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Twilight of the Gods: A Metahuman RP (IC)

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Nagakawa
Diplomat
 
Posts: 718
Founded: May 01, 2019
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Nagakawa » Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:29 pm

BEIJING
The Conference of Greater East Asia
Forbidden City


Lei Tjin-fei had kept a low profile during the opening ceremony of the inaugural gathering of the Conference, as had Junya Higuchi, the official representative of the ailing Toyonari Hikawa, Lord of Japan. Neither had wanted to draw too much attention to themselves before the actual talks began (although Lei's gaudy taste in suits did serve to be slightly counterproductive in that regard), and as the banquets began, with both men having spoken to their contacts more than enough in the day preceding the official convocation of the Conference, it wasn't likely to change.

On his part, Higuchi had avoided the banquet entirely, bringing his men with him to an empty room in the Forbidden City, where he closed the doors and opened a video call with Tokyo, only to find that someone else other than Toyonari Hikawa awaited him.

"Lord Ashihara. I did not expect to see you still in Tokyo."

"Lord Hikawa is not well, you see." On the other end, Kunikazu Ashihara the Subordinate Lord of Hokkaido sat in what looked like a billiards room of sorts, dressed in a bathhouse yukata and sipping from a small carton of calcium-enriched milk. "I took it upon myself to come down to Tokyo to ensure that he is getting the care he needs."

Higuchi scowled. Ashihara was not a man who was known for his subtlety.

"And, of course, to make sure that snakes like Shimon Urayama don't get to do as they please", Ashihara added nonchalantly.

"Is Lord Urayama not in Sendai right now?" Higuchi asked.

"He is", said Ashihara. "But his spies are everywhere. His tentacles run deep. And if you want to be rid of him, Higuchi, you are going to need my help."

Higuchi raised an eyebrow.

"Listen very carefully, Higuchi", said Ashihara. He hushed his voice and leaned closer to the camera, sucking the remainder of the calcium-enriched milk out of the little carton. "Nagako Hikawa has just left Otsu City. The person bringing her over to Sendai is a man by the name of Nobuhiro Kawajiri, who is one of Urayama's most trusted secretaries..."

"Where are you going with this, Lord Ashihara?" Higuchi interjected.

"I haven't got the authority to kill Kawajiri outright", Ashihara continued, ignoring Higuchi's interruption, "but I can arrange for his convoy to run into trouble when it makes a stop in Yokohama on its way up north to Sendai. I know it is within your interest to make sure Urayama never gets to meet Nagako. If you are willing to cooperate with me, I can not only help you to get Nagako back to Otsu, but I can also make sure Urayama never gets to use the letters he collected on you."

"Are you suggesting we-"

"Nothing of the sort, Higuchi", said Ashihara with a cruel smile. "Though given how annoying that rat-faced bastard is, it's not entirely off the cards for me, as far as my plans for the future are concerned."

"Lord Ashihara, you know I can't accept killing Lord Urayama", Higuchi protested. "He was given his appointment by Lord Hikawa himself. Killing him would be tantamount to spitting in Lord Hikawa's face."

"Your idealism is your downfall, Higuchi. But I can live with it, nonetheless. If you can help me with one small favour while you're in Beijing, I can help to arrange things such that Urayama will be forced to reconsider his play for the throne."

"Does Lord Nagatomi know about this?" Higuchi inquired.

"He is on our side", said Ashihara, "as long as we can guarantee that Urayama's advisory councils are permanently removed from his headquarters in Matsuyama. With the advisory councils gone, Urayama will no longer have any recourse to peer into our courts. That is his one and only trump card. Without it, he is nothing, and it will not be difficult to have him replaced with someone more pliant and less openly insubordinate."

Higuchi nodded.

"I am willing to join you to move against Urayama, on one condition", he said. "I want you to guarantee that Lord Nagatomi is in on this as well. I will not accept a potential 2-on-2 scenario. It will plunge Japan into civil war."

"You can call Nagatomi yourself, if it means anything", said Ashihara. "But rest assured, he is on our side."

"That settles it then." With nothing else to say, Higuchi stood back up and straightened out his kimono- a formal piece, dyed a regal black colour, his daisho set by his side. "Thank you for your time, Lord Ashihara."

"Wait. I haven't told you what my favour was."

"What is it, Lord Ashihara?" Higuchi stopped in his tracks.

"The Dagestani mafia are sending a representative to the Conference of East Asia", said Ashihara. "His name is Saygid Khalimbekov, and he is second-in-command to Khalid Magomedov. I want that man dead, with as little fuss as possible."

...

Elsewhere in the Forbidden City

At the banquet, Lei Tjin-fei (who stood out rather prominently thanks to his bright golden-embroidered suit and his large and muscle-bound figure, was approached by an Avar man in a more understated business suit, accompanied by two men who both wore silicone horse masks.

"Lei Tjin-fei", said the unmasked man who stood flanked by the horse-masked men, speaking in fluent English. "I am Saygid Khalilovich Khalimbekov, representative of Khalid Magomedov, leader of the Dagestani Mafia."

"Good afternoon to you, Saygid Khalilovich." Lei Tjin-fei shook the man's hand, standing tall and puffing his chest out. He was at least one full head taller than Saygid Khalimbekov.

"I understand that you wished to speak to Mr Magomedov", said Saygid. "However, as things are, he is unfortunately unable to attend the Conference in person."

"Like Toyonari Hikawa?" Lei joked dryly.

"Yes", said Saygid, nodding stoically. "Although for very different reasons. While Hikawa is ailing in hospital, Mr Magomedov is, rather, occupied with certain matters."

"Such as?"

"Such as the problem of your various territorial disputes, for example", Saygid asked.

Lei smirked.

"Could we find a safer place to speak?" Saygid added.

"No", Lei replied sharply. "Here is fine."

"We are all but certain to be overheard if we do so", said Saygid.

"That is of no concern to me", said Lei Tjin-fei. "Everything that we are going to speak of is public information for those who wish to know what it is about."

Saygid Khalimbekov chuckled.

"Pray tell, Saygid Khalilovich", Lei continued. "What are your thoughts as to our borders with the South Han? What is it that bothers the Dagestani mafia?"

"It is in the interest of Mr Magomedov that any conflict that breaks out between you and Lady Gao of the South Han
or you and Lord Hikawa of Japan is prevented, as much as possible", said Saygid. "However, I am of a slightly different opinion. I, for one, am not interested in the breaking out of conflict. What I am interested in is for any conflict that will inevitably break out in the region be used to shift the balance of power in a manner that is favorable for stability in East Asia."

"What does that entail, then?" Lei asked.

"At present, it is too early to say", said Saygid. "At present, I am speaking to the various actors relevant to this topic to make sure we are all on the same page. Shimon Urayama, the Lord of North Honshu, is in agreement on this matter. If a war is to break out, it must be influenced to end in a way that can ensure the greatest and longest-living stability."

"And how sure are you that a war is going to break out?" Lei probed.

"You have been planning a war with Lord Hikawa for years", said Saygid. "Lord Hikawa, too, wants to take back Kyushu eventually, and is willing to go to war over it when the time is right. Of the four Subordinate Lords of Japan, Shimon Urayama and Kunikazu Ashihara are both in favour of taking back Kyushu by force. And to your south, Lady Gao is a wild card. She acts entirely according to her own whims. She is a rabid animal."

"It is not in my interest to start a war", said Lei, his yellow eyes darkening.

"But if a war starts", said Saygid, "it will be in your interest to end it quickly and decisively."

Lei smiled, as if affirmatively.

"So you will take me up on the offer?" Saygid, again, asked. "The one we spoke of over the phone, while you were flying here?"

"Let's talk about it later, after the Conference has ended", said Lei Tjin-fei. "I expect I shall be better able to give you an answer once we have sorted those other matters out first."

...
.____________永 河 帝 國____________.
.____________自 他 共 栄____________.

Population: 89 million (2020)
Landmass: 328,036 km²
Capital: Inada
Most populous city: Rushima
Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Monarch: Tomohito
Prime Minister: Hideyoshi Kaburagi (Republican)
Chief Justice: Hideki Motobu
GDP (PPP): $4.917 trillion
HDI: 0.902 (very high)
Currency: Nagakawan yen (¥)
Internet TLD: .nk
Country code: NGK
Driving side: left
Call code: +133
National flower: Paulownia fortunei
National bird: Red-crowned crane
National sport: Judo

—___盾 鎧 斬 機 ● 疾 破 轟 喰___—
.._..Behold the power of the Monado!.._..

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Menschenfleisch
Diplomat
 
Posts: 695
Founded: Nov 01, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Menschenfleisch » Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:55 am

Evelyn S. Retherford | An intermission within the collaboration between Menschenfleisch, Nagakawa and Wysten | Section 2.5 of 3

28th of April, 7:27am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland
Loop 87, 6:09:55


Two motorcycles screamed through Bristol’s streets. Their vulcanised tyres smoked and their exhaust pipes spewed a dense, ashen smoke. The city blew past them: grainy air, tarps put out beneath a sodden sky, posters hung up on walls in years past and never taken down. People moved to the sides of the alleys in order to allow them passage. They gave them dirty stares. Cesarino’s robe, Evelyn’s crisp suit, Santiago’s military uniform. The noble, the rich, the armed, the people who’d taken this city and forced its face into the mud. Nonetheless, the crowds parted. Cesarino clung to Evelyn’s back, rubbing himself against her like a child nuzzling its mother. She trailed blood, black-red rivulets running down her shins. The wind nipped at her burning flesh, pulling up loose skin like a nailclipper’s blade sliding below a hangnail. Her throat was thick with concrete dust. Cesarino whimpered, a puppy in distress. From a grown man, that noise was perverse.

They drove until they were miles distant from the compound, the rising smoke and thunder of large guns concealed by the horizon. They pulled up outside a warehouse in one of the most derelict parts of the city, where Cesarino’s men were waiting for them. Scraps of seared metal lay in the streets, the remains of detonated ordnance. There were still warning pamphlets and bullet casings in the gutter, buried under a layer of bloody slime. Nobody lived there - there hadn’t even been an attempt to reclaim the ruins. Like desert beasts around aquifers, the people of Bristol swarmed the places where there was sustenance and shunned the city blocks where there weren’t; it was how the city managed to be simultaneously overcrowded and underpopulated. As soon as Evelyn put her foot to the concrete, Cesarino staggered off the bike and arched his back, howling as he rubbed his tailbone. “Fuck my ass! What was that riding, whore?” He abruptly whirled around and clamped his arms around her waist, pinning her elbows to her torso and pulling her into a crushing, turgid embrace. He violently clasped her hair in one hand and leaned in for what might’ve been a kiss if she hadn’t gone limp, causing his lips to awkwardly brush against hers. His patchy beard abraded her chin. “God damn you are useful. I think I’m going to keep you, yeah? Santiago, how much.” His chief bodyguard took the man by the shoulder and pulled him off Evelyn, guiding him by the shoulder toward the entrance to the warehouse. “She negotiates her own prices. Get inside, you need protection.” He obliged, though not before smirking and lowering his head. “She’ll give us a good price. All of my bitches do.”

Cesarino’s safe house was built to be discreet. There were tarps over the windows and locks on every door. Huge rectangles of soundproof foam were secured to the wall, driven into the concrete with steel bolts and pegs. The building was maybe only a little larger than a suburban home; it had two storeys, although the second was more of a balcony overlooking the rest of the foyer. It was furnished with cars, shelves of tools and gasoline, maps of the surrounding area, a router setup beneath an awning, et cetera. Between it all, couches and gaming consoles. The men cleared out as soon as they saw Santiago, taking up defensive positions by the door and windows. The head of security raised a hand, drawing all eyes to himself. “Mr. Cesarino will be staying with us for only a few hours. The extraction team will be here before nightfall, and they’ll transfer him to a more secure location. With that said, inventory.” There were a smattering of responses. Most of the warehouse guards were armed with pre war shotguns and rifles, not being worth the cost of military grade firearms. Evelyn checked and reported her own remaining assets: two syringes full of morphine and a pen in her breast pocket, a grenade pinned to the inside of her jacket, a combat knife hanging from her belt and some bandages tucked into her coat pocket. She had her guns, too, but their ammo was utterly spent. “Is there a physician on staff?” Santiago asked, to no response. Evelyn volunteered herself “Sir, if I may, I have medical training. I can see to Mr. Cesarino’s injuries.” Santiago tossed her a set of keys while Cesarino rolled one of her hairs between his index and thumb, smiling to himself. “Take him down into the panic room.”

An adjoining room, hidden behind a shelf and barely larger than a closet, led them down a few flights of stairs into the building’s subterranean section. It was clearly a later addition, having smooth concrete walls with sheared steel bars visible within them, the cement around their ends having been impressed. The lighting was white and blue, sterile as the inside of a medicine bottle. The stairs led down to a dusty antechamber which had once served as a workshop, tools and machines having been shoved against the wall. The room adjoined another via a watertight steel door, at least two inches thick and having a slat window at its centre. Evelyn turned the key and pulled the door open, revealing a roughly circular chamber bedecked with as much luxury as a solid concrete room could accommodate. The ceiling was made up of illuminated panels and red carpet covered most of the floorspace. There was a bed, too; couples sized. A bathroom vanity sat flush with one of the walls as did a toilet, sink, closet, fridge, cubicle shower and bench. A glass of water sat on the vanity, alongside a few bottles of perfume.

Cesarino immediately flopped down on the bed and peeled off his robe, revealing a smooth and pallid body. His stomach was slightly bulbous and his chest had an unpleasant glossy texture to it, like moist eggshells under a bright light. “Sir. I’ll be a second.” Cesarino snorted, closing his eyes. “Fine.” She pulled off her jacket and laid it by the vanity, keeping it outside of Cesarino’s line of sight, leaving herself in a bloodsoaked dress shirt. He whistled at her from across the room. She gave him a tiny, polite smile; that made him perk up. She rifled through her pockets, taking out her grenade and placing it on the ground. She pocketed the morphine syringes and the pen. “Are you almost ready?” He practically purred his request of her. “I am. Thank you for waiting.” She came to his side and set to work on his wounds, wrapping them in linens. She maintained a gentle demeanour, caressing his sore skin with the bandages before she applied them. He let out a long, breathy sigh.

His body was barely scratched. Just a few shallow cuts, not even deep enough to be contiguous, instead looking as if a red seam had been stitched up with pale wire. She treated each of his abrasions with meticulous care, paying more mind to his comfort than his physical well being. It was a strange mindset to adopt, though she had her own reasons for doing so. First and foremost, it kept the man complacent. As she was dressing a gash on his stomach, he squinted at her bare forearms. “You have a lot of scars. Must be hard to ‘get some’ with those.” She nodded gravely. “Yes, sir.” He smacked her on the chest. “Huh. That’s not very impressive. Your genes really fucked you over. Nothing a little silicon and surgery can’t fix, though. I’ll line you up with a guy I know, he does work on all the girls we bring in for business.” She paused for a moment, an intent flaring up behind her eyes before dying back down, being relegated to the role of daydreamt fantasy. “That’s very kind of you to offer.”

He rolled over on the bed, tucking the sheets into the space between his pastel thighs. His robe slid off his shoulder, revealing raw, waxed skin. “Say, you’ve never slept with someone, have you?” She tapped her fingers against the base of her palm, biting the tip of her tongue. “No. I haven’t.” Cesarino gave her an appraising smile. “Such a shame. You’ve got great skin and hair. Lie down with me, hey? I’ll show you what you’ve been missing.” His voice dripped with honey. He grasped her wrist and she gave him a warm grin, giving herself over to his lure. “... alright.” She tilted her head. “Why don’t I step outside and change into something more presentable? And one last matter of business. While I’m out there, you gotta set a save point. Santiago’s orders.” The frat boy moaned. “Who wants to think about that old man? Fine, fine. But get in here quick, alright? Help me take my mind off what just happened.” She squeezed his palm and stepped away, undoing the topmost button of her shirt as she shut the door behind her.

Outside, she coughed lightly into the back of her hand and unclipped her pen from her breast pocket. She took in three deep breaths and wound up her watch. She counted to thirty and knocked on the door. “Sir. Have you set a save point yet?” Cesarino’s voice squeezed through from the other side. “Sure have. Come on in, the water’s fine.” She stood and placed herself before the viewport, a hand on the handle and a finger on the nib of her pen. Cesarino lay in bed, wearing just a tattered robe. Adrenaline ran through her. Anticipation, anxiety, a hint of satisfaction. The feeling that overcomes a person when they see victory just a step away. All that remained was for her to seize it. She pressed down on the nib and a white mist erupted from her vest, still within the safe room. The metal cap of the grenade tucked into one of its inner pockets spat into the air, striking the roof and clattering across the ground. The mist emitted from the casing in thick, turgid clumps, like spoiled milk sloshing from the bottle.

Cesarino floundered in his sheets. “What the fuck is that?” He scrambled for the door, grasping the handle and wrenching it sideways. It wouldn’t budge more than a centimetre in either direction. “What are you- let me out, let me out now!” The fog swelled upward and out. The cup of water on the vanity boiled. “To answer your first question,” she intoned with a bone-weary gracelessness, “That is a 32% chlormethine and 66% sulfur mustard aerosol. The rest is made up of organic additives.” Cesarino pounded on the viewport and gripped the door with both hands, bracing himself against the wall as he tried to rip the two hundred kilogram steel device off its hinges. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!” She saw it. A flash behind his eyes, the bloom of an oft neglected flower. Carnal, visceral fear; fear that grounds you in the present and which compresses your entire world into a singularity of roaring adrenaline and palpitations. It was a wholly different phenomenon than panic, or anxiety, or dread; they fling a person’s perspective into the future, demanding that they think of a way to escape or overcome whatever’s before them. Fear, to her, was immediate. It was an anchor, a way of experiencing sublime, utter focus. She almost envied him.

“I’m killing you,” was all that she could say. “Well, to be more specific, I’m watching you die.” She said that last part with resignation, as if it was truly a terrible privation for her not to be able to end his life with her own bare hands. “You’re making a mistake. My boys- my boys are going to fuck you up!” He threw himself against the door. The handle bit his torso, knocking the wind from his chest. He lay on the ground, gasping. Evelyn stepped up to the port. There were tears in his eyes. The blood on his skin smeared and lost its viscosity, pouring down his thighs. He grabbed his neck and coughed once, twice, three times, before realising that he couldn’t catch his breath. “Who’s- who’s paying you?” She shrugged, and allowed herself the faintest of smiles. “Would you believe me if I said nobody?” He tried to stand; just fell back down. He hacked, and droplets of blood shot across the floor. The ones nearest to the centre of the room bubbled and cracked. “You’re lying,” he wheezed, and his lungs rattled within his chest. She knew that whatever response she gave, he wouldn’t listen. Her words would be drowned out by the noise of his mind trying to convince itself that his life wasn’t over.

“This is a hobby for me.” Cesarino writhed as white fumes pulled up over his body. “You… you just want to watch people die.” He spewed saliva, bile and blood onto the floor. The muscles in his cheeks peeled back his lips, exposing his gums so that they could split and blister too. His open wounds boiled and tears ran down his face, turning red and yellow as. The fluid within his eardrums hissed; there were snakes rattling inside his skull. “I just want something to break the monotony. Anything.” She sounded almost sad. He spasmed and a stream of oleaginous blood poured from his lips, grains of respiratory flesh catching between his harshly gritted teeth. His injuries festered and widened, steaming while the blood within soured. His world was a livid, wretched blur; oil on canvas, smearing under paint stripper. As the body of the fog rolled over his skin, he felt himself peel. His skin ripped back, ulcers digging deeper and deeper, flensing the fat from his ribs and the muscle from his bones. His mouth distended, his cheeks becoming a putrescent mush, and his jaw fell open. Teeth clattered on the ground. He came apart; a fruit infested with invisible, rapacious maggots. When his body hit the ground, it did not slump - it splattered. And there was such fear in him, such concentrated agony, that those were all the thoughts that persisted after all the other cortices of his brain shut down. The vestiges of his consciousness clung to that island of intolerable pain, even as it sank into the murky depths of mortal quiescence.

When he opened his eyes, he was back in the room. Evelyn’s watch beeped and she depressed the nib of her pen. He lay on his bed, wracked by phantom sensations. His nerves wouldn’t stop bursting nor could he form a coherent thought. He tried to squeeze his eyes shut, pull the covers over himself and deny the forthcoming. But the fog encroached irregardless of his denial, and the pain was only greater that time, for the fabric of his bed abraded his paring skin and set his senses alight. He spent the next few loops like that, alternating between inarticulate sobs and desperate attempts to leave, clawing at the steel even as the metal tore up his fingernails and left them dangling by threads from his hands. Between loops, his blood and cerebrospinal fluid were retained. The stains on the wall dried and coagulated, growing deeper and thicker. They dribbled down; the red puddles were gelatinous and the yellow ones were shallow and thin.

Evelyn watched him with dispassionate regard. The gratuitous nature of his death never seemed to affect her. Over dozens of loops, he came to see something within her that he’d never observed before: a cretinous detachment from his suffering, as if she was watching a film or staring at a painting. For hundreds of loops he tried to elicit something from her. Some pity, or aversion, or fear. He threatened her, threw himself at the glass, and tried to break her expression somehow. He stopped caring about leaving; she became his entire world, for that was all that there was to fixate upon. It was only her, the gas, the bed and the mirror. Hate boiled over into awe curdled into love rotted into desire. He slammed his head into the steel until his brains poured down the door, begging for her to speak to him. Eventually he came to start doubting his own existence as well. Maybe he was just an image on a computer screen, playing out the motions over and over. He wondered: had he ever set foot outside this room? The fog kept disrupting his thoughts before he could recall the life that he’d lived. He lost his name amidst a swarm of aborted remembrances; his father’s face faded from his memory; the time he spent bleeding, blistering, stewing in his own rancid fluids came to dominate his psyche. And eventually, it was all he had left.

The second great annihilation of his mind came when the viewport became obscured by his own blood. He tried to scrape it away, to reconnect with the face on the outside, but his fingers just smeared the image more and painted on additional grime. He wept bitter, burning tears. Grief more profound than what its name could do justice wracked him, saturated him, taunted him. He clung to the memory of her golden eyes, of her orange hair. That was the one memory that he, in his reduced state, refused to let go of. She was his object of obsession, the one thing around which he had anchored himself, the one companion that he’d had for what by then had been years. He clung to her memory as if a liferaft. Millions of loops later, he still scratched at the glass, even though the scabs on its surface were as dense and as hardened as the metal of the door itself. The room by then was black and red. Hives of old, dried up lymph dotted the corners. His skin was covered in polyps of angry red muscle. He was a grotesque thing, although he could barely make out his reflection in the mirror. Flakes of bone fell like snow. The mist no longer bothered him. His mind was unrecognisably twisted. His body, aberrant. So long ago, his memories had been ripped from him. Not long after that, his humanity. Now what was he? The thought never preoccupied his stunted, vestigial faculties for long.

He wanted to find her so badly, wanted her to come back. Wanted it now. Wanted to feel it. Soft, supple, giving epidermis. Meat, meat, eyes, gold, hair… he remembered. Remembered her. Remembered its name, remembered its rusty scent, remembered its eyes. Golden irises. Wanted it. Had never felt such a craving before. Wanted her. Needed her. Loved her.
Last edited by Menschenfleisch on Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Imarian Monarchy
Attaché
 
Posts: 68
Founded: Jan 22, 2018
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Imarian Monarchy » Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:57 pm

The Di Valeros
Bejing, Forbidden City

Ansolino and his wife were enjoying the splendor set before the entire conference in the Restored forbidden city. The pair glanced around the room to look for delegates to talk to, this prompted the couple to split, with Ansolino heading to the NAU delegation, and Lorena heading to Madam Voß.

Ansolino approached the NAU delegation and greeted the staffers around Teris. "Hello, Lord Teris, I have a few questions to ask you if you have the time, sir."

As Lorena approached Madam Voß she pondered what she was going to say to the towering austrian, and even wonder if she'd entertain a conversation. "Hello Madam Voß, my I have a moment with you to chat on a few matters?"

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Demencia
Envoy
 
Posts: 345
Founded: Sep 12, 2010
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Demencia » Thu Oct 28, 2021 10:45 pm

Anneliese Voß
Beijing


While the three conversed, the man amongst them motioned towards the approaching woman. "Wir haben Besucher." he said quietly. Anneliese glanced behind her slightly, seeing Lorena approaching.

"Ach, so." she replied, turning back to them. "Zieht nicht davon. Es dauert nich lange, bis das Bankett."

The two both nodded, and the girl hopped down from the crate before the man picked it up and carried it back towards the door. "Wir gehen zum Lkw."

The tall woman watched them leave as the Italian arrived. "Frau Di Valero, Grüß Gott." she said, though she didn't stand up so she could more easily maintain eye contact. "Are you enjoying the festivities? I'd prefer a ball in Wien, but it's a welcome change of scenery from the war." She swirled her massive goblet in one hand and took a sip from it. "You must pardon my manners in not offering you a drink, you'd rather not have anything from my personal supply."

She placed the cup on one of the arms of the chair. "I've never been to Peking before, though I have had the duck. I do hope they have some at the dinner, it's not often I make it to the Orient. For most of my time they haven't exactly been welcoming to Westerners, and airline seats are rather cramped." she said with a dry enough tone that whether she was being sarcastic wasn't immediately clear.

