Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Konan375
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Konan375

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For half a moment Maeve and Kiara froze as the two asylums hit the ground, and Olivia started screaming. Then, experience took over. ”Everyone out!” Maeve bellowed, gesturing for the students to leave. They stood there, in a more stunned silence than when
Angel had beaten down Samad and Cade.

Maeve took a deep breath, rolled her shoulders, and then yelled again. I SAID OUT! Her alchemically enhanced voice reverberated through the whole room, galvanizing the students to leave, and leave quickly.

Kiara put her arms around Olivia, ignoring the stream of students around them. Right now, the younger woman needed help and that was all that mattered. She still found amusing, in the distant back of her mind, that she cared this much about people. Even after being an asylum for as long as she had, after seeing the darkest humanity had to offer, here she was. Helping a girl she barely even knew. ”Hey, hey. Focus. It’s going to be okay. Come with me, it’ll be easier if you two are touching. We’ll get him back, I promise. But you need to come with me.”

”I yield.” Lawrence croaked as he tried to figure out what just happened. His link with Olivia had faltered, not fully dropped. The fact that he wasn’t dead proved that fact. Samad had been a special case. It still felt like a part of him had died, though. All of the pleasant, optimistic thoughts that swam at the back of his mind were gone, replaced by the simmering hatred and rage that had always been there. He pulled himself to his feet, reaching into his pocket and grabbing his Rubik’s Cube. He spotted Olivia crouched on the bleachers and covering her head.

”Yeah, no shit!”

Not good. If Olivia was feeling anything even remotely similar to him, her mind would be in shambles. Lawrence started to make his way towards his partner, only pausing with a flinch because a terrible pain ripped through his ear. He jerked away from Maeve with a scowl, his eyes flaring with a deep rage. He blinked and focused on his Rubik’s cube, forcing his anger down.

”Just because I’m deaf doesn’t mean I’m immune to noise. Watch it!” He looked back at Olivia, who had started to rock on her heels. ”Get your partner away from her. The next few moments won’t be pleasant for anyone within distance of her.”

Maeve deigned to ignore the oxymoron Lawrence just uttered, focusing on the situation at hand. ”Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. She’s got a bleeding heart. What the fuck happened?”

”GET AWAY!” Olivia batted Kiara’s hands away from her. As she rocked back and forth, she started to sing a song underneath her breath. Soon the sensitivities of all those around began to increase. Then the tune changed and pain started radiating from her. There was nowhere safe for her to be. She began to tune those around her out and retreated into her mind.

”I would love to but you need to get to Lawrence.” Kiara replied through gritted teeth as pain hit her harder. Olivia seemed to increasing their sensitivities and then radiating pain, it would have been clever if it wasn’t for the fact that it seemed to be largely unconscious.

”We can fix this Olivia you just need to help us help you.” Kiara sighed as she saw Olivia begin to retreat into her mind. ”Alright plan B it is.”

She reached out to the Ante Mortem with her mind. Angel, Reri, we need help. Olivia and Lawrence’s link got hurt or reduced somehow, and we don’t have the mental power to help them reconnect.

As the wave of pain emanated from the withered Asylum, the Chrono remained as nonchalant and stoic as ever, her mismatched eyes observing the spectacle, unmoved, uncaring, not a hint of worry or excitement. Like a doll she simply watched. Ideally she would have prefered to have her partner around so the students could have learned from this experience. Angel could have told them of the three primary dangers which alchemists face.

The first and foremost being the threat of ‘Insannadiction’, alchemy is a taint which is addictive. The more you use it, the more you get tainted and the more you wish to use it till but an echo remains of what you were.

The second danger arose from trying to surpass your limits. Everyone is born with a predefined alchemic potential and when you try to go beyond that, the body takes the brunt. It is called an ‘Alchemic Backlash’ where you push your alchemy beyond its limits and in turn the body takes the toll in the form of physical damage.

The third threat arises from exposure to unhealthy amounts of foreign alchemic energy. Every alchemist possesses an alchemic drive, the basic purpose of which is to breathe in alchemic energy and transmute it into alchemic power. Every alchemic drive is unique and often incompatible with another, When an Asylum is exposed to extreme levels of another’s alchemic drive and or warped alchemic energy they are afflicted with ‘Alchemic Poisoning’. This affects the mind, the body as well as the alchemic capabilities of the victim.

“You will not disturb my brother,” Rin replied, her callous voice overwhelming Kiara’s mind and shattering the channel she was trying to establish though just a second too late. If the Chrono should have been shocked she didn’t show it, instead she simply observed time slow down around her until everything came to a still. Thin cracks slowly began to appear around them as if the world was fracturing, reality breaking upon itself. Rin though knew that this was simply how the mind reacted when being dragged into the void. The purpose of it though alluded her, Angel was not so selfless as to assist at the expense of his rest.

“This is unusual,” Reri was the first to materialize and solidify her conscious within the ethereal realm. The world around them seemed far from stable and it was still blank and even more importantly Angel was not present. Her partner once described that the Void is endless and infinite, a psychic plane of existence that connects to the subconscious minds of all intelligent life. Or how he put it for the layman, ‘the void is the road that exists between our minds, it is a glue that binds the collective conscience’. She was also well versed in the rules of the void, one’s conscience could only solidify in an architects domain, for if one were to be thrust out into the crude void their consciousness would be lost for an eternity. It was easy to deduce that they were present in an Architects domain but it was crude, as if a pale reflection of the original. There was also the issue of the absence of Angel, without the architect the domain remained blank, easily influenced by the inhabitants. Meaning the world around them would shift to the whims of the Asylums present.

“Banshees……” The Chrono slowly whispered those words, her lifeless eyes meeting with theirs and though her expression remained as emotionless as usual,a cold and sinister aura seemed to pulse from within her. “What….. did…. you...do?.”

Maeve groaned in irritation as she saw where she was. Angel was too damn lazy to come himself, so he gave them this stupid place. It was practically his favorite ‘take people here when I don’t really wanna put effort into talking to or helping them’ place to use. Maeve’s face briefly twitched in irritation at the misuse of their team name, but didn’t mention it. Rin wouldn’t care anyway.

”Fuck all. We were just continuing with the sparring. Lawrence hit the ground, the connection snapped, and the two of us aren’t skilled enough in mental alchemy to help them reconnect it.”

Why can’t it have been Rena in control. Kiara thought tiredly, standing up as the void took form around them. They could have bribed Rena to get Angel to help, or at the very least she would have been less threatening. Kiara couldn’t be bothered to make the world around them too her liking, she had to figure out how to get the two other asylums connected.

”Maeve’s right, if tactless. We didn’t do anything, intentional or unintentional. She and Lawrence were sparring. Lawrence hit the floor, the connection broke, and now here we are. We need someone with better mental alchemy than us to help them reconnect, otherwise we might make things worse.”

”I’m not entirely sure that the connection broke.” Lawrence said those gathered. ”It’s diminished greatly, to the point where, unless you focused on it, it would seem that the connection had been severed. I suspect the culprit of this is either the time spent in the tanks, or the poisoning.” He looked around as the location they were in, that was originally flickering between the different minds of the Asylums, took form.

Grey, dingy walls lined a black and white tiled hallway. Doorways lined the walls at fixed intervals that stretched on for seemingly forever. The harsh white flickering glow of fluorescent lights saturated the hallway. If the gurneys that lay scattered around were anything to go by, they were in an old hospital. Lawrence sighed. He knew this place. Looking around, he noticed that Olivia wasn’t a part of the group here. Even better. Guess they needed to find her before they could get to fixing the issue of their disrupted link.

“Looks like someone is wandering where they shouldn’t be.” A silhouette appeared off in the far distance of the hallway. The voice was overtly cheerful. “No, that just won’t do. Come along, let’s get you where you ought to be before anything bad happens to you.” The figure started advancing towards the group.

“Locate -LIV- and terminate or pacify the source of disturbance,” Rin commanded mechanically, her eyes sweeping the changes in their surroundings, distortions caused by their subconscious minds.

“The absence of Angel has made this zone highly volatile, our minds will be our enemy. Maintain calm and proceed methodically.” The Little Chrono spoke in her usual deadpan monotone, her mismatched set of eyes settling on the figure in front. “It is impossible to kill a void wraith, they are not real, a manifestation of one’s morbid subconscious…..silence….or pacify…..now.” Her cold apathetic gaze landing on the ‘Banshees’.

Lawrence ignored the slowly approaching figure in the distance and instead opened one of the multiple doors down the hallway. The door led to a small padded room that looked similar to the boxes that AMRO tended to throw the more violent new recruits when they first arrived. Lawrence frowned and moved to another door. The same padded room. Several more doors revealed the same room.

The next room was different.

It was smaller than the padded room, but what caught Lawrence’s attention was that it was coated in blood. The metal walls, the examining table, which was warped and bowed inward, and even the floor were covered in gore. Almost too much blood to have come from only one person, but Lawrence knew the story. This was where Olivia surged.

The next room that Lawrence searched had a wooden pedestal. Laying on top was a small disk made of some sort of metal. Small enough to fit in his hand easily. Lawrence frowned as he stared at it. Compared to the rest of the rooms and the hallway, which had a fuzzy haze to it, the disk was in vivid detail.

The figure came closer. A man with greying hair and a smile that appeared far too wide for his face. He wore a green t-shirt and a pair of worn jeans. At Rin’s words, the man’s smile fell. “You were chosen for something greater and this is how you repay me, repay us?” He cracked his neck from side to side and rolled his shoulders. His arms elongated with the motion and metal rushed like liquid around his hands and fingers, which were stretching out, and formed sharp looking blades.

“Very well. You have been chosen, yes, but you’ve been found unworthy. The unworthy shall be culled.” He dashed forward towards the Banshees and Rin.

