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  1. Earlier
  2. 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?”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. ...and it made me frown

    It is very sad indeed.
  8. "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.
  9. 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.."
  10. ...and it made me frown

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

    Surreality is dead. Q.Q I see only two roleplays relatively recent, and nothing in these OOC threads.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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'.
  18. WOW, nice drawing. That inspired me a lot. طراحی وب سایت
  19. 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."
  20. 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.”
  21. The future is ours.. isn't it?

    Logan gathered all the information he could, and took meticulous notes. At the end of his investigation, he turned to the small group of worried individuals, and assured them that he would be in touch as soon as possible with updates on his findings. However, his assurance did little to ease the worry that Steal's friends were all feeling. He was glumly thanked for his time. He was fussing with the sleeves of his coat and preparing to leave the club when a tall, blonde, one-eyed gentleman--Yusai--approached him, extending his hand with an item and telling Logan to take it, if he needed. "It was found outside in the alleyway," Yusai explained, "It's something Steal would never go without. I don't know if it'll help, but..." Logan paused, one arm sleeved, and took the bracelet from Yusai's hands. "Thanks, I'll check it for prints," Was all Logan could think to say, although he knew that the item was sentimental, and the gentleman handing it to him did so with some reluctance. With his business there officially complete for the night, Logan sleeved his other arm, and exited the club. The night ended with tense quiet, with everyone parting ways after Otto closed the club. Nobody bothered saying "goodnight" to one another, perhaps because they all knew they were harboring worry and the gesture would feel hollow. Yusai had exited the building with an angry stride, his brows knotted, jaw tense, and lips pinched together in a fine line. The frustration in his expression was immediately betrayed by the tremble of his hands as he fussed with his keys to unlock his car. Yusai didn’t even remember the drive home. It was as if he had just blinked and suddenly he was standing alone in his apartment, numbly aware of his surroundings. If it weren’t for the beckoning yowl of the cat, Yusai might not have moved away from the entryway at all. Prince bobbed up to his legs and began his usual ritual of circling around Yusai’s ankles, which Yusai took as a gesture to trip him up until Steal would intervene by picking Prince up and out of the way, gently chastising him for his misbehavior. Only Steal wasn’t here tonight. Yusai didn’t know where he was and thinking about it made him sick to his stomach. Not knowing if Steal was safe made him feel even worse. Every awful and negative possibility just swirled in his brain and pulled his deep into a whirlpool of misery and it seemed hopeless to try and pull himself out of it. He walked to his bedroom and sat at the foot of the mattress, doing so out of habit because he’d then start peeling off his shoes. But instead he just sat and stared ahead of him, mind racing and stomach sinking. The clock behind him beamed “1:45 a.m.” The night felt impossibly long. Prince bounded in and hopped up onto the bed, sniffing around where Steal had been sleeping and perhaps wondered where his night companion was. He trilled curiously a few times, came up beside Yusai and wormed his way onto his lap where he trilled some more. Yusai looked down at him, briefly snapped out of his worried daze. He pet Prince, a gesture the cat welcomed (as he always did) and returned with double affection. He stood on his rear legs and propped his paws against Yusai’s chest, then pressed his forehead against Yusai’s chin. Yusai simply sighed and rather than tease and antagonize the cat in return (as he usually did) he wrapped his arms around the feline and cuddled him. “Oi… He’ll be back… I promise, Prince.” Yusai mumbled, pressing his chin against the cat’s head first, then kissing it. He then lay down on the bed, Prince squirming a little to free himself from Yusai’s grip, and scuttled to Steal’s bed spot. Yusai looked up-side-down at him, and turned over. Prince plopped himself down and curled into a half-ball, similar to how Steal would sometimes, and yawned. Something about watching the cat get comfy tugged at Yusai, and he crawled up onto the bed fully, positioned himself against Prince’s back, and cuddled with him until he eventually fell asleep. ** Yusai was awoken by a strange tickling sensation on his rear-end. Groggily he reached beyond himself and pat at his butt, bleakly realizing that the sensation was his phone vibrating with a call. He stuffed his hand into his pocket, yanked it out, and with his eye half-slit open, he tried to read the caller ID. It was a number he didn’t recognize. He answered anyway. “H… Hello?” He stammered heavily, followed by a waking groan. “Mister Perupe—This is the detective. Logan. Did I call you at a bad time?” Yusai immediately jolted and was alert. “Oi, no sir! Did you find anything? What were you able to find out?” He was quick to pour out questions although it was obvious that even though he was awake, he was not fully cognizant yet. “Well, it’s kind of a long and funny story,” Logan began, he himself not being able to articulate a sentence right. If Yusai could read his tone better, he would’ve guessed that Logan had stayed up as late as he had and was tired this morning, too. “I won’t bore you with too many details, but, I’ve actually run into this kid and well, long story short, I think I know where he might be. Can you meet with me so I can give you some details? I’ll be down at The Coffee Corner in an hour.” ** Yusai had hurried down to the café, donning the clothes he had fallen asleep in the previous night with his jacket half-zippered over everything, and his blonde, unkempt hair lazily hidden under a well-worn and goofy beanie that read “G’DAY” that Steal had gotten him as a little joke two years ago, all despite having an hour to get ready. When he entered, his eye had keenly spotted detective Logan, who was seated at a table sipping from a coffee mug and gently leafing through some papers in front of him. Yusai approached and greeted the man. “Mister Perupe‘,” Logan responded, pulling out a chair beside him. “Thanks for coming down on short notice, I didn’t want to keep you waiting if I didn’t have to.” “No no, thank you for um,” Yusai shifted into the seat ran his hand over his head, yanking off the beanie for a moment to scratch through his hair before sloppily shirking the garment back on. “For uh, you know. Doing your stuff and giving me an update so quickly. What’d you find out?” Logan picked through his papers and yanked out one of the sheets that had some sporatic notes written all over it. “Let me tell you a short story—A few weeks ago, I happened to be coming out of this shop and saw a car doing some bizarre circles around the area. I don’t think I need to tell you how bizarre a phenomena like this is in this particular part of Brooklyn…” Logan said, his steely eyes shooting up at Yusai in a knowing fashion, to which the Aussie nodded in response. “… Anyhow,” he continued, “It just happened that I took note of the plates on this car, and well… When you mentioned Steven’s last name, Masters? It rang some bells. I did some research, and found out that he’s the Master’s son—of Master Banking. If you’ll look over some of those notes, I was able to find out some other things…” Logan pushed his small stack of papers over to Yusai, who looked down at them curiously but confused. The detective began explaining some details—Steal, son of Allan and Lauren Masters, reportedly a sickly child that was kept out of the public eye for most of his life. Not many other details about his upbringing otherwise. Allan and Lauren, however, had some unscrupulous histories—Lauren having been tried in court for embezzlement, and Allan having quite an extensive criminal history for “domestic disputes” that were settled in uncertain terms. None of these details particularly mattered to Yusai, but he listened with anticipation, waiting to hear how this tied to Steal’s whereabouts. “I have a suspicion he might be with his parents,” Logan said while he ran his hand over his dull, brown stubble. “Going by a few police reports from before he turned 18, they’ve been trying to keep him under house arrest for whatever reason. I suspect they’ve been keeping an eye on him from a distance and finally made a move to bring him back home after he came up on the news last month.” Yusai’s wide, tired eye spoke little of his bafflement in hearing all of this. He wasn’t sure how to absorb this information but it brought him a slight comfort to think he was somewhere safe—relatively—versus being alone out on the streets somewhere. But what now? He pondered. He knew Steal’s relationship with his family wasn’t the greatest but this was a complicated matter to tackle. It wasn’t as if he could approach Steals parents and ask for his roommate back… Or could he? “So, what… What can I do? Do I call the police and file a missing persons report or…” Yusai’s question trailed. He wasn’t even sure what to ask but he knew he wanted—needed—to do something. Logan sighed into a low hum, apparently thinking to himself as well. “Well… Like I said, this is just a suspicion. I could be entirely wrong about his whereabouts for the time being, but what I can do is give the Master’s estate a scout. It’s about an hour up north from the city, a little near Albany. I can—“ “Can I come with you?” Yusai interrupted. Logan was taken aback by the question but in examining the Aussie’s face, he could see that he was desperate for answers. “I… Suppose you could,” Logan responded after a moments pause. “Although I don’t want to take up any of your time.” Yusai shook his head. “S’not taking up my time at all. If you’ll let me go with you, I’d appreciate it. I just… Need to know where he is.” Yusai said, and his tone suggested more than just concern; there was a tenderness there that Logan picked up on but put aside mentally for the time being. “Alright then. Let me gather some things and I’ll lead the way.” Logan stated, and they both stood from their chairs and proceeded along their way. However, just as Yusai was leaving the café, a familiar face bumped into him at the exit, and suddenly he was bewildered and cross at once; It was Lance, looking as anxious and tired as Yusai. Lance looked at Yusai pleadingly, his expression already asking the question that left his mouth seconds later: “Did you find anything out about Steal?” Yusai couldn’t lie to him, but he answered in a strained fashion and was eager to be away from this guy and on his way to Steal’s place. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that after explaining his potential whereabouts, Lance had asked to tag along. All of Yusai wanted to say “HELL NO” in response but the words never came out. And before he knew it, the three of them had set out toward the Masters estate.