"But I digress, I believe there is still time before the next phase of this Schauspiel. I believe I saw the Südamerikaner wander away for a private audience, Gott knows what dealings the Mongolen would want with them. Sprechen Sie mit mir."
Last edited by Demencia on Thu Oct 28, 2021 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Naval Monte
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 13638
Founded: Sep 04, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Naval Monte » Fri Oct 29, 2021 1:21 am

Evelyn S. Retherford, Ryugo and Ryuju Saeki | A collaboration between Menschenfleisch, Nagakawa and Naval Monte | Section 2.75 of 3

28th of April, 7:39am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland
Perspective: Unknown


The streets were silent tonight. She doubts she would need her enhanced hearing abilities to listen to a pin drop from across the street. There was barely a soul out in the misty streets of the ruined city. Yet there was a thick atmosphere of dread and tension that hung over the city.

She can sense something was amiss. The trench coat clad stranger looked around and can see dirty people's looks being given to her from behind grimy windows. Their tired and sunken eyes showed the distrust and barely restrained bitter rage they felt towards the stranger. She was a foreigner who they never saw and couldn’t be sure was a threat or a drifter. She had gotten the same looks from many surviving settlements out in the Wastes. It was honestly a smart attitude to have if they want to survive. Far too many raiders and psychopaths live out there in the wastes, some being far worse than the monsters and malfunctioning constructs.

The dimly lit street lights provided some lumination as she walked down the aging streets. The streets that were supposed to be maintained by the self proclaimed lord of the city were instead used to lavish himself and his cronies with frivolous goods.

The manor at the heart of the dying city was acting as a gaudy lighthouse that beckoned her to find her target. Every night it would tempt her to enter but each time she would be pulled away. The manor's defenses and the power of its occupant has always been an issue for her.

She spent days tracking all the possible ways to sneak in and even memorize guard patrols. She had her plans and back up plans set and bought and crafted her tools to break in and out. Everything was set.

But then complications arose.

She was not the first one to plan on raiding his manor. When she saw a new woman in the compound she assumed she was a prostitute that Ceasrino bought. It was perfect for her since he would have been distracted.

However things eventually took a turn when other people raided the compound and she found herself back before to the hotel room she was renting before she planned to raid the manor.

She knew what had happened when she found herself back in the hotel room and she rushed back to the manor to try and find Ceasarino before the assassin’s got to him or before the whole manor was swarming with cops.

As she darted into and out of alleyways she can hear the sirens of the compound droning on and the alarms of police cruisers flooding the streets to reach the wailing heart of the city.

It was a quick affair to find her way to the manor. The gates were wide open and she entered the manor. She began to search through the manor. She found signs of conflict but the only bodies found were those of dead guards and staff members. No signs of the assassins and Ceasarino.


She would hear a radio blaring out from one of the dead bodies. She would walk over to the body and pick up the radio.

“All men! A situation has developed in the safe house! Come in armed and armoured now! The location of the safe house is 100 Lincoln St, Bristol BS5 0BJ. Come quickly!” The woman would turn off the radio and toss it aside.

She would quickly leave the manor to find the location.



28th of April, 7:57am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland
Loop 24376090, 391268:10:04


Evelyn stood there for a minute. Then two. Then five. Then ten. She placed a hand on her watch and stilled the second hand. The date counter read 2066. It was over; the window was obscured by grime and nothing emanated from the other side. Slowly, ever so gradually, she came down from the high of accomplishment, until the dreary weight of mundanity set back in. The world which had seemed so colourful a few seconds ago lost all its colour. She nodded to herself, recognising the inevitability of it all. Satisfaction was always going to be fleeting. It was better to accept reality than to reckon with it. She pulled a cigarette from her pocket and at last, at long last, lit up. It hadn’t any taste. The smoke was dry, textureless, just ashes in the stagnant wind. These were old, old cigarettes. She didn’t care about the nicotine content, she just needed something to chew on.

Footsteps echoed from the top of the stairs. She hurriedly slid the viewport shut. Santiago showed himself a moment later, rapping his fingers against the handgun on his belt and pressing a sleeve against his nostrils. Evelyn took shorter breaths, realising that the air was probably laced with asbestos. It was a hypocritical stance to take perhaps, given her own habits, but breathing in dust didn’t have the same benefits as partaking of tobacco. “Is the kid sequestered?” Santiago offered her a pistol cartridge. She slid it into her H&K without a second thought. “Do you mean Mr. Cesarino, sir?” Santiago had seen less action than she had but he looked infinitely more tired. Under softer light, his muscles lost their definition. He slammed his back into the wall, stretching his neck back and folding his arms over his chest. “Nobody calls him that.” She offered him a cigarette, to draw his eye from her other hand as it tightened around her pistol’s grip. He turned it down.

“Sir. Do you want to go upstairs? I can treat your wounds but not in these conditions.” Cesarino shrugged. “No, the staff physician already had a look at me. I found him passed out under a keg, of course. What about you? You look like hell. I’ll stay down here, let you rest.” She shook her head vigorously. “N-no, sir. I’m fine.” The safe room door was closer to her than it was to Santiago. If he saw what was within, there’d be little that she could do to deflect the blame. She’d allow him to check on Cesarino if he chose to do so. Once his back was turned she’d put a bullet an inch below the crest of his occipital bone, where the brainstem met the spine. He was almost transparent to her, his anatomy - and vulnerabilities - glaring through his skin. He kept his blindspot too easy to follow, his throat too exposed, his hip too rigid. He slid a blister packet out of his jacket, popped the foil and dry-swallowed two pills. “Heart medication. I’m getting on in my years.” he explained as he slid it back into his suit’s breast pocket. “You know, Cesarino is not exactly the man that I’d hoped he’d become.”

“Mr. Cesarino’s father died when he was young.” Evelyn pointed out, although she didn’t care to explore the implications of the fact. She just wanted to say something to distract him, anything to ease him into letting his guard down. The tautness around his eyes faded, revealing clotted sclera and cataract-ridden lenses. “Of course. And he left me all this. The boy, the empire, the enemies. I should be thankful, I suppose, that Vergil hasn’t his father’s endeavouring spirit. Most of the people who’d want him dead were ousted from their positions during the revolution, and he hasn’t done anything since then to earn the attention of their replacements.”

“Then why are you still here? Sir.” Evelyn raised herself off the wall, positioning her feet and angling her centre of mass so she could turn on a dime. Her fingers, though outwardly static, were as taut as bowstrings. “Loyalty? Habit? Old dogs, that whole deal. And I suppose you’re here for the money.” She inhaled, holding her breath right as the volume of her lungs exceeded the realm of comfort. “... no. I do this for fun.” Santiago wrinkled his nose as she let out a breath of smoke. “You like killing people? Or is it the feeling of having a gun in your hands.” She cracked a smile, though it was gone before he could see it. “I’m in it for the novelty. I like to not know what I’m up against.” There was the distinction, the thing which separated mundane and droll anxieties from the ones that she sought out in the heart of violence. The unfavorable dread of blindness, the knowledge that something imposing rests on the horizon without understanding it in its entirety. To face the unknown, to overcome it, to tear away the layers of self-imposed obscurity and to face it alone; to kiss a stranger with blood on one’s lips. It terrified her. It threatened her. It filled her with burning, irrepressible excitement. Drowned the future, locked her into the present. Gave her wandering, dissatisfied mind something to chew on. Life was a series of cycles: days, years, good days, bad days. Breaking away from the soul-crushing repetition was all that she could ever ask for.

The safe room’s door rattled. Something heavy struck it from the other side, emitting a distressed and muffled murmur. Santiago stood and tried the handle, finding it to be locked. “Where’s the key?” His voice was a little frantic. “I gave Mr. Cesarino the keys of course.” Evelyn kept her head down and her voice level. She was even more taken aback by the noise than her compatriot, although she did a better job of keeping her shock under wraps. “Vergil, open the door.” Santiago commanded through the steel. He fumbled with the viewport and found the glass to be covered in dry, black tar. A metallic clicking answered his call, emanating from the lock. It sounded like it was being undone. Evelyn’s hand travelled to her back pocket, where the real key rested. She grasped it, reassuring herself that it was still with her. Santiago took a step back. He assumed that the door was about to be opened, and rightly so.

The steel parted, and there was simply too much detail for Evelyn’s frail mind to take in.

Colours impossible to describe flashed around her as a cacophony of noises violated her ears. Before her was a conglomeration of glowing spheres made of a gelatinous light, its colours ever shifting in eye-watering ways. She saw malformed and rudimentary eyes rise and fall from the mass, serpentine limbs undulating, and many blurred figures and shapes surrounding the being as reality around it seemed to curve and distort around it.

However one constant that seems to remain was the face upon the creature, the face of Vergil Cesarino. His face was stretched impossibly wide, his right eye bulging out of their socket while the left was shrunken and set almost deep into their socket as to almost disappear within. His nose was pushed against his face and left behind two large slits that were his nostrils. His ears were fused into the mass that was his body from all sides and his mouth was a gaping hole filled with seemingly never ending rows of teeth with a tendril-like tongue resting within.

There were polyps of livid red flesh dotting his body and extrusions of bone and gristle that led into nowhere. He was a teeming, half-fungal and half-coral mass; a reef of desiccated blood, with shelves of packed and anchorless muscle splitting off from his malformed torso. The digits on his limbs had fused together, turning his left arm into a club and the right into a keratinous claw, fingernails forming scales over his skin and ringing his wrist. Slits dotted his face, some larger than others, and glistening eyes or teeth lingered within each of them; vestigial facial features, overridden by the latest iteration of his body. It was like someone had taken fifteen hundred people and overlaid them on top of each other, each in a slightly different arrangement. He was black and red, of many eyes and mouths. With each breath, his whole body swelled and made a noise like crackling paper, and the many holes on his head and neck - into which a person could embed a finger without much issue - whistled. Just by looking at him, it became eminently clear to Evelyn and Santiago that he was in intolerable pain. His appearance was simply torturous.

Santiago put a hand over his mouth as brightly coloured vomit spurted between his fingers. Evelyn put a hand on her face and let slip a vile little smirk. “And here I was thinking that you’d made it too easy for me.” Cesarino reached toward her with a bundle of fused arms. “E...velyn...” She deftly unholstered her pistol and fired into the back of Santiago’s head. The round stopped just above the soft tissue below his skullbone. Hearing the shot, he whirled around to face her, staring in disbelief at the smoking barrel. He gathered up energy around his wrist, preparing to rip her into giblets. She reached out with her spare hand, grabbed the radio on his vest, and then kicked him hard in the stomach. She knocked the wind out of him and he fell backwards into Cesarino’s embrace, parting with his radio as he went down. Cesarino, simultaneously covered in unnecessary mass and yet thinner than could be healthy in many places, wrapped himself like a shawl around his bodyguard. He took hold of Santiago and reached down to give the man a mouth-to-mouth kiss. There was a long ripping sound, and then Cesarino parted from Santiago, carrying a section of tongue in between his teeth. Many of his other orifices chewed on flesh stripped from the bodyguard’s cheeks, clavicle and neck. He gurgled on the floor, drowning. Cesarino closed one of his mouths over a white orb and squeezed it until it popped; an eye pulled from Santiago’s blinded head. A foot came down on the bodyguard and crushed his skull in an instant. Sections of scalp, still matted with hair, clattered across the ground.

“E… velyn...” Cesarino spoke with many drowning, gurgling, writhing voices. A chorus of desire. A deep sense of violation transfixed her, though it was overwhelmed by a more immediate carnal sense of fear. She started her watch again and calmly intoned into the radio: “This is SSP Retherford, there’s a situation in the safe room. ” The creature lurched toward her with bulbous, long limbs. They were covered in puckers; muscle formed into circular abscesses by rising bubbles of boiling blood and lymph. “... love… you...”

It wasn’t in her interests to kill Cesarino herself. Doing so would simply cause him to loop back to his most recent savepoint, which was most likely outside of the safe room. It wouldn’t improve her situation whatsoever, and it would vastly augment his knowledge of his surroundings and of her intentions. She was fine with letting other people attack him though; he’d adapt to their attacks and formulate a plan to deal with them, leaving her out of the equation. She sprinted up the stairs, reappearing in the lobby of the warehouse, where she diminished her pace to that of a calm stride. Riflemen were positioned on the balcony, overlooking the basin. “Cesarino is dead,” she informed the guard. “I’m being stalked by its killer.” She spoke with completely indefatigable authority. She had no right to command those men, but they obeyed her without question anyway. They’d seen her with Santiago, as well as how Cesarino had acted toward her.

Cesarino lumbered out of the doorway, standing up to full height. Underneath his melted skin and sloughing limbs the frame of a man was still visible, although buried within an aberrant corpus. He didn’t move like a person, coordinating himself with this forceful and mechanical gait that completely lacked nuance. Every one of his impulses was carried out to its fullest extent, making his steps long and his movements jerky and exaggerated. She peered past the outer layer, past even the core animating its movements. She watched its eyes, hiding within swollen-shut slits. They were grey and covered in thick, black veins. The monster was old. Eighty two years in chronological age, its body may have been composed of the material of youth but its senses and mind were addled by dementia and natural degenerative processes. It was ponderous in thought, slow to react, frustrated by an inability to hold a train of thought. There was an unmistakable determination in it, though. Even as guards repositioned above its head, its gaze remained fixed on her. She was its only priority. Not survival, not escape, just having her was its only demand from reality. “E… ve… lyn...” its voice was wet and succulent. “Loove… you...”

Evelyn clenched her fist in the air. “Fire.” The creature immediately strafed to the left, bounding with speed and dexterity that she'd unknowingly written off as being beyond its formerly slow and unintelligent capabilities. In doing so, it avoided a spray of gunfire and placed itself underneath the balcony, standing beside a shelf weighed down by crates of steel and oil. It crawled up the wall, leveraging its long adhesive limbs in order to clamber up and grasp the second storey railing, around which it swung itself - using its arm like a vine - to land on the upper banister. Guards on either side of the entity fired toward it, depressing their triggers a moment after it had smeared itself against the ground and begun crawling toward the closest man. It was a spider of bloody secretions, leaving behind a trail of vesicant blood. The crossfire injured members of both groups of gunmen. The creature twisted between the bullets of those who remained, raising its limbs which clicked as its joints tapped against one another in order to slide over or underneath the shells peppering the steel before it.

Evelyn immediately understood her mistake. Instructing the guards to kill Cesarino had forced him into a series of resets, escaping from which had required him to adapt to his surroundings and to find a way to eliminate the safe house's staff. Her watch beeped. It was seven hours ahead of when she'd last looked at it. Cesarino had been given seven hours – for free – to become acquainted with his body and to lose that lumbering manner with which he'd carried himself before, the one which had betrayed an unfamiliarity with his own body and a heightened sensitivity to the spectacle of the world. Those 47 years in the safe room had annihilated his mind. She'd just given him an opportunity to recover. She cursed, although she found some comfort in the fact that she'd been able to figure out what had happened to make Cesarino so adept with his aberrant body. If she'd made that same inference in previous loops, which was all but guaranteed assuming that Cesarino had performed roughly the same actions in each of them, then she wouldn't have ever participated in the guards' attempts to kill him. That meant that, in all likelihood, he hadn't yet adapted to her style of combat, nor had he yet witnessed what decisions she would make once the warehouse staff were dead. That gave her an opening – a gap in his otherwise flawless knowledge of the future.

Cesarino took bullets as he chewed his way through the garrison. Bullets perforated his extremities and shrapnel painted his underbelly an ashen black. He was impatient, tearing his former protectors apart with incredible practicality. He ripped the skin from their bodies, peeled the muscle from their bones and stretched them over the railing until their spines gave way and cracked, but he always did so with the obvious intention to incapacitate his enemies rather than to inflict pain or kill them. He caused agony and harm aplenty, but it was not gratuitous. The whole time, he kept snatching glances at Evelyn, mumbling something under his breath and which sounded to her like a lullaby. He was fixated on her. Behind those irises lay a sick and loathsome imagination, underpinned by entitlement bred by decades of denial. Fantasies of violation, of self gratification, of loving, of being loved, whatever that meant to a creature such as itself. Its heart was inhabited by a crushing anger, a benthic indignation. How long had it been denied the soft, supple taste of another person’s flesh? How long had it held those golden eyes in its mind, so contemptuous and yet so beautiful, ever so close and yet out of reach? Questions that dredged up awful memories, a lifetime of desolation and waiting - waiting to be freed by the slow, vacillating hand of probability-motivated inevitability. It loathed the world. It scorned its aching bones, the way in which its melting body festered under its skin. The only relief was her. Memories, reveries, hankerings of her. It needed to find solace in her flesh.

Those facts were readily apparent just by looking at him; they were etched into Cesarino’s being. His jerky, tetchy movements betrayed his frustration. His severe gaze and inability to turn away from her indicated his thirst. His muffled little moans and occasional winces were evidence of his pain. In knowing that he was fantasising about her, Evelyn came to automatically picture what she imagined to be his voyeuristic daydreams. Her tongue tasted bitter. She wanted to leave, if only running away wouldn’t have simply caused Cesarino to kill himself in order to bring her back. She raised her phone to her mouth, speaking to the Saeki’s. “Contract extension. Head to 100 Lincoln Street. Target is at large, now resembles a… is a… you’ll know him when you see him.” A bloodied corpse, so shredded as to resemble a tattered rag, landed on the concrete near her feet, squirting blood and humours onto her shins. That had been the last guard. There was nothing standing between herself and the monster now. Cesarino clambered down the wall, blocking the door with the bulk of his body. He slipped on his own sour discharge and landed hard on the ground. A rib cracked. He grunted, wetly. He was back to his old clumsy self, having not rehearsed this moment. “This is the first time you’ve made it this far, isn’t it?” She whispered. She took in deep breaths, trying to calm her racing heart. “Alright… alright.” The air was thick with gore and fear, the way that she dreaded suffering his obscene designs. He shuddered, losing himself in his imagination.

“Roger.”

It was as subtle as the mere flick of a switch, but after everything had turned black in the old musty room, barely an instant passed before the two twins suddenly found themselves in the truck once again, both of them drenched in blood - mostly that of the guards.

“God, I feel like shit”, Ryuju complained as he sped the truck towards the address Evelyn had given.

“It is what it is.” Winding down the window on his side, Ryugo clutched his rifle and leaned out precariously, fixing his gaze on the building in the distance. In the darkness, scattered by the flickering headlamps of the truck, he could just about make out the bizarre sight of some fat, grotesque thing crawling along the walls.

Ryuju swerved the truck masterfully, skidding it to a halt just a short distance away from the building, with Ryugo’s side of the vehicle facing the building. Ryugo gripped his rifle tightly and leapt straight out of the open window of the truck, rolling to the side and quickly dropping to a prone position, keeping his weapon pointed at the thing. Sensing that all was clear, they leapt to their feet and charged into the building, where they came face to face with none other than the beast, in all its disgusting glory.

“Jesus Christ, what the hell is that thing?” Ryugo’s voice was barely audible through his signal set.

From behind the wall, Ryuju flung the door open and hastily whipped out his rifle as he leapt out, crouching behind a blind spot and aiming his rifle at Cesarino. A cold and tingling feeling crept through the floor, as if radiating from the monstrous thing that Cesarino had become.

“Awaiting your permission to open fire”, said Ryugo to Evelyn through the signals.

“Don’t kill it, that’s Cesarino!” She shouted from within the warehouse. The curtains that’d been occluding the windows had all been torn down, showing the interior in its musty, bloody glory. “Each time he dies he goes back in time. If we just don’t kill him, we can be sure that this is his first loop. We need to restrain him... and keep him from killing himself, as I’m certain that he’s already done.” The thing swung a long, bony limb at her. It whistled and caved in a car door, showering her in little glass shards. He definitely wasn’t trying to kill her. His movements were extraordinarily slow, and not one of them hadn’t been aimed at her legs. She was cornered now, backed up against a wall with a set of lockers on one side and the derelict of a vehicle on the other. As he scuttled toward her, she slid a crowbar off the floor and struck him upside the head. Cesarino, who must’ve weighed at least three or four times more than her, and who was longer than she was tall, groaned and tilted on over backwards, landing in a messy heap. She couldn’t tell if he was ecstatic or miserable.

Whatever. Who fucking cared. She got on top of him and placed the end of the cowbar on top of the teeth of his main mouth. She struck its end with her elbow. His finely minted incisors cricked, cracked and split, spraying her with oily, sour scum. The metal tip of her implement struck concrete, not meeting further resistance. Shit. She’d been aiming for his spine. A bilious hand grasped her neck and hoisted her into the air, bending the cartilaginous loops in her throat into ovals. “... need… you...” the thing moaned. She tried to pull its fingers off of her neck but her hands just sank into its flesh. The fumes rising off of its body stung her eyes. It gently parted her hair, holding open one of her eyes. “... Ev… elyn...” Her periphery was sparkling. She didn’t thrash, knowing that it would be an unnecessary waste of oxygen, but she didn’t have many options other than to make holding onto her as difficult as possible. Cesarino pinned her against the wall and breathed down her collar, savouring every moment as it passed. Her hand twitched toward her pistol but stopped just short of actually removing it from its holster.

“Roger.” Ryugo calmly removed his magazine and replaced it with another one, one that had been loaded with one tracer round for every three normal rounds. “Ryuju. Suppressing fire.”

“Yea, I heard her.” Ryuju remained crouched behind the wall, keeping his weapon pointed in the general direction of the monstrosity.

“Awaiting your orders”, Ryugo huffed through the signal channel, again. “Whatever they are.”

Their response was several seconds of unintelligible choking.

“Hey, I’m gonna try something crazy.”

“Something - what?” Ryugo turned and peered at Ryuju curiously.

“Evelyn”, said Ryuju through his signal device, completely jettisoning the call-signs they had agreed on prior to the operation. “What say you? I go in and freeze the bastard?”

She peeled back one of Cesarino’s fingers long enough to rasp a response. “Do something. I’m about to be traumatised.” Which was a very light way of putting it.

“Wait, Ryuju - ”

“Cover me! Ryugo!”

Kicking up a cloud of dust, Ryuju had zipped around the blind spot, from where he had been taking cover, and slinging his rifle behind his back, he sprinted fast towards the thing, pulling his gloves off as he did so. The grotesque figure of Cesarino loomed larger and larger over him as he dashed close, skidding to a halt and slamming right into the wall. With a sadistic grin, Ryuju looked up at the monstrosity, which in turn twisted whatever it was that appeared to be a face to look down at him - it appeared, at least, to be a face. In the darkness, he couldn’t tell what exactly it was.

He planted his bare palms on the wall, breathing heavily and exhaling plumes of frosty air from between his gritted teeth and curled back lips. In the darkness, a faint blue light pulsated through the veins on his bare arms, now exposed with his sleeves in shreds.

“Oh boy.” Still lying prone on the ground about ten metres away, Ryugo continued to point his rifle at the monster on the wall, controlling his breathing manually and keeping an eye on it through the scope, ready to open fire if Evelyn were to order it, and more importantly, should his brother come under danger.

“Hey, Cesarino”, Ryuju huffed. “Fuck you.”

The creature barely registered his statement. It salivated over Evelyn’s body as she pulled her legs up and tried to make herself as small as she could. And in that same instant, there was an ugly crackling sound, followed by what sounded like a huge thump - and a large monolith of ice had exploded from the point on the wall that Ryuju had stuck his palms to, engulfing Cesarino and trapping him like a mammoth under an ice sheet. The huge glacial stalagmite in which Cesarino was now imprisoned had grazed Evelyn’s shoulder as it burst forth, but she remained otherwise unharmed.

With Cesarino now trapped, Ryuju laughed in exhaustion and staggered backwards, plonking down onto the floor on his butt and flopping over supine, staring up at the sky.

“Fuck me”, he murmured, a relieved smile curling round the corners of his mouth. “That was bad.”

Evelyn extricated herself from Cesarino’s frozen grip, having to peel frostbitten flesh off of her neck to be rid of him. She made an outward attempt to remain calm but she visibly trembled. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” she whispered under her breath, eyes a tad too wide to be natural. “Shit, Ryuju… th-thanks, I guess.” She wiped her hands on her pants, smearing Cesarino’s spittle and blood all over her palms. It wasn’t exactly a sub-zero day, but surely it wasn’t so cold that she’d be shivering so much.

“All part of the job.” Ryuju closed his eyes and folded his hands over his abdomen, breathing deeply and enjoying a brief moment of respite, almost like a siesta, as Ryugo got up and trudged towards the place where he lay, his rifle still trained in the general direction of the now frozen beast, in case it were to break free.

From a small distance, Ryugo eyed the monster. He sensed that it was more or less secure within its icy prison - the faintest rising and falling in what looked like its torso indicating that it was still alive, barely.

“All done”, he said, turning to Ryuju and nudging him gently with the heel of his boot. “Get up.”

“Let me sleep a bit. Please.” Ryuju mumbled. “It’s been… 38 hours.”

Ryugo sighed and turned to Evelyn.

“So”, he said, still eyeing the beast. “What happens now?”

