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It wasn’t especially hard avoiding the authorities.


After all, the police really had no idea what they were dealing with. Magic had never really belonged to them and their primitive understanding of it was based upon countless assumptions about its use. Their scope was too primitive. Then again, their knowledge of mana was stolen and built on the lives of countless dead sorcerers. They didn’t know, of course, and he couldn’t really fault any of the detectives for using dispensers to manipulate mana into butchered attempts at spells. But they didn’t mean he’d ever forgive them. The ones who had killed his sister. His had struggled every day since he was little trying to escape them. He had managed to survive on his own, living in fear those first few years they would find him and kill him too. But he had never let go. He never would. And as he grew older, he realized what he really wanted. Revenge.


For his revenge he needed power.


To get power he needed to use Black Mana.


To get Black Mana, he had to kill people.


Crimson Robe was created to satisfy that need. He killed criminals and the guilty and the public quickly had given him his nickname. It had stuck, admittedly, and without any memories to tell him what his actual name might be, he had started referring to himself in some way by that same name. He didn’t have much else, after all. Just the robe and the old sword he had stolen all those years ago.


All that aside, the police were clearly out of their league. Humans in general were. They couldn’t hope to get an advantage over someone who existed outside of their understanding. Who broke all of their rules.


So naturally, having someone managing to get the upper hand on him came as a surprise. One moment he was standing, arm outstretched towards his intended target when the floor suddenly fell out from under him and the man in front of him faded away like he hadn’t existed at all. The walls rushed, colors blurring together before he hit the ground hard, his knees bending as he dropped into a crouch to recover.




Staring at the dirty ground under his palm, he quickly jerked himself to his feet again, spinning around in a circle and trying to ignore the throbbing in his head. He hadn’t felt any drain of mana that would indicate a spell was being used. Impossible. Transportation spells were hardly impossible but there had to be some sign. Some indication that the Mana in the area had been altered. Even if the number was the same as before, he should be able to sense some change in the composition. But there was nothing. There was no one in sight. No culprit. No change in Mana.


Lifting a hand to make sure his hood was still covering his face, he paused for a brief moment before stepping forward, letting his hand slide across the stone wall next to him, cautiously approaching the entrance of the alley. He didn’t want to leave completely since he had to be careful. Assess his surroundings first while remaining hidden before making a move. But what he saw was clearly wrong. Even from where he stood he could see signs in English. Cars that had long since been recalled for safety issues drove past, horns blaring and tires screeching. It was all wrong. It didn’t look anything like the city he had been living in. Everything was so….ancient. Retreating back into the shadows of the alleyway, he raised a hand to his forehead, pressing the smooth material of his glove into his forehead just above his left eye where the headache seemed to be originating from.


Where was he?

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He awoke unchained. Untethered to that infernal chair. Though, he had never recalled falling asleep in the first place. That was odd. He sat in a clearing of some sort. Weeds grew inspite of what little room they had, forcing leaves and flower buds out of the concrete. Tenacious things, weeds. Reminded him of a certain scientist...


Maxwell sat up, his dark eyes surverying the area warily. To his surprise, however, he seemed to be in a city of some sort. He hadn't created any of those. Was he really...?




Staring down at his wrists, a frown stretched across his face. His wrists were raw, the first few layers of flesh stripped away. There were similar wounds all over his body, but these were the ones Maxwell could see. Signs of his imprisionment were still there. He had been freed!


The lanky man rose to his feet, dusting off his slacks with his hands. His frown slowly melted away to be replaced with a nasty grin. A quick patting of his coat revealed that, yes, oh yes. The Codex Umbra was still there! That meant they were still at his command. He was practically demonic at this point anyways. They needed a host and a master, but someone to torture and tie down.




His strings were cut. No longer was he one of their puppets.




Chell felt terrible. Worse than when she had awoken from stasis. Her head spun and stomach churned.


Pale blue eyes opened to see a matching color far above her. With no clouds, the sky stretched out endlessly, blocked only by buildings and...


Where was she?


Blinking rapidly in an effort to numb the pain behind her eyes, a noiseless sigh escaped her. She refused to vomit. Vomiting meant she would lose what little food was in her stomach. And she would not have that.


A quick look around, and Chell was surprised to find two things sitting beside her. Her portal gun sat placidly nearby, within reach, and so did her companion cube.


It had been incinerated. Her one and only friend, destroyed by her own hand. But here it was. Singed and smoking, but it was here. Tears welled her in eyes. She had killed it. She had killed it to get through to GLaD0S. That had been so, so long ago.


But her friend was here. Chell threw herself onto the weighted box, arms wrapping around it as best she could. She missed it. She had missed it so much.

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Riley grunted as his feet hit the ground. They were staying at a motel room on the run from St. George and Talon. They couldn't stay here. "Wes, you up?" Riley asked the human. "Yeah," Wes replied, drinking some of his red bull. "How's the underground?" Riley asked. "So far, no new reports," Wes said wothout taking his eyes off the computer screen. "Good," Riley said, going to the restroom to take a quick shower before Firebrand woke up. As he opened the door, his feet hit soil. Riley blinked as he looked around. "Wes?" Riley called out, as he looked around. "Ember?" The room he was staying at was gone. He was close to another city, but he didn't think it'd be near Wes and Ember. Did Talon get them?


No. Talon would have killed him at least. St. George would have killed them as well, so that was out of the question. Teleportation? Dragons didn't have that ability. Then situations played in his head that Talon somehow got a hold of new technology to teleport him. His dragon side was irritated and he was going to have to be extremely careful of who he talked to. Finally, after some debate, he started to move towards the city, hoping to find some way to call Wes and explain to him where he went.




The Fox jumped. It was on a mission. It needed to help the Guardians. It then blinked as it jumped up ontop of a mushroom just to land somewhere else. No this was curious. Where was it? It barked, the ring echoing through the air, but was lost in all the noise of this strange new place. It missed its fox, lost forever in the forest. The Fox felt great joy, when as an orb, it fused with the fox. For a moment, The Fox was happy. However, the Ritual of the Seasons was too much for its body.


As The Fox wandered around, it saw something, a creature, holding onto something, a misshaped orb perhaps? It wasn't falling, so what was it doing. The Fox went over there to see if the creature and the misshaped orb were alright. It let out a soft bark to alert the two creatures with its presence before it sat down and looked curiously at the two.

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Their heart was pounding. Terror was welding up in their tiny chest as they fled. Kuro, a giant black owl with angry eyes, chased after them through the molten land of Mount Horu. Sein darted around them, glowing silently unless they found another path to take.




Sein veered left, leaving Ori to do the same. They turned, they jumped...


With a startled cry, Ori plummeted into darkness. It wasn't of their own doing, they were certain. They couldn't jump across it or find a wall to grab. They just fell. Sein remained by their head, a comforting point of light in the darkness.


Dark blue eyes blinked open, focusing on the gray ground beneath their small body. Perplexed, Ori sat up quickly, ears flicking and trying to take in the strange sounds that surrounded them. "This is not good. Where is the forest?" Sein bobbed around Ori's head, their light flickering as they spoke.


The Spirit Guardian had no answer to their worried companion but Ori was more curious than afraid. Rising to their feet, the little creature looked about, spotting strange beings nearby. They looked nothing like the enemies of Nibel, possessing various colors.


This new place was filled with color too, but none of it was like the vibrancy and beauty of Nibel. Still, Ori could see the beauty in this strange place. Cautiously, Ori started walking towards the strangers.




A sigh escaped her lips as Nilin sat forward, bowing her head as she contemplated how she got here. No memory, a terrible power in her hand, and only a single voice telling her how to use it. Should she trust him, this man named Edge? If she wanted her memories back... Well, I suppose I have no choice. Sitting up, she raked fingers through her cropped hair, feeling the strands and idly wondering what sort of person she had been to wind up in Bastille, a secure prison designed to wipe the memories of its inhabitants.


