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Everything posted by Valentine

  1. Sorceri

    Morag stood, head jerking to one side and then the other, assessing the large, brass object in front of her. It looked as though it could hold her twice over, and was full of hot water. Steam was rising off the top of it. "Bath?" Morag quietly asked herself. She knew that word. Sort of. Get in, scrub, get out. Smell different. Smell strange. "Why bath?" Morag shivered, glancing at the brass bath and then back to Nazir who was holding a towel out to her. "Because you smell like rancid seawater." Nazir said with a smirk and gestured a little with the towel, "You'll feel better once you're clean I'm sure, or at least I'll feel better..." Morag took the towel and then turned and walked up to the bath. She wriggled free of her clothes. Standing there naked, her body was covered in scars, many of which looked like she had sustained serious wounds. Her black, inky hair only reached her chest but as she stepped into the hot bath, her hair continued it's waterfall cascade down her back and into the water, which rapidly turned as black as her hair. She sunk into the heat and sighed, closing her eyes for a moment in silence. "Bath is good." Morag muttered, "Ouch!" Morag recoiled inside the bath and looked around as though something had attacked her. "OW!!" She recoiled again and her stomach growled. "Our guts ache!" Morag looked to Nazir for an answer. Nazir's demeanour had changed slightly, he seemed a little uncomfortable suddenly. "I'll get you something to eat. What do you want?" he asked, his gaze fixed on a blank part of the wall. "We don't know..." Morag growled quietly, then her eyes blinked open. From somewhere, the sound of sizzling meat echoed in her ear. "Meat!" She proclaimed, splashing her legs in the bath. This was strange. But familiar. Pleasant, yet uncomfortable. Ridiculous, yet mundane. She studied Nazir's peculiar habits but couldn't understand his reasons, then returned to playing with the surface of the water. "Fine, I'll get you some stew." Nazir said, and he turned to leave the washroom, "Parr has left you out some clothes in the room next to this one. Report to her when you're done and I'll return with your food." He gave a stiff nod and then left. Morag refocused on the water when Nazir had left. She stared down into it's glossy blackness. Suddenly she sunk her head beneath the surface of the water, and touched the bottom of the bath. She could see very little beneath the water. The eerie green glow of her eyes illuminated the interior of the bath just enough she was able to trace the welding lines with her finger. It felt as though very little time had passed when she heard a loud surge as a pair of arms crashed into the water and frantically searched. Morag laughed, bubbles raising to pop on the surface. This was funny. She batted at the hands playfully and they refocused on her immediately. Snatching at her arms, they yanked as hard as they could and Morag breached the surface of the black water and was pulled from the bath by a woman and they fell to the floor in a heap. Morag looked down at the woman, dripping water and her long, inky black hair gently flowing down on her. "You are Par? Why do you pant and sweat, Parr?" Morag asked. "Get off me!" Parr - as it was, indeed, Parr - shoved Morag aside and stood up, patting down her uniform. She seemed more than a little shaken. "I came in to bring you your clothes and you were underwater, I thought you were drowning." Morag cocked her head at this, but said nothing. Instead, she addressed her want. She wanted the clothes that were promised to her. She saw them on the chair by the door and stalked over to them. They were new, and clean, but that meant little to her now. She only knew that it was supposed to be strange not to wear clothes. She saw their reactions to her without them. When she had finished dressing, Morag now saw her clothes were much like Parr's. They were blue, in a similar uniform fashion, with brown boots. Only, she noticed they didn't have any of the symbols and glittery medallions upon her own clothes. "You're not one of us, just because you're wearing that uniform." Parr cautioned her. Morag jerked her head up slightly and sat on the chair that had held her clothes. Parr spent a moment gathering herself and fussing over her uniform that was now covered in damp patches. She looked at Morag for a moment and scowled, "The Captain said you were a little touched in the head but..." She made a studious expression at Morag, her brow furrowing as she assessed her, "He's soft-hearted, not that he would ever admit it. What about you, Morag? Tell me about yourself." "What would we tell you?" Morag asked simply. Parr raised her brow at that, "You know like...where you come from, your family and friends, your job or..." She paused to consider, "Well...what duties you were assigned at least." She seemed to have made herself uncomfortable by saying that, "Sorry, Valkyr don't normally keep slaves. Your clan is somewhat special in that regard." "But..." Morag didn't understand, "... the man we met, he called us Valkyr. How can we be a slave, if Valkyr?" "You...don't know?" Parr asked, looking a little shocked, "Well then uhm..." She strode out of the room for a moment and returned with a thick book that she was busy flipping through, "Let's see...ah here it is - Lunéan clan. They led the last remaining Valkyr who had refused to swear fealty to the empire. It says here that their leader... Mordrang, well he entered in to a right of combat with the Emperor himself. He died in the fight and his people were to surrender as part of the agreement. His daughter... oh, wow." Parr paused for a moment, a little shaken by the words, "Mordrang's daughter ordered the armies to attack the Emperor, and then she fled the battle and committed suicide by falling from the cliffs. Valkyr traditions are quite sacred, Mordrang's daughter was branded a dishonourable coward, her actions cost the lives of many of their clan. It seems the remaining clan were enslaved and had their civil rights stripped as an example to be set for all other clans who think of betraying their ancient code." Parr had gotten a little absorbed in the text and wasn't even paying attention to Morag any more. Black tears streamed from Morag's eyes, she brought her hands to her face and brushed them away as they fell, but seemed equally perplexed, "We are coming undone..." "What?" Parr asked, looking up from her book. Before Morag could answer, however the door in the outer room sounded and Nazir called for them to come through. On the large table where their maps and books were stacked were also three pewter bowls of steaming stew. Nazir had picked one up already and scooped a spoonful into his mouth, and grimaced as he chewed on the meat. "Someone needs to tell these Valkyr what spices are." He moaned. Morag eyed the nearest bowl and swept down upon it within a moment, wasting no time she brought the bowl to her lips and slurped the stew from the lip. When she brought the bowl down she glanced at Nazir and parroted him, "Someone needs to tell us what spices are?" She asked. It was a serious question, but they seemed amused. "Ignore him he doesn't like any food that doesn't burn the roof of his mouth off," Parr said as she picked up her own bowl and ate a mouthful. She spoke again when she was finished, "So, Captain are you thinking she's possessed by a Daemon?" She asked, eyeing Morag to gauge her reaction. "I don't know. Shrike didn't seem threatened by her and I trust her instincts on such matters," Nazir explained, "Morag doesn't seem to remember much before she washed up on the shore. If we find her master perhaps I can petition them to release her. In Solaris slaves are freed if they bond a spirit usually, plenty of guilds pay slave debts off for a good sorcerer." "This isn't Solaris." Parr warned, "Morag's clan are stripped of their honour. They're essentially like a Valkyr version of Kalak." "Kalak have rights, I'm Kalak you know." Nazir said, frowning slightly. "You get my point." Parr said, "They are slaves because they are not even being given the chance to reclaim their honour. It's deeply personal to Valkyr culture." "If they don't give someone a chance to prove themselves then what honour do they really have?" Nazir replied, shaking his head. "What honour do we really have..." Again, Morag parroted quietly. The room fell silent at that, but she seemed unaffected by her own comment. "Give us that." She jerked her head at Parr's bowl of food, "We are not sated." "Manners cost nothing." Parr replied, and ate another bite of her food. "Here have mine, I can't stomach any more." Nazir said and handed his bowl to Morag, "Are you feeling any better?" Morag snatched the bowl, but jerked her head down slightly, as much a sign of thanks as she was willing to give and continued eating her second bowl of stew. "Our insides are quiet." She replied, between mouthfuls. When she finished she licked her lips with a long tongue and ran it across her canine fangs. At last, she seemed satisfied. But now she was alert. Her eyes darted around the room and swept over the table and maps and all these things she'd never seen before. "Why are you even dealing with this anyway?" Parr asked, "If she's not bonded with a Daemon then we don't have jurisdiction in this matter." "I'm just keeping an eye on her, I've never seen a bond where the spirit is... inside the human?" "Seriously?" Parr's eyes widened a little, "I seem to recall this really famous one, oh yeah, the Emperor!" "Oh..." Nazir hadn't seemed to have considered that, "That's different though, it's the Emperor we're talking about. He's a god." "I'm not comparing their power, just the process." Parr replied, "There's nothing that says a bond can't be done this way, in theory." Just then a black hawk-like bird flew through the open window and dropped a dead vole on the ground and stood next to it, looking very proud of herself.
  2. Sorceri

    Valkheim. 200 years ago. The cold, salty air buffeted her pale skin. Whipping her long, white hair about her face. Her long, pointed ears twitched at the sound of two people approaching, clad in armour. Morag yawned and rolled over, opening her eyes, which were a shade of crystal blue. She slept in a large tent. Larger than most, as she was the daughter of the Chief, Mordrang. Two figures paused outside her tent and stood in silence, casting a shadow over her. "Morag, your presence has been requested by Chief Mordrang!" A man yelled into the tent. "You'd better go." Morag glanced over and saw her partner, Grelka, had woken. Grelka had a thick mane of white hair that cascaded back and was woven into braids. "I suppose you're right." Morag muttered, sitting up. The covers fell from her and she stood and crossed the tent, pulling on a pair of dark brown trousers and a white blouse, she picked up her blade, a longsword, and fixed it to her belt. "I don't know how much longer we can do this." "What do you mean?" Grelka asked, brushing hair out of her face as she pulled herself up, drawing the covers close to her. "I mean... one by one, the clans are falling in line. Father says the Emperor wants to erase our way of life. Every day I wake up, I hear another clan has been... absorbed, into this Empire of his. Now our scouts say they've found the northern pass. We're next." Morag sighed, sitting at the side of the bed. "Remember who you are." Grelka cautioned her, "You're a Swordmaiden. You have to leave your feelings here, with me." "What if I can't?" Morag muttered, looking down at her hands. They were calloused and rough, scarred from years wielding the blade. "You have to." Grelka rested a hand on Morag's shoulder. They kissed. And Morag left. "Show me to my father." Morag barked, as she strode out of the tent. The men nodded and led her through the war camp. She heard the clash of metal on metal as hammer struck blade, still hot from the furnace. Sparks flew into the muddy, snow-blanketed path. A man was cooking fish over an open fire. While another man was dropping things into a stew pot. A woman passed her, and noted the scar on her collarbone. In the shape of a downwards facing crescent moon. The clan symbol of the Lunéan. Every Valkyr held a mark from their clan and she bowed to Morag. While the Lunéan. were the last free clan of the Valkyr, hundreds of other Valkyr from other clans had joined them in resisting the Empire. Morag returned the bow, when one of the men indicated the tent ahead of them. It was perhaps twice the size of her own, but then it also held the war table, with a map of the surrounding regions and all troop movements by the Empire. Morag knocked the cloth cover aside and stepped inside. Her father, Mordrang, noted her with indifference. He was flanked on either side by several warriors dressed in full armour. One man, three women. They were arguing with one another over the placement of the models that represented their forces. Morag had just long enough to notice just how few figures on the map belonged to their forces, and how many more figures were now planted on all sides but north of them. That was not useful, however. Only a few hundred feet to the north was Valk's shrine, and beyond that, only a sheer cliff. "Father." Morag nodded to him. "Oh, Morag... yes, good..." Mordrang looked up from the war table. "I want you to go to Valk's shrine." "Why?" Morag asked, frowning. She saw something in her father's face she'd never seen before. She didn't know exactly what it was, but it seemed like he was afraid. She opened her mouth to argue, she didn't want to go anywhere, but at that moment, a scout ran into the tent, unannounced. "What is the meaning of this?!" Mordrang snapped, angrily. The council of advisers fell silent. The scout stepped forwards, panting. "A dozen figures are coming up the southern path, Chief Mordrang!" His blade was already drawn. Mordrang crossed the room and grabbed his blade, a longsword like Morag's but it was longer and larger, and certainly a lot heavier. It took two men to carry that blade, but her father slung it on his back like it was an infant to be carried, unconcerned by the weight. "To arms, then. The Emperor has come for Valk, and we shall not give her to him." "I'll fight with you." Morag added, her hand on her blade's hilt. "YOU WILL DO AS YOU'RE TOLD!!" Mordrang roared, losing his temper. "For once... in your life, Morag. Do this, for me." Morag grit her teeth, her nails biting into the skin of her palm as she clenched her fists. "Fine. I'll go to the shrine." She started to leave. "Daughter!!" Mordrang called out, as her hand reached for the cloth partition. Morag glanced back and they shared a look for a moment, and then she was gone. Morag walked out into the frigid air once more. She was out of the camp within a few minutes, and she started up the steep path to the shrine. An ancient building that sat atop the cliffs. It was a long climb, but she had promised her father. What she would do when she got there, she did not know. She knew only that the Emperor was coming, and she was not allowed to fight. Tradition would not allow it. If both she and her father were killed, then who would lead the clan? Mordrang breathed a sigh of relief. His daughter was safe. For now, at least. "Gather all our remaining warriors. Today is a good day to die..." Mordrang reached over his shoulder and drew the blade from its scabbard and rested it on his shoulder. "Now let us go and see what the Emperor wants..." He stepped out of the tent, flanked by the four other warriors. As they moved through the camp, dozens more joined them. More and more joined their ranks until hundreds were marching down the path to the southern tundra. They walked in silence. Armour rattling. Swords clinking. Heads raised and sure footfall. The Valkyr had lived in the cold all their lives. They were accustomed to it. But it made outsiders sluggish. They were stronger, faster, more capable. One Valkyr Swordmaiden was equivalent to a dozen Solari fighters. But there was so few of them now. Less than a hundred. It wouldn't matter when the armies of the Emperor washed over them. Mordrang had never met the Emperor. He imagined he was like any other Mesmeri. Small, tan skin, round ears. But whatever else the Emperor was, he knew he was a threat. He had already gained the favour of the other clans, essentially undoing years of work. Mordrang had spent nearly two decades trying to unite the clans. Now the Emperor had all but done that under his rule. Mordrang stopped, his feet crunching in the snow. There ahead of them, lay the tundra. Snow slowly gave way to tufty grassland dotted with snow. It was still cold, but the bitterness had been taken from the air. About fifty feet ahead of them, stood a man dressed in a simple sarong, but he also adorned himself in golden bangles and braclets, jewels and all manner of finery. Mordrang - a Valkyr warrior - saw them as ridiculous trinkets. Unnecessary. He was used to a spartan way of living. "Greetings, Emperor Reshik Esperitus Hashiram!" Mordrang yelled, over the intermittent howl of the wind. "You've come a long way. The north isn't suited... for some. Perhaps you'd like to go home, sit inside your palace, and count your coin. I would gladly point you in the right direction." Mordrang held his sword forwards and pointed it to behind the Emperor. "It would be that way." The Emperor did not reply at first. He looked at Mordrang with a penetrating stare, golden lines within his pupils that were the shape of a five-point star. A buzzing ripple of energy cut through the wind from where the Emperor stood. "I have come to end this," his voice was deep and calm and carried in the distance even though he didn't appear to be yelling. "This need not end in the death of your people." Mordrang smirked. But he felt a shiver as his body tightened, he felt a kind of pressure coming from the Emperor. He had never known this power. The wind whipped his thick, mid-length white hair about his face, and watched as the Emperor stepped forwards of his accompanying figures. Mordrang gazed out and caught a face beneath a hood that he recognised. "Baldur!" Mordrang yelled. The figure recoiled, "Aye I see you, you old goat!!" "What of it?!" Baldur yelled back, standing behind the Emperor. "Valkyr do not bend the knee, Baldur! You and all your lot have forgotten the old ways!!" Mordrang spat on the ground. "The old ways are dead! The old gods are dead, Mordrang! They are spirits!! ONLY SPIRITS!!" "BAH!!" Mordrang snapped back, "So what of it, Reshik?!" Mordrang yelled, refocused on the Emperor. "You can prevent our deaths! You need only walk away. This, is our land. That," Mordrang pointed his blade to the building in the distance casting shade upon them from on high, "--is our shrine to Valk. And Valk, belongs to none. You have come to take her, or kill her. I cannot allow it." Reshik's expression did not change as Mordrang spoke, and after a moment he nodded his head just once. "I understand." He said, "Yet I cannot acquiesce to you. I am not taking this land from you, for this land has always been mine. Your Daemon is not welcome within my land, but your people are. I could see you made Highlord of Valkyr, Mordrang. Your people would be united under you. Daemons will be scoured from this land but all else can remain, and more could grow if your pride allowed it." There was sincerity to what he said, despite the measured tone. "You call them Daemons, but they're a terrible bondage for both host and spirit. You don't respect the sacrifice that's made when even one is bonded to you." Mordrang sliced a line through the snow and frozen mud and turf. "No further, Reshik. Our lands are ours and Daemon is an ugly word for a Spiritling. Take it back with you, if you like, and teach it to your court, i'm sure they'll have a great laugh." "You will not win." Reshik said with certainty, "You will die to protect the Daemon, I see that now but your traditions allow for it to end another way. I challenge you to fight me in combat for the fate of your people. If you die then they will surrender to me, and they will be spared." Mordrang felt the bite of the cold. He swallowed. He had never felt the cold, until now. The Emperor stepped towards him, and he felt a weight press against his chest. Mordrang lifted his blade, it was heavy. Heavier than he ever remembered. So this was what happened when a Spiritling took more and more until their power was leaking out of them. To him, it looked like the Emperor was broken, cracks of light almost seethed from him, but it didn't matter, it was terrifying. Mordrang roared in rage and bloodthirst. It was time to give his ancestors a song to sing in Korvortor, the after lands. Mordrang ran at Reshik, whipping his sword up through the air as he skid to a halt in front of the Emperor and swiped to cleave the man in two. There was a sudden rush of power and suddenly the sword shot off in the opposite direction, pulled by a powerful force. Reshik's eyes narrowed at Mordrang and then he forced Mordrang back with another blast of powerful wind. The snow flurried around Reshik in a spiral, and his clenched fist tightened as he took a step forward. As he slowly advanced toward Mordrang roots began to emerge rapidly from the ground beneath him, earth parted and rose into the air, orbiting the Emperor as ancient roots rose around him like a network of sentient vines. So, the stories were true. Mordrang brought his arms into his sides and focused, tapping a power he had kept caged for a long time. It's fury in being released was enormous, fire burned from within and before he knew it, it was around him in a swirling inferno. The other Valkyr retreated, even the Swordmaidens fell back. Mordrang stepped forwards, fire swirling around him, forming around his limbs and body. He felt a presence, then. I'm out. I'm out. It's time? The fire took shape, and when Mordrang stepped forwards, his Valkyr body was somewhere inside an enormous bear of living fire. When he spoke, it was like a combination of Mordrang and whatever was with him now. These are our lands. We hunt here. You are in our territory. LEAVE!!! Ursun. A spirit of the wild, one that was focused on the control of territory and those that violated its perceived boundaries. The Ursun/Mordrang bear of flame and anger charged Reshik, melting the snow with a hiss with each stomping stride. The bear roared, and a wave of heat struck the Emperor moments before the bear opened it's maw and leapt to strike. Reshik grimaced and shot his hand forward in a command and the roots suddenly began growing rapidly, exploding from the earth and coiling around the creature as it ripped and tore at the vines. rocks and earth rose up to compact itself between the vines, then Reshik countered with his own intense heat as fire scorched the compacted earth and rocks, melting them into a burning magma. Finally the magma cooled rapidly and became solid as the heat was sucked out of it. A small tower of scorched vines bound together by black rock now stood within the field, Mordrang contained within. The wind howled mournfully for a moment, and between them a cracking could be heard from within the structure. The rock exploded from within, as the bear grew to twice its previous size, it roared in anger and pain as it's fire went from red to blue and its heat grew ever more intense, then suddenly it was over. Mordrang jerked as something hit him. He looked down at his chest and saw his own blade. He reached to his chest and touched it as though he wasn't sure it was really there. His eyes drifted up, he saw the Emperor with his hand outstretched. It seemed, the act was over. He would never have been victorious. As he collapsed to his knees, the fire dispersed around him. Where do spirits go? To Korvortor...? Ursun asked. "I don't know..." Mordrang muttered aloud, and then as the Emperor approached him, he saw a figure standing behind Reshik. It was his daughter, Morag. There will be rage... "Don't--" Mordrang whispered, his world turning to black. "You're not-- supp-- be here..." He felt a hand grip the hilt of his blade. Morag screamed in horror and anger as her father's sword was yanked free of her father's corpse. The body collapsed to the ground, eyes glassy, staring to the sky as blood pooled around him. Her anger and hurt and sadness funnelled into outrage as her gaze fixed on Reshik. A dozen warriors, and three Swordmaidens stood between her and Reshik. Morag drew her blade. "You monster..." "He chose this," Reshik replied, his tone measured. "Do this and you will dishonour his sacrifice." "What good is honour, when we have forgotten all the songs and tales of our people. I defy you, and everything you stand for!" The Swordmaidens grew restless. "Don't do this!" Baldur piped up once more. "Morag! You have a greater responsibility--" "Kill them." Morag growled. The warriors charged, but the first to reach the Emperor were the Swordmaidens. Their blades fell at different points to cut the Emperor down but he was too fast, he spun, blocking two of the strikes and grabbed them, throwing them into the men behind him. The remaining Swordmaiden, clad in the typical white armour, charged and fought with the Emperor in one-on-one. The other two Swordmaidens easily dispatched several of the Imperial-sympathetic Valkyr Chiefs, but by the time they reached Baldur, vines struck them and pierced their bodies in multiple places, ending them. Then a gust of wind pulled the final Swordmaiden's feet out from under her, and a blade found her back. Morag ran. As she fled, the remaining warriors threw themselves in vain, upon the Emperor. Like a wave crashing against a mountain, it made little difference. She heard their screams as they were cut down. She had to reach the temple. She could hear rapid footfall behind her. The Emperor was not just following her. He was chasing her. She was in terrible danger. She heard Baldur screaming something as she raced up the old stone stairs. Disappearing into the shrine. By the time she reached the statue of Valk, the Great Raven, she heard the doors open a second time as the Emperor's shadow was cast through the shrine, shrouding her. "Great Raven, protect me, give me the strength to dispatch our enemy..." Morag put her hand to the breast of the stone raven. "Great Raven, help us in our time of need." The raven remained motionless, she heard footsteps. Morag whirled around and drew her blade as the Emperor approached. "I won't let you..." The blade was ripped from her hands and pinned to the wall. The Emperor narrowed his eyes at Morag. "Step aside," he ordered. Morag charged Emperor Reshik. Anger and sadness welled up inside her, and she gave in to her emotions. She grabbed for his throat, but this was not a being she had ever faced in combat before. He moved so quickly she barely understood what had happened. One moment he was there, the next he was passing her, and she felt a rip and something hit the floor as she suddenly felt lighter and off-balance. Then waves of pain tore through her and she saw her left arm had been severed. She fell to the floor as the Emperor passed her and stood before the Great Raven. "No..." Morag growled, picking herself back up. She turned and ran once more at the Emperor. He seemed absorbed, long enough that she was able to grab his neck from behind but then suddenly he was mist, he reformed behind her, and she felt the blade pierce her back and saw it extend before her. She felt the blade drag its way out of her body but she was numb to the pain now. She hit the freezing stone floor and blinked, trying to focus on the Emperor. A brilliant flash of green light, thunder, rain and lightning cracked inside the shrine. The statue glowed with green light as it gave off black smoke and pulled itself away from the stone itself. An enormous raven, formed of glowing green light and black smoke took flight. Morag heard the Emperor yell, and then something struck her in the chest with a force strong enough that she felt herself become airborne and land at the top of the stairs leading out of the shrine. There was footfall again. She had to get to her feet, now. Her doom was coming. Fleeing the shrine, Morag ran for the cliffs. The camp was overrun now. There was no going back. To her surprise, she saw that while she had been inside the shrine, the weather had changed. A storm had developed. Rain began to fall. Lightning flashed in the distance. And the sky grew darker and darker. Reaching the edge of the cliff, Morag looked down and saw the ocean churning below, crashing against the rocks. She glanced behind her, and saw the Emperor approaching her once more. She had only two options. Stay and die with certainty. Jump and die in all likelihood. "I defy you..." Morag repeated. One day, she would have vengeance. She would not die. Not today. Korvortor would have to wait a while longer for this warrior. Morag Lunéan, daughter of Mordrang, Chief of the Lunéan Clan, Captain of the Swordmaidens, leapt from the cliff. As she tumbled through the air, the spray from the ocean hitting her face as she descended. She saw the face of the Emperor, staring down from the edge of the cliff. Then her world collapsed in on itself, as the rush of water enveloped her and the world above became a murky illusion of light and memory. Valkheim. 200 years later. Darkness. She felt fuzzy. She couldn't focus. She tried to take a breath, and pain filled her. Her eyes shot open and she gagged on water. She kicked her legs with all the force she could muster, and just as her lungs were beginning to burn she breached the surface and took an enormous breath. She kicked with her legs, and her only arm. She only had one arm? The shore wasn't far, but it certainly wasn't any easier only doing it with one arm. She had to fight the current all the way there. When she finally pulled herself up onto the beach she was exhausted. Her clothes were in tatters. She checked herself over. Her left arm was missing. A large section of white scar tissue spread from her shoulder where an arm should have been. And there was a white scar in the shape of a large, slim diamond, both on her front and, as she discovered in checking,on her back as well. Where was she? It was freezing. Was that normal? "Who are we.. we?" She said aloud, her voice was authoritative, yet she hardly had the knowledge to back it up. And it had a kind of resonance to it, as though two were speaking at once ever so slightly out of sync. She coughed again, feeling a bit better and stood up. As she did so, she noticed she was a few feet from a harbour. It was completely unrecognisable to her. Ships were moving back and forth, people were everywhere, all kinds of people. Some of them looked like her, at least what she could see in the reflection of the water, but a great many more looked very different. None of them seemed to pay her any mind. Why would they? She was just some woman in rags. She felt strange. Like she was having a conversation with herself. Her thoughts were all jumbled up, and she couldn't remember anything. "Hey!!" A voice called. She looked up and saw two men in light armour with an emblem of a wolf on their uniforms. That emblem meant something, but she couldn't think what. Had she known? "Look!" One of the men said, "She's got a Clan mark of Lunéan. Black hair, but... I know that symbol anywhere. She's probably run off from her Master-- Hey!!" He yelled down at her, "Wait there!!" She bolted. She knew that whatever was going on, these men were not here to help her. She ran as fast as she could, but she felt so weak. Suddenly, as she turned a corner, she bumped straight into one of the men who wrestled her to the ground. "Alright, alright, that's enough o' that, you're spendin' the night in a jail--hey!" The guard paused and looked her over, "There's something wrong with her..." "Don't worry 'bout that, just report it to that Sorceri and maybe we'll get a reward," The other guard chuckled and leaned over her, "An' in the mornin' we're findin' your owner." "NOTHING OWNS US!!" She snapped, the very idea of this suddenly enraged her. She began to thrash violently. Something would take her freedom away? She was freedom. She was flight. She was... something struck her in the back of the head, and everything went dark. When her eyes next opened, she was in a cell. It was freezing and damp, but she was alive. She didn't even know who she was. But she was alive, and that was a start. She heard footsteps. The voice of a man talking to someone. He was describing something. "Like a Valkyr woman, only hair is black an' it's like... smoke or ink or somethin', an' her eyes are green. Green-eyed Iceheart, ya ever hear a such a thing?! An' talkin' funny--" She listened intently. A Valkyr? She was a Valkyr woman, then. She reached up with her right arm and brushed hair out of her face. They were right, it was almost like a waterfall of ink pouring over her head and vanishing around her chest. When she moved it with her hand, it was like correcting a trail of water, laced with black smoke. But she was not so different from them. These beings were like water too. But she was even wetter than they were. Is that what it meant to be Valkyr? But she felt like a storm, a tempest, a-- then she saw a face that made her angry for a reason she couldn't describe. She didn't know why it made her angry, but she knew she was in danger. Like an instinct. She fled to the back of the cell, into the shadows. Her eyes, glowing in the darkness, black and emerald smoke rising from them. The guard banged on the cage, "Aye she's in there alright, Master Sorceri. She's a Daemon i'd wager, an' uh, don't suppose... there's a reward?" The iron bars of the cell clanged as she slammed her body against the metal, one black-clawed hand outstretched, she bore her teeth, which were more like fangs and grasped at the air, inches from the man with the face she hated, "Why do we hate you?!" The guard leapt out of his skin and recoiled until his back slammed up against the wall. But the man she hated, well... he didn't move an inch.
  3. Darkpine Valley

