"Ugh, safe places require movement." Marceline groaned from the car hood she flopped over. Ron preoccupied himself with unloading the van. A cold sweat was building on his neck. He knew he had never been like this. He was taken far younger than these children. But he couldn't help but find similarities here. Torn from their parents, thrust into the hands of those who would only do them harm. A warm smile touched his lips and he reached out, taking an ogre child nearly as tall as himself down. "You're alright now." He said. Armor slid and retracted, leaving a short man in a puffy coat. "Nobody can hurt you with me." Cosmina couldn't keep still in her seat. She was too busy wiggling in delight, looking at Haruko with awestruck eyes. She had missed the action, but the explanation of what had happened was enough. Marceline was the direct opposite, her forehead on the table. Having lived through the action, it didn't thrill her quite as much. "I'm not going to complain." Ron muttered. He figured his host knew he wasn't invited at this point and he wasn't going to push it. "I am. I got bulletholes in my cranium and all because you didn't tell me to pack my battle stuff! And yes, there is still a bullet in my skull and now that it's healed it's just rattling around in there!" Marceline audibly rattled the more emphatically she moved.
After helping the kids, Vladimir went back with his team. Once the men finished their job they returned to the penthouse. The man sighed as he sat, so this wasn't over... but at least it could give him real action after so much time unactive.
I really don't get why we'll be mad at you sir - The man said with honest words - The intentions were good and we also succeeded... so you're welcome - He finished with a smile. He hoped to be able to work with this people in the future, everyone had great abilities and were extremely powerful.
Haruko assisted the children out of the van, narrowing her eyes slightly when she saw an assortment of Hidden World children among the human ones. Why were these gem people so interested in children, and why were they targeting Hidden World children as well? Considering the wide array of species on display here, their reach must be either long...or there is a community of various Hidden World denizens nearby. Regardless, she assisted in the evacuation and made sure the ex-wind mage was safe before joining the group back at the penthouse.
It seemed as if everyone besides Marceline was fine with Arthur's deception...but Haruko had been waiting all afternoon for this moment. She moved forward and planted her hands on the table. "Well I certainly have something to say! Your little trick there was completely unnecessary! How long have we known each other, Arthur? Did you really think I'd say no to helping children out?" She motioned toward Kate and Cosmina, the former putting a finger on her phone and launching colorful birds at an unstable structure. "Not to mention I wasn't expecting a battle, so I only packed a few knives, bandages, and stuff like that! So before we go any further..." Haruko narrowed her eyes at Arthur. "...I want to know why you didn't tell me the truth, because if this issue is bigger than it appears and you just put my children in danger by being here..." The seamstress's expression darkened further as she stared at Arthur from across the table. She was angry at Arthur for two main reasons; not trusting her enough to tell her the truth, and potentially putting her own children in danger.
Vlad's words were encouraging and supportive. Arthur hadn't expected it, but he was glad because Marceline and Haruko were ready to tear into him. While Loveline subtly bit her lip to avoid laughing at the rattling, Arthur spoke.
"Right, sorry about that. Our infirmary is very well stocked so I think we can remove that quickly and painlessly. As for your gear, while it might not be as perfectly tailored to your needs, I think we can find suitable replacements around the hotel. Pins, needles, and I think you mentioned peppers once? We can get it all for you."
But Haruko's chewing out was the worst. Arthur knew his reasoning wasn't good enough. Why did he ever think it was? Now it felt like he decided on it two years ago and he couldn't remember. But the important part was that he was now scared of her reaction. He hoped he wasn't about to lose a friend over this... He hung his head in shame, laughing nervously, and said,
"Um, I admit it's not that great a reason... I actually wanted you guys to get to relax and I figured you couldn't do that if you knew you were gonna end up fighting." He raised his head and looked at her apologetically. "I don't know what I was thinking, Ruko, I really regret it now. I'm very sorry. You should know though," his gaze turned into one of steely determination, "I would never let anything bad happen to your kids. Any kids, but those close to me especially. Trust me, this hotel is the safest place in a 200 km radius. We have magical barriers all around the place, my security force is composed of mages from Kryyn a lot of which rival or surpass me, and the "basement" of this building is more like an impregnable bunker. Ten times the magic and physical protection that looks like a series of movie theatres and game rooms. Please, trust me on this."
Arthur then waited a bit to let everyone settle down and voice their complaints. "I also owe you an explanation of the plan for tomorrow." Arthur picked up a flag and some figures and placed them on the map from before. They were placed around the same place, some sort of large warehouse not too far from the town. "This is the warehouse the gang is using as their hideout. The convoy we interrupted it just a fraction of their true number. Most of their troops are barely enhanced gun users like the ones we faced earlier. They also have some actually powered individuals. The powers we've observed include telekinesis, what appears to be living armor, a spellsword, and now we have confirmation they have elementals possessing people. We're gonna enter at these two points." He pointed at the pieces colored differently than the others. "We're gonna have backup in the form of my security force, but I still trust your abilities are gonna be more useful. Including you new guys," Arthur looked at Vlad and Ron, "you've shown you're quite capable. So, do you need any more clarification?"
