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[Open] Adapting To A New Environment

Peter and Sinclair step out of the Nexus gate and see a heavily secured area before them. Stormtroopers are all over the place, and the only way forward takes them through a scanner. Peter isn't phased by the high security and the uniformity of the guards, and he doesn't draw any conclusions from this first impression. Most other people would think that these defenses are in place to protect Coruscant from a great danger, and many others would take it as a sign that Coruscant is under strict authoritarian rule. Peter has a different point of view. After being in so many universes, he knows better than to trust that his own logic would apply here, especially in this uniquely strange universe. Until he understands this place's culture and logic, he won't draw any conclusions about what he sees. One of the stormtroopers gestures towards the scanner and says, "This way. One at a time." His voice is dull and drained, as if he's said these words many times before.

First Sinclair steps through the scanner, then Peter. A stormtrooper checks the scans for a brief moment and decides they're good to go. "Thank you for your cooperation. Welcome to Coruscant." A different stormtrooper by the exit says to both of them. Sinclair nods at the guard as he and Peter start to leave, but then the guard continues to speak. "I see we've got a new Prime, huh?" He says with an enthusiasm that isn't normally seen in overworked guards. "It's Peter, right?"

"Yes." Peter says, slightly unnerved that this stranger already knows his name.

"You've made a right choice in coming to Coruscant. The Empire provides many opportunities for newcomers like you." He holds out a business card with white text on a dark background. "If you're looking for direction or just need a job, just give the Empire Peace Division a call or come on over to their recruitment headquarters."

Peter hesitates before taking the business card and slipping it into his pocket. "Thank you." He says without enthusiasm before leaving with Sinclair.

"Thank you. Have a wonderful day!" The stormtrooper replies.

Peter and Sinclair step out of the secure area. Before them is a beautifully grand city with sky-piercing buildings. The pathways are filled with pedestrians, and hundreds of hovercars are in the sky. Peter cranes his neck to look up at the buildings near him, observing the peculiar way the daylight shines on their smooth exteriors. He looks back at Sinclair, as if to ask 'Now what?'

Sinclair checks his watch, his eyebrows arching and a bit of annoyance crossed his facial features as he curled his lips. It was like someone dressed up with nowhere to go. He was no longer in his city, New Vekta.

It was then after Peter grabbed the business card with a smile that showed a bit of fear, he nodded at the armored man and nodded ‘Come on, Peter. I’ll explain on the way.” Sinclair didn’t like the fact that the Empire knew his name and his code name and it was a bit scary when he first came but it was about the same in New Helghan every time a spy of his had to cross the wall back and forth.

When Sinclair cleared his throat, he meant all business. However it was clear he couldn’t trust anyone with his secrets. The last time he did, his spy betrayed him for a agent on the other side.
It was clear what he had on his mind. It was directing Vekta into another war for a better future. Why surrender to the Helghast when there was a way to make sure his side won, right? That’s what the popular opinion was all over New Vekta right?

“Peter, this here is Tier 1. The most guarded part of Coruscant. He eyed the crowds, literally almost a bit paranoid for a second. He whispered so only Peter could hear “Listen, the Empire knows everything about you. Who you are and what you are.”

“I’ll clue you in on who I really am.”

“My name is Thomas Sinclair, I .. used to hold a position as a Spy director on Vekta, my home planet. My frontline spy who I watched grow up, betrayed me for a woman on the other side.”

“Let’s keep.. Moving..”

Sinclair kept eyeing various landmarks as he pointed out the Empire’s crown and glory: Emperor Palpatine.

“Also, be careful on what you type on computers. The empire can track things back to you. But everything here is Empire sanctioned. Don’t believe what you hear on there all the time. Believe me.”

“So, be honest and upfront with me, Peter. Where are you heading toward?”

Peter, looking down tried to look Sinclair in the eyes "I want to go home."

Sinclair genuinely felt bad for the other man "I'm sorry, Peter. But I haven't found a way home yet. There's no recorded way to go back."

"I know a way." Peter says, confidence in his voice despite his apparent unhappiness. It's one thing to be stubborn, but it's clear that Peter earnestly believes that he can get out of here. With his voice low, he says, "Since you've told me who you are, it's only fair if I do the same. I am Peter Smithson, and I am an Eldritch Exterminator. Before coming here, I was part of a crew that scoured through and between universes to hunt down abominations." He says as they walk through the crowded city. Unable to keep himself from bragging, he adds "I had slain creatures that could eat thousands of cities like this for breakfast." He continues with an explanation "Now, the reason why I'm looking for an extra-universal communicator is to contact my crew. It's hard to believe, but our ship can travel into and out of universes, so they can just come and pick me up." It's only a matter of time before Peter realizes that escaping the Omniverse won't be so easy.

Sinclair was quiet for a second, mulling over a response.  "Interesting line of work, Peter. How big were these abominations?". Sinclair was just making small talk as Peter and the man talked over various things.

Its then Sinclair waved down a flying taxi.

"Going to the elevator down to Tier 5 Library." Sinclair explained more to the driver and nodded, he dug some of the extra om he pocketed from trading some Vektan cash and nodded

The driver turned back "To the elevators going to Tier 5? It will be a quick ride."

Sinclair paid for Peter and himself and nodded as both of them stared out a window, observing for some other viewpoint of the Tier elevators.

As the taxi lifted down to the elevators, the driver nodded "Be careful out there. Hear Tier 5 is dangerous."

Sinclair nodded and then looked at Peter "Come on, we are at the elevators."

As they sit on a park bench to recuperate from the long walk to Coruscant, Peter and Sinclair talk for a good while. For a moment they forget about their oppressive surroundings as they learn more about each other. Peter is interested by Sinclair's descriptions of the advanced civilization he was once a part of, and Sinclair is impressed but also confused by Peter's recollections of his inter-universal travels. As far as he can tell, Peter and his crew fought abominations without using spaceships, instead using handheld weapons that sounded like something a hyperactive 10 year old made up like supernova cannons and atom-smashing darts. The conversation soon focuses on Sinclair's past, as he tells Peter of his battles against the Helghast in his universe. He reveals his hatred of the Helghast for what they had done, but keeps his behavior subdued and eloquent. As he listens to Sinclair, Peter slowly comes to a realization. At some point, Peter says, "You know, I've realized something. We haven't really had the same job, you've been in the military and I've been a hunter, but I feel we've been doing the same thing: teaming up with others to fight evil and save lives."

Sinclair smiles. "You know, you're right. Fundamentally, we're both soldiers that fight for what we believe in. The only difference is who we're fighting." He pauses for a moment, then stands up. "I think we should get back on track. You need an extra-universal communicator, correct?"

Peter nods.

Sinclair takes a moment to think. He looks around the city. "I have an idea." He suddenly hails a flying taxi. Confused by Sinclair's sudden action, Peter decides to just go along with Sinclair, who pays the driver and asks him to take them over to an elevator to a library on Tier 5. The driver's warning of Tier 5's danger catches Peter's attention. He realizes that he doesn't have a gun with him. Peter remembers that Omnilium can be used to make weapons, but now's not really a good time for that.

The drive to the elevator is quick, and as they exit the vehicle Peter asks, "What library are we going to?"

"The Archives of Ultan." Sinclair says. "I can explain more when we get off the elevator." He briefly tilts his head in a specific direction. Peter looks in that direction and sees a close-by squad of patrolling stormtroopers.

"I gotcha." Peter says quietly. They approach the elevator doors, which are almost surrounded by a group of people waiting to enter. After a few moments, the doors enter, and the two men pack into the elevator with the crowd. The man closest to the elevator controls pushes the button to Tier 2, then turns to the crowd and asks, "Where to?" Some of the people say Tier 3, a couple say Tier 4. Sinclair is the only one who says Tier 5. The man gives Sinclair a look before pushing the Tier 5 button. The doors close, and the elevator starts to descend.

