultaneously cleared as no fewer than several dozen mutants who had been assumed dead by law enforcement suddenly and without explanation appeared back in their homes with only vague memories of the past few months. A few would remember in time, but what exactly happened that day would remain a mystery.


Alex has managed to take control of the ship, and sits atop a pile of unconscious guards whistling as he throttles back the ship’s controls in an attempt to slow them down. Suddenly, Michael and Connor burst in. “Hey guys. Bridge is clear. How’d you do?”
“Took out the engines, most of the guards, and the vampire. Did you get Chaos yet?” Michael sets his sword down on a nearby console.
“No… I thought you did.”
“Guys… I think we have a problem.” Connor points out a window at the ground below, where a small group of about twenty men are gathered. The man at the head of the group is clad all in black.
“Shit.” Michael grabs his sword and approaches the window. “Sorry about this, little buddy.” He jabs Connor several times in the leg and there’s a burst of light, which leads to Michael glowing a pale gray. He jumps through the window and drops to earth, his feet colliding with the head of the man in the black metal. “Game on.”


Connor recovers from his crippling leg injury after a few seconds and limps over to Alex. “Dammit. I really need to figure out how to block those.”
“What did he do, anyway?”
“Feather Fall spell. But that’s beside the point. I’m going after him.” He purges the guards Alex knocked out and calls in a teleport from Nick. He then casts the Feather Fall spell again and jumps down after Michael.


In the few seconds between Michael’s landing and Connor’s, Chaos has been knocked to the ground and Michael’s disabled most of the guards. Connor sends out a shockwave Whig has he same effect on the mob as the purge spell, which leaves Connor and Michael standing over their adversary. “What should we do with him?”
“Just kill him, I guess. Let’s call Nick, see what he thinks.”
The two of them turn their backs on the unconscious enemy while Connor attempts to reach out to Nick. Neither of them notices the glow in his eyes as he regains consciousness. He reaches out to the giant metal shard, and a tendril of the metal is stripped from his leg and wraps around the shard. White electricity arcs along the tendril into the shard, and he yanks it toward him. The shard rips out of a hole in space, and he catches it, absorbing it into his second skin, which triples in thickness from the added mass. Some of the excess runs down to his arm, which morphs into a plethora of blades, easily parried by his intended target the cyborg. No one sees the rip in space expanding, turning the ground below into black glass. They attack from both sides, Michael attacking head-on with his sword and Connor slinging bolts of magic. Every attack is either parried by a dark blade or absorbed into the armor. Michael repels another blade strike and flips over Chaos next to Connor. “Can you teleport us back up there? I think I have an idea.”
“You’d need to immobilize him first.”
“Got it.” Michael rushes forward and acts like he’s going for a stab, but fakes and follows through with a swift kick between the Kinetic’s legs. He drives in pain a bit before dropping to his knees. Connor grabs both of their shoulders and teleports them to the top of the Colossus. “Even I have to admit the nut shot was funny. Good luck.” He teleports down to the bridge and explains the situation to Alex. “Pilot the ship toward that portal and let’s get out of here. Michael’s gonna meet us when he’s done.” Alex puts the ship on autopilot, and he and Connor both exit the ship via the window.


 
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Meanwhile, the two strongest men for several hundred miles were fighting ten thousand feet in the air. After recovering from Michael’s cheap shot, Chaos had formed a crude jetpack from his armor using his black fire as fuel. He flew high into the air carrying Michael, and just as suddenly he reversed his course, preparing to drive his skull into the ground. Michael wasn’t about to let this happen, so he stuck his sword out and caught the ship’s surface with it, ripping him out of his opponent’s grasp and causing the jetpack to crash. Better still, Michael somehow managed to rip a few pieces of the armor off, and they now clung to his metal arm like a fungus. No matter. He could see that Chaos was weakening, and so the two began a battle of speed, each becoming a blur as they attempted to disarm the other or catch them off guard. Neither happens until Chaos notices the portal expanding and the ship heading right for it. He slows down for only a second, but that’s enough for Michael to pin him down and rip the last of his armor off his body. His mechanical arm changes into a heavy blade, and he cuts his enemy’s leg off. He goes for the other leg next, then a finger. He tosses his sword overboard and salutes to the small gathering of people below. The blade in his arm gets rammed into Chaos’ stomach, severing his spine from the waist down. The portal is approaching quickly, and Chaos is still fighting. Black flames pour from his hands and mouth until they all but engulf them. As the threshold between the two worlds is crossed, Chaos can feel half of his mask being burned away, exposing his scarred face. Michael says a silent goodbye as the portal shuts, cutting off the back part of the ship and ceasing the spread of the black glass.


Connor and Alex watch the fight from afar, taking in each blow eagerly, like young children watching a wrestling match. Alex is the first to speak. “He’s been up there for a while. What if he doesn’t make it?”
“It’s Michael. He’ll make it. See, he’s got him pinned to the roof now.” When he sees the cyborg throw his sword away, followed by the silent salute, the mage’s heart sinks. “What is he doing?”
“Connor, don’t get involved.”
“No. I have to do something.” Connor runs forward and starts charging a spell up, but Alex is faster and holds him back. “If you go up there, you’ll die too. You’re staying.”
“I can’t just let him die!”
“We don’t have a choice!”
There’s a moment of stillness as the portal closes, and then Connor breaks down, almost crying. “No. No, no, NO, NO!” Something fragile snaps in Connor’s mind. Suddenly, a pair of spectral wings burst through his shoulder blades and carry him off across the Icelandic wilderness, grabbing Michael’s sword on the way.


