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12 21 12

The date was December 21st in the year 2012. The floor had given way and our ten heroes were indisposed. Were it not for the repeated chimes of Dr. Allison Breadth, they might all have never woken up again. Lehrer was first. Awakening to the call and frantic warning he preceded to orienting himself as he moved to find the others amongst the rubble and debris. Unfortunately it wasn’t the first time the ceiling and floor had met with him in the between, he chuckled to himself.

Most of the others were pretty easy to find, all were bumped and bruised up pretty good but otherwise okay. Guardian however, was a different story. It took some time to dig their ace out. The anonymous avenger’s armor was pretty damaged in the fall but even without it there were no identifying traits visible to determine sex. Once past the discombobulation the armor even began to mend itself. Knight, Metzuirk, and Davis tended to the others. Using a combination of standard bandages and ointments, energy cleansing, and a special salve that incurred rapid healing through chakra flow the group was back on task quickly.

Looking for a way out it would be Lehrer who first came to notice a large sphere-shaped object in the center of the room. There was a perfect circle of rubble around it remained pristine. As if something were protecting it. After closer examination and relay of the information to the doctor the signal went dead just as Bredth seemed to find the answer to it all. Suddenly a voice boomed throughout the area. ‘Back!” was all Guardian spoke before a tentacle shot up from the floor and through the armored hero’s chest. Lifting Guarding up of the ground the attention of the others was displaced as the sphere began to float above its indention in the floor, sending Lehrer flying backward with one swift motion. A tendril extending from the base of the sphere linked it to the ground and as it flashed with energy the Guardian seemed to just lie motionless. Attention turning back to the sphere, a crease appears exposing more tendrils that begin making their way towards the debris. Pulling it all back to it’s origin a crude humanoid form encasing the strange machine. A voice makes its way out of the device. A question is uttered as the others stand in shock and dismay. “Are you gods or their messengers?”, is met with silence.  Shortly after the sound of Bredth’s voice can be heard. The phrase ‘run’ and then silence as a light in the makeshift titan’s eyes flash and our saviors realize the final battle stands before them.

Dr. Bredth finally knows it all now. Confronted by the cause of it all she thinks to herself about how she shouldn’t be surprised. Garden. She knew everything but now she was probably going to die, the nozzle of a gun pressed firmly into the small of her back.

Lehrer awoke to find Guardian hoisted up and the others attacking the mechanical monstrosity. He reminisced about a time not too long ago when he didn’t lose consciousness every other hour before noticing something strange. Guardian’s helmet was starting to crumble away revealing a bare skull. His mind starting trying to process it, contemplating whether it was a condition present prior to being impaled, caused by it, or some combination of both. It wasn’t until the request for assistance from MtC rang in his ears that he was brought back to the active world. His allies were being beaten back and Lehrer was just the one to find a weak point to exploit. There was only one problem however. He realized that he could no longer speak. Deducing that it was due to the Guardian’s incapacitation, he racked his brain trying to figure out how he’d get them a winning strategy were he even able to find one.

 His name was Garden Scheling. He was the son of the head of the research facility in which Dr. Bredth worked. Though not as gifted as his father, he was still considered to be quite intelligent. And in this moment he decided to tell Bredth what he had done with all that intelligence. Taking her to a conference room he turned brought up surveillance of the battle with the ORB, a spherical device found almost 20 years earlier. A piece of technology so advanced that the entire complex was built to study and reverse engineer new purposes for its components. ORB was in essence the origin of project “Black Box”.

MtC had them attack in teams. Putting the survival of the group before his pursuit of revenge Baise reluctantly accepted his orders. He split them into two assault teams and a support team. Using Doxson’s unique ability to perceive and then seemingly merge an alternate with a primary reality, he kept him close to him as he proved cover fire. Essentially MtC fought the battle on two planes of reality altering between stratagems and merging the two in hopes of recouping losses and finding the best path to victory.  So far the tactic seemed to be all that kept them from being slaughtered but the drain on Doxson was soon making its presence known. Were this the war he could figure out a better plan but in the open area and dealing with such an overwhelming force and armed with so many variables as the abilities of his allies, he needed Lehrer in if there was any hope of success.

Laughing while he licked his lips, Garden reveled in the devastation his creation brought about. Filled with such glee he asked Bredth is she believed in any deities. Without giving her the time to answer he went on to explain that his mother had. He spoke of how that was why she left his father. About how, because of his work she felt the man she had married was being influenced by the devil and become a monster. He told her how he hated his mother and loved science. How her beliefs were ridiculous and how without empirical proof, had no place being uttered. His ranting eventually turned to when he became aware of ORB. When he finally found the means to prove how wrong his mother was. Acquiring tech from many different departments he began to spread his message. Playing on people’s beliefs or rather the lack thereof, he created an army to spread death and destruction. It was his plan to call any figures of divinity to action. To show his mother that as the world sinks into hell there would be no salvation. He would show all the believers that they were wrong.