Something, some force, pulled her backwards. With a yell, she was falling. Colors blurred and blended together, objects twisting and distorting before her eyes. She found herself on the ground, prone on her back. Grunting, she rolled onto her hands and knees before climbing to her feet. Stumbling, she turned in a circle, wide-eyed. "Edge?" She pressed the comm-link in her ear, trying to reach her only guide. "Edge!"


No answer. "Alone then...," she breathed. Frowning, she absorbed what she knew. This wasn't any part of Neo-Paris that she had seen. It wasn't Slum 404, tucked away out of sight beneath Neo-Paris so the more fortunate didn't have to acknowledge its existence. It wasn't Bastille either. In fact, the place looked primitive. It wasn't filthy or torn apart like Slum 404 and it certainly wasn't the grandeur of Neo-Paris. All around, she noticed the lack of Memorize technology, of hologram billboards, armored security, and especially of wanted posters for her arrest.


There were people though, and some strange creatures she'd never seen the like of before. Flexing her gloved hands, Nilin wondered if she should approach them. None of them looked like security personnel or bounty hunters like Olga. Their physical state suggested they weren't Leapers, so the few memories she had were safe from being fed on. Though, startling, none of them seemed to have a Sensen port glowing at the back of their necks.


Almost reflexively, Nilin shot a hand to the back of her neck, finding reassurance in the presence of her own Sensen. So she was the only one here. Decided, she approached the strangers.

Edited by Narvix

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Somewhere in the distance, Hoopa saw a couple of people enjoying a huge load of macarons, one of his favorite snacks. Sneakily, it used one of it's rings to take a couple of macarons off of their pile and eat them, giggling in between the bites because of how easy it was.


Then the people noiced some of the macarons were missing and soon they saw Hoopa feasting on them. They rushed at Hoopa, alerting it with the noise they made. Startled, Hoopa wanted to go back home using his ring, keeping the macarons of course.


On the other side of the portal, however, there wasn't any temple. Or well, there was, but the colors were blending into a deep darkness and...


It hit the ground. Working it's way up, it took to the sky again. Looking around, it saw it was lost. Not the first time. Eventually it's human friends would go look after it, wouldn't they? For now, it seemed like it was stuck here though, so it could better have fun while waiting.


In the distance, it saw a woman tightly holding on to a strange object, seeming to care about it a lot. Willing to poke some fun, it floated away from the woman until it felt like the distance was long enough and then used a portal to grab the object the woman was holding. As the woman was holding tightly onto it, Hoopa had to use thief.


Of course there was no fun in taking some useless thing from someone without seeing their response, so it left open the ring.

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It was quickly obvious he wasn’t alone in the alleyway. Even without turning around to see who was there, the abrupt change in lighting was easy enough to see. The dull, white light illuminated the bricks around him and sent his shadow forward so it lay on the ground in front of him. The alley was still mostly dark, but he was immediately on guard again. Was this the culprit who had transported him? His fingers curled into a fist just briefly before he began to gather mana around his palm. Immediately, red tattoos flashed into existence on his cheeks, followed by two on his hair that cast an eerie, red glow across his skin. Whirling around, he held his palm out towards the source of the light, aiming directly in front of him. He nearly fired off a magic missile in the direction, ready to shoot blind just to get the upper hand. But he paused enough to realize there was no one there.


Well, that wasn’t true exactly. It was just whatever was there was clearly not human.


His gaze dropped to the short creature moving towards him and he quickly stepped backwards, towards the entrance to the alleyway, lowering his palm to face the creature. At first glance it looked like some kind of dog, but the source of the light was coming from a strange orb floating above the creature. What was that? At first glance it seemed magical but just like before he couldn’t seem to feel any change in Mana. And while it was duller compared to the orb, the dog-creature glowed with a faint light too.


They didn’t look like anything he could recognize but he was self-taught in magic. It was extremely plausible it was simply a spell he had never seen before. But if it was, that meant it had to come from someone else who could use magic. They wouldn’t have taken this long to try to kill him if they had found him. Did that mean there was another sorcerer out there somewhere?


While his face was mostly hidden by the red hood, it was immediately apparent when the red tattoos on his cheeks flashed quietly out of existence and the reddish glow faded away. He had to be on his guard, yes, but there was no point in using a spell if he didn’t know what reaction it cough cause. The last thing he needed was for this to suddenly cause a magical backlash from clashing mana. Violence could wait…for now. He could try being civil to start.


”What are you?” he asked softly, staring down at the small creature and the accompanying orb.

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Tcki-tit uuurrn




A rush of footfall, splashing up puddles of rancid cess.





"Mum! On your six!"


She spun around, Infiltrator brandished just as the Feral Ghoul fell upon her. A sickening shhlunk resounded as the bayonet punctured its flesh, its momentum shishkebab-ing it to the rifle's barrel.




POW! A spray of irradiated blood and body parts littered her jumpsuit and the floor, the force blowing what was left against a pile of rubble. Another, this one dotted with turret fire, scrambled from under a cabinet at her right. Before she could see it--


"Not today, bucko!"


Shhhing! Shhhhhing! A shoulder and head severed from the torso and fell aimlessly. The ghoul flung itself around for a second before collapsing backward.


Tat-Tat-Tat-Tat-- A few weaker ones dropped like flies before the lone functioning turret; she'd blown the other one up out of habit, much to their chagrin. Before long, the remnant stragglers were few and fleeting, and she gather herself up next to Codsworth in the moment of ceasefire.


"Codsworth? You okay buddie?" He spun his arms around freely--it'd take more than a few ornery ghouls to take this bot down!


"Never better! Though might I say we were quite unprepared for all this mess..." She fished a couple Stimpaks out from her satchel, giving them a light shake.


"Yeah, no kidding. But it's gonna have to do. It's a long walk back to Sanctuary..." She motioned for him to take the 5 Stims she had left. He faltered--surely she wasn't planning on hoarding these for later? This journey had made her quite the pack-rat, much unlike the woman he knew before.


"Um...I don't mean to protest, but you're not--?"

"Like I said, it's a long walk. We're low on water, I'm on my last sweetroll, and it's a fine line between me and the Mentats." She began to deftly unclothe herself, all the way down to her smallclothes. She gave them a toss at Codsworth.


"Here--hand me my suit and my pulse mines. We're making this quick."


He complied, reaching into his own pack for the Hazmat first. He hated the idea--a lone woman, a lone person wandering back there into who-knows-what, all to finish the little game set up for them here in the Cambridge Polymer Labs. He wanted to object, but it'd do him no good; Mum was a headstrong, battle-hardened missionary of freedom, and she'd rather die in the clutched of a Deathclaw than ever let someone cordon off her choices.


She zipped up the flagrant-yellow rad-suit and re-equipped her rifle, holstering the plasma mines and Pickapacker at her side. She shook a silver canister and looked him dead in the lenses.


"Alright Coddy, I'm gonna ass-blast this Glowing One down here into another dimension. You stay here in the foyer. Don't let even a single Ghoul come through that door. I've got all the samples on me, so if I die, you'll know where to find them."


His eyestalks fell. This was terrible! And such a terrible thing to say! Oh, why didn't she ever think about how her words came out?


"Now, there's no need for all that fuss! You know I'd self-destruct if any mortal harm came to you..." She sighed, laying a hand on one of the protective shields beneath his eyes.


"Psh. Whatever."

"No. I'm serious. You're coming back out of there alive if I have to drag you, kicking and screaming like a child! And don't think for a second I wouldn't carve that sorry sod into mincemeat in the process, oh no!" The tinkling laughter buzzing through her face shield reverberated through him. For a moment, he thought he saw...


