The Hunt.

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Alpha
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Alpha » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:10 pm

3:00


As one camera feed went dark, the Alpha smiled. For a moment, she had thought Hector would succumb to weakness. Instead, he had risen to the occasion. Another feed came online, showing the still-smoking crater- and the still-living Akhilleus at the center. Radiation poured out of every pore, a walking Chernobyl. Even as she observed, one such unfortunate discovered that very fact first-hand.

She glanced over at Virgil. With no face, and little in the way of body language, he was always hard to read. But the slow nod he gave was indication enough. If he lived through the night, Hector Williams would have a place beside them, in the Pack. There was, of course, still the matter of his survival...

Onto the next event of interest. The ghost's battle dragged on, but looked to be nearing a conclusion. Capacitor's presence was a destabilizing factor, one to tilt the balance of the duel in favor of one side or another. There was no need to intervene there. Yet.

Briefly, she looked in on Jason, Garrick, and Calvin. Her hidden camera had been coated with ice at some point during the fight, obscuring her view of the fight. All she saw were vague, moving colors, with the occasional flash of light marking a weapon fired. That mattered little. Her turst in the members of her Pack was absolute.

Finally she came to Katherine and Joe. Upon watching the former so casually order those innocents to their certain death, she felt a little pride. It was not quite true strength- the Hunter had never needed others to fight her battles for her- but it was a step. The video of the 'hotliner' cutting so many down remorselessly was already online. She took the link, pasted it into the chat window. Everyone still possessing one of the phones would receive it, along with a short message.


'Offer still stands.'


Then, she tapped out another message. This one went to the fencer alone.


'Not quite, but an admirable attempt. If you desire, I will provide you with a small gift. If you'd be so kind as to give me a time and place, I'll even deliver it myself.'


When she finished, the Alpha glanced around. After a moment, she noticed Virgil was gone, having slipped off without a sound. If she had to guess, he would be headed to Williams.

The Hunter smiled. Surely, little could go wrong there.

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Shell
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Shell » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:36 pm

Image
The Hollow Man was traveling by sewer.

As far as near-undetectable modes of transportation, it was hard to be beat. Without the sort of olfactory apparatus that would be bothered by the smell, and a carapace that most liquid simply sloughed off of, the downsides hardly outweighed the benefits.

His method of movement was the same slinky-like series of flips forward that he'd employed in his earlier fight with Williams. However, the body that his bran controlled was rather different. The torso had been replaced, larger and more durable. More of his gadgets and weapons were concealed within. The armored parts of his 'legs' were slimmer, and one of the Shell's arms was connected to the rest of his body not by a chain, but some sort of energy-based magnetic link. That arm was multi-segmented, with another portion connected with a length of razor wire, and the hand disconnected as well, with a blade extended from the 'palm.'

Slung around the brilliant ex-prostheticist's 'torso' was a package, the contents not visible from within. It was affixed to his body tightly, hardly moving even as he raced through the city's sewer system towards Williams' position.

When he was nearby, the Shell reached his longer arm upwards, and slid a manhole cover aside. Using the same arm, he hoisted his entire body up slowly, well within Hector's line of sight.

The first-responders had little idea who- or what- they were seeing. Though it'd occurred over an hour ago, people still had little idea what the precise details of the Times Square confrontation were. They didn't recognize the Hollow Man, but his eerie, inhuman nature made them back away just the same. One reached for their belt, to call for reinforcements, and stopped short when they saw the Pack's attack dog turn to 'look' at them, his head rotating 180° degrees around to stare at them. He raised one arm, the blade-finger ticking back and forth like a grandfather clock. The informal sign-language equivalent of 'no you don't.'

His attention returned to Akhilleus. Slowly, the Shell approached, staying well out of range of Williams' fists. His body was hardened against radiation, of course, but with the amount of power the man was outputting, remaining at a safe distance seemed prudent.

Slowly, he raised a finger to his chest, and cut through the strap connecting the package to his chest. Before it hit the ground, he grasped it, careful not to puncture the wrapping- and then tossed it at Hector, much in the same way he'd killed a man before, by throwing them directly at the hero's invulnerable form.