“That could have gone better.” Nick and Sarah appear next to Alex, both of them covered in scrapes and bruises.
“What happened to you guys?”
“Death happened. Where’s Connor?”
“He freaked out when Michael and Chaos went through the portal and he grew some wings. Flew off to the east somewhere.”
“Good, he’s getting stronger. I’ll talk to him in a few days, in the meantime I have other business to deal with. The next step of this plan will begin within the next few months. I’ll let you know if your services are needed, Alex.”
“Sir, if you don’t mind, what exactly is all this about?”
“We’re going to find a better world, kid.” Nick smiles and the key he uses in place of a sword appears on his back. “I’ll be watching!” He plunges the key into the ground, and a set of stairs descending into the earth appear.

Alex stops him before he leaves. “So, are Michael and Chaos dead now, or what?”
Nick laughs a bit at the question. “Don’t you know by know, kid? Heroes never die.”


[So, to recap this incredibly long post:
Connor is somewhere in Iceland,
Jason lives in Hong Kong now,
Michael and Chaos are in hell,
There’s a small Field of Black Glass in Iceland,
The Field is surrounded by chunks of psychotium,
The Colossus has been destroyed,
Nick is planning something big,
All this is probably gonna piss off Dominic.]

 
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Dominic

Above the crumbling London skyline, the immortal looked down into the well-concealed entrance of the NUO lab. Even from his current height he could feel the suffering of the mutant as the scientists do their work, seeking a way to harness his energy in the same the monster Chaos had.

“Are you watching Victor? Makes you glad that you’re not alive to see this, doesn’t it,” he asks the sky before descending, a wave of his hand creating a fissure in the ground eighty feet wide, revealing the contents within. As he watches the scientists scurry about like cockroaches and the guards ready their weapons, oblivious to the death that floats down towards them, Dominic can’t help but recall the fateful meeting not so long ago.

Three weeks ago

He was consumed by his rage, and the Realm warped and screamed in pain from his loss of control. Moving through the fabric of reality he appears before Nick, still laughing at Alex’s question, and ensnares the Mindscape master’s neck in a vice-like grip, unleashes black lightning throughout his body and snarling like a beast.

“Explain yourself!”

 
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Nick remains calm and teleports out of Dominic’s grasp, sending Sarah and Alex back to the base. “There’s not much to explain. One of my agents told me that Chaos was going to open a hellhole here, which happened, and I sent my men in to deal with it. As you can see, it’s closed now, because of Michael. You see, this is why I didn’t tell you. You’re kind of freaking out right now, and then I might have had to bring the Sphinx in to calm you down. I don’t want to have to fight you with a giant stone lion, do you? Didn’t think so. I just think you’re mad that you and Michael are kind of on equal terms now.”

“Jokes aside, you might not have gotten here until the damage was already done. We managed to cut it off early, with minimal casualties. Frankly, I think you would have just stabbed everyone and been done with it.”

 
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[Aren’t we just timeskipping all over the place… Whatever.]

Frost

After a few moments, “Sakura’s” eyes snapped open. “Got it,” she grinned triumphantly.

“Did you now?” I raised an eyebrow, more than slightly surprised. She succeeded so easily where Cheryl’s clairvoyance once failed?

“You just have to know where to look,” she smirked, looking at the luciferite sword on her lap. “And you have to look deep.”

“And you are absolutely positive that this will work?” Hope creeped into my voice.

“Hey, I see the future,” she snarked. “Now then. You do know that this is supposed to be the heavenly counterpart of brimstone from Hell?” She gestured at the silvery white metal.

“…yes,” I replied, searching through my memories. Brimstone was often said to contain the will of the True King of Hell himself, but what about luciferite? Did it originate from the Upper Realm and derive its properties from the Phases of Light? Not even Lucius seemed to know.

“And have you seen any weapon made of pure brimstone?” She asked.

I frown in slight annoyance at her somewhat patronizing tone. “No. Black glass is too dangerous, and all weapons crafted from the hellish metal must be tempered beforehand.”

“Exactly. Now, this is a weapon made of luciferite, the counterpart of brimstone,” she gently caressed the silver blade. “Do you expect it to be pure luciferite?”

“I suppose not.” Truth to be told, I never bothered to consider the purity of the luciferite making up that blade. It was not like I would ever attempt to reforge the sword. “And your point is…?” I asked, patience only stretching a little thin.

“The metal in this sword isn’t pure, so the energy in it isn’t pure either,” she explained in a tone that suggested that she thought I should know this already. Huh, really; I honestly felt not much when I used my own life force to probe the energy stored in the metal. “To get the impure energy to work for you, your own energy has to be pure, otherwise the two energies don’t resonate. That’s why only a few people like your boss Lucius can use it.”

“And how am I going to use the blade with my own ‘impure’ energy?” As usual, I still could think of nothing.

“Isn’t it obvious?” She sighed. “If the metal isn’t pure, you make it pure! Then you won’t need your own energy to be pure to get it to respond!”

“See, this is why your presence is required,” I said, a little annoyed at her attitude. “I am not the one who sees the future. Now, how do I purify an almost indestructible metal?”

