Hidden 1 mo ago Post by fdeviant
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fdeviant Witch o' the Pineywoods

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Augury

Part 4


Location: Smithy’s Grocery Store, Meat Isle – Las Vegas, Nevada
Time: Late Evening, Present Day




How much could Marie possibly endure? How overwhelmed must she be in the pursuit of her lost memories? What other difficulties need present themselves, and why, before she had achieved her goals? These questions filtered through her mind as her already unstable environment slowly unraveled and devolved into pure chaos. It felt more than she could take.

A searing pain shot through her skull, sending her vision into a flash of hot red and flashing lights. Among the fading sights and sounds of Smithy’s were a collection of figures she hadn’t seen before; men in strange dress holding dated instruments of war. They chanted and bellowed, their screams melding with the unruly wolves and deafening whispers of the Gentry, creating some infernal cacophony that sent Marie spiraling into madness. She placed both hands on her head, trying desperately to will away the invading apparitions.

Holt made an attempt to pull Marie back, to calm her with his presence and cooling words, but to no avail. Everything she had known was gone, all that she had worked for was in jeopardy, and absolutely nothing made sense anymore. The more she dwelled on it, and she had no choice but to entertain these intrusive thoughts, the more pain she felt, the more rage boiled inside her until suddenly the world seemed to melt away. And then . . .

”ENOUGH!”

Her cry sent the world into violent motion, the word dripping with an old, familiar magic. It washed over the store and all its visitors, lashing out wherever it could. The glass casing behind the meat aisle shattered, jagged shards falling with quickened pace. Shelves and their contents fell to the floor. Lights flashed with momentary light before bursting, bathing all in dull sparks. The floor beneath their collection of bodies began to crack, threatening to give at the slightest step. But after this outburst, once the rage had been allowed to escape, Marie seemed her old self once more.

”Marie . . .” Holt said allowed in a raspy voice, conveying shock and surprise in his emotionless way. Assuming the form of a large black dog, not dissimilar from the shapes taken by Marie’s wolf companions, he padded over to her side, soulless eyes staring deep into hers.

Marie did not look at Holt, instead turning her attention to the Ambassador.

”I accept your offer.” she uttered plainly and resolutely.

Holt moved between them to show his disapproval.

”Marie, I implore you to think . . .”

”I already have.” Marie interrupted, turning to face Holt, eyes red and heavy with tears and desperation.

”She’s right, Holt. We have devoted too much time to this for it to fall apart now. I’ve done so much to get to this point, and to think that Gwyneth is so close . . . I can’t throw that away, not now. This isn’t a game anymore or some fanciful dream. I need this. I thought you would understand . . .”

Before Holt could respond, Marie stepped around him, closing the distance between she and the Ambassador, choosing to address her directly. Now only a few steps between them, Marie did something strange. She removed the charm around her neck, her features now clear to all around. Her eyes met the Ambassador’s as she spoke.

”You’re right. Even if it hurts me to say it, you’re right. What happened with J . . . Joseph,” Marie struggled to say his name, voice heavy with a mixture of anger, guilt, and sorrow, ”that was on him. He should have known the consequences of meddling and conjuring something he had no hope to control. You were more cunning in the end, you bested him. It still stings, but I can accept that. Just as I can accept that we’re connected. I have to see this through and if you’re the only way to do that, so be it. I’ll try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.

“But this,”
Marie gestured to the mess around them, to the Dover twins readying for a fight, to the wolves locked in a struggle against Mandate, to the whispering Fey who watched in amusement, ”This has to stop. All the fighting, the threats, the murderous looks, the creepy comments, all of it. And it has to come from all of us.” Marie turned to her comrades, addressing each of them with a look before placing herself between Ben and Mandate.

She knelt down, peering deep into Ben’s eyes as she had done before, bidding him listen to her but speaking loudly enough for all to hear.

”You promised to help me if I helped you in return. I know it must seem like I’m digging a bigger hole for myself, choosing to trust someone who has threatened people you care about, who’s killed someone I once cared for. It doesn’t make much sense, but i need this. I have to know about my past and as it stands, you two are the only ones who can help with that. We can make this work, I promise.”

Marie leaned to place a hand on the side of Ben’s head, trying to use her emotion to send him a mental message like he had sent her the first time they met. She was clearly distraught and filled to the brim with longing. She hoped that he would receive her message well, for everything about her now, her posture, her words, her touch, they all conveyed a single word.

Please.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Indy Cooper
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Indy Cooper Deity-in-training

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Outskirts of Lost Haven

Just after dawn


Berenice winged low over the trees heading east towards the city, working harder than she might otherwise have had due to the number of tiny people riding on her back and in her shirt. Tiny hands gripped feathers, pulling gently but insistently at every wing beat. The weight of them reminded her of her new burden as the wind coursed over her skin. She had to find these people a new home, along with herself. Her nest, the one piece of solidity in her life, had just been utterly ravaged, and worse, had been proven exposed to some unknown enemy. She had caught the meaning of “Sebastian” as an evil person who wanted her for...something.

The siren's brain was fizzing. Over the course of the last month, her awareness of the world had somewhat come back, though she was still as lost as a child. She could communicate, and hunt, and fly, but largely those were her only concerns. The addition of people she actually had to care about and for, the presence of some unknown entity that wished to harm her and her friends, the encounter with the rockman who had been on fire(and what had happened to that nice David man?). All of this was causing no small amount of confusion for her, and feelings that she was completely unfamiliar with. The world was beginning to be a very dangerous place, and she was putting herself at even more risk to protect others. Not that she minded, but she couldn't put into words why she would. It made no sense to her animal brain.

A strong wind blew suddenly from the south, and Berenice was both bearing more weight than usual and distracted by her own thoughts. The gust caught her under the wing and threatened to bowl her over, and a normally quick decision to dive turned to panic as she realised that that would dislodge her passengers. She instead tumbled as gracefully as she could, bearing the brunt of the wind and banking with it. Even so, she could hear the cries of fright from the younger ones. She made a silent thanks to her new friend Eva for having taken the ones who wouldn't have been able to cling on, even as Sunheart, riding on her scalp, leaned down to yell in her ear.

”Great Hawk, it feels there is a storm coming soon! We cannot fly the whole way!”

She turned her head to look south. Eyes adapted to spot prey at great distance noted the roiling clouds that were building over the ocean and she nodded, turning down to the ground and landing as gently as possible on a street. She realised she might cause some commotion, but there seemed to be no one out and about at the moment. Above them, the wind whistled sharply, and she was glad she had decided to heed Sunheart's advice.

”I can't walk around like this. I have to wear the thing Charlie gave me. I don't know if it will cover you, though.”

”Well, we will have to find out, then.” Sunheart turned around and called out down to the rest of the clan that had come with them. ”Prepare to scatter, but don't panic! We will have to track her along the sides if it comes to that! Don't lose each other! At least five to a group!”

A chorus of affirmatives rang up from Berenice's body. She figured there were probably about fifty on her, all weighing but a few grams, but all were survivors. She pulled the little tiara off of her belt where she had tucked it for safekeeping, and noted with some satisfaction that she still had the telling phone that Charlie had given her. She had worried it might have dropped out during their flight from the nest, but apparently some enterprising young rider had secured it with a line.

She began walking down the pavement, remembering from yesterday that the roads were for cars and they grey stone was for people. Charlie had seemed exasperated that she hadn't known, but Charlie was patient with her, and knew that there was much the siren was simply not aware of through lack of experience. Walking was still awkward, but she had confidence that the illusion that her headpiece granted her would mask that.

A few hours passed, and Berenice's stomach growled mightily as she walked. The day grew brighter and brighter, and now there were people walking and driving. They took care to avoid dogs, who seemed overly curious about their little party, but otherwise remained unmolested. The smells down on the ground, as they had yesterday, were intense for someone who generally did not come down this low. Of particular note were the cars and trucks, which caused no end of grief for her as she struggled to not wrinkle her face in disgust at every time one passed. Even those scents, however, did nothing to ease her hunger.

The illusion did seem to cover her friends, as they drew no additional attention, but looking over occasionally at Sunheart, she could tell they were on the edge of panic even if they weren't directly observable. She guessed this was probably the first time any of them had been this exposed in their lives, and they were essentially prisoners on her body, as leaving would make them visible again.
As quietly as she could, she began whsipering to Sunheart, now standing resolute on her shoulder.

”We need to eat. But I have no things to get people food with, and I cannot hunt in the city.”

Sunheart nodded, and began scanning the areas nearby. They were just beginning to cross over a massive bridge, a river running below them towards the sea. The tiny girl pointed towards the edge of the structure.

”If we can get underneath the bridge, you can then hunt in the water while being mostly unobservable. You'll have to be fast, though.”

Berenice moved cautiously to the edge and looked around the fencing preventing people from doing exactly what she was trying to do. There was enough traffic that she couldn't just hop over like she wanted, so she motioned everyone to move to her sides and began squeezing through the gap between the fence and the brick wall of a riverside building. While a tight fit, everyone made it through safely, and she was just preparing to move alongside the outer edge when the squeal of a suddenly braking car echoed along the street. She swiftly made her way back through, anticipating that she had done something not allowed by humans. A car door slammed, and she peered about, looking for the source.

On the other side of the road, a battered but stately old sedan had come to a stop. The driver, an older looking man with a little grey in his brown hair and stubble from more than a few days, was making his way across to her, shouting at cars as they, in turn, honked at him. He wore a button down shirt and dark brown trousers. His face was rugged, tired and worn out looking, but his eyes were steel, and they were looking directly at her. As he crossed the street, he took out a small black rectangle and held it up.

Berenice was frightened. Far more so than she had been when the men last night had been shooting at her. This man wanted something, and she recognised the object inside the rectangle as a police thing, which meant he had authority. The clan had all moved to her back to hide. Only Sunheart stood, grimly hanging onto her hair and leaning against her neck, both a reassuring presence and and advice giver.

”Try to relax. He must want to ask questions, but he doesn't know what you are or that we are here. As long as you give him no reason to suspect anything, we should be free of him quickly.”

The spot she was in, up against the wall, was a small triangle of cement between the street and the fence. The only piece of cover was a bench set to allow people to look out over the river. The feeling of being cornered was not pleasant, but the man didn't look angry or hostile. In fact, he looked worried. He held up his hand placatingly.

“Miss, are you okay?! Do you need-” The concern on his face shifted abruptly to shock, and his jaw actually hung for a second. Berenice, fearing they actually had somehow been seen, tensed, ready to fly at his first movement towards them.

After a moment of recovery, he spoke, almost to himself. “My God, it's you, isn't it?” He did something with his black rectangle, and pulled out a scrap of some sort of paper, almost the same size. Holding it up for a moment, he glanced from the other side of it that Berenice couldn't see, and her face.

“It really is. Oh my God!” Suddenly, his expression changed again, this time to what looked like happy triumph. “I found you! Oh my God, you're alive!”

He seemed to notice the confusion and fear on her face. “Look, okay, Miss Adams, please, could you tell me where you have been for the past month? Oh man, I'm going to need a statement. Shit, you look like hell, I need to call an EMT. Are you alright? Are you hurt?”

He didn't seem like a danger, even nice. The tension left Berenice's shoulders as she said the first thing that popped into her head. ”What's an Adams?”

That stopped him cold in his tracks. His eyes narrowed, searching her up and down. “Do you not know your name? Do you even know where you are?”

Berenice cocked her head to the side. “My name is Berenice. I am in the city. Just like you. Do you know your name?”

For the second time, the man's jaw dropped, though he recovered much quicker. He took one step forward, still holding up his hands, one still clutching the paper. “My name is Detective George Owens, I'm with Lost Haven Police Department. I'm part of the Missing Persons unit. Do you know what that means?”

Berenice knew the word police, though Charlie had used 'cop'. “You are missing?”

“Oh no,” Owens groaned. “Look, just...Are you hurt at all?”

”Nooo,” said Berenice. This conversation was confusing her more than most did, including the explanation of toilets. ”I am not hurt. I am looking for my friends house and something to eat.”

“Okay, okay. I have a sandwich you can have. It's in my car. Just...look at this photo? And I will go get it.” He reached out with the paper, which Berenice gently took. “Just stay right there, okay? I'm going to get you that sandwich.” He turned and ran back across the street, shouting at cars.

Berenice flipped over the scrap of paper and looked at the other side, which was shiny and colourful. She had seen things like this before, it was an image of a person that got printed at paper so you could see them even when they weren't there. The girl in the photo was smiling brightly, green eyes nearly closed. The place she was in must have been sunny, maybe in a park? It was a close up, so she couldn't see the girls body or clothes, but her reddish-blonde hair was pulled up and held by a multitude of colorful pins into an elaborate style.

”Berenice...” Sunheart whispered. Her voice sounded frightened and shocked. ”That is you in the photo.”

”It cannot be me, I have never been in front of a camera.”

”But it is you. That is your face!

Berenice glared up at the man, who was sitting in his car, talking excitedly to a black box. How had he stolen her face? Why did he have it? She was angry. People should not steal faces without consent. It was her face, not his! He had his own!

A few minutes passed, and he had also talked to someone on his own telling phone. Berenice thought about trying to call Charlie, but she figured she should not use Charlie's name in case they thought Charlie was a bad person. The police dealt with bad people, which Charlie was not. She doubted her friend would be happy with the attention, though. She kept saying things like 'low profile'.

The wind felt good as it picked up a bit here on the ground. The salt smell of the sea came through a bit, washing some of the car stink out of her nose. But the smell reminded her that she should have been fishing, and instead was watching this Owens man and waiting for a sandwich. She wasn't even sure what a sandwich was. As he climbed back out of his car and made his way back over to her, she copied what the kids had done when they were impatient and upset, and crossed her arms in front of her.

This time, when he approached, he held up his telling phone for a second. It clicked, and he began typing on it for a split second before he froze. He stood perhaps five feet from her, glancing up at her and then down at his phone. This repeated several times before he stared at her. His eyes were wide.

“What did that bastard do to you?” he said with horror in his voice.

She felt Sunheart duck behind her neck and whisper, ”Your spell! It doesn't work on phones, only on eyes! He knows you have wings!”

Berenice lowered herself slightly, wings flaring. This man seemed nice, but plenty of people, she had been warned time and again by the kids, could seem nice and then suddenly turn cruel. Police were probably no exception. Inadvertantly, she croaked like a distressed crow, causing him to step back a pace.

“Whoa there, hold on! I'm not the enemy here, okay?”

”Why do you have my face? Why are you here?”

“Do you mind calming down? I don't want to hurt you! This is...this is going to take some time to explain. Mind if I sit over there?” He gestured at the bench.

Berenice, unsure of what was happening, nodded once and relaxed slightly, though she was still ready to take flight, disguise be damned.

As he sat, Detective Owens kept looking at her oddly, his eyes a little out of focus. It looked like the disguise might be coming back, but then he looked at his phone again and seemed to see her again. Apparently it only worked if you didn't know it was there. After a moment of gathering his thoughts, he began speaking.

“About a month ago, the girl in the photo there, Gloria Adams, disappeared after her band played a show at a local bar. She had gone home for the night, but never showed up for work the next day. No one could reach her by phone, she wouldn't answer her door. Eventually her friends called us, that is, the police. We got into her apartment, and it looked like she had been attacked. Someone had used magic. There was...well, there wasn't enough blood to know for sure, but a lot of people assumed she was dead. They assigned me to her case, to try and find her.

“I thought I had a lead. There was a man in one of the photos from the show, someone we had seen before on a couple of other cases. Known magic-y guy. Talked to him once before this case. He was sleazy, creepy. Smelled awful, but not in the normal sense. Anyway, I figured he must be our number one suspect, but it turns out he had disappeared as well. The rest of the department chalked it up as him kidnapping the girl and getting out of town. Gave the girl up as dead, murdered. But since the case was still open, I didn't want to give up just yet.

“She had been a good kid. Going to college, working at a local diner. Straight-laced, helped her neighbours. Sort of person I wish we had more of, and I felt she deserved more effort. With all of the things happening, though, it's been all hands on deck. I couldn't spare a lot of time. The city's falling apart. One lone girl doesn't outweigh everyone else. But I've been keeping my eye out. And then, I'm driving out to check on a report, and I see you, climbing through the fence. I think to myself, oh damn, a jumper. Gotta do something.

“And then I see you. Spitting image of Miss Adams. But you don't know anything. Don't even seem to understand half of what I was saying. And I think maybe she's been brainwashed. I don't know jack about magic, it could have happened. And I don't want to think about what that little scumsucker could have done to you. And I radio for help, they're on their way, and I call Miss Adams parents and one of the band girls, and I say I may have found her, I will send you a picture. So I take your picture on my phone, and then I see you. Like, really see you.”

He sighed. A deep, resigned sigh, like he couldn't handle his words but he had to anyway.

“Like I said, I don't know anything about magic. That could just be a face someone sculpted on you, and you have nothing to do with my case. But I can't take that chance. So there's a few things I have to know, Berenice. For one, where do you live?”

The siren had been listening raptly. She could understand why he felt so sad suddenly. She felt bad for this Gloria, but she still didn't see the connection. Sunheart, however, was shaking a little. She couldn't look at her though, and give her away.

”I live outside, towards the setting sun. In the forest.”

Owens nodded, apparently this made a lot of sense to him. “And how long have you been living there?”

”I don't know. Four weeks? Three and a half?”

“And before that, Berenice, where did you live?”

