A Tale of the Invasion ((Story))




((Hi! My last foray into this place met with some sharp self-criticism, but I wanted to try again. Here goes! This is a tale of the Rikti Invasion, seen from the eyes of Evanesce, my Dark Melee/Ninjitsu Stalker.))

"I heeeaaaard Evanessssce is seaaarching for usss," the Wailer said, its high pitched voice echoing with malice.

"Yeeeeeess. I thirst for her soul!"

Four Wailers were perched on the corner of a building in St. Martial. Occasionally one of them would cast its overly large eye longingly towards the Golden Giza in the distance, and hiss in a low voice. It almost sounded like a threat to thin air: "We're coooooming, Johnny."

Unbeknownst to the Wailers, Evanesce had already found them; she was listening to their mad, babbling voices from the shadows above. Though quite invisible, she wore a rather revealing black top, with black shorts. Her green eyes were an oddity; they seemed to flicker and dance as though they were wrought of living flame. Her shoulder-length hair was jet black, and swayed gently in the wind. A shimmering blue light, hardly perceptible to most people, surrounded her entire body, becoming more pronounced if she moved. Her gloves were metallic, and had a menacing air surrounding them. Young, slim and reasonably attractive, she did not look like a villain; in fact, she didn't consider herself one. She wasn't particularly vicious or coldhearted, but she swore that soft spot in her heart would not stop her rise to power.

Hardcase, that silly, overprotective fool, had contracted her to remove the threat of a pocket of Wailers from the area. That meant the elimination of what was thought to be their leader, a Wailer known as Silvertongue. The problem was, noone knew where the blasted creature was. That meant yet another hunt in the name of information. She sighed, and readied herself for a battle.

A slight thump was heard as she descended.

"I heeaard something! Evanesce is approooach--" but the Wailer never finished its sentence. A jet of white light streamed forth to the skies as its essence was sucked forcibly from its body. Curiously enough, the 'essence' had a strange colour, swiftly shifting from purple to red and back again across the entire E.M. spectrum...

But the Wailers were prepared for just such an attack. A piercingly high pitched sound came from their hellish mouths, and Evanesce knew a brief moment of pain, which she recovered from nearly instantly. The Wailers' eyes blinked, wondering why she recovered so easily.

Evanesce threw a punch at another Wailer, aiming carefully for its eye. Her fist shrouded in darkness, it connected with a soft 'splurch' sound. Another fountain of light from the Wailer, and it fell from its perch some twenty-four floors, landing with a sickening crunch.

The third target was slain in the same manner, falling to the ground near the other demon.

Turning towards the last Wailer, Evanesce raised both of her arms to the sky, and cried aloud to the night in a strange tongue: "Ayalashilae!"

Dark tentacles erupted from underneath the last of the Wailers, wrapping themselves tightly around it. It struggled weakly, trying to find a means of escape from the crushing black tentacles.

"Where is Silvertongue?" Evanesce asked with a smooth voice. The sky was swiftly turning a pale shade of green, she noted...

"Pathetic huuuuman! Weeee do not seeeell our brethren to preeeeeey!" the Wailer spat; it could only be called an act of bravery amongst demons.

"Very well," she sighed. Drawing back her fist, she readied her blow which would destroy the Wailer.

A sudden beam of green light erupted out of nowhere, incinerating the Wailer; the black tentacles withdrew instantly into nothingness. The Wailer swayed a moment, then fell to its knees, its eye blinking pitifully.

Evanesce leapt back, looking up. What the hell was that? she thought. And the answer to that question was flying at a slow, leisurely pace directly above her.

A large, black vessel was flying across the sky. Another burst of the strange green light to a lone Arachnos soldier on the ground (incinerating him instantly too), and Evanesce realized that it must be Rikti, or built with Rikti technology. Evanesce could not help but admire the awesome power in the technology. But what were the Rikti doing here? And where did they manage to build this ship? They never used any of these in the Invasion.

A terrifyingly loud explosion rent the air, knocking Evanesce off balance and ending her musings. Oh, she thought, it must be dropping bombs. And indeed, on closer inspection, Rikti bombs were pouring from the Dropship like they were a dime-a-dozen, materializing a few feet beyond the hull of the vessel with the distinctive shimmering of Rikti portal technology. It reminded Evanesce of those old World War II videos, with the Allied bombers destroying Hitler's constantly dwindling infrastructure with carpet bombings.

