'Ignore the other McNeils. Save John. Finish off the other McNeils. Leave John. How empty is the gun? Where is John? Where is his attacker? What is her power? Is John about to die?'
A woman had broken free of the Ent-Man and hit John, she had moved with such brutal force that John had been knocked over. Perhaps even killed. John had shouted for help before the impact, or was it after impact?
James' brain worked at full speed, deciding who to shoot. After a very quick deliberation, James spun round and trained Ben McNeil's gun on Jenna. Hands shaking, he fired at her again and again until the gun was empty. *click*click*click* It only took a few seconds, then James dropped the gun and charged with his full speed at Jenna, hitting her with great force in the back.
Charles picked through the parts of abandoned technology. Most of the necessary parts he need survived much of the damage that hit other stores. How fortunate for him he was one of the rare individuals that took value in these things.
Charles' scavenging came to a halt when he heard cries of pain from the people outside. The excess gusts of wind out of nowhere certainly wasn't a good sign. He crept up to the door to observe the man causing the disturbance. Charles recognized him as a remember of the McNeils. One of those tyrants was alone and right in front of him. How could he pass up the opportunity to spread some justice?
Charles rotated the dial on the back of his glove swung open the door. He focused on George's face, and 3 purple bullets of energy blazed out of Charles' hand. He hoped it would be enough to end the battle right there. If not, he would be in for a rough fight.
Gavin slowed himself and landed on the wall to the side of the hole Dan had made. Trying to stifle his own breathing, Gavin listened for any movement in the room. Things had died down outside, mostly due to the fact everything outside was dead. There was the occasional scream, a was extremely close to the mansion, seemingly falling from the sky. Meanwhile, someone set off an air horn down the street. Aside from that, only a few random gunshots echoed and nothing else. He heard a single set of footstep moving hastily around the room. Dan was probably waiting for him, seething mad, punching the air, just waiting for the "flying man" to show himself.
"Well, I probably should keep h-him-" Gavin slid down the wall, clutching his chest. He wasn't down, but Gavin wondered how longer he could honestly deal with a superhuman like Dan. Things like hunger and exhaustion become irrelevant in a fight if your enemy can't get hurt. Gavin on the other hand had at lest 7 bullet wounds, nearly got his neck snapped, his chest felt like crap, and he was running on the fumes of a banana he'd found in his old lunch bag. As Gavin sat there, letting himself breath for a moment, he wondered what the hell the military was doing. And what exactly happened to the rioters? The McNeil's couldn't have killed them all and he only remembered seeing a few clusters of people run off. He slowly pushed himself away from the wall, out over the room, and lined up with the hole.
"Might as well get the drop on Dan before he get's the drop on me." Gavin said, ignoring his other questions and simply wondering why Dan hadn't jumped back into the room to break his neck. Gavin fired his grappling hook through the hole and to the opposite wall.
"Hey Dan, remind me-" Gavin yelled to the next room. He reeled himself through, detached the hook, and shot through the hole. He found himself drifting over the center of the room. Gavin aimed his hook downwards, making a quick mental note to dive in feet first this time. "Which round are we on you angry son of a bi-"
Gavin stared down at the floor. Below him, where the ever imposing Dan McNeil was supposed to be was little whimpering face. Gavin slowly lowered himself and walked up to the child, kneeling down, lowering his hood and taking off his flight goggles.
"Um, hey little guy. What are you doing here all by yourself?" There was a quick click behind the boy and Gavin looked up to see a pistol in his face. He slowly rose and met the eyes of an elderly woman. "He's not alone." She weazed, her hand shaking a bit. Gavin looked behind her to see over a dozen women and children huddling together in a corner of the room next to a few barricaded windows. The boy looked up at Gavin, slightly confused.
"He has powers, isn't he like Uncle Dan?" The boy asked. He couldn't have been older than 5 years old.
"No, he is nothing like Dan! He's like the people outside! Get away from him!" The boy looked up, still a bit confused, but something about the words "people outside" caused him to jump away from Gavin and scramble towards the cluster of people.
"Haven't you tortured us enough? Now you people are sending in your own freaks to torment us even more?! When Dan get's back-" The woman grabbed her chest, breathing heavily. Gavin slowly started backing away from her and noticed a hole in the floor, slightly covered by a fallen bookcase. "That's where he must have landed." Gavin thought. "But wait, he knew I was in the adjacent room. Why would he just leave them here?"
"Uh-excuse me ma'am, but where exactly is Dan-" There was a burst of gunfire from beneath them and screaming. People shouting at each other before letting out a yell as Dan's voice boomed and the house suddenly shook from an impact. More gunfire and screaming made it's way through the house, seemingly rising up a flight of stairs. Gavin looked over at the walls wondering what the hell was happening but snapped his head back as the people in the corner let out a few screams. He noticed a lot of them were bleeding. A few of the children had welts, black eyes, and bumps on their heads, blood trickling through their noses. A few of the females were in similar condition, but a lot more seemed to be missing their pants, a number of liquids rolling down their legs.
"What the hell is going on?" Gavin mouthed before the door was kicked and Dan made his way in. With one hand, he was carrying a misshapen slab of concrete which he used to block the door. The pitter patter of bullets from a range of homemade, old, and shitty guns could be heard harmlessly clattering against the makeshift wall. Once he made sure it was in place, he turned to Gavin.
"Don't you move. Don't you fucking move an inch. I'm going to snap your neck, that much is certain. But if you let me, I might give you a few more precious seconds of air." Dan said, furious. He was covered in a blood and breathing heavily. But it wasn't pain or exhaustion.
The boy Gavin had first seen ran over to Dan, grabbing his leg and driving his nails into the superhuman's skin with all his might. Dan looked down at the little boy but pushed him away with ease, the same way a relative kindly urges a kid to go on and get in the car with mom and dad, telling him they'd have fun together next time. Gavin wasn't exactly sure what was happening, but he'd seen enough to understand.
"Alright, look. Maybe we can reschedule our little bout. I know you don't want them to get hurt and neither do I. I'm not sure what the hell's going on, but please let me just float back through the hole and-" Gavin was interrupted by the sound of a door in the next room being kicked in. Just as quickly, a pin was heard being pulled and a canister was thrown through the hole Dan had initially made. Gavin could only watch as Dan jumped for the canister before slapping on his flight goggles and watching the world fall apart.
