/simu/ - Simulacrum

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File: 1702062312075-0.jpg (1.21 MB, 1920x816, Sanctuary City.jpg)

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>Date: September 2nd, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City - Residential Sector
>Time: 8:00 AM

>A relatively modest sized home rests at the edge of a local gated community within Sanctuary City's Residential Sector. The house, of modest size, is in the middle of partial renovation - with tiling and colors being changed by construction workers.

"Come on, Rachel. We're going to be late."

>Diana finishes packing up the majority of her items into the backpack for Rachel, as Rachel then takes it out of her hands. Somewhat pouting, she then says:

"Do I really have to do this? Staying in the office all day is boring!"

>Sighing, Diana then says:

"Well, it's better than keeping you cooped up at home all day. You're feeling miserable there."

>Muttering to herself, Rachel fidgets in place a bit before she says:

"Yeah well, it's because I don't have any friends!"

>Diana sighs and then pats Rachel on the head.

"You don't have any enemies either, Rachel. Count the blessings and all that. Besides, isn't Jericho your friend? The boy who works at Archeon?"

>Muttering again, Rachel says:

"Yes, but that's not the point! Some legal guardian you are. Parents are supposed to shower their kids in all sorts of fancy gifts! Throw them lots of parties! Not take them to work all day….."

>Diana laughs as she and Rachel walk out of the door, and towards the large MRD hovercraft parked in front.

"Well, not everyone has a MRD Commander as their 'mother'. Come on, let's get you to the Spire."

>After getting inside of the hovercraft, both Diana and Rachel sit in their seats, as Diana begins flying them both away from the Residential Sector of the city.


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>Location: MRD - The Spire
>Time: 8:30 AM

>As the hovercraft touches down on the Spire's rooftop pad - Valkyrie slowly steps out of the hovercraft. Beside her is Rachel, still wearing her backpack.

>A MRD trooper slowly walks up to Valkyrie, brandishing her standard energy rifle in her hands as she salutes to her superior officer.

"Commander Valkyrie. Ma'am."

>Valkyrie gives a far more casual two-finger salute back to the trooper.

"At ease, agent. Today's likely going to be a normal day for once."

>The trooper nods and looks down at Rachel beside her.

"Hey, Rachel. Doing a good job of staying out of trouble?"

>Rachel crosses her arms as she glares at the trooper - who then coughs into her gloved hand and says:

"Yeah well, erm. As you were, ma'am. Sorry for interrupting!"

>The trooper then hurriedly walks away, as Valkyrie rolls her eyes and looks at Rachel.

"You don't have to be so confrontational with people, Rachel."

>Rachel then looks back at Diana, a quizzical look on her face.

"I dunno about that. Half of the time, you look like you want to punch your own subordinates."

>Wincing slightly, Valkyrie grinds her teeth as she says:

"Yeah, that's more because of their thoughts about me - rather than their words, Rachel. You'll understand when you're an adult."

>Rachel then immediately protests, saying:

"Hey! I'm double digits! Almost in my twenties!"

>Valkyrie then scoffs and says:

"You're barely in your teens, Rachel."

>Rachel then protests as she shouts:

"I am not just in my te-"

>Suddenly, Rachel falls silent as Valkyrie looks at her, quizzically.

"….What's wrong, Rachel?!"

>Rachel then mutters to herself, barely audibly.

"That feeling…..Is that? No….No it can't be!"

>Rachel then immediately darts off, running inside of the MRD Spire through the rooftop door, with Valkyrie right behind her.

"Hey! Rachel! Wait! What is it?!?!"


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>Location: MRD Spire - Holding Facilities
>Time: 8:30 AM

>The loud reverberation of Rachel's footsteps can be heard as she rounds the nearest corner of the holding facilities - rushing straight towards the end of the maximum security areas.

>As she arrives, she finds herself panting and out of breath as she places her hands on her knees. Still panting heavily, she only stops moving once she hears a dreadfully familiar voice.

"Ohh, there you are, little songbird~. Flying from the nest~."

>Looking up slowly, and with murderous intent in her eyes, Rachel's eyes are almost bloodshot red with rage as she then shouts:


>Soft laughter then comes from the cell in front of her - as Ciara remains sitting in her seat, looking at her finger nails with renewed interest.

"And there's the runt of the litter. Still trapped in the mud."

>Looking at her more analytically now, Ciara's eyes move up and down Rachel's body - taking note of her remaining short stature.

"Still as small as ever I see. You never did grow into your own."

>Rachel then punches the glass wall of the cell - diving her from Ciara. Rage continues to build up in Rachel's mind as she says:

"Fuck you! Just fuck you! I hate you so much! You took them away from me!!!!"

>Ciara looks at Rachel with a blank expression on her face, demonstrating a remarkable lack of empathy.

"They took themselves out of the picture when they tried to lay a hand on me. Or did you forget what they were doing beforehand?"

>Rachel then turns away, tears running down her eyes as Valkyrie rushes into the room. Kneeling down to hug Rachel, Valkyrie then looks up at shoots daggers of fury at Ciara.

"So youre'' the one that made her senses go haywire."

>Ciara then slowly turns her apathetic expression into a large grin of twisted amusement.

"Like I said, blood's thicker than water. Family knows each other like nothing else. I could sense her, and she could sense me - and that'll never change."


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>Ciara leans back in her bed, still looking at her nails.

"You're probably wondering why I'm here of all places, aren't you Rach?"

>Rachel looks up from Valkyrie's arms, and towards Ciara - still noticing her borderline slasher smile.

"I'm wondering why you aren't in an electric chair, you bastard!"

>Laughing hysterically, Ciara then replies:

"Oh you know why that is, don't you Rach? It doesn't take. None of it does."

>Pointing a finger at Rachel, Ciara then continues:

"For both me and you. Or did you not tell her yet?"

>Valkyrie turns back towards Sacrament, who looks away from her.


>Ciara then continues laughing, barely keeping her composure as she tries to speak through her laughs.

"That's the funniest part about this, whenever this happens. You really made them think that you're this fragile little girl who can't do anything. Always the victim, cousin."

>Valkyrie looks down at Rachel, and says:

"What is she talking about, Rachel? You came to us because you needed protection from Chiral, right?"

