All Activity

This stream auto-updates   

  1. Last week
  2. Mistborn Alterna

    Galatea lay in her bed in silence. She just wanted to rest and cease the endless cascade of thoughts her mind assaulted her with, but she found herself unable to focus on the little noises and sensations around her. The bed felt strange to her. It was cushioned, not hard like the beds of Skaa. It wasn't the first time she'd laid in a 'soft' bed before, but she never could get used to them, they made her squirm. Galatea wished this had been the first time she'd experienced a soft bed. She heard the quiet chirping of insects outside. The chatter of her hosts in the next room. It wasn't the noises she could recognise that were the problem - it was all the noises and sensations she couldn't understand without her eyes to explain their sources. She heard something barking in the distance. A scraping noise beneath the floor. She felt as though the bed was swallowing her. She felt stiff and awkward and-- "Enough of this..." She muttered to herself, and kicked off the layered covers and got out of bed. Galatea then collapsed onto the floor, laid down on her side and pulled one of the covers over herself, disappearing beneath the sheet. The floor was hard, the breeze wafting through the floorboards was cold, but these things were familiar to her. She fell asleep, wondering what would happen in the following hours, never mind the coming days - if she lived that long. She woke with a start. Something had her. Her nose and lips curled into a snarl as she shoved the attacker away from her. "Wake up!" "What?!" Galatea tried to focus but she couldn't see. The sun had yet to rise and-- no. She was awake now, and remembered swiftly - she was blind. "What's happening?" She asked the room, as fingers released her arm and she drew herself into the corner and drew the cover over herself defensively. "We're leaving." said Ranette, who was standing by Galatea's bed. "It should be fairly safe but we need to move quickly all the same." "Oh--" Galatea stood and let the cover fall away, she was dressed in the same rags she was always in, they covered her body - mostly - beyond that, she didn't care for clothes and finery the way she saw the nobles covet them. She just wanted her freedom. "Okay. Ranette, will you do something for me?" "You want a favour right now?" Ranette asked, raising her eyebrow at Galatea and smirking, "Honey, we're about to sneak you out of the city, I haven't got time for errands." "It'll only take a moment." Galatea clarified, her arms reached out as she probed the room for Ranette's shoulder. As she found it, she held it tightly and leaned in close, "Actually... maybe you're right. Leave me, and i'll prepare for the journey." "That's alright." Ranette replied, giving Galatea's left hand a gentle squeeze, "You've got a few minutes to gather yourself before Raze comes for you anyway. Most of us will be leaving through the gate but they're looking for you and the others from the execution. Raze is carrying them over the walls discreetly, he'll be back for you soon though." "Alright." Galatea gave Ranette a quick nod and waited as the girl left. The door closed shut behind her. Smirking, Galatea turned her right arm over, revealing the vial she had pick-pocketed, held in the cradle of her middle finger. She considered the vial for a moment, after all, Ranette had said if she drank it and couldn't utilise its contents, she could die. "I have to know..." Galatea whispered to herself, uncorking the vial with a squeaking 'pop'. She downed the liquid contents of the vial. It tasted bitter and metallic - of course it did - but she buried her distaste and felt the last of the liquid passing her lips. For a fleeting, frightening moment, there was nothing. Then there was fire. Electricity. Power. Surging up through her body. She could barely contain herself. Her strength had returned and it felt as though it had been amplified ten-fold. It was familiar to her, like a guiding hand, on those days when she thought she could go no further, when she was ready to give up, somehow, something was burning. This was it. This was the strength she knew. The fire was hers now. She knew that in the instant the metals burned in her stomach. Galatea tried to compose herself. She took one long breath and let it out slowly, focusing on what she wanted to do next. "Raze." She spoke his name aloud, then left her room in search of him. As she walked out she heard multiple, panicked voices, clattering and all manner of objects hitting the floor in front of her. "Raze!!" She yelled his name as loudly as she could manage before her voice went hoarse. "Raze!!" She called again, stepping over something - then she froze. She just stepped over something? How had she known it was there? She turned around and somehow, she knew there was something just-- she picked it up. It was a small wooden cup, with metal studs along it's upper lip. "Interesting..." "What in the Lord Ruler is going on!?" Ranette called angrily as she stormed up to Galatea, "Are you trying to blow our cover!?" She looked geared up to chew up Galatea and spit her out when there was a rustling of curtains, followed by footsteps as a shadow climbed through an open window and strode into the room with graceful speed. Raze lifted his head and revealed his face under the hood of his mistcloak. "I didn't even need to burn tin to hear that, what's the big idea, hm?" He raised his brow expectantly, he didn't look angry but his lips had formed a tight line, and there was a slight twitch at the corner of his eye. "I had to try..." Galatea muttered, but she felt dizzy, it felt like a dozen different sensations were pulling at her at once. The metals in the vial had renewed her as though she'd just slept. She was stronger than she ever felt before. She felt as though she could see shadows moving around the room, the faintest outline of certain things. Something was coming towards her but she couldn't focus on it. But somehow, she knew it was Raze. "What?" She asked, unable to know his expression. "Try...you?" Raze turned his gaze on Ranette, who patted at her pockets and then scowled at Galatea. "She pick pocketed me!" Ranette said. "Impressive. Glad we found her before the thieving crews did." Raze said with a wolfish grin, as he gave Ranette a comforting tap on the shoulder. Then he paused on Galatea for a moment. "You're not burning anyth-" he cut himself off, his expression curious, "Unless you're burning copper which...but you said..." the wheels kept turning in his head, until finally realization arrived in the form of an excited grin. "She's Mistborn." The deafening ringing in her ears, drowning everything out, couldn't stop her from hearing that one word. Mistborn. She didn't understand what that meant. Not really. But she knew it meant one thing - a better life than what she'd had. That was all she could ask for. She held up the wooden cup with metal studs and held it aloft. "Show me...?" She asked. Then she focused deep within her, searching. She felt a tingling in her fingers, spreading out across her hands and through her body and she knew. Galatea crushed the cup, sending a hail of splintered shards onto the floor. She smirked, "Show me." She wasn't asking. Raze's eyes went from Galatea, the the remains of the cup, and finally to Ranette, who looked a mixture of awed and annoyed. Raze cocked his head to the side and gaze a little shrug. "I suppose I could-" "No!" Ranette snapped, "Raze we're trying to get out of the city this isn't the time to go flying around with a girl who doesn't even know how to control her allomancy!" "I was going to have to fly her over the city anyway, but now she could actually learn something in the process." "I don't have a spare mistcloak for her-" "A regular cloak will do." Raze replied with a smirk. "This is the perfect time to increase the strength of this group." Galatea added, lacking Raze's smirk but the sentiment was the same. "What's first?" She asked, eagerly awaiting instruction in what had once been the power of her Master, and would now be her own. She vowed she would return to the fields of her former Master and free her friends and fellow Skaa. "We need to leave the city, but I can give you a taste along the way." Raze replied. He moved around the room picking up a few things and then returned to Galatea. He handed her a hooded cloak and a belt with a thick, metal buckle. "Put these on. And stop burning your metals for now." "I don't like this, Raze." Ranette said disapprovingly, but she sighed in resignation. "But, you're the only one who can sneak Galatea out easily. So I suppose I should wish you luck." "Ranette, I know very little of allomancy. Until I met you all, I wasn't even sure it truly existed." She held her hands up before the girl, "But now I have those powers... And I should think I could have been given no better luck than that." Then she walked forwards and stood just before Raze. Galatea stopped burning her metals and she reflexively jerked as she realised she'd been seeing the world in a kind of Twilight darkness. Only the faintest lines were shown to her but now it was gone and she could no longer take a confident step. "Let's go." Galatea nodded to Raze. She was ready. She had no idea what was ahead. But she would be ready for it. Somehow. "Hold on tight." Raze said as he took hold of Galatea and led her to the window where he had entered from. "Don't keep Mraine waiting, you know he get's grumpy when we don't run on schedule." He said to Ranette. "Yeah, like he isn't perpetually grumpy..." Ranette said, but she smiled softly and made her way down to the lower floor of the tavern. Then before Galatea could open her mouth to speak again, he had pulled both of them out of the window, carrying Galatea with the same minimal effort as before. Then they shot into the sky as he pushed off against coins. They soared up and disappeared into the mists, Raze didn't stop to sprint the rooftops but moved them through the air in arcing leaps enhanced by allomantic pushes, the coins returning to him with every ascent. Finally they landed on solid ground again on a flat roof with a thick stone ledge. Raze released Galatea and stepped back, giving her some space. He looked around them, still grinning slightly. "It's a pity you can't see it all...you probably don't comprehend the importance of what you are...what you can do." His gaze fell on her and he gave her a soft smile. "Even among the nobility the mistborn are free. We wear the mistcloaks to hide in the mist, but also as a symbol to those who might see us. City guards see a mistcloak and know to stay out of our way. Well, perhaps not tonight actually, considering a mistborn just released skaa criminals." He shrugged, the mists curling around his feet in little, reaching tendrils and curls. "Many of the skaa fear the mist. Do you?" "I know that I... When I was a child, the oldest of us said the mists were dangerous. That the mist could reach out and take your very soul, and then return to the village as a shade... That tale gave me nightmares for weeks. But I was also an unruly child, which often earned me a lashing, and worse. One such punishment I earned after staying in town too long until the mists rolled in and I got lost on my way home. I was terrified. Then something came for me. But suddenly it was dead or gone, as this woman with lights in her eyes appeared. She told me how to get home and then vanished. I felt better then." Galatea paused and reflected on that experience, "Perhaps, as a Mistborn, I am not scared." Raze's expression seemed a little disbelieving about the comment of the woman with lights in her eyes. "Well you don't have to fear the mists, as a mistborn they are your ally. They keep you hidden." He explained. "Now...the vial you swallowed had eight different metals inside. I want you to burn one and tell me what happens." "I'm... I only know what one does." Galatea replied, recalling her familiar strength amplified tenfold, "I remember being strong..." And she burned that feeling of strength. "Pewter." Raze confirmed, "It increases your strength, speed, endurance, and you can heal quickly from wounds that could kill you." He paused a moment and then decided to clarify further, "Not so quickly that you should be fearless of taking damage." "I can't allow fear to control me." Galatea replied and then reached inside and burned another metal. "Ah--!!" She gasped, "I can use this to see, something... Light noise I can barely see. Like a whisp of mist." But she touched her temples with her knuckle, "Ugh..." "That sounds like tin." Raze said, "It heightens your senses. It can be useful for seeing in the dark, although perhaps not so much for you. It's also good for listening, spying on conversations, listening for people close by so you can stay hidden. Mistings who burn tin are called tineyes, and pewter mistings are called thugs." "There's a lot of noise, it makes my head ache..." Galatea clutched at her temple and reflexively withdrew from this feeling. The noise dampened, and her world was cast into blackness once again. The darkness scared her, but she would adapt. "Tin is a slow burning metal, so you should try to use it whenever necessary." Raze continued, "There are always consequences, of course, but I'll teach you the specifics another time. Tin helps you stay alert to your surroundings and can be vitally important. Our spy network relies heavily on tineye scouts and smokers running safe houses. Turn it off for now though, and burn one of the others." Tin. Pewter. 6 others. Galatea reached out, she felt two of the familiar strands, the sensations that Tin and Pewter gave her. Pewter was familiar to her like the back of her hand. She knew it better than she realised. The strength she felt from it was easy to understand and control. Tin was new to her, however. It made her head swim, but its uses were immediately obvious. Now, another... Galatea reached inside to grab another thread of power that seemed to float within her. She tugged at it, and felt it tug back. That was strange. She pulled harder at it and it seemed to unravel inside her and explore outwards. The threads fanned out as she pulled, she realised then she was pulling on something in front of her. She felt an invisible line stretching out from her to this object. Galatea touched the thread inside her and suddenly the object catapulted towards her. Knowing it was coming at her, made her natural reflexes kick in. Galatea deftly dodged to one side as an old, dust-covered coin whipped past her head. "Ah, Iron." Raze said with a chuckle. He reached out with his hands and pulled the coin back towards him and into his waiting hand. "When it comes to allomantic metals, they come in pairs. There are four external arts, or pushing arts. Then there are four internal arts, or pulling arts. Pewter is an external pushing art, I know that might be hard to imagine but when you think of it's counterpart, tin, which is internal pulling, then you can understand where this idea comes from. When it comes to Iron and Steel, the pushing and pulling is quite literal." To further illustrate his point Raze pulled on Galatea's belt and dragged her forward slightly. "Iron allows you to pull on metal sources around you. The blue lines normally overlay your vision, but the lines are in your mind. So you should be able to see them to a fashion, even without sight." "Everything inside me feels like a great thread." Galatea's laugh held no warmth, "Making dresses, hemming socks... One of the few things I could do in peace. It wasn't working in the fields. Or time spent with the Master..." Funny the way the mind works. This power that felt like a tapestry. She could pull at the individual strings, yet the tapestry seemed endless as she used the strings of power to navigate the world around her. That gave her an idea. But it would take time and practice. She reached out and pulled at another thread, and she had guessed right - this, was Steel. She knocked the coin from Raze's hand but then pulled on her Iron thread, directing it at the coin that was tumbling to the ground and it whipped back towards her. She could see it! She snatched out for the coin and lurched as the metal struck her in the shoulder and she hit the ground. "Ouch!!" She grit her teeth and reached up to feel her shoulder. Galatea couldn't see the brilliant shades of pink, purple and yellow her shoulder was already turning, but she felt the pain. The tender flesh. "Okay, maybe not..." Back on her feet, "That was dangerous." "Burning pewter will dull the pain." Raze suggested with a smirk. "Of all the metals I think steel and iron are the ones that can most likely kill you if you aren't careful. There are two main factors; weight and balance." Raze started pushing on Galatea's belt, a measured push that only pushed her back slowly, edging her towards the end of the roof. "If I push a metal that weighs less than me, then it will be pushed forward, but the weight of what the metal is attached to also matters. Right now my weight is more than yours and your belt combined, and so you are being pushed back..." Raze dropped a coin and pushed himself into the air, then he arced until he was directly above Galatea, and once more he pushed on her belt, sending her to the ground with the force, but then he started to rise higher and higher. Finally he relented, letting himself fall back to the ground, reducing his fall with pushes until he landed softly. "If you push something that weighs more than you then you get pushed." He took Galatea's hand and helped her back to her feet. "The same is true for pulls, if you pull metal heavier than you then you will be pulled toward it. Furthermore, you can only push or pull in one direction out from yourself. Therefore, being a successful coinshot, or a lurcher, is all about balance and weight. It also requires keen awareness of the area, and using your environment to your advantage. Never get yourself in a raw pushing match with someone, Galatea. You won't find many opponents that weigh less than you." Her mind was racing with the possibilities. All hampered by her recent loss of sight. She would have to change... change everything. She would have to learn to explore and understand the world again, both with and without her powers, if she was not to be weakened. But she also knew, that with the loss of her sight, there would come certain advantages. "So you can push yourself into the air, because the coin on the ground, cannot be pushed into the ground easier than you can be pushed into the air. Is that correct?" Galatea asked, reflecting on everything he'd spoken of so far. Nothing seemed beyond her. "Precisely." Raze replied. "So we have 4 metals left now. Zinc and Brass mistings are called rioters and soothers. They are the two emotional allomantic powers, zinc allows you to riot a person's emotions, while brass allows you to soothe them away." "Yes, I know those two, already..." Galatea replied coarsely, then felt the ground with her bare feet, "What are we standing on?" The ground was bumpy, hard and slanted down. "Look, as much as I want your instruction. This seems like a poor time for it. I will have to use what I can, and learn the rest as we go." As she spoke, she heard the sound of footsteps. She searched back for the Tin thread and burned. Suddenly, the footsteps turned to loud marching. She could hear at least three sets of feet, but despite the speed of their step, they were quite quiet. "Someone's coming!!" She whispered to Raze and readied herself for anything.
  3. Earlier
  4. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Steal's body and mind were a tortured pool of agony and confusion. He hurt, he wasn't sure what had happened only that he was hurting and something.. Yusai, Yusai was still there, he was still there and Steal had to get to him. There was no way he was going to leave Yusai there. He struggled weakly, fighting between being partly certain he was dying and partly certain that Yusai was the one who was going to die. Then he saw Yusai and reacted as only he could. He collapsed into the other man's arms sobbing weakly. He was supposed to be an adult, supposed to be old enough to get away from his parents but it was hard when they were this way. He now just wanted the comfort of knowing that Yusai was with him. It was at this time that Lance could clearly see that Steal was in love with Yusai, even if Yusai didn't know it, or was fighting his own desires. All of that was secondary to a few other things. A trip to the hospital, getting the footage of what was going on in that house, and then dealing with all of this. Logan was talking to Yusai talking about what was going to have to happen. That they needed to turn the footage in if they wanted to keep Stephen from that house again. Steal tuned most of that out, he was resting his head against Yusai's chest now, eyes closed. Lance looked back at them and asked if Yusai was okay, he had a clear bruise forming on his face, it looked bad but it was still a bruise, not like the bruises covering Steal's body, the blood on his body. "I think that guy was going to kill him if he had kept this up. Who does that?" Steal didn't say much at this point. He was clinging. He didn't want to leave Yusai's side again. It was from leaving him before that this had happened. ~~~~~ The trip to the hospital was fast and the treatment was faster. Soon Steal was in a bed, and police were arriving to see the tapes of abuse and torture. This was going to be huge news and would ruin his family. Steal was scared of that, but he was too busy looking at Yusai, and trying to fight off a drug induced haze. He knew that soon reporters would show up, that soon things would hit the fan that he couldn't stop. "Yusai.. are you okay?" He took Yusai's hand, trying to keep his eyes open. The reporters did show up, and so did lawyers and Steal's parents. As soon as that happened, things got more tense. The only ones not seeing it were Steal and Yusai inside of Steal's room. In the hall, tension had mounted to the point that security was on high alert, police were stationed and arguing had been taken to the waiting room. Lance and Logan were trying not to get pulled into it too hard, but with them being the only other witnesses to what was going on it was hard. "He is our son, you can't just abduct him!" "You are the ones that abducted him first." "He is being perverted we took him home to help him." "Help? By beating him half to death?" The hospital staff didn't know how to deal with this all happening. They just made sure no one saw Yusai or Steal, not without knowing what the full story was.
  5. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    The moment Steal had crumbled to the ground, Yusai lurched forward, ready to spring into action but having one very obvious roadblock; Steal’s father, who turned to look his son and glare with the whites of his eyes just barely slivered around his iris. “Go back to your room, now.” Was Alans low, strained, half-gurgled instruction. Steal made no effort to move, seemingly paralyzed there on the landing, his blue eyes flicking between his father, his mother, and Yusai. They were all at a stasis for a minute, until Alan turned heel and stormed up to Steal, who recoiled. Alan reached down and grabbed Steal by the shoulders of his suit vest, jerked him forward so that he was sitting upright, and then pulled Steal to stand, which he did reluctantly. As soon as he was on his feet, Alan pushed Steal against the railing to turn him around, and as soon as he had his back to him, he grabbed what he could of Steal’s hair and pointed him toward the stairs. All this while Steal protested, resisted how he could, but to no avail. His father was beginning to push Steal forward, up the stairs, when his wife protested. He paused, a look of bewilderment crossing over his face briefly that snapped back to stern, bubbling anger when he set eyes on his spouse, and he asked her firmly what she wanted. She was doing a peculiar “dance” in front of Yusai, who was also maneuvering in an unusual fashion, trying his best to dart his hand in any open space not being occupied by Steal’s mother before she scooted in front of it. “He’s—He’s got a cellphone out—He’s recording—” She said, her tone breathless and agitated. Alan immediately released his son, letting him fall dead-weight where he may and went to approach the front door again, his face reddening and forehead beginning to sheen with sweat. He reached outward and placed his hand on his wife’s shoulder and firmly pushed her aside so that he could size up this man, this intruder who had suddenly appeared and was making things a lot more difficult and complicated than they had to be. “Put that damned thing away!” he barked upward at Yusai’s face, unflinching in its sneer. Alan puffed his chest against Yusai’s, pressing him backward, trying to muscle him out and away from his entryway, but Yusai was as firmly planted as a tree. He stared down at Alan with his own fierce gaze, meeting his challenge, his body coursing with adrenaline. Alan continued to try and push Yusai away without actually using his fists, though his whole upper body was tense and rigid with restraint, the desire to engage in a punch-up with Yusai plain as day. Yusai only met with equal resistance. They were at a stand-still until Steal, either out of desperation or craziness, squeezed past the two of them at the door and bolted in a stumbling, feverish way down the driveway. Yusai stammered then, turned away from Alan, and called out to Steal, who didn’t appear to hear him. Alans face seemed to turn purple with rage, his wife behind him as pale as Steal when he was about to faint. Yusai was about to give chase, but he suddenly felt his shoulder being tugged backward, and then there was a sharp, searing pain on the left side of his head. He stumbled to catch himself, and turned back around to face his aggressor--Steal’s father--who was the picture of maddness if there ever was one. There was then a chaotic mess of words and sounds. Alan was shouting, his wife was screaming, Yusai was calling out to Steal who had run out into the street. A car screeched, a door slammed somewhere… It was incomprehensible what happened in that moment until Yusai was able to get himself reoriented, and he looked up and saw Steal in the road, on his knees, crouched before Logan and Lance who were tending to him. Good, he was in safe hands. But as for himself… He didn’t have time, nor really the foresight, to return Alan’s blow with his own jab. Fighting didn’t matter anyhow. What mattered is that Steal was out of their possession, and that he be returned home where he belonged. Yusai simply turned away again and began walking, ignoring the furious yelling, the repeated attempts to stall him, Steal, Lance and Logan, and made his way back to the car. When he was close enough, he was able to see that Steal was clutching his side, whimpering and stammering incoherently. “You’re going to be alright,” Yusai overheard Logan saying to Steal. “I promise. I’ll get you to a hospital. Don’t worry, you’re not going to die.”
  6. Mistborn Alterna