Lenneth flew around the upper floors, looking for something she could use to put the fires out, but found nothing cept fire extinguishers "well fine, i'll try to not rip the roof off then ..." she said to her self as she flew up to the roof.
upon getting above the roof she spotted two men there and landed by them "in case you haven't noticed the roof is of fire, so, unless ether of you have a 'neat-o' power that will help, i suggest getting off the roof, cause I'm not going after you if you get knocked off" her tone was polite with a some what sarcastic undertone at first, the sarcasm thickening at 'neat-o powers' but that changed to a tone that was more 'your in the way now get lost' in nature.
she then started channeling her power into her larger wings it took a few moments but it started to become noticeable by them blurring over, Lenneth stopped at a point she thought she had enough and gave one mighty flap, lifting her off the roof and putting more energy behind the pressure wave then would there would have been normally, all in an attempt to extinguish the flames and hovered above the roof to make sure the flames where out
The Haitian totally-doesn't-do-voodoo doctor! Rico hadn't properly expected that.
"Rico, what ah ya doin? Why did you set de roof on fiah?"
What?! Could the doctor not see his immolated clothes and desperate face? Clearly, he was the victim here! Was it not obvious!?
"I didn't, that-"
"Listen, you ah on lots of meds right now, you ahn't tinkin clearly. Come with me bahck to your room and I can 'elp you."
He sounded so calm, so reassuring, as if he truly wanted to help Rico. As if... as if... AS IF he had taken any meds! No one at this blasted hospital gave two damns about him after he had arrived, let alone asked him if he needed painkillers!
"I'd take your word for it, doc, if you'd been so kind as to medicate me."
Everything started to click into place somehow, even though Rico was missing a lot. The three Haitians... voodoo... set the hospital on fire... attacked him and then wanted to help... Rico would be damned if they weren't all in on it together, but the doctor telling a lie so transparent was the clincher. He wanted to hurt Rico. Probably cast a hex on him or make a doll. No can do, dammit!
"Doc, don't think I can't see through your evil, evil visage and see that you revel in evil. You tell me that Voodoo is hocus-pocus, but I have no doubt in my mind that you're wrapped right up in it!" Actually, Rico had quite a few niggling doubts, but he didn't have the time to be wrong. He wanted nothing more to do with the doctor anyways.
The doctor looked fairly shocked. "You crazy, mon! You been on meds since you started! How do you not recahll?"
Rico stepped closer to the edge of the building. "Ya know, I remember a verse I had to memorize once. Isaiah something something. 'But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.'" Rico stepped again. "I may not soar like an eagle as I leave this hospital, but meh, the comparison is close enough for me."
As he turned to jump, he was suddenly distracted by a dark figure launching up past them.
She turned and looked at both of them. "In case you haven't noticed, the roof is on fire, so, unless ether of you have a 'neat-o' power that will help, I suggest getting off the roof, cause I'm not going after you if you get knocked off."
Well, gee lady, thanks for the warning!
Her face wrenched up a bit, clearly channeling power, blurring her wings. Rico turned to the doctor, who clearly wasn't sure how to react to anything happening in front of him.
"Looks like I'll be soaring off of here after all!"
The flames bent a full eighty degrees, taking them out, barely missing the doctor. His legs were cut out from under him, and he launched backwards through the roof door.
Rico however, was now in free fall. He spun off the hospital roof, clearing the street entirely.
The wind ripped the air out of Rico's lungs. He instinctively howled as the jagged corners of the opposite buildings approached, but no sound came out. He smashed into one, yanking a significant chunk of the cement out. He fell again, his head crunching on a streetlight, spinning him head-over heels into the alley between the buildings across from the hospital, where he landed on his neck.
Breathe. Breathe. Pull in. Push out. Agh. Breathe.
Seconds later, Rico was gone, vanished into the alleyways.
Violence was spreading throughout the palace like wildfire. Even though Darryl was fast asleep outside, his dupes were able to witness the chaos that erupted inside. The individuals who survived the conflict from outside the palace were now flooding into the first floor. All the bent up anger from years of abuse took the form of rioting, pillaging, vandalism etc. The sounds that filled the air were those of shouts, screams, gunfire and general destruction. The 3 dupes who had attacked Dan moved from room to room and witness things atrocities that they believed only happened in TV shows and films. As they made their way to the second floor they could hear screams of a woman coming from what appeared to be a bathroom. They rushed to the scene only to witness their "brother" trying to fight off two men.
"Get the fuck over here," the 4th dupe shouted as he wrestled one man to the ground while another was trying to run him through with a knife from behind.
The the 2nd and 3rd dupe quickly slammed the armed man head first against the sink as blood gushed from his head upon impact. The man's body went limp as it fell to the floor with a loud thud. The 1st dupe had tackled the man who was trying to pin his "brother" and threw him up against the wall. The four dupes all converged on the man and knocked him out cold. All the duplicates then turned their attention to what exactly they had been fighting for. A woman was curled up in the corner of the bathroom holding on to what seemed to be her children, two twin girls who couldn't have been older than 7 or 8.
The 1st dupe knelt down and extended his hand, "Are you OK?"
The woman flinched and held her daughters tighter to her chest. Her clothes were ripped and tattered and pieces of fabric were scattered all over the bathroom floor. It was pretty obvious what would have occurred if the dupes had not intervened. The first duplicate sighed before he turned to his "brothers" behind him.
"Look we can't just leave her here we have to look out for her."
"Are you serious she's a fucking McNeil!"
"Yeah I'm not sticking my head out for her!"
"Don't make me pull fucking rank. I want the three of you to stay the fuck outside and make sure no more douchebags tries this shit again," the first dupe then separated into three, "we will try to send more your way. Just make sure they dont get hurt."
After blurting his orders to his brothers and stripping the two knocked out sods the 1st dupe took the 5th and the 6th and made their way back into the heart of the palace and took the nearest flight of stairs to the 3rd floor.
It was then, that violence exploded inside the palace as well. Fromanzio would be late to the party, but hopefully he could get in and do his job before everyone left. Fromanzio had the venue picked out, an old abandoned bank that closed after the collapse. The vault was spacious enough to fit a chair and he had been able to fashion the waiting line velvet ropes into something more useful to tie a human up with. The stage had been set for whenever he needed it, mafia days and what-not. He would have taken the soldier there, but that guy wasn't worth the stage.
