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Harbor Patrol

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"Several," Scaleback says,

"Several," Scaleback says, crossing her arms as she looks down towards the building, "The guy who did all this went into the building and then vanishes - either in a secret room I couldn't find, or magicking up a portal. I figure you all would be better equipped to know which; I'm a fighter, not an investigator."

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Stingray is startled by

Stingray is startled by another flair in his magnetic sense, much closer than before.

The purple robed figure turned a corner. "They are using dimensional magic to hide in an alternate reality" he said matter-of-fact. "I could dispell it, but the perimeter guard would be numerous" he went on, taking off his hood to reveal a glowing third eye.


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Stingray looked the purple

Stingray looked the purple-clad wizard over, and held himself in a stance that was more ready for action than it would look to most who had not studied martial arts. "How numerous? And might we know your name?"

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"Red-bloods call me

"Red-bloods call me 'Mentalian'" he said looking towards Stingray, his third eye remaining on the warehouse. "I'm presuming there are at most a couple dozen, but it may be that they're overconfident in their stolen defenses and have left minimal perimeter"

"You will, however, likely catch them off-guard. They're unlikely to expect having their entire fort reverted to this reality" Mentalian continues, beginning to motion his arms for the dispell. "I'll have you know that I would've rather used our Servi to besiege the place and retrieve our relic, but without it we would have had to stage elsewhere....and that would arouse suspicion"


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"Relic? Servi?" Gayle

"Relic? Servi?" Gayle wondered aloud. "Check hero database 'Mentalian,'" she asked her headband electronics. She hadn't heard of Mentalian, but then she hadn't heard of a lot of metahumans, and more were appearing every day.

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"We refer to our lesser

"We refer to our lesser forces as Servi, but you would probably call them 'zombies' or 'undead'" Mentalian responded as Nordic runes filled the space in front of him. Even after over 200 years of practice, Mentalian is still unaccustomed to formal spells, generally relying on his psionics or telekinesis. He had only a few spells committed to memory.

As the blue circle closed and the runes fell into place, he announced "the dispell is in place! they can be revealed on your mark". He held his palms out, one up one down, ready to flip the realities.


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Whipcrack watched the caster

Whipcrack watched the caster patiently. He'd never really bought into the existence of magic, persay, preferring instead to believe it was just a weird way that some accessed their metahuman powers. But he wasn't about to stop any practicioners, either. "Go for it, dude."

As Mentalian flipped both hands, energy shot out, bridging between him and the parking lot of the warehouse. A portion of the asphalt lot glowed and crackled, revealing and then breaking the simple perception barrier that had been created to hide the ramps that led to the base under the warehouse.

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"Hmmm, I was wrong about the

"Hmmm, I was wrong about the perimeter" the mage remarked. He began to stride down the ramp, maintaining a telekinetic barrier about him. The others followed a distance behind.

As he neared the bottom, two moderately armored guards opened fire, the bullets deflecting off the barrier. Mentalian pulled his hand in, and the pins released from their grenades. He then shoved two pins into the eyes of the guards. They doubled over in pain. The telekinetic continued marching toward them, waiting for the grenades to explode. They didn't, so he had them fire upon each other, and they were dispatched.


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As Mentalian dealt with the

As Mentalian dealt with the first two guards, Stingray rushed down the ramp past them, scouting ahead...

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After Whipcrack trussed up

After Whipcrack trussed up the injured guards, he swung over to Mentalian. He pulled the mage aside. "You're getting awfully close to lethal enforcement and I'd rather you didn't. I'm already dealing with that from one other here, possibly two." he said while looking quickly at Unknown, then Scaleback. Once he'd said his piece, he swung on down the tunnel to scout and back up Stingray.

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Gayle frowned and muttered to

Gayle frowned and muttered to herself, "Why am I getting bad vibes from this guy? And why is he showing up now, oh-so-conveniently?"

As she bubbled the team again, Mentalian turned the guards on each other. "Whoa! That's a trick!"

She followed down the ramp, keeping up the obscuring mist and stopping to check the conditions of the fallen guards. She quickly pulled out trauma patches and tagged them for medical transport with the red TCPD capture tags.

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"The infection needs to be

"The infection needs to be removed" Whipcrack thought...then startled. Most telepaths were respectful enough not to intrude other's minds. "Our relic was stolen. Any redblood in the way will be dealt with as I see fit" the thought continued. "I might add, they shot first with force quite lethal"

Once he'd made his intent clear, he shadowed the others. He could not yet sense the relic.


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Whipcrack bristled at

Whipcrack bristled at Mentalian's intrusion and his subconscious mind responded to the threat by manifesting his psionic armor. This immediately cut off Mentalian's connection to his mind, so that Whipcrack only heard the part about removal of the infection. He swung around and shot back down the tunnel, precisely landing only inches in front of Mentalian. The fury was evident on his face and his narrowed eyes glowed beneath the armor. "Don’t. Do. That. Again."

Putting yourself in another persons shoes emotionally is something that everyone has to experience eventually. It's part of learning to be a human being. Roleplayers do it for fun.

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Unknown looked on then nods

Unknown looked on then nods to Gale Force. “Timing is off however he is correct Infection needs to be terminated so it doesn’t infect the city.” Unknown heads down the ramp producing his crystal blades.

“Being I’m not of carbon based life illnesses does not harm me. I should take point.”

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"I am aware of your presence"

"I am aware of your presence" Gale thought, then shook her head. "I'd be a hypocrite if I told you not to hide in the shadows, but I expect much resistance ahead"

Mentalian considered another telekinetic barrier, but decided the extraterrestrial wouldn't require it.


