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Topics - Edward Batten

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1
The Phalanx / The Beginning is the End...
« on: September 06, 2015, 02:21:53 AM »
Batten Tower - Penthouse Level

The Playboy sat in the upper floor lounge of his penthouse atop Batten Tower, reclining in one of the comfortable chairs, feet propped up on the hassock before it. A glass of his favorite Dalmore Trinitas rested on the side table near his elbow, a bottle of the same next to it, but judging by the amount in both, the glass had been poured and remained untouched.

His attention was focused in front of him, where holographic images played before his eyes. The central focus of the images was a scale model of his own body, displayed in perfect detail, while around it various types of data streamed - calculations, formulae, graphical representations and images that fluxed and swelled and danced.

The images finally froze, all of the graphical displays peaking at the top of their respective scales, and the feminine, crisply businesslike voice of Diana emanated from the hidden speakers around him. "Analysis complete, sir."

He nodded, his expression one of grim acceptance. It was the fifth time he'd had her run the diagnostic program. When she'd reported the anomalous data the first time, he'd been certain there was some sort of malfunction in her biometric sensors. It had taken a full week and many systematic checks of her entire operational structure and systems before he'd been convinced it wasn't. A malfunction was a remote possibility, but faced with what she had reported to him, he'd had to check. After all, this incarnation of his own artificial intelligence had come from another world, and there could have been any number of glitches or deviations that caused her readings to be inaccurate.

Not to mention that she had been initially designed, programmed, and maintained by a darker, twisted version of himself. That fact alone meant that he had to be doubly certain that there were no anomalies in her operational matrices.

But he had checked, and re-checked, and then checked again. While there were certain distinctive variations in the AI's persona, cognitive, and reactive patterns from the one that Renna had absorbed, her functional and analytical routines were a perfect replica of her predecessor.

He'd been convinced of the accuracy of the AI's projections by the third time the analysis had finished. When he'd has her run it the last two times he had introduced variables of his own, but the end result was the same.

The Playboy raised a hand to massage his forehead, his eyes falling closed for a moment as he sighed softly. "Ah shoulda known dis was comin'. How'd Ah miss it?"

There was a momentary pause before the feminine voice responded. "Unfortunately, I am unable to determine how such a thing could have evaded your cognitive and perceptive faculties. However, historically and psychologically speaking, there are certain aspects of the human condition which most people do not actively contemplate. Even the counterpart of yourself that created and programmed me had such flaws in his perception. Unlike yourself, however, he would not have been so readily accepting of the facts."

He rolled his eyes at the AI's voice, his hand dropping to rest in his lap as he let his head fall to rest against the backrest of the chair he reclined in. "Dat was a rhetorical question, Di."

The frozen holographic display vanished, only to be replaced by the shimmering, petitely sculpted feminine shape of the AI construct, posed prettily with her hands clasped behind the small of her back. "My apologies, sir. The statement was intended to provide some measure of comfort."

He lifted his head to regard the shimmering construct for a moment, thinking back over her statement. He supposed, in her own logical way, the construct had been trying to make him feel better. It was at least good to know he wasn't as flawed as all that. "Yeah, well...t'anks, Ah guess. Any idea how long?"

The holographic construct tilted her head to the side slightly, a gesture he  had built into the original to indicate that the AI was calculating an answer to a query. Whatever the differences, there were obviously some similarities between himself and his darker counterpart. It was not a thought he liked contemplating much. "There are a number of variables which could affect such a projection, too numerous to ensure an accurate calculation."

He should have known that, too. In life, there were no certainties. Not even in his own. "Yer sure dat dere's no way dat it can be stopped?"

Diana gave a simple nod, not even a pause this time to consider. "I am very sorry, sir. There may be a method which can be devised to postpone the inevitable, but the situation has progressed to such a point that it can no longer be reversed."

He nodded again, another sigh, soft and long, escaping him. Inevitable. Another concept he was not fond of. But he'd seen the analysis himself, reviewed all but this last one down to the last qubit, and could not find a flaw. He'd been up for days, weeks in fact, with little rest. And he still had so much to do. So many things unseen to. So many people he wanted to see and speak to, though he did not think he could tell them about this. Not even Katt.

Katt. His eyes drifted over to the glass of scotch at his elbow, untouched and forgotten until this moment. If she were there to see it, she would know instantly something was wrong. Hell, any of his friends would. If they remembered anything about him by now, that is. He'd been absent from them for far too long.

It was funny, though not amusing at all, he thought. Only when faced with the inevitable did he begin to wonder if they missed him, thought of him, talked about him. Hell, he hadn't even been watching his city-wide network for...well, anything.

But now...well, now was the time to start living in the moment. But first, there were details to see to.

His attention returned to the AI, still hovering in the air before him. "Diana, start a new file and begin recordin'."

The AI paused a moment, then nodded. "Ready, sir."

Ed paused a moment, his gaze dropping to his hands, now folded in his lap. He didn't want to say the words, didn't want to start this file. To do so was to acknowledge the beginning of the end, but he also knew he had to be done.

With an effort he raised his gaze back to the AI and took a deep breath, then began.

"Ah, Edward Karl Batten, bein' of sound mind and body, do declare dis t'be my last will an' testament..."

2
The Phalanx / Restorative Alterations
« on: October 12, 2013, 01:08:40 AM »
Asile-aux-Falaises

The name of his ?vacation? home was completely appropriate.

He called it the Haven at the Cliffs, and while it wasn?t precisely isolated, it was close enough that he felt that he could remain mostly undisturbed.

Well?maybe ?undisturbed? wasn?t the best way to put it.

It had been a few days since the destruction of Batten Tower. The company he had hired to clear the debris had been remarkably efficient. At least as efficient and competent as most of the people he hired to work for him.

