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Vanguard#1- The Inevitable, The Inexorable...

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GM

May 2nd, 12.35 P.M., 2012.

The day had dawned as it had many times before, with vast crenelations of clouds soaring up to the heavens like some higher sea stretching across the horizon wherever one looked seaward, softer and sparser collections of vapor visible to the west that made the Wharton Forest glitter in its slow waves.

The air was warm, the sea calm, the city life thrumming along at its steady and brisk pace, the citizens of Freedom City going about their daily lives with their sight fixed on what lay ahead of themselves. Thomas Morgan's day had gone pleasantly well so far, with little in the way of crimes to halt or evil-doers to defeat, and all signs pointed to a quiet and productive day.

Which was what made the sudden 'THUD' of the Deep One against the glass wall of the computer shop that much more startling. The customers that had stopped by weren't as panicked as they might have been, but they were still shocked and horrified to see one of that race, even if they were slumped against the wall unmoving. Just beyond it, a glowing figure clad in a shining suit of orange armor studded with emeralds laughed, holding aloft a glowing stone "Beware, evil one from the depths! You cannot stand against one such as I, who bears the mighty EYE OF ARGON! None can! I shall reign over all with this power in my hand! Bwahahahaha!" The figure fired a beam of power into the sky...

Meanwhile, several thousand feet above...

The immense storm spirit had become rather more amenable to persuasion after the Ages Lost had shredded most of its body with cannon-fire, but for all that it looked as imperious as it could, a vast white beard of cumulus clouds drifting below dark and thunderous masses lit by the occasional flash of lightning in their depths.

"VERY WELL, STORMBREAKER, YOU HAVE WON THIS ROUND, BUT KNOW THIS: I SHALL RETURN" it stated as dramatically as it could while its frayed body began to slowly disperse.

At that precise moment, a stabbing column of light seared through it, evaporating the powerful spirit with a wail of agony! The ray of force began to slide back to earth, revealing a perfect trace to its firer, and the maniacal shouts drifted clearly up to the ageless dragon's ears, bearing their message of defiance.

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The brave captain of the Ages Lost stood facing her mountainous, now-fading foe, his storm- subdued by the power of Stormbreaker- fading with him. This was a defeat for the dread Captain Cumulus, yes, but cannons weren't nearly enough to destroy this creature. She'd only managed to disperse it for a time.

"And I look forward to defeating you once more, Captain." She offered the fading spirit a salute with her blade before sheathing it, making sure to wipe it dry before putting it away as she wondered why, if he doesn't actually have a ship or any military station, he was still called a captain.

She wiped a wet lock of hair from her eyes as she calls over her shoulder, "Retrieve Lord Giles."

Between the call and the arrival, the beam struck, annihilating what was left of her foe. The captain's eyes go wide as a man comes to the deck, immaculately groomed with salt-and-peppered hair. Having missed the laser-lights show, he asks, "Has another foe declared a vendetta to be added to the list, m'lady?" The former noble of a long-dead lord could do little to help in the daily upkeep of a ship, so he served as a clerk and accountant. Which included maintaining records of Captain Silvia's many, many foes.

"No," Silvia answered, "I do not believe that will be necessary, Lord. My apologies for disturbing you."

"Very well, m'lady." And with a bow, he leaves the way he came.

"Miss Qin," She said to her helmswoman, a mostly-human-looking woman with leathery skin, though the fact that she had four arms and the eyes of some sort of lizard suggested otherwise. "Take us down, and prepare for evasive action." Whoever made that blast, they had clearly fallen upon something far more powerful than they have the sanity to use properly.

And at that, the ship began to descend.

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Thomas rolled his eyes. This was certainly unusual. He ran into the office in the back rooms of the building. He changed quickly into his costume.

Moments later, Voltage teleported into the air above the man with the Eye of Argon, arms crossed. A cursory examination of the name on the internet revealed everything Voltage needed to know. This was bad, very bad. This sort of thing didn't tend to do good things when it was acquired by people.

"I don't know how you got your hands on that, and I don't care. You're putting people at risk, and that means you have to stop."

He did not know exactly how powerful this man was, but it didn't matter. Luckily, he knew that the Eye of Argon was going to get the attention of someone, somewhere. He just hoped he'd have help if it proved too tough to put down by himself.

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GM

The Ages Lost slid grandly down through the sky, sails crackling in the sharp winds hurtling above the coastline, thin streamers of cloud rendering most of the city hazy and indistinct, save for the area above somewhere in the Riverside district the piller of energy had stabbed out from. it led down to a parking lot ringed about with small shops and local businesses, mostly having to do with food of some kind. it was easy to see both the armored man gleaming with the same kind of radiance as the blazing shot had, and a flying man in black and grey confronting him. The armored man had long reddish-blond hair and a good face, clean-shaven, a long forehead, and a curly beard.

