S M The boys (and girl) are back in town.

Sigmund Vrell

Cosmic Brain
Level 3
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Sigmund was, at first, pleased with how his day was going. He had taken Sutor to be nothing more than Victor and Suwako driving the same body, but he had clearly misunderstood fusion on a fundamental level. A chance to guide the amalgam in a more righteous direction than either of her constituents wasn’t one that the cultist was going to turn down, even if he suspected that her offer to talk faith was simply to sweeten the deal. However, his enthusiasm was quickly quashed when he took a few steps out into their new world.

“Gods…” he gasped, raising the Manic Codex over his head as a makeshift sunshade. The high priest peeked out from under the cover of his impromptu parasol, looking up at the ball of furious light in the sky. “And I thought the Abyss was bad…”

“You alright, high priest?” Agate asked, the crippled scout dangling over Amethyst’s shoulder. The muscular woman let out a little sound of concern as she glanced down at the scion.

“He’s right, you look like you’ve never seen the sun before.”

“Don’t be absurd.” Sigmund replied. “I’ve seen the sun… hrmm... half-a-dozen times?”

“That’s more times than me.” Opal groaned, crouched in the shadow of the ship. They had the hood of their robes pulled over their head, attempting to hide within the deep cowl. “I hate the sun. It’s a big stupid ball of gas and it thinks it’s better than me.”

“Nice city though.” Amethyst noted, letting out a little whistle as she gazed up at the towering walls. “You going to come see it willingly, or do I have to carry you too?”

“Amy, they’re not going to respond to that.” Agate said quietly before craning his neck over at the shaman. “Opal, I didn’t realise you were going to let a little celestial body make you its bitch.”

The masked cultist grumbled quietly before slowly rising to their feet. Taking a deep breath, they rushed across the rather short span between the shelter of the shade and the small shadow cast by Sigmund’s tome.

“Skooch over.” They sighed, one hand taking a hold of their side of the book while the other fumbled in their robes. After a moment, Opal produced a large rock from within their vestments and hurled it furiously into the sky with a triumphant “Eat it, asshole!”

The assorted cultists chuckled at their friend’s antics, but deep down the cold-accustomed group shared the sentiment. Along with the rest of the Inverxian immigrants, the followers of Gal’skap made their way from the ship to the great city before them, gazing up in awe at the sheer size of it.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” Sigmund muttered, amazed, lowering the Codex as he was swallowed up by the immense shadow cast by city walls.

“It’s pretty big.” Sutor agreed, nodding along and stroking her chin thoughtfully. “I mean, I could go bigger, but…”

Sigmund raised a hand to cut her off, rubbing his eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”

“Oh man, you look just like your dad…” The fusion said, breaking out into a fit of laughter before abruptly stopping, an expression of deep thought washing over their face. “Hmm… Now that I think about it... “

“Is something the matter?” The cultist asked, suddenly concerned.

“It’s nothing.” Sutor said, snapping out of her contemplative expression. “But if you see any giant pig men, please run.”

“Oh, of course, sure thing.” Sigmund said, raising an eyebrow. “Any elaboration on that or…?”

“Maybe when you’re older, kiddo.” The taller woman chuckled, ruffling the scion’s hair.

“I’m twent-“

“Ah-ah-ah.” Sutor cut him off, raising a finger. “You might be an adult but, like Cho, you refuse to become a man.”

“What was that?” The earthbender asked, shooting a look over his shoulder.

“I said ‘YOU REFUSE TO-“

“SOOOO, let’s see this city, huh?” Sigmund cut in, nervously waving his comrades towards the gates.
 

Victor Wolfe

Level 4
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Mesa Roja
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Following the high priest into the city Sutor was unsettlingly quiet. The warmth of the sand beneath the soles of their boots, the oppressive gaze of the sun, a lone city as an artificial oasis in the desert, a beacon of order in the chaos. It was all so nostalgic. A warm smile spread across the goddesses face as they wandered through the winding streets of the city passing small peddlers stalls selling jewellery, draperies and from the heavenly aroma in the air, spices and cooked meat of some description, the exotic scent causing the parties mouth to water.