Fromanzio rushed back to his stash, grabbed a few sub machine guns and placed the walkie talkies in the bank before flying on top of a nearby building to watch what happened. This time clearing all snipers before investigating. No more of that getting shot stuff. The nurse population probably could not support them.
So we are here to capture Henry right? He can probably take it and has some usable information.
Closeeee, we are actually here for his younger brother. Easier to snag and it sounds like Henry was a first generation super, not worth our time. Though for giggles, we are going to broadcast this in sound for him to hear.
Fromanzio was flat as could be, head barely peaking over the rooftop, observing the chaos and waiting for his chance to snag the boy. He wanted Miriam's attention. If his message went undelivered, this would be impossible to ignore. It will break their ranks and ruin a high ranking official in the palace. It would also be hilarious.
Ottis got caught up in the crowd that stormed the palace. At first his noble intentions of defeating the McNeils and being a hero. Turned to utter horror as he saw a naked fully grown man hacking at a blood covered little girl with a machete. People tearing babies away from their mothers and stomping on them. Women, children being raped, murdered, defiled...
Ottis may have his hands over his ears in shock but his whole body absorbs the screams, the sound of pain, the true sounds of terror and death. His body trembling, eyes weld up with... pure rage. The family-man eyed the closest offender to him. A man with his pants around his ankles on top of a small boy tearing away his innocence. Ottis grabbed the fat fuck by the face and as hard as he could slammed his skull into the floor. The man swings blindly as Ottis clambers ontop of him taking a punch or two to the face. Ottis jammed his thumbs deep into the man's eye sockets, directly electrocuting the man's brain.
Standing, twitching, Ottis belts out a primal scream as he proceeds to tackle the guy with the machete. Before the guy could react Ottis had sunk his teeth into his jugular, tasting the iron rich blood, tearing away a fist size hole. Soaking the rocker in blood ... Ottis not concerned, in his ear the sounds of cannibal corpse pound away, in his hand a blood soaked machete and hanging from his mouth strands of human flesh. A few people try lay a hand on him but quickly recoil when zapped.
Ottis feels a sharp pain in his upper left arm as a gun fires randomly into the crowd. A terrified young girl holds onto it, though bleeding out from under her sunflower dress. Next to her a hammer, its claw bloody with human chunks. And, next to that a man clutching his knee cursing at her about being shot. Ottis recognizes him; its his neighbor... Mr.Nelson. He was so pleasant at dinner parties. Ottis takes her gun and shoots the former gentleman in the testicles. Throwing the empty gun. Picking her up and letting her cry in his neck as he slowly.. oh so slowly pierces the man's throat and lets a charge go through the metal blade; then man's gargles slow to nothing.
... Ottis may have lost his mind, trying to protect as many women and children as he can. Those he does save run away from him in fear or ask him to kill them.
Having flown past the balls of energy blasted at him, George caught sight of the person responsible. At first unresponsive, the startled super realized that this must have come from one of the military's personal and that he had infiltrated deep into the city. He had to be stopped, but he also had to return to the hospital and stop the fire that had erupted there in the distance. George dived down from above, cutting away at Charles' shield and lifting him up in the air, holding him by his collar.
"Ye fucking soldier gonna end today", George announced as he flew past a few streets towards the hospital. As he approached the place he witnessed the fire being blown out by someone else - someone who had black wings and could fly. George let Charles go and watched as he tumbled down to his death. He proceeded forward to deal with the other super and then finally return to the palace.
He stopped midair as he recognized the super flying around as one of his employers. A woman who had been a part of a crew the family used a muscle from time to time, mostly loyal to the McNeils.
"Hey-!", George shouted as he hovered in the air, "-Lenneth, is that you? Help me with enemies coming at the palace, I need to stop them from breaking in!". George's eyes witnessed two more men on the roof, and one of them seemed to have committed suicide and jumped down from the rooftop of the Hospital.
'George, please, come back to the Palace... They're already in, oh god, they got your mother and little sister!', the voice of Miriam echoed through his mind.
"Lenneth, NOW, LETS GO", George screamed at her, trying to contain his tears. He won't mourn today... He will save them all.
The situation in the palace was dire. Flinch laid dead together with his brother and their three older nephews on the stairs leading up to the Palace's entrance. The public had already found its way inside, taking every valuable they could find and pocketing it as they continued to torment the other inhabitants of the Palace. All of their rage was unleashed at the last batch of McNeil left in this city, all of their suffering... directed back at them.
Miriam was in her room on the third floor, the windows and doors all closed and her mind struggling to keep them reinforced. She had to make sure nobody would harm her, as she was practically useless if not for her psychic abilities. She saw Dan die a heroic death, and the cowardice of Flinch and his helpers. The rest of the McNeil family laid dead by the hands of the clown or the massive tree ent that had appeared from nowhere. Miriam was now certain of this new phenomenon... These were other supers, ones that did not come from the military. They were once citizens of her fair city, and now...
It's the second Collapse.
James fired the gun in his hand four times, all four bullets missing their target. The marksman novice then dropped the gun and charged at the woman who seemed hellbent on killing John and then hit her in the back. The resulting of the woman's spine broke two of James' fingers and sent the man into a fit of terrible pain. Jenna's hardened bones resisted most assaults and could even rival hot lead. Jenna felt the strike creeping up on her and turned around to witness the other man in pain. In the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of one of the women holding a discarded rifle and aiming it at them, miserably failing at the task and landing almost a dozen shots on the wall opposite to her 12 feet above her head and tossing the rifle down to run away from the scene and hide.
Jenna swung her fist at James, knowing full well that whether he hits her with his bare hands or she hits him he will still suffer greatly.
Lenneth looked up and saw George McNeil, then back down to make sure the fire was as out as it looked, then flew up to him and bowed "by your leave sir" she said as they flew off to they palace "whats the situation at the palace?"
"just get the lead out your on the clock" George said
'that bad eh' Lenneth thought and a few moments later arrived and saw for her self the carnage that was unfolding and dove threw a 3rd floor window around where Miriam's room was and started systematically slaughtering the rioters in the hall, ether threw the use of her powers, or the weapons they had on them, several managed to hurt her fairly seriously, how ever Lenneth would simple grab the nearest person a rip they're life force from them, making seem immortal to those who didn't know better
One minute Martin was walking around the next minute bullets were ripping through the walls. Everything was torn to shreds, Martin felt an bullet hitting him in his shoulder. He fell and quickly tried to escape the bullets while the screams of the people were all around him. WHY WERE THEY FIRING HERE?! There were only civilians here! Martin manged to get into an almost undamaged room in the back. He quickly went to work and within a couple of seconds the bullet was out and the wound closed fast. Martin looked through the shattered glass door to see the the clinic was damaged he saw bullet holes everywhere. Martin acted fast, most of the people were either unhurt a couple were dead but also about 8 people were hit. Martin shouted everyone to keep pressures on the wound as he healed them as fast as he could.
