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Most users ever online was 29 on October 1st 2013, 12:09 am


    Neurasthenia

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    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

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    Neurasthenia

    Post  Bad John on January 28th 2013, 7:02 am

    BACK TO WORK, NINE!

    Pretty soon I'll pick up with Nine's activity on Requiem. But, the storyline will be a more casual one. A-la the later days of Metal and Mettle.

    "How can I forgive you, my husband. How can I forget the chords you cut? The beings you've stricken down?"

    Cool voice. Soft, warm, and lithe. Comforting, reaching fingers that clasp around your chin. The kind of embrace that draws you in for a gentle kiss on the forehead.

    No matter how pained the speaker seems.

    "With your power, you've forgotten what it means to be strong. You've forgotten your responsibility to them. You've forgotten to value life. So many lives, you've ended."

    The Librarian felt tears well up, but remained stone faced. Love for her subjects, and disdain for her husband, demanded strength. Firmness.

    "You taste defeat? I understand now more than ever why. Because those you seek to subjugate have grown. They will not fall down for long. We will recede for them, whether or not you fancy yourself a God."

    The Librarian watched as small images, avatars of Human Champions, flashed before them.

    The True Hero. Green and black, standing tall before the rest.

    The Admiral, adorned in blue and red.

    The Lancer. A vanguard in red who never broke before a challenge.

    The Paragon. Brown and silver, he smiled in the face of adversity. Rose despite bruises, beatings and cruel laughter. He lent strength to all that he touched, and stood in stark opposition to the Didact's idealism.

    "Every human that I've touched stands as a talisman of victory for their race. You will not advance your ambitions. They will take the Mantle in hand."

    The Librarian faded into the darkness as her husband watched bitterly, still healing from his wounds.

    "They will protect the future you seek to destroy."


    Last edited by Bad John on February 15th 2013, 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    It's Kruger
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  It's Kruger on January 28th 2013, 8:38 pm

    The Lancer. Vance can dig it.
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    Manny
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on January 31st 2013, 1:01 pm

    Kruger 2521 wrote:The Lancer. Vance can dig it.
    Vance = Lancer + Vanguard
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    Bad John
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    Awaken.

    Post  Bad John on February 12th 2013, 8:31 am

    "Foolish woman. Words are useless."

    Hard, sophisticated. Overpowering, this voice. It struck terror into the hearts of men who would challenge the him.

    The Librarian sought the Didact. She now had his attention, as the conversation continued.

    "Those pitiful creatures still reel from my attack, regardless of their heroes. They cannot thwart me. You can never empower them enough to resist what I have in store."

    "...Is that so?" The Librarian's avatar burned bright with the anticipation of the Didact's challenge. "Then let us watch. I need only gently pluck the strings of their genesongs, and they rise."

    "Then demonstrate." The Didact receded, content to watch. He needed only time to recover. To heal. To observe.

    The Librarian obliged.

    "Awaken, Paragon."

    Nine's eyes jerked open.

    "Do you need something?"

    The words fell out of his mouth, before he even realized that he didn't know who he was talking to. He was simply overcome with purpose. With drive.

    He looked around, confused. "...Huh?"

    He was in a pod, fully armored. He had been in deep freeze, and was being thawed.

    The last thing he remembered was his previous "dance partner." An operation with Vance going wrong. Leaving him unconscious under a pile of rubble, with no help on the way.

    "...Huh. Well, I'm alive." Nine straightened himself, his neck muscles tightening. "That's something. Why am I in a can?"

    Nine looked to his left and right. His hands were bound.

    He could hear Black Guard.

    "...Legion, hm? Overseeing MY stasis?" Nine growled. "We'll see...about that..."
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    Bad John
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    Awaken. (Pt 2)

    Post  Bad John on February 12th 2013, 9:21 pm

    Manuel casually licked his finger, turning the page of his newspaper. The Legionnaires, more sophisticated than the nearly feral Black Guards (freshly augmented Spartans), were chattering, as per usual.

    They fancied that Manuel couldn't hear them. That his ears weren't keen enough to pick up their idiotic whispers.

    "Second in command, assigned to guard ONE pod." One of them snickered. "We don't even NEED our armor for this. That guy ain't goin' anywhere."

    "Yup." The second guardsman grunted. Both sported the Legion's colors. They were later model Spartans. Nothing special. Expendable even.

    Manuel found it gross that they were even GIVEN armor.

    "Say. Did you just see that?"

    The second guard turned to the pod.

    "Lookit. The pod just moved."

    "Stop fuckin' with me. That pod ain't moving. Moron."

    Manuel turned to the pod, curious.

    The moment he turned his head, the pod burst. Nine's fist pierced it.

    "HOLYSHITBREACHSOUNDTHEALARM!!!"

    Manuel sighed.

    It was OBVIOUS how this would play out.

    "LEGIONNAIRE PUNKS!"

    Nine leaped out, his knuckles cracking.

    Manuel leaned against the wall, unnoticed. "Men, do NOT raise your weapons."

    The two Legionnaires ignored him and raised their rifles.

    Nine was on them in seconds, and Manuel simply watched him work.

    With a simple swat and a tug, he disarmed the first, sweeping the poorer fighter's legs. Nine needed no weapon. Not even a sidearm. He brought his elbow up, and sent the man to the ground. The deafening sound of metal striking metal was familiar to Manuel. War games were nearly identical to this ultimately futile, pointless show of force.

    "You think you can put ME in cold storage?! HUH?!" Nine growled. "What was War plannin'? Putting a microchip into my brain? What's your angle, PUNK?!"

    Nine stepped towards the remaining Legionnaire, who backed away, his gun raised. "GET BACK IN THE POD! I'll fucking shoot! I swear!!!"

    "Alright, that's about enough." Manuel yawned and stepped forward. "Good job, John. You gave an idiot a concussion. Let's talk this out."

    Nine turned to Manuel, rolling his eyes. "So, War's taking me seriously, huh? Sent YOU to guard my pod?"

    "Eh...kinda. I was supposed to make sure you didn't wake up and start indiscriminately killing his employees."

    Nine lowered his guard.

    "Wait, so...why'd y'all capture me?"

    "We RETRIEVED you from four feet of rubble, gave you medical attention, and repaired your armor. Now quit goofing around so we can get you out of here." Manuel grabbed Nine's arm.

    "Hey! Leggo, Manny."

    "No."

    The two of them left the room, leaving one Legionnaire unconscious, and another still terrified.

    The anonyomous guard prodded his knocked out teammate. "...Unnnngh...what happened?

    "...I scared the prisoner off."
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    Manny
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on February 13th 2013, 7:08 pm

    Creepy. I'm not really a fan of Spartan IVs, so by extension neither is Manuel.

    You've done it again John. You've left me looking out the window looking for a stalker.
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    It's Kruger
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  It's Kruger on February 13th 2013, 11:46 pm

    Haha, great job John! Love it!
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    Bad John
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    Cold King.

    Post  Bad John on February 15th 2013, 1:26 am

    Manuel led Nine by the arm. Nine grunted and tugged at Manuel's grip.

    "Quit struggling."

    "Then let the fuck go." Nine hissed at Manuel like a cat on a leash. Manuel rolled his eyes, his helmet tucked under his arm.

    This embarrassing display wasn't for his amusement. It was to show the passing employees and Legionnaires what Nine was.

    An Agent Provocateur, perhaps. A Dare-Devil, sure. A warrior of the highest pedigree, absolutely.

    But above all, Nine was an ordinary man. A child at heart. Someone who took things lightly, and twisted his arm bitterly against indignity, being led by the hand like a boy.

    "Manny, I'll shoot my own arm off if need be. This is fucking embarrassing."

    "You think this is easy for ME? I'm not a nanny."

    Manuel turned away to hide a slight grin. As perverse as this was, it did have a form of amusement for him.

    Then his blood ran cold.

    "Hey Manny. What are the kids for?"

    Nine stopped tugging at his arm, as he and Manuel passed a small line of children.

    They wore grey jumpsuits. Their heads were shaved.

    Nine gave them the utmost attention as the pair passed them by.

    "Nothing. Keep moving, Freelancer." Manuel yanked Nine in front of him, and pointed his gun. "Go. Move."

    Nine looked back for a moment, the question still tickling at his brain.

    What's up with the kids?

    "We'll decomission your armor for now. War would like to speak with you in private." Manuel quickly changed the subject. "And he'd like you to NOT dole out anymore blunt force trauma to the men on his payroll."

    "...Yeah." Nine nodded, trying to forget what he'd seen.

    ...Probably school kids. Yeah. Private school kids would get a tour.

    But something about it couldn't be unseen.


    Nine sat in the small chair in front of War's desk.

    "You gave my man a concussion." War spoke quietly. No tinge of annoyance.