Most. That debacle with Smith and the security breach that came in the form of a man known as Gary Talbot?that had only narrowly avoided the scandal of something that needed to be settled out of court. He was thankful he had promoted Big Mike to the head of the Security division after Leo had gone missing. Most would have let that sort of thing slide, and he wasn?t one that would tolerate such behavior.

But getting back to the present?

He sat at the picture window overlooking the view of the bay, a glass of scotch in one hand, clad in nothing more than a simple kimono-style robe. This past week had been?so disorienting, so insane, his head was still swimming somewhat.

He?d lost the Tower. That sort of thing, he could live with - a three hundred and twenty foot tall skyscraper wasn?t exactly cheap, even for someone of his admittedly expansive resources, but it could be rebuilt.

It was replaceable.

But Diana?

He had tried so hard - so very hard - not to love her. And while it was true that he did not return her affections in quite the same way that he suspected she felt for him, he did still lover her.

She was his creation?the closest thing he had to a child.

And now?she was gone.

Katt kept trying to urge him to accept the offer that Isabella had made to him, to replace his own Diana with the one that hailed where the woman that claimed him as her ?father? of a sort had come from.

Neither of them understood. Isabella?s Diana, despite being a near identical copy of his own, could never replace the one he had created.

His Diana - he had crafted her, programmed her, had practically breathed life into her. It was because of her that so much had been accomplished. This other Diana?she was not the same ancillary being as his own creation had been.

His Diana had loved him?had treasured him?had watched out for him, had worked with him for a little over a decade, had been so close to him that they had practically been one being. They could anticipate each other, could each predict the other?s actions and thoughts?two beings sharing a single heart, a single soul.

Many times over the past days since the Tower had been brought down he had found himself calling out to her, asking her to respond, and each time the wound was torn open anew?reminded that she would never respond, that she would not answer his calls or fulfill his requests.

Not the in the same manner, at any rate.

But as Katt had pointed out to him, he was not the only one affected by the loss of the AI he had crafted. And as much as it hurt him, a wound that cut to his very core in a way that nothing else ever would?she was right.

Those that stood by him, those that gave this city hope and protected it, the ones that shielded those that could not resist the forces greater than themselves?they needed Diana as well. They had suffered as much as he, and many more would suffer in the future, if he didn?t restore that which had been lost.

He had lost much, but much of what he had still remained, including his network. And while his Diana was no longer overseeing it, that didn?t mean that someone else wasn?t tapping in to it to keep an eye on things.

All these thoughts and more flowed through his mind as he sat in the chair in front of the window overlooking the open bay of Rhy?din, and finally, he let out a long, slow, deep sigh. Reaching over to the glossy surface of the table that sat next o his chair, he tapped the surface of it, bringing it alight ith flowing patterns of data, and spoke.

?Ah know yer listenin?. Come to de Haven?Ah?ve decided to take ya up on yer offer.?

3
The Phalanx / Acknowledgements
« on: September 30, 2013, 04:39:58 AM »
This past weekend has been the best, most exhausting, most terrifying, most stressful, most exciting, and most fun of of any within recent memory.

And if it wasn?t the best of my entire life, it sure as hell ranks among the top five.

See, I participated in an event called ?24 Hour Theater? this weekend. Many of you may (or may not) have heard of this. For those who haven?t, I?ll explain the basic concept.

The entire event takes place (as the name suggests) within a 24 hour period, after which an hour long show is performed. There are 5 stages within this 24 hour period, which begins at sunset (or a time which is close to it).

It starts with auditions and casting. Auditions can typically take 2-3 hours, in which actors and actresses cold-read from various lines and/or scenes pre chosen before the event, and can also include random (sometimes embarrassing and/or bizarre) requests by the writers and/or directors. It can (and usually will) take another hour for casting, in which the writers and directors (who have been paired up in teams) will fight over those aspiring actors and actresses to have them cast in whatever plays they will eventually be performing in.

Immediately after performers are chosen, the actors have a chance to meet the writer/director teams they have been selected by, after which the actors and directors get to go home and get a good night?s sleep. (They?re going to need it.)

After that, the writers have approximately 8 hours to write a good (usually comedic, though that?s not necessarily a requirement) stage play that will last at least 10 minutes and can be as long as 15 minutes, depending on the number of plays being written and performed in the one hour period. (I was one of the writers, for those who may be wondering.)

The plays are turned in to the person overseeing the event, who is responsible for organizing, advertising, and setting up for the event. (Not to mention feeding the various members of the event, making sure everything runs smoothly, writing the program for the audience so that everyone participating in the event gets acknowledged, and a whole host of other duties, far too many to list here. Needless to say, the 24 Hour Overseer has the hardest job.)

Once that?s been done, a ?dry? read-through of the newly written, completely original plays are done by each cast separately with the writers and directors present to offer tips, advice, or suggestions to the actors, before the writers that were up all night get to go home and sleep away the day to make up for night they just missed. While the writers are sleeping, the actors and directors have just 10 short hours to memorize and perfect their performances, as well as ?blocking? (which is 'theater speak' for planning out the movements and actions during the play, and timing the performance to make it flow smoothly).

After that, there?s a 2 hour dress rehearsal and ?tech? period (which involves setting up light and sound cues, stage setup, and setting up props and costumes).

Once all of that is done (during which the requisite 24 hour period has passed), the show begins, which the performers, directors, and writers together have to have worked at as hard as they could in order to make it look as if the entire series of performances took weeks get together, rather than a single day.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking.

Most (if not all) of you are probably thinking ?Oh, sure, I could do that, it doesn?t sound so hard!?

The majority of the remainder are most likely thinking, ?That?s impossible!?

To both groups, let me just say this: if you haven?t done it for yourself, you don?t know what you are talking about.

