/simu/ - Simulacrum

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>Date: September 14th, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City - UP Tower
>Time: 8:47am

>Located at the top of the UP Tower, the CEO of UP's office looks out across Sanctuary City, commanding an impressive view of the city thanks to the majority of the surrounding city having been built by the same company as the tower itself, granting the tower the privilege of being one of the tallest buildings in the city.

>As the morning sun rises over the city, the windows of the office adjust, allowing more natural light into the room while simultaneously blocking out the glare from the star, diffusing the light into a comfortable level for the occupant.

>Watching the city below, Bella Blake stands near one of the windows, her position giving her a view out to the sea. Her thoughts are soon interupted, however, as a woman enters the room, neatly dressed and holding a package.

"Ms Blake, this package came for you. I've had it scanned like you require and nothing was detected. . ."

"Thank you Anne, put it on the desk and I'll handle it."

>The woman, Anne, nods and places it on Bella's desk, leaving the young woman to her own musings.

>After a few moments, Bella peels herself away from the window, carefully approaching the package and inspecting it.

"No signs of any mechanisms, no signals being sent out. . ."

>Bella opens the package, revealing the contents, a lone flash drive.

"Ah, a foolish trap, why would I ever-"

>As she speaks aloud, the flash drive is suddenly surrounded by a device that seems to grow out of nowhere, breaking through the box and landing neatly on the desk, where it comes to life, producing a projected image of a robotic face, a speaker on the side plays audio from a synthetic voice.

"I trust you're alone, Apex, or at least I would hope you are, if you wish your identity to remain secret."

>Bella narrows her eyes, reaching into her pocket for something.

"I want to play a game, a game of puzzles. A break-in occured at the courthouse, but the police could not find a motive, after all, the only thing that was stolen was Lady Justice's blindfold, which leads to the question - what was really stolen?"

>Bella finds what she's looking for and pulls it out of her pocket, a spike of some kind. As the recording continues, Bella drives it down into the device, piercing it.

"If you're stumped, perhaps you should check the good lady yourse-"

>The device sparks as the spike releases a pulse, shutting the device down, which then proceeds to distintegrate into a silvery dust.

"I hate riddles. . ."

>Directly in her view, one of the windows in the Archeon Genetics Research building flashes, and a plume of smoke bursts out of it violently.


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>Date: September 14th, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City, Archeon Complex - Genetics & Molecular Biology Division
>Time: 8:30am

>As the work day nears its start, various workers make their way into the office, among them, a lab technician stumbles his way into the building, his complexion revealing that he's suffering from some sort of nausea. Making his way over to the main security point, he hands his card over to be checked, his appearance earning the attention of the guard on duty.

"Hey Craig, you alright?"

"Yeah I'm fine Andy, just a little. . . hungover. Had a blind date last night and drank a little too much. . ."

>The security guard scans Craig's card, nodding as it checks out correctly.

"Nice, it go well?"

"Yeah I think so, she was. . . urgh. . ."

>Craig clutches his head.

"Well if you had that much, she was either a great date or you had such a terrible date you had to drink your sorrows away."

"No no it was a good date, I just can't remember most of it. . ."

"Sounds like a great time then, hope the headache doesn't last long."

"Thanks Andy."

>Craig walks through the security point, making his way into the main building, stopping briefly as he heaves. Deciding not to risk it, he rushes to the nearest toilet. Emerging a few minutes later looking marginally better. . .

>Date: September 14th, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City, Archeon Complex - Genetics & Molecular Biology Division
>Time: 8:33am

>Across the building, a pipe bursts open as a hole is cut into it, and swarm of small balls pours out, collecting together and forming a reed-like, thin robotic form. Looking around for a moment, the robot appears to decide on a direction of some kind, and carefully rushes out of the room its colour changing to match its surroundings.

>Date: September 14th, 2017
>Location: Sanctuary City, Archeon Complex - Genetics & Molecular Biology Division
>Time: 8:46am

>The robot stops in a laboratory, looking around and confirming its surroundings before making its way over to a fire alarm, flicking it carelessly and standing out of the way as the confused staff start to filter out.

>After a few moments, once the room is empty, the robot makes its way of the centre of the room, dropping its camoflague, instead letting out a red glow as it builds up some kind of energy.


>The robot explodes.


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>Time: 8:57am

>Damian's phone buzzes as a message comes in, the contact revealing it to be a group chat for one of his classes.