"Geez, fine. I'll be okay, really. We've weathered worse together, haven't we? Hitmen, Mirelurks, the ever-present hoards of Uglies?" She turned away, idly blasting in the face of a Ghoul that dropped from the rafters. But she'd forgotten something so important!


"Mum! Just a second, please." She faced him, and he dropped a couple capsules in her palm. His reservoirs were finished filtrating, and he handed her a bottle full of crisp, clear and clean water for her to wash them down.


"A little iodine a day keeps the mutations away, as I always say!" She tossed back the Rad-X with a gulp, finishing it down with the water. He promptly handed her two packs of RadAway, the red plastic stark against her suit. "Thanks, Codsworth. Now, stay alert! I'll be back, and you better be in one piece or I'll dismantle you myself, bolt by bolt!" She threw up a hand and jogged off into a door behind him, disappearing as the metal plates locked her away. Another hoard of Ghouls rose up as they did so. Codsworth lit his flame, aiming his laser implement at theirs heads.


"Come on, boys! Come try me!"


A rally of electric shots rang out, fizzling against the walls and reducing some of the offenders to ash. Flame engulfed a crowd of them and they ran like pack animals, squealing harshly as the heat consumed their vitals. His buzzsaw whipped back and forth gaily, leaving piles of limbs and zombie viscera strewn across the lab floor. He would never tire, as that was not the programming of a product like him. He was no house appliance, after all!...though he did respect the work they did.


As they thinned down to nothing, a loud BMMPHT caught his attention. He turned a stalk toward the Containment Chamber--




The ground quaked and rattled the windows, tripping up a lone Ghoul who he swiftly dispatched. Loose tiles and insulation rained from the ceiling, a couple broken grates clattering to the floor. As the lab settled, an eerie quietness fell over the room, silent but for the hum of light fixtures and deprecated machinery. Codsworth waited, his inner tubing clinking against his chassis.


He waited very patiently, willing away the worst of thoughts.


He waited.


And he waited.


For what seemed like a century or two.




The door gave out a pneumatic gasp. They slid open...



"Ugh...damn...I hate Ghouls..." Stumbling forward, drenched in irradiated water and obviously weathered, she stood, alive and mostly well. She unzipped the collar and jumped out, panting and sweating up a storm.


"I want...*gasp* my armor. That *gasp*...fricken' suit *gasp* can go suck it..."



Up on the top floor, on a ledge just barely wide enough to traverse, she knelt at the sturdy double-panels of the door to an office. Just inside the window sat a terminal and a large safe, too tempting for her to pass up. To Codsworth, the owners were long gone, having forgotten their sanity and been claimed by deception and foolish egoism. His mistress had chosen on many an occasion to not disturb the bones of the departed, only taking what could not educated those who had passed and would pass after her. Lockets, treasured paintings, collections of bears...these things were sacred to someone, and she understood. In this time of depravity, she understood them.


With the click of a latch, the door opened without fuss. She gave her lockpick set a twirl and stashed it away, smirking. She was so adept at so many things, how she always surprised him! He bopped a bit in the air and gestured at her.


"Fantastic work, Mum! These pre-war artefacts are no match for your unconquerable perception! Nary a bobby-pin wasted, I--ah, Mum, watch your step." He tugged at her shoulder, bringing her foot down just in front of a laser tripwire. She lolled her head and shrugged.


"I'm gonna die so hard one of these days for that. Good thing you saw it." She fiddled with the fixture at the base of the door until it flickered off, effectively disarmed for good. She wiped her hands and stepped through the door. "Come on, Coddy! I want in that safe something bad!"


He happily obliged, passing through the doorframe--


A flash of grey pavement--







His switchboard flared and promptly shorted. He saw nothing.





Sparks of activity coursed through his circuits, bringing him back to consciousness. The failsafe left his bedazzled, though thankfully he had pulled his extremities up to protect them. A diagnostic determined there was no damage, save for a minor ding an a scratch.


Just something for the collection!


A sampling of the air brought surprising information:


Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen..yes, yes, quite...hm? He double-checked, sampling another bit.


High concentrations of each? Hydrocarbons not unlike those before the Industrial Revolution? Monoxides...and only traces of thorium, uranium and plutonium?


Certainly this could not be! Even a barely-ventilated building still had near-uninhabitable levels of nuclear radiation. He extended out an eye from his prone position, easing up onto his flamer arm.


Color. All around him was a clean grey stone, pock-marked granite and red brick. Down from him, at the end of the alley, green boughs swayed against a deep blue sky. He though he saw a road, unbroken and well-kempt, but that was madness. Were his sensors deceiving him at last?


"Oh-ho! My, that's a way to dust out the old sensor array, ah ha-ha-ha..." He activated his nuclear generator and whisked upward. "That tumble must have given me the fits, eh, Mum?"


He swiveled an eye behind him.


"...Mum?" But she was not there. His lenses flashed with sunlight as he looked all around him, to no avail. Where...where could she be?


"Mum? Come on out, now. I'm reserving my hide-and-seek capacity for young Shaun!" He floated down the alley to a dead end. There was nothing but discarded metal strips and needles. He noted their shape: How...primeval.


Now cautious beyond comfort, he eased down the opposite side, grasping at the edge of the wall with his buzzsaw hand.


Birds were singing. Neon signs listing street names and cautions wavered as a strong gust blew. A few cars, lacking any tasteful mechanics with dull colors, strode down the blacktop. He wrenched back from the roar of an engine and detection of burning gasoline.


"...I...I don't like this. Not at all."


As the road cleared, he shot out from behind his cover to another alley, and so he went, down and down further until he reached a circle of a subdivision. They were uniform in their red-brick, black-shingled getup, with white doors decorated with friendly signage below eaves strung with windchimes. Beyond lay a forest, but he wouldn't go there. No, he stole away behind a rec building, trying to calculate just what had happened.


He had enough time. He ran one more diagnostic.


He was fine. No errors, no broken joints, no loosened plugs to his reasoning cores.


"Oh. Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into...?"

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It didn't take until until they whispered in his ear. Not to torment him, but to...to inform him? Oh yes, they spoke of many things around him. It was a lot to process, so for a while, Maxwell retreated back into his mind.


In his thoughts, he rested comfortably in an armchair. Although stylistically similar to the god-forsaken seat he'd been bound to for...who knows how long, it was different. He wasn't chained down. In his thoughts, he was almost never tied down. Almost. Drumming his fingers on the armrest thoughtfully, Maxwell rested his chin with a hand.


"Do tell, where am I?"


The rush of response was dizzying. Maxwell (and his seat) were blown to the floor by their sheer numbers. With a growl, the middle aged man returned his scene to normal. Arms out, fingers spread wide, he shooed them away.




Slowly, he got the information he needed. It was much faster than real time, and it was far, far less overwhelming. Soon, images appeared before him.


A stranger wearing a red robe (he'd have to look into that one. Those who didn't show their face always were hiding from something. Though, black would be less...eye catching.)


A Horned Thing, pale white and softly glowing (another strange thing. Not one of his, though. It would make an interesting pet, but not much more)


There were others, scattered about a fair distance away. But the red one, they were the closest.

"I want that one. What do I need to know about them? Don't give me much. I don't want spoilers."


More whispers. Maxwell's brow furrowed. A frown soon found its way across his face. Snapping himself back into the real world, he scowled.



Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he began to walk. He needed someone to talk to. Even if they had given him a general idea what was going on...


He needed to be sure. He wanted, no, needed to see another human face. How long had it been since he'd actually felt the warmth of another person's breath? Sure, he'd projected himself to his puppets, but it wasn't the same.


