Part 1 "We're off."
((note: this first part happens a short time before the armoured truck leaves in Sendaz' post))
: Not really knowin' what t' do 'til the L.U.G.nuts git on their way, the one 'ats older'n dirt an' jus tempory-like the largest in the group ('til Sendaz gits that there collar off'n him) is watching a bit o' TV in one of the quickly vacatin' hotel rooms. Having been all packed up, Penguins! plops down an' starts to veg a bit with him.
DemonStalker: Young one?
DemonStalker: Perhaps you could help me something.
Penguins!: Sure, what's up?
DemonStalker: Ever since I've made it back to civilization, I've seen a few wonderous advancements in technology, better vehicles for one and several things that I can't really wrap my mind around. Like this device, for example.
Penguins!: The TV?
DemonStalker: Yes, that's what Mr. Clang said it was. What bothers me is.. well... why do people feel the need to enslave an entire race of tiny humans and tiny verbose animals in these boxes for the entertainment of everyone else?
Penguins!: Wha? Well, you see, umm... they're not really... I mean-
*pats the young girl on the head* Not to worry, I'm just playing mind games. I realize that this it just an advancemednt of the moving pictures tech of old. I simply thought I'd have a bit of fun. It could have been anyone, you're just the first one to show up.
*a blue-white squeeky mallet appears above the still transformed Pengi, and bops Kronys over the head* Idiot.
DemonStalker: Well, you go ahead of me toward the bus, I'll be down in a moment. I simply need to change out of these nice clothes.
Penguins!: You have other clothes, besides the ripped pants?
DemonStalker: Indeed, I got them when was shopping for these clothes.
*turns off the TV* Now scoot, as there's no need for you to be here while I pull off my trousers. ^_^
Penguins!: Oh, right.
*skitters out the door and closes it behind her*
A few minutes later...
: Amongst the hubbub of packing things away on the Tour Bus of Doom, a few folk are hanging aournd the lobby, as a newly familiar form makes his way out of the elavator. The seven foot behemoth of a man has once again changed attire, first from Incredible Hulk look-a-like contestant, then to an oddly appropropriate looking european fop, and now he's wearing khakis, army boots, a dress shirt that looks expensive, and a very old tan leather jacket with an odd patch on the back. The patch looks like a stylized angel with two wings, one normal and one made of swords, with the words, Hard Luck emblazoned over top.
: Just as he steps out, the second elavator opens, and out pours a good portion of the LUGs, including Atticus, Sendaz, Peguins!, and Texarcanum among others. The Dragon trapped in the body of a man glances at Kronys' new ensemble and opens his mouth to comment.
Sendaz: Ah yes, the company jackets. As I recall, the HS had a complete set, left over from your group's personal effects after you disappeared, those many years ago. Yes, Had is the appropriate term, I'm guessing.
DemonStalker: Indeed. One of the World Wars 2 buffs gave it to me yesterday as I was making ready for the ball, after realizing who I was. He said he'd likely take some crap from his superiors, but it was better that I have what's mine. In exchage though, I read through his dissertation on the origin of the logo on the back of it, corrected a few things, and autographed his vintage WW2 machine gun.
*looking at the angel on the jacket* Wow, that's neat. so what is the story behind it?
: The man of muscles looks to Sendaz, silently asking for permission to waste what little time the group has to locate their objective.
Sendaz: Go ahead, it's an interesting story. But try to keep it to the short version, alright?
DemonStalker: Of course, I'll be as brief as possible. Gather round, and I shall tell you of the family legend of Ricky Brown; lead gunner, and artist. 'Tis the legend of the Angel of Lost Causes. Long ago, during a long and bitter war, an Angel descended upon the battlefield and sided himself with army whose cause he felt was the most just, in his view.
*he pauses for a moment* Soon afterward, his side was decimated by the opposition, and his right wing had been ripped off in the process.
DemonStalker: Not to worry, young one, it doesn't end there. You see, instead of wallowing in self pity, he set forth, and collected all the swords of his fallen comrades, whole or broken, it mattered not. When he finished his task, he fashioned for himself a new wing from the gathered swords, feeling the presence and courage of those who had fallen, within him. He rallied his remaining troops, attacked the enemy with renewed vigor and emerged victorious.
Since then, it has been said that when you're luck is down, and things seem their bleakest, listen to the winds. If you should hear the faint sounds of ruffling feathers and metal scraping metal, know that he is watching over you and will see you through your troubles.
