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[PW!] Phoenix

  • Phoenix
  • Video Games
Last response: in PC Gaming
May 29, 2005 9:17:19 PM

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To call this event a party would be a definitive misnomer. Yes,
people were gathered, drinks were being served, and lively discussion
was taking place. However, any onlooker who thought this was a party
would swiftly see the error in his logic; they were in a funeral
parlor, and an open coffin rested in one corner of the room.

"I don't understand why we have to go through this whole
'wake' thing," one tall, sturdily-built woman with graying blonde
hair noted. She poured herself another glass of wine and continued,
"I mean, she's dead. Cremate her and get it over with."

"Claire, come on!" a much thinner, dark haired woman noted in a
nasally, high-pitched voice. "Have a little respect for the dead!
Helen was probably one of the best employers we could've asked
for!" She gasped in surprise, then asked, "Do you treat everyone
who's important to you like that?"

"Have you seen her last boyfriend?" a dour-faced man asked, his
voice ringing with a British accent.

The nasal-voiced woman turned to the dour-faced Brit and pointed
out, "You are her last boyfriend."

"Exactly," the dour-faced man replied.

Claire huffed, then noted, "Well at least now this company can get
back on its feet." As her two drinking mates began to take on a
surprised look, she continued, "Helen was a lot of things, but a good
businesswoman she wasn't. And I don't even want to think about how
she fared as a mother."

"Claire, does backstabbing come naturally to you, or do you

Claire wheeled around in shock to find the familiar visage of her
former boss's youngest daughter. "Alexandria, I..."

"I'm just curious," Alexandria Masters asked, a small glass of
wine in one hand, leaning on the bar, her face leaning towards more
stern questioning than simple curiosity.

"Um, well, you know me with alcohol," Claire stammered,
attempting to recover from her own inept actions. "A little bubbly on
the brain me." She quickly backed off, still under
Alex's vaguely menacing gaze.

As Claire got out of earshot, Alex and the two executives chuckled
warmly, light laughter breaking out after a minute. "Mom was right,
she is easy to spook out," Alex replied.

"You should've seen the Halloween party three years ago," the
dour Brit noted, a smile beginning to grow on his face. "Claire had
such a scare that night when your mother arranged for a Seviper to be
part of the party."

"And yet she never had a problem with acne again," the
nasal-sounding woman was quick to note.

The laughter continued for a few more seconds before Alex took a
breath and noted, "Yeah. Seriously though, Bobbie, Niles, I'm glad
you came. Mom would've appreciated it."

"After she gave us these real jobs after she started up the
company?" Bobbie asked in disbelief. "Please, this is the least we
can do."

"Speaking of, Alexandria, who will be taking her position once
everything is said and done?" Niles asked. "Helen never quite
revealed who she hoped to succeed her, but I always assumed it would be
you or your sister."

"I don't know," Alex noted as she took a light sip. "I mean,
look at me. I'm not even eighteen yet; who's going to take a kid
for a CEO seriously? This isn't some inane Japanese cartoon, after

"Certainly ain't a sitcom either," Bobbie was quick to note.
"What about your sister, though? I mean, she's got to be taking
this pretty hard."

Alex glanced over to her elder sister Cassandra, who was solemnly
standing near her mother's coffin, and said, "She's taking this
kinda hard, yeah. Speaking of, I'd better check on her. Don't go
too overboard with the drinks, okay?"

"Oh, don't worry, we'll be fine," Bobbie assured Alex as she
walked to find her sister. With a glance towards Niles, she noted,
"That girl's really taking this all so well. If it were me, I'd
be bawling my eyes out."

"Well, some people are more reasonable about things than
others," Niles was quick to note.

Meanwhile, Alex gently laid a hand upon her sister's shoulder and
said, "Hey. You doing okay?"

"Yeah, I guess," Cass replied, uncertainty in her voice. "That
was a good eulogy you gave for Mom, by the way."

"I hope I did her justice," Alex answered. "But you seem to be
adjusting to this a lot better than I'd thought you would. Care to

"Well, maybe you're maturity is kinda rubbing off on me," Cass
suggested. "And it might have something to do with not feeling as
much alone as I thought I was."