“Yeah, yeah sure leave us with the job of pacifying the whacko.” Maeve muttered in annoyance as Lawrence disappeared into one of the doors. ”Listen buddy, I don’t know who you are. Or really care. All I know is that I have to deal with you because someone with immense power can’t be bothered.” She held up a hand, bone shards forming in it. ”So be a good wraith thing, and just go down easy.” The bone shards launched themselves from her hand, whistling as they raced towards the man.

As the bone shards shot towards their opponent, Kiara waited for the man’s reaction. When his attention was fully on the shards attacking him, she struck, his shadow rearing back and going to wrap itself around his limbs, mouth, and body, in an attempt to restrain him.

Rin observed the ordeal with impassive eyes, her slender silhouette calmly retreating away, following Lawrence.

“Void Wraiths... never die for they never are….leave them and find the source of this disturbance.” Rin’s voice echoed as she disappeared through one of the many doors in the corridor, her voice lingering a bit and then silence, leaving the Banshees alone with the wraith,

It didn’t take long for the Wraith to untangle itself, its body shifting from incorporeal to tangible in strange fluctuations. Its eerie, inhuman eyes locked onto the Banshees with that demonic grin spreading wider and wider, splitting the wraith’s face.

”You just said to deal with it!” Maeve yelled at the Chrono’s retreating back, throwing up a stone wall in front her and Kiara. Kiara hurriedly drew a sigil on it before falling back with Maeve. The wall would explode around and attempt to seal the wraith when he destroyed it.

”Fucking wraiths. Fucking chrono. Fucking kids damaging their connection.” Maeve muttered, heading through the door. Kiara followed, warily watching behind them for another attack.

The wall collapsing seemed to offer little relief, the Wraith merely phased through the rubble with a single flicking finger admonishing the Banshees in a most irritating manner. “Tsk tsk, you had a chance to be a part of something greater. Now you have the chance of just being torn apart. Why do you reject me…..WHY?” The wraith bellowed, its anger sending a surge of instability across the world around them, an earthquake. It’s left hand had now more or less morphed into a sickening blade, dented and cruel while on its other hand the nail grew to an obscenely terrifying length, sharp and deadly.

“Accept my love, for it is endless!” The creature spoke in it’s monstrous voice as it madly dashed towards the two Asylums.

The doors in the hallway were seemingly endless, with each of the doors holding one of the three rooms. Lawrence cursed as he opened a door to another blood-filled room. He needed to find Olivia before the wraith escalated.

Soon, he found himself in what looked like the lobby of the hospital. Panicked sounding shouts could be heard from outside the main door, slowly dwindling before they grew quiet and started over. He almost didn’t hear the hushed sobs coming from behind the front desk. Lawrence rounded desk to find Olivia hiding underneath it, her arms wrapped around her knees as she rocked back and forth.

She looked ragged, as if she hadn’t slept in weeks. She was wearing a shirt that looked like it had once been white. Her hair was a mess, with tangles and snarls in it. Olivia’s mind was a mess, if Lawrence went by her appearance in the void.

Lawrence placed a hand on Olivia’s shoulder and she reacted immediately. She grabbed his hand and twisted away from her body. Her eyes were wild and unfocused as she stared at Lawrence. Slowly, her eyes locked onto Lawrence and she let go of his hand.

”What happened? I...I thought you-”

”I didn’t. Do you remember what Angel said after the tanks, about the symptoms of alchemic poisoning?”

Olivia nodded. “Yes, we’d experience claustrophobia, hallucinations, migraines, and-”

”And link disturbances, yes. Not extremely pleasant. We’ll be fine, though. That is, if we get out of here. It seems that we have been brought into the void, and we have ourselves the late O'Doherty to deal with.”

Olivia’s face paled as she looked down the hallway where the sounds of the fight between the wraith and the others.

”Fuck your love! Maeve shouted back at him as the world shook, dragging Kiara through and slamming the door shut. She gestured and another wall sealed over the door, ready to attempt to stomp the monster again. Kiara herself merely sighed and looked around at the room. They were going to be here a while, so long as Angel didn’t show and the other two’s link remained disturbed.

Maeve concentrated for a moment, a large automatic shotgun appearing in her hands. ”There we go. This oughta do it.” She said appreciatively, aiming it at the door. Kiara looked at her, raising an eyebrow. ”And what are you going to do with that?”

”Shoot the sonuvabitch.”

”It’s a wraith. It can’t be killed that way.”

”It’ll make me feel better, at the very least.”

Kiara sighed again, drawing a sigil on the ground behind Maeve. As the wraith burst through the door and the wall, Maeve unloading her shotgun at it, Kiara’s sigil activated and iron chains burst from the ground, attempting to wrap themselves around the wraith.

The process repeated itself once more, the Wraith took the shotgun shells point blank, the slugs rendering it’s flesh while the chains coiled around it. The creature simply phased through, shrugging away the binding and the damage, its form regenerating back to its original repelling state and moving towards the Banshees ever so slowly.

“Did you try and shoot a Void Wraith?” Angel’s voice suddenly whispered behind the Banshee followed by a taunting snicker. “You can’t kill a Wraith…” The Lost Number replied, telling them once again the infuriating fact about the infuriating creature in his infuriatingly casual demeanour. The Reaper had manifested right behind the little sirens, lounging atop a grand throne. His appearance looked considerably different; thinner, slumped, exhausted. What was even more stark was he was completely transparent, his form as ethereal as the creature in front of him, perhaps more so. Angel was impervious to contact but it seemed he was also invisible to the Wraith.

“Maybe you primitive women would prefer to stab it with a stick next? I do believe it would be amusing to witness such a spectacle, you wouldn’t mind if I observe?” The Lost Number crowed, his fingertips starting to gently tap his temple. “Where are the other fools?”

”We wouldn’t need to kill a wraith if your dumb ass hadn’t dragged us in here!” Maeve snapped back at Angel, taking steps back as she threw the shotgun at the Wraith. It exploded when it reached him.

”All we asked for was help, not this godsdamned mess!” She glared at him over her shoulder. ”I hope you’re exhausted. And that because of this your favorite foods taste like ash! If I die here I’m coming back from the dead just to stab you with a stick!”

Kiara sighed quietly, drawing another Sigil on the ground, a pillar of stone erupted forth to attempt to hit the Wraith in the chest. ”Lawrence went to find Olivia, Rin followed. Given that it’s Rin, I can only assume her goal was to kill Olivia, Lawrence, or both, to get rid of the Void Wraith. Your time is, hopefully, perfect. She’ll probably not kill them now. We’d generally appreciate it if you did more than watch, but we expect you to not do anything more than that.”

“Your conjuring is a hindrance,” the Chrono’s cold and empathic voice echoed as her petite outline appeared through a door while approaching Lawrence and the petrified Olivia. Rin’s expression was blank, no anger, no frustration, no expression but the absence of expression. Her mismatched eyes callously observing the Asylums as one may observe an ant. In but a few short strides the child stood before the two, her appearance an exact replica of how she appeared in the real world, like a fragile doll dressed in a victorian gown, all except in her left hand she wielded a considerably large scythe.

In an instant Rin closed the distance to Olivia, her scythe already mid swing and suddenly stopping inches from decapitation. “My brother has arrived…….” The Chrono mused as her scythe still hovered uncomfortably close to the two Asylums. “Very well you may as well indulge him as well, face your wraith….or would you rather choose the alternative?”

Lawrence’s gaze shifted from the scythe inches from Olivia’s neck to Rin. Olivia was still too lost in her own mind to notice her near death. He could hear his pulse pounding in his ears as he stood up to stare at the girl. Olivia flinched away from him, her hands covering her head. The distraction made him aware that his hands had been clenching into fists hard enough that his knuckles were starting to hurt. The area around him had been in the middle of distorting in a violent bubbling way that warped the room.

Lawrence took in a deep breath and fished in his pocket for his Rubik’s cube. For a few seconds, he dedicated himself in the calming algorithm and clicking of the cube. Once he was as calm as he could be, he turned his attention back to Olivia. She was staring down into the hallway with a worried expression. ”Hey.” He set his hand on Oliva’s shoulder. Olivia looked up at him. Oh, how he hated this. ”I think it’s time for a second round with this bastard, don’t you?” Olivia nodded hesitantly. ”Remember, you’re in control.”

”I’m in control…” Olivia repeated Lawrence robotically. She frowned, and then she slowly started to smile. She sang a small song under her breath and flinched as if she had been struck. The room around them shifted momentarily.

Olivia stood up from her hiding place under the desk and her form flickered and changed. She now wore a dark grey sweater and a pair of black cargo pants. Her hair was free of tangles and now straight. She reached into a pocket in her pants and pulled out a black skullcap. She put it on and grinned at Lawrence. I’m in control this time around.” Olivia rubbed her hands together. “Ohhhh, this is going to be so cathartic.”

Angel seemed to nod away as Maeve spoke, his hollowed gaze staring through the Asylum with an expression of disinterest. Much like how a parent entertains the gibberish of toddler. His eerie gaze switching from Kiara to Maeve to the Wraith, neither a company he is all too fond off. One the ironic idealist, one the tactless berserker and a conjuring of a terrorized mind. ”Lovely” The Lost Number though to himself while observing the futile fight.

“I am doing a tad bit more than...nothing,” the Reaper replied casually, each sentence spoken lazily, deliberately slow. “I am maintaining two parallel worlds...simultaneously. I would be far more convenient to just let the world collapse and my partner and I could, quite possibly, materialize our consciousness in the real.” As he spoke he continued the soft melodious tapping, as if almost considering the less exhausting option. “But you all may not have the same luxury. You Banshees have managed to persistently stay alive, infuriatingly thwarting the Universe which pairs you with the Demons that have a track record of….. misplacing….their teammates.” A rather sly smirk appeared on Angel’s face as he continued to observe the life threatening battle waging between the Banshees and the Wraith. “Wouldn’t want to spoil that record and of course the infamous reputation, ‘The Reapers’ Shadow’, yes that is what they call you.”

