The Iliad Files is a story written by Pyro Enterprises as a sequel to Iliad Online, starring newcomer character Osuna Meadows alongside the game's original cast in an attempt to flesh out the characters more, providing deeper personalities for them.

The writer has also stated the story is intended to set up a future project, though the identity of this project is currently unknown.

Transcript

Chapter 1: Introductions

The scene opens in an office elevator, a gloved hand pressing the button labelled “penthouse”. The door closes as the woman inside breathes deeply, the folders and papers in her arms rustling. She clears her throat as she prepares a speech to herself.

Osuna: Hello there! My name is Osuna Meadows, and I’ve been assigned to the Iliad Organization! I’m so excited to be finally... No. No, it’s too informal. Too peppy. They’re not going to like that... Greetings. I am Osuna Meadows, CBPR agent. I’ve been assigned to the Iliad Organization effective immediately. It is my pleasure to finally be... No, that might be too informal. Hrmmm...

The bell rung, signifying she had reached the door of the penthouse suite. Osuna straightened her ascot as she stood in front of the door. Her superior had finally given her the go-ahead. She was joining the Iliad Organization.

She had only heard tales of these heroes. A few years ago, when the world was being threatened by some winged monster from beyond the stars, a ragtag band of heroes from across the world united to fight it off. They won... Earth had been saved. Since then, the group had officially been given a designation and made into a full government agency.

The Iliad Organization- when the world is threatened, the world fights back.

She clutched the Bladedrive in her hand. This weapon- this was the extraordinary talent her superior had seen in her, the thing that he believed would let her finally join Iliad's rankings. Her heart raced as she knocked on the door. What kind of people would they be like? They had to be respectable, serious folk, if the stories were true. She hoped they'd be okay with her...

???: Pasami's here, guys!

???: I'll get it.

Pasami? Wait, what-

Osuna watched as the door was opened by a tall, muscular man in a red hat and coat. This must have been Ronin Johansson- RoJo, as everyone called him. He was a little intimidating up close...

RoJo: ...I don't think you're the pasami guy.

Osuna couldn't believe it... One of the greatest heroes on the face of the planet was standing right in front of her. She would have screamed with glee if she had still been in her schoolgirl days, but now was not the time. She needed to respond immediately.

Osuna: Oh! H-hi, there! I'm Osuna Meadows! How're you?

Nailed it.

RoJo: Ummm... Are you supposed to be here? Should I call security?

Osuna: Nonononono!

Osuna cleared her throat. This was a serious moment. This was her job, darnit, not a fangirling session.

Osuna: I'm sorry about that outburst, Mr. Johansson. *ahem* My name is Osuna Meadows, agent of the Chiqutan Bureau of Paranormal Response. My superiors have transferred me into a position at the Iliad Organization, effective immediately. It's an honor to meet you, sir.

Ronin looked confused. Did she do something wrong?

RoJo: Transferred? Are the guys upstairs sending in even more people now? Nobody told me about this... I don't mean to be rude or anything, but I didn't think we would be the kind of people who'd need new hires.

Osuna: You are an officially sanctioned government organization, are you not? Why wouldn't you be accepting new hires?

RoJo: ...Fair enough. You sure you're capable of defending yourself, right? We don't want to let in a lady who's not going to be any help in a fight. Fighting is basically what we're here to do and all.

Osuna snapped her fingers. The robotic part of her hand shifted into the familiar form of the Bladedrive cannon as flashes of light flickered into being behind her, bringing out the swords that the device manipulated. A smirk crept across her face as a look of satisfaction crossed Ronin's.

RoJo: Well, this is promising already. C'mon in, the guys'll be excited to see a fresh face around.

Ronin opened the door for her, gesturing for her to step in. This was it, she thought. She was among the greats now. Hopefully, she could live up to the prestigious standards that the illustrious Iliad Organization- the cream of the proverbial crop- had set for her. She was so excited, she could barely contain it.

Time to get to work.


The organization's office was not what Osuna expected at all. It wasn't even an office.

The group apparently had been working out of a large penthouse apartment- she and Rojo had just entered the large family room with couches and a TV, and a wide glass sliding door overlooking a balcony with a pool and hot tub. In the back, she saw an archway leading into a fully furnished kitchen, with somebody in the back opening drawers and making noise. The archway also incorporated a flight of stairs upwards, presumably leading to bedrooms.

She was expecting an office, not a dorm room. Heck, there were people lounging on the couches playing video games at that very moment- definitely not her ideal first impression of her new coworkers.

RoJo: Hayate, Phorine. Get up and say hello to the newest recruit.

The two individuals got up off the couch, letting Osuna get a good look at them. She recognized them almost immediately from the reports she had been given. The kid in the goggles and green shirt with the robotic arm was Hayate, the former pro aeroskater and apparent orphan with mysterious wind manipulation powers. Nobody knew much about him, but Osuna definitely had heard of Phorine before- more accurately, Phosphorine Aquarius, queen of the Aquarid race that had been found in the ocean's depths fairly recently.

She didn't want to be rude. She made a short bow in front of the undersea queen.

Osuna: It is a pleasure to meet you, Queen Phosphorine. You too, Mr. Hayate.

Phorine: Please, just call me Phorine! It's nice to meet you too!

Hayate: Same. But RoJo, you did tell her she could relax a little, right? If this getup is anything to go by, we're way more informal than whatever she was expecting.

RoJo just shrugged in confusion.

RoJo: She just walked in a minute ago! It's not like I knew she was coming beforehand.

Osuna: One would think the CBPR would contact you before I arrived... Are you sure you didn't get a message?

RoJo looked flustered, pulling out a cellphone to seemingly browse through his email. Osuna started to get more and more conflicted about her reassignment by the second- did nobody tell the Iliad Organization that she was being moved in? And why was everyone acting like college students- this isn't the kind of behavior she expected from highly trained government agents at all.

RoJo closed his phone with the same flustered expression. There was no notification at all.

Osuna: Did- Did my superiors not tell you i was being transferred?

RoJo: I guess not. Huh... Well, that makes my earlier confusion understandable, I guess.

Hayate: RoJo, buddy, are you sure this lady's who she says she is? If we don't have proof that somebody transferred her, we don't know if her claims of who she is are true or not.

RoJo: I checked her badge. It's legit, she really does work for the CBPR. Do we have any reason to doubt her story if her background's correct?

Osuna was still confused that nobody bothered informing them that she was coming. Was this just a way to push her out of the CBPR? She was about to object when she felt something wrapping around her leg. She looked down to see Phorine hugging it tightly.

Phorine: If she's really here to stay, then welcome aboard!

Maybe this wouldn't be all that bad.


Phorine lead Osuna upstairs to the place she would be staying. She was definitely concerned about the room itself; she had packed to bring some crucial documents into an office space, not bringing clothes and toiletries into a room in and of itself. But that's exactly what the queen showed her. A fairly large room with multiple beds- presumably for the female members of Iliad- and a large walk-in closet. Only one bed was occupied, and it was being used by a woman talking with someone else on a laptop computer. It looked comfortable enough, she supposed.

Phorine: Is this okay for a room?

Osuna: It's fine, but... I was kind of expecting this place to be more like an office. I haven't packed any clothes, brought over bedding or anything... I don't even have my computer on me!

Phorine: It's okay! We can help move things in later!

Osuna: *giggles* Thank you, Phorine. Oh, uh... Who's that over there?

Phorine: That's Garter! She's just checking in on our friend Dotaka. She went back home to Shiansu after the whole battle with Mosaic, so she's usually not around here. We do still get to talk often, though!

Curiosity piqued, Osuna looked over to check Garter out. She was just as the file described her; an athletic-looking Najan woman with a massive snake tail emerging from her torso. Though she claimed the mutation stemmed from a bite by some magic snake, nobody actually knew what the cause was. All she knew was that Kalna- or Garter, as she was seemingly going by now- made brilliant use of her gift despite hating herself for it.

Eager to listen in on the conversation, Osuna leaned over Garter's shoulder. The other person on the screen was indeed Dotaka, a golem who had been forged in a Shianese temple many years ago and only been reawakened due to Mosaic's arrival. She was kind of cute in a motherly sense- a heavyset woman with bronze skin and a green metal dress and hairtie.

