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Found 101 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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'.
  3. 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.
  4. Demons and Hunters

    Demons and Hunters ~An RP between Ice and TriOctium~ Hunting a demon involved patience, a careful nature, and an observant eye. Demons were the natural predators of humans, which made them unused to being prey themselves. They often left behind trails of their presence - a path of trampled undergrowth, the whiff of smoke, the faintest presence of magic. Firion was a fledgling demon hunter, but he considered himself one of the best of his generation. Tracking demons came as naturally to him as blending into the forest, and he moved through the trees with nary a sound, following the trail he had discovered two weeks ago. A demon named Bruth and his lackeys had pillaged the nearby village of Thum, and the resulting outcry caused the Church to mobilize him in pursuit of Bruth. Firion was close now. He grabbed the pendant hanging around his neck, feeling its slight vibration against his palm. It was an artifact from the Church that would react when in close proximity to a demon. He released it and concentrated on his magical energies within, reducing his weight to a bare minimum as he continued onwards. The grass no longer bent beneath his feet, causing them to feel more like little pinpricks that Firion had to walk over, but his shoes protected him from most of the discomfort. Then, he heard the low murmur of a voice. It was barely audible over the usual noises of the forest. Sounds of conversation could be heard coming from his left, and Firion turned and started to move in that direction. One of his hands unconsciously moved towards the hilt of the shortsword next to him; its comforting grip helped him to concentrate in stressful situations. The sounds were clearer now - it seemed like a heated argument was going on. Then, he arrived at the clearing, and saw his quarry. He counted five demons, with two of them facing off against each other in the middle of the clearing. One of them had shaggy silver hair and was relatively lean in stature, while the other was obviously more bulky and menacing. There were two other demons standing behind the burly one, trying their best to look menacing, and two others trying their best to hide in the shadows of the trees. Their best was not good enough. Firion's arm shifted to his belt, grabbing hold of a throwing dagger before hesitating. He could take out at least two of them at this distance before they would know what was happening, but it looked as though the demons were in some sort of conflict. Perhaps it might be better to sit back and watch the situation unfold before he took any action. With any luck, they would kill each other off, making his job a lot easier.
  5. “The train is now departing Shinagawa. The next stop will be Tokyo.” The melodic series of notes punctuated the polite woman’s voice over the train speaker. The noise roused a young boy from a light doze and he stared out of the window. He watched as a lit-up city of lights and busy people passed by outside the window. The young boy had been travelling for a few hours now, from his home in Kyoto. Tired and uncomfortable, he stretched out his arms before standing up and pulling down a large sports bag from the overhead compartment and sitting back down, placing it over his lap. He was 15 years old, and dressed in black jeans, white sneakers, a black denim jacket, with the grey hood of his sweater coming out from it’s collar. He had a shock of black, wild hair that looked like he had attempted to tame it, but it had settled at a slightly backward angle, giving the boy a leonine appearance. His eyes were a light blue, but they looked tired and frustrated. He unzipped the bag in front of him and fished around inside. He retrieved a silver pin from the bag and examined it closely. The pin was shaped like a Latin cross with the lower end carved to a point to look like a sword. Around the cross coiled two serpents whose heads met at the top, their fangs bared at one another. He scowled at the trinket and tossed it back in his bag, letting it drop to his feet, before he leaned back and sagged into the seat, staring out the window once more. Here he was, 15 years old and just about to start Senior high school. However, he wasn’t joining any ordinary school. For the next three years of his life he would be stuck in some rural seaside town in Ibaraki prefecture. He cursed silently to himself as he thought back to how this had all happened. --- --- --- --- Kyoto, 3 days earlier Steam rolled through the small but tightly packed dining room of Sanada’s from the kitchen. The room was mostly filled with couples and businessmen who were talking among each other, eating and drinking. The man himself, Sanada, was surveying the restaurant with a perpetual frown on his face, despite nothing really being wrong. After a moment he stepped through to the kitchen, which was a flurry of activity as his small team of chefs busied themselves cooking meals for the customers. “Nakayama!” He called out as he walked through the kitchen. There was no response from any of his chefs. “Nakayama!” Sanada called out again, this time more irritated. “He’s over there, boss.” One of the chef’s replied, pointing away from the cooks area, to a corner at the far end of the kitchen. Sanada walked over and folded his arms, frowning at the young boy. “Nakayama, answer me when I call for you, boy!” He said, but the boy ignored him and continued with his work. Plates and bowls, freshly rinsed, flew into the large plastic racks at alarming speed, landing noisily in the notches on the racks that were shaped to house them. A tinny sound of heavy metal emanated from the ears buds in Nakayama’s ears as he shoved the rack down in to the industrial dishwasher and closed it shut. He began rinsing and tossing plates on to the next rack, before he noticed the shadow looming over him, and turned around to see Sanada standing inches from him, silently ranting. He boy frowned and pulled an earbud from his ear. “Boss?” He asked. “Nakayama Shinji!” Sanada roared, his face beat red from anger. “How many times have I told you not to listen to that trash when you’re working!? You listen to me boy, the kitchen-“ “The kitchen is about teamwork, and you can’t have teamwork without communication.” Shinji interrupted, rolling his eyes. “What’s the big deal? I collect the dishes, I was the dishes, I put the clean dishes away for the chefs. How does that require me communicating with anyone?” “Don’t talk back to your elders, you little punk!” Sanada replied, grabbing Shinji by his apron and pulling him away from the corner, shoving him towards the pass. “Plates are gathering on the tables. Go collect them before I tan your hide, you little brat.” “Tch!” Shinji said with a shrug. “Why didn’t you just say so?” He asked as he sauntered off towards the pass, grabbing a wide container on his way and holding it with one hand against his waist. He walked in to the restaurant itself and began moving around the tables, picking up plates and putting them in the container, half-heartedly nodding at the customers as he did. When he was done he made his way back to the kitchen, but felt a hand grip his arm and hold him back. He turned to the customer, a young businessman in his mid 20’s who looked like he’d had a bit too much Sake. “Get me a beer would you?” The man asked Shinji paused, frowning. “Sorry, you need to ask some-“ “I asked you to get me a beer, isn’t that your job?” The man asked. “Nah it ain’t my job, asshole. As I was just telling you, if you’d only listened.” Shinji pulled his arm from the man’s grasp and went to leave. “Who the hell do you think you are talking to a customer like that, huh?” The man barked. “Is taking a drinks order to complicated for a loser like you, dishwasher?” The room fell quiet at the sound of raised voices. There was a clattering in the kitchen and Sanada turned round just in time to see the tray of plates fall to the floor with a crash, and Shinji had lifted the man from his seat by his shirt, and was holding his face inches from his own. “Say that again, asshole!” Shinji snarled at the man. “Oi! Nakayama!” Sanada yelled as he bustled over. “Nakayama, let him go right now!” Shinji snarled through gritted teeth, but after a pause, he released his grip from the man and turned to walk away. “Heh…” The man said with a smirk, a sound of mild relief in his voice. “Your dad should have taught you some respect, you worthless punk!” “Nakayama!” Sanada cried, sensing what was coming, but he was too late. Shinji’s fist crashed in to the man’s face and knocked him flying back into another table. Food went flying everywhere, and the customers started yelling, their evening meal ruined. Pretty soon the place was in anarchy. --- --- --- --- “This train has arrived at Tokyo Station.” The female voice said as the train doors hissed open. Shinji alighted from the train, his bag slung over his shoulder, as he barged through the crowd of people commuting in the early morning. He lifted his wrist up to look at his watch, a silver timepiece that belonged to his father. On the same wrist was a simple rope charm bracelet, with a number of different silver charms adorning it, including a Star of David, an Egyptian Ankh, a Manji and a number of other unrelated religious symbols. “Damn…I missed my train.” He said with a sigh. He was already running late. The school induction was in the mid morning and it was still another couple of hours before he would make it to the town, let alone the school. He walked through the huge train station, checking the information boards overhead and listening to the announcements. It was another half hour before he found himself sat on a train bound for Ibaraki. He tossed his bag in the overhead compartment and sat down on a seat by himself and waited for the train to depart. --- --- --- --- Shinji walked home through the streets of Kyoto that night. The rage and chaos of the altercation had left him now, and he had come out of the other end fired from his part time job. He felt angry at the rude drunk who had caused the whole mess, and angry at Sanada for not seeing his side of things. However, for the most part he was just angry at himself. He was a screw up in all aspects of life. He had barely scraped through junior high, with grades so poor his future career prospects looked grim. On top of that he had never been involved with extra curricular societies, after being banned from the Kendo club, the soccer team, and the track team he was no longer welcome with any of them. It didn’t help that all three occasions were the result of fights. He had a temper, he knew that. Equally he knew that in general it was the other person’s fault. They were all idiots, and they pissed him off. Yet he was the one to suffer in the end. So who was the real idiot? He shook his head in frustration as he reached the gate to a peculiar looking building that stood quite out of place around the traditional Kyoto architecture. The temple was modelled after a European fashion. A sign at the gate of the property read: The Church of St. Giles. Shinji pushed the gate open. Home sweet home. He bypassed the actual church building and instead made his way to the side building where his home was. He pushed open the front door and quietly said “I’m home.” In the hope he wouldn’t actually be heard. He removed his shoes and left them by the door, and walked through the main hall. As he put his foot on the first step to the next floor, someone spoke. “Shinji…come here please.” The voice was a man’s. It was deep, calm and confident. Shinji sighed and turned around, making his way in to the room further down the hall where the voice had came from. Shinji’s father’s study was lit by warm lamplight. His father sat behind a writing desk facing Shinji. He was dressed in the black clerical uniform of a catholic priest. He had similar features to his son, except his hair was brown, he had a trimmed goatee, and his leonine hair was trimmed slightly shorter and looked decidedly neater. Masa Nakayama was focused on a book on his desk, that he was slowly thumbing through. A cigarette sat in the ashtray by his hand, the smoke cascading in thin wisps through the air. To the right of it was a glass of single malt whisky. “Sanada called earlier. He explained what happened.” Masa said, not looking up. “It wasn’t my fault, dad.” Shinji replied. “The guy was a jerk! He kept pushing my buttons.” “And you could not simply turn the other cheek?” Masa asked. “This behavior…it never stops getting you in to trouble. You never stop to think about the consequences of your actions. How it affects those around you.” “Tch!” Shinji scoffed. “Just like you to worry about how my problems affect you.” “Sometimes I wonder what I’ve done to deserve such an insolent child.” Masa replied, sighing. He looked up to the ceiling. “I’m fairly certain he’s sitting up there laughing his ass off right now.” “God?” Shinji asked. “No, you’re grandfather.” Masa said with a raised brow. “He had a sick sense of humour. Although I suppose The Lord is not above a chuckle now and then.” He took a moment to sip from his glass and take a drag of his cigarette. “He was a lot like you, actually. You’re grandpa, not The Lord, obviously.” He shook his head. “That man was always getting himself in trouble, and it was my mother and I who suffered for it.” “You’ve laid on the guilt pretty thick all my life, dad.” Shinji said, folding his arms. “I’ve heard this lecture a thousand times. Can’t you just be like everyone else and just accept that I’m a screw up?” He let his head sag. “It’s probably easier that way…” “If I wanted easy I’d have disowned you years ago.” Masa said with a chuckle. “Sometimes I think my life with the Order was easier. Still, when your mother left it’s not like I had much choice.” “Oh, gee, thanks dad.” Shinji said, turning to leave. “I haven’t excused you!” Masa said with an authoritative tone. Shinji turned round and for the first time his father had looked up from his book, and his dark eyes were looking right at his son. Shinji shifted uncomfortably. He never liked how his father seemed to have a stare that could see deep inside a person. “Wow, finally decided to pay enough attention to stop reading that book?” Shinji asked. “Oh, sorry.” Masa replied, lifting the book up. “You know me, I always get caught up in my doujins. But seriously look at these things!” Masa turned the book over to reveal a number of illustrated panels of women with large breasts. Shinji’s eye twitched uncontrollably. “You’re a freakin’ pervert, old man!” He snapped. “How the hell can you preach about God and read that trash. Isn’t lust a sin?” “Oh yes, a very tempting one.” Masa replied. “But I never could resist a big pair of…” “Dad!” Shinji snapped, noticing his father becoming transfixed on the book once more. Masa coughed and put the book down. “Oh lighten up. I’m sure The Lord will forgive me my love of big cans. Hell, if I didn’t love ‘em so much then I probably wouldn’t have chased your mother. And then you’d still just be a twinkle in my eye.” “What the hell, dad!?” Shinji barked. “You are the worst priest on the planet. Hands down. You creepy, old perv!” “Yeah…I was never really cut out for the clergy.” Masa said with a smirk. “Bills need paid, though. Anyway we’re getting off topic.” “Oh, sorry for distracting you from scolding me.” Shinji replied. “You’re forgiven.” Masa said, apparently missing the sarcasm. “Listen, son. Your grades are…poor, to say the least. You’ve lost three jobs in the last 2 months. I’m afraid you’re going to flunk your first year of high school. I’m afraid…I’ve had to take desperate measures.” “I am not going to a convent!” Shinji snapped, holding his arms up in front of him in an X shape. “No, you’re not.” Masa said calmly. He opened the drawer of his desk and retrieved a small, silver pin and placed it on the table. “At great personal expense I’ve arranged for you to be enrolled in my old high school. I’d say it’s more like military school than a convent, really.” Shinji looked at the small pin and felt like his heart had stopped. The room spun for a moment, and he felt sick. “You…you’re joking, right?” He asked “I wouldn’t joke about this.” Masa replied. “This is your last chance to shape up. I think it’s for the best.” “You think sending me off to hunt demons is for the best!?” Shinji yelled, slamming his fist down on the desk. “Are you insane!?” “It didn’t do me any harm.”Masa replied. “Made me who I am, actually.” “Who you are!?” Shinji roared. “You’re a washed up old priest who drinks too much and stares at cartoon tits all day!” “Well, who I used to be then.” Masa corrected. Shinji laughed bitterly, turning around and walking back to the door. “Like that guy is so much better.” He said through gritted teeth. “Some workaholic asshole who couldn’t spend any time with his family, until his wife couldn’t handle taking care of his deadbeat son any more, and she left you! Left both of us!” Shinji slammed his fist into the wall by the door, seething with anger. “And there it is! You had to leave your job and come and take care of me. And now you’re sick of me too.” “Shinji…it’s not like-“ “Save it!” Shinji screamed. “To hell with this! Going to this damn school’s gotta be better than staying here with you!” He yelled as he walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. --- --- --- --- “Now arriving at Aranami.” The female voice said. It had been hours and Shinji had dozed off again. He stood up as the train stopped and pulled his bag from the overhead compartment. He slung it over his shoulder and stepped off the train and on to an unmanned platform, that looked more like a bus shelter than anything else. Immediately he noticed that it was pouring with rain, and in moments he was soaked right through. As the train departed he heard thunder rumble in the distance, and a flash of light lit up the dark, grey sky. In the distance he saw the ocean, the source of the salty smell in the air. There on a large rock out in the sea, past the port town of Aranami, was a large collection of buildings. The rock was connected to the mainland only by a single, large bridge. “So…that’s Aranami Academy.” He said to himself. “Do your worst…a little rain never hurt anybody.” He walked towards the town.
  6. Blood & Scale

