oneonetwo - IC

ThatsAPaddling

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The marrowship ambled above the Egyptian desert. It was a hot, dry-aired day. The atmosphere smelled of sand and sulphur from the artilleries the arcanists had set up. This place was a mess.

The dunes had been blown apart, leaving blackened craters stained with blood and chunks of ether-laden metal. The golemancers tried. Oh, they tried their hardest, but iron wouldn't cut it. What a shame that the easiest metal to get would be the weakest to shells and blasters. Tourism was going to plummet even after the war ended.

Whenever that would be.

Felix watched the endless swathes of desert go by. After about an hour the desert turned to dusty roads, and eventually the ship passed a large sign.

Welcome to Luxor

"Twinned with the seventh circle of hell," Felix muttered. He was always one for a bit of violence, but even he had a limit. He had gotten shot once in his life, and he'd rather not do it again.

The soldiers behind Felix were always ready for battle. Of course they were, it was all they knew. They were engineered for fighting. Under their glowing claret visors, Haemometallic golems knew nothing but war. They didn't complain. They didn't know how. The cognitive circuit in their blood reservoir was programmed to fight strategically and relay messages back to the headquarters. A sad existence, sure, but it was what it was.

Felix tapped the convex above him, inside which the marrowship's brain was stored.
"Hey!" He said to it, "land us over to the left. On top of that old carpark."

The marrowship slowed down and descended. It touched down on an old abandoned carpark. Felix had noticed a light red fog emanating from it. "A building with red fog," he'd been told, "That's what we're looking for."

The soldiers jumped out almost immediately after touchdown. They ran down to the next level, and Felix put on the radio a friend gave him years ago, waiting for them to return.

An hour later, he was still waiting.

His telecom went off suddenly.

"Felix? Felix, you there?""

Felix sighed, and replied, "Yeah, I'm here."

"Have you heard anything from the HMs?" It was the man who handled communications with the Haemometallics.

"No..." Felix answered, realising how long it had been since he landed, "how about you?"

"Static. Nothing but static."

"What was the last thing they saw, do you know?"

"I'll check... Oh, Jesus!"

"What?!" Felix sat bolt upright. "Send me the image, right away!"

A minute later, he received it on his phone. The image was blurry and pixelated to the point where he could just barely make out a pair of empty eye sockets and a metallic set of canines like steak knives. Whatever it was, it was lunging toward the soldier, steely mouth agape.

"What about the others?" Felix asked frantically.

"Static. Couldn't make anything out!"

"Have you tried image enhancing? Are there any security cameras worth hacking into?"

"Goddamnit, Felix, I tried it all! Static! Static! Nothing but bright red static!"

"Shit!"

"Don't go down there. If an HM can't make it out alive, what chance do you have?"

"Shit!"

"Huh? ...Sure, I'll tell him. Felix? We have recruits coming your way. You know Elissa Dunley, Aaron Brookes, Jason Nair, Chris Malform, right? Those guys? Sure you do. Stay in the ship. Keep your eyes open. Just stay where you are."
 
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the_j485

King of the Wicked
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Finally, back on official duty. He'd been doing plenty of work elsewhere, most that he wouldn't go into, but he found the government work to pay a lot better, though its purposes might not all be so great and good.
The money wasn't really all that he was here for, though. It had been a long time, since he had seen Felix, his greatest friend and ally-two sides of a coin they were, darkness and light-and he'd missed him plenty. It would be good to fight beside him once more.
If only they could meet in better circumstances - a whole troop of top-level HM golems had been lost, as such they had been called in. The others seemed newer to all of this, one might call Aaron a veteran of this kind of mission. Hopefully, they at least knew what they were doing.
As he and the others went aboard Felix's ship, he shortly found the man, calling his name as he shook his hand.
"Felix, it's good to see you! How have you been?"
 
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ThatsAPaddling

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"Aaron, you bright-side piece of shit!" Felix beamed as he shook Aaron's comparatively colossal hand, "Have you gotten taller? You know, I went down to see Deomi in circle five, and I swear I saw that Catholic girl you dated walking past. Eh, it might have been someone else. At any rate, we've got some serious shit on our hands!" He chuckled briefly, and in a split-second his face fell serious. "But really, we've got some serious shit on our hands."

He picked up his phone and swiped to the image the HM communications guy had sent him earlier.

