|Ness "Gallowglass" MacDonnell|
Ness (despite the sting in her rear end) grins ear to ear when she sees Kayla regain--and then grow way beyond--her former strength.
"Yeah! GO! GO! GO! GO!!"
When Kayla drops Dread in front of Ness, Bear growls and bears her teeth, while Ness aims her bow at Dread threateningly.
"Don't even think of trying anything!"
Defend+bear: 1d20 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 2 + 1 = 10 +1 team
An unpleasant voice deep in Psyche's mind couldn't help but wonder. That's all? She just didn't want to fight back enough before now?
She slammed that voice aside violently and took to the skies once more, rocketing towards the rift. "The plan is simple. Someone figure out how to close this thing, or find us another way home so I can destroy it. Until then," her eyes flared, their violent violet scorching away the subtleties of her webs and suggestions, simply leaving her as an ultraviolet afterimage burned on the retinas of those who looked too closely at her silhouette, suspended in the midst of a massive wall of her will.
"Nothing gets past me."
Burning for Moat.
|Scorch - AKA "Mattie" Noble|
Scorch couldn't help but cry out as the dragon-armour formed around her body and she found herself under Dread's control. Vainly attempting to regain command of her movements she watched in horror until suddenly, amazingly, Kayla spoke the words... "No more..." and the power she'd stolen from Dread began to drain from herself, towards Kayla, towards Praetoria!
As the power leached from her, she felt control of herself return and she reignited her flames so that she hovered above the arena, watching in horror as the hoard of demons scrambled towards the rift. "I can give you the power to stop them." she head a familiar, comforting sibilant voice whisper in her head. "Here, in this place, I am more powerful than they know. With my help you can stop them all!"
"You don't need her Mattie. We're strong enough together. You are strong enough without her. You have to fight though, you can't just keep giving her control!"
Provoke: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (2, 5) + 1 = 8 I'll go with the condition.
Praetoria soars across the arena, two golden trails of energy following her. One like the tail of a comet, the other a steady stream from the portal to her. She slows at the last moment, landing gently between her mother and father.
”Kayla!” her mom, Ultra-Star cries out. Her purple costume is shredded, her arms and legs covered in scratches and bruises, and one eye heavily swollen shut.
”Honey! You have to get out of here!” her dad added. He was a battered mess too, a testament to the strength of the Hellspawn and Dr. Dread. His left arm had clearly been broken some time ago, and healed at a slightly off angle due to being improperly set. While he didn’t have any lacerations like his wife, Praetorian was clearly subject to repeated beatings as well, his skin a sickening variety of hues of bruising. His cape was long gone, and all that remained of his white and gold synthetic suit were the pants.
”Not without you!” Praetoria said sternly. She walked over to her father’s chains and picked took them in both hands.
”Kayla! Listen to me! Those chains are Hellforged! They are impossible to bre-“
He gawks as Kayla almost effortlessly breaks the chains he had struggled hopelessly against for months! Praetoria then steps over to her mother’s pillar and breaks her free too. A moment later, her parents wrapped her up in a combined hug.
”We didn’t think we’d ever see you again,” Praetorian said, emotion heavy in his voice. ”How did you get here? What ha-“
”LOOK OUT!” Ultra-Star cried out as she shoved them aside and fired a blast of bluish white energy from her hands! They collide with a pair of small rockets that were flying across the arena! When the smoke cleared, Dr. Dread could be seen walking menacingly towards them.
”I was a bit upset with my daughter when she claimed to have already taken your essence, Little Taylor. I had every intention of doing that myself upon my return, be it you’re father, you, your children...whoever of your line was alive. But, I suppose I will still have that pleasure,” he says ominously.
”Over my dead body, Dread!” Praetorian says as he steps between the villain and his family. ”Besides, we should work together to get out of this place like we talked about!”
”That was different circumstances. And empty promises on my part, to be blunt,” Dread replies.
”I told you we couldn’t trust him, hun,” Ultra-Star says from behind her husband.
”Keep your b!&+~ quiet, Praetorian,” Dread says.
”Enough!” Praetoria shouts as she flies up from behind her father and adds ”Just cover me!” before streaking through the sky towards Dread.
”Kayla no!” her father cries out, moments before she collides with the villain and drives him into the arena floor, pounding him with heavy fists.
”Or...okay then...” Praetorian adds as he shares a stunned look at his wife, before the pair move together and engage a small group of demons approaching, Praetorian with slams from his unbroken right hand and kicks, and Ultra-Star with energy blasts.
Kayla drove fist after fist into Dr. Dread as she lorded over top of his torso like a UFC fighter who had totally passed their opponents guard. The sound of fist crunching into metal echoed across the arena, and some of the demons even stopped to resume watching the fight rather than advance on the portal.
After several seconds of continued pummeling, she stopped and looked down at her foe. His armor was significantly stronger than his daughters, and even the chains that had held her parents. She looked down at him, slightly confused, when his head turned ever so slightly and she was blasted back off of him about ten feet, landing with a thud no her own back!
”Insolent child! You fail to think things through, a typical weakness in your family. I was here for years before my daughters first attempt to retrieve me failed, resulting in your parents exile here. Do you think for all that time I was a simple prisoner? I put my time and energy to good use during my time here. Learning things. Perfecting techniques. Forming alliances,” he says as he stalks towards her. Every time she goes to stand, he launches a blast, missile, or beam her way to keep her addled and down.
When he reaches her, he plants a foot down on her chest and pushes her down, then incants loudly ”Rovi domeerus trogani! Asceripius meltrava doth!” The moment he finishes, red sigils swirl about her and pin her arms and legs down within some sort of arcane energy, while another forms across her forehead and pins her head down!
”Kayla!” Her father cries out as he begins to fly her direction across the arena. Suddenly, a massive demon the size of a giant slams him down to the arena floor, pinning Praetorian to the ground! Meanwhile, her mother is busy flying about just trying to survive!