Dotaka: Everything's been great! It's been so much fun finally having children in the temple again! They're so sweet, bless them.

Garter: I'm glad everything's been going well! It's a shame you haven't been able to stay, though. Things have felt a lot less homey with you around...

Dotaka: I'm sorry, dear. I've heard that a lot of organization members haven't been actively lately. Is that true?

Garter: Yeah. Pogo went back home for physical therapy to try and fix his legs, Nyxiel said she had some more important matters to take care of, Phorine and Hildy aren't regularly here because of royal duties... I don't even know where Clove went.

Dotaka: I'm sorry if things seem like they're falling apart over there, but I know the organization really is just one big family. I'm sure things will be- Oh, sorry! I have to go, they're calling me for mealtime. Talk later!

Garter: Bye, Taka.

Garter shut off the laptop and sighed- it seemed like she had been feeling lonely about people leaving. Osuna took the opportunity to say hi, but when she did, Garter jumped up in shock, turning around quickly and making a rattling, hissing noise in the back of her throat.

Garter: WHO ARE YOU?!

Phorine: Garter, it's okay! This is Osuna! She's joining the organization, and I took her up here to get her oriented with the bedroom.

Osuna: (nervously) H-Hello, Ms. Gartera.

Garter: Huh. Well, welcome aboard, Osuna. Gotta tell you up front, I don't deal well with surprises. Bitten people more than once out of reflexes...

Osuna: It's okay! It's nice to be getting a warm welcome- although, this has certainly been a confusing experience so far.

Garter: Has adjusting not been as easy as you expected?

Osuna: Well... First my superiors don't bother telling you people I've been transferred, then the people I assumed were highly trained government agents are basically just lazing around the place I had been told was an office but turned out to be a joint apartment. I'm just... generally conflicted about whether or not this is a good choice.

Garter placed her hand on Osuna's shoulder reassuringly.

Garter: Listen. The Iliad Organization is barely a government agency. We're just a bunch of people with weird powers who decided that they wanted to spend their lives helping others out. If you're that dedicated to helping people out, you're gonna fit right in. Just remind RoJo to help move stuff in later, alright?

Phorine excitedly jumped up and down at the thought of Osuna finally staying and having a new friend. She finally felt at ease with her repositioning; this could work out, she thought. She could fit right alongside these heroes who were so willing to accept her and let her join them.

From down the stairs, she could make out the faint call of "Pasami's here!" from Hayate. Guess she could continue meeting everyone over a toasty meal.

Osuna: Thanks, Garter.


The scene cuts to a foggy night in the middle of the streets, lampposts glowing with light. A lone pink-haired woman in a leather jacket and shades stares across the street, looking over a large building. A brightly lit sign on the front registers it as Capital Hall.

The woman lights a transparent yellow stick of some unknown substance with her fingertip, which radiates a bright cyan and pink energy before burning the stick's tip. Sucking on the stick, she glances all across Capital Hall's front walls, as if attempting to find a point of entrance. As she examines it, a tall, muscular man in a grey trenchcoat slowly walks up to her, standing next to her and turning to face the building as well.

Woman: Evening, Hask.

Hask: Palaso. Infiltration plans going well?

Palaso: We won't need to infiltrate. I'm planning an escape route. We're just going to make our way to the central server until we get the files we need, when we break. No infiltration, no stealth, just rush in fists flying.

Hask: Are you absolutely sure that's such a good idea?

Palaso just smiled as clicked her fingers together, a bright and colorful flare of neon energy erupting from her hands.

Palaso: You really think these idiots are going to be any match for us?

Hask raised and clenched his fist. Palaso's neon light danced off his hand as his powers triggered, changing into the incredibly durable silver metal that he was known for. Underneath that heavy collar, she could tell he was smiling.

Hask: We break tomorrow. 9 sharp, when the fewest amount of people are around. This town has a real nightlife to it.

Palaso took the honey stick out of her mouth and snapped it between her fingers.

Palaso: The nightlife is where I shine, babe.

Chapter 2: Dinner

Deliveryman: ...So that's one large scorpion salsa, one Mintleheim Delight, one pulled cod and herb spread, one meat lover's, two plain, one pineapple and mushroom, one olive, spinach and mushroom, one cheese lover's with chida crust, and a large order of cerulla. Is that it?

RoJo: That's everything. What's the total?

Deliveryman: 85 dollars.

RoJo handed over the money as he picked up the giant stack of pasami boxes in one hand, placing them on the table in the center of the living room. Osuna had finished washing up and was concerned about the source of the money.

Osuna: So where do you guys get the money for a pasami night like this? 85 bucks is a lot for food.

RoJo: *shrug* Government pays us, don't they?

Osuna: You're spending government funds on pasami?

Garter: We're employees, are we not? We're just spending our paychecks.

That was fair. Osuna sat down on the couch as the boxes were opened, RoJo handing her a plain, classic-style pasami.

RoJo: I didn't know what you liked, so I got you a plain one. Hope that's okay.

Osuna: Oh no, it's fine! Thanks for actually going off and ordering one for me, you really didn't have to do that.

Hayate stopped chowing down on the massively gooey cheese lover's pasami he had ordered in order to face her.

Hayate: Hey, no problem! You're one of us now, right?

Osuna: *giggles* Thanks, guys. Oh, but if you don't mind me asking, who's the scorpion one for? Nobody's eating it.

RoJo: Oh, dang, you're right. Bubba! Stark! Leica! Food's here!

Three people emerged from the kitchen, apparently having been back there the entire time. She had read all of their files, but it was still surreal seeing them up close for the first time. The hulking red-skinned brute in the back was Chef Bubba, who apparently operated a retro-style cafe somewhere in the volcanic islands of Baluego called the Hotshot Cafe. Many people suspected that he and the waitresses who worked in the cafe weren't human, but nobody had any proof of such. All her research managed to uncover was that his full name was Beelzebubba.

The pale-skinned woman with the white hair was Alyssa Stark. She used to be a psychiatrist in Orenia's Hushhenge mental asylum, working alongside a project designed to study theoretical concepts of telekinetic powers. At some point, her mind had been assaulted by one of the inmates, granting her ESP of her own but leading to her being locked up, only to break out in an attempt to clear her name when Moasic arrived. Though she wasn't assuming Stark would be wearing a straitjacket like she had been known to do during the invasion, Osuna was shocked to see her in a deep blue evening dress that still confined her hands, having the same massive claws emerging from fabric in the back. Why would she be constraining herself willingly?

The final person emerging from the kitchen had a lot more information behind her; a bookish woman named Leica Minolta, who claimed to be from the future as part of a "Chronal Defense Force". Though the concept of time travel seemed far-fetched, Leica's strange technology, including rocket shoes and a stasis-inducing camera-like weapon, seemed to support her cause. Leica actively provided details about herself to the government in an attempt to repair what she referred to as her "time machine"; only time would tell if her story was true.

Bubba: Eyyyy, when'd the food get here? I'm starvin'!

Stark: Bubba, you're never starving.

Bubba: Touche! Anyways, let's dig in! Hope you got my usual, Red!

RoJo: Scorpion sauce and Chiqutan salsa. Pepperaci sprinkled in. Enjoy, big guy.


The scene shifts to a TV news broadcast as the group sits around the table, eating more food.

Newscaster: Good evening, viewers. I'm Airy Atkins, and this is Nightly News on GNB. Tonight, we come with a special news story concerning wildfire outbreaks in the forests near Chiqutl's capital, the beautiful city of Los Terros. We bring you to our live correspondent, Phillip Rogers. Take it away, Phillip.

Osuna: Do we really have to watch this? It's kind of depressing.

Bubba took a bottle of scarlet red sauce out of his pocket, squirting it directly into his slice of pasami before swallowing it whole.

Bubba: We usually keep the news on, helps us stay up on what the heck's happenin' round the world. Course, the little one doesn't like it either!

Bubba snatched the remote from an eager Phorine's hands, and the latter made a pouting face in response.

Phorine: I wanted to watch something nice...

Leica: You can watch something else after dinner, Phorine. Right now we're trying to see if there's anything to be concerned about.

