Author Topic: Re:  (Read 1883 times)

Leonidas Heracleides

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« on: April 27, 2011, 09:05:09 PM »
It's been interesting, to say the very least.

Of course he was going to enjoy the nightlife of New Orleans - that's a given - and by the time he had gotten back to the InterContinental the clock had shown ten past three in the morning.

Well worth it, in his opinion - where Las Vegas is a city of lights, glitter and girls dressed in glitzy glamour, New Orleans shows a much seedier, darker side that he finds he likes - it's more honest than the false fool's-gold face of Sin City.

Even after only a night, he's going to miss it.

the car waiting in front of the resort is a long, black, sleek limousine, unmarked and idling. The door had been opened by one of the resort's butlers, his bags loaded for him, and they had driven off into the traffic of the city towards the outskirts. Once out of the city proper, they had driven for another hour.

Again, he's impressed. The service is silent and prompt, very professional, the car comfortable and with a light breakfast - bagels, donuts, fruit, coffee, milk, juice - waiting for him as he gets in.

Part of him wonders how much of this he'll see as an employee in Rhy'din.

Finally the car turns into an industrial complex with the Batten logo on the gate, a red shield with a dragon and what looks like part of a gear spread on it. Without pausing the car drives up a ramp, into a building, and through it. As he watches out the window, it drives out another door...

...and suddenly the scenery has changed.

In New Orleans the sky had been sunny, save for the few random cotton-ball puffs of cloud against the azure of the early-morning sky - here it's darker, grey clouds threatening rain overhead. A mountain overlooks the ciyt, trees and green and...somehow,. it feels so much more alive to him...

For a moment, he's reminded of his mother, the way she used to say that you could feel the pulse of a world, the way it lived and breathed and watched. Crazy things, but for that moment they make a strange sort of sense.

And then moment is gone as the town is moving past him. It reminds him of old coastal towns in New England the way they had of looking old and stodgy and strong, and yet somehow run-down and rustic and rambling at the same time.

So this is Rhy'din.
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2011, 01:58:19 PM »
[quote:571285bba8="Goldglo"]"Let me be extremely clear ? I in no way support or by any means find acceptable these threats or the subsequent assault on my opponents, their supporters, or upon any other citizen. I do not condone them in any way and it?s my sincere wish that they are brought to an immediate end! The citizens of this city have ample opportunity to make their feelings known through the vote during the election period ? these threats and attacks undermine the system and have no place within it. Over the past weeks, I have stated many times that We are Rhydin. As a city, as one, let us move together toward our common goals - not through intimidation and fear and menace - but peacefully and within the established political process.

Thank you."[/quote]

He's settled into the chair behind the desk in his office in the security division of Batten's industrial complex, listening to the last bit of the announcement he'd recorded for playback. It's his third time listening through it, and he's still not entirely happy with it, for some reason. Playing it back a fourth time, he spins in his chair, letting his eyes drift around the suite.

He's perfectly at home here - the office is set up in black marble and wood paneling which in places is inset with touch screens, plasma-screen monitors, and various interactive panels. He's not a techno-geek to the level that his boss is, but enough of one to have just about fallen in love with the offices and their technology in a heartbeat.

The playback finishes in the time it takes for the chair to spin twice, and despite that on the surface the speaker is passionate and peaking the truth, there's just something that bugs him a bit.

"I don't know, Diana. What do you think??"

The golden hologram at the edge of his desk blinks at him before responding. It's odd to see s holographic projection, let alone one that blinks. Batten had explained it as something he'd added to make her seem a bit more real, an indication she was 'thinking'. It's taking some getting used to. "I couldn't say, sir. Voice-stress analysis seems to indicate he is sincere in what he is saying. On the other hand, Mr. Simon is a seasoned politician, and such experience usually brings with it a certain amount of vocal and body language control as a necessity."