She sighed again, forcing me to push down my irritation. “Magic, of course!” The impatience of her original, waking persona seemed to be manifesting in her subconsciousness as well, albeit in a much more unpleasant fashion. “If you bombard the impure luciferite with as much of your Death magic as you possibly can, the impurities will be destroyed, and the pure luciferite remains because your magic shouldn’t be able to affect it.”

“As much magic as I possibly can, hmm?” I unsheathed the Heaven-Devouring Blade. “You may want to step back a bit.”

Fortunately, “Sakura” obeyed without question. Concentrating, I began to absorb the vast reserves of energy I stored in the Heaven-Devouring Blade. The pristine white color of the sword slowly darkened, turning gray. I began to feel the sword’s own energy drain pulling back, but I simply frowned and increased my own pull; I had never lost an energy tug-of-war against my weapon. The sword was pitch black now, a sheen of ice and water vapor coating it, for it was so depleted of energy that it even drained heat from the environment. In my body, I now held a massive amount of energy that I could barely contain.

Hissing, I threw the black blade away; it quickly began to absorb life energy from the grass, causing it to wither. I gathered all the energy I drained from the blade, and converted it all into a black mass of pure decay, pure death. No… I shouldn’t hold this for long, else I would lose control and devastate everything around me. Letting out an involuntary shout, I released the magic, sending the incredibly concentrated and potent black wave of destruction at the plain silvery blade lying on the ground.

For a few seconds, my black energy engulfed the luciferite. Then suddenly, a brilliant ray of cold white light cut through the dark torrent, cutting it apart like the sun rising through the night. Then it exploded into blinding radiance, forcing me to shield my eyes. Only through protecting and enhancing my eyes with life energy was I able to look at the now purified metal directly.

Before me was a white crystal of solid light, no larger than my palm. It was icy cold, in stark contrast with the scorching heat emitted by pure brimstone. I could sense that all surrounding energy was quickly being transformed, “purified”, into the luciferite’s own type of energy, including heat and the energy that held atoms together. Eventually it would reach an equilibrium, but by that time the entire area more than a meter around the crystal would be destroyed. Now, how do I touch this lump of pure luciferite? I did not think that any constructs made from my life energy could withstand such a powerful purification process.

“Stab it!” “Sakura” shouted.

Ah, of course! I quickly took hold of the blackened Heaven-Devouring Blade, wincing as it began to drain my life force. The adamantium, orichalcum, and magic in the sword should protect it from the harmful effects of pure luciferite. And the sword was currently so utterly devoid of energy that it would no doubt absorb the white crystal of pure energy into itself, and fuse with it. Then the resulting mixture would become less than pure, thus suppressing the harmful effects of pure luciferite… At least, that was what I hoped would happen. But I did not have time to dwell on such doubts. Stepping forward and letting out a hiss, I plunged the tip of my sword straight into the white crystal.

Just like that, the blinding white glow disappeared entirely. Where it was pitch black moments ago, the Heaven-Devouring Blade was once again pristine white. But this time, it possessed a silvery sheen as well, identical to that of luciferite. But most of all, I could sense the nigh unlimited energy stored in the blade, energy that I could extract only so much at once but would never truly run dry. I stared at my newly enhanced weapon in amazement.

“Well, did it work?” “Sakura” asked.

I wasn’t quite sure it did, but a simple test would not hurt. I remembered that while brimstone mostly strengthened mutant powers, luciferite mainly enhanced magic. Regardless, I was shocked by the massive energy blade, more than five meters in length, that erupted from the original sword with the insertion of my Death magic. In contrast with its previous black, the blade of Death energy was now pure white, a cold, harsh, icy white resembling a winter that led to the end of all that was alive. With a simple thought and gesture, the blade extended forward at lightning speed, narrowly avoiding “Sakura”, breaking down trees and all else it struck into frozen dust. Mentally screaming it to stop, I finally halted its advance using all of my willpower, dissipating the vastly destructive magical blade.

“Well, it certainly worked,” I sighed with relief, “albeit quite difficult to control…”

The next few minutes were spent experimenting with this new weapon. Like orichalcum, it now imbibed whatever form of energy I infused into it, but only the energy I generated. The energy it imbibed could be released, enhanced by the power of luciferite; waves and bolts of fire and lightning glowed intensely white as I released them into the sky. TThis was a powerful weapon indeed, but it would be long before I could control its power with efficiency.

“Do you want to know what I foresaw when we first met?” Later “Sakura” said, a devious glint in her red eyes. “My conscious self is going to wak up soon, so I might as well tell you when I still have the chance. Don’t worry, she won’t remember a thing…”

She was lying through her teeth. For the next several days Cheryl avoided meeting my gaze like the plague, as though she’d rather face Akayama Hikaru herself than discuss what transpired between us. In a way that made me relieved. Never had there been any creature before to shatter my composure so completely, making my name “Frost” sound like an utter joke…

 
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Dominic

“You should know better than that, Nicholas,” he says, bringing his power back under control and spearing the younger immortal with a look. “Don’t tell me you seriously thought I wasn’t aware of that idiot’s plan? Or that I wouldn’t have a strategy already in place? It’s not like I didn’t already have a bone to pick with him for shoving a sword into my chest… anyway, the fact of that matter is you’re not being entirely truthful. Why are you really here? You must’ve known I would come in like this, and that I can erase you from this Realm with just a twitch of my eyebrow, so what’s the point? And don’t go giving me the Cliffnotes version either, I want a full explanation or,” he says, trapping Nick in a nullification field that freezes him completely in place from the neck down, “I might become unreasonable again.”

