Nerre's apartment was about as barren as humanly possible. A futon, messily shoved into the corner, besides a large set of glazed doors opening out into a balcony with nothing on it. Piles of books strewn about the room, but no bookshelf. A small laptop computer plugged into an outlet on the wall; not presently working. South Phoenix Town, while playing host to some of the more affluent denizens of the city, had been hit hard by Blackout Day, and frequent blackouts were par for the course. Nerre had checked on the old lady living two floors down before returning to his apartment. He'd manage without the magical energy flowing through his apartment, but his neighbours may not be so fortunate. She seemed okay, perhaps a little intimidated by the tall dark man claiming no ulterior motive, so he left her to her own devices.
Nerre didn't own much else. An old rice cooker he'd bought at a market stall shortly after arriving in Phoenix Town, which had loyally followed him from one apartment to another over the last decade, a little gas heater, which he had lent to the aforementioned old lady, a beautiful red sash given to him by his old master, and his cello. Nerre used to collect records, but in an intoxicated rage, he'd destroyed them all for reasons he couldn't remember. The studio apartment had, in fact, been furnished when he moved in, but he didn't like the decor, so he sold it all, giving away whatever he couldn't sell. He'd told himself he'd replace the furniture immediately, but he had been busy with work, and before he knew it, a year had passed. He begun making excuses to not bring women back to his apartment, [i "your place or mine,"] swiftly being replaced with [i "let me walk you home."]
Nerre wondered if he was depressed before remembering the baggie of green powder he had confiscated earlier. Reaching into his coat pocket, he was surprised to notice his recent acquisition was giving off a dull glow in the darkness of his apartment. Hanging up his coat on the door, Nerre slid open the french door and stepped out into the cool air of the balcony. Glancing around to make sure the neighbours weren't watching, he laid out a short line on the balustrade, cutting it neatly with his holocoin card.
With a slow, long inhalation, Nerre let his worst vice get the better of him. Tossing the rest of the drugs onto the futon, he looked out into central Phoenix Town from his vantage point, the cold blue glow of a city fuelled by magical energy slowly beginning to warp and spiral before his eyes. Nerre found himself overcome by a strong sense of elation as his pupils began to dilate and his heart started to beat with a glorious intensity. The sights and sounds of the city grew more intense until, as it reached a glorious crescendo, Nerre was pulled away instantly, like a clap of thunder. Over in seconds. That's why they called it Green Lightning.
Nerre went back into his apartment, and lay down on the futon, staring at the ceiling. Too early to go to sleep, but too dark to read a book without working lights. The stairwell outside had emergency lighting, perhaps he could nestle into a corner and read there. No, that was more effort than he was willing to muster.
[i "Better to be alone with my thoughts,"] Nerre thought to himself, closing his eyes.
"Pathetic," replied the voice of a woman.
Nerre tried to sit up, suddenly terrified by the prospect of an intruder.
"Don't worry, Nerre. It's only me." A dark figure loomed overhead. A woman, athletic build. About five foot seven, medium length hair. She spoke with a peculiar, unique accent. One that was all too familiar.
"Master?" Nerre found himself asking the apparition.
"I'm not your master any more."
"You never told me your name."
"It's ███," she replied, her name obscured by a deafening blast of silence, "such a waste. My best student. A brilliant mind surpassed only by an all-consuming ego."
"I could have beaten you, had you not abandoned me."
"No you couldn't."
She was right. She had trained him well, and hard. Nerre's fists flowed like a river and crashed like a waterfall, and his body had been hardened by months of intense drilling, always pushed slightly beyond his limit. But as Nerre grew stronger and faster, his nameless master effortlessly danced around his fists and left him on his back, every time. It was not a lack of effort - Nerre had put aside his studies to learn to fight - and it was certainly not a lack of strength. She was simply better than him.
"You're pathetic, Nerre Kiwanuka. Pathetic and weak. Weak, pathetic, dumb baby," she spat, mockingly. "Lying on the floor of this drab apartment, no closer to any solutions. Stealing drugs from children. You [i sicken] me."
This was uncharacteristic for his master. She was typically a woman of few words, distant and aloof, but not cruel. Nerre wanted to reply, venomously. He wanted to curse at her and eject her from his apartment, but he couldn't disrespect his master. Not any more. He sat, bolt upright. If he could just see her face, he could just...
