Jump to content

Recommended Posts

"Then let us go," said Frost as he moved to join Gaian Knight. "I can crack floor if necessary," he offered, not sure of the geokinetic's true power. He turned and studied the figure of the scientist for a moment, considering his fate, and shot a glance at the others. "I suggest we bring informant with us. If he should blab, enemy would be alerted - if he does not blab and we fail, I suspect it would go hard for him and family." Maybe this particular place and situation was a new thing for Frost, but he knew what dictators were like well enough. "And local who knows story can be of help to us." He gave the man a frank stare and said, "You know there is little you can do to betray us. If confronted by your god, tell her you were threatened with frozen statue. Will be convincing." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Fair enough," Gaian Knight agreed, gesturing at the man - at his beckon the doctor's cocooned form floated into the air to join everyone else on the platform. "We'll hopefully see you there, Willow - take care of yourself. And the floor...nah."

He gestured at the already-lengthening tunnel into darkness below the building, where the concrete could already be seen giving way to dirt and stone as their platform descended. Above them, earth closed up the tunnel over their heads until those without exotic senses had only the moving air and their own inertia to tell them they were moving...and moving increasingly fast. "Concrete used to be stone and clay. It's not great to work with, but ultimately it remembers where it came from. It still knows how to listen."

Share this post


Link to post

"But what about the ones who didn't cry out?" Fleur asked curiously, even as she surreptitiously gathered her power around herself. If there was going to be a fight, she wanted to be ready to  strike or flee as necessary. So far, the Mother hadn't shown any indication that she'd noticed the rest of the team. Keeping her attention could preserve their tactical advantage. "Surely there were some who liked the way their lives were and who enjoyed technology. Perhaps there were even some who would have fought back. What became of them?"

 

She threaded her fingers together, tiny vines beginning to grow in the palms of her hands. "And what of my world?" she went on. "I'm very sure that none of my people cried out to you, and yet your tendrils extended there anyway, with the promise that seeds would follow. What are you planning on doing there?" 

Share this post


Link to post

The Mother's expression turned mournful for a second. "There were those who protested," she said. "We gave them a chance to leave. Many of them did. But there were those who stayed and brought chaos to the streets, who burned the new infrastructure and struck at our charity. There was only so much we could do to convince them. They were exiled, but some returned and..." The Mother shook her head. "There was only so much we could do. As for the others, I've sent my emissaries forth to try to provide more support for Eden. A multiversal invitation to join in the rebirth of the first civilization. Why? Did the energies do something strange to the emissaries?"

---

Meanwhile, Gaian Knight took the rest of the group through the bowels of San Francisco. The root structure running through the city was truly labyrinthine, less of a network and more of an edifice. And as they travelled closer to Fleur's location, Willow could sense the information traveling through the vines getting denser and denser, as if some node lay just ahead... but perhaps a good half a mile before Fleur's location.

Share this post


Link to post

Lacking the nocturnal vision of most of his counterparts, the tunnel was dark to Comrade Frost with the exception of the rapidly moving sides, the outlines of his fellow heroes, and especially the heated outline of the lovely Tiamat. Later, later... As Gaian Knight reported the obstacle that lay ahead, Frost weighed the potential target before them with the colleague under threat on the other end. Leaving Fleur to fight alone wasn't something he was comfortable doing, but on the other hand he had had plenty of occasions to see that she was powerful indeed. "I suggest we kill this now," he said, eyes glowing red in the darkness beneath his parka's hood. "Cut off root and remove obstacle from Fleur de Joie's way. One of us, maybe you, dragon, go up and help her with destroying whatever abomination lies upon surface. Is most efficient way of dealing with problem." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Your emissary was disoriented, destructive." Fleur stepped forward a few more steps. "Violent. We were able to restrain her peacefully, but she still seemed enthralled, as though her will were not her own. She spoke of seeds coming with her. Do you intend to force other worlds into your new civilization?" she asked, her voice growing a bit sharper. "You may have driven out or killed anyone who would not bend to your will here, but the multiverse is a big place, and I suspect most universes will not be interested in being overrun by plants. What you've made here is lovely, but I suspect the cost was higher even than you're letting on. What happens to people who don't do what you want them to here? Are they forced to leave? Are they allowed to leave? Can the people here do as they choose, or do you choose for them?" 

Share this post


Link to post

The Great Mother took a step back, like an elephant rearing back from a mouse. Her thus far beatific features grew slightly more arch as she turned her gaze upon Fleur. "Those who won't see the glory," she said, "are allowed to leave. But most of them see what I have provided. I have given them an alternative to the prison of technology, one that leaves them just as satisfied and hearty. They do as they want, and as they need. There are no cages here."

