There's nowhere in the world quite like it. Built over the course of a scant three years, the New Metropolis swiftly became the largest city in the Union, home to ten million souls from all over the world- not to mention the planet's largest concentration of Century Children. They were instrumental in Century City's creation, and they'll be instrumental in deciding its future. Though it falls within the borders of the state of West Virginia, the New Metropolis is legally considered an independent city, much like the nation's capital. Legally speaking, the highest authority is the Mayor, who answers only to the President above him. But in reality, things are a bit more complex.
Four competing forces seek to control Century City's destiny. The long arm of the law, as represented by the Century City Police Department and District Attorney's office. The city's corporate interests, who control the Mayor from behind the scenes. The criminal underworld, whose reach extends across every inch of the city through extortion, racketeering, and the drug trade. And the vigilantes, who reject each of the three major powers to seek a better way.
Though its construction was completed a mere three years ago, the New Metropolis is already bustling with activity. Being home to over a dozen major corporations, both new and old, certainly has something to do with it- as does the 'open doors' policy insisted upon by its founder, August Forson. As a result, immigrants and refugees from all over the globe were accepted as residents of Century City, bypassing typical restrictions making such entry impossible. They even received housing subsidized, in whole or in part, by the city's government, who recognized the need to fill the city quickly in order for a return on the investment of its construction to be made. While some of these immigrants have been able to live out their American Dream, others have found themselves trapped in wage-slavery, be it at a corporate office as a janitor, or behind the counter of a fast food joint. Between exploitation by the corps, oppression from the cops, and extortion from the crooks, it's little wonder they don't see much that's 'Super' about the Super Century.
Others, however, see Century City as a dream come true. It's swiftly become a thriving cultural center, home to a large number of up-and-coming stars in the worlds of art and entertainment. There's plenty of money to be made here, if you play your cards right, and don't have any qualms about stepping over a few less fortunate people in the process. As for the Century Children, it's up to them to decide if they want to defend this status quo, or change it- and if so, for the better, or for the worse?
Hightown: Also known as the city center, this is where the skyscrapers that house Century City's corporations are located. It's not uncommon to see a Century Child like Mars flying amongst the glass-and-steel behemoths, and occasionally, a vigilante like Hawkshaw or a criminal like Sheer Heart Attack can be seen scurrying about in their shadows at night. The name was borne from a sincere inquisition about why they usually call this area of a city 'downtown' when all of the buildings point upwards.
Century Tower: The tallest building in the city, and home to August Forson, the city's founder, and Spirit of Industry. He hasn't been seen outside of the building since the city's opening ceremony, though a few people claim to have met with him privately since then. The tower's lower levels are mainly dedicated to the City Planning Office, over which Forson retains executive control, though the Mayor's office ostensibly has oversight into their activities. Security is high, but it's not impossible to make a breach, and who knows what treasures are hiding in the Spirit of Industry's private vault, deep below the tower's foundations?
CCPD Central Precinct: Located just a few blocks away from Century Tower, the CCPD Central Precinct is the core of the city's immune system. Heavily fortified against all attacks, it effectively functions like a medieval stronghold, designated as the primary fallback position should the rest of the city be lost to the forces of law and order. From here, Chief Klein commands the forces of the Century City Police Department, as well as several so-called 'superheroes,' Century Children who wish to use their powers legitimately to help the people of the city. Their idiosyncrasies are a source of frequent frustration for the Chief, but their strength remains an invaluable asset in the fight against the forces of crime, corruption, and chaos. Museum of Natural History: Like any city, the New Metropolis has more than a few museums. This one, however, has a bit of a theme. In addition to the usual dinosaur skeletons and shiny rocks, there's an entire wing dedicated to the Century Children of the past hundred years. Portraits, mementos, and artifacts that appear to document the existence of the Spirits of the Twentieth Century. Many are obvious forgeries and frauds, but a few are very real, and still retain some power. Many attempts to rob the museum have been made, but none have been successful... yet.
The Galleria: For Century City's art lovers, there is the Galleria. Located in the city center, it boasts an impressive collection of both classical and modern art, most of it on loan from other museums around the country. However, it does have one thing those other institutions don't- a portrait of Jae Moon, the Spirit of Beauty. No photos of the elusive Century Child exist, nor any of the portrait, and viewings are restricted to three people at a time. Gazing upon it is said to bring people to tears. Attempts to steal it have been made, but the thieves have universally been apprehended as they stand sobbing in front of the painting, making no attempt to resist arrest.
Century City University: A young institution, with relatively few students for its size, occupying several buildings in downtown Century City. What has enticed thousands of people to join regardless, is the fact that at least one Century Child is in attendance. Aurelio Orellana, the Spirit of the Sciences, is only twenty-two, after all. Originally a Spanish national, he came to Century City because 'it seemed like the place to be,' and his presence has been enormously beneficial for CCU, which has attracted a number of big-name professors eager to teach, and to learn from, Orellana.
Club Olympus: Century City's most exclusive establishment, Club Olympus is perhaps the only place in the city that can boast of regularly having Century Children in attendance. It helps that they're the only people the club doesn't charge an exorbitant cover fee for entry, of course. In theory, all of the Century Children are welcome, but in practice, only the 'high society' types tend to attend regularly. However, if nothing else, it's a good place to pick up some gossip.
