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Welcome To The Jungle [OPEN Mini-RP]

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Welcome To The Jungle

A Mini-RP

Rules of Mini-RPs

  • No character sheets, no indication of interest required. If you like the story, just jump in with any character you wish.
  • There will be no OOC thread for this RP. All OOC chat will be enclosed in square boxes [like this] either before or after your IC post.
  • If your character dies, you may enter with another character at any time.
  • RP posts are limited to a maximum of 400 words for Graduates only. Students can write as long as they wish. This is to encourage shorter and more frequent posts!
  • For Students, posts below 300 words cannot be used as part of your Graduation attempt.
  • Post often and have fun!

The Story So Far

Contrary to popular belief, the world didn't come to an end at the end of 2012. In fact, that Mayan prophecy hadn't even predicted the end of the world to begin with; quite a few long-dead astronomers must have been spinning in their graves. However, what the prophecy had predicted was the end of an era and a transition to the next.

Well, that actually happened.

At first, the change was nearly imperceptible. Just a few isolated incidents of animals disappearing, inexplicable tremors, out-of-season weather and the like. However, as the portents increased in frequency and more and more strange things came crawling out of the woodwork, the truth began to emerge -- there was more than just a grain of truth to the tall tales of magic and monsters in mankind's collective memory. Magic and the supernatural were indubitably, sometimes terrifyingly real, something made all too clear when a botched assassination attempt revealed the newly-elected governor of California to be a dragon in disguise. Something had been keeping the influence of the supernatural from influencing human society, but it seems to have failed, giving supernatural beings -- now dubbed the Others -- free rein to enter the world.

The world's governments responded swiftly, leading to the establishment of the Thulsson Foundation, an international paramilitary organization dedicated to monitoring, and if need be, eliminating Others.

The year is now 2015. The Thulsson Foundation has recently started offering considerable rewards for subduing dangerous Others deemed a threat to humanity, with lethal force if need be.

Unbeknownst to the unsuspecting directors of the Foundation, most their new recruits are actually Others as well, and a good portion of the remainder are receiving help from them. Well, takes a crook to catch a crook, I guess.

Character Guidelines:

- The tech level's around that the present day, but the appearance of the Others has hastened development in many fields of technology, most notably the ones that help kill people better. Fancy sci-fi gizmos like bionics, energy weapons, artificial intelligence and giant self-aware death robots with energy weapons are starting to enter production in limited quantities.

- The Others are a catch-all term for any being with a connection to the supernatural – everything from human psychics and wizards to more inhuman creatures like vampires, were-creatures or other otherworldly beings are categorized as Others. Basically, just about anything goes when it comes to characters. Provided you aren't, like, the Corpse-God of All That Is Unholy Made Flesh or something blatantly story-breaking like that. For simplicity, Others based on mythology have most of the strengths and weaknesses associated in them in myth (e.g. Vampires lose their powers in sunlight). Others of non-human stock lived in an alternate magical world until 2012, when the force barring their return was removed.



_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The skyscraper that housed the regional headquarters of the Thulsson Foundation was a stark modern edifice of steel and glass, an environment that made Luke feel terribly ill at ease. He would have been far happier amidst the rolling hills and pastoral tranquillity of home, far from this ugly, chaotic, cacophonic jungle of soulless concrete, swarming commuters and cold iron; still, a job was a job. You couldn’t fill your stomach on warm, fuzzy nostalgia after all. He approached the door of the Director’s Office and knocked, and unbidden, the doors swung open on their own, beckoning him into the office.

“Good afternoon, Mr… O’Brien? Is that how I should address you?†A congenial-looking middle-aged man in an immaculate suit addressed him. Franz Stroheim, the regional director of the Thulsson Foundation, humanity’s best hope against the Others. Kinda shorter than I expected, though.

“Luke will do,†he said with a smile as he shook the man’s extended hand; it felt slightly cold to the touch. “Pleased to meet you.â€

“Have a seat. Let’s get down to business, shall we?†Franz said, gesturing at the chair placed before his desk. “There’s an Other I’d like you to kill. A vampire by the name of Anton Witiezslav. He’s a local crime kingpin, but the police can’t lay a hand on him even if they tried. He’s probably bled dry almost a hundred people by now.â€

“How refreshingly straightforward,†Luke replied. “Sounds like a tall order even for me. A hundred people, really?â€

“Which is why you won’t be doing it alone,†Franz said reassuringly, patting him on the shoulder. “A number of other… operators have expressed interest as well; my sources tell me they’re every bit as qualified as you are. They should be arriving at the reception hall downstairs around now.â€

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Gidget walked through the doors into the reception hall listed in the directions she received for her most recent task, whistling at the size of the single room. After a minute or two of gawking at the scenery around, and the people who came and went at various times, she approached the front desk and addressed a woman clad in typical receptionist attire. "Quite the building you've got here. So, is this, like, the place shown here?" Gidget asked holding out a piece of paper with details of location written on it.

 

"Indeed it is. I believe you should wait in the room through those doors there. Someone should be with you in a short while," the receptionist explained politely, noting the blade that was casually slung across her back.