Phorine just pouted again and started munching on her slice. Osuna assumed now would be a good time to break the ice, introduce herself to the new people. She cleared her throat and turned to face Stark and Leica.

Osuna: Well, it's nice to meet you people! My name is-

Stark: Osuna Delsian Meadows, former CBPR agent, graduated top of her class at Caldis Police Academy. Lost her hand in an accident a few years ago and had it replaced with some weird weapon. Always wanted to get her normal hand back, though.

Osuna called up a small blade out of pure instinct and pointed it directly at Stark. She just felt exposed, startled. This woman was digging through her deepest secrets and they had barely met!

Stark: Joined the force to help out her parents and provide money. Plans backfired, though, and some goons wound up killing them. Money? Fun? No clue, but little Ms. Meadows kept up her studies until she landed a comfortable position as a CPBR field agent. Scared of ghosts, fire, and people digging into her secrets when she doesn't want them too. Was that a nice introduction, Meadows?

Osuna called off the blade as it faded back into oblivion. Her heart was still racing from confusion- how exactly did Stark know so much about her? The answer hit her like a ton of bricks.

Osuna: ...I forgot you had mind reading powers. I'm sorry for lashing out.

Stark just leaned back on the couch, a smug expression on her face.

Stark: Don't mind. I'm not gonna hurt you or anything. I just like messing with people is all. It's a simple joy. Anyways, no need in me giving you an introduction! I know you know plenty about me already.

Leica put her hand on Osuna's shoulder.

Leica: Don't worry about her, Osuna! She's happy to have a newcomer around... She just has a weird way of expressing it, that's all! I'm happy to meet up with you too, it's cool meeting someone else in law enforcement!

Osuna: Thanks, Leica. And thanks for the welcome, Stark! I do appreciate it.

Stark just gave a smug smile in return. She knew exactly what she was doing. Rooming with a psychic would definitely be interesting.

Bubba suddenly let out a massive belch of fire, turning the air in front of him into a smoldering flare. Osuna stared at him cautiously, while everyone else basically ignored it- apparently this was a common thing around here. Osuna decided it would be good to ask Bubba about his background, as nobody seemed to know anything about him back in the CBPR.

Osuna: So what's your deal, Bubba? What do you do other than work a restaurant in one of the least hospitable places on the planet?

Bubba: HA! Inhospitable? The Hotshot Cafe's one of the finest establishments y'all have on this rock! Humans didn't have any idea what taste was until I came down here...

Osuna: Wait, wait, hold up- you're an alien?!

Bubba: Yep, I'm a Divilant. Used to live on the planet Divi, way off on the edge of the galaxy. Things were nice- heck, can you believe I used to be a royal culinarian? Ahhh, that was the life!

RoJo: Then why exactly did you come here, then? Just wanted to give humans a little bit of that "magic spice" you call your overuse of hot sauce?

Bubba: Sadly, no. See, one of those stupid fairy things showed up on Divi and threatened to blow the whole darn thing up. I left in a tiny shuttle with some other royal staff and together, we all landed here on Earth. I took charge and we remade the shuttle into a restaurant! Nowadays, though, I've got a protege heading that place up. Li'l Leila's grown up so fast!

Hayate: So that's why you were so eager to fight Mosaic...

Bubba: Yep! Now, promise me ya won't go blabbin' about this to your old bosses, alright? I already got enough trouble keepin' those dogs offa my back as is!

Osuna: I mean, it's not like I can anymore. Good to finally know about you guys!

Leica: We're glad you're taking the changes so comfortably! Sorry about not having any essentials packed at all- you can borrow ours if you want!

Osuna laughed as Stark picked up one of the pasami boxes and headed off into one of the back rooms.

Stark: I'm heading off, guys. Gonna give Lox his pasami before he starts whining for food.

Osuna: Wait, Lox? As in-

RoJo: Dr. Eisengrad Lox, yes. He was a highly useful ally in the fight against Mosaic, but he sadly has no interest in remaining as an agent of the Iliad Organization.

Stark: Yeah. Guy's been taking online classes day and night trying to earn a teaching degree of all things. He's just sort of crashing here until that day.

Osuna: One would assume a teacher would have a less prestigious tone than both former inventor of the photonic rotodrive and agent of Iliad. Does he really want that?

Leica: If he feels he can make the world better by teaching instead of fighting, who are we to stop him? The Iliad Organization's mission statement on paper is defending the world from global threats- the super high-tier big bads. But realistically, that's not true at all. We kind of just wound up as some kind of family, I guess. We support each other, in day-to-day struggles and in battle.

Phorine: We're like the Revengers!

Leica: *laughs* Phorine, that's just a stupid comic.

Phorine: What, so we're not a group of superpowered people who just happen to live together in a massive skyscraper fighting off the forces of evil?

Leica: I... Er...

Bubba: She's got ya there.

The group started laughing as the news broadcast finished up with a piece about bee population on the rise, saving the species from a hypothetical extinction. Osuna finished up her dinner as Phorine curled up beside her and nodded off. She figured it was time everyone headed off to bed- odd. She had never thought she'd be sleeping on the job here, let alone in a bunk with a bunch of other women.

This day was in no way what she was expecting.

But she was excited for whatever came next.


Palaso: This is Flair to Relay. Come in, Relay.

The familiar crackling and grunting sounds transferred over Palaso's cellphone. It was dead, as instructed. No government agency could track a dead, broken phone. With Relay's powers, though, it was no issue at all.

Relay: Hnnn... This is- GUH! ...Relay. Request your line... please...

Palaso: Hook me up with Tyrant. Make it snappy.

Relay shouted in pin as static filtered through the phone. Within seconds, she was on the line with Tyrant. He was going to be proud.

"Tyrant": Ah, hello, Dalia. I expect your plans to infiltrate the building along with Hask are progressing smoothly?

Palaso: Shhh! I'm in public! Call me Flair.

"Tyrant": Alright then, "Flair"... Is everything going according to plan?

Palaso: Yep, everything scoped out. No level of security they have on board is gonna be able to deal with our powers, even with just us two. We've got it covered.

"Tyrant": Good. I was hoping I wouldn't have to send Stinger over there, yet alone Shroud or Nix. I'm confident you two brave warriors will be able to accomplish this mission... for the good of mankind.

Palaso: You mean for the good of us, right?

"Tyrant": You know me too well.

The phone's connection shut off. Relay must have overexerted herself again. She really needed to get better at controlling it- it was literally the one thing she did for the group. Lazy bum.

'Palaso had more important things to attend to before the night of the big heist, however. She turned to the bed, where a shirtless Hask was waiting for her.

Hask: Call go well?

Palaso: Oh, shut up~

Chapter 3: Operation

Osuna woke up sometime around noon. Getting adjusted to a new environment only a day after being told it'd be your new home for an indeterminate amount of time. She didn't have anything packed either-she'd had to sleep in nothing but her lingerie the entire night.

Still, at least the other agents were accommodating. Her surprise new roommates of Garter, Stark and Phorine were kind about getting a bunk and helping her set things up, and even though Garter spent the night making a hissing noise and Phorine let off a consistent glow, the environment was relaxing, and she fell right asleep.

Now, though, it was time to finally start work. Getting into her clothes from last night, she stepped down into the living room to see who else was up. The only person she could find was RoJo, eating some leftover pieces of pasami from last night.

Osuna: Morning, Mr. Johansson.

RoJo: It's just RoJo. I see you slept well enough first day here?

Osuna: Yeah, the girls were really good roommates. I have to thank them for being so willing to accommodate someone new! Anyways, I know it's time for work, so what is it you want me to do?

RoJo: Oh! Uhhhh... we don't really do work around here usually.

Osuna: Really? Then what do you do on a consistent basis? I thought you were paid by the government.

RoJo: We are. It's just that we're paid as an emergency service of sorts. We're like... the fire department. We're paid to train and be ready when some big emergency strikes. Until then, we don't really... need to do anything?

Osuna was used to doing paperwork on a constant basis back in the CBPR. One might have considered it overtaxing for a field agent, but she sort of enjoyed it. It was nice to be constantly writing, even if it was mind-numbing. It helped calm her anxiety, at least. Not having any work to do was confusing to her, especially within a government agency.