  22. Hallows

    She stirred a clear drink using an olive on a cocktail stick. Counter-clockwise. Nothing seemed to move in the room but her. Then she looked over at Vincent, and smiled. He stood up, and slowly moved through the room. He could have been moving through treacle for how long it seemed to take him to reach the bar. Yet everything else was frozen. As Vincent reached the bar, she took a pale hand, touched a glass and moved it closer to the edge of the bar, implying he should take it. The glass was full of an amber liquid. Vincent silently eyed the girl, and then the glass with suspicion. For now his suffering was gone, and he felt, well, he felt strange. It was as if there was a pressure around his body like he was being wrapped in saran wrap. However it wasn't unpleasant, especially compared to the feeling of choking on an ice cold ghost paw. He resisted his morbid urge to turn back to where he had been a moment ago, but something told him he wouldn't like what he'd see. Instead he picked up the glass and sniffed it's contents. "Single malt..." He whispered, and then he shot a glance at the woman and put the glass down without drinking. "Who are you?" He asked with a frown. "You know who I am." She picked up her glass, took a sip and then put it back in it's place. "That's not the question you want to ask." "A lot of gods of death to choose from there..." Vincent replied, "Not a lot of them look like you, Maybe I'd have a better idea if you had a cloak and carried a sickle or something." "Maybe, Vincent." She replied, a wry smile on her face as she reached for the olive in her glass, "Maybe..." She continued, pulling the olive from the toothpick, "... I just like to dress up." Her eyes were wild with excitement as she teased him. She dropped the bare toothpick back in her glass and sighed. "So, let's cut the shit." Vincent said, and he leant one arm against the bar, "Either your some trickster being here to offer me a shady bargain, or you are death, the actual, literal personification of the end of all things, in which case I'm fucked. So, which is it?" She smirked, picked up her glass and toasted him, then finished it's contents. Then the glass vanished in her hand and she looked back across the room. "Why don't you look over there?" She suggested, while Vincent's eyes seemed glued to anything mundane on the counter. "Because I think I have enough nightmare fuel in my brain already, thanks." Vincent said, "I don't want to add seeing my own corpse to that list." "Why are mortals so afraid of their own mortality. You were given this exquisite gift and you're terrified of it!" She sat there musing to herself, "Would you trust Death?" "As a concept or...?" He asked but quickly followed with his honest answer, "People who think Death is a deceiver are the people who do this," He gestured around the room at the suspended ghosts. "What possible need could Death have for lies?" "Honest to a fault." She smirked with a sadness to it, then she let out another sigh and nodded to the room, "You are dying, Vincent. Your sister will soon be dead. Rachel will soon be dead. Everyone comes to me, in the end." She stood up from the bar, as the patrons slowly began to reanimate as though time was taking back control. "Dying? So I'm not... dead." He turned, finally, to the scene. His body lay on the floor, still choking, his face going red. Violet was already springing in to action, Rachel looked panicked, and Meredith petrified. "...that's a bit risky, isn't it?" He asked, "I'm not dead yet, so stop talking like it's a done thing." "But it is..." She replied, "You are just alive at this moment." She could see the anger, frustration and urgency on Vincent's face and it seemed to amuse her. "If you come with me, I will take you on..." She took a step back, and offered him her hand with a welcoming smile. "Stay here, and there will be pain..." Vincent actually chuckled at her. "Maybe I take it back. After all, a faerie can tell no lies, but they're the most deceptive assholes going. You can jog on, lady. You know what pain means? That I'm alive." A smile spread across her face. She loved his defiance. And it took so little to stoke it. She raised her hand to the room with an implied, 'Well go on then?' and watched as the entire room snapped back into time. Chaos ruled. Violet and Rachel were fighting for their lives in a losing battle. A ghost flew through Violet's back and she gasped and collapsed to the floor. Vincent's pain washed back over him like a forest fire. Nerve endings fired like pistons all over his body, the cold, throbbing burn that coursed through his body from the ghost's touch. He reached for that pain, and he clung to it tightly. He welcomed it inside and then he harnessed it so that he could point it wherever he wanted. The ghost recoiled as Vincent, his third eye open, sent his will crashing into it, into each and every ghost in the room. He could not hurt them physically, but he wasn't trying to. These ghosts were breaking all the rules right now, which meant that some slimy sorcerer was enthralling them and asserting his will with a ritual. The ghosts were essentially puppets, and so Vincent just followed the strings. Channelled through the ghosts he reached out with his mind and delivered the psychic equivalent of a backhand to the one who controlled them. He felt a sudden sensation of shock, then realisation, and then anger. It had been enough to break the perpetrator's concentration and shatter the spell. Suddenly the ghosts wailed in what was either pain or perhaps relief, and they surged upwards through walls, flying off into the night with howls and shrieks. Vincent sat up as he was released and began coughing and gasping for air, each cold breath felt like he was inhaling knives. Slowly, Violet lifted her head. She felt dizzy, almost drunk. Glowing orbs dashed in and out of her vision. Instinctively, she swatted at them and they disappeared. Pulling herself to her feet took a great deal of effort. Her limbs felt heavy. She rattled across the ground and collapsed beside Vincent. "I thought i'd lost you..." Violet muttered, leaning over and trying to regain herself. "Me?... Nah." Vincent rasped between gasps of breath. He slowly got to his feet and looked around the room. Other people were crying and gasping for breath, but no one appeared to have any serious injuries beyond that. "I can't... breathe..." Rachel pressed herself up against the underside of a table. Violet heard her rattling muted voice throughout the chaos and somehow, she found the strength to stand back up and walk over to the young girl. Sitting down beside her, Violet put one hand on her shoulder and reassured her. "It's alright. It's over now." Violet took a deep breath and let it out - a curious calming mechanism as she didn't technically need to breathe in order to exist. But, she wasn't about to get bogged down in the existential thoughts of a cosmic energy being. Instead, she did what came naturally to her. She got angry. Real angry. The realisation that they had been brought here, that it was a trap and that Meredith, who now stood before them, had to have had a hand in it, drove Violet over the edge. She stood, but this time, her fatigue was gone. Lights flickered out in the bar as she lifted from the ground, her human form was blasted away in an instant and she floated before Meredith with a rage burning in her heart like she couldn't control. "I-I--" Meredith tried to speak. "Just dont--" Violet held her hands up and from them exploded a beam of magical energy that struck Meredith in the chest and set her flying back, smashing through tables and knocking chairs asunder until she came to a rest at the edge of the bar. The white of Violet's eyes shone brightly through the twilight of the bar as more and more lights snuffed out. "I don't feel very good..." Rachel muttered, "I feel like..." Realisation dawned on Rachel's face and she glanced at Violet before scrambling across the floor to Vincent, "Does Violet even have control of her powers?! I feel like something is consuming me from the inside out!!" She grabbed hold of Vincent's arm, "Vincent!" "Most of the time..." Vincent admitted, and then he fumbled on the floor for his cane. The screaming started as the other patrons got a look at Violet. "Violet!" Vincent yelled over the screaming, "...you need to calm down." "Don't tell me to calm down!" Violet growled back at her brother, her eyes still fixed on Meredith. "You nearly killed my brother!!" She roared, then held out one hand and directed her essence into Meredith. The girl choked as she tried to get back up and collapsed back to the floor with a surprised look etched on her face. The surprise turned to horror, and she began to age. Her hair turned white, and her skin began to grey. "Stop it!" Vincent roared back at her. His grip tightened around his cane. "No..." Violet snarled. Meredith coiled in on her stomach, groaning as the life was drawn from her. "Stop it, Violet!!" Rachel yelled at the top of her lungs. No reaction. She had to stop her. Rachel grabbed the nearest object - an empty bottle of wine - and threw it with all her force, "Stop it!!" She yelled again, watching as the bottle arced through the air, then finally, it struck Violet in the back and shattered, disintegrating into nothing. "I said... NO!!" Violet screamed as she reflexively turned on her attacker and fired a deadly blast. Pain... not death... The voice seemed to linger in Vincent's mind while the blast of solid energy arced through the air. Rachel recoiled as the blast struck her, but the attack was cut short. Violet was knocked to the ground by something enormous. It was as black as night, as large as a tiger, but as svelte as a cheetah. The creature growled and it was like rumbling thunder. It's ears pricked at the tiniest motion of sound and while still stood over Violet, its ferocious eyes focused on Vincent and the cane in his hands. "What the fuck are you looking at, kitty cat?" Vincent taunted, and kept his staff pointed threateningly. "Get the fuck away from my sister." The creature considered Vincent for a short while then he arched up and sat down on his hind quarters, his tail swishing back and forth in irritation. "Now... Put. That. Away." It was not a request. The creature waited, watching Vincent with suspicion. "Nah, I'm good." Vincent replied, a daring glint in his eyes. His gaze turned back to Violet, "Get up!" He snapped at her, "Fix her. Now." "I-I..." Violet pulled herself up and looked around. The chaos and destruction she had left in her wake had been immense. Broken glass scattered everywhere, chairs and tables