Which will be one reason he doesn't like it. The whole speech sounds like it was prepared by the kind of people his old man often referred to as 'talking heads,' words strung together that just about any other politician whose life wasn't on the line (but whose reputation might be) with the rest of them would have put out there, just to cover his own @ss.

And on the other hand, there's the possibility that he is sincere, and it's all set up to look like Simon has a hand in it.

Or it could be what it appears to be - someone simply hedging their bets.

Just about then his deputy chief, a short, stout, balding man with glasses named Jason Tatopolous that he liked immensely, comes walking in, a folder under his arm. "Are ya still listenin' to that crap? Come off it, Leo. The guy's a putz, one o'them wishy-washy dummies with someone's fist reaching up their ass to work the controls, I'm tellin' ya."

Leo chuckles as his deputy rattles on in his New York accent. "I dunno, Jase. Something stinks here - this Howe guy that Batten told us about has a reason for wanting this guy in office so bad."

His deputy nods, arching an eyebrow as he tosses the folder on Leo's desk. "Oh yeah. I think I found one reason right here."

Quirking an eyebrow of his own, he reaches over to the folder and flips it open, thumbing through it for a few moments before turning to look up at his deputy again. " did you get this information?"

The short man chuckles, settling into a seat. "Ya don't wanna know, kid, believe me. Let's just say you should be careful what you say in public places - the scumbag two stools down nursing the cheap scotch just might be me." With a wave at the file's contents, he makes a disgusted face. "I know it's not concrete, nothing provable yet. But it's something to check out, anyway."

Leo nods, sitting back again, looking thoughtful. "All right. I'll take it up with Ed, see what he thinks. Good work, Jase."

The shorter man winks at him, standing up again and turning to leave. "Yeah, yeah. You're not getting out of buying drinks later, kid."
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 01:57:14 PM »
[size=9]Last night[/size]

"You're a f*cking moron, you know that?"

They're the first words he speaks to his boss as the man climbs painfully into the back of the limousine with him, a sleek, black, armored machine that starts to move in utter silence as Batten closes to door. The man is a bloody mess - the side of his shirt, Leo can see under the coat, is tacky with dried blood, one arm held across his chest, his features decidedly exhausted looking. "Seriously, Ed, are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Batten chuckles lazily at him, leaning back painfully against the seat, his head falling against the rest. "'Cause y'know, Ah got so much t'live for."

Leo can feel his lips compressing to a thin line as he shakes his head, his eyes fixed on his boss. "Don't give me that flippant sh*t. I know you think of all this as some kind of game, but really, that's three times in a week someone's tried to knock you off. And what really pisses me off is that come tomorrow you'll be out there again, walking around like nothing happened, and I have to be honest with you, I'd really rather not be working for a man that's tempting fate this way."

He watches as his boss just sits there, his eyes closed, breathing deeply, and for a second he thinks Batten has gone to sleep. Finally, the man speaks, sounding tired, not moving even to look at his security chief. "Ah'm gon' be sendin' de sensor logs an' recordin's from t'night yer way in de mornin'. Need ya t'dissect 'em fer me, see what y'all come up wit'. Ah'll send m'own notes to ya, but Ah know dere's t'ings dat Ah missed, bein' kinda busy an' all."

He looks at his boss, his jaw hanging slightly open. "Ed. Did you not hear a f*cking word I just said?"

Finally the man raises his head. The tiredness, the pain is gone, replaced by something far more deadly serious, his tone soft and calm. "Ah hired ya fer de comp'ny, not m'self, Leo. Don't get me wrong, Ah like ya, but speak dat way one more time t'me t'night an' Ah'll send ya back to Vegas." Batten sighs, his expression softening perhaps a touch. "Look, man, mos' de people on dat list don' have a tenth de tech an' pr'tection dat Ah've got. A couple of dem don' have any at all, an' dey've got more t'lose dan Ah do." He snorts then, shaking his head before leaning it back against the rest again. "Ser'sly, what've Ah got? A multi-billion dollar comp'ny, couple houses, some cool toys, lotsa girls. Not'in' dat really 's gon' mean a damn t'ing when Ah'm gone. Dese people, dey're pr'tectin' deir home, deir town, deir world. Ah just s'happen t'agree wit' em on some points. Point is, Leo, not a one o'dem is hidin', an' if dey c'n step out an' show no fear wit'out de advantages Ah've got, den so c'n Ah."