 
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Lee
“You know what? It’d be much easier if we were out there looking. Looking for an NUO soldier that can point us in the right direction.”
“There are two bases that can plausibly be holding Andrus. Obviously there are much more in the country, but these two are the most likely to contain him. One of them is about three hours walk from here, but it’s small, and not very heavily guarded, and doesn’t contain a huge dungeon. The other one is two or three days walk, but it’s very heavily guarded, containing a massive prison underground. It could be either. The first one is the nearest, so is convenient for holding him. However, even if they did put him there, it would only be so that they can transport him to the other one. The other one is where all the high priority prisoners in this country go. They’re more likely to hold him there, but it’s quite far away.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I’ve been stationed in various different countries in various different countries. The big one was one of them, built about… ten, twenty years ago. The other is one of the oldest built bases, but it was small, back when the NUO weren’t so massive about… I dunno, two hundred years ago, something like that? Anyway, they’re the two most likely. However, it’s also likely that they might have taken him to another country.”
“So what should we do?”

 
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“I take it you’re familiar with the multiverse theory? That there are any number of worlds parallel to our own?” Nick sees that Dominic Is getting impatient, and a holographic diagram appears behind him of two circles connected at a single point, with each one holding an image of a mace. “More to my point, a long time ago, specifically while we were still back in Ather City, one of those worlds managed to rip open a portal between their worlds and ours. The portal has since closed, but I believe that I’ve found a way to get back. When Michael returns with his morningstar, I’m going to link it with another, similar weapon over there, thus re-establishing the link.” Dominic probably can’t take much more of the lecture. “Short version, I’m leaving, Dominic. My informant tells me that the world will end soon, and I have work to do before that happens. I can’t do that here, so I’m taking Sarah and Michael so we can preserve at least part of our world. Speaking of which, there’s a few things that I still need to do that paralysis surprisingly hinders.”

 
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Dominic

Another wave of his hand dispels the paralysis and he frowns in thought.

“So even the mighty Nick Keyes knows better than to stay on a sinking ship. Fine, go and do what you must. I won’t interfere so long as you don’t accelerate the cosmic schedule anymore than that idiot Lucius has,” he says and holds out his hand. “Massive pain in my ass that you are, I’m glad you have a way out. Apocalypses are not pretty, and this one is going to make Ather City look like a Sesame Street special.”

 
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Nick
“Yeah, I know. Laplace could at least see the last one, but this time he’s blind to whatever event causes it.” Nick starts to walk away, but stops after ten feet. “And I’m coming back. Even I know that I can’t live forever. And frankly, I don’t want to.”

 
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Dominic

“That’s one of the smartest things I’ve heard you say in centuries, Nicky.” An air of solemnity comes over the immortal as he unties the adamantium blade from his waist and presents it. “Use it as a deterrent. Don’t ever let the universe to come end like this one.” The weapon floats towards its new owner’s outstretched hands, resting comfortably. Dominic is already gone, vanishing into a wisp of smoke without a sound.

 
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Nick weighs the blade in his hands before sheathing it in a scabbard which formed between his wings. “One down, six to go.” He vanishes in a flash, leaving the field as empty as his former home.

 
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[So you two have made it public already? All right, I’ll wrap some things up here.]

[This is a combined post with all of my characters that are currently alive.]



Three weeks ago

So you return, elemental…” The keeper of Aokigahara whispers in a chilling, ghostly voice. “Here to be absorbed into my reservoir once more…?

Aether gazes at the faceless shrine maiden clad in funeral white, and laughs bitterly. “I am a mistake,” he says as his humanoid body of bluish white light continues to dissolve into the Sea of Trees. “I should not have existed. Now is the time for this mistake to be corrected.

You…” The keeper remembers all too well. “YOU! VICTOR FIELDSTONE!” She lets out a blood-curdling scream, containing the wails of thousands of lost souls. Unable to control her raging emotions and powers, the keeper’s energy lashes out as massive waves of eerie, ghostly off-white energy, myriads of tortured faces forming from the malevolent magic every second only to dissolve away an instant later.

Aether does not attempt to dodge or block; he simply allows the magic to rip into him. The memories are clear as day now. By defeating one of the guardians of this place, Victor Fieldstone obtained magic in an attempt to purge himself of the bloodsteel infection, but that simply transformed the corruptive properties of the extraterrestrial supermetal into the effect of his Self magic. Despite having been born from the reverse usage of bloodsteel magic, Aether is still an abomination, one that should not exist lest he brings harm and ruin onto any more unfortunate souls. So he ignores the excruciating pain, and allows himself to be torn apart.

Master! Why are you not defending yourself?! Psyche hisses frantically into Aether’s mind.

Aether does not answer. Why should he, when he will be no more within moments?

You brought me into existence! The psionic elemental begins to panic. If you disappear, then I will too!

Sadness and guilt flash in Aether’s mind, but he chooses to do nothing. Like him, Psyche is one that should not have existed.

I want to live! Psyche screams. But they’re almost gone now, only a thread of power preventing their individuality from melding into that of Aokigahara. Having no other choice, Psyche unleashes all of her remaining power and breaks into the depths of Aether’s mind…



One week later

Akayama Hikaru frowns. “The magic in this place… has changed,” he murmurs more to himself than to any of his guards. The guards say nothing, almost afraid to break the ominous silence that permeates the forest.

