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PostSubject: Alternate Universe   Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:52 pm

Torvald sat in his small house – more of a shack than anything – his mood was low. He had been studying magic for some time here with Hanson and Epimor, but Epimor was showing ... problems. Personality issues on something other than a psychological level.

He could watch how they developed, or do something about it.

His hands gripped the seat’s arms. As unique a situation as this was, he cannot allow his colleague and friend to come to damage.
__________

In the years that followed, Epimor showed no major problems. He, along with Torvald, Hanson, and Synton, all relocated to the other side of the Fissure to be closer to the group of Templars there. Hanson sat in Torvald’s lab, the walls lined with shelves holding runic inscriptions.

“Really, Torvald, I can almost see how the ether’s folded to make these runes. They’re just a little opaque. I find them fascinating. Each symbol has its own history and importance.”

“Don’t lose sight of your priorities. The study of the runes is just a means to gain familiarity with the ether. Our ultimate goal is to fix this Earth.”

“Of course, Torvald. Still-”

Heeeeey.

Torvald looked around the dimly lit room. “Synton? You’re here?”

I dunno.” Her voice floated from somewhere in the storage area.

Hanson shifted uneasily. “I should probably go.” He stood up and walked towards the door.

Torvald, walking the opposite direction, called out, “Have you got the equipment I asked for?”

You mean the Hammer?” He rounded the corner and saw Synton standing behind Vaniah, her hands clasped behind her back and a troublesome smile on her face.

Torvald sighed. “No, I needed a hammer, not the Hammer. I’m sorry, Vaniah; you’re free to go.”

Vaniah, already clearly impatient, muttered some choice words as he left.

“Synton, I just asked for one thing. You know what I meant.”

“Yeeaaah, buuut.... there was a catch. There’s some fightin’ on the other side of the crack.”

“Fighting how? There’s always fighting.”

“Yeeeaah, buuut... this was different. Armies. Two big ones, one I don’t know and one of those people who don’t like us. If you like the new ones better you could fight with them, m’kay?”
__________

With Vaniah’s help, the group of wizards crossed the rune bridge to cross the fissure. With Epimor’s bluff and charisma scores, the group soon found themselves speaking to the military commander, heavily augmented with mechanical weapons and armor. He was the leader of the group fighting the Enforcers, who had repressed Torvald’s reach in the past.

Iliad said, “If you really want to help, talk to Dagon. He’s our officer in control of irregulars at the moment and he’s a good representative. If you don’t mind, come see my later; I have to organize this battle.”

In walked Dagon, an altogether unpleasant individual, and his followers. Despite his slimy, shady character, Torvald gave it his best shot.

“We’re a group of wizards with a specific goal: we want to protect the Earth from aliens in the future.”

Dagon smiles. “That is why we’re here, Wizard. We’re going to pull it off.”

Almost overeager, Torvald responds, “Really? Do you have a plan now?”

A figure standing behind Dagon says, “I have an idea to fix the Earth. There’s a source of magical power near here. We can use it with our technology to restore the Earth to its whole.”

There was a sharp squeal and the name “Dagon” was shouted through a communicator. Dagon started, stammering, “I’m right here” as he turned to Iliad and walked away.

Torvald said, “If there’s a magical power nearby, I can’t imagine that it’s anything other than our Librarian. Epimor, you know how to get there, right?”

“Do you think the Templars would trust us enough to let us take it?”

“We’re not going to destroy it, and nobody stays down there, anyways. Just don’t get caught.

“By the way,” Torvald said, turning to the person who spoke up, “Who are you?”

“My name is Athen. Right now, all that matters is that we want the same thing.”

Dagon walks back towards the group. “An alien craft landed not far from here. We’re going to take a transport to finish it off. What are you doing, Wizard?”

“Epimor is going to the Monastery to get the Librarian for Athen’s plan. Hanson and Synton can stay here to fight the Enforcers.”

Vaniah spoke up, his voice echoing throughout his helmet. “I would like to witness firsthand this new enemy.”

“Of course,” Torvald said, smiling, “I’m going to kill it, too.”

Iliad shouted down, “Dagon, I’m meeting with their leader for a discussion. We’ll likely go to war. If anybody of yours is staying here, give them an IFF indicator and get them on the front lines.”


Last edited by debtmaster on Sun May 01, 2011 8:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:52 pm

Synton and Hanson were uncomfortably close in the forward camp, and Iliad and the enemy commander were talking.

“Heeeeey,” Synton said, “Don’t they look like a pair? Like, they’re both mechanical and stuff.”

Hanson grunted in response. He didn’t want to provoke Synton any more than the environment already did.

“Hey, they’re leaving now. Whatcha think happened?”

Synton ran over to an officer. “Heeey! What’s goin’ on?”

He responded, “Negotiations have failed. The battle starts after one hour.”

Her green eyes stared into his visor a moment too long to be comfortable before she ran back to Hanson.
__________

Inside the transport, Vaniah and Torvald were traveling to the spacecraft with Athen, Dagon, and Stilts. The vehicle seemed to go over a large bump before violently flipping over repeatedly. Somebody shouted in the chaos, “WE’RE HERE! THE ALIEN’S STILL ALIVE!” before the scramble to escape.

Torvald’s eyes burned as he clambered out of the wreckage.
__________

As military preparation increased, Synton asked Hanson, “D’you think an hour’s passed yet?”

“Heeeey, you,” she said to the officer. “Could you do me a really big favor? I need the whole army to turn around for a few minutes. Or they’ll go blind. That’d probably be bad.”

Synton ran off into the distance. Hanson, now seriously frightened, said, “My God, do it. I don’t care what you have to pull.”
__________

Epimor lay on the ground in defeat. The gaping chasm to the Earth’s core lay in front of him, and there was nobody to open the runic pathway.
__________

Torvald climbed out of the wreckage of the transport to see a number of black monoliths jutting out of the barren Earth. The aliens.

They begin projecting small pieces of themselves towards the group, improvised guns. Behind the transport, everybody cowers as they are unable to defend.

Hefting his hammer, Vaniah booms, “Wizard, protect me.” Trodding out of the cover, Torvald does his best to protect Vaniah from the fire, though several shots ping off of his armor. He approaches the first tower, unleashing a mighty swing that cracks the monolith.

The ground stirred and a huge mass of black material rose into the air, supported by black legs. It rose into an insectoid shape supported by 4 segmented legs.

The shape seemed to suggest an individual could stand on top of it.

It turned towards them, firing chunks of alien material at high speeds.

“We can’t do anything from here – we have to get onto it!”
__________

Synton crouched in the leafless tree, focusing large amounts of energy in the distance, in the midst of the Enforcers’ main army.

She was just preparing to release the massive blast when she lost her balance, shifting her aim.

In an instant, the host city to the Knifeman headquarters vanished in a titanic explosion, the dust rising off of the horizon. Synton looked down to Hanson with a sheepish grin on her face.

“Whoopsie. Missed.”
__________

Epimor, bored, ran his palms together, a bright light between them. He was practicing with his own sort of runes.
__________

“Iliad! You have to throw us!”

Iliad grabbed Vaniah by the hand (the sound of metal scraping) and threw both him and Torvald up towards the alien craft.

“Vaniah, we’re not going to make it!”

Vaniah kicked off of Torvald, launching himself further into the air and Torvald towards the ground. Vaniah scrambles for a grip on the alien before he slips off.

The alien began to turn towards Iliad, hiding Vaniah from view. “I’ve got no choice, Torvald. I’m going to use a plasma cannon.”

“But Vaniah’s – ”

“Vaniah is not well-equipped enough to ensure success.” He stomped his feet into the ground, releasing bracers to hold him in place. “I’ll be relying on you to protect this position.”

On the other side of the alien, Vaniah found a shimmering barrier, behind which lay a small, swirling mass. Deciding to solve this puzzle, he swung his hammer towards it, the barrier vanishing in a bright flash. “I’ve got you now.”

The alien fired a mass at Iliad while he charged his laser; Torvald stopped the mass just in time. The second shot was deflected into the ground, and the third was incinerated instantaneously by Iliad’s beam.

The high-energy beam continued through the alien, burning a clean whole throughout it in nanoseconds, destroying its core and Vaniah. Now inert, the mass of the alien collapsed.
__________

Epimor, his left sleeve torn off, stands in the chamber with the Librarian. He had finished his inscription, and was left with enough time to force open the runic pathway. His left hand was wrapped in his shirt sleeve. His tattoo was... unstable.

He walked among the writing-covered walls. There was, according to Torvald, a great deal of information stored here. However, its meaning was lost even to the Templars.

“Ah, Librarian!” There was a floating construct moving about, glowing faintly. “I need you to come with me!”

The ball of metal floated towards him, hovering just above his height. “Hmmm? And what might you need me for?”

“We have a plan to heal the planet. We just need-” thud. It wasn’t stone. A dull metal thud? What could possibly –

Thud. “Ah. You’re an obstacle.” A dark, foreboding voice. Of somebody in pain and wanting to share it.

Epimor turned to see it: a towering behemoth of flesh and metal, protected by a magical barrier. What little skin was visible was scarred and inflamed. “I suppose I’ve got to kill you, then.” He lumbered forward, gaining a surprising amount of momentum in a short amount of time. Epimor barely jumped out of the way before the Grey Culmination’s reinforced fists crushed the rock beneath him.

Epimor tried to scramble up and narrowly avoided the Culmination’s charge again. His mocking voice grated, “You’re not even going to try to fight me?”
__________

Torvald stepped up to Iliad. “You killed Vaniah! And you knew he was there! It wouldn’t have killed us to-”

“No,” Iliad interrupted, “You don’t know that.” He pointed an armored hand at Torvald. “My duty is to destroy these monsters. The loss of a single soldier pales in comparison to what that thing could have done. Check yourself.” He walked back to the transport and climbed in the passenger seat.

Torvald found,on the ground, a curious substance. This wasn’t the norm for the aliens to have. Are they stronger? Or does

YOU ARE, ALL OF YOU, FILTH.
__________

Epimor wasn’t going to escape. He turned onto his back, the Grey Culmination towering above him, fist raised, when a voice rang out to him.

YOU ARE, ALL OF YOU, FILTH.

The behemoth froze almost instantly, his eyes appearing unfocused. He pulled his fist back and straightened up. “There has been a change in priority. The danger is such that I would not refuse your aid were it offered.” He loped out of the chamber on four legs, leaving Epimor lying on the ground.

Running out, he shouted, “Librarian! Follow me!”
__________

Hanson stood beneath Synton. “Can’t you at least do the same thing to the army?”

“I’m kinda weak. I’ll do it in a few minutes, but by then... they’ll all be fighting together.”

She looked at him with a mocking grin, teeth exposed. “Unless you want me to kill both armies.”

An explosion, louder than the others, rang out over the battlefield.

YOU ARE, ALL OF YOU, FILTH.

“Synton, what are you doing?!”

She leapt out of the tree, entranced. “No... that’s...”

A pillar of flame rose out of a crater in the battlefield, its roar like a tortured scream.

THOUGH I MUST REGRETTABLY TREAD ON THIS ACCURSED PLANET

I WILL ENSURE YOUR DESTRUCTION WHICH YOU ESCAPED IN THE PAST

I HAVE ENCOUNTERED CIVILIZATIONS BEFORE FAR GRANDER THAN YOURS

ALL HAVE FALLEN UNDER MY MIGHT

YOU WILL SHARE THEIR FATE


With a final massive explosion that shook the ground, a floating shard of dark crystal materialized onto the battlefield. The Dark Culmination has set foot on Earth.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:59 pm

In the repaired transport, Iliad turned to the back, which held Athen, Torvald, and the others. “Get ready for another fight. There’s another alien back at HQ.”
__________

Epimor scrambled out of the planet’s depths in time to see the Grey Culmination leap across the chasm that lead down to the Earth’s core. At the same time, he saw the Templars preparing to cross the gap through their runic bridge.

“Hail, Templars! Wait... Haddad, you’re going? What’s happening?”

The wizened Templar leader spoke with the weight of centuries of power. “The aliens have come again. It is our duty to mankind to fight to our best ability.”
__________

Deep in a Knifeman compound, a blade, covered with a ritual cloth, was passed from hand to hand before reaching a singular member. He removed the cloth to reveal a jet black sheath for a dagger. Tucking the weapon into his cloak, the Knifeman shifted and vanished.
__________

The Dark Culmination stood in the middle of the battlefield, still surrounded by flames, before moving towards the Legion encampment. It redirected or block all of the fire coming towards it, and even seemed immune to the artillery from the Enforcer army.

Those in front of him scattered like flies, and ho continued until, from the right, another force came barreling towards him. The Grey Culmination.

It was unnaturally strong, but no match for the alien. Its tackle ended prematurely as it was caught by the Dark Culmination. The two wrestled briefly before the Grey Culmination submitted, caught in a tight grip, going limp as it shut down.
__________

Iliad swept into the control room. “What’s the status?”

“The alien’s resisting everything we throw at it. The natives are asking for a truce.”

“Give it to them. I’m heading to the front lines. I need a battery pack, now. The others are already on their way.”
__________

The Templars charging the monstrous alien were blasted away in group by its arcane power.

AN ARMY FOLLOWS ME

YOU ARE UNABLE TO KILL THEIR SCOUT

USELESS SOLDIERS


It loosed another blast upon the only Templar who hasn’t retreated or been knocked away, but it was blocked by a figure that appeared in front of him. Haddad stood fast, his ancient armor protecting him. “You will no longer be permitted to impose your evil upon this world!”

A shadow flitted on the Culmination’s side, and it turned and caught his assailant. A Knifeman, caught by the arm and holding an ornate dagger. The blade glinted in the sunlight as the Culmination bent the arm away, batting the Knifeman onto the ground and taking the blade.

ARE THERE NONE TO CHALLENGE ME?

A vehicle was approaching, and the Culmination waved his hand at it before turning back to Haddad.

The vehicle Athen and Stilts were in lurched as an explosion rocked the chassis, flipping end onto end before coming to a rest feet from the Culmination. It was holding a dagger, which it thrust at Haddad. There was a brief shower of sparks and an explosion as Haddad’s shield broke, the Templar himself coming to a rest some yards away.

Stilts threw his chain at the Culmination, distracting it from Haddad and electrocuting it. The effect was minimal: the alien grabbed the chain and pulled Stilts towards him. Stilts relinquished the chain and Athen charged towards it, blade outstretched.

YOU ARE HERE?

Torvald descended from the sky, power whipping around him. He had found a high-energy object in the first alien. “I will not fail to you again, alien!”

The Culmination blocked the first blast. The second destroyed the shield completely, in time for Athen to sink his blade into it.

YOU DEFILERS

The Dark Culmination went to throw Athen off before its arm was bound to its body. “Your massacre ends now!”

The Dark Culmination was rendered immobile, but it projected a shield stronger than ever.

Athen strapped himself in to the vehicle. “I have an idea.” He drove it to the Culmination and proceeded to push him off of the battlefield, towards the chasm.

Torvald pushed the Culmination as well, Stilts in the passenger seat as the trio followed the beast towards the fissure between chunks of the Earth.

They picked up speed, stopping just in front of the primordial flame. Stilts climbed out of the car to watch, and the beast’s shields flickered in the flames.

FOOLS

The Culmination caught Torvald off-gaurd, grabbing the car and pulling it down with him. As it fell into the Earth, Athen jumped out and caught hold of some plants, just hanging on to theh cliff edge.

“Athen!” Stilts dove to catch him, hands barely reaching.

Stilts grabbed Athen’s hand –

– it wasn’t enough – he was slipping, and Athen fell towards the Earth’s core as well.

Exhausted, Torvald gave in to his weariness and collapsed.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:27 am

Immediately after the battle, a technician helped Epimor fix the Librarian to a machine that cancelled the reaction ongoing in the Earth’s core. After nearly a century, the damage done by the aliens was finally coutneracted.

Torvald and the others were given accomodations by the Legion for their help and were informally drafted into Dagon’s group of irregular group. Their immediate aims coincided – providing a better defense for Earth – so it seemed to them a good idea to pool their forces.

Torvald had been in their quarters since the battle, and Hanson was trying to cheer him up.

“We managed to destroy two aliens yesterday – we even managed to fix the Earth. We’re more than capable. This won’t be difficult.”

“No... something’s not right. That there were only two to begin with is wrong, and fixing the Earth just puts us back at square one. There was a fleet of them last time, and there was something special about the second one. It was unnaturally powerful, and it tried to communicate with us, or at least frighten us. Why?”

Although he didn’t mention it, he also felt a loss about Athen, too. It had only been for a few hours, but there was something special about him. Something important.