“Alright, alright, I forgive you. Peppers? Not bad. You won’t have the really hot ones I use, but just some jalapenos will do.” Marceline grumbled. “You can send the stuff to my room. I need to shower and sleep before we do any more pedo hunts.”
“Don’t worry mom, we were super safe! On top of the defenses Arthur made, Kate and I can hold a hallway for hours!” Cosmina tapped her horns. “Kate can upgrade my horns and boom! Nobody can get past us!”
Ron stiffened when he was directly addressed. “W-well yeah, of course! Don’t underestimate me!” He managed a shaky grin. It seemed he had been accepted. He would take it. It was better than getting kicked out and fighting Abital again. He couldn’t stop thinking about the children in the back of the van.
They were older than he was when he was taken. That didn’t make it better. If anything, it was worse. At least he had no family to regret losing. Ron’s fingers clenched, driving his fingernails into his palm until it bled. The wound healed in moments, but he still felt the pain. “I’m all in. Don’t you dare leave me behind tomorrow.” Ron pointed aggressively at Arthur.
The sudden burst of complains madr the ex-paladin a bit uncomfortable, not sure where to hide until the wrath of both Marceline and Haruko calmed down. Never anger a mother, that was the most important thing he learned.
During Elatha's pregnancy the one that didn't stopped teasing her was Jeremy, their childhood friend. He wouldn't stop annoying her at the point she sent him with a single punch towards the beach during the last weeks of pregnancy... remembering her short temper during that phase made his spine chill. Of course... if he were in the same situation as Haruko, he'll get mad too...
Listening to the plan, the man already began to think how to move, which spells use... everything. Of course, better said than done.
Vladimir nodded at Arthur's words - I've been out of action for a long time... it feels nice to be back - He smiled at the group - Everyone is so skillfull it even affects my self steem - He chuckled a bit embarrassed.
While Arthur gave his seemingly heartfelt apology...Haruko looked at him with cold seriousness in her eyes. Could someone like Arthur, her longtime friend and CEO of a bloody company, have really been this stupid? The thought that Arthur was being blackmailed crossed Haruko’s mind, him working with the kidnappers to lull them into a false sense of security. And when they were away...the hotel would be attacked. Would Arthur truly go along with a plan that vile, going against his goddess?
Marceline appeared to already forgive Arthur, and Cosmina was trying to reassure her that they could ‘hold a hallway for hours’. The seamstress tilted her head slightly at the idea...then gave a small smile at their ingenuity. Kate’s upgrading abilities could make Cosmina’s horns into a sonic turret...but that might be too much for Cosmina’s horns and could wind up hurting her.
“...Arthur.” The seamstress began. It was clear when she was mad at him, as she didn’t use the ‘Frosty’ nickname she always called him. “I find it incredibly difficult to believe you were that either stupid, careless, or both. I have a strong urge to put my kids on the nearest teleport station back to my home.” She said, eyes still locked upon the frost mage.
Looking up from her phone, Kate interjected. “You really don’t have to, mom. It’s cool. We have our cell phones if the gremlin or I see anything.” She said, looking at her little sister. Haruko stared at Kate a few seconds as she processed this. So she was the only one who thought this place was unsafe? This situation annoyed Haruko greatly. Perhaps she should trust Arthur one more time before writing this entire escapade off as something more devious.
“...ok. You both can stay for now. As long as I get a guarantee from Arthur here that this hotel is going to be safer than Fort Knox. I hope I am making myself clear.” She said coldly toward Arthur. “I will go along with your plan, of course. Just let me know in advance so I can prepare a little more. And one last thing…” She looked at Arthur one last time, holding her hand out toward him.
“No more lying, no more tricks. If you don’t trust me as a friend, I need to know that now. Are we on the same page, I hope?” Haruko asked the frost mage. She needed absolute certainty this wouldn’t happen again.
Haruko's eyes were scary, but Arthur understood where she was coming from. He tried to combine pleasure and business for everyone and from her perspective put her kids in danger. Although he was confident and knowledgeable enough about the resort to believe that the kids were going to be just fine. Actually, speaking of trust, Arthur wished she also trusted him to keep all the guests at his hotel safe. Especially the kids.
"Haruko, you can bring down this entire building and the shelter won't even feel the tremors. Fort Knox has got nothing on this little haven." He reached out and grabbed her hand firmly. "No tricks next time, yeah. I promise." They shook on it.
Marceline and Ron had no more complaints. Vlad also seemed to be content, even if he was a little frightened by Haruko.
"Heh, don't worry, Vlad. You handled yourself well out there; you're clearly not that rusty. I'm glad to have you on board."
Since no one seemed to have any more questions, Arthur got up and clasped his hands.
