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In the maze of Alleys there were many alleys that stood out, many incomprehensible or astonishing sights could be seen. Nestled inconspicuously amongst them was one Alley unlike any other. No creatures from realms beyond imagining stood here, no doorways to laboratories or quarters.

The ground was composed of featureless slabs of gray cobblestone, a scattered pattern that seemed to repeat itself after a short while as though  10 square meters of ground had simply been copied and then reused over and over again. Repeated endlessly in each direction as the Alley seemed to extend infinitely.
Jutting out from this repetitive floor stood stone walls, comprised of similarly drab bricks. These walls stood nearly a hundred meters apart making this appear more an enormous room or courtyard than an Alleyway. The walls soared into the skies, continuing on until they seemed to converge in a single point far overhead and blocking all light from entering in from the outside.

In one place in this alley stood a solitary wooden cart, a platter laid upon its surface, an assortment of cookies stood upon it, still seeming warm in spite of the lack of anyone present to keep them so. A small lantern hung from this cart providing a faint illumination that was the only source of light to be found.

The first of the Alleys was rarely used, kept more as a momento of history than anything. A reminder of a time long ago when even the DA had been young. Its stillness and silence had been left for a long, long time.

But suddenly the sound of echoing footfalls proceeded down the Alley, a lone figure walked down the path, trailing one hand against a wall in a brief bout of nostalgia. The figure quickly shook its head however, pulling its hand away and walking briskly over towards the cart.

No time for dwelling on the past. Voidus chided himself fiercely. Times are changing. First full meeting we've had in...

Voidus cast his mind back. When had they last had a full meeting of the DA? Not since before the Stranger had left at least. Possibly not since the Stranger had first joined, back when the number of Denizens could be counted on one hand, working enthusiastically out of a small number of labs. Back when Voidus had participated so actively in all of their research, when he'd strode around the world, actually interacting with people. When had people started treating him as something else? When had they started to call him a god? When did everything change?

He shook his head once more, reminding himself again to keep his mind present.

"These times are changing as well." He reminded himself. "No more holding back. Time for action."

He tilted his head to one side until he felt a satisfying crack. Then stood in the small circle of light, awaiting the rest of the denizens of the Dark Alley.

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Rekaerb slowly emerged from an adjoining alley.

"This is the place?" he asked with slight uncertainty.

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Posted (edited)

Mac walked through the empty alleys, sliding spikes in preparation for the meeting. His Raspberry blowing, loud voice, channeling, gold compounding, everything.

This was the first meeting in ages. It was going to be interesting.

He stopped behind Voidus.

If Voidus wanted him to say something, he would let him know.

He turned to the Newcomer.

"Rekaerb isn't it? Yes. This is the place."

@xinoehp512

Edited by MacThorstenson
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Rekaerb nodded. "It seems... old. But not the shabby kind of old- the important kind. Like this was a place where the path of the universe turned."

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A garbage pile to the side shifted and moved, a hungry-eyed vagrant emerged. muttering to himself he joined the growing number of denizens. KuNud disgraced mayor of the Allyverse was back, he hung in the shadows nose twitching.

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4 minutes ago, xinoehp512 said:

Rekaerb nodded. "It seems... old. But not the shabby kind of old- the important kind. Like this was a place where the path of the universe turned."

Mac grinned.

"This is even older than that my friend. This is the first alley ever. This was where Voidus first created the alleys, before the alleyverse was a thing. That way leads to the first universe ever. The other way leads to the second. This is ancient compared to everything. Even the alleyverse."

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Rekaerb looked around in awe.

"Wow..." he whispered. "Even the Mountain of the Gods doesn't compare to this."

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Grey quietly lingered, looking around the room. There were so many people here, legends and newcomers alike. His tentacles lingered tasting the air. The only thing they sensed was... apprehension. Like the future was balanced on pinprick, and everyone here could give it a shove. He pulled on one of his hat strings, and moved to several feet away from the main group. While his appearance wasn’t exactly one of a kind in a place fraught dangerous experiments, people still occasionally felt uncomfortable around him. It didn’t help that whenever he “spoke” the sound of his voice came from inside their head. Then again it might have just been the hat.

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Lita stepped into Alley 0 and turned her tin back on, allowing the quiet sussurus of murmured voices to wash over her and upward into the high, pinprick ceiling. It felt different here, old. More than old. The dim light cast from the single lamp was more than enough for her to see by with her enhanced eyes, but even with tin, this Alley, more than any other, felt dark. As though the light were only a visitor, tolerated but not welcomed. She spotted Mac standing just behind another man, tall, with a serious expression and deep eyes.