    The engine of the Pontiac GTO muscle car roared with bubbling menace as it glided through the winding roads framed by nationally-protected forest on either side. The enormous pine trees glistened off the ruby red, well-maintained body of the vintage car. A voice wailed from inside the car, the radio playing 'Immigrant Song' by Led Zeppelin. A pale hand tapped on the driver's wheel, their nails almost like claws, filed to a point and painted with black nail polish. She leant back in her chair and shoved her boot up against the wheel, holding it steady. Reaching into her black jean pocket, she pulled out a black lipstick and re-applied then took the wheel once more. Her amber-coloured eyes glanced at her road map. The town of Darkpine was only another mile into the heart of the national forest. Up until the 1980's, Darkpine had been a mining and logging town. When the surrounding forest became protected land, all industry stopped and Darkpine became focused on conservation, education, and wildlife protection, which brought in tourists and all kinds, but it kept the town afloat. So said the flyer, at least. She wasn't coming to Darkpine for the conservation though, unless that is, it was her own. Her name was Alice, and she had seen a few things. A few things that most people would scarcely believe, even if they saw for themselves. She brushed her medium-length scruffy raven hair out of her face and refocused on the road. She saw a sign approaching but her keen eyes quickly noticed it was so worn that it was illegible. There was a gas station coming up, and from there, several roads going in every which way. She'd have to stop and ask for directions. Alice pulled into the gas station and killed the engine. The music continued to wail until she hit pause and got out of the car. As she did so, two men stepped out of the gas station shop and approached with a wave. "Evenin' miss!" The man called out, "Hang on--" He leaned over and pressed a button, the gas station lit up with an assortment of lights. "Sorry, I know it's already pretty dark but we're savin' energy, gotta be mindful o' the environment, y'know?" Alice smirked, canines gleaming, "Sure." She looked the man up and down. He was tall, balding, wearing denims. Alice glanced behind him and her eyes were met by the second man. This man, she did not like. She recognised in something she knew all too familiar. He was quiet. He was meticulous. He was a predator. When her eyes caught his, he looked away sharp. "So," She turned back to the man in denim, "Which way to Darkpine?" "Darkpine!?" Denim repeated, blinking in surprise, "What'd ya wanna go there for, Miss--?" "Alice. Do people need reasons t'go places these days? What's it to you?" Alice asked, putting a hand on her hip, her tone accusatory. "Oh no, nothing. Just bein' curious is all, sorry, Miss. Take the road to the left there, you'll be on Darkpine in no time." "Thank ye." She nodded to him, then jerked her head at his colleague who was now walking back to the pumps, "What's up with him?" "Oh, don't mind him, Tom's a good kid, wouldn't hurt a fly." He brushed her off, "Name's Jack. I'm the only gas station for miles, well..." He paused, irritably. "Well?" Alice asked, her brow raising. "Besides that one in Darkpine, lord knows how they got the contract to that town when i'm stuck out here on Route 14, but--" Jack took a deep breath and shook his head, "That family's old as this wood, so what's a guy t'do?" He laughed and started back towards the pumps. "Bathrooms over yonder," Jack nodded in their direction, "If you want something to eat, or fuel up or anything just come in the shop, we'll sort you out." And with that, he left. Alice whipped the keys around on her finger a few times, considering her options. Throwing the keys into the air, she snatched them and shoved them into her pocket. The gas station door jingled as it opened. Jack's eyes lit up and he nodded to her, "What'd ya need?" "Wanna fill up the tank for me?" Alice asked, flashing a wad of notes. She paid for the gas upfront and walked outside as both Jack and Tom rushed to service the car. Jack grabbed the gas and started filling it up, while Tom was hoovering the inside. Alice tapped her short-cut leather jacket. She felt the pack of cigarettes inside and reached in, pulling one out and lighting it. She took a deep drag, savouring the flavour for a moment, then exhaled it from her nose like a dragon and wandered into the women's bathroom. To her great surprise, the bathroom was incredibly clean. She figured they didn't get many visitors. She crossed the bathroom and entered the furthest stall. She had time enough to close the door, when she heard the bathroom door open, and a second person walked in. To the average person, it could have been anyone. But Alice knew who it was. She recognised his smell. She felt the weight of his footsteps. And he favoured his right leg. His heart was also beating out of his chest, just as it had been when he first saw her pull up. The old work boots stomped across the slightly damp tiled floor. She heard him pause at the first stall. Alice walked to the back of her stall, put the seat of the toilet down, and sat upon it. A few more steps. The door to the second stall was knocked open. A moment's silence. Then more footsteps. She looked to the bottom of the stall, and saw a shadow cast from the other side. She could feel the heat of his body. Then it happened. Tom kicked the stall door open with a single attempt and took one step towards her. He didn't speak, he didn't even really acknowledge her. He let out a long-held breath, and advanced. "Aww for Christ sake, would you look at all o' this..." Police Chief Andy Marchand growled in disgust. He had just arrived after poor Jack, the owner of the gas station on route 14 had reported an animal attack. Whatever it was had gotten Tom. There was nothing to be done. When Andy stepped under the yellow police tape and walked into the bathroom, he had to steel himself or lose the contents of his stomach. It was bad. Real bad. He almost tripped on something as the front of his foot got caught. He looked down to see a clutched hand and stumbled back, "Aww Christ, geezus!!" He croaked, but he hadn't even seen the worst of it. Blood everywhere. On the walls. On the ceiling, still dripping down onto them like it was raining indoors. The body was in several pieces, and it had lost most of the blood. That much was obvious, from the copious amounts splattered on everything in the bathroom, and the grey, wrinkled body. "Fuck." Andy cursed, clenching his fists. "FUCK!!" His yell echoed across the bathroom. A flash brought him back to his senses and he saw a woman taking photographs of the fallout. Another flash from her camera. "Hey!" He called out to her, "You got a sec?" Andy asked. "Sure." She let the camera fall limp around her neck and carefully crossed the room, missing the worst of the blood pools. "What's up, Chief?" "Is this the only body?" He queried. "Yep. Jack said there was a girl came through here not long before the attack, but luckily she left before whatever it was took out poor Tom over there... and there... and there." She pointed at the dismembered arm. "Well i'd like to speak to her, maybe she saw something before she left, or maybe she left quick because it was already there when she left..." Andy rubbed his face, running his hand through his thick moustache as he often did when he found himself thinking. "Did you get a name?!" He yelled out to Jack, who refused to come back inside the bathroom. "WoooOO!" Alice hooted, "Now we're cookin' wit' gas!" Her playful drawl was unmistakably from New Orleans. The Pontiac sped past a sign saying 'Welcome to Darkpine!', as Alice used her long tongue, to lap up the last streaks of blood on her lips. Darkpine was a small town, population of a few thousand. Most everybody knew everybody. Facebook made that all too clear. Alice threw her phone onto the passenger seat and then glanced up in the rearview mirror. "Dang it!" She pursed her lips as she reached back for her lipstick again. She found it and looked at the road ahead. She was coming up on the other side of the town, almost home. One last road, pub on the left. Not a car or person in sight. Alice glanced up, quickly grabbing her lipstick. She rolled it across her lips, pursed and rolled her lips so that it re-applied. Her eyes caught movement in her periphery but by the time she looked, it was too late. A drunk, stumbled out into the middle of the round, and she had been speeding. There was nothing Alice could do. An instant later, she hit the man, her windshield cracked and he flew out ahead of her as she brought her car to a screeching halt. The man hit the concrete, she heard a terrible 'crack' and he tumbled and finally hit a tree on the other side of the street. Alice hesitated behind the wheel. Alice felt the need to bail on this situation looming. Self-preservation. She was very good at that. But now she wasn't sure. Alice hesitated. But then she saw a couple walking towards the body. "Aw SHIT!!" Alice leapt out of her car and sprinted towards the couple, "Sir! Ma'am!!" She yelled out. "Hey is that man--" The man squinted in the darkness, the nearest street lamp was too far away. Alice caught up to them, "Sorry folks, sorry! Don't mind my friend, he's had one too many." "He looks hurt!" The woman gasped. "Hurt?!" Alice whipped her head back to look at the man. He looked, well... he looked dead. His limbs were splayed in all directions and his neck was definitely snapped. But then she realised. It was as though it hadn't registered at first. This man, the one she had hit with her car, was not dead. Well, he was dead. But only as much as she was. Alice looked him up and down, "Well... maybe a little more dead..." She thought aloud. "What--?!" The man yelled in surprise, "Did I hear that right?!" "Bed... BED!!" Alice clicked her fingers at them and laughed, "Sorry. Bed. Maybe he needs a little more bed, y'know. Time to sleep." She ran over to him and picked him up, "See he's fine look, he's helping me carry his weight look, i'm five foot nothin' and half his weight, for sure." The man looked to the woman and she shook her head insistently and the pair darted off. "Right then..." Alice muttered, turning and hoisting the corpse of the man onto her shoulder effortlessly. "Come on, then, best get you home..." With the Pontiac parked, Alice got out of the car and pulled the stranger's corpse with her, shutting the door behind them and locked it. "Welcome to ma maison!" She cooed as she walked up the drive to a modern-looking house with lots of glass - though it was all deeply tinted, nothing could be seen of the house inside. "Just like the estate agent said--" She pulled the house keys from inside the soil of the potted plant beside the door. Opening the door, she pulled the corpse inside and shut the front door behind her and locked it. "Best get ya some fresh clothes or somethin'..." He was mangled. Alice frowned and went into the kitchen and came back with two glasses and three bags of blood. The first bag, she pierced with one of her nails and then emptied the contents down the corpse's throat. Then she stood over him, grabbed his head and with incredible precision - perhaps as though she had done this a great many times before - she snapped his neck back into place. Then she sat back down, and pierced the other two bags and emptied them into the glasses. By the time they were full, she heard moaning. She brought one to her lips and took a sip, then offered the other to the man who still had several bad injuries that required healing. "So..." Alice held the glass out to him, "You're a vampire? Like me, then." She smirked, her canines hanging over her bottom lip.
  4. Amegakure

    [Morning] It was a new day in Amegakure. The rain that blanketed the city more often than not had abated just enough that smiles seemed to be on people's faces. A young girl with snow-white hair walked down the street, dressed in a cream-coloured kimono, with a flower blossom print. Her skin was almost as pale as her hair, but her eyes were a brilliant light blue. She had feminine features and almond-shaped eyes but was a little short for her age, even if she was 13. She weaved through the crowd, walking on traditional wooden geta. A small book clutched to her chest. Droplets splashed down off the guttering and rooftops of the city around her, while the merchants set their stores ready for the day. She crossed off the main path and disappeared down a back alley until she came to a large tree, surrounded by a small courtyard. It was quiet and intimate here, with only the wafting lines of clothing from the houses around the courtyard, blowing in the breeze. The white-haired girl walked up to the tree, turned and sat. Crossing her legs and pushing her back into the trunk of the tree. And just like that, practically on queue, it started raining again. It never stopped raining for very long in this city. You could count on maybe a few minutes to a few days, and then it would start raining again. She heard the tree getting pummelled by the rain, but it was running off and away from her. She sighed, enjoying the rattle of the water on the leaves and opened her book. A resounding thunk interrupted the gentle rhythm of the rain as a grocery bag fell from the sky and crashed into the ground, spilling it's contents all over the path. A few moments passed with nothing else happening, and then a figure shrouded in a dark green poncho hopped around the courtyard using balcony fences until he finally reached the ground and ran over to the grocery bag. When he reached it he cursed softly and scrambled to start picking up all the groceries. When he picked up the box of eggs the contents dripped out over his hands and he dropped the box back on the ground. "Aw c'mon..." He said with a sigh, "Guess I'll have to go back." He started seeing what else he could salvage, until the girl under the tree finally caught his attention and he turned to her looking a little startled, and then embarrassed. She held the book up to her mouth and chuckled, then closed the book and placed it on her lap. "Good morning, Shinobi-sama." Her voice was soft and full of cheer. She bowed slightly, with only her head. "I'm Kaguya Yui, pleased to meet you." The boy stood up properly with the grocery bag and tipped back his head to reveal his face. "Yo," He said casually, "I'm Uketsuki Sora, pleased to meet you too, Kaguya-san." "Ah, so you would be Uketsuki Satomi's son, then." Yui smiled at the boy, "Yes, I think, you must be an academy student? I'm home-schooled. My mother and grandfather teach me. But I still had to take and pass the exam to become a Genin. Luckily, it wasn't too bad, ne?" "Peace of cake." Sora replied with a smirk, "So you're a genin now too, huh? I guess you won't know anyone if you're home-schooled. Do you know who you're being paired with?" "No, I was told--" Yui trailed off, her eyes wandered down to the bag in Sora's hand, the bottom of it wasn't torn from the weight of the groceries inside, it had been sliced open from the bottom. A clean cut. Her eyes lit up as she felt the approach of projectiles. [Reverse Situation] Yui spun around, kicking away two of the thrown kunai and leapt back as a foot attempted to sweep her supporting leg, she cartwheeled backwards and landed on the courtyard stone as the shadow dropped a smoke bomb and vanished. Who was attacking them?! She wanted to know Sora was alright, she could hear footsteps all around her, the sound of clashing metal. Then something glittered in the smoke and Yui deftly dodged to one side as the kunai flew past her head, but as soon as she'd moved a fist came flying towards her. But her reflexes were honed like a well-kept weapon. She deftly spun to one side, and leapt into the air to kick her attacker in the head. Two rock hard fists knocked each of her kicks aside as she whirled in the air like an acrobat, compensating for the loss of momentum due to her attacker's strikes, and launched off from the ground with her hands, knocking aside two more thrown kunai and landed with a soft tap. She had to stay quiet, she couldn't call out to Sora. He had to be okay... but she could hear the clash of battle somewhere else in the smoke. A sudden gust of wind swirled around the courtyard and carried upwards in a spiral, taking the smoke up with it and revealing the courtyard once more. Sora was crouched on the front of his feet, his hands forming a seal. Somewhere in the scuffle he had discarded his poncho. He had a few scuff marks about him and he was panting heavily, but otherwise seemed okay. The attacker was nowhere to be seen. "Are you alright?" Yui asked, remaining motionless. Her eyes scanning the environment for movement. "I'm fine." Sora replied, his eyes also searching the area. "How about you?" He asked. "Confused." Yui replied, the smile on her face had barely lessened, "Their attacks are too advanced for most in our class, and a ninja from another village wouldn't bother with a couple of genin..." She drew a kunai from within her kimono and held it up, ready to defend herself. "That would depend on who the genin are," Sora replied, "Younger ninja are an easier target for stealing clan secrets and special bloodline techniques. More importantly... the attacker fled when I blew away the smoke, which could mean keeping their identity hidden was a priority." "But they cut your bag, not your throat, ne?" Yui smirked and waited. The rain intensified. "You're right...which means..." Sora's brow furrowed as he recalled the events prior to this, "I wouldn't have even come down here if the bag hadn't been cut. Which means whoever is doing this wanted me down here... wanted me to meet you." [Nervousness] The realisation seemed to come a little late, however, as a dark mist seemed to be rolling in from every direction. It was quickly getting as thick as the smoke bomb, but it stretched out even further and seemed less likely to shift in a breeze. Sora managed to reach Yui before he lost sight of her and he stood so that their backs were facing. "Aww... so adorable." The voice echoed through the mist, a deep but feminine voice with a taunting tone to it, "What's the next move, chumps? Have you figured it out?" "Sora, you should know, they might be here for me, i'm a--" Yui knocked a thrown kunai aside with her own and readied for the next attack. "... do something." Yui whispered to Sora, "Distract her. Anything." Yui took a step away from Sora and vanished into the mist. The mist was clawing around her. Hugging her, suffocating her. But she weathered it. She could feel movement around her, but she didn't know where it was coming from. Yui held her breath. She had trained for this, she was ready to fight. She wanted to fight. Reading and chatting were their own things. But this was combat, and her eyes were alive. She glanced one way and then another, making her way through the mist. "The great thing about this ninjutsu is that it distorts my voice, making it hard to locate where I am until it's too late." The voice echoed all around her, but then right at the end it became more localised, like it was right behind Yui. "Kaguya-kun..." The voice said from right behind her, the attacker's grey face appeared from the mist over her shoulders, her white eyes wide with anticipation, her serrated teeth fixed in a hungry, sinister smile as she drove the kunai down at Yui's neck. [Beautiful Wild Green Beast] Like a whirling dervish, Yui spun around without warning and kicked at her attacker who jumped back to avoid the strike but Yui followed her with a speed she hadn't shown until now. She was upon the woman in an instant. Yui kicked twice more, each strike thumping the woman's forearm as she blocked but was knocked back a step from each of Yui's powerful strikes. Yui moved like a flash, dashing one way and then the other, throwing kunai at the woman who deflected them with ease. Who was she? Why was she here? Yui finally saw her chance, as the woman moved back, losing further ground, the back of her heel caught on a loose stone and she stumbled, for only a moment. That happy accident was all she needed to take advantage. She flew forwards, dodged the woman's obvious counter-attack, and thrust her palm into the woman's torso, a bone spike shot out from the centre of Yui's forwards-facing palm and impaled the woman. She held the spike in her hand for a moment, shocked, and then she melted into a puddle of water. "A clone..." Yui held her hand up and retracted the bone spike back into her arm, her skin naturally healing closed, leaving not so much as a scar to show it had ever been broken. This was her kekkai genkai. The Kaguya were master manipulators of their own bodies, in particular, their bones. However, the talent was extremely rare, only 1 in every 100 are born with the skill. And of those, maybe only 1 in a generation ever has the skill to wield it as she did. She was her clan's last true survivor. She was not going to let them go extinct today. "Sora...!" Yui turned and ran back the way she'd come. [Orochimaru's Fight] As Yui returned to Sora the mists seemed to lighten a bit, and they revealed Sora was trapped, suspended in a sphere of swirling water, and was floating limp and lifeless. Standing next to him, with one hand outstretched to control the jutsu, was the attacker. She was an average height woman with grey skin and eyes that were almost white. Her teeth were serrated like a sharks, her spiky black hair was cut short and pointed out to one side. The forehead protector she wore had the symbol of Kirigakure across it. "Whoops... he's dead." She said with a shrug and gave Yui a fierce grin, "Are you next? Or will you come with me alive, Jinchuriki?" "So you know..." Yui smiled to herself. So, a Mist nin was here to kill her. She had been told this might happen. The Jinchuriki were weapons, of a sort. Weapons of defence, or mass destruction. They were a form of mutually ensured destruction, that kept the villages in-check with one another. For a village to gain another Jinchuriki, it would be an enormous advantage. And what was a Jinchuriki? A host to a demon. A tailed beast, formed of pure chakra, the energy they accessed within themselves. Two years ago, the beast had been sealed within her, and now it seemed, on the day of her first Genin mission, she was forced to fight for her life. That boy was dead, she barely knew him, but he was a part of this city, and now it was her duty to protect the people remaining. [Fake] "Nah it was just a shot in the dark!" With a roll of her eyes and a sly grin, "You've got a dangerous look in your eye, I like that. You failed already though." The woman dropped her arm and the water prison collapsed, and Sora lay limp on the ground but breathing. "Allow me to introduce myself..." She said as she snapped her fingers and the symbol on her forehead protector changed from mist to rain. "Kirisame Omitsune, I'm your jounin leader!" She held her hands up like she'd announced the winning lottery numbers or something and gave a toothy smile, "Oh and he's fine by the way I just knocked him out. I'll explain it to him when he wakes up." Yui lowered her hands and crossed the courtyard back to the tree, picked up her book and sat down. "Thank you for the work-out, Sensei." She said, smiling. Then sat, crossed her legs, and re-opened her book. Licking her finger, to turn the page. "You failed your teammate." Omi said darkly, "Despite your clear skill with taijutsu and the trump card of your bloodline ability it was Sora kun who made the best decisions. Neither of you have what it takes to beat me, but together you might have escaped me. We'll be training every day until you can prove to me you really are a genin." Omi turned to rouse Sora from his sleep, "Oh and don't use the J-word in front of Sora, he doesn't know about it, and we're keeping it that way for now, clear?" Turning the next page, Yui looked up from her book, "As you like, Sensei." An interesting turn of events. Her sensei was the kind of person to put her students in danger to test them. Maybe they had decided to pair her with someone who could stop the demon inside her, if it ever got out... Yui gripped the cloth of her kimono, glancing at Omi, "What now?" She asked, with a quizzical smile. "You have your first mission." Omi said with a grin. "Hwa? a mission?" Sora asked groggily, "Who are you?" "Omi, your boss lady." Came the reply, "And your mission is..." Omi pointed over to the far corner of the courtyard where there were two metal litter pickers and two trash bags sitting against a wall. "Litter picking duty!" Omi said with mock enthusiasm as she began to walk away, "And that's all you'll be doing until your training is complete. It's all you're fit for." [Kakashi's Theme] "Uwa!" Yui gasped as an awning above her collapsed under the weight of the rain, drenching her instantly. Thunder boomed in the distance. So, Omi really hadn't been kidding about cleaning up litter. She jabbed a piece of litter with her picker and placed it in the bag, then another, and another. She watched Sora a few paces ahead of her, poking bits here and there. Yui spied an old tin can, she made a beeline and with a smirk tried to pierce the can-- snap! The picker broke in two. "Ehh?!" Yui gasped and stood staring at the mess on the ground. "Ah--" She held her arm out, and a long spiked bone ejected from the centre of her palm and as it detached and flew out, she caught it with her already healed hand. It was like a needle but the size of a sword, and several times stronger and sharper than a metal instrument. With a squeak, the bone needle pierced the tin can like it was a styrofoam cup. Then she jabbed the old picker and placed both in the litter bag. "Sorry I got us in this mess." Sora said with an annoyed frown, "This is worse than school and I didn't think that was possible." "I should not have left you." Yui replied, giving him a smile, "I am the one at fault." Yui finished picking up the litter in her area and as she looked up to move on, she thought she'd seen something hiding in the shadows in the corner of the street. But when she moved her eyes to focus on it, there was nothing there.
  5. Hallows S2