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo. Blood & Scale Once, a long time ago, our lands were watched over by riders astride fierce and wise dragons. Under their watchful eye, the lands of Suros prospered. Peace reigned amongst the races and cultures of our world. None went hungry and there was justice for all. But alas, it was not to last. Amongst the riders, there was none more powerful or more respected than Aemon. But this was not enough for the rider. He did not wish to guard Suros, he wanted to rule it. He forced several riders to join with him, and together they killed any and all who opposed him. He destroyed the order of the riders, and spent the next thousand years hunting them to extinction. Under his rule, chaos and strife have returned to the land. The people live in fear of the tyrant King, and have long-since forgotten the age of the riders, and hope along with it. But all is not lost, for one rider remains. One dragon. Together, they carry the hopes and dreams of the people of Suros, in the form of an unhatched dragon. One who has sensed the presence of it's rider... Moonlight danced through the trees as a figure darted across an ancient log which had fallen across a river. They were fleet of foot, agile and graceful. Running through the brush like a deer. The forest was dark and mysterious, lit only by the moonlight and a scattering of fireflies, yet it was not unwelcoming. At least, not to her. She ran up the side of a small rise and then just as quickly she effortlessly leapt onto the lowest of a sturdy old tree's branches. She climbed the tree with the skill of a monkey. Up, up, up she went. The trees of her forest were so tall that they made those of the human realm look like twigs. Eventually, she reached the top and broke the tree canopy and looked out across the forest. She had heard a series of loud cracks as something had tumbled into the forest, followed by a sonorous boom, as though Gwaen herself, Mistress of the Anvil, had struck a blow with her mighty hammer. "Well, do you see anything, Vaedwyn?!" A voice called from down below. Vaedwyn's wry grin spread across her mischievous face and amber eyes as she peered out, her long but unruly silver hair flew behind her at the beck and call of the wind. She was beautiful, of average height and slim of build, and carried with her the traits of her people - the elves - most notably her long, sensitive ears which ended in a point. Ducking back down and scrambling down the tree as quickly as she'd scaled it, she landed on the ground a moment later to be greeted by an older-looking girl with golden-hair. Unlike Vaedwyn, she was voluptuous and made Vaedwyn's beauty look plain, even boyish by comparison. She was frustrated by her excitable friend, and it was evident on her face. She didn't have the time or interest for this. "Did you hear me?" She asked again. "Yes, yes!" Vaedwyn replied and then ran on. "Well?!" The golden-haired elf gave chase. "Well what, Torenth?!" Vaedwyn asked, charging on. "You haven't heard a word I said!" Torenth called, a twinge of annoyance seeping into her voice. Vaedwyn was always like this. She was younger, much younger than Torenth. And unlike her, she was impatient, excitable and reckless. She was always chasing after her friend into some kind of trouble, usually head-first and usually that meant she was the one to get in trouble, even though it was Vaedwyn who always instigated their little adventures, as she called them. "Sorry! But look, it's just up ahead!" Vaedwyn ran as fast as she could, the trees passing her in a blur until suddenly she came dashing out of the forest into a small clearing. Long grass filled most of the clearing, with a single old tree, that looked as though it was dead. Vaedwyn ran through the grass, noting that several of the tree's large branches had been snapped. At last she stood in front of the old tree, and stared down at the peculiar object lying at it's base. Seconds later, Torenth appeared and let out an audible sigh, "Oh what have you found now..." She moaned. "I don't know!" Vaedwyn replied, smiling as she looked at the large oval object. It looked like a stone, but it was larger than her head and had a peculiar iridescence to its surface. As she bent down to touch it, Torenth released a panicked noise and she looked back at her friend with a raised brow, "What?" "Don't touch it." Torenth pleaded, nodding at it. "We don't know what it is, it could be dangerous!" "Well we're never going to find out if we don't pick it up, are we?" Vaedwyn laughed and before her friend could say another word, she picked it up and stumbled backwards in surprise, realising at once that if this was a stone, it was the lightest stone for it's size she'd ever found. It was also giving out some kind of warmth. Lastly, the surface was smooth. So smooth it felt as though it's surface had been polished by an artisan. There was no friction to the peculiar stone whatsoever. "I love it." Vaedwyn whispered, "I'm going to show this to Mogwé!" She turned and started walking back towards the village. "I give up." Torenth grumbled, and followed. And this is how it always went. Vaedwyn would find some creature or object and bring it back to the village, and then who got the blame? She did. Vaedwyn was only twenty years of age. Torenth was nearly thirty years her senior and yet even she was considered a child by their race's standards. Though she'd heard that in the human lands she was considered middle-aged. That frustrated her immensely and yet it didn't seem to bother Vaedwyn at all. She was altogether far more concerned with her ridiculous collection of oddities and knick-knacks. She knew how this would go. They'd get home, Mogwé would take one look at that thing, and then she'd lecture her for what felt like hours and she'd be sent to bed without a proper supper. "Do you have any idea what you've found?!" Mogwé roared, pacing the living room. Mogwé was one of the village elders, they didn't know exactly how old she was, but she was definitely in the thousands, yet she didn't look a day over thirty-five. Her skin was slightly tanned, and she had dark golden hair. The only signs of her age was her eyes, which were as dark as they were wise. They looked as though they had witnessed all the ages of Suros. Right now, however, they looked troubled. "I'm sorry, Elder Mogwé, I shouldn't have let Vaedwyn leave the village after night, but--" Torenth started. "We'll get back to that." Mogwé interrupted her abruptly. "Put that down, right now, Vaedwyn." "I'm sorry, Elder..." Vaedwyn apologised, hanging her head as she placed the large stone down on the table in the middle of the room. Their home was formed from a tree, a process where the most magically skilled of their people would sing to the forest, bringing a tree to life that would grow into a shape to accommodate them, including rooms and furniture that would grow right out of the floor. "But..." Vaedwyn looked longingly at the beautiful oval stone, "I just thought it was--" "Nevermind what you thought!" Mogwé growled, "I need to convene with the elders. Torenth, I want you to keep watch over that and don't let anyone near it. Nobody, do you understand?" Then she muttered to herself as she charged out, "May Algolith preserve us..." Leaving Vaedywn and Torenth on their own. Torenth sat down beside the stone, eyeing it with suspicion while Vaedwyn leant against the stairs which coiled around the edge of the room leading to the floor above. "What a lot of bother for a silly old stone," Torenth sulked, letting out a sigh, "I'm probably not going to eat for a week." "Lighten up..." Vaedwyn replied, and Torenth looked up in surprise to see Vaedwyn dangerously close to the object. "Hey!!" Torenth snapped, pointing at her friend, "Leave it alone!!!" She yelled, "You heard what Mogwé said." "I know, but there's light..." Vaedwyn looked transfixed as she approached the stone. Glancing at the object, there was definitely no light coming from it. Torenth stood up and quickly moved between her friend and the stone, "Stop it, Vaedwyn. I'm in enough trouble already, Mogwé said to leave it alone, and if you touch it you're going to get me in a lot of trouble that no- hey--!!" Torenth shouted in surprise as Vaedwyn deftly side-stepped her friend and reached for the stone. There was a deafening crack as Vaedwyn touched the stone and she yelped in pain. Torenth stumbled backwards, shielding her eyes from a sudden flash of blinding light and hit the ground unceremoniously. "Vaedwyn?! Vaedwyn!!" She yelled, her ears still ringing. Eventually the flash of light diminished and Torenth darted her eyes around the room, for both the stone and her friend. But neither were where they should have been. Instead, on the table, there looked like the hollow remains of the stone. It's iridescent shards scattered across the table. She turned her attention to the other side of the room and saw Vaedwyn lying on the floor out-cold. Torenth quickly pulled herself to her feet and ran to Vaedwyn, lifting her up. Immediately, she noticed something worrying about her friend. There was a long, thin diamond-shaped white mark, almost like a scar but defined like a tattoo, running from near the top of her forehead down to between her eyes. Further still, was the fact that her friend was unconscious. But even more so than that, was the rumbling growl of a dangerous creature that sounded so close she thought she could feel it's breath on the back of her neck. Torenth gently lowered Vaedwyn to the ground and slowly stood up, she didn't want to leave her friend defenceless to whatever was in the room with them. Whatever had come out of what was now, obviously, an egg. But it was enough to frighten Mogwé and she was a powerful sorceress, and what could she possibly do against such a creature? No, it made more sense to get help. So Torenth ran from the house like a lightning bolt, leaving Vaedwyn alone in the house. Vaedwyn awoke in a panic, there was a great weight on her chest like she'd never felt before. She wheezed and coughed and to her great relief, the weight was removed from her. She leant up, but did so carefully as she felt dizzy and had a throbbing headache. Then, as her eyes focused, they fell upon the source of the weight on her chest. The creature was around the size of a large cat. Yet it was a reptile, with four legs, and two wings. It's scales were black as jet and glistened in the orange glow of the candlelight. It had a long neck and muzzle with a pair of horns stretching out from the back of it's head. The little creature was sat, waiting patiently, almost expectantly. "Ugh..." Vaedwyn rubbed the back of her head, "What are you then...?" She muttered, eyeing it up and down, "You're nothing like anything i've ever seen before." The creature stared back at her and let out a long, purring growl, then quickly nestled up to her and collapsed onto her lap, falling asleep. Moments later, Mogwé came rushing into the room, with Torenth in tow and a half dozen other elves, including several elders. They took one look at Vaedwyn and the creature sat contently in her lap and the elders of the village looked at one another in silence. Their troubled glances all that was required. Mogwé stepped forwards and bent down, examining Vaedwyn's forehead. "Vaedwyn..." Mogwé sighed, shaking her head, "... you've doomed us all." "What?! Why?!" Vaedwyn cried, looking for support from the other elders, but finding none. Their glares conveyed their feelings, and when she turned to Torenth she could see that even her friend felt the same way. What had Torenth been told? "I-I don't understand, it's just a lizard..." The creature on her lap gave a disgruntled huff. "That is no lizard." Mogwé's eyes widened in fear, "That, is a dragon. It's bonded to you, and when it did, every rider would have felt it. And there's only one that matters... King Aemon. He knows now that there's a new rider in Suros, and he will do everything in his power to own you... or destroy you. He will burn this village to the ground, and kill everyone in sight..." "I-I don't..." Tears began to flow as Vaedwyn placed her hand along the neck of the little dragon, "I didn't know... I-I..." Thump. Thump. Thump. Everyone in the room fell silent. The heavy beat of wings from outside panicked everyone in the room. The elders scattered, fleeing from their home. Yelling that the King had come to kill them and take what was his. That his riders were descending on them. Outside, Vaedwyn heard screams and crying. She heard the clash of metal as the guards of the village charged, screaming battle cries. Then suddenly a terrifying roar echoed through the village, and all the colour drained from Vaedwyn's face. The clatter of metal as swords and shields and spears were dropped and their guards fled along with the rest of the villagers. Vaedwyn leapt to her feet, knocking the little dragon to the ground. It let out a little annoyed growl and then Mogwé grabbed hold of Vaedwyn and pulled her up the stairs. "What are you doing?!" Vaedwyn yelled, resisting futilely. "Whatever happens, I won't let that human turn you into one of his cursed riders." Mogwé snarled, and then Vaedwyn saw it. The glint of metal in her hand. She was carrying a dagger. "If I have to, i'll kill it, then you'll be nothing to him. He won't be able to use you, we'll die but at least he won't have his prize!" "Let me go!!" Vaedwyn struggled, and then suddenly the little black dragon leapt up, snarling and snapping its jaws. It clamped down onto Mogwé's wrist, drawing blood. Mogwé shrieked and dropped the dagger and scrambled up the stairs to the second floor. "I won't let anyone hurt you..." Vaedwyn picked up the little dragon and then ran for the front door, which had been left ajar. She dashed out the front door, but it was too late. An enormous, terrifying dragon stood at the other end of the courtyard. It looked bigger than a building. Atop it, was a rider. Vaedwyn's breathing quickened, and before she knew what she was doing, she was running. Fleeing for her life.
  7. Rook was the type of thief who liked to get up early. The perception of thieves and crooks was that they prowled at night, taking advantage of the shadows to relieve poor working people of their hard earned bits. It was a fair point, a lot of thieves did operate at night. That was the problem, really. The night was where the low down and the wretched lurked. It was where Vatha lurked, if you were the superstitious sort. Rook wasn’t really sure if he was, he didn’t really have time for religion when simply feeding himself was enough of an ordeal. And this is why Rook liked to get up early. The young boy was dressed in tattered, old dungarees and a dirty undershirt. He wore a grey baker’s boy hat, hiding his mess of dark hair, and his hands and face were grubby with filth and grime. Around him it was busy in the southern quadrant of Ark Valiant. The delicious smell of baking bread hung around in the streets, and people pulled carts along the cobbles, on their way to market. None of them paid any attention to Rook, which was just how he liked it. Despite his grubby, run-down appearance he was actually quite keen sighted, and his sticky fingers were forever reaching, forever grabbing, and swiping. Pilfering in the morning was, Rook felt, an easier task. Mostly because there was so much food on offer, and it wasn’t uncommon for bread or fruit to fall off of carts on their way to market. No one ever thought twice, and even if they did, Rook knew from experience that most folks would forgive a young boy for stealing bread a lot quicker than they would if he’d swiped their coin purse. So after only a short stroll, Rook found himself sat on a step outside a block of old tenements, and had scored himself a nice little haul. Two bread rolls, an apple, and a strawberry tart. He sat there, ravenously chomping at the bread as he watched passersby. This was his first meal of the day, and in all likelihood would be his last for a while. As they day stretched on in Ark Valiant, opportunities to steal food became less and less. With a soft sigh he looked up skywards. Valiant was a sprawling, over-crowded mess of a city. Buildings were built high, and were constantly being given half-baked and often dangerous extensions that probably broke all sorts of building code violations. Of course that was the kind of thing that was tied up in Guild politics, and was so unbelievably trite to even attempt contemplating, that most people just settled for good old fashioned bribery. The sky above Valiant was blue, with white clouds floating quite low above the city. Ark Valiant was suspended, through means no one was quite certain about, Just above the areas where the Aethermist reached, in a gap between them and the clouds. Occasionally, when the mist was bad, it would climb up higher and you could see it swirling above the city, pressing against the glass barrier that was constructed over the city, protecting everyone from the toxic mists. Those who were fortunate enough to travel on airships and visit other Arks were always quick to complain about how stale the air was inside of the Arks. Rook had never been outside, he’d never experienced this fresh air that others spoke so fondly of. When he was younger he used to dream of being an airship Captain, and being free of this life. He had stopped dreaming a while ago now. He was 14 years old, and his situation was never going to change. He was an Orphan, and his surrogate family were never going to allow him to be anything other than a thief. Of course he had contemplated trying to save some money, but that was a dangerous task in itself. When Rook did his morning run, he stole food for himself to eat. Yet as the afternoon came in it was time for him to go to work. His employer would not settle for scraps of food as an adequate day’s work. Jackdaw wanted coins. Rook was one of the youngest in the gang, and had never been asked to go on any of the big jobs. However, Jackdaw had insisted that Rook had to pay his way somehow, and so he put his sticky fingers to good use, walking to the streets, robbing honest men and women of their money. He hated doing it. Stealing to survive was one thing, but stealing to add money to an already towering wealth? It just didn’t seem right to him. Of course Jackdaw had never beat him, yet. That was more than he could say about any other adult who had given him the time of day. So even if he didn’t like it, he would still do it for Jackdaw. The thing most people don’t realize about being robbed, is that it’s not normally just a random pickpocket passing them by and trying their luck. Chances are, the thief has been waiting for someone like them to come along. The thief sees something in them, a vulnerability that can be exploited. The extremely wealthy were poor targets for a pickpocket. Rich people were often very careful about their money, and a good few didn’t even carry their own money, having bodyguard or attendant carry it for them. The poor were easier of course. Less educated, less secure, less concerned with having their money disappear, since they didn’t really have any to lose in the first place. So ultimately the best way to actually steal enough coin for thieving to be worth the hassle, it was usually best to pick a mark who was somewhere in the middle. Rook was leaning against a wall, his arms folded, trying to look inconspicuous as his eyes scanned the crowd of people passing by. Eventually his eyes fell upon a coin pouch that was jingling, attached carelessly to a belt at a man’s waist. The man was tall and lean, he looked to be in his late thirties. He had hawkish features, with light blonde hair gently swept back over his head, and a thin stubble on his chin. His eyes were a dark emerald colour, they looked piercing and cold. He was dressed in a clean, white shirt and a dark blue waistcoat with gold filigree, and a pair of dark blue trousers. His right hand was rested on a black cane, with a silver handle, on which he leaned heavily as he walked. His left arm was currently clutching a blue frock coat that matched his trouser, which he had slung over his shoulder. Rook eyed the man’s footwear. He was wearing black boots, with white spats. The shoes were the key factor, the real difference between the well off, and the truly wealthy. They were spotless. Rook couldn’t believe his luck. A Nobleman walking through the street, unattended, with both of his arms occupied, and his coin pouch just…hanging there. It seemed to good to be true, but there is was right in front of him. Rook smirked to himself, and then he was on the move. He weaved through the crowds of folk, carefully not to draw too much attention to himself. The hawk-faced noble was coming at him from the other direction. He seemed entirely unconcerned with the boy, just as Rook liked it. The two passed each other just as the crowd was thickening. Rook’s sticky fingers reached out, probing and searching until it grasped the coin pouch. He gave it one swift tug, felt it give just slightly. He held his breath as the coin pouch came off into his hands, and he walked, waiting for the nobleman to turn around, to call the guards, or chase after him. Five seconds passed. Rook had definitely felt a give when he had tugged the pouch. Surely the man would have felt it being taken from him? 10 seconds. He kept walking, his heartbeat quickening. He wanted to turn back and look, but if anyone saw him it would give him away. 15 seconds. He couldn’t take it anymore, he turned his neck around to see if the man was pursuing him. Yet when he turned, he couldn’t see the man in the crowd. Relief washed over him, cleansing away the horribly intense fear that came after making such a play. He felt the weight of the coin pouch in his pocket. It was heavy and jingled heartily. He wondered how much a Nobleman would likely be able to carry in such a pouch. At a guess he could feel at least 20, maybe 30 Marks. It had to be marks, nobleman always carried them. Bits were the currency of the lower class, and nothing that could be bought with bits was worth a noble’s attention. Rook started to walk away from the main roads. He wanted to find a quiet alleyway somewhere and inspect his haul. He walked for a good ten minutes at a quick pace, making sure he was well and truly shot of the noble he had robbed. Then he turned in to an alley and swept a quick glance around to make sure he was alone. He bent down behind an old crate and took the pouch, tugging on it’s string, and loosening it. He inspected the inside and frowned. “…What are these?” Rook asked himself out loud. He took out the pieces of metal that were in the pouch, each of them roughly the size and shape of coins, but they were copper coloured, and had holes in the middle. “Washers.” Supplied a deep, well-spoken voice from the other side of the box. Rook jumped in fright and as he stood, he looked to the other side of the box to see the nobleman standing there. He had put on his frock coat now, and was leaning against the back wall with his arms folded, his cane resting at his side. “They space them between screws and bolts.” He added, a wry smirk on his face. “I…” Rook stammered, backing away from the man. He dropped the pouch on the floor, it’s contents toppling over the cobbles, and Rook turned and went at a run. There was a noise that sounded like air trying to escape from a tight space, the kind of hissing sigh. Dark mist swirled and danced around the exit of the alley in front of Rook, and then the mist quickly coalesced and took shape. The nobleman stood there, cane in hand, blocking his path. “Aethermancer!” Rook gasped as he came to a stop, his whole body shaking with fright. “Y-you’re an Aethermancer!” “Sharp, kid.” The man replied, smirking. “Now why don’t you just calm down a little, hm?” Rook went to say something, but then he stopped. He did feel a little more at ease. It was only slight but it was there. He took a deep breath and felt even calmer. Every so often fear tried to grip him again, but it was like it had been muffled, and was being held at bay. “I’m sorry I…” Rook looked around nervously. “I don’t have any parents, I live on the streets…I’m just…” “A poor little boy?” The nobleman finished his sentence. “That’s good, kid. A little cliché but you can’t go wrong with the classics. You’ve still got those sad child eyes and the rosy cheeks, might as well make use of them.” “What are you talking about?” Rook asked the man. “I’m talking about your hustle, kid.” The man replied. “You’re pretty good, you know. Observant, opportunistic, light touch. You’ve even got the sad puppy vibe. I reckon you could be great, with a bit of practice.” “At…at stealing?” Rook asked. He caught himself and shook his head. “No sir, I…that was a one time thing, and I learned my lesson. I won’t do it again.” “Well that’s just a waste of a talent.” The man replied, chuckling. “Look, kid, this was a test and you passed it. What’s your name?” “Uh…Rook.” “Like the bird?” “I guess.” Rook shrugged. “Ja…” He trailed off. “My…guardian. He gave that name to me.” “Well, it suits you.” The man said. He reached in to his pocket and flicked a single gold coin at Rook, who caught it and examined it. “This is a Mark.” He said with a grin. “Sure, you keep it.” The man said. “You can leave now, head back to your Guardian if you want to. But keep that Mark safe, Rook. If you want to see some more of those, then you go to the East Edge, look for a shop called ‘Penny Farthing’, it’s an old antique shop. In the back there’s an old fortune telling machine, one of those animatronic things. You know the ones?” “I think so.” Rook replied. “Well, you put that Mark in that machine, and I’ll know about it. I’ll have some more work for you, I promise.” The man turned and went to leave. “Hey…wait a minute.” Rook said, finding a small modicum of courage. “Who are you?” “Oh, that was rude of me, wasn’t it?” The man said, turning back around. He gave Rook a wolfish grin. “They call me ‘Gentleman’ Jack Rhodes. It was nice to meet you, Rook.” He nodded, and then he turned to leave. There was another hiss of air, a swirl of mist, and the Jack was gone. Rook shuddered, and pocketed the Mark in his hand. Then he sighed, thanking his lucky stars that the man hadn’t decided to beat him. He had to get back home now, he’d wasted too much time. And now he had nothing to give Jackdaw, except the single Mark in his pocket. --- --- --- --- The door to Penny Farthing Antiques opened, and Jack Rhodes stepped through the door. The shop was closed, and unattended. In truth the shop was never open, and nobody worked there. The antiques were just junk. Jack ignored the lot of them as he removed his coat and approached the old machine at the back of the shop. Inside of it was a creepy looking wooden puppet-like construct of a strange man in a turban, with a black pointed goatee and a twirling mustache. Jack retrieved a single gold Mark from his pocket, and placed it inside the machine. The machine whirred to life and the strange puppet’s eyes lit up, and it began to move in jerky, animated motions. “Do you wish to know your fortune?” an overacting, ridiculous voice asked as the animatronic man’s mouth flapped up and down. “I’d rather make a fortune.” Jack replied. “Oh…sorry, I think you’ve got the wrong place.” The fortune teller replied. “Quit fooling around, Teach!” Jack snapped at the machine. “Ooh, bit testy today.” The fortune teller replied. “Alright, fine. Come on in.” The machine went dark again, and then there was a whir and a click, and the machine unlatched itself from the wall, swinging open to reveal a thin, descending hallway of stairs. Jack went down them, closing the fortune telling machine behind him, and he pushed open the door at the bottom. He was greeted with a warm glow of lantern light, and a room of reds and golds, with mismatched chairs and tables, and a whole range of equally garish and clashing tapestries, decorations and furniture. The place looked like a chaotic storm of bad taste, and yet it was full of people, all of them laughing and chatting, and drinking merrily with each other. Jack ignored them all, and they appeared to ignore him as well. He made his way to the bar, where a well-dressed man was currently polishing glasses. The barman wasn’t quite as tall as Jack, but his features were far more skinny and delicate. He had curly, brown hair hiding under a black bowler hat with a purple feather. He wore a white shirt, with a yellow waistcoat, suspenders, and black slacks. The man was well maintained, with dark brown eyes, and clean shaven with the exception of his exceptional mustache, which had been combed and styled with beeswax. Jack sat down on the bar stool, and the barman placed a metal mug of gin next to him. “My, you are looking rather dashing today, Jack.” The barman said, his voice was the one that had came from the fortune machine. Bartholomew Teach was Jack’s right hand man. The pair had worked together for years, and had found a stable income from the smuggling of alcohol in to Ark Valiant, and running this little speakeasy, The Penny Farthing. However to the patrons of The Penny Farthing, Jack was simply a regular patron. Teach was simply a barman. It was how Jack’s crews had always liked to operate. After all, a crook who is infamous, is a no good crook at all. Besides which, the Penny Farthing was just one venture of theirs. Most of the work was now taken care of by other crooks and smugglers who likely didn’t even realize they were on the staff. There were only a few people Jack ever allowed in to the inner circle. People like Teach. “I was talent scouting.” Jack explained. “Ah yes, the old crippled noble with the loose coin purse play.” Teach said, rolling his eyes. “I shall never understand your need to recruit waifs and strays. There are plenty of decent and experienced professionals out there that could join our crew.” “Anyone with the skills we need who is already in the game will either be looking out for themselves, or their loyalty will need to be bought. We can’t have that for what we’re planning.” “And just what are we planning? You haven’t mentioned…” Teach said casually. Jack went to explain, and then stopped himself, frowning at Teach. “Quit swaying me.” He growled. “Sorry, dearie, but I don’t stop my sway for anyone, not even you.” Teach replied with a wink. “Well I’m not telling you the plan, not yet anyway.” Jack said with a smirk, before he took the cup and sipped on it’s contents. He let out a satisfied gasp. He looked around, and noted that nobody seemed to be paying attention to him. “Relax, chum, I’ve been blending and swaying since you came down the stairs. They don’t even know you’re here.” Teach said. “So I take it you were scouting the Red Feathers gang again?” “Just a kid, his name’s Rook.” Jack explained. “Doesn’t seem to realize how much trouble he’s in, he’s too young. I doubt his boss, Jackdaw, lets him see everything that goes on.” “Yes well that’s his style, Jack.” Teach said. “I’ve been running intel on the Red Feathers for weeks now. Jackdaw runs a tight ship, he’s clean. All I could muster was that he tends to take in strays, young children. He looks after them, gains their loyalty. Sort of like what you were doing with that child, Rook, was it?” “That’s not the same thing.” Jack replied, his brow furrowed in annoyance. “I’m never going to teach a child how to whack a guy when he doesn’t pay his protection money. The kid has the talent, he could be an excellent thief if he focused. This Red Feather gang, they diversify. General thuggery, robbery, mugging, racketeering, smuggling, fencing, laundering, you name it.” “Yes, it’s a real money maker if you ask me, boss.” Teach said with a raised brow. “There’s no class in it.” Jack said. “Thievery is an art. That kid was good at it, especially since he’s not got any Aethermancy to help him along.” “Unusual.” Teach said. “Jackdaw has a few of them in his gang.” “The kid’s young, even if he did have the potential he probably wouldn’t have snapped yet.” “Ah, true.” Teach nodded in agreement. “So, you gave the boy a job offer and let him walk?” “Something like that.” Jack said. “I’ve got some boys tailing him. They’ll keep an eye out on him, watch where he goes, who he speaks to. Even if the kid doesn’t take my offer, he’ll lead us to some bigger fish.” “And what if the lad tells Jackdaw about your offer?” Teach asked. “What if he leads Jackdaw and his gang straight to our little hideout here?” “The kid doesn’t know this place is connected to me, only that I said he was to come here if he wanted more work. If Jackdaw comes I’ll make myself scarce and this will just be another secret speakeasy. No problem.” “Oh there’s always a problem with your plans, boss.” Teach said, pouring himself a shot of whisky. “It just hasn’t happened yet…”
  8. Dreamers