... Nerre was alone. He looked down at the small plastic bag, a few lines left, and his sense slowly returned to him. The ghostly visitor retreated back to the distant recesses of his mind from where he had summoned her. He was drenched in cold sweat.
Whatever this drug was, it was not ordinary Green Lightning.
The Gielnor Advanced Systems Warehouse #721 had been abandoned for over a decade. There were plans from the Phoenix Town to remove it as part of a gentrification effort, but before they could it had been purchased by Phoenix Laboratories own Dr. Sarah White. What they did not know was that Dr. Sarah White was just one of many aliases of Corpusraptor, and Phoenix Laboratories was a front operation. The building may have been given a fresh coat of paint, but it was still as rundown as it had been, just now it is crawling with security instead of being completely abandoned. The security were owned by Phoenix Laboratories, being payed on freshly laundered holocoin.
[b [#17a1a9 "Hey... have you ever wondered why this place is so important to the guys upstairs?"]] one security guard asked another.
[b [#2c93af "No idea. We both know there's nothing valuable in here. Just be glad they aren't making sudden budget cuts again. Remember my friend Larry I told you about? I hear he got laid off without so much as a warning."]] the other guard replied somberly.
[b [#17a1a9 "That's terrible. I didn't know they were cutting back people at the main branch."]] the first guard said, slightly alarmed.
[b [#2c93af "Yeah, but human resources is hiring on more people like there's no tomorrow. Overpaid pigs."]] the second guard said angrily.
Before the conversation could continue, Corpusraptor, in the guise of Dr. White pushed the two guards aside, while walking with her escort of flesh golems, given fresh facial transplants, wearing sunglasses and earwigs.
[b [#a3a3a3 "Get back to work you two. That's my 'coin you're wasting."]] Dr. White said furiously.
[b [#17a1a9 "D-Dr. White! Of course ma'am! Right away ma'am!"]] the first guard said nervously, and both ran back to their stations.
Once inside the warehouse, Corpusraptor dropped the guise of Dr. White. Skin began to melt away like hot candle wax, bubbling and boiling away. Underneath the skin, the flesh burned and sloughed off, until all that was left was a skeleton and augmented organs. The skull-face grinned, wearing a metallic smile of razor-sharp teeth. Electronic eyes stared out, obviously designed to look genuine, but the reddish edges that would normally be hidden by surrounding tissues revealed them to be false, albeit very expensive ones. In the mess of organs that sat suspended in the skeletal frame, there was an unusual plastic "organ" sitting just beneath the heart, which appeared to be some sort of sac containing some unusual fluid; a worker in the magic towers would recognize it as the same fluid produced by the towers in the process of generating power, and note its strong magical properties. The artificial organ sac began glowing blue, and the skeletal form began to stretch, before shrinking down to the size of a child. The mess of melted flesh and skin began to sear and burn with pulsating green flame, as it corroded into black smoke that swirled around Corpusraptor's skeletal frame. The smoke clung to the skeleton, and began slowly forming flesh around the bone, intricately reforming. The skin began to slowly grow over top of that, like a soupy mixture atop the rest. Before the transformation was complete, and Corpusraptor donned her black business jacket and fedora.
Arriving shortly afterwords was the mercenary on the phone. He arrived carrying a heavy rifle and six pistols strapped to his chest. Corpusraptor gave a nod at him, grinning her shark-tooth smile.
[b [#131313 "You're early. Not bad. I suppose we are ready to get down to business."]] Corpusraptor said, her voice hissing with venom. [b [#131313 "I want you to kill King Desto. Your reputation precedes you, so I expect nothing short of success from you."]]
[b [#34af92 "Wait, what?"]] the mercenary said in shock.
[b [#131313 "You will assassinate the king, disguised as a member of the Arcane Clan. I will provide what assistance I can. A getaway driver will arrive on stolen air transport, also disguised as Arc."]] Corpusraptor instructed.
[b [#34af92 "This sounds like a dangerous mission. I want eight times the usual rate."]] the mercenary protested.
[b [#131313 "And here I thought you were actually skilled. I suppose this was all a farce, then? Your reputation as a dangerous mercenary... don't tell me, the reputation was fabricated? You didn't actually kill the Hanzu Montenegra, did you? You paid someone else to kill the Arc wizard in your place, and took credit for it."]]