As he walked, a cigar materialized in his mouth, already lit. He chewed on it anxiously, his brow creased in what appeared to be concern. But as he approached, this face melted away to be replaced with some sort of relaxed bravado. Leaning against the nearest wall, He flashed his teeth at the robed stranger and took a drag from his cigar.


"Hope you don't mind some company. I thought you and I could have a chat." He exhaled smoke, choosing to turn away from Crimson Robe as he did so. Afterwards, he extended his right hand. "Name's Maxwell."




As a creature appeared, Chell immediately sprang to her feet. Her eyes went wide, and she released the cube in her arms. It was just too big and too heavy to lifted without her Portal gun. Speaking of which... She immediately darted to the 'weapon', snatched it up, and slid it on. Her wide blue eyes stared at the little white creature before her, head tilted slightly.


Was this a deer? GLaD0S said Deer ate grass. But she didn't see any grass around....


Her thoughts were soon interrupted as motion flickered in the corner of her eye. Her thoughts drifted to another time, to another place.

Machinery whirred softly behind her. Chell whipped around, eyes wide with panic. A turret sat before her, its red dot sight trained on her torso.

"I see you."

Only the sound of imagined gunfire jerked her back into reality. Sweat beaded on her forehead, her olive skin going pale. It wasn't there. It wasn't real. She had imagined it.


Instead, what she saw was something entirely different. Small, sneering, and generally made of trouble, Chell gasped soundlessly when her beloved cube was snatched from her. Her cube. She'd lost it for so long, found it, only for it to be snatched from her again.


She'd like to say she wasn't thinking when she dove in after her cube. There were two reasons she couldn't say that: 1) she physically couldn't speak, 2) she had been thinking. And she thought, 'I'm not letting it die again!'. So, Chell sprang feet-first into the loop, not caring of the consequences that led into it. She wouldn't kill it. She wouldn't leave the cube to die again. Never.


Never again.

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Ori came to a sudden stop when the strange creature whirled, arm out. Jumping a few feet back, the Spirit tilted their head, a curious coo escaping. Above his head, Sein bobbed with nervous energy, flickering their light a bit more frantically. ["What is this? Do you know? Are you the answer?"] the orb questioned. Neither of the two beings understood the creature in red, both wary of the glowing light that it could apparently turn off. And, what of the extended limb?


Sein darted forward, circling above the strange being's head, wondering. ["Ori, I fear this place. We must hurry back to Nibel!"] the orb cried.


The small Spirit blinked their blue eyes, glancing away from the strange red creature to look at Sein briefly before they noticed a second strange creature. This one wasn't covered in red and had more understandable features. Eyes, a nose, a mouth - a face where a face belonged. But something stretched out of its mouth and glowed faintly at the end. The creature spoke in a different language from the first one but Ori still couldn't understand it.


Ori mewed before scampering towards one of the two walls at his side, leaping up and clutching the stone with his claws. Skittering upward, he crawled across the surface to get a better view of both strange creatures now. Ears erect, tail curled, Ori tilted their head again, looking down at the beasts from their new vantage point.


Still circling the red creature's head, Sein tried speaking for Ori, but keenly aware that they might not be understood. ["What are you? Are you the answer to why we are here and not in Nibel?"]




Nilin flicked her gaze between the woman and the little creature, jerking when the woman snatched up what could only be a gun. Something blinked into existence nearby and the woman began to sweat. Stepping towards her, Nilin was about to touch her shoulder when the other woman suddenly leapt into what appeared to be a portal. Presumably, she was after the cube that had been taken through it just moments prior. "Hey, wait!" Nilin shouted, reaching out and grabbing for her wrist. "You don't know what's in there!"


Actually, Nilin wasn't even certain if the woman knew what she was doing. She didn't even know if she should be trying to help the other person or just leave her be. I don't even know what I'm doing, what I'm supposed to do. Is this right of me? Digging her heels against the ground, she pulled back on the woman's wrist, trying to keep her from falling through the strange portal.

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The night never seemed to change that much, did it? There was a routine and even if the individual actions changed, there was a repetition that could easily be found.


Every night they went to gather food.


Every night they picked up unsuspecting prey from where they seemed most prominent.


Every night the humans appeared, running and screaming and waving different weapons around, trying to substitute their lack of claws and fire with sharpened swords.


Every night more of them died and they gathered up their loses, dragging off their prey to appease the queen with meager offerings.


They were rumblings in the cavern when morning came. They would never deny the queen, no. Going against her was asking for death. But what else could they do? If they went somewhere else, they wouldn’t have enough to feed her. The prey on Berk were more plentiful and she wouldn’t be satisfied on meager offerings of fish alone. More would die to her hungry jaws than the to humans. But every time they went back to try to feed her, the humans had rebuilt their nests and were ready to fight them off. Dozens died. It was impossible to know who until the final dragon had flown in for the night and dropped off whatever it had managed to bring to bring before settling down to a day filled with hunger.


He tried to stop it as best he could. He didn’t steal food but instead bought time for the others, taking out the deadliest constructs the humans managed to build. Kill as many as he could from the air where he was safe. Never landing, only flying close enough to deliver a painfully accurate blast before soaring into the night again. He was safe there. The vikings had pitifully weak senses and they couldn’t hope to shoot him down when they couldn’t see him. He was safe in the sky where they couldn’t see him. Many dragons died but he wouldn’t be one of them. He was careful. He would assist but nothing more. He wasn’t going to risk his neck for a sheep.


For years, he had been fine. The routine was brutal but fine. Many died but he survived. He lived. That was what mattered in the end, right?


And then one day, the routine changed.


— — —


Flapping his wings after a carefully-aimed blast, he flapped silently back into the air, quickly ascending back to a safe height. Sparing a glance back at the collapsing structure, he huffed slightly. One down. Good, good. The raid was almost over and he could see the dragons on the ground start to grow agitated. They were going to leave soon. Good, good. Giving his wings another strong flap, he leveled off, getting ready to turn around to continue his attack. Another night would come to a close and they would return to the nest. The next night they would return. Same as always, same as always.


Wheeling around, he flew across the sky, rumbling to himself as he spied his next target. Folding his wings closer into his body, he angled himself down, picking up speed. A loud, shrill shriek picked up in his throat as he flew faster and faster and purple flames formed in the back of his throat. At the last possible moment he shot, screeching across the sky and back into the air, seeking refuge above where the flames from the fire could give him away. He flapped his wings, quickly trying to gain altitude again and return to the safety of the star-lit sky.


He almost made it.


Rope-where did it come from?-suddenly bit into his scales and wrapped around his entire body, forcing his wings in close. Shrieking in surprise, he struggled gravity turned against him and he began to fall. Screeching louder as he plummeted towards the dark forest below, he managed to flip onto his back, trying desperately to bite at some of the ropes to free himself before he fell.


Light suddenly burst across the sky, banishing the night in an instant. The sudden bright light blinded him, although his screeches only grew louder as he continued to fall, faster and faster. Even if the light had blinded him he had to get out. He had to escape he had to bite through these ropes and-


He hit the ground.


The Night Fury wheezed as his back hit something hard and he rolled, bouncing across the ground before finally coming to a rest. The ropes hardly relinquished their hold on him despite his midair struggle and the fall but he was left disoriented and dazed. Opening his eyes, he blinked, squinting slightly up at the sun-lit sky above. What had happened? What was going on? His whole body hurt but somehow-miraculously- he seemed to be alive. He strained against the ropes wrapped around his body, trying to look around despite the pain it caused him. It was day time. He could see human structures nearby, but they were tall. Too tall. How had they managed to build those things? He tried to move his head to get a closer look, but the action only made the ropes bite into his neck. Recoiling with a hiss, he settled down quickly, trying to avoid any action that might cause more pain. He was injured enough from the fall. He didn’t need to go accidentally choking himself.