>Rachel looks around for a moment, speaking:


>Ciara then sighs in an exasperated tone, as she stands up, starting to walk around.

"Didn't you and your posse ever find it weird how she was able to escape from his little experimental lab in the first place? Sacrament just shows up one day, out of the blue - and she's able to evade capture from the most dangerous Meta-Human criminal mastermind in the city?"

>Valkyrie looks up, confused.

"How do you even know this?"

>Ciara looks down at Valkyrie and smiles again.

"What do you think I've been doing in here for the past few days? Catching up on recent events."


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>Valkyrie curses to herself as she begins to think through her options.

"….The database?"

>Ciara claps her hands slowly, still looking amused as she does so.

"Oh aren't you an ace detective, Valkyrie?"

>Looking back at Rachel, Ciara's grin only widens as she says:

"It's as I said. Blood's thicker than water. And our blood carries some similarities - doesn't it Rachel?"

>Rachel grits her teeth and stands up, turning to look away from both Valkyrie and Ciara as she speaks:

"Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up."

>Rachel puts her hands to her ears, attempting to block out Ciara's progressively louder voice.

"It's pretty easy to pretend that you can wash it all away by playing the victim, isn't it? That you're somehow better than me? You of all people?!"

>Ciara then points a finger at Rachel from within her cell, a deadly serious expression now forming on her face.

"Giving power is just a fraction of her true power. She doesn't need to form 'contracts' with people to give them powers."

>Valkyrie slowly looks at Rachel, as a horrible realization comes over her face.


>Rachel looks away still, tears in her eyes as she begins sobbing.

"….You wouldn't have taken me in….if I….If I….."

>Rachel continues sobbing, as Ciara sighs, looking clearly annoyed at the situation.

"Rachel can control the minds of those she touches with her power - and she can give those same people powers as well. She can also take anything she wants from a person. Anything."

>Valkyrie slowly turns to look at Ciara, her own face a mixture of confusion and terror.

"….So all this time, I thought that….I needed to give up my control for all of this power?"

>Ciara looks at Rachel once more, a smile once again forming.

"Oh I bet she gave you a whole sob story about needing to give 'equivalent exchange'. 'This for that'. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward."

>Giving a casual shrug, Ciara then drops the bombshell that Valkyrie had been dreading.

"It's all bullshit. She decides what she takes, and what she gives - the minute you touch her. We're Emanator type Para-Humans. Not just Meta-Humans."


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>Rachel begins gritting her teeth, harder than before - as she starts shouting.


>As Rachel falls to the floor on both knees, she continues screaming as flickers of red light start to emanate from her.


>Valkyrie reaches out to Rachel, but her hand is immediately snapped back by the force of the bright red lights emanating from her.

>Ciara's eyes slowly widen in excitement as she begins laughing.

"There it is~ The façade is breaking~!"

>More plumes of bright red light appear, as flashes begin to go through Rachel's mind.

"No….I can't……remember……"

>Various flashes of memories begin to rush through her mind, as her subconscious breaks have snapped - her mental limiters being removed.

>As this occurs, Rachel's stature begins to change slowly, her hair turns white as her figure grows larger, from that of a young girl, into that of an adult woman around Ciara's age.

>The red light then dies down, fading and subsiding as Ciara remains sitting in place - her legs crossed as she looks on in amusement.

"And you said that I was the dramatic one growing up, but you're taking the cake here."

>The woman with white hair and blood red eyes turns to face Ciara, whose blue eyes pierce back into her own with a malevolent amusement.

"Ain't that right, Ashe?"


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>Valkyrie looks at Ashe for a moment, trying to find the words to express her sheer confusion.

"…..Rachel…Is that….you?"

>Ashe then notices Valkyrie's expression and slowly turns to face her. Walking up to her, Ashe nods.

"Yeah, 'mom'. It's me. Rachel."

>Valkyrie then looks over Ashe more carefully - noticing her similar facial features. Only much older, due to her adult body.

"…..What….What happened to you?"

>Taking a deep breath, Ashe closes her eyes for a moment and then speaks:

"….My name is Ashe Rutherford. I'm a Para-Human and Meta-Human hybrid. The piece of garbage behind me is Ciara Rutherford - my cousin."

>Valkyrie thinks about the information for a moment before Ashe continues to speak:

"Our fathers are brothers, that's why the surname is the same. I'd explain more about that…"

>Looking over her back and behind the glass of the cell - Ashe stares daggers at Ciara while saying:

"…..If she didn't kill them."

>Ciara then gives a smug smile and shrugs, stating:

"Guilty as charged."

>Disgusted, Ashe turns her attention back towards Valkyrie, speaking:

"Everything I've said to you so far has been true. I can give people powers, but not myself. I just wasn't fully transparent about the…..conditions of the 'contract'. It's all made-up, like Ciara said. I don't need to form a contract with people in order to give them powers."

>Placing her left hand around her right arm, Ashe turns away and says:

"…..I just did that because I….wanted to."

>Silent for a moment, Valkyrie then says:

"…..So can you remove the hold you placed on my autonomy? What you took from me?"

>Valkyrie says, a pained expression on his face.

>Ashe then nods slowly.

"…..Yeah. I can."

>Valkyrie then looks at Ashe, dead in the eyes, with tears slowly forming at the edges of her eye ducts.

"….Then do it."


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>Ashe reaches forward and places her hand on Valkyrie's chest. As she does so, a bright multi-colored array of particles slowly ripples out from her body. The particles surround her rapidly, as energy bolts surge between herself and Ashe at increasing speeds.

"Almost there….."

>Then after a few more seconds, the energy bolts dissipate - leaving nothing behind in their wake. Standing back, Ashe looks at Valkyrie and says:

"…..Valkyrie - sit for me."

>Silence passes through the air as Valkyrie does nothing, confirming Ashe's statements.

>Looking down at her hands, Valkyrie then says:

"….You actually did it. I don't feel that compulsion to obey your commands anymore."

>Ashe looks down at the ground, ashamed.

"…..I know you must hate me for what I did to you-"

"Absolutely, I do hate you for that."

>Ashe looks down at the floor, eyes tearing up as she prepares to cry again - closing her eyes.

>But then all of a sudden, Ashe feels a warm embrace around her face - opening her eyes to see Valkyrie hugging her tightly.