    Darkness loomed over Urteau, the city streets lit with torchlight. Brightest were the torches outside on the steets opposite the local Canton of Inquisition building. Raze stood on a rooftop of a nearby building, the thick mists dancing around him, whispy tendrils grasping and teasing at the air, they seemed to swirl and buzz to the tension of the scene. The plantation skaa had feared the mists, and even the city ones avoided going out in them. Yet they had come this night, bringing plenty of torchlight to guide them. Raze understood why, after all the mists were so mysterious. They hid things. Mistborn, however, did not fear the mists. Mraine stood on a balcony window just below him, and the old man was burning copper to keep their allomancy hidden. Raze reached down and found the familiar source of power within him, and then he burned bronze. Immediately he felt a warmth in his stomach and there was a pulsing in the air. The pulses, each with their own distinct frequency, could tell him not only if allomancy was being used, but also what metal and where. Mraine was burning copper, and so his coppercloud would dampen any allomancy within it, but that didn’t stop Raze from detecting anything outside of it. Immediately he noticed one of the obligators by the gallows. The pulses coming from him were that of bronze, like Raze himself was burning. That meant the obligator was a seeker, which was fairly common. He felt another pulse coming from a nobleman standing on one of the upper windows of the canton. He was burning Zinc, a soother for sure. It was possible that some of the guards were Thugs, or “Pewterarms” as the military called it. Most decent Thugs didn’t burn their pewter when they weren’t using it, which was a fairly smart tactic. He stopped burning bronze and smirked, nothing he couldn’t handle. “I’m going.” He said to Mraine, “Make sure the safehouse is all set up.” “Good luck.” Mraine replied. “We Mistborn make our own luck, Mraine.” Raze replied, and then he sprang in to action. He burned copper, pewter and tin. The copper concealed his allomancy from the seeker, and his sense became sharp and extra sensitive. Light became brighter and he could see more details in the darkness and through the mist. His body felt well balanced and primed thanks to the pewter, and with inhuman strength he pushed off the building at a diagonal leap. He burned steel, and immediately his vision was filled with a web of blue lines pointing in every direction. Each was a source of metal he could push on. He found the lines connected to his loose coin pouch and then he pushed on them. The coins spilled out of his pouch and flew backwards the way he had came, until they smacked against the roof of the building, and suddenly Raze was propelled forward, with the combined weight of the building, now the coins were pushing him. The additional burst sent him high above the street, bounding across the crowd in one leap. Raze burned iron and found the lines for his coins and then pulled on them, bringing them back to his waiting hands. He let himself fall down to the earth, and at about 10feet off the ground he gave a guard’s sword three short bursts of pushing, knocking the blade off of his belt and straight to the ground, whilst slowing Raze’s fall until he landed on the ground with a deft roll, going straight back to his feet and then setting off at a sprint. Gasps filled the crowds as Raze breached a line of guards with steel powered leap over them, before pulling his coins back, cutting at the guard’s hands and faces on their way back, and he grinned, feeling a wave of excitement. With another pull he wrenched the guard’s swords out of their hands and they flew off into the night. Raze advanced on them, flaring his pewter to go at an incredible speed, he swung a hook at one that knocked him to the ground, and then spun and brought his heel into another’s chest, sending him so far back he crashed against the far wall. He turned his attention back to the gallows and the mists swirled around him, the tassels of his mistcloak waving and dancing within them. The obligators flinched as he advanced towards them, after all they were bureaucrats not warriors. He burned brass and began to soothe away their other emotions, as well as the emotions of the crowd of skaa. Then he burned zinc and flared it, rioting the obligator’s fear, until one of them gave a short squeak of terror. Their fear made them slow, and Raze flew at them. With expert aim he sent his coins hammering at the ropes of the skaa’s nooses and they ropes split apart, freeing the skaa. The obligators went to run, but with another iron pull Raze brought a sword into each of his hands, and then he pushed them point first towards the obligators, spearing them through the chest. The crowd shrieked but Raze ignored them, advancing up the steps of the gallows, he pulled one of the swords out of the fallen obligators chest and used it to cut free each of the skaa, and pulled the bags from their heads. His eyes fixed on the young lady who’s bag he’d just taken off from her head. She was young, with tan skin and a slim build, with a bloody rag covering her eyes. She had black hair that was thick and went down to her shoulders. “Get up, you’re safe now.” He said, and he began soothing away at her fear and her worries. He turned to the other skaa prisoners and gestured into the city. “Run, there are people watching for you. They’ll take you somewhere safe. Go, now!” The skaa looked hesitant at first, but then they ran off. He turned back to the girl. “Can you see?” He asked. "Unlike me, stranger, you have eyes - use them! I can see no better than a mole rat." Galatea felt a strange sensation. She kept her emotions contained, after years of torture, abuse and conditioning, she had locked those feelings away and allowed them to wither. But now she felt something she hadn't ever known before - peace. She was no longer fighting her fear and pain, they were just... gone? That wasn't normal. This stranger wasn't normal. He had to be some kind of Misting, affecting her emotions like that. But it didn't matter, whatever he said, she wasn't safe. She would never be safe. “Fine, hold on.” He said and he grabbed hold of her firmly. Then he threw down his coins and steel pushed, pulling the coins with him in to the air as he bounded off, not so much flying as a series of arcing jumps through the city, disappearing in to the mist. When he reached a rooftop he put her down briefly and flared his tin, listening carefully to the barrage of loud noises around him. It was difficult to hone in on specific conversations without practice, when every noise got louder. Tin sure would be more useful if he could hone in on specific noises. “Come.” He said again as he grabbed her arm and pulled her off the edge of the roof, and they fell together to the ground below, Raze slowing their fall once more with bursting iron pushes. They landed with a tap and he released her once more. “I’m taking you to a safehouse. It’ll be a short stop, we’ll need to get out of Urteau after that stunt.” "There's no 'we', stranger." Galatea replied, feeling the air rush around her before they landed. She felt the mist cool around her, and she knew they were on the ground once more. She took a risk, and started walking. "There's only 'you' and 'I'. You saved me. I am leaving." Raze cocked his head to the side slightly and narrowed his eyes at the girl. Did she really plan on going it alone through the night without being able to see? “It’s Raze…my name, that is.” He said after her. “You don’t have to trust me, but come with me and I can get you food, let you get those injuries seen to. It’s too late for your vision but if those wounds get infected…well that’s a fresh new hell I can assure you. After that we can part ways if you still want to. Sound fair?” A part of her wanted to spit in his face and walk into the mists. But she didn't allow her emotions to control her any more. She knew, whether she liked it or not, that she was likely dead without this man's aid. It was foolish to refuse his offer, even if it was a trap - what was the alternative? "Very well, Raze, I can't fault your logic. I will accompany you for now. For dinner, if nothing else..." She smirked to herself, then she lost the brief smile, "I'm... Galatea." “You speak like a noble.” Raze said in response. “Well, sort of.” He came to her and took hold of her a final time. Then he pushed once more and they soared upwards, mists coiling around them as he flared his steel and they flew up further and faster, until Raze could see the whole of Urteau beneath him. His coins came up after him and then he let them fall, until finally they lurched as he slowed their fall with steel pushes, landing softly on the backstreet of the skaa tavern they had been using as a front. He tapped in a rhythmic pattern on the door, and then someone unbolted it from the other side and they were let in. Mraine greeted them both, and Raze stopped burning tin as he stepped into the well-lit room. The place was relatively bustling as members of their team were tending to the other injured skaa who had been escorted back there. “Is this the last one?” He asked, indicating to Galatea. “Looks like it. Get Telzin to have a look at her.” Raze suggested, before turning to Galatea. “Go with my friend Mraine, I’ll fetch you some food.” He said, and then he stalked away from them. --- --- --- Mraine took a long draw on his pipe as he examined the young waif that Raze had brought in. She looked scrawny in places, Raze was right to get her food. “Come on.” He said in his gruff voice, “Our medic is a nice guy, you’ll like him. Terris, real polite, like.” Galatea put a hand on Mraine's shoulder and allowed him to guide her. She didn't acknowledge his comment as she began asking question after question, "Where am I? Who are you? Who was he? Why did he save me? How did he save me?" "Don't worry about that just now." Mraine said gently. He led her into another room where another man was waiting by a table, chopping vegetables. He was a very tall man with tanned skin and a completely bald head. He wore a number of earrings and his arms were covered in bracers. He wore brightly coloured robes cut in downward pointing V patterns, the dress of the people of Terris. He smiled at her at first but it grew into a frown as he examined her. "Oh dear child..." the terrisman said as he began to clear the table. "what have they done to you?" "Enough." Galatea replied coarsely. "What are you doing?" She asked, hearing clutter quickly being moved. "Are you Terris? I've heard that accent before." She inclined her head, trying to understand her surroundings without the use of her vision. Sounds were mysterious clues she was desperately fumbling to grasp. “I would be surprised if you had not.” The terrisman replied, but he did not explain what he was doing. He called for assistance and some skaa women bustled in and began boiling water and getting out clean cloths and towels. “I understand that loss of sight will be distressing, as is your current circumstance, but I must ask that you please be still and let us work.” He gently touched Galatea on the sides of her face, turning her head from left to right as he examined her wounds. His frown deepened slightly though his expression was one of worry rather than frustration. “Very messy…all we can do is clean it up and apply fresh bandages I am afraid…” "Very well. If nothing can be done." Galatea touched at her cheeks, and gingerly felt up until she felt a sharp pain as her fingers probed over hewn flesh and she retreated. She had to remind herself - it was no good wallowing in self pity. What's done is done. The terrisman got to work cleaning the wound, apologizing softly as she winced when he dabbed at her eyes. He smiled softly at her even though she could not see him. “My name is Telzin.” He said, “I am sorry your owners have treated you so poorly. You are safe for now though, I know that must be hard to believe but it is still true.” Mraine sat on a stool in the corner with his arms folded. Watching the girl get treated, he couldn’t help but feel she was going to be a problem. He felt a twinge of guilt for feeling that, he had been kinder once. Years working for the rebellion had led him to responsibilities for a lot of lives, and having a blind girl with them during the escape was only going to slow them down. "Owner?" Galatea repeated the word back at Telzin, a touch of venom in her tone, "I don't have one." She winced as she felt liquid trickle into her eyes and recoiled. "Sorry..." She muttered, shuffling back into place. “No I am sorry.” Telzin said quickly as he continued dabbing her wound, “I did not mean to offend you, after all I too have once been seen as property. What I said was once true of us both, but I did not consider your feelings.” "You don't need to concern yourself with how I feel. I took my freedom today. I'll deal with my sight tomorrow." Galatea gently pulled Telzin's hands away once he had fastened fresh bandages about her eyes. "Thank you, Telzin. My name is Galatea." Then she hopped off the table and fumbled awkwardly as she was lifted into the air. Speechless, Galatea tried to voice her confusion but she was almost at the ceiling and she could no longer focus. "You don't need to concern yourself with how I feel. I took my freedom today. I'll deal with my sight tomorrow." Galatea gently pulled Telzin's hands away once he had fastened fresh bandages about her eyes. "Thank you, Telzin. My name is Galatea." Then she hopped off the table and stumbled forwards. "Ugh, get them off!" She snarled, falling to one knee under the weight of her iron collar and shackles, which suddenly felt five times heavier. She'd had days where it had been easier to carry her bonds, and a great many more where it had been difficult to move in them but never like this. Telzin frowned as he helped the girl up and one of the women helping came and took her arm. “Take the young lady upstairs and draw her a bath, get these shackles off of her and get her some clean clothes, please.” Telzin instructed to her. “Are you alright, Lady Galatea? Fatigue can take the strength from you quite suddenly at times.” He said to Galatea. "I am not a lady and you know this." She growled under the strain of the weight. After a few seconds, Galatea managed to stand completely upright though she could feel her legs wanting to give way. "I am fine." She gently removed the woman's hands from her and started the laborious trek up the stairs. Telzin sighed and turned to Mraine, “Another bitter one, suspicious too.” “She’ll see sense eventually, and even if she doesn’t…” He sighed and scratched at his head, “I’m sure she can be of some use despite her condition.” “Are you disappointed that she will not be another angry skaa to join your army?” Telzin asked plainly, and Mraine responded only with a scowl. Then he got off his stool and stalked off out of the room. --- --- --- --- Raze had gotten changed out of his mistcloak and had put on a pair of black trousers and boots, a simple white shirt and a brown waistcoat. He did his rounds, checking the smokers were rotating on schedule, and going over reports from tineye scouts. Finally he made his way to the tavern’s kitchen and procured some bay wraps, pockets of flatbread stuffed with rice and vegetables, and took them upstairs to the room that Galatea had been taken to. He reached the door and knocked twice on the frame. “Galatea? I have that food for you.” He said through the door. "Bring it in, thank you." Galatea returned to watching the woman from earlier, as she continued treating her, working a salve into Galatea's bruised and scarred wrists. Raze entered and walked over to where they were sitting. “Thank you, Ranette.” Raze said with a nod at the woman, then turned to Galatea. “How does it feel to be waited on for a change?” He asked, and placed the plate on her lap. "Unnecessary but not unappreciated." She replied simply. Then picked up a wrap and ravenously devoured it. “Oh this is necessary, we need to keep our people healthy.” Raze replied, “The nobility have the right idea, when you’re dealing with big operations you need a lot of help workers.” “You pay me though.” Ranette added, eyeing him for a moment, “I’m also a soother, dear. A better one than him, too. No wonder you were so hostile when you first came in.” “I didn’t want her panicking!” Raze protested, holding his hands up in surrender. “Soothing takes a light touch, something you wouldn’t know the meaning of.” Ranette rolled her eyes at him. "If you pull at my emotions, I'll know." Galatea cut through their conversation. "There was a lot of things I couldn't control, but my emotions was not one of them. The Master was like you," She nodded at Ranette, "And you." She added, taking another bite of food. Mouth full, she mumbled, "He couldn't stop me, no matter how hard he tried, and I felt him, stabbing around, in here," She tapped the side of her head with her thumb, "One last indiscretion..." “Relax no one’s soothing you.” Ranette replied, “Some soothers are like that but not in our crew. It’s different in the field, of course. We’ve got to use our allomancy to survive, you know?” “Not just survive, Ranette.” Raze added, “To live.” “So you don’t like emotional allomancy? I think you’ll find you’re not alone there.” Ranette said, “Although I’m pretty good at soothing if I do say so myself. Wouldn’t be any use to this lot if I wasn’t.” “Well someone needs to do the laundry…” Raze said with a smirk and Ranette wrapped him soundly on the arm. “Sorry.” He added after. “So do you have any questions?” Ranette asked, “About us? Or what comes next?” "You want something from me, that much is clear... Soothers... Allomancy... Is that what the Master was? An Allomancer? What makes you different from him...?" “We’re what shouldn’t exist.” Raze explained, “half-skaa who have inherited allomancy from our noble blood. If the Lord Ruler’s laws were followed then we wouldn’t exist. Allomancers in the skaa population, why do you think the Lord Ruler wouldn’t want that?” "I'm sorry, I know very little about Allomancy. Only that it has power..." Galatea set aside her empty plate and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I can explain it to you in depth some time if you’re interested.” Raze replied, folding his arms. “There are 10 allomantic metals, and some people can ingest and burn one of these metals to tap in to a power, most can only burn one metal, and a very small number can burn all of them, like myself. Allomancy is the Lord Ruler’s gift to the nobility, and so we use that gift to resist his rule, and to overthrow the nobility. Of course, we’re a small crew designed for specialist missions. The Skaa Rebellion could use any help it can get, and it can provide you with a free life. It won’t always be easy, but it will definitely be free.” He watched the young girl chew on his words. Skaa didn’t always react the same to the prospect of freedom. Some were excited, others nervous. He had met skaa who denied or even feared their freedom, too indoctrinated by their enslavement. That was why Galatea was interesting. If her actions were any indication, she would fight for that simple right. “You killed the nobleman who kept you in chains.” Raze said matter of factly, “I’ve killed many orders more, for far less. Tell me, how did you do it?” "I hit him..." Her reply fell flat as even as the words left her lips she found herself reliving the experience. It was traumatic. But, upon looking back, she realized what she had done. She had more than hit him. Her fist had passed through his head as though it was made of little more than bread and twigs, not muscle and bone. “You hit him?” Raze asked, raising an eyebrow. The girl didn’t look like she was strong enough to hit anybody hard enough to kill them. Then again, looks could be deceiving. Some people could make themselves stronger. “…were both of your parents skaa?” "I never knew my parents..." Galatea mumbled a response but she was focused, out of curiosity or her inability to pull herself away from that horrifying experience. "I hit him... so hard..." “…You could be a thug.” He said then quickly added, “an allomancer who burns pewter. It enhances your physical attributes, makes you fast and strong.” "Pewter is a metal... And I ingest it, somehow burn it and I become fast and strong..." Galatea thought this over. "But when did I swallow this metal?" “Sometimes Allomancers can burn trace metals from the water. Pewter is commonly used for bowls and cutlery.” Raze explained, “There’s a simple test for it.” Raze reached in to his pocket and produced a vial of liquid with metal flakes. “This solution has the primary 8 metals allomancers use in it. Drink it, and see if you can burn it.” He handed it out for her but Ranette swiped it from his hands. “And if she can’t burn it you’ll give her metal poisoning. Those metals can kill you if you don’t burn them off.” “If she burns pewter then she’ll be more likely to live through it until we sort it out.” Raze replied testily. “IF she burns pewter, Raze.” Ranette bit back with a slight anger to her tone. “We’re waiting here for our rotation to escape Urteau without being noticed. When we get the call we’re going to need to move quickly, we can’t have her being sick as well as…” she hesitated. "I'm starting to realise the only things the Master taught me were those useful to him." Galatea interjected after noting the half dozen words she didn't understand. Questions for later. "Give me the vial. If I need to drink it to be of use then I will. I can't expect to navigate this world on my own. It's... Alien to me..." Ranette, however, tossed the vial back to Raze. “You don’t need allomancy to help.” Ranette assured her, “But I’ll fetch you one of the vials our thugs use, a small dose. No sense injuring yourself over it. Isn’t that right, Raze?” She gaze him a pointed look. “Uh…right.” Raze said, scratching his head. Then he turned as Mraine entered the room without knocking. “Shifts are changing, Rudy thinks we’ll be moving this lot in 5 hours. I suggest you get some sleep before then.” He said, and turned back around to leave. “Well that settles it.” Ranette said as she began to shoo Raze out of the room. “Get some rest, Galatea.” “When we say it’s time to go…just do as instructed until we get safe again. Sleep well.” Raze said, and they both left Galatea alone.
  7. Mistborn Alterna

    Blinded by the light as the bag was yanked from her head. Voices everywhere. Hands reaching for her, grabbing her. She wanted to scream and kick and bite and lash out but realised her arms were bound behind her and her mouth had been gagged. She choked as she felt the moist fabric on her tongue and teared up. She looked out for a friendly face, but none seemed concerned. In fact, they were assessing her thoughtfully. "I'll give you, say, 20 boxings for her?" One man asked. "She's worth 30!" Another responded. She tried to focus on what was happening but she felt like she had been drugged. Things moved in front of her, hands explored her body, she wanted to scream and bite and flee but she could do none of these things. "...25... and not a boxing more." She felt the presence of a tall, muscular man, a shadow came over her. "You'll make up for that, won't you...?" Calloused hands gripped her chin and then thrust it aside, and darkness enveloped her once more. "What's your name?" She told him. He didn't like that. He had been asking ever since she'd arrived 2 weeks ago. There were lots of things the Master didn't like, though. If it wasn't this, it would be something else. So did it matter? He asked her again, and she told him. That made his anger all the more pure. The whip sliced across her flesh once again and she screamed out. "What's your name?!" The Master was foaming at the mouth, it was rare he took the whip into his own hands, but his workers knew better than to question it. She tried to open her mouth to speak, she felt spit pour out and splash onto her legs and the ground beneath her, only she looked down to see it was blood, not spit, that was now splattered across the barn. At last, through laboured breathing, she spoke her name. "I'm... m-my... n-name..." She dared not look up at him, "... is... Galatea." "T-That's right!" The Master beamed in disbelief, "I'm glad to see we're learning at last... Galatea." Then a sharp pain in her temple. "You can't keep this up..." The old Skaa, a woman by the name of Tress, shook her head in disbelief and frustration. But Galatea refused to listen, as always. "The Master will kill you next time!" "The Master likes my company, now are you going to help me or not?" Galatea gestured at her right leg, a thick, deep wound had sliced it open. It lay between dozens of other wounds, albeit they had healed and now shone white against her tan skin. Her arms and legs were covered in scars, as was her back, but never her face. "You be careful he doesn't tire of it..." Tress muttered, reaching for a poultice. "I learned to bite my tongue, didn't I?" Galatea retorted. "Oh yes, you've broken on the outside, sweetheart, but it's going to take years for you to understand you are never going to leave here." "I'll get out one day..." Galatea growled, wincing as Tress applied a thick paste to her wound. "Wake up! Galatea, wake up!!" The voice was immediately familiar. It was her best friend, Lariot. Galatea had been on this farm since she was 11. At 26, it was all she knew. 2 years after she arrived, Lariot came to the farm. She was smaller and scrawnier than Galatea. She was a little more boy-ish, and had to have been grateful for the lack of attention the Master paid her. The two girls soon became close friends, as Galatea had a habit of getting into trouble, and Lariot had a knack for getting her out of it, and now Lariot was saving her, again. "W-what?!" Galatea groaned, sitting upright. She pulled at the iron collar snugly around her neck, and pushed a finger inside her matching shackles to give her wrists a moment's relief from the pain. The instant she arrived on the farm and was given her iron collar, she had been weakened, and it had only gotten worse over the years. There was no fight left in her. "Galatea, move it!" Lariot was running from their hiding spot as two men in armour marched down towards the barn. The doors crashed open and the two men stepped inside, looking Galatea up and down, giving her the same look the men at the slave market had given her all those years ago. It didn't help that the Master kept her in rags. It hardly allowed her to keep her modesty. She marched past the two men, and up towards the Master's house, she knew why she was being called for. It was no different than any other day. But it was. Galatea just didn't know it yet. As she entered the room, she saw the Master. His bloated belly arcing over the bed like a mountain. She could smell the strange, exotic spices and perfumes that lingered in the room. She could also smell food being cooked in the next room. She was so hungry. She could feel her ribs as she clutched at her stomach. "Come here, Galatea..." The Master beckoned. She couldn't refuse, no matter how badly she wanted to eat. "Yes, Master," She nodded politely to him, as he'd shown her how to bow like a noble woman. Though she wasn't very good at it. "Mm, bring me that fruit there," He nodded at the bulbous, round, fleshy grey thing sat on the table beside his bed. There was also a small, sharp knife beside it. "Yes, that one. And the knife, as well. Hurry up, girl! Or i'll tan your hide before our night's dancing!!" Galatea grabbed the fruit in one hand, the knife in the other and walked back to the bed. Before she could hand the Master the two items, however, he grabbed her and pulled her on top of him. "There, that's better!" Anger welled up inside her, she wanted to lash out, but she couldn't. She couldn't access the anger, she wanted to, she was desperate to. She focused and pictured herself lunging for the knife. But as her concentration increased, she started to feel different. At first, she didn't know what it was, but then she realised. This was strength! "Get off me, you unwieldy whore, why are you so heavy all of a--" The Master looked up at her eyes and panic set in. For a moment, he knew he was trapped, and there was nothing he could do. His face held a kind of serenity, before it was caved in with a single punch. Galatea struck again, chunks of blood, brains and viscera flew everywhere. She hit again, and again, until there was nothing left. Dripping in blood, she got off the now extremely dead Master, and leaned forwards. Picking up the fruit, she grabbed the knife beside it and began peeling the fruit ever so carefully. A few seconds later, as she was slipping the last sliver of fruit into her ravenous lips, the room filled with the Master's guard. She tried to fight them off, killed a couple of them, but then one of them got a lucky hit, cleaved right through her face. The attack took the use of her eyes, and would leave a terrible scar, but she didn't scream, despite the pain, she lay quietly on the ground, cradling her face, as she knew she would not be long for this world. And that was okay. "--Skaa found to be rebellious, have broken the law in multiple counts, including but not limited to theft, conspiracy, plotting, loitering and murder. Have been found guilty and in accordance with the laws of the Lord Ruler are to be put to death." Galatea heard their voices, smelled the rancid stench of the crowd, but that was all. Bloody bandages wrapped around her eyes. They did little but staunch the blood flow for long enough that she may be hung for her crimes. She felt a noose roughly fall around her neck and tighten. She heard the man addressing the crowd explain to them how happy they should be, and that we would soon pay for our crimes and be forgiven in the eyes of the Lord Ruler. Was that really how it worked? She wondered. Then she heard chaos once more. Panic seemed to slip through the crowd. But it didn't last...
  8. Mistborn Alterna