She decided to check out the pool on the balcony.


The news was as bizarre as she could expect from this day and age. The Orenian government was establishing a formal union between itself and the Pizeas royal family, one of the three ruling parties of the Aquarid colony on Earth. A new drug wave in La'Neqa was being busted, with the perpetrators having created a new rainbow-colored drug from unknown substances and selling it as performance enhancers. Famous geneticist Malphea Al-Kiurala was being arrested for apparent malpractice, her former fiance having been considered legally dead due to her experimentation.'

The world was getting stranger and stranger every single day. Then again, Osuna had just spent the night with a psychic, a half-snake woman, and a talking fish from the far edges of space.

Speaking of that fish, Phorine was doing laps in the pool in front of her, splashing every which way and lapping the circular area in record time. Despite how clumsy she seemed on land, she was one of the most agile things Osuna had ever seen. Phorine poked her head out of the water for a few seconds to greet her.

Phorine: Hi Miss Osuna!

Osuna: *giggles* Hello, Phorine. Enjoying the swim?

Phorine: Sure am! I do this every morning to help stretch and get ready for the day! Plus I'm excited because Bella's coming back soon!

Bella was likely referring to Belladonna Rafskella Nightshade, another member of the Iliad Organization. Belladonna was one of the heiresses to the wealthy Nightshade Clan, a group of vampiric people living in the country of Pyrance. Not even she knew the full story about the clan, but they were willing to cooperate and work alongside the rest of the world in the pursuit of helping it, so nobody seemed to have many qualms with their presence.

Osuna: Oh! Are you two friends?

Phorine: Yep! We've been hanging out a lot over the past few months, and it's always sad when she has to go back home to Pyrance. Her mom and dad don't even let her give her number to people, so I can't even call her when she's away...

Osuna: I'm sorry. Maybe they're just trying to protect her?

Phorine: I know, but it's good to hear that she's coming back! I just feel really happy with her around! You'd probably like her too!

With a happy smile, Phorine returned to swimming, resuming the graceful undersea dance both of them were enraptured in. Osuna returned to her computer, thinking of what to work on. She had no real paperwork to do anymore, no forms to fill out or websites to monitor. Her new job was so much more casual... but she still needed an outlet.

The thought struck her. She opened a new document and started typing.


Palaso was out in the back of the central hall, just like she had discussed with Hask in their night prior. Another puff of honeystick to calm her nerves before the job.

Why was she even worried? Nobody would ever be prepared for what she and Hask were capable of. Besides, the job was simple. Run in, get the file, run out, and hopefully not get seen by anybody while making an escape.

The shattering of glass and alarm noises coming from the front of the building signified that Hask had broken his way in. Guards would be at his location in moments. She wasn't worried, though- he'd taken plenty worse before. This was her cue. Tossing her honeystick on the ground, she snapped her fingers next to the lock on the back door. A flash of cyan and pink, and the lock had melted off. She was in.

Walking down the hallway, she soon encountered an office, with a multitude of workers eagerly watching the security footage on a huge monitor to understand what exactly was happening. There were gasps of horror and shock as Hask was tearing through the building's security, both figuratively and literally. Shards of crystal shot out of his body and into everything surrounding him, be it walls, plants, or security officers. He really was good at what he did.

Palaso fired a bolt of neon energy into the screen, shattering it and scaring the workers even more. This was her moment.

Palaso: Eyes over here, everyone! Unless you want one of these through your chest too!

The crowd was stunned, though she saw one woman reach for her purse. Was she going for a phone? Maybe a gun? Regardless, Palaso fired without a second thought. The bolt went straight through her upper arm, and the woman collapsed to the ground, screaming in pain.

Palaso: Now that we've gotten that out of the way... Hi there! Call me Flair. My partner out there and I have come for something that's of great interest to us and our future ventures. Now don't worry! We don't mean money or anything! No, no, we're just interested in knowing where some files are! Say... Top level security?

Palaso looked back up at a smaller active monitor. Hask gave her a thumbs-up, signifying he had wiped out every guard in the area. This was going as smoothly as they both thought it would. A smile crossed her face as the workers put their hands behind their head.


And the princess lived happily ever after.

Was that too generic? Sure, kid's stories were supposed to be easy to write, but Osuna had just started earlier that day. Was this the best use of her time if she couldn't come up with anything original?

Phorine: I like it!

Osuna: You sure? I don't know how I feel, really. It's kind of generic, and I feel like I could have done more with it.

Phorine: I mean, you started today, right? This is a really good effort for only a few hours!

Osuna: Thanks... Welp, there goes my afternoon.

Suddenly, an alarm started ringing out in the main apartment. Phorine jumped out of the pool and ran inside, with Osuna folding up her laptop and cautiously peeking her head into the door. What was going on? Was there a fire?

Hayate, who had been sleeping on the couch, was now standing by the table next to Phorine while furiously swiping with his phone. Clearly, something was wrong that she wasn't getting. She jogged up to the table and peeked over Hayate's shoulder. Whatever he was looking at seemed to be some sort of alert application, giving him some kind of address.

Hayate: Central hall's getting robbed by a couple of goons. Police are on the way, but I think we should go there for backup.

Osuna: What makes you say that?

Hayate: The report's saying that the people assaulting the building are wielding some weird sort of weapons. Pink and blue lasers, as well as... crystals, apparently? Plenty of incapacitated or killed guards, and there may have been civilian casualties as well. I think we need to be there for extra firepower.

Phorine: On it! We can stop them!

Osuna: You sure about this? It's just the two of us here right now, and I haven't officially gone on a mission yet-

Hayate: Hey, everyone's gotta have their first round sometime, right? Besides, you're a trained CBPR agent and you have those cool sword thingies. It'll be a snap!

Phorine: I believe in you!

Osuna: ...Alright. Let's move out!

Hayate: Got it! Lemme grab my skates...


Hask: Alright, let's open this puppy up.

Dalia stood by and watched as Hask walked towards the vault, keeping an eye on the hostages to her left. The flare of neon energy coursing from her fingertips was enough of a warning to them to stay back, of course, but she could never be too careful.

Hask's crystallized hand sharpened down to a fine needle-like point as he stabbed it directly into the advanced lock on the door. He wasn't lockpicking, though- Dalia watched as crystal spikes stabbed throughout the door's surface, all growing from the central point of her lover's hand. Once his hand had spread to cover the entire inside of the door, he just tossed it aside like it was nothing, ripping the entire thing off its hydraulic hinges.

The people behind her cowered as Hask turned to her, giving her one of those trademark smiles of his. The crystal teeth could be weird, but she didn't care. It was stylish.

Hask: All yours.

Palaso: Perfect. Your turn to babysit.


Cracking into the vault was easy. Getting the files was easier.

It wasn't even like Dalia was an expert hacker or anything. All she needed to do was head over to the terminal and look up the search term she wanted- "Synergium Z". Now she had everything she'd ever want on the subject, from scientific analysis over the mineral to tabloid articles about chunks of it being found in some celebrity's bank vault. At last, she obtained the papers she was looking for.

After the Trans-Arctic War in 2060, a massive deposit of the mineral was taken from the arctic colony of Cesserx, and locked away somewhere in the world under maximum security. Now, she had the location. All they needed to do was go there.

Dalia was about to let out a laugh when she suddenly felt something sharp and hot at the back of her neck.

Osuna: Drop the files, criminal scum.

Dalia looked behind her to see a flaming blue sword levitating in the air in front of her, as well as in front of Hask. Standing before them were a couple of out-of-place strangers; she recognized the kid in the roller skates and the fish girl, at least. She tried her best to play things cool for now, until one of them formed an escape plan.

Dalia: Oh, would you look at that, honey! It's the Idiot Organization, coming all the way down here to check on us! How thoughtful.

Hask: Yeah, real nice. We're doing alright, though. We'd appreciate if you just moved along.

Osuna: Shut it. You two are under arrest for breaking and entering a government property, stealing classified information, and manslaughter.

Dalia: Those guards are still alive! We didn't kill anybody.

Osuna: Assault, then. It doesn't matter. You're coming with us, and you're going to be behind bars for a long time.