The blood was flowing all over the floor he stitched up as many as he could. 5 made it.. 3 didn't after an quick count 8 had died in this brutal attack. Martin felt anger rising whoever had done this would pay. He commanded the people to get in the back the security team helped the wounded. Martin looked at the fight between the 2n, Martin grabbed his pistol as he took shelter behind an wall. He hid himself and looked at the man, he was unsure of his ability but a bullet would kill most people.
Fromanzio had been observing and gasped when he saw on the third floor, a series of blockages and barriers that seemingly were protecting someone. Miriam was there and maybe he could reach her before everyone else! He chuckled a bit and took his cue to burst in the scene.
I swear, we are going to die here.
What? We are just getting the most important and treasured member of the defense force to a kingdom that has ruled Florida for as long as we can remember.
You do realize that most of our memory is only of-
Yes the past week. Shut up.
The carnage was evident all around him. The entrance was clear and the only people still around were dead or about to be soon. A hand rose up and seemed to be begging for help. Fromanzio watched it slump down and wither like the regime was.
Okay, forget the kid! The new plan is to kidnap Miriam and torture her!
She can beg for help from anyone, not like-
We are going to blindfold her and you are going to keep busy attempting to block any control she might have over us. Then I get to have my...jollies.
You sadistic bastard.
Fromanzio flew up and broke into the second story windows. The fighting was taking place on the first floor mainly and anyone coming would be reinforcements. His guns were loaded and he began scanning from room to room, opening doors and killing everyone he saw. Bullets were flying and hiding civilians were screaming as the mafia's guns ripped into them. Bullets were never a concern as most of the guards were using similar weapons with the same ammo cartridges. Thank this great nation for standardized weapon systems.
As he reached the stairs, life seemed surprisingly voided and gone unlike the now mostly dead second floor. The fighting, or more of a massacre was still taking place on the first floor, but guards were starting to head up to attempt to save who they could. Each door Fromanzio opened was empty and when he found a bolted one, he giggled. "Miriammmm we found youuuuu." Fromanzio unloaded both of his remaining bullets on the door, aiming a few at the locking mechanism.
Matthew's pain was slowly fading. At least he wasn't bleeding as bad anymore. His shoulder was still flayed and he felt numb all over. His rib also ached, which made standing up a pain, but he did it anyways, the staircase was no permanent shelter. He had made a mistake. At least, he thinks he had made one. The man who he wanted to kill had not been with the Mcneils. The fact that Henry had tried to shoot him to death had proven this more or less. The predator within had recoiled. He did not wish to hunt anymore, he just wanted to survive. Though Aiken was still hurt, at least he could cling to his humanity for now.
He stayed on his feet, taking a deep breath and he pulled down his sleeves over his claws again. It was a pointless gesture. The bullet holes in his clothing revealed the green scales beneath. Aiken would go for the building. The man with the gun could fly, but his aim did not seem all that accurate. He doubted he would stray off the roof either. It was empty now. A good place to shoot at the commotion beneath if anything. He still didn't know what was happening in those alleyways, but he'd find out sooner or later. For now, he wanted to find his former prey, not to kill him though, but to speak to him. Matthew had questions. But they would not be violent. He felt a pang of guilt for throwing himself at a person so recklessly. He would never have thought in such ways if it wasn't for his affliction. It was indeed a far cry from the accountant he had once been.
He took his time, letting the pain ease a bit more as he grew tense. He was in control now. No instincts would throw him off. He darted out of the cover of the iron staircase, heading around the building. His gaze remained focused forward, not on the roof. The speed at which he moved was impressive as ever, it only took half a lap before he found the door, twisting violently out of hi stride and ripping it open. He stepped into what appeared to be some kind of reception. An office building, perhaps? Aiken took a deep breath and calmed himself. He wasn't going to appear aggressive, anything but aggressive he thought to himself. Stepping towards the stairs, he made his way to the second floor calmly, suppressing the ache he felt in his protesting bone.
Matthew called out, a coarse, worn voice, tinged with pain.
"You're not with the Mcneils are you? Why are you here? Do you intend to bring them down?"
He didn't have line of sight yet, but maybe they'd hear him. It was a stupid gambit, but the man who had been on the roof had nothing on him in melee, he was certain of that, though he'd rather avoid a confrontation. With the beast suppressed, Aiken did not feel up to the task of murdering anyone ever again and the thought of it caused bile to gather in his throat. He was pretty certain this was the right building. Matthew had heard the man yell, he was also aware of the loud crash through a set of windows. But now, that awareness was dulled and it worried him a little.
Charles cursed under his breath as every energy bullet missed their target. Before he could fire another volley, the super human was upon him. Charles was lifted up in the air, completely at the man's mercy.
"Ye fucking soldier gonna end today"
"Eh buddy. Do I look like a soldier to you? I am a super hero. And you shall show me some proper respect."
George completely ignored Chucky's rant as he flew him towards the hospital. He could see smoke raising from the building. On the ground, various fights were breaking out around town. Chuck was being taken to the epicenter of the battle. This was the last place he wanted to be.
"I do enjoy the nice view you're giving me and all, but I still have some looting to do, and you are not helping my cause. Now are you going to put me down, are am I going to have to make this turn ugly?"
George gave Chuck exactly what he asked for. The would be hero was now descending to his death.
Well this is just unfortunate. I do kind of wish I had finished building that jetback. Though maybe...AH!
Chucky quickly twisted the dial on his left hand. Mere seconds before he would hit the ground, a large purple shield took most of the force and broke apart the concrete. Viral was sent rolling backwards like a hamster in ball, and ended up crashing into the wall of the hospital. The shield wet down, and Chucky's face hit the pavement hard.
"Oww...Well at least I had fun."
Chucky surveyed the area. Noticing all the armed conflict breaking out, he ran to the back of the hospital knelt down for a breather.