"Right, first on the agenda," Felix said, "I like this station. Anyone touches the radio, you're a dead man. And you should know what I do to dead people. Second on the agenda," he showed the image around, "Big fangs, no eyes, metal head. That, the red fog and the apparent fact that it's some kind of golem are our only leads. We know from the fact that the HMs didn't come back at the designated time, plus this image, that whatever this golem is, it's likely to be the reason for the HMs' termination.
"The problem? We can't go down there. If you know your shit, you know that HMs are made from tungsten, a bloody hard metal. If whatever's down there can fuck up their day... Well, try not to imagine what it could do to your flesh-shells. But, bottom line, we stay up here until backup comes. What backup? I don't know. But we stay here nevertheless."

Felix opened a cupboard next to him and pulled out a monitor and keyboard. It was hooked up to a powerful computer, and the monitor already showed a lot of windows and tabs open.

"Research," Felix explained, "I started while I waited for you. Did I mention how long you guys took? Jesus. Anyway, I didn't get far. Phone calls and shit. What I did find out was that it is definitely a golem, by the simple fact that there are no animals that have empty eye sockets and metal faces, and that this same red fog has been sighted all over Egypt. Apparently people had the common sense not to go near it, so there were no human casualties. If you read this here," he pointed to an article on the monitor, "It says that HMs were sent inside the fog. Same scenario, they didn't come back. Have any of you guys got any idea what's going on? Any past experiences, have you read anything like this?"
 
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LivingAngryCheese

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'I've never seen that red mist, but mysteries I can do. Which way did the golems go? I could find one of their souls and bring it here, and if they aren't intelligent enough to explain what happened I could crack open its memories, but that would be difficult. It would take some time.'

Jason had only been on a few missions before and already he was being called out on an emergency mission. He must be more gifted than he thought. Now he wasn't any good at breaking down living minds, he couldn't even access them, that was a psychic thing, but spirits? They're just like eggs ready for him to crack open. Or pandora's boxes. They didn't usually have good news. And that was if their minds were even still intact...

Demons, though, demons were nice. They didn't scream at you, or reveal horrible memories. They were your own. Jason smiled at his Salamander. It had been his first demon, and he had never disbanded it. It had always been loyal, unlike some humans...
 

GhrimReaper

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Chris had never been much of a people person in the field he always preferred to do things alone, being part of a group of any kind was a daunting prospect to him however he knew he had to push through his discomfort if he was to make survival plausible.
Chris listened to the conversation between Felix and Aaron trying to pick up information about the situation they were in as they were not told much on the journey over, the mission he was sent to was not made for his expertise he was used to stealth and was not much good for backup, Chris walked over to Felix and looked down at him "So what's the plan, just give me an objective" he asked hoping that he had a plan.
 

ThatsAPaddling

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"Guys, guys," Felix sighed, stressed, "You have to understand that we really don't have much to go on. Chris, we don't have a plan. We have a skeleton of a plan. I... All I can say is, we find out what we're dealing with, and then we work out how to deal with them."

At that moment, a shrill screech resonated from somewhere inside the complex. Felix snapped his head around to look at the ramp leading down to the next level, for when cars actually used this place. The red fog was rising.

Felix shifted in his seat nervously. He heard indistinct yammering from down the ramp. The sun was beating down through the window-holes in the ship. Everything seemed bright and dry.

Something shifted in the fog, chattering away to itself.

"Guys, grab your guns," Felix said quietly, feeling the wall for a cool spot. Those were where the shadows were. He stared into the fog.

Felix couldn't make out anything major, no eyes or teeth or fingers or anything. But he knew that something was staring back.
 
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GhrimReaper

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Chris picked up his rifle and put the strap around his torso and took out his pistol from its holster aiming it towards the fog.

"Can't we get this thing of the ground" Chris asked calmly. He shifted over in front of the door and rested on his foot ready to kick himself out the door if he needed to, keeping his gun pointed the whole time.
 

ThatsAPaddling

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"That's the dilemma," Felix said, never taking his eyes off of the fog, "If we leave now, we haven't got a chance of getting to know that thing. And if we don't leave now... We have."

The yammering continued. Felix's head started to ache. Something in that fog wasn't right. This wasn't right...
 

LivingAngryCheese

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'Quickly! Get on these shrikes!' Jason shouted, summoning a shrike per two people. 'Something in this fog doesn't feel right, I think it might be some kind of sleeping gas!'