 

"Thanks lady. Have a good day!" Gidget said before stepping off and entering another room to wait for her apparent employer.

 

Gidget was a gun for hire, so to speak. She took various hunting jobs as a sort of mercenary after the events in recent years. This time she received, not a call, but a letter at her own adress with certain details about a job. Not one to refuse, Gidget chose to accept the job and found herself in this rather busy area of the city, now standing idly in wait.

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He walked down the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets. His brown hair was being slightly ruffled from the warm breeze. He felt it as it went through his flannel black button up. The wind, mixed with the warmth of the sun beating comfortably down on him, made today a perfect day to be out and about doing things. For example, making his way to his newly offered job.

 

He'd received a call earlier this morning concerning a job that required his hunting abilities. A vampire, apparently living without hiding the fact of his existence. It's a dangerous game I play. But I need a job and, ironically, this one pays well and requires skills I have. He frowned as he continued with the curving sidewalk towards Thulsson Foundation HQ. But this time, I'm not doing the job alone. Apparently, the more well-known my name, the more people required to aid me in the job. A dangerous game indeed.

 

He finally pulled his hands out of his pockets as he entered the building, going directly to the reception hall as he had been told to do in the call. He glanced up at the one other in the room, his blue eyes moving directly to the weapon of the woman's choice. He cocked an eyebrow. Isn't this just a meeting? Why bring the weapon? Unless she has no permanent residence. That makes sense.

 

He gave a friendly smile and nod. "How do you do. I assume you're here for the job?" Well, at least I know what one looks like. Though I wasn't told how many would actually be in this group. I guess I'll just find out.

 

He didn't let his disturbed thoughts show on his friendly face as he went to take a seat, not next to Gidget. Let's see. If she's anything like me, she's been taking hunting jobs and moving up the ladder to here. So she's a skilled huntress. Has no permanent home. Other than that, I can't find anything else of interest. Having no more reason to study the girl, Colin reached into his right pocket to retrieve his phone. He propped one leg on top of the other and opened a game on his touch screen, idly playing it until something could grab his attention. 

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Ingkells Carpenter concluded the phone conversation with the same false cheer he had been maintaining ever since he picked up the receiver. “Don’t you worry about it. Your bat infestation problem is as good as gone.â€

 

On the extravagant bed nearby, an angel-faced young woman with hair as white as snow looked at him with a hint of disappointment and disapproval. “Is everything alright?†asked Priscilla.

 

“It’s Stroheim,†Ingkells answered, running a hand through his mane of unkempt dark hair, eyes swivelling toward the digital clock which displayed 22:54. “Fella got a new assignment for me, said it's Class-A.â€

 

“Oh,†she let out a sound, then without a trace of embarrassment, Priscilla slunk down away from the bed, pawing through the mess near the fire place, extracting her clothing from his. “A Vampire I presume, should be fine if we jump him together. You shock and I shatter.â€

 

Ingkells let out a rich laugh, then proceeded over to gently sweep his wife off her feet, one hand under her legs, one hand supporting her back. “I’m afraid you are going nowhere tonight, Mrs. Carpenter, not until your injuries have healed up completely.â€

 

She pouted cutely. “They ­are healed.â€

 

“Not if I could do that to you so easily,†he pointed out, pressing his forehead against hers. The next part he said quietly. “This could be one of those freaks from Toreador, not the half-assed Vampires we used to hunt for sport back in the Nevernever. Things could get ugly real fast.â€

 

“All the more reason why I should go with you,†she said, holding up a finger to prevent any further argument. “We fight as a team. You can be on the frontline, I will handle magic support and tracking from a distance. Your eyes aren’t nearly as good as mine even when I’m blindfolded in the dark, and the Vamp sure as hell won’t even contemplate the notion of fighting you under broad daylight.â€

 

Ingkells’ protest died out in his throat when he saw those gleaming, resolute eyes of hers. “Well, I guess…you have a good point there. Hmm. Hmmmm. Alright, we will do this together. On one condition though.â€

 

“Do share.â€

 

“The man did say I am to depart as soon as it is convenient for me,†Ingkells continued, bridal carrying Priscilla back to the bed once more. “But as you can see, I was in the middle of something.â€

 

A mischievous grin spread on her face. “Mmm, and what might that be?†she purred.

 

“I beg your pardon, for my grasp on English is still a tad shaky. How do you spell the first part of unisex again?â€

 

“Let's see, U-N-I-Sex?†she played along, her lithe frame quivering with laughter.

 

“Well, I won’t say no to that,†he replied with a smile before commanding the lamps in the room to fade to black with a single thought.

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The doors swung open, and Luke glided in, surprisingly light on his feet for someone bearing a slight physical resemblance to a certain Californian governor. He idly smoothed out a crease on his suit jacket as he glanced at the other occupants of the room, his hazel eyes narrowing as he noticed the sword strapped behind Gidget's back. I was told I'd be

meeting with the best, not a bunch of, for the lack of a better word, murderhobos. What's this girl thinking, bringing cold steel into the premises? Back home, people get killed for that kind of breach in hospitality... But I guess they really do things differently in the States.