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Riley paused as he heard something crashland. He took a sharp breath before he went over to investigate. He jumped in surprise as he noticed a dragon as black as night, bound in ropes, lying on the ground. His dragon hissed as he looked around. This could be a trap by either Talon or St. George. Riley was now in a situation where he could expose himself and get killed along with this dragon, or he could help and they both could fly away to live another day. He then transformed into his dragon form before walking over to the dragon on high alert for St. George and Talon. Lilith would, with no doubt, gladly take the pleasure of killing him.


"You okay buddy?" Colbat asked as he observed the smaller dragon. This dragon must have been incredibly young and how one managed to escape the jaws of Talon surprised him. He used his claws to cut the ropes to further stop the dragon from injuring itself in a panic. He sat down after he finished cutting the last rope, surprised that neither Talon or St. George came out and tried to kill them.




The Fox titled it's head when the taller creature dropped the misshapened orb only to pick up a gigantic stick. Only, it didn't look like a stick. Another creature came forward much like the one The Fox was staring at. The Fox decided to bark to let them know it meant no harm, its ring echoing through the air before being lost in the wilderness of this new place. It didn't realize it before, but The Fox felt that the air was dirty. It couldn't sniff properly and all of could smell was foul stenches. It was then something opened before something else swiped the misshapened orb.


The Fox jumped to its feet as the first creature tried to jump after it only to be stopped by the second one. The strange words rang through The Fox's head, but it didn't stop The Fox from running foward to the new open place. It appeared that the first creature with the stick rather liked the misshapened orb and would do anything to get it back. Now how to tell the theif to give the misshapened orb back. The Fox barked, not once but twice. It hoped the theif would get the message.

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Toothless froze, his ears twitching as he heard the sound of something approaching him. He couldn’t see what it was from his position but there wasn’t much reassuring to be done. It was a miracle he had survived the fall at all. Even if it was a dragon found him, there was a strong chance they wouldn’t bother to free him. Personal connections amongst their kind tended to be pushed aside. You never knew who wasn’t going to make it. You never knew who you might have to turn on when hunger drove even siblings to fight. It was everyone dragon for themselves.


It was a dragon who lumbered finally into his line of sight. It was a decently-sized blue one, although it didn’t look very much like any dragon he had seen. It also didn’t sound like any dragon he had ever heard. His ears could be deceiving him, but it almost sounded like a human. Then again, dragons did have very different calls amongst species and there were new species to be found all over world. Still, it was a shame. If it was a dragon he had known there would at least be some shred of sympathy that might save his life. But a completely stranger? He closed his eyes, turning his head away from the other dragon, or at least as much as he could without tightening the hold the ropes had on his neck. Hopefully it would be quick.


It took him a moment before he recognized the noise of ropes snapping. His back leg slipped free of the rope first and his eyes shot open as the other dragon’s claws made quick work of the ropes. His pupils quickly narrowed into sharp slits and his entire body stilled as more ropes fell away, freeing the rest of his legs and his tail. It was only when his wings were freed, however, did he suddenly jerk up, sucking in a harsh breath through his nose and striking out his wings, sending some of the scraps of rope away from his body, although more remained caught around his neck and across his back, lodged in between his spins or simply areas that had not been freed before he had decided to move. But it was enough for him to leap away, distancing himself from the strange dragon so there was some small but comforting space between the two of them. His eyes narrowed slightly at the other dragon, head tilted curiously to one side as he sized it up. It had rescued him. Was it friendly? Would it remain friendly or was the sympathy a one time offer? Stepping forward with his back leg first, he cautiously inched closer to the dragon again, trying to see how it would respond. There weren’t very many dragons that would offer pity to a stranger nowadays. The poor thing would probably end up dead if it continued to let kindness guide it.




Magic seemed like a miracle at time, something that was limitless in what it could accomplish. It could send lightning shooting out from your hand, allow you to move from one place to another instantaneously, or summon objects from other areas. It could let you move the Earth beneath you, create ice from seemingly nothing and perform feats impossible for man alone.


But it was not limitless at all. There were some things even magic could not accomplish. Unfortunately, translating speech was one of them. Turning his head to look over his shoulder towards the man who had joined him and the strange creature in the alleyway, Crimson Robe was left somewhat baffled by his words. He knew some English. Barely any, really. He never had an opportunity to go to school and online classes were too expensive. He never had a need for it either. He never strayed far from his city except to go fishing and what was the point in learning English if everyone he encountered didn’t speak it? He had enough knowledge of the language to know the man was speaking it, but not enough to actually understand what he was trying to say. The outstretched hand clearly indicated that the man wanted to shake hands with him, but that would require him moving in closer. He had no intention of that. He wasn’t a fool. An outstretched hand could very easily spell danger. Sorcerers commanded spells most often through the use of their hands and those spells tended to be close-range. More dangerous, more deadly. He wasn’t going anywhere near an outstretched hand.


Instead, he waved his hand in front of himself, an almost universal indicator of ‘no thanks I’m good’, trying to keep one eye on the man that had approached from behind him, and one eye on the strange creature in front of him and the glowing ball that flew in circles all over the alleyway, making some kind of strange noises he couldn’t identify. The glowing dog-like creature was apparently very agile and managed to climb up the stone wall with ease before pausing above them. His hand twitched slightly at his side, ready for some kind of fight to break out. But the creature just seemed content to perch above them, looking down at them.


Well, this certainly was interesting. It seemed that between the three of them none of them were capable of communicating with one another. He didn’t know what was up with the sleezey-looking stranger or the strange animal but one way or another, he had somehow ended up in this place. The first order of business was finding out where he was. The second was probably finding out who had taken him here and third was why, although really that could come in any order.

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Maxwell stared inquisitively at the robed man for a few moments, before growling under his breath. His hand was lowered as a quick mental conversation flickered throigh his mind.

"You all said he was Korean, not that he spoke Korean!"

Although his mood seemed a little less...Intact, Maxwell sighed and straightened his coat. Fine. He usually projected his telepathy through objects. For Wilson, it had been a radio. He spoke through Woodie's axe, through Wendy, he used her sister's flower, and Wes through the mime's balloons. It was easy to trick people that way. To offer them something they desperately wanted.


This was different. And Maxwell didn't like it. Scowling somewhat, he only relaxed once he was sure there was a connection in place. It was hard without some object in between. Not to mention he was projecting in a radius. The little goat thing would likely get caught in as well.

"Ugh. Language. See what you make me do? Do me a favor and start looking into English lessons, pal." The nice thing about being the one to start a telepathic conversation was the fact he could censor his thoughts. The others? He wasn't so sure.

"Got something against handshakes, pal? Is it a culture thing?"


Maxwell paused to glance down at the little creature that stood between him and the other man. A smirk played on his lips. It was sorta cute.

"Also, this little...thing yours? It's likely involved in this little chat as well, to be honest. I'm not sure. Say... If you can here me, respond, thing."

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A couple pats around himself confirmed two vital pieces of information: he had his pack, with both his and his mistress's personal belongings inside; and his bowler was firmly attached still--it had been a good call for her to bolt the neatly hat to his chassis after leaving home. The silky roughness of the fabric was calming, little ripples of friction vibrating his claw arm as he gave it an inspecting rub.


It was his most precious belonging--besides his family, of course--seeing as it had been an item she had went out of her way to get. Codsworth remembered it like it was yesterday-- she had left him to play with Dogmeat and snuck off on her own. He'd spent the whole day searching for her, eventually being coaxed by Preston to return and take up guard near the front guardposts. She returned late the next day, ragged and bloodied from a long trip to South Boston, a crudely-wrapped and stained present box in hand.