broken and overturned, the patrons scattered and the bar cast in green and red twilight by the one remaining light of a neon beer sign. "W-What did I...?" "Fix her." The creature repeated Vincent's words. "W-what...?" Violet muttered, but she took heed of their demands and while still in a fog, she sat beside Meredith and placed a hand on her shoulder. She had drawn the essence from her body and now she had to return it. It was a painful experience. Not unlike setting yourself on fire. She was a being that fed on energy. She did not return it. Violet squirmed in pain as the last of Meredith's energy was returned and the girl brightened up, her hair and skin returned to normal, though she looked fatigued. "Now her." The creature nodded at Rachel and Violet's face dropped. She saw Rachel doubled over in pain, clutching the centre of her torso. A hole had been blown in her clothes and Violet could clearly see Rachel's burnt, smoking midriff. The girl was in agony. Violet darted to the young girl and helped her sit upright, then she began to channel her essence into the wound but as soon as she started, she knew she couldn't take it back. Not entirely. The wound healed, but so too did it scar. When Violet had finished, she saw the scar was almost like a sunflower. White petals dashing out in every direction with a darker centre mass of damaged tissue. She looked up and saw that Rachel's hair had turned as white as snow. Then, as the pain subsided, Rachel roused herself and the moment she saw Violet she recoiled and scrambled to her feet. "What just happened?!" Rachel screeched, fleeing to Vincent's side and clinging onto him. Violet stood up and sighed, her eyes wandering over everything a second time. "We need to go." Vincent said after a long silence. There were conversations to be had, but right now there were witnesses, and he could hear sirens blaring in the distance. He turned to the creature. "You're a little big to fit in the car so..." The creature took Vincent's words to heart. Upon standing, it leapt at Vincent, and while arcing through the air it landed not as a creature but as a man. He was tall, thin as a rake, with tan skin, yellow eyes and short, thick black hair slicked back out of his face. "I agree." He replied, then as he turned back something grabbed hold of him and he smirked. "Violet..." He looked down and saw a tuft of blue hair while she clutched onto him, and by the time she let go, he saw she was human once more. At least, on the surface. "We do have to go though. Now." He patted her on the shoulder and then encouraged her to go. Then he grabbed Meredith and Rachel and helped them both outside. Vincent, Rachel, Meredith, Violet and the strange man all piled into Violet's car. However, it was the stranger in the driver's seat. "You can hide at my place." He said, and started the car. Before they knew it, they were driving down the road. They heard sirens in the distance. So much had happened that the passengers sat in silence, trying to come to terms with everything. It wasn't until the man pulled into a short driveway that they were roused from their thoughts. Violet saw a small house, on the corner of a cul-de-sac. It seemed inviting. The front door opened and a woman stood in the doorway. The stranger got out of the car and slammed shut the door behind him. He said something to her, and she got angry. Their conversation was muffled but Violet got the impression that something this stranger had done had upset this woman. "Come on," He said, opening the passenger door for Violet, "Everyone inside." "Violet... Who the hell is this guy?" Vincent asked. "Just do it, Vincent. You should trust him more than you trust me, honestly." Violet got out of the car and walked up the driveway. The woman stood in the doorway nodded a few times then turned to the man that had brought them here. She pointed at him with a threatening finger. "So help me, if they blow up the house, especially the purple one, I dont--" She marched back inside. "S-Sorry..." He scratched his head in nervous embarrassment, but then disappeared inside. Violet followed. Meredith hesitated but did the same. Rachel gave Vincent a look along the lines of 'are we really doing this?' and then stepped inside. A few moments passed and the man walked back outside. "Are you coming?" He asked Vincent. Vincent only looked at the man with a soft scowl and then he pushed past him and went inside. "Excellent." The man purred and then closed the door behind them. Inside, it was chaos. A different kind of chaos. Organised chaos. Every table, every space, every wall had been covered and decorated with dozens of objects, hangings, trinkets, and other strange things. The house felt cosy. It was a home, decorated with possessions. A spicy smell wafted down from the kitchen. "Alright!" The man said loudly, calling attention to himself. Everyone in the room focused on him. "I don't like to mince words so here it is - I'm a demon, technically. A familiar, precisely. Sometimes people call me 'James' and that is what I prefer to go by. I am not that kind of demon. I will not offer you things in return for your soul, please don't ask. I met Violet when she was 12, she summoned me - thank you Violet - and now, technically, I am bound to serve her as she wishes..." He paused for a breath, then some other information occurred to him, "The woman that shares this space with me is Jinx. She is also a familiar. We consider you our guests and our friends, so--" "Huh!" A scoff echoed from the kitchen. "So... please. Take a seat." James nodded at the sofas and chairs scattered around the large living room. "...great." Vincent said enthusiastically, "Do you have an alchemy cupboard?" "... ehm..." James hesitated, "... in the kitchen." "Oh, good." Vincent snapped his fingers a couple of times in quick succession. "Come on Padawan let's go make some dead man's talismans and some other fun little ghost weapons." "He means me." Rachel muttered, upon seeing James' confused face. Rachel followed Vincent into the kitchen. The smell was incredible. Something was baking in the oven and it smelled like cinnamon. She realised then that she was virtually starving. Nearly being turned into a cosmic energy being's lunch will do that to you. "Oh by all means--" Jinx muttered, walking back and forth between her stations, "Just barge in, help yourself, see if I care..." Jinx was as tall as James and she was just as attractive. She had a buxom, hourglass figure. She dressed in red, wearing a slim-fitting red dress with a protective white apron over the top of it. She had long, flowing red locks that framed her face and her eyes were yellow and cat-like, the same as James. "Yeah that was pretty much the plan..." Vincent said absentmindedly as he started rummaging through the kitchen drawers, "So the thing about ghosts..." He began talking to Rachel, "Is that they can be really troublesome if you're not prepared for them, which resulted in that shit show back there. I genuinely wasn't expecting ghosts to descend and start murdering hipsters, it's not their usual mode of operation." Rachel nodded in silence, Vincent seemed content with busywork, but she wasn't. "C-Can we..." Rachel began, brushing a strand of white hair out of her face, "Can we talk about Violet?" "Sure." Vincent said as he tossed a jar of odd looking, brown, clumpy stuff, and then started looking for other things, "But you're going to help me while we do. There's no down time on the job, you'll have to learn that sooner or later." "I want no part of this--" Jinx muttered, then tore her apron off and left the kitchen. James watched her walk out and ascend the stairs to the second floor, so he walked into the kitchen to see what was up. Vincent and Rachel were organising items across the counter. James deliberately coughed and cleared his throat as he walked over to them. "Violet is more dangerous than anything i've come across. She almost killed Meredith, who I think was just in a bad situation she couldn't get out of, and she nearly killed me, and look what she did--" She pointed at her hair, and then the scar on her midriff still on show from her tattered clothes. "She has no control, Vincent. She can't--" She trailed off. "And what would you have me do?" Vincent asked while he lit the hob and placed a pot over it. "I don't know!" Rachel bit back with frustration, "But she's been hunting all this time, right? You haven't. So, what about all the times you weren't there to stop her. But she kept hunting, right? Don't you feel responsible for her? She has this incredible power but no control over it or her emotions." Rachel shoved a number of ingredients towards Vincent without care for what they were or if he even wanted them. "Violet... is like the sea." James interjected. Rachel paused and looked at him expectantly. "Well... she is often calm. Mostly calm. Sometimes turbulent. Sometimes a storm. But storms are important too, so you must become a pilot and sail through stormy seas, for it is only through hardship that you find the buried treasure." Rachel blinked, "I'm sorry, you had me for a moment there but then something about... tr--" "--Treasure, yes." James nodded quickly, "Sorry, right. I like pirates? Swashbuckling. The three musketeers. Blackbeard. Honour among comrades, one for all, all for one, on a journey across the seven seas. Human history is full of such examples. I love it. I really need a sword, don't you think?" He paused then realisation dawned on his face, "Right. Sorry. Right. I have a short memory... what were we talking about?" "Violet?" Rachel replied, holding her face in her hands. "I'm surrounded by maniacs..." "Honestly what is it with supernaturals and flowery similes?" Vincent asked. "Violet's a person, and she's quite fucked up. So she hurt you, she could have killed you. You did that to us earlier when you damn near cremated us." "Oh I see..." James looked at Rachel. "That was completely different!" Rachel growled, shoving a glass jar across the counter until it slid into Vincent's waiting hand. "It was, but it had a similar result, and results are what matter." Vincent poured water into the pot to boil and then started pouring out the ingredients and measuring what he needed. "You could have died... but you're not dead. Trust me that's the important thing here, I had a somewhat similar experience tonight." Rachel frowned at Vincent. He liked to talk about how supernaturals use flowery simile yet he was quick to speak in what seemed like riddles. But it was true enough. What had happened, happened. There was no turning back. Nobody was dead. But how long could Violet keep a clean sheet?