Little does Peter know, he's being spied on. A stormtrooper, clad not in armor but instead in a suit and tie, is watching live footage of Peter on a security console. With his chair leaned back and his feet on the console, he stares at the screen with a dull expression as he fiddles with a switchblade. This stormtrooper hates it when he's assigned to watch the new primes. It's so boring. He understands why it needs to be done. New primes are a mixed bag. Some are safe, some are unstable. Keeping tabs on potential danger is for the best, and the faster they can stop danger, the better. Because of that, he supposes he shouldn't complain if a new prime's first visit to Coruscant is simply mundane. But he hates having to just sit around staring at a screen, letting it burn a hole through his eyes as he spies on someone through the security cameras. It's such an easy job, he doesn't even have to switch the security cameras; an AI does it for him. Admittedly, there is something about this prime that intrigues him. When the camera AI finally tracked down Peter, it was while he was describing his past life to Sinclair. Despite his boredom, the stormtrooper couldn't help but be slightly intrigued by Peter's descriptions of abominations and ridiculous weaponry.

As the stormtrooper watches Peter enter the elevator with Sinclair, the door behind him opens. "Imai!" Imai looks behind himself to see his superior officer, Frank, standing there. He's a big gruff man with short graying hair and a scraggly beard. Like Imai, he's also wearing a suit and tie. Imai isn't particularly fond of Frank because he's quite the micro-manager, but Imai has to be polite to him if he wants to keep his job. "How's that newbie prime doin'?" Frank asks.

Imai wants to say, 'If he did anything unusual I'd send out a message', but there's no way he's getting away with that. Keeping himself professional, he gets his feet off the console and says, "He isn't causing trouble sir."

"And?" Frank replies as he walks next to Imai.

"Well... he's just been walking around the city and talking to his friend there. Apparently he used to hunt massive monsters."

"Oh?" Frank says with rising intrigue. "Tell me more."

"Apparently they were as big as stars and galaxies, sir. He had to use, uh... supernova guns to beat them, I think."

Frank chuckles, then smiles with excitement. "Now that is a good candidate for EPD, let me tell you. We need more of people like him. If he's got the balls to fight something bigger than a sun, he's got the balls to do anything! Say, which Tier is he headed towards?"

Imai thinks for a moment. "Uh... Tier 5, I believe."

Imai feels Frank's positive energy instantly switch to negative. And here it goes, Imai thinks to himself. If there's one thing Frank hates more than anything else, it's being denied control. "What?! Why?! I thought you said he wasn't causing trouble!"

"Sir, I-"

"If he goes down into the lower Tiers, he'll get corrupted by the criminal element in no time!" Frank kneels down and thinks while stroking his beard. "Hmmmmmmmm." He looks at Imai. "Imai, weren't you a spy?"

"Yes sir."

"Pretend to be a civilian and intercept him. Befriend him, then convince him that the upper Tiers are where he really belongs. Get him to join the EPD too while you're at it."

"Sir, with all due respect, sending a stormtrooper into the lower Tiers just to recruit a single prime is unprecedented."

"I don't care! This prime has potential, I just know it!"

Imai, giving up on the argument, stands up. Hopefully Frank will be fired for incompetence one day, but until then he'll just have to put up with Frank's micro-management missions. "I'll get going, sir." He leaves the room, putting on a pair of glasses as he exits.

As the glass plated elevator went down, Sinclair felt a sick pit of dread in his gut as the former Shadow Marshall Director looked silently at Peter. He tried to ignore the feeling but once again he felt it again while the elevator stopped at Tier 3 and more people exited the elevator each time. It left Sinclair searching over his shoulder as he watched the elevator pass Tier 4 on the way down. Sinclair was hardly paying attention when the elevator opened on Tier 5 and Peter raised a eyebrow at the man. “Hey, uh Sinclair, we are here.”

The darker skinned man cleared his throat and nodded, eyeing Peter and watching the surrondings around him for anything suspicious. Something about this Tier spelled danger to him. The driver, people on the elevator and even anybody who he asked about the tier gave him warning looks.

Peter then started to feel like someone or something was watching him out of the corner of his eye as he remembered the EPD card in stock nearby.

Sinclair turned toward Peter with a raised eyebrow and sighed, wincing at the smell of trash scattering the street, and the scattered streets lined with a few homeless people at certain areas.
“Peter, summon me a weapon. I’ll explain later. Doesn’t have to be big.”

Peter listened to Sinclair’s description of what a Shadow Marshall used in combat and summoned a M32 combat knife for him. Peter was quiet. “Will this do?” Sinclair watched in awe as Peter could summon a weapon out of thin air. “No way. That’s impossible. I can’t do that.”

The weapon was given to Sinclair and the man kept it out of view.

“Just for protection’s sake.” Sinclair somehow felt safer this way.

The dreadlocked man still felt like someone was watching him somewhere, somehow.

Just his clothing alone here along with Peter’s could attract various attention to themselves. Bad attention. Sinclair looked serious for a second and then nodded “Let’s go before the bad crowd catches up with us.” Of course, a “bad” crowd to him meant Helghast.

“Peter, so the Archives of Ultan is a library that is run by the mysterious Ultan himself. The rumor states he was summoned by Rex himself. I looked a bit and found that we shouldn’t be too far from there. However, the place is less attractive than what a higher tier might offer. Sinclair muttered something about rat droppings and old crumbs being in the place due to its location being there for a while.

The seedier side of town was nearby and Tier 5 was ruled by unruly gang members who controlled its very sector.

“HEY! Yeah, you two. What’s a finely dressed man and man in armor doin’ in our territory! You get lost or we’ll have to kill ya’”

Sinclair growled, instantly getting into a basic Shadow Marshall pose from years ago. He hadn’t had to fight since the First Extrasolar war on Vekta. He had hoped he still knew how to take out a enemy.

That knife is the first thing Peter has summoned. He thought summoning would be difficult, but after taking a few moments to think it through, he finds that it's as simple as exhaling. In fact, it's almost as if he's using a second pair of lungs to exhale the Omnilium out of his body. It takes a few minutes of a concentration, during which a big ball of light slowly forms in front of Peter's outstretched hand. As the knife pops into existence in his hand, Peter looks around the decayed city and isn't surprised to see that the homeless people are now keenly watching him. Summoning is anything but discrete, he notes to himself as he hands the knife to Sinclair. Though it took quite a bit of Omnilium to make the knife, Peter feels plenty more of it within him. In fact, it feels like it's been growing since he last checked it. Peter is just as awed by Sinclair by the amazing power this universe has given him, but he quickly reminds himself of the apparent danger around him.

This Tier is nothing like Tier 1. That was beautiful and full of life, though it was also suffocating due to its high enforcement. Tier 5 is the opposite; it's falling apart, there are few people out on the streets, and none of them are stormtroopers. This city is plagued with a great dread, one that Sinclair feels all too well. Yet while Sinclair is clearly afraid, Peter is only wary. From his point of view, if it isn't something big enough to at least cause societal collapse, it's not worth being afraid of. Still, he recognizes the danger they're now in, and decides to summon a pistol for himself before continuing on. After Sinclair tells him they need to get a move on, Peter says, "Hold on, I need a weapon of my own." He forms an image in his head of a common Energy Pistol frequently used by E.E.'s (Eldritch Exterminators), then attempts to summon it. The Omnilium within him shakes in a sickening matter; Peter feels queasy. Somehow, he knows what this means: he doesn't have enough Omnilium. Barely enough. If he turned everything in the Omniverse into Omnilium, it may not be enough to summon it.

"Is something wrong?" Sinclair asks.

"It's nothing." Peter wipes the grimace off his face. He thinks for a bit, wondering why the pistol costs so much. He realizes why. It has two settings: a weak setting for shooting people, and a strong setting for blowing up moons. That strong setting is where a vast amount of the cost is coming from. By imagining an Energy Pistol with just the weak setting, he's able to summon it at a reasonable OM cost. He also summons a belt holster so he has a place to put it. After spending a few minutes summoning the items, he says, "Okay, I'm good to go." as he wraps the belt around his waist.

