Mortality_and_Morbidity.docx

Mortality_and_Morbidity.docx

Hey guys, I just wanted to make sure you knew that the TL;DR is probably the best bet for the faint of heart.  There is content that some may find too real or intense for comfort. I am delving into it full bore, and so if you feel frustrated, bored, or uncomfortable, just scroll to the bottom!  Swan dive imminent…


March 28th, 2024. 21:30.00

[Church of Reflections, Interior Meeting Room]

 

The echoes of Ashmadiel’s voice faded, dying on the walls of the surprisingly clean meeting room.  

That’s not a commentary on the Church’s housekeeping team.  The group in the room had, an hour before, been in a room that looked like a psychopath’s birthday party occurred.  2 gallons of blood, added to 165 pounds of bone, flesh, and buffet food coats a surprisingly large area.

The hulking form of Beast seemed deep in thought, pondering the words that had just washed over him.  Trip, then Alice, were caught up in the confusion of the night, drowning in the misinformation mixed with half-truths, and unable to break the surface.  “So, I’m not like these people?” he asked the Guardian-inhabited-Gryphon.

“Yes, you’re different… I uh.. I’m not sure exactly what you are, but you seem to have been created.”

“But How?”

“I do not know.  Alchemists have studied for millennia to unravel the mysteries of gold transmutation, and they didn’t have your science and magics.  So too am I in the dark in regard to your creation. Go to the one that created you, he should know more.”

“Oh, then… Hmm..”

 

[Inside the Sword Prison of Ashmadiel]

 

Garrick sat in an illusion.  He knew it was an illusion because he felt he was in a 10×10 room, but he could see an endless sea of windswept sand mountains. Within the first minute of his existence in this desolate room, frameless viewing screens appeared around him.  He was reminded of old episodes of the Chuck TV show, when people are being given the Intersect.

Instead of random scenes and images, though, he saw periods in his life that fill him with sorrow and regret.  

Garrick interacting with his sister, committing atrocities in jail to fend off the other inmates’ darkness… Scene after scene, haphazard frantic images bathed him in an aurora death throe.  

From the haunted, pained look on his face, those familiar with his empathetic heart could see his thoughts were on Ashmadiel’s endless torment while she waits in this place.

 

[Outside the Church]

 

Geist walked out to meet Victor, who was leaving Hank’s grandma’s house in a hurry.  They met on the sidewalk in front of the church as Hank and I got through the front door of “Granny’s.”

Geist asked of Victor, “Could you tell me more about what happened here tonight?  I need to know what to tell the press.”

Victor responded, his head on a swivel, “Ah, yes senor Geist.  Um, Cai would know better what happened. Me and Him and I, well, we were talking and we thought we might need to talk with everything.  Cai?”

Caedechron looked at Geist, and said “Victor, I think he was asking about the time of the night before he and I got there.  I was there for the death of the first guy, but you seemed you were more aware of the situation… Wasn’t it you I saw wrapped around him?  Geist knows what happened down there in the basement.”

Victor explained his motivations and the situation that unfolded on the main floor.  Geist seemed to have a pound put on his burden with every word. Cai thought he could read the concern written on his face – “how am I supposed to explain this to the media?“

The explanations were made, and not a minute too soon – a windowless white van arrived on the scene, with a garish decal splashed across its side with the words, “Eliza Gunn CH WCTV Ch-5”

Geist looked at Cai, and urgently whispered, “Could you be a doll and help those two people at our base return to their friends?”

 

[Church of Reflections, Interior Meeting Room]

 

Beast reeled from the knowledge that he was not one of the Nightbane.  But he wasn’t a naturally occurring mutant. Someone had done this to him, and he was positive who it was.  His face screwed up in anger and determination as he thought of a plan to get to the bottom of his own history.