[Hey @Damian, isn't this where your mom works?]

>Below the message, a link to a video showing the smoke billowing out of the Genetics & Molecular Biology Division of Archeon is present.

>Before Damian has a chance to properly react, the incoming phone call screen flashes up, the ID revealing that the call is from his mother.


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>Barely taking in the information, Damian already feels his mind beginning the cavalcade of assumptions and thoughts. A chain reaction already begins, as his thumb hovers slowly over the caller ID picture.

{"Archeon's been attacked again?!"}

{"No, security should've been better."}

{"Wouldn't they have caught this?"}

>Taking a deep breath, Damian then answers the call and holds up the phone to his ear, his voice ever stale and apprehensive.

"…..Hello? Mom? Is that you?"

>Damian's voice is still somewhat uncertain, as he feels a familiar tinge of doubt in his mind. The same low and faint rumbling, all too familiar.


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>Rather than the familiar sound of his mother's voice, a synthetic, harsh voice comes through the phone.

"Hello Damian, it's good to finally be talking. Although I wish it were in better circumstances. After all, it's not pleasant to be the one to tell someone that his mother has been kidnapped."

>The voice pauses for a moment, to let the fact sink in.

"But you shouldn't worry, I wouldn't harm a hair on her head, I just want to talk to you in person, to give you a message."

"But messages are so boring in our modern world, it's all about engagement and interactions now, so instead, first, why don't we play a game?"


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>Damian then lets the sensation of fear grip him - as his heart sinks within his body. Letting out a quiet and exasperated sigh, he then says:

"I'm not in the mood for games - especially after hearing that you kidnapped my mother."

>Damian's free hand instinctively forms into a fist - lightly displacing the air around him with his strength.

"Where is she?"

>Luckily, at an empty portion of the dorm's upper floors - Damian starts quickly walking towards his dorm room, remembering where he places his spare silk bracelets.


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>The voice responds with a mocking tone.

"Careful now, anger clouds reason."

"For now, I'll leave you with a clue, Arachnids are often blind, just like justice, so perhaps they can find themselves in good company where justice is served."

>The call disconnects with a sound indicating the signal is lost.


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>Scowling, Damian then mutters to himself:


>Reaching his dorm room, Damian unlocks it with his keycard - moving in and closing the door behind him.

{"Well, if I'm going to find you mom, then I'll need to go along with this guy's stupid charade. Hang in there."}

>After a few minutes, Arachnid is finished recalibrating the pressurization levels of his silk shooter bracelets. The internal UI of his suit gives him the clear - and he then makes his move.

{"Alright. Time for a court visit."}

>After using his suit's senses to detect all people in his field of view - Arachnid then opens up his dorm window and quickly climbs out. Once he's closed the window - he then leaps up into the air, zipping across the edges of the dormitory building as he lands on the rooftop.

"Boss, you there?"

>After a few seconds, a comlink is established with Mosaic - with the latter responding.

["I heard, Arachnid. Sorry I can't be there to help. The Engineering division's subsidiary company needed me for a field test on the West Coast-"]

>Arachnid then interjects as he crouches on the rooftop edge.

"I know, I know. Business stuff. Look, I'm gonna try and find some leads, but I think I can handle this. The guy who attacked the place says he has my mom-"

>Mosaic then immediately responds:

["It's likely a ploy, Arachnid. Whether he has her or not, the goal was to lure you out. Consider what you're doing - it's likely leaving-"]

>Arachnid nods hurriedly as he looks around the skyline of the campus.

"Leaving Archeon exposed, I know. But I can't take the risk, boss. It's my mom."

>Mosaic then says from the other side of the link:

["I understand. Go. I'll be back as soon as I can to help."]

>Arachnid nods and then leaps up into the air, beginning to swing into the city and towards the Business District's Courthouse.


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>The courthouse comes into view, and on top of it, a familiar silhouette, which turns and looks in Arachnid's direction, a radio signal from it reaching his suit's communications.

["Go home, Arachnid, if my assumptions about what you believe happened at Archeon are correct, you're compromised, you'll better help her by leaving this to me."]

>The silhouette drops down from on top of the courthouse, heading inside.


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>Irritated, Arachnid mutters back at the figure.

["I'm just as good at remaining undetected as you - if not better. If my mother really is in trouble, I'm not sitting this one out."]