'My power, I'm not using my power, I'm vulnerable.' James could feel his hand, the white hot feeling of pain running through it. Another fist came at him, one he dodged. James moved in a blur, raining blows upon Jenna McNeil. He avoided using his injured hand, instead preferring to use his elbows and forearms to strike.
Nothing happened, no strike, no matter how fast and powerful could seem to faze her. Her own attacks were difficult to dodge, she was strong, yet precise. Few could claim to possess both qualities.
Sometimes all the speed in the world will do nothing against one very determined woman. James suddenly felt himself be grabbed by strong hands and thrown down the street. Hitting the ground hard and skidding across the road until he was about 10 metres away from Jenna.
James' arms felt as if they were burning, he felt stabbing pains he was sure meant a rib or two had been broken. He feel the right side of his face and the back of his neck stinging where they had scraped with the road. Gently raising a hand to his cheek he could see blood. He could taste it too. Attacking Jenna had not worked. Everything he had struck her with felt bruised and broken, he was bleeding somewhere on his face and some ribs were broken.
This was turning out to be a really bad day.
"Miriammmm we found youuuuu."
"and i, you, Clown" Lenneth said from down the hall, her shirt had holes from knife and gun shot wounds, though she looked unharmed, her snow white skin, and outfit was covered in blood even dripping off her hand, she was in full 'at work' mode, her expression was cold and emotionless even as drenched as she was
she immediately opened fire on him with a gun she stole from a now dead rioter untill the clip was empty, then with out even waiting to see if he was down, reared back and fired a shot gun like blast of negative energy that fill the hall way leaving no open place to hide
Fromanzio heard a voice and saw a gun. He did not register who it was but he immediately moved into action. The gun she had was a pistol and Fromanzio jumped far to the left and flew back. This caused the bullets to miss and Fromanizio reloaded his machine guns. As he landed he finally saw who it was. The lady who gave him a seat at the hospital.
Fromanzio quickly scanned his surroundings as a ball of some energy; he could not tell of what kind, was forming and about to hit him. He spotted a window and flew as fast as he could out of it, firing a few shots down the hallway as he retreated. The energy ball absorbed the bullets however and collided with the wall, sending chunks of it flying. Fromanzio and Luneth were able to easily see each other now. He waited to see her next move.
"If this is about the bullet wound, the person who caused it is right there. Like, right there. It seems that does not interest you at this moment. Conflicting goals are the best goals."
Oh man, we are so getting killed.
Nah, I just need her in the open is all. She can't fly so it hardly matters. Energy balls are just big bullets right?
"If this is about the bullet wound, the person who caused it is right there. Like, right there. It seems that does not interest you at this moment. Conflicting goals are the best goals."
"don't worry, this isn't about the bullet wound, for you its much, MUCH worse, I'm on the clock, i have a 'no survivors' policy while i'm at work you see, sides" she said as she stuck to cover, sending her energy though the shadows and to the shadows in the bit of cover "Miriam wouldn't shot me, she's not that direct" she said as energy bolts shot out of the shadows at him.
Fromanzio had been paying attention to all of his surroundings. It appeared he was being underestimated, which while unfortunate for her, would lead to his victory. Shadows don't move that way and Fromanzio caught on it quickly, the ball that shot up might as well have never existed for Fromanzio dodged it with ease.
"Tsk, if you play like that then we are just going to have to take those toys away!"
Fromanzio decided it was time to counter attack, he flew at ludicrous speeds at the wall, slowing down and firing about five shots from his guns in wild directions before he saw Luneth. He then began firing directly at her before flinging himself back into the skies. This time a little higher in case she tried anything funny.
Sarah continued her reckless charge across the road and towards the person who had opened fire on the clinic. Finally, the shooting stopped, giving her a chance to look up and see who it was she was aiming to collide with. Staring directly in front of her, at the place she had been shot at from until just a second ago, she saw... nothing.
She continued running, but her target simply wasn't there. Instead of charging into him, she crashed through the wall of the apartment building opposite the clinic, and collapsed into the resulting heap of rubble on the other side. Now her mind was racing, but she couldn't make sense of what had happened at all.
Sarah was certain that she hadn't imagined the attack, and she had seen the bullets flying towards her from across the street, but when she had reached their source there had been nothing there. The attacker must have used some kind of power, but exactly what she wasn't certain. None of the McNeils could do anything like that, so it had to have been someone from outside the town, or a newly awakened person like herself...
She pushed a chunk of the wall off her leg, and then tried to get up. Her powers had protected her from most of the damage, but not that first shot which had caught her totally by surprise in the clinic. Her left arm was covered in blood from the wound, and as soon as she tried to use it to pick herself back up all the pain the adrenalin had been suppressing came back to her at once.
This was all too much for her. The scene she had witnessed in the clinic was replaying over and over again in her mind, pushing her to the edge of sanity. Shaking profusely, she called out to the person who had caused it all.
"WHY!? Why have you done this!?"
Lenneth had expected this, she wanted him out of cover, so when he flew by shooting at her all he hit was her barrier. she felt that, and had to take a few deep breaths to recover 'k, he's probably waiting for me to chase him' she thought
'and i've been at this long enough i'm gonna run out of steam before i finish him, new plan' she though as she ran back to the last group of rioters she slew and liberated them of their side arms and any extra ammo 'time to start playing my game' as she headed for the far window from the one Fromanzio went threw it and flew up and into the clouds at a speed one would not think possible with wings like hers
Gavin slowly opened his eyes only to recoil a few seconds later. Whatever had been in that canister had fucked up his eyes. Once again, Gavin slowly opened his eyes, slightly shielding them from the day light. What the fuck had happened? Why the hell was he alive? Where the hell was Dan? There were still gunshots and screaming echoing around him throughout the McNeil Palace. His eyes finally adjusted and Gavin finally got a chance to see the scene around him. Gavin hunched over, grabbing his stomach and covering his mouth. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. They'd been sliced up...all of them. Every women and child, cut up. Sliced in a number of ways, splattered against the wall, and lying there in a gruesome pile with blood seeping out from under it. Gavin turned away, sickened, not simply because of their deaths but because the cuts looked so perfect, so "clean."
"Jesus fucking Christ..." As Gavin turned, he saw Dan, sitting against a wall with his eyes wide open and holding the canister with what remained his right arm. He was missing left arm while his right was riddled with smaller cuts. Both his legs were sliced off, lying in two different corners of the room. His head and chest were the most particular gruesome and confusing. The top of his head had been peeled back and his brain was exposed, a number of large slices taken from it. There was a triangular hole where his heart should be.