Another loud explosion, and another. Evanesce knew she couldn't stay here forever; the bombs were approaching. She felt certain that those bombs were more lethal than anything she had ever experienced. She leapt high into the air, her intended target another building--

Agony such as she had never known filled her senses as the same beam of green light tore through her skin, burning her frail figure. The pain of it filled her entire body, wrapping around her flesh. She felt as though every single bone in her body had burst into needle-sharp splinters. Feebly, she interlocked her fingers, speaking in that same voice in that same strange tongue. As she fell to the ground, a bright green light surrounded her hands, spreading throughout her body. The last thing she saw before crashing into the pavement below was an entire fleet of Dropships flying in formation ...

To be continued.

((Thought you guys might find this enjoyable. ))



This is really doom.



((Tiny, mild spoiler involving what the Rikti are at the very bottom. Don't read unless you have "Omega Clearance", if you know what I mean. ))

Evanesce noted an odd, shimmering sound as she regained consciousness. Sitting up slowly, she took stock of her surroundings...

And found herself face to face with a strange new Rikti weapon; it resembled a battle axe with glowing edges, but with what could only be a Rikti rifle embedded in the core... She sat there, still throbbing from the Dropship's energy ray, unable to take any action against the lone Rikti, unprepared and vulnerable as she was. Hmm, she thought, I wonder what Death will be like..., as she prepared herself for the inevitable plasma burst that would end her existence.

But Death had other plans for her. The gas tank on a nearby burning car finally exploded, spewing burning liquid in every direction. A disk-shaped shard of metal from the car came hurtling through the air like a frisbee, and sliced through the Rikti holding the plasma rifle. It nearly severed the Rikti's head from its neck, such was its power. The Rikti made a small gurgling noise, and fell to the ground with a crunch.

One of those small, weak Rikti, Evanesce noted, slowly erecting herself from the cracked and burnt concrete. Looking around, she noted similar devastation everywhere. She must've been unconscious for several minutes. Another of those new, strange Rikti vessels was flying in the distance, still emptying itself of ordinance. As she watched it, a beam of red light sprang from the Arachnos Fort, connecting with the Dropship, and another, and another, until thirteen red lights were concentrated on it. Mu?.

Yep, Mu, she thought. Was that the flicker of Hope building inside her? Surely not... Arachnos were even worse than Rikti...

And she watched as the Rikti ship began radiating a crimson light, growing more and more intense, until finally what was clearly its propulsions systems were blown from it. The Dropship nose-dived ever-so-slowly, finally disappearing from Evanesce's view behind a building. She felt the ground shake from the earth-shattering explosion as the Dropship connected with the Earth.

And then came the retaliation. Four more Dropships came into sight from behind the same building, and Evanesce watched as the Arachnos Fort was incinerated by four highly advanced green rays of light that were easily the match of the red, magical ones. My God, I have got to get me one of them... she thought, with a small chuckle to hide her horror from herself. Not that the deaths of hundreds of Arachnos soldiers meant much to her; on the contrary. But the Rikti were now her enemies, and any victory against them was a victory for her, too. They dared to set fire to her flesh, a fire so intense she felt she may never be able to forget the pain of it. She had tolerated their presence for too long on her world. And now... now they must be driven back to their own world.

But they were leaving. Now, at last, they were leaving. The Rikti vessels were slowly turning north, heading out of St. Martial in a long, single-file formation, still incinerating anything nearby with that deadly ray. Isn't that the direction of Paragon City?

Yes, she mused. I'd heard of a crashed Rikti saucer somewhere up there. Suppose I should pay Paragon City a visit.

Evanesce did not think the Rikti would be capable of building such advanced technology here on Earth, scattered and broken as they were. And where did that new battle-axe thing come from that the Rikti had been brandishing? Everyone knew the tale of Hero-1 and his selfless sacrifice for the entire world, travelling to the Rikti Homeworld to seal the barrier between worlds. Most of the people she'd spoken with could only conclude the barrier was magical in nature, sealing this world off from the vastly superior Rikti Portal technology with a technologically unbreakable barrier. Which didn't make much sense to Evanesce... perhaps they were simply dependent on Portal technology. Perhaps this new Rikti Invasion was simply the second wave that the Rikti had sent however long ago, the "clean-up wave". Whatever the answer, Evanesce felt sure the Rikti Crash Site in Paragon City would contain the answers.