  23. Hallows

    Vincent was laying down on a tired looking old bench at the side of the road. All around him was nothing but dry, rocky desert and the sky above was clear as a bell, and the heat was blazing down on him. Apart from the road, the only signs of civilization nearby was the gas station off the side of the road just down from the old bench. The Impala sat at one of the pumps, Violet inside paying for gas. Vincent was wearing a sleeveless, black shirt with a white batman logo on the front, and a pair of navy blue jeans, his usual black boots, and his pentacle necklace around his neck, and had his mirror-lensed aviators on. It had been a little shy of 2 days since they had left Lafayette, and the majority of that time had been spent hauling ass across the country, stopping only to eat, refuel and rest overnight. Vincent had spent the time filling in Rachel about some of the basics about magic, and about hunters. He suspected little of it had really settled in to the girl’s mind, but he wasn’t too surprised. He had been taught about magic since he was a child, and there really was quite a lot to it. “God damn jelly beans!” He cursed at his new phone, which was currently held in his hand playing a brightly coloured games involving matching up different coloured jelly beans. The game made a little descending jingle and went to a game over screen and Vincent sighed, sitting up on the bench and pocketing the phone. He took out his cigarettes instead, and lit one, taking a deep drag. Sitting cross legged on the floor by the bench was Rachel, who was staring at an unlit candle with a great deal of intensity. Vincent exhaled and allowed himself a little smirk as he watched her. “Be careful.” He said with a jovial tone, “You keep tensing up like that sooner or later you’re gonna squeeze something out…let’s hope it’s a little magic and not poop.” "Do you always talk about poo?" Rachel asked, trying to concentrate. "No, he doesn't," Violet interjected, "Just some of the time." She smirked and jabbed Vincent in the shoulder, "Ready to go?" Vincent took another draw of his cigarette. They were in Schurz, Nevada, only a short drive away from the border to California, where they would cross the sea on a boat to Hawaii. “Well…” He said as he turned his attention back to Rachael, “I was kinda hoping she’d hurry up and light the candle.” He said to Violet, then to Rachel he added, “Come on, kid. It’s a freaking billion degrees out here, you’ve got plenty of thermal winds and ambient heat to call upon, we’re in a desert.” "How am I supposed to pull heat out of the air?" Rachel asked, scrunching up her eyes in concentration. “With your will.” Vincent said simply, “That is what magic is…to impose your will on your environment. Fire is usually the easiest for people to learn. You need to let your will extend, so you can feel the forces working around you. Then you focus on your emotions, and your own interpretations, and you need to channel them into what you desire. It takes focus.” focus.” "Fine! Geez." Rachel let out a short little sigh. She could hear Violet walking over to stand beside her brother, could feel their eyes on her, she knew what she needed to do. Rachel focused on the candle, channeling her will into the air, focusing her mind on the creation of fire. A few moments passed, and it seemed as though she would be unable to light the candle but then a wisp of smoke appeared at the tip of the wick and in seconds it was lit. "Hey nice job." Violet smiled with satisfaction. Then a few seconds later the flame wobbled and started to go out. "Uh--" Violet barely opened her mouth when the flame on the candle exploded in size. Roaring up and spreading across the courtyard. Vincent scrambled over the back of the bench and tripped, rolling across the floor, before quickly getting back to his feet. “F-fucking hell!” He spat, his sunglasses askew on his face. His heart still racing he closed his eyes and held his hands up, feeling outwards with his will. He began a quiet chanting, but it was not magical incantations, but rather a string of whispered profanities. The spell worked quickly, as the fire began to move quite unnaturally, coiling through the air towards Vincent and coalescing in between his hands, until it sat in between his palms, a glowing sphere of fire. “Alright.” He said with a quiet, trembling tone, clearly trying to contain himself. “You lost focus…but maybe I should have expected that. Evocation is probably the easiest magic to produce, but the elements are quite difficult to control.” He pressed his hands together slowly as he spoke, and slowly the orb began to dim and decrease in size. “When you call fire you bring in the heat from around you, and as a result the air cools. If you do it enough you can freeze things, and that’s how you get ice magic. However, if you draw in the heat you have to put it somewhere…you have to set the boundaries of that. Instead you let the environment take advantage of the ignition you created. Now you’ve let that heat back in to the air, and you’ve created more heat by letting the fire spread.” Vincent eventually brought his hands in enough that he clapped them together, and the tiny flame was snuffed out. “Focus is crucial. Think of what could have happened if you did that inside a building full of people. You could kill people that you’ve went in to save. You can make a situation so much worse with magic if you lose your focus.” "Focus. Got it." Rachel's cheeks blushed red. "Yeah. Focus. And don't set everyone on fire. That's like... Number 2." Violet smirked, blowing out an ember on Vincent's shoulder. “No harm done on this occasion, but I think we need to look at enchanting you a focus.” Vincent indicated back to the car and they started walking. “My cane is enchanted for elemental evocation. The runes and enchantments are designed to streamline elemental magic so I can focus on being a little more precise. Enchantment is a little more complicated, and it’ll take some time though.” "What's your focus?" Rachel asked, looking to Violet. "Ehm..." Violet chuckled and then looked to her brother for assistance with that one. “She cheats.” Vincent said with a smirk, “Seriously, Violet’s got her own set of rules. FTor now let’s leave fire calling alone until you get some more control. When we get to a motel I’ll show you some thaumaturgy, that’s my kind of ma-“ He paused as a loud ringing came from his pocket. He frowned and took out his phone, looking at the number on the screen. He had only just got the thing, and Violet was the only one who had his number. He answered it. “Hello?” The voice on the other end asked. It was a woman, she sounded out of breath. “Hi.” Vincent replied, “Uh…who is this?” “Oh…god.” The woman’s voice was trembling, she sounded like she might have been crying, “Uh…my name is, well, you don’t know who I am. I-I I don’t know you either, actually, well, I mean I will but-“ “Lady, what are you talking about? How did you get this number?” Vincent asked. “Uh...you gave it to me, or you will soon…” The voice said. Vincent’s eyes widened behind his sunglasses. “…A prescient.” He said finally, his voice quiet. “What did you see?” “Uh…a lot.” The woman replied, “It’s…it’s confusing, okay. All I know is you’re going to give me this phone number. I’ve seen it happen, and then…” She paused and her breath shuddered, “There’s too many paths, and most of them lead to the same thing. We…” She sniffed and let out a little cry, “We die.” “Uh…well what if we just stay away from each other?” Vincent asked. “Then other people will die…a lot of other people.” Vincent was silent for a long moment, then he cursed silently. “Shit!...god damn it, where then? Where do we meet?” Vincent asked “I’m in Las Vegas.” The girl said. “I-I’m Meredith, by the way. Meredith Palmer.” “Vincent-“ “Hallow, I know.” Meredith interrupted. “Look…there’s a bar called Henley’s that’s just off the strip. It’s quiet, can you meet me there?” “That’s like 5 hours drive.” Vincent sighed loudly. “…You’ll make it before last call.” Meredith replied. “Fine…fine!” Vincent said, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers, as he closed his eyes in frustration. “Fine…you better not be fucking with me.” “I’m not, I promise.” Meredith said, she sounded desperate. “Alright…later I guess.” Vincent said, and then he hung up the phone. He took a deep breath and then quickly sighed it out, scratching the back of his head as he turned his gaze to Violet. “Uh…we need to make a detour.” He said. "Mm-hm. Mm-hm. A detour huh? But that's sooo unreasonable." Violet flashed a wicked grin then got into her car. "Well let's get on with it then you two I don't have forever. Well, I do. But by that point I'll just be watching dying stars explode and it all happen all over again and I'd really rather just, y'know, get some chicken and see that psychic." “If I’m walking toward my likely death, my last meal is not going to be chicken.” Vincent said as he got in the car. As they drove Vincent repeated his conversation with Meredith, and there was a period of silence in the drive when he mentioned that going to meet Meredith was likely to result in both of their deaths. “I mean…she said most of the paths lead to death, so that means we could live, right?” "I have a terrible sense of direction." Violet muttered under her breath. "I have GPS so..." Rachel held her phone up and then looked at the screen, "Oh, no. No nevermind. No signal. We gonna die y'all!" Rachel threw herself back into her seat and huffed. “You know what I meant.” Vincent said with a frown, “This could be really serious…but she said a lot of people would die if we don’t go.” He sighed in frustration, “It could be a trap…sounds ideal for a trap, but then how did she get my number?” "I don't know what you expect me to say, Vince. But I'll tell you this... I'm not in the mood for Death. Not today. Maybe someday. We'll see." Violet growled to herself. Rachel looked up from her phone just long enough to show confusion at Violet's statement then returned to texting. They drove the rest of the way in relative silence. By the time they had finally reached Las Vegas it had gone dark. They had swapped endless dirt and roads for neon lights, busy streets and the huge and varied hotels and casinos of the famous city. As they drove down the main strip Vincent couldn’t help but hang his head out the window, taking it in. “This place really is something.” Violet leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath and as she let it out, her eyes turned white with a brilliant luminescence. "Hundreds of thousands of people. A man sobs in his room. His daughter doesn't love him any more. He drinks. A woman ties a rubber hose around her arm. Checking for veins, she says this is the last time. For real this time. A banker parks and forgets to pay his meter. A homeless man