It wasn’t long till the Lost Number sensed the other two, Olivia and Lawrence approach, no doubt hoping to join this tedious exercise. “We all have countless tethers that keep us chained, keep us caged. Fear, hatred, guilt, regrets. It takes a moment of panic, just a moment of hesitation to trap you. That creature is nothing but a representation of a tether. A wraith can not be killed…..because it is not real.” Angel’s voice was now nothing more than an exhausted whisper. “Can you stab a fable? You can not undo that which does not exist but you can strengthen it by believing it does. There is no way to kill a wraith because it is nothing. Make nothing realize it is nothing and it goes back to being nothing. Beat a Chimera…..what’s a ghost?” With that Angel gave Olivia a knowing wink.

How easy it would have been to just walk away, am I not tired enough….I know what is to come….then…..why?” Angel’s palm had hidden his face, too tired to aid the others...or perhaps simply regretting helping them at all.

Olivia barely glanced at Angel as she drew her pistol from its holster and emptied the entire clip into the wraith. She drew her other pistol and shot it one more time. There was a pause, then all of the bullets that she had hit the wraith with punched out of its side and into the wall next to it. She stared at it for a second before frowning. ”That didn’t help near as much as I wanted it to. It’s a shame he’s already dead,” she muttered to herself before turning to Angel. “You look like garbage.” She glanced back at the wraith. “So how do we kill him? Again.”

Angel remained still for a few seconds, his palm covering his face. Two fingers parted allowing his blackened gaze to fixate on the Asylums. “Believe it gone?” The Lost Number finally replied with a weary shrug.

Olivia scrunched her face up. ”Seriously? You’re saying it’s that simple?” She turned to face the slowly approaching void wraith. It had nothing in common with the person it came from. Perhaps they shared the same height, but that was it. The man was dead and gone, and this wraith was a shadow of the monster he had been. As she stared at it, it started to change, until it looked like the man that had originally approached the banshees,

Olivia frowned, and her form flickered at the sight of the man. A moment of her original bedraggled appearance before her gaze hardened on the manifestation of her panic and she was back in her mission attire. The wraith’s eyes darted around the room in a panic. His arms held in front of him as if he were holding something. A deep gash dragged along his arm from the inside of his elbow down to his wrist, and he threw his arms out with a cry.

“You little b—” His voice was cut off as a quarter of his skull disappeared with a spray of red mist. The wraith fell to the ground and vanished.

”That was extremely lacking in catharsis..” Olivia crossed her arms and glared at where the wraith had fallen before turning to Angel. ”So why did you bring us here, anyway? If you say it was to teach some sort of lesson, I will find you after this and do my damndest to strangle you.”

”He brought us here because he couldn’t be bothered to just say ‘no’ and not bring us here.” Maeve interjected, cracking her knuckles. She hated this place. It was too figurative, to intangible. She dealt best with things she could touch and break and not have to worry about her belief in them.

”When you two had your incident, I reached out to Angel to help balance you two. Caught him while he was doing something similar to this with the Experimental Team. We got dragged in and now we have to figure our way out. Angel’s rooms don’t just ‘end’ like normal people’s mind conversations.”

Angel’s eyeless gaze flickered across the Asylums in front of him, his expression distasteful as if one had nibbled on something rather sour. “The rules and laws of the Void are incomprehensible, even I had not thought a tear in my fabricated reality possible.” A rather casual shrug followed as the Lost Number made himself comfortable in his throne, the world around them reshaping itself to his whims. The Victorian stylized, candle lit, library resurfacing once more. It took but a few seconds of mild discomfort as the world around them shifted, changed into a maze of furniture and conjuring then it was all still, even the candle flames.

“Understand what I am about to say to you children, I perceive no joy in your belated stay in my world. I have two choices, to eject my partner and I and let you lot be lost in the Void for an eternity of suffering or attempt to last long enough till you bothersome fools escape. Let me also state that my patience as well as my strength is waning.” A weary sigh escaped his partner, his exhausted expression suddenly uplifted with a smile upon seeing Rin walk onto their group.

“Your amusement will be the death of you…” The little Chrono replied as her cold gaze fixated upon Angel, the others too insignificant to acknowledge.

“How sweet it is to be doted, I do thank you little one.” The Reaper replied with a light hearted chuckle and receiving yet another cold glare, albeit one more pacified than before.

“Listen to me, we all have attachments. Some of those are good and most of those are bad and a rare few of them are so terrible our mind forces us to forget. These last ones are tethers and as the name suggests because of them you are anchored and as such I am simply unable to eject you safely. These tethers manifest as your “Red Doors”, a metaphorical closet where you keep your regrets, fears, monsters, the entertainment. You all will need to face your “Red Doors” and if you succeed in overcoming the challenge you will return to the Void untethered and I will be able to safely eject you.” Angel finished the explanation with a flourish of his hands followed by a snap, as if it is all that simple.

“And of course there is a lesson in this, there always is.” Angel finally responded to Olivia with his usual fiendish smirk. “A child who is so grounded in reality she fears the disruption of what is normal and then a child who who has slayed her monsters and yet continues to be haunted by their ghosts. The Void will teach you, I however can only offer you an advice, death is better than drowning in the Void, do not fail. I will be waiting here….do hurry.”

“Abandoning them would have been far more efficient….I will not hesitate to tear it down if you can’t keep together… fool.” A rather uncharacteristic expression crawled its way on the Chrono’s face, it was still cold, still stoic...but somewhere there was worry as she observed her partner drift of to sleep.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Rtron
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Rtron Knight Radiant

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Yeah, yeah. Find the doors, go through hell, come out the other side we know the drill." Maeve grumbled, walking past Angel and the rest of the group. She was tense, fists clenching and relaxing. This wasn't what she liked dealing with. She hated all of this mind crap. What was dead and gone should stay dead and gone, but the Void always found a way to resurrect it to haunt you. Nothing stayed dead in the shadows of your mind. At least in the real world the monsters died and stayed dead when you killed them.

Kiara sighed and followed Maeve, pausing briefly next to Lawrence and Olivia. "He's right, if an ass about it. Kill yourself before letting yourself get trapped here for eternity." She looked more relaxed than her partner did, but infinitely more weary. She wasn't gearing up for a fight, she was preparing to weather another storm. She caught up to Maeve quickly, bumping her hip reassuringly into her partner. "Nothing we haven't done before, eh?" Maeve only grunted in response, clenching and relaxing her fists. The two of them walked through the Void a few feet, before their respective Red Doors appeared in front of them. Stopping, they looked at each other. Maeve was breathing rapidly, her teeth gritted and eyes wide. To anyone else, it looked like she was prepared for a fight, maybe even suppressing excitement. After all, Maeve loved a good battle. Kiara knew her as well as she knew herself though, and saw the truth. Maeve was scared. Terrified, even.

"Hey. We've done this before, and came out alive. We'll do it again." Maeve looked at her distractedly. Y-yeah. Yeah. We have." She took a deep breath and forced a smile at Kiara. "See you on the other side." She grasped the handle on her Red Door, and walked through. Kiara threw a quick smile over her shoulder at SenDep and the Ante Mortem. "Be back in a jif." She opened and walked through her own door.

The smell of blood and old books wafted back to the four as the doors slammed shut.




Maeve was in a dark room, the light from the open door spilling in behind her. From what she could see it was a fairly normal family living room. A brown leather couch in front of a white coffee table, facing a medium sized TV. Family pictures on the wall, a family of fiery red heads with emerald eyes. A brown carpet, stained from years of clumsiness and accidents. Maeve took a shuddering breath as memories began to come back. Laughter in the kitchen. Outrage directed at the TV. Sleepy goodnights. This had been a good place. A place of love and happiness. A place she had buried deep within her, in an attempt to forget. Somewhere warm and safe. She squeezed her eyes shut as tears attempted to escape. It wasn't now. The stench of blood hit Maeve like a physical force and she took a step back, her shoulders hitting the wall behind her. Her eyes popped open to find the quaint living room torn apart. The pictures had been knocked off their walls, shattered and torn. The couch was cut in half, and stained crimson.

A body lay broken through the white coffee table, mutilated. Another thrown against the far wall, partially through it. Their blood soaked into the carpet below, staining it a dark crimson. Maeve her bile rise and she turned and vomited, shaking. No. No. THey can't be dead. Not like this, no, no please god no. Her thoughts ran wild in a mantra, drowning the part of her that knew what was coming next and screaming for her to focus. She wasn't in control anymore. "Mom. Dad." Her voice lacked the brash confidence she had adopted years ago. It was back to what she had been taught in the years after this, that scared and hesitant caution. She hurried to the body broken through the table, shaking it. The blood stained her simple green dress as she knelt in it. "Múscail, le do thoil."

"My, my Rachael." She flinched at the sound of her name, a mocking female one. "What are you doing out of uniform? And speaking that disgusting pig language too. You know there are punishments for it." Another voice entered, this time a male. "I think she wants another punishment, don't you dearest?" She scrambled backwards, away from the voices. Hyperventilating, Rachael tried to make herself small as she crashed against the wall again. No where to run. Two shadowed figures walked towards her, their eyes glowing, the pupils only small black dots. Their blindingly white, toothy, smiles unnaturally long. That's what she always remembered from them. That unholy malice in their eyes, that eager sadism in their smiles. She curled into a ball away from them, squeezing her eyes shut again. "No. Please. I'm sorry. No. Please."




Kiara found herself in a dusty library, books on shelves extending as far as the eye could see in either direction. In front of her, a small lounge. Everything was white. The shelves, the floor, the chairs and couches in the lounge, everything. Kiara's face scrunched up in disgust, and cursed. She hated the color white. She sighed, making her way towards it. There was no use fighting against the inevitable. She was going to be found regardless of if she put up a chase or not.