Berenice thought. She though hard, sifting through her memories. There were not very many. ”Nowhere.”

“You were homeless?”

”No. I was nowhere. And then I was there, at my nest.”

“Jesus.” Owens ran a hand through his salted hair, then rubbed his face. He look more tired than he had, older than a few minutes should have made him. “Okay, I am going to ask you to stay here. There are more police coming. We have to figure out what is going on.”

Sunheart tensed at the same time that Berenice did. She knew, from his tone, from the way he was trying not to look directly at her, that they were going to catch her, and put her in a car. And the horror stories the children had told her, about what the Guvment did to people like her, came thronging back in her mind.

She shouted at him. ”No! I will not be cut apart!” It wasn't like her scream, but her emotions caused a bit of the same effect. Owens clapped his hands over his ears as she beat her wings and took off, up and over the fence and out over the water. She looked back once, to see him standing, hands in his pockets, as two police cars pulled up near him, and then she dove around a building and lost sight of him.




Dusk


She had eaten, and so had her charges. Fish had been caught, and she had whipped off her disguise earlier, fearing losing it, and tucked it back in her belt. Now, she sat in a tree in the park. She didn't remember, but her subconscious had guided her to the exact same spot that Charlie and Carrie had seen her the first time.

No one spoke. Unknowingly, she had kept the photograph Owens had made her look at, and now she perched on the hidden branch, staring into what were, if the detective had been right, her own eyes. Sunheart had tried talking to her, as had the rest, but she had ignored them. They had moved up into the branches, hunting bugs for dinner and settling in to camp for the night, though she had heard Sunheart warn them that it was not a permanent camp.

Berenice was trapped in her own thoughts. Try as she might, she couldn't remember anything about anything before she had woken up in the blasted shack that she had made her nest. And now, even that place was lost to her. The times added up with what Owens had said, but if she was this Gloria girl, why couldn't she remember? Even the face looked odd to her. She decided it was the eyes. Those were not her eyes. Her eyes were black and gold, the eagle's colours. These were bright and jade, human colours, colours she did not have.

None of this day was good. Her nest destroyed, her friends lost or driven away, men and monsters hunting her. And she knew that the monster had been sent after her, not anyone else. It had come to her nest. It had been watching her for most of that fight. Salamander knew things he wasn't telling her. That crazy woman Eva had come with probably did too, but she was cold and aloof. No help there. Eva and Charlie were as lost as her. Sunheart and the Clan had lost their home as well.

Berenice stiffened her jaw and looked up into the darkening night sky. Well, she would sleep, and then go to Carrie's. There, the Clan would be safe, and she could take some time and develop a plan. Because, now that she thought about it, it was obvious. Only she could keep her friends safe from the monsters. She would have to find this Sebastian, her father and then get the truth out of him. And after that?

She would make sure there were no more monsters.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Triangle Attack!

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This is an elsewhere story and does not affect canon...yet

“90’s” Aubrey Adkins

Earth-99

3:00 AM, November 1st, 2010

The last couple hours were just a blur to me. I remember heading out to enjoy the Halloween night with some of my friends before everything went blank. It was all over the news a few weeks ago that a police officer had gunned down a metahuman kid. Some people, usually the metahumans, clamored that this was an example of police brutality and a heinous act, since it was perpetrated against a kid. Others, however, pointed out that the kid was a danger to everyone around him, since he lacked any control of his powers and therefore was unintendedly suffocating everyone around him by draining all the oxygen form the air. If the officer had not shot the boy, everyone else in the immediate vicinity would have died. People obviously butted heads over this and got their feelings hurt during arguments. Eventually, the pro-Metahuman side organized a nationwide protest on Halloween night, the one time when you are not looked down upon for dressing up weird (or at least less so than normal). While I’m sure some people had nefarious plans for that Halloween night, I just wanted to show my metahuman pride, especially since I’m stuck as one with no cure in sight.

Once my senses finally came back to me, I discovered that I was on a high-tech train of some sort, along with God knows how many other people. In the passenger car where I was, I saw at least a couple dozen others, mostly people around my age, although there were some exceptions were someone older or younger than the rest of us were present. Everyone, including me, unwillingly wore a high-tech collar around their necks that had a single red light shining from the middle of the device. When I realized that I had my normal, human legs back, something I had not seen since my Senior prom, I guessed that these collars had to be power nullifiers, since packing dozens of metahumans in a single place was not a safe or smart move. But when I tried to lean forward, I felt something yank back on my neck. Not only were we strapped into our seats, as if we were riding in a automobile, but a tether connected our collars to the walls of the passenger car.

I only had enough slack on the restrains to turn my head to peak out the window. Since it was dark out, although I am not quite sure what time it was, I could not discern anything in great detail. In fact, I could not see much of anything except for some lights in the distance. I remember reading about Midas Industries developing some sort of futuristic public transport that was supposed to revolutionize transportation in the United States, but that technology was years away from being feasible, let alone accessible for mass public consumption. Yet here I was, on a trackless train that was decades ahead of its times.

This was the sort of thing that you would expect in a movie. But we live in the real world, where trafficking and the like are illegal. Plus, how would all of our friends and families not realized that all of us were missing? How could anyone just sweep this mess under a rug? How could the heroes of this country not drop whatever they were doing at once and rush out to squash this blatant violation of human rights? Any moment now, Icon or someone else would break into this train, apprehend the villains, and free us.

But nobody came. I guess that too belongs to the realm of fiction.

After sitting there in silence for about an hour, the train finally came to a halt, coming to a rest on the outskirts of some island off the coast of New England, which I would later learn was called Nautican Island. Previously just a backwater, through the investment of companies like Midas Industries, it was proclaimed as the site of the city of tomorrow. As far as I have heard, right now it’s just a luxury resort for those who could afford it.

Suddenly, several men, who were wearing black and white suits, like bodyguard details or Men-in-Black, rushed into passenger car. All of us were startled by their appearance. However, when they were inside, no one could move a muscle except for our eyes. While I peered around, I noticed that the collars that were nullifying our powers now had a green light active. Soon, the men began to call out strings of numbers, which caused some peoples’ restraints to be unlocked. And whoever had their restraints removed, against their will, their bodies rose from their seats and began to walk out of the passenger car in an almost robotic, stiff fashion, as if they were being controlled remotely.

“511 212 992,” one of the men call out. Then I heard my restraints unhook and watched in horror as my body walked out of the car’s doors. Once outside, I caught sight of where everyone’s highjacked bodies were headed. There were dozens of vans and buses parked in front of the futuristic train and everyone were packing into the back of these vehicles. Some were already departing. Whatever their destination was, I had no idea. The van that my body hopped into was already occupied by half dozen other girls around my age who were also in my same position. Once I was inside and taken a seat, the doors to the van slammed shut and the vehicle drove off.

I was not sure how long we sat inside that van, but it was no more than an hour, if not less. But when it did reach its destination, the doors swung back open and we found two women standing in front of the rear exit of the van, a blonde and brunette. The blonde, who was well dressed in business attire, held a bunch of manila folders. From what I could hear from their conversation, those folders must contain information about our powers, although I’m unsure how they would have gathered those details.

“While the rest of them seem fine, the blonde who transforms into a spider seems a little too niche for my business,” the brunette women told the blonde after she had received the manila folders from the blonde. “Plus, her healing factor probably will prove to be problematic.”

“You will be provided with devices that can selectively nullify powers,” The blonde assured the brunette. “Also, her healing factor breaks down alcohol at a significant rate.”

“I’m still not quite convinced.”

“Do you really want to disobey the Triumvirate?” The blonde threatened. The brunette shrunk back away from the women before relenting and agreeing to this shipment of metahumans. She then turned her attention towards the girls, including me, seated in the back of the van.

“Alright, ladies. It’s time to give all of you two-by-fours some extreme make-overs.” The brunette had devilish smile on her face and she rubbed hands together a little too eagerly as she spoke to us. Whatever she means by ‘extreme make-overs’, I can’t be anything good.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by DearTrickster
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Time: Evening - Present Day
Location: Smithy’s Grocery Store, Las Vegas


Calmly The Ambassador brought up a hand and with it a ward, protecting herself from the shattering glass at the White Witch’s expression of frustration. Without a spell, an expression of emotion burst the glass around them. She listened, unfettered by it. Leveling her gaze evenly at the White Witch, a smile curling up when she removed the little charm. The image of Gwyneth unmistakable now. Humility and candor was unexpected, working together will ultimately benefit The Ambassador’s goals but perhaps it would be the perfect opportunity to instill some sense in the young witch. Odette knew had she been this open to anyone else, she’d have surely regretted it. A faerie noble wouldn’t have hesitated to use her words or emotions against her in the most humiliating way possible.

Odette was reminded of her own youthful blunders and decided to be kinder. Lessons would come in due time.

When White Witch moved to Ben to calm him, Odette shared a look with Mandate and Bach. Then with a word in common fey she beckoned the faeries around them to come to her. They went with some hesitation but moved from their perches to stand behind their Ambassador, seemingly melting into the shadows but still very present.

She stowed The Sight back in her purse then stepped up to the struggling Yeong. “Whatever issues you may have with the Fey please take it directly to the offending faerie. I have personally not had dealings with werewolves since...” She began icily then paused, her memory filling in the blanks finally Bach stepped in beside her. “I see now.” She turned to make eye contact with the other twin. “We will have time to discuss. For now, be calm and Mandate will release you.” She said simply, then walked away.

Your resolve is admirable, laying yourself bare as you have. You will find there’s no real need to hide your face, power allows you to move as you are without leaning on a crutch as hiding your identity. But- we all know the power behind a name.” She spoke addressing White Witch, stepping over the bodies to join her at her side observing the wary wolf-boy. Her tone infuriatingly sweet, she had gotten exactly what she wanted. “Trust is quite fragile and difficult to come by, as Gwyneth was sure to make a point of when I spoke to her. If it eases your mind we can shake hands on it?” Odette laughed at the weary reaction she received from the witch. She continued gesturing at White Witch, “You all are only at the beginning of a quest. Several pieces of your soul are scattered, all carrying peculiar properties. Never in one spot for long.

Now that is decided I wish to get a proper look at your… companions.” Like that Odette’s heels clicked as she moved around the wolf approaching The Dover Twins, Bach was at her side keeping an eye on the wolves and vampire for her. The remaining werewolf tensed and growled but didn’t move, while the resident vampire was wondering off searching the aisles. What for, Odette didn’t bother to care.

Their heads bowed, speaking to each other in whispers, they visibly tensed upon her approach. She giggled behind a hand. “You two have looked positively confused throughout this exchange, metahumans I safely presume? With some fluency in French. Your enunciation, it is not horrible.” She tapped her nose.

Bach stared up at them, at Freya. She stared back. He shifted himself, feet apart then grew larger. The sound of bark creaking as he grew doubling in height, after a few seconds he now stood face to face with Freya Dover. Yellowy green eyes staring, his clothes shifted to accommodate his new size. “My, aren’t you a curious one.” He spoke in common fey. His own invisibility persisted to those without sight.

Odette carried on, now aware that Bach was testing a theory. “Interestingly, Ben Dover, I have been diversifying my alliances, working with metahumans to some degree of success. Tell me, what stake do you have in this?” She said, polite and pleasant.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by fdeviant
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fdeviant Witch o' the Pineywoods

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Witching Hour

Part III


Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, The Witches Stronghold
Time: 11:59 p.m., Present Day




A sharp chill ran through the Earth, the blood of lost brothers staining hearts with visceral remorse. Tears collected in the eyes of the unknown, threatening to make these dry lands completely barren. The once lively halls of the Witch-Mother’s Stronghold, a deep temple of elegant marble and golden brandishing, was reduced to ash and rot, visibly in mourning of the lives it had lost. There Medea lie in wait for her mistress’s return, plotting and scheming her revenge on the Hounds.

Soon enough, a dark mist overtook the grand halls, coalescing into a feminine mass just above the scrying pool at the room’s center. Hekate’s pale features emerged from the shadows, arms wide in a welcoming embrace to her beautiful daughter.

”My love,” Hekate beckoned to Medea, drawing her into her arms, their warmth a momentary reprieve from the cold depths of sorrow.

”My Lady,” Medea leapt into her arms, head nestled against Hekate’s neck. They were truly like mother and child. ”I thought you might not return to this pit of waste. How dare Barron call you away in our time of need, the fool.”

Hekate smiled, cupping Medea’s head in her left hand, the right wiping away slow tears and running through her auburn hair.

”Now now, Medea. I have placed myself at Mr. Vanderbilt’s disposal, and given our most recent tragedy, he was right to call upon me. There is much he and I have left to discuss, but worry not. You and I will not soon be parted, there is far too much work to be done.”

Leaving Medea’s side, Hekate waltzed over to the farthest corner of the temple room. This was the inner workings of the Five Families of Las Vegas, A central stronghold meant to house their combined secrets, the greatest of which happened to be Hekate, the Witch-Mother. Inside her dwelling, Hekate possessed all manner of witchly artefacts and curios relating to the Five and their long histories. A sprawling library of magical literature, both practical and theoretical, a collection altars dedicated to the Craft and its many forms, a station for alchemical experimentation and ritual conjurations, and a central pool used for divinatory purposes.

In this corner, however, there lay a large desk filled with papers and random knick-knacks obtained from Hekate and Barron’s informants. At the top of a stack of files, Hekate found a field report detailing the damages caused in the recent Hound attacks on Pixy Stix and the Adessi clan. Next to these were two items of import: a broken iron cross with esoteric engravings, and two dented bullet casings set in silver, each producing a faint glint of something Otherworldly.

”A mage from the Wyrdhouse delivered those while you were away.” Medea joined Hekate, staring down at the upsetting configuration of death, reduced to names on a sheet of paper. ”I told her that you were busy, but she seemed quite adamant that you see these right away.”

Hekate held a ghastly expression, mouth agape, hands quivering, a mixture of fear and rage pooling in her core.

”My Lady?” Medea spoke sheepishly, taking note of Hekate’s stance.

”H-H-How?” Hekate spoke in a whisper, voice beginning to shake. ”I thought they had been destroyed, no, I made sure of it . . . How in the name of Zeus did those impudent, disgusting worms manage to slither their way out of Tartarus to defy me again!”

Hekate flew into a rage, tossing her arm over the table, sending everything sprawling onto the floor. When she caught the glint of the cross and the silver bullets, she made a fist, causing the items to spark violently before reducing them to ash.

”My Lady, what is it? What’s wrong, who are you talking about?” Medea confusedly reacted to Hekate’s enraged display of emotion.

Hekate calmed herself, reigning in her rage and fear. This wasn’t the time for an outburst. Swift action was required lest more lives be taken. She took Medea by the shoulders and led her to the scrying pool, sitting both of them down on its ledge.

”Very few remember the tales, for few who met their gaze survived,” Hekate began, her tone low and serious. ”They were a plague forgotten by history, one which I helped to eradicate myself. They swept over the land with great efficiency, dwindling our numbers in the Old World by the hundreds. I had thought their order long dead . . .”

Medea looked into Hekate’s eyes, recognizing the sheer terror therein, something she had never seen in those eyes before. It mimicked the fear and panic she’d felt from her days in Corinth. .

”I have scarcely seen you like this, My Lady. Of whom do you speak?”

Hekate’s voice remained low and grim.

”The most notorious band of witch-hunters to ever curse this Earth . . . The Winter Court.”
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Rtron
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Rtron Lord of Mordor

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The Dover Twins


Ben's Current Power set

-2x human Speed
-Mandate's Strength
-Mandate's Durability.

The Dover Twins' flagging faith in their allies fell further as all hell broke loose. The Ambassador and Mandate made a bluff against them (Freya snorted at this, earning a sharp glance from Ben to silence her) and the two of the wolves rushed the golem and the witch, only to be stopped by magic and physical means. Freya sighed. "Does no one listen to me when I talk?" Her brother gestured and they stepped a few more feet away, conferring. "We need to leave." He said, looking over at the mess behind them. "These kids don't even know how to handle their powers, their emotions, and they have no sense a situation. They're going to get us killed in their fights. You saw how easily they were shut down by Mandate and the Ambassador. You think we would have made much of a difference?" Freya shook her head, vehemently. "We can't do that. Even if we decide to bail on these wolves, we still need to stick with the only person still sensible," She gestured to Marie, "and we need to get our foot in the door with those two if we decide to bail on our original group."

She and Ben flinched and covered, Ben blocking Freya with his body,as Marie screamed and devastated the area around her. They looked at her in mild surprise, holding their hands up as if to say 'hey, we just got here, we're innocent', as she addressed them. "Sensible huh?" Freya glared up at him. "Aside from that outburst, what she said makes sense. She needs help, and The Ambassador will only hinder her. Though, she didn't indicate either way if she's fallen for the bluff." Ben shook his head in frustration. "Fine. Lets just play our cards close to our chest, alright? I don't want this Ambassador and her pet enforcer to know too much about us, or to get too interested in us."

As if saying her name summoned her, the witch in question approached them. They tensed, expecting a fight or a cutting word. Freya managed a smile at her compliment about her French. "Thank you. I've been told that I speak like a native. It is amazing the things you pick up on the streets." She nodded in response to the question. "We're not supers with magic, so this is all extremely confusing. Needless to say, we're glad it didn't come to a fight we weren't prepared for." She got the feeling someone was watching her, and moved her eyes towards the spot where she thought it was coming from. Suddenly a fey (at least she assumed that's what it was) appeared in front of her, and grew.