MtC’s primary assault team consisted of QB, Metzuirk, and Samson. Given their skill set they were the best choice to create an opening for his secondary team. Baise, Knight, and Davis were tasked with disabling the sphere mech. As the primary team would create opening since they all had enhanced strength the blade team would move in to attack its innards. It wasn’t a bad strategy but the sphere just seemed to rebuild faster than they could dismantle and after each attack its form seemed to evolve, adapting to be a better defense against them. There hands were full but bad went to worse when the golem switched focus from defense to offense.

ORB tech had the potential to save the world from itself and the fact that it had been perverted by this preteen sickened Bredth. Ideals about all she worked for and all the good she believed the facility could accomplish was being torn from her. The trite mania of her captor began to stir something deep within her. She never had an easy life. It took years of hard work and perseverance to get where she was. Abandoning her social life and sleepless weeks didn’t stop her so there was no way she was going to just sit by and let it all play out to the tune of a mere child. Steeling her resolve she bided her time, suffering through more psychotic ramblings until she could find her chance.

Doxson was about at his limit when MtC gave the order to fall back. He’d noticed that no matter what, their adversary never left the initial area that the sphere inhabited. It was a gamble but, one that paid off as they were finally given respite. Gathering around Lehrer things began to look grim once they realized he could no longer speak. Turning back to MtC he implored them to brainstorm. Past all the obvious suggestions like ‘not dying’ Metzuirk said something that made Lehrer’s face seem to light up. Using pebbles he tried to show them what they needed to do. Lehrer had the solution and tried his best to get that point across but was interrupted as tendrils starting shooting up from the ground.. Narrowly avoiding any direct hits they all scattered. It wasn’t hard to tell that it only had a limited number of tendril through which to attack but that didn’t make their new plight any less imminent. MtC giving the command to try severing the tentacles, they went on the offensive with little luck. It wasn’t until Lehrer, after commandeering one of Baise’s blades, set off a smokescreen packet that they would be able to regroup. But even then, they knew they wouldn’t have long.

Cursing those he admonished as peons, a fury rattled within Garden. He would not succumb to such inferior creatures. He would not be proven wrong by mere mortals, no matter what enhanced traits they may posses. Putting down the gun and turning to his work-pad he began to work on something. His focus so intent on the screen it would be too late to notice Bredth had made her move. She recovered his weapon and commanded him to stop his game. Paralyzed with terror at his grievous error of leaving his back to a woman, his mind escaped distracted only upon being commanded once again to put an end to his game. The sides of his lips pursed into a crooked smile as he used his work-pad to smack the gun away. Already the victor in his mind he began laughing again the monitor behind him revealing ORB resuming his initial assault. Bredth was struck in awe and he could see it. Garden began to laugh any harder as he went on to explain how he’d instituted a contingency to allow ORB autonomy with only the need of a target. So pleased with himself he turned his back again to take in his genius. Low did he suspect the loss of consciousness that would follow him gazes return to his hostage.

They could hear her voice over the comm system again. Bredth let them know what they were up against as she made her way to a console in order to try and stop it. With Garden out of the picture the only thing left was to destroy the monstrosity before anyone else could ever get a hold of it. They didn’t mention that to the doctor but it stood as an unspoken understanding amongst them. Geared up in preparation for the next assault MtC took out his blade tossing Lehrer his gun as he charged in. Returning the blade to Baise Lehrer ran off collected the discarded tendrils. Baise, holding tight his master’s memento, stood stationary concentrating on the blade even as ORB’s weapons scraped across his flesh. Samson, his super strength failing, found himself saved by Doxson. His ability had changed again and now if he couldn’t figure out what his new one was it might very well be the end for him. QB prepared herself to join MtC until she was halted by Metzuirk. He tried to convince her that she should hang back. He told her about how just like with Guardian he could see her power. How unlike Guardian’s or anyone else’s in the group, hers was based on what he referred to as, ‘aengy.’ Metzuirk tried to warn her that prolonged use of unstable power source would burn her out but she raced in anyway. Telling him before going on the attack that none of it mattered because unlike everything else in her life, it wasn’t just an escape, the power gave her true happiness. Knight made his way towards ORB as well, severing as many tendrils along the way as he could until one pierced his suit leaving him on the ground grasping his side in attempt to stop the blood loss. Davis rushed to Knight. Standing vigil his coat turned to a deep black its torn ends swaying like a flame. Dragging him to a safer location, Davis’ coat reached out to thwart all attacks. Once secure he apply the last of his salve to his fallen comrade and made his way to battle until he was stopped by Lehrer. There was a plan in the works.