As to why we Hard Luckers thought it to be an appropriate logo for our squad, we had each come from other squads that had been decimated by the enemy, but instead of dwelling too long on what could have been done, we jumped right back into the thick of things.
*deep sigh* Well, story time is over, shall we commence the mission?
: Several heads nod in agreement, and thus the gathered heroes loaded up into the bus and they began their mission anew, with a greater purpose in hearts (a doomsday weapon, with the added bonus of masterfully baked cookies.)
End part the first.
((seriously, I have no clue for what to put between the two bits, so we'll just leave that blank.))
Part 2 "Violence is not the answer. Violence is the question. The answer is 'yes'."
: for the past few hours, the ride has been uneventful. PieceFrog and Eekee took up gunner postions, using their varied weaponry, and PieceFrog also handed out guns to those who could use them. DemonStalker, after a bit of instruction on the latest working of motor vehicles, opted to drive at least out to the Hard Luck company's last stand. Everyone has gotten comfy for the long ride, save my cousin Frank, who has decided to have some "fun" with the bus' PA system.
: *KSH* T' yer left, there's a sand dune. It's pretty darn sandy.*KSH*
*KSH* Up ahead, there's three motorbikes wtih the correspondin Artemisâ€™ Own girlies, pointin' they're rocket lauchers in our general direction, with that behemoth truck o' theirs in th' background.*KSH*
*KSH* Coming up on your right, is another sand duuune.*KSH*
PieceFrog: Wait, what? Frank did you just say what I thought you said?
: *KSH* The sand dune?*KSH*
PieceFrog: No! The Artemis' Own!
: *KSH* Oh them...Yeah, I suppose I shoulda paid more attention t' that.
Well, lookie there, one of 'em firin'.*KSH*
Sendaz: DAMON! EVADE!
*spinning the wheel proficiently* Way ahead of you boss!
: The bus swerves out of the way with just inches to spare, as the explosive round detonates in open ground, kicking up a huge amount of sand. Stopping the bus DemonStalker bursts through the door, calling for the others, even as they are piling out themselves. Two more rockets fire in succession toward the same point in the crowd. The elder warrior steps in front them, grabs the first rocket out the air and turns it back to the one who let it let it fly (she drops her weapon while fleeing, but is still knocked out by the concussive blast), then takes the second full in the chest. Wait, what?
: The dust clears, and the mountain of muscle is still standing, though he's sporting a hole the size of my head, in the middle of him. It looks like it's slowly healing, amazing!
*koff* I'll need a few moments to regen myself, so could someone take out those other ones?
*safeties off* Already on it!
: The young avian takes flight, plasma rifle at the ready, though not aiming to kill. He swoops down at the bikers, laying down a barrage of burning plasma that makes these particular women wish they hadn't gotten out of bed that morning. Eekee soars in for two more passes, making sure the threat is subdued (mildly burned, but still subdued), and head back to the group. By the time he returns, the hole in our immortal is closed, but not fully healed. The others are either watching for signs of further aggression or watching Kronys' wound heal, out of morbid curiousity.
Penguins!: Does it hurt?
DemonStalker: More than you would care to know, young one. I've had worse though.
Atticus: I somehow find that hard to believe. Though I think I'll take your word for it and be glad I didn't catch fire aga-
PieceFrog: The truck! It's headed this way! I think they're going to try and ram the bus!
Sendaz: Oh, for the love of FOD. Any ideas?
*with the monstrous vehicle bearing down on the group, he turns to the Valkyrie Belle* How do you feel about an aerial attack?
Atticus: What are you...
*watches the still healing man quickly gesture out his impromptu plan* O_O You had better catch me.
DemonStalker: Don't worry I will.
*he gently grips her by the waist* Braced and ready?
Atticus: As I'll ever be.
DemonStalker: Well then, batter's up.
*with that, he heaves her high into the air, much to the surprise of their companions who weren't paying attention*
: Directly after flinging Miss Funt, DemonStalker takes off at a sprint in the direction of the on-rushing behemoth. Just as they're about to collide, he winds up for an uppercut with his right fist.
: Wow... uh, I mean the mammoth transport upends it self and gains a few feet of altitude, but not much. That is until the strong man grabs it's rear bumper with his left hand, and in a flash of bluish-white light, sends it rocketing up to meet the girl with the hammer.
*to random underling pressed into the seat next to her* You know? When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronaut... Wait, isn't that the hammer girl? She's winding up to hit us isn't she? This just hasn't been our day.