Freya fell back with a yelp, eyes wide. He spoke to her, in a language she hadn't heard before. Remembering Ben's plan, she quelled the initial impulse to respond in his own language,her mouth opening and closing. She was still very alarmed, as anyone in their right mind would be when a fey appears in front of them, and babbled out questions. "Uuuuh Ambassador? Who is that? Is that a Fey? What is it saying? Can I only see it? What does it want?" She waved her hand in front of herself, and watched as Bach took a step backwards to avoid being touched.

Ben looked down in surprise at the Ambassador. He was used to people addressing their questions to Freya, ignoring him as the quiet muscle. "They have a favor they want done, we have a favor we want done. Our's didn't have a time frame, so we helped them first." He shrugged. "Nothing more than that." He looked over at his sister as she fell back with a yelp, beginning to babble out questions towards the Ambassador. He looked down at the witch, eyebrows raised in question.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by DearTrickster
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DearTrickster The Quiet Sinner

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---


Time: The Next Day - Morning After LHU Attack
Location: Berenice’s Nest, Carver (Outside of Lost Haven)


The dawn crept up over the horizon and with it Charlie’s bleary eyes cracked open, pinpricks of chest pain roused her from a deep sleep. It took several moments of quiet then recollection for the young alchemist to finally wake up, shaking the lingering effects of medicine. She dug a heel into her eye rubbing away the grit. She sorely turned her head to the side to see water and some more medicine waiting for her on the nightstand. She gulped down the non-drowsy painkillers. The sounds of early morning training came floating through the house, automatically her feet kicked out from the blankets. She dressed slowly, stretching what muscles she could without strain. Charlie drifted through the hallway, morning light tracing up the walls. She found Nathaniel in the kitchen watering his herbal garden. He said a chipper good morning passing her a fresh cup of coffee.

“How’d you sleep?” He asked, humming away.

Like a log.” She replied stirring in some sugar and a little cream, sitting at the table with a grunt. “Mom outside with Harry?

He nodded, “They just finished warmups, what’s up kiddo?”

Need to check in on Berry, so I was gonna ask Mom to come with me to meet her.

Nathaniel looked concerned dropping some bread in the toaster, slicing up some fruit, the paring knife gliding through the apple, “Are you sure she can’t wait another day?”

Charlie sipped her coffee and shook her head, “I was planning to go yesterday and well, that obviously didn’t happen.” She snorted then sipped again, sighing with relief. She caught her Grandpa’s worry with a smirk, the swelling on her lip had turned into a yellow-green bruise while her black eye had turned a deep purple. “Relax Gramps, I’m asking mom to come with me, I won’t be lone wolfing it.

He nodded passing a plate of buttered toast and fruit in front of her. “Well, don’t push yourself.”

Charlie flapped her free hand at him, “Yeah I know. Thanks for breakfast.” She scarfed down the best she could with one free hand, leaving her arm in the sling. Shortly after she finished eating she found her sister and mom, she convinced her mom to come with her back to Carver to meet Berry.

While her body ached to spend the day in bed in a medicated haze, Charlie was quite frankly scared to have time to dwell on yesterday. Understandably it’s all the news and radio could talk about, but she really wanted some distance from it. The week she was having had no room for normal at this rate.

It took little to convince her mother to help her, Jules was curious to meet Berry herself. Harry reiterated how much she wanted a feather. They drove together to Carver, the pair of alchemists brought their staves regardless of anticipating to be among friends. Charlie was in a pair of shorts, the heat of the day already apparent before noon. A loose t-shirt easy to slip in and out of.

She had promised Berry she’d be back in some form, to check in on them and she fully intended to keep that promise.

They drove without the radio on, Jules asked about Berry and what to expect. Jules mentioned her own experience in the strange, having dealt with her own supernatural creatures and being pulled into witch’s business, herself. It gave her worldview a shake every time.

You’ll like her.” Charlie said easing out of the passenger side after Jules parked into the hiker’s lot. “Despite being, like, a conglomeration of nightmarefuel she’s good. After thinking about it the past couple of days now, I want to make sure that’s not ruined for her.

Jules nodded gesturing for her to lead the way, Charlie hiked on a fraction of the pace she usually set. They rested a handful of times, letting Charlie have small breaks. Her ribs forcing her to go slow. When they arrived to the clearing, she looked up to the sky shielding her eyes against the sun.

Jules gave a good look around as well, “Is... that supposed to be the ‘nest’?” She pointed.

Charlie squinted, there hadn’t really been walls to speak of when she was here last but it was significantly less, that could be seen from a distance. “Something’s not right.” Charlie said picking up her pace with grunt.

When they finally approached Berry’s nest, it became alarmingly clear that a fight had broken out here. Charlie crouched picking up shiny bullet casings, seeing the claw marks on what remained of the walls, unknown amount of gore piled on the far otherside. Treasures were missing from their lines, the nest was cold and dry. Panic gripped Charlie, “What the fuck happened!

Jules calmly reminded her, “Call the phone, Char. I’m not seeing any bodies... just some rotting flesh.” Jules picked her way over to it lifting her shirt to cover her nose, it rank of death, “It doesn’t look good but I think she escaped whatever was here.”

Goddamnit.” She cursed again, pulling her cellphone from her back pocket. The button tone blipping through the address book. “Fuck me.

She waited impatiently for the line to ring, her grip on the phone tight when it finally answered with a squawk and a faint hello? Charlie sighed with relief.

"C'mere Berry, you're holding it upside down."

“Hello? Charlie?” Carrie’s familiar voice spoke again. “Hey girl!”

Carrie! Is Berr-

She heard Berry’s voice audible in the background calling for Car-Lee, a symphony of animal voices followed and soon Charlie was smiling. “One sec, Char. It’s a zoo in here this morning!”

Charlie turned smiling at her mom, her cheeks touched with red. Jules smiled too.

Isn’t it always though?” She laughed.

“Yeah! Guys! Please shh!” Carrie called and the noise quieted. “Anyway, yes. Berry is here, and she is okay. What about you? I wasn’t expecting to hear from you for a few days, I even started a little care package.”

Charlie had gotten a text from Carrie yesterday, Carrie had guessed of her involvement at the school then checked in. Charlie managed a reply but hadn’t actually spoken with her friend. “Good, that’s good. I’m at her nest right now and I freaked out. Something attacked the cliffside, there’s bullet casings, rotting flesh, huge claw marks. It’s a fucking mess, I assumed the worst.

“She’s alright-”

I’ll be right there, my mom is with me so we’ll be there sooner than usual.” Charlie said turning on her heel and beckoning her mom.

“That’s not necessary!”

Charlie stopped, sharing a look of confusion with her mom. “What do you mean?

Carrie breathed then said, “I can handle this side of things, Char. I mean it. You’ve got more than enough on your plate.”

Charlie rolled her eyes, “Please, I can help-

“Don’t push yourself!” She snapped, then said quietly, “Charlie you were just in a school shooting yesterday, you can’t go running between Berry and Maddi. Hell, what are you even doing out of the house right now?” A pause hung between the two, “...They both need our help and both are important. You are one person and so am I. I’ll take care of Berry for now, but you need to see to Maddi.”

Charlie about to reply then her brow furrowed, the facts obvious now, “You don’t need to remind me. But... I- thanks Carrie. I just-

“It’s okay, Char. I’m so relieved to hear your voice, come visit when you can. But don’t worry about us here. Okay?” Carrie asked, warm and so sincere. Charlie felt a wave of emotion hit her in the chest.

Charlie was nodding then, sniffed, “Okay, I will. Tell Berry I said hi, keep me posted.

“Of course, please please be careful.”

I promise.

Charlie ended the call wiping her arm over her eyes, she took a deep a breath as she could in. Jules came up beside her, patting her good shoulder. Without hesitation she asked, “Where are we heading?”

Shadow of the Moon, I need to see Madalena.” Charlie replied, her eyes clear of tears.
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Hidden 29 days ago 29 days ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Fallenreaper ღ~Lil' Emotional Cocktail~ღ

Member Seen 9 hrs ago



Location: Smithy's drug and grocery store, Las Vegas

Time: Evening





Ben heard Ji’s cry, but he ignored it.

His muscles rippled under his fur as his paws hit the tile floor. Each lunge propelled him forward, cutting down the distance fairly quickly. Like track shoes, his claws prevented him from tumbling muzzle over tail.

Benjamin’s attention narrowed on the item underneath Mandate’s foot. It was the only thing that mattered. The instinct to protect his pack mate drove him onward. His nostrils flared, drawing in more breath with each inhale. His inner wolf demanded he go faster.

When Yeong went for his neck, Benjamin twitched. He had been ready for this.

Impulsively, his neck jerked out what little fur she could grasp away. The scruff snapped back like a rubber band. His black lip curled, exposing the white fangs, followed by a rumbling growl. It vibrated his whole throat. Ears pinned back against his skull and eyes widened in anger. Benjamin’s scent washed over Yeong, increasing his intimidation.

A magical scent hit him.

It appeared right in front of him causing Benjamin to abruptly come to a halt, he tried to turn on a dime. His paws skidded across the floor as he darted to the right, following the cup-shaped gush’s edge. The wind brushed his fur, tossing sections wildly. He slammed into the open coolers. Immediately his mass toppled over the barrier and landed in the fresh meat section. His head hit the railing, becoming dazed by the impact. Benjamin rattled his head trying to regain his awareness.

His ears caught the sounds of struggles between Yeong and Mandate. Immediately he struggled to get up. His paws slipped among the various plastic packages. They squished and slid whenever he tried to push upright. Each time he fell, he gave an irritated snarl.

”ENOUGH!”

The feminine voice echoed through his skull.

Energy exploded glass and mirror all around the pup. The shards showered over him, salted into his thick fur and lacerated the skin underneath. His eyes stung most notably from a shard deep in the right eye's edge. Blood trickled down his cheek, staining the blond fur slightly red.

As Benjamin finally managed to step out of the open cooler, he cautiously moved toward Mandate. He didn’t care he was bleeding at the eye or he couldn’t see straight. All that mattered was protecting his pack.

When Marie stepped between them, Benjamin paused. He stiffened in confusion at her actions. A small, weak growl started before it ceased at her words.

”You promised to help me if I helped you in return. I know it must seem like I’m digging a bigger hole for myself, choosing to trust someone who has threatened people you care about, who’s killed someone I once cared for. It doesn’t make much sense, but I need this. I have to know about my past and as it stands, you two are the only ones who can help with that. We can make this work, I promise.”

Benjamin didn’t flinch when she placed her hand upon his matted fur. Her emotions caused him to whimper. His paws shifted uncomfortably as he leaned into her face, applying gentle pressure. A large tongue darted over Marie’s cheek.

Please.

Protect you. Pack is life… all that matters.

Benjamin’s words rippled into Marie’s mind. His sense of responsibility poured into her core. It came from a creature that thrived on a social existence. Dependent on others as they were on him. They lived, died and protected each other because it was their nature.

Anything else felt… wrong.

The mindset of a wolf was difficult to express in human terms. For Marie, the sensation would be overwhelming. A complete and absolute devotion to his pack mate. There was no question about why the item was important to her, only that without it she was incomplete. Just like him. It was a rare loyalty that only a werewolf, or their kin, could ever show.

It would also be very clear her carelessness could kill him.

“Trust is quite fragile and difficult to come by, as Gwyneth was sure to make a point of when I spoke to her. If it eases your mind we can shake hands on it?”

Benjamin growled softly.

His fur stood on end as his nose caught the whiff of Odette, ignoring the allure to it. He snorted then stared at the woman lingering beside Marie. An irritated and tolerant voice edged into Odette’s head.

No closer…

“You all are only at the beginning of a quest. Several pieces of your soul are scattered, all carrying peculiar properties. Never in one spot for long.” Odette’s voice continued to grate on Benjamin’s patience.

If it wasn’t for the fact Marie was touching him, the wolf might’ve forgotten her disapproval about his attacking. When Bach passed, another low warning growl vibrated through Benjamin’s throat. However, he remained close to Marie and aimed to not upset her more.

He twisted about to stand at Marie’s side. The werewolf’s body half curled about the witch as his side pressed to hers, much like he would to another werewolf. He watched the Ambassador and her unseen companion converse with the Dover Twins.

When Freya’s questions poured out, Benjamin snorted. His eyes shifted to Marie as his deep voice rattled in her head.

Too long…

Marie would get the impression he was referring to how long it took for someone else to notice Bach. A slight annoyance because he noticed the Fey the moment Odette and Mandate revealed themselves.
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Hidden 23 days ago Post by fdeviant
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fdeviant Witch o' the Pineywoods

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Judge and Jury

Part II, A Friendly Fiend


Location: Shadow of the Moon Occult Curiosities – Chinatown, Lost Haven
Time: 2 p.m., Day After the Attack on LHU




Charlie leaned her head against the window staring out at the traffic around them, plenty of pedestrians carrying on about their days. Some hauled brown grocery bags overflowing with food in two arms, teenagers dodged people on their bikes and skateboards, street performers played their instruments for change. The routine of the city bustle as calming as the rhythm of a heart beat. The alchemist was never one for people watching, detail orientated in every sense of the word, aware of her surroundings that gave her an edge in scavenging whatever the city abandoned. She knew something deep in the marrow of bones was changed, but the city persisted with its normal.

Hey mom, drop me off a couple blocks away. Just to be safe.” Charlie said suddenly, there was no telling who had eyes on the shop. “I’ll walk from there.

Jules pulled off the street idling in front of a barber’s shop, she drummed her fingers across the steering wheel. Her expression difficult to read. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come?”

Charlie opened her door stepping out, “Nah, it’ll be alright mom. Just gotta catch up with Maddi. See how she’s doing after her shop got trashed.

“It was attacked by the Hounds though, so are you sure?” Jules asked, one more time.

Charlie nodded, grabbing her staff from the back. “I’m sure.” She said again.
Jules nodded then said, “Call me when you’re done, we’ll meet here.”

Charlie nodded then closed the door waving her off as she drove back into traffic. She jaywalked across the street, moving into the crowd avoiding curious eyes who caught her arm in a sling or her black eye. She walked on heading to Shadow of the Moon.

A few blocks away, Shadow of the Moon stood proud and polished. Like the phoenix rises from the ashes, this curious little brick and mortar sprang to life after its recent destruction by the Hounds, sporting new furnishings and displays that had been waiting in the stockroom for months. Inside, Madalena was hard at work.

Burning braziers filled the store with pungent fumes, an odd mixture of sweet and sour; every entrance, including the windows, were marked with discrete glyphs assumed to banish or ward against harm and lined with powdery streaks of black salt and red brick dust; talismans formed of bone, iron, and wood hung from wall mounts, light fixtures, and the air vents; and at the center of it all, Madalena loomed over a bubbling pot seated just above an open flame. Nearby were a collection of alchemical apparati filled with herbs and essences used in previous experiments.

Hearing the shrill ding of the door, Madalena cautiously arose to find, much to her relief, Charlie Croll. It had been two days since their introduction, but already Madalena felt close to her. Of course, that’s just how things went with Maddi. A minute alone and you’re going to each other’s wedding.

“Charlie!” Madalena exclaimed, voice rising as she reached the -lie in Charlie. Maddi ran from her station behind the counter to embrace her newest friend, but stopped once she’d taken a good look.

”Oh good lord, girl. What happened?” Madalena hastily inquired, at the time unaware of Charlie’s earlier ordeal.

The shop was something out of a story, the smells, the sights of a witch at her bubbling cauldron. If she hadn’t walked in from a hot summer day, she’d have guessed she waltzed into a Halloween special. Seeing the shop bouncing back in full force brightened Charlie’s disposition immensely. When Maddi asked what had happened she frowned glancing away, eyes examining the shop. “Hey Maddi. Uh- well. You’ve heard about what happened at the University right? The big scale shitstorm the Hounds were behind?

Madalena’s expression went grim as her eyes opened wider in realization. It hadn’t occurred to her that Charlie was active at LHU. She’d just escaped one run-in with the Hounds, and now her friends were being persecuted by them in greater numbers.

”I-I’m so sorry,” Maddi stuttered sympathetically. ”I, uh, I saw the headlines late last night. It’s . . .” Madalena could feel herself becoming emotional, but reigned in her tears. The Hounds wouldn’t turn her into a babbling child. Her sadness quickly turned to fierce determination.

Madalena placed a hand around Charlie’s good arm.

”Those bastards won’t keep getting away with this, we’ll make sure of that!”

Charlie would later find real appreciation for Maddi’s fervent sympathy but now Charlie just felt like it was all still happening to someone else. Her skin prickled under Maddi’s touch, she felt goosebumps rising over her arm. She smiled, largely for Maddi’s benefit. Charlie nodded, “Yeah, you bet. That’s why I’m here, we need to figure out how to take them down a few pegs in a real way. I stole some of their tech yesterday, whatever it is they used to hurt us with those shoddy towers.” She walked into the store looking around heading to take a closer look at the alchemy, taking a deep breath in wincing from her ribs. She snuck a peek at the cauldron. “You’ve got a witchy brew happening? What’re you making?

Madalena sighed, taking her position back over the concoction.

”It’s part of a poultice I’m working on but I can’t seem to get this part right.” Madalena produced a comically large, black, leather bound book from behind the counter, pointing to a series of illustrations detailing the creation of a herbal poultice. To the side were markings and instructions written in a nonhuman or otherwise long dead tongue.