Kyomura Genkage glances at his newly fitted bloodsteel arm; the red metallic prosthesis seems to be strangely resonating with the magic of this place. He briefly wonders why the Great Commander has brought them here at all; the clairvoyant man hardly requires protection from anyone weaker than him. But his train of thought is suddenly interrupted by the ferocious roar of an oni, a Japanese ogre, with several meters in height of bulging muscles, fiery red skin, and razor-sharp tusks.

The ogre roars once again and strikes, breathing forth a torrent of scorching flames. But before it even began its assault a barrier of crimson and white energy already springs forth, effortlessly blocking the blast of fire; whatever magic that fuels the flames is quickly absorbed into the shield. Genkage shudders as he recalls the victims’ screams when the Great Commander first tested his new power.

Another ogre appears, identical save for its icy blue skin, breathing ice and snow that can instantly free a human solid. Again Genkage questions the necessity of his presence, as the attack is blocked once again by Hikaru’s barrier that extends to cover the other direction as well. A third ogre appears, this one electric yellow. But before it can even unleash its lightning attack, Hikaru has already formed the appropriate hand seals. “Seirei no Jutsu: Amaterasu Oukami.
[“Holy Spirit Technique: Heaven Illumination King God.”]

Bolts of red and white lightning, impossibly bright, burst from Hikaru to strike all three ogres simultaneously. Flames engulf and consume their bodies within moments, until all that is left of them are red crystals that glow the color of blood.

Hikaru glances around the Sea of Trees with his crimson eyes. “Sending your guardians to greet me, keeper? How rude! You should welcome a guest of my status with your own presence!

As in answering the Great Commander’s taunt, the keeper materializes from the ambient mana in the air, a faceless shrine maiden clad in a pristine white funeral robe stained with fresh blood. “Akayama Hikaru,” she whispers, though there seems to be a faint double voice behind her own, simultaneously resembling metal and flesh. “Here to take my power again…?

I may have failed before, but this time I foresee my own success!” Hikaru sneers. Wrapping his fingers around the katana strapped to his back, the Great Commander unsheathes it with a single elegant motion, revealing a blade forged from glowing red crystal. “Akachigane… Hakushintetsu… I have deciphered the properties of these two metals. With their combined power, your magic will be mine for the taking!
[The phrases mean “red blood steel” and “white god iron”, referring to bloodsteel and luciferite respectively.]

Oh, really…? But too bad…” A twisted, deformed face begins to appear on the shrine maiden’s otherwise blank visage. “BECAUSE THIS POWER IS ALREADY TAKEN!” Rather than the usual sorrowful, soul-wrenching cries and wails, the keeper instead breaks into maniacal laughter that resembles a fleshy squelching sound and at the same time steel grating against steel. Her robe falls away entirely, physical body breaking apart, until all that is left of her is a humanoid shape of blood-red light, crimson electricity arcing around the body like veins of blood.

Hikaru’s eyes widen in utter shock. It happens so rarely that he has not experienced one instance in years, but this time the Great Commander’s clairvoyance has utterly failed him. The bark and leaves of the trees themselves peel away, revealing pulsating red organic metal underneath. As he leaps to the air, a spike of red metal erupts from the ground, striking the next nearest target. Genkage blocks with a bloodsteel arm of his own, but the two quickly link and fuse; he then screams as the arm escapes his control and inserts veins into his body, rapidly turning human flesh into more bloodsteel. Within seconds, all has perished save for Hikaru himself.

Hikaru stares at the scene before him, shuddering in a mixture of fear and excitement that he has not felt for a long time. “I know not what you are, but I will claim the power of this place!” With a snarl the Great Commander releases full power, the crystalline red sword exploding into a massive blade of blinding red light that cuts into the figure before him…

[I have to split this post in two, otherwise textile will break.]

 
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Two weeks later

There has rarely been anything to instil despair into Wu Shuang’s mind, rarer still when said thing is an opponent in battle. But the swordsman has never anticipated that the final battle will arrive so soon. Akayama Hikaru stands before Frost, the unhinged look and crazed glint in his red eyes unnerving Frost more than any hideous abomination the swordsman has previously seen. But the thing that truly afflicts Frost with terror and despair is Hikaru’s sheer overwhelming power. He has never imagined that his final opponent is this powerful! Cheryl is now safely hidden inside his Mindscape, protected from the cataclysmic battle that is sure to come, but Frost himself has nowhere to hide.

“You cannot hope to win, Wu Shuang, for the entirety of Aokigahara’s magic is contained within me!” Hikaru speaks, the sounds of rending steel and flesh behind his voice. “Before I crush you like the insignificant insect you are, give me the Juuchiyosamu and Shitianren. With them, I will be complete!”
[First name is Ten Thousand Cold Nights, second is Heaven-Devouring Blade.]

No… Even the luciferite energy within the Heaven-Devouring Blade will not be enough. He has no other choice. Cheryl, give me the Juuchiyosamu, he speaks to her in his Mindscape.

All right… Cheryl can say nothing more. Good luck.

Gripping the demonic sword tightly in his hands, Frost pulls out the steely gray blade. For an instant, he feels a stab of pain shoot up his arm.