    That was the scariest thing about War. You can NEVER tell he's angry until it's too late.

    "...Eh. He shouldn't have been standing there, Wally." Nine placed his helmet on the table. He was wearing simple clothing provided by his gracious host. It itched, but it fit well enough.

    He ignored the unpleasantness, focusing exclusively on War.

    The old man could be a serious threat at the bat of an eyelash. Once his sword was drawn, he could kill ten Spartans before a pen dropped.

    "Thank you for disciplining my men on the importance of diligence." War smiled. "If the man you bested recovers with his full memory, he'll be sure to be a bit more...careful."

    "Why'd your men pick me up? The Freelancers probably got my Recovery Signal."

    "I wanted to speak with you, Mister Bailey." War gave Nine a broad, happy beam of approval. "It's been too long!"

    "Yeah, considering our first formal introduction ended in you hucking me down a flight of stairs after smashing my helmet."

    "HAH! That was quite a tussle. You made me sweat!" War took pride in every beat-down he'd issued the Freelancer. Sometimes, Nine had come close to wounding the tyrant. But Nine didn't know that. That made it all the sweeter.

    Nine rolled his eyes, and War decided to cut to the chase.

    "Your man...Colin. He's spreading lies about your friend Vance."

    Nine's eyes widened. "No shit? I figured Colin would be against a firing squad by now."

    "...No, no. Your friend Vance is the one in trouble with the authorities."

    Nine's eyes widened.

    "...Thanks for bringing this to my attention."

    "That's not all, Jonathan." War smiled.

    "That's not my name, Wally."

    "...Right. I forget you're of a lower breed. Simply dubbed 'John.' It must be depressing to be named in shorthand."

    That touched one of Nine's nerves.

    "...My parents gave me a good name."

    "It's one of the ONLY things they managed to give."

    "WAR." Nine beat his fist against the table, then relaxed his hand. He focused himself, attempting to refresh his mental state. "...Please, just cut to the chase. My friend is in danger."

    "Understood. You must be a bit emotionally brittle, so I won't tease you." War poured himself a glass of whiskey. "I can pardon Vance. Have my men retrieve him, good as new."

    "At a cost?" Nine leaned back in his chair.

    "I want you to volunteer for my military. Teach my men a FRACTION of your ability." War smiled. "One iota of your power would go a long way for my Spartan IV Legionnaires."

    "Why don't you teach them?"

    "Because my ability cannot be taught." War stood, and turned to the window, looking to the grey, bitter, cloudy sky. "It cannot be replicated. But you...you have an innate ability to lend strength. Confidence."

    "...I think I'll take my chances. Colin is full of shit. If you know that, then maybe some of the other higherups know it."

    War sighed.

    The deal was lost, surely. This opportunity had gone to waste.

    But.

    He could still have a little fun at Nine's expense.

    "Well, that's a shame." War turned to the door. "MANUEL. Enter."

    Manuel stepped in, fully armored, his rifle on his back. "Tell the trainers that Freelancer Agent Nine will not train the inductees."

    Manuel's brow furrowed.

    War, don't. Please. Manuel's expression remained flat, but subtle twitches clued War into his second in command's deeper thought.

    Grow up, Manuel. He'll find out sooner or later.

    "It would have done the children some good, to learn from you. You ARE their hero."

    It took a moment for Nine to process the statement. He stood up from his chair after a moment.

    There was a ringing sound in his ears. His artificial eye glitched, as his brow twisted up in confusion.

    "Children?"

    War sipped his whiskey. "Hm. Yes. What was that?"

    "...Manny, those kids I saw in the hall...They were, like, visiting for school or something, right?"

    Manuel looked away, then nodded.

    "Don't lie, Manuel." War grinned, leaning forward on the table. "Did you get a good look, Nine? They were a strong batch! They'll preform well! Much better than the model IVs."

    "...Manuel, what's going on?" Nine's expression faltered. "What are you guys using those kids for?"

    "Do I have to spell it out?" War did an outright shot of whiskey, slapping the glass cup to the table. "Don't fret over it. Stress is bad for your health."

    "...What are you doing with those kids, War?" Nine locked his attention on War, who simply grinned with satisfaction.

    "War, answer me. What are you doing with them?"

    War smiled.

    Manuel quickly decided to intervene. "Alright. Nine, come with me. This meeting is ov-"

    Nine marched towards War, and his hand bolted out, snagging War's collar. Nine brought his face close to Wars, his eyes squinted and his brow furrowed with anger. His teeth were bared, seething. Each breath shot through his clenched, white fangs, as he looked War in the eye.

    "...You..."

    Nine was at a loss for words.

    "...Yes?" War smiled, whispering back mockingly.

    "...Fucking damn you to hell. You'll burn for this..."

    War looked at Nine questioningly. His expression was that of a hurt, confused friend.

    "Well that's rude, Jonathan. Is that all you have to say?" War grinned. "If you don't mind, before you approach, FIND THE NERVE TO SPEAK, MAGGOT."

    War seized Nine's hand, and shoved him backwards. He swung his mighty boot up and into Nine's chest. The blow sent Nine straight backwards. Manuel tensed up. He could FEEL the dull, immense thump of War's foot making contact. He could hear the air leave Nine's chest as his ribs folded. But, against all odds, Nine remained standing.

    Manuel expected Nine to attack War, swinging his fists and cursing War's name. Nine considered it too.

    But Manuel watched Nine emotionally deflate. Nine's fists unclenched, and his head lowered. War chuckled mockingly, unchallenged.

    Even a Legionnaire could muster SOME sympathy for the Freelancer. Nine stared at the floor, no fight in his eyes.

    "That's ENOUGH. Nine. We're leaving."

    Manuel hooked his arms under Nine's, and dragged him away.

    War cackled as the door shut.

    "I've BEATEN him, but this time, I might have actually BROKEN the boy." War poured his whiskey, and took another gulp. "And it only took a few children."


    Nine crumpled to his knees, then sat, still staring down. His eyes were shadowed by the bill of his hat, but he appeared to be glaring at his lap.

    "Alright, John. Walter technically assaulted YOU, so I'm not going to take you in for questioning. Especially considering I saw the whole thing."

    Nine was silent, his wrists resting on his knees.

    He was recalling the children's faces. How he wanted to unsee the way they looked up to him. For help. For pity.

    He'd almost succeeded. He'd almost put it out of his head.

    "C'mon. I can get you coffee. You like coffee, Nine." Manuel felt like he was drowning. Cheering people up was not his strong suit. "Y'know. The kind that puts a spring in your step."

    Manuel reached down to help Nine up.

    "DON'T you fucking touch me."

    Manuel jerked back. Nine remained motionless.

    Manuel saw tears begin hitting his pants leg.

    "...Oh for the love of..." Manuel rolled his eyes. "Stop that. You're a grown man."

    "...I know that...fuck off..." Tears openly streamed down Nine's face. "But I'm a goddamned PARENT, Manuel..."

    Manuel silently watched.

    Weeping for kids. This is the kinda thing that makes Freelancers weak.

    Manuel was right. Nine was a warrior. An agent. A combatant of the highest calibre.

    But he was still an ordinary young man, with a lot to deal with.

    "I'll call your wife. With any luck, she's back from the field, Nine."

    Nine wiped his face with his wrist, and stood. "NO. I need to go to New York. Vance is counting on me and the others. I can't take a break now."

    Nine turned to Manuel.

    "But you can be your fucking ass that I'll be around soon. And I'm going to knock War on his ASS for this."

    Nine stormed off. "I'm taking my armor. I'm going to need transport, too."

    Ordinary man. Agent. Warrior.

    And enough depth and character to bite off way more than he should be chewing...I wonder. Freelancers might not be that weak after all. Manuel drew his TACPAD, and began his incident report.
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    Bad John
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    Back in Action.

    Post  Bad John on February 28th 2013, 1:32 am

    Linda bore her sniper rifle on her shoulder. She stood straight and tall, her hand rested casually on the safety handle of the Pelican, which violently rocked as it pitched and yawed.

    Covenant anti-air was always a bitch.

    "Alright. Here are your orders, people." Linda barked over the din of muffled plasma fire. "Jorge, you know your part. Gypsie Company is getting pressed HARD. I need you to help them dig in. Bust some heads."

    Jorge nodded, standing. His blocky, powerful, green and yellow armor seemed to fill the room. He had a terrible gravity to him before a battle.

    "Lucy, I'll need you with me. You're going to discourage the curious and keep them off my trail. You've got a damn good eye. Remember your call-outs."

    Lucy nodded, slapping a cartridge into her rifle. She licked her lips and stood, saluting Linda. "Just try to keep up, boss."

