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Nancy Street, Oct. 17th 10:47PM

 

It was a relatively quiet night on Nancy street.  Gunfire could be heard in the distance, a woman's scream, a child crying, the sounds of domestic disturbances and aggravated assaults, and of course after the screams faded to whimpers, the sounds of sirens.  All in all, a quiet night in comparison to most.  

 

The rain had started to fall on Bedlam City, doing it's level best to wash the grime and the muck and the human refuse away.  To leave the world clean and new again.  Bedlam, and Nancy street in particular, would not be so easily swept away.  It's stain marked the states, the world, a dark black spot on a hardwood floor that refused to come up no matter how much you scrubbed.  Bedlam was the reminder of mistakes past, of wrongs done, of lives lost.

 

A strange sound over the din of inequity peeled through the air of Nancy street.  The church bells started to ring.  No mass anyone knew of was taking place, it was no holiday, it was not quite midnight.  The crystal clang of that pure sound seemed both off and ominous, and many lights turned on in the houses and tenements, this sound above all others piqueing the curiosity of the jaded residents.  As the bells faded there was a knock on Ronin's door.

 

Downtown Bedlam

Abandoned Mill

 

It was a quiet and dark place that Victor popped into, stepping out of the shadows.  This was not part of his contract with the Scarpias, but old habits died hard, and he needed to destroy something... precious.  No one was in at the moment, as he had made sure, it wasn't time for justice to be meted out, it was time for the chase.

 

Victor laid the parchment he brought on a dresser and pinned it in place with a dagger, it's hilt in the style of a rose dripping blood, the symbol of his old Order.  The parchment read:

 

The Church on Nancy Street.  Come find me, or I find those you hold dear.

 

There was no signature.

 

Victor smiled again as he melted back in the shadows.  The petty thugs might be upset that he was bringing an uninvited guest, but he cared little.  They were nothing, he did work for them to pay bills, so he could do his real Work.

 

The game had begun.

Edited by EviscerusNox

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Ronin

 

"What the hell? Church bells? Some kids broken in again, I guess..." sighed Jack Crane. He had a beer in hand, slumped on the sofa watching some dreary cable TV. 

 

Curtis swung up from the beaten up chair by Jack's side. He was about to reply when the knock came. 

 

"Stay there, Jack..." he said, quietly. 

 

"What else I am going to do? Lost my legs five years ago, remember?" said Jack pointing at his war wounds. Bilateral leg amputation. He got on fine, but that last vestige of bitterness never quite went. 

 

Curtis put his finger to his lips. His weapons were downstairs, hidden in "the well" beneath the family home. He didn't have time to get them. 

 

But he could handle a few punks without any problems. 

 

So silently, he went to the door and opened it boldly...

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As the door opened lightning brightened the scene outside.  A small man in a priests habit that was soaked and hanging about his wiry frame stood in the doorway.  Rain and blood mixed and ran down the man's face, pooling around his collar staining it pink.  One eye was completely swollen shut, the other had a deep gash beneath it.  It was obvious from the man's breathing that he had at least some broken ribs, possibly internal bleeding.  The priest looked up wobbly and spoke barely above a whisper.

 

"Curtis... Scarpias... in the church...ghost..." everything else was lost to the wind and the priest's eyes rolled in the back of his head as he slumped forward, passing out on Curtis' shoulder.

 

And outside the thunder rolled.

Edited by EviscerusNox

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The Sunhawk wanted to fly in through the boarded-up stained glass windows and smite all those who had dared threaten her family. 

 

Anna Cline wanted to fortify her stronghold and wait for the enemy to come to her - and her well-armed allies. 

 

Lady Horus split the difference - or at least took a third option. She flew faster than the eye could see to the church roof and landed there, a bright beacon of shimming golden light to anyone capable of seeing her. Not that most people could see her, invisible, silent, and out of phase with normal reality as she prowled the church rooftop, glowing ankh in hand. Invisibly smashing her way through the roof would certainly catch the attention of whoever lay within, but in the wrong ways just now, so she looked for a way inside. She'd been in the game a long time - it wasn't the first time her loved ones had been used as bait. 