    OC: Private RP between myself and Kyo. Dreamers The room was almost pitch black, save for the tiny slits of orange light cast from the early morning sun, peaking through between the slats of the blinds. An electronic cigarette rolled between the lips of the woman on the end of the bed. She took a long drag, making the light on the end illuminate. Then she exhaled slowly, blowing the harmless smoke-like vapour into the air. The woman was in her late-twenties, to early-thirties. Her messy hair was a dark brown that matched her tired eyes and stopped at her shoulders. She was slim, athletic and tall. The former two came from her police background. Rubbing at her sleepy eyes, she asked gruffly, "What time is it?" Her voice was deep, authoritative. The room replied in a gentle, feminine voice, "Good morning Sergeant Yume Akiyama, it is 5:43. A.M. September 26th, 2084." "Wh...?" A quiet stirring accompanied a confused mutter. Yume turned and looked back at her bed. Her wife, Shizu, was lying partially covered in their sheets, having attempted to - as she often did - kick them away some time during the night. Shizu had much longer, straight black hair and a more feminine figure. She was a lawyer employed by the government, a prosecutor. It wasn't long before they met, fell in love, and soon after they had a daughter together, Nyoko, who was now three. "Ssh, go back to sleep, it's early." Yume replied. "Mmm..." Shizu muttered, rolling over, "Don't forget... dinner... don't be late..." "I won't." Yume smiled, took one more drag of her E-Cigarette and then put it in the inside pocket of her leather jacket. Then she stood, gave her wife a kiss on the cheek who while still half-asleep made a kiss with her lips and then went back to sleep. Yume quietly crossed the bedroom and looked in the crib. Nyoko was still fast asleep, good. She didn't want to disturb her daughter, as she was often difficult to put back to sleep, so she just smiled and walked out of their apartment, closing the door quietly behind her and locking it once more. The hall outside their apartment was a stark contrast to their living quarters. Inside, it didn't look too bad. But they had worked on it. A lot. They couldn't afford a big apartment in a nice neighbourhood, in inner-city Tokyo. In the police force, Inspectors made a damn sight more than she did. She was just a glorified team leader. As for Shizu, well, the money was in being a defence attorney. But Shizu was into putting criminals behind bars just as much as she was, so that wasn't a reality. The hall light flickered as she walked down the corridor, then she noticed a needle in the corner of the stairwell on her way down. We really need a better place, she thought. She picked up the needle using a clean tissue and smelled it. There was a bitter, vinegar-like scent to it. Heroine, or some other opiate. It definitely wasn't a diabetic syringe. She took a small plastic bag, found the needle cap and pushed it back on, then dropped the syringe in the baggie and put it in her outer pocket. She'd take it to work with her and have them analyse it. Maybe it would come up with a print and she could get one of the problem tenants arrested. Stepping out of the building was a secondary shock. Sometimes she forgot just how much noise the windows and doors in the apartment actually muffled. The pavement was crowded with throngs of people moving about their day, even at this early time. The sky was full of angry-looking clouds, it was likely going to rain later. Her assessment had been spot on. On her drive to work, she'd barely gone a mile before the skies opened and a heavy downpour blanketed the city of Tokyo. For all the advancements in medicine, science, technology and everything else, they still weren't able to predict the weather. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department - or the MPD for short - were a force of more than 60,000 in total. Policing a city with a population of over 21 million. The city had been restructured in 2046 to become 10 distinct districts. She was the Sergeant of District 6's Homicide department. It was a busy job, despite crime being lower than ever, at least that's what the higher up's claimed. The only department technically busier than hers was Cybercrime. They dealt with everything from online terrorism to the ever-growing issue of Augment crime. Augments were people who had - for whatever reason - augmented themselves with technology, hence the name. 'Technically' because although the statistics said that Augment crime was higher than ever, the Cybercrime department worked apart from the MPD, so she wasn't privy to the details. Most, if not all of Cybercrime's Officers were Augments themselves. Augmented Officers or AO's had to work apart from the rest of the MPD, it was just the way of things. They were considered mentally unstable, emotionally detached, prone to violence even. Their bodies were often more machine than human, with any number of dangerous augmentations. Couple all that with the significant amount of negative press and public scaremongering, they were kept apart, from both the main department, and the public at large. Only allowed out to perform their duties while under supervision from a government-mandated android 'guardian' that was designed specifically to be both assistant and chaperone. The brass would say all of this was for the 'safety' of the AO's. The fact was, however, that after decades of seeing Augs - and the occasional rogue AO - on TV, having committed terrible crimes, AO's were as hated by the general public as regular Augs. The MPD building was tall, and in a city that was built with one layer on top of another, to maximise space in an age of overpopulation, it needed to be. The building was home to over a hundred different agents, from a dozen different departments. From Traffic, to Homicide. Yume drove off the main road that was so congested it had taken her nearly an hour to get to work, and into the MPD car park. She turned her car around and backed it into a car-sized elevator. A voice came over the intercom. "Sergeant Yume Akiyama. Level 2, Homicide." "That's me." She said to herself, the elevator doors closed and up she went. She watched through the glass opening in the front of the elevator, as she left the ground level of Tokyo behind. It was darker down there, it had to be, it was under two other layers of industry, each with their own pavements, traffic, buildings and a wholly different class of people. As she ascended into the second layer, the sunlight coming down cast less of an orange glow over everything, and felt a little more like natural sunlight. The roads were still busy, but traffic was constantly moving, and it looked reasonably less crowded. You had to have some serious money to live on the second level. Money she didn't have. But one day, she told herself. Finally, the elevator doors hissed open, and she drove the car out into the second layer car park and got out. The car locked automatically as she walked away, and she entered her work place and looked around as she walked down the hall. At first, she saw the receptionist, giving him a nod and a smile. His name was Minoru. He was only 22, and eager to please. He wanted to do what he called 'real' police work, but because he'd scored low on one of his tests, they'd put him behind a desk. But that hadn't phased him. He was there, just about every day, working harder than most of the jerks in this building. Minoru nodded to her and ushered her over with a jerking hand motion while he was still on a vid-call. "--yes, I know. We'll find your cat, Mrs. Ariwa..." Minoru nodded quietly as an elderly woman stood in front of him on his desk, no larger than an action figure. In her bathrobe. "I keep calling, and calling, and nobody calls me back, I don't know where he is!!" She turned and looked back to him expectantly. "We're looking into it, Mrs. Ariwa. I'll call you back." Minoru ended the call and let out a long sigh, "Sorry about that, she calls now and then." "What about her cat?" Yume asked. "Oh, oh don't worry about that, Sarge." Minoru replied, laughing nervously, "She calls every now and then, her cat's been dead a year, but she has dementia and every now and then she finds a phone and calls us. She used to call us about her cat, so I guess that's how she remembers our number... but not her cat...?" "Memories are weird, Minoru, you're better off not dwelling on it. But good job, it's tough having the patience to deal with things like that, day-in day-out." "Oh thanks, Sarge!" Minoru's face lit up, "Can I get you anything? Maybe a coffee, I could--" "--I can get my own coffee. Thanks." She gave him another smile and then walked on through to the main office. The main floor was busy. A dozen or so Homicide cops made up her department. They were on vid-calls, or at their desk on the computer, or talking amongst themselves. When she walked in there was a general rumble of welcome. Everyone acknowledged her, and she returned the favour. Most of these guys were simple, hard-working cops. They expected the best. Because she was a woman, she had to work twice as hard to be noticed. But they respected her, hell, most of them feared her temper, but they had a good working relationship. She would take a bullet for any one of them. Yume walked up to her desk and sat down, stretching as she logged into her computer with an eye scan, but before she could get started, a voice summoned her. "Akiyama!" The yell came from across the room, and made every man and woman in the place physically tense. Captain Honda. The Captain was a man with short, sharp hair and a moustache, with tired eyes and a gruff demeanour that matched her own at times. She got up, left her desk and made her way to the Captain's office. "You called, Captain?" She asked, noticing someone she'd never seen before sat in one of the chairs opposite to her Captain. He was a short, muscular man, with very tan skin and slicked back hair with a greying streak through it. She might have even called him handsome, but for his obvious vanity. "Yes, sit down." The Captain ushered her into a seat. "Who're you?" Yume asked, looking the man up and down. "Play nice, Sergeant. This is Inspector Kagawa from District 4, he's been working a homicide that has apparently leaked into our district." "Right. Our district. So this homicide is ours now, right?" Yume grinned, looking over at Kagawa. "Not quite." Captain Honda threw a folder onto her lap, and she picked it up with an audible growl and opened it, scouring the contents as the Captain spoke, "His name is Tsuji. It's the only name we have on record of him. No prior arrests, nothing. We ran his face through a scanner, but he's clean. However, he's been described by witnesses at over half a dozen murder sites." "How do we have a name? And you're telling me," She turned to look at Kagawa, closing the folder, "That after a half dozen murders, with witnesses, you haven't caught him?" Kagawa cracked the knuckles in one of his hands and smiled at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. "This guy stabbed every one of his victims and then fled the scene. We got a name because at least one of his victims knew him, called him Tsuji. But we got a tip that he fled District 4, hoping to evade arrest, because we were close to catching him." "Good job." Yume clapped slowly, her face neutral. "So now you're here, and what... we're giving the case to this idiot, Captain?" "No, i'm giving it to both of you idiots." Honda growled at her, "You're to work with Kagawa, he's told me he has a tip that Tsuji has been spotted at the Yamanouchi processing plant. I want both of you to go down there, now, and look into it. Even if he's gone, he might have left something behind that could give us a little more information on him." "Right." Kagawa nodded, "Shall we go, Sergeant?" "... right." Yume rolled her tongue around in her cheek, then stood up, and they left together. "So, Yume--" Kagawa started. "We're not friends, Inspector. I'm Sergeant, or Akiyama to you." "Hey--" Kagawa put his hand in front of her before she was able to open the door to the car park, "What's the deal here?" She scoffed in disbelief, "Every time there's something interesting in our department, some dickweed like you turns up and claims they got here first, and suddenly it gets taken out from under us. We've had more than a dozen cases taken from us, after we had most of the work done, and then someone swoops in and takes it from us." "This ain't that." Kagawa defended himself, "I've been following this guy for a year, you've just got this case, I know this ain't my district, but damn if you Sixers aren't hostile." Yume paused, considering Kagawa for a moment. Had she misread him? She shook her head at him all the same, "Come on." She muttered. They got into her car and left the MPD building. The drive to the Yamanouchi processing plant took nearly a half hour. They sat in silence in the car. Neither one wanting to be the first to speak. When they finally pulled up to the processing plant, Kagawa leapt out of the car and began pacing. "What's the big deal? Calm down. You're like a rookie or somethin'..." Yume smirked at him. "I can't help it. I've come so close to catching this guy, but every time he slips through my fingers, like he's made of sand. I'm a laughing stock back in D4, all because of this guy. Some random nobody that keeps killing while I chase shadows. It's hard being singled out." "I can't imagine what that feels like." She replied, sarcasm hidden in her statement. The pair walked up to the large double doors, large enough for a shipping truck to enter. Kagawa motioned to her, and pulled his pistol. She did the same. She shook her head at the main doors, and jerked it at the small red door near the corner of the building. He nodded with a smile, and the pair quick-stepped up to side entrance. 'Ready?' He mouthed silently. She nodded. '1, 2, 3!' Kagawa kicked the door in and charged inside, she was just a second behind. By the time her shoulders were passing the door frame, the deafening sound of gunfire already rang through the plant. Something sharp bit her in the shoulder, and she hit the ground. Hard. "Argh!!" She grit her teeth as the pain started to assert itself. It was white hot, burning. She'd caught a bullet in the right shoulder. She felt a pair of hands grab her by the jacket and yank her behind cover. "It's a trap!!" Kagawa yelled, over the gunfire. "NO SHIT!!" Yume snarled back at him, suppressing a yell. She pulled herself in tight to the machinery they had hidden behind. Several men were firing down on them from the second level. "Where's Tsuji?! Is he even here?!" She asked Kagawa. She couldn't believe they'd walked into this. This was beyond rookie. Something had gone wrong, and she didn't know what, but whatever it was it was going to cost them their lives. "I don't see him!" Kagawa yelled back, "Are you alright?!" She shot him a look that answered that question. Kagawa recoiled as a bullet pinged off the edge of the machine next to his head. "Shit! That's getting close, they're moving!!" He looked around the other side, "Can you move?" "I'm fine!" Yume growled, looking down at the blood oozing from her wound, "Gonna need a new jacket..." "Funny!" Kagawa replied, but smiled despite his sarcasm. She smiled too. "Alright, circle 'round, i'll draw their fire, if you can get around the other side of this machinery, you should have a clear line of sight on the men on the platform above, I don't see a lot of cover up there." "Right, you ready?!" She asked, holding her pistol in one hand. "Go!!" Kagawa yelled, and she leapt to her feet and started running. Dizziness hit her immediately. She could hear how close the bullets were. As she ran, she heard Kagawa open fire on the gunmen. For a few seconds, their fire shifted entirely to Kagawa, she turned the corner, raised her pistol and got off three shots. The first hit the first gunman in the knee and he crumpled to the floor of the gantry, the second hit the second gunman in the head, dropping him like a puppet with it's strings cut. The last shot missed the final gunman who took notice of her immediately. He turned and fired on her as she ran for cover, but a bullet whipped through her right leg and she collapsed to the floor. She was expecting to hear one last shot. She made peace with herself. She thought of Shizu, and little Nyoko. Then Kagawa was screaming at her, "Akiyama!" Slowly, she tried to pull herself to her feet, to look to Kagawa. Her head turned, and she saw Kagawa raising his gun to her. For a moment, her brain couldn't process what was happening, then suddenly she heard very clearly what he was yelling at her. "Aug! Aug!! Aug!!!" Kagawa fired once, and she heard a metal pang. Then suddenly something grabbed the back of her neck, pulled her to her feet and she was deafened by a gun being fired at her ear. The world was spinning, she felt nauseous. She watched as Kagawa crumpled to the floor, and blood spill out over the cold stone. A powerful hand wrenched the gun from her arm and spun her around. She recognised the face immediately. It was Tsuji. His eyes were wild with triumph as she wrestled to break free from his iron grasp, but it was no good. She managed to get one hand free and she punched him in the face and yelped as it felt like she'd just struck a metal wall. Tsuji punched her in her wounded shoulder and she gasped as a sharp, unbearable pain washed through her. She collapsed to the ground, but as she did so, she tried to reach for the gun she kept holstered at the back of her waist. Tsuji was too fast. He kicked her to the ground once more, and stomped on her back. She heard ribs crack. He grabbed her by the wrists and began to lift. She was in agonising pain as her arms were pulled back beyond their breaking point as her back arched, trying to compensate. Then at last, two loud snaps signalled what Tsuji was looking for. Yume wailed and fell limp against the floor, unable to move. She felt pressure, and she was being lifted effortlessly. The ground was moving beneath her, she blacked out. She was still being moved when she opened her eyes, then the ground opened way to a long drop. She saw people walking by far below. She had no idea how high up she was, but it was high enough. "Oi, cop!" Tsuji shook her, making her wince, "Say hey to that shit Kagawa for me, he's a real asshole!" Tsuji laughed, and then she was falling. The last thing she saw was the ground rushing up to meet her, and then nothing. It was over, at least. Several people screamed as a body hit the pavement and they leapt back in surprise. Blood was already beginning to pool. Several began taking pictures while one man called an emergency air ambulance. "Hello, yes a woman just jumped from the Yamanouchi processing plant, you have to hurry, I think she's still alive..." He leaned down and delicately opened her jacket, and there inside was a badge, "She's a police officer... Sergeant... Yume Akiyama, please come quickly, it's bad!!" "Sergeant? Sergeant...?" "Mmm...?" Yume groaned. Her throat was like sandpaper. Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around. The room she was in was a brilliant white, and there was a blinding light overhead. "Ugh, lights!" She muttered. Nothing happened. "Shizu... the lights... are playing up again..." She tried to lean up but found she couldn't move, it was as though she'd been tucked into bed so tightly that she was trapped. Then suddenly, everything came flooding back to her and her eyes shot open. She was lying in a hospital bed. There were straps over the top of her to secure her. Why, she didn't know. "Let me up..." She muttered, struggling. "Hang on, Sergeant." She recognised that voice. Yume looked over and saw her Captain sat beside her bed. "Oh, Captain, what happened?" Yume asked, "My throat is dry, can I have some water?" "Sure." Honda leant over with a plastic cup and let her sip from it, "You died." He said bluntly. She couldn't help but choke a little. "What?!" Yume croaked. "You lost a lot of blood. You had multiple gun shot wounds, broken bones, a fractured skull, your arms were a mess, several of your organs were mincemeat. I'm surprised they managed to save you, to be honest." Honda leaned in again, his face grave, "You need to be brought up-to-date, but..." "But what...?" She asked, blinking herself awake, "I feel... weird. Not terrible though..." "I'm not the one to explain..." Honda excused himself. "Hey, hey! Captain!?" Yume pleaded, but Honda was gone. A few seconds passed, she heard Honda say something outside in the corridor, but missed it. Then a minute later a man walked in. Well, that wasn't entirely true. It looked a bit like a man. But it was an android. "What the hell...?"
  9. A Dragon's Soul

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo A Dragon's Soul Stonegale, as towns go, is quite exceptional. Not just because it's a coastal town that trades with some of the most prosperous cities around the world. Nor because it's countryside is among the most beautiful, framed by valleys, mountains and rivers. No, Stonegale is exceptional for a wholly other reason. It is home to the Stonegale Academy for Witches and Wizards. At the north end of the town, beach gives way to a large harbour, where ships of all shapes and sizes come to trade and set sail. The harbour is, in turn, shadowed by a tall cliff, upon which sits the enormous Dragane Castle. The home of Stonegale Academy. "What is a Witch or Wizard?" The teacher asked. She was tall and slim, in her mid-thirties, with fiery red hair and serene eyes which gave her a sort of apathetic expression. The classroom remained silent. She smiled and reached into dark purple robes and pulled out a short black branch. Tapping her desk with the branch, she knocked back her pointed Witch's hat with a finger, before directing the branch at the class before her, a group of thirty or so teenagers. "Light!" She commanded, and at once, all the candles lighting the large stone room exploded ferociously, startling several students. All were paying attention now. "A Witch or Wizard... is what?" She asked again, eyeing her students now, branch in hand, pointed threateningly towards them. One young boy raised his hand and she nodded. "A Witch or Wizard is a person capable of using magic?" He ended his statement as though a question, unsure of himself. "Yes of course!" The teacher agreed, "But more than that, Mr. Gillian..." She looked around the room once more, scanning the faces of her students. Some looked bored, some were talking amongst themselves, or staring off into space. Then she homed in on her target. A girl sat one row behind the boy holding a conversation with himself. She was short, even for her age, with elf-like features and big grey eyes. Most unusually about her, however, was beneath her pointed hat lay a thick mop of snow white hair. "Miss Pendragon - Alice!" The teacher called out, addressing the white-haired girl, who reflexively groaned at being selected. "The same question!?!" "A Witch or Wizard is the centre of their community, Miss Priscilla." Alice replied quietly. The muffled sound of laughter made her whirl around in her seat and scan the back of the class, but she couldn't see who was laughing. Slowly, she sat back in her chair as Miss Priscilla clapped. "Spot on! A pillar of the community!!" Priscilla looked to one chair in front of Alice, at the boy talking to the window. "Mr. Lindström!" She called out, "Would you like to continue that conversation later? I would like you to introduce yourself to the class, if you please. Mr. Lindström is a new transfer student, and I would like you all to treat him with the same respect and kindness you give one another!" She held her hand up for the boy to stand and introduce himself to the class. The boy was abnormally tall and rake thin. A single manic-looking eye peered out from the gap in his inky, black hair that was so straight and smooth that it clung to his face, more like a single, fluid entity rather than individual strands. Despite the dark shadows under his eye, it appeared to be wide and alert, if a little glassy. The eye twitched frantically around the classroom, then at the boys feet, then back to Priscilla. "Oh..." he said softly, as if he has only just understood her meaning. "Um... No thank you." He said softly, but confidently. Then he relaxed himself and went back to staring off at nothing in particular. "Right... well..." Before Priscilla could form a thought, the classroom was disrupted by a loud bell. The students stood and began to leave, "Alright well just remember everyone to study for our next lesson on broom flight! I expect you all to know the three do's and don'ts by tomorrow!!" By the time she'd finished speaking, almost everyone had left. Priscilla picked up her bag and walked out, leaving five students still packing up to leave. Alice tried to stand up, but felt a hand forcefully sit her back down in her seat. A trio of students surrounded her and the boy in front of her, Felix. A tall, muscular boy sat on Felix's desk, eyeing him up while a girl with a sharp, angular face smiled at her. No, it was more like a sneer. The last student was a girl with short curly brown hair that seemed disinterested with the whole situation. Alice found herself reminded of their teacher. The boy was called Gunther, the curly-haired girl was Helena, and the leader of this little trio was Anastasia. "So, what's your story?" Anastasia asked Felix, looking him over with a critical eye. "Um..." Felix replied as he looked upon each of them in turn, like a startled animal trying to decide if the creatures around him were friend or foe. "... I'm sorry, do you only have one story? Mother told me many..." his tone was not facetious, but rather seemed one of genuine befuddlement about the question. Anastasia was not pleased with this response. Her face screwed up in a mixture of distaste and confusion, "Where'd you find this kid?" She asked, her eyes rolling over to look at Alice. "Did he crawl out of the same place you came from?" She muttered, staring at Felix. Alice stood from her chair and kicked it out from under her. "Just leave him alone..." Alice growled, gritting her teeth in anger. Anastasia laughed, looking down at Alice's pearly whites. "Great white shark!" Gunther chimed in, laughing. Pointing at Alice's shark-like teeth. "Don't call me that..." Alice pushed her lips together and reached inside her robes. "A-Ah!" Anastasia warned her, and Alice noticed then that Anastasia had a fireplace poker directed at her face. "What about you?" Anastasia asked, looking at the boy's clothes, "You should be wearing your robe over those... clothes... and don't you have a hat?" She asked, raising an eyebrow. "I like these clothes." Felix replied, as if that's all the explanation that was required. He turned and glanced over the length of the fire poker, before standing up from his chair and leaning closer, staring at it studiously. "What's that for?" he asked curiously. "Is he special or something?" Helena asked, looking at Alice quizzically. "It's my Focus, duh!" Anastasia replied, "Every Witch and Wizard needs a Focus to use magic." To punctuate this, she pointed the poker at Alice's hat and said, "Come!" Alice's hat was torn from her head and flew into Anastasia's waiting fingers, "See?" She grinned wickedly, twirling the hat on her right forefinger. "Give it back!!" Alice growled, but as she tried to step towards Anastasia, Helena got between them. "What's your Focus?" Anastasia asked curiously, looking at Felix with a keen eye. Felix ignored the question, his eyes darting from the hat in Anastasia's hand, and then back to Alice. "But... Couldn't you have just asked her nicely? If you needed the hat so badly I'm sure she would have given you it..." He tapped his index finger gently against his lip, thinking for a moment. "It seems like a pointless way to use magic... Is it not?" "Magic shouldn't be used selfishly..." Alice muttered. "It wasn't selfish. I was making a point. Have the stupid hat, it's a tattered hand-me-down, anyway." Anastasia shoved the hat back into Alice's hands and walked away, flanked on either side by Helena and Gunther, "That's so sweet, Alice. You've finally found someone as weird as you. Everyone needs a friend, right?" The trio laughed as they left the classroom, leaving Felix and Alice alone together. "I'm sorry about them... Anastasia is just... mean." Alice dusted off her hat and shoved it back on her head at an angle, "But she was right about one thing, you're not exactly like other Wizards, are you?" She asked, grabbing her satchel and slinging it onto her shoulder. "Mm... I'm not?" Felix asked, pausing to ponder on it. "Are Wizards all the same? I have yet to meet one human that is quite like the other... it's why I find them confusing." "Well... no, but... well there you go again, you call people 'human' like you're not." Alice shook her head and flashed a toothy grin. "Wait... you are human, right? I mean i've never met any other creatures before but Miss Priscilla told us there are lots of weird and wonderful beings, and some of them are even human-like." "Oh... no, sorry. I am human." Felix replied. "But I know myself so... I don't confuse myself. It's other humans that are confusing. For example, they ask a question, then continue talking, then ask more questions, and they haven't even had the first question answered. I never know what to respond to first, or if I should respond to only the last question, or if I should even respond at all..." Felix trailed off after that, once again staring at a pocket of the room where there seemed to be nothing of particular interest to see. Alice frowned and followed Felix's line of sight to the corner of the room. She saw nothing. "Alright, well... I should probably be going. My grandpa said I have to find a job in town this year, so..." "Oh...okay." Felix said, not looking back in Alice's direction. "It was nice to meet you, Alice Pendragon." He said, giving only a faint smile. "Actually... mostly it was confusing and a little distressing. But you seem kind... so I guess it is nice to have met you, don't you think?" She wasn't really sure how to answer. Alice found herself nodding quietly with a lop-sided grin plastered on her face, before she retreated from the classroom and ran for the front doors of Dragane Castle. However, as she stepped outside, she was immediately drenched. It was raining. She quickly fled back inside and reached back inside her robes. What she pulled out, could hardly be thought of as a tool of the magical. It was an old, wooden feather duster with a thick plumage of black feathers. Holding the feather duster with the wooden handle pointing up, she spoke directly to it, "Into a broom, if you please!" The feather duster shuddered in her hands, threatening to fly out of her grasp, but then quickly, the handle shot out until it was taller than she was, and the feathers elongated and became a dishevelled bundle of twigs. "Right then..." Alice muttered, pulling herself onto the broom, "Behave yourself now... fly!" Alice's squealing scream echoed through the corridors of the Academy as she bolted up into the driving rain of the dark and stormy sky. "Not so fast!" She screeched, and the broom promptly obeyed. By stopping. Her screams reached such a pitch they almost became inaudible as she dropped from the sky as quickly as she'd ascended into it. "Now, really, behave yourself!!" She thumped the side of the broom handle and it levelled out. Alice carefully re-positioned herself on the broom and then took off back down towards the town. She flew over the streets, looking down at the scattered townsfolk fleeing indoors in response to the torrential downpour. Over the course of an hour, Alice visited a dozen different places. Pubs, bakeries, pharmacies, grocers and markets. Everywhere she went, she was given the same answer. No, sorry, there were no jobs available. Her clothes were soaking wet, and she was chilled to the bone. She was hungry, tired and she knew she couldn't go back to her grandfather with nothing to show. Then she noticed a small light in the window of one of the shops along the edge of the harbour. Last chance, she thought. She sped towards the shop and noticed a steady stream of customers escaping from the rain. Then she noticed the name, 'Aime's Café'. Perfect, she thought. If there wasn't a job, at least she could get something to eat.
  10. X Sporalysis Redux

