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Supercape

Sting in the Tail

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Cassidy glared at Abdul for a moment. So the leaf would help him get out of here? Figures. He had a few left over still. Two or three. It had already been a good idea to bring them along, judging from the interaction with the snakemen. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a single leaf and held it out to Abdul. "Use it right, then. This is the last of them you'll see. Get Sting out of here, go get the lady you'd left in the desert and get to a hospital. I will find you when I get out of here. You better have done as I told you when I do."

 

He turned Venomax and nodded. "Yeah. Might as well get this over with. I don't feel that we can trust those two." At least Venomax had proven himself to be surprisingly trustworthy. That was nice, at least. This would have gone much worse if he had been on his own. Continuing, he moved towards the snakemen. Raising a closed fist, the back of his hand turned to them, he repeated what they had said. "Setho." Then he turned his hand, pointing into the jungle. Lead the way.

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GM

 

And so...

 

Abdul, his loyalties dividied, had clearly enough of the rich kid in him to find the prospect of leaving modern cons unpalatable at best. He had lead the grumbling Mr. Sting back to the mesa - although quite how that fractious relationship would play out was anyones guess. 

 

Meanwhile, the Lemurian riders were riding on their steeds. The jungle was thick but they obviously knew their way around the wood and fiolage. There was bird song and fruit. insects buzzed, and reptiles slithered. The jungle was beautiful and hideously alive. 

 

It was about an hour walking through oppressive heat and oppresive humidity; Dust Devil and Venomax might have made faster pace courtesy of super powers, but they were limited by the pace of the Lemurians. 

 

They came to a depression in the jungle, where the trees were taller, the shade mercifully cooler, and a suggestion - so subtle - that the flora was more gnarled and twisted, somehow. Fruits were rotten or burting ripe, and the faintest sickly sweet smell wafter in the air. 

 

In the centre of the depression, encased in vines and creepers, a crumbling ruined temple of some sort...

 

"Setho!"

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Hot and dry. Cassidy could deal with all that, sure. Came with the territory. But this? Hot, humid, his clothes clinging to his body with sweat? Far less comfortable. During the hour that they walked, he found himself reaching for his beard several times, stroking it without really thinking about it. He thought it looked good, and it did, but it really wasn't comfortable in a heat like this. His mask didn't help much either, but he had only just met Venomax. Didn't know how far he could trust him. During the walk, he tried asking about the other man. Where he operated, what he could do, things like that. Cassidy even shared a bit about himself, being chosen to protect the Mesa, and trying to protect Southside back in Freedom City. Some about his powers, being made of sand, being strong. Flight. He left out the part about having died. No reason to share that. Maybe knowing just a bit about each other could help them in fight with Setho that was sure to come.

 

Finally, they reached the ruins of a temple. The Lemurian leader made it quite clear what waited them in there. Setho, indeed. Cassidy nodded in recognition. Either he was in there, or it was his place. Maybe even where he grew the damn leaves. Fine, he'd trash the entire place if necessary. He turned to Venomax. "How about we start with a stealthy approach? Depending on when we have arrived, we might be here before Setho know about us. If not, he'll probably be waiting. We can just as well try to make sure he doesn't see us." 

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Venomax felt his skin sweltering beneath his suit, it was far from comfortable it did afford him an advantage, with his sweat glands now in full swing from the heat and humidity his venom tanks were quickly replenished.

 

He answered the questions in kind, telling dust devil of his powers and their nature, that he was primarily based in emerald city and had used his civilian job to make the journey out east to study the fauna of the boarderlands of the mesa both out of scientific curiosity and for use in his crime fighting.

 

"Safe doses of course."

 

As they drew up on the temple he hardly needed to consider the proposal of a stealthy approach.

 

"We're going in anyway right? Might as well go in with as many advantages as we can grab....though the cobra commandos might favor the headlong approach"

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As it so happened, the Lemurians dismounted. Stealth was all very good, but not so easy riding a velociraptor (or what ever their mounts where). Lances were put to one side, and curved knives drawn. By the way they glistened, Mr. Sting would have been most interested in their chemical composition. 

