Victorya

Chapter 8
Finding the Ripper

James picked up the file from Scotland Yard. After reading it and pinpointing Emer Coghlan as the most likely suspect. She disappeared from Cork in 1881, but resurfaced in London in 1886. James tells Edward about the discovery, and Edward lets James know that two more women were found dead. One, Elizabeth Stride, was killed by a quick slice to the throat, while the other, Catherine Eddowes, had her kidney and uterus removed. Investigating the crime scenes, the two inferred that Stride had witnessed Eddowes’ murder and fled the scene, causing the Ripper to give chase and kill her quickly. A constable delivered the news after some time that a body had been discovered in the vault under New Scotland Yard. Edward let James past the barricade, and they found a naked torso, the head and limbs cut off. It appeared to belong to a middle-aged woman. A note was tied to the top of the body. It read To Ryan, Come and get me. On the back, it read I kept my promise. James realized this was the body of the woman Emer threatened when she met with Ryan. He confronted Lester about Ryan’s death, and demanded to see the body. After Edward agreed, Lester relented and led them to a secret undercellar that had the same architecture as the basement of the townhouse. Ryan’s body was laid out on the table, and James learned about the psionic blade that killed him. Feeling betrayed by the police, James lashed out at Lester and was asked to leave. He did, reluctantly, allowing Edward and Lester to discuss Dawn business.
Several other Dawn members appeared in a circle, seemingly teleporting into the room in a puff of smoke. Edward recognized himself and Lester, Marco, Isaac, Andre, Tom, and Emer. Two others introduced themselves as Dr. Daniel Brown and the Right Honourable Henry Delvene. Edward learned that the Dawn didn’t approve of Emer’s recent activities, especially the fact that the police were beginning to take an interest in her associates. Marco telepathically told Edward to fetch the rest of the team; the giant delegated to James upstairs. Edward continued to talk with the Dawn, specifically Marco. He revealed that the ‘cultists’ in the basement were just meant as a distraction from Dublin: they looked the same and said things in unison to save concentration. Also, Marco really hated Emer. He despised her and everything she stood for, and wouldn’t mind seeing her dead. James and the others walked downstairs, and Emer immediately teleported away. She brought back Alex, holding her at knifepoint for insurance. She wanted the jar of blood James had stolen. He responded that he had destroyed it, so Emer slit Alex’s throat. Aran went berserk at this sight, and stabbed Isaac. Emer got away with Alex’s body, and the rest of the Dawn tried to run. Ryder slapped Aran before turning to try and capture Marco in a force field. Edward restrained him, but was flung against a wall. Ryder accidentally captured Mr. Delvene, allowing Marco to get away, while Edward grabbed Aran again. Isaac stayed with James after the gunslinger stole his stab wound and regenerated.
James went insane when he saw his father. He shot himself in the arm, then the old man in both knees. He stole the wounds, but was too tired to heal them. Edward carried James to a doctor and let his dad go. Once he woke up, James was furious at everyone for allowing his father to go free, revealing that the MP had killed his mother. Determined to do something good, Aran suggested storming Emer’s apartment, killing her, and rescuing Lily. Maxie would stay on the roof to tire Emer out, while the rest of the team would keep the teleporter moving so she would be unable to dodge effectively. It worked well, with Emer’s first response being to get to the roof. Unfortunately, Aran followed her. Maxie only drained her a little before the killer noticed the pirate. She plunged a knife deep into his face, and he disappeared. Emer was confused, but felt too tired to investigate. Aran reappeared in the apartment, bleeding profusely. James quickly stole the wound, then slowly regenerated. Edward escorted Lily outside, then came back in to see Emer pop back into the apartment. She did a double-take when she saw James’s wound, but slowly went to collect her things (“her things” being a jar of warm blood and a large satchel). Aran swung at her and missed, she dodged Edward’s cutlass, and she moved out of the way of James’s shot. She teleported away with the blood, leaving Lily with the group.

Three years passed.