“In any case, Hanson, we can’t do anything now other than follow the Legion. With the aliens present now, another attack is likely imminent... and they may have a lot to offer. For now, you should go down and get something to eat.”

Hanson shifted uneasily. “I think I’ll wait until Synton’s done.”
__________

Epimor sat next to Synton in the Legion cafeteria, her food disappearing in a gruesome manner. The seats around them were empty, their inhabitants too disgusted or embarrased to stay. Synton was voracious, her food disappearing without the use of utensils or common sense. She even finished her soup quickly (without touching the bowl) before calmly standing up and leaving. Epimor sighed as he started his meal in peace.
__________

Iliad was seated in his central command. His armored exoskeleton hummed and actuators whirred constantly as he moved his hands around.

The lollipop shifted in his mouth.

“Dagon. We’re bringing down the ship. There’s a town not far from here that had experimental technology prior to the aliens’ attack. That’ll serve as our next base. However,” he said, mechanical whining as he tented his fingers, “the town is not responding to our transmissions. It’s possible it’s become infested. I’d like you to investigate.”

Dagon nodded.
__________

“Hey, Torvald. We’re all going to our next objective. Are you going to stay with us?”

Torvald’s eyes pierced Dagon’s. “Of course. We stand together.” Dagon nodded and left.

After hours of travel to the abandoned town, when they were close enough to see its skyline in the distance, Epimor said, “There’s something wrong here. The town is dead.”

Dagon said, nonchalantly, “It’s our objective to secure it. We’re not here for its population; we’re here for its technology. It’s also going to be our new base of operations. So –”

“Ah, humans. I have finally found you.” The voice was deep and battlestained; it exuded pain and unpleasantness.

Torvald turned around. Behind him was a behemoth of straight metal and twisted flesh, covered in sores and bulging with muscle. He was standing upright, attentive. “How are you?”

Epimor fainted from fear of the Grey Culmination.

“Though I once anticipated our meeting with bloodlust, it now seems we are to be allies. My Master has allied Herself with yours.” The words, though forced from his mouth as if in great pain, bespoke an inner civility.

Dagon, the leader, said, “I don’t know, you’re kind of –”

“Aren’t you the one who fought Epimor earlier?” Hanson interrupted, gesturing to the unconscious wizard besides him.

“Hmmmmm? You were fightan’ Epi?” Synton danced over, standing on her toes and looking up into the Culmination’s bloodshot pupils. Her own green eyes seemed monstrous to him. “Just wanna let you know,” she said, smiling, “If you wanna touch Epimor...”

The Culmination took a step back.

“I’m gonna touch you back. M’kay?” She stepped back and danced away.

“So,” Torvald asked, “What can we call you?”

“Call me... Nami.”

“Well, Nami, I’m sure you’ll be a fine ally.”

“Ignoring your impromptu judgments,” Nami intoned, raising his hand to point at the city, “What are your plans for the approaching enemy?”

Torvald turned in time to see a number of people – no, humanoids – running towards them. They stumbled foward, consumed by innumerable small wounds. Their skin seemed to be sloughing off.

Stilts was already engaging them, throwing chains around some of them and weaving among the others, but there was a horde of them. Stilts made a net of bodies and the others surged around it, running to the group.

Flames erupted from Torvald’s fingers, consuming another patch of the enemy while Dagon and Hanson met them in close combat.

But they were stupid and fell easily.

Nami put his hand down. “Faster than I would expect.”

Synton run closer to the city, sitting on her toes like a dog pointing. “I can smell!”

Almost like an expletive, Dagon said, “What?”

Synton looked towards him angrily. “No, you’re supposed to ask me what I smell.” She turned back to the city. “I can smell!”

“What do you smell?” Torvald humored her.

“It’s a fun smell!”

Torvald groaned. “You’re not making any sense.”

Synton, again, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” Like before, aimed at the city, “I can smell!”

“What do you smell?”

“He’s waiting for us!”

“You’re really not making any sense.”

“I’m going now!” And Synton ran off towards the city. Dagon looked at Synton receding in the distance before looking at Torvald, who shrugged, “She just does what she wants.”

Stilts was kneeling above one of the zombies they were fighting earlier. “These are sick people. They’re almost completely destroyed.”

“It appears to me,” Nami stated, “that there are few options other than to advance into the city.”

Epimor sat up groggily. “Ugh. Where’s Synton?”

“She ran off. Don’t be afraid of Nami this time. He’s fine for now.”

Epimor stood. “Where did all these bodies come from?”

“Apparently the city’s not completely dead. Let’s keep going.”
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:00 am

Spoiler:
 


Synton ran through the dark city, eliciting howls from those she passed. A sizeable number of the zombies were chasing her, but...

“Where are you?”

They couldn’t catch her, but... there! Not an average zombie, it was built heavily and coated with metal.

He was inside.

Smiling, she ran faster to catch up. The beast raised an armored hand, bringing down with a rush of wind. Synton jumped, passing through and into the zombie, disappearing, the horde behind her overwhelming it with their mass as they ran after her.
__________

Ha’el, after a torturous imprisonment, found himself freed. For decades he had been imprisoned in one of the highest-security prisons – or research centers – he had ever laid eyes on. In. No matter.

The entire complex was swept by disease to which he was immune, and he spent the resulting years trying to communicate with zombified prisonmates or trying to escape, depending on his sanity. A few months later were spent acquiring his possessions: his sword, pistol, and suit. It was fortunate he did not escape during a fit of madness that he may not alienate whoever greets him on the surface.

He quickly cut down the lumbering zombies between him and the surface.
__________

Torvald was leading the others through a construction zone. More of the infected attacked, but they were no match at all. “So, Dagon: how do you intend to ‘secure’ the city? Do you want us to kill every one of these ourselves?”

“No... I’m going to call the ship down now. It has enough defenses and troops onboard, and we can send raids into the city for technological information.” Dagon sat down and pulled out a messenger of some sort.

“Epimor, why don’t you – wait. I hear voices.” Sure enough, there was shouting nearby. Torvald didn’t find it until he looked up. He saw, in one of the windows, a few figures with flashlights and what he thought was a gun. There are survivors?

“Hey. Let’s go to that building.”
__________

Louis checked the entrances to the room, all clear. The hotel suite was completely ransacked, littered with rubble and trash, the walls covered in deep gouges.

On a workbench set up in the room there were a number of high-power weapons. “WEAPONS HERE!” He dropped his submachine gun in favor of the more powerful and accurate carbine. The others crowded around him.

Zoey shouted, “THROUGH THIS WINDOW!”, which led to the roof of an adjacent building with a crane on it. “MOLOTOVS!” Zoey grabbed one and tossed it, the wall of flame buying them some time from the oncoming hordes. The zombies shambled through the inferno, falling shortly afterwards.

Torvald stepped through the window after Louis and the others, raising a hand to quell some instinctive fire. “Hey, we’re allies.” They lowered their weapons, shouting, “SURVIVORS!”

The Four led them to the gun rack, where Torvald considered but denied himself some firearms. Just when he was thinking how he was going to get to the source of this infestation, there was a massive explosion, and the buiding shook. A pillar of flame shot out of the rood of a neighboring building; the crane melted and collapsed under its heat. Everybody sought shelter inside the building from which they had emerged.

YOU ARE, ALL OF YOU, FILTH.

YOUR SOULS ARE INSUFFICIENT TO HALT THE COMING TEMPEST,

YET YOU REFUSE TO ACCEPT YOUR DOOM.

FOR THIS HUBRIS

YOU WILL SUFFER.


The Dark Culmination materalized. Before anybody else had time to react, Epimor stepped up to the window. “Begone, beast! I have etched into my palm an eldritch abomination, a creature who defies and nullifies logic and order.” He began pulling his left glove off, palm facing the Culmination. “Now, beast ...”

A door on the roof of the building next to the Culmination opened and Ha’el stepped out. “Is somebody – ”

Epimor shouted, “Meet your end!” He lifted the glove, exposing his tattoo of Asazoth. Immediately, as though by mere exposure to the tattoo, the air shifted. The skin of the concrete struck by its unholy gaze was softened and blackened. Electricity arced through the air and the components of the constituent matter broke down, free submatter particles forming a nuclear soup. Gravity as well as the nuclear and electromagnetic forces disappeared. All that remained was an amorphous mass of matter.

Epimor collapsed and the beam died.

The view outside the window was surreal. The city seemed to be coated in a paste constituted of basic elements, and stray charged appeared as the stray enthalpy was neutralized. Soon the atmosphere was transparent again. Skyscrapers in the distance were marred by the onslaught. Only two things remained unbroken under Asazoth’s gaze.

One was Ha’el, who shakily turned around and reentered the building.

The other, a a spot of solid black in a sea of grey, was the Dark Culmination.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:43 pm

The Dark Culmination wordlessly floated towards Torvald, and the Grey Culmination charged towards it; everybody else followed, Hanson showing enough foresight to restore Epimor’s glove to his hand.

To Nami lunging towards it the Dark Culmination raised a hand and stalled his advance. A flick of the wrist sent him into an office building across the street amidst a haze of rubble. Torvald began charging a spell, but the monstrosity loomed over him and, as though the act was disdainful, struck him across the rooftop. He pulled the glowing substance from Torvald’s body and seemed to smile.

Stilts, Hanson, and Dagon had paused after Nami and Torvald were dispatched so easily, and the Culmination raised a hand towards them. I HAVE REGAINED IT.

A ball of energy formed in front of its arm, a mere disturbance, before it echoed out, striking everybody who remained standing, knocking them to their feet and incapacitating them. Across Dagon’s communicator, the phrase “Reentry begun” flashed briefly in red letters.

Then a portal to Hell opened in front of the Culmination. Athen stepped out, dressed in angelic wings and emitting a golden aura. “You again, I see. I didn’t recognize you before. But I’ll stop you again.”

YOU! the Dark Culmination shouted, raising an arm and swinging it viciously towards Athen. It didn’t connect, though; a metal hammer redirected the blow and splintered the Culmination’s dark substance, slivers flying through the air. There was a brief pause and what seemed to be a laugh projected through the air.

The Hammer gripped his mace tighter and relished a new opponent. He lashed out against the Culmination, each blow shattering its defense and causing it to stagger.

’Tis a gift to have power,
‘Tis a gift to be skilled!


In retaliation, the Culmination loosed a beam of light at the Hammer, causing his mace to disintegrate. Drawing a pair of swords from his back, he continued the assault against the alien.

Moreso when the enemy resists being killed
I enjoy above all else this test of will!


Despite holding his own against the Hammer for this long, the Culmination fled, his objective completed. He leapt across the gaps between buildings into the cityscape. The Hammer disagreed, though, forming each sword into a heavy spear.

I! He threw one.
Am! The other.
Violence at will! They connected with two skyscrapers in the distance, exploding and completely collapsing their already weakened supports and causing them to tilt and fall.
I exist to cause you fear, and... The skyscrapers fell just before the Culmination, forcing him to jump over the blazing wreckage, into a third spear thrown by the Hammer.
I will forever persevere! Until the day I can end your fear.

The Culmination feebly turned back to face the Hammer amidst the blazing wreckage. There was more shouting, but the Culmination couldn’t make it out over the roar of – roar of what?

Then the flagship of the Legion crashes onto the Culmination, dissolving the building underneath him and coming within inches of the Hammer. The fight over, the Hammer grunts and turns around, walking back to Athen. Angel, he resounded, I believe you have won me to your cause.

Athen nodded. “I’ll see to reviving our allies, then,” and turned towards the unconscious travelers: Torvald, Epimor, Hanson, Dagon, Stilts, Louis, Bill, Francis, and Zoey.

There was the sound of rubble from across the street and Nami looked out of the hole in the building. “Ah, it’s you. The fight is over?”

The Hammer bent down, picked up a shard of black metal from the rooftop. He began pouring his will into it and watched it surface begin to gradually shift.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:07 am

Spoiler:
 


Thanks to Ethan’s power and Zoey’s health packs, everybody was quickly back on their feet.Torvald, Hanson, Epimor, and Stilts sat in a rough curve while Dagon paced uneasily behind them. Zoey, Francis, Bill and Louis watched the perimeter for any zombies.

“This is a conflict on a galactic scale. Torvald, I believe you’ve had contact with this race in the past. We call them the Extemos because they originate from outside of our galaxy. They seek, for their own reasons, the destruction of all soulful life in the universe.”

Hanson interrupted, “Soulful life?”

“Your planet is understandably behind on metaphysical advancemants. The difference between soulful and soulless life would appear arbitrary to you. Regardless, this planet is an important staging ground in our war against the Extemos – but that’s not necessary for you to know at the moment.

“When an Extemos scout finds a planet with soulful life on it, they send an expedition to destroy it. If that fails, they send a much more powerful unit to destroy it or gather information on it. For this planet, they sent Anamaluch, a particularly powerful Extemos.”

So the opponent I defeated earlier, the Hammer resonated, was named Anamaluch?

“Yes. I’ve met him twice before. By the time we meet again, he’ll have returned to his full power. We call him the Dark Culmination for reasons that will soon be apparent.

“In all cases of soulful life, including the Extemos, power is inevitably polarized into three forms. For most soulful life, this includes biology (the use and manipulation of organic matter), technology (the harnessing of intelligence), and magic (otherworldly manipulation).

“The Extemos have a different set of powers. One is V, the material they are made of. The other is I, their intelligence. Each of those two is useless without the other. The third classification is N, a free energy source they use very efficiently. I did not recognize it at the time, Torvald, but you took the Dark Culmination’s N when he first appeared. That’s what supplied you with so much energy.

“A Culmination occurs when the three types of powers occur in a specific self-enchancing manner. The resulting power available is greatly amplified as a result.”

Athen’s audience was silent, staring at him dumbly. It was a lot of information at once.

“Now, where that’s useful for you. I said before that this planet is important. It is my goal to save this planet, and I assume your goal is the same. Anamaluch will undoubtedly destroy either the planet or you, those required to save it.

“I can ward off Anamaluch by forcing a Culmination. We need three parts. We need an element of technology.” Athen pointed at the still-cooling Legion flagship that landed in the city. “That Martian ship likely has the best sample of technology we can find here. We also need an element of biological power. I believe the plague in this city is sufficient. And, finally, we’ll need a magical element. Your ‘Librarian’ is a relic of an ancient race and is sufficient. Considering that all elements are already in one area, we can quickly – ”

“Ah.” Epimor said. Everybody looked at him. “Well. I didn’t bring the Librarian with me.”

Athen stared coldly at the wizard. “So it’s still at the battlefield where I met you?”

“Uh. Yeah. Actually, by now, it’s probably gone to the Monastery.”

Inexplicably, Epimor suddenly became very warm and flushed red. “I’ll go get him,” he said, and stood and turned around. “Hanson, is the car?...”

Hanson reponded dryly, “I didn’t give it enough gas to get here and back.”

Epimor looked at Athen in shock. “I’ll be right back.” And he ran away.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:58 pm

Synton wandered through the consciousness of the plague, looking for what she was looking for. There, a core! She entered it and found herself in a blank reality. It was simply a space that existed by the power of the swirling mass in the center of it, a gas of darkness writhing against a black backdrop.

Synton floated up to it and said, “I knew there was somebody here! What are you doing all by yourself?”

The cloud swirled faster and condensed into the form of a young boy. Instantly, a floor was created, and bookshelves rose out of it, the books replacing the previous view of Infinity. “Hi! I’m Bryophyta. Do you want to play a game?”
_____

Hanson wound up going with Epimor to get the Librarian because Synton was still missing and Epimor would need company anyway.

The Hammer, at a loss of prey, took to following the Angel and his allies. The zombies were no threat to them, and the four Survivors were leading them closer to their goal through the deserted streets. They were almost frighteningly efficient; they dealt with every threat, allowing the Torvald and the others to pass through leisurely.

The ground shook gently as the Hammer spoke. Are you certain, Angel, that my rival will appear again?

“Absolutely. He isn’t capable of giving up. That he left shows he’s planning something. In the past, he was able to destroy planets on his own, though... he must be having some trouble this time.”

I look forward to our next meeting.

One of the others, a short, distasteful man, looked at the Hammer warily. “Why would you want to fight him again? I’d prefer he just leaves.”

I have spent an eternity honing my taste for destruction. I have created an art in which I am a master. I want nothing more than to exercise my skill. Had the Hammer had observable eyes, one might have noticed in them a glint of pride. All the more so now that I find myself in a relatively permanent environment, and my destruction persists.

A taller of the Angel’s allies, who the Hammer had noticed was noticeably perturbed by his presence, inquired as to what he had experienced beforehand.