The armored man seemed briefly surprised, but rallied in mere instants to make a cage of power around the Deep One. "'Putting people at risk'?" he scoffed "What nonsense! I will rule this world with the aid of this majestic jewel, and all shall know Peace on Earth!" he roared, glowing at a nearly eye-hurting level, holding the Eye(which was in a metal net attached to his armor's waist by a chain) aloft. Then he saw the giant ship above both of them, which registered as a slight pause and tilt of his head before he quickly resumed his rant. "You heroes, you can't see the big picture! A robbery stopped there, a few Nazi doomsday weapons dismantled here, you never go right for the real root of Evil: CHAOS! The fractured nations, the splintered families, the billiosn working against each other will all be int he past once i take the reins of history in my hands, and get us back on track with Paradise! I, the mighty Amber Curse!"

He looked cooly at Voltage, adding scornfully "if you want to stop me..then come and try!"

he pointed at the electicity-controller with a hand that was slowly growing brighter with the same light as the Eye's, the building charge illuminating the bones and veins of his hand in a ghoulish fashion.

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High up above, the captain listens in on the mad rant and shakes her head. "We've found our loose cannon. Mister Bosque," she says to her gunner with the synthetic eye as she unsheathes her blade. "Remove him."

With a grunt, Bosque starts barking commands to his crew, which starts aiming an entire broadside at the thug as the ship lists to the side to make the shot a little easier, and they begin dropping a barrage on the armored man sufficient to reduce an elephant to paste. After their hard-fought battle against Captain Cumulus, they are not in the mood for another long, drawn-out battle. Much better to end it in an instant.

"So ends another arrogant upstart," the captain says as she looks upon the billowing smoke from the destruction she just ordered, eyes locked to confirm the casualty.

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GM

The shots slammed heartily into the slightly sun-softened asphalt, sending up a spray of molten tar and gravel around their target. As the clatter subsided, and the alarms of those cars pelted hardest by the debris began their annoying wails, the smoke and dust cleared to reveal the Amber Curse staring smugly at the Ages Lost, surrounded by the signs of bombardment but incredibly unscathed by the assault. Flicking a few stray golden hairs back into place, he called out jeeringly "Put some effort into the next shots, or your ship will be torn to splinters, obscurantist!" he yelled, bones and veins suffusing with the terrible light as he took up a combat stance, still taking care to keep Voltage before him.

With a flash, a surge of power roared from his hands towards the starship, leaving a grey vapor behind itself as it slammed into the hull.

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The blast tears forth, carving a six-foot gash that tears clean through the ship before veering down and petering out just moments before it can start carving into the keel. The glowing lights of the cannons flicker and spark, a jolt arcing through half the cannon crew and knocking them off their feet as the ship reels, men and women nearly falling off as the ship lists wildly before steadying out.

"Miss Qin," "Keep your distance. Everyone, begin repairs; this one is mine."

With that, she walks to the side of her ship, steps off, and keeps walking, the wind catching up under her cloak and carrying her until she leans into a dive towards her foe, but before she even reaches him, she calls upon the air all around him to tighten around him, grabbing the man in a visible whorl of dust.

"This ship shall never fall, so long as her captain draws breath."

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Voltage fired off a blast of electricity, trying to hit the screaming idiot. Unfortunately, the timely arrival of a space ship threw his aim off, narrowly missing him.

"You're going to stop here." He said, watching the world around him. He hoped that this situation would resolve quickly. He didn't need it to get worse than it already was.

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GM

Flinching a little as the arc of electricity narrowly missed him, making a shallow pool of melted tarmac just next to him and noticeably standing his hair on end, the armored man quickly laughed off the assault, calling over jeeringly "Ha! A pitiable attempt, even for someone who wields such outdated weaponry as native powers! The chain of native standing will be broken, and with artifacts and devices such as these" he gestured to his armor and the Eye "We shall reign over this planet as never bef-!" he was abruptly cut off by Stormbreaker's attempt to imprison him inside a whirlwind.

The whip of air swirled about the glowing man, reaching out with ephemeral fingers to sieze him and kicking up a great deal of dust dislodged by earlier attacks. However, with a neat dive the Amber Curse threw himself away from the attack, regaining his footing with little difficulty despite his cumbersome armor. With a sniff of disdain he brushed off the dirt that marred his orange metal finery. Raising the Eye on its chain he said something in a language neither of the two could understand, with syllables like a castles and adjectives like flowing rivers. With a rasp and hum of energy, a wide and flat disk appeared high in the sky, which he neatly flew up onto, spread his arms up towards the rampart-like clouds, and commenced to proclaiming "Neither of you can stand against me! Your attacks are feeble, your tactics ill-planned, your weapons not nearly up to the task! I, The Amber Curse, will make both of you into the first bricks of the pyramid of death that must be raised to RULE THE WORLD! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!"