    Wormmon He emerges right after me, materializing in light from the soles of his boots to the last wisp of his dark onyx hair. He’s clad in black, now-- polished boots, heavy trousers, and a thick leather belt holding it all to his svelt waist. A grey shirt and the white fur sprouting from his leather jacket are the only light features to his ensemble, and the rest is capped off with slim black gloves, and dark belts affixed to his forearms. At one point I thought his wardrobe changes were intimidating, but then he started to wear a pair of square goggles around his neck. I remember them-- just like the pair Daisuke had broken when he first entered the digital world. It’s silent until we reach some kind of town. Ken and I have always had that quiet regard between us; though there are some times I feel like the silence really does say nothing. The town-- if I can call it that-- was a pod of half-submerged brick igloos. Most had trap doors on top and a variety of windows poking up out of the terracotta mud. Two Ogremon stood knee-deep in murky water with shovels, trying to clear the mud away from one of the domes that was twice as sunken as the rest of them. It seemed the more they pushed against the fill, the deeper they sunk in themselves. Woven through the village were muck trails of foot prints and tire tracks where machines had made their way through. Water was pooled shallowly in each tire tread and heelmark. A ways off, hardly visible through the low mist, was a two-story bathhouse and thick, hefty boulders pooling in the hot springs that bubbled up. The elegant rock garden had water spilling over and around, and even where we stood, the water was warm against my feet. “Wormmon, would you digivolve?†I’d always do anything for Ken. I let our bond fill me with strength, my eyes closing as I looked up at Ken, and opening again looking down. It felt like letting go of a warm handshake. “Please, help these Ogremon get their house out of the mud.†I put my wings to work like never before, pulling up on the door frame as the Ogremon pushed from below. “Ah wish we could just move these†one of the Ogremon sighed between heavy breaths. “Shore be easier than movin’ that big’un.†He jerked his head to the bathhouse, and then wagged it all around them. “Can’t believe how much they dammed this place up. Lousy hu-mons.†Quietly, I noticed Ken had vanished. We’d finally gained some traction against the suction of the deep mud, and the house was starting to heave upwards. The other ogremon rolled some rocks the size of bowling balls into the ditch they were creating, and they helped the house to rest on them so that it was on higher ground. “You’ve done a great job, guys. I prepared us some snacks!†Ken chirped up, red in the face and holding out some bagged treats in his gloved hands. There was a faint pungent smell under the sweet cinnamon coming off the treats, like masking dirty socks beneath a candle. I decided Ken had probably gotten a lot of water down his boots. “You’re not so bad, eh?†The Ogremon tromped over, his wide feet lifting him across the waste like snowshoes on fresh powder. Together they all sat on a bench that had been tied up to tree branches rather than posted up from the ground. It swung (when two Ogremon weren’t sitting on it) and most importantly, it hadn’t sunk into the mire. The tree that supported it was starting to grey, its roots oversaturated in the swampy mudland. Ken passed out the snacks, and I returned to a more manageable size. “I remember, you know, it wasn’t that long ago.†The Ogremon continued, and waved his club out towards the wastes. “The hot spring made a river, you know, but just barely. The land’s all pretty flat out here, but a long time ago the water decided it was going to flow that way and leave us meadows and farmland, right? Oooh I remember when the Palmon used to come to plant and harvest…†His eyes started to glaze over with a smile, until his friend elbowed him sharply. “--Argh, right, but there it was, and here we were. And when the hu-mons found the hot spring and put all them rocks there, I guess the bubble-over just decided it could go anywhere. We’ve been sinkin’ inches by the year. And the Palmon don’t come back.†Ken sat, nodding almost sagely. It seemed we did this a lot, these days-- listened to stories, tried to give what help we could. Ken had lost the surprise, had soured even to offering a sad glance at the struggling Digimon these days. I knew he was burdening himself with their pain, knew he’d take it in to the point of breaking. But I also knew that we would go back to the real world, and Daisuke would come home, and some little part of that fatigue and frustration would unravel and dissipate. No one else could keep Ken sane. A crackling popped in the distance, at first like breaking wood; I looked up. But it grew louder, like fireworks, like lava boiling over and the resultant splatter. A warm wind passed, and as the hot, acrid scent of gunpowder and nitrate lingered in the air, I looked back across the mist. There was no bath house, and the rock gardens laid in gravel piles. “Let’s head back, Wormmon.†It is complicated to describe how I felt at that moment. Eager, to take him up on the offer. Uneasy, suspicious-- and my suspicions continued to make me uneasy. I felt trust bend, and creak within me. I wanted nothing more than to believe Ken had nothing to do with what had happened. I felt, if I could not believe that, I would have to doubt everything. Doubt that Ken was truly doing what was best for the Digimon affected by the Million Points of Light. Doubt that Daisuke was keeping him grounded. Doubt that Ken was slipping out of his right mind and I didn’t know him well enough to notice while he was nearly healthy. More than anything I did not want to doubt that I could follow Ken anywhere, that I could withstand even death to save my partner from his own. We returned. Blissfully clean, Ken skulked off to take a shower anyway, as if the digital mud was still caked up to his knees. I listened to the water pour down until the door swung open, and Daisuke and Veemon paraded in from another successful day with the street noodle cart. “Aaayyy little man, where’s Ken? That slacker nappin’? Hah, I bet he’s had his nose in a book all day. Nerd.†The fire-spiked redhead dashed down to his and Ken’s mutual bedroom, skating on his socks half the way there. The dark D-3 was still resting by the computer screen, but little was amiss besides. All that Daisuke noticed was Ken wasn’t in there, so he stopped, and tracked him by the shower beating rain across the floor. “He-hey, can I come in?†Daisuke took a mumble for a yes, and helped himself. Daisuke “Like, can I really come in?†I started shucking my shirt, socks, letting it all pile up on the floor. I pushed aside the shower curtain and found Ichijouji posed against the back wall. One arm folded, holding the other, and the remaining hand touching his jaw nearly at his mouth. His eyes were half-lidded, mouth ajar. “I don’t know, can you?†He cocked his head. I felt faint from how fast my blood made it into my dick. “I can.†I nodded; I swear my head whipped around like my neck had turned to jello. Pants hit the floor. I shut the curtain around us to keep from flooding the bathroom even further, and pushed my hands against the shower wall to either side of Ken’s head. “What the hell’s gotten into you, Ichijouji?†He shrugged. “Just a rush, I guess.†His slender arms entangled me, his leg slipped around the both of mine as he drew our bodies flush. Our nethers started to mingle, and I felt him stiffen at the touch of mine. “I wish me getting home always turned you on this much.†I laughed, a little awkwardly. It was sort of a sore point in the past-- Ken had shied away from anything even remotely public (no kissing near windows) and sometimes, that translated to just feeling too self-conscious to even get nasty in the privacy of their own bedroom. It had been much better-- like wowza way better-- lately, a mix of Ken clinging to me in any spare moment, to him initiating, to just being downright more vocal about what he wants. I suppose it’s the comfortable bliss stage that every long-term relationship hopes for; god knows Ken was already perfect in every other way. “Oh come on Motomiya. Maybe you should always ambush me in the shower?†Ken perked a little smirk, and I thirsted to kiss it off his smug face. He picked his chin up away from me-- fucking tall prick-- and I went to town on his neck instead, to the sound of his deep chuckle. “I never thought you’d pick up a kink.†I laughed, slithering my tongue up Ken’s neck until he finally looked down and took it into his mouth. We mingled together, tasted each other for a while. “You inspire me.†Ken had real bedroom eyes now, and the anxious heavy beat of his heart was jarring against my rapid one. I longed to bring them into sync, to take Ken’s body and merge it with mine in the only way humans knew how. No matter how many times I’d taken Ken, it would never get old. His was the complementary flesh to mine, and no one would ever feel as hot and right in my arms. My hands were groping at his thighs now, my chest rubbing against his as our members brushed beneath. His hands slicked down my back, thick soap bubbles a wake of his slippery hands. They found my ass and tightened around it. “Ah! Ken, are you trying to…?†“I want to do this to you, this time.†Ken was smiling, his soaped fingers slipping between my cheeks, digits probing in gentle circles around the orifice. Each round pushed more and more insistently, and I could feel a warm pleasure stirring my lower abdomen. Suddenly, just the tip of one of Ken’s slender fingers nudged up inside, and urged a soft moan out of me. “I mean… if that’s what you want…†I was blushing, even the cool shower wouldn’t quench my face. An old and familiar glint crossed Ken’s eyes as he tightened his serpent grip around me, and pressed his finger deeper inside. Like Ken on the battlefield-- the competitive Ken, Ken on the soccer pitch with a need to win something. Here I was, prostrate in his arms, just the same reverence for Ichijouji as when I’d sat like a fanboy to watch his championship games. His finger urged deeper into me still, and swirled inside. “Oh! Wow…†I pushed my face into his chest, tried not to tighten up. I let my hands grip tight to Ken’s hips, and felt him lighten his touch any time my grip became too much. “You’re mine, Motomiya…†His words caressed my hair, and as one soapy finger became two, and then three, I was wrenched from his front and pressed into the neighboring shower wall. Ken conformed to my back, and held me by the abdomen as he guided his cock into my slippery, well-stretched hole. It still felt decidedly more filling than the three fingers had. “Damn! Ken…†My breath fogged against the tile wall. I counted my blessings that Ken was the the more slender of dicks between us, same as our figures. I swelled with precum at the thought of what this felt like when it was me fucking Ken-- and then dripped as Ken pressed all the way to his hilt, and withdrew. “Amazing…†Ken whispered, pulling away from my back just briefly. His thumb pulled at my ass, and I assumed he was admiring what it looked like to be the one on top for a change. “Fuck me, dammit!†I couldn’t stand my own impatience. I was trembling through my knees. My balls were sore with the need for release. “Oh?†Ken quickly rammed himself back in, and I hugged the wall with a whimper. “Dude!?†My voice cracked as Ken pulled out again. Across his brow was a momentary downturn, his lips tightening for just a moment. Was he… angry? I opened my mouth to apologize for rushing him, only to have two fingers stuffed inside, pressing down on my tongue. “I will, then.†With his other hand wrapped around my cock, a rhythm built up between us. The quick thrust as he pressed us into the wall, the slow withdraw as I moved my hips back same as him, and let myself fuck his hand. As if he knew the feeling of his own body, his hand wrapped at just the perfect pressure to get me moaning his name. “Ichijouji… nnh…†My red hair matted the wall, my tongue swirled around Ken’s fingers with the practiced skill of taking his cock. Ken nipped at the back of my neck and along the shoulder, leaving little red bruises for the next day. “Mmm, Daisuke…†Ken became awash in the delicately soft moans I loved him for. The ‘uhns’ that strained at the back of his throat became the herald of his orgasm. I bucked my hips to meet his and felt him fill me with hot seed, and then again felt it drip down out of my body in a bubbly string and the clean scent of ivory soap. Ken’s hands were at my sides again, their touch tender, almost hesitant as they urged me to turn. Water sleuced down my body as Ken took to his knees, kneeling down before my still-stiff cock. His fingers worked the soap from the surface, and worked another pearly droplet of precum to my tip that he could kiss away with those devious lips of his. What started from a soft massage of lips at the head worked into a tongue-slick swallowing of all I had to offer; Ken daring to gag ever so slightly as I filled to the back of his throat. Through the shower rain he beat his eyelashes to look up at me, my cock swelling between his stretched lips and strained jaw. Needless to say, I released immediately. Ken sucked to the last drop as he let me out, and turned the shower knobs to off as he rose to his feet. “Let me know when you’re ready to go again.†Ken wrapped himself in a soft cotton bathrobe, and smiled ever so slightly my way. And he left it like that, slipping out of the bathroom and out around the corner to elsewhere in the flat. Maybe it was just the refractory period introspection getting to me, or maybe it was the ache between my legs from Ken’s brief outburst when I’d urged him, but… I couldn’t let that out of my mind. Ken was much more aggressive in bed… though it didn’t seem sudden, just dramatic. Like a creeping vine had taken root and started to flower inside of Ken, and only now that it was blooming did I notice it there. Or maybe not like a vine at all… but a spore? Ken "Wormmon, could I have this space to myself?" I slid down across the bed surface, peeked at the tragic sparkle that came across Wormmon's eyes when I asked him to leave. Ah, that little drama queen. "Just for now. Veemon is home, won't you play with him?" I raised my eyebrows, and Wormmon reluctantly let the point get across. "Alright, Ken..." the bug digimon scuttled away, and I nudged the door most of the way closed with an outstretched foot as he left. Peace. I felt warm, and good. These simple things I let satisfy me for a while. Despite all I'd done today, despite the things I'd just done to Daisuke... I felt lively. My post-coital fog lifted and I felt ready to do my day over again. Of course, I couldn't inflict that sort of schedule onto Wormmon, but it was encouraging that I'd get this sort of continuing high from the help I'd given those Ogremon earlier today. Honestly, I'd half expected it to haunt me. And to be fair, the fact that I do feel this good, is. I let my mind sink back to Daisuke, and that was all the distraction I needed. I felt fixated on him recently-- perhaps because his new work kept us apart even longer hours. I need him so urgently... urgently enough to fuck him myself this time. And it felt perfect.
  11. closed Avatar: Roots

