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Color Gangs: Infinity (The ROLE-PLAYING Thread)

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The Color Gangs War is far from over...  and the bloodiest battle in our community's history is yet to come.

 
 

RULES

 
 
1.  This is a story-based RP.  I may run an authentic D&D-esque set-up with this later on, once I have internet at my home, and don't have to use from the laundromat...  but that's not going to be anytime soon.
 
2.  Color Gangs War is considered canon for this RP.  While reading it is not required for this RP, it will give you a bit of backstory behind what all is happening here.  At some point, I'll have to try and re-up the episodes of CGW.
 
3.  For this RP, please assume the role of your mansion-verse persona, and only that.  The only exception to this rule will be me, who will have to juggle important NPCs who are based off of members here (Soon, Rift, etc.).
 
 

POINT OF ORIGIN

 
 
"POs" are some of the many fragmented worlds that exist alongside the Monger's City.  They are seperated from City by a thin veil that can be torn or walked through with little to no effort.  Each of these worlds is a parallel to City, and as such there are alternate versions of the people from City in these worlds in some cases.  Players may create POs with the explicit permission from me, so if you have an idea, don't be shy.  I can only come up with so much in this department because my experience with the Sparkbomb Alternate Universes is very limited (Sparkbomb Rangers, Color Gangs, and that's about it).
 

KNOW POINTS OF ORIGIN

...more to come later, but for now...
 
-The City-

Known simply as "City," this is the default PO, and where the story begins.  The City is the world that the WarMonger was trying to create in place of the Mansion.  It is a large megatropolis suspended over deserted wastelands by a collossal pillar that functions as an elevator.  There are weapon shops, and the City is patrolled by the Monger's personal Military Police.  The desert wastelands below stretch out in all directions, seemingly forever.  However, somewhere within the wastelands is the hollowed out remains of the mansion, where the story begins...  and between the great pillar and this forgotten mansion are legions of unknown enemies, watching silently and waiting for a chance to strike.



 
-Ground Zero-

Affectionately titled the "Under-city" by some, this is where the garbage from City is dumped, as well as things that are deemed a threat to it are disposed of.  While CSESEC handles the disposal, there are various unknown hazards that seem to...  take care of those deemed unfit for living in City by CSESEC, and thus, the group does not have to get their hands dirty eliminating the former Citizens.  While there isn't much to look at in the wastelands of Ground Zero, there is a rotting husk of a once proud estate that Awakened Sparkbombers will recall to be the Mansion, before its destruction.  While there are many dangers within the borders of Ground Zero, none of them have been documented, and thus far no one has returned alive to report on what they are.  As such, for the most part, they remain a mystery.


 

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

 

-Team A (Ground Zero)-


 

Player: Nell

Age:  25
Physical Appearance:  Around 6'2", Coffee skin tone, wears a dark grey outfit with teal accents, oxfords, dress pants, dress shirt, vest, bow tie and bowler. 
Gender:  M
Weapon of Choice:  Semi auto handguns, Anti Tank Rifle, Bladed Chain
Skills:  Marksmanship, Agility, Perception, Tracking and Weapon Repair
Biography:  Formerly the Mansion resident known as Nad13, this incarnation is also quite skilled with firearms and had in fact run a weapon shop prior to awakening. Nell is calm and pragmatic in the extreme, although often unaware how silly he may appear at times because of this. His current goal is to find his fellow teal comrades in arms, and to investigate the nature of this city.

 
 

Player: StratusNova

Age:  Late Twenties
Physical Appearance: A relaxed stance is favored by this white hooded gentleman. His short cropped autumn hair only pokes out of the hood in bang form above the round, red tinted lenses of his glasses. black slacks and athletic black shoes complete the ensemble that covers the athletic frame of the alabaster cloaked warrior.
Gender:  M
Weapon of Choice:  a set of colored paintballs that react to Stratus' alchemy transforming into different weapons
               Red - a one handed sword blade, blood red in color
               Blue - a forearm covering energy cannon
               Yellow - an electric cannon
               White - a celestial spear
               Black - a black sword modeled after a dragon
Skills:  Free running, multi-weapon proficiency, alchemy
Biography:  Stratus started off as a moderator in the mansion, essentially a glorified security guard. When the Color Wars started however he became part of Team White, a peacekeeping force that worked from the sidelines to keep the mansion safe. While not easily perturbed Stratus fights for the Masionites, and when needed to serve he gives his all. He'll keep fighting until the world is restored.
Class:  (Leave Blank for now.)
Techniques:  (Leave Blank for now.)
 

 
 

Player: HummingGillz. Usually goes by Humming.

Age: 24
Physical Appearance: The shortest person of the Sparkbomb Community (lol). 5 feet tall. Of Asian descent, with long dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. Usually wears a white, sleeveless, collared button-up dress with a thin brown belt around the waist and pink sneakers with white laces. Always wears a thin necklace with a small, delicate, light pink seashell.
Gender:  F
Weapon of Choice:  (What is it that you carry with you into battle?) (I have to think about this one for a little bit. I don't remember what weapons, if any, I had in the story.)
Skills:  Setting traps just about invisible to the naked eye. Quite light-footed and very quick, so good at dodging, sneaking around, and running away.
Biography: Humming was an easy-going, gentle-natured member of the Sparkbomb Community. When the war started, she became a vital part of Team Amber in laying out traps. She chose to sacrifice herself towards the end of the war to allow the White Team to escape from the War Monger's skeleton minions. Now, as a resident of the City, Humming's personality has largely remained the same, but ever since her awakening in the City, she has started to have vivid, strange dreams. Pleasant, happy dreams of laughing along with people she never met in a large building, with a robot clumsily following behind a tall, mysterious man. Nightmares of being in a desert, surrounded by black menacing skeletons. The nightmares always end with her glancing behind her shoulder to make sure a handful of people in white clothing had hurriedly escaped, before firmly pressing a button on a remote control device and then being swallowed up by a bright light...
Class: 
Techniques:  
 


 
-Team B (Hawaiian Penguin)-

Player: Nebiros
Age:  23
Gender:  Female
Height: 5'5"
 
Physical Appearance:CGW-INFINITY-Nebiros.jpg


 
Weapon of Choice:  Single-Shot Flintlock + Cutlass
Skills:  Acrobatics, Stealth, Marksmanship and Swordplay 
 
Biography:  Nebiros. "Pirate Queen". Teal Lead up until the destruction of the Mansion upon the violent reaction of the cores.
Nebiros of The City, prior to her awakening, is still a pirate at heart just as she was even before the events of War, and is nothing more than a troublemaker as a result. Tagging the city property, commandeering Spark Juice crates and selling it off to distributed underground markets, away from the eyes of Monger's military patrols, petty pickpocketing - nothing is really below the pirate.  Headstrong, stubborn and loyal to an extreme fault, her personality hasn't shifted between the events of War and her awakening in The City.
 
Nebiros is goalless. She dabbles in shenanigans purely because she can and the city patrols make her feel obligated to stir up a bit of chaos, despite knowing she's easy to find with her particularly flamboyant choice of dress.
With the fog slowly lifting from her head as she awakens with visions leaking through while she sleeps, she does want to find those who appear in her mind's eye, but beyond that she feels... stuck.
 