He was probably wrong about the sleeping gas, but he was definitely not wrong about something feeling weird. His brain was sending him a message, and that message was:
Get the hell out of there.
 

the_j485

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Dec 19, 2012
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The ominous red mist emanated from the underground car park. It was almost opaque, it was so thick, light only penetrating about five feet before being absorbed by the crimson vapour. He was certain there was movement in there. He couldn't directly see the creatures they knew had killed the HM golems, but he was sure that there was something there. Moving. Watching. Waiting.
Jason, one of the recruits he'd traveled with, urged them to hope on their shrikes. Luckily, he had no need, using rays of light to lift himself up, and to cover his head to form a bubble of pure air around him, doing the same to the others were they not to resist, following Jason's mention of gas.
"If this gas is expanding, then it will eventually envelop Luxor, and I doubt that it will stop there. We have to stop it, and our best bet is to nail the source. I can keep the gas from affecting all of you, but I get the feeling that my ability to push gas out of the way might not be as great - it's hard enough allowing you to breathe through the masks alone while keep the gas out. Felix, do we know if any backup is on the way? More golems? Some titanium, osmium, or mithril ones would be brilliant."
 

ThatsAPaddling

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"Sleeping gas?" Felix said, incredulously, "Sleeping gas would be way more conspicuous! Bright red? You'd see it a mile off! And I haven't heard anything about backup. Honestly, at this point, it looks like you're the backup."

And at that very moment, the fog broke, and a beast came running through.

It checked all the boxes. Metal head, eyeless sockets, knifelike fangs, but it was more than just a head. It was a four-legged beast wrapped in rippling grey-purple leather. The leather of its legs and arms terminated at the ankle, from which a rusted metal pole came which ended in two blunt, leather-wrapped toes on the feet, three on the hands. Thick red saliva sprayed from its long, skull-like mouth as it screeched its abberant screech. The golem's segmented metal tail flicked madly as it skittered on the carpark roof like a spider on ice.

Felix slammed the intercom button. "Six-seven-nine! Six-seven-nine!" He screamed into the microphone, "We have a Minor Eldritch! I repeat: Minor Eldritch!"

Screeching came from inside the fog, which was retreating back down the ramp to reveal more Minor Eldritch Constructs.

"There's more!" Felix yelled, "Five, maybe six! Send backup ASAP!" He mashed buttons, closing and locking all doors. As he felt sweat soaking his clothes, he thought to close the windows.

But then he realised: There are no windows. Marrowships aren't built that way.

Marrowships were built with wards instead of windows, which blocked non- and minor ethereal objects, like bullets and energy blasts.

Not golems.

Felix hammered the convex. "Start up!" He yelled, "Fly, you bastard!" A deep moan resonated from the brain inside. "No, it can't be tired! No, start up!"

But it was like the stars were aligned to make sure Felix was screwed. The sun was at zenith phase, so it was the hottest part of the day. A living brain encased in a thick bone cage would overheat if overworked. They were stuck here. Felix slumped in his chair.

"Oh, shit."
 

LivingAngryCheese

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"Sleeping gas?" Felix said, incredulously, "Sleeping gas would be way more conspicuous! Bright red? You'd see it a mile off! And I haven't heard anything about backup. Honestly, at this point, it looks like you're the backup."

And at that very moment, the fog broke, and a beast came running through.

It checked all the boxes. Metal head, eyeless sockets, knifelike fangs, but it was more than just a head. It was a four-legged beast wrapped in rippling grey-purple leather. The leather of its legs and arms terminated at the ankle, from which a rusted metal pole came which ended in two blunt, leather-wrapped toes on the feet, three on the hands. Thick red saliva sprayed from its long, skull-like mouth as it screeched its abberant screech. The golem's segmented metal tail flicked madly as it skittered on the carpark roof like a spider on ice.

Felix slammed the intercom button. "Six-seven-nine! Six-seven-nine!" He screamed into the microphone, "We have a Minor Eldritch! I repeat: Minor Eldritch!"

Screeching came from inside the fog, which was retreating back down the ramp to reveal more Minor Eldritch Constructs.

"There's more!" Felix yelled, "Five, maybe six! Send backup ASAP!" He mashed buttons, closing and locking all doors. As he felt sweat soaking his clothes, he thought to close the windows.

But then he realised: There are no windows. Marrowships aren't built that way.

Marrowships were built with wards instead of windows, which blocked non- and minor ethereal objects, like bullets and energy blasts.

Not golems.

Felix hammered the convex. "Start up!" He yelled, "Fly, you bastard!" A deep moan resonated from the brain inside. "No, it can't be tired! No, start up!"