"I think that's all for now. It's pretty late and you guys should rest up for tomorrow. Marceline, I'll take you to all the places you need to go to get your equipment. It'll be a big day and you guys need to be in tip-top shape. If you have any questions before we wrap up, speak now."
The morning was young. The hotel was rousing from its sleep. The guests were just about getting up at this point. The skeleton crew handling the hotel's night-shift had recently gone to bed. The proper staff had all risen, Jenifer among them. The break she was given to rest from the plane ride did not excuse her from waking up early for the preparations. With the chefs busy preparing food, the rest of the kitchen staff had to assist them while also getting the dining hall ready for breakfast. Jenifer was sent to the stockroom to bring over some ingredients.
Elsewhere in the hotel, Loveline and Hazel were sleeping together in a queen-sized bed, their light breathing lightly reverberating through the penthouse as the only sounds aside from the clattering of a keyboard. Arthur hadn't slept a wink all night, using his mana to keep his energy stores topped up without needing to sleep. He kept shifting his attention from working on Goodknight documentation that required the attention of his position to checking and double-checking all the details of the plan. Suddenly the visitor alert went off. Who could it be at this early in the morning?
It was Alma, Arthur's secretary.
"Sir, we have a problem."
She lead him to his window overlooking the vast snowy field between the hotel and the town.
"Oh, crap..." Arthur watched a large swarm of small black dots slowly approaching the hotel with military vehicles in tow. They were moving forward slowly, but they were making steady progress toward the hotel. "We need to-"
"The emergency procedures are underway, sir." Alma interrupted him. The security force was already gathering all the guests and the staff for a super secret surprise movie pre-premier being held in the movie theatres below the hotel. Arthur pulled some strings with a Hollywood director to secure copies just for a situation like this. The security composed of mages with various elemental affinities were instructed to invite all the guests down to the event and were allowed to use suggestion magic to ensure their participation if it was necessary. The main objectives were protecting the guests and ensuring the hidden world remains hidden.
"Heh, I guess I picked the right staff. Great initiative. Now we need to gather up my special guests and deal with these guys. If nothing else, this should make out assault on HQ a lot easier. God, I hope Haruko trusts me enough not to kill me..." Arthur went over to wake up his daughters. They had to go down to the shelter, too.
Vlad, Marceline, and Ron were all woken up or disturbed by loud, rapid knocking on their door. Outside were suited people waiting to tell them they should get ready for a fight and meet up in the lobby. The same happened with Haruko, except waiting in front of her door were Arthur and the girls. As for Jenifer, due to her late arrival and an early bedtime for a staff member, she accidentally managed to avoid getting tagged by a magic tracker. That meant that while security rounded up all of her colleagues, they managed to miss her in the stock room. The sudden desertedness would surely be a shock to her.
Ron was awake long before the knocking came on his door. His sleep was poor, marred by dreams of children in chains. An hour earlier, he had woken up in frustration and gone down to the gym. Physical exercises occupied his body and mind until those sent to fetch him thought to search the gym. Sweaty and surly, he followed with a towel wrapped around his shoulders.
Marceline was also awake, as she always was. Pulpy romance was stowed swiftly under her pillow before she got up to answer the door. She took a moment to gather up her gear in her various pockets before she followed them down to the lobby. “What’s going on? What did Arthur do this time?” She sighed, fiddling with a clothing pin.
Like her older sister, Cosmina was thoroughly awake and active, sewing herself a self-warming skiing outfit while watching the most recent Gundam. “Raise your flaaag, dah dah dahhhhh!” She softly sang along to the theme song until a knock came at the door. Instantly she paused her ipad and ran to peer out the door’s peep-hole, confirming it was Arthur. She ran to shake Kate and Haruko awake. “Moooooom, Arthur’s at the dooooor! Should I let him in?”
Jenifer whistled while she worked, packing away boxes of hamburger meat and lettuce. She barely felt the refrigerator’s chill; a perk of being an ice mage. The menu she had memorized flashed through her brain. She had the feeling she got while preparing for an exam. This was a day she had to prove her skills. She emerged from the stockroom ready to cook, only to find it empty.
Vladimir woke up immediatly, startled by the panicked sound of the people outside, something bad was happening. With a quick spell he was now in his classic black suit, white shirt and black tie, on top of that his brown trenchcoat. Teleporting in the lobby, he waited for everyone. He was a bit too nervous already to even sit, he should take some medicine before leaving his room so it'll keep him a bit.. less worried. But if he left at least for a mere second he was sure his team would be in the lobby in no time, he didn't want to look like if he took it easy... Maybe after Mr. Cromwell's explanation of what its happening, he'll teleport back to his room to take a pill.