This must be him, she thought with a slight shiver. Voidus. She kept along the wall, not wishing to attract too much attention, and tapped brass. The warmth radiated through her, almost completely covering up the slight warmth in her pocket. Suddenly, the warmth turned into heat, then scalding heat. Swearing quietly, Lita immediately began filling brass instead, hoping that her dress didn't catch on fire in the middle of what was clearly an important meeting.

Lita pulled the Stranger's coin from her pocket, siphoning all that warmth into her metalminds and still feeling an echo of its heat. The face showed the spiked skull, bright and grinning. She turned it over, and the image remained the same. This was a different kind of heat than what she had felt at the PlasmaCore party, though Lita had no doubt that she was definitely in potential danger right here and now from any number of nearby Denizens. But no, this felt new. She smiled at the coin, lifting it between her fingers and cocking her head at the skull. 

"Now what?" she whispered, excitement growing within her despite her cautious attitude. "What kind of secrets shall we learn today?"

Lita closed her palm around the coin, not daring to put it back into her dress pocket and risk singing it beyond repair. Instead, it burned in her hand like a tiny star, and she pulled that warmth into her brassminds for later use. She leaned against the Alley wall and waited, green eyes flicking over the growing crowd, ears listening for any news. Something big was about to happen. Lita smiled, and watched.

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Mac saw Lita slide into the side of the alley and stop. He caught her eye and motioned for her to join him.

@ZincAboutIt

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Okameahelemakeakaheuhanei'ike'oleikameanānaeho'opa'i, having arrived at the Alley he was told to meet at and having seen the crowd, decided to make a suitably dramatic entrance. Nothing like a little drama to have some fun. He Lashed himself upwards and slightly to the left to align with the wall without being directly touching, and, once enough height had been attained, zoomed downwards and activated Division immediately upon touching the ground, a large nan glyph forming with the bottom spike starting under his foot and spreading from there.

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Lita caught Mac's subtle motion and began weaving her way quietly through the crowd. When Okame zoomed in and touched down with a fanlike symbol spreading out beneath his feet, she was caught somewhere between rolling her eyes and applauding. Since he had possibly saved her life back at the party, she decided to humor him with a tiny clap and a little bow before stepping up beside Mac in the shadows.

"Hello, Sir," she said, voice low. "Quite a gathering here."

@MacThorstenson

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Posted (edited)

"Yes it is. Something big is going to happen, and I figure that before we make this announcement I should get a report from you about how the party went. I think they might be related." He paused, glancing around at the throngs surrounding them. He estimated that they would still be waiting for a while for everyone to arrive.

"Lets have at it. What were your impressions of the party."

@ZincAboutIt

Edited by MacThorstenson
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Lita did her best not to fidget as she thought about the party. When she'd left, it had seemed a ridiculous waste of time, but now that she thought on it, perhaps what she'd seen and heard would be of more use than she could know.

"The party was clearly a show of force - mostly to dazzle the citizens with all that flashy food, waiter service, free wine, the whole bit. But at the end of the day, what they wanted was money - great guild money. Pretty tight-lipped about all the 'ground-breaking' Investiture research they were doing, though their palms were wide open for chrysts. I tried to tease out anything useful or prescient about why we might want to hop into a partnership with them, but... well," Lita hesitated, tapping one finger on her upper lip. She sighed a small, irritated sigh.

"The way I see it, Sir, is that if they wanted to research Investiture, why not come right to us? The work being done in the Alleys has taken years, even I know that. Rusts, I knew it before I even met you or Laurelai. Everyone knows that the Dark Alley is where you go if you want to find those kinds of secrets. So why start new? Why re-invent the wheel? I figure the only reason PlasmaCore isn't parked in some Alley down here is that they are trying to do something that even we wouldn't do. And honestly? I don't even know what that is. What I do know is that every inch of that place was crawling with security: cameras, double-authentication lifts, you name it. Almost everyone was ushered inside the party room when they entered, but as we arrived, one man went up to the receptionist, handed her a note, and was taken to a private elevator bank. If they are merely a group of scientists testing the boundaries of Investiture then I'm the Lord Ruler. Someone is already backing them, and what they want from us is money, information, or both. Maybe they wanted to get our measure before they tried something."