"About time." Sinclair says. As both men head forward, Sinclair describes the library to Peter. He pays half his attention to Sinclair; the other half of his attention is on his own weapons. He pulls out his sword and looks it over. Its blade is about four feet long, the whole sword is a single dull grey color, and its handle guard is rectangular with a protrusion at each edge. However, the most interesting part of the sword, which Peter is focusing on, is the small 9-Volt battery-sized generator embedded in a hole in the base of the sword. As Peter listens to Sinclair, he inspects the generator. It had taken a heavy beating last time he used it; it's still operational, but it's doubtful that it can run at its intended capacity for the time being. Peter sheathes the sword, then checks the purple gauntlet on his right arm. From here, Sinclair is able to notice the symbol of infinity on the back of its hand. Peter flips his arm and opens a panel just below his palm. Inside is a total mess; Peter curses as a bunch of burnt metal spills out of the gauntlet. Clearly Peter went way too hard on the gauntlet beforehand. It looks like a bomb went off inside it, and there's no way it's going to keep functioning. It's essentially just a fancy glove now. He sighs in disappointment, not because he can't use the gauntlet, but because he had broken his friend's prized work.

A rough, vaguely scottish accent draws Peter's attention away from the gauntlet. He looks up to see a small gang of shady people in roughed-up clothes suddenly standing in front of them. Most of them appear human or human-like, but a couple have distinct alien features. The man speaking to them is a normal-looking human with thinning hair and serious five-o-clock shadow. Peter didn't see them enter from the alleyway, nor did he see Sinclair stop in place and get into a fighting stance. Now a few steps ahead of Sinclair, Peter stares at the gang as he closes the gauntlet's panel. They're clearly ready for business, and not the professional kind. Of the five of them, two are visibly armed; an alien-headed one has a damaged mechanical staff, and the other has a chain wrapped around his shoulder. Peter has no doubts that the other three also have weapons hidden up their sleeves. Peter's hands drop to his sides, and his height drops an inch as his knees bend. Sinclair glances at Peter for a moment. "What kind of stance is that?" He wonders for a brief moment before turning his attention back to the gang.

The tension between both groups is great. Peter's and Sinclair's reactions of determination, and not of fear like the vaguely Irish man was hoping for, puts the gang on edge. They keep their distance from the two men. Sinclair says, "We aren't looking for trouble, we're just trying to pass through."

The gangster sneers. "Heh, is that so? We're tryin' ta do business here, so it's awfully suspicious for you two to be walkin' round here." His mocking voice makes it clear that he's being disingenuous. He has no reason to suspect Peter and Sinclair of anything; he's just looking for an excuse to have power over someone. This behavior makes it clear that he's the leader of this little gang.

Peter says, "If our presence bothers you, we can just go a different way." Though his statement implies passiveness, his stoic voice and expression sound too strong to be coming from a passive man. He too is being disingenuous; he clearly doesn't view the gang as a threat.

The leader's sneer drops. He looks at Peter. "Hmmm..." He paces back and forth with a finger on his chin as he looks at Peter. Sinclair is able to get a good read on the leader. He's behaving nonchalantly, but it's an act to hide his fear of Peter and Sinclair. Peter has no idea the gangster's afraid, but the nonchalant act does nothing to affect his confidence. "You've clearly got an attitude, don'tcha?" The gangster says to Peter. "You stupid or something?" He looks down at Peter's holstered pistol. "Ah, I see. I bet that thing down there is givin' you confidence. You think you can take us on if you draw that?" He steps forward and says, "Well?" Sinclair starts to speak, but the gangster rudely interrupts him. "I ain't talkin' to you, baldy! Shaddup!"

"I'd prefer it if we just went our separate ways, and you should prefer it too." Peter says. "Otherwise I'll put you in serious pain."

The gangster leader laughs in response. Sinclair knows this isn't a humorous laugh. He's laughing out of fear. "Alright, that's it. Everyone, get em!" He pulls out a switchblade. As the blade flips out of the handle, Peter takes a left step forward. As the blade clicks into place, Peter leaps! The leader's eyes widen. He moves back before Peter's open hand slams into his raised arms. Peter slides to a stop in a sideways horse stance, right arm outstretched, as the gangster flies backwards into his comrades. He's caught and held up by two of them. The whole gang freezes, completely surprised. Sinclair is impressed by Peter's technique, but Peter isn't happy. He was aiming for the throat, but he moved too slowly, so his target was able to block his palm in the nick of time.

An alien-faced gangster who caught the leader says, "You'll pay for-", only to stop when Peter unsheathes his sword. The gangsters watch Peter with fearful eyes as he fully unsheathes his sword, then steps forward into his previous neutral stance and holds his weapon towards them.

"This is going to turn ugly if you don't back away." Peter says.

The leader pulls himself up, then he and the two men who caught him back away. The alien-headed man with the staff and the man with the chain step forward, the latter beginning to swing his chain as he approaches Peter. Peter, concerned about the chain, takes a step back. He doubts that he can get close enough to the man before the chain hits him, and if he pulls out his gun he'll just be attacked by the staff guy. Suddenly, Sinclair charges past Peter towards the chain guy. The opponent doesn't see Sinclair before it's too late, and gets assaulted by Sinclair's swift slashes and stabs. Peter takes this as his cue to attack the staff man. He steps forward and slashes the target's hand. He drops the staff with a shout, then he shouts again as Peter slashes his left bicep. The target's body twists as he grabs his arm. Peter tightens his fist. With a lunge he piston-punches the gangster's exposed side. Peter raises his sword, but the gangster drops from the blow before Peter can continue the pummeling. Breathing hoarsely with one hand clasped where his kidney is, the gangster crawls back towards his fearful friends.

Imai runs many different possibilities through his head as he leans by the cab window with a bored expression on his face. He stares out the window, watching the vehicle descend through various hatches and transport tunnels. How can he manipulate Peter? Many of the conversations he imagines are embarrassing failures, with Peter blowing him off, laughing at him, or worse. He isn't too concerned about Peter discovering his true identity; he looks more like a businessman than a stormtrooper, and Peter's a newbie, so he doubts Peter will see right through him. A more concerning danger is that he might attract Tier 5's unsavory characters. It's a good thing he's got his blaster hidden in his left coat pocket. It should keep the criminals at bay... and maybe, if Peter thinks of doing anything drastic, the blaster will help in that situation too.

As the gangster stares in fear at his leader, the buzzcut leader growls and decides the gang member is useless. “Take him out of my face!” He spat. No use having weak gang members around him.

The gang leader is now annoyed and staring at Sinclair, who was feeling a little more like a Shadow Marshall and less like the giving the paperwork and missions director and Peter. He eyed Sinclair for a while and then nodded. The straight-faced director was still in a fighting pose and would jump if anyone attacked again. But he appeared to be breathing somewhat heavy a bit.

Peter looked over at the retreating gang members and growled: “Get lost, all of you before we do worse.”

Sinclair was just silently observing the scene around them as a bit of the scared populace opened the windows to look out that it was safe. The dreadlocked man bent toward a building, feeling oddly calm. He felt good for once in his life. He watched a few of the homeless people look to Peter and Sinclair in sincere thanks for the first time in their lives.
Sinclair sighed and nodded “We should get going, Peter. The Archives shouldn’t be far.” It made the old time director think about what thoughts were going through his head. What if Lucas had been right all along? What if he was doing was complicating things back home?

The man frowned while walking along with Peter “Have you ever done a act of good that makes you think about changing your life?”

Peter listened to Sinclair as he looked at his weapon. “What do you mean? Did this fight really make you think about things?”

Sinclair shrugged “I’m .. not sure. I don’t know about things anymore. At least with the Omniverse.”

The walk seemed uneventful while both men looked at each other, more things on their mind more than each other.

That is until they turned to the large library and Sinclair stopped. “Here it is. Let’s go find the communicator.”

"Why are we going to this library in particular?" Peter asks. His disposition is calm despite having been in a fight only a minute ago. "I saw a library up on Tier 1, couldn't we have started our search there?"