The reassurances didn't do much to ease Haruko's concerns...but it was time to move on. She let go of Arthur's hand and leaned back in her chair, listening to the rest of his speech with suspicion still in her eyes. There was still a sense of doubt that Arthur was being totally truthful with her. Kate didn't care much for what was going on and continued to play the game on her phone. Once it was all done, Haruko led everyone out the door and to their room. She plopped down onto the couch and turned on the TV to a late-night talk show, leaning back into the cushion and taking in the mindless entertainment.
How could he be this irresponsible…? Haruko thought to herself. Normally he’s one of the most responsible people I know...he owns a company this large for crying out loud! Nothing made sense! Letting out a quiet sigh, Haruko looked over to see Cosmina watching a show on her Ipad, while Kate was tapping away on her phone. Why did they not care about this like she did…? Obviously they were still immature and didn’t know the gravity of the situation...right? Putting these thoughts aside, she turned back to the TV…
...and suddenly was shaken awake by Cosmina and the door knocking. “...huh…” The seamstress asked in confusion. She had apparently fallen asleep on the couch. But no, cold dread woke her up better than a cold shower. “Yes, thank you Cosmina. Let’s see what he wants…” Walking over to the door, Haruko took a deep breath and opened it.
“Hello…? I take it this is important, considering what time it is?” She asked while squinting her eyes slightly. Kate groggily woke up from her room, stumbling into the main room and weakly waving her arms to try and hit Cosmina against a wall.
“Unfortunately, it seems I’m about the prove to you just how good my security is,” Arthur told her before explaining the situation. “We should meet with the others now. Love and Hazel will take Cos and Katie down to the safest place on Earth.” He stated. This news immediately jolted Haruko more awake than she was before. It was exactly as she feared. “...and just how big of a threat are we dealing with…?” She asked, her voice clearly showing signs of anger.
“A lot of guys with guns,” Arthur said. “Some armored vehicles. But we have a lot of powered people on our side. I’m confident the girls will be perfectly safe..” This statement by Arthur didn’t inspire much confidence within Haruko. “So you’re saying we have essentially a paramilitary invasion going on. Wonderful. You know Arthur, when this is done, I am sending these two back through the teleporter. You evidently underestimated this entire situation.” She coldly said, pushing her way through the door and joining the others in the lobby.
It wasn't that Arthur underestimated the situation, it's that his worst estimates were happening and now he really wished the weren't. The Cromwells and the Miyatas went down to the bottom floor together before the kids separated, led by Loveline to the underground entrance. When Haruko and Arthur arrived in the lobby, everyone else was already waiting.
"Alright, guys." Arthur clapped his hands together to draw their attention. "I've got bad news and not so bad news. The bad news is there's a large number of baddies coming for the resort. The not so bad news is that, if you look through the glass..." he gestured at the door where they could see squads of suited men and women standing in formation, "... we're ready for them."
Almost just as he finished saying that, demands from outside reached the hotel, magnified and slightly distorted by a megaphone.
"Those of you responsible for last night's provocation, come out now! If you don't, we're bringing this whole building down on top of you and not even your fancy suits won't save you!"
"I guess those would be our unwanted guests. Let's go say hi. Remember, no one will look down on you if you throw the first punch, so if you feel a sudden urge to crush some skulls, we got your back."
Arthur lead his merry band out past their forces until they could see the enemy forces quite clearly. The sea of armed men pointed their rifles at them almost instantly. The missile-carrying vehicles didn't budge, their weaponry remained trained on the resort itself. And in front of the massive opposition were what appeared to be their leaders. On the far left was someone wearing a high-tech armor, red and black with a sleek design reminiscent of a knight's armor. On the far right was another person with a gem stuck in them, a muddy green in appearance with roots tattooed around it. At least he was sensibly dressed for the weather, not counting the low-cut shirt and unzipped winter jacket showing off the elemental gem. And between them was the man holding the megaphone. He wore a lot of leather, covered by large pieces of armor lined with fur to keep him warm. The cuirass, greaves, and gauntlets were covered in various mystical patterns and symbols. The same was true for the wicked-looking sword resting at his hip.
Seeing the group, the spellsword tossed away his megaphone and it lodged itself in the thick snow. His gold eyes scanned the group before he burst out laughing. "You're the guys who took our kids? Half of you are barely even older than them! You almost make me think selling you off would be better than killing you. Almost. Now say your last words and receive your punishment." --- The protections of the underground prevented all sound from reaching the guests who were happily lining up for a pre-premiere viewing of "Atem, the last pharaoh". They did not stop those who were still topside from hearing it. Mainly, it didn't stop Jenifer from hearing it. Before any feeling or any mix of feelings managed to overtake her, Jenifer's heightened senses meant she could hear nearby glass shattering.
"Looks like the bosses' threat got their attention. Now let's see if we can find those kids before the hotel is destroyed."
"Hope we find them. If boss Thompson doesn't get back his moneymakers, we're gonna be buried under the rubble too." --- Not too far away, Loveline came to a sudden stop. Sort of. While she stopped, another her kept moving forward, alongside another Hazel, Cosmina and Katie.
