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The Cheap Quality of American Homes
Before I start, I wanted to say that I've lived in many different countries (brick/concrete buildings) & I never experienced so many problems as I have with US homes. The use of cheap plywood and wood chip, poor or no insulation, flimsy siding and roofing that either blows off in high winds or just rots away after a few year, in addition to high prices have made life a living miserable hell for the average American. I've lived in US for the past 20 years, mainly in the west coast. I owned a nice peaceful house in Seattle area back in the 90s, things were not this expensive & I had a great mortgage rate until the collapse of housing market happened in 2008, and my mortgage rate went up from 3.25% to 6%, although I paid my mortgage onetime & didn't do anything wrong. Around the same time, my utilities, and taxes went up drastically. The house was built in the 80s and the constant rain & termite damage & carpenter ants had made the wood rot underneath the house, not to mention the leaky roof & many other issues with plumbing, mainly to do with wood-structured houses. Long story short, my house was peaceful, but because of high taxation, crime, constant rain & cold, & other problems like high utility & mortgage rate, I made a decision to sell the house and move to California. I rented a two bedroom luxury apartment unit in Orange County around 2015 for $2500/months, but everyday there was an issue with the management, constant noise of performance cars revving their engine, garbage trucks, leaf blowers & landscapers, you name it .... After a year, I finally got sick & tired of high rent & high taxation in Cali & moved to Nevada, Las Vegas. The apartment I moved in was ok for a few months until a loud motorcyclist moved next door to me. The guy worked all odd hours and he used to love revving his bike at nights, like 12 am, 3 am, 5 am, multiple times, when he commuted back & forth to work every day ... Calling the police, talking to Management or leaving nice notes on his bike, none of them worked, until I was forced to move out. Everybody said rent a house, apartments are crap. oh how little I knew So I ended up renting a home (paying $2100) to have more privacy & peace of mind. The house was fine for a few years (except the loud neighbors kids screaming & swearing, dogs barking all day & night, neighbors doing landscaping at 8am Sunday morning, etc etc), but I still put up with it, at least I had few hours of quiet at nights & I used white noise machine to drown out some of the noise. Until one day, out of the blue, the house started making weird noises, mainly coming from the ceiling/attic. It started with one loud knock/snap every morning at 8:30 am, and over a week period, the knocks went from one loud one to 20 knocks a day. Within a month, things became so bad that every time the sun would come up or go down, the roof would pop like 200 times. At nights, I would hear a lot of loud banging/popping noises coming from chimney and the attic. I let the landlord know right away (which they didn't believe me at first), I even paid for pest control (we thought it maybe rats or some other animal in the attic), which no trace of any animal was found in the attic. We brought roofers, inspectors, you name it, no one had any clue what was going on. Things got so bad that I couldn't sleep more than couple of hours every night, waking up with a very loud knock or bang, sometimes every 30 min. I lived in that house for 3.5 years, and didn't hear a beep from the structure of the place, so I have no clue how a building that quiet could go suddenly crazy & it was so frustrating that no one had any clue what was going on . Haunted house? I was forced to move out of the lease & find another place. I ended up living in another house (1,900/mo) that had severe zapping issues (the floors were made out of cheap laminate & they wouldn't let you ground), so every time I touch a door knob or kitchen appliances or doors or windows, I would get zapped like crazy. I also would hear loud banging from pipes when I took a shower & once every two weeks I would hear loud banging from the roof/siding of the house. But at least the structural noise of this house wasn't constant, like the other property. But a few months to my lease, I discovered that the house is foreclosed and the owner has no intention to fix anything, so I moved to another single family home in a very nice area & gated community (paying $2,300/mo). Oh boy, renting this new place was probably one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I moved there around December last year & the first night I slept there I realized that I have made a giant mistake. There were LOUD snaps/pops once every 30 min all over the house, I mean snaps as loud as gut shots that could be heard overheard all over the house, even in the closet or bathroom, day & night. It wouldn't go away. When the heater ran, the snaps & knocks would become so loud, as if wood is splitting in half on top of your head. No amount of white noise or ear plug could block that noise. I work from home & my clients could hear the loud snaps over the phone & often asked me what is that loud noise in the background and if someone is shooting. Because I had moved twice in less than 3 month I ended up putting up with it & staying there for 7 month, I have a background in structural/civil engineering, so I thought I could bring inspectors & could figure out a way to minimize the constant loud popping & snapping noises. I talked to PM & they send people who had no idea what was going on, charging the owner thousands of dollars in roof & pest control. I paid out of pocket myself, bringing contractors to screw the ceiling drywall, in case the nails holding the ceiling boards were moving in & out of 2x4s. We tried re-screwing the ceiling in one room & to my surprise it made the popping noises a lot worse & even more often. By then I knew the property has serious foundation & possibly truss uplift issue. I even got covid during this whole mess around January & not sleeping, constant stress & loud noises made my illness prolong for 4 months Dry coughs, severe diarrhea, shortness if breathe, severe joint & muscle pain & high fever. At that time I was so devastated & all I wanted was to sleep & I couldn't I couldn't even go rent a hotel room for a few days, since around March the Gov had shut everything down, so I was stuck inside a big house that I couldn't sleep in any of the rooms. Eventually when I recovered from covid, I thought I've had enough of homes with severe structural/roof issues & it's time to go back to condo/apartment living. At least, they wouldn't have serious foundation/roof issues, right? I moved to this condo a few months ago & of course it's another wood-structure multi-family home made with flimsy roof & floors. What I didn't know about this building is the fact that there is absolutely NO insulation in between the units, over the floor & walls that I share with other neighbors, NON, whatsoever, so I could hear normal conversation, dogs barking, constant door slamming, banging noises from other units. Also because of covid, some neighbors work from home, sometimes repairing heavy machinery & auto parts! Imagine , only sharing a thin plywood with the unit underneath and the loud obnoxious neighbor next door! Another issue with this condo is the shaky floor, when I walk around my unit or neighbors walk around their own unit, my floor shakes violently & ends up shaking my heavy coach as well as the bed. If I'm sleep & the noise doesn't wake me up right away, the shaking of the floor definitely would. I never thought I could hear this much from units downstairs or on the side, because I had lived in other apartments before, and I had never experienced this level of noise traveling up from downstairs neighbors or the hellish neighbors on the side. My neighbor on the side works night-shift, I hear her coming home, all odd hours (like 1am or 4am, every day- it's Vegas so people work odd hours at the casino), I hear everything, when she is taking a shower, slamming the hell out of her bathroom door, her dogs barking, walking around her unit, I've tried to reason with them & talk to them to at least not slam doors 10 times an hour day & night, but had no luck. Unreasonable people can't be reasoned with. As a matter of fact, I think they are doubling down on their door slamming & banging noises. My neighbor downstairs also has a habit of slamming every door & drawer & leaves the house at 7 am (every morning) & my floor shakes violently every time she goes in & out of her building, which is 5 or 6 times a day I have moved 4 times, in less than a year. I lived in single family homes as well as condos that were uninhabitable, because of poor construction & use of cheap plywood, if these structures were built with concrete/brick, none of these issues would have happened. Trust me, I have lived in many concrete/brick structures before, my first apartment in Seattle was an old building made out of brick & you still may hear loud trucks or bikes, but there is no way you would hear your neighbors talking in normal voice, taking a shower, wiping their ass, or closing their door. This is so depressing that we pay so much in mortgages or rent in America, yet we have to live in such horrible living spaces that are uninhabitable. American houses often have the appearance of having brick walls, however these are just stuck onto the outside of the plywood walls giving a false sense of quality and strength. I understand that using flimsy wood is much cheaper than using stone, brick or concrete, but this is not really evidenced by the prices of houses. Even multi-million dollar new houses in the States are being built from the same cheap plywood, poor insulation, shabby roofing material as cheaper houses. The fact that walls are paper thin and conversations can be heard a room away is nothing strange in American houses. I'm not even gonna mention horrible loud structural problems/noises that no one has any clue how to fix (god help you if something goes wrong inside the attic), rotting walls, water getting into insulation, pest issues, termite damage or leaking roofs. You will be surprised that the average material cost (cost of wood chip) for a cheap flimsy American home is around $5,000, but since we live in a mafia state, by the time the city, the contractors, & the utility companies are all done with you, you will end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some case millions of dollars for a home that's gonna end up having too many problems, in just 10 years or less. Sorry for the long rant, i know this has been a tough year for many with people dying alone of covid, but I'm penniless, sleepless, stressed & exhausted & I can't bare the idea that I have to move again soon , to another wood chip rental, I wonder what kind of a horror is gonna be waiting for me there? costing me thousands of dollars in rent & moving cost. > I have a masters degree in civil/construction engineering. I used to do cost analysis for different projects & I know the material cost, for just the framing of a house (the cost of timber & plywood) is around $5,000, I have worked with many reputable construction companies all over the NW. All of them used the same cheap crappy plywood, even for the construction of multi-million dollar homes. > I have owned & rented many homes/condos, town homes/apartments all over US (mainly in NW), new & old. I understand there are individuals who have ulterior motives & are doubling their already doubled profit by enriching themselves off of consumers. But these of the realities of wood-frame residential buildings: the use of weak beams, cheap plywood, poor insulation, flimsy siding and roofing that either blows off in high winds or just rots away after a few year, termite damage, carpenter ants that chew and push out wood by finding crawl spaces underneath your house & you wouldn't even know until half of the house is gone, high expenses regarding pest control (over the years, I've spent at least 20K regarding pest control - rats, squirrels or ants, that will chew the wood & will find a way to get inside your attic/basement again & again) ... Rotting walls, water getting into insulation, moisture damage & mold, termites, leaking roofs, etc, etc. Houses built of plywood and low quality beams will not last all that long. Using staple guns to hold plywood to beams that ends up shabby. Contractors using the cheapest materials to throw up buildings as soon as they can in order to maximize profits. For some reason this shabby building tradition has become the norm in US. Simply using concrete, brick or stone will prevent all these issues related to wood. > If the price of these flimsy wood-frame buildings were as cheap as the cost of its materials, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. At least, it's not costing consumers an arm & leg. The argument I've heard over & over is that we can't afford to build homes made of concrete or brick in US, but this is a gross lie. Even multi-million dollar homes are built with the same material as the cheap ones & how come other countries can afford to build homes made of concrete & still make money? There are so many newer technologies like building homes with precast concrete, so cost effective because they are modular homes (many parts can be per-manufactured) & are a LOT MORE cost effective & durable > Loud popping/snapping noises in wood structured homes are a recent phenomenon, which I believe has occurred as a result of rapid changes in the climate. Super dry or humid & hot summers depending on which side of the country you live in, long cold winters, constant rain, moisture & high winds are taking their toll on wood-frame buildings. Three out of the three recent homes I lived in had severe issues to do with constant loud snapping/popping noises coming from the structure of the house, mainly from ceiling joists as well as walls. Never experienced this issue ever before & here is a video that even new constructions are not immune to this disease Buyers be aware, there is no way to know that a property has this particular issue until you spend a week sleeping & living at the property. I know homes with this problem that were sold & the problem was concealed & the inspector never found anything wrong, because the issue is hidden from naked eyes, check out truss uplift & the effect of rapid changes in the climate on wood-frame buildings. I believe more & more buildings are gonna end up having this issue in the near future. This issue is NOT related to normal expansion/contraction of the wood, these noises are not normal home noises, they are as loud as gunshots, happen all the time, & no one can even figure out what is going on. The building you buy might not have this issue right away, but there is no guarantee that within a few years, you will not end up with this nightmare. > I have lived in homes as old as 300 yrs old, in Germany & UK, built from brick/store & I tell you they are as solid as a rock. They are warm & cozy during winter & cool & pleasant during summer. As far as sound insulation goes, concrete, brick & stone have high mass density, and they muffle & dampen sound quite a bit, whereas wood echos the sound by reverberating it & transmitting it all over. In fact, stealth plans are mainly made of wood, in order to reduce reflection/emission of radar, so they CANNOT be detected, where as signals would bounce off other solid materials. Knock on a wall made of wood & see how it feels hollow & void, whereas concrete or brick will dampen the echo quite a lot. If you punch a concrete wall, you will end up breaking your hand, where as you can easily punch a hole in a plywood wall & if you live in a multi-family home, you may end up in your neighbors unit. Many US houses or buildings will not be around, let's say 500 years from now, as a result of a wasteful consumerism system & a mindset of bulldozing the old & buying something new, even if it's cheaper quality. All great civilizations have left structures for us to admire: Rome, Egypt, Greece, Byzantium, Incas, Aztecs etc. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely that American civilization will leave any impressive physical structures behind.