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Silvia tries to bear the gloating with grace, but one look in her eyes shows her building rage. This man is not merely an enemy with firepower, to be faced down and respected. No. He is annoying. Far too much so to give that respect.

"Say what you will on land, but the winds and stars are mine."

Her sword makes one long, smooth stroke through the air, causing a barely-visible, razor-sharp ripple to fly forward. She dives, following with another slash. And another. And another, until she's encased in a razor-sharp tornado that she sends crashing into the armored man and his disk mid-gloat, the captain coming to a stop not five feet away.

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GM

"Ha! As if ano-GARRGH!"

This time the whirlwind of razor air struck home, slicing several cuts clean through the Amber Curse's armor, and making an ominous crack appear in the floating disk, which wavered almost out of existence before being bolstered by its originator, who shouted something unintelligible as he staggered slightly under the assault, glaring vengefully at his assailant. He wasn't much hurt though, except perhaps in his pride. The Eye was reacting much more strongly, pulsating, and a stream of power linking it to the disk was getting erratic.

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Voltage channeled energy through his body. This guy had to go down, and soon. he couldn't let him just get away.

The electric current built through his body until it reached the breaking point. Silver current jumped off of his body and into the air.

The bolt flew through the air with surprising speed, a silver tinted arc that slammed into Amber Curse, causing him to recoil for a moment as the current flowed through his body.

"That had to have hurt." Voltage said, finally glad to hit him with something that would help end the fight. He was unsure who this newcomer was, though, he suspected she was on his side.

He hoped.

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GM

Shuddering and jangling under the electricity racing through his body, Curse dropped to one knee for a moment, eyes glazed as he gradually got his bearings, panting all the while. After a moment's respite, during which the wind whistled and the faint cries of a small crowd gathering below could be clearly heard by all(though only Stormbreaker could have actually made out what they were saying), he regained his footing and glared at the two interlopers "Wh-weak attempts" he gasped out angrily, the internal glow returning as he slowly began to ascend higher into the sky, sill standing atop the disk and directing his attention to Voltage "I shall answer with as little care!" so saying twin streams of the gem's power blazed from his eyes, slamming into Stormbreaker as he whipped his head abruptly in her direction. Their power was obviously reduced from their previous strength.

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Stormbreaker's swirling, scything mass of wind continues to gain momentum as she turns, attempting to drag a tornado with her, but the effort leaves her distracted, and a blast from the armored madman leaves her flying towards the ground, reeling.

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GM

As the dragon plummeted downwards, something quite unexpected happened. A fierce blast of air came from behind her, propelling her just far enough forward to land with a loud thud on the disk of force, sending short ripples through the construct. The Amber Curse stared blankly at this baffling occurrence for a moment before shrugging and proclaiming "Ha! It all goes exactly as I have planned it! To the very second!" he added offhandedly, like one very happy about finding a pebble they had lost a while back and had some small affection for with no discernible logical basis whatever.

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Voltage nearly slapped his forehead. Not only was he dangerous, he was a delusional idiot. To be dangerous was bad enough, to be a dangerous idiot was even worse. To be a dangerous, delusional idiot invited all sorts of problems.

This guy had to be taken down before his idiocy got someone hurt, or killed.

"I don't know who you are, or what you think you're doing..." Voltage said as his hands began to crackle. "But you're a danger to everyone around you, and I'm not going to let you simply get away!"

The blast flew through the air and hit Curse right in the center of his chest, sending him reeling. It seemed as though Curse was still on his feet, but in no shape to take any offensive measures.

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Silvia bounces off her foe's platform, rebounding with a flip and a puff of air and landing back on her feet, facing the armored buffoon. While he's off balance, she pulls off a few feints and some footwork to trick him to the edge of the platform, giving her the space for one good lunge, putting all her weight behind a thrust that veers low, going right through the meat of the thigh.

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GM

The armored man got into the groove of sidestepping the feinted slashes, and indeed, he almost managed to evade the flashing blade, to the point where he actually looked up from it for a second to laugh at the dragon who wielded it. Which was what let the blade strike home. He stopped, face frozen into belligerence, and he looked down at the weapon sticking out of his leg before looking up at Stormbreaker with a look of very real fear, his old bravado vanished like a puff of smoke and he said very quietly and seriously "Oh God." He then fainted dead away.

With an explosion of amber-colored power, the armor dissipated, flying into the orb(that remained lashed to him on the belt) along with the energy suffusing his body and followed quickly by the platform, the whole disk flowing like quicksilver into its parent.