”Now...let me see...” he says as he kneels down beside Praetoria and opens his hand above her heart. A hellish looking piece of technology slips from the gauntlet and immediately the golden energy that had been flowing back into Kayla begins being drawn from her and into it!
”No!” Praetoria shrieked as she strained against the arcane bindings! She could feel her strength begin fading immediately, and fading quickly!
”Yes! Finally! These demons wouldn’t let me test this on your father...they were enjoying their new toy. But they won’t stop me this time...” he boasted as he drew the girl’s powers from her body!
Kayla gritted her teeth and clenched her eyes shut as she strained with everything she had. ”No,” she said chillingly moments before opening her eyes, which were now aflame with golden power, as she glared at Dr. Dread. The flow of energy from her stopped moving towards him, and for a moment just lingered there in the air, before it all came surging back towards her with a vengeance! Then, the spell holding her down shattered, and Dr. Dread went flying backwards, landing on his feet but clearly rocked!
”Impossible!” he snarled as Praetoria got to her feet.
”Never again will you or anyone else do that to me! And by the time I’m through with you...you are going to wish for the peace of Hell...” Kayla snapped back as she walked confidently across the arena floor towards him.
As the demons rush towards the tether out of the Underworld that the Taenarum's construction provides, the rest of the team gets to work. Psyche powers up and throws her most powerful force field to hold back the throngs. Mattie takes flight, though pauses as she has an internal war with some part of herself about the best action.
Isaiah again gets the attention of the Erinyes, trying to shame them for working with Dread. They scowl at him in the fury that is their namesake, but they pause in their fight against the Sentinels. They turn to see the demons and condemned souls making for the realms of the living. They glance at each other, and shake their head. One points to Isaiah and hisses, "We make no bargain with you, creature of another pantheon, nor do we act for your approval! But the condemned souls must remain in Tartarus!" The trio then get to work, fighting and turning back the wave, defending the Taenarum.
Gallowglass, keeping her bow trained on the younger Dread, hears a growl behind her. Cerberus joins Ness, putting a massive paw on top of their captive.
Horizon, wondering what might help, tries to make sense of the arcane symbols. Unfortunately, what he thought looked like the Kanji for "exit" was clearly not right. He finds himself blasted back from the magical glyphs, hitting his back hard against a marble column. Shin, take a powerful blow
Rory finally seems back in control of his powers, encased in frigid ice and shadow. He looks out from the ledge he ended up on, seeing a horde of demons threatening and Kayla fighting the original Dr. Dread.
What does he do??
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
Defend the Taylors: 2d6 - 1 ⇒ (5, 1) - 1 = 5
Frostbite breaks free from his self imposed icy cage. With Kayla pounding on Dr. Dread, Rory attempts to lend aid to her patients but had little effect.
|Scorch - AKA "Mattie" Noble|
No! Not again.. I can keep them back. I have to!"
With that thought, she angles herself forward and swoops over the throng of demons, blasting them with excoriating jets of flames as she passes over them.
Directly engage: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (1, 3) + 2 = 6
|Shin "Horizon" Akebono|
Take A Powerful Blow: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (5, 1) + 2 = 8
"...shouldn't touch things I'm not sure about." Shin groaned as he pulled away from the column, ready to try again. Except that all the runes and hieroglyphs had blinked out of existence. Meaning that he had no way to try and control the tower. Not that he had a clue as to what they could do that way.
"Well, since I can't do anything about that..." Shin said as he flew towards the front lines. He gave Scorch an assist by firing his own collected energy into the mass, pushing them into her vastly stronger flames. Spending Team to push her result to a 7.
That settled, his flight path finally sets him on a course for Kayla, as she approaches Dread - the old Dread he assumes. He lands between her and the villain, trying not to be distracted by her new and shiny Regalia.
"Prae. Time to go. Leave him," He says, gesturing to the man but otherwise ignoring him. "He is literally in hell. There's nothing worse that you can do to him. More importantly, he's not worth another moment of your time! Your famity needs you more than you need revenge! Don't be like...me."
Comfort: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (2, 6) + 2 = 10
Praetoria doesn’t stop when Horizon lands between them, continuing to close the distance. Her expression is hard and set, with a grim determination. When she finally reaches Horizon’s side, he can see she is trembling with rage. She glowers at Dr. Dread before looking over and seeing Rory struggling across the arena floor near his parents, desperately trying to hold their own and not succeeding.
”Almost everything you said was wrong, except one thing,” she replied, ”...he isn’t worth my time.” (Clearing Insecure)
She puts a gentle hand on Shin’s shoulder, her silver hair billowing in the breeze, as she looks over at him with a somewhat numb smile. ”Come on, let’s...LOOK OUT!” she shouts as she wraps him up in her arms and spins around, putting her back towards Dr. Dread. Horizon can see over her shoulder in their strange embrace that he is now sitting up, firing a vicious looking beam of red and black energy at them, and Praetoria is using herself to protect him! He can see her gritting her teeth against the pain.
”Foolish mortals! You think I will give up this easily!?!?” he calls out, his voice no longer purely digital sounding, but now a blend of synthesizer as well as something far, far darker. ”This is my chance to escape this exile, and I will not see it slip through my fingers!” he boasts as he stands, now seemingly several feet taller than before.
The beam weapon ceases firing, and Praetoria lets Horizon go as she turns to face Dread. ”Go! Help the others!” she says as she launches herself at the villain!
Defend: 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (2, 5) + 3 = 10 (Clearing Hopeless)
Psyche strained to keep the barrier intact, the attention it demanded against a horde like this was too much for her to take the fight to the demons herself.
Still though, she could feel where their force was greatest, where they were most concentrated, and it took very little of her attention to put that knowledge directly into Mattie and Shin's heads. "They're massing again, circle back and you'll be able to catch them by surprise!"