Sinclair says, "I have already searched the upper Tiers for a way out of the Omniverse. I browsed through the whole Library of Coruscant and checked several research institutions, but everything I read indicated that the Omniverse is like a fly trap: One way in, and no way out. The Archive is the only place I haven't checked that might have the information we need."

Dreadful anticipation wells up in Peter as he looks back at the Archives. "So if this has nothing about extra-dimensional communication..." They're both silent for a few moments.

"Let's hope that it does." Sinclair says. Now comprehending that this library is their last chance to find a way out of the Omniverse, Peter heads inside with Sinclair.

After being dropped off into Tier 5, Imai makes his way through the streets at a brisk pace. His face is stern, and with a powerful glare he keeps a close watch of his surroundings. While he had his cab driver land in one of the less dangerous areas, 'less dangerous' doesn't really mean much considering that this is Tier 5. Imai thinks, "Might as well say I've got an 89% chance of getting mugged instead of a 90% chance."

"Hm..." He mutters to himself. "...they told that cab driver they were going to the library down here." He gets sight of the library's back entrance while rounding a corner. "I'll just meet him in there." Imai steps through the back entrance.

Peter and Sinclair find themselves in a modestly sized room. Bookshelves surround them, and they can see a counter straight ahead. A young man, looking almost as desolate as the homeless people outside, is sitting at the desk. With one elbow on the table and his cheek resting on his hand, he doesn't pay attention to them. He's clearly a clerk, intern, or maybe low-level librarian employed by Ultan to help keep the Archives organized. Peter and Sinclair approach him. Peter says, "Hello." The employee looks up at him.

Sinclair nods at Peter as he walks over to the various shelves and begins to look as Peter blinked “Mr. Wind, am I right?”. He remains serious as he looks over at the dusty, disgusting shelves that haven’t seen the light of day in what seemed like years.

“Is there a document pertaining to escaping the Omniverse? Or even a way to contact my crew?” Peter held his breath lightly, hoping his only way to escape wouldn’t be ripped away from him.

Sinclair sighed, he himself had given up on ways to escape the Omniverse other than embracing what opportunities it could hold for him here. But even if he couldn’t leave, he wouldn’t deny Peter of that chance.

The employee blinked and raised a eyebrow “I’m sorry, I cannot help you two with that. Many have tried to escape and failed.”

Sinclair blew off the dust on a book and studied it. “Mr. Wind, what information can you offer us otherwise?”

Sinclair still felt suspicious like someone was following him and Peter everywhere they went.

The ex-Shadow Marshall director then saw at the corner of his eye, a suited fellow. Or what he believed was one. He couldn't help but be cautious now.

Mr. Wind thinks for a moment. Peter's hopes are dimmed even more as the employee sits back in his chair and sighs. "I have no idea." Wind's poor disposition hardly changes as he talks to the men.

"Surely there must be something here." Peter says with a hint of desperation.

Mr. Wind doesn't acknowledge Peter's desperation. "If there is something, I don't know about it. My boss can help you find what you're looking for, but you'll have to wait. He's taking a nap at the moment."

"Could you... hm..." Peter says, stopping to collect his thoughts. "...is there a section for research papers?"


"Can you show us where it is?"

Wind looks up into Peter's eyes. Despite Peter's stoic mannerisms, his fearful anticipation is subtly peeking through his restraint behavior. He's taking loud deep breaths through his nose, his mouth is tightening, and he's speaking with a slightly raised voice. Taking all this in, Wind realizes that Peter will be searching through the Archives all day if he doesn't have a guiding hand. While Wind's thoughts are preoccupied with his own problems, he decides it would be easier for everybody if he does more to help. "Yeah, sure." He pushes off the desk as he stands up. "I'll see what I can do to help your search. Follow my lead."

Peter's anticipation is alleviated slightly. "Thank you sir." He says before Mr Wind starts leading him down a corridor lined with bookshelves on both sides. They walk past Sinclair, who puts away the book he was looking at before following behind them. As they walk forward, they get a good look at the suited man who Sinclair noticed. He is wearing glasses, his height is shorter than both Peter's and Sinclair's, and he has a meekness that matches his shorter stature. The man is browsing through the books, and doesn't seem to notice or care about them. Peter and Wind hardly pay any mind to him once they determine he's not a threat, but Sinclair can't help but feel suspicious about him. His intuition is telling him that there's something off about this suited man. As the group walks past the man, he suddenly turns around with his eyes focused on a book in his hands, accidentally bumping into Peter. The book falls out of his hands. Everyone's attention turns to him.

"Oops, sorry!" The man says with a hushed voice before looking down at the book.

"It's okay. Let me get that for you." Peter says before squatting down to pick the book up.

Sinclair looks at the man with a frown. The man looks at Sinclair, only to quickly turn his attention back to Peter. "Thank you." He says as Peter hands the book to him. The man gets a good look at Peter and Sinclair, then says, "Say, you look like you're new around here. Is this your first time in Tier 5?"

"I was about to ask the same thing about you." Sinclair says.

The man doesn't respond at first. "I get that a lot. I try to stay out of this place."

Peter says, "Yeah, I understand why. I feel bad for the people who have to live here."

"The gangs are the worst part of this tier." The man says.

"We ran into a small group of them on the way here." Peter responds, gesturing towards Sinclair as he talks. "We sent them running."

"Wow, it's about time they got what they deserved. I'm glad you took care of them."

"No problem."

Wind has grown impatient. "Are you going to follow me to the research section or not?" He asks.

"Sorry." Peter says.

"Oh, there's a research section?" The man says. "Mind if I tag along? That section should have what I'm looking for."

Peter says, "Sure." Sinclair clearly isn't happy about the man coming with them, but keeps his mouth shut for now. Though he doesn't like the guy, Sinclair knows he should wait to speak up about this guy when he isn't around to hear them.

As the group gets a move on, the man says, "I'm Kazuhiro, by the way. It's a pleasure to meet you." He reaches out to shake hands.

Peter shakes his hand without question "It's good to meet you. I'm Peter."

Kazuhiro goes to shake hands with Sinclair, who looks down at his hand for a moment. He reaches over and shakes Kazuhiro's hand. "Name's Sinclair."

With introductions out of the way, the group turns their focus back to heading toward the research section, though Sinclair keeps an eye on Kazuhiro. The library's condition seems to deteriorate as they walk deeper into it. An odd smell tickles their nostrils as they walk pasts spots of mold growing all over the shelves and carpet. There are even clear signs of a rat infestation, with some books having chewed-up edges and the shelves having a few rat droppings on them. Occasionally, they even see rats dart past them out of the corners of their eyes. Everyone has a different reaction to the archive's terrible state. Wind, being used to the library, doesn't care; Sinclair is disgusted, but isn't willing to let poor housekeeping prevent him from doing this research; Peter also dislikes the filthiness but seems hardly affected by it; and Kazuhiro just keeps his eyes looking straight ahead. After a long moment of silence, Wind finally says, "Peter, just out of curiosity, I'd like to ask; are you a vigilante?"

Peter is caught off guard. "Well, uh, no. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. Seeing you wear that costume and hearing about how you fought those gangsters, to me you seem like someone who'd be on one of those superhero teams. Like the Avengers, if you ever heard of them."

"I haven't heard of them. Who are they?"

Kazuhiro's muted expression hides his dislike of the subject matter. If he truly is just some nerd in a business suit, he wouldn't feel the need to interject. However, he's more than that. Kazuhiro isn't even his real name. Every move he made and every word he spoke since entering the library had been coldly calculated bluffs. Even bumping into Peter was a purposeful ploy to initiate a conversation with him. While he may not like this mission Frank sent him on, Imai is taking it seriously. He mulls over his words carefully as Wind says, "They're Coruscant's local vigilantes. If you ask around, most people will call them criminals in costumes, but I appreciate what they're doing."