"Even so, I understand that you just wanted to run away. Avoid the pain. I can't condone what you did, Ashe - but I do understand it."

>Pulling back from the hug, Valkyrie holds out her hand - as her matter manipulation begins to slowly repair the glass shattered panel.

>Ashe watches on in surprise, as Valkyrie states:

"As for you? I get the sense that your power doesn't work on your cousin. If it did - I can't imagine you would've left her alive too. Now would you?"


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>Seeing the sneer start to form across Ciara's face, Valkyrie continues:

"So because of that, you don't have any leverage anymore. Not as long as she's here. You can't kill her - but I bet she can take a lot of characteristics from you."

>Ciara's face then suddenly goes pale as she instinctively backs up into a corner - with Valkyrie walking forward, while having her arm at Ashe's side.

"She could take your skills, your reflexes, even your memories. Completely remove what makes you……well, you. I'm also willing to bet that you knew that - which is why you tried so hard to turn her against me just now."

>Ciara's expression then turns to one of a hostile snarl.

"So what if I did, blondie?"

>Valkyrie continues speaking.

"Then you'll find that your little plan won't work. The second you try anything? I'll be right here to get Ashe close enough to you - to where she can take everything away."

>Ciara again recoils quickly at the mention of the transfer. Her mind races as she panics internally.

>Valkyrie then looks at Ashe and says:

"….Ready to get out of here? We've got a lot to talk about."

>Ashe nods as she looks up at Valkyrie.

"….I take back what I said. You're the best parent I've ever had, Di."

>Ashe then hugs Valkyrie tightly.

"Thank you."

>Valkyrie smiles at Ashe and then pats her on the head again, stating:

"That's how good parents are. Even adoptive ones."

>Valkyrie then walks Ashe out of the holding facility beneath the Spire - as Ciara remains sitting alone in her cell, scowling to herself.

>Out loud, she then mutters to herself, as a smile slowly reappears on her face.

"Oh, who cares about either of you? I'm just here for my target."

>Looking up at the ceiling of her holding cell, Ciara gives a cruel smile as she says:

"And I can wait as long as it takes."


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>Location: Archeon Incorporated - Engineering Division
>Time: 12:10 PM

>A loud metallic clang echoes through the halls of the hangar bay, as a wrench falls to the metallic tiles on the floor.

"Ugh. Damn fingers…"

>Muttering to himself, Jericho reaches down and picks up the wrench, as he then sits back up and continues working on the external plating of the energy generator casing.

"How's the dynamorphic generator coming along, kid?"

>Jericho turns around to see Amber, his boss, slowly walking towards him. Arms crossed as usual, Amber gives a relaxed look at her subordinate, as he continues working on the machine's outer plating.

"Oh you know, the usual. Nothing huge. Just trying to bolt the last plate onto the main panel…."

>As Jericho finishes attaching the plate to the machine, he then places the wrench on the nearest workbench and adjusts his gloves.

"….How'd the meeting go with mister Grayson?"

>Amber scoffs as she then walks around the generator, examining it closely.

"He's on board with the project after the prototype demonstration. We'll get funding for mass production."

>Amber looks back at Jericho from the periphery of her vision - while her head is still facing the machine. She then smiles.

"Good job, kid. Your idea got greenlit."

>Jericho's eyes light up in excitement as Amber walks past him again.

"You're also eating into your lunch break. I'd suggest you take advantage of it."

>As Amber walks off, Jericho still stares at the machine in awe. Then he feels a buzzing sensation in his jacket pocket.


>Taking his phone out of his pocket, he answers the call, after seeing the ID.

"Hey Rachel, what's up?"

>Jericho is silent for another moment, before he then says:

"Sure. I'm at work right now, but I just got on break. I can meet you outside in a few minutes."


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>Ten minutes later, Jericho stands outside of the hangar bay. Looking around, he tries to find his friend, but doesn't notice her among the people walking around.

{"Hmm. Maybe she got lost. She's only been here once before anyways."}

>After a few more seconds, he's tapped on the shoulder from behind.


>Turning around, he sees a woman with white hair and piercing red eyes looking intently at him. Confused, he then says:

"Uh…Hi? Miss…..erm….."

>Confused, Jericho looks around for a moment, before looking back at her, asking:

"I'm sorry, do I know you or…….?"

>Irritated, the woman then speaks up:

"Look more carefully, Jericho."

>Surprised that the woman knows his name, Jericho then squints - examining her facial features more closely.

{"Wait, her face looks familiar. Cheekbones and nose are really familiar too. No…is that? It can't be! Is that…..?"}

>Out loud, Jericho then quietly whispers:


>Ashe nods slowly and then smiles in satisfaction - before lightly punching him in the right arm.

"Yeah, it's me - idiot."

>Stunned, Jericho's mouth remains agape as he struggles to process the information.

"So what happened to you being way shorter than me? Also, what's with the white hair? And those red eyes-"

>Ashe puts a finger on Jericho's lips, telling him to keep quiet.

"My name's actually Ashe. It's a long story, J."

>Removing her finger from Jericho's lips, the latter then speaks up:

"Well, I've got time. Around forty minutes, actually. So let's hear it."


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>Around five minutes into the explanation, Jericho looks up from his side of the park bench. Still sitting in the Archeon Complex's outdoors area, he looks over at Ashe on the other side of the bench.

"….So you're not just a Meta-Human. You're also a Para-Human? Double trouble, huh?"

>Jericho then laughs awkwardly as Ashe just stares at him in annoyance.

"Don't make me give you a command."

>Jericho then promptly coughs into his gloved hand as he responds:

"Sorry about that. Bad joke on my part."

>Ashe gives an irritated, but exasperated sigh as she closes her eyes. After a long moment, she opens up her eyes again, as she turns her attention back towards Jericho.

"I mean it, Jay. What I said earlier. All of this is my fault."

>Ashe looks down at the ground, with a foreboding look on her face as she continues.

"I should've never run away after Ciara did what she did. Chiral wouldn't have captured me if that was the case - and I never would've gotten you tangled into this mess either!"

>Jericho scratches his left chin slightly with his gloved finger, as he responds.

"I'm not too sure about that Rach - I mean Ashe. I was stuck with this thing by the time that I met you anyways."

>Jericho looks around for a moment, before rolling down his jacket sleeve and revealing the futuristic looking watch underneath. Still fused to his wrist, the Index continuously pulsates with a faint blue light.