Before I start, I wanted to say that I've lived in many different countries (brick/concrete buildings) & I never experienced so many problems as I have with US homes. The use of cheap plywood and wood chip, poor or no insulation, flimsy siding and roofing that either blows off in high winds or just rots away after a few year, in addition to high prices have made life a living miserable hell for the average American. I've lived in US for the past 20 years, mainly in the west coast. I owned a nice peaceful house in Seattle area back in the 90s, things were not this expensive & I had a great mortgage rate until the collapse of housing market happened in 2008, and my mortgage rate went up from 3.25% to 6%, although I paid my mortgage onetime & didn't do anything wrong. Around the same time, my utilities, and taxes went up drastically. The house was built in the 80s and the constant rain & termite damage & carpenter ants had made the wood rot underneath the house, not to mention the leaky roof & many other issues with plumbing, mainly to do with wood-structured houses. Long story short, my house was peaceful, but because of high taxation, crime, constant rain & cold, & other problems like high utility & mortgage rate, I made a decision to sell the house and move to California. I rented a two bedroom luxury apartment unit in Orange County around 2015 for $2500/months, but everyday there was an issue with the management, constant noise of performance cars revving their engine, garbage trucks, leaf blowers & landscapers, you name it .... After a year, I finally got sick & tired of high rent & high taxation in Cali & moved to Nevada, Las Vegas. The apartment I moved in was ok for a few months until a loud motorcyclist moved next door to me. The guy worked all odd hours and he used to love revving his bike at nights, like 12 am, 3 am, 5 am, multiple times, when he commuted back & forth to work every day ... Calling the police, talking to Management or leaving nice notes on his bike, none of them worked, until I was forced to move out. Everybody said rent a house, apartments are crap. oh how little I knew So I ended up renting a home (paying $2100) to have more privacy & peace of mind. The house was fine for a few years (except the loud neighbors kids screaming & swearing, dogs barking all day & night, neighbors doing landscaping at 8am Sunday morning, etc etc), but I still put up with it, at least I had few hours of quiet at nights & I used white noise machine to drown out some of the noise. Until one day, out of the blue, the house started making weird noises, mainly coming from the ceiling/attic. It started with one loud knock/snap every morning at 8:30 am, and over a week period, the knocks went from one loud one to 20 knocks a day. Within a month, things became so bad that every time the sun would come up or go down, the roof would pop like 200 times. At nights, I would hear a lot of loud banging/popping noises coming from chimney and the attic. I let the landlord know right away (which they didn't believe me at first), I even paid for pest control (we thought it maybe rats or some other animal in the attic), which no trace of any animal was found in the attic. We brought roofers, inspectors, you name it, no one had any clue what was going on. Things got so bad that I couldn't sleep more than couple of hours every night, waking up with a very loud knock or bang, sometimes every 30 min. I lived in that house for 3.5 years, and didn't hear a beep from the structure of the place, so I have no clue how a building that quiet could go suddenly crazy & it was so frustrating that no one had any clue what was going on . Haunted house? I was forced to move out of the lease & find another place. I ended up living in another house (1,900/mo) that had severe zapping issues (the floors were made out of cheap laminate & they wouldn't let you ground), so every time I touch a door knob or kitchen appliances or doors or windows, I would get zapped like crazy. I also would hear loud banging from pipes when I took a shower & once every two weeks I would hear loud banging from the roof/siding of the house. But at least the structural noise of this house wasn't constant, like the other property. But a few months to my lease, I discovered that the house is foreclosed and the owner has no intention to fix anything, so I moved to another single family home in a very nice area & gated community (paying $2,300/mo). Oh boy, renting this new place was probably one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I moved there around December last year & the first night I slept there I realized that I have made a giant mistake. There were LOUD snaps/pops once every 30 min all over the house, I mean snaps as loud as gut shots that could be heard overheard all over the house, even in the closet or bathroom, day & night. It wouldn't go away. When the heater ran, the snaps & knocks would become so loud, as if wood is splitting in half on top of your head. No amount of white noise or ear plug could block that noise. I work from home & my clients could hear the loud snaps over the phone & often asked me what is that loud noise in the background and if someone is shooting. Because I had moved twice in less than 3 month I ended up putting up with it & staying there for 7 month, I have a background in structural/civil engineering, so I thought I could bring inspectors & could figure out a way to minimize the constant loud popping & snapping noises. I talked to PM & they send people who had no idea what was going on, charging the owner thousands of dollars in roof & pest control. I paid out of pocket myself, bringing contractors to screw the ceiling drywall, in case the nails holding the ceiling boards were moving in & out of 2x4s. We tried re-screwing the ceiling in one room & to my surprise it made the popping noises a lot worse & even more often. By then I knew the property has serious foundation & possibly truss uplift issue. I even got covid during this whole mess around January & not sleeping, constant stress & loud noises made my illness prolong for 4 months Dry coughs, severe diarrhea, shortness if breathe, severe joint & muscle pain & high fever. At that time I was so devastated & all I wanted was to sleep & I couldn't I couldn't even go rent a hotel room for a few days, since around March the Gov had shut everything down, so I was stuck inside a big house that I couldn't sleep in any of the rooms. Eventually when I recovered from covid, I thought I've had enough of homes with severe structural/roof issues & it's time to go back to condo/apartment living. At least, they wouldn't have serious foundation/roof issues, right? I moved to this condo a few months ago & of course it's another wood-structure multi-family home made with flimsy roof & floors. What I didn't know about this building is the fact that there is absolutely NO insulation in between the units, over the floor & walls that I share with other neighbors, NON, whatsoever, so I could hear normal conversation, dogs barking, constant door slamming, banging noises from other units. Also because of covid, some neighbors work from home, sometimes repairing heavy machinery & auto parts! Imagine , only sharing a thin plywood with the unit underneath and the loud obnoxious neighbor next door! Another issue with this condo is the shaky floor, when I walk around my unit or neighbors walk around their own unit, my floor shakes violently & ends up shaking my heavy coach as well as the bed. If I'm sleep & the noise doesn't wake me up right away, the shaking of the floor definitely would. I never thought I could hear this much from units downstairs or on the side, because I had lived in other apartments before, and I had never experienced this level of noise traveling up from downstairs neighbors or the hellish neighbors on the side. My neighbor on the side works night-shift, I hear her coming home, all odd hours (like 1am or 4am, every day- it's Vegas so people work odd hours at the casino), I hear everything, when she is taking a shower, slamming the hell out of her bathroom door, her dogs barking, walking around her unit, I've tried to reason with them & talk to them to at least not slam doors 10 times an hour day & night, but had no luck. Unreasonable people can't be reasoned with. As a matter of fact, I think they are doubling down on their door slamming & banging noises. My neighbor downstairs also has a habit of slamming every door & drawer & leaves the house at 7 am (every morning) & my floor shakes violently every time she goes in & out of her building, which is 5 or 6 times a day I have moved 4 times, in less than a year. I lived in single family homes as well as condos that were uninhabitable, because of poor construction & use of cheap plywood, if these structures were built with concrete/brick, none of these issues would have happened. Trust me, I have lived in many concrete/brick structures before, my first apartment in Seattle was an old building made out of brick & you still may hear loud trucks or bikes, but there is no way you would hear your neighbors talking in normal voice, taking a shower, wiping their ass, or closing their door. This is so depressing that we pay so much in mortgages or rent in America, yet we have to live in such horrible living spaces that are uninhabitable. American houses often have the appearance of having brick walls, however these are just stuck onto the outside of the plywood walls giving a false sense of quality and strength. I understand that using flimsy wood is much cheaper than using stone, brick or concrete, but this is not really evidenced by the prices of houses. Even multi-million dollar new houses in the States are being built from the same cheap plywood, poor insulation, shabby roofing material as cheaper houses. The fact that walls are paper thin and conversations can be heard a room away is nothing strange in American houses. I'm not even gonna mention horrible loud structural problems/noises that no one has any clue how to fix (god help you if something goes wrong inside the attic), rotting walls, water getting into insulation, pest issues, termite damage or leaking roofs. You will be surprised that the average material cost (cost of wood chip) for a cheap flimsy American home is around $5,000, but since we live in a mafia state, by the time the city, the contractors, & the utility companies are all done with you, you will end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some case millions of dollars for a home that's gonna end up having too many problems, in just 10 years or less. Sorry for the long rant, i know this has been a tough year for many with people dying alone of covid, but I'm penniless, sleepless, stressed & exhausted & I can't bare the idea that I have to move again soon , to another wood chip rental, I wonder what kind of a horror is gonna be waiting for me there? costing me thousands of dollars in rent & moving cost. > I have a masters degree in civil/construction engineering. I used to do cost analysis for different projects & I know the material cost, for just the framing of a house (the cost of timber & plywood) is around $5,000, I have worked with many reputable construction companies all over the NW. All of them used the same cheap crappy plywood, even for the construction of multi-million dollar homes. > I have owned & rented many homes/condos, town homes/apartments all over US (mainly in NW), new & old. I understand there are individuals who have ulterior motives & are doubling their already doubled profit by enriching themselves off of consumers. But these of the realities of wood-frame residential buildings: the use of weak beams, cheap plywood, poor insulation, flimsy siding and roofing that either blows off in high winds or just rots away after a few year, termite damage, carpenter ants that chew and push out wood by finding crawl spaces underneath your house & you wouldn't even know until half of the house is gone, high expenses regarding pest control (over the years, I've spent at least 20K regarding pest control - rats, squirrels or ants, that will chew the wood & will find a way to get inside your attic/basement again & again) ... Rotting walls, water getting into insulation, moisture damage & mold, termites, leaking roofs, etc, etc. Houses built of plywood and low quality beams will not last all that long. Using staple guns to hold plywood to beams that ends up shabby. Contractors using the cheapest materials to throw up buildings as soon as they can in order to maximize profits. For some reason this shabby building tradition has become the norm in US. Simply using concrete, brick or stone will prevent all these issues related to wood. > If the price of these flimsy wood-frame buildings were as cheap as the cost of its materials, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. At least, it's not costing consumers an arm & leg. The argument I've heard over & over is that we can't afford to build homes made of concrete or brick in US, but this is a gross lie. Even multi-million dollar homes are built with the same material as the cheap ones & how come other countries can afford to build homes made of concrete & still make money? There are so many newer technologies like building homes with precast concrete, so cost effective because they are modular homes (many parts can be per-manufactured) & are a LOT MORE cost effective & durable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZxskJojRLY > Loud popping/snapping noises in wood structured homes are a recent phenomenon, which I believe has occurred as a result of rapid changes in the climate. Super dry or humid & hot summers depending on which side of the country you live in, long cold winters, constant rain, moisture & high winds are taking their toll on wood-frame buildings. Three out of the three recent homes I lived in had severe issues to do with constant loud snapping/popping noises coming from the structure of the house, mainly from ceiling joists as well as walls. Never experienced this issue ever before & here is a video that even new constructions are not immune to this disease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c07aIV-ddR0 Buyers be aware, there is no way to know that a property has this particular issue until you spend a week sleeping & living at the property. I know homes with this problem that were sold & the problem was concealed & the inspector never found anything wrong, because the issue is hidden from naked eyes, check out truss uplift & the effect of rapid changes in the climate on wood-frame buildings. I believe more & more buildings are gonna end up having this issue in the near future. This issue is NOT related to normal expansion/contraction of the wood, these noises are not normal home noises, they are as loud as gunshots, happen all the time, & no one can even figure out what is going on. The building you buy might not have this issue right away, but there is no guarantee that within a few years, you will not end up with this nightmare. > I have lived in homes as old as 300 yrs old, in Germany & UK, built from brick/store & I tell you they are as solid as a rock. They are warm & cozy during winter & cool & pleasant during summer. As far as sound insulation goes, concrete, brick & stone have high mass density, and they muffle & dampen sound quite a bit, whereas wood echos the sound by reverberating it & transmitting it all over. In fact, stealth plans are mainly made of wood, in order to reduce reflection/emission of radar, so they CANNOT be detected, where as signals would bounce off other solid materials. Knock on a wall made of wood & see how it feels hollow & void, whereas concrete or brick will dampen the echo quite a lot. If you punch a concrete wall, you will end up breaking your hand, where as you can easily punch a hole in a plywood wall & if you live in a multi-family home, you may end up in your neighbors unit. Many US houses or buildings will not be around, let's say 500 years from now, as a result of a wasteful consumerism system & a mindset of bulldozing the old & buying something new, even if it's cheaper quality. All great civilizations have left structures for us to admire: Rome, Egypt, Greece, Byzantium, Incas, Aztecs etc. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely that American civilization will leave any impressive physical structures behind.