[b [#34af92 "I don't know what you're talking about!"]] the mercenary said defiantly.
[b [#131313 "Oh, I think you do. I have your file, and I've read every detail there. Tell me, are you afraid to kill?"]] Corpusraptor taunted.
[b [#34af92 "I've killed many people!"]] the mercenary shouted.
[b [#131313 "No, I don't believe you have. Your MO is all over the place, inconsistent. But each kill... it is consistent with other mercs and bounty hunters. You are afraid to kill. I have no use for a mercenary that cannot kill."]] Corpusraptor drew out pistol and pressed the muzzle to the mercenary's forehead. He flinched, beads of sweat rolling down. [b [#131313 "You are useless to me."]] Corpusraptor pull the trigger unflinching, unblinking, as the back of the mercenary's skull ruptured open, bits of skull and brain exiting through this hole. A large cloud of blood sprayed outward like a geyser.
[b [#131313 "I suppose I should begin looking for a real mercenary then."]] Corpusraptor frowned, and pulled out her untraceable cellphone again, and began making more calls.
[#131313 #131313] = Corpusraptor
[#bf1111 #bf1111] = Dr. Fanswick (Deceased)
[#34af92 #34af92] = Hired Mercenary
[#17a1a9 #17a1a9] = Phoenix Laboratories Security Guard 1
[#2c93af #2c93af] = Phoenix Laboratories Security Guard 2
[#a3a3a3 #a3a3a3] = Dr. Sarah White
Finally getting her room key she looked around seeing another person come in side . not wanting to deal with the person that much she went up stairs to find her room door "where is it" she said looking for the room that had the numbers 325 on them . it wasnt long before lilly finally opened the door she smiled laying on the bed "finally" she said closing her eyes after the door was shut.
The night felt long. A cloaked man was perched atop the clock tower in Phoenix Town as he peered down towards the entire city. The power was on but the MRC worked on the towers some more for maintenance. This man held a sniper rifle in his hands but he wasn't planning on using it right now, it was his trusted ally in case things went awry. A device in his left pocket buzzed. He answered it.
[b [+blue "I guess The Arc is back after all these damn years."]] a voice spoke
[b [+red "Yes. I know." The man said a transparent phone. "They are back. You can't smell the smoke from the towers?"]]
[b [+blue "Oh I can smell it alright, even after a week the stench of the smoke still hasn't left. I want you to head over to the quarantine of Old Gielnor to make sure the gates are still sealed."]]
[b [+red "They are. I can still see the red and green lights blinking from here. We aren't stupid, we made sure that is powered by it's own magic inside the gates. If it does ever get destroyed though this will be worse than Blackout Day."]]
[b [+blue "Just be safe. I can feel war coming."]]
The cloaked man hung up and put the phone back in his pocket. [b [+red "When did it never come?"]] He pressed a button on his sniper as it collapsed into a little green rectangle the size of a flashdrive. He clipped it to his holster and jumped down from the clock tower and landed on the ground. The cloaked man walked off into the distance towards the Phoenix Town Inn.
[+red Cloaked Man]
[+blue Voice on the phone]
[b [i [center [h3 GDVC Area]]]]
"We got a sick one over here! This isn't your normal one though!" A GDVC worker said as he rushed a pale green citizen towards the infirmary inside the mobile tent next to the quarantine.
"Get her inside quick!" Another employee said.
People were looking at them in shock as employees made a magic barrier around the area to avoid contamination.
"What the hell does she got?" their boss Mr. Yaka asked. He was from a well known doctor from Nernias but soon moved to Gielnor to help out with the sick.
"I don't know. It seems to be the same from when Old Gielnor was attacked. I don't know how she got it though...The place is on lockdown if you can notice." Another doctor said pointing to the sealed gate outside.
"This is bad. The veins are terribly exposed and are pulsating from her arms and face. Her teeth are also rotting. Did anyone let her into Old Gielnor without my permission?!" Yaka asked.
"N-no not that I know of." A GDVC worker said.
Yaka opened up a computer in the tent and looked at the logs. "Two days ago someone opened up the gate and let a Mrs. Terra in...I thought I explicitly told no one to open the fucking gate without my permission!"