>Starting to crawl down from the opening in the ceiling, Arachnid slowly makes his way inside as he begins whispering in his comms link.

["Besides, if you were the one in trouble, I'd be here all the same. Judging by their snark and overconfidence? I'd say they know a lot about both of us. So we're in this together, whether you like it or not."]


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>Apex looks up at Arachnid from her position nearer to the floor, shaking her head.

["It's not your ability that I'm calling into question, you're just simply too closely related to this to act rationally."]

>Apex moves from her point to a statue of Lady Justice, carefully scaling up it and reaching out to something on top of her blindfold.

["So go home."]

>Satisified with what she's taken, Apex brings out a grapple and fires it at where she came from, "flying" back up to the roof.


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>Muttering to himself again, Arachnid then speaks from his spot hanging on the ceiling.

["….I could've gotten that…"]

>Reflexively crossing his arms, he then looks 'up' to see Apex moving towards his location from below.

["This can't be it. Some random dude just decides to blackmail us with our secret identities and send us on a wild goose chase? It doesn't make any sense."]

>Thinking for a moment, he then messages Apex once more.

["Wait a minute. What if Mosaic was right? What if the guy's just doing this so that we're out of his way?"]


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["They're playing with us."]

>Apex looks over the item she retrieved from the statue, finding a button on it, which triggers the item - a projected image coming from within it.

"It seems justice is not quite so blind as some think, or maybe she is to injustice, after all, organisations that flout the law can often find themselves free from consequence."

>Apex moves the item closer, still looking it over while she listens.

"Bravo, though, for solving the entry level puzzle, for that you have earned a fun fact. Spiders are often solitary, preferring their own company, and areas where they have a good view of any threats. Even with this view, though, they need to look out for Crimson flames."

>The device flicks off, disintegrating in Apex's hand.

"Ugh, complete and utter nonsense, a dead end."


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>Arachnid thinks for a moment, before he then says:

["….Good view of any threats…."]

>Stunned, he then states:

["How do they….They're talking about Central Park. I sometimes go there to clear my head - and the wide open space stops by ESP from constantly firing."]

>Pointing at the space where the item formerly was in Apex's hand, he then continues:

["They're definitely messing with us like you said. I'm guessing they know you've got a score to settle with the Crimson Tide too - which only raises more questions. How much do they actually know about us?"]

>Arachnid then slowly crawls up to the top of the courthouse and onto the rooftop, before he then waits for Apex to respond.


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>Apex takes out a container from her belt, pouring the remains of the item into it and sealing it shut.

"Then the park is where the game is next."

>Apex places the container back on her belt, and heads to the edge of the building.

"Them selecting it because of you is all the more reason for you to go home, they're playing with us, and unless you're completely focused, you'll be dancing on the palm of their hand."

>Apex jumps off the building, heading in the direction of the park. . .

>Location: Sanctuary City - Central Park

>Apex lands near the park, taking a step in, ready to begin searching around, only to have to dodge as a fireball narrowly avoids her head.

>Standing across from the entrance are two men, one large and bulky, the other thin and short, ready to intercept people entering the park.

"Well look here Luke, we got a rat. . ."

>The larger man clenches his fist, a ball of flame surrounding it.

"-and a spider too, just like the boss's new friends said there'd be."

>The shorter man's skin turns to ice.

"Then we gotta beat them up, city'll appreciate us cleaning up the park. . .


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>Arachnid glares at the two hired guns, blinking incredulously from behind his helmet.

"…So are you guys bouncers or something? I know the job market's not the greatest here but I mean come on."

>Arachnid crouches effortlessly on a tall lamppost in the park as he states:

"I'm pretty sure you'd do great as superhero TV extras! I hear elemental theming's great for the horoscopes too!"

>He then fires a burst of concentrated webbing aiming at the mouths of both men.


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>The shorter man quickly kneels down, putting a hand on the ground, a wall of ice soon following this action.

"Little spider's got a mouth on him, ain't he. Well webs don't go through ice now do they, so I just gotta-"

>The ice shatters in the man's face as it's hit by a bullet, the projectile falling to the ground in front of the pair.

>Still in the same spot, Apex stands with a smoking gun her hand.

>The pair of men blink, looking down at the bullet.

"Errrr. . . Andrew, you wanna take that one?"

"You handle the ones with guns Luke. . ."

>The smaller man groans.