Grand Point: A trendy neighborhood in northern Century City. If the New Metropolis hadn't been built just a few years ago, you'd probably assume this place was heavily gentrified, if for no other reason than the abundance of coffee shops on what seems like every street corner. You're liable to pass a struggling artist or comedian walking some rich couple's dog every few blocks, too. The CCPD makes sure to keep Grand Point free of criminal activity as much as possible, although they've got their work cut out for them by the fact that most stores and restaurants here are completely cashless.
The Industrial District: While much of what Century City's corporations produce is manufactured overseas, some of it is made right here, too. The factories of the Industrial District are full of poorly-paid, overworked citizens who can't spare a single second to think about asking for better working conditions, lest their pay be docked for 'slacking off.' If it weren't for the special weather-control devices developed by the city's other founder, Phoebe Steele, the Spirit of Innovation, the smog these factories produce would blanket the entire city. This part of town is currently contested between the control of the Russian Bratva and the Steel Serpent triad, who both seek to use its shipping lanes to move their product- from coke to heroin to arms -throughout the city.
Lowtown: While August Forson didn't design his city with slums built in, the need for them arose almost immediately. Officially known as Gibson Gardens, this area was swiftly assigned the name Lowtown. It's home to much of the city's subsidized housing for its immigrant population, which in theory is meant to support them until they can find their feet, but the reality is a little different. The landlords, appointed by the City Planning Office, keep their tenants from ever leaving Lowtown by forcing them to pay for their own repairs in buildings that, despite having only been built a few years ago, are already run down- which many suspect is because the landlords have deliberately neglected their maintenance duties. As a result, crime is rampant in Lowtown, with the extortion rackets another significant cause of the poverty and hopelessness endemic to the neighborhood. Many speculate that the elusive vigilante Hawkshaw has a headquarters somewhere in Lowtown, based on his frequent sightings in the neighborhood, but nobody has ever been able to pin down exactly where.
Paul's Auto Parts: A small auto body shop, formerly a chop shop affiliated with the 66th Street Squad, a small-time Lowtown gang. The Squad's activities recently and rather abruptly ceased, including all illegal activity within Paul's. Some rumors suggest that the chop shop has been converted into something else entirely, a place where a certain vigilante's equipment and vehicle could be covertly repaired and upgraded. However, these rumors have yet to be verified.
Little Leningrad: Another unofficial name, given to the neighborhood of Donnerville after Century City's Eastern-European immigrants gathered there. Many are former children of the USSR, disillusioned by what their nations became after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately, Century City didn't quite live up to its promise, as the Russian mob, or Bratva, swiftly rose to prominence, thanks in part to the efforts of the Spirit of Wealth. Little Leningrad is now known as their territory, and while the Bratva makes sure it's a center of economic activity, most of that money goes into their coffers, not the wallets of ordinary people.
Mission of Love: A small, struggling homeless shelter in Little Leningrad. For those who don't have anywhere else to go, they've got a hot meal and a warm bed, if not much in the way of privacy. There are whispers, too, about something else- but for the time being, that's all they are. But remember, if somebody is listening, then it's not a whisper, it's a prayer.
Tokyo Row: Home to most of Century City's immigrant Asian population, Tokyo Row is a neon nightmare tucked away within the heart of the New Metropolis. Infamous for its cheap, shoddy tenement-like housing and thinly-veiled brothels disguised as 'massage parlors,' Tokyo Row is the place to go if you want to do something to a person nobody will miss if they disappear. This depravity is orchestrated by the Steel Serpent triad, one of Century City's most powerful gangs. Though they have no known Century Children among their affiliates, the ranks of their street soldiers are seemingly limitless, as is the cash flow from their many illegal businesses. With backing from powerful international partners, the Steel Serpents are currently engaged in a conflict with the Bratva, largely centered around control of the crucial shipping lanes of the Industrial District, necessary to move product through Century City swiftly.
Randy's Chicken: Without a doubt, the best Korean fried chicken joint in all of Century City. It's a shame they're a triad front. Luckily, there's a reinforced steel door that separates the kitchen from the back rooms where, if you listen very closely on a quiet night, you might be able to hear some unfortunate soul losing a few fingers to Randy's best meat cleaver. Occasionally a street soldier who's failed the triad one too many times will go into the back room and never come out. Nobody's been able to prove anything conclusively, but really, where better to hide a body than in the stomachs of a couple dozen different customers?
SciTown: Thanks to the contributions of several Century Children, the scientific disciplines have all leapfrogged years ahead in terms of research. As a result, Century City has a thriving scientific sector, much of which is subsidized by the city government itself, at the behest of August Forson, the Spirit of Innovation. These labs are concentrated in a district known as SciTown, which boasts a staggering ten times as many new patents as anywhere else in the world per week.
The Event Horizon Institute: The premier physics lab in all of Century City, and quite possibly the entire world. Though the institute's areas of study are numerous and highly complex, the one that has garnered most attention from the press is the Centurion Project, an attempt to understand how the Century Children came into being, and what makes their unique abilities work. This project has involved the efforts of Aurelio Orellana, the Spirit of the Sciences, as both a researcher and a subject of study.
