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Cyroa

Invasion! - Danger Mansion (IC)

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Geckoman strode up to Ace, an angry look on his face. "You seem to be in charge, Mr Danger," he said with a false smile. "Maybe you can tell me why my teammat- no, my friends seem to be the ones at the epicentre, unaccompanied by anyone who ever routinely does the whole superhero thing? C'mon, they've got a lot of power, sure, but we're letting kids with barely any experience handle this alone? Tell me, did we even try to send someone? Eh? C'mon, whose half-assed idea was this!? How do we know they're alive!?"

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"Yeah, same story, different setting." He thought again of the Interceptors' foray out into the hellish landscape and the attempts made to clear the civilians away from twisted, burning buildings and other disasters before he made his way to the golden light of hope that shone into the sky of North Bay.

"Did..." he paused for a moment, "did any of your people not make it?"

Realizing how cold and harsh his question must have sounded, he spoke again before Tarantula could reply. "No, nevermind. That's none of my business."

He scanned the grounds beyond the barrier, his focus set on the legion of demonic forms that threatened to send the last patch of natural landscape in Freedom City into a hellish killing field.

Looking up at Tarantula, he asked, "I'm walking the perimeter, checking out our defenses and trying to gauge how long the," he motioned towards the golden energy barrier, "force field, I guess, is going to hold up. Care to join me?"

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Yuki dropped from the webline to the ground. "Sure, why not?"

Yuki walked with him. For some reason, she choose to answer his question anyway.

"To much happened... I know we lost some civilians who couldn't make it into the building in time..." Yuki shook her head as she remembered the bodies on the ground. "I just don't get it... most evil has a purpose. Money. Power. Insanity even... but all these demons do i pervert, destory and kill. No purpose..."

She crossed her arms. "Why?"

She knew he didn't have the answer. Who did?

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He knew the question wasn't directed at him, but he felt he needed to answer her. "I don't know. But why does anything like this happen? You can believe that it's our lot in life to be thrown headfirst into conflict for the sake of whatever cosmic unbalance that needs correcting," he stopped for a moment and looked Tarantula in the white oval's that represented the eyes of her masked persona, "or not."

He let the gravity of his words sink in for a moment before continuing. "Either way, we're both here and without answers, so lets just roll with the punches and see how far we get."

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The look of uncetainty was covered by her full faced mask. The only thing Razor could percieve was a slight cant of her head to the left.

"I'd rather dodge the punches if you don't mind."

A joke. What else could she say? That she was terrified? That she really didn't know if there really was hope? The one thing she kept to herself throughout the entire day was that her dangersense has been buzzing non-stop. Sure, it was a low intensity now, which meant that danger wasn't immediate...

But danger was still around. This was only a tempoary safe haven.

"I just wish things was as simple as that battle on Century Bridge. Destroy the control center and everything else sputtered out. Now... it just seems that every victory causes greater despair. Dozens of people in that mansion are crying their eyes out cause their son, or husband, or daughter is still out there. I rescue one... only to hear that three more needs..."

Emo alert. Emo Alert.

"Gah! Sorry... I don't mean to sound like a whiny teenager..."

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Not sure how to handle the situation properly, Razorwing thought for a moment. He was about to bring the conversation back to their encounter with Doc Otaku on the Century Bridge to alleviate Tarantula's growing despair when a humongous demon crashed bodily into the golden field, it's great wings broken and unable to keep itself aloft. It fell to the ground, it's massive form crushing a number of it's smaller kin that laid in wait outside of the protective ward.

"Well, I guess some of us are still out there putting the hurt on these things," he said, hoping he sounded positive to the young woman.

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Yuki didn't jump, cause she 'knew' the demon wasn't going to break through. All the same she nodded. "...yeah, they're not indestructable. I guess the trick is cutting them off at the source..."

She scratched her scalp, which was sweated out thanks to her exertions. "Anyluck in finding where these things came from?"