"Ok ok, I'll take the chick, you burn the spiders webs, ok?"

"Yeah ok."

>The larger man steps forward, putting himself between Arachnid and the smaller man as the smaller man rushes forward at Apex. As he steps forward, more and more flames come up from the man's body.

"Look, kid, 's nothing personal, you've just been getting in the boss's business, ok?"


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>Arachnid crosses his arms as he notices the increased intensity of the man's flames. While scorching, they aren't lethal to him or his suit. After a moment, Arachnid then says:

"I wasn't joking. You guys could probably get better paying legit jobs in entertainment or response work."

>Making a shrugging motion, Arachnid then states:

"Fighting me and the lady over there just gets you a one way ticket to the MRD's holding cells. You sure that you want this?"

>All the while, Arachnid is mentally selecting a certain type of nanite capsule to be dispensed into his crossed palms.


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>The smaller man runs towards Apex, firing several shards of ice at her, which she deflects by bringing her gun down and pressing a button, causing parts of it to fold back in rapidly to create a staff, which she swings around.

"Hey lady, you're probably pretty under there, why don't you stop fighting and we can. . . y'know. . ."

>The man slices at Apex, narrowly missing her as she spins out of the way, bringing the staff up to block a second strike.

"We could work, y'know, I'd even help ya take down the boss - but from the inside, y'know?"

>The man slices, missing as Apex jumps out of the way, and soons find a staff hitting him squarely in the stomach, knocking some of his wind out - even with the blow being dampened by his ice.

"Not one for talking then? Why don't we make that a done deal. . ."

>The man produces a second ice blade, charging forward again.

>The large man lumbers forward.

"I got fire, fire beats spider."

>The man swings his fist at Arachnid, trying to simultaneously punch him and set him on fire.


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>Arachnid sighs as he then replies:

"Well, it was worth a shot, I suppose."

>He then moves back, barely missing the fire strike, as portions of his suit jacket begin to catch on fire.

"Hey! This is premier nanomaterial!"

>As he quickly pats his suit and douses the flame - he then looks at his palm before showing it to the main.

"Oh look! I didn't see those there!"

>Stuck to Arachnid's gloved palm are a series of small black and silver capsules. Immediately, he then tosses the capsules at the man - watching as they begin to spontaneously flash freeze the area around him.

>Ice slowly begins to form around the man's body, seemingly moving from the edges of his body towards his center core.

"Thermal induction capsules. Pretty good at sucking heat like vampires suck blood. Plus they're really good enthalpic - actually you know what? Never mind."

>Arachnid then crouches instinctively, ready in case the man retaliates while slowly being trapped in ice.


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>The smaller man jumps out of the way of a staff swing, turning to try and intervene in the other fight.


>The man takes a step forward, then suddenly jolts as something hits the back of his head, his body spasming for a second before he drops down, unconscious.

"Focus on your own battles first."

"I got no enthalpic for you, lttle spider!"

>The large man tries to swing at Arachnid, his movements becoming more and more sluggish as he has to fight against the rapidly increasing ice, his fist stopping just clear of his smaller opponent.

"Let me outta this! You're meant to be getting punched!"


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>Arachnid blinks twice behind his helmet, assuming a thinking position as he speaks.

"Hmmm… Well if you ask nicely then I might consider it….."

>Making a gesture with his hand from his thinking position, he continues.

"…..But, there's the chance that you'll continue making a scene if I thaw the ice so…….."

>Arachnid then points his hand at the flaming man, webbing up his mouth - but not his nose, so that he can still breathe.

"No deal. How about you stay put for the authorities to pick you up instead?

>Turning back towards Apex, Arachnid walks over to her, saying:

"Hey, you OK?"


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>The man tries to shout through the webbing, whatever he's trying to say completely muffled by the material, instead leaving him making some muffled grunts.

>Pressing a button on her staff, Apex causes parts of it to retract and turns her focus to Arachnid.

"Why would I not be? More importantly, are there any particular locations in the park that you enjoy?"


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>Arachnid blinks twice behind his helmet before groaning. Putting his hand to his face, he then shakes his head as he replies:

"It was just a question, Apex. That's all."

>Now actually considering her main question, Arachnid thinks to himself for a moment.

"……Probably one of the benches near the lake at the center. I always liked going there and tossing some rocks to help clear my head."

>Looking around and turning to face the direction of the lake in the far off distance, Arachnid elaborates further.