Now wasn't the time to critique his ostensible allies' glaring lack of etiquette though. Perhaps their brusqueness was more than made up for by valor... And worst comes to worst, fellow operators made decent meat shields. He smiled, exposing a set of pearly white, perfectly aligned teeth, and proffered his hand out for a handshake. "Hello there, pleased to meet you. I'm Luke O'Brien, a...wetwork specialist. So tell me, what do you know about vampires?"

[O'Brien looks kind of like Dolph Lundgren, just because.]

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The tall, wooden set of doors swung open the moment Ingkells showed up in front of it, eliciting a whistling noise from him. “Mortals’ automagic never ceases to impress me,†he commented idly, taking a moment to remove his top hat and black overcoat before realizing there was no servant around to take them away.

 

Priscilla fell into step next to him, her white hair tied into a side fishtail braid. She had a scarf over her neck, white jacket over a blouse and slacks. “Quite a colorful gathering we have here,†she murmured. “Seems like our little Vamp has been overstepping his boundary by a large margin to get this kind of attention.â€

 

Ingkells nodded in affirmation, then pulled out a chair for his wife to sit down before claiming the one next to it for himself. His fellow operators didn’t seem much like a crowd made for chatter, except for one well-dressed brutish man who entered the room a bit later, immediately kickstarting the discussion by introducing himself as Luke O’Brien.

 

“Pleasure to be your acquaintance for the ride, Luke. I’m Ingkells Carpenter, venture capitalist and …demolition specialist, I reckon. This is my lovely wife, Priscilla Carpenter,†responded Ingkells.

 

Luke made a face. “Ingkells? …Seriously? Let me guess, a demon? Or perhaps an angel? Those are very particular about their true names. “

 

A grin blossomed on Ingkells’ expression. “Close, but no cigar, my friend. Angels bow to their God and demons worship The Devil. Me, I obey no one’s whim but my own."

 

"Huh, a dragon, then? It's like you're not even trying. Whatever, I'm sure you know the rules about violating American airspace and all that. So tell me, oh great one, how much do you know about Vampires?" his voice was sprinkled with a hint of contempt.

 

“An Elder Dragon, thank you very much. That bit is every ounce as important as the Doctor title so many mortals strive to put in front of their names. And to answer your question, plenty. It does depend on what kind we are dealing with though. Jiang Shi, Nightstalker, Strigoi, True Blood Vampire, Necrarch, etc..â€

 

The cheerful-looking girl with the bow in the corner of the room raised her hand. “Pardon me, but is there supposed to be a difference between these types?â€

 

Priscilla fielded the question. “They are after different bits of their prey, and usually the transformation plus the feeding grants them supernatural aspects. For example, a Necrach gets its magic from the souls of its victims. The more it kills and enslaves, the stronger it becomes, with no upper limit to its power. A strigoi, on the other hand, once it has fed on a dozen victims after its last Slumber, would have to be killed twelve times before the creature is brought down for good.â€

 

[ingkells' human form looks like Aragorn because that's basically the template for every fantasy protagonist, Priscilla looks like Arwen with white hair because hey, if you have to ship something, might as well follow canon.]

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Gidget seemed upset that this Elder Dragon by the name of Ingkells had interrupted her conversation before it even had the chance to begin. "How rude. He was speaking to me before you jumped on my own introduction. Shouldn't you know how to treat a lady by now?" she said, the over sized purple scarf flowing in tune to her huff.

 

She retracted to her own seat and let the scarf fall silent again, having been rejected by the most recent person and listened to him prattle on before adding her own two cents. "Also, depending on how they are personally, they will feed in different ways. Some will hunt only for food, some for power, and some simply binge eat. Of course, there are those who choose not to feed at all, but we aren't going to be dealing with someone of that nature obviously," she stated before finally pulling her oversize crescent blade from her back and leaning it against her chair, one hand on it at all times.

 

"Geez. You'd think a dragon would be more courteous of us Shifters," she murmured under her breath while flattening out her black skirt with a purple hem. 

 

(pardon the Shifters thing. She's a character I've just recently started on and I figured I'd develop her here. I might change that title at some point ^.^)

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The Elder Dragon blew out smoke from the corner of his mouth and smirked at the Shifter, serpentine eyes smouldering within their sockets.

 

"Courtesy? From One such as Myself? Don't tempt me to make a display of what I can do by looking at you and making an effort with my gaze, shifter. My true form would awe you, humble you and quite possibly destroy your mind along with the very earth upon which you stand. I am the eldest of my kind on this plane, and the strongest. Your life is no more than a flickering candle amidst the storm to me, and I were there when your species was nothing more than weretouched beasts feeding on scraps thrown away by the other lycanthropes. Consider yourself lucky I have deigned to notice your insolent remark and not punish you for it."

 

Priscilla placed a hand on her husband's, telling him to calm down. A wave of tranquil cold flooded through his senses, and just as sudden as it had come to him, Ingkells' killing intent vanished abruptly. "Sorry about that, Miss," offered Priscilla sincerely. "My husband didn't get much sleep last night and is currently in a somewhat irascible mood."