Class:  [static fizzles out the User UI, unable to access this data]
Techniques:  [uI fizzles again, this time flashing red and returning to the main menu]

 
 

Player: Elizabeth, goes by Liz
Age: Early twenties, by appearances
Physical Appearance: Slim with the appearance of a slight perpetual slouch she would stand at 5'6" if she bothered. A long, black wool coat reaching to mid-thigh in the front and mid-calf in the back obscures most of her figure, and the once-gleaming silver buttons up the breast and holding the flared sleeves and collar together are thoroughly tarnished. Her pale and angular face is dotted with nigh-invisible freckles on the cheeks and below her bright gold eyes, and framed by a waist-length mass of coppery-blond hair that fades to bright pink and is usually braided. Her hands are usually gloved, her feet booted in silver knee-high doc martins, and when she walks something blue-black and iridescent can be seen to hang down her back, peeking barely out from under the edge of her coat. 
Gender: Female
 
Weapon of Choice: Crackling violet bands of energy around her wrists that transform into "brass" knuckles, hand-enveloping talons, or two long-knives as required. Should those fail her, she carries a browning hi-power 9 mm in a shoulder holster and a spare clip just below. 
Skills: Hand-to-hand combat, breaking-and-entering (physical systems), breaking-and-entering/hacking (digital systems), cooking.
 
Biography: Liz cannot remember when or why she returned to the world of the Mansion, only that she left, and not on the best of terms. Still, between the universes some aspect of her persisted. When the War Monger and Rift began their final battle a compulsion drew those aspects into one solid (if fragmented) being. That existance was strong enough to be preserved, like the other denizens of the mansion, when the mansion was destroyed. The City has left her with life but no purpose, and Liz searches day-to-day for some sign or reminder of why she was brought back. Her mannerisms are suspicious and curt and her response times often lengthy (should she choose to talk before attacking or fleeing) due to the mental overhead of resolving the thoughts and memories of dozens of different Liz's that make up her personage. 
 
Class:
Techniques:

 
 

Player: Robert "Code" Ceil

Age: 26
Physical Appearance: Grey eyes, dark hair, combed down into his face but left spiked and wild on the top. Bridge of nose, chin and left eye bare distinctive scars. He wears a white button-up with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a pair of black slacks, with a pair of laceless black shoes. His pants are held up by a pair of dark brown suspenders, and he sports a tie with blue and red stripes running its full length, hanging loosely from his collar. His left eye turns red when interacting with Bey by any means.

Bey appears as a young woman, a foot shorter than Code. She has fiery, curled red hair, and is dressed in a red cloak with a hood. Her eyes are a bloody red hue, and her features are often translucent, as she has no physical presense, but can project herself through Code's eye during appropriate times.
Gender: Male
Weapon of Choice: Hardlight Constructs created by Bey.
Skills:  Hacking (Bey); Construct Creation (Bey); Enhanced Reaction Time (Bey); Hand-to-Hand Combat (Code); Recklessness (Code)
Biography: A veteran of the Monger's City Security Sector, otherwise known as CSESEC, a militarized police force that keeps the peace in the City. Robert Ceil was a soldier amongst soldiers, and his service record was littered with commendations and medals. As such, he was one of the select few within CSESEC to be selected for an experimental program known as the "ERASER Project." ERASER implemented Shackled Artificial Intelligences, that is, programs that were controlled by a host-programmer, directly into the brain of the candidate, manifesting as a color change in their right eye when the SAI was activated. The SAI could provide combat strategies and use the internal networks of the City to provide the Eraser with valuable intel regarding the enemy, and as an added bonus, construct hard-light objects and weapons in a matter of seconds for the Eraser to use in combat. Ceil's SAI, codenamed "BEY," was implanted, but had unforseen side-effects--flashbacks to a time he did not remember, a life he did not live, and a name that he did not go by--R/C. The vivid hallucinations and dreams were written off as a bug in the SAI's programming, but in truth, BEY contained somewhere within the circuits that were installed into Ceil's brain a small fragment of Red Color Core, and it acted as a key, opening a door that had been locked to Ceil until now. Slowly, BEY began to form quirks, and even began to develop a sort of personality that the SAI tried to keep under-wraps, but failed miserably as time went on, and soon Ceil discovered that somewhere along the line, because of exposure to the Fragment, BEY had unshackled itself from the Host-Programmer that limited her functions.

But the AI's going rogue made a shopping list of enemies. Soon, CSESEC began to hunt them, like fugitives, and even the ERASERs that had been their allies began to join the fight--during this conflict, Ceil found another fragment of the Red Color Core, large enough to blow the door open in his mind, and unleash Code upon the War Monger's world proper. The two find that collecting more Fragments give them added strength and abilities, and as such live as scavengers, and seek out others who have awakened, wielding Bey's arsenal against the forces that crafted it. Now in possession of more than a quarter of the Red Core Fragments and a few bits and pieces of the Blue and Yellow Cores, Code travels the City, waiting for the day that his sleeping allies awaken. Waiting for the day that he and Bey can pry the City back from the clutches of the Monger. Waiting for the day that he and his friends can once again walk the halls of the mansion, unafraid of the dangers that may lurk in the shadows.
Class:  (Leave Blank for now.)
Techniques:  (Leave Blank for now.)

 

PROLOGUE

Many Strands, but One Story

 

TEAM A

 

"A world, sleeping.  The key to the awakening is the Color Cores.  Gather their Fragments and destroy this world of lies."
 
Words, repeating over and over in your head.  Darkness is suddenly invaded by red, hot light, as eyes flutter open to a dismal scene--the smoldering ruins of a once proud mansion, perhaps left here as a grim reminder of the world that so few could recall.  Amidst the rubble, a tall, mechanical being that has fallen into disrepair, sweeps aimlessly, trying to tidy up the ruined mansion, unable to see through its right eye that it is facing an impossible task--the optical sensors shorted out and blackened from years, perhaps decades of neglect.  The once shiny blue chasis that the machine bares is scuffed and looks as though it had seen better days, and even the metal "hair" atop its head is bent and mishapen in places.
 
But there is no question--this is Sparkbot.  One of the last remnants of the old world, like the mansion it was casted into, a grim reminder of what had been taken away.  For a moment, Sparkbot pauses, as if sensing your presense, and starts towards the small group of wary travelers, broom spun about so that the bristles are facing up towards the sky, the robot looking as threatening as possible with its makeshift weapon.  However, after a moment, its expression relaxes.  "HELLO, <ERROR ERROR> OF SPARKBOMB."  Sparkbot greets, with a curt bow.  "HOW MIGHT I BE OF ASSISTANCE?"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
TEAM B
 
Lights flash and strobe in rhythmic sequence with the pulsating beat that echoes throughout the large, open room.  Glass fixtures hang from the ceilings, cerulean spheres with electricity arching back and forth within, as pillars with similar tops do the same, making a path from the entrance to the dance floor, and then to the bar beyond; at the center of the dance floor, a large surfing pengiun is immortalized in marble, sculpted by some nameless artist, displaying for all to see as they drank and/or danced the night away.
 