That fire, growing in his belly, fueled his words to the young, confused Nightbane of the Church of Reflections.  Ashmadiel returned to her prison, and Gryphon emerged to make impassioned pleas, together with Beast. Phantom strings played a growing anthem, followed by imagined horns, calling to their determination and cores of strength.  The confusion washed away, leaving determination and wonder in its place. They were to search out the other Nightbane awakened by the Church, and take up the fight against the Nightlords’ footholds on the earth. They were to be the guardians of the earth.

Black Phantom – well, Nathan West, since he wasn’t wearing his mask – seeing the unintended consequences coming crashing around their heads, brought everyone back down to solid ground.  Like a kite on the wind, they had shot into the clouds. But like that same kite, without a tether to the ground they’d all be destroyed by the fall caused by the first errant gust. He made sure that they had goals, and that they understood that they were their own heroes.  They were the ones that would and could do all of these things by themselves.

Nathan realized, in his weariness, that the night was not yet over.  He needed to meditate and try to divine the future to answer one question the Nightbane couldn’t answer, and neither could Gryphon – Was there still a threat from the Mirror Ceremony?  Abrupt, partially due to his exhaustion, and partially due to his innate nature, Nathan explained some of what happened with John and Stella, citing the confusion everyone involved had during the night, apologized to them, and left with his most sincere, “Anyway, Peace Out, Mutha Fkers.”

 

[Outside the Church of Reflections]

 

Cai assured Victor that the retrieval of the two ‘prisoners’ from the base was a one-man job, and shoved him in the direction of the eagerly waiting Eliza Gun, Channel 5 News.  As Cai lifted off of the ground, his poorly calibrated ASR (Automated Speech Recognition) software caught some of the interview between the two.

“Who was here?”

“Leader of church of Reflections.”

“Was this someone new? Was it a plot by Sinistry? Or Halcyon? Overrun?”

“…Don’t know the villains of Century Station… new… ”

Cai looked back with his telescopic vision, and saw Eliza speak with Geist after finishing with Victor.

 

[S.A.V.I.O.R. Base Interior]

 

Cai reached the base, and hurriedly walked to his storage closet.  

Every member of Savior has a 10’x12’ room in the dormitory section.  Everyone has at least a bed that suits their individual needs, except for Cai.  He has a pile of crates, several industrial outlets, a wire music stand for physical sheet music, a free-hanging oLED, and a comfy patch of wall to lean against when he’s charging or not acting in any outward way.

After checking it again for gore, he placed his violin – a Stradi he was gifted by the estate of a Glasgow Symphony 4th chair, if you wanted to know – and bows reverently in his second foot locker – the one for more fragile items.  He decided it would be better to keep it in the base than knocking around a robot’s chest in the middle of combat.

To fill the vacancy, he grabbed his hover drone.  Better battlefield knowledge should help the group, he thought.

Off to release the captives he went.  No sooner had he opened the door to the room Stella was in, that he was attacked by tendrils of some inky black substance.  He ducked behind the door, but not before catching a glimpse of what was in there.

The only being in the room was a woman with a strange, dark complexion.   Her arms were wound about with barbed wire, and on her back were a pair of enormous, fetid, decaying bat wings – if bats grew to the size of humans.  The tendrils came at him from her hands, where half a dozen sprouted from each hand.

““Stella, I’m sorry, i’m here to take you back to the church, i apologize, it was a confusing time, i didn’t know what was going on. one of my friends said you needed to be taken here for your safety…”  And no, there wasn’t good grammar. Cai was shaken – the tendrils did some serious damage to his hands and face, and that just didn’t happen all too often. He’d been in a dozen fights since getting this body, and as long as he’s had his class IV body armor on, this was the first time it didn’t completely protect him.

The two prisoners, one from the open room, the other muffled in the shut one next to it, plead to be released.

Cai held his hands up in submission, and walked into the doorway. “Promise not to shoot?” he asked belatedly.

The woman asked, “Are we free to go? Let my friend out.”

“Ok, I will let him out I can also take him to the church if you want.” Cai reassures her as he walked slowly to John’s door and unlocked it.

