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X-DREAMERS [mission 01: ash and sand]

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#Duke and Jowan#

 

Dynarst knew that the Inquisitors held power incomprehensible to the common skaa. He thought that Lefevre might have stood a slim chance, at best, with what seemed like his otherworldly pushing abilities, and part of him cautioned against having blind faith in a man he had just met but claimed to have the power of a god on his side. He doubted his claims -- until Bronze Bridge fell to pieces. It suddenly very seemed strange to swear upon the Lord Ruler's name.

 

The force of the encounter between the two beings had bent the steelwork of the bridge and caused it to collapse into the canal below. He had seen the glow of pure power emanate from before the Duke, strong, visible, and reaching into the heavens; he had seen him stand toe to toe with a servant of the Lord Ruler and emerge alive.

 

Dynarst runs towards them, stumbling cover the cobblestones in his haste.

 

"Duke, Duke Lefevre, are you alright?" he manages to say between huffs. From his feats, his mind constructed the Duke was an invisible, untiring, and ambitious figure, but he too seemed as exhausted as any other man after a brutal fight for survival -- it was in his eyes. Dynarst didn't know if his humanity reassured him or worried him. "And you too, ah..." the skaa addresses Jowan. He presses his lips together at the sight of the tear in the other man's forearm "I know someone--" he begins then stumbles on his own words, "--there should be a place around here who can take us in for a bit, at least before--before you smash into another Inquisitor or worse--"

 

The skaa suddenly stops his babbling and his gaze is focused in a point in the air behind the duo, on a rapidly approaching arrowhead-like object whizzing over the water. It didn't take many seconds for him to see that the flying item was, terrifyingly, made entirely of metal and was as tall as two men standing.

 

"What in the mist's name is that?" he whispers. He struggles to help both Duke and Jowan back to their feet and usher them to somewhere safe, before the metallic monster -- which seemed like another terrible innovation from the Lord Ruler -- would spot them for elimination.

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[ interrupted coronation : duke -- ; ] 

 

It is a relief to see Dynarst, and Duke is quickly finding out just how stable of a presence the other man now commands in his heart, even if they have met only moments ago. Perhaps that is his folly -- picking up strangers, wanderers, broken things, forbidden champions. 

 

But never once has he regretted the choices that have led him to the present, and Duke feels the tightness pressing against his chest relax as Dynarst speaks of a place -- of shelter, of aid, and Duke smiles internally to himself. Had he not befriended the strange peasant in the street -- well, they certainly would be closing a lot of doors right this second. 

 

"Perfectly fine," he responds automatically, albeit his voice is tight and he spares a worried glance for Jowan. Despite his own tiredness, it is nothing he is not aware of -- he has fought a war and shielded himself against Elias, after all -- but what worries him more than his own condition, which will undoubtedly restore after a night's -- or perhaps a fortnight's -- worth of rest, he is concerned for the status of a party member that he has promised to protect.

 

He has never let down those dear to him, not once -- and that is a promise that ties Vylcan to him. 

 

"This place," Duke says urgently, not giving Dynarst a chance to respond to his earlier words, "where --"

 

He is interrupted from his question by Dynarst's shock, and Duke turns with a feeling of dread steadily building in his chest. He turns just as he hears Dynarst whisper; a quiet, horrified kind of rushed note, and Duke feels his entire posture tense when he realises -- something is approaching, fast

 

It is a creature made of metal, shiny silver with a sharp red gaze reflecting the light, and the shine of the metal one's coat against the sun brings back the glare of the Inquisitor's eyeless sockets to Duke's mind.

 

He swallows then, looking around -- there is no way they can handle another fight, not with the battleground like this and the exhaustion of his suddenly depleted magic weighing heavily on his mind, but -- he will not back down, either, not when there is much to protect.