"Finally remembered you've got a sister to share in the grief,
huh?" Alex asked.

"Like I need to be reminded about that," Cass dryly replied.
"One of the big things about all of this was that I felt, well,
alone. I mean, I never knew my dad, and now Mom's gone. Aside from
you, I felt like I'd lost all the family I ever had." She turned to
her sister, and said, "But I'm glad I'm wrong for once." With
Alex's quizzical look, she explained, "My dad's parents are still
alive, Alex."

"That's great!" Alex nearly exclaimed. "Are you going to
meet them? Call them? What?"

"I don't know," Cass admitted, her voice beginning to shift.
"I didn't even know about them until a couple days ago. They stayed
out of my life, for reasons I can't begin to understand or fathom. I
want to keep some connection to my family, but if they just don't

"You don't know that for sure, do you?" Alex asked.

"No, but them not contacting me at all through all of this
doesn't exactly inspire hope and joy, now does it?" Cass countered.
"What do you think I should do?"

"Contact them," Alex replied. "Give it every effort. Hell, if
Bob Stack weren't dead, I'd say go on 'Unsolved Mysteries' with
it. But if you have a chance of contacting them, then do it. Besides,
time heals all wounds; and if they're as old as my grandmother,
they've had a lot of time to think about things."

Cass pursed her lips in thought, and asked, "And you still don't
want to run the company?"

"Many things I am," Alex replied in a slight Yoda voice.
"Harry Osborn, I am not."

Both girls chuckled slightly. After a few short seconds, Cass
changed the subject, and asked, "So, why the wine? You know better
than me what alcohol does to you."

"I figure I'm safe with a small amount," Alex replied.
"That's why I have a small glass."

"Still, you'd better limit yourself," Cass advised. "You
remember what happened the last time someone on your side of the family
tree drank too much alcohol."

"I remember," Alex replied. "That's why Grandma borrowed
some tranquilizers from her elder sister. Just in case."

"Just in case," Cass reminded her. As Alex went off to get rid
of her drink, Cass turned back to her deceased mother and noted, "She
never changes, huh Mom?"


Elsewhere, just outside Lilycove Harbor, a deep blue twin-rotor
helicopter roared over the water, a Duskull and crossbones subtly
marked upon the blades of its rotors. A small tower rose out of the
sea, its roof opening up to allow the small helicopter entrance. The
aircraft silently slipped into its berth as the roof closed in above
it, the tower descending into the ocean depths.

Within the small hangar, an array of lights flashed on, fully
illuminating the chopper within and its important occupant. Several
Aqua Grunts rushed about, presenting themselves for inspection as their
direct supervisor, a short and somewhat stocky individual called
Sharkey, nervously watched his important guest exit the craft.

"Admin Leif, sir, welcome to the Lilycove Base," Sharkey said
with righteous deference.

"You can dispense with the pleasantries, Admin Sharkey," Leif
Henrik noted as he exited his chopper, his long coat billowing behind
him like a cape. "I need a report immediately; what happened here?"

"It's somewhat of a mystery to us, sir," Sharkey replied as
the hatches opened, allowing him and his superior to walk into the
Lilycove base proper. "Two hours ago, our firewall was breached. We
initially thought it was an attack by Team Magma, but no data
concerning our base locations, our general defenses, or anything
directly relating to our long-term plans has been taken. In fact, only
one set of files was copied; one given the highest security, by your
own orders; files from the Masters research facility near the Hoenn
Safari Zone."

"I hope to Goddish they just copied the breeding files," Leif
noted as they entered the Computer Center.

Surrounding them, and beneath them, were hundreds of immense,
water-cooled computer banks; trillions upon trillions of gigabytes of
processing power surrounded them as they descended to a long row of
displays, numerous people around them, their pale, pasty skin a perfect
compliment to the darkened room. Sharkey and Leif walked to one in
particular, flanked by a Feraligatr holding a cask of Berry Juice.
"Admin Leif, sir, this is Stefan. He's the one who discovered the

"I have Aegir to thank for that more than anything, sir," the
bespectacled lab tech noted. "He pointed it out to me; I just figured
out what file it was and alerted Admin Sharkey, as per regulations."

The Feraligatr hiccupped as he took a bow, being careful not to
spill his drink.