 

Luke raised an inquisitive eyebrow, then carried on the conversation as if there was nothing wrong with the world.

 

[Apologies for the cutting remark. I wasn't particularly sure who it was that Luke was talking to.]

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Luke almost laughed out loud. An Elder Dragon and a Shifter. Just announced their true identities. In the middle of the headquarters of an organization meant to... Wait for it, "contain and exterminate dangerous Others". Honestly, I'm a little surprised we haven't had like six dozen assault rifles jammed in our faces by now. And Smaug-lite here wouldn't dare act on his words here; having scales like tenfold shields was a big deal back in the Bronze Age, but humanity's learnt all too well that as firepower increases, the number of problems it can't eliminate approaches zero.

"Honestly, you lot squabble like children." Luke said calmly, waving a hand in a gesture of appeasement. "Back to business; our target is a Strigoi vampire, a mob boss known as Anton Witiezslav. He is a vampire of the classical mould, with powerful regenerative, shape shifting, mental manipulation and physical capabilities." Not one of the sparkly ones. Thankfully.

"His only major weaknesses are sunlight and fire. The others detailed in Stoker's novels were fabrications meant to lure people into a false sense of security -- and honestly, a stake to the heart kills plenty of non-vampires too -- and to a Vampire that's eaten almost a hundred souls, sunlight and fire are only going to slow him down, not kill him outright."

Luke clasped his hands in front of him. "Are there any questions?"

[Dammit SVL no spoilerino]

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Priscilla asked. "He's a mob boss, yes? What are the rules of engagement for his mortal lackeys?"

 

[Praise stealth edit]

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Luke raised an eyebrow. "It is probable that they have been enthralled or even turned by the vampire, so it is likely that using lethal force against them is probably inevitable. Don't underestimate them, however. Plenty of Others die thanks to perfectly ordinary bullets."

Luke tapped a few times on his phone, and a projector displayed a large birds-eye view of the city. "He's most likely safe in his base of operations, probably somewhere within the seedier parts of town. We should come up with a plan to take him down, preferably without burning down half the town." He raised an eyebrow at the self-admitted dragon.

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Linda watched the wyrm and the were-thing posturing with words, jockeying for the upper hand. I do hope they won’t come to blows right now, though. It would be such a waste of energy. Although, if one of them were to slay another…
 

She shivered involuntarily, sweet anticipation rising like the tide within her body. It’s been so long since I had a good meal.
 

The bracelet on her wrist beeped angrily, pulsing a red light as it picked up the flare in her power. A small price to be able to live in normal society, her limiter kept the more dangerous bits of her nature under control. No. Focus. We know roughly where the real prey is. As for his exact location...
 

She concentrated, sending out a Summons to the local corvids. Her power spread through the air like blood through a pond, except a lot faster, and in a matter of minutes she could sense the city’s crows and ravens congregating on the building in their thousands.
 

“Excuse me for a moment,†Linda said, getting up from her seat and slinging her bow over her back. “I’ll be right back.†Nobody said anything in reply as she left, heading for the entrance of the building.
 

The moment she stepped out of the doors, she saw the birds she’d called. They occupied every horizontal surface within a hundred feet in a silent sea of black feathers, and a thousand pairs of beady eyes fixed their attention on her.
 

Linda scanned the crowd, looking for dried blood – there. And there. That group near the back. Dismissing the rest of the birds, she stepped through the whirling maelstrom of wings to approach the witnesses. Her voice came out in the caw and croak of bird-tongue: 
 

"How is it, ye ravens—whence are ye come now / with beaks all gory, at break of morning? / Carrion-reek ye carry, and your claws are bloody. / Were ye near, at night-time, where ye knew of corpses?"

 

A little melodramatic, but the old ways are best.

 

“We’re crows, actually. Ma’am.†The oldest said, bowing its head. “Most of us, anyhow.â€

 

“Speak for yourself!†Another bird cried out from the back of the group. “Ravens represent!†A few ravens let out croaks of support.

 

“Look, while I’m sure this is very important to you, I just need to know if any of you have seen a Draugr. He leaves his victims corpse-pale, drained of their essence. Have you come across him, or his handiwork?â€

 

“Of course, ma’am.†The old crow replied. “A few of my boys saw him feeding last night. The humans never stood a chance, poor things. They followed him back to his lair, the old Chrysler building near the docks. Give me half an hour and I can have them meet you here.â€

 

Linda nodded. “Thank you. I’ll leave you a gift when the Draugr bothers me no longer.â€

 

“Have a care, death-maiden. He is old, powerful. His presence is a dark cloak that swallows the sun; his strength is that of ten men; his guards are too many to count. Um. No heavy weaponry as far as my boys could tell, though.â€

 

“None of that will be a problem,†she replied, patting her bow. “Trust me.â€

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Back inside the reception hall, Linda marched up to her allies. Without preamble, she said, “The old Chrysler building near the docks – that’s where the Draugr went after he was done feeding last night.â€

 

One of the operatives – O’Brien, if she remembered correctly – raised an eyebrow at her. “And how did you find out? Also, what skills do you have to offer?â€

 

“Call me Linda,†she replied. “I’ve got magic arrows that almost never miss. As for the source of my information, well…†she thought for a moment, then decided on the truth. “A little bird told me.â€

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Priscilla turned to look at Ingkells. “Does magic arrows that almost never miss ring any bell to you?†she murmured.