feeds the meter from his meager change. When the banker returns, he takes no notice of the kindness given him from one with so little. But the man without a house, keeps a tidy home. He asks for no thanks or applause." Her eyes quickly returned to normal and Violet coughed, very aware of herself for a moment, "Y-yeah, sure. Sounds like an interesting city." "Sounded sad..." Rachel muttered. “Creepy more like.” Vincent said with an uncomfortable shrug. Eventually they pulled off the strip and down a couple of blocks until they found a place to park. Across the street there was a quiet little bar with a sign that read: Henley’s. “That’s the place.” Vincent said as they got out of the car. He got out his cane and jacket, and put his jacket on. He opened up the trunk and took out his pistol and strap. “I’m not taking any chances.” "I thought we didn't need guns!?" Rachel barked, pointing at the pistol. “Sometimes a gun is the better option,” Vincent replied, “Especially if your enemy is mortal.” Violet leaned on Rachel's shoulder and whispered, "Never... question... uncle!" Rachel shrugged her off and grumbled, following the two Wizards inside. “Oh, right…give me your I.D.” Vincent said, and clicked his fingers at Rachel when she didn’t comply immediately. "Alright, geez!" Rachel reached for her I.D. but the moment she had it in her hands, it was in Vincent's. “Good.” He said as he examined the card. Then he ran his hand over it and some of the writing had changed. He handed it back to Rachel. “There, now you’re 21.” He said. "I don't feel any older..." Rachel muttered. "Hah!" Violet snorted and then walked inside. “That’s just in case someone cards you, don’t go actually buying beer now, you’re still a minor.” Vincent said as they arrived outside the bar. He pushed the door open and stepped inside. Henley’s bar was one of those hipster bars that were built in shabby run-down buildings where the rent was cheap, but the interior was clean and didn’t smell weird, unless you included the stench of gentrification. The Hardest Button To Button by The White Stripes was playing on a retro styled jukebox that had an tablet screen for selecting songs off of a music streaming service. The floors were a smooth brickwork tile job, the bar was clean and well stocked, and the seating area had that odd mismatch of furniture that some bars utilized if they wanted to appear alternative and bohemian. “Ugh, they better not have cocktails…” Vincent grumbled as he walked forward, looking around at the patrons. "It's okay, Vince." Violet replied, looking around. "I'll drink the 40% alcohol that tastes great. You can drink your piss-flavoured, weak wheat juice." “No single malt, Vi?” Vincent said with mock astonishment, “Al taught you better than that. Crusty old hillbilly would take you over his knee if he heard that nonsense coming out of your mouth.” "Vince, I've seen stars implode, I've met life on other worlds, travelled through multiple dimensions and tasted cosmic essence..." Violet took a breath, "... and I know, for a fact, that long island ice tea is the best drink in the universe." “Tequila, vodka, rum, triple sec, gin and coke…” Vincent counted on his fingers, “Pretty sure that’s six drinks, Vi.” "If you don't understand symbiosis then I can't talk to you about cocktails, Vincent." Violet took one long look around the room and sighed, "I hate this place. It makes me want to drink strange over-priced coffee and munch on my own farts. I'm-- help--" Violet fainted into Vincent's arms and then gripped onto him, "Vince, I'm... One of them!" Violet mock-choked, took a deep breath, and in a strangely snotty way, she added, "Hey, I'm Daffodil, your bartender, "Would you like to try our continental wine sniffing course?" “You’re too far gone for help.” Vincent said dryly and shoved his sister off of him. He scanned the room for Meredith, having no idea what she looked like, however he spotted her easily enough. In the corner, sat alone at a booth table, was a girl in her early twenties, slim and dressed in denim jeans, converse sneakers and a red checkered shirt. She had a long mane of tightly curled, red hair and a black beanie hat that took up relatively small real estate on her head compared to her hair. Her blue eyes were staring at Vincent behind thick-rimmed, black glasses, like a dear caught in the headlights. “Guess we should go say hi.” Vincent said as he nodded his head toward Meredith. He struggled to swallow, his throat dry. He felt completely on edge, his senses were tense and skittish, something he often felt when forces were at work, like when a storm begins to gather. “I think I need a drink first…” He said, licking his dry lips. "Get a drink, if you want..." Violet walked towards Meredith and after a moment's hesitation, Rachel followed. Violet could see the essence of all living things. As she walked towards Meredith she saw the gently crackling flames of the other patrons. But the one essence that shone through the darkness more than any other, was Meredith's. It was like she had less control over her own power, at the benefit of intermittent power spikes. She was a sap-filled, spitting flame of chaos. She was beautiful. "Hey, I'm--" Violet started to introduce herself but Meredith joined her mid-sentence. "--I'm V-Violet." Meredith finished her thought, albeit with a slight stutter. And she did it every time Violet opened her mouth and spoke. "Fascinating." They both said, then Violet smirked and turned back to Rachel and Vincent. "That's cool, right?" She added, though Meredith had said it behind her at the same time. "..." Vincent hesitated to say anything at all, cautious that Meredith would only mimicking him. "Don't spe-" "-speak... Oh" Meredith stopped herself and blushed. "I'm sorry it's a bad habit. I just tend to know what people say before they say it, so I either say what they say, or sometimes I answer their question before they ask it, and then I get embarrassed and I talk a lot, just rambling on and on and on and-" "Yeah." Vincent interrupted. He sat down in a chair and leaned on the table with his arms, "So you mostly see just brief moments in the future?" "Mostly." Meredith said with a nervous nod, "Sometimes it's much further in the future, but it gets confusing... Hard to make sense of what's happening, what's real and what's not, like living through multiple versions of an event." "The further into the future you see the more variables there are, so the future is less certain." Vincent explained, "Plus your knowledge of your future can make you act, which changes it, and then you see that future, and you do something else and it changes again, and again." "Y-yeah..." Meredith said, a sadness crept across her face and she bit her lower lip. "Don't you have any friends?" Rachel asked, taking a step forwards. Violet pointed at Meredith, "Well go on then, this is your thing." She virtually threatened Vincent with an angry look. Vincent responded with a thin smile that veiled his clenched teeth. “Well…” Meredith began cautiously, “It happened just before I called you. It…” She took in a sharp breath and seemed to puzzle for a moment, “…there were a lot of places that we met, different things happened from then on…it branched out in thousands of directions…and the images I kept saying over and over was…” She swallowed nervously. “So you chose the safest path for us?” Vincent asked. Meredith visibly tensed. “I...I’m sorry.” She whimpered, tears welling in her eyes. “Why are you sorry?” Vincent asked. He was getting a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Please understand…these people will die if we aren’t here.” Meredith began to cry. “Oh for…” Vincent stood up from his chair and turned around the face the rest of the room and felt around with his senses. He came in to contact with a dark, cold magic that felt all kinds of wrong. Just touching at it with his will felt maddening and he swiftly retreated his tendrils of power and shivered. The room had become deathly cold. “Rachel…” Vincent said hesitantly, “…I need you to not panic, things are going to happen…you’re not going to see.” “What’s going on?” Rachel asked worriedly. “…Ghosts.” Vincent said as he began to focus his will. He concentrated on a well of power that was stored in the centre point of his forehead just above his brow. He took a deep breath, hesitating, before finally muttering a curse and opening the point of power up. The word changed in an instant around Vincent as he opened up his third eye. He could see true image of everything within the room. A woman who he had noticed before to be quite beautiful, became horribly angular, twisted and quite terrifying to look at. He turned to Rachel, and in her place stood a brilliant, glowing aura, with a cold, dark centre that festered like a wound. He dared not look at Violet, certain that the image would destroy his ability to fight, either through terror or awe. The cold energy surged and ghostly hands began to phase through the walls, a fact that only Vincent and Violet could see. "I'm content to go now." Violet muttered, taking a step back as she prepared for what was coming. "Why should I want to panic?! It's just ghosts!" Rachel seemed a little unhinged. “They aren’t after us…they can’t be.” Vincent said and he held out his cane in challenge. The ghosts, for their part, seemed not even to notice they were there. Instead the shades began to move among the other patrons, and they began to stand behind their chairs and wait. A ghost moved to Vincent, her face gaunt and emotionless. Vincent instinctively gathered his will and pushed it out to blast the ghost back, but it did not react to the kinetic force. It just kept coming, until it was almost on him. “I’m so sorry…” Meredith said tearfully once more, and then she gasped as another Ghost rose up through the floor and table and sunk it’s arm in to her throat. She began to choke, unable to breath, and she clutched at her neck. Suddenly each of the ghosts plunged their hands into the necks of each of the patrons, and they all began choking as well. Vincent was no exception, unable to work a spell in time that could effect the spirit mere inches from him, and he flinched as she jabbed her hand into his throat. Suddenly Vincent’s body went numb with biting cold. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t breath. He felt a tremendous pressure building in his head, and his vision swam. He could hear himself choking, but it sounded far away. At some point he ended up on the floor, but he couldn’t remember falling. There was a slow, rhythmic thumping that were becoming further and further apart. His vision blurred, and he found himself drawn to a figure standing across the bar. The woman had dark hair and the palest white skin. She wasn’t suffering like everyone else in the room. The girl just looked at him, and smiled warmly.