She collapsed against a wall, leaning on the edge of a chair to prop herself up. “I-... H…” She swallowed deeply, recovering a mote of composure. “Just give me a moment.” She struck a cigarette; had trouble holding it between her lips.

“What the hell is this nasty sack of shit!?” the group would hear a woman shout. Turning around they would see a woman with pale skin and raven hair. Her green eyes looked at the group and the monster that was once Cesarino.

“I have no idea how you bloody sods manage to turn him into a Cronenberg reject but whatever information I needed from him is impossible to get because you all went ahead and turned him into an ice sculpture.”

The woman would reach into her coat pocket and take out her own cigarettes. “As for you?” her attention was on Evelyn. “Get a better brand than that yankee knock off. Most of that stuff is utter shite.” she told her before she lit her own cigarette.

“Right...” Evelyn exhaled. “R-right, we should probably try to avoid killing him. Who are you?” She placed her hand on her handgun. The woman was dressed very oddly. Ankle length black trench coat, burgundy dress shirt with a black tie, slim-fit black chinos trousers, black gloves, and monochromatic doc marten boots. She looked like a Hot Topic model. Evelyn lowered her head, breathing in tobaccinated fumes. She hadn’t been expecting to be berated by a vigilante today. “Who’s your employer? Or is this personal?” She paused for a second. “You look familiar. Have we met before?”

“I get that a lot.” the woman told Evelyn as she blew out smoke. “Though unlike some women I didn’t have to go under the knife to look like her. I was just unlucky to be born to have a face similar to her. But at least I stay in better shape than the Thaumarch.” the woman let out a chuckle.

“As for who I work for I can’t reveal that but my business is to extract information out of the man who you idiots tried to kill. I don’t know if I can even do that since he is now a tentacle monster.”

Evelyn stood up. She would’ve made an attempt at diplomacy under normal circumstances, but today was no such occurrence. “Clear out. This is our jurisdiction. I’m an associate of the Abigail Institute; you don’t want to contest that authority. About the information - start looking into the local evidentiary departments. Or better yet, get to Cesarino’s house before everything is taken away by scavs.”

“I was already in there before I heard the explosions. But I would have also loved to hear what that fat bastard knew since I can’t be sure that the drives and journals contained everything he knew.” She pointed at the monster.

“This sack of shit has connections to a group who I’m after and I have reasons to believe that some of their people are here in the wastes and they most likely have plans on getting into Albion since right now it’s resting over the Thames Bay.”

Evelyn took a deep breath. “Listen to me. Cesarino isn’t capable of speech, he’s in my custody, and even if he could string together a coherent sentence he still wouldn’t be able to remember anything. What I’ve given you is the best you can possibly get - and every second that you spend here, the chances of finding out what you want to know slip through your fingers. So I recommend that you make the smart decision and leave.” She slowly walked toward Elizabeth as she spoke, ash falling from the end of her cigarette. “My name is Evelyn S. Retherford. You can call the institute if you need to speak with me.” She handed the strange woman a slip of paper, on which was written a business contact in blue pen. Speckles of blood stained its edges.

The woman looked at the ‘card’. “Fine. You’ll have it your way. The bastard was pretty much drooling all over you so I would rather not be the newest victim of his lust.” the woman said as she turned around and began to walk away.

“I’ll call you if I need to reach you.” she said as put away the card and brought the cigarette away from her mouth and blew out smoke.

The statue groaned. A crack ran down its length. “Ryuju-” Evelyn started, but it didn’t matter. One of Cesarino’s hands broke loose and smacked Ryuju across the stomach, flinging him across the room. He pushed down on the ice, scraping it away in chunks. It took much of his flesh with it, stripping him down to the bone in places. It eliminated a great deal of unnecessary bulk however, and he slid out of his blackened skin like a molting centipede removing itself from its old carapace. For a moment he flopped on the floor, leaving a blood-angel on the ground as he dragged his raw muscles over the concrete. A weedy chorus of cries escaped his many mouths; “Evelyn!” It was a lecherous harmony. She drew her pistol and considered shooting him, but the knowledge that he’d just loop prevented her from doing so. He moved with unnatural speed and precision, bounding across the room in a way that he simply hadn’t before, except when he’d been killing the guards. “One of us ended up deciding to kill him during a previous loop. He’s familiar with our patterns: focus on surviving!”

In all likelihood, he’d passed away a few times while trapped in the ice, his blood clotting in his veins as the cold sank its claws into his heart. He’d been waiting for this moment across dozens of loops, familiarising himself with the weak points in his prison and learning where each of the four interlocutors would be standing when he gained an opportunity to free himself. “Hey!” Evelyn called out to the woman. “Don’t kill him! Every time he dies, time loops. Each time you kill him, you give him a redo.” The creature swivelled toward her, raising itself up on its haunches and moving around her side. Was it trying to stay in her blindspot? “You three might want to leave.”

“Ryuju, you idiot.” Grimacing as Ryugo leapt across the room to dodge the thing, Ryuju clutched his stomach and clambered to his feet. Frothy red foam dribbled from his mouth, and a sharp pain radiated from his chest to the rest of his body. His breathing became laboured, sounding almost like a whistle.

“Shit.” Unable to bear the pain, Ryuju collapsed to his knees, struggling to draw breath as one hand continued to clutch his side. Even in his pain, his other hand fumbled frantically for his pistol strapped to his side, which he shakily pulled out. “My rib’s broken.”

Cesarino continued to circle Evelyn, which she could only assume was him waiting for a specific event to occur. He had to have been through this before, which meant that he wasn’t holding out for an opportunity. No, he had something in mind upon which to act. She slowly pointed a finger at Ryugo, standing her ground. “Get your brother out. If, in previous resets, you played a role in the fight, he’ll have adapted to you by now. I don’t think there’s anything you’ll be able to do to help.”

“I’m fine.” Ryuju climbed back to his feet and coughed again, spitting out a globule of blood.

“No you’re not.” With his rifle still trained on Cesarino, Ryugo cut obliquely to the side and slid surreptitiously in front of Ryuju, as if to block him. “Your lung is punctured. How long do you think it’ll take to heal?”

“But what comes next?” Ryuju protested.

“That’s beyond our paygrade”, said Ryugo.

“No it isn’t, you-”

Ryuju’s sentence trailed off. Ryugo stuck one arm out and gently nudged him backwards towards the exit.

“Evelyn”, said Ryugo. “What now?”

She laughed grimly. “Talk to Florette, she’ll wire you the money. I don’t think I’m leaving.” Cesarino slammed his fist into her shin. She flung herself to one side, softening the blow enough that it merely cracked the bone rather than snapping it half. She rolled on the ground, blood weeping through the fabric of her pant leg. She grabbed a screwdriver off a bench and stuck it into his arm as he went for another strike, clearly aimed at her limbs rather than her core. He was going for non-lethal attacks, so, at least they were both handicapping themselves in that way. The implement should’ve stuck in his wrist and blown apart the joint. Instead, he (apparently) serendipitously raised his arm just enough to avoid her counterattack, knocking her over the head. She reeled, although she recovered her senses quickly, as was one of her talents. She finally drew her pistol and took a shot at his leg, trying to slow him down. Three bullets later, she was down a quarter of her ammunition and he was completely unscathed.

“Know… you...” he snarled. Was that venom in his voice? No, frustration. Anger at being denied, at her rejecting his advances. He wanted not just her body but her adoration. She let out a small, pathetic little laugh. Had to laugh at the sheer contemptibility of it all. He let out a chortle too, though it sounded like a drowning dog more than an expression of amusement. “How many times have we played this game?” She begged him. “You fucking incel. Just jack off!” She pumped her hand in the air a few times to sell the point. She considered killing herself to spite him, but she had no idea how much of a necrophiliac he might be. Besides, he could just commit suicide to bring her back to life, as much of a non-sequitur that phrase was.

Ryugo cast one final glance into the room. It was a bizarre sight before him - a thing that once had been human, changed into a form that defied any attempt to describe in words, and standing against it, the smaller figure of a lone woman, all too human, yet also in the dim light of the room immortalised in his memory. He didn’t know why the image struck him so, nor what feeling it was that it churned up within him.

“But what about Evelyn?” Ryuju could not help but cry out. “What’s gonna happen to her?”

Ryugo said nothing. A heavy stone welled up in his throat, but he choked it back and turned the other way.

“Oi, Ryugo! The fuck are we doing? Why are we just going off??”

“The mission is over”, Ryugo answered curtly. “We’ve done all that we must.”

Ryuju fell silent and looked back behind him in anger. His breathing became less and less laboured as they hastened down the corridors and emerged from the other side of the building. The sight of the town in the distance awash in pale white moonlight greeted the twins, a strange and dissonant tableau that stared back at them in silence. The truck they had stolen several days ago sat along the side of the road placidly, as if awaiting their eventual return.

There was a bench along the side of the road. It wasn’t one of those stone benches one often found in a park, but a plastic, olive-coloured foldable bench, wide enough for a person to lie down on and perhaps even have a nap, if they were tired enough. A piece of military hardware that had been left behind after some hasty retreat, it seemed. The bench seemed to call Ryugo, as he unslung his rifle and lay down on the bench, his eyes still wide open and staring up into the moon that hung above him. Lying on the bench almost made him feel unsettled, guilty even.

Evelyn had given them orders to leave. What more could there be?

“Ryugo.”

Ryugo snapped himself back awake. Sleep had a way of catching up to you when you least expected it, even in the filthiest and most unconducive of conditions. Forty hours had passed since Ryugo had last shut his eyes. At least, that was how long it felt it had been; he had forced himself to stay awake with mouthfuls of 3-in-1 coffee powder, the sort that came in packets you could empty into a cup and stir into something drinkable with hot water, a luxury that he did not have on the job. Time had blended together - his perception of time failed him.

But he still recognised his brother’s voice, calling him back from the fuzzy blur that was involuntary sleep. Pounding sensations coursed through his body as he jolted back awake and turned to face Ryuju, standing above him as he lay on the bench, silhouetted against that disgusting building in the background.

The sound of crickets rose from the grass. In truth, they had always been there - it was only in the tranquility of the outdoors, in the silent expanse divorced from the gruesome spectacle in the building, that Ryugo and Ryuju’s senses slowly returned to them.

“It’s not over”, said Ryuju. His face was dark and solemn. Streaks of dried blood still remained streaked across his mouth amid the grime that coated the rest of his face. “ ‘The mission never ends.’ ”

Ryugo looked up at his brother, and Ryuju extended a hand. His eyes flickered against the moonlight, and he stood up from the bench and took another step back toward the building. Neither brother said anything.
Naval Monte- The Mediterranean crossroads of mind-controlling conspiracies, twisted dimensions, inhuman depravity, questionable science, unholy commerce, heretical faiths, absurd politics, and cutting-edge art.

Make wonderful memories here, in Naval Monte.

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Menschenfleisch
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Founded: Nov 01, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Menschenfleisch » Fri Oct 29, 2021 1:21 am

Evelyn S. Retherford, Ryugo and Ryuju Saeki | A collaboration between Menschenfleisch, Nagakawa and Naval Monte | Section 2.875 of 3

Cesarino was fast and, at least from Evelyn’s perspective, capable of precognition. She tried to make herself unpredictable, using the random number generator on her phone to give her random values which guided her steps, but she wasn’t entirely sure whether the generator produced the same outputs across loops or not. It certainly seemed like it, given how closely he was able to track her, always staying on top of her and never being thrown off by anything that she did. He didn’t go in for any incapacitatory blows; he just chased her, clearly trying to exhaust her so that when he went in for the coup de grace, she’d be too weak to fight back. Or maybe he was enjoying this exercise with her, their acrobatic little game. He had a smile on his face...s. She wasn’t sure what her plan was, other than to stay out of his grasp. She ducked below clumsy strikes and absorbed blows to her abdomen, each of which took a little longer to catch her breath from than the last.

“I’m flattered that you like me so much… I think.” She muttered. He barreled forward, forcing her to scramble on her hands and knees through the bottom rung of a shelf, reaching the other side right as he slammed into the metal, causing bottles of gasoline to fall on her back. She dug glass shards out of her palm, sucking them out with her teeth and spitting them onto the floor. Truthfully she was terrified, just babbling things to make herself feel like she was in control. She was vertiginous, injured, afraid. She still had a syringe full of painkillers. Maybe it would help to dull the pain of whatever he was going to do to her? When Cesarino had threatened to fuck her across hundreds of loops, she’d taken him to be bluffing. Now, it seemed like it would happen for real. She wasn’t even certain that he wanted her dead. All she knew was that she was his object of fancy. The thought of that alone brought her guts into her mouth.

But between the pangs of pain and time-distorting bursts of adrenaline, there was something else writhing under her skin. It gripped and squeezed tight her heart, straining every beat and causing bitter consternation to blossom within her chest. Fear, digging its roots into her aching muscles and wrapping around her fracturing bones. It filled her veins, replacing lost blood and anchoring her brittle, fraying flesh. It exerted a benthic pressure on her fretful mind, crushing her concerns and extruding her attention into a lance which transfixed the present. She stopped thinking about past mistakes and regrets, stopped worrying about her future and about things beyond her control. She was locked into the present, completely bereft of worldly noise. This was the feeling that she’d been chasing - a euphoric clarity, the ability to live her life in self contained increments, each of them a novel challenge to solve. A razor thin smile spread across her face.

As Evelyn kept Ceasrino distracted, the mysterious woman who arrived after the party had been believed to have captured the restart meta was using the time to carve a magic circle on the ground with a stick.

She began to chant in a language none would understand as she traced symbols in the air with her cigarette as she moved around in the circle.

As she turned to face the group she would raise her cigarette up and shout in Latin for a change.

“Exite de paradiso et appare coram me Selaphiel!”

At first nothing happened after the words were uttered.

However a strong gale would blow across as a buzzing can be heard in everyone’s ears and static can be felt on their skin.

A screech would tear through the area, a screech that was both blood curdling yet melodic at the same time.

A shape would drop down rapidly from the air and land behind the woman, as it slowly got up everyone would see the full extent of what the witch brought forth.

Resembling a giant semi-organic spider with eight jointed legs/arms, two of which it stood on to keep an upright position even as the leg structure couldn’t support such a stance. The creature was covered by a porcelain exoskeleton with plates of black metal. On the back were wings made of stained glass cut to resemble the shape of avian’s wings but having the same line pattern seen in dragon fly wings. Four more sets could be seen with them getting smaller the further down they were.

On each end of arms were bladed instruments and claws, the most common was a blade attached to a spherical appendage and others resembling drills and syringes. Six small, red eyes located near the tip of their head, below them was a human like nose and a mouth that open up to four sets mandibles with chesed teeth, red organic matter can be seen within the mandibles with a few connected strands of organic tissues being suspended between each jaw, yellowish orange fluids drip out of the mouth.

Even with these oddities the face of the angel was remarkably human-like. From its mouth a set of small tendrils with four stringers surrounding an opening could be seen coming out, the base of the stringers being covered by pulsating flesh buds.

The creature looked down at the group, it’s eyes baring more intensely at the monsterity before it. The creature would suddenly lunge at Cesarino’s as it aims to stab him with it’s syringes. The creature was shouting something in the same strange language that the woman chanted before in her ritual.

Cesarino immediately rolled to one side, arranging his limbs such that they acted like wagon wheels. The creature’s limb left a gash in the concrete, parting the stone with anything but surgical efficiency. The blade ground to a halt at the end of a ten foot chasm and then pulled itself out of the ground to slash at Cesarino’s skin. He jumped back, bouncing on his limbs and keeping himself spread as wide as possible, goading the entity into swiping at his periphery. Each time, he twitched his leg or arm back just far enough to avoid the attack. The spiderlike entity attempted to spear him with a needle, whereupon he suplexed the limb over his shoulder and snapped it off, using it to beat back the creature’s other attacks before plunging it deep into its carapace, gouging out several pounds of ceramic-esque skin and dousing himself in yellow effluent.

“What are you doing? This is pointless.” Evelyn had adopted a far heavier tone than usual. She stepped back to count her bullets and catch her breath while the witch's monster duelled Cesarino. “Every time your minion kills him, it gives him another opportunity to win before you can bring it out.” She could have intervened in the fight but it would’ve had the exact same effect as doing nothing at all. Any decision that she could make would have definitionally already happened in previous loops, rendering its consequences moot.

The woman smirked. “I don’t need it to win. The angel just needs to distract him long enough for me to bind the bastard.” She explained as she took out a bottle with strange symbols etched on it.

She would wave her hand over the main symbol on the bottle and whisper.

“B'koakh Shlomoh kvosh et hakhoshekh.”

Before she placed the bottle on the ground and raised her hand up and began to chant.

“Derech Elohim. B'sh'khina elohit zoh, koakh Shlomoh dokhek bekha. Shma nah, yeshut tme'a, galë nah et shimkha. Makhzik taba'at Shlomoh, ru'akh Shlomoh poked alekha! Elohim haborë vehayotser poked alekha!”

Evelyn sighed. “Angel… right.” For someone caught in the middle of the adrenaline rush to end all adrenaline rushes, she was surprisingly relaxed. Cesarino continued to gain the upper hand against the angel, throwing it up against a wall and reaching into the hole that he’d dug into its skull, tearing out clumps of mucousy tissue and brain matter. The angel suffered a seizure of some kind, initially thrashing before being reduced to exhausted twitches and the occasional groan. In the end, it hadn’t really been a battle. The angel’s initial ability to fend him off had simply been down to him reenacting how the fight had gone in previous loops, before he’d managed to get a bead on how it fought and moved. From the very beginning, Cesarino had held every advantage.


As Cesarino relished in the sweet taste of victory over his opponent he would not notice at first the strange sensation spreading throughout his body. But as the angel’s struggles began to die down the sensation would grow more.

His body would begin to break down almost like ashes and cinders as the pieces began to fly towards the bottle placed in front of the magic circle as the witch kept chanting. He watched parts of him fly away. He didn’t react overtly. Was that due to confusion or an understanding of what came next? Evelyn spat blood. With each passing second, her injuries caught up with her. Bone fragments slid into the perforations in her muscles, blood seeped from the places in her bruises where her skin had torn. She was getting woozy.

As more of his body began to break down the more it appeared that the witch behind the spell was struggling to keep going as she was holding her arm with her other hand as she was sweating. It was obvious that she was trying her best to make sure that nothing went wrong for her ritual.

The air would be covered by pieces of the temporal abomination as they all fall down into the bottles. The angel would use the spectacle to move away and begin to repair itself as it injected itself with its own syringes and used the fluids from its mouth to create a mucus like bindings to attach it’s broken plates back to its body.

Eventually the whole being of Cesarino was nothing but dust as it was being sucked into the bottle until everything that consisted of him was fully subsumed into the glass prison.

The woman would quickly take out the top of the bottle and reach down to grab the bottle and slap the cap on it to make sure Cesarino didn’t escape. However she would soon grab it with both of her hands as the bottle began to shake.

“Bastard is still struggling!” she gritted her teeth as she tried to keep a tight grip on the bottle.


Evelyn looked down at her watch. It leapt forward a month before her eyes. It now claimed to be in February 2072. Cesarino was killing himself over and over again, using each loop to find a way to escape. Or maybe he’d just killed himself once after getting out the first time, travelling back to the present in order to utilise the information he’d gathered. Either way, the prison failed to hold him.

One of his arms pierced the glass bottle, flaying Elizabeth’s face with the resultant shrapnel. He crawled from the opening, billowing out of it in turgid clumps. He was different, more abominable. Smaller, more tightly condensed. A piece of paper, scrunched up to pass through a small gap. He unfolded before them. His skull parted, revealing a jaw lined with massive triangular teeth and mass of teeming, purple, prehensile tongues. The skin on his head had been pulled back, revealing a mass of bulging eyes on either side of his mouth. Hundreds of nostrils, ears and other orifices lined his neck. His arms were as thick as Evelyn’s thighs and his legs were bent backwards like the hindlimbs of a goat. He snarled animalistically, his voice low and loud enough to rattle her lungs. “Evelyn...” He intoned with perfect clarity. He stalked the circumference of the room, clawed fingers dragging unpleasantly against the concrete. “I love you.”

Evelyn clenched her teeth. She grabbed her pistol with shaking hands. Lifting the weapon was an effort unto itself. Pulling the trigger was an even greater exertion. Cesarino bounded to one side, moving with an almost eye-watering grace. He was a perfectly formed organ of war. Built for one purpose, reconfigured by himself to achieve one goal. He let his mouth open a slight amount, and tongues rolled out of the gaps between his teeth. He no longer looked like an abomination. Now he resembled an animal, perfected by what must have been years of self-modification.

She could barely walk. The pistol dangled uselessly in her grip. Her wrist bones stung and her vision was too blurry to think about taking another shot anyway. Her body was shutting down. She tried to motivate her legs into shifting her backwards. They just twitched, hardly lifting off the ground. Cesarino crept toward the witch, twisting his head one hundred and eighty degrees while he prowled, regarding her upside down.

The witch clutched her face after having the sharpnel cut her skin, covering her face with blood. She would curse in what sounded to be Welsh but a few words sounded odd.

“Fucking hell! I was sure sealing the prick would have worked!” the witch would take out a curved black knife with many serrated teeth, the handle covered by coarse bandages warpings with some of the bandages dangling down.

Evelyn tried to formulate a response. ‘He has infinite retries, remember?’ She couldn’t muster the strength to speak. Cesarino ripped a car door off its hinges and tossed it like a frisbee at Elizabeth. The witch would react quickly by ducking down as she saw the door fly over her as a colorful blur.

Cesarino leaned in, his breath hot and sickeningly organic on Elizabeth’s lips. He smelled of carrion and sulphur. “Clear out. This is our jurisdiction.” He echoed Evelyn’s words. From his perspective, how long had it been since he’d heard her say that? Years, it had to have been.

"Atom Deugdon Onion..."

Elizabeth uttered. She was reciting the words she heard of a gaulish binding curse. She is aware of how fiendishly difficult they are. Mess up just slightly on the pronunciation and the whole spell is useless. It is a dangerous type of magecraft to use in a fight but she is desperate now.

The witch raised her hand once more, her palms and fingers covered in her own blood.

"Ratin..."

She thought of what to say for the final one. Knowing full well that there are certain things she should not say with witnesses around yet fearing that any attempt to omit critical information would render her spell useless.

But she eventually relented and made her choice.

"Biuatom Ashworth Ieuru..."

A blue light briefly suffused Cesarino’s body. Conduits of power became visible to everyone for a single moment, a flash within which they became aware of the great chains binding the universe together. Rivers of energy flowed from place to place, curling around centres of commerce and being pulled into vortices about cracks in reality’s shell. The witch’s words compelled strings to pinch Cesarino’s flesh, filling his nerves with a compulsion to obey. He briefly froze as the spell came into effect, arresting his intentions. But the marionette strings were weak, and the puppeteer’s grip was loose. He shuddered and wrested control of one arm from her, pulling away from his bindings and swiping at her. One of his claws caught her abdomen, unzipping her at the waist. With that, her remaining control dispersed.

Evelyn squinted. “Did you literally say onion?” She seemed more offended by Elizabeth’s blunder than Cesarino’s impending mutilation of her.

The witch screamed out as her waist was exposed to the world. The act would serve to enrage her. So when Evelyn commented on the exact word she uttered that ruined her spell the witch turned to Evelyn.

“Piss off you ginger hussie. At least my attempts on stopping him could have worked if he didn’t have that sodding time power to cheat with.”

“I’m certain that shooting him in the head would have stopped him too if he didn’t have his powers either,” Evelyn mumbled.

Elizabeth’s hand snapped to her belt. She drew a silver revolver, firing a straight shot. It was a deft motion, replete in its utter efficiency. There shouldn’t have been any way for Cesarino to avoid the shot. Indeed, he didn’t. He caught the bullet with one of his tongues. The appendage burst open, showering the floor in bilious plum slick. Elizabeth leapt back from the droplets. Patches of Cesarino’s body turned gangrenous and rotted away, the decay spreading from the places where his fluids had landed. He grasped his rotting tongue and tore it out at the stem, tossing it onto the ground where it turned to mush. The putrefying patches on his body continued to fester, but he hardly noticed; he was already mostly made of tainted flesh anyway. “That should have turned his whole body to mush,” Elizabeth hissed. Evelyn’s legs gave way and she fell, catching herself on the edge of a chair. “And if that had been a regular bullet, catching it with his tongue wouldn’t have stopped it. He’s seen this before - can you stop killing him?”

The witch would take out another bullet and slide it into the chamber of her revolver and close it.

“No.”

She said bluntly as she pulled the trigger and shot the round at Cesarino’s face. The round being one made to banish the former metahuman away from the group. Most likely somewhere away while still on Earth, but a better outcome could be that the round banishes him into time itself. Have him be trapped in a purgatory of his own making due to his power.

This time, Cesarino struck before Elizabeth could. Black tendrils shot from his jaw and smacked aside her gun, causing the round to go wild. It struck a section of the wall, pulling a spherical region measuring about five metres wide into a singularity which then promptly popped out of existence. Air rushed in to fill the gap, causing a deafening boom. Elizabeth grunted. “That was a banishment round - if it had hit him in any loop, he wouldn’t have been able to return. We’re past the point that he’s rehearsed for.” Evelyn tched. “Not likely. He could’ve just killed himself after reaching whichever place he was banished to.” She was beginning to appreciate the witch’s presence, though. She had a straightforward demeanour and the skills to back it up. Although frankly, it seemed like they were all out of options.