Ingkells frowned and tossed his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. “Hard to say, she could be a Kentauride, one of Artemis’s bow maidens or Epirus’ newest wielder. That man is much easier to place though. See how he’s wearing gloves indoor and is constantly keeping a lookout for the Shifter’s blade from the corner of his eye?â€

“I noticed,†affirmed Priscilla. “You think everyone else in this room are Others as well?â€

“Without a doubt, otherwise Stroheim wouldn’t have even bothered assembling us as a team. It’s a popular saying around these parts – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,†muttered Ingkells, his legs crossed and arms folded.

“It makes sense. Why send men and women to fight monsters when you can simply pit them against each other? Head, you lose; Tail, I win,†she elaborated. “So, you are going in full power?â€

“Who knows, I haven’t really made up my mind yet,†he answered back.

Ingkells thought about her question. On one hand, turning into his true form would produce a few dozen corpses where their problems used to be, with anything lacking access to a military-grade nuclear bunker being written off as collateral. But then where would the fun in that be? Fighting is most enjoyable when it is up-close and personal; anything other than that just feels like a cleanup chore.

“Linda, can we get a detailed description of the building?†asked Ingkells.

She nodded. “Its exterior is featureless, grey, and rectangular with a set of motorized doors at the front and a pair of exit doors on both sides. There are windows, but they seem to be mostly boarded up. I think there are a few security cameras positioned around the courtyard and within the building as well. A rough estimation of its size puts it at about as large as four to five granaries stacked next to each other in length. Multiple stories though, so lots of ground to cover.â€

Ingkells mulled the information over, drawing up a virtual map within his head. “Security?â€

“Armed personnel, semiautomatic and sidearm mostly. I can get you a patrol routine and their identities given enough time.â€

So much information within such a short span of time? Even Priscilla couldn’t scry out the Vamp with such efficiency. Fascinating.

Ingkells raised up a hand. “That won’t be necessary. My suggestion is that we hit them swift and hard during daytime.†He gestured with his finger, etching into thin air a drawing of the building made from coruscating light filled with arrows and circled spots.

“A pincer attack: one group will be assaulting from the front, creating as much chaos and confusion as possible, while another group sneaks in from the back and secures vantage points within the compound before we rendezvous and head straight for the Strigoi. The second group will also be in charge of eliminating any escapee and stopping our primary target from making a run for it. Any feedback? Yes Linda?â€

“Can I be in the assault team?†she asked with a sparkling glint in her eyes.

“But of course,†answered Ingkells. “I see Luke has some concerns as well?â€

“Regarding the second group, how are we going to deal with the cameras?" he raised. "They might have set up an overwatch monitoring the entire place. Unlikely we can get past one of those without knowing precisely where they are.â€

“They are electrical appliances, yes? Nothing a local electromagnetic pulse couldn’t handle,†stated Ingkells matter-of-factly.

“Uh huh, and where do you suggest we get an EMP device without setting off alarms all the way from here to Washington D.C.?â€

Ingkells smirked again, arcs of blue-white electricity running down his held up finger. “Well, you are looking at one.â€
 

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Luke looked at the dragon, who was currently in the midst of displaying his electromagnetic powers to the rest. What are you thinking? Your true nature is like your asshole. You can't go around waving it around for people to see.

Then, he glanced back at the map of the town, his eyes narrowing greatly when he realized exactly what he was looking at. Excuse me, but did you suggest setting off an electromagnetic pulse very close to the United Nations' headquarters? He simply sighed, raising his hand.

"Don't use that. We'll find another way past those cameras when we get there. Does anyone have any objections?"

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Colin watched everyone introducing themselves, almost struggling to hide the look of shock on his face as he heard each member openly telling their bloodlines. He glanced to each side of the room as the others spoke, making sure no one was within ear shot to hear this suicidal conversation. Fortunately, he saw no one. He rolled his eyes. If this is the group I am to be working with, we'll be dead before we even get to the vampire. One will most likely just call him up and let him know the entire plan. His hope for a good pay quickly demenished as he continued listening to the others. If the job fails, there's no money. And he could hardly see it succeeding. If anything, the others will be killed by those who work here before the job even began.

 

He hid a smile at that. Should he rat them out? They seem oblivious, so if he got a few workers here to come, these idiots would surely openly admit, again, what they are. Then be killed on the spot. That would leave the job open to only those who knew better than to admit themselves. Or those who were really normal humans. However, the workers would probably inspect the others of the group after hearing how many were dangerous Others. That would be bad for Colin, knowing he himself would not pass such an inspection. He sighed inwardly. So, if he tried taking them down, he'd inevitably go down with them.