As he listens, Leo can feel some of that anger melting away. He'd been worried that his boss was doing this because he just didn't care about his own life, or maybe he had cared and stopped caring right around the time Ane left. He's still not convinced that's not the case - at least in part - but he understands what his boss is saying.

Hell, that sort of reasoning is what motivated him into his live of work in the first place.

Running a hand over his short-cropped hair, he eyes Batten again, sighing heavily. "All right. I still think you're nuts. At least do me the favor of accepting a guard of some kind...?"

His boss waves it away, not lifting his head. "Leo, wa'n' a damn t'ing ya coulda done, 'cept help drive 'em 'way. But Ah'll tell ya what, de nex' time dey bring de whole armory, Ah'll call ya so ya can join in de fun. Deal?"

It's work not to growl at his boss, even if he is right. These folks are playing hardball. Still, he thinks to himself, he'll find a way to be there the next time things start going down.
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2011, 01:03:48 PM »
[size=9]Batten Industries Performance and Testing Facility[/size]

dis?il?lu?sion (d s -l zh n) - To free or deprive of illusion.

"It doesn't make any sense."

It was the fifth round of tests they'd performed on the four men. Each had come back the same - the men were clean, the virus gone.

Leo stood watching nodding to himself. They'd said the same thing about him, twenty-four hours ago, after injecting him with the live virus they'd managed to draw from his men's blood. They'd injected him with it five times before they came to the conclusion that - somehow - Leo was killing it off. Unfortunately, they didn't know how, because whatever his body was doing to it didn't create antibodies.

He'd watched the scans and tests being performed on his men, and they had the same result - no antibodies. It was as if the virus - a weird, impossible-seeming combination of biological and mechanical components - had simply shut itself down.

"How're dey doin', hoss?"

The thick Cajun-accented voice of his boss broke through his musings, and he turned to face Ed. He'd never had an easy time reading the man, but since the attack the boss had been...distant. At first, when Leo and the others had been brought back and placed in isolation in the Performance and Testing facility, Ed had been there with Dr. Adkinson and the others, monitoring, testing, observing. It had been weird to see the man dressed up in the white lab coat over his suit, but somehow it suited the man, too.

But what really struck Leo as odd had been Ed's reactions to the 'virus'. He had not seemed all that surprised to see what it was, or what was happening to the four men who were still infected, as they grew weaker, feverish and delirious, violently so in two of them, while the other two simply wasted away, growing weaker. Whereas with Leo, he had seemed fascinated and shocked that he had proven to be somehow immune.

They had tried all manner of tests on Leo, but there was no vaccine they could produce without antibodies, and he watched as his boss grew increasingly frustrated as the four security team members' conditions deteriorated further and further. The six men killed outright in the field were already lost, and while neither of them liked it, both he and Ed could accept that - they had been killed in action, doing their jobs, and their families would be well looked-after.

Both Ed and Leo knew the realities of combat and death.

But these men were alive, and it seemed there was nothing that could be done to stop it.

Finally, Ed had left Leo in charge, telling him to continue monitoring the men but to do no more tests, and had simply...left. If his body language and face were anything to judge by, the man was pissed...more than Leo could recall seeing him.

Now, looking the man over, he could see relief there...and, oddly, regret, though the former overshadowed the latter by a large margin. "Actually, they're going to be just fine...once they've had a chance to rest and recover."

