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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2010, 21:42 
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Aldrich had a clear lead by the time he noticed that he was being shot at it any more, and so slid awkwardly to a stop on the wavy ceramic tiles that lined the top of this clearly high class home to look back, hacking up a nasty cough as he fell into a half crouch with one palm down on the roof to keep his balance. The four super soldiers who had been following him with unnatural speed that even challenged Aldrich to a small degree had stopped. The lead man looked as if he were holding his head in a ducked position, as if speaking into a microphone of some sort in his helmet, but it was difficult to make out in the now starlight, though some torches below cast crazy lights and shadows on the figures above as they swayed.

Giving up? No, you're being called off...

The soldierly mob in the zig-zag street below had apparently likewise called off the chase and were beginning to break formation and filter down various nasty alleyways in single or double file. The entire thing was very co-ordinated; further evidence that shots were being called for a plan B, not giving up and certainly not retreat. Unfortunately, Aldrich knew their boss.

He closed his eyes tight and gave a violent twitch of his head in slight frustration as he prepared to turn around. As he did, he opened his eyes and saw it play out far too cinematic for his taste: the Inquisitioner, clad in a menacing long coat, rising slowly into the air in the square beyond the rooftop Aldrich was on. In the corner of his eye he saw his Weavers come to a stop where the road opened to the square and advance soldiers arrive on the far side of the square. Checkmate.



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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2010, 22:48 
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No other way out, then.

Aldrich stepped off the roof.

He stood there, suspended for a moment in midair. He could feel the absence of ground beneath his feet, beneath the soles of his boots, a sensation that always bothered him slightly whenever he paused to think about it. He never really felt like he was flying. He had no wings to flap, or jet pack to propel him upwards, no thrust, no effort save a mental calculation that had long since become instinctual. He looked across the square at the angel and gave him a calm nod.

Then he moved across the square, for once not floating or drifting his way over, but just appearing to step across the air. It was a hard thing to concentrate on, but hell if it didn't look impressive. He thought about just drawing his gun and trying to shoot the angel inquisitor from across the square, but somehow he knew that wasn't going to work, and not just because of the fancy armor the angel was wearing.

"So..." the angel said, tilting his head and looking at Aldrich with dead eyes. "You've come to face me."

"Someone had to," Aldrich said, pausing a couple yards away.

"You're such an interesting specimen," the angel continued. His wings thrummed up and down, keeping him aloft. "You're not from around here, as they say. No magic propels you, no wings guide you, but yet you can look me in the eye. What are you?"

"I'm a tired old magician," Aldrich replied. "That's all I am, that's all I'll ever be."

The angel slowly advanced upon him, although he didn't move quite as deliberately or gracefully as the Weaver. "Speaking in riddles," he said. "I always did hate it when the heroes did that. You, at least, are somewhat of a better actor than most." He was close enough to Aldrich to lean in and whisper in his face. "You fascinate me. So I'll keep you alive. I'll keep you alive so I can learn what makes you tick, even if you have to spend every day of it in freakish agony."

"That sure is a darn shame," Aldrich said, and stabbed the angel in the stomach.

He made sure to yank the knife out as harshly as possible just as soon as he heard the surprised croak from the angel, figuring on the sudden removal of the knife doing more damage than leaving it in there. Then he took a deep breath and pulled the angel down, down, dragging the air around him down to the ground, falling himself so he could stay just in range, letting the Inquisitor fall in the most painful, abrupt way possible until he hit the ground with a sickening wet noise.

"If you can shoot, aim for the wings," Aldrich called to his team, drawing his own pistol. It probably wouldn't work too well, but it was worth a shot. So to speak.


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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 07 Aug 2010, 23:05 
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Conner had his own sense of slowed time as he saw Aldrich pull the knife from under his coat on the Inquistioner--villains never did look down when they were that close to their prey, too afraid to break eye contact and the opening that might give. Ironically it gave its own opening.

The Inquistioner's cronies on the ground quickly took aim, but were too slow and too crammed into the narrow street nearest where the grounded Weavers had entered to aim properly before Shark was ripping into their front, clawed fingers now red and staining Ivan's vest. Wolf was quick to reach the farther street opening to the square, just as the soldiers who had taken the longer route there were arriving. A few jabs to the nearest surprised men gave her opening to grab a lance and a fire arm, and the waves afterward were helpless. The hasty consrtuction of this unfamiliar area of the city was actually something to be grateful for, since it so severely restricted the movement of the soldiers.