But it was like the stars were aligned to make sure Felix was screwed. The sun was at zenith phase, so it was the hottest part of the day. A living brain encased in a thick bone cage would overheat if overworked. They were stuck here. Felix slumped in his chair.

"Oh, shit."
"Jesus man! Get out of that chair! Don't just sit and wait to die! Fight like a man!" Jason shouted at Felix. Jason disbanded the Shrikes, then sent his spirit to the spirit world. He had learnt to stay upright even with his spirit elsewhere. He looked around for flickers of any powerful magician, any of them could be useful.
 

GhrimReaper

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Chris looked around out of all the windows he could see and made sure to take point on there location in case any grabbed on during the flight away, they were getting distressingly close and bullets could do little against them.
He sat nervously on his back leg waiting for it to take flight, "No, it can't be tired! No, start up!" he heard Felix shout in frustration. There was no choice, he had to fight.
Knowing that guns wouldn't do much against them he leaped out into the mist putting his hand on one of their chests before they had time to react, jumping a good three feet into the air and slamming its back into the ground.
 

ThatsAPaddling

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"Chris!" Felix yelled, "What the hell are you doing?!" He leaped out of his chair and frantically started rifling through cupboards.

"Guns, guns, guns, where are the bloody guns?" He muttered, eventually finding the gun cabinet. Felix pulled out a P90. he loaded it, readied it and tried to aim.

"Shit. Shit, shit, shit, they're moving too fast!" He growled. "Can one of you just stand still, goddamn it?! Ah, fuck it," Felix sighed, dropping the gun and jumping out of the ship.

Felix felt around for a cool spot on the exterior of the ship. He found one, and his fingers played along the surface, getting used to the act of necromancy. He hadn't done it in so long...

Felix tensed his hand, sending ethereal energy to the tips of his fingers, where it diffused across to the shade. He took a few deep breaths, and swung his arm around, bringing smoky black blades with it.

He broke into a sprint towards the golems, shadows swirling wildly around his hands. One golem saw Felix, and dashed head-on at him, doing its unstable skitter. Felix threw spears of shadow at the creature, which pierced its leathery hide and stuck there.

The golem screeched in pain, and toppled over. Its legs flailed as its unearthly squeal carried on. Felix took hold of another shadow, and swung it through the creature's neck. He heard the sound of leather ripping, and he saw the head roll away from the body, but then Felix glanced into the stump.

There was no flesh, no blood. There was a mechanism. It was like some sort of robot, but it was a mechanism that couldn't possibly fit in such a compact shell of leather and metal. It couldn't... It was too complicated, such a structure would need something the size of a house to contain it. Not something as big as a large wolf... But it did. A complex, intricate framework of ethereal power and strange metal, inside a shell the size of a wolof a wolof a woLf A WoOoOolffffFfFfFelix's head started to ache horribly. It felt like his brain was tensing and twisting and stretching, pushing his mind to the very brink of snapping. It took all of his remaining StrENGth to PulL hIS eyES away from tHe stump. He fell to the ground, panting.

Am I dreaming? Is this real life? Am I even real? This is not real! This could only be made up in some sick fuck's imagination! How is this real? It isn't real!

This went on for what felt like forever. It was only two seconds in reality. But for a second of that, he was back in his old house, from his childhood. No one was there. He lay down on the sofa, and slowly fell to sleep to the sounds of high-pitched singing, a chant only sung by the insane people of Lithudun, the cosmic deity. Hours later, his eyes opened. Felix was laying on the rough tarmac of a carpark in Luxor. Chris Malform was using his hand to pile-drive a Minor Eldritch Construct into the ground. There was the head of another MiEC next to him. His mouth felt warm and sticky with blood running from his lip. His head hurt like a bitch.
 
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the_j485

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"FELIX!" Aaron shouted as he boosted forwards with his solidified light, propelling himself at great speed as another construct was gunning straight for him. Holding a giant spike of light, he speared it and entirely obliterated it, throwing it a good distance away. Running straight to Felix's side, he grabbed him with light, and brought him back to the ship where he placed a hand upon his head to do what he could.
Focusing his powers, he showed the other aspect of vivomancy - healing. Not quite as good as a priest's, but he was a powerful and experienced, so he came pretty close. Focusing his powers, he poured ether into Felix to try and help him. He found he had something wrong with his head, and hoped what he was doing could somehow help him - the brain was complicated, not easy to fix.
Soon, he realised what had happened - he had looked into the eldritch construct's inner working, not something the human mind was supposed to understand or even try to.
 