    "What's our standpoint on eating on a grave, then?" Violet asked to the air, unwrapping a taco. It never took long to find a graveyard. Although, this one had seen better days. Grass ran over most of the old graves. A small pink orb illuminated the graveyard for several feet in all directions, floating over Violet's shoulder as she bit into a taco, sat upon a grave while Vincent was busy drawing symbols in chalk on an area of the ground they'd sanctified. While he worked, Violet finished wolfing down her food and then grabbed the remaining taco and held it up, when she pulled her hand away, it remained floating on the spot and began to glow pink. Ancient words recited in a hushed tone, and something appeared in front of her. It appeared for a moment, snatched the food in front of her, and was gone. Violet was sure she knew what it looked like, but when it was gone, it was just a cloud of shadow. "Cool. That's the offering out of the way, and--" She looked over to see Vincent dropping little stones with runes etched into them, scattering them around the summoning site. She'd never seen so many charms, protection spells, cleansing rites and magical barriers erected in one spot before. That, in itself, was dangerous. There is such a thing as being 'too safe'. Magic does, after all, tend to attract trouble. "-- you done?" She asked her brother. "Almost..." Vincent said after a long pause, his attention seemed focused on the task more than Violet. With the final placement of a rune-engraved stone there also came a strange pressure to the air, like everything had just been wrapped in plastic wrap. As Vincent stepped inside the outer circle of their spell the runes lit up on the stones, and a green aura began to emanate from the patterns of salt that were shaped into all manner of ancient symbols; Chinese, Egyptian, Sanskrit and a smattering of others. "Are you ready?" He asked Violet, and he looked at her with a hardened expression. He was focused, but he clearly wasn't thrilled about what they were doing next. "How am I supposed to be ready for this, i've no idea what to expect, things that came naturally to me, it's like fighting through treacle now... more focused, less capable... I think..." Violet frowned and then shook off her confusion. She couldn't dwell on that now. Now was the time for action. "So, you want to take the lead on this? I'm kind of-- not as--?" Violet scowled. "I'll take care of the technical stuff." Vincent assured as he sat himself down on a pre-designated spot within the circle. He crossed his legs lotus style and took in a deep breath, and then exhaled just as slowly and purposefully. "Just lend me your mojo. Spells are stronger the more will you put into them, three would be better but I figure we're already pretty jacked in the mystical muscles department, so it'll be fine...probably." "Well now i'm really confident." Violet muttered, half-joking with a pained smirk. "... I'm ready when you are." Vincent didn't reply verbally. He had closed his eyes and had been focusing on his breathing. As he fell deeper and deeper into a trance-like state, the environment began to react to his will. The ambient noise that normally filled the silence just stopped. No wind, no birds, no distant car engines, just endless, crisp silence. Vincent's breath became visible on every exhale, like he was breathing out an aura or energy rather than just air. Then the world seemed to crack like glass. The circle split and broke apart, reflections of itself refracting upon themselves over and over. The graveyard scene became confusing and treacherous within moments, as a deep, true darkness engulfed the outside of the circle. However, the circle itself was growing, splitting off into fractal reflections of itself, and in each version a Vincent and a Violet. Reflections, but not the kind you found in real mirrors. They were real, or as real as anything was in this place. The Void was emptiness. The dark space in between all things, a place where there was a vast nothingness, but where everything existed in some strange paradox. Simple ideas, dreams and imaginings could become a reality within this realm. It did not obey the laws of the physical world, and even under the influence of a practitioner's will the realm could become quickly confusing, and many could lose their minds to this place, simply by attempting to understand it. There was a ripple within the tumbling mess of fractal realities, a pulsing, steady power that seemed to permeate throughout each. It pulled on them, gripping each reflection and pulling it tightly. The reflections began to merge and form a new, single reality. Vincent opened his eyes finally, and now the circle they had created had become an enormous platform floating through an endless abyss of darkness. He looked around them to see patches of floating bits of the graveyard just bobbing along as if gravity didn't affect them anymore. "Well..." Vincent said as he stood up, "Yep... this place still gives me the heebies... and also the jeebies." "I remember feeling comfortable here, like I was taking off a heavy jacket at the end of a long day." Violet looked out across the shadowy hellscape, "Now, it's just like anywhere monsters lurk..." Violet squinted as she looked into the darkness, where vague shapes of landscape could be glimpsed. "I'm not expecting it to take very long for our presence to be noticed. I just don't know what to expect, Vael often appeared when I came here, but she's worryingly absent now... never thought i'd say that." "Nothing is getting in without an invitation." Vincent said, an he sounded fairly certain of that, "That was the point in the....split." Vincent shivered a little, "They might have just been reflections in the physical world but reality isn't a concept that holds much weight here. The purpose was to rework the spell, over and over, across multiple realities, or non-realities...Im never quite sure how to refer to it accurately." Vincent paced around the new circle, which was now about the size of a freaking Walmart store. "This is the best I can offer you. A little playground on the edge of nothingness that we can let loose in. Demons and spooks can't get in here unless we summon them...and hopefully the same rules apply for these...orb thingies." "I'd like to think..." Violet paused, she felt like every little hair on her body stood on end at once. The feeling was mirrored in Vincent's expression. From the darkness ahead of them, over the rise, came a procession of twinkling lights. "Should we be pleased we found them already...?" "The sooner I get out of this realm the better, Vi." Vincent replied, "Better put our game faces on." He looked down at his black jeans and grey stone roses T-shirt, "Starting to think I should have worn a cool coat or something..." "Well i'm glad you've still got a sense of humour..." Violet muttered back. The orbs grew in size, until their forms shifted. Light grew in radiance from the cores of the orbs, but the light expanded and took physical form. Violet noticed they looked similar to her own appearance as a Nagloshi, but they were all white, not purple. It was like staring directly at the sun and made her uncomfortable and dazed for any more than a few seconds. She found herself looking at them through the shutters of her fingers. "Why did you hurt me?!" Violet called out to them. They seemed to ignore her for a moment, talking with one another quietly until the smallest of the group stepped forwards and looked them over. Her form was feminine, her hair - if you could call shifting strands of light hair - was short and spiky and danced around like she was in a wind tunnel. "They're mortals, do you see?" She said, without looking back at the others. "Hey, i'm speaking to you!!" Violet growled. "They're human." She added, her eyes lazily inspecting them, "I don't know, they have rudimentary understanding of cosmic magic. No. This one--" She pointed at Violet, almost hitting her in the nose in the process. "Hey!!" Violet reflexively slapped the... she had no word for her yet... but she slapped aside her hand. "Violent. Irrational." Then she was stood in front of Vincent, examining him. "Shall I remove them?" "Why do all you 'higher being' types talk to us like we aren't here?" Vincent asked, he didn't seem especially shaken by what she had said, "I mean you're speaking English or using some sort of psychic communication, either way you're making an effort to speak with us in a way we understand but continue speaking as if we can't understand you. Are you trying to appear intimidating? You just come off as assholes, y'know." "Intimidation tactics, basic reasoning, attempt at provocation." She turned her head, the way a dog or bird might, then looked back to the other orbs, "Then what?" "Violet, your ancestors are kinda rude... I think even Vael's less intentionally difficult than this..." He gestured at the creature's 'hair' , "Pixie?" He smirked, "My name is Vincent Hallow. You're currently standing in our domain." He gestured to Violet as he spoke, "We have questions. Depending on your answer, we might have to tangle. Not a threat, just a fact. So tell me Tinkerbell, do you want to proceed civilly or not?" "Pixie..." She repeated thoughtfully, but her interest lay in the other name drop. "'Vael'?" Pixie's eyes locked on Vincent, "Where is Vael? She is the other." "Don't know, don't care." Vincent replied, "We're here to talk about Violet." He gestured once again to his sister, "You'll have to excuse her as she appears to be lost for words...which is a universal first by the way so congratulations." "I... the other what?!" Violet blinked, coming to her senses at the mention of her 'aunt'. "Abnormality." Pixie replied, then added over her shoulder, "The human the rogue White Dwarf fused with, and her... Vincent Hallow." "Excuse me?" Vincent asked, his eyebrow raised so high it was dangerously close to rising off of his head altogether. "VINCENT!!" Violet screamed, launching herself at him. Pixie lifted her hand without warning, it seemed, for all but Violet. A light grew at the tip of her finger and shot in a beam, Violet shoved Vincent out of the way, turning to see the beam widening and blinding her, then she felt a rush of wind as something snatched at her. It was like a jolt. Was that death? She didn't even get to catch up with her ex... Violet blinked, she was staring at a black sky. Violet sat bolt upright, she was still in the Void, but she seemed untouched. "Vincent?!" Violet called out, but she saw her brother kneeling by something and she held her breath as she approached. "Vincent, what happened, there was a light and--" Violet's mouth fell slack. Vincent was cradling Vael, who had a hole in her shoulder. Violet walked over and knelt in silence, looking at the wound. Cracks began snapping out from the hole, creaking and spreading across Vael's body. "W-what happened...?" Violet asked, taking Vael's hand. "They were... going to erase you... for having infected... a Star." Vael struggled to focus, as the cracks spread and multiplied across her body. "I couldn't... watch you... die..." Violet was crying. She never fully understood her relationship with Vael, but somehow, in spite of everything she had done to them, she was still dear to her. "Why...?!" Violet looked up at Pixie with tears streaming down her face. "You shouldn't exist." Pixie said quietly, turning to face them. "Violet get behind me!" Vincent said frantically as he lowered Vael to the ground. When he stood up the air crackled with power and something mostly invisible spread through the air around them, a powerful hum of excited energy, a barrier between Pixie and the rest of them. "I don't know how she got here..." he said to Violet, and he wasn't sounding so confident any more, "I cant sense their magic... this is really bad." his gaze fixed on Pixie and it became a determined scowl. "Don't think I'll make it easy for you, bitch!" Vincent spat a few words, they sounded unintelligible and completely foreign to a human tongue but they were, in fact, names. As he spoke them there was a sound like a scream being sucked up into a vacuum and multiple tears opened into their domain. Three creatures emerged; snarling, quadrupedal beasts with hides as black as coals, and matted, coarse fur. They had long scar-like cracks throughout their bodies, and something glowed with an eldritch light from within. Their eyes glowed with the same light, their powerful claws and teeth producing an aura of magma-like energy that scorched the ground at their feet. Demons. "I said by invite only, but I didn't say I wouldn't invite them!" "Mortals..." Pixie cut the beam across the courtyard and caught one of the Demons in the light, they shrieked in horrific pain as they folded in on themselves almost instantly. Pixie turned and fired this concentrated magic and struck another Demon, it too, shrieked and fell. But the remaining Demon fell upon her. Violet drew in a breath to yell in victory when the Demon was vaporised instantly. Little more than ash in the wind. The largest of the orbs of light came forwards and formed a being similar in makeup to Pixie and the Nagloshi, but her hair seemed to flow back long past her feet, yet all of it was in the air behind her, like the currents of the ocean. Her light was most brilliant. And when she approached, Pixie apologised and moved out of her way. Her face was kind, knowing and jovial. But she was also like a giant, towering over them yet she stood passively, holding her arms behind her back. "Children..." Her voice was booming and yet gentle in tone, it frightened Violet for a reason she didn't understand. Like a hazy memory, warning her of something. She could only watch though as this being crossed the courtyard of Vincent's creation and stand before him. With the lift of her hand, she brought Vincent floating into the air to hover before her eyes. "Are you done fighting? Have you got it all out of your system?" The bright one asked, her tone measured and happy, like she was asking Vincent if his tantrum was through. "Luminous one--" Pixie interjected, "-- this mortal attempted to destroy a Star--" "Because you attacked them, impatient one." She clarified, "Now, what is it you want, Mortal?" Pixie recoiled and lowered her head in fear. "Why are you addressing me?" Vincent growled, "Why are you all addressing me!?" Vincent kept his barrier up between them, although who knew what good it would do them. "You have much from my sister, from Violet! Why aren't you speaking to her!?" Violet looked from her brother to the towering giant, whatever she was. "She has no right to speak with us. She is an abnormality." The being of light swept her hand across, Violet saw a battle play out, Star killing Star. All were being wiped out. And at the head of it, was Vael. She was killing them. Her hand moved back across and Violet found herself refocused and as distressed as Vincent appeared. Vincent shook his head like he was physically trying to remove something from it and his scowl darkened. "Stay the fuck out of my head." He snarled, but there wasn't a great deal of bite to him. It was clear on his face that he knew their options were limited. He was running his mouth to buy time because time was a wizard's most effective weapon. With a heavy sigh Vincent seemed to gather himself and stood a little more firm. "This just in: Vael is a violent agent of chaos. Stay tuned for our next big reveal: water is wet!" "Then you understand." She turned and looked to Vael, the cracks still spreading across her. "Ceasing to exist would be a relief, you are guilty, and should suffer." She waved her hand, and Vael wailed in pain as her body crystallised, spreading out from her chest until she was a frozen crystal statue. "You'll have time to think in there for a few millennia, and then we'll talk punishment." "You can't do that!" Violet spoke up, "Two wrongs don't make a right! And you said I was a fusion, a fusion with what? Was it Zeal?! Where is she?!" Violet marched towards the giant being of light, ignoring Vincent. "Hey! HEY!! I'm speaking to you, and i'm not going away!!" "Be quiet." It was an off-the-cuff demand, but it could not be ignored it seemed. Violet continued speaking, but her voice was gone. She yelled at the top of her lungs, but nothing came out. She clicked her fingers, sound. She opened her mouth and formed the words. Nothing. She clenched her fist, she wanted to yell, "What am I? What was I? How can I be that again?" But she couldn't so much as say a single word. She raised her hands, but again, without the words to back it up, and with no focus, and no direct access to the same breadth of cosmic magics she had when she was... fused? Or whatever that meant, she was relatively helpless. She wanted to throw everything she had at their enemy, but she was so utterly beyond her. "Stop it!" Vincent yelled, and his voice boomed along to the clap of thunder in the eternal darkness of The Void. The grass underneath his feet stirred with a growing, turbulent wind. "I've had enough of demons, vampires, faeries, and gods, and fucking cosmic energy beings imposing their will on us! You all come from the same place, you call it ki, mana or the power fuckin' cosmic but it's all the same! Power... and we have power too!" The ground shook and small pieces of the earth broke off and began to vibrate and shake, rising gently into the air as unseen forces played havoc with the environment. "Stop what you're doing... or I'll make you, I swear it!" "Make me?" She asked, she leaned down and picked Vincent up, holding him at the throat with her thumb, "I needn't use magic, I could simply squeeze and you would cease to be. You are so fragile. Why risk so much for so little..." Violet raised her hands, glowing pink light formed and she tried to strike out with the energy she was mustering. However, this being simply drew the energy away from her, concentrated it into a tiny orb and threw it back at her with a simple off-handed gesture. Violet was struck in her centre mass and thrown across the courtyard until she hit the ground, tumbled and rolled to the edge of the platform, one arm hung limply over the edge, threatening to fall into the very Void itself. Someone grabbed Violet's arm just as it was about to slip. The figure dragged her up with a firm strength. He let go of her as she was pulled safely back on to solid ground, and he had turned around before she could get a good look at him. The man was dressed in a dark robe with a hood, the entire garment decorated with a constellation of strange runes and diagrams, glittering slightly like the pattern had been woven in starlight itself. The hood covered the man's head, all but covering his face in a shadow that was definitely the result of some magic. Only the edge of his dark but greying beard could be seen in the vibrant light emanating from the Star beings. Said beings were currently frozen, as was everything else within The Void. Everything was perfectly still, not a breath or whisper in the air. Only Violet and the robed man seemed to be unaffected by this. Even Vincent remained frozen in the grip of the star being. "I'm sorry I didn't act sooner." The man said in a deep but gentle voice, "We don't have time to explain I'm afraid." He gestured towards the star beings as their forms seemed to be twitching and moving around in short bursts of rapidity. "It only slows them down for a moment." The man explained, "When it starts again grab your brother and get out of here. Do you understand?" "... Dad?" Violet asked, stepping forwards to put her hand to his shoulder, but as she reached out, he seemed to be ever further from him. Her arm stretched out to span an infinite yet unreachable goal. "How are you here? You don't need to go, you can come with us, we'll all leave together..." Elias Hallow tensed visibly, but he didn't turn to face her. "I can't explain now, Violet. I'm sorry." Then there was a sudden rush of noise and movement as time started again. Eli was already in motion. "Get your hands off of my son!" He barked and there was a noise like a shockwave and Vincent was suddenly and quite forcibly separated from the star being. Vincent fell across the floor choking for breath and oblivious to what had gone on. He raised his hands, his palms outstretched and several things seemed to happen at once. Bolts of energy flew immediately from the star beings who seemed threatened enough to attack the man on sight. Eli simply disappeared and reappeared, to the naked eye it seemed like he was simply materialising in and out of existence in different places. Then as he drew closer to the beings there was an explosion of light and energy as the wizard began to fight back, summoning all manner of strange magic to block their strikes and strike back at them. He moved gracefully, like he had done this kind of thing a thousand times before, and then he suddenly stopped in his assault and took a deep breath. The assault on him also halted as the attackers seemed to sense the severity of what was to come. Above them all the void suddenly twisted in on itself, infinite darkness coiling in on itself, surrounded only by the faintest of white light. The strong pull of force was instant. Everything started breaking apart and getting sucked up. Chaos ripped the world to shreds, hurtling through empty space. And then Vincent and Violet landed with a soft thud on the grass of an untouched cemetery. "No!" Violet yelled out, thumping the grass with her bare fists. "I don't understand! Why won't anyone talk to me!!" Violet's tears began cascading down her cheeks. "It's not supposed to be like this, i'm not strong enough, and you've left us again! You don't get to decide when we're in your life!!" Violet yelled, but it only echoed through the empty graveyard. She tore up a patch of grass and threw it into the air, the blades whipped and flurried through the air and fluttered back down like feathers on the wind. Violet held firmly onto the ground, as though she might tear away from it if she wasn't anchored. "Vincent, I... I don't know what to do any more." Violet shook her head in defeat, "I'm so helpless now... i'm incomplete."
  6. Hallows S2

    "Super." Violet huffed and walked towards her car. "That's something at least." "Wait!!" Helena yelled, running after them. "I need to come, as well!!" The vampire got as far as the front door and recoiled as her bare arm dipped into sunlight and exploded into flames. The little girl-sized monster shrieked and hissed and withdrew into the shadow of the doorframe but stood there like a gargoyle. She couldn't leave. Violet glanced from Helena to her brother and shrugged. "Oh for crying out loud." Vincent said with a sigh of frustration and walked back towards the house. He took his phone out of his pocket and opened up the contact menu before handing it to Helena. "Put your phone number in." He said briskly and folded his arms as he waited. His eyes cast over her arm which was badly burnt but healing as he watched it. He frowned slightly as if chewing on a thought and then after a moment he asked, "Are you alright?" Helena's upper lip pulled back, more in cautious confusion than outright hatred, "I-I'm fine. My epidermis will be healed momentarily." "Oo, la-dee-dah! Like an epidermis is such a big deal!!" Violet grumbled as she threw herself into the driver's seat. Helena handed Vincent's phone back and waited patiently. Vincent pocketed the phone and turned for the door. "I'll call, alright?" he assured her as he walked outside. He got back in the car next to Violet and sat silently waiting. "Is that it?" Violet asked simply. "She's obviously important to Lucia..." Violet started the car. "Yeah and Lucia's the bad guy." Vincent reminded her, "Which makes you wonder how bad these werewolves really are, right? If we take a vampire along its going to be a fight. Unless you have any better ideas." Vincent shrugged, "I mean we could wrap her in blankets and throw her in the trunk. It'd be amusing listening to her rattle about with your crazy driving." "Much as it'd be fun to watch werewolves and vampires tear each other apart, if Lucia knows something about our dad, i'd rather have that information. I can get a bloodbath any day of the week, come on--" The engine roared as she pulled out and drove onto the main road. They drove with the radio on for a little while. Violet looked over a couple of times but her brother was staring out the passenger-side window. She turned the radio off and it roused him enough that they caught one another's gaze before she refocused on the road. "You okay?" Violet asked. "I think so..." Vincent replied and shifted his shoulders uncomfortably, "Relatively speaking, anyway." He sighed and faced forward, focusing on the road ahead, "We're so close Vi, y'know?" "We keep thinking that and it keeps not being true though, doesn't it?" She muttered back at him. "Which is why I'm so done with all of this. It's all we've been doing for...forever. Like what do we do if we finish this? Do you have a life to go back to? I sure as hell don't..." Violet's gaze wandered down to the hands she was using to steer the wheel, "Mm... I... don't know...." She fell silent for a while, when she spoke though, she seemed a little more chipper, "Do you think, wherever dad is... maybe he's thinking about us?" Vincent was silent for a long time, just staring ahead of them. "I can't compare the man I knew with the one that left..." He said finally, "Who knows. He'll be thinking about us when we find him though." "--if, we find him." Violet corrected him. "So, what's the plan here," Violet looked over at the compass and took the next left turn, "We find out where Lucia is, smash 'em up, take Lucia, and home with dad in time for tea. Or maybe in time for a midnight snack - worst case." She forced a smirk. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend.... sometimes" Vincent said, "We could try some diplomacy for a change. Werewolves can be reasoned with, right?" "Mmm..." Violet pursed her lips as she thought, but the answer never came. "We're here!" Violet pulled into an old gas station in a run down part of L.A. Pulling the key from the ignition, Violet whirled the keychain in her hand a few times before it disappeared. A handy little pocket dimension for all those knick-knacks. You know, buttons, keys, demons from the 43rd floor of Hell. Useful, useful magic. She stepped out of the car and put one hand on the roof as she surveyed the apparently abandoned gas station. "Well, I don't care what it looks like, they're here..." "Yup." Vincent said as he held up the little compass. He got out of the car and held it out, and watched as the arrow started spinning round and round in circles. "Uh...either they're directly below us or...we're surrounded." "Vince?" Violet cautioned under her breath. She watched her brother look up and see what she was staring at. They were indeed surrounded. Violet found herself laughing. The men and women surrounding them didn't see the humour in it, in fact, it put them on high alert. But she couldn't help herself. It seemed cosmic magic didn't mean much when the whole lot of them can hear the car coming from down the road, and smell them before they ever left the vehicle. "What d'you want?!" A voice called from the small shop of the gas station. When Violet turned to see who had spoken, the people surrounding them grew uneasy. Like they knew, she knew, where to aim for. There was an uneasy silence filling this tense moment. If she'd had any, the hairs on the back of Violet's neck would have risen. "We're hunters on a trail." Vincent explained as he put his hands up passively and began pacing in circles on the spot to address everyone, "We need information from the vampire you're holding. Short of that what you do with her is of no concern to us. Can a bargain be put on the table?" "Let 'em through..." The voice commanded. And that was what it was. It wasn't a request. It was expected. And just like that, the small crowd diffused and parted. Violet and Vincent started walking past them, but they were closing ranks behind them even as they went. When they reached the front of the gas station shop, they saw a woman in her 40's, sat on a rocking chair with a beer in her hand, and an old bloodhound, grey flecked on the end of it's otherwise brown muzzle. "I'm Mordred Moreau. What information do you want from a vampire, and who the fuck are you to be asking for it?" She was a tall, muscularly-fit woman. Dressed in plaid, with the sleeves rolled up and an old pair of denim jeans that looked as though they'd seen more than a decade or two. Her hair was short, blonde and wavy and while she was attractive and youthful-in-appearance, her eyes appeared tired. Mordred moved with the fluid confidence of someone who thinks they have the upper-hand. And in many ways, she did. "Vincent Hallow, wizard." Vincent replied "My sister Violet and I are looking for our old man and Lucia has information that can get us there." "And what d'we get?" Mordred asked nonchalantly taking a swig of beer and scratching at her bloodhound's ear. One of the crowd broke ranks and walked up to Mordred. She wasn't as tall or as strong as Mordred, but the crowd parted for her just the same. She had the same wavy blonde hair but it was cut short by what looked like a pair of shears. It was jagged and spiky, pointing in every which way. She said something to Mordred in hushed tones and Mordred's face softened. "Bring it out." Mordred took another swig of beer and a few seconds later two enormous wolves appeared, each holding Lucia by one of her arms. Each wolf could have doubled as a rhino. Even Violet took a step back reflexively, she couldn't help but feel a degree of psychological fear associated with her time as a mammal. There before her was the definition of an apex predator. Lucia's arms were mangled and she was groaning in pain, but otherwise, she seemed fine. The wolves were gnashing and pulling at her arms, pushing her back down to the ground, yanking her back up or pulling her this way and that. Mordred whistled and the two rhino-sized wolves both jerked as though they'd been slapped across the ear and let go of the vampire but remained flanked at either side of her. Vincent's expression was hard to read as he looked at Lucia's broken form. His eyes inspected her studiously. "puncture wounds..." he said as he noted the wounds all over Lucia's body, "You drained her completely..." "What did y'expect us to do, wizard." Mordred waved her bottle at him, "We ain't got your magic. All we can do is hurt her 'til she can't heal no more and then there's not much she can do without a drink..." Mordred leaned forwards in her chair and held her bottle out to Lucia, "You want a sip?" She asking, shaking the bottle back and forth mockingly before leaning back in her chair once more. "Well go on now, wizard, ask your questions and leave us to our business..." "Vincent Hallow." Came another voice. Lucia looked up slowly. Despite her injuries, she was a remarkable beauty, an olive-skinned and raven-haired woman who spoke with a vaguely Italian accent. While the woman was physically very weak, there was a glint of energy and confidence in her eyes. She was nowhere near broken. "...Have you come back to me, finally?" "Guess again." Vincent replied, a hard edge to his voice, "You've let yourself go since the last time I saw you." "Still a petulant child then..." She said, and she managed a wicked smirk. Her gaze flickered to Violet and her eyes flashed with a predatory look that was not at all to do with her Vampiric hunger, "...Hello again Violet." "--a good boy, you are--!!" Violet stopped blowing kisses at the enormous werewolves flanking Lucia and glanced down at her, "... yo!" Violet gave a little salute, then her attention refocused on the werewolves. "Who's a good boy, i've got a treat here, I do--!!" A degree of colour returned to Lucia's face, albeit from anger. "Why are you here, Vincent?" Lucia asked, her tone becoming more business-like. Vincent shifted a little on the spot and eyed the present company, a little uneasy. "I need information you have about Elias Hallow, and where he's been for the past...oh, 25 years." Lucia smiled and her eyes closed as if she was savouring the moment. "You have something to offer then?" Lucia asked, her eyebrow raising in interest, "Such knowledge does not come cheap." "You're dead to rights. You don't exactly come from a lofty bargaining position either right now." Vincent replied, his tone getting a little heated. "This...this is just a misunderstanding." Lucia said, and she genuinely didn't seem to be afraid, "This is not my end, I can assure you." "Oh really because from where I'm standing you've finally pissed the wrong people off and getting what has been coming to you for fuck knows how many millennia." "A misunderstanding, as I said." Lucia replied, quite calm. "I've yet to misunderstand anything you've said." Mordred spoke up from her seat, "I've always tried to maintain healthy relationships with any who would seek it, but vampires? All y'all are a bunch o' malcontents. Living forever, amassing wealth and power." Mordred went to take a sip from her beer bottle, but it was empty. She stood up, and threw the glass bottle just in front of Lucia, shattering and spraying her with glass, "So--" Mordred continued, walking towards Vincent, "Yeh wanna know where your dad is, she can maybe tell ye that, but she also knows where my son is--" Mordred's voice cracked for the first time with a hint of parental emotion, "--don't you?!" Mordred barked her question. Lucia kept her eyes on Mordred as the woman spoke. Her eyes were cold, and distant, but she did not interrupt her. "I do not, as I have already told you, Mordred." Lucia replied, her tone neutral. "Wait, is that what's going on?" Vincent asked with a frown, "You're kidnapping children on this side of the border now too?" "Mind your tongue, child." Lucia chided firmly, "There is no reason for me to conceal that boy, I gain nothing from it." "She tells you to mind your tongue, because she uses a silver one herself!" Mordred spat on the ground in front of Lucia. "Steals children... doesn't deny it. Just tells you to mind ye manners." "--haha! ... Vampires..." Violet interjected. Mordred's face snarled a smile if only for a second, with a gruff snort as she paced back and forth as she thought, "She says she doesn't benefit from concealing Michael, but she knows fine well what i'd do t'her if he were here." She turned and paced back to Lucia, "Get your information, wizard, so I can finish getting mine..." "You will not get it here, Vincent I assure you." Lucia said before Vincent could speak. "You know all too well that the road you tread on bears some secrets, ones you yourself may wish to keep." "And what am I supposed to do about that?" Vincent asked, "You kidnapped a kid, now you're paying for it." "Idiot child..." Lucia sighed, an impatient frown forming on her ghostly pale head, "Do you even hear yourself? Do you honestly think I would have been taken by surprise when this lot came for me in my home if I was well aware of why they'd have cause to? I have many, many enemies Vincent but these people were not one of them." "Are you saying you were framed?" Vincent asked with an incredulous look on his face, "By who? Your list of enemies is probably 100 miles long." "My meetings with the Moreau clan were not publicly shared. A play from someone inside the court, I assume." "Awwwh, hogwash..." Mordred growled, crossing her arms, "Wouldn't even matter if it were, you take kids, if it weren't mine it don't matter any more. We're involved now. An' best you recognise that, even if ye think you're stronger or smarter or older than us. We'll still kill you. Because Moreau are born... not turned... our lives are short but our instincts are as old as the Earth itself." "Wait a minute I thought you two were negotiating before?" Vincent asked. "If Lucia turns out to be telling the truth, then you're wasting your time when you could be out finding who really took him. If you got your son back in that scenario you're still killing her?" He shook his head a little, "I mean any other time I really wouldn't care if you do, but I know Lucia has the info I need, and I know she's not going to give it up here, even just out of spite because believe me she has plenty of that." "Flatterer." Lucia said with a smirk. "Urgh! Negotiating?!" Mordred snorted again in disbelief. Her pacing quickened, her nose curled as she spoke, "I don't care any more..." Her voice quivered in anger. A rush of anxious movement washed over the crowd surrounding Violet, Vincent and Lucia. Suddenly, Violet jerked forwards as though she was shoved by something. She opened her mouth to 'complain' to the werewolf behind her but when she turned, she saw immediately - he was frozen like a statue. Everyone was. Violet took a step back and instinctively turned to her brother for answers - he always was better at diagnostic magic - but Vincent was equally frozen. Everything seemed to dim, as though she had put on sunglasses. Then, a sharp, strong, white light. No larger than an apple, but so bright it would have been dazzling to a human. Violet stared into the source of the light, and realised, it was looking back at her. Violet opened her mouth to speak, but the orb of light loosed a long, echoing screech that rose and dipped in cadence. It was speaking an ancient language. It seemed familiar, but... wrong, at the same time? No, maybe not wrong. Different... she didn't understand it, but she did? Violet's mind raced as she tried to understand what was being said. Then, there was another orb. Then another. And another. The orbs danced amongst themselves, and the shriek of the single orb, became an unpleasant symphony. "Hey, what are you?!" Violet called out to them, but the sound barely carried. "Hey!!" She yelled, it barely registered. "What are you doing? Why are you here?!" The orbs... scattered. One remained. Violet took a step back, and looked to her brother. He'd know what to do. Stupid, Violet, really stupid! You should have told him you saw these things before, you know he'd have believed you, he's seen stranger things! Violet shook her head and glanced back at the orb of light. Time returned to normal. Everything resumed. "No more!!" Mordred snapped, whirling on Lucia. Breaking into a run, Mordred leapt and transformed in an instant. From human, to an enormous brown wolf larger than either of the two flanking Lucia. Landing with a resonating 'thump', Mordred flew towards Lucia, her mouth salivating as her face contorted into a snarl as she bared her teeth and went for the killing blow. "Mom, no!!" In the same moment, another, somewhat smaller brown wolf exploded from the ranks of the crowd and collided with Mordred. The two wolves snapped and growled at one another, testing each other and then like a clap of thunder, they crashed into one another. Claws and fangs were everywhere, tufts of fur flew and smacks of blood splashed the courtyard, then just as quickly as it began, it was over. Mordred lurched backwards, avoiding the swipe of the smaller wolf's clawed paw, and surged into the opening and bit at the smaller wolf's face. A painful, high-pitched yelp escaped the smaller wolf's muzzle, as though this was the first time it was genuinely injured, and Mordred recoiled in surprise and stopped as the smaller wolf transformed back into a young woman - the woman from before. She was panting, lying on the ground, wounds everywhere and partially shredded clothes. Slowly, Mordred began to shift back into her human form. It wasn't instant as it had been for her daughter. It was... difficult. Mordred eventually stood as she had done before and fled to her daughter's side. "Are y'alright, Morag?" Mordred asked, fussing over her. "I thought i'd really--" "It's fine..." Morag muttered, looking up. Her face was dotted with a half dozen long but shallow cuts from her mother's fangs. They were already starting to heal. The cuts became scars in a matter of moments. Morag's face was scattered with a number of shiny new trophies, but she was otherwise fine. "You just... didn't know..." Morag stood up slowly. "You can't kill her, mom. She might know where Michael is! And Vincent, and Violet, they need her alive as well. You can't just--" Morag trailed off as something caught her eye. She looked to Violet, who seemed to stare off into space, for as long as she had been watching her. Then, Violet's pupils rolled into the back of her head as her eyes closed, and she collapsed. The last thing Violet heard, was the sound of waves, crashing in around her, and the panicked shouting she recognised as her brother's. Then darkness.
  7. Hallows S2

