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HerculeHastings

Geist: Through The Ebon Gate

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"... God bless Old Fork City. God bless us all."

 

By afternoon the next day, the city was abuzz with the news of the horrifying train crash, and some of the heroes that had emerged from it, most notably the handsome and wise Mikaeus. It was not so much his heroic deeds (which were really just about patching up wounds and comforting wailing children) but his sobering words that had inspired the city. It sounded a bit preachy, but for a person with no ostensible connections to the government or any churches in the area, it was especially poignant in the wake of an apparent train bombing.

 

And perhaps in this age of technology, tales travel further and with greater speed than ever before. Facebook posts and Tweets were already trending things like #TrainHeroMikaeus, with comments along the lines of "we need more people like him!" or "what a poser".

 

When the krewe arrived at Old Fork College (which incidentally bore the same acronym as the city itself), students -- fresh from their memory of today's news -- looked up at the visitors, especially Mikaeus, with much curiosity, and evident pointing and whispers. They wondered where the group of people was going, and what they were doing here.

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The gang entered the college hoping to find Marci Palmer and get her to answer some questions. For now they had no idea where to find her, but luckily an information desk at the entrance of the college told them where they could find their office. They quickly debated what their plan of action would be and eventually decided that Isaac would visit Marci in her office while the others explored the college in hopes of finding any clues. Before they could commence their plan, however, a scrawny bald man with glasses came walking and dragged Mike away, while muttering something about giving a speech.

While walking towards Marci’s office Isaac popped his collar to conceal the scar on his neck. The door to Marci’s office was ajar and a peek inside revealed that there was no one in there. Isaac examined the hallway to make sure no one saw him go in. After closing the door he grabbed his phone and sent a message in the Krewe’s Whatsapp chat to inform them that the office was empty and that he would go and investigate. The first spot he searched was her desk drawer. In it he found a flyer with information on the so-called Glorious Church of the Unified Spirit. “Sounds more like a cult,†he whispered after examining the contents of the flyer.

After shoving the flyer into the pocket of his jacket he took a look at the contents of her shelf. On her shelf were multiple copies of the same back, titled “The Second Soulâ€. The description of the book bore many similarities with Sin-Eaters. ‘SHE KNOWS! SHE’S INVOLVED! SHE’S EVIL!’ Even though the Burning Witch had passed her judgment, Isaac wasn’t so sure yet.

Next was her computer. Her inbox contained an email from Mateo. In the message he told her to stay away from the carnival on the day of the accident. “Hmm, so it wasn’t a coincidence that it happened there.†He opened her browser to see if her browser history would reveal any information, but found that she hadn’t closed it yet. Her Chrome was still opened on Google Maps with a particular intersection marked on it. The intersection was an overpass directly above a particular busy highway with heavy traffic at this time of day.

Looking through her schedule didn’t give him any additional information, as she didn’t have any classes today, but all of a sudden an email notification popped up. The email said that her “Farewell†video had been successfully posted. Isaac clicked the link and took a look at the video. In it she held a speech about bringing back Mateo and her father. This girl was nuts. ‘EVIL!’ Maybe evil, but definitely nuts.

That’s when all the pieces fell into place. This girl was planning on another act of domestic terrorism, probably another suicide bombing, at the overpass. Isaac immediately grabbed his phone again and sent another message to the members of the Krewe detailing all of his findings and his deduction, while he took one last look around in the office.

He did not manage to find anything before all of a sudden and old balding dude came in. “Who’re you.â€
Luckily Isaac was used to situations as these and was good at thinking on his feet. “I’m Professor Oak, I teach Linguistics. I was waiting for Ms Palmer to get back here, since I’d like to have a word with her about our overlapping curriculum.â€
He squinted. “Oh, of course, sorry I didn’t recognize you, Professor Oak. I was also looking for Ms Palmer about an issue with exam scheduling. She’s usually here whenever she doesn’t have class.â€
“Do you have any idea where I can find her? I ave been waiting for 15 minutes but there’s been no trace of her.â€
The guy shakes his head. "I don't know really, she keeps to herself. She spends most of her time in her office; it's unusual that she's not here at this time of day. I suppose she's off running errands or something," he shrugs.
“Okay. Thanks. See you around.†Isaac left the office while sending a message to his partners to head to the cars. It was time for them to track down Marci.

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The provost was a round-bellied man holding up a newspaper as he walked. He looked at his newspaper, then looked at Mikaeus, then looked back at the newspaper.

 

"You're... excuse me, sir, are you by any chance..." he began hesitantly.

 

The thought of lying crossed Mikaeus' mind briefly; they were on an urgent mission after-

 

A FALSE WITNESS WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED, AND HE WHO BREATHES OUT LIES WILL PERISH.

 

"Well, yes, I was there." replied Mikaeus, massaging his suddenly-throbbing temple casually.

 

"You're Mikaeus!" he looked as if his wish had come true. "Mr Mikaeus, hello there, I'm Dr Moss, the Provost of OFC. Are you actually an OFC student?" He held out his hand.

 

Mikaeus shook his head. "I was one. I've quit though. Uh, personal issues."

 

"Oh, goodness, you're a former student! How very great! May I know if you're... currently occupied?"

 

"Well, no. I was meeting a friend for lunch. It's hard being the talk of town overnight."

 

Wait, why did I say that? wondered Mikaeus belatedly.

 

"Oh, I completely understand," said Dr Moss, who completely couldn't. "Well, since you're waiting for your friend, why don't you spare 5 minutes with us? We'd like to interview you, you see, for a school corporate video. You just need to say a few lines! Talk about what you've learnt and experienced with us!"

 

"I'm feeling a little under the weather. How about if we arranged to do this another time?" This much was true; Mikaeus only got a couple of hours in the night before. They had rushed to Old Forks College immediately after its doors were open.

 

"Oh dear, how're you feeling? We have water and a place to rest if you like. You see, we're hoping to rush our video out by today, so there really isn't any other time. Just 5 minutes. Surely you can spare that? Your friend can come along too!" 

 

Mikaeus groaned inwardly.