There was no surprise there in his boss' features, once again, and Leo could tell without even having to guess that Ed already knew they would be when he got back from...wherever it was he'd gone. His eyes narrowed as he met Ed's gaze. "Look, Ed. I know you have secrets, and that you don't feel the need to tell us lowly peons everything you're involved in all the time. But I know you know more about this than you're letting on, and I have the strong feeling that you have something to do with these guys getting better."

For a long moment Ed didn't say anything, just looked past his security chief towards the four men still being gone over by the medical staff he'd recently hired for the Benghu fever epidemic. The only part of the team they needed was a medical doctor, though Kyle came close. Leo crossed his arms over his chest and waited for the man's response, whatever it was. He was pretty sure Ed would come back and tell him that it was none of his business.

Finally Ed turned his attention back to Leo. The next words out of his mouth surprised him. "Yer right, Leo. Ah have been keepin'...t'ings to m'self." With a tip of his head, he gestured to the door and started walking. "C'mon, we're headed to de an' Ah need to talk, an' Ah'd prefer it was kept private."

As he turned and followed after his boss, Leo frowned, catching up and walking next to him. "What about Pont, Ed?"

His boss shook his head as he pulled the door open and gestured for Leo to take the lead. "Dis ain't fer Pont, hoss. Ah love de man like a brot'er, but...well...Ah'll explain once we get dere."

And explain he did.


And by the time he was done, Leo's world had been turned upside-down and inside out.

But he understood.
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 03:33:26 PM »
[size=9]Continued from Casualties[/size]

A few hours after he was released from the hospital, he stood in his penthouse suite, looking around in amazement from the front hallway entrance. Over one arm he had draped the duster that had been hanging in his closet, which to his surprise felt amazingly heavy, heavier than it should for certain - if he had to guess it was probably about a good forty pounds in weight. Probably armored, he thought - it would make sense given his profession.

In the other, he held the briefcase that Batten had left on his table back at the hospice that - supposedly - held all of the information he needed to know about himself.

As he took a step further into the penthouse, the lights came on automatically all over the apartment, as though his presence had been sensed. As that thought crossed his mind, a cool, sultry female voice spoke. "Good afternoon, Mr. Heracleides. Welcome home. I trust your convalescence has gone smoothly."

He looked around the place for the speaker, but nothing met his eyes - only the penthouse suite. Even as he was trying to find the woman who possessed that voice, he noted that it seemed to be a man's dwelling - comfortable furniture, a large flat screen television, posters and pictures of sports teams and swimsuit models, beer and liquor ads and signage that looked like they came from bars. There was a modest wet bar along one wall that looked as if it were stocked with a decent selection of good liquors and beer.

No woman living here - there was nothing to indicate a feminine presence that shared the place. Finally he spoke up to the air itself as he looked around. "Who's there?"

The cool female voice came back to him, apparently speaking from hidden speakers. "Forgive me, Mr. Heracleides. I am Diana, an artificial intelligence construct created by Mr. Batten. I oversee all of Mr. Batten's holdings via sensor feeds, and I monitor and manage his extensive data collection and processing network."

Another new piece of information, it seemed, and one he wasn't sure he was entirely comfortable with. "So...he can be watching me, listening to everything I'm saying and seeing everything I'm doing right now."

Again the cool female voice spoke back. "No, sir. While that is within his capabilities, he has specifically designed safeguards into the system to ensure that his employees maintain their privacy while they are not at work. The audio and visual portion of his data collection network is monitored by myself, and only if I detect an anomaly that Mr. Batten, Mr. Pontius or yourself should know about do I reveal any information that occurs within this building. However, to date there has been nothing of note."

Well, that made him feel better. It seemed Mr. Batten was someone of some integrity, anyway. He hoped.

He walked over to a couch, tossing the duster over the back of it and stepping around to sit, laying the briefcase on a coffee table in front of it that looked to be made entirely of thick, clear glass. Popping the latches, he opened the lid, lifted out the first file, and began to read.
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2011, 09:32:13 AM »
It was incredible.

All of it. From one end to the other, he'd found a life rich in heritage, adventure, and heroism.