Bredth was distraught to find the level of intricacy of Garden’s programming. The only way to control ORB was routed directly into his now destroyed work-pad. There was no longer a way to stop it remotely and even if they could get close enough to it there just wouldn’t be enough time shut it down before it locked out the unidentified access. Garden not only crossed the line, he made sure there’d be no way of getting back. The only help she’d be able to offer now would be to sever its connection to the facility’s mainframe. It wasn’t much, but she hoped it would help.

MtC was able to pry a large portion of ORB’s plating loose before being tossed back like everyone else within its immediate vicinity. ORB generated an electric field so intense it literally pushed MtC, QB, and Metzuirk halfway across the area. Doxson having been caught by a tendril pulled his way to Knight. The tendril went right through one of his calves. Davis stood by Guardian, his master’s memento in hand, ready to strike. MtC lost a couple fingers and some of the functionality of his arm in the last encounter. He could still generate a field but not nearly enough to provide cover for the second part of the plan. QB and Metzuirk a little worse for wear continued the fight. Metzuirk pushing past the pain of broken ribs and QB’s veins burning like acid they refused to let up. ORB has stopped upgrading itself and the tendril attack had ceased. It even showed signs of a blind spot but the signs were far from evidence of success in this endeavor.

After a second field erupted from ORB pushing the two strikers back Lehrer made his move. Firing away at the loose plating he grasped hold with everything he had. The pain was excruciating but with all the strength he had left was able to jar it free. Before he could take in the victory he lost consciousness as a third field was released. Hope was fading when at Samson’s behest, Davis prepared to cut through the tendril that held Guardian. ORB reacting to the action fired a set of darts toward Davis that left trails of a metallic dust. As he concentrated on the memento he began to bring it across the tendril’s base when a charge like lightning began to travel along the darts trails.

Baise stood ever still, concentrating, focusing on his balde. His eyes closed, he seemed oblivious to the happenings around him. At the sound of thunder, he awoke from his trance charging at ORB. With his master’s memnto he’s slash right though its armor covering cracking the sphere itself before being tossed through one of the walls.

Guardian’s lifeless body fell to the floor. In mere moments the armor began to mend itself just as before. Davis turned to ORB to find Samson in his line of sight. The new ability was energy absorption. Baise was out but the damage was done. His attack along with the removal of Guardian left ORB is a dangerous state. It was siphoning off power from Guardian and without the influx it could no longer maintain the level or offensive and defensive capabilities it once had. And, after Baise’s attack the sphere couldn’t even maintain its current form as its armaments began fall. Barely able to stay a float it slowly made its way to Guardian’s slowly regenerating body. With Davis knocked out by the initial feedback after slicing through the line, Samson was all that stood in its path.

QB and Metzuirk gave their all to make it to ORB but they were just too far away, Too injured to get there fast enough to be of any help. MtC was in a similar position since he was separated from his blade, out of daggers, and no closer than QB and Metzuirk. Reaching out to stop its progress Samson fell to his knees no longer able to stand. ORB had drained him. Falling to his side, he joined Knight, Biase, Davis, and Doxson in incapacitation. Hovering over Guardian a tendril made its way out of ORB. The situation appeared bleak until Lehrer appeared stabbing ORB to the wall with MtC’s blade. Using the recovered tendrils to wrap the blade and the panel he slinked his way to Guardian after regaining consciousness as Baise made his final charge.  ORB wouldn’t attack itself is the hope he placed all his faith in. Drapped in piece of itself it lowered its defenses allowing Lehrer his chance. Things didn’t go exactly as he’d planned but none of that mattered. The fight was finally over.

It’s 11:59 PM and hopefully a new day awaits. They all stand, gathered together outside of the facility as Guardian destroys it all. The amount of power used in the process leaves them all speechless. Although Garden made his escape sometime after Dr. Bredth left in search of a workstation, they felt safe knowing that his chances of ever trying for an apocalypse again are gone with the facility. They all made it out alive but the world was a different place than it once was. Garden’s reign was over but new evils still existed. Zuerker and her collectors, the Ops crew who were after QB, rival survivors from the alternative world MtC made it back from, and of course the remnants of any of Garden’s sheep. There was a lot of work left to be done. But they were up to the task. Afterall, as long as there’s a tomorrow, there’s hope.

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