The Steele Preserve: Intending to outdo every other major American city by a mile, the architects of the New Metropolis didn't settle for just a park- they put an entire nature preserve right in the center of Century City. Named for Phoebe Steele, the Spirit of Innovation, it's ironically enough one of the parts of the city least touched by her technology. Rather than having its foundations formed by Steele's self-assembling nanotechnology, it was painstakingly constructed by hand, a process some estimate may have added a year to the time it took to build Century City. Nevertheless, the result is unarguably impressive, consisting of roughly 2,000 acres of wild, untamed land. In order to improve authenticity, animals from all over the world were imported, in large enough numbers to ensure they'd be able to survive for generations. These range from zebras, elk, and gazelles, to Siberian tigers, rhinoceroses, and pandas. The Preserve's many lakes include plenty of different species of their own, from alligators and crocodiles to octopi and stingrays. The one thing the Preserve lacks is birds, as it would be virtually impossible to keep them contained to the park itself, unlike the land and sea-bound animals, which are kept in by sturdy fences ringing the entire area. As such, visitors to the Preserve are only allowed to travel along certain pathways, accompanied by supervisors, whose job is as much to keep the animals safe as the people. This hasn't stopped opportunistic poachers, attracted by the chance to bag a rare animal without flying out to the Savannah- but their efforts are rarely successful, for one simple reason. The most dangerous creature in the Steele Preserve isn't a lion or a grizzly bear, but a man- a Child of the Century, to be precise. Nobody knows his name, and images of him tend to be blurred, as they're taken in hasty retreat. They call him the Huntsman, but it's not wildlife he hunts- rather the humans that would seek to harm them. Many suspect him to be the Beast of the Wilds, attracted to the Preserve because it's the largest chunk of truly untamed wildlife in the region. But others suggest he may have other motives- including seeking to expand the Preserve's borders to cover the entire city.
The target was an armored vehicle moving enough cocaine to kill an elephant through the industrial district. Specifically the Triad's were moving this cocaine through Russian territory and had declined to send Yuri a proper heads up. So he sent Skylar out here tonight to teach them a lesson. The 6'7" spirit of wealth sat at the back of the crew clutching the his red rubber mask in his right hand. There were 3 other people hiding on the side of the road with him armed with Uzi's.
"Alright, there almost here. You're up." The guy in front barked back at Skylar who slowly put on his mask and made his way up onto the road. The lights from the truck shone around an upcoming corner...it was time to get started. He placed his right arm on the ground and let the temperature start to rise. His hand quickly grew red, then bright yellow, then it was white hot and the asphalt started to melt. His left hand came in now, freezing the road, making it brittle enough to make a large enough crater to catch the truck in its tracks.
As the truck came around the bend the drivers recognized who was standing there in the middle of the road. The engine roared to life and Sheer Heart Attack didn't move an inch. Their eyes were on him and not on the trap he had set for them. The BANG from the vehicles tire blowing out when it hit the pot hole rang out across the night sky and he made the first move. He leapt onto the hood and plunged his white hot hand through the window. Fingers curled around the drivers now sizzling skull. The guy in the passenger seat quickly jumped out and raised a small hand gun only to get shot down by the spray from Skylar's associates.
"There's more in the back, I'll watch for capes." He told the others while releasing his grip on the drivers corpse.
It's a subject of some speculation among Century City's criminal underworld, exactly how Hawkshaw knows where and when to be in order to stop them in their tracks. Some suspect he's got moles in their ranks, or has found some way to tap their communications. Others ascribe it to a hidden aspect of his powers as the Specter of Justice, which grants him some sort of intuition as to where injustice is taking place within his domain.
Whatever the case, it's a frequent source of frustration for them, and reason enough to take a long a heavy hitter like Sheer Heart Attack on a job like this. Which is, of course, exactly how Hawkshaw likes it. The Spirit of Wealth is the most powerful enforcer of the Russian Bratva, and taking him down will send a message straight to the top.
The Deathwish Detective doesn't strike recklessly, however. That's not his style. Instead, he watches unseen from a rooftop as the initial strike goes off without a hitch. He doesn't care to intervene to save the driver's life- one gang member taking out another is none of his concern. Instead, he simply waits, with a small device in his hand. It resembles a laser pointer, but with no visible beam- at least, not visible to its targets. They do, however, show up as highlighted on his helmet's HUD, which is the important part. Hawkshaw is 'painting' Sheer Heart Attack and his men with a tracking laser, the same kind used by the US military to target precision missile strikes from the ground.
Once his targets are all confirmed, the Bloodhound activates his drones. They're not exactly capable of wreaking the same destruction as a Predator, but they're not to be underestimated either. Each Switchblade carries a potent explosive payload, despite being small enough to fit in a backpack when folded up. Normally, they're meant to be launched like a mortar, but at a short range like this, tossing them into the air is all that's necessary.
TARGETS LOCKED VERIFY STRIKE: Y/N?
With a grim smile, the Grey Knight selects the first option, and watches as the Switchblades rise into the air. As they prepare to strike, he leaps off of the rooftop, and calls upon his primary ability- the Umbra. A sphere of pure darkness envelops the transport vehicle, rendering all those within unable to see. The drones, however, don't require visual sensory data to hit their targets. They're already locked on thanks to the tracking lasers. So when they strike, neither Sheer Heart Attack nor his fellow thugs will see it coming.
This is an escalation on Hawkshaw's part. Nothing he's done before has been this bold, save perhaps for his most infamous incident, when he allowed himself to be recorded executing a police officer who'd been acquitted for murder the day before. While most of the city had agreed that the officer had been in the wrong, they nevertheless roundly condemned the vigilante for not respecting the jury's verdict. The Specter of Justice remained undeterred, however, and continued with what most now regard as his campaign of terror.
Despite all that, the use of military-grade explosives within Century City is unprecedented. Hawkshaw isn't naive- he knows that the Bratva will come after him harder than ever before, even if their enforcer survives this. But that's not a problem. They were already at war, after all.