"Well Stefan, did you look at the file?" Leif asked.

"Just enough to figure out what it was," Stefan replied. "No
real title, just some initials."

"EHGR?" Leif asked, as if anticipating the answer.

"Yes, that's it," Stefan replied. "No idea what it stands
for, and I don't think it's my job to know."

"It isn't," Leif replied. "But you did a good job
nonetheless. You'll be up on the next list of transfers to my base at
the Forsaken Ship." He looked at the Feraligatr again, and added,
"And I'll make sure to get Aegir as much Berry Juice as he wants,
and a supply of Mystic Water."

"Feeh-raahl," Aegir noted again, a hiccup punctuating the end of
his note of thanks.

"In the meantime, I want security tightened on the entire computer
network, and I need a transport readied to the surface," Leif
replied. "There's someone in Lilycove who needs to know what has
happened here."

"Who?" Starkey asked.

"The daughter of who we have to thank for that file," Leif
replied as he turned away, heading back towards the elevator. "And
one whose life may very well be in jeopardy."


"I'm glad you could make it," Elizabeth Masters said, her
voice tinged with both joy and urgency.

"Well, from everything you said, it sounded urgent," the woman
with her noted. She was of the same height and physical build, only
with deep brown eyes and hair with only a few wisps of blonde remaining
among a sea of light gray. "Besides, a girl needs to visit her little
sister every now and again, doesn't she?"

Beth grinned, then replied, "Serena, you stopped being a girl when
you turned twenty."

"Never quite goes out of you, even if you go gray," Serena
deRolias, Beth's elder sibling, noted with a light chuckle. "So,
how are the kids holding up?"

"I think they'll be okay," Beth replied. "Alex has grown
into a fairly mature girl, after everything she's been through, and
Cass is starting to recover. They aren't the problem." She sighed,
then noted, "I saw Helen before she passed on; she told me to tell
Alex everything."

"Can you blame her?" Serena asked. "She was attacked, Beth, by
four bounty hunters and the guy who tried to kill her when she was a
baby. She's entitled to know the full truth now, more than ever

"Yes, she is," Beth replied. "That's why I wanted you here.
You went into genetics, and you and her father were keeping track of
the family line. Plus, you're one of the few physicians on the planet
that we can really trust in the event that something happens to her. I
figured both of us should give her the complete story; how Canmore knew
about her and everything like that."

"Fair enough," Serena replied. "Where is she now?"

As if on cue, the front door to the Masters home opened, revealing
Alex, clearly inebriated and nearly being dragged in by her elder
sister. "The good newsh ish, the pillsh kept me from feeling up the
guysh," Alex explained. "The bad newsh ish, I'm gonna have a
whopper of a headache in the morning. Hi Auntie Serena; thanksh for the

"Dear lord, how much did she drink?" Serena asked as she wrapped
Alex's free arm around her shoulder.

"One small glass, barely three fluid ounces," Cass answered.
"And here I wondered why you always cautioned her about alcohol."

"And me saying, 'the last person with Extaxian genes who got
drunk on this planet was pregnant two days later' wasn't clear
enough?" Serena asked. "C'mon, help me get her upstairs. I've
got tranquilizers; between them and the alcohol, she should be okay."

"I'm never touching thish shtuff again," Alex vowed.


"So what happened?" Carol asked in disbelief.

"Alex had a little too much wine," Beth explained. "Members of
this family really can't handle alcohol."

"Part of the whole alien thing, huh?" Carol casually noted.

"Yeah, kind of an occupational..." Beth noted as she took a sip
of her drink. She paused, almost comically, as she realized just what
had been said. "She told you?"

"Yeah, she kinda told all of us," Carol admitted. "Ben, her
hubby? She told him after that first attack from the bounty hunters. I
think Tsu knows, but I don't think she believes her or anything. And
she told me not long after she killed that Canmore guy."

Beth sighed. "I tried to tell her before she left; keep it to
yourself." Rubbing her right temple, she noted, "Of course, I
didn't see her having the gusto to enter that tournament, or the
possibility of Canmore sending bounty hunters after her."

"And I did save her butt a couple times," Carol noted.