Spending Team to Correctly reading Horizon's post and seeing that he spent the Team, but this is still what Psyche's focusing on :-)
|Scorch - AKA "Mattie" Noble|
Although the demons, at first, manage to scramble out of the path of Scorch's flames, Horizon's own blasts corral them into a tighter mass, and she adjusts her blasts to target the closely thronged hoard as she skims over them, circling up and away as the hell-beasts scream.
With Horizon's Team spend will Resist/Avoid
Rory remains disoriented and blasts Kayla's parents instead of their foes. Fortunately, their powers resist the worst of the blasts.
Horizon looks up to notice that the marble column that he hit is starting to tumble thanks to the impact and the weakening that Isaiah's Unmakers had caused. In slow motion, the pillar falls toward Gallowglass and Cerberus! The two scramble to avoid the pillar, which crashes next to the younger Dr. Dread and shatters.
While Scorch, Psyche and Praetoria engage and hold back the demons and the elder Dread, they don't notice his daughter awakening thanks to Shin's blunder. As the dust settles, she gets up and moves to the last remaining arcane symbols. One hand clutching her side, she uses her other to slide two glyphs together, which glow and draw a faint trail of power from Praetoria. "Father! Let's go!" she shouts.
There's not much of the spell left, and it has little power to fuel it. An unstable vortex appears, ready to collapse upon itself. However, it is obvious to all who see it that it is the true means of escape back to Halcyon City.
Cerberus gets up, shakes his three massive heads, and growls at the hordes of demons and lost souls that are trying to slip past Psyche's barrier and Scorch's blasts. A large number cower and flee from the guardian of the Underworld. One head turns to Gallowglass and gives her a slobbery lick, then looks toward the portal with an urging in his eyes. What does she do?
The Erinyes also form ranks, pushing back the tide of condemned souls that yearn for escape. They spare a glance at Isaiah, Frostbite, Psyche and Scorch. "You do not belong here. Escape while you still can," they command. What do you do?
Kayla is locked in the defining battle of her life when she feels a slight tug of energy coming off of her -- not from the elder Dr. Dread's powers but from the machinery from earlier. She could cut it off, she realizes, but she can see it's all that's keeping the portal open. If she does so, they'll all be trapped in Tartarus.
Even so, the spell is collapsing and the window of escape is tight. A shout from Dread's daughter has the supervillain disengaging and making his way towards the exit! With the demons held at bay, she's pretty sure she could make it before them and close the portal before they're through. Then she looks back and sees her parents! They are behind Dread!
The choice is before her: Trap the Dreads in Hades, but strand her parents as well, or free them and set loose both Dr. Dreads upon Halcyon!
What does she do?????
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
"Come on everyone, time to G.T.F.O. Taylors that means you three also," stopping just shy of the portal Rory looks at Kayla, "come on Praetoria, let's get your parents out. They don't deserve to be here!"
Support: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (4, 5) + 1 = 10
|Shin "Horizon" Akebono|
"...I just said that he wasn't-" Shin tries to point out before things go sideways again. He's more than irritated as he sees that the column he'd broken had helped to give the female Dread an opportunity. This was starting to go south, though it seemed that there was a bright point to this. Dr. Dread activated the way out of here, which he was happy to see. But she was also going for it.
Seeing that Kayla wasn't going to listen to him, and Isaiah, Scorch and Psyche were dealing with the horde - well, he figured that if he'd ended up trapped here in hell, at least he wouldn't become Dusk. He flies forward towards the Dread Daughter, and flies past her to the portal.
No quips, no explanations. Being trapped here with all these demons would suck for everyone. If this got him stuck here but everyone else made it out, that was fine by him.
Unleash Powers (Overcome Obstacle, Hopeless): 2d6 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (4, 5) + 1 - 2 = 8 Keeping the portal open, but making it temporary. Giving everyone extra time to do maybe one more thing before booking it to the portal.
A burst of energy he'd been storing since he'd been here, the ambient energy of this world, to fortify the portal and give everyone a few more precious moments. He looks at the passing Dread Daughter, but didn't prevent her from leaving. There would be more opportunities to deal with her later.
Psyche. Time to go. Don't let the older Dread leave.
”Oh no you don’t!” Praetoria shouts as her captor tries to dart past Horizon! She manifests a spear of golden energy in her hand and hurls it at her, slicing through her jet pack sending her crashing to the ground moments before she can make it to the portal!
She flies up and towards the newly opened rift, stopping just short of Horizon. ”Go,” she says as she points at the machine and the trail of her own energy feeding into it, ”I can hold it open for now! Cover the others!”
As the rest of the Sentinels close in on the portal, so too does her parents, a horde of demons, the Erinyes, and Dr. Dread, who has managed to reach his daughter and pick her up in a gravity field.
Through the portal, the Sentinels can see several news helicopters have arrived filming the unfolding chaos, hoping to snag the best shot of the scene and into the world beyond the rift. Also, a couple of heroes have arrived to try to contain anything that may make it through.
The Erinyes seem to be living up to their duty, however, unleashing hellish horror upon the horde to keep them at bay, serving as unwitting allies to the young heroes. But just as the other rest of the Sentinels make it through the rift back to Halcyon, one of their strikes destroys the machine holding the rift open!
”No!” Praetoria cries out before she dives into the rift, holding it open herself in a desperate bid to buy her parents time! Where her hands and feet make contact with the tear between realms, golden energy surges back against the closing rift!
”Mom! Dad! Hurry, I’ve got it!” she calls out, but her arms and legs shake against the strain to keep the portal open.
Dr. Dread chuckles to himself as he and his daughter fly for the rift! Rather than trying to slip past her, it seems clear he plans to tackle Kayla through to the other side, closing the rift behind them and trapping Praetorian and Ultra-Star here alone!
He is but feet away when Praetorian slams into him, causing the trio to go crashing back to the dirt thirty or forty yards away! ”You fool!” Dr. Dread chides him!