Sitting in a chair, she relaxed backwards and waited. Minutes passed in dead silence as she sat there, biding her time. She amused herself by creating minor shadows to play with. A shadow ball to toss in the air. A shadow dart to throw into the darkness. A shadow chess board to play against herself. Finally, as the boredom finally got to her, Kiara stood. "You might as well come out!" She called into the darkness, glaring down an aisle of shelves impatiently. "We both know how this is going to end!" A cackle echoed all around her, the voice of an elderly woman mocking her. "We know how this'll end, yes, but we also know that this will affect how it will ALL end."

Kiara crossed her arms and tapped her foot. This song and dance was old, and never changed. "Then why don't you come down here so we can get to that? Angel might get bored and kill me just to free himself of obligations any minute now, and then you'll die."

A shrieking echoed from the darkness around her, and a white spot appeared at the end of the aisle she was looking at. In moments a woman in a white dress was in front of Kiara, a blade pressed against the AMRO Asylum's neck. She looked exactly like Kiara did, except for her eyes were a dark red rather than a light blue. Those same eyes boiled with repressed anger, boring into Kiara's own. "Don't you threaten me with death, girl. I've survived far worse than you and your psychotic handlers." Kiara rolled her eyes. "Please. You don't have the guts to kill me. I'm the only thing keeping your miserable and wretched hide in this world. If I go, you go. And you know it. Now sit down so we can do whatever it is we do until Maeve escapes."

The woman's face twisted with fury and hatred, and she slashed Kiara across the face. The blade flashed before the Asylum could react, tearing through the skin on her face, down to the bone. Kiara stumbled back, a hand going to the wound. She didn't make a sound. She wouldn't give the bitch that pleasure. In the same motion she healed it, but some blood none the less ended up on her hand. She looked at the blood on her hand, and then back at the woman in white. "Are you done? We both know that if you do anything more than that you'll die with me. So stop your antics. I have the advantage here, over everyone else. I know you're real. And I know you won't kill me. You're posturing, same as you always do." The Kiara look alike snarled, but went and sat down anyway.

"Now, why do you insist upon copying me. The color white is terrible and you hate me." Kiara asked, taking a seat across from her look alike.

"It's not by choice. I've been trapped in your body for too long, and have taken on your form. Or rather had it pressed upon me by your mind. And white is the color of purity and justice. Leashed monsters like you would never understand."

"So you'll be absorbed and dead in a few years by my mind?" Kiara asked, ignoring the last part. It wasn't a barb she hadn't heard before, and it was likely something she'd hear again.

Her look alike laughed, mockingly again. You wish, insolent girl. I'm far stronger than you are. Without the prison put in by the Usurpers, you wouldn't even have lasted a day against me. But they prefer control over power, and as such you're leashed to them and I am trapped within you.

Kiara sighed. "A girl could hope. Wha-" Her look alike interrupted her. "She's going to die, you know." Kiara looked at her in confusion, before realizing who she meant. "Oh, Maeve? No, she's much stronger than that. Revisiting her past as Rachael always hurts her, true, but she always survives. She seems to always forget one key thing about the Void." Kiara smiled, looking at the woman in white.

"Where there are monsters, there are gods."




Rachael felt hands close around her arms and she screamed in terror. Their laughter mocked her as they dragged her back, back to the horror and the pain. And there was nothing she could do, because she was weak. Weak and pathetic and she was trapped and doomed. Doomed doomed doomed doomed do-

"ENOUGH!"

The room exploded with fiery light, Rachael hitting the ground as her captors drew back and hissed at the light. She looked up, shaking, at the light and the person who had spoken. It was a celtic woman, clad in armor. She bore a striking resemblance to Rachael herself. A sword in hand, the woman was clad in armor and her emerald eyes burned with fury. The goddess's, for surely this was a god descended from the heaven's in divine fury, gaze settled on Rachael. She shrank away from the wrath in them, but there was no where to run. Her captors were behind her, hissing at the light, and this goddess was in front of her, ready to pronounce her judgement.

"On your feet."

The goddess commanded and Rachael obeyed, shakily climbing to her feet. She kept her eyes on the ground, lest she anger the goddess further.

"Look at me."

Reluctantly, Rachael met the eyes of the goddess and found no pity there.

"You bear my name. You have chosen to represent me in this world, and you will not hold yourself disgracefully like this. I will not allow it. You have killed these wraiths before, and you will do it again. You are a daughter of Celtic people, and you have claimed my name as your own. Remember who you are, remember your strength, and end this.

Rachael looked at fear giving way to confusion. She could sense that the goddess spoke the truth, but the realizations were hazy. On the edge of her grasp. The goddess stepped forward, flipping her sword around and thrusting the hilt at Rachael. "Who are you." Rachael tentatively reached forward and grasped the hilt, the memories becoming clearer. "I....I am Maeve."

"What are you."

"A weapon of AMRO." Maeve's shoulders straightened, and she tightened her grip on the sword.

"What are you made for."

"Killing monsters, and standing against the darkness." The brash smile returned to her lips, and her eyes lit up. "And I love it."

"Then do what were made for."

Maeve turned, the goddess's light disappearing behind her. She leveled her sword at the shadowy figures, crouched away from her. "Is é mo ainm Maeve." She strode forward, her sword flashing with brutal vengeance as she cut down the shadowy nightmares of her past. Their screams brought a vicious smile to her face.

"And the dead have no power over me."




Kiara looked over as the Red Door reappeared on her left. "See? She never fails to kill the monsters of her dreams. She's stronger than she knows." She got up, heading to the door. "As much as I love these chats, I hope I never see you again." A hand grasped her shoulder and whirled her around, pinning her against the door before she could open it. "I didn't mean she'd die in this world."

The woman in white's eyes bored into Kiara's own. "You will kill her. The book will be rediscovered, and you will be unable to resist its power. And as before, with him your hubris and greed will result in her dying. And there will be no one in the world to blame but yourself." For once, Kiara had no reply, her eyes merely wide and staring at the woman in white. Her lookalike smiled and pushed her through the door.




Kiara stumbled through, eyes still wide in shock and her heart pounding with fear, as Maeve strolled out of her own door, covered in blood. "Another successful purging." She grinned crimson at Kiara, before seeing the state of her partner and frowning. "Hey, don't listen to that bitch. You know everything she says is a lie to set you off your game and confuse you."

Kiara nodded, slowly. Yeah. Yeah. You're right. Still, she was silent and contemplative as she followed Maeve back to Angel. Maeve strolled up to Angel in his throne and punched him in the shoulder. "You still alive? We need you to get out of here, so don't go collapsing on us yet."
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Konan375
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Lawrence placed a hand on Olivia's shoulder and squeezed gently as he heard what was needed to be done to leave the Void. The Red Doors were the reason Lawrence avoided place. Not for him, though, for Olivia. Her form wavered as Angel went on, flickering between a frightened girl and a soldier of AMRO. He grimaced at Kiara's comment, leaning in to whisper into Olivia's ear as Kiara walked into her Red Door. "That's not going to happen. Remember, and repeat this; You are in control. No matter what happens on the other side of the door, you are in control."

Olivia's flickering stopped and she nodded. "I am in control," she repeated in a mantra under her breath as she walked forward. A red door materialized in front of her and she stopped, flickering for a second before she shook her head and entered her Red Door. Lawrence sighed and walked forward, his own Door appearing in front of him. He turned the knob and walked in.

There was blood everywhere.

Bodies were strewn across the deck of Innocence. Limbs and heads without their bodies and a low toned hum rumbled through the air. A large work bench covered in photos was the only thing in the room not covered in blood. Lawrence approached the bench. He picked up a photo. A black and white picture of a man with a phone to his ear, a red X crossed out his head in marker. Lawrence flipped the photo and read the writing on the back.

June 18th, 1999

1000 yards. Not a sound made


Lawrence vaguely remembered that target. It wasn't until after he became an Asylum that he stopped keeping a tab on his successful marks. Hundreds of photos lay on the table. Hundreds, maybe thousands of times he used Alchemy before he was an Asylum. The pieces of a shattered Rubik's Cube lay scattered across the bench. Lawrence moved away from the bench and crossed the deck. Scorch marks and cracks dotted the transparent floor between bodies. In the center of all the chaos lay two bodies; his own, and Olivia's.

How close was he? Was it years? Months? Days? Seconds?

If he somehow managed to get under the radar when he snapped. He knew that Olivia would follow him without hesitation.

Lawrence sighed. It was inevitable. His only hope was that they AMRO learns something from Cade and Samad. His door opened appeared in front of him. He opened it and left, feeling much more tired than he had been when he started his journey in the Void.




Olivia was surrounded by darkness. She reached out in front of her and her hand hit something padded. Panic rising in her throat, she felt along the wall and quickly discovered that she was back in her old room in that awful place. She was back. She leaned back against the wall and slid down to the floor, pulling her legs up and wrapping her arms around her knees. Time meant nothing in the pitch blackness. Had she spent hours here? Days? The speaker in the roof crackled to life and a voice she hadn't heard in years filled the room.

"You should really stop trying to escape."

Olivia covered her ears, but the sound reached her anyway.

"Nothing will come of it except pain and punishment."

No! Olivia shook her head side to side.

"You're so close to breaking through. We will rid this world of its innocence and start anew, and you are our key."

Olivia raised her head. These were words that had been said to her time and again, But they now held a nuance that she had missed as a child.

"We will mold you to be our tool. You have no say in this."

As a child? Wasn't she still-

"Control is power and you have none."

Something clicked in Olivia's mind. Control. She had control. She was no longer a child locked in a padded room by twisted people. She was a damn good hunter now and could probably give these bastards a run for their money. She looked up at the ceiling

"Shut up." She whispered softly. The speaker turned to static. She sang a small song and a light flickered to life above her. Now that she could see, she reached up into her hair and grabbed Thorne. She used the hairpin tunred small dagger to rip a sigil into the padded wall. The wall blew outward with a bang, filling the room with harsh florescent light. A Red Door stood in front of her. She opened it and left her room. Now she was back in the library with the others. Lawrence looked tired and much older than he was before she went into her Red Door. He gave Olivia a tight lipped smile as she returned.