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Stesha walked around the back of the house, through the extensive gardens that stretched to the beachfront. It must have cost a fortune to irrigate and fertilize these plants in soil that had to be poor, but that didn't seem to be much of a problem for Ace. It certainly wasn't a concern to her now. There were civilians out here as well, because there was simply no more room in the house, but they were clinging to the patio area and staying well away from the edge of the property. Some murmured or waved when they saw her, but there were enough heroes about today that one relative unknown drew little excitement. They all had much bigger things to worry about.

She studied the elaborate topiary statues here and there, mostly jungle animals, with the occasional person figure as well. Pausing in front of a pair of leafy tigers, she dug into her bag and tossed a seed into each of their mouths. With a gesture, massive red flowers sprang forth like hungry, seeking tongues, ready to devour the unwary. She nodded, letting the flowers return to their normal small size, to wait. They would do.

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Ace turned and examined the impetuous young hero before him. Most people of Aces age and experiance would be offended at such a challenge, Ace was not most people, besides the green clad young man reminded Ace of himself a little too much to fault him.

Ace also was determined to treat this young man with the same respect his fellows had been shown when they were sent into this mess. He wasn't 100% on board with Phantoms plan but he hadn't had a better suggestion either.

"Your friends chose their task because they have the greatest chance of success." He replied simply and candidly. "No one known to the hoard would be able to get close and they have more means at their disposal than any of us to put this to an end."

"As for help every hero we can spare has been sent to draw the hoards away and give them the best chance we can at stopping this." He leaned in and softly added for the youths ears alone, "And do you really want soemone like Arrowhawk or the Interceptors to stop the one holding the gate? Or someone who knows him?"

He leaned back and smiled wide, "Now then if you don't have any more questions I think I could use a hand bringing up some of the other defense systems online."

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Geckoman smiled wider. "Then you best go find someone to help you, shouldn't ya?" He turned to walk away. "Try and justify it all you like, you're still complicit in sending kids to fight the armies of Hell. Good reasons or not, at least show some goddamn guilt." He reached into his belt and produced a blowtorch. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got barricades to put up for when your stupid force field gives out." Goddamn smarmy git! I bet he's used to turning on the smile and the charm and not being questioned! Well, he can go to Hell. Heck, if the guys don't pull through... well, he won't be lonely at least.

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With the topiaries ready for action, Stesha stepped closer to the line of the forcefield. This cause a stir among the demons on the other side, who threw themselves against the barricade with even more force, but she made herself stand up straight and not step back. Staying about twenty feet back from the barrier, she dropped a seed onto the ground and took a few giant steps away. The seed quivered, then seemed to explode, diving into the ground and bursting into the air at the same time, wood groaning as a stem turned into a trunk that thickened by the moment. New layers of bark sheeted onto the trunk like water as it skyrocketed, with branches bursting out and into leafy life as though the growth of years were being acted out in fast motion. In a little over ten seconds, the growth was complete. Other than a little bit of quivering in the leaves, the tree was indistinguishable from one that had been there a hundred years.

Nodding in satisfaction, Stesha walked ten feet away and did the whole thing again, then another ten, then another ten, until there was a triple line of giant trees in an alternating pattern along the whole backyard perimeter. It didn't exactly match the look of the garden, but these were desperate times. Sowing more seeds among the giant trunks, Stesha raised brambles, thornbushes, creeping ivy, anything that could wrap from tree to tree and create a nearly impenetrable wall between the house and the demons, right up into the branches of the trees themselves. After that, she had to sit down for a little bit, but she was impressed by her own work. She hadn't known she could do that.

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"Vait, vait, vait," Archeville said to Ace and Geckoman after their heated talk, "Herr Danger, vhy do you caution against de Interceptors or Arrowhawk being de vons to stop de von holding de gate open? Do you two know who is responsible for all dis?"

If we can get word out to the Interceptors, get them some intel, then-

Then what? What if the one holding the gate open is one of their friends, brainwashed or tricked into doing this?