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Chapter 7
Filling In

Edward quickly cut the head off David’s body, and the scream slowly died down. James initially asked Maxie what was happening, but quickly turned on Edward. He interrogated the giant as to his intentions, and his dealings with Marco. Edward revealed his location on the night of Ryan’s murder, and told the group about what he knew of the Imperial Dawn of Victoria. Isaac had introduced him to Marco, so James asked Isaac if he knew Edward. Isaac responded that he did, and James asked about Marco. Isaac had no idea about anyone named Marco, and insisted that he was the leader of the Dawn. Disgusted with them all, James returned to Maxie, or Ryder, to ask her about the Hound. She laughed at him and tried to leave, saying that it was too dangerous. She remembered that they had all touched the Hound, though, and so they were marked as well. They would die without her help, so she decided to stay on with them temporarily. Aran entered the room at that moment, and told James to start looking for Lily harder. He answered what questions he could about Alex’s kidnapping, and the oil spot in Dublin. Edward suggested they investigate David’s apartment, see if there were any clues as to where Emer may have gone, and why she was here in the first place. James caught her on David’s couch, but she teleported away before he could react. She dropped the book she was reading, The Man Who Would Be King. Edward found that she had moved in to the apartment, it was packed with what appeared to be her belongings, including several stolen trinkets and luxuries. James found a few tallow candles and two liters of blood in a jar. Taking the jar, they left for Lester to talk with him. Edward and James discovered that while Lester knew Marco and spoke highly of him, the Commander had not heard of Isaac. Lester promised to look into what was happening with the Dawn, and gave James notice that a file involving all known cases of Irish women and theft in the past twenty years (to pinpoint Emer) would be waiting for him in three weeks’ time.