”Kayla! Close it!” Praetorian yells.
”No! Not without you!” Kayla replied!
Ultra-Star flew up just short of her daughter, looking over to Praetorian struggling to keep Dr. Dread wrapped up and away from the portal! She then turned her head and saw the wave of demons beginning to overwhelm the Erinyes. She looked back at her daughter with sad, loving eyes.
Kayla shook her head. ”Mom! Don’t!” she pleaded as she began to falter, the rift shrinking as she was brought to her knees within it!
Ultra-Star reaches out and placed a hand on her daughters cheek and said ”We love you, baby. We always will. You’ve made us so proud.”
Tears stream down Kayla’s face as she says in a strain, ”Please...please d-don’t do this!”
With one last look into her daughters eyes, Ultra-Star turns and soars back to try and reinforce the Erinyes! She sends several blasts into the approaching horde before they overtake her position, and she becomes lost in a sea of demons!
”MOM!!!” Kayla shrieks when suddenly an explosion to her left forces her to look that way. It also caused her to lose some focus, and her feet slipped off the rifts edge! She was now only holding it open with her arms, both outstretched and holding it open as far as she could. But she soon learned the source of the explosion as another shook the abyss. Dr. Dread was unleashing missile after missile at her father at point blank range, trying to shake his grip off of him and escape Hell!
Her father was in horrible condition. Even through his superhuman toughness, the onslaught was too much. He was badly burned, and parts of his chest and face were shorn away. Yet still he fought on. ”Kayla! Close it! I can’t...I can’t hol-“
A final explosion sent him rolling away, and he fell limply to the ground in the distance. Dr. Dread surged for the portal, his daughter in tow!
Kayla considered diving back in. Surely they could find a way out...
But then...she just let go. She let go of the portal and floated a couple feet away as the rift quickly closed. Dr. Dread was reaching for it desperately, as the portal closed just as he was a few feet away.
Praetoria floated there silently for a second, bathed in spotlights from the news choppers, before she floated to the ground and sunk down. She laid there, her legs out to her left, leaning on her arms, with her head hung low, her silver hair hanging over her face as the tears fell.
Maybe it was selfish, but there was no way Psyche was going to let her friends make that sacrifice. She could hear them all weighing it, the heroic instincts or damage that made them fling themselves into harm's way bubbling up beneath their conscious thoughts.
But she didn't care if they wanted to do it.
She let the great curtain wall of her will collapse, except for a single arc of force that she used to brush aside a few ravening demons, and then wrap around her friends in a bubble.
She dove through into the lights and noise of the real world, preparing to hold the breach once more when everything went wrong.
Praetoria went back in to save the day.
She made her choice.
It hurt too much, so instinctively she pulled back from Kayla's mind like she was a hot kettle.
But the vultures surrounding them had no such scruples. All around her she could feel the curiosity, the hunger, the building frenzy. No. They don't get this. They can't have this from her too.
The footage was obviously going out live; there was no undoing what had already been seen. But with a clench of her fist and a flare of her eyes every camera lens, every taping cellphone buckled and shattered.
The next pulse set up a coruscating hemisphere between the Sentinels and their onlookers. "Where should we take her?"
|Scorch - AKA "Mattie" Noble|
As Horizon held the portal open, Scorch took the opportunity to circle around and unleash a further gout of flame into the seething mass as she powered towards the exit. From within, she felt something stir, sensing that the opportunity to reassert itself was about to be lost.
As the demons burst into flames she gasped, feeling their energy, divested from their corporeal forms fill the cavernous space. The dark energy released by their destruction seemed almost solid as she flew through it towards the rift ,twisting and coiling around and into her. Gasping, she turned and dived for the opening just behind her teammates
Landing heavily, Mattie turned and watched as Kayla, silhouetted against the rift in reality held on before suddenly, desperately releasing it and the gateway snapped closed.
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
Once back in Halcyon Frostbite prepared to continue the battle against the Dreads but only Praetoria came through - no Dreads, no Ultra-Star, no Praetorian - just Praetoria. She hung in the sky for a moment like tear that rolled down a cheek and was hanging from the chin just before slipping into the empty air and onto the ground. Rory moved next to her and kneeling laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I will take you wherever you want to go, I still have you back whatever you need." he whispered softly.
Kayla reaches over and clung to Rory’s hand, her whole body trembling. After a few moments of silence she finally muttered, ”Home...take me home...”
|Shin "Horizon" Akebono|
Shin wondered if Dusk knew that this would happen. That he'd avoid taking his gift and using it, and this would be the result.
Irrationally, he was upset with Kayla. Not for coming to his aid, but shoving him out of the way instead of helping him keep the portal open. They had all spent days trying to find her, Gallowglass had come back to help with this, and Scorch seemed to have gotten some kind of energy from that version of hell he was assuming would twist her in some way like before. He had done what he could to help, and ended up feeling impotent by Kayla's presence.
He had no way to vent his frustrations to her. Not when her parents were apparently trapped in hell (or they were just dead, and those were their souls, he wasn't entirely sure). Psyche...he wasn't sure he was ready to talk with her yet and hash out the details.
So he went for someone who he felt was the big hero today, slumping down next to Gallowglass. "...You okay?" He asked her.
"...I'm not okay. Kayla's not okay. Scorch isn't okay. Psyche...is broken." He looked at the ground, drawing in the dirt. ]b]"Thank you, though. We wouldn't have found Kayla without you. I'm not sure she was rescued, but we found her."[/b]
He grips his hands tightly in front of himself. "...She'll mourn her parents. I hope she does. But I hope she knows how lucky she is to have all the rest of her family." He glances at Gallowglass. "...I need tea. You could probably use a cup too."
A coalition of Alliance and Heralds members, along with the Taylor family, were also on hand to witness the display and ultimate sacrifice of the Praetorean and Ultra Star.