Imai decides now's the time to speak up. "I'm not fond of them. They make dangerous situations worse when they get involved. Whenever they make the news, it's always because of the unnecessary collateral damage they caused over a simple robbery. I'd be afraid if I saw them coming to my rescue." He decides to make a sinister bluff just for added effect. With a hushed voice, he says "I heard that their leader has beaten people to death with his bare fists..." Wind disregards Imai, regarding him as just another upper Tier brat who doesn't know what he's talking about. Peter, however, takes both men's viewpoints into equal consideration. He reminds himself of something a teacher told him: there are two sides to every story.

Sinclair walked aside Mr. Wind and Peter, preferring to keep his distance from Imai as he had his own suspicions about the man wearing the tie and glasses. He made a mental note to tell Peter later when the others weren’t around him. Mr. Wind led the group past the bookcases that looked grimy and dusty. Sinclair frankly wasn’t too surprised when a rat jumped out of the bookcase and fell to the floor.  However, Mr. Wind didn’t mind as he moved his hands through the old books until he took a few shortcuts and stopped, pointing at the Numbers 0.4-10.0, the library shelf number for the research section. “Here it is, please feel free if you have any more questions. “Mr. Wind said.”

The research section was very old, consistent with the books inside the shelves.
Not too surprised that the Empire had numerous secrets that they wanted to be hidden from the main crowds, Sinclair moved his hands around trying to sift between Empire sanctioned books and secrets the Empire didn’t want anyone to know.  Imai didn’t mind looking through a book at the end where he watched, observing Peter and Sinclair from a distance He got awfully close to Peter with crowding Sinclair out of the way.  “So Peter, mind filling me on what you are looking for?” He asked  Sinclair kept a straight face, Mentally noting that this guy was pushing him out of the way, gave him even more suspicious red flags about this man.

Peter's becomes entirely focused on the row of books before them. His eyes scan their titles, looking for any hint that extra-universal communications will be mentioned in their contents. The books are various softcover and hardcover research journals. Each volume is at least as thick as a decently-sized novel. Peter walks down the hall, reading the titles of the journals as he passes by them, only to realize that most of the journal titles imply they cover broad subjects. From "The Omniversal Studies" to "Empire Experiments", in-between there are no journals specifically about extra-universal research. He has no idea where to start. As Sinclair sifts through journals near Peter, Peter pulls out the 2nd volume of "Journal of Boundaries in Science" and flips through it. Its text is filled with concepts Peter hardly understands. He flips to an introduction at the front of the book, and after reading it he figures out that the book is a collection of smaller issues that had been published over a period of time. The pages consist of research papers of varying topics that were initially published in the issues. Peter looks up at the books on the shelf and figures that they have the same or similar format as this book. He looks down at the book again, and after flipping to the table of contents he sees the wide variety of topics its research papers cover. If each book is going to be as dense and varied as this, he may be searching a while. This only raises his desperation.  He thinks, "It must be hidden somewhere around here! It must, it must, it must!"

Quote:"So Peter, mind filling me in on what you are looking for?"
Imai says suddenly, breaking Peter's train of thought. He looks up from the book at Imai, who's suddenly standing uncomfortably close between him and Sinclair. Peter wonders for a brief moment what this guy's deal is, but his desperate mind quickly focuses back on his search.

"Sinclair and I are trying to find a way out of the Omniverse." Peter says.

Imai acts surprised. "Wow, that's incredible. I've never thought it was possible." He already overheard Peter's conversation with Wind about what he's looking for. Though he initially dismissed the idea as a foolish plan that nobody can ever accomplish, he realized that since Peter traveled outside universes, he could very well find the means to travel outside the Omniverse too. Imai's feelings for his former home have been long forgotten, but a curiosity drives him to ask, "How do you think you'll get out?"

"My best hope is to get my hands on an extra-universal communicator, then use it to contact my friends outside the Omniverse. Their ship can travel to different universes, and I doubt the Omniverse will be an exception to that rule." A thought crosses his mind, and stays deep inside it as a lingering doubt. What if the Omniverse is an exception? Peter frowns and tries to ignore the doubt. "Once they're here, I can rejoin them and be on my merry way."

Mr Wind suddenly pipes up. "If you're looking for an extra-universal communicator, you could try the tech journals." He points at a row of books on one of the higher shelves.

"Thanks." Peter says. He puts the science journal away and heads over to the tech row to pore over its books. Imai watches Peter for a second, then pulls a book out of the shelf and pretends to be interested by it.

A storm of feet echo through the streets. A poor mother and her child walking down the sidewalk look towards the noise and immediately cower as they watch a large rugged gang run past them.  They are all hyped up for bloodshed, with large poles in their hands and stern looks on their faces. At the front of the group is the vaguely Scottish gangster who attacked Peter and Sinclair, his switchblade in hand as a fury shows through his clenched teeth. The members who were with him are among this larger gang. The staff and chain-wielding gangsters have their wounds covered in bandages. The gang stops in front of the alley where their confrontation had taken place. "This is where they were!" The Scottish gangster says before looking around for a moment. He spins and points opposite of the direction they were heading in. "They were going that way!"

"Brother, that isn't enough to go on." A crackling voice says from the crowd. The gangster's fury becomes subdued as his attention turns to the speaker, who walks out of the crowd. A brown duster coat covers his body, starting from his collar and ending at his shins. His hands are casually hiding in the coat's pockets. The man has a bald head and red 5-o-clock shadow covering his face. The savagery in his gaze matches the terrible scar across his neck, which is proudly displayed for the world to see. Everyone else in the gang has fear in their eyes as they look at him, even his younger brother. "The bastards could be anywhere at this point." The clear leader of the gang says.

The brother looks around. "There should be someone round here who knows where they're goin." He notices a fearful hobo sitting nearby, wrapped in a blanket. The destitute man is frozen in place as he stares with wide eyes at the gang. Their eyes meet, and the hobo looks away.

"Good catch, brother." The leader says, before walking towards the hobo. His brother follows behind him. With each casual step, the sound of his boots on the ground grows just a little bit louder for the hobo. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. The hobo is too afraid to look. He tries controlling his breathing. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. He considers running away. Could they catch up to him? Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. The hobo resolves to run away, but then the footsteps stop right beside him. Too late. He slowly looks back at the tall leader, just in time to see the gangster whip out a blaster and point it at his face. With the other hand still casually in his pocket, the leader says, "I'm no patient man. If you're too much of a bitch to answer my questions, I'll put a few holes in ya to drain the bitch right out of ya. Do ya understand?"

The hobo nods.

"Good boy. Didja see a couple people fight my brother?"

The hobo nods again.

"Tell me, do ya know where they were going?" The hobo shakes as he stares into the gun, his mind scrambling to piece together his memories. After a moment, the leader kneels down at a frightening speed and puts the blaster on his forehead. "Well?!"

"I-I-I remember! They wanted to go to a library!"

"Which one?!"

The hobo's hands wave around "Archives--! The Archives of Ultan!"

The leader smiles. He stands up, yet keeps the blaster trained on the hobo. "That's all I needed. Why don't-cha run off now?" He waves his pistol to the right. "Come on, go." The hobo follows his command, scrambling to pick up his blanket as he flees.

"Ooh, so that's where the bastards are." The younger brother says. "Let's drag em out of there a-" SMACK! He stumbles back, rubbing his face after getting smacked by his older brother.

"Fool, that's a government building! We aren't getting stormtroopers up the ass over one little fight!" He says. "We need to be more patient. We'll get em once they're back on the streets...we'll show em how the rules go on our turf."