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Ronin

 

"Aww hell..." muttered Curtis, dragging  the priest indoors and painting the floor claret as he did. 

 

"Jack, sober up and get the damn med kit!" he yelled at Jack. True, Jack was a bilateral amputee, but he was a marine. He had the will to act even if disabled. And Jack has seen worse than this. He had been worse than this. 

 

Curtis dragged the Priest to the floor and opened up the medical kit. He was no medic, but he knew a bit about trauma from his time in the army. Seen some nasty things. Pulse, thready, respiratory rate, ragged. Best case, just passed out from pain and concussion. Worse case, bleeding to death internally. 

 

"He said something about the Church..." he explained to Jack as he tried to stabilise the Priest. It had been some time, but a bit of his training came back. 

 

"I should check it out..." he muttered. 

 

"You, or Ronin?" asked Jack, knowing the answer. 

 

"I'll get my coat..." answered Curtis, ready to don the coat and katana of Ronin...

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By the time Curtis came back dressed in trenchcoat and sporting Katana, the priest was breathing easier on the floor, still unconscious, but in less obvious pain.  It seemed he would survive, at least in the interim.  The rain poured heavily on the streets outside and the glow from the streetlights reflected jumpily off puddles and slick asphalt.  The church was a mere half a block away, which explained how the priest could manage to walk that distance on his own, but that was still quite a walk to do with no one noticing a priest in distress.  Of course, it didn't surprise Curtis that no one helped the priest.  This was Nancy Street.  This was Bedlam.  

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Ronin

 

Curtis walked carefully down Nancy street, not too fast, not too slow. Eyes and ears open. 

 

Damn mystery. 

 

The priest would live, at least. Ain't nobody deserved to die, least not on Ronin's watch. Not if he could help it. 

 

He stopped outside the Church, studying it. How the hell did the priest get from here to my house? And how did he know to get to my house? I gotta rep, that's true...but he was busted up bad...and nobody knows Ronin lives under the house. Well, nobody I know of...

 

Contemplation would not give further answers, but it instilled a reflective mood which would, he judged, served well. This was not of the ordinary. 

 

No sense barging in all gung-ho...

 

Instead, he would creep through the shadows, and scout the church...

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The inside of the church was all the things that one would expect, tall vaulted ceiling, ornate tapestries and stained glass windows, but there was something very different about the people inside the church than your normal worshippers.

 

Roughly a dozen men in disheveled and ill fitting suits meandered around and through the pews, each holding a sub machine gun and looking like they knew their way around it.  Also, at the back of the room (or front depending on your view) a glowing blue figure lay chained to an alter, a circle drawn around the alter with what looked to be a cross inside a 5 pointed star running through the circle.  The chains around the figure glowed a green sickly light and were clearly translucent.

 

Kneeling before this strange alter was a man who looked very out of time.  He was dressed head to toe in white, a gleaming silver breastplate adorned his chest with a filligree rose stamped into it, and a large red cross was painted on his white cloak.  Lady Horus could see his lips moving but from the outside of the building no sound could be heard.  

 

From a window Lady Horus spied a trip wire along the front doors to the cathedral, it was not clear what this wire ran to, but after seeing it on the door she could see it's like along every window and every opening into the church from the outside.

 

Ronin, for his part, was confident in his sneaking, and none had noticed his passing.

Edited by EviscerusNox

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Ronin

 

What's this, some damn cult?

 

Whatever it was, they were well armed. And...well, it was not quite clear what they were doing. Even if it was unlikely that a Church would be appropriated for such activities. The chains, for one, were not a good sign. But what were they chaining. 

 

Ronin stroked his carefully trimmed beard, wondering what to do. 

 

No action is an action. 