The bar was well stocked with Sparkjuice and all manner of other kinds of...  beverage.  A few patrons sat at the bar, the bartender standing near the center of the bar for convenience.
 
But at the far end, a man sat by himself, swirling the contents of his glass back and forth.  People seemed to avoid him, looking at him for a brief second before moving away at a brisk pace.  He was slender, with dark hair and a business suit, and a clean-shaven face.  His blue tie was neatly tucked beneath a storm gray vest.  His eyes were hidden behind harsh, orange sun-glasses that reflected all in their surface.
 
He swirled the glass a bit more, and took a swig of its contents, grimacing a bit.  "Could be a bit stronger."  he said, shaking his glass at the bartender, who noted him with a warry glance, before nodding reluctantly and moving to claim it from the man.  Free-handed now, the slim man leaned on his former drinking hand, looking out over the crowd writing on the dance floor.  His eyes fixated on the ladies, and a smile crept across his face.
 
"Well well, look who it is."  a voice rang from behind the man, as his smile quickly faded.
 
"Who the hell do you think you are talking to?"  he turned in his chair to face the person speaking, to find no one behind him.  A look of confusion spread across his face, as he started to turn back towards the bar...  and find a newcomer sitting just to his left.  He was about the same height, albeit a bit more muscular in build.  His hair was brown, and a bit on the wild side, his eyes a dull gray, and his clothing was very formal--a button-up, with a loose-fitting red and blue striped tie, and khaki-colored suspenders holding up his black slacks.
 
But the one thing that he noticed about the newcomer was the bottle he held in his hands, looking at the viscous liquid as it swished back and forth in the bottom of the bottle.  "You know...  this stuff will rot your guts out the way you're drinking it."
 
"Who are you?"  the man spoke to the newcomer.
 
The newcomer smiled, placing the bottle on the table.  "Straight to business, eh?  I can appreciate that.  And don't think I haven't noticed your body-guards starting to surround me."  he spoke, with a cocky grin.  "One of them makes a move, we're seeing what your blood looks like under a black-light, understand?"
 
The man gulped.  His voice, his very presense was intimidating.  "W-what do you want?"  he stammered, as the newcomer leaned back in his chair.  For a brief moment, the man thought he saw one of those gray eyes flash red, and out of nowhere, a young woman approached, holding a piece of paper.
 
She was much shorter than the other two, with stark, curled red hair hidden beneath a cloak of crimson, and a beautiful gothic-lolita-styled white dress beneath it.  Her green eyes almost glowed, as she handed the man the paper.  He wanted to make a move on her, but he could feel the newcomer's gray eyes boring holes into him from across the bar.  
 
If he made a move, it might be his last.
 
He looked over the page--a picture, printed out from a standard, black and white printer.  "So...  who is this supposed to be?"
 
"We were hoping you could tell us."  the young woman leaned on one hip, placing corresponding hand upon it.  The man looked her up and down as she did--was she teasing him?
 
"Word is that if there's anything going on in City, you know about it, Vertigo."  the newcomer spoke, finally addressing the man by name.  "We were hoping you'd heard something."
 
The color drained from Vertigo's face--as it had from every other informant the pair had questioned thus far.  "Who is this?  Why does seeing his face make my insides feel like they're turning inside out?!"  he demanded, visibly frightened.
 
"That's the same question that several of your colleagues asked right before the guns started blazing."  the young woman spoke, her face blank, emotionless.
 
"Now, now, Bey.  We didn't come her looking for trouble."  the man spoke with a chuckle.  "Look, Vertigo, it's true.  We don't want to start anything...  maybe we can have a drink, and you can tell me where I can find my friend here."  he suggested.
 
"I think you should leave.  Now."  he said, looking into the crowd, as similarly dressed men, with the same sunglasses, approached, about twenty to thirty of them materializing from the chaos pulsing around the two.  They flashed the guns holstered at their hip, to show that they meant business.
 
The man raised his hands, shaking his head.  "You're making a huge mistake."  he spoke, as Bey looked around at the thugs.
 
((sorry for the difference between Team A and B's lengths, but I need more interaction in A before I can continue.  Sorry for the wait, as well.  Be online tomorrow to check progress.))

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Why does this place feel so... familiar?

 

Liz glanced up from the crumpled slip of paper bearing the Hawaii Penguin's address, though the note hadn't included the establishment's name or picture. They never did. Just an address and a name, sometimes a date or a time if the buyer was feeling finicky. Usually she'd run the name against CSESEC's records and start from there, but Vertigo was a name familiar enough to her that it hadn't been worth the risk. Though supremely confident in her abilities to remain undetected, both in the digital and physical worlds, she was also aware that there were bigger and deadlier fish in the sea. The longer she could remain an unknown, the better.

 

Looking back down at the note she sighed. It was unfortunate that Vertigo had made so many enemies. His reputation easily preceded him, but up until today Liz's interests had been purely of informational purposes. She'd been trying to determine what he'd want in exchange before approaching - she knew enough to know she'd prefer whatever she could find to any suggestions he'd have given. But there was no longer any time for that; she'd have to rely on Vertigo to be willing to deliver his end of the bargain first. Otherwise things were going to get very awkward for her.

 

With a shrug of acceptance Liz began her approach. In her hands she slowly shredded the slip of paper, letting the blank portions flutter away in the gentle evening breeze that tugged at her coat and hair. The two scribbles of information were crumpled into their own tiny balls before being covertly slipped into her mouth. Though she carried a lighter for similar purposes there would've been nowhere to dump the smoldering ashes without risking a conflagration - the trash cans were woefully under-emptied in this district, and the refuse on the streets was even worse. Instead she mechanically chewed and swallowed hard, wincing slightly as she felt raspy paper slide down her throat.

 

The amount of force she used on the leather-wrapped door into the antechamber between club and outside was likely unnecessary, but satisfying. A surprised coat clerk blinked at her; he was younger than she'd have guessed at such an establishment, but the two heavyset bouncers with faces like granite more than made up for him. They stood just at the edges of her vision and Liz tried not to look over; her stride was confident and self-sure enough (with just enough swagger) to earn her no more than a passing glance. She wasn't any rival they'd been warned about, she obviously wasn't CSESEC, and she knew how to walk without giving away her concealed carries; what did they care if another young, somewhat attractive woman wanted to have a drink at the Hawaii Penguin?

 

"Er, ma'am, would you like to check your coat?" The clerk finally stammered, and Liz stopped and turned.

 

"I'd very much rather not, if its all the same to you." Her voice was a natural alto well-suited to sultry purrs and challenging growls, but for now her tone was flat. She almost added that she didn't plan on staying particularly long, but movement out of the corner of her eye drew her attention back towards the bar.