“Ashworth.” the witch suddenly announced. “If we are gonna die here I want you to know my name, if only partially.” she would try to reach into her pocket to take out another cigarette.

Cesarino abruptly leapt on top of Elizabeth, grabbing her wrists with his tongues and squeezing until her joints popped. The witch screamed. He dislocated both of her arms and tossed her into a pile of boxes nearby. Landing in cardboard was supposed to be relatively safe, but the edges of the crates felt like daggers being forced into her back. She struck her head against a piece of metal and slumped, blood pooling on her collar. Cesarino let out a self-satisfied snarl, his many mouths bending into smiles.

Evelyn slipped a pocket knife from the pocket of a nearby guard. She could tell that Cesarino hadn’t gotten this far before. He expressed too much caution to be familiar with the events that would follow on from the present. But how was that supposed to help her? He was the size of a moose and she was barely able to stand. She looked at her watch. June, 2072. He was eighty seven years old. Fifty two years - he’d spent fifty two years trying to reach her. Dreaming, coming up with a list of things that he wanted to do with her, entrenching himself in increasingly elaborate fantasies. His ownership of her would not be a fleeting thing. She had to fight it. Her terror compelled her to.

“Average redditor goes outside,” she whispered. She threw caution to the wind and broke out into a sprint. Cesarino was sure to overcome her if she gave him the slightest bit of predictability to work with. He welcomed her advance, flicking a tongue at her heel. In spite of his size and power, she possessed a number of inherent advantages, reaction times being one of them. She vaulted over the strike. His appendage passed over broken glass, filling it with lacerations. He swiped at her with a clawed hand. If he’d been acting with the intention of murdering her, it would’ve ripped her open like a bag of chips. However, he was trying to keep her alive, and thus he was moving more slowly than usual. She rolled to her left and spun around, slashing through the tendons in his limb. The blade jerked violently and the plastic casing cracked, but she managed to pull the weapon all the way through his flesh nonetheless.

He leaned forward on his injured foot, grunting in an all-too-human way. “Evelyn...” he breathed her name. “Evelyn!” A tongue smacked her across the face. She was dazed for just a split second, an infinitesimal moment of vulnerability. But, within that transient moment, another tongue wrapped around her throat and clamped her trachea shut. She gurgled involuntarily as she was dragged on her knees across the floor. His appendages caressed her body, wrapping around her waist and flicking her lip. One of them pressed insistently at her mouth. “I love you.” It was a one-sided declaration of fact, with no room for her to deny his affection. He placed a claw on her sternum, poking a hole in the fabric. “Evelyn...” She drew her pistol and fired into the tongue that was wrapped around her throat. It punched holes in the tar like flesh but its grip did not loosen. He smacked the weapon out of her hands. The opportunity to go out on her own terms spun away with it. He pulled open her mouth and assaulted her with what might have been his interpretation of a kiss. Defiling tendrils filled her throat. He tasted like burnt plastic. She gagged.

She was barely conscious at that point. No matter how much she wished for them to set in though, neither sleep nor death graced her failing body. Cesarino wasn’t choking the life out of her. His stranglehold was gentle, almost intimate, and loose enough that she couldn’t possibly pass out. He wanted her to feel him, to be aware of every moment that they spent intertwined. She wasn’t thinking of a way to escape anymore, she was just trying to distract herself from what was happening to her. Her mind, which had previously been so focused, now meandered from place to place, eschewing her senses in order to dull her perception of Cesarino’s invasion of her dignity. She was in too much pain and too deprived of oxygen to do that, though. She was trapped in her own body, forced to live through excruciating moments. His claw travelled down her abdomen, now resting against her heart. In one last and barely considered act of desperation, she grabbed the empty syringe from her coat pocket and plunged it into the back of Cesarino’s neck. No reaction. She wasn’t even sure if the tip was managing to break through his skin. If it was causing any pain at all, it was being overwhelmed by the sheer pleasure that he was deriving from the situation. His breath was moggy, his mind set on exploiting every last succulence that her body could offer.

As the monster’s mind was occupied with the red head on his clutches he would not realize that one of the previous fighters would rise up. The only clue to a new opponent would be the chattering clicking noises of something before he would feel something stab him from behind, injecting something into his body.

Behind him was Selaphiel, the angel now fully recovered from it’s injuries. The creature would curse him out in its native, incomprehensible, language before it jumped back and flew away before he could attack it. The paralysis within his body would quickly spread throughout. He grabbed the creature by its limbs as it tried to flee, screeching in an ear-splitting rage. He ripped it into halves and scraped out its insides, exhibiting a strength that he’d never shown before. The angel had fought him from before his entry into Elizabeth’s bottle. He was far more powerful now, and far angrier. The paralytic poison seeped out of him, being purged from his body in the form of a sickly yellow venom.

His gaze snapped back toward Evelyn as she lay on her back, holding a syringe full of his spinal fluid in one hand. “Evelyn!!“ He roared. Every emanation that came from him made her feel increasingly small, increasingly powerless, increasingly the victim. He belched his tongues at her again, this time aiming to immobilise her. In her last moment of freedom, acting out of nothing but intuition and rashness, she plunged the needle into the base of her skull and depressed the plunger.

Something ran through her. A sudden awareness, like taking off a blindfold that she’d been wearing her entire life. She saw a scene in her mind’s eye, an image burned into reality’s back, the branding iron still hot. Understanding what had just occurred she rolled over, grabbed her gun, and shot Cesarino in the head.



28th of April, 8:12am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland
Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427591, 461097:53:28
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 1, 00:00:00


Evelyn opened her eyes. She was about a dozen feet away from Cesarino. A mass of black tongues dangled from between his jaws. She could hardly see, hear or feel. Her senses slowly came online, as did Cesarino’s. She scrambled to her feet, looking into his eyes. She remembered everything. His attack, Selaphiel’s intervention, and killing Cesarino. Her watch beeped.

She exhaled, then giggled, then laughed. “I remember.” She rolled the words off her tongue. “I remember the last loop.” Cesarino fell back, hissing like a startled cat. She tapped on the back of her skull, where she’d plunged the needle full of Cesarino’s fluids during the last loop. She spat black saliva, left over from his tongue. “You still want me, don’t you?” She placed a hand on her chest. The uppermost section of her shirt had been cut open, leaving one of her buttons rolling on the ground. She had a sick cadence underlying her voice. A sadistic, violent smirk smeared her features.
Last edited by Menschenfleisch on Fri Oct 29, 2021 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Britanania
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 25380
Founded: Feb 15, 2011
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Britanania » Fri Oct 29, 2021 3:37 pm

Apostolic Palace, Holy See, Vatican City State, 1700, 15 May 2020

Vincenzo Cardinal Agosti walked as silently as he could through the halls of the Apostolic Palace. Fridays were days of penance and fasting, and the Secretary of the Congregation of the Holy Office knew that His Holiness, after the Holy Sacrifice, liked to pray in front of a Cross for the majority of the day. Even so, the cardinal had to discuss the matter with the Bishop of Rome.

Leo XIV was a scholarly man by training and preference. A Benedictine, back when he was just the Archbishop of Armagh, he was the one who negotiated the concordat between the Holy See and the Morrigan. Elected five years ago, he has maintained the delicate balance of religion not only in Western Europe but globally.

As Vincenzo entered the chapel, the pope was already rising, having heard his footsteps.

"Sanctus Pater," he began, kneeling to the pope as he turned towards the cardinal and kissed his ring before rising. "Hic est super Conferente Pechini."

Leo nodded politely.

"Decidi ire," he informed him. Vincenzo seemed a little shocked, but rubbed his hands together somewhat nervously, having hoped the pope would have reconsidered.

"Et periculum?"

"Existimavi periculum, Vincentius," he said with a warm smile. "Ibo Conferentem Pechini," Leo replied as he started walking out of the chapel, leaving Vincenzo stunned and distraught as he made the sign of the cross.

"Madonne!"




Forbidden City, Beijing, 20 May 2020

The Papal Assembly arrived in time for the Empress' display of metahuman power and began to mingle with the other delegates. This was the Pope's first official trip outside of Italy.
Christus vincit; Christus regnat; Christus imperat
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Miekzhemy
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Founded: Sep 24, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Miekzhemy » Fri Oct 29, 2021 7:50 pm

Major Nayaniin Adyaa-Baghatur
Corporal Jie Xiu-ren



Yuan Expeditionary Forces - 16th 'Dzambul' Honor Guard

Flemington Racecourse - Melbourne, East Asian Sector
Victoria, Australia

17 May, 2020
0700



The past two weeks had been a different kind of hectic for them.

After their crushing victory at Mt. Buller, much of the Yuan forces had been thankfully relegated to occupation duties in and around Victoria. Few had complaints about this arrangement, given the chaos that characterized this multi-national coalition thus far. It was daunting enough for Marshal Zundui to properly coordinate the diverse forces of East Asia alone, but to throw the rest of the Dynastic powers into the mix at the same time? It was a wonder how they managed to secure that mountain stronghold without an international incident...

But for them, it seemed the worst had already passed. For while their non-Meta forces handled the task of garrisoning the land they had covered, the remaining members of the Honor Guard still stationed in Australia had a new task at hand.

Within a crowded mess tent, Corporal Jie sat alone at one of the long tables, her modest breakfast now little more than an empty tray in front of her. In a sea of navy-blue uniforms, she was one of the handful that wore an immaculate button-up jacket of faded beige, though the red-gold accents on the cuffs, collar and shoulders matched that of her fellow soldiers. As they idly chatted and ate around her, she began to regret never bothering to learn enough Mongolian to properly converse with them. For a time, the Chinese woman ran a hand through her black hair, tied back in a long ponytail and crowned with an eagle's feather. Gritting her teeth, she craned her stiff neck to the side, braving the dull pain until it was finally relieved in the form of a satisfying pop.

She looked up just in time for another light-jacketed figure to slide onto the bench across from her.

Tserendorj was a Mongol. A well-built man with a stocky frame, despite the lack of enhancement the rest of the Honor Guard possessed. His hair was trimmed into a faded mohawk, ending in a long braid that also bore a similar feather. He seemed more rugged than usual, as if he had returned from another mission. It would explain why she hadn't seen him in some days. For a second, their dim red eyes started at one another, touched with a semblance of otherworldly magicks. They were marks. Marks of their station. Their ability. Their oath.

Jie ever-so-slightly outstretched a hand, and spoke in Mandarin.

"...what?"

Perking his brows, Tserendorj held up a half-folded paper between his fingers, and laid it down. Jie blinked.

"Who's that?"

He flipped the poster around, his middle finger sliding it across the table. Jie leaned inward for a better look.

"Santiago Menzendorf," Tserendorj said, oddly enunciating his syllables. "Son of the Resistance governor."

"I thought the Nazis caught him weeks ago?"

"Nah, that was the other son," he shook his head, and tapped the crudely printed picture. He slouched forward a bit.

"Rumour has it this one fought at Buller--"

"Then he's probably dead," Jie cut him off, speaking matter-of-factly. She shot him a dismissive gesture. "And we just haven't found a body."

"Unless he deserted," Tserendorj argued with a shrug. "Remember the ID bands, left behind? Probably the only way he could've escaped, after what Duan pulled off with the encirclement. Or, couldn't pull off, rather."

Jie grumbled to herself. "And here we are still mopping up the splinter groups," She paused, idly drumming her fingers upon the table. "What do they even want with him, anyway? Looks like just another conscripted kid."

"Info? More leverage? I don't know, not my job," he said, eliciting a frown from the woman. "You know how these work by now. Command wants them, we go get them, simple as that." His lips curled into a joking smirk. "Better than doing recon for the Russians up in Canberra, right?"

She begrudgingly agreed on that front. "Good point..."

A cold voice intruded on their conversation.

"Corporal Jie."

Major Adyaa stood rigid and straight, looming over the pair at the table with a stony look on his face, his expression as aloof as his tone. A poncho-like cloak of olive green was draped over his blue uniform, and a hand was clutched around the strap of the long rifle slung over his shoulder. His presence jolted the previously-tired woman wide awake. She shot up to her feet.

"Major."

"Come," was all Adyaa said before turning his back. Jie blinked again, deadpanning for a moment at his lack of explanation. What did he want with her? She momentarily looked to the still-seated Tserendorj. And annoyingly enough, that smug grin on his face just screamed "I'm glad I'm not you right now..."

Damn it! She raced to snatch up the folded bounty paper she had been shown, before taking off after the Major.

"May I-- Major," Jie stammered, following Adyaa out of the mess tent and into the cleared-out park, most of which had been repurposed into a base of operations for the cavalry and Honor Guard. Even this early in the morning, it was bustling with activity.

"Could I ask what this is about? Sir..."

"The rogue Metahuman we encountered outside of Buller," he droned, almost knowing that alone would jog her memory. "There have been sightings in the wetlands north of there that match their description."

The deserters, she recalled. The ones that narrowly escaped the mountaineers with their lives some weeks ago. Judging by their skillful job tracking them already, they probably could have pursued the lot of them right then and there, but Buller's capture had taken precedence. "Have we gained any more information on their abilities?"

"A transfigurer. Alteration of some sort," Adyaa explained as he led the way towards a landing pad, currently preparing a helicopter. "Too dangerous to let run amok, needless to say."

"And if they get away again?"

"They won't."
I'm just a guy that likes playing video games, drawing, acting/musical theatre, piano, rp, and impersonating people with a spunky disposition.

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Naval Monte
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Naval Monte » Sat Oct 30, 2021 2:28 am

Evelyn S. Retherford, Sophia Ashworth, and Ryugo and Ryuju Saeki | A collaboration between Menschenfleisch, Naval Monte and Nagakawa | Part 3 of 3

28th of April, 8:12am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland
Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427591, 461097:53:28
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 1, 00:00:00


The first to awaken was Ashworth. The witch let out a loud groan as she placed her hand on her forehead, wincing in pain and in disgust as she felt her hand touching something sticky.

“Right. I’m bleeding out because of that fat fuck.” she muttered as she tried to move up only to wince as she flopped back on to the ground.

“Yep. I broke something.” she wanted to scream more in annoyance than in pain over her current predicament. “I just hope the bastard is having too much fun ‘playing’ with Red to focus on me.” The witch slowly tried to get back up, wincing and hissing as she could feel her back and chest protesting in pain.

There was no doubt that she broke something from the last hit alright.

Ashworth would slowly get back on to her feet and hold on to her chest with one hand as she looked for survivors.

Evelyn and Cesarino were locked in a standoff. She clenched her pistol, fingers wrapped around the contour of its grip. Nine bullets.

Elizabeth sat up, working the pain out of her joints. “Is he trying to do a literal mindfuck or are they having an actual Mexician standoff?”

Cesarino backed off, flicking his tongues to and fro, looking for openings. Evelyn knew when she was being sized up. “You don’t know what to do now that I’m off script, do you?” She snap-fired at his eye and put a hole in his head. It took him a moment to die, congealed lumps of pink brain tissue pouring out of his skull.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427592, 461097:54:29
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 2, 00:01:01


“I know there’s enough of the old Cesarino left within you to parse what I’m saying. You’ve had four years out of the safe room - that’s long enough for a baby to pick a language up.” Cesarino shook off his confusion and sprinted right for Evelyn. His powerful calves indented the concrete. She leapt back and swiped a machete off a nearby table. It was clearly some old soldier’s ornament, but it was sharp enough for her purposes. He lashed out at her with his tongues. She slashed the first few down but was caught by the remainder. He had a dozen of the things, far too many for her to overcome. Once again, they wrapped around her neck. This time, though, she didn’t fight him as he reeled her in. Instead, she rolled forward - aided by Cesarino’s effort to pull her head into his jaw - and surged upward right as she came to a stop before him, skewering his lower jaw with the blade. She put a hand on his nose and used the leverage to force her weapon up through the remainder of his skull. It burst out of the crown of his head, spraying her with slanted shards of cranial bone.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427593, 461097:55:24
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 3, 00:01:56


“I had two options. The first was to do nothing and let you win. I would’ve suffered an agonising death, but from my perspective I only would’ve experienced it once.” This time he strafed left and ran for cover, circumnavigating the entire room while bounding between cars and shelves in order to throw off her aim. She picked up a jerry can of gasoline, intercepted his spiralling path with it, and fired at its base. The first shot ruptured the casing. The second ignited the resultant vapour, creating a noxious conflagration that enveloped the front of his body. His fluids boiled, membranes rupturing with sickening moist pops. “The other path that I could’ve taken was injecting your CSF into my brain, preserving my experiences across loops. So either I spend the next few years fending you off or being violated at your hands and remembering all of it.” Cesarino was blinded by the flames. She smashed his skull in with a crowbar, digging the arm into his eye socket and pulling his head open like she was ripping down drywall.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427594, 461097:56:31
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 4, 00:03:03


Cesarino heaved and shuddered, dazed from the last loop. The flesh around his head was a little deformed - a token of how he’d just died. He spat out a lump of black flesh, a severed tongue carried over from another reset. “Look at you,” Evelyn remarked. “You can barely hold yourself back. You’re down so bad.” He flung himself at her, stumbling over himself as he bayed, howled, screamed her name. He moved less like an animal and more like the awkward, gangling humanoid that’d first walked out of the safe room. She raised her knee to meet him.

Without the benefit of infinite retries, Cesarino was clumsy and predictable. Before, he’d been relying on foreknowledge to predict Evelyn’s motions. Deprived of that advantage, her natural ability to read his movements took precedence. Her attack was easy, almost relaxed. It knocked his head to one side and tripped him up, causing him to skid to a halt a few feet away from her. “You are unbelievably weak.” She condescended him with a honeylike tone. “You’ve been trying to have your way with me for how long now, four years? You’re the most cuckolded man in history.” She slipped a butterfly knife from a nearby corpse and made a wide slash in Cesarino’s direction. He wrapped his jaws around her arm and swallowed it up to the shoulder. Hot blood soaked her sleeve, as did no small amount of viscid saliva. She heard her humerus snap and the fabric of her jacket rip.

Cesarino had no way of retaining his balance though, having to stand up on his two hindlegs in order to retain his grip on Evelyn. He thrashed from side to side, trying to knock her over. He was quite heavy, but his size was deceptive. He was only slightly heavier than he had been as a normal person, with most of his body being porous and highly giving. She grabbed him by the neck and pulled back her broken arm as far as it would go, disregarding how his teeth shredded her bicep and how his tongues pulled down on her wrist with incredible force. She twirled the knife, severing his appendages at their bases, and tore herself free. Her arm spun out of his mouth, alongside purplish serpents; the remains of his tentacular limbs.

In truth, Cesarino was not especially strong. He was still an animal, possessed of enough strength to kill her with his bare hands, but he was anything but overwhelming. Evelyn felt like she was fighting a wolf. Something keen, powerful and swift, but fallible. She stepped back while Cesarino drowned in his own fluids.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427595, 461097:57:53
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 5, 00:04:25


Cesarino pulled at his own nails, breaking the skin and tearing out the webbing between his claws. He patiently reshaped himself, mutilating his body in all sorts of places. Evelyn stood by, nursing her aching arm. “How much pleasure could you possibly derive from me? Is it worth any of this?” She exhaled through her teeth. “I’ve never been with anyone, but nothing can be that good.” Cesarino snapped his spine in numerous locations and ripped out his own vocal chords, twirling them around his fingers. He worked with his own flesh with the finesse of a tailor, performing acts of rudimentary engineering in order to reconfigure his limbs. He bled out over and over again, constantly taking them back to the beginning of the loop and undoing most of his work. Nonetheless, some of his changes stuck. Over time, as he peeled back his nails and sewed his skin shut with strands of tendon, his constitution shifted. At one point during the process he was just intestines and unbound ligatures. Nonetheless, eventually, his new form started to take shape.

He was more of a man now, though his body was still an entanglement of bones and muscle. There was a membrane of brown fat around him, mounted on desiccated ochre skin. Chitinous plates lay on the flat planes of his limbs, underpinned by cushions of adipose. There were zippers full of teeth all over his torso, distended mouths flanked by eyes and triangular ridges which might have once been noses. His hands terminated in blunt, articulate fingers. His head was covered in triangular plates, behind which lay a vertical seam filled with yellow teeth and cords of sagging muscle. From a distance he might’ve been mistaken for a human, disregarding the way that he glistened under the light and the unnatural way in which he moved, twitching from place to place and forcing his boot-shaped, keratinous feet into the ground with every step. He clenched his fist and his fingertips clicked against his hardened palm. A low warble escaped his chest. At first Evelyn thought it was his voice, until he emitted a malevolent rasp from his mouth, accompanied by insectoid chittering, like a chorus of flies batting their wings. The noise within his chest, then, was his heartbeat. It was arrhythmic, hysterical, pounding against the walls of his torso. He visibly bloated each time that it expanded, with blood weeping from his exposed muscles.

Evelyn tilted her head back and sighed. Repetition had long since deprived his horrendous deformations of their novelty.



The second time Ryugo and Ryuju came to, they found themselves standing again outside the building inside which Cesarino was trapped. The sky was dark - it was either twilight, or the early hours before dawn. Their weapons were heavy, the magazines already fully loaded when they opened their eyes.

Neither of the two brothers said a word to each other. Ryuju, immediately placing his hands on his rifle, which remained slung round the front of his torso, turned his head briefly and cast an affirmative wink at his brother as he headed into the building. Ryugo returned the gesture. They both knew what to do.

Even as they entered the building, for the third time, the two twins were well and truly aware of the immense fatigue that tugged at their bodies as if trying to drag them back into some hole from which they had just escaped. It was no longer just that they felt tired - the tiredness was all there was. Everything else was muscle memory.

“It’s not just me… is it?” Ryuju, entering in front of Ryugo, quickly cleared the now empty corridors, his movements a little more sluggish than in the previous loops. “Every time it bloody loops, I feel like I’m being eaten alive.”

“I feel it too”, said Ryugo. They had some resistance to Cesarino’s ability, whether they knew it or not - enough to let them know when time had been pulled back.

Ryugo, watching the back for traps, had pulled out his pistol, leaving his rifle to hang round his neck. The air in the building was stifling, like an abandoned sauna that had been left to continue steaming and fermenting all the grime that had built up. The saliva in his mouth had turned sour, and he could feel a strange bristling sensation in the back of his throat every time he inhaled, as if it was being sandpapered.

Strangely enough, however, the building almost felt smaller than it had before. Perhaps it was the absence of guards this time, which meant that the brothers could clear the rooms more quickly. Or maybe it was that they were more familiar?

“Cesarino~ where are you?” For some reason, the door to the usual room had been left open. Still keeping his rifle up, Ryuju pressed his body against the wall, counting to three with one hand outstretched, before bursting through the doorway with his rifle up, followed closely by Ryugo, who lifted his pistol and swept it round the room in a wide arc, ready to fire at any moment.

The scene this time was similar to when last they’d left the building. Surrounded by the carpet in the middle of the room were Cesarino and Evelyn, still squared off as they had been near the end of the last loop. Piles of boxes lay strewn around the room - a woman, the same one they had seen earlier, lay wounded in one of those piles. Here, the air had become so thick as to be almost suffocating.

“Go check on the woman there”, said Ryugo to Ryuju, who carefully lowered his rifle and leapt towards where the wounded witch lay, still making sure to keep Cesarino in the corner of his eye as Ryugo, pistol in hand, inched slowly towards the beastly man.

Evelyn tilted her head toward the boys. She didn’t seem as grim. In fact, she was smiling ear to ear. “Hello boys,” she laughed, before turning her gaze back on Cesarino. “What a wonderful gift. We have what, an eternity to spend with one another?” She lowered her head, tapping her fingers against the pistol on her belt. “Why don’t we get started?” She nodded at the Saeki’s. “Thanks for coming back. I remember the loops now. Should only be my problem.”

“All part of the job”, said Ryuju, crouched over Ashworth. Her vitals seemed in order - in as bad shape as she seemed, she was going to be fine. “What now, then?”

“We kill him, over and over again, until he either gives up or he dies of old age. It’ll be a few years down the gutter for me, but that shouldn’t be an issue for you.” There was a grey fog behind his eyes. The mist of dementia, slowly picking away at whatever remnants of his intellect remained. Evelyn felt a viscous cold wash over her, like suddenly being plunged into freezing water. Time snapped to a halt for just a second, then went on. “Cesarino just set a save point. I guess that’s our cue to begin.”

“Aye. I can do that.” Ryugo raised his pistol, training it at Cesarino’s face.

She fired a sighter shot at his thigh. The bullet flattened against the plate, flying off to one side. Cesarino broke out into a sprint, pulling back one hand in anticipation of a gut-liquefying punch.

Sophia took out her revolver. “Clear!” she told everyone as she pulled the trigger and fired another round. When the round pierce through Cesarino’s skin the hole would produce steam as his blood began to boil and his skin sizzled and cooked from the intense heat the bullet was producing and increasing. It blew a chunk out of him, giblets of burnt meat scattering across the ground. It didn’t slow him down especially, though.