She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Everything went to absolute hell when that rusting Mastermind person hijacked the screens. Then that... sky boat?" Lita grappled for the word. "Ship? Yes, the ship arrived and it was madness. I... uh..." Lita forced herself not to look down at her hand, down at the coin that had alerted her to the danger before it had arrived. Did she tell Mac about the coin? What would he do if she told him?

What would he do if she didn't? Don't play a fool, Lita. There's no trinket more valuable than your life. She cleared her throat, then lifted her hand and showed Mac the coin in her palm. The spiked skull still grinned its jolly, too-wide grin.

"This coin grew hot enough to burn me seconds before that ship arrived, and those marines showed up. It allowed Okame to get us out of there before things got too dicey. I'm the one who sent you that Alleycant message, the one about the Stranger. He gave me this - or, a part of him did. Said it was mine to keep."

He hadn't quite said that, but he'd implied it, and as far as Lita was concerned an implication was an invitation. "It's hot," she said preemptively, in case Mac reached for it. "Grew hot as a tea kettle right after I stepped foot in here, and hasn't stopped."

@MacThorstenson 

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Laurelai was moving through an Alley back towards her quarters when she heard it, a general Alley-wide message from Mac.

"Everyone, Voidus has called a general assembly in Alley 0. This is the highest Priority, please Make your way there as soon as possible."

The message was brief but the weight it carried was enormous, even when Voidus finally returned after 17 years of being trapped he hadn't called a general assembly. She hadn't been a denizen during the seven days war but apparently even then they hadn't called in everyone. What could possibly be more important than that?

Her mind briefly flashed to PlasmaCore but while it had certainly been concerning it hadn't seemed like anything that would make big waves in the DA, insular as they were. The return of the Stranger then? Possibly, but if Voidus' return hadn't been enough to warrant this then was the Strangers?

No use speculating, gather facts.

She headed off towards Alley 0, hoping that Lita and Okame would be able to make their own way there.

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Whisper smiled as she watched another terrified group run past her, the city was on high alert, anxious due to the slew of news that had rocked it and the giant battleship overhead. People needed only small pushes in the right direction to fall into full blown panic.

She wondered how the Church was doing, she'd learned a lot there and still held something of a soft spot for them. But she'd helped when they were attacked earlier, any more than that and she'd need to reveal herself too openly. She acted best from the shadows.

Just then she felt a small movement in one of her pockets, she almost ignored it but information was important, especially for her. Secrets gave power, helped illuminate the path she would need to take. She sighed to herself silently, casting one last fond look over the panicked masses before ducking into an Alley to check the message.


When she received the message she stood there shocked, a general assembly had not been called in a long time and now, with this timing? Could it be related to what she was doing? Unlikely. The party in Plasma Core? Also unlikely.

She was loathe to leave her current work but they had said everybody, if she wanted to remain in good standing with the DA then she had no choice. She could get back to her real work after that.

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Voidus stood watching as Denizens steadily gathered themselves together, most of them seemed curious as to what this could possibly be pertaining to, some seemed to be irritated at having to leave their experiments. He sympathized, recalling the thrill of spending a length of time engrossed in a single study, but this was something that needed to be done. They needed to send a message. They needed everyone.

He spotted two more arrivals, Alleytravelling in near the sides of the crowd. A young girl who was looking around and evaluating the crowd as well as a young Alethi woman, she seemed to be dressed up for a party rather than for a laboratory, likely someone from Mac's division. She seemed strangely familiar but he quickly passed her over as she looked out over the crowd, seeming to seek out friends or acquaintances.

Voidus' tense posture relaxed for a second as he pulled out a small fabrial crafted from a conjoined Ruby, he'd wanted to allow the Stranger to return in his own time, the presence of the shade he'd sent to visit one of the denizens indicated that he was planning it at least and Voidus would hate to interrupt an experiment in its final stages of completion, but experiments could be put on hold if needed, this couldn't.

He pressed a thumb into the device and held it up to his mouth.

"Been a while old friend." He said with a strained smile. "Not sure how long you were planning on staying cooped up in there but I need a word. I'm waiting in the first Alley, need to talk to everyone."

And then he placed the fabrial back in his pocket and waited.

@Fatebreaker

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Hmm. Interesting. 

"Thank you, that clears up a lot of stuff actually. There are a few things that we don't like to mess with, because they get annoying, but I think that whatever Plasma core has done, they have drawn the attention of Voidus. And that is never a good idea. I think that we are about to gain some insight during this meeting." Mac turned his attention to the coin, his eyes wide with wonder.