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Stingray noted Whipcrack's

Stingray noted Whipcrack's reaction, and recast his own mental defenses before extending his senses ahead.

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Gayle bristled, and then

Gayle bristled, and then laughed. "The mist isn't to hide from you, creepy dude! Of course you can see me!"

Mentally, she added, "And if you know what we are facing, clue us in. I always seem to end up facing mind-controlling assholes, and I'd just as soon prepare myself for it ahead of time."

She followed after the Unknown, the mist continuing to obscure them from physical view.

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Mentalian looked Whipcrack in

Mentalian looked Whipcrack in the eye, his third eye glowed against his pitch black skin. Whipcrack's armor flickered for a moment. "Impressive" the clairvoyant said "your armor is fairly strong against even Necrobian mentalism." Mentalian dissolved into shadows and remanifested on the other side of Whipcrack, following Stingray at a distance.

The group arrived on a large blast door. Unknown could sense a number of signatures inside, many with a more technological aura.


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“There is many traces behind

“There is many traces behind these doors.” He puts his hand on the door. “Radiation consistent of technology and biology. It appears we found the villains nest. Or at least a staging area.”

Unknown mind had no protection from mind reading or even influence from psych attacks. But the thoughts read have an unnerving quality, an echo effect as if hundreds of voices speaking at once.

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Scaleback has been quietly

Scaleback has been quietly following along. When her mind is touched, it's sharp with anger, like you need to carefully grasp a blade. She doesn't speak over it, just focusing on the task at hand instead.

"Give me a moment to pull these open," Scaleback says, and puts her hand onto the door, her claws digging into the seam, "these are usually designed with things like explosives in mind. They aren't designed to keep people from manually opening them," She takes a deep breath, and after a moment, the way a martial artist might push their muscles to do the extraordinary, the massive woman is straining to pull apart the blast door at the seam. One thing the collected supers may notice is that she's not as strong as most people with super strength - one of them might have just tried to punch the barrier down. Instead, she's trying to brute-force open it and, from the squealing of metal, succeeding. it'll only be a few minutes before the group can get in.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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A nearby guard is alerted by

A nearby guard is alerted by the squealing metal, and pulls his sidearm. He lines up the shot directly at the occupied Scaleback...before suddenly stopping for a moment.

He puts the muzzle below his jaw, then struggles for a moment, finger resisting the trigger.


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A crack was all Unknown

A crack was all Unknown needed. Once the guard was spotted the semi liquid being flowed through the crack and smothered the guard gun included.

Of course suffocation takes a long time. Applying force to the veins on the side of the throat cutting off blood to the brain and causing the target to pass out was much faster.

Rising up from the unconscious guard he looks about to see if it was clear, and for the means to get the door fully open if Scaleback couldn’t.

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Stingray stepped up under

Stingray stepped up under Scaleback after Unknown flowed through. He shifted his musculature to aid the larger titan, nearly doubling the force on the door.

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Whipcrack ran through the

Whipcrack ran through the opening next, brushing past Mentalian, who teleported past the door. "I can hold it open while you pass through, unless you'd rather force it completely open, as to not trap anyone in." Mentalian's third eye glanced Gayle "...or prevent any backup"


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Once the door is open to the

Once the door is open to the point where Scaleback can get through, she leans against the door, and forces one side open the rest of the way. The sound of the metal within clearly doesn't appreciate it, and that was clearly a huge strain for Scaleback. All the same, one side of the blast door now appears to be permanently stuck open.

She steps through, "We need an escape route, and this is as good as any. No reinforcements they have will be enough to stop this team from getting back to the surface." Her breathing is heavy, but levels out; despite the strain, she clearly wants to see this to the end.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Whipcrack swung upwards to

Whipcrack swung upwards to the vaulted ceiling, taking up a position where he could view the entire open space. He alsi took a moment to slow his breathing, trying to calm his temper. Since the beginning of his hero career, he and his former partner had always tried their hardest to avoid lethal enforcement. He knew that vigilante types would kill if necessary, while others actively practiced it.

But Mentalian and Unknown seemed almost blase about it and Whipcrack didn't know how to respond to that sort of attitude. Throw in the mentalist's repeated invasions of people's minds and it all seemed like it was building to a head. As he swung towards the next fight, Whipcrack found himself hoping things wouldn't blow up in their faces.

Putting yourself in another persons shoes emotionally is something that everyone has to experience eventually. It's part of learning to be a human being. Roleplayers do it for fun.

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The group neared a corner,

The group neared a corner, and the biological and technological signatures grew stronger and more numerous. Mentalian knew the relic neared but was increasingly disturbed he could not track it yet. He'll have to play nice a bit longer.

"There are many ahead. Do we have a plan of attack?" he said aloud "especially since some of us have...preferences...."


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"I'll go ahead and soak up

"I'll go ahead and soak up fire," Scaleback says, breathing out as she gets some of her wind back, "you guys move in behind me while I distract them and take a few out. Don't kill if you can avoid it, but don't hold off if it's you or them."

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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“More that don’t kill.

“More that don’t kill. Inefficient but I will comply. My targets will be range weapon users. Damage from bullets mean little to me.” The blades shift to batons.

Unknown thoughts ran basically that there was too many allies that will become hostile if he killed needlessly.

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"I will defend myself or my

"I will defend myself or my kind as I see fit" Mentalian insisted, "So the reptile is resilient enough to last what is ahead? Then the rest flank or evade?" Mentalian considered stoking their more sadistic urges, but decided against further intrusion. Two have already put up active defenses.


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Whipcrack posted himself on

Whipcrack posted himself on the nearest wall. "I'll orbit the battle and root the baddies out of cover when they try to run for it. Of course, I imagine I'll also be busy keeping Mentalian's victims breathing..." he said, that last bit coming out just as accusatorily as it sounded.