    "Maura, you're gonna punch ahead. Sew PANIC. I want the Covie battle net off of me, Lucy, and Nine."

    Maura cracked her knuckles. She had a miniaturized flame-thrower. Her cruelty towards Covenant was an asset to be reckoned with.

    "Nine, you're on Janitor Duty. Punch through while I cover you, and take out the target. EXTREME PREJUDICE. And I need it done fast so we can get to extraction. When we double back to Mark and Zimm, I want ALL of you there, people. Freelancers don't leave people behind."

    Nine stood, ready to go to work.

    The Pelican's door opened. Jorge was the first out. Maura followed closely behind. Lucy and Linda went together.

    Nine drew his magnum and jumped.
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    Bad John
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Bad John on March 1st 2013, 11:21 pm

    Nine felt Maura land behind him. The sun was blinding for a split second.

    The Spartan tensed up. Any lack of sensation could be lethal. In that hot, blinding moment, he could lose his life. He could hear plasma fire. He could feel his ankle braces distributing the shock of his landing. He could smell singed concrete, and a mixed cocktail of blood and ashes.

    Once he blinked, he could see. Grunts up the field. Jorge's booming suppression fire.

    "MOVE IT, Nine." Maura gave him a shove, and he was off.

    Nine drew his magnum and fired. His bullet hit home in the throat of a grunt, spraying purple blood.

    Nine was moving straight up the field. The grunts and jackals before him were in sheer panic.

    Five demons. Two of them were larger and heavier than the "imps" they had been fighting. These demons wore colors. Freelancer insignias.

    It was any Covie's nightmare.

    Nine had closed the distance in seconds. A grunt lost its footing in its attempt to run. Nine's fist shattered its facial features. He charged forward, his magnum blazing.

    Maura took to the field like a lion harrying hyenas. Her sheer aggression counteracted the covenant's attempts to rally.

    She charged the commanding officer elite, engaging in hand to hand before the elite could train his rifle. Her elbow swatted and bent the elite's weapon. She swung her boot up and into the elite's stomach, knocking it back.

    Then she drew her flamethrower. A liquid stream of fire lapped at the elite's shielding, then his sangheili flesh. The cool grey skin turned jet black, as he screamed his last, clawing madly at his face and chest.

    "I got things here!" Maura drew her side-arm. "Nine! Move up! Lucy, Linda, move for the buildings! Sync?"

    "SYNC!" The Spartans moved as one, Nine charging away from his allies. The hunt was on.
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    Bad John
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Bad John on March 19th 2013, 5:49 pm

    Linda settled the butt of her rifle on her shoulder. She could vaguely hear Lucy setting up a perimeter behind her.

    Lucy searched the rooftop with her knife drawn. A single, desperate jackal leaped towards her, with his claws raised high.

    Lucy planted her feet and thrust her knife forward. The blade went up through the jackal's jaw. With little effort, she tossed the alien mercenary over the edge of the roof.

    "Clear." Lucy shouldered her rifle. "What have you got for us?"

    Linda searched the streets. Jorge was holding his ground. He was having little difficulty keeping the thinning Storm forces back.

    "Vance didn't give us a report on what the Storm came here for. If they wanted resources...they would have come stronger, and attacked an industrial area." Linda lowered her rifle, and engaged her armor's binocular function. She needed a wider field of view.

    Following a trail of bodies, she spotted Maura. Her flamethrower spewed down the street and into an alley, burning alive a group of Covenant that she had cornered. Linda could see a grunt writing on the other side.

    "We should be good." Linda smiled, turning her attention to Agent Nine.

    Nine was moving into position to achieve his own objective. The building was too thick for Linda to get a round through and into the enemy VIP's skull. Nine needed to get in and get out.

    Smiling, Linda lowered her rifle.

    "Looks like we're having no trouble today." Linda smiled as she holstered her rifle. "I'll spot you, and you can take some pot shots, Five."

    Lucy brought her rifle to bare. "Sounds good. I need some practice." She immediately set to work, searching streets for enemies in and out of cover.

    F.A. 2: BOSS! We have a SERIOUS problem!!!

    Linda heard Jorge's voice. She'd seldom heard the big man sound afraid.

    "LINDA! On Maura's street! She needs cover fire NOW!"

    Linda looked up the field for Jorge as Lucy scrambled to Maura's aid. "What the hell is going on?!"

    Linda, for but a moment, lowered her rifle.

    Prometheans. Jorge was being forced to fall back. Maura was being chased by crawlers, frantically returning fire out of surprise and confusion.

    "Get the word out to Nine!"


    Stealth operations were not Nine's forte.

    His ankles peeked out of the bottom of the massive box he used for concealment. The unggoy guards suspected nothing, as the five by five foot box crept through their ranks, shuffling awkwardly forward every time they turned their backs.

    This was a true test of Nine's tact. One of the Freelancer's finest.

    Nine noticed he was being hailed on the comms. Considering his circumstances, he decided to "let it go to voicemail."

    Whatever it is, I'll handle it later. Nine lifted the box off of his shoulders, and eased himself behind a small set of stairs. Gotta get past these mooks first.

    He looked around the corner he'd backed himself into. The elite terrorist stood bold and proud, his small group of elite bodyguards standing at his sides. He gave calm, collected orders to a pair of jackals, who dutifully scurried off on their light feet.

    Nine was being hailed again.

    It can WAIT, Linda.

    Popping the pin on a grenade, he stood brought his arm back.

    "CATCH."

    With a hard throw, the grenade sliced through the air.

    Unfortunately, an elite bodyguard noticed the weapon. "BEWARE, Brother!"

    In an act of sheer valor, the elite caught the grenade in his four fingered hand, wrapping his arms around it and leaping away.

    The grenade exploded, jarring the elite leader, but leaving him mostly unharmed. The bodyguard was killed nearly instantly.

    "Demon!" The elite growled. "The holy warriors need more time to retrieve us! Stall him!"

    "Holy warriors?" Nine wondered out loud as he moved into cover. "They expecting back-up?"

    Nine aimed his pistol and fired. Three grunts dropped in a fraction of a second, as he was engaged by the second bodyguard. A golden armored elite, his sword raised high over his head.

    "KRAAAAAAAAAA!!!" The elite swung hard, but Nine was simply too fast for the skilled assault. He rolled over his shoulder, the tip of the sword missing him by inches as he rose to his feet, empty handed.

    The elite scoffed. The human intended to fight him barehanded. Many other humans, Spartans even, would be easily felled.

    Nine was no ordinary man, and no ordinary Spartan.

    With the elite's next swing, Nine moved towards the blow, exposing the elite's chest. Nine swung a metal fist into the sangheili warrior's armpit, severing the bond between bone and muscle. Nine's next blow shattered his opponent's eye socket, knuckles glancing off of the bodyguard's armored face plate. The elite stumbled back as Nine dropped to one knee, drawing his submachine gun.

    The rest was simple. With a feather of the trigger, the air was filled with submachine-gun bullets. The elite stumbled back, felled.

    "NO!!!" The remaining elite drew his sword and his plasma rifle, charging Nine. "I will earn their faith! I will not fail!!!"

    Nine raised an eyebrow. Whose faith? What's this guy talkin' about?

    The ensuing gunfight was short. The elite fired his plasma rifle, and Nine avoided each bolt, the plasma missing him as he rolled on his side, drawing both guns.

    Nine opened fire, the elite staggering back as his shields broke, and bullets riddled his good arm. The elite fell onto his side, struggling to rise and lift his sword.

    Nine aimed his magnum, walking forward slowly. "Shoulda thought this through a bit more, split lip. Attacking a residential area under Freelancer protection? Even you Storm twits should know that's a bad ide-"

    COMMUNICATIONS OVERRIDE

    Agent Nine, Return to Landing Zone for immediate extraction.

    F.A. 1: NINE! I'M PULLING US OUT NOW! GET OUT OF THERE! Prometheans are swarming the City Center!

    "...Prometheans?"

    Nine felt the sudden weight of a small car landing beside him. He turned somewhat fearfully, as a Promethean Knight stared him in the face.

    Its faceplate peeled open, and its skull glared in his face.

    "...Their faith is restored." The elite stood. "PRAISE TO THE DIDACT!"

    A single knight seized the Sangheili general, and disappeared into a slit of time and space, leaving only a blue outline.

    The elite facing Nine swung its arm, and Nine, flabergasted by the monstrosity, did nothing to avoid the attack. The blow took him full and hard in the chest, sending him hurtling backwards and against a wall.

    Nine drew his guns, coughing and aiming.

    The Knight's faceplate assembled a halo of targeting computation. Nine's eyes widened with terror as the Lancer's gun, a long, jagged weapon, trained itself on him, a red dot lighting Nine's chest.