That being said, this weekend has been a real eye-opener to me, and it made me realize, I?ve been remiss in one of the most important duties of a writer: the acknowledgements.

So, without further ado, I would like to give my thanks to the following people.

FIRST and FOREMOST, to the Love of My Life: I know that YOU know who you are, because I sent you a link to this post. Quite a few of the players on this site know her as well, as she both writes and plays here; those that don?t, you?ll just have to figure it out. You, my love, have been the reason I have carried on, after so many times that I decided I was going to quit, and I?m glad you never once allowed me to stop. You have been my inspiration, my muse, my reason for persisting when I felt I should just quit, and so many other things that I couldn?t ever put them all into the words that would befit someone that means so much to me. I never thought I would ever find someone so wonderful and exceptional and talented that I would ever be worthy of. Thank you, and I love you, so very much.

To the player of Wolvinator: Were it not for you and your brilliant idea of proposing and creating the Avengers in Rhy?Din, Edward Batten would not exist. For that matter, neither would Leo Heracleides, Kyle Pontius, and Michael Petrov, along with a few other characters. Dude, you FREAKIN? ROCK, and I for one think we need to see more of you!

To the player of Katt Batten: Without your ?nagging?, ?pushing?, ?harassing?, and ?demanding? (to use all of your own descriptions XD) requests, there?s a good chance there would be a lot less seen of some of my characters than there is already (particularly Ed). I promise I?ll endeavor to be better that in the future, as much as I can be. Thanks, ?little sis?! You?re AWESOME, and I don?t care what jackasses out there say otherwise!

To the player of Renna the Betrayer: There is no way that Ed Batten would be the phenomenal success he is without you, and I could give a flying f*ck what you or anyone else says about it. And what?s more, I would lay wagers that there?s a HUGE number of players on the site who would say that about their characters as well. Thanks for being the main reason that Ed is what he is today (second only to one person, of course).

SPECIAL THANKS goes out to the the players of Issy, Scorpion Wraitharan, Giminicka, and Brian and Jenai Ravenlock. You were the first people I really played with and befriended on Dragonsmark, and were kind enough to acknowledge, accept, and include me in your stories. I can hardly express what that meant (and still means) to me, especially with the contributions that all five of you have made to this forum and setting that I have come to call the ?home? where my imagination?s heart lies. All of you have my eternal thanks and respect, and have been the closest thing to family outside of real life that I have ever known.

After all of that, I know there are people I have left out that also deserve thanks, a list which is so long that if I were to include them all, this post would most likely never end. Thank you all for your numerous contributions and the inspirations which you have all given to me, both great and small, throughout the several years I have been writing on Dragonsmark?s various settings, throughout the past, present, and future. You may not be listed here, but never think you have been forgotten.

4
The Phalanx / The Phalanx Communications Network
« on: May 26, 2013, 01:38:50 PM »
Herein can be found any communications among any members of the Batten community: family, friends, loved ones, employees, or anyone who needs to get an IC message in letter or text form across to the same.

Yes, I totally ripped this idea from the Daniels family folder. It seemed like a good idea.

Let the madness begin...

5
The Phalanx / In Fino
« on: April 10, 2012, 07:53:31 PM »
[size=9]Nearly three weeks ago[/size]

He sat back in the chair, shaking his head in disbelief. "Eighteen...dead?"

The cool, dispassionate feminine voice came back immediately. "Yes, sir. Within a two hour time span. All targets acquired within that span were eliminated in accordance to the armor system's programming guidelines. If it had not been for Miss Lehnsherr's shield shorting out the armor's power systems, it is quite possible that Mr. Starsong would have been the nineteenth."

It was the first time he'd ever wanted to hit that cool, unflappable voice. He'd programmed her to have that persona specifically - no emotion, just detached indifference, a reminder that there was no need to get empotional in the most strssful of times. And most of the time, it kept him on the level, allowed him to maintain his objectivity.

Right now he wanted to throttle it. He'd been the Ranger for almost eight years, and in all that time he'd kept a zero casualty rate. Not a single life taken, either on purpose or accidentally, through very carefully exercising just the right amount of restraint. He valued life enough that he thought it should be preserved in all its forms, the good and the bad alike. For without the bad, what was the good?

What was life without adversity? Pointless. There was no reason to evolve, no reason to advance, no hope for improvement...just more of the same, time spent in a variety of waiting rooms.

He fought to preserve life...and he had just ended eighteen of them.

In two hours.

He doesn't want to know, not really. The AI had been right - it had been only a metter of time before this happened, and this time he'd been lucky that the system had been overridden by old safeguards he'd originally installed in the older armors to prevent certain types of mishaps, like power overloads. His voice is flatly unemotional as he speaks. "What happened?"

He listened as Diana laid it out for him, in complete detail. Four men, attempting to assault another man, all of them beaten so badly that not even dental records would be sufficient to identify them. Another man, attempting to chase down a woman, who had been hauled two thousand feet into the air, and simply dropped. Three men and a woman attempting to break into a place of business - two were eviscerated, a third nearly incinerated by plasma burns, the woman torn to pieces. Another group of six were found trying to kidnap children from an orphanage - two of them dragged along the paving stones of a street at nearly the speed of sound, one tossed so hard into a wall that he had exploded like a water balloon on impact, the others riddled with cauterized stab wounds or simply beaten to a bloody pulp.

The other deaths were just as gruesome, all carried out with an efficiency and brutality that he found appalling.

All because he'd fallen asleep, and the armor had taken the opportunity to fulfill its simple programming - find and eliminate any hostile targets.

He sighed, lifting a hand up to cover his eyes. "What're de odds of dis happenin' again?"