Olivia glared at Angel as she put her hair pin back in and folded her arms. "It seems we're done. Can we get back to the real world now?"
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Xx---------------------------xX
Experimental Team
Xx---------------------------xX


When Angel vanished, the place around the pair wavered then dissipated. White bleed through the dark gothic motif as gargoyles crumbled into dust and books peeled from the shelves. When the faint memory faded out, nothing but a blank canvas was left in its wake. Nothing was left to draw any human comfort from existed now. It was clear by the empty shell left behind that Angel was giving them no choice, but to move on. Amidst the canvas were two red doors. Their presence seemed to stain the purity around them with its bloody color.

Slowly Cade glanced at Samad.

Not much had changed. His partner appeared to be unaffected by the abrupt change in scenery, Samad position now poised on the white floor. He had shifted into a cross-legged posture, his chin rested on his hand while he stared into the endless horizon.

Not willing to give so easily, Cade moved over to Samad. He twisted about in front of the man then flopped down hard on his own ass. Adjusting his glasses, Cade watched Samar until the Iranian broke the silence.

“Why are you bothering me?”

“Samad, we need to leave. We have to go through the red doors before we’re lost in here forever,” Cade began and added,“I can't leave without knowing you'll enter a red door. So you have the choice of us both staying here or facing whatever tethers you here.”

Samad glared at him. Cade’s breath stilled, held in his throats as anxiety swelled in his chest. He didn't know what his partner would ultimately decide, but either way, they were stuck with each other. After several moments, Samad exhaled then rose to his feet. Cade watched him move toward the nearest and gripped the handle. He paused before he turned back to Cade.

“Well, are you coming?”

Cade smiled. His figure rose to his feet while he edged to his own door, gripping it.

“Of course.”

They both walked through their red doors.





Location: Hoover Dam, Nevada
Time: Late Afternoon

“Samad… Are you listening to me?” A woman’s voice demanded, followed by snapping fingers inches from his nose.

When the bright light cleared, Samad blinked then stared down at his old partner. Her expression melted from an annoyance into worry at seeing his confusion. Immediately catching onto his mood, her arm reached out and pulled him closer to her. Her words echoed into his head in an attempt to soothe his rattled nerves.

“Love, what’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” her words twisted inside Samad’s gut.

He remembered this day. It was when they were investigating someone poisoning Nevada’s biggest water supplier, the Hoover Dam. She also died right here. This wasn’t real, despite how it felt. His thoughts were disrupted when Elsa touched his cheek after he didn’t answer her. Gently he clasped it in his own, letting her warmth reach his frozen heart for a moment.

“I missed you, so much Elsa. I’m so sorry. I should’ve been stronger. I should’ve protected you and our unborn child.”

She said nothing more. Merely smiled as her hand continued to touch his, appearing to absorb his words.

“It was a boy, you know. A son. I wanted to name him Omar after his uncle, but now… that will never happen.”

Her hand slipped out of his with her final words, “You can’t change the past… Let me show you. It will heal you.”

A shot rang out from nowhere. Elsa’s eyes widened as her hand traveled to her middle, blood seeped from where a rifle bullet had excited. Tears streamed from her eyes. In the background several rogues were rushing toward the pair, their weapons drawn and ready.

Rage and pain flooded Samad’s eyes, a snarl escaped his throat. His hand pressed to her abdomen as his alchemy spread through her surrounding blood, slowing the wound’s bleeding to a crawl. His cold stare fixed on the first rogue whipping out his gun to aim it at Elsa, intending to finish her off. Samad whispered right causing the bullet to shift off course the moment it left the gun. It dug into the gravel at his feet. Unfazed by the near-death experience, the Persian Lion moved from around his partner to clash with the threat head-on.

Elsa wasted little time herself as she jerked her finger in mid-air. The air particles froze on contact forming a sigil in place. With a final jerk, it erupted into a spell. Rapid icicles formed and shot outward, like shrapnel from a bomb. Three rogues were thrown backward on their asses from the impact.

Not giving them a chance to recover, Samad drew his cane’s blade then paused long enough to swing down upon the first victim.

Flesh burned from the plasma as he screamed in pain, silenced by ice crawling along his skin. The distance click of another rifle being cocked caught Samad’s attention. His hearing enhanced by alchemy, he muttered return when he spotted the man. His hand raised two fingers then whipped them about. The bullet slowed in mid-air while it twisted about him, the speed increased on the return back to sender’s direction. Glass shattered indicating it found its mark through the shooter’s eye. The sound was followed by a satisfying death gargle.

Each rogue crumbled like in his memories. Every death was exactly the same down to the blood and sounds, filling his heart with dread. The moment was drawing nearer with the passing moments. More blood was spilled. More flesh was ripped or cut, leaving the corpses to pile up.

Insanity clawed at Samad’s while the addiction rose, his dependence on Alchemy raising enough that he wasn’t even using his weapons.

“Samad, we need to get out of here. There’s too many.” Elsa pleaded in his head.

Finding sense in her words, Samad’s eyes swept the bloody scenery. Already another batch of rogues (he suspected they were Alchemy clones) had been dispatched and were closing in. Their presence blocked their escape options like before causing the Iranian’s frustration to rise in his throat.

“We can’t,” He replied, his heart racing, “We are trapped. We’re going to have to jump.”

The Persian Lion darted toward the bridge’s edge overlooking the rushing river. It was a dangerous way down, well over sixty feet. However, he could slow their fall and lessen the impact. It would take a lot out of him, but he was confident he could handle it.

“They will just simply follow us, killing us in the water!”

“You don’t know that for sure,” Samad snapped back.

She had heard the harshness and frustration in his tone. Elsa drew closer causing him to face her, his hand raised for her to stop.

“No, Elsa, not this time. You will not do this again. I won’t let you.” Samad’s voice held fear at knowing what she was thinking.

Elsa simply continued to smile weakly.

“I told you, Samad. You can’t change the past.”