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ThatsAPaddling

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The subject walked with his Marhha, his Mentor, Ibrahim Manijad. Manijad was a tall, burly man with a shaven head and face. He was caring for his subjects, but was a savage. Manijad didn't hold back in his experiments, the subject had heard, but supported his subjects in them. He had the best intentions, but his methods were... Over the top, perhaps.

The subject knew why he was here, walking with Manijad. He knew that he was a subject, and quite honestly he was terrified. But Manijad knew that. Manijad tolerated fear. He knew that fear was inherent in all earthly animals, and he knew that death was the only way of letting Lithidun know that one had conquered fear. For fear was never truly conquered in life, as a whole. Death, on the other hand, was release from all one's earthly setbacks. Pain, Manijad had once told the subject, was the cleansing, and death was drying the cleanser off. The subject knew that, through his experiments, Ibrahim Manijad was only doing what was best for his subjects.

"Do you know," Manijad said as he strode through the corridors, "What gets me up in the morning, my brother? It's not coffee, or an alarm clock. It's the thought, that each and every day, I am giving another one of my brothers the chance to be free from his chains." The subject nodded subtly. "But you, Sarcillis? You are important. I have taught you many a time, I hope you remember, that Lithidun values ingenuity above all. That is why we do the things we do here. We are creating breakthroughs in Ethereality. We are discovering methods that would never be imagined by others. And you, Sarcillis, are going to be the ethereal father to our poster child. I will be sad to see you go, but I know, and I hope you know, that you will be remembered by Shal-Nullinuth as the man who created a miracle. You, Sarcillis, will create life."

Sarcillis carried on walking, but he soon realised that the only footsteps were his own. He turned around to see his Mentor, his
Marhha, switching a lever on the wall. Sarcillis tried to open his mouth to talk, but he realised that he could move nothing. His right hand felt numb.

Ibrahim Manijad put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a thin, wicked blade. Sarcillis tried to protest, but he still couldn't move. Manijad, with sad eyes, raised Sarcillis's hand, and fluidly swing the blade through his wrist. A horrible, inconcievable pain seared through Sarcillis's arm.

He enchanted it! That bastard enchanted it!

Manijad was an arcanist. The arcanist stared at Sarcillis, his eyes watery. Sarcillis's chest started to hurt. He couldn't breathe! His entire body had been frozen!

"Be strong, my son," Manijad whispered, ignoring the pale, bloodied hand lying on the ground, "Focus on the pain. It'll be over soon."

Sarcillis's vision clouded red as his lungs burned. Slowly, torturously, red turned to black. Black turned to nothing.

* * * * *

Ibrahim Manijad watched as Sarcillis's eyes glazed over. He knew the young man was dead. Silently, he picked up the severed hand laying just outside the stasis square, where the lifeless body of his subject stood. He turned around, holding the hand tightly, and walked back the way he came.

Fourteen doors down, a large garage door labelled 'HM-112 - FOR FINAL PHASE ONLY' opened. A sandy yellow-skinned goblin stood by it, waiting for her orders. Up ahead, she saw the human she was supposed to usher in. He stopped in front of the doorway, looked at her and smiled.

"Go to your quarters, Dani," her master said, "I'd prefer some privacy."

"As you wish, sir," Dani nodded, and walked back to her quarters. She stopped at a coffee machine and grabbed herself a hot chocolate, then carried on walking. Out of her pocket she pulled a sleeping tablet, which she proceeded to drop into her drink.


Dani knew what was going to happen today, and she'd prefer to sleep through it, regardless of the time.
 

ThatsAPaddling

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Flickers of light darted through Felix's head. His mind started to feel normal again, his eyes clearing. Felix saw Aaron stooped over him, looking concerned. Faint scratching came from the wall behind him.

Felix sat up rapidly. His mission was clear.

He found a shady spot and pulled a shadow from it. Creeping along the inside of the ship, crouching below the window-holes, he went towards the door. Slowly, he opened it slightly to look where the golems were.

An eyeless metal socket stared back.

In a matter of seconds, the golem was straining to get the door open, teeth gnashing. Felix threw shadows at its head, but they just dissipated on contact. What was this beast? Shadows could pierce almost all common metals on Earth...

Felix scrambled to the front of the ship, shouting at Aaron: "Keep it busy! Don't let it bite you!"

Felix hammered his fist on the convex, and the marrowship knew what to do. Slowly, surely, the ship lifted off of the ground. Screeching came from the back as the golem probably felt its feet come off of the gravelly surface.