 

"Alright, I guess I could afford 5 minutes. And no, I'd rather not trouble her."

 

"Thank you, Mikaeus!" Dr Moss smiled and led the way.

 

5 minutes mystifyingly became 50 minutes.

 

---

The krewe finally reached the indicated bridge. Sure enough, there was a girl they recognized as Marci, climbing up onto the rail. She was wearing a bulky jacket and jeans. The bridge was on a highway and people were beginning to look upwards from below, pointing and screaming.

 

"Hey, look, is that girl about to jump?"

 

"Someone call the cops!"

 

"Hm, someone distract her?" Rose suggested.

 

"I think she has some kind of a crude dynamite strapped onto her. One wrong move and it'll go off." Bianca observed methodically.

 

Before the team could think of any further plan, Marci hoisted one leg over the railing. Without thinking, Mikaeus stepped out and clambered onto the railings. He walked towards her with his hands raised.

 

"Marci, stop! This isn't going to work! Stop!"

 

"Stand back!" she called out! She opened her jacket to take out a pistol, pointing it at Mike. "Come close and I'll shoot!"

 

As her jacket fluttered back into place, Mikaeus spied the explosive on her body.

 

"Alright, alright. I'll stop here. But listen to what I have to say first, alright? I have a message from Mateo. Look, Mateo tried to do what you're trying to do now and failed. He sent me to stop you before it's too late."

 

Marci looked suspiciously at Mikaeus. "Mateo's dead, isn't he? What could he have told you?"

 

"Yes, he's dead. But I spoke to him. I have a gift; I can communicate with the dead. He told me to stop you from following in his footsteps."

 

"You... can talk to Mateo... even after he's dead?"

 

Her eyes widened.

 

"Did he tell me that? To stop following in his footsteps?" She turned and looked down the bridge again.

 

"Tell me!" she started to get more agitated. "Tell me if you can talk to him!"

 

"Yes, he failed and he didn't want you making the same mistake he did. This won't work!"

 

 

The sirens of police cars approaching could be heard. Marci started to breathe more heavily.

 

"The Minister told him to bomb the train. And now he's chosen me to save him from down below. I can't fail him."

 

Tears streamed down her face. Really, amidst the entire situation, she was just a very scared and lonely girl.

 

"Look, you can't save him this way. All you'll end up doing is killing yourself. I can bring you to him, alright? Drop the bomb and I'll take you to him! Whoever the Minister is, he lied, okay! He lied to the both of you!"

 

Marci seemed to waver.

 

"Look, I'm not lying. Mateo told me about the hag in his apartment, alright? Her lips dripped with discharge, right? You were the first one to believe him!"

 

There was the longest of pauses before Marci finally spoke.

 

"I believe you," said Marci softly. "If you can talk to Mateo... can you tell him... that I love him?"

 

"No, you'll tell him yourself. I'll take you to him. He's still trapped where it happened."

 

She nodded and started to get down when Mikaeus suddenly remembered. One wrong move and it'll go off.

 

"Wait. Don't move. Your bomb might go off. You made it, right?"

 

"... No, I didn't. I'm no good with bombs. The Minister knows a man who kindly makes them for us. He made it for Mateo too."

 

“Okay, we'll just stay here and I'll ask someone to come up and defuse it, alright? Meanwhile, we can talk."

 

He motioned to the krewe with a hand. Bianca came over, and gingerly looked the bomb over. After a few moments of limber finger work, she had the dynamite removed and placed it into her bag.

 

"Great job, Bianca" said Mikaeus, wiping off sweat from his brow. "Alright, let's all get down now."

 

---

Once they had reached the bridge level, the police surged forward. One of them snapped a pair of handcuffs over Marci's wrists. She became scared immediately.

 

"Didn't you say you'd take me to see Mateo? I don't want to go to the police station!"

 

"Look, look, we'll come with you, but just let us make a detour?" interjected Mikaeus. He grimaced at the lead officer. 

 

The officer seemed about to refuse, but then his scrawny buddy spoke up, "Eh, I know him! He's tha' guy in the newspapers! The Mik- Mik- Mikhael... person! He's a good guy, rescued so many people during the train crash!"

 

Thank God.

 

AND LET US NOT GROW WEARY OF DOING GOOD, FOR IN DUE SEASON WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.

 

Mikaeus winced in pain. The policeman peered closely at him. "Now that you mention it..."

 

Mikaeus managed a self-conscious smile at him, who scratched his stubble in deep thought.

 

"Oh, well, okay, I guess we can drop you off at the grounds. However, I'll send PC Snippet to follow you, to ensure you don't run away."

 

The scrawny guy saluted.

 

"Now get in the police car."

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Night had fallen by the time the group arrived at the carnival grounds again. The scene now was an eerie contrast to the last time the group had been there - no noise and chaos, only deathly silence. It's been closed down and blocked off with police tape, pending further investigation and eventual clearing of wreckage. There is a sole police cruiser at the front gate, but the officers it belongs to are nowhere to be found. Presumably they're meant to guard the scene, but where are they?

 

The police van parks next to the cruiser, and the lead officer turns to the back to address the group, "Only two of you can go in, with PC Snippet. The rest of you will have to wait in the back, with me here. I'm being generous enough as it is here so don't go trying to press me any more."

However, PC Snippet has gone white and is gasping at something ahead. Specifically, a few inches ahead. The windscreen of the van, fogged up from the officers' breath on this chilly night, has writing appearing on it seemingly out of nowhere.

 

Go away!

 

This is generally not a good sign. Something is happening...

 

Two ghosts manifest in front of the van. The police radio crackles with static and a nearby streetlight flickers. The police and Marci don't notice anything wrong, and the lead officer begins to suspect some hoax is going on with the windscreen writing. "What is this, some kind of trick? Very funny."

 

The ghosts attempt to rip open the door of the van with telekinesis, but they fail to muster the power to do so. One of them pokes its head through the wall of the van, next to Isaac's head. He appears to be mostly human, although he is missing the top half of his head, above his jaw. His tongue lashes about and he makes sickening gurgling noises. Though of course, only the Sin-Eaters see or hear this.