He waited for a few moments until the AI came back with an answer for him. "Impossible to calculate, sir. The nanomachine treatment is becoming unstable, and for the moment it is only able to override your mind when you are not in a conscious state. I would estimate the probability is very high that this may happen again if you were to fall into an unconscious state."

He pulled his hand away from his face, looking up at the ceiling. "So...we need t'get dis outta me, den."

"That would be the wisest course of action, sir. However, the instability of the nanomachine treatment and its current state of evolution will make that highly difficult. There is a high probability that removing the treatment may leave you incapacitated, if it can be removed at all."

Well, that was good news. He'd really screwed the pooch this time, it seemed. "Yeah, well...de ot'er choice is t'let it get out again...dat's jus' not an option. We got a lot of work t'do...let's get to it."

6
The Phalanx / READ THIS FIRST! ((OOC))
« on: September 28, 2011, 09:43:21 PM »
Note: It is with great regret that I feel the need to make this post, but recent developments OOCly between certain player(s) (who shall not be named here) have left me with little choice. Anyone who feels that what is written here in any way impugns the way they play their characters may feel free to continue reading posts in this folder but will henceforth not be allowed to post in this folder. Anyone not willing to abide by the regulations written below WILL henceforth be ejected from my character's story without warning.

1. The following rules/regulations apply to any and all players/characters who are a part of Batten Industries as 'employees' and/or are affiliated with the characters named hereafter: Edward Batten/Ranger, Kyle Pontius/Zulu, In Wolf's Clothing/Spartan.

2. This folder and its contents are for the enhancement and contribution to the stories of the above named characters.

3. NPCs listed within this folder are the sole creation and intellectual/creative property of those who have originally created them. Those wishing to use them in their stories WILL adhere to the boundaries within which they are described, or else their posts within this folder will be deleted without notice.

4. Any player's character stepping outside the bounds of their character's place within Batten Industries, if they be so employed, will be written out of the story or will be ejected outright without notice, depending on the circumstances of the story.

5. Rule 4 applies to those that are not 'employed' by Batten Industries but are otherwise affiliated with the characters and NPCs indicated above. Some interpretation, based on the circumstances of the story, will be taken into account, as with rule 4.

6. Rules 4 and 5 apply to both post and live roleplay interactions.

7. IF you have a question about ANY of the above listed rules, PLEASE do not hesitate to ask me via PM or privately if I can be found on RDI's live chat. I do not mind questions at all when it comes to my characters.

I am deeply apologetic to the community at large for having to create this post. I am willing to accept any and all whose intention is to participate in this storyline, and I realize that many wish to do so, as this is a good story and it seems to be well-liked by many players here on RDI. (This is not a statement of ego, but one of acknowledgement to the many that have told me this in their own words.) I have enjoyed the IC interactions with all players involved with the story up until this point, but to put it bluntly, there seem to be players that wish to use this story to pull their characters into the spotlight, and are unwilling to accept any interaction in this storyline that does not put their characters at center stage, and I am not willing to compromise my characters or plans for their story simply to accommodate for someone else's need for attention.

To any and all new players who wish to participate, please do not take this as a statement of needing to 'apply' to post in this folder in any way. this story is meant for anyone to participate freely within; however if your intention is to use this story to boost your character's standing on the site as a whole, rather than contributing to the story, please move on, because this is not the place for you.

7
The Phalanx / In Extremis
« on: September 26, 2011, 05:05:47 AM »
[size=24]Stage One[/size]

[size=9]The following takes place after the return of Renna the Betrayer, which occurred the evening of September 25 between the hours of 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM Eastern time.[/size]

He just barely made it home.

Later he would wonder how, but for now it was enough that he made it.

The flight from the Glen, where Hex had found him, had been interrupted by a single stop, just long enough for the armor to reclaim him. Inside of it there was less chance of further damage being done, with the suit's inertia-negating properties, than there was if he allowed it to carry him home with Diana in command of it. Later he would thank his lucky stars he had thought to include that kind of emergency protocol.

If he survived this.

He had hoped there would be more time. But the arrival of Hex - who had no doubt detected the energy surge of Renna's return from orbit - had interrupted that.

Renna hadn't approved of his idea, even when he had explained the logic of it and he had assured her he would survive. But it was a necessity, after all, so that he could be held blameless of her return. He couldn't very well expect to keep the trust of those deemed by so many to be heroes if everyone knew he had willingly participated in her return, and what he had in mind had to not only appear authentic - it had to be authentic as well.

So she had done as he proposed - infected him with her latest strain of virus, that he had witnessed Katt using, and then proceeded to methodically pummel him to near the point of death.

And had left him there to be found by Hex.

The pain was excruciating, even with the virus already altering his genetic makeup, as bones broke and wounds were opened. Through the haze of pain, he had sworn there might have even been a look of sincere regret and pain in her own features.

But she had done it, and then laid him on top of the inactive armor he had left laying on the floor. Almost tenderly.

The Betrayer, indeed. The sarcastic thought had echoed through his mind as he lost consciousness. She may have been his greatest enemy, his biggest challenge to overcome, and maybe even twisted to the point of utter insanity by a lifetime - several lifetimes - of pain and suffering beyond his wildest imaginings...but he didn't think the title held much truth in it.

It was a unique sort of love they shared, without a doubt.

Strange that he would find such a thing in someone that was so grave a threat, but there it was.

He managed to hold on - only just - to a thread of consciousness along the trip home. Even with that, though, he had been unable to pilot, had left it in the AI's hands to get him home, and as they descended through the port into the basement level he had breathed a sigh of relief, trying to ignore the thick, cloying, coppery taste of blood in his mouth. Trying to ignore the tremendous pain of broken limbs as Diana walked the suit to a waiting gurney, laid him down on it, and deactivated the suit for him. Mechanical arms in the suit assembly area stripped him of the tattered body suit and pulled the inactive armor away from his limp form as the cool female voice spoke.