Right as he came down on Evelyn, she thrust out her arm and fired a shot point blank into his carapacinous skull. As he flinched, sparks flying, she wrapped around him and kicked him in the back of the leg, forcing him onto one knee. She took an executioner’s stance and fired into his temple. Again, the bullet bounced off. His armour split down the middle as cracks traversed its polished surface, dribbling black blood. He smacked her arm aside and went in for a grab, but she fell back faster than he could lash out, leaving him off balance and reeling. “Careful there boy,” she whispered.

Three bursts of compressed air exploded through the poorly-ventilated room. Now it was Ryugo’s turn to fire, and that he did - three rhythmic shots, two hitting Cesarino in the collarbones and the third grazing past his neck and smashing into the wall behind him. Crouched beside the wounded woman in the boxes, Ryuju raised his rifle and fired a single decisive shot, barely an instant after Ryugo had fired, sending a single 5.56mm round tearing into Cesarino’s abdomen.

Scraps of incandescent chitin ricocheted off his chest. He fell back, emitting an unpleasant, oily gurgle. There was a concave in his neck. His armour hadn’t been breached, but his windpipe was in shambles. He spasmed on the ground and forced a hand into his own mouth, pulling it wide and sticking a finger down. They all heard a noise like a chip packet being crinkled, and his throat popped out again, restoring airflow. Evelyn winced, although she didn’t truly feel any vicarious sensation.

Sophia would fire another round and whereas the previous one was meant to cook it’s victim from the inside out the new round she fired was instead freezing his blood and everything around him until even his skin and bones were freezing over.

As the body began to freeze over Sophia would take out her black, curved, knife. “I’m getting annoyed with these restarts but if it means we can finally kill the bastard I can go through a few more.” The witch would let out a loud scream as she charged forward towards the mostly frozen monster.

His movements were sluggish due to the cold that as he tried to swat her away like a bug Sophia effortlessly dodged them. The witch would be close to his face and she would proceed to stab his eye with her knife.

She would keep stabbing the monster over and over until she forced him to restart. Blood absolutely matted her, saturating her hair and soaking into her shirt. Eventually she started striking the concrete behind his skull, and his head adopted the consistency of cake mix. It was like she was whisking eggs.

“Calm down Hot Topic,” Evelyn smirked right before the reset. It wasn’t like Sophia would remember, anyway.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427601, 461098:01:02
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 11, 00:07:44


They were six loops deep now. Cesarino started off the match by ripping the armour off his left arm and slamming it down onto his right, pushing forward at Ryugo. Undeterred by the man’s hulking size, Ryugo dropped his level suddenly and shot for Cesarino’s left leg, coiling his arms around the back of his knee and pressing his head into his flabby midriff, before yanking his leg upwards and, with a deft step, swept Cesarino’s other leg out from under him, sending him slamming into the ground, just outside of the boundary of the carpet. The corpulent man’s head whipped backwards into the concrete floor with a horrid cracking sound.

There was hardly time to celebrate. Cesarino took the hit with surprising grace, wrapping his arms around Ryugo’s waist and opening his mouth. A black tongue lashed out and coiled around his head, constricting not with strangling force, but crushing pressure. The teeth in his jaw pressed against one another intolerably, and the plates of his skull began to pass over one another like tectonic plates subducting their peers.

The pain in Ryugo’s skull was beyond description. He winced and fought hard to keep his eyes open, shakily reaching for his pistol and drawing it out. Cesarino’s grotesque face stared back at him - the man’s demoniac tongue was like the tentacle of some deep sea octopus, his mouth like a gaping ravine in a rotting wasteland marinating the corpses of many a fallen traveller, his beady, wicked eyes squinting from under heavy bags that quivered lecherously, almost like the lids had been cut off and replaced with vulvas. It took every last ounce of energy he had to discipline himself not to empty the pistol at random - one shot was all it required.

Before Ryugo could pull the trigger, however, the tentacle had loosened, as Cesarino fell limp into the ground, his tongue torn off by two strategically-aimed rounds fired by Ryuju from barely a metre away. The creature screeched and spat a blinding, acidic scum in the man’s face, blinding Ryugo, who screamed in pain and clawed at his eyes as he fell to the ground. It rolled out from under him and roared at Evelyn.

“Alright boy, let’s have it.” She grabbed a metal plate and held it up before Cesarino’s fist. It indented the steel. Her elbows made audible cracking sounds and bruises blossomed throughout her skin. But curiously, blood spurted from Cesarino’s joints as well, and his arm shortened slightly, like the bones within it had fractured and were sliding over one another. His strength was so great that it could shatter his own brittle bones. He struck her twice more before her wrist joint exploded. It bulged for a disgusting moment before going limp.

Sophia used the distraction brought forth by everyone else to summon a new creature upon the Earth. The creature was the exact size of a grizzly bear. It’s skin was black and slick, oily substance coated it’s body. It had many tendrils on it’s shoulders and back, it’s mouth was covered in tentacles, and it gazed upon Ceasrino with three red slits for eyes. It’s limbs were long and each ended with claws.

The creature would roar at the monster as the sky began to darken. The creature would charge towards the monster as thunder echoed from the heavens.

The creature, known as an Endomorph, would jump into the air and sink its claws into Ceaserino. It’s tentacles would stab through his flesh and it would sink it’s mouth to rip chunks out of him as the tentacles destroyed everything in their path.

The creature would jump away, taking a large chunk of the monster, as a lightning bolt conjured from the heavens would strike at the insane time jumper.

Creating an intense flash that blinded everyone and would result in the next loop starting.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427602, 461098:01:30
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 12, 00:08:12


Cesarino started off the match by ripping the armour off his left arm and slamming it down onto his right, pushing forward at Ryugo. Undeterred by the man’s hulking size, Ryugo dropped his level suddenly and shot for Cesarino’s left leg, coiling his arms around the back of his knee and pressing his head into his flabby midriff. Cesarino twisted unnaturally, ducking to one side as Ryugo’s hands met with air. The monster was preternaturally fast, acting in the same instant that Ryugo committed to his attack. It grabbed the man by the ankle and flung him at his brother, his body flying in circles as it ragdolled across the room.

“Ack!” Crashing into the boxes, both Ryugo and Ryuju scrambled back to their feet and pointed their rifles at the man.

Cesarino snarled and leapt to one side, though he didn’t move any closer. “You’re lost, aren’t you?” Evelyn taunted it. “It was a nice try, repeating your tactic like that. I’m not going to let it happen again.” She rolled forward, tearing a hunting rifle from a dead man’s hands and firing at centre mass. Cesarino didn’t even allow it to plink off his armoured chest, instead he flicked it to one side with his over armoured arm, snarling at her as if to intimidate. At the same time, both of the twins opened fire from a different angle, catching Cesarino off guard and riddling his unarmoured side with bloody, flower-like wounds. They both emptied their magazines - the distinctive, sickly sweet smell of gunsmoke filled the room.

His limb was completely perforated, reducing it to a sulphurous mush clinging to his body like a slug to a leaf. They all understood that this was a reset. Though, before his death could be sealed, in one last act of defiance he plunged his armoured, remaining hand into a car door and tore it off its hinges, flinging it like a frisbee at Ryuju. It roared after its own projectile, throwing a tantrum, but the attack was obvious enough - a spiked wall of ice exploded from the ground, shattering the door and impaling Cesarino straight through to the other side of the wall, cutting his scream short.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427643, 461098:29:45
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 53, 00:36:27


Cesarino immediately flung a car door at Ryuju, tore the armour off its left arm and added it to its right, sprinted toward Sophia and used its tongue to pick up a mouthful of flesh from a dead guard, spitting out a several dozen metre long plume of gore at her face, intending to blind her. Evelyn ran to intercept, though she was substantially slower. She pawed a crowbar along the way.

Ceasarino partially succeeded with blinding her with the attack, however the witch would still move out of the way from her previous position. More importantly when the monster stepped on the spot she was he would trigger a pentacle that was drawn on the ground. The magic circle would trap the monster on the spot for a few minutes, allowing for the witch to escape and to pin him down so everyone else can damage him.

Cesarino, whether because he’d seen the attack before or just because of luck, didn’t fall for the snare. He lashed out at her with his tongue, slashing her across the cheek with a bladed tip. When had he added that modification to himself? Nonetheless, he grasped her by the thigh and slammed her into a wall, intending to paint the warehouse with her blood.

In the air Sopha would quickly trace a glyph on her hand while chanting something. When she hit the warehouse she would scream in utter agony as she could feel her bones shatter from the impact and feel something within burst open. However she did not become a bloody smear on the wall as intended. The glyph she drew on her hand was a protection spell that mitigated some of the physical damages that were inflicted. However in this case it only prevented her from dying.

As Sophia fell down to the ground her body bounced and the witch remained motionless, her body wracked with too much pain to do anything.

The car door had caught Ryuju off guard, and it smashed straight into his face. He flew to the side and crumpled into the ground, posting up off of the ground to prevent himself from smashing face first into the ground. Ryuju could feel a horrible pressure build up behind his eye socket - his orbital had been fractured. It felt like his eyeball had ruptured, and a strange liquid sensation built up in his cheek.

Biting his lip to stifle the pain, he pulled his pistol out of its holster and emptied all ten rounds into Cesarino at close range. The monster howled and lost its grip as it tried to slam Sophia against another hard surface. It turned, shifting its entire mass toward the man so that it could reach out, grab a shelf and topple it on top of him.

Evelyn chose that moment to leap in and force the end of her crowbar under the plated flap on his head. She peeled it off him. The plates were tough and resilient when faced with a frontal attack, but pulling them off his body was hardly more difficult than parting velcro. She forced the claw into the exposed lobe of his cranium and ripped it out, showering herself in a deluge of brain matter and humours. A white eye, soft as a lychee, stuck to her shirt as Cesarino fell to the floor.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24427699, 461099:08:19
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 109, 01:15:01


Cesarino immediately flung a car door at Ryuju, tore the armour off its left arm and added it to its right, sprinted toward Sophia and used its tongue to pick up a mouthful of flesh from a dead guard, spitting out a several dozen metre long plume of gore at her face, intending to blind her. Evelyn shot Ryuju in the toe, causing him to flinch below the car door. It sailed over his head, catching his hair and ripping out a handful. “Sorry!“ She shouted.

A large bound of earth would rise up and block the shower of gore before it can hit Sophia. The bound would begin to morph as its shape began to resemble a large humanoid.

The golem would remain close to the witch as she prepared her next spell.

Once the chanting was down she would scream loudly as she threw her hands forward. Ceasrino would feel all of his nerves short circuit as he was paralyzed as he felt an intense pain come from his head. It felt as though a burning knife cut deep into his mind and was forcing him to feel every single pain he inflicted on others.

Lying crippled on the ground, Ryuju nevertheless knew what to do. Even as he winced in pain, forcing himself not to look at his shattered ankle, he once again reached for his pistol and emptied it. Only five out of ten rounds found their target, but it seemed to be distraction enough to turn Cesarino’s attention towards Ryuju as he lay on the ground. No sooner had he been distracted by Ryuju than Ryugo, also with a pistol in hand, emptied his magazine also into the man, before tossing the emptied weapon aside and raising his rifle, again opening fire and aiming for Cesarino’s abdomen.

The barrage flung him backwards. Durable though he may have been, he wasn’t capable of simply walking through a hail of bullets. As he fell backwards, Evelyn squeezed one eye shut and aimed downrange, placing her nine bullets in the gaps between his armour which presented themselves while he flailed. Geysers of hot blood burst out of him.

Sophia commanded the golem to finish him off. The rock creature would stomp forward as it’s right hand grew in size. Once the golem was close it would raise it’s enlarged fist and slam it down on his face.

The blow would cause blood to splat all over. The golem would raise it’s fist and bring it down again, and again, and again, and again. It won’t stop until another restart occured.

From there, the loops kept iterating. Every fight became rehearsed, every opening memorised and every motion perfectly choreographed. They stopped thinking about overpowering each other, outspeeding one another - the only thing that mattered was the plan, whether they’d catch the other person out on their mistake or not. Over tens of thousands of iterations, Evelyn stopped thinking about the money, stopped thinking about anything other than her duel with this unrelenting, evolving monster. It was exhilarating, beyond exciting, to face something so unambiguously and simply hostile to her, and which changed so often. She internalised contingencies, realised every one of his weaknesses, exploited every blind spot and misfired motion and unnecessary muscular twitch - and he did the same to her. He maimed her so many times, only for her teammates to bail her out.

By the ten thousandth iteration, they’d progressed far past the point where the Saeki’s and Ashworth were the most domineering forces on the battlefield. Cesarino knew them too well, he could dodge their fire without even looking. It was just them. Evelyn must’ve laughed her lungs out across every loop, so enjoying herself. And Cesarino, he just grew increasingly impatient. Ever more furious, ever more denied. At the end of the twenty thousandth, she stood over his corpse and rubbed the back of his head with her hand, purring into his ear. “Good boy,” she whispered. “Keep going. You’ll get me eventually.”



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 24473609, 462249:36:49
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 46019, 1150:28:30


By then it was all just routine. Car door. Tendon. Strike. Blood. Corpse. Bullet. Cesarino and Evelyn were almost superhuman. The initial difference in strengths had long since fallen into obscurity. She looked older. They moved with unbelievably precision. Cesarino was an animal, bounding from place to place, a blur before Ryugo’s eyes that he simply couldn’t track. Evelyn was this demigod or something, so refined and efficient that it was hard to see her as human at all. She looked like an animation played in fast forward, devoid of the waste of typical organic motion. Bullets, knives, car doors, shelves, gasoline. It was too much to process. They clashed in the middle of the room, glass littering the ground around them. There was blood in Sophia’s eyes, a sour taste on her tongue. Evelyn strained against Cesarino. She was covered in open wounds and deformities. Somehow she matched him for strength, pushing against his bulging limbs. “Bad boy,” she murmured. “You made this same mistake two weeks ago.” She grazed his cheek with the back of her hand. He shuddered, and something like ecstasy poured through him. “Punishment is in order, don’t you think?” He shrank. Visibly shrank, actually afraid. There was this awful aura about Evelyn. So insidious, so domineering. It made Sophia nauseous.

Sophia was having as much of a hard time tracking the movements of the homicidal ginger and the ugly bastard as Ryugo. Realizing that her involvement will mean certain death she decided to take out her cigarette and stand by as the two monsters battled to the death.

The twins continued to point their weapons at Cesarino, crouched in the corner of the room



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 28152809, 522416:59:38
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 3679201, 61319:06:10


They fought. It was a blur. Ryugo and Ryuju were factors. So was Sophia. They were known quantities, variables parsed an eternity ago. Years had passed. Evelyn was older, Cesarino was wasting away, his limbs powerful but his strength reduced in a way that only Evelyn could possibly be aware of. She stroked his head while they fought, twisted around him and whispered words of encouragement in his ear. Every time it ran a shudder of euphoria through him. She grasped his dying hand and embraced him.

It was like training a dog. No, not like, exactly identical to. There was only one thing that he wanted, and she controlled its outflow; her affection. She punished him by withholding her hand and rewarded him with kisses and pets. In much the same way that she’d come to learn his weak spots, she came to recognise all the places that he loved being touched in. She started the regimen out simply, rewarding him for attacking her with his arms and punishing him for using his legs. After that, she slowly shifted the definitions of good and bad behaviour. Good: staying on the ground. Bad: throwing objects. Good: lowering his head when she stood on her toes. Bad: lashing out at her with his tongue. Good: lying on the floor and presenting his belly. Bad: snarling. Over years, she conditioned him, refining his love into canine obedience.

It was a pragmatic decision. Killing him could have taken her decades. Domesticating him required just her touch and an insistent tone. She’d owned a dog before. Over time her acted sentiments became perversely real. She grew a real fondness for him. Much in the same way that she was warping his mind, he warped hers. She saw his jagged contours as beautiful, and delighted in eliciting playful yelps from him whenever she came up with an unexpected way of ending his life. They were intertwined, inextricably. Two minds, spiralling into a shared future where they were the only dynamic actors, where they were the only two people who could keep each other company through those vast and lonely years. In the end, the relationship that she’d sought to exploit became real. He was her dog. He was her pet. They really did play.



Cesarino’s Perspective: Loop 28153312, 522435:24:44
Retherford’s Perspective: Loop 3679704, 61338:31:16


Cesarino stepped toward Evelyn. She held out a hand, palm facing upwards. “Come to me, Vergil.” There was saccharine warmth in her tone. Burnt sugar. He obediently approached her, padding forward on all fours, even though he still resembled a man. He licked her wrist, mewling like a cat. She rubbed his head. “There’s a good boy. There’s a good boy.” She knelt down and patted him down, nuzzling his nose with her own. Disgusting black effluent ran between his teeth. All that violent rage was gone, all that lust eradicated. Now all he remembered was her words. Her touch, the desire that he’d once felt which had now percolated into sheer, unconditional love. He purred while she sat, crossed-legged, by his side and ran her fingers across his back. There was a serene smile on her face, and something approximating an expression of joy on Cesarino’s.

“Goddamn it, I’ve had enough of this fat fuck.” Ryugo, to say the least, was pissed. He raised his rifle and pointed it at Cesarino’s head, for what seemed like the billionth time. Ryuju, for what it was worth, simply raised his rifle in silence, aiming it like his brother at the man. “Just give up already. I’m sick of having to kill you over and over again.”

Cesarino raised his head just an inch. Evelyn shushed him and pressed it back onto the ground. “No boy, down down.”

“I’m not the only one creeped out by how this freak is acting like a bloody dog right?” Sophia mentioned as she was smoking her billionth cigarette.

“What the hell did you do to him?”

Evelyn let out a little laugh. A sweet, sickening noise. “I taught him to behave. He’s a good boy now, isn’t he? Aren’t you a good boy?” She ruffled his keratinous plates. He laid his jaw on her lap, whereupon she leaned over him and rested her cheek on the tip of his skull. “I think he’s been pacified, don’t you think? Let’s just call it a day.” She gave them all the wrong kind of smile.
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Menschenfleisch
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Posts: 695
Founded: Nov 01, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Menschenfleisch » Sun Oct 31, 2021 2:27 am

Evelyn S. Retherford, Kelli Ivananko, Sophia Ashworth and Ryugo and Ryuju Saeki | A collaboration between Menschenfleisch, Wysten, Naval Monte and Nagakawa | Epilogue

28th of April, 8:23am
Harbourside, Bristol, Ireland


When Ryugo Saeki awoke, he found himself in the shotgun seat of the same truck they had used for the assault on the compound, while Ryuju Saeki found himself in the driver seat, his hands on the wheel and his foot on the accelerator pedal. Their rifles were still slung over their torsos, the straps fraying and coated in grime. Kelli, for whatever reason, was nowhere to be seen.

The truck was speeding along an empty highway, on either side of which was a vast expanse of empty field. An overpowering malodour clogged the vehicle’s interior, a heavy miasma of gore and gunsmoke and sweat fermented into a toxic mix. The two twins glanced at each other. Their clothes were tattered, the both of them soaked in filth and blood from head to toe.

“Wind down the window”, said Ryuju, his face curling in disgust as he continued driving while winding the window down on his side.

Ryugo silently turned the window crank in the shotgun seat, opening the window on his side. A strong wind blew through the truck and flushed out at least some of the smell that the two brothers had brought into the truck with them.

“We need to shower”, said Ryuju. “When we get to the truck stop, I’ll go find us a public bathroom to bathe in.”

“Yes.” Ryugo replied monosyllabically. He leaned his elbow on the window and stuck his head out of the truck pensively.

“Cuz, well, I mean, Ryugo…” Ryuju cringed. “I don’t think we can go meet Evelyn in this state.”

“Mmh.” Scoffing weakly, Ryugo leaned back in his seat.

The first rays of morning sunlight had scattered the bluish darkness of the early dawn hours, barely visible amidst the still sleepy sky, but there nonetheless. Both the clock on the car’s stereo as well as Ryugo and Ryuju’s watches read 5:50AM. The day would soon begin, just as the mission was soon to come to a close with the debrief and payment; after a grind that had felt like eternity, it would finally be time to rest. For all practical purposes, barely two days had passed since they’d started the mission, and yet it felt like it had been the longest mission they had ever seen through to completion. It was like time itself had ground to a halt, coiling itself into a perilous loop that had been broken only through sheer guile, or chance perhaps.

Ryugo cast a quick glance at his brother while he continued to drive. It was still the same Ryuju - nothing much had changed as far as his exterior was concerned - but he stared out of the window into the distance in a way Ryugo had never seen before. His eyes had softened; there was not a hint of the usual impish glint that the gleeful, mischief-loving Ryuju normally exuded. Awash in the first light of the morning, his face had taken on a reflective and almost mournful look to it. It was the look of a man who had been forced to reckon with himself, to grapple with unknowns he did not even know existed. More than anything, it seemed as if Ryuju had come to some sort of realisation that perhaps he himself could not quite decipher, much like a vivid dream that is forgotten immediately upon waking, but that leaves behind the residual emotions it triggers to linger on inexplicably for days to come.

On his part, Ryugo could not see for himself how the long mission had changed him the way he could see Ryuju, not in a mirror at least. The sound of the truck speeding along the road faded softly into the background, as his thoughts began to wander and he closed his eyes and tried to sleep for a bit. From the darkness came a vaguely nostalgic image - a small Japanese mansion atop a hill, overlooking a city below. The cries of a pair of babies rose softly from the verandah. Soft footsteps fluttered about in the inside of the house, and thongs of faceless people dragged furniture around anxiously and indiscriminately.

Along the doorway stood a young woman in a white cheongsam. Her features were blurry. Ryugo could not make out what her face looked like. It seemed almost as if the woman, whoever she was, was trying to elude him. He tried to call for her, but no sound came from his lips; he felt that his self had become separate from his body, as if being pulled from a pool of water, and a floating sensation of suspension engulfed what remained of him, while the woman slowly dissolved away along with the mansion and the rest of his surroundings.

“Hey, Ryugo. Are you hungry?”

Ryuju’s tired and slightly nasal voice broke the silence. His eyes still closed, Ryugo tried to keep those brief and blurry visions in his memory, but try as he might, all that remained was the roaring of the truck’s engine, the wind blowing through the windows, and the horrid stench of blood and body odour.

The mansion had faded; the dream was over.

“Yea, I’m hungry.”

“Evelyn says she wants to meet us at a burger restaurant”, Ryuju elaborated. He inhaled deeply in an involuntary manner, and then sneezed out of the open window, cursing under his breath as he did so.

“Ah. I see.” Ryugo smiled. “I don’t mind having a burger.”

“We’ll be there in about ten minutes”, said Ryuju. He spun the steering wheel sharply to the side, and the truck took a hard right turn into the exit, going downhill into a smaller road that branched off of the big highway. “Do we eat first or bathe first?”

Ryugo said nothing. A soft and pleasant tingling enveloped his weary body, as he felt the shifting of the truck’s gears and the fading of the wind. Through the front window, the gentle warmth of the morning sun filled all the little nooks and crannies on the inside of the car, and as Ryugo finally allowed himself to awaken, a palette of brilliant colours he could only now recognise burst forth like a crashing wave against the shore, and the all too familiar golden disc of light in the sky shimmered before his eyes.



Interestingly enough, the one public bathroom in the truck stop was entirely vacant when the twins pulled up their truck in the empty parking space beside it and got ready to de-kit and freshen themselves up. Strategising their post-operation cleanup carefully, Ryugo and Ryuju began by unloading their equipment off of the truck, opening up several ground sheets on the asphalt and divested themselves of their armour, removing the ballistic plates from their load bearing vests and laying it all out in the sun to dry, along with their signal sets and other assorted gear. The time was 6:45AM. The sun had barely just risen, and though leaving their filthy, gore-splattered gear to dry in the sun was unlikely to do much to clean it, the mere process of letting it bake under the sun would nevertheless make it easier to wash and disinfect later on, and was far better than leaving it to ferment in some dark corner either way.

By the time they had finished cleaning up the inside of the truck, the sun was out in full, and the last of the residual daybreak darkness had been scattered. It was 7:15AM. The two brothers drew lots, and it was decided that Ryugo would go shower first, while Ryuju would sit outside and keep an eye on the truck and on the equipment left to dry under the sun.

A man in a tracksuit jogged down the street past the public bathroom, stopping just at the junction to wait for the traffic lights to turn so that he could continue. The air was chilly, and the fragrant light of the early morning provided a nice contrast to the otherwise frigid outdoors. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the twins’ setup was a little conspicuous - the jogging man was staring at Ryuju, who sat on the curb in his tattered tactical suit, the blood and soil all over his body now dried and coagulated.

“You all right, bruv?” The man in the tracksuit asked. “You don’t look so good.”

“The light’s turned green. You can cross now.” Ryuju pointed at the traffic light and smiled tersely.

The man looked up at the light and scoffed.

“So it has”, he said. “But you sure you don’t need any help, bruv?”

“Don’t you have a run to finish?” Ryuju, it seemed, was in no mood for small talk.

“Just trying to be helpful, is all.” The man muttered under his breath and then went on with his run.