The workers looked terrified. Not because of Yakas sudden anger, but the sickness that was brought back with this girl.
"There's nothing I can do. This is the only way." Yaka said pulling out a pistol.
[b "WAIT SIR! DON'T!"]
Yaka pulled the trigger and put one through the girls head. He turned to his men and sighed. "If this was two days ago then there are more out there. Right?"
"No, people said she was in her house this entire time. Never even left. We got a call when she wouldn't answer her door."
"Thank goodness...I didn't want to have drop a T-Nuke on Phoenix Town." Yaka said.
After the body was disposed of using a special type of acidic dust the area was cleaned and sprayed with a sterilization hose and the barrier was lifted. The onlookers were then told to enter the tent to be checked out for this sickness.
Nerre stared up at the ceiling, leaning all the way back in an office chair that was slightly too small for him. It gave a gentle creak as he slowly whirled around to face yet another infuriated lecturer.
"You can call me Nerre."
"Kiwanuka, you need to stop doing this. It's unacceptable!"
Nerre knew what he meant, but he decided it was time to push a few buttons. Working overtime was just about his least favourite thing in the world, but something he'd signed up for when he'd accepted his tenure at Phoenix Town University. Dr. Nerre Kiwanuka. It looked good on the stainless steel nameplate attached to the office door, he couldn't resist. Besides, he got on with his colleagues. Mostly.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Paul."
Paul stuffed his barely-contained fury behind a seemingly calm expression, but his furrowed brow and balled right fist belied the truth.
"Someone's been in my office. Charlotte on the floor beneath told me that some perverse noises were coming from my office. You're the only one on the seventh floor who stayed late last night, Kiwanuka."
Nerre shrugged, and turned back to his computer. "Wasn't me."
Naturally, it was him. He'd met a tearful postgraduate the night before in the lobby. An understudy of a notorious plastic surgeon that had been missing for a few days, worried that her mentor wasn't going to come back. Nerre tried to console her, one thing led to another, and then they were in Paul's office, undressed.
"It's not like I could have taken her here," Nerre thought to himself, "I gotta share this office with three other people. What if someone came back?"
He clicked at his screen a few times, letting the silence hang between himself and Paul.
"Will that be all, Paul? I've got a lot to do."
This wasn't a lie. Blackout day had been an absolute nightmare for Gielnor's agricultural industry, with countless automated systems brought to a dead stop. The Magic Tower Repair company were doing their best to bring the towers back online, but it'd be a few weeks, if not months before then, and some forty percent of Gielnor's food supply was at risk. He had been tasked to find a solution, and time was running out. Paul let out an exasperated sigh and made for the door, slamming it behind him. Fortunately, he'd had the tact to ambush Nerre while he was alone in the office. Explaining that to his office mate, Dr. Lindquist, would have been a layer of stress he didn't want to deal with.
He glanced down at a drawer on his desk and yanked it open. No more work was getting done tonight unless he had some Fairy Dust handy. No such luck today. Worse still, Nerre's supplier was among the thousand people killed at the festival, leaving him completely drugless. "I'm at a university," Nerre mumbled to himself. "There's gotta be somewhere I can score some F." He got to his feet and slipped into his coat. As he left the building, he shot an unpleasant glance at Charlotte, the receptionist.
Phoenix Town University's main campus had gotten oddly quiet since Blackout Day. Among the revellers killed was a number of students, including one of his own. Nerre, of course, had elected not to attend the funeral. A mournful group of students shuffled drunkenly past, heading towards the entertainment district. Nerre paused.
The students, undergraduates, ignored him.
One of the group, a pale biologist with spiky blonde hair, stopped, tugging at his friend's arm.
"This isn't secondary school any more, you can call me Nerre."
He slid over to the group, wearing his usual blank expression and revealing nothing.
"You know, it's pretty dangerous to be wandering around drunk at the moment. The Arc could be anywhere, waiting to take advantage. You kids are the future, after all."
Nerre towered over Rand, looking down into the teen's eyes and putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Take off your shoes, kid."
Rand took a step back, surprised.
"W-why would I do that, Nerre?"
