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View Full Version : Altaer (by Alphaeus) vs Mirage (by KamirooWolf)



Alphaeus
02-01-2017, 06:58 AM
Sooo....

Kami said I can claim a forfeit since he won't be finished soon, and this battle is important to my canon considering my two upcoming battles.

So, here you go.

CNC is still greatly appreciated.


The warmth of the embrace sank deep into the killer’s bones. It felt good to be loved, not just as a friend, but as family. He pressed the tiny form against his chest, willing his own strength to somehow sustain and protect her after he was gone. Releasing her slowly, he stood as he turned to the redhead standing beside him. “Lily, make sure Kathryne stays safe. I’m still worried, and don’t want her leaving the house without either me or one of the Coils. If you have to go somewhere, try to get ahold of one of them first. I’ll have Spectre running the security systems too, just in case.”

Lily grinned as she pulled the girl to her. The secretary’s enthusiasm spilled over like the glazing on a hot donut. “Sure, Al! I haven’t baby-sat in soooo long, and Kat is just so cute! This will be a fun change for me. We’ll have a great time together!”

Altaer chuckled to himself, as he walked out his door. “Kat, you be good for Miss Lily. If you are…I might have a surprise for you once I get back from meeting with David. Okay?”

The precious child smiled at him, and he hesitated a moment. She had been through so much…yet she was still able to smile. He wondered what miracle lay inside that little heart that he himself had never possessed. As the door eased shut, he heaved a sigh. He felt helpless, somehow. As if every single element of his life was spinning far out of his control, and he was barely clinging to…what?

The radiance of the piercing winter sun caressed his cheek. A smile flickered across his lips like a candle struggling to burn in the face of the wind that shook the naked dogwoods along his street.

His jaw tightened as he stepped forward.

He clung to hope.

The thought was there for no longer than a spark in the snow. He did not want it to be there, for hope too often was nothing more than a vapor that poisoned his life with promises of what could never be for him. Yet something within him yearned to resist his hardened will, to offer just the slightest bit of kindling for that spark to ignite…to burn. Yes…hope burned.

He broke into a run, legs pumping harder and harder, forcing himself to hold a pace that made his lungs burn sharper than the pain of a thawing heart. He had always been a runner -- he loved the feeling of being able to pour your heart and mind and soul into merely moving through space and time. No thoughts, no feelings…nothing but peace and power. Freedom. Freedom from everything.

The world faded for him…one, two, one two…nothing else existed except another step, another breath, another turn. Nothing. He never truly remembered how long he ran -- miles, he knew, but nothing more. It did not matter. It never mattered. Soon he would reach where he was going, and he would have to return his mind to earth once more.

This time, though, he never reached his destination.

A single alarm sounded on his phone. He recognized the tone instantly, twisting his body to grind to a halt. The world snapped into the kind of clarity that only can be seen through the lens of adrenaline.

His home security had been triggered. The strong hands that held his phone trembled just slightly.

Hope burned.

He could not let its fire die.

___________________________________

Mirage cursed as four mercenaries from the Hawk division of the Surrogacy Project stepped out of the vehicle that had parked behind him. There went all of his secrecy. It occurred to him briefly to slam the door in their face. He worked alone. These jackasses could go to hell for all he cared. He was not a tall man -- standing at just five-foot-nine -- but he was fearsome. His mercenary skills were known and feared by anyone who contacted with him. This assignment with the Surrogacy Project was no different. His parent organization needed women to be birth mothers for their experimental kids…kids like him. So far he had taken all of his targets solo. He was even categorized in the Vulture Division because he was a troublesome loner. Why the hell did think they could suddenly change this now? His headset came to life as Saguaro -- his “aide” back at the organization headquarters -- seemed to anticipate these thoughts, addressing him by name.

“Declan, I know you work alone, but when our satellites tracked your next target coming here…well, we anticipated a bit of trouble.”

Mirage glared at the people that were walking up to the door. He didn’t budge. “Fuck trouble. Who the hell do you think I am?”

He could hear Saguaro swallow, his teen-age sounding voice quavering just slightly as if he was afraid Mirage would somehow reach through the mic and strangle him. “I know you’re a good fighter…but the problem is who we know -- or at least suspect -- lives here. He’s the -- ”

He cut the man off in mid-sentence. “I don’t give a shit. They could have at least sent someone from my same division, damn it.” The four mercenaries tried to brush past him, but Mirage stuck his hand out, latching onto the other side of the door with a ferocity that told them they were better off just waiting this out.