    "FUCK ME!!!" Nine strafed to the side, the shot missing. The Binary Rifle. Lethal in one hit, Spartan or not. The bullet pierced the wall behind Nine, clear through to the outside.

    Nine aimed and fired both weapons. The knight's shields held fast, as the Knight aimed to fire again.

    Nine activated his HardLight Shield. The trusty Aegis deflected the bullet, but not without nearly spraining Nine's wrist with sheer concussive force.

    "YOU WANT SOME OF THIS?!" Nine aimed his guns and emptied both clips. The knight stumbled back, as he reloaded.

    With a grim hiss, the knight readied its feet, lifting its blade. The air around it shifted.

    It's CHARGING. Move NOW.

    The Knight lurched forward, disappearing and reappearing, as its feet scratched the marble floor, throwing shards of tile waist high. In an instant, the beast was in Nine's face.

    An angry ghost, given life only to brutalize its fellow man. Nine narrowly avoided its blade.

    Nine grabbed hold of the Knight's binary rifle. He was where he needed to be. Up close. His elbow slammed the Knight's faceplate, giving him a clear shot at the skull. He tore the binary rifle free, and shouldered it, firing one shot.

    The Knight fell away, its body flaking away.

    Nine panted, dropping the spent rifle to the ground.

    He felt a strong hand on his shoulder. Turning in panic, he lifted his hand to strike.

    Jorge. "C'mon! We're getting out of here! We need to regroup at the LZ!"

    "What about the Target?"

    "Someone else can handle it. It's fine. You managed to wound him, so the Legion will follow his trail!"

    Nine and Jorge watched as Knights spawned from thin air, Crawlers barking and leaping across rooftops.

    They'd done all they could. Now was the time to flee.


    The Elite picked bullets from his armor. His arm was damaged beyond field repair by Agent Nine's bullets, but he'd achieved his goal. This attack was a show of faith.

    The Didact was willing to back their struggle against the humans. For that blessing to be given, blood needed to be shed. His blood, and more importantly, the blood of the humans.

    BRAM.

    The elite flinched away from an explosion. Human ordinance. The blast sent the Promethean Knight responsible for saving his life onto the pavement. The Knight struggled to rise, as a volley of bullets put an end to its lifetime.

    "Excuse me. This is human property."

    The elite raised his blade, but the human demon was far too fast. With a swing of his hand, the blade was sent clattering away.

    A strange, three pronged blade was quickly produced from the Spartan's hands as if through magic. The elite simply couldn't keep up with his speed and lethality. The Trident lanced through the elite's chest.

    "Gah..."

    Manuel smiled, pulling the trident free. "You should have let the Freelancers kill you. I guarantee this will hurt."

    Manuel removed his helmet, and holstered his trident. The elite looked up at his wrathful grin. His eyes seemed to glow red in the mid-day sun.

    "Black Guard."

    Manuel snapped his fingers.

    "Eat."

    From the shadows, they crawled. Pulling off face masks and helmets, their dripping maws gnashed, teeth clopping and saliva dripping to the floor.

    The last thing the elite saw was the fire eyed Spartan looking down at him.

    The last thing he felt was teeth.
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    Manny
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 20th 2013, 12:28 am

    They lost the residential area? All those humans... They must be avenged.
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    Bad John
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    Outpaced.

    Post  Bad John on March 22nd 2013, 1:57 pm

    "Hustle, big guy. We're almost at the LZ." Nine looked left and right, deciding the area was clear. He walked with both of his guns in hand, his fists clenched but his fingers off the trigger.

    Jorge clomped along behind him, scanning the area with his hazel eyes narrow, deep in thought.

    "What're the Prometheans doing here? Requiem was vaporized." Jorge growled. "I HATE prometheans."

    "They're probably still under SOMEONE'S command. Maybe the Covenant managed to reign them in, even though their boss is dead." Nine holstered his guns. "Looks like we're clear. We can ease up a bit."

    "Like hell I'm easing up. Stay sharp. That's an order." Jorge seemed more tense now than ever. Prometheans were indeed frightening foes. They even had the old Spartan II titan on edge.

    "Whatever, Jorge." Nine drew his magnum, but did nothing to correct his posture or seem "frosty."

    "Maybe the Didact is alive." Jorge was trepid in his phrasing.

    "Bullshit. We saw what happened to the boat he was on. Chief detonated a fuggin' WARHEAD."

    "That's not the way he told me it happened." Jorge mounted his turret on his back. The Covenant remnants in the area were in hiding, or had escaped to the outskirts of the city. If anyone remained, they would either be in hiding or out of dodge.

    "He talks?" Nine chortled.

    Jorge rolled his eyes, removing his helmet. "While being debriefed, John told his commanding officers in detail what happened. I just happened to palm the files for Bailey and make a copy."

    "Why wasn't I informed?"

    "Because you were in the hospital. Your fight went...a lot more painfully than his did, if you recall." Jorge patted Nine on the shoulder, and Nine shrugged the hand off coldly.

    "Just tell me what happened."

    "It went down like this. Chief was going to be killed, but Cortana managed to turn the tables. Chief took the chance to knock the Didact off the Light Bridge they were on. The Didact fell away from the planet, and into what appeared to be a slipsace portal. It's POSSIBLE he avoided the ensuing explosion...but not likely."

    "Impossible. Nobody survives something like that." Nine grunted, staring up at Jorge.

    Jorge merely smiled. "Chief did."

    "Fuck off." Nine turned his back and kept walking.

    "So did you, when I think about it. Who was it that threw the remains of High Charity into the SUN?"

    "...Yeah, people do tend to survive bad odds, huh?" Nine mused at the possibility of the Didact's survival. It was a fair explanation for the events of today.

    Jorge, on the other hand, reflected on his own life. "I survived TERRIBLE odds. I still owe your squad."

    "Don't mention it, block-head."

    "Whatever, Fish-Bowl." Let's just hope the Didact is dead, Nine. C'mon. Let's get the hell out of this City."

    The two Spartans continued along, making idle conversation. The battle had ended in a stalemate.

    It's better to break even than to lose.
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    Manny
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 23rd 2013, 12:23 pm

    "It's better to break even than to lose"?

    NEVER.

    Go big or go home!
    You got to be in it to win it!
    Take no prisoners!
    FOR THE MOTHERLAND!
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    Bad John
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    Breaking Points.

    Post  Bad John on March 24th 2013, 2:02 am

    Six fingers flexed, curling around the seat of a whirring, purple throne.

    His armor slowly fastened itself as he stood. He worked his neck muscles slowly, stretching each tendon. The augmentations, and repairs, to his body, had taken quite a bit of time to set.

    He may be one of the only Forerunners left. It pays to take it easy, once in a while.

    Burning Ash of Determined Stars. The only remaining true, Full Rate Promethean of the Didact's forces. The Forerunners rarely smiled, but he afforded himself a simple, quickly fading smirk. He was back at his full potential.

    With his newfound strength came a tinge of anger and regret, however.

    Ash held his incineration cannon tightly, releasing a volley of cannon fire from his shoulder mounted gun. The blast was successful, sending shards of the humans Scorpion Tanks, flying each direction.

    The attack had done worse to the lower class warriors, disintegrating them in one volley.

    Despite his glory in combat, he'd fallen.

    The door to his quarters opened slowly.

    "Did they take the bait?" Ash gently inspected his armor.

    Turl, his most loyal Sangheili ward, bowed. His face, wounded though it was, missing one of his four jaws, was still with reverence.

    The two of them shared something in common. They'd both been maimed by the same human.

    Promethean Knights phase shifted around Ash, as he bellowed laughter, pointing a single finger forward.

    Far across the field of battle, beyond the corpses of the fallen humans and Covenant, beyond scraps and pieces of broken Crawlers and Watchers, stood one man, mounted on the back of one of their primitive vehicles.

    Not the green destroyer. Not the blue and red fleet admiral.

    Ash's smallest rival glared at him from across the battlefield, pointing one accusatory, challenging finger back.

    I'm coming for YOU.

    "The local human forces immediately responded to my forces, and were pushed back by your own. We pulled out before any significant losses could be incurred."

    Ash smiled. "The humans were...phased, by my forces. The Storm took it as a display of my Master's faith. They risked their lives, and the Prometheans aided them in their time of need." Ash smiled. "Even their...Freelancers fear us now."

    Freelancers.

    The foolish. Altruists who believed their small numbers could make a difference. Well meaning, but too weak for the Mantle.

    All humans are.

    The small one had torn through countless Prometheans, leading a charge the likes of which Ash had NEVER seen.

    Such courage. Such precision. Lightning fast reaction time. The ability to avoid point blank attacks, and retaliate with INSTANT death.