It still didn't seem familiar, any of it - reading his own life story, all of the information, had an impersonal feel to it, but even so, he was impressed by it. Just reading the files he could see someone inspired to write a biography of these events, these many incidents, both for good and ill, and making a tremendous story out of it.

It was all there.

His full name, Leonidas Heracleides...which he found hideous. No wonder everyone he's come across to date other than the AI had called him Leo - it as not hard to imagine that he had insisted he not be called by his first name.

Birth in South Dakota.

Life on the Pine Ridge reservation.

The death of his mother...and his father claiming him, taking him away to the glittering vistas of Sin City...Las Vegas, Nevada.

A whole life there, from adolescence and school records, a couple of little juvenile offenses, to graduation.

Even his many romances. From Jenny Summers in seventh grade, up to Allison Maloof, the last girl he had slept with in Vegas, seven months ago. He didn't remember them - not their faces or their names - but the records were there, at any rate.

It was all there. The circumstances that had led up to his birth, his life from then up to now. School records from elementary to college. Service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Classified details of the missions he had been a part of. Awards received, accomplishments of his career as the head of security for the Olympus Grand Hotel, Resort and Casino in Vegas, the reasons for his recruitment as the chief of security for Batten Industries.

But none of it rivaled the data he read nearest the end of his file.

HIs life since joining Batten Industries had been very interesting, no doubt. There were details of security operations and procedures in his files which were - to his eye, anyway - quite ingenious, and highly effective to boot. And all credited to him.

But that wasn't what caught his eye. What got his attention was something called the Ranger project, and his own place within it. His codename, Spartan. Designs for a prototype powered armored exoskeleton, a list of armaments, power outputs and capabilities.

And a list of time indexes.

It didn't take him long to figure out what they were for - a simple inquiry to the AI, really, asking her to search her records for significant events tied to those time indexes.

The information had been displayed on the flat-screen - a list of video files, as it turned out, that showed him in action. There weren't that many, unfortunately...and the ones that were there he was less than impressed with. He actually felt a tiny bit ashamed at this person in the red-and-gold armor, who was clearly him...and yet in need of serious training. There were a hundred things he was doing wrong, but most of all it appeared to him that he wasn't using his armored suit's capabilities to their maximum potential against a similarly armed foe with much more experience.

He watched them twice through before he stopped, considering. There was no fear, no apprehension - no emotion to connect him to those recordings, to his files. It was like looking at someone else's life, and while he knew it to be his own, none of it seemed at all real.

The only thing that reassured him that it was, in fact, his life he was looking at was that all of the knowledge stored in his head, he could tie to the events and data in those files.

But that didn't answer the crusial question: what was he going to do now?

He looked down at the files, the data scattered across his tabletop. Whatever else might be true about him, those files pointed him out to be a man who did not deliberate on decisions much - that man had been one of action, though perhaps lacking in the preparation department.

A fact that would need to be remedied, if he was to give it another go...if he were to re-assume the mantle of the Spartan.

Looking up, he spoke out to the AI. "Diana...if you would be so kind, send the following message to Mr. Batten: 'If I'm going to do this thing with you, I think I need some training so this sort of thing doesn't happen again. In short, sir...I'm with you.' End of message."
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2012, 06:34:28 PM »
[size=9](Continued from here.)[/size]

He's been here before.

No, not in the darkness. That had come just before this. He had a jumbled memory of black shapes, then clear horizons, followed almost immediately by the ground coming up to meet him at unbelievable speed... he was here.

But where was here?

The scenery tugged at his senses. Rolling grassland, as far as the eye could see. The breeze that brushed across his face brought scents of grass and sage, the sharp, homey smell of a wood fire burning somewhere upwind from him, and made waves in the tall grasses, alternating ripples of soft green and honey-gold. It also brought to him the haunting sounds of chanting, of many voices in harmony, someplace close. His eyes beheld, from his vantage point on the top of a hill, a thin line of water that ran through a shallow valley through the country, from the badlands to the north, off towards the south, where the grassland continued on like an ocean as far as the eye could see.