    Prologue Ash was falling from the sky on the morning when the Obligators came to Lord Aradel’s plantation in the Northern Dominance. As was typical during these visits, Lord Aradel had sent his children away on a day trip so as not to bother the Obligators. Lord Fenris Aradel stood surveying the fields around his stately home, where frail-looking workers, skin stained grey from the ash, toiled at the crops. He was a short man who had grown quite stout over the last couple of years. His dark brown hair was thinning on the top and combed to the side. The sky above was a wash of grey ash as it always was, and through that ash a burning, red sun shone overhead. The skaa workers harvested grey plants in fields that stretched on for about half a mile, with patrolling taskmasters monitoring them closely, whips in hand. Beyond was the distant city of Urteau, and the single Ashmount of the Northern Dominance, Kalling, a black mountain that spewed forth soot and ash into the atmosphere. Below the ashmount were miles and miles of untamed forests and valleys, and due to the mountainous areas of the region, it was one of the few places in the world where wild sheep could be found. Aradel did not trade in sheep, however. He cast his eyes over the skaa Workers, in his eyes they were a shuffling, lazy lot. The only real advantage to them was the shear amount of them, and they tended to work faster for a brief period after receiving a few lashes of the whip. They were slaves, but they were not his slaves. They were, of course, the property of the Lord Ruler. The nobility were simply loaned the skaa by their almighty leader, but they were given a great deal of liberties. They could beat them, and even kill them if they so desired. They could even take them to their beds, as long as they took certain precautions afterwards. Lord Aradel watched the skaa for what seemed like hours, until finally a voice snapped him out of his trance. “Lord Aradel…” The voice had a pompous, nasal quality to it. Lord Aradel turned to find the an Obligator standing behind him to his right, with a companion stood next to him. “Obligator Marwin.” Lord Aradel replied with a polite smile, “You have concluded your audit?” “Indeed.” Marwin replied. The man was average height and slim, and entirely bald. Like all Obligators he had a series of tattoos around his eyes, mostly black but some parts red, the significance and meaning both unknown to Lord Aradel. He was dressed in dark robes with pointed shoulders and wide sleeves, with gold filagery on the collar and sleeves. “My inspection on behalf of the Canton of Resource finds nothing of concern within your holdings, Lord Aradel…” For a moment Lord Aradel felt a wash of relief fall over him, but the Obligator continued talking. “However…my colleague from the Canton of Inquisition has voiced…concerns.” Lord Aradel turned his attention to the Obligator’s companion. The man behind him was tall and dressed in black robes, much more loose fitting and plain than the Obligator, with a dark hood over his head. The man raised his head slightly to reveal a similarly bald face with tattoos and markings around the eyes, however, this man did not have eyes. In place was two flat discs of metal. Lord Aradel knew that they were actually the flat ends of two spikes that had been speared through the head of the man, and the points stuck out the back of his head. He was a Steel Inquisitor, a terror of the Steel Ministry that made Obligators look like cute puppies. “Concerns…yes.” The Inquisitor said, his voice was raspy and cold, “Tell me Lord Aradel…how old are your children?” “My children?” Aradel replied, trying to hold back the nervousness in his voice, “Seta is 18 and her brother Venrin is only 12.” “Yes…and you have had how many wives?” The Inquisitor asked, his expressionless face causing Lord Aradel to shiver. “…Just one, she died last year.” Aradel explained. “Lady Marewen Aradel, previously of House Tekiel. Died of a sickness if I recall, a weakness in the blood. It is a hereditary disease that only affects women. It has other known symptoms…including infertility. Did you know this?” “I…I did not.” Aradel lied. “But it can’t always be the case, we have two children after all.” “Lord Aradel…let us not play games.” The Inquisitor said, “Bedding skaa is not a crime. Your business is otherwise in order here, you will not receive any personal punishment for this incident.” The Inquisitor cast his eyes behind Aradel, who immediately turned to see a horse-drawn carriage returning to the manor. “Your children, however….they should never have been allowed to be born in the first place. We will have to rectify that.” “No…wait, my wife, she desperately wanted children! But she knew! She knew she couldn’t conceive, what else were we to do?” Aradel looked pained. “Lord Aradel…” The Inquisitor took a step forward and Aradel recoiled in fear. “Step aside, or I will execute you for interfering with the responsibilities of The Canton of Inquisition.” Aradel hesitated. He loved his children, and he had loved his wife. He turned back to the approaching carriage, and he knew that he could not hope to stop a Steel Inquisitor. His children, he began to realize, were already dead. In that sense, was there really any need to sacrifice himself too? He winced at the thought, but then without another word, he stepped aside. The Steel Inquisitor smirked, and then stepped past him, slowly making his way through the fields towards the carriage. --- --- --- --- Venrin barely noticed the rocking of the carriage, he was so immersed in his book. The young boy was dressed in a white shirt with brown waistcoat and black trousers and shoes. His dark brown hair was combed neatly in a side parting and his keen blue eyes were transfixed to the page. His sister, Seta, sat next to him staring out of the window. She was a thin, beautiful young woman with dark hair like his own, tied back in a complex braid that was hanged over her shoulder. She was dressed in a simple, dark gown that wasn’t very fashionable, but she had insisted on wearing these sorts of things, something that was more fitting and easier to move around in. Where other young ladies wore heels and slips, Seta wore boots. “The ashfalls are quite beautiful at times.” She said, “Perhaps you would notice this too if you ever paid attention to your surroundings, Ven.” “Hm?” Venrin gave her a half glance and then went back to his book. “We’re almost home, I can look around here any time. This book is at a good part though, the hero just killed the leader of the skaa rebels and saved the damsel.” “Skaa rebels? How silly, Ven. Skaa aren’t organized enough to properly rebel, and they wouldn’t dare kidnap a noble lady.” “It’s really exciting though…the hero is a Coinshot, he’s so daring-“ “What is…” Seta interrupted him as she looked out of the window of the carriage. The horses stopped as they had reached the manor. Seta got out and Venrin closed his book and followed her. As they stepped outside Venrin gasped, spotting the Steel Inquisitor walking towards them. Venrin felt a chill as he stared into those cold discs of metal. “Seta…” He said worriedly. “Ven…get back in the carriage,” Seta said, her tone becoming serious. She was holding a small vial in her hands. Where had she been hiding that? As he wondered that, she uncorked the vial and swallowed the liquid contents of it. “I mean it, get back in the carriage, now.” Then Seta suddenly shot forward with immense speed. She closed the gap between them and the Inquisitor and let out a primal scream as she attacked him with a flurry of punches and kicks. Venrin gasped, watching his petite framed sister flying like a legendary warrior, showing power and speed that didn’t match her frame. The Inquisitor didn’t seem phased by this, however, and he matched her speed with relative ease, dodging her blows and expertly countering with powerful blows. Despite taking blows to her ribs and face, Seta kept going. Apparently, her resilience was otherworldly too. “Seta…you’re an allomancer.” He whispered in revelation to himself. The Steel Inquisitor apparently grew tired of the dance, and he suddenly stretched out his robed arms and coins flew through the air, cutting at Seta like little knives. She gasped in pain but kept at him, stopping only to call back to Venrin; “Run!” Venrin was shocked into movement, and he suddenly turned and ran away from the fields, back towards the open road. The Inquisitor knocked Seta to the side and then he sprinted for Venrin, moving at an incredible speed. With a thrust of his arms he had drawn his coins back to his hands, and then he pushed them towards Venrin. He felt objects whizz past him like arrows, and then he felt a cutting, sharp pain in his arm, and then in his leg as the coins cut into him. He cried out in pain, terror dominating his mind. He kept running and running but he could not outrun the Inquisitor. The monster reached him and grabbed hold of him by the back of his shirt, and picked him up as if he weighed no more than a loaf of bread. He screamed in horror as he got a closer look at the Inquisitor’s face. His pale, sunken expression, his metal discs for eyes, and he wore a slight grimace, one that made it seem like the creature was in near constant pain or discomfort. “I admire your resolve, child.” The Inquisitor said, “But you cannot run from me.” “NO!” Seta screamed as she reached them. She moved with more speed than she had before, and the Inquisitor seemed surprised by the sheer amount of power she had brought to this next altercation. Her desire to protect Venrin had sent Seta into a rage, and she lashed out at the Inquisitor, wrenching Venrin from his grasp, tearing the boy’s shirt in the process. The fighting became a blur as the fear gripped Venrin and he became dazed and confused. Distant shouting from the plantation shook him from his confusion, as a drumming noise came closer and closer. Horse hooves hammered across the plains, and as Seta struggled with the Inquisitor, a skaa worker on a stolen horse came bounding towards Venrin, his arm outstretched to grab hold of the boy. Venrin reached up in desperation, and the skaa gripped his arm and hoisted him on to the back of the horse, riding away from the battle. “My sister!” Venrin screamed, “No we have to save her too!” “Sorry boy.” The Skaa replied, his expression pained. “No one survives a Steel Inquisitor. Our only hope is to run…” “No! We have to go back for her!” Venrin demanded. This man, what had spurred him to act? He was a slave, and Venrin’s father was their master. They were forced to work hard all day, they were beaten if they didn’t work fast enough, and yet this man had shown bravery, and had saved him. “I’m sorry…” The skaa said, his expression still pained but also resigned. “We can never go back…” Venrin turned around to look back, and he saw his sister broken and beaten on the ground. The Steel Inquisitor had her by the hair, her face a bloody mess. Then with a final smash of his fist, he knocked Seta to the ground. She did not move again. Pain surged through Venrin, a great despair that seemed to rip his insides apart. He felt like something inside of him had been broken, like a snap of a branch from the rest of the tree. Mistborn Alterna: Breaking An Empire That was the day he had snapped. It had been over 20 years since that day, and Venrin Aradel was a ghost. In his place stood a man in his mid-30s. His dark brown hair was longer and swept back. His chubby child-like features had been replaced by sharp hawkish ones. His blue eyes were just as brilliant, but they seemed colder and less innocent. He was clean-shaven, and wore a single bronze stud in his right ear. He had become a lean, muscular man with a strong jaw and a confident posture. He was wearing a black shirt, black trousers and black boots under his cloak. The cloak itself looked like it was made of ribbons of dark-grey cloth, with a dark hood which he pulled over his head. A Mistcloak; a signature attire of the rare and legendary allomancers known as Mistborn. The tassels of the cloak were about an inch to an inch and a half wide, all a dark grey, and perfectly fitted to reach the bottom of his feet, but not to drag along behind him. The cloak was designed to conceal him in the murky mists that covered the land every evening. It was also a sign to common folk and guards to stay out of their way, as Mistborn were above mere mortal men, above even other mistings. The boy who had been rescued by the bravery and kindness of a single skaa had died the moment he had snapped. The two escapees had fled to the mountains where they had found other skaa who took them in. The skaa man, Mraine, had lied to the other skaa there. He couldn’t tell them that Venrin was a Nobleman, for they would have surely killed him on the spot. Instead Mraine had told the rebellion that Venrin was his son, and that his name was Raze. And since that day, he had become Raze. To all who knew him he was a half-skaa, his mother a noblewoman who had taken a skaa lover in Mraine, who had fled when the Steel Ministry had come for them. Mraine, it had transpired, was himself a half-skaa. He was also an allomancer, one who burned copper, also known as a Smoker. His allomantic power had no use in a fight and so he couldn’t have helped Raze’s sister. Burning copper created an invisible cloud, called a coppercloud, within an area around a Smoker, and within that area allomantic abilities could not be detected. Of course only a Seeker, an allomancer who burned bronze could detect allomancy. However, as Raze had come to learn, all Steel Inquisitors could use every metal, and many Obligators were also Seekers. Raze’s sister, Seta, had been a Thug, an allomancer who burned pewter to become physically stronger, faster, and more resilient. They were just 3 abilities of a total of 10 allomantic metals; Iron, Steel, Bronze, Copper, Zinc, Brass, Tin, Pewter, Gold and Atium. The rules of allomancy were simple enough; only those with noble blood could become allomancers, which meant no skaa should be able to use alomancy, as the Lord Ruler had decreed that any noble who beds a skaa should kill them afterwards. Yet laws, of course, were often broken. Mistings were the most common allomancers, people who could only burn one metal. Skaa Mistings were more rare, but they did exist, although they kept their abilities secret. Rarer still were Mistborn, even among the nobility the likelihood of someone being able to use all the allomantic arts was exceptionally rare. As for skaa Mistborn, Raze was fairly certain that they did not exist. Of course, he was now living the life of a skaa, and so perhaps he was the first. Sort of. Raze had learned quickly that the skaa were not as slow witted and dull as the Steel Ministry has led them to be believe. The Canton of Orthodoxy had taught religion to the nobility, but as far as Raze remembered, their teaching consisted of ‘we will handle the religion, you just do as we say and all will be well’. They had been taught some things though. They were taught that the Lord Ruler, the Immortal God Emperor, the Sliver of Infinity, had saved the world from The Deepness over a millennia ago. The Lord Ruler had gifted the nobility, the sons and daughters of his trusted allies, with the power of allomancy. The skaa, on the other hand, were forbidden from having religion. They were forbidden from having much of a life at all really. Many skaa worked as slaves for noble houses, and perhaps a luckier few with specialist skills could have jobs as tradesman or merchants, but only as far as the Lord Ruler allowed. They were his property, no matter what, that fact was made abundantly clear. While the vast majority of skaa lived this life, a small few had managed to subvert the Lord Ruler’s law. First there was the thieving crews. Some skaa had managed to make themselves very rich through a series of cons, heists and burglaries. The others were the rebellion, men and women who had fled civilization to a secret location in the mountains, where they hid and plotted the unthinkable; to overthrow the Final Empire. It was considered a fantasy to most, but it was a fantasy that Raze had latched on to. Spending time with the skaa had taught him that they were just like him. The nobility turned a blind eye to these people who thought and felt in precisely the same way as they did. And he had been saved by the kindness of a man who was a slave to his family. A man who Raze would not have blamed if he had simply watched him die with a smile on his face. He owed this man and his people. He didn’t know how, but he was going to find a way to do it. He would kill the Lord Ruler and bring the skaa their freedom. “Daydreaming again?” Mraine asked. They were stood in a backroom of a skaa tavern in Urteau, the capital city of the Northern Dominance. Mraine no longer wore the rags he had when he had worked on the plantation. He had gained weight over the years, he wasn’t fat but he looked healthier and more well fed now. His hair had greyed and thinned, and was combed back over his liver-spotted head. Despite turning 60 this year the man was keen-eyed and confident. He was dressed in a brown longcoat, with a simple olive-coloured shirt underneath and some tan trousers with grey suspenders. He was smoking a pipe, the tobacco smelled spicy and a little sweet. “Just visiting the past…I guess it's being here in the Northern Dominance again.” Raze replied, his voice was deeper and had a cool confidence in it. “When was the last time we were here?” “8 years ago. We were recruiting for the rebellion, and you disappeared.” Mraine replied with a shrug, “Two days later you return, burnt out from pewter drag and ready to collapse.” “Yes…” Raze replied, staring out of the window, “I went to see my father.” “For the last time, apparently.” Mraine said with a nod, “The ministry discovered his corpse a few days later.” “No great loss.” Raze replied coldly, and finally, he turned and locked eyes with Mraine. “Now his heir runs the plantation. New wife, new son. It was like what had happened to us was just a bad dream for him. Well, at least my half-brother treats the skaa better. Even pays them wages.” “You know…those who knew the Aradel heir would say he experienced quite the change of heart after his father died. Apparently, he relished skaa suffering, would even lash them himself at times.” “Well, sometimes a little brotherly love can go a long way…” Raze replied, and he went back to staring out of the window. “So why are we here, Mraine? You’ve got me all dressed up for the occasion, so what’s happening?” “Public executions are happening tonight.” Mraine replied, “All skaa who have defied their masters. One even killed a noble, apparently.” “I like this man already.” Raze said with a smirk. “Woman.” Mraine corrected. “Anyway…skaa with that rebellious spirit are rare. I’ve got our tineyes and seekers scouting the city. Reports indicate that there’s something going down at the Conventical of Seran, all the Inquisitors have been making their way there. The Obligators are dealing with the executions. Security is low, just the usual guards to keep the masses under control. No one really expects any noble mistings to act out against skaa executions.” “So they definitely won’t be expecting a Mistborn, then.” “Exactly,” Mraine said. “Just sit tight here and I’ll keep us hidden. Relax a little until the mists roll in, then you go do what you do best.” “I hate waiting…” Raze grumbled. The streets of Urteau bustled with activity outside. It would be another few hours before nightfall came, and then the mists would roll in. Then he could be free again. Free to run, and soar, and to kill.
  9. Bloodlines