He can feel it, a seething mass of hatred and malevolence given metaphysical form by the energy of bloodsteel, infernal power, and dark magic. The mass screeches and extends tendrils of its presence toward Frost’s mental avatar, but he blocks it with a barrier of bluish white energy. It has some arrogance to think that it can best Frost in his own mind! Heavy chains of icy energy materialize to tightly bind the entity to what appears as the ground. He knows that taking in this energy will change him, but he has no other choice. Teeth gritted, Frost reaches out to grasp the creature’s incorporeal form, draining its energy into himself.

Frost’s eyes snap open. Holding each blade with one hand, both the Heaven-Devouring Blade and Ten Thousand Cold Nights break down into shards and threads of metal. The ordinary iron in both swords fall away, while the remains intertwine to fuse and meld into a single weapon. Adamantium, brimstone, luciferite, orichalcum, bloodsteel; with all five supermetals contained and merged within it, Frost grasps the newly forged weapon. Blue. Red. White. Black. Life. Death. Light. Darkness. Heaven. Hell. It all swirls around him, a maelstrom of opposites that blends perfectly into a whole, a continuous cycle.

Hikaru’s eyes widen. Then he snarls. Strands of psionic energy links Cheryl’s consciousness to Frost’s Mindscape; her clairvoyance already shows him what Hikaru’s broken mind plans to do. “Seirei no Kinjutsu: Chiiro Tensai!
[“Holy Spirit Forbidden Technique: Blood-Colored Heavenly Calamity!”]

It seems that this will be decided in one blow. Summoning every last drop of strength, life force, magic, infernal power, both Cheryl’s and his own, Frost focuses it all into the technique that forms in his mind at this precise moment. “霜天剑法 – 终奥义: 逆转天地! Frosted Sky Sword Technique – Final Ultimate Attack: Reversal of Heaven and Earth!

Their ultimate attacks collide. Like a red giant, Hikaru’s explosion of bloodsteel magic expands outwards, and meets Frost’s multicolored yin-yang that continuously merges and splits between two energy blades and one to shred apart anything in its way. Even from inside the Mindscape Cheryl can feel the sheer magnitude of the powers now smashing against each other. Both combatants are simply refusing to yield, pushing their energies together that will eventually produce an explosion that consumes all.

No! Stop! Cheryl suddenly shouts. Or you’ll die! I want you to live, Wu Shuang!

The desire for survival fills Frost’s mind; victory will be meaningless if Cheryl and him are not alive to enjoy it. But the end is nigh. How can he escape, when the rush of power will consume them both?

Your Mindscape! Cheryl continues to shout. Get yourself in here!

Frost knows that it is impossible for himself to enter his own Mindscape. But he trusts Cheryl fully. Hell, the girl sees the future! For an instant, he panics, for he has no more power left, but then he remembers the life energy stored inside Wu Ming’s reanimated corpse. Absorbing the last bits of that energy, Frost tears the fabric of space asunder and enters a place he is never meant to enter. Wu Ming’s body takes his place, an instant before the explosion obliterates Hikaru and everything else around him.

The fabric of reality splits open. Frost and Cheryl fall out, both utterly exhausted. They seem to have been teleported to another place in the world entirely, a sandy beach with waves splashing gently reaching just under their feet. Everything else stored in Frost’s Mindscape, including his newly forged blade, seem to be intact. But more importantly, they are both alive. Cheryl presses her lips fiercely against Frost’s, then wraps her arms tightly around him. After finally releasing each other, both are at a loss for words; thus they simply cry and laugh into each other’s embrace. They have survived.


[Okay, I’m done. Like, really done. There is nothing else I need or want to post. I hope the bit with Frost and Cheryl doesn’t interfere with your ending, Gambi; they’re still somewhere in the Atherverse instead of where you planned to send them. That’s for you to write, not me.]

 
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4: Tela.
Tela: Yes?
4: Your reports claimed the meddler group is severely weakened now.
Tela: Yes.
2: We’ve come to finish it off!
4: Personally.
5: I hope they drop some good loot…
Tela: Acknowledged.

A clearing near Jack’s shack takes a hard hit as a man’s body slams into its surface at terminal velocity. The man picks himself up and stands, despite his legs being in an awful state – then, with a flail of his arms, his injuries mostly disappear, as does the recent damage to his clothing.
The person revealed looks Indian with his brown skin and black hair. He wears a naval uniform in a decidedly bad shape – it’s all torn up, revealing deep scars of the flesh.
Almost immediately after him, a stunningly beautiful woman just appears right out of thin air.
“We’re here, Tela. Show yourself.” the man commands. The blue comet flies out of a bush and comes to a stop, revealing the assassin.
“You failed, Tela!” the woman remarks.
“If we didn’t need all force we can get, you’d be executed as an example to the others. However, you’re still useful.”
“I’d still execute her, ’tap.”
“No. Tela, lead us to the meddler group. They can not live.”
During the conversation, two more people appeared, much less pretty than the other ones. One of them could probably be a woman – however, her looks are more similar to a sizable pile of clothes – only a bit of observation reveals that the clothes are all worn. Two gloved hands keep moving from pocket to pocket, patting them and checking if their numerous contents are still in place. Their schedule is long, as the amount of pockets can be counted in dozens – and you could run out of fingers counting. The only exposed part of the body is the head, revealing the face of a negroid female, chewing on some chicken bit, and a lot of red hair framing it.
One of the hands takes a break from checking the pockets to readjust the wig, which has slid out of place a bit.
The other person is most definitely even heavier than the seven-foot woman with a huge assortment of loaded pockets. However, his weight comes from the normal source – he’s just fat. His clothing is simple, consisting of a black shirt and matching dress pants, as well as a tie. Much like the other woman, he lacks hair on his head, or a definable neck.
One of his pudgy hands keeps dancing on the controls of some kind of a hovercraft the two arrived on from their plane above – the other keeps throwing nondescript pieces of grilled chicken into his mouth.
Suddenly, a voice booms out from behind all four.
“You’re not leaving me behind.”
The voice was a simple statement. And a demand.
The four turn to see an incredibly muscular and handsome white male in a military uniform behind them.
“Of course we aren’t, Nick.” says the Indian man, then the five follow Tela.