 

Disappointed, he rose from his seat and pocketed his phone again. It seemed the others were discussing strategy now. He listened to the suggested pincer attack as he glanced at the map, thankful to see they at least understood the vampire was to be killed and would be a hassle. Still, he didn't like the idea of the plan. This was a vampire who had killed plenty more than this measly group of misfits. He doubted very highly that he would fall for such an obvious ploy.

 

He rolled his eyes again as he heard yet another confession of someone's true bloodline. Are they just asking to be killed? He glanced at Luke. He wondered if he would report them? Besides himself, Luke and Gidget were the only ones he hadn't caught the confessions of. Were they normal? Or were they just smart enough to figure out you couldn't say you were a Other in the very HQ that lived to kill Others.

 

This at least narrowed down who he was most interested in. He had absolutely nothing to learn from the others, as they had already told him all there was to know. Thankfully, it seemed this group was the only ones to hear it. If these people got him caught, he would make sure he got the chance to make them regret it first.

 

He moved over towards Luke, his hands clasped behind his back, trying to get a better view of the map. It was obvious, wasn't it? This vampire was hungry. So feed it. If he was given one of these Others, he would easily be too blinded by the sheer craft he thought he'd need to trick them into becoming food. Far too distracted to focus on those now close enough to hunt him. He didn't bother trying to voice his thoughts, though. The struggle of being heard over the oh-so-cocky ones was not something he cared to try. Besides. He was only interested in Luke and Gidget. He wondered if they had anything to offer.

 

His blue eyes rose from the map to look at Luke. "Do you really have something else in mind?" He asked. "We could try feeding the hungry." He felt it best to bring up his idea this way. Not all the details, but enough for Luke to ask if he found the plan worth listening to.

 

He glanced at Gidget and her sword, realizing she had indeed confessed to her bloodline. The word 'Shifter' echoed through his mind to remind him. He withheld another sigh of hopelessness. Nevermind. Luke is the only one that interests me. Unless one of these idiots can prove they actually hide something I'd want to find out. 

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(Why can everyone hear her murmur under her breath T.T)

 

Gidget couldn't hide her own content smile at the ignorance of Ingkells, and everyone else who followed suit in their belief of what she was. Rather than divulge anything further, she listened to them ramble on about plans and ideas for several minutes, noting flaws in logic and things that would easily be their down fall. Even as a child, she was older than most mages, vampires, and even a small handful of dragons she'd met. Certainly she had at least a little knowledge under her belt, or in this case, she didn't have a belt.

 

At the mention of feeding the vampire though, her attention was piqued. It was an interesting concept indeed, however, would it really work? She tilted the hefty blade slightly while moving in her seat, eyes scanning the room both to see the others' reactions and to gauge who she was dealing with still. 

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"You're suggesting using bait, then?" Luke said to Colin, his eyes drifting across the group of lunatic, misfits, psychos and Priscilla he'd been tasked to shepherd. "I honestly doubt we will find a volunteer, and catching people off the street and dangling them as bait sounds like a great way to get fired by our employers."

"With high-caliber bullets, that is." He finished, spreading his hands out and smiling smugly.

No one laughed at the joke. Philistines. Surely do they not recognize that the play on double meanings, a duplicity most artful, is the noblest form of humor?!

Not once did Luke consider that the cause of the cold reception was because the joke objectively wasn't very funny.

"I would rather not commit to an interview, much less protracted negotiations, with a vampire, distasteful creatures as they are. We should hit them hard and fast if we are going to do so, though having the target in the middle of a crowded part of the city does, um, significantly limit our tactical options. This will require some subtlety." He looked pointedly at the rather trigger-happy dragon. "Thus, we should execute a pincer attack at dawn; Ingkells and Linda will commit to a direct assault, and I assume the rest are amenable to, ahem, taking the back door with me." He waggled an eyebrow at her, flashing a smile at her. "We'll strike tomorrow morning, so take the time until then to get ready." He tapped his phone and a pin in the appeared on the map in the middle of a nearby park. "We meet here at 0600 tomorrow. Thank you for your time."

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Tch. He lost interest quickly, not seeing this plan to work. This vampire was obviously strong and smart, especially if they're having to hire a group such a this instead of using one hunter. And yet a pincer attack? Even a rookie would foresee this attack coming.

 

He put his hands in his pocket with a soft smirk. Maybe he'll take care of some of these... annoyances for me. That'll make more money to go around, too. Ya know, I wonder if- His head jerked up in surprise to the thought that struck him. He's stronger. Better. He felt the evil curl of his lips. I took this job so I wasn't ever on the losing team. Why should that change now.... He regained his self-awareness and his smile dropped, creating his expressionless face as his mind continued working. "6 in the morning. Got it."

 

Weaving past the others in the room, he made his way out of the uncomfortable building, his eyes shining in spite of himself. I do not lose.

 

He made his way to his home, the adrenaline from his random plan having left him on the way. He now thought of the others on his team. He wondered where Gidget was going? If he was correct and she was a homeless traveler of work, would she be going to a hotel? Or looking to someone in the group for a place to stay? He easily weaved around the people on the sidewalks he passed. And Luke? He was the only one who hadn't ratted himself out. Yet he had spoken using words only true soldiers used commonly. What's his history? What of Ingkells? Priscilla? Linda? Everyone seemed to be pretty cocky. Did they really possess powers and skills to give them a right to that attitude? Or are they just falsely aware of themselves? Colin decided it had to be the latter. If it was the former, then why did this job require all of them and not just one?