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Scaleback snaps her fingers

Scaleback snaps her fingers at Whipcrack, though with how massive her hands are, it comes out as a 'thwap' sound rather than a 'snap', "Don't snipe at the people you're working with. You've got grievances; you're a fancy pants hero, and I get that, but now's not the time for misplaced pride," Then she turns to Mentalian and Unknown, "You two don't engage Whipcrack either, because now isn't the time. While we're in there, don't kill if you can avoid it, because the more testimonies we can bring in to the cops, the more of the slave ring we can pull in, which might be less efficient during the fight itself, but it's more important than that. If we don't cut out the whole group they'll just start up somewhere else. You people want to hash it out, fine, just wait until we're not in a lair. For now, get your heads together and stay focused on the task at hand."

Scaleback' voice is rough, deep, and fills the room almost as well as her body. Frustration doesn't come across in her tone, strangely enough. It's a calm sort of confidence, the sort of person that doesn't brook any nay-saying with their statements. Those present may get the sense that it's less because she's a natural leader, and more because she actually is focused on the task at hand, and wants to make sure the rest of the group is too.

For now, she pulls a panel off the wall, and moving on the same momentum as her earlier statements, she moves onto something else, so they don't have an opportunity to argue with her, "Everybody know what they're going to be doing?" She looks for any negatives among those listening, and likely finds none. Even if she does, she moves on anyways, "Good. Now get behind me so I soak up the opening volley."

And with that, the moment the group is in position behind her, she'll raise her arms in a boxing stance and start moving down the hall at a steady jog, looking for whomever they'll be getting into a fight with next.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Stingray fell in behind

Stingray fell in behind Scaleback, ready to spring out and attack anyone who attacked her. Anyone who managed to slip past his mental defenses might read in his mind, esta mujer es formidable!

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“I already am restricting

“I already am restricting myself to non-lethal attacks. Laws are irrelevant such is beyond ones understanding. I follow instinct of protection of territory. These foes threaten territory so instinctively I fight to eliminate the corruption of territory.”

Unknown looks at Whipcrack “I keep from following instinct because friend request it. My daughter keeps insisting one should respect friends”.

Any mind reader might be very confused with the thoughts of Unknown at that moment. There was that very cold emotionless echoing alien thoughts, but there was for a brief moment a human voice in the echo.

Then it was gone the alien territorial mind was focused on the task. Unknown was just a few steps behind Scaleback preparing to fight.

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Gayle mentally shrugged and

Gayle mentally shrugged and followed through the opened door. The air here was no more oppressive than anywhere else. She wrapped the others in air cushions for protection. If she were investigating alone, she would just poke about invisibly, but she watched for cues from the ones who had been following the traffickers from the beginning.

She kept her phantom army about her.

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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Mentalian walked near the

Mentalian walked near the cloaked Gayle, using telekinesis to refuse the air cushion.

He looked to Whipcrack, third eye kept on Gayle, "if they impede me you needn't waste your time on triage."

"My objective is the relic, not the slaves, I... trust that you will succeed in their release" he said to Scaleback just before she charged.


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Gayle prepped her "godkiller"

Gayle prepped her "godkiller" hamsterball for the "just in case" need. She didn't activate it, but flexed her muscles to make it ready. Force was force and, since she didn't know what they were really facing, she wanted to be prepared. Likewise, she ignored Mentalian's attempt to intimidate her. She had dealt with far worse than him before. Metas who got off on being dark and mysterious with no social skills just irritated her, and he had all the signs of the bad guy disease.

She kept pace with Scaleback, floating forward and watching for cameras, sensors, and bad guys to stop. Somewhere up ahead, they still had a bunch of trafficking prisoners, too. Those people were her first priority.

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Whipcrack started at

Whipcrack started at Scaleback's tongue-lashing, but then stopped to think and nodded. "You're right. My feelings won't get in the way. Let's do this."

He swung into battle alongside Gayle, then swept wide to begin intercepting any strays or outliers.

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Scaleback is the first around

Scaleback is the first around the corner, arms raised in a boxing stance to protect her chest and face, and charging in low. Of course "low" for a nine foot tall monster woman is still taller than most fully grown men, but it at least makes her more aerodynamic. If there's any cover (like one might use in a firefight) she'll bowl right through it, if it's not made of something like concrete, and proceed to punch whoever is on the other side hard enough to lay out most adults. She does all this at a full run, clearly using blitz tactics and expecting the group of supers behind her to clean up targets in her wake.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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As the others turned the

As the others turned the corner, the operatives on the sides spared by scaleback's charge tried to cover their rear flank and surround the reptile.

Mentalian was striding along the left side and he sees the operatives attempt suppressing fire . His third eye flares purple light into the room and he pulls the rifles out of their arms. Then forces pairs of operatives to hug.

"There. Is that more your liking?" He said sarcastically to Whipcrack.


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"Heh, love-fest!" called out

"Heh, love-fest!" called out Gayle. "Haven't seen that for a while!"

She gathered up the hugging pairs and spun them in miniature tornadoes, letting the wind tumble and disorient them randomly. After checking to see if Scaleback needed her shield refreshed, she turned her attention to the right side and prepared to follow up there, as well.

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On the right, Stingray moved

On the right, Stingray moved in, striking each guard as he came to them with an electrically charged fist, pausing to pull weapons from spasming hands and sending them sliding back along the floor towards the entryway.

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To Scaleback left Unknown

To Scaleback left Unknown went to work. His batons swinging with brutal savage strikes. His targets were the ones trying to get range for the guns.