“Ok Sigmund, change of plan, we take the city after we eat. That smell is almost as divine as I, and besides, a good chance to observe the locals.”

Before the high priest could respond, the fusion rushed over to a stall and ordered three trays, each with meat and spices on sticks, passing one each to Flavia and Sigmund respectively as the trio found a seat at an outdoor bench. They drew attention from wandering eyes, their unique styles of dark clothing and almost full-body coverings being of particular interest.

“You know, master, I have a question.” The assassin's apprentice leaned forward between bites of her kebab.

“I feel as if you have more than one, but I am in an open mood, so ask away” Sutor replied with a coy wink. Sigmund rolled his eyes resisting an audible groan.

“Why do you eat? I wouldn’t think a goddess would require sustenance.” Leaning back Sutor spun the skewer around their finger-like they would a dagger as they seemed deep in thought.

“Because it’s fun.” They replied with a shrug as his student stared, a disbelieving, puzzled look on their face.

“Ok, I might be a deity, but I still have a human side, I feel everything. Every nice flavour, the feel of the sun on my skin, the rubbing of skin on skin. I am experiencing all of this stuff for the first time. Sure those two had these experiences but it's different. Now imagine that human need for entertainment and fun but in an immortal body. That’s what I am, I want to experience everything!” Sutor turned to Sigmund with a surprisingly warm smile.

“Although there are certain things that we have experienced that I am certain we would both rather not experience again. Death is interesting isn’t it, my cultist comrade. All that pain and suffering, then it stops, and the coldness of the void hits as the warmth of life leaves you. Assuming you even have the time to feel the pain. Now Sigmund, imagine that, over and over again over years. Never-ending, always coming back, no matter how hard they get put down, no rest and no meeting their maker. And there you might be able to understand all that low key angst that my edgy father tries to hide with humour.” Sutor giggled a little as they finished their meal.

“I don’t know the exact circumstances, but I can’t say I’m not sympathetic to Victor’s plight. It must have been frustrating to be denied his glorious end time and time again. That said, the possibility to pursue your goals without death as an obstacle is priceless. The Vrells fought long and hard for an imperfect version of what you are describing.” Sigmund responded, choosing his words carefully.

“It is never really about a glorious end with Victor, no matter how glorious the death he will always view it as a failure. It's a setback, the thought that he could spend tens of thousands of years watching countless comrades move on and fade and still never achieve his goals is an endless source of existential dread. He fears a reality where he has literally seen it all before and nothing brings a thrill anymore. Hehehe, such human worries. He finds out he can’t die and all he worries about is possible boredom.” Sutor sighed as they stood up and dusted themselves off before heading deeper into the city.

The empress led the way cutting through the crowds with the grace of a dancer, a light pat or push to allow their more frail allies to follow. Turning to Sigmund with a smirk “see, no need to take the quieter side paths, this is a piece of… Fuck!” Sutor found themselves on the floor staring at the sun in the sky, they had not noticed the light but quick pounding of feet, nor the crowd starting to open up ahead of them when a tall but lithe stranger ran into the fusion, knocking them off balance.

“Ow! Watch where you are going! Kid?” Favia rushed over to help, Sigmund also grabbing an arm, although much less urgent and clearly trying to conceal a smile as the pair helped the fusion to their feet.

The stranger was wearing white robes with blue trim, a strange metallic bracer on each arm, although on the ground they appeared tall, over six foot to be exact. There was something oddly familiar about the person in front of them. Unlike the many villagers around them, this person felt different, not a part of the collective hive mind but an individual. Sutor leaned forward trying to get a better look at the face under the white hood, the stranger recoiling and looking down.