”The eighth step calls for a ‘black pearl’, or I guess that’s what it wants. Doesn’t translate quite right. Anyhow, it’s like a little marble of congealed organic matter left over from animal bits, but I can’t get this slop to congeal.” Madalena gave Charlie a pouty look. She shouldn’t have expected this path to come easily, but had been lulled into a false sense of security by the string of witching successes she’d had up to now.

Charlie leaned over the book then looked into the cauldron, “I’m not any sort of expert where witchy woo is concerned but it sounds like your soup needs some starch.” She stared then amended, “Metaphorically, I mean. What have you got in there, right now, specifically? Maybe I can help thicken it up.

She stopped and laughed at herself, “Oh my god, add that to the list of things I never thought I’d hear myself saying. I mean - well  anything that I can do myself without interrupting the brew directly.
Charlie offered without really knowing what she’d be helping with. She often found herself lost where Carrie had needed help in any of her own magic deeds.

Madalena looked at Charlie for several moments before her face lit up.

”Wait!” Maddi exclaimed, gesturing toward a partially full retort opposite the small cauldron. ”I was supposed to collect some sort of red dust from the vapors that condensed in this thing, but most of what I collected was still very liquid. Maybe if I got that sorted, the dust would help the brew coagulate?” Madalena looked hopefully at Charlie, counting on her superior knowledge of alchemy and chemistry.

Charlie perked looking to where she pointed. “Now that is something I can help do. So we just need to dry this red dust liquid up. Easy.” She replied, confident. She laid her staff aside, reaching past Madalena for some paper and a pen. “Do you have any gloves? Or is it safe to touch directly?” She began scribbling her alchemic formula for changing of elemental state and isolation. What elements she was isolating would be the mystery.

Madalena moved in closer to watch Charlie’s process.

”The glass has gone cool now and the liquid feels warm and a little coarse, if that’s possible, but it ought to be safe.”

Glass, gotcha. Okay so we’ve got sodium carbonate, silicon dioxide. . .” Her tongue stuck out the side as she completed the formula, she often translated chemical composites into alchemical symbols. Her mother taught her daughters to use chemistry formulas while Nathaniel was a traditionalist in writing alchemy in the old way. Charlie used both interchangeably, irking both of her teachers.

Charlie leaned back to show Madalena, “How much do you think you’ll need? I can measure it out in ounces.

”Hmmm . . .” Madalena hummed, following the spell’s instructions back to a previous step. She had some trouble finding the exact measurements the first time around. ”I wanna say it’s three ounces. What do you think?” Maddi pointed to the instructions for producing the red dust, referred to as some complex arcane name on paper. The section was written in primarily alchemical text, some of the symbols appearing as their more archaic or uncommon cousins.

It says so right there, see that symbol?” She poked the page with her index finger, closer still, “It means a few things but within context of the rest of what it says here, I’ll safely say you’ll need at least five ounces. I’ll transmute a little bit more just in case.

Sound good?

Madalena nodded, lowering down behind the counter so as to be eye level with Charlie’s transmutation. She’d witnessed it before when Charlie and Carrie helped but that store back together, but this time it felt more involved. It was a skill Maddi hopped to one day acquire, or at least develop her own version of it.

Charlie swallowed shuffling her work overtop of the container, she felt a twinge of nerves. Not used to having an audience, Maddi’s attention was flattering but stage fright casted a little doubt. “Alright, here we go.

She stretched her hand forward dipping her fingers directly into the substance. It’s texture strange and cool, the alchemical symbols glowed across the paper from left to right. Charlie concentrated, transmuting it from it’s liquid state to solid. Before Maddi’s eyes the red dust shrivelled, rippling, collecting in a pile of it’s purer form. True dust.

Charlie removed her hand, it felt gritty between her fingers. “There we go, some starch.

Madalena jumped and applauded, rattling a few of the containers on the counter.

”Yes ma’am! Okay wait . . .” Madalena held up a finger, using her other hand to pour the collector full of dust into the cauldron. She stirred clockwise nine times as directed before small lumps began to form in the mixture.

”That’s it!” Maddi squealed, lighting a match and dropping it into the mixture, causing remaining liquid to instantly ignite and evaporate, sending a jet of hot air upwards into her and Charlie’s faces. At the bottom of the pot were six pearlescent black beads.

”We did it!” Madalena exclaimed once again, her exuberant outbursts lifting the ominous air of the store considerably.

The alchemist laughed heartily, brushing some of her hair back into place and out of her face. A blush had bloomed across her cheeks, “That was awesome!” She leaned over the cauldron looking at the little beads, “They’re so pretty and tiny. What’re they even for? Don’t tell me they’re fancy, like, tapioca pearls.” She joked, beaming at Madalena.

Madalena fished the pearls from the cauldron and set them on a square of cloth.  ”From what I’ve read, black pearls retain little pieces of life essence. They’re fairly rare nowadays, but they’ve got a few nifty uses.”

Madalena pulled another book from behind the counter, this one much smaller than the last and, instead of being hand written, was clearly printed, likely a later copy of a much older original work. The pages were ratty and worn and the cover was falling apart. Madalena skimmed the pages, looking for the section she’d read earlier that day.

”Here we go,” she said aloud, finding the page near the end of the book. ”Black pearls, or blood jewels as they are less commonly known, can be used to provide sustenance to the dead. Shattering one in the presence of a spirit will grant it strength and the ability to manifest for long periods of time . . . useful.” Madalena nodded, looking further down the page. Her eyes lit up when she read the next passage.

Then, she closed the book, no speaking another word. Instead, she took a stuffed crow a decorative display next to the register and set it on the counter between them. She’d stolen at a flea market when she was twelve, whom she named Edgar for obvious reasons, and kept it as a trophy of her nimble hands for years.

”They can also be used to do this.” Madalena tucked the pearl inside Edgar’s mouth and set him back down. For a moment, all was the same. But slowly, his waxy feathers and glossy eyes were filled with life. The crow loosened himself from the stand he’d sat perched on for decades, looking up at Madalena and Charlie with a cheerful expression, cawing his approval.

Charlie blinked down at the revived bird, she looked back up to Madalena then said, quite dryly, “That is creepy, ridiculously weird and fucking awesome.

She reached out petting the crow’s head, scratching around his head, the feathers were soft and vibrant as ever. Like it hadn’t been sitting pretty for any length of time. It was incredible. “So weird. . .” She mumbled, smiling.

”Ah, the wonders of comradery,” a sinister voice echoed through Shadow of the Moon, pouring from the shadows in the smallest crevices, filling the air with a thick, black haze.

Shadows and embers from now dim braziers began to coalesce, burning brighter until a fiendish giant emerged, skin pale and bathed in ghastly luminescence, angular features beautifully sculpted, sharp, protrusive antlers the color of night, and hands that stretched into lengthy, ashen claws.

”I see you’ve found an ally to our cause, Madalena. Well done,” the creature congratulated Maddi, sporting an eerie smile that evoked feelings of unease in all who did not know it.

”Oh, it was nothing!” Madalena blushed, taking note of Charlie’s visible discomfort. ”Charlie, I introduce you to the one, the only, Robin Goodfellow, or as he’s more affectionately known, Puck.”

At the illustrious emergence of Puck filtered through the light and shadows of the occult shop, what felt like warmth was sucked out of the atmosphere for the alchemist. She flinched back with a start, eyes tracking up the towering figure of Puck. Her sight blurred at the edges, fear sharpening every detail. Her throat squeezed dry. Skin prickling with goosebumps.

Calm, calm, calm…! Charlie thought but her heart thundered on. She reached for her staff with her free hand eyes glued to the demonic figure. While Maddi had assured Charlie this was Puck, the very same spirit that gave Maddi her magic awakening, this drawn out fear was instinctual. It felt like it was spiraling out of control, a reaction surprising even herself.

H-h-...” She clasped her staff, white knuckling it. She gulped down air, “C-can I get s-s-s…” Her teeth clattered, “S-some space. Please.” She tore her eyes away, squeezing them shut.

Puck distanced himself from Charlie, bowing in both an introductory and apologetic fashion.

”Forgive me, love.” Puck’s voice held less weight but carried an eerie air nonetheless. ”I meant no offense. Indeed, ‘twas quite the frightening entrance for the unsuspecting bystander. Perhaps I can redeem myself with a gesture of good faith?”

Puck brought up a hand, dark claws elegantly rising through the air, his palm facing Charlie. A warmth would fall over the frightened girl, traveling up through the spine, spreading to each extremity one at a time, washing over her wounds, the sore ribs, the bum arm, the black eye, all fading as his arm came down to its resting position.

Charlie moved her arm testing it patting her ribs feeling no pain. She turned to look to Madalena, shocked. She took a deep breath in and let out a sigh of pain free relief. Fear dissipated. A smirk tugged at her lips, “Thank you, Robin Goodfellow. I’m usually not this easy to scare, had a bad day yesterday. My name is Charlie Croll.” She said sticking her hand out, “I only heard about you the other day.

Puck let show his impish grin once more, the name Croll fresh on his mind.

”Croll, eh? No doubt a descendant of Nathaniel Croll? I know the work of your family well; it has brought much business to my tavern from aspiring alchemists and nascent witches looking for alchemical formulas and rare reagents travelling through channels established by Nathaniel. Give him my thanks when next you meet.”

Puck repositioned himself, moving closer to the duo and staring amusedly at the reanimated crow, Edgar.  

Charlie’s expression brightened, “Yeah, that’s my grandpa. He’s my mentor, along with my mom.” She turned to Madalena for clarification and more than happy to talk about her family. “My grandfather, Nathaniel Croll is the first real prodigy in my family for, probably before we immigrated to America. Established us here in Lost Haven, immigrated my entire family from Germany including,” Charlie said with a grin gesturing with her staff, “All the history that we thought we lost after World War 2. Like Puck said, er Robin Goodfellow, sorry. He helped make Lost Haven accessible to alchemists.

She added, “And the best damn cook on the block.” Charlie grinned.

Maddi smiled. ”Well he’s done wonders with you, Charlie. Wish I could say the same about my family. I think my twice great grandmother was a medium in New Orleans . . . or maybe she saw a medium in New Orleans?” Madalena trailed off as she was often want to do, trying to recall details about her family history, but finding no useful information to add.

”You bear the witches mark,” Puck interrupted, stepping behind the counter and peering down at the pearls sat atop it, only five left after Madalena’s demonstration. ”You are the first of your kind, Madalena, the beginning of your legacy. I have set you on a path of great success . . . but what I have seen will not come to pass until our plans are complete, and I fear we have a great deal more worrying to do. Have you crafted the poultice I mentioned?” Puck’s tone was almost fatherly, a sharp contrast to that at his arrival.

”It’s nearly done,” Madalena replied, pushing the cauldron to the side and replacing it with a mesh bag prefilled with poisons and herbs. She dropped in three black pearls, sealing the contents with a neat ribbon. She whispered a short incantation into the poultice, something strange and unnatural sounding, each word passing her lips like the cry of a raven or the dissonant ringing of a bell.

”There, all done.” Madalena said proudly, looking to Charlie with some admiration for her part in the matter.

Charlie’s cheeks turned red and she looked away from the pair of them. Taking sudden interest in her staff, wondering if Maddi would translate what she said in her spell later. “So what’s it for? It seemed like a pretty complex brew and you didn’t use all the beads. Does it have anything to do with the Hounds of Humanity?

”Unfortunately,” Puck responded, voice lower and more grim. ”It is the product of necessity, a poultice that can bring one back from the brink of death and heal whatever fatal ailment or injury that would have resulted in death. I had not thought such a trinket necessary before, but now . . .”

Puck leaned against the counter, dark eyes glowing with a hint of worry, perhaps even fear.

”Those injuries you sustained,” Puck turned to Charlie, ”They came from the Hounds, yes? I saw the fight for your University from afar, bore witness to the strange contraptions and machinations used by the Hounds to weaken your comrades. That is troublesome, yes, but the Hounds are mobilizing more deadly weapons, resurrecting a long dead foe and its vile agents. The Winter Court rises anew, and this New World is powerless to stop it.”

The glowy red in her cheeks faded as she nodded, her fingers rubbed together while she thought. She removed the chip that she stole yesterday and held it up for both of them to see, “As far as deadly weapons go, those towers will hopefully be out of commission and out of the picture. I’m really hoping this was their only prototype.” She placed the chip on the counter. “What’s the Winter Court? Like a sub group being formed by the Hounds themselves? Or of their own, ‘inspired’ by what the Hounds are doing?” She tapped the chip with a forefinger, “I guess what I’m trying to ask is if we chase the Hounds of Humanity out of Lost Haven will these Winter Court assholes go with them?

Puck shook his head.

”The Winter Court were a notorious order of witch-hunters in the 15th century. Not much is remembered due in large to the efforts from powerful entities who had their order destroyed, but there are those of us who still feel the sting of loss caused by the Court’s hand.” Puck moved in closer, beckoning Madalena and Charlie to do the same, telling the Court’s tale in hushed voices, as if speaking the name aloud would invite their presence.

”The Winter Court,” Puck began, ”originated in Western Germany where they were a humble mercenary’s guild. They had no name, no face, no worth at the time. But the men of their guild were renowned for their brutish strength and lack of remorse, a valuable asset for any underhanded politician, noble, or church official. In time, as the witch-craze swept Europe, the Catholic Church in Germany sought alternative means of punishing heretics, and so a rowdy band of mercenaries came to be the hounds of the church, their swords for hire.

“The witches in Germany were especially insidious, at least, that was the belief of the Church. In time, their numbers grew from clergymen and mercenaries to noteable sorcerers and occult scientists, whose aid was enlisted for their understanding of God’s mysteries. Indeed, many of the clergy practiced some form of magic, and with time, developed powerful methods for detecting witches, faeries, and other unnatural creatures of concern to the church, as well as the means for their destruction. Over the next century, their techniques were mastered, the men armed with charms and idols that repelled witchcraft and glamoury, bullets that pierced enchantments and poisoned those touched by the witch-fire, shackles that bound a witch’s powers when placed around the wrists, ‘holy’ rites that forced witches to confess their sins and speak only the truth. It was an era of bloodshed.”


Puck let out a heavy sigh, remembering the lives lost, those of friends and colleagues, of prominent witches, faery nobles, even lesser demons and dukes of Hell who were branded by the Court and bound to its service.

Charlie frowned, looking up to Puck. She experienced that hatred and violence first hand yesterday, to have seen it all rise again in prominence after centuries... She empathized with him a little, as terrified as she was only a handful of minutes ago it took only a little imagination to understand how Puck must of felt. “I know this must sound weird coming from someone like me, born way after the fact. I’m sorry you had to live through that.” She hesitated but reached out, patting his arm comfortingly.

It was an interesting gesture, to try to comfort one such as he. Puck was unaccustomed to such attempts at empathy from humans. Most wished only to have their own needs satisfied, a trait on which he he had long capitalized. A refreshing change of pace. Puck allowed Charlie’s arm to stay, letting slip the softest smile before continuing his story.

”In time, these practices and their practitioners spread to other parts of Europe, notably France where the witch-hunts had gained traction. The mercenaries sought to undermine the beliefs of the common folk, relieve them of the fear of the supernatural and magical. They stole their title, The Winter Court, from a neighbouring High Court of Faerie, from the folk customs brought over by the Bretons. Their arrogance and might were unmatched, but such hubris would not go unpunished. The Witch-Mother herself, and her greatest allies, challenged the authority of The Court, using their superior Craft to destroy all remnants of their order.

“Some apologists yet remained, but all their knowledge, their strongholds, their weapons, they were all thought destroyed . . . until now. It would seem that this Witchfinder General of the Hounds, another stolen title, has somehow gained access to this lost knowledge. As we speak, he uses the arts of The Court to undermine powerful witches and destroy their lines. If this knowledge were to spread to the rest of the Hounds, it would end in catastrophe from which this world could never recover.”


The alchemist stared, fear running anew through her for different reasons now. “Fuck… He, the Witchfinder General has his eyes on Maddi right now. How the hell are we supposed to take down someone like that? Who knows how to get past our defenses, maneuver around our tricks? This is so much bigger than I thought.” Charlie replied her hand found Madalena’s shoulder, she held a fire in her eyes. “But I’m not going anywhere.

Madalena’s cheeks went flush as a wide smile spread across her rosy face, taking Charlie’s hand in hers. In only three days the two of them had grown closer than Maddi had ever been with another, not even Marie was as affectionate a friend. She wished to seize the moment and revel in her newly found friendship, but a light buzzing gave her pause. The burner given to her by the Hounds was gently vibrating, signaling an incoming call.

”H-hello?” Madalena answered sheepishly, voice holding a slight tremble.

“Madalena Hawthorne,” the voice at the other end was deep and gravelly with clear signs of age. “Your services are needed. Find yourself at the following address within the hour, lest that heretical shop of yours be burnt to the ground and you with it.” The call ended.

Madalena received a message with a street address only a few blocks from her store. She turned to Charlie, who looked naturally inquisitive, then to Puck who wore a grim expression.

”Looks like we’d better get a move on with the plan; the Witchfinder General’s just asked for my help.”
Hidden 22 days ago Post by DearTrickster
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DearTrickster The Quiet Sinner

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The Dover Twins
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Time: Evening - Present Day
Location: Smithy’s Grocery Store, Las Vegas


Miss Dover. You are the only one able to see me, beyond My Lady and Mandate of course. My invisibility persists to others who do not have The Sight. For someone so freshly exposed to the Fey you must be very observant, while you reply in English I’m quite sure you can understand the language I am speaking.” Bach bent at the knee crouching down to her level. “Your brother isn’t aware of me either. The act is rather flimsy, you will find how difficult it is to trick - tricksters.

