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Avenger Assembled

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (IC)

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Summer 2019 

Kingston 

 

Aquaria sat in the shadow of the grim and terrible doomforge, squatting on her haunches as she meditated on the gods and their will for humanity. She didn't like it much here in the shadow of Destruction, where the world still moaned softly in the aftermath of the invasion, but she appreciated the chance for some quiet. Hopping past the memorials left behind for the murdered people of this neighborhood, she stopped at the foot of a dried-out fountain and began to sing. It was a song of mourning and loss, for all that would have been but now would never be, and the booming bass echoed from inside her opaque armor through the streets of the mostly-deserted neighborhood. Would there be justice for these people when the stars were right? Perhaps not. It was a terrible thought. 

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It used to be that Serena tried to avoid places like Kingston. The haunting presence of Terminus rattled her; she wasn’t normally someone who put stock in the idea of evil having an actual, physical presence but something about the air here made it feel… tainted. It didn’t help that the Doomforges still lingered here, a terrible reminder of the destruction that had been wrought there.

 

She hadn’t been able to do much when the invasion happened. Or was it that she simply hadn’t been willing to do much? She didn’t like to think too hard about it. She was doing things for the city now. That was what mattered. No way to change the past, anyway.

 

Serena was pulled from her reverie by a haunting sound. It sounded almost like a croak, but… deeper. Stranger. She considered turning around right then and there.

 

But no. She had done nothing before, she owed it to do something now. She began leaping towards the sound, moving over abandoned buildings and dusty streets. As she moved, she gained a greater appreciation of the desolation that was here. Deep down, she found herself wondering if any of this was ever going to be fixed, or if the city was always going to have these scars. She also wondered if there was going to be any more damaged. She thought about Mia having to deal with Terminus, and her heart started thumping in her chest.

 

She dismissed it. No use psyching herself out.

 

She stopped moving when she found the source of the sound. A strange, gigantic machine looking thing. Just by a fountain, singing. She considered her options. She could just bean it with a plasma ball and hope that worked, but what if it was friendly? Sure, it looked rather spooky, but so did a lot of heroes in Freedom City. Heck, who was she to judge? She was an ex-supervillain. Whole slew of people got jumpy when she showed up.

 

This is probably a bad idea, she thought to herself.

 

“Uh… Hey,” she said, landing near the fountain. “…Whatcha doin’?”

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It had so far been a long and quiet week in southside at least in terms of his "Little hobby." So with no more excuses or busy work to delay it any longer Alex had made his way to the remains of Kingston,  this time not to distract himself as a volunteer builder helping to provide shelter to those displaced by the invasion but rather to apologise to the people he had failed in his other job.

 

He'd parked his bike in one of the desolate streets and begun his walk towards the doom forge in Ernest,  ghastly contraption was a grim monument to the horror and devestation that had unfurled in what had felt like the blink of an eye.

 

He was so much stronger now than he had been during those seven days of darkness, a small part of him told him that if he had pushed himself perhaps a little harder than he had been he'd have broken into this new strength long before and whilst he knew no single hero save for perhaps the centurion himself could ever single handedly turn back the tide of the terminus he couldn't help but wonder how many more people he might've saved if he'd been more prepared to face what was coming.

 

His thoughts were as long and as dark as his journey towards the black heart of the ruins and he had only just arrived and placed his humble bunch of small white flowers amongst the others heaped at the base when the alien sound of sonorous song rang through the air hauntingly.

 

For some the song called to mind images of a great brass bell with a deep platina of verdigris tolling in a stone tower with its resonating cadance.

 

Though he couldn't comprehend the words the sound of grief and mourning were universal.

 

Perhaps another hero had come to make their peace?

 

It was a nice break in the silence as the shadow of the doomforge engulfed him in its ugly angular shadow he indulged himself to listen in until he heard a familiar voice under the song.

 

Making his way over hand on his new tool (curtsy of Dok Archeville) incase things were not as they seemed he peered out from behind the ruins if a home.

 

"Hey corona fancy meeting you here..." He spoke perhaps a bit softer than those who might know him expected.

 

"Whom is your new friend?"