 

Marci gapes and whispers to the group, gesturing at the windscreen "Is that Mateo?"

 

No it is not Marci, no it is not.

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Mikaeus felt the spirits’ Numina first before he saw them. 

 

Oh, f- Now?

 

Marci gaped and whispered to the krewe, "Is that Mateo?"

 

Mikaeus acted first. 

 

"Marci, stay in the van. Let us calm the situation first before we check on Mateo. I'll check where he is."

 

To everyone else, he shouted, "Everyone! We're under attack by spirits. My friends here are demonologists from the church. Please stay put in the vehicle, let them go out and protect us!â€

 

"Marci, stay in the van. Let us calm the situation first before we check on Mateo. I'll check where he is."The police squinted at him, "This is all some sort of prank isn't it? You've got a camera somewhere and thought you could get some dumb cops to make use of."

 

Tch!

 

Rose has been staring right at the manifesting ghosts in disbelief ever since they stirred, watching them take shape and move towards the van. It took Mikaeus's shout to break her out of her trance, stirring her into action.  

 

She closed her eyes and shifted her position in the van slightly, making sure she wouldn't fall over in her seat and -

 

/Bang/

 

A blinding flash exploded in her mind as she felt herself connect with her eager Geist, while plasm started pooling around and seeping out of the van's doors. It coalesced and started rising, eventually shaping itself into a humongous version of the Winged Serpent. Peridot - or rather - Rose hissed at the attacking ghosts, stretching his wings out threateningly for good measure.

 

In the meanwhile, Bianca flexed her fingers as the chilling cloth of Frankenstein's Keystone materialized upon her as a flowing white lab coat, much to the amazement of the policemen. She grinned, hoping that this little show would help Mikaeus do his little conversational magic.

 

Pushing the car door next to her open, she exited the police car, ignoring any objections the officers might have had as she placed her hands in the lab coat's pockets, spending a Plasm to activate her Stigmata Shroud. It manifested in the form of a crimson-colored chinese dragon sigil etched on the back of Frankenstein's coat, burning its way into the white fabric. The same crimson red dye seared its way into a flame-pattern on both of her sleeves and on her arms, and she raised her fists into a defensive position. Any ghost attempting to get at her now would be up for a hard fight.

 

Lastly, Isaac, who has been staring listlessly at the van's ceiling, jerked himself out of his stupor and looked at the panicking passengers.

 

"Huh?"

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The first ghost continued staring at Isaac, but its tongue rotated around in its mouth to point at the huge serpent creature that was now Rose. It slowly shifted its gaze onto her as well, exhaling green noxious gases. Then it turned to face a battered wreck that signified the remains of a merry-go-round. There was a relatively unharmed metal horse, attached to the pole that would have stood upright on the merry-go-round. The ghost floated over to this horse and lifted it up, hurling it through the air towards Rose.

 

[3 Successes for telekinesis]

 

The other ghost had horns on its head, and its face and body had streaks of glowing red. It flitted through the open door of the car and headed straight for Marci, hovering at her body with its eyes glowing red and its lips curved into a smile. Marci suddenly gripped Isaac's hand.

 

"I feel... odd. Like there's something trying to get inside me," she said. For all their bravado, the policemen, especially PC Snippet, turned much paler at her words. Marci clenched her fists and squeezed her eyes shut, letting out groaning sounds. It took a few seconds, but the ghost was forced out of her body. She took large gasps of air, beads of perspiration appearing on her forehead.

 

[Contested Possession roll: 1 Success for ghost, 2 Successes for Marci]

 

"I think... it's gone now," she panted, though much more shaken than before. "I think we should try to get away."

 

"I... I can't start the car!" whimpered PC Snippet, turning the key frantically at the engine. "The electricity and my police radio... everything's gone out!"

 

The other policeman glared at Mikaeus accusingly. "This is all real, isn't it?" he questioned, as if Mikaeus had not been trying to explain it before. "There're really... really weird things going on outside, right? Trying to fool us into thinking you're demonologists! Demonologists my foot! You're all demons, the lot of you! We'll be dead and dragged down to the underworld without knowing what hit us!"

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"Would a demon have saved all those people last night? Would a demon be sitting here now trying to reason with you? You're not speaking sense, sir. My friends are out there now trying to save our lives and I'm here to protect us. Please just stay put here; there're nothing you can do against these ghosts. Have faith, sir, faith in The Lord." Mikaeus urged in a low voice, as if the spirits might hear him over the din of the fighting outside. 

 

He continued in a solemn note, "Mark 3:11. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out,'You are the Son of God.' Say it after me! You too, Marci. Isaac, get out there already."

 

[Persuasion Roll | Wits 3, Persuasion 1, 1 bonus from the Ghostly Writing, 1 bonus from the Rose's Transformation]

[0 successes]

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While Mikeaus's still attempting to coax the shaken policemen into behaving, Rose and Peridot were busy calming down targets of their own. Discomfort filled her head as the merry-go-round crashed into her serpentine body, shoving the conjoined partners hard against the van. The van creaked and groaned under the impact. No doubt the passengers inside were making their own sets of noises, too. Hissing slightly in annoyance, she swooped her long body down to peer through the windshield, making sure her mortal body is still in one piece before turning and striking the offending ghost.

 

Rose made sure to give him an extra hard bite for all that trouble, and sunk her ghostly fangs deep into his torso. With a mighty heave, she threw him a short distance over to Bianca's side, who looked more than ready to serve him some of her knuckle sandwiches . Knowing that ghost's as good as dead, Rose opted to encircle the van defensively instead, turning her slitted pupils on the remaining ghost.

 

[3dmg taken]

[3dmg dealt]

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Bianca cracked her knuckles as the unfortunate ghost landed in front of her, having been tossed by Rose's earlier attack. This was what she had been waiting for the whole time. Not talking to spirits, not defusing bombs. Punching things. As the ghost moaned and crawled to its feet, Bianca taunted, "Ready for some CORPOREAL punishment?"