"As to the coin, I would hold onto that. I would suggest that you never lose it. The stranger is the smartest man I have heard of, and its likely that that coin is one of a kind. I can help you try to discover more about its functionality, but you should keep it. 

As to why its hot? I would imagine that if the heat predicted danger, then I'm surprised that you are not on fire." He chuckled, then glanced around at the other denizens. "This is quite possibly the most lethal gathering in all of the history of the multiverse. I would watch yourself. Good spies are hard to come buy these days, I would prefer it if you didn't die. Thank you for your report." He turned his attention back to voidus who had appeared to make a call to someone on a fabrial device.

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Lita nodded at Mac's dismissal, stepping back towards the wall and casting a look out over the crowd.

 Lethal indeed, she thought, thankful for her brassminds. I'll have enough heat stored to last me through a lifetime of burning tin by the end of the day if this coin doesn't cool down soon.

She saw Laurelai moving along the wall a bit further down the Alley and tried to catch her eye, raising her one free hand in a wave and keeping the other curled around the coin. Lita felt a genuine smile tug the corner of her mouth at the sight of Laurelai, along with a small twinge of guilt. How, exactly, did one apologize for leaving someone at a doomed dinner party after a giant Horneater burned a hole in the wall? Did they sell cards for that sort of thing? Rather eager to put some distance between herself and Voidus, she edged along the wall some six feet or so and raised her hand again, hoping to catch Laurelai's eye. @Voidus

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Vivica Alleytravelled to Alley 0 still clutching her notepad, grinning. When she'd heard the message on the speaker system, she hadn't even bothered to worry about being covered in bits of ferret. Besides, this would be the talk of the Alleys for weeks, possibly years. Maybe, in all the excitement, no one would ask Vivica how her experiments with Ferretchemy were coming along. She stood and waited, waving to a few colleagues, and watched Bennington swim lazy circles around the room like a glowing pink comet. Her new recruit was standing over by the far wall, looking around in awe. She gave him a bright smile, then took her pen out from behind her one remaining ear and made a few notes on her pad, smudging the ruled sheet with blood. No time like the present for noting down ideas.

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Posted (edited)

The coin began to glow white hot, the heat becoming so intense that Lita couldn't store the heat fast enough. She dropped it and rolled across the floor, weaving between the assembled Denizens till it came to rest at the feat of Voidus. The glow of the coin increased till it was a beacon, casting strange shadows on the walls. The room hummed with energy, low pulsating echoes of raw power that washed over the assembled crowd. Mist and smoke billowed out from the coin, swirling wildly. 

Then it stopped, the room going completely silent, and the smell of freshly baked cookies wafted through the room. Voidus turned and looked at the cart with a knowing smile. The Stranger was leaning against it. His grey lab coat was torn in a number of places, and there was dried blood spattered on his face and clothes. His afro was wild and unkempt, and it was possible his teeth were a bit more pointed than the last time he had been seen. But the silver eyespike gleamed brightly, and his right eye glowed with a luminous blackness that was unmistakable. He was holding one of the cookies and looking at it with a mixture of wistfulness and satisfaction. He looked up at Voidus and grinned.

"It is an unprecedented joy to see you again, my old friend. I have been working alone in the lab for too long."

He set down the cookie and moved forward to take Voidus in a warm hug. After a moment he released him and turned towards Mac, "Mac! You're powers have grown exponentially! I'm quite impressed, next thing I know you'll be running things around here."

He bent down to pick up the coin, which lay at his feet. His deep, dark eye moved about the room till it found Lita. "Ah, the Secret Snatcher! I technically have and have not met you, but if you're the one who's been carrying my coin then my Shadow must have taken a shining to you. I hope he wasn't too maddening, it's one of our major flaws. We'll need to talk further about that coin, so make sure you hold on to it." He flipped it to her, and the faces were blank.

He turned to the rest of the room and his voice seemed to grow resonant. "As for the rest of you," Slowly at first, then more rapidly, afterimages seemed to sprout from his back. Ghostly figures, whispering softly reaching out with intangible limbs. People of all ages and origins, forming a growing crowd that seemed anchored to the Stranger. Then it was creatures, both familiar and alien; a myriad of wings, claws, and tentacles. The chitinous head of a chasmfiend roared silently, it's translucent head reaching above the crowd. There were too many to count, a vortex of soul fragments straining to be free. 