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Chapter 6
Misplaced Hands

James ran closer to the action, trying to get close enough to protect Maxie. However, the Hound pounced on her before he could reach. It knocked her to the ground, and Edward drew his cutlass. Maxie tried to get her shield up, but was too distracted. James finally got close enough to wedge himself between the Hound and Maxie, shoving the sewer grate in the Hound’s line of attack. Biting down on the cast iron, the Hound lost a tooth. It quickly melted away into shadow and appeared back in its mouth. The bite also mangled James’s hand. Edward swung at the Hound’s torso, dealing some damage, and Maxie fatigued it. James hit the Hound with the grate, knocking its jaw loose for a moment. Maxie rolled out from beneath the battle, and gave Edward an opening to swing at the Hound’s skull. The skeletal thing started leaking shadows, and James got out from under it as well. He noticed that the vitals were visible and exposed, and so he prepared his shotgun. The Hound switched its attention to Edward and latched on to his torso. Edward grabbed hold of its neck and squeezed, separating the head from the rest of the body as his fingers oozed through the Hound’s shadowy body. Maxie tried to keep the head too tired to do anything, as it still showed signs of life. James blasted the body with his shotgun, revealing its capabilities: after putting significant effort into it, he could force each pellet to hit a single target, ripping it apart. The vitals were punctured, but the body got up and reattached itself to the head. Edward squeezed it off again, and Maxie telekinetically threw the body into a far wall. James shot it again, missing a few pellets because of the range. It staggered and faded away, reappearing attached to its head. Unfortunately, Edward was trying to remove the head from his body, and his hand was trapped in the shadow fibers of the Hound’s neck. Maxie weakened the Hound, allowing Edward to pull his hand free, and James put another volley of pellets into the Hound’s heart. Maxie threw it again, at a closer wall, and it melted away into shadow. The pools of shadow it had left all dissipated, sinking into the London streets.
Hurt, James asked Edward to take him to the same doctor he had given David. Edward lingered outside the townhouse, saying that the doctor was probably busy with David, until a nebbishy man opened the door and invited them in. He said is name was Marco, and he assigned each person a room. A huge Union Jack covered the ceiling of he wide hallway, and there were several doors leading to each side room. Edward was bandaged by a man named Isaac, and Marco healed his wounds. Maxie was led to a room with an adoring fan. And James was taken to a back room where Marco tried to get James to let himself be fixed, both physically and mentally. James allowed Marco to heal his hand, but wouldn’t allow his mind to be linked. Realizing that Marco had been lying for several minutes, James tried to get everyone to leave. Edward joined him, but there was someone standing in front of Maxie’s door. James walked through the illusory guard and found an empty room. Edward found a secret door behind a bookcase and descended into the dark basement. James followed, but Edward tripped and fell, making quite a bit of noise on his way down. James lightly stepped over the giant at the bottom, and felt the walls to find a large room with a table in it. Maxie woke to the sound of Edward’s fall, and was surprised when James touched her leg. She asked to be untied, and, trying to find the ropes, James accidentally found his hand between her legs. Red-faced, he rectified his mistake and untied her. She found she was still too tired to move much after that fight, and Edward carried her away. James found a light switch, and flicked it on to see a group of thirty-two people in black robes surrounding them. Edward pushed his way through them, and found thirty-two more figures on the steps out. James didn’t quite believe they were real, and walked through the circle. Maxie flung several off the steps and they disappeared, further validating James’s conclusion. They all walked out of the basement before remembering about David. Maxie offered to stay outside while the men went back. James found Isaac and asked about the basement, and Marco. Isaac claimed not to know anything about the basement, or anyone named Marco. James turned on Edward then, as the giant has brought them to this place. Edward defended himself, claiming ignorance of the cult in the basement.
Heading back downstairs, James inspected the table Maxie had been laying on. It was covered in fresh blood, and the blood trail clearly led to a small door on the other side of the chamber. Edward opened it to find David’s body slumped in a narrow closet. James knelt down to determine that the cause of death was likely internal bleeding due to blunt trauma, and David’s eyes opened. They were solid black. James punched the dead man, but his mouth opened like the Hound’s. It closed on James’s hand, and severed it at the wrist. Edward slashed at the creature’s stomach, and the hand fell onto the floor. Maxie, drawn back into the house by the continued whispers of “Come back”, heard James’s scream and ran down the steps to the basement. James tried vainly to reattach his hand, and Edward swung his sword at David again. As Maxie rounded the corner to see the scene before her, she slammed the dead man’s head back into the wall. It collapsed, a black splatter spread across the back wall, and he raised his hand at her and screamed an unearthly howl. His head whipped forward, and he yelled, “Ryder! Come back…”

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Chapter 5
Playing Corners

The crew woke to find James missing, with a note in his quarters. It read that he had given up, and was heading back to America. Noticing that he couldn’t have gotten far, and that the closest long-distance port was in London, the ship continued its course. Edward and Maxie thanked Aran for the ride, and he left London. Edward heard a rumour that an arm had washed up on the shore of the Thames, and that there was another murder outside the Wharf. He and Maxie investigated the arm first, determining it had belonged to a very fat individual before it was separated. Edward dropped the arm off on a constable before examining the body. He and Maxie fumbled around a bit before coming to the conclusion that he was a Member of Parliament. He likely died from shock or blood loss, as his throat was slit, his torso was ripped open, and his testes were ripped off. Maxie thought she saw something in the corner of her eye, but all she saw when she looked hard was an ordinary building. Edward noticed this, and the two of them spent some time inspecting the building. Witnesses had claimed the MP had dropped dead in the street, so a psion was likely involved somehow. The two of them refrained from touching the building itself, but Edward pressed a kitten up against the wall to see what would happen. It got very cold and began to shake before Maxie rescued it from him. Trying to sense something about the building, Maxie heard the corner whisper “Come back” in her mind. Stumped, the pair left to go home for the night.
Maxie went back to her estate, and Edward went to Ryan’s house and found James there, reading through his brother’s notes. James asked Edward about his whereabouts the night of Ryan’s death, and where the Calypso’s Revenge got so much etherwood, and why Maxie was lying to everyone. Edward shrugged off the questions, but soon got a phonecall. He was told that David was in danger, and to save him. Gathering everyone together, they stormed David’s apartment. Edward got there first, and saw David fighting with an Irish woman. She was wearing a cloak and brandishing two knives. She was shouting at David, and she mocked Edward when he made his presence known. he teleported David away, and the two fought viciously over rooftops. It ended when the woman dropped David from on high and teleported away. James found that he wasn’t quite dead yet, and they rushed to a doctor Edward claimed to know. The giant carried David into a large townhouse and came back a few minutes later. Maxie heard the corner of the townhouse whisper to her, and James heard it whisper “Let her go”. Convinced something must be following them, James pried open a sewer grate to search the underground. At that moment, a skeletal hound jumped from the corner onto Maxie.