 

He spares a glance for Dynarst and Jowan, seeing Dynarst's pale face trying to rush them to safety, and he scrambles to his feet to the best of his ability; he feels faint, but only slightly, and he might have used either Dynarst or Jowan as a support to push himself up in the first place, but Duke angles himself correctly and squints into the distance at the approaching figure. 


There is a strange mixture of fear and apprehension in his throat, but Duke feels his emotions suddenly clear away when he realises --


"Wait," he says. "I recognise him."

 

It is the metal machine from the tea party, the one that had removed the other machine -- the brown-toned one -- and subsequently saved him from an untimely death. Duke thinks that perhaps the other is owed a thanks for his actions, but at the same time -- why was he here? 

 

Duke tries to think back to see if the machine had perhaps accompanied them on their mission, but no -- he would have noticed such a large member of their party, he thinks. But still -- Duke will not take chances, and he does not like the speed at which the other is approaching. An attack?

 

He brushes past Dynarst then, hoping the other will get the hint to begin retreat, and instead walks a couple steps towards the ruined rubble of the bridge, attempting to draw the attention of their ally. He does not want to put a shield up now -- not when he can feel his body's magic desperately trying to work up the resources to keep him standing in the first place, and he is not a fan of spontaneous organ failure -- but if it is absolutely needed he will not hesitate. He still does not know what drove the copper-toned one to attack him, and it is this looming question that keeps him suspicious. 

 

"Hello again," Duke calls out, his voice loud -- perhaps engaging in conversation will stop the other's fast descent, because Duke really does not want to be thrown into the water on top of all the things that has happened to him already, and he has taken enough beatings to last a lifetime.

 

"I don't believe I got your name last time," he says. "You'll have to forgive me; busy bleeding over the floor, and all that."

 

Despite his calm, friendly words, Duke's posture is tense, his feet together, and with the slightest shake in his frame; he is prepared to draw up a barrier, should the mech not freeze, but he does not like his chances -- between burning up internally or getting slammed off the bridge, he wonders which one he might have a higher chance of surviving against. 

 

Perhaps the water. He has never learnt to swim -- but perhaps Dynarst or Jowan know how. Or -- he could run, at this Duke begins to devise a plan should the other turn out offensive. He has no intention of picking a battle he cannot win, not when they are so vulnerable here. The cube in his pocket is stable despite repeated beatings, and he knows -- he only has to run to grab Jowan and Dynarst, and recall to safety. 

 

He will have some explaining to do to Xander, but he'll choose the Nohrian king's disapproval over death -- if it comes down to that, even if Duke does not like tainting reputations. 

 

"What brings you here?" 

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   Fallen Bronze Bridge - The Few at the Scene

 

   The bridge was in shambles. The remaining steel supports creaked and leaned, and massive boulders littered the bottom of the canal, hindering the barges below. Typheus killed his speed up above the destruction, quickly surveying it and the surrounding canal for the obvious, umber form of a 56 Pusher model, or perhaps her ridiculously-terrifyingly-cute laughter... yet, the scene was vacant, even of the odd robed people that occupied the streets where he had materialized. The collapse of the large bridge must have made them flee.
   Well, people tend to scream when they see Fiddlesticks, so listen for screaming, the white mech told himself. He hovered in place and swiveled, listening past the roar of his thrusters, but didn't catch any sounds of panic; rather, he heard a loud greeting echo across the canal.
   Typheus spun in place, and he quickly recognized the forms of three people at the other end of the bridge: the only ones around at the moment. The mousier one quickly hid behind the other, as he stepped daringly close to the remaining bridge's edge. The mech's visuals focused on the figure: white cape, blonde hair, the weird black mark under one eye and the bizarre heeled boots... Duke? Fiddlesticks's near-meal?
 