Saguaro was silent for a moment. “Declan, this isn’t an option. They’ve already decided this…I’m just the guy who has to tell you. It’s for your own good.”

“Fat chance,” Mirage spat. Still, he knew it would be easier just to get the woman and get out than bother fighting. As a Vulture, he was quite…special. Still, the Hawk division was for fighters, and they were every bit as ruthless as he was. It simply wasn’t worth it. He spun his mancatcher off his back, flexing his hands on it menacingly. He swept the other mercenaries with his gaze.

“This is MY assignment, so that means I’m in charge. Let’s keep this simple. Find her. Catch her. Kill anyone that causes trouble. Got it?”

They nodded in unison, but he had already spun on his heal and slipped into the house. The inside stunned him. While the exterior suggested that it was just another decrepit old structure on an abandoned street, inside it had been fully restyled to fit modernist Industrial tastes. The reclaimed wood flooring was polished to a mirror gleam that seemed nearly untouched. The walls were hung with assortments of unusual artwork, many of which were preserved behind museum glass.

He snorted and nodded approvingly. The place was nice. Belonged to somebody rich who obviously wanted to keep out of the public eye, to say the least. Still, he wasn’t the kind of person to get distracted. He froze, lifting a hand. The Hawks behind him instantly followed suit.

He could hear the sound of people moving ever so slightly further into the house. He grinned. This was what he loved about his job. Success.

He glanced over his shoulder at the other mercenaries. Loner that he was, he knew the Hawks were good at what they did. They silently split off from the main hall into some of the side rooms, moving to seal off all possible exits. Mirage himself slipped forward to the spiral staircase in front of him, ascending it stealthily.

The patter of footsteps from near the top and the faintest of whispers told him that he was on track. He bounded up to the top of the stairs, hoping to catch a glimpse of his targets.

Nothing.

Just as he was about to take another step, his headset sprang to life. “Uhoh. Declan you’ve --“ The signal disintegrated into static. Mirage winced, swearing as he cranked down the volume just in time to hear the front door slam shut, and the unmistakable sound of someone using a skeleton key to operate the antique lock. Every light in the house instantly turned out, every window sealed…leaving nothing but the glow of a few sparse red LEDs that came to life.

He pulled his Desert Eagle from his jacket, shifting the mancatcher to his left hand. He generated an illusion of himself at the bottom of the stairs. Nothing happened, so he dispelled it and crept down himself, gun at the ready.

The silence was deafening.

Turning to his right, he made his way into what appeared to be a living room. Noticing a human figure on the sofa beside him, he spun on his heel and drew aim. The next instant he recognized the Hawk insignia on the man’s jacket…and the fact that he was quite dead.

Stepping closer, he found himself staring into eyes stretched wide open. The man’s jawbone had been entirely dislocated and then rammed into his throat like a freakish wishbone. Mirage gave a slight gasp despite himself when it suddenly became clear that the man’s head was still facing forward because it had been rotated in a complete circle, left attached only by the hideously stretched skin. He backed away slowly.

His head jerked around as a scream from across the hall was terminated in a warbling gurgled that faded back to silence as swiftly as it began.

This was every man for himself now. He needed to get his target and go. He fled for the stairs, abandoning silence as he saw another figure racing for them as well. He waved his hand and the illusion of a grenade appeared behind him. The figure tried to double back on itself, and Mirage realized all too late that the man was a Hawk, not an attacker. Still, it didn’t matter. Just one more deterrent for whoever he was up against.

Dispelling the illusion as he reached the second floor, he paused, listening once more. The silence was ominous. Tiptoeing down the hall, he used the butt of the mancatcher to nose open each door as he came to it. The first two rooms were small bedrooms, followed by a pair of bathrooms, which were easy to check. The third room, oddly, was still fully lit.