((I know the Rikti aren't "aliens"! But Evanesce doesn't, since she lacks Omega Clearance. Stay tuned! More on the way!))



This is really doom.





"Yes, Evanesce. We're the first, middle, and last defense this world has against the Rikti threat. If you're interested in fighting the Rikti, We're where the action is. Always. If you feel you're powerful enough to fight the Rikti, go speak with Levantera. She's in Our base."

"Where's that?" asked Evanesce, idly kicking a fallen Rikti at her feet.

"South of here. There's an old boarded up hospital in the area. The Vanguard base is north of that. You'll know where the entrance is; it'll have two very large machines that we call 'HVAC' standing guard. If you move slowly and deliberately, they shouldn't blast you to Hell.

"Also, I'm curious, Evanesce... how did you make it into the Warzone without entering our base? The Shield's been saying that's impossible for weeks."

Evanesce shrugged. "Rikti Portal technology is astounding, isn't it," came the enigmatic reply.

She had found, entered, and came out of a Rikti Portal into a small, underground tunnel that seemed devoid of all life. Barren of technology, it was little more than a glorified hole in the ground that she had crawled out of. Surely they hadn't built those horrifying and powerful Dropships out of the dust?

But now, Evanesce was standing in a small, smoking crater, the bodies of Rikti scattered about, her latest victims. A lone female Vanguard soldier was examining the bodies. She was fully armoured in gleaming metal, her face hidden behind a grey, metallic mask. Must be Impervium, she thought. The hardest metal on Earth, it was also said to be extremely expensive. If all Vanguard soldiers are armoured like this, it's no wonder the Rikti have been kept down for so long...

Ah well. I wonder who this Levantera chick is. Suppose I should meet her.

Evanesce sprang into the air, leaping from building to building in a southward direction, heard the distant whine of a Rikti plasma rifle, and, looking back, saw a swarm of missiles heading towards the crater she once occupied. The Vanguard soldier was blasted by the Rikti missiles, knocking her instantly off her feet...

But she got up instantly, and trotted off behind a building, limping slightly. Evanesce stood rooted to the spot, aghast at the Impervium's level of durability. I want some of that...

Leaping to another building, Evanesce noted a large, blackened complex in the distance. Missile turrets glinted in the distance. The Vanguard base was a model of efficiency, with Impervium-cloaked soldiers scurrying about like ants. Evanesce was struck by a sudden confidence in this army. The Vanguard base looked like an impenetrable bastion of hope, radiating power; an awe-inspiring sight for a human; a dread-inspiring one for a Rikti.

Landing on the ground, she straightened up, and slowly approached the HVACs, making sure to become visible to them; no telling what the Vanguard would think of her attempting to approach them while invisible. Their robotic heads swiveled towards her as she approached, carefully and cautiously. A small dart impaled her, but she felt no pain. A small, reassuring beeping came instantly as she plucked the little thing from her arm and tossed it to the ground.

"Hi!" said a woman dressed in a strange outfit of purple and gold. "I'm Levantera. Forgive the dart, it's just to ensure you're not one of Them trying to infiltrate Us with a plasma bomb. Happened to Us one time. The Lady Grey was quite disappointed in Us. But come! Who are you, and how did you get into this area?"

"I am Evanesce. The Rikti were bombing St. Martial the other day. One of those new bombers they've got managed to take me out, so I figured I should come join the fight. I entered a Rikti Portal, and wound up in this place. Still missing a chunk of my hair from that blasted Portal," she sighed. "You're Levantera, eh?"

"That's right. I'm with Vanguard. We've heard of you, of course, but getting an accurate description is a little hard. Anyway, you're on the List the Lady Grey passed around. I would like to offer you membership into Vanguard. We could use the help of anyone. Especially people like yourself. If the dossier We've got on you is correct, your particular powers will be very effective against the Rikti," she said, looking Evanesce over very subtlely, taking a few notes on a clipboard.

"I'd like that. Though I must ask: Does every Vanguard member get Impervium armour?" Evanesce said, a trace of a smile on her face.