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As the pairs of operatives

As the pairs of operatives hugged, Whipcrack would swing in and simply clock one of them on the back of the head, driving his forehead into the other ones. "Now they're using their heads!"

Once they were stunned, Whipcrack bound their arms while still wrapped around one another, making sure to encase their hands so they couldn't grab anything off each others tac vests. After the first pair, he looked over at Mentalian. "Yes, thank you." he said, his tone sincere.

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Mentalian chuckled,

Mentalian chuckled, unbecomingly, "you moralists...making me be creative." He stepped over the squirming guards. "Maybe my methods are too simple for you" he mused as he advanced into the quickly clearing room.


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As the heroes swept through

As the heroes swept through the main floor of the hideout, the guards mounted a fierce defense. But the battle was pretty much unwinnable. Unable to stop or even slow the charging crocodilian, the defenders chose to focus on the other heroes. But with Gayle's air shields in addition to their own defensive abilities, the guards had no luck with Plan B either.

Once it was obvious they were in for a rout, the guards began a staggered fallback towards the leaders sanctum, choosing to fight the final battle in the hallway between the two rooms.

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Mentalian teleported behind

Mentalian teleported behind the line of last stand. He eyed over the guards, probing each to see which stood the most threat and had the least willpower. Two of the heaviest guards had massive machine guns. Mentalian jumped onto one, placing his hands on each side of the guard's helmet. His third eye shone red. The guard turned his gun on the other machine gunner and opened fire while Mentalian retreated to their rear flank, placing a barrier in front of him and trapping the guards between two fronts of supers.

As he neared the room at the end of the hall, he began to sense his goal.


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With the distraction afforded

With the distraction afforded by Mentalian, Scaleback's charge will likely go unhindered as she collides with the line of men, her powerful arms swinging rapidly to clothesline them.

Of course, opening fire with a heavy machine gun likely killed a number of the men - armor isn't thick enough to take emplacement weapons like that at point blank range, so Scaleback is mostly just cleaning up those the mind-controlled gunner doesn't mow down.

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"Jesus fuck! That guy is a

"Jesus fuck! That guy is a menace!" Gayle complained about Mentalian's newest trick. She made sure that her gear was recording his actions, as well as those of the as-yet unidentified criminal group. "I can do the same thing without lethal intent."

She bent the air around the machine gunner with a mirage, putting his targets a good thirty degrees off where they really were. Then, she began locking down the most dangerous remaining threats with a massed set of whirlwinds. She strengthened and maintained the grip of the winds on each of the combatants in turn, keeping her phantom army about her for extra cover. Only when she had done that did she turn her attention back to keeping the air shields up.

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As the heavy machine gunner

As the heavy machine gunner turned on his former ally and opened fire with his man-portable M2, the expected effect of not doing much damage came about. The same could not be said for the other soldiers behind the barriers as the enormous .50 caliber rounds began ricocheting off the gunner's heavy plate. They carved into the rest of the crowded guards, tearing off limbs and blowing huge holes in torsos. In a matter of seconds, the gauntlet had been dealt with. The only guards that were saved were the ones knocked over by Scaleback's charge and a few protected accidentally by Gayle's whirlwinds.

The gunner shook off Mentalian's control and dropped his weapon from numb hands, which then flew up to push off his helmet. He looked around, shaking and weeping. Before any of the heroes could stop him, he drew his Canik sidearm, stuck it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger, splattering grey matter all over Mentalian's shield. As his body fell, the other gunner slumped to his knees and pushed his own helmet off, then began coughing up blood. The repeated impacts had pounded his insides to mush and he was in critical danger of dying from internal bleeding.

"NO! You goddamn maniac!" Whipcrack screamed, falling to his knees upon seeing the carnage.

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Mentalian released his shield

Mentalian released his shield gracefully, but stood aghast at his own doing. "I didn't expect that reaction..." he said quietly, his violet eyes wide against his black skin. His third eye seemed almost glad. He collected himself and prepared a verbal defense. "I exploited his insecurity at his rival, expecting them to neutralize each other" he said, in his overly cryptic tone, "I do not shed a tear for 'corrupted killing corrupted', but this was not intended." Even as sadistic as Mentalian is, this degree of carnage damped his hatred for redbloods.


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"Elimination of corruption is

"Elimination of corruption is effective. Thought risks synergy with others." Unknown looked at the results of Mentalian actions. Then shrugs as conflicting thoughts and instincts battled each other in his collective.

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"What did you fucking expect?

"What did you fucking expect?" muttered the singer as she kept up the windstorms. She contained as much of the blood and tissue as she could, still watching for criminal reinforcements. "Find your artifact thingy, let's free the prisoners, and then we get the hell out of here."

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The shock quickly wore off

The shock quickly wore off Mentalian, "I expected these advanced soldiers to have better armor I suppose" he said with a touch of crass. "Our relic is near, but I sense no prisoners" he said advancing down the hall "I sense other magics as well, ready yourselves"


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"Let's see if we can take a

"Let's see if we can take a few still able to tell us where the prisoners are." A bit of sarcasm could be noticed in Stingray's voice. He cast his own senses forward, hoping to find out more about this artifact Mentalian was so eager to retrieve.

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There's a rumbling in

There's a rumbling in Scaleback's throat, an extremely displeased sound you'd expect from most animals rather than a human, which may reinforce among the group that she's not completely human. Still, she moves as the vanguard of the group, down to the end of the hall, where years of reinforcement from movies and video games say the big villain is doing his super evil ritual or something. She's pointedly not looking at Mentalian, but from the tense way her arms are being held, and the waving of her crocodilian tail, she's very much not happy.