"Sir, what you are about to attempt is inadvisable. I am detecting several fractures, internal injuries and cerebral trauma as well as numerous cuts and contusions. I would advise you to seek help at the nearest medic-"

He cut her off. "No...no hospital...dis...will work. Start...phase one...of de...Guardian project."

There was a momentary pause from the AI, before she simply replied with, "Yes, sir."

Several of the robotic arms descended from the ceiling, all wielding a thick needle attached to an even bigger and thicker syringe willed with a silvery-grey substance. All of them dropped down, their needle tips pointing to different parts of his body, and without hesitation each stabbed into him - his head, arms, torso, legs - at once and injected their contents into his body.

For a long moment he simply laid there, wondering if his treatment was going to work.

And then the seizures began. Light at first, then more violent, convulsing and flopping like a dying fish gasping for air as the nanomachine treatment began to take hold. The AI dutifully recorded his vitals as they rose, then spiked at tremendous levels as he went into a gran mal, so hard that it would have knocked the gurney over if the robotic, AI-controlled arms did not descend to stabilize it.

And then, finally, with a shuddering breath and a final flop...

...the monitors showed a cessation of life functions as his heart flatlined and he fell limp.

8
The Phalanx / A Personal Problem
« on: September 07, 2011, 06:39:48 PM »
The sample - stored safely within a cube of the translucent crystalline OmniPower polymer - was set in the middle of his basement work spaces, in a clear, recessed portion of the floor that he'd only recently added, where it connected to the rest of the network matrix. "Diana, begin analysis."

The cool female voice came back immediately. "Yes, sir. Starting now."

Immediately the cube lit up, illuminating the contents - a long, coiled, fleshy length of what looked like it might have been a tongue. Maybe. One end came to a tapered, blunt tip - the other a cauterized stump where the Spartan had sliced through it. Pulsing with clear, light blue light, there was the faintest of hums as his AI began analyzing the sample that had been cut from the Vindicator in a recent confrontation.

As she worked at that, he went back to his desk in the office space and pulled up another file, the analysis of the 'original' virus that had been released into the crowd at the Fine Arts Festival. His sample of it wasn't gleaned from his own men that had contracted the disease, but rather from another source entirely - the Vindicator herself.

He'd been fascinated by this sample since he got hold of it. According to his AI's analysis it was identical to the virus she had tried to infect him with numerous times, and each time the AI had destroyed it with a combination of kinetic, electromagnetic and sonic energies tuned to a specific series of harmonic frequencies that forced the nanite virus' molecular bonds to dissolve, in essence vibrating them at such a high rate that they shattered.

The armor could stand up to that without any difficulty whatsoever - in fact he'd had to use the same technique on the newest incarnation of the Vindicator's suit, albeit at slightly different frequencies. He'd also been experimenting on rats, which the city seemed to have no shortage of, and then tried destroying it.

Unfortunately every attempt had ended the same way - the virus had been destroyed, but so had the host.

Just as it had with her.

He remembered the heart-stopping moment he'd had when he'd thought her dead. It hadn't been a feeling of victory, but rather loss, as though something precious had been stolen. He'd felt that way with every life lost that he couldn't prevent, but never before had it affected him so...personally. There had been a moment of fluttery panic, one that was threatening again to push at the edges of his mind, if only because he didn't know how much time was left.

This virus - the original - was much more elegant than the newer version. Not feeding off of the host, but instead altering them, twisting them to a will not their own. And the only way it could be destroyed also ended up killing the host in every simulation he'd run and every test he'd attempted..

"Analysis complete, sir."

The cool female voice interrupted the train of his thoughts, pulling him back to the here and now, and he nodded, closing the file on the original. "Show me, Di."

The screen lit up with a number of displays - energy readouts, molecular structures, schematics. Vastly different from the original, this design seemed to be almost brutal and savage by comparison, wildly fluctuating. "Di, run a simulation fer me. Let's start at de smallest scale...say a rat, infected wit dis."

The cool female voice comes back immediately. "Working, sir. One moment."

As he waited he sat back, contemplating. He wasn't sure what would come of this, even if he could find a solution to the problem. It had definitely occurred to him that she was just using her feminine wiles and ways to use him to her own advantage. That would make perfect sense, in fact - the old 'more flies with honey' trick at work. Since using brute force hadn't gotten her what she wanted, she had instead abandoned the direct approach and was instead looking for a chink in his figurative armor, a way to ply him to her own ends.

A soft touch instead of a sledgehammer blow, finesse over brute force.

He'd read a story once about a man who'd known a safecracker, and there had been an interesting point that the safecracker had made - that patience, perseverance and finesse could get you what you want out of a safe, rather than simply trying to blow it open and very likely destroy what was inside.

It seemed that he and his lovely counterpart had learned the same lessons, and he was allowing it to work on him.

But then, he'd seen a crack in her own armor as well. He knew there was someone vulnerable under that sadistic, power-hungry exterior, and the armor might be thick and nigh-impenetrable, but - as he well knew - for every problem there was a solution just waiting to be found.

On the other hand, he didn't want to turn her from villainess to heroine...even if it were possible, the world needed villains, needed something for the good to struggle against.

But that was just one reason for trying to solve this problem. He'd loved once or twice before, but never before had he found someone that was truly an equal, and that made the situation that much more unique.

The cool feminine voice pulled him out of his thoughts again. "Simulation complete, sir."

Sitting up again, he directed his attention to the screen. "Show me, Di."

The results streamed across the screen and he looked at them intently, a frown on his features. The results spoke for themselves - first it had been horribly mutated, the virus altering the host in monstrous ways as it sought to create a beast that could feed its voracious appetite for energy, and finding no other energy or sustenance to feed upon, had finally turned on the rodent, consuming it from the inside, draining its body of all its energy within a week.