It has been hours since they started browsing through the research section. Mr Wind grew bored and left, forgetting his urge to be helpful. As he left, he informed the group that checking out books was against the rules. Sinclair had kept an eye on Peter and Imai with the intent of talking to Peter about the latter when he had the chance, but as he read through the journals, he found himself drawn into them by the eye-opening information within their covers. He learned of things the Empire never wanted him to know about. Stolen designs. Unethical experimentation. Independent papers quashed simply for not being officially approved. Sinclair isn't sure what's more shocking, the secrets he's learning about the Empire, or the fact that they're hidden in such plain sight. Then again, these may only be glimpses at the Empire's true ugly nature. There is nothing concrete or detailed in these pages, only mentions of and references to the Empire's dirty laundry. Sinclair is only drawn out of the books when he accidentally glimpses at his watch. He sees a few hours have passed. "Woah. I really lost track of time." He thinks before looking around. He sees Imai still browsing through the opposite bookshelf. "Hm, Kazuhiro's still here. Where's Peter...?" Sinclair looks down the hall. Peter isn't there, but Sinclair notices that a few "Journal of Transportation Research" volumes have been removed from the shelf. He looks at Imai to see that his face is buried in one of the journals. Using this as an opportunity to get away from the overbearing salaryman, Sinclair walks off to find Peter. Imai doesn't seem to notice.

Sinclair finds a clearing in the maze of bookshelves. Peter is hunched over at a table against the wall, his back turned towards Sinclair. A couple stacks of journals are on the table, and Peter is reading a journal in front of him. His gauntlet is lying by one of the book stacks. "Peter?" Sinclair asks before approaching him. As he gets close, Peter turns his head slightly to look at him.

Peter looks hurt. So hurt that, for a moment, Sinclair thinks that someone Peter loved had been killed right in front of him. The little of Peter's face that Sinclair can see is utterly wracked with sorrow. With both hands on his head, he has a large frown showing his gritted teeth, and his eye twitches as he tries not to cry. Peter's whole body trembles. He wanted to believe that there was a way out of here, but the text in front of him has given him the serious reality check he needs, but doesn't want. Though the Eldritch Exterminators broke rules all the time, no person, machine, or communication wave could break this universe's most devastating rule... The Omniverse is like a fly trap: one way in, no way out.

Sinclair eyed the teary-eyed Peter who was really trying his best not to cry but the worst part of it all is how fast the truth hit him after he saw the magazines and everything else. There was no way back home.

That means everyone he knew or used to know in New Vekta would never see him again. Sinclair seemed to take the news a lot better than Peter was but instead of outwardly showing it, he bottled those emotions and bit his tongue as he took one long breath and gritted his teeth.

“I’m sorry, Peter. I really am. Life in the Omniverse is going to take a while to adjust. Perhaps those folks called the Avengers can help you in your stride toward something to fight for.”

Sinclair nodded “Before you go, Mr. Wind. Can you please tell us where the Avengers are located? I’m asking for a friend. But he was also keeping a silent eye on Peter and the position of Imai.

Mr. Wind blinked “Sure, the Avengers are… here on Tier 5.”

Sinclair kept a poker face “Thank you.”

He eyed the crowds for the other “salesperson” before sliding back over to Peter and quietly speaking in his ears “I got some info on where the Avengers are located also I need to tell you something about that man following us.”

Peter looked up at Sinclair who was really trying to pull off a straight face “We should go now.”

“I’ll explain a bit later, alright.”

As Sinclair and Peter leave the library or at least attempt to, Imai turns “Wait, where are you going, Peter?”

It was only a problem when all of a sudden when Sinclair and Peter stepped back out on the streets, they were surrounded by a bigger version of the same gang they fought before.

Imai stared out and saw a gang surrounding Peter, Sinclair and as soon as he walked out, they’d prevent him from going anywhere.

It takes all of Peter's strength to maintain his composure. An all-powerful hopelessness crushes his heart, and the pain drains his ability to think. To be stuck in some random universe is one thing. At least he could call his teammates, even if he had to make the extra-universal communicator himself. But here in the Omniverse, nothing he does will get him out of here. He doesn't know what to do. In his sorrow, he tightly grips the dull pendant on his neck. When Sinclair tells him they need to go, Peter just goes along with it without wondering why. He stuffs the pendant under his shirt before he goes; perhaps subconsciously he's afraid of someone taking it. Sinclair leads Peter out of the library, the latter following the former like a lost child. Outside of the library, away from the strange man's ears, Sinclair can freely speak his mind to Peter. He can snap Peter out of his depression, make him wary of Imai, and work out their next course of action with him. However, as they step away from the library, they hear the sound of stomping feet on both sides just as Sinclair starts to speak. Two large crowds of gangsters are streaming out of alleyways on both sides of the street! Peter delays, Sinclair acts immediately. He whips out his knife, grabs Peter's arm, and tries to run. The gangsters close in on them! Sinclair swipes his knife at them. Peter's hand darts to his sword, but a damaged staff suddenly flies into his view and slams into his trachea. Peter wheezes, he feels his back press against someone's body as his legs stumble and his hands grasp at the staff. As he pulls down on the staff, relieving the pressure on his throat, a croaking voice speaks behind him. "How's payback, huh?!"

Imai stands just inside the library and looks out the glass doors in the front entrance. His face is hardened as he watches the madhouse taking place only a few meters from the library's front steps. A large gang is swarming like locusts around Peter and Sinclair, who struggle violently against their grasping hands and bashing sticks. For each person they throw off, another one takes hold. Imai doesn't know what to do. His first instinct is to call for backup, but a stormtrooper patrol would never go down here just to save some dumb newbie Prime. His second instinct is to just leave them to their fate, but what will he tell Frank? "Goddamnit Frank, why did you have to put me in this situation?!" He thinks.

"You're not as you seem, are you?" Mr Wind suddenly says.

"Wha?" Imai puts on his innocent salaryman act, putting on a scared face as he turns around to face Mr Wind. With one book in his hand, the assistant has made a few steps towards Imai. His brow is furrowed as he observes Imai, a smug smile escaping from his lips.

"For someone who acts like some innocent upper-tier businessman, you sure weren't acting afraid a second ago."

Imai's eyes widen. He closes his mouth, his mind drawing a blank on responses. Mr Wind steps closer to Imai, smiling the whole way. Finally, Imai growls, "So what?"

"Are you a stormtrooper?"

Imai sighs with clenched teeth. "Yes. If you want to stay out of trouble, go back to your desk and don't say a word."

"I thought so." Mr Wind's smile drops "Tell me, why is Tier 5 like this?"

"I said go back to your desk."

Mr Wind's intensity rises. "Why can gangs get away with this all the time? Why are you just idly watching them?"

"This is none of your business, Wind." Imai's right hand slightly moves towards his gun pocket.

"It is my business. This is where I live, but I can barely survive without you bastards doing your jobs. Why is it that the first stormtrooper I've seen here in a long time is just some plainclothes officer that isn't even trying to enforce the law?!"

"This damn Tier is a lost cause! If you hate this place so much, move up to a higher Tier!"

Mr. Wind steps closer. "If you're going to leave those two people to the gangs, then you might as well join them!" He starts to rush forward with intent of pushing Imai through the doors, only to stop. His eyes stare down the barrel of Imai's blaster.

"That's enough." Imai says as he points his blaster at Wind's face. The feeling of the power he has over Mr. Wind comforts him, and he calms down. "You should be under arrest for assault and attempted battery on an officer, but I don't want my hands full at the moment. Consider yourself lucky. Now I want you to settle down and go back to your desk." Imai hears the muffled shouting grow. He turns his head and looks out the glass doors out of the corner of his eye. The great struggle has moved closer to the library. Seeing Imai's eyes off him, Wind takes a chance. He throws his book directly into Imai's temple. The hit is jarring and painful, the sharp corner of the book's hardcover stabbing into Imai on contact. The blow makes Imai stumble backwards, his shoulder bashing the doors open as he moves. He spins around and regains balance out on the street, one hand over his temple. "Son of a..." He suddenly looks up at the crowd, panic filling his eyes as he realizes what just happened.

A gangster standing at the edge of the crowd notices Imai. He looks at the gun he's holding. "Hey, over here! There's someone with a gun!" He shouts

Imai takes a step back as he raises his gun and takes a quick glance behind his back, hoping that he can still get out of here. But he sees a tall body approach behind him. A hand grabs his shoulder as a blaster is jammed against his temple. "Tryin' to save your friends, huh?" A crackling voice says behind him. Imai freezes. The leader continues. "Playin' hero just gets everyone killed. Give your gun to th' guy in front of you, or I'll blow yer brains out." Imai waits for a few seconds as the chaos in front of him continues. The leader presses his gun harder into Imai's temple, so he quickly gives his gun to the gangster in front of him.