   Typheus zipped right up to the man before coming to a full stop in front of him, just a few feet away from his face, and hovered there, folding his arms. Despite the sudden rush, Duke maintained a light tone, saying, "I don't believe I got your name last time. You'll have to forgive me; busy bleeding over the floor, and all that."
   The 36 model's gaze flickered for a second as two threads - one laughing and the other too serious to care - canceled out into uncertainty. This bridge had obviously just collapsed, and here Duke was making smalltalk? He flicked his eye over to man next to him... Jowan the mage, he remembered... and then the stranger hiding behind him. Neither had a composure quite as steady as his.
   Rather than introduce himself, Typheus instead excused, "Fiddlesticks is impulsive, but I can tell you she was either hungry, or mad that you're a match for her. She tends to destroy opposition." His voice was grim and flat. "Where did she go? The bridge didn't fall apart by itself; unless it can't handle two hundred thirty pounds of man walking across it." He looked at the mousy man again to try and figure out who he was, but more readily recognized that Jowan had a recent bandage on his arm; the same arm that was bandaged before, during the tea party, actually. "You were attacked," the mech guessed, although he didn't readily attribute it to his partner. She was a lot more violent and destructive; she wouldn't make a scratch on someone's arm and then leave. That meant that something else had been here...

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Arch - Clockshop


Arch did little to suppress his pleased grin as Stan praised him.
“Anytime,” Arch purred, pride swelling in his chest. To him, it didn’t matter if he barely knew who the X-Dreamers were. Serving a human, and by extension humanity itself, would always put a spring in his step. Satisfied that he his task was done, Arch neatly folded his hands behind his back as a Stan turned to converse with a strange woman. Arch could not recall her name, nor was he sure he ever knew it, but he assumed that she was a fellow agent considering how amicably Stan reacted to her. While Arch was grateful that the newcomer appeared to be an ally, he could not help but frown when Stan’s demeanor turned dour.

 

“You know,” Arch began as Stan inched towards the clearing. “You needn’t be so grave. Unless you walk to the back of the building, I doubt you’ll come in contact with the sand at—” As though on cue, hideous creatures, teeth bared and claws outstretched, leaped out of the sand. Sherrkyle was out within an instant, flipping into a vertical position mid-air as a shining strong composed of blue light materialized within it. The other agents suddenly roused out of the previous peaceful atmosphere, quickly took up fighting stances.

 

“I suppose it would be too much to expect this world to be free of monsters,” Arch said. His lips curled in disgust as he pulled back Sherrkyle’s string. A magical arrow emerged from the string as it was drawn. The arrow crashed into the rat that had gnawed at Stan’s metal arm, resulting in a blue puff of smoke engulfing the creature as the arrow signed its skin. “Disgusting cur,” Arch hissed. Just as he was about to nock another arrow, the voice emitted from the cube in his pocket. Arch, startled by the sound, blinked in surprise as he glanced down at the cube. He let go of Sherrkyle, allowing the bow to float in the air as he rummaged through his pants to retrieve the cube. Someone, somehow, was talking through the cube. Arch assumed it had to be another agent, but he was unfamiliar with how long-distance communicators (that’s what it was, right?) operated. “Stan, someone appears to be trying to speak to us,” Arch said. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with how this device works.”

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[ unexpected encounters : duke -- ; ] 

 

The robot rushing towards him makes Duke uneasy, but although his mind is a turmoil of uncertain thoughts, the blond commander holds his ground. To his relief, the machine stops mere feet away from his face, folding his arms together in a rather human-like gesture that has Duke crack a smile, relaxing slightly from his frayed nerves. 

 

"A match," he repeated, in slight disbelief. "Well, I'm honoured, but I'd rather not be attacked on the daily." Although he wants to continue his jest, the silver machine's next words has him pause, and Duke blinks, his surprise evident. 

 

"The bridge ... was me," he admits, almost sheepishly. "I might have broken a couple rules of conduct." However, he immediately sobers up upon the robot's analysis, and nods. "Yes. We'll have to seek shelter for a bit to recuperate, but it shouldn't be anything too serious." He hopes. Duke has no idea how heavily injured Jowan is, but despite that the blond does not like to entertain the idea of 'what-ifs'. The sooner he could end this conversation and seek medical treatment, the better, but all things considered this was still an X-Dreamers agent in supposed need. 