"Assuming this guy does know as much about me as he's letting on - he's probably been observing me for some time now, and likely knows this too."

>Arachnid then gestures with his helmet, nodding in the direction of the lake.

"After you. Ladies first after all."


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>Apex starts walking to the lake, taking a small device from her belt, which hovers over to the benches, scanning over them until it flashes red, having found something. Approaching the device, Apex reaches to where it indicated, finding another device, which activates once brought up.

"A lovely view, don't you think? Perfect for anyone seeking to clear their head, especially those who have issues with their parents."

>Despite being synthetic, the voice somehow manages to have an almost mocking tone to it.

"Personally, I'm a fan of more mechanical escapes. Although those are more. . . difficult to-"

>A shock travels through the device from Apex's glove, shorting it out.

"I know where the next location is."

>Apex turns, leaving.

>Location: Sanctuary City - Industrial District

>Apex stands on top of a warehouse, looking over another building, As she does, a thermal image is sent to her UI, showing two humanoid silhoeuttes, one standing and another attached to a chair.

"Two in there, one human. . . one putting out too much heat to be human alone, but does appear to have some biological signature to it. . ."

>Apex shifts slightly.

"The human one is likely your mother, but you shouldn't rush in, we don't know what they've prepared for us.


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>Arachnid crouches on the edge of the warehouse rooftop, slightly fidgeting in place as his nerves start to get the better of him. Still unable to shake this nagging feeling in the back of his mind, he slowly ponders for a moment.

"….I still don't understand how they would've been able to kidnap my mom. She generally stays at her suite at the Archeon Complex and only goes back home during work vacations. The place is completely locked down when it comes to radio-wave interference…"

>Still assuming a thinking position, Arachnid continues shaking his head.

"No, this doesn't make any sense. There's no way she would've been captured! Mariah and Josh are always around her during work hours too, and I-"

>Realization quickly comes over Arachnid as he mutters to himself:

"….I should've called them first. Ugh I'm such an idiot!"

>Standing up, Arachnid looks at Apex, stating:

"The entire thing is a wash. They don't have my mom. If they did, then Arachne and Tarantula would either have called me by now, or would be intensive care after trying to defend her from being captured."

>Pointing back at the building off in the distance, Arachnid is adamant about his conclusion - as it's apparent in his changed tone of voice.

"Whoever's in there isn't my mother. It's someone else taking her form, or someone with a bio-signature that was made to replicate her. It's a trap, and the instigator knew that I'd probably be too emotional to think properly and just rush right in - just as you said."

>Arachnid then scans the warehouse himself with his own suit's visor. As the black and red lighting elements of the suit do their work, he begins scanning remotely - attempting his own check.


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"The individual behind this was capable of sneaking a bomb into the genetic laboratory, so they likely were capable of getting around such locks."

>Apex says, measuring up the building.

"But this is likely a trap, even if that bio-signature does match your mother's well."

>Apex scans across the room, looking for anything that stands out.

"And even if they don't have her, there is still the matter of how much they know about us."

>As Apex finishes talking, the standing figure turns, looking directly in the pair's direction.


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>Shaking his head, Arachnid says:

"Both of them have the same extra-sensory warning ability that I have. They would've been warned about the danger minutes before the blast would've occurred."

>Noticing the figure turning to face both him and Apex, Arachnid then continues:

"That just reinforces the idea even further - that they didn't capture my mom."

>Looking back at the figure, Arachnid then thinks for a moment, before speaking up.

"They've likely been watching us for a while now, and tailing us. What I don't understand is why pick us? There are far more valuable targets in the city. Political and financial figures. More powerful vigilantes. Why us specifically?"

>Hesitating for a moment, Arachnid then states:

"I can send a recon probe if necessary. Should I do that?"


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>A synthetic voice loudly flares up over the radio for the pair.

"Come now, don't be scared, children, I offer clemency should you come to me in peace. It would be rude of me to harm honoured guests such as yourselves."

>In the thermal imaging, the figure extends their hand to the pair.

"Or I can come to you, Damian, Bella, the choice is yours."

>Apex scoffs.

"I'm really starting to dislike this one. . ."


File: 1712868070083.jpeg (121.72 KB, 960x640, Arachnid - 4.jpeg)

>Arachnid rolls his eyes behind his helmet as he states:

"You know what? Let them come here. They already know that we know this is a trap. So what's the point of springing it?"