Still, cracking the next room is more important than lambasting people; it's wiser to accomplish this and chew him out later. She moves up to the door at the end of the hall, and looks for how to open it; if it's a blast door, she'll pull it open like the last one. If it's a more normal door, she'll simply force her way through to attack the people on the other side.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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"You carbon-based lifeforms

"You carbon-based lifeforms are complicated." Shakes his head not sure how to articulate things. "Dead is dead to me, elimination of threats by termination is natural to me. I do not understand why it, not the preferred method of removing threats to the Titan City. Thanks to Whipcrack I do comprehend that there are those who brake the laws because of need. These people have the resorces and power that they do not need to cause harm. They chose to be a threat to others, they are threats and my instints tell me to eliminate threats. It that simple to me." Unknown looked at the door Scaleback came to.

"I could move part of myself through any gap to see if the way is clear on the other side."

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"My people are not unanimous

"My people are not unanimous on violence" Mentalian replied, "but, thankfully, we have a more visionary leader now." he continued, releasing his closed fist.

He turns back to notice a soldier attempting to crawl away, a massive chunk missing from his left arm while he crawls with his right. He freezes solid and his eyes go blank for a moment. Mentalian attempted to drain all the info he could form the soldier, but nothing useful came, only the layouts and patrols of the areas cleared. The soldier slumps unconscious.

"These men do not run an open organization" Mentalian said aloud "I'm unable to obtain anything about what awaits us"


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Gayle spun down the wind

Gayle spun down the wind containing the spatter, dropping the mess in an open spot of floor nearby.

She started attaching TCPD transport tags to the downed soldiers, starting with those still alive first. The receiving end station would have a better chance of keeping them alive, anyway.

"They would be fools not to have cameras on us. Expect stronger opposition, and smarter, this time."

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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Whipcrack pushed past the

Whipcrack pushed past the others and moved to the still living gunner's side. He attached a medical transport tag and the man disappeared. Once that was taken care of, he moved to the blast door Scaleback was trying to open. "Here, I'll help." he said, positioning himself on one of the doors so she could take the other. Together, they pulled and the doors began to grind open.

Inside the sanctum, the glass sarcophagus hissed as it released a burst of condensed air and tipped upwards. The door on the front slid aside and the leader stepped out, looking younger and healthier than before. The petite blonde rushed over to him. "We have to go. The heroes are here."

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The door ground loudly as

The door ground loudly as Scaleback and Whipcrack pushed each side open. Violet light shines as Mentalian uses his telekinesis to assist with the door.

"Hurried bodies are ahead" he says aloud, notably showing concern for something other than the Relic he seeks.


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"Hurried bodies? Can you tell

"Hurried bodies? Can you tell how many?" Gayle asked. "Scaleback, you're pumped up again, with air cushion at full! Everyone else in order for refresh. Let's be ready to face some firepower!"

She refreshed the air shields around each person as they got ready to move into the room beyond the door.

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Stingray readied himself as

Stingray readied himself as the doors opened, waiting for the gap to be wide enough - or for Scaleback to move in, which would amount to the same thing - and for Gale Force's air shield to be topped off. As he waited, he tried to identify which enemy had the stronger magical/magnetic aura, and made sure his bioelectric charge was maxed out as well...

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Once the barrier is up again,

Once the barrier is up again, Scaleback brings her arms up in a boxing posture and charges through the opening Whipcrack helped her make, her raised arms ready to deflect any gunshots that come at her - between the barrier and her hardened scales, the most damage she'll have to show for anything short of a cannon shot will be bruises. Her near half a ton of bulk carries her forward, likely through any barricades and emplacements without regard for their structure - when half a ton of angry woman comes barreling at you, very little will stop her before she gets to the inner sanctum. As before, she trusts the heroes behind her to clean up in her wake, as she softens up all the barricades and the like with her forward momentum.

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Mentalian holds the blast

Mentalian holds the blast door open with his telekinesis as he tries to assess the room behind it. The Relic must be past; even between the many mental, soul, and technological signals he can sense the Cinnabar Disc.

He'll follow behind the redbloods through the door, lest he make another distasteful mess.


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As soon as Scaleback charged

As soon as Scaleback charged through the door, every defense gun in the room automatically deployed and swiveled to fire on her. Five autocannons began barking hate as two flamers on either side of the door bathed the entry in napalm. But between Gayle's air shield and her own scales, the crocodilian woman was barely even scathed. The flames did nothing other than warm her while the cannon shells were barely touching her, leaving the equivalent of pockmarks from a BB gun.

Once the door was being held open via telekinesis, Whipcrack swung through up high and looked around for the Big Bad. Just as he spotted him and the woman, one of the cannons turned and nailed him in the torso with a WHAP WHAP WHAP sound. The impact knocked him off his strand and out of the air, his armor dissipating. He skidded to a stop underneath a lab console, managing to slam into it's floor support and further abuse his ribs. With a groan, he rolled onto his back and collected himself enough to report. "Target sighted fleeing west."

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While not as fast as some,

While not as fast as some, nor as tough as others, Stingray managed to stay close to Scaleback until the cannons started up. Then he chose a cannon that seemed to be tracking someone else, likely Whipcrack, but he didn't need to know who it was, just that it wasn't already aiming at Stingray when he sprinted to it. It got off one burst before a surge of magically augmented bioelectricity went through its tracking systems. Stingray took a moment to check to see if there was a gunner, or if it was a remote...

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"Bah! Too many to plug up,

"Bah! Too many to plug up, but I can add a little chaos!" Gayle muttered. She formed a lightning storm and it began blasting gun emplacements. She followed this with a forklift-sized tornado pursuing the fleeing villains. She laughed gleefully and shouted, "Feel the wind!"