"Happy Birthday, Codsworth. I know it looks bad on the outside--" she'd tapped the box lightly, "--but it's what's on the inside that counts, right?."


He'd been so elated. Service bots were wholly undeserving of such kindness and humanity. Gestures, like birthday presents, were more human concepts that bots like him were obliged to provide in, not receive. Sometimes, Codsworth thought she was merely ignorant of that--she tended to be surprisingly ignorant of many things, like inherent evil and danger. But she had insisted he take it as if he were human, as if he was more than just a domestic product...


He caught himself staring at the ground with all three eyes. He looked up to the sound of footsteps rounding the corner of the rec building, seeing a pudgy woman with an ugly green trashbin in her hands coming toward him. As soon as her eyes fell on him, she emitted a loud startled curse--"Wait a moment! Ma'am, if you would--" She flung up her hands and dashed off, the bin falling and bouncing against the pavement, lid rolling like a cap and the contents spilling from the overly-filled bag. Codsworth hurried over to it with a sigh, "Oh, now look at what you've done...", making quick work of the spill. As he replaced the contents, he quickly made note of what he first thought was a canned variety of Nuka-Cola. Curious...I don't believe I've seen that before...


But there wasn't any time to question it. He placed the bin next to a much larger one and went in search of the first human he'd seen. She hadn't gone far; she was fidgeting around with a set of keys in front of a locked door. Codsworth wasn't an master locksmith like his mistress, but he'd watched her enough that he was certain such a simple mechanism would be child's play for him. Besides, even if she didn't own him, he wasn't about to let the poor girl struggle vainly if he could help it! He came up to her side, causing her to flinch back several centimetres.


"Good day to you, ma'am! I couldn't help but notice that you are having difficulty gaining entrance to your offices. Might I lend my services to you?" He drew out a few bobby pins and a spare screwdriver--it had some initials carved into the grimy orange rubber, and she'd found it meaningful enough to keep.


Codsworth could see her eyes flicking around him. Could she not believe there were Handies still around after the war? After a bit, they landed squarely on his buzzsaw and flamer. He held them aloft for her to see. She gasped.


"No need to be concerned! I wouldn't resort to such brutal measures. Although, I would be remiss if I didn't assure you that everything you see before you is up to the rigorous testing standards of General Atomics and H&H Tools!" She stepped back quickly as Codsworth swerved in front of the door, working at the keyhole for a few moments before the latch gave. he pulled the lever down and opened the door, motioning out to her. "There you go, ma'am! And please, no need to thank me--it's the least I could do." She hurried in wordlessly, eyes struggling in their sockets. Codsworth moved to enter himself--"Oh, could I step inside for a m--"

TCHK-KN. The door heaved against the frame as she pulled it to, and he could hear the deadbolt and knob being locked back tight. Blinds fell on the large windows as Codsworth floated back and forth, trying to get her attention to no avail. As the last one was obscured, he finally decided to give up. He could be tenacious, but settlers tended to be skittish around tech of any kind. At least she hadn't pulled a gun on him.


He made his way further out, coming up upon what appeared to be the outskirts of town. All around was an expanse of grass--green, healthy grass--edging around a few lone roads. The presence of multiple lanes suggested potential highways, so he steered clear of there for know. He pressed on.


Before long, he spotted a lone human in the distance. He didn't see any immediate hostility, like demeanor or presence of weapons, so he sped up to gain ground.


He didn't get far before being stopped dead by an incredible sight, straight out of an issue of Grognak.


A black mass fell straight out of the sky, bounding against the pavement and rolling to a stop. Codsworth was shocked--it was a dragon?! There were ropes bound to its body, and it seemed to be in pain. The man then did something that he legitimately wasn't expecting: he shapeshifted! Into a large blue dragon! Codsworth had never, ever seen anything like it in his life! He was curious, but incredibly wary--his mistress had a heavily misplaced love of Deathclaws due to their resemblance to the wyrm-kind, and he'd had more run-ins with the hideous, lightning-fast chameleon-mutants than he cared for. The blue dragon, who he didn't think was affiliated with the giant cat of a lizard on the ground, cut his fellow loose and let him get to his feet.


He overheard the blue one speak up, in clear as day English:


"You okay buddy?"


He was reminded of Mum by that tone. A twinge of worry ate at his storage units. Oh, I do hope she takes care...


He figured if, by his calculations, if the two were strangers, the man-dragon must have some empathy if he was willing to show it. His voice samples read as genuine, so Codsworth took the initiative to approach. They might be figments of his imagination after all, or a possible miscommunication between relays. He ran one last diagnostic, and then a field observation.


According to the results, he was still functioning at tip-top capacity. There were no extraneous electrical fields distorting his perception; there were no signs of hackers controlling his reality. For now, everything--the bounty of the land, just like it was in America's glory days, the presence of (exceptionally primitive and environmentally dangerous) cars and other vehicles, clear skies, pristine houses and yes, even dragons--was perfectly real. He took out a Stimpak (quickly realizing just how many Mum had stashed while they'd been out), in case there were injuries.


"Why, hello there!...erm...gentle-folk? I do hate to interrupt, but I couldn't help but notice...uhm...that..." He struggled to be as warm and tactful as possible. How do you accomodate animals that don't exist?


"...that...ah, yes!" He swung the Stim upward with the needle erect. "One of you appears to have sustained injuries! I'm no Miss Nanny, but I know my way around a medical kit! Not to toot my own horn, of course, ah-hah..."

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Something happened between the two creatures that Ori didn't understand. They both made weird movements, the not-red beast continuing the curious motions before something changed. The Spirit wasn't expecting it. When he felt it, his tail uncurled and stretched out behind his body. His ears flattened as he pressed his body closer to the wall. What was in their head?


Sein's bobbing jerked to a halt, their light intensifying briefly before dimming to normal. ["You speak with no mouth and yet I understand you. You are not heard with ears, but with the mind. How? Are you the answer?"] the orb pressed, moving to float around the beast that spoke in the strange not-language.


It was looking at Ori now, its mouth shifting slightly. Was it smiling at them? Relaxing their tensed muscles, the Spirit scurried down the wall to stand on his hoofed feet, staring up at the beast. It was talking to him, that much he reasoned from the strange voice he heard. "Ori... I respond to you. Now, you respond to me." Glancing over at the red beast, they tilted their head. "Not enemies of Nibel but not Spirits. Beasts? What kinds?"

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Cobalt waited patiently when the smaller dragon ran. He had to be patient, but he was slightly agitated that this dragon did try to run. It looked curiously back at him and Cobalt's emotions welled up with hope. This dragon must be thinking he was sent by Talon and Riley wanted to laugh out with relief. That still didn't explain the ropes around the dragon. Cobalt looked down at the ropes and looked puzzled at it. This was a different tactic for St. George. He looked back at the black dragon to see it creeping back towards him, his back legs coming first. How could he communicate to this dragon to tell it he was friendly? In Talon, one didn't make friends, but Cobalt was different. He wanted freedom. Maybe this dragon would understand if it truly wanted to be free of Talon.


Cobalt lowered his head, slowly moving towards this dragon, before lying down on his stomach, trying to coax the dragon closer. He then jumped back up on his feet as he heard something in the woods. He turned, wings raised, mouth open to let loose his flames as he put himself between the dragon and the person who spoke. He knew it, Talon or St. George was here. He snapped his jaws shut when a metal....what was it? Cobalt looked at the metal thing as it talked. It was talking about injuries and medical kits. "Nobody followed you here, did they?" Cobalt hissed, his paranoia coming back. "Did Talon send you here or St. George?"