Can't seal an interdimensional gate without breaking a few eggs.

Though waiting for an answer, Archeville could not help but look around to see what he had to work with in terms of "bringing up some of the other defense systems online."

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Ace stared regretfully at Geckomans retreating back, if he had more time he would do more for the boy's obvious pain at not being with his friends, but it was not time he had.

He turned his attention to Doctor Archeville.

"Both are know for efficiancy over all else, this situation requires more delicacy than it would seem on the surface." Ace replied glibly, his opinion of those kind of heroics was well known.

"A little over a week ago a young member of the Prophet family was abducted by demons." He explained quickly and quietly, "Phantom believes that he is being used to allow all of this." Ace gestured to the chaos beyond the protective ward. "Our best option to stop it is for him to refuse to maintain the gateway. We can't be sure what harming him would do to the situation, those he was closest to are our best bet of ending this." It was even mostly true.

As he spoke he showed the Doctor the various defunct and partial defensive systems installed in the manor to see what the famed genius could make of them.

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Ionica had been flying rather uncoordinatedly around the mansion, watching people to strange and unexplainable things (at least in her mind), while she figured that the best she could do was to stop any of those thingies from getting through unseen. So, yeah, not exactly the most brilliant plan, but then again, very fitting for a girl who doesn't really do smart.

As she then notices the guy with the blowtorch (Geckoman), she ponders what it is he's about to do, so she lands next to him, wondering if she's met her before. Her memory isn't exactly the best, so why not introduce herself.

"Hi, when are those uglies gonna get in, so we can start punching them? I'm kinda bored," she then says, shrugging slightly as she does so.

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Geckoman turned and looked at Ionica with an incredulous look on his face. "Lucy, right?" Wow, blast from the past. Although not a very bright blast. "Well, I'd not be too enthusiastic about that. Like... at all? Because when the barrier falls, we are royally screwed. If we start losing against the endless hordes from Hell, we can't run. This is the last place to run. We are cornered like rats in a nest. So whaddya prefer? Bored? Or dragged to Hell?"

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Ionica stares at Geckoman for a few seconds. "Uhm... I think I know you from somewhere," she then finally says. It's the only explanation she can come up with for how the Geckoman knows her real name. "And uhm, when I'm like this I'm like the Ionic Girl, Ionica, get it?" She giggles at her same joke, before she finally starts considering the rest of what she was told.

"So... If things go down, it's bad? That sucks, yaknow. Aren't there like rules for superheroes and stuff? If barrier goes down, bad things get in and we got nowhere to go... That's kinda lame, I really don't like that very much. Bah, so I'll have to be bored, 'cause the other stuff is badder." This is said with a pout.

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Without a word, River Rat stumbles into Danger mansion, his eyes are wide and dark circles surround them. Dirt, soot and other debris have stained his silk suit and left him looking much like a deranged hobo. Jackie plops down upon a makeshift cot and breathes out a heavy sigh.

"Uhm, excuse me sir?" One of the other refugees adresses the sooty hero. "You're.. uhm... you're on fire a little bit."

Slowly Jackie turns his head and finds that a few loose threads of his destroyed suit are still alight like tiny candles. "Huh, well don't that beat all." Jackie absent mindedly licks his fingers and extinguishes the flames before continuing his staring into nothing.

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Following another figure through the front doors of Danger Mansion, Colt stumbled across the threshold. He was too worn out to tell that the sooty figure in front of him was someone he actually knew. He was tired and beaten. He had been working hard all day long and now he needed rest...

Colt's worn coat looked even more threadbare. His hat was drooping, and as he walked his gate was tired and drawn. A cigar poked out of his mouth. He had smoked it so far down that the bead was almost touching his face. He grabbed the very base of it and flicked it out the door as it closed behind him.

Colt simply stood for a moment, stupefied, and taking in the room. He saw figures of all shapes and sizes. Men and women. Heroes and refugees.