Fascinating.

Leaning back in his chair, he spoke again to the AI. "All right, Di. Run anot'er one for me..."

9
The Phalanx / Outbreak - Batten Industries initiatives
« on: August 11, 2011, 01:21:55 PM »
Batten Manor - basement level

He hadn't slept yet. After the GAC meeting he'd had Kyle and Leo meet him down here and gave them their assignments. It's the single place in the city he trusted not to be monitored by anyone, by any means. Set deep under the earth, encased in reinforced concrete and a layer of his OmniPower energy absorbing and generating material and kept sealed away from the rest of the Manor.

He might be called paranoid, but there are secrets down here that he has no desire to give up to just anyone.

Leo he'd tasked with getting the facilities secure and safe from outside interference. With the outbreak, Ed had made sure to shut down his own portal to Earth (his Earth, as he thought of it - the way things worked around here, his couldn't be the only one, he'd reasoned), after making sure everyone working in this branch was informed of the situation. Most of them lived on the other side of it, after all, and he'd made sure to note that he had no idea when it would be opened again.

Most of the members of his staff here had no connections to anyone on the Earth through that portal - no wives or kids, nothing to keep them firmly tied. Kyle had seen to that detail himself, almost as if he'd seen such a crisis as this one coming.

In the midst of the myriad holographic interfaces surrounding him, Ed smiled to himself. There had been a reason he'd hired that man, and Pont never failed to remind him of that fact.

Along with making sure the industrial facility and the portal were secure, Leo had been given the assignment of assigning security for deliveries of supplies, including the vaccine and Kazon's nanomachine treatment, as well as the supplies and necessary equipment for a hospice at the Temple of Scathach. The employees he wasn't worried about - the delivery drivers would all be members of Batten Industries Security, and the other employees had been assigned berths on the industrial complex's grounds, where there was little chance of anyone attempting to get information out of one of them to succeed.

And then there was the vaccination clinics and quarantine centers to attend to, another security risk where trouble could occur, and not just from thuggish Japanese enforcers.

Which was one of Kyle's assignments, assigning personnel as necessary for administering the shots, keeping records, and now security as well.

As soon as he'd seen the man taking an interest in the virus discussion, he'd had a feeling. Some might call it a hunch - for him it had all come like pieces falling into place, a perfectly obvious conclusion to a rather simple equation. After all, they were interested in making a profit - what better way than to hold the whole city for ransom by putting a stranglehold on something that was desperately needed?

Well...whatever they do get, they won't be getting from him. Not without paying for it severely themselves, anyway.

He'd been working on things himself, as well. First, the case of the missing dragon, Icer, and the mysterious woman whom Icer had shown so much fear at the sight of, the one she had said was feeding her. And Oziendis, her captor.

That had been the only logical conclusion - the other two prime candidates were either dead or nowhere to be found on this world. The only other person he could have seen doing it would have been Howe, and the Playboy had his own sources on that front - he would have heard something if that fat sack had something to do with it.

But that wasn't the case.

He was turning to another of the holograms when the AI's petite golden figure appeared before him, clearing her throat with prim professionalism. "Yeah, Di, whatcha got fer me?"

"Mr. Heracleides has just arrived, sir, and Mr. Pontius has stated he will be here shortly. Shall I show them down here?"

He nodded, stepping out of the myriad displays floating around him, and headed for the bar on the other side of the working space. He'd just finished pouring two glasses of bourbon when his security chief approached, looking tired but satisfied with himself. Motioning to a stool, he held out a glass for Leo. "Alright, y'all've had two days, ol' hoss. Let's hear what ya've got."

10
[size=9](Author's Note: This thread ties into Hunting Grounds.)[/size]

[size=9]Sewers - under the Temple district[/size]

It has been down here, in the dark and filth, feeding on refuse and scraps, for weeks.

It did not taste the rot, the sickness that pervaded the vile scum and scraps which it encountered, did not register the slimy, gritty texture of its food and drink, down here, in the dark.

There was no caring, no desire for better tastes. All that mattered was satisfying its hunger, which seemed to increase, day by day.

It was able to perceive, in a vaguely excited way, that there was more above. Better fare, fresher fare.

Live prey.

Until recently it did not seem to matter. The spoor and waste it had encountered had, until now, sustained it.

But it wasn't enough anymore.

Now there was a need for more, for food that would give it the nutrients and energy it wanted, it needed, to survive, to flourish...for down here, in the dark, it had grown, was still growing.

And so it had been seeking to expand its feeding grounds, to find a way into the world above, driven not just by hunger, but by instinct, by the need not just to feed, but to hunt.

[size=9]Rhy'din Orphanage[/size]


Penny Horvat has worked at the Orphanage for eight years, tending to those children whose families had abandoned them, or whose parents were deceased, or else those that had been snatched from other worlds by the Nexus to end up here, lost and afraid.

She loves her job, keeping the kids happy, clean and fed. There are occasionally those that are troublesome, but the matronly, motherly woman rarely has a situation she can't handle, if ever.

Today is a day like any other, and right now the kids are out in the courtyard, running and yelling and laughing, the chaotically pleasant sounds of children at play. Sitting near the entrance of the courtyard, she looks up from the book in her lap, a rather seedy romance novel, her eyes making their accustomed circuit of the courtyard where the children play and chase each other.

She's just looking down when she hears the screams of fear, of panic and pain.

The sound makes her stand up, looking around sharply, the book sliding from her lap, immediately forgotten as she searches for the source of the sound. It doesn't take long to find - the normally peaceful fountain in the middle of the courtyard looks to be a frenzy of activity, splashes and sprays of water thrown into the air by struggling figures.