Atticus: Woah! Spinning!
: The impact of Krossar to transport is audiable down here, and I suspect for miles, as well. The huge vehicle has just been sent spinning a mile or two behind us, impacting in a large cloud of sand and an immense *THUMP*. Kronys wearily gets up, and holds his arms out for a moment as Atticus comes twirling down from the sky like a Thermo-Nuclear Ballerina. In a maneuver that looked like it hurt (for his efforts, he got another accidental Krossar to the shin), he managed to catch her while ensuring she wasn't hurt, herself. A few minutes later, we're on the road again (turn the page).
End part the second.
Part 3 "I feel like Angston' Tonight, like Angstin' Tonight!"
: A few more uneventful hours go by, then we stop for a quick lunch. While unpacking some of the food, a little suprise guest is found nestled in the middle of the rooftop luggage.
*gently hauls the young boy out of the pile* Hey Pengs! Look what I found!
*storms over to the kendo kid, who is just now letting himself down to the ground* Didn't I tell you you couldn't come along?
Kenny: No, you said I wasn't gettng in the bus. You never said anything about getting on the bus.
Ben: Why... You... Rules lawering little..
*puts his hand on Ben's shoulder* Ben, let it go.
Jade: He would have found a way to come along anyway, you know.
Ben: Yeah, I guess. But still...
Jade: No buts, man. Besides, I seem to recall you pulling similar stunts over the years when a girl was involved.
Ben: Hey, now. That's hitting below the belt. Alright, alright. I won't lay into him anymore. Heck, it looks like he's getting more than he bargained for anyway.
*being partially crushed by the overjoyed Penguins!* ACK! Can't... Breathe!
Jade: Heh, still going to administer the Brotherly Love Wedgies and Shoulda Listened Noogies later?
Ben: You betcha.
Jade: That should be fun to watch.
: That bit of excitement over with, we sit down to a quick lunch of left over munchies snagged from the Historical Society Ball last night. Spirits are high, and everyone's exicted about the unknown adventures yet to come, on this trip. Sitting on the hood of the bus, staring off into the distance, is DemonStalker, looking a bit wistful. Sendaz, finished with his disgustingly small ration of FOD, saunters up to him.
Sendaz: Copper piece for your thoughts, old man?
DemonStalker: That's an odd turn of phrase.
Sendaz: Heh, I just don't get much opportunity to call people old, these days.
DemonStalker: I actually meant the copper piece bit. Haven't heard that one for a while. You're older than you look aren't you?
Sendaz: Well I am a dragon after all.
DemonStalker: You're a dragon?
Sendaz: Of couse I- ... Wait, you haven't seen my dragon form yet, have you?
DemonStalker: Nope, sorry.
Sendaz: Well, you'll have to wait a while then, at least until I get this anti-magic collar off. In addition to everything else, it's starting to itch like crazy.
*hopping down* Why don't I try? My powers are based in life energy, not magic. It might work.
Sendaz: As long as you don't intend to separate my head from my body
*glances testily at M'taal* I'll try anything.
*moves closer and gently gets a grip on the collar, having barely enough room to fit three fingers in from each hand* Hmmm... That will have to do, for now. Ready to have at it?
Sendaz: Do it.
: Kronys pulls with all of his might at both edges of the collar, without much success. He pulls for another few seconds, before his arms begin to glow with the the same bluish-white light from before. A few more seconds, and the glow is so bright, it's hard to look at. The others stop what they're doing as they notice the light show, and look over. Then the light becomes a blinding flash, and in a moment, it's over. Kronys is backed up against the bus, out of breathe and hands smoking.
*huffs and puffs for a moment* Sorry, no go. That accessory just isn't coming off.
Sendaz: FOD damn it all. Thanks for trying anyway.
*looking up from polishing her axe* So does this mean we still have to take Drake alive?
Sendaz: Unfortunately, it does, my furry friend.
Mtaal: Well, carp...
*back to DemonStalker* By the way, you never did answer my question, old man.
DemonStalker: Oh, yes. I was just thinking about the old team. We're almost at the last stand and burial site, and though I know there was nothing else I could do for them, I can't help but feel like I've failed them. I felt it back then too, which is why I placed a couple of Spirit Guardians (much like the one I gifted to Penguins!, over there) at the entrance of the cave I buried them in.
Sendaz: So their resting place is protected from evil, is it? What's to worry about?