 

The movement was too collective, too organized to be mere bar-shuffling. Either my boss felt like doubling down without telling me or Vertigo has even more enemies than I thought. Either's going to make this somewhat difficult. She frowned, sauntering towards the crowd with no particular air of purpose. She attempted to pick out the bartender, furrowed her brows, stopped, and started again. A wonderful image of a woman looking for a drink with no idea what she'd wandered into. Vertigo's men were making an attempt at subtlety, which meant that her "accidental" nudges, brushes, and stumbles that brought her towards the nexus of activity didn't earn her an immediate ejection. She arrived at the edge of the abscess in the crowd and blinked in surprise at what she saw.

 

I thought they "ended support" for the SAI program a long time ago. What's one doing here? There was no mistaking Bey for anything else - not to an experienced eye - and anyway nobody actually went out dressed like that. Other than what she was, Bey was not particularly remarkable, but the man at the table who wasn't Vertigo tickled something in the back of her head. Had she seen him before? Where? When? In what lifetime? She closed her eyes and shook her head to still the dozens of thoughts that threatened to surface, inhaling sharply and then...

 

"Ah-hem." She cleared her throat just loudly enough to be heard.

 

"Usually I hate to interrupt situations like this, professional courtesy at all, but I'd like to speak with Mister Vertigo while his trachea and cerebral cortex is still in fully functioning operation." Liz took half a step forward, listening to the definitive clicks of safeties being unlocked.

 

"And while I just love a good firefight," she purred both the words in a manner that would've made many men uncomfortable, "I'm here on business. May I?" She gestured towards one of the remaining empty chairs at the table and waited for permission. 

Edited by Liz

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TEAM B

 

It did not take a trained eye to know that whoever this woman was, she was dangerous.  Despite this, Bey's voice was already pouring into the man's head, as tiny bits of information flashed over the right side of his vision like translucent computer windows.  Pictures and text...  or at least what could have been gathered for the woman.  "Code...  I think she's here for the same reason we are."  Bey's voice spoke silently into Code's head, without attracting much attention.  "Records show that she was amongst Rift's inner circle--one of his closest friends."

 

Still, keep your guard up, Bey.  Code thought to himself, and also to Bey, who could hear everything that went on inside his head.  City has saw some of our greatest allies turned into the most dangerous enemies we have ever faced.  he reminded her, to which she gave a curt nod.

 

"Business?  Business?!"  Vertigo shouted, nearly overpowering the rhythm--a remixed Legendary Encounter Theme from Pokemon X and Y, complete with the occasional Mewtwo outcry thrown in at random intervals for good measure.  "The only business I'm interested in," he started, looking to the bartender, "is where the hell my drink is!"

 

The Bartender fidgeted a bit, and moved close to pour him another glass full of Spark Juice.  Vertigo took a long, heavy gulp of the glass's contents...

 

And then threw it into the bartender's face, the glass shattering into a million pieces.

 

The bartender wilted, grabbing at his forehead, now bleeding, grabbing at the bar with his other hand.  "Drink's suck here anyway."  he said, looking to Code and Liz.  "Too many things here to ruin my buzz."

 

"I'll ruin your buzz--"  Code began, as Bey cut him off, with their thought-speak communication.

 

Calm down.  We didn't come here to fight.

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While no permission was offered, nor was it denied, and if anything the tension seem to have eased for a bit. Liz approached to take a seat and then paused as Bey offered Code a nod. They hadn't said anything, but she'd snooped through enough CSESEC files to know that the SAI and its, no, her human host could converse in a manner easily mistakable for telepathy. Why even nod, then? And what was that look that'd passed through the man's eyes a moment prior. Did he know who she was?

 

That'd make him the first, she supposed. She made a mental note to track this individual down later. If he was running around with an active SAI that meant he was ex-CSESEC; he'd have complete records... which would also be woefully out-of-date, if he'd remained alive and active this long. Still, it wouldn't be beyond her abilities. Everyone in this town left a digital signal of some sort; all she had to do was assemble the pieces. 

 

She realized with a start that Vertigo had started yelling again, throwing his drink and glass into the poor bartender's face. The man had recoiled, blood streaming from lacerations in his face and scalp. Those sorts of cuts would bleed profusely... and were ultimately not very dangerous, so she turned her attention back to the group at hand, pulling out a chair and awkwardly rotating it to sit at a 90-degree angle to the intended design. The hunch of something large behind her shoulders was now obvious, and the stiff object seemed to span the length of her back and down to the area behind her feet and the chair's legs, tenting her overcoat behind but invisible in the gloom of the club.

 

Liz ignored Code's growled half-threat; it wasn't directed at her, and he'd thought better of it part of the way through anyway. Instead she leaned towards Vertigo, palms splayed out on her thighs and shoulders pressed together. The posture offered an enticing view of her bust beneath a simple black v-necked t-shirt, and a steel pendant on a leather cord - three crows inside a ring encircling a Celtic triple-spiral. 

 

"What if I told you... that I knew of a merchant who'd recently come to acquire a cask of '06 Winter Harvest Spark Juice? Would you perhaps be more civil? You're an information merchant, not a warlord; your business is in knowledge. I come to traaaaaaade." Her large, gold eyes bored into him, but even if her gaze was fixed her attention remained split between him and Code and Bey. Those two needed watching... especially with the itchy familiarity the man coaxed up in her mind. 

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Further down the bar sat a flamboyantly dressed female, watching the scene unfolding from the corner of her bright red eyes. Purposely, she had found a spot that would obscure most of her features from the general public. In her left hand she held a serving of Sparkjuice that she had been slowly sipping long before Mr. Suspenders had come up behind Vertigo, followed not long after by Liz. She really hadn't been doing much besides enjoying the music. She was here to enjoy her own company, and she would've gladly preferred that her night had stayed that way, but it was looking more and more like that just wasn't in the cards as the scene seemed to escalate.

Something was up with these new club attendees, though. What it was she couldn't put her finger on it, but her head would not. Stop. Nagging.

Nebiros didn't concern herself with the details of who was who in City. She didn't care much for anybody else.

But she couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity dancing around in her brain.

 

Through the lights flashing, effectively obscuring mouth movements, and the bass of the music flooding her ears, she was unable to make out any of the words being exchanged between the parties from the distance at which she sat, but that was the least of her now growing concerns.

Amongst the regularly eclectic crowd of the Hawaiian Penguin, she felt like she fit in. Nobody would, in theory, have any qualms about her manner of her black, blue and teal, pirate-inspired dress here. Nor would they be immediately able to call her out on being a mostly known troublemaker to City under the lighting conditions.

All was good at the club. So she thought.

Apparently she thought incorrectly, given that now there was a large group of "Suits?? Ganging up on some new guy? What the... I mean, at least it's not meee..." she thought, wincing with sympathy-pain as she watched the glass Vertigo had just finished off fly into the bartender's face, shattering.

 

Frowning, she calmly finished the Sparkjuice she had been working on and continued to observe closely, opting to not involve herself unless it became necessary.

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Smart--Liz was taking all the right steps to ensure Vertigo didn't go into a fit, an act that might be dangerous even for someone of Code's calibur.  Sex appeal, the enticement of a potent, delicious vintage of Sparkjuice...  much more than anything Code brought to the table, even with Bey as support.

 

Code was a Fighter at his core.  Always had been.  Always would be.  Negotiations were outside of his area of expertise.  Why try to reason when a punch to the nose could get you what you want or at least damn near?  But this situation was more delicate...  it required more...  finese.