Written by Fortanono Edited by dwright5252, AdamantAce << Previous | Next >> ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ Meet-and-greets were always Marc Silvera’s favorite part of the day. Back in his youth, he loved the thrill of heroism, the adrenaline that came with fighting against dangerous people and bringing them to justice. Now, it was much less about adrenaline as it was before; he got his enjoyment from knowing that he made others’ lives just a little bit safer, helping them sleep more easily. Luckily, Josiah Power’s booths in the Polynesia Resort’s cafeteria boiled that right down to a science. Dan and Courtney would always get the most fans, considering that they ran their own media platforms at one point; Helga and Curtis would occasionally hang around his booth for the fans. Ray and Thunder each had their own devoted lines, with their fans from Tulsa and Metropolis often making pilgrimages to New Coast to visit them. The ceremonially empty booth to the left of Marc was there for Vibe, who had attracted a lot of people placing down flowers and mementos, paying their respects. It was still hard for Marc to believe that he was really gone. Marc’s was always the shortest line. He knew why; for a long time, the second Commander Steel was a small-town urban legend whose existence was unconfirmed. The name was also associated with a military group that many disapproved of or outright loathed, Marc himself chief among them after all these years, who was a willing participant in it. Finally, there was the third reason: Commander Steel was not a welcoming figure to most. His helmet kept out any sign that he was even a human, which was no longer a valid assumption for superheroes. In a lot of ways, he understood why children would even be scared of him. He liked to pretend that this didn’t bother him, but he knew deep down that it did, just a little. Even still, he did have several people who came over to meet him. A tall woman with red hair and excessive amounts of makeup walked up to him, her young son in tow. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old, Marc thought. He sat down on a wooden chair nearby and smiled behind his mask. “Hello there,” Marc chuckled. “What’s your name, young man?” “Collin,” he smiled, hiding his face in his hands, his dirty mop of red hair covering his eyes. Marc laughed heartily, almost as if he were a mall Santa. He felt like the kids needed to know that he wasn’t as scary as he seemed behind the mask, and laughing was the best way of doing that. Collin couldn’t see how wide he was smiling behind the visage, the tear of joy running down one of his eyes. “Now Collin, why don’t you sit on my lap and we can take a picture together?” “Yeah!” Collin said. “I love you, Commander Steel. I want to be a superhero like you when I grow up.” “Oh, is that so?” Marc said joyfully, smiling as Collin climbed up into his lap. He hid a grimace; as much as he enjoyed the job, seeing someone so young determined to be someone who put their life on the line was very off-putting to him. The camera flashed, taking a picture of Collin with his hero, and Marc just let the moment rush over him. “Remember to enjoy your stay at New Coast Polynesia Resort!” he called out behind them as they left the line. He always felt weird saying that, but Josiah told them to, and it wasn’t like he didn’t want them to have a fun vacation. The next person moved forward in the line, a teenage boy wearing a camo button-down shirt. “Hey, Commander Steel,” he said gleefully. “You’re so awesome. It’s so cool that I get to meet you.” Marc went through the rounds, but he wasn’t focused on the boy anymore. Instead, Marc stared transfixed as the next woman in line, a middle-aged Black woman with a short bob of shoulder-length grey hair, wearing a black dress with grey and blue accents. His stomach dropped as he finished up with the kid in camo, turning to the woman in front of him. “Jenna,” he said, coming out as little more than a breath. He stood up from his chair. “Why are you here?” “Trust me,” she said with her lips pursed. “I didn’t want to come just as much as you probably don’t want to see me. Something came up.” Marc stared at her, not saying anything. “Richards’ sentence is up,” Jenna muttered coldly. “I was hoping he’d changed, but he’s on a bus straight to New Coast. I just wanted to warn you and your team, knowing what he’s capable of.” “Yes, of course,” Marc said as his former wife left the line. He turned to her and called out as she walked away. “Hey, hey, you have a fantastic rest of your life, whatever you’re doing.” She didn’t respond. Marc turned to the next guest, his mind not fully there. As his experience with Jenna faded from his mind, he realized that something much worse was about to happen, and he had to warn the team about it. ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ “Okay,” Curtis said, his back against the wall of Room 103. The members of Coastguard were gathered in their costumes, having come back from the meet-and-greet minutes earlier. “A quick recap on the Phosphorus situation for Courtney: We’ve been able to take out some street-level guys who were peddling narcotics, but none of them claimed they had ever seen the man’s face. He apparently keeps very little company; only those he trusts ever see who he truly is.” “By the way,” Anissa said, “Congrats to Courtney for the awesome work she’s done in Opal City! We’re starting to see headlines roll in, and it’s very impressive.” Immediately, everyone in the room around them began to clap and cheer, turning to Courtney who was sitting in her new red-and-green costume. Courtney looked between her teammates and smiled. “Thanks guys,” she said. “It means a lot.” She turned to Curtis, her expression turning more serious. “Anything on ThirteenthFloor? That seemed like a really big deal when I left, but no mention of it so far.” Curtis nodded. “Yeah, yeah, that’s a thing. Helga and I are working on reverse-engineering the tech in the buildings, but no results yet. Anyone else have pressing concerns?” Helga raised her hand. “As you may recall,” she began, “Acrata managed to escape from New Coast after arrest. I recently received word that she may be returning to the city, planning something big. If you spot her, do not be light when apprehending her, and bring her to me as soon as you can.” “Dammit,” Dan said. “I was hoping I’d never have to see her again. That fight kept me sore for days. We’ll be on the lookout if she returns.” “Anything else?” Curtis asked. Marc removed his mask and raised his hand slowly. “Yes,” he said meekly. “Unfortunately, there’s… someone else has shown up here. An old enemy. Curtis, bring up records for Mark Richards, also known as the Tattooed Man.” Curtis turned to a nearby monitor and began searching the web. He pulled out a mugshot of a tall, bald man with a tattoo of a dragon coiled around the top of his head. On the side of one of his cheeks was another tattoo, a small piece that resembled a rose with a thorny stem. “This your guy?” “Yes,” Marc said. He stood up and took a deep breath, addressing his teammates. “A long time ago, I lived in a small town in Maryland called Liberty Hill. Standard small-town fare; most of the criminals were just normal people who had a bad run. This man was different. He showed up, and within months he had killed any gang members who didn’t work for him. With every man he murdered, he got a new tattoo, and these weren’t ordinary tattoos. They gave him powers, and every time I fought him he had a new trick up his sleeve.” He sighed and paused before continuing. “I became obsessed with him. It was unhealthy, and it cost me my marriage. Finally, 15 years ago, I caught him. He served his time, and now it seems like he’s come back for revenge. I'd like to humbly request your help in finding him and making sure he doesn't cause further harm. Mark Richards is incredibly dangerous, and we need to treat any encounter we have with him with utmost caution. He will kill us if we don’t.” The room fell silent for a few seconds before Curtis broke the silence. “Okay,” he said. “The Tattooed Man, Public Enemy Number One. Don’t worry, Marc; we will make sure that we stop him before he can hurt us.” ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ Mark Richards knocked on the door of a townhouse in what looked like any other upscale neighborhood. This development was designed by one of Josiah Power’s friends, he had remembered, but it had never seen use as the designer’s company went down for fraud several months ago. Even though it looked like an ordinary housing development, a far cry from the tourist trap in New Coast’s city center, it was also the home of many of New Coast’s more sinister elements. With the development never having been in use, it was the perfect place for shadowy figures to hide in such a bright city. The skull on Mark’s forearm sensed some sort of danger. Mark willed it to be quiet as a young woman, tall and lanky with blonde hair and blue accents, opened the door. She seemed to have a lot of tattoos herself. “Wow,” she said, staring at him up and down. “I’m going to need the name of your inker. That is some good art.” “I’ve had a lot of inkers,” Mark chuckled. “My first tattoo was from a slave-driver in Moldora. The second one was from a serial killer. I tend to get them from the worst of the worst, and it pays off.” “Ooh, nice,” she said. “I take it you’re here to see the big man? I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. You should hope so, at least.” Mark nodded. “I believe we already had an appointment scheduled.” “You are correct,” she laughed. “He's been talking about you all day.” Mark walked into the house and down the corridor to a room at the end. If an ordinary homeowner lived here, the room he entered would probably be furnished as a dining room, possibly as a playroom for their children. However, the New Coast crime lord that lived here had turned the room into a sort of makeshift casino; slot machines padded the sides of the walls while a poker table served as the room’s centerpiece. In the far corner were two couches, on one of which sat the man Mark presumed to be Phosphorus. He looked young and arrogant at first glance, reminding Mark of a cocky kid who thought he could run a business back in Liberty Hill, but who would always fall to Mark in the end. The heart tattoo on the left side of Mark’s chest came from him; his sins were driven by his heart rather than his brain, and that’s why Mark had defeated him. It was a fitting tattoo to remember him by. The major difference between Phosphorus and that kid was abundantly clear, though. Phosphorus wore an unbuttoned white jacket with no shirt; across his chest and extending down his left arm, his skin glowed a brilliant red-orange. Underneath the glow, Mark could see his ribcage, lit up by the man’s special ability. “Heh, on time I see,” Phosphorus chuckled. “I knew I could count on you.” Mark took a seat on the couch across from the crime lord. “Of course,” he said. “This business is always about impressions, and I’ve come to know that that means dependability as well as fear. Meet your opponents first, before you destroy them. And I believe that in a couple of months, I may have to destroy you.” “So it’s true then,” Phosphorus said. “You’re gonna hang around a while? That’s unfortunate. Oh well.” “Nice to meet you. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve been told that’s not really a good idea.” Mark stretched out on the couch, throwing his arms behind his back. “So you’re the Phosphorus, huh? I expected someone a little older to have been behind the work you’ve done. It’s impressive.” “Call me Alec,” Phosphorus said. He paused for a second. “I’m old enough. Besides, I’ve got a damn good reason why I’m doing this. Pardon the wordplay, but it’s a fire in my heart, so to speak, y’know? A drive.” Before Mark could respond, Alec’s breathing started tensing up. He turned his head to the doorway of the room. “Melanie! Food!” he shouted. The blonde woman from before quickly came over with a man in a suit, tied up and restrained. She dropped him at Alec’s feet before leaving, not saying a single word. The man’s expression turned frantic. “No, wait, please. Do anything. Ta--take my kids, instead. My wife. I can help you!” He was quickly shut up by Alec’s searing-hot left hand on his mouth, as the man quickly vaporized into thin air. Only a skeleton remained of where he was once standing. “Wow,” Mark said, shaking his head. “That is impressive, I have to say. Not exactly a good dude there, either. Guess you know how to pick ‘em.” “Yeah,” Alec laughed. “I only eat the rich types, people who have no spine or soul. That, and people who disappoint me, of course.” Alec paused for a second. “You know, I never wanted to be a criminal. I started this because I had to; if I don’t feed, I’ll die, and feeding ain’t exactly something you want to do in the open. But now? I’d say it feels pretty good. Not perfect, y’know? But it’s getting there.” Mark nodded. “I get it, I really do. You know, you and I have the same power, so to speak.” Alec gave him a confused look. Mark cleared his throat. “I was on deployment in Moldora several years ago. I was a young soldier, about your age, and I had just killed a few men for the first time. Every day, their voices screamed in my head. So we were taking down this horrible waste of a human being; he had enslaved thousands of men, women and children to work for the worst kind of people. And the night before the raid, I asked him how he did it. That man showed me the art of sin-grafting; for every sin he committed, he added just a bit more ink to his body. He kept the memories of those he killed in the tattoos. Well, I thought it was bullshit, but then he tattooed this dragon onto me.” He pointed at his first and favorite tattoo, the dragon that coiled around his bald head. “From that day on, whenever I kill someone, I tattoo myself with something to remind me of them. And I always use this special ink, which gives the tattoo life. Power. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it damn near worth it. Now you, you have to kill people to live. I dunno how you got into that predicament, but you realized the same thing I did. If you get power from your sins, then it’s more than worth committing them, don’tcha think?” Alec’s expression soured. “I think you’re fucking wrong about me,” he said. He stood up, towering over Mark. The skull on his shoulder sensed that he was in an incredible amount of danger. Mark said nothing; he wanted to see where this would go. “I’m not a monster,” Alec huffed. “I was a good kid who wanted to do the right thing, and this bitch made me into who I am now. And my father just lets her stay by his side. He doesn’t notice shit. He doesn’t realize who that woman is. And so I’m here to fucking destroy the city he’s created, to burn it down to the bedrock on which it stands.” Mark raised an eyebrow. “Your father is Josiah Power? I see it. I think you’ll realize you’re a lot more like him than you imagine.” Alec lunged at Mark, nearly putting a hand on him. Acting quickly, Mark summoned the dragon from the tattoo on his head. Immediately, the ink turned into a violet energy construct of a serpent, lunging forward at Alec and releasing a sonic blast. Alec flew across the room, landing among the slot machines on the other wall. “See, you’ve got this terrifying power,” Mark chided. “But I got so many years on you it’s hard to imagine. That, Alec, is why I will take this city.” Alec writhed in pain as Mark stood over him and left. This was not the pain he felt when he hadn’t fed in a while, nor was it the pain he felt from Mark knocking him into the wall. No, this was omnipresent, coating every nerve of his body like it did when he was hungry, but ten times stronger. He cried out, bringing himself to his feet and stumbling out the door of the room. He had someone he needed to see. ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ “Help,” Alec gulped, grabbing Helga’s wrist in the hallway of the New Coast Polynesia Resort. He was wearing gloves, of course; he couldn’t let anyone else know about his abilities. Nearly collapsing, Alec straightened himself using Helga’s body as a support. “Alec,” Helga said, faking a smile. “You know, you are the last person I expected to see today. I have to say, I am very impressed with what you’ve managed to accomplish with your abilities. Seems like they’re treating you better than I had expected.” She paused for a second, looking around for bystanders. There were none. “Come into Room 104 with me, and we can talk. I don’t want to have to do to any others what I did to you.” The two of them walked further down the hall, entering Helga’s personal lab as Helga closed the door behind him. It was just as pristine, Alec thought, as the one Helga had imprisoned him in, although it was considerably smaller. Alec had only seen the inside of this lab from the small glimpse he had gotten when he had asked Helga to help save the day. The worst mistake of his life, Alec thought. He cared about his father for one moment, wanted to help save his life, and it cost him gravely. “I take it you have questions about your newfound powers?” Helga turned to the door and latched it shut. “Don’t worry; I’ve soundproofed the room much better since our last encounter. I could yell at the top of my lungs that you were Phosphorus, and Curtis in the next room wouldn’t do so much as to look up from his computer.” Alec nodded. “You said that this power would kill me. Everything’s starting to hurt like a bitch; I fed on my way here and it didn’t help. I need answers.” “Well,” Helga said, “I wish I could give you all the answers you need. Primer is a very imprecise science, and it reacts differently for every person that it works on. That being said, none of the powers triggered by your specific primer have killed anyone in less than 6 months. Trust me when I say I’ve done extensive research on this one.” Alec winced. He imagined Helga Jace, the kind hearted TV personality dedicated to treating people with metahuman conditions, giving hundreds of people the same treatment he had. It made so little sense, but with what he had seen of Helga in the past few months, it still fit perfectly. Helga continued as Alec sat himself down on a nearby hospital bed draped in thin paper. “That being said, any sort of pain you might experience is par for the course, and none of it is a sign of your impending death. Most of it will make you want to die, but you’ll be fine for several more months at least. Now, unfortunately, I still have work to do that my team can’t know about, so curing you would not benefit me. But so far, you’ve been exemplary in your discretion about these matters. Not to mention the immense distraction you’re providing for them; they barely have time to think about anything I’m doing.” Alec nodded. He resisted attacking Helga outright, as he knew she was his only chance at salvation. That did not mean that he wasn’t ready to do so. Instead, he looked her in the eyes and weakly spoke. “Will this new pain go away?” “Hard to tell. I could help run some tests, but as hard as it may seem to imagine, I don’t know everything about every power that comes my way. Most likely, though, there will be high points and low points, as there are with every disease. I can tell from your demeanor, for example, that you’re feeling significantly less pain than when you literally grabbed me, even if it doesn’t feel that way. By the way, don’t scare an old lady like that, especially with your specific ability.” Helga chuckled wildly. Alec felt sick to his stomach, even though these past few months had hardened him. This, he thought, was what true monsters looked like. “Fine,” Alec said, standing up. “You know what? I don’t need any more help. I got money, I got power, I got ladies, and it’s all because of your experiment. When the power does start to kill me, I’ll be here. But until then, I’m not coming through this door again.” Alec left Room 104 and began to leave the hotel. Helga was right; as he got up, the pain had begun to fade. After a few seconds, it had all but disappeared for the time being. He got to the lobby, where he immediately noticed a new complication. Josiah Power, his father, was standing over the desk, talking to the receptionist. Before he could turn the other way, he saw Alec standing there. He fell silent, his gaze softening. “Alec,” he muttered, coming closer. “I thought… I thought you left the city.” The rage that Alec felt that first night in the hotel began to bubble up again, but he kept it down. “Hey, Dad. Yeah, I was gone for a while, but I’m… I couldn’t leave.” He paused, considering his next words carefully. “I think I’m ready to talk to you again.” “That’s fantastic,” Josiah smiled. “Take your time; you don’t owe me anything. But if you want, maybe we could get dinner sometime?” Alec nodded. “I think I’d like that.” It was a lie, he told himself; he had to come up with something on the spot. But it worked in his favor; if he had a relationship with his father again, the betrayal would be much sweeter when he got to that point. He couldn’t wait to see Josiah’s face as he realized who he truly was. But that had to wait. As he left the lobby, he smiled. The pain may come back, but those who deserved it would also feel his pain in due time. ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ ”Alright,” Curtis said through his microphone. ”We’ve spotted the Tattooed Man in Kim’s area. Anyone currently in the field, converge on 44th Street and H. We need to take him down sooner than later.” “Got it,” Ray said, hovering high above Josiah’s central shopping district in New Coast before taking off due west. Below him, Thunder, Blue Devil and Commander Steel patrolled the streets; each of them began to make their way to the location in question through a series of Dan’s portals. As he arrived on location, Ray began to take in the sites around him. The area of the city that one of Josiah’s associates, Terrence Kim, developed felt much more like a normal city than a theme park. That said, it still felt like a theme park, if only because of how sleek and untouched the buildings were. Towering white-and-blue skyscrapers surrounded the wide streets of this area, with tropical foliage in planter boxes along the sidewalks. Palm trees dotted the curbsides, which featured parking spaces where the cars would face the curb. What took Ray by surprise the most, however, was how empty this part was. Not all of Kim’s territory was available to the public yet; only the bare minimum was completed. Ray landed on the street as Dan, Anissa and Marc portalled in behind him. Several blocks ahead of them, the Tattooed Man was smoking a cigar. He quickly noticed them and put it out before turning to them. The Tattooed Man let out a hearty chuckle as he took a few steps forward. “Well, well, well. You finally found me. Hey Marc, how’s the missus doing? You know, I could tell that she was stalking me when I got out. I served my time, why do I need to get harassed for what I’ve already done?” “Seems like it was well worth it,” Commander Steel said. “Considering where you ended up, Mark, you can’t take the high ground here..” “This small talk was never my favorite part. Let’s get this over with.” Two violet wings of energy sprouted from the Tattooed Man’s back, allowing him to tower over the other heroes. Ray immediately met him in the sky. From a sword tattoo on his left arm, he summoned a blade of energy that he immediately gripped with both hands before charging at Ray. Ray dodged the Tattooed Man’s first attack, responding with a barrage of light blasts. From the ground, Commander Steel fired his own bolts of energy from the wrist-cannons Helga had designed for him. The sword dissolved and was replaced by a shield that grew from a small tattoo on the back of the criminal’s left hand. For several seconds, the Tattooed Man sustained the heroes’ continuous fire, but it was interrupted when the Blue Devil portalled onto the shield and began punching at it over and over again. The Tattooed Man dissolved the shield and dived out of the way, flying higher to avoid further attacks. Ray chased after him and Dan portalled himself back onto the ground. “Now this, this is fun,” the villain chuckled to himself. “Marc, why couldn’t you learn to fly, or build some glider or something? Sky battles are awesome!” The dragon on the top of the Tattooed Man’s head came loose, chasing after Ray. He fired out a concentrated beam of light while flying away, but the dragon kept going. Before he could stop it, the dragon screamed, letting loose a powerful high-pitched sound, and Ray fell to the floor. The Tattooed Man landed on the ground, his wings dissolving as he stood over the fallen hero. “Now this will be a fun one to ink. I wonder, how should I remember you by? I’d do a lightbulb, but I don’t think you’re that bright to begin with.” A bolt of energy from Marc’s cannon stopped the villain from finishing Ray off, hitting his right shoulder and making him turn to the other heroes. Thunder leapt up onto the side of a nearby high-rise, tackling the criminal from behind as he was distracted. She began to force a pair of handcuffs onto him, but the Tattooed Man quickly summoned his wings again, knocking Thunder down as he turned to the skies. The lightning tattoo on the villain’s right arm began to let out a violet glow. From the skies, he fired powerful beams of lightning. The first hit Anissa, knocking her down; the second and third were fired at Commander Steel. A metal shield expanded from the hero’s own right arm, protecting him. As the Tattooed Man flew down, a portal from the Blue Devil intercepted him and brought him face-to-face with the two heroes left standing. The Tattooed Man readied another bolt, knocking Dan clean out. “Now,” he chided, “it’s just the two of us. Like old times, isn’t it?” He resummoned the sword and began exchanging blows with the soldier. Commander Steel quickly discharged another energy blast, which knocked the Tattooed Man a few steps backwards as he began to charge up another lightning bolt. He stopped. The skull tattoo on his shoulder began to sense another presence nearby. From above, another hero flew down, clad in a pristine silver costume with glowing accents. In the center was the letter “T” in a circle, clearly the symbol of the hero Mister Terrific. He glided on what looked like two green glowing disks that appeared to be made of pure energy. He looked down at some sort of holographic console emanating from his wrist. The Tattooed Man quickly recognized that this must be the Blue Devil’s associate, the one who once worked for Mister Terrific. The villain was used to recognizing Commander Steel’s body language, even behind that mask of his, and he knew that his enemy was just as surprised as he was. The new hero’s drones quickly surrounded the Tattooed Man, opening fire with green laser-blasts all around him. The Tattooed Man couldn’t take it, and quickly fell unconscious himself. ”Hey,” Curtis said as he flew down. ”I noticed you needed help.” ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ “So, wait,” Ray began to say as the heroes converged in Room 103. Helga had just finished performing medical care on the three members of Coastguard who were knocked out during the battle, and they were now calling a meeting to discuss what had happened. “You’re--you’re a hero now? When?” Curtis nodded. “Not always; I’ll be on comms for a lot of the time. But when you guys need it, Helga and I developed this suit. I’ll be calling myself the Technocrat.” “Cool,” Ray said. He poked at the Technocrat suit, which was standing up in the corner of the room, connected to a charger. “I’d have to disagree,” Anissa said. “Curtis, you’re incredibly important to us. We can’t risk something happening to you.” Curtis nodded. “Well, unfortunately, it’s not really your choice. I’ll make extra sure to choose my battles; don’t worry. But it’s important to me that you are all safe. The Tattooed Man would’ve killed all of you if I hadn’t come out there. And with Courtney in Opal half the time and Cisco… you know… we need more hands on deck.” “He would’ve killed you, too, if he had known you were coming,” Anissa remarked. “And now, everyone who comes to New Coast will know about you. Nothing’s changed; you just had the element of surprise this time.” Dan, who was sitting in the corner, finally spoke up. “Look,” he said. “I get why you’re worried, Anissa, I really do. I’m worried, too; like, really terrified outta my mind that my friend’s gonna get hurt doing this. But if there’s someone who can pull off this stuff, it’s Curtis. I wouldn’t try and stop him, either; he’s a very stubborn man.” “Alright,” Anissa huffed. “But I’m not gonna like it.” “The only question,” Marc laughed, “is what flavor of ice cream he’s gonna be. I can’t think of any grey ice-creams.” “That’s for Josiah to figure out,” Curtis smiled. “If I had to pick? Probably mint chocolate-chip. All of your weird fruit flavors are upsetting to the palate.” Everyone laughed around them, except for Anissa. It still didn’t feel right for Curtis to be going out there, and she knew that feeling wouldn’t change. But they were right; she had to deal with it. ≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈ Mark Richards woke up. His surroundings didn’t feel familiar, but they clearly weren’t any sort of prison. The building he found himself in was some sort of makeshift cabin made of wood. He was tied to a wooden chair on a grass floor. He looked at the ceiling; above him, the panels of wood were ornately painted in patterns of green and silver. “Where am I?” he asked, dazed. A man walked over to him in a red-and-brown robe. Draped over him was a green cape decorated with one glowing red gemstone on it. The first thing Mark noticed about his face was his two piercing green eyes, which seemed to see into his soul. “Greetings, Mark,” the man said. “I know you have many questions, but trust me when I say I am not an enemy.” Mark chuckled dryly. “When I’m tied to a chair like this, that’s usually hard to imagine.” “We both know that those bindings would not hold you if you did not want them to,” the man said in a monotone voice. “We simply had to restrain you, as you tended to flail around when unconscious.” He walked over to Mark and untied the knots that kept him tied to the chair. “My name is Samuel, and we have the same goals: to destroy Coastguard and to rule New Coast City. I am gathering people close to the Coastguard, people with vendettas against their members. You fit these criteria easily; another one of these people has already been clamoring to meet you.” A tall, thin man with pale skin and dark hair walked over to him. He wore a suit and tie that had clearly been hastily put on. Mark stood up and shook his hand. “Hi,” he smiled, speaking in a nasal voice. “Michael Clarion, occultist extraordinaire. Pleased to meet you. I also just got out of prison. Now, I have a lot of questions about your tattoos. They are mystical in origin, correct? I’m very interested to discuss the finer points of this with you.”
CHAPTER 6 Astrapian City SpenceSpecter Journal: Entry - ??? It's been days and weeks since the Castle of the Valkyrie Queen crashed into the surface of the earth. Mostly I don't know where the heck are we... However I’m back to the Clan... There is no place like Home... I never thought that this place can look so good. The Specter Clan did a fantastic job in making it secure.
Specter says "Darkcrow, can you walk now?" "Well... With the Mechanic's help, I can walk, but it's going to take awhile before my leg is healed completely." He replied Spencer sits on his bed and think about what can he do.
Melody interview with my Clanmates, How did she found Specter also known as Me the Legendary Demon-Hunter. One of the elf girl said "OMG! HOW DID YOU FOUND THE REAL SPECTER BLACKWING" and she continued ask questions for an extended period of time. Melody said "Did you know about Me and Specter? I'm his Girlfriend." The Elf Girl said "OMG! Me and my friend have been waiting for this day for years! We've been Specter fans from the beginning! Sooooo... You guys are together now?" Melody replied "Well maybe... I do love Specter, He so cool and edgy..." The Elf Girl said "AHHHH, She's soooo Lucky to have him!" and they decided to scream in romantic excitements Melody blushed and stopped the rest of her reply. Roger legs has fixed and he gone to trained outside in the clan with the clan mechanics. The clan mechanics added some new features of weapon in his robotic hand. Also the clan warriors added some new features of armor on his robotic body. After the upgrades, Roger is ready for combat for future missions. The Clan Warrior said "This is the new metal coats for your new body, It can protect you from Corrosion and Bullets!” Roger will be a great robot warrior for the Specter Clan! Lily, well she is now awake and has a interview with the knights on the other kingdom about the crash of the Castle of the Queen Valkyrie. She also has a chat with the Mechanic's of the Elf Clan about her motor skills. Spencer said "Yeah, well it's good that she enjoy herself and not think about the sad stuff." Victor, on the other hand, he kinda problem in his past-life as a Gambler. He can't stop thinking about it, he even tried to get the Specter help him to get cured, but they couldn't help. Victor is a total greed loving Magi-Caster and I liked him... But his problem, is he attached on a past life. What is he hiding? The next day after training and having fun, the Clans resume their meeting.
Specter says "Axelegore kill my partner Lurk and I have to avenge him for good. But i need the 7 orbs to combine into "The Elemental Orb" "The Elemental orb is a powerful magic artifact. It was used by the 6 knights of Lairon, but the creation of the Elemental orb is Unknown..." Specter explained the story Specter says "Gizmo, The Small Chimera Furry who the former of the Axelegore Orders and has reveal the story of Axelegore Plan and the 6 knights but he died due to the battle with Cupiditas in The Castle of the Valkyrie Queen..." Gizmo is the Chimera Furry with a chip on his shoulder, but he has a bit of a hero complex. I can relate to that. Specter says "We got the 5 orbs and the next one is the Electric Orb." The Mechanic's look at the 5 orbs and then to Specter. "We can make a Orb." One of the Mechanic's Replied. Specter says "You can't unless you got them all 12 of them..." One of the Mechanic's look at each other and said "What, do we do?" "Well... We got the 5 orbs correct?" "Correct! Specter says "Victor, did you seen the Electric Orb before?" "Yes, I saw it in the treasury before all of this chaos broke loose." Victor said with regret. "We have to get it back then."
Victor said "Mostly the Electric Orb was on Astrapian City, The most futuristic city with full of Money and Violence. It was found by the mayor for some unknown reasons. "It's know for power the entire city." "Do you remember where?" "Yes, It was in the Empire Astrapia State Building." "Can we get it?" Victor said "It's a risky try..." "We have to take down the entire state security force with all the Mercenaries and military there to defend it.” Victor said "The mayor is worked for Axelegore, His name is unknown but the people called him The Black Dragon"
Specter says "Black Dragon, Is that the 4th orders?" "Yes they are, they were created recently. but yeah, that person is very dangerous.
List of Axelegore Orders The Sky Crasher Leader: Gruz "They are the one, Sky Pirates who try to fly by shooting and cast magic to destroy all of the traveling ship and make them to banned traveling with airship all over the world and make their home." The Dark Mechanicus Leader: Cogwheel "They are the ones who have all invented the really big and dangerous machine for the warfare and combat that does most of what the Dark Mechanicus does. The Phantom Cultist Leader: Light "They are the ones who use their magic to battle and cast through the battlefield. They are the magical and powerful of all the orders. The Black Dragon Leader: The Black Dragon. "This is the most unknown order, they are invisible to everyone except other members and seem to only be used as assassins by the other orders."
Specter says "They are one tough Orders..." "We can try but the attempt is most dangerous and failed to do this." Darkcrow said. Victor said "We are ready to go then, let's head to the city." Specter says "Right, we got a world to save!" Victor and you all head to the city and begin your attempt to save the world.
The Astrapian City is a miles away from my Clanhouse and my Village but it's a very long walk to prepare for the Electric Orb... I packed up some food as well as the Orbs also my old dagger and my ropes...
Specter says "Where can i use the ropes for?" The ropes are for climbing big and small rocks. so, you can try climbing some nearby rocks. You find a few rocks you can climb near your current location. Specter says "Well, i have to use the ropes or the dagger later until we headed to Astrapian City..." You begin to climb the rocks while packing the Orbs in your pack. While climbing, you accidentally drop one of the Orbs.
Victor grab and said "I got it!" and after a quick examination of the Orb, he said "Yes, it's still good!" You all continue to climb rocks until one of the rocks you are climbing is slightly wet. After you climb a thousands steps. You see a great view and found Astrapian City. "Woah..." he whisper. "We have to be very careful now, we are in their lands and they may have powerful fighters." Victor says.
Specter says "You got it!" Victor says "Right then, let's start heading to the city and quietly drop our pace until we find a good place to sleep." You all continue your journey to Astrapian City.
Astrapian City A cyberpunk world where everyone is a gambler, perverts, hackers, creepers and rogue. "Everything is illegal is legal" is their motto! Interesting Fun Fact! Astrapian City has the highest crime rate in Lairon Region! (Surprised?) The buildings are tall and the streets are very wide. There is a large park area in the center of the city. The city is ruled by a The Black Dragon and his council of advisors.