 

A quick right jab to the stomach sent the ghost reeling to the ground, clutching at its abdomen. If it had been a living opponent, it would probably be vomiting the contents of its last meal right now. Alas, the ghost was spared this torment, and reared back up to its full height as though asking Bianca if that was all she had to offer.

 

It was not.

 

She swung her left fist in a hook that struck the ghost right in the jaw, knocking out a few ethereal teeth in the process. This time, it seemed to have had enough, fading away into the Underworld to presumably complain to its ghostly mother about how a crazy mortal woman had been bullying him. Bianca smirked, feeling satisfied at her efforts. She turned and gestured to the next ghost invitingly, as though asking if he wanted a piece of the action as well.

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The ghost was unfazed by its companion's demise. It was as though it had not even cared. It concentrated on Marci, intent on entering her body. She had been left frail and gasping for breath after that last frightening encounter, and as she rested her hand on the passenger seat, where Isaac sat miserably, having failed to activate his Manifestation, the ghost charged again, headlong into her. She let out a gurgling sound, froth seeping from the sides of her mouth. She blinked once or twice, then straightened her body.

 

"You..." she whispered in a voice unlike her own, her eyes rolling around in their sockets. The ghost was getting used to its new shell. "You didn't save me... from the train... now die!" Marci suddenly reached out and grabbed the pistol from the inside pocket of her jacket and pointed it at Isaac.

 

She pulled the trigger.

 

Fortunately, Isaac landed a flying kick with his knee and jerked her hand upward as she fired her gun. The bullet hit the ceiling of the van, opening a small hole in the metal. Marci let out a bloodcurdling scream.

 

In the meantime, PC Snippet was thoroughly unconvinced by Mikaeus' persuasion.

 

"I don't understand why chanting these lines would help us," he said, "because I'm Taoist. Also, if you're so busy protecting us, why're you bothering to spend time talking to me anyway? Shouldn't you be fighting with your friends?"

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Geez! Things are getting worse in here every minute and he's still arguing with me!
 
"I'm a pacifist. But my friends are out there fighting them, not you. Trust me, we're on your side. And if you're Taoist, how do you explain these malevolent spirits?" 
 
Despite himself, Mikaeus was honestly curious. And besides, if they were arguing with him, they were staying in the car and not getting in harm's way.   Now, if only he could wrestle that gun out of Marci's possession...
 
[Persuasion Roll | Wits 3, Persuasion 1, 1 bonus from the Rose's Transformation)
[1 success]

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Intent on ending the fight as fast as she possibly can, Rose changed her orientation and struck out, diving right through the police van's windshield and biting right into Marci's bosom. Even though she couldn't see the invisible war that's waging right under her nose, the ghost possessing her surely did feel it. Marci let out a guttural scream, clawing at her chest in a borderline desperate manner. 

 

It's exhilarating moving with such power and deliberation, when one's been living life in the shadows for almost a quarter of her total lifespan. Rose released her jaws and drew away from Marci, hissing a warning at the intruding ghost before flapping her wings and lifting herself through and out of the van's ceiling. It's time for someone else to take the spotlight.

 

[2 Dmg given, remaining ghost has 6hp left]

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The cowardly ghost had retreated into the body of Marci, thinking that it was safe from Bianca's fists within the poor girl's mortal frame. Maybe it thought that Bianca would think twice before assaulting a fellow living human being. It was sorely mistaken. As Bianca used another point of Plasm to unlock her Stigmata Rage manifestation, she folded her arms as her eyes began to glow blood red as an effect of the manifestation. Behind her rose the ghostly figure of Frankenstein, his disheveled hair and half-destroyed lab coat flapping in the chilling breeze that was blowing through the area, as he slowly grew to easily three meters in height, towering over Bianca with the same blood red glowing eyes.

 

And behind Frankenstein towered a hulking monstrosity, a living corpse with stitches lining its body and blood dripping from every orifice, easily large enough to pick up the entire police car as though it was a Hot Wheels toy. It was the nameless creation of the mad scientist, the creature that was not meant to live. As Bianca moved her arm, both Frankenstein and his monster mimicked the motion, all three of them raising their arms into the air.

 

Then she slammed her fist onto the ground.

 

Being completely ethereal, the titan's punch went right through the police car, leaving it and the humans inside completely unharmed. The ghost, however, was not as fortunate. The resulting impact sent rumbles through the ground as a satisfying squelch could be heard, as Bianca slowly lifted her fist and examined the squashed ghost with a grin.

 

[stigmata Rage deals 4 damage. Ghost has 2hp left]

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After having wasted enough time trying to use supernatural powers Isaac decided to use the one thing he was the best at: his guns. Angrily he fired at Marci, hoping that the blessing he received at the church would allow him to deal enough damage to chase the ghost out of her body. If he ‘accidentally’ ended up killing her it would be no loss anyway, she tried to kill innocent people.

He fired a shot with both guns and managed to strike Marci in her shoulder.

[Gunfire deals 4 damage.]

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"Ouch..." was a pretty understated remark as Marci was shot right through the arm. She winced at the shock and the sudden pain, not sure whether to cover the wound with her hand, for deep red blood was already seeping out. However, this injury was little in comparison to the ghost, which took the damage from Isaac's blessed bullet and vanished into the ground, leaving Marci blinking with confusion and scrambling with one hand in her bag for some useless tissue paper.

 

PC Snippet had looked away from Mikaeus, completely distracted by this new occurrence. This was the final act that nailed this belief, for only evil spirits could explain Isaac's sudden aggressive behaviour towards a fellow human being.

 

"You- you shot her!" he gaped like a goldfish. "Why did you even do that? Anyway, you're under arrest for... for culpable homicide!" He whipped out his handcuffs. "You're not allowed to leave my sight anymore- hey, what're you doing?"

 

Marci had struggled to open the door to the van, limping out and walking as quickly as she could down the now empty fairground. The night air was still and quiet, and whispers of wind stirred the grass. No one would have suspected that the barren land held host to 2 aggressive moaning ghosts earlier.

 

She bit her lip, walking down the path, her face steadily turning pale. She paused, then turned around back to the van.