    Inside a shady nightclub in Shibuya, Tokyo, heavy bass rumbled through the thick stone walls. A dancefloor packed with youthful revelers was illuminated through piercing, colourful lights and lasers which cut through the darkness like a knife through butter. Attractive young bodies in vibrant clothing, skin-tight dresses swayed and grinded to the rhythmic bass and delighted at the synthesized parade of trance sounds and electro beats. A female vocalist sang a song about memories as jets of dry ice were sent hissing across the room, weaving through the lights and the people like a fog. Around the dance floor were low tables and luxurious leather chairs where groups of men and women shouting at each other over the music, laughing and enjoying drinks. One man stood out sitting with his entourage, for he wasn’t Japanese. He was a pale man, with a gaunt, skinny frame. His hands, arms, neck and chest were covered in various tattoos and he was dressed in a pair of red Dr. Martens, grey, skinny jeans with a black belt and custom metal buckle that read: “F*CK OFF”, in English. He had no shirt on and his eyes were hidden behind a pair of mirror-lensed aviators. His hair was short, cut high and tight round the sides, the top was longer but tied back in a top knot, with a little tail. The man, who couldn’t have looked a day over 30, was smoking a cigarette that had an aroma that was certainly not tobacco. He was transfixed on the end as he inhaled, watching the crimson light claw closer to his lips, devouring all in it’s path, hungry, relentless, and leaving only ash in its wake. “Adrian!” A man yelled over the music as he sat next to him. He turned to the young man and leaned back in his chair. He pondered about the way people here said his name, which always sounded more like ‘Ey Dorian’ to him. He exhaled the smoke he was holding in his lungs and pulled down his shades momentarily to see him with his own eyes. Recognition followed. “Ah, right, didn’t recognize ya there, mate!” He said in English, “I’m too fucked mate, apologies. It’s my fault, eh.” “Do you…have any…” The other man seemed to be struggling with his English. Adrian held up two fingers to acknowledge that he understand, however. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, clear bag with 5 yellow pills in it. Amphetamines were the popular choice here, which Adrian figured was fiar enough but he’d always been more partial to cocaine. He offered them to the man, held between his two outstretched fingers. The man nodded and took them gratefully, then went to reach for his wallet. He produced a handful of Yen and slipped them to Adrian who pocketed them without a word. “Pass?” He said to the young man and offered him his joint. The man smiled and went to take it, but then hesitated as something caught his eye. He stared off behind Adrian, and then quickly began to look nervous. He stood up suddenly and disappeared into the crowd. Arian frowned at that, he felt it a bit of an unusual reaction to him, but once again realization dawned as another man tapped Adrian on the shoulder. This man stood out, much like Adrian did, but for a different reason. He was a broad shouldered Japanese man, dressed in a black suit and tie with a white shirt, with tattoos barely poking out from under his collar. The man looked mean, and definitely dangerous. “Ah…” Adrian said with a nod, “Y’alright there Kazuo san?” He asked, but Kazuo did not reply. Instead he pointed up to the second floor of the building, away from all the patrons, to a windowed room overhead. “Boss man wants to see me, eh?” Adrian asked, and he stood up, placing his joint in the ashtray. He picked up his T-shirt and put it on; it was a black t-shirt that had a white logo of two acoustic guitars crossed at the neck, with lettering reading: ‘Johnny Cash – Genuine American Rebel’ on it. Kazuo walked, and Adrian followed him. Before long they had exited from the main nightclub area and all that could be heard of the music was the distant thumping of bass. Bright lights greeted them along with a decidedly less visually appealing corridor. They moved in silence, passing other men in black suits as they went up some stairs and then knocked politely on a door. A voice on the other side indicated for them to come in, and they did. The room’s walls were the colour of slate, and the room was decorated with expensive, minimalist furniture. Inside there were two more goons and a third man who was older, perhaps in his mid-50s. This man was sitting down, and as Adrian came in her locked eyes with him and then offered the seat next to him. “Sit.” The man said in English. “Yeah, alright.” Adrian said with a smile and he walked over and sat down opposite the man, a glass coffee table between them. A decanter of whisky sat on the table, and a glass had been poured for each of them. The older man held his hand out to permit Adrian to drink. He took the glass happily and downed it’s contents in one gulp, feeling the amber liquid burn his throat on the way down. “Do you know why I have called you up here?” The man asked. “Not really.” Adrian replied, “Pretty sure it’s not my birthday though, so I can rule that out.” “I took you on because you are a foreigner, and people here feel more comfortable buying drugs from a foreigner.” “Well I wouldn’t really say they are comfortable but it’s a lot less scary than asking you lot for drugs, right?” Adrian said with a grin, “I mean you’re a pretty scary lot, aren’t you?” “Do I scare you, Adrian?” “A bit, yeah.” Adrian admitted, “But I’ve never really been described as the brave sort so I’m probably not the best person to ask, Mister Tatsuyuki. “Plus I’m not exactly sober.” “Sober enough…” Tatsuyuki replied, “We allow you to indulge yourself on our product, provided you keep making us money, and you take your cut like everyone else. If you were to take more than your cut…if you were to steal from me, that would be a problem. Do you have anything to say?” Adrian leaned back in the chair, and there was a pause as he thought about it. They definitely knew. He’d gotten greedy, had kept money aside, hidden it away from them when he was dropping off his takings. In retrospect, stealing from the Yakuza was never a particularly genius plan, but then again he’d never been all that smart. “Don’t know what you’re talking about mate.” He said finally with a shrug, “But I’m sure that whatever’s bothering you, well, we can sort it out with a good chat, eh?” “Who do you think you are talking to?” Tatsuyuki said, and he got up from his chair and began walking to the back of this room, “I have indulged your relative lack of respect since you are a young, unenlightened foreigner. You have thus far shown little appreciation of our culture.” “Hey now that’s not fair!” Adrian said, getting up as well, “I appreciate the hell out of this culture, y’know, I love all the Pokémon games, and don’t get me started on Hatsune Miku, she’s just fab is she not? Cute too, well, for a cartoon anyway.” “Urusei!” Tatsuyuki snapped, suddenly allowing anger in to his voice. He continued berating Adrian in Japanese and as he reached the far wall he picked up katana that was sitting on a stand on a mantelpiece. “Do you understand honour, even a little, gaijin?” He asked as he began to approach Adrian once more. “I hope you’re not gonna ask me to do the hari kari shite, are ya?” Adrian asked. “Aitsu o tsukamaero!” Tatsuyuki barked as an order to his men, and the two goons advanced on Adrian, who spun around to face them, holding his hands out placatingly. “Now lads don’t be so hasty, eh?” He said with a nervous grin, “Let’s not go doing something we regret, hm?” The two men went to grab him, but Adrian avoided the first’s lunge and backed off, his tone more frantic now. “Hey listen, listen! I’m telling ya, I don’t want to hurt ya now. Let’s just settle down eh?” The second man came at him and grabbed him by the wrist, wrenching it behind his back and twisting it hard, causing him to cry out. The other goon grabbed Adrian’s other side and collectively they forced him to his knees, and held him there. He tried to summon some strength, but it had been so long since he had used it. Plus he wasn’t sure the last time he was entirely sober, and he was pretty far gone on various chemicals now. “This…this is for those who are honorable.” Tatsuyaki said, indicating to the katana. One of the men held Adrian’s head up so he could look at Tatsuyaki. “You are a pitiful little thief, and you do not deserve to taste this steel. You get the easy way out.” And then Tatsuyaki pulled out a gun and pointed it at Adrian’s head. “Oh…fffuck.” Adrian managed, staring at the outstretched arm holding the gun at him. “Look…if you’re gonna kill me I would really suggest the sword, mate. If ya cut me head off ya might have a chance.” “Be silent, your time is up you little punk” Tatsuyaki said in Japanese, which Adrian had understood quite clearly. Then there was a loud bang and his ears began ringing like bells. He felt something hit his face, the floor perhaps. His vision faded to white, and he could hear the muffled sound of the men talking, and that distant rumble of bass that had likely masked the sound of the gunshots to anyone in the club down below. “Clean this up.” Tatsuyaki said, as he picked up his glass of whisky and sipped from it. One of his subordinates nodded and left the room to get some help. The other man knelt down at Adrian’s side and began to haul his corpse up off the floor. He got the pale man up off the floor, and was holding him tight against his chest, when suddenly the corpse moved, and Adrian suddenly was the one gripping hold of him. His shades had come off and in the bright light of the room his amber eyes blazed, his pupils slitted like a cat’s. His mouth opened to a maw of gleaming, serrated, razor sharp teeth like that of a monster shark. He clamped his jaws down on the man’s throat and gnashed furiously. The man screamed but it soon became a gurgle as Adrian tore his throat out, snarling like a feral animal as he guzzled down his blood hungrily. “What….are…are you a ghoul!?” Tatsuyuki cried as he pointed the gun at Adrian once more. Adrian dropped the lifeless corpe of the man he had feasted on, and turned his narrow eyes towards Tatsuyuki, and when he spoke he did so in perfect Japanese, even with a regional kansai dialect. “I warned ya…” He said, and he paused to shiver. Fresh blood coursing through him was a particularly intense high, made you feel stronger than any cocaine would, and the intense pleasure was better than any amphetamine, better than heroin, and he would know. He’d had quite a lot of heroin over the years. “G-get back, Ghoul!” Tatsuyuki yelled, and he opened fire on Adrian, firing again and again until the magazine was empty and the gun just clicked. Adrian looked down at the holes in his shirt where he had been riddled with bullets, and then looked back up at Tatsuyuki with a hurt expression. “Just ‘cause I don’t die doesn’t mean it’s ain’t sore, ya know?” He advanced towards Tatsuyaki. “And I ain’t no Ghoul. I told ya didn’t I? I’m a vegetarian!” “But…then what…?” “I like drugs, Tatsuyuki san. Love ‘em, I admit it. Somethin’ of an addict. Just so happens though….that human blood is the best drug goin’ for guys like me. Now, see…” He held up his blood covered hand and pointed his finger at Tatsuyuki chastisingly. “What ya failed to grasp is that the reason I take so many drugs is because it helps me not consume the one I really love. But when you got and blow me to bits like this, you went and triggered my healin’ didn’t ya? Now I’m stone cold sober, in a lot of pain, and everythin’ has a price, includin’ my immortality. Bet yer wishin’ you’d cut my head off now, hm?” With a bit of resolve mustering in him, Tatsuyuki threw his gun to the ground and drew the katana from it’s saba and with a warrior cry he ran at Adrian. The vampire smiled a grin full of bloody fangs, and as Tatsuyuki swung the blade he side stepped it with inhuman speed and grace, then he plucked the sword out of Tatsuyuki’s hands with effortless strength, and tossed it away. Then his other hand clamped around Tatsuyuki’s throat, his finger nails had hardened and became pointed claws, that pierced into the skin of Tatsuyuki’s neck. “16 years….not a drop of blood. Then ya had to go an’ fuck all that up, didn’t ya?” Adrian snarled and then he savaged at Tatsuyuki. Like a starved feral beast he ripped the Yakuza boss to shreds, his claws and fangs tearing him limb from limb, relieving him of his organs, scattering his flesh and bone across the floor, all the while blood sprayed everywhere, coating the window that looked out on to the nightclub from on high. Adrian’s memories of the event grew hazy as the blood frenzy consumed him. Specifics of the even were lost. There was only blood, and violence. For a while he swam in the sea of his dark, primal nature. When he finally emerged to the surface once more, he was no longer in the Yakuza den. He was in his shitty little apartment. At some point he had showered and ditched his blood-soaked clothing. Somewhere along the line his human side had seen sense and had ditched the blood for safer options. Adrian stared down at three empty bottles of whisky, and a fourth that was almost finished. Three lines of cocaine were chopped up and set out on the counter. He took the rolled up 10,000 yen note in his hand and then he snorted each line, one after the other. With each line he was given a sudden jolt of reality that brought his consciousness front and centre. He looked around the room, rubbing at his burning nostrils. He had money, but not a lot. His clothes were hastily packed in a duffle bag, and his phone was charging on a stand by his bed, a futon on the floor. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. Then he picked up his duffel bag and went to zip it shut, and noted that the katana Tatsuyuki had threatened him with was nestled in among his clothes. “Well…at least I got a souvenir.” He said to himself. He left the apartment in a hurry, and ran down the stairs in such a rush that he wasn’t paying attention to the windows. When he opened the doors to go outside he instinctively froze and stepped back. The bright sunshine of early morning greeted him on the street outside. He lingered in the door there for a moment, his normal looking eyes returned to narrow slits as the light him them. He covered them with his shades and then took a deep breath. Then Adrian the Vampire stepped out into the sun. It’s heat prickled on his skin, but did nothing more outwardly. While there was once a time where the sun would have burned him to ash, this had not been the case for more than half a century now. However, moving in daylight was no picnic for him. His keen senses and supernatural healing seemed to stop working when he walked in the daytime. And so all of a sudden the liquor and drugs hit him almost as powerfully as they would a normal, mortal human. He felt dizzy, and he was sweating, yet he kept getting cold shivers. He became disoriented as he moved through the streets of Shinjuku. A modicum of sense came back to him as he ducked into the subway and rode a train to Tokyo Central, and managed to shamble through enough conversation with the ticket lady and the man at the station’s shop to score himself a bottle of sake and a ticket on the Shinkansen to Osaka. As he settled down on the train, he got to drinking the bottle of sake and pulled a denim jacket over his head, in an attempt to get some sleep through the daytime journey. It took a long time, but sleep did take him eventually. Sleep, for a vampre, was not filled with dreams. Instead sleep was a cold, dark embrace. While it brought him rest, it was not the same comforting experience that he had once remembered it to be. And so not long after he felt his consciousness fading, he was suddenly awake again. It had been hours, and he had awoken to a headache that was surely a sign that he was far too sober. The train had pulled into a station, and the tannoy indicated that it was Shin Osaka Station. With a grown Adrian grabbed his things and hauled himself up and off of the train. He made his way quickly through the station, which he noted had changed quite a bit since his last visit to Osaka. When had that been? 20 years ago? More? It didn’t matter especially. He knew where he needed to go. He took a moment to be incredulous at the inconsistency of his ancient brain’s memory. He had forgotten more languages than most people could speak, including his native Romanian, but for some reason had managed to hold on to English, Spanish, French and Japanese, and specifically with a kansai dialect. Bonkers. And he even remembered he needed to get to Namba Station to get to where he was going. Yet he could not remember his own mother and father. He could remember that he loved his mother, and that he had absolutely no love for his father, but for the life of him he hadn’t a clue why. The journey through the subway to Namba was a brief one, only a quarter of an hour at most. When he reached Namba station he went to the bathroom and straigtened himself out a bit. He was wearing a sleeveless, black T-shirt with a picture of Godzilla; the old kaiju rubber suit one, not the weird Mathew Broderick one. He had kept his Dr. Martens on and had changed to a pair of blue, denim jeans that had been cut at the knees to make them shorts. After that he begrudgingly made his way out of the station, and back in to direct sunlight. The disorientation wasn’t quite so intense this time, mostly because he’d somewhat sobered on the journey. A quick five minute walk in which he had hoovered through about 3 cigarettes had lead him to Dotonbori, and it’s signature neon adverts emblazoned across the tall buildings next to the canal. A wave of familiarity and nostalgia washed over him. The place had not changed quite so significantly as Tokyo had over the years. So now he was here. On the run from the Yakuza, who would no doubt seek retribution for the massacre that had transpired in Shinjuku. He had no money, and no employment now that his previous employers likely wanted him dead. He also had no contacts to buy drugs, and nowhere to live. Now that he had taken time to stop and think, perhaps coming to Osaka with literally no way of getting by wasn’t such a bright idea. However, as he had acknowledged many times before in his life, he had to admit that he was not a smart man. His pondering was disrupted by the smell of delicious foods being cooked. Dotonbori had a whole host of decent places to eat, lots of cosy little bars and restaurants where you could eat a good meal for an affordable price. He moved away from the busier streets and walked down by the canal, looking for somewhere quiet where he could avoid drawing any attention to himself. Finally he found himself a little establishment called Soma Ramen. He put an unlit cigarette in his mouth and pushed the door open, and stepped inside. He looked up to find a young woman staring at him with an unreadable expression. He waited for the customary ‘welcome’ that most shops in Japan greeted patrons with, but it didn’t come. Oh dear. “Yo.” He said with a tired smile, “Do you have a vegetarian dish?”
  10. Bloodlines

    Bloodlines Dotonbori is a strangely unique place in Osaka, perhaps even in all of Japan. You might call it a bit of a tourist trap, what with it's colourful lights, luring you like a moth to a flame. Or perhaps it's incredible selection of restaurants and street food that make it a foodie's dream destination. Dotonbori's night life is equally popular, and it's slim backstreets are often fit to bursting with locals and tourists keen to experience the neon highlight of Osaka. None of them expect to die here. Soma Ramen was a small place. It was out of the way. Positioned directly beside the canal, but away from the majority of the hustle and bustle. A few tables and chairs sat outside, just so you could appreciate your meal, or a hot cup of coffee, beside the water. As you enter, the door's bell jingles. It's usually quiet inside. A small place like Soma Ramen exists mostly on the custom of regulars and the occasional lost tourist. It was warmly lit inside, though sparsely. Tables and chairs lined one side of the room, a bar on the other, and behind the bar a door led back into a kitchen, occupied by a single person. The manager, owner and chef - Soma Mitsuko. Mitsuko was in her late 20's, she was tall and slender though her clothes hung off her as though she wore a size or two too large. She wore a white tank top and a baggy black zip hoodie with the sleeves rolled up. Her arms were covered in black and grey tattoos and she was pierced in multiple places. Most obviously, a couple of black bands on her right ear, studs in her ears and another on the side of her nose. She had long, black hair, partially tied in a ponytail. Shaved on one side of her head, while her hair cascaded free down to her collar bone. She knew that she was... unusual, in appearance, but Dotonbori had many characters stranger than her. Her attention lazily refocused upon one of only two customers in her restaurant. Noodles slipped between lips and disappeared into a void. "Delicious, as always, Soma-sama!" A plump, middle-aged man exclaimed. His chopsticks clutched a thick bundle of noodles and brought them to their end while she watched with little reaction. As he finished his bowl with a sigh, he looked up and she blinked and smiled at him, closing her eyes a little and chuckling. The man smiled in return, happy that his hunger had been alleviated, then he left. The bell jingled and Mitsuko released a quiet sigh. Her smile vanished as she wiped her dishwater-covered hands clean and quietly placed the cloth down on the counter. She felt it. Hunger. She knew it better than most. Hunger never surprised her. It was inevitable. His hunger would be sated by her death, at least for a time. But she was disinclined to allow him that satisfaction. Even if it also meant an end for her own special brand of hunger. She yanked her head out of the way as something crashed into the counter beside her, sending wood and debris flying everywhere. She barely moved, but it was enough. Allowing herself the most fleeting of glances, she saw her assailant's weapon, through eyes that had turned entirely black, revealing her true nature. The weapon was like an enormous sword, only it had no edge. It was like a blunt slab of metal with a long handle. It seemed, she thought to herself, they're getting smarter. But, as she also reminded herself, smarter than cattle wasn't enough. The metal slab lifted from the crushed counter top and withdrew as the man who had been quietly sitting in the corner, a customer like any other, had now assumed the role of her attacker. From a coffee to a claymore in an instant - the shift, that is, as she didn't buy into the instant coffee fad. Screaming, the man pulled back his weapon and raised it above his head, ready to attack a second time, but she couldn't allow that. He'd already ruined her counter. Faster than the man could entirely follow, Mitsuko crossed the restaurant floor at a sprint. She moved gracefully, avoiding the tables and chairs until the last second, at which point she kicked a chair at the man with such force that when it hit him, it knocked the length of metal from his hands. His eyes screamed before it could reach his mouth, at which point his head separated from his shoulders and landed with a heavy thud upon the black-tiled floor. Blood splattered her face and clothes and the standing corpse collapsed as a puppet suddenly sans it's strings. Mitsuko straightened up, licked the blood from her fingers and heard the familiar jingle of her door's bell. Turning, she saw the plump customer from just moments before. It seemed he hadn't gotten far enough away to have missed the sound of her fight. He was stood, frozen in the doorway. She knew it would be maybe another second or two, and then confusion would turn to horror. Panic and self-preservation would have him call for someone, not because he wanted necessarily to hurt her, but because he did not wish to be hurt. Thoughts of hatred and fear of what she was would come later, when his brain wasn't screaming at him to run away as fast as his pudgy feet would carry him. "Thank you for your custom, please excuse me, the mess..." She apologised, a smile renewed on her face, just for him. He blinked, and it was enough. He joined her would-be-assailant on the tiled floor. "What a mess..." She muttered to herself, the smile she had used like a mask, vanished and with it, any semblance of humanity. But do ghouls have 'humanity'? Do humans? She wondered sometimes. The humans hate us so much, but are we not just animals as they are? We must eat to survive, just as they. But they kill one another over nothing. They rape and steal and hate and betray. But i'm a monster? Mitsuko asked herself, looking at her hand, tinted pink with the blood she'd licked clean. The black tiles were turning red all around her, rousing Mitsuko from her thoughts. "Mop..." She said to herself, and got to work. An hour later Soma Ramen was open for business again. A couple of familiar faces smiled and greeted her as she turned the door sign around to 'We're open! :3", then she followed them inside. She turned the big-screen TV on in the far corner opposite the bar. It was an old thing, and the buttons didn't always work, but she didn't really care and it never seemed to bother the customers. Two bodies immediately flashed on screen, they were mid-conversation. The news. That's what humans called it. They repeat information that was handed to them, to others, and then the humans accept it as part of their reality. "--other news," The anchorman continued, glancing at his colleague with a grim expression. She couldn't know what this expression meant other than it was a kind of sadness. He was letting her know he was going to say something upsetting. "--2 found dead and partially consumed in Dotonbori--" Mitsuko was trying to listen, but she was having trouble focusing. His expression was distracting her, as it was sad, but his mouth was flat and thin, and his eyes were dull. He wasn't sad at all. He wanted her to think he was sad. Mitsuko found herself curiously pleased at the reminder of a curious thought she'd had more than once in the past. The concept that humans wear masks upon masks, while she only one. "Dreadful! Another ghoul attack I expect, in my--!!" An old lady snapped, as she shuffled into her booth. The man silently slid into the opposite side and started taking his scarf off even as the woman continued to yap in a most loud and unnecessary fashion. She studied him carefully and knew this was not unusual behaviour for his partner. Yet, there was something underneath it? He was content to listen. He didn't mind. Interesting, she thought. Something to mull over later. The couple just wanted coffee from her and continued watching the news, and unfortunately, she found herself just as transfixed by the story the anchor was weaving. He told them that with 2 dead in a likely ghoul attack, it would be the first reported incident in over a month in the Dotonbori area. Then he asked them a question they could not possibly answer. It was phrased to scare them. "Could this mean a return to similar levels of ghoul-related incidents in the rest of Osaka?" Fear-mongering. Mitsuko had used such a tactic herself, she had worked hard to keep incidents as low as possible. The more the government focused on other districts of Osaka, the less they would interfere with her home territory. It worked, because she knew how ghouls thought. Humans were still very much a mystery to her, despite her attempts at understanding them. But she needed only know that killing a ghoul whenever it's own kill was spread across the human's media, would show ghouls that hunting in this area was likely more dangerous than others, and so they would leave or kill and clean up after themselves. And so, presumably, without high numbers of deaths, the humans would leave them be. It seemed that time had come to an end. With an attack on her life from what could only have been one of the government's ghoul killers. Ghouls didn't use weapons like humans. That big chunk of metal had a purpose. Their bodies were tough, tough enough to stop a blade. Conventional weapons were mostly useless against them. So the government had started equipping officers with a variety of weapons intended to cause pain and break bones through impact, which could be enough to subdue a ghoul long enough for them to kill it. It wasn't the first one she'd seen, but they were getting better with them. It was lighter than the ones that came before it, but not much smaller. Was that then made of titanium? Mitsuko pulled herself from the television and quietly walked behind her bar and checked behind a loose backing. There it was, the bone-breaker blade. She pulled a nail - which was not unlike a thick claw - across the metal. Just a scratch. Yes, titanium. Or something stronger. Mitsuko stood back up and saw what she was expecting, the old woman, though the woman herself seemed surprised that Mitsuko wasn't thrown by her sudden appearance. Despite what had happened earlier, or perhaps all the more because of it, she could never take any chances. She might be old, she might not throw her weight around and so she just walks quietly, but she was still a potential threat. "Boo!" The old woman snapped, and then smirked to herself, though her face turned sour once more upon seeing a lack of reaction from her. "Hey, waitress, you seen that couple up there on the news? I can't believe you run this place all on your own, y'know, and we're your customers and we're old, so...!!" "We're real old..." The real old man grumbled to himself from back in his stall. "We can't be expected to protect ourselves from monsters!" The old woman looked indignant. What was she upset about? Was she upset because they might, maybe, die? Wasn't that a certainty? Mitsuko saw the sour look on the old woman's face deepening. She had to correct this. "Oh I know!" Mitsuko said affirmatively, nodding. No? "I completely agree." The woman still looked upset. Mitsuko added a smile but the woman still looked pained. What was she missing? Ah, of course, the woman didn't want her to agree with her, she wanted her to be upset for her. Mitsuko lost the smile and let the corners of her mouth droop just a touch and closed her eyelids slightly. It felt like juggling. Luckily, she could catch knives like this with practice. "It's so hard for you..." She pulled out the master class. She turned back to a smile but dialled it to 11, scrunching her face up as hard as she could and let her voice quiver, "I'll do better! I'll hire someone on!!" "O-Oh--" The old woman was instantly disarmed, unsure what she'd triggered. Then she reflexively started patting Mitsuko and encouraged her into an embrace. Then Mitsuko slowed her crying into silence and stared off into space. Now was a good time for idle thoughts. She had a few minutes to kill. Humans liked touching. Not just their partner, but anyone who will let them. So now she had to hire a pair of hands she didn't really need, when she struggled enough already with paying the bills. But, that was just another cost of her blending in as much as she did. She was just trying to survive. At any cost. So why then did that girl...? Mitsuko couldn't dwell on years-old memories though, as the door jingled once more and a scruffy-looking man stepped inside. She knew the moment he stepped inside. He wasn't human. But he wasn't a ghoul either. He was something... else. Also, he needed a bath.
  11. It Won't Be For Long