"Because drugs on campus are a serious offense, Randall Chang. And I happen to know that since the attacks, we've ramped up security at Phoenix Town University. So you can either hand them over now, to your favourite lecturer, who will pretend he didn't see you, or you can deal with the sniffer dogs waiting at every exit of this campus."
Rand shook his head vehemently, "it's not like that, sir!"
"Well, then. You shouldn't have a problem showing me the content of your left sock, hmm? I'd hate to hear you got your foot chewed off by a dog."
"I don't have anything!"
Nerre quickly scanned the eyes of the other students, reading their expressions in order. Irate, drunk, bemused, amused, scared, Rand, and - aha!
"You!" he exclaimed at a young girl staring guiltily at her loose-fitting white socks. She squealed, jumping back.
"Young lady, I sure hope that your friends haven't put you up to carrying their drugs for you. That'd be a real shame. I know Randall here has the biggest crush, it'd be heartbreaking if you took the fall for him."
Nerre ignored Randall's pleas of protest as the girl begun to cry.
"I bet you get the best grades too. Hand them over."
The girl let out a slight sob. "Sorry guys."
She knelt over and pulled a small clear bag of green powder from her sock.
"Don't hide drugs in your socks, kids. It isn't as clever as you think." Nerre jeered victoriously, snatching the bag from the girl.
"I didn't see any of you," he laughed, putting the drugs into his pocket and walking away, "have a good evening, all!" he called back to the kids.
Of course, the sniffer dogs weren't looking for the cheap Green Lightning that had been circulating around the University for years. They were looking for bombs.
She sat there in her dimly lit penthouse in downtown Phoenix Town, hands clasped. Her money and power had brought her to this point, it was not free, but through hard work and careful manipulation of the right people. Though wealthy, money was not her greatest weapon, but rather deception was.
In the dim light, she grinned. She had already heard the news of the Arcane Clan's attack. With Gielnor authorities worried about these terrorists, their attention would be away from her criminal activities. She saw an opportunity to spread and sew further corruption, to seize more power, to ensure her reign over Gielnor crime would not end.
Standing on either side of her were two large men, if they could be called that, wearing black business suits. Their pale gray-white faces and milky eyes denoted their true nature; these bodyguards were flesh golems, created for immense strength and unquestioning loyalty. Each one carried a military grade heavy rifle. She favored having dumb muscle like flesh golems around; they could be trusted to never turn on their creator, and were easier to control than fanatics. They could be created en masse, and were useful tools for enforcing her rule. She traveled nowhere without specially augmented flesh golems, such as these, occasionally using ones with face transplants and sunglasses, to give them a more lifelike appearance, so as to not attract unwanted attention.
She was expecting a visitor. He was an hour late. A scowl of impatience spread across her face as she tapped her foot. Just as she tiring of the wait, the doors to her penthouse opened, and in he was thrusted.
He was Dr. Fanswick, a famous plastic surgeon in Phoenix Town, known by many. He was on several magazines, and had his own television program. He had also taken out a loan from one of her associates, and failed to repay. He entered the penthouse escorted by one of her enforcers, blindfolded. When he was thrust into the penthouse, the blindfold was removed.
It was a fairly large room, lit only by candles and sconces. Several large banners and tapestries decorated the walls. In the middle of the room she sat upon an expensive armchair.
She was not very large, but held herself with a large demeanor. She wore a black business jacket and matching fedora. She grinned, revealing sharp teeth. Her yellow eyes gleamed menacingly in the low light.
[b [#131313 "I've been waiting for you doctor."]] she said, her voice giving off both an air of elegance and immense cruelty. [b [#131313 "It's been too long."]]
[b [#bf1111 "What's going on here?! Whoever you are, you'll be hearing from my lawyer!"]] the doctor said, irate.
[b [#131313 "Oh, you don't remember me? Well that's too bad, because I remember you all too well. A young medical grad student with a dream of being famous... Did you think that I would forget?"]] she said, eyeing the doctor carefully, watching his movements, scrutinizing each motion that he made.
[b [#bf1111 "Who are you?"]] the doctor said, now more afraid.
[b [#131313 "You owe me money, Fanswick. A lot of money. And you haven't payed up."]] she said, her smile turning to a frown. [b [#131313 "Did you think you could screw me, doctor? I'm afraid you're dreadfully mistaken."]]
