“So the letters weren’t the same?” thought Jiyu out loud. Apparently hers was the only letter worded like an assignment, judging by how surprised everyone else was at hearing that this would be a mission. “I bet he wrote these in ways that would get all of us to show up, then. Most of these people don’t look like they’re here for work.”
“And nooooope, I didn’t know anyone before, haha. You gotta start somewhere, cuz you’ll be seeing the rest of us a lot.”
Chuck turned to Marvelous and smiled. "Well, you could say my schtick is hero workin'. Back where I'm from, I'm the best around...also the only one around! But, hell. Choosers can't be pickers, right? You could say I'm a bit of a speed demon."
Chuck looked around at the group that had assembled. They seemed like they were from all over the place - the girl on the wall was from somewhere without a house...Hoboken? Shucks, he couldn't be sure. There were two or three others that seemed like locals, and...Jiyu? That sounded foreign. Possibly Chinese. "Howdy! Gee...uh, Gee-Yew, right?" Chuck said genuinely to Jiyu. "You said you're a singer? I think I heard about Impulse from someone on the way here. Is that one of those Chinese rock bands or somethin'? That's a cool as hell a career choice ya got there."
Despite all the technological advancements made in Windermere, the townspeople were adamant on keeping a traditional clock tower in the central district of the city. Partially to honour the time before the Age of Heroics, and partly to honour one of the great Canadian heroes in Clock Commando. Regardless of the meaning or the purpose of the tower, the clock still rang true, amplified by some technology developed some ten years ago to make concerts louder.
As the bell rang across the town, flying over our ragtag group, a ding could be heard from the microphone grate underneath the doorbell. A faint rustle was the only sound that cut through for a time, suggesting the sound of somebody moving robes or large amounts of clothing around before the silence hit once more, and a faintly Swiss accent cut through that silence with a commanding yet soft tone.
"I see that you have all arrived. This is good. The door is now unlocked. Inside, you will find 8 cases. You will each take one, then take the stairs up to the 14th floor. I will await you there."
As soon as the voice cut out, the front door to the flat slid open, as the lights inside turned on illuminating the foyer. It was tastefully decorated, large oak tables lining the side of the entrance hall, with small stools lining them. The walls were painted a soft blue, with art pieces hanging from the walls asymmetrically. Each of the tables had 2 cases on top; hard black cases that had a DNA lock on the top, commonly used by security details and Heroes-For-Hire, as they are famously impervious to any forms of scanning and highly resistant to being damaged. At the end of the hallway lie two stairways, one heading up, and the other heading down.
Marvelous had dropped her little bloodpuppet as Presidium had spoke. Now, Celeste stood back, hands shoved into her pockets as she watched and waited to see how the others would take this.
Listening to voice's directions, Kara frowned slightly. What was the purpose of all of this? She wanted her questions answered, however, so playing along was the best way to get them. If the situation went south and it was all a trap, she could easily escape from the place. It's not like the building was reinforced in any way to prevent her from phasing out. She had already confirmed this fact when she first arrived.
The faster she got in and out, the least amount of time she would need to spend out in the open like this, so Kara walked swiftly forward, grabbed black case from the foyer, and strode quickly up the stairs. It would have been faster to fly, of course, but no one needed to know she could do that. She needed to look normal and unassuming and nonthreatening, so taking the stairs would have to suffice.
Chuck walked into the office. It reminded him of a doctor's office - the building seemed pretty plain on the outside, but he thought it was pretty cozy inside. Now the question remained - what could possibly be in those cases? Chuck just had to know. "Well, shoot! These things are pretty fancy."
He tried opening one of them, but it wouldn't budge. "Darn, that's tight. Well, I'll catch y'all up there! Or, actually, you can catch me. Definitely that one."
A red energy sparked up around his body and he smiled at the group. He turned to Kara and cupped his hands. "Hey, miss!" He exclaimed as he bounced up and down like a runner warming up."Watchyaselfonyourrightherewegocomingthooooouuuuuugh!"
Chuck zipped up the 14 flights of stairs in an instant, almost clipping Kara.
Haru abruptly left her conversation with Zearu, her intrigue towards Maruberusu shelved for now. She walked into the flat, distinctly familiar with the cases on the table - she’d seen Strider use similar ones on countless occasions, and used them herself multiple times near the end of her instruction and during her travels.
Knowing this, she also knew she wouldn’t be able to open the case, and so simply walked towards the stairs after the fast one sped by, picking up a case as she walked by it. She briefly considered charging up the stairs similarly to him, but decided against it simply because the debrief would wait until everyone arrived, so there was no point in rushing.
Celeste watched as the blonde woman, the cowboy and the midget headed into the office. Sighing gustily and scratching her cheek, she headed into the office, grabbing one of the cases off the table and began her trek up the stairs, figuring the others would follow. Besides, somebody like Presidium wouldn't start til they all got there anyway.