Unless any of the thugs managed to take out the four drones before impact- unlikely, as they wouldn't know where to shoot from within the bubble of darkness -the resulting explosion would likely be enough to break open the armored car's reinforced exterior, exposing the multiple kilos of coke sitting in the back. That's where Hawkshaw would attempt to land, dispelling the bubble of darkness once he did so. He was well aware of Sheer Heart Attack's impressive regenerative abilities- even getting blown up by a Switchblade might not be enough to keep him down. But if that didn't, something else might.
Many of the bricks of coke had been blown apart by the explosion, leaving the priceless white powder scattered all over the street. The noise had inevitably attracted bystanders, although most of them were smart enough to keep their distance for the moment. When the excitement was over, plenty of them would probably be stupid enough to try and steal some of the Triad's haul for themselves- if there was any left, at least.
Laughing darkly, Hawkshaw picks up one of the bricks that's still safe inside of its plastic casing. Instead of pocketing it, he reaches into his jacket, and retrieves a miniature sticky bomb. Attaching it to the brick of coke, he then hurls it directly at Sheer Heart Attack, intending for it to explode right in his face. An explosive overdose, combined with the physical trauma of the Switchblade strike, might- just might -be enough to put him down permanently.
If not, they'd have to move on to more experimental tactics.
The entire squad turned their attention towards the rapid sound of multiple small mortars being launched into the air but, only Sheer smiled. There were shouts to get to cover, calls for firepower, but that all dissolved into chaos when the inky black sphere of justice spilled out around them. They could only hear the slight whistle of falling objects and the explosions that sealed their fates. Russian, Triad, the weapons didn't care who or what got caught in their blast radius. It was the exact type of violence that made Skylar's ticker start thumping. He could feel the beat of his heart increasing in pace with each explosion that hit him. The rhytmic thump, thump thump, that moved at the same tempo as the song he got his name from. Metal fragments ripped through his flesh and raw energy tore at his internal organs.
The flooding darkness receded back to the center of the truck; allowing Sheer Heart Attack and Hawkshaw to get their first real looks at one another. Skylar's bloodlust filled the air and his eyes contorted into a cruel smile. His right arm igniting in white flame as he charged headfirst towards the brick of cocaine Hawkshaw had hurled in his direction. Before the impact his superheated arm flew up, sending the improvised chemical weapon out of his path as it detonated.
His body left a massive dent in the side of the ruined vehicle, thankfully his mask stopped any of the cocaine his superheated arm didn't burn up from getting into his system.
"I've been waiting to split your skull open Hawkshaw!" he charged forward faster than a person his size should've and threw a jab from his left hand. The thermal energy from each explosion being expelled by the blow. Following it up with a claw like swipe from his blazing right arm. "I feel so INARTICULATE!"
Post by Mars, Bringer of War on Apr 23, 2022 22:54:24 GMT
"Century Child? You're talking to the man who ripped Osama bin Laden in half."
Randall's enormous red gauntlet clutched the delicate stem of a Martini, his seventh of the evening; the Mark VII Bringer of War armor was light enough for him to stomp around in during the evening's festivities, much to the rest of the partygoers' delight, and while fully aware he was making a spectacle of himself, he chose entirely not to care. The faceplate disguised his features utterly, the youthful face with a hint of beard obscured by the reflective golden mask.
A straw extended from his mouthguard into the drink and he slurped it up, not bothering to savor the flavor at all.
"Century Child. Feh. Whoever came up with that term knew it would stick with us until we were twenty-two and beyond. I never asked for this."
He knew he was generating endless amusement for the guests, the fucking ants that swarmed him. Ordinarily he was perfectly pleasant on the outside, but lately his depression had him by the balls and he could barely muster a smile for the endless waves of adoring fans. The faceplate was useful for that reason. Everyone technically knew what he looked like without it, but they loved the obnoxious celebrity more, so why not give them what they want?
Nothing would stop the funds from coming in. Maybe that was his Century Ability.
Nobody knew for sure, of course, not even him. Heightened intellect or heightened luck, he couldn't say. Probably intellect, enough to get him connected with the right team to manufacture the Bringer of War. He'd had a talent for miniaturization, taking already-existing weapons technologies and making them more compact. Or maybe it was something more abstract than that, something that had allowed him to succeed equally as well in business. He was twenty-two and king of the goddamn world, drunk off his ass and walking around with enough ordnance to blow Washington D.C. off the face of the Earth, and they called him a superhero.
It was true, he could be mercurial. It was part of his charm. But nobody here was in any danger.
So fucking boring. If he had to listen to another Drake song he'd kill himself.
The straw retracted into his faceplate as the drones around him laughed.
"Cuthbert, find me a crime in progress," he muttered into his mic.
Cuthbert wasn't an AI. In fact, there is no Cuthbert. It was just what he called whoever his current Operator was, the Operator being the primary voice who spoke for his support team back at the hangar. A squad of fifteen techs, seven engineers, five doctors, and two PR specialists were on constant standby.
"A truckload of cocaine just got blown apart in the South district - "
"HOT DAMN," he shouted, crushing the Martini glass into a fine powder. "I am so there!"
There was no but you're drunk! as the last few techs who'd protested had learned their lessons hard. (They'd been fired with a generous package).
Taking a running leap through the enormous glass window, he left the party in style, boot rockets engaging along with a thruster on his back to propel him between skyscrapers toward the site of the battle.
His trademark saturation bombing move wouldn't be any good here. That cocaine was too precious to waste.