    Seeing Erwin wake up was probably the best thing so far today and Levi's gaze stuck to the huge body that seemed so out of control, the owner disoriented as his laptop fell to the floor. Erwin surely had been sleeping soundly before Levi interrupted him. When Erwin got himself up, stretching while his back and joints made odd noises, Levi couldn't help but look at this guy's ass. Eyes widening, palms getting sweaty. What a perfect piece of meat. Levi forgot the breathe for a moment as he couldn't decide whether to follow those fucking long legs or to pay attention to the broad shoulders under the wrinkled shirt. The shorter one was curious about the body beneath denim and cotton. Just from this view right now and their most recent encounters where hugs were shared as a goodbye he... Pull yourself together! Levi started to breathe again, chest widening unter his shirt as he gasped for oxygen. Erwin moved closer, his face looking all wrinkled and tired and yet Levi thought he looked fucking cute. An awkward nod followed as Erwin greeted him and then he looked up as the taller one positioned himself nex to him. What a man! He smelled good, Levi had to admit, sleepy, comfy and warm. The small and normal gesture when Erwin rubbed his eyes with his palms brought another "cute" to Levi's mind and he licked his lips. While Erwin fulfilled his cat-puke-removing-duty Levi watched closely as limbs moved, muscles flexed and - Jesus Christ - Erwin's face was a story on its own. "No worries... but lemme ask you what you and your cat could probably be nervous about... should you want to talk about it." It was not as if Levi was the strictest host there was... he just liked his place clean, things put back where they belonged, shoes taken off, toilet seat put down, hair removed from the drain immediately, trash taken out daily, laundry separated by colours and textiles... well actually he might have some irks and quirks that could seem strict or over the top. But it was HIS place after all. Never shared a flat, never lived together with someone. So Erwin would have to deal with Levi's rules for the time being. "It won't be for long" - he recalled the message after he had offered Erwin to stay here. They were quite good with messaging - and even Levi was surprised how easy he would open up to Erwin after a glas of whiskey or wine. He was a loner, always had been, but writing with Erwin felt natural... somehow. Yet he struggled to get a real conversation going with his temporary flat mate and would rather just try to avoid being awkward while he would hang on Erwin's every word. He definitely was good with words, knew very well how to say things, how to express himself - a true teacher, someone willing to share his knowledge. It was awesome to just listen to him speaking about the things he liked. He really had enjoyed their encounters without Mike. And although it might have looked like it from the outside but they have definitely not been dates. But maybe Erwin actually did like his host in more than one way after all? Levi was shit with interpreting people's intensions but the word "cute" definitely didn't belong to the vocab he remembered being called in the past. So Erwin was a premiere in quite a lot of ways... The taller one came closer again, offering his help and ... Jesus he was so fucking cute. Like a big puppy. Levi pressed his lips together, fingers digging into the kitchen counter and he sucked in some air. The "I warn you, I'm not that great with cooking" was like a scripted scene from a movie and Levi was conflicted on how to react. If it wouldn't be Erwin that was asking with his big, beautiful, blue eyes and this fucking cute smile with a gentle flush taking over his face, Levi would know what to say right away. But it was this goddamn guy, that was standing next to him, looking fine as hell, smelling good. Levi gulped heavily, his reply taking him too long already. "Are you-", his voice came out much higher than intended and Levi hoped that Erwin wouldn't notice as he coughed and turned away from the taller one. "Are you not able to cut things in pieces or is it the herbs and spices; getting it put together that you are not 'that great' with?", Levi asked quite bluntly and bit his tongue. Shit. That came out far more aggressive than he had intended. Shit shit shit. With flushing cheeks he started to unpack the grocery bags, placed meat and veggies, eggs and ham, cheese and fruits, ice cream and whipped cream alongside other things on the counter while starting to mutter: "Cooking is not that big of a deal. I can show you some... teach you, if you'd like?", was the pest peace offering he could give, Once a loner, always a loner.
  12. It Won't Be For Long

    Erwin's eyes snapped open. He sucked in a breath and groaned it right back out as he ran his hand down his face. The laptop on his belly swayed and teetered and smashed to the floor. Twisting his body to look over the edge of the small loveseat, Erwin muttered a curse under his breath. "Fuck... What..." Erwin shook his head, eyes wobbling up to look at the digital clock under the television. 8PM. He slept for six hours. How did that happen? Erwin hated naps. Erwin hated breaks, honestly. Erwin hated being restless and bored and stagnant... And being in Levi's house was making him all of these things. Being alone and bored made his mind run too wild into places he had worked his whole life to ignore. To think, he had only been here for two days. He really needed to get out of here soon. Placing a heavy foot on the floor, Erwin rolled off of the couch and stood up straight to stretch. His back popped and cracked all the way up through his elbows and knees. He moaned out and shook out his limbs as he limped into the kitchen to greet his host in the kitchen. "Good evening, Levi." He smacked his lips, moved to the refrigerator, opened it, but closed it soon after as he turned to lean against the counter. He smiled down at Levi, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he rubbed a palm to into his eyes. "Sorry about Gunner. He's just as nervous as I am, I think." Swaying off the counter, he lumbered over to the paper towels, pulled off one too many squares, and roamed around until he found the pile of kitty barf and picked it up in one scoop. He shivered at the sensation, walked it to the trash, and dropped it in. Moving to the sink, he washed his hands with soap before turning off the faucet and turning back to Levi. Levi had become a decently close friend over the past few years. They never hung out without Mike as a buffer before recently, but he'd had a few relatively revealing conversations over messenger that may or may not have involved alcohol on lonely nights. It was those conversations that prevented Erwin from venturing alone with Levi--it's what made him hesitant to accept the invite that Levi had offered. Because, what wasn't charming about this elegant small man? Well off and successful, clean and well put together, quiet and mysterious, humorous and blunt. Erwin didn't have a crush on Levi. And he definitely didn't feel the heat around his neck as he thought of the time he said Levi was cute when he was far too drunk to remember to censor himself. "Do you need help with cooking?" Erwin said, and it came out like a croak. "I warn you: I'm not that great." He offered a genuine smile, and he hoped it would hide the red creeping across his skin.
  13. It Won't Be For Long

    "It won't be for long" He read the message again before taking a deep breath and putting away his mobile again. It was quite the irony that Mike's childhood friend Erwin, a few years older than Levi, was the one seeking shelter in a rough time and ended up staying with Levi. Initially Mike was the one to be asked for a place to stay but with his wife, the kids and the dogs the space was limited. And when Mike had told Levi about Erwin's situation while they were doing chest presses, Levi offered to help out. Erwin was okay, a friendly guy, always smiling, immediately getting ones attention with his stunning blue eyes, fucking broad shoulders and.. Never fuck a buddy's buddy. Levi furrowed his brows – they had met through Mike and always had seen each other around Mike and only recently had hung out a few times together without the tallest of the three. "Mr. Ackerman?", Petra's voice ripped him out of his little daydream. "I just wanted to let you know that the meeting with Mr. Dawk is all set up for tomorrow. The room is prepared and I just went through the presentation again. If you want to have a look?", she smiled. "I don't think there's need for me to check it again – but please feel free to send it to me and I can go over it.", Levi rewarded his newest secretary with an honest smiled, pouring himself a glass of water. "Thank you Ms. Ral, you've been a great help since you joined my company." Strictly speaking, it was not his company. Kenny's name was in the papers because Kuchel's will said so but he had never set a single foot into the building ever – neither when Kuchel was building up the charity foundation nor after her death. She had been a fucking angel and too good for this world. His fucktard of an uncle was a drinker, paying hookers and strippers before taking care of bills and basic necessities – the money Kuchel left him should last for a few years and basically he could get profits from the foundation. But not if Levi could prevent that. ~~~ “Sorry Mike, can't make it today - long day tomorrow. Do some extra sit ups for me.” Levi was doing some errands and then decided to not go to the gym today, instead he would get some fresh vegetables, meat and other things to prepare dinner at home. He talked himself into believing that he wanted to be fit for the meeting tomorrow and the blonde, handsome, German-teaching guy sleeping on his sofa had nothing to do with it. ~~~ It was the second day Erwin was with him – one night spent in the quite spacious apartment together – and Levi still had no idea how to behave in his own apartment with someone else around. Once a loner always a loner. “Hey.. ehrm.. I wanted to cook something? Would you min-” What the fuck? Levi's eyes scanned the huge body one the tiny piece of furniture. It was 8 PM on a Monday – why the fuck would you be lazing around if you need to find a job? Levi felt anger rising until he put the groceries on the counter between living room and kitchen. The fucking cat had puked next to it's bowl – awesome, really great. Anger turned into disgust. His eyes went back to Erwin. Maybe he was not lazy at all today and indeed had been running from school to school, shaking hands, giving people his charming smile and convincing them of his skills as a teacher? Erwin didn't seem like a lazy fucker at all. Hands now free, Levi leaned against the counter, unsure of how to proceed, how to wake the big blonde guy on his sofa. Deep, steady breathes left his lips as he scanned the facial features – shit, that guy really was quite a handsome motherfucker. And even now, while dozing in the late evening, the dim light gave his appearance a unique aura. Was he... drooling? Fuck – that was unexpected … and somehow it was quite cute. Never fuck a buddy's buddy. “Oi, Erwin!”, he spoke louder to make sure to wake him up. “I'm going to cook – would you mind helping me and maybe get rid of your cat's puke? Can't see the animal anywhere around or I would have asked Gunner directly.”, Levi said with – to his own surprise - a smile. Yet he tried to find the right tone to express his disliking but also wanted to hint that he was looking forward spend some time with his temporary flat mate.
  14. ...and it made me frown

    It is very sad indeed.
  15. "It won't be for long" he had written. And he meant it. He didn't intend to stay unemployeed for long. Thirty-five and growing soft in all the unsavory places, he couldn't be crashing at his friend Levi's house for longer than a few months. Erwin was well respected, well educated, and well liked in his school district. He had a powerful rolodex of references. However, his last school underwent some budget cuts, and his department of two was cut in half, and unfortunately he was the half to go. He had his resume into every school's inbox in a fifty mile radius, and he was willing to expand it larger than that. Surely somebody would bite. He was well respected, well educated, and well liked after all. And he was growing soft in all the most unsavory places. Erwin leaned his head back on the arm rest of the loveseat. Everything about Levi's apartment matched his stature--small, stylish, and crafted with purpose. Even though he made well for himself, he was minimalistic, including his furniture in his living room. Erwin kicked his feet along the edge of the couch, bit his lip as he checked the same job posting board for the fifth time in three hours. His cat, Gunner, swatted at his foot once before he hissed him away--another reason why Erwin had to move out. Levi wasn't really an "animal person". And Erwin wasn't really "clean". And they kind of "fought a lot", if he was being honest. With a groan, he threw his head back and slapped his laptop shut. Closing his eyes, he figured he'd take a little nap before his new housemate got home.
  16. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Something was happening outside of his room, and Steal limped over to see if he could find out what it was. Someone was down the hall, down the stairs actually talking and he could hear his mother's voice filled with disdain. Then came his father, the hated man who cared only for his money. He reached out to turn the doorknob expecting what always came to him. The door being locked. It wasn't. Somehow some way his father had forgotten to lock the door. Steal opened the door and started to walk toward the noise. He didn't want to be noticed and he planned to stay silent. He hadn't wanted to show himself but then he could hear the one talking and he had to step out. Yusai, calling for him. Steal stepped out and peeked down the stairs, not aware that he was bloody, or rather not giving a damn that he was bloody. Steal parted his lips to say something but he was so tired and weak with relief at seeing Yusai. He put out one hand as if to reach Yusai, but his head started to swim. He staggered and fell down the stairs, causing his Mother to yell out in upset, and his dad to roar in anger. Steal lay on the floor dazed, one hand out to Yusai as if begging him to do something. "Want.. to go home.." Alan Masters turned with a roar again. "Get your ass back upstairs, you are so going to regret this. I swear that I will break both of your fucking legs." Steal looked like he was going to burst into tears. He wanted Yusai to rescue him. He wanted to go back home, and more than that he wanted to know that Yusai loved him. It didn't matter one way or the other because for Yusai to get him he would have to get past the angry man cursing at his son and telling him of the terrible dismembering he was about to get for disobeying. Too bad there was no camera filming this. He would be able to get free if someone knew that Steal was being tortured. "S-Save me.."
  17. ...and it made me frown

    i just popped in for the first time in however long, and was sad to see this too :(
  18. ...and it made me frown

    Surreality is dead. Q.Q I see only two roleplays relatively recent, and nothing in these OOC threads.
  19. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    What were they going to do now? Yusai had received call from Otto not too long after he, Lance, and Logan had loaded back into the car. They were silent until the phonecall, mulling over their options on what they could do that made the most sense, given the circumstances. They had no way of verifying if Steal was with his parents… Until they heard from Otto otherwise. “Does he know for sure?” Logan had asked when Yusai hung up the phone, his face donning a pained expression. “Yeah mate, says he got a call from a hotel Steal was taken to last night before he was brought here. Steal left a message on a mirror or somethin’.” Yusai explained, his eye wandering. “So what do we do now? Do we call the cops?” Logan rolled his head and ran his left hand through his short, ash-yellow hair. “We could, but it’s going to be real hard reporting this as a kidnapping. He’s of legal age, with his parents, and his parent’s aren’t holding their own son for ransom. It’s more likely this would all turn into one big, ugly court case that would go on for a few… Months.” Yusai let out a long breath through his nostrils, his fist clenched around his cellphone. God, this was killing him. He hadn’t felt this helpless in a long time, not since he was a child. He wanted so desperately to just charge into the home, grab Steal, and start running but he knew that the option was an impossibility. What could he do? He kept turning the question over and over in his mind until Lance interrupted his thoughts. “What’s to stop us from like, just knocking on the door and uh, telling his parents that we know what’s going on?” Lance asked, his chocolate almond eyes glancing between Logan and Yusai. “Well for starters, what do you think that would accomplish?” Logan responded, “Do you believe that his parents would return their child to the free world because his roommate and his boyfriend said so?” Lance blushed when he heard “boyfriend”, wishing that was the case. Yusai flushed too, but for different reasons. His fist, clenched around his cellphone, was so tense that the phone slipped out of his hand and he scrambled to grab it from the floor where it had fallen. As he was leaning upright, he heard Lance’s rebuttal. “I just mean that… Well, you mentioned all this stuff about Steal’s parents being uh, more concerned with their reputations and stuff than Steal’s feelings. Couldn’t we tell them that we know all these things and, I dunno, could release them to the public if they don’t let him go?” “You mean, like, blackmail?” Logan asked, his tone and expression deadpan. It looked as if he’d heard this suggestion a thousand times and for each time he heard it, he died a little inside. He inhaled long and hard through his nose, turning in his seat so he could get a better look at Lance as he geared up to explain why blackmail, or extortion, was both illegal and a bad idea. However, before he could even get a word out, he was distracted by a loud “THUNK” of the passanger door closing, and the two of them saw Yusai storming down the walkway like a man on a mission. Logan groaned and smeared his hands down his face, frustration marring his features; Instictively, he slammed his palm on the horn of his car, hoping to startle Yusai into stopping in his tracks and turn around, but he seemed unphased. And, he was; Yusai only briefly looked back when he heard the car horn blaring behind him, the panicked agitation plain on Logan’s face as he was waving for Yusai to “GET BACK HERE”, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t care, wasn’t thinking about, the consequences of his actions. He was determined to get Steal back one way or another and if he had to threaten his parents with blackmail, so be it. He marched up the small entryway and didn’t hesitate to knock firmly on the door. It was answered shortly after, by a familiar looking older woman with long, silvery-blonde hair. She examined Yusai with her pale blue eyes and grimmaced, appearing to have made a judgement and was in the process of honing her tongue. “Can I help you?” the woman asked, bringing a hand to her collarbone to feel at the pearls that hung there. “I’m looking for a friend of mine. Stea--Stephen. I got word that he was here. I’d like to speak with him if I may, please.” Yusai said, his tone low, but polite. There was no sense in laying a threat down immediately, if it were unnecessary. This woman, however, did not seem to be buying Yusai’s pleasantries; She saw the tenseness in his jaw, the small crease of anger in his brow, and the glint in his eye and it was plain as day that this gentleman was not here to have a word with a friend. “And what do you want with him?” The woman whipped back, her eyes never faltering from Yusai’s. “You say he’s a friend of yours, but my son doesn’t keep your kind of company as friends, so you must be mistaken. Please excuse yourself.” She said this, and made a move to close the door, but Yusai planted his foot in as a door stop, which took her by surprise. “Oi, sorry, but I don’t think you understand,” Yusai began, “Steal is a friend of mine, and as his friend, I’m here to do whats in his best interest, and I’m quite sure it’s to get him out of this fancy hell-hole you’ve got him locked away in. Let me ask again--May I speak with him?” Yusai’s tone was plain, but punctuated his determination. He was not going to back down and Steal’s mother knew this, however, she would not be bested by some crietin in her own home. She turned her head and shouted for her husband, her voice sharp and curt. Mr. Masters appeared not too long after, bounding down the stairwell behind her and looking agitated. “What is it?” He asked, approaching the doorway, seeing Yusai’s large frame within. Allan’s eyes seemed to darken then, but he’d hear his wife out, first. “This thug wishes to speak with Stephen.” Was all she divulged, clutching a pearl from her string between her thumb and index finger. Alan’s blue eyes, so much like Steal’s in color but completely different in appearance, pierced suddenly into Yusai’s, who met his snake-like gaze with his own stony glare. “Stephen isn’t taking any visitors, and he certainly isn’t taking visitors from the likes of you. Get the hell off of my property before I call the police and have you shot for trespassing.” Yusai didn’t respond immediately then, and there was a pause. Yusai had two sets of very angry eyes trying to stare him down, two people who were as determined as he was to keep Steal hidden away from the world, for whatever reason. A threat had already been laid on the table--leave or be violently escorted off the property by police. Should he rise to Steal’s father’s threat with his own? He didn’t know. He hesitated on this momentarily, and instead did the next best thing he could think of; He shouted for Steal as loud as he could, hoping his voice could be heard by his friend. To some success, this seemed to startle Steal’s parents enough for them to become distracted. They both looked around, thinking that maybe Steal had been somewhere behind them this whole time. They were more startled--and visibly angry--when Steal had made an appearance on the stairwell, still bloodied and battered from his tussle with his father a little bit ago. Yusai’s own anger had disappeared and turned into relief, but only for a second; He was happy to see Steal again but he was covered in bruises, welts, and a trail of dried blood ran from his nose, down his neck. A multitude of different emotions washed over him--pity, sadness, helplessness--but then anger came back to him when he heard Steal’s father snap at his son to retreat back to his room. The look Steal shot at Yusai would’ve made his heart break, if it hadn’t been pounding away with the help of adrenaline. “Oi! Steal, come here--I’ll protect you, I promise,” Yusai said, his voice gentle and assuring. Steal looked at him like a wounded animal and hesitated, but he began descending the stairs anyhow, bravely in the face of his parents who were now guarding the path to the entryway like dogs. “I told you to get back in your goddamned room, Stephen,” Alan said, the whites of his eyes now visible and his brows arched fiercely. “Take another step forward and I’ll see to it you won’t walk for a very long time.”
  20. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Steal had barely managed to make it back to his room after the most brutal beating his father had been able to dish out at the time. He could hardly feel anything in his left arm, but that was likely a result of him falling on the ground badly. He wasn't sure that he could have broken it, but there was a chance, always a chance seeing how angry his father was. When he was finally on his own he curled on his bed and took short shallow breaths. His father would be gone a while, he usually went down and drank. For some reason beating the snot out of his son was a reason to drink. Steal looked at his barred windows and shook his head a little. He was in jail. Prison, a cell that he could not get out of. Steal did not know how he could get out of here and he was highly aware any chance of talking to someone and getting help was out of the question. No one was permitted to talk to him. He rose slowly and glanced out the window, and jerked back a moment as a car drove by or rather away. Steal could have screamed. It was pointless but he wanted to scream and yell for help. He sank down to the floor and sobbed softly. "Help me..." The call went through to the bar, and the housekeeper waited to see who would answer the phone. "Aye, I found this number on a shirt in one of my rooms. Yes, it is a teen's shirt or something, for one of those bands. Nothing else really but a message saying to call the number. Yes, a woman rented the room... took a boy with her I guess, but.. no no not sure why it was left but it was a message or for some game?" She frowned at the words being spoke to her before hanging up. "Kidnapping or abduction..." She took the shirt and ran down to the main desk to give over the shirt in case the police came. Otto frowned a moment as he put together the information before passing on the call to Yusai. Steal was certainly with whoever took him and he had left his shirt behind seeking help so he was not there willingly. The problem was that there was now a limited way to get Steal back without going to the police, and even if they did, would he be able to leave now that he was in custody of his parents and he was still 20? Otto gritted his teeth and he slammed his fist on the bar. He made the call and was not sure that Logan, the man with Steal could do anything. Steal calmed himself down and he paced around his room. It was time to think of ways to get out. He was being abused, he was in pain, he was locked in a room and there was no one to help him get out. No one came into the room, if he had been able to speak to someone he may have been able to ask for help from them. His parents knew that all too well and they did not let it happen. Steal sat down on the bed again and took a deep breath. His arm still hurt, he was bruised. Could he use that to get out? Could he call and complain his arm was broken? If he did would he be able to get out of here? He was still thinking about that as the door opened and a figure loomed over him. "Ready for round two brat?" Shit. Steal swallowed hard. "Why? Why must you do this? He lifted one arm as if to shield himself even as his father moved to grab him again.
  21. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    It had been a strained hour or so ride up to Albany. Yusai had tiredly, half-heartedly, tried to answer the myriad of questions Lance had about Steal since his disappearance. His frustration must have been coming through in his tone, because Lance had started to trail off into silence, and worry simply marred his features. Logan had remained mostly quiet during the drive, occasionally mentioning their current whereabouts, ETA, and asking the odd question or two but nothing of significance. Or so he thought. Logan had asked how the two knew Steven--Yusai answered first and said that he knew Steal for years; He was his roommate and close friend. They had met at the bar three years ago while there was an event going on at the club, and Steal had tried to sneakily weasel in an order for an alcoholic beverage whilst he was very much underage. Rather than call him out on it and make a big ordeal out of the affair, Yusai simply made him a fruity drink and insisted it was loaded with booze and watched in amusement as Steal guzzled it up and proceeded to make the cutest little ass of himself at the bar counter. Yusai had later been thrown for a loop when Steal had gotten sick and proceeded to barf up every drink he fed into him, but that was also how Yusai learned about Steal’s allergy to mango. Yusai had prattled on like this for longer than he realized, so lost in his own memory and regaling that he didn’t notice Lance’s (muted, but very obvious) awe-struck expression. To him, this was just finding out another detail about Steal he was desperate to hear, as he wanted to know as much as he could about the guy but was obviously lacking the social graces that seemed to come so naturally to this otherwise big and intimidating Australian man. When Yusai had finished telling his story, Lance gingerly added his own, saying that he and Steal met by chance getting a haircut, then met for a date, and to this Yusai’s head looked like it was about to spin off. A date? Yusai repeated to himself, mentally. Lance and Steal went on a date? But that couldn’t be. As far as he knew, Steal wasn’t gay--the mere thought made him squirm and feel tingly, a strange sensation all over that he couldn’t quite place his finger on--So that must have meant that Lance was, and that he must’ve invited Steal unbeknownst of this fact. This revelation made Yusai feel a whole different sensation altogether, and it descended on him quickly and fiercely; It was jealousy, but Yusai recognized it as anger. He opened his mouth to let fly with a barrage of questions, interrogations, lectures, and even insults, but before a letter could even form in his mouth, his whole body was being thrust forward into the seat belt as Logan stepped on the brakes. “Sorry about that,” he apologized, putting his cars gearshift into park. “I think this is the place.” The triad looked out the windshield. They were parked a short distance outside a longer stretch of driveway that curved around a large, well-maintained lawn that was otherwise devoid of substance, save for the odd spruce tree that were planted symmetrically outside the parameter of the house. The house itself was fairly large, fitting in perfectly in the neighborhood (a fairly “rich” part of Albany) but with enough little subtleties that set it apart from the other homes in the surrounding area. For one, this house had the longest driveway in the entire area. The second thing was that the house appeared to have black grates or bars of some kind over the majority of the windows that weren’t decorative. The third thing that set it apart was the rather sterile appearance of the lawn, and outer appearance of the home in general. All the other surrounding houses in the neighborhood had some small detail or another that separated it from the other homes nearby, but spoke clearly of the owners personality: Be it with hints of gold trim along the windows, the use of brick or slate for their driveways, or elegant street lanterns to illuminate their walkways. This house just seemed to say, “Nothing to see here. Go away.” They were looking up at this house in silence for what felt like forever, until Logan spoke again. “I’m going to go take a little walk around outside and see if I can gather some more information. If you want to stretch your legs, go ahead, but if anyone asks who you are or what you’re doing here, tell them that you’re waiting for a friend who’s lost and getting directions. Don’t tell them anything else.” With that, Logan reached into his center console and grabbed a pen and a small notebook that was wedged between some other parcels, stepped out of the car, and made a slow amble up the driveway, occasionally looking to-and-fro, maybe to sell the illusion that he was a lost traveler. This left Yusai and Lance alone in his car in a deafening silence. Lance was watching Logan listlessly while Yusai, also watching, had resumed his previous ruminations over Lance and Steal’s “date”. That funny feeling that was briefly quelled when they pulled up to the driveway had returned, slowly burning away in his gut, making him feel a mixture of unease and… Something else. He hadn’t realized he was clenching his jaw until Lance had quietly asked a question, which Yusai didn’t hear, and snapped back instinctively, “What?” His tone harsh enough to make Lance flinch a little in his seat. “I was asking if we should… I don’t know, get out and help?” the hairdresser repeated, plainly baffled by Yusai’s reaction. Yusai shook his head, rejecting the idea as well as trying to dismiss the confusing thoughts racing through his mind. “He didn’t ask for help. We outta stay put, like he said.” “I don’t mean the detective. Look up there in the right corner window. That’s Steal, isn’t it? Or someone that looks a lot like him.” Flabberghasted, Yusai turned his attention to where Lance had mentioned, straining his eye to see a modest distance away at the house. His depth perception wasn’t the best, but he could see a small, blurry figure standing against the window, a very distinct blotch of whitish-silver that could very well be Steal’s hair matted against a mix of peach and very bright red features. There was another person there with him--at least, thats how it looked--and the two appeared to be struggling. The smaller of the two figures fell backwards, and the other followed their initial blow with a series of clumsy, blurry swings. Punches, probably. Yusai could only gawk in horror, jaw clenched. They--he--had to do something, didn’t he? If that was Steal, that is. Or even if it wasn’t? Yusai’s eye darted to Logan, who was only now approaching the front door to the house and ringing the doorbell. Yusai’s eye flung back up to the window to see the man who had been swinging at the presumed Steal stall, then make a hasty pace out of that particular room. His mind was racing. What should he do? What could he do? He was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn’t even register the movement beside him, or seem to hear the sound of the passenger door adjacent to his seat open, then thud shut. Yusai hadn’t even realized Lance had exited the vehicle until he saw the guy bounding down the driveway, doing what he should’ve been doing first. He felt another flare of jealousy surge up in his guts and before Yusai knew it, he was following suite, hot on Lance’s heels in no time. The two were only halfway up the driveway when the front door was answered, and they paused in their tracks, just enough in range to see the exchange between Logan and this black-haired stranger. What they were saying to each other was barely audible from where Yusai and Lance had stopped, but whatever the conversation had been, it was brief and curt. Logan had to step back from the door to avoid having it literally slammed in his face, and he ambled back, hands in his coat pockets, his expression neutral until he saw Yusai and Lance waiting for him in the driveway. Logan frowned, and nodded slightly. “That’s Mister Masters himself all right,” He said to them when he was close enough, and he continued walking away from the home. “Whether or not the Masters kid is here is another story. Walk with me--If we loiter, we’re likely to be forcibly removed from the premises.” Yusai hesitantly turned his back from the mansion, shooting a look over his shoulder up at the window Lance had pointed out earlier. He couldn’t see anything or anybody in there right now, but he was sure Steal had to be in the house somewhere. And he was determined to get him out by any means necessary.
  22. HEROES