 

The temple was through thick vines and trees but easy enough to get to, if laborious. Up close, it was crumbling, almost at risk of collapse. Moss and creepers filled the holes and large cracks in the grey ancient stones. All sorts of enterances might have presented themselves under the fiolage, but the most obvious one was the main archway. Up and down the entrance, small statuettes of ancient perverse Gods and Goddesses doing ancient and perverse things in some kind of spasmic dance gave an unsettling impression of just whom this temple might be dedicated too...

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Cassidy turned to dust. A man of sand was easier to hide than one of flesh and blood, at least. Using his advantage, he led the way into the temple. He would peek around any corner, listen to any sound. If he could spot a threat before they were spotted... well, he could use the full force of the sand form.

 

Time travel or not, this was still the Mesa. It was still a question of finding the right path into the temple. The relics, statues and any writing on the walls. He tried to remember. Anything that his predecessors knew, anything that a former Dust Devil might have discovered about the arcane world that he could use. Was it Setho? Was it something else, darker and even older? 

 

Did it matter in the long run, as long as they stopped it? Maybe, but right now, it was still above Cassidy's paygrade to figure things like that out.

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As knowledgeable as the Dust Devil was, the statues contorting around the archway were beyond his comprehension. He had the feeling that if he studied them too long, they would be beyond his sanity, too. They were not meant for human eyes. 

 

And even the Lemurian riders seemed to register disgust - even fear - at the ghastly scultpures. They pointed their spears into the temple, but seemed to prefer bringing up the rear. 

 

They were afraid. 

 

Although, to their credit, they mastered their fear, and moved as silently as one could have hoped for. The stone underneath wobbled at times, and the place echoed as they entered. It was a little dusty, and despite the blazing sunshine, the light was dim - beams of dusted light peppered the interior of the temple, seeping in almost languidly through the cracks in the stones. 

 

Venomax was about to step forward when he spotted it. 

 

A trap!

 

A suspiciously discoloured stone on the floor, an inch from his about to descend boot. And to either side, suspicious holes in the walls...ready to fire a stream of poison darts that would make Mr. Sting lament his absence even more!

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Even as strange as the Lemurians seemed, Cassidy thought he could understand that feeling they were feeling right now. Deep, intense fear. They hid it well, but there were something about the way the moved that just seemed to radiate that fear. He didn't blame them. However they felt about Setho, they were afraid, and probably rightly so. Was this what his life was going to be like from now on, then? Going to strange places, solving problems that shouldn't be his own? 

 

Venomax spotted the trap. Cassidy cursed at himself for not doing so, but at he didn't trigger it in this form. "Good find." He kept his voice low as he complimented Venomax, then looked ahead. He would be fine going in here, the others, probably not. Was there more like these? He would have to be on guard.

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It was a common misconception that fear was evil or bad, it much like its equally misunderstood brother pain was a form of primal wisdom of what was dangerous to you and an awareness of your situation, they and the ability to communicate these feelings and observations had played a key roll in humanities rise in times primeval.

 

if vernon had not been afraid of setting off a trap or otherwise endangering himself or others it would be unlikely that he would've been looking for any such dangers was a more immediate and personal claim in its favor.

 

Responding to dust devil with a simple thumbs up to avoid making undo noise he slowly and deceptively calmly placed his foot back from the pressure plate and made his way around it.

 

Panic and hesitation were the true mindkillers, responding to the discomfort of fear with chaotic irrationality or inaction were what got people killed in situations where fear ran high.

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Three spears behind them wavered slightly, as the Lemurians followed Venomax's actions with their black serpentine eyes. 

 

Yes. Traps!

 

Lemurians did not sweat. They were retile men built for heat. It was hard to read their retilian faces, hard to see the flick of muscles under the scales, hard to penetrate the black eyes to see what wheels turned within their skulls. 

 

But even so, one could feel their fear. And fear begat aggression. 

 

Not towards Venomax or the Dust Devil. At least not yet, but they seemed to view the pair as tools in their mission, not allies to whom loyalty and empathy might hold sway. And their fear was like a powder keg. Spears and knives were grasped tightly, on coiled limbs ready to lance out. 

 

And they pointed down the temple. 

 

Onward!

 

Like canary birds in a mine. 