 

"You've lost your copper ... friend? Would she possibly be running around attacking monarchs?" 

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   Bronze Bridge - Hover-chat

 

   Typhues adjusted his wings to maintain his hover, lingering on Duke's words. "Broken a couple rules of conduct"... he remembered when he cared about that. It used to be his job, making sure they were followed, but then things stopped making sense and one rule conflicted with another... or, "feelings", if you were the little reptilian that wrote his software. That didn't make much sense either though, considering feelings were just physical simulations. Yet the machine was still amused by how nonchalant Duke was.

   He let his arms lower a bit at the mention of shelter, and reassessed Jowan's wound. The man behind Duke looked traumatized, but would easily recover - although it was worth noting that he couldn't be another agent, considering how the others reacted to a mech - yet, Jowan's bandage was definitely recent. Typheus flicked his scanner over it and picked up a high, localized moisture and fresh blood cells. He didn't know how Duke managed to destroy a bridge, nor how Jowan was wounded in the process, but at the very least he could use the story later to make Fiddlesticks warm up to the man. There was nothing like an overly-exaggerated story of aggression to pique her interest.

 

   Speaking of his partner, Duke unexpectedly guessed that she was lost. Typheus's face betrayed surprise, but before he could explain what happened the agent made a hilariously-probable suggestion; he couldn't help but bark out a laugh.

   "Running around? Attacking people? I ask myself when she isn't," he said, glancing at Jowan again before double-checking everyone else to make sure he wasn't glossing over other injuries. "What makes you ask? Did you see her?" he added hopefully, "Is there a monarch or a palace around in danger? She vanished during transport and... I don't know where she ended up." The mech hesitated on "I", remembering that he left Yusei behind. Hopefully he was okay... he seemed like he could handle himself.

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Posted (edited)

Cistina waited and waited for what seemed like hours, but received no reply from anyone on the other side of the cubic object. Her eyes flicked back to the man, who seemed to have noticed her pursuit and had veered off in another direction. Cistina narrowed her eyes, feeling a rush of excitement despite herself--a test for her nascent skills was rare in coming, not to mention being very needed. She flicked her eyes down again, briefly, and pressed her thumb to the side that initiated the warp before spreading her arms and tilting them back. Even in this strange world, with its ash-filled skies, she could feel the change in flow around her--If I've more experience, would I still need to spread my arms for this?--and she swooped, losing only the faintest amount of momentum. The man wasn't too far ahead--he glanced back just as she brought her arms to her side after her turn, and reached a hand into his coat. Cistina suddenly felt a sense of foreboding, a keen instinct that she didn't want to know what the man had up his sleeve. She sucked in a breath, curling up slightly as she did so, slowing down--

"Gale upon the welkin high/send arrow wind to smite my foes!" the spell threatened to erupt from her hands as the comforting swish of wind around her sang to her, but she could feel how it it still followed her direction. Like a creek flowing around a stone set in its path, the mana coursed, and Cistina jumped, her deadshot howling as it fired back from her feet and propelled her up. 

Not a moment too soon--the man whipped his hand behind him as she rose, and Cistina caught the flash of light reflecting off of metal out of the edge of her eyes. She angled down, narrowing herself as the man reacted to his missed attack, and let herself fall, winged boots, gravity, and magic working in tandem as the man looked up at her.
He seemed to focus on something behind them as she was a breath away from him. Time slowed, and his hands were in his coat again, and Cistina was just close enough to wrap her arms around his waist and release her thumb. The world twisted around them into a disconcerting cacophony of colors and sounds, and -->

Edited by Pyrowings

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Stan -- Clock shop

 

Theo had immediately sprung into action and vaulted over the counter. Stan ducked, allowing the other man to soar above him and land in front of him, spear in hand. His companion leaped into battle as well, knocking in an arrow and disintegrating one of the monsters with a single shot.