My previous inhabitation was in a world of feeling. One’s will imposed itself upon the world and, if you were strong, the world obliged and reshaped itself. I found myself in control of a large portion of the realm and built an empire on foundations of strength and pride, then mercifully protected it from intruders. It was glorious (though, he continued, surveying the crumbling building and cracked asphalt, this world is beautiful in a way), but all things must end – and what better opportunity to leave my empire than to pursue potentially greater foes?

The air suddenly seemed charged, and the Survivor’s regular shouting became more frantic.

“TANK!”

“TAAANK!”

“FIRE IN THE HOLE!”

Louis was thrown bodily through the air and caught by the Hammer; a swarm of heavily built and armored beasts followed him. They were too much for the Survivors to handle.

Torvald surged forward, hands glowing. Athen ran towards the group, extending his arms as ethereal blades extended from them. Stilts ran around, trying to lure one away from the group. The Hammer stood his ground, extending an armored gauntlet towards the herd. I will allow one of you to challenge me! All the while, the Survivors shot into the crowd.

Torvald unleashed a blast of fire at the first behemoth he reached, knocking it back slightly before it swung at him. He blocked the blow telekinetically and was preparing another spell when another Tank caught him by surprise and knocked him to the road. Torvald raised his hand, first fracturing the ground beneath him and then sending those shards of concrete into the Tanks, giving him time to recover.

Athen nimbly dodges the Tanks’ attacks, dancing among them and slashing at them until they died. Stilts fought similarly, incapacitating any Tanks who approached him with his chains, leaving them to be dealt with by the Survivors.

A stray zombie staggered towards the Hammer. You will challenge me, then? Very well, he intoned, the words echoing as though they were practiced, Prepare yourself. The zombie bent over, hands on its knees as vomit escaped from its mouth. The Hammer raised his mace for a crushing blow when the zombie was struck by a stray bullet, knocking it to the ground. The Hammer froze as the zombie slowly stood back up, walking towards him.

Your bravery is commendable, but I cannot fight an injured opponent. The zombie hissed and raised its arms, running now. The Hammer lowered his mace horizontally, which the zombie hit and grabbed hold of, pushing ineffictively. I will not soil your honor!

The zombie vomited again, still standing, splashing green acid on the Hammer, who pushed him back gently enough to not knock him down. Very well. I will honor your wishes. He raised his mace, brought it down, and the zombie dissolved under its force.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:07 pm

“You might not like this game,” Bryophyta said, standing, “But it’s really really fun.” Behind the bookshelves, dark figures appeared, walking through the library to stand behind Bryophyta. Synton watched him, a glint in her eye as a smile appeared. The creations were similar to the plague creatures, but looked like separate creatures rather than corruptions of humans. They stood with bulging muscles and bladed appendages.

“Now,” Bryophyta said, “Attack!”

Synton’s smile grew manic, and she prepared to jump as the three beings came near her. When they were almost upon her, she flipped up, her foot coming down on the head of one of them. Hooking her leg around its neck, her momentum carried her towards another one, which she grabbed by the chest. Lifting up on it, she leveraged the one now trapped between her legs down and lifted the other in time to take a blow from the third beast.

She twisted her hips, breaking the first’s neck, then kicked off, lifting the one she had grabbed flying along with the other, its blade still stuck in his ally’s back.

Synton turned back to Bryophyta and laughed.
__________

Stilts remained wary of this new ally, the Hammer. However great his power, he was still a being of unknown intent. Stilts’ perception of the Hammer bothered him, though. He seemed to defy all experience Stilts had accumulated. Almost like a human, but twisted beyond recognition. However, there was little point in worrying about it now: the Hammer mostly stood around and di nothing, apparently waiting for the alien – the Dark Culmination – to return.

Not that there was much to do in the first place. Athen guided everybody through the city as if by instinct, and the four Survivors with guns took care of any zombies that troubled them. Even in the rare instance that one of them died, another appeared shortly afterwards to take its place.

Stilts could tell Athen was well-intentioned. From what he could sense while Athen was explaining his purpose, he was telling the truth – or genuinely believes his story. Because he appeared out of a burning portal, the former seemed possible. Like the Hammer, though, Athen seemed completely foreign to Stilts, who had years of experience of observing people.

Torvald, the wizard, was similarly well-intentioned. Unlike Athen, though, he had little idea of what course of action he should take. As far as Stilts could tell, that was why he was following Athen for now. Torvald was almost reassuringly human, if long-lived.

Then there was Dagon. Stilts always kept him in the corner of his eye. He was a slippery one. Dagon was one to act one base urges, those that would sacrifice his allies. Stilts would remain wary of him in the future.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:10 am

Spoiler:
 


Synton stood in an empty room, breathing heavily. The ceiling arched high over her like a cathedral, and the walls were far enough away to seem like the horizon. There was a glass room that had a view of the entire arena situated above her. Bryophyta’s voice boomed out through the empty space, “You seem to be a natural at this game – but I won’t let you win forever.”

Synton smiled inwardly as more enemies materialized in the distance, rushing at her. That Bryophyta is still underestimating me, she thought as she let the monsters close the distance. They formed a wall of darkness, a field of hatred and a willingness to cause pain.

The one closest to her wasn’t touching the ground. A shadow being, it spilled darkness behind it as it floated towards her, monstrous blades floating before it.

Synton exhaled.

She nearly teleported to the monster, her foot occupying the space where its head was moments before, and continued into the hordes behind it.

Watching from his perch, Bryophyta was beginning to feel a twinge of what he suspected was fear. The invader was there one moment before disappearing, and then a field of his minions would disappear as if by an explosion. As he continued to watch, he could only tell her position by the growing absence of his own warriors. When nearly half of them were gone, there was an immense roar and the other half of the vast room was engulfed in flames, the immolation destroying the rest of his army.

No matter. She can’t harm him – this isn’t a physical realm, and he’s protected by more than glass.

, he thought as Synton flashed in front of him in a fighting stance. “You protect yourself with your mind.” She jumped, spinning in a forward flip before stopping in mid-air, her leg aimed at his face. “I’m your worst kind of enemy. So,” she said, finishing the kick and launching him into the glass barrier, cracking it, “Let’s play one of my games now.”
__________

Athen surveyed the decaying street, his wings shaking slightly in the still air. It was a great fortune that creating an impromptu Culmination would be so easy, but there were still setbacks. The magic source was missing, the biological source was still unobtained, and the Legion was maintaining a quarantine on their ship. Still... at least there was the possibility.

Athen had lived for untold millenia, and had encountered Anamaluch twice before, winning one. His power was immense, and he couldn’t be held off forever with just this creation. But it would work long enough for his Confederation to intervene.

I have finished it, the Hammer announced. Athen turned to look along with Torvald as the Hammer outstretched his arm.

Sitting on his palm was the dark metal that made the aliens, V. It had been reformed by the Hammer’s will to form a roughly humanoid figure: structurally a simple mass, but its shape was well-defined and had some humanoid aspects. It was about six inches tall.

It looked exactly like the Dark Culmination.

Athen spoke first. “Why?”

It is a creation for signify my respect and honor for Anamaluch. Torvald looked at it closer.

“So, you’re just going to hang onto it? Even during fighting?”

No, mortal. I will give it its own life.

As he spoke, a green light shone from his palm, a thick mist obscuring the area around the statue. Two spots of green light shone from its head, which winked off for a split second. It was blinking.

:]

The statue flitted up and spiralled around the Hammer for a few moments before stopping and hovering over his shoulder.

I shall use your presence to remind me of our greatest enemy.

:[

No, little one. I hold no resentment towards you. At his words, the statue floated down and settled on the Hammer’s shoulder.

“Anyway,” Torvald said, “Those four have cleared the area around of us zombies. We should move ahead. Where to next, Athen?”

“In actuality, we are almost there. It’s near – and probably inside – that tower.” It seemed only slightly taller than the other decrepit structures in the city.

Then, gloriously, the building lit up, a faint blue glow emanating from somewhere within and shining out the windows. An artificial sunrise lit the city.

“It looks like there’s still activity there.”
__________

Ha’el, after his confrontation with Asazoth, spent several hours mad. After that, he decided he should stop trying to leave the city and that he should find the source of the plague. His intuitions had led him to a tower where the plague seemed to be the strongest.

He managed to break in to the facility and shake off the hordes of heavily built zombies outside, and found himself in a room filled with computers. He found one of the computers and switched it on.

At once, the building woke up, generators long since deactivated starting again, ancient algorithms beginning again effortlessly as the dust-covered machinery hummed to life.

The computer was locked.

Fortunately for Ha’el, he had spent the last decades in solitude behind high security, both physical and electronic. He cracked his knuckles and sat down.


Last edited by debtmaster on Wed May 11, 2011 7:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:43 pm

Synton sat on a short wall with her chin on her hand, intently watching Bryophyta fight her minion. It didn’t tower over his form, but it was still a potent enemy.

The fight seemed to pass in slow motion. Synton just wanted her super-special best friend to know how unfairly he thought; she didn’t want to kill him. Bryophyta clumsily dodged his enemy’s attack and fruitlessly tried to knock it over. The minion grabbed his arm and slowly pulled it down, despite Bryophyta’s resistance.

A black monolith appeared next to them. Bryophyta turned to it in shock, despite grappling with Synton’s minion. “An admin?! Impossible! I killed them all!”

The monolith spoke. “You’re the source of the plague, then.”

Bryophyta’s eyes widened in fear. “It’s you! The one that’s immune to me! Just leave the – ” Bryophyta suddenly went limp, his avatar disappearing. Synton’s minion vanished as she willed it away. The monolith disappeared.

“Hmm,” Synton mused. “I guess I’ve got to go now,” and she, too, disappeared.
__________

Ha’el broke through the security system, finding the administrative core. There were a number of files, which explained the source of the disease.

The company was pursuing a form of teleportation that enzymatically broke down individuals and reconstructed them at a different point. The system was inherently biological, and the strong AI that mediated the system had created a contagion. The plague.

The destruction of the AI would cause the plague to end.

After more roaming through the system’s data structures, Ha’el found a list of channels. All were empty except for one, which had two members.

He joined the channel and a chat began.

>ADMIN: /user_list
>SYS: users “UNREGISTERED” and “BRYOPHYTA”

Bryophyta is the name of the AI, Ha’el thought.

>BRYOPHYTA: An admin?! Impossible! I killed them all!
>ADMIN: You’re the source of the plague, then.
>BRYOPHYTA: It’s you! The one that’s immune to me! Just leave
>ADMIN: /eject_user_BRYOPHYTA
>SYS: user “BRYOPHYTA” ejeceted from port 1138
>ADMIN: /eject_user_UNREGISTERED
>SYS: error
>ADMIN: /disconnect

So the other user doesn’t have a physical aspect, Ha’el though. He shrugged. It wasn’t important, anyway; he only had to destroy Bryophyta.

He looked up the location of port 1138. Bryophyta would meet his end soon.

Ha’el climbed the stairs to Bryophyta’s port. There were zombies in his way, none exceptional, with the exception of one. Rather than turn to attack him, it was kneeling in a corner. It keeled over backwards, writhing as though its hands and legs were bound to the floor. Ha’el watched in fascination.

Its stomach seemed to liquefy and a portion rose up, shaping into another head. It continued to rise up, resulting in another humanoid body, shaped out of a sick slime. The slime lightened, its head turning a pale white, its torso a strong pastel. It was distinctly feminine.

The first leg came out, stepping out of the now-emaciated zombie, a shoe forming mid-air before touching the ground.

The woman leaned towards Ha’el, her green eyes piercing his light blue eyes. Ha'el was dumbstruck. She said, playfully, “Hiya. I’m Synton.”
__________

At the same time, Athen was storming the building. It was full of zombies – and it seemed to be undead itself, recently revived.

The Survivors were gone. They found a fortified room and barricaded themselves in it. Still, the remaining members of Athen’s team were more than enough for the undead.

“Move up. It’s above us.” Athen was trying his best. This planet was too important to lose.

As they neared the floor where the source of the plague was, there were no longer any zombies – or, rather, the zombies were already dead.

“This is it,” Athen announced.

Torvald exclaimed, astonished, “Is that Synton?!”

There was a glass door in front of them. The room behind it was some sort of storage. It looked like a morgue: the walls were made of numbered drawers.

Synton was peering along the rows, Ha’el standing behind her. He said, his voice dripping, “He’s in port 1138.”

Synton flitted across the room, opening the right drawer. Smoke poured out. Synton reached in and pulled out a jar. “Yep! This is him!” Bryophyta was a transparent brown liquid.

Athen swept in the room. “You’ve found it. That’s the source of the plague that destroyed the city.”

Ha’el said, ignoring Athen’s billowing wings, “She won’t destroy it, I already asked. She says it has – ”

“It’s my super-special best friend!” Synton interrupted.

“That’s good,” Athen said. “I need it, and I won’t destroy it.”

Torvald came in. “Synton, how?”

Synton held Bryophyta against her chest. “Promise you won’t hurt him?”

Athen held out his hand. “Of course. I’ll return it shortly.”

Torvald continued, “Go on, Synton. It’s what’s right.”

She relented and gave it to Athen. “Alrighty, then. What’re we gonna do now?”

Torvald said, turning around, “We’ve got to wait for Epimor and Hanson to get back with the Librarian.”

Ha’el watched the scene with caution. He was sure some of these people were the ones who cast that light on him. There was the tall, aged person, and the greasy one (as he ran his hands through his hair); there was also the man who had sprouted iridescent wings, some massive figure in a suit of armor, and a horrible amalgamation of muscle and machinery.
There was also Synton walking alongside them.

Ha’el would go wherever she did.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Mon May 02, 2011 6:44 am

Everybody ultimately settled in a building by the landed ship. It was completely dilapidated, but the Legion wouldn’t let them aboard with Iliad’s approval.

Dagon had said, running his hand through his greasy hair, “Iliad doesn’t trust me. He won’t let all of us into the ship without checking us himself. He should be here soon, though, so we just have to wait a bit.”

Angel, the Hammer began, his voice causing Dagon to jump in fear, I wish to ask something of you. In private.

“Let’s go elsewhere, then,” Athen said, and the two of them left.

Ha’el turned to the remaining group. “So, what’s the story behind you?”

Dagon answered. “I’m an officer for the Martian Legion. We have the goal of strengthening our home planet of Earth. These irregulars are under my command. The first ones here to join my group were Stilts and Athen.”

Stilts nodded in greeting. “I’m Stilts.” He ended in an awkward silence.

Dagon continued, gesturing to everybody as he introduced them, “From there, we ran into the wizards and Nami.”

“My name is Torvald. I have been a wizard since before the first alien attack, over one hundred years ago. My students are Synton here – ” Synton smiled as she was acknowledged “ – as well as Epimor and Hanson, who are not here right now. We’ve allied with the Martian Legion right now to fight off the aliens, which have returned.”

Ha’el looked to the corner of the room at Nami, who spoke up. “I am a bio-mechanical creation of the Enforcers, ruling organization of a number of cities in the vicinity. We were recently subjugated by the Legion, and I am working with them.”

“Dagon,” Ha’el said, “Would you accept me to your team as well? I have no training, but I am capable and would be glad to assist you.”

Dagon shrugged. “At this point, you could just tag along. I guess.”

Ha’el nodded seriously. “Thank you. Then, Torvald, was it? I’d like to speak with you in private.”

Torvald and Ha’el left to another side room. Synton looked around at Dagon, Stilts, and Nami. Dagon was communicating by text on some gadget, and Stilts seemed to be meditating. Nami was off.

Synton first found the room with Athen and the Hammer, who were in the middle of a discussion.

Athen said, astonished, “You think you’re actually from this realm?”

I have faint memories of it. It is somewhat nostalgic, and I find it uncharacteristically easy to persist in it.

“Still, this means you were once a human who endured the Hellscape. If you know how you established your ability to –”

Human.

“Ah, hiya! I was just looking around to see what was goin’ on.” The Hammer’s replica of Anamaluch floated around the room, emitting a yellow light. “Ah! What’s that?” Synton approached it curiously.

??

That is my recognition of the power of Anamaluch[b], the Hammer began. It looked at Synton, yellow points of light narrowing before it approved and spun around her. [b]It is –

“That’s not a cute name,” Synton said. “Can I call it Annie for short?” It looked from Synton to the Hammer.

If it pleases you.

:D

“So what were you doing in here?”

I was discussing this Angel’s plans for the future.

“Aw, that’s boring.”

I look forward to it.

“Well, I’m going to play.”

8{ The miniature Anamaluch looked back and forth at Synton and the Hammer.

You can go, too, the Hammer said.

:)

“Come on, Annie!” Synton left and danced around the building until she found Torvald and Ha’el.