 

"Mateo... where's Mateo's ghost?" she asked. "He should be around here somewhere, shouldn't he? What're you still doing sitting there? Didn't you say you'd take me to him?"

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Rose’s eyes glowed as she assessed the wound on Marci’s arm.

 

Meanwhile, Mikaeus returned to the police van to search for a first aid kit. Thankfully it was stowed right in the driver’s compartment. As he retrieved it, Mikaeus saw that Snippet had Isaac in hand-cuffs and was guarding him like a prized possession.

 

Outside, Marci asked, "Is it going to take a long time? I don't mind the pain; just take me to see Mateo."

 

“We will after we get you patched up. Should be done in a jiffy.â€

 

"Does it hurt?" Marci whispers with gritted teeth.

 

"Yes, but we've gotta help you get better."

 

"My life isn't so important for you to spend all this time on me."

 

"Yeah? Well, you don't want to go into the Underworld, trust me."

 

After ten minutes’ work, Mikaeus managed to stem the bleeding. He motioned for Bianca to lead her over to the train wreckage.

 

Mateo approached them as they neared the site, saying,"You're here! You brought Marci too! But... what happened to her?"

 

He looked at her bandages.

 

Marci looked at Bianca. "Is Mateo around here?"

 

"A few ghosts got to us, but she's okay for now," Bianca said to Mateo. Then turning to Marci, she continued, "Yeah, I'm talking to Mateo right now."

 

Marci reached out her hand gingerly, trying clumsily to feel for him. It was almost sad, for she was looking straight ahead into Mateo's eyes, but could see nothing.

 

"Marci, I'm just so pleased you're still alive," Mateo choked. "I failed the Minister. He entrusted me with this task, but I screwed it up. And now I'm dead, and I dragged so many people along with me."

 

"I'm gonna transfer everything Mateo says, word for word," Bianca explained before turning to the ghost boy. "Go ahead, Danny Phantom."

 

Marci was starting to sniffle too.

 

"I failed the Minister too," she said. "He told me to attach these bombs to myself, but I failed. I couldn't do it."

 

"It wouldn't have worked anyway," said Mateo urgently. "This is why I sent them to stop you. They told me it wouldn't have worked."

 

"Just, well... stay strong, Marci. Stay strong even without me. I'll always be by your side, supporting you. Like in the old days," Mateo continued.

 

Both of them fell silent, not sure how to go on.

 

"Who is this Minister dude anyway?" Bianca asked Marci, seeing as they had finished their little talk. "What did he say exactly about this thing you're trying to do?"

 

Marci turned to Bianca now.

 

"The Minister communicates to us, sometimes," she explained.

 

"None of us have seen him before, but he talks to us when we're alone, encouraging us, telling us what to do. And that what we're doing now is indeed God's will."

 

"How does he talk to you without you seeing him? Does he call you or something?"

 

"Sometimes he talks to us like a voice inside our heads," Mateo answered this question now. "I've seen him once, though. He looks... well, strange is a word for it."

 

"Most of the time we talk to Uriah, and he tells us what the Minister wishes."

 

Bianca looked interested. "So you have met this Uriah person?"

 

"Oh yes, Uriah's like family to us!" Marci nodded happily. "He's a very soft-spoken but kind man."

 

"Always with a listening ear," added Mateo.

 

"He looks rather frail, though. Very... insignificant, his frame. But his kindness wins us over."

 

"Where did you meet this Uriah?" That was Mikaeus.

 

Marci said, "I met Uriah first. I believe it was at a newspaper stand. I was quite stricken with my father's death at the time, but I could feel my father's presence. He was with me, putting his hand on my shoulder when I'm down. I didn't know who to speak to, about that, or if I was going mad. But I met Uriah, and he told me what was going on. And invited me to his church."

 

"And then I asked Mateo to join me."

 

"Where is your church? I might like to take a visit, if Uriah's as nice as you said he is." Bianca speaking.

 

"I can take you there another day," smiled Marci.

 

"Maybe you could write the address down on this piece of paper? In case we can't meet up later."

 

Bianca passed a pen and a piece of paper to Marci.

 

Marci tried to write, but the pain from lifting her hand consumes her.

 

Mateo looked worried.

 

"Maybe you should just take her home," he said. "She seems too exhausted for this."

 

Bianca ignored Mateo, since Marci can't hear him.

 

Marci read out the address.

 

"Bianca, can you do me a favour?"

 

"Yes, ghost boy?"

 

"Help me tell Marci that, er, I, er. See, I've always wanted to tell her this. Er."

 

"Wink wink nudge nudge," said Bianca.

 

"What?" Marci asked, confused.

 

Bianca pointed at the spot where Mateo is. "He's saying something. Go on, Danny Phantom."

 

"I... glub... her."

 

"He glubs you," repeated Bianca faithfully to Marci.

 

Marci blinked.

 

"Alright, now take her back," said Mateo decisively.

 

Bianca grinned and slammed a pat on Mateo's back. "Thanks, kiddo. You were a great help. My advice is that you should follow this guy's help  and Pass On. Who knows? You might meet Marci in the afterlife. Well, not immediately. I mean in the future."

 

"You want her to value her life, right? Mateo?" Mikaeus spoke up again.

 

 

 

"Yeah well, you're the orator, Mikaeus. You can say this better than I."

 

"He said yes, Marci. I want you to remember that. Don't just throw your life away.  We don't all get second chances, so you should treasure yours."

 

Marci nodded weakly.

 

"Imma gonna leave you two manly men to talk things out," Bianca said to Mikaeus and Mateo as she wrapped an arm around Marci and began to lead the girl back to the car. "I think it's best if Marci gets some rest now."

 

 

"Haven't you been paying attention? She was possessed. I shot her. She was no longer possessed." protested Isaac.

 

"What proof do you have that she was possessed? Why, every murderer out there can make the same claim!" retorted PC Snippet.

 

"Not every murder took place on the scene filled with malicious spirits. I thought Mike told you what was going on."

 

"Uh-huh, I got that there were spirits," he said uncertainly. "But-but the law doesn't accept that as proof! And even if there were spirits, you could've taken advantage of the situation to fulfil a personal vendetta!"