Then she turned her attention to Whipcrack and the team again, and began reapplying shields where they were needed.

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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As shells began to come

As shells began to come through the door, Mentalian deflected any coming directly at him. The energy levels in the room made it too difficult to sense or act on any given person or object whilst deflecting shells and holding the door open. He steps aside of the door to avoid crossfire, then bends the doors open to stop them from closing automatically.

With his faculties freed from telekinetics, he took a moment to sense for the Relic. It was in the room at the Eastern end, held by some force field. He casts an Arcaulian shield, then teleports to the Relic. He arrives behind the contraption holding the Relic, and to his shock, the disc was shattered to dust! It was merely a suspended pile of red dust, not a beautiful ancient carving. Enraged, he begins redirecting shells and bullets at the guns and the fleeing leadership, wildly and with some inaccuracy.


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As wind and bullets began

As wind and bullets began flying toward the retreating pair, the man took long enough to stop and gesture behind him. This created a half-bubble of slowed time slightly taller than him that caught the projectiles and disrupted the cyclone as it flew through. But it also slowed their retreat and allowed any pursuers to close distance.

As the bullets began flying, Whipcrack dove back under the lab bench he'd been extricating himself from under. "Ment! Knock it off!"

Poking his head around the corner, he began throwing up flattened strands and building a web wall between Ment's room and the rest of the lab.

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"You people just can't help

"You people just can't help but abuse our relics! It's just your nature!" Mentalian yells aloud as he begins separating the webbing. This decreases the projectiles being redirected, but the remaining are more focused on the turrets, with better accuracy.


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Gayle ducked fully behind her

Gayle ducked fully behind her phantom army for better cover. The lightning storm was beginning to have an effect on the gun emplacements, and Mentalian's tinkering seemed to help, as well.

She saw the shield that the villain had put up, but it took her a few more glances to realize what it was doing. The effect was exactly like her friend's slowed time bubbles.

"Holy shit! He's a time manipulator!" she called out.

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After taking out one of the

After taking out one of the turrets, Stingray took a moment to build up another charge and to take in the overall situation. Hearing Gale Force's analysis of the fleeing villain's powers, he remembered his abuela's lessons, about the old times before the flood had drowned the land of which Cuba was but a remnant. "Chronos had swallowed up all he had brought forth, or so he thought, but Zeus had been replaced by Rhea with a stone..." So, symbolically, a stone could represent Zeus, who defeated Chronos, or Time... especially if charged with Zeus' lightning... A stone was often useful to a mage, and Stingray brought one out of his belt, giving it an electric charge. The firmly spoken cantrip sounded more like Greek than any Latin language, and as he tossed the stone at the temporal shield he called out to Gale, "More lightning, ¡por favor!

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Scaleback is, to say the

Scaleback is, to say the least, enraged. She's mighty angry... and there's a whole lot of debris around. Her arms are throbbing in pain from the fact that the bullet impacts her left her feeling like they're one big bruise, and the man who'd trapped her for so long is getting away. But she's not the sort to lose herself to her anger. No, she's the sort to use it as a focus, to help her decide on what must be done. And what must be done right now is preventing the man's escape.

The massive crocodilian woman picks up one of the machineguns from before. It's comically small in her hands; her fingers would never be able to accurately depress the trigger, and it soon becomes clear that she's not trying to fire it at all. Instead, she throws it will ahead of the fleeing pair, past the time bubble covering their escape. No, she's not aiming for him, not really.

She's aiming for the control panel to the blast door on the escape hatch. If that's destroyed, he'll have no quick way to force the door open, and the weight of a machinegun emplacement is a destructive force when a person so large as Scaleback decides to throw is as hard as she can. They'll have a moment to realize what she's doing before it impacts, but whether that's enough time for them to stop it from happening is another matter entirely.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Once the machine guns had

Once the machine guns had been dispatched, Mentalian still had plenty of rage in him. From his webbed trap, he dissolves in to shadows. He then reappears meters from Whipcrack's lab bench.

"How dare you impede me!" he pushes his arm out, and with it comes a moderate telekinetic wave (comparable to a sedan in a school zone), directly at Whipcrack. During this, his third eye, blue, looks towards the fleeting pair, sending a depressive wave over them, hoping to dull their reflexes and demoralize.


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"You got it, Stingray!" Gayle

"You got it, Stingray!" Gayle charged up another lightning storm just out of reach of the temporal shield. He threw something, which probably meant he wanted an assist. She directed a lightning bolt at it, having no idea what he was up to but trusting his instincts.

Spotting Mentalian firing off a wave of force at Whipcrack, she muttered, "That's just about enough of that." This guy had used up his chances. With a single clench and twist of an outstretched fist, she sucked all the air out of the Mentalian's lungs, leaving a strong vacuum behind it. This would put a normal person in the ICU for a week on the border of death, and out cold within seconds. She wondered if it would be enough.

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The air drained from the

The air drained from the vacuum turned into green dust and dissipated, negated by the Arcaulian Barrier, but Mentalian was left vulnerable. The difference in pressure still made Mentalian fall forward onto his hands. He stretched out one hand and his third eye shone violet. A psionic overload was the go-to counter: while Gayle was powerful, her abilities weren't overtly aligned to enthrall or frenzy in a helpful manor.

The attack coursed through her psyche, searching for traumas, phobias, insecurities, and other neurosis to exploit and amplify. "He attacked me! Surely you're being rash!", "Maybe it's not your place to protect everyone. Who asked for your air defenses?", "Do you have no sense of accountability?!", "Do these murderers need medical resources?", "Maybe if you'd spent more time on your career and less time on this costume" all simultaneously raced through her mind in waves of strain.