"Sorry about the family, Dan..." He said, noting the look of shock and agony on his face, his body staring at the mutilated corpses. Gavin then looked around the room, realizing the walls had cuts in them two. "Wait, why am I still here." He cautiously removed the canister from Dan's grip, slightly weaker in death than it had been in life. "And what the hell is this?" He said, inspecting it.
Gavin looked it over but eventually realized what it was. It was a regular old flashbang. Improvised, but still a flashbang. How the hell could it have caused all this and leave him unscathed? Gavin looked over toward the wall where the flashbang had been through through a hole. The mishapen hole Dan had jumped through was still there, but floor level was a perfectly cut square. It didn't make sense. So a group of rioters had tossed a flashbang through Dan's hole and then cut their own hole with power tools? When could they have-
"Wait a minute, how long was I knocked out? And-and why didn't I hear anything?!" Gavin was seriously beginning to panic. He clutched his chest and felt something strange on his vest. there was a thick cut moving across it. Nothing fancy, not a shape, no immediate significance, just a cut moving from left to right. Gavin ran his finger along the line. Why did it feel so familiar?
"Oh God...no, no, no fucking way!" Gavin yelled jumping backwards and falling through the block on concrete Dan had used to covered the door. There was another perfect set of slices through the concrete. He scrambled away from the room. It had to have been another superhuman, no doubt in his mind, but the cuts...no, there was no way it could them.
Gavin heard a number of children scream in the room below him. He had to get down, had to make up for...something! He saw a large statue and reduced it's gravity. He then let gravity take hold and the statue fell, cracking the floor. He did this again, and again, and again, until he finally felt the floor give out beneath him and he saw himself landing in front of a firing squad, what remained of the McNeil's behind him in pain. The statue was floating a few feet off the ground beside him. The firing squad was hastily reloading.
"Okay you fuckers, let's see who can shoot the fastest." Gavin said, grabbing the statue and throwing it at the firing squad of rioters.
Fromanzio shrugged. "Bye then."
He waltzed back into the house and opened the door he had shot at. The carnage was pretty absolute aside from Miriam and her barrier. She looked visibly worried but Fromanzio was unable to kill her at this point, but perhaps if a few more came he could.
Aren't you going to chase her?
Not worth the effort. She is no real threat and is obviously trying to trap me. If that was her top speed then we can get away if needed. Fromanzio kicked at the barrier and back out the door. One of the guards rushed at him with a club but Fromanzio simply shot him in the face and grabbed the wooden blunt object.
The rioters were starting to surround the main room at this point, Fromanzio having cleared the second floor for them and the enemy supers having fled. Fromanzio ran around into differing corridors waiting for Luneth to blast back in.
It had barely been a minute after Warren had finished his meal, and his anger was dying. The men were dead, feeding the plants that had taken root at his whim, flourishing on the nutritious flesh and blood that he fed them. There were no more threats to his flowers. Nothing immediate anyway. Slowly, the presence that had made its home at the forefront of his mind receded, until Warren was once again a man. Albeit a 9ft tall plant thing. But still a man.
He took a few steps back from the garden that new grew before him, and appraised it with professional eyes. Not bad really, the grasses were too long really, and the placement could do with some work, but overall, it looked-
Something collided with the back of his legs, and spun off. Warren toppled like a felled tree and landed in his garden. He groaned as the wounds that he had suffered stretched and pulled at his torso, making the effort of getting to his feet a much more painful ordeal that it should be, especially considering he hadn't really felt much in terms of physical sensations since he'd woken up in the sewer.
He glanced around to find the cause of his discomfort and saw a bloodied and broken looking man staring back down the alleyway, his eyes wide with pain and fear. Warren to a step to help him, then realised what he looked like, and backed off. Best to just kill him really. No, wait, what? He should help that man. Like he helped the plants. Or help the plants by killing him. No. Help him. Yes.
Warren's gaze matched the broken man, and saw the woman who had broken free of him before staring down at another man who looked ready to die. For a brief moment Warren was in conflict. Then he uprooted and charged. These men did not deserve this punishment, just like his plants.
His determination was not as flashy as his anger however, and he consciously had to guide the tendrils and vines to his will, snaring the woman's ankles and wrists with barbed coils and pulling. His intentions were hardly PG. Warren remembered her shrugging off his strongest vines like they were little more than rice paper, so he decided the best thing to do would be tear off her skin. Whether it would work or not was questionable, considering his current history of killing other apparently superpowered humans, (the mangled corpse of Ben, brains and limbs akimbo, lay against the wall further back, dead, but not by his hand), but he would damn well try.
Lenneth rode the wind currents long enough to figure out he wasn't following and circled back down then got an idea, the McNeil's wouldn't like it, but at this point it was a losing battle anyway, and Lenneth knew it, she figured she'd be buying time for an escape, at best.
so Lenneth decided to do the logical thing at this point make it very clear how far the gap in power between them really was. Lenneth found Fromanzio running threw the halls 'perfect' she thought with a grin and took a few cheap shots at him from out side threw the windows with the hand gun she had, mostly as attention getters albeit ones aimed at his head.
she followed that with a 'Dark Bomb' as she called them, "Catch!!" she yelled and shot it at him, the damage to that side of the building would be catastrophic, but at this point pretty much every in side the palace was an enemy anyway no sense riding the brakes
Hey is that a giant bomb?
TIME FOR MY TURN
Fromanzio moved faster than one could blink and was outside of the house. He did not even watch as the blast blew up half the building, instead flashing a few inches behind Luneth and smashing her as hard as he could with the club. The acceleration due to his near immeasurable speed had to make the hit feel like a truck. Then moving at speeds unparalleled meters back and firing a ton of bullets at her.
Fromanzio no longer had the glee in his fight anymore, he simply hung from the air like a rag doll and had his eyes analyzing everywhere at speeds unimaginable. He was not teleporting, rather he was moving so fast that the eye could not comprehend his movement.
All Lenneth could do was react after the hit with the club with a barrier that deflected, most the bullets and a defensive curl. a lot still ether got threw or hit her before the shield was up. she missed the rubble pile and hit a near by wall breaking threw that, she looked up in time to see a large part of the second floor fall on her, then darkness, then confusion, she wasn't dead but felt like it.
