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Shadow of the Magnolia Trees (1 of 2)
Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:51pm

After the white flash it was Kail's misfortune to find himself inhabiting the hulking, antiquated chassis of Sarge. The eight foot humanoid clad in army green armor was among the earliest reploid models, constructed by a human military in the prehistoric days before the Technology Wars when replicant humanoids were still the great hope for the future.

The assassin, accustomed to a body that was much lighter and graceful by comparison even to the most recent reploid designs, tried to take a single step and fell flat on his face. His attempts to stand up also failed miserably. He was like a bird that awoke to find itself in the body of a brontosaurus.

Kail found the situation humiliating. It was even worse than being trapped in the body of a human, what with their ridiculous bowel movements. By the time he managed to climb back to his feet the Stomping Grounds was already under attack. Ducandian war machines rumbled through the compound's meager perimeter defenses and quickly began wreaking havoc.

On the command deck of the gigantic behemoth-class tank, the warlord known as Whopper observed the pandemonium below with sadistic glee. The defenders scrambled like ants at his feet. Upon spotting Kail in Sarge's tall body standing motionless and defiant, the mutant mogul ordered his gunners to open fire.

"That one!" he barked. "Make him extra crispy!"

The rolling fortress stopped for just a moment to swivel the big guns, and when it fired the visible shock wave was so powerful that windows across the SG were shattered and those closest to the tank were knocked unconscious. It was the same sort of blast that'd been used to topple buildings during the invasion of Dopplertown, and now it struck Kail with precision too perfect to have been anything but luck. For a second time that day, the assassin's world went black.


"Whoa, did you see that?" Jim Sikorsky's voice crackled over the Gryphon's intercom. In the back, Kaze was helping Shinsei slide into the aircraft's secondary gun turret. Once in, Shinsei began strapping herself into the seat while her brother keyed the gunnery station's com panel and said "We just heard an explosion, but didn't see anything. What happened?"

"That big mother down there just opened fire." the pilot answered from the cockpit. "Kicked up too much dust to see what got hit. We need to try taking that thing out."

After promising Sikorsky they'd do their best, Kaze asked his sister if she remembered how to operate the Gryphon's guns. When she didn't reply he looked over and shoulder and froze. Shensei was gone. The seat he'd just helped her into now sat empty, though all the safety straps were still buckled. She had vanished without a trace.


Shensei stood in a grove of magnolia trees. The cool breeze carried the perfume of their blossoms and she inhaled their sweet fragrance. It must have been late in the year, for the pink petals of the flowers fell all around her like feathers, carpeting the ground. It was peaceful and Shensei was glad to be there rather than in a battle, though she couldn't remember how she'd come to be in the grove.

It was a clear day and the sun was shining, but not hot thanks to the shade of the trees. Shensei saw two figures in long coats standing in the darkest part of the shadows. Dan Crasher and Damien.

"What is this place?" the female mage asked, no longer wondering how she'd come to be there.

Dan answered "The Stomping Grounds. We're still in the TraSim. Axel thought this environment would be soothing for you, considering what we're going to ask you to do."

Suddenly Axel's disembodied voice said from all directions at once "I can do a cottage by a waterfall too if you'd like that better."

"What you're going to ask me to do?" Shensei repeated. "It must really be something if you're going through all this trouble."

Only now did Damien speak, saying "Ask is the wrong word. We're ordering you, Freelancer. Crasher here thinks that you're special. He sees in you a tempest waiting to be unleashed; the glimmer of something that may one day grow into a great Archmage. I think he's wrong. What I see when I look at you is a common street witch whose lack of confidence is justified."

Genuinely stung by his criticism, the crestfallen young woman turned her eyes to the ground, too shy to look her harsh commander in the face. "Then why did you summon me?"

"Because we have nothing to lose." the dark wizard explained, drawing a wand out of the deep pockets of his trench coat. "We can't wait for this mind-swap spell to wear off by itself and Crasher thinks you may be able to dispel it. Since the incantation was performed by a dunce, maybe he has a point."

Damien held up the wand and Shensei could see that it was made of human bone, intricately carved with demonic runes and scenes of blasphemous acts. The aura it exuded felt like the touch of ice on her soul.

"I..." she started reluctantly "...I don't think I can."

Damien shrugged and put the wand back in his pocket. "There, you see Crasher? The ragamuffin doesn't think she can do it."

"No, it's not that I think it would be too hard." Only now did she look her commander directly in his black sunglasses. "I'm afraid it would be too easy. Necromancy... is something that I hate. I don't want that to change."

"As I said before, this is not a request." Damien held the wand out again.

Swallowing hard, Shensei grabbed it. From where he stood in the shadow of the magnolia trees Dan Crasher hoped that he had not just changed the course of history.

    • A Glimpse of Ultimate Chaos (2 of 2)Kail, Mon Feb 15 11:52pm
      After the white flash it was Kail's great fortune to find himself inhabiting the hulking, antiquated chassis of Sarge. The Ducandian turbo cannons may have been powerful enough to punch holes through ... more
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      For the second time in an hour, Demios's awareness came back from blackness. He was pleased, however, that this time he had eyes to open and within a few milliseconds he confirmed he was back in his... more
      • Well that's just dandy.Kaze, Wed Feb 17 12:27am
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        • Only the BoldZeo Grey, Thu Feb 18 8:12pm
          NRP: Shinsei's name is spelled wrong. I'm sorry. But not sorry enough to go through and edit it. S'what I get for trusting Kail I suppose... RP:For the second time in hours Zeo experienced a tilting... more
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                Even if less than eighty percent of the mutants remained, there were still hundreds and as they ran from the Stomping Grounds, several identified the still working APC and various Land Chaser pilots... more
                • mutant pussKail, Tue Mar 2 2:14am
                  Maquestan Crasher shoved her Lumbar Breaker back into the holster strapped to her thigh and then turned her violet eyes from the twitching body of Whopper to the black armored assassin standing over... more
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