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"It is my song." Without turning, the armored figure dropped down into an odd crouch, legs folded up behind and beneath it, resting on two forelimbs. Its voice was low and deep, with a distinct throb to it. "I am sorry if I frightened you," it added in a bass, mechanical rumble. "My name in my armor is Sea Devil. I fought when they came but I could not save this place." She raised something from the ground and struck it against the street, the 'something' being a trident that looked carved out of wrought iron. "I do not know you." 

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Posted (edited)

Serena stared at the armoured being for a moment in awe. A suit? That made a lot of sense. Just someone in a robot suit. Who made weird frog noises and had a massive murder stick. That was fine, he seemed friendly enough. Definitely not something to be alarmed about.

 

“Well hey there, Sea Devil,” she said, then turned to Facsimile. “This is uh… Well, says his name is Sea Devil.”

 

She turned back to the armoured being. “I’m Corona, I’m a superhero. Kinda. Uhm, you’re a singer, huh? I’m a singer too. Musician in general, really. It’s good to meet you.” She looked at the armoured hands, and then at her own, squinting. “Uh, I'll shake your hand, if you do that.

 

She turned to Facsimile, gesturing for him to come on up. “My friend over here would definitely love to introduce himself as well, wouldn’t he?” she said, side-eyeing Facsimile and desperately hoping he wasn’t going to punch the Sea Devil or anything like that. She got the terrible feeling that making it mad would be a devastatingly bad choice on either of their parts.

Edited by Shofet

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"Yeah! I go by facsimile." He answered as he made his way over "nice fork by the way." He mentioned as he looked the trident up and down curiously.

 

"Ah so you fought during the invasion too?" Facsimile said as his hand moved away from the handle on his belt.

 

He felt even more at ease now he knew that for some reason.

 

"Me too...I was at high school when it hit so...put myself to work and went out on guerilla rescue missions." He mumbled a little, he didn't like to think about it much but he was desperate for common ground in this weird sense of burden that he settled upon him.

 

"Anyway what brings you two out here tonight? Paying your respects? I came to apologise to the people I failed."

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"I am a female," said Sea Devil, in a voice that sounded distinctly like a mechanical croak. When she spoke, some of it had the distinct air of being practiced speech. "I do not want to frighten you. I am your friend. went out with my friend to stop the ones who had built the giant robot. They thought they could stop us but my friend is very mighty. And the Powers Below heard my call to them." Throb throb, throb throb. Still crouching on the ground, she looked up at the two heroes. "I came to sing for the dead. Where I am from, a dead place is....not like this." She pictured the doomforge, adorned with the bones of the honored dead, and mourned for all those who had lost the physical remains of their loved ones. 

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“Oh, crap, I am so sorry,” Corona said, her eyes going wide. “I should know better than to assume, I… Yeah, really sorry. It won’t happen again.” She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly.

 

Then, her focus turned to Facsimile, and her face faltered even more. “I don’t… Even know why I’m here. I didn’t help when all this was happening… I wasn’t even a superhero yet, just… Most I did was keep my family safe. I coulda done more, but I didn’t because I was scared about people finding out about who I used to be.” She sighed, kicking at a stray rock. “I guess I’m coming out here to sort of remind myself what I coulda helped stop. Beat myself up a bit. I don’t know if I coulda made a difference, just one lady, but I guess I’ll never know now.”

 

She looked out over the empty buildings, frowning and folding her arms. She chewed her lip, staring into the empty window of an abandoned… she didn’t even know what it used to be. A shop? An apartment? Hard to say. It was like Terminus had actively stripped a piece of the world’s history away when it invaded. “Sorry,” she said. “How you doing, Facs? No sign of Wu since we last spoke,” she said, then looked to Sea Devil. “We, ah, we had a thing last month. Fought an evil half-clone of myself. Was weird, little traumatizing, but that’s superheroing.”

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"Hah...yeah; things get pretty weird believe me.." He couldn't count how many times he'd been knocked back onto bravado and instinct by how uncanny or crazy the situation he'd been in.

 

"All we can really do now is try to be better than we were yesterday."