 

Bey, can you muster up an Emergency Regeneration Field?  Code asked.  Bey frowned at his question.

 

I can, but why?

 

Code's eyes remained on the wounded bartender--an innocent bystander caught in their squabble.  Bey seemed to smile at this--things like this were why she could stand to be paired with a man like Code.  Get him turned away.  The Regen Field is invisible but its effects are not.  Vertigo will notice the wounds closing.

 

Code was already moving towards the bartender, Vertigo standing up from the bar, knocking over his stool as he did.  "The hell do you think you are doing?"  Code's hands remained in the air.

 

"Relax, I'm just trying to help out this man here."  Code assured him.  He looked to Liz.  "Besides, my associate is here to handle the negotiations...  Mister Vertigo."  he lied, trying not to show any tells as he moved behind the bar and helped the bartender to his feet.  "Take it easy, you're going to be alright."  he said, as he turned the man away from Vertigo's line of sight, and Bey immediately began to work her magic--the wounds stopped bleeding, and slowly began to close.  The flashing lights and spectacle were enough to divert attention away from the rest of the club's patrons, and the guards that had flocked to Vertigo's side in the last few moments...

 

The bartender looked to Code, astonished, but he merely smiled, covertly pressing a finger to his lips.  "You good?"  he said, the bartender giving a weak nod.  "Then go on and take the rest of the night off.  You've had a rough one, right?"  he said, the Bartender marching off, not even pausing to look back.

 

"Who are you to give him the night off?!"  Vertigo demanded.  "I RUN THIS CLUB, NOT SOME SUSPENDER-WEARING WIERDO!"  he shouted, throwing a half-empty bottle at Code...

 

...and like lightning, Code's arm snapped out and caught the bottle, eyes fixated on Vertigo, hatred filling them.  Calm.  Bey's voice rang in his head, as his expression relaxed...  a bit.  He set the bottle onto the bar, and looked to Vertigo.  "I've worked a few bars in my lifetime, Mister Vertigo."  Code lied, with the most genuine fake smile he could muster.  "Allow me to be your personal bartender, instead."

 

At the very least, Code's reflexes made him capable of catching anything else Vertigo decided to throw at him--it would keep any more people from getting hurt, trying to please this man.

 

Vertigo hesitated, glancing over Code suspiciously, before his gaze returned to Liz, and then Bey.  "Sure thing...  but only if your lady friend keeps me company."  Vertigo gave a sick grin, patting his knee.  Bey blushed a bit, and it took every bit of strength Code had to keep from leaping over the bar and destroying Vertigo in one single punch.  Code...  It's fine.  So long as you don't have to fight.

 

I may have to anyway.  he thought to himself, as Bey moved over, winced a bit, and sat down on Vertigo's knee.  He placed a hand around her waist, pulling her a bit closer, and let out a loud bellowing laugh.  "Now this is service!"  he snickered.  "Suspenders, give me another glass of this swill."  he said, referring to the Sparkjuice.  "Me and this knock-out of a dame you call your associate have got some business to discuss."

 

And as soon as you're done, I'm kicking your ######.

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It was - unfortunately - impossible to non-visually track Code as he stood up and moved away; the din and blare of the club quickly masked his footsteps and the flash of colored strobes ruined her night vision for catching him from the corner of her eye. She'd have to merely hope that he wasn't setting up to kill her in revenge for interrupting his... whatever he was about. What had he been doing? Liz had arrived too late to see whatever was on the slip of paper that had left Vertigo so visibly shaken. It wasn't her business, anyway. And it seemed incredibly unlikely, no matter how familiar the stranger seemed, that he was connected to the man she was looking for. She didn't allow herself the luxury of hope.

 

Vertigo suddenly stood, giving Liz an opportunity to relax backwards on her own stool and spare a glance towards Code. He'd approached the bartender from the other side of the bar, though what use he could serve was unclear. And then, just to complicate matters, the stranger decided to name her as his associate. She didn't even know his name! Not that Vertigo had to know, but what in the world was this stranger's intent? To get himself killed? She'd be happy to oblige, if only to have the opportunity to rip the cybernetics out of his skull and keep the SAI for her own studies. Such a brilliant piece of hardware/software was very hard to come by.

 

For the moment, though, she obliged. It wasn't as if she had any more appealing options.

 

Code seemed to be handling the situation poorly enough on his own, at any rate; she watched Vertigo produce another verbal explosion before hurling the bottle of sparkjuice at the other man. Scalp lacerations were in-style tonight, it seemed...

 

Except the bottle never connected. Her eyes widened, just a fraction, but her expression was under control again nearly instantly. Instead she slowly raised one pale eyebrow at the stranger's next proclamation; he hardly looked like any bartender she'd ever met. But if he wanted to embarrass himself she'd let him play the fool (and perhaps even help!), as long as her needs were met.

 

He's actually bothering to project her as hardlight, not just a VR. I wonder what sort of battery he's packing to do that. Something CSESEC hasn't even reported internally? She watched Vertigo practically grope the construct with the same cool grin she'd been wearing since the encounter started; it was hard not to break out laughing. Or punch Vertigo in the face herself. Instead, she let a puff of air out through her nostrils and leaned to place her elbows on the table.

 

"I'll have a glass, too, while you're at it." She muttered at Code, and the gaze she shot him made it clear that this was payback for him declaring her his associate. Her attention returned to Vertigo.

 

"So. Let's talk shop. One untapped cask and three cases of the bottle-conditioned stuff after that, at least, as of tuesday. Two-thousand-and-six, distilled just before the winter war." Liz drawled, and the voiced in the back of her head reminded her that she'd tasted the vintage herself, once, during the war. Memories of her and Rift discussing battle plans and tactics in front of a cozy fireplace and a decanter full of glowing, green effervescent liquid made her pause.

 

"Expensive...", she went on quickly once she realized she'd paused, "but... a man like you knows where coin is worth putting down, especially for any brew of such historical and culinary significance. Either way, the price is not mine to control, only the contact information, though he won't gouge you." No more than anyone else in this city does. "B-u-u-u-ut... you don't give your services for free and neither do I. I was hoping you could help..." she almost said 'me', then glanced at Code, "us with a few questions." With Code and Bey both conveniently occupied she grabbed the printout Bey had offered to Vertigo before,  flipping it back face-side up and using the motion as a chance to briefly examine it, before shoving it back at Vertigo. 

"Again, this man?" Liz said, biting the inside of her own cheek to keep from swearing. She was going to be following this stranger home tonight - whether to kill him, or interrogate and then kill him, she'd find out soon enough. It was perhaps even worth putting off her contract on Vertigo for... and she never put off contracts. But those reflexes were hardly natural, and with the SAI and implied ex-CSESEC background, she doubted the man's intentions with Rift were benign. 

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Stratus scanned the remains of the ruined mansion, no matter how many times he surveyed the utter destruction the anger and sadness still welled within his chest. To see something so dear in such disrepair brought on a melancholy so deep few others could understand it. Especially in this world where this site held no meaning even for those that once called it home.