“I can’t say I don’t find it odd,” Torvald was saying, “but as long as you don’t do anything harmful – oh, Synton.”

“Hiya Torvald! I just wanted to ask you if I could go play with Annie.”

:D The construct floated into the room, sliding under the table and around its legs.

“I guess it’s fine. We’ll have to get used to staying here, I suppose – I don’t know what the Legion’s planning after Anamaluch.”

“Torvald,” Ha’el said, seriously, “Can I go, too?”

“What, to play with Synton? Does she mind?” Synton shook her head, smiling. “Then sure.” Synton left, and Ha’el followed her.

Torvald said, to himself, “Now I’m kind of worried.”

?? Annie floated up to Torvald’s eye level.

“Well, for Ha’el. Go on.”

Annie sped out of the room. Torvald was now alone. “Where could Epimor and Hanson be?”
__________

Hanson was the first one awake. His head had a splitting headache, and... where was he?

“Hey, Hanson.”

“Oh, you’re awake.”

“Did you push us down this hole?”

Hanson eased himself up. He was completely sore, and probably bruised. He couldn’t see well. “Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know, but the alternative is some other people who wanted us to fall down the hole.”

Hanson’s eyes were finally getting used to the light. He couldn’t tell if it was because they were so deep in the cave or if it was night, but all he could see was the rough outlines of the rock. There was also the sound of water echoing around them. “Hang on.” He conjured a small fire, which nearly blinded him.

They were in an underground cavern, and seemed to have washed up on some rocks. There were a number of passages leading out of the cavern.

“Well... I guess we should find a way out.” The two of them decided on a pathway that had a door, reasoning that something had to be behind it.

“Right... I’ll see if I can open the lock,” Epimor said. Hanson stepped back as Epimor charged a spell, placing his hand on the lock before the entire door exploded. Hanson walked through the debri before turning around.

Epimor shrugged. “It’s open.”

There was a loud groaning sound before the cavern between them collapsed. “Epimor! Are you okay?”

Although Hanson couldn’t see him, he saw a light come from the other side and heard Epimor. “I’m fine. Hey, I might be able to – ”

“No. You might cause it to collapse more.” Or kill me. “Considering that these tunnels have been used in the past, it’s likely that they meet up again somewhere.”

“All right,” Epimor said. “I’ll see if any on this side go in your direction. Oh,” he added as an afterthought, “Do you think there’s anybody else down here?”

“Maybe. They might know how to get out.”

Hanson and Epimor parted ways. Hanson stumbled through the dark caves; the small light in his hand played tricks with his perception and made it hard to judge where to step.

Before long, he saw a light in the distance. “People!” He extinguished his flame and crept around the corner silently. He looked down the hallway: there was a small room with a number of green crates improvised as storage. There were also two persons, both skinny from apparently living underground. One was reading a book while the other was bent over a table with a pen. There was a small lamp in the center of the room which filled the room with a pale yellow light.

Hanson called out, “Hey!”

They both looked at him, surprised. Then they would realize the situation and –

The one reading dropped his book and reached behind him, drawing a shotgun. The other drew a pistol.

“Hey, there’s no need to – ”

They fired, and Hanson raised his hand and stopped the projectiles. “Why are you – ”

The first fired at him again, and the second picked up a grenade and pulled the pin. Hanson, running backwards, tried to reason with them. “Listen, just – ah!” He threw the grenade back and ran around the corner.

The grenade destroyed the light and all sound. Hanson stayed curled in a ball, hands clutching his head. The gunshots and grenade in the enclosed space deafened him, and now he was blinded.

“Why... why wouldn’t they stop?”

Why were they so hostile? Why? From what he could see in the remains, the person that was drawing was just marking scribbles on paper, and the book was just made of pages attached together.

Hanson continued through a series of rooms, each of which contained ridiculously angry strangers trying to kill him. He found a map in one of the rooms, and found matching marks on the walls of the tunnels and those on the map. He had found his location in the cave system and, by studying the map, found another way to the cavern where he started.

He made his way in that direction. He had picked up some guns from earlier rooms, and made his way to the cavern.

One room was causing Hanson trouble. None of his shots were hitting, and then – “I know you’re using magic! Come out and fight me in a wizards’ duel!”

Hanson looked. There were three figures silhouetted by a light. The two on the sides opened fire, but the one in the center raised an arm and the other two stopped.

“Prepare yourself,” the wizard said, lighting a flame in his hand.

In the light, Hanson recognized the wizard as Epimor, his face set with determination.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Tue May 03, 2011 4:02 am

Synton, humming, was leaving through the lobby, Ha’el and Annie in tow, when Dagon stood up suddenly, looking at his communicator. He said, shocked, “He’s here!”

At the same time, Iliad swept in the room, his armored bulk scraping the walls. “Dagon, what the hell were you thinking?! This city is completely contaminated; there’s biomatter everywhere! What if it’s still contagious?”

Dagon said, almost as a recitation, “We’ve been here all day and we’re still fine, so – ”

Iliad pulled his lollipop stick out of his mouth and waved it at Dagon angrily. “You don’t know the specifics about the disease! The incubation period, the onset, nothing!”

“Ah,” Synton said, “I got Bryophyta to stop the disease from spreading.”

Iliad dropped the stick and turned to Synton. “What? Who is that?”

“Bryophyta’s my super-special best friend!” Humming, Synton walked out. Ha’el followed her and Annie looked at Iliad before leaving.

“Dagon, who was that? And what’s that floating thing?” He opened a hatch on his shoulder and withdrew another lollipop. “I’m considering disbanding your – ”

“Commander Iliad,” Athen said, “Your politics will have to wait. I need to discuss urgent matters about the alien forces.”

“The aliens are gone. There’s been no sign of them.”

“On the contrary, they are just now amassing for a final push.” His wings expanded and his voice became layered with deep undertones. “You’ll have to trust me on this.”

Iliad stood stiffer, and he seemed almost puppetlike. “I trust you. What do you need?” Torvald walked in to see what the commotion was.

Athen continued, “The first thing we need is access to your ship. From there, I’ll need to personally oversee some modifications to the technology structures in place.”

“But the disease – ”

“The disease doesn’t matter. This is of the utmost priority.”
__________

Hanson threw his gun against the cave wall. “Epimor! What the hell?!”

“It’s not like I have any choice in the matter, Hanson,” Epimor said. “They saved me from the emptiness down here. I owe it to them.”

“What are you talking about?!”

“You’re the one who destroyed a third of their underground network! They’re just trying to get by, Hanson. You have to realize that you’re the bad guy.”

Hanson needed something to scream into. The cave would do. “What about your plans?!”

“This is my plan, Hanson. If I kill you, I’ll be accepted into their society. From there,”

“NO!” Hanson shouted. He ran towards Epimor, who released his fireball at him. Hanson swept it away and jumped at Epimor. “NO! WE WERE GOING TO GET THE LIBRARIAN!” Hanson’s hands found Epimor’s throat and he fell on top of him. The two people with Epimor ran away in fear.

“WE HAVE TO BRING IT BACK TO TORVALD AND ATHEN!” Hanson got up, watching Epimor. He sat up, head in his hands.

“Hanson... you’re right. I’m sorry.”
__________

Synton leapt across the rooftops of the destroyed town, waiting every now and then for Ha’el to catch up.

“You know,” Ha’el said, panting, “You’re really something.”

“Thanks!” There was a pounding noise coming from the floor below them.

“Hey,” Synton said, as the roof under Ha’el collapsed, “I think they know we’re here.”

Ha’el fell into a pit of zombies, instinctively drawing his gun and firing on those around him. He drew his sword, crying out in pain as he shifted weight onto a broken leg. Annie came down, firing brief lasers that destroyed the zombies.

Synton peeked over the edge. “Are you alive?”

“I think I hurt my leg,” Ha’el said, “But I’ll be fine. To be honest, I heal incredibly fast. I’m practically invincible.”

Synton’s eyes widened as a smile filled her face.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed May 04, 2011 2:41 am

Spoiler:
 


Iliad took everybody to the ship, except for the Hammer, who stayed behind on Athen’s request.

Aboard the ship, Iliad pointed to Nami and said, “You. You’re being reassigned. Artis, take him to Sheol.

“Athen. I’ll take you to Boisen, our chief engineer. Dagon, watch over everyone else. Take them out of the way somewhere.”
__________

Rather than spend time in the mess hall with Dagon and Torvald, Stilts crept away and began exploring the ship.

In one of the lower levels, he was walking around when he heard a familiar voice come from one of the rooms: “Is somebody there?” Stilts saw Nami in a room separated by a plexiglass wall. Nami was, apparently, held captive.

“Ah, it’s you. Stilts, was it? Come in.”

Stilts came in and saw the room’s arrangement. Nami, the biomechanical abomination, was seated gracefully in a metal chair. He held a small coffee cup but, due to the size of his hands, cupped the whole thing in the palm of his hand.

“You’re not busy, are you? From what I gathered from the ship’s database, Sheol serves as the ship’s research and containment area. You’re on the safe side. Of course, I’m only here since the Enforcers haven’t sent over their data. The Legion wants to learn about what I can do.”

Stilts felt a note of discord from the Culmination, but it was too foreign for him to pin down. “And that bothers you?”

Nami took a sip from his cup and seemed to think about it for a moment. “I wouldn’t say that’s the case. While I’m still undergoing trials, I get a room to myself and as much drink as I want. Please, take a seat if you have the time. I’d offer you some,” he said, raising his cup, “But I doubt you enjoy ink. No, I’m programmed to not be bothered by command. I don’t mind if I change hands.

“What about you, Stilts? You were causing trouble in our city before the first alien attack. Why are you suddenly involved in this?”

Stilts was still for a long time before answering. Finally, he said, “I just want to help people.”

Nami nodded. “And you’re not sure that following Athen is the best way to do that. Let me tell you, that Athen is unlike anything I’ve observed. He nearly killed me on his own. He has great potential.”

Stilts said, “I also thought he wasn’t human. Why would he spend so much time with the Legion?”

Nami tilted his head and looked at Stilts through the reinforced Plexiglass. “Isn’t it obvious? He said before that he needs their technology. If he truly is extraterrestial, he would have no more attachment than that. Of course, I don’t know the full extent of his plans. I would wager, though, that he is now only looking to use what the Legion can provide.”
__________

Boisen gave Athen full access to his stores. Torvald had joined Athen and was surprised at how easily Athen obtained it.

“It’s a trick I learned a while ago,” Athen said. “A simple magic; the power of absolute obedience.”

Athen began writing a program for one of the ship’s many processing cores. “So,” Torvald asked, “How does a Culmination work?”

“Ideally, each of the three pillars augment each other. Strictly speaking, this won’t be a true Culmination, because the computer is nonsentient and I don’t trust the virus. Instead, they’ll augment each other and provide power to the magical source.”

“Couldn’t you just string computers together to get the same effect?”

“Singular arrangements have limiting factors. Multiple arrangements, such as Culminations, do not. In any case, Boisen is allowing me to use all the ship’s processors. Once I set these up, they’ll optimize the power output by the electro-biological system to your Librarian.”

Torvald thought for a moment. “Couldn’t you use a mage instead of a construct like the Librarian?”

Athen responded quickly, “No. It’s a bit complicated, but a construct or nonsentient magic source doesn’t suffer the same damage. Speaking of which, this Culmination I’m setting up now is going to be very crude. It will stop when the wiring breaks, when the virus becomes overwhelmed, or when the Librarian fries.”

“So the virus can be destroyed? That would make Synton sad.”

“One person’s sadness isn’t comparable to the progress we could make,” Athen said dutifully.

That’s wrong, Torvald thought. We’re talking about Synton.
__________

On the street level, Annnie suddenly became curious and floated into the second floor of an office building.

“Hey, I recognize that sign,” Ha’el said. It was a distinctive spiral logo on an otherwise featureless building. “That’s the company that made the disease. That’s right,” he said, remembering, “It was originally some teleportation technology.”

“Wanna go inside?” Synton asked. “They probably have some cool stuff.”

Ha’el was about to agree when a gravelly voice interrupted him from behind. “What’s this? You’re not infected.”

Ha’el turned to see a person who appeared infected but otherwise normal; he seemed sane. He might not want to fight... but you can’t be sure, Ha’el thought. “Who are you?” he asked, putting his hand on his sword.

“I don’t remember any more. All I know is that I was a test of the transport system right before it went critical, and that Bryophyta is gone. The sickness has plagued me for decades but I can still think. I’m going to take the role of Bryophyta, but I’ll need more power before then. I’ll make you into my first slaves.”

Ha’el called out, “Why are you telling us this? You don’t have to do it.”

“Oh, I want to.” The man smiled. “If you know what’s happening you’re less likely to go into emotional shock.”

“If you try anything,” Ha’el said, “I won’t let you take Synton without a fight.”

“No,” Synton said, “You’ll have to fight both of us.”

“Synton...” Ha’el said, and then he was knocked down by something thrown by the scientist. Synton responded instinctively, throwing up a hand to block his next attack.

He had the ability to deform his body at will. His right arm had extended and sharpened into a long jagged blade, which stopped with its point in Synton’s palm. “How did you block that?!”

Synton pushed the blade to the side, throwing the scientist off balance, before lowering her arm and dropping to the ground. When she got low enough, she raised her arm and extended her leg, resulting in a powerful kick. However, the scientist quickly formed a small shield over his chest and blocked the brunt of her kick.

He reached out with his left hand and tossed Synton into the building. She didn’t get up fast enough, and he followed her and lifted her into the air. “This is it, by the way. This vat will dominate your mind and make you my slave.”

“Synton!” Ha’el had recovered and charged at the scientist, his sword raised.

Synton fell. The scientist spun around, a shield forming on his arm that blocked Ha’el’s sword. “It’s sharp. Mine’s sharper, though.” He twisted, his other arm forming a blade and arcing through the air. It cut Ha’el’s arm off at the elbow, causing him to stagger and drop his sword in shock. He could see Synton sinking into the vat. Was this going to be their end?

Ha’el tried to back away, but the scientist stepped over his arm and picked him up by the throat. “You’re really tenacious. You’ll be next.” He turned around, holding the choking Ha’el in front of him.

At this time, Synton had crawled out of the vat of biomaterial and saw the scientist holding Ha’el; she could just see Ha’el’s back. She knew he had fast reaction times with making his shields, so she had to attack where he couldn’t see it coming.

Synton grabbed Ha’el’s sword from his hand and rammed into the two of them. They both cried out in pain. The sword passed through Ha’el’s chest and into the scientist’s heart. He started to go limp.

“I told you,” Synton said, “You’d have to fight both of us.” The three of them collapsed. Synton withdrew the sword and looked at the scientist. “Aw, that’s a shame, too. We could’ve been friends.”

“Synton...” Ha’el said. “That was amazing. How are you still...?”

Synton made her endearing smile. “Something like that can’t destroy my mind. Anyway,” she said, running to his arm, “This’ll go back on, right?”

“Yeah.” Ha’el groaned in pain as he sat up. “Pass it to me.” Ha’el bled a little faster when he realized Synton was holding his hand. He placed the limb awkwardly on his stub and laid back down.

The two of them waited for his wounds to heal, and Annie came back, extremely surprised and confused about what happened. The vat of biomatter began bubbling lightly, and Annie hovered over to it.

??

A hand came out from the liquid. A familiar hand, Ha’el noted. Synton walked over and looked at it before grabbing it and pulling. What came out was Synton – another one.

“Hiya,” the Synton said, “I’m Synton.”

“Cool!” Synton said with admiration. “Me, too!”

ಠ_ಠ

The new Synton was completely nude, much to Ha’el’s embarassment. It was worse because he couldn’t move while his arm was healing.

Over the next few minutes, they decided to call the new Synton ‘Two’. Ha’el said there was probably an error with the program: originally, the vats destroyed the original person and reconstructed it at another position. “This one could be reconstructing you without destroying you first.”

“Well,” Synton said, “I’ll leave Two here to protect you while I look for clothes. Hang in there!”

Synton left, and the bubbling became more intense again. Sure enough, another Synton came out. Three introduced herself to Two, Annie and Ha’el, and Ha’el could stand up by the time Synton came back. It was when Four came out that Ha’el realized they wouldn’t stop and tried to stop the process. He spent almost an hour breaking into one of the computers (which is when Five came out) and finding out how to stop the cloning. Stopping it then would have killed the Synton in process, so he let Six come out before stopping the sequence.

By the end, there were six Syntons, and Synton was being creative, so they all wore different clothes. While they were waiting, they started humming in tune and making chords. Annie had grown more amused each time until she finally became apathetic and wandered back to the ship.