---

The ping of Willow's floral radar was growing louder and louder, and Gaian Knight could feel greater and greater disturbances in the soil around him. He punched through solid earth and found that here, it yielded easily. A small cavern lay before them, like a bubble carved into the very fundament. Great roots the size of subway tunnels ran through overhead and underfoot, as the group remained suspended on Gaian Knight's platform. And at the far end of the chamber lay a corpse, thin and brittle. At least, it seemed a corpse - emaciated, sallow skin, run through with cord-like vines. But the vines were breathing...

Share this post


Link to post

"Oookay, early stop, folks," Gaian Knight announced as their platform slowed to a mid-air halt. "I can't quite see it, but there's something in--"

He cut off as the platform lit up slightly - Tiamat's grinning face was cast in an eerie glow as fire trickled out of her mouth to cast flickering light and shadow across the area.

"--in this underground pocket with a probably poor air supply, if it gets fresh air at all," he emphasized. His partner in crimefighting grumbled something about magic, but the world went dark again as her fire died out. "Thank you. The great thing about a coat like mine is that you're never short on pockets; I should have, somewhere...aha."

He flicked his flashlight on, shining its beam across the room until it landed on.... "....well. That's....grim."

Share this post


Link to post

"But first you took their homes away from them without asking, and you influence their will even now," Fleur guessed, curling her fingers around the seeds in her hand. She had no way of telling for sure, but the woman they'd rescued had certainly not been in her right mind, and the story of the Champions suddenly defecting to the side of "Gaia" didn't sound like something they'd have done on their own. She herself made no study of plant pheremones, but she knew it could be done. "You cannot spread your domain into other worlds," she said firmly. "Those worlds have the right to grow and develop in their own way without your interference. If you don't restrain yourself, you will have to be stopped." 

Share this post


Link to post

Frost folded his hands for a moment, studying the 'sleeping' man, his form a strange mash of colors against the thermovore's infrared vision. They were in the belly of the great beast that had devoured this world's California and had reached its tendrils out to his own. "The root," he said quietly, and with great feeling. "Were there more below, victims or some sort, we would have seen earlier in expedition." Underground, in the depths of rock and soil, it was cold indeed next to the Soviet hero. Figuring he could sort out his teammates and their goals with his words, he said, "I suggest we hit it now. Fast and hard, before root system can convulse around us. Eliminate problem at its source, and save Fleur de Joie from whatever has delayed her on the surface. If not, we go above and we _negotiate_ with intelligence now that its secret is known to us." 

Share this post


Link to post

As Comrade Frost discussed what to do about the body before them, the tendrils running through it slowly began to twitch. Swiftly after, they convulsed, with dirt shaking off from around them. The eyes of the body flew open, and it looked down on them with as much fury as its emaciated form could muster.

---

"Then I am sorry."

The Great Mother stepped forward, her legs causing the earth under her to shake. "This is my dream. This is my Eden. I have brought peace here. I will bring peace elsewhere. This is my mandate." The warm, maternal voice had slowly bled away; now, there were hints of a more masculine voice, as if the "earth mother" act had been sheer ventriloquism. A fairly familiar voice to Stesha's ears...

"I thought you might see the way I did. That together, we could create a paradise that stretched across all worlds. But if you will not aid me..."

Massive roots burst from the soil walls of the chamber, lashing about like hungry tentacles.

"...then I have no choice but to secure my domain," said the Green Man.

Share this post


Link to post

The cavern quaked as the great roots of the overwhelming structure broke free from their moorings, lashing out into the air. The blank eyes of the emaciated corpse looked down on Gaian Knight and the others; somewhere, deep behind them, a glimmer of light flashed for half an instant as the vines lashed out towards the heroes.

"I am sorry it had to come to this," said the Green God, looking down at Fleur. "I sense greatness in you. Your talents, your potential... there is something within you with great potential to grow." Massive roots flew out from the Green God's body, striking towards her. "But then again, so does a weed."

Share this post


Link to post

Roots twined around Fleur before she could react, cocooning her body and pinning her arms to her sides. Outwardly she was completely unfazed, though inside she felt as though her heart were beating treble-time. Not just in fear, though there was some of that. It was anticipation, as though some part of her psyche she hadn't known existed was looking forward to testing her own powers against something so massive. "I'll take that as a compliment," she told him, making no visible attempt to struggle against her bonds. "Weeds are just flowers that don't need anybody's help to go where they like." 