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Kartanian
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Expecting a mental attack

Expecting a mental attack doesn't necessarily make it any easier to deal with. Her insecurities were real, big, and it had taken a long time with professional help to face them enough to function. It all came back--her mother's death, the humiliation and attention rush of being passed around between the boys like a party favor, the pleasure and shame of the porn they had taken of her, the anxiety that she would never measure up to every other meta, her inability to protect Bryan and her shameful hatred of Sheena for letting him die, and more. The whispers raced through Gayle's mind and gripped her in a crush of anxiety like one of her tornadoes. She dropped to the floor and curled up whimpering, head tucked in and arms clasping her legs. The lightning storm continued, the shields held, and the burly figures of her phantom army gathered protectively above her because she had already invested them with power. But as she wrestled with her doubts, she could do nothing more.

Something in the whispers jarred her, though. She scowled fiercely and knew this wasn't her. Mentalian had made a serious error, whether conscious or not. She scrambled to her feet, a wildcat's snarl on her face, and shouted, "This was my MOTHER'S costume, asshole!"

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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The sudden shift in thought

The sudden shift in thought process cuts off Mentalian's assault. He rises to his feet, smirks, raises his hand, then closes his fist. The emitters about the Disc behind him crack, and the red dust settles on the metal floor. The door has been opened to reinforcements.

Rather than continue to banter, he conjures a black spear and slams the hilt on the ground, awaiting counterattack....


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Stingray's knowledge of myths

Stingray's knowledge of myths was right on the money and as soon as the stone hit the edge of the bubble, lightning erupted across it's surface. Seconds later, it shattered violently, a wave of chronal energy erupting outwards. This seemed to stun the leader and he flagged for a few precious seconds. This was more than long enough for Scaleback's impromptu projectile to go flying past the pair and slam into the control panel. The panel shattered and fizzled, then two heavy-duty locking bars dropped from the ceiling, half-in two grooves on the inside of the door. They dropped at least a foot into the floor, then there was a KA-KLUNK of them anchoring and locking.

Both of the fleeing supervillains slumped at that point, then turned to each other. "Well, my dear, it seemes we have no choice at this point." the man said, stroking her cheek. She sniffled and nodded, then they both turned back to the heroes who... were now fighting each other? They shared another glance, then began edging back around towards the entrance the heroes had used.

From behind Mentalian, a voice sounded. "Hey, asshole."

If the mage turned to look, all he would see was energy-armored fist flying at his face.

Putting yourself in another persons shoes emotionally is something that everyone has to experience eventually. It's part of learning to be a human being. Roleplayers do it for fun.

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Fortunately, Stingray knew

Fortunately, Stingray knew both Gale Force and Whipcrack by reputation, and everything he'd heard convinced him that they would at least keep Mentalian busy. So when he saw the far door going into a power failure lockdown, he looked around a bit, and spotted the two villains trying to be sneaky while watching the "heroes" (2/3 accurate, anyway) fight. Stingray moved quickly, hoping that they wouldn't notice. He reached the door, pulled himself up as he went through, choosing a dark scale pattern as he braced himself against the ceiling, waiting to drop on the - hopefully - oblivious villians.

Foradain, Mage of Phoenix Rising.
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Have you ever heard a lion

Have you ever heard a lion roar at the zoo? When the lion decides to really put his all into it? You can feel it. The ground, the water, the very air vibrates with the force of it, and you feel a deep and primal fear in your bones. The silence afterwards is almost as deafening, as the lack of sound after such an assault is just as hard to process as the roar itself. You're left with a feeling of disquiet as the sounds slowly leech back into the world, similar to how your eyes act after shining a bright light into them.

That's the kind of sound Scaleback makes. Her roar is primal, almost inhuman, and in an enclosed space like this bunker, it bounces off of every surface, through every person, and can likely be heard throughout the entirety of the complex. It may well disrupt the infighting. Or it might not. But there's most certainly nobody, even deaf, that won't notice it.

Her arms are wide. Her sharp toothed maw glistening, and in a short moment she'll be across the room. The heroes? She doesn't care, they were a means to an end; getting here. Getting to him. His looks may have changed, but she can smell him. Him and his woman. And if they don't stop her she'll grab the man by the head and crash him into the wall. Not enough to kill him. She doesn't want to kill him, really. But she can't pass up the chance for a little catharsis, maybe give him some whiplash. Whether or not this attempt to hurt him succeeds, she starts speaking, her voice gravelly, almost a low, loud growl, "I waited. so long. So long for this opportunity. You had me caged, beaten. Starved. But you didn't know everything. I kept it all hidden from you, and you were too stupid to see it."

Those near her - such as the villainess - will feel the hot breath, and know that a powerful predator is in the room. The rest? If they're paying attention to her, they might see the feral gleam in her eyes, and realize if they don't stop her, she likely won't restrain herself enough to avoid killing him.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Mentalian tried to block the

Mentalian tried to block the attack with his spear, but it bounced right off and he was struck in the cheek, sending him flying towards the wall. By reflex, he dissolves into shadows before slamming against the opposite wall.

He reappears on the other side of the blast door he'd forced open, bracing with telekinesis, he stopped his hurtling and catches himself. He staggers for a moment, unable to ignore the sting on his cheek. He quickly senses the surroundings: a vague life essence above him nearer the door, two quickly moving to the door, the pain he caused, and most obviously, a massive locus of rage.

The beast within (his third eye) flashed red, attempting to stoke the rage, the reptile would make an excellent frenzy, so the motion is sent, before Mentalian himself can realize. He, himself, readies with his spear for the desecrator to arrive, and pay for his abuse.