    But he wasn't perfect. The damage to the little one's body showed. Tears in his armor. Dents in the seemingly invincible plating. The parts that mattered were holding admirably.

    It gave him a look of grim character. His combat skin was beautiful, in its own way.

    It was time for Ash to engage himself. For HONOR. He would destroy this human to give his legacy a fair, meaningful end.

    "They're on our trail, just as you predicted." Turl reported, motioning to his minions.

    Ash chuckled. "Good. How could they not be?" He turned and glanced at the creatures being dragged in by Turl's brutes.

    Human scientists. Stolen from their homes on the human planet.

    "I trust the Freelancers are sending their combat agents to rescue these." Turl raised his brow. "I'll have the Servants hide them somewhere...obvious. Some of the Freelancers are hilariously predictable."

    Ash held the Human's throat. The little one had fought hard, but the field was his. The humans could only watch helplessly, as the life was throttled out of their Captain.

    The Scanner, a personal watcher, drew close, and stared the human in the eyes. It scanned his helmet, the waves of information coalescing through his helmet.

    Beaten physically, the human's mind was raped. His most personal memories, his highest highs, his lowest lows, and his hardest won victories, were now Ash's. He read the little one's memories.

    STOP

    Blinding. Something burned through the Promethean's mind like a blade. Some DEFENSE. He could never account for a Geas. Built for one purpose. To stun him. To deny him information.

    The Librarian.

    Tables turned quickly.

    The human looked up, fire in his eyes and a grenade in his hand.

    The little Spartan drew an energy sword in the other.

    "Don't underestimate him." Ash growled.

    He lowered his head, then looked to Turl.

    "He robbed you of your pride, did he not? Underdogs must always be feared."

    Ash clutched his damaged chest. His face was burned.

    There was a broad, smoking bite taken out of his stomach from the human's SECOND trump card. Steaming cuts in his limbs.

    His left hand stung painfully. Something was terribly wrong with it.

    The little one fared worse. Ash had managed to strike him through the smoke. He was motionless on the ground, his blue visor staring straight up.

    Ash reached out, his now four fingered left hand reaching for the human.

    DIE.

    It was too late. Heavy caliber bullets peppered the area around him.

    More human champions. Freelancers.

    The largest provided devastating supporting fire. Prometheans felled by primative, LOWBORN human weaponry.

    More little spartans rallied to drag their friend away.

    Robbed of victory.

    USELESS to the Didact.

    Wounded.

    Armor broken.

    Forces defeated.

    Ash lowered his head, and disappeared before the humans.

    He would not be CAPTURED as well.

    "Underdogs must be treated as EQUALS. Only then can they be dealt with." Ash turned away.

    The Freelancer flagship, the Proud Mary, approached.

    "Prepare for boarders."
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    Manny
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 24th 2013, 2:08 pm

    Mental rape?

    Hawt.
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    Bad John
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    Assault.

    Post  Bad John on March 24th 2013, 4:45 pm

    The ride was smooth for the most part. Nine and his small team were standing, preparing their weapons.

    Nine screwed a silencer onto the front of his submachine gun, and looked up. It was time to brief his group. New to leadership, he preferred the long story short.

    "Alright, guys. We're taking a page from the Covie's play book." Nine watched as Sanford, Vance, Deimos, and Andrew prepared their weapons. "Pop quiz. How did the Covenant Loyalists take down the Malta and Cairo Defense Stations over Earth?"

    "Bombs?" Andrew loaded a grenade launcher round into his rifle.

    "Yup. Bombs." Nine hefted a football sized device, tucking it under his arm. "The Proud Mary is going to stay safely out of reach, peppering that Flagship with all she's got. We're going to use the diversion to get in, and..."

    "Plant the bomb." Sanford toted a modified DMR. It was his weapon of choice, despite warnings that it would be unwieldy in close quarters.

    "Yup. It's not a nuke. It won't blow the lid off their ship, but it'll be just enough to destabilize the enemy ship's defenses. Then the Admiral will move the ship in, and Mary will REALLY let'em have it."

    Vance finished loading his shotgun. "This sounds like a job for an infiltration expert."

    Nine smiled, and pressed his thumb to his chest plate. "You're looking at one."

    Andrew and Vance took a long look at each-other. Andrew decided to speak up, breaking the awkward silence.

    "No offense, John, but your stealth scores are terrible."

    "Infiltration and stealth are two different things." Nine felt slightly insulted.

    "No they're not. They're almost the same thing. If a round hits that bomb, won't it depressurize the part of the ship you're in? It'd probably vaporize you too." Andrew looked at the bomb. "It's a standard ship cracking mine, but you're gonna need to be careful with it."

    "Hey, Andrew." Nine leaned in close to his Spartan IV comrade. "Shut the fuck up."

    "...Whatever. If YOU'RE not worried, I won't worry."

    Deimos rested his chin on the butt of his gun, his helmet in the seat beside him. "Now I'M kind of worried."
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    Bomb Taken.

    Post  Bad John on March 25th 2013, 12:10 am

    "Sorry I didn't pick up my chatter, babe." Nine lifted his cheap chatter device. "Damn thing has a faulty battery. I didn't get your messages until I plugged it in."

    "That's fine. Throw it out and get Bailey to buy you a new one." Lucy sounded distant. Deep in thought.

    Nine approached cautiously. He was pleased to feel the hand on his shoulder accepted, rather than brushed off. She placed her hand on it.

    "What happens if we die?"

    Nine wanted desperately to give a flippant answer. Spartan heaven?

    "...Our kid'd be in good hands. You know that."

    Lucy stared out the window. "Maybe she'd be in better hands with Bailey. I don't want our life for Iola." Lucy stood, Nine's hand falling back to his side. "Losing half our childhood friends. Making enemies of every species. The cost of failure being death."

    "We don't know that it'll be that way." Nine tucked his hand into his pocket. "She might wanna be an attorney."

    "She reminds me of you." Lucy smiled. "And you'd be the shittiest attorney on the planet." Lucy approached, wrapping her arms around Nine's neck. His hands remained in his pockets.

    "Yeah. I'm terrible at arguing."

    Nine's index finger crept up her belly button, lifting her shirt ever slowly.

    Her hand caught his finger. She bit it, smiling.

    Her husband frowned, defeated. "Case in point. Motion to appeal?"

    The brutes watching the hanger were seething.

    Humans. Action. Combat. Just beyond their reach. If they could leap across the boundaries of space to engage the humans, they would do so without hesitation.

    Thoom BOOM BRAMMmmmmm.

    Cannons boomed. Shielding sparked. The human ship was opening fire.

    Energy shielding held. It was a pair of Gods exchanging jabs. A slap fight, scaled up by millions of tonnes.

    Their Chieftain had a heightened battle sense. He'd been in this type of fight before. Where all you can do is patch broken parts, man turrets, and pray that your ship makes the right choices, and has the thicker hide.

    But then he saw the dropship. Silently screaming through enemy fire. Moving towards their hanger. Boarders.

    The fight had changed. "PREPARE YOURSELVES!"

    The brutes misunderstood the order. Not reaching for their weapons, they stirred to their feet.

    The Pelican hurtled in, stopping on a dime. Human vehicles had taken a lesson in handling.

    Human demons, the Boarding Team, dropped to the floor, their weapons drawn.

    "FREELANCERS! ATTACK!"

    "Watch out for Brute weapons! Your shields are no good against the pierce-through!"

    "Fan out!"

    "Clear out the whole place! Gang up on the Chieftain!"

    Nine felt the footsteps of his teammates.

    Vance was getting in close to the brutes in the south corner.

    Andrew moved behind a crate. He was aiming his grenade launcher.

    Deimos was readying his battle rifle, backing up beneath the retreating pelican. He only had seconds before the brutes readied their weapons and opened fire. GET OUT OF THE OPEN. Nine didn't have time to issue a verbal warning.

    Sanford had made a good move. He was out of sight. Nine could already head his gun going off.

    Nine was up close and personal with a brute. The jiralhanae minor intended to face him barehanded. Nine intended to prove that it was a big mistake.

    His fist came up in a flash. His knuckles twisted, biting into the brute's teeth, sending flecks of shattered fang down the brute's throat. Nine drew his knife, and swung it. The blade pierced through the brute's neck, and Nine moved away, letting the wounded brute had its dying moments.

    Andrew moved into positon, firing his grenade. The burst eliminated two brutes, sending boxes flying. Plasma pistols littered the ground.

    Nine scooped one up, drawing his magnum. With both hands armed, he opened fire.

    Vance roared with effort as he swung the butt of his gun, smashing a brute to the ground. He pinned it with his boot, and fired. Brain matter muddied the floor. He lifted his shotgun and fired again.

    Deimos had fortunately moved to cover. His battle rifle pepered a pair of brutes as they raised their weapons, returning spiker fire.