  24. Hallows

    "No i'm exactly like the Phoenix Force." Violet corrected her brother, grinning to herself at the comparison. "So, what do you think we should do with you...?" She asked, her tone neutral while she studied the girl. Rachel was tall and slim but generally unremarkable. She had long blonde hair that she'd tied into a ponytail and mouse-like features. The most striking thing about her was the eyes. She had bright green eyes. How'd she not noticed that before? "What do you mean?" Rachel asked nervously. Violet looked at her brother and shrugged. "You're just cutting your teeth, kid" Vincent said to Rachel, "You can't just go around with this cowboy justice crap. There are laws. There's a code." He gave her a somewhat serious frown. "Not to mention your lack of diligence, you acted based on circumstantial evidence. So the question is do we put a stop to your journey right now...or don't we?" "I know I started out of revenge, but i'm not a bad person. I kept hunting because knowing what I know, what else can I do? People are in danger from..." Rachel paused, glancing at Violet, "From some creatures. I'm just trying to even the odds." Violet could remember what it was like to be a new hunter. The idea she was making a difference, fighting back the darkness, saving lives. "I think she should come with us." Violet spoke directly to her brother. "Room for one more?" Vincent raised an eyebrow. "With us? We're going to go find dad, not show the rookie around." Vincent shook his head, "Besides, mortal hunters either have an edge, like me and you, or they have been trained from birth, generation to generation. She'll get herself killed." "Exactly. She's going to do this whether we're here or not. She's just a child--" "--hey!!" Rachel growled, standing up in defiance. "I'm 17!" "Y'see?" Violet jerked her head at Rachel, "The girl is pretty much a smudge without us, and its not like you cant teach magic." "Oh I can teach, but can she learn?" Vincent asked, looking at Rachel expectantly. "Ever made something disappear? Moved something with your mind? Ever been really mad, and then strange things happen?" "Is that a Harry Potter quote?" Rachel asked, frowning in disbelief. Violet's eyes lit up with amusement, "Oh yes, we can work with this." Violet stood up, "I'm gonna go see how Lucas is doing. Why don't you two stay and talk it over. I'm no good at teaching, so if anyone's going to be your teacher, it's going to be my brother. Have fun with that." Violet turned and walked off before either of them could voice their objections. Lucas had been moved from the emergency room into a quiet ward by himself. When Violet entered, she noted a police officer stood in the corner, talking to a nurse and another sat at her desk, filling out a large stack of forms. None of them were paying her any attention. A white film spread over the top of her shoulders, coating her arms and top half, and then descending and levelling out at her knees where it coalesced into a doctor's coat. A moment later, a clipboard was in her hand and she marched towards the bed with purposeful confidence. "Evening, officer." Violet quickly glanced at her clipboard, made a 'hmm' noise - seemed the right thing to do - and then put it to one side and picked up Lucas' chart at the end of his bed. The police officer looked her up and down then took a step back. "Yes, yes. Gunshot wound, so the hospital automatically called the cops." "Right..." The officer muttered. "But it's not necessary, officer. The boy accidentally misfired his gun on a hunting trip." "Does he have--" "--here's his license." Violet reached over and picked up her clipboard, then pulled a blank sheet of paper from it and handed it to the officer with an expectant look. The man stared at the blank page for several minutes, his eyes darting back and forth over the blank page until he sighed and nodded. "Alright. Everything seems in order. Thanks, Doc. You just saved me a load of paperwork." The officer smiled and left and after excusing the nurse, Violet went and sat beside Lucas. He seemed asleep, but she knew better. Too many nights spent awake, listening to mom and dad argue. "Oi, kid, I know you're faking." Violet leaned over and punched Lucas in the arm, and the boy gasped in pain as he reflexively tensed. Lucas' eyes shot wide open and stared at Violet with a burning rage, "Good, you're up. We need to talk." Vincent rolled his eyes and then sat forward in his chair, pressing his fingers together. He took a deep breath, gathering his thoughts, and then he looked at Rachel. "My sister has a tendency to jump the gun a bit. Before we even begin to discuss if you have any talent, we should probably find out if you want to. So, do you?" "Talent?" Rachel asked, the frown lines on her face deepened. "Magical talent!" Vincent said, waggling his fingers at her. "It's true that anyone can learn magic, like Violet implied, but some people have a lot more power than others that they can harness to work forces. Luckily, there's a few ways we can test yours. But, my question was do you want to?" "If it will help me to be a better hunter." Rachel replied, "Yes, please, I need to know." Vincent's eyes narrowed. "Magic is not just a tool for you to use, it's a pursuit... It's a way of life. If you want a weapon, stick to a gun." The frustration on Rachel's face was clear, "It's just like you said, i'm not a creature with powers, or a wizard with magic, I don't even come from a generational hunting family with information and connections to fall back on. I'm just learning. Anyone can shoot a gun - teach me magic." "Better." Vincent said either a nod, "Now, what's your full name?" "Why?" Rachel asked, crossing her arms. "Because I want to find out if you have even a bit of talent, and to do that I need your full name, given freely from your own lips." Vincent explained, as if he'd given a perfectly reasonable explanation. Violet walked back into the waiting room, clocked both Rachel and Vincent and nodded to her brother as she sat back down. "Lucas is going to be fine," She said, "We talked, he's not going to mention what happened. He has enough to be getting on with - track team, grades, girls. He just wants to put it all behind him, so that's that." Violet looked over at Rachel who seemed perturbed. "What did you say?" Violet asked Vincent, her eyes narrowing. "Rachel Moon." Rachel replied, ignoring Violet but inwardly she was extremely thankful for Lucas' discretion. "Rachel... Moon." Vincent said back, he spoke slowly, pronouncing each syllable carefully, and he worked his will into the words. Suddenly the chair Rachel was sat on began to shake and vibrate. Rachel gripped onto the edges of her chair, as she knew, it wasn't her chair that was shaking... it was her. Her entire body was vibrating, and she could feel a pull on her body as though an invisible force was trying to draw her towards Vincent. "Hm, well that was a fairly strong reaction." Vincent said with a thoughtful expression, "But you've been exposed to the Supernatural world and you haven't hidden from that revelation, so I suppose hidden potential could be likely." "Cool..." Rachel muttered, looking at her hands with new perspective. "As long as you can help, you can stay." Violet interjected, "So can we go now? I'm famished." "Yes, let's bounce!" Vincent said as he got to his feet. He turned to Rachel, "Oh and, from now on don't tell people your full name like that. A good wizard could use it to invade your mind, make you kill your loved ones, or kill you or something." "Yeah, like, you're basically Vincent's plaything now. He could ask you to turn your body inside out and you could probably do it." Violet laughed and looked over to see all the colour in Rachel's face had drained away. She hurried to add, "Oh but he wouldn't! Obviously..." "Probably best not to tempt me though." Vincent said. "Alright. Enough wind-up. First lesson, Rachel Moon..." Violet stood up, glanced down either end of the corridor, and seeing nobody she turned back to face them both, "Do as he says, not as I do--" Then without warning, the three of them vanished with a loud bang - the sound of air rushing to fill a void. A moment later, the trio were sat in the Impala. Vincent looked flustered, but Rachel was gasping for air and gripping onto the dash. "What the hell was that?!" Rachel yelled, suppressing a scream. "Translocation. Teleportation. Inter-dimensional shift. Call it what you like." Violet muttered, reaching for the seatbelt. "Seatbelt?" Rachel asked, laughing at the idea that a powerful wizard and cosmic energy being, that had the power to teleport people and shoot energy beams, was lecturing her on the importance of road safety. However, at the no-nonsense expression on Violet's face, Rachel buckled up in the back and sighed. "So where are we going?" Rachel asked. "Violet Lake." Violet answered, with a smirk. "Violet... Lake...?" Rachel wasn't sure she'd heard right. "Yes, Violet Lake, and no I don't think that's a coincidence. It's a lake in Hawaii, and this picture--" Violet pulled the photo from her doctor's coat which then vanished, "Our dad's there, i'm sure of it. If we're quick, we might be able to catch him before he has to leave." Violet showed the photo to Rachel who studied it for a few seconds. "But, why is your dad so important? Why do we need to find him...?" Rachel asked, handing the photo back. "Because he has some explaining to do." Vincent said simply. "So i'm leaving my friends, my education and everything else behind, so that you can... what...? Get an apology?" Rachel looked to Violet. "I dunno." Violet shrugged, "I just want to find my dad. Vince is the one with the chip on his shoulder." "I wish I had parents to be mad at..." Rachel muttered, "You shouldn't let the wrongs in your past cloud your relationship with your dad." "Smart kid." Violet said, speaking to Vincent. She flashed him a lop-sided grin and turned the key, bringing the Impala to life. Moments later, they were on the road once again. Only now they had a new charge. Violet took her eyes off the road for a moment to check her rear-view mirror. For a moment, Rachel's face was obscured by a bright light but before she could really focus on it, Violet blinked and the light was gone. "You okay?" Rachel asked, noticing Violet staring at her. "Sure..." Violet replied, putting her eyes back on the road. It was going to be a long drive.