Clever little horned demon. Freya thought, alarm and confusion still on her face. He might be right, but she wasn’t going to let him know that for 100% ”I don’t understand. Either switch to English or French, or leave me alone with the rest of your friends.” She glanced over at the Ambassador. ”A little help here. Does he know English? Is he even a boy? How do these things even differentiate between male and female? Is that even a thing? Is it based on species? Are there other species?”

The Ambassador and her Fey Partner Bach had approached the twins with curiosity, to get a measure of them. They had noticeably withdrawn when the wolves took action, their confusion palpable to anyone with eyes. Odette was feeling bold, the White Witch had bent. Now it felt the opportune time to feeling out the others, where she could gain more support or a sway of opinions.

The Ambassador maintained eye contact with Ben Dover, she asked, “May I ask, how profitable is this favour you expect in return?

Ben shrugged again. ”Profitable enough to warrant a deal with these wolves.” He glanced at Freya as she babbled more questions. ”Did you drug my sister or is she seeing more of those things you brought with you when you entered with all the drama of a villain in a play?”

Are you sure it is not some symptoms manifesting after a previously undiagnosed condition?” Odette replied with a note of humour. “Miss Dover, I would suggest narrowing your questions to that which will actually get answers. His name is Bach, my partner. He knows quite a few languages, and if you can see him then bravo. You’ve learned to see Fey faster than any human I’ve ever met, including myself. It is no mean feat.

Switch to English, Bach, for their convenience.” Odette spoke in Common Fey herself, fluent as ever.

Yes, bravo. Pleasure to make your acquaintance Miss Dover.” Bach replied in Common Fey, then coughed his body glowing faintly in green, his torso then legs returning to a normal size. “As My Lady stated, narrowing your questions will serve you well.” Switching to English finally.

Ben gave a slight smile in response, letting Odette continue to talk. Freya herself narrowed her eyes, thinking. ”So I can see the Fey, apparently with the speed of a prodigy too boot,” She glanced in question at Ben, nodding at the small army behind Mandate. He nodded in reply. He could still see them. ”Then why are the rest still visible to everyone? You’ve won your game. Intimidation will only work against your goals here.”

She directed her attention back to Bach, inclining her head in greeting. Tricksters indeed ”Let's start simple with questions then. What were you asking, earlier and just now? In Feyish, or whatever term you use for your own language.”

Bach answered in an infuriatingly chipper tone, “Simple for simple mortals. Next question please, there is no point in repeating what I had said earlier. It was not of any importance. The language is called Common Fey, because it is the language commonly spoken amongst my kind.

Freya smiled chipperly at him. Asshole. ”Alright, what are the politics of the Fey? Are their different nations? Lords? Presidents? Kings?”

Fey politics go unrivaled in complexity. Simple, remember? Don’t you really want to know what makes us weak? How to properly defend against someone like myself? How is it all possible? Oh, or perhaps you already have an inkling?

”Assuming the stories I’ve heard about Fey, or Fairies in most stories, are true the quickest way would be iron. There are some arcane rituals I’d guess. You’re an inherently magical race. Again, this is if the human stories hold even an inkling of truth.”

Ben shifted closer to Freya, watching where her eyes were, then switching back to her. He’d rely on her reactions to know what he should be doing if this ‘Bach’ became aggressive.

Intimidation? However did you pull such a thing from our little conversation. Do we really give off such a front, Bach?” Odette said, feigning a frown. She answered Freya’s question next, “The other Fey are simply here... as support and curiosity. They simply cannot pass up an opportunity to be involved in my affairs. They are hardly ever bored.

”It was the entire stance of your negotiation. You have a large golem, an army of Fey, a piece that you got from her split personality that you can’t harm but you made them think you can harm, and various spells that you promised to use to full effect if you didn’t get your way. Your entire front was ‘I’m stronger than you, I know more than you, and you can do nothing.’” Freya retorted. She didn’t like Odette’s fake surprise. Ben glanced sharply at her, lightly nudging her with his knee, shaking his head in disappointment.

Bach tapped a bark hand against his horn.

Odette maintained her smile, unperturbed by her commentary. She glanced over her shoulder at White Witch. When she returned her attention to Ben. “Oh, you did not approve of her comment? I want to hear your thoughts, Mister Ben Dover. I do not mean to pry, but I truly am curious. You must of seen something of worth from the werewolves and White Witch to have tagged along as you have. After what you have seen here, your confidence isn’t shaken? When I see such a deal or agreement weakening I personally find myself looking for avenues of escape, if not already having them planned prior to the deal. Do the pair of you have much of a back up plan?

Ben reluctantly returned his attention to Odette. He didn’t trust any of them, least of all this smug witch. He ignored her first question, answering the rest. ”We saw things we could use in our favour. And we haven’t gotten as far as we have without back ups.”

Odette shrugged looking to Bach and he did the same, they wore identical smiles. Not fazed by Freya making a point of iron, anyone who cracked open a book about faeries would know this to be the case. “Is that so? While the Fey’s weakness is rather apparent. Yours is apparent as well, all we would need to do is separate you two. A pair that cannot function independently. May I reiterate that is not our goal, you two are simply background pieces. If whatever it is you’re here for is worth the frustration of being led around by unknown forces, then please. Be my guest. It is my hope that you will be of some use.” The hardness in her words were betrayed only by her tone, it was as if she were speaking of the weather. She gestured her palm out toward the wolves.

Bach replied easily reminding Freya of what exactly she was to expect now, “Good luck, Miss Freya Dover. Navigating the new world of the Fey is a rather daunting task on your own. My Lady Ambassador has no time to waste holding your hand through it. This sight cannot be turned off.

Freya pulled herself to her feet, looking down at Odette. This woman had the gall to come over here and try to throw around her weight. Well, they weren’t the wolves and they definitely weren’t Marie or Gwyneth or whoever she was. ”I doubt she could even reach my hand from down there. We’re good at adapting and surviving. We don’t need your help. Nor will we ever need it, b- Ben shifted in front of Freya, silencing her, hands out in a placating gesture. ”No one is here alone, least of all you, Ms. Ambassador. We have no problems with you. Nor are we going to seek them. He pointed looked over his shoulder at Freya.

His sister huffed, irritated and vexed, but took his hint. Taking a deep breath, she continued in a polite tone. ” We don’t have any problems. The wolves however, do.” She looked pointedly over at the one still struggling in Mandate’s grasp, and Ben still being calmed by Marie. ”If you’re going to be travelling with us, you should probably work on fixing those bridges. You’re going to need to trust one another enough that they won’t try to rip your throat out at the first opportunity.

I am quite aware of their problem with me, which I will discuss when they have decided to calm down. Until then…” She shrugged again, waving a little at Mandate. The mercurial golem paused for the moment and waved back wearing her ‘happy’ v smile. This trip to Las Vegas would give Mandate plenty to think on, research and discuss.

Odette turned back to the twins, “I am already several steps ahead of you all. Tenuous relationships and alliances are my specialty, as you will find out in due time yourselves. Until then, adieu.” She said with another smirk, her french accent pronounced on ‘adieu.’

”Adieu, Ms. Ambassador, but I feel like I must remind you that tenuous things don’t do well when strained.

Freya herself merely glowered at the witch, biting her tongue. She didn’t want to say anything else.

The Ambassador turned around making her way back to Mandate’s side, the click of her heels on her leave. Bach hung back a little, “One last bit of advice, if you wish to hear it Miss Dover.

Freya turned her glower at the horned demon. She had tired of him and his games as well. ”Sure.” He would give it to her regardless of what she had said, she felt. Might as well not give him the satisfaction of seeing her even more vexed.

Do not, and I repeat do not approach Fey with your new found sight and language. Do not acknowledge them. This is the only warning you will receive.” He spoke in common fey, solemn in his warning.

The Ambassador didn’t spare a look back, she felt no need to warn them. Their first blunder would be lesson enough.

Freya didn’t reply, watching as Bach followed his mistress away. ”Assholes. We don’t need them. We can figure this Fey thing out.” Ben looked at her in slight concern. ”Maybe we should listen to whatever warnings they give. They seem to have been at this awhile.” Freya waved a dismissive hand. ”We don’t need them. They were just trying to scare us and size us up. We’ve adapted before, we’ll adapt again. First thing is to get you this ‘Sight.’” Ben sighed quietly. He didn’t like this, but he wasn’t going to be able to convince his sister this was a bad idea. They’re going to see us again, very soon.
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Hidden 22 days ago 21 days ago Post by Afro Samurai
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Afro Samurai The Iron Mask

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The Dawn After the LHU Massacre





As the sun rose, Pantheon sat atop the edge of a skyscraper, he swung his legs to and fro as they hung off the roof's edge. Glint across the horizon was a brush of deep orange. Clouds parted way for their burning master as the ever-dying star asserted itself against the heavens. On his caramel face the sun rested, warm glee manifested a smile along the warrior's countenance. Hassan hadn't slept, Pantheon didn't need to. It was a strange thing having twin consciousness' coiled. Thankfully, it was Pantheon's body within which both were trapped; whatever Hassan's human body once needed, Pantheon did not. Such a predicament helped on occasions when Hassan wasn't adjusting to his new role as a hero and desired to see a simple thing as a sunrise.

Hassan couldn't help but recall yesterday's events. Never had he seen such death, hatred, and loathe for one's fellow human beings. And never had he been one to cause the deaths of men until that wretched day. Detached moral implications aside, he was, in his own eyes, no better than the Hounds themselves. The louder Hassan became, the harder Pantheon fought back,

"I know what you are thinking. You and I know those men were no better than animals."
"But they were just like us! They were human, too!" Hassan retorted,
"Be that as it may, they would have had no issue killing you if I had not aided."
"That still doesn't make us right, man! We can't just... you know? We can't just, like, kill people 'cause. . ."
"Because? Pantheon raised his right brow,
"'Cause we got the power! Hey, don't interrupt me, you mother--"
"Does not your oom warn you of that foul language?
"Yeah, well, fuck you! How 'bout that!"
"I do believe I will be telling her of your infraction when we return home."
"We came here to watch the sunrise, stupid! 'Sides, I don't want to go home yet!"
"Then you must mind yourself."

Hassan groaned, it was audible through Pantheon's lips and rumbled from his diaphragm. When on equal grounds, their two conscious' kept one another level. Pantheon's ferocity was considerably dulled when Hassan could manage to wrestle himself forward; conversely, Hassan's apprehension and timid nature in the face of conflict was muffled beneath Pantheon's rage. From what Hassan read of past iterations of 'Pantheon', the Amim who was joined to the titan had to wrest total control of both minds, and quickly. The longer one waited, the deeper Pantheon's hold on the user became until the Amim himself was supplanted. Hassan had to make inquiries if for no other reason than his own safety.

"You told that girl with the ugly sweater you had been around for millennia, how though?" Hassan began,
"You will find out soon en--"
"Don't give me that mysterious bullshit. Give me some answers!" payback, no matter how incremental, was sweet.
"Everything your lineage has studied, mystical or physical, I am the sum."
"...What?"
"Deaf are we? ...Although your great, great grandmother was deaf, so I suppose a lack of hearing makes sense."
"Don't talk about my great, great grandmother!" Hassan stamped,
"She was a kind soul. She often had to change your grandfather's soiled diapers with her hands until I came along."
"T-TMI, dude. TMI." The imagery made Hassan shutter, "look, man, I need some answers here. What. The. Hell. Are. You? Do you, like. . . why pick my family to terrorize? What's the deal? Where did you get all these powers from?!"

Pantheon heard a soft sob; it was their mother. While Pantheon himself did not possess all-around supernatural senses like many of his ilk, any distress from an Amim he could hear a world away. There was a tear in the wind from the supersonic burst as Pantheon raced through the skies to get home, which took him but a few minutes.

--

Bibi Amim had been re-watching the news coverage on the LHU attack since it aired the previous day. So many children slain, and she was unsure if her only son was among them. If her son was dead, she would sue them all! The high school, the police department, the university, everyone! All 47 years of her life and she had never seen such violence! What was wrong with people these days? When she was growing up, people were different; more kind, more loving, more compassionate. The world and its inhabitants had gone to the dumps far as she was concerned. In her rose red slippers and matching bathrobe she sat; it was her fifth glass of wine in nearing twenty hours without respite. Tissues cluttered her dusty rug as she curled into the tan leather sofa; her mind latched desperate on the hope that someone, anyone who even resembled her schnookums would ring that doorbell. Bibi would spring up at the slightest knock!

Upstairs, Hassan's younger cousin, Shati, was just waking. She was a freshman in high school, an attendant of LHU, in fact. An acne survivor, she was sported features similar to that of Hassan; soft jaws, rounder nose, full lips. She had large, oval eyes and honey colored iris' to accompany. Her father, Bibi's brother, James (who preferred to use his Americanized name instead of his given, Billah) was serving a life sentence for the murder of the man who attempted to kidnap his daughter. Shati's mother, an addict and the girlfriend of this very same man, had not shown face since the trial. How deep were the pangs of addiction that Shati's own mother would use her as collateral for a fix. Shati herself suffered from night terrors of her own, similar to those Hassan used to have in regards to Pantheon, but hers were not magical. Doctors all believed she was borderline schizophrenic with the kinds of visions she saw. Rahna Amim, the family's most experienced Homo Magi (of this generation) suspected her cousin was also attuned to the mystic.

Bibi could sob no more, and she shut off the television; no longer could she stand to hear those words on repeat,

"Dozens dead, more injured and missing in horrendous terrorist attack."

As Bibi rose to prepare breakfast for the house, today it would be shakshuka and toast. Bibi was rummaging through the refrigerator when she heard her niece descending the stairs. Shati had her hind-length hair wrapped in her headscarf, she hadn't yet tied the Hijab. It was, in Shati's mind, too early for that. Plus, she would end up taking it off later in the day anyway, she couldn't stand the strange looks from all the other teens when she wore it to school. Bibi, however, was not particular about her niece's subtle defiance, and much as she coached Bibi about their heritage and customs, Shati was a modern woman who saw the Hijab as a symbol of oppression. Bibi turned on the burners of the stove and found her two favorite cast iron skillets: one given to her by her grandmother when she was 16, the other she bought at a garage sale for $3. A thrifter, Bibi was. As she was pouring her oil into the skillets, Bibi lifted a salutative smile toward her niece. The creases of her face deepend aongside her mouth as she did,

"Morning, Titi! Breakfast?" with dazed expression, Shati brushed the sleep from her engulfing eyes and returned,
"Shakshuka? Again?" Bibi frowned, in the lines of her frown she crushed Shati's disrespect,
"If you don't like it Shati, you can cook for yourself!" the rest was lathered in Arabic. Shati put up little resistance, for she was the absolute worst cook in the family, though with time she figured she may get better. If not, well... fast food existed for a reason. It was around this time that Bibi usually asked Shati about what she did at school the previous day. Today was not fitting for such questioning, but Bibi--ever the soldier of the family--mustered strength,

"So..." an inhale, Bibi continued, "how was sch--" the doorbell rang. Shati's head whipped toward the wooden door and Bibi's gaze trailed alongside her niece's. Outside Pantheon stood.

"You think they're gonna know it's me?"
"I doubt it; and given your mother and her affinity for that cast iron skillet, I would say brace yourself."
"Ain't you invulnerable or something?"
"It still hurts. It always hurts, even after several millennia." Pantheon winced at the thought of all the brunt damage he had taken over his incarnations.

The door swung open, Pantheon's gargantuan frame and black garment filled the hole of the doorway like a black hole; Bibi screamed and shut the door. From inside, Hassan could hear her shout,

"TITI, GO GET THE SHOTGUN!" and a patter of feet up the stairs. Some minutes passed before the door swung open and Bibi had the shotgun cocked and readied in both hands while Shati marshaled both of the cast iron frying pans.

"Who. The. Hell. Are. You?!" Bibi demanded. Boyish as ever, Hassan pleaded,
"Mama, it's me! It's Hassan!" Bibi's face sunk. Then it filled with rage. She pulled the trier and let the buckshot off right into Pantheon's chest--when the ammunition merely clanged off his chest and atop the concrete porch, Rahna took a swing with the cast iron skillet. When the head of the skillet made contact and subsequently snapped in two, Bibi briefly turned her rage on her niece,

"You broke my damn skillet! Go in the house!"
"But I'm alr--" Bibi gave Shati the look. Shati's lips fell air tight and she retreated into her room upstairs. Bibi turned her vision on the man who claimed to be her son. A lie, she thought. How could this abomination be her son? He was too tall, too muscular, too modelesque to be her boy. Bibi squinted. She had always heard of the stories about magic and her family, but she was the black sheep who didn't believe the fairy tale. Now, even when confronted with the truth, she would not be assuaged. And she would not be afraid.
"If you're my son, what was the first birthday present I ever got you?"
"Uh. . . uh. . ." Bibi tapped her foot,
"A lime green bicycle with training wheels." Pantheon recounted for Hassan,

Bibi squinted again. In a panic, she shut the door once more. What if this man was an impostor? How does he know these things? Is he a stalker?! Then Bibi remembered the stories her grandmother used to tell her of a magical warrior who seemingly appeared within every generation of the Amim line; a being forged of the deepest practices of the mythical: Pantyhose. Panther? Pant--something or other, she never payed much attention. Her eldest daughter had told her of something similar, but age nor time had softened her to what she believed were just tales spun to make her family feel more important than they were. But, what if they were right? There was one person she knew would know something about this panthwhatever, Rahna. She phoned her daughter no sooner than the idea came to her and Rahna answered.