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo. AVATAR ROOTS It has been 40 years since Avatar Korra vanished into the spirit realm, never to be seen again. While Republic City has remained a hub for the four nations of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, it is not as it once was. Spirits roam our world freely, and after the horrors of war touched the hearts of the people, there has been a strong outcry for the destruction of all unnecessary technology. Cars, radios, and many other technologies considered luxuries were thrown into the streets and destroyed by the vast majority. The world has moved on, and many have forgotten the role of the Avatar in our world in spite of the greater number of benders. It is a time of peace amongst nations, and an uneasy peace between humanity and the spirits. However, twelve years ago a new Avatar was discovered, a young girl from the Earth Nation called Kiyoko. As she sets out to experience the world and master her powers in a time where few care about her role in the world, a new force is rising. Insane rumours of a long-dead master of bending, risen from the dead, and consuming the power of those he fights. Together with her friends, Kiyoko will need to learn where she fits into the world left to her by her predecessor, and how she will make her mark, for better or worse... A trio of footsteps rapidly crossed the stone courtyard. Their pace was quick, because it was set by the Mayor of Republic City, Bo Lam. His pace was quick, because he had been informed only hours before that the Order of the White Lotus - the society that finds and trains new Avatars - had found Korra's heir. However, he had also been informed that they had found her more than ten years ago, and had been training her in secret due to what one of the Order had called, 'an unstable climate'. Unstable indeed, Bo thought, huffing. He came to the far end of the courtyard and turned up a path, dotted with steps. The path seemed to stretch on forever ahead of him, and he was already out of breath. He was in his forties and he had to admit now, not in the best of shape. By the time he reached the top of the winding path, he was speechless. In part, because of the beautiful vista he saw before him. The Order of the White Lotus had their headquarters at the highest-most point of Republic City. Even he didn't have views like this, and he was the bloody mayor! But he was mostly out of breath because he always stopped for a sweet roll at the local stand, because they always gave him one for free. Excuses, excuses, he mouthed to himself, wiping his brow. "So, where is she?" Bo asked, looking around the stone courtyard, and the ornate classical building at the far end. There were guards around, no doubt for her protection, but little else. There was no sign of this 'Kiyoko' at all. This was probably some elaborate joke, no doubt orchestrated by his staff. Suddenly, there was a loud crash, and Bo was pulled from his irritable thought train. "What was that?!" He growled in surprise, his eyes scanning for activity. Moments later, the doors to the building ahead of them were torn from their hinges and flew out, crashing into the middle of the courtyard. A dust storm exploded outwards, and something was riding inside it. It was a young woman! Bo watched as a panicked instructor came running out of the building, chasing after the girl who couldn't have been older than seventeen. "Wait, Kiyoko!" The man yelped breathlessly, "I just--" "Yoko!" The girl chided her elder, and rode the dust storm across the courtyard, destroying it in the process as she rode the earth like a surfer might a wave. Then she spotted the new arrival and she leapt off the short earth pillar and the dust storm came to a halt. "Hey, who's the old guy?!" She asked over her shoulder. The woman was of medium height, slim with tan skin and brilliant white hair which came down to her chest but was shaved on one side. "'Old guy'?" Bo raised an eyebrow as he looked to the instructor. The man was clearly way out of his depth. He caught up to the girl and was saying something to her hurriedly before collapsing onto his backside and resuming his wheezing fit in silence. "Well are you the Avatar, or aren't you?!" "Sure am," She replied, straightening out a simple dark green kimono designed for ease of movement, "Yoko, Avatar, nice t'meet ya," A grin spread across her face as she approached him, and Bo noticed she had a dozen or so small scars on her face. Little nicks and cuts here and there, with a particularly noticeable vertical scar running through the left side of her lips. Despite her wounds, she was an attractive young woman, who carried herself with a swagger. "So you're the Mayor of Republic City? Why haven't you been up to see me before?" She asked. "This is the first i'm hearing about you, if i'm to be honest, and--" "Riiiight, right..." Yoko muttered, looking him up and down, "Well I guess I was busy anyway, these jokers--" She thumbed over her shoulder to her instructor, "Have me training day-in, day-out, and it's not like i'm even allowed out. I can't even use my powers outside of the grounds, can you believe that?!" "It's delicate, I know--" "I know, right?! It's so unfair..." Yoko muttered, cutting the Mayor off. "Enough!" The instructor finally growled out, catching his breath. He stood up and brushed off his crimson robes before pulling a small clipboard from within it's folds and a little pencil, "Now then, you're supposed to finish your exam, can we do so without further interruption!?" The instructor asked, exasperated. "Yeah, but i've only got the combat portion left, and that's kind of my speciality, right? I mean, I am the Avatar... that's gotta be good for somethin'..." She chuckled but lost her smile when she saw her instructor's pleading eyes, "Oh fine, right, right... come on then..." She muttered, walking back into the centre of the courtyard. "You will demonstrate your ability with the four elements, and must succeed in at least three categories." Her instructor took a step back and nodded towards the building. Yoko turned and looked back, to see several people dressed in black, all holding clipboards and studying the broken doors. As one, they began scribbling on their pads. For a moment, the colour drained from Yoko's face. "Alright, come on then!" She clapped her hands together and made fists, assuming a combat stance. Four members of the Order of the White Lotus stepped forwards, surrounding her. As they did, a woman stepped up to stand beside the Mayor. Bo turned and gave her a casual sideways glance and muttered, "Why didn't that tire you out...?" As if it would anyone, it should have been her. The White Lotus guards charged as one. Yoko stomped a foot down onto the stone and she was thrown high into the air by a pillar of earth below her, which followed her up into the air as a large cylinder. She whirled around in the air, and smashed her fists into the pillar, and the solid cylinder split into a dozen enormous discs of stone that whirled like boomerangs around the courtyard and clobbered two of the White Lotus. As she landed she deftly dodged to one side, missing her opponent's attacks, "Earth!" She cried with victory, and as she rolled out of the way, the roll turned into a leaping twirl that ended in a vicious kick wreathed in flame. Her foot came down on the man's shoulder and he collapsed to the floor while one of the other guards who had been hit pulled himself to his feet. There were still two standing. "Fire..." She added, then ran at the nearest guard. "Water!" She cried, and drew from the ground water of the morning's rainfall. The water leapt up, rolled around her arm and she directed it straight into the guard's face. But instead of collapsing the guard jumped in surprise as he was splashed with as much force as the drink in the face he'd received the night before from that girl at the party. He recovered quickly, and went on the offensive, and Yoko found herself trying to block his attacks while being mindful of the man behind her who ran towards her. But she was faster, at the last second, she turned and yelled, "Air!" At the top of her lungs, and thrust her fists forwards. She did so with such conviction that the guard actually recoiled, assuming the worst. But nothing happened. "Air!!" Yoko yelled again, thrusting her fists forwards, but again, not so much as a light breeze. Then the guard's foot connected with her back, and she went tumbling across the ground until she connected with one of her fallen discs and finally came to a stop. The fight was over in a matter of seconds. There was neither cheers, nor boos. Just a deadly silence filled the gap, as she picked herself back up. "That's so stupid... air is rubbish, look it's just air," And she blew out of her mouth to demonstrate, "Earth is better." She added, then kicked one of the discs into the air, and roundhouse kicked it so hard that it flew across the courtyard and crashed into a display vase. The instructor's face turned ashen white. "Whoops..." Yoko grinned sheepishly. "Well... three outta four ain't bad, right?" She asked nervously, scratching the side of her shaved head. A gentle giggling broke the silence. A woman dressed in a red and golden robe was sat cross-legged, and had been watching the trial. A crimson cape was draped over her shoulders, it's length covering her entire body like a blanket, with her red-sandalled feet crossed in front of her. She was an older woman in her 50's, but she looked thin, healthy and graceful apart from some minor wrinkles around her hazel eyes. Her dark brown hair was straight and cut straight at her shoulders, and a straight, fitted, golden collar went the length of her neck. Perhaps most notable was the blue arrow tattoos that came out of her robe on the back of each hand, and a larger arrow that pointed downwards on her forehead from beneath her hair. "What're you laughin' at, Grandma?!" Yoko huffed, crossing her arms and switching her attention to the newcomer. "You, obviously." The woman replied without skipping a beat. "You're quite amusing. Do you have a problem with that?" Yoko opened her mouth as she raised her forefinger in protest, but slowly closed it after a moment, "Well you do better then, go on, airbender, bend some fire..." She started walking up to the woman. "No better yet, how about some earth? Or some water? Yeah, water. Start with that." She nodded and waited expectedly. "I can bend fire, earth and water no more than you can bend air, Avatar." The woman said with a faint, patient smile. "I never will, no matter how hard I try. However, you cannot bend air, and yet you should be capable of doing so. Do you think that your ability to bend all the elements makes you superior? Hm?" "I think it will when I figure out air..." She growled, and turned her back on the woman, muttering quietly, "... and water..." She cleared her throat and started back into the middle of the courtyard. "Uuuh..." Mayor Bo shook his head and then turned to face the woman, "Sorry, who are you?" "The Avatar's new mentor, of course." The woman said with a smile as she looked at the Mayor. "Clearly she lacks even the most basic comprehension of air bending, so it seems I have arrived just in time." "We're doing what we can with what we've got!" The instructor piped up, "She's been through two water instructors and four air instructors in the past year alone, in all the history of our order, we've never known of anyone as... as..." "Rebellious." Yoko muttered off a suggestion, which was clearly the word the instructor was looking for. "Rebellious! None as rebellious as, well..." "Avatar Aang." Yoko sighed, "But you never trained Aang! You're so full of it..." "No, we never trained Aang, but he told my grandfather a great many stories about his youth and sometimes I think about how Avatar Aang turned out and it's really the only thing that gets me through the day, I mean if I didn't have that, i'd probably..." He trailed off as one of the guards took his shoulder and gently led him away. "Your grandfather was a lucky man to have met Avatar Aang." The woman said with a nod. "I never met him, but I learned of his life from my father..." The woman paused for a moment and stood up. "...Tenzin. You may remember him. Avatar Aang's eldest son, and the mentor of Avatar Korra." "Touchy man." The woman said, shaking her head before standing up. She addressed the Mayor. "Mayor Bo, I mean no disrespect to Kiyoko's tutors. I mean only to provide my services where they are needed. I have personally trained three generations of Air Nomads, and I have...endured the annoyances of youth. I am the oldest of four, after all. At least Avatar Kiyoko doesn't employ flatulence as a form of martial arts... or at least I hope not." "--Yoko." She corrected the woman, "--Yoko!" She did so again, getting annoyed, "... I ain't trainin' under you, Grandma." "Nobody asked you, Kiyoko." The woman said sternly. "The fact of the matter is, I will train you, regardless of who objects. It is a promise that I made to you a long time ago, when you were just a small child. Fortunately you couldn't speak back then, it was decidedly more pleasant." "I must'a smudged you from my memory..." Yoko muttered, "Promises get broken every day, lady." Yoko waved her hand dismissively at her, "See ya 'round." "A wager then." The woman said with a smirk. "Since air bending is so useless, it should be no problem for you to accomplish this task. Use all your bending to strike me just once within one minute, and I will leave you be. Fail and you will train under me. How does that sound?" "What part of 'no' don't ya get?" Yoko shook her head with a smirk, turning back to face the woman, "I'm already walkin' away, I can't win a wager I already won. All i've got is to lose. You don't bet much, huh?" She muttered, looking the woman up and down, "What else ya got?" She turned her head, curiosity sneaking into her voice though her eyes were as narrow and sceptical as ever. "I offer you my tutelage, if you do not see it's value then that is no fault of mine." The woman replied. "You act confident but you are afraid to prove yourself. If you truly think so little of me then you should not fear my challenge. Air bending is rubbish, right? Prove it." Yoko's face moved through a number of expressions ranging from anger to confusion, back to anger, indignation, further confusion and then finally serenity as she fell upon her response, "I ain't a coward, and I ain't afraid of your stupid test, I just don't fancy hurtin' some old lady..." She let out a short huff through flared nostrils. "Hurt me?" The woman giggled again. "You won't be able to touch me, Kiyoko." The woman stood expectantly as she watched the young girl bubble with anger. She raised one eyebrow expectantly. "Well?" "Tch!" Yoko snuffed the old woman's words and faced the woman head on, "Have it your way..." She raised her arms, forming fists. Yoko waited for a few seconds, but when the woman didn't move, she charged. Running straight on for her target. At the last second, she darted away, then whirled back, slid across the ground and tried to swipe the old lady's legs out from under her. She was over feeling any guilt now. She just wanted to teach the old bag a lesson. The woman stepped off the ground with the lightest touch, spinning gracefully as her robes swirled around her. Air carried her upwards, effortlessly avoiding Yoko's reckless attack, and as the young girl slid under her and away, she landed back on the spot where she had stood before. "You strike without consideration of your opponent. My youngest students could have avoided that." "Give it a rest, wrinkles!" Yoko barked, flipping up onto her feet. She circled the old woman for a few seconds then ran forwards, kicking forwards to raise an enormous rectangular block of stone from the ground, then she kicked it forwards. Meanwhile, as the wall rushed up to meet the woman, Yoko used the wall to hide her second attack, and pulled a second stone rectangle from the ground behind the old woman, and then quickly ran forwards and pressed them together, intending to crush the woman between the two walls. Rolling her eyes the woman rose up in another graceful swirl as the stone blocks crashed into one another beneath her. With a push from her palms she blasted air towards the ground and moved her body backwards across the sky, before landing on the ground again. "Diversion, good." She said approvingly. "However, an air bender is not limited to one axis. Strike me from left, right, back or forwards, as long as no ceiling is above me you will not succeed with such tactics." "I'll give you no ceiling..." Yoko muttered, pacing back and forth. Her anger was getting the better of her. But she'd decided on her next tactic. But she knew she was running out of time. She quickly ran towards the old woman, intending to strike from within melee range. But at the last second Yoko rose a slab of stone up from behind the old woman, pressing her into a wall. A second slab was already waiting overhead, as the shadow loomed, then suddenly Yoko whirled around, slamming her hands and feet down on the ground, and the final three walls rushed into place, trapping Yoko inside. Yoko surged forwards, she had only fleeting moments left. She brought her arm back and smashed her fist through the stone without effort, and grabbed, clutching onto something. Success! She felt cloth in her hand. "Are we done?!" Yoko yelled from outside the stone prison. There was a sudden blast of air that shattered the wall and sent Kiyoko flying backwards across the dirt, along with the red cape that the woman had been draped in. The woman herself emerged from inside the earth trap, dressed only in a red and gold outfit fitted tight to her body, with lengths of fabric attached in the space between her wrists and legs, appearing like the wing-like membranes of flying lemurs. "Your tactics are good. You assessed my actions and adapted your offensive, however, you think only one move ahead. In future you should always consider what to do if your attack fails." The woman put her hands on her hips. "Also your time is up." Yoko nodded quietly, and bundled up the red cape before throwing it back towards the woman. However, before it could reach her hands, a blast of fire scorched it to ashes and once the smoke cleared Yoko was already disappearing into the large building at the back of the courtyard.
  12. Adventure has always lived in my head, but never in my life. I grew up with fantasies of pirates, of jungle explorations, watching enviously as children around me actually lived them out. Bursting with stories that were not mine, I lay my thoughts to paper and wrote, but never found my tales compelling enough to publish. I am now 23 years old, having graduated from university, and preparing to enter the dreary working world. My parents, out of mercy, perhaps, allowed me a gap year to wander the world, before I would settle into the family business of manufacturing calculators. I seized upon the opportunity like a hungry vulture. An adventure, for a year! Refusing to take even a cent of their money, but using only the meagre savings I had from part-time work, I set off with sparkling eyes and empty pockets, vowing to travel the distance that my wildest imagination would take me. I should backtrack and say my pockets were not completely empty. I had in my possession a fairly thick notebook, sufficient to chronicle my year-long adventures… ~~~ Help. This is the only word going through my mind right now. Help. Help. Help. My hands tremble as I struggle to pen coherent sentences. Everything around me is strange and eerie, but I fail to pinpoint just what is the cause. All I know, from my author’s instinct, is that something is most definitely up with this place, and I do not wish to stay even a moment longer to find out. I am currently in complete darkness with only a torch to see what I am doing, not even daring to feel for the light lest I touch something else far more sinister. I fear that this may be the last chapter I ever write… But I must start from the start, so that anyone who picks up this book after me – God bless them if they too are trapped here – will understand the events that culminated up to this point… I had barely embarked on my ambitious journey for a month. Travelling alone has brought me to great sights, as my previous entries have indicated. One sees the good and the ugly side of human nature around the world. But as expected, money was beginning to dwindle, especially after falling prey to pickpockets on my first week. I had decided early on to look for a job, temporary ones in each new locale I went to. I worked stints as a baker, a salesman, an usher and, most recently, a lifeguard by the sea. Although not always lucrative, they provided a new source of experience, and I came away from them wealthier and satisfied. The nightmare began today with a completely innocuous mistake. Being a sufferer of colour-blindness, I had boarded the wrong bus that was supposed to take me out of town. There were a handful of passengers, the number I would expect on a bus on a rainy Tuesday. Rain turned into storm as the bus trudged along. I nodded comprehendingly. The rains in this part of the country were known to be violent. Soon enough the rain was so strong that it was pounding against the metal body of the bus, and had turned the view outside the window to a mere fog of grey. I jumped as a thunderclap rang out, my hands clutching the bus route guide tightly, for it was the only indicator for me now. I had no hope of identifying where I was based on the view outside; I could only mentally count, over and over, the number of stops I must take to reach my destination. I soon reached the stop number on my bus guide, and rang the bell. I remember the faces of some of the other passengers as they turned toward me – incredulous expressions. The bus seemed to slow almost reluctantly, but it was only till I had stepped out of the bus and it had taken flight (indeed I did not remember it moving so quickly when I had been a passenger) that I realized I must have made a mistake somewhere and was utterly, completely lost. I had only a poncho and an umbrella to combat the rain, and the bus-stop itself was so run-down that it barely provided shelter, and so I had no choice but to seek an alternative retreat. The rain made it impossible for me to tell left from right, and so I stumbled like a drunkard, swept from one direction to another by the unrelenting wind. The wind took me to a house, which, judging by the sound around me, was very close to the ocean. I shielded my eyes and tried to glean its structure, but all I could see was only one fraction of what extended for possibly kilometres or even miles around. I walked up to the gate, sadly conscious of my bedraggled appearance, drenched from head to toe. Who would admit someone like me into their abode? I must have seemed either very suspicious or very pathetic. Nonetheless, desperation drove dignity out of me. I raised my voice and shook the gate, my yells competing with the howl of the wind. “Is anyone home?†Out of the corner of the eye, I thought I detected the flicker of a shadow.
  13. Pulse

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo PULSE The morning started like any other for Rose Walker. She woke up, feeling groggy and tired. It took a shower, two cups of coffee and a cigarette before she'd woken up enough to realise she was late for school. She pulled on a pair of plain black jeans and a white tank top, over which she wore a black leather jacket. She grabbed her bag, brushing her long red hair out of her pale-skinned face and slung a pair of headphones around her neck as she left the apartment. The walk to school was quiet, the rain kept most people indoors. She could hear the thrum of the downpour as a distant background noise next to the music blasting from her headphones. She walked in, and the first person she saw was the headmaster. He tapped his watch and shook his head at her, and she shrugged with a smile and quickly put on her aviator sunglasses. The corridors of the school were quiet, except for the sound of her boots clacking off the linoleum. Then at last, she turned into the classroom and silence fell over the entire room. "Good morning, Miss Walker!" The class called. "Mm, morning." She muttered back, falling into her chair and wiping the sleep from her eyes. "Okay, so, I want everyone to turn to page three hundred and ninety four, we're picking up from where we last left off, on the ancient history of the Romans..." After the morning classes were through, she'd perked up a little. The bell rang for lunch and she dismissed the class. She heard the doors of a dozen different classrooms down the hall opening, and suddenly there was a cacophony of noise. It was soon muted however, as the last student in her class left the room and she was alone at last. Rose let out a sigh and rubbed her temples, then she pulled out a key and unlocked her desk drawer. Inside there was a small cooler, she pulled out one of a dozen small Thermos just as the door to her classroom opened. "Hey!" A woman in her mid-thirties with long blonde hair stepped into the room, "Oh, another packed lunch, I see." "Yep." Rose replied, smiling politely at the blonde. Her name was Kate Jones. She was a maths teacher, and had an obsessive nature. Everything had to be 'just right'. Kate opened a small lunch box and pulled out a sandwich - cut diagonally, with the crusts cut off. It looked like some kind of Bologna with cheese. She had a packet of crisps - plain. She once explained she'd seen the factory where they apply flavours to crisps and it disgusted her, and a chocolate biscuit. Not any chocolate biscuit. It was a Royals chocolate biscuit. It had to be, or she wouldn't eat it. "Juice?" Rose asked, after taking a large gulp from her Thermos, offering the container to Kate who eyed it warily. "What is it?" Kate asked, trying to see the contents. "Beetroot." Rose replied, with a smile to show her bloody teeth, "Stains everything, but it's delicious." "Stains?" Kate parroted the word nervously, "Oh, no no." She shook her head. "Didn't think so," Rose replied, grinning. "Hows your class?" "It's alright." Kate lied. Rose could tell when Kate was lying. She could tell when anyone was lying. It was a gift. "That bad, huh?" She raised an eyebrow with a smile as she took another swig of her beetroot juice. "It's Shaun Meyer." Kate said the name with a hint of frustration in her voice. "Shaun again, huh?" Rose took another swig of juice and studied Kate through the tint of her sunglasses. This wasn't the first time she'd heard Shaun's name mentioned. There were a number of students in Kate's class that were struggling with maths. This wasn't uncommon. Rose had to admit, she wasn't a fan of maths either. However, sometimes students are just matched to the wrong teacher. She pondered this thought for a little while, trying to listen to the bare bones of Kate's afternoon gossip session, until the bell rang once again. Afternoon lessons. The rest of the day was uneventful. There was a fight outside school between two seniors, she had no idea what it had been over, but it was usually about a girl. She spent the rest of her last lesson reading a newspaper while the class watched an instructional video. Blessed relief! She was reading in silence, listening with one ear to the video, while the other was trained on her class. She could hear their whispers even at the very back of the class, despite the volume of the video. Then something caught her eye, and all her other senses became dull, as her eyes flew over the article. Rose whispered the article aloud, "Police are searching for a man in his mid-thirties, he is believed to have been witness to a stabbing that took place on the thirteenth of January." That was just two days ago, "The victim, a homeless woman known only by her friends as 'Doris' was found dead, her neck was covered in puncture wounds." Any colour that might have been on Rose's chalky skin, soon drained. "Officers present believed it was an animal attack, but one officer, Malcolm Kind, was quoted as saying, 'In twenty years, i've never seen anything like it. I don't know anything that leaves a bite like that'." Rose heard a whisper in the class and she looked up, pulling her sunglasses off she picked up a piece of chalk and held it between her thumb and middle finger, then casually flicked it across the class where it smacked the young man in the side of his head. He promptly faced the front once more. Slowly, hoping it was just a dream, Rose looked back at the article. Sure enough, it was still there. The article finished by saying that the victim had died of severe anaemia. "Shit..." There was a quiet gasp and for a moment Rose looked up in confusion, then realised it was because of her. "Alright, like you haven't heard that word before, eyes on the video, boys and girls." She growled, then leant back in her chair. So, there goes the neighbourhood, she thought. It seemed there was a dangerous beast on the prowl, and in a place as small as Willow Creek, it was only a matter of time before the entire town would be talking about the 'animal attack'. It was time to move on. That didn't really bother her, Rose was always moving from one place to another, but she'd grown accustomed to Willow Creek. Even if it was only a podunk Maine town surrounded by forest, she'd grown to love it. Now she was going to have to move again, and the thought left a bitter taste in her mouth. That story would bring them, and then it was game over. She'd pack up tonight, and be gone in the morning. If she stayed any later than that, she'd be putting herself in danger. Rose had to remind herself to act normal. Go through your day as usual, she told herself, work until sundown, pack up your things and get out. Before it was too late.
  14. Outcast

    [OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo] OUTCAST A man clad in black armour walked a white marble floor, the sound of his footsteps resonated through the grandiose corridors of Die'welden, the castle home of the ruler of all the lands of Avalon. He held the hilt of his sheathed longsword in one hand, and a rolled length of parchment in the other. When he finally reached the double doors at the end of the corridor, the two guards waiting upon either side opened the doors and stepped to one side, recognising the Captain of the guard immediately, Jacob Forrester. The corridor opened out into a cavernous main hall, pillars lining the main walkway to the throne which itself was adorned with a crimson carpet, beautiful tapestries hung upon the walls, and an enormous stained glass depiction of Matthew Arturo Villiard - the man known as 'The Immortal King' - made up most of the far wall, the rainbow-coloured light from which illuminated the man himself. "What news, Captain?" The King asked, his furrowed brow showed a wisdom that far exceeded his physical appearance, though that in itself was intimidating. The King was a man that appeared to be in his mid-40's, with a short brown beard and wild hair held in place by his crown. He had piercing dark brown eyes and was muscular like a seasoned blacksmith. When he stood, he cast a shadow that bathed Jacob in darkness. "My King, the news is not as you would have hoped." Jacob knelt before his King, but despite his courage, he feared the King's wrath before anything else. "The Northern lands are taken with plague, nothing grows there any more, and with winter approaching the farmers say they won't be able to provide any additional supplies. Also, there have been two cases of Blight, but as per your instructions, the afflicted were removed and burnt." "Damn this Blight..." The King paced in front of his throne, "... and two cases of it in the same month? It's on the rise." "I fear as much, Sire." Jacob nodded and then remained silent. "My people are starving because of that Blight, Captain. I cannot allow this to go on. The only reason those desert savages in the east haven't invaded is because I united the clans. I led our people against the Walkers in a hundred different campaigns and it is only the perceived strength of our nation that holds them at bay. This cannot be allowed to go on..." The King stopped pacing and faced the Captain, "Did you dispatch our soldiers?" "Yes, Sire." "And?" The King asked impatiently. "They've not returned, Sire. I fear they must have perished, from the elements, the Blight, or perhaps monsters..." "Enough!" The King growled, his fists trembling, "Put out a Royal Decree - Any hunter, capable of killing any monster, and bringing me it's head, will received one thousand gold coins. I want this Blight, and it's monstrosities, destroyed." The heavy beat of hooves crashed through the forest. Her horse heaved from exhaustion, she had ridden it too hard, for too long. But the ones chasing her were gaining ground. She couldn't let them catch her, no matter what. She heard the sound of an arrow whistling past her head, and the dull thud of the arrow striking a tree just ahead of her. "She's right there!!" One of them yelled. "Shoot her!" "Hya!" She whipped the reins of her steed and her horse redoubled his efforts, but he was tiring. She took a quick look over her shoulder and cursed as an arrow sliced through the heavy black hood of her cloak, missing her face by inches. Watching the road ahead, she saw her chance. There was a long rope bridge, if she could cross it, she could cut it and gain hours, if not days, on her pursuers. "One more push!" She asked of the horse, whipping the reins once more. Her voice was feminine, yet it sounded off. A little shrill, and croaky, as though she was speaking in a language her throat was unaccustomed to. As the horse's hooves met the wooden boards of the bridge, the dull thumping turned into a roaring clatter. She was almost a third of the way across the bridge, she glanced over the edge and saw a steep plummet into a river far below. Suddenly, she heard several more arrows slicing through the air. Several missed her, but one struck her horse in his hindquarters and he loosed a terrible scream as his legs buckled and she was thrown forwards across the bridge. "No!!" She yelled, tumbling forwards and whirling around in an instant, but she was too late. The horse fell over the side of the bridge and disappeared into the inky blackness below. She couldn't outrun them now, she had to stand her ground. Looking over her shoulder, she could see the end of the bridge in the distance, but she was too far away to jump, and she'd never make it if she tried to run. She pulled a long, lethal-looking dagger from a sheath on her lower back and raised it, ready to defend herself. Moments later, three men on horseback exploded out of the forest and charged down the bridge towards her. The first man raised his bow, nocked an arrow and let it fly. She heard the arrow screaming towards her, she readied herself, and at the last possible moment she plucked it from the air. The rider gasped in surprise, opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say anything, she flipped the arrow around so she was holding it between her thumb and forefinger and fired it like a dart. The arrow screamed back towards the rider, struck him in the elbow, and took the lower half of his arm clean off. The man howled with pain and fell from his horse. "Demon!!" One of the two riders yelled, and drew his blade. "Hardly." She replied, in her croaking voice. Then dived to one side as the rider tried to cleave her in two upon passing her, as she dove she sliced through the legs of the horse and both horse and rider plummeted towards the river below. "That's fine, more for me..." The rider grinned, dismounting and pulling a longsword from it's sheath. "Who sent you?!" She screeched. "By royal request!!" The man jeered, "There's a bounty on anything non-human, and i'd say you about fit the description, even if you do talk." "This one did not wish to harm your comrades, nor did she wish harm upon you." She replied. "Well that's too bad," He raised his blade, "Because I need the coin, so i'll take my chances." "As you wish." She screeched, and charged. Her dagger clashed against the man's blade, and to her surprise he was a competent fighter. Yet she was the more skilled of the two. She pushed him back, her footwork as well as her blade skills had both finesse and strength, yet she was unable to predict the man's next move. Their blades clashed once more, and suddenly the man pushed himself into her, locking their blades together. Then he yanked a dagger from his boot and plunged it into her thigh. Loosing a terrible screech of pain, the man clutched his ears in discomfort as she stumbled backwards. Unable to hold onto her blade, she dropped it and tried to grab hold of the rope bridge, but failed and fell over the side. She felt the rush of the wind around her, but then cried out in pain as her arm was grabbed at the last moment. Swinging over the side of the bridge, she looked up to see her attacker had managed to catch her. "You're not going anywhere!" He yelled, "I need your head!!" He started to pull her up, and she quickly looked below her, to the river. "This one is no hairless ape's trophy!" She yanked the dagger from her thigh, screaming in pain as she plunged it into the man's arm. He reflexively let go of her, and she plummeted into the darkness. She hit the water at speed, pain flushed her body, but she was alive. She turned to try and orient herself, but the water was moving so fast, then suddenly as she surfaced, her head collided with a rock, and then darkness. "Mummy! Mummy, look!!" She opened her eyes, but the light was so bright it was blinding her. She held her hand out over her face and realised she was on her back, looking up at the sun. It was only then that she realised that her clothes were soaking wet, she was drifting on the edge of a river bank. "Mummy!!" The girl's voice was insistent, pleading. She groaned, remember the pain in her leg. She opened the tear in her pants just enough to see the dark green blood trickling from her yellow-gold chitinous skin. She needed time to heal, but she couldn't stay here. It was only a matter of time before she was found once more. She tried to stand but her head felt fuzzy, and as she pulled herself up, she fell forwards and collapsed once more. "Mummy!!" "For goodness sake, Claire, what?" The mother of the young child wandered over from hanging her laundry and saw the body of the young woman. "Oh my Gods, Claire, get away from that... it could spread the Blight!" She ushered her child away but as they were about to leave, she groaned. The mother stopped in her tracks and turned back to look at the stranger. "Oh... Gods protect me, go on back home now, and get sheets and clean water ready." As her daughter rushed off - though not after looking back longingly at the stranger one last time - the mother approached the half-drowned woman. "Hello? Are you hurt bad...?" She knelt down beside her, and pushed on her shoulder to turn her onto her back, "Gods!!" She jumped in fear and surprise upon seeing the young woman's face. It was monstrous. She had hard, cool skin. From the corners of her lips, her jaw seemed segmented. Her eyes were nothing but black, and her teeth were sharp and serrated. She was, in every aspect, a monster. And yet, kneeling over her, she was not as afraid of her as she'd once thought. Lifting the strange woman to her feet, she helped carry her back to her home. She'd have to keep her secret from the other townsfolk, but with enough time her wounds would heal, and then she could be on her way. No harm, no foul. Perhaps it was even a sign from the Gods? While she carried the stranger, she mused on this, unaware that she was being watched.
  15. STAR WARS