>Ashe looks at the futuristic device with interest, as she then says:

"Where did you find this anyways?"

>Jericho looks at the watch, his mind and awareness dazing off as he reminisces about the past.

"Back area of a large warehouse - at the old company that I was interning at. Turns out they were a front for the same group that Chiral was trying to destroy. Bad luck doesn't even begin to describe how that turned out."


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>Ashe looks at the watch once more, before turning her attention to Jericho.

"….I can remove the condition I put on you when I gave you the enhanced intelligence you asked for."

>Jericho nods as he then states:

"I appreciate that. Really. I do."

>Ashe raises up her hand, and then places it on Jericho's chest - feeling his heartbeat.


>For a moment, Ashe hesitates, as she feels her cheeks flush red. Confused, Jericho asks her:

"Ashe? What's wrong?"

>Ashe falls silent as she looks around. Once the coast is clear, she then activates her power.


>Immediately, bright flashes of rainbow light quickly appear between Jericho's chest and Ashe's own. Jericho feels a sort of piercing sensation within his body, as the rainbow lights slowly fade away.

"There, it's done."

>Ashe slowly removes her hand, as she then looks away from Jericho - crossing her arms.

"…..I guess this means we are too."

>A single tear involuntarily falls down her cheek, as Ashe's back remains turned away from Jericho.


>Ashe then gets up to leave, as a sudden sensation comes over her. Surprised, Ashe spins around to see Jericho holding onto her hand.

"I never said that."

>Ashe looks at Jericho in surprise, and she begins tearing up even more so.

"….I just manipulated you though! The entire time. I wasn't honest and I wasn't forthcoming! I hid everything from you! My identity! My age! Even my name!"

>Ashe then shouts loudly, unable to control her emotions any longer.

"How could you trust someone like me?! Someone who's only lied to you the entire time?!?!"

>Jericho stands up and moves close to hug Ashe tightly. Patting her on the back as he does so, he then states:

"Because you're my friend."

>Ashe then completely falls apart at that point, bawling her eyes out with tears streaming down her cheeks.

"It's alright. I'm here for you, Ashe. I'm here for you."

>Jericho then continues holding Ashe, hugging her and staying with her for the rest of the hour.


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File: 1702143082665-4.jpeg (123.51 KB, 1080x1080, Index Watch.jpeg)

>Location: Sanctuary City - Downtown District
>Time: 5:00 PM

"So yeah, that's all she had to say."

>Matrix says, as he finishes relaying his story to Arachnid and Arachne - both of whom are crouching on the edge of the rooftop on a large skyscraper.

"She's Termina's cousin? Seriously?"

>Matrix nods at Arachne, who scoffs in disbelief.

"And she wiped out their entire-"

"All of them. Ashe was the only survivor."

>Silent, Arachnid then looks up at Matrix from his position, crouching on the edge of the rooftop.

"That makes her a danger to everyone in this city. We've got to get her transferred somewhere else."

>Matrix taps his helmet repeatedly as he remains in thought. After a few seconds, he then has a response.

"She could've broken out at any time - that tells me she's serious about what she told the MRD. She's only here because of you, dude."

>Arachnid feels a chill go down his spine as he then shudders.

"I never should've been the one to stop her - now I'm the sole point of her obsession. For someone as powerful as her, that's not good."

>Confused, Matrix speaks up.

"What do you mean? She was pretty much a cakewalk to you, wasn't she? You took her down easily from what Arachne said."

>Looking at Matrix, Arachne then gives him a solemn look.

"She was holding back, Jericho. The entire time."

>Matrix feels the heat drain out of his face as he stammers a response.

"I-I'm sorry, w-what?!"

>Arachnid nods slowly, further perturbed by the situation.

"She's reportedly got hundreds of shades that she can summon. One for every person she's killed with her death touch."

>Both Arachne and Matrix nod slowly as Arachnid continues speaking.

"Considering how many Meta-Humans and possibly Para-Humans that she's encountered? I don't think we could take her head on."

>Matrix thinks for a moment, as he looks down at the Index on his left wrist and presses a button on the side of it.

>A large blue hologram interface appears right above the surface of the watch's screen - as Matrix moves through silhouettes.

"One of these guys has to have something that can counter her."

>Arachne then thinks for a moment, before her eyes light up.

"What about that armored form you had? The one in black with the glowing blue highlights?"

>Inspiration reaches Matrix as he then has an epiphany.

"Oh duh! Lambda! That'll have more than enough versatility to combat her shades."

>Arachne makes a gesture with her hand as she speaks.

"Alright, that's one aspect down. But fighting her isn't enough to get her to leave. She's just gonna follow Arachnid wherever he goes."


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>Arachnid's face darkens for a moment, as he then looks up at the others and says:

"….Unless we put the fear of God into her. Trick her into facing off against someone who'll hunt her down - just as badly as she wants to get me."

>Silent for a moment, Arachne's face then slowly morphs into a look of complete disbelief.

"Are you fucking serious, Damian? You want to do that?!"

>Arachne points a finger over the city's skyline beyond the rooftop, as she shouts in anger.

"After everything that you just told me a few days ago, you want to endanger the city just to fix your own problems?!?!"

>Matrix looks on confused, as he says:

"Wait, what are you two both talking about?!"

>Arachne looks at Matrix and speaks.

"Silkhead here wants to use our new villain killer friend as the ultimate deterrent."

>Stunned himself, Matrix looks at Arachnid, who is sitting on the edge of the rooftop - with his arms resting on his knees, and his helmet looking down on the rooftop floor.

"….You want to use other criminals as bait to trick Termina into fighting that villain hunter? The guy who just stabbed you in the arm a few days ago?!"

>Nodding, Arachnid states:

"The guy has a rap sheet so large, the MRD can't properly classify him. Whoever he is? He's tough enough to stop Termina. I don't know how, but he can do it."

>Arachne then says:

"Damian, the guy is a killer. He is going to kill her. You're the one who told me that he might even go after Tarantula because of what he did the other day. That Phobos guy that he accidentally consumed!"

>Arachnid then looks up at Arachne as he speaks:

"Either we do something about Termina, or eventually she is going to kill each and every single person that gets between her and me."