Inside the package, were Hector to open it, was a hazardous-materials suit. Lead-lined, with a helmet that would obscure his features to the world. It would also prevent the worst of the radiation from reaching those around him- unless damaged. Pinned to the exterior was a note.

"JOIN US"


Slowly, the Hollow Man turned, and began to walk away.

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Resolute
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Resolute » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:12 pm


Jason's attack had succeeded, it seemed, in damaging the titan before them, striking from above the key to wounding the armored enemy. The moment he'd squeezed the trigger to fire on Black Ice, he was confident once more in their ability to take him out. His smile vanished, however, when Ice pivoted to bring his gun to bear on the ceiling.

Cover.

Jason was sprinting towards the upstairs door the moment Ice had him in his sights, but he wasn't fast enough. Something in the cold air slowing him down, he figured, or maybe just age. A sharp grunt escaped his lips as he lost control of his movements, dropping like a stone through the air as the entire room collapsed around him.

The floor had crumbled under his footfalls, bringing him crashing down into the basement yet again. Unable to react with fall-breaking roll, he merely crumpled on the ice, his rifle sliding out of his grip.

He rolled over onto his back.

Gotta get -

Jason's eyes went wide as Black Ice's massive foot came hurtling towards his chest, about to stomp him into oblivion. Instinctively, he raised his arms to block the attack, gloved palms vainly pressing up into the undersole of Ice's heavy boots. The unexpected force nearly broke his arms, pushing them down onto his chest as he scrambled to hold the leg up. The pseudo-muscle in his suit's arms flexed and whined, plastic tendons snapping under the strain of holding up Ice's weight.

It's not over yet!

"HEEEEEEEEARGH!"

The pain roared through him like a fire. Pushing upwards with all his might, Jason sought to use his position underneath Ice for leverage, throwing him off. Taking advantage of his foe's weight, he channeled all his strength, his will, into sending the titan crashing to the floor. Even if he failed to send him to the floor, Jason knew that upsetting Ice's balance, even momentarily, could open up an opportunity for Noctua to finish him off.


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Akhilleus
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Akhilleus » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:40 pm

Watching the machine crawl from a sewer grate made Hector's breath catch in his throat. An irrepressible tide of trauma washed away any prior commitments and concerns; Williams instinctively clenched his fists and his body stilled, echoing footfalls silencing themselves as he came to an abrupt halt.

He wasn't standing in the middle of a bombed-out New York street, not anymore— Akhilleus lay within the center of Times Square, again, the stacatto explosions of gunfire echoing in his ears; he felt the heat of the fire upon his skin, felt the lukewarm blood of an innocent splattered upon his body and face, felt the poison course through his veins and lungs. Pain, anger, suffering, and resignation were all felt over the course of a few seconds.

Then, ashfall once more. Back in the street. Back to the wailing of sirens and distant chatter of paramedics tending to victims. A package impacted Hector's chest and the government agent momentarily tensed, fearing the sensation of a tepid, copper-smelling liquid invading his nose, mouth and skin. The feeling never came, though, and Williams gave a small glance down to the object that had been thrown to him.

Whatever that thing wanted, it didn't seem to be violence. Akhilleus felt another swell of rage building up in his gut, but he couldn't act on it. It was the same empty anger he felt towards Teja at Times Square, albeit a different face to direct his hate towards.

He tried to force himself to feel something. Anything. Much like the earlier feeling of blood and warmth, the emotion never came.

"I'm done," Hector whispered with shaky composure, not daring to look up to the retreating machine. He couldn't think right, couldn't feel the same as before. The sensation, or lack of it, was suffocating.

"I'm done." He repeated, finality ever-present in his tone. If Alpha was true to her word, then he'd already stopped Manhattan from becoming a nuclear wasteland. He'd done his part. He'd done more than enough, and the cost of his overextension was an price unable to be paid.

Akhilleus scooped up the package from the dusted pavement and tucked it under his arm. With a final, quavering breath, he walked in a direction opposite the machine and disappeared into the thick mass of smoke that had begun to billow over Manhattan's streets.

He'd go somewhere. Anywhere but here, on this island.

He'd done his part.