 

He inattentively watched Sparkbot, as decrepit now as the grounds he now kept, sweep the floor that would never be rid of the filth of Ground Zero. Ground Zero, a trash heap and wasteland in one, was what CSESEC used as both a prison and execution grounds. The undesirables were dumped here to face the myriad of dangers the place held. Stratus, being one of those undesirables, was left here to die. How long had he been here now? Truth be told he couldn't really say with any certainty, time had little and less meaning compared to survival. Of course his talents gave him a pretty good edge on the survival front, but the loneliness was wearing on him.

 

His attention on Sparkbot sharpened as he noticed the two figures the damaged bot was now greeting.

"No!" He said knowing they couldn't hear him from his perch."Not Sparkbot, You may have taken everything else from me, but not him!"  The brunette haired boy pushed himself off the small ledge he'd been crouched on, the white hooded duster flapped behind him for a moment as he hit the ground running. Reaching into his right pocket he shuffled around briefly before drawing out a small cerulean orb. The fist of his right hand clutched the ball tightly causing a small burst of light to emit from the area before blue paint flowed up and around Stratus' forearm and solidified into a mechanical bracer. Although unseen from his angle Stratus felt the focusing lens form in front of his fist. The energy cannon completed he picked up the pace a bit rushing to confront the pair near his friend.

Edited by StratusNova

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Nebiros' eyes followed the bartender as he promptly left the scene, mentally noting that the bloody mess that had been his face just mere moments prior had been remedied after Code had made his way behind the bar.

Her gaze shifted between Code and Bey, giving them a quick pass from top to bottom. There wasn't anything particularly remarkable that stood out about them, but it was clear from her vantage point what was at play.

 

She looked down at her empty glass, mulling over the idea of asking for a refill, until she, for once, was actually able to hear Vertigo above the noise.

Followed by, and she was pretty sure she had imagined the sound, the hard slap of glass against skin.

Peering up from her glass, Vertigo looked pissed beyond belief, and Code had apparently just caught a bottle of Sparkjuice thrown at his face in an instant. Impressive.

Her expression was quick to change, however.

From astonishment at Code's reflexes, to pure disgust at Vertigo near instantaneously, she watched poor Bey sit awkwardly on Vertigo's knee and promptly get pulled in closer.

The entire situation felt like it was precariously teetering on the edge of being under control, and being completely not. Conscious of this, it took an incredible effort for Nebiros to reel in the urge to not just toss her own glass into Vertigo's face.

Interfering with whatever Code, Bey and Liz were doing would probably make everything even more disastrous.

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About thirty minutes before…

 

"A world, sleeping.  The key to the awakening is the Color Cores.  Gather their Fragments and destroy this world of lies."

 

Before the words floating about in her brain could tether themselves firmly in Humming’s mind, as soon as her eyelids fluttered open from the red hot light, the images her brain registered as being part of her current surroundings rushed in and pushed every thought out.

 

She sat straight up. The young lady looked about around her in a state of panic. Everything made her more and more confused. The dust. The mounds of rubble around a large ominous-looking building in the distance, rotting and ruined. Piles and piles of trash. The body of a person near her, his bowler hat askew.

She stumbled to her feet too fast and faltered, falling onto her bottom hard. She scooted frantically away from him, scraping her heels of her shoes against the hard dirt, until there was more distance between the two of them. Breathing fast and hard, the long-haired brunette desperately clutched at the small pink seashell that hung on a silver chain around her neck. This calmed her down slightly and kept her from immediately bursting into tears. At least she still had her necklace… Too scared to run off on her own, she stared at the stranger sprawled in the dirt again, her breath gradually slowing down, waiting for him to move.

 

And move he did.

 

Now…

 

She had not asked his name. She didn’t say hers. She didn’t care. While wandering over to the nearby building in hopes of making it some sort of temporary shelter, Humming said almost nothing the entire time, too distraught of their current situation to make an effort at any sort of conversation. She trailed behind him with her head hung low and her shoulders hunched, with one hand up against her chest, touching her seashell. It kept her from crying, for now. She didn’t pay attention to what was nearly in front of them and bumped into the young man’s back when he stopped suddenly stopped walking.

 

"HELLO, <ERROR ERROR> OF SPARKBOMB. HOW MIGHT I BE OF ASSISTANCE?"

 

Her head snapped up after she stumbled a little. Regaining her footing, she silently peered out from behind the stranger. What greeted her was a poor sight, a robot, probably, banged up and broken. It looked a little comical with its little dirty broomstick, and while it caught her attention for a few seconds, she then shifted her attention to a white figure to the right of them. Rapidly coming in their direction.

 

She took two steps back and froze, completely like a little deer caught in deadlights, her doe brown eyes locked onto the figure. She clutched at the hem of her dress and trembled, and when the figure was nearly right in front of them, Humming squeezed her eyes shut, expecting to be killed swiftly in the spot.  

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TEAM B

 

When you spend as much time on the streets as Code had, in his "previous life" as he had come to call it, you pick up a few trades.  Especially when it meant maintaining your cover in situations as dire as these.  Without a word, he tossed the bottle a few inches above his palm and caught it with his other hand, slamming it down on the counter, and moving so quickly, so deftly, grabbing up a pair of medium-sized glasses between his fingers, and placing them alongside one another on the bar, that you would have thought that he'd been doing this sort of thing all of his life.  

 

 

But this could not be further from the truth.  His skills were a clockwork charade.  Bey had just pulled all of the information she could about "Good bartending" from every search engine available, compiled it into a simulation and was now running Code's body through a dance of deception via the circuitry and enhancements that had been implanted in his body--a nice dual-use for them, he noted, snatching up the bottle and grasping its cork in his teeth, pulling it out in a quick jerk backwards, and spitting it into the trash-can behind the bar, without even looking at it as he did.  He carefully poured the exact same amount of the green drink into each glass and slid one down the counter at Vertigo, who caught it with the hand he wasn't using to hold Bey in place.

 

He handed the other glass to a waiter, who casually walked it over to Liz, before disappearing back into the crowd.  Code turned his back to the two and took a long, hard swig from the bottle, sweat beginning to pour down his face.  That performance had taken lots out of him.  He coughed a bit once the bottle was away from his lips.  This vintage was a foul one, as Vertigo had said, but there was nothing to be done about it.  They hardly kept the "good stuff" stocked up here in the bar itself.  For a moment, as he placed the bottle back below the bar, with no intention of feeding anyone else this swill, he thought he noticed someone sitting at the opposite end, an empty glass in their hand.  A wave of familiarity washed over him, but he dared not act on it.

 

Things were already complicated enough.  He had to focus on the task at hand.

 

Vertigo took a sip from the glass, his face souring.  "No better than the last time...  but that was an impressive display."  he admitted, begrudgingly.  "Now...  as far as this vintage Sparkjuice..."  he said, turning his attention to Liz.  "The Winter War...  that takes me back.  I remember my grand-daddy sitting me on his knee and telling me stories of it...  back when Ground Zero was still inhabitable and whatever roams around down there wasn't always on the hunt for fresh meat."  he chuckled.  "If its been in storage for that long, I can't even begin to imagine the flavor..."  he said, looking up at the ceiling as if day-dreaming about it.  "What you propose--?"  he began, as she passed the flier back into his face.  His expression dropped to the floor.  "What do you want to know about him?  Not that I can tell you much."