“Well,” Ha’el said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. "I think we should be going back to the Legion."
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Thu May 05, 2011 7:03 am

Spoiler:
 

Epimor and Hanson found an upward sloping path through the Earth and followed it. Epimor hung his head. “I’m really sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Well, whatever. We still need to get back to Torvald.”

They continued in silence. Epimor suddenly perked up. “Hey, this is familiar. This tunnel.”

“What’s familiar about it?”

“You don’t feel it? And these markings... we’re right below the Monastery. This way.”

Hanson was running behind Epimor. “You’re lying! How would you even know that?”

Epimor shouted back, “I had to take care of Synton, remember? We explored down here.”

The cave fed into a well-formed tunnel, which then became a cathedral-like room covered in shining blue runes: this was the Library.

“I can’t believe it,” Hanson said with shock. “This means we’ve been living on top of those people the whole time!”

“Yeah, and you killed them. Librarian! Are you here?”

The faintly glowing Librarian hovered into the room from one of the overhead pathways. “Ah, it’s a busy week! What is it now?”

“We need you again. Something about saving the world.”

The Librarian nodded dutifully. “I’ll have to confirm with Haddad, but otherwise I’d be glad to help.”

“Let’s find Haddad, then.”

“I can’t feel that we ask too much of him. I mean... we have Synton...” Hanson shuddered.

“Of course, we’ve also improved their understanding of their runes – and we do odd jobs. But you never liked runes anyway. Oh, yeah. You remember Asazoth? I made another one.”

“What’s Asazoth?”

“Ah, it’s my custom rune.”

“Oh, that. No, don’t take it off.” That rune could kill us. “Wait, another one?!”

“Yeah. Oh, Haddad! We need to borrow the Librarian.”

Hanson remembered his involvement in the first fight against Anamaluch. “Haddad. We’re preparing for a counterattack against the aliens.”

Haddad showed a wizened wisdom, but also caution. “Aliens? They were defeated.”

“We thought the same thing. But we fought it again, and there’s good reason to believe it’s on its way back even stronger. We might need your help.”

Haddad closed his eyes. “Very well. This is the reason the Templars exist. We’re abandoning the Monastery temporarily. I’ll organize us and then we’ll move out.”

Hanson walked outside of the Monastery. “Which way was everyone again?”
__________

The Hammer, sitting alone in the dilapidation, stirred. He felt his archenemy elsewhere. He exited the building to the open wastes.
__________

Artis turned from the displays. “Commander! High-energy reactions detected outside of the city! It has the same characteristic as the aliens before!”

“They’re here, then? Tell Athen of it; Boisen’s in his sector. Prepare the plasma and ion cannons for discharge.”
__________

Athen was toiling away working on his calculations when Boisen came in. “Athen, I have to tell you – Wow!” Boisen ran over to the physical components that Athen had constructed.

“It’s so much science!” he cried out, getting onto his hands to see it closer. “I’ve never seen so much! Did you use the Bryophyta as a dielectric?”

Athen continued his work. “Yes. It stores energy in the polarization. What did you have to tell me?”

Boisen continued staring at the “Oh. The alien’s here.”

Athen jumped up with a start. “Damn him, coming at a time like this. Boisen, where is he? I’ll need to move this to a hangar that has a view of him. I also have a few programs to run on the ship’s processors. I already have the actuators calibrated.”
__________

The Hammer stood before a host of aliens. He could feel that they had increased in power from before.

I will allow you to pass, his voice rang out, and he pointed to the original Anamaluch. With the exception of you.

The Culminations seemed to not collectively and all but Anamaluch swept around the Hammer. Although his face was completely emotionless, any observers would swear they saw a smile as he gripped and readied his sword.

Spoiler:
 
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Thu May 05, 2011 7:33 pm

Spoiler:
 


The Templar Vaniah, transformed to the Hammer by an eternity in the Hellscape, stood as a suit of polished platemail, ornamented with runic decorations. He held a massive broadsword ready in front of him. It was as though he was a manifestation of violence itself, though carefully controlled.

The Dark Culmination was a vaguely humanoid alien, a harbinger of destruction formed from the alien material V. He faced the Hammer blankly, motionless.

THOUGH YOU PROTECT THIS PLANET,

YOU ALLOW US TO PASS UNINHIBITED.

YOU ARE A FAILURE AS A GUARDIAN.


The Hammer ignored his taunt. I do not aim to be protector. I aim for glory, and you present yourself an able opponent. They stood in silence after this. I will allow you to have the first attack.

The Dark Culmination shifted, suddenly bearing down on the Hammer. Black and silver collided. The Hammer’s sword and arm shimmered and buckled as the Dark Culmination assaulted his being. The bends straightened as the Hammer reasserted his power.

The Hammer struck the Dark Culmination away, holding his broadsword in only his right hand while drawing his shield in his left and blocking the Dark Culmination’s counterattack. The two of them locked together as they tested their strength, the Hammer experiencing an excited bloodlust.
__________

Athen watched from an open hangar on the Legion flagship. He was in a single hole in a wall of steel. Despite his distance, he watched the battle with interest. “The other ones are coming. There’s not enough time. Where are Hanson and Epimor?!”

Torvald said, “Use me in the Culmination. I’ll do it.”

“No, I can’t. It’s not safe.”

“You said yourself risking one person wasn’t worth risking the Earth.”

Athen glared at Torvald almost angrily.
__________

Hanson and Epimor rode into battle in the Templar transports. “OK, Epimor, there are four of them. We’ll probably need to focus them down.” An explosion rocked the transport, and the world spun.

The four aliens spun around and swarmed onto the Templars, who were still recovering. Haddad summoned a number of runes that knocked them back, and the ten or so Templars that remained stood and charged.

Their attacks had little effect on the aliens, but the aliens’ attacks also had little effect on the Templars. Two of them coated the Templars in flames, but they were protected by their runes. The heavy weapons chipped away at the V, but the effect was not enough.

Hanson and Epimor were fighting a huge alien that took heavy blows at them. They were being overpowered, though: one of the attacks hit Hanson, knocking him down with a mighty crack.

“Hanson!”

Nami came barreling out of nowhere, tackling the alien and causing him to shift to the side. “I am sorry, wizard. I am too late.”

The alien struck out at Epimor, but Nami turned and took the blow, bones and supports breaking. The alien made short work of the disabled Nami, who raised an arm weakly before shutting off. The mage aliens had incapacitated the Templars with a combination of water and electricity while the fourth flanked them and began stabbing them from behind.

Hanson was dead. Nami was dead. Epimor took off his right glove.
__________

“Fine,” Athen said. “I’ll set you up.”

“Thank you, Athen.” Torvald stepped up to the incomplete Culmination. “If I die, tell Synton this was my choice.” I guess, he thought, my foresight shows I’m ready to die.
__________

The Hammer suffered a blast of energy to the chest, denting his hardened plate. The Hammer’s power was waning; another blast of energy sliced across the Hammer’s arm, causing his left gauntlet to fall to the ground with a thud.

The Hammer pointed his sword at the Dark Culmination and began to dissolve it. His sword exploded into Hellscape energy, which ate at the Dark Culmination’s V until the I itself was exposed.

Victory is mine, his voice resounded. Anamaluch.
__________

Epimor’s hand was covered in a swirling runic script. It glowed faintly with a piercing white light.

This hand of mine glows with an awesome power! A blast of light emanated from his hand, causing the aliens around him to slide back inches. He raised his hand and clenched it into a fist. The aliens all stopped and rushed towards him.

It’s burning grip tells me to defeat you! The light intensified and coalesced into a sharpened blade, which he held before him.

Take this! He stabbed the blade into the large alien, destroying its I. He whipped around.

My love... He spun around, cleaving one of the elementalists in two. The light seemed to penetrate even their V.

My anger... He twisted his arm, stabbing the sword behind him and killing the other elementalist. He launched himself towards the swordsmen.

And all of my sorrow! He brought the sword down, but it was blocked by the Extemos sword. Epimor twisted his wrist, knocking the alien back and bringing the sword down in a power-filled strike.

SHINING FINGER SWORD! The light intensified and he brought the sword across the swordsman, causing an explosion and killing the final alien.

High above Epimor, a blast of energy shot at incredible speed through the air from the Torvald Culmination. It traveled through the air, through the Hammer, and impacted the Dark Culmination.

The energy of the impact left a crater in the ground and launched the remains of Anamaluch out of the Earth’s gravitational well.
__________

Torvald lapsed back into consciousness briefly. “Which part... failed?”

Athen responded, “It was the ship. You and Bryophyta are going to be fine.”

Torvald blacked out again, this time with a smile on his face.
__________

The Hammer turned and looked back to the Legion flagship. The sun was nearly eclipsed by the spire. He made his way back.

On his way back, he walked past the Gray Culmination. It had rebooted and was resurrecting Hanson and the Templars that had been slain.

This was not the Hammer’s goal. He continued.

He reached the city itself. This was also not his goal. The diseased who challenged him were ineffective. He continued into the ship itself. Athen notified the Legion of his presence and, through some persuasion, the Hammer passed without intereference to the bridge of the ship. The bridge crew were in celebration.

The Hammer leveled his gaze at Commander Iliad. I understand you are the leader of the humans?

The Commander answered in the affirmative. Then it is to you I will direct my news.

I have come seeking a challenge. I have destroyed what I believe is the strongest enemy this world has to offer. From this point on,
he continued,

I will destroy all that exists on this planet. My first target will be you, the group that defeated Anamaluch. This is non-negotiable.

The bridge was struck into silence. The Hammer’s appearance was made no less threatening by the hole scored through his chest.

“Wait,” Iliad said. “You helped us –”

Do not mistake my actions as those of an ally. As of this moment, I am now the enemy of you and all of humanity.

However, I will not allow myself to fight a weakened enemy. I will return in a half-years’ time, when our fight will be staged
. Wordlessly, the behemoth turned around and walked back out of the ship. Athen just now rushed into the bridge.

On his way out, the Hammer ran into Ha’el. “Ah, it’s you.”

Move.

“What – ” Ha’el began, but the Hammer pushed him to the wall and continued walking out coldly. The Syntons watched him leave with confusion.

Athen sighed. At least, he thought, The Earth is safe for now.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sat May 07, 2011 6:45 am

Spoiler:
 


Synton shuffled down the small metal tube. She heard talking. Edging up to a small grate, she looked down into one of the rooms closed to the ship’s command.

In the sparse room, Commander Iliad and Boisen were talking.

Boisen was saying, “The strain on the ship’s computers was irreversible. With the main processors destroyed, all we have now are the Navicomputer, which is useless, and portable equipment like stand-alone computers and hardware. And, of course, the resources that are in the city around us.”

Iliad raised an armored hand to his chin. “If that’s the case, there’s no point to stay in the ship, right? We can scavenge the city and move permanently to a more tactical position.”

“That’s right. However, that means...”

Synton kept going, moving to a large chamber. The walls were metal again, this time bottoming out with a slowly spinning fan. Synton jumped, stopping spread-eagled before the fan. She timed her movements to slide between the blades of the fan and dropped into Sheol.

She found Nami’s room and pried the grating off, dropping her head into the room. “Heya!”

Nami turned, looking through the Plexiglass. “Synton. I heard of your exploits. Your clones. The scientists are calling them the ‘Synta.’”

“I’d like to spend time with them, but I’m busy looking for Bryophyta. D’you know where he is?”

“I don’t know who that is. What does he look like?”

Synton laid flat, pulling both of her arms into the room from the vent. “He’s about this big, a jar of brown liquid...”

“Ah, the disease. If I am not mistaken, Athen has it. According to the database I have access to, he’s somewhere in Sheol.”

“Thanks! Cya later!” Synton pulled herself back into the vent and replaced the grating.

Nami just sighed. “That girl is too much. It is in my favor that the ventilation systems are separated.”

Synton kept moving, looking into empty rooms. Empty rooms, empty rooms... one wasn’t empty. There were Torvald and Athen. A collection of parts and wires on the floor, next to the jar Bryophyta was in. It was half-empty.

Torvald was talking to Athen, who was doing something with the circuit. “I’m surprised how much power that outputs. All it took was one word to vanquish Anamaluch.”

“That’s to be expected. Even if it was impromptu, I was put on the planet precisely because I am capable. I’ve spent years studying and practicing Culmination theory.”

“Couldn’t you turn yourself into a Culmination? You could be that much more effective.”

“Unfortunately,” Athen said as he drained more of Bryophyta into the container, “Proper construction is dangerous to the system components. Nami is a weak Culmination, and he’s already so disfigured, and his mind is mutilated. It is far from worth it.”

Realization set in for Synton. “Even in the Culmination I made with you – ” The grating unhinged. “ – all of the parts involved – ” Synton slipped out, pulling the metal back into place. “ – took massive damage. Fortunately, – ” Synton landed quietly next to Athen, her legs coiled. “ – you survived.” Synton lashed out, kicking Athen into the wall with a dull thud.

Torvald chimed in, “It’s also fortunate that the disease wasn’t destroyed.”

Synton turned to Athen, who was lying on the floor. “You idiot! What are you doing to Bryophyta?!” The electric components around her all cracked, and the liquid that contained the disease oozed out and came together in the open jar again. “I’ll remember this,” Synton warned, and she took the jar as she jumped up the wall, popped the grate in, and slithered back into the vent.

Torvald said, half to himself, “And now there are six of her...”
__________

Boisen returned to the Engineering section, where Artis came up to him. “Boisen, the test results are confirmed. The disease doesn’t spread anymore. Also, from the experiments I’ve managed to make an antidote for the plague in the city. With proper application, we can stop most of the infected safely.”

“Good work,” Boisen said, and Artis brightened up. “I’ll be sure to tell Iliad the next time I see him.”
__________

Dagon sat in the mess hall. There had been some ruckus outside, but he was tired and didn’t want to get involved.

Stilts came in afterwards and spoke to the effect that he was leaving for personal reasons. Even he wasn’t sure why, but... Dagon nodded.

Torvald, the wizard, came in afterwards with Ha’el. “Dagon. We’ve got to prepare for our new enemy. Together, I can, along with Hanson, Epimor, and Synton, start research for magical weapons of war. It’d be great if you could talk to Iliad about it.”

“The way the Legion is structured now,” Dagon said, “Commander Iliad can take whoever he wants from my command, like he did with the Enforcer machine. Any group you organized wouldn’t be official.”

The doors to the mess hall opened, and Iliad walked in.

Torvald took the opportunity. “Commander. I hope I’m not speaking out of line, but I’d like to form a research group for magical advances. Naturally, it would be in the benefit of the Legion.”

Iliad responded, “You would report directly to the Legion, then?” He unwrapped a green lollipop. Was it lime? Was it melon? “This actually works well with my plans. Who do you want?”

“The only people I need are myself, Athen, the wizards I trained, and Ha’el here. Everybody’s from Dagon.”

“Perfect. I’ll form a group for you and put you with the R and D department.” He was waving around his green lollipop as he spoke. “I’ll take your proposal to Boisen. In fact, I’m heading there now. Come with me.” Iliad rounded on Dagon, putting the candy in his mouth. It was a bitter lime. “Oh, right. Dagon. For your continual screwups, I’m docking your rank. You’ll get a missive later with details. Tell me everybody under your command so I can reappropriate them.”

“Nobody’s under my command, sir. I’m alone.”

Iliad cocked a smile. “Well, that’s easy.” He left with Torvald and Ha’el, shutting the doors on Dagon, in the mess hall by himself.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Sun May 08, 2011 5:03 am

Spoiler:
 


The Hammer’s actions in the previous battle were not without consequence. He destroyed his sword, releasing enough Hellscape energy to vaporize half of the Dark Culmination. The transfer of that much energy from the Hellscape to the material realm weakened the barrier between the two planes.
__________

The research department was open to the dry air outside, and Boisen directed the removal of computer component in sealed containers. At the same time, Iliad ran over Torvald’s idea. Boisen responded, “I think that sounds like a great idea, especially considering the wizards’ contributions in the previous battle. If we could enhance that ability... absolutely. Of course, nothing will be final until we settle in, but I’m in favor of it.”
__________

There was a light flashing on the terminal in Hanson’s room. Nobody else was there, so he pushed it, jumping back almost immediately.

Synton’s face filled the screen. “Heya Hanson!” Synton backed away from the camera , revealing four other Syntons – no, the rest of the Synta. They were all Synton’s clones. “You don’t ever come down to visit us, so we made this message to introduce ourselves. So, without further ado!”

The one who was speaking before introduced herself first; she wore a T-shirt and jeans. “I’m Tachi. I was the first clone made.” She had an infectious, almost sarcastic smile. “Except for Synton, I can beat all my sisters in a fight.”