He knew this place. There were no markers here now, no famed archway to mark the infamous site of slaughter that had taken place here over a hundred years ago. But he had come here, often, in his youth, had seen this place often enough that he could picture it without the gravestones and markers, without the memorial.

He had been raised on this land, had been brought here to observe, always in silence, the rituals that had been performed in this place, those of memory and of power.

Chankwe Opi Wakpala. Known in the English tongue as Wounded Knee, or sometimes among those that lived near this place as the Knee.

As the words and recognition ran through his mind, he heard the first shot.

Followed by screams.

From over the hill, he saw the first come running. A woman, a child in her arms, both terrified as they fled through the tall grass, chased by the sounds of gunfire, shouts, and thundering hoof-beats.

She - they - were followed in short order by many others, running right towards him.

For a moment, he felt the stirrings of panic, that small, flighty bird that resided in his chest, urging him, begging him, to run, to find shelter, someplace safe.

And he was about to. He, a soldier, a warrior, a man dedicated to the fight against all that was wrong, for a moment, turned to run...

"There is nowhere for you to run, my son."

That voice. Soft, soothing, comforting...feminine. Wise and old beyond its years.

He knew that voice.

As well as the comforting weight of a hand on his shoulder, that touch as familiar as his own. Without turning, he knew who would be attached to that hand.

But he had to look anyway. He had to know she was there, even in this odd, dreamlike, nightmarish vision of slaughter.

When he turned to look, he was not disappointed...for there stood his mother.

Dark hair, dark eyes, her skin light but with the defining reddish undertone that marked her as one of the People, the Sioux.


She nodded, her smile as radiant as he could remember it being. It had been rarely seen in life, as he remembered it, but when it was present there was nothing that could contend with its beauty, in the eyes of a child.

Or even now, as a man.

The screams came again, the sound of gunfire, shouts, hooves and torment. The panic had subsided away, and now, there was something else.

Anger. Righteous, leonine anger, a beast that raged to be loosed on the unjust and wicked.

But before he could turn to help those being slaughtered, his mother shook her head. "You cannot help them, my son. That time has passed. But their deaths were not in vain...for the passed on to this place their power...their spirit."

And just as quickly as it had begun, the scenery changed.

The ground, the terrain, was the same...but where there had been nothing but endless grasslands and rolling plain, there he now stood with the memorial of the massacre at Wounded Knee surrounding him.

It didn't occur to him in this moment that he could remember things. That the memory of a life that had been erased from his mind was now present, fully restored.

Here, now, in this place, all he could feel was the power.

The sensation that coursed through his veins, like adrenaline...but so much more...pure, like a never-ending flow of energy that entered his body through the ground of this holy place and coursed throughout his being, was almost ecstatic.

"You can feel it, now, can't you, my son? The power in this place...just as I taught you, all those years ago. Before you blocked it out, before your memory - your entire life - was taken from you. You can feel can remember."

As his eyes met his mother's, it occurred to him that he could remember, that so much that had been lost had come back to him. Without thinking, he reached out to his mother, whose form was already becoming ghostlike, wavering, much as the landscape around him had begin to do, fading into something else.

Before she was gone, before the Knee had faded from his sight, he heard her voice one last time. "Awaken, my son...and remember that which came before you. Your past - your history, your ancestry, those that came before and those that remain with you now - they are what will determine your future."
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 07:19:53 PM »
[size=9]Batten Tower[/size]

He stood in front of the building, his head tilted back to peer up towards the top. When he'd been here last, the Tower hadn't existed yet...instead, there had been a complex, several buildings where now stood a very tall, gracefully spiraling structure.

It was an odd sight to him, new, but not completely surprising. Batten always had been one to make his presence known.