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Chapter 4
Mech v Spinal Battery

Aran interrogated James over his powers, labeling him a liability. Maxie and James both argued in his defence, and the captain eventually relented in favor of getting something done. They all went to Murphy Moore, one of Ryan’s psionic healers, and he fixed up Edward’s chest easily. However, once Moore touched Aran’s leg, the pirate started convulsing. The leg healed extraordinarily quickly, and he could stand on it a few minutes later. The leg was still badly scarred, but functional. Moore, afraid, told them to leave. James paid him for his services and they departed.
They went to Lester’s office to see what he knew about the mech theft. The Commander told them where it was stolen from, and that the theft was nearly silent. Visiting the warehouse, James saw that there were no drag marks on the ground, nor tire treads, meaning the mech was likely moved by another psion. Returning to the Calypso’s Revenge, Nguyen told the group about Russian ships, and how she would alert them if she spotted any on theirtrip to the Etherwood.
On their trip, Nguyen let them know that the Russians were on their tail. Aran ordered the ship to turn about-face, but the Russian dreadnought blew the iron armor off the rear before they could fully turn. Maxie helped speed up the turn, but the dreadnought broke an ether furnace in its second volley. Edward and Maxie lobbed potshots at the Russian crew at random, while Aran fired the spinal battery once the ship was in position. It punched a hole in the opposing ship, ripping open the cargo hold. James took the opportunity to board the Russian ship. He killed most of the topside crew, but was blindsided by the appearance of the mech. Edward missed a killshot on the pilot, and the mech opened fire on James. He fell, unconscious and bleeding, to the floor, and the spinal battery blew through the torso of the mech. It fell as well, and the Russians began a retreat. Maxie rescued James’ body from the ship, and Cookie bandaged him up.
They arrived in the Etherwood a few hours later, and it was suspiciously devoid of people. They found the meteor, and James reached out to touch it. His wounds were completely healed, and he felt truly happy. Maxie touched it, and she was thrown back from it. Aran touched it to see what would happen, but it just felt like a rock. Similar results for Edward. Maxie opened her eyes, and they were purple. She demanded to know where she was, and who those surrounding her were. After everyone stammered out answers to her insane questions, her eyes turned blue again. She had no memory of the event.