Edited by Supercape

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Cassidy wasn't so sure that he liked the way the Lemurians pointed with their spears. They were afraid, he was pretty sure of that. Couldn't blame them, really. This wasn't a great place for a trip, and they clearly knew more about Setho than he did. Could they trust the snakemen to keep their spears pointed the right direction, even after they dealt with Setho? Cassidy was starting to worry that might be a problem. He pushed the thought away. For now, they were on the same side. One problem at a time, else he would go crazy with worry.

 

He continued further into the temple, his sand form moving slowly forward above the ground, drifting, almost as if on the wind. The place had traps, so he kept watch for those now. Sentries? Maybe, they hadn't seen any yet, but if Setho controlled all the poisonous bugs and critters in the jungle, there was no telling what could suddenly happen.

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Trust was a funny thing, these lemurians were allies of oppertunity it seemed eager to use them as coal mine canaries and cannon fodder against setho, that marked them as cunning but cowardly, they would look for oppertunities of acceptable risk which would be minimal for them personally and unlimited for vernon and ally.

 

He could depend on them to act in certain ways to certain stimuli as all life did, that they were sapient made them much more complex but no different.

 

By that metric they could be manipulated and controlled by what oppertunities he allowed them or denied them in that he could trust as much as he could that they would leave him to die if he fell victim to any of the traps in the temple or setho himself.

 

Trust was a funny thing like that.

 

He didnt let his ponderment distract him over much though as he scanned carefully for discoloured stone indicating new additions or avoided areas and uneven surfaces that might betray mechanisms or maintainance access.

 

It would be unwise to allow an accomplished villain to spring any suprises on them.

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The temple was not large, although progress was understandably slow. A few more suspect stones were noted on the floor, and duly avoided. It did not help that the light was so dim. 

 

In the centre of the temple, with beams of shattered light falling from the broken roof ahead, was a temple to most horrible gods. The statues here were strange and disturbing, and built at odd angles giving everything a giddying, almost nauseating appearance. In various pots and urns, the Dust Devil could see the strange magic leaf growing...

 

In the centre of the forbidden temple, Setho awote, dressed in yellow robes, his eyes red and black, a serpent coiling around his body. 

 

"You are...persssistent!" he croaked. 

 

The three Lemurian riders pointed spears at the mad sorcerer, their fear and loathing oozing from their hissing tongues. 

Edited by Supercape

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The leaves were everywhere in this room. This was it, then. Setho's seat of power. His domain. He had the home field advantage here, but they knew that already. The statues were strange. Even stranger than before. Just looking at them made Cassidy feel weird. Out of sorts with himself. 

 

And there was Setho. Ready for them, waiting for them. No chance of surprising him, then. And they had come to a when after he had first found them. Figures. Of course the Mesa wouldn't try to make this easy for them. 

 

Looking at his companions, it was clear what the Lemurians wanted to do. Spears and fangs. They would kill Setho, if given the chance. Fine, if it came to that. He was not about to stop them. Cassidy looked to Venomax. "We gotta be ready, if he calls more vermin. And that snake around him doesn't look too kind." Cassidy had his own plans. Find out if Setho was really here. And go straight for him. Be quick, be strong. Hit him as hard as he could, as quick as he could.

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Venomax nodded in acknowledgement to Dustdevil's whispers as he took stock of his surroundings too, it was likely that setho would attempt the same thing again but at the same time he would hardly be considered mad if he was quite so predictable would he, the leave things surrounded the, venomax hadn't gathered what they did exactly but his ally had considered them dangerous to the world at large and even the lemurian soliders seemed to despise them so it was probably a good idea to try and destroy them as quickly and totally as possible.

 

"Time to salt the earth me-thinks!" he boomed in response to sethos complaining and with gauntlets prepped raised his arms to unleash his virulent herbicidal defoilants upon the crop of vision granting drugs!

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"You may think you have the upper hand" snapped back Setho, ominously. "Of Setho...who sees the future and the past!" he hissed, laughing. 

 

"Of Setho, in whose ancient temple to unspeakable Gods you stand! Where he is at the height of his power and influence!"

 

"Of Setho, who has studied sorceries beyond your comprehension. Arcane lore beyond your understanding!"

 

"The Leaf is mine, and you will not have it! The only salt will be your vital essences! I will vcrush your bones to extract your salts, then resurrect you to be be killed again, and how the cycle shall turn through endless aeons!"

 

And with that, he vanished....

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