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Alpha
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Alpha » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:28 am

Lucia watched dispassionately, as Hector exited the field of play. He'd more than qualified for his invitation, even if he didn't choose to take them up on it. The 'hero' had earned her respect, if grudgingly. She'd arrange to have his Cassandra returned to her home relatively unharmed.

Perhaps Virgil would make the delivery. That would be amusing.

In any event, this occurrence was worth noting to the rest of the contestants. The Hunter sent a short message to the remaining phones.


'Akhilleus is no longer a contestant.'

Vague enough that everyone who read it would fill in the worst they could imagine. Death, or a fall from grace. Not that she couldn't have subjected him to worse, given a little more time...

The Alpha stood, and stretched, walking a few feet away from her console. Nothing required her direct attention for the moment. On her way to the shower, she passed another member of her Pack.

"Wyatt. Give them a few minutes, and then break up the fight between the ghost and the pair. Do your best to separate them, as well. Remove their... crutches." She smiled. "Best of luck."

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illirica
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by illirica » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:03 pm

-=Capacitor=--=Overload=-

It had been long enough. Capacitor had set things into motion, and now it was time to move along with them. For a moment, she closed her eyes - it wasn’t going to be easy. But, given what she’d asked of Williams, she could hardly stand to ask less of herself. She was still hoping he’d manage to do something about the nuclear situation. She had to trust that that one was safe in his hands. She had other things that needed to be attended to.

She stopped poking the shield with projectiles, turning briefly back to the man who’d come to talk, or at least to try to get her to talk. It was all somewhat up in the air. No doubt he had one of Alpha’s phones, which Teja figured was acting as a listening device. Alpha likely had other devices as well - it would be sensible, after all. Always assume the enemy was sensible, and let them surprise you with their mistakes. Better that than the other way around.

”This has gotten out of hand,” she said, to him, but also to Alpha through him. ”There’s an orb of impenetrable darkness. Across the city, there was a nuclear explosion. Alpha might be invested in playing games, but I wasn’t designed to be a gamer. I was designed to be a hero - an agent of the government. For each minute I wait on hostages, people will die because of radiation, because of collateral damage. I’m going to take care of the real problems - and if that means that someone kills me while I’m trying, at least I’m going out like I ought to. You tell her that.”

She thought about ending it there, but it wouldn’t have been right. It wouldn’t have been right, because she knew it very well might be the end. There was a finality to it, and so after a few second’s pause, she added, more softly. ”And… tell Williams I’m sorry. Just that. Let him decide what it ought to be for, this time.”

Capacitor rocked back against the edge of the building for a moment, summoning the magnetic aura she’d started using. Assume, of course, that everything was being recorded - but it wasn’t the first time she’d used her flight trick. It wasn’t well known, but it was out there. No surprises. She launched herself, and pulled the flow to stop herself, landing in a controlled tumble at the edge of a building, just beside the sphere of darkness.

Whatever it was, it was in the city, it devoured everything, and it was the kind of threat she was supposed to be dealing with. Not men with guns or masks, or kids. She raised her hand, not touching the sphere, but coming close, and channeled electric current into the wire wrapped around her hand. Lightning sparked, around her wrist and fingers.

If she was being watched, after all, it might as well be a good show. She glanced up, taking stock of the clouds above. Gray, but it wasn’t raining. It was enough. It would be enough. No, the real question wasn’t whether it was enough, the real question was whether it would be too much.

Capacitor half-smiled, but only for herself. She knew the answer to that one, as well. She started separating charges, running current through the wire wrapped around her hand and over the sphere - not into it, but around it. When she’d shot it with a charged projectile, it had devoured the charge. She wasn’t going to let it have more of her energy than that, though.

But as she knew, maybe better than anyone else, all things had limits - and so while she let her charges flicker over the surface of the giant sphere in a less-than-cautious display of power, she quietly pushed their opposing charges upwards - away, into the clouds above. Lightning energy crackled over the visible portion of the sphere, and above, the thunder rumbled through the clouds. Dry thunder, with the occasional flash of the beginnings of a lightning storm.

Capacitor, of course, could hardly cause a lightning storm. Officially. But she wasn’t officially causing one - the clouds had already been there, after all. She was only… calling it. She collected her charges over the sphere, but concentrated them mostly beneath it, and let the storm build above. It was only a matter of time, after all - opposite charges attracted. She held them at bay, though - she didn’t want them to jump too early.