    The White Stripes' 'Icky Thump' blared from the old radio of the black Chevrolet Impala. The L.A. sun made everything hazy. She could feel the heat like anyone, but it wasn't the stifling, airless heat she remembered as a child, before she'd been tracked down by her aunt - a cosmic being who went by 'Vael' - and had her powers drawn out by the part-time ally, part-time enemy. Since then, besides having a burning need to consume energy and matter in order to exist, her body was no longer the mortal frame she'd inhabited in her early years. She had transformed. Beneath the paper-thin 'disguise' of a human, she too was a Nagloshi, just like her aunt. A creature of the cosmos, wielding magics very different from those her brother had mastered. It might have been practical to disguise herself as human, but she was also sentimental. Sometimes it was difficult looking in the mirror and seeing a featureless, feminine body that seemed comprised of space itself, glowing white eyes, mouth and hair. She preferred seeing a girl in her late 20's, with medium-length cobalt blue hair, cut in a punk style with a shaved side. She was covered in blackwork tattoos, mostly runes, symbols and glyphs that made her look like some kind of ancient textbook. Violet Hallow licked her lips - more a habit than wetting lips with saliva she didn't make any more - as she fished for something in the pocket of her short leather jacket. A short, thick piece of white chalk. The song continued beating drums as the vocals started, Violet bobbed her head with the beat as she began to draw lines across the tarmac with the chalk. She stood up and admired her work for a moment before pocketing the chalk and wiping her chalky hands down on her black tank top before she sat down, cross-legged, surrounded by her chalk marks. She was sat inside a pentagram. Strictly speaking, she had more than enough power to tear her way into another dimension. But if she did that, she'd be consuming energy to replace the stores that essentially made up her very being. And why shouldn't she use her powers? She'd-- Violet stopped herself. She thumped her fist down onto her leg until it started to hurt. "Don't think like that, Vi, come on, girl..." She took a deep breath and focused. The pentagram would help channel her magic without drawing too much out of her reserves. Slowly, the light and heat of the sun began to die. It grew darker and darker. The song's beat slowed and warped, slowing until it sounded almost unrecognisable. The singer almost sounded like a demon growling. Birds flitting between the branches of nearby trees began to slow mid-flight. She closed her eyes. A familiar coldness touched at her and when she opened her eyes - she saw nothing. Complete blackness. The music had become little more than one note, stretching into infinity. White noise. Raising a hand, she used a fraction of magic to ignite a soft luminous light source in her palm. Instantly, she saw dozens of mouths, eyes, claws, fangs, gnashing, rending and tearing, clawing over one another, feeding on one another, crashing up against the barrier her pentagram was providing. "Mornin' all..." She raised her other hand with a half-hearted wave. A gnarled hand smashed up against the magical barrier and then a large head came into view, mouth full of a million needle-like teeth. The other creatures cowered and moved away as it focused on her, it's eyes enormous discs, bearing down on her, a speck of light in an endless sea of blackness, writhing with all manner of dark creature. This, was the Void. The birthplace of monsters. The first monster, Lilith, created as an affront to God, by Lucifer. She birthed the most ancient of them, then banished them to this warping hellscape. Sometimes little more than a Void as she saw it now, and other times an endless forest, or a destroyed cityscape. The Void was as intangible and unknowable as the Nagloshi themselves. But it had it's uses. "Asmodeus." "Ergh!" The monster recoiled as though physically struck. "Nobody's supposed to know that name..." It's voice was cracked, like metal nails down a blackboard, scratched out through the gaps of endless rows of teeth. "You mean it's not your name... Asmodeus?" Violet repeated, a wicked grin alighting her face. "ERGGHH...." Asmodeus growled, his hand wrapped around the entirety of her protective barrier and began to squeeze. There was a wrenching, squealing sound. Like metal under pressure. Violet chuckled to herself and stood up, making Asmodeus reflexively jerk back. "Haha, big ol' monster, scared a little ol' me." She crossed her arms and jerked her head at him, "So, what's the story with L.A.?" "Haven't you heard--" Asmodeus took a long, gurgling inhalation, "--City of... Angels..." He choked out a deep, resonating laugh as he batted away a snarling creature that crashed up against her barrier a moment later. "Why do you... want to know...?" "Goin' hunting, right?!" Violet chuckled, noticing the various debris, bones and assorted junk that littered the monster's teeth. "You said, I help you-- and you help me kill Garga... I want his turf!" "Uh huh. So give me something to work with and I will!" Violet glanced over her shoulder, as though into nothing, "My brother's up. Best make it fast." "--there's a, I know... if you just give me more--" "Nope!" Violet let her arms fall by her side, and then she took one boot-clad foot, and scuffed out one of the pentagram lines. It happened all in the space of a couple of seconds. An otherworldly cacophony of screams, screeches, roars, hisses and other noise penetrated her protective barrier and just like that it shattered under the assault of Asmodeus' grip. The creature lurched forwards to grab her, as did the mass of claws, eyes and fangs. Violet lifted from the ground, hovering a few feet above and then her skin began to peel away like it was being burnt. Beneath it, the glowing form of her true body. Several of the creatures reacted on sight and fled, Asmodeus roared in defiance but she opened her mouth and screeched. The light from her body grew brighter and brighter, blinding everything, forcing them to recoil. Asmodeus screamed and dug his claws into the ground. "I've served you for 4 months!" Asmodeus' deep, resonating voice was gone. He was screeching for help, raking at the mass of monsters around him, trying to find purchase. "But i'm hungry?" Violet's voice was ethereal now, humming with power as light shone from her eyes and mouth. Asmodeus' screams turned into gurgling, guttural noise as his body was drawn of all energy, matter and magic. He collapsed to the ground, a grey shell and the mass of monsters turned their attention on the withering, old beast and tore him apart. Then Violet quickly withdrew from the Void. Light rushed back into her space, she felt the warmth of the sun and heard the music warping back up to speed, and the birds slowly resumed their flight. She had barely enough time to regenerate her fragile human 'skin' and hop onto the hood of her car before she saw her brother emerge from the motel. She reached over and picked up one of the two breakfast burritos, unwrapped it and took a big bite, even though she wasn't all that hungry now. "Hey, you want this?" Violet asked, lifting up the second burrito, "If you don't take it, i'm basically gonna eat it too, y'know." "Fine." Vincent said and she tossed him over the spare. He unwrapped it as he puffed away on his cigarette, and then took a single bite, followed by another, then a pause for consideration. "Damn it..." He grumbled with his mouth still half full of food. He swallowed. "It's good...which means it's probably really bad." "But who cares right, ya only live once--" She took a bite, then while her mouth was still full and chewing she added, "--y'know, unless-- you're like--" She took another bite and continued talking while chewing, "-- like a zombie-- vampire-- ghost-- angel-- demon--" She took another bite and went to continue listing them off, but saw Vincent's pained expression. "What...?" She frowned, then to put the cherry on the cake, she stuck her food-encrusted tongue out at him, "Meeeh!!" "A delight as always..." Vincent said as he turned his gaze away from Violet's gross tongue and instead looked out to the horizon. "Ugh, I hate LA. Bunch of posers and wannabes make their way here to become a star, only to get scooped up by a bunch of blood sucking vampires." He shook his head in disapproval. "And then there's the actual vampires." "Haha! Ha! --sick wordplay." Violet snorted and stuffed the last of her burrito into her mouth and swallowed. "You're gonna have to like--" She picked at her teeth, "--say it again, y'know--- when the cameras are rollin'." She got something between her fingers, rolled it back and forth, smirked to herself, then looked up and flicked it at Vincent. "We goin' then?" "No time like the present." Vincent replied, "Let's load up our shit on the car and get a move on." "Eeehh..." Violet groaned and swept her hand back through the air dismissively. A dozen or so items flew through the air from their motel room or the hood of the car and flung themselves in the back. The trunk popped and took a few more items, including weapons, stakes and all manner of relics, and then covered itself with a blanket and then closed the trunk once more. "See, so much better..." She looked to her brother to share in her pride. "Y'know one of these days I expect old Al to pop out from behind a bush or something and hit you with the whammy for being so frivolous with your magic." Vincent said with a smirk. As he got into the car he put on a southern drawl, "Now jes because ye can use yer magic, doesn' mean ye should, darlin'" A sour expression spread across Violet's face as she remembered their old mentor. A crotchety old coot if ever there was one. Though, his knowledge and his magic had saved them both on more than one occasion. "Whaddaya want me to say?" Violet shrugged and slipped off the hood and got into the driver's seat. "If you've got it, flaunt it!" With Vincent in the seat beside her, she fired the engine to a roar, and they tore off down the road. "So, what's the plan here? We gonna just tear into the city and make ourselves known or what--?" She was practically yelling between the windows down, air rushing past and the sound of the engine. "If I know Lucia then she'll know we're here not long after we enter the city." Vincent yelled back at her, "Although this is her bed time so we might have an advantage there, but if we go in guns blazing during the day we'll be tangling with mortal guards." "Ah who cares, they're mortal, what are they gonna do, hit us with sticks or shoot projectiles at us, c'mon Vincent, it'll be easy!" Violet laughed as she put her floored it, overtaking the car ahead of them before darting back into the lane as an oncoming car rushed past. "We'll be there in no time, now!!" "You know for a shapeshifter you're terrible at blending in!" Vincent yelled. Violet blinked and realised, shame washed over her and she slowed right down, then rolled the windows up as the car behind them honked their horn with a prolonged press before overtaking them this time, driving on as Violet gripped onto the wheel as tightly as she dared. "Sorry..." "It's aright. I'm used to it." Vincent replied as he settled back in his chair and relaxed a little, "You realise that Lucia is a countess of the most powerful and far reaching vampire courts in the Western world? She is literally and figuratively the most powerful vampire in the Americas. Her mortal guards aren't going to be night club bouncers." "... hired bodyguards?" Violet asked with a wry smile and a raised brow. But she knew. Soon, the shrub-dotted road cleared up and was replaced with symmetrical palm trees lining the streets, and buildings of all shapes and sizes. It was a busy city, full of every multi-faceted shade of person, and supernatural thing. Some, you could spot if you had a trained eye, or you knew what to look for, smell for, listen for. It was knowledge, but it was also the gift of magic. A spot of luck. Or any number of factors. Usually though, if it was up to Al? He'd have them pouring through dozens of old textbooks to find the answer. Luckily, these days, we have technology. "Hello, Google..." Violet called out, her phone screen lit up, but nothing happened. "Hello... Google..." Nothing. "Hel-lo. Goo-gull. Hell--with--this--" She threw her phone onto the backseat. "I miss books...." She grumbled. "Okay Google." Vincent said with a monotonous voice, pronouncing each syllable carefully. He was rewarded with a digital bleep of approval from Violet's phone. "That's not funny." Violet muttered. "'s not funny." The Google assistant replied, muffled by the backseat, "Try not to laugh challenges, Youtube video playlist." Suddenly there was a deafening sound of a donkey, followed by a baby laughing, and then a loud clatter as something fell apart and then Violet managed to grab her phone and turn it off while she kept one hand on the wheel, "Alright, so do it yourself. We should figure out what to expect, these days, crews like vampires could be hiring anythin' for muscle." "Well people like me for starters." Vincent replied, "I've run jobs for Lucia in the past, she pays well. She has an eye for talent so you could be facing all manner of sorcerers, low tier supes that can hide in plain sight like ghouls and weres. Could have some faerie muscle if she has the right contacts." "Can't wait..." Violet nodded to herself, looking up at the rearview mirror. She saw herself, but her eyes were completely white. She blinked, and she looked normal again. She was going to have to find more time to spend in the Void. She was sure the answers she needed remained in the Void. But not now. Now, she had to focus. On her brother, on this, on their search for their father. Focus, Vi, come on. You can't... she trailed off as a glowing orb rushed down the road towards them, flew through the car, whipped around inside and about her head a few times, and then flew down the road until it vanished behind them. "Uh..." Violet looked over at her brother who seemed not to have seen the light, "Okay then... totally normal." She added, under her breath.
  8. U.A. High School

    Double Post. Deleted. :(
  9. U.A. High School

    Noriko walked into the classroom and saw it was already mostly filled. She spied a spare seat but as she walked towards it her eyes locked on the boy she was sharing a dormitory with. Ichirou Kazuro. She didn't want to sit next to that guy. He had a serious attitude problem, and coming from her, that seemed like a pretty big issue. But the seats behind her were full now, and so she sat down. She glanced over at him then faced forwards as the door opened to the classroom, one last time. "GOOD MORNING, STUDENTS!!!" Noriko's face dropped. A tall woman stepped inside, her strides were long and confident, and so they should be, for she was was one of the top heroes in the country. Known for her incredible power to control her own density, becoming as light or as heavy as she needs, "--by taking in mass, she becomes stronger and heavier, Miss--" "MISS MASS!!!" The woman's voice carried through the classroom, silencing any students who were still talking amongst themselves. "That's what you can call me. But, teacher or Miss is fine, too." Noriko's eyes had lit up at seeing this woman enter the room. She had followed this hero's career for years. She was instrumental to taking down several supervillains over the last few years, as well as saving thousands of lives. She was an inspiration to a great many heroes, and Noriko wasn't the only one to be a little star struck. For everything she knew about Miss Mass, she never realised she was a teacher at U.A. High School now. "So, then... who's ready for a little training? I could do with seeing your abilities in action." Miss Mass scanned the classroom, "C'mon! We're going outside." She turned and left without another word, and the majority of the class stood immediately to follow her. Noriko stood up and looked over at Ichirou, still sat in his chair, "Hey aren't you coming?" She asked. "Wha?" Ichirou said distractedly, then he scowled and got up, his chair scraping along the floor behind him. "Mind your own, blinky." He muttered as he walked past Noriko and went out the door. "Hey, wait up!" Noriko ran after him and fell in-step, "So, why did you wanna be a hero, huh?" "To stomp shitheads." Ichirou replied coldly, "Someone has to." "Dramatic." Noriko nodded solemnly, "But that's kinda what every hero does, more or less. I mean why do you want to be a hero?" She laughed, "I wanna be a hero because, well, my brother was a hero, and I saw him help so many people, so y'know, I guess I wanted to be like him. If I can save a few people, then at least i'll have done some good..." "Hmph! Pegged you as a glory hunter, blinky." his tone softened but the frown remained, "All those dumbasses who want to do it for the fame...that shit pisses me off." "Fame is important." Noriko corrected him, "If people know who you are, and you beat villains and save folks, then you inspire people and make a difference to more than the people you save in the moment. And besides--" "QUIET IN THE BACK!!" Miss Mass yelled, and Noriko shut up immediately, her cheeks blushing with embarrassment. They stepped out onto a large courtyard as the teacher turned to face them, "Alright. So you've all got Quirks, you might have talents beyond them, well i'm here to test them for you. So I want each of you to come at me like i'm your worst enemy, like i'm the one that's going to take away everything you love, REMEMBER THAT!!!" She yelled, pointing at the crowd of teenagers. Ichirou raised his hand, "And if we don't?" he asked. The students of U.A. parted like a biblical wave, giving Miss Mass a direct sight line to Ichirou. "Don't what?" Miss Mass asked, tying her long blonde hair back into a high ponytail. "Come at you like the one who's going to take everything I love?" Ichirou replied, "y'see I've been there, and done that. You've got nothing to take from me in that area." "Wrong, Ichirou-san!" Miss Mass, she started to close the gap between them. "You have nothing to lose?" She asked aloud, "You have your lives!! Without that, you can save nobody. Without that, you have failed. You die, and the people who are relying on you to save them, are dead too. You don't have anything to lose...?" Miss Mass grit her teeth with a smile, "How's about you just show me you don't wanna die, and we'll go from there. In fact, we'll start with you--" Her approach shifted from a walk into a sprint, and each step she took, she seemed to become heavier until the pavement below her step, cracked, and then it imploded on her next step, and by the time she reached Ichirou, the pavement crunched like a pile of fallen leaves and then her foot found Ichirou's centre mass, and he was airborne. Ichirou tumbled through the air limp as he began to fall back to earth, but with a grunt of effort he righted himself as he hit the ground and slid back across the dirt in a crouch. Clutching his chest with one hand he looked up with a dark glare in his eyes. He wasn't afraid. "Beating on a student to teach a lesson? Some hero you are." Ichirou snarled, and the air began to ripple with heat haze around him, "Just like my old man then..." He said more quietly, a tinge of bitterness to his voice. He stood up finally and removed his blazer, tossing it aside. Then he adjusted his stance, and he locked eyes with Miss Mass again. "It won't be that easy the second time." "That's the whole point, kid!" She yelled back at him, as she started her march towards the boy. "You think you can be a hero and expect your enemy to play by the rules? You think they're gonna just go easy on you, because you're a student, huh?!" The rest of the class scattered, Noriko teleported up onto a nearby lamp post and sat to watch it. A few moments passed before she realised there was something sat beside her. The not-a-cat, that, was now sat watching with nonchalance. "I'm Mew." Said Mew, then they blinked and looked to Ichirou, "Do you think the boy can prove himself?" "I'm more worried about me..." Noriko muttered. "You think you're hot stuff, huh?!" Miss Mass called out to Ichirou. "Gimme your best shot!!" "You don't get it." Ichirou actually smirked. "You can beat on me all day long. I have nothing...and while you focus on me you're not focused on other people... People who have something to lose!" Ichirou's fists shook at his sides and the heat shimmers continued around him, growing more instense. "Getting me angry isn't going to push my buttons, you're barking up the wrong tree. I've been in this position as long as I can remember." Miss Mass was almost upon him when the sparks struck across his skin like a lit much. Blue fire exploded across one half of Ichirou's body like a cloak, barring the path between him and Miss Mass. "Phew--!" She leapt back and stood firm, "Cute trick, kid." "I wouldn't describe something that sets things on fire as 'cute'..." Ichirou said. The shroud retreated until it was an aura around his head, shoulders and arms. "...My quirk is dangerous. Its not suited for throwing at your instructor like a baseball pitch." Ichirou held his hands up in front of him, making fists, "Defence only. Keeps my conscience clear." "You have to be able to find more ways of using your ability than simply to defend from being struck. Remember, I don't have to hit you directly, to stop you and if I think my time is better spent elsewhere because I can't attack you?" She crossed her arms, narrowing her eyes on him. "My quirk is not what makes me a hero." Ichirou replied. "You're way out of my league. Close quarter is a mistake, so I'll stick to my defence. If you turn on someone else, then that's fine, they're here to train just like me. I dont need to protect them, but if you turn your attention on someone else you take your eyes off of me. That gives me opportunity to level the playing field, set a trap, exploit a weakness or just support the other guy." Ichirou's jaw clenched as he glared at her, "You're Miss Mass, you'll shrug off my attack. So why should I lower myself to it?" "You think that because this is a test, that you can put your comrades in danger, or open civilians to attack. A hero is not their quirk, but a hero uses everything at their disposal to stop a fight as quickly as they can, within the confines of the law which you are sworn to protect when you signed up for this. That includes using every facet of their quirk, with complete control, which you lack, and so you are afraid to use it. You also think you don't need to learn and follow the instructions of your teachers, and that says to me you're not just afraid of your own power, you can't accept you're at fault. I knew someone like that, but you, are not him." Miss Mass started to leave, "Even if you think you are." "You...dont...know!" the shroud shot away from Ichirou with a sudden rapidity, coiling widely around Miss Mass like a scythe blade, but the flames had grown thinner as it stretched out to a further range. "Don't talk like you know when you don't!" He snarled. "Do you think i'll fail you, as I failed him?" Miss Masa turned back around to face Ichirou and started towards the front wall of flames surrounding her. "Wrong. It was him who failed." Ichirou's flames coiled around Miss Mass as she drew closer she only reduced the range and the flames became larger until they were surrounding her, and then they vanished and left nothing but scorched marks in the ground. "You've made your point." Ichirou said with a dark scowl. "It's a start." Miss Mass nodded and turned to another boy in the class, "And you?"
  10. U.A. High School

