Jump to content

Unkindness in the Shadow of Doom

Recommended Posts


3:25 AM, 1st of July, 2021

Kingston, North Freedom


Criminal activity had recently been on the downturn in Kingston, despite its desperate populace, low police presence, and proximity to the dread Doomforge. Many, especially those outside of Kingston, attributed this to the hideous heat that had been overwhelming the city of late, while others pointed to the hero activity several months prior in the Doomforge giving criminals something to think about.


People in Kingston and the FCPD knew otherwise. Unconscious criminals have been discovered bound to streetlamps, ladders, fire escapes, and more. Normally, this would be cause for relief, but the state they have been found in is of great concern - their bodies slashed and cut, pierced with extreme prejudice. Though they have all survived, the fact that their wounds were so vicious has many dreading the dark. 


The Raven also heard even worse news - scattered about the scenes, and sometimes still sticking out of the criminals were small, sharp shuriken stylized as talons, and the terrified criminals reported being attacked by a cloaked figure with the mask of a raven. Regardless of how effective this new vigilante was, they were causing the innocent to fear as much as the guilty, to say nothing of the fact that they were besmirching the name of the Raven.

Edited by secondling
Link to comment

Freedom City was a place overflowing with heroes. Indeed, the city had a comparative glut of shadowy, secretive heroes who worked in the night and the shadows. Having another one active was not, in and of itself, overly concerning. However, one who seemed to be operating only a couple of levels of lethality below the Silencer, and doing so wearing his own motif, was of distinct concern to the Raven. 


So that was how he found himself crouched on a rooftop, casting his gaze around the nearby streets, alleys, and rooftops. Whoever this was, they could move quickly, but didn't seem to have true super-speed, and didn't seem to favor flying over-much. He was concerned about this case. The sheer...brutality...on display meant that he'd made it clear to Charlie and Callie that they were not to come near the investigation unless he called them. Alek was normally more laid-back than a lot of hero mentors; his apprentices were well-motivated, and beyond a few half-joking "punishments", he didn't have to do anything remotely like discipline that often. Which meant they took him seriously when he said "no".


So here he was. Alone, with no backup. It felt...probably more familiar than it ought to. 

Link to comment



From his vantage point, Alek saw... stillness. The streets of Kingston were barely inhabited at this time of night - even the homeless had hunkered down in whatever shelter they could find. For several minutes, that seemed to be all - indeed, the silence on the streets was somewhat unusual - there wasn't even the odd car driving by. Then he saw it - an armored figure soaring through the air with a grappling hook. Even with his night-vision lenses, it was the movement that drew the Raven's attention rather than the heat - the armor didn't call attention to itself in infrared - at least not to the degree that a normal human would. Now that he had found it, though, it was obvious.


The figure landed on a roof below the Raven's own, giving him the first solid look at it. A long, heavy-looking cape of stylized feathers was draped from the armored shoulders, while its gauntlets ended in sharp claws. Most notable, however, was the helmet - it resembled a plague doctor's mask (albeit without the goggles or the silly hat), with a long, slightly curved beak.


From this distance it was hard to judge the armored figure's size, but it gave the impression of... large-ness. Whoever wore it was clearly seeking to terrify those who looked upon it.

Edited by secondling
Link to comment

Sable Raven


Someone, I forget who, once said: "The difference between silence and quiet is that the former is the held breath, while the latter is its release." Sable Raven wondered whether what he was witnessing in Kingston was silence, or quiet. The former would have been ideal, if it had been the silence of criminals, but he wasn't even wholly sure it was. The last time a civilian had seen him, the poor man had screamed. Just goes to show that I'm still not well-practiced in this whole "heroing" business, I guess.


The armored vigilante stood on the edge of a roof that looked like it would be able to bear his weight as well as that of his Armor of Unkindness, and looked over towards the Doomforge that had ruined Kingston. Though it was some years ago, from what he understood, the sight made his stomach tighten and his fists clench. Beneath his helmet, he could feel his teeth grinding and he whipped his head away from the sight. Damned thing. Maybe that's what has me so on edge here. But I can't abandon a part of the city just because it reminds me of home. Gotta focus.


So focus he did - the patterns of the Lee Syndicate were hardly the impenetrable schemes of Tzin Sing, and they'd been preparing for this little bout of retribution for weeks. One of the shop owners around here had rejected their attempts at racketeering, and now their lower-ranking thugs were trying their hands at arson. It shouldn't be long now...

Edited by secondling
Link to comment

Raven went even more still than normal for several moments when the newcomer showed up. His breathing slowed, and he kept his body still in such a way that it ought not to twitch, but he should avoid the worst of the cramps later. That was a trick Ashley had taught him; Callie and Duncan seemed content to suffer until they could soak in a tub, but he preferred not feeling like a lump of frozen taffy at the end of the night. As he watched, the figure, who definitely reminded Alek of the Raven, seemed to focus their attention on the surrounding streets. 