As he stepped inside, it was instantly apparent there was nowhere to hide. It was little more than a large space with a single chair, table, and fireplace. What made it noteworthy was the furnishing. The walls were covered with pieces of paper. News articles, police records, coroner reports, birth certificates -- hundreds, thousands of them lined the walls. He stepped closer. Every single one of them was tied to some kind of death, many of them mentioning “The Fixer.” Shelves and displays were intermingled with the macabre wallpaper. These held trinkets, weapons, jewelry, clothing -- symbols. At the far side of the room, near the sealed window, was a larger, round object inside of the kind of display case used for signed footballs and basketballs or the like. Except the browned and misshapen object inside had hair. A simple bronze plaque read “Ziloban Orecho.”

He backed into the middle of the room, turning a full circle as the nature of the room occurred to him. He whispered his thoughts to himself. “This is a trophy room. The Fixer’s trophy room. I just broke into The Fixer’s house.”

As a mercenary, everyone knew The Fixer. He had set the standard for success and lethality for all mercenaries.

The floor at the other end of the hall creaked.

Mirage tensed.

He was coming for him.

_____________________________

Hope burned.

Altaer checked the knife wound in his side. He felt nothing. The tension of losing his hope had sharpened his mind into a singular focus, excluding all of distractions. He brushed the blood off his hands to get a secure grip on his pistols, first checking his phone.

His AI -- Spectre -- gave the readout from the security. One person had arrived before the other four. Those others lay dead on his main floor…that one had fled upstairs. Near Kathryne. He had called and told them where to hide as soon as the alarm had sounded. Now he hoped against hope they were still safe.

He strode aggressively down the hall, bursting into each room, flipping furniture out of his way to check for that one miscreant that dared to threaten his fragile home. Every second he found no one, every second he heard nothing, every second he saw only shadows -- his heart pounded. He was afraid.

He had never truly been afraid before -- there was no reason. Sorrow, pain, despair, anger, fury…but not fear. Now…now the precarious hope he had just barely begun to nurture could be extinguished in an instant. HIS hope.

He moved faster, ripping the doors from their hinges as he stormed in and out of rooms and closets, giving way to a silent rage fueled by the fears and furies of years. Fueled by a burning hope that roared -- ROARED -- against the smothering waves of defeat and death and sorrow that washed over it.

Oh yes, his hoped burned.

He found himself facing his private room. The door was shut. By process of elimination he knew full well his enemy -- and his hope -- lay on the other side.

He smashed his shoulder into it…but found himself tumbling through it like it was nothing more than an illusion, carried by momentum across the room. A short man was standing opposite him, so he let himself fall into a roll, firing off both of his guns in rapid succession. The man merely vanished like a mirage.

Before he had a chance to recover he felt a pair of impacts in his back, like tiny hot drills boring straight through his bones and flesh. With a roar he spun around blindly in the confines of the tight room, hammering his pistol with adrenaline empowered force into the man that stood behind him. This time his opponent did not vanish as he was flung backwards into the wall.

Altaer only had time to snap off a single shot before a solid wall appeared in front of him. He staggered backwards, jerking away from the surprising appearance. His mind reeled, then quickly paired the ghostly door and vanishing man with this new apparition. With a cry he emptied his clips into the area behind the illusion, firing in a pattern that no being -- mortal or otherwise -- could have survived.

Except when the wall vanished, his opponent wasn’t there.

In his wrath, he had ignored the fact that the man had hidden directly in front of the concealed door to his gun room…and the hiding place of Lily and his daughter. Altaer had only a moment to try to hurl himself to the floor before the foreboding rattle of one of his own bullpup rifles broke the momentary silence.

The impact of the bullets was surprisingly painless. He gazed down at his mutilated torso distantly, wavered slightly, and collapsed. The world seemed to fade and twist as if viewed through a half-broken kaleidoscope, swirling, turning…never real, never close. He couldn’t feel his body. He knew what it felt like to die…he had done it twice, after all.

Except this time there would be no resurrection, no transformation.

Just the blackness that was now creeping into the corners of his vision with the languid certainty of something that knows it can be postponed…but never beaten.

Feet shuffled in front of him. A boot smashed into his face, flipping him onto his back. The blackness was closing in faster.

His eyes rolled back in his head. He struggled to focus, but his mind was reaching for the peaceful void that was calling him…calling him…

The man who had kicked him was shoving a woman in front of him. He had her leashed….no…on some kind of stick. Altaer knew he recognized her, but for some reason could not remember her name.

He never forgot names…he couldn’t…but…the cold was pressing.