The heroes corral the media while the Sentinels are given space to leave the site. Kayla is escorted back to Praetor Tower with her remaining family.
After the rapid-fire events of the Rogue Shard, hunt for Praetoria, the Dread bombings, and the Taenarum descent, Halcyon City enjoys a brief respite from the chaos.
Here's space for RP, team moves, comforting/supporting, provoking, F2B moments, etc. No super villain fights or appearances for, oh, at least a week. Which, ironically, is when Psyche gets her summons to court.
(See what I did there?)
Rory has carried Kayla back to the Rhino, her face buried in his chest as she mourned the loss of her parents. She had laid down in the back seat, crying the whole way back to Praetor Tower, where Augustus, Sarah, and Freddie were waiting for them. Freddie didn’t make any smart ass comments like he usually does, he realized the horrific nature of the moment. As Rory helped her out of the car, Kayla fell into her uncles arms as she continued to break down. Soon, Freddie was carrying her upstairs with Sarah at their side as Augustus watched them go.
Judge turned to Frostbite and says ”Thank you. The Sentinels have done so much for us. We won’t forget it. You and the others are welcome here anytime. I’ll see to that. But...” he pauses after looking after Kayla, ”Maybe give her a couple days?”
Later That Night:
Kayla has cried herself to sleep, clutching a pillow tight against her. The pillowcase has a very large portion that was soaked with tears. But, as she slept, her eyes were going ninety-miles-a-minute...
You seem to catch them mid conversation...
”You are nothing without me. Who do you think has given you your power?” dark haired Kayla says.
”A lot of good it did. You think I’d rather have this power than my parents?” Kayla replied hatefully.
”Watch your tone with me, mortal! I am Nike! Goddess of Victory! And I can unmake you in an instant!” Nike scolds in return!
Kayla steps right up into her face. ”Fine! Do it!” she yells back!
The two stare at each other hatefully for a moment before Kayla again yells ”DO IT!!!”
Nike drops her hands to her sides, her fingers folding to resemble a wizard drawing up power. She glowers at Kayla a moment, but then her expression turns to one of confusion and panic. ”What is happening?” she asked herself as she took a step away
Kayla followed her step for step. ”I said earlier today, before your antics controlling me led to my parents death, that I would never again let someone take my power from me. And I meant it,” she said as she stalked Nike.
Nike fell backwards as a golden tendril of energy appeared between them, flowing back towards Kayla! ”This...this is impossible!”
”You’ve lost your control over me, you black haired b&&$&! Never again will you treat me like some plaything for you to manipulate! You are through!” Kayla said as she stood imperiously over her. As Nike faded away, the dream visage of Kayla also began losing her blonde hair, the dark silver metallic shade growing out from the roots and erasing her blonde locks.
”No! Wait! Waaaiiiiii-” Nike cries out as she vanished.
The dream suddenly ended, and Kayla slept peacefully the rest of the night.
As they all rushed for the portal, Inquiry momentarily considered snatching up the younger, weaker Dread to incarcerate or destroy her. But no, this place would be prison enough, they supposed. Enough death for one day. Still, they had other duties as well.
Inquiry spat out a few small, inexpensive reconnaissance drones before diving into the portal. He could at least get some data out of this. And just in case, the only thing worth salvaging in the things was their entangled commwire… which would burn out automatically if anyone so much as touched them.
Back in Halcyon, Isaiah grimaced at his door as he considered his power situation. He wasn't going to make Kayla break her word to never let her power be stolen again, and Psyche was feedbacking all her formerly excess energy into self-maintenance. There was still an ambient trickle... but to subsist on that, Isaiah was going to have to cast his net much wider. This was going to be complicated...
Isaiah lurked quietly. He knew he needed to talk to Kayla about the recent mess and what would follow from it, but wanted to wait until a moment when he could be sure that such would be private.
She couldn't help but think that the week before her trial wasn't the right time to cause thousands of dollars of property damage...
They might think it was just some flare of Praetoria's power. Or perhaps just karma for being a bunch of bottom feeding scavengers. Unlikely, that last one...
There were conversations that needed to happen, but she was just too raw. She had a box filled with nothing but screaming over the whole idea of being trapped in hell again, and she needed to let it go first. There really wasn't any kind of talk she wanted to have before then.
The day after Kayla's last dream of Nike, Kylie had to stay in her cocoon. She'd left in the morning and her pure Rage at Nike and Augustus meant that every time she'd as much as twitched her telekinesis it had created a rippling bow wave of force like she hadn't seen since puberty.
She didn't even dare touch anyone's mind.
She couldn't box up this much anger, not safely anyways. She just needed to let it burn.
The next day though, she emerged, reminding herself to be grateful that a day's fasting and meditation was much easier now. She wasn't hungry or thirsty; she hadn't done anything to get dirty, so she didn't need to bathe.
It wasn't really the Judge's fault anyways; it was hers. This was something that Mattered, so she never should have agreed to leave it to someone else in the first place.
But it looked like Kayla had handled it. Kylie would need to check, but she didn't have any reason to doubt her this time... It felt good, clean.
She needed to ride this feeling as much as she could. She didn't split off shards; she might need to know what they were all saying while they were saying it. She didn't want to arrange to meet all of them at the same time by mistake or anything.
So with a bit of a headache she reached out into the aether towards the familiar lights of their minds.
"Kayla? Are you busy? Do you want to talk?"
"Mattie? Are you busy? Can we talk?"
"Shin? Are you busy? We need to talk."
Looks like Psyche hit 5 potential down in Tartarus. After Kayla's dream finally let her see the interfering entity for herself, she's going to go ahead and burn the Judge's influence over her and add +1 Superior. She's quite done with any protestations he might have about being able to protect his family.
Also, I'm somehow missing this - F2B?