The blade was literally at her throat. Dalia dropped the file and put her hands above her head. She signaled Hask to do the same. She could tell that the sword lady's guard was down- that was her cue.

Dalia pointed at the ceiling above the Iliad groupies and fired a bolt of energy. Before anyone could react, the bolt made its mark, and the ceiling started crumbling. The sword lady's concentration broke as she looked towards the blast, and the swords dissipated into nothingness. This was their chance. Hask's hands grew back into the crystal shotgun form as he began raining shards on the agents, trying to get away from the falling debris, and Dalia clocked the newcomer agent in the face as she grabbed the file. It was time to make their escape.

Osuna got up off the ground and rubbed her bleeding cheek to try easing the pain. This first mission was not going so well, and she was ashamed of that. Regardless, she couldn't just let these criminals escape- summoning her energy, she used the Bladedrive to summon a multitude of Florish throwing knives into existence, tossing them at the escapees like a machine gun.

The criminals did their best to avoid the incoming hail of blades as they ran for the escape exit. Suddenly, Hask sensed an approaching presence coming towards him and instinctively turned around, forming crystal shields to block whatever was coming. As swift as the wind, the teenager showed up behind him, attempting to perform some sort of slashing divekick with his aeroskates. Dalia kept rushing towards the exit, only for streaks of electricity to start coursing across it. The stupid fish was behind this.

They had no escape routes. Only choice was to stand and fight. The teen turned to the sword lady to say something.

Hayate: Sorry, Osuna! Guess we should have told you Iliad isn't called in for peaceful arrests!

Osuna: That's- That's okay. If we need brute force... so be it!


Osuna summoned another blade to parry the male criminal's incoming attack, crystals extending from his hands to turn into blades of his own. The two clashed together, with Osuna's assailant pressing down on her with all of his might. Presumably, he was trying to make her stumble and let her guard down. Fat chance of that.

She dissipated her blade and quickly slid between the man's legs, avoiding his attack. In retaliation, she called up yet another blade and slashed across his back. His trenchcoat and presumably back skin were sliced open as he let out a bellowing scream.

Hask: GAAAAH!

Her opponent temporarily stunned, she examined the rest of the scene. Civilians were evacuating as the female criminal and Hayate dueled from a distance. She was firing constant barrages of pink and cyan beams at her ally, who seemed to be dodging most of them with his aeroskating skills. His red shoulder, however, signified he had been shot.

Phorine was ignoring the battle entirely, running towards the fire alarm. What exactly was she doing?

Osuna's train of thought was interrupted quite rudely when the man from before rushed into her with massive amounts of force, knocking her onto the ground. The grin he gave her would have been frightening and fear-inducing enough without those creepy crystal teeth.

Hask: Got you now. No fancy sword crap anymore.

The sword crap was nowhere near done. A swift motion of Osuna's hand summoned a barrage of tiny knives around her attacker, which started blitzing around his body at high speeds. It wasn't doing much damage, but it was certainly distracting him enough for her to regain her bearings.

Suddenly, she felt a drop of water on her head. Then another. And another. Soon, it was a veritable downpour inside the building as a loud siren started blaring. She looked over to see Phorine standing by the fire alarm, glaring at the criminals as the yellow glyphs on her body started glowing yellow.

Hayate skated on over beside her, wrapping his arm around her stomach. What exactly was he doing? Was his arm okay?

Hayate: Hang tight! It's time for liftoff.

Hayate punched the ground, releasing a massive gust of wind that blew the two off the ground in a shower of water droplets. From her vantage point, Osuna could see Phorine bursting with a massive aura of electricity, which began scattering across the water-soaked floor and shorting out much of the electronics. The criminals took the brunt of the attack; while the woman took it like any old human would, the man was screaming even louder. Maybe those crystals conducted electricity?

At any rate, the landing was saved thanks to Hayate making a cushion of air to soften the fall. Hayate himself stumbled on impact; he was trying to hide the pain of that shot to the shoulder, and failing at doing so. He gave Osuna a smile and a thumbs up, to which she replied in kind.

Hayate: Hah... Well, how went the first mission?

Osuna: Are you alright? You're bleeding-

Hayate: What, this old thing? It'll be... fine once we... get back.

Phorine wasn't doing so hot either. She had overexhausted herself in that one giant attack, and was now just standing in place, trying to recuperate. Poor girl...

The female criminal got to her feet, staggering and twitching from the electric overdose she had received. She only took one look at the unconscious body of her teammate lying on the ground before her expression turned from pain to rage.

Palaso: H-Hask... HASK... AAAAAAAARGH!!!

In a second, she had aimed her hand at Phorine and began charging it with pink light. Osuna tried rushing over to stop her attack, but a voice from thin air interrupted her.

RoJo: MAXIMUM DUST KNUCKLE!

RoJo came in out of nowhere, punching the criminal square in the face with an attack so powerful it knocked her across the room. His fist was still steaming when he turned to face her, looking down at Hayate's wounded shoulder as well. Stark drifted down from the ceiling to survey the area, a surprised smile on her face.

Stark: Dang, I'm impressed! You actually did surprisingly well on your first mission! And with people with this level of destructive power, no less... Still! We better get you guys back home to recuperate. Oh yeah, we should also get these two to the police.

Stark picked up the criminals with her psychic powers and floated off, leaving Hayate to slowly walk towards Phorine to help pick her up. Osuna looked at RoJo; he had a proud look on his face. It told her that she was surpassing his expectations- she had what it took to fit in with the team.

This mission really did go well.

Chapter 4: Debriefing

Sitting in a police headquarters was nothing new to Osuna, but this was still unusual. She was sitting alongside RoJo and Phorine in the main lobby, the former thinking to himself silently while the latter was chowing down on mineral water and some salty cheese snack. Why a fish girl needed a bag of Carinos she'd never understand.

Hayate was off in the infirmary, getting his shoulder taken care of, while Stark had joined the officers in interrogating the criminals they had apprehended. Mind reading presumably worked wonders for that sort of thing.

RoJo: Not bad for your first mission.

Osuna: First with you guys. I've been in this business for two years already.

RoJo: Even so, you handled this really, really well. A couple of civilians did get hurt, unfortunately, but it could have been a lot worse. You handled this situation like a pro.

Osuna smiled and turned away from RoJo bashfully. This whole mission wasn't anything special for her... Right? Truth was, she was honored to be praised by a hero like him, someone she had idolized. Perhaps the Iliad Organization would wind up being an even better career choice than she had imagined...

On that note, Stark walked out of the interrogation room with a couple of officers. Osuna could see through the window that the criminals were unconscious, but not in the sense of them being beaten to that point; they looked like a couple of sleeping kids, lying against each other affectionately. Had Stark put them to sleep?

Stark: Ronin, the interrogation's done.

RoJo: What'd you get out of 'em, Alyssa?

Stark: Plenty of juicy stuff. The man's name is Elton Hask. Orenian man, served time in the military before leaving to become a professional boxer. Shockingly shoddy track record, he faded into obscurity in a few years and presumably started drinking. At some point, he joined up with someone he only knows as "The Duchess".

Osuna: So not even they know the identity of who they work for? That's going to put a huge damper on the investigations.

Stark: Yeah, when you can read someone's mind, you'd think you'd be way better at solving cases like this. Anyways, the lady's name is Darian- er, Dalia Palaso. Got a couple of bits and pieces of some traumatic childhood, obviously something she's tried to repress. Other than that, nothing interesting aside from an obvious romantic attachment to Hask... and more of whoever the Duchess is.

RoJo: Anything else suspicious?

Stark: Yeah, actually. These two didn't know each other until the time when this Duchess showed up in their lives, but at the same time... That seems to be how these two got their powers. Palaso started shooting off neon energy, Hask could turn his blood into iron crystals, both huge points in their lives. They stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Osuna: So what you're saying is... Whoever the Duchess is, they have something that gives people superpowers?

Stark faked a stretch with her straitjacket arms.

Stark: Probably, but whatever it is, I couldn't tell you. At any rate, the police have these guys on maximum security. Nobody's letting them out of that cell alive. And since we can't even determine from them who they work for, I think we need to sit on this for a while. Ronin? What's your call?