Instead he buzzed in close, skimming the ground in his signature crimson and gold battle mech, arms rippling in the fire's light, fingers splayed; tiny compartments opened on his wrists and shoulders and produced an array of micromissiles, each one locking onto the figures he recognized as Hawkshaw and some fuck wearing a human heart on his head.
"Freeze, dirtbag!" he echoed through the streets, what civilians who unwisely remained in the area cheering; of course, he had no plan to detain either of them, pulling the trigger on the micromissiles and launching an explosive barrage at each.
As expected, the Switchblade strike didn't take Sheer out- but his friends weren't quite so lucky. Good enough for now. Unfortunately, the Deathwish Detective's follow-up isn't so successful, with the Bratva enforcer avoiding the attempted explosive overdose. His broad suite of abilities seems almost unfair to Hawkshaw, considering the comparatively minor ones the Grey Knight has access to. But then again, it stands to reason that the Spirit of Wealth would have an overabundance of gifts. And nobody knows better than the Specter of Justice that life isn't fair.
Besides, Hawkshaw has something that Sheer lacks- a cause.
The cause doesn't feel like it's worth much right now, though, with the Scarlet Slayer rapidly approaching. Hawkshaw may be an unparalleled melee fighter, but that only goes so far against someone with powers like Sheer's. And to make matters worse, their confrontation has attracted some attention. Not just from foolhardy onlookers hoping their shaky phone camera footage will get a few retweets, but from a hero. At least, that's what the papers call him.
Mars, the Warbringer, descends with customary fanfare. It's not hard to hear him coming- the engines on his gaudy crimson-gold armor roar like lions whenever he takes flight. Hawkshaw has tangled with him before, but never dared a direct confrontation. He lacks the resources to put up a fight against the corporate enforcer. With the appearance of the Merchant of Death, this has stopped being about taking down Sheer Heart Attack, and become a matter of surviving long enough to get away.
Of course, Mars isn't the only threat on the board. Sheer is still a serious concern- in particular, his left hand, fingers curled into a fist, glowing with incandescent fury. Hawkshaw has studied the Bratva enforcer's powers, and put together enough about them to know what would happen if he let that blow connect. His armor would offer no protection whatsoever. Instead, the Bloodhound sways to the side, fist missing him by less than an inch- and connecting with the truck behind him instead.
With the armored vehicle's protective plating all but gone after the initial attack, Sheer's explosively-charged fist hits the cargo instead. It detonates into a massive cloud of white powder, showering all three combatants in tens of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine. Though he wasn't directly hit, the force of the explosion sends Hawkshaw flying nonetheless. Picking himself up off the street, the Grey Knight grabs a rebreather and forces it into his mouth, to prevent himself from ingesting any of the airborne powder.
The moment he's back on his feet, however, is the same moment Sheer's next strike comes. This time, with the other hand, wreathed in flame. Sucking in a hasty breath of bottled air, Hawkshaw forces himself backwards, narrowly avoiding a death blow. Instead, Sheer's burning claws strike his armor, carving a gash through his yellow bat-like insignia. That symbol is a source of confusion to many, but Hawkshaw didn't choose it without reason. After all, justice is blind, but a bat can see in the dark.
Much like a bat, Hawkshaw also has exceptionally sensitive ears, which is how he hears Mars priming his micro-missiles before they fire. There's no time for the Grey Knight to try to avoid them, so he chooses the only option remaining. Pulling a combat knife from his belt, Hawkshaw throws it down, intending to impale Sheer Heart Attack's foot. Then, raising his own boot, he'll attempt to drive the knife in deeper, trying to wedge the tip of the reinforced blade through Sheer's flesh, and into the concrete itself- effectively pinning him in place.
Then, grasping the Bratva enforcer by the upper arms, he'll attempt to use Sheer as a human shield, causing all of the Warbringer's micro-missiles to strike him. It's a risky move, not least because Sheer will likely absorb some of the energy released by the missiles' detonation, but considering the alternative is being blown to bits- and the fact that he can't regenerate -Hawkshaw doesn't have much of a choice.
Sheer's jab exploded against the side of the armored vehicle sending tens of thousands in Steel Serpent cocaine into the air. He hadn't intended to give himself visual cover but, it would be appreciated since Hawkshaw was proving to be as nimble as the rumors said. The blazing paw of his right arm pulled the rest of his body from the white cloud and melted a gash into the yellow emblem his enemy bore. Skylar wiped the bits of cocaine that didn't melt from his suit and then reached for the hammer that was chained to his waist.
"You remind me of the rabbits I used to chase. Always thinkin they're gonna GET AWAY!"
The Bratva Bear ripped the hammer from his waist and charged forward. Bloodlust induced hyperfocus kept his eyes on Hawkshaw, and off the skies, when the hero hurled that combat knife. His hammer swept down to bat the weapon away. Hawkshaw was fast though; a black boot swung to right the knife and jam it back into Skylar's hightops. The blade glode though leather, flesh, and its tip bit into the asphalt. Gloved hands clasped his biceps to bind the wrestling specialist. His eyes narrowed into a stare that conveyed his newly obtained superiority over their fight for only a moment before widening again at the sight of the red and gold trashcan soaring overhead.
For all his inherited durability, micro-missiles still posed a serious threat. His own hands shot out to grab Hawkshaw's waist and throw the two of them off into whatever cover the mangled steel remains of the armored car could provide. "GGGGGRRRRAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH" he roared in the furious pain brought on by ripping his anchored foot out of the ground. Shrapnel shredded his back as the barrage of missiles began to erupt around before he could finally free his foot and bring them both out of the blast range. He kept a tight grip onto Hawkshaw as they tumbled through the hole he had made in the side of the truck.