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"I try to be good but it is hard," said Sea Devil reflectively. "The food is strange and the air is dry, and the words hurt my throat." Not wanting to share all her secrets with these new people, she was about to suggest they leave when she heard a distinct noise from nearby. "Do you hear that?" she asked, hopping to her feet and pointing to one of the abandoned buildings nearby. "It is the crying of small things." There was nothing audible to the others, but nonetheless Sea Devil hopped (there was no other word for it) through the open front door of what had once been a Home Owner's Association. 

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Facsimile shuddered a little as a single thought crawled across his mind, quiet and unobtrusive as it was.

 

Hope it's not ghosts

 

But just as soon as it'd come he'd shook it off and was back to his old self if not slightly more dour and respectful given where they were.

 

"Sounds like a call to adventure to me." He stated simply as he jogged briskly after sea devil with a grin and a wink to corona as he passed.

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Serena looked toward the place Sea Devil was headed. She couldn't hear a thing, but Sea Devil said 'small things', which made Serena think of children, and protective instinct take over. She fell in line behind them, getting ready to move into the building.

 

To prepare, she pulled a flashlight free from her leather jacket, and clicked it on. She didn't know if Sea Devil could see in the dark, but she was pretty sure neither she nor Facsimile could, so it wouldn't hurt. Not like she was particularly stealthy anyway. 

 

"Right behind you, SD," she said. "Just stick close so I don't lose you in the darkness."

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They made their way into the darkened building, Sea Devil ably leading the way by hopping and scuttling. Once actually inside the building, the other heroes could hear the sounds too - eerie wails that seemed to be coming from the building's basement. It was especially dark down there, and unstable, the very bedrock cracked and broken. Sea Devil made her way along by nimbly clinging to the ceiling. "I think it is baby things," Sea Devil called from the ceiling. "Can any of you hear anything? There are many strange noises in the air down here...

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Serena pressed into the darkness alongside her two companions, keeping the beam of the flashlight ahead of her. When she heard the sound, it was immediately familiar to her. She followed the noise, heading towards an overturned desk drawer. Lowering the beam of the flashlight, her eyes widened at what she saw.

 

She gasped loudly. “Babies,” she said in a loud whisper.

 

Immediately, she crouched down, and went to take a look at them. As gently as she could, she went to try and pick up one of the kittens, aiming for the tabby amongst them. “Oh helloooo,” she cooed softly. “C’mere, c’mon, it’s okay.” She sounded almost like she was talking to an actual human baby at this point. “Little kittens,” she said.

 

Serena had always possessed a weakness for cats, ever since she was young. She liked dogs too, but she gravitated towards cats. At home, she had a fat, pleasant cat named Beelzebub, who she so named for his destructive tendencies as a kitten and black fur with red-orange accents that appeared like sinister eyebrows.

 

 

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Facsimiles eyes found something darker within the darkness the limp form of what he assumed to be a cat, it was too badly burned to tell.

 

No need to bring this unpleasantness up to the others he reasoned and so silently strode through the darkness over towards the limp form of the animal lying in the rubble.

 

Reaching out with a hand to stroke what remained of it both to investigate with his phenomenal sense of touch and some manner of wishing it peace before he burried it.

 

The mewling of kittens faintly catching his ear made his stomach twist.

 

Looks like I'm adopting a cat.

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"Ohhh, it is cats." Sea Devil hopped down from the ceiling and landed next to Corona, peering over her shoulder at the mewling infants. "They must hunger." Mammalian babies needed fluid from the bodies of their mothers to survive, but she heard no such creature hereabouts. "You cannot feed them, so we need to find a mother for them. I am a dog person," she confessed. Kittens were all bones and claws, anyway, she remembered - not that she would ever say such a thing out loud around so many Surfacers. 

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Serena looked down at the kittens as she started to help them into her leather jacket, to let them use her body heat. She took the time to gently stroke the sides of their faces with the back of her index finger, smiling.

 

"We can buy kitten formula for them at the pet store," she said. "... It's artificial milk, basically. For when the mom can't lactate or... Well, when there is no mom."

 

"We're gonna have to walk there, though, don't wanna put their little bodies through all the force of my leaping, since they're pretty delicate when they're this young."

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Facsimile looked over his shoulder at that remark before turning his attention back to the corpse of what he assumed to be the mother cat.

 

There is something up here...might be worth bringing it up...maybe if things get more complicated.