 

No decision is a decision. 

 

He could not stand idly by and watch. The priest, for one, had been in a mess. He was outmanned, and outgunned, but then so be it. 

 

"You there!" he called from outside, aware that he would lose the element of surprise. But again, so be it. He would not fire first. 

 

"What you doing on Nancy Street?" he shouted, full of demanding tones. 

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Lady Horus ran. She ran to the doors and pulled the wires. She ran to the windows and pulled the wires. Anna Cline had once been able to run fast enough to make the Centurion look like a fool - fast enough to leave the sound of her own laughter in the dust and to nearly catch particles of light. That was what controlling time meant - it meant you were faster than speed itself. But that had been a long time ago - and she'd been a very different woman then. 

 

She was still, however, remarkably fast - and within the space of a second or two, she had triggered every single wire inside the church. She figured there probably wasn't a bomb; button men were often stupid but they were basically cowards, and so they wouldn't stand there in the middle of a place wired to blow up. She wouldn't even have worried about some maniac like that in Freedom - but Bedlam had a lot of maniacs. Figuring that the guy by the altar was probably the head wack-a-doo, she appeared behind him. The effect was like a sunburst for onlookers as she dialed her speed down and her divine power up, the sudden flare of light making it look as though she'd stepped out of a yellow solar flash of pure divine power. "Lo! The Sunhawk is here!" she declared, her voice stentorian like a Shakespearean actor, before smashing her double-bladed ankhs directly at the back of the man's head.

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Ronin

 

What the seven hells was that? Ronin instinctively ducked as he saw the flash of light from within the church. But he felt no shockwave, heard no explosion, and the glass did not explode outwards.

 

Still, his heart damn near blew out of his chest and he felt a cold sweat in his palms. 

 

Damn...never going to get use to bombs...

 

Or perhaps he was to used to them. Spent half his time in the army disarming the damn things. Saw some hell when they went off. Kind of carnage a man never forgets. Hell, Jack lost his legs to one of them. 

 

Whatever was going down, it had just dialled up to ten. 

 

 

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The small shape charges blew out most of the doors and windows of the church, the large wooden double doors in the front of the church turned to flying kindling and landed in the street to be put out by the rain.  Only one of the explosions managed to catch the speeding Lady Horus, but it wasn't enough of an impact to slow her.

 

As Lady Horus' ankh came down at the man's head he fluidly shifted his head to the side, spinning as he did, the attack missing by a mile.  The man slowly stood, brandishing a wicked looking weapon, it's shaft was made of dark wood and protruding from it were several tails of barbed wire all crackling with angry red energy.  The weapon let out audible hissing and popping noises as it seemed to whip and snake at the man's side of it's own volition.

 

"I could smell you coming a mile away, tainted one.  The stink of foul magics is upon you.  I may have been contracted by these petty criminals to exorcise this ethereal pest,"  the man waved a hand at the ghostlly man that was somehow tied to the floor inside the magic circle.  He seemed to be writhing in pain.  "But you I will dispatch for the sheer joy, and at no extra fee to my employers."  The man flicked the scourge and a thunderous boom resounded through the church as he took up a defensive stance.  His stark features were pulled into a malicious grin and his skin was flushed with evident excitement.  "Now you will see how my scourge, Witchbreaker, lives up to it's name!"

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Ronin

 

This was some serious voodoo. Ronin had heard of magic and sorcery, but damned if he had ever seen it. What the hell was this? Ghosts and spirits. Warlocks and witches. 

 

Damned if it was gonna go down on Nancy street. 

 

He flicked a switch on his gun and heard a little sizzle of chemical magic. Gunpowder could do all sorts of tricks with the right heat and chemicals. Right now, he needed to get this party stopped. He smashed the window, briefly lamenting the destruction of church glass, and pressed the trigger. 

 

The shell lobbed through the air landing in the centre of that very party, exploding into a sulphurous smoke one could barely see six inches through. 