Specter says "What a bunch of rogue..." Just a bunch of gamblers and perverts though. We should ask for a job at the gambling hall... Well, looks like we are already in a lot of trouble.
Victor said "Those guys can break a skull on you for good!" which scared you a bit. You all go into a dark alley way to rest for the night. Roger sleeps while standing up and Victor get a little too close to your personal space before going to sleep.
Specter says "This is kinda creepy place..." The three of you look around and see if there is any potential danger. "Yeah, this place is creepy..." Victor says in a low voice. You all feel your weapons ready just in case.
Well it's just a drunk guy who drank a lot of beer... and passed out. Still, might be best to keep an eye on him. The Six all proceed to sleep and wait for midnight to start to find the Electric Orb.
Specter wake up and their items got stolen! They all wake up at the same time and check your stuff.
To his surprise, his weapons are gone. He look at Victor, he's still asleep, he whisper to him that his weapons are missing.
Specter says "Damnit! Victor wake up our stuff is gone!" Victor slowly wake up and feel his stuff. "Hmm, my things are gone too..." "Well I guess we might as well get up..." Specter says "Where the thief at!" You all notice the drunk guy sleeping at the end of the alley. You wonder if he is the one who took your stuff.
Then you wonder if killing him is going to make things worse for you.
Specter says "Hey, you drunk head! Where our stuff!" The drunk guy wakes up and immediately realizes something is wrong. You all wonder if it would be better to wait for him to pass out again. However, he starts running in your direction. Specter says "Hey, that the Thief! Get him!" You all quickly begin chasing the guy. You try to grab his leg, however he eludes your grasp. By now other people have seen the commotion and are also taking an interest. Specter says "Where the orbs and our stuff!" The Drunk guy starts running in random directions trying to get away from you all. The drunkard runs into a dead end alley and the Specters and you all wonder what to do next. Specter says "I tell you one last time! Where is our stuff!" Victor then says something that surprises you all. "We might as well let him go and get our stuff back, he is just a little drunk right now..."
The drunk guy return the weapons and the orb back to Specter and run away from him And Specter said "God! I hate this city!" So, the thief was not punished, but you are all satisfied that he will not do it again. But you realize there something over the dead end alley wall. It's the Empire Astrapia State Building! Making you all think... "Hey, I thought that...!" Victor says something that surprises you all. The Empire Astarpia State Building One of the Tallest Building in Astarpian City. It's also the Tallest Building in Entire Lairon Region with over 150th floors and powered and controlled by the Electric Orb with 1,000,000 gigavolts per years! It was named Astrapia State Building by Victor as a joke for the Mayor.
Specter says "That's the Empire Astrapia State Building, or should i called E.A.S.B" "So Victor, what are you going to do with the Empire Astrapia State Building?" "I'm going to make a profit of course!" "Wait but isn't it illegal to use?
Victor said "Have you read the motto of Astarpian City?" "No?" "It's Everything is illegal is legal!" Victor then said "If you know what you are doing, it's perfectly legal to use.
Specter says "What kind of motto is that..." "Indeed." "How stupid can the government of this city get? (Sigh) Well, we can come back for the Building later, I guess. “Are you questioning my intelligence?" "No, but I’m asking you a question. Darkcrow can't stand up yet. but he found a way to enter the Empire Astrapia State Building. There two girls employees are entering the dressing room at the back door. And he saw one of the mafia with a VIP pass entering the E.A.S.B entrance door. Specter says "Darkcrow, What's your plan?" "Plan? I don't have a plan, yet." "Just wait, maybe the best way is to..." Melody and Lily interrupts Darkcrow plan. Darkcrow said "Geez! What you doing here..." They both replies at the same time "Specter's orders!" Lily said. "We're here to escort you to the Empire Astrapia State Building! Melody said. Darkcrow complain. "Specter!" Specter says "Well.. I don't even know... because I like some girls escort our team..."
Darkcrow punched Specter in a shoulder. "Ow! Why you punch me for?" "I don't know... I’m just pissed at something right now!" Darkcrow secretly doesn't want the girls joining his team mission. One of the gang at outside at the entrance of the E.A.S.B said to the gambler who want to gamble in E.A.S.B "Hey man, Give me your money or we'll beat you up!" Gang beat the Gambler to his death and drop his VIP pass. "What the?" Victor said when he saw the crime. "Well, it's obvious now that this is a perfect place to steal some stuff!" Specter said.
Specter steal the VIP pass.
"Alright team, we need to get out this stinky alley and find the Electric Orb!" Victor nods. You all take a good look outside the Empire Astrapia State Building. But the guards blocking you and said "May i see your pass, please?
Specter present his VIP pass.
You and the rest of your team pass the guards while they say "Wow! You're really lucky, man! Welcome to the Empire Astrapia State Building!" Empire Astrapia State Building A huge skyscraper. While you're on the 40th floor, you can see the nice views of Astarpian City. This means that there should be some spare items around here somewhere.
Specter says "We need to register a room to rest up for the plan."
And you're all surprised to see that this city has a hotel on top of the sky city. Of course, it's the Empire Hotel Astarpia State Building. The hotel room has a very luxury bedroom, kitchen, and a very large living room. A butler awaits your orders and ready to serve you at all times. You can make people think you're really rich by just telling them your name is Master Specter. The butler announced the Black Dragon has a ceremony at E.A.S.B event hall. Tonight at 12:00 AM "Be there or we'll kill you!" "You bet, boys!" Victor said. You nod at each other. "Go get some rest of the guys, we're heading to the ceremony." Specter ask. "Yes, Master Specter." The butler leave your hotel room.
Specter says "Geez! What we gonna do to get the Electric Orb!"
Victor says "I don't know." Spencer thinks for a moment. Roger says "Does anyone remember where the location of the location was? Victor said "Basically it's on the top to the tower." Spencer stands up "Let's get to the 100th floor!"
Specter says "But, how we gonna get the Electric Orb without getting caught by Black Dragon and his guards"
Specter hears and saw in the peephole. About those Bunny-Suit waitress talking in the hallway about The Black Dragon Identity. The one waitress said "Did you know that he is working with Axelegore. That's why we should sit next to the VIP area in the event hall." Another waitress replies "Well, I heard he is the head of the Black Dragon Order.”
Specter says "Melody, Lily. I think you gotta need a distraction as the Bunny Girls Waitress at The Black Dragon."
"Haha, good idea!" Victor laughs. Spencer says "Victor, let's use your trick card to open the control room."
Specter says "Darkcrow, Roger. You guys up to make money at the Casino for me."
Darkcrow said "You serious, man?" Roger said "Yeah, I'm programmed to never ever to do gambling!" Victor says "Well, you can help me at the Control Room instead." Darkcrow said "Really, this is my worst mission of my life!
Specter says "I bet you, all the money from the Casino is yours!
Darkcrow agreed with his greedy attitude "Deal!" Melody replied "Hey Specter, why do I really need to distract The Black Dragon with the Bunny Suits anyways?" Spencer says "I think the plan is, you seduce him with the bunny suit to prevent him from calling the guards, so we can get the orb from the room. also you with Lily!
Specter says "Lily, on the other hand is also has a Magi-Ability: Lilith"
Linda "Lily" Lilith Skyhound, The Demon Pilot in the Sky, Specter Ex-Girlfriend. Magi-Ability: Lilith She can turn into a lilith or a succubus and any type of class such as Knight, Wizard or Cleric anything she wants! According to her beautiful and seductive dress of the entire female class! She can take the job of a magical-demon to be tricked actively by the Black Dragon, but she is not stupid and agrees with Specter. Lily said "I agreed with the plans of Specter, also if I wears the bunny suits, I can turn my class Pilot into Magician! " Spencer: "Yes, I think you can do it. Lily said "Melody, are you doing this?" Melody replied "Of course :)" Lily said "Beautiful, let's get ready!" 11:55 PM before the shows started… The plan has already started at E.A.S.B. Lily and Melody are in the dressing room where they going to serve some wine to the mayor also known as The Black Dragon, Darkcrow is on his black suits and got some chips and some cheating cards to his pocket. While Specter, Roger and Victor wearing a suit and they now going to the 100th floor. The Bunny Waitress Team is on their way to the Casino as well, Specter decide not to tell them of the plan, they will probably just do the distraction. Darkcrow is on his poker table with some Mafia around him. He gulp nervously... and he got the sweat all over him and said "Oh, hello there!" The mafia has a menacing look all over him! "Do you know how to play game?" The game master asks politely. "Why yes! I got a huge game of 5D-Jacks going on right now! Come let do this!" Darkcrow says happily. Darkcrow sweating nerverously and wished "Man, i wish Roger should join me in this Casino! Meanwhile, Victor, Specter and Roger enter the control room... Spencer uses his magical powers, but no one is around, in fact the room seems deserted.
Specter says "No one here..." "It's empty!" Victor said with a creepy laugh. "Let's get the work done!" "What happens if the boss comes back?" Roger asks. Specter says "Well, we have to stay focus." Suddenly, The Electric Orb is gone!
"Where is it?" Victor asks. "I don't know, someone must have took it." Roger says.
Specter says "It's must be that Black Dragon Guy at the Event Hall!"
"We have to find it!" Victor says. "Orb's power can be accessed by anyone." Roger points out. Specter call Melody in her small microphone on her Bowtie. "Melody! Lily! The Black Dragon got the Electric Orb!” "We're in the begin in the ceremony now!" She replied. "Got it! Thanks Blueberry!" He replied. "We're on our way, we'll be there soon!" Roger said. "Huh, whoever he is, he must be a powerful and intelligent guy..." Victor mutters.
Specter end the call with Melody.
and Victor said "You called your Girlfriend, Blueberry?" "Yeah, she's a big hero around the campus..." Specter said with a cheeky smile. "Heh, well alright, I guess it's just as well that we have you along then." Meanwhile at Melody... Melody said "The Black Dragon got the Electric Orb!" "That's great!" Lily replied. "Let's get going, we have to meet The Black Dragon in the ceremony!" Melody said. "OK!" She agreed. The show announcer said "And now, the biggest guest! we like to announce..." PLEASE WELCOME! THE MAYOR OF ASTARPIA CITY AND OWNWR OF E.A.S.B! THE BLACK DRAGON! The Black Dragon has a shiny black silky tuxedo and a sharp white hair that cover his one eyes also with a black fedora and a Skull staff on his hand. He looks like Specter. "Hello Everyone! Thank you for attending my biggest event so far!" He has a microphone in his hand. Dragon said "This ceremony about my greatest city of them all and my biggest power in this city!" Then, the Dragon begin to speaks... "Now, I want you know that this event WILL be a historical moment! Axelegore, He one of my working partner with this work and this city, Our powers will rise above the world! I make this promise! Now, this isn't a speech this time, this is a question and answer session. If you don't ask me, you don't sit at the table! I HAD THIS! BABY!" he present the Electric Orb! The Crowd gasp and say "WOW!" "Now, ask me a question, and i will answer!" The Dragon said while smiling. "This Orb can powered our City to the Unlimited Powers!" That mean More Crimes, More Violence’s and More Deaths in this Death Arena for those weaklings heroes who tries to restore the Orb! Now it's your turn to be the Dragon! "Why didn't you restored the other Orbs?" A Man asked. "It's a long story..." Dragon began to tell his tale... Dragon disagree the tale "But, it's a secret!" "Don't worry about it!" He replied. "But..." The Man said. "IT'S A TRUTH, NOT A BIG DEAL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU!" He replied angrily!" "I WANT TRUTH NOW!" He yelled to him! Dragon yelled "OK, I'll reveal the truth, WHOEVER SHOOT THAT MOTHERFUCKING MAN HEAD WIN FOR A THOUSANDS BUCKS!" The man said "Wait, please no!" Then he turned to the Crowd and said "I'm sorry for my actions, I'm new at this and it was a mistake to come back here!" Dragon said "IT'S TOO LATE! EVERYONE DRAW!" Everyone shoot at the Man Head and lead him in the painful death with a thousands bullet shot through the entire body... The Black Dragon is a very powerful and dangerous man with a huge killing streak. Surprisingly, he dislikes to talk about his past. Dragon said "What a Bloodbath! Guards, Send this man corpse to the Cremation Room. Before those grubs eaten him alive. Also here some thousands bucks whoever kill that guy!" He throw the Bill towards to the Crowd! Everyone starts to grab the Bill! Dragon laughed insanely "Haha! I loved this city!" Melody was serious and said "What a dangerous man..." Suddenly, Dragon invited "Who's that pretty woman? You want to join us for some drinks?" He pointed his staff to Melody... Melody accepted, this is some kind of amazing thing... Melody said "Me?" "Yes, come sit next to me!" Dragon replied. "Really?" She replied back. "Yes, really! Don't I know you?" Dragon questioned. Melody walk down the stairs and sit with Dragon but Lily started sit with Dragon, But he said "Stop! NOT YOU!" Lily said "But..." Dragon replied "Aren't you the blue haired bunny-suit woman that I pointed to her? Lily said "Yes, I'm her partner." "Oh, you look prettier! Come sit next to me…” Dragon agreed her info! Melody and Lily were sitting next to Dragon… They talked about life as the mayor of Astarpian City and then he said. "So tell me, have you ever loved a boy before?" Melody reply with embarrassment "Wha.. What? No! Please, who would love a girl like me? Dragon said "Tell me, have you ever loved a boy before?" "Seriously?" She replied. "Serious" He replied. "No, why would I?" Melody replied again. "Tell me, have you?" Dragon replied again. "No! Melody replied. Dragon said "Well, this is your lucky day for you. Because I'm here!" The next moment, Dragon started to stare at Lily very close... Then he said "Hmmm, you're not quite pretty enough to be a succubus, but you could make an excellent-" Lily said "What?" Dragon interrupted him "I was going to say you could make an EXCELLENT PAWN ... or MEAT..." Lily ask the Crowd "WHAT?!" Meanwhile... Specter, Roger and Victor is now on the Casino and saw Darkcrow won a lot of pokers chips bets from the mafia. The mafia are well known defeated and broke! Darkcrow said "FUCK YEAH! FIFTY TIMES IN THE ROW!" He high fived the Crowd surrounding him. Roger said "Let's stake our winnings here!"