    He moved behind cover. "I need support here!"

    Nine was two steps ahead. He leapt from a tall box, his boots slamming down on the left brute's shoulder. Nine rolled away as the brute hit the floor. His plasma pistol and magnum came up and fired. The firing cadence was easily mastered, the recoil suppressed, each shot on target. The standing brute was backed up, burned, and perforated, falling to one knee, then finished with a bullet to the head.

    "GAH!" Nine's head turned. He heard Sanford scream in pain. Spiker rounds pierced his armor, throwing him backwards. The Chieftain had joined the fray, and had more than enough armor to withstand DMR bullets.

    The mighty Jiralhanae lifted his arm, a spiker in hand. He hurled the weapon with all his might.

    "DENIED." Nine moved in front, activating his hard light shield. The grenade was bounced back towards the Chieftain, who leaned to the side. The spike grenade sailed past, exploding without doing anyone major harm.

    Nine engaged, his guns holstered. The Chieftain aimed a brute shot. It's been a while since I've seen one of those.

    Nine moved away from Sanford. Attracting fire towards him would put him in a bad spot, and the Chieftain was interested in lively prey. Nine avoided the shots with relative ease. The first passed over his head. Nine avoided the second like a dodgeball.

    The Chieftain aimed down, intent on maiming Nine's legs. The shot travelled towards Nine, as he activated his hardlight shield. The shot bounced back, and nearly struck the brute himself.

    A shotgun went off, and the brute stumbled forward. Vance fired again, but the brute's armor held, and he kept his footing. Andrew made his strike, leaping onto the Chieftain's back and cramming his knife in.

    The brute tugged at Andrew, and quickly broke his grip, tossing Andrew to the floor. The Spartan was still too fast, avoiding a potentially lethal stomp. He rolled forward, getting to his feet and avoiding the blade of a brute shot. Nine moved in close, thrusting his knee into the brute's chest. He backed up, the brute's clawed retaliation nearly slashing his throat. He leaned back, feeling the wind of the brute's claws.

    Enraged, the brute leaped forward, raising his fists and throwing away his brute shot. The callused, clawed fists missed their mark, as Nine sidestepped the massive swing. Nine blocked the second attack. Swinging a low kick, he tripped the brute, knocking it down.

    "CATCH!" Vance activated, and tossed a grenade. The blue, burning plasma grenade latched onto the floor just before the brute's face. Nine and Andrew got clear just in time.

    The blast blew the brute's head off.

    Sanford groaned, spikes jutting from his grey armor. He painfully reached for one in his thigh, attempting to pull it out.

    Nine ran to him, sliding in front of him. "DEIMOS! Bio foam!'

    "Got it! Don't die on me, bro." Deimos tended to Sanford carefully. "You never wanna pull'em out fast. Leaves too much debris. I'll handle ya."

    Vance looked to Nine, narrow eyed. "We'll keep the hangar clear. You need to get moving on planting the bomb."

    "Don't make too much noise." Andrew grunted, reloading his rifle. "And hurry."

    "If you lose the hanger, call the Pelican and get out. I'll find another ride." Nine unlatched the bomb from his back, holding it more carefully.

    "If there ain't any banshees, can you fly a phantom?" Deimos carefully worked a spike round from Sanford's leg. Nine merely shrugged.

    "Well, I'll let you know if I need to take the express elevator."

    Vance looked around. "The hell's the 'express elevator?'"

    "I hope you don't have to find out." Nine began his journey into the ship.

    Ash stretched his arms and legs, arming his weaponry. "He'll go for the reactor. Make his trip...RELATIVELY unhindered. I want to have a word with our friend."

    Turl nodded obediently. "Understood. Make him suffer, Forerunner."
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 25th 2013, 9:15 pm

    Bad John wrote:
    Lucy sounded distant. Deep in thought.

    Nine approached cautiously. He was pleased to feel the hand on his shoulder accepted, rather than brushed off. She placed her hand on it.

    "What happens if we die?"

    Nine wanted desperately to give a flippant answer. Spartan heaven?

    "...Our kid'd be in good hands. You know that."

    Lucy stared out the window. "Maybe she'd be in better hands with Bailey. I don't want our life for Iola." Lucy stood, Nine's hand falling back to his side. "Losing half our childhood friends. Making enemies of every species. The cost of failure being death."
    The Legion works towards providing for all humans. The Legion fights for a better tomorrow. The Legion fights for our children.

    Wow, that should be an ad of some sort.

    ANYWAYS, that was heartfelt. I never really stopped to imagine that situation. I never really knew if had crossed Lucy or John's mind.

    The life of a Spartan is not an easy one. Perhaps that is why Spartans don't usually have relations. To avoid conflicts like this: duty to child, or duty to humanity?


    Last edited by Manny on March 25th 2013, 11:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Bad John
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Bad John on March 25th 2013, 10:29 pm

    Yeah. I'm trying to explore deeper parts of the character's conflicts in the off panel stuff. Thanks for noticing. Very Happy
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    Eden.

    Post  Bad John on March 26th 2013, 1:36 pm

    Yet another hot day on the plains. Lying in the shade, absorbing the heat, a young woman snored aloud, heedless of her surroundings.

    Chewed corn cobs were strewn about. Her healthy, shining green hair was splayed in all directions around her head, some of the longer strands over her eyes.

    Multitudes of creatures slept in, stalked, and played on the trees around the clearing in which she slept. Normally scattered, or preying on one another, they gathered, keeping a safe distance.

    They were awaiting her command. Any vocalization would be heeded by all links in the immense food chain.

    But the master of the beasts, for now, was content to remain asleep.

    She stirred, but kept her eyes shut, as she felt footsteps approach. Her ears lightly twitched as she prepared for any sudden noise.

    God only knew one was coming.

    "BOUNTY~!"

    Her younger sister had a very annoying habit of shouting. Bounty remained stationary, refusing to acknowledge Life.

    Just a few more steps.

    "Bounty! Wake up!" Life had nothing urgent for Bounty's attention. She simply wanted someone to walk and talk with. She was the least of her sisters, in terms of practical power, but she made up for it with her boundless friendliness.

    This trait, unfortunately, bred constant loneliness. Need for stimulation.

    "Bounty?" Life stepped forward again. Her short, light hair bobbed at her cheeks as she looked down at her older sister.

    One more step. The corners of Bounty's mouth shook for a moment, as she resisted the urge to grin.

    "Bounty, are you okay?" Life took one more trepid step forward.

    Now.

    "KRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!" Bounty was on her feet in an instant, her arms raised high over her head and her teeth bared. Her robes, a simple shirt and pants, grass stained and tattered through constant exercise and exploration, waved menacingly as shook her arms. Her pupils sharpened, her eyes glowing to imitate the irises of a tiger at night.

    Life produced a small, terrified yelp, falling backwards.

    Bounty lowered her arms and smiled. Her sister, skittish and smaller, ever trusting, never failed to fall for that ancient practical joke.

    Life resisted the urge to burst into tears.

    "Aw, don't be a child." Bounty walked on the balls of her feet, and crouched beside Life, who wiped her eyes.

    "You do that all the time. You're mean."

    Bounty reached into the grass, tearing up several blades in her palm. With her breath, the blades of grass turned a deep, vibrant, saturated blue. She waved her hand, and the blades tied themselves, end by end. The result was a beautiful, natural necklace. Bounty placed it over her sister's head.

    Bounty smiled at her handiwork, and Life seemed to brighten up. "Sorry sister. Come." Bounty stood, and offered her hand. The two walked off, leaving the clearing.

    Neither knew the meeting that fate had in store.
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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 26th 2013, 9:59 pm

    If Life felt like crying because of a practical joke, she must have been sobbing when the Horsemen attacked them.

    Anyways I look forward to seeing how Nine fits into their plans. If he does that is.
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    Bomb Armed.

    Post  Bad John on March 27th 2013, 1:18 am

    I imagine she was mostly a frightened wreck, and Bounty had to do most of the actual fighting with Health and Peace backing her up.

    It'd be a war of attrition, but with Bounty's powers (In my portrayal she can manipulate plant growth dramatically, sharpen foliage into steel-like weaponry, has heightened senses and strength, etc), it'd be a pretty powerful clash if Bounty tried her very hardest.

    But against Death, Pestilence, and Famine, anyone would be doomed to failure. Pestilence can be in multiple places at once, Death can retain mortal wounds and continue fighting (among other abilities, perhaps even calling upon the dead(?) as thralls), and Famine at his toughest, anyone would be doomed to defeat.

    Anyway NEW CHAPTER.


    An elite issued his final death rattle, falling to the floor among his compatriots. Nine crouched, claiming the fallen warrior's fuel rod gun, wiping blood from the handle as he reloaded the weapon.