"That too," Beth replied. "And I'm grateful for that. Just
keep that to yourself, okay?"

"Who am I gonna tell?" Carol asked. "'Sides, I've seen
weirder things than aliens in my day, trust me."

Before Beth could inquire further, Alex half-shambled into the room
and sat down with them, rubbing her own forehead. "Remind me to write
a complaint to Chateau Belloq once this headache goes away," was her
only statement on the matter.

"You going to be okay?" Beth asked.

"Yeah, just don't have me operating heavy machinery," Alex
replied. "Is Aunt Serena still here?"

"Yes, just waiting for us," Beth replied. "There's something
she and I both need to talk with you about, but it's probably wiser
to wait until..."

"No," Alex replied. "Just make sure there's plenty of
Tylenol waiting for me."

Beth seemed to consider that for a minute, before she said,
"Alright. I'll go get her." She rose to her feet, and left the

"So, what do you think this is?" Carol asked. "Revelations?"

"I wouldn't be surprised," Alex replied.


[NS: This is a big one; more to come tomorrow.]

More about : phoenix

May 31, 2005 10:28:45 PM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

William Rendfeld wrote:
> A long silence followed, before Peabody asked, "So, what now?"
> "For now, I need the both of you back," Leif replied. "We need
> to find out who got into the system and how, and I know I can trust the
> two of you to get the job done."
> "And we contact the rest of the family, and the people watching
> our backs," Beth replied. "But right now, Alex is probably the
> major prime target for them."
> "Why?" Sven asked. "I mean, what's so special about her?"
> "Remember what we said about only four Extaxians staying on Earth
> for any long period of time?" Serena asked. "Alex is one of them.
> The other three are either dead, no longer on the planet, or in hiding.
> Killing her would be a psychological victory. Besides, she just killed
> one of them; it's personal." She turned to Alex and said, "And
> while you can take care of yourself pretty dang well, kid, I think you
> could stand a little extra security."
> "Considering Canmore sent bounty hunters after me, and I could
> barely deal with two at a time on my own?" Alex replied. "Oh yeah,
> a little help would be nice."
> "Wait...take care of herself?" Sven asked. "No offense, but I
> don't see a gun on this girl."
> "I don't need one," Alex replied. "Telepathy, remember?
> Plus, thanks to my Extaxian physique, I'm about twenty-five percent
> stronger, faster, and more agile than the average human. Add to it that
> I've studied three martial arts, gymnastics, and the ballet, as well
> as the fact that I'm in good physical condition, and I'm pretty
> good. Besides, I don't carry around a sword and a pike just because
> they look cool."
> "The fact that she isn't dead after dealing with four bounty
> hunters with years more experience than her more than proves she's a
> capable fighter," Leif added. "But just to be safe, I want to speak
> to someone about keeping an eye on her."
> "Who?" Alex replied.
> "Someone I trust."

Within an hour, Alex began packing up a few things. They'd be
leaving soon; the funeral was taken care of, the will was read...there
was no good reason to stay.

A light knock brought her attention to the doorframe. "Beth filled
me in on everything," Cass said as she walked in. "How you holding

"Better than I'd thought," Alex replied. "I take it things
went well with your dad's family."

"It's a good start," Cass admitted. "We're going to talk
again soon, arrange a meeting. Right now it looks good."

"Glad to hear it," Alex replied.

Both sisters remained silent for a bit, before Cass noted,
"Something's bugging you."

Alex sighed, then answered, "I don't know, Cass. I'm glad to
finally have everything spelled out, but...I wish I'd known sooner. I
wish they'd have told me before. I feel like Luke Skywalker, just
finding out that Vader was his father."

"If I'd had my say, you would've," a familiar voice noted as
the two girls looked to Alex's bedroom door. "Your mother thought
she was protecting you all this time, Alex. That you shouldn't have
known. That you didn't need that burden of information. Maybe she was
right on some points, at one time, but now you should know, and do

"I wish I'd known before," Alex noted.

Beth sat down to Alex's left and asked, "Alex, if you'd known
about Canmore, about everything else, would you have started your
journey? Would you have taken part in the Silver Conference, had these
adventures, met all the people you've met along the way?"