"Hah, not everyone. We generally let our superpowered types prove themselves before outfitting them with Impervium. Stuff is just too costly, even to fight Rikti. Anyway, listen, if you're going to be in Vanguard, you need to learn how We work. My sister, Borea, will get you started on that. Do what she tells you. She'll be further inside the Vanguard base," Levantera pointed into the yawning chasm that was the entrance to the Vanguard base. A green light was emanating from below a dip, further in.

"What's that green light?" Evanesce asked, pointing inward.

"Oh, the Front Door? Just place your hand on it. It'll take you into Our secure subterranean compound," she said, and trotted off towards a group of gleaming Vanguard soldiers.

Evanesce nodded her head at Levantera, and walked slowly into the base, examining every inch of it; this would be her home for quite some time. Noone spoke; the atmosphere seemed rather subdued, despite the hustle and bustle Evanesce had noted before. She walked towards the 'Front Door', a shimmering pillar of green energy, and placed her hand on it. Another beeping sound, and Evanesce was sucked into a black, empty void; a moment later, she reappeared, her skin tingling eerily.

She was standing in another dip, but beyond she could see a well-lit hallway. Evanesce climbed up the short stairway, and was illuminated by the bright lights arrayed along the corridor. Looking around, she noticed there were many purple cloth drapes spaced in between the lights, with the silver Vanguard symbol coloured in. It was a proud organization she was in. Professionals, all of them. Evanesce was again moved by the feeling of confidence, though she did not know why.

In the distance, she saw a girl clothed like Levantera, but her strange attire was purple and silver. Evanesce approached Borea, who was hurriedly writing on a clipboard.

"Hi," said Evanesce, nodding her head. "I'm Evanesce. Levantera told me--"

"To come talk to me? Doesn't that girl know I'm busy? Oh very well. Listen, I'm Borea, as you probably already know. It's nice to have you in Our organization. I help to coordinate Vanguard activity in this war zone. Always something to do, really. So if you come speak to me once in a while, I can probably have you doing something within a few minutes, even if it's just being a superpowered courier," she said, with a small chuckle. "Hey, tell ya what. I was going to send a squad out for it, but I can use you instead. Can you go kill a few Rikti?"

"With pleasure," Evanesce said, and trotted off towards the 'Front Door' again. She was very eager to be in action again, to prove herself to these professionals...

She didn't even notice that she had never, ever wanted to prove herself to anyone but herself...

((More on the way!))



This is really doom.



"You cannot: Win: Human! Demand: Surrender!" the Rikti spoke, speaking in an electronic, monotonous voice that sounded strangely artificial. It was fully armoured in blue Rikti alloy, and wielded a deadly-looking energy axe.

Evanesce did not respond. Instead, she stared into the only non-armoured spot on the Rikti: its eyes, which were a dull red. Hatred was in her eyes as she called aloud in that strange and alien tongue, "Khashinililia!", and slammed her fist into the Chief Soldier, a being over twice her height and many times her strength. But the spell ensured that the hand did not make contact with the Rikti armour.

A dull black light was ejected from the Rikti as Evanesce withdrew her temporarily ethereal and transparent fist. It quickly returned to a solid state as the spell wore off. She gasped as the pain crept up her arm, the pain she knew would come from using such a spell. The Rikti still stood, swaying slightly in the breeze, but its eyes were empty and unseeing. Its axe fell to the ground, the green energy it used to emanate slowly evaporating into the air. Evanesce stooped to pick it up...

A shimmering circle of light, an agonizing pain, a feeling of desperation, even of fear...

"No!" she screamed, letting the axe drop. The Rikti was still swaying precariously; the axe still losing its energy. Flashback, she theorized. These Rikti are so mentally powerful that it must leave a psychic imprint on their machines.

Evanesce sighed, and interlocked her fingers, mumbling a strange chant with her eyes closed. Two jets of purple light began circling around and around her thin body, shimmering and dancing about as it wove its way slowly upward, both on opposite sides of her body. The climax of the spell occurred, and the lights entered her eyes as she opened them. They glowed bright pink for a moment before settling back down to the usual green. Those who are familiar with Magic might recognize that she had just performed a powerful Ninja spell known as "Kuji-In Rin", one of the Nine Cuts that that ancient group of people had mastered so well.