And I really like the growing fuel complications for Isaiah. Starting off with the shady, but harmless collection, and having that grow into a situation should be lots of fun :-)
The following morning:
Kayla wakes and makes her way to her bathroom and turns on the shower, adjusting the water temperature to as high as it will go. A few minutes later, she is curled up sitting in the floor of the shower, her knees pulled up to her chest, as she stares numbly at the water as it cascades down onto the shower floor a few inches in front of her.
She then spends the remainder of the day in her room, quietly. She refused any visitors, family or friend. She went between bouts of sobbing as well as hours of quiet reflection.
Kayla finally emerged from her room, wearing baggy sweat pants and a sweatshirt a few sizes too big. Her arms were folded across her chest and lost in the too long sleeves, and her hair was still wet from her morning shower.
”Yes. Yes of course. Are you seriously doubting our ability to pay for it? Yes, the entire plot. You know what for! Look, the damn thing was an eyesore anyway, and we both know you aren’t going to find anyone to put something up there worth anything after what happened,” Angela’s voice preceded her as Kayla slowly made her way barefoot into the living area.
Angela turned and spotted her niece and her face softens. ”Mr. Mayor, I’ll call you back,” she says before hanging up the phone on him.
”Kayla...honey...how you doing? Are you alright?” she asked.
Angela nodded back and headed Kayla’s way, her heels clicking across the marble floor. ”Okay. We need to discuss what you are going to say at the Reception. You will be expected to say somethi-“
”Not right now,” Kayla mumbled.
Angela stopped and her face turned stern. ”Kayla. I know it is hard, but there are things you have to do. Expectations tha-“
”I SAID NOT NOW!!!” Kayla screamed, her eyes flaring with golden energy! The force of the scream caused the reinforced window panes to shake in their frames, and even startled Angela enough to fly backwards reflexively! Freddie and Sarah come bolting into the room, and Mike dropped down through the ceiling from the gym above to see what was wrong.
”I don’t want to talk about this right now! I can’t!” Kayla yelled, her voice at a normal level again. Well...a normal yelling level at least.
”Cuz...” Sarah says sympathetically.
”NO!” Kayla shouts, striding past both her cousins and to the balcony.
”Kayla honey...hang on a second...” her Uncle Mike pleads as he follows after her.
Kayla’s new Regalia caused her baggy clothes to vanish, replaced with the armor, as she takes to the air...
11:00 AM Day 2:
Kayla takes several diversionary laps before landing in an alley and letting the armor fade away, her baggy sweats returning. She let the boots remain beneath the sweat pants until she was approaching the door to Blockbuster, as she reached out to tap the hidden panel that would signal the shelves holding old DVD’s to shift and lead to the elevator when she received Psyche’s mental message.
::No...that depends I guess...but...could someone let me in?::
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
With time passing Scorch and I gain influence over each other and since we both already do we adjust each other's labels. Scorch: Freak up; Mundane down
Rory gave it two days then went to check in on Kayla, and ran into here at Blockbuster's elevator. He offers a slightly startled smile, "hey."
Line of sight made things much easier, but she knew exactly where the button was located that would let Kayla in, so she just pushed it from the hallway as she floated towards where the elevator would arrive.
She always wants to talk face to face. I don't get it...
If the alternative were a phone or a text I'd understand...
Her clothes ruffled gently as she ran telekinetic hands along them to check that they were hanging just so. It was far too early, but today was a new day, and she wasn't going to face it looking like a slob.
Her slacks were anything but, the kind of careful tailoring that would have made it dreadfully clear if she'd gained so much as a pound, and as she landed, the arch of her heels made certain that they were displayed to their best advantage. Her silk blouse was gathered and ruched just so, making certain that the slim, elegant jacket that hung unbuttoned from her slender shoulders didn't do anything to obscure any rounded curves or tautness. Her ears, her neck, her wrists were all adorned with classic, delicate jewelry.
Nothing was in her pinkish purple, everything was silver or clean, pristine white.
She'd foregone any makeup, however. She'd kept smearing, unfamiliar with the new texture and give of her epidermis. So since she needed to weave suggestions to ignore her artificiality anyways, she'd just added a stitch of classy cosmetics to the mix. It's fine. It's barely more tiring, and it's less time consuming anyways.
When the elevator opens, Kayla is the exact opposite in appearance to Psyche. She is dressed in baggy sweatpants and an overly large sweatshirt with sleeves so long you can’t see her hands. She walked in meekly. Her head wasn’t hanging down, but her hair was still wet and she was barefoot. She was still clearly emotionally fragile, but she had a certain sense of resolve in her eyes that made her whole appearance just seem...off.
”Hey,” she said simply.
She didn't really know how to help. She couldn't remember ever feeling anything like what she could feel pouring off of her friend. How could she? Her mom was still fine...
She skimmed forward, stilettos barely brushing the ground as she reached out to put a hand on Kayla's shoulder. "I'm so sorry, I... Is there anything I can do? To help?"
Kayla gave Rory a weak, almost sympathetic smile.
She then turned to Kylie. ”I...I don’t need ANYMORE sympathy, please. I feel s&+!ty enough. I appreciate it, I really do, but it just serves as a constant reminder to me that I failed them than anything.”
She puts a hand on top of Kylie’s, but feeling the non-human synthetic surface made her recoil away, before she steeled herself and said ”If...if you guys would let me, I’d like to say something to everyone...if that’s okay?”
Feeling Kayla steel herself afterwards hurt almost as much as the flare of disgust, but she wasn't shrinking away. It's fine. Just remember to make it tactile too. You can do that. Especially if it's just a hand on a hand. It's fine.
She left the same sense of pressure and presence there, but gently withdrew her physical hand.
"Kayla, you don't need our permission to talk to us. You're still on the team, if you want to be."
Gonna give some folks some outs, if they don’t wanna be present for any reason:
Kayla nods and heads off to the common area. She grabs a bean bag chair and drags it over to the middle of the room, dropping it down in front of the TV so that the other chairs, and Sentinels, would be facing her. She flops down into it and sits in it cross legged, her long sleeves dangling past her hands as she sits there with them in her lap.