“Oh come on, good sir! You barged into me, I would merely like to know your face, after all, I might have gotten hurt and who will I go to to pay the medical bills?”

“Something tells me you will heal up just fine.” The stranger replied in an unusually familiar voice, almost like someone they knew that had picked up a strange foreign accent after a few years.

“Hmm, just who are you? You sound almost like you are familiar with little old me, and in my opinion that makes it all the ruder that you won’t show your face!” Sutor started to get annoyed as they started to walk towards the still down stranger, a drip of sweat from inside their hood dropping onto the stone path.

“I do know that you have really beautiful eyes miss.” Sutor recoiled a little, their face turning slightly red as the back of their hand came up to their face

“Ohohoho! Of course I do, boy, but thank you for noticing, why they are quite… and he is gone” In the brief moment of distraction the stranger had rolled into a sprinter start and launched himself into the crowd, darting out of sight.

Sigmund smacked a closed fist against an open palm his small smile from before turning into a look of horror. Then deep thought, and then a mix of concern and joy, a full gambit of emotions. He had figured out where he had heard the voice before. Not wanting to give away the surprise to the assassins, however, he decided to keep his mouth shut.

The trio made their way to the palace, the large stone structure casting an imposing shadow over the trio as they took the view in, the stairway to the palace surprisingly quiet. “Hm, maybe the leadership here isn’t as bad as the last ones, I don’t even think I would need to remodel this much! It’s like a proper Neo-Babylonian palace! No elven architecture to be seen! This is what you call moving up in the world my comrades!” Sutor squealed with glee as they reached the summit of the hill.

The palace gate was closed, two burly bearded guardsmen standing in front of each of the large doors adding to the intimidating aura the palace gave off. Sutor stalked forward a warm smile on their face.

“Gentleman, would you be so kind as to open the gate? We have an urgent meeting with your Ruler? Very important and I am sure they would not be happy if we were late.” The guard looked down his nose at the fusion, letting out a snort as he ignored the party for a solid minute, looking over to his fellow guard with a chuckle.

“So you have a meeting with the king? Funny that, because he isn’t here right now. Guess it could not have been that important, come back tomorrow and join the end of the line. You might get an appointment!” The guards chuckled.

With a stomp of their foot, Sutor’s warm smile turned into a threatening scowl. “Ok listen here Mr Guardsmen, I have two kinds of gold to offer, one of them is much less fun than the other, so for the better one, how much to get us into that throne room?”

The guard stared Sutor down with a deadpan expression. “There isn’t an amount you could offer that would betray our loyalty.”

Almost spitting the words he added, “so better get to that less fun option eh?” He readied his spear as Sutors hand drifted to the left side, grasping for a blade, only to find nothing. The other guard seemed to perk up and rushed over to his comrade as Sutor backed away, a look of dread across their face.

“He stole them, my babies!” walking back over to Sigmund and Flavia she put a hand over each of their shoulders and forcefully turned them towards the city.

“Sigmund, I need advice, theoretically, how much of this city could I get away with levelling with Ki blasts to find my daggers again? Just a hypothetical, because…” The ground started to tremble beneath their feet as pebbles started to rise.

“I need those back, what if someone is using the wrong techniques, what if someone is using them to cut beef or turkey rather than people?! The horror!” Sigmund stared at the fusion.

“Summon them back”

The trembling stopped.

“Oh… But I really want to kill the brat that stole them” Sutor whined

“You can do that without levelling a city, and you can do it much easier once we control the city.” Sigmund, cool, calm and collected as always, turned to the guards who were now rushing towards the pair.

“We are so sorry, we didn’t recognise the badges! You can wait inside, the King should be back shortly.”

Going quiet the god-empress looked at their lion pin badge, the ruby eyes shining in the sun. It couldn’t be, could it? Shaking away the hope, they lead the trio inside as they awaited the King of this land.
 

Victor Wolfe

Level 4
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Sutor stared at the ceiling as they kicked their legs back and forth. Having already examined every nook and cranny of the waiting room, they had finally gotten bored and decided to lay down on the couch.