"How else could you have crossed paths with Doppler, or Aerie, or
Bob?" Cass asked. "Hell, there's no way you would've met Nori
under other circumstances. And don't tell me you regret meeting any
of them."

"I don't," Alex replied. "Whether I like it or not, being
around them has changed things, both ways. And it wouldn't be right
for me to just mope around now, living in fear after everything I've
been through."

"No, it wouldn't," Beth replied as she picked up something
that she remembered just as well as Alex did. "Dad never told me, or
anyone, how he got this sword. Maybe it was a gift from some distant
relative of Mom's, maybe he just found it in a rock somewhere. But
wherever he got it, however he got it, it was his. And he gave it to
you. That says something, kid."

Alex sighed, and noted, "Things were a lot simpler when it all

"That's life," Beth replied. "All we can do is deal with it.
After all, we're only human."

Alex looked at her grandmother in surprise, and smiled.

"No sweat, kid," Beth responded in turn with a chuckle.

"Well if that's all taken care of, I've got something I need
to tell everyone," Cass noted as she rose to her feet. "And I'd
rather you be there to hear it first-hand."

"We'll be down in a minute, Cass," Alex promised.

As Cass left the room, Alex finally asked her mother, "So, you
killed Canmore's father?"

"Self-defense," Beth replied, pulling down the right shoulder on
her dress to reveal an old bullet wound. "He shot me, I stabbed him.
Lucky for me it wasn't life-threatening, and Serena was in med school
by then."

Alex looked at her in disbelief, and replied, "You're taking it
a lot better than I was."

"It was forty years ago," Beth replied as they rose to their
feet. "Besides, he shot me. What was I supposed to do, bleed to

"Point," Alex replied as they walked out of the room. "It
didn't solve anything, though."

"No, but it bought some time," Beth replied. "My parents saw
the beginning of this. Maybe you'll see the end."


By noon, Lilycove was experiencing an all-too-rare event. The skies
were clear, the sun was shining, and things were comfortable for a
change. Reflecting the sun's serene rays were the multiple glass
windows of the MasterCorp building.

MasterCorp, founded less than ten years prior by Helen Masters, was
not the most important company in Hoenn, nor the most profitable.
However, it was still ranked fairly high, and was respected as one of
the fastest-growing and most stable companies in Hoenn, becoming the
seven-highest grossing company in Hoenn. It specialized in
manufacturing, specifically the development and research into advanced
alloys. It's most prestigious achievement was that it was the
developer and sole manufacturer of psionium alloy. Sadly, MasterCorp
always had to be careful about who the metal was sold to, or who the
buyers sold it to in turn.

Helen Masters had started the company from the ground up, bringing
over many people who she knew and trusted to help her make the company
a success. Her hard work had been a success, but with her gone, the
company's future seemed uncertain, save for one thing; man and nature
both abhor a vacuum.

"Oh, this is just damn annoying," Claire noted as she looked
down upon the city from the windows of the MasterCorp conference room.
"We should have a new CEO by now."

"Oh come on, give it a little time," Bobbi replied. "You know
how she set up the company bylaws. The successor has to have a majority
of ownership in the company, simple as that."

"Knew I should've bought up more of the stock," Claire replied
under her breath.

A chime sounded from one of the phones on the table. Niles, who had
also been summoned to this meeting, picked up the receiver and
answered, "Yes, Miss Briggs? Oh excellent, send them in." He set
the phone down and said, "They're arriving now."

"Who?" Claire asked impatiently.

The door to the conference room opened, revealing a very familiar
face. "Morning everyone," Alexandria Masters greeted them in her
normal clothes. "Hope I didn't get everyone together at an
inconvenient time."

"As long as it's actually important," Claire impatiently
noted. "So, why the hell are you even here? Don't tell me you're
the new CEO?"

"No," Alex answered. "I'm just her escort."

Alex stepped to one side to allow entry to another young woman. She
wore a deep blue business suit, the skirt ending just below her knees
and allowing her more than enough freedom of movement. A deep brown
briefcase was held in her right hand, and her long red hair was held in
a long braid reaching down to the small of her back.