"If you can shoot, aim for the wings!"

Conner dropped Ivan's cane, which he had been carrying since it had been shoved into his hands earlier, and drew a highly modified pistol from his side. He'd planned on using it to make a stand anyway, so, well, here they were.

The ninjitsu-aided elite soldiers came bounding over the rooftops to respond to the unexpected turn of events, and Conner turned his head, pointing his weapon and firing off three shots, nudging each on their long, seemingly slowed journey to their targets, and landing each through the mouth of the elites. Without missing a beat he turned and let off severally more shots aimed at the descending Inquisitioner: one shot each to every joint in the wings that wasn't blocked off, shattering bones and indeniably causing massive amounts of pain if indeed those wings were more alive than they looked.

The elites' bodies hit the ground after falling past the petrified faces of merchant families daring to peek out their windows.



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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 00:41 
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Aldrich felt the ground beneath his feet again as gunfire rang in his ears, followed momentarily by strangled screams and the sounds of several bodies hitting solid earth. Good old Conner. Give him a target and ammo, and he could make the two meet, every time.

Aldrich leaned over and drew the knife from the angel's stomach, not bothering to make it gentle. This produced an agonized groan from the Inquisitor, who was twitching and shaking on the ground. His wings were shattered, broken by Conner's well-placed bullets. He didn't look like he would be flying again any time soon, but then Aldrich doubted the wings were the sole source of his ability to fly.

"What...are...you.....?" the angel gasped, raising his head off the ground and staring at the Weaver captain. "Never seen something like you..." He groaned and tried to struggle up onto his elbows. His skin was slowly knitting itself back together where Aldrich had stabbed it, though too-dark blood still oozed and puddled out onto the dusty ground. His wings shivered and twitched as if trying to heal themselves, but could not. The crooked joints remained crooked. Some of the rotting feathers were falling off into the dirt.

Aldrich calmly put one boot on the Inquisitor's chest, dispelling his feeble struggles for a moment. "In show business we have a thing called patter," he said easily, looking down at the Inquisitor. He wiped the knife blade off on the edge of his shirt and stuck it back in its hidden sheath. "It's where you talk to the people you're trying to fool to distract them from what you're really doing."

He drew his pistol again and aimed it...first at the angel's heart, then his head. "Now you know and I know that I'm not going to answer your questions any time soon, but if we just keep talking like this we can both do all our tricks without showing off what we're really doing. Isn't that right?"

He raised an eyebrow.

"What a strange creature," mused the angel, and then he struggled up, raising his head off the ground, and twisted his fine features into a wretched mockery of humanity. His dead eyes caught Aldrich's and seared an image deep inside, of something dead and still walking, something wrong, something evil, something thrown down from the heavens in rejection of what should never be. The broken, twisted wings came up as Aldrich staggered back and flapped weakly, shaking and shedding feathers as they tried to work in the way they should have. The Inquisitor let out a horrific animal sound underlaid with a buzz that cut through every ear and into every skull of every being that stood watching the square in horrified fascination.

"OBEY ME," the Inquisitor screeched, his feet finding purchase on the ground. He rose up, fingers like bones grabbing onto the folds of Aldrich's coat and clambering up his petrified frame. The Weaver tried to pull his head upwards, to find a moment's sanity in the vault of stars above, but the angel would not let his attention escape to safer ideas.

"LISTEN TO ME," came the wretched voice, cutting and slicing into Aldrich's head, leaving no room for anything else but the all-consuming sound. "LOOK AT ME. DROP YOUR WEAPON."

The gun slid from Aldrich's hand and clattered onto the ground.

The Inquisitor laughed, a guttural sound that seemed to claw and tear its way out of his throat. He turned his head to the crowd and swept his gaze over those assembled. No one could look away. Wolf fell to the ground, cradling her head but still unable to not see what stood before her. Shark leaned against a wall and moaned, the sound of an animal in pain, while inside his head came the grieving, rattling sobs of another soul. The angel smiled, showing blackened, dead teeth still too sharp for a human mouth. Aldrich clutched at his ears, shaking where he stood.

And then someone said, "Hey."

It was a very weak voice, as if the person using it had to summon up all his willpower to let the word live at all. And yet it was there, ringing across the square in the silence that had followed the Inquisitor's gaze.

"Hey."

One man in the crowd stood up, all the way up, straightening himself with a force of will that had saved worlds. Thin streams of blood oozed from his ears and dripped steadily down to the ground. The black silk blindfold that protected his eyes dampened from tears that were flowing down his face, but he held his ground and raised his gun.