The second was wearing a semi-formal dress and smiled warmly. “I’m Michi. I’ve been reading stories in the ship’s database...”

The next had a hoodie, and her arms were crossed over her chest. She didn’t seem too happy. “I’m Yuchi. We’re being assessed tomorrow, so we’ll probably be getting out of Sheol.”

Standing next to her stood a Synton in a sundress, holding her hands in front of her and bowing her head. “I-I’m Ichi.”

There was a brief pause before the next girl, wearing functional clothing, continued. “I’m Muchi. It’s thanks to my efforts we managed to get this message out of Sheol.”

Hanson sighed. They hacked the ship’s network?

“Anyway,” Tachi ended, “Like Yuchi said just now, we’re probably going to be out of Sheol by tomorrow, and most of us are going to be hanging around the Legion. We can’t wait to see you around!” The video cut out.

Hanson was horrified – and, now that the video was over, he noticed Epimor had walked in while it was playing. “Wow,” he said from behind Hanson, “That was weird. They’re so un-Synton like.”

“No. They’re too similar. They’re just barely too similar.”

Epimor sat down and spoke in a more serious tone. “You know why they did that, right? Because you’ve been avoiding them, they feel lonely, and probably a little hurt.”

Hanson stood up and said something about finding Torvald. Epimor smirked as Hanson was leaving. “And, starting tomorrow, they have access to the ventilation systems, so you need to get used to them.”
__________

Night fell, and the ship was sealed. Dagon sat on guard over the supplies that were going to be moved. He was starting to doze off when he suddenly became aware of a number of figures approaching him slowly. Zombies? No. As they got closer, he realized they had no bodies; they were just humanoid shadows. He swallowed and raised his gun.
__________

The next morning all of the guards reported similar experiences. None of the shadows proved a threat: they were damaged by bullets and moved very slowly. However, their presence was a mystery and technically a threat. The next night, Torvald stayed out on watch to satisfy his own curiosity.

The shadows appeared again, and Torvald was surprised to find they were psychic enemies. While they could be killed with bullets, they could be absolutely crushed by basic psychic attacks. They were just another form of zombie, but one he’d never seen before.

Then screaming caught his attention. Hurrying to the sound, he found a guard huddled against a wall, helmet knocked down to cover his eyes. His rifle was on the ground before him. “What’s going on?” Torvald asked before realizing: “Dagon? Is that you?”

He felt something at the base of his neck. Some pest. It was a psychic attack. Torvald turned around.

Another shadow towered over him. He had noticed on the others before, but the effect was stronger this time: in a disorienting paradox, he saw every detail of the beast’s grotesque form while it remained solid black.

This one was quadrapedal, with a long neck and sharpened teeth. Where the earlier shadows were mindless and only sought to destroy, this beast was insidious. The nagging feeling was its attempt to assault his mind.

The beast roared and took a step at him, crushing the wall of a containment vessel; computer parts spilled out. Torvald negated the monster’s pressure and reversed it. It shook and roared, lowering its head and charging. Torvald lowered a palm, gathering energy before unleashing a blast of light that pushed it back, crushing more storage. In the equivalent to putting it in a vice, he exerted more pressure until the beast died and dissolved.

Athen appeared. “You killed it before I could get here. These beasts are related to the armor from before. They only seem to appear at night, and they’re weak enough. However, there might be a bigger threat. I’ll talk about it tomorrow with Iliad.”
__________

“Commander Iliad. The enemies that have been appearing these last two nights are related in source to the armor that defeated the Dark Culmination and declared war on us. There are two likely options for their manifestation: either they’re a temporary manifestation or else they have a rallying force behind them. Considering that more severe enemies appeared last night, I think the second option is the case. I suggest you prepare for immediate defense and counterattack; it will most likely only get worse tonight.”

Iliad processed the information. “Will you tell me some day how you know all this?”

Athen only smiled. “Perhaps. It depends on how events play out. For tonight, though, the greatest weapons you have are the wizards. Although they don’t know it, they’ve dealt with these things in the past.”
__________

Abaddon, though formless, smiled to himself. As an entity from the Hellscape, his exact form was imprecise and changed like the surface of a pond. However, his intent did not change.

He wanted to destroy. No matter how many eyes he had, there always burned behind them the desire to see order dashed against the rocks and thrown into chaos.

He was always a lesser entity, until the Hammer left the Hellscape. He had done what was only passed down in legends and conjectured and become self-sustaining. Although he drew upon Hellscape energy, he did not rely on it. This created a vacuum of power which Abaddon intended to fill.

The Hellscape provided a fertile ground for those who wished to crush. Things were destroyed by the power of thought, for only thought existed. However, there was no permanence to the world. An empire created over millenia could be erased in an instant – indeed, that is what happened to the Hammer’s hegemony. What Abaddon longed for was a chance to destroy the persistent, to destroy the material.

And what an opportunity to do so he had! Within the vacuum a weakness formed in the barrier that separates Hell from the mortal realm.With this, Abaddon could spread into the mortal realm, steal power from the humans therein, and spread more until the world was his, to control or destroy. Not even the Hammer would be able to challenge him.
__________

The next night, droves of shadows assauled the Legion flagship and were driven away. Even the larger specters were ultimately driven away by Torvald and his other wizards. However, just as dawn began to break, Torvald heard a voice.

Hello, humans. Allow yourselves to be immersed in my power, in my very essence.

Torvald felt a tug at the base of his skull. This one, however, was too strong. It felt as though his brain was pulled down through his spine and he fell unconscious.

The entirety of the Legion suffered the same fate. Abaddon, the dark cloud, had descended onto Earth.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Mon May 09, 2011 4:21 am

Torvald drifted back into consciousness. He was floating in a pool of water. He lifted his head and looked around. As far as he could see, there was water.

He tilted upright and, as his feet his the ground, he felt an enormous release of energy. The water disappeared and the landscope rose up, putting him on top of a snowy mountaintop. His breath made little puffs of smoke as he looked around at the landscape. He was right.

His suspicions were right; this was the Hellscape. He was able to resist the demon’s attack, but... he still didn’t know why it was able to manifest to strongly. It wasn’t particularly strong.

That wasn’t important, though. He just had to find a way to end him.

Torvald raised an arm to shield his eyes from the cold wind. How would he do that, though? The fact that he wasn’t in immediate danger told him the demon wanted to harvest his power rather than kill him outright. Everybody else was probably in a similar situation... but each world is self-contained, and he can’t get out by himself.
__________

With the exception of one, Abaddon had secured hold of every human in the area. He wouldn’t pursue the one that got away – he seemed dangerous, and there was more than enough human already. More than that, the demon had to be alert for other Hellscape entities seeking his power. As he drained the humans, he would put them in their own worlds and wait for an offensive from the Hellscape.

In a short enough time, he woud be strong enough to start spreading across the planet.
__________

Hanson was breathing heavily, bent over from exhaustion. The sun shone softly from overhead. “Torvald, are you OK?”

Torvald stood up from the green grass. Next to him lay the Hammer, the light from within his helmet darkened. “We’ve done it, Hanson. Alone, we destroyed him. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Hanson smiled as he straightened up and looked at the rising sun.
__________

Epimor, in the back of his mountain-side cabin, was experimenting with magic with Synton. He had been productive with Torvald and Hanson, but he definitely preferred to be in isolation. Of course, he had occasional visitors.

It was about midday. He looked at Synton, who was inscribing symbols into a piece of wood, and went inside to heat dinner. This, Epimor thought, Must be Heaven.

__________

Ex-Commander of the Legion military, Iliad, strode through the Martian city. Due to his armored bulk, the cold wind and fleeting sunlight did not effect him. He was home.

His boots crunched lightly on the sand that hand blown in from some storm. The sound was so nostalgic; it had been years. He passed familiar roads, with houses all built into the ground to conserve heat.

That was the house he was looking for. After spending so much time on Earth, it seemed both foreign and inviting. He knocked. There was a brief pause – enough for somebody to look through an eyehole – and the door was pulled open.

There was his wife, with a smile growing on her face and tears in her eyes. She lunged at him, catching him in an embrace, which he shared, closing his eyes and bowing his head against hers.

“I’m home.”
__________

It was a hot, muggy day, and Dagon had just returned home. Earth. It was just another day; he worked in a shop and then visited his parents across town.

Everything seemed to improve once the Legion arrived and unified the Earth’s governments, and he was just feeling the benefits of their control. He left his parents at dusk, just when the stars began appearing. Looking into the sky, he smiled.
__________

Ha’el lay in bed in Legion-issued complex. He spent his days in the Legion Research and Development lab complex C, the magic research, even though he’s not capable of magic. Recently he’s been helping Synton.

He put his arms behind his head and smiled. This is fine.
__________

Athen sat in a sea of darkness. There were no stars. There was no light. There was only himself and the infinite plane beneath him.

He didn’t know how that spirit managed to subdue him and most likely everyone else, but he was able to just barely close his mind before it discovered anything important. Still, if he couldn’t escape, he would stand no chance.

He sat down and waited.
__________

The Synta sat in a deformed landscape, made up of furniture. A number of head-high stools grew out of the laminate like trees, and a large dresser dominated the horizon. A flock of French doors flew above them.

The Synta were next to a small futon pond.

Synton hung down by her legs from the rung on a stool. “Whatcha think?”

Michi looked around from her futon a bit before responding, “Nothing matches...”

Ichi stuttered from her chair shrubbery, “I d-don’t think we should just l-leave everyone else behind.”

Yuchi nodded, leaning back on her bench and crossing her arms. “It’s a bit of a cowardly thing to do.”

Tachi leaned forward in her bean bag and put on a challenging smile. “Besides, if we stayed here, we’d have nobody to play with.”

Muchi, bored, looked up from her desktop computer. “True. There’s no challenge here.”

“Alrighty!” Synton said, and hopped down. “We’ll leave and make that demon our newest best friend!”

In an instant, the world dissolved and the Synta found themselves back in the Legion flagship.
__________

Abaddon was diligently keeping invaders of his realm at bay, and failed to notice the subtle disruption of his trap. However, that one loss was enough to cause everything to tumble down.
__________

Something is wrong, Torvald thought. He had been climbing down the mountain and had, at some point, been on a glacier. When did this happen?

He found himself on a piece of melancholy. There was a cliff in front of him, and at the bottom love surged and crashed against the wall. In the far distance was a single spot of anger.

What was the demon doing? No. Something was wrong. He felt around mentally, and he noticed the barrier around his world was weakened. It’s not something somebody who was unaware could notice. While he didn’t know why there was this turn of events, he wasn’t going to ignore them. He closed his eyes and shifted realities.
__________

Hanson came out of his euphoria to see another Torvald beside him.

“Huh? Torvald? Why are there two of you?”

“This isn’t real, Hanson. Remember.”

Confusion led to disbelief and then realization. Hanson lowered his head. “I can’t believe it. This whole time... thank you.” A light appeared next to Hanson and grew to an image of his room in the flagship. Hanson stepped through, and Torvald disappeared as the world collapsed.
__________

Epimor was practicing his strength of inscription when somebody grabbed his arm. “Torvald? I thought you were in Mendelgovi.” His emotions waned. “Oh. All of this was fake... well.” Epimor waved at him in farewell. “See you on the other side.”
__________

Iliad, now crestfallen, looked across the table at his wife. Torvald occupied another seat at the table. “I see,” Iliad said. “This was all just a willful dream.”
__________

Hundreds of lights burned through the Hellscape, up to the mortal realm. They broke through just as dawn was breaking.

Torvald came to and stood up. Eclipsing the Sun was Abaddon, a featureless sphere made of the same shadow as the other demons.

It seemed to take notice of Torvald. Impossible! How did you escape my Alternate Space Labyrinth?

Torvald clenched his fists and teeth. “Don’t underestimate us!” Abaddon summoned a flat circle of shadow and fired it at Torvald. The wizard blocked it and threw it aside; it dug into the hardened Earth and dissolved. “I will break through any of your methods! I've been waiting for a century to protect the Earth and you expect me to die to something like you? Who the hell do you think I am!"

With a zealous yell, Torvald released a massive psychic strike which split Abaddon down the middle. He split into a number of small shadows, some of which dissolved while the others wandered aimlessly. Torvald turned and went back into the ship.
__________

From inside the ship, Tachi stood at a window and had watched the fight. “Oh,” she said to herself, tilting her head. “It was outside.”
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Wed May 11, 2011 8:08 am

Spoiler:
 

Torvald gained some noteriety since the incident with Abaddon. Apparently, he had personally freed each member of the Legion from his grasp. Regardless, he was just going to be a researcher until that Hellscape beast reappeared.

There plans were pushed back by the interruption, though. The Legion was trapped for two days by a demon, and Boisen prioritized the evacuation of the empty flagship. After the city was purified by the reagent Artis developed, the move began to Mendelgovi. That specific city was chosen so Iliad could keep a closer watch on the Enforcers and the specifications for Nami could finally be recovered.

In the transort vehicle that housed the future Research and Development staff, Torvald suddenly had a thought. “Boisen, I just realized something. I left my projects at the Monastery. It isn’t far from Mendelgovi, so I’m going to drop by.”

Boisen frowned. “You’re the head of a department section. You should send your subordinates.”

There weren’t many of those, were there? He would definitely need Hanson and Epimor to get things ready in Mendelgovi. He’d have to send Synton, who knew what he would want to bring back, as well as somebody to escort her. Athen was capable.

Torvald stood up and made his way to the rear. “Hey, Synton. I’ve got something for you to do. You know my experimental runes? I need you to go to the Monastery and pick them up for me. Athen, could you go with her?” Athen nodded, shrugging internally. “Great. Yes, Ha’el, you can go, too. I’ll work out a plan with Boisen to set you off when we stop to refuel, and while you’re there, you can return the Librarian.”

The stop was right outside a mining city, and Torvald sent the three of them off to the Monastery.

Boisen eyed the machinery from outside the city. “If they have raw materials we can trade for, we can customize our facilities...”
__________

Athen, Synton and Ha’el drove in silence over the dry, dusty terrain. Athen broke the silence.

“Synton. I’ve been curious for a while, but your way of fighting is very unique. How did you learn it?”

Synton just smiled in response. “I never trained or practiced. It’s just natural, y’know?”

Athen gripped the steering wheel tighter. He was treading in dangerous waters. “How is it, then, that you can use Hellscape energy so easily?”

Athen braced himself.

The Hellscape is a continuous realm that permeates all space. However, Hellscape energies gather around planets with soulful life, which causes the creation of spirits. Due to billions of years of trade, there are only local variations in how these spirits react. On the other hand, Earth was almost completely isolated from the galactic community. The presence of the Templars, who regularly used the Hellscape, was enough to be odd.

A normal spirit possessing a person would react to such a claim, attacking the accuser or fleeing the victim traumatically. Defiance, at the least, was expected.

Synton just kept smiling and turned back to the front of the car. “Dunno. Torvald or Hanson might, though.”

Ha’el didn’t know what was going on but thought he understood the gist of the conversation.

Synton leaned forward. “Hey, there are trees!” Indeed, the desert suddenly turned into a dense forest. Fresh undergrowth had caught hold in the parched landscape. The trees were too dense for them to navigate.

Athen stopped the car. Ha’el asked, “Are we going in?”

Synton ran up and put her hand against the bark. “Why are they here?”

Athen just said, “This was a foreseeable consequence. The Monastery’s built on top of where the Librarian was, right?” and walked into the dense trees. Ha’el and Synton followed, the Librarian floating silently behind them.

The Librarian spun back and forth as though looking around. After a while, it said in a whisper, “I think somebody’s following us.” Athen only nodded as there were suddenly a number of figures around them. They were tall and well-built. Their skin was pale and smooth, and something about their faces seemed inhuman.

“Sorry to intrude,” Ha’el said, taking a step back. “We were just – oh, they’re behind us, too.”

“Take us to Gaia,” Athen commanded.

“Hey, Athen, we don’t even know who they are. We should just go to that one city and wait for everyone else.”

“They are elves,” Athen said, “And if they are here, so is Gaia. Finding her was good fortune.”

Ha’el was silent. One of the elves, the leader, spoke up. “That is impressive knowledge for a human. However, we will not allow our charges to give us orders. If you persist we will drive you back by force.”

Ha’el instinctively put his hand on his sword and stepped in front of Synton.

“I am not a human,” Athen said, rainbow-like wings billowing out behind him, “Not of this world.” He placed a hand on his chest in a vaguely ritualistic gesture. “I am the Second Prince of the Systemic Confederation, Athen dar Maus.”
__________

Iliad and Boisen descended to the city to discover that there was a great civil unrest in occurance. There was some sort of uprising from escaped prisoners.