Specter says "Yo! Dark! Are you done here?" Darkcrow said "Yeah! I won 50 times in a row!" Victor and Specter got some chips from Darkcrow. "Victor, what do you think of Darkcrow's winning? Victor, disagree his winning streaks and said "Amateur! I won 100 times in this Casino!" Darkcrow look confused and said "What? You're joking!" Victor said "I swear to God! I'm the best Gambler here! Darkcrow said "OH YEAH?"
"Yeah, you're still an amateur." Victor said and walk away. Specter said "Let's stake our chips here! Dark shouted "Oh yeah! Victor, For now on, You're now my rival!" and high fived him. Victor said "Hah, you and your 50 winning-streak in the row. Enough with the High Fives! Let's play Poker right here! Right now!"
Specter says "Enough! You Greedy Rats! We're have to find Melody and Lily!" "Oh, sorry! Let's go!" Darkcrow said. They left the casino room to find Melody and Lily and Darkcrow came back to get the chips "Sorry, but the chips coming with us!" He steal the chips and put them in the loot bag!
Meanwhile... Melody and Lily trying their best to distract Dragon! "Hey you! Stop staring at my butt!" Lily said. "Oh wait, are you talking to me?" Dragon replied. "Yeah, you better stop that." she replied. "Or what?" he replied. Melody try to sneaky steal the Electric Orb... and Dragon caught her! "What are you doing?! You trying to shock me?" he said in annoyance. "NO! But you have to let us go." Melody replied. "Oh yeah, I should let you go..." Dragon said. She smiled. "NOT, IF I GIVE YOU A KISS!" Dragon laughed insanity. “No, No, No, No!” Melody tries to run for it! He ran towards her and kissed her. Suddenly, Specter saw Dragon kissing Melody in her lips... Dragon saw Specter and said "Aw... was that your Girlfriend that I kissed her in front of you?"
Specter says Rghh..." Specter stare at Dragon angrily and completely cover with red haze and aura in his body! "Should have waited until we're alone!" Dragon now knows. Melody tries to free herself from Dragon, but he is too strong! “By the way, as the mayor of the Astarpian City, She is now shall will be my QUEEN!” Dragon shouted! Specter says "YOU GET AWAY MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU FUCKING FREAK!" In his demonic voice! He dash towards Dragon and gave him a punch in the face cause his skull break and then another one, and then another one! But Dragon won't go down! He punch back, and then several of them! Specter summon the dead, demon and ghosts from out of nowhere to be his ally to protect from the Crowd! Several Ghosts and Demons started to appear around the area! More ghosts, skeletons and demon appeared to back them up! "Come on Specters! Do your thing!" Darkcrow orders. Dragon cast his mysterious Magi, and blew many specters away, including the crowd! Grim and evil spirits are powerful indeed! The crowd shoot the dead with their Tommy Gun. But no effects to the dead! The ghost slice through the crowd! The crowd died instantly! Specter cast his powerful weapon Hades Scythe! Dragon casted an spell against him, but Specter block the attack! Then, he used his weapon, Hades Scythe to cut Dragon's arm! It was bleeding! The battle now begin to heating up! Dragon said "Damnit! Where that Rogue come from!" Then, in a flash of light, Dragon see a man standing there holding a very large scythe! He was tall, with dark shadow aura and long red hair! Specter says "Dragon, You're souls is mine... AND I WON’T FORGIVE YOU!!!" He swing his scythe and Dragon casted his own Magi against him, but the Specter easily blocked the attack! "Let's make one thing clear, before I kill you!" Specter ignore his orders and attack his wrath! “IT’S TOO LATE, TO PAY YOUR CONSEQUENCE!” He attacked him, with several ghosts, skeletons, and demons supporting him! Dragon casted some sort of shield against Specter attack! The clash of the powerful auras shock both fighters and their minions!
Suddenly, Dragon cast Nova! Nova appears to be a powerful explosion of light and sound! He can barely hear anything, but he see everything! Demons, Specters and even some ghosts blown away instantly! “NGAHHHHH! DRAGOOOOON!” Specter shouted! Dragon is retreating with his cutted right arm and left the Electric Orb behind. Dragon run for his life and got collapse on the ground and Suddenly, the mysterious pirate grab him and take him to the familiar ship. Dragon said "Thanks for saving me, Gruz..." Gruz reply "No problem, but I think it's time we stop this little fight. The other group is ready to retreat this rogue wrath." "Hmm, let me just finish this fight, and then we can attack together!" Dragon replied Gruz said "I'm afraid, you can't do that! Step on it, Sizzling Sisters! We have to retreat!" The Sky Crasher ship retreat to the another place instead of the E.A.S.B. Meanwhile... Melody and her teams trying to stop Specter wrath, Specter walking down the hallway to the exit to find Dragon! Melody said "Specter! Just listen to me!" But he's not listening to anyone. He's too focused on killing Dragon cowering at the Sky Crasher ship. Melody said "Come on! Specter! Just listen to me!" She grab him and kiss him!
Specter heart is filled with love... He calmed down the Wrath... The shadows aura began to fade away.. Specter return to his former self... Melody take back her right hand away from him and just stood there awkwardly "Uh... Just let me come with you..." He said sadly. She said "Sorry Specter." Specter says "Melody..." She turn around and she run away. She left him standing alone.
Meanwhile in Dragon... Gruz said "Dragon, I can't believe that Specter Boy, destroyed your headquarter!" Dragon said "Heh! I know..." Gruz said "I take it you want revenge?" Dragon said "Of course..." Gruz nods and hands over a small black orb. Gruz, The Captain of the Sky Crasher Magi-Ability: Chaos The Black Dragon, Leader of the Black Dragon Magi-Ability: Omega Gruz: He can cast every Dark Magi from every Dark Magi-User. Dragon: While Dragon on the Other Hands. He has the power to cast every Magi whatever he likes! Gruz: Well, Axelegore is on Death Island with the Entire Orders also aren't you wanna stay with your crew at Death Island first, It's for resting for the battle you and that Specter Boy? Dragon: Yes, fly your ship to Death Island. Gruz: WELL THEN, OF WE GO TO DEATH ISLAND! END OF CHAPTER 6 You have reached to Chapter 6
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OC Tournament #5 - Round 1, Match 2: Peter VS Markus
Well, the last match was a deathmatch, but this second one is what is known as an objective match. This, for the uninitiated, means that the match’s main point isn’t, necessarily, who would win in a fight, but to complete a certain specific mission better than the opponent. At the time of this match going up, though, after the strats for this one are posted, though, you can still vote in match 1 for over a full day. Check out (and influence) the brawl between a man and a bird in an airport hangar! Scenario: Waterfront District - One of Many Fish Markets Morning “What do you mean you don’t have anything?” *Markus was having his patience tested, certainly, by this particular supplier. It was hard to find someone in this region who could provide high-quality fresh fish at a reasonable price (especially considering that some of the fish the people of Los Fortuna considered "high quality" seemed to be overpriced, constantly out of stock, and of incredibly dubious quality from the rare few glimpses he had gotten of them), but this wasn’t the first time now that the boat he had chosen to be BADD GUYS’ regular ‘guys’ had turned up with absolutely nothing one morning. “I dunno what to tell you, Mark,” a young man in a bandana and sleeveless striped shirt said, hanging by an empty stall he was never told not to man, “sometimes, when the captain heads off to celebrate a great haul, she just disappears for days on end, and then without her, we just don’t always have what it takes to actually catch enough to turn a day’s profit.” “That damned Captain Moonshatter…” Markus didn’t get it. The crew of the Marquise was supposedly able to accomplish such things, yet still the captain wasted her time gambling instead of leading them to their potential? Leading them towards all these amazing fish? “Where is she, man? I’ll give her a piece of my mind.” “A casino, probably, but… Ya know how many casinos are out here? And she never tells us where she frequents! If she did, the boys and I woulda dragged her out a long time ago!” “I know where you can find her.” A man in a dark rain poncho, pretty typical attire for this district, spoke, eyes obscured but some of his dark hair cascading out from underneath the thing. The hapless sailor and Markus turned to him, looking quizzical but expecting, before Markus broke the silence. “There is nothing that isn’t shady about you, sir, but.” Markus smirked. “I think shady is what I need right now. What have you got?” Fwup! Before Markus knew it, the stranger had flicked his hands, and a stylish business card was in between Markus’ fingers. He looked at it, then, and read the name embroidered upon it. “Heartache Casino… Interesting.” “She likes to go around in disguise on her gambling trips, sometimes as elaborate as a fat suit and a fake beard so nobody recognizes her. Only surefire way you’ll have to get her out of there is to get everyone out of there. If she’s there, she’ll get pissed off and blow her cover, for sure.” Markus wasn’t an idiot, even if what he caught onto being suggested didn’t bother him. “…someone wants me to mess with this casino, huh? Well, none of my business, as long as she’s actually there. If not, I’m kicking your ass, got it?” “You have my word.” The man nodded his head, and then disappeared into the bustling fish market. That afternoon… Sound’s Garden Eastern Strip - Heartache Casino Arriving at the casino, Markus took a look around, taking in the bright lights, expressive designs, and loud sounds. There were so many people strewn around the casino, and just about any one of them could be the captain… Clearing them out was going to take time. He needed a drink. One irish coffee later, Markus was ready. He sat at a table in the lounge area, viewing the various (mostly drunk) casinogoers, trying to suss out which ones could end up being the captain. He was mostly unsuccessful. It seemed as if he would have to get his hands dirty and start actively kicking people out if he wanted to get anywhere. More importantly, over the course of his stay, Markus had noticed something - one of the waiters at the bar had begun eyeing him, always keeping watch of him for some reason. He was planning something, souring Markus’ mood. With a dissatisfied grunt, Markus got up and started making his way towards the slot machines to get a start on kicking people out, and the waiter seemed to follow in his steps. No matter the pace at which he went or where he went, the waiter seemed to be right there, a couple of steps behind him. Markus’ brow furrowed in anger. He’ll see just how far that waiter was willing to go to follow him. Even near the ATMs, far away from the bar area, the waiter seemed to be constantly following him. He even tried going to the restroom for a few minutes, and the waiter was still there when he- For all of his thinking about the waiter following him, something, or someone had crashed into him, and found himself knocked down onto the floor from the impact, covered in… water? Beer? Something. He looked up and saw another waiter, a worried expression on their face as they profusely apologized. A glance to the right, back at the original waiter, revealed that he was… smirking? Markus couldn’t quite make the waiter’s expression out, but one thing was for certain - he was taking joy in watching Markus stumble into the other waiter, and he had likely planned this. That asshole. Markus quickly got up, ignoring the apologetic waiter and began quickly making his way towards the other waiter, ready to give him a piece of his mind. He didn’t know why he did what he did or what he was planning, but he sure as hell was going to grill him until he told him that. Upon getting close enough to the waiter and coming up from behind him, Markus firmly grabbed his arm to keep him from running away again. “Hey, you. What do you want from me? Why were you following me, and what exactly do you stand to gain from doing this, huh?!” The waiter turned around, only to seem… entirely confused? “Sir, what are you talking about? I didn’t do anything - I don’t even know who you are, or why you’re here! I- I don’t want to make a scene, if you have any complaints you can bring them to my supervisors, just- I need to go back to the bar and bring food to the customers, you know? I-” “Bullshit. I noticed you! You were constantly keeping watch of me, following me- hell, I went to the fucking restroom and you were still there when I came out! Don’t give me these crocodile tears, I know you want something from me!” Just as the argument between Markus and the waiter began, someone else found their way into the casino - Peter Bequasimodo. Earlier that afternoon… Downtown Los Fortuna - Hotel Delmano Peter had stopped a fair few crimes in his day, not to mention done some less than legal things in others where the rule of law was the real crime. It was certainly strange, though, that someone had thought to send him a handwritten letter at some point… It seemed someone had realized before he could stop a crime, he had to find his way there. He read and reread the text again.
The Heartache Casino will see a tragic failure today… Nobody can do a thing to prevent it, so kiss everyone who sets foot in it goodbye! Think you can get everyone to leave by X:XX o’clock?!