"Okay gals, I made us invisible so we can have a chat. If our parents think this is so dangerous, do you really think it's fair that we go where it's safe and leave them to fight on their own? You said it yourself, Cos. We can handle ourselves so we can probably help them out too. You up for it?"
Ron began to armor up as soon as Arthur mentioned enemies, alabaster plates sliding from his skin and sealing over his clothing. Marceline groaned and gripped the candlestick she had chosen as a weapon. “Great. I’m going to die defending a hotel.” She sighed. “At least I’ll bash in some pedo skulls on my way down.”
Both looked over the small armies, their own and the one opposed to them. Under his helmet, Ron was beaming. Group fights were where he shone. An army at his own back made him feel strong. Marceline on the other hand gasped when she saw what they were up against. She didn’t care if they had their own army, these guys had missiles! What sort of organization were they dealing with here!? While she was thinking about what a missile would do to her, Ron’s engines were gunning. “Oh, Arthur, that’s how warfare works. You always strike first!” He blasted forth from the ranks, shooting across the snow with the intent of tackling the figure in futuristic armor and plowing them right into the army behind them. “Crazy bastard.” Marceline grumbled from far behind. She wasn’t jumping into the fight until she had some cover from those damn guns.
“What!? Are you… I mean, Love, I… you know…” Cosmina suddenly realized the consequences of her earlier bravado. When actually confronted with the possibility of danger, there was no way to back out. Well, not many. “We can’t! Kate doesn’t have any powers that are good for fighting.”
Jenifer scratched her head. Was this a weird dream or something? Instinctively, she ducked when she heard glass shattering not far away. None of the words that followed sounded good at all. “Kids” and “moneymakers” should never be the same thing. She glanced at the knife block. Cautiously she pulled the biggest knife she could find from the block and crept towards the door. Should she do something? All she had to go on were a few out of context sentences, but if everybody had vanished and they broke in, things seemed to be bad.
Vladimir sighed, it seemed there wasn't time to take a pill to calm down his anxiety.
Following his host, the only thing that worried him was that now he wanted to punch the idiot with the megaphone. What a disgusting human... nah, even if he actually was of said species he didn't had the right to be called like that.
A prideful driaochta follows part of the celtic culture. One of them was that men and women were equals... Taking his spear the man pointed at the other, eyes fixed on the enemy like in the old times when the Blasket islands fought before being part of the Kingdom.
Those who harm children will be judged by the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of the Driaochta Kingdom... - It was the first time he spoke his homeland outloud. Maybe no one knows about it, but the message was going to be clear - In name of King Uaithne, you shall pay for your crimes
The ex-paladin's voice was firm, despite of his attire anyone who glanced at him could tell he was a warrior, a soldier of a Hidden Kingdom.
When the massive amount of people laid out before them was shown, Haruko’s eyes widened in rage. “Are...you kidding me?!” She asked in frustration. “This isn’t just some kidnapper ring, this is full-on paramilitary! Who knows how many of them have Hidden World powers! And even if most don’t, those are ROCKET LAUNCHERS!” Haruko said in disbelief. The sheer absurdity of the situation was letting a certain deranged part of herself bubble closer to the surface.
Stepping forward toward the makeshift army, Haruko turned back toward Arthur, ignoring Ron’s dumb charge. “Arthur, I’m letting the idiot out. Just make sure to knock me out if she’s still around at the end, alright?” And with that, Haruko’s body became engulfed in a flash of light.
Her body quickly grew to a tall, slender figure that seemed to tower over her earlier short stature. Long silver hair extended out to her knees, followed by a short red and black checkered skirt with a matching black vest-like shirt on top, adorned with deep red trim. Two detached sleeved appeared on her arms, and a small black headset on top of her head. A vile aura seemed to radiate out of the space before them...with a cackling laugh emitting from inside.
“Heh heh he...ahahahahahahaha!” The figure laughed in a slightly deeper voice compared to Haruko. “So THIS shit is why I’m called out?” She asked, flicking a large silver knife out of her sleeve and pointing toward the small army. “Just some fucks with guns?! Oh, wait. Hoooooold the phone.” Yamiko feigned scanning the horizon with her hand above her eyes. “We got an exhibitionist with a hunter fetish, a Renaissance fair reject, and Tony Shart over there with a gem in his chest!” She exclaimed.
Letting out a disappointed sigh, Yamiko turned to Arthur and pointed her knife at him. “Sounds like you had a falling out with Pinkie, huh? Well, thanks for being a dumbass I guess! She didn’t even try to prevent me from coming out!” She said with glee. Her eyes then narrowed. “And for that...I guess I won’t carve your face off with a knife...yet. Him on the other hand…” Her gaze fell upon the man with the gem in his chest. “...I’m going to find somewhere else to shove that gem. A hole he doesn’t even have yet. Bye for now, shitheads!” And with that, Yamiko took off toward the sky and kicked off the air, shooting with a strange gracefulness toward the man with the gem.