 

Oh sure, offer the booze-hound booze and he's suddenly ready to cooperate.  Code thought to himself.

 

~~~

 

 

TEAM A

 

Sparkbot saw the enraged Stratus moving on his new found visitors, and immediately lifted up his haggard broom, taking a step in his path.  "STRATUSNOVA, NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR VIOLENCE!  WE HAVE GUESTS!  DO YOU NOT RECOGNIZE <ERROR ERROR> AND <ERROR ERROR>?"  Sparkbot said in its monotone voice, that still oddly enough carried some weight of threatening power to it.  "STAND DOWN OR BE KNOCKED DOWN."  he added, taking an aggressive stance.

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Stratus was startled by Sparkbot, enough so that he slowed, and at that moment a flash of recognition lit his face. Standing behind the decrepit robot was someone he was sure he would never see again.

With a sudden burst of speed he dodged around Sparkbot's makeshift weapon and picked the smaller girl up in his arms and hugged her.

"Gillz!"

Edited by StratusNova

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Nell kept his hand ready to draw the guns holstered on his hip and vest, this Stratusnova had seemed rather inclined to try and kill him and his adorable companion a moment before, and now he embraced her, implying that he didn't even get a good look at who he was going to kill. Trusting such a hotheaded fellow doesn't seem like a very smart idea, but perhaps the young lady, this "Gillz" as he called her would have something to say on the matter. 
"Miss "Gillz"... is that correct? Do you know this man?"

Edited by Nell

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Suddenly going from being very likely to be killed on the spot to being embraced by the same someone who had intended harm only a second before just became way too much for Humming to process. So the young lady burst into tears and hit her little fists wherever she could on this StratusNova, mostly on top of his shoulders and his head. Of course, it didn't hurt at all to Stratus. It probably wouldn't have hurt anyone.

 

"Miss "Gillz"... is that correct? Do you know this man?"

 
"Nonononononononononono, No, I don't!!" 

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Nell drew his pistols in a flash and trained them on Stratusnova. He wasn't sure if this man was the type to use a young lady as a shield, but he did have unusual weaponry and so would likely require extra caution regardless.

"Might I ask you to put the young lady down Mr. Nova? It doesn't appear that she appreciates your affections."
Nell said with a calm, slow intonation.

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Sparkbot frowned (or at the very least, as much of one as he could muster with the metallic face he bore).  He gripped his broom tightly and moved in one solid leap--he swatted at Nell's hands, attempting to knock his weapons from them, and instantly pivoted on his heel, bringing the upright top of the broom beneath Stratus' legs, knocking him to the ground.  After an attempt at disarming this volatile situation, Sparkbot turned to face the three arrivals, a stern expression on his face and the look of a grandmaster of martial arts in his stance.  "I WILL NOT TOLERATE VIOLENCE.  NOT AFTER ALL THAT HAS HAPPENED."  he spoke, his voice rolling thunder through the ruined mansion.  "IF YOU WISH TO CONVERSE, THEN BY ALL MEANS, BUT IF YOU WISH TO BATTLE, THEN START WALKING."

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"Impressive," Liz muttered as she watched Code's performance, wondering if she'd been wrong about her prior assumption. What she knew about the SAI program was both limited and fragmented; it was possible that Bey was feeding him the muscular instructions he needed to perform the actions, but where she would've had a database for that sort of muscle memory was beyond her. What use would CSESEC have for such a program? That Bey was drawing from videos of similar performances, projecting the motion onto a 3-D model, extrapolating the muscular action, and refitting the movements for Code's own muscular-skeletal system and available equipment was beyond Liz's expectations. If she'd known, she'd probably have been more impressed than she was with thinking that Code merely possessed the actual skillset.

 

She grabbed her own tumbler from the waiter as he materialized from the crowd, bringing it to her face and inhaling the acrid volatiles. The expression that followed spoke volumes about the quality, as both Code and Vertigo had already discovered through taste. Still, she brought the glass to her lips and took a swallow (a very small swallow, despite the show she made of it), placing it aside and returning her attention to Vertigo and Bey. 

 

"Ground Zero has its... troubles, but the place is at least what you'd call climate controlled." Sitting in the shadow of the City, surrounded by desert, there wasn't much in the way of climate fluctuations available, at least within the husk of the Mansion. Liz wouldn't be surprised if some of the old protocols still kept the grounds under true climate control... at least, nothing she could remember (and she still remembered awfully little) about the Mansion included sweltering summers or freezing winters; inside had always been pleasant. It must have been climate controlled. This isn't relevant.

 

Liz blinked, returning to the conversation with a start.

 

"Exquisite, I believe, was the term used by the new owner of the vintage. You can get the full tasting notes from him." She smirked slightly, then smoothed her expression as she tapped the printout.

 

"A lot of people know his face, but nobody's been able to place it. I want to find him... or at least a solid lead. You have a more solid information network than anyone else in the City, more solid that CSESEC's, at any rate." She said with a snort. It was flattery, but it was also true, or at least, true often enough. Then again, Liz wouldn't have been surprised to find out that the Monger had purposefully erased any trace of Rift from official records in the hopes of killing his memory. She glanced at the crowd.

 

"I know you appreciate your goon squad and all, but is there possibly somewhere a bit more private, or at least a bit more quiet we could take this?" Ideally, Liz hoped to ditch Code and Bey, allowing her to keep the knowledge to herself and quietly finish her other mission. At the very least, she'd not have to strain to hear Vertigo and wouldn't risk mishearing anything he said. Or maybe we could go somewhere with some better drinks

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Vertigo merely smirked.  "You think I'm stupid or something?"  he said, leaning forward, just beyond Bey.  "I'm not leaving the safety of my 'goon squad.'"  he spoke, looking to his hired thugs, and shrugging.  "No offense, mates."  he added with a sigh.  "If you have any business to discuss, here's as good a place as any."  he smirked.  "But from the look of you...  I'm guessing the two of you have something else planned for me, besides business."  the crafty information merchant spoke, leaning back in his chair.  "After all...  why would someone so enigmatic as you come to grant an audience with me, flanked by a former agent of CSESEC?  Much less an Eraser Program reject?"  he added, pushing Bey off of his lap, as she gritted her teeth and de-materialized, disappearing in a flash of red.

 

I have no idea what this Liz's motives are, but we need him alive, Code.

 

But I still get to beat him a little bit, right?  Code thought to himself, as Bey's face appeared on the right-side of his vision.  She gave a nod as his answer.

 

Code's face remained stone-serious, despite the fact that he had just been given the green light to pummel this perverted man into oblivion.  "I see that you figured us out...  to a point."  he said, as his eye suddenly blazed red, and a hard-light render began to construct in both hands--a pair of red guns, one a pistol of sorts and the other an Sub-Machine-Gun.  "Your sources need to be checked, Vertigo.  I'm not some Eraser Project Reject...  I am the best damned Eraser that exists."