Not until she’d made sure there were enough. Sometimes, “enough” was something that could be measured. Documented, data collected, carefully engineered to the right amount. In this case, though, she didn’t have the benefit of engineering or technology - she had only herself, and “enough”... well, “enough,” she had decided, was going to mean “all.” She felt it draining away, everything she’d pulled into herself, and still she held the forces apart.

The clouds above darkened, or maybe it was just her vision. She looked up, at the clouds, watching them with the silent, grim confidence of someone who knew what was about to happen. She did know, after all. It was… inevitable. But perhaps necessary. Something had to be done… and this was what she had been designed for.

She just had to hope it was enough. Her capacity bottomed out, and the separation failed. The sky flashed, and the charges sought each other - above and below, through the shortest path - the shield. It had to have a limit to how much it could take. Everything else did.

Teja did.

The backlash caught her and she fell, as unconscious, from the building to the ground, the lightning releasing again at the point of impact, cracking through the foundations of the building, destroying a section of the wall leading into the underground parking garage, leaving a blackened hole of trembling concrete and the blue-white electronic blindness surging to destroy or disrupt any electronic devices in the area, the secondary objective of knocking out Alpha’s control of the game, just like Capacitor had destroyed her own phone in the first moments of the game.

The shock aura was certainly enough to encompass the nearby buildings, maybe the entire block. Far more than in London, where she’d barely been overcharged when the discharge had hit - this time, she’d briefly held an entire storm. Maybe it would be enough to stop the game. Maybe not.

It would certainly be enough to vaporize a body.

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illirica
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by illirica » Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:15 pm

DISPERSION

For everything that happened again, it had to happen first. For every recurrence, there first had to be an occurrence.

This one began unseen, below a sphere of darkness, in a moment where all the lights had gone out, all the cameras failed, all the microphones been silenced. It was underground, where a crate had been deposited just a bit before while men and women played games with time and space and matter and energy.

The box was sealed magnetically, with no key - yet it opened to a particular touch, and its contents dislodged themselves, fitted pieces sliding into place around each other, around the hand that had crafted them, sealing out the world around them. Above, perhaps, the heroes battled for the right to be something else - but nothing rose from here.

Instead, she went down, into the carefully selected labyrinth, doors opening into underground passageways, access below the city. Stores, building entries to the pedestrian walkways, even access to the subways, where trains ran along electric tracks. Suited to withstand the danger, she stepped onto the tracks, one foot on each rail, and the electrical current shot through her, propelling her forward.

She tagged the magnetic fields along the tracks, adjusting them to increase her speed, the suits inertial compensators protecting its wearer. The tracks headed north, and she emerged not too far from the danger zone. A few quick magnetic fields later and she floated beside what had once been a building, but now had been reduced to a disaster.

She let herself down to the ground, the suit automatically masking the sound of its footfalls, keeping a magnetic field between herself and the ground so that she only appeared to walk normally.
Image


"Nuclear detonation detected." The computerized feminine voice hearkened back to about half the science fiction themes of the late nineties, digitized and soft, precise and punctuated, the artificial administrative assistant. "Radiation levels: low. Civilian casualties detected. Casualty level: mid, localized. Localized structural damage detected. Area: Unsafe. Caution recommended."

The suited figure looked around via scans and cameras, taking in information, scanning the area, alert for potential hostiles. Momentarily, her attention arrested on the people remaining in the area, paramedics, emergency professionals. Not heroes. There didn’t seem to be any heroes here.

"Who did this?" The voice was also digitized, but it lacked the lilting qualities of the digitized advisor - it was still vaguely feminine, but in the competent, almost brusque tone of someone uninterested in being some technogeek’s manic pixie dream girl.

She didn’t ask what had happened. That much, of course, was obvious. The part she needed to know was who she was going to hold responsible for this devastation… and what she was going to do to them, once she found out.


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Django
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Re: The Hunt.

Post by Django » Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:28 am

ANOTHER HUNT BEGINS
"Best of luck."