She's more annoyed than concerned - the fountain is only a foot deep at most, and the kids are supposed to know better than to be playing in it. Long strides carry her over in that direction, and she's just drawing a deep breath to yell at the offending youths when she sees the water beginning to turn crimson, and she realizes that one of the figures isn't a child at all.

Whatever it is, it's a huge, hulking figure. Pallid flesh, rippling muscle, a bizarrely humanoid shape that looks to have too many limbs to possibly be a man. As she watches there's another painful scream which rends the air, cut off in the middle to become gurgling sounds, then silence during which all she can hear is the sickening sound of flesh tearing and bones crunching.

The hulking figure turns to look around, its eyes blank, white spheres in horrifying features with long, sharp teeth in a mouth that vaguely resembles a shark's - wide, with rows upon rows of sharp teeth. The woman's eyes move down from this monstrosity to the limp form in its arms - a young girl, no more than eight years of age. Long, jagged tears in her clothes reveal the sliced, tender flesh beneath, and as her head lolls back like a rag doll's, Penny can see the torn, ravaged length of her neck, raw open wounds from which blood pulses weakly. Above this her features are blank save for the expression of terror which is fading as the life trickles from severed arteries.

As Penny watches, the creature bends and brings its mouth to the dead girl's flesh and digs in, tearing a huge chunk of flesh from the limp form with a sickening sound and a twisting jerk of its head.

Finally, the woman finds her voice, and her screams rend the air, mingling with the terrified cries of the children around her watching this spectacle.

At the sudden sound the creature drops its meal and looks slowly around at them from the abattoir the fountain has become, setting its eyes on the supply of fresh meat.

[size=9]Batten Industries corporate offices[/size]

The Playboy is alone in his office, reading over a business proposal he'd received from one Zahra Khoury about corporate sponsorship for the Star's End Spacers hockey team, when the golden holographic figure of Diana pops up at the corner of his desk. "Sir, I have an audio hit in the southern Temple district, in the vicinity of the Rhy'din orphanage."

Frowning, he looks up from the letter. Despite her calm demeanor, he knows that the AI wouldn't disturb him in the middle of the day unless it were something of supreme importance. "Are ya serious, Di? What could be happenin' down dere at dis time o'de day?"

The golden hologram blinks her glowing cerulean eyes once. "Unknown, sir. Voice stress analysis indicates that the situation is one of dire implication."

The frown on his features deepens as he stands from the desk, looking out the window-wall that faces south. No trail of smoke on the horizon that might indicate the building is burning, but then, the AI would have reported that along with the audio information. "All right, Ah'll check it out."

"Very good, sir. Which suit shall I ready for you?"

He waves the question away with one hand, snagging the long coat from the back of his chair and pulling it on. "No time fer dat, Di, if'ts bad as ya say." Reaching under the coat, he strokes the seam with a finger to activate the armor.

Within moments it's no longer the Playboy standing in his office, but the dark, armored figure of the Ranger, walking over to touch a hidden panel on the wall, which opens to reveal an alcove just large enough for him to stand in. As the wall closes behind him, the whine of thrusters can be heard briefly, only to be cut off as it seals behind him.

11
The Governor's Office / Probably not the last...
« on: June 03, 2011, 05:50:37 PM »
Along with the many gifts comes one dropped off by a messenger, a wooden casket containing a bottle of what the label proclaims is The Dalmore 62 Single Highland Malt Scotch. Also in the box is a folded note.

Quote
To the new Governor Fionna Helston-al Amat;

Congratulations on your braving both assassins and fellow politicians (which can be equally dangerous on multiple levels) and winning the seat of the Governor.

I give to you this bottle of fine scotch from my private collection in the hopes that you may practice the same good sense in opening it that I hope you will use in your term as Governor of Rhy'din.

Sincerely,

Edward K. Batten




12
The Phalanx / Technical Files
« on: May 17, 2011, 08:12:22 PM »
Here may be found a history and technical explanation behind many of the devices and technologies being used by Ed, Leo, Kyle, and their respective alter-egos.

A great many of these designs and ideas are in fact based on real-life theories and ideas currently in use, though clearly most of it has been exaggerated and enhanced for story purposes.

Again, those that so choose to, thank you for reading!

13
The Phalanx / Trinity
« on: April 27, 2011, 04:12:45 PM »
[size=9](Author's Note: The following storyline has been edited to occur after Beltane. 5-3-11)[/size]

Batten Manor

The triple-chime he's so attuned to wakes him from his sleep. A look to the window reveals the first light of day filtering through the leaves outside, laying dappled shadows against the curtains. Becoming aware of the warm weight laid over his arm and the slender form curled up against him, he sighs softly, loath to leave the comfort he has here.

Which is weird, especially to him. Usually he's up before the alarm, gone to his labs at the industrial complex, or else in his basement. Either way, he's inaccessible to whichever pretty girl had his attentions the night previous, the little distractions he'd occasionally permitted himself as a way of clearing his mind and regaining a fresh perspective.

How things change, always when you least expect them.

Really, he hadn't done much work at all the past few days - the first day had been Beltane and making sure everything was all set for the winners, then the crowning and the party following it...

...he had meant to make it to the bonfires and the masquerade, really. The night of the bonfires he had come home to find the lovely shape next to him in her gown. What had started at a simple touch had ended up encompassing the remainder of the evening and most of the night as clothes were left behind and outside concerns were forgotten in exchange for heated passion and sensual exploration.

The next day they'd scarcely left the bed, celebrating the return of life, the pagan rites of fertility in their own way. He had almost forgotten to tell Leo that they were staying in both nights until Ane had laughingly reminded him.