"Reckon it's hell outside. But if y'all ask me, this don't look much like heaven."

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Almost an hour after he had left, Dark Star was flying back over the heads of the army outside and through the golden-white wards, significantly slower than when he had left. Carried in his gravity field were the Midknighters and they looked like they had taken on an army, which they had. Even Dark Star was looking more than a little injured, as much as anyone could tell. He floated down to land in the formerly well manicured lawn well outside the mansion and gently released his grip on them. He knew Jack was hurting and of the man's condition. While he trusted Avenger completely, there was no sense exposing the man to a tightly packed house full of injured.

He quietly sighed, groaned might be more accurate, as he released them on the grass. He shook his head for a moment to clear it before moving over to the unconscious Phantom. The others were all hurt as well but he knew he couldn't heal Avenger without taking some time. And Phantom was unconscious and looking pretty bad anyway. Extending his hands over her, he let the radiation infuse her cells, repairing the damage. "Anyone else injured? I can help," he said wearily.

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Stesha, who had by now extended her ring of foliage around more than half the property, abandoned her project for the moment when she saw Dark Star coming in for a landing. She raced across the lawn, bushes and flowers getting out of her way as she hastened over to where he'd landed the team. "Oh my god," she gasped, kneeling down next to Phantom. Derrick could heal the wounds, she knew, but to see all these heroes in such bad shape was really not a good sign. She looked up at Derrick. "Are you all right?" she asked him. "How bad has it gotten out there?"

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The world was vibrating. Consuming demon blood had left Jack able to heal his injuries, but his eyes were locked in a crimson glow, his face pulled sharp and tight like a predator's. He kept his hand on Taylor's, mindful of the angle of her hands. His own hands were cracked and broken, the flesh partially burned on one. "Carrreeeful," he warned, his voice shaking like an espresso addict on a three-day bender, "sheee'lll wakkke upp bblasstting...cmmoonn baby you cannnn do thiss..."

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Jack's guess was an accurate one as Taylor thrashed awake with a shout ripped from a voice that was hoarse from smoke and screaming over the din of battle. Her cloak was little more than tatters under her, more holes and scorch marks than not. Her blasts fired harmlessly off into hapless shrubbery as she arched her back. She'd gone down fighting, and she intended to make the demons pay until there was nothing left to throw at them. She was phasing free of the iron grip on her hands even as her brain caught up to the faces around her and the grass under her bare thighs.

She blinked, forcing her eyes to focus. No demons. Holy Ward. Danger Manor.

Taylor stopped fighting, her hands unclenching. Her body was healed but she was as ragged as the rest of them from the endless waves of demons.

"S'gonna take me a second." Popping in and out of phase normally took Taylor no effort much less thought, but the edges of her body blurred a few times before she managed to turn fully solid under Jack's hands, her body sagging with exhaustion. She looked up at Jack with bleary eyes, taking note of his condition and not for the first time. Her voice rasped softly, "Dark Star pull us out?"

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So this is what hell was like. Words failed at describing how wholly and truly bad it was. Samael had given up trying to convey it. If anyone had any doubt as to how bad it had gotten out there, one look at Samael conveyed the message. He never looked particularly well kept after he finished transforming due to his clothes being in tatters, but this was just something else.

He was covered in blood, a great deal of it already dried. His hair was just completely matted down to his skull. If was nearly impossible to find a patch of skin that didn't have a welt or a bruise. His left arm looked like it had a bunch of bite marks on it, he had 3 diagonal slashes across his back and his right leg looked burnt. However, it looked like all those wounds had been tended to and were on the mend, most were entirely scabbed over. But what spoke more volumes than any of that was his eyes. They here hollow, dead, but yet still had the spark of life deep inside. It looked as if every ounce of his being was dedicated to survival at this point. In short, he looked how everyone felt.

"Da. He got us." said Atlas simply to Taylor leaving the elaboration to Jack. Samael then turned his attention to Stesha "Bad. Ve slowed zem down, killed.... zousands. Zey just kept coming." To no one in particular he asked "Vhy is zis place safe, and no ozer?"