 

He sighed. He could just tell these teammates of his wouldn't be careful or smart in this job. He gave a soft laugh. If things went the way he planned, then this wouldn't be a problem of his anymore soon enough.

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Luke headed back to the lift, slipping a pair of earbuds onto his head as the soothing, melodic strains of his favorite music filled his world. "Ah, music. Truly the greatest achievement of Adam's children," he mumbled to himself as he stepped into the lift going upwards.

For the liaison of the Israeli Defence Force with the misfortune of sharing the lift with Luke, the time he spent next to the towering man playing air-guitar and mouthing the lyrics to Highway to the Danger Zone was the longest minute of the poor man's life.

Finally, Luke got out, much to the relief of the lift's other occupant, and pushed open a unmarked door, revealing... Yet another door, this one made of metal. A passcode and a retinal scan later, the door opened to reveal a prim-looking woman at a counter, behind which was arrayed a truly spectacular array of armaments.

He handed over a card, stating, "I'm requisitioning arms for tomorrow."

"Very well then, Mr. O'Brien. The standard package?"

"Yes, please," he said, and the woman nodded, stepped into a back room and produced a boxy Belgian-made submachine gun fitted with a suppressor, a stubby, unadorned Glock pistol and a few spare magazines. "By the way, Mr. O'Brien," the woman asked, peering over the rims of her glasses, "I was wondering why you hadn't gotten any augmentations done. Surely they're practically mandatory in this line of work?"

Luke snorted, waving a hand dismissively. "Bah. And risk getting hexed when a nasty Fae or a wizard gets within a hundred feet? Yeah, I know the newest ones are better shielded against those things, but I'd rather not gamble with my own bloody body, thank you very much. I'm good enough to not require these newfangled gimmicks as a crutch." He picked up his weapons, sticking the pistol into a hip holster and slinging the submachine gun on his back, and gave the woman a wave as he left.

Then, as his mind wandered back to their conversation, he grimaced, feeling a chill go up his spine. Sticking bits of iron. In my bloody body. Of course I'd never bloody agree to that.

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Gidget sighed yet again at the impatient nature of their mismatch group. A cocky, complacent Elder Dragon and his wife. A stranger named Linda who can talk with birds, a careful man named Colin, and someone who seemed to be a soldier maybe named Luke. All called in to handle one vampire. She'd hunted several vampires before, so it was slightly intriguing what made him so separately stronger than the rest. More things that interested her since coming to the states. 

 

She'd learned many things of others since coming from her own dwellings, though many didn't quite matter. People stared at her weapon all too often, but rarely was it a concern. Coupled with her attire, everyone wrote her off as a "cosplayer" and let it be. Some of her own etiquette was considered rude here as well, and things that were considered rude were polite. She learned these things quickly, but ignored some of it. 

 

After the supposed plan had be laid out for them and people began to disperse, Gidget finally breathed a sigh of relief that is was over. "This is going to be more trouble than it needs to be," she said to herself while walking down the street with no real objective. 

 

She could go anywhere she chose, but it wouldn't do much good. it was mostly a waiting game now. She decided to move to a secluded place and inspect her unique weapon. While it didn't need yet another maintenance, she had very little else to do as a wandering huntress. It was still a better living than as a Shifter in her own village however. 

 

(Ugh. the struggle for ideas is real)

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As Ingkells pulled his Lamborghini Veneno out of the parking garage with Priscilla sitting next to him, building up speed, checking the address to his mansion is flashed across his windshield with an optimized travelling route, an unbidden visitor decided to make his presence known. The classical music from his speakers got cut off all of a sudden, replaced by an individual’s raspy voice just as a small display of an impeccably dressed man made its way to the digitalized glass in front.
 
“You seem to be in a rather fine mood, Mr. Ingkells. I trust that the meeting went well?†asked Franz Stroheim in his slightly accented English.
 
“Superb,†answered the dragon. “We got a name that is most likely fake, a hostile location rigged with potentially lethal security measures and a rudimentary plan. Team wasn’t so shabby though. I got to talk to half of them and came this close to turning one to cinder,†he held up his fingers inches apart. “Cocky kid kept grinning despite my words, but I wonder if she can keep up the façade with all the electrons dissolved from her body?â€
 
His eyebrows knitted themselves together. "While I understand that you might find yourself in rather disagreeable company from your point of view, I must stress that you do not attempt to turn on them, unless provoked first. I’m playing a very dangerous game keeping an Elder Dragon around, so it would do well for the both of us to be circumspect, like not getting into the friendly-fire game or revealing one’s true form smack-dab in the middle of the city. Unlike in the Nevernever, here we have rules and laws to abide by, and I would dread the moment others found out I have been making exceptions. Do we have an understanding, Mr. Ingkells?â€
 
“Are you threatening me, Stroheim?†whispered Ingkells, his eyes reverting back to their hellish glare.
 