"Good morning everyone," Cassandra Gale noted with a light
smile. "As you're all well aware, MasterCorp bylaws state that the
new CEO should have control of the majority of the stock. Between
Mom's will and her own statements on the matter, as well as the
generous contributions of my younger sister, I now own exactly
fifty-one percent of the stock. Thus, pending approval from the board
of directors, I am the new chief executive officer of MasterCorp."

Claire was flabbergasted. "That's absurd! How could you

"Company bylaws, Claire, you helped write them," Alex replied.

"But why...?" Claire asked.

"Mom built this company," Cass explained. "I don't want to
see it go down the drain. Nor do I want her friends to be out of a

"On the streets," Alex noted with a wink towards Niles and

"Financially destitute," Niles chimed in, understanding their

"Left to die in the gutter," Bobbi added with a nod.

Claire considered that option. "Cassandra, dearest, I'd always
hoped you'd be the one to take possession of your mother's company.
You always seemed so level-headed, so brilliant...can I get you some
coffee? I'll get you coffee."

As Claire made a mad dash out of the office, Cass smiled and said,
"I never thought I'd see her run that fast."

"Take her to the next Colson Industries press conference," Niles
advised. "You should see her around that man. But in all seriousness,
it is good to have you onboard, Cassandra. Your mother would be happy
and proud."

"Thank you Niles," Cass replied as she set her briefcase on the
desk near her mother's old chair. "Meanwhile, I'm going to need
you both. It'll be a while before I settle into the groove, and I
don't want to make any mistakes."

"Hey, we like having money too," Bobbi assured her. "We're
with you, kid."

Cass smiled in appreciation. "Thanks Bobbi." She turned to her
younger sister and said, "So, what now sis?"

"I'm going to meet back up with the others back home, then head
off," Alex replied. "Sven and Peabody are off my back now, and my
new benefactor's leaving someone else to keep an eye on me. Besides,
Grandma wants to make sure I set off right."

"Good luck with that tournament, Alex," Cass encouraged.

"Good luck here, Cass," Alex reciprocated.

The two siblings hugged, and Alex left, silently thinking to
herself, _Face it, tigers; you've hit the jackpot._


A few hours later, Alex was fully packed and ready to go. Her
supplies were restocked, her gear was ready, and everyone else was
waiting for her outside. This was it; in a few days' time, she'd be
in Fortree City, preparing herself for her next tournament. This time,
things would be different. This time, she felt ready.

Only one thing loomed on her mind; she felt a presence. Not very
strong, but constant, as if around her, waiting for its chance.

Alex cast the thought aside; since meeting Canmore, she'd been a
little too jumpy. She needed to relax. As she walked out of her room,
however, another silently waited for her chance.


"So those two Aqua goons who have been following us around are
gone," Nori noted. "Fine with me. Any more surprises?"

"Nope," Alex replied. "And I'm more than ready to get
moving. We've got a lot of road to cover, and the sooner we start,
the sooner we'll finish."

"Fine with me," Nori replied.

As the quartet of Trainers and their various escorts set off again,
Ben sidled up to Alex and asked, "So, you think you'll be okay?"

Alex smiled, turned to him, and said, "Yeah. I think I'll be


As the group departed to the east, Beth and Serena kept their eyes
on Alex's group as it moved off. "You think she'll be okay?"
the elder sister asked.

"I feel a lot better now that she knows about who's out
there," Beth replied. "She's prepared now. She knows what she
needs to know. But there's still a lot that she doesn't know."

"That stuff she doesn't need to know," Serena replied. "Who
Marina was to Extaxia, what's happened out there since she came's not important, at least not now. If something happens, if
they decide to go public, then we'll tell her. For now, however, she
doesn't need to know."

"You're probably right," Beth noted. "Still, we should at
least write it down somewhere. We won't be around forever."

"Never said we shouldn't, sis," Serena replied. "I'll
contact Darien and Akima first; they can get the word out. In the
meantime, all we can do is hope."

Beth smiled. "Good thing I'm used to it."


[NS: Whew. This thing took me over a week to write, thanks to
distractions. Some people have loud neighbors; I have loud relatives.
Anyhow, it's written and done, and the cards are all out on the table.
Hopefully, I don't have any plotholes left over, and all the loose ends
from the initial Canmore arc are tied up. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to
continue from here, go ahead.]