Inside this room was an enormous, amorphous blob.  Pseudopods were questing out, grabbing random makeshift weapons, and waving menacingly toward the door.  Stella said from behind Cai, “he’ll take us to the church. Calm down.” Though she held her form at the ready to do violence, the Blobathan reverted to just John.

Cai offered harnesses to the two, explaining that it would allow him to carry them with more comfort than their previous journey.  They agree to try them on, but follow the robot cautiously.

They arrived at the hangar, and as stella put hers on, she looked at Caedechron ponderingly. Then, without warning, her wings fell and started to spontaneously decompose, the barbed wire began to be absorbed into her skin, the color of which changed to her regular tone. Warily, she put on the harness. “Better not be trick…’’ she muttered.

“I can assure you it’s not, but my word doesn’t mean anything to you right now and I understand that.” Cai grabbed a handhold on each harness, a strap used to secure rappelling lines or other parachuters, and flew the two back to the church.

 

[Church of Reflections, Exterior]

 

Several groups of police officers and EMTs approached Nathaniel West as he stood next to Geist’s luxury hovercar, asking if he needed assistance of some kind.  Gryphon, after exiting the church with the other members of the team, walked through the crowd and was seen conversing with several women. The Rubber band man stood a short distance apart from Geist’s hovercar and Nathaniel, with an outrageously cartoonish ear, distended to the size and shape of a tuba’s flared bell.  

Beast exited the front doors with the stragglers of those that were in the basement as Caedechron dropped John and Stella on the steps next to them.  Exclamations of relief and explanations of the night’s events burbled out of every crack around them, and Cai left them to it. As the two members of Savior distanced themselves, Cai’s ASR caught the following.

“I know we don’t interact often, I need you to do me a favor.”

“Yeah,  what do you need?”

“Carl set up appointment with mut gen doc tomorrow.”

“We are the weirdest people.”

“I think he’s the reason I’m messed up.  We don’t want Carl to be in charge when we go to the appointment tomorrow.”

“Ok…”

“So if you could jus…”

“Hold on.  … no, dw it’s the beast. No I gotta.  Yes, it’s fking boring, just let me handle it.”

“Stop by my place tomorrow morning and make sure I’m the Beast and not Carl.”

“Yeah, I can do that.”

Geist beckoned those of savior that could not fly toward his ‘car, and said, “Savior, away.”

The heroes left the aftermath to the professionals, and returned to their home base.

 

[S.A.V.I.O.R. Base, Hangar and Meeting Room]

 

Tensions were raw and at the surface as the group arrived piece-meal in the base’s hangar.  After a short discussion, it was decided to have a quick run-down of the most important or time-sensitive aspects of the night.   Geist said as everyone gathered, “I wanted a very quick overview of what happened, and the overall rundown of the church. A ten-thousand-foot-view as it were.”

He and gryphon started walking to the meeting room, but Nathaniel said, “I wanted to have a full AAR first thing in the morning, I have to decompress.”  Those in the hangar could see his drawn, exhausted, and haunted expression.

The discussion that followed was caught by Cai’s ASR, and has been added into a separate log for some clarity.

To summarize, the tensions did not get addressed properly before Nathan felt he had to recuse himself.  He needed to tie up loose ends to the night, and the psychic pressure on his mind had started to take a serious toll.  On his way out of the meeting room, he ran into Deathwish, who agreed to do some more ‘running-into-him’ in Nathan’s quarters.

The rest of Savior, dissatisfied with the events of the evening, and the abruptness of Nathan’s departure, continued to discuss the problems facing the group.  It was decided that Savior was in desperate need of guidance and unity.

Zeau, the perpetual student, mumbled under his breath something about “Anthropologically” and “Hegemony” and “Nation-States” and then he went off on a tangent about “Ender’s Game” and the unbalanced series written by one of his favorite authors.  Truly, it must have been a love-hate relationship. But Cai understood the reference to hegemony, and agreed with Zeau’s connection. The only way to truly govern this group would have to be through the persuasion of the entire group, unified in following a single entity or goal.  Savior’s made up of too many strong wills for success to be achieved otherwise.