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After a few minutes of stumbling through the mansion, Colt had finally found the liquor cabinet. He was delighted to see that Ace Danger had an extensive collection. He had simple tastes, however, and grabbed a bottle of Jim Beam from the rack along with a short squat glass. He practically slammed the glass down onto the table in frustration. "Damnit!"

Seconds later, two ice cubes clattered into the glass after he pulled them from a nearby ice bucket. The cap to the liquor bottle was already clattering across the table and the smooth tan liquid trickled over the rocks in the glass. "It just ain't right." He said to himself, thinking he was alone in the room.

"It ain't supposed ta go this way." He quickly snapped his head back and threw the liquid fire down his throat. It was like a second wind to him. The burning sensation that met his esophagus matched that of the many bruises he had taken in his battles outside the barrier. His entire body was on fire, and thankfully, the liquor did something to dull some of the pain.

The glass clacked back onto the table, as colt leaned forward. Gripping the edges of the table with both hands he stared at the wall for a few good moments as he tried to make sense of things. He had seen things today that he wished he could forget. He had seen atrocities committed by the demons that would upset even the hardest man's stomach. "Hoooo." He blew out a deep breath that he hadn't realized he had been holding.

He grabbed for the liquor bottle with a shaking hand, and realized that some of the adrenaline that had been pumping through his body since the beginning of the day must be leaving his system. He poured another glass of the bourbon and set the bottle down. Reaching for the cap he screwed it back on and set the bottle back in the rack. He was a guest in this house and he knew there were bounds that he could not overstep.

He returned to the table and drank the second glass while leaning with his back against the hard surface. He drank slower this time lost in thought...

---

The door to Danger Mansion swung open and Colt stepped out into the outside air. As the door swung shut behind him, he pulled another cigar from his pocket and stuck it in his mouth. Striking a match on the edge of the door as it swung past him he cupped the tiny flame with his hands hoping to prolong its life long enough to be of use. He remarked as he did his best to protect the flame from a sudden breeze how much the tiny flame was like the mansion he now stood in front of. It was like a beacon of hope in an otherwise uncaring world. It was the last bastion of life, flickering in what had become a god forsaken expanse of cement and steel. Suddenly, the breeze stopped and the flame flared to life anew. Colt smiled as he lifted it to the end of his cigar taking it as a sign.

Standing at the doors to Danger Mansion, Colt mentally reprimanded himself as he blew cigar smoke from his mouth. It was a nasty habit, he knew. And Grim would have scolded him for it. But at times like these, what could a man do but give in to his vices. It was the little joys in life that kept a man walking and talking. They kept him sane in a crazy world. Colt shrugged his shoulders and placed the cigar back into his mouth.

---

A few moments later, another set of heroes landed on the grass in front of the mansion. They huddled together, obviously just as battered as he was after their trials. Colt approached the group with the slow measured gait of a man that was in no hurry to hear bad news.

"Reckon y'all look like I feel." He greeted them, "Atlas." He tipped the brim of his hat to the larger man, having met him some time ago at a poker game, he felt more relaxed having someone he had previously met to converse with. "I take it things still ain't much better out there?"

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Dead Head

To no one in particular he asked "Vhy is zis place safe, and no ozer?"

"Weeellllll," wheezed a mashed and mangled pile of body parts which Samael had dropped like an old backpack, "judge... in'... by... the... tin... gle... ah... feel... all... through... mah... bones......... I'd... say... there's... some... sort... of... ho... ly... wards... up."

"Lit... tul... help? Ah... think... mah... knee... caps... done... pierced... mah... lungs...."

The pile of parts had been twitching as it gasped and wheezed, and very slowly began to unfold. It looked as if it had been a man that had been picked up by a giant and crushed into a compact ball... after he had been battered and slashed and pierced and burned, a lot. Which is pretty much exactly what had happened to him.

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