He chuckled to himself as he lowered his gaze and made his way towards the large double doors that were the entrance to the ground floor.

The inside, with its white marble floors, pale wood paneling, and the large desk made of that same wood, with the marble wall behind it cascading water over the familiar Batten Industries logo on it, was every bit as pleasing as the outside, rich and sumptuously appointed.

His gaze, however, lit instantly upon the person seated behind that desk, and a wide grin spread across his features as he started towards that familiar face.

Some things, he reflected, will probably never change...

He'd caught her at work on something, he could see, and she was rather absorbed in it, not even looking up until he'd fetched himself a lean against the front of her desk. "If you're here to see Mr. Batten, I'm afraid he is out" She looked up, her voice trailing off, her eyes widening in amazement. For a long moment she simply stared, her mouth hanging open.

He couldn't help but laugh a little. "You shouldn't leave your mouth open like that, Liv. Something might fly right down your throat."

She blinked, her mouth working for a moment before she managed to get out a single word. "Leo...?" He blinked again, as though trying to clear her vision. "Oh my God, is that really you?"

He made a show of looking down at himself, holding his hands out to look them over, patting himself down, then nodding. "Yep. I'm afraid so."

She was up out of her chair and around the desk in a flash, hurling herself at him as she let out a squeal of delight, her arms flung around his neck, and he caught her easily in a tight hug. "Oh my God, I never thought I would see you again!"

He laughed and held her up as they embraced, then set her down gently on her feet again. "Well, that's what you get for thinking."

She stepped back, though her hands only went as far as his shoulders, and she looked him over with a critical eye. "You've gotten older, mister."

He chuckled and nodded. "That'll happen, over time. You, on the other hand, are still gorgeous, I see. How's Jim? Did you ever marry that bum?"

She giggled, lifting up her left hand to show the rings on her finger as she nodded. "Yep. Been married for four years now."

He chuckled, shaking his head in mock disappointment. "And here I was hoping you'd have gotten tired of him by now and would be ready to trade up. Ah, well." He let out a woeful sigh, though the smile on his face gave lie to it. "Listen, Liv, is there anyone that can get me into the vault?"

She stepped back from him, suddenly all business again, though the affectionate smile remained. "You mean vaults. Plural. And you shouldn't need anyone to get you into them. Your access privileges were never removed."

It was his turn to blink in amazement. "Say what?"

She giggled again as she went back around the desk and sat, tapping on the touch screen surface he knew as concealed from his view at this side. "Yep. Shows here you still have executive level access."

He shook his head. "But I was just out where the Manor is and I couldn't get in..."

She laughed at him. "That's not where Ed keeps the vaults anymore." She gestured to the left, around the dividing wall. "Take the elevator at the end. Sublevel 7." She tilted her head to the display built into her desk, then looked back up at him. "Looks like Vault G is the one you want."

He opened his mouth to ask how she knew that, then stopped himself. It wouldn't surprise him at all if Ed had left a note for just this circumstance. "Thanks, Liv." He gave her a grin and a wink and headed in the direction she indicated.

"Hey, Leo."

He turned back just as he reached the passage, an eyebrow arched as he looked at her, and she smiled at him.

"Try not to wait five years before your next visit."

He laughed at that and nodded, giving her a thumbs-up. "You got it, sweetheart."
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]

Leonidas Heracleides

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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2017, 04:29:13 PM »
[size=9]Batten Tower, Sublevel 7[/size][/i]

The elevator opened on a long corridor the width of one you might find in a hospital, only nearly twice as tall, and covered in slate gray hexagonal tile from floor to ceiling. He recognized the configuration easily enough. Before the Manor was destroyed by Renna, the basement level had been outfitted the same way.

Batten Industries OmniProof armor tiles.

The entire building above them could collapse directly on top of this, every level driven downward, and this level would remain completely intact.