 

[S.A.V.I.O.R. Base, Corridors and Dormitory]

 

Meanwhile, during the hour that the discussion was happening, and after Deathwish rejoined them in the Meeting Room, Nathan West borrowed a cosplay outfit from Carl’s dormitory that was much too small for him.  For an outside observer, the entire night would have been bizarre, but it was necessary.

Returning to his candle-lit room, he meditated.

In the small hours of the morning, he finally moved again, draping the cosplay over his shoulders and sat cross-legged on the floor, serene face lifted slightly toward the ceiling.  In his new, clairvoyant trance, he was able to put to rest his worries about the Mirror Ceremony. He also searched the ether for any way to help Carl. Despite being gruff, he felt compassion in his own way toward the young adult, and wanted to find an answer for him.  

After several confusing hours, he found himself in the hallway that Carl’s mind projects when psionic adepts traipse through it.  He caught glimpse of a conscious Alice behind her usual door, and he returned to his own mind.

 

[S.A.V.I.O.R. Base, Machine Shop]

 

The following was caught by the ASR, though most of the conversation was missed.

Cai, asks “What kind of Phones does eveyrone have? Does everyone have one? It’s just strange that no one knows where anyone else is. We’re in 2024.”

Gryph, “people are worried about security, especially BP.”

Cai, “Yeah, but AI helps. It could secure things.”

Gryph, “Archie, could you keep things secure?”
Archie, “Yep. Pretty Darn.”

Gryph, “Do our comms give position?”

Archie, “In base, yep.”

Gryph, “Could it be modded to do out in city.”

Archie, “Possible, yep.”

Gryph, “Do it!”

Cai, “Perfect.  So another thing, I pioneered a universal app to be a firmware upgrade on Robot Audio.”

Gryph, “Ok… uh, do you want a Job?!?”

Cai, “Uh, Yeah, I’m kinda jobless right now, so that’d be great.”

Gryph, “I could use a new head of research.”

Cai, “Do you do stuff with Medical?”

Gry, “We currently have some gov’t projects, but I hope to use the funds from that to pay for humanitarian enterprises. Entry level 90k sound ok?”

Cai, “Yeah, sounds just fine!  The second thing is… Could I work with you on parts for a fighter jet for the group? Some can fly, some can’t.”

Gry, “Amanda would be super ok with that.”

Cai, “perfect, I have some ideas.”

Gry, “are you free Monday?  Sign-on bonus, working on a new body, possible, in future.

Reminded of the original body existing.”

During their conversations, they performed body work on Caedechron, and repaired the battered sections of Class IV Armor he usually wears.  Unusually in-sync, they improved the robot’s body past where it originally was, firming up the structures, and hardening some of the armor plating.

 

[S.A.V.I.O.R. Base, Morning]

 

Tensions were shallowly buried over the night, with several of the key individuals not resting properly.  The following discussion, resulting ultimately in one member possibly leaving, and another being raised to leadership, have been saved from Cai’s uncalibrated ASR.

After the voting was completed, it was decided that much of the group would accompany Beast to his appointment with the leading mutant doctor.  

 

[Outside, Moira Taggart of Century Station, LLC]

 

The group arrived at the clinic’s address in Silver City, consisting of: Beast in Carl form, wearing a suit; DeathWish; Mrs. Amazing; Gryphon; Caedechron; and Victor.

No sooner had they arrived than an explosion shook the ground.  All but Gryphon jumped on Caedechron’s shoulders or arms, and rose to the Doctor’s floor.  The faces Cai saw brought the whole situation around, and connected dots in his mind. These were the same people that attacked Beast’s other friend, at Indbur Industries.  The need to capture them alive burned in Cai’s chest, as he started to run through battle strategies.


TL;DR

The Church of Reflections shattered like glass, followed by parts of Savior, followed by the windows of Professor Xavier’s girlfriend’s Century Station labs, to be followed soon by the bones of those trying to hide Beast’s past and future.


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