"Come on," he croaked, while all the world seemed to hold itself still to listen to him. "Come see how you fare against the blind man."

The angel paused, then let loose that horrific laugh again. "Blind?" he said. "Blind? You can be blind and still see my face. You can be deaf and fall victim to my words. I cannot be defeated so easily, you strange, pathetic creature. Drop your gun."

"No."

Conner smiled. He could have sworn he felt a ghostly hand on his shoulder, "saw" the smile of his currently disembodied teammate, as if something perhaps was helping him stand. Or maybe not. He was shaking all over and swaying with the effort of standing up against the angel's voice. But he managed it.

"No?" the angel demanded, momentarily stunned. "No? How can you say no?"

"I really like this gun," Conner said. He thought about pulling the trigger but it was too late for that. The smallest movement would be too much now. One more moment. One more. One....two...three...

The angel opened his mouth and let out a small, dry noise.

"Gotcha," someone whispered.

Aldrich pulled on his makeshift garrote as hard as he could, yanking the angel backwards with the effort of it. The belt buckle pressed into the Inquisitor's throat, slowly carving into the seemingly dead flesh. The Weaver's teeth were bared in a deadly grin that strained at his face as he pulled ever harder. When he felt he could take no more he kicked the angel in the small of the back, letting go of the belt as his quarry fell face-down into the dirt.

"Stay down this time, dammit," Aldrich snapped, his voice cracking.

One hand scooped up the discarded gun and fired. It took several shots. Once the angel tried to rise, wings fluttering up feebly, but they were slammed down again by the force of Aldrich's ownership of the air.

The angel let out one last gasp that turned into the sound of a winter wind that swept the loose feathers up into a decaying whirlwind. First one foot, then the other, then the legs and the spine and the back and the arms, and all of the angel was vanishing, as if he had only been clouds all along, a summer thunderstorm swept away for clearer skies. One dead eye was visible above the ground, still open, as the wings were whipped away into the clear air, as the wind spread up and took the head, carrying away the memory of the voice and the visage of the dead skull.

Even the feathers were gone.

The last of the wind took with it the scent of decay.

Aldrich stood there for a moment, breathing deeply, then slowly, carefully, sat down on the ground and started coughing. The hacking and gasping lasted a while, before he just as deliberately laid down on his back and slowly caught his breath.


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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 01:06 
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The soldiers had stopped advancing at Shark and Ivan's position by the time the final shot echoed through the square. And why not? The elites were dead, and so was the Inquistioner. And if these people could do that all the while dealing with the generic soldier masses--whose numbers were now severely depleted--what was the point in going on? To their credit, the soldiers did not flee. Choosing instead to simply take a step back and stand at an unsteady attention. What next?

Ivan stood unsteadily, half shifted between himself and Shark, who was still feeling some effects of the demon-man's last effort. Looking at the soldiers, then at himself, he brushed himself off rather unnecessarily but out of habit--the mild mannered and quiet librarian type boy back calling the shots. He took a step and almost fell, releasing that the early wound he had taken that day hadn't only reopened, but gotten worse, apparently with Shark ignoring it as he could. But he steadied himself and limped his way over to Aldrich and Conner, picking up his cane on the way.

When he reached them, Ivan saw Wolf walking up as well, and hesitated to speak. "...I don't think we can fix the rift here. But I think you just helped it mend."



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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 12:01 
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The poor Weaver captain slowly sat up, still breathing raggedly. His teammates were walking across the square to meet him, looking rather the worse for wear. Conner just about made it to where Aldrich was sitting and collapsed next to him. For a moment he just sat there.

"You alright?" Aldrich asked.

"Eh, I'll make it," Conner replied. Making slow, deliberate movements, he reached behind his head and untied the blindfold. He let it drop into one hand and roughly started wiping at the dampness on his face.

Aldrich reached into a pocket and drew out a handkerchief, which he passed to Conner. Conner nodded his thanks and sat there cleaning up his face and ears with it.

"...I don't think we can fix the rift here. But I think you just helped it mend."

Aldrich looked up at Ivan, who was leaning on his cane a little too hard. He shrugged. "I doubt that thing was helping anything here. Whether killing it...or at least sending it away somewhere...will solve the problem...well, who knows? I'm willing to bet, though, that that's about all we could do for this-oof!"

Wolf almost fell on Aldrich in a hug. He wheezed and patted her on the back. "Hey, gentle there, girl. Not feeling too stalwart at the moment, you know?"