  25. Hallows

    “Careful with that gun…” Vincent said as he held his hand up between him and the newcomer, Rachael. His protection charms dangled around his wrist as he projected his will outwards, forming a solid shield of kinetic energy. “Who the hell are you?” He asked. Rachel frowned at the man and yelled back, "Who the hell're you?!" With an incredulous tone. "Look!" Violet snapped, "I'm not in the mood to play 'Who the fuck am I'! Why did you shoot him, Rachel?" "You couldn't understand..." Rachel smirked bitterly and shook her head. “Funny, that’s usually my line.” Vincent said as he paced slowly forward, towards Lucas’ body in between them. “How about you try me, hm?” "They're monsters!" Rachel shouted, leveling the gun at them. "They turn blue and change people into them, I've seen it!" “Oh…geez.” Vincent said with a sigh, “Looks like we got ourselves a rookie, Vi.” He said with a smirk, although he still kept his barrier raised and ready. “First of all; monster is a very generic term, sort of discriminatory when you think about it. Secondly, I’m not buying this story that a Nymph in fuckin’ Lafayette of all places, has the kind of mystical mojo it takes to do that.” Amber spoke, but when she did, all personality, weakness, or naivety vanished. When she spoke, it was as though there were power in the very words themselves, they echoed like a ripple in a pond, "The lakes were sick. The rivers were dying. We had to stop that. I had to stop that. Not just for us, but for the humans, too." "Mmm... Yep." Vincent said with a wince, "Should have seen that one...all right." With a thrust of his palm Vincent sent his barrier forward and up, the force knocking the gun from Rachel's hand. He walked quickly toward her, and she seemed to visibly recoil. With a pulling motion he brought a gust of wind out from under Rachel and knocked her to her backside. She froze as Vincent stopped above her and placed the end of his cane down with a loud tap. There was a resonating hum of power as he sent out his will down the cane’s length, and it’s carved runes glowed softly. Rachel tried to get up, but found that she had been rooted to the spot, almost as if she had been welded to the floor. “Stay still.” He said with a smirk and rolled his eyes, before turning away from her. “Okay then.” He said finally, “That’s the trigger happy teenager dealt with, now…” He turned his gaze toward Amber, “…Let’s have a chat, you and I.” Amber's lip curled into a snarl. "I will not subject myself to your questioning!" Amber roared and raised her arms, the skin across her body turning blue as she pulled water from the ground, from the machines, from every inch of the factory. The first jet of water she fired at Vincent coalesced into an icy spear as it hurtled towards him. It narrowly missed but as Amber prepared to fire again, Violet had to step in. "Stop!" She yelled, running between Vincent and Amber. But it was too late. The spear of ice struck her in the stomach and she doubled over. First, there was pain. But the pain dissipated quickly as a dizzying sensation of rage began to spread through her. Amber readied another ice missile, but Violet stood back up distracting her for just a moment. "No..." Violet hissed. Throwing her arms up, a bright purple energy fired from her hands, and hit Amber like a truck. The nymph flew across the floor and landed with a thud. Before she could right herself Violet was stood over her. Violet's face was partially her own, while a section of it around one eye was peeling away like burning tinder. Beneath her skin, purple energy dancing around a brilliantly dazzling all-white eye. The hair above her forehead in that area had turned to a light pink and seemed to dance and sway as though she were underwater. Amber raised her hands, in defence. But Violet ignored the girl, raising her arms once more. This time she seemed to draw the very energy from Amber, who immediately collapsed as though she were fatigued. The blue of her skin began to turn pale and her skin became cracked. "Stop..." Amber groaned. The spike of ice forcibly ejected from Violet's stomach, leaving behind the same solid dark purple energy that was burning through her face and still she continued to feed on the life force of the nymph. “Oh for crying out loud…” Vincent said with a sigh, looking down at his shoes and the bottom part of his jeans which were now soaked from the torrent of water that had rushed around them. He felt a strange weight pulling at him, a sensation he was familiar with, it was normally something he felt in the shower. The water rolled away around him, running across the floor. As it reached Rachel she gasped as she was suddenly able to move again. Running water grounds out mortal magic. “Well, my magic’s out…” Vincent said as he turned back to Violet and Amber, and then his eyes widened and he cursed, “Violet!” He snapped loudly. Violet jumped as though she'd just been grabbed and she relented. Amber gasped as colour slowly began to return to her face. "I... I-I'm sorry... I..." Violet bent over to comfort Amber but the nymph recoiled in horror. Violet's face and the hole in her shirt quickly returned to normal. Her eye darkened and shifted until it was a natural-looking human eye. Her 'skin' re-covered her face and her hair turned blue and fell flat once more. Violet glanced at Vincent but couldn't hold his gaze. Vincent wanted to say something to Violet, but now wasn’t the time. He pulled his pistol from his holster and turned, pointing it at Rachel who was attempting to flee. “Ah! Ah!” He called and Rachel froze when she saw the gun. “Now just you sit tight while the adults talk.” Vincent said and he turned back to Amber, “Ready to talk now?” "W-what would you ask of me?" Amber asked. She seemed weakened, tired, but no lasting damage had been done. Violet slunk off to Rachel and sat on top of the girl so she couldn't escape. Rachel wanted to shout and scream and bite but having just witnessed one of what she thought had been human, turn into a life-sucking creature, she was content to remain quiet for the moment. “Well first I wanted to know how you managed to amass so much power…but I get it now.” He smirked, “You’ve created a cause for people to have faith in, to pay tribute to, and to provide offerings. Your environmental activism is how you draw your power. Fundraising faith to fuel your mystical powers. Just a guess, but am I in the right ballpark?” "You are not unintelligent." Amber smirked before trying to get her breath back. "I thought they were a myth..." Amber muttered, her eyes darting at Violet before refocusing on him. “Hah!” Vincent laughed, “Hey Vi, the myth just called you a myth!” Violet looked like she wasn't in the mood. Her top lip curled back and she crossed her arms with an air of 'and that's all I have to say about that'. “So,” Vincent continued, “You’ve been turning mortals into Naiads, which takes a serious amount of mojo, maybe the charity worship wasn’t enough? So you turn to older methods. Human sacrifice is a good way to wield serious power, wouldn’t you say?” "If power is required to save this world, then I will take it, human." Amber curled the last word out of her mouth as though she was spitting a fly out. "This world will persist, long after you are gone." “Oh yeah, absolutely.” Vincent agreed with a nod, then he shrugged and cocked his head. “Although, you should see some of the stuff these humans are doing. It might take them 200 years but that’s a drop in the bucket for you. What are you going to do when they have machines that clean rivers, and maintain forests, machines that produce clean air. Nobody is going to put their faith in you lot any more.” "Then I will 'retire'." Amber retorted. “You might retire sooner rather than later if you don’t explain what’s going on.” Vincent said, and as he was talking he went over to check on Lucas, and was surprised when he felt his wrist and found a pulse. “Vi…he’s alive.” He said to his sister, “He needs a hospital.” "That's going to be an awkward conversation." Violet replied, looking at Lucas. "I've done nothing wrong." Amber stood up shakily, "When I need more nymphs, there are already many waiting in line to serve. This girl..." She looked at Rachel with disdain, "... Is not who we thought. She is bitter and selfish, like all humans." “The accords state that if you murder humans then they have sacred right to hunt and kill you.” Vincent said testily. “And those kids are minors, the human law states that they are not mature enough to make their own decisions about their life. Not that the accords have anything to say about that.” His nostrils flared visibly at the admission, “Rachel is going to be a murderer if Lucas dies, and then she’ll be a problem for the police. Unless Lucas killed those girls, in which case she has the right. I don’t think he did though, did he?” "Nobody killed those girls." Amber replied, rather matter-of-fact. And as though waiting for a sign, women began to appear. From around corners, behind pillars and stepping out from behind machinery. There were more than a dozen and several of them looked familiar. They were the girls who had been murdered. Though it seemed this was not the case, despite the bodies. “…They weren’t murdered, they were the girls you turned.” Vincent shook his head in annoyance, “You…created corpses to hide the disappearances. Are you stupid? How could you not know this would send hunters on your trail?” "I don't see why they should." Amber replied with a non-plussed expression. "Amber, you know that the bodies were gored to death. That's not exactly common fare." Violet spoke up at last and Amber stared at her in disbelief. "Don't speak to me--" Amber finished her statement with a high-pitched screech that sounded like a mixture between a kettle boiling and a metal nail tearing down a blackboard. Everyone recoiled from the noise. It seemed to summon up images of long-forgotten worlds, dying suns, and a dark void. “Bleugh.” Vincent said with a shudder, and looked at Violet, “I mean…your people have a lovely language.” He gave her a false grin. "I can assure you, of all of us here, I would like not to hear that again." Violet looked at Amber, "So use it again, and I'll finish what I started." Amber found it impossible to hide the anger on her face, however, she remained calm. “So…no one is dead. You haven’t broke the laws that apply to you, so we hold no claim.” Vincent continued, “Which stinks of shit. You…are taking advantage of these kids.” His voice became tense, almost a growl. Well, actually my sister is under no such obligation. Vincent turned to Violet, “Fancy abusing your power?” "Come on, Vince. Let's go." Violet stood up and helped Rachel to her feet, "You've got a lot to learn, kid." She pushed Rachel into walking, "Best hope he doesn't croak." As Violet made to leave, Lucas lifted off the floor, floating into the air and following her. "Come on." She repeated to her brother, "There's nothing to do here." “You’re lucky she’s the less morally bankrupt of the two of us.” Vincent said with a scowl, “…Just be careful. Give me just one reason to smite you, and you’ll be finding out what it’s like to be a greasy stain on the floor.” He turned and walked away from Amber and her Nymphs, walking quickly to catch up with Violet. --- --- --- --- It was reaching 11pm by the time Vincent, Violet and Rachel sat in the waiting room of the local A&E section of the hospital. The waiting room was old and dingy, and was rocking a multitude of odd smells. The three were almost entirely alone, except for a sleeping homeless man with a dirty beard and long, greying hair who was sat at the other end of the room, and an old Hispanic nurse working the reception desk. “Nasty wound.” Vincent said as he leaned back in his chair, “Fun fact of the day: Satyr don’t have heightened regenerative abilities.” "I don't care..." Rachel muttered. She kept her eyes focused on the glossy white and grey marbled floor. "Things aren't black and white, kid." Violet sighed and looked around before picking up one of the magazines on the table beside her and opening to a random page. “So why’d you shoot him?” Vincent asked. Rachel puzzled him. She had a bad attitude, and was pretty confrontational and self-assured, not unlike how he was when he was a teenager. Still, she seemed to have her hostility pretty focused in one direction, and there had to be a reason for that. "It's none of your damn business." Rachel growled. "Seems pretty straightforward to me. Boy problems. You were into him, he wasn't into you, angst, drama, Twilight, etc." Violet muttered with a half-grin. "That's not it at all!" Rachel snapped. She sat there in silence for a little while longer. Violet went back to her magazine until a few minutes later, Rachel spoke once again. "A few years ago we were attacked. My mum and dad were killed, and I barely escaped with my life. Vampires, as I later learned. First I tried hunting vampires, then I found out there was a whole world of--" She paused as a nurse walked past, then went on, "A world of monsters. People were being gored, and when I found out Lucas was a satyr, and had a connection with the girls, I figured it had to be him and even if it wasn't it was one less monster." “A whole world of monsters, fairies, demons, gods, both big G and little G varieties, ghosts, dragons and eldritch horrors.” Vincent said, “Oh and I’m a wizard.” He added, “And my sister is a cosmic energy thing.” Rachel frowned at him about the last one. “It’s like...y’know in the X-men when Jean Grey becomes the Phoenix…well she’s like the Ph-“ Vincent caught the way Violet was looking at him and cut off, “-nothing…uh she’s nothing like the Phoenix force, that’d be dumb, huh?” Vincent suddenly became very fascinated with the ceiling and fell silent.