Boisen said, “It’s far beyond our scope to settle this dispute, and I can’t even say we can determine conclusively exactly which side is in the right. However, the materials in the mine would be a magnificent boon to our taxed infrastructure.”

After further discussion, they developed a plan to solve their issue diplomatically.
__________

The elven scout’s eyes widened. He turned back and yelled something in Elvish, causing another elf to turn and run. He turned back. “I will be most impressed if your claim is true. Even so, we need to confiscate your weapons if you are granted access.”

“That man is the only one with weapons that you can confiscate,” Athen said, motioning to Ha’el, who was overwhelmed by confusion.

Access was granted. The elves took Ha’el’s sword and gun, and they were directed to the location of the old Monastery, and of Gaia. Minutes of walking through jungle ended with a sudden clearing.

“It’s so pretty!” Synton cried, and Ha’el let out a gasp of amazement.

The late morning sun filtered through the lower branches of a massive oak, its base alone hundreds of feet across. Clear waterfalls fell from the branches. A massive crack spread from the base up to a point before the branches sprouted.

Athen smiled. “Belig Aimar. It has been a while since I saw him.” Athen noticed something at the base of the Earth spirit. “It can’t be! Stilts?!”

Ha’el could just make out the outline of a person. Their guide prompted them, “Let us continue.”

He lead them straight to the Librarian’s chamber. Blue runes glowed lightly on the walls and softly illuminated the room. Inside there was a woman, aged and graceful. She turned and recognized Athen.

The elves that lead them to Gaia stood on either side of the entrance. The Librarian floated to another room in the underground system.

“You really are here. Athen dur Maus,” she said, tasting the name. “It has been a long time since a member of the Confederation has visited me, and this time it is a member of the royal family. To what cause do I owe the honor?”

“Nay, Gaia. I come here as a member of the Confederation first and foremost. You are aware of the importance of this planet to the Confederation, correct? We had business here, and it was just good fortune that you were nearby.”

In the end, Athen only effectively stated that he was on Earth to protect from any threats, the most recent being the Extemos and, unexpectedly, the Hammer. Gaia allowed Synton and Ha’el to go to the remains of the Monastery to find Torvald’s runes, and she dismissed Athen.

Stilts walked in a few moments later. “You wanted to see me, Gaia?”

“Yes, Kyklos. There is a member of the Confederation here, and the Second Prince of the Maus family. He has allied himself with the Legion that landed recently. Although you are free now, working with them is most likely the most efficient way to help Belig Aimar and humanity further.

“Of course, I have a plan of my own, if you’ll allow me to explain it. Humanity has great potential, but much of it is wasted due to war. The Legion on its own cannot repel their demon at his current strength. They will be forced to reduce themselves to war to gain power, and that will only weaken humanity. I have a way to unify humans, but I need your help.”


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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Thu May 12, 2011 6:06 am

Spoiler:
 

Stilts rode to Mendelgovi with Athen, Synton and Ha’el. “It’s freeing,” Stilts said. “It’s like I finally understand where I am. How to be the best I can.”

Athen said in surprise, “I never would’ve guessed that you were an agent of Gaia.”

Ha’el just sat with his head in his hands. Everything was overwhelming. Elves? Gaia, the Earth’s spirit? What was he getting into? There were already wizards and demons, and aliens. Why did he come this far? Then he felt Synton beside him and felt calm. To the best of his ability, he would stay with her.

They eventually arrived at Mendelgovi and found the Legion, securing an area near the outskirts of the city. It was in what used to be in an industrial district, so the buildings were strongly built.

It was huge – of course, it served as housing and base for the Legion displaced from the flagship, so space was needed. Four massive buildings served as Research and Development, one each for Sections A through D.

Section A was production, headed by Artis. They were reassembling their forge from the ship.

Section B was weapons research, headed by Boisen. Boisen was in a meeting with Iliad while the other members of Section B sorted their preexisting materials.

Section C was Torvald’s magical research. Torvald was currently surveying the inside of his new base. The main room was the size of a hangar, cement-lined, and completely blank. There were also two rows of smaller rooms in the back that he could use for low-risk testing or offices. Or anything; this was his department. Torvald took a deep breath.

Shortly after the Legion arrived in Mendelgovi, Athen returned with his supplies, and Stilts.

Hanson, Epimor, Synton, Athen, and Ha’el unloaded Torvald’s supplies as Torvald planned future research and oversaw them.

“Sorry, Torvald,” Ha’el said. “Some of these are smudged.” He held up a ceramic square with intricate marking on it. Indeed, the pattern was interrupted by a dark streak coming from the center of the square.

“No, that’s intentional.” Torvald took the square and ran his hand over the surface. A few moments later, he handed it back to Ha’el. “I completed it. Does it feel a bit warm?”

Ha’el held the rune between his palms. “Yeah.” He held it a bit longer. “It’s almost burning hot now.”

The rune floated out of his hands and in front of Torvald again, who ran a thumb over it, causing a similar blur. “I keep them like this for safety. This particular rune passively gathers energy from the environment, but it can’t store energy, so it just dissipates as heat. If I left it, it might start a fire.”

“Why doesn’t it absorb the energy it dissipates?”

Torvald nodded. “Sorry, I forgot you don’t know much about this sort of thing. This particular rune,” he continued, and Athen looked over, “Absorbs energy from the Hellscape.”

Athen placed another rune on a structure similar to a bookshelf and stood up. “Torvald, there’s something I’d like to ask you about.”
__________

Iliad sat with Boisen and Marx, the officer under Iliad and primary strategist, discussing the actions of the Enforcers.

“The Enforcer administration has fled. They haven’t reinstated officers, either.”

“That probably means they don’t have any ulterior motives,” Marx said. “They left their organization weak when they left. Even if they’re going to another military organization, they left their potential allies weak. Furthermore, it would be more foolish of them to come back to us. We probably won’t see them again. Furthermore, we can easily take the reigns of the Enforcers now, which I highly reccomend. We can get troops and their artillery.”

Boisen added, “And their research. They created Nami, and are bound to have notes and related experiments.”

Iliad thought briefly of an army of supersoldiers like Nami fighting against the Hammer. “I’ll leave it to you on taking the Enforcers’ resources, then. Boisen, how is the experiment going with Nami?”

“I haven’t started. Without information on Nami’s data and process structures, which I need the Enforcer blueprints for, I don’t want to attach him to FRACTAL. It’s too risky considering what we’ve invested.”

Iliad nodded. “Athen assures me the demon will not become significantly stronger in this six-month interval. He gave us this time specifically to prepare for our fight. It may be great hubris on his part, but... regardless, with the aid of Russia and it’s technology, we can secure weapons against the demon as well as a foothold for our future push into Europe.”

Iliad rolled his lollipop in his mouth. “Now that I think about it, we should come up with a name for our enemy.” He stood up. “This meeting is dismissed. From now on, its designation is Ramiel.”
__________

Torvald and Athen were speaking privately in a spare room in Section C. “Torvald, I want to know about Synton. Why is she so abnormally powerful, even though she’s so young and undisciplined?”

Torvald scratched the back of his shoulder. “Eh, that’s sudden. Uh, probably... it was probably from my research, to be honest. Something involving the Hellscape. She’s been half in that realm and half in this ever since.”

Athen stared at Torvald. He really didn’t know. Was it possession? Or was she truly so natively proficient?

Did it matter either way? The demon, if there was one, wasn’t hostile, and there needed to be a threat to the Hammer.

He shrugged. “Alright. That was it. I’ll go back, then.”

Ha’el came in before he could leave. “Athen, about earlier. The Second Prince thing...”

Torvald looked at Athen with prying eyes. Athen assented. “I am the Second Prince of the Systemic Confederation. It’s because of serving the Confederation that I am here now. However, I am not here as royalty.”

“You’re royalty of what?”

“The Systemic Confederation. It is a confederation of star systems allied against the Extemos.” Athen lowered his head. “The battle against the Extemos is occuring on a galactic scale. This planet was an unexpected front for an incident, which is why I am here.”

Torvald watched Ha’el and Athen leave to go back to the main room of Section C.
__________

Stilts sat on the roof of a building near downtown Mendelgovi, basking in the afternoon sunlight. He had been wandering around the town, relishing his new sense of self. He could feel the Earth more directly than before.

It was also interesting observing the city. He had taken part in the beginning of a riot, and the town still bore its scars. It was like those incinerated at Pompeii, Stilts thought, drawing on his experience. Those who died did so in an instant, but their memories were burned into the walls. It was the same here: it was life as normal for most, barring the Legion suddenly taking control, but that building over there still had a hole in it. That was was missing a proper door.

Stilts watched the sun slide down to the horizon.

Starting tomorrow, he would be helping Athen, working alongside the prince in the Legion’s Section C research.
__________

Efim stood and ground his fist against the back of his chair, pushing it in. The newest reports from Kairk were distressing.

He walked from the War Room to his quarters in the forward camp. The cold Russian wind struggled around his massive figure. He had repelled the elves from Russian territory, but now, there was a new enemy that threatened his dominance over Eurasia.

The Legion. They were weakened twofold, both by the loss of their base and by battle with powerful demons. They were situated a distance away, but not far enough that Efim could turn his eye.

In two months, the Army of the North would mobilize and move out, to Mendelgovi.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Fri May 13, 2011 4:05 am

Spoiler:
 

One month had passed since the Legion arrived in Mendelgovi.

In preparation for winter, Artis had installed and HVAC system, to Synton’s delight. At this very moment, she crawled through the tubing in one of the military buildings. She was currently in the mess hall.

There was a crash below her and she saw one of her sisters, Michi, standing over a pool of soup before running out of sight and coming back with a broom. Synton kept going, but nothing else was going on so she found her way to the roof. She popped out of the HVAC and looked around, hearing shouting.

In the distance, she saw rows of people in Legion dress, the new soldiers from the Enforcers. The instructor, she could tell from here, was Dagon. Synton couldn’t tell the trainees apart from this distance, so she didn’t know if Tachi was in that group.

Synton started running and jumped to the Research departments. She scurried to the HVAC system and hopped in.

She had landed on Section A, production. When she looked down, she saw Artis sitting at what she suspected (from observation) was the main console for the forge. There was horror written across his face, which transformed to realization. He pushed his seat back and yelled to the rest of the room, “Who made these changes to the software?” Muchi said it was her.

“Good job, Muchi. I hadn’t thought of that optimization. I want to talk to you later, though, about protocol. You need to tell me...”

His voice faded as Synton continued. She became bored again and left, this time jumping over to Section B, traditional research. Again jumping in the HVAC, Synton looked through the grating to see Yuchi talking with Boisen over a diagram. Boisen said something Synton couldn’t hear, and Yuchi crossed her arms over her chest and said, “Of course it would work!”

Section C was next. The main room had Torvald putting runes on a jagged crystal, muttering something to himself about energy storage. More exploring led Synton to the back rooms, one of which had Ichi and Ha’el.

Ichi was explaining how runes worked. “M-most runes use Hellscape power, b-but some use ether.”

“What about the pattern?”

“Except for b-basic runes, the pattern isn’t important. It’s just a residue of the c-caster’s framework, but you d-don’t use magic, so... that’s why it’s important to label them.”

Synton kept moving, and saw Tachi next.

She was in the vent with her, facing her. Tachi raised a finger to her lips and started backing up, turning around a corner backwards. Synton followed to see her disappear in a room below. Synton jumped down, too. “Well, hiya. You’re not in training?”

“Nope, not for this cycle. More importantly...” Tachi walked over to a table and picked up a sketch. It seemed to show a basic circuit with crudely drawn lightning bolts coming out of it. “Look at this!”

“Wow!” Synton gasped. She took the paper and looked at the drawing. “What is it?”

“It’s a weapon! Something Torvald is making! A gun that shoots lightning. Wouldn’t that be cool?!”

Synton nodded. “Totally!” She was interrupted by somebody coming in.

The door opened and Epimor saw them. “Oh, you two were here... Tachi?”

“Yup!” Synton had jumped back up into the vent.

“Oh, you found my drawings. It’s kind of simplistic but I’m thinking of plans for future weaponry we can make. Torvald’s working on the logistics of energy storage. Have you seen any halide crystals in here? Torvald swears he had some.”

Synton edge further along the vent and left to the rooftop again. She looked at Section D.

It was similar to the other Section building, but lonelier. The windows were barred and the lights were off. It didn’t even have air conditioning installed.

Synton jumped, grabbing on to the bars on one of the windows. She looked at the lock on the window and it flicked open. Bending the bars outward, she spun her legs up and pushed the window up with her shoes; then she flipped inside and bent the bars back.

She looked through the pitch-black rooms until she found one with a pair of glowing lights. “Ah, Nami!”

“You again, Synton? Hello.”

“I’m lookin’ around. Have you seen Bryophyta in here?”

“I believe he is in this room. I don’t know where, though.”

A light appeared in the room, summoned by Synton.

“There he is!” She picked the jar containing Bryophyta off of a bookshelf. “Thankie. Ooh. What’s that?”

Synton looked at a metal canister. It was dull red, about three feet high, and about a foot across. The top was glass and domed. Looking into it, Synton saw what appeared to be a brain. FRACTAL was stamped on the outside.

“It is a toy of Boisen,” Nami said. “I advise against playing with it.”

“Kay. Thanks for this,” she said, holding Bryophyta up. “See ya later!”

Nami watched Synton run out before entering hibernation again.
__________

The Protogenoi gathered again. Inside the hall that Gaia inhabited, they adjourned once more.

Gaia, the embodiment of the planet Earth. Thesis, the corpus of life. Erebus, the spirit of death. Ananke, the avatar of fate. Chronos, the body of the passage of time. Khaos, the dark void.

The six of them met and plotted the destruction of humanity.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Fri May 13, 2011 7:22 am

Spoiler:
 


It’s been another month for the Legion forces, and tensions were low. There were still four months left until Ramiel planned to start his fight.

Iliad was in his monthly meeting with his advisors, Lieutenant Marx and head of the research facilities, Boisen. “All right, just to formalize everything. Let’s start with local matters.”

Lieutenant Marx spoke first. “The Enforcer soldiers are now almost completely integrated with our forces. They’re generally mercenaries, and only a fifth of them weren’t entered due to voluntarily leaving or proving themselves insufficient in the training. We’ve also acquired large amounts of artillery guns and heavy vehicles, which Section A has almost finished repairing,” he finished, nodding to Boisen. “All considered, we have a fully trained fighting force of nearly two thousand, supplemented with fifty tanks and various artillery. That concludes my portion.”

Iliad looked at the Lieutenant. He was fulfilling a role far above his rank. He would definitely get a metal when he returned to Mars.

“How prepared do you think we are for Ramiel?”

“That’s been troubling me. In the battle at our flagship, he sustained massive damage from the alien and our wizard, but appeared completely unhindered. Because he fights in close combat, we can’t use explosives or artillery unless we bait him with unmanned units. Of course, then those would have to be resilient enough to hold his attention. Alternatively, we can equip our soldiers with heavy or special ammunition.”

Iliad nodded. “I’d like to talk to you about that later. For now, what has the R&D department been up to?”

Boisen began, “Let’s see. Section A is continually producing arms and ammunition in addition to repairing the Enforcer equipment. In Section B we’re close to developing a zero-point energy field manipulator. If successful, we would be able to literally stop projectiles in mid-air. If I could discuss with you later, Lieutenant, the types of ammunition you would find useful, I can start production in Section A. Section C has finished a provisional model of a gun that can be mass-produced, although it would require large amounts of granite.

“In Section D, I temporarily lobotomized the Enforcer cyborg and ran a dual analysis with it against FRACTAL. I calculated FRACTAL’s processing speed to be analogous to about five teraHertz of computing power for subjective problems, though it drops to seventy-three gigaHertz for objective problems. Since it’s the only model we have, I’m hesitant to use it, especially considering our current supplies are more than adequate.”

Iliad nodded. “I’ll count it as available if it’s ever needed, then. Boisen, you can leave if you want. Onto foreign relations.” Boisen nodded but stayed seated.

Lietenant Marx began, “Cursory scans of Europe show no signs of a major unified government. Most likely, if we invade, we’ll just be unifying a small number of organizations. Resistance will probably similar to the Enforcers, and unorganized.

“More importantly, the Russian government has not responded to our attempts to make contact. Images from orbit three months ago suggest a highly military government or even a military oligarchy. The fact that they’re ignoring us probably means they’re hostile.”

Boisen asked, “Maybe they don’t understand us? Or maybe they’re not scanning the frequencies we’re broadcasting on?”