"Sorry," Wolf said, releasing him and sitting on the ground next to him. He put a reassuring arm around her shoulders. There was blood drying on his hands.

"Can we go home now, then?" Wolf asked.

Aldrich looked around at his team. At Ivan, struggling with fierce determination to stand. At Conner, cleaning the blood from his ears. At Wolf, bruised and scraped all over from her time in the cages and the arena.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah. Let's go home."


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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 12:25 
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Icarus shifted slightly in its laid out, stomach down position to keep its right arm from going to sleep as it gave a gentle snort. The other Weavers of the present were all gathered around listening as Wolf concluded her story. Iggy sat with a pensive look on his face as always, looking just slightly into the distance, Ute and Hasbro looking more intently to Wolf.

"So...it was Aldrich's coat?" Icarus asked. "He gave it to you before he left?"



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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 13:14 
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Ute, sitting cross-legged and enthralled throughout the story, straightened up and stretched out her legs, but didn't take her eyes off Wolf until Icarus spoke.

"It sounds like the 'Weavers of back then were awesome people. I would love to have met them," she added. "What did happen to them? Did Aldrich leave, like Icarus said?"

She fell silent, suddenly wondering if she shouldn't have voiced her question. She had never heard their leader speak of her past before. She was suddenly worried that she might have touched a nerve. But it was too late to un-ask it, so she simply sat, eyes cast to the ground, and waited to see how Frau Wolf would respond.



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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 17:05 
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Worlds and eons away from the dusty battleground in the broken city, an much older and and tireder Weaver looked up to a ceiling lit by a single florescent light and listened for a moment to the steady noise of rain falling outside.

"Left," she said, mostly to herself. "Yes...yes, it was his coat," she added, looking at her younger team members sitting around in the cramped but cozy room. "I don't know where he got it-as long as I knew him, he had that coat. As for what happened to him..."

For a moment Wolf was lost in another time, as a fading voice whispered in her ear.

"I suppose you could say that they left, yes," she said, with an effort. "At least in the sense that here we are, and here they aren't. But...well, that's a story for another time. This story has been long enough already. I'm worn out enough from telling it."

She stood up and stretched, the palms of her hands almost touching the ceiling. "That's enough for today. We do have a whole city here at our hands, and the rain won't kill you. I'm sure you can occupy yourselves for a while longer." With a nod to her team, Wolf left the room and headed out into the rain. She crossed the abandoned street in a few quick strides, jumping over a deep puddle that had formed in a dip in the road, and entered the building where she spent her rare free time.

There was a room on one of the higher floors, windowed on two sides so that it overlooked the city. A hammock was strung across some old pipes that webbed one corner and spilled out across the walls. There were some small personal effects sitting on makeshift shelves or wedged in the thicker clusters of pipes, but most of the things in the room were in a few boxes and one old chest that all sat neatly stacked together.

Wolf fished a key out of her pocket and opened the chest, kneeling to peer inside at its contents. She pushed aside a much-worn, neatly folded leather jacket and pulled out from the bottom of the chest a frayed and faded red scarf that still smelled faintly of smoke and mint.

For the rest of the long evening, while the rain pounded outside and water seeped and soaked into the great lost city of Midgard Below, the captain of the Weavers laid in the hammock, letting it sway gently back and forth between the pipes, holding the scarf and thinking of older days.


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 Post subject: Ghosts of Weavers Past
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2010, 19:10 
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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The Weaver captain tossed the loose end of his scarf over his shoulder as he made his way down a long and winding set of stairs, rubbing his thumb over and over a small pager-like device. After their latest encounter, Aldrich had done a fair bit of thinking. Things past, things here, things to be--all that existential jazz. But he shook his head to himself and hacked up a cough, renewing the spring in his step as he headed on in just a little ways farther. Conner was still patching up Ivan in the tiny, dilapidated room they jokingly called the clinic. Wolf was with him, probably swinging her legs off the side of a table and waiting for the other two to feel like heading out to some city to get supplies. She'd been very eager to keep working on the clinic, ever since Ivan had suggested they expand it through the other room and at least lay some tile down. Her enthusiasm was contagious too--they were very near completion. Hmm...probably the reason for her enthusiasm in the first place. Compared to fighting hideously evil fallen angels from crashed dimensions, fixing up a room was like a day at an amusement park.