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"I think you're sophisticated enough to manage a secure safety perimeter in an environment a little less chaotic than this. But perhaps I'm wrong." Liz hissed in reply, narrowing her eyes. "But if you'd like to have this conversation here that's your prerogative." She glanced at Code as Bey disappeared, then rematerialized. She turned back to Vertigo and leaned in slightly.

 

"But I do believe we're being watched." Her voice was on the edge of audible with the given background din of the club. "Unless she's one of your goons." Liz kept her head still but jerked her eyes towards Nebiros, farther down the bar. "Pirate getup doesn't quite seem your style, though." And here I thought that SAI's outfit was unusual. She doesn't look like a projection, though. She'd noticed Nebiros upon entry but hadn't thought anything of the other woman, not until she'd followed Code's gaze towards her and noted her continued attention. It could've just been the spectacle her, Code, Bey, and Vertigo were making, but... thankfully, the other woman really was a stranger, unlike Code. 

 

"Not that I'm telling you your business." Liz added with a shrug. She remained impassive as Code materalized his weaponry, in the hopes that her own calm would prevent Vertigo from panicking. The snugness of her dual holsters, leaving a pistol ready at either side of her ribcage, offered additional comfort. 

 

"But if its my associate who makes you so uncomfortable, we can retire elsewhere." The grin was back, with a hint of... anticipation. "Or... you could answer my question, I'll put you in touch with my sparkjuice vendor, and we'll part ways, both pleased, if not entirely satisfied with the evening's outcome."

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Vertigo took no note of Nebiros--he was far too occupied with the now armed Code and his "associate's" enticing offer.  "Perhaps you're right.  We can come to some sort of arrangement."  he said, looking to Code.  "Of course...  with you out of the equation."  he said, as he snapped his fingers--his henchmen were quick, drawing weapons on Code as soon as their boss's fingers slid across one another.  "How appropriate!  The 'Eraser' is about to be Erased!"  he chuckled, slapping his knees, and standing up, offering his arm to Liz.  "Now, come my dear.  We have many matters to discuss...  hopefully over something a bit tastier than the swill they serve here."  he added.

 

Code gritted his teeth.  Thirteen.  Four to the North-East, three to the South, four to the West and two across the bar from you.  You think you can handle them?  Code scoffed at the SAI whispering things in his head.

 

"I've still got a few punches in store for that wierdo.  Can't go down here."  Code replied aloud, quite simply, as the goons rushed him, blades and guns at the ready.

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This seems too easy. Liz thought as Vertigo snapped his fingers. Far too easy. She calmly stood as the henchmen snapped into action; knowing that the baker's dozen of safeties being switched off offered no threat to her was a comforting thought. Unless any of these men had skills far beyond Vertigo's available pay grade, they likely offered little threat to Code, as well. Or at least, so she hoped.

 

It'd be a shame if she didn't get to interrogate him before he died. Even worse if the circuitry that powered that SAI was damaged. Bullets were so indiscriminate; the pistols she carried were strictly backup. The faintly glowing pink manacles encircling her wrists were the real weapon, even if they offered no hint as to their true purpose. Even Liz was unsure of how (or why) they worked; she'd awoken with them, and the knowledge of how to use them, but nothing beyond that. 

 

"Meet you out back in fifteen?" Liz mouthed to Bey, confident that the advanced AI could lipread. She turned back towards Vertigo, still grinning, and slipped her arm in his. 

 

"As long as you're not one of those strange men who prefer NAT Shots." She muttered, casting a brief glance back at the crowd. Don't you die on me, Stranger. I have dibs on that particular job. But I have other business to attend to first. As an afterthought she grabbed the printout from the bar with her free hand, and shoved it into one pocket of her coat. It was the first picture she'd ever seen, and even if she couldn't trace it's source, it was much easier than trying to describe Rift from the vague images she had from her dreams and memories. 

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Did you catch that?  Bey called out to Code from within his subconscious.

 

Impossible not to with you in my head.  I'm switching your projection off so I can cut loose.

 

In an instant, she flickered and vanished from sight, and the goons were so alarmed by it that they moved--the melee attackers brandished their blades and the ranged-combatants locked and loaded clips into their automatic weapons.  Time seemed to slow down around Code, as the flame blazing around his eye intensified.  "Tactical blade.  Now."  he called, not bothering to disguise his plan--he didn't need to with grunts.  His pistol's barrel and the SMG elongated, a pair of arm-length, slender blades jutting from below the barrels.

 

He blocked with the pistol on the first attacker, and fired his SMG up in an arc, the hard-light bullets tearing through him starting at his stomach and ending at his neck--the henchman wilted, as two more approached.  A clean shot from the pistol to the face took the second down, but the third was a bit more complicated.  He swung down, Code side-stepping, lifting his chin confidently as if to look down upon his foe.  Another swing came in for the mid-section, and the constructs in his hands slipped from his grasp, fading.  The henchman lunged at his unarmed foe, and a quick spin on Code's heel sent him spiraling out of the stab's path, and allowed him to counter with the full momentum, channeling it into a back kick to the man's knee--he heard bone shatter as his foe screamed something in agony, nearly piercing the dense rhythm of the music, as Code turned on him, placed a hand over his mouth and on the back of his head, and with a firm twist was rid of his third enemy.

 

He turned, grinned, and the flame intensified, the air tinting a bit red.  "Now...  WHO'S NEXT?!"  he demanded, arms spread in a challenge.

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Stratus stared up at Sparkbot in utter disbelief from his humble position. The rusted bot had just knocked him to the floor with a broom.

I was distracted by familiar faces that's all. He reasoned to himself.

"Sparkbot why would I commit violence against Gillz? I admit from far away I thought CSESEC had finally sent someone to finish you off, but once I saw it was Gillz you can't imagine I would hurt her. She saved my life. Saved all of White's lives." He turned to the aforementioned girl with a bow.

"Thank you Gillz, Although I don't know how you're here...You sacrificed yourself so that we could get out and continue fighting The Warmonger. Then there was the blast and then this place..." He trailed off towards the end more trying to put the pieces together himself then asking for any particular input.

He looked up at the pair and smiled widely.

"Who cares how you got here! Nel and Gillz! Finally somebody from Sparkbomb." He announced cheerfully while somehow missing that they had no memory of him.

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Still rather startled by the piteous robot's combat prowess, Nell picked up the gun he dropped and holstered both of them, feeling both a touch embarrassed at being so easily shut down, and relieved that his companion was alright and that the strange robot seemed to have the situation under control. Still he was quite suspicious of stranger and stepped somewhat defensively to the right and slightly between Nova and Gillz.

"Mr. Nova yes? You called this one Sparkbot, my companion Gillz, and you even somehow know my name? I doubt the latter two are coincedence, but you are mistaken on my origin, I am from The City"

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Stratus stared at the younger man is disbelief.

"You're NAD! She's HummingGillz! I'm StratusNova! We're all from Sparkbomb." He stated solidly.

Why don't they remember? Is everyone else here?

"Wait...If you're from the city what are you two doing down here?"

Edited by StratusNova

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