As she advanced, Yamiko flicked out another knife in her other hand and began to slash at the necks of everyone she passed over. When she got near the man with the gem in his chest, Yamiko ginned wide at him. “Hiiiiiiii! Did you bring all these fans for me? Aaaaaaaaaw...you shouldn’t have…” Diving forward, the deranged idol attempted to drive her right hand knife directly into his throat. “...I don’t do surprise fan meetups, jackass. So how about we see how many holes I can shove this lovely little gem into, hm?” She asked, a sadistic smile plastered across her face. ---
Kate stopped when Loveline did and folded her arms, listening to her explain her plan. She then shot a glare at Cosmina when she suggested she would be the reason they shouldn’t jump into this situation. “Hey! Don’t use me as a scapegoat, you coward!” Kate shot back at her sister. Why was Cosmina always this dumb? She acts all tough, but cowers at the slightest hint of conflict!
Turning back to Loveline, Kate rolled her eyes. “Anyway, that still sounds pretty stupid. Aren’t these guys after kids? And you two are kids to the kid who runs this place!” She exclaimed. “If they nab you two, your dad’s going to be in some shit. And I know my mom’s already pissed at this whole thing.” She stated, remembering how Haruko looked at that meeting. Was Loveline really this sheltered that she thought just walking outside to ‘help out’ would be a good idea?
Arthur was glad Haruko still wanted him to be the one keeping Yamiko in check. It meant he still wasn't completely in the dog house. "You got it."
Haruko ended up transforming, flying up and diving at the gem guy. Her knife struck his raised arm and she pushed him into the crowd of gangsters. The same thing happened with Ron who tangled with the armor. Both conflicts smashed through a lot of the regular gangsters, tossing them around, knocking them over or even burying them in the snow.
The gem man responded to Yamiko taunts and threats by raising his other arm. "Mother Earth is more familiar holes than you could ever hope to introduce to me. Allow me to give you a lesson." He fanned his fingers and large wood roots shot out of the snow around them. The man apparently didn't care about his allies, the roots knocked over even more of the gangsters. He balled his fingers into a fist and huge spike-like thorns grew on the roots which tried wrapping themselves around Yamiko before pulling her underground.
The armor Ron plowed braced itself. Small jets of flame spurted from its back, it was using its jetpack to counteract the force of Ron's push and slow down. It tried to grab Ron's insectoid armor around the waist and then, with a movement that would be physically impossible to perform without breaking a human's spine, bent its body backward in a suplex to headplant the nanomachine user into the snow.
While this was going on, Arthur, Vlad, and Marceline watched the growing battle. The suited mages of the security force also rushed in after Ron and Yamiko. They were outnumbered, but their physical prowess was more than enough to even out the playing field. Arthur looked at the two people remaining at his side. "What's wrong guys? Hesitant to jump in?" Arthur asked. "I suppose it's not fair of me to ask you to fight if I don't go in myself." He smirked while cracking his knuckled. But the smirk faded when the weapon ordinance started training its rockets on the hotel. "Hm, I guess I can't really do that now. I'm gonna have to deal with any incoming rockets. The hotel should be able to withstand them, but I've invested too much in it to risk it. Let me give you a hand though."
All across the battlefield small piles of snow started spiraling before ice spikes popped out of them. They added to the chaos of the battlefield and thinned the numbers somewhat, but they were also big enough to provide the cover Marceline desired.
On the enemy's side, the spellsword observed the ensuing battle and nodded with a growing grin. "Alright, you're stronger than you look. Well, I guess I have to start the punishment somewhere. Who will it be..." He started moving his finger between the three remaining people as if he was using a nursery rhyme to decided who to attack first. "You," he said when his finger stopped.
He was pointing at Vlad. The spellsword pulled out his sword and closed his eyes. The blade glowed with a strange light as he chanted something. The symbols on his armor seemed to dance and a magic circle appeared below him. His eyes suddenly shot open and he shot forward without a warning, coming straight at Vlad. He swung vertically, aiming to cleave the paladin straight in two. - Loveline's idea didn't go over well with Cosmina and Kate. Even Hazel chipped in while nervously pressing her pointer fingers together. "Yeah, Haruko already hates dad... We shouldn't make it any worse..."
Loveline bowed her head in defeat. "Alright," she said with pouted lips. "I guess we'll go down... Unless you change your minds." She looked hopefully at them before actually giving up. "Fine..."
As she led them through the hallways, they heard the sound of glass shattering. Loveline and Hazel stopped. They listened intently for a bit, then looked at each other and shook their heads. "I think I'll keep us invisible for a bit longer," Love said quietly. - The door to kitchen opened slowly and the two men walked in, rifles strapped across their kevlar-clad shoulders. They walked past Jenifer; she was obscured by the door. "Wheew," one of them whistled at the sight of the kitchen. "I could really go for a bite right now. Ya think the boss would mind if we took a break?"