    U.A. High School "We live in a world of superheroes... ... and supervillains. All thanks to Quirks. Another word for 'superpower'. Around 80% of the population has a Quirk. These can range from the--" The teacher, Miss Noda, had been writing on the board for over 40 minutes. The class was bored and restless, but she was oblivious. Her voice dissipated through the classroom, barely reaching the students in the back row. On the far left, sat in the corner by the window, sat Noriko Nakagawa. The 16-year-old girl was in all ways, unremarkable. She was not the tallest girl in class, in fact she was almost the shortest. She was not the prettiest, or the funniest. She was not even the smartest, or the most popular. But then, she didn't register to bullies either. She was just 'nobody'. And most of the rest of her class had Quirks. She, did not. So Noriko sat there, staring out the window, trying to drown out Miss Noda's end-of-school lecture on Quirks and their importance to society. She said, "If you've got a Quirk you can use, you better be using it to benefit society." None of this applied to her. She let out a short huff and her eyes refocused on a figure stood by the school gate. She squinted, and saw the instantly-recognised outfit of a superhero. But not just any superhero, it was her older brother, Shinji. Known to most of the city as, 'White Lightning'. He had the power to move as fast as lightning. That, and his hair had turned white when he was 10 and his Quirk activated. Noriko's face lit-up at the sight of her brother. Her eyes darted from the window to the clock. School was almost out. The moments ticked by while Noriko hurriedly bagged up her things, by the time the alarm bell rang, she was vibrating at her desk. She tried to get to the door first, but she was right at the back in the corner, so she was squeezed into the throng of fleeing students and was practically carried out onto the main courtyard where the students dispersed and she wheezed as she was dropped to the ground. There was a crackle of electricity and suddenly arms were around her, squeezing her tight. "Let go of me, I feel like i'm getting hugged by a giant condom." Noriko growled, wriggling irritably. "Right, right, sorry, Nori-chan!" Shinji's voice was deep and gravelly, but it hadn't always been. He'd spent a long time deliberately speaking deeper so that he had a more commanding presence, or so he claimed. "Listen, I don't have long, i'm still really busy--" His voice partially muffled by his helmet. "Ugh!" Noriko grimaced, "You smell like you live in that suit. Never hang it upside down, you'll be tasting your ass." Noriko flashed a toothy grin and held her nostrils closed. "Well, since mum and dad saw fit to disappear when you were a baby, i've had to look after us, i'm not just doing the Hero gig, i've got to cook and clean the apartment, and look after you, and--" "You don't have to look after me, I figured out how to get the cube in the square hole today." Noriko pushed her brother, it did nothing. He chuckled as she pushed her way past him and he fell into step beside her. She had to walk nearly twice as fast just to keep up with her brother's long strides. "So what's on our delectable menu tonight?" "Curry." "Sacré bleu!" They had curry every time her brother cooked. Noriko slung her bag onto her shoulder as they walked down the street. She glanced at his Hero outfit, the White Lightning costume was pretty simple overall but it looked ridiculous to her. It was all white, with a utility belt and a white helmet. Her brother reminded her of those suited martial arts shows on TV that kids love to watch. You know the ones, where they fight and win and then the monster grows, and then they fight and win again? Shinji loved those shows growing up. It didn't surprise her at all the first time she saw him dressed as White Lightning. Shinji was telling her all about how his day had gone. He'd stopped a bank robbery, rescued a cat from a tree, pulled a woman from a burning car and fought a supervillain. Her ears perked up. Bank robbery and saving cats was one thing. Supervillains though? "What the hell are you thinking, Onii-chan!?" Noriko whirled on her brother and hit him with the full force of her schoolbag, books and all. "Ack!!" Shinji recoiled, "It was just the one!" "You told me you don't fight supervillains! You said it's too risky!! You pinky swore!" "I know what I promised!!" Shinji got angry and stopped walking, turning to face her. He reached up, and touched an imperceptible button on the side of his helmet and the darkened visor whipped back inside the helmet, revealing his face and a scruff of white hair poking out in places. His eyes looked red raw, like he'd been awake for days. "I didn't have a choice!" "You pinky swore, is nothing sacred!?" Noriko yelled, getting angrier and angrier. "I can't help it, sometimes I have to intervene, it's not about--" "--you don't think-- "--saving others, it's my respons--" "--about me? You could get--" "--you can't expect me to just--" "--it's not about that you--" "STOP!!" Shinji snapped, the visor clicked back into place, hiding his face once more. "I'm tired of having this discussion. We have it often enough." Noriko opened her mouth but Shinji held his hand up. "Hey, you feel that?" Noriko paused, listening and waiting. The sun was out, it was summer, she heard kids playing in the distance. She heard the regular hustle and bustle of the city. "No?" Her brother straightened up, "I'll be right back." "I'm not done with you, spandex--" By the time she'd raised her finger, her brother was gone. A snap of electricity, and he was a blur. A few moments passed as she tried to process what had happened. She felt bad. Another argument. Why couldn't she just talk to him like anyone else? And he'd made dinner, even if it was curry again. She'd have to buy him his favourite dessert from that corner store on the way home. An explosion rocked through the city. She saw an enormous plume of black smoke rising, birds scattering in all directions, car alarms whined in response and Noriko's heart sank. She started running, but by the time she arrived the police had cordoned off the building. It was an old apartment, and now it lay in ruins. A dozen people lay bewildered in the street, blinking and shaking their heads like they couldn't understand what had happened. One of them was naked, another was holding 3 dogs in her arms and looking at them as if she was unsure how they got there to begin with. It was her brother. It had to be. Nobody was that fast. Onlookers gasped and stepped back as a section of the building crumbled in on itself as the fires raged higher and higher. She kept waiting, staring at the blaze, until an officer came to ask her if she had been one of the resident's and she just broke down crying. He reached out to comfort her and she recoiled, "NO!!" She screamed, turning and managing to take a single step and then... pop. She was gone in a puff of black smoke. A moment later... pop. She reappeared, smoke dispersing. She was falling. Noriko screamed in panic as she watched a building go rushing past her. Floor after floor, window after window. Her eyes darted all around her, she'd teleported to the end of the street but about 60ft up. Her mind couldn't process what was happening, she acted on instinct and reached out to access the ability to teleport once more and found it came naturally. Pop. She hit the ground. Hard. It seemed momentum carried through her teleportation. Noriko gasped as the air was knocked from her lungs and her bones ached from the impact. But she was alive. That was the first and only time she had used her Quirk. She lay there, gasping, staring through her tussled hair. It looked like her brother's. 2 Weeks Later "Special base of operations for the next generation of superheroes..." Noriko muttered, looking up at U. A. High School, "Smack dab in the middle of the city, for anyone to just walk up to and--" She pushed her against the door and it didn't budge. "Uh huh, what am I supposed to do, knock?!" Noriko looked up at the enormous double doors, "Eh..." She leaned forwards, staring into the keyhole. She could see a courtyard on the other side. "Aaaand--" Pop! Noriko vanished in a cloud of smoke and reappeared on the other side. "Hah! Super-security and--" An electrical current shot up through her spine and she hit the ground, twitching and convulsing as she tried to turn onto her back so she could see her assailant. She saw a crotchety old man smirking down at her. "Konnichiwa, Noriko-chan!! Welcome to U.A. High School, I trust you got your invitation and pass key in the post?" He beamed at her as the shadow of his body shaded her from the summer sun looming down on the courtyard. As the convulsions stopped, Noriko tried to straighten up and sit upright. A few seconds later, the doors opened with a beep as two students stepped through, each holding a pass. One was a boy, of average height and with a lean muscular build. He had shoulder-length, thick, jagged blonde hair tied back in a high ponytail, sides shaved. A permanent scowl sat on his face. Dark green eyes. He wore black high-top sneakers, 3/4 length black cargo shorts and a sleeveless basketball t-shirt black with yellow accents and a logo of a wasp emblazoned on the front. As she stood up, the boy passed her. He was nearly a foot taller, and while he took notice of both her and the old man, neither of them seemed to register with him, and he walked on. "Oh my, he's intense, huh?" The old man chuckled to himself, then turned back to Noriko, "Well then, no pass? Here, take this one." The old man pulled a small plastic card and handed it to her then, just like that, he walked off. "Dormitory 1-C!!" He called over his shoulder. "1-C, 1-C..." Noriko muttered, walking past each of the doors, "A, B--" She came to a stop before the next door, "Ah, 1-C." She tried the door handle. Nothing. She wriggled it back and forth but nothing happened. She heard a voice from inside say something but she missed what, it could have been, 'Just a minute!' but she decided it sounded more like, 'Come in!' so instead, she just teleported inside. Instant chaos. A cat leapt up in sheer terror, ricocheting from the floor to the ceiling and clutching onto the ceiling light, making the light in the room spin and dip in and out as shadows were cast everywhere. "Yo!" Noriko held one hand up, as the boy from earlier stood staring at her, dressed in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. For a second, nothing seemed to register to either of them. Then the silence was broken as the cat unsteadily dropped from the light and onto a sofa with a soft 'thwump'. "S-sorry!" She ran out of the room and slammed it shut behind her. Then noticed students walking past her to each of their rooms. It was a shared dormitory? She checked her details again. Yep. Room 1-C. She was rooming with the spiky-haired frowny-face, then. Super.
  11. Mistborn Alterna

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

    Blinded by the light as the bag was yanked from her head. Voices everywhere. Hands reaching for her, grabbing her. She wanted to scream and kick and bite and lash out but realised her arms were bound behind her and her mouth had been gagged. She choked as she felt the moist fabric on her tongue and teared up. She looked out for a friendly face, but none seemed concerned. In fact, they were assessing her thoughtfully. "I'll give you, say, 20 boxings for her?" One man asked. "She's worth 30!" Another responded. She tried to focus on what was happening but she felt like she had been drugged. Things moved in front of her, hands explored her body, she wanted to scream and bite and flee but she could do none of these things. "...25... and not a boxing more." She felt the presence of a tall, muscular man, a shadow came over her. "You'll make up for that, won't you...?" Calloused hands gripped her chin and then thrust it aside, and darkness enveloped her once more. "What's your name?" She told him. He didn't like that. He had been asking ever since she'd arrived 2 weeks ago. There were lots of things the Master didn't like, though. If it wasn't this, it would be something else. So did it matter? He asked her again, and she told him. That made his anger all the more pure. The whip sliced across her flesh once again and she screamed out. "What's your name?!" The Master was foaming at the mouth, it was rare he took the whip into his own hands, but his workers knew better than to question it. She tried to open her mouth to speak, she felt spit pour out and splash onto her legs and the ground beneath her, only she looked down to see it was blood, not spit, that was now splattered across the barn. At last, through laboured breathing, she spoke her name. "I'm... m-my... n-name..." She dared not look up at him, "... is... Galatea." "T-That's right!" The Master beamed in disbelief, "I'm glad to see we're learning at last... Galatea." Then a sharp pain in her temple. "You can't keep this up..." The old Skaa, a woman by the name of Tress, shook her head in disbelief and frustration. But Galatea refused to listen, as always. "The Master will kill you next time!" "The Master likes my company, now are you going to help me or not?" Galatea gestured at her right leg, a thick, deep wound had sliced it open. It lay between dozens of other wounds, albeit they had healed and now shone white against her tan skin. Her arms and legs were covered in scars, as was her back, but never her face. "You be careful he doesn't tire of it..." Tress muttered, reaching for a poultice. "I learned to bite my tongue, didn't I?" Galatea retorted. "Oh yes, you've broken on the outside, sweetheart, but it's going to take years for you to understand you are never going to leave here." "I'll get out one day..." Galatea growled, wincing as Tress applied a thick paste to her wound. "Wake up! Galatea, wake up!!" The voice was immediately familiar. It was her best friend, Lariot. Galatea had been on this farm since she was 11. At 26, it was all she knew. 2 years after she arrived, Lariot came to the farm. She was smaller and scrawnier than Galatea. She was a little more boy-ish, and had to have been grateful for the lack of attention the Master paid her. The two girls soon became close friends, as Galatea had a habit of getting into trouble, and Lariot had a knack for getting her out of it, and now Lariot was saving her, again. "W-what?!" Galatea groaned, sitting upright. She pulled at the iron collar snugly around her neck, and pushed a finger inside her matching shackles to give her wrists a moment's relief from the pain. The instant she arrived on the farm and was given her iron collar, she had been weakened, and it had only gotten worse over the years. There was no fight left in her. "Galatea, move it!" Lariot was running from their hiding spot as two men in armour marched down towards the barn. The doors crashed open and the two men stepped inside, looking Galatea up and down, giving her the same look the men at the slave market had given her all those years ago. It didn't help that the Master kept her in rags. It hardly allowed her to keep her modesty. She marched past the two men, and up towards the Master's house, she knew why she was being called for. It was no different than any other day. But it was. Galatea just didn't know it yet. As she entered the room, she saw the Master. His bloated belly arcing over the bed like a mountain. She could smell the strange, exotic spices and perfumes that lingered in the room. She could also smell food being cooked in the next room. She was so hungry. She could feel her ribs as she clutched at her stomach. "Come here, Galatea..." The Master beckoned. She couldn't refuse, no matter how badly she wanted to eat. "Yes, Master," She nodded politely to him, as he'd shown her how to bow like a noble woman. Though she wasn't very good at it. "Mm, bring me that fruit there," He nodded at the bulbous, round, fleshy grey thing sat on the table beside his bed. There was also a small, sharp knife beside it. "Yes, that one. And the knife, as well. Hurry up, girl! Or i'll tan your hide before our night's dancing!!" Galatea grabbed the fruit in one hand, the knife in the other and walked back to the bed. Before she could hand the Master the two items, however, he grabbed her and pulled her on top of him. "There, that's better!" Anger welled up inside her, she wanted to lash out, but she couldn't. She couldn't access the anger, she wanted to, she was desperate to. She focused and pictured herself lunging for the knife. But as her concentration increased, she started to feel different. At first, she didn't know what it was, but then she realised. This was strength! "Get off me, you unwieldy whore, why are you so heavy all of a--" The Master looked up at her eyes and panic set in. For a moment, he knew he was trapped, and there was nothing he could do. His face held a kind of serenity, before it was caved in with a single punch. Galatea struck again, chunks of blood, brains and viscera flew everywhere. She hit again, and again, until there was nothing left. Dripping in blood, she got off the now extremely dead Master, and leaned forwards. Picking up the fruit, she grabbed the knife beside it and began peeling the fruit ever so carefully. A few seconds later, as she was slipping the last sliver of fruit into her ravenous lips, the room filled with the Master's guard. She tried to fight them off, killed a couple of them, but then one of them got a lucky hit, cleaved right through her face. The attack took the use of her eyes, and would leave a terrible scar, but she didn't scream, despite the pain, she lay quietly on the ground, cradling her face, as she knew she would not be long for this world. And that was okay. "--Skaa found to be rebellious, have broken the law in multiple counts, including but not limited to theft, conspiracy, plotting, loitering and murder. Have been found guilty and in accordance with the laws of the Lord Ruler are to be put to death." Galatea heard their voices, smelled the rancid stench of the crowd, but that was all. Bloody bandages wrapped around her eyes. They did little but staunch the blood flow for long enough that she may be hung for her crimes. She felt a noose roughly fall around her neck and tighten. She heard the man addressing the crowd explain to them how happy they should be, and that we would soon pay for our crimes and be forgiven in the eyes of the Lord Ruler. Was that really how it worked? She wondered. Then she heard chaos once more. Panic seemed to slip through the crowd. But it didn't last...
  13. 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.
  14. 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'.
  15. 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. 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'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'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."
  16. Hallows