    "I knew I'd have to fight for this objective." Nine stood, the bomb under his arm and the fuel rod gun on his shoulder. "At least I haven't wasted too much time."

    Nine stepped up this his next challenge. A holographic lock.

    A few years ago, he would have needed an A.I., or to call the issue in to the mission coordinatior.

    Years older, years wiser. Nine holstered his fuel rod gun, the magnet clicking on his back. It was a heavy weapon, but he carried it on his back with no effort. Spartans were human work-horses. If carrying a steel girder or lifting a jeep was no problem WITHOUT his armor, neither was anything else.

    Nine's right hand worked. He purposefully avoided the use of his pinkey finger, imitating the four fingered hand of a Sangheili. Colors flashed and warped at his touch, as his eyes watched each symbol with cold interest.

    A satisfying chirp signalled victory. The door opened.

    Nine stepped into a large, blue, humming room. A Covenant Engine room. He was on the third floor, where the coolant filtered down.

    "Gotta get down to the first." Nine grumbled. He hated the use of gravity lifts. Damn things'll give me CANCER one day.

    Fortunately, a very kind soul intended to help him down those levels in no time at all.

    Nine turned just in time to avoid the happy, glowing blade of Turl's sword.

    "JEEZUS." Nine sidestepped, and leaned back away from another slash.

    "Stand STILL."

    Nine's left arm was occupied by the bomb. He risked LOSING his right arm if he defended. He stepped back and away from each swing, as Turl drew ever closer.

    "Quarter Jaw!" Nine smiled as he ducked a slash, moving under Turl's arm to avoid a stab. Nine and Turl were toe to toe on the walk way, the only sounds were Turl's heavy, grunting breaths, and their heavy footsteps.

    Turl's feet imposingly stamped into place, assuming wide legged stances, as his muscles shifted, swinging the blade with terrifying speed.

    Nine's feet clattered and planted, light and rarely resting their heels.

    He drew his pistol and fired. Turl moved his head to avoid the bullets. Mother FUCKER he's been practicing.

    Turl swung his sword, forcing Nine to lift his gun, narrowly avoiding its destruction. He stepped back with each slash. He shifted the grip of his magnum, and stepped forward. With a powerful swing, he smashed the hand guard of his magnum against Turl's ribs in an unexpected blow. Keep fighting John! KEEP FIGHTING!

    Turl swung his arm over Nine's, barring his elbow. He readied his blade, prepared to lance it down and into the trapped Spartan's chest.

    Nine snaked his arm, painfully rolling the socket. With a pop, he reversed the situation, turning and throwing Turl over his hip. The Sangheili rolled to his feet, fuming.

    "YOU FORGET YOUR PLACE."

    Nine and Turl both turned, startled by the sudden voice.

    The blood drained from Nine's face.

    It's him

    The Promethean raised his hand, and both Turl and Nine were blown off the walkway.

    Turl flew out of sight, as the Freelancer desperately tried to keep track of his enemies while soaring downward.

    His shoulder hit the ground first. He felt the bomb tumble away and free from his grip as he rolled, his hip slamming the ground second. Nine clawed the purple, metal walkway, as he nearly slid off of it. His arms barely found purchase, as he dangled off the walkway.

    He heard heavy boots landing nearby.

    "Primitive toys." Ash bent down, claiming the bomb. "Did you REALLY think this TOY would buy you victory?"

    "Yep. You were just rude enough to show up uninvited." Nine grunted as he lifted himself onto the walkway.

    Ash lifted his hand. He had no tractor beam, like the Didact, but his repulser was more than enough to jar the lights out of a Spartan. "Make your move, boy."

    "...Who says I need to move? I just got one thing to say to you."

    Ash waited, intrigued.

    "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo. Oscar Foxtrot Foxtrot."

    The bomb clicked, and a red light came on. Ash had little time to react, but he made the correct decision. Throwing the bomb away, and activating his heavy shielding.

    The blast, triggered by Nine's audio command, jarred Ash and surrounded him in smoke. Nine felt the ship's stabilizers pop. The sounds of shielding failing surrounded him.

    F.A. Command: Agent Nine, the rest of the Assault Team is pulling out! The shields are down! Do you have an exit? Over.

    F.A. 9: NEGATIVE! Fire anyway! I'll find a way off!

    Nine shouted the command as he moved for his fuel rod gun.

    The smoke burst aside, as Ash stomped forward. He swung his hand, the air around him tearing. Nine seized the fuel rod gun before he was jarred aside by the blast of changing atmosphere, thrown onto his side, sliding away.

    Nine rolled onto his side and fired the fuel rod. Ash was gone in a flash, phase shifting a safe distance away.

    "WATCHERS. Hold him down!" Ash pointed his finger, and dark tears fell from the air, orange faced, hovering creatures appearing at his command. Their hateful stares locked onto Nine, as he prepared himself.

    "So, you're the only Forerunner LEFT, and all you have to do with your time is mad-dog random foot soldiers?!" Nine aimed his magnum and fired, blasting two of the watchers into pieces. "You're PATHETIC."

    "Your words can't hurt me." Ash spoke simply, and matter of factly. "Had Turl not interfered, you would have been captured long before now. Even now, you're helpless."

    Nine aimed his fuel rod and fired, as Ash leaped down to face him. In a blue flash, the fuel rods were reflected to the sides. "Your WEAPONS can't reach me either, little one."

    Nine was immediately set upon. Ash's arm came down, nearly smashing his head off. He aimed his fuel rod, and Ash slashed its barrel, knocking it off target. The Promethean bore down on him with bare handed strikes, Nine avoiding and blocking by sheer luck. He was dwarfed in size and life experience.

    A single hand smacked his collarbone, rending Nine to his feet.

    A single knee knocked him onto his back.

    A single Watcher fired a trio of blue tractor beams, holding his left arm and both legs in place.

    And Ash lifted his single boot, prepared to stomp Nine into submission.

    Nine lifted the fuel rod and fired.


    The shipp shook, parts blasted off and rendered useless. Turl rushed to the piloting bay. "That FOOL. He risked our whole SHIP! I HAD HIM!" Turl growled, as he opened the cabin.

    "Master Turl! The Freelancers are opening fire! Our weapons are offline, as are our shields!"

    "Do we have the power for a jump?" Turl was met by the pilot with a nod yes.

    "Detach the aft section, and siphon power from the secondary core. We're leaving the engine and the cargo behind."

    "But sir, we'll lose Lord Ash's half of the sh-"

    "He will survive. Do it." Turl turned away.

    He hoped otherwise.


    Nine dusted himself off, his armor singed. The Fuel Rod gun had malfunctioned. Ash was nowhere to be seen, but the blast had spared Nine a stomping.

    His boots suddenly stopped touching the floor, as he rushed out of the core room.

    Nine felt the cabin depressurize. He scraped at the floor, as his suit's emergency air supply kicked in.

    Fuck. I'm about to get SPACED. Nine growled, his eyes nearly shutting. Don't lose consciousness. GRAB SOMETHING.

    Nine looked up, forcing himself to stay aware. His gravity boots latched onto the hull, and he looked for where he needed to go.

    The entire aft section had been drained of power, opened, and cut off from the main ship. Nine could see less fortunate grunts and brutes and elites flailing their last movements, as they were frozen and choked by uncaring, unfeeling space.

    ...I got fifteen minutes of air. That'll get be back to the Mary if I put down a recovery beacon. At least I ditched Ash.

    Hurtling towards him was an orange and silver clawing mass.

    Oh fuck. Ash slammed into him, his shoulder digging into Nine's stomach. He felt a rib break.

    "BRAF" Blood spewed from Nine's mouth, as the two of them were sucked through the hallway and out into the black curtain of space.

    Ash's claws wrapped around Nine's throat as they plummeted away from the ship. Nine could only see the obstinate face of his enemy's combat skin. He could only hear himself choking.

    Fuck...goddammit... Nine reached for something. Anything.

    As if by miracle, his hand latched onto something familiar. A gun.

    Nine stuffed the muzzle against Ash's chest.

    A concussion rifle. Finally. A lucky break.

    Nine squeezed the trigger, and the blast nearly wrenched his arm from the socket. He was pushed away, as Ash grew smaller in his hazy vision, clutching his belly where the shot had hit home.

    Note to self...redefine "lucky break."

    Nine was alone. Hurtling towards a planet.

    Goddammit Vance...

    Nine felt the air grow hot. He watched as debris from the crumpling aft section of the ship fell around him. He was RE-ENTERING atmosphere, and he didn't know if his lighter, Generation 2 armor could take it.

    Looks like I get to take the Express Elevator after all.


    Health silently grinded flowers into her bowl. She had a rare smile on her face, her clothing discarded. She needed complete sterility to work. Her clothing was covered in germs and chemicals.