The gangsters finally get a good hold of Peter and Sinclair. Each of their arms are pulled tight by several gangsters, and Peter's throat has been pinned by the alien-faced gangster the entire time. Sinclair's knife is still grasped tightly in his hand. Though dazed from the gangster's repeated shallow strikes, Peter and Sinclair are still full of fight. They kick, they gnash, and they struggle as the large gang quickly moves them and Imai into the shadows of the alley. The gangster leader as they head towards the warehouse that serves as his gang's secret headquarters.

The gang’s headquarters was worse off than the Archives of Ultan was, to be honest. There were large boxes big and small the gang had been able to steal from the stormtroopers. The leader of the two gangs, both brothers were able to push Sinclair and Peter and finally Imai in the mix.

Sinclair knew not to say anything as they were now in gang territory and they would have to work together in a truce to work together or face death together. He gave Imai a weary look and frowned at him “Look, I know you are hiding something but it doesn’t matter now. Help us fight these guys and we can get you home.”

The Shadow Marshall director eyed the leader who was bossing around his brother and his gang and eyed the scenery “Yeah, I’m talking to you. You know how to fight right?” “Cover me.”

He was talking about the other man indirectly pulled into the whole gang fight.

Sinclair elbowed the gang member holding him and pulled him closer, slashing his throat. Once he was able to cover some room, the Shadow Marshall director pulled Peter behind the warehouse’s various tiny, medium and giant boxes. “Peter, listen very carefully.” We can use the boxes as cover from the top. There are too many gang members on the ground. If we can scatter them out, we can defeat them easier.

Sinclair valued stealth from his standpoint so if he could work with what he had, he could take out as many as he could. Sinclair eyed the side and watched Peter hide for a second while he watched for various gang members and pushed the small box near the medium box and used it as a landing ground. As he hopped on the steady giant box, he noticed a large board and pulled it up as a crossing ground. “Peter, come on!”

The leader watches his gangsters drag the three prisoners through a large gap between two boxes. Past those two boxes is the worst area in this rotting warehouse, the Pain Room. With a perimeter of boxes surrounding a floor splattered with bloodstains, and its one entrance being guarded, it seems absolutely certain that there's no way out of it. As most of the gangsters holding the prisoners head out of the Pain Room, leaving the prisoners to be held by one gangster each, the leader turns to his brother. Gesturing towards Sinclair and Peter, he says, "Those two sure are fighters, I'll give ya that."

"I told you Kentigern, they're a cut above the rest." The brother says.

"And so unassuming too. I see why you underestimated them, Shug." Kentigern tells his brother. He turns to his rowdy gang, and after shouting to get their attention, he starts barking orders at them. Nobody's eyes are on the Pain Room.

Sinclair's retribution is swift and silent. Before Peter realizes it, all three gangsters drop to the floor. He looks at Sinclair and sees the blood now covering his knife. Sinclair quickly takes charge of the situation, commanding Imai to cover them as he takes Peter behind the wall of boxes. Peter is silent and goes along with Sinclair's plan without question; with his will low, his survival instincts are all that's keeping him going. Imai takes a moment to consider following Sinclair, but with one look at the crowd of gangsters, he makes his mind up. He hides by the entrance, pulling out a switchblade as he presses against a large box. He listens for any approaching gangsters as he watches Sinclair climb onto a giant box, with Peter following after him. Just as Peter climbs onto the box, they hear the leader shout, "What the bloody hell?!" A clattering of boots immediately rushes towards the entrance! Peter and Sinclair crouch down as they as they can. Imai quickly looks around, then scrambles up a stack of two large boxes. Kentigern reaches the Pain Room just as Imai hoists himself onto the top box and out of sight. The three escapees carefully peer from the edge and watch as the leader is followed by his brother and five other gangsters. The alien-faced staff wielder is among the group. The gangsters start looking at the bodies and the boxes all around them.

"How da hell did they escape already?!" Shug shouts as he waves around a blaster.

"You bastards aren't gettin' away with this!" The leader shouts into the air. He turns to his fellows. "Spread out and find em! They must be hidin' in the boxes!"

As they watch the gangsters split up and head to different parts of the box perimeter, the sight of the blaster in Shug's hand slightly draws Peter out of his self-preservationist haze. That gun looks familiar. He instinctively reaches towards his holster, and realizes that its empty. The gangsters must have picked it off of him, and now Shug has it. Sinclair realizes this too, and it dawns on him that he, Peter, and their 'friend' are lacking in ranged weaponry. A long-ranged confrontation with Kentigern or his brother won't end well. Before Sinclair can consider his next course of action, Kentigern suddenly stomps out of the Pain Room and confronts a larger group of gangsters gathered outside its entrance. "I'm sure ya heard what happened so I'm gettin right to the point! You, you, and you, split up and guard the exits. Everyone else, go searchin' for em! Whoever captures one gets first crack at em during interrogation!" The large group spreads like a puddle through the area, with three groups of two heading towards the edges of the warehouse. Imai is disheartened to see so many people searching around, but when he looks up at Sinclair, he notices a small smile escape from the man's face as he watches something. Sinclair looks at Imai, then points toward one of the groups sent to guard the exits. Realization dawns on Imai's face. Without words, he understands what Sinclair is thinking: if they follow the exit guards, they will be led to one of the exits! Sinclair uses the large board as a bridge to help Imai cross onto his box, then moves the board to help them cross onto another box. Together, the three men sneak across the tops of the boxes that cover the warehouse. The two men they're following, one of whom is the bandaged-up chain-wielding gangster, are unaware of their presence as they walk through the warehouse.

But as the escapees follow their path to freedom, Shug gets an idea. He looks up towards the tops of the boxes high above him. "What if them bastards climbed up here?" He asks aloud. He grabs onto one of the smaller boxes and starts climbing up.

Just before Sinclair and Peter cross the wooden bridge to freedom, Sinclair couldn’t help but look back knowing he forgot to do something.

He mentally forgot to move the boxes to climb up on when he was done with them. But none of the gangsters would be smart enough to follow them up here, right? Wrong, Shug decided to follow them up the crates and what would he notice but three little rats trying to escape the mousetrap. Shug yells out loud “BOYS! UP HERE!”

The gang members heard Shug and saw the way the rats got up. They followed up the boxes, with weapons in hands as they were on one box and Sinclair, Peter and Imai were on a far away box and the gap was too big to jump. The gang leader snapped “Find somethin’ to get us across. Don’t just stand there!”

Sinclair mentally cursed and looked over at Imai. “If they have guns, we won’t be able to survive a direct shot to the head, Imai.” He looked over at Peter and frowned “We got company.”

Imai looked out on the second to last box to escape but noted the two gang member were still blocking the exit.

“How long do we have, Sinclair?”

Sinclair eyed the crowds “I don’t like to answer questions like that.”

Instead of worrying about their mortality, Sinclair was busy searching for anything or even something they could use to their advantage. He grumbled under his breath. He wished one of his Shadow Marshalls was here at this moment. He even wished Lucas, his makeshift son he sent away was here at this very moment.

Imai was worried about the sudden members of the gang suddenly showing up from up top the boxes and frowned “Guys, you have a plan, right? Sinclair? Peter? Anyone?”

Imai nodded, a bit nervous ‘They even have weapons.”

Sinclair sighed “Ok, think fast. What are you guys good at?”

Peter nodded “I can use a sword great and my shooting skills are excellent. “Imai? You’re a stormtrooper, right? You brought a weapon with you right?” Sinclair frowned “I can work stealthy and fast with a knife.”

“We need to combine our skills to make this work.”

Sinclair scratched his dreads in annoyance and stopped “Anyone else here know stealth tactics? Quick lesson, confuse the enemy. You can use the box as a hanging ledge and send them flying. Either use the ledge to your advantage or use your height as a vantage point to drop in on them and slash their necks from below.”