 

"Take you goddamn sorcery out of Nancy street!" he called in. 

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Lady Horus felt a brief moment of panic, thinking of the Hammer of Justice's gas grenades, but the smell of this stuff was all wrong. Improvising on the fly, she stepped 'back' out of the range of the smoke cloud and laughed. Tainted one, heh! This bozo's got no idea! "You have bombed a temple of thine own god and you are breathing the stink of thy failure," she said, leaning on her ankh as if it were a walking stick and she Ginger Rogers. "If there is a taint here, thou jackanape nameless one, it is thine.And I'm gonna hit you in it for threatening my girl, you cheese-eating sonofabitch! Turning to the obvious button-men around her, who staggered by the blasts were just reaching for their guns, she grinned and hefted her ankhs again. "But first, these foolish men will learn what it means to stand against the Sunhawk! Hah!" Anna Cline had spent years fighting mobsters - when they'd tried to muscle in on her turf or screw her out of a deal, anyway. If she'd learned one thing, guys who fought with guns didn't like to fight girls with powers. That was why having powers was so great! With a smile, she turned to the nearest goon and struck him across the torso with her ankh, smashing him straight up and into the ceiling with a loud crunch. Who's next for the dance?

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In less than an instant four of the Scarpias goons were relieved of their consciousness as they fell before the blinding speed and strength of the Sunhawk.  In seconds guns, teeth and men all clattered to the carpeted floor of the church.  This shook the remaining goons but they shakily raised their weapons anyway, preparing the weapons and their shaking hands to fire at the blur of motion that was the hero. They weren't used to such displays of power, but the maniacal laugh of the man in armor amidst the smoke seemed to give them back some of their spine.  Many set their faces with grimaces of resolve, others visibly shook their heads, trying to banish the dark thoughts.  One graying button man even breathed out, "I'm too old for this sh-"

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Ronin

 

Mobsters didn't belong in Nancy Street. Hell, they don't belong anywhere but doing time behind bars...but especially, they didn't belong in Nancy Street. 

 

He had no idea who was fighting them. But an enemy of mine enemy....

 

With a flash he twisted the choke on Katana, flicked a switch, and set the gun. 

 

"The Hornet's Nest..." he said softly. The astute may have heard, and wondered of its meaning. But this soon became apparent when he squeezed the trigger. Out of Katana flew a swarm of buzzing pellets, ready to bruise and batter any in their path...

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As the pellets found their homes in four of the goons, moans and grunts answered the boom of the gun.  It was impossible for Ronin to see the men drop but the man in gleaming plate striding out of the smoke was plain as day.  The scourge at his side crackled as he whipped it around in the air before sending it's barbed lashes towards Lady Horus.  At the last second the barbs twisted, wrapping around the handle of her ankh.  

 

"Let us see just how confident you are without your sinful and blasphemous symbol, witch!"  The man snarled before yanking with all his might on the shaft, attempting to remove the ankh from the Sunhawk's grasp.

 

At the same point the mafiosos finally got their acts and guns together and fired at the Sunhawk, however all of them being so shaken by the antics performed by the glowing woman all the bullets went wide to smash what was left of stained glass windows and hammer into old wooden pews.  It was lucky no parishioners were present as there would have certainly been unintended casualties.

Edited by EviscerusNox

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"Curses, my ankh!" declared Lady Horus, her arms thrown wide as Witchfinder ripped the ankh right out of her hand. "Without it, I am-" She put her hands behind her back and came back with two ankhs, each one blazing with the fury of the avenging sun, just as the ankh in Witchfinder's lash vanished like a candleflame being blown out. "-HORUS REBORN, FOOL!" She punctuated the last two words by leaping into the air, arms spread wide, and smashing the butt of her swords into the sides of the Witchfinder's head enough to make it ring right through his armor. She leaped backwards, calling to her newfound ally, "Lo! It seems this blaggard doth protest too much!" 

 

 

"

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