 

She closed her eyes for a moment, drew in a breath. The chamber suddenly smelled overwhelmingly of flowers, lilies and lilacs, hyacinth and hibiscus, till it was nearly overpowering. As she opened her eyes, spread her arms, the roots around her crumbled into powder and fell away. The effect spread like a ripple in a pond, all of the roots suddenly withering and decaying from the force of her will. As her feet touched the floor again, she gave the Green Man a mirthless smile. "And weeds are almost impossible to get rid of." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Hahaha! Problems?" Tiamat taunted, flicking root dust and scraps off her shoulders. "It's okay, really - you're aged, and withered. It happens."

She grinned in the dim light cast from Gaian Knight's flashlight, her face all flashing red eyes and far-too-sharp-for-human teeth. "You've been out of the sun too long, old man. You've gone moldy, like the basement houseplant that won't die or the gunk that grows on rocks in caverns. Aw, but don't fret." Her grin widened, as if such a thing were possible, and her voice carried an odd echo - like it was coming from something much larger than even the amazonian heroine. "I brought some light and warmth for ya."

Tiamat's jaw hinged back and the darkness of their small cavern vanished before the light of a raging cone of fire.

Share this post


Link to post

The dryad saw perfectly well in the dim lighting before Tiamat opened her mouth and beget flame, and what she saw made her feel pity. She held the same pity for the Green Man of her own world, a decidedly unbalanced individual who accorded plants some measure of supremacy over motile life and who failed to see the truth of the matter; that all life was interconnected and interdependent.

The roots that exploded outward to crash against her and her companions withered almost the instant they constricted, FLeur's doing Willow assumed. Though before she allowed the roots surrounding her to be rendered dust, the ancient guardian seized them for her own. Again as before, the vines wrapped around her body, melding, shifting and altering their composition to form the dryad's signature armor.

There was a blur of movement, the dryad seeming to blend into environment, when suddenly she was in in front of the Green Man. Willow's amber eyes held a golden glow from the lingering flame of Tiamat as she launched an assault upon their foe.

Share this post


Link to post

Comrade Frost took a root in his pale white hand and began to pull, relaxing the constraints inside his body that prevented him from draining everything around him. He felt the heat drain from the Green God's body into his own, ice beginning to puddle and spread at his feet as the temperature in the cave around him dropped perceptibly. With no need to breathe and without a body to get tired, the Russian cold controller could stay down there sucking the life from the monster's body forever. Better not do that, though. he thought with a smile as his eyes glowed red in the darkness. As the breath of his allies began to fog up, Frost didn't speak, instead thrusting his hand deeper into the hole left behind by the collapsing root, feeling the very stuff of the Green God writhe and wriggle as he drained it away. Sometimes it was very good to be him.  

Share this post


Link to post

Gaian Knight stood like a statue on his platform, his flashlight's beam still resting on the Green God as the others assaulted him, providing light for their attacks. Only once they were done, when the proverbial dust cleared and their adversary had proven himself surprisingly durable, did he change.

Two new lights lit up above his flashlight - Gaian Knight's eyes glowed clear through his goggles as the cavern walls themselves took up arms against the would-be god, stones raining in on him from all sides.

Share this post


Link to post

It seemed the god was not as infallible as he presumed. Comrade Frost's cold touch quickly suffused through his veins, freezing capillaries and turning his roots to brittle chips. Gaian Knight's assault peppered what was left of his human body, going through the old, dried tissue easily. The roots began to shake and quiver, almost as if the plants were, on some level, screaming. Willow could tell, however. These weren't screams of pain. They were screams of anger.

---

In the main cavern, the Green God stumbled, the feminine form almost going to one knee as something tore through its veins. "I..." it said, the voice blurring between feminine and masculine, "you... what is this? You... would tear this all apart..."

It rose again, to two gigantic feet. "I WON'T LET YOU!" And roots with ends like spears tore from the walls, seeking out flesh...

Share this post


Link to post

One of the spear-tipped roots crashed straight into Fleur's chest, and instantly disintegrated into powder. She took another implacable step towards the Green God, not so much as bothering to brush the dust from her cowl. Somewhere nearby, her friends were fighting as well, she could tell from the noises and shouts echoing through the tunnels. The thought gave her confidence, and increased her determination at the same time. "You are the destroyer here, Green Man. You could've built your paradise anywhere, but you ripped up homes and cities to do it instead. And now you seek other worlds to crush as well?  You act like a savior, but you're really a tyrant, and we will not let you grow any further." 