The door in question was a simple one. Wooden, with a frosted glass insert, looking reminiscent of a doctor's office, even having a couple of wooden chairs stood against the opposite wall as if this was some hospital waiting room. Celeste took a seat, placing the case down beside her as she glanced back down the stairwell. Hell of a long way down from here...
Following the others, Zander walked inside and picked up one of the black cases. No one else seemed to have much to say (besides that speedy guy, who he heard yelling on his way up).
The case was pretty basic, just like the ones he had seen his mother and other agents use from time to time. It was strange that Presidium had placed the cases downstairs instead of just giving them out himself, but then again, he'd sent physical letters instead of using more modern communication, so it wouldn't be too surprising if he just had a few screws loose upstairs.
Jiyu paused after hearing the announcement. "Well, looks like it's time to head up," she said to the masked blonde boy. "Let's do this!"
She followed the others who had already headed in, reaching for the nearest case and making her steady trot up. There was no point in opening the case - she had seen these in training before, and they wouldn't budge for anyone other than the person who locked it. For now, Jiyu focused on pacing herself and breathing evenly as her legs began to burn from the long climb.
Her first order of business was looking around the place. It certainly wasn't how she imagined a well-known hero would furnish their apartment. It looked nice - don't get her wrong! - but it just seemed so... normal? She supposed he was just a guy too. But part of her expected something more futuristic. Whatever floated his boat, though. The figures in the art pieces were mainly ones she didn't recognize, though she grinned a little upon seeing an artist's rendition of Wildchild - a particular favorite hero of hers. She'd have to ask him who his favorite heroes were later.
Then, came the objects in question. The briefcases. Mr. Orange-Mask hadn't come in yet, so she figured she had some time. Taking one of the remaining two cases, she licked her lips, and sat down on a blue sofa. There was plenty of light in the area, which gave her plenty to work with to try to shine light into any perceived crevices. Maybe she could just get a sneak peak? But Presidium obviously had other plans - that box was sealed as tight as could be. A pity. She didn't really want to wait fourteen flights of stairs to figure out what was inside. That wasn't going to stop her, though. She'd figured out puzzles before - this wasn't any different!
Silen watched as people started entering the building one by one after Presidium's announcement. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, gathering every speck of courage he could muster. Step by step, he made his way to the door. With each step he considered turning around and walking away, but he took the step nonetheless. Soon, he found himself inside the building, and as if to confirm his choice, the door slowly but firmly closed behind him.
Silen walked towards the tables. One singular briefcase remained, so he picked it up, and turned towards the stairs, before he noticed the girl from earlier sitting down on the sofa, eagerly inspecting her briefcase. She was so focused on it that it made even Silen believe they could be opened, but it was obviously impossible. "We probably shouldn't keep the others waiting." was all he said to her, before he started the long climb. He started to have a bad feeling about the whole thing. A lot of small details that alone could be mistaken as coincidences, but together added up to a pattern. Hopefully he wouldn't regret his choice.
She nodded dismissively and gave a small "uh huh" when he passed by, but after 30 seconds, she sighed, looking up at the room around her. He was right. There'd be no doubt that Presidium would explain what's going on when they were upstairs, and that'd be a quicker way of finding out what's inside than sitting down trying to crack open this thing. A moment of silence later, she pushes herself up off of the couch, briefcase in hand, and makes her way to the stairs. She doesn't go up without first peeking down though - that's a lot of stairs. Jeez, his legs must be in damn good shape. Imagine being on the top floor and needing to get something from the bottom. - but then starts the long trek spiraling upwards.
As the eclectic group gathered in front of the door, there was a muffled thud, as if a cup of coffee was knocked off a desk, followed up by a choice curse. The door was then opened, and the gang could see the inside of the office. It stood in stark contrast to the rest of the building's wooden rustic design. Long drapes and curtains hung from all the walls and various furniture around the room. A bookshelf stood directly opposite the door, behind the seat where, presumably, Presidium would sit. A solitary light hung from the roof, an old halogen design from before the Age of Heroics. A cup of coffee lay smashed on the floor, the brown liquid seeping into a silken veil atop the carpets. The air was thick and heavy, as if someone had recently been using a fog machine or some such. The only variance from the white silks was the holographic recorder, beeping on top of the plush leather seat that was where Presidium presumably sat.
Haru disappeared immediately, Lunging towards the nearest window and barrelling straight through it to try and see who had clearly just kidnapped Presidium. She ignored the glass shards raining down on her and planted herself on the outside wall much like she had done a few minutes earlier, while also jabbing her hand into the concrete for some added stability, and began to scan the surrounding area with all of her senses in overdrive, signified by her elongated, cat-like pupils.