Without warning, Elsa’s palm thrust out catching Samad off guard. Ice spread across the ground underneath his feet then a wall formed, slowly shoving him toward the edge. Samad pushed against it to no prevail. Painstakingly his boots struggled to find purchase to escape his fate before he was sent flying off into the water below.

~~~***~~~


“Samad… Are you listening to me?”

The scene seemed to have rewound. From the same gravel dirt bridge to the rogues, it played out exactly the same with each one of Samad’s attempts to save Elsa nulled by his beloved. After what felt like the sixteenth attempt, he pulled her closer then quietly spoke into her mind.

“Why… why do you stop me from saving you?”

“The baby was already dead the moment the bullet struck… I had nothing left to live for. The least I could do was allow you to live.”

“I could’ve saved you both if I had known!" Samad roared only to have his strength break into a strangled sob, his hands reached to cradle Elsa’s face close to his.

His eyes closed as he pressed his head against hers. Openly weeping against his will. Elsa continued to stroke his cheek, feeling his sorrow and misery without her.

“No, you couldn’t,” Elsa began to confess, “I had considered getting an abortion because I feared our baby might be recruited by ARMO one day. It wasn’t until it was killed that I knew, I couldn’t bear outliving my own son.”

Gently she kissed Samad’s cheek.

“Your attempts to save us were doomed from the start. So please, my Samad, let this memory rest in peace. For me, if not for yourself.”

Through Samad didn’t say a word, he accepted her request.

“I love you…” With those words, Elsa let go of his hand.

Her warmth left his fingers as he felt gravity pull him back over the dam’s wall, heading into the still water below. This time his eyes closed and willingly accepted the fall. A pull at his mind signaled her taking the insanity, her fury turned upon the rogues rushing foolishly at her. Above him the storm brewed. The dark cloud collected, heavy with rain about to become snow, to release its fury upon the place.




Samad stepped through his exit door. He was greeted by a blinding light seared into his eyes. Gradually, his vision began to clear and adjust to the change. Taking a few moments to let the pain fade, his head swayed around. He noted that most of the motley crew had finished their business, but his heart dropped a bit at not seeing Cade among them. One red door was left unopened.

“Where are you?” Samad hissed underneath his breath.

Impulsively his feet took him toward the door and his hand reached out. It paused just inches from gripping it, uncertain if he could even open it or the consequences of his actions. He tsked then pulled his hand back to rest at his side. He hated the waiting as a deep, dark gut feeling surged into his core. Cade wasn’t doing very well. He could feel it.

Silently he endured, his arms crossed over in front of him.

"It seems we're done. Can we get back to the real world now?"

Samad’s head abruptly snapped in Olivia’s direction, followed by a harsh glare and word.

“We can’t until Cade is done. He’s still in there and struggling, he’s also putting out a lot of alchemy,” Samad’s fingers whitened as they gripped his skin, his leg twitching subtly.

Minutes passed before the sharp click of Cade’s door signaled his exit.

Weakly a figure pushed the door wider but held tightly to it. Cade’s hair flipped over to shroud his face. Several of his sebon were embedded into his side, wedged between the ribs and into his right thigh. The right arm hung limply with a few deep gashes severing the tendons. His clothes were shredded and singed in a few places with a crisscross pattern. Most notably the glow on his skin and the wings appeared to have vanished completely, the later left only two charred spots underneath his shoulders.

Immediately Cade stumbled forward. Instead of hitting the floor, Samad’s arm jerked out and caught him. With unusual gentleness, he lowered Cade onto his back where the Iranian began to check the wounds.

Cade simply just closed his eyes.

“Angel… ” he wheezed a bit, more rivulets of blood dribbled out of his lips, “No more red doors.”

“Where’s your bag?”

“I… don't know. Just...leave it.”

“Cade, you’re torn to shit. What happened?” Samad asked, his mouth become a thin line and stared at his partner.

“I had a worse demon than you… I guess. I’m so tired...”

Samad didn’t say a word. Instead, he stared at the piece of Cade’s flesh that came away with his hand. A putrid scent hit the air, soiling it immediately and spreading. It took a bit of alchemy to seal the smell away as he fought to keep his stomach from churning. Cade appeared completely obvious to the piece he was missing. His eyes closed in exhaustion as he fell into a slumber, unable to remain conscious.

Samad turned to Angel, wanting an explanation for his partner’s condition. Figuring it was too much to ask for, he sighed then carefully scooped Cade up onto his shoulders. He tried not to think about the flesh’s oozing, semi-rotten texture sticking to his own while he spoke.

“Now we can go.”
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"You still alive? We need you to get out of here, so don't go collapsing on us yet."


The impudence from these words were enough, the punch just seemed unnecessary. The Lost Number's head lazily tilted towards Maeve, the annoying Banshee as he liked to call her, his hollowed eyes gazing at her. Angel's appearance continued to fluctuate between healthy and withered though one thing remained constant, his empty eye sockets where darkness swirled, a void of nothingness.

"Sometimes I wonder why haven't I killed you," Angel replied as he tapped his temple while observing the other Asylums gradually appear from their 'Red Doors'. The Lost Number didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. On one side it meant all the effort on his part didn't go to waste and on the other it meant he was about to exude a lot more effort in dealing with what was to come. The thought of it alone caused the Lost Number's finger to twitch as if reaching for an imaginary weapon.

"It seems we're done. Can we get back to the real world now?" Olivia replied next and Angel silently marveled over the sheer audacity these children possessed.

“Now we can go."


The mild annoyance had steadily surfaced though despite that Angel maintained a relaxed expression. He had to agree with the Iranian, it was indeed their time to go and in their stead he would be left. Such irony and how a part of him wished they had failed, the guilt would have been easier to deal with.

A.M.R.O's Reaper slowly ascended from his throne, which immediately after turned to ash, and almost mockingly applauded the Asylum's with a silent clap. "Well done, I see each of you traversed your inner nightmares and managed to best them and I see you all came out for the better?" As he spoke those words his gaze settled on Cade, the medic being supported by Samad. "Well almost, the results are often unpredictable. Facing you fears can help you move forward but sometimes you end up taking a step back, there is a reason why the mind keeps such things locked behind a door."

How far have I fallen, how much am I owed?

Angel silently walked towards the "Experimental Team" and with each step the world around them rectified itself. The first step stabilized the world and the tremors seized, the second step eradicated any external constructs created by the Asylum, the third step brought upon a clean white canvas and the fourth step caused a rippled to spread across the world around them and changed it back to a familiar setting, a Victorian, Gothic stylized library. The only visible differences were that not a single bookshelf held a book, every candle around them had been extinguished and each gargoyle that rested upon the massive pillars around them, each of them now gazed at the Asylums.

I stood above it all, without equal, without weakness.

The fourth step brought Angel face to face with Cade and Samad and for a few seconds there was only an eerie silence as Angel stared at the two with a callous expression. "You seem to have understood that groveling over you past will only stunt you, I expected you to be worthless.....perhaps...not." With those words the Lost Number observed the shriveled corpse like appearance of Cade, "to be Human is to suffer." With those words a gargantuan gateway appeared in front of the Iranian and the Medic and through it they could see their own bodies, suspended in time.

A husk is all that is left

All the while Angel conversed with the "Experimental Team" Rin simply stood near a corner and stared at the "Banshees". Her expressions unreadable, her face stoic and emotionless and her mismatched eyes without a shred of a soul. The only fact that made this simple act terrifying was that Rin chose to pick them out and do so. The Chrono was infamous for her imperious attitude that even dwarfed that of her partner, she never called anyone but Angel by their name, for her the existence of all those around her were the equivalent of insects. You never pay them any heed until and unless they begin to irk you and when that happens you crush them without mercy. The Chrono's blood lust was almost palpable and solely directed towards the Banshees, the sheer magnitude of her presence was towering as if a vengeful God tore the heavens apart and now stood above you, gazing at you, contemplating judgement.

The Lost Number oblivious to his partner, perhaps due to his fatigue and or simple callousness, he turned to SenDep and observed Olivia and Lawrence. "Little girl, your past is quite the bar tale. How much of it all do you still have hidden behind doors like these?" Angel spoke, his tone a match for his expression, callous and cold. "There are three prominent cult factions that dabbled in the taboo and even the forbidden arts. One abducted children and forced their bodies to transmutate, organic alchemic change....permanent....repulsive." A hint of fury spread across the Reaper's face and in an instant it was snuffed out. "Then there was one that meddled in soul melding, the art of ripping out your sole and locking it into an artificially created body or even another....human. The last of these cults were obsessed with relics of old, weapons that possessed an alchemic drive, curses, runes that possessed ever lasting sigils, lost alchemic arts." Once Angel finished speaking a cruel smirk spread across his face. "They were all persecuted and destroyed, though not entirely....they broke away and formed clusters and faded away into obscurity." With that Angel turned away from the two and another gargantuan door war opened up revealing their bodies frozen exactly where they had been.

By the time it had taken the second exit to be formed for SenDep, Rin had approached the Banshees at an excruciatingly slow pace and now stood within striking distance, her blood lust toxic, her gaze unforgiving, her presence suffocating. "A time will come when the darkness held at bay will break, I care not for the carnage that will come but you will seek aid....and...your options will be limited....for in a witch hunt....help comes seldom....you will approach him....and he is fond of one of you....he will say yes....and then comes the toll....always the toll. It is is fortunate....such a time will never come.

"I see you ladies are getting along," Angel's voice suddenly echoed behind the Chrono, though it did not startle her, nothing ever did, it did succeed in stealing away her attention and allowing the Banshee's some breathing room.

"You need to leave, you are over extending yourself." Rin ignored her partner's sarcasm and instead focused on the signs of his fluctuating appearance. His clothes would vary between a withered cloak and a pristine cloak, his posture stiff and then bent, his face sharp and then gaunt.

"Aren't you sweet, the precious little sister worrying over her brash brother." Angel chuckled softly and ruffled the Chrono's hair causing her twin tail to swing about as if a cat twitching its ears. "But yes it is time to leave this place, I will follow you shortly little one." As the Reaper continued coddling the Chrono he raised his right hand and a shimmer began to appear between his thumb and forefinger, the glint growing brighter and brighter until the light was blinding and it manifested itself into a key.

"...A key?" Rin inquired in her usual uninterested tone and without a hint of an expression that could tell she was curious or even mildly interested.

"Indeed, there a few things you have yet to learn. Within the void the architect creates his domain and he has the key that allows him to safely exit in a situation where the domain is compromised. Think of it like a safe means of retreat when the world around you collapses. In our current situation due to the tethers creates by the Asylum it unhinged my domain and as such it was necessary to un-tether yourself first in order to safely leave the void. This key on the other hand will allow you to leave without performing any such extraneous activities."

"Was it morbid self-satisfaction the reason why you chose not to use the key for the others or is it the key can only be used once?" As Rin spoke she raised her index finger and in response the world around her shifted, the ground became quicksand trapping her partner, the furniture transformed into metal beams that extended and wrapped around her partner and if that was not enough a massive construct of a hand erupted out of the ground and clenched the Lost Number in its grasp.