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Chapter 3
James

Aran woke to the news of Ryan’s death. He accepted an invitation to the Delvene estate for Ryan’s wake, meeting Maxie and Ryan’s brother there. Edward was notably absent. After a short toast, James called a small group of people to a back room at Ryan’s executor’s request. James read aloud Ryan’s will, and granted certain items and praises to individuals. Edward received a longsword, Maxie received a mail embroidered shirt, Aran received a chest harness with a glowing gem in the center, Edward received six bullets, and James received two pistols and a shotgun. Lester was told to back off from any investigation of Ryan’s death, and he did so gladly. Finally, James read a transcript Ryan wrote of his encounter with the attacker, clearing up a few questions the group had. They drank the night away, and went back to London early in the morning.
The next day, everyone had a constable find them and give a message from Lester: The Russians are back, and they stole the mech. James, not caring much about this ‘Russian’ business, decided to investigate his brother’s murder instead. Due to the time between the event and his investigation, he couldn’t find much. Aran came out and helped him, providing the details and circumstances surrounding the Inspector’s death. As Aran walked back to his ship, his right leg was shattered by a rifle bullet. Looking up, everyone was blinded by the sun’s glare as it came out from behind a cloud. A few more shots missed Aran and the rest of the group, and they began to fire back. The captain killed the soldier who shot him, Maxie shielded herself, Edward ran to a nearby rooftop, and James started running towards Aran’s position. Edward managed to kill several soldiers once he was on the roof, and Aran fired off a few more shots while his crew carried him away. James seemed to speed up, and fired off six shots, three in each direction, in the span of a second. Each one found its mark. However, he also shot at Edward, who dropped his gun and drew his longswords. Jumping from the roof, the Chief Inspector swung his swords mightily down at James… and one of them shattered on Maxie’s skin. She had seen the situation and dropped down to shield James. Demanding to know what was going on, Edward received a second letter from Ryan that James had kept from everybody. It detailed the nature of James’ powers and how he was unique. He was a psion, but his abilities could only affect what he could touch, or more often, his own body. He made himself faster, stronger, better, but he can’t affect anything at a range. Maxie, upon learning James was a psion, asked if he had been to the Etherwood. He said he hadn’t, and she made a plan for them to go together soon.

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Chapter 2
A Death in the Family

Ryan’s life was threatened by a strange woman. Shaken by this, he tried to find Jerry in jail to question him again. Instead, he found a body drained of it’s blood in his cell. When Edward asked the guard why there was no one else in the cell, he replied that Jerry had been put in solitary for fighting with the other inmates. Specifically, Matumbo O’Shaugnnessy. Ryan questioned Matumbo and found out that Jerry was hated within the prison for being an antipsi before Edward shoved the inmate. Ryan defused the potential fight, thanked the guard, and left. Several days passed, and the two were assigned to another murder. The victim had her abdomen partially cut open and her throat slit twice. They found out she was another prostitute, and tried unsuccessfully to find her pimp. All they could get was his name, Jimmy X. They all searched for this man for nearly a week before Ryan began to give up hope. He went to Aran, asking to join his crew. Aran flatly refused to let him be a boarder, he didn’t have the physicality for it, but he would allow him safe passage out of the country. Ryan thanked him and went to the University to tell Lily. She refused to leave. She claimed her work thee was too important. She finally reneged when he told her of the danger, and they went home to pack their bags. On their way to the Calypso’s Revenge, the threat was carried out. Ryan received a knife in his stomach, and Lily couldn’t heal him with the materials she had. They said their final goodbyes, and the last thing Ryan saw was his wife getting choked by a stranger.

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Chapter 1
Assembling the Team