"I'm gonna show the world your INSIDES!" He roared as he tucked his knees into his chest, released his grip on the heroes waist, and then shot his hands forward to toss the Bat Themed Badass out into the road. If successful he would rise to his feet and melt a nice hand hold into one of the doors of the truck, that was hanging on by a thread. An explosive shoulder bash turned the door into a shield while his right arm freed the knife from his foot. His right arm began to smoke(any hotter and he risked ruining his newly acquired weapon).
Blood dripped from his fingertips. "You invite the sentient Cock Ring?!" he called over to Hawkshaw while keeping his focus on both of them.
Post by Mars, Bringer of War on May 5, 2022 1:07:33 GMT
"Wow. Slick. Good thing I've got more of those."
Steam hissed from the compartments on his arms and shoulders as they slid back together, replacing the segmented armor plating with a sleek elegant finish. Feeder belts whirred inside of his chest.
If it weren't for the heavy armor, he'd come off as unsteady on his feet. Even now his vision swam a little bit, nostrils flaring in defiance of any adrenaline. It was like playing a video game. In the back of his mind, he knew just how wrong everything could go in an instant - but he was a pro. Even impaired, he was more than a match for them. He could blow this whole fucking block off the map.
If he weren't a "good guy."
Close quarters combat was obviously these two's respective fortes. The way that Hearthead took the door off the van made Randall more cautious; he licked his lips, teetering a little back and forth as he maintained his stance.
Laboriously, he lifted his foot up onto the back of a pickup truck, heel slamming into the rear quarter panel; then he extended his leg, sending the vehicle rolling across the street towards the two at breakneck speeds, flinging metal and glass everywhere.
The Deathwish Detective speaks for the first time since his arrival, voice deep and low, a sinister rumble appropriate for the grizzled visage visible underneath the mask. Despite that, there's a look of grim amusement on his lips. Specter of Justice though he may be, Hawkshaw is still a pragmatic man, and he understands as well as anybody that the enemy of his enemy can be his friend, if briefly.
Picking himself back up off the street, the Bloodhound cracks his neck, already feeling the bruises developing below his battered armor, from being thrown around by the Cardiac Killer, and simply being in such close proximity to so many explosions.
"How about the two of us kick him out, then go back to killing each other?"
A simple proposition- temporary alliance, to drive back their common foe. Killing Mars outright may be beyond their current reach, even with the efforts of two Century Children combined. But if they can deal enough damage to his armor, he might decide to cut his losses and retreat, leaving them to decide their own confrontation. That is, if either of them are in any shape to fight by that point.
Before Sheer can reply, Mars hurls a pickup truck at the pair of them, strength-enhancing servos in his armor working overtime to grant the Bringer of War power far beyond that of mortal men. Were Hawkshaw a more jealous man, he might envy the fact that Mars' gifts allowed him to build something so powerful, when all the Grey Knight can do is lengthen the world's shadows for a few mere moments. But if there's anything the Specter of Justice knows, it's that the world isn't fair.
Temporary allies or no, Hawkshaw isn't about to go out of his way to save Sheer, and doubts that his efforts would be appreciated if he tried. Instead, he creates a brief blanket of darkness around himself, excluding the Bratva enforcer in order to avoid blinding him. Carried by unbridled momentum, the pickup truck would travel through the sphere of Umbra unimpeded- but once it's passed, and the bubble dissipates, there'll be no sign of the Deathwish Detective.
To the eyes of the Bringer of War, it will appear as though Hawkshaw simply disappeared. In reality, of course, he simply shadow-stepped, body melting into darkness and reforming a short distance away, in the shadows of a nearby alley. This aspect of the Bloodhound's abilities is nascent, requiring no small amount of energy, and functions only when there's enough darkness to work with in the area. The distances he can travel, too, are small- but in this case, enough to avoid being flattened by Mars' improvised projectile.
The crucial aspect of the Grey Knight's new position is that it's behind Mars- opening up certain opportunities for the Urban Avenger to attack indirectly. Sheer's gifts make him a superior combatant, meaning there's little point in trying to engage the Bringer of War directly. Instead, Hawkshaw creates another cloud of darkness, this time centered directly around Mars' head. It's small enough to leave the rest of his body exposed- as Sheer needs to see Mars to attack him -but hopefully, it'll render the armored man blind long enough for the Cardiac Killer to get some solid hits in.
Eventually, Hawkshaw would dispel that cloud of darkness- keeping it centered around a moving target would be troublesome -and make a more direct attack. Not with his fists, of course. He might possess more physical strength than the average man, but not enough to make even a dent in the Bringer of War's chassis. Instead, he fires a grapnel line, intending to hook into Mars' back- then launch the other end of the line at the top of the tallest building nearby. It won't have any immediate effect- in fact, Hawkshaw is counting on Mars not noticing that the line is attached immediately. But when the Bringer of War moves too far, the line will go taut, then snap him back, with any luck hoisting the Crimson Centurion high, like a fish on a hook.
She entered without flash or pomp. Just another watcher, dressed in simple, faded jeans and a worn brown jacket. Still, the crowd of bystanders parted as she passed. There was a presence to her. Something about the way she watched the fight ahead, eyes tired, face creased with lines that looked too old to be there, or something about the way she casually walked through, gently touching the shoulders or arms of people to let her know she was beside them.