He wasted no time starting his descent, and as he did the eye began to pulse ominously as it trailed behind the body, the Amber Curse's unconscious form. What that meant could only be guessed at, but it was plain he wouldn't survive hitting the ground from that height.

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Voltage cursed inwardly. The idiot may have played with power beyond his understanding, but Voltage wasn't about to let him die.

He dove fast and matched Amber Curse's speed. As soon as he reached it, he reached out and plucked the unconscious man from the air. Slowing his descent gradually, he flew down and gently placed the man on the ground.

"You are reckless, stupid, and playing with forces far beyond your control. I'm not about to let you die though..."

He stood by, watching, making sure the man didn't wake up.

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Silvia follows as her foe falls, only to have the cape rescue the man in time. So, instead, she goes after the relic, removing her cape and revealing her missing arm, so that she won't touch it with bare skin as she snatches it up. After that, she addresses the lightning warrior.

"Get him to a hospital, quickly," she starts. "I need my sword back." At that, she nods to the blade still sticking out of his leg.

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GM

It was at that precise moment when the eye's pulses reached a speed where one was impossible to tell from the other, and with a high-pitched roar of unleashing energy, a golden vortex appeared around the Amber Curse, pulling him in a rush of displaced air. The portal hung in the air, glittering and smoking with power. Meanwhile, an AEGIS van had arrived, and the wounded Deep One was being cared for.

A small crowd had gathered, and were cheerfully congratulating the two on their victory(looking slightly worried at the sword in the man and a few calling for an ambulance) when the disappearance happened. The shouts of "Good job!" "Woohoo, we love you guys! Keep it up!" and similar sentiments quickly died down, and an expectant hush grew as they watched the two heroes.

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Voltage looked over at his newfound ally and shrugged. The guy was probably going to try again at a later date. Still, jumping through an unknown portal was a bad idea.

"I'm going in." He said, nodding to her. "If you follow, we should watch out for a potential ambush. Don't want to get attacked as soon as we arrive."

He took a moment to glance around, making absolutely sure the situation on that side of the portal was taken care of, before diving through the portal to the other side. He was worried, but he figured he was smart enough to figure out what to do from there.

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The good captain goes from taking a bow at the cheers to a suddenly more pensive mood when the relic pulls its vanishing act, taking her broad grin along with it. She approaches one member of the crowd who looks like a reporter.

"May I borrow those for a moment, please?" She gestures towards a pen and pad. It's rather impressive how she manages to scrawl a legible note with two fingers whilst the rest of her hand holds the pad. When she's done, she manages to rip out the page while still holding onto both pen and pad. "Thank you, mam."

The note is simply orders for her crew, which she sends to the ship along the winds. They are to conduct repairs, then make way to Toledo for an adequate replacement sword, in case hers is lost permanently.

"Now, then," she says, turning to face the portal her companion had already jumped through, opting to walk instead. She'd never been one to turn down an adventure, after all.

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GM

The portal voyage turned out to be more prolonged and winding than most were, and they could see themselves passing through some kind of orange tunnel streaked with grey, filled with twists and turns before they abruptly collided with a blazing white circle.

Exiting with the same velocity that they had entered with, Voltage was sent sprawling across the ground for a few seconds, while Stormbreaker arrived with considerably more dignity. Their destination turned out to be a vast room with a low ceiling, with narrow windows dotting the walls letting in a bluish light. The Amber Curse lay at the far end of the room from the dais the portal had taken them onto, unconscious before a spartan altar that held the eye with a clawed stone hand, pulsating faintly and bathing half the place in a reddish gleam.

The room was made of what looked and felt very much like granite, with pillars of a dark volcanic rock supporting the ominous roof, which was decorated with a vivid mural depicting the eye being fought over by vast marine-themed armies, while holding them all at bay simultaneously. Several large rounded metal doors lay behind them.

Their foe was visibly breathing, but painfully due to the sword still lodged in his leg. The weapon didn't look like it was damaged in the least by the passage.

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The good captain walks over to the man, carefully removing her blade from his leg. Of course, with only one arm, she's using her boot on his hips to brace herself, so it looks substantially rougher than it truly is. With a blast of air, she cleans her weapon before sheathing it. Then, with the same razor-sharp blades of air she was earlier trying to thrash the man with, she tears his shirt into broad ribbons, using them to bind his wound. It would still be a good idea to get him to a hospital to get the hole cleaned and stitched properly, but as long as he stays off it for a week or so, he'll fine.

That done, she turns her attention back towards the temple. "This... is unfortunate. With the relic awake, it will use this place to gather its power, then return to this fool, or else find another host. And that man still needs to reach a hospital." She removes her cloak, then attempts to use it to insulate herself from the relic's touch, that she may safely remove it from the dais. It's unlikely to work, but it's worth the attempt.

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