 

She concentrated on the green creature in front of her, human but also plant, plant enough to call to her powers, plant enough to understand. Stretching out a hand, she curled her fingers into a fist as though wrapping them around something intangible, then pulled. Green energy rippled through the air, as scattered parts of the god's body became powdery and gray. 

Share this post


Link to post

Both Gaian Knight and his sidekick seemed relatively unfazed by the root assault - the latter ran the back of her free hand across a shallow mark on her face, looking down at the small blood smear and grinning. "Not bad for a mummy," she complimented.

She was off the platform then, closing distance to the Green God and bringing her steel mace down at him with a strength that was impressive even for her not-inconsiderable build. The blow caught nothing but roots, but that didn't seem to dampen her spirit in the least. "Not bad at all! Maybe you'll be interesting after all, withered old man!"

Share this post


Link to post

Willow grunted from the impact of a spear-like root. The Green God's attack shattered the armor around the forearm the dryad raised to protect her uncovered face, spitting the exposed copper-hued skin. Within moments, however, Willow's flesh knitted itself back together and her armor followed in turn once again encasing her armor in its bark-like protection.

The ancient guardian's armor continued to change, becoming sleeker and more streamlined as Willow launched herself in a furious assault of kicks and punches that would have made Jack of all Blades proud for clearly, despite the numerous distractions, his unarmed combat training was well learned. Unfortunately Willow's attacks did little more than superficial abrasion to the Green God.

The white haired woman swore. It was something old, Atlantean, and vile.

Share this post


Link to post

Ice crawled up the walls of the tunnel around Comrade Frost, who took a step back from the chilling aftereffects of his own power but didn't back away from his work as chilling, killing cold spread up the blackening vines. Too slow too slow - Fleur has the right idea. Frost was growing impatient with this fiend; this smiling avatar of a false god that had done so much horrors to this world and had sought to do so much more to other places, and other peoples. "<Come to me and die, you miserable bastard,>" he said in venomous Russian, his eyes turning red for just a moment beneath his hood before he shouted in English, "Target what lies beneath the armor! Woody skin is tough but flesh beneath will freeze or crush just as well as any flower!" 

Share this post


Link to post

"We aren't executioners, Frost," Gaian Knight warned. Both hands and both eyes were glowing now, little rocks orbiting him like tiny moons. "It isn't our place, or our world. But you're right about one thing - this has to end."

His hands made fists, and without any other warning the base of his platform shattered into a cloud of fist-sized blunt stones. From atop his much-reduced perch the hero swept his arms forward; like two swarms of over-sized insects the cloud split apart and drove straight for the Green God and his vines.

Share this post


Link to post

It was like watching a tree try to stay upright after its trunk had been cut clean through. Back in the antechamber, the withered body twitched in its stony confines, as if trying to find some long-buried strength. The vines that ran in and out of it, once smooth and tense, now began to crack at the edges. Back in the main chamber, the Great Mother began to careen on her trunk-like feet, slamming into the smooth walls of the chamber. Rocks fell from the ceiling as the blow echoed throughout the root structure, causing the entire city to quake slightly. 

 

"No," the Green God said, all traces of a feminine facade now gone from his voice. "Not now. Not you. After so much. So much. It can't rot. Cannot rot. Not like this..."

Share this post


Link to post

As the Green God, now just the Green Man once more, teetered on shaking legs, Fleur raised her arms once more. Long vines ran down from the walls and spilled onto the floor of the earthen chamber, then wrapped themselves up around the would-be deity like a caterpillar going into a cocoon. They bound his arms and legs, covered his head, enclosing him, blinding and deafening him, but at the same time protecting him. Once the body was bound, the vines went further, wrapping the floors, the walls, slithering into the darkness and continuing to grow. In the chamber where the others were, the vines crept in and covered the walls and the crypt, pretty green vines with broad fuzzy leaves and star-shaped yellow flowers. 

 

Stesha raised her communicator and activated it, hoping the others would be able to receive through the layers of rock. "Don't hurt him anymore," she told the others, walking towards the wall where she thought her teammates might be. "He's done. But he's right, it can't end like this. If we shut him down, take him away to... wherever, what happens to this place? What he did was wrong, and he had to be stopped from doing it anywhere else, but hundreds of thousands of people, maybe more, depend on him just to survive. Suddenly taking him out of here would be a catastrophic natural disaster." 

Edited by Electra

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×