[b [#bf1111 "I'm not talking until my lawyer is here!"]] the doctor shouted in fear.
[b [#131313 "That's fine. I didn't bring you here to make you talk."]] she spoke coldly, her smile returned. [b [#131313 "Guards. Kill him."]]
[b [#bf1111 "No! Don't shoot! I'll pay..."]] the doctor protested.
The flesh golems raised their rifles up and fired, without saying a word. The doctor's pleas of mercy were cut short as he was riddled with dozens of bullets. His body was torn into three different pieces, and bits of flesh and organs were plastered against the floor.
[b [#131313 "Oh, that's too bad. I don't know if there'll be enough of him left to make a golem from."]] she said cooly. [b [#131313 "His life insurance should make up for that."]]
Later that night, she drew out one of her untraceable cellphones, and made a call.
[b [#131313 "I have a job for you to do..."]] she said coldly.
[b [#34af92 "What, Corpusraptor? I'm busy."]]
[b [#131313 "I'll meet with you at the warehouse later. It's a big one. I promise five times your usual rate."]]
[b [#34af92 "I like the sound of that."]]
[#131313 #131313] = Corpusraptor
[#bf1111 #bf1111] = Dr. Fanswick
[#34af92 #34af92] = Hired Mercenary
Walking through the streets holding her hat down she passed through the crowded streets with out a word until she made it to a tavern. Soon taking off her had the young woman let out a light sigh smiling "That's much better " she said as she took her seat at the bar it's self getting some water before she pulled out a small book looking through it . "Well he's been turned in so I can collect that one in the morning considering how much he was worth." she said closing it and looked to another in the room [b "so the little girl is back alive I see"] another said as her head turned to them with a smirk "Work is slow for you again I see so you chose to come bug me.
"Well I don't have time to play to day" she said getting up and putting her had back on leaving out to look for her next job but first she need a place to stay while she was in town. "I guess I can look up an old friend " she said calmly as and kept walking seeing another bar with the light on and shook her head slightly before she walked to the inn that was right next to it getting her self checked in.
It had been a week after the attack at the magic tower festival. A group known as The Arcane Clan had blown up a magic tower of that district where the festival was and had killed over 1000 people, and caused magic powered devices to shut down; planes, cars, machines, etc.
Atlas had witnessed this catastrophe and tried his best to stop the clan. They sadly succeeded and made what was deemed "Blackout Day" which was on the month of Faunis 24th, 1890.
"Atlas. Someone needs a drink." Atlas was a member of RPOG but he also had a side job working at the Green Hat Tavern down in the south side of Phoenix Town. His boss was a middle aged bald bearded man with a stick up his ass. "Well? I don't got all day! I gotta get down to Jaris! You know? The next town over?"
Atlas nodded. "Yes Mr. Reis." He stood up and left the storage room where he resided most of his break. He went to the front area of the bar and saw a knight and a police officer from Amarthene. "What'll be?" He asked.
The officer spoke. "I'll take a a good ol' ale. Never liked the strong stuff."
"Give me the same." The knight replied.
Atlas smiled and poured them their drink.
"You hear about that damn explosion last week?" A civilian sitting at a table not far from the bar counter asked. "Killed about a thousand people! Damn man."
The officer nodded. "Yeah, I was patrolling Klistron in Amarthene and saw the news...Hope the Royal Police can do something about it."
Atlas looked down and thought for a few seconds. "Yeah, hope so too."
He was soon done with his side job and closed the bar. He left back to his home and went inside turning on the TV as he watched the nightly news.
"Tomorrows weather is going to be a beaufitufl sunny day with a slight chance of rain in the evening through the night. In other news Raymond Fletch has been arrested for exposing himself outside of the kings castle. What a way to get on the news Fletch! Now onto some less sad news. A litter of stray puppies has been rescued by the Animal Rescue Union and now they have been put in wonderful homes! N-"
Atlas got bored and changed the channel.
"And now we add some basil to the noodles and you stir three times...Slowly...Okay now you want a bit of a lemony taste but you need Gyron Lemons from Nernias, just squeeze the juice out. Not too much and now you just grate some of the skin for zest. Alright now you got your Lemon Delight!"
Atlas sighed and watched the rest of Ashley Silvers cooking show before he passed out.
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