    The weather was just right. The temperature would neither offend nor stifle her work. The pollen and whisps of light and sound would give the mixture a locational character that she could work to recreate the next day. She enjoyed order. Routine. Purpose.

    The white haired, gentle creature rarely talked, or expressed anything other than dutiful focus, but for all her love of order, making new, unpredictable salves and medicines did interest her. Crafting the unknown out of nothing but natural sources.

    Then, the piercing noise reached her. She had the fastest reaction time of her sisters, a living computer in many ways. Her cold blue eyes darted up towards the sky, the leaves of the trees above her blocking her view.

    Burning streaks crowded the sky, leaving trails of purple flame.

    Health remained silent. Her smile had long faded into the taciturn, distant expression of a career nurse. She gave her lip a quick, nervous bite. No other part of her showed any doubt or fear. Only observation.

    Peace won't like that. She'll look for our little sisters. Health lowered her head, and continued grinding. Bounty is brave. She will investigate the first thing that lands nearest to her, and Life will cling to Bounty, following her. No matter the outcome, it will be best for me to go soon.

    Health dipped her tongue into the green mixture.

    Just right. She set the bowl down, threw on her coat, pulled on her pants, tied back her hair, and began walking.
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    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Bad John on March 27th 2013, 7:02 pm

    Heian Planet Surface. Twenty minutes after Agent touchdown.

    Bounty hefted three wide buckets of water with each hand. She was fortunate the object had landed so near a lake, and that the trees had wide leaves that she could fasten into containers. She tossed each bucket carefully, putting out small fires as Life watched cautiously.

    "Sister, what do you suppose landed here?"

    "I don't care. We'll deal with the smaller objects first, then we'll investigate."

    Purple hunks of metal spread the flames. In a few minutes she had completed her task. Animals were giving the area wide berth, although they loyally awaited Bounty's call.

    Life bent down and lifted a small shard of purple metal. "It's very pretty."

    "If another falls, it could do real damage to the ecosystem. I must plant more trees tomorrow." Bounty turned to Life, annoyed. "But it's a good thing something so destructive is also pretty. Sometimes you get on my nerves."

    Life threw away the shard. After Bounty's comment, it lost its appeal. She folded her arms and looked away sharply, clearly angry, but without the wherewithal to retaliate in a meaningful way.

    ...I'll check the crater. Life decided. Not only would it benefit the duo, but it would make Bounty angry to not be the first to see. Beneath her dutiful exterior, Life could sense her curiosity.

    Life walked to the crater. Its momentum had smashed through several brittle, thin trees. It carried no flames or sparks, but it had been moving very fast.

    She came to the trail it had left when grinding against the ground. Life hopped over the skid marks, making it a game of dexterity as she zig-zagged to her destination.

    She looked up after one last playful jump.

    Her blood ran cold. She fell backwards, scrambling away. "BOUNTY!!! BOUNTYYYYYYYYY!!!"

    Bounty was on her trail in an instant. "BEHIND ME." She tore up a fistful of grass, and in an instant, it snaked and fitted to her hand, forming a green, iron claw.

    "...Forerunner." Bounty hissed.

    Nine stirred to the sound of a little girl screaming. "BOUNTY!!! BOUNTYYYYYYYY!!!"

    Wha...OW... He registered the pain of his landing quickly. He could feel blood leaking from his eyebrow. Soon it would drip into his good eye.

    He simply could not see out of his right eye. The prosthetic had been either disconnected from his optic nerve, or jarred offline. He couldn't feel it sparking, fortunately.

    "...Forerunner." Nine heard another woman hiss. He couldn't see, and he was too sore and stunned from the landing to make any meaningful move.

    Whazzaforerunner. Where is it?

    Nine craned his neck. His helmet felt impossibly heavy.

    The woman had a strange glove on. A weapon.

    Wait. Don't. Nine moved his mouth, but the words didn't come. He was too busy gasping for air.

    The green haired woman stood tall above him, her arm raised, the thin claws open and ready to strike.

    "It's weakened. This will finish it."

    ...Dammit...


    "WAIT. Sister." Life seized Bounty's elbow. "It's not forerunner!"

    "He may be small, but that IS a combat skin." Bounty shrugged Life off, and readied her hand. One blow would rend apart the metal, and into the heart.

    Wait. Bounty stopped. She could feel the creature's heartbeat.

    Same as hears. Regular. Steady. It raised when she threatened it.

    "...No. Life, you're right. That ISN'T forerunner.

    As if to concur, the Combat Skin's visor opened up, the top layer above the human's eyes folding up into the metal band. The bottom layer of hardened blue glass folded into the "jaw" of the helmet.

    They could see his eyes. Half closed, covered in blood. One eye had an unnatural pupil, lined by a dull, lifeless rectangle.

    Human. He panted and wheezed, coughing up blood. In his hand rested a badly burned firearm.

    Life knelt beside the human.

    "Life, NO." Bounty stepped forward, intending to pull her sister away from the battered human.

    "We have a RESPONSIBILITY to him. We're CARETAKERS." Life, in an unusual display of sternness, chided her sister. "What is your name, boy?"

    The human turned his head, his combat skin sparking and whirring at the motion. "...John..." The answer was a raspy, breaking breath.

    "John, you're alive. My sister Health can help you, but you need to take off your combat skin. Can you do that?"

    "Technician..."

    Bounty hovered over Life's shoulder. She brought water, cupped in her hand. Nine looked at it, and Bounty took it as a cue. She poured some into his mouth, and some on his face. Nine licked at it as it dripped away the blood. Coughing again, he spoke more clearly.

    "...My armor should reactivate. The core and life support are online..." He labored to stand, as Bounty tugged him to his feet.

    Nine looked at the green haired woman to thank her, but something entirely more important loomed behind her.

    "WATCH OUT." Nine shoved Bounty, as Ash swung his claws. The blow took Nine in the chest, throwing him back down onto the ground.

    "IT'S REAL." Life stumbled backwards, deathly pale. "BOUNTY IT'S A PROMETHEAN!!!"

    Bounty hurled her blades of grass at Ash. His armor was dented, but unlike Nine's, it was fully functional. The blades, however sharp, were as harmless as Nine's bullets.

    Ash lifted his arm, and an Incineration cannon formed in his clutches. "Abominations. Forged by Atum long ago." Ash growled. "I'll deal with you on ANOTHER day."

    Bounty leaped out of the way of an incineration cannon shot. As Ash predicted, she was quite fast. His conventional weapons would serve no purpose.

    "DISAPPEAR."

    With a mighty swing of his hand, the air itself turned back with stunning force. Bounty, with no way to counter, was blown back, hurled against a nearby tree.

    "Even when so empowered...you're simply lower life-forms." Ash bore his teeth in disgust.

    "How's THIS for lower."

    Nine fired his Concussion Rifle. However burned and scarred by re-entry, it still WORKED. The first shot grazed Ash's cheek. Nine smiled, and fired again.

    Blood dripped into his eye. His arms were weak. He had to fight not only to assist the two women, but because he couldn't run if he wanted to.

    However, the shots missed, flying to the Promethean's sides. His eyesight had taken a turn for the worse. Light headed, he desperately tried to control the weapon, over and under-compensating for each shot.

    "Fuck..." Nine squinted his one working eye, as he backed up. Firing again and again, all the shots missed as Ash sidestepped them, walking calmly towards his target.

    "ENOUGH. You will do NO HARM HERE."

    Shoots of bamboo rose beneath Ash, one slashing against his armpit. Another stabbed up and past his chin, scratching his mask. Bounty, dizzy but unscathed, threw seeds to the ground, growing them like rapid, slashing blades. She reached for and claimed one, hurling it like a spear.

    Ash underestimated the Caretaker. Though he stood firm against the strike, it pierced his belly.

    "GRAAAAAAAAH..." He wrapped his hand around it and tugged. "I'll RIP YOU APART!!!"

    The barrel of Nine's rifle was one foot away from him when Nine fired. "HNNG..." He controlled the recoil as he shot twice, point blank. The blasts forced Ash back, as he barely retained his footing.

    His armor was penetrated. The wounded Spartan had outmatched him. He was surrounded by three enemies.

    Only two of whom seemed to be able to fight. Ash turned to spot Life, who he had stumbled beside in the fight.

    "Life, GET AWAY from him!" Bounty screamed.

    Ash seized her arm, and lifted her to his level. His pointed claws lingered threateningly over her neck.

    "Move, and she DIES."
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    Manny
    Freelancer Operative

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    Re: Neurasthenia

    Post  Manny on March 27th 2013, 11:36 pm

    What a prick. Taking hostage the one person who can't really fight.

    Dick.

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