    OOC: Private RP, rated NC-17 for violence, gore, dark themes, etc. spoopy stuff Hallows The engine of the black 1967 Chevrolet Impala roared as it sped down the long, lonely roads of El Paso County, Colorado. Dense pine trees whipped past as a bouncy rock tune thundered from the radio. A tan hand grabbed the clutch and switched gears, dark brown eyes flicked to check her rear-view mirror, but she was the only one driving out here tonight. The night sky was clear tonight, the stars as bright as cut diamond. She smiled, the way she always did. A lop-sided grin that emphasised her strong cheekbones. She had to brush long dark brown hair out of her face as she leaned forwards to touch her smartphone. "Okay, Violet..." She said to herself, keeping one eye on the road, "Its like a band-aid... just... pull it off really quick... and it'll hurt like fuck." She scrolled down the list of contacts until she found the one she was looking for. But not the one she wanted to call. Vincent Hallow - her brother. Violet pressed the call button. Then cursed and disconnected the call before it had a chance to connect. Violet had spent nearly a decade apart from her brother. She'd been a teenager when she last saw him. They had their own lives now, they were a part of different worlds. Vincent had always wanted the quiet life, and no amount of talking, begging, arguing, bribing or fighting ever convinced him otherwise. Sure, every now and then she'd hear through her contacts that he'd gotten himself into a spot of trouble, but he was smart enough to look after himself. Plus, half the reason trouble sought him out was likely because unlike him, she had chosen to follow in the footsteps of their father. Violet Hallow was a hunter. Now we're not talking a little deer hunting here. We're not even talking big game hunting. This was big, big game hunting. The sort you don't generally hear about except in weird magazines, angst-driven teen shows on television and of course, your average word of mouth story spread by your run-of-the-mill crazy. But you'd be surprised by just how much of this can be true. The crazies and the magazines, that is. Not the teen dramas. They're a load of shit. Werewolves. Vampires. Demons. Shapeshifters. Ghosts. And a million other 'things'. She'd taught herself the same way most hunters had to. It was an isolated job. You couldn't draw attention to yourself, or form ties with other hunters. If you did, you drew the ire of the more organised and ill-tempered monsters. You learnt on the job. You made mistakes. Sometimes that caused scars. If you were unlucky, that meant deaths, but it would happen sooner or later. If you were really unlucky, it would mean your own, and really, thats how most hunters died. But you did it because maybe you knew someone who was killed by a monster, a family member or a friend, or you knew a creature that was harmless, innocent that didn't know how to take care of themselves and were killed by someone who thought they were a monster. There were lots of reasons to become a hunter. Some more pure than others. Violet wasn't sure why she'd become a hunter. Maybe it was to protect Vincent. Maybe in becoming a hunter, she'd distanced herself from him. They were always at odds, that when she chose this life, maybe on some level she knew he would do the opposite. Maybe she just wanted to be like dad. "JESUS!" Violet swerved as someone crossed in the street. The Chevy screeched as she hit the brakes, and the car began to skid and turn, but it was too late. She clipped the man, knocking him from the road, into the brush, and sent the car into a spin and onto the other side of the road, where it fell into a ditch. Violet groaned and leaned back, instinctively reaching for her forehead because she had a pounding headache and she wondered if she'd cut herself. Then her brain engaged and she remembered. 14 years under the delusion that she was human. 14 years of sprained ankles and skinned knees. 14 years of high fevers, rumbling stomachs and any number of ailments she suffered through. But at least she was human. Then, suddenly, this woman appeared. At least she appeared human, but she wasn't. She turned Violet's world upside-down. Told her that not only had her father been unfaithful, and the woman who had raised her, was not her biological mother, but she was actually a being of pure magical energy. If her metamorphosis had taken a couple more years to start, she might have taken it a little better. Which 16-year-old girl wouldn't like to be instantly over acne and able to reform herself into any form? But at 14, she was devastated. Still, at least it meant that right now, her head wasn't bleeding. But she was calling Vincent. She reached forwards, pulled her phone from it's dock and hit 'Call'. Once she'd spoken to him, she'd have to pull herself out of the ditch and go searching for the man she'd hit. The phone rang, and rang. For a while, she thought it would just keep ringing and go to voicemail. Then suddenly, it clicked, and she heard breathing. "Hello, Vince?" There was a short pause on the line, followed by a long sigh. "Violet." Vincent's voice replied with a resigned tone. "Long time. What trouble are you in now?" She'd just hit a man driving down the road on her way to a job, and driven her car off the road. Was she in trouble? She supposed not yet. "I'm not in any trouble, Vincent." Her tone, and the proper use of his first name was enough to show she was suitably annoyed. How did he manage to do that? Nearly a decade apart and he was pushing her buttons already. He might only have technically been her half-brother, but they were siblings without a doubt. "Can't your sister call you out of the blue to catch up?" She asked exasperated as she unlatched her seatbelt and fell forwards onto her steering wheel and activated the horn. Eventually she managed to move her knee, and the horn stopped and she kicked her side door open, and fell out into the ditch and brought the phone up to her ear. "Oh you can, dear sister." Vincent said down the line. "However, you've never done so in the past, and judging by the racket, this is no exception." "Vince," Violet dusted herself off as she pulled herself out of the ditch and onto the main road. "I'm tired, i'm dirty, i've just driven my car into a ditch and I think I hit a guy, so do me a favour and quit the wise guy act." She sighed and started walking back to where she had first come off the road. "Sounds like a normal day for you." Vincent replied, sounding amused. Then his breath caught momentarily. "Wait, you mean a mortal? Oh, Vi don't say you've hit a mortal! You know how annoying police are..." "I'm glad your sense of morality went straight to how much trouble we could get into and not the fact that I could have killed a person." Violet scanned the black lines that marked where she'd driven off the road, and traced them back. Walking into the middle of the road, she noticed another stain there. It was almost as dark as the burnt rubber, but not quite. Blood. "Maybe..." She muttered, kneeling down. Violet touched two fingers to the liquid and pulled them across. The blood was thick, sticky and very dark. It was heavily coagulated. Far more so than any blood that would have come from a person hit by a car just minutes ago. She stood back up, wiping the blood off on her jeans. "No look, you don't have to worry about that, i'll figure it out, I was just giving you a call to check up on you, y'know, we haven't talked in so long, I just thought..." She sighed, leaving open silence on the phone. "...Look, Violet." He sighed, "If you're looking for a heart to heart, you know that's not me. That's not because I don't care, okay? What was it my therapist said...'severe introversion coupled with abandonment issues'... Something like that anyway." At that moment, Violet heard something just ahead. She had to cut the conversation short. Hanging up, she shoved the phone into her jean pocket and carefully pushed her way through the woodland brush. She wanted to dive ahead and reach the injured man as quickly as possible, but her instincts were always engaged, and they told her danger lurked around every corner. She stepped over a dead log, braced herself against a tree and saw the man up ahead. He was leant up against a tree near a steep incline, and was teetering near the edge. "Hey, be careful!" Violet called out to him, and for a few seconds, he didn't seem to have heard her. But as she approached, he turned, and immediately lost his footing. Violet ran for him, raised her hand to offer him something to grab onto, but got an incredible fright at seeing his mangled, peeling face that she recoiled reflexively. The man tumbled backwards and Violet quickly gave chase as quickly as she dared. He was tumbling like a runaway ball, picking up speed as he went, until at last, his head hit a rock, there was a sickening crunch, and he fell head over heels into a heap on the floor at the bottom of the steep incline. Violet finally caught up, glancing at the blood-splattered rock before taking a second look at the man. But he wasn't a man at all, not any more. He was a zombie. That much was clear. Upon closer inspection, his flesh was rotting and discoloured, his eyes were sullen and lifeless, his body was giving off a sour odour and it was obvious he was decomposing. She'd met undead before, and not all of them were the unpleasant, flesh-eating zombies you see in most films, but judging from the bits of jagged flesh caught in his broken teeth she was guessing he was one of the more Romero-esque undead. With a reluctant admission that she just wanted to go back to the road, tow her car and get a cheeseburger, she leaned down and reached into the not-a-man's jacket and pulled out his wallet. "Michael Smith." She said, looking at his driver's license, "Sorry, Michael..." She muttered, flicking through his things. He had several twenty dollar bills in his wallet, which she pocketed - she felt no guilt for this, being a hunter didn't exactly pay in most cases, so you got paid where you could. He had two kids. But he had folded his family picture over so that his partner couldn't be seen. Maybe they'd divorced and she'd taken the kids? Who knew. One other thing of note. A key to the Hotel Riverland. She knew that hotel. It was the place she'd come to investigate. Violet stood back up and sighed, it looked as though the glossy trash tabloid, 'Conspiracies! Believe them!!' Had an accurate story in this month. She started back up the incline. The story this month? It had been, 'My Boss Pays Me Minimum Wage And Tried To Eat My Brains!' Deep breath, Violet. She told herself. Pulling her phone out of her pocket once more, she called Vincent for a second time. Technically, third, she supposed. "Hey, sorry." She said quickly, coming onto the road and crossing over towards her car. "Just what exactly is going on?" He asked. "Wait, I don't think I want to know. You find out if you killed that guy yet?" "You sure you don't want to get on a bus and come up here?" Violet asked, chuckling. She thought for a moment, then answered carefully, "No, don't worry about it, Vince. I didn't kill him. So what have you been up to lately? You met any nice girls?" "Yeah, sure." Vincent replied, "Women can't resist the charms of the only man in the city without Internet or a TV." He let out a soft chuckle, and then there was a sound of flint scraping, followed by a long, slow exhale. "Although, who knows, maybe one of the old ladies who hire me to find their dead husbands antique watch might give me a shot. Widows are desperate, right?" "Are you smoking, Vincent?!" Violet snapped down the phone, "I will reach down this phone line and so help me I might just be able to!!" "Oh, please." Vincent replied. "You're worried about carcinogens, but if I said I'd come hunting spooky McNasties with you, you'd jump at the chance. I'll let you figure out which path is more likely to end in my sudden death." "The one that statistically has you at a greater distance from me than the other, Vince. I've got something else to talk to you about, but for right now, i've got a job to finish, to i'll speak to you later, alright?" Violet walked over to her car and popped the trunk and started to walk around the back. "Sure." Vincent said. "I'll just hang by the phone, it's not like I have anything better to do." "It's 2017, Vince. Buy a mobile phone." Violet replied, shaking her head, as she hung up on him. It took nearly an hour to walk to the Riverland. She had a backpack full of things she'd taken from the trunk of her car, as she'd decided to leave the car in the ditch. There was only two options. Wait for the tow car, which could take hours, which she couldn't afford. Or pull it from the ditch herself, using her own 'abilities'. While that in itself wasn't a problem, she worked a bit like a battery. The more power she used, the less she had, and the weaker she became. There was no reason to lift the car out of the ditch with a great show of levitation if she had to absorb a load of energy afterwards, and out here in the boondocks there was no guarantee she'd be able to find a readily available source of energy - at least one she was willing to tap into. Besides, the walk would do her good. The Riverland looked alright as Colorado hotels go. There was nothing immediately unsavoury about it. The building looked as though it had been built entirely from the ground up using pine. It had a log cabin feel to it. She stepped inside, and realised the cleaner had been slacking off. Cobwebs were stacked in the corners, and dust had settled heavily in parts, she noticed a layer of it on the front counter. A few seconds later a woman with sunken eyes and pale skin walked out and flashed a kind smile. "Hi there!" She beamed, brushing a strand of golden hair out of her face, "My name's Kate, welcome to the Riverland, can I book you for a room?" "Well, to be honest, I came here because of a story I read in--" "--oh for goodness sake, that silly magazine, you're the 4th person this month!" "Any truth in it?" Violet asked, raising an eyebrow. "Well golly," Kate looked shocked, "Nobody ever said that before, I mean they just wanted to see what inspired the stories, but..." She frowned. "Call me an avid fan," Violet chuckled, and Kate couldn't help but chuckle with her, "Sure, can I have a room?" "Absolutely, we have a really nice suite, we don't have a lot of guests, so i'll just let you have it at the normal rate." "You're really nice, thanks." Violet grinned and secured her bag while Kate directed her upstairs. As they went upstairs, a large man started coming down the stairs towards them. As they crossed, they were forced to push themselves up against the wall as he was so large. He had to have been at least seven feet tall, and built like a truck. With short scruffy black hair and a thick black moustache. His eyes had a sunken look similar to Kate's. Violet took note of this, but they seemed nice enough, on the surface at least. But she knew better than to take things at face value, especially as she'd dealt with that undead. Then she remembered she still had the key that Michael Smith had had on him. "Here we are." Kate stepped to one side to let Violet into her room. And truthfully, besides the odd cobweb, it was very nice. Very rustic. Kate showed her the bathroom, and a few special features of the room, then as she went to leave, Violet choose her moment perfectly. She quickly pulled the key from her pocket and called for Kate. "Yes?" She turned around. "I found this." Violet said, holding the key up. Kate's face, pale as it was, drained of all remaining colour. "W-where did you find that?" She asked, she raised her hand to take it, but was reluctant to touch it, as if she did, she might turn to dust. "Out in the woods. On my walk here. Why would it have been out there?" Violet asked, leading Kate into a lie. "Oh, I don't know. Guests forget to leave their keys at the desk sometimes." Kate replied, then took the key, and quickly left. Alright. Violet thought to herself. Technically, that was true. It was all circumstantial. Michael might have just had a stay at the Riverland at some point before he became a zombie, and he'd just forgotten to hand his key in. However, why did both Kate, and that strange man both look so ill? And why was Kate so upset at seeing the key in the first place? Something was definitely off here. The tale in the magazine was that one of the workers had been attacked by their boss. If Kate was the owner, then it had to have been one of her previous employees. It wouldn't be hard for someone like her to get that information. An hour later, Kate walked down the stairs. She crossed the foyer, nodded to the large man who was reading a newspaper in the corner, and walked behind the main counter. She started looking through the drawers, the desk, the counter, the mail slots, the folders, everything. Eventually, she found an old folder that had a list of names and numbers, and found several with their names crossed off. Two of which were noted as employees and only one of which had the first name 'Emily' which matched the first name given in the tabloid. Kate grinned, took note of the number and left the counter, giving a wink to the large man as she left, who had a moment of disbelief as she disappeared upstairs. Finally, Kate disappeared into Violet's room, closing the door behind her, then within a couple of seconds, Kate became Violet, her shape reforming into the native-american woman with the long black hair. Yes, that was one of the things she'd really come to appreciate about being a creature of pure magical energy. Shapeshifting sure had it's benefits. She called Emily, and after a short conversation, she convinced her to meet up at a local café. Violet left her bag and walked out of the Riverland. Her main lead here was Emily now, she had to make sure that this girl gave her something to go on or it was all for naught. On the walk down to the café, Violet pulled her phone out and called Vincent. She couldn't help but smile. In the space of a day, she'd called her brother more times than she had in a decade. A couple of rings, and then it answered. "Hey, been sitting around for long, or been doing magic tricks for old ladies?" "Tricks are what prostitutes do, Violet." Vincent replied, "Or... Magicians." He spoke the last word like it had tasted bad coming out of him. "I perform thaumaturgical locator spells for old ladies, thank you very much. I tell you what though, if I ever meet the guy who invented GPS, there will be a smiting...smote...smoting? Is it smiting or smoting?" "You're smiting... smoting... you've smited, smoted, you have smote-- smotten, smot-- smite... how did you pull me into this? Look, I called you for a reason. I'm in Colorado right now. I'm on a job, obviously, but afterwards, i'm gonna drive down to you, it'll only take like a day, so I figure after i've done this i'll come see you and we'll talk, because, the thing is, Vince... I found dad." There was an inhalation of breath followed by a brief pause. Then there was a gasp. "Fffffuck!" Vincent swore, "I fucking dropped my fucking cigarette on my fucking trousers, Fuck!" "Twenty plus years and you haven't learned to manage your mouth and your hands at the same time... i'd ask if we're really related but at least according to my mother we're not related at all, in fact i'm not related to humans, so maybe I should just start rolling my eyes at all of you and start calling you 'fleshbags' like Vael does." Violet sighed and waited for Vincent to regain control of himself. "Don't say it's name, Violet!" Vincent hissed down the phone. "Your mother is like the Candyman and Beetlejuice. Except 10 times as deadly." He let out a genuine sigh of stress. When he spoke again he was quieter, and more serious. "Violet... If you're telling the truth. If... If you've really found him." He breathed in audibly, his breath shaking. "I have more than a few choice words for him, put it that way." "It's a start." Violet let out a short breath, but her gaze was pulled away from her walk when she noticed the sign of the café up ahead, "But alright, i'll call you when i'm leaving, i'm just gonna sort this out, and then i'll be on my way. I'll talk to you soon." She hung up and noticed Emily almost immediately. She was nothing like them. This girl looked happy, healthy, her complexion was normal. She didn't look ill. As Violet walked up to the tables stationed outside the café, Emily nervously recoiled in her chair, until Violet introduced herself, and then she visibly relaxed a little. Violet sat down, and ordered a coffee, Emily did the same, her hand was shaking as she raised the cup to her lips. "You alright?" Violet asked, knowing that she wasn't. "Yeah, just, y'know, small town. Word gets around fast, right?" Emily laughed, but still, the nervousness was there. "Right..." Violet took a sip of her coffee. It was awful, so she set it down, "You know the reason I called you here is because I wanted to know more about your story," Straight away she could see the doubt on Emily's face, "No i'm not here to make fun, or gossip or anything like that, Emily. Truthfully, I need to know, because if there's something hurting people out there, I need to stop it." At that, Emily lowered her coffee cup from her lips and set it down, staring at the contents as though it would offer her an answer. "I worked at Riverlands for 2 years, Ms. Violet, never had no trouble at all. They were real nice to me, always treated me well enough, though they never paid me much, they always gave me enough hours so I never complained but for one thing, Kate never let me work on the third floor. The first floor was the main foyer, cleaning, back room, kitchen, maintenance. Second floor was the guest rooms, mostly, couple of cleaning rooms, and storage space. But the third floor--" "--you were not allowed to work on the third floor?" Violet asked, frowning. "Kate said most of the staff lived up there, took care of the place themselves, and didn't want me pokin' my head in their private residence. Well, one day I just thought with everyone out they might need clean washing, or need dishes doing, and i'd save them the job, and so I went upstairs to do it and..." "Go on..." Violet gently pushed her to continue, careful not to push Emily so hard that she closed herself off. "Well I opened the door and Michael just attacked me, and suddenly everyone was attacking me, grabbing at me, biting at me, and I just ran outta there fast as I could and never looked back, only thing was I had no money, and it was such a mad story, I thought nobody would believe me but it might make me some money." "So, you sold the story." Violet let out a short breath, looked back at her coffee, and thought better of taking another sip, then stood up. "Alright, I really appreciate your help, Emily. I'll do what I can, but for now you should just carry on with your life, look for a new job, and maybe when your boss tells you not to go somewhere you dont go there. Usually just because you'll keep your job, never mind that you might get mobbed by a bunch of monsters." Violet chuckled but Emily looked shaken by her dark humour, but she couldn't help it. So Emily had been attacked, and yet although she was traumatised she was very much alive. But why? If she'd really been attacked as she'd claimed, well, most things, especially the undead, wouldn't have left her alive. Could she have misread the undead called Michael Smith? Or perhaps he was unrelated as unlikely as it seemed. The only thing for it was to reach the third floor. Sometimes a little brute force was called for. She always liked that bit. That's what her bag of goodies was for. Back at the hotel, she opened her bag and emptied the contents out onto her bed. She'd brought a number of things with her. Sure, she'd have liked to bring a lot more, but it wouldn't have been practical. She had a stake for vampires. Always an essential. She had a number of relics and holy signs in case of various ghosts, demons or old Gods, as you never know what might show up, then there was the more straight-forward solutions that made more sense in this case. She'd brought her favourite pistol, a powerhouse Desert Eagle .50 Caliber. And then an old-school machete for lopping heads, because they could very well be zombies, after all. She kitted herself out, feeling a little like Schwarzenegger in one of his action films, then stepped out and started up the stairs. It was eerily quiet. She reached for her phone, touching the side of her pocket. Yep, it was there. She hadn't forgotten it like an idiot, as she had done in the past. She remembered once she'd left a trip-mine hooked up to a detonator on her phone so she could set it off as a werewolf ran through a tight corridor, only problem was she'd left her phone in the casino the night before. Suddenly she found herself reaching for her phone and having to run down the corridor at breakneck as this slathering beast chased her for what seemed like several blocks. Third floor. Violet checked behind her. Good to double check. Nobody there. She put one hand on her gun, and carefully, silently, she turned the door handle and opened the door to the third floor. As she opened the door, she was baffled at what she saw before her. There before her, were a half doze creatures, shuffling back and forth, dazed and confused. One of them noticed her, and immediately started towards her, then suddenly all of them charged. Violet raised her pistol to fire, but the first creature was almost upon her, it was safer to run than take the shot not knowing if it would kill it or not. She'd been unable to see what they were in the darkness of the room, but she could hear them coming down the stairs behind her. She quickly reached for her phone and looked around, she wanted to run for the exit, but there was nowhere to go, if she got to her room, she had more supplies, she might be able to fight them off then. As she sprinted down the hall, passing the rooms, someone left one of the guest rooms, and she noticed it was Kate. Only it wasn't. This woman was very much like Kate, but she was a zombie. Violet was so confused that had she not been engulfed in the enormous shadow seconds before she reached him, she would have crashed into the towering beast. He growled and grabbed for her. She heard Kate moan behind her. Ducking the enormous zombie, Violet ran into her room and locked her door behind her. She called Vincent. "Hi, Vince!" Violet chimed. BANG! Something crashed against the outside of her bedroom door. She glanced around the room. Her options were the far window, though she was on the second floor up, or the bathroom. Though there was no way out from there. She supposed a second floor drop was doable, and she didn't technically have bones, but even so... "How are you?!" She asked loudly over the noise. BANG!! "I'm fi-" He cut off after the second bang. "What the hell is going on!?" "Nothing? Nothing!" Violet lied, "I'm fine, I--" BANG!!! "Zombies. I suppose. Probably. No definitely, I think. Except i'm not really sure. Because they weren't zombies a second ago. But now they are, and they're literally all zombies now. I'm really honestly confused." BANG!!! There was a snap as wood shattered and splintered. She stepped away from the door. "Oh I see, just a little bit of the walking dead, not really worth mentioning up front, huh?" Vincent said, and there was a shuffling noise down his end of the phone, followed by a thump, and the flicking pages. "Zombies... Zombies... Ah! Here we go. Wait are we talking Haitian voodoo zombies or an undead curse? Oh or they could be thralls of a warlock, or..." "Oh, fuck... FUCK!!" Violet growled, "Hang on!" She threw the phone on the bed, "Fuckin' bitch lied to me, it's so obvious now..." Violet threw her gun and machete onto the bed and started rifling through her things. "Shit, shit, Vince, shit!" She ran back to the phone and put him on loudspeaker. "It's a fucking warlock!! I spoke to her earlier, I thought she was the victim in all this but she started it when they fired her for a petty grievance, it's gotta be... but I don't..." She grabbed her bag and up-ended it. Nothing. No lipstick (as if she had any), no pens, no chalk, no nothing. She looked around the room, there wasn't so much as a half-melted chocolate mint on her pillow. What kind of room service was this?! Suddenly, she heard a terrible crunch as a massive bear paw of a hand came through the door. They'd be through any minute. Well, fuck. "This probably isn't the best time to bring up that in all this time you still can't remember to carry a vial of salt or a stick of chalk." Vincent said. "Look if it's an enthralment then that means a ritual, and that means thaumaturgy. You've just got to find a way to sever the connection." "You're right, its not the best time, but i've got all of that, its just not on me, seeing as how I thought I was dealing with the undead, and I had just been in a car crash, thank you brother, you're being very helpful this evening!" At that very moment, the door smashed open. Violet whirled around, grabbing as many things as she could on the bed, and dashed for the bathroom. Slamming the door shut behind her. She took a deep breath and let it out. She heard movement from the next room, and then the banging resumed, only now it was on the bathroom door, the last bastion of her security. Then she heard something she didn't expect - a voice from the next room. "So, now what, genius?" Vincent asked. Right, she'd left her phone on the bed. Now what, genius? She looked around the bathroom, "I could use some ideas!" She called back through the door as she started to look through the bathroom. She was starting to curse the day she lost all her human biology. Blood would have been really, really useful right about now. She kind of missed it. "You were trained by the same guy as me!" Vincent yelled down the phone, sighing in frustration. "Running water grounds out the magic of a thaumaturgic circle, but you'd need to run it right through wherever the circle is. Either that or..." he hesitated. "Violet, I know they are innocent, strictly speaking, but... I'd rather them than you." "Shit..." Violet looked along the edge of the bath, and grabbed a bottle of shower gel, "Right, never mind me or them, i'll choose option 'None of the above'." She quickly opened the bottle of shower gel and started pouring it all over the floor. But it wasn't in a big puddle, or randomly. This was precise. It was a series of runic symbols. It was a spell. Most spells come with a cost. Most of those costs are pretty straightforwards and they can range from anything insignificant as a feather, to something as heavy as a person's soul. But if you want to reverse a spell? Well, if you happen to have met the person who cast it. Check. And have something of theirs, such as their hair. Check. Violet pulled a blonde hair off the sleeve of her jacket as she was devising her plan, laying it in the centre of her circle. And you know the right words. Check. And you're willing to put the curse back on the caster? Well, she who dealt it, and all that. Check? Violet knelt down within the circle and began reciting the ritual for the reversal of an enthralment spell. It was a pretty broad reversal. Simple. But she had to keep it that way for two reasons. First, because it was then most likely to succeed. Second, because Emily was young, she likely only had the most basic grasp of magic, even as a warlock, and while appearances can be deceiving, her abilities were clear when she met her in person. Emily wasn't nervous of the staff at Riverland. Emily was nervous of Violet. A hunter. As she finished reciting the incantation, she slammed her hand into the centre of the circle, and an aura thrummed, rumbling from the centre of the circle, like the drum of a music beat. Within a few seconds it was over. The banging stopped. There was silence. Violet stood up, feeling a little drained, and apprehensively walked over to the bathroom door. She listened, but there was nothing. Then a few seconds later, she heard something. "OooooOOOOoooOOOOWWWWWWHAT the hhhHHEEEELL!!?" Violet grinned and opened the door. The enormous man was clutching his arm, his fist looked like it had been cut to ribbons and it was horribly bleeding, but he was otherwise unharmed. He looked healthy and normal once again, as did Kate. She was cleansed of the Warlock - Emily's - curse. 7 people had been cursed due to Emily's childish behavior. One person had been seriously injured, one person was dead, and many lives had been put on hold for weeks. All for a petty grudge. Kate had been so happy to be free of the curse, that she'd refunded her room cost, and given her a room for the night, while the tow truck pulled her car out of the ditch. Violet was on the drive home, listening to the radio, when she heard an interesting piece of news on a peculiar little station she frequented. "Here's a funny one for you listeners, if you believe it - and you should! A woman, if you please, was walking down the street in Colorado today, when she up and began to mummify before turning to ash before frightened onlookers! In this day and age you'd think people would be able to take a picture with their smartphones but by the time anyone had their phones out they say she was dust in the wind, speaking of which, here's one you'd know, it's Kansas." Violet couldn't help but grin. She turned up the volume.
  17. 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, " 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?
  18. 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.
  19. 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 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..."
  20. Konoha ~ Bonds [private]

    [Kikyou] "Aaah..." Sora sighed, relaxing his shoulders and leaning back. He studied the contents of his tea cup as Kiyoko leaned over the table and grabbed a sweet bun and started munching. Omi seemed uncharacteristically quiet, and Hakirama was content with the silence that tea and snacks had brought him. The group sat around a large table as the sun was setting. The tea shop owner lit the lanterns outside, nodding to Hakirama with a smile as he went. "Bun?" Kiyoko asked, holding the tray out to Omi. Kiyoko's expression was neutral, as though there was nothing to the gesture but being polite. But it was more than that, Sora smiled at the pair of them and took another sip of tea. "Hm?" Omi said distractedly, "Oh... No thanks." Kiyoko looked down at the tray and shrugged, putting it back on the table. Sora cleared his throat, "Mm, Omi-chan? Are ya alright?" "Nothing I haven't experienced before..." She grumbled, her expression becoming slightly hostile. "Just get it over with already..." "Get what over with?" Sora asked in an inquisitive tone, he punctuated his question with a sip of tea, "Don't ya like tea?" "I don't." Omi replied flatly, "But I meant... Just make your decision already. I know what's gonna happen." She leaned back and folded her arms, her expression defiant. "It's not like I care." "Oh..." Sora was taken aback, his gaze wandered to Hakirama and then back to Omi. "Well, Omi-chan..." Sora put his tea cup down and cleared his throat, "Ya helped us fight Makoto, when we thought we were in real trouble, ne?" He held his palm to his mouth and chuckled, "... sorry." He shook his head, "I didn't need t'question yer loyalty, or ability. So, I can support ya, Omi-chan." Omi's expression faltered for a moment, her features softening. When she realised, she quickly fixed herself with a scowl and pushed her chin out. "Well... I wouldn't have been able to do anything if it wasn't for you and your bugs." Sora gave her a thankful nod and then silence permeated the room. It didn't matter that the chatter of the customers around them, the music playing or the bustle of the owner and his staff kept the tea shop loud enough. For them, there was silence. "Ah-hm!" Sora cleared his throat deliberately, nudging Kiyoko who glared at him in response. "Fine." Kiyoko put her half-eaten bun down and shook her head, "I can't support you." "Tch!" was all Omi could say, and her scowl worsened. Her eyes, however, looked wounded, and lonely. "... Fine by me, Yoko-hime." She said bitterly. "I can't support someone that has nothing they care about." Kiyoko replied hastily, picking up her tea cup again, "Do you care about anything? Anything at all?" She asked, frowning in disbelief. "What do you care about, Sora?" Kiyoko asked, turning to face the young boy. "Oh..." Sora hesitated but then smiled and answered, "My family. I love my mother an' father. An' I love my ants... an' I want t'catalogue all the insects in our world." "I want to be Hokage." Kiyoko replied to him, facing Omi, "I love my mother. I love my father. I love my two stupid brothers and I love Konoha. I even love Uncle Makoto, and the rest of my strange family. But most of all, I want to be Hokage. That's what I care about. That's what drives me. What about you, huh?!" Kiyoko picked up a sweet bun and threw it at Omi with the speed of a deadly kunai. "...Drives, huh?" Omi asked as she caught the bun in her hand, and crushed it, dropping the crumbs to the table. "...I dont have friends, and I don't have a family. All I have is being a Ninja. I want to be... a legendary ninja." Kiyoko looked at Sora and he shrugged. Her gaze wandered to Hakirama, but it was as expressionless as a face could be. The truth was, there were a million ways of defining a person's drive, or what they care about. Without something to drive them, they were worthless in Kiyoko's eyes. A drive to be someone, to do something, or to attain something they had previously found unattainable, is what makes a person. Until now, Omi had been little more than a void filled with sarcasm and bad social skills. "Good enough." Kiyoko said at last, nodding to herself, "Yeah, i'll support you, Omi-san." "Eh?" Omi gasped, suddenly surprised as she stared at Kiyoko. "Oh well that's good." Hakirama said, finally showing signs of mild interest, "It would have been awkward if you had decided not to support Kiryuin san. I'd already decided she was staying, besides... I dont have the authority to exile her from the village even if I wanted to." "EH!?" Omi almost coughed, her face a broiling picture of shock and legitimate rage. Sora chuckled at the revelation, but Kiyoko looked equally outraged. The tea cup she'd been holding shattered into dust under the pressure of her grip, but she sat in silence, staring at Hakirama as though doing so for long enough would bore a hole through his head. "Cheer up Hyūga-san, you've all managed to earn my mild approval. I now estimate you all stand a small chance of not being total failures." He said with a grin. "Today you've shown you can put your personal differences aside and work as a team. I guess I can trust you with your own lives... but can I trust you with the lives of others?" Sora put his hand up, "Sensei... ya already have." Then he looked to either side of himself, clocking both Kiyoko and Omi, then looked back at Hakirama and smiled, "That's not a question any one o' us three need t'answer." He put his hand back down and Kiyoko couldn't help but smirk at the boy's observation. "I guess we'll have to see tomorrow then... Report to the Hokage's office at dawn." Hakirama stood up as he spoke. "Our next mission is a C rank, bodyguard mission." "No!" Sora exclaimed, Kiyoko watched in shock as Sora's eyes widened in surprise for the first time since meeting him. She hadn't thought him capable of pulling that kind of face. She almost laughed if not for Sora's genuine shock. "Oh no!" Sora said again, panicking and holding onto the table. "Do you need to poop or something?" Omi asked, raising her brow. Sora leapt out of his chair and bolted for the door. "I think he might--" Kiyoko started as she took a sip of tea. "KATSU!!" Sora yelled at the top of his lungs as he ran out. A jet of tea sprayed from Kiyoko's mouth, covering Omi and Hakirama. [Beautiful Green Wild Beast] Sora shot through Konoha as fast as his legs would carry him. People darted aside as his speed kicked dust up behind him, and the wind that followed blew through the streets of Konoha, knocking fruit from stalls, tearing things from citizen's hands and removing more than a single wig. An old lady up ahead finally finished putting the final touches on her new stall. She took a step back and sighed, sweat beading on her forehead. At last it was done. Then she heard it. A terrible rumbling approaching. She turned and saw the young fox-faced boy coming at her like an arrow from a bow. Her eyes darted to her stall and she screamed in pained agony knowing what was coming. She threw her hands out, commanding him to stop. "No! No not my--!!" But it was fine. Sora missed the stall entirely, colliding with her instead. The old woman screamed as she held on for dear life. Everything was passing her in a blur. Her old fingers could barely hold on, but she had to, for what would happen if she let go? She screamed for the boy to stop, but it seemed he could barely hear her above the sound of the roaring wind. "Sorry, treasured senior-sama!" Sora yelled back over his shoulder, "Can't stop! Dog in peril!!" The old lady gasped, but then her shock turned to determination and that was that. She'd committed herself. The dog had to be saved! So she continued flapping behind the boy, holding on with white knuckles as his speed seemed to bring them into another dimension. Or, perhaps more likely, her cataracts didn't afford her much in the way of details at mach speed. At last! The river was up ahead. It was the place he'd last seen Katsu. "I'm comin, Katsu!" Sora roared with passion, but saw an enormous fence ahead of him, blocking his way to the river. Buildings on either side. There was no time, he had to scale them. As he threw his arms up, the old lady cheered. "That's it m'boy! CLIMB!!" She cackled but then shrieked in horror as bugs exploded from inside his sleeves and she reflexively let go. Of course, immediately regretting that decision. Sora directed his bugs ahead of him in a wave and they quickly formed in a pool, as he approached he leapt into the air and landed in the pool, braced himself and started to leap once more, but this time the ants carried him up and over the fence until he was able to leap the final stretch and land on the other side. Moments later he heard a muffled, 'Oof!' as the old lady hit the fence on the other side and finally came to a stop. [Konohamaru's Theme] "Katsu!!" Sora exclaimed as he ran up to the little dog with the squishy face. At last, he stopped just in front of the dog and bent down, "Katsu, i'm so super 'specially sorry, how can I ever make it up to ya?!" Large wobbly tears threatened to stream in the corners of Sora's eyes as he stared in expectation at Katsu. The little dog looked as though it hadn't moved more than a few inches since being left. It slowly looked up at Sora, then blinked each eye independently. Truthfully, it was really more like a couple of winks punctuated with little squeaks as it's eyelids moved. Then it stood up and walked over to Sora and after a moment's consideration, Katsu leapt up onto Sora's shoulder and collapsed, so that his legs were hanging over either side of his shoulder. "Katsu!!!" Sora's lip began to wobble, and then a strange noise permeated the air. It sounded like a snare drum was tumbling down a flight of stairs. "Euch..." Sora's lips curled as he held his nose at Katsu's horrendous butt trumpet. Sora's expression returned to normal, "Ya disgust me, little dog." But Katsu took it in his stride, and licked Sora on the nose, and that single, solitary act seemed to smooth things over. [Chichi to Haha] "Mum, dad...?" Kiyoko walked up to the family dining table the following morning. She was dressed, ready to go and stood before her mother, Hidemi, her father, Shiro and her two young brothers, Aki and Taki. The two boys were fighting amongst themselves while trying to shovel in toast and jam. Shiro was reading a newspaper to himself while Hidemi was delicately and expertly breaking up the fight between her siblings. "Hmm?" Shiro looked up from his paper and upon seeing Kiyoko, laid it to rest on the table. "Oh, good morning, Yoko-chan." "Darling?" Hidemi caught Shiro's attention and nodded at the two boys, then as Shiro turned his attention to breaking up their fight, Hidemi focused on her daughter, "Morning, Kiyoko-chan, are you ready for your big day?" Kiyoko swallowed nervously. She could see the look of unquestioning happiness on her mother's face. She didn't want to disappoint her. And - though Shiro would have said it would have been nice - she didn't need a sharingan to notice her father's keen gaze on her as well, despite his involvement as pacifier for the twins. "I-I... think so." Kiyoko smiled and then shrugged, "No... m-maybe not." "That's very honest of you, Yoko-chan." Shiro replied, nodding solemnly, "I wasn't ready for my--" "Dad, please don't call me that." Kiyoko asked, her tone pleading. Her father had called her that for as long as she could remember, and it didn't matter how often she asked him not to, he still did it. Hidemi reminded him with a scowl, and Shiro held his hands up defensively with a chuckle. It didn't help now, that Omi was calling her that as well. "Sorry, sorry," Shiro nodded and then continued, "But, I wasn't ready for my first mission either. Let's just say I--" "Your father threw up." Hidemi interrupted. Shiro's face went pale as though he might go for round two right then and there. "H-Hidemi!" Shiro growled. "Aaaaall over the Hokage." Hidemi smirked as she noticed that Shiro was coping poorly with breaking up the two boys, so quick as a flash she kicked one of their chairs just enough so that it slid a few inches out of reach of one another and then wobbled, settled and the fight was over. "I was scarred." Kiyoko couldn't help but laugh, then found herself choking on it as she looked to her father, only to see Shiro's mortified face. "A-Anyway, i've got to go..." Kiyoko turned and made for the front door. "Good luck, Yoko-chan!" Shiro called, as Kiyoko left. Hidemi jabbed him in the ribs and he winced and apologised. [Hokage] Walking into the Hokage's office was a surreal experience. It hadn't been the first time she'd seen it. The academy had taken her on a trip here once, to learn about how the village functions in it's day to day. It wouldn't even be the first time she'd seen the Hokage, as she had seen her on multiple occasions. But this was different. She couldn't let it show, however. She had to remain professional. This was her first real mission. She looked over to her teammate's, Sora and Omi, and suppressed a reaction as she noticed that Sora was sweating profusely and she couldn't describe the expression on Omi's face, but it didn't look pleasant. Just then, the door opened and closed behind them and the Hokage walked in, swept around the side of her desk, and sat. "All present and accounted for I see", the Hokage said, shooting Omi a glance in particular, "Are you all prepared to be briefed?" "Yes, Hokage-sama." Hakirama said with a respectful bow of his head. "The sooner we're done, the better." Omi said, folding her arms. "Y-Yes, Hokage-sama." Sora nodded fervently. "We're ready." Kiyoko added confidently, "What's our mission?" "Escort mission." The Hokage began to explain, "You will travel to Ryukyu Port, a busy trade port. You will meet with a merchant who has special cargo. You will board the ship and protect the merchant, his crew, and his cargo at all costs, until he reaches his destination in the Land of Water." "Hokage-sama?" Kiyoko stepped forwards, "What is the merchant's special cargo?" "Not our concern. The merchant paid for C rank ninja, which means it is nothing important enough to warrant any real risk. At most you'll just be protecting against bandits." "These kinds of missions are fairly common, Hyūga-san." Hakirama explained. "Anyone travelling with something valuable enough to involve dangerous ninja or assassins would pay for higher ranked ninja." So that was it. That was her first mission. Kiyoko nodded and thanked the Hokage, and the team left with what must have no doubt been a number of conflicting thoughts and emotions. But that didn't matter. For Kiyoko, this was her first big step towards becoming the Hokage. A dream she had held for as long as she could remember.
  21. Konoha ~ Bonds [private]