    STAR WARS 306 ABY The Galactic Senate has brought about an age of great peaceand prosperity that has lasted for decades.However, unknown to the Senate, the winds of change are coming. The Jedi, a once proud order of guardians tasked withprotecting the galaxy have long-since fallen into obscurity.A new Empire has risen from the ashes of the old,guided by a shadowy force unseen in decades. Meanwhile, a young Mirialan smuggler named Dax Arandel,Captain of the Jade Centurion, carries an illegal cargoin the form of a group of refugees fleeing from the Empire.Unbeknownst to Dax, however, amongst the refugeeshides one of the last remaining Jedi Knights, Riff Suthra. Together, they may be the last hope for the scattered remnants of the rebel alliance... Dax Arandel pulled herself out of the pilot's chair of the Jade Centurion and glared at the shadow drifting over her cockpit. The star-filled inky blackness of space was normally a comforting sight. But as the stars vanished before her crimson eyes, one by one, she swallowed nervously. It was a ship. But no ordinary ship. This was an Imperial Destroyer. It made the Jade look like an bug in comparison. Dax was a Mirialan, a green-skinned race of humanoids, she had the customary geometric black tattoos on her face. A thick black line ran horizontally just beneath her eyes, across her nose. A thick mane of black hair ran over her shoulders and she wore a ragtag mixture of plain clothes with a short dark brown leather jacket over the top. A laser pistol was strapped to a holster on her leg. She looked like she could take care of herself, but right now she wasn't so sure. Smuggling refugees paid well, but crossing the Empire was a bad idea. It was a risk she was willing to take, but as the shadow cast the cockpit in darkness, she wondered if she'd bit off more than she could chew. As Dax left, she heard a voice on the comm. "Unidentified vessel, prepare for inspection, power down engines and ready for boarding. Any resistance will be met with lethal force." "Charming." Dax muttered to herself, she opened the cockpit door and walked down the metal gantry, "I've got a bad feeling about this." She added, as she turned the corner into the central chamber. A dozen or so people, from an assortment of races, turned to look at her. They looked nervous. "An Imperial Destroyer is sending a boarding party--" Before she could finish her sentence the questions and shrieks and panic spread through the group, she tried to calm them but quickly grew irritated, "Hey!!" She snapped, trying to quiet them, "You can hide below the gantry, they shouldn't find you there, you just need to be quiet. They'll be here any minute." Dark eyes peered out from under a dusty, tan robe. The man had tanned skin, and dark, thick hair. He lifted the hood of the robe from his face and revealed long, dark dreadlocks tied back in a ponytail. Despite the news, he did not look fearful, nor did he make any noise of alarm. Instead he just stared at Dax, assessing her. After a moment he stood up, gathering his satchel of possessions, and walked forwards. "Lead the way, Captain." He said, his voice low and gruff. His tone was neutral, with no hint of inflection, and yet just the sound of it seemed to settle the scared people. For a moment, she was taken aback. This man was unlike any of the others. To be honest, he was a little unnerving. She couldn't quite put her finger on why. She nodded to the man, and led the group down a corridor towards the rear of the ship. She pressed a concealed button on a panel along the wall of the ship, and the gantry ahead of her slid back to reveal a large crawl space. "You'll have to go in there, and be quiet. The Empire scans for heat and noise. Heat I can neutralise, down there at least. Noise is another matter, you have to stay quiet or we'll all end up in a cell." She watched as they disappeared down into the hole until only the peculiar robed man remained. As he passed her, she got a good look at his face, and she realised what made her uncomfortable about him. He was unafraid. Hell, even she wasn't stupid enough not to be afraid of the Empire, never mind an Imperial Destroyer. But here was a refugee without fear. Why flee from something you're not afraid of? Dax was unable to explore this thought, as the sound of the hatch opening at the far wall made her quickly reach for the concealed button once more. She watched as the gantry closed over the robed man and seconds later a cloud of coolant vented into the ship and a wave of stormtroopers marched inside. Their laser rifles raised, several of them split out and began to search the ship. Three of them immediately gravitated towards her, their rifles aimed at her head. She slowly raised her hands to show cooperation, and one of them reached forwards and pulled her holstered pistol out and held onto it. Now she was surrounded, and disarmed, and smuggling a cargo that would likely get her executed. The troopers made no signs of nervousness or agitation, they were trained, they were in control. From out of the coolant stepped a stormtrooper, her armour identical to the rest but emblazoned with the sigil of a black bird on her chest. Her helmet looked like it had been damaged, but as she came closer, Dax realised what it was. She had taken a knife to the side of her helmet, there were several dozen cuts gouged into the armour. Dax had an idea what that meant. "What's your name, girl?" The female trooper demanded, looking her over."Dax Arandel." She replied. The trooper pulled out a small info pad and started scanning, "Multiple arrests, 6 years time served in the Bay. Maximum security prison. Petty theft, smuggling..." The trooper began to read out a list of her offences, but she became distracted by the final figure to enter her ship. The man stepped onto the gantry of the Jade as though he had all the time in the world, as if he was surveying a field of wild flowers on a warm summer day. He was clothed in black, with a long black cloak and hood. He wore a mask that obscured his features completely. It looked like a single piece of polished black glass, and she could see nothing in it's reflection. It seemed darker than space. But it was his demeanour that unnerved her the most. He took his time with everything, he was not invasive or demanding. She couldn't even call him threatening, yet he was all the same. "Anything of interest, Captain?" The man asked. The mask muffled his deep voice, but his tone of mild curiosity still came through. He slowly crossed his arms behind his back and strolled down the corridor, inspecting the panels of the ship."No, Lord Baal. Petty infractions, this one's a smuggler. We're searching the ship now." "I see." Baal replied. Dax watched the man, she couldn't tell where he was looking but when his head turned enough to indicate he was looking away. Then he turned and she realised he was looking directly at her. "Mirialan." He stated. "Yeah, and?" Dax muttered. That was about as much venom she dared to spit."Your people are a spiritual lot, are you not?" He asked, his head inclining to one side as though he was contemplating something, "Unusual then, that you isolate yourself to the vast emptiness of space, when you are so much a social species." "I was brought up on ships like these. This is my home." Baal stood in silent reflection for a moment, then without taking his gaze off her, called over his shoulder, "Captain Grell?" He asked, "Have you checked for crawl spaces? Perhaps the gantry? Some smugglers use such places to stow illegal cargo.""I'm not doing anything wrong." Dax replied, clenching her fists. "I believe you." Baal replied, his tone indifferent. A shiver ran up her spine and Dax found herself almost wanting to cry. She couldn't explain the sensation, but she felt like a darkness was closing in on her, and she started to feel claustrophobic. A feeling she had never experienced in her life."Check the gantry!" Captain Grell ordered a pair of troopers. They saluted her and the pair marched down and started checking each of the spaces. Dax waited in silence, she tried to keep her gaze on Baal. But she wanted to look anywhere but the void of his mask. Eventually she couldn't help herself, her eyes darted in the direction of the refugees. If only for an instant."Captain?" Baal called again, and nodded in the same direction. The Captain gave the order and Baal faced Dax once more and waited patiently, as the two troopers changed direction and headed towards the other gantry there was a quiet metal clank. The two troopers froze and looked at one another, then surged forwards and began searching. After a moment, one of the troopers called back. "Got something here." He pressed the button to the secret crawl space. As the passage in to the crawl space opened with a hiss, the trooper went to descend, but the robed man rose to meet him, holding his hand out, making a simple sweeping gesture. "There is no reason to come down here." He said in a calm tone. "The noise was just the ventilation pipes. Move along." His words seemed to resonate with the trooper, and he stood silent for a moment. Then he closed the hatch as the robed man disappeared back in to the crawl space. The trooper turned back to his colleague as he ambled back down the gantry. "There's nothing down there. Probably just the pipes. We should move along." For a moment, Baal broke his gaze on Dax and inclined his head behind him. He had sensed something. Something aboard the ship. He looked at Dax and considered her for a long while, then took a step closer. Dax retreated a step. He continued forwards until she was pressed against the wall and he leant towards her. "Do you know what I am?" He asked. The two troopers walked up to Captain Grell, explained there was nothing in the crawl space, and rejoined the rest of their unit. "The ship is empty, Lord Baal." The Captain informed him. Baal remained silent. Dax was confused as to why the troopers hadn't found the refugees, but she tried not to show it on her face. Baal's question had also thrown her for a loop. What was he? She wasn't sure she wanted to say, but she had a good idea. She'd heard they had all but died out. Yet here was one stood right in front of her. She could sense there was something different about him, that separated him from the others. "You're a Jedi." Dax stated. Baal remained motionless for a few seconds and then pulled back from her, "Tell your men to pack up, Captain. Return her weapon. We're leaving." Baal whirled around and started down the gantry. "But, my Lord, we've only just begun to--" Baal lifted his hand and clenched his fist, one of the troopers he passed stopped what they were doing. His neck snapped in an unusual direction and he crumpled to the floor. He died in an instant. "That was not a request, Captain. Be thankful you are more useful to me alive." The troopers quickly filed out, not wanting to disobey Baal's order, Grell followed in silence, stepping over the body of the dead trooper. Baal stepped into the hatch and looked back at Dax one last time. "I sense the Force is strong in you, Dax Arandel." Baal paused, taking a long breath, "You feel it's pull." He was silent for a long while, Dax was unsure what to do with herself but stand there, with her arms still raised in surrender, "We will meet again. I will make sure of that." Then he closed the hatch behind him and Dax felt her knees give way. Collapsing to the ground, Dax let out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding. She clutched her head in her hands and shook in silence. She could hear the ship-to-ship transport detach from the Jade, and return to the Imperial Destroyer. How had she gotten away with that? Whenever she'd encountered an Imperial Destroyer there was only two outcomes. If you ran, you might escape, or you were destroyed. If you surrendered, you were usually arrested and found guilty of something. She wasn't sure what had happened, and she kept replaying the scene in her head, over and over. Yet here she was. Alive, untouched, free. Was Lord Baal really a Jedi? One of the ancient order of guardians. She found that more difficult to believe by the minute. She'd not heard stories of Jedi since she was a child, and even then they were more myth than reality. Besides, what was a Jedi doing with the Empire? She supposed it made sense though. If the Jedi believed in order, and that was all the Empire preached, maybe it was one and the same? She didn't like their kind of 'order' though. Eventually, Dax pulled herself to her feet and opened the hatch. "They're gone now, you can come out." "Nicely handled." Said the robed figure as he pulled himself out of the crawl space. "For a moment there I thought we were in some hot water." "Nicely handled?" Dax repeated, "Listen, pal..." She pointed at him accusingly and then looked back at the hatch as the rest of the refugees pulled themselves up out of the crawl space, "Right... I saw him look right down there. I saw that trooper look right into that crawl space and then tell that kill-counting officer there was nobody there. What in the heck is going on here?!" "Are you sure you really want to know?" He replied. "You're a sharp woman, but you clearly don't want the trouble. Let's just pretend those trooper helmets don't have very good vision." "Dammit..." Dax growled and marched back towards the cockpit and threw herself down into the chair. "I'm taking us into hyperspace, don't need to stay around here any longer than we have to." She started the ignition sequence. "No arguments here." The man said with a nod. "My name's Riff Suthra, by the way." Dax looked over her shoulder at Riff, judging him with a critical eye, before taking them into hyperspace. The stars stretched out before them and in a matter of seconds, a large blue moon loomed before them, scarred with the orange light of a sprawling mega city that seemed to cover most of the planet. Nar Shaddaa. Also known as the Smuggler's Moon. Where else was she going to take them? Dax smiled to herself, set the ship to auto pilot down to the surface and whirled around in her chair to face Riff. "What's your deal?" She asked, "You're not afraid of that Baal character, you're not afraid in general. If I hadn't picked that sorry lot up on a dozen different worlds i'd think you were their leader. There's something strange about you, but I don't know why..." "Fear..." Riff replied, musing on the word, staring out towards the moon that drew ever closer. "Fear is always present. Some choose to suppress it. I chose to master it." He spoke as if he was trying to convince himself, more than anyone else. Then he focused his attention back towards Dax. "Baal... I do not know the man. Yet he seems like the type of person whose attention you do not want to attract. Yet you have gotten his." "No kidding." Dax muttered, rubbing her temples, "Listen, i'm going to drop you all off at the spaceport, you're gonna pay me the rest of what you owe me, and once i've stocked up on supplies i'm leaving this system." She shook her head, "For good." "And where will you go?" Riff asked. "There is no part of the Galaxy that the Empire cannot reach." Dax blinked. Somehow, in that one response, Riff had shut her down. She blinked again, and then slowly shook her head until she reassured herself into speaking, "I'm leaving. I've avoided the Empire in the past, I can do it again. I can hide, if I have to." "From the Empire, perhaps." Riff nodded. "You're crafty enough, there's no doubt. But from Baal?" Riff swayed his head from side to side, gently. "He can sense The Force in you, and you cannot hide it. Should he desire to, in time, he will find you." "I don't believe in space magic." Dax muttered, strapping her blaster back onto her leg. "And that would matter if there was no such thing." Riff replied. "But you know that is not the case. Deep down, perhaps. You knew what Baal was... what I am." He paused for a moment, reconsidering what he was saying. "I apologize. It really is no business of mine. But The Force does not care what you believe. And without the training of a Jedi, you can do nothing to stop it." Her breathing quickened, Dax looked at Riff, studying him. "... you're a Jedi...?" She frowned, "Then Baal?" "Something else." Riff replied simply. "It doesn't surprise me that you have never met a Jedi before, but I assure you it is not as traumatic as what Baal put you through. Intentional, of course. Baal wants you to be afraid. Then he has you just where he wants you." "Why does he want me to be afraid?" Dax asked, "And if he's not a Jedi, then what is he? Because he feels different, like you." "Because fear leads you to him." Riff explained. "It leads you to the dark side. If you let it rule you, at least. Baal... he is an old enemy, one thought long gone. Yet no matter how many times they fall, more rise in time. Sith." He said the last word as if it were profanity. "Sith?" Dax repeated the word in confusion. "I don't understand. Why is he your enemy? What has he done to you? I've heard the tales of Jedi and Sith, half the things people say I sometimes think are pure fantasy, but... I heard many years ago the Jedi started a military coup when they decided that the leader of the Galactic Republic wasn't fit to lead, even though they were supposed to be peacekeepers. Before that, they committed genocide in the Sith Holocaust." Dax shifted uncomfortably in her chair, "I admit, Riff... I like you a lot more than Baal, but Jedi and Sith seem awfully similar to me." "I don't have time to explain our history." Riff said. "The Jedi Order is long gone, and I am not what you would call a poster boy of the Order. Jedi are taught at a young age, far younger than you. I'm not trying to convince you that we're a great people, the few of us that are left, anyway. I'm just trying to make sure you do not become Sith. A sensitive like yourself, with no training, no control. The dark side comes easy to such people." Riff sighed heavily and folded his arms. "Just...tread lightly, for your own sake." "I'm not joining any side but mine." Dax pointed her finger at Riff, "I don't trust him, and I don't trust you." Dax scowled at Riff, "Sometimes i'm able to see things before they happen. Sometimes I get a feeling for a person i've just met. I think you're a good person, Riff, but..." Dax trailed off as the computer beeped and a voice chimed. "Final descent to Nar Shaddaa." "... i've got a ship to pilot." Dax muttered, and turned back to take the controls, leading the ship down to the planet's surface. It had been an eventful day, but 'any landing you can walk away from' she thought to herself. The clouds sped past her as they came within sight of the spaceport. Suddenly a voice barked out over the comm. "Unidentified vessel you are bid welcome to Nar Shaddaa! Now land before our cannons blast you out of the sky, you are welcome guests to the illustrious Veshka the Hutt. You will be escorted to her presence and dine at her table. Resistance will be met--" "--with lethal force." Dax banged her console in anger, "Don't people got any other way of saying 'hi'?!" "--additionally, Veshka is aware you are smuggling precious cargo. His name is Riff, bring him with you, that is not a request." The comm fell silent and Dax turned to look at Riff with an accusatory glare. "You're a piece of work..." Dax growled, "Mind telling me why the de facto leader of an entire planet of thieves and smugglers knows who you are, and that you're on. My. SHIP?!" Dax paused, breathing heavily, her cheeks clenched tight. "Has to be a bug, or a stowaway, or...." She muttered, as the ship came in to land.
  16. Crystalmoore Estate