    The Bronx. 42 square miles of land. An urban community often associated with crime and decay, never really managing to rid itself of the reputation it gained in the 60’s and 70’s. 20 years after the decline of livable housing and the increase in arson cases, The Bronx had went through significant redevelopment and the quality of life there had improved. Yet The Bronx was no without it’s problems. Gangs were still prevalent in low income areas, and of the various Hispanic gangs, the Latin Kings and Latin Queens were the most prevalent. Violence and corruptions still stained the borough like an sickness. There was only so much the police were capable of, and The Avengers were too busy fighting aliens and killer robots to actually look out for the little guy. New York had it’s own share of superheroes to deal with the every day crimes. Spiderman, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Power Man and Power Girl. Still, none of them were handling The Bronx. It seemed that despite wealth returning there, with new housing and businesses being built, the danger was still present. Someone had to do something about it. That someone was Flare. Flare liked to be up high, to see over the city from the rooftops. As far as hero outfits went, her ensemble wasn’t quite as striking as Daredevil’s or Spiderman’s. She wore a simple slate grey hoodie with the hood up, with dark lycra sport leggings, and black athletic sneakers. Her elbows, knees and shins were covered by black, hard-plastic protective pads. Under her hood she had a tanned, smooth complexion, and wore a pair of visor-like sunglasses to hide her eyes. A fringe of dark brown hair fell across her forehead, with the ends dyed in flashes of purple. Tonight was something of a special night for Flare. On any given night she would do her ‘rounds’, making her way through the streets, quite literally looking for trouble. Generally she was used to interceding in gang fights, muggings and assaults. On more rare occasions she might discover a burglary taking place. Tonight, however, she was on to something much bigger. Over the last few evenings she had listened in on conversations between members of the Latin Kings. She had discovered that the Latin Kings were to receive a large shipment of goods; most likely drugs or guns, as part of an ongoing relationship they had with another gang operating elsewhere. Bringing drugs or guns into her town could cause no end of trouble. With a large shipment of weapons the Latin Kings could settle old scores with rival gangs and increase their hold on The Bronx. With Drugs they could bleed the town of the little wealth and prosperity it was gathering, and ruin people’s lives in the process. Flare wasn’t about to let that happen. Unlike most of the people in this town, she could actually do something about it. She stood at the edge of a flat rooftop of a collection of large warehouse buildings down by the East River. It was dark and even from her heightened vantage point she could see little to no signs of life. So she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and then she flared her hearing. Well, that was a vague term for what she was doing anyway. Flare could heighten her senses individually with an effort of will. However, even the sense people considered to be hearing, was a collection of different senses. She could flare her sense of volume, although she avoided it often as it just made everything louder. Any sound engineer will tell you that the human ear is the most sophisticated microphone. If that was the case, then Flare’s power worked kind of like the sliding controls on an audio mixing board. To make everything louder, that was like a master volume control, and it was never very helpful in her opinion. So she had learned to adjust pitch and tone, in order to shut off some sounds and hone in on others. It took her a few moments of mental adjustment, but eventually she began to hear something going on. The sounds were coming from the shipping containers outside the warehouse by the river itself. There was the sound of someone taking a draw on a cigarette, followed by a very slight cough. Two sets of footsteps were moving between the containers. Then in the warehouse itself she could heard muffled noises of people talking. She allowed her hearing to return to normal, and then she was on the move. She dropped down from the roof, gripping on to a metal pipe on the corner of the building and using it to slide down to the ground. She moved quietly, sticking to the shadows created by the large shipping containers. She moved carefully between them, towards the sound of the first two people she had heard. As she moved she flared her sight, specifically her ability to take in light. Suddenly the dark night’s colours began to fade a little, but the shadows became dimmer and the lights brighter. Now all that had been murky and hard to see where clearer and more distinct. She saw shadows moving between two containers and knew she was close to her first targets. With a short hop Flare nimbly climbed atop the container and crept slowly across it. She cautiously looked over it’s edge to see two men dressed in typical gang banger garb, all tattoos, denim and bandanas. Definitely Latin Kings. Both men were carrying pistols and were pacing calmly, peering out of either side of the container, looking for anyone nearby. Clearly they hadn’t spotted her. To take them both out she needed to get her timing right. One mistake and they’d yell, or even fire off a shot. She waited until the smoker had moved to one end of the container to look around. When he took another drag of his cigarette she dropped down behind him and swept a kick at the back of his leg, sending him falling back towards her, she bobbed back out of the way of his fall, but when his back his the ground she followed up by striking him in the chest, causing him to choke and cough. By the time the other gang banger turned around Flare was already sprinting between the containers towards him. He lifted his pistol to shoot and was opening his mouth to yell, but she was already on him. She confidently grabbed his gun hang with her right and pushed it aside, pointing the gun away from her, while her left fist came in with a hook to his jaw, then she moved back along his arms and pulled the gun from it, and turned the pistol on it’s owner. The man held his jaw in pain but immediately froze when he saw the gun pointed at him. However she didn’t hold him hostage for long, before he could even begin attempting to bargain, she had clubbed him with the grip of the gun and he fell to the ground, out cold. Flare calmly dismantled the pistol and dropped it on the floor. She began to slow her breathing, taking long and considerate breaths, actively trying to calm the rush of adrenaline flowing through her, filling her with excitement. In and out she breathed, and slowly she began to calm down. She moved back through the containers and towards the warehouse. She ducked down behind a car to get across the open gap, and then pressed herself against the wall of the building. She flared her hearing once more. “-you do not need to worry how we are shipping this in. All you need to know is we can manage regular supplies of what you need.” Said a man’s voice. He sounded well-spoken and confident.” “I ain’t questionin’ your ability to bring the goods, Saito. I just want to know how you’re shipping all this in without alerting the feds. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill brand heroin…and we’re not talking a small amount here either.” Said another man, with a hispanic accent. “Perhaps you should just focus on the money you’re going to make with this investment.” The well-spoken man, Saito replied. Flare cursed silently. It was drugs after all. She allowed her hearing to fade back to normal and began to make her move. She climbed up the fire escape ladders at the side of the building that lead to the second floor balcony of the warehouse. She opened the door quietly and stepped inside, looking around to see if there were any guards posted along the upper balcony. She could see no one, but she flared her hearing to double check. Her expression became a frown. Aside from the two men talking, there was no other sound in the warehouse. There was nobody there. That was just too unlikely. Normally a meeting like this would have gangs posting thugs all around the place to make sure there were no cops nearby. She moved quietly along the balcony, ducking behind boxes in case either of the two men spotted her. When she found a spot with a good vantage she looked out on the two men. Saito was likely the middle aged Japanese man with short black hair, and wearing a business suit. The other man was dressed in black jeans and a white vest, his arms covered in tattoos, with tan skin and dark hair, and a stubbled beard. Next to them a container had been opened up, and a bag of some sort of powder was sitting between them on a table. She examined the container that had stored the cocaine. It was full of the stuff. Then she noted the brand outside of the containers, some sort of corporate logo. Then she noticed the logo on another container in the warehouse, then another, and another. There were at least 10 containers in the warehouse with that logo. Did they all carry hundreds of pounds of heroin? She had to take out both of these men, and keep them apprehended until the police arrived. She flared her hearing again, and as she attuned her hearing, she heard the smallest of movements from behind her. She turned just in time to see and then dodge away as a long blade stabbed into the wood of the crate she had been behind. She turned and faced what she quickly realized was an honest to goodness, real life ninja. Dressed entirely in red and black cloth gear that concealed all but his eyes, the ninja was quick to react and was already advancing for a second strike. He swung his sword at her and she used her hand to block it sideways and advanced inward, so the blade was behind her. Then she brought her fingers in tight, with her knuckles flat, like a tiger’s paw. Her deflecting arm wrapped around the ninja’s oustretched arm and held it in place while she jabbed him twice at the point where his arm met his torso. The man made an odd strained noise, but Flare moved her arm around the back of his head, and as she gripped him tightly she raised her knee into his stomach hard, then hooked her leg around his and swept it out from under him, laying him out flat of the ground. The noise of the ninja crashing had alerted Saito and the Latin King leader. They both had stopped talking and had turned her way. Flare went to advance on them, but as she ran someone hit her hard from the side. Then another swept her legs out from under her and she hit the ground of the metal balcony hard. She winced in pain but tried to get up, only to have someone kick her hard in the side and she barked out a short cry of pain. As she looked up she saw more ninja’s dressed in red and black surrounding her. There must have been at least 11 of them, 12 including the one she had taken out. They had been here all along, watching her, and waiting to strike. Ninja, the real deal, martial artists that could stand so still, and be so quiet, that she had not detected them even with her superior hearing. She struggled as they grabbed hold of her, and dragged her down to the lower floor. Then they pulled her hood down to reveal short, pixie-cut her, longest at her fringe which was dyed purple. They took off her sunglasses as well, revealing her defiant, amber eyes. “One of yours?” Saito asked to the Latin King Leader. “Why because she’s Hispanic?” Came the reply, “Nah this is just some punk trying to play hero.” “Well, she didn’t have any trouble with your men apparently.” Saito said, and he looked at Flare and smiled at her. “You seem like you have a lot of potential, it’s a shame you had to go and waste it like this.” Saito motioned to the ninja, and suddenly she was being forced on to her knees, and someone held her head down, then she felt a blade resting on the back of her neck. Tears welled up in her eyes. She was terrified. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. How could she have been so stupid. So weak. And now she was going to die. Her mind fled to her family, her two parents, and her younger brother. She was never going to see them again, and for what? She couldn’t even manage this, how could she have ever thought she could be a hero? All she had accomplished now, was to get herself killed. The tears finally fell from her eyes and tapped softly on the ground beneath her. Then, quite suddenly, all of the lights in the warehouse went out. “What the f-“ She heard the Latin Kings Leader say, but then there was a noise like a blunt object hitting him, and then something heavy hitting the ground. Suddenly there was a lot of scuffling in the dark, the sounds of metal scraping and blows being struck. Then the grip on her was released and somebody hauled her to her feet. She flared her vision and almost all colour disappeared, but she could make out grainy images in the total darkness. Someone was fighting with the ninja, someone had saved her. She saw Saito fighting diligently with his men, and apparently he was an incredibly skilled fighter himself. Then there was a flash of flight that momentarily dazzled her vision, and she allowed her enhanced vision to fade once more. The light, she realized, was a glowing yellow orb that seemed to flicker and pulse like a flame. As her eyes adjusted she realized that it was coming closer, and that it wasn’t an orb at all. It was a fist. Illuminated by the light of the Iron Fist, was the dragon-like tattoo on the hero’s chest, as he advanced on Saito and hit him with a single, powerful strike that sent the man crashing back across the room and slamming against the wall. “If you can walk you better run.” A voice came from behind her, as a masked man approached having dealt with the rest of the ninja, who were in a heap on the floor behind him. “Police will no doubt be here soon.” The man, she noted, didn’t look right at her but instead seemed to be only looking vaguely in her direction. Flare nodded and moved with both of the men towards an exit door and back outside. In the light of the moon and the streetlights she realized that she was running next to a man dressed in green trousers, with a bare chest and a yellow bandana across his face, was definitely the man she knew as The Legendary Iron Fist. The other, dressed in a bulky, red armour, with an armoured, red mask, complete with red eyes, and a pair of devil horns; he was Daredevil. “How did you…” She began to ask. “I have good ears, a bit like yourself.” Daredevil said to her, “Although The Hand have become particularly capable at moving silently. Yet they still cannot hear as well as you, so you should have used that fully to your advantage.” “That’s why you turned off the lights.” Flare said, getting it. “If no one can see then the one who can hear better will succeed.” “Something like that.” Daredevil replied. “That’s a nice chat you two are having.” Iron Fist said from ahead of them, “But we need to get out of here before the police arrive.” “Right.” Daredevil nodded. “Go home kid. And think twice before you go trying to play hero again, all right?” “I…” She went to say more but before she could the two heroes ran off and left her alone again. She cursed silently and then stormed off alone. She ran down the road hurriedly, but as she ran across the road the police cars came rolling around the corner. They screeched to a halt and before she could hide they had stepped out of the car, their guns pointed at her, screaming at her to get her hand on her head. She thought about how best to take them out before escaping, but then she thought better of it. It was one thing to hurt bad people, but these were just officers doing their job. With a heavy sigh, she raised her hands in the air and calmly waited as the officers surrounded her. --- --- --- --- A few hours later she had been booked and locked up in a questioning room. Police had began questioning her but she remained silent. They asked for her name but she didn’t respond, then they began asking what she had been doing at the scene, and started warning her of the trouble she was in. Eventually she was beginning to feel the strain of it all. She was scared. She was going to get in trouble with the police, and be branded a criminal. Her parents were going to found out what she did. “I…” She went to speak, to spill the beans and admit everything to them. “I’m Isa-“ The door to the room opened and a man in a suit walked in, he had blonde hair and hid his eyes behind a pair of crimson tinted sunglasses. He moved with a delicate care, and she noticed he was holding a blind man’s cane. “Fellas, you know the drill.” The man said, “Her lawyer is here, so it’s time for you to go.” “Lawyer? She hasn’t even had her phone call yet, we don’t even know her na-“ “Isabella Vasquez.” She said, cutting them off, “And if that guy says he’s my lawyer then he’s my lawyer.” “Matt Murdock.” The lawyer said, “Now, gentleman, can we have some privacy please?” “Damn it!” The other officer cursed and the pair grumbled at each other as they collected themselves and left the room, closing the door behind them. Matt gave Isabella a warm smile and then made his way to the table and sat himself down opposite her. “Nice to meet you, miss Vasquez.” “Izzy.” She said to him, “That’s what most people call me.” “Izzy…well it looks like you’ve been busy.” He put some paperwork down in front of him, “Fleeing the scene of a crime, 18 men found beaten to unconsciousness, 12 shipping crates filled with heroin, illegal guns scattered everywhere, that’s quite a busy night.” “Look I’m not explaining myself to you, you aren’t even my real lawyer.” Izzy said, frowning, “They don’t have anything on me, or they’d have booked me with something, right?” “Oh I think they thought you were a Latin Queen, part of the gang.” Matt said, “But I’ve managed to talk them down from that, you’d be amazed how quickly the government backs down when you throw the term ‘racial profiling’ around a bit. You still have a few minor charges but your bail has been posted via a donation from the Rand Corporation.” “Uh…what?” Izzy said, frowning further still. “Why the hell is Rand Corporation bailing me out?” “I think, officially, it’s a PR stunt to do with community outreach, youth rehabilitation, something like that.” Matt smirked a little, “As part of that same program you have been offered a paid scholarship by the Stark Institute. I understand you are currently enrolled at Columbia, Biology major?” “How do you know that?” Izzy asked suspiciously. “I did a little research, and I have some resources that the police don’t. You’re Isabella Vasquez, 18 years old, star of your high school track team, currently enrolled at Columbia under a fees only athletics scholarship, with a major in biology. You also practice regularly at Ahmad’s Krav Maga Training, and even teach other students sometimes.” “If you did your research properly, then you’d know I’m not looking for hand outs.” Izzy replied coldly. “Izzy, the Stark Institute scholarship will allow you to continue to focus on your studies without the need to do track, and it’s a full ride scholarship complete with boarding at a specialized campus with food allowances, transport allowances, clothing, and finances to support yourself and your family.” “I like track.” Izzy said, folding her arms. “Look I don’t want none of Starks hand outs. I earned this scholarship, I earned my place in Columbia. I worked…really, really hard to get in there. I didn’t go looking for hand outs.” “I understand.” Matt said with a nod, and he was smiling at her. “There’s another angle to this, though. You see…you’ve been under Stark’s radar for a while. Didn’t you wonder why Daredevil was all the way over in The Bronx just when you needed help last night?” Izzy tensed at that. Mat knew what had happened last night. “…Stark’s been watching…me?” She asked, her voice trembling. “He makes a point of keeping an eye on future potential. People who have…abilities.” Matt opened a folder in the pile in front of the and showed her a sheet of paper. Izzy picked it up and read it. “Avengers Initiative?” Izzy asked. “Tony Stark’s plan for the future. To train young, talented individuals to become to heroes of the future. The scholarship will allow you to do what you have always been doing; training your body and your mind, to become as strong as you can be. You’ve worked hard to be a hero-“ “Damn hard.” Izzy interrupted. “Right.” Matt nodded, “And people have noticed. This isn’t a hand out, Izzy. But it’s your choice if you take it.” Izzy thought about it. What Matt had said was true. Since Izzy had began to notice her powers, her first thought had been how to use them to protect people. She had been training her whole life to protect people. She had been fighting, and running, and climbing every chance she had got, and as she grew older she had structured her life around this goal. Her daily routine, the subjects she learned, her fitness, her diet, all of it had been to be a hero, and now someone was offering to help her. “Where do I sign?” She asked, with a slight smirk. “HAHA! YES!” a muffled voice cried from the opposite side of the door leading out of the interrogation room. Then the door opened and Tony Stark, dressed in an impeccable business suit, with his characteristic goatee, and a pair of shades on, poked his head into the room. “Eat it, Murdoc! I told you she’d go for it, you owe me five bucks!” Then he winked at Izzy, “Welcome to the team, Vasquez. Later.” He closed the door and left her alone again with Matt, who looked a little embarrassed.
  23. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Oh the love he felt. The deep searing pains of love. Steal was laying on the floor of the punishment room, welts bruises and abrasions marking him in colourful patterns. He gagged a bit as he inhaled sharply and tried to shift himself into something resembling a comfortable position. As if such a thing was even slightly possible. His father hadn't waited any time at all to start the new dance, or rather the old dance that he had gotten used to NOT feeling. His father was sitting off to the side watching him, his brows furrowed and his eyes glinting darkly. He seemed almost bored with the things he had done, and one would believe it if not for the fact he did it so often. "So, ready to tell me about who you were living with?" He walked over and grabbed Steal's shortened hair and smirked. "Heh, who-ever it was managed to get you to cut your hair like a boy at least. No more girly long hair." He dropped Steal's head before speaking in a falsetto. "But I like it dad, please don't cut it.. If it wasn't for your mother it would have been gone long ago." He crouched near Steal, one hand dropped loosely between his own legs as he peered at his struggling son. "So, tell me about what has been going on, you all queer now? That is it isn't it, I was right you are just a pretty fag boy.." The words were spit with such acidic distaste that Steal cringed from each like another slap. If his father only knew, no, his father had known was that why he was locked here? No, there was more, even he knew that, but, it was enough wasn't it. Just that was a good reason to ensure that Steal never left the house again. No matter what was said he was not going to speak out, not going to taint his memories of Yusai but letting this man darken them. He would take those with him in his heart and protect them. "Not saying anything... y' can kill me but.. wont say a thing.." This of course only made his father more angry. "You may be 20 but you are under my roof again, and like it or not you are going to tell me what you want. I did not raise you to be running off and living with other men." Other men? Something about that clicked in his mind and he couldn't stop himself. "Y' wanted t' fuck me all this time didn't you daddy?" The older man flinched and glared down darker. "What did you say?" He didn't give Steal a chance to answer before kicking him in the face, causing Steal to cry out in agony and roll away. "How DARE you say that to me." Struck a nerve... the pervert wanted me all this time.. Without saying or doing more the other man left the room, locking Steal in, leaving him panting on the floor. If it wasn't for the pain, Steal likely would have been laughing, as it was a dry sound came from his throat, followed by a sob. The pain. He would at least get some time to rest, a little sleep before the sadist came in for round two. Steal closed his eyes and pictured Yusai, wishing he was there instead of here, wishing there was a way to see him. *** At the hotel Steal had been dragged to before being taken home, housekeeping uncovered a strange heap of clothing, with a phone number and address on the back of a shirt. This was a first. Curiousity led the lady to dial the number of Otto's bar to find out what was going on. This could have been one of those weird scavenger hunt or geo-casheing things. Either way it was obvious that someone wanted her to call this number, or go to the address and calling was all she could do while on shift. The clothing wasn't cheap either, though it did seem to be small, almost a teen's size.
  24. HEROES