RoJo: I agree. I think we need to approach this and try to dig up more information later. For now, I say we head home and relax. We've got two tired agents and a third healing from a wounded shoulder. I think that calls for a little bit of rest.


Lexi woke up when the bright lights came on. As usual.

She stretched her arms and adjusted her robe, untangling her hair from the wires and crown-like transceiver that was fixed to her head. Just another day in the little private garden they had set up for her. A bed, bookshelf, and rows upon rows of troughs full of dirt and plants. It was supposed to be a perfect place for her to relax.

That relaxation never came, though. There was always something else they needed her for.

The door to her room opened up to reveal none other than... him. Tyrant, the other people working in the organization called him. At first glance, the man didn't look very threatening. A short, scrawny young man who looked far too young for his age, black hair frosting over with stress and an ill-fitting suit making him look more disheveled and unkempt than anything else.

Tyrant was in charge of her "care", however. She was always frightened of whatever he could do.

Tyrant browsed over her plant collection while quietly whispering something to himself, before slowly turning around to Lexi. She shivered uncontrollably when he looked at her.

Tyrant: Relay.

Lexi: Y-Yes, sir?

Tyrant: Contact Flair and Fracture. They haven't reported in since they started the operation.

Lexi focused her energy as a growing pressure built up in the back of her head. It hurt, but this was the only way for her to focus her powers. Bolts of electricity rose from the wires in her skull into her transceiver crown, as well as into the ceiling of her room. A massive monitor that took up one wall of her room shifted from a sunset-lit beach to a large phone directory, showing that signals were being covertly broadcast to phones owned by fellow agents Flair and Fracture.

No response. Normally that'd have been expected, considering Tyrant only let field agents use normally broken phones so they couldn't be traced. But they knew when the phones would work or not. It wasn't like them to not pick up.

Lexi stopped the broadcast, panting as the pain in her head subsided. Tyrant looked displeased to see the call didn't go through.

Tyrant: Contact them again.

'Tears streaking down her face as her powers- and the painful, stinging sensations- went back into action, Lexi redialed the field agents' phones. Again, no response. Tyrant started getting mad again.

Tyrant: Did those ingrates fail the mission?! I oughta-

Suddenly, he turned to Lexi with a vengeful expression on his face. His iris started fading from a normal brown color to a bright orange, almost as if it were glowing. She started trembling in fear even more, frightened of what was about to happen.

But nothing did. Tyrant stormed out of the room in a hurry. Lexi gave off a sigh of relief as she tried to regain her strength from contacting the dead cellphones.

She hadn't asked for this. The only reason she was here was because of her daughter- born a paraplegic, no arms and barely developed legs. She was desperate for anything that could bring about a cure- so when a mysterious figure told her about SYNDERS, an organization experimenting with genetics that could potentially have a cure, she was sold immediately. Anything for her child.

And, to their credit, they did actually bring about a cure- though not in the way she had imagined. One of their field agents had a sample of their blood taken out and irradiated with some rainbow-colored mineral, which they then vaccinated her daughter with. In under a month, her daughter had manifested some form of superpowers, creating perfect arms and legs out of what looked like crystal! Sure, it was unexpected, but she could go on to live a normal life now...

Not what had happened to Lexi herself. Part of the contract said that, in order to let SYNDERS have legal rights to experiment on the baby in search of a cure, they'd need to be allowed to do research on her as well. She complied, with nary a worry in her heart. However, the testing they had her undergo made her develop something. Her new powers- manipulating and broadcasting radio frequencies alongside shooting off sparks now and then- were a source of great interest to the group.

Before she knew it, she was here. Stuck in this perfect little room, brain wired up to the ceiling to prevent her from ever leaving without tearing her scalp off. A living phone for whatever SYNDERS was doing in the field.

Lexi sighed as she looked up to the ceiling. She tried to imagine what her baby Beryl could be doing. Just once, she wished she could see the girl she had made this sacrifice for. Was she alright? Was her husband faring well?

Lexi let out another tear as the electric sensation started welling in her brain again. Tyrant needed to make a call.


Spirits were high back at the apartment. When the five had returned, Bubba and Garter were concerned as to where they had gone and why Hayate's shoulder was padded and bandaged up, but when it was explained that Osuna's first official mission had been a success, the chef decided to celebrate the occasion. She assumed that meant he'd cook something up for everyone.

Nope. He just got out the alcohol.

Everyone gathered around the table, with two giant bottles of sahall popped open for the occasion. Osuna didn't really drink, but she figured this was a special moment for her; besides, it could help take off some of the edge. Phorine and Hayate were two young to drink, despite the latter's attempts to sneak some sahall, so Bubba just got them little kiddie packets of grape juice instead. They just snuck off to the corner to play whatever fighting game they were engrossed in again; she couldn't help but notice Hayate stop to massage his injured shoulder time and again. She hoped it'd heal soon.

Garter: So, what was it you said about these random criminals somehow having superpowers?

RoJo: That's what concerns me. Powers like what they had don't just come about randomly- case in point, us. There has to be some reason that they have this sort of destructive power...

Stark: Honestly? I think that's pretty clearly tied to whoever this "Duchess" is. If only we could place a name.

Osuna: We're going to have to come back to this investigation and look things over some more. At any rate, let's enjoy ourselves for now. Plenty of time to chill now that the threat's over!

Stark: You said it, girl!

Everyone clinked their glasses together as Osuna glanced over at the TV. News, as usual, though this time they were covering the attack on Capital Hall and the arrest of Palaso and Hask. It made her proud to see something she'd done be displayed like this; it was certainly a lot better than having her accomplishments hidden by government secrecy.

Newscaster: And who else came in to save the day but agents of the world-famous Iliad Organization? Though members of the team declined to comment on the event, police officials working alongside them on the scene stated that they managed to fend off the criminals shockingly well, bringing in baddies that nobody on the scene could manage to. The pair are currently behind bars at the city prison, with armed guards watching them constantly- a trial is not yet set in stone, but considering their actions, it doesn't seem likely that they'll get off scot-free.

The team cheered and clinked their glasses together in celebration. Bubba's glass broke.

Newscaster: That's all for this story. Coming up next, we go to the field to determine whether or not-

Suddenly, the newscaster was interrupted by someone from offstage, running over to her with a sheet of paper. The two whispered for a second before the stagehand ran back off, causing to look at the paper with a bewildered expression.

Newscaster: This just in, folks! An update to our previous story has emerged! It seems that... the two criminals mentioned in the story have just been released on bail? Guys, you sure this is right?

Osuna was confused? Bail? Who in their right mind would pay to let these villains out? Was this connected to the Duchess, or someone else? Just then, her phone rang, followed by everyone else's in the room. Seems they all got the same text from... a number consisting entirely of blank space. Charming.

AtTeNtIoN iLiAd
PuNiShMeNt Is CoMiNg
A nEw AgE wIlL dAwN sOoN
cOmE tO tHeSe CoOrDiNaTeS aNd We ShAlL tAlK

Stark: Boy, someone was trying way too hard with this ransom note crap. Still... looks like we got a lead.


Chapter 5: Confrontation

Osuna was nervous about the whole ordeal. What on earth was happening?

She, RoJo, Stark and Phorine had all gathered at the meeting location- an empty warehouse in the harbor nearby the city- in order to investigate the mysterious message they had received. Hayate was still out of action due to that wound, so they were down a member. She had no clue if anybody else would be out of action after this ordeal, either...

Suddenly, a bright light flickered on at the end of the warehouse, with a couple of figures standing nearby a desk. The smaller of the two walked towards the desk as everyone, Osuna included, tensed up.

Small figure: Well, well, well, look what we have here! A couple of meddling do-gooders hoping to conspire against the grand fate we have prepared for this world. How quaint.

The smaller figure almost looked like a teenager, though his facial structure suggested he was an adult. He was short, scrawny, and looked like he was hyped up on caffeine. Even his frosted hair made him seem less mature than he really was... Almost like dyed hair instead of graying from age. His eyes, though, were something she couldn't describe. It almost hurt to look directly at him; at the very least, it made her uncomfortable.