After a few minutes, the woman opens both the front door and the back door of the hut with a single Comet. Four of the five newcomers step into vision from behind cover, surrounding the area.

 
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Lucinda
The sudden destruction of our temporary haven is shocking.
…I wanted to go back to Mare sur Mare, actually. But… with her on our tail… I’d just have endangered my parents.
Looking out of the hole in the wall, I see there is not only the assassin – but rather four more people as well. And they’re most likely not any worse than she is.
What to do what to do-
“Get in!” I yell as I stretch out one of the bags of holding, then, not waiting for a response, stuff Lee, Weed and Solaris inside anyway. Amy and Conglacior follow up. The bag, aside from starting to weigh a few hundred kilograms, looks not any worse for wear. Ah, magic.
With a zap of a wand of teleportation, it’s gone – sent to some place in the radius of kilometers away. Now they’re safe, at least. Time to make myself safe – simply by shooting through the roof, several wands at hand.
As soon as I do, some force starts pulling at me – or, actually, not at me. It’s pulling at my items. Which I have lots of. Only my old threadbare dress, which I’m wearing, resists the influence. The force is stronger than what I can do now, and I’m slammed into the ground painfully.
“Why is there only one of them?” I hear a male. “How could they get away?”
“Why were you so easy?” I hear a female. “Good loot!”
My gear flies off me. I follow it with my sight, and it lands in the arms of some heavily ragamuffin woman. Before I can see anything else, though, a man jumps on top of me. His fingers dig deeply into me. His breath actually smells quite pleasant.
“You will not survive.” he says, then starts clawing. Flesh flies – both his own and mine. Actually, with his fingers reduced to bare bones, the clawing is surprisingly more efficient- but I shouldn’t be making such observations at this time. I try to repel him the best I can, but my force is insufficient – he’s holding me tightly. I’m suppressed.
“Leave some for me!” I think I hear through the pain, and a major jolt of electricity courses through my body – somehow, it even lingers in the nerves, which keep… screaming.
I’ve protected the others. For now. If those people only knew where we are because of the assassin, then they’ve lost the rest…
I’d say I gave my last breath, but it was more like ‘my lungs and heart were torn out once my ribcage gave way’.

 
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Solaris Embarta
I crawl out of the bag, unsure of what exactly just happened. I think that girl from earlier tried to get us… then…
‘…guuuuys, where’s Lucinda?’

 
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Lee
I scramble out of the bag, looking around for Lucinda. Something happened back there, and some people burst through the doors. There were four people… crap. No, we can’t lose one more. It can’t happen. NONONNONONONO!NOOOO!” I fall to the ground and start crying. I don’t know where we are, where we need to go or what we’re going to do.

Amy
Being stuffed inside a bag isn’t exactly fun. But still, better than being assassinated. I climb out of the bag, and look around. “More importantly, where are we?”

 
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Solaris Embarta
Instinctively, I scramble over to Lee and hug him, simultaneously feeling that I’m utterly failing in what the woman from before told us to do (and I can’t even remember her name, damn it!). We can’t lose hope, not now…
‘…I think we’re still somewhat close to where we were previously. I think I can still see the city over there…’
I point to the appropriate location, where it does appear that the ruins are still visible.

 
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Present Day
Nick and Sarah stand at the edge of the Field of Black Glass, waiting. Nick has two portal cubes suspended from a bee pendant hanging from his neck. Sarah’s wounds have healed and her hair has started to grow back. She’s clearly a nervous wreck. “Where is he? You said he’d be here by now.”
“Wait for it…” Nick holds up one finger and points at the empty space ten feet away. A rip opens in midair and a large man steps out, carrying with him the mask of the man he died fighting and the weapon he wielded so long ago. It was Michael, but something was off about him. His blond hair was streaked with black, and his eyes were glowing. “Anyone miss me?” He barely has time to finish his sentence before Sarah runs up to him and punches him to the ground, knocking the mace from his hand. “Jeez, Sarah! What the hell?”
“What the hell were you thinking, just dropping into an open hellhole like that?”
“Nick needs the morningstar for his dimension-hopping bullshit!”
“You should have let me go like we planned!”
By now, Sarah is punctuating each word with another strike, which Michael strangely doesn’t return or even try to block. Nick manages to drag her away from him so he can talk to his friend. “What’s with the new look?”
“Side effects of holding this thing again.” Michael spins the morningstar in his hand before giving it to Nick. “I’m gonna want that back, you know.”
“Of course.” Nick takes the morningstar and it transforms into a sizable wrench with a wedge on one end. He drives it into the ground and sits next to it, hovering slightly in the air. After a few minutes, his eyes snap open and he draws a circle in the air with the mace. “Time Tunnel.” The circle emits a blinding light, and on the other side of the newly-formed portal is a staff embedded in the ground with a tip resembling a mechanical claw. Nick steps through and beckons Michael and Sarah inside. “Come on! We don’t have forever on this side!” They step through, and the portal seals.