>Immediately assuming a cautious defensive stance, Arachnid crouches down and places one hand on the ground. As his instinctual defensive stance, he starts honing his extra-sensory perception.

"I trust you've got an ace-in-the-hole for this guy? If not? We can improvise instead."


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"I won't be able to formulate anything until I've seen them in action, they know too much of me to reliably assume that they don't know what I typically have in store. So I'll need you to keep them distracted while I-."

>Before Apex can finish, the figure bursts through the wall of the warehouse, their movement aided by an explosive trail of flame behind them, and hovers in the air behind her.

"Time's up, children. You can choose fight or flight, no other options."


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>Speaking to Apex while staring down the unknown figure, Arachnid then shouts:

"Got you covered!"

>Holding out both of his gloved hands, Arachnid activates his silk shooter bracelets and fires a volley of dense silk adhesive. The volume of the silk is large enough to wrap around the figure, while Arachnid then fires some explosive vibro discs at the figure.

>The combination of the silk adhesive and the explosive discs should be enough to cause significant knockback to the figure as Arachnid turns back to Apex.

"Do what you've gotta do. I'll keep the tin can busy."

>Arachnid then fires a silk strand onto a nearby building and swings off - continuing to fire a combination of reinforced silk adhesives and explosive vibro discs.


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>The armoured figure takes the initial hit, falling slightly.

"Clever, boy."

>A hissing sound can be heard as something is released from the armour.

"But unfortunately for you, I'm smarter."

>The webbing unravels from the armour, allowing them to realign.

"I do appreciate that you consider me worthy enough to require a distraction though, so who am I to deny you?"

>The figure clenches their fist, sending out a wave of energy that knocks away the second volley of projectiles.

"Then, step one, let's try. . ."

>A set of small devices unfolds from the figure's back, flying away from them and towards Arachnid, who they attempt to surround before firing off a volley of energy beams.


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>Slightly cursing to himself, Arachnid then mutters under his breath:

"Figures they've got funnels…"

>Pointing his arms around himself, Arachnid remotely changes the pressurization settings for the nozzles on his silk shooter bracelets.

{"Haven't really tried this before, but the surface tension should work for this…"}

>Arachnid then sprays a customized film of dense and reinforced silk around his body - creating a near perfect sphere thanks to the configuration shift of his silk bracelet nozzles.

>After a second or two, he's created a powerful spherical cocoon to protect himself from the energy beams - barely getting himself protected in time.

>As the sphere is blown into the air, and now catches on fire, Arachnid then sprays a dissolving agent from his adjusted nozzles to disintegrate the silk. After doing so, he then extends out his arm and swings back towards the armored figure.

{"I can't keep doing that, it'll waste the silk cartridges I have left. I'm gonna need a new tactic to take this guy out."}

>Arachnid then lands on a nearby rooftop, making a goading gesture with his hands in an attempt to prove them to pursue him further.


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>The funnels hover in the air for a second, then return to the armoured figure. Who looks over at Arachnid's gesture.

"Hmm, I think not, I'd rather see what the brains of your operation has thought up."

>The figure gives Arachnid a dismissive gesture of their own, triggering the funnels to fly over in his direction again, and turns around, looking over the initial rooftop.

"Now, where is our little heiress. . . Ah. . . there we are. . ."

>With a burst of speed, the armoured humanoid moves in a straight line, smashing through several walls and reaching forward, flying up onto a rooftop with the familiar figure of Apex in their hand.

"Now, little girl, what amazing plan do you have to beat me."

>Apex struggles in their grip, her efforts proving fruitless.

"Nanomachines. . ."

>Apex's comment is repeated over the comms as the figure looks at her.

"What about nanomachines? I don't suppose you have any handily available."

"Not me, you. Your armor, it's made out of them, the same as those devices you placed across the city - and the same as your bomb at Archeon, I would imagine."

"Clever, but it does little to help you, you have nothing to disable them."


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>A voice then suddenly speaks from behind the armored figure, initially faint, but soon loud enough to hear clearly.

"Actually, she might."

>Arachnid's form then appears from above - having been cloaked prior.

>Diving down towards both Apex and the armored figure, Arachnid then winds back both of his fists, and then strikes the armored figure with enough strength to break Apex out of their grasp.

>As Arachnid rolls onto the floor, he quickly flips up onto his feet - landing on the floor of the rooftop with the same defensive stance as before.