    MASSIVE HUNT FAILS TO FIND TRACE OF CHILDREN The three Somerton children who disappeared in Emerald Vale Wednesday were still missing late last night despite a massive search. Police have established that probably the last time the children were seen and recognized by a member of the public was when a courier, known to them and their family, met them on Hillcrest Rd just outside of Emerald Vale, on Wednesday afternoon. He saw them “holding hands and laughing.†Their father, Mr. Beaumont, 40, said yesterday: “Somebody must be holding them against their will. They would otherwise have come home by now.†The clipping was at least three years old. The young girl placed it back in the single drawer of the cherry wood end table she’d woken up next to. She was fully dressed as if she’d just passed out on the bed to take a nap. The room was that of a child’s, the bed doned in pastel pink, with a frilly bed skirt, the mountain of pillows ranging from cute characters to lace and more frills; one entire wall was lined with shelves where dolls and stuffed animals sat; along another was a large window, curtained by sheer pink drapes; along with the end table there was also a writing desk and chair, a dresser, and an armoire all of them done in the same cherry wood. She rose and moved over to the armoire just to the side of it was a tall full length mirror, it was several feet taller than her but this ensured it showed her entire form. The person in the mirror was both familiar and alien to her, she tilted her head from side to side, examining her violet eyes as they seemed to glow in the dim candle light, her short curly blonde hair bounced easily from side to side with the slightest of movements, on the top of her head was a large pink bow holding back the more rebellious of her curls. Her dress cut off just below her knees, poofing out in a wide bell around her legs with layers of petticoats to keep it’s shape. The dress was mostly white, layered in more pink to match her bow, decorated with frills, lace, and pearls. With her white stockings and pristine white boots she looked like one of the porcelain dolls that belong on the self on the other wall. A rumble of thunder alarmed her to the weather outside and she was quickly drawn from her reflection bouncing over to the window. She reached for the ledge but her fingers touched a smooth, flat surface. Confused she took her attention from outside to the rim of the window, it was completely flat, she couldn’t even make out any seams for where the window would have been placed into the wall, it was almost as if it was painted on and yet she could see the rain pelting the glass, the trees several stories below billowing with the wind the storm brought. The window was obviously there, she just couldn’t see how it was done. Another rumble and a flash of lightning made her stare out longingly at the scene below, she knew this place, though she couldn’t remember her own name, or parents, or how she got here. This was Crystalmoore Estate, out the window she could see several other structures done in dark gray with white molding, the trimming was extravagant with swooping arches and twisted filigree, as was the norm for a Victorian mansion. Beyond the Estate was nothing but forests for as far as she could see, that, she glanced back at the end table, that was Emerald Vale. As she headed towards the door she reached up to her neck where a small chain hung, she worried the pendant between her thumb and forefinger. Just as she reached the door she realized her habitual habit and looked at the pendant in her fingers, it was in the shape of an ‘A,’ for her name… Abby… Abigale. After a moment of remembrance at her own name she returned to her destination, reaching for the handle and pulling the door open only to be met with a pitch black hallway. A wave of discomfort made her rethink her plan, closing the door and pressing her back to it only for her eyes to fall on the candle still glowing in the dim room, it barely looked like it’d been lit an hour ago. She moved over to the writing desk and picked up the tray it sat on and resuming her original plan. Even with her candle she hesitated at the opened door, biting her lip, it was still quite dark. With a trembling sigh she pushed herself out the door, from the hall the room suddenly seemed to be the creepier of the two options as it was now lit only by the flickering light from outside, another rumble of thunder startled her and she slammed the door by accident. The hall was barely illuminated a few feet beyond her candle as if the darkness was more than just a lack of light but a solid shadow that fought with her flickering flame. She huddled her candle close to her chest and started walking, her boots making the slightest clack on the wooden floor. Each piece of decoration was another torment in the dark, the pictures of elegant ladies and gentlemen looked like monsters until the candle illuminated them, the soft flapping of tapestries against the walls sounded like the padding footsteps of a stranger coming upon her. The light was playing with her eyes, the drafty halls tormenting her mind. She chewed on her lip, debating each step, but she kept on, there was someone else here she wanted to find, she just couldn’t remember who for some reason.
  17. Hush

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo. HUSH The bedroom was dark, no sunlight reached it's featureless walls or plain wooden flooring. A body stirred in the sheets, disturbed by the sound of the television at the other end of the room. The reporter was stood in front of a group of high-rise flats. In the background, police swarmed to cordon off the area and gain control of the crowd. Something had attracted their attention, dozens of the crowd had phones trained at something on the ground, obscured by the body of the reporter. "The security minister, Nori Masahiko, spoke in office today to assure citizens that this is an isolated incident." She was smiling, but her eyes were serious. As she spoke, the camera cut to footage of the minister addressing press. Minister Nori seemed confident and decisive, but questions levelled at him seemed to frustrate. "We've dispatched a Handler to deal with this, it won't be long before we get results, I assure you." He banged his fist off the podium to punctuate his resolve. "Minister!" Shouts began, at first an indistinguishable noise, but one voice managed to find a foot hold, "Minister! Do you deny that these killings seem to fit the pattern of the Butcher of Zone 06?!" As the man asked, a floating camera rushed towards the minister's face and it's lens focused. The minister's face tensed and he shook his head, "Albeit the presentation of the crimes are similar--" "--the bodies are torn apart and scattered across a large area?" One of the press clarified, making Minister Nori cringe. "--though similar..." He continued, "We do not believe that it's the same person." "But it's a Bakemono, surely?!" A woman yelled, holding her palm facing her, a small hologram of a pad hovering above it, taking notes automatically. "The involvement of a Bakemono is all but confirmed," The minister nodded, "No human being is capable of this level of brutality." "Off." A voice in the room growled. The television turned off with a click and as the room lit up, it seemed to shift. It was no longer grey and drab, as the lights shone down on the room, it had turned into a traditional Japanese home, complete with screen doors, tatami mat flooring and all the bells and whistles. "Gooood morning, Nagai-sama!" A chirpy voice rang, as it's owner, a holographic woman with the body proportions of a chibi cartoon and dressed in a French maid's uniform floated across the room and patted the bed covers, "Wakey wakey! Breakfast is ready! It's a brand new day!" "Get lost, would ya." Nagai growled, pulling the covers around him. "It's time to get up, Nagai-sama! Your boss, Masao Ko, sent you a message," The little holographic woman paused, clearing her throat for effect, then when she spoke, it was his boss. A recorded message. "Nagai! Get up! You're back on duty, i've rescinded your suspension given recent events, and you have a new Handler. His name's Tanaka Tatsuma, he's an experienced Handler, so go ahead and try something, any excuse to activate your collar and throw away the chip." The message ended and the hologram's chirpy voice returned. "So wake up, Nagai-sama!!" Nagai grabbed his pillow and threw it across the room, it whipped through the air like a brick but passed harmlessly through the hologram and hit the far wall with a thump. "Fine!" He barked, and kicked his covers off and sat up in bed, yawning. Nagai was a man in his mid-to-late twenties. He was very thin, average height but he was quite striking. His skin was unblemished by sun, he had long black hair, tied into a ponytail at the back, loose down to his chin at the front, and shaved across most of the left side of his head. He had piercings along his ears, on his lip and left eyebrow. But most striking about him was his eyes. Apart from his iris which was a vivid red, his eyes were entirely black. Sclera, pupil and all. He was naked save for a thin band of black metal fit snugly around his neck, like a collar. Once he was up and about, showered and dressed in a pair of black jeans and a plain white tank top that showed his arms covered in tattoos from shoulder to finger tips, he sat down to his dining table and stared at the food on his plate. It looked like a breakfast roll. Egg, bacon, sausage, onions. "Hey, uh..." He examined it, sniffing the contents thoughtfully. "Boss says you can have something else when you come upstairs, okay?" Nagai shook his head and sighed, then grabbed the breakfast roll and consumed it ravenously. Once he was done, he stood up, grabbed a short black leather jacket and pulled it on and then walked out the front door, "Later!" He called, and as the door hissed shut behind him, the room he had been in vanished back into grey as the hologram unit displaying the traditional Japanese home deactivated. Nagai walked straight out onto the ground floor of the Special Enforcement and Tracking Services (Better known as the S.E.T.S.) building. The branch of the government that deals in the identification, assessment, holding and if need be, termination of Bakemono. As a broad definition, Bakemono are creatures that have a wide variety of races and classifications, but in essence it is a term that identifies anything as 'not human'. The news often says they live in an enlightened time. A time of unprecedented medical, scientific and technological advances. But there is one thing that humankind does not acknowledge, and that is it's second-class citizens. Discrimination is alive and well in this 'enlightened age', only for most, skin colour, gender, age, sexual orientation - these things are of little concern. Bakemono literally means 'monster', and that is what humans have always referred to as anything non-human. Most people would identify Nagai as a Bakemono by his eyes. He was a rarity, but his race was one of the most feared. Humans called them 'Ghouls'. "Mornin', Ayumi!" Nagai called to the woman behind the reception desk. She was a beautiful young woman with a curvaceous figure and long dark hair. She saw Nagai and scowled at him, "What?!" He frowned and then grinned at her with wide, predatory eyes and she shook her head and went back to addressing the man in front of her. Nagai's grin widened and he stood on the escalator that brought him up to the second floor. The building was busy on most days, but today it seemed like utter chaos. The news story he'd half-heard while waking up seemed to have everyone in a mad rush. Was it really that serious? Seemed like any other killer to him. What was the big deal? "It killed the Mayor's daughter!" Masao Ko yelled at him, "That's why!! Just tore her apart and left her there." "Huh..." Nagai frowned, scratching his chin. "Don't 'huh' me, Nagai, you piece o' shit, give me something more than 'huh' or--" "--alright, alright!" Nagai waved his hand at his boss and walked to the far wall where holographic monitors displayed the images of the body, "Looks like a lot..." He muttered, licking his lips thoughtfully. Masao ground his teeth impatiently, "So, who's this Handler then?" "He's your senior, he's your superior, he's your Handler. That's all you need to know. What about the images?!" "Looks like her body is intact, in a manner of speaking." Nagai looked back at Masao with a grin, "But, some of her organs are missing. Unless they're pulp, I don't see a heart, or lungs, or liver." He noted, pointing at certain areas of the images. "Which means, either they took the organs, or--" "--they ate them." Masao Ko and Nagai both turned at the sound of this new voice. Nagai saw a man in his late thirties, with short scruffy dark hair and a dishevelled appearance. He didn't look like a SETS agent, never mind a Handler. He looked the man up and down and then shrugged his shoulders and looked back at the screen, ignoring him. "They could have taken the organs for any reason, I don't see any signs of feeding in these pictures. Maybe we should see the body first hand, hm?" Nagai looked back at Masao with an expectant smile. His boss snarled but then looked to the Handler, which led Nagai's eyes back to him as well. "How 'bout it... partner?" Nagai said the last word mockingly and smiled.
  18. The first rays of dawn spread across The Seer. The sound of waves crashing against her, day and night, never quite faded to the back of the mind, but the inexperienced crew found themselves getting used to it. Most were asleep below deck, leaving only a few to see to the ship's operation: the navigator squinted through the morning sun, a few riggers sat dozing while they awaited orders, and Corine Selwyn climbed to the crow's nest. She leaned against the guard rail and wiped a calloused hand against her brow. The chill of morning did little to cool her from the night's work. It had been her duty to board up leaks, check the integrity of the sails, direct the riggers, make sure the riggers didn't fall, and continually write reports that crewmen lacked the knowledge to write themselves. Still, she smiled as she looked to the horizon; the journey would soon be over, and then the real job would begin. She decided to give the ship one quick, final look over before getting some sleep. She closed her eyes, knelt down and placed both hands palm-down on the boards of the crow's nest. Starting with the bow and working back, she felt with her mind for any areas in need of repair. From her perspective, the world was hazy, colors lacked definition, and she could feel each creaking board and wave against the hull. Finding nothing out of place from her last inspection, she stood and opened her eyes. For a moment, she thought she imagined it. She blinked and held up a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. There was no mistaking what she saw in the distance; they must have been further ahead of schedule than she thought. A grin crossed her face. “Land ho!†she shouted.
  19. CLOSED Lucky Number 8

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Kyo, rated NC-17. LUCKY NUMBER 8 The full moon looked down upon the city of Tokyo, though most of it's cream-coloured light could not reach the depths of the city. Instead, bright lamps illuminated the streets, and brilliant neon signs seemed to adorn every available shop front. Tonight was like any other night. A night of endless possibilities. Bars and nightclubs were in full swing now, the bouncers refused those who didn't dress or look the part. Drunk businessmen, relieved at the end of their working week, half-stumbled their way down the flight of stairs into the Tokyo underground. Tokyo was truly a city that never slept. Thousands upon thousands walked the streets at any one time, whether going to work, coming back from it or just moving through the city. A young woman in her mid-20's moved with the crowd as the lights turned from green to red and the cars came to a stop. Her long, wavy golden hair bobbed as she walked. Her skin was pale and her eyes an unusual golden amber, her lips were a brilliant red. She was attractive and voluptuous, but at the same time she was relatively short, and looked as though she could stand to eat a little more. She was dressed in black trousers, a white blouse and practical black boots. Over her blouse she wore a long dark brown coat with rigid shoulders and an upturned collar. She moved quickly through the crowd without issue, smiling at anyone who glanced at her, as many did. Her face was warm and welcoming, and she had a wide, toothy grin - though her eyes looked a little too intense for her soft face. She crossed the street and looked up at the building she had arrived at. A skyscraper that stretched as far as the eye could see. She glanced up at the crisp, clean windows above her and then walked in. The moment she stepped inside, she could feel the change in temperature. It was a little chilly out right now, but the building's interior was slightly above room temperature. She walked up to the reception counter and waited patiently while the dark-haired receptionist finished the call he was on and hung up. "Evening Miss, how may I help you?" The man smiled at her, and she mimicked him. "Evening!" She replied, energetically, "I'm Hayashi Hitomi, your boss was expecting me." The receptionist looked her over a second time, unsure. Hitomi chuckled, putting her hand to her lips, "Oh i'm sorry, here--" She reached up and undid the top button of her blouse and pulled it down, just above her left breast was a dark red tattoo of a snake consuming a sword - blade first. "A-ah!" The receptionist averted his eyes and bowed before picking up the phone in front of him. "She's here." He said, and watched as Hitomi strode past him towards the elevator and pressed the button with a sigh. She absent-mindedly tapped the pockets of her coat until she found what she was looking for and pulled it out as the doors opened. She pulled a stick of gum from it's wrapper and stuffed it into her mouth, blowing a bubble as the doors closed in front of her. The 65th floor. Doors chimed as they slid open and she stepped out. The room she entered was quite unlike the reception below. This room was dark, lit only with a single, simple lamp upon a long, well-varnished table. Every seat at the table had been taken, and so when Hitomi strolled into the room and glanced at those present, she laughed. "Isn't anyone going to offer a girl a seat?" She asked. Those at the table remained silent. "Alright." She added, grinning. She took the gum from her mouth and licked her lips, savouring the cherry flavour before squishing the gum under the table in front of her, much to the grimaces of the older men and women present. "You were brought here for a reason." A man in his 50's with a short, grey goatee spoke up. "Show some respect, Miss Hayashi." "Oooh?" Hitomi's eyes expanded in surprise, "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to mark your table, i'm so stupid, let me just--" "Enough!!" The man barked, "The table can be cleaned, but do not presume to entertain us with your theatrics." Suddenly, Hitomi's expression changed. The smile washed from her face, and her intense eyes grew stern and calculating. She scanned the table and focused her attention on the old man, and smiled. But this time, it held no warmth. "Fine." Her voice was colder now, holding none of the charm or energy it once had. "I was busy, so what do you want, old man?" The board member snarled at her and quick as a flash, Hitomi opened her mouth and her teeth were all thick, long fangs. She snarled back at the man, her eyes wild and bloodthirsty. The sound of clapping distracted her and she closed her mouth and coughed delicately and when her smile returned, her teeth appeared human once again. "That's enough." A man at the far end of the table stood up, "I didn't bring an Orochi here to antagonise my board members." The man was in his early 30's and had black, slicked-back hair. His suit was a dark blue and looked particularly expensive. He carried an air of authority about him. "Hayashi Hitomi, this is not a conversation. The higher-ups have given me an order to relay to you as they were unable to contact you directly," The man paused until he was sure Hitomi was listening, "You are to make contact with a human called Dr. Ikitsuki Munenori and--" "-- I know that name." Hitomi replied instantly, her face was cool but her eyes were excited, "You want me to eat him?" "No. Nothing like that." The director replied, "You have a new assignment. You are to work alongside the Doctor, to ascertain a reason for the recent murders of our kind." "Shit happens." Hitomi muttered. "Yes, 'shit' most certainly does happen. But this isn't over territory or sport, these are serial killings and usually we find some kind of evidence left behind, but so far there's been nothing. Frankly, the murders have started to spill over into the human news. They're already calling the murderer the 'Crimson Mist'," The director let out a hollow laugh, "Because most of the body is spread across the surroundings of the crime scene, like a big balloon just popped." Hitomi grinned at the thought and then turned and walked away, entering the elevator once more. The doors closed and she started her way back down. One of the board members turned to their director and asked, "Why do the higher-ups want one of those things - and her of all of them - doing their dirty work?!" The director shook his head, "She's a wild card... I heard she once took her team into a hopeless situation, claiming it would be a success. She walked out alone with the prize in-hand. The only one to walk out. She's a weapon is all, they want to point her in the right direction and pull the trigger." He shook his head. The walk to Ikitsuki Munenori's apartment hadn't taken long. He seemed to live in a pleasant enough part of the city. She walked through the foyer and took the elevator up to the 16th floor. Walking past row after row of doors, she came to one labelled 'Ikitsuki' and stopped. Hitomi glanced left and right, but the hall was quiet. She looked down at the door and twisted the handle. Locked. "Humans..." Hitomi sneered, grabbed the handle and pushed. The door creaked and simultaneously the lock snapped and the door swung in. She stepped inside and looked around. Though the lights were off, she could see quite clearly in the darkness. His apartment was average to large, it was organised, almost so much so that it felt clinical. It was minimalist as well, and seemed to hold little of personal value. Hitomi strolled through the room, glancing at various objects until she fell upon a small cabinet and opened it without hesitation. Inside, there was a small selection of bottles. Several of them were clear crystal. Hitomi picked one up and inspected the amber liquid inside and grinned, then pulled the crystal stopper and sniffed, "Mmm..." She brought the bottle up to her lips and heard a noise. Hitomi turned to look towards the door, as it was pushed slowly open and a man stood in the doorway with a confused expression on his face. Placing the stopper back in the bottle and putting it down, Hitomi turned to face the man. "Oh, evening, Sir!" Hitomi's smile reappeared on her face and she became energetic once again. "I'm sorry to barge in, but I saw your door was broken, and I thought maybe someone inside was in trouble. Is this your home?" She asked, smiling as she bowed politely.
  20. NC-17 Taken