Great, Peter thought to himself. Someone wants to play some stupid game with me… Just perfect. Just what I need when things are starting to heat up more. Despite his immediate thought of annoyance, though, he couldn’t help but have a bad feeling about this… Who sent letters in 202X? Who would send them to him? Peter was usually pretty careful to cover his tracks, and his usual mode of transportation made it so that not even the snoopiest detectives could track him down. Usually, he was able to use his more than capable skills to hack into the odd police database or private server, or simply use his stand to cut through so much crap, but with a letter, he couldn’t do any of that easy stuff. It would take some footwork to track down the source of this, let alone the location of this ‘Heartache Casino…’ Or, as an ally pointed out, he could just search up the letter’s return address online. “…urgh, what am I thinking? Of course they wouldn’t actually give where they were sending this from if they wanted to stay this mysterious! This damn place they wrote down is just…” He blinked, looking at his screen. “The Heartache Casino. That settles it, alright. I’m being baited.” Even if the threat was fake, just designed to get him to the casino, he would have to look into whoever had this much information on him… Seriously, who could have this level of knowledge when he’d barely done a thing in this city? Beyond that, in the off chance it wasn’t an empty threat, there was a serious danger to other people there. He needed to minimize the chances of that if he could. That time was less than an hour away. He walked over to his bed and grabbed his gauntlet and pack. In a flash [Running in the 90s] appeared on Peter’s face and he disappeared into the information superhighway. It was time for Treagon to take care of business. “You know,” Peter said, the mood he’d tried to psyche himself up for blending into the chill attitudes of the casino evaporating quickly, “it might not be much my business, buddy, but when I see people being shitty to service staff… That kinda thing really isn’t cool, yeah? Let the man do his job.” “Stay out of this,” Markus answered tersely, shoving the waiter away as the man backed off, returning to ordinary business, “you think I don’t know that sort of thing? I’m here as a favor to people like that.” There was a certain impatient entitlement to this guy that really bothered Peter, especially as he spoke like that. All the more, he was finding himself with reasons to kinda want to leave this guy crying and begging for mercy. “You’re really annoying, you know that?” He said, bluntly and with a sort of lax tone, grinning with malice as he stuck his hand in his pocket and leaned back. “I got business of my own to take care of, but don’t lemme catch you acting up like that again, yeah? It’s hard enough just scaring people off so I can look this place over… Shit! Barely half an hour left!” “Wait, you mean to say you’re also trying to-” The waiter happened to slink by, and after that moment, Peter was gone. Markus gave a confused look, but then, felt his own phone vibrating. Curious, he moved to open it up. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH!” “Ffuck-!” He couldn’t help but fumble his device in alarm at the strange face on the screen, which vanished soon after, and as he looked up, Peter was standing around again, and so Markus grit his teeth. “You..!” Peter, on his end, found the antagonism hilarious, and it was easy enough to accomplish that he felt good about the efforts therein. Now, anyway, it was time for him to get to work on finding a way to force everyone out of here… He’d been spending these few minutes searching, but couldn’t find any sign of any sort of electronic tampering, or security footage of someone stealthily dropping any bombs anywhere, or whatever else might make him able to solve this problem in any better a way than this… It was now exactly thirty minutes to the mystery time. He’d just have to get as many people to leave this place as possible, even as more constantly poured in. Markus had also heard Peter mention a half an hour, and though he didn’t know of any sort of vague threat, he had a feeling that that created a sort of ‘deadline’ for this. Well, he didn’t know what to look for, so may as well go for quantity over quality, right? He’d force these people out of here. Though both had the same end goal, the immediate shared contempt they held for one another, both immediately understood, had made this a contest. Never mind that they were far from the only two people who would see it as such, their prides were at stake here, and they resolved to completely show the other up as priority number one. Open the game! Location: The First Floor of The Heartache Casino, one of the many which dot the Eastern Strip of the Entertainment District. The area is 50 meters long and 105 meters wide with each tile being 5 by 5 meters and the ceiling being 5 meters high as well. The green square represents the exit and the gray square is the way to the second floor, currently it is being sectioned off by bouncers who are only letting VIPs enter and exit. The players are represented by the circles of their respective team colors with Markus near the top center and Peter near the bottom center. The grey circles around the center are ATM machines, and the white circle is a reception and transactions desk where you can buy or redeem chips. The two sets of blue tiles are restrooms, men’s restroom on the left and women’s restroom on the right. The left side is the lounge area with a bar, denoted by the brown shape, tables represented by green circles, pool tables represented by the purple rectangles, poker tables represented by the red circles and roulette tables represented by the light blue circles. In the top left is a netted off area represented by the hollow blue rectangle where people can play darts and to its right are two rows of vending machines with water in the blue squares and sodas in the purple. The blue rectangles, red triangles, and yellow hexagons are all rows and sets of slot machines. The blue ones are traditional slot machines, and the yellow and red ones are virtual slot machines. The blue slot machines pay out in chips and the yellow and red ones pay out in receipts that are redeemable at the reception desk, but all of them only take in money. There are chairs around the slot machines, tables, and bar where appropriate and the place at the moment is mostly full with gamblers, loungers, and a number of roaming security guards and employees. In general if you are looking for a free spot at a table or machine you can probably find one with a bit of looking. Someone has already disabled the floor’s sprinkler systems, and literally nothing will make them function. Curious. Goal: Over the course of thirty minutes, cause more people to leave the casino than your opponent! It can be taken for granted, for balance’s sake, that there will always be people present to disrupt so long as a location isn’t completely rendered unable to function. Make sure to have some subtlety with it, though, as the guards are as watchful as one would expect casino guards to be. Being too blatant or repetitive would run the risk of getting you in trouble. Additional Information: Patrons have 2 in strength and agility, 5 in endurance, 2 in gambling (in general they know how the games here work, but that doesn’t make them any more likely to succeed at them), and 2 in tenacity; in short, a mere mild inconvenience won’t be enough to completely send a person away, but they probably won’t tolerate repeated annoyances too long before at least moving somewhere else in the casino or outright leaving once they get fed up. They carry cell phones, wallets, and assorted amounts of casino chips. Ones on the West side of the floor can be assumed to be carrying food or beverages with them, according to the kinds of things one could expect to find at a casino. If your actions cause significant risk of harm or death to patrons, rather than simply getting them to leave through various means, police will be contacted to provide further support to the guards, quickly becoming wise to your tactics and arresting you; the owner is rich, so the cops will arrive extremely quickly. If you are arrested for assault, manslaughter, murder, public indecency, and/or accidental homicide, you will no longer be able to gain points. As wanton slaughter on casino grounds isn’t what your contact had in mind, murdered or otherwise slain patrons do not count towards total score, even if, yes, their souls have exeunt; paramedics will be under specific orders not to remove the bodies until after the time limit has passed, specifically to spite the attempt. And also you’re still arrested.
“I’ve heard that in Kansai, if the Yakuza who run Cee-lo Games catch you cheating, they shove two of the dice in your eyes and dump you in the river.” You really don’t like this guy much at all. If this man intends to undermine your protections, then you’ll teach him a lesson. Identify and find ways to interfere with your opponent’s strategies in favor of your own!
“Nobody makes a fool out of Kishibe Rohan! I know you’re laughing at me in your head right now and I can’t stand it!” You really don’t like this guy much at all. If he thinks he can be so self-important all the damn time, he has another thing coming! Identify and find ways to interfere with your opponent’s strategies in favor of your own!
As things settled, it was hard to tell if it was a fight that had occurred or purposeful demolition. In the middle of it all, sitting atop of one of the only remaining operational washers near the back, Byte had helped himself to a bag of SunChips from the destroyed snack machine as he waited for the load of linens to finish it’s final spin. Thanks to a last-second LOAD, he looked just about no worse for wear, standing out like a sore thumb amongst the carnage. He took the few minutes of relative silence to reflect, his gaze passing over his unconscious opponent laying face-down on the damp floor. “Boy, that escalated quickly.” His token stream-of-consciousness mumbling coming through even with a mouth full of chips, “I guess it really does kill some people to be patient. I wonder how much it’ll be to fix this place? Fira better be damn happy for all this, maybe I should ask for a raise. Are there any sodas layin’ around-” Just as the Mandible hopped down to his feet to look for a beverage, the front door of the laundromat swung open, causing Byte to duck down out of reaction. He was expecting company, but had hoped to be long gone before they showed. An amazingly tall suit-vested man stands in the door frame with a look of shock and wonder on his face, tattoos of ‘shading’ adorning his shaved head to make it seem oddly angular. He lets out a long whistle as he strolls in, surveying the damage. “Sweet mother of FUCK, what happened in here?!” Byte knew how bad this all looked, knowing he’d need some kind of cover if he had hopes of fooling the Syndicate capo, so without hesitation deftly smashes his own hand with his hammer. The pain was tremendous, but he manages to keep the screams internal as he bolts up from his spot. “Kilroy! Thank god you’re here!” Byte lied, holding his now broken hand weakly as he puts on an air of hopeless panic. “You shoulda seen this lady! She was flying all over the place, smashing into walls like some kinda monster! Completely tore up the place!” Kilroy hurried his pace at the sign of a survivor, moving to get in close. “...you’re from that restaurant, right? The one that stiffed the elders? The hell are you doing here?” The tall man nearly trips on the unconscious body of Marlin, only further adding to his confusion. “Our machine is shot at the restaurant, I came here to clean some stuff.” Byte motions to the active machine with his broken hand, inciting a wince that he exaggerates for effect. “Then that... Monster came in and just started destroying the place! I dunno how she was putting these holes in the walls, it was insane!” Kilroy stooped over the chain-bound woman’s unconscious form, nudging her head lightly with a finger before shaking his head. He crouches down for a closer look, mumbling under his breath, “Wonder what these chains do…” Byte’s eyes shoot wide, managing to keep his thoughts internal for a change. When Kilroy dropped into Elephant Bones the other week, he made no hint toward being a stand user himself, even saying that the Syndicate is actively hunting them down. Byte had even successfully SAVEd a copy of the capo to see what he had on him; did he deliberately let Byte do so? Just what the hell is the Syndicate about? “So you took her down by yourself?” The question snapped Byte out of the parade of questions in his head, meeting Kilroys glance with his own. Suddenly Byte had a very strong feeling that he shouldn’t stick around any longer, and moved to go retrieve his wash which had thankfully just ended. “Uhh, yeah! I got lucky with a swing of the hammer, caught her as she was spinning around…” Byte’s mind raced for an exit as he pulled the damp linens free, every minute he hung around here was endangering everyone back at the base. ”Listen, did you need me for anything, or can I head back? Fira needs these ASAP and I’m already running behind, she can be a real nightmare when she’s pissed.” Kilroy laughed, his disposition seeming oddly bright. “I know exactly what you mean, I kinda wanna clear out before the boss gets here myself.” Byte gulped. “Shouldn’t you at least dry those things? Maybe get that hand looked at?” They both glanced over at the destroyed rows of dryers, to Byte’s relief, not a single one seemed to be in working order. “Nah, we got first aid back at the gym. And I think our dryer still works.” Bundling up the linens back into their garbage bag, Byte heads for the door. “Good luck with all this, and uhh, hope we can see you back at-” “One more question, if you don’t mind.” Byte froze as he reached the door at Kilroy’s suddenly raised voice, the guy was pretty unstable when he paid them a visit, too. “Did you happen to see the Archbishop during the fight? Big guy in blue robes, probably handing out change.” Oh god, a witness. Byte shook his head. “He left before she came in. Went that way.” He pointed down the street, still inching out of the building. Kilroy seemed relieved, waving at the Mandible as he returned to surveying the scene. Byte immediately broke into a speed-walk, heading down the street and away from danger, cursing his luck at rock paper scissors the entire way. People continue to fight for petty reasons, in this match and the recently-concluded one, but when this goes up, there is still yet a day yet to vote in a match of performers and their supporters spreading a message of love. Scenario: Outside The Devil Blue, Waterfront District, 11:46 AM The past few weeks had been odd for the staff over at the Elephant Bones and Duke’s Gym. Ever since Shelldrake’s encounter against that ice-flinging man over at the Los Fortuna Airport, they’d found themselves in more and more conflicts against other stand users, and had heard about many more taking place in various parts of the city. The knowledge of these encounters, and the realization that the rest of the staff could very well end up in more of these very soon made a certain sense of unease hang over the restaurant. The utter chaos that surrounded it every day didn’t change, but it peered through in those rare moments of quiet, as much as some of them liked to ignore and forget it. It was for that reason that Tiger “Glitch” Ricky made her way over to The Devil Blue, despite the high end resort’s “vibes” being as far away from the Elephant Bones’ as possible. The moment London overheard something about a supposed underground doctor working from the confines of the resort and notified the rest of the team, Glitch bolted outside the restaurant and made her way over to it as quickly as possible. As entertaining as it was, the whole “taking Shelldrake to the vet to heal his broken wing” debacle made the team realize the necessity of alternative treatments for stand related injuries. Glitch knew that the treatment would likely be incredibly expensive and far out of her or her teammates’ paychecks, but keeping it in mind for any emergencies could certainly help in the future, right? And worst case scenario, if she found nothing, at least she’d be able to help herself to some delicious grub! Then again, she had no idea where to find this supposed clinic. Glitch leaned down on her cane, summoning Vida Loca and looking at the area around her. She was in the middle of a large plaza, The Devil Blue’s entrance in front of her. Behind her was the ferry station which she’d just arrived from, and to her sides were many stores and restaurants selling a variety of goods. Glitch kept these spots in mind for the near future, thinking about the delicious food they contained and making sure to figure out how to get her hands on some of it. Truthfully, Glitch didn’t have much of an idea of what the hell she was planning on doing, but that didn’t matter, because she never did. She hopped around the plaza and the surrounding alleyways, keeping an ear out for the rustling of food packages amidst the sea of noises while exploring them, “helping herself to” (stealing) a few packets of chips for herself along the way. After enough skittering around, she made her way through an alleyway, Vida Loca alongside her, the gargantuan cat squeezing tight to fit, and blocking the path through. They were near an odd building - though it was an “information center” for the nearby nature reserves in the archipelago, it seemed unreasonably large to be solely for such a thing. “Umm… Excuse me, miss!” An upbeat man’s voice could be heard coming from in front of Vida Loca, the stand separating between him and Glitch. “I’m trying to pass here, and your stand is in the way! It’s important, you know - I’ve gotta meet with Hull! Oh, wait, you probably don’t know who he is, right? He’s… uh... The own- wait no, I should stop before I accidentally reveal something too confidential, haha-” Before the man could finish his rambling, Glitch started climbing onto Vida Loca’s back, peering at the man from above. From what she could make out, the man was blond and of average height. Vida Loca’s face, meanwhile, was squeezed into the nearby wall and facing the direction opposite him, so tapping into its senses wasn’t much of an option. “Hmmmmrgh...” Glitch let out an odd noise, legs wiggling and moving about as she climbed up more and more, until she found herself sitting on the stand. She then tried to climb on top of it in an attempt at looming over the man, before nearly slipping off, frantically struggling before using some vibrations to stop her in place and sitting down. She looked over at the man’s blurred face, making out a wide grin, which she responded to in kind. “Hehe,” maybe this man had information that would be useful for her. “See, I’m looking for an underground clinic for stand users or something like that. Should be around here, but I can’t find it! I’ve been looking for so long that I managed to snatch three packets of crisps already!” as if to accentuate the number, she put her arm forwards and raised three fingers “And crisps are great! But I want to find this clinic as well!” Glitch raised her arms into the air in