"Your stupidity is tiring Angel, use the key and leave. I have no tethers." Rin spoke and despite her callous tone and expression, her steps slowly retreated, hesitant.

"Ah little one, you really are a prodigy. To influence my domain so easily, it baffles the mind....but it is my domain. I am sorry Rin but you know I won't leave you here alone, I did promise to never you alone didn't I?" Angel merely shrugged and all the tools of entrapment turned to ash.

"You are haunted by the ghosts of thousands...upon thousand....why?" It was at this moment Angel felt his very heart break, it had been a life time since he saw any expression on Rin's face and for it to be sadness, it was painful. "I would face them all if it mean't protecting you little one," and with that Angel vanished and reappeared in front of Rin and in a single thrust he had stabbed the Chrono with the key.

"Damn fool," was all Rin could say before vanishing.

Angel finally turned to face the Banshees with an expression of utter dismay and self loathing. "I suppose I don't kill you two because you don't run away. To stare at the sun and not flinch when your eyes are scorched, blindness is blissful is it not?" The Lost Number whispered. The final gateway appeared in front of the Banshees.

"Begone all of you, your demons are satiated and mine are about to be released. Avert your gaze, step through the gate and remember this kindness." With those words Angel casually turned away from the Asylums and their gateways to reality. The world around them darkened until the only light came from the gateways belonging to the Asylums and that too was being swallowed up. Then other points of illumination appeared, thousands of red lights appearing all around and coming closer and closer until they took the form of doors, each next to the other and orbiting Angel forming a titanic red halo.

Any Asylum that remained, the last spectacle they would witness before being pulled through their gateways would be this. The massive rotating halo of red door and Angel in between. His appearance finally constant, no more fluctuations just a man staring up and silently trembling, all the doors opening at the same time with each spewing a torrent of blood followed by screams and then nothing.

--------------------Xx----------xX------------------------
Innocence Log Report

• It is reported that the Ante Mortem abruptly left Innocence

• Lost Number Davis Silverfield, partnered to the Chrono titled Terra, attempted to intercept the duo and was grievously injured by the Chrono VI, titled Reri.

• The Asylums that had accompanied Ante Mortem were not associated with this sudden outburst and were given freedom to go about normally, though it is to be noted they displayed minor behavioral fluctuations. Psychoanalytical tests are not advised for now.

• The mission of over-seeing the "Meeting of Crests" has been delegated to the Chrono VIII, titled Yang. The meeting will take place at the Laofeng residence and the matter of the Bloodline massacre will be the subject of discussion. The sole witness of the event is to join them.

• Intelligence unit has detected a small village (location classified) that is a source of an erratic alchemic drive. Investigation over the matter have begun and three Asylum teams have been sent for reconnaissance and information gathering.

Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Xx---------------------------xX
Experimental Team
Xx---------------------------xX




Location: Innocence, the floating island- experimental division (medical ward)
Time: Morning




Cade pulled up on the metal bar.

The chill penetrated into his skin and drove him onward. With each lift, the asylum fought the pull of gravity and rose his chin over the bar. Then he lowered it back down, allowing his tendons and muscles to slacken in rest. He repeated it about ten more times before he let go. His feet dropped to the floor with a soft thump before turning to the woman observing him nearby.

Noticing his attention fixed on her, the medical doctor paused in her writing and tossed him a towel. Cade caught it then began to wipe away the sweat collected on his bare skin. Taking a seat, his thoughts wandered over the last four weeks since their little ‘adventure’. Samad had, at least tried, become less of an asshole when working with him. Something he was grateful for, but he didn’t expect it to last much longer. Old habits were hard to break after all. Everyone appeared alright, having came out out of it for the better. Everyone, but him.

It bothered Cade since that day. His concern festered and ate away at him, despite his attempts to ignore it. Even with their broken link, he knew Samad could sense it and some times caught his partner looking at him. Apprehension to know what troubled him laced Samad’s usually cold eyes. It made him shiver thinking about it and realize he could share it in words. That meant facing it existed, but he just wanted to forget it.

His peripheral vision caught he woman dismissing him, his inner attention broken when she waved him off toward the exit.

On his route out, Cade tossed the towel into the nearby hamper. His arm tugged his shirt off the hanger then over his head to return his modesty. When he entered the hallway, an order rang into his head.

Bean Sidhes, SenDep, and the Experimental Team, you are all required to report to briefing room A23 immediately.

Cade sighed while he adjusted his course from the cafeteria to the briefing room. He didn’t look forward to going on a mission, but he couldn’t fight the orders. It was hard to see how this was better than death sometimes.





Location: Briefing Room A23
Time: Morning



Samad’s eyes looked at the arriving teams. His eyes were seeking Cade among their numbers, but found no trace of his partner causing silent disappointment. Casually he leaned against the wall beside the door as he debated on what to do. A deep, worried side of him wanted to seek out his partner. Cade had been acting uncharacteristically distant and strange ever since the incident with Angel’s Red Doors. The Lost Number’s words echoed in his head about facing fears to help move forward, but sometimes taking a step backwards. What fear could’ve left his partner in such a sorry state?

The question nearly haunted the Iranian’s thoughts continually. It seemed when one took a step forward, the other fell back. A anger rose in Samad’s gut over the fact before he pushed it back down.

“I don’t suppose any of you have seen Cade today?”
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"Do I look like his caretaker?" Lawrence snapped at the Iranian. Any other scathing remarks were cut off by Olivia, who stomped on Lawrence's foot. He shut his mouth and took a seat at the table

"What Lawrence means to say is that he doesn't know where he is." Olivia raised her voice at the end as she shot her partner a glare. "Isn't that right?" All she got in return was a grunt. He had pulled out a megaminx and started mixing up the colours. Satisfied, and slightly annoyed, she turned back to Samad, her eyes softening. "Not yet. I was going to try and catch him in the cafeteria, but we all got called here." She gave Samad a half shrug and a small smile. "He should be here soon. Probably trying to drag it out as long as he can before coming here."

With that said, she walked over to the seat beside Lawrence and sat down. "What is your problem?" She hissed at her partner.

Lawrence set his puzzle down and turned to Olivia. "Ante Mortem," he said simply.

Olivia leaned back in her chair. "Ah." She leaned back in her chair. "I had hoped that wasn't the case."

Lawrence chuckled. "I admire your optimism."

"Well I despise your pessimism." Olivia shot back with a smile.

"It's called realism."

"That's just what pessimists call their pessimism."

"No," Lawrence said, a smile growing on his face. "A pessimist calls a glass half empty, while a realist-"

"Knows that you drank half the damn glass already and so you shouldn't be complaining about a thing." Olivia chuckled a little before her face fell. How bad?

Lawrence picked up his megaminx. Bad enough that we might have to pack for longer than the timeframe on this mission."

"Ah," Olivia said as she leaned back in her chair, before shifting her position again. These chairs were far too stiff to be comfortable. She hoped that it didn't take too long for the briefing to start.
Hidden 1 yr ago 11 mos ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Xx---------------------------xX
Experimental Team
Xx---------------------------xX




Location: Briefing Room A23
Time: Morning



“…” Samad’s answer came in utter silence.

His trapped his words behind sealed lips, his eyes narrowed in Lawrence’s direction. His arms crossed over in front. He had to remind himself he had to be less of a ‘jerk’ as Cade once put it, but Lawrence’s outburst screamed stress and irritation. The behavior didn’t match the one from their first mission.

Thankfully Lawrence’s partner stepped in then smoothed over the issue. Like Cade had done for him numerous times, he watched the exchange careful then nodded. He was aiming to let the matter rest. His arms released their grip before they dropped to his side and he turned toward the hallway.




𝔸𝕝𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕚𝕣 ℝ𝕙𝕠𝕟𝕖𝕤






Location: Undisclosed
Time: 2 weeks before the present.

A sober Alistair sat in a chair within a conference room. The interior was shrouded in darkness except for a single spotlight, the illumination bearing down on him in the small room. It appeared to be an interrogation, but it was not. In fact it was far from it. Alistair had been struggling to get Zak reassigned from Ante Mortem with little success. The only thing the mentor’s stubbornness had accomplished was delaying Zak actually taking on his newly assigned responsibility and sparing the boy’s potential being completely ruined.

Now he wondered about his own ability remain neutral in regards to his student. Pushing the thought away, his attention returned to the deal being woven together by his hand and another’s.

The figure was shrouded in the darker part of the room beyond the light. An attempt to hide the individual’s identity and intimidate him, but Alistair merely let his mask slip into place. He wouldn’t let fear spoil this conversation. Taking a moment, Alistair sipped on his recently warmed tea in thoughtful silence.

With this small favor someone higher up would be looking into the file while freeing Zak from his obligations. During the ‘process’ they had removed his mentee from watching or even contacting the Experimental Team. They still needed watched, much to Alistair’s irritation, but it wouldn’t be Zak that would do it. The higher ups felt he risked attachment which made Alistair scoff in amusement.

The tone reflected that with each word, his aim was clarification and absolution in the terms.

“So, I take this mission and you will release Zak of all obligations concerning both Ante Mortem and the Experimental Team? No unpleasantries will follow his career into other… areas?”

“Yes.”

“And the file?”

“It’s a curious thing, but it will take time and resources to discover what you are asking for. You’ll be under quite a bit of ‘debt’ to pay for the information brought into light,” mused a feminine voice as the figure’s silhouette shifted into a more comfortable position.

“Story of my life,” Alistair answered.

Immediately he pulled up from his seat, taking his mug into one hand. He reached out the other to offer a handshake then hold it for several moments. As he suspected, she didn’t bother to reach for it. There was no intention to return the friendly gesture. Instead her eyes stared him up and down, absorbing his appearance into memory.

“I believe that’s your way to say you agree?” Her voice purred to confirm.

“One of many.”

Leaving the cryptic answer in the air, Alistair nodded.

“Good, I’ll inform the people I work with. We’ll inform you of anything we find, until then good luck on your mission,” the woman commented as she stood up, her heels clicked across the wooden floor toward the exit.

She paused at the door then flipped her head back toward him with the last word.

“Try not to die before you deliver on your end of the bargain.”



Present


Alistair idly engaged into a brief, but boring staring contest with his fellow Overseer, Malcome Raine. It was obvious something he had said provoked his peer. Not that he cared as he let his eyelids shift into a half attentive glance. Underneath his calm and easy going mask, Alistair relish the expression of anger growing on Malcome’s face. The redness in the squarish features had already made his day much better.

“Do not test me, Mr. Rhones. I tolerate you for now,” Malcome warned.

It only widened Alistair’s smile.

When it came down to their personalities, the two were extreme opposites. Alistair improvised most his plans and hide the true self from sight. He was known as the Multi-Faced Asylum for that little talent. On the other hand, Raine kept firmly to the rule book and was straight forward with everyone. Even if the truth would kill most individuals.

Between these differences, the biggest miracle had been the fact the pair hadn’t killed each other yet. Not that the notion hadn’t crossed Alistair’s mind once or twice.

“If I was testing you, you’ve been aware of it by now. I assure you.”

Alistair raised his hands in a surrendering posture, his figure leaned away and settled into the chair. He folded them into each other when he spotted signs Malcome’s anger had began to dissipate.

“I’m simply asking if anyone knows why Ante Mortem went temporary AWOL. Did anyone attempt to debrief them or the other members of that assignment?”