"Rahna, this is oom. You been dating some guy named Panteock?"
"Who?" Rahna said, amused,
"Pant--one second..." she opened the door again where Pantheon stood, "what did you say your name was?"
"Hass-Pantheon" Bibi slammed the door shut once more,
"Pantheon!" she began again,
"No, why would I--Oh. Oh, no! Oh, shit. Don't move, mama! I'm on my way!" the screech of tires was evident, the line went dead.

Shati sat on her bed upstairs cursing her mother under her breath as she usually did when they fought.

Bibi held her shotgun barrel to the window, her curtains sprung wide open and aimed at the man on her front porch to let him know she would be having none of his bullshit today.

Hassan rocked back and forth on his toes, nervously grinning at the woman who birthed him and was now pointing a gun to his head. What a fine 'welcome home' celebration this was.
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Hidden 21 days ago 10 days ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Triangle Attack!

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Ross Barber | Kyra Muller | Joel Vaughan

The S.W.A.T. team finally exited the Bed, Bath, and Beyond, dragging out both the young metahuman boy and the men who thought it was a bright idea to bring automatic weapons to an appliance store. Kyra, on the other hand, had already been taken to the EMTs, even though she had not sustained any major injuries during the firefight. Only her ears were ringing form the flashbangs that the S.W.A.T. used to breach into the Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Nevertheless, the EMTs still went through their usual routine, checking to make sure the superheroine was alright.

“You’re as healthy as a horse, Firerfox.” One of the EMTs told her after they had performed all of their tests. “Just try to stay away from loud sounds for a day or so.”

Once she was cleared, Kyra stood up from her seat on the back of the EMTs’ ambulance, being mindful of not allowing her nine large, foxlike tails to smack either the EMTs while she walked away to join the two other Immortals present at the scene of the crime.

“Thank God that did not turn into a blood bath,” Kyra sighed in relief since that ordeal was over.

“There was one casualty,” Talus alerted his teammate, who stood there in shock at the thought that someone could have died under her watch.

“When? Didn’t all the hostages make it out safely? There was a lot of gun fire inside, but I don’t remember anyone getting shot. And I surely didn’t cause anyone to die!”

“One of the robbers was found dead with several gunshot wounds to the torso.”

“Could it not have bene friendly fire?” Kyra asked her teammate.

“Possibly,” Talus admitted while pondering the situation. “However, there was a kid found inside waving a gun at the S.W.A.T. team when they breached.”

“A kid?” As Kyra thought about it, she realized that she never got a good glimpse at whoever the robbers had been unleashing their firepower on. Considering that this individual turned out to be just a mere child, it was fortunate that she had accidentally teleported herself here during the fight against Lightwave.

Meanwhile, the S.W.A.T. was convoying everyone whom they had detained inside the Bed, Bath, and Beyond, both the robbers and the young boy. They had already cuffed everyone and were now loading them into vehicles so that they could transport them for processing through the criminal system. However, they separated the young metahuman boy from the rest of the criminals, since anyone could have told that the boy did not fit in with the rest.

“We have to do something.” Kyra told the other two Immortals.

“Like what? We can’t just go over there and drag the kid away.” Talus argued, although he paused for a moment. “Okay, we technically could go over there and drag the kid away, but we can’t be antagonizing the police.”

“I’m sure that superhero organization that was in the news could find a pro bono lawyer to get the kid into juvenile court and only get a slap on the wrist.” Gajana finally interjected himself into the conversation.

“Good idea! Why didn’t I come up with that?” Talus said. At once, he used his bio-mechanical supercomputer that was his body to contact the United Heroes Organization. Although the UHO did not have any legal retainers on staff, they did provide a number for Talus to call to arrange a local firm to help out. Talus finally was able to reach that law firm and, with Kyra’s help, reported the situation to them. The operator promised that they would be on their way to wherever the kid was being taken and that they would make sure the boy would not be railroaded.

“Well, now we can only wait,” Talus mentioned after he ended his call to the UHO.

“I really hope that kid will be alright,” Kyra wished as they watched the police and the S.W.A.T. drive away.
Hidden 21 days ago 21 days ago Post by VATROU
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VATROU The Barron

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In

Not-Borrowers of Boston


Running was a good plan a solid one yup, Eva thought hopping over branches and through the woods it was a shame however that she was running away from the gunfire and monster behind her, breaking off from the group one of the Hounds tried his best to stop her from leaving as the monster tore through his friends dividing his attention leaving his aim to be laughable for a so called hunter. Which was something Eva was thankful for as she was not as athletic as she would like to be, jogging through the woods was not something Arthur had on the training regiment it was a tiring endeavor. She heaved as the wind blew past her face and swept her clothes shots did ring out infrequently but soon she couldn’t tell if they were being aimed at her or the creature as trees stopped being torn to shreds and heavy bush obscured the distance between her and those trying to kill them. Now the plan was to meet up with Bernice and the little friends, who kept chattering away with some accent a thick Bostonish drawl. Eva had likely lost the Hounds and monster for now and proceed to slow down her pace as she was still rather lost and unsure where she was even heading, taking this downtime Eva called out to the Elderly little one from earlier. ”Miss Elder? Do we have a way to track Bernice down?”

Climbing from a side pocket of Eva’s bag the Elder with streaked white in her otherwise black hair spoke. “afeayahd not deeyah, We have not traveled fah from auur homes. We have kept auur distance from Bernice aunly revealing auurselves a short time ago, whereva ha friends house is I aunly hope we find it soon.”

”We’d find it a lot easier if there was actual help from one of the two beacons of sunshine, but I somehow doubt it. First we’ll need to find a way out of the forest, any of you know that much?”

One of the warriors nodded. “We do know where the Big Ones live, fah past the edges auf the forest, I shall guide you but we must make haste.” The little one with what appeared to be a safety pin for a sword took charge and leaped forward into the forest Eva had to pay close attention to where she leaped and weaved as even though she was waiting and allowing herself to be seen the little warrior moved like a blur and despite her size was more agile in this environment. Keeping Excalibur pulled close to her side she tried keeping pace and eventually as the sun began to rise above the tree line as the little ones seemed to be more quiet as the edge of the forest came into view. “There. The Big One’s homes are in sight.” The little warrior pointed out as she hung on a small branch overhead.

”Good, I need a door. Any door really. I may not do magic but I do have magic.”

“Big one speaks without mind. But doah I find.”

Chasing after the warrior Eva past an old warehouse on the edge of town motioning for the little scout to return.”I got our exit, we need to go.” Swinging open the door as the Little Clan scout climbed up Eva’s pants a vast library lay spread out before them as the door close and taking a moment to relax Eva turned back to the same door and opened it again. ”Welcome to my home, if we don’t know where Bernice is we need a tracker. He should be around here.”

“Hold aun Big One, the particulars auf auur new location will have to wait but no new people. We have exposed auurselves too much already.”

”I guess it’s good he isn’t a person, he’s my pet.”

“No.” Screamed the warrior gal. “No creatures, we are food to them, prey.”

”Not a fan of pets, guess alien pets are also on that list. Hokay then, best not stick around here too long then. I know a place where we could get some quiet.” With another jaunt through the magic library opening to a dusty old place, with more rooms than bulbs. Her Grandfather Alistar Wahlforth had spent a lot of money into his old family home such so that it pre-dated much of what was now Central Park. ”It’s old, more antiques than dust but it holds a special meaning to me. No one but us will be here, and I’d appreciate it if we keep it in one piece.”

“Is a wonderful place, filled with many nooks to hide. Perfect fah us sneaks. Will do fah the meantime until we meet up with the rest. You have plan yaww?”

Eva shrugged and let out an exasperated sigh.”Ehh. I’ll pop by the library and see if the mage I came with would actually help me. If I can get her too. She is not the most, um. Helpful sort. But for now you all should be safe, no one has been here aside from myself a while ago, and another who no longer has business here. I’ll get some food, won’t take long.” As the clock ticked and the hour came to a close Eva had returned, bags in hand. Chips, water and sandwiches. ”Should last us awhile, I’ll turn on the heat.”

Almost as if on cue, there was a massive gong sound from the front door, completely at odds with any sound it may have made before. When Eva answered it, Salamander stood outside, looking grim and put upon. His shabby coat was missing a sleeve, and he was still holding his own blade by the hilt, drawn, though not brandished in any way. Seeing her, his craggy and unshaven face broke into a grin. "Doin alright, girl? Tiny little people not weighing too much on your pockets on the way out?"

Without bothering to wait for a response, he tossed a folded piece of paper at her face with an idle flick. He could probably have handed it to her, but he seemed in a somewhat foul mood for him. "That's where you need to go. Townhouse like thing, maybe an apartment? Full of animals. Nice girl there, apparently, goes by the name of Carrie. Not Charlie. Bloody creative parents there." And with that, he spun on his heel and marched off into the morning. He walked with a limp today, but still gave off, as he settled his sword onto his shoulder and made his way out to the woods, that he was whistling a jaunty tune.

”Yea, bloody good day to you too. Well at least I got something now, at least Salamander is helpful; pleasant more than Merlin too not that’s a high bar.”
Hidden 21 days ago Post by Indy Cooper
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Indy Cooper Deity-in-training

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Banner credit to Nitemare Shape. Thanks Boss!

Morning


A frustrated growl escaped Darya's lips as she stared in the mirror and gently tugged her brush through her brown curls. They hung well below her shoulders, and brushing them one-handed was not exactly easy. Thankfully, her powers seemed to have accelerated her healing, according to the doctor, though not by so much that she could pull off film stunts. It still stung like crazy, and reaching up was not allowed yet, nor was any heavy lifting. She had been given enough off time from her uncle's store to do whatever, and amid her protests he had let it slip that he had hired a new worker to replace her. She had nearly broken down, but she understood. Everyone in her family knew that her hero work would be her only focus for a while. Still, the loss of her normal life was almost as bad as the gunshot, another stinging pain, though not physical this time.

She set her brush down, and was reaching for her kohl pencil when her cellular buzzed angrily at her. Her hand switched directions and she glanced warily at the number. It was six thirty in the morning, none of her friends were even awake yet, so who the hell was this? She certainly didn't recognise the number, but thumbed the answer button and held it up to her ear.

”Good morning, this is Tiamat.”

The voice on the other end was recognisable as Agent Reeves, and identified herself as such. Darya sat up straighter. She had been waiting for this call.

“We have a location for the facility. I have been notified you were wounded during your activities.” Darya noticed that she stressed the last word with a degree or irritation. “Are you capable of coming down and doing the stress tests and marksmanship scoring?”

“Yes, of course. Where's it happening?”

She listened intently to the address, then slipped the phone between her shoulder and ear so she could reach over and type it into her browser, staring at the map that popped up. ”I can be there by eight.”

“Excellent. You'll be working with a few other metas and a...well. It's a diverse team, any way. Please show up in uniform, and pack for an overnight stay.”

”Pardon? Overnight? I thought this was a day activity?”

“Parameters have changed. I'll explain once you get here. See you at eight.”

The call ended with a click as Reeves hung up, Leaving Darya to pull the phone away and stare out of the window. Something must have happened. Something bad. She saved Reeves' number on her phone, set it down, and typed in a few keywords into the browser. Videos and news reports from a university in Maine popped up. She watched a few seconds before slamming her laptop shut, tears swelling in the corners of her eyes. She stood up, fury and vigor in her step as she made herself ready for the day.




08:03


Darya made her way up to what looked like an old, refurbished gym, the type that made all of its money from real athletes instead of New Year's memberships and thus failed miserably at paying it's rent. One bored looking man sat outside, reading a book. At first glance he looked like a normal guy taking advantage of the lack of guards, but three things popped out. The first was his obvious lack of surprise at a hero walking around the corner, where she had come out of the alley. She had had to walk a block through the area behind the buildings and changed back there, between a stinking dumpster and a wall that was already beginning to put off an uncomfortable amount of heat. Thankfully it was too early, and in the Warzone, for her to worry a lot about being spotted.

The second was his build, which through his thin white t-shirt resembled a soldier, or one of those heroes from the films. The buzzed blonde hair didn't detract from that at all. And when she saw his hair, she noticed the earpiece he had in. She definitely had the right place. He waved her over, and she stepped forward, trying to look confident.

“Tiamat, right? You're the first to show. Head on in and you'll see Reeves. I think you're in the pool for the morning.”

Reeves was decked in a pinstriped power suit and sensible shoes, what Darya had imagined was probably standard attire for female agents anyway. She had been too nervous to take in many details last time they had met, but Reeves was maybe five six, carried herself well, and had the air of someone who wanted to get through her day quickly, while getting as much as possible done. Her black hair was pulled back behind her ears. She kept it much shorter than Darya did. Black eyes glittered as she watched Darya approach. She felt somewhat like a cow being measured up for cuts.

“You move pretty well for someone who got shot two days ago. Been through that before?”

”Um. No? Never been shot before, no.”

“Well, I'd say let's keep it that way, but this isn't exactly a safe job. Still, good stuff at the bank, though I wish you wouldn't throw yourself into danger immediately after joining my team.” While Reeves sounded angry, her eyes still held a shine of humour. Even so, Darya didn't feel like pushing her luck.

”Sorry. I'll be more careful in the future.”

Reeves looked her up and down once more, then nodded. “Alright. Follow me.”

They made their way through what had once been the main gym, now converted into what looked to be a medical office. She saw a lot of fitness testing machines, ones that she had used only yesterday at her doctor's office to check her mobility. Reeves talked as they approached the back wall.

“Since you went to the hospital in costume, and your doctor's as well, he just snagged the data from there. We'll need a few other things, but for the most part you'll get a pass, both because of your martial arts background and your injury. Today's going to be about powers and guns.”

Reeves opened a back door, one of the steel types that Darya would normally assume was an exterior, but it led into a hallway branching off to her left and right. Reeves pointed her to the left, and they made their way down for some ways. Darya smelled some sort of chemical mixture and realised they must be approaching the pool the front door guy had mentioned. Reeves paused at another steel door in the same wall, looked at the hero, and grinned.

“Today, we'll see how much you can do, I think.”

The door swung open to reveal an enormous body of water. Easily a hundred metres long and fifty wide, with a deep end on the opposite side of the door that looked to hit at least twenty feet. That end also held diving boards. Reeves stepped beside her as the door swung closed, and Darya realised she had stopped moving. She had never seen this much clear, clean water at once. Her community pool was barely a quarter of this size at best, and her family had been adamant that they not swim in the river.

“New thing, huh? We figured as much from your entrance exam talk.”

Darya glanced at the woman through her goggles, mind whirring. ”But...This ceiling is twice what the building is from the outside!”

“Hahaha! That would be courtesy of some things above your very low pay grade. Rest assured, it doesn't come cheap. And, between you and me, getting authorisation for it is a bitch. But we got it, and not for long, so we'd best make use of it.” She held out her hand for Darya's bag.

“I'll stow this in a locker in the main room. I believe you remember Agent Davis.”

The gym shorts man who had worked with her before was walking over from the side of the pool as Reeves moved past him. She was heading for a door on the other side, it seemed. Her...what, trainer? Examiner? This was a weird new world, but whatever. Davis approached and shook her good hand.

“Good to see you again, Timid,” he said with a wink. “I'll take it easy on you for today, owing your injury, but I'm still gonna put you through your paces. Your pal Broadway said you could take it.”

”Broadway? You've talked to her?”

“Yep. Had to do the same with her, though in a much different setting. Getting a feel for your powers when you're not sure of them was going to be a pain, but I know you've worked with them before. So let's get started, yeah? Jump on in.”

The girl hesitated for barely a second before leaping into the water, trying and failing to contain a yelp of joy. As soon as she hit the water, the exam faded from her mind for a second and the pure joy of being in her element took over. The water that had splashed up suddenly dropped back into the pool, and she formed a vortex as she rocketed through the water like a torpedo. She already knew, through her own experiments, that she couldn't breathe underwater yet, though it felt possible somehow, but she could stay under for much longer than most. She did so, pushing herself to go faster. In the community pool, she hadn't been able to do this, and had only been there once since her powers came in anyway. Even if she had felt rebellious, there were too many people. But here, she had all this to herself, and took shameless advantage. Finally, after almost ten minutes, she came back up, sitting five feet off of the surface of the pool in a swirling column, right where she had gone in.

Davis had a few pieces of equipment next to him now, and was clicking a stopwatch and staring at her. “Damn, girly, that was a treat to watch. Can you breathe down there or something?”

She shook her head, and he clicked his tongue. “Well, you might as well have been. Twelve minutes and twenty-six seconds. And you move like a missile.”

She cocked her head to her side, and he waved at what looked to be a modded radar gun cops used. “I clocked you at over forty at one point on a straight shot. That as fast as you can go?”

”I don't know, really. First time I have been able to cut loose.”

Alright, well, we'll stress that in a bit. Right now, I want you to lift and move as much of this as you can.”

Darya spun in her little column, which clung to her waist, thinking about what might be the most effective way to do this. She had made a huge wave in the Rio, once, to stop a kidnapper from escaping, but that was in open air. Then she realised she should just build on what she had.