    Taken (Continued) Crystal strained herself to sit up straight and glanced at her body, realizing only now that she’d fallen asleep in full battle armor. For the first time since the war had begun, Crystal smiled and even laughed just a little at how absurd they looked. “I guess you’re right. Maybe we should take a shower…â€Crystal paused, unsure of what Storm would think of that suggestion. He didn’t like water, even if it was her water. She’d also thought before that moment that she would be comfortable with it. After losing Storm though, she knew that he was the only one for her. She didn’t want to leave his side for even a moment right now either. She couldn’t help but feel a tightness in her chest at the thought that he was almost lost forever though, and it was only with deep breaths and self-control that she managed to hold back more tears.
  21. Lionel hit the ground running. Above him, lightning arced across the night sky, causing the air to crackle with energy in the aftermath of the spell. Lionel cursed, ducking into another abandoned alleyway as he heard the sounds of heavy footsteps across the brick rooftops behind him. Lightning magic was a very efficient way to kill someone - fast, lethal and nearly undodgeable. So far, he had gotten off from the fact that the man had terrible aiming, especially under the cover of darkness, but he doubted that fate would be so kind to him for much longer. Since when has fate been kind to you? Nala'hedriel scoffed. He discarded the staff he'd been carrying around - his disguise had been blown anyway. Peeking out of his corner, Lionel took a moment to make sure that the road was clear before dashing out once again, heading towards one of the many safehouses he had arranged in this town... But once again he felt a familiar tingling sensation across his skin, allowing him to narrowly avoid the bolt of lightning that shot past his right elbow. His hunter stood behind him as he spun around, fingers extended out in a handgun-esque gesture as a grin extended from his grizzled face. "Checkmate, Zero." The spell-hunter fired another bolt of lightning. Darkness leapt from the shadows around Lionel, throwing themselves in front of him, attracted by the sudden burst of magical energy. The lightning bolt hit the wall of darkness squarely in the middle, striking with all the force needed to smash straight through a concrete wall - and vanished in a burst of blue light. The shadows fell away, revealing Lionel's grim expression as he stared back at his assailant. "Yes, checkmate," he replied. "For you." Lionel crossed the distance between them in an instant, but the spell-hunter was skilled. He drew his sword, swinging it with swift, expert strikes directed at Lionel's neck. He must have been some sort of fencing master, Lionel decided, barely moving out of the way each time the sword came darting forwards, while the spell-hunter moved back, maintaining arms-length distance between them. Lunge, step, slash, step. It was all like a carefully choreographed dance between the two of them, but the uncertainty soon began to show on the spell-hunter's face. Obviously, he wasn't used to having his prey put up so much resistance at close range. It's the superspeed, Nala'hedriel drawled. It always gets them, every time. His defense faltered for a split second, but it was enough. Lionel sent a punch into his gut, causing him to flinch and recoil backwards. He grabbed the man's sword arm and gave it a sharp twist; the weapon fell to the ground after a cry of pain. A punch to the face, a strike in the chest, and the man was sent reeling onto the ground. Three ribs broken, Lionel noted. He'll have difficulty breathing. He bent down, grabbing the spell-hunter by his collar as he lifted the man up face to face. "Who sent you?" Lionel snarled. "How do you know the name Zero?" The spell-hunter laughed, a hearty laugh that caused him to cough up a bubble of blood. "Your past haunts you, homunculus. You will never be free of it." Something shifted within the man as he continued laughing, his head lolling back at the sky. Lionel threw him onto the ground by reflex, shadows flying to his arms... But no magical assault came. The man continued his hysterical laughter as his flesh began to melt away, sizzling under the influence of his own spell until there was nothing left of the man except his skeleton. And the sinister black pendant that lay inside. The Circle of Dead. Lionel Descartes woke up with a gasp. Dancing with Death A private RP between TriOctium and Ice. Cold sweat rolled down Lionel's forehead as he pushed himself out of bed, groaning. A bowl of water with a towel had been prepared on the table, and he gratefully used it to wipe his face as last night's dream continued to play over and over in his head. Dreams are a privilege, he reminded himself, remembering the days when he had spent each night in utter silence, his body resting yet not fully asleep. Even so, being haunted by events that happened months ago was nothing to scoff about, and it took Lionel a few moments to calm his nerves down. What's the matter, chuckles? Nala'hedriel asked. Had a bad night? "Nothing for you to be concerned about," he muttered in response. For all their mind-reading abilities, Lionel had learned early on that T'Skarin were notably unable to share dreams with their hosts. It was one of the many strange things about his 'symbiotic' relationship with Nala'hedriel, the T'Skarin Prince of Shadows. Judging by the sunlight, it was time for him to set off. He threw on a cloak and his pair of sandals, grabbed his cane lying by the bedside and left the room for breakfast. The Dancing Sword Inn was a quiet place in the mornings, a sharp contrast with the noisy scene it had been last night. One of the tables was still lying on the floor in the far corner, broken glass all around it. Lionel ignored that scene, taking his seat near the bar instead as Zoraida came out with a hunk of bread and a flagon of wine. "You don' look too well, son," the middle-aged barmaid commented. "You feelin' alright?" "I'm alright. Thanks for asking." Lionel took a large bite out of the bread, then winced at the stale taste. "Well, if you say so." Zoraida took a look around the mostly empty inn before leaning closer to his ear. "Did you hear? The Baron's been killed. In his own castle, too!" Lionel choked slightly on his beer, putting down the flagon slowly. "Last night?" Zoraida nodded with a serious expression on her face. "There's been a big hassle in the morning. Mageknights coming here from the capital an' everything. I was quite surprised when you didn't wake up from all the ruckus!" Lionel's stomach turned. He hadn't had many good experiences with mageknights, the so-called defenders of the common folk. But a Baron being assassinated... that was big news. And perhaps too much of a coincidence. Satisfied that she had shared the news, Zoraida glided back into the kitchen, leaving Lionel alone with his thoughts. ... A small crowd had already gathered before the Baron's castle, though none dared to attempt to push past the line of mageknights that had been formed around the main entrance. Their efforts were mostly futile; at this distance there was absolutely nothing to look at, except perhaps the castle's wonderfully kept garden of flowers. Lionel made his way around the boundary, passing by several more mageknights stationed along the west wall before he reached a more secluded spot. The only reason why no guards were positioned here was because a humongous wall, towering nearly three metres in height, blocked the way into the castle. Lionel knelt down, feeling around at the base of the wall. Within seconds he located the alarm spell that would have triggered should anyone actually succeed in vaulting over the wall, and sent the tiniest bit of his own shadow into the magic circuitry as it fizzled and died out. Not enough to cancel the spell permanently, but enough to stop it for a minute or two. Stepping back, he took a deep breath before performing a running jump - soaring just high enough to land feet-first on top of the wall. And with that, he was in. His landing was softened by the grass underfoot, and he quickly moved into one of the side doors as he made his way deeper into the castle. Voices echoed across the empty hallways, its premises having been vacated because of its owner's death. Lionel moved past a large dining hall, ducking out just in time as a clanking mageknight in white armor marched past, then slipping behind him and continuing towards the Baron's bedroom. He'd only been here once before, through the same way. But the layout of the castle was easy to remember, and Lionel found himself tracing the same steps he had made all those weeks ago. Just as he got into one of the waiting rooms, he felt cold steel press against his neck. "Don't move, Lionel." The voice was very familiar. Lionel put up his hands in surrender, allowing himself to be pushed against the wall and turned around to face the newcomer: a messy-haired Inquisitor with a sharp nose and a blade in each hand. "Fancy meeting you here, Jarrod," Lionel greeted with a nervous laugh. "I knew they were going to put an Inquisitor on the case. But I didn't expect them to send you." Jarrod didn't have the optimistic smile Lionel remembered from five years ago. His face looked grizzled, more hardened by recent events. "You shouldn't have come here, Lionel. I was hoping it wasn't you... but you being here is only going to implicate you in matters further." Lionel raised an eyebrow. "Are you suggesting that I was the one who killed the Baron?" Jarrod didn't answer, simply staring straight at him for a moment. Then, with a great sigh, he lowered his sword from his neck, sheathing it slowly. "No, you don't have any reason to go around killing Barons. At least, not that I've discovered," the Inquisitor explained, slowly pacing around the room. "But that still isn't enough to stop you from being my prime suspect." "Why? Why am I the prime suspect?" "Because the assassin canceled the Baron's magic."
  22. Meet me at Atatakai Onsen. The words glowed on the tiny screen of Daisuke's D-Terminal. He flipped the lid shut for the third time and put the device back into pocket. Slumping back on the couch, he let out a soft sigh, his right leg jack-hammering the floor from nerves. The television was on, but only provided a low indistinguishable buzz in the empty apartment. Sighing again, Daisuke took the D-Terminal out of his pocket and popped it open. From: Ken Ichijouji It'd been nine years since the day the two worlds united. All the first chosen children had graduated college, and the second chosen were soon to finish as well. Daisuke opted out of college, feeling that the "hands on" approach to life would benefit him more. It always had. His best friend Ken--of course--was top of his class at Tokyo University, excelling at being a criminal catcher detective or whatever. They still made time for each other, trying to see each other every other weekend. Though, truthfully, it was harder the past few months with some of Ken's major exams coming up. He didn't like to admit that he missed that stoic bastard as much as he did. Daisuke set his device down on the couch next to him. It was weird, though. It wasn't the act of receiving the text, but the subject of it. They'd never been to an onsen together before--they've never even talked about them before. Daisuke could think of so many better things to do than to sit naked in a bath of hot skin juice. But maybe it wasn't the lost time that was bothering him as much as it was the whole "being naked" thing... "Dai," Chibimon cheeped as he jumped onto Daisuke's twitching leg. "What's wrong?" Besides Ken, Chibimon was Daisuke's best friend. A blue digimon that stood about one foot tall had a heart about three times the size. And unfortunately, an incredibly keen sense of emotional distress. "Nothing, man. Well, I mean, it's something, but you wouldn't understand." "I'll try not to take offense to that." Chibimon huffed. "Good. Don't." They both sat in the living room for several minutes with only the sound of their own breathing and the mumble of the news from the television. Abruptly, Daisuke stood up, causing Chibimon to fling to the floor with a small protest, and paced a couple of times in front of the couch. Finally, he picked up the D-Terminal and navigated to Ken's message again. He quickly typed, "See you at 8" and shoved the device into his pocket for the final time. Shooting a quick glance at the clock, he groaned as he realized he only gave himself a half hour, and thus, no time to clean himself up properly. Running his thumb and index finger across his scruffy chin, he sighed and rushed off to his bedroom. "Dai~!" Chibimon scrambled after his partner. "Where are we going?" "To the Digital World. Make sure to pack your swimsuit." "But I don't--" With two fluid motions, Daisuke grabbed Chibimon in one arm, his backpack in another, and the two began to digitize into the alternate reality.
  23. CLOSED Gods Among Us

    It was meant to be a lazy day. Lana had planned to make this one Sunday in Spring a very relaxing and easy day. She had no work from anyone and was happy about it. Rather than her usual 8:00 A.M. wake up call, Lana slept in until 10:00. Instead of a rushed morning to get her schedule together and make sure everything was laid out, she moved form her bedroom to the kitchen, fixed a bowl of cereal, the to the living room where she clicked on the TV. Clad in her Pajamas and curled up on the couch, she began her day just the way she wanted. No responsibility and no worries. Around eleven Lana finally crawled from the comfort of her plaid couch and shuffled to the bathroom. Stripping down, she hopped in the shower and let the water run over her bare skin. Onto her neck, cascading down her breasts and back, and rushing down her legs to meet the bottom of the shower the water went. She shampoo and conditioned her hair, then washed her body, getting all the places one might miss while not paying attention. After that, she just let the water wash over her until she could feel her hands getting too prune'y for her liking. Lana turned the water off and the silence that followed was ever soothing. After grabbing a towel and drying her hair and body as best she could, Lana wrapped it around her to cover her body then waltzed lazily to her closet where her outfits awaited use from day to day. Rather than something suited for a party or maybe business affairs, Lana chose a pair of khaki shorts that stopped just short of the knees, and a V-neck colored red with the words I'm not lazy, I simply enjoy doing nothing printed across the front. Next came socks and shoes, which had clearly been worn down from use. "All right! I'm finally gunna enjoy a nice Spring day with no destination for once," she stated aloud, daring anyone to object. Double checking everything was turned off and her door was locked, Lana left her apartment with a spring in her step and a body of vigor. She went off down the street of the city and, without destination, walked endlessly under the warmth of the sun that burned in the cloudless sky. Everything was going much better than she'd thought on her day off. No one had even dialed her cell to ask her to come for work or even to just hangout. It was a lovely day up until noon of course. Lana had stepped into one of the largest shopping centers in the city of Konell for lunch. It was one of those multistory shopping malls that have way more shops that any one other place. Standing in line to order Chinese food, the whole of the building shook as an explosion rocked through it. With the food courts on and upper floor and being full of people, it was the perfect target for an attack. Masked groups rushed, a motley bunch of people, and with the aid of Celestians they took control of the building. Those who tried to escape were captured and thrown back into being hostages, and any who stood to fight were met with vicious assault by the various beasts that aided the enemy. Lana's day went from being perfect to a tragedy in a matter of minutes. After the chaos of the explosion and attacks subsided it was obvious who held control, and they wasted no time either. "Listen here. You are all hostages now. Don't talk, don't cry, don't shout. Just shut the fuck up and do whatever we command. If you try to escape we'll catch you and make and example of your body. If you try to attack us we'll kill you. Simple as that. Now just sit tight and hope your military is willing to cooperate," the man who seemed to have the most authority stated. Lana noted that, while most of them had Celestians at their beck and call, the enemy also held automatic rifles and likely explosives based on their display from before. Why did my day have to turn out like this. Even if I wanted to save everyone it'd be a hassle to get through so many of them. Damn all you bastards! While thinking to herself, sirens from far below could be heard as the first appearance of help was made. Lana sighed heavily and chose to sit tight for time being. If push comes to shove she could at least escape herself. That much wasn't a grand feat, but maybe the military would be able to play it out smoother than she could alone. Next time I have a day off I'm just staying in and ordering take out she told herself while leaning against the wall they'd been pushed against for easy holding.
  24. "And remember to cut your hair by next week, Raiha-kun," Akira concluded, just as the bell signalling the end of homeroom sounded. "To repeat myself, those of you who are good at drawing can consider joining the Art Club. We will start our activities after school today." From within his briefcase, he produced a bunch of flyers with pictures of famous artists photoshopped together, with the caption 'ARTISTS UNITE!!! JOIN THE ART CLUB TODAY!!!' emblazoned on the top as well as several details on how to locate the Art Room at the bottom. Only those who could see Demons or the supernatural would also notice the luminescent blue words, scrawled across the middle as though it had been drawn with a finger. "Demon Hunters Wanted." "Class dismissed." Akira gave the students a quick bow as they stood up in unison and did likewise, bursting into chatter as he retrieved his briefcase and headed out of the room. Locating the various noticeboards positioned all across the school, he put up more of those flyers on each of them. Being a relief teacher, he didn't have many lessons to take charge of, and had quite a lot of free time, in fact. Enough to give Mitsuba a quick search, in fact. Loosening his tie, Akira headed out of the school gates. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hellmouths are huge, often cavernous tears in the fabric of reality, linking our mortal realm with that of the demonic world. Being located in between realms, even power users and practitioners of magic cannot normally see it. They can, however, locate certain hotspots around the Hellmouth where the fabric of reality is particularly weak, with the proper detection spells and know-how. These hotspots are normally located in areas less populated by humans, as they give out a sense of dread and fear that even ordinary mortals can feel; the sense of something watching you, giving you goosebumps and causing your hair to stand on end. This was one such hotspot. A lone man stumbled into the dusty room, clutching his head as though he was in terrible pain. "The pain... take it away! I can't take it anymore! Please! KILL ME!!" He collapsed onto the hard stone floor, as a dark shadow loomed over his fallen figure. "Please..." he could still be heard mumbling. "I don't want to give in to the voices..." The robed figure crouched down, running a hand through the man's hair. "Hush now. Everything will be alright. Soon, it will all be over." As he stroked the man's hair, it seemed to get longer and bushier. In fact, the man's entire body seemed to be sprouting hair as it metamorphosed into a more lupine shape, and soon his mumblings became low-pitched and incoherent, the words merging into rumbling growls. Within minutes, there was no trace of the man any longer, only a wolf that lay obediently at the feet of the robed figure. "You will be rewarded for your obedience," said the figure. The wolf slowly stood up, shaking its fur as it glanced up into the eyes of the figure. "Go now. There is work to be done." Wordlessly, the wolf turned and bounded out of the room, headed for the destination that had been imprinted into its head. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was already late afternoon when Akira arrived back in the compound of Mitsuba No. 1 High School, and students were already streaming towards their various club locations or heading out the school gates. He quickly headed up to room 02-11, where a sign labelled 'Art Room' could be seen on the front door. Below that, the same luminescent blue words 'Demon Hunters Wanted' had been painted over the door. He smiled, entered the room, and took a seat, waiting for the first student to arrive.
  25. CLOSED Darkness Falls

    OOC: Private RP between myself and Erogenous Enigma, rated NC-17 for violence, gore and dark themes, etc. DARKNESS FALLS "Fairy tales do not tell children that monsters exist. Children already know that monsters exist. Fairy tales tell children that monsters can be killed." Galatris, capital city of Lunaria. Named for the holy divine, Galatea. It is a trade hub, home to the royal family, to Queen Theresa, known for it's art and music as well as it's night life. But crime is also rife here, pickpockets are everywhere and most murders go unsolved. The police are fighting a losing war against crime on the streets of Galatris. For every crime they solve, five more pop up in it's place. It is like a living monster, a hydra. Unfortunately, real monsters are out of their skill range, for that, a Wolf is required... The train lurched as it pulled into the station, groaning in discomfort while the doors of the compartments opened and hundreds flocked out onto the platform. Many of them stayed close to the train, looking it over and talking about it. The people of Galatris were still unused to travelling by railroad between the major cities. It was a very recent feat of technology, and while not an unwelcome one - for the sights of the countryside could be quite beautiful on the ride over - it still created a feeling of disquiet and unease amongst the passengers. Save for one man. He stepped from the train with purpose, dressed immaculately in fine clothing. Crisp black trousers and shining black boots, a pearl white shirt with a crimson vest and a black coat. He pulled a gold pocket watch from his vest coat pocket and clicked it open, cradling it carefully with hands covered by black gloves. After a moment's examination he clicked the watch shut and replaced it, watching the throngs of people move around him with a slight, lop-sided grin. The man was handsome enough, with slightly tan skin and hazel eyes. His dark brown hair was long yet a little unkempt, as though he had been sticking his head out a window on the train ride over, for which he tried to correct by brushing it back out of his face. He had a light stubble growing on his face, he had perhaps not shaved for a day or so. But in spite of his slightly dishevelled appearance, he looked every part a gentleman. Once he was happy with his appearance, he picked up his carry case which despite it's size, appeared to be quite light, and in his spare hand picked up a long black cane with an intricately carved metal handle shaped like the head of a wolf. Upon leaving the station, he could finally appreciate the moon and it's gentle light casting itself across the dark, dingy street. Occasionally a horse-drawn carriage passed him in the middle of the road, but most of the traffic for the evening had died down, after all, it was an unreasonable hour. He had a few things to attend to this evening, however, and time was of the essence, for he knew that if he was not swift, his target of interest would escape him yet again. He was patient, but he also did not want to play the cat to his mouse any longer, whether they knew it or not, he would soon be upon them. The city was just another stop for him, he was going to meet an informant who claimed to have ironclad evidence of his target's next location, so he hailed a passing carriage and started to climb aboard. "Oh, sorry sir. Wait one moment, i'll get your bag." The driver offered, immediately stepping down from his seat at the front. "It's fine, driver. I like to keep my belongings close by." The man smiled back at the driver who already had his hand on the handle of the case and tried lifting it from his customer's grip, but couldn't. He wasn't sure if it was the man himself, or the weight of the bag, but despite the strength he was exerting the case did not move. When his face began to turn pink in the cheeks, he finally relented and laughed, "By the divine, sir, you don't travel light, if you don't mind me sayin'." "Ordinarily, I would. This is not for me." He replied, stepping into the carriage as the driver shut the door behind him. The journey didn't take long, within a half hour the carriage rolled to a stop, he paid the driver and walked into an inn called the Fox and Hound. It had seen better days, but it was as good a place as any to meet his informant. When he arrived, he spoke to the owner who directed him upstairs. Third door on the right, he had said. And so he went upstairs, followed the owner's instructions and knocked three times on the door. He heard movement inside and listened intently. Footsteps quietly crossed the room, perhaps silently for anyone but himself. He heard breathing on the other side of the door and raised an eyebrow. He raised his cane and with a sharp tap, banged the metal head against the door. "Let me in, little pig!" He called, and heard a scuffle as the body inside recoiled and fumbled with the door handle. When the door swung open, he stepped inside and shut it behind him. The room was dark, lit only by a single candle on a table across the room. "Do you have everything I asked for?" He held up his large carry case and let it drop a couple inches above the ground. After the heavy thunk, a metallic sound rang out from the inside of the case. He watched as the figure in front of him stepped forwards to examine the case. He was a man in his early thirties, just as he himself appeared. The man took a single look over the case, glanced at him and then slightly opened it. What he saw inside delighted him and he hauled it off to one side, with a great degree of difficulty. "Alright." He said at last and crossed the room, indicating for him to follow. "Let me just get this straight, before we go any further, you're Alexander Lachance right?" "Right." Lex replied, smiling. "So, so this is all on the up and up right, I mean, i've never seen your face before, Mr. Lachance, but you're a Wolf and all, right? I mean, this ain't against the law or nothin' right?" He was nervous. The informant's heartbeat was racing, he could hear it, feel it. "It's alright." Lex said soothingly, "You have nothing to fear, just leave what I asked for by the table and be on your way." The informant nodded nervously and glanced at his face as he walked back towards the case, he noticed Alexander's hazel-coloured eyes, and thought for a moment, that in the right light, they seemed an amber hue. He picked up the case with both hands, and huffing as he left, said his goodbyes and wished Alexander well in his hunt, and closed the door to the room on his way out. For a moment, there was silence. Lex stretched and sighed, yawning - flashing an inhuman set of teeth. There were no flat molars, only wide, triangular fangs, almost like a shark's. His teeth instantly transformed the way he looked, and regardless of his serene expression, gave him a monstrous quality. Perhaps it was this that panicked the other occupant of the room, or perhaps he was just waking up for the first time since Lex had entered, either way, Lex walked over to the table and moved the candle to the edge before he sat on the free chair besides the restrained occupant of the other. "Evening." Lex half-bowed while sitting and the man in the chair groaned as his eyes looked around wildly. "Give me a moment, if you please." He added, and then picked up a small envelope on the table, tore it open with a single swipe of a fingernail which seemed more like a claw and then pulled out a short letter. The letter only held two lines, and read: Constance Geneve Drennen Hearthwood He was close now. Hearthwood was perhaps only a day's travel, and a lot less for him if he choose to make his own travel arrangements. And now, at least, he had a name to go with his target. She was travelling to Hearthwood then, just a small town. No doubt she'd gone there rather than come to Galatris because of the crowds and the stronger police presence so close to the royal palace. He would be upon her soon. Alexander was pulled from his thoughts by a nervous whimper from the restrained man in the chair beside him, so he laid the letter down on the table and turned his attention to this man. He was in his 40's, muscular and weather-worn. Perhaps a labourer. He had a mean face about him, piercing eyes and sallow cheeks. His mouth had been stuffed with a rag, which Alexander pulled free and smiled. "So, you're not having a very good evening, then." "Oh, you're very perceptive, ain't ye." The man growled, looking around the room for the first time and then back at Alexander. "What the FUCKING hell am I doing here? LET ME GO!!" The man yelled, and started to struggle to break his bonds, but they were too tight. "Well it seems my friend did a rather good job with those knots, what do you think - sailor?" He raised an eyebrow curiously as he examined them which only infuriated the man further. "I ain't done nothin', let me go!!" "Well that's funny," Lex replied, leaning on his cane. "Because my friend - the one who just left with that case full of gold? He tells me, that you are a rapist and a murderer." "He's a bloody liar!!" The man snapped. "Is he? Oh, alright then, I apologise." Lex stood up, leant forwards and sliced through the man's bonds. Quickly, the man was on his feet and stood as tall as Alexander himself, just over six foot. "It's a shame, really. You see, the last time I killed someone, they really deserved it and--" "You're a killer?" The man asked, frowning. "Oh, yes. Gratuitously." Alexander replied, in a mellifluous voice. "Oh..." The man fell silent, and the two stood before one another for a long while. Alexander knew that silence was better than questions, and so he allowed it to remain as such until at last the man choose to speak once again. "Hah, well..." He paused, eyeing Alexander, but something about him must have resonated with this man, as he nodded, "Alright, yeah, I killed her. Had my way with her too, when she was still 'bove ground, an' all. But she was askin' for it, she's a prostitute, it's just--" "-- she gets it all the time, why not right?" Alexander nodded. "EXACTLY!" The man agreed enthusiastically, "It's not like she gets paid much for it is it, so she must want it, stupid bitch was sayin' she didn't want it, but I know she did, they all did. She weren't the first, and she won't be the last neither." "Mmm," Lex mused, and smiled to the man. But this time, he parted his lips, and flashed the man his mouth full of fangs. "We're more alike than you might realise," The man recoiled so quickly, for a moment Lex thought he was trying to flee out of his own body. He tripped over the chair behind him and hit the floor, staring up at Alexander. "We're both monsters, I mean, myself literally, and you...? Figuratively, I suppose." "Leave me the fuck alone!!" The man squeeled and leapt up, pushing Alexander aside. He wasn't just running now, he was sprinting. He was just a couple more steps from the handle of the door when something brushed past him with an incredible speed and suddenly a hand darted out in front of him and grabbed him by the throat. "Well all monsters have to eat. You've had your fill, now i'll have mine." Lex threw the man across the room, he crashed into the table, snuffing the candle and it's warm orange glow, casting the room into darkness. A slight white-blue hue from the light of the moon cast across the floor, enough only to light the legs of the men inside that room. Alexander's predatory footsteps descended on the punch drunk rapist, who was attempting to pull himself to his feet. He had barely succeeded in this feat, when one of Alexander's gloves hit the floor and the rapist's feet were lifted two feet off the ground, suspended in the air as he choked. He tried to let out a scream, but the noise wouldn't leave his throat. Then he fell silent, his feet stopped shaking and Alexander released his grip on the man who collapsed to the ground, his face illuminated at last by the moon. The rapist had aged over fifty years! His skin was loose and wrinkled, his hair had turned a brilliant white and his eyes were sunken and nearly lifeless. He shook ever so slightly, with the rigours of old age suddenly upon him. Alexander picked up his glove, pulled it back on and placed his hand upon the head of his cane. "W-what... h-have you... d-done to m-me?!" He groaned, trying to stand back up. It took him almost a minute to do so, but when he was finally upright, Alexander pulled on the head of his cane, and the wolf's head came away. As the wolf's head left the cane, a long strip of metal went with it. For the cane was in fact a holster for a deadly looking sword. It shimmered in the moonlight and the rapist had time enough to question what had happened before the notion that his head had separated from his body reached his mind and his eyes rolled over as the head hit the ground with a wet thump, and the body collapsed beside it. Replacing the blade in his cane, Alexander left the inn. To Hearthwood.