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The blue dragon bolted in front of the black one, threatening him with a quick gnash of his teeth. Codsworth drew up his limbs in haste.


"Nobody followed you here, did they?" There was a sense of opposition in its tone. He hadn't meant to alarm them! He chastised his apparent lack of etiquette. His serpentine eyes were all over him.


"Did Talon send you here or St. George?"


What was this? Talon? St. George? Just what did these lizards believe in? He suppressed the immediate urge to scold him for such nonsensical thinking. After all, maybe they were natives?


"Allow me to condense your questions into a list, as I will be better able to answer your inquiries: 1.) As you can plainly see, I have no current companions at my side. Let me assure you, I've picked up not a single hostile life sign so far." He motioned a bit with his arms. The next two questions were seemingly self-explanatory.


"2.) Why, I'm sure you're aware that those fetid rodents make their nests away in the Capital Wasteland, not here in the thriving suburbs of Homeland, USA! No, you've no need to be frightened of Talon Company's presence here; even so, I don't quite fit the role of 'bloodthirsty mercenary', now do I?" He chuckled lightly at their expense. What a notion! Even if this was not Boston (which it was looking less and less that it was), the alleys and gutters were far from being dingy enough to house the Waste's most notorious ditch-hoppers.


But, that lapse in reason was hardly enough to awe Codsworth.


"As for '3'? Well, I don't have to tell you that St. George is nothing more than a Romantic fairytale. I understand that, despite what my logic cores tell me, you are dragons, it seems. But a quick session in the Classic Literature section will ease your fears, no doubt."

Edited by Sugar-Free

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The Night Fury stopped when the other dragon began to move, lowering its head and inching closer. Mixed signals, clearly. The advancement was an aggressive move for sure: only dominant or challenging dragons attempted to shorten distances to fight. Dragons were immune to fire so fightings in between them were done in close proximity. Claws and teeth made short work of scales. Wings were used for threatening displays and backs were arched to appear larger. And then there were submissive gestures. Laying down, averted gazes and baring the throat. Rolling onto backs wasn’t really a feasible option with spines and wings, but they could still show their throats to their betters. Maintaining eye contact was seen as a direct challenge and laying down made it easy for the other dragon to look down on you and feel superior. Appealing to a dragon’s pride was the easiest way to be spared.


But this dragon was giving two different signals. Moving forward, no matter how slow it was, was a threatening display. But keeping its head bowed was clearly a submissive gesture. His ears flattened against his skull as he stared at the other dragon, watching as it eventually laid down. A low, friendly drumming noise reverberated through his throat as he sniffed the air, resuming his own movements forward. Maybe if he smelled the dragon he could figure out what nest it came from. It didn’t seem hostile and dragons usually made their intentions clear immediately.


That was when the metal thing showed up.


The Night Fury’s pupils contracted into narrow slits as his back and his lips curled into a deep grimace, showing lines of sharp teeth. He knew metal. He knew the shiny objects humans wore to hurt them. It didn’t matter if it didn’t look like a human, it was wearing metal and it was certainly talking like a human. And whatever it was holding was clearly sharp. He almost attacked before the other dragon suddenly sprang to its feet and cut between the two of them.


What was it doing? Was it trying to protect him?


Baffled, the Night Fury blinked for a few moments but didn’t lower his guard, instead slowly sneaking sideways away from the blue dragon. It wasn’t dark outside so he wasn’t easily hidden by the shadows, but that didn’t stop him from trying to creep around, giving the other dragon a wide berth and trying to sneak up on the metal contraption. If the other dragon just distracted it, he could spring on it from behind. His tail whipped back and forth behind him as he prowled across the ground, his eyes remaining firmly locked on the metal thing as it continued to squawk in that awkward, human language.



—— - — -


Well, that was new.


It wasn’t magic, he told himself immediately. There was no mana displacement, no sign from the man or glowing tattoos. Nothing that would signify any magic usage, be it natural or synthetic.


It had to be some kind of technology, then. Translators had to be useful for dealing with other countries and it was only a matter of time before they came out with something that could work so flawlessly it seemed like magic. Including the man being able to be translated without actually saying anything. Was it connected to his brain directly? It was all irrelevant, he supposed. What mattered really was why had he been brought here and who was responsible.


“Safety hazards,” Crimson Robe replied dryly, turning his gaze slightly away from the man to look at the glowing creature in question. That had to be some translator to be able to affect an animal as well. Then again, this clearly wasn’t a normal animal, now was it?


Then again, the translator didn’t seem to work all that well-or maybe it was just the way in which the creature spoke-because when it finally did try speaking it spoke in odd fragments that didn’t make much sense at all. Like it wasn’t used to talking. Or maybe it wasn’t used to anyone listening. But he didn’t have a real answer for that, did he? Sorcerer would be truthful, but dangerous. Human would be lying but safe. And then there was always the chance these two were working for them. So he remained quiet instead, defaulting by nature to listening instead of speaking and trying to hear how the conversation could turn.

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Quickly after Hoopa had grabbed the weird cube-thing, the woman that had been tightly holding it jumped through the portal. Another woman followed after her.


"Were you surprised?!" Hoopa shouted as they saw it floating there.


Then a strange creature Hoopa had never seen before, but he was new to this place, so that made sense. Maybe it'd find a way to poke fun at this little creature eventually. But for now, he was having too much fun with the woman. A gun, interesting.


Wanting to poke some more fun, Hoopa created a portal that led to a spot just 5 feet above it and dropped the cube in it, resulting in the object falling in a vertical loop.


"Hehehhehe..." Hoopa gniffled.

Edited by Felixr2

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The black cat-dragon started to ease from around the blue dragon's side. At first, Codsworth paid it no mind--perhaps he was coming around, metaphorically and physically? But its stature was not unlike a predator with its prey in sight as it encroached, and Codsworth wasn't intending on being a chewtoy! He swiveled an eye to follow its position, contracting the pupil separately. His trackers locked onto it, reading its methodical movements and formulating trajectories just in case.


"I can see that your friend has taken some offence to me." He didn't take his front-most eyes off of the beast in front of him, but kept their apertures wide. Humans communicated so much with their faces, and he hoped this creature knew no different. He had been designed with relatability in mind, and made up for his lack of expressions with emotive eyes.


"Now, I know my looks might lend me to comparisons between the world-destroyers of dodgy science-fiction novels from the last century, but do take comfort in the fact that my service modules are dedicated to upholding the values and morals of the modern American family. I think it would be simply audacious for there to be any undue struggle between us." Codsworth adjusted his buzzsaw and flamer, making them clear and evident for both to see.


"Unfortunately, I am also obligated to inform you that, under my Terms and Service included in my Regulations Manual: [Any 'Handy' models (Mr. Handy/Ms. Nanny/Mr. Gutsy, etc.) that undergoes bi-monthly routine maintenance AND that is found to be functioning under proper and typical operation cannot, and will not, be held liable for injury and death to pedestrians under ANY circumstance {including, but not limited to, self-defense and/or homeland security}.]"


Satisfied that he had made his point, he lowered his weapons and let his limbs relax. His wrists joints fell disarmingly, but it would take but a moment to right them into action.


"But please, may we settle this like cultured gentlemen? I'm certain we can talk through our prejudices, and I would hate to dispose of good company." And that wasn't coy arrogance showing through; battery Codsworth could withstand. But loneliness? Not as easily. And not again, if he could help it.