Then they vanished, disappearing in an instant. The Stranger grinned. 

"I am the Stranger, and I'm pleased to make your acquaintances. Now, " He turned back to Voidus with an attentive look "I believe I've been gone for a year or two. Maybe four. I was working with ridiculous chronocompression levels. It's been intensely challenging, but all the more rewarding because of that. You really liked the end result. Anyways, what did I miss? What requires so many fine bakers to gather here today? Is it time for cookies?" 

 @Voidus @MacThorstenson @ZincAboutIt

Edited by Fatebreaker
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KanMien walked in, with Kumiko trailing behind them. They sat down at the periphery of the group, eating a cookie. "Why aren't there any chairs here," Kumiko grumbled. "Also, why did we need to walk all this way, why not have the meeting in a more nearby place?"
"Because it's important," KanMien told her, and sighed. "Also, keep in mind at least half the people here are powerful enough to be similar to gods, so don't do anything stupid this time."
"Alright," Kumiko said, and sat down as well, tail swishing around in annoyance.

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Posted (edited)

Nultūk stood in the back corner, deep in the shadows where no one could see him. He had been waiting there for hours, waiting for this meeting to start. He didn't have the faintest idea what the Dark Alley was up too, but Nultūk had to know. His oaths to his spren and own personal drive led him to where ever action, and knowledge, were, and he didn't want to miss anything happening in the Alleyverse. Not to mention the fact that this was the original Alley, something he had never seen before. Nultūk waited, and then saw a man appear, unrecognizable to his eyes. He watched with surprise when glowing people started to leave the man, and then... things. Monsters. Nultūk took a more steps back into the shadow, he was getting too close to the light for comfort. He knew how powerful most everyone here was, and knew that they would not like an unexpected visitor.

Edited by Truthless of Shinovar
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48 minutes ago, Truthless of Shinovar said:

Nultūk stood in the back corner, deep in the shadows where no one could see him. He had been waiting there for hours, waiting for this meeting to start. He didn't have the faintest idea what the Dark Alley was up too, but Nultūk had to know. His oaths to his spren and own personal drive led him to where ever action, and knowledge, were, and he didn't want to miss anything happening in the Alleyverse. Not to mention the fact that this was the original Alley, something he had never seen before. Nultūk waited, and then saw a man appear, unrecognizable to his eyes. He watched with surprise when glowing people started to leave the man, and then... things. Monsters. Nultūk took a more steps back into the shadow, he was getting too close to the light for comfort. He knew how powerful most everyone here was, and knew that they would not like an unexpected visitor.

Quote

How did a non-DA member get into the heart of the alleys? He should have been killed by one thing or the other long before ever reaching Alley 0.

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His speciality is stealth; he's got a specific boon from the Nightwatcher that helps him sneak around places. Don't worry, he's not really a threat, he's more just here to listen

 

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Kumiko sniffed, and turned to KanMien. "Hey, Kan," she said. "What is it? Also, what is with that nickname" KanMien replied, slightly annoyed by the nickname.
"I smell something weird," she said, switching to dog form to enhance her sense of smell.
"Probably one of the others," KanMien replied. "I'm sure at least one of them will have spike that changes their smell."
"It doesn't seem to come from them though," she said, sounding curious. She stood up, and started walking in the direction of the smell.
KanMien sighed. "Sit back down," they said. "It's not important."
"Alright," Kumiko said in a annoyed tone, and sat back down, throwing glances at the direction the smell came from, though she didn't see anything.

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The Stranger tilted his head almost imperceptibly, then snapped his fingers. In an instant the air around the intruders limbs and face were soulcast into steel, forming restraints and a gag would prevent speech. He then burned the tiniest bit of iron and dragged the man into the center of the room. With a casual air he reached out with his left hand and lashed the man to the floor a dozen times over, while his right drew aons that would prevent any sort of teleportation. 

“Congratulations you’ve been selected to sample some of our signature Dark Alley products! Could I interest you in a chocolate wafer?”

He pulled a copper spike from his pocket and pushed it through his captives shoulder. It went through like a javelin through a juice box: with a wet sound. He pulled it out the other side and dropped it into a vial, which disappeared into his coat.

“I’ve taken the liberty of ‘borrowing’ this fellows mind. We can decide what to do to him later. Now, where were we?”

 

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I was thinking of barging in, but now... :)

 

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