Time seems to slow for Peter as he looks around. Shug stands a gap away from them, at the front of the seven crate-bound gangsters, with the alien-face standing just behind him and his older brother just catching up. Kentigern and Shug, though angry, keep their pistols lowered because they're confident that their targets will be captured. One of their lackeys drops down to grab a nearby wooden board down on the floor. Down below, the chain-wielder gives a hard look up at the escapees, slowly spinning his chain with a vengeful confidence. All around, gangsters on the floor swarm towards Peter and his comrades. There's so much going on at once that it's hard to keep track. Yet, Peter isn't afraid. All he feels is concern that he won't find the will to fight his way out. How can he fight with his past furor when his friend is dead, his girlfriend likely met the same fate, and he's forever separated from his comrades? He looks back at Sinclair and Imai and sees two people who did nothing wrong. He then looks back down at the gangsters and sees a great force of evil. There's a pulse of a thought in his mind, lasting for only a moment, yet radically changing his state of mind. That thought was a reminder of why he became an E.E.: to save innocents from overwhelming evil. Even if he's separated from his team, that doesn't stop him from being an Eldritch Exterminator!

Peter's attention snaps back to the guarded exit. "The floor in front of those guards is still empty of gangsters!" He thinks, yet even as he considers what to do next, the gangsters are rapidly approaching! "There's no more time! Follow me!" Peter shouts before throwing himself off the crates. Everyone, from Sinclair to the gangsters, are shocked. Kentigern and Shug fire their pistols at Peter a moment too late. Peter's vision is locked on the wide-eyed chain wielder as he rapidly descends to the floor. His opponent swings his chain, and misses. Peter lands with a long-traveling forward roll, driving his fist into the chain-wielder's gut as he ends the roll in a kneeling stance. The chain-wielder stumbles back quickly, hunched over in extreme pain with arms over his stomach as he coughs and sputters. His shocked friend raises his stick, right as Peter slashes his side. The gangster spins backwards and falls as the chain-wielder collapses against the wall.

Sinclair and Imai could hardly pay attention to Peter's insane stunt. One of the gangster's shots drew most of their attention. Shug's pistol was far more violent than Kentigern's; it created a horrible bang that further stunned everyone around them as its payload raced past Sinclair and Imai with a furious screech. The blast is enough to further prolong the surprise of the crate-bound people, and much of the crowd is startled for a moment before they continue their pursuit. Sinclair and Imai had grown so used to Coruscant's shitty standard-issue blasters that they weren't expecting that a truly deadly gun, the kind that they were used to seeing in their worlds, would show up here. With this comprehension comes the realization that not only is Peter capable of creating real firearms, but an enemy now has a real firearm aimed towards them. As they get over their shock, they realize that following Peter down to the now unguarded exit is their best option, but as they run to the edge they see the gangster swarm already close to the open space between them and the exit! Peter turns as he stands up, only to see that the gangsters have already blocked Imai's and Sinclair's way down.

"Don't let th' boy escape!" Kentigern shouts at the gangsters below, causing all of them to turn their attention to Peter. They charge right at him! Though Peter stands mere centimeters from the exit, retreat doesn't cross his mind. In his mind, there's no leaving Sinclair and Imai behind!

"So be it, I'll just open the way for Sinclair and Kazuhiro!" Peter shouts as he throws himself forward. The first gangster to confront him gets stabbed before he can bring his stick down, then gets thrown in front of a second gangster before Peter charges at a third gangster. This opponent's stick hits Peter's shoulder hard. He lowers, grabbing his shoulder and cringing, only to immediately slash the gangster's knee. A fourth gangster goes for Peter's side, but he raises his arm against his opponent's arms to stop his downward swing, then backs away from a fifth gangster's swing before slashing the fourth gangster's side. This continues, as the fifth gangster, the sixth gangster, and so on are taken down by Peter. His moves are weathered and hardened by years of training; clearly a black belt in his discipline, he moves with a quick flow through the battle. Opponents are thrown in front of other opponents to slow them down, and Peter makes sure to keep the gangsters from surrounding him. As long as they don't get his back, he has the advantage. But, Peter is at his limit. The Omniverse's gravity is still afflicting his speed, and his moves are no faster than the gangsters'. During the battle, he takes several blows, a couple of which hit him dead-on and nearly put an end to his rampage. Yet, he is able to regather his strength and fight through the pain.

As Peter clashes with the gangsters, Sinclair and Imai have only a moment to decide their next action. The gangster Kentigern sent off has returned with the wooden board, and all the crate-bound gangsters look eager to capture their prey!

The warehouse echoes with reflective cheers of “Get them, Kentigern!” and “They can’t run from us, forever!” The two almost seemed literally “trapped like a rat.”

Sinclair snapped to attention after he watched Peter literally buy them time to fight. “Come on Imai, we’ve got only literal minutes before the gangsters surround us. I’m going to get us more weapons.”

The dreadlocked director choke grabbed a gangster with his feet, making the gangster struggle to breathe, hoping to buy some time to grab a gun the poor bastard had in his hands. As the other member struggled to pull Sinclair’s feet from the gangster’s neck, he dropped his silenced gun. Sinclair dropped from above and slashed the gangster from behind, and did the same for the other gangster. Once both of them dropped, Sinclair slipped the knife away and grabbed the gun that the stranger was holding. It appeared to be a stolen stormtrooper tech from long ago.

Sinclair eyed it but didn’t care at the moment throwing it above and pulling himself back up on the crate above.

Two gangsters laid dead near the exit but Sinclair frowned “Imai, come on. Let’s go! Here’s your blaster! USE IT!”

“At least clear out some of the gangsters.”

Imai snapped into his stormtrooper training and aimed for the gangsters coming at the group above. “Come at me.” buying time for Sinclair to get the other weapons. Sinclair turned “Can you handle them?!”

Imai nodded “I’m fine. GO!”

Imai bent down and aimed his blaster at the other gangsters going at Peter and shot down a few other members.

“What?! How are they getting the advantage!”

It’s when two gang members decided to surround the director. “Boys, I got the annoyin’ one!”

Imai heard Sinclair surrounded and picked off one of the gangsters in the leg. “Fuck! Don’t let him get away.” Sinclair grabbed the other gangsters and placed a knife at the hilt of one of the gangster’s neck.

“Let us go peacefully or one of your boys dies.”

The gangsters laugh “What are you goin’ to do, stab us to death?”

Sinclair was serious when he threatened as he grabbed the gangster by the neck, by a chokehold and the knife got threateningly close to the gangster’s neck. “It’s not like you to know pain.”

The gangster struggled in the man’s grasp and growled “We won’t let up that easily.. R..Right boys?!”


The ex-Shadow Marshall’s eyes showed pain in them as well, except it was hidden by hurt and betrayal. He stared Kentigern in the eyes.

“You think you know pain, stranger?” Kentigern spat.

“I’ve lived it all my life, seen it, felt it, tasted it, done it.”

“You think to live on Tier 5 is easy?” The gangster growled

“We had to scrape by on junk every day just to feed our starvin’ families and you guys think you are heroes to the common people? In everyone’s storybook, someone’s always the villain and I think you guys are just common scum.’

Sinclair frowned “I’m not a HELGHAST!”

Kentigern frowned “You think you are fancy livin’ the good life while others are feeding off dirt? Now you are feeding down here with the rest of us.”

He hums lyrics.

“You work hard now to put the food on the table.”

“You working for the man who doesn’t even know your name.”

“That’s the way it goes when you are down here with the rest of us.”

You might lose now your beautiful children, your happy home, and your beautiful wife.”

“That’s the way it goes when you are down here with the rest.”

“You’ll suffer hard now as you bury your loved ones.”

“You’ll suffer hard when you lose your best friend.”

That’s the way that it goes when you are down here with the rest of us.”

No one is immune to a world of problems

No one is exempt from a world of pain.”

“I try now to do the right thing, yet I wonder why I do what’s wrong!”

He placed a finger on the scrape on his neck.

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