For what it was worth, Ryuju was surprised at how well he was able to resist the urge to fall asleep. His eyelids screamed for respite, begged to be allowed to shut for a moment, but he knew better than to give in to his physical urges. Their equipment was valuable; to fall asleep would be to invite every manner of hustler and troublemaker to come and steal some stuff to make a quick buck. As if to trick his body into thinking that he was getting the rest he so craved, Ryuju squeezed one eye shut, while focusing his attention on keeping the other eye wide open. He tuned his senses to feel the crisp, nipping touch of the cold air, the stinging in his nose and the trembling of his fingers, the adhesive grime of what remained of his clothes sticking to his body. His combat boots could still be salvaged, though they would probably not last a lot longer; some of the earnings would no doubt have to go into getting new, more durable tactical clothing. No doubt, Mr Higa would be able to help them find some good quality stuff through his contacts. If there was one man who knew better how to secure logistics better than anyone else, it was Kota Higa.

But Mr Higa was already 87, and between his barely controlled diabetes and his progressively worsening arthritis, there was no telling how much more time he had left before he had to retire. Dutiful as he was, Ryuju reasoned, it was becoming more and more likely that Mr Higa would probably have no choice but to call it a career.

“I see you’re still doing fine.”

Ryuju looked up at Ryugo and chuckled. Shirtless and wearing only a pair of sweatpants with his bath slippers, it was apparent that Ryugo had lost a bit of weight over the course of the mission, yet it seemed nonetheless that the bath had done him quite a lot of good, judging by his perky expression. His body seemed to be radiating heat.

“I’m still awake”, said Ryuju. “Nothing has been stolen.”

“There’s hot water in there”, said Ryugo.

“Hot water?? Is this for real???” Ryuju broke out into the biggest smile he had smiled in a long time.

“Go check it out, if you don’t believe me. Just don’t bust the bathroom open with a glacier like you did in Australia.”

“Hell yeah!” The mere mention of hot water in the bathroom seemed to have restored Ryuju’s energy. He leapt up to his feet and stretched his back, letting out a satisfied yawn.

“Don’t touch me”, said Ryugo, pulling back from Ryuju. “Not until you’ve showered.”

“Yea, yea, I’m going now”, said Ryuju. “Is there soap in there?”

“I left my bottle of 2-in-1 in there.” Ryugo headed back to the truck and opened the glove compartment, taking out a T-shirt and quickly pulling it on. “There’s not much left in it, but I think it should be enough for you.”

“Alright then. Be right back.”

“Heh.” Ryuju ran off for the bathroom like a kid rushing for the playground in recess period, like an army recruit rushing for the bus that would bring him back to the civilian world for his first day off. Squatting down on the ground beside the stuff they’d laid out on the ground sheets, Ryugo exhaled deeply, and watched the steam blow out his mouth.






There were a few things to sort out after the end of the operation. First and foremost, Evelyn had to remember who she was and what she’d been doing before spending seven years stuck in a time loop. Cesarino sat before her as she lay on a park bench, checking the contents of her phone and reading old messages, gradually reacquainting herself with her responsibilities. Ultimately, those seven years hadn’t affected her overly; she’d suffered a loss of personality and functionality, yes, but she was still basically recognisable as human. Unlike her ‘dog’, she supposed. The sun was just beginning to rise over the city, introducing a little warmth to her ragged, frost-damaged bones. She made a few phone calls, arranged for a few meetups. A black van pulled up a few minutes later, out of which stepped a few nondescript ‘paramedics’ who sedated and took Cesarino away. She was frankly nonplussed about his loss.

She felt fairly satisfied in that moment, staring up at the sky and knowing that she’d conquered a challenge that most would’ve considered conventionally insurmountable. There was rarely ever a rush of excitement or glee in the aftermath of a job. Rather, she just felt a lingering contentment. Comfort was better than ecstasy, in her humble opinion.

“You ever thought about returning to a normal life?” A voice said, to the side of Evelyn Kelli stood, her plate carrier and vest replaced with the simple jeans and hoodie. A cigarette still in her mouth the Russian walked over until she stood next to the park bench.

“What’s normal?” Evelyn would have shrugged if she hadn’t been lying down. She was comfortable speaking more casually around Kelli. It was just them, and the Russian had a disarming ease to her demeanour. “Ivananko, right? I’m sorry, I’m bad with names.”

“Just Kelli please, I am merely an associate of yours not your teacher.” The Russian said before giving a small laugh. “And you know what I mean by normal or at least, what normal was before everything went to shit.” She took another drag and let a slow stream of smoke out of her nostrils.

Evelyn bit the tip of her tongue. “... I’ve never seen the appeal.” Slowly, she sat up. Her entire body protested; her weary, aching muscles and her worn down joints. She was ostensibly only thirty in biological terms, but she felt a hell of a lot older. “What was the agreed upon rate? I can wire you the money now.” She neglected to mention that she’d only be able to give Kelli the cash by taking out a short term loan. There was no way that she had that much capital in her debit account.

“$250,000, and you seem to have not seen the things I have, name a war or some stupid fucking ego conflict across the world for the past 20 years and either I have been in it or know someone who was. Normalcy at this point is more exoctic than anything I’ve seen.”

Evelyn nodded. “Maybe you’re right. I’m the naive one here.” She took a moment to process the quantity that Kelli had named. “Wait, a quarter of a million. You’re joking, right? I never would have...” She held the woman’s gaze for a second. “... oh piss. Twenty three year old me was a fucking idiot. Ah whatever, the open contract’s worth more anyway.” She did all the financial ritual required of her, wiring the Russian the requested sum before putting down her phone. “You know, it’s been a pleasure working with you. I had trouble finding anyone who’d take this commission, or so my past self tells me.”

Kelli laughed a bit and nodded, “I figured something time related had happened when I read the brief, but,” The Russian looked over Evelyn, “Eight years?”

Evelyn examined her bloodstained hands. “About fifty nine for Cesarino. I got off lucky, really. And it’s no big deal. The world waited for me to finish, so I didn’t really lose any time.”

“Maybe you should take a vacation then, I heard Australia is wonderful this time of year.” Kelli said smiling as she dropped and stamped out the cigarette as she gave a small cough. “Good luck Evelyn, and if you need a place to where you can do this and make more than whoever’s payroll you are on, We are hiring.” The Russian then walked away into the town.

Evelyn gave her a slim smile as she left. “Always a pleasure.”



They found Evelyn sitting in a diner, legs crossed and Cesarino nowhere to be found. She solemnly sipped on a tall glass of cola, a swirly red straw plunging into its icy depths. Her legs were bunched together and her hands were in her lap. She looked like a schoolkid waiting outside the principal's office. She was decidedly uncanny to look at; she was older than either of the twins remembered and there were odd asymmetries all across her body. Souvenirs of the loops, no doubt. The place was pretty empty, although a few men in high-vis suits were lining up to grab breakfast burgers. They made a point to avoid her, the woman wearing a torn up shirt, an irrecoverably maimed jacket, who was covered in oily blood and who was staring at a pistol laid out on the table before her, two bullets left in the magazine and one in the chamber. The watch that Cesarino had given her lay beside it, the date counter reading 2079.

It was a homely establishment. Oldschool, with the checkerboard tiles and the bored looking young woman behind the counter. Even the lighting was out of date: tungsten filament chandelier. Somehow, the desolation of the city made it even more cozy. She lifted a hand at the twins as they entered, setting the door ornament a’jingle. “Sir. Sir.” She greeted each of them separately. Her polite, submissive demeanour was completely incongruous with the woman that they’d left behind less than an hour earlier.

Ryugo was wearing a bright blue T-shirt and grey sweatpants with socks and slides, while Ryuju had on a maroon Hawaiian shirt paired with jeans and flip flops. The bath they had finally managed to enjoy at the public bathroom had done them quite a bit of good - while their eyes were still fatigued, their mannerisms seemed slightly more energetic than when they’d last finished the mission.

“Hello, Evelyn.” Ryuju scooted into the booth seat and sat cross-legged on the cushion, leaving his flip flops on the floor. Following suit, Ryugo helped himself to a seat, greeting Evelyn with a smile that was weary, but genuine nonetheless.

Evelyn took one last comfort-sip of her drink and cleared her throat. “I’m- I’m really sorry, Mr. Saeki, but I don’t have the money with me.”

“Ah.” A soft chuckle rose from Ryugo’s throat as Ryuju turned and looked at him incredulously. He was too tired to offer much more of a response, and was, at that point, just waiting to be able to book a cheap hotel room, hit the sack, and sleep through an entire day. “No big deal.”

She clenched her hands together, squeezing until her knuckles went white. “I can give you something that’s basically as valuable, even if you’ll have to chase some leads yourselves. There was a 945,670 USD open contract on him, put together by some people that he’d offended over the years. Big governments whose enemies he sold info to, other local criminal syndicates, that sort of thing. I’ll get the Abigail Institute to recognise you as the people who neutralised him, so you’ll be able to redeem the money yourselves. And as for Cesarino, some agents of Albion Esoteric showed up earlier to take him away.” She winced, as if it were truly painful to have to have parted with him.

“Hey!” Ryuju’s face lit up, breaking into a boyish grin. “That feels pretty good.”

New contracts, Ryugo thought to himself, were always welcome. Bearing in mind the long drag that this last mission had been, however, it would be a while before they took another one on.

Two women burst through the door, one practically carrying the other. The first was Sophia Ashworth. The second was a brown haired tall lady wearing brutalistic work clothes and who had a cello case over her back. Knowing the business, the twins were certain that if it contained any instrument, it would be one of war. “September?” Evelyn yelped. “Caillech!” The woman howled, gruffly patting Sophia on the shoulder. “I found this girl outside, looking for you. She has a pair on ‘er, you know?”
The Abigail's words caught in her throat. “Sep, are you- are you drunk?” The cello-woman snorted. “Oh come on, what’s an after-mission six pack? I wasn’t drinking while I was on the mission, just so you know.”

Evelyn let out a quiet, defeated sigh. “I suppose I should introduce you. This is September, she’s an Arbiter. An agent of Albion, to put it simply.” September guffawed. “Yeah. I kill fat fucks who sit on their money and politicians who diddle little kids. It’s a brilliant vocation, mate.”

“Sounds like a fun job”, Ryuju chortled.

Evelyn tilted her head toward the Arbiter. “I hired her to eliminate Cesarino’s most competent security personnel in the weeks leading up to this operation. It’s why Santiago hired me with so few questions asked. And during the mission, she shot Cesarino every time he tried to leave his compound on foot. It was to ensure that he spent long enough trapped within his house to get desperate and to come to trust me. I’m technically not actually losing any money by having her here, the cost of her operation is covered by the government.”

“Do they have anything alcoholic here?” Ryugo wondered out loud.

The waitress hollered at them from the counter. “Aye, din. Don’t the smell of gin give it away?” She pointed at the sign above her head, indicating a wide variety of precisely identical whiskeys.

“I’ll have a… uh… apple cider”, said Ryugo. Caffeine was on his mind, but being all too aware of the sixteen packets of concentrated coffee powder he’d downed over the course of the mission, he decided not to have any more, for fear of overloading himself.

“Orange juice for me”, Ryuju piped in, straining his voice over Ryugo’s.

September shrugged. “A bottle of gin.”

Sophia shrugged as well. “Absinthe here. I just want to forget this day ever happened.”

Evelyn laughed slightly into her drink. “So I guess as the person who put all of this together, I’m… I’m somewhat obligated to end the operation on a high note. So, thanks for coming back for me at the warehouse, thanks for intervening on my behalf, I- I really don’t think I would’ve made it out of there alive if not for you.” Her hands shook a little. Residual fear? She didn’t seem to be aware of the tremors. “I have a favour to ask though. Can- can someone cover my tab? I left my wallet in Cesarino’s safe room and I don’t think I can go back for it.”

“Oi, Ryugo. How big do you reckon her tab is?”

“Can’t be that bad, could it?” Ryugo shrugged.

“It’s two dollars,” she informed them. “I know, I shouldn’t have ordered something so expensive.” To be fair, her cola was gourmet. There was even a lemon slice on the rim, for what value it added (or subtracted) to the drink.

Ryugo chuckled.

“Any lingering trauma?” Evelyn felt obliged to ask after running the crew through the wringer. “Psychiatric insurance should cover most of it. If you have it, I mean.”

“We’ll be fine.” A shadow passed over Ryuju’s face. His gaze momentarily drifted to the back of the diner, and then snapped back to the present as quickly as it had slipped. “Hey, Ryugo. I think we can do one more quick job before we go back to Okinawa. You up for one?”

“Which one? I need to recuperate.”

“There was a pretty easy one that’s… sort of en route for us, I think? The one that was offered by that guy, Kris- Kzhizh- Veezh- the Polish guy.”

“Krzysztof Wieczorek?” said Ryugo.

“Yea, him.” Ryuju snapped his fingers. “It was just making sure his Renoir painting makes it from Albion to Macau in one piece, right? We can chill in Macau for a bit on the way back home.”

“Hm. Yea. We could do that.”

“I’ve seen worse than that freak in my line of work. But seeing that thing being reduced to acting like a puppy carving for your affection is probably gonna make me go seek a therapist.” Sophia dryly stated as she drank down her glass in one gulp and brought the glass back on the counter.

Sophia shook her head as the drink hit her taste buds.

“However now that Ceasarino is gone, whatever information he had contained in his fat head's gone as well. I’m forced to do more work on tracking down the people I’m searching for. So more investigative work for me.”

Evelyn tapped the side of her glass. “Well, if you need a helping hand, you know where to find me. I feel somewhat responsible for all the trouble you’ve been through today; consider this my informal apology. And as for myself, I need to head back to Albion. Seven years of age haven’t exactly done my mind or body any favours.”

Sophia was silent as she spun her glass. “I may follow you to Albion.” she told her as she placed the glass on the counter again. “I always wanted to see the fable “City without Borders” with my eyes since it can bloody fly in the air.” her expression turned more somber. “Besides. My investigation requires me to enter the city anyway. From what I have gathered my targets have plans for that place. That is why I went after that pervert. He may have known what they wanted.”

“We’ll come along too”, Ryuju chimed in. “Ryugo and I are gonna take one more job from a guy in Albion before we head back home.”

Evelyn let out a final, relieved breath. “In that case, I think we’re all settled.”

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Europa Undivided
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Posts: 1616
Founded: Jun 18, 2019
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Europa Undivided » Sun Oct 31, 2021 8:58 am

Kondrad Sierakowsky
Polish ASSR Military Forward Headquarters
North of Canberra


Murrumbateman, North of Canberra.

For the scattered and overextended defense garrison in Murrumbateman, this was simply a call to fall back. Both strongpoints in the northern edge of the town responded fire with a set of chain guns against the presumed location of the enemy infantry, covered by a smokescreen. In the meantime, the under two-hundred infantrymen jumped on fast-moving vehicles. One after another, convoys headed south, speeding towards Canberra. It would be roughly 20 minutes, but each convoy had to keep a close watch for anyone following them.

Before the last convoy departed, a barrage of mortarfire was shot at the enemy lines, attempting to hinder their advance a bit more. It was, also, a final warning to the remaining garrison at Yass and St Mary’s outpost to the north.


Reports of the enemy's retreat from their operational front soon flowed into Polish high command. The Resistance infantry had clambered into trucks, personnel carriers, and pretty much any other vehicle that they had in there to beat out their retreat. A wave of satisfaction swelled all over the ranks, and as such, the forces that were present continued to advance, with the infantry still in the cover of their pre-deployed smokescreen. The chain guns and that one last mortar barrage did cause the troops to drop down to the ground in response, but it was clear that Murrumbateman has all but fallen, with any more resistance efforts in these area being merely delaying tactics. The proud Ghostknights strode towards the town itself, and along with their armored support, moved to suppress the pair of strongpoints that were still firing into the smokescreen, which was due to dissipate soon.

After a few inconveniences, though, the town was pretty much in their hands. Any wounded that might have gotten left behind in the retreat would promptly be loaded onto spare vehicles and delivered to the backlines, where the Poles and the rest of the NUSSR were keeping their own camps.

"For all the futility of their fight, their conviction is still an admirable thing.", Kondrad mused to himself as he looked upon the line of prisoners of war, who were currently being given guarantees of fair treatment and future resettlement. "Who even would try to battle for a cause that hd been so thoroughly shattered and unmade by all the powers of the world? The foolhardy? The brave?"

He then remembered his own family. His parents and sisters, who fought as partisans in the name of a nation that had been subjugated, its culture being forcibly erased by their conquerers. Kondrad recalled how he himself kept fighting despite the jaws of death closing around him and his comrades...

Right. As long as they live, ideals will not be lost. As long as these ideals are taught and remembered, they will keep living on. One can commit grand slaughter and believe they have exterminated all threats, but ideas are hard to kill. Cut off one head, two more will take its place.

And so, the slow route has to be taken. Make them forget. Erase the notions of the Old Order. And then, perhaps, peace may be achieved.




The Polish Delegation
The Forbidden City


Despite everything that had passed, Marek was still a man of faith.

He is the nephew of Lord Kondrad Sierakowsky, the only one, in fact. However, he wasn't usually afforded responsibility. Not when his cousin, Aleksandra, had the power of superhuman intelligence, and such, his ability to set things on fire wasn't that useful compared to hers when it comes to management.

But there is one thing that Kondrad had always liked about his nephew. He was humble. He never sought to rule, or to try to get his cousin's position. Aleksandra was aloof and arrogant to a fault. Marek, however, was a man of the people. He listened to them himself, and maintained friendships with mundanes and metas alike, sometimes ending up being the architect of the union of a meta and mundane.

And so, he was sent here. In the Forbidden City, to watch the conference between the East Asian lords. Poland, being part of the NUSSR's sphere of influence, had much to gain or lose in these talks. If only things were-

"Your Holiness.", Marek slightly bowed his head down to the Pope of the Catholic Church, the beads of a rosary slightly visible on his neck. "I... did not expect the Holy See to be present here. Times are strange, I see..."

The six foot tall unarmed Ghostknight that accompanied him bowed its featureless head as well. The soul within it was doubtlessly a devout one in life. Perhaps even unto after death, it still was.
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Britanania
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Posts: 25380
Founded: Feb 15, 2011
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Britanania » Sun Oct 31, 2021 9:18 pm

Forbidden City, Beijing, 20 May 2020

Pope Leo had a certain affection for the peoples of Poland. He was, after all, first raised to the Office of Bishop under Saint Pope Casimir, and when he was still a Cardinal visited Krakow just after the former pontiff was canonised.

The Holy Father smiled at the Sierakowsky scion's greeting.

"Meus adventus fuit occultus," he informed him. "Sed, sum laetitia quod adsum. Ceterum, hoc est meum officium repraesentare Ecclesiam."

Vincenzo, standing next to Pope Leo, quickly translated for Marek.

"The Holy Father wanted his arrival to be a secret, and that he is very happy to be here. After all, it is his duty to represent the Church," the Secretary told him in Polish. "And, speaking for myself, I hope things are well in Poland, despite still being under the Russian Yoke." Vincenzo was nothing if not somewhat combative towards the Communist agenda.
Last edited by Britanania on Sun Oct 31, 2021 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bingellia
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Posts: 648
Founded: Nov 27, 2014
Democratic Socialists

Postby Bingellia » Sun Oct 31, 2021 10:44 pm

Aisling Keyes
Paris

Aisling ignored Monika with unconcealed disgust as the Reich official left the room, but whatever potentially treasonous agreement Marie had made with the jackbooted thugs extorting SA for personal gain was not why she was here. The ill-tempered French brat needed a reminder of who was in charge of Europe, hell, many of the Morrigan's vassals did from where Aisling's point of view, but peace was important with the Russian bear on the border.

"Let me make one thing clear," Aisling said lowly as she stepped towards Marie. "You are not my mistress. You, and any other petty lord in Europe, do not make demands of me."

Slowly, she took the seat that Monika had been using. The chair creaked under the weight of her armor as she lowered herself, but it did not give.

"Now," she continued, "I received a bloody interesting dossier about some activities from within your borders. I don't know if you have seen it, but I don't think it's exactly relevant. Normally, I would dismiss something that would seem so obviously like propaganda, but I happen to be very fecking aware that those claims are true. I imagine your neighbors do too since it's a little hard to hide a few depopulated German cities, but it was likely fear of my mistress intervening that kept them in line. But now that word is out, and that certain other lords could seize the moment, especially since you haven't exactly been discriminate about killing metas, My advice is you tow the damned line and to scale things back, before you inflame tensions with your neighbors and potentially the congress as a whole further."
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Union Princes
Minister
 
Posts: 3270
Founded: Nov 02, 2017
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Union Princes » Mon Nov 01, 2021 12:09 am

Bingellia wrote:Aisling Keyes
-snip-


Maire studied the meta-human before her, her smile disappearing like mist in a warm morning, as she process the words of the dullahan. After a moment of consideration, the French lord spoke:

"You came here to list out your grievances, isn't it? Aisling? Let me pay you one in return when I say, and if I am assured, that we come out of this with equal respect and understanding towards one another. I would happy to try to form a more equitable arrangement with you, as equitable between a faithful Christian and a pagan worshipper."

The Blessed Regent brushed her hair falling onto her face as she gave her audience the full attention she deserves. Despite Morrigan's enforcer being in full armor, Marie seemed entirely apathetic to the sight, only slightly wishing the chair would collapse under her weight.

"Lend me your ear for a moment. It is true that I retain no formal authority over your position as Lord of France and you, the current High Lord of West Europe, but one thing for certain: you are not MY mistress either. You're a substitute, a replacement, a mere chair warmer until the High Council finds a new High Lord! Oh, I see you giving me a death glare. So desperate to prove me wrong? Go ahead. I demand you to summon Morrigan right now! Tell her of all my crimes! Paint my office crimson with my blood! Go ahead. Bring forth your master and sink Paris into Hades.

No? Just gonna sit there and do nothing? Good. That's all you're allowed to do. This is my empire and my empire alone! I rule Paris, not you. I am the Regent of Holy France. I am its savior. Not you. You're a Celtic monster spawn from the Emerald Isle. Do you dare lecture me of the Jew-Killers in Rhineland? Have you forgotten about the Catholics in Ireland? What did Morrigan do to them? To Scotland, Wales, and England? We already know the answer, do we? I try so hard to be honest but to a demon-worshipping cultist, even I have to show my displeasure every time I see your disgusting face and hear your wicked name whenever you enter France to kill an innocent faithful.


Feeling that fury within you? Good. Now you are sensing a fraction of the rage and anger I feel every day when I wake up and see the destitution and poverty in my country! Everyone, EVERYONE, including you have been around far longer than I have been Lord Regent and EVERYONE, including you, has treated my country in the last 100 years as the speedbump of Europe, a circus, a nation of idiots and losers. Do you think you're smarter than me? My father lied to your fucking face for 10 years and would've gone for longer if it weren't for my intervention. He fucking lied to Morrigan's face and what did she do? Absolutely nothing! She did nothing as he robbed the people of their wealth, lives, and passions. So when I finally start fixing the disaster, you suddenly start thinking you can come here and give me advice on how to run my own country? You're not even French nor even a Christian! You didn't even help in the coup.

You hate Nazis just as much as I do and what do you do? You come here threatening to pound my face into a bloody pulp instead of going into Germany and South America to remove the Nazi plague. You're a sponge and a doormat! You do everything your mistress tells you to do and invoke her name as a cheap way to get people like me to enact on her agenda. You are the 2nd worst person I know. You throw your anger out on me! You never give me the respect and honors I rightfully deserve. In Australia, I contributed 30% of the total forces that make up the West European army and my troops suffered 25% casualties. Where the fuck were you when I was tending the wounded? Surely your blasphemous magic could allow for some basic first aid. But no. If your pagan magic did have some capacity for healing, you obviously wouldn't waste it on "pathetic" Frenchmen, would you? That's why I had my troops withdrawn to return to their families in the Metropolitan! YOU OFFER ME NOTHING! Not even gratitude, not even a little bit of thanks or a small chocolate gift. Those men had children, wives, and friends! No wonder you allow yourself to be the Morrgan's bitch; you're just as selfish and murderous as her!


You pretend you are capable of keeping the peace by marching here in full armor thinking you can scare me into admission but all you do is inflame tensions and chase gooses. Those "reports" I admit some aspects are true but I kill to secure the future of my country! You kill to satisfy your own insatiable bloodlust and to stave off perpetuable boredom. You delude yourself thinking that peace can be accomplished through sheer intimidation. Have you ever read a history book? Do you even read? Should I give a lecture on international diplomacy conducted in the 19th and 20th centuries to catch you up to speed? Communication, mutual trust, and good trade are key successes to maintaining steadfast relationships. But you wouldn't know trust and love if it was dripping from that profane ax of yours. It's always murder, murder, and death in your methods. The mere conception of mercy, charity, and humbleness is alien to a satanist. That's why I have been dealing with the Nazis recently because they are least pretending that they are showing basic civility and etiquette to a person of my rank unlike you. Is it an Irish tradition to wear full armor in a bureaucratic environment?

You're actually panicking about a continental war that would destroy the new order that we metahumans have set up. That's why you're here? To make sure that conflict doesn't erupt? That's the one thing I hate about you, Aisling: blaming me for everything...insulting my efforts to help. Do you want to maintain the status quo? Go to fucking Frankfurt and tell that Nazi Vampire that Rhineland is French, now and forever. Go to the Vatican and tell the Pope to make Napoleon Bonaparte a saint. Go to fucking Lisbon, Madrid, and Stockholm and whatever fucking city Lord Ashwood rules from, and tell them to cease their saber-rattling as well. DO you understand? Or do I have to learn Irish Gaelic just to get these words through that thick skull that you carry under your arm?"