Their last interactions with the guards had left them with many questions. They held up their badge to the roof examining it, the gold lion’s head with a glittering ruby for an eye the only lasting proof of Victor’s former station. It couldn’t be, right? Surely it was all just another coincidence that of all the cities on all the planets in all the galaxies, that they would stumble upon his?

Shaking the hope from their mind, the fusion stretched as they rose to their feet. “Sigmund, take the day off, I feel that this particular mission can only be started after more time has passed. Just, try not to get arrested, or kidnapped, or dead. I will post on the Chaos server if I need you!”

Sigmund gave a nod as the fusion walked out the palace doors with a yawn. The guards from before were involved in yet another commotion, in a heated argument with the source of the shade that the God-empress was currently enjoying. A mountain of a man standing over seven feet tall, and easily as wide as the two guards staring him down.

Pausing for a moment, the fusion decided to watch what was about to play out, a small smile as they prepared for the guards to get what they deserved for their disrespect.

“But please sirs, I must see the King! I have an amazing opportunity to make everyone’s lives better, it is imperative that these plans are seen by someone who can approve them.” For someone so large the man spoke eloquently— there was a shakiness to his plea, his voice deep but gentle.

“Sorry pal, but the King isn’t here today, and the waiting room is full. You’re just going to have to come back another day!” The guards gave the same old routine, clearly not interested in hearing the man’s sob story.

The behemoth of a man’s shoulders slumped as he turned away, the ground seeming to vibrate with his steps as a low dejected sigh filled the air. “Thank you for listening to me anyways, good sirs. I will be back tomorrow…”

Looking downcast as he headed down the steps of the palace, he reached about halfway down before taking a seat, his hands cupping his chin as he stared down at the city he called home. Intrigued by what this giant could have come up with that would be such a great help to their future subjects, a bemused goddess sauntered over.

Clearing their throat with a gentle cough they announced their presence… yet the giant only slightly turned his head to acknowledge them, slumping even further where he was seated.

“Come to laugh at my melancholy?” he asked. “Seems to be the way of things around here nowadays.”

“Well, laugh at your misery… or change your life. I have not really decided yet, good sir. I guess it all depends on just what you have in those sheets of paper? If it’s as brilliant as you seemed to have suggested, then I would be interested in making it a reality. If it's a dime a dozen public works project… well, then I might chuckle.” The god empress nimbly reached for and snatched away the blue sheet before the giant could react.
Unrolling the sheet, it took them several moments to realise what they were looking at.

“Hm,” they said, turning it over in their hands with a speculative frown. “Give me a few minutes.”

“Please return it, miss—” the giant reached, trying to grab his plans back, the goddess ducking under his swing whilst not taking her eyes off the plans.

“Ah, so… if this is what I think it is... right! Never going to work, would take too much manpower to manage it. A nice idea, but impractical!” Sutor shrugged their shoulders as they handed the plans back to the giant, who stared at this mysterious stranger, wondering why they chose black of all colours to wear in this heat.

Clearing his throat, the large man gained a slightly conspirational air. “What if I told you... that we would need a team of fewer than ten people to manage it?”

Raising an eyebrow, Sutor turned back towards their new acquaintance.

“Well, I would say it would take a miracle, but I would be very impressed and interested if you could prove me wrong.” Sutor took the giant by the hands, his making hers look like a child’s hands in comparison. “So please, prove me wrong!”

The man nodded, a hopeful spark in his gaze. “My brother and I spent the last twenty years working on making this dream a reality. Before he passed, we designed an AI that could manage the entire project.”

Sutors eyes seemed to glow brighter than before.

“So let me get this straight, this is an underground transport system where you call for a transport, select your location, and an AI will move the transport to the location whilst taking into account everyone else that is doing the same thing to avoid crashes? Whilst certainly an amazing project, I am not sure I understand the big emergency that demands this be built now?”