The triple-chime sounds again, softer this time. Glaring in the direction of the nightstand, he very carefully extricates himself from that curl and tangle of body and blankets, placing a soft kiss between the lovely's shoulder blades, feeling her stir. He'd known he wouldn't be able to slip away without waking her, no matter how he tried - her enhanced capabilities aside, she seems somehow attuned to him, and he wouldn't doubt that she'd woken to full alertness before he had even opened his eyes.

Just thinking about it is enough to simultaneously cause his heart to stir with mingled warmth and anger - the former for her, the latter for this mysterious 'Order.' The files he had read through a couple nights previous with her had said some extraordinary things, things he hadn't considered the possibility of. The revelation of those files had awoken him to a world he had only glimpsed for himself, and that in a rather oblique way.

He catches the flutter of her eyelashes, spies a glimpse of dark eyes and chuckles softly, moving on the bed to sit next to her at the edge. "I's time t'put de pieces t'get'er, mon amant." Reaching over to her, he brushes a few stray dark strands away from her eyes. "If y'all're wantin' t'join in de fun'n'games, den Ah'll be in de shower."

With a grin and a wink he stands, his fingers trailing away along her cheek before he turns and heads for the bath, not bothering to cover his nude figure as he goes.

14
The Phalanx / Business as (un)usual
« on: April 12, 2011, 02:53:36 PM »
[size=9](Adapted in part from live RP.)[/size]

"Diana, we have a problem."

Walking into the Manor, he pulls off the coat and tosses it over the back of a nearby armchair. Reaching into one of the pockets, he pulls out a small crystalline box, turning it in his hands for a moment, the stormy blue-grey eyes staring intently at it as if he can pick out is secrets by osmosis. Whatever secrets its holding, however, it doesn't seem inclined to give them up. Walking over to a low table near the front doors, he places it on the wooden surface before heading for the passage to the lower-level labs.

"Yes, sir. I have the events of the evening recorded for your review." The feminine voice speaks from hidden speakers in the walls, at perfect conversation level.

As he steps into the lower level, the lights flicker on automatically and the petite golden shape of the holographic AI pops up next to his desk in her usual businesslike pose.

Walking over and dropping into his seat, he blows out a breath, his head leaning back as his eyes fall closed. For a long moment, he simply sits there, thinking.

Wondering what's taken them this long.

He and Pont had started what they referred to as the Ranger project seven years ago. At first, it had been a game - two men playing at kid's fantasies, ideas gleaned from comic books and brought into the real world. Even the testing of the first prototypes had been more for fun than for something practical.

He had known it would work - he hadn't anticipated just how well.

The two of them - from the moment the project had been conceived - had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep it a secret. The designs and project data they kept secure, safe, separate from the rest of the company's works. Tests conducted in remote locations, precautions taken so that they wouldn't be monitored, even to the point of monitoring satellite activity in orbit.

It was nearly a year after the project began that things went beyond theories and testing.

Of course, he hadn't expected to be able to keep his involvement a total secret. In the whole of the world there might have been four defense contractors capable of producing the Ranger suit. None of them made the claim.

Of course, you can see something all you want, but until you have it for yourself you're not going to know how it works.

He'd begun to suspect that others know...or at least suspect.

"Start playback at time index 00:25."

Sitting up straight and opening his eyes, he directs his attention to the monitor as a video stream starts. The perspective is a bit odd - looking up, into the face of a lovely girl, black hair a stark contrast to light features, focused on something not visible on the feed. A moment later he hears his own voice, talking to her. "Marketin', public relations...what else is it ya do, Ane?"

He watches as she settles back into her seat, his attention on the monitor. Even now, looking at it from a more objective standpoint, knowing what he's looking for, he has to admit she keeps a definite, very deep reserve. There is nothing more to be seen now than there was then. "Things I regret. Things that keep me alive and keep me off the streets."

"And are ya still doin' 'em? De t'ings ya regret, dat is." His own voice, softer than its usual playful, devil-may-care tone, but he's not interested in that at the moment.

He watches the look on her face - whether in reaction to what he's asking or something else, he's not sure. "Yeah."

He'd known the answer to that question before he asked it. He recognizes - all too easily - the look of someone with a burden of secrets and guilt.

"Den ya should fix dat, don't ya t'ink?"

She snorts, a twist of lips revealing cynicism hard as jade. "Sure, yeah. Just wipe it all clean and move right along like nothing ever happened. That's worked so well for me before." Her smile is dry, brittle. "Trust me, handsome, I'm on my own in this one."

"Yeah...heard dat one b'fore, too." There's a sharp sound as the audio picks up the sound of his glass making contact with the table. "O'course, Ah c'n tell ya dat as long as ya t'ink yer alone...well, ya are."

He winces to himself. That hadn't sounded cheesy or anything, not at all. For the first time in a while, he makes a mental note to keep the deep talk out of future conversations.

In public, anyway.

For a long moment she's quiet, simply looking at him with an odd expression...like maybe she hadn't really been seeing him before. "You're right." The quiet laugh, even heard on speakers, raises gooseflesh along his arms. "Isn't so easy to let anyone in when you figure it's only you that you have left to trust."

He hears the clink of glass in the background as he refills his own. "Dat's not de hard part, lettin' some'ne in. De hard part is knowin' who t'trust...an' how far ya c'n trust 'em."

Even as the words play to his hears he's cupping his eyes with his hand. WAY too deep, Ed.

"I's not hard t'tell ya got secrets, chere."

[size=9](Continued in next post.)[/size]

15
The Phalanx / Home for Work, Work for Play: Settings
« on: April 09, 2011, 04:10:08 PM »
Being your typical billionaire playboy, Ed is given to occasionally buying things.

Like houses, or other pieces of property.

That's what this thread is for: descriptions, pictures and the like.

Hope you enjoy it.

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