"I figured that your funnels used thermal tracking in addition to electromagnetic scanning and sonar. So for once, I guess I found a use for this suit's low power stealth mode."

>Shaking his wrists quickly to shake off the pain of the strike, Arachnid then pulls a small black and white phone device from his jacket. As glowing red circuitry lights pulse across the shell of the device - Arachnid quickly tosses it at Apex.

"It's got a nanotech tuning function! Not sure if it'll help you scramble their armor, but it's worth a shot right?"

>Arachnid then turns his attention back to the armored figure, immediately attempting to web them up again with large and dense nets of silk adhesive.

"I doubt I can take you down in a hand-to-hand fight, as I don't think I'm strong enough for that - even in this suit. So instead, we'll go with the backup option! Sabotage!"


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>The figure's grip on Apex remains unbroken, despite the strength behind Arachnid's strike.

"Tenacium is a wonderful material, if you can get your hands on it, capable of resisting immense amounts of force. . ."

>Reacting quicker than Apex, the figure catches the device with their spare hand, crushing it effortlessly.

". . .and allowing mechanisms to exert similar amounts without any worries of them breaking from their own strain."

>The funnels fly over to the figure, docking back onto their back again, and their suit lets out another hiss as an aerosol is released from it, rendering the webbing ineffective.

"I wouldn't worry though. . ."

>The figure looks at Apex.

". . .I wasn't sent by Hoyokazi!"

>With an impressive pitching form, the figure throws Apex at Arachnid.


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>Arachnid catches Apex without effort, lowering her down with both hands as he jettisons another flurry of explosive vibro discs at the figure.

>The explosions caused are powerful enough to blast up chunks of the rooftop - leaving a gaping hole open as the smoke piles up.

"It should almost be here….."

>Inside of his helmet, Arachnid looks at the ETA figure for a certain vehicle en route to his position. The time says 30 seconds.

{"Damn, still might not be enough time. I've gotta get us some distance away from this guy so that she can finish her counter."}

>Turning towards Apex, Arachnid says:

"I can get us out of here in 30 seconds and fabricate another nano tuning device in about 2 minutes. Any ideas to keep this guy busy until then?"

>Arachnid starts dispensing everything from flash freezing capsules, to flashbangs and smoke capsules in his enemy's direction.

"Also, where the hell did he get Tenacium? I thought that stuff was a rumor at best!"


File: 1712950567469.png (817.93 KB, 999x1393, 40.png)

>Apex holds her side for a moment, looking at Arachnid.

"Arbror, the dictatorship in North Africa? They have large reserves of the metal, it's an open secret in the materials industry that they have an exclusivity contract with Hoyokazi for it - you should ask your 'boss' about it some time."

>Apex reaches to her belt, taking out the device and looking at it for a moment.

"Also, I need 15 seconds at most, give me one of your vibro discs, and be prepared to distract them."


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>Somewhat confused, Arachnid makes a quick flick gesture with his hand, causing a vibro disc to dispense from within a slot in his glove.

>As he hands the large metallic black and red weapon over to Apex, he then murmurs to himself:

"I hope you know what you're doing there…."

>Checking up on the ETA for the vehicle's arrival, Arachnid thinks to himself:

{"Good, it's accelerating. 15 seconds and it'll be here too."}

>In order to keep applying the pressure, Arachnid then holds out his gloved hands with his wrists aimed at the debris in front of him. Large metallic red discs are then fired out.

>The metallic discs, seemingly stronger versions of his standard vibro discs, immediately begin ionizing when in contact with the air - beginning to rapidly electrify and generate plasma.


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"I know exactly what I'm doing."

>The debris melts away from the plasma, revealing the figure is nowhere to be seen within it, only for them to appear behind Arachnid, seemingly from nowhere, and throw a punch at him, the strength of which is similar to what was used to crush the device earlier, before turning to Apex.

"You're hopelessly outmatched, girl, even if you win here today, this is just a preview of the escalation that will come from continuing your crusade against the Crimson Tide."

"Then I best be better prepared in the future."

>Apex's glove sparks, causing the vibro disc in her hand to explode, sending out a silent pulse that hits the figure dead on, causing their armour to disintegrate into a cloud on dust on contact, leaving only a head behind with no sign of any body within the armour.