DemonStalker: Back then, I only had the time to fortify the guardians with energy to last 5 or 6 decades. With all that's been going on recently, I can't help but wonder if something bad is going to, or already has happened to them.
*pats Kronys on the shoulder* Don't be so hard on yourself, I'm sure evenything's fine.
DemonStalker: I suppose you're right. I won't let the dark thoughts bother me anymore.
*points off into the distance* See the largest outcropping of rock? We should be able to make it there by nightfall, if we hurry. We can set-up camp there, if you think we've got time.
*Flashback! Greyed out memory, fading around the edges*
*pointing in the distance* Y'see that there large outcroppin' o' rock? The biggest one there. If we hurry, we should make it there by sundown, and set up camp fer the night. Now that we gots ourselves a map from those Bermie rats that jumped us, we c'n stand t' rest a bit. Now, let's roll!!
DemonStalker: No, nothing. just remembered a quick moment from 60 years ago. Is everyone ready?
Sendaz: Just about, we didn't unpack much of anything, it's going quickly. Anyway, let's roll.
: Nearing dusk, we roll to a stop at the rusting, half buried remains of three old jeeps and two tanks. Not too far away is the cave where the Hard Luck company it layed to rest.Kronys, leading in Sendaz, Atticus, Le Fae, and a few others who are interested, heads into the cave.
DemonStalker: It feels... Different. Evil...
*furrows his brow, and strides in further*
Le Fae :
*Feeling the walls* I sense, Death Magic... Used recently, within the past few days, I'd sa-
*from further into the cave* NO! No...
: The rest of us dash in, to find the mountainous man crumpled to the ground sobbing softy, the sight of 7 freshly dug sandy graves providing cause for the outburst of a moment ago. We try to approach him, but he waves us off.
DemonStalker: Please, could I have some time
Sendaz: Alright, We'll be staying the night anyways, but we won't be waiting longer than we have to, understood?
: Dawn is breaking, and the adventurers are slowly but surely sending away the effects of sleepiness. A small group of the more wakeful LUGs has gathered in front of the cave.
Sendaz: Hmmm... He still hasn't come out. Atti, you have the most tactful approach to these things, would you mind being our Plan A?
Atticus: Plan A? Dare I ask what Plan B is, or do I want to know?
Sendaz: For the greater effect, it's probably best you don't know ahead of time. You'll have about ten minutes, before we go to the next option. If he's still navel gazing, we'll have to leave him to his own devices.
Atticus: Really, just leave him here?
Sendaz: From what we've seen of his abilities, he'd be an asset in our quest, but we haven't the time for this kind of thing. And asset or no, we have plenty more able bodied people with us, including you.
Atticus: That seems a little cold...
Sendaz: From what I've heard of, and from him thus far, if he were in his right mind, he'd agree. I'd rather it not come to that, but I'm prepared to do it.
Atticus: Okay, I'll go in, and do what I can. Ten minutes, right?
Sendaz: Right. Good luck.
*nods and walks into the cave*
*waits for her friend to be out of earshot* So, after ten minutes, I go in and slap him?
*chuckles* No, my friend. That would be Plan C. B is much more subtle. Liria, Eekee, you both will also be needed for this.
, & M'taal
: *look at each other, shrug and turn back to Sendaz*
Mtaal: What are you planning, Lizard?
Sendaz: Just a little something to jog his memory...
Inside the cave, Miss Funt pads up to the slumped form of her new friend. She rests her hand on his large shoulder, and he doesn't resist.
Atticus: Kronys? Kronys, it's dawn.
Atticus: Yeah, we're getting ready to leave, are you... Are you coming?
DemonStalker: I've fai
led them twice, now.
DemonStalker: Twice... I couldn't protect them back then and couldn't do anything for them now...
Atticus: Why don't you tell me about it?
DemonStalker: I'm sorry, but I don't see how that would help.
Atticus: What can it hurt? It may help more than you realize to get it off your chest. Besides... I'd like to know what's causing a friend of mine so much pain.
*looks up to her thoughtfully, and looks down again* Alright. We were heading up to this place, sixty years ago...
*fade to greyed out flashback*
*on the radio* Keep on th' look out, fellahs! We've got ourselves a new advantage, but we ain't invincible!
*over the radio from the jeep to the right* Where's the map, anyway, sir?
Lt. Briggs: In mah pack an' up here
*taps forhead* With somethin' this important, ya can't trust just a piece o' paper, private. Remember that! Wait a minute...