Marie slumped down back to her chair. From her heated passion, her anger has made her voice rise higher and higher in unbridled rage that can be heard throughout the building.

"As for my answer," she breathed, "You do not have to worry about the Nazis in the Rhineland. The South American Reich is willing to purchase their lives and send them to Brazil. And here's my advice for you, Aisling, you should worry about Congress more. After all, they have the authority to pick the new high lord of West Europe. If you don't want me as your new overseer, then I suggest taking a world tour and negotiating with the High Lords about my electoral defeat."

"If you're also here to renegotiate my vassal contract, I have just recently sent a message for your presence-what a coincidence-but now that you're here, we can move onto that as the next topic of discussion. If not, enjoy the privileges you have in my empire while I enjoy the power I have in Paris. We can always talk for another time."
Last edited by Union Princes on Mon Nov 01, 2021 12:25 am, edited 5 times in total.
There is no such thing as peace, only truce between wars

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Bingellia
Diplomat
 
Posts: 648
Founded: Nov 27, 2014
Democratic Socialists

Postby Bingellia » Tue Nov 02, 2021 6:09 pm

Aisling Keyes

Aisling sat in silence as she listened to Marie rant and rave. Resentment and rage grew with every word from the woman's mad rambling, but she was here in an attempt to be diplomatic. There was little point in interrupting the mad-woman in the midst of a tirade, and one loud enough that it might dissuade that jackbooted foreign minister from being so keen to deal with the so-called regent.

The silence was broken by the strained creaking of the chair as the high judge rose once again.

"The beginning of his words is folly, and the end of his talk is a mischievous error," She stated with a sigh.

Her right hand went for the stump of her neck, and reached down into the neck of the plate armor. She pulled out a plain crucifix hanging proudly from a chain. Both were highly polished iron that seemed to shine as though it was nickel or silver. She slowly moved it to the light, where she was sure it would catch Marie's attention.

"This hasn't marked me or my family for death, and neither did the black robes of the Benedictines damn his holiness Leo XIV to the burning flames and choking smoke of a Wickerman long before his ascension to the papacy five years ago."

Though Aisling barely held on to her twin faiths, she held her tongue as she fought back the instinct to bring up Marie's own crimes against Catholics specifically, Christians generally, and Humanity broadly. She was going to at least try to get the woman to talk before resorting to more drastic measures.
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The Imarian Monarchy
Attaché
 
Posts: 68
Founded: Jan 22, 2018
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Imarian Monarchy » Tue Nov 02, 2021 8:28 pm

Lorena di Valero
Bejing

"I'm enjoying the Festivities Madam Voß, the splendor in this one event outshines anything our meager home court can assemble. Now uh Miss, I was curious if you'd have any input on a matter. I am concerned my husband is getting too close with Von Konstantin, I understand you're stance on him given his past. I just want to try and tell my husband to widen the personal distance. I don't mind the alliance to topple the petulant regent across the boarder, but I don't want him to do something foolish involving himself or our family in a deal with that madman."
Last edited by The Imarian Monarchy on Tue Nov 02, 2021 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Naval Monte
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 13638
Founded: Sep 04, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Naval Monte » Tue Nov 02, 2021 8:55 pm

Australia- The Ride Never Ends
Release Us


German men screamed as their bodies were propelled into the air as a powerful explosion tore through the air. Klaus retreated back into the metal cased interior of his Leopard 2 for protection as dirt and shrapnel fell at the tank at speeds equivalent to pistol rounds being fired directly at him. "Mein Gott! Ze bastards are giving us a pounding!" He shouted at the radio. "Please mein Kaiser. Aid us!" The general was greeted with only silent from the Kaiser.

The tank shook as an artillery round almost hit it. Klaus gulp as he felt cold sweat run down his forehead. He was abandoned by the Kaiser. The general was thinking of what to do as he suddenly felt his tank getting cold as he can hear the sounds of a saw powering up from outside. Klaus would hear would screams coming from his own men but also from the enemy as he can hear the screeching of something inhuman from outside. The screech made the hairs on the back of his skin stand on ends.

The driver of the tank had stopped the war machine as he gazed from outside what was happening. His eyes widen with horror as he can see the carnage before him.

"vat is happening out zere?" Klaus heard one of the tank crew asked the driver. The general shouted in German to have everyone stand down as he can hear the sounds of machinery going off and heard the sounds of bones splintering. As screams surrounded them one of the soldiers began to pray for mercy while another tried to cover his ears to drown out the horrible noises.

The crew would hear a loud thud as they heard and even felt something landing on their tank. The screams would begin to die down.

No one in the tank said a word as they waited for something to happen.

"Klaus."

The general was startled when he heard Heinrich's voice.

"I have done as you asked of me. Do not disappoint me now, Klaus." the kaiser told him before ceasing communication.

The general looked at the radio and up at the hatch. He can feel his instincts telling him to not open it, to remain within the safe confines of the tank and to keep it stationary. But he can not disappoint his lord now that they are so close to the city.

The general would swallow down his fears and make his way up the hatch. As he was at the hatch he would press his hand on it and stop. He thought to himself if he truly wants to do this?

The man shook his head and pushed it up.

As he got off the tank he would look around and he would be hit with a powerful smell. It was the metallic scent of blood intermix with the smell of gunfire, explosives, and burnt metal and flesh. Around him he would find bodies strewn about the battlefield. He saw hideous boils and tumors cover their bodies. Deep lacerations marked at vital areas that was cut with such clean percussion that it was the work of a master surgeon or assassin. But what disturbed him the most was the skinless bodies that littered the battlefield. Some had entire limbs missing including their heads. Others were cut open and had organs and even bones taken. Some bodies were absent entirely as large pools of blood and discarded weapons and shredded pieces of clothing acted as the only sign that a person was once present.

On his tank he would find the object that landed on it. A body that was completely flayed and with it's chest and ribs cut open, it's organs completely harvested.

Klaus was speechless as he tried to understand what happened.

"Over zere!" he heard one of the German soldiers, who miraculously survived, screamed out with such dread that it made Klaus almost pause in turning to the direction the soldier pointed but turned he did.

At the hill where artillery guns once rained down he would see a sanguine mist hovering in the air, most of it converging on a specific spot.

Klaus and the soldiers would see the mist stretching out it's form, each part acting like tendrils, as it grabbed whatever body or body part it can find and bring it before the mist in it's entirety. They would see the bodies being moved around and merged together as the mist began to form around them and change their form, they would see a shape beginning to take form.

Klaus heard several soldiers scream or curse as they saw the thing that was taking manifesting before them.

The... creature... that was forming was a tall being, probably equal or greater in height to Hammer. It's body was emaciated from what they can see from behind it's ragged, blood and pus stained, ash choked robes and shawl. The body below was covered with legions of infected scars and painfully protruding boils that pulsated, some having burst open and releasing foul smelling ooze from the bleeding wounds. Much of it's aged body was gangrenous, diseased, and twisted. Stitches that seem to be inflamed or were on the verge of opening as yellow bile began to leak out were arranged to form esoteric symbols.

Black leather fingers, each one being as spindly as a spider's legs, crackled like bitter bones as they moved. On its hands it held implements of surgery, each one drenched in blood.

The face of the creature was close to being a human skull. It's teeth were yellow and cracked with some being made of rusty metal, mainly it's fangs. The creature's gums were blacken, inflamed and diseased. The top portion of the skull was missing to show it's enlarged brain, of which a crown of barbed wires clung around it as black iron spikes that were attached to the plugs used by a brain scanning helmet that was stabbed directly into his brain and now hung on him like synthetic hair. It's body was both fully form yet breaking down and reverting back to the bloody mist it was form from.

The creature's sunken in, bloodshot, pale yellow eyes were being forced open by wire speculum that were fused to it's flesh. Those sickly eyes were staring at the Germans.

The soldiers all backed away from fear as the creature turned to them. Klaus can almost feel his stomach wanting to release all of it's content as his fear and disgust grew.

"Vhy? Vhy of all daemons he could have summoned it had to be a Nepharite, and zat one in particular." The man knew of that creature very well. Klaus was present when he saw the Nepharite experimenting on it's "patients".

Klaus would blink and he almost screamed as the Nepharite was now hovering close to his face.

"Klaus." The Nepharite spoke, it's voice carrying a scratching, discordant, and painful tune, almost like two pieces of metal rubbing against each other. The entity stunk of blood and decay, of bleach and medical solutions, of anemic fluids and pus. The urge to vomit was growing stronger now as the smell was burning his nostrils, making his eyes watery.

"Your forces will join with the witches of the sky. Their aerial warships will reach the city. My constructs would aid you."

Klaus wonder what he meant when suddenly he would see hulking creatures made of flesh and blood rise up. The missing body parts and skin of the dead soldiers all being used to create these abominable golems. The golems would let out painful screams that echo the voices of the soldiers that they were made from as they charged after their former comrades with surprising speed.

"Do keep up general." The Nepharite told him as it reverted into it's misty form and fly after it's creations.

Once the Nepharite was away Klaus would lean back and proceed to vomit. The general would take deep breaths once he was done even as he heard that Albion's aerostats have reached the city.

"Follow after them." He ordered.

He knew his forces would need some time to reach the city but he had no intention on catching up to that thing any time soon. He rather take his time to reach the city. Let the sky Brits deal with the enemy for a while longer if it means he can enjoy keeping some distance between him and that accursed demon.

"Vhy the Kasier summoned you Jahvi?" Klaus muttered before ordering his men to march forward.
Last edited by Naval Monte on Tue Nov 02, 2021 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Naval Monte- The Mediterranean crossroads of mind-controlling conspiracies, twisted dimensions, inhuman depravity, questionable science, unholy commerce, heretical faiths, absurd politics, and cutting-edge art.

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Demencia
Envoy
 
Posts: 345
Founded: Sep 12, 2010
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Demencia » Tue Nov 02, 2021 9:16 pm

The Morrígan
Williamsdale, New South Wales


As the battle in Canberra raged on, the former town of Williamsdale twenty-five miles to the south had been abandoned. It was a shell of its former self, its homes and buildings now empty and in disrepair from years of neglect. At one point, it had been a nice town. Perhaps it might even have been a nice town again someday, were it not for circumstances outside of its control.

The ground beneath the town began to shake hard, as the earth ripped itself in two opening up a wide fissure that stretched for a kilometer. Ethereal mist flowed from the crack in the earth as building collapsed and tumbled inwards. As the tremors began to settle, a large clawed wing reached from within the chasm and grabbed onto the lip. A second one appeared farther down the line, and a second, smaller, tremor occurred. A golden head rose from within, its scales refracting light within the mist causing it to almost sparkle. A second head appeared, then a third. All three heads let out a mighty roar, and the beast drug itself out of the rift.

On land, the beast stretched its body out, its wings appearing to be a quarter of a kilometer. Its three horrible heads twisting through the air, craning their necks until it stood upright—at least 150 meters tall. Behind it trailed three tails as long as the necks, each tipped with a round club studded with spikes.

The dragon flapped its massive wings, kicking up a tremendous gust that toppled more buildings as it took to the skies. It flew northwest, heading directly with an apparent target in mind. It flew over Canberra, seemingly ignoring the fighting below it. Once near the heart of the city at Capital Hill, it landed with a massive shockwave. It stretched its wings out to their full extension and leaned its heads back before letting out a deafening roar, shaking buildings and shattering glass blocks away. Yet for its intimidating posturing, the monster did not attack. Instead, three voices were heard throughout the entire city as if they were omnipresent.

"We carefully select every death in history, yet you would still stand against us?" asked the ominous and recognizable lilts of the Morrígan. "There's no use in running now, if you have come this far, you are already doomed." Suddenly her tone changed, as she called out to the beast itself. "Ith a n-anamacha!, Ellén Trechend! Ná fág aon rud ina sheasamh!"

Without hesitation, each of the three heads of the Ellén Trechend unleashed a torrent of searing hot flame down into the city before turning and sending another jet of fire into a different area, laying waste to everything and everyone that stood before it.
Last edited by Demencia on Tue Nov 02, 2021 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Union Princes
Minister
 
Posts: 3270
Founded: Nov 02, 2017
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Union Princes » Tue Nov 02, 2021 9:23 pm

Bingellia wrote:Aisling Keyes
-snip-


"You're not a priest, Aisling. So cease lecturing me of the Holy Scripture." Marie ground her teeth until her molars cracked when she noticed the shining crucifix hanging from Aisling's neck. "And even if you were, you would be a false prophet. A false messiah. A hope-monger. You're no Christian! You can't worship both God and the Morrigan."

"But alas," The Regent breathe deeply to calm herself. "Let's try again...shall we? For starters, because I'm sure that you need to be advised on how these meetings work, you don't interrupt one. It's rude, especially for someone of your rank, but since it's unexpected for you to do it, I'll forgive your sudden entry. Secondly, when you speak to your 'vassals' you treat them with honor and respect, especially when they are hosting you in their capital, regardless of your personal feelings with them. To make random demands out of the blue is very inconsiderate; you would do well if you had some patience and think about your word choice. It would seriously damage any diplomatic engagements, don't you agree?"

"On a final note," she continued as she leaned forward in her chair, "Do put effort in making yourself presentable. I didn't think you would be so poor in taste and wealth for you to not wear a suit or dress for a cordial meeting. Would it kill you to take a shower? I smell death all over your armor. If you want, I can contact a five-star hotel in this city and arrange for the finest room with the best shower for you to refresh once we're done here."

"Now, Aisling," Marie concluded her brief lecture in a soft tone, "Tell me...why are you here? What am I needed for? And what is my reward for accomplishing said task? Can you answer these questions in a polite, thoughtful, and honest statement so I can comprehend your enigmatic goals a little more?"
Last edited by Union Princes on Tue Nov 02, 2021 9:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
There is no such thing as peace, only truce between wars

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Demencia
Envoy
 
Posts: 345
Founded: Sep 12, 2010
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Demencia » Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:27 pm

Anneliese Voß
Beijing


Anneliese's expression soured at the mention of the West German. "That isn't a difficult sentiment to have, considering that any relationship is too close." That such a man would be allowed to show his face in public let alone be in charge of anything was a damning indictment on the world. "I'd kill him myself if I thought it wouldn't upset the witch." She had a reputation of not being a violent woman—arguably being the most pacifistic leader in all of Europe—but even her forgiveness had its limits.

"Your husband might think the enemy of his enemy is his friend, or that he is dealing with the lesser of two evils, but he would be wise to take heed to your warning." She leaned back in her massive chair. "In Österreich we have a saying, 'History is constantly teaching, but it does not find many pupils.' I will have no part in any alliance involving someone of his character. I can not sacrifice my morals for this. There are ways to accomplish goals and still be able to sleep at night."

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Naval Monte
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 13638
Founded: Sep 04, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Naval Monte » Wed Nov 03, 2021 12:07 am

Australia- Hell on Earth
And now, the end is near


The city of Canberra was now within sights. Transport ships flew off from Camelot to drop off constructs and troops for the ground battle in the city as the jets engage against aerial forces. As the Aerostats flew above the city their mighty wings would cast a shadow over the last sanctuary of the old world rebels. Like Valkyries descending down from Asgard the aerial warships would begin to rain down projectiles on the city to clear the streets off enemy encampments and fortification.

Alex had her back turn to the destruction being brought down as she was looking at a screen that had her commanders. "Have our ground forces manage to catch up to us?"

One of the commanders would reply. "Most of our forces have manage to reach the city. A few remained behind to aid allied forces with stragglers." Alex nodded as she placed the back of her hand on her left hip, leaning to her right side as she did so.

"Just follow through the plan and we should clear out a major part of the city by the time the others reach the city. Do keep civilian casualties to a minimum. Soldiers are at the discretion of our troops down below." she told them.

She wants this war to end as quickly as possible before anyone of her allies does something incredibly stupid that not only gets millions killed from the civilian side but also kills their supposed allies as well.

"We detected a large anomaly in our radars approaching the city!" an officer stationed at their station. Other officers from both within the command bridge and from the bridge of the other Aerostats would all report detecting something approaching the city and the unidentified flying object being massive.

"How massive? Is it an airship? A missile?" Alex shouted, fear evident on her voice. She thought that the resistance may have their own Aerostatic Vehicle but she knew that would be impossible as they made sure the technological and thaumaturgical secrets behind their construction remained a closely guarded secret. The possibility of a spy stealing those designs is not too far fetched but last she heard their knowledge of magic wasn't as extensive as Albion, she doubt they could replicate the same thaumaturgical technologies as Albion.

The other idea that brought a much greater fear was it being a missile carrying another nuclear device. She can not wait around to risk her people's lives

"All units retreat from the city at once!" the Thaumarch ordered.

The crew began the process of trying to turn the massive aircrafts but the large frame of the Aerostats, and Camelot in particular, meant that turning for them would be an arduously slow process.

As the aerial fleet tried to make a U-Turn they would still be at a good angle to see the unidentified flying object that their radar detected; a massive golden flying hydra.

"What th" Alex wouldn't be able to finish as the dragons let out roars that deafen everything else in the city as they began to unleash torrents of flames at everything in the city.

"Our units are being massacred by that monster!" Alex heard someone screaming. She held on to a desk for dear life as the craft shook.

From the window she would see one of the smaller Aerostats, the one made for aerial defense, being hit by the stream of flames and in a display of the sheer intensity of the heat she would see the craft explode. Shrapnel of the destroyed craft would fly to the other craft that was flying close to it the pieces would tear through its companion. She would see the aerostat listening as it began to fall down to the ground as it lost all power. The craft having many explosions rocking through it's hull as it began to plummet down to the city below.

The three remaining crafts already facing away from the dragon when suddenly another aerostat, an electronic craft this time, was struck from behind. The heat would some of it's engines to blow up and many other systems of the craft to blow up. As the hull of the craft was melting it would begin to fall down slowly as it's body began to turn to the left side.

As the Aerostats began to fall many soldiers began to flee from the city. Those close to transport crafts would board and fly. Some flying constructs able to carry people would snatch soldiers and take them away, more grounded constructs would carry soldiers in hopes of saving them.

From the outskirts Klaus would see the dragon destroying and flying wreckage of falling Aerostats falling down. "Retreat!" the German shouted as he saw some of his troops being consumed by streams of fire. The Germans began to leave the battlefield.

Also on the outskirts Amir would spy the destruction being done. The man would sneer at the carnage before turning his back and walking to a general.

"Tell our soldiers that we will not aid in the assault in the city. This war is over for us." he told the general before he continue walk away from what was the final battle of the war. As he did so another Aerostat would be destroyed as it's flaming wreck would fall down on the city.

In the burning city the Nepharite known as Jahvi would materialize on the roof of a building as he watch the dragon destroy everything. His eyes would soon land on Morrigan.

"So that is the fabled Morrigan that Heinrich keeps babbling on about. I must admit that her tendency for destruction might aid my masters in the future. If what that old fool say is true she is the one mortal who can either become a great ally or hindrance. Though her love for chaos may be enough to sway us to our cause." The Nepharite would disperse into mist just before another stream of flames would hit the building he stood on top of. The constructs it created were all consumed by the flames but the Nepharite cared little for them or for the German troops killed. They mattered little in the grand scheme of things. They have serviced their roles in the grand game and now new pieces are being added while the old are being discarded.

On the air the Camelot was the sole Aerostat left in the air.

"This is Camelot! We are in Canberra and we aren't sure if we can escape from the dragon's attack!" Alex said to a radio that she is sending out to any lord close by to hear it. "We lost four ships in our fleet and I fear this vessel will join them soon. Please find our location if we crash." the ship would shake violently as a loud explosion would be heard, causing the lights to flicker and alarms to ring out.

"Please! I don't want to die in here! I want to see my little girl again!" Alex cried out as she no longer could hold her fear and desperation. The ship would shake again as more explosions rocked it. The craft would begin to turn downward as it was falling down to the city.

"No! No! No! I don’t want it to end like this!" Alex shouted through the radio before it would cut off as the reactor shut off to prevent it from being damage and causing an explosion. The flaming hulk of the Camelot would be seen falling through several buildings before crashing down on the city, a final explosion coming from the back that would tear a large hole through the craft.
Naval Monte- The Mediterranean crossroads of mind-controlling conspiracies, twisted dimensions, inhuman depravity, questionable science, unholy commerce, heretical faiths, absurd politics, and cutting-edge art.

Make wonderful memories here, in Naval Monte.

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Miekzhemy
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1473
Founded: Sep 24, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Miekzhemy » Wed Nov 03, 2021 2:57 am

Co-written w/ Brit and Bing


Viktoria von Eisenfaust
Freyja Graefin von Ehrenburg
Khereid Dorjigiin Tolui-Noyan
Khereid Dorjigiin Alakai-Khagan, the Míngzhì Empress



养心殿
Yǎngxīndiàn, the Hall of Mental Cultivation

紫禁城
Zǐjìnchéng, The Forbidden City
Beijing - The Great Empire of Yuan




"There are reasons my brother serves as an extension of my will, and none else..."

The door slid open with a soft scrape of lacquered wood, allowing the Empress to float gracefully into the next chamber, with Viktoria and Freyja following silently behind her.

Compared to the throne hall they had just left, this chamber was smaller. A square-shaped room, marked with decorative rugs and painted murals that spanned its length and width. The walls were of sectioned panels of wood, with a scant few empty archways separating it from its adjacent rooms. Old but restored furnishings sat roughly where they did in the chamber’s heyday: Cushioned seats and fancy tables, complimented by the relics, knick-knacks, and decorative trinkets that adorned much of the Forbidden City--all of which surrounding another finely-carved, bench-like throne, flanked by a curtain of golden silk that concealed the back room.

Unlike the vibrant palaces they had seen already, this place was less extravagant - almost homey, even. Like the humble lounge or study of an aristocrat. But at the same time, if they concentrated enough amidst the tranquil magical presence that had permeated the entire palace complex since they first arrived, an almost unsettling atmosphere hung in the air here. An almost haunting aura, casting a chill down the spine despite the warmth of the sun shining brightly through the windows.

Like something - or someone - was still here. Watching...

"The East Warmth Chamber," the Empress said plainly in her faint, soft voice. There was a tinge of scorn in her tone, though. Almost as if she felt disdain for this antiquated little room they had just entered. "It was used for private audiences. And just like the Main Hall, it was here that the Emperor handled the...day-to-day tasks of his rule."

She scoffed at nothing in particular--likely on account of her own English articulation--as she came to a stop near the center of the room. The diminutive Empress then lowered herself to the ground, her flat-bottomed shoes touching down softly upon the plush carpet. She advanced to the side of the throne, gaze fixed upon the thin veil of golden silk that hung behind it.

"But in the days of Emperor Tóngzhì and Guāngxù, it was not they that truly ruled the country, but the Empress Dowager,” she went on, as if reciting the history she had learned time and time again. “For forty-seven years Cíxī ruled from behind this curtain, outliving the young Tóngzhì and turning the reformer Guāngxù into a puppet. Even on her deathbed, so fearful was she of his reforms, the Empress Dowager ordered him poisoned…”

She ever-so-slightly hung her head, fingers running gently along the modest throne beside her.

“And less than four years later, the Qing was no more.”

The girl’s hand clasped tightly around the armrest of the little throne. She still had yet to turn and face them again.

"I would ask another question of you, Lady von Eisenfaust..." the Empress muttered. "When you look upon me...?"

"Do you see another Tóngzhì? Another Guāngxù? Another inept child, at the mercy of her inferiors?"

Viktoria sat down on one of the posh cushions, listening to the girl-empress before her, and half-noticing the opulence of the room--the gilded cage where the Empress was allowed some respite.

The Kaiserin inhaled, sitting perfectly straight as she regarded Alakai.

“I know only that until now, ma’am, that you have been kept behind a silk curtain, have been a pawn to others,” Viktoria told her, her right fist clenching. “Which is why, unless you take power, you’ll be subject to it.”

Barely had Viktoria finished her sentence before the Empress slowly shook her head. Like she’d had this discussion before.

“You know nothing of what you ask…”

The girl turned her ear to Viktoria, half-bearing her face to the Kaiserin. Her tired eyes stared aimlessly into the wall ahead. “The rain falls. The land breathes. The people thrive. All by my hand, and my hand alone. Just as the earth grovels before me, so too does Heaven itself kowtow before its Daughter. They know this well. If I so much as desired my subjects’ lives?”

Alakai turned, looking upon them for a moment.

“I need only ask, and they would throw them at my feet.”

“And yet, here we all are, in the one and room in this palace you can call your own, away from the men who think they can use their god for their own ends,” Freyja finally broke her own silence after following the two empresses through their conversation.

Reaching into her jacket once more, she retrieved her flask and took a swig of its contents. Her eyes narrowed in rage as brutal memories flashed in her mind. Of her father, of the IWZ, and of Herr Eisenfaust.

“It’s a familiar situation to both of us, little empress, and we relegated many of those pretenders to the dust-bin of history,” She explained in a cold, distant fury, but her emotions steadily grew stronger and clearer.