The true Raven considered the situation for a few moments, then reached to his belt. He withdrew a pair of what seemed to be flat shoe soles, which were quickly added to his boots. The devices adhered and expanded a bit; after they were secure, his feet made virtually no sound even to his own ears. A similar set of devices went on his hands, reducing the sound as he gripped and climbed. Then he moved to the edge of the roof, spread his cape out, and pushed off into the air. 


Gliding itself was near-silent, especially in the noise of a city. And thanks to his foot soles and the palms of his gloves, he could cushion his landing with no real sound. He was a few yards behind the Edgy Raven (as Charlie had taken to calling him), and he began to draw nearer. Finally, when he was about ten feet away, he stopped and drew himself up, standing there with his cape cloaking his body, ready to fight if needed. He took a moment to calm his heart and center his mind before he spoke.


"Who are you. And why do you think you can wear that cowl."


The words were as much accusation as they were question. 

Link to comment

Sable Raven

I wonder if these people realize how close they came to annihilation. Sable Raven cast another glance at the Doomforge, sighing inaudibly. If they did, would they respond with gratitude or greed? His experience told him that the latter was more likely, but some part of him hoped the former was true - perhaps it even was. In this world, people seemed, on the whole, more idealistic. 


When he heard the voice, it took all of his willpower to not whirl and attack. If my stalker had wanted to fight, he'd have hit me when I wasn't aware. Slowly, Sable Raven turned his helm to look at the speaker. A quick blink turned on the gentle glow of gold in his eyes, and a slight twitch activated his voice changer. When he swung fully around, his knife-like beak glinting dimly in the ambient illumination from the distant streetlights, his eyes narrowed from behind his helm.


So this is the one who took up my name. "You're the one they call the Raven." He said, rather than answering immediately, his voice a low hiss. "I've been wanting to meet you for some time, but I figured it would be easier for you to find me than the other way around. Glad I was right." The armored man turned more fully to face his counterpart. "I call myself Sable Raven, since you seem to have taken the title for yourself." That was true enough.


"Your other question is harder to answer. I have as much right as anyone to this," he gestured at his helm and armor, "if not more."  Sable Raven hesitated. He'd gone over this so many times in his head, and yet now that he was face to face with the (admittedly hostile) Raven, he couldn't quite find the words to share what he knew. Or who he was.


Finally, he continued. "You see, I happen to know a couple names. One because it is mine, and one because I looked into it." Swallowing hard, he looked around for anyone else, his infrared vision activating. No one. I suppose this is safe enough, then. With a few clicks of his teeth and flicks of his eyes, he disengaged the locks on his helmet and pulled it free, revealing his face. With his blue eyes, dark hair, and faintly aristocratic features, he was a spitting image for the Duncan Summers of the early sixties. Or at least, he hoped he was. "Duncan Summers, Callie Summers. I don't know who you are, but I know them. My name is - was - Duncan Summers, and I was the only Raven of my home. It's a pleasure." God, I hope this works.

Edited by secondling
Link to comment

The other Raven, the "true" Raven, went extremely still when Sable Raven gave his name, and his origin. Whoever this was, they seemed to have more bodily control than even Duncan possessed at his best. When he moved, it was rapid and smooth, as befit a predator of the night. Which both of them were. 


This world's Raven stopped less than three feet away from Duncan. Only then did the glowing lenses over his eyes retract, showing intense grey eyes. They searched Duncan's face, weighed and measured him. Finally, the Raven spoke.


"Much younger. Not a plot by anyone besides Dr. Sin, they don't know the connection. Alternate universe? Suit doesn't fit timeline."


His words were choppy, as if each sentence was ended with the slice of a sword. His hands flexed several times, creaking his kevlar-composite gauntlets.


"You haven't killed, but you've come close. You're using our name, my name. You need to control yourself. And...how? What happened, that drove you here?"


Something in the Raven's voice suggested he had suspicions of the answer, especially as for a split-second, his gaze flicked to the Doomforge. But it was clear he wanted the words to come from Sable Raven. 

Link to comment

Sable Raven


"Mm." Duncan submitted quietly to the examination. This Raven probably has more experience than me in fighting crime, to say nothing of the myriad dimensional invasions that this world has had. Doctor Sin... isn't that what Tzin Sing calls himself here? After a moment, he flexed his gauntleted hands, tapping his claws against his bladed helmet. "From what I can tell, I come from a different universe from this one, yes."


Sable Raven lifted his helm and placed it on his head once more. With a hiss, it sealed itself to the rest of his armor. "My suit is of my own design. Brought here from my home." At the Raven's mention of his use of rather excessive force, he stopped, turning towards the Doomforge. "I am, in fact, using my name. If anything, you're using my name, too."


A sigh escaped from his lips, silenced to the outside world by his helm. "But... yes. I know you're right. In my world, things were rather more brutal than here. I'm still unlearning my habits." Sable Raven turned back to his counterpart. While that was true, the war that had brought an end to his world had been yet more brutal still, and that, he suspected, was the problem. In the shadow of the Doomforge, I lose myself. "I... well, I've been out of control here. It's hard to see this part of the city fallen so far."