 

It looked as if PC Snippet was not going to reveal to his colleagues anything about spirits if he could help it.

 

"If you're gonna claim I have a personal vendetta against some bitch I've never met, I sure hope you have some evidence."

 

"Marci shot Isaac first. He reacted in self-defense."

 

"I think we can all agree that Marci isn't exactly in the best state of mind at the moment. Perhaps she was feeling rather depressed about something. That caused her to freak out and shoot at my friend, who in the heat of the situation, had no choice but to fire back in self-defense. I'm sure you don't fault someone for retaliating when under fire, do you, officer?"

 

"Alright, how about this," says PC Snippet in the end. "I'm willing to close this case and not pursue the matter, if you'll pay me your bail, together with some administrative fees."

 

"You have to understand that this is going to require a lot of filing and reporting," says Snippet, "and spiritual possession doesn't even classify. I really do support demonologists, and you know how much I admire and respect you, Mr Mikaeus."

 

"Your work is secret, and I won't divulge it."

 

"Most of your fans are tools, but I like this one, Mike." Isaac quipped.

 

"Just maybe a thousand from each of you, and we won't see each other again."

 

"Is this interrogation being recorded?"

 

"Oh, of course not," said Snippet. "As I said, I respect your status as secret workers."

 

Bianca pressed record silently under the table. "I'm sorry, PC Snippet, what did you say about the bail earlier?"

 

PC Snippet said, "It'd amount to about a grand from each of you. Not too much, I fancy?"

 

"But if I'm not mistaken, firing a sidearm in self-defense is not against the law. Why do we have to pay a bail for a crime which we did not commit?"

 

"I'm sorry, but there was a delay between when the girl fired the gun, which missed, and when Isaac fired one in return."

 

"He wasn't firing when the gun was pointing straight at him."

 

"I witnessed that."

 

Snippet sighed. "You guys just want to take the hard route, don't you?"

 

"You just want to spend the night in remand while we clear up what really happened."

 

"I can spend all night with you, you know."

 

"Are you saying that if we pay you a grand each, you will arrange things on your side to make sure we come out scot free, despite what you're saying about Isaac?"

 

Snippet eyed them. "Don't you all want that?"

 

"I just wanted to make sure that is what you're saying, before we commit to anything. Is this the agreement you're offering to us?"

 

"Yeah yeah, I mean, I could think of some way to cover you guys up then, provided of course that you don't commit any more crimes, and be good citizens from now on."

 

Bianca stopped the recorder, holding it up for him to see. "Thank you for your cooperation, PC Snippet. Unless you wish to be arrested for blackmail and bribery, I'd think it would be wise to just drop the matter completely."

 

"Arrested, what a word to say!" Snippet started laughing. "And who's going to do the arresting, pray tell me?"

 

However, his eyes were glinting maliciously.

 

The gang rounded up on him, with Isaac and Bianca intermittently intimidating him.

 

After five minutes of it, Snippet crossed his arms and glared. "Fine, I'll let you off on this account. But you won't get away with it, escaping the law. I just don't have the time to pursue your minuscule case, that's all!"

 

"Glad you saw it our way," Bianca concluded with a smug grin, fitting the recorder back in her bag.

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With matters settled and night well underway, everyone returned home. The day had been eventful, but the next perhaps moreso. Though beings of the darkness themselves, Sin-Eaters too could fall victim to movements in the shadows, unseen dangers plotting against them. And so, as the group slept, others remained awake seeking their ruin.

 

Rose is visited in her room by a malicious ghost.

Roll Wits + Composure - 2 (for being asleep when it arrives) to see if Rose wakes and notices it before it begins wreaking havoc.

 

IF 1+ successes, Rose wakes up to see a depressed looking ghost of businessman with a noose tied around his neck. He has done nothing to Rose or her room yet.

IF 0 successes, Rose does not wake up until morning. She finds her room has already been ransacked, and there are dead birds littered everywhere. There are haunting messages scrawled on the walls and any glass surfaces, taunting her and playing to her suspicion flaw (eg "Do you know who put me up to this?" "They're all liars." etc).

 

Bianca finds an odd letter under her door, it reads:

 

I've heard you like to punch ghosts. I like to smash puny humans. If you dare, come challenge me. If you are merely a scared little girl after all, then ignore me and I shall claim the default victory - all shall know that you were afraid to face me!

 

Attached is an address she recognizes as an old abandoned warehouse in the industrial district.

 

 

Mikaeus finds himself accosted by a homeless old man as soon as he steps out of his abode. "Please help me good sir! Some horrible youngsters have taken my dear copy of the Bible, what was given to me by me mother - God rest her soul - and they're throwing it around threatening to burn it they are! Nobody else will listen to some beggar, nobody else will help!" The man throws himself at Mikaeus' feet, threatening to cling onto his legs until he helps.

Roll Wits + Subterfuge to contest the man's lies.

 

IF 2+ successes, Mikaeus notices the man seems to be lying.

IF 0 successes, Mikaeus has no reason to suspect the man is anything but what he claims.

 

Meanwhile, Isaac faces perhaps the worst situation: it seemed somebody had dug into his past and tipped his old "friends" in the mafia off to the fact he had survived their attempt to kill him. By the time he awoke in the morning, they were outside his door already.

 

Roll Wits + Composure to notice the sounds and shadows of them gathering outside Isaac's door, before they burst in.

 

IF 1+ successes, Isaac notices several pairs of footsteps outside, and the shadows under the door suggesting people are gathering outside it. He may take actions up to 30 seconds to prepare (or flee) before they burst in.

IF 0 successes, Isaac notices nothing, and is taken by surprise as the door is kicked open, and the gangsters will get a surprise round (roll initiative for afterward).

 

You may assume Isaac has already gotten up and showered/dressed/etc and is in a state ready to leave his home, by the time of this surprise roll.

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Bianca read and re-read the letter in her hands, making sure that she had not missed out any details before she crushed it into a ball and tossed it into the wastepaper bin on the far end of her room. This was obviously a threat - but from who? Her first thought went to the Minister and his gang of cronies, but she remembered how she had made PC Snippet pretty angry the day before too. Could the young police officer be trying to take his revenge?