The Director raised both hands up defensively. “Oh non non, I wouldn’t dream of doing that, Mr. Ingkells. I’m merely stating the fact that since we are effectively on the same boat, it is only prudent for us to look out for each other.†He concluded, then turned to look at the woman on the side seat. “After all, I would be of no help in finding Lady Priscilla’s soul while rotting in Guantanamo Bay, and neither would the information I could provide be of use if you are smeared across the Hudson River like your old friend, Phlegethrax.† 
 
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Ingkells regarded his house’s armory grimly, eyes swiveling between racks full of medieval-looking weapons and a large wall where a plethora of modern-looking guns were attached to. In the end, what he settled on were two items of rather curious designs. One was a pair of double-ended sword hilts, though without any trace of a blade extending out from either of them, the other being a pouch filled to the brim with tungsten ball bearings, the same kind of pellets used in making claymores.

 

Priscilla walked into the room as he started fiddling with the hilts, slotting azure dragonscales into the specialized holding compartment in the middle. She waited for him to conclude, then spoke up. “I finished preparing a few spells for tomorrow, but with luck we won’t even need to use them.â€

 

He turned back to regard her, a gentle grin most uncharacteristic of the haughty dragon etched on his face. “Thank you kindly, Pris. But against I must insist that you give your body more rest, those injuries of yours must be aching a lot from all the travelling today.†  

 

She shook her head, then came closer to wrap her arms around him. “You don’t have to do this for me, my love. These past 5 years, I’ve been living just fine without my soul. Perhaps the Harlequin has deposited it in some dark, desolate corner of his collection and forgot about it. You don't have to push yourself for my sake, we can just go back to Nevernever and treat the whole thing like a bad dream that has passed. This plane and its denizens...it pains me to see your Pride trampled by so many others trying to help me.â€

 

The words carved themselves deeply into his heart, drawing blood from wounds that never quite healed. Ingkells choked back a curse the moment the name Harlequin reached his ears, the bitter taste of plum flooding through the tip of his tongue. That…monster might not be doing anything to her soul now, but it never forgets about a single item within its collection, the same way a dragon could tell a single chalice was taken from its hoard by intruders. Maybe not today, but tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next week, next month? There was no telling what kind of horrendous thing its whimsical mind could think of.

 

Well done with the Sacramentum, but don’t ever think a being without soul could ever go anywhere but be eternally damned to the Abyss after it perished, my little drake~

 

He turned back and pulled her in for a hug in return. “Hush, love. So what if I have to swallow a bit of my vanity? Heaven knows my ego could use some weight-loss anyway.â€

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(I have a problem with the length of your post good sir. it's 1005 words...)

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(He has broken the Graduate rules! Demote him, I say! A student once more so he shall suffer his punishment!)

 

Reaching his house, he went up the small set of stairs and into the front door, pocketing his keys once he entered to save himself from locking himself out of the house. A bad habit, really.

 

He went to the kitchen and hopped up onto the counter tops, grabbing the book he'd left there that morning and opening it to the page his book mark was at. 'If you really want to about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.....'

 

(Should we take a vote in favor of a time skip? All in favor, say 'Aye'!)

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(Well I don't plan to read anything in that long post, but I've no problem with a time skip here. Aye

P.S. That wasn't meant to be rude.)

 

Gidget finished her work on the switch blade and set it gently on her back, the scarf falling on top of it and covering part as she headed back out into the concrete jungle. She decided to have fast food for the third night in a row, having no residence in this city. It was cheap, but filling and tasty. "I don't mind this kind of thing really," she said to herself while finishing the last of the second fry she'd bought. People stared at her as they passed the cosplay girl sitting on a city bench, but she ignored their gazes. It was nothing new in this world.

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[oh God for fuck's sake Vey Lance get a fucking grip]

0550, the next morning

Luke sat down on the bench in the park, earbuds in his ears and a book in his hands -- a rather hefty volume with the words Folklore of the World on the cover. He flipped another page, and put a hand over his mouth to hold back his snickering as he read the entry. Seriously? What? How could you people be so wrong?

Then, he heard footsteps behind him, and became quite keenly aware of someone holding a steel knife a few inches from his neck. He froze, sweat beading upon his face as his hands inched towards his pocket. Slowly, he turned his head, asking, "Is this a stick-up?"

The burly, unshaven man looked at Luke as though he'd been dropped on the head as a baby. "Obviously?"

Well, he's almost certainly just a common mugger. Not some kind of Other; they'd probablg be unable to resist the temptation to gloat at this point.

For a moment, his hazel eyes seemed to turn golden and slitted, like the eyes of a cat, and he calmly said, "I've got no money on me." A true statement, technically. A credit card isn't actually money.

The mugger blinked. "Huh, looks like you probably got no money."

"Understood? So bugger off and find a proper bloody job." The mugger sighed and walked off, muttering something about taxi driving.

Luke looked down at the odd-looking, glassy black knife already in his hand -- he'd been that close to ramming the knife through the unfortunate man's eye socket. Huh, I'm getting pretty twitchy too. Oh well, all's well that ends well. A little 'helpful advice' does go a long way.

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