The larger figure, in contrast, was a tall, muscular woman wearing some form of skintight biohazard suit, gasmask and tubing accentuating the eerie look. All she could really make out were her eyes, which by contrast seemed cool and collected. Her hands were covered in massive mechanical gauntlets, which were decked out with tons of tubing and valves. Despite her imposing stature, the tiny man somehow seemed more of a threat. How was that possible?

Osuna: We're agents of the Iliad Organization, and we've received your threat. Now, explain. Are you by any means related to those two criminals we apprehended last night?

Small figure: My, quite the little inquisitor, aren't we? You are correct, however. Those two are members of our organization, and like any good workplace, we come with insurance and benefits. One of those just so happens to be bail.

RoJo: Let's cut to the chase. Who are you?

Small figure: I am not at liberty to reveal my or my associate's names. You can refer to me as Tyrant, however, and this woman here goes by Nitra. Now then, we have come to-

Stark stepped forward with a smug look on her face.

Stark: This clown is Mikhail Toronova, Cesser businessman and owner of Nova Investments. One of the richest people on the planet. Apparently he's also been funding something called SYNDERS on the side; that's your group name, Ronin.

Toronova: I- What is this?!

Stark: The lady's name is Itoki Takana. She's just a grunt in SYNDERS, and I can tell you just brought her along as defense. Oh, yeah, she's looking at you funny, Meadows.

Osuna glanced back at Itoki, who was now turning her gaze away from the group while clenching her mechanical fist. Mikhail looked infuriated.

Stark: Anyways, both these goons work for SYNDERS, which seems to be whatever terrorist cell they're working for. Can't find out who this Duchess is from them, so I guess whoever leads them hid their identity super well, but I can tell you Toronova ain't the leader. I got their plans, though.

Toronova: And just WHAT, pray tell, would they be?!

Stark: Isn't it obvious? Synergium Z.

Toronova pounded the desk as Osuna and RoJo looked at Stark confusedly. What was Synergium Z? She'd never heard of the stuff at all during her past government work. As if she had read her mind- and she definitely had- Stark began explaining herself.

Stark: Synergium Z popped up in Cesserx a very long time ago. The ruler started doing shady stuff with it, and bam! Suddenly people got superpowers. Then Cesserx went to war with a bunch of superpowered soldiers and what not. They lost and had all the Synergium sealed in vaults all across the world. These clowns are all superpowered already, so clearly there has to be a reason for it. Why not that rock?

Phorine: Why would people with superpowers need something that gives superpowers?

RoJo: Simple. These goons want to expand their numbers. Probably willing to go to war yourselves, am I right?

Toronova snapped his fingers and Itoki lunged forward, grabbing RoJo's arm with her huge mechanical fist. Though she did not follow up her attack, white vapor started leaking from her gauntlet as RoJo's arm started frosting over. Everyone held their ground as the man spoke, getting up from the desk in an eerie manner.

Toronova: So, you've peered into the darkest corners of our minds and deduced our plan. At least you don't deal with all the monologue crap. Quite efficient! Of course, now that you know absolutely everything...

Toronova's eyes started glowing orange as Osuna felt waves of discomfort course through her body. Somehow, this scrawny businessman had become the most intimidating thing in the world to her, and she couldn't even tell why. Shakily, she summoned a blade to her hand, primed for combat.

Toronova: Then we can't let you leave alive.


RoJo released a burst of energy from his arm, knocking Itoki back and allowing himself the opportunity to prepare for combat. Phorine stood behind him, arms crackling with electricity. Osuna looked to Stark, who nodded at her as they turned to face Toronova, who was getting up sinisterly from his desk.

A thick cloud of icy mist started spreading over the warehouse floor as Itoki aimed her gauntlets down onto the ground, releasing a massive amount of what appeared to be liquid nitrogen. The air seemed to chill almost immediately as RoJo lunged forward, pulling off a nasty right hook on the icy woman's side.

Osuna turned back around to face the businessman, who was now slowly walking towards the pair with eyes fully glowing. She brandished her sword, only to be faced with even more of that bizarre fear when facing him. Even Stark looked uncomfortable as she raised her pair of bladed arms.

Toronova: Go ahead. Take your best shot.

Stark tossed her arms forward as Osuna threw her blade at Toronova. Both women were so distressed by his aura, however, that they missed entirely. Or wait... Was he dodging their attacks? Every strike the two seemed to throw was just a little bit off the mark, and Toronova was dodging everything completely scot-free. What was he doing?

Stark: *pant* Alright, then! Let's see if you can dodge- GAAAH!!!

Toronova's eyes flashed from orange to yellow as Stark clutched her head, her psychic powers seemingly backfiring. She had never seen Stark like this; the cocky, confident woman reduced to a shambling, emotional mess.

Toronova: My, my. Your psychic capabilities seem to be be exceptionally powerful, Ms. Stark. SYNDERS could always use an extra battery lying around.

He turned to Osuna, eyes still glowing and radiating that fear-inducing energy. She fell on her back, scrambling to get away from this monster of a man. Quickly glancing over at the others, she saw RoJo engaged in a fistfight with Itoki. Phorine was launching bolt after bolt of lightning at her foe, but she just turned around, launching a huge chunk of ice at the Aquarid and knocking her back. RoJo tried landing another punch, but Itoki just caught his hand, beginning to freeze it over.

Toronova was almost on top of her now. She was back against the wall, nowhere to go. He grabbed her by the neck, almost choking her.

Toronova: ...Quite the power, isn't it? I can mess with people's thoughts and nervous systems at just a glance. Can force someone into activating their flight-or-fight response, make someone a lot more agreeable, or even break their brain a little. Heh... hope you don't mind what I did to your friend. She'll be fine! When she comes around, that is...

Osuna: St-stop this!

Toronova: Or what? The psychic's out of commission, and my friend is in the process of disposing of the fish and the dropout. There's nothing left you can do. Heheheh... HAHAHAHAHAHA!

While Toronova was laughing, Osuna summoned as much energy as she good to call up one last blade. She didn't dare try hitting the man in front of her... Missing would spell her doom. She did the only thing she could... and tossed it across the room.

The blade sailed in a perfect line towards her target- Itoki's back. Slicing open a massive amount of tubing and fabric on her hazard suit, the woman let go of RoJo's hands, desparately trying to stop the growing mound of ice on her back. With a single crunch of his hand, he broke off the ice that had frosted it over, and his knuckles began glowing red-hot as he wound up for a retaliatory attack.

RoJo: GIGATON RUSH!

His fists were flying almost too fast for the human eye to see as he rapidly punched Itoki in the stomach, sending her flying against the wall. She lifted her hand to retaliate with more ice, but Phorine leapt from out of nowhere, electrocuting her gauntlets and rendering them unstable. RoJo turned to Toronova, fists burning with energy.

Toronova: WHAT?! HOW?!

RoJo: It's over, creep. Surrender now and we promise the government's only gonna take some of your money. ...Good job, Osuna.

Osuna: Thank *pant* you...

Toronova: I can't be beaten like this! I... We... No...

Phorine: I've got this lady here! You take care of the creepy guy!

Toronova: PSYCHO FLARE!

A brilliant white light filled the room as the businessman's eyes cycled all the way from orange to blue. Osuna's brain felt like it was on fire. She couldn't take it... She passed out.


???: Is everyone okay? Raise your hands if you can hear me!

Osuna rubbed her head as she came too. Looking around, she saw that everyone was still in the same warehouse, seemingly unharmed. Toronova and Itoki had vanished, however. Probably snuck away after that weird Psycho Flare thing. At least nobody was hurt...

Phorine: Uhhhhh... Ms. Osuna! Ms. Stark! Are you okay?

Stark: Yeah... Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks.

RoJo: So, everyone's okay. Thank heavens...

Osuna: I'm assuming we didn't get them, then.

RoJo: Hardly. I'm guessing that Psycho Flare thing was meant to overload all our nervous systems so those rogues could escape. Good thing that's all they seem to have done. *sigh* If only we could have apprehended them.

Stark: You kidding? One of them was one of the biggest businessmen on the planet. The girl we could get punished, but that guy's just gonna be getting a slap on the wri- ow. Ow. My head. Ow.