The man shook his head, gazing down sadly. “Rogue fires. We are not sure if it is an arsonist, some natural cause due to the heat, or if you listen to the simpler folk, something more supernatural. All I know is that something has been causing buildings to burst into uncontrolled blazes,” the giant pointed to what remained of a rather impressive building on the edge of the town, a husk of charred stone and wood all that was left.

“Sounds like that money could be better invested in hiring more firefighters,” Sutor remarked as they scanned the horizon, the shells of burned buildings now apparent, and bringing back some rather uncomfortable second-hand memories for the God-Empress.

“Twenty minutes,” the giant huffed through his nose as he stared at the building he had pointed out. “It took the current fire force twenty minutes to get there, and then another half an hour for them to get my brother to the hospital. With such a gargantuan increase to the speed of the infrastructure he might have actually had a chance. That is why I must see this project completed. Surely you can understand that?” His voice started to crack, a desperate plea to anyone who would listen.

“Losing people? Why, you could call me a subject matter expert. Comrades, leaders, a daughter or two, parents, why you could even argue my existence causes us to lose some people, although I feel if you asked some people, they may not view that as such an awful thing… Some might even go so far as to suggest that one of those people isn't a very nice person, shocking really…” The giant stared at the goddess, a puzzled look on his face causing Sutor to snap out of their own little world.

“Well, you don’t need to worry about losing anymore people because I am going to fund this entire project!”

“Excuse me!?”

“I said I will fund it all, not sure what is so confusing about the statement, I like the idea and want to be your partner!” Sutor grinned, waving their hand a little.

But the giant only stood there, flabbergasted. “Who exactly are you, miss? I thought I had asked everyone in town who could afford to make this kind of investment, and now some stranger is saying that they will pay for the entire project? Heatstroke must have gotten to me fast today.” The giant shook his head.

“I am Sutor, just a rich businesswoman from out of town, I was something of a big shot on another planet and after making a killing there am interested in new investment opportunities, but since you seem to be rightfully cautious how about I make a down payment on that idea?”

Intrigued, the giant nodded as Sutor pulled out their smartphone, calling the ship.

“Hello?” A female voice answered.

“Just the voice I wanted to hear, I need you to bring the chest to the palace steps.”

“Ma’am, I will go to human resources if you refer to me as ‘the chest’ again.”

Slapping their hand against their palm, the goddess took a matter of fact tone.

“One little miss confident, I am human resources, and two, I mean the treasure chest underneath my chair. Now, chop-chop!” Sutor gave a mocking clap as they hung up.

After a few minutes, one of her goons arrived carrying a large chest, opening it to reveal the shine of gold and jewels. The giant’s eyes fixated on the shine.

“So, since you only came up with the idea and I am the one answering your prayers, I was thinking I would take eighty and you keep twenty per cent to do with as you wish. At least until I get my investment back. Then you can get another ten per cent.”

Glaring at the goddess the giant broke into hearty laughter. “Oh, what a jolly joke miss, I was actually thinking the same but the opposite. I take eighty per cent, because as you said, the idea is brilliant, and it’s sure to make you that investment back quickly.”

The pair went back and forth for what seemed like hours, the sun moving along the horizon as the tension-filled the air, Sutor feeling like a mongoose staring down a cobra.

“Listen miss, final offer,” said the giant, clearly tiring of their bartering. “I take fifty-one percent and you get forty-nine percent, you still make a fortune but I get the final say on my own idea. Otherwise, I go to the King tomorrow and you might get nothing! Deal?”

Sutor stewed. It had been a while since someone had the gall to stand their ground against them, but they knew that they were beaten. If they killed him and stole the idea, everyone knew where the idea would have originated from, and if they turned down the offer, then they would get nothing.

Finally, the goddess chuckled as she shook the giant’s meaty hand. “Well played, sir! I am intrigued at just what this deal can lead to!”
 
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