    [Bad Situation] Despite his cheery exterior, beads of sweat glistened on Sora's face. He watched in silence as Kiyoko slowly turned to face them. She was drenched from head to toe. Long dark blue hair, sopping wet with river water, scattered over her face. Her pupils were pinpricks as she snapped the litter picker she'd been holding in two. "Oi... slacker..." Kiyoko's voice was deeper, her tone was authoritative. "Come here..." "Slacker!?" Omi snarled, but then she recoiled slightly, and then with a huff she stayed silent and stomped towards Kiyoko. "...I said sorry, alright?" "Yeah, I heard you!" Kiyoko growled. As Omi stood before her, Kiyoko held out her hand, "Give me that. Now." She added, nodding at the litter picker Omi had left behind. "Fine..." Omi rolled her eyes as she went back to the litter picker and bent down to retrieve it. "I wasn't the one who broke your one but whatever..." She stood up and offered the litter picker Kiyoko. "Yeah, yeah." Kiyoko muttered, snatching the litter picker out of Omi's hand. "About that--" She turned the litter picker around, grabbed it with both hands, then snapped Omi's picker in two, throwing it at the girl's feet. Omi's right eye raised up, her expression perplexed. She folded her arms across her chest and cocked her head slightly to the side. "Uh... as long as you're.... happy?" "Hm!" Kiyoko smirked and mimicked Omi by folding her arms across her chest. [Daylight of Konoha] Her smirk, turned into a little grin and Kiyoko nodded, "Yeah. Good job. Using Jutsu to clear all this trash makes a lot more sense than using these stupid things." "Kiyoko-chan?" Sora raised an eyebrow, "You're making more of a mess..." Kiyoko looked from Sora to the ground in front of her, it was scattered with the splintered corpses of the litter pickers. "Ah... r-right." She muttered, leaning down and starting to pick up the pieces. Sora's smirk widened and he shuffled over, adding his litter picker to her bag of trash. "Uh....right..." Omi said hesitantly, nervously scratching at her arm. "Well... get back to work then." Kiyoko raised her eyebrow with a look of expectation, then turned and walked off. Sora cleared his throat and turned to Omi, "She's a funny one, hm? I know all about her, but she keeps surprisin' me." "Funny? She's down right whacked o-" Omi cut her sentence off and frowned at herself, "I-I mean... not like... not in a bad way but..." She trailed off. "That's a start, Omi-chan." Sora patted her on the shoulder and then bent down to start adding more trash to his bag, "So, where are ya from, Omi-chan?" "Uh, hello, orphan?" Omi said with a roll of her eyes. "I don't exactly know my family tree very well." "Mm..." Sora nodded to himself, "What's it feel like t'be an orphan? I bet it's lonely, ne?" Omi stared at him for a moment, her eyes squinting in annoyance. Then she turned away from Sora, her fingers clenched at her side. "Yeah." She said simply as she stalked away from him. "Omi-chan!" Sora called after her as she left, "Ya don't have t'be!" "Yo, all of you!" Hakirama called over to them. Omi turned to where the Jounin was standing waving them over, and she walked towards him without responding to Sora. He waited until they had all arrived before continuing. "Looks like you're almost done. That's 500 ryō for each of you." "500?" Omi almost coughed. "But... that's barely enough to get the Beef Ramen in the village!" "We've been working for hours and all we get is 500 ryō?" Kiyoko grumbled in disbelief. "Hm," Sora started patting down his pockets, as he and Kiyoko joined Omi and Hakirama. "What did you expect? You're picking up garbage... spoilers; it does not pay well." Hakirama put his hands on his hips, "Why do you think I wasn't participating? I don't need 500 ryō that badly..." "Sensei?" Sora raised his hand, "Shouldn't we do somethin' more fittin' to our abilities as shinobi? Logically, that this mission is only worth a maximum of 2000 ryō, it's a job any ol' guy could do. We may not do high-rank missions. But we should be doin' somethin' more appropriate, ne?" Sora cocked his head to one side expectantly. "You mean C-rank missions like bodyguarding and escort missions?" Hakirama suggested. "That's an excellent idea, sensei." Sora replied. Meanwhile, Kiyoko and Omi had started to watch the exchange between the two boys. "If we were t'get a mission like that, we could make a significant contribution to the village--" And without missing a beat, "--and our wallets." Kiyoko raised her eyebrows in surprise at Sora's sly conversation with their Jounin leader, then turned in expectation of Hakirama's almost guaranteed put-down. "Sadly, I was hesitant enough about trusting you three with people's garbage, let alone their lives." Hakirama replied flatly. "However, you didn't screw this up, so who knows? Maybe we can move you up to dog walking soon." Omi let out a long whistling noise that dropped down in pitch, before she ended it with a fart noise. "Are you really that earnest? I thought it was an act at first..." "Hm?" Sora glanced at Omi, before returning his focus to Hakirama, "Sensei, I feel urged to tell ya there's more than a 95% chance o' Kiyoko-chan an' Omi-chan findin' a way to do a much higher rank mission. They'd be doin' it without'cha. Plus, as their medical nin, i'd be honour-bound t'go with 'em. So, it might be best t'do somethin' that'll satisfy their ambition, under ya supervision." Leaning in to Omi, Kiyoko muttered under her breath, "He's dead." "Persistence, a good quality in a ninja..." Hakirama said with a smirk. He walked past Sora and with lightning reflexes he flicked him on the nose before walking off, urging them to follow him. "However, while I appreciate your tenacity, I would appreciate your respect of my judgement more." He added. "Well now, look at the time. I think we should have some dinner. You said the Beef Ramen was around 500 ryō, right Kiryuin-san?" "Damn it..." Omi whined, following Hakirama in a defeated huff. [Paradise] The sun was beginning to disappear along the horizon. Casting a slight orange glow upon Konohagakure. Kiyoko, Omi, Sora and Hakirama sat in a local open-air ramen shop, enjoying the simple pleasure of a hot meal. "Aaaah..." Kiyoko sighed as she finished the last mouthful of ramen broth. "That's so tasty, I could eat a second--" A long slurping noise interrupted her. Sora placed his bowl down with a contented look on his face. Then placed the bowl atop the other five he'd already consumed. "Eh?!" Kiyoko gasped, her eye twitching violently before she quickly regained her composure. "Hm?" Sora turned to look at Kiyoko and then chuckled, "Oh, my mother says I have a quick metabolism." "That doesn't last forever y'know." Omi said with a mouthful of noodles. She made a final slurp and gasped in appreciation. "If you keep eating like that you'll have a fat ass when you reach the other side of 25." Sora smirked with a knowing look on his face. "Yes, sensei." He replied. Kiyoko leaned back on her stool and stretched, then something caught her eye and she leaned forwards so quickly that she almost fell over the top of the ramen chef's counter. She covered the side of her face with a hand, and leaned down onto the counter. "Uh, what are you looking at?" Omi asked, craning her neck over to see. Quick as lightning, Kiyoko shot out her free arm, and shoved Omi forwards, back towards the counter. "Don't." Kiyoko urged Omi, her expression had genuine need to it. "Just--" "Evenin', Chief!" Sora called, raising his hand. All the colour drained from Kiyoko's face. A man dressed in a black kimono walked over. On the back of his kimono was the red and white paper fan symbol of the Uchiha clan. The man was tall, broad-shouldered, with a scruffy mop of raven-like hair. He had three long scars on his face. One that went diagonally across his forehead, through his nose and down his cheek. The other two scratched down the right side of his forehead in vertical lines, passing through his right eye, in which he was blind, and down through the diagonal scar. He had a touch of grey in his beard and smoked a pipe. "Good evening." Makoto Uchiha replied, nodding to the boy. Makoto was the Chief of Police in Konohagakure. And, as Kiyoko was currently whispering to Omi, he was her uncle. He glanced across Sora and Omi, his eye lingering on Kiyoko for a moment before turning to Hakirama. "Evening, Hakirama-san. I see you've students." Makoto took a long drag on his pipe and blew the smoke up into the air. "Had to happen sometime I suppose." Hakirama replied with his usual, dull expression. He eyed them from where he was sat next to them at the bar. He waited a moment, and then his eyes narrowed. "It's impolite to not introduce yourself, you know..." "Oh..." Omi replied, and then she waved half-heartedly at Makoto, "Yo, big chief. I'm Omi." Hakirama made a weird choking noise, before suddenly coughing all over his food. "The orphan," Makoto seemed to allude to something with his tone, "Yes. I hope you're listening to your sensei, Hakirama is a wise shinobi, and you would do best to heed his advice." "My name is Sora Sakai, Chief." Sora offered a slight bow, "Son of--" "--Koji Sakai. Yes, I know him. And I know you, Sora-kun." Makoto turned his attention to Kiyoko and for a few moments he just studied her in silence. "Sit up straight, niece." "Yes, uncle." Kiyoko did as she was told, but her expression seemed resigned. "Project your voice, or nobody will take notice." Makoto added. "Yes, uncle." Kiyoko repeated, this time focused in both tone and volume. She put her chopsticks down on her bowl and stood to leave but before she did so, she hesitated and turned back to face her uncle and bowed, then hurriedly left Sora, Omi and Hakirama alone with the chief of police. "I expect you'll all be chuunin before long, under Hakirama-san's tutelage." Makoto nodded to them, and started to leave. "Yeah, if the exam has a section on how to get garbage water out of your sandals... I might just become the freakin' Hokage!" Omi said with a soft chuckle. "Apologies, this one seems to have misplaced her manners at some point." Hakirama said to Makoto. "You give me too much credit, Uchiha-san. I'm already beginning to think teaching isn't my calling..." "Stress is bad for the skin." Makoto replied simply, "It will turn your hair grey, Hakirama-san, if you let it." He paused and turned back to face the group, "Should you wish it, however, you are more than welcome to assign your team to my care. Kiyoko already balances her missions with you, alongside training from the Hyūga clan, as well as my own instruction. I'm sure she would welcome the free time that combining my lessons with her missions would allow. Failing that," He turned his attention to Omi and Sora, "Should you wish to train alongside your teammate, you are welcome to join us in her next session tonight." And with that, Makoto left. "Sensei?" Sora raised his hand until Hakirama glanced at him, and then pointed at his teacher's head, "You have a grey hair now..."
  22. Konoha ~ Bonds [private]

    [Rainy Day] The morning sun was enshrouded by dark clouds. Rain fell in heavy sheets. In the distance, the sound of thunder followed the occasional flash of lightning. The weather was miserable, yes, but it didn't dampen people's spirits. Stores and market stalls opened as usual, though the stall owners set canopies out to encourage people to browse their wares while escaping the rain. A small crowd of people began to gather, eager to get their daily essentials and run back home through the rain. Two children were playing in the puddles rapidly forming in the dirt streets, while a shaggy black dog darted down the street. Kiyoko Hyūga let her bedroom curtain fall back in place, drenching her room in shadow once more. She'd had enough of watching the morning markets outside her house. After all, she couldn't be wasting time. Not today. Today was the day she became a Genin. She had worked hard in the Academy, and was considered a star pupil, in spite of her 'failings' as some would call them. She was the child of Hidemi Hyūga and Shiro Uchiha. Kiyoko was tall for her age, slender of frame, with long dark blue hair that fell down past her shoulders save for her fringe which was cut short, just above her eyebrows. Her eyes were dark, unlike those of her mother, Hidemi, who had the instantly recognisable white eyes of a Byakugan inheritor. While she shared her father's eyes, and her mother's hair, she had inherited neither of their clan's eye techniques. Both the Byakugan and Sharingan remained well out of reach for her. However, she had not allowed that to stop her climb to the top of her Academy class. "Kiyoko-chan!" Her mother called from downstairs. Kiyoko checked herself one last time in the mirror. She was wearing a white kimono with black trim, long sleeves that covered her hands while at rest and a pair of black form-fitting shorts. Her legs were bandaged, with a single tool pouch strapped to her left leg, and her Konoha forehead protector tied around her waist in place of a belt. "Kiyoko-chan you're going to be late for practice!" Hidemi called again. "I'm coming, mom!" Kiyoko called back, sighing. It was good enough. She took a deep breath, walked to her bedroom door, put her hand on the knob, and twisted it. As she opened the door, however, she felt a presence. Something was coming right at her. She had to move. [Bad Situation] A body came crashing through her bedroom door, blasting it open as she darted out of the way. "Wh--hey!!" Kiyoko growled, turning to see the assailant charging back at her, forcing her out of her room. The attacker was small, but fast. He raised a fist and threw a punch, Kiyoko dodged it expertly, leaping back onto the landing, but as she reached the railing, she felt a pair of hands grab her by the ankles. "Gotcha!!" A wily voice yelled. "Now, Aki, now!!" Kiyoko glanced behind her and saw a young boy, dangling over the side of the landing, holding onto her. He had short black hair and the featureless white eyes of the Byakugan. His name was Taki, one of her younger brothers. The other, who was rapidly approaching her now, was Aki, a boy with dark eyes and long dark blue hair. "I've got her this time!" Aki roared, "CHIDORI!!" As his right arm sparked with electricity and he leapt through the air, leading with his electrified arm outstretched. Kiyoko smirked, leaned back, and grabbed onto the railing. Then with all her strength, she yanked her legs up, pulling Taki up from the edge and throwing him forwards in her place. Taki squeeled as he was thrown into his brother. Kiyoko back-flipped onto the top of the landing's banister, as Aki's chidori struck Taki and they collapsed in a heap. [Kakashi's Theme] "Well..." Kiyoko hopped down from the banister and walked over to her two younger brothers who remained on the floor. Aki had a glazed-over expression on his face. Clearly the amount of chakra it required to form even the smallest amount of electricity had taken it's toll on him. As for Taki, his hair had frizzed out in every direction from taking a bolt of electricity, and his right leg was twitching. "... good morning." "Don't say good morning like you're a good sister!" Aki grumbled. "You're a monster!!" Taki added. "Am I?" Kiyoko raised an eyebrow, looking at her two brothers. "You never play with us!" Aki groaned with a sigh. She leaned down, grabbing each of them by the scruff of the neck and hoisting them up. "Well maybe i'd be nicer if you weren't trying to knock me out every day." "Well how else are we supposed to get stronger?!" Taki asked with a huff. Putting them back on their feet, Kiyoko took a step back and examined each of them, a smirk escaping the corner of her lips as she looked at Taki's frazzled hair. "What?" Taki frowned, looking to Aki. His brother noticed his hair at that point, and burst out laughing. "Alright, well i'm late now, I hope you're happy... later." Kiyoko turned and started down the stairs. On her back, unknown to her, was a small white piece of paper. On the paper, was a message. It read, quite simply, 'Hit me, i'm stupid'. Kiyoko vanished downstairs while Aki and Taki turned to face one another, and shared a fist bump. "Success!" They cheered, in unison. [Morning] Meanwhile, in another part of Konoha, a young boy dressed in a blue hoodie was perched at a wooden feather-board fence. He was crouched in front of a hole just large enough for a small animal to get through. On the other side, he could hear a quiet whining. He took a step back and assessed the fence with a thin-lipped smile. His eyes were narrow, and his grin wide. If you were to describe him, you might call him 'fox-faced'. He had short, scruffy blonde hair and pale skin. His name, was Sora Sakai. The whining increased in volume and urgency. "Right, right, i'm comin'..." Sora replied calmly. Looking to the top of the fence, Sora leapt high into the air, grabbing onto the top of the fence, and using it to flip over to the other side. He landed in a small abandoned lot. For a moment, his eyes didn't detect the source of the whining, but then he saw it in the far right-hand corner, shrouded by a small bush. A little, cream-coloured squishy-faced dog. He couldn't remember the name of the breed. A bug? It was something like that. Bug made sense, it was tiny. As he approached the little animal, it recoiled in fear. "Now, now, i'm jus' here ta help ya, look--" Sora reached into his blue hoodie and pulled out a small cereal bar. He unwrapped it, took a large bite and then knelt down, holding it out for the dog to smell. It took immediate interest in him. The sound of rustling wrappers was obviously familiar. This had to be someone's pet. "Come on now, I ain't gonna harm ya!" Sora tore off a small piece of the cereal bar and laid it on the ground, "There ya are." Then he sat in silence and waited. It took a couple of minutes, but eventually, the little dog stood and cautiously approached him. It was walking strangely. There was something wrong with it's front-right paw. It tried not to put any weight on it, there was clearly something wrong. As the dog approached and put its head down to eat, Sora gently laid his hand on the ground beside it. Once the dog was finished eating, it looked over and smelled his hand, then gave it a lick. "Good doggie," His grin widened and he gently picked the dog up and put it on his lap, where it seemed quite happy. He raised the dog's right leg, careful not to touch the dog's paw. Up close, he could see what the problem was. He just had to use his medical ninjutsu. He took the dog's paw between his hands, and activated his chakra, extending its reach through his palms and engulfing the dog's paw. The dog had a small fracture. After a few minutes work, he released the dog's paw and sighed with contentment. "There, all better." Sora patted the dog on the head, and then put it on the ground. The dog cautiously tried to walk back to his lap, but then realised it was able to put weight on it's paw without pain, and then quickly grew in excitement. It made little yappy barks and leapt up, trying to lick his face. Sora laughed, "Now, now, I--" Suddenly, the dog stopped. It's lips pulled back in a snarl. "Ya gonna bite me, little dog?" Sora asked. But then a figure leapt over the fence and landed a few feet away. Sora was short, and very slender. There wasn't much muscle to him at all. So to say that this other boy was the complete opposite of him would not be an exaggeration. This boy was tall, broad-shouldered and was significantly well-built. Really, he didn't look anything like Sora's age, but he knew this kid was, because they were in the same class. "Hey!" The boy snarled, "What are you doin' with my dog, Sakai?!" "Oh this is yer dog, Taichi?" Sora asked, standing up to face him. "Give him back or i'm going to beat you." Taichi started towards Sora, intent on retrieving his animal. "No, I think he's happier with me, aint'cha?" Sora asked, and virtually on cue, the dog barked, wagging it's tail. Taichi grabbed Sora by the arm and used his other to ball up his hand into a fist, presenting it to Sora as a clearly-defined threat. Sora tried to gently pull his arm back, but Taichi held onto it firmly. The two boys stared one another down. Taichi's face almost red with rage, while Sora remained apparently unaffected by the boy's threats. The same smile remained on his face as it had done throughout the entire exchange. "Ya should be lettin' go a'my arm, now." Sora suggested, pulling a second time. "Gimme my dog!!" Taichi yelled, then brought back his balled-up fist, and threw a punch. Sora moved so quickly, that Taichi wasn't quite sure what had happened. The smaller boy managed to duck under his punch, twist around and sweep out his legs from under him. He collapsed to the floor as Sora reactivated his chakra, channelling it to his hand as he had done before, except this time, it formed a soft point in glowing energy. "Hey!!" Taichi yelled, in a mixture of anger and shock at seeing what Sora was about to do, "Don't--" Sora jabbed Taichi in the knee with the tip of his hand and then quickly leapt back and deactivated his chakra. Taichi roared and tried to get up but found his right leg was completely numb from the knee down. He couldn't stand on it, he couldn't move it. It was as useful as dead wood. "Give it a few days, it'll heal, okay?" Sora said with a smile, and then held his arms out to the dog. It barked again and happily leapt up into Sora's waiting arms where the boy cradled him, studying the little, cream-coloured pup. "I'll call ya Katsu. Come on, Katsu, time to meet the others!" Katsu barked and Sora leapt back over the fence onto the street once more, leaving Taichi to lick his wounds. [Naruto's Daily Life] The rain was finally letting up. She had that to be thankful for at least. Kiyoko stepped out from under the canopy of a ramen shop, thanking the owner for the food before stepping back out onto the street. A few drops were still falling, but it had mostly cleared. Puddles were everywhere, and kids had started splashing around in them. Kiyoko was focused, however. She had to reach the meeting point just outside of the village. She had been told there would be a large, old, dead tree with a table and three chairs laid out beside it. Three chairs, for three Genin. Strange. She was a Genin now. Passing the academy and becoming a Genin was a big step for her. Something brushed her shoulder and it drew her from her thoughts. "Oh, sorry sorry, wasn't lookin' where I was goin'." Said a boy with short blonde hair. "It's fine." Kiyoko replied, noting the dog in his arms. "Name's Katsu," The boy said, "The dog... My name's Sora Sakai." "Okay?" Kiyoko frowned, taking a step away from the strange boy as they continued to walk towards the Northern gate. A few seconds passed and then Kiyoko felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder. She recoiled, clutching it as she saw Sora withdrawing his fist. "Ouch! What's wrong with you, I should--!!" Then she realised. Kiyoko reached over her shoulder and plucked the note off her back, "Mhmm..." She growled, bunching up the paper into a little ball. Just then, she noticed Sora was still watching her with a smile on his face. Kiyoko grit her teeth and tensed up, but thought better of getting into a fight with this kid. She was just about to meet her Jounin teacher, and the rest of her Genin squad. She couldn't be picking fights with every idiot she came across. She was better than that. She threw the paper ball over her shoulder, which soared through the air and landed in a nearby bin. "OoooOOooo!!" Sora clapped. She frowned. Kiyoko couldn't tell if the boy was being obnoxious, or genuine. In fact, she couldn't read him at all. For someone who seemed to show his emotions so openly on his face, he was without a doubt, the definition of an enigma. She didn't like him. She couldn't say why. She just didn't. He was creepy. "Cereal bar?" Sora offered, holding one up to her as they passed through the North gate. "No." She replied. Sora shrugged his shoulders and resumed eating. Around a minute after she'd set out, Kiyoko looked over at Sora and Katsu. They were still walking beside her. They couldn't possibly... was Sora one of her Genin teammates? So who was the third and why weren't they here? Then her eyes darted down to Katsu. The little dog looked her dead in the eye, and let loose a little squeaky fart. "No. There's no way!" Kiyoko burst out as she saw the old, dead tree and the table with three chairs ahead of her. "What's that, Kiyoko-chan?" Sora asked. "How do you know my name?!" Kiyoko challenged him, putting her hands on her waist, "What's your game, huh? And what's the dog about?!" "Yer Kiyoko Hyūga. Daughter of an Uchiha an' a Hyūga. But, ya don't really have any special abilities..." "Wha--" Kiyoko tried to interrupt. "--an' i'm Sora Sakai. I'm gonna be ya medical nin. Then there's Omitsune Kiryuin. She's the third." "She's late. Later than we were, and..." Kiyoko paused, glancing around, "Come to think of it, our teacher isn't here either..."
  23. Project Guardian