Ryan and Edward found the Calypso’s Revenge in the Wharf, drydocked with a crane unloading a heavy piece of cargo. After Edward set himself up on a nearby rooftop, Ryan talked his way past Omar, the ship’s guard, with a bottle of scotch. He sat down with Aran, and proceeded to explain the situation for him, hoping the pirate would come quietly. Just as they were about to come to an agreement, Omar’s head exploded. Quickly explaining that it was the fault of a third party, Ryan joined Aran in looking for cover. Ryan analyzed the body, and determined that the bullet came from a military-grade rifle to the east. A second shot shattered a window behind Aran. They passed around a spyglass, looking east, until Alex saw the glint of a scope on a building east-by-northeast to their position. Kamnan started to aim in that direction, but could not spot the shooter. Edward, due to his vantage point, could. He fired once into the shooter’s left leg, and again into his right arm. The killer bled out on the rooftop before anyone could get to him. Aran scavenged the rifle and ammunition from the body, and the police found a Russian insignia on his shoulder. Aran flinched away at that, and agreed to come to Scotland Yard for protection. After docking the ship in a warehouse, Lester debriefed Edward and called in Maxie to lift the cargo out. She did so easily, astounding Ryan and impressing Aran. Lester found an ether sail punctured by a bullet, and told Aran to replace it. The captain instead fast-talked his way into a replacement sail and a $9,500 stipend.
Two weeks passed. The group visited Maxie’s performance, and she got to know them all a little better. Ryan shared his weapon plans with Edward, and they began construction. And someone was murdered. Stabbed thirty-nine times and violated, Ryan and Edward were assigned to her case. Aran offered to help, and the three went to the body to see what they could find. Ryan analyzed the body and saw that the violation had occurred while the victim was still alive, but that many of the stab wounds occurred post-mortem. Aran went into a nearby pub and asked the bartender if he knew anything about the girl. He implied she was a working girl, often seen in the pub, and she had left with a big guy around dawn. Edward questioned other girls on the corner, and one of them told them to ask her pimp, David. The group entered a tenant house centered around a high density of prostitutes, and looked up all the rooms housing a “David” in the building. Edward found the correct one, and determined the pimp to be teleporter. Something blocked his power that morning, however, which meant they were looking for an anti-psi. Visiting Maxie, they asked about any large anti-psis in the area. She flew them over to a shack on the outskirts of town, and told them Jerry lived there. He wasn’t home. They flew at low heights away from the house to find Jerry, and they got him when they found their faces impacting gravel. A little scuffed up, Ryan tried to get Jerry to turn himself in. Edward chased him when he ran, and Ryan cuffed him. He was thrown in Scotland Yard, and two more weeks passed.
During a night of heavy drinking, Aran confessed something to Edward. The reason he drank so heavily around psions was because he got a headache around them, one that increased in severity the longer he spent in their presence. But Maxie gave him the worst, because she was so powerful. Ryan suggested they visit her to have her probe the pirate’s mind, and maybe see if there was a reason for this mental block. Once in Maxie’s room, Aran was more than a little scared to go through with it, but Maxie quieted him down. She probed his mind, but only cam back with one word: Helang. Aran rushed out of the room while Ryan questioned Maxie further. After the Investigator visited Aran outside, the pirate told him about his past, and what Helang meant to him.
The next week was the wedding. After Lily walked down the aisle and the bride and groom stood face to face, all hell broke loose. Aran, the best man, crashed through the large stained-glass window as his entrance. He acted respectfully once he was in the wedding, but his entrance was a little nerve-wracking. The lovely couple kissed after sharing their vows, and were bound in holy matrimony.

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Prologue
What's Past is Prelude

This is not a happy story. This is not a story that will make you feel good, unless you happen to get off on the pain and suffering of others. It is, however, a hopeful story. All is never lost, spirits are never shattered. Empires rise and fall, friendships are made and broken, hope is ignited and snuffed out. And so the story goes. It started in Dundrum and it ended in Wiltshire, spanning thirty years and the world’s length and breadth in between. It follows a band of misfits, struggling to make sense of the world they live in and a world they never knew. This is the story of the latter third of the nineteenth century and the people who shaped it.

As everyone knows, a small meteorite fell in Dundrum, Ireland on the twelfth night of August, 1865. It was nothing particularly special, as meteorites go. Average size, average material, average fall. One can only imagine the scene: a mellow Celtic pasture, the moonbeams lighting the way for a grazing horse or two, when a chunk of starstuff screams toward the ground in a fiery descent. It hits the field at a bad angle, sending mud and flaming weeds flying even as it buries itself in its own crater. The fires put themselves out over the course of the night, but the earth under the celestial stone bakes for hours, never letting the rock cool. If one were to be there, they might see a violet mist seep from the cracks in the meteorite, diffusing into the surrounding Irish air. If one were to then collect what they could of that vapor… it’s lucky, then, that no one was on the scene that night. The meteorite would not be found for several days, not until the crater had cooled and solidified. It would be dubbed a shooting star, and the villagers would simply be thankful it hadn’t hit any livestock. But ancient philosophers once theorized that shooting stars were falling angels. For once, they were right.

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