 

Regardless of who the culprit was, this was a challenge which Bianca could not back down from. Her father would never have condoned cowardice - even if it was an obvious trap. She scooped up her smartphone with one arm, quickly typing out a message to the rest of her group: "Going to kill Mr. Goliath at <warehouse address>." Satisfied, she grabbed her truck keys and opened up a side drawer where a steel bladed weapon was concealed. Bianca extracted the Bagh-Nakh, experimentally fitting it onto her palms as she tried a few test punches. It was a set of metallic tiger claws sharp enough to rend flesh and possibly bone, with a steel grip for Bianca to hold onto.

 

Whoever was messing with her would regret doing so very soon.

 

After making sure she had everything she needed, Bianca marched out of her house as Frankenstein's lab coat materialized around her body in a flash. She climbed into her truck, started the engine with a rumble and took off, with complete confidence that she could handle whatever they could possibly throw at her. The journey wasn't too long, and soon Bianca arrived at the address that was stated in the note - an old abandoned warehouse in the industrial district.

 

She grabbed the Bagh-Nakh, fitting it onto her palms as Frankenstein stared at her from the passenger's seat. "Going to your own death so soon?" The apparition asked in a curious voice.

 

"You can go and freeze yourself to death a second time before I'll join your ranks," she replied with a scowl as she examined the warehouse from within her truck. There was not a single soul in sight - literally. She decided to activate her Stigmata Shroud before disembarking from the vehicle, the familiar crimson red flame sigils appearing all over her body as she pushed open the door, hopping down onto the ground with a soft thud. "Watch my back," she muttered to Frankenstein, who did not grace her with a reply.

 

"Come out, come out, wherever you are," Bianca whispered to herself, holding up both arms in a defensive position as she slowly advanced towards the warehouse, senses on full alert for any signs of movement or attack.

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This can't be happening.

 

Rose peeked bleakly at the smartly dressed ghost, making sure to keep her sleeping pose steady. He was floating in her room forlonly, a ghostly hand tugging at the noose tied round his neck. It almost seems like he's taken a strong interest in her taste in home decor, as he's started to pace around, running his other hand across her furniture. Even for a sin-eater, such an encounter was definitely not normal. Rose blinked another couple times, trying to drive the last of her sleepiness out of her system. 

 

W-What's this guy doing in my place? 

 

The young sin-eater closed her eyes for a moment, trying to orient her senses again. She remembered the huge incident concerning Mateo and Marci, the long fight in the carnival, the police interrogation, the long ride back home, finally catching some shut eye in her chair... and... and now this. It's almost as if her uncanny ability to sense danger has woken her up just to prepare for this situation. Not that she's complaining.

 

To add on to her already bizarre situation, a slight buzz suddenly rang out from her smartphone, signifying the arrival of a new message. Rose's hand snapped out and snagged it before it can cause any more noise, giving the incoming message a short glance.

 

 "Going to kill Mr. Goliath at <warehouse address>." 

 

Goliath...?

 

Before she could even start processing Bianca's cryptic message, a slight gust of cold air suddenly enveloped Rose. A sinking feeling filled her stomach as she slowly lifted and locked her eyes with her mysterious visitor, his lifeless face now hanging centimeters away from her own.

 

Rose screamed.

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“ISAAC THEY ARE COMING FOR YOU! KILL THEM! KILL THEM ALL!â€

 They? Who would go through the trouble of looking for Isaac? The shadows underneath the door revealed that this was no time for him to ponder on it, it was time for him to act. He had no idea how much longer it’d be before they kicked open the door and filled him with whatever kind of steel they wanted to… but he couldn’t let this rudeness go unpunished.

He was already dressed and ready to go, but he had an idea. Instead of jumping out of the window and making a run for it he had to make sure they’d be unable to chase him. After dashing towards his kitchen he quickly opened all the gas valves on his stove to make sure as much gas as possible would flood his home. A quick double-check to make sure he had his keys, guns, phone and whatever else he would need for the day before he hopped out of the window and closed it once outside.

Outside he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket to pull out a packet of cigarettes and lit one up as he glanced back at his home melancholically. It’d be time to move again soon. The sound of people busting down the door was loud and clear even outside of the home. That was his cue; he threw the still lit Zippo lighter into his home hoping the combination of the fire and the gas flooded inside would cause an explosion harmful to his pursuers.

He took a drag as he stood outside and admired the spectacle he had created. If only it didn’t mean he’d have to look for a new place to stay tonight. Oh well. His show was interrupted by a buzzing phone telling him Bianca and Rose had been sending messages in the group’s Whatsapp chat. “Hey, I might need a place to stay for a while.â€

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Bianca's host made no attempt at a covert attack. He simply walked out into sight openly. Although, he was open only to Bianca at present, for he was a ghost. A giant ghost, twice Bianca's height, hulking and made of muscle, was the challenger. He wore little but a tattered pair of overalls over his body, and his skull seemed to be caved in from above. He must've died in this warehouse in a workplace accident, when it was still operational.

 

"You're scrawnier than he said you'd be, hrm." the giant grumbled, pacing back and forth. His heavy footsteps were oddly silent - no matter how huge he seemed, he was a weightless ghost after all. "S'pose you'll have to do for a warm-up then."

Roll Initiative. Hulk's initiative score is 13).

IF you beat it, you go first.

IF you don't beat it, he goes first and uses Telekinesis (3,7,9,3,3,4,3,6,6 (1 successes)). He lifts a nearby chair and tries to throw it at you (4 (0 successes)), and misses anyway.

 

--

 

As Rose screamed in the ghost's face, the ghost screamed back at her.

 

"GAH, you're awful loud, no wonder nobody likes you. Literally every neighbour of yours goes on and on about how annoying you are." the ghost croaked, his voice raspy and strangled from the noose. "I wouldn't even be here, if I wasn't forced to be. Someone left my anchor in this area though, and I figured it was my duty to let you know what an awful person you are. Can you guess which one of your "friends" it was who left my anchor here, eh?"