Edited by Sugar-Free

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Cobalt listened to the robot as it spoke. He wanted to snort as it told him that he didn't fit the role of 'blood-thirsty merchant' and it had detected no signs of hostile life. That's something Talon or St. George would say. "Then what's the chainsaw and flamethrower for?" Cobalt asked as it raised the two weapons to deter the black dragon. Surely one of them built this robot, Cobalt was determined to find out which one. The last statement didn't surprise Cobalt one bit. "St. George? A fairytale?" Cobalt hissed. "Believe me, if only that were true. Why just a few hours ago I was with Firebrand infiltrating one of their bases to rescue a friend of hers-" More then I should have said "-and trust me, that was no walk in the park. And what do you take me for? A fool? No, Talon has operations here in USA, not Capital Wasteland, where ever that is."


It was at that point Cobalt got confused. The thing in front of him started to rattle off about how how dedicated it was about upholding the American Family. "So, you're not part of Talon OR St. George then?" Cobalt sat down and tilted his head. He looked over at the black dragon, hoping it'd chime into the situation. How did this robot tie into anything? Maybe this black dragon knew some answers and hopefully it'd spill them.




The Fox was surprised as it entered through the thing and into a different place. It decided to sit and try to bark its surprise to every creature, but the bark was lost to the sounds of the city. There was a smaller creature that could float. Was it a firefly maybe? There was so much The Fox didn't understand. It knew fireflies were friendly, maybe this really big firefly would stick by it. It went over to it as it did something with the misshapened orb. It looked up at the floating firefly before jumping up and barking.

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Chell's eyes narrowed as multiple events unfolded around her. The first and most prominent change was a hand, wrapped around her wrist. It stopped her just in time to keep from leaping into...whatever this kind of portal was. She'd never seen portals with entrance and entrance loops of the same color. Alarmed, Chell spun around to stare wide-eyed at the girl who had "saved" her.


How long had it been since she had seen another human being? Sure, she'd seen portraits, and heard pre-recorded messages, and heard human-like (but clearly inorganic) voices, but none of that was actually human. And while her first instinct was to wrench her hand free, Chell hesitated.


They were real. The warmth of the stranger's skin, the gentle pressure on her wrist, all of it was real. That meant...


She was really free, then. With people. Around real, organic people. The thought made her....It made her dizzy. Fuzzy childhood memories assaulted her, reduced to vague impressions of emotions by both time and stress. Faces, blurred and unrecognizable, flashed across her thoughts.


Chell's knees buckled beneath her.


Although not unconscious, Chell had gone deathly pale. Sweat trickled down her face as she struggled to process her assault of both thoughts and memories.


A not-so distant noise shocked her back into reality. Instincts, she could rely on those. Her basic need to survive is what kept her alive. It's what brought her here, after everything she'd been through. Immediately did she spring to her feet, wrenching her wrist free of the stranger woman's hand. Blue eyes darted frantically between the cube-caught in an oh-too-familiar portal loop-and the direction of the unfamiliar noise. She had options. As much as it pained her, she valued her own life over her dear friend's.


So Chell took off. Sprinting at her full capacity, she decided it was best to run and hide. To collect her thoughts. She wasn't safe here. For all she knew, this world was just as hostile as Aperture.


It was only when turning a corner was she confronted by more...things. Two horrendous beasts, scaled and clawed, and....And a robot. Chell's heart caught in her chests. Voices and memories rang in her ears. The horrid shriek of all the turrets she'd killed. GLaD0S. Wheatley. All those Cores. They pounded against her mind in an intense, cacophonous overture. Each one grw louder as she tried to block them out. Guilt and fear and anger boiled in her chest, until finally she couldn't take it.


A silent, albeit visibly distressed scream tore from her mouth. Nothing more than the rush of air escaping her lungs could be heard as she clutched either side of her head. She couldn't take it. It wasn't real. It was all behind her. No more Aperture. No more Tests. No more. No more! NO MORE!


And yet, Chell couldn't shake off these feelings. She once again sank to her knees, much slower this time. Tears welled in her eyes and streaked down her face. Silent sobs shook her starved frame as she curled inwards on herself. It wasn't real. It couldn't be. She wasn't imagining any of this. She couldn't let herself think that. She couldn't.




Maxwell pursed his lips, and eyebrow raising calmly. So the thing, no, TWO things, could speak! And they were rather intelligent! That was impressive. As for the man...Maxwell could already tell he had some attitude to him. No matter. Clicking his tongue, the man's dark eyes flickered casually between the silver beasts and the cloaked oddity.


"Uh huh. Okay pal, I'll take your word for it."

He paused to take a long drag from his cigar, musing over his situation. The two little things were far more pleasant than the man. To think after all this time, the first man he runs into is a jerk like himself. He'd admit it, he wasn't a pleasant guy. But hey, who really was nowadays?


"Woah there, one question at a time. Maxwell raised his free hand, exhaling smoke once more. Gee, those little beasts had a lot to say. "Beasts? More like Man. Or...yeah. Man. Hu-man. Human. Smarter than the average beast, I'd venture."

Edited by shadow_claw

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"So, you're not part of Talon OR St. George then?"


If there was a more efficient way of assuring these beasts, Codsworth would've liked to have known about it. Here the blue one sat, vigorous in his assertion that fairy tales were real and that D.C was somehow not a part of the United States. Still, he could at least approach the topic with as much consideration as possible.


"Not hardly, my good sir. My limited weapons catalogue is only a necessity for protection. In this day and age, you can never be too sure."

A sound of frantic rustling behind him drew yet another eye stalk away, to behind himself. The thud of footsteps brought with it a woman, her hair dark and pulled back tight, an orange jumpsuit around her with a blaster in hand--




A momentary lapse in reason; this woman was not his mistress by any means. Yes, they shared the same eye colour and nearly the same hair colour, and they had a strikingly similar build, but there was one key difference:


The utter terror in her eyes.


There was no reason that a civilian should look upon a robot with such horror! Her face was drawn up in a display of terror, her hands grasping at her head before uttering an airy, soundless peal. Was she so taken aback that she couldn't form even basic sounds?


The woman, whomever she may be, seemed to melt before him. She looked as though she was in the middle of a panic attack, or that she was severely dehydrated; perhaps, even, it was both. If the dragons--dragons!--were unwilling to accept his assistance, this woman was in no position to decline him. Even if this wasn't his dear Mum or Shaun, it was his instinctual duty to serve her to his fullest capabilities. But as he approached, he noticed even more concerning features: the tears rolling down her visage, and the strangled choked of mute sobbing wracking her emaciated form. What evil had this poor girl suffered from? The way she hid away her face made her look too much like a slaver's prize, all consumed by suffering and hopelessness. It didn't help matters that the accidental facial recognition had led to an ever-present image of Mum in this position, leading to a painful thrum of sorrow all throughout his motherboard.


Codsworth found himself at a loss, unable to process how to deal with what sat before him. His only option was to recall what he had done in the past, back when his own loved one had suffered so much...


He withdrew a purified water, one of Mum's coveted Perfectly-Preserved Pies (he could most likely get away with replacing it), and a weathered, but clean handkerchief. He set the prior two items down in front of the woman, and opened his aperture large and disarmingly.


"Oh, now, dry your tears, miss! Whatever is troubling you, whatever has weathered you to your knees, I'm sure we can come through together!" He held out the handkerchief to her, urging her to take it. "Please accept these few gifts on behalf of my mistress and myself. While I don't oft prescribe sweets for a trembling stomach, you look as though you could use a pick-me-up...or two, even." Perhaps a joke wasn't appropriate for the moment, but he hoped she laughed, or smiled, or groaned or just looked up with dismay.


He hoped it in his very core.

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The woman who had been holding the cube ran away.


"Hey! That's not fun!!!"


Hoopa drew back the portals and picked up the cube. It went up to a high altitude and let it fall through a newly created portal, the other end being on the ground, an inch away from the woman's face. The cube got launched a few feet above the woman's head, then Hoopa caught it again.


"Were you surprised?" It asked once more, with a big smile on it's face.

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