She again stooped to pick up the piece of machinery. As her fingers again closed around the cold metal, she could feel the alien thoughts probe at her mind, like little fingers trying to open a window. But the window was secured, and no psychic flashback occurred this time as Evanesce hefted the heavy weapon over her shoulder, and walked slowly back towards the Vanguard base, having slain several Rikti and captured a genuine Rikti energy weapon. The Vanguard probably had multiple weapons like this around, but it never hurt to have extras. Perhaps she could even find some use for it.

A distant explosion... the rat-tat-tat of an assault rifle... the whine of a plasma rifle... a weak, incomprehensible scream... the Warzone was busy today. She was walking down a charred street, with large cracks running down the left side. A line of warehouses on her right, an open plain to her left, and the Vanguard base a few hundred yards forward. Evanesce paused as a Vanguard soldier came scurrying from behind the corner of the warehouse, trotting towards her. She was small, completely armoured... and carrying a black staff.

"Hello!" Evanesce shouted, waving her free hand.

The Vanguard soldier instantly raised her staff, and slammed it to the Earth. A perceptible shockwave emanated from the location where the staff hit, cracking the already stressed asphalt of the road. The spell apparently satisfied the Vanguard soldier that Evanesce was not a Rikti, as she spoke:

"You are human, but why do you carry a Rikti weapon?" she asked, pointing her staff at Evanesce menacingly as she cautiously approached.

"I captured it. Miss Borea asked me to engage the Rikti. This axe-thing is something I wish to study, as it is not like any Rikti weapon I've seen until recently," Evanesce said, glancing at the weapon.

"Very well. Listen, I'm Cassandra. Call me Cassie. I'm with the Vanguard Magical branch, with the rank of "Wizard". Who are you?" she asked, removing her facial armour, revealing long, dark brown hair and a very beautiful, young face. She trotted forward to shake Evanesce's hand.

"I'm Evanesce," she said, as their hands met. "I recently signed on with Vanguard."

"There was a Rikti commander known to be in the vicinity. Have you seen him? I was given the task of assassinating him." Cassandra asked in a very business-like manner.

"Perhaps. Could you give a description?" Evanesce said, wondering if the owner of her new Rikti axe used to be a Rikti commander.

"He was just an average Chief Soldier, rather tall. I was told he'd be the one in blue armour," Cassandra said.

"Ah. He was the owner of this axe. I think I performed your task for you."

"Then I must be away. That Soldier is reputed to be the architect behind the Rikti attempt to regain control of this sector. He'll undoubtedly have documents on him," Cassandra said, a momentary worry marring her attractive face.

Evanesce told Cassandra where she had slain the Rikti, and they said their goodbyes. Evanesce set off again towards the Vanguard base, carrying her trophy. She was smiling slightly.

((More on the way! Do y'all like it so far? ))



This is really doom.



((Finally finishing up the cursed delivery missions this time. heehee))

Evanesce trotted swiftly towards the base of the blackened Vanguard walls, the sinking sun casting a blood-red glow into the sky. Turning into a small gap in the concrete, she slowed to a fast walk, and headed towards the entrance to the now-familiar compound--


A small explosion, centered onto one of the Vanguard missile turrets, shook the dark walls. A piece of shrapnel narrowly missed Evanesce as she dropped her Rikti axe and ducked for cover, as another explosion, and still another, destroyed more of the hastily erected turrets.

Christ, an attack. Don't these suckers ever learn?

Then they came. First one light, then another, then dozens more appeared, with Rikti infantry teleporting into the base, each diving into the prone position and firing their plasma rifles at the compound entrance. A large swirling vortex announced the arrival of a Rikti vehicle. Looks like one of their old hover tanks, Evanesce thought, remembering the first Invasion. It had a turret top with a mounted plasma cannon, and hovered over the ground motionless as it slowly materialized; 'porting in large objects is a problem for you, isn't it, Evanesce thought with a smile. About fifteen feet tall and twice its height in length, and fully armoured in advanced Rikti alloys, it was a machine built for war. As it materialized, its cannon was already swiveling towards the compound--

But the Vanguard were ready, as always. Evanesce watched from the shadows as the assault was repelled, realizing yet again her confidence in these people, with their astounding firepower and skill. From the roof of the compound, riflemen fired advanced machine-guns into the prone Rikti, cutting through their armour with magically enhanced rounds designed to exploit the Rikti's technological dependency. The Vanguard HVAS' slowly raised their mechanical arms in unison, building a tremendous burst of energy; they fired simultaneously, utterly destroying the outdated Hover Tank, and creating a tiny nuclear explosion right at the entrance. A smoking crater and scattered debris, thrown upwards of a hundred yards in all directions, was all that was left of the Rikti machine.