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"I agree with Sheena. I hate

"I agree with Sheena. I hate teleporting villains," Gayle muttered as she spun toward Mentalian. He was back at the door to this big control chamber? Fine. At least that would make a choke point to block the other villains' physical escape, too. Still standing on the floor of the room, she drew the air out of her phantom army and the lightning storm. Weaving her arms in a loose figure-eight pattern, she created a spherical vortex around Mentalian, spinning faster and faster, tumbling around him and threatening to draw him off the ground into the center of the cyclone.

The drawback to this technique was that, like any weather pattern, it took time to build. Once she got it going, it was the sort of containment that had spun and tumbled even city-shaking monsters in a disorienting, confusing hold. Purely psychic or incorporeal beings pretty much ignored it, but she was betting that Mentalian was stuck with his third eye in a physical body. She was just hoping he couldn't teleport himself out of it before the tumbling winds got to him. It also sealed off the doorway exit.

"Prisoners! We have to get the prisoners!" she called above the growing storm.

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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Not yet readied himself,

Not yet readied himself, Mentalian starts to feel the wind kick up around him. He bolts down the hall, flying with his telekinesis, back toward to red pools....

Far down the hall, he would make his stand: violet light shining, he lifts the weapons of the soldiers, readies them towards the sanctum. Thus, he stands in the red pools, spear in front of him, with various pistols, rifles, and other lighter arms fixed on the door. He would wait to see the desecrator: the other redbloods don't deserve the same level of suffering as the slaver, not even his underlings did.


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Stingray watched Mentalian

Stingray watched Mentalian set up further up the tunnel, then assessed the state of vortex Gale Force had set up to lock him down. He dropped and shifted, taking the form of a manta and sliding into the edge of the vortex. The wind caught him, briefly, accelerating him before he broke loose, hurling him back through the broken hatch. He shifted again, becoming human in time to roll to a stop. He sprang to his feet, ready to intercept either of the Other Bad Guys if they got past Scaleback. "Getting out that way isn't going to happen, camaradas. Maybe you should tell us where you put the prisoners, get some credit with ¿los federales?

Foradain, Mage of Phoenix Rising.
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In response to Stingray's

In response to Scaleback's rage, the diminutive woman stepped in front of the man and slapped the button of a small device embedded in her left wrist. All of her muscles tightened at once, then grew. In waves, the process repeated itself over and over, her frame growing with each pulse. Within thirty seconds, she was nearly as wide as Scaleback, that not nearly as tall. "You'll have to put me down first, ugly." she rumbled before charging at Scaleback.

With difficulty, Whipcrack ignored the urge to go after Mentalian and took a swing around the lab, looking for the prisoners. Finding a section of the wall labeled Cryo, he came to a halt. After a quick look, he tapped a button labeled Open Chamber and a section of the wall slid up to reveal cryotubes, at least a hundred, stacked like morgue slabs. "Prisoners located!" he hollered over the noise.

Putting yourself in another persons shoes emotionally is something that everyone has to experience eventually. It's part of learning to be a human being. Roleplayers do it for fun.

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The woman, as she approaches

The woman, as she approaches Scaleback, may notice that she isn't talking back. The fury on her face is clear enough, but she doesn't charge. Instead, she falls into a ready stance that anybody familiar with them will realizes is a boxers stance; she's a well trained fighter, and doesn't resort to her claws when faced with a challenge. When the woman's charge carries her close to Scaleback, she doesn't try to countercharge, or stop the momentum from being carried into her. With her arms raised, she pulls her right shoulder back a bit in what would appear to be a punch coming for her. But Scaleback doesn't intend for the punch to actually be delivered as it is now; this is a feint.

Instead, she steps to the side, intending to kick the leg out from under the woman at just the right moment to make her trip and hit the ground. With the feint, her focus should be on Scaleback's arms, leaving her vulnerable to the tripping maneuver, as it's actually scaleback's legs she uses to disrupt the charge. If this works, it should let the woman carry forward at speed but suddenly no longer controlling her momentum, which would cause her to skid along across the floor.

Whether the tripping maneuver works or not, Scaleback backs up a couple steps, keeping a focused eye on the woman, her stance perfect, and her mind sharpened to a pristine point on the task at hand. Mentalian's effect didn't make her stupid, or send her into a berserk rage. Rather, she's reached that point where you're so angry you come out the other side, and into that almost zen, calm fugue state. She simply prepares for the woman to get back up if she tripped, or readies for the next attack if she didn't.

An infinite number of tries doesn't mean that any one of those tries will succeed. I could flip an infinite number of pennies an infinite number of times and, barring genuine randomness, they will never come up "Waffles".

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Gayle glanced toward the old

Gayle glanced toward the old time manipulator, keeping track of his movements. She kept building the cyclone. She called out, "Sam! We have an opportunity! A time controller's consciousness can only be in one place and time at a time! Um... if you know what I mean. The more he has to deal with, including environmental hazards, the more likely he is to make a mistake!"

The cyclone was sucking up loose objects and grit as it picked up speed. It was starting to turn darker and more difficult to see through. Discharges of electricity shot through it, also increasing in frequency and strength.

A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)

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It seemed that Scaleback had

It seemed that Scaleback had the pocket tank handled, but Stingray tossed a quick spell at her to speed up her healing for a time before turning to sprint towards where Whipcrack had called out. He looked through the door at the cryo chambers. "Madre de... I don't think I can help with what Gale Force has in mind. I'll look for a way to wake these people up. Or can we call in reinforcements to help transport them?""

Foradain, Mage of Phoenix Rising.
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