*looks through binoculars* Well, s**t. Looks like we gotta fight for our rest. Smith! Run Damon up as close to those tanks as you can, and when he drops, go evasive an' let Brown work his magic with that machine gun of his. We'll run support.
Pvt. Smith: Yes sir!
It was a fairly routine manuever, we'd run it a few times before with tremendous success. There was no reason why it should have gone any differently this time. Maybe the Berman's got lucky, or maybe our luck had run out. I don't really know.
The first little bit went as planned so far as I was concerned. I dropped about fifty feet from the lead tank, but before I could reach it, they both got a shot off. My squad can evade shots like that any day of the week, is what I was thinking, so I didn't bother looking back to see what had happened.If I had...
Anyway, when I finally reached the lead tank, I shoulder tackled, lifted and flipped it over. I turned to see the turret of the second tank pointed directly at me. I jumped just as they fired, but the shell caught and ripped away one of my legs, continuing on to blow their friends in the other tank. I landed roughly, and tumbled a bit, but that was the least of my worries.
It was at this time that I realized the squad was doomed. As I forced my eyes to focus through the pain, I saw that two of our jeeps had been blown to bits, while the third had just been hit. I did something then that I hadn't done in a long time. I fired a destructive blast of energy from my hands at the tank, destroying it immediately. That technique takes a lot out of me, and I passed out immediately afterward.
When i woke up hours later, our narrator was sifting through the wreakage for anything useful. Together, we buried the bodies of my squad in the cave, set out to where we thought the convoy was...
*End narrated flashback*
DemonStalker: ... And the rest you know. I'm sorry, I just-
*clicking a stopwatch* Aaand... Time's up. Okay guys, you know what to do.
: Eekee, Liria and M'taal nod, then spring into action. Eekee flutters his wings loudly, while Liria slowly scrape the edge of her sword along the edge of the Were's enchanted axe. They continue this for a few more seconds and then vacate from the mouth of the cave.
*chuckle* The things we do for our friends...
DemonStalker: What was that? It sounded like... Oh lords, what an ass I've been.
*stands up, and turns to miss Funt* Atticus... May I call you Atti?
Atticus: Sure, everyone else does.
DemonStalker: Atti, then. Thank you. From the depths of my soul, thank you.
Atticus: You're welcome, now lets go out there. Your friends are waiting.
DemonStalker: Of course.
: And so, they somehow coaxed the bereaved giant from the cave. Sendaz approaches them.
Sendaz: Atti, you did well. Thanks.
Atticus: I actually didn't do much.
Sendaz: None the less, it seems to have worked.
*turns to Kronys* Good to see you've decided to stay with us old man. One thing though, do you have any idea of why Drake would want to reanimate your old teammates?
DemonStalker: I think I do. For one thing, we were one of the best squads in the region, and that's some skill I'm sure he wouldn't mind having on his side, notmatter how old it is. The bigger reason, however, would be that Lt. John Briggs had memorised the map that we had recovered from a previous encounter. Chances are good that even in death, he never forgot it.
Sendaz: That's a troubling thought, and all the more reason to get on the road again.
DemonStalker: Indeed, though I have but one more thing to take care of.
Sendaz: Will it take long?
DemonStalker: Not at all.
*gestures to Penguins!* Young one, come here a moment.
*trots up* yeah?
DemonStalker: Do you recall how I said that Shiney would only last a few days?
Penguins!: You mean Shiney'll go away?
DemonStalker: Not for a couple more days, but I feel that there won't be many other opportunities to do this in the next few days, I think I should fortify her with a bit more energy. To allow her to last out the quest, as we're heading into more dangerous territory.
Penguins!: Oh, okay then.
DemonStalker: Close your eyes for a moment.
*as she does so, he places his palm upon her still human form forehead* [low gutteral muttering in a language long forgotten by time]
: DemonStalker's hand begins to glow blue-white again, as does Penguins! forehead. This transfer of energy goes on for two minutes, before the glowing stops. Kronys straightens up, and pats the young girl on the head. Being that they are the only two not
on the bus, they quickly load in, Tex at the wheel looking over our sections of the map. Soon enough, everyone setteled in for the long haul, we set off toward the horizon.
Up above our heroes, perched atop the the rocky outcropping that marks the defiled burial site of the Hard Luck Company, stands a stooped figure, chuckling over some personal joke.
Mystery Figure: Excellent, excellent. Everything is falling into place...
With that, the figure spreads his black wings, and flies off.
End part the third