"Yes." The other answered bluntly.
"Pfft, spoilsport. I guess we can come back and loot this place afterward. If it's still standing."
Ron felt his body slowly decelerating, pushing through less and less space per second. Soon his rockets were firing full force for no forwards movement at all. “So you’ve got some jets on you too? Well mine are-” Ron’s own momentum helped the armored enemy suplex him with spine-shaking strength into the dirt. Snow rained over his body as he dizzily grinned.
“I still got this.” His nanobots had spread into the crowd, allowing his swarm powers. He only had subtle control over each individual, but it was multiplied by the sheer masses around him. Panic. He commanded, driving for them to flee. Some would, some wouldn’t, but if he was lucky, he would create a stampede. Now to deal with his enemy. His wings swung out to chop at the arms holding him tight, and if that didn’t work, his knees came swinging for his chest, trying to batter his way free.
“Yeah, I’ve been shot enough recently.” Marceline grumbled as the ice walls went up. “Now that’s more like it.” She held out her candlestick and a yellow ripple went out over it, her ki, developed at last. Using the ice spires as cover, she rushed forward and began smashing skulls.
“Oh, Haruko doesn’t hate your dad. In fact, I was thinking, we should try to get them-” Cosmina’s lips were suddenly sealed by the noise of breaking glass. Her eyes widened and her horns visibly drooped. She immediately began clicking, searching for anybody entering their hallway. It was inaudible to anybody without superhuman hearing, so she should go undetected.
Jenifer’s body shook. Goosebumps prickled her skin as the armed men entered her kitchen. These weren’t just some robbers, they were straight up mercenaries! I should just let them pass. Hide here. Let this all blow over. This isn’t my job. She nodded to herself, pulling back into the safety of the doorway. She squeezed her eyes shut tight and tried to disappear into the scenery. But something wouldn’t leave her. They said something about children. Her shut eyes screwed up in anger. Her lip pulled up in a vicious sneer and her muscles tensed.
If it was just some valuables at risk, she would let them have their fun and clean up after, no skin off her back. But if there was the slightest risk of them harming children, she couldn’t let them go on. She sprang forward, stabbing out at one of the men’s backs. It wasn’t a lethal stab, at least not immediately. She couldn't bring herself to make a lethal strike, even with her hair standing on end and her blood pumping. “Stop! Up against the wall or I’ll stab him again!” She yelled at the man she didn’t attack, brandishing her knife as threateningly as she could.
Vladimir just opened his eyes when he saw Haruko transforming... SO SHE WAS A DANGEROUS PETIT! The shorter you are, the better bottled is the evil. Of course, he took the chance to distract himself from the girl with Arthur's words.
Not really... I'm just a bit anxious... To shove that stupid megaphone inside that idiot's troat - He said with his voice sounding a bit deeper. Seriously? They had to do all this to kiddnap and sell innocent children from the Hidden World? He thought for an instant, if one of those children were the Prince or his nephew, there would be no one alive to ever dare to try such a thing.
As the other moved, the first thing to do was to teleport behind him. Summoning his spear, the man charget the tip of it with electricity. That asshole will know the power of a Thunderstorm! Taking a few steps behind the ex-paladin attacked again, moving his spear with one hand aiming towards the articulations of the other. With his free hand he began to chant pentagrams to trap the armored man.
The man’s response unleashed a loud cackle from Yamiko’s mouth. “Wahahahahahaha! You morons make this too easy for m…” Her joy was interrupted when she saw the roots beginning to form, growing thorns along the outside. Her toothy smile grew wider at the sight of them.
“Oooooh...going straight to showing me your wood, huh?” Yamiko shot at him, waving her right hand and summoning semicircular deep red barrier to block most of the roots, but one managed to slip through and wrap around her ankle, piercing it with its thorns and pulling the sadistic idol toward the ground.
However...she never reached it. The root held nothing but a small cloud of fog that dissipated into the surroundings, Yamiko’s cackling laugh echoing through it. “My my my...aren’t we the forceful one?” From inside the fog, one of the mercenaries had their throat slashed and pushed down into the ground while they gurgled for air. “Now...what do to with you...sparkle man…” Yamiko asked out loud. Her voice appeared to be coming from all directions.
Suddenly, Yamiko’s hand materialized from out of the fog and lashed out with a knife, aiming to drive it directly into the man’s chest, right below the gem. “This seems important, so it’s now mine. Or…” If successful, Yamiko would bend her knife to try popping out the gem. “...maybe I can just shove it up your ass? That sounds fun!” The wide smile could be seen once more. If her stab failed, Yamiko would try to drive her knife directly into his windpipe.