Lenneth looked around, vision burred from the impact and just pain but couldn't see the McNeil compound, or for that matter anyone else. she took the time to take stock how bad she was hurt, and it wasn't good, she had several chest wounds, what felt like a broken right shoulder and ribs, and the rest where in her arms and legs due to the reflexive curl she did after the hit, it also felt like her wings where broken, not like they would be much use in the state she's in.
she forced her self up and stumble her way to a bus stop she saw and sat down, blink a few times before just leaving her eyes shut as her blood started to pool around her, 'funny, i kinda knew it'd end like this' she thought before passing out, then a sort time later dieing from her injurys
Ottis regained some some his senses when he received a kick to the groin and was shoved to a corner. The little girl held tight onto him. Other survivors were shoved towards him. So much shouting, crying and death... Ottis could only pick out a few words. Death to the McNeils seems to the most common thing yelled.
The rioters raised their guns at the huddled mass of broken people. The little girl screamed MOMMY! Gun fire echoed in those bloodstained halls. Ottis clenched his eyes and shielded the girl from the on coming hail of bullets with his body. Only to feel a body land on him. A young 20 something woman with fair skin and fiery orange hair. Her eyes fixated at Ottis... in a broken voice "save her".
The ceiling of the first floor caved in from a very hefty statue. A mysterious guy kinda floated in after it. Ottis wasn't sure if to much blood got in his eyes or brain damage or... what? But Ottis wasn't gonna give up if hope of survival was still here. Ottis staggered next to the man with the girl still in his left arm.
"Okay you fuckers, let's see who can shoot the fastest." Said the mysterious stranger, grabbing the statue and throwing it at the firing squad of rioters.
Ottis looked at this man... " We have to get them to safety. We have to save em"
A rioter pinned under the statue coughing blood; raises his gun. Ottis's reflex proved strong as he blasted a small bolt of lighting at the man. Gunman drops his weapon and proceeded to expire from being crushed. Ottis's eyes meets Gavin's... and as they were about to say something profound that may have changed their lives forever. But, the interruption of intense heat was upon them.
" What the Fuck?"
Another burst of fire shoots out from around the corner clinging to the walls for dear life. Three men in stolen fire fighter's gear and makeshift flamethrowers stroll into sight burning a path of destruction.
"Who ever these guys were they must of been planing for this since day 1."
Obvious this second wave of rioters were just here to murder as many people as they could; as they took their time to cook those still pinned under the statue.
Ottis raised his hand as ready to fire a painful bolt. "Fitting, Listening to my band's song Blitzkrieg... Oh, I sing for Inferno World..... Nice to meetcha...Now, got anything up your sleeve?"
The blow had made the detachment between his mind and body was even more pronounced. While his mind was crystal clear; floating above and perceiving the storms of minds; his body was being less than responsive. The visual inputs his mind was receiving were blurred and it just wouldn't put a hand where he wanted it to. This was less than optimal; he had to get away from this (understandably) psychopathic woman!
As he tried to get his body to respond he heard a crack as James punched the furious woman. This was his opportunity! If she wasn't beaten already this gave him a chance to get away, or some help!
Without looking back he began to crawl away towards the road, towards the Ent and towards the guns lying around. But as he did so he began to feel satisfaction in the mind of the superpowered woman, and what he was fairly certain was fear in the mind of James (as difficult as it was to make out); this was not a good sign. The woman must have been winning the fight! Shit, James could not do this alone and seeing as he'd almost certainly saved John's life so he'd endeavour to do the same in return. This purpose gave his body strength, and his mind was able to pull it to it's feet and propel it further towards the road.
He saw the civilian woman holding the gun. She had managed to get hold of one of the rifles, and proceeded to empty the cartridge, missing wildly with every shot, the sound numbing John's hearing. Realising her failure she stared at John, who understood that in the state she was in and against what they were facing she could be of no help here... And so, as loud as he could he said; "Fucking run!"
In an attempted to pick up the gun, he fell onto it and from the floor he saw the injured civilian man and the woman who were desperately trying to back away from the fight and; his strength slowly returning; he shouted with all the command he could muster, "Get him to the damn clinic! Go!"
As he said that the body of James flew past him. Shit! He had to make a break for some ammo! He sensed the fury of the super woman advance towards him, forcing him to try and run. But he legs gave way and he collapsed into the long grass (that wasn't there before? What on earth?); She was too close for him to get away, and evidently too powerful to fight with an empty gun.
Well that was it then... he turned onto his back and faced the woman, staring into her eyes for the first time as she strode towards him. They say the eyes are windows to the soul and revealing as much as they did it certainly made it easier to navigate the currents of her mind... And by god what rage overwhelmed her mind, and at seeing the object of her hate laying before her there was a madness and sense of victory, hand in hand with images of the pain she would inflict on John.
Steeling his mind and his quickly recovering body he prepared himself; his hands gripped the long grass in anticipation of the pain to come. But even as he held it the grass started to grow again, stronger and thicker than before. What on earth? His mind detected the nearby Ent whose mind was different; faster, less set in stone...
Of course the Ent! He felt the vibrations as the mighty figure charged into the super woman, and roots and vines smashed their way out of the street and assailed her.
Yes! Yes! Filled with new energy he threw himself at the entangled corpse of one of the soldiers and pried a clip from the vines; they offered lazy resistance and seemed much more interested in the body of the soldier - ammo clips were surprisingly absent of nutrients.
He turned to the fight between the Ent and the super woman; she had broken away once before and it was possible the tree would need help; another person(?) he owed his apparently powerless life to. Getting to his feet, he reloaded the rifle. Apparently powerless he mused as the new clip clicked into place.
He saw the Ent's vines tear at her flesh - but fail to break or crack her bones, despite what looked like tremendous force being applied by the roots as they flayed at her skin, and every time her arm or head blocked a lethal root, he felt something in her mind, some hint. He almost had it...
John dropped to one knee and trained his rifle at her. He took a deep breath and waited a moment. A root was crushed by a heavy shin, even as her skin was cut and bruised. It must be something to do with the bones... that would have to do. If the Ent needed help, here was a possibility.
His heart slowly steadying as his mind attempted to abstract and analyse everything; something he'd found considerably easier with his new power; he waited for a clear shot.
As soon as he had one, he would tear open her stomach with hot lead; no bones there... Let's see her walk that off.