    OOC: Private RP between Kyo and me. HEROES "Zoe King if you don't get your butt in gear you're gonna be late for highschool!" That was mom. The clock read 8:40am. The alarm had been ringing for a while longer than that. Zoe leaned over and turned it off. Silence, at last. Zoe let out a sigh and fell back onto her bed, knocking some comics to the ground in the process. Though it didn't matter much. Clothes, comics and general mess covered most of her floor and shelves. Her walls were covered in posters of heroes. Men and women she'd grown up watching save the world time and again. To say she was a fan, was more than a slight understatement. They amazed her. Ant-Man. Captain America. Ms. Marvel. Black Panther. Spider-Man. Wasp. Iron Man. Each poster reminded her of the incredible feats that the Avengers had accomplished. She even had their action figures. Well, most of them, anyway. Her kid sister, Ruby, had gnawed Hulk's head off, then fallen in love with the headless Hulk, so that was in her sister's room, but still. "Zoe if you're not downstairs in 5 minutes you'll wish you were dead!" She sat bolt upright and blew a few strands of her shoulder-length black hair out of her green eyes. It was time for school. As she crept down the stairs, she saw her mom was putting breakfast on the table. Ruby was sat, focused on the toast soldier she was dunking in her runny egg. Zoe was almost at the bottom of the stairs, and her mom was none-the-wiser. Her foot touched the second to last step, and it let loose a loud creak. "Good, you're up!" Her mom beamed, "Toast on the table. Go, go!" "Stupid step." Zoe muttered, then darted into the kitchen and grabbed a slice of toast. "Morning, mom." "Not for much longer it's not." Her mother retorted. Zoe looked at her watch, it was 8:47am. What was she on about? "I won't be late, mom. I promise." Zoe said, stuffing toast in her face. She finished up, gave her sister a kiss on the cheek and started to leave. Something wet struck her in the back. "Eugh!" She wriggled in discomfort at the wet patch that was soaking through her plain red shirt. She didn't need to look to know what was on her back. She figured it out based on her sister's delighted laughter. A drowned soldier. "Oh, for goodness sake..." Her mother chided her sister, then turned on her, "Go change and be quick, you've got 10 minutes to get to school!" "I'll change on the way, mom! I've got a spare shirt in my bag, i'll see you later!" Zoe was quick to leave before her mother could reply. Closing the front door behind her, she took a moment to appreciate the lively vibe of the street she'd grown up on in Queens. Kids were leaving for school, dog-walkers were out in force and an ice cream van drove slowly by as it was a hot, hot day. New York was a big place, but anywhere you wanted to go, a yellow taxi could get you there. Though, she preferred walking. Darting into the first quiet alley she saw, she changed out of her soiled red t-shirt into a black Pink Floyd top then pulled a red leather jacket out of her bag and a pair of biker goggles. Putting them both on, she let the goggles rest on the top of her head for a moment as she stretched, flexing her muscles. Bag zipped shut, check. Got your homework, check. She glanced at her watch again, it now said 8:57am. "Uh-oh!" Zoe quickly pulled the goggles over her eyes and grinned, "Maximum effort." As she ran forwards, Zoe's speed exploded. She was a red blur. Zoe was out of the alley and shooting through the streets of Queens at the speed of lightning. Dashing through the early morning traffic, she made a beeline through the blocks towards Queens Metropolitan High School. Mid-step she glanced at her watch. 8:58am. Good, she was making excellent time. It never took her more than a minute to get to school. She spotted a coffee shop and came to a stop, the world was still moving at a snail's pace for her. She saw two people who had bumped into each other and were slowly, very slowly, beginning to fall in front of the entrance. Shooting forwards, she grabbed the man and gently moved him back a step then put his flying coffee back in his hand. She darted to the other man and took the open newspaper from his hands - likely the reason they'd knocked into each other in the first place - folded it, and put it under his arm. Then she moved him out of the way and shot into the coffee shop. In a flash, she'd made herself a coffee and grabbed two doughnuts, leaving the correct change behind. The girl behind the counter was mid-blow on her bubblegum, the large pink bubble obscuring most of her face. Zoe grinned, leaned forwards and shoved a finger through it. The bubble perforated and began it's - at least to her - excruciatingly slow deflation. Zoe dashed back outside, put a doughnut in the newspaper man's hand, nodded to herself with satisfaction and shot on. The bubblegum bubble burst. The change rattled on the counter. The two men stared at each other in confusion. And everyone went about their day. She was almost at her school. 8:59am. Time was on her side. But that wasn't enough. As she ran, she shot around a corner and came across another scene unfolding. But this one was a little more serious. Two men, their faces obscured by balaclavas, were mid-robbery of a convenience store. One of them had his hand on the door handle of his car, while the other was turning back as the store owner ran out after them. He had his gun aimed at the store owner, and he'd pulled the trigger already. Zoe watched as a mushroom cloud blew out of the pistol and a bullet slowly cut through the air, directly on target. She was late, there was no time, but she'd have to make time. First, she ran to the man at the getaway car and looked him up and down. He wasn't holding a gun. She grabbed the hand he'd placed on the car door handle and swiftly pulled it up and away and gently pushed it into his cheek, "Boop!" She added, cheerily. Then she dashed over to the gunman and gently pulled the gun out of his hands, then gave him a little flick on the forehead. She started to run on, and then she realised she'd forgotten something. She turned and dashed over to the bullet, noting it was already halfway towards it's target and plucked it from the air. She threw the gun and fired bullet into the open window of a cop car that was driving towards the scene and shot on to school. The getaway driver knocked himself unconscious, the gunman flipped backwards over himself and hit the ground forcefully and the store owner blinked in surprise and felt over his chest. He'd heard the gun fire, but no bullet? Sirens. A few seconds later, the cops arrived. "I'm the boss, i'm the boss, i'm the boss..." Zoe chanted, trying to reassure herself. She was going to be on time this time. She flew through the last few streets, up the steps to her school, through the main double doors, and down the corridors, dashing past the last couple of students filing into their classrooms. One more corner and she was there. She came to an abrupt stop and put her hand on the handle, then tapped herself on the head. "Hello!" Zoe chided herself, pulling the goggles off and pocketing them, she stepped into a classroom full of seated students and a very angry looking teacher. "Uh..." "You're late, Ms. King!" The woman snapped. "Oooof course I am..." Dropping her shoulders in defeat, Zoe slumped into her chair to the background noise of the teacher explaining why, for the third time this week, she had detention. But that was alright, she told herself, at least she'd made a difference. She took a bite of her doughnut and delved into her textbook. School had been a drag. It consisted of a number of subjects that bored her, then she ate in the cafeteria by herself. She'd had a best friend, Amy. But then Amy moved to Colorado last summer, so here she was. Eating lunch by herself as usual. After lunch, a few more lessons and then the bell. What a relief! She was glad to be out of there. As usual, it didn't take her long to get home. But as she unlocked the front door and stepped into the entryway, her mother walked out to greet her. She had lipstick on. Her single mom. Lipstick? "Hi honey, come in, come in! You've got a guest!" Her mother had a wide smile plastered on her face. "Okay..." Zoe muttered, closing the door behind her. She walked through into the living room and then she saw him. Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. One of the founding members of the Avengers and one of her biggest heroes. She stared for a moment, her mouth moving but unable to speak. Tony Stark stood up and smirked. "Got a sec?" He asked, raising an eyebrow curiously. That was the last thing she remembered. "Honey...?" Zoe heard her mother speaking, asking if she was alright. She opened her eyes to see her mother standing over her. "It's fine, happens all the time." Tony added, "I'll wait in her room?" He started up the stairs. No! Zoe screamed in her head, panic spreading through her. She got to her feet and as her mother disappeared back into the living room, and used her superhuman speed to shoot up the stairs, carefully squeezing past Tony Stark - that was Iron Man - she reminded herself. Then rushed into her bedroom and like a whirlwind, she ran around picking up clothes, throwing them into the closet, shoving comics and mess under her bed and within a couple of seconds her room was sparkling clean. Then Tony walked in and whistled. "Well, look at this, huh?" He nodded at her walls and she frowned and turned to look at them. It was only then that it dawned on her that her room was covered in the memorabilia of superheroes and now one was in her room. He walked over to the far wall and glanced at each of the posters in turn. "No," He said, pointing at the poster of Thor, "No," He said, pointing at Captain America. He did this to a half-dozen superheroes in the Avengers. "No. Nope. No. No." Then he came upon a poster of Iron Man, "Yes. Obviously." "W-wh-do-you-I-If-you-wh--" Her words mushed as she tried to speak. "Right." Tony frowned at her, "Y'know honestly I had a couple of drinks with breakfast so I don't know if that was you or me..." He turned his attention to the figures she'd neatly placed on her shelves. "W-what are you doing.. h-here...?" Zoe managed after she collected herself. "Hey, look, he's got his little hammer and everything," Tony picked up her Thor figurine and started mimicking him, "I am vehemently opposed to manscaping!" "M-Mr. Stark?" Zoe asked again. A mixture of panic and wonder settling over her. "Hello? Right, yes, sure." Tony placed the Thor figurine back and then turned to face her, "I know you're a superhero --Don't faint!" He added quickly, as Zoe went pale. "B-but... how--I..." Zoe stuttered, then walked over to her bed and sat down. "Well it's sort of obvious, really, you're just..." Tony pulled out a phone-like device and held it up, it began projecting a series of videos that looked as though they'd been taken by satellite or something. She could see her house! Then she saw a red blur leave her house and then it came back. Then it left her house. Then it returned. And so on, over and over. Zoe was stunned into silence. "I can't explain any better, really. I don't have any art supplies and I left my puppets at home, so if you could just--" "Oh..." "--there it is." Tony smirked, pointing at her, "Hey, don't worry about it, kid. What's your secret identity? You've got one right? Like Speedy, or Lightning, or The Fla--" "--No, I don't. I haven't thought of a good name, I mean, i've been really busy and--" "--sure sure, school, teens, drama, angst, armed robbery-- that's great." Tony shrugged, "But don't you want to be better?" "W-what are you...?" Zoe couldn't think, she could barely talk. "The Avengers are always looking for new recruits." He said simply, shoving the device back into his pocket. "You're a little rough around the edges, but--" "Hey!" Zoe growled, coming to her senses, "What do you mean, 'rough around the edges'?!" "And you fainted. That was fun." Tony added, reaching into his jacket he pulled out a small folder. "Please don't tell anyone about that..." Zoe muttered, her cheeks turning pink, "Wait..." It finally dawned on her what he'd said, "The Avengers?" "Sure just... give that a read." He placed the folder beside her on the bed. "And, when you've decided, pack your things, you'll be moving in with our other recruits." He started to leave and then flicked the collar of her red leather jacket, "Red. Nice." Then he walked out, leaving her sat on her bed in an empty room. The room that Tony Stark had been in just moments before but even now, as she still heard him walking down the stairs and apologising to her mother for going - and her repeated attempts to keep him from going - she still, even now, couldn't believe she'd just been talking to him. Zoe looked down at the folder he'd placed at her side. It was plain brown, with nothing on it but three words, 'The Avengers Initiative'.
  25. WOW, nice drawing. That inspired me a lot. طراحی وب سایت
  26. Hallows

    As the evening wore on, James offered the group to stay for the night. There was no good getting everything ready to fight ghosts in the dark, with half the group greatly fatigued from recent events. Plus, Violet thought to herself, it was nice staying in a home, with friends. Slowly but surely, each person excused themselves and went to bed. James and Jinx vanished first, then Meredith, Rachel and Vincent. Violet sat on the sofa in the living room, stretched and then finally walked up to her room and closed the bedroom door behind her. Violet shed her human outer shell, and as it disappeared she lifted into the air and floated over the top of her bed, crossing her legs as she sat hovering inches above the bed-sheets. "Can't sleep... but I can meditate..." She muttered to herself. Al had seen the darkness in her long before she ever had. While Vincent was given a full education, much of her magical training focused on controlling her inner-self. Clearly, she hadn't mastered that. But she was trying. Violet placed her hands together and took a deep breath, placing them on her lap. She closed her eyes, and let her mind wander. A starry void, crossing through space, picking up speed. Stars turn to streaks of light. Then suddenly Violet's surrounded by orbs of light. Reaching out to one, she managed to graze it with her fingertips, and it giggled and danced away. Violet was strangely drawn to them. She reached out again, but this time one of the orbs flew straight through her chest. Violet's eyes shot open. She was breathing rapidly and for a moment, she couldn't stop. It was only upon reminding herself that she didn't require air to live that she calmed down. Strange as it sounds. The room was as quiet as she'd left it, but she still felt uneasy in what she'd seen. For a moment, it was as though there was something else there as well. Or maybe multiple things. The entire experience, whatever it had been, had made her feel as though there were a lot of eyes upon her, and not all of them were friendly. A few minutes passed as she sat hovering above the bed, when she heard a distant noise coming from downstairs. She looked over at the clock. 3am. Who was up at this time? Everyone else needed sleep. She remained in her energy form, as she was with friends and was tired from maintaining a human shell. As she reached the door to the living room she saw a blueish light coming from within, opening the door, she saw Vincent sat on the sofa, watching TV, with a glass of whisky. "You're up late." Violet said quietly, floating over to the sofa. She lowered herself into it beside him and sat there in silence, watching what was on TV. It was an old spaghetti western or something like that. Cowboys were shooting guns at each other in a laughably bad cardboard-looking 'town'. "And you're watching garbage..." "I haven't watched TV in about 5 years." Vincent said, "Al used to like these though." "They're so silly..." Violet muttered, pulling her legs up onto the sofa and crossing them. "I miss Al..." "Of course you do, you're his favourite." Vincent said, rolling his eyes. He took a sip of his whisky. "The old fart may be the best damn wizard I've ever met but he was always softer on you. A bit of that old school sexism I suppose." "I think he knew what I was before I did. I'm pretty sure that's why you were always given combat training and 1 on 1 magic lessons, and I was given meditations, mantras, chakras, self-reflection and self-control. Much good that did for me." Violet sighed, leaning back on the sofa. "You made a mistake, Vi." Vincent replied, "That's human. You're not the only one in the world who fucked up and hurt someone. You're not even the first one in the family, for that matter." "She's just a kid though. What if I hadn't stopped? I was so close to killing her, Vince." Violet pulled her legs up and hugged her knees, "Half my power comes from my emotions, but when I access them, I can't control them. How's that for fucked up? Plus, all the little ghost orbs that have been floatin' around lately have really started to piss me off." "Well you didn't kill her... Which already makes you better than me, besides my emotions affect my magic too so..." He trailed off, his expression going quizzical, "Ghost orbs?" "Yeah, y'know..." Violet laughed nervously at Vincent's confusion, "The little... orbs... y'know what I mean, Vincent." Violet growled with annoyance, her eyes locked on the spaghetti western. "Don't they just show up on camera?" Vincent asked, and gave a little shrug. "I've never seen orbs...actually that'd be so much more pleasant than the fucked up shit I see with the third eye." He stopped to smile a little, "Rachel she...she's tougher than she looks. Man she looked like a fucking amazon when I saw her back at the bar." "I like her white hair even if she doesn't..." Violet added quietly, then she looked over at her brother, "I'm goin' to hell when all this is over, Vince. I'll never do enough to square away my wrongdoings. Vael will see to that. I won't be strong enough, and..." Violet's eyes scrunched up as though she wanted to cry. "Hey..." Vincent put his hand on his sister's, "You're not her. And besides... Pretty sure the devil wouldn't know how to handle you." "Thanks Vince... that means a lot coming from you..." Violet tried to smile, and she saw a happiness in her brother's face, but she couldn't stop her peripheral vision from taking in the third person on the sofa. Sat on the other side of Vincent, a man in a brown trench coat with a square jaw and slicked-back blonde hair. He grinned at her, his eyes were so sharply in contrast. From the white of his eyes to the black of his pupil. Then he began to warp and stretch, taking up more and more of the room. His eyes seemed to fill the entire space, as his pupils shrank further and further until two tiny black dots were stranded in a sea of white, ever staring at her, unblinking. "I'll be alright..." She added, forcing a smile and turning to gaze at the television once more. "Hey, who's--" Rachel opened the door, rubbing her eyes. She saw Vincent and Violet sat on the sofa watching TV and groaned, "Ugh, can't you lower the volume a little, oh--" She saw the spaghetti western on TV and immediately walked over, considered the sofa for a moment but decided she didn't want to be sat by Violet. Instead, she sat on the floor and was content to watch TV quietly. "Aww..." Vincent said as he smiled warmly at Rachel sitting in the floor, then he turned to Violet, "You know I'm glad we got a pet." "Ssh! Quiet!" Rachel growled, "It's not like I get to watch TV every day, let me enjoy this!" Violet smirked at her and then shrugged at Vincent. Rachel had earned that much. It wasn't much, but any happiness, however fleeting, was worth pursuing. The three of them sat watching TV, Vincent and Rachel might have dozed off during the night, but when the early morning light shone in, they were all up and raring to go. Stretching to relieve the discomfort of being sat on a sofa all night, Violet stood up and went to walk away when something grabbed her by the wrist. She looked back, and once again, she saw the blonde-haired man with the scary eyes staring back at her with a grin, his hand wrapped around her arm like a vice. "Y'can say g'bye t'yer girlfriend on the way down..." "--Violet?" Rachel asked again, shaking her arm. Violet blinked and realised she was looking at Rachel. "What?" Violet asked, frowning. Rachel scowled at her. "You're not even listening! Vincent said it's time to go. Come on!" Rachel stormed off and Violet stood there in quiet disbelief for a moment. She had seen him all too often and it was becoming more and more frequent now. She could no longer ignore him and what's more she could hear him now. She knew who he was, but she couldn't bring herself to say his name. Maybe denying his existence was enough? "Alright so tell me class, what are the advantages of a little daytime ghost hunting?" Vincent asked as Violet entered the kitchen where everyone had gathered. When no one answered he answered for them, "No ghosts!" He said with a grin, "Ghosts can't come out in the light of day, something about the boundary between the mortal realm and the void being stronger at this time. Anyway...it means we can try and find these bastards while their spooky army is out of commission." "Hooray." Rachel said with a neutral tone of mock enthusiasm. "You know I swear when we decided to take you in you told me you wanted to smoke some bad guys, did I mishear you or something?" Vincent asked with a frown. "I want to kill monsters, not chase ghosts around like Scooby-Doo." Rachel retorted, picking up her tools and tying the bracelet around her wrist, "If you say we're hunting ghosts, fine. I don't care. That's part of my education? Then let's go." Violet sighed, "You don't have to like me, or listen to me, but you do have to listen to Vincent." Rachel scowled at her and Violet scowled right back, sticking her tongue out, "Like it or not, you have to listen to him, he'll save your life one day... I mean, a separate occasion, you know what I meant..." "We're after the assholes who stirred up the ghosts." Vincent explained, "People who want to ritually sacrifice large groups of innocent people in order to gain more power for themselves. Is that not monstrous enough for you?" "Can we go now?" Rachel asked, raising an eyebrow. "She's quite feisty." James piped up at last, prompting Jinx to add her piece. "If you don't all leave soon, I may just transport you to a pocket dimension and forget about you." Then Jinx waved with a smile, "Okay now, have fun out there!" "Right..." Violet shook her head at the familiar. "First we have to figure out where we're going." Vincent said, and then he held his hand up, pointing his finger out like a gun, and pointed it at Meredith, before making a clicking sound with his teeth. "So where to Mystic Meg?" "Uh..." Meredith looked around nervously. "How should I know?" "Well you foresaw all this right?" Vincent asked. "Yeah but my scrambled prescient dreams don't exactly come with google maps coordinates." Meredith replied with a frown. "It would be really useful," Violet replied, still in her cosmic birthday suit. Her hair waved around as though it had a life of it's own, or was suspended in water. She concentrated on herself and reformed her human outer shell, and her hair became human and the both striking yet familiar shade of blue. "Ugh, sometimes that's like pulling on a wet coat..." "Gross..." Rachel muttered loudly under her breath. Meredith huffed a little and then folded her arms, closing her eyes in concentration. She waited a moment in silence before her shoulder relaxed a little and she spoke again. "...there was...a lot of people...it's more like a feeling. Aggression...thirst for blood...lights flashing...a...a cage?" "Uh...I'm not liking the sound of that." Vincent said with a raised brow. "...a battle..." Meredith continued, "It's a battle...they're watching and cheering. All that aggression...it's so powerful..." She visibly shivered. "I can feel it..." Violet's voice echoed, Rachel looked over at her and the Hallow's eyes were glowing white. "The battle..." "Double gross. Vincent!" Rachel yelled, "I think your sister is getting a lady boner for all this fighting!" Violet snapped out of it and scowled, "What?!" She pointed at Rachel and considered issuing a threat, but thought better of it and instead crossed her arms and walked over to a nearby stool and sat upon it in silence, content now to no longer be part of the conversation. "T-mobile stadium, it's on the strip." Vincent said with a frankness in his tone. He held up his phone with a webpage open. "UFC match tonight between Domino Reeves and Clyde Walsh. Big room full of people feeling the same emotion. Tapping emotion is a little different, nobody is going to get hurt...but if you sacrifice lives the power becomes yours permanently. So this is the warm up, so he can stir up ghosts again and kill another crowd of people later." "So he's going to get the crowd worked up until they start killing each other?" Rachel asked. "Another possibility." Vincent said with a nod. "...In a place where fortunes are made and lost, the dead will rise to lay slaughter to the greedy, and the Sphinx will be the guardian of their tombs." Meredith said, her tone much more grave. "Wait, what?" Vincent asked, "I thought you said it was the fight?" "A fight, yes." Meredith said, as if she was in a trance, "There will be a great battle. A storm is brewing. The dead shall rise and....and...." She stammered and tears fell from her closed eyes, then she gasped and her eyes opened in shock. "Wh-what happened!?" She asked. "Super." Violet muttered, "I love a good prophecy. Because they always work out so well." "You've experienced prophecies before?" Rachel asked. Violet was taken aback for a moment, it was the first time since their scuffle that Rachel had asked her a direct question. Violet considered her for a moment, smiled and then nodded in confirmation. "What were they like?" Rachel asked again, genuinely interested. "Al told me a few." Violet replied, "To begin with, I would die and be born anew. Tick. I would become an agent of chaos. Tick. And there's one that hasn't happened yet, but I super love that one, so give it time, eh?" Violet mumbled off the last couple of words and Rachel frowned in frustration. "Well what's the one that hasn't come true?" Rachel pushed. "Uh, well, that I would destroy the world." Violet replied. The room was quiet for a few seconds. "'A' world, remember?" James chimed in. "What?" Violet frowned at him. "Al said, 'A' world. Not 'the' world." James smiled. "Hooray. I'm so relieved. That made me feel sooo much better, James. Thank you." "You're welcome." James replied, missing Violet's obvious sarcasm. "Wait--" Violet thought about what Meredith had said. "Tombs and Sphinxes, it makes me think of Egypt. But then you talk about fortunes made and lost... it's got to be that casino here, right? Y'know the one with the big Sphinx? What's it called..." "The Luxor Casino." Rachel provided the information. "Right!" Violet cheered excitedly, clapping her hands together. "Are you okay?" Vincent asked, as he put his hand on Meredith's shoulder. "Uh...y-yeah I think so." Meredith said, but she didn't look fine. "So it doesn't matter where we go...people are going to die." "...or we split up." Vincent suggested. "We barely survived together last time." Meredith said in protest. "Hey...Violet's an agent of chaos, remember?" Vincent said with a smirk. "We're prepared this time." He turned to Violet, "Right?" "I dunno. Maybe?" Violet shrugged and offered a consolation smile, "Agent of chaos, remember?" But she seemed to sober up at the same time. "Well... I suppose I have to remove doubt... Still, chaos, etc..." Violet muttered and walked outside. Rachel frowned but wanted to see what Violet was talking about and so followed her outside, then Vincent and everyone else followed suite. Violet walked out onto the main road of the cul de sac and lifted off from the ground. "Violet! What if someone sees you!" James called out. "It matters not!" She called back, commanding and authoritative. In an instant, she shed her human shell and just as quickly she flew up and hovered between the suspended power cables. "I don't think this is a good idea, Vi." James called out, shielding his eyes from the early morning sun. "No!" Violet called back, "Possibly not!" And with that she grabbed a power cable with each hand and sparks exploded and cracked. Several of the party dove for the ground as the power feeding into Violet spat out in little arcs of electricity. One hit a car and blew out the windows, setting the alarm off. Another stuck a nearby roof, charring the tiles. Violet glowed so brightly that it was difficult to look directly at her. Then all the power in the street went out. Seconds passed until the silence was broken by Rachel as she held her phone up. "So, yeah, power just went out across half of Las Vegas for several minutes... Car crashes, downed hospital equipment... Chaos..." "But I am no longer starving..." Violet replied, her voice echoing as she lowered to the ground and cloaked herself in her human shell. "And so, I will not lose control..." "Super." Jinx snarled, "Now will all of you leave!" "Yeah for once I think I agree with the demon." Vincent said with a smirk, "Alright, youngest sibling gets the first pick." He said and indicated to Meredith and then Rachel, "Pick a sidekick and a venue, I'll take the sloppy seconds." "Then I will--" Violet stepped forwards but as she did so Rachel scoffed and walked up to Vincent. "As if!" Rachel growled, crossing her arms in defiance. "Alright." Violet nodded, "That's fine, I am happy to accompany Meredith, if you'll have me?" "Uh..." Meredith looked a little hesitant, "I suppose." "Take the fight at the stadium." Vincent suggested, "At least the threats there will be physical, so you should be safe enough." "The ghosts weren't the ones who hurt me last time." Meredith said. "Yeah well you lured us there thinking I'd die to save the rest of the people in the room." Vincent said with a dark scowl, "Nobody is perfect. Now get in the fucking car before it's dark out again."
  27. Hallows