“I don’t know about that, Cos.” Kate muttered. Haruko might actually hate Arthur at this point. When they heard glass cracking, Kate cocked her head and made gestures that were supposed to convey ‘what the heck’, her face accompanying it. Letting out a sigh, Kate patted Cosmina’s shoulder. “Calm down you nerd, we’re going to be fine. And just to make sure…”
Flicking her other hand upward, Kate tapped Cosmina’s horns and began to channel her mana into them. This would begin the upgrade process, increasing the range Cosmina can see and, more importantly, would supercharge her sonic attacks should the need arise. “Love, you’re the illusion person here. Go see what’s going on. If it’s those jerks...well, let’s just say Cos here can clear a hallway soon.” Kate said with a sinister grin.
Before the man could strike him, Vlad disappeared. Hearing a crackling sound behind him, the spellsword moved to the right, but just a bit too slowly. It struck his side and the electricity stunned him until Vlad pulled it out for more attacks. The man didn't stick around to see what else Vlad had in store for him. He avoided the follow-up stabs by moving incredibly fast in a straight line, even leaving behind afterimages. He turned around to see Vlad drawing shapes in the air with his free hand.
"Not bad, gramps. But like hell I'll allow that!" The man chanted six circles into existence around him, a blade of light sticking out of each one. As soon as they appeared, the blades left their circles and flew towards Vlad like homing missiles. --- The begemmed man's roots were so close, but missed when the woman turned into a cloud of fog. "Blessed by the fog and you still offend nature. Disgusting." He cocked his ears to find her in the curtain of water, but he couldn't. As if she was one with it. Suddenly she appeared, stabbing right under his gem.
"Urgh," he grunted. It hurt, but she opened herself to attack like that. He grabbed for her wrist while more roots popped out of the ground around her and tried to squeeze her to death. The man's own grip, if he'd succeeded at grabbing her wrist, would tighten to try and crush it with all the might of an ancient oak behind it. --- Marceline charged into the fray. She hopped in and out of the cover Artur provided and unintended cover made by the mages' attacks in the skirmish. Once she reached the enemy, she started cracking skulls. Seeing their efforts to shoot her made moot by the plentiful hiding spots, some of the enemies took an opportunity while she was smashing the hell out of one of their own to attack her from close range. Two men came in with electrified batons and swung at her from either side. A third man used the chaos to get behind her and tried to stab her with a large knife. --- Ron's nanobots spread through the crowd indiscriminately. Friend. Foe. They contaminated everything and Ron's simple order spread panic in a circle around him. The mages' panic caused lava, metal, snow, and even lighting to cascade randomly around them, a bolt of lightning even struck the living tech armor, stunning it for a second. This gave Ron an opportunity to slice with his wing although it merely scraped the armor. The proceeding knee strike knocked the armor away into one of the new metallic pillars. Unfortunately for Ron, the mages weren't the only panicking ones. The gang tossed grenades around randomly and a few even fell around Ron's feet. While Ron reacted, the mages and the gangsters started fleeing in a blind panic, leaving him and the armor in what could best be described as an arena just for them. --- Arthur watched from a distance as his soldiers and enemy fled from Ron and the armor. He couldn't understand why. They were competent enough not to have to flee from a fight like that. Unless one of them was doing a suicide explosion or something, but that didn't appear to be the case. Whatever, he thought. That was an investigation for another time. He had to focus on shooting down missiles. Explosions littered the sky like it was the 4th of July in America.
"Making a nice light show there, Arty."
"Not now, teach. Why don't you give those old bones of yours a workout and join the fight."
"Oh, I'm actually here to take over for you," Valery said, fingergunning at a flying missile and exploding it. "Apparently some of them got inside and-"
"They're inside!? Shit! Have the back-up forces move against them. I'm going to assist them." Arthur darted off into the resort. --- Inside the resort itself, Katie suggested Loveline go check the source of the noise. "Right. Just make sure you don't move from here. I can't keep you invisible if I don't know where you are."
"I'm coming with you," Hazel said, grabbing Love's hand. While Loveline knew that she should tell her no and be a brave older sister, she also knew Hazel was far stronger than herself.
"Okay, sis. Stay close and stay quiet. Let's move."
The duo moved further down the hallway, eventually turning the corner. Katie and Cosmina could hear a muffled "What the-" coming from around the corner before a man in military gear came flying into view. He landed on the carpeted floor with an umpf and raised a rifle at what appeared to be an empty hallway he came flying out of.
"Who the fuck is there? Show yourself or I'll spray the whole place with lead!" --- Jennifer successfully snuck behind one of the men and stabbed him. He let out a bloodcurdling scream which caused the other man to swing around instantly, grabbing his rifle off his shoulder as he did so. He saw his colleague, a long-haired woman's arm around him while with the other she held a bloody knife.
“Stop! Up against the wall or I’ll stab him again!” she demanded, but the man just raised his rifle and tried to aim for her head.
"Fuck, Jacque! Put the rifle down! Put it the fuck down, please!" The wounded man's demands fell on deaf ears.