”I just wanted to say...I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to this team. My actions are ultimately my fault, no matter my excuses. But...I wanted you guys to know what was actually going on without me even knowing,” she says. She takes a deep breath and continues, ”So...like...I dunno how to describe it. But I think that, probably ever since I got my powers, I haven’t been truly myself. At least, I don’t think I was. I don’t know it’s so confusing. But, I was, up until now, I think being used as a puppet by someone named Nike. I dunno why she was named after a shoe, but that’s what she called herself. For the first few years, I think she was being sneaky...influencing my actions subconsciously. But the last little while, since before I joined the Sentinels...I think she was being more direct. She was making me do things...embarrassing things,” her eyes dart between Rory and Mattie, ”She was trying to drive a wedge into this team, trying to alienate me from having any friends. Her plan probably worked...I don’t expect you guys to forgive me. For any of it. For getting between a brother and sister. For causing strain between friends. For...hurting Mattie and for Kylie losing....losing her humanity...” her lips start quivering as she rattles off all of her sins, and she hangs her head.
She takes a shaky breath in before continuing. ”There’s just so much she’s made me do. But it’s my fault for letting her. But...she’s gone. I cast her out. Cut her connection to me off. She’s not strong enough to control me anymore.”
She unfolds her legs and stands up. ”I...I still would like to be a part of the Sentinels, if you’ll have me. But...please...please can we not talk about...about them? I’m...I’m going to have to hear about them so much in the near future...I am hoping I can turn to you guys to get away from all that. But...if you don’t want to have anything to do with me...I understand...” she finishes stoically, looking ahead past everyone like a prisoner awaiting sentencing.
Isaiah... either maintained a cheerful façade, or was genuinely unbothered.
"Hey, I'm not going to judge you based on things you did under someone else's mental influence. That's her offense, not yours. I'm starting to wonder if we need to put the whole team through a thorough scan for mental hitchhikers, though. And maybe some therapy. As for the rest... the past is in the past. Trying to go back to change it is often a terrible idea. Much better to improve and move forward, learn from mistakes. Make sure things go better next time."
Comfort?: 2d6 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (4, 4) + 1 - 2 = 7
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
|Shin "Horizon" Akebono|
That was something that Shin could clearly define as what he felt at the moment. Or rather, what he'd been feeling for the past couple of days.
He'd gone back to see Hoshiko and make sure that she was being treated well and that they had some time to talk. It was nice to have family. It was also painful for him, because he missed the family he'd left behind. But for her sake he pushed through that heartache, covered it up with tales of alley ball and getting into scraps with the white boys in the neighborhood.
He knew he had to talk to Psyche, but he was putting things off. He was still afraid that she wouldn't want him anymore. He wanted to be with her, but without her body, did she even feel the same way anymore? The lack of biological stimulus might just blunt her ability to feel anything. It terrified him.
He was also still particularly sore regarding Praetoria as well. Part of him wanted to be understanding, wanted to give her the time to cope with her loss. The other part just wanted her to learn how to control her emotions so she wasn't sobbing half the time like a pulp fiction broad in a cheap novella. It was a heated thought brought about by his frustrations, and he knew he was better than saying as such.
When the meeting was called, Shin was in the base, reading some history books on the Civil Rights Movement. Mostly because the research into his past and future alike kept his mind occupied away from his worst thoughts. He closed the volume in order to listen to Kayla, avoiding looking at Psyche even though he'd heard her need for them to talk.
He listened as Praetoria told the tale, and despite everything, he didn't find himself relieved that she had apparently been enthralled by a Greek goddess. Part of him thought that telling them this didn't matter, that she was trying to create sympathy. It was clearly irrational of him, so he kept it to himself.
At the end of it all, after Isaiah said his piece, Shin spoke up. "You know, there's a voice that tells me to do bad things. Everyone has one, as I've learned. It's called your ego, and it wants you to do what's best for you regardless of anyone else," He points out. "I've had trouble controlling my ego at times too. I'm having trouble controlling it right now."
He exhales slowly. "We all have to learn to keep our egos in check if we want the team to work. Everyone of us."
Shin opened himself up to Psyche.
MORE CRAPPY EXCUSES
Can she love me in that body?
I HATE DUSK I HATE KAYLA I HATE MYSELF
Does she even want a real body? Is she happier like this?
Dueling voices in Shin's head, Ego and Insecurity, whisper to him as he sits on a throne of vantablack in his mind, waiting for her and trying to ignore the impulses of his chaotic mind.
"...let's talk, Kylie."
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
Rory rolls his eyes at Shin's statement. "In a room with elemental manipulators, an alien, a psychic, an irradiated time traveler, is it so difficult to believe that the teen superhero who inherits her powers and who was the victim of mind control by the time traveler's future self that some other supernatural being could attempt to directly influence or control a mortal, albeit a super powerful one? This is almost as bad as your back handed apology," Rory huffs, "for all we know her and her family are descended from gods. But maybe we could use less judgmental b*~&%!+# right now."
"Kayla, can I speak to you in the gym, alone, there is just some stuff... I want to cover...." Rory asks clearly having trouble selecting the right words.
Kayla looks anxiously at Rory’s scathing remarks to Shin. She had thought about retorting herself, but decided that wasn’t what the team needed right now. So she just nodded and followed Rory out of the room.
Kayla quietly walked behind Rory, her bare feet padding along the floor. Once to the gym, she moseyed over to the punching bag, pushing it gently as she waited for Rory to say what he wanted to say.
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
Pacing Rory starts and stops speaking several times, "So... was dating me an embarrassment that you were forced into?" he finally got out somewhat shaking just full of nervous energy.