Stark sat down in the corner again, massaging her head to try to ease the pain. As Phorine walked over to help her out, RoJo looked at Osuna with what seemed to be a smile.

RoJo: That was some fine work back there. Thanks for that.

Osuna: Heh heh... No problem, RoJo. Glad I could help the team out.

RoJo: Our problem now is discerning what these clowns are going to do next. Thanks to Stark, we know their plan, but we have no clue when they'll strike next, or who this Duchess is who seems to be their leader.

Osuna: All we can do is wait, then. If tonight has been any indication... we can take them. I know it.

RoJo: I mean... It's not "tonight" anymore.

Osuna looked through the warehouse windows. Sure enough, morning light was streaming through what had been completely black glass when they had first arrived. Did that attack knock them all out for eight hours? No wonder everyone's head was hurting.

Osuna: Let's just get back home. People are waiting for us.

The group walked towards the exit as Phorine tried stabilizing Stark, holding her waist to balance her. Sure, Osuna thought, they hadn't exactly won the battle here. But they had the information they needed. If evil ever showed its face again, they'd have the potential to stop it right in its tracks.

As she massaged her aching head, she stared into the morning sunrise. She really did feel like a hero.


Toronova: I can't believe this happened... How? HOW?!

Hask: They actually beat us fair and square, Mikhail. You just hightailed it out of there as soon as thing seemed even a little scary. What does that say about you?

Palaso: Yeah, it's not like we let them know about the entire plan. That was you.

Toronova: Shut up! Takana, back me up on this!

Itoki was silent, simply sitting back and looking in another direction. Dalia thought she saw a hint of blush on her cheeks. At any rate, Little Mister Tyrant was pounding the table again, looking like he was about to explode at any second.

Toronova: I GOT YOU OUT OF PRISON BECAUSE YOU TWO SCREWED UP YOUR ASSIGNMENT!

His eyes were glowing again. Hask was visibly tensing up next to her, his mind being influenced by Mikhail's stress-inducing powers. Dalia started rubbing his shoulder to calm his nerves; she herself had gotten used to this power, and had since learned to start wearing polarized shades to counteract it.

Palaso: We weren't expecting the Iliad Organization! You explicitly called them there to talk with them! What were you even expecting?

Toronova: DON'T TALK TO ME, YOU INGRATE!

???: *sigh* After everything I've done for you...

Everyone seemed startled by the feminine voice that started echoing throughout the room. A door in the back opened, revealing a blond woman in a sleek dress accompanied by two armed guards. Why was she here?

Toronova: D-Duchess! I- er, how have you-?

Duchess: I made you some of the most powerful beings on the planet. I made you modern-day gods. And you can't even handle those infinitely inferior to you. How can I trust you with this task if you can't do something simple as handle a few do-gooders?

Toronova: These were no ordinary men! They had powers and capabilities on par with our own!

Duchess: Oh? Well, this is an interesting turn of events! And how exactly did these people learn of your existence?

Hask whispered from his spot in an obvious attempt to get the Duchess's attention.

Hask:They got called in to stop us and Mikhail was dumb enough to contact them instead of going into hiding.

Toronova: INSUBORDINATION!

Palaso: Yeah, apparently one of them's a mind reader and scanned his brain in the process. Go figure. They know our plan and probably our organization name too.

The Duchess leaned down in front of Mikhail. His eyes faded from orange to the standard dark brown; even he was scared. And for good reason, as Dalia could see her gloved hand glowing with blue light, with her hand bones visible under it. The power to control and generate radiation... That was truly scary.

Duchess: That's quite the failure of protocol, Mikhail. Out of everyone here, I trusted you wouldn't disappoint me like this.

Toronova: I- I didn't know they had a mind reader! I'm sorry! It won't happen again! Just please don't kill me!

The Duchess turned off her radiation as Mikhail started sobbing softly. She sighed as she sat down alongside the four, her straight sitting posture and demeanor giving away her position of noble birth and upbringing.

Duchess: Truth be told, I am not fully maddened at your performance in these past few days. After all, Palaso and Hask did manage to obtain the location data of the Synergium vaults across the world, and Toronova's failure in dealing with those he deemed threats has let us know they are not to be trifled with. Now is the time to engage our plan... Now is the time to take what is rightfully ours.

She put her hands to her chest as if to signify a salute... or perhaps even a prayer of some sort.

Katarina: I, Katarina Omegance, former and soon-to-be reinstated Cevress of the nation of Cesserx... Leader of the SYNDERS organization... I will lead this world into the evolved utopia that we alone can bring about!


Everyone was back home, but the general mood seemed more tense than excited. Though Osuna and the crew were welcomed back with open arms, the thought of SYNDERS and whoever their leader was hung like a dark cloud over the proceedings. All the group could really do was take a rest; Stark and Phorine headed off to bed while RoJo and Osuna joined Hayate in front of the TV, playing the news once again.

Hayate: So, did things go well? You're all back in one piece, at least.

Osuna: True... We could have had a lot worse happen. We know the scheme, we can track down where they want to go before they strike-

RoJo: Easy, Ms. Agent. I know you're a workaholic, but you need to rest. We've gone through two skirmishes with superpowered people in the past day. Now's the time to relax and recuperate before we plan our next move.

Osuna: I suppose you're right. Maybe I should-

The news suddenly flashed with a bright white and red message- "BREAKING NEWS BULLETIN". The screen cut to a plaza outside what appeared to be a palace covered in snow as a field reporter stood shivering in a massive overcoat. Osuna looked on in confusion.

Reporter: This is Karl Devanson reporting in from the Cesserx Royal Palace. We have breaking news that the nation's ruler, Cevress Matilda, has been killed in her room.

Osuna: Wait, what's going on?

RoJo: A world leader just got offed. Presumably assassinated. If this has anything to do with SYNDERS...

Reporter: Field agents have seemingly linked the cause of death to a fire of some kind, as the Cevress was found with scorch marks across her body. Objects in her room, however, have remained entirely preserved and spotless, leading some to theorize foul play. As Cevress Matilda has had no biological heir, power will transfer to her aide, Catherine Omen, until such time as a more suitable ruler can be found.

Osuna was shocked by the news, but even more shocked by the crackling and sparking noises that began to echo from behind her. The three turned around to see a large purple orb of electricity crackling in the middle of the room, eventually transforming to what looked like a large portal of some kind. Osuna tensed up and summoned a blade to her side, but RoJo and Hayate seemed completely calm in this situation.

From the portal emerged a strange-looking woman. Her clothing was archaic and bizarrely crafted, she had strange scales in the area around her eye, and emerging from the top of her skull were giant curved horns, glowing with even more energy. She looked at the group with a happy expression, but her eyes betrayed some kind of fear.

Woman: I'm back! Missed me?

RoJo: Nyxiel. Long time no see. Where exactly have you been off to?

Nyxiel: Oh, you know, eldritch horror stuff. Working for my dad. Seeing the future. The usual. ...Oh yeah, nice to meet, you, Osuna! Glad to see the team's still trucking along with new hires.

Osuna: How do you know my name? Are you a mind reader like Stark?

Nyxiel: Hardly. I'm what you humans might call an oracle. I just happened to remember your name from stuff that's gonna happen in the future.

Osuna: Oh, please don't tell me if time travel stuff gets involved. Leica's one thing already.

Nyxiel: I can say no to that... But I can't avoid some other spoilers entirely for now. That's why I'm here after I had to leave for so long. Again, sorry about that. My dad needed me really badly. That's ALSO why I'm here, actually...

RoJo: Spill it, Nyxiel. What's going on?

Nyxiel: Dark times are coming, and they're directly tied to those goons you've been fighting over the past few days. Things escalate so much more from there, though. The fate of not only the city, but the entirety of the human race is at stake. Probably mine, too! I have no clue how many people this could effect, but almost all life in the universe could very well be wiped out because of what I'm here to fight.

Hayate: All over the assassination of some lady in the arctic?

Nyxiel: That's the start of it, yes. But it gets much, much worse. Not even I can fathom the scope of what's about to happen.

Osuna: So what do we do? We can't just stand around and let this happen!

Nyxiel: Oh, don't worry... I just need to wait on some friends in the future.

Cast

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