It took little time for her to reach her target. Slowly, she kneeled beside the man laying on the ground, placing a hand over his forehead.
Walczą, nie myśląc o konsekwencjach.
And the people around, bystanders to those consequences. They engaged in spectacle. In awe. Too enveloped in the fight to notice the damage.
"Everyone, please step back. This is a dangerous situation," she called out. A few people shuffled, watching, as if noticing the wounded man on the ground for the first time. "If you don't leave, you could get hurt as well."
There was an edge of authority to her voice, and slowly, people began to shuffle back. Once some did it, others followed suit. The mind of crowds. They always followed the paths of least resistance. Slow to act, hard to stop once they started. With her newfound space, she flared out her coat, sitting crosslegged, flashing a quick, stern glare at the hero in the metal suit as he fired off another volley of rockets. It was shameful. Risking innocent lives over what - material goods?
Goods were replaceable. Lives were not.
"Hush, sir. Hush. You're going to be alright."
The man beneath her hand was fidgeting, blood blooming beneath his shirt. A piece of metal shrapnel had hit his chest, and he was struggling to breathe. Taking a deep breath of her own, she closed her eyes and focused. A faint glow. A warmth, tingling from her skin to his. Slowly, the fidgeting stopped, bulging eyes relaxing, chest rising and falling with a steady rhythm. The blood stopped. Running her hand down over his front, she brushed away the chunk of metal, letting it clatter to the ground.
A new pain throbbed in her own chest, a dull ache.
Raising a hand, she waved at the receding crowd, pointing at two young men near the front.
"You two. Come here."
People didn't offer help when you asked. You had to tell them what to do. Had to point them out.
"Take this man away from here. Be careful - he needs to rest, and he's weak."
As the pair lifted the man between them, she rose, moving quickly to the next casualty, only pausing to wipe her bloodied hands off on her jeans.
"Sounds like a fuckin plan." Sheer responded to Hawkshaw's offer. It wasn't everyday that an enforcer like himself got to go toe to toe with one of Century City's most famous heroes; let alone teaming up with one of its most hated to do it.
The truck trick Mars pulled would've made anyone else shit their pants but, for a monster like him it was exhilarating to have such strong opponents back to back. If he wanted to keep his shield he couldn't dodge but, he could make use of a technique he hadn't needed to use since Siberia. He charged forward, dropped to one knee, and angled the door shield under the truck. It's momentum, combined with his strength, sent the vehicle over his head. A dead on collision turned into a glancing blow but, it was a blow nonetheless. He felt the bones in his forearm fracture the moment he made contact.
Pain was part of his job though and as of right now Mars was the only one who had been dealt any. He let the improvised shield fall to the ground while his right arm grew hotter. He had his doubts that a simple combat knife would do much against that suit of armor. Like a sprinter in a race, Sheer shot forwards, pushing himself up into a full on sprint. Looking to take advantage of Hawkshaw's opening he scooped his hammer back up with his left hand.
"You got windshield wipers in that thing!" he shouted as he drove the white hot combat knife forward towards Mar's face covering. In the time it took him to close the gap his arm had reached peak temperatures and the knife was barely holding itself together so rather than a solid blade it was molten metal thrust into his facemask. Followed by an adrenaline fueled swing from his left hand. Bringing the claw hammer down against the right side of Mars's head and releasing the little bit of kinetic energy he had managed to store during his sprint. It wasn't enough to do serious damage to armor like that but, he was sure Mar's would feel it.
As he did so he felt the fractures in his left arm get worse. His body could normally handle the stress his powers put it under but, the fractures from the truck had compromised that natural durability to the point where his own blows were a liability. He shot backwards while swinging his 4000 degree right arm to cover the retreat and put some distance between him and the Mechanical Man. He had one more good swing from his left side in him before the arm was completely useless so he'd have to make sure it was a good one.
"I understand, I understand, but you had to bring him here? This man is a murderer, Anděl. He has killed many, and has no remorse."
"Hush, Peter. He is an enemy of the police. Do you know what they would do to discredit him? You buy their lies. He is on our side, he cares for people like us."
"Ne, buď zticha. Jeho problémy tady nepotřebujeme."
The old couple continued to bicker in the back while Nadia tended to the unconscious vigilante. He'd taken quite the beating, deserved or not. The staff of the shelter seemed divided on that matter - some tried to argue he was looking out for them, some called him a copkiller, a murderer, while some still - while sympathizing with his goals - couldn't seem to reconcile it with his means. Nadia paid it no mind. It wasn't the safest call to bring him back here, but she didn't have the time to deliberate on the consequences, and it was the safest place she knew.
"He was a man in need," she whispered to Peter and Lenka over her shoulder. They'd continued their argument in Czech, but by the sounds of their voices, things were getting heated. "It doesn't matter what he did. Is that not our mission? To give service to our neighbors, as Christ would?"
The bickering lulled, the couple looking slightly cowed.
"They would have given him medical treatment in custody," Peter eventually muttered. Nadia glanced his way.
"Do you really trust them to do that?" She levelled a stare - not angry, simply questioning. "To patch him back up and put him on trial? You know who runs this city. What they are like. It would be just as likely for him to find proper care in jail as it would for them to shoot him in the head and say he killed himself."
Peter finally fell silent, and Nadia returned to her work. Placing both her hands on the man's arm, she closed her eyes, focusing - and praying. Across the vigilante's body, broken bones knitted together, bruises faded, blood staunched. She pushed for a few more seconds, then had to stop, hunching over and wincing. He wasn't fully healed - he'd still hurt, when he woke - but his body could handle the rest.