>Matrix then thinks for a moment, before speaking up himself:

"OK. This is going to sound insane but….Why not just pretend to give her what she wants? At least until you can convince her to leave the city."

>Arachne stares at Matrix in complete disbelief.

"I'm just saying! Damian's her target, right? No one else at this point. If he can convince her that he'll wait for her - she'll leave and never come back."

>Arachne rolls her eyes behind her mask as she mutters to herself:

"You are dangerously naive, Jay. She's not going to fall for that - she knows he's put off by her."


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>Arachnid sighs as he then looks at Arachne and Matrix. He then says to them:

"….Alright, we'll figure this out some other time. You two should get going. I just need a minute to think."

>Arachne and Matrix look at each other for a moment, before they look at Arachnid.

"Alright, we'll talk to you later."

"Just stay safe, man. Alright?"

>Arachne then jumps up into the air - firing a web line from her palm as she 180 swings into the air, flinging herself across the city streets.

>Matrix activates his Index watch and then flies off in his Eta form - his blue armored exoskeleton firing off blasts of bright blue light - as he glides after Arachne in the air.


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>After both of his friends have left, Arachnid then sighs and stands up. Rubbing the back of his suit's neck area, he then mutters to himself:

"This is getting completely out of hand. I need to figure out something, fast."

>Then, a voice speaks from behind him - saying:

"I can think of a few suggestions~."

>Immediately turning around, Arachnid readies his hands to fire silk bursts - fingers barely above the nano triggers in his suit's gloves.

"….Of course it's you."

>Standing right before Damian, is the very woman causing his perpetual anxiety. With her long blonde hair and sapphire eyes, the woman gives Arachnid a sly smile as she speaks.

"Who else? You're the only reason I haven't blown this city to smithereens."

>Ciara saunters forward in a clearly exaggerated manner - causing Arachnid to take a few steps back.

"Hey, watch it. Or I'll pick the last resort."

>Ciara continues walking forward, looking Arachnid directly past his helmet and into his eyes.

"Go ahead then. I'll wait."

>Ciara still continues walking, as Arachnid slowly steps back - before reaching the edge of the rooftop. Turning around, he sees the large view before him - causing him to flinch for a split second.


>Turning around - he's even more startled to see the face of Ciara, directly in front of him. Only a few inches from his own body.


>She then gives him a satisfied grin, as he immediately stumbles backwards - only to be grabbed by Ciara's hand.

>As Ciara looks at Arachnid's hand, seeing absolutely no response to her fabled death touch - her grin only grows wider as her eyes widen with a malicious satisfaction.

"See? It's as I told you."

>Using an invisible force to help push Arachnid's body back into standing position - Ciara then says:

"You're the same as me. You're not a Meta-Human. You're something much, much more interesting than that."


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>Angry, Arachnid pushes Ciara easily off of him with his immense strength. Ciara's got off guard by the attack, but the same invisible force from before easily catches her in place.

"Manners, little bug. Or else I'll have to squash you like one."

>She says, still smiling at him. Irritated, Arachnid then places his hands to his helmet before shouting:

"What the hell do you want with me you crazy bitch?!"

>Somewhat taking offense to the statement, Ciara scoffs as she then slowly walks back towards Arachnid. Standing directly in front of him and looking up slightly at the taller man, she states:

"Isn't it obvious? I want you - since you're the only one who seems to be immune to my death touch."

>Arachnid looks at her carefully before saying:

"If you've seen what my boss can do? I highly doubt that. So that's not the reason."

>Now Arachnid walks forward, causing Ciara to take a few steps back, reflexively.

"So I'm going to ask you again."

>Arachnid continues walking forward, now at a faster pace - causing Ciara to quickly backtrack herself. Ciara's face is now a mixture of surprise and confusion.

"Why. Are. You. Obsessed. With. Me?"

>Arachnid accentuates that last line as he stands right at the edge of the other side of the rooftop - with Ciara now being the one standing over the precipice of her potential fall.

"Because you're the only thing I care about anymore. It's that simple."

>Before Arachnid can react, he's then knocked backward by the same invisible force as before. As he slides across the floor, Arachnid recognizes the phenomenon.

{"Telekinesis! She has a shade that's using telekinesis!"}


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>As Arachnid tries to get up - he then finds himself bound by the same telekinetic force as before.

"What?! Ack!"

>As Arachnid tries to move, the telekinetic pressure only increases exponentially - as Ciara begins slowly walking towards him again.

"You know, you could've made this easier for yourself, bug boy."

>Once she then stands right before him, Ciara looks over the cityscape beyond the rooftop one more time - before looking down at Arachnid, smiling.

"If you'd just given me what I wanted from the start - then I wouldn't have needed to go this far."

>Arachnid coughs in pain as he tries to free himself from the restraints.

"What about 'waiting it out'? I'm guessing that was bullshit too!"

>Ciara laughs hysterically as she says:

"Oh, of course. It's as your friend Mariah said. Naïveté and all - Damian."

>Arachnid's body goes completely cold as every nerve in his body freezes. The sheer horror and realization kicks in, as he says:

"….One of your shades is a psion."

>Ciara gives Arachnid another cruel smile, saying:

"There's that big brain of yours. Gears are starting to turn, aren't they?"

>His mind racing, Arachnid tries to piece the situation together.

{"Telepathy. Teleportation. Telekinesis. How many shades? Hundreds? Cloning one of them? Shapeshifting? Psionic sight? How long? Watching? Since when?"}

>Ciara, very clearly reading all of his thoughts thanks to her psionic shade hovering beside her - sits on top of Arachnid and laughs again.

"Since the beginning."

>Ciara then undoes the knots in her hair, telekinetically - as she continues speaking.

"Ever since my runt of a cousin decided to skitter away to this backwater dumping ground for Meta-Humans. I've been watching you ever since."


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>Ciara then continues to reminisce, while still sitting on top of Arachnid's pinned-down body.

"Originally, you're right? I was interested in your boss. Tall, dark and handsome Aiden Grayson. But there was a problem."

>She then begins to muse as she says:

"He copied my abilities. I don't know how he did it - but I could sense the same power in him, as he almost undoubtedly sensed in me. So I had to pull back."

>Her thoughts continue out loud.

"But then, you came into the picture, later that year. The silk head himself. Arachnid they were calling you."