    OOC: Private RP, gave it an 'NC-17' for violence, gore and dark themes. Project Guardian Breakfast was always a rushed affair in the Nakamura household. Ai always woke up late, so her father, Satoshi, always had to pick up her slack. Today was no different. She woke with a start, after realising she'd reset her alarm more than a dozen times. It was 8:43am and she had less than 20 minutes to get to school on time. She heard the pop of the toaster ejecting delicious, crispy toast as she fumbled down the stairs, trying to slip-on her other shoe. "You're late!" Her father growled, but he smiled against his temper as she darted past him, kissing him on the cheek as she grabbed a slice of toast. His toast. He rolled his eyes and tried to grab the second slice, but she snatched it from the toaster as she was swallowing down the last piece of the first slice. "OI!!" He made a sour face. "I'm late!" She rationalised, and he found himself unable to argue. She grinned and grabbed her backpack. "I'm working late tonight, so--" "--'kay, bye!!" Ai waved goodbye to her father as she rushed out the front door and immediately collided with a young boy who crumpled to the ground as though hit by a truck. "Ah, geez!" The short brown-haired boy stared up at the raven-haired girl and scowled, "Ai, you could be a little more careful!" "Sorry." She helped the boy to his feet, grinning at him. It took him a moment, but he returned the grin himself. "Come on, we're going to be late, Takashi!" "I wouldn't be late if you didn't run into me every morning, i'm gonna start walking down a different street." He grumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets. Ai grabbed his arm, pulling his hand out and started to run, "Come on!" She yelled, as they sped up and Takashi was virtually pulled along the street. Ai sat on a park bench. School had been a pain. Yes, she was late. It didn't help that the school had an outdated punishment system thanks to the old-school headmaster. Both Takashi and herself spent two hours stood in front of the main gate, holding a bucket of water in each hand, with the sign, 'I am a truant' around their necks. She stretched her shoulders and relaxed them as best she could. "I can't believe we were out there for so long, d'you think they forgot us?" Ai asked, brushing her scruffy hair out of her dark brown eyes. "Takashi?" She looked over, expecting to see her friend. But he wasn't there. She looked around for a moment, but realised he must have gone for snacks or something. Ai got up from the bench and walked over to sit in the shade of a nearby tree. She blinked, and for a moment, she saw a boy standing on the other side of the school fence, staring at her. Then he was gone, just as quickly. Ai frowned, but before the thought could permeate, she saw a can of drink appear in her periphery and she looked over to see Takashi standing there, waiting. "Did you hear me?" He asked, sighing, "Come on, i'm waiting!" She took the can of iced green tea, thanking him as he sat down beside her. "There, that's better." Takashi sighed, enjoying the relief from the hot summer's afternoon sun. "Did you see a boy over there?" Ai asked. "A boy with white hair?" "White hair?" Takashi repeated her question in disbelief, "What a poser... where?" "Right over there." She pointed at the fence. "Well... he's gone now!" Takashi took a sip of his drink. "Well, anyway, I--" "Hmm?" Ai looked over, but her friend was gone. Ai stood bolt upright and looked around, "Takashi?!" She called out, there was no response. She walked around the diameter of the tree, assuming he was hiding from her, but he was nowhere to be seen. He was just... gone. "Like the boy with the white hair..." She muttered. There was a flash of red light. Ai stumbled as she hit the last step on her staircase, "Hey!!" She yelped, and fell forwards, grabbing onto the railing to stop herself from falling flat on her face. She collapsed in a heap and looked around. What just happened? Had she been talking to someone? She remained seated on the step for a few minutes until her father came running past, a piece of toast hanging from his lips. "Come on, Ai! It's 8:45am, you're going to be late!" Her father marched past her, "I'll see you later, okay? I'm going to be working late tonight, so--" "--kay... bye..." Ai muttered, watching as her father ran out the door, closing it behind him. She heard a distant voice, "Morning Takashi!" "Oh!!" Ai exclaimed. She leapt to her feet and ran for the front door, forgetting her backpack entirely. She grabbed the door handle, twisted it open and stepped out into-- Another flash of red light. Ai felt something strange between her toes. She looked down, and saw she was stood in sand. She was on a beach. She recognised it immediately. It was the beach near Okinawa that her father had taken her many times before. They went scuba-diving here. But wasn't she in her house a moment ago? And it was morning, but now the sun was... Ai looked up, shielding her eyes from the full force of the sun. But the sun wasn't a brilliant white-yellow. It was red. Red light thrummed in front of her eyes. She blinked. Something wasn't right. Where was she? She felt something cold touching her skin. She felt cold. She felt like she was standing, but at an angle, as if she was going to be poured out of something. Where was she? She found herself asking again. Ai tried to open her eyes and focus, but it was difficult. A brilliant red light grew in intensity, and quickly dimmed every few seconds. She tried to focus past the light in front of her, and saw that the world ahead of her was distorted, as if by glass. She saw computer monitors, tech equipment, a number of desks with various lab tools scattered around. It almost looked like... Yes. She was in her father's lab. But she was never allowed in her father's lab. Not since she was a little girl and she wandered in from the main lobby, ignoring his instruction to remain in the lobby. She had to get out. If he found her here, she'd be in trouble. That was why she was having weird thoughts about the beach and getting ready, she must have come in, gotten curious about something bubbling away, taken a whiff and passed out. There was no telling what was in here, she thought to herself. She reached out and pressed her palm against the glass. A distant voice belonging to a woman Ai didn't recognise echoed in the coldness of the lab. "Structural integrity is at 11%. Simulation disengaged. Bay door opening. Play Dr. Nakamura message #06." "Hello Ai, I expect you have questions, and I will answer all of them shortly..." Ai felt pressure on her back as she stepped forwards, but the pressure was relieved as she stepped onto the cold lab floor. She took a few deep breaths and coughed, her lungs felt raw. She looked down at herself and realised she was naked. For a moment, panic spread through her, then she realised, she wasn't naked, she was wearing some kind of flesh coloured body suit. Like the kind some Olympic athletes wear. It was stupid. She wanted rid of it, but until she could find her own clothes, she was stuck with it. "...Ai, if I succeeded in imparting to you all my hopes and dreams..." Looking up, Ai searched for the sound of her father's voice, quickly realising it was coming from the speakers in the corners of the room. Everything was so confusing, she found herself stood in silence, listening to her father's message. At first, it seemed like he'd left her a voice message no different from those he often left on their home phone, telling her he wouldn't be home in time for dinner. It sounded dire, because he was going to disappoint her. Again. But no, this was different. "... don't know what they are. We call them the 'Blue'. Life from another galaxy, but not what we were expecting, to say the least. They are voracious. They feed on organic life. In essence... us. I think we are their ultimate goal. I don't know how far they travelled to get here, but it must have taken thousands of years. There was probably a lot more of them when they set off, but they cannibalised themselves until they arrived on Earth, and began repopulating as they consumed the human population--" "What?!" Ai gasped in disbelief. What the hell was he talking about?! "--haven't done enough. I tried to create the perfect defence against the Blue, but it's failed. I've failed... they're coming..." Ai heard a rumbling in the message, then it cut short and was replaced by the woman's voice over the speakers a second time. "Play Dr. Nakamura message #07." "They're coming!" A terrible screech as metal was being wrenched. Ai clutched at her ears, and relaxed as the noise waned. "I've no time, i'm setting the tests to run automatically, dammit why are they always so prompt!" She heard a muffled laugh that warped into a cough, "No time. No time! Come on, hurry up!" She heard the woman's voice again, but this time, it was a part of the message. "Download at 68%..." Terrible, wrenching, screeching noises. "NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!!" Ai recoiled at the sound of her father screaming at the top of his lungs, and then suddenly he was cut short. She heard crunching, and the sound of water dripping, and then heavy footsteps. Finally, silence. Ai was so engrossed with the message, staring at the speaker in one corner, that she hadn't taken any notice of her surroundings. "Message ends." The voice cut the clip off, and there was silence once more. Ai turned and looked back at where she'd stepped out of, it was some kind of escape pod. Long, thick black cables fell in loose bundles, tipped with metal spears that looked like they were made to go in something. Then she felt something. She didn't know how she knew. But she knew she wasn't alone. She found herself focusing on that sensation, and it was then she heard the faintest sound of breathing. Whirling around, Ai saw a figure cloaked in shadow at the far end of the room. Screaming, Ai leapt back. Then suddenly, she was falling. She'd tripped over something. She collapsed to the ground and saw she'd tripped over a small pile of bones. A skull stared back at her, and she screamed again. Then her eyes focused on something else. She saw a gun. Instinctively she reached for it, grabbed it, pointed the weapon at the man, and pulled the trigger multiple times. Nothing happened. She heard a faint whirr as the gun attempted to fire and failed, then a tinny voice called out from the gun. "Cells: Empty." Completely defenceless, Ai looked back at the intruder, and waited in shocked silence.
  24. Hallows

    The bell rang, signifying the end of school hours. Amber stood up, gathered her things and left her classroom. She wanted to meet up with her friends before heading home. She walked into the corridor, as hundreds of other students began to congest the hallways, and she tried to move through them on her way to the exit. As she went, she saw two of her friends. Jessica, a girl with short brown hair, glasses and a smattering of freckles beneath her eyes, and Rachel, a girl with bright blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. The two girls fell in line beside Amber, nodding to her with a smile. "How was class?" Amber asked, grinning because she knew the answer already. "Ugh, boring, Mr. Jacobson makes math more boring than I thought possible." Jessica groaned, holding her books to her chest. "Yeah, pretty much." Rachel added, with a lop-sided smile. "Is that all, Rach?" Amber asked, smirking. "I thought you hated Jacobson. God, you're always going on about him." "Yeah, he's pretty much the worst, but at least its over and we can, y'know, relax a bit." Rachel held tightly onto her backpack, her expression slightly nervous. "Are you alright?" Amber asked. Jessica noticed Rachel then, and looked her up and down critically. "Yeah, i'm fine!" Rachel reassured her friends. "You're not yourself." Jessica muttered. "Maybe we should go to the bathroom... freshen up?" "Excellent idea!" Amber exclaimed. She made a quick detour. She was going to wait to get home to have a nice, long soak in the bath. But at least a quick spritz would be refreshing. Leading them into the girl's bathroom, Amber closed the door behind Jessica and Rachel and let out a long sigh. "So that was a pretty nasty fight you had earlier..." Jessica mused, walking over to look at herself in the mirror. "What, between me and that four-eyed nightmare-- no offence, Rach..." Amber added swiftly. "Oh... none taken." Rachel muttered, walking over to the first stall. She opened the door, leaving the door open, then put the lid down on the toilet seat and sat atop it. "I guess I was just hoping we could all get on. I don't even understand why you and Claire fell out in the first place." "It's personal, okay, you know better than to ask, geez..." Amber shook her head in disappointment. "Rach, remember? Bit of privacy, please?" "Oh, sorry..." Rachel nervously leaned forwards and grabbed the stall door, closing it and locking it so she was inside. "Honestly, we let you join us because we thought we saw something special in you, but you just keep forgetting the rules--" Amber turned both sink taps on, as did Jessica, while Rachel remained locked within the stall. "You've gotta keep up, dear!" Amber chuckled and looked at Jessica, they shared a look. Then Amber started running her hands under the water, and they immediately turned a brilliant shade of blue. She turned to check Jessica, but she too was already covering her arms, as they turned the same bright shade. Just a little spritz, that's all that was needed. Then Jessica cupped her hands under the water, turned and splashed Amber in the face. "HEY!!" Amber snapped, as her face turned blue, her eyes narrowed and she suddenly looked as though she was a human-sized faerie. Striking veins of dark blue shot through her face, with a mysterious and enchanting set of eyes that were wholly of another world. "That's not funny, Jessica! What if someone came in here right now!" But Jessica wasn't done yet. She turned, kicked open the bathroom stall, with Rachel inside, and splashed her in the face as well. But Rachel didn't change as Amber had. "WHAT THE HELL?!" Amber roared, shoving Jessica. Jessica darted inside the stall, pulled something from her pocket, and pressed it against Rachel's mouth. The girl collapsed almost immediately, leaving Amber to watch in disbelief as her friend walked out of the stall, leaving the unconscious Rachel inside. "She could have seen us!!" Amber snarled, her face twisting with rage, "I can't believe you Jessica, that's not funny! Just because I wanted your help before doesn't mean you get to go all gung-ho on me with the human! She's brand new, and we're trying to make a good impression, remember?!" "Right." Jessica muttered, "You're an idiot." "WHAT?!" Amber looked as though her eyes were about to pop out of her head. Jessica took a deep breath and shook as though she was shedding something uncomfortable. Within a second, she was no longer Jessica. Violet stood before Amber, brushed some of her bright blue hair out of her face and grinned. "So, you're not the only one who can hide what they look like, kid." Amber was speechless. She stood there, her mouth agape, struggling to process what had just happened. "So, you're a nymph, but... she's not... Jessica obviously is, too." Violet crossed her arms and thought for a moment. Amber finally began to come around to her senses and tried to make a dash for the bathroom door, but Violet was faster and blocked it. "No, not so quick, i'm not going to rat you out, I just want to talk!" "You're not human..." Amber muttered, her eyes still bulging in surprise. "Mmm, like I said, Amber. You're an idiot." Violet looked over at the unconscious Rachel, "Why did you want a human in your group? Come on, fill me in a bit and i'll let you go." "Why should I? I could scream, call a teacher, call the cops..." Amber started listing through her possible fall-backs. "I could just kill you?" Violet suggested. "You're a hunter..." Amber's voice trembled as realisation set in. "Yes, technically. But it doesn't need to go down that way if you tell me what I want to know, alright?" Violet raised her eyebrow with an expectant, 'So how 'bout it?' expression. Amber hesitated, glancing back at the bathroom door, but there was no escape, and if this woman really was a hunter, not to mention she definitely wasn't human. "Only if you answer my questions..." Amber retorted childishly. Violet smirked. The girl had moxie, if nothing else. She could appreciate that. "Alright, fine." Violet nodded. "What are you?" Amber asked, pointing at her up and down. "Mm, there's no word for what I am, at least in the human languages. Just nicknames." Violet cleared her throat and then jerked her head at the unconscious Rachel, "Wanna tell me why you're involving a human in your little nymph group social?" "There's a few humans in our group..." Amber replied, shrugging off Violet's question, "I mean, we're not exactly a majority race, and we want to keep the river clean, and clear up our community, and we can't exactly do that on our own these days. Plus... Rachel's nice, if a bit..." She trailed off and shrugged. "So, who killed Kate?" Violet asked, and studied Amber's face as she reacted. Amber was horrified at the question. "I don't know!!" Amber snapped, "Oh my God, do you think if I did, i'd have kept it to myself? He's killed several of my friends!" "He?" Violet asked, frowning. "I'm just--" She laughed, "I'm generalising, I assume it's a guy, isn't it almost always?" Amber sighed, rubbing her forehead as her skin began to turn back to normal. "Anyway, why are you here, if you're not hunting nymphs, what are you here about? The murders?" "Exactly. I'm here to stop them. You do want them to be stopped, don't you?" "Of course!" Amber got angry again, then upset. She picked up her bag, "Can I go now?" Violet walked over to Rachel and pulled out a small bottle. Smelling salts. She cracked the lid open a touch and ran it under the girl's nose, and she roused almost immediately. Rachel jumped in surprise at seeing Violet, she was confused and agitated. Violet put her hand on her shoulder and helped her up. "You're alright, you passed out." Violet said, patting her on the back. "Did I?" Rachel asked, frowning and looking around. "Amber?" She asked, and stepped out of the stall, to see her friend standing there. "Did I pass out?" Amber's gaze flicked to Violet for a moment, then back to her friend and she nodded. "You hit the dirt pretty quick, Jessica ran to get a nurse." Amber smiled at her friend, "You should go lie down, sweetie." Rachel nodded, still a little confused, and ambled out of the bathroom, leaving Amber and Violet alone once more. "That was low..." She muttered. Violet shrugged her shoulders, "So, Jessica will wake up in a few minutes, she'll be okay but she won't know what happened, she's in the boy's bathroom, so you can go get her now. Best tell her the truth though, let her know what happened just now. After all, you and her are on the same team. But, i'm going to keep looking into this, you say you don't know the killer or killers, fine. But I happen to know they were gored to death, and that's not exactly a typical human murder now, is it?" "Gored?" Amber asked, her face turned pale. Violet looked her over, "You know something about this, Amber?" "No..." Amber shook her head, "If I learn something, i'll tell you, okay? I promise." "Just remember what happened here today, and remember i'll be back to have another chat if I find out you lied to me, and that chat will have an air of finality to it, right?" Violet pointed at the girl, then turned and walked out of the bathroom. So, at least if Amber is to be believed, she's not directly involved. But she definitely knows something. There are too many pieces missing from this puzzle right now. Violet began to wonder what Vincent was doing. Drinking and smoking, probably. Maybe bitching about her, and maybe he had a right to. After all, she'd overreacted, and then dealt with that by overreacting again. She hadn't taken the time to look at what she'd done, and only now after stalking and changing places with Jessica after several missed opportunities, and then getting in close with Amber and waiting for the right moment, was she able to gleam any information. Yes, several of the community clean-up eco-cheerleaders were nymphs. But several were not. Had all the victims been nymphs? "Dammit, I knew i'd forgotten to ask something..." Violet was just about at the exit, she had her hand on the door, and was staring out of the window, when she started to turn around to go back and ask Amber that key question that of course she'd forgotten to ask. But that was when she saw her. In the reflection of the window, was a woman stood behind Violet. The other teenagers seemed to take no notice of her, but they moved around her all the same. It was as though they were aware that a person was stood there, but they couldn't focus on her, or care for her being there. Violet could make out a few details in the reflection. Black, scruffy hair, thick and covering half her face. Black clothes and a necklace with a broken heart pendant hanging over her tank-top. Her skin was as white as snow, and her expression seemed sombre. "I'm not turning around, while you're there..." Violet muttered. "Maybe I won't be here when you do..." She replied. "I thought we agreed you'd leave me alone..." Violet's tone grew sharp. She saw the woman shrug in the reflection. "I guess I was just worried about you." "It's not your job to be worried about me." Violet retorted, getting angrier. "If I ask you to calm down, will you?" Violet gripped the handle of the door tighter and took a deep breath, "What do you want?" "You should be nicer to your brother, he loves you, in his own way." "Thanks for the advice, but--" Violet turned, ready to chew her out, but there was nobody there. One of the students noticed the strange girl with blue hair talking to herself for the first time and chuckled, moving with the rest of the throng of teens leaving the school for the day. "God-dammit... you didn't answer my question..." Violet muttered. After a few seconds she shook her head, opened the door and stepped out into the afternoon sunshine.
  25. Hallows

    "You better be here when I get back." Violet pointed at the teenage girls, her tone said it all, but they just laughed and walked off. "Unbelievable." She growled, turned and ran after her brother. She had to run down an entire hallway and turn a corner before she finally managed to catch up to him, he must have been going at double pace. "Hey!" She pushed him in the back of his shoulder, and stopped, throwing her hands up, "What's your attitude?!" "My attitude?" Vincent asked, turning round with a dark expression. "What's with yours? For someone that's supposed to be a professional you're anything but!" He turned away from her, staring off at nothing. "I guess I'm just remembering why we stopped seeing each other in the first place..." He muttered. "It's a coat, Vince!" Violet bit back at him, "We used to wind each other up all the time, hell, you used to admit that winding me up was a highlight for you! I just wanted you to--" She trailed off, changed her mind about what she wanted to say, "I... wanted you to remember how we used to mess around, when you were my brother..." "Things... they're different now." Vincent replied, not looking at her. "If you think this is about pudding in my pocket, you need to think again. You brought me out here when you knew I didn't want to do this. You have not needed me here, not once. So why am I here, Vi? You can do everything I can with less cost and less restriction. So what possible reason could you have for me being here?" Hit him. She resisted the urge, but she wanted to all the same. Vincent knew how she felt about her powers. He had to. She couldn't help being what she was, she didn't like it, many days she hated it. Rare moments of fleeting unimportance might give her momentary satisfaction, but that was it. Rarely did she enjoy her 'gift' as her mother would call it. To have Vincent reciting the words she'd heard time and again, anew; from dad, from Vince, from her 'real' mother and from anyone in dad's inner-circle. She was gifted, he was not. She was better than he was. She wasn't bound to 'mortal inadequacies', and so on. "Shut up!" Violet snarled, her nose reflexively twitching in anger, pulling her top lip up along with it, "You think I can do all this by myself? Do you see dad, genius?! I...!!" She was going to continue shouting, but she realised the next words out of her mouth were somewhat sensitive, so instead she pushed herself into his space and hissed the words at him. "I hunt monsters, at night, in the middle of the woods, in the rain, mud and freezing cold, after tracking them for days, sometimes. I do not make social calls. I am not a huckster, I dont spend my days tricking people out of their secrets like you do, I usually have to find other ways around it, because if you haven't noticed, Vince, in all these years - I don't play nice with people." "Oh, please." Vincent shook his head dismissively. "You can literally make yourself look and sound like anyone. Don't give me that crap." He turned around and walked off, but after a few steps he turned on his heel and came back, pacing. "You piss through enough energy to take shortcuts that would give me so much psychic backlash It'd be like Final Destination here. I don't care about how you feel about who you are. You're a sentient battery, so what? Mom never treated you any differently, and neither did I." Vincent stopped pacing and faced Violet, pointing at her. "You know what? Every decision I make, magically or otherwise, is about how I can get the most out of the least. If you practised that, even a little, you could do anything I could, and more. Hell, even if you don't..." He let out a defeated sigh. "I never even found a trace of him, Violet and I...I did some things that were seriously risky. Things I might live to regret someday. But found a lead. And you did that without me." "What are you talking about?!" Violet grew angrier, "You never treated me any differently?!" Violet bundled her hands into tight little fists, "I saw the look on your face when I woke up that night, and my skin was tearing off in ribbons! I'm glad I didn't see myself that night, because I was scared enough looking back at myself through your eyes, your face, hell, the whole room cast in that awful purple light..." Violet's breaths were heaving, she was trying to restrain herself, but as she grew more enraged at the thought of her past, she began to lose control. "Vince, I spent 14 years as a normal, well, a relatively normal, well-adjusted girl with a family who loved her, decent grades and I had friends and... sure, dad talked about magic and stuff when you got older, but back then, I didn't really care about all that stuff because next to you I could barely conjure a flame. Then suddenly, one night, I find myself screaming into the bathroom mirror while i'm trying to reattach my face in the glow of my own luminescence." Violet almost laughed. There was something so ridiculous about that idea, but she was too angry and she felt as though all her nerves had been laid bare right now. "Then this woman that looks like... well, the thing under this," Violet indicated her face, "Like a best-guess shape of a human, only made of purple dark matter or something and with hair like living energy, and those glowing white eyes..." She let out a short, sharp sigh, "Tells me she's my mother. Not the woman that raised me, and cared for me, and loved me. And that I should drop her, and you, and everything else, including my planet, and my dimension and go with her for a reason I can't fathom. So suddenly you're not my brother and my mom isn't my mom, and my dad cheated on my... surrogate mother, I guess...? And i'm an inter-dimensional cosmic glow-stick, that isn't even part of the human race any more... and I just..." Violet let her shoulders fall in defeat. "Martha is your mother, Violet." Vincent said sternly. "That woman cared for you, and still does. She loves you, and so do I." He sighed, shrugging uncomfortably. He stuck his hand in his pocket and removed the remains of the pudding cup, tossing it on the floor, before picking out globs of the pudding with his hand and flicking it away. "Here's the thing." He said as he continued trying to get as much of the stuff out of his coat as he could. "Humans struggle. We toil, and we work and everything has a cost. Everything is messy and difficult, and so we have to grow up, improve, be better." He motioned to the mess he had created on the floor. "Impatience combined with childish spite. Sure, it's annoying, but that's not why I'm angry. The point is you do this back then, too. You act without thinking of the consequences. Nobody benefited from this action, in fact it only caused suffering to me, however minor. You know who does that?" He looked her in the eyes, finally. "Vael does." "You..." Violet felt a shudder trickle down her spine, vibrate through her arms and focus into her fists. She was as surprised as Vincent, as she watched her fist connect with Vincent's face. It was like watching the scene in Rocky where Stallone goes down, only this was uglier, and with a touch more saliva. "... arrogant, jealous--" Vincent hit the linoleum floor, "--holier-than-thou, precious little knight riding in on your white horse!" Violet couldn't help herself, the words came tumbling out, "Dismount for just a second, and realise that you wish you could do what I do! I might not have liked what I became, Vince, but at least I found a way to live with myself. I got out, I travelled, I met people. Yeah, I killed some of them. But they were monsters. What have you been doing lately? Scraping by in a run-down apartment, by yourself, selling dreams to the sad and the lost, and when you've no more to sell, you can join them." Violet took a deep breath and crossed her arms, "Alright. Now you can storm off." Vincent got up slowly, clutching his right eye. He stumbled slightly as he tried to right himself, but then he stood up straight. When he took his hand away from his eye it was still closed, and the redness suggested it was going to swell up. He looked livid, and on the brink of saying something back to her, but then he swallowed it as quickly as it had rose up. "Goodbye, Violet." He said simply, then he turned around and walked off, swaying slightly where he hadn't quite regained his balance. Watching him leave, Violet couldn't help herself, it was in her impulsive nature to want to chase after him and attempt to resolve things. She felt the draw to follow him, but ignored it as best she could. She wasn't following him this time. If things were going to be set right, it would have to be later. For right now, she needed to know if any of the other cheerleaders - the girls who also apparently doubled as eco-warriors, community leaders and who knows what else - were Nymphs or other supernatural creatures. Knowing that might help reveal several more threads in this tale. But if she was going to do that, she was going to need a little more tact and guile than the level of subtlety with which she had interacted with Vincent just moments prior. Just a smidge.