But one of the Rikti soldiers, one larger than all the others and obviously the commander, managed to survive both the explosion and the machine gunners. He raised his left arm, tapped the forearm with his right hand, and Evanesce felt a burst of psychic energy as the Rikti committed suicide. An alien voice echoed in her mind: "For: Homeworld; Family," and the Rikti collapsed.

Tick. Tick. Tick.


And yet another explosion shattered the calm as the Rikti detonated himself. One of the Vanguard riflemen was knocked off the roof from the force of the blast, and fell thirty feet to the ground with a sickening crunch. He tried to sit up, but collapsed onto the ground with another crunch. Evanesce sprinted towards the soldier, seemingly unharmed by the chaos, and stooped next to him.

"I.. I can help you. Sit still, will you?" she said, roughly taking off the soldier's impervium face helmet.

She began a chant, and placed her index finger on his forehead. Her voice shook as the spell worked its magic, spreading a faint green light from her finger towards the cracked ribs and spine of the fallen soldier. As it seemed into the skin, the soldier gasped.

"Be.. better, thanks," he said, smiling weakly.

Evanesce stood up, looked at the soldier, and turned her back, wondering at herself. She sighed, and thought, I just want to see the end of the Rikti. These people are a means towards that end.

Retrieving her trophy, she again walked towards the compound, wondering how many times this journey will be interrupted. As she approached the entrance to the Compound, she noticed the HVAS' were a smoking pile of junk, destroyed by the Rikti's suicidal self-detonation. She wondered about that. Were the Rikti really that fanatical about conquering this planet? She found it hard to believe any race would sacrifice themselves in order to win the ownership of a planet.

She reached the "Front Door", and placed her hand on the shimmering green light. Once more, she found herself in the compound. It was, like last time, a hive of activity, but this time, everyone was talking in a hurried tone. Evanesce caught sight of Borea, who was again scribbling on a notepad. She approached her.

"Hello," she said.

"Hello! Have you slain the Rikti?" Borea responded, not looking up from her clipboard.

"Yes, and I managed to acquire this," Evanesce said, lifting the Rikti axe off her shoulder.

Borea looked up, and caught side of the trophy. "Oh, interesting. We're always trying to acquire the newest Rikti technology, for obvious reasons."

"Is there anyone in particular I should hand it off to?" Evanesce asked, not entirely pleased with giving up her new trophy.

"Oh, yes. Take it to the Serpent Drummer. He's right over there," Borea said, pointing towards a small man in a green robe, and looking back down at her clipboard. "He'll also be able to tell you more about Vanguard; always helps to know about your new organization, right?"

Evanesce said her goodbyes, and walked slowly towards the man in the green robes, who was sitting cross-legged near an indoor firing range. Serpent Drummer? Interesting handle, she thought, a level of amusement crossing her mind.

Walking up to the man, she said, "Hello; Delivery from the warfront."

Serpent Drummer opened his eyes, and looked first at the axe, then at Evanesce. "Ah, hello. I heard you had joined Vanguard. To be honest, I was quite shocked. Anyway, I'll take that from you," he spoke, his voice shockingly calm, even for normal conversation, and stretched out his hand towards the axe.

Evanesce placed it into his hands, wondering if he would feel the same psychic shock she felt. But he was either prepared for it, or did not experience it, as he took the axe from her hand with no more than a grunt; it was a heavy machine, after all.

"Anyway, Evanesce, I am the Serpent Drummer. I run the Gauntlet, the branch of Vanguard charged with our assault on the Rikti themselves. We may work together in the future, but now is not the time. Go speak with Gaussian; he is over there," he finished, pointing towards an average-looking man in silver garments, who was slowly walking towards the other end of the compound.

"As you wish. Farewell," Evanesce said to the strange man, and hurried off towards the silver-clad man.

As she followed Gaussian, she noticed that he looked around him as he walked, almost in a suspicious manner. He was walking towards a darkened bay that housed a lone, deactivated HVAS; a technician was tending to the machine.

As Gaussian descended the short steps into the bay, he spoke, saying "Hello, Evanesce," as he turned to face her.

"Hello," she said, startled. She wasn't used to having her presence detected that easily, even visible as she was.