She moved her 'chair' out into the middle of the pool, and lifted herself up to the ceiling, thirty feet above her. When her raised hand brushed the rafters, she began drawing everything up into a funnel. Not caring about form for the moment, she simply swirled as much as she could into her column. It grew rapidly in diameter. Five, then ten feet. Fifteen. The water level in the pool changed visibly, and the shallow end was almost empty by the time she hit a thirty foot column. The roar of swirling water drowned out all other noise. Once she had hit forty feet in diameter, she wanted to see how much control she could manage, so she suddenly stopped the swirling.

The noise abruptly died off. The column was as still as a calm pond. Slowly, she moved tendrils, maybe two feet wide, out of it. One, then three. A dozen. Finally stopping only when she had about a hundred going at once, because it was beginning to make her very dizzy, even with them still. She dropped it down to fifty and began lashing them around in very basic, whip-like motions, extending them out to about a hundred feet and then hauling them back in. She noticed as she did so that her column lost it's neat shape, more so than they should have distorted it, and that she was ten feet lower. She kept it up for as long as she could and then slowly let everything sink back into a normal, not physics defying shape, then gently pushed herself along until she could climb out next to Davis.

“Alright,” he said quietly. “I take back what I said the other day. You are certainly not on the weak side. You okay?”

”Bit dizzy.”

“Probably from not pushing it like this before. Anything else major you can show me? I know you can freeze it, how about that?”

Darya glanced at the pool. She had actually been practising this a lot. The ice formed fast, and spread across the surface even faster as she concentrated. It hit the opposite edge within two minutes.

”IIt's about two inches thick right now. I can tell you exactly how thick any given expanse of ice is. Dunno how far that goes, though. Actually, I could give you real time numbers for all of this.”

She waved her hand, more for effect than anything else. She had been practising this as well. The ice melted off. And then steam began to rise off of the surface.

“That should be around a hundred and ten. At least on the surface. It would take ages to heat the whole thing.”

Davis stared out over the pool. “Huh,” he said. He repeated it twice, then nodded to himself suddenly. “Alright, Tiamat, looks like you are damn well capable. We'll get back to you in a bit. I got a couple more I need to check out in the pool solo, and then some group stuff for those that don't have anything like this. Head through that door over there and find Reeves. She'll take you to the range.”




15:40


She had met far too many people in the past day. Aside from Reeves and Davis, there was one other FBI member, Special Agent Zimmerman, an obvious war veteran who worked on the range right now. He had not liked her right up until she started shooting, and then warmed up immensely. Much like Davis, she was sure he was less about heroing and more about making sure any of the heroes didn't accidentally shoot someone in the line of...Well, she couldn't call it duty.

And of the heroes, there were five of them here today. A gun-toting guy who called himself Dragon, though she wasn't sure where his name came from. One who was piloting some sort of suit like Iron Knight's. A speed demon kid who hadn't bothered with a concealed identity, redheaded and she suspected very much a minor. He also acted like a total asshole, almost fighter pilot like. A girl who could teleport and hear almost anything near her, Darya thought. And a guy who was super strong.

On top of all of these were a variety of DHS and ATF agents, a handful of police, and a few vets. The non-powered people who had volunteered. She couldn't remember all these names. Reeves assured her that was normal during lunch.

“Everyone's here for the same thing, but no one's gonna learn everyone's name in just a few hours. It usually takes a day or two. And then there's wherever you'll be working, too.”

”I thought we'd be working here in New Mexico, or near by?”

“What?” Reeves looked at her incredulously, then shook her head. “No way. There haven't been any credible moves made by our target here. Everyone's going to be split up, linked with whoever else the high strategists think will make effective teams, and then sent to hotspots.”

”Hotspots?”

“Yeah. Places in-country where they've been particularly active. Los Haven, where that university attack yesterday was, or Pacific Point. New Orleans, New York. Areas with high threat risks, as well.” Reeves leaned in conspiratorially over the shitty Chinese food they had all ordered for lunch.

“Personally, I hope to be put on the main team, the ones who'll be tracking movements and will hit the main base of operations when we find it.”

”You really want these guys, huh?”

“Don't you?”

That conversation kept replaying in the girl's head for the rest of the afternoon as they paired off and sparred with one another. She was exempted from this due to her injury, but helped with the pool obstacles for group assessment. What did she want out of this? She knew she should be doing something, helping against these monstrous people. But she wasn't bent on blood as much as most everyone else was. She hadn't lost family and friends, thank Allah's mercy, but even with information about losses, she couldn't really understand the need for revenge.

As she was sitting there, pondering it yet again, one of the ATF agents walked over to where she sat leaning against a wall. They were apparently nearly done for the day. This woman was at least two inches taller than Reeves, and unlike Reeves and herself was not a willowy sort at all. She looked like she power lifted. Her dark red hair was kept in a ponytail today, but during the sparring Darya had noticed she kept it pinned even further so as to not present a target or distraction. She held out a hand to the seated heroine.

“I'm Rollins. You're Tiamat, right?”

Darya gingerly took the offered hand and was hauled up to her feet as well as getting a handshake. She nodded. ”Yes, that is me.”

“Heard you weren't a bad shot from Zimmerman, and saw you on the pool stuff. You're gonna be really useful in the shit, arentcha?”

Darya didn't really know how to respond to that, but thankfully the larger woman didn't seem to want to give her a chance to.

“C'mon, they're gonna start the briefing soon.” She clapped a hand on the girl's back to get her moving and walked along side her out of the pool area where they had been waiting for the undisguised people to come back from changing.

“So how long you been doin' this hero thing, Tiamat?”

”N-not long? Perhaps six months officially, and this is really the first thing I have done with an official capacity. I worked with the USHA....Wait, the UHO. For a few jobs before this, but it was more like a...a junior invitee, or something.”

“Haw haw!” The woman had a genuine, if rather abrasive, laugh. She was reminded of caricatures in literature about stupid southerners and other 'non-intellectuals'. “You were a probie with Broadway, huh? That's great!”

”How is it that everyone I meet today knows Broadway somehow?”

“Well, I don't know about anyone else, but me and her dated in high school for a bit.”

Darya was taken aback. She hadn't been aware Broadway was gay. Then again, they did tend to try and keep their personal lives to themselves when heroing for obvious reasons. She was about to ask more when they walked into the 'main room', which was more a combination meeting room and locker area than a lounge like Darya had been expecting. The folding tables from lunch had been stacked away, and all the chairs were now facing a tall, thin man in the 'standard goon' suit. His grey hair was also of the standard set, close cropped and neat. He held his hands behind his back and waited for everyone to be seated, then cleared his throat and began speaking in a slow, deep voice.

“Good afternoon. I am Deputy Director George Boothe. As many of you have no doubt heard, yesterday we suffered yet another assault on national security, at a university.”

A chorus of growls answered this. Boothe held up his hands.

“I know. I feel the same. Which is why, with how many attacks have occurred there, we are putting together an emergency team. I need volunteers.”

All hands immediately went up.

“You have no idea how good that sight makes me feel. Hands down. We have a short list we want on this. Reeves, Rollins, Hallows, Phillips, and Faulkner. For metas, Dragon, Tiamat, Naia, and Doc Holliday and Broadway will meet you out there.”

There were some grumbles, but Darya paid them no mind as she stood with the rest. Naia, she knew, did some sort of magic. Her grandmother would be very pleased to hear about that later on. She wasn't really sure what qualified that tiny little blonde girl or Dragon as metas, but she could figure it out later. Boothe was still talking.

“You eight will rest up this evening. Jet will take you out tonight, and you'll hit tarmac at 0600 tomorrow morning and link up with the field office there. Tiamat, you and Broadway will be trying to link up with any other heroes in the area, since you two are currently the most recognisable. Reeves, you'll help 'em. Everyone else is on response and research.

“The rest of you will be waiting until I get orders, but you'll probably be hitting New York. Rebound,” he pointed at the speedster, “I know I'm sending you to LA. I'll need to discuss that with you later.

“Now look,” he said louder, addressing the whole room again. “We all want these bastards. I know I do. But we do this by the books. If any of them are arrested, I want to make damn sure there's no mistrials or dismissals. Any of these assholes we catch, we keep. And,” Darya saw his fists whiten with tension. “If any of them happen to resist arrest or threaten our lives, well. I'm not gonna complain.”

He looked over the room one more time, then nodded. “Dismissed.”

While excited, Darya was also a little anxious. This would be the first time she had ever been away from her family. Reeves let her know to go grab whatever she needed from her house and be back here by seven. Her weekend was looking more exciting by the minute.
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Hidden 20 days ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Triangle Attack!

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Kelly Brown | Jeanette Forestier | Samantha Kadowsky | Zac Wilson

Swirling winds battered Washington Park while any bystanders who unfortunate enough to have been caught in the storm were scrambling to make their escape. However, what was bizarre about this weather was that the wind storm was isolated only to the immediate vicinity of the park, while the rest of Albany was not affected at all. If this was not enough to freak the park-goers out, a visual distortion of the area caused by a magical portal made some even question their sanity, especially when three costumed metahumans leapt out from the portal.

“Wow! Using these portals would make being a superhero so much easier,” Sammy admitted as she slithered out of the magical portal.

“You have to be the one who changed. Otherwise, you would remember using these portals before,” Kelly speculated.

“But Zac does not remember, either!” Sammy protested, placing her hands on her hips that dissolved into her serpentine tail. “Does that mean he changed, too?”

“Can we please focus on the task at hand?”

The two women dropped the subject at once and turned their attention to the epicenter of the bizarre windstorm, struggling against the winds as they approached. At its center, there stood a woman clad in a silver dress. Her hair was tossed about by the winds that she was commanding. When she sensed the heroes’ presence, the woman raised one arm above her head and she clenched her hand into a fist, causing the winds to die down and become calm once more.

“Finally,” the Silver Sorceress declared as she spun around to face the three metahumans. “You sorry excuses for heroes were taking such a long time to get here that I started to believe you would not show up.”

However, when she caught sight of the heroes, the Silver Sorceress was momentarily shocked to discover that the two ladies of the group had different costumes and powers. Nevertheless, this unexpected sight did not phase the sorceress for long. She immediately cracked a smile once she comprehended what she had just seen.

“Having an early midlife crisis, ladies?” The Silver Sorceress taunted Kelly and Sammy.

“How did you get your powers back?” Kelly snapped back at the Silver Sorceress’s snide remark.

“How cute,” the Silver Sorceress continued in her sarcastic tone, “You really think that I could lose my powers? People can lock me up and sedate me, but no one can take my powers.”

“I wouldn’t say impossible.” Kelly extended her arm out with an open palm facing up. A flame suddenly flared up in her palm, although it did not seem to burn her hand. It flickered about until Kelly clinched her fist close, extinguishing the fire in the process.

“I guess they should start calling you the Scarlet Sorceress, since you’re obviously copying my style.”

However, before the Silver Sorceress and the three heroes could toss any more insults at one another, they all heard wings beating against the air overhead as a blue-haired girl landed next to Zac, Kelly, and Sammy. Her face was partially covered by blue masquerade mask. She also wore a light blue hoodie sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off and dark blue shorts, the bottom of which had a few tear marks where her feet talons had accidentally scratched the fabric of the pants. Her hair was even trimmed short as a pixie cut, presumably because it would be more aerodynamic during than long hair.

“Sorry I’m late! That wind prevented me from flying until now,” Jean apologized, not yet noticing that Kelly and Sammy were appeared differently. “And forgive the outfit. I don’t quite have the budget to get something custom made look your guys’ costumes.”

After she spoke, Jean then realized that something had changed about Kelly and Sammy and she was kicking herself for not spotting it sooner. She was about ready to say something about it, but she saw Zac shaking his head from side to side, signaling that she should not say a word about it.

“So, who’s this gal anyway?” Jean quickly turned to a different sort of question, especially since she had never seen the Silver Sorceress before.

“She’s one of the villains who were involved with that dome crisis a few months ago.”

“And she is supposedly an ex to both of us.” Kelly interjected into Zac’s answer.

“Wait? What?” Jean was puzzled by Kelly’s response. “I didn’t know you were into that.”

“I’m not,” Kelly retorted. “She supposedly disguised herself as a guy when I dated him. The irony that this guy here had the guts to call Lyger gay.”

“First, that was in high school,” Zac tried to defend himself after being pocked in the side by Kelly’s elbow. “Second, she could have only said that to get under our skin. Third, even if it were true, it should reflect on her sexuality, not ours.”

“SILENCE!” The Silver Sorceress yelled, after her patience had run thin from the useless prattling going on between the heroes. “I have a witch to catch in Las Vegas and I have no patience for any delays.”

“Then why are you challenging us?” Zac demanded. “Why would your allies save us from the Hounds a few days ago just for you to target us?”

“Diplodoc was always idealistic. He has a stigma against destroying his prized first creations. However, I do not have that same emotional attachment. To me, you all are just names on a long list of heroes with whom I have to settle the score. Now, shall we begin?”

The Silver Sorceress lifted both of her arms above her head and chanted some words that were inaudible to the four heroes. Just as sudden as it had stopped, the wind storm began to pick up again, being even stronger than before. If the heroes had not braced themselves, the wind could have knocked them off their feet.

“No what?” Jean asked aloud, not intending that question for any particular person. Now that the gale storm had returned, she was essentially grounded.

“We just have to find a way to stop her.”
Hidden 19 days ago 19 days ago Post by Alternax
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It had been a few hours since the Lost Haven University was attacked by the Hounds, now that he was alone he had time to think, and his mind automatically went back to those he couldn’t save. Even with the power he was given he was just one man, he couldn’t possibly have saved all of them. He knew that, but even so, he couldn’t help but feel responsible. The Earth chose him for some reason, but why, wasn’t it to prevent disaster? If these Hounds keep going at it the future the Earth showed him is going to happen.

I need answers, I need a god damn explanation! David angrily thought in his mind.

So he reached into his memories, back to the first time he encountered the supernatural, back to that strange pyramid in South America, back to the crystal obelisk inside. David reached out with his Earth powers, he wanted to see that again, he needed to bring it back out, and he hoped that he could use it to get what he needed.

After what felt like hours he finally did it, something began to crack and emerge from the ground in front of him, and there it was. It came back up in the same odd shape, it was tall, it looked like an orb had been carved into the center, and it still had the same brilliant white glow. It couldn’t possibly be the same crystal. But then again, the one in that Pyramid sunk back underground after David had touched it.

I need to know, who are we fighting, who are you scared of? Is it the Hounds Of Humanity? David asked as he focused himself, planting both of his hands onto the ‘orb’. A few seconds passed and he received no answer, David put some force into his arms as if it would help.

How do I stop the Hounds?” David shouted, but his ears were met with silence.

Show me where the Hounds are, it’s them you want me to fight right?” David shouted once more, and again no answer. David felt his frustration peak and expressed it by punching the crystal pillar, but before his fist could make contact a bright light flared from the crystal and it burst into embers of white light that softly melted back into the ground.

Even if you didn’t mean for me to fight the Hounds, I will regardless. Simply closing my eyes because it’s not my job would make me a terrible hero, and an awful father.

David fell to the ground with a sigh, he wasn’t going to get any further with the Earth or their powers, but there was something he needed to get back to as soon as possible.

----------

David arrived at his house in his normal form, he wasn’t quite sure he was ready to reveal that secret yet, even to his family. With all this business with the Hounds, it might scare them more than anything, and that was something he was never going to do to them.

His house was a two story building, built with red bricks, and a large window right next to the door. Without even needing to enter David could tell they were in the living room, passive flashing lights told him that they were watching TV.

Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his phone and a cold chill swept over him. Using the form he calls Terra Firma, he is essentially naked, no clothes, no armor, and no pockets. The battle against the Hounds and his business afterwards took a few hours, and he had spent all that time in his hero form. During this time he had received close to a hundred calls and messages, from both his wife and daughter, along with Carmine with whom he had switched places with for the day.

It was far too late to call or message that he was alright, except for Carmine but he didn’t matter right now. With a gulp, David unlocked his door and stepped in, bracing himself for what was coming, and hoping he was going to be making the right decisions.
He was right, his family was glued to the tv hoping to hear news about him, they were becoming increasingly worried as their calls and texts continued to go unanswered. But they immediately tossed their gazes towards the door as David made his way in, and their faces said more than words ever could.

“I-I’m home!” David announced with a smile, he wasn’t quite sure how to do this, but he was doing his best.

His wife Cecilia rushed up and slapped her hand across David’s face, leaving him a large red handprint, before drawing into a tight hug. David’s daughter Madison followed soon after and joined the embrace, and together they stood there with the door open for a few minutes before separating. Tears began to stream down all their faces, including David, who had spent most of his day thinking of them, vowing to make sure they never see such brutality.
Never.

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Hidden 19 days ago Post by Dedonus
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Dedonus Triangle Attack!

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Aubrey Adkins | Amanda Allen-James

The two superpowered women descended into the depths of the Hound’s local cell. As they went underground, the air became stale as a result of the lack of any sort of direct air flow. Whether the Hounds did it out of an accustomed habit or for tactical considerations, all the lights had either been dimmed or completed shut off, leaving only whatever artificial light coming from the outside to illuminate the entrance. But once the two women progressed deeper into the nest of anti-metahuman terrorists, they could no longer count on that light to aid their eyesight.

While she could only see a little better than a regular person could in such a situation, Arachne’s so-called spider sense prevented her from being blind in the pitch dark. Although the stagnant air sometimes muddled her senses, the blonde drider’s body utilized her other senses to make up for the blindness caused by the darkness. Therefore, even if the Hounds would try some sort of ambush, Arachne could give her new ally a forewarning.