But Aldrich had come down here to be alone, having only taken the briefest time to clean and patch himself up and grab this little device and another from his luxuriously Spartan room and then head down the basement steps. As he approached the bottom of the stairs and that led out into a large, concrete-floored room that smelled of wood dust, he pulled the other device from his pocket and sat in a pile of old cushions and beanbag chairs that had been piled in a corner. Sitting the second device, a small, perfectly nondescript black box a little bit larger than his clenched fist on his knee and steadying it with a hand, Aldrich casually pulled the pager-like device up and used his free thumb to type a single word, hitori and the current date, time and location before selecting "send" from the absolutely tiny little screen menu.

Instantly, a fine line of light appeared on the far side of the room from the stairs, near the cushion-pile, and widened, a harbinger of the equally instantaneous appearance of an average heighted man with dark eyes, dark hair, a sullen expression and a nice but nondescript suit.

"What happened?" the man asked, stepping over to Aldrich.

Aldrich motioned his head to the space on the floor beside him, and the man sat, looking at the cube device resting on Aldrich's knee. Aldrich stuffed the pager-thing back into his coat.

"Time travel's a handy thing to have. How long ago did you first see the message?"

The man looked out around the cool, damp room, "Almost a week ago. We've been dealing a very paradoxical case lately. You'd like it: the group reminds me of the one you have."

Aldrich let out a chuckle and small wheeze. "Yeah. I bet you have. Remind me to introduce you to them sometime."

"I won't."

"Oh, that's too bad. They're a handy bunch to know." The captain heaved an sigh that actually did not degenerate into a cough or wheeze for once, and tilted the cube device over so it fell into the hand Aldrich had been holding it with, offering it to the man in the suit. "Well, don't remind me then, just remind yourself. I need you to give this to one of them. Later."

The man accepted the item and gave it a glance over before resting it on his own knee, "Later, obviously. Apparently much later, else you would deal with it yourself."

Aldrich nodded. "Don't know how long, but by my figuring it will be quite a while."

"You don't know when it should be delivered?"

"Not a clue. But you'll know. Believe me, you'll definitely know. At a time for things lost, a time for things found, a time when memories are unwound."

The man raised an eyebrow, "Sounds like a post-paradox fact in form."

Aldrich gave another small cough, and placed his palm roughly on the concrete floor, "Oh, don't speak jargon at me. I read it in a book once. A really... really great book." He hesitated for a moment and the two men sat in silence. "It's for the kid on my team. The girl one, not the..." he motioned with his hands, "pointed eared boy. Answers to Wolf."

The man looked sharply at Aldrich, a large display of emotion from him, "Wolf?"

Aldrich raised his eyebrows likewise, "Yeah...you know her?"

The man wrinkled his brow, though not in a completely negative manner, "Quite well. She's a fine woman. Good leader. She's in your team now?"

"She is." He chuckled again, "Good future for that girl, I knew it."

The man didn't respond immediately to Aldrich's last comment, and they again sat in silence for a short time before the man broke the silence. "Why now? Where did you get this?"

Aldrich shifted his weight to his other side, wincing ever so slightly at a bruise he'd acquired on his bum. "That? I've had that thing with me for a while now--" he broke into a small fit of more severe coughing. The man sat respectfully waiting, knowing that the offer of medical treatment would be entirely and immediately dismissed. Aldrich continued, "I've, ergh, had that for a while now, just never did know if I should do something with it. And now, well, now I just feel it's right to. You've never heard of a character named Ainlein, have you?"

"Can't say that I have."

Aldrich nodded expectingly, "I didn't think so. You wouldn't have. I wouldn't either, but, well, I'm not sure but I think I may have. But anyway, if it was him or not, that fellow did make me feel that things are in motion." The man eyed him as if he were studying Aldrich, but Aldrich didn't seem to mind. He knew the fellow well enough, and he continued, "And I know, I know you aren't one for working off your gut instincts, but you'll have to trust me on this. Just remember what I said."

The man took firmer grasp of the cube and stood, "I won't like it, will I?"

Aldrich pondered for a moment, just a brief moment, before responding, "Forget your work for a minute. Do you like peeking at the last chapter of a book?"

"No."

Aldrich looked out beyond the man, not maintaining eye contact, "You'll hate it. Trust me. I stopped peeking at the end." The man nodded and took a few steps away from Aldrich as if preparing to leave, but Aldrich spoke after him one last time as he turned around:

"Don't bother researching that thing if you know what's good for you. Just put it on your shelf or something and go about your life. And remember: A time for things lost, a time for things found, a time for memories to be unwound."

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

END



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