"So, you've joined Us. What do you think so far?" he said, staring into her eyes.

"Vanguard is a very interesting organization. You people certainly know how to fight," she said.

"Ah yes. The ordeal that occurred earlier is, no doubt, still fresh in your mind. You probably don't realize it, but that is a very common occurance here. I'd get used to it if I were you.

"Moving on; I heard Drummer send you my way. The Vanguard has four main divisions; the Helm, the Gauntlet, the Shield, and the Herald. The Herald is Our public relations division. Incandescent runs it. I'd introduce you, but she's off in New York, working with the U.N. The Shield has shared leadership, under Borea and Levantera. They help to coordinate our defense, and keep us from being overran. Poor girls, sometimes I think they were shouldered with too much responsibility," Gaussian said, talking rather quickly.

"And you are assigned where, exactly?" Evanesce asked, interrupting Gaussian's ramblings.

"That, I'm afraid, is a story for another time," he responded with a smile. Bloody spooks, they always say that, Evanesce thought.

"As I was saying, the Gauntlet is Drummer's organization. He coordinates Our more offensive efforts, and helps to coordinate the more, ah, talented folks in Our organization in the never-ending battle against the Rikti's crashed Mothership. I'm sure you've seen it," Gaussian spoke, while the lab technician servicing the HVAS started to activate it a few yards away. Gaussian paused, watching the heavy machine power up.

"The Helm is, naturally enough, the intelligence division. The Dark Watcher himself leads that. They, with his expertise, help to establish the necessary information on containing the Rikti threat," he continued. Ah, so you're one of THOSE spooks, aren't you, Gaussie.

"The Lady Grey is the leader of the Vanguard. She's very old, older even than Statesman and Recluse, and is very well connected with many influential people. If it weren't for her, I think we would all be dead, or worse," he finished. A sudden beeping from Gaussian's helm piqued Evanesce's curiosity, but she contained it.

"The Dark Watcher wishes to speak to you. Please go visit him; he's in R&D, over there," he finished, pointing towards a short flight of stairs.

Evanesce, weighted down with the new information, merely turned towards the Research and Development center, and strode casually up the steps. Dark Watcher, eh?

As she went up the stairs and into a narrow tunnel leading towards the R&D facility, she caught sight of a strange, cloaked man, clothed in black. As she approached, she got the feeling that this man radiated tremendous power.

"Evanesce. Well, it's nice to see you," he said. His face was scarred, and he was staring intently into a small medical facility. Evanesce noted with disgust that a dead Rikti was being slowly dissected.

"Hello," she said, wondering what this enigmatic man would have to say to her.

"I've studied the Rikti longer than you've been alive, girl. If you know what to look for, you can find out any number of things about them. Why they invaded, what they are; everything is out there. Now, if you're curious, and wish to save two worlds from disaster, then you and I may have work to do in the future. But for now, I must ask that you speak with the Lady Grey, and for you to work for others while events unfold," he said, never looking at her.

"Very well. Farewell," she said, curious at the man's odd demeanor. Evanesce was definitely interested. She knew so very little about the Rikti.

Evanesce walked about the compound, searching for the Lady Grey. She caught sight of a lone, leather-clad female, very young, with a rather sweet, girlish face; except the eyes, which were a profound baby-blue colour. As she approached her to ask for the location of this Lady Grey, the woman spoke.

"Greetings, Evanesce. I am Lady Elizabeth Grey," she said. Calmness was etched deeply into every syllable of her words. It gave her an almost-monotone voice.

"You are Lady Grey, then? Most interesting. I was told you were rather--"

"Old?" both chuckled. "It is an honour to welcome you to the Vanguard, Evanesce. Though I must ask, exactly what is your name? I'm afraid that is a requirement for Vanguard membership."

"My name?" Evanesce said, slightly hesitant. Ah well. I doubt giving them my name would do any harm. "I am Melissa Evans."

"Ms. Evans. It is nice to meet you. Undoubtedly you shall prove to be a powerful ally. I have heard of your past exploits, and know of your recent services to Vanguard. Impressive, to say the least. However, I must insist that you speak with Levantera again. I hear she has a task specifically suited for you," the Lady Grey said, that odd calmness filling her voice once more.

"It was nice to meet you too. Farewell," Evanesce said, and turned away.



This is really doom.