  26. Hallows

    When Violet arrived, she didn't look happy. Winding down her window, she glanced at the toy from the seat of her car, "So, let's bust some heads!" She called out. Opening the passenger side door for her brother, he got in and she returned to the traffic. "Pfft, boring." She muttered, then she angled her rear-view mirror so she could see her hair. Cars beeped their horns all around them, as they slowly lurched forwards through the traffic. Violet took a hand and brushed it through the left-hand side of her hair. The hair that was there fell out and disappeared, leaving her with one side of her head shaved. "That's a bit more interesting." She muttered as an afterthought, "So who d'you think did it?" "The Satyr kid seems likely, at least the murders were designed to look like a Satyr did it." Vincent said as he held the eager little hot wheels car in his hand, the wheels still whirring furiously, "At worst he's our killer, and at best he's a douchebag who goes through girls like a fat guy hitting the buffet. Still, we don't execute supes for being douchebags." "No, but we always have room to reconsider-- Seriously?!" As a row of cars managed to breach with the flash of a green traffic light, it quickly switched back to red and they came to a halt once more. "Traffic jams really stress me out, man..." Violet snarled and kicked back into her seat, then sighed and pushed the frustration to the back of her mind. It was like opening an ancient music box. As the lid opened, a harmonious music played, a little ballerina in black dancing by herself and then the tense, angry, inquisitive emotions tumbled into the music box. It closed. It locked. Then a car beeped it's horn directly behind them and Violet opened her eyes. "Yeah, yeah..." She growled, and she moved the car forwards until they had to come to a stop once again. "That Amber girl keeps popping up in this. Did you ever get to speak with her again?" Vincent asked. He had picked his grimoire out from the back seat and was flicking through it studiously. "Oh, right..." Violet smirked and took her hands off the wheel. She pulled her legs up, placing them on the dash and reclined. Her lips moved silently and then the car seemed to growl to life, the wheel turned back and forth, and then the car accelerated a little to fill the gap ahead of them. "That's better." Violet sighed and then thought about her brother's question. "'Amber'," She said it with air quotations, "Leader of a group of eco-nerds focused on river preservation. Amber's a nymph. So is Jessica. This girl Rachel isn't but for some reason Amber seems taken with her, and while I think there's probably more nymphs in that group than those two, I think there are a number of human girls too." "Well according to his pop, she spread a lot of lies about Lucas and generally stirred things up. Apparently it resulted in an argument between Amber's dad and him." Vincent stopped and mouthed along a little as he read, then continued talking, "He implied Amber was jealous because Lucas wouldn't pay her any attention." "Highschool." Violet muttered, shaking her head. "Kids never learn. They think they're the smartest thing on the planet, but all teens are are a bunch of hormones donkin' into each other and fumbling through life." She crossed her arms and blew at one of her blue bangs. "Highschool was dumb. It was just you, an' me an' then one summer I met D, but it was all messed up and we hardly learned anything." "It wasn't that bad...it was an escape." Vincent said, "School feels like a break next to what we had to learn." "If you say so, Vince." Violet licked the inside of her teeth and let out another long sigh, "Look, d'you mind?" Violet pointed at the traffic lights, "Are you gonna give me a lecture about magic if I move us along? We've got somewhere to be, y'know?" "If you can do it subtly... then sure." Vincent said with a shrug. "Our turn!" Violet called, focusing on the lights. She whispered something beneath her breath and the opposing lights switched from green to red. Cars came to a screeching halt. A moment later their lights turned from red to green. "Ugh, at last!" Violet let her shoulders relax as she realised she'd been tensing them, and they drove on. After a few minutes, Violet glanced over at the whirring toy car. "So, how much longer y'think?" She asked with a raised eyebrow before refocusing her attention on the road. "I don't know." Vincent said, and he held the little car aloft, its wheels whirring furiously against the air. "Could be trying to get to Alaska for all I know. It should take us straight to Lucas, wherever that is." It took them a while, driving around Lafayette, but eventually they came to a halt as Vincent's little toy car seemed to tire, and by now, it was obvious where they'd been taken. Just on the outskirts of Lafayette, there was a bottled water factory. It had been tucked away, hidden by the trees, but it was right there in front of them now. Petros Water branded in huge letters along the side of the building. "Right. Water nymphs, bottled water factory, makes sense. Why not..." Violet mumbled as she got out of the car. "Why's the Satyr kid here though?" Vincent asked as he opened the door to the car. He went to the back seat and took out his cane and his gun and strap. "Let's play it safe. This is the Nymphs home turf, their magic will be strong here." "Oh you don't say," Violet teased sarcastically, then walked on through the car park and up to the main doors. Before she could reach them however, the door opened and a speaker system activated with a quiet squeal. "I guess they know we're here." "Honoured guests," The voice belonged to a young woman, it was sultry and confident and held not an ounce of worry, "I am Jennifer Petros, CEO of Petros Water. Welcome to our Indiana factory. Here, we source only the best spring water from across Indiana. In the following--" "Automated nonsense." Violet shook her head and walked into the factory. It was quite dark in the first room, but from what she could see it looked dishevelled, as though it had been long-since abandoned, but she could also hear machinery running in the distance. They pressed on. For a few minutes, they walked in silence, until they saw someone fiddling with a console. "Hey!" Violet called out. But when the person heard her, they ran. "Catch him Vincent!" Violet yelled, reflexively running after the person as they'd already turned the corner. Vincent sprinted after Violet and brandished his cane as they turned the corner. He focused his will into the cane and pointed it at the runner, and then he summoned a gust of wind that crashed down the hall, condensing and moving flat across the floor as he commanded it, before it finally swept under the runner and sent him tumbling on to his back. "What the hell, man!" Yelled a girlish voice. Violet blinked, glancing at Vincent before cornering their fallen runner against the wall. "Alright no--hey!" Violet growled, seeing Amber's face beneath the hoody she wore. "What are you doing, Amber?" "Don't ask me that, you're on my property, Violet! That's my question to ask of you." Amber retorted, standing there with a wrench in-hand. "We were just out for a walk and uh..." Vincent cast his gaze around the room once, "Well geez...we really must have got lost." Amber noticed the man for the first time, "Who's the weird geezer with the stick?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. Violet rolled her head over to Vincent and smirked. "I hate teenagers..." Vincent grumbled. "Ditto. I'm 2,349 years old." Amber replied. Violet's mouth hung open for a moment, "Well... alright. Uh...?" Violet turned to look to Vincent. She was stumped by this revelation in truth, and furthermore she didn't know what to do with the fact that Amber offered it so willingly when she'd been so difficult with her before. "So what?" Vincent shrugged, "Unlucky for you I don't respect my elders, so why don't you tell us what you're doing?" "I've been tending to the rivers, streams and water in Lafayette for hundreds of years. I'm a Queen. I can feel the connection between all the water nymphs in this place, but slowly, over the years, they've been dying, disappearing. So... I needed to fix that." Amber stood up, then brushed down her clothes. "But, how?" Violet asked, "And why is Lucas here?" Amber's face blanched and she held her hand up, "I'm sorry, did you say Lucas is here?" "Well if you trust the intuition of a toy car then..." Vincent inclined his head slightly in mock consideration, "...yes, pretty sure he is." "Amber, how were you going to fix the dwindling Nymphs?" Violet steered the conversation back onto her. "Oh, well..." Amber shrugged, "I was changing some of the girls into Nymphs, of course. Not all of them, mind. Just the ones with real talent, the smart ones, the pretty ones, the ones that know how to get things done." "You can't just take girls and turn them into something they're not." Violet growled, personally offended. This wasn't a far cry off what her aunt had wanted to do to her. To turn her into someone she wasn't. She was outraged, but had to learn more. This wasn't the whole story. "I can!" Amber replied simply, "They want to become something else. Rachel told me herself. I didn't even offer it to her, she just sort of knew." "There isn't a teenager alive that doesn't want to be something else, you moron." Vincent said, "So what about the dead girls, Amber? Didn't like it when they slept with the enemy?" "What? What are you talking about?!" Amber yelled, getting angry. Her face flashed with blue, becoming transparent for a moment. "Slept with the enemy? What enemy?!" "Careful, Vince--" Violet warned, her face tensing. "Uh-oh, is that your glamour failing?" Vincent said mockingly, "You should probably do something about that." He pointed his cane towards her. "Quite a lot of Lucas' girlfriends seemed to have died recently, friends of yours. You spread a lot of rumours about Lucas, care to explain?" "Lucas is my ex, but he's not a killer! So what, I spread some rumours about him, I was mad alright? That doesn't make me a killer either." Amber tried to calm down, the flash of blue transparency vanished and she was a normal-looking girl once more. "If he's your ex, why's he here?" Violet asked. "We still hang out sometimes! It's complicated, alright." Amber retorted, slightly embarrassed. "Right. Highschool." Violet repeated, turning to Vincent, "I don't know what to do with this. I'd normally kick down a door and smoke everything inside. But this doesn't seem that open and shut." And as if on queue, Lucas appeared at the other end of the corridor. "Hey..." Violet turned to face the boy who stood in the doorway, blocking the light behind him. He took a couple of steps towards them, Violet tensed, then a noise ricocheted through the corridor. A ringing that deafened her. Lucas collapsed. Behind him, stood Rachel. She was holding a gun in one hand, and concealed something else in the other. "I finally found it..." Rachel smirked with a look of relief and satisfaction. "I knew I would..."
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