Fromanzio kicked his subconscious off the controls and woke back up. The destruction was evident but the lady was gone again and he assumed he had killed her. He hummed a few notes of amazing grace and flew back off. There was a psychic under that rubble. Fromanzio was going to be damn well sure he grabbed her.
"Miriam! If you can't hear this that means you are dead! If you are alive, get out so Fromanzio can fix that!"
What the hell...oh he...okay anyway umm where was I going with this? Yeah just, I quit. Go nuts cowboy.
Matthew's ascent through the office building was rewarded with a glimpse of Mark and Dirk, the latter carrying the former to safety, right through the hole they had came from. He was too late, damn it. Aiken took a step towards the hole in the wall, observing the chaos outside. Things were still going down in the alley it seemed, but from here he couldn't get a good view. More so, he could see two people running down the streets in his direction, they were ordinary humans by the looks of it. One was wielding a baseball bat and the other had a handgun. They were running towards the alleyway, which couldn't be good for the people there.
Aiken himself had more or less healed. He felt a little numb, but the severe pain was gone. He felt the predator within return, like a shark skimming the surface of the sea, fin exposed. A grin crept over Matthew's face as he ripped off the scarf from around his neck and tossed it aside. He pulled up his long sleeves again, exposing his claws.. This time, he wouldn't be denied. Matthew waited, biding his time as the two came closer, just as they were about run beneath the hole, Aiken leaped out.
He landed right on top of the poor sod with the gun, smashing his face into the concrete. With a predator's grace, his claws wrapped around the man's throat. They slipped through his throat like a hot knife through butter, causing blood to pool under him as he gurgled and tried to express his pain and shock. Aiken gingerly took up the gun, removing the clip and tossing both the gun itself and the clip in opposite directions. The other person, a woman with longer brown hair and a dirty face stood dumbstruck with an expression of horror etched on her face.
Matthew stood up and smirked, revealing rows of sharp teeth as he kept one foot on the now dead man. She quickly snapped out of her shock, running at Aiken with her bat raised, but for all the good it could do her, she might as well have moved in slow motion. Aiken's stepped to her side, letting a burst of adrenaline fuel him as his palm crashed against her chest. The relatively small woman bumped into the wall of the office building, again, unable to comprehend how someone or something could outpace her so much. As Matthew stepped up to her, she tried to raise her bat again to strike him, only to have a claw make it's way into her biceps, it was horribly painful and made her freeze in pain, as moving caused the claws to rip further into her arm, scraping at the bone.
With her forearm exposed, Matthew's teeth clamped down on her wrist, bone was crushed and flesh ripped as the bite chomped off her hand, causing the baseball bat with the hand still clutching it to fall to the ground. The woman screamed at the top of her lungs, the scream resounding over most of 4th avenue right until the point where Aiken's second claw ripped her throat open, causing the woman to collapse and bleed out, still clutching her stump of a hand. Matthew meanwhile chewed on the wrist bone, looking towards the alleyway where all the commotion was coming from. It was time to check it out, he figured, sprinting towards it in the shade of the building.
Rico kept running, despite hearing guns break out in front of the hospital. Guns? Why the guns?
Rico ached to go back and help, but he wouldn't while the witch-doctor was still there. People needed help elsewhere.
Suddenly, a turn in the alley network dropped him into some sort of surrealist fever-dream. Two men were there, horribly wounded. One sat, one kneeled with a gun. Aiming at... a furious woman was wrapped in a tree.
The tree was... alive?
Rico tried to reconcile this. He stopped. He gawped for a second. He looked at one of the bloody men. The bloody man looked back, urging him away. Save yourself, his eyes said.
Rico's survival instinct, however, was entirely dulled.
He stepped forward and yelled to no one in particular, "WHAT THE BALLS IS THIS?"
James rolled over from his back to his side. Looking around he could see a man in an alleyway, the man looked back at him and stepped into the street yelling "WHAT THE BALLS IS THIS?" Who was this man? What was he doing?
James looked at Jenna McNeil, he saw he under attack by the Ent-Man and he saw John raising a rifle 'Where had that come from, was it the one the woman dropped?' After all Jenna had sustained there must be a breaking point soon. Surely she could not withstand all of these attacks?
James could hear the sounds of battle all around him, the city was in turmoil. 'Is this the mewling cry of a new time? Or simply the dying gurgle of the McNeils?'
Saturday hung up the office phone just as Luke came in the door.
"<[So are we ready?]>" he asked.
"<<Yes, even without George McNeil, our plan will go on. The others are bringing what I need right now.>>"
Within 5 minutes, all of Saturday's gang were in the hospital with various weapons. They spread out to check on the patients as thier leader ordered, and two of his lieutenants brought him all of the recently deceased patients. There were 23 that had died that day, and now it was time to put them to use.
Saturday arranged the bodies according to ritual in the basement. He set up all the proper herbs and spoke every ritual word perfectly. Then, he carefully applied his Zombie Powder to each bodies' open mouth.
Each corpse began to twitch and move, their cold limbs suddenly became animate. Their wills were nonexistent, and their minds were in Saturday's possession. He left them down there and exited the basement, locking the entrance behind him.
He changed into his favorite flashy red outfit, then ordered his followers to take positions in front of the entrance and along the second floor windows. He stood on the entrance steps and looked out into the streets. There were frightened and angry McNiel soldiers fighting with equally frightened and angry rioters and looters, turning the area around the hospital into a bloody mess.
"FIRE!" Saturday commanded.
His cult opened fire on the McNiel soldiers, and anyone in the street with a gun. The victimized civilians dove for cover, and then the shooting stopped. As the cult reloaded, many curious faes poked out from behind cover, or raised from facing the street. There was a pregnant pause before cries of relief and gratitude from the rescued citizens began. Saturday held up a hand and the crowd was quiet.
"We 'ave come to delivah you from de evil of de McNiels'. Come ond take sheltah in de hospital. If you wish to 'elp, take a wepon before you come in. I am Brothuh Sata-day. My people will keep you safe."
There were more cries of gratitude as the people on the street migrated into the hospital, there sudden and un-expected safe haven. two or thee dozen people picked up guns and other weapons from the fallen on the street and joined in guarding the hospital.
Saturday picked out 5 teenage boys and girls from the crowd and told them to go and spread the word that the Children of Samedi have declared sanctuary in the hospital.
Once they had scampered off, Luke came up to Saturday reverently.
Before he could speak, the witch doctor said, "<<Yes brother, now it begins.>>"