Edited by secondling
Link to comment

This world's Raven considered him for several long moments before speaking again.


"You'll understand if I'm not comfortable revealing all details immediately. But suffice to say, the name I bear is, at this point, a legacy to uphold."


He smiled, very slightly. His body language relaxed very slightly, and his speech felt "looser". 


"There is a bit of good news, however. Much as the corvus corax is a social animal, I have found myself far from being a solo avenger of the night. If you're willing, I can get you settled in a safe house, and we can start working through various tests to make sure you're not a rogue Talos Bot or Terminus Clone or whatnot. I know some people."


He grew more serious.


"And meanwhile, we can train together to help you break the bad habits. You must unlearn before you can learn. But don't worry. I had excellent teachers, and my own students can testify I am an adequate teacher."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Sable Raven

"Yes, it was rather disturbing to see that there were others who had taken on the name when I first arrived here." Sable Raven mused. "I... well, I hadn't imagined letting someone else take the reins when I was back home." He sighed into his helm again. "To be honest, it's rather depressing to consider, if understandable."


The armored helm turned back to the Raven, and a hissing laugh emerged from within. "Erm. Sorry. Voice alteration technology messes with my laugh. In any case, I do have my own little base of operations in this lovely city... though my home could probably do with some more adjustments..." Sable Raven shook his helm, setting the thought aside. "And a family, hm? I had my own companions and aides, though none took to the field in vigilantism. Regardless... they say that you learn more as a teacher than as a student. Perhaps we can teach one another some things? I know I want to pull back a little, but..."


He spread his clawed gauntlets. "Perhaps I can teach you a thing or two on how to build something like this? If you don't already know, that is."

Link to comment

"I think every one of us who wears this cowl knows the feeling of not thinking you can pass it on, at least for a time. It's part of the job. Let's just say that your counterpart here has a bit more...perspective...on things."


Raven waved off the apology for the strange sound.


"We all use voice alteration to some degree. I try not to laugh around non-criminals in the suit. Even without the active alteration the neck armor shifts things a bit. As for your current base, we can work to set you up and get you looped in."


He smiled, genuinely, at the mentions of family and teaching.


"You'll find we're pretty used to odd circumstances bringing in members. One day I'll tell you how I and my apprentice joined the fold in full. As for teaching....hm. Even if I don't use that exact model, I'm always willing to learn more techniques."

Link to comment

Sable Raven


"Yes, he started in the sixties. I have a different perspective than him, as well." Sable Raven said, his voice quiet. "My own Freedom League was younger and more modern - we had far more diversity than his."


Shaking his head, he looked back to the Raven. "Regardless, I would appreciate being linked into the network, so to speak. I do wish to meet my counterpart properly, as well as his daughter." He snorted, his helm cutting the noise off from the outside world. "A daughter, and with Tzin Li, no less. I never would've..."  He choked off the words. No use weeping over my lost opportunities. Weep for the lost opportunities of the world.


"I don't think you could use the exact designs. These metals changed when I was cast into the multiverse and arrived here. I'm still not certain of all of their properties, but I intend to find out more." Sable Raven shrugged slightly. "But I'm happy to lend my expertise if you are looking to develop powered armor. It's not as easy as you'd hope, but neither is it as hard as you'd dread."


Behind the helm, Duncan smiled at the thought. It's not the sort of dread I usually inspire, but...

Link to comment

Raven nodded faintly. 


"Understandable. Dimensional variances can cause a lot of changes from small shifts. But yes, we will start the..."


He paused, then shrugged, seemingly resigned.

"The vetting process. As I said, we have some resources to draw on. We're going to request their assistance before you are allowed anywhere near the more...vulnerable...members of our family."


He reaches into his belt and withdraws a small pad of paper and a pen. A quick scribble gives Sable Raven an address, which happens to not be far from his own "roost". 


"I'll be there in two days with one of my...apprentices. From there we'll start helping getting you checked out, to make sure your trip didn't leave any unwanted effects on you or your gear."

Link to comment

Sable Raven

Sable Raven took the small piece of paper, memorized its contents, then slipped it into a small pocket in the armor. "Well, I suppose you have the right to be suspicious of me." He waved a gauntleted hand. "You have very little evidence I'm not some clone or threat, after all... I'm not, in case you wanted to hear it from me. Do you wish me to come in civilian garb, or shall I appear as I am?" He gestured at his dark armor. I wonder what I mean by that. Am I my armor, or who lies within? Probably a bit of both, honestly.


"In the meantime, do you want to... get a head start on this partnership, so to speak, by dealing with a few would-be racketeers?" The beaked helm turned back to the streets below. "A few thugs hired by the Lee Syndicate, as they're calling themselves, are trying to shake down some of the local shops. I think that one's next."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Raven nodded at his counterpart's acceptance of the suspicion. 


"Let's have you show up in your full gear, at least to start with. We will have some medical resources on hand to assist you when you're out of it, if need be."


At the mention of taking on the criminals on the streets below, he smirked.


"Well, if you insist. I think I will do just that. I'm rather not a fan of people shaking down shops, after all."

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...