"Won't need it— hopefully— but I 'preciate the gesture. Consider it done."

There wasn't much fanfare in Django's departure. The basics were taken— his outfit and cloak, the Royal Flush, his signature throwing knives— along with a few other toys for good measure. A recent modification, courtesy of the robot himself, was the addition of two grappling reels within the arms of the chassis. The function was reminiscent of the tried and true LSOC suit he once wore while working under MAVU; terrain spikes at the tips of the lines, but these points were far sharper than anything on his old rig.

They had the— hell, he was tryin' to remember the name.

"Mono-molecular." Django muttered as an answer to his own inquiry, deciding to travel for much of the journey on foot. His top speed, after all, was nothing to scoff at with how lightweight his body was; most situations, he could match a damn vehicle if he wanted to, if the terrain was even enough.

"Right, let's hope you're true to your word, then." He muttered to the concealed built-in equipment before departing towards Manhattan.
Django had been to the Big Apple upon a few occassions, each visit spread across a different lifetime and face. When he'd boarded his connecting flight upon a MAVU private jet to meet with Eisenalder in Germany, he'd inhabited a metal body. During his brief stint as a freelance mercenary with a personal hitlist, he'd been human, though he donned the armor and gear of his former employers.

Queens, was it? Nice club. First time he'd been shot, too, since the transfer of consciousness. Pain was a completely indescribable concept to him at that point, and to experience that much of it in such a short time frame— well, he gained a newfound respect for the people who took bullets but refused to lay down and die. It took balls.

With the memories being an actual life ago— at least, relative to Django— the memories were crude. Blurred, out of focus, like a television set that never really cleared the static, no matter how hard you slapped the side of the boxy fuckin' thing or contorted the antenna. Figuratively, Wyatt had exhausted both of those options, and still, nothing worked.

The pain, though? That stayed. How could it not, with how damn-near unforgettable it was. There was something about agony that was ever-present. A reminder of his past. A scar, really, looking at how it functioned.

He was just grateful that when he was on that highway, with that briefcase, he didn't know what pain was, couldn't feel it. Really, he couldn't even imagine what it would have been like.

Looking at the crater of the bombed-out, disintegrated city block, Wyatt couldn't help but think back to that time. That power plant. That fuckin' highway, with the woman, and the cars, and the pileup, and the briefcase, and how misguided all of the destruction was.

Is any of this better?

Django gave a small shake of his head. Sent on an assignment to break up a fight and here he was, causing an internal conflict without even giving much thought to it. He'd have some questions to raise with Alpha when he got back from this excursion, no doubt, but it all would have to be in the phrasing, now, wouldn't it?

No departure. Not yet— a glint of light caught the robot's optical sensors and he turned his head in response, shifting in his perch atop a skeleton of a bombed-out apartment complex. There was a person— a thing— an entity, rather, that hovered above the epicenter of the now-concluded detonation.

The presence of a feminine-sounding robotic entity wasn't the part that concerned him; rather, it was the fact that he'd never seen her— it— on any of the screens and cameras of Alpha's surveillance room until now. Whoever this was, they were an unforeseen variable. This presented multiple complications.

Django silently thanked himself for getting sidetracked and wordlessly patched into the comms device implanted upon his person.

"Unknown entity at the explosion site. Looks robotic. Going to neutralize it before any problems arise, seeing as it's interested in what's going on here." Wyatt muttered in a transmission to the Pack's leader before disengaging communications and unholstering his hand cannon. He got a bit closer first, quietly stepping upon the ashen beams of the fallen-out building he'd stood upon before straightening his posture, his internal programming already calculating the hand movements necessary to land consecutive shots upon the target.

"Been having bad luck with robots, lately." Django mused, letting out a small chuckle before the smile drained from his face. The gunslinger's eyes flashed crimson for a moment before he dropped his arms to about hip height and cocking the hammer back with a practiced motion. Settling the barrel over his opponent's chromed dome, Django fanned his revolver for three shots, pressing the trigger and moving his free hand over the hammer to slam it back into its firing position before jumping off of the beam and landing into a graceful roll.

Deep down, he didn't want to end it quick— after all, this was a hunt, wasn't it? It'd be fine to have a little bit of sport.

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