Another, smaller figure was being held by the woman. She was looking at him, saying…something. No...screaming it.

He tried to hear her…

The dark…the cold…was numbing, deafening…

A flicker of recognition burst through the chilling blackness.

Hope still burned.

He felt his body flood with the tingling power of adrenaline, summoning the last warrior’s strength that burns away even its own life with the abandon of sacrificial death.

He heaved himself off the ground and staggered, spitting out a mouthful of blood. The man turned, only to find a pair of hands as solid as the devil’s chains locked onto his arms. The mercenary struggled against the larger man, his eyes wild as he gazed at the bleeding holes riddling the man’s chest.

Altaer knew he should have been dead by now. Even as he pressed the man against the wall, yelling to Lily and his daughter the same word he had spoken before the first time he died -- “RUN!” -- the darkness had not fled. Its icy touch had retreated, like a hand that had accidentally scorched itself on a pot and was merely waiting for it to cool once more.

He shifted one hand to the man’s throat, lifting him off the ground in his rage and smashing him against the wall with enough force to leave him dazed. His own body cried out against the abuse. Something deep inside tore. He coughed to clear the blood out of his mouth, calling out to his voice-activated AI so his adopted daughter could escape.

“Spectre…lift lockdown.”

As the windows popped open, he could hear the man’s headset crackle back to life. Someone was shouting at him. Altaer knew soon there would be more people, more killers…more threats.

He flung the man to the ground, hearing the satisfactory snap of bone. He reached into his jacket, grabbing his lighter. The smooth metal of the Zippo nearly slipped out of his aching, shaking, blood-caked hands. He flicked on the flame and flung it into the open gun closet.

Altaer let himself fall on top of his enemy, using his gravity to supplement what little strength he had left. He slowly worked his legs, pushing them across the floor so that the man was pinned against the wall.

The fire had already burst to life on a fuel of gunpowder and explosives.

Altaer wrapped his arms around the mercenary, turned them slowly so that his own back rested against the wall. The struggling man was held facing outwards, watching as the fire popped and crackled and sang as it consumed bullets. The more he fought, the tighter he was held by the arms of a man with the resolve that he would not die in vain.

The fire caught Altaer’s collection of his own lethal record and spread across the entire room, destroying the history of his life, his deeds. Everything that made him who he was, consumed in the conflagration. In mere moments it had reached the wall where they sat, creeping across the wood flooring, gradually destroying the furniture.

The man screamed at the lick of the tongues of fire, and Altaer laughed. He felt nothing now. Nothing. The darkness and cold of death fought with the fearsome light and heat of flame. He was tired, but now his arms were in the locked embrace of death.

He smiled, and sighed.

Yes. It was safe.

Hope still burned.

__________________________________

The day dawned slowly. It was not so much the supposed break of dawn as the gradual cracking of the land’s sheath of dismal grey. Golden warmth had finally burnt away the oppressive clouds of winter rain. A single ray lanced across his face, drawing him back from the darkness.

He eased his eyes open slowly. He stared into the light, blinking at the brilliancy. His mind was recovering in its own good time. Familiar sounds and smells comforted his disoriented senses. For now, it was enough. He could still feel his body, mostly…although it was the detached feeling of a drugged man. He attempted to move, but succeeded in only lifting one hand. The strain of that action alone sent his heart rate high enough to set off a soft alarm from the machine beside him.

The memories came back to him in a burst, as if his mind had succumbed to a fit of fright at the recollection of the guns and flames. He tried to take a deep breath to ease the tension, but the wave of immediate pain stopped him mid-action. Still, he found himself dizzy from the dose of oxygen due to the mask he only just now realized he was wearing.

The door to his room opened gradually, and he gave a weak smile as his friend hurried into the room. Dr. MacBeth tended to the heart-monitor’s alarm first, then walked up beside Altaer, removing his mask. The battered Fixer was the first to speak. His voice was low and craggy.

“Hey Doc. Guess this isn’t heaven with your ugly mug, eh?”

David chuckled despite himself, settling a hand gently on Altaer’s shoulder. “If I showed you my OR pics you wouldn’t be laughing. Next time you want a pit barbecue, try shredding and roasting pork instead of yourself.”

Altaer’s face fell slightly, and he turned his head so that he could meet David’s gaze. “Did you find the other men? Did Lily and Kathryne get out?”