>Looking down at Arachnid, she then smiles again.

"Though, I knew what you really were. Fresh meat. Someone who was immune to my power, and could give me what I wanted the most."

>Silent for a moment, Arachnid then says:

"And what exactly is that?"

>With a flick of her finger - Ciara instructs her telekinetic shade to use its power - ripping apart Arachnid's mask on a molecular level and completely disintegrating it. As Damian's black hair and red eyes are visible for her to see - Ciara instinctively salivates.

"Even more handsome when face-to-face….Perfect…."

>Realizing exactly what she's after, Damian's eyes widen in horror.

"No way in hell am I ever going to do that for you."

>Ciara then pats Arachnid on the chest, stating:

"That's the important part. You don't have to. I'm getting what I want from you either way."

>As Damian continues to protest, struggling with more and more of his strength to push back against the telekinetic force of the shade - Ciara then sighs as she rolls her eyes.

"It's no use, Damian. I always get what I want."

>Suddenly, a very targeted voice speaks up from behind Ciara and Damian.

"Not this time, you don't."


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>Ciara spins around, confused - as a mass of silver-white webbing smashes into her face. Panicking, she's sent stumbling backwards, falling off of Arachnid.

"Fuck! God damnit! You stupid spider bitch! I almost-"

>A brief force then connects with Ciara's gut - sending her spiraling backwards and into the air at high speeds.


>As Ciara is knocked countless meters away, Arachnid watches as an immaterial figure quickly flies off after her. The telekinetic binds on his body are then removed, due to the figure's distracted attention.

"Damian? Damian! You alright?!"

>Arachnid looks up to see the form of Tarantula kneeling beside him. Still reeling from the shock of the situation, Arachnid briefly shouts in fear and hysteria - his senses still heightened as a result of the situation.

>After a few seconds, he then regains control of his breathing, centering himself mentally. Exhaling a held breath, he then looks up at Tarantula.

"Holy shit….Josh, I just…She almost…."

>Placing a hand to his chest, still reeling from the shock - Arachnid sees Tarantula place a hand on his shoulder.

"Damian, just breathe. Alright? Breathe."

>Arachnid then nods slowly, attempting to regain his composure. As he stands up, he takes a nanite capsule from his belt and presses on it for a few seconds.

>In those few seconds, the nanite capsule rapidly glows with a bright red light - before materializing into the form of a new helmet.

>As he puts the helmet on, he looks back at Tarantula, stating:

"You're immune to her death touch?"

>Tarantula looks down at his black gloved hand - examining it for a moment. With conscious effort, he causes ripples of black mass to appear from it - oscillating like an organic structure.

"The protoplasm. It's a gene recombinant substance, remember? It can react to genetic damage almost instantaneously and adapt to the process - much like you can, apparently."

>Arachnid has an epiphany about the protoplasm, and comes to the same conclusion quickly.

"Right. Well, bad news man. She knows who we are."

>Tarantula gives a "no duh" gesture.

"Yeah, I figured as much. Guess we don't have much of a choice then?"

>Both of then look up at the sky, seeing a figure hovering in the distance. Ciara has regained her footing, as she's suspended in the air with telekinetic force, thanks to her shade.

"There's always a choice, really."

>Arachnid then sighs once more as he looks up at the sky.

"I guess my choice is to live with this. I can't kill her, and she won't kill me. I guess I could use that to our advantage."


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>Arachnid fires two silk strands at the edge of the rooftop. Pulling backwards, he takes a few steps back, straining against the tensile strength of the silk - and his own physical strength.

"I'll distract her and keep her preoccupied. Go into camouflage mode and get ready."

>Raising a milky white organic lens, Tarantula gives the most bewildered of expressions.

"What in the world are you planning now? You know she's not going to fall for that, right?"

>Silent for a moment, Arachnid then speaks up.

"She will after what I'm about to tell her."

>Tarantula immediately understands Arachnid's intentions, and then goes:

"Man, you are one hell of a maniac. I'll give you that much."

>Arachnid nods as he then sighs:

"Well, somebody's gotta be on the good guys' side."

>He then releases his connections to both strands of silk - flying high into the air like a rocket.

>As he rapidly closes in on Ciara's location, he sees her eyes light up like a maniac.

"Ahahaha. There you are~!"

>Rushing eagerly to meet her "prize", Ciara sends out multiple shades to intersect him.


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>Arachnid flips through the air, doing his best to maneuver through the oncoming barrage of energy blasts and biomass coming his way.

"Not good! Not good!"

>He says, carefully using his suit's booster jets to make hairpin turns in the air - avoiding the attacks.

"Ciara, can you just stop this!"

>The armored vigilante exclaims, trying desperately to reach out to his seemingly new arch-nemesis.

"Of course I can't you dolt! I'm doing this because of you!"

>Ciara says, irritated at the very question. As this happens, she continues trying to coordinate her shades - attempting to attack Arachnid as he continues flying through the air.

"Stop making this harder for yourself than it needs to be!"

>Arachnid then webs a nearby shade - grappling himself to it while still using his jet boots.

"You mean making this harder for you, right? This was never about me!"

>Making a crash landing on the chest of the shade - Arachnid charges his boots up to full power and says:

"That's always the case with you megalomaniacal types!"

>The jet boots then ignite at full power - creating large plumes of plasma-charged flames, which ionize the shade - burning it up entirely.

"What?! My shades are supposed to be completely intangible!"

>Arachnid then turns his attention towards Ciara - as he starts flying towards her.

"They are - when you're paying attention!"

>Ciara then looks stunned, as the realization hits her. She then realizes - she's never had anyone take her full, undivided attention before, like Arachnid has.

"Bastard….You're using this against me! Stop doing that!!!!!"


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>At that same moment, Tarantula appears above the second shade, having taken the time to camouflage himself - and grab onto them.

"I may not have fancy technology, but I do have something else. Courtesy of Phobos."

>Tarantula's hands start glowing with a bright orange light - as electricity begins to crackle between his fingers.

>Then in an instant, a massive orange plume of energy appears in the air - surrounding the second shade as it's also vaporized.


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>Ciara moves to attempt to summon a new shade - but Arachnid acts immediately.

"Sorry, not happening."

>Arachnid then immediately flies towards Ciara - kicking up the speed of his boosters to full throttle.