“We’ve covered both options, and for an organization of this size, having poor that poor surveillance is unthinkable. Even if they didn’t understand any dialects we used, they would notice our repetitive broadcasts and respond or acknowledge. We’ve received nothing.”

Iliad asked, “In that case, would you suggest an invasion?”

Marx nodded. “We can be ready for a mobilization in one week, or one month for complete mobilization. Given that we don’t know Russia’s capabilities, I would prefer one month.”

Iliad thought for a moment before biting down. There was a crack and the taste of butterscotch filled his mouth. “Then I’ll leave the preparations to you. We leave in one month.”
__________

It had been nearly three months since Efim had removed the Elves from his territory.

He entered his command tent, the smell of tobacco assaulting him. His lead officer, Kilf, nodded to him. “They’re ready for you, Czar.” He stepped away from the primary table to reveal a microphone and transmitter.

Efim seated himself in his chair, the chair groaning. He pulled the microphone to his mouth and activated it.

“Comrades.

“For twenty years we have commanded and protected our homeland from invaders and anarchy. Now another intruder has appeared.

“The Martian Legion has demonstrated the audacity to return to our Earth and attempt to reclaim it as its own. The cowards are like vultures, waiting for their prey to collapse before swooping down to destroy it.

“They will not be allowed to steal our homeland from underneath our noses!

“We will march to the east and destroy the Legion! We will grind them beneath our heels and reclaim our land. We will lay waste to their institutions and their achievements. The cowards will be awarded no quarter.

“We are a weapon for Russia. We are pointed, our sights trained. Our magazine is fully loaded; the slide is pulled and the safety is removed. Tomorrow, I pull the trigger and we destroy the Legion!”

Efim turned off the microphone and stood up suddenly, overtaken with emotion. The chair clattered to the floor and Efim strode out of the tent, heavy footfalls marking his movements.

The Legion. More prey will make his Army stronger.
__________

Gaia bowed her head. “It is coming to war, then. Kyklos, it is time to finalize our plans.”


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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Fri May 13, 2011 11:10 am

Spoiler:
 

Boisen opened the doors to Sector D and turned on the lights. He walked to the room where Nami was. He had finally been approved by Marx for introduction into the military. Well, Boisen thought, That’s do be expected since Dagon was demoted. There’s no room for nontraditional units. He woke Nami up and was taking him when he noticed.

FRACTAL was gone.
__________

Gaia nodded to the five primordial spirits with her, standing before the Stein Gate, a single massive quartz slab with a symmetric rune infused on its surface.

There was Khaos, a deceptively androgynous spirit. Its appearance seemed illusionary, distorted and constantly changing.

There was Erebus, a tall, thin man wearing a black cloak.

Ananke stood delicately beside him, wearing a finely woven gold dress.

Chronos stood patiently next to her, hands behind his back.

Thesis stood behind the other three, her thin metal armor reflecting the blue runes on the walls.

Next to them stood FRACTAL along with relics gathered by Gaia’s other agents, already assembled and prepared

“Keeper?” Gaia said, and the Librarian floated down to them.

“Are you ready?” it asked, and Gaia nodded. The Librarian floated into the arrangement and its glow intensified.

Chronos created a field around the Culmination and increased the speed at which time passed for it. Its color shifted blue before turning a blank white. Soon, the symbol on the Gate lit up.

“Soon,” Gaia said, “Everything will end.”
__________

Athen and Torvald were discussing the newest addition for a subsystem of the weapon Torvald was developing. Athen was proposing an idea to make it more stable. “If you include this rune to drain heat, the energy will build up asymptotically to a particular temperature and energy. You can vary it so it doesn’t get too hot. In fact, if you work out the variable – ”

Athen stopped abruptly. He felt something. The Gate opened. What could that mean?

Torvald looked up when Athen stopped. “Athen?”

What was it? If the current theory was correct...

Athen’s eyes widened and he walked over to Stilts. He grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him against the wall.

Stilts squirmed in discomfort as Athen stared at his face. “What is Gaia doing?”
__________

Lieutenant Marx burst into Iliad’s office and blurted out a status report. “Iliad. We have the Russian army incoming. They’re close. I’m deploying our forces in an abandoned city so they don’t reach Mendelgovi.” He composed himself. “When you’re ready, we’re in the War Room. We’ll soon move to a forward camp.”

Iliad stood and nodded, drawing a blue lollipop.
__________

Athen dropped Stilts to the ground angrily. “As I thought. She’s going to hand us to the Extemos. Torvald, Epimor, Hanson, come with me. The Earth’s primordial spirits will be protecting her.

“Stilts. You used to be her agent but you’re free now. What do you want to do?”

Stilts sat against the wall, staring at a point on the ground. “I don’t...”

Athen nodded. Alarms sprang to life around the base. “If you decide to fight us, I won’t show mercy. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Boisen burst into Section C. “Torvald, there’s an army on their way here. We need you on the front lines.”

“No,” Athen said, as his voice was layered with suggestive overtones, “He’s coming with me. Give me a transport.”
__________

Dagon settled into his perch, ten stories up, and leaned his sniper rifle against the wall. His enhanced vision and mechanically precise muscles helped his abilities significantly. He waited for the Russians or an order from the commanding Lieutenant.
__________

Athen led the wizards through the forest.

“The elves aren’t here,” Athen noted. “That’s good. They probably think nobody would know what Gaia is doing.”

They reached the former Monastery and made their way into the Library.

Ananke spun around. “They’re here,” she said. She walked over to the wall, next to Chronos, who was sitting down and panting heavily. “I’m telling you not to, but...”

The other three faced Athen. “Sorry,” Athen said, “But I don’t have time for introductions. Will you let us pass?”

Khaos stepped forwards. “I am sorry, Legion soldier. This is a local affair. You shouldn’t become involved.”

“That’s how it is, then?”
__________

Dagon averted his gaze as the Legion’s artillery landed among the Russian ranks. The Russians ran towards the town, and Dagon fired as quickly and accurately as possible, dropping ten before he started being targeted. He reloaded, switching to another window as he saw the Russian artillery fire. He was reporting their activity when he was interrupted by the building shaking.

They found me, he thought, trying to get up, and it shook more before collapsing. The floor listed to the side before breaking open and spilling into open space.

Although disoriented, Dagon knew he had taken damage. He could feel the nanobots knitting his flesh together. He stared drunkenly at the open air.

He couldn’t take action. He was too tired. His limbs felt heavy.

The nanobots aren’t enough, he thought, as the world grew dark.
__________

Erebus, the god of death, waved a hand. Hanson’s eyes became distant and he fell. Khaos and Thesis ran towards the other three. Torvald, just realizing what happened, raised his hand and loosed a wall of force at them.

Khaos blinked, and the wall weakened and disappeared. Thesis, god of creation, pointed at Torvald and summoned iron rods that pierced his chest. Torvald fell to his knees, gingerly touching the poles.

Athen ignited a pair of blades on his wrists, wings blossoming behind him. He charged at Erebus, who waved his hand again, but Athen was not affected. He swung, decapitating the god.

Epimor removed his right glove, revealing his softly glowing hand. It was stifled in the Library’s blue aura, but still noticeable.

This hand of mine glows with an awesome – aaugh!”

Epimor's right hand combusted in a dark purple flame: Khaos has control over the rune Epimor had made. Khaos smiled as he watched turned to Athen only to receive a sword in his gut.

Khaos flicked his wrist and Athen’s arm snapped. Athen wedged his other sword into Khaos’ neck. Despite his victory, Epimor couldn't stop the flame and was consumed by it.

He turned to Thesis, the last god remaining. She created a titanium wall to protect herself, but Athen cut through it. She made more rods, this time titanium, the same way she killed Torvald. Athen ignored them and cut her down.

Athen leaned against the wall, smearing blood against the blue runes. There was still Ananke and Chronos.

Chronos stood. “It’s about time to end this.”

Athen couldn’t win. Chronos slowed his perception of time such that he couldn’t possibly react to anything he did – and, in a flash, it was over.
__________

Nami loped through the battlefield on all fours. The enemy commander was on the front lines, and he was to be assassinated.

Nami attracted gunfire, but he blocked it easily with his barriers. There was the commander! Nami’s facial recognition software registered a match.

He was a bear of a man, rival to Nami himself in terms of sheer size. Nami tackled him.

He failed. Efim dodged, sending Nami into the side of Efim’s tank. Nami didn’t have time to recover before Efim began raining blows on him, blows that, with his metal knuckles and ridiculous strength, dented Nami’s armor and bruised his flesh.

Nami tried to wrestle Efim with his right hand, but he couldn’t; his muscles were too large. Efim’s subordinates couldn’t fire in these close quarters.

Nami managed to flip on top of Efim, but the damage was already done. His left arm was useless, its bones broken. Efim gritted his teeth as he kicked Nami off of him and away and everybody opened fire.

Unable to protect himself in his weakened state, Nami shut down.

Stilts rushed into the Library. Thesis, Khaos, and Erebus were dead. Torvald, Hanson, and Epimor were dead. Athen was falling backwards and Chronos was walking to him, holding a dagger. “Hello, Stilts. You are late, and not needed.” He raised the dagger against Athen. “I was just finishing.”

He brought the dagger down, but Stilts caught his arm. “Stilts! What are you doing?!”

Stilts only pushed him back and grabbed his chain. “I’m going to talk to Gaia myself.” Stilts saw Athen stumble up out of the corner of his eye. “Athen, enter the Gate. I’ll take care of Chronos.”

Athen took a few steps and touched the gate before disappearing while Stilts attacked Chronos.

Chronos slowed Stilts’ reflexes but they were already too fast. Chronos had no choice as he was disarmed and tied by Stilts.
__________

Athen entered the Gate and passed through. The result was the Hellscape’s counterpart: Heaven.

He had no wounds here; his body wasn’t physically transported.

He was surprised. Every other Heaven he had visited was overwhelming for him to exist in, but this... this was fine. Simply bare.

He was physically standing on a stone slab with nondescript stone pillars jutting out from it. The slab itself was suspended – no, not suspended. It existed in empty space, ending with a pale white and infinity.

Standing at the end of the slab was Gaia. “Are you going to kill me, too?” She asked.

“I can’t kill you. Not here, and you know it. Why do you want to achieve Intrumentality?”

“This space,” Gaia began, “Is our God. See how it is empty? From here to infinity – all is invested in the humans below. Although now an empty shell, He still exists and watches. Below us, there is the human world...” below them, a huge distance away, there was a lens that showed scenes from Earth. Explosions. Gunfire. Death.

“...and above us is space. May You show us what is in the dark void?” Another circle, above them this time, was filled with darkness and stars. Athen craned his neck to see.

The image flickered between different areas of the night sky before settling on yet another patch of stars. “Do you see what is in those stars, Confederate Prince?”

As if in answer, a number of shapes were illuminated. Athen’s mouth opened. The Extemos?! An entire fleet of Extemos, sent to an unguarded human planet.

No, Athen thought, this wasn’t the first time. Not for Earth.

“The aliens are returning, Prince. There are nine months of time between now and when they arrive. In order to defeat them, I proposed Instrumentality to strengthen our God. His power is split between billions of humans, and humans will fight each other instead of the Extemos. If we begin Instrumentality, God can be revived to fight against them. Not even the Hellscape demon will be able to stand against Him without being smote in an instant.”

“Look, Prince. It is beginning.”
__________

“We’ve won,” Lieutenant Marx said. “However, we were overcome by their artillery. Without having warning, we suffered massive losses. But we will win at this rate. It will be a pyrrhic victory, but we have three months to rebuild before Ramiel returns.”

Iliad nodded, sweat forming on his face. “And Efim?”

“He’s still alive. The cyborg failed.”

There was a pause. “I’m going out.”

“I’m sure you know the implications, Commander. Please try not to die,” Marx warned, and dissolved into blood.

Iliad watched his bloodsoaked suit on the ground before he, too, dissolved into blood.

Across the battlefield, as though the Grim Reaper himself was shearing life off of the planet, every living thing ceased to be alive and returned to the essence of life. The destruction swept smoothly and cleanly across the world, spreading from the Stein Gate.

Humanity was being cleanly removed.


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PostSubject: Re: Alternate Universe   Fri May 13, 2011 3:38 pm

Spoiler:
 

Every person, every being on Earth was combined into One.

Each being understood completely where the others stood. It was almost a perfect unification. It was like finding a sea of happiness and slowly slipping into it.

After that, it ended.
__________

Athen stood in the Earth’s Heaven. Slowly, the empty chamber was filling with blood. The lens at the bottom of the void was flicking frenetically from image to image, everything tinted with red.

Athen clenched his fists.

“This is wrong, though.”

Gaia turned around.

“Yes, humans will disagree – but it’s the ability for them to cooperate that makes them powerful. That’s why God divided his power among them in the first place.”

Gaia ignored his argument. “You won’t sway my opinion.”

“I’m not talking to you!” Athen shouted. “God of Man, Uranus! Don’t allow this to continue! If you do, the Extemos will kill you like they do any other Gods they find undefended. Only by existing as humanity can you survive. You can beat them. You can help the Legion beat them.”

Stilts’ voice rang out. “Is that true, Athen?”

Athen answered, “That’s why I’m here. This planet holds the secret for a definitive victory against the Extemos. There is the potential for theogenesis – but only if you don’t die now.”

There was a pregnant moment. Gaia collapsed. “I see... Uranus has betrayed me.”

“No, Gaia. It was you who betrayed Him. You got Him to go against what He wanted to do, and now He realizes.”

Gaia’s form seemed to shimmer. “Is that so? I guess it is.” She stood up, even as her existence wavered. “With the death of so many primordial spirits, and your proximity, Kyklos, you may be my successor. Your name truly is fitting.”

Suddenly, Heaven was filled with a deafening roar. Athen smiled. Gaia started to say something else before the stone they stood upon split in half. As he spun through the air, Athen realized there was no more blood at the base of Heaven.
__________

Athen stepped out of the Stein Gate, followed by Athen. Torvald, Hanson and Epimor all stood proudly, applauding.

“Congratulations,” Epimor said.

“Congratulations,” Hanson said.

“Congratulations,” Torvald said.

From behind them, Ananke said, “That was more dramatic than I was expecting. Good job.”

Stilts said, “What was that just now? Did Gaia die?”

Ananke raised a hand to her chin thoughtfully. “Saying she died is a bit too human. It should be that Gaia changed.” She pointed at Stilts. “You would have her role now. Though ‘Gaia’ is a bit feminine...”

“So what about the gods?” Athen said. “Are they all replaced?”

“Some are, some aren’t. Some of the other gods weren’t ... continued ... when their latest forms expired. Well, there’s certain to be new gods of Chaos, Time and Death.”

Torvald stepped up. “Excuse my ignorance, but... what are you?”

Ananke smiled a charming smile. “My name is Ananke. I am the goddess of fate and necessity. I would ask your names, but ... I already know. Considering this significant change, I may just follow you.”

Epimor smiled an intoxicated smile. “It would be poetic to have a goddess of fate as our ally.”

“In any case,” Athen said, “You’re welcome to come with us, but now we need to go to Mendelgovi. The Legion and the Russian army should be having a battle now.”

Ananke smiled a manipulative, if generous, smile.
__________

Dagon suddenly awoke with a start. He was still alive? He was uninjured?

He grabbed at his helmet. There was yelling in his ear to continue the assault; reinforcements were arriving. Hiding amidst the rubble, Dagon looked out. He saw the enemy commander, a bull.

Dagon replaced his clip and sighted the commander. No matter how many shots it took, this could be the deciding moment for Earth.
__________

Marx shouted into his transmitter, his shock growing with each report his received.

It was unreal. It couldn't be real.

He had ten reported casualties.

Rather, he had one thousand, nine hundred and ninety reported survivors without serious wounds, and the Russian army was soundly defeated. What god was his army blessed by?
__________

Synton sat up quickly – too quickly. She hit her head on the top of the ventilation shaft, with an echoing bang resounding through the building.

She was in Sector C. That thing that happened just now... she briefly remembered understanding everything, about everybody.

“Ha’el!” Synton shouted, moving loudly down the tubing. She left the first grate she found, not bothering to replace it, letting it fall to the ground. “Ha’el!!!”

Synton found him just standing up and tackled him in a hug, knocking him back to the ground. “You’re so cute!!”
__________

The Hammer stirred in an empty dilapidated building, three months of accumulated dust floating off of his armor. God of death? God of chaos?

He stood and began walking, gaining speed, stirring up dust and debri in his wake. God of darkness. God of destruction. God of the abyss! God of the void! He swung his hammer triumphantly, destroying a wall.

YES! The building groaned and collapsed around him, revealing the blood-red evening sky. I like it!
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