David nodded slowly. “The girls are fine. Shaken, but fine. Lily had some bruises and abrasions from the mancatcher, but you know her. Her spirits are about as likely to sink as a cloud in an updraft. Kathryne -- well, that sweet girl is certainly something special. Reminds me a lot of Val when she was a kid.”

Altaer let out a long, ragged sigh of relief -- or, at least, as long a sigh as he could muster right now. He pressed his question again. “And the men? The attackers?”

David pulled a notepad out of his jacket and glanced at it, flipping the pages for a moment. “Well, let’s see. There were four bodies downstairs…all of them were already dead before the fire, but there was little left afterwards. There was another body on top of you. Quite frankly, that huge old duster of yours that was soaked with blood probably saved you, as well as that body. I had to pry your arms off of him to reach you. Funny thing is, I’m not sure if he was dead. Either way, I had placed him with the other bodies, assuming he was dead, and then he was gone. Last thing I saw was a large SUV turning off the street. Got the license plate number, but who knows what good that will do. Somebody definitely didn’t want him found…alive or dead.”

The Fixer’s face tightened, but relaxed quickly. The man might have survived -- he did possess powers, after all. If he did, though…he was going to be scarred at least on a mental and emotional level for life. Altaer had left his mark, protected his own. That was enough. Time had let the sunlight inch downwards onto his nose, allowing him to turn his head back and still be able to see David. He took a couple breaths to ready himself to speak.

“Good. For now...I don’t care if he’s alive or dead…although him being roasted would be gratifying. I’m concerned with whatever organization behind him. But…I think I’ll take a week off, if you don’t mind.”

David grinned and gingerly patted his shoulder. “Heh, I think you certainly deserve it. Your regeneration abilities are still here, to a lesser extent. I still don’t think you would have made it without them…but I’m certainly glad you did. I’m proud to call you my friend, Al -- you’re a good man. And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that, either.”

David stepped back to the door, allowing a figure to fly by him and clamber onto Altaer’s bed. The worn assassin turned his head to gaze into her little face. She burrowed into the crook of his arm, being careful not to press against the bandages covering his ribs and gut. Her voice seemed tiny when she spoke. “I was so scared. I thought I was going to lose you like Mommy and Sis. I don’t want you to go. I love you.”

Altaer lifted his hand to cradle her back as best he could. His tears fell onto her hair. He waited a few minutes for his voice to clear.

“I…love you too.”

A warmth seeped through his heart.

Hope burned.

Urako
02-01-2017, 05:58 PM
Hello. First off, I know threads have been a tad neglected lately and I want you to know at least that one person read the whole thing.

Second, i'm not sure how much this'll affect my side of our fight since I already made headway before you posted this. Sorry about that.

Alphaeus
02-02-2017, 07:05 AM
Hello. First off, I know threads have been a tad neglected lately and I want you to know at least that one person read the whole thing.

Second, i'm not sure how much this'll affect my side of our fight since I already made headway before you posted this. Sorry about that.

This doesn't affect anything, since I'm actually setting our battle before this one in canon. I mean, we TECHNICALLY started before this one. SO, yeah. No worries. Any comments or thoughts, tho?

Urako
02-02-2017, 07:10 AM
This doesn't affect anything, since I'm actually setting our battle before this one in canon. I mean, we TECHNICALLY started before this one. SO, yeah. No worries. Any comments or thoughts, tho?

Not many, but I guess my main complaint is "Hope still burned" was overdone to death. It's okay a few times, but it gets annoying when it's used every time Altaer makes a major move. Also, I suppose I would have like to see Declan try to use his mancatcher on Altaer.

But really I thought you did a really good job.

Alphaeus
02-02-2017, 04:07 PM
Not many, but I guess my main complaint is "Hope still burned" was overdone to death. It's okay a few times, but it gets annoying when it's used every time Altaer makes a major move. Also, I suppose I would have like to see Declan try to use his mancatcher on Altaer.

But really I thought you did a really good job.

LOL I noticed after I posted I actually did that a couple too many times. I originally had it less, but in my edits I lost track of where I was. Then Kami forfeited, and I didn't do my final one-over I usually do. So....when this goes into canon, that will be fixed.

Anyhow, thanks!