Approximately five seconds later, another portal opens in the same spot. Nick steps out, wearing black jeans and a yellow t-shirt. He has two giant keys crossed over his back, one black, the other a dingy gold. Sarah climbs out of the portal after him, dragging an unconscious Michael behind her. By now her hair is even longer than before it got burned off. “Well, that went well.”
“Of course it did. Everything worked out in the end, didn’t it?” He takes the keys off his back and fits them together like the pieces of a puzzle. The single key takes on a bronzy hue and pulsates with energy. “We’re using you as the medium, right?”
“Yeah. It’s not like I can use that thing anyway.”
“Works for me.” Nicks lifts up her sleeve to reveal a tattoo in the shape of a padlock. He presses the end of the key against it and it sinks into Sarah’s arm. Her eyes and mouth glow before fading away. “Got it. Does Michael need to be awake for this?”
“I’m fine, just do it.”
“Okay, okay. Just don’t know what would happen if you were asleep.”
Nick interjects. “Hey lovebirds. Not much time left, I’d like to die on my own terms.”
Sarah stands up and places her hands on Nick’s and Michael’s shoulders. “Ascension.” There is a blinding silver light, and the three of them are gone after it fades.

 
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[Final Legion post right here.]

Legion
We have annihilated multiple cities by now. Our power is… great. And yet… we still desire more.
It is time for our assault on the Council of Magi’s headquarters.
Having travelled to the appropriate location, we observe the motions of the figures below us for a time. Worthless beings, these, and corrupted by the same soul as I previously expelled from my body… we shall consume all of them. We bring ourselves into existences with a crackle of energy, drawing the attention of all faces in the crowds. Multiple emotions are seen… curiously, though, many faces remain unperturbed. We will change that.
You final moments have come, mortals. Perish.
Our assault begins. In the first second, we take in a large number of souls…
In the next, far, far fewer.
Curious… they wield a level of team co-operation that we have had yet to observe, each shielding the other in a group effort. Almost like an army…
…their attacks are even starting to wear us down. The only one to do that before was the elemental of change and corruption, Aether. And yet the sheer firepower exuded by the horde before us is enough to do precisely the same.
…was this a bad idea?
…no. We can defeat them easily enough, given time. They will all fall shortly.
Suddenly, a new combatant. One who…
…no.
…but alas, our eyes are not mistaken – one who wields magic that is seemingly capable of emulating all of the natural elements of magic witnessed by us thus far. And yet their power is not equal to four minor magics, but four major magics – almost as though they held within their grasp every natural element. We have yet to witness such a feat… but if they have managed it, then we are in for a larger fight than previously-
Suddenly, a stray bolt strikes us through our defenses. And all of a sudden, we are at the mercy of hundreds of bolts of magical energy, barely held off by our power, but leaving us incapable of retaliation.
It appears, then, that we are doomed. They will wear us down sooner or later… then we will be annihilated, and returned to the magical stream, never to know our true potential.
…no. If we are to leave this existence, we shall leave on our own terms.
And we shall take every last one of these pathetic beings with us, if possible.



Narrator View
The elemental known as Legion begins to glow with an overwhelming cyan light, far brighter than the usual electrical crackle that surrounds it, and enough to at least temporarily blind many of the closest magi. The furthest are undeterred, but less capable of aiming than before; whether their attacks actually meet their target, they are unsure.
And then the glow expands rapidly.
The closest magi and buildings are instantly annihilated in the self-destructive sphere of densely-packed magic and souls, and a good proportion of the remainder are not far behind. Those further away begin to run, but most are rapidly broken down into their constituent elements by the crushing force of the blast. Only one stands their ground – the manipulator of all four natural elements. Thinking quickly, they form a powerful shield of every natural element – a thick wall of Earth saturated with Water magic, surrounded by a storm of Fire further agitated by a barrier of Air.
Contact with the sphere that has obliterated everything else results in an immense power struggle at that point – at first, the sphere wears away at the barrier with ease, but as it continues to expand, its force begins to abate as the magic and souls lose density.
Slowly, the tetra-elemental mage pushes the wall of death back from their form.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the magic of Legion dissipates back into the natural magic of the area, finally freeing the souls from their enslavement to its service.
What remains of the facility is little more than a crater, glowing a faint cyan-ish colour as the remnants of magic cling to the soil, and the dust of mage and building alike that coats it.
The last mage in the area observes the destruction calmly for a while.
Then, for minutes afterwards, her screams of anguish shake the very skies for miles around.

 
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Lee
I look to where Solaris is pointing. My eyes are blurry with tears, but I can just see the city. Only just. There’s no way we can make it there before Lucin- A sudden thought hits me, which makes me cry even more. Jack. He’s there as well… no. NO. No more death. NO MORE. I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE!
Amy breaks the silence. “Look, if we’re fast enough, we ca-”
“We both know that’s not going to happen. We can’t save Lucinda, or Jack.”
“Don’t say tha-”
“Why? Does the truth hurt too much?”

 
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Solaris Embarta
‘Wait… Jack?’
…oh God, no…
‘No… NOOO!’
I collapse on the ground myself, shuddering violently as I cry. No… no… it’s not fair… we just saved him, and now he’s… oh, God, why…