 

--

 

The mafia goons never stood a chance. They burst into the room and began searching for where Isaac may be, and by the time they smelled the gas it was too late. While there wasn't enough buildup to outright blow the house up, it was plenty enough to flood most of the rooms with flames, burning all the assailants alive. However, Isaac was not out of trouble quite yet. One of the group had remained in their car outside, ready to make a getaway after the bullets finished flying. He figured he had the upper hand, with the engine still running.

Roll Initiative. Wheelman's initiative score is 12.

IF you beat it, you go first.

IF you don't beat it, he goes first and tries to run you down with his car. Wheelman rolls to run Isaac over (Isaac "defends" in the form of his defense subtracting from Wheelman's dice pool). (3,4,6,2,9,8 (2 successes)) - hit. Wheelman rolls for damage (he gets a bonus depending on distance, but I'll be merciful and assume it's the minimum distance) (1,10,4,6,8,8,4,1,6,3,8,2,1 (4 successes)) - 4 lethal damage.

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Bianca's eyes widened slightly as she saw the towering ghost emerge from the shadows of the warehouse. She had expected someone big from the way the note was phrased, but she had been expecting 'gorilla-big', not the Hulk. Did the muscles of the ghost even matter? It was ethereal, wasn't it? It should use Numina to affect things, not by physical means.

 

The ghost (hereby referred to as 'The Hulk') was faster than Bianca had expected. It levitated a steel chair from the warehouse, tossing it at Bianca who jumped aside without much effort. It seemed like the Hulk was merely toying with her with such a disinterested attack. "Where were you aiming at? The next-door neighbour?" She taunted, rushing at the ghost as she raised a fist to strike.

 

Her punch slammed straight into the Hulk's quivering mass of ectoplasm. It barely seemed to tickle him, however, despite the Bagh-Nakh's long steel claws piercing right through its thick ghostly frame. Gritting her teeth, she pulled back her dominant arm, took a deep breath and punched again - to little effect once more. The Hulk guffawed at Bianca's puny attempt to damage him as she hopped backwards, eyeing him cautiously as she awaited his retaliation.

 

OOC: 2 damage from 2 attacks in total.

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Mikaeus hurried to help the begging man up. "Alright, alright, I'll help you get it back. Please, get up on your feet."

 

The man flashed him a grateful smile and started to walk ahead, motioning for him to follow. 

 

"Right, just lead the way…" Mikaeus muttered. He had his misgivings, but the Father wouldn't have it any other way. 

 

DO NOT NEGLECT TO DO GOOD AND TO SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE, FOR SUCH SACRIFICES ARE PLEASING TO GOD.

 

Mikaeus' temples throbbed as he followed the man into an alley, sighing at the inevitable trap this surely was. What did God say about free will again?

 

True enough, as soon as he stepped into the shadow of the alley, two brutes, each wielding a baseball bat, stepped out from behind a dumpster.

 

Does God say anything about idiocy?

 

Silence from the Father. How convenient.

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"A-Annoying?" She repeated, scooting her chair away from him as fast as possible. "You're the one who's breaking into a sleeping girl's home, pervert. Peri-"

 

A flurry of movement erupted behind her back before she even finished her sentence. Peridot materialized right on cue, hovering protectively over his human counterpart, focusing his emerald eyes on the intruder. 

 

"I haven't done anything wrong." Rose frowned puzzledly. "You couldn't have traveled all the way here just to throw some elementary level bullying tactics at me. What's your purpose? Who sent you?"

 

Despite her words, she found herself thinking back and recounting her past words and actions, making sure she hasn't done anything to offend anyone. She hasn't done anything worthy of drawing ire from her fellow group members... or has she? Did the cult catch on to their probing? Was PC Snippet up to his tricks again? Another loud buzz interrupted her thoughts. Isaac's message registered on her screen this time round.

 

> “Hey, I might need a place to stay for a while.â€

 

What's... going on?

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Wham.

 

For such a big guy, it seemed like the Hulk didn't pack a lot of force behind his punches. Bianca winced, lowering the arms she had raised in defense, rushing forwards to deliver another strike. This time, she hit the same spot she had struck earlier, amplifying the force of her punch as the Hulk visibly recoiled backwards. Now wary of her moves, the giant ghost deftly dodged the follow-up strike, wiggling his fingers as an unfortunate dog was lifted from the streets behind Bianca and was tossed into her, knocking her down.

 

"You have got to be kidding me," she hissed, pushing herself off the rocky ground. "This ends now!"

 

She shifted rapidly towards the retreating Hulk, who didn't look as sure as he had looked before. The Stigmata Shroud she wore around her fists erupted into a stream of blood-red ethereal flames that flickered across her arms, as she brought one fierce uppercut upon her opponent's large chin. There was an audible crack, and the Hulk's head lolled back as his ghostly neck was apparently snapped in two by her attack. Bianca roared, as the blood engulfed her entire right arm into a visage of the maw of a dragon, bringing the final punch forwards and struck the ghost square in the chest. A shockwave erupted outwards from the impact zone, melting away the Hulk's ectoplasm until all that was left of him was a little puddle of Plasm on the floor.

 

Breathing heavily, Bianca released the Shroud and squatted down at the pile of disgusting ghost matter, staring at it as shivers went up her spine. She was left with 3 Plasm left; it would be a bad idea to go against the Minister and the enigmatic Uriah without first restocking her reserves. Frankenstein gave her a weird look, as though saying, "Human experimentation and creating homunculi are okay, but eating ghosts? That's sick."

 

She only managed to force herself to eat two mouthfuls before bending over to gag - the corpse tasted like a cross between mucus and slime. Satisfied that she had regained enough Plasm to make up for the earlier two times she had to fight ghosts, Bianca stood up and looked at the warehouse instead, wondering if whoever had sent the note had left any clues behind. She spent a good hour combing the area, but the only things she managed to find were more Plasm and some abstract drawings of genitalia in the bathrooms.

 

Bianca climbed into her truck, belting up as Frankenstein got into the other seat. "Shut up," she muttered to him, turning on the engine and driving home.

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