Stepping out of the elevator, he started down the hall, noting the doors on either side. If the distance they were spaced was any indication, the individual vaults were fairly large. Each had the Batten Industries logo and the vault letter emblazoned on the door, and biometric security panels next to each. In an earlier time, he might have been curious enough to pry. He still could, he thought. Executive level access meant that Ed trusted him enough to see all of his secrets, which most likely meant he could probably open any of the doors down here.

He wasn't here for that, however.

He reached the vault door labeled G and stopped in front of the door, looking at the logo, the letter, the tiling of OmniProof armor covering it. He didn't need what he was certain he would find behind this door. Things had changed quite a bit since the last time he was in Rhy'din, after all. Five years ago might as well have been another lifetime for him.

But then, it wasn't a matter of need. He wanted it, just as much as he had then.

He took a step forward into scaning range of the biometric security panel, holding still while it scanned him, feeling the electromagnetic waves permeate his body. A moment later he heard D.I.A.N.A.'s voice.

"Leonidas Heracleides. Identity verified. Access granted."

He looked up towards the sound of the voice, a slight frown on his face. It was definitely the same voice, but...different. It took him a few moments to realize what it was. There was no breathiness, no sultry tones like a seductress. This was a cool, clipped, professional voice, though it was still undoubtedly the same. "Diana, did Batten change your programming?"

The holographic projection of the construct flickered into view. Blue, he saw, rather than golden in color. "No, Mr. Heracleides. I am a different version, from another timeline. The D.I.A.N.A. that you knew was destroyed by the entity you know as Renna. I have taken her place."

He frowned slightly, staring for a moment. This was a new development. " were created by, what? The Edward Batten of the timeline you're from? How did you get here?"

The glowing blue hologram regarded him for a moment before answering. "I was brought to this timeline by Isabella Batten, who is the genetic offspring of the Edward Batten of my timeline of origin."

Surprise rippled through him as he stood there a moment, shocked. "Ed...has a daughter...?"

"That is correct, in a manner of speaking, though not technically precise."

He shook his head. That was going to take some explaining, he thought. "And did I exist in that timeline?"

The hologram nodded. "Yes, Mr. Heracleides. However, in the timeline I am from, your counterpart is deceased."

Another tingling wave of surprised emotion swept through him. "Deceased? How did that happen?"

The AI hesitated a moment, as though unsure of whether to provide that information, before she spoke. "Your counterpart was killed by the one we called Shadow in my timeline."

"Shadow." That was Katt's codename. He was about to ask if that was the name of her counterpart in the alternate timeline when he heard a heavy metallic thump from within the door and it swung open to reveal the inside of the vault, and the subject was ushered out of his mind for the time being.

It appeared that Ed had taken everything from the penthouse he'd lived in when he was still an employee of Batten Industries and stored it here. The furniture, his clothing, even the decor - neon signage, posters, pictures of himself and his father, some other personal items - it was all here, neatly arranged for storage. Even the Desert Eagle he carried for his sidearm was here, set in a display case.

He barely noticed all of it, though, as he walked into the vault, his gaze fixed on the back wall. There, standing in an alcove by itself, was the thing he'd come down here hoping to find.

The Spartan Combat Exoskeleton.

It looked brand new, just as he remembered it, without a hint of damage from plowing into the ground the last time he'd worn it. He wondered to himself if Ed had repaired it, or simply made a new one. It took up most of the alcove, the crimson and gold armor of his own design gleaming in the lights that shone on it. A grin came to his face as he remembered what it was like, strapping on that suit and flying like a bat out of hell. "Diana?"

The hologram shimmered into sight next to the armor. "Yes, Mr. Heracleides?"

"Is this thing combat ready?"

"Yes, sir. Mr. Batten took the liberty of making some upgrades in your absence. Would you like to go over them now?"

He arched an eyebrow at the AI, but nodded, the grin widening on his features. "Tell you what, Diana, let's get it on and you can tell me all about it."
[b:45f17062be][i:45f17062be]Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.[/i:45f17062be][/b:45f17062be]