“If all you need to do is act, then simply do it! Remind the pigs of their place, and bend them to your will! Crush them underfoot now, or risk dealing with them for the rest of your rule.”

Freyja laughed heartily as a twisted smirk grew on her face. “I’m sorry, I forgot my manners,” She mockingly stated as waved the flask towards Alakai. “Would you like a drink, your Majesty?”

“No, thank you,” she said immediately, almost interrupting Freyja’s offer. The smell of the liquid hidden within the flask was unmistakable. And while she was no stranger to its occasional use in ceremonies, her age and strict dietary regimen alone made it off-limits for anything beyond that. But judging by her rather contorted expression as she watched Freyja drink, it likely wasn’t something she wanted in the first place.

At the same time though, the Empress appeared to half-concede to the fiery-haired woman’s words. She rose off the floor again, leaning back somewhat - seemingly lounging in mid-air rather than upon the throne - hands idly clasped together.

“I would like to,” the Empress quietly admitted, almost ashamed to say it. “It is...something that has been suggested before. By those who served my father…”

She shook her head again, hardly feeling the need to explain his past deeds to the two.

“But I am not my father. I will not see the country…” she paused, taking a moment to choose the right word. ”Ravaged, again. Not when a peaceful way is possible. I cannot…”

Freyja shrugged at the rejection, and contemplated taking another drink before returning the flask to the inside of her coat.

“The critics of the Reich will not say we are the most liberal state born in the New Order, but Viktoria’s ascension has seen improvements for mi gente, the people of South America. Improvements that would not be possible if we had not dealt with the old guard.

“Be a shining example of enlightened despotism as Friedrich der Große was if you please, but it will not be possible unless you wrangle the petty factions.”

“Do not seek to lecture me on such things,” the Empress muttered, the firmness in her tone giving way to a more dismissive one.

“Your petty politics…bore me.”

The girl fluttered idly to the other end of the room, her gaze lingering on the painted murals that spanned the walls near the ceiling. “With this Conference, they will bind themselves willingly for all to witness. Without conflict. And come what may, they will bend the knee. One way or another…”

The Empress’ glazed, apathetic eyes looked back to the two.

“You still have not told me why you have come,” she said. “You have business with me, and me alone, do you not…?”

“I’m not here to waste anyone’s time,” Viktoria told her. “I am here, because I prefer a strong East Asia to a weak one. I am here to tell you to get your House in order because Russia threatens all of us.” Viktoria furrowed her brow.

“You have claims on Siberia, including Vladivostok and the Sakhalin Islands. The Red Tsar, should he be removed from power--through diplomacy or war--and I shall make sure that territory goes to the Great Yuan’s care.”

For a long time, the Empress hovered in place, lounged in the air, stuck in quiet deliberation.

The land. Her people. Her father's claims. The source of this entire blasted feud. She wanted nothing to do with their conflicts with the Russians. Frankly, she wanted nothing to do with Sergei Zakharov at all - and no doubt the feeling was mutual. Their diplomatic relations had been practically nonexistent since her accession to the throne. And while the prospect of war was still distant so long as the status quo was maintained, she and Sergei's silent, mutual disdain for each other was still detrimental to mending the rift between their two nations. Her brother always spoke of attempting to improve relations - at least to keep him off their proverbial backs until their hegemony over East Asia was...amended. But should conflict be escalated...?

No. She was not ready. The country was not ready. The Empress shook her head once more.

"I will not be dragged in as a pawn in your game with the...First Citizen," she said simply. What a nonsensical title, she thought. "Not while there are still rifts within..."

She deigned to elaborate.

"My country is not like yours, Lady Viktoria," the Empress mused. "The feuds of culture. Of tradition. They run deep. For years. Centuries. My father united them all by force. But the moment he left this world, it only fell apart again. Not...easy things to correct, in such a short amount of time. They are old wounds."

The girl nonetheless looked back to Viktoria, the look on her face seeming...sympathetic, in a way.

"The Conference will mend these wounds."

Freyja was faintly tapping her heel on the floor in a slow, steady rhythm as she listened to the pair once more. Her bored expression grew more and more disinterested with each passing tap.

“Pray to the gods it works, little majesty, and that your petty politics remain a bore to me” Freyja grumbled as the pace of her taps slowly grew.

“But there are wolves looking for prey beyond these walls, and little girls so often get mauled in the grim fairy tales. I would not gamble on cowing one into acting like a loyal dog, as it will only go for the throat when you are least expecting it. We all know the solution is to put them down.”

Freyja stole a glance to Viktoria once more before returning her narrow gaze to Alakai.

“Now, shall we regale your majesty with more war stories? Or shall I sing as Lady Viktoria so kindly offered you, or are we going to sit and wait for the diplomats to lie to one another over dinner?”

Viktoria, who remained silent for some time, gave a disappointed sigh. She knew her proposal to Alakai was a long shot, but she couldn’t help but feel somewhat let down.

Freyja, too, seemed to agree, and Viktoria glanced over at her friend before looking at the Empress.

But the girl in front of them no longer even bothered to feign amusement.

“This…crude behavior, in your underlings,” she muttered before Viktoria could even speak. The indifference in her tone was tinged with not just disdain, but also a hint of genuine curiosity.

“Is it tolerated where you come from, Lady Viktoria?”

Viktoria furrowed her brow a bit.

“Gruppenführerin von Ehrenburg is free to speak her mind, an indulgence I do not give out freely,” she told the Empress plainly. “She also,” Viktoria started, glancing for a moment at the red-haired soldier, allowing a brief smile to form on her visage before turning back to Alakai, “she also speaks honestly from our experience.” The Kaiserin paused for a moment, remembering their treatment at the hands of the SS officers during their time in Valkyrie Squad.

“We were both pawns to court politics, and our powers were used. Oh, they treated us well sometimes. Parades. Parties. Even Party Conferences.” Viktoria’s frown grew, as she thought about that day, about the sins they committed, and had to commit.

“But we were treated like disposable weapons. That’s why--”

“That’s why we plunged our daggers into the bastards’ fat, pudgy guts.” Freyja nearly shouted as she interrupted Viktoria, wildly gesturing across the room with her arms as she sprung to her feet.

“Then we twisted the blade and crushed their fucking windpipes under our boots--!”

In an instant, the Empress’ eyes flashed in a glimmer of bright, azure light.

”SILENCE.”

Though she did not yell, the girl’s voice came as thunder. An echo in their very mind. Not in the way of sound reverberating within a wide open room, but something else. Unnatural. Almost magical, even. Rippling through the air in an otherworldly manner, overwhelming even the tranquil auras that permeated the sacred palaces of the Forbidden City.

So sudden and overpowering in fact, that it almost shoved the red-haired woman back into her seat.

Then, just like the lightning she had called forth during the ceremony, it was gone. The light faded, returning her eyes to their natural deep blue, and the room to its quiet state of tranquility.

“My brother spoke of the Congress weeks ago. In Australia,” she said. Her voice returned to its typically demure tone, yet renewed with that firm, authoritative demeanor. Had she even moved…? “The disgraceful, barbaric behavior! I will not suffer such disrespect within these walls…”

Her eyes darted to Viktoria, and she asked outright.

“Do you think I am a pawn to my dear brother?”

“In a sense, yes,” Viktoria said after some thought. “In much the same way he’s a pawn to court intrigue. Heed his advice, for he gives wise counsel, but never forget you, not he, are the Great Lord of East Asia.”

After a pause, the Empress slowly drifted to the center of the room, still lounged in the air, before finally lowering herself into the modest little throne. She crossed her arms over the carved wooden armrest, providing a semblance of cushion for her chin to rest upon. There was a solemn look on the girl’s face as she pondered Viktoria’s words. “He has told me this before, yes…”

“My brother has done much, in only a little time,” she vaguely reminisced. “Without him, the country… It may have not survived the death of our father. It could have crumbled, again. Returned to the way things were before. He has passed many… responsibilities upon me, as I grow older…” she went on, taking a bit to correctly form the words. “But his own are still many. It...tires him, even if he hides it…”

The Empress frowned. “But he still cares for me. Talks with me. Teaches me. Takes me...places.”

Her eyes looked to the floor for a time.

“He is...a good person.”

“He is an effective regent, no doubt,” Freyja said, though her tone made it unclear if it was a concession or just an admission of fact. “But good men do not hold power for long. Do not mistake his fondness of you as notions of morality.”

Sighing, her green eyes softened as she remembered just who it was she was looking at. “But it is good you have family that cares for you. That…”

She glanced once more towards Viktoria as she pondered what to say before she too looked to the floor.

“That is a luxury I have never known,” She added softly.

Viktoria looked over at Freyja and placed a hand over Freyja’s hand, offering her a sad smile before returning her attention to the East Asian Empress, as Freyja clenched Viktoria’s gloved hand and squeezed lightly. Though the Empress regarded it with indifference, their display of affection did remind her of something. Something that brought a vague frown to her perpetually solemn face. When she finally spoke again, her tone bore with it a hint of empathy for the two.

“You were...separated from your families too, then,” she muttered to neither one specifically, half-muffled by the sleeve her chin rested on. “None to call your own. None to trust…”

“Forced to look to each other, instead…”

“Our family, our home, was Valkyrie Squad,” Viktoria returned with a slight frown, remembering the torture they endured at the hands of their SS overseerers. “That is why we have such distrust towards things like courts, and why we relied on each other when shaping our government.”

The Empress sluggishly sat up in her throne. “The affairs of my court are not a concern,” she said, rather casually dismissing Viktoria’s argument. Almost as if she had discussed this before. “Their loyalty is without question.”

She lounged again somewhat, hand on her cheek, taking only a few seconds of that tell-tale rigid posture before growing bored of it once more.

“But there are…contingencies, in place. Plans already in motion…” the Empress went on, a hint of mild confidence and hope in her soft voice. “It will take more than two-faced lords and a little Conference to bring the Empire to heel…”

The girl’s lips twisted into another faint smile. She gestured to the door, seemingly granting the Kaiserin leave if she had no further business.

“Will that be all, Lady Viktoria?”

Doubt remained on Viktoria’s features as she rose from her seat, letting go of Freyja's hand as she did so and bowed to the Empress.

“It will be, ma’am,” she told her politely. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us, and my offer is still open, should you reconsider.”

“Mm...” the soft sound escaped the sitting Empress’ lips, vaguely acknowledging that statement. As they rose, the girl raised her voice one more time, calling out.

“Эрхэм Aх!”

There was a short pause, followed by the paneled wooden door from whence they came quietly sliding open again. Tolui leaned inside somewhat, not so much to get a look inside, but rather to simply reveal himself.

“Тэднийг буцааж ав, гуйя,” the Empress said simply. The Prince merely bowed his head, before offering a beckoning gesture to the two.

But even as they disappeared through the doorway, finally relieving the girl of her first meeting with a foreign dignitary, she continued to sit lounging in her little throne in the East Warmth Chamber. For a long minute she pondered their words. Their goals. Their...offer.

Until, for just a moment, an innocent grin formed on her face.

’Ямар гоё улаан үс…’






Major Batugiin Khaltar-Baghatur

Yuan Expeditionary Forces - 16th 'Dzambul' Honor Guard
2nd 'Yangir' Recon Volunteer Detachment

Canberra, New South Wales
20 May, 2020



There were no enemies. Only survivors.

Flanked by the remains of his own fireteam, Khaltar scrambled down the flaming streets of Canberra, the smoke in the air wreaking havoc on his throat. It was a minor miracle they had even survived the initial wave of the hellish monster's fire--one chalked up to the timely intervention of the singular bannerman the squad had taken with them. Not even an hour ago, the group of blue-uniformed Mongols of the Honor Guard had been holding fast in this relatively quiet sector of the city, preventing any Resistance forces from flanking the regiments of Albionite and Asian forces. And having lost contact with the rest of their detachment, they had no choice but to run. As far away from their monstrous would-be executioner as they could.

Now, what was once an entire platoon of Her Majesty's finest, only eight remained.

It couldn't end this way...

They hugged the densely-packed buildings of the city blocks as they ran for the outskirts, ready to dive for cover in the event of yet another deluge of purifying flame from...

From...

"What even was that?!" spluttered a Corporal behind him, the raw destruction and carnage of the past few minutes having reduced even the trained young Metahuman into near hysteria. Blood, soot and grime covered his face and uniform. "This--! It...it wasn't meant to be like this--!"

"Steel yourself, boy!" the Major growled, he himself seeming run ragged by the ordeal. He momentarily looked over his shoulder as they continued to run. "It is not yet our time! Do you hear me!?"

Not today...

More explosions and the screech of ripping and crashing steel deafened the lot of them from above. Even the aircraft were being brought low. Khaltar snapped his gaze to the sky.

"Albion--?" He vaguely recognized the appearance of the ships retreating from Canberra's airspace, engulfed one-by-one in a fiery inferno before either spiraling out of the sky or outright exploding in the air. Even the last could not hope to escape unscathed, having been shot down. Sent as a blazing comet on a downward nosedive into the city.

Though perhaps his shot nerves were why he did not notice until too late, his previously narrow eyes widened in shock at the sudden realization.

It was getting closer.

"ТҮГ!"

Khaltar's shriek was followed by a deafening cacophony of crumbling rubble from the ruined high-rise building next to them. The ground shook and rippled beneath their feet, nearly causing the entire squad to lose their balance. Before the building could even register the impact, the crashed ship had already barreled through the entire street and into the next, the fiery blast that followed almost outright rupturing their eardrums. For a time, the stern-faced Mongol could only watch the destruction before and above him. The plummeting hellfire and debris, ripping through the air and whatever around them had been unfortunate enough to be caught in its way.

But still he stood, almost paralyzed by his own bleak revelation. His career. His victories in Melbourne and Buller. His glory...

He told her he would return a hero.

A baghatur...

The bannerman at Khaltar's side, jacket ripped open by jagged shrapnel, could only fall to his knees, the end of the spear-like battle flag impacting the asphalt.

Clink!

In an instant, a bubble of glimmering azure light engulfed them.
Last edited by Miekzhemy on Wed Nov 03, 2021 6:27 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Europa Undivided
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Founded: Jun 18, 2019
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Europa Undivided » Wed Nov 03, 2021 8:46 am

Agustin Gamarra
Royalla, south of Canberra


At first, the halting of the enemy forces brought a wave of relief towards the defending Resistance forces, including Agustin, who had been the one that sent that snaking blast of energy. Alas, the artillery pieces began firing, and hellfire rained down from the skies towards the trenches and ruins that littered the defensive lines.

Agustin heard them well. Artillery was never the most subtle of weapons throughout the ages, and as the shells began to fall, his precognition began to issue warnings of impending doom, which he would remedy by teleporting to a short distance just to get out of the outermost radius of the blast zone, letting the shell detonate several dozen meters away in a cloud of fire, dust, and smoke. Any shrapnel from the blast would have simply been dashed away by his enhanced durability. While he felt the heat of the semi-distant explosion upon his skin, he wasn't hurt. Yet-

Boom. Another shell detonated a few meters short of engulfing his position in the trench, but it did throw up a lot of dirt, causing his hood to be littered with debris. Agustin did not take well to people putting unwanted things on his head, especially dust and dirt, and he hastily swept the thin film of the stuff away.

The troops, however, seemed to be encouraged. Were they fans? Perhaps the knowledge that someone with abilities was on their side and helping them was a boost to morale... whatever that may do to aid in delaying the fall. Especially with a combined assault soon coming in...

Agustin drew out the Terminus Est, the blade that his late mother forged with the inclusion of iron drawn from the blood of a hundred serfs, and set it alight with purple energy. It glowed like an iridescent flame in the middle of the smoke and dust plumes left behind by the recent artillery strikes. It could easily be seen by the nearby troops, who would know that this was the meta that had been helping them all this time, judging from the color of the blast from earlier.

"At the very least, this will be a battle worthy of being recorded in the history books.", Agustin whispered to himself as he set his attention to seeking out the Cryokinetic that had been commanding the North American Forces. Perhaps the mortal troops will not have to endure her frost if a one on one was forced between them. Maybe help cover the retreat of these mundanes.
But was that even possible? Perhaps. Anything can happen in this battle.

And so, he sent forth another beam of energy, this time aimed at the nearest formation of enemy troops as the line of his own side appeared to be collapsing. He knew just as well as anyone that the situation will soon break and there would be nothing left except to withdraw to a better position to fight another day-

The ground trembled. Cones of flame engulfed some of the Albionite aerostatic vehicles and Reich airships, the source being a giant three headed dragon that was now rampaging across the cityscape. It spared none, be it friend or-

"The Morrigan has no friends, that I can now see.", Agustin mentally noted at the sight of the indiscriminate friendly fire. Their enemies were simply powerful, but not united. That couldn't be farther from the truth as one of their Great Lords had begun killing her own allies in a fot of rage... shame that whatever blasted her back at Buller didn't finish the job.




Marek Sierakowsky Urbanek
Beijing


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"The Holy Father wanted his arrival to be a secret, and that he is very happy to be here. After all, it is his duty to represent the Church," the Secretary told him in Polish. "And, speaking for myself, I hope things are well in Poland, despite still being under the Russian Yoke." Vincenzo was nothing if not somewhat combative towards the Communist agenda.


"Secrecy makes for great security, then.", Marek nodded. He was glad to have met the Pope in person. The other important people in here are most certainly cutthroat politicians that just happened to be descended from superheroes, but His Holiness is set apart from them.

Marek then turned to Vincenzo, slightly smiling at the latter's wishes towards his country. "Affairs are going well in Poland, all things considered. No nation will ever have no problems, but at least we haven't been sunken to the sea or devoured by a genocidal dictator. My uncle is very... agreeable, to say the least. He does seem detached to humanity a little bit, though..."

His eyes flashed at that moment of oversharing, and shook his head. "Well, I'm glad to have met His Holiness in the flesh. My companion is mute, but I'm sure he's glad about it as well."

The Ghostknight nodded. It was true, then.
Last edited by Europa Undivided on Wed Nov 03, 2021 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Revlona
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Founded: Jan 23, 2017
Father Knows Best State

Postby Revlona » Wed Nov 03, 2021 10:37 am

Marsah Eelemu
Great Lord of Southern Asia
Canberra


"Begin pulling back forward units now!"

"Ma'am reports of heavy casualties!"

"The Seventh Infantry has lost contact with their forward units!"

Voices filled the air of the South Asian command tent, located just northwest of the Australian Capital, as more and more news of the ongoing battle reached them. Marsah and her command staff had watched as the Morrigan in the form of a three headed beast began to rain fire down upon the city indiscriminately. They had watched as the Albion air ships had fallen from the sky and as their allies had burned alive. Through all of it, Marsah had said nothing.

She sat now upon the mobile throne which had been carved from wood into a fiery design. Her fire guard surrounded her, their three commanders idly discussing the current situation as the command staff raced to salvage something of their forces which had pushed into the Canberra suburbs just the day before and had been making good progress.

"The beasts destructive power is very powerful yes, I'd say it rivals Her Majesty's own display at New Dubai, but it is down right treasonous the way it has been deployed. Indiscriminately killing and destroying not only the enemy population, but our own and allied troops. Something must be done about it!" Colonel Gregory Charron said, he was an American taken into the Queens personal service and the commander of the non-meta forces of the Fire Guard.

"I agree Gregory, but what can be done about it? The Queen herself might prove a match for the beast in destructive ability, but fighting between two great lords must not occur. Should we take it to the next congress?" Lieutenant-Commander Agastya Laghari said. She was a twenty seven year old Indian woman who served as the second in command of the Meta Fire Guard.

"Yes. The Congress is where we must voice our complaints, such a thing cannot be allowed to stand but I doubt anything will be done. She is a Great Lord after all." Commander Ishaan Anand said. He was a middle aged man who served as the overall Commander of the Fire Guard as well as the Commander of the Meta Fire Guard.

"No." Marsah said. Watching with subdued amusement as her three guards heads whipped around to face her, their attention firmly affixed upon her. They had been with her since the beginning, Agastya had been two years younger than Marsah when the rebellion had begun. At 17 she rallied her fathers forces, the Duchy of Gujarat, and had come to her friends aid. Inshaan is the younger brother to the Lord of Tamil Nadu and did likewise, though his brother was forced to expel him from the family for doing so without his leave. Gregory was a different case, he had been Marsahs tutor and bodyguard from birth. He had at firsted urged his young pupil to flee the country instead of attempting to fight but was soon brought around by her passionate urge to take her birthright back that he became her greatest supporter.

"What I did at New Delhi does not rival this wanton destruction. I took every possible measure to lesson the death count of my people, this abomination in the sky cares not." Marsah said, her voice icy in anger. She wore black and red that day as she did on most days. Atop her head she wore the silver band which she had taken as her crown, etched into the band were designs of flames. With one leg folded over the other and her chin propped up by her fist, she gazed out upon the battlefield, eyes narrowed as she watched the continued show.

"Ensure we have no more casualties, completely pull all forces from the city. We are done with this war." She said finally, her voice easily carrying over the controlled chaos which was the command tent even though she had not raised the volume with which she spoke. They all turned towards her, acknowledging her command with a bow before continuing their work.

"Gregory, go to the Albions. Offer them aid in finding their wounded when this destruction ends."

"Yes My Queen," the Colonel said before turning on his heel and exiting the tent.

With a final sigh, Marsah turned her gaze once again to the city before her. "Damn them," She muttered to herself.
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Pragia
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Pragia » Wed Nov 03, 2021 10:50 am

Co-Write with The Imarian Monarchy

Teris would be walking away from the South American delegation when he was approached by Ansolino. Teris was aware of and had been at functions where the Italian was present, though they did not have very much of a working relationship. The lord of Texas would pick up slightly, his expression breaking from a neutral one to a diplomatic smile “Lord Di Valero, nice to see you again, a shame we weren’t able to meet at the last congress. I’m good for whatever you wanted to pick my mind on, but I might have some of my own.”

He appreciated how direct the man was, it was a different speed from his previous conversation, one he was much more comfortable in.

Ansolino leaned over with his hand out for a hand shake before replying “No problem, Sir, I would be fine answering any of your questions first.”

Teris shrugged slightly, he didn’t want to impose, but a good leader listened, so he would open “Didn’t expect someone like you making your way all the way out here with your family, I like hopping around because its convenient, can’t imagine a thirteen hour flight is as easy to slug through. Just want to make a show of this thing?”

He’d known that the Italians had brought precious little force to bear in Australia, and Teris had figured that they were content to keep to themselves.

“Well Renner, my wife brought me out here with her. She wanted to spend some time together since I was in Australia. She came here to serve as an observer and I tagged along to spend time with Lorena and see the splendor of a foreign great house. Are there any more questions Sir?”

Teris would crack a half-smile “Your wife has excellent taste, I’d certainly say Beijing is among ‘most improved’ for cities in the last twenty years.” he’d comment cheerily “Nah, I’ll come up with more as we go, no need to call me sir, Teris works. What do you got for me?” He’d ask, surprised as to the italian’s mannerisms. He figured that easing into a conversation through family would be proper, but the Lord of Italy was certainly an exacting man.

“I came over to you to ask you a single request sir.” Ansolino paused to briefly ponder if the hall would be the best place to discuss the matter on his mind. “Would you be willing to lend some military equipment to Italy, I’ll let you know the reason if we can get a moment alone. Though I don’t think we'll get one here. If you’d like to meet together in one of the consulates after this conference that would work.”

Teris’ eyes would flash for a moment in understanding “I see. Well, I’d be happy to try and work out details of what we have to offer, but I must ask up front: to what end?” He would feign wariness, the NAU were prolific arms dealers, and the Free State a proud producer. Federated Boeing B-4 Stratolancers were produced just thirty miles northwest of his home, and while he was usually one to procure material for less-open shows of force, the prospect intrigued him.

He knew that the Italians were uncomfortable with their Western neighbors, indeed it was possible that Ansolino was briefed on the recent findings and was gearing up for the potential German reprisal. Indeed such a conflict was one he was more than happy to support, but he needed to play the part of a noble who was just approached to make a deal.

Ansolino glanced around for a bit to see if anyone outside of the NAU delegation was listening, “Renner, my goals is to provide arms to anyone inside of France in preparation for an invasion, I’m sure you can understand why. Marie’s Neo-Napoleonic ambitions is leading me to consider a punitive strike against her. I’m hoping to garner wider European support, and if possible direct outside military support as the situation with the Morrigan dead allows for it. On a related manner sir, I was hoping you’d support my bid for the European great lordship whenever the next Council meeting happens and if you’d send my Great Lordship request to Great Lord Kelvin I would be grateful.”

Teris would nod “Consider it done.” He didn't seem particularly concerned about eavesdroppers. “I can’t say much for direct support, usually not a good look, but the Kelvins can be fickle, and I don’t speak for them. Selling weapons is easily done, we can hammer out details after today’s festivities.” The teleporter appreciated how forward Ansolino was, and pushing the issue was the goal of the day. Perhaps there were still good leaders left in Europe after all.

“Thank you sir.” Ansolino Replied while reaching out to offer a handshake, “Renner, enjoy the rest of the festivities.” Teris would meet it happily “Indeed, well wishes from the Union. Take it easy Ansolino, we’ll talk later.”
Last edited by Pragia on Wed Nov 03, 2021 9:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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