>As he crashes into Ciara - she doesn't show frustration or anger. Instead, surprisingly, she shows happiness and what seems to be pure ecstacy.

"Ohhhh. Finally….Been so long since…..a touch….."

>Arachnid then flies both himself and Ciara further and further away from the city - keeping his jet boosters at full throttle as they cover an astronomical distance.

>Eventually, they reach the edges of Sanctuary City - where the vegetation and forestry are. As the undeveloped portions of the city's outskirts hide most activity from view, none are privy to the small meteoric crash that occurs down below.


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>A large crater of dust and debris kicks up into the air, as birds and other wildlife quickly move away from the impact crater.

"……You going to let go of me?"

>Ciara says, as Arachnid lays on the ground - both hands fastened around Ciara, to the point where she can't move.

"No. Not until the calvary arrives to take you in."

>Giving a wry smile, Ciara then says:

"Maybe I was too rough and forceful with you…."

>Arachnid then immediately snaps back:

"No shit you were. You don't get to force yourself on people - especially the ones trying to take you in."

>Ciara then looks away, a pained expression on her face, as her facial expression contorts into a look of frustration and sadness.

"…..You don't understand. I haven't had this in so…so very long. The sensation of tactile stimulation."

>Looking up at Arachnid slightly from her position beside him in the crater, she then states:

"That feeling of skinship. It's been a mirage for me all my life. Ever since I got my powers."

>Arachnid looks at Ciara and then says:

"That doesn't justify what you've done."

>Ciara nods, slowly, stating:

"I know. But I have nothing left to live for, Damian. I can't die, and I no longer really age. My powers keep my cells at maximum efficiency - while destroying everyone else's."

>Looking away from Arachnid once more, Ciara then exclaims:

"Can you even imagine what it feels like? To completely lose a sense like that? It's agonizing. It's the worst feeling in the world….."

>Ciara then feels a tear slowly roll down her cheek, as she says:

"….I-I'm sorry for everything that I've done. Everything I did to you. What I almost did to you. I just couldn't control myself. I was weak and I-"

>Arachnid then cuts her off, stating:

"I forgive you."


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>Ciara looks at Arachnid in disbelief as she then stammers to herself.


>Arachnid then calmly reiterates his statement.

"I forgive you. You can't take back all of the things that you've done, not entirely. You can't bring back all of the people who died because of your powers. But I can at least forgive you for what you tried to do to me. Even if every bone in my body is telling me to hit you instead."

>Arachnid then slowly rises up - helping Ciara to her feet as well, as he holds her arm with her own.

"You need a lot of help, Ciara. Way more than I'm qualified to give. But that's what rehabilitation is for."

>Ciara still looks shocked and completely taken aback. Attempting to reconcile her emotions, she then stammers:

"B-But what if I keep coming after you? Won't you just get tired of this, and eventually just kill me?"

>Arachnid shakes his head.

"I don't kill anyone, and I sure as hell don't hurt people - not intentionally. I always try to help people and defend them. But I won't attack someone with or without provocation."

>Reminiscing about his previous encounter with the mysterious figure - the one who killed Megiddo, Arachnid then sighs and takes off his helmet, with both hands.

"So just do yourself a favor and let people help you, Ciara."


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>Ciara stands in silence for a moment, looking at the ground. A swirl of emotions fill her head all at once, as she feels her heart skip a beat.

>As her heart beat grows faster and louder in her ears, she then looks up at Damian and says:

"I'll cooperate, and I'll stop trying to fight you and the others. I'll leave you alone - and I'll make sure that reform myself. I swear on my life."

>Confused, Damian looks at Ciara with a quizzical expression on his face.

"Why the sudden change of heart? Do you actually mean this?"

>Ciara nods her head quickly as a resolute expression appears on her face.

"I'll stop trying to interfere with your life, and I'll let you live your life in peace. I just want one thing from you. Just one."

>Ciara's eyes almost glaze over, as her vision goes somewhat murky. Her gaze fixates on Damian's face as the man looks somewhat confused still.

>Then after a few moments, he then realizes what Ciara actually wants.

"…..You really want that?"

>Ciara nods as she walks up to Damian and places a hand on his chest.

"It's all I've ever wanted."

>Damian is silent for a moment, before he then speaks.

"Fine. Just this once. That's it."

>Ciara nods as she replies:

"That's all I needed to hear."

>Ciara then moves forward and places her hands on the sides of Damian's head - slowly bringing him in for a deep and passionate kiss on the mouth.


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>After a good few seconds of the kiss, Ciara then quickly pulls back and turns away - a satisfied, but genuine smile on her face. She then whispers to herself:

["….So that's what it feels like…."]

>Silent, Damian then puts his helmet back on, as Arachnid takes his place. Walking up to Ciara, he then says:

"Remember your part of the deal. You don't say a word about me or the others to the MRD. You rehabilitate yourself, and start trying to make up for your actions."

>Ciara is silent for a moment, before she then turns around, speaking.

"….If I do this, make up for everything that I did. As best as I can."

>She then looks Arachnid square in his lenses before stating:

"Will you be there for me when I'm let out? No matter how long it takes?"

>Arachnid is silent for a moment, before speaking:

"Yeah. I will. As your friend - if you're committed to making things right."

>Ciara then closes her eyes, feeling the tears stream down her face. She then whispers to herself:

["God, thank you. It's not too late for me. It's not too late…..Thank you….."]

>Eventually, the MRD arrive, and escort Ciara away. As they do so, Arachnid looks onward, stating:

"….I never thought I'd be someone else's motivation - in a good way, hopefully."

>He then jumps into the air, and flies off - until he can reach the city itself to start swinging.


File: 1702335390455-0.png (329.82 KB, 1000x563, Hallway.png)

File: 1702335390455-1.jpeg (249.58 KB, 1448x2048, Ciara - 2.jpeg)

File: 1702335390455-2.jpeg (5.5 MB, 2480x3508, Valkyrie - 3.jpeg)

File: 1702335390455-3.jpg (1.85 MB, 1000x1700, Ashe - 4.jpg)

>Location: MRD - The Spire
>Time: 8:00 PM

>Ciara sits at the table, with Valkyrie and Ashe sitting across from her - with complete skepticism in their eyes.

"…So after that, Arachnid then left, and you were escorted here?"