    The hours passed by and Vincent and Rachel busied themselves with preparations. The kitchen had lost the Christmassy smell of cinnamon and in it’s place was an amalgum of exotic, overpowering smells. Jinx had, at one point, wordlessly came in to take whatever the hell it was she had been baking out of the oven and then retreated once more. Vincent, for his part, didn’t pay her any notice. He already liked her better than James, but that wasn’t to say he liked her much at all. His general disdain for demons wasn’t something he could shrug off, but at least Jinx wasn’t quite so annoying as James. While he continued to guide Rachel through making the correct potions, he had went out to the car and came back with a few supplies. He was in the middle of, apparently, making some sort of friendship bracelet with several dull threads. “How’s the consistency?” He asked Rachel as he tied off the bracelet and placed it in a circle of salt he had marked out on the counter. He flexed his fingers towards it and there was a gentle thrum of energy as he closed the circle around the accessory. "The...consistency...?" Rachel stared into the pot and stirred it's contents. "I dunno... Lumpy." Vincent leaned over and examined the contents. “Keep stirring.” He said, “Let me know when it sort of gets like cookie dough.” He didn’t require a lot of concentration for the enchantment he was working. Honestly it was the kind of thing he could do in his sleep at this point, but it’s importance meant he wasn’t prepared to let Rachel try her hand at it. She was doing a fairly good job with the potions though, despite not seeming very enthused. She’d had a rough night, something he knew a little about. She might not appreciate it now, but he knew that busywork was great during these times. Vincent was just starting to think about how hungry he was, and was contemplating ordering take out when Meredith popped her head into the kitchen, she looked tired and more than a little nervous. “Can I have duck pancakes?” She asked "Uh…how-“ He cut himself off, “Nevermind.” He caught Rachel’s eye, “What about you, grasshoppa? Want some grub?” He asked in a mildly offensive oriental accent. "Yeah. Fine." Rachel muttered, her eyes locked on the pot. "Are we ordering out because I could really destroy some egg rolls right now--" James walked into the kitchen, quickly flanked by Violet. "--not over! I was speaking to you!!" Violet growled as she chased after James. "What do you want me to say? I sensed your heightened emotional state, I turned up, I saved the day." "I don't need you to rescue me!" Violet walked over to the concoction Vincent was brewing and glanced inside, "Faster." She added. Rachel begrudgingly started stirring faster. "It's my job. Remember? You summoned me. Now I'm stuck here. Even if I want to live my own life, I can't stop myself from interfering with yours. That's what you asked for when you summoned me, so..." "There are too many people in here." Jinx chimed in, her tone a mixture of neutral apathy and yet disdain. "All of you. Get out of my kitchen." She started with shoving James out, "And I'm making food and you're going to order in?" Her eyes flashed from yellow to red, "That's so thoughtless." “Well you’ve been walking around with a stick up your ass and shit under your nose since we got here so I didn’t dare assume you might feed us.” Vincent said, rolling his eyes. He made a final flourish with his hand and there was a pop and hiss, as the small bracelet in the circle seemed to smoke, the fibers burning as ancient runes were etched into the material. He inspected his work for a moment, before finally breaking the circle of salt with his finger and removing the bracelet. He handed it to Rachel. “Here, this is for you.” He said. "Dude-- friendship bracelet...?" Rachel took the bracelet between her thumb and forefinger and held it at arms length as though it might be diseased. Violet left the kitchen willingly as she was still mid-conversation with James. "Now go sit down like normal, grateful, well-adjusted people, and I'll put food out for you." Jinx crossed her arms with impatient expectation. Somebody said something to her in the next room. "Nobody's having egg rolls!" She yelled back. Then looked back to Vincent and Rachel. “It’s a dead man’s talisman.” Vincent said, “I know it looks like shit but that’s made from fibers of burial clothing. Do you know how hard it is to get corpse threads? I mean it’s not like grave robbing is legal.” He shoved Rachel out of the way gently and began finishing up the potion, noting Jinx’s penetrating stare. He also noticed Rachel’s look of disgust. “Look, that thing will 100 percent protect you from possession, and any ghost that tries to phase through you like earlier will burn up and fade back to the Void.” He turned off the gas to the hob and picked up the pot, stirring the contents out into an awaiting beaker. It looked like a glass full of thick, wet mud, and smelled like something far worse. “And this is well let you see them.” He said, pointing to the mud, “And that will let you hurt them.” He said, pointing to several jars of what looked like grainy dust. "Okay! Fine. Enough already." Rachel slipped the bracelet on and walked through into the main living room. James had cleared some space at the table and everyone was settling in. Vincent rolled his eyes and began clearing up. “Ungrateful little snot…” He muttered as he put the pots and empty beakers into the sink. A foggy memory of his old mentor making similar mutterings caused him to smirk. After he had cleared up he made his way in to the living room again and sat down with a heavy sigh. “Hey Jimbo!” He said to James, “You got anything to drink?” he asked, “Also can I smoke in here or…?” He thumbed to the door leading outside. "Sure. Drinks in the cabinet over there. And you can smoke in here." James nodded as he picked up his knife and fork. "No he can't!" Jinx called through from the kitchen as Rachel took a seat at the table. "It's fine." James reassured Vincent, though he couldn't help but notice that James did so under his breath. A few minutes later Jinx walked in holding a large Pyrex dish full of homemade lasagne. She put the dish down and as she passed Vincent she pulled the barely-lit cigarette from his mouth. "Hah!" Violet laughed as she reached for the serving spoon but dropped it immediately when Jinx hissed at her. A few minutes later, Jinx had served everyone a portion and sat down herself. There was silence, stillness. Then Jinx ate her first bite and everyone cautiously followed suite. Then everyone was back to talking amongst themselves once more. “Now here was me thinking you were a sorry excuse for a wizard, Vi” Vincent said as he sat back down from his trip to the cabinet with a small, tulip-shaped glass only barely filled with amber liquid. “And until this day I thought I was right, but it appears I was mistaken. All those years ago when you summoned a familiar, you could have got yourself a dog familiar, and then I’d be sitting here with a miller light like a college frat dudebro. But…” He tipped the glass at James, “Cats apparently have a taste for the finer things.” He took a sip of the whisky and let it swirl in his mouth, before swallowing and relishing the delicious warmth that spread through him. Then he poked at the lasagne with a fork. “That’s a lot of cheese…” He said foolishly, “Is your game to slowly kill us via myocardial infarction?” "It's hard milk." James mumbled between mouthfuls, as he hungrily devoured his plate. "Maybe." Jinx replied directly to Vincent, raising a brow with a conspiratorial inflection. "Thank you, Jinx!" Rachel added, eating the food unreservedly. "Protection from otherworldly forces... Nothing." Violet smirked, "Cooked pasta though..." Rachel shot her an angry glare but it seemed regret was a fleeting emotion for Violet. The chatter was cut short by cutlery hitting a plate. Everyone turned to Meredith, who was staring back at them with an incredulous look. “Look…I’ve tried to go with this but…are you all insane!?” “Ugh, I wish.” Vincent replied. “We just got attacked by ghosts! Then she-“ Meredith pointed at Violet for emphasis, “nearly killed me and Rachel, and now we’re in a house eating lasagne cooked by demons!? This is…it’s nuts! How are you all okay with this!?” "It's fun, isn't it?!" James smiled as he finished licking his plate clean. "Get used to it." Rachel grumbled, pushing food around her plate. Violet had long-since finished her lasagne and perked up at Meredith's frustration, "Everyone has to live, Meredith. Humans, demons, cosmic entities. We're all just trying to get through life. Don't get hung up on it." “Yeah, except we’re going to die. Soon. Or did you forget?” Meredith said, “Also its 3am and you’re all sitting eating dinner like this is a normal thing to do! It’s not normal…” Her voice broke a little and she shut her eyes to stop the tears but they formed anyway, “I thought…I thought at least if I died, if I could save everyone else in the process but…” She took a deep breath, “This is too much. I can’t act normal and pretend nothing is wrong. I…I don’t want to die.” "Shut... Up!" Violet snapped. "We're all thinking the same thing, but most of us need to recharge. Joking and pressing buttons helps to make you feel normal. We can't just sit here thinking about what's coming." "She has a point." James added quietly, "Bit harsh though... She's scary." "Can I just eat in peace?" Rachel piped up. Meredith didn’t respond, instead she bit her lip, and then she pushed back her chair and stormed off from the table. A moment later the front door to the house opened and then slammed shut again. “When did I become the well-adjusted one?” Vincent asked with a sigh. He stood up from the table and as he passed by Jinx he snatched the cigarette she had taken from him and headed for the door. “You know you could be nicer to her, if only because her visions are about the only thing that will stop us from meeting the reaper anytime soon. Hell I already met the bitch, and damn if she wasn’t smokin’ hot.” "Uh-huh." Violet grumbled. "I was being nice." She turned around to face Vincent and smirked, "Oh can I have a drag?!" Violet asked excitedly, then she inhaled rapidly. Vincent's cigarette alighted in his hand and burned through to the filter, leaving an ashen corpse. Then she exhaled a large smoke cloud that quickly formed into a skull before dispersing. As the smoke cleared, Violet's expression wasn't gleeful defiance, as Vincent had come to expect, but profound confusion. The confusion spread and warped into a nervous panic. "Vincent...?" She asked, raising her tone. Vincent scowled at her and then retrieved a fresh cigarette from his carton. “You’re so childish…” He grumbled as he stepped out of the house. --- --- --- --- When he got outside Vincent spotted Meredith stalking off down the path. He sighed and lit his cigarette and began a slow stroll after her. “Yo!” He called, and she stopped and turned to him. Her face reddened and she toyed with continuing to storm off, but in the end she waited for Vincent to reach her. “Sorry about them, well not the demons, I don’t give a shit about them. Violet and I, and Rachel to a much lesser extent, have been facing imminent danger on and off our whole lives. You really have to forgive a little dysfunction.” “Dysfunction?” Meredith replied with a raised brow. “You people are crazy, and I should know, I’ve been called crazy my whole life.” “Yeah no surprises there.” Vincent said as he took a drag, a moment later his nostrils flared and smoke plumed out of them, “All mortals are just a little bit magic, just a tiny bit-“ he indicated by holding up his finger and thumb, “Most of them have just enough ability to sense real magic. Generally they don’t react very well. It’s easier to believe you’re crazy than that you can actually see the future.” “…It would be easier if I was crazy.” Meredith grumbled. “That’s what I said earlier!” Vincent said with a shrug, “Look I know you’ve had it rough, but you’re not the only one. My mentor…well he was a real hard ass. Imagine spending all morning and afternoon at high school, and when the other kids go home to watch tv, do drugs and have sex with each other like teenagers should be doing, you’re going to the magical school of hard knocks for night classes.” “Wow…you’ve really been doing this for that long?” Meredith asked. “I mean…I knew there were others like me but…you guys are on another level.” “Yeah, well…I had the benefit of training.” Vincent explained. Thinking about his childhood was bringing back some old, buried feelings of anxiety. “…it was tough. Necessary though.” “You think? You should let a kid be a kid if you ask me.” Meredith replied. “Evidence to the contrary.” Vincent said, thumbing at his chest. “I ran away from home at 16. Used the very spells he taught me to cover my tracks. Minor transmogrification to make me look older, turning plain paper into cash, fake I.D. It was stupidly easy.” “Don’t you think you did that because you never got to live though?” Meredith asked “Maybe, but it doesn’t matter.” Vincent said, “I thought my teacher was just being a crusty old fart. I was wrong. He taught me how to do magic the hard way, because taking the easy way doesn’t end well.” “What? So you commited a few crimes, played bad boy for a bit. You don’t seem to be suffering too much for it.” Her smirk changed to a mixture of shock and guilt as she noticed Vincent’s reaction. He held his hand over his heart almost like a strange impulse, and his grip tensed. Thinking about the coldness there only brought it surging to the forefront of his mind. It was a small thing, but it was something that would never fade. A cold, greasy pool of energy within him, one just like the magic that had been used to enthrall the ghosts earlier. “What I do is difficult, and it has a lot of rules.” Vincent said slowly, carefully, his gaze fixed on something far off in the distance. “I don’t have to follow those rules though. For a time I didn’t.” “I don’t think a little counterfeiting and fraud makes you Lord Voldemort.” Meredith said with a raised brow. “I killed someone.” Vincent said, and there was a hard coldness to his voice, “And I don’t mean a bad guy, not that it matters.” “You…you’re a hunter. You’ve killed lot’s of things, right?” “Lot’s of things, yes.” Vincent took another draw of his cigarette and his hand was shaking, “The thing about supernatural creatures is…they don’t have souls. It doesn’t always mean they are bad, or that they can’t think and feel. It’s just a rule. Humans have souls…they have mortality, and true free will. Our magic is different…it’s not as strong as that of a god or immortal fay queen or whatever else, but what we can do, we do with absolute freedom…and absolute consequence.” He turned and looked at Meredith, staring deep in to her eyes. “When you kill a mortal with magic, it leaves a kind of…stain.” He rubbed at the spot on his chest where his heart was again, “Magic comes from the energies of life, and using it to take a life is just…it feels wrong.” He took his hand from his chest and held it up between them, and with his will he lit the ends of each of his fingers on fire, but he didn’t feel any pain. “It turns out that us Hallows…we have an unusual talent for magic. I can do so much with relative ease, I have a well of power within me that’s a lot higher than most. Enough to impress the wrong kind of people. I met people I thought were just like me, who understood me better than my teacher or my sister ever could. And then one day even my own vast well wasn’t enough…and I took a life, sacrificed an innocent person, and from them I took power. That cold, disgusting power…I can feel it there all the time, a constant reminder.” “I…” Meredith looked stunned, her mouth moved but no words came out. “I don’t advertise that information, but I don’t hide it either.” Vincent said with a resoluteness about him. “The people we are up against. They’ve tasted that same dark power, and clearly they like it enough to want more. So even if I do die, I will stop them.” The words surprised Vincent. He had spent years avoiding this life, the life he had been practically groomed for. Yet now, suddenly, he felt this righteous need to join the cause. “What happened?” Meredith asked, “I mean…you said you went dark but…you’re not now, right?” “I was saved.” Vincent said with a smirk. “By your teacher?” Meredith asked. “By God.” Vincent said, “Sort of ironic really since I’m a filthy pagan warlock.” “God? You mean…?” “He sent a man to save me.” Vincent said, “And then that man brought me home. And then Al tore me a new one. I thought he’d been hard on me before…” “Sounds like a real piece of work.” Meredith said. “That man is more of a father to me than my own ever was.” Vincent said with a slight anger to his tone. “No one has ever had me so figured out, no one has ever helped me quite like him.” “Not even Violet?” Meredith asked. “She’s my younger sister, I’m supposed to help her out. That’s just the way of things. Although I suppose this time she’s the one helping me. I brought them along on this detour.” “…and I brought you.” Meredith said. “…so I’ll stick with you…until the end.” Vincent smirked and took a last draw of his cigarette before flicking it away. He took a scrap of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Meredith. “What’s that?” She asked as she opened it. “My phone number.” Vincent said with a smirk. “Y’know I wonder what would happen if I never gave you it? Like your vision of the future doesn’t come to pass so how did you get the number because I never give you it and suddenly it’s a paradox, so does the world unravel and we all cease to exist?” “Um…” Meredith looked a little panicked. “Damn I already gave you my number though…guess we’ll never know.”
  1. Load more activity