>Please with her work, Apex drops to one knee for a moment, a new set of scarring present across the front of her own armour.


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>Sent tumbling backward, Arachnid then quickly flips up into place, groaning in pain as he does so.

"Ugh. Why do they always go for the back…."

>Rubbing his back, Arachnid slowly walks over to Apex and looks down at the metallic head on the floor beside her.

"…..So it was remote controlled? That's…actually kind of anti-climactic honestly."

>Looking back up at Apex, Arachnid then says:

"So if this guy's using Tenacium just because you're starting to get close to the Crimson Tide….I would say that you're doing a good job so far - right?"

>As Arachnid speaks, a shadow can now be seen cast over the both of them. Looking upward, Arachnid now sees the hovering shape of his aerial hypersonic flight vehicle - the Aurora.

"Took you long enough to get here. Sheesh."


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>The disembodied head begins laughing.

"Clever. Very clever. You're more than you seem, Bella Blake - after all, you didn't read that signal with any equipment."

>Apex picks herself up, taking out a gun from her belt and aiming at the head.

"Ah, no need to bother, I did my job, all I was paid to do was send a message, so I'll be leaving you now."

>The head joins the rest of the armour, disolving into a pile of dust, and Apex lowers the gun, looking at Arachnid.

"The Crimson Tide calling in outside help is a good sign, yes."


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>Arachnid blinks for a moment behind his helmet then crosses his arms.

"….I still think you were way over your head with this. Seriously."

>Muttering to himself, Arachnid then asks:

"Still, the fact that they know who we are is kind of a problem. I'd have to imagine that they're not far off from figuring out who my boss is too."

>Cracking his knuckles in frustration, Arachnid says:

"What good is a secret identity if it's seen through like an X-ray?"

>Giving one last exasperated sigh, Arachnid then looks up at the Aurora and asks Apex:

"…..So do you want a ride back or…."


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"That one was smart, smarter than the rest of the Crimson Tide, although it's a good lesson in needing more precautions around these things."

>Apex thinks for a moment.

"While it'd be best to keep an eye out for ourselves, I suspect our 'friend' here today didn't tell the others - too much leverage for them otherwise."

>Apex kneels down, gathering up some of the dust and placing it into another container.

"And no, I don't need one, I need to wrap up some things here first."


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>Somewhere across the city, in a Crimson Tide safehouse. . .

>The lights in the safehouse flicker as a complex machine sparks, returning to their full brightness as the machine powers down, the mass of cables present on it shifting as something occupying it moves.

>Across the room, a blonde man claps, and begins talking tot he machine.

"Well, that was a waste of time, I mean, all that money we paid you two and you didn't even manage to kill a pair of brats."

>The man sighs, shrugging.

"I didn't even get to flex my acting skills.

>Beside the machine, an older man looks across at the blonde, sizing him up for a moment before deciding against doing anything.

"Report it to him, then, but do make sure to remember that we provided you with a wide variety of new equipment - including the new anti-dampener resonators."

"If you say so, old man."

>The blonde leaves the room, leaving the man with the machine for a few moments before the wiring starts shifting again, eventually being shoved to the side with an uncertain strength, revealign the occupant of the machine, a woman with pink hair. Pulling several contact pads from her head, the woman tries to stand up, her legs immediately failing her as soon as she puts weight onto them.

>Sprawled out on the floor, the woman awkwardly reaches weakly over to a table across from her, her view being blocked by the man, who picks up something from the table and kneels down in front of the woman, placing a hand under her chin.

"I'm sure I don't need to remind you how much money is riding on this. So tell me, Hannah, my dear 'daughter', did you do what I told you to do?"

>The man looks down at the woman, a sternness in his eyes.

>The woman, Hannah's pupils dilate briefly, a remembered fear in her eyes, before she looks away the best she can for a moment, collecting herself, and weakly pulls her head off the man's hand, rolling over.

"I fought them, they were more of a challenge than I thought, that Apex has a trick up her sleeve that I wasn't able to find from the reports, if anyone let us down here, it was the Crimson Tide reports. . ."

>Hannah looks up at the man for a moment.

". . .I promise, that's all I know that I haven't said already."

>The man digests her response for a few seconds, then nods, standing up, and drops the item down next to Hannah - a pill bottle.

"That better be the truth, if you want to keep the privilege of walking."

>The man turns around and leaves the room, leaving Hannah alone. . .

[To be continued]

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