 

Youthful lot with magical powers. Figures, Stan tsked. He clutched his phone close and trained his eyes ahead in anticipation, lowering his stance to prepare to defend just as a third rat wiggled out of the sand to replace the first one. Like Lara, he was regretting leaving his bullets at home because it would have been much easier to just shoot the damn *******s, but this was alright. He couldn't imagine how much more of a pain this would all be without the help of the new recruits.

 

Ever since he joined the XDRS, he felt that his free spirit had been uncomfortably tempered. It must have been from necessity: in his decades of life he never needed to command others, and never wished to be commanded, but this crew... Back then, Vale pulled her hair out trying to teach him to stop being a loose cannon, and yet here he was, easily picking these same lessons up in another world.

 

The ring of his right iris glowed and information filled his sight. Not much of it was helpful, but he could keep track of the enemy's movements. In the meantime, his communicator began to broadcast another message. Cistina's voice was scarcely a whisper. He had to bring it close to his ear to catch it all:  "I've need of help; this anchor can bend the flow of time itself! I do not want to jeopardize the city with collateral damage from my power, so I fear I cannot retrieve the anchor alone. I daresay he is unwilling to touch the ground now--look for us in the skies!"

 

Around the same time, Arch made the remark that the communicator was trying to speak to them. "I'll explain how it works later," Stan squeezed in a reply to the angel. "Let's deal with this first! Arch, Theo, full assault! There's likely more monsters in that sand!"

 

Stan took a few steps back, away from the fray, and finally managed to give a proper answer into his phone to his teammates. The anchor bending the flow of time... "We're having a little situation on our end too, with monsters made by the sand... Our anchor here is an hourglass, so can the two be a matching set?" He waited for her reply, but nothing came. "Cistina? Cistina?! ...Duke?"

 

~~~

 

((to be continued/Cam to be posted in a bit))

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Lara looked around for something to grab to swing at the rats. She noticed that, about a meter from her feet, was a large splintering block of wood. Lara had a bright idea. She picked it up and got ready to swing. If one managed to make its way to her, she could at least knock the **** back. It was the least she could do to defend herself. If she had something better, an attack would have been wise, but this was all she had. It only she were good at baseball, but at least her aim was great. Lara took a deep breath and blew some of her bangs out of her face. She was ready to send one of these things flying.

 

One of the rats jumped towards her, the sand flying all over the place. It chomped down on Lara’s calf and started dragging her towards the sand. Lara smacked it hard in the head to make its bite loosen. Then she kicked it back towards the sand. Another went flying at her face, but she flipped back and smacked into its chin with her boot. “These b******s are worse than the wolves I’ve had to fight.” Lara sighed when she had a brief moment to breathe, but…

 

One more started sniffing the blood on her calf. She could feel its whiskers rubbing against her leg, and she jumped back a foot before driving it across the room with her wooden board. She took a few more deep breaths. Lara resolved that as soon as she got to base, she was going to go to the bazaar and gather some materials for a gym. Or she would go home and train a bit. But she absolutely needed to get back into the swing of things. Lara glanced at Stan, ready for any orders he might have. If she could be of use, damn straight she would.

Edited by Mikasa361

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#Stan, Lara, Badu, Arch, Theo#

 

Cam's expression is focused, unreadable. One arm was wrapped around the post of a shelf. The heavy iron of the rack shifted a little when she used her Allomancy to pull the metal-armed man out of harm's way, threatening to nearly fall on her.

 

The move was as instinctual as shielding one's face to protect from a blow. For a dozen overwhelming heartbeats she wasn't sure if she had helped the situation or not; Stan Gulliver lost his balance and toppled to the floor, vulnerable to the snapping jaws of the monsters.

 

Just leave it to the professionals, she had been told in the past -- and it was true, half the time, that she had caused more trouble whenever she tried to help, but... but her heart was weighed heavy by the possibility that she could have done something to prevent all of this. Maybe if the hourglass was in her care at the time, or if she managed to hold out for another few hours, no one would have needed to die. Maybe if she had started her search on her own a little earlier, these strangers wouldn't need to risk their humanity for this.

 

The angel's four wings made him look like an apparition born from the mists, his arrows destroying these monsters with ease; the spear man had the force of the storms at his command, and even judo-flip woman had the bravery to rush in for an attack against the whipping tails of the giant rats. Cam looks towards the woman with the doctor mask, who was running her fingers over the vials on her person as if to decide which one to use.

 

Cam furrowed her brows. Everyone else was busy fighting, sand creatures included. It was time to see what she could drag out of the sand.

 

Focusing in on the blue lines in her vision, Cam ducks down in front of the counter and takes in a deep breath, holding it while she flares her iron. Her body slams against the stone as if attracted by a powerful magnet, but the fixture does not budge -- instead, the clocks and parts and trinkets at the back of the shop all suddenly fly forward in a silvery hailstorm. Cabinets creak and fall over from the sudden pull, crashing into the sand and scattering a couple rats, and the things buried inside the dangerous dust also began to roll themselves along the ground towards her.

 

All of these items start falling again when she realizes with horror that her reserves were all gone from the burst. Completing their flight path, the lighter objects like spare bolts and utensils clatter to the ground near the entrance, showering Badu, while most of the heavier objects are caught on the other side of the counter. Cam slumps to the ground on her side, too exhausted to decide what to do next.

 