Shin's wave of fears and urges washed over her and she forced herself to carefully gather and hold them outside of her. She kept their connection open though, like a hand placed gently, but firmly on his chest. "Shin. We do need to talk about all those things. You didn't want to talk earlier; that's... fine. I can't talk about all of that right now though. What Kayla's been going through is more than just saying no. If anything she was trying too hard to fight and overcome it. Shaming her isn't going to change that."
More broadly she projected, "I think we'll need to talk about when and how this... Nike first took up residence. Just to make sure she's really gone and any other entities can't slide in. But as for the rest, an apology is a good start where you actually were... involved. You know how I feel about the ways you were combating this influence beforehand; I'm glad it will be easier for you going forward. But... you didn't have anything to do with what happened to my previous body. You don't need to apologize for that.
"And of course I want you on the team."
”I know you may not think that...but it WAS my fault. I couldn’t break free of her control, and those aliens looked like they used my powers to create their weapon. And that weapon did...did this to you. So it IS my fault...and I am so sorry. I know we’ve had our...our disagreements...but I would have never wished for this...”
Kayla knew this was going to come up. How couldn’t it?
”No Rory...that’s not what I’m saying at all,” she says as she walks over to the bench and sits down, leaning over and resting her elbows onto her knees. ”But, like, I don’t know exactly what was her and what was me. I dunno if I can explain it right, but I...I just can’t trust what happened before as being truly me, or if it was some part of that things twisted plan. Hell. As far as I know, this may be the first time you and me have actually talked. But, I think in all fairness to everyone, I need to just take building my friendships here back one step at a time, with everyone. And if something develops, and I feel like I’m more than friends with someone, I’ll cross that bridge then. But I don’t want to lead anyone on this time, it’s not fair to anyone of us, or the team,” she says as she looks over at Rory. ”But...I do care for you, Ror. But...I also have feelings for...well,” she blushes and hangs her head.
She starts to tear up, but wipes her eyes on the sagging sleeve of her sweatshirt. ”And I’m done crying!” she rants to herself as she stands up and starts pacing. ”I’m not some weak thing in need of being coddled and fawned over! I am Kayla Taylor! Daughter of the Praetorian and Ultra-Star!” she fumes. ”I don’t HAVE to apologize for how I feel! Nor should I! So yes! I do have feelings for everyone on this team! And thanks to that b!*@& Nike, I can’t tell if it’s just friendship, or love, or lust, F@~@ IF I KNOW!” she shouts as she punches the punching bag, knocking it off its hinges and tearing it in half!
She is breathing hard and her irises have shifted to a bright yellow, but as she calms they fade back to their natural hue. ”Sorry...I’m not mad at you, or any of them. I’m...I’m still mad at HER!”
From the other room, Kylie can feel Kayla thinking her way. ”Yeah...can you take a look...make sure I’ve gotten her out?”
Kayla sits back down beside Rory and puts her sweatshirt covered hand on his. ”But...I think...I think we need to have a sit down with the team and convince Mattie to let Psyche take a look. I’m pretty sure she got drug into the same thing I was dealing with...because of me...”
Psyche's sending was sharp but precise, each bladed edge of hurt or anger carefully turned away from Kayla's mind, "Their weapon didn't do this, Kayla. It was barely tangentially related. Even if it had, that would make it their choice to create it, and their choice to wield it. I know you were unconscious then, so I don't know where you got your information from, but if it was Dread or Nike, you should consider the source more carefully. You can blame Rendezvous, or Shin, or Apotheosis if you feel a need to do so, but in the end this came from my decisions, and from relying on others too much. You might as well blame The Crab as yourself."
"Of course I'll take a look. This will be easier if we have some time and a place to meditate. There's no need to make this more difficult by doing it at extension."
|Rory "Frostbite" Noble|
Damn, I was hoping for 'No, I love you, we can pick up where we left off' but I guess it could be worse, a twinge of disappointment could be seen on Rory's face as he listens to Kayla. As she finishes Rory hugs her, "I'm just you're back in one piece. You know where to find me if you need anything."
|Ness "Gallowglass" MacDonnell|
When the Sentinels Escaped From Hades, Gallowglass waved goodbye and quickly disappeared. It was SOOOOO good to see everyone again, and to wear my costume again, but I've got to double-down on my undercover work at Infini-Corp...right?!?
She told herself that night, as she brushed her teeth that is was for the best. And that the Sentinals have powerhouses like Psyche and Praetoria, they don't need a girl with a bow anyway.
Then in the morning she woke with a gasp, and shook her head.
Now, at Sentinels HQ
The doorbell rings, and in comes Ness and Bear. "Uh, hey guys. I...it was great to get to work alongside you yesterday.
"I've been thinking how the best thing I can do for us is to stay in deep cover with InfiniCorp--and obviously you all are just fine without me--but I...well I can't get the bug out of my head so...
"Would you mind if I re-activated? Maybe I can go to part-time with InfiniCorp so I can be around a little more often. You know, to help you all save the Universe!" She grins at her old teammates.
An current of surprise, delight, and amusement carried Psyche's words along, "Well, I suppose if it's the only to get Bear back on the team..."
|Shin "Horizon" Akebono|
I wasn't trying to belittle her - I was saying I understand what it's like to struggle with my urges, Shin protests. Yet Kayla was already gone. How had his words of encouragement to her gotten twisted?
Well, he supposed his frustrated thoughts probably had something to do with them, for one.
I want to talk to you, Kylie. I want to try and communicate. I don't want-
Shin's emotions were as complex and mixed as they possibly could be. His mindscape was a complete wreck, falling apart on the inside while he was constantly papering over cracks in his mansion of the mind. Yet with her presence, he was actually starting to notice the decay and debris strewn about his mind.
Outside, Shin opened his eyes and looked at Gallowglass. He was glad for her return. It was good to have her around again, though he didn't think that this would be some magical fix to the team's problems. "It's good to have you back. Gallowglass too," he added, looking at Bear and hoping that his joke wouldn't be misinterpreted.