Hawkshaw lies on a cot, not quite awake, not quite asleep. His muscles twitch and spasm, reacting to a danger that’s no longer present. The wounds inflicted by his opponents are slowly sealing themselves, but blood isn’t the only thing he’s leaking. Black smoke- Umbra -pours out, seeming to drain light from the room as it gathers above him.
Consciousness returns in fits and starts. Hawkshaw hears voices in the distance, words heated, but soon soothed by another voice, one that carries a certain quality he almost recognizes. Something ethereal, otherworldly. The owner of that voice could speak in any register, and all around her would still fall silent and listen.
The next sense to return isn’t sight, smell, or even taste, but his sense of right and wrong. Not an internal moral compass- the Deathwish Detective has never been at a loss for that -but his ability to sense the inner selves of those around him. According to legend and myth, that’s the one thing every Spirit of Justice has shared, for as long as the idea of justice has existed. The past incarnations all manifested different outward abilities, like Hawkshaw’s own manipulation of shadow and darkness. But their crusades were all facilitated by an ability to see the true character of anyone they laid eyes upon.
For the Gray Knight, it’s been a gift and a curse. Separating the innocent and the guilty would be much more difficult without it, but it’s also made maintaining any sort of ordinary human relationship next to impossible. His parents wondered why, from even his earliest years, he’d recoil from his father’s touch. And how to explain, even once he knew the words, that he was privy to secrets that not even the two of them had ever shared? He couldn’t discern the specifics, but knowing the generalities was enough to poison that relationship forever.
But here, Hawkshaw realizes, delirious with pain, that he’s found something so rare its value is impossible to quantify. Someone who is not only innocent, but fundamentally good. As that sinks in, the black smoke pouring from wounds torn open by shrapnel begins to fade, and he sinks into a peaceful sleep, knowing that no harm will befall him while he’s in her care.It’s another hour, maybe longer, before he wakes up. No slumber, peaceful or otherwise, can keep the Specter of Justice down for very long. Hawkshaw starts awake, breathing heavily, and only relaxes after a slow look around the room makes clear he’s not under immediate threat.
His companion in the room, a curious young boy no older than fourteen, makes a frightened sound and scampers out of the room, calling out to someone in a language Hawkshaw doesn’t speak. He, too, is innocent- at least for the most part. Something small looms large on his conscience. A few minor crimes, most likely- the cost of survival on the streets of Century City. Nothing anybody will miss, and certainly not worth punishing him for. Not when the people responsible for putting someone so young in a homeless shelter are still able to walk the streets without facing justice.
Standing, Hawkshaw is immediately struck with a bout of vertigo, and reaches out to steady himself. Phantom pain runs up his arm, tracing the length of a cut he received in the fight, though not a trace of it remains, not so much as a scar.
There’s still plenty of damage he can feel, but the kind he’s more than capable of recovering from. Already, he can feel darkness rushing in to fill the empty spaces inside of him- though not as quickly as it usually does.
After a few moments, the Bloodhound feels stable enough to stand up straight, and greet his savior as she returns. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to him, though neither does any other kind of emotion.
“You could have left me to die. You didn’t.”
Mere statement of fact. Hawkshaw sighs, damning himself for his inability to express such a simple sentiment.
Another, longer pause. The shadows in the room deepen, as do those around the Deathwish Detective’s face, until the features exposed by his mask are almost impossible to distinguish.
“You’re one of us, aren’t you?”
And the unspoken question- if you are, why are you here of all places?
Mikael was scared of the man. Nadia didn't blame the boy - a suit like his wasn't a symbol of good or evil, to people like them, just a symbol of power and a cause to use that power for. You were just as likely to be saved as you were to be killed by someone like him. The whispers didn't help, either, though they'd died down soon after they'd started, and the few arguments that had broken out were forgotten and forgiven. Nadia had seen to that.
Still, as she stepped into the room, she drew the door closed behind her, hopefully sparing the rest of the shelter from breaking out again into tension at the sight of the man awakened, and sparing the man of their tension in turn.
"You don't need to thank me."
She pulled away the folding chair at his bedside, settling it flat against the wall, then turned to meet his face. There was a presence to her. Not imposing, not powerful, not even anything particularly noticeable. She didn't seem taller than her smaller stature as she drew herself up to the detective, nor did she seem particularly fixated on making herself seem so. If anything, her bowed head and hands folded tight around a thermos only seemed to accentuate her size. The air around her, though, had a quality of warmth, and with that warmth came a stillness of heart.
"I removed your mask when I first found you. I needed to see the extent of the damage. Nobody else was near, and rest assured, I didn't recognize you."
She held out the thermos.
"Tea. I just made it, so it might be a little hot. You should rest a while - that can be here, if you'd like, but you have to promise me you'll leave when you've fully recovered." Her eyes met his, soft yet unwavering. "This is not a place of war or violence. I'm not one of you - and I won't have your conflicts being brought to my doorstep."
She smiled, slightly.
"But until that time comes, who you are or what you fight for doesn't matter. You're a guest in my house, and me and my kind will treat you as such."
paperwork: It says "meatball" on my end?
Sept 13, 2022 6:37:36 GMT
paperwork: Willow, of course I know how website blocks work. The website puts up its arms into a blocking position, which stops you from getting close to it. To break through the block, you have to exhaust its stamina bar, ideally by punching it. It's easy.
Sept 13, 2022 6:38:43 GMT