>The blonde woman nods resolutely, stating:

"I meant what I said to him there, and I mean the same now. I got what I wanted, so there's no more reason for me to resist arrest."

>Valkyrie looks at Ashe for a moment, before Ashe then looks back at Ciara - stating:

"Ciara, are you absolutely certain about this? You could potentially be put away for a long time."

>Ciara nods, stating:

"I'm going to outlast pretty much everyone on this planet - as far as I know. What use is fighting it at this point? I know what I did, so I'm going to own up to it."

>Ciara then looks off in the distance, biting her lip reflexively as she remembers the kiss from Damian.

"Besides, I've got something to look forward to - hundreds of years from now….."


>A few minutes later, Ciara has finished the paperwork that Valkyrie placed before her - after being given one more alternative option.

"Since your public identity as Ciara Rutherford is separate from your costumed identity as Termina - there is some leeway we can give towards the decoupling of those identities. You'll still be charged as Termina - but we can work towards a dramatically reduced sentence - if…"

>Ciara raises her eyebrows as she then says:

"If what, Commander?"

>Valkyrie hands Ciara a folder of documents with pictures on them. The pictures are black and white, and involve various pieces of technology and equipment - including Champion clones in large incubation pods.

"….Given the circumstances we're facing involving our investigation of this 'Eukaryon' group - if you can help us find and interrogate key personnel, and expose a much larger Meta-Human criminal organization? We'll work with the department to issue you a reduced or even waived sentence."

>Ciara thinks for a moment, before she looks at Valkyrie and says:

"I'll take it."

>Valkyrie nods and flips the folder shut, spinning it towards her and picking it up again. As she does so, Ashe looks at Ciara and says:

"…..Have you really changed, Ciara? Or is this just another trick?"

>Ciara shakes her head, still looking off to the side of the cell.

"Like I said, I've got something to look forward to. And since a certain redhead will be out of the way by then? I won't have anything to worry about either."

>Confused, Ashe then asks:

"What are you talking about, Ciara?"

>Having some idea, Valkyrie then says to Ashe:

"Come on, Ashe. Let's go back upstairs for now. I'm done talking to your cousin Ciara, until further notice."

>Valkyrie and Ashe then leave the room, as Ciara moves to lay back in her chair - looking up at the ceiling.

{"I wonder what we'll do once we're finally in synch, Damian."}


File: 1702335869660-0.png (2.23 MB, 1601x788, Sanctuary City (Night).png)

File: 1702335869660-1.jpeg (4 MB, 2480x3508, Mosaic - 2.jpeg)

File: 1702335869660-2.png (2.04 MB, 738x2375, Arachnid.png)

>Location: Sanctuary City - Downtown
>Time: 8:00

>Arachnid looks over the city from the rooftop above. Resting his hands on his knee, he then scans the activity below. Attempted muggings, Meta-Human fights, possible gang skirmishes.

"Just another night in the Meta-Human capital of the world…."

>He barely notices the arrival of another figure - one dressed in black and red armor like him.

"I think I made the right choice. Maybe? I'm just glad that Josh was there."

>Still noting the lack of response from the other person, Arachnid then says:

"….You had Tarantula keep an eye on me, didn't you?"

>Mosaic walks up beside Arachnid, arms crossed as he then states:

"I had a feeling she'd make a move around now. I know her type. Obsessive. Impulsive. Almost unstable, even. I had to be sure you were okay, in all honesty."

>Mosaic then turns to look at Arachnid, saying:

"But look at you. Despite the odds, you managed to convince her to turn herself in, and try to start redeeming herself. It must've been difficult for you to make that decision - but you made the right one."

>Arachnid nods, as he then sighs, not responding. After a few moments, Mosaic then states:

"You're afraid that she's right. That after hundreds of years, it'll just be you and her left - and nothing else will matter to you."

>Damian grows somewhat anxious at the response, starting to fidget and tense up.

"What if she's right? What if everyone I know is going to just wither and die after three hundred years? What if the girl that I like is just a snapshot in my entire life?"

>Arachnid sulks as he lowers his head over the railing of the rooftop, stating:

"What if this is all for nothing? I'll have nothing left but her after hundreds of years."

>Mosaic then walks forward and places a hand on Arachnid's shoulder, causing him to look up as Mosaic says:

"You'll still have me. No matter what."

>Arachnid is silent for a moment, before moving to hug Mosaic - clearly feeling emotional.

"…..Thanks Aiden. You're like the big brother I never had."

>Mosaic pats Arachnid on the back, stating:

"Yeah, my own older brother helped me keep myself mostly together. I'm glad to pay it forward for once."


File: 1702336174329-0.png (2.23 MB, 1601x788, Sanctuary City (Night).png)

File: 1702336174329-1.png (2.89 MB, 998x2000, Mosaic.png)

File: 1702336174329-2.gif (897.59 KB, 500x215, Flight.gif)

File: 1702336174329-3.jpeg (123.38 KB, 720x540, Arachnid - 2.jpeg)

File: 1702336174329-4.gif (8.42 MB, 728x408, Swing - 6.gif)

>Looking down below at the skyline of the city - Mosaic then says:

"Still, to take your mind off of this - want to stop some robbers?"

>Arachnid nods as he pulls back from the hug with Mosaic, remarking:

"Yeah, that'd be fun. Oh, and do you have any ideas for where I should take Bella?"

>Mosaic looks at Arachnid for a moment, before stating:

"….Invite her to your family's home? She hasn't met your parents, has she?"

>Thinking, Arachnid then says:

"…Actually, yeah. She hasn't. Good idea. Thanks Aiden."

>Nodding, Mosaic then points down below, stating:

"Try and keep up, silkhead. You're more than capable of being a hero now."

>Mosaic then flies into the air surprising speeds - causing Arachnid to lightly curse as he prepares his silk slingshot maneuver. After a few seconds - he then flies into the air himself, shouting:

"I thought that we were vigilantes! Not heroes?!"

>Mosaic responds, shouting in the air as he flies:

"We're whatever people need us to be! First that was vigilantes! Now it's heroes apparently! Funny how quick that changes, ain't it wall climber?!"

>Both figures then soar into the distance, with Mosaic flying and Arachnid swinging with his silk strands - both of them off towards their next adventure.

[The End]

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