 

"Be with you in a sec folks!" He called out as he dove his hand into thè soil beneath the shattered flooring making a makeshift grave, placing the corpse of the cat within and sliding the displaced earth back over it.

 

"So kittens huh? I was thinking of adopting a cat for some company." He sighed as he made his way back over

 

"What little cuties!"

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The kittens were distinctly warm inside Corona's jacket, and immediately began loudly purring. She could tell they were hungry, but not in immediate distress beyond that. And then suddenly, as if from nowhere, there came a deafening boom and rumble that made all three heroes vibrate down to their very core. The rumble seemed to go on and on, and soon the very walls of the basement were shaking! 

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The force of the vibrations was sufficient to snap open Sea Devil's helmet - revealing within the hideous face of a Deep One! The building they were in was still shaking, rocks and debris falling, its broken structure threatening to collapse all around them. The continued echoing vibrations made it impossible for Sea Devil to make herself understood, but she pointed with her trident at Corona's chest, her sonic-tuned senses alerting her to the source of the noise. 

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Serena almost found herself stumbling, but managed to steady herself despite the rumbling. She looked around, and frowned. “What the heck is this?” she asked, forcing herself to talk despite her teeth chattering.

 

She didn’t flinch when Aquaria’s helmet split open. She had expected her to not be human - she had given off a distinctly alien vibe, though she hadn’t expected a Deep One of all things. Her eyes followed the woman’s trident to her jacket, and she realized quickly what was going on.

 

“Th-th-they’re T-kitties!” she cried.

 

Feeling the shakes around her, she knew that she had to, at the very least, get them outside the building. What she did next wasn’t clear yet, but she had to get out of the building. Considering the cats seemed to be fine with the vibrations, she hoped that they would survive the next part. Creating a burst of plasma beneath her feet, Serena flung herself up over the staircase, heading for the exit.

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T-baby kittens that's a new one!

 

Facsimile thought to himself as he effectively but not all that gracefully hopped around from one foot to another in order to keep his balance.

 

Regarding sea devils revealed face with mild interest, some kind of amphibian humanoid creature, whilst not the cutest form of intelligent life he'd ever met was far and away from the worst.

 

"You Good Sea Devil?" He yelled over the remaining rumbling as he bounded over towards the hulking armour "not gonna suffocate or anything with your armour damaged?"

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"No, I have a lung," croaked Aquaria noisily. "But thank you for your concern," she chirped politely. "My space armor is not broken. What is happening to-." It looked like the woman with the firepowers was running into trouble, flying like a corkscrew and shaking so badly she looked blurred to Aquaria's eyes. That can't feel good at all! She hit the side of her armor, snapping the headpiece shut again.

 

The eardrum-rattling vibrations in the air were throwing off Corona's flight, and before she could stop herself she had careened off-course and through the window of a still-standing mansion. As she hit the ceiling of a vacant upstairs room, the purring of the kittens stopped - but she seemed to hear the movement of something beneath her inside the building...

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Serena liked to think of herself as a composed person, but when she started smashing through windows and buildings, she couldn’t quite help but shriek a little bit. She maintained just enough wherewithal that as she passed through the glass, she wrapped her durable arms around her belly to protect the kittens, and angle herself so that it was her back that hit the ceiling, and then rolling so that it was her back that hit the floor.

 

She laid there on the floor for a moment, looking at all the new cuts in her leather jacket and costume made by the broken glass of the window, and was immediately thankful that she was so incredibly durable.

 

She groaned as she heard something moving in the basement beneath her, and unzipped her jacket, looking down at the kittens. “Sorry, fuzzballs, ride’s over ‘til I can deal with this,” she said, gently removing her jacket and placing them aside on top of it as she moved to get to her feet.

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Things were starting to kick off it seemed, even with the purring subsided the rumbling hadn't stopped, Sea devils decision to armour back up showed him that sure enough things were really about to kick off.

 

"Good idea, think I'll armour up too." He commented as his hand went to his ever trusty belt buckle to transform himself to steel.

 

He was slower than he had been in his claremont days, some kind of incompatibility with the newfound strength and hardiness he had gained from learning to absorb ambient energies but surely enough flesh turned to silvery metal.

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