Eventually, the two women stumbled upon a three-way fork: three passages heading in three different directions. Even this dilemma could not be solved by Arachne’s spider-sense. Now that they had a decision to make, Arachne turned behind herself and checked to make sure Slipstream was still following along as best as she could.

“Which way?” Arachne whispered, just in case the Hounds were hiding in the shadows down one of the halls, even though she could not sense them in their immediate proximity.

“I don’t know.” Slipstream said in a whisper. “”But I think I have an idea.” She finished before vanishing in a blur. First, she zipped down the hallway which lied directly in front of the two heroines. It was a long and narrow hallway, which ended abruptly about a quarter mile from the entrance.

Dead end. she thought to herself before racing back toward the beginning of the hallway. The second hallway was much of the same, a hallway to nowhere that ended as abruptly as the first one. However, the final hallway, the one on furthest to the right, was a different story. It led to a large open doorway, and another set of stairs that led further down into the sublevels of the base. Slipstream rushed back to Arachne coming to a sudden stop directly in front of the spideresque heroine.

“The one on the right. That’s where they are.” Slipstream said to a visibly surprised Arachne. Though Slipstream had travelled quite a distance in exploring the hallways, she had only been gone for an instant, and she had forgotten that occasionally her sudden disappearances and reappearances can be rather unsettling to others.

After they had picked the passageway on the far right, Arachne set up a few silk threads at the entrances of the other two passages as both trip lines to alert them to any movement behind the two heroines and an escape rope so that they could backtrack in the darkness of the tunnels. Her hind arachnid legs took these threads and tied them with a third line that her spider abdomen was producing so that she could keep track of their escape plan, if it happened to become necessary.

The two heroines continued down this path, still in blinded by the pitch black darkness. Eventually the two women stumbled upon a spacious room at the end of the passage. Red emergency lights gave a little visibility, but not enough to illuminate the space. In this room, they found dozens of cages of varying sizes. But what shocked the two girls was that there were people, presumably metahumans, locked up inside the cages.

“My god, what is this?” Slipstream asked as she laid eyes on the small cages and their occupants. “What are these monsters doing with these people?”

When Arachne peered into one of the cages, which contained a young girl no older than herself, flashbacks of three months ago played back in her mind. First, she remembered waking up strapped to a medical table in a repurposed factory in West Virginia where she was injected with Doctor Diplodoc’s serum and swapped powers with Black Widow. Then, her mind turned to the time when she was temporarily in STRIKE custody after being “rescued” from Doctor Diplodoc. Next, she recalled the time when, after the Demon Invasion of Lost Haven, she had been kidnapped by some human traffickers. That was when, through some woman’s greed, she acquired her unbelievable curves. Finally, a scene from only a few weeks ago played out in her mind, where a cabbie driver had attempted to kidnap her and her boyfriend. If revealing her driderlike appearance had not have freaked out the driver, Arachne was not sure what would have happened.

“I can’t breath.” Arachne whispered as she tugged on her mask. She then made a frantic dash towards one of the walls where there were not cages. After pulling off her hair tie and mask, allowing her blonde hair to cascade down over her face, Arachne planted both of her palms against the wall and tried to control her rapid breathing.

“Whoa, what’s wrong?!” Slipstream asked as her new friend bounded away from the cages over to an empty wall. Though the light was dim, she could see that Arachne was suffering from some sort of panic attack. She zipped over to her arachnid friend, and put a hand on her shoulder.

“I don’t know what’s going on in your head, but right now you have to pull it together. These people aren’t going to rescue themselves.” Slipstream said as she urged Arachne to get her head back in the game.

“I know,” Arachne responded to Slipstream as she continued to take deep breaths. “But I had past experiences like this that have left me looking like…”

Before completing her sentence, Arachne cut herself off before she called herself a freak or monster. Pushing herself to regain her composure, she took one last deep breath and then pulled her mask back on, threading her ponytail through the back of the mask.

“God, at this rate, I might as well stop trying to conceal my identity if I keep pulling my mask off,” Arachne said while trying to distract herself from the harsh memories that the Hound’s base made her recall. “So, should we start peeling open these sardine cans?”

“Right.” Slipstream said in agreement as she made her way to the first cage. Grabbed the door of the cell which held a young woman and pulled. However, the door didn’t budge. “This is no good. This thing is solid.” She said to no one in particular.

If only we had a jackhammer she thought to herself.

Then she had an idea. If she could pull at the cage with enough speed, she could for all intents and purposes become the jackhammer.

“I have a plan.” She announced before turning to Arachne, “You might want to step back.” She said as she regripped the cage door. She took a deep breath and began moving her arms at an incredible rate of speed, at first it didn’t seem to do anything, but after several seconds, the door started violently vibrating, before coming off the hinges altogether.

Slipstream tossed the cage door aside, which landed with a metallic clang. She then bent over and offered the young woman who had been trapped inside the cage a hand. At once, Slipstream pulled the girl to her feet and lead her out of the miniature steel prison. However, when Slipstream had lead the girl out of her enclosure, supporting her by draping the girl’s arm over her own shoulder, she discovered that Arachne was standing there with her hands on her hips, shaking her head.

“You do realize that I have superhuman strength, despite what my arms would imply?” She then approached another of the cages. After yanking the cage’s door with a single pull, the drider superheroine forced the locked door open. “We might be more efficient if I were to open the doors and you run everyone out of here.”

Slipstream nodded before zipping out of the Hound’s base while leading out the young girl she had just freed. Meanwhile, Arachne turned towards the next cage, which she broke open just as easily as the last one. When she peered over her shoulder, she found Slipstream waiting for the next prisoner to set free, since she had obviously already rescued the first two individuals whom they released from the cages. Seeing how swiftly Slipstream could exit and reenter the base, Arachne knew she had to quicken her own pace to keep up with the speedster, if that was even possible.

“Is that everyone?” Slipstream asked once she had ran the last person out of the base.

“At least the last one in this room,” Arachne answered while she catch her breath after trying to keep up with Slipstream’s speed. “God knows whether there’s more in this rat nest.”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Slipstream concluded. She was preparing to zoom off down the hall when Arachne sensed a small projectile speeding towards Slipstream. Instinctively, Arachne reached out and pulled the speedster out of the way, momentarily pressing Slipstream face first into her body before releasing her after a second bullet round went off. While Arachne hit the deck, Slipstream rolled to the side and tumbled to her feet. She zipped forward and disarmed the Hound goon before he could do any damage.

“I’ll check what’s down this way.” She told Arachne before zooming away. However, a split second later, Slipstream blinked back in front of Arachne. “Oh, I told the police what was happening. They’ll be here as soon as they finish dealing with an incident in town.”

After Slipstream departed again, Arachne was left alone in the dark room. Once a few seconds past, she began to wonder what was taking her so long. Either this gas station hideout was larger than they expected or she must have ran into trouble. She hesitated whether she should go after the speedster. However, the spider-themed superheroine soon discovered that she was in no position to offer any aid to Slipstream. When her senses detected several individuals slowly creep up from the way that the two women had entered, Arachne fully expected to be greeted by a barrage of lead.

However, the only thing that they tossed at her was a small spherical device. Since the red emergency lights did not give much visibility, Arachne could not tell what the device was until it was too late. When she realized that it was a flash grenade, the device had just set off, blasting Arachne in the face with a bright eruption of light. She stumbled to the side from being blinded by the grenade. Now, she really was going to need to utilize her other senses to make sure the Hounds would not dispatch her easily.
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Sam rolled out of bed as the hateful chiming of her alarm clock roused her from a wonderful dream. Though the dream itself had already begun to fade from her memory, it left her feeling light and happy. It was almost as if she had nothing to worry about, She did remember, however, that in her dream there were no heroes and villains, no Hounds of Humanity, and she didn’t have to worry about whether Kyle would make it home to her after spending his nights out fighting criminals as Lyger. For a moment, once the realization that it had all been just a dream, she felt somewhat deflated. She stood there a moment listening to the alarm before she finally went over to it and turned it off.

Then, she looked down at the clock.

10:02AM

She didn’t have to be over to the campus for her radio show until just after noon, but she liked to get there early to sort through the music that she would play, as well as any topics of the day that she might have to touch on briefly. Fortunately, with the majority of the student body away on summer break, preparations for her show took considerably less time, as the shows were listened to by practically no one, she could realistically allow a chimp to do the show and nobody would notice. Still, she liked to be prepared for her show, no matter who was, or more accurately, who wasn’t listening. Being careful not to wake Kyle, she crept across the room and grabbed her favorite oversized tee shirt, which went all the way down to her knees and slipped it on, before sneaking out of the room to go shower.

Shortly after her shower, she returned to the room she shared with Kyle and quietly got dressed. After a quick check to make sure she had everything; her phone, keys, purse, and sunglasses, she made her way out to her beat up blue Toyota. As she got settled into the driver’s seat she adjusted the seat and mirrors, as Kyle was the last one to drive the car and he was a bit taller than she was, and tuned the radio to her favorite station before she pulled out of the narrow driveway and started out toward Lost Haven University.

The drive from the house in Crown Ridge wasn’t too bad, in fact, it was such an easy commute that she was considering giving up her on campus housing in the fall and save some money by living with Kyle full time, as he’d already discussed the probability that he wouldn’t be returning to dorm life once the school year started again. It took her only about fifteen minutes to travel from Crown Ridge to Lost Haven, however, once she got into the city, traffic began to slow a bit. It took another twenty minutes to get from the city line to Little Ulster, which was only a few blocks from LHU.

“But I won´t cry for yesterday, there´s an ordinary world. Somehow I have to find, and as I try to make my way…” she trailed off from her duet with her car’s radio as she noticed drove past the new Thai place that opened about a half a block from LHU’s North Campus, Phuken Gud. The name itself usually drew a snicker from her when she passed the place, but this morning there was something off. Blue flashing lights up ahead drew her attention to the police line that had blocked access to the campus. Just ahead of her a uniformed police officer directed traffic away from the school entirely.

“That can’t be good.” Sam said to herself as she changed the radio channel to a local news station which was discussing the active shooter situation on the LHU campus. Though they didn’t have much information to go on as it was a developing news story, they were able to confirm that multiple shooters had descended on the campus and there were a number of casualties.

Sam felt a swelling in her chest as the news began to sink in, and just as one of the news anchors had suggested that the school was somehow lucky that this occurred during the summer break, and not during the regular school year as the number of casualties would potentially be much greater, the tears began to flow down her face.

"My god." She said to herself as she reached for her cell phone, her first instinct was to call Kyle and fill him in on what she knew.

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This is an elsewhere story and does not affect canon...yet

“90’s” Aubrey Adkins

Earth-99

6:35 PM, January 8th, 2011

I still can’t get it wrapped around my head how I can still only wear a light sweatshirt in the middle of winter on Nautican Island. What’s even more bizarre is how you would find white heaps of snow coating the ground if you were to sail to the mainland. Although I have no clue whether the big wigs of this island are using some advanced technology or metahumans captured during this years Halloween riots, but the reason why is obvious. This island is supposed to be a refuge for people wanting to escape the bitter mainland winter, Heck, there even been a few days where it was warm enough to recline at one of the many beaches on Nautical Island’s shores.

Even though it was already getting dark, I took the back alley to enter the Lotus through its rear entrance so the club patrons wouldn’t harass me on my way in. For the last three months, I have tried to find a different line of work, but I swear that all the metahumans kidnapped during the Halloween riots must be on some sort of black list or something. I couldn’t even get a job at freaking Hooters! The pay at the Lotus can be nice at times, although I’m not sure it makes up for what it does to my dignity. From what I have heard from the other girls, things could be worse. The Lotus could demand a house fee that could potentially send us into the red on bad nights.

When I passed through the back doors of the Lotus, the aroma of sweat and perfume mingled together smacked me in the face. Our locker room was situated at the rear entrance so we could conveniently change before heading to the floor. Not having to dress like a hooker until we’re on the job helps us not be in compromising situations when we come and go (but especially when we leave). Nothing screams high risk victim like wearing heals, short-skirts, and glitter. Sure, most of us are metahumans, but no amount of powers can help you when someone jumps you at 3 A.M.

While I made my way over to my locker to get changed, I stuck out like a sore thumb in respect to the other girls. If we weren’t working at a club, someone might have confused my co-workers as Playboy bunnies from their physical attributes. On the other hand, compared to them, I looked like a two-by-four. The owner and manager of the Lotus, a woman named Catherine, had a hand in the looks of her female employees, and I don’t mean that she’s selective in the application process. Rather, she was in fact a metahuman, too, whose powers are the ability to any person’s physical appearance. You might be wondering, if this is the case, why I look like my co-workers? Well, Catherine can’t say she hasn’t tried. However, my metahuman healing factor was causing some complications. For the first couple times, it took about a week for my healing factor to revert to its original state. But now, the changes that Catherine would make would only last less than 24 hours.

“Rikki,” Catherine called me by my stage name. She stood in the threshold between the locker room and the rest of the establishment, tapping her toe impatiently against the floor. Every night when I was scheduled to work at the Lotus, I had to come in early so that Catherine could ‘work her magic,’ as she would put it. Therefore, I tossed my personal belongings into my locker and followed Catherine into one of the small side rooms attached to the locker room. Inside this room, there was a single table with a padded surface that looked like it belonged in the coroner’s office than a strip club.

I lay down onto the table, while Catherine walked around the table and stationed herself on the side of the table where my head was resting. She then pressed her fingers against my cheekbones before activating her powers. Since I’ve gone through this process several times before, I’ve gotten used to the pain from my body being literally morphed. I blocked what pain still remained by closing my eyes and preoccupying myself with happier thoughts, especially the memories of my life before it was turned upside down by some madman’s desire to leave his imprint on humanity. When I no longer felt her cold fingers on my skin, I opened my eyes and checked what she did to me now.

Since I had witness the results of Catherine’s powers several times before, I was barely fazed by my new appearance, even though she had morphed my body into a form more exaggerated than she had ever done before. I wasn’t quite sure how my now improbably tiny waist could support my upper body, especially how stacked I was, but that’s a problem for Catherine if the Lotus wants to make money off of me.

Since I thought we were through, I began to sit up so that I could get off the table and clock in. However, I felt Catherine’s fingers grasp my shoulders and pressed me back down against the table again as forcefully as she could without hurting me.

“We’re not done yet,” She asserted before placing her hands against my face. Just like last time, an acute pain permeated my body as, for whatever reason, she changed my appearance again. However, unlike the first transformation, I was shocked at the end result. She had reverted my appearance back to what I normally looked like. With a confused expression on my face, I kept glancing at Katherine and then back at my normal body. However, she didn’t say a single word about what the hell was going on.

I decided to sit up and try to leave before Catherine decided to change her mind. But before I even took my third step, a pain that felt like what our manager’s powers caused flared up again, although this time is was far more intense. It was so intense that it caused me to drop to my knees as I winced in pain. I watched in horror as each individual part of my body simultaneously transformed into the various forms that Catherine had morphed them into each time she had used her powers. They kept rotating through the different appearances, almost like a twisted and disturbed slot machine. After the pain died down and my body stopped cycling through my past transformations, the resulting appearance began to blend itself together, resulting in a body that did not look like a patchwork of mismatched body parts.

“Not quite the result that I expected,” Catherine admitted. “But I’ll count this as a success.”

She then turned for the door and walked out, leaving me sprawled on the floor. What was the point of transforming me twice in a row? It’s pretty obvious that she would have more control over my appearance if she had stuck to her usual routine.

After Catherine left, I rose to my feet and made my way back to my locker to get changed. However, before I passed through the door to the locker room, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror mounted on the wall in this room. God, I looked as if someone had used photoshop to make me look like a Liefeld artwork. How could this get any worse?
Hidden 13 days ago Post by Luna
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Luna Markiplier Fan

Member Seen 7 days ago



Location- Smithy’s Drug & Grocery Store. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Time-Between 9-10 PM



Snarling in frustration at the pup’s continuous resistance to her. Deciding that her wolf form was not useless in this situation, she turned back to her human form.

”This is bad. If he continues to turn like this, he will become feral.” She thought aloud. Her eyes widened as she watched the events play in front of her. Wait did Ben follow Yeong’s path of wind somehow. That should have been impossible.

The confusion began to take hold at this point. No werewolf should be able to follow magic like that. She continued to follow the events with wide eyes. She wanted to smack her sister when she grabbed him completely wrong. She figured it was time to teach her sister how to handle a newborn. She made a mental note for later.

Seeing that nothing was helping Ben, Ji was about to get involved when it happened. Something big happened. Horror and anger filled her as she saw the interaction between the witch and Ben. She recognized what was happening. It was something she had experienced many times before in her former pack. A pack imprint.

”YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” she blurted out not caring if everyone heard her. It was rare to see Ji lose her cool like this, but this was bad. Imprinting was a good thing in normal cases. But this was far from a normal case. Marie was a human, so it was impossible for her to feel the pack mentality Ben was feeling for her. If Marie were to get attacked, all it would take is one major attack to kill Ben.

She felt her anger grow towards herself for delaying this. If she would have kept at him, she could have prevented this. This meant a lot more work on her part. She growled and decided now was a good time to intervene. Rushing over to Marie and Ben's location; she gave Marie a very stern look

"You have any idea what Ben and you did?! she asked bluntly, her arms crossing.


@Fallenreaper, @DearTrickster, @Demonic Angel, @Rtron, @fdeviant. @ShyDot

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