exasperation. “Now, if you tell me where the clinic is, or help me find it in some other way, I’ll get Vida Loca to let you pass! Does that sound good?” There was a slight pause as the man tilted his head, before breaking out into laughter. “Hahaha! Wow, that’s one hell of a deal! About the clinic, I’m afraid to say that you’re gonna have to wait a bit more! See, it’s actually right here,” he says, pointing at a nearby, unassuming door “and I help run it, but we’re closed for the next hour! Me and Peres have some work to do and meetings to attend, so you’ve gotta wait! Don’t worry though, I’ll make it up to you - I’ll let your crisp stealing slide for now, haha!” Another fit of laughter. Glitch’s expression shifted into a pout. So she was stuck here for another hour? Bleh! Seeing her expression, the man chuckled again “What’s the problem? I’m sure you’ll find something fun to do here for an hour, you know. Well, it probably won’t all be very legal, and the guards here might try to kick you out, but that’s not something I gotta deal with so I don’t really care, haha!” With that final sentence, the man crouched forwards and deftly ducked under Vida Loca’s body and between its tall legs, passing through. “See ya!” Turning around, he waved to Glitch with a smile and walked back into the crowds of the plaza. “Plrrrgh…..” Glitch grumbled to herself, thinking about what she could do for the hour. She did overhear some of the resortgoers over in the plaza talking about going to the pool, so that could be fun. Sure, she was almost 100% sure that she wasn’t allowed in there, but what was the harm in sneaking in, eh? She hopped off of Vida Loca, and with a pep in her step, began making her way over to one of the resort’s pools. The ferry to the Devil Blue, Waterfront District, roughly 11:30 AM. Laverne Cassiel wasn’t one to show it well, but they were definitely feeling slightly on edge here, and internally, criticising such an attitude. You can’t be on edge when you’re going to a luxury resort… You’re supposed to be at your best of moods when you go to do something nice, something extravagant… People will know that something is off, something is the matter. Though troubled, it was not on their face nearly as much as they’d thought, however; it wasn’t so much that people were avoiding them based on a bad mood, so much as one did not talk to strangers on a ferry so much as they spoke to strangers on a bus, but also multiplying that by the disconnect of opulence towards those ‘not worth’ associating with. “You hear about the prices on Niters? I’ve been absolutely dying to give these a try, demand is higher than ever, and the supply just… Tanks? What’s with that?” A random guy, hipster-looking, foodie, maybe, was complaining to a similarly bougie-looking friend, shaking his head. The other man nodded, groaning. “I hear you, I hear you so hard… I wasn’t going to eat the stuff, seafood is against my diet, but I was going to prepare such wonderful pictures of a Niter Blowfish Tartare for my food blog… I’d already put down my deposit, contacted a local photographer and everything! I’ll have to get into their kitchens and find some, no matter the price, or my clout is ruined.” Laverne had seen pictures of the stuff, and frankly, that guy was a moron if he thought it possible to make those things even remotely photogenic, even if he was probably making the right call not wanting to put it in his mouth; if Laverne ever had the opportunity, they would sure as hell wait for the other guy to take a bite. Had they heard it right, though? They were harder to find now or something? Of course it made sense for the Devil Blue to get them in lighter capacity, if anyone in the area was, but what could be causing the shortage, so soon after they seemed to be becoming more common than ever? There was apparently an incident of sorts here not a few days ago, though people were keeping shush on just what the hell was going on because of that. Honestly, Laverne didn’t actually care all that much. Their assessment was that it related to whatever in the area would sometimes cause people to ‘disappear’, and whatever that was was probably injured or forced to retreat now (not dead… If it was dead, the supply would stop entirely, which was not the case) and ODIN was trying to keep the news quiet. Least the news made it a lot more comfortable for them to travel by ferry for what they really cared about that day: this Devil Blue resort apparently had a clinic which serviced the Stand-using underground. Doubtless, in times of growing strife like these, a place like that would be an informational hotbed, tactically vital to get in good with. Though even the decision to investigate that today had been an improvised one, determined on the spot to be a sound tactical decision for one tipping point of a reason: they were being followed, and needed to get the hell away from that. Roughly an hour ago - Sound’s Garden, near Heartache Casino For the past several days, the members of Red Carpet Renaissance had all a strange feeling about them. While always it seemed there were eyes upon them in Los Fortuna, for some reason, it had been different in recent days. There was a particular sense to everyone that there was someone, specifically following them, and nobody knew who it could be, or why. Laverne, though they had yet to report this, had a feeling about where it came from, correlating when it started: it began the day after Kimijo Kaneko went to investigate that damn baseball game. Sure, some people on that chat program were doing their moral grandstanding about what happened there, pretending they’re better than that, that her opponent being a good man makes any of what she did different from every damn fight every damn day in this city, but all of them, it seemed, were at least for the moment wise enough not to put their money where their mouth is and actually follow up on it, and if they had, they’d probably be in some nightmare backroom right now. This feeling, it was different, as if someone had started to take the entire team more seriously… Which, itself, meant a lot to unpack. They had actually been trying to follow a sheepish event manager’s association with the owner of the casino that day, see if they couldn’t find something worth blackmailing him over and making him feel ‘indebted’ to them, but that case hadn’t been going smoothly as it could, and as they combed over the area, that is when they saw ‘them.’ A thin figure clad head-to-toe in black, jacket zipped up with a fuzzy-looking trim, biker gear, with orange underneath, and a distinct-looking helmet that looked like something out of a science-fiction film, mouthpiece something like a helmet of armor, visor black, lines and circles along the surface. The morning light reflected off of the visor hard enough to make Laverne squint. This person sat upon a sleek-looking sports bike, revving it at them. When Laverne looked their way, the figure seemed to drive away, but kept showing up throughout the area, and more and more, Laverne got the distinct feeling this person was exactly the bad news they were waiting for… They had to lose them. So naturally, Laverne did just that, utilizing their Stand in a diversionary effort that seemed to successfully draw the figure away, and figuring that an offshore hotel was just the place to lose a biker for a little while. Besides that, within a few minutes of their reflection, the ferry wasn’t a minute away from reaching port at the Devil Blue. They could focus on this now, and not that bastard. “H-hey, check this out! Someone’s driving on the water!” The hipsters were speaking to one another, one handing the other a set of binoculars to look out on the waters due North of them, towards the mainland. The other, then, remarked in alarm. “Oh, my god! Is that the Black Angel, here? Oh, ooh, what a sight, what a sight!!” “It definitely is, look at that!” “Lemme see,” Laverne said, speaking up now before going ahead and seizing, with little resistance, the binoculars still around the first guy’s neck, going wide-eyed at what appeared on the other end. The damn motorcycle was uneasily yet consistently making its way along the water, tires spinning as it raced forward against the momentum of the waves. The rider was the same, and what Laverne had read as a trim of fuzz around the upper torso of their jacket, now, flying just behind them as they advanced like a pair of short wings. Shit, seriously? Fucking hell, of course it’s a Stand or a Stand User or something. Would Laverne have to fight on the way to this place..? Wait, no, never mind. As they looked around, they saw the ferryman overhear just that, muttering into a radio too far, too quietly, to hear them, but close enough to see that the words ‘angel’ were being mouthed on their lips. Ah, the island was close at hand, certainly closer to arrive at than this ‘Black Angel’ was fast, and some strong-looking people were coalescing around the ferry docks. Keeping it cool, as the boat found its way to a stop, Laverne walked away, the sounds in the fading distance of a woman saying, “did you forget already? You’re not welcome on this island. Set so much as a wheel on the pavement before this resort you approach, and you know what comes next.” Though the future was uncertain on whether or not they would cross paths again, for the rest of their time on the island, that was the last Laverne Cassiel saw of the Black Angel. Preliminary research made security seem lax here (they don’t deal with VALKYRIE at all, which is… Rare, for a high-profile private business like this), but it seemed they were just holding out for the important things… They couldn’t help but crack a private grin at how this poor bastard had followed them all this way, only to get turned away near instantly. Haha! Victory: Laverne. Serves you right for wasting my morning! Now, onto making use of this new place..! They soon, like Glitch, learned that this ‘Peres’ was out, that they couldn’t get into the clinic without either breaking and entering (not that they were morally above it, but it wasn’t necessary) or waiting for that point… Well, they’d come to a resort island, and knew for the time being that they were completely safe, so why not try to live a little to kill time? A pool within The Devil Blue, Waterfront district 12:02 PM Upon sneaking her way over a fence and into the resort’s pool, Glitch found herself with a severe case of choice paralysis. She stood out like a sore thumb, sprawled out on a lounger, ear perched out, picking up on and discerning between the wide variety of going-ons at the pool with a mischievous grin on her face the whole time. She could start off by taking a plunge, or perhaps use Vida Loca to get someone else to take one, or maybe go on a trip to the bar for a snack, or do one of the million other ideas that popped into her head! “Heheh- oh!” before she could get too comfortable, she heard something very interesting - the sound of someone jumping over the fence, just like she had previously done. “Hmmm….” summoning Vida Loca for a better look, she saw Laverne, catching the investigator right in the middle of a decidedly illegal act. Not that Glitch cared, or even knew much about this odd person, but her interest had certainly been piqued. Just as Glitch had taken notice of Laverne, so did they take notice of her, or more precisely, of Vida Loca’s massive form, staring right at them. With a quick shuffle they attempted to get out of the stand’s sight, preferring to avoid any unnecessary encounters with other stand users in what was supposed to be their way of killing time. However, Glitch wasn’t going to let them get away, and Laverne quickly found her right on their trail, wanting something to do with them. Instead of running away and possibly drawing more attention to themselves, Laverne opted to wait for Glitch to arrive. And arrive she did, hopping towards Laverne and stopping in front of them, leaning in to get a close look at them and letting out an curious “Hmmrgh...” , which Laverne responded to by leaning back and putting a distance between them and this nuisance. “Do you want something, miss...?” they asked, faking confusion. With any luck, this person will leave them alone and they’ll be able to go on with their day. “Glitch! I couldn’t help but overhear you jumping over the fence to get in, so I decided to go over and greet you! I did the same thing, you see, hehe...” She said, giggling to herself. Laverne looked back at them, a straight face hiding their annoyance at Glitch’s harassment. “And I’m Laverne. I do believe that it’s best to keep a low profile in these situations, so it’s best for us to stay away from each other. If we make a scene and are caught, we’ll be kicked out of here, and I’m sure you’d rather-” “Boooooooooooooring!” Glitch interrupted Laverne with a loud shout, attracting the attention of some of the resortgoers, who’d begun murmuring between themselves. Laverne knew they needed to get away from this person if they wanted to stay in the resort. “Hmm. Feel free to do whatever you want, Glitch, but I’m just here to relax, so I’ll be keeping a low profile. Here, take this and go find something fun to do.” Laverne said, taking a ten dollar bill out of their wallet and tossing it in the air, leaving Glitch to chase after it while they slunk away. Glitch, on her end, was quite pleased by the bribe, and immediately found herself spending it all on snacks which she quickly gobbled up. With the bribe money and snacks gone, she once again found herself thinking of what to do, keeping an ear out for interesting occurrences. A little boy slipping into the pool, an arguing couple, Laverne talking with a staff member about something… She decided to focus on the latter, and managed to pick up on their conversation. Laverne was mentioning some sort of nuisance that had snuck into the pool, a short woman who was currently in the- wait. They were talking about HER, weren’t they?! They were trying to get her kicked out! Gasping out loud at the sheer audacity, Glitch was utterly shocked! This person, whom she had seen as a kind benefactor who had given her spending money, a comrade who had snuck into the resort just like she had, was trying to get her kicked out! “Hrrrggh…” She growled in annoyance. Laverne had just made this personal! They were trying to get her kicked out? Nonsense! She’d get them kicked out instead! Laverne, meanwhile, hadn’t been successful in getting the staff to escort Glitch out of the premises. Something about them not having “sufficient evidence”, apparently. They turned over to look at her, only to realize that she had caught onto their attempts, as evidenced by her angry expression and the fact that her stand was out, staring at them as well. She pointed over to Laverne menacingly, her body language practically screaming ‘I’ll get you kicked out instead, just you wait!’. “Tch,” This wasn’t perfect, but no matter. Laverne looked around the pool area, taking everything in. The positions of the employees, the items in the area, and the resortgoers… All predictable. The one anomaly was her, Glitch. She seemed so odd, with her utterly simple desires and her desire to one-up them. Laverne was an expert of deduction, but their expertise was completely unnecessary when it came to trying to tell what this woman was thinking. She wanted to challenge Laverne? So be it. They were sure they weren’t going to lose. OPEN THE GAME! (credit to magistelles for the image!) Location:A fenced-off area with two pools, one regular (20x48) pool and one diving pool (20x20, very deep), one of many such areas within The Devil Blue. The whole area is 80 meters long and 44 meters wide, each tile being 4x4 meters. The light grey areas on the map are the walkways, and the light green ones are grassy areas on the side of the pool. The dark grey paths going over the pool are bridges, tall enough that they can be passed under. The purple rectangles indicate the positions of the diving boards, one being 1 meter tall, one being 5 meters tall, the final being 10 meters tall. The brown tiles represent the bar area. All across the pool’s perimeter on the walkways, there are many lounging chairs for relaxation and umbrellas for shade, with resortgoers occupying many of them. A few are situated on the grass as well. Some of the resortgoers have left their bags on the loungers, containing a variety of different items that one might take to the pool, alongside cash and their room keycards. There’s also the bar area, serving basic food and drinks to whomever may need it, provided they have the cash for it. Goal: Get the employees in The Devil Blue to kick your opponent out! If you act overly suspicious, the resort employees will ask you for your room keycard and attempt to investigate you. While the employees won’t bother you unless you bother them first, they’ve got a few rules they expect you to keep:
You must have a keycard to be within the pool
Don’t bother or attack the other resortgoers and ruin their stay
Don’t carry any dangerous objects within the pool area
Don’t destroy any resort property
If the employees spot you breaking any of the rules, or are given evidence of you doing so, they will begin questioning you and ask for your room keycard. If one is shown to them, they will let you off with a warning, and if one isn’t, they will kick you out. After you’re let off with a warning, you will be kicked out if you’re reported and approached an additional time. Additional Information: Resortgoers can be found all around the area, with 222 physicals and a 3 in “dear god just let me calm down in peace”. Unless you’re really annoying them, they’ll try to ignore you and go on with their lives, and if you do annoy them enough, they’ll complain about you to the employees. The employees are situated mostly around the bar area and around the gates, but are also dotted around the perimeter of the pool, overlooking the goings-on of it, though they’re situated sparsely enough that there’s substantial “deadzones” that their sight doesn’t ordinarily cover. They have 222 stats, and a 4 in collective memory - they communicate with each other efficiently, remember your faces and which keycard you supposedly have, and will call you out if they spot you breaking any of the rules multiple times. Any stand users that are currently within the area, if there even are any, don’t seem to really care about you letting your stands out and won’t pay it any mind. However, if any resortgoer is injured in a severe capacity due to your stands for a reason that can’t be explained away as anything else, the pool will be closed and you will lose the match.
“My tail is second only to my face! I want to rub it on my teeth and then lick it back all pretty!” Though Laverne has interrupted your plans somewhat, the reason you came to the pool in the first place was to have fun, and you’re not gonna let that change! Make sure to have as much fun as possible while trying to get Laverne kicked out!
“Look! My right hand! It turned back into wood again! It’s not gonna turn back into a hand anymore! This is bad, Toshizaku!” As opposed to Glitch, you’re not the type to be so blatant about your actions and attempts at kicking Glitch out. Remain subtle throughout your strategy, make sure that your clay statues aren’t exposed for what they truly are in front of the bystanders!
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