Her eyes flashed to the street, where she saw someone in a hood run, then shoot upwards into the sky. She growled - too far to make out a name - turning back to the room and roaring to the others “Enemy spotted! I’m engaging, you find whatever you can here!”
With that, her legs flexed, as she turned on all the buffs she could and channeled as much power as possible to them, before explosively Lunging forth towards the figure, enhancing her leap with a violent burst of flame from the soles of her feet.
A skill has been created through a special action! Through the acceleration of flame, the skill ‘Flare Boost’ has been obtained!
Ignoring the skill tooltip for now, Haru made her body as straight as possible in an attempt to streamline her flight. She resembled a missile heading straight for her target, yet idly wondered what would happen should the figure move out of the way.
Her eyes narrowed at the sight in front of her. ****. She hated when situations got unnecessarily cluttered. Her continued annoyance with the situation began to cause a slight emission of energy to escape from her body. Not enough to be physically noticed by most, if any, of the rest of them, but just enough to make the hairs on her arms raise slightly. She sat the box in her hands down on the floor and began to extend her senses throughout the room. Telepathically, she began to extend a radius from the room outwards, trying to sense anything out of the ordinary.
There was a slight amount of kinetic energy lining the edges of the room. Kara took mental note of that before something came to her attention. There was one person on the 11th floor and one person approximately 400 feet straight down from where they were standing. Gotcha. She turned to the others. "We're not alone here. 11th floor and right below us." With that, she walked out the door and let herself phase out of existence to lower herself downward.
The 11th floor was visibly empty though she could sense a person's presence. However, she felt a stronger pull 400 ft down, so she quickly rushed to the site. What she saw below shocked her, causing a larger spike of energy to escape her and allowing her golden aura to flare to life. It was a body, covered in deep purple robes. She opened the robes to reveal the face, massively scarred and ruined. It appeared to be damaged intentionally, but the rest of the body was mostly intact because of the cloth holding it together. She searched for signs of life, sighing with relief when she realized that they were unconscious, but alive. Dammit, she thought. There's no hiding now. She projected her thoughts to the rest of the people upstairs. There's a body in the basement. Unconscious, but badly damaged. I can sense something on the 11th floor, but I cannot visibly see anything.
Even before the door opened, the thud of the coffee cup made SIlen immediately tense up, and what the door revealed just confirmed his suspicions. Immediately, he did as big of a scan of the area as he possibly could. Might as well collect as much information as possible before the trail got cold. He didn't have to go too far back before he got some sounds that posed even more questions.
"What...?" He hadn't noticed he was talking aloud, and for once he was so focused he forgot to mute his words. "What is going on...?" It's like someone took an ancient language and played it backwards underwater. Such a weird language... ever since the universal translators were installed, foreign languages stopped being something people had to deal with, but there it was, a completely unknown idiom. But the strangest thing of all? It wasn't just any voice. It was one they had heard once before already, that very day, and not too long ago either.
After the blond girl spoke, Silen agreed. "There's definitely someone on the 11th floor." Silen then ran out and began making his way downstairs as fast as he could. Perhaps not the wisest decision, but there were too many questions that needed answering to worry about right now.
"Oh. Not good."
Chuck started searching the room, frantically zipping around. This was bad. Anybody who could take out a hero this quick posed a huge threat to the entire group, and they had to be found ASAP. As Hoboken jumped out the window and the blonde girl phased through the floor, Chuck's eyes fell upon a hologram projector sitting on Presidium's chair. A clue! Chuck switched the projector on and set it back in the chair. A man appeared in the chair and spoke:
"To the group who I called here, welcome. My name is Elliot Hawks, and I come from the year 2070. The act and life of Presidium was a lie. I know the future because I've lived it, and I know you needed to be here. Someone is planning something here in Windermere soon. It's the catalyst for everything to change. You need to go and stop it. But don't say a word out loud, you aren't saaaa--"
The sound cut out to a loud thud and a softer thud before fading to static. Chuck's eyes went wide. This was too much too quick. He needed a second to- There's a body in the basement. Unconscious, but badly damaged. I can sense something on the 11th floor, but I cannot visibly see anything.
Chuck rummaged the desk and found a pencil and paper. He scribbled something down and held it up for the rest of the group: Wind/air control???
Dead body in basement could be Presidium - I could run him to a hospital and be back in a minute.
She's just starting to breathe a sigh of relief from all of those damn stairs when the scene hits her like a ton of bricks. Her mind does a double take as she actually processes what the **** is going on. Brow furrowed, she glances around the room - grey flakes hung in the air, in addition to the thick fog. ****. She listened intently as the man spoke, looking around for anything new, but also being too scared to move much at all.
"O-okay, we should calm down first before we do anything else-" There's a body in the basement.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAA "...****. Uh. Go ahead. Need any help?"