~~~

 

Stan -- Clockshop

 

It felt like a million knives were being flung towards him -- although not many of the UFOs were actually knives. Stan ducked and rolled to the side, kicking a rat out of the way in the process, and watched slack-jawed as things were just literally flying off the shelves. The magic of this world was really something frightening, and he couldn't help but feel a chill in his bones.

 

Even if her timing was a little bad, it seemed like Cam had the right idea -- now they could begin to see if the anchor was among the pile--

 

His phone buzzed in his hand.

 

It wasn't in the pile.

 

According to the pointer, it was still in the sand, and he could see it.

 

"There it is!" he shouted, pointing a finger at the half-buried artefact. The hourglass was ornate, unmistakable, and despite being empty it still glowed with a similar power to the one embodied in the rats. It looked large enough for him to need to hold it in two hands. It appeared to be decorated with a cagelike iron filigree, making it look like a lantern with its shining core. "See that conveniently glowing hourglass half in the sand? That's the one!"

 

~~~~~~~

 

#Duke, Jowan, Typheus#


"Wait," Duke said. "I recognize him." 

 

The hero with the power of a god shook himself out of Dynarst's grip, dragging himself back to the bridge one exhausted step at a time to meet the metallic monster face to face. Dynarst takes a few steps back behind Jowan, but not too many -- he fears that the flying creature might just snatch Lefevre away when he is not looking.

 

Thankfully, it stops just shy of hitting the white-caped man. It takes Dynarst a solid amount of time to convince himself that the metal beast was friendly. That Lefevre had strange friends. Strange, terrifying friends that may be able to fight a god.
 

The creature's one glowing eye seemed to stare straight into Dynarst with judgement and disapproval. Its horizontal eyelid made its expression into one that was perpetually squinting or frowning like a merciless taskmaster, and this unnerved the skaa -- even when its attention was drawn away by the Duke's silly banter, Dynarst kept feeling he was being closely watched.

 

Words keep getting caught in his throat. He could mutter them with shaking lips. He wanted to tell them that they should get going, Lefevre's metal friend included, and that he knew someone who might be able to help Jowan, but he could not muster the courage. Instead, he manages to gesture widely, waving his arms to get the attention of the man and the machine and draw it away from whatever interesting conversation they were having.

 

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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