“No, it was deemed best to leave them to their own devices.”

“Then you have no idea what their mental state might’ve been-”

“They weren’t classified as a danger or self-harming.”

“That doesn’t explain why you have several retrieval teams coming back injured or why you’re sending the Asylums from his last mission to bring the pair back. We have no idea how Ante Mortem will react, unless you’re using them to get rid of the chaff from the wheat,” Alistair podded, suspecting that wasn’t the real reason.

“OF course NOT!” Malcome hands slammed down on the table along with the rest of his patience.

“Whatever you say, I’ll go get our ‘team’…” Alistair rose upright then walked to the door, leaving the other Overseer frustrated and angry.

His red head peeked through the door to note nearly everyone had arrived. After looking at the collection, he frowned then raised a hand closer to his chest. He pressed his first, then second fingers against his thumb as he counted off the individuals waiting there. He stopped at Samad realizing that Cade was missing. Though his expression showed nothing, he inwardly sighed. No wonder Zak had such difficulty with them.

‘So I’m babysitting those two. At least the others appear to be adults,“ Alistair’s cynical thought disappeared as he put on a smile.

He opened his mouth to inform the others to head on in before he paused mid-sentence. His vision caught movement heading toward them, Cade looking pale and more sickly than usual. Dark rings circled underneath his eyes giving them a hollowed out look in the shitty light.

“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting. Why don’t you all head in and we’ll get started.”

His head ducked back in, expecting the more powerful members to arrive whenever. They already had been briefed over the missions expectations and giving their assignments, so the only reason to meet here was to make things go faster.

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A sole hunched figure lounged on a rather ornate throne, upon closer inspection you would see the smaller silhouette of a child in a gown sitting atop a coffin, her legs swaying back and forth. Despite the darkness that filled the hollow room, beams of light trickled through the cracks in the windows, revealing it to be day and giving enough of a hint to show the crouched man staring ahead at a giant painting. It seemed far too dark to make out even the slightest vestige of what the art depicted and yet the man gazed fervently.

"How many left?" The voice traced back to the silhouette of the girl, her twin tails swaying as she tilted her head to regard her partner.

"They are closed, each and every Red Door," the larger of the two replied, his tone weary.

"Then why are we still lingering here?" The girl responded except in another's voice, spoken in a callous monotone.

"Because I desire it so and so it shall be!" The hunched figure scoffed while sharply turning to regard the one who spoke with such audacity to one such as he. Even in this darkness his spectacles shimmered an eerie silver, reflecting the light from the fleeting rays of light. His expression eventually became one of shock, highlighted by his raised brow as he gazed upon the hurt that lay hidden behind his partner's face. He couldn't recall a time where he had ever behaved in such a way, at least not with her.

"I apologize little one," the figure returned to his hunched position, a hand shielding his face from the shame. "You should have stayed at A.M.R.O. as I am now....I am nothing more than a mons-"

"Do not presume to tell me where I should be," The girl interrupted, her tone still cold and yet possessing a diminutive quiver. "And do not presume to tell me what you are, you are Angel." The girl concluded, a strange duality present in her tone as she spoke as if two people spoke the same sentence, their voices overlapping each other.

Angel merely responded with a sigh followed by a weary groan as the towering Lost Number stood to face the Chrono, his expression a blank mask followed by a smile. "Ever since you were little you used to climb and sit there and then pretend to be too scared to get down. It took me a considerable time to finally realize it was just your coy way of getting a piggyback. Far too clever. Come now, I am sure Mr. Butler has returned with the panda cub I was intending to surprise you with, it should serve as a less dreary company for the mean time."

As Angel turned to walk away he felt the familiar arms of the tiny little girl that would pretend to cry while sitting on top of his coffin and beam with a bright smile when she would see him walking towards her, his hands often busy with one or the other chores required when raising a child hence always offering his back for the child to cling onto. And so the two made their way through the door leaving it wide open so the light could finally shine on the painting. A tall handsome man standing next to a white haired fragile looking woman with a child of four in their arms.

---------------------Xx----------xX---------------------
Briefing room

By the time Geko and Yin and entered the large room and taken a seat at the enormous round table, it was quite evident they were running a bit tardy.

"I told you the meeting time was 2 pm and not 3,” the woman scoffed at the older of the two."

From her features it was quite easy to place her ethnicity as Asian, leaning towards Chinese which was further stressed upon by her choice of cultural dressing. Her long hair bundled in a bun with a few loose strands shaping her face, an assortment of accessories and brooches adorning her hair. In regards to her clothing, she wore a red Cheongsam dress with gold embroidery that fell to her calves, a slit ensuring comfortable movement along with simple combat boots.

"What are you talking about kiddo, I was the one that said 2 and you said we have an hour so you went off to fix your hair, which if I may say is extremely impractical, it is attractive though." The older of the two replied his tone fluctuating from what began as defensive, then accusing and finally inviting, his leering gaze gifting him a firm kick to the shin.

"Allow me to introduce myself, I am Ying Laofeng and this old pervert is." She seemed to ponder his name until final clasping her hands at the remembrance. "Geko, I would warn the ladies here. He can be a nuisance." Despite Yin's insults, Geko remained silent aside from slight whimpering as he massaged his bruised shin. The old Lost Number appeared well above forty though anyone who had heard of the name Geko knew of his rather legendary status as the longest living Lost Number in A.M.R.O history, a man who had eliminated a Chrono that had bordered on going insane and finally the only Lost Number to operate without being partner to a Chrono, the thirteenth Lost Number.

"At least I ain't no virgin, girl. Never going to find yourself a decent man if you this violent." The old fellow commented, barely looking as the female Lost Number turned crimson and her gaze bordered on shame and murderous intent.

"Ummm this is the briefing room, yes? I was...umm...told to attend....and well...I...umm...this is the place?....I am sorry for being late...I got lost....would it be possible to...umm...start from the beginning? All I know is we are going to find…. someone?" The diminutive looking man that stood before the Asylums and Lost Numbers only seemed to shrink under their gaze.

"We are to locate Ante Mortem," Yin replied in a matter of fact-ly tone.

The frail looking fellow only gazed at the Lost Number, a look of gradual shock spreading as his gaze shifted to the banshees, the experimental team and SenDep. The look of shock turning to horror as he remembered all the rumors. The Banshees: blood crazed lunatics that slaughter at the command of Ante Mortem seeking to summon their Celtic Goddess of death who would become Angel’s bride, SenDep: Survivors of a demon cult that seek to bring ruin under Ante Mortem and resurrect their cult of demon worshippers. And finally the Experimental Team: Asylums that went insane, died and were resurrected by Ante Mortem hence immune to death alchemy such as the Death Drive. They had garnered a title known as the Devil's Horsemen.

"Oh..we are going with ‘them' to locate Ante Mortem?" The frail man replied with a hysterical smile and then vomited over the floor.

”No.” Maeve said flatly, distastefully eyeing the vomit. ”Not just no. Fuck no. I’m not going to go running after Angel and Reri when they’re in a mood like this. Gods only know what they’d try to do to us. In case you’ve forgotten, Kiara and I are the longest team to survive being sent on missions with them, and everyone else in the room represents the second longest teams. They’ve handily killed or injured, either through accidents or intention, everyone else. And you want to send us after them when they’re in a violent ‘leave us alone’ mood, with this guy to back us up? Fuck that, I like living. Send another Chrono team after them.”

Kiara sighed quietly, shaking her head. ”While crude, Maeve brings up a good point. Why are we being sent after them. We’re no stronger than the other teams that failed to retrieve them, and I’m sure Randoul and Terra would be delighted to go get Ante Mortem themselves. We’re just going to end up getting hurt or worse.”

”And that’s exactly the reason why we are being sent after them.” Lawrence set the now solved megaminx puzzle down on the table. He glanced over at the man who had just vomited on the floor. ”Well, that, and” he gestured towards the man.

”We ‘survived’ working alongside Ante Mortem longer than anyone else, and we’ve gained the rumors that come with it. Rumors that, regardless of the scale of truth behind them, have tainted our image amongst A.M.R.O. I think over time, we might start being blamed for things like what happened in Nep-”

”We don’t know that for certain.” Oliva interjected. She sang a melody under her breath and the vomit lifted itself off the ground and flew into the trashcan in the corner of the room. Better there than on the floor.

”It could be because we among anyone else have a closer connection to them. It could also be that they’re wanted back alive, and there’s less of a chance that we would kill them after working, and surviving, with them”.

Lawrence shrugged and picked up his puzzle again. He mixed up the pieces and went back to solving it.

Samad scoffed. He rose from his seat, his palms pressed into the table’s surface and his weight leaned into them. Usually, he rather remained silent in this situation, but his eyes glanced at Cade. It was enough to point out one cold, hard fact they knew existed. His eyes turned to glare at Alistair before he spoke his mind.
“I’m not eager about it either. The last encounter has left some of us in worse condition than others, leaving scars on all of us that I’m certain haven’t fully healed.”

He lowered himself back to this seat and asked the question he had managed the courage for, “Has someone high up in ARMO ordered us on this mission?”

“Yes,” Alistair confirmed in a serious tone.

It seemed the man was almost -if not more- patience as Samad himself. Samad sighed when he glanced once more at Cade. His partner sat at the table looking small as possible. There hadn’t even been a reaction to the discovery they would be going after Ante Mortem.

“Then it’s obvious we don’t really have a choice about accepting, so there’s no point in pretending we do. Unless someone wants to see what happens to Asylums that fight a superior’s decisions… I personally do not.”

He looked at the four others to note their reaction. He doubted they were willing to risk angering someone high on command’s food chain, unless they were stupid.

“The only ones that have a choice in this matter are Laofeng and Geko, the rest of us assigned do not.”

“Why is that you don’t have a choice? You’re an overseer, aren’t you?”

Samad’s voice asked in a suspicious tone, noting a fact that Alistair hadn’t made public yet.

The man inhaled softly then replied in an even tone.

“I see you’ve noticed Zak and me talking,” Alistair continued without waiting for an answer, “Yes, I’m an overseer. However, I’ve decided to join the mission regardless of the danger to ensure the rest of you make it back alive and in a decent condition.”

Alistair looked at Maeve then commented on her backing down from a challenge, “I’ll admit when I read your profile, I didn’t expect your last answer. Of course, reading is much different than actually meeting you in person.”

”I like a fight. I also like living. Reri’s nearly killed us before because she was in a bad mood or throwing a tantrum. I don’t want to find out what her actually trying to murder us would be like.”

He took a sip of coffee nearby before he continued to address each comment in order.

“Ante Mortem’s Reri critically wounded Terra’s partner, the Lost Number Silverfield. He attempted to intercept and prevent them from leaving. Any revival teams have been seriously wounded and barely managed to make it back so I understand your concern.”

”Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” Maeve muttered, earning an elbow from Kiara.

His words were smoothly linked with genuine empathy when he turned to Olivia and Lawrence.

“ARMO hasn’t any issue with any of you. Someone felt having familiar faces approach the pair would increase chances of success,” He then pointed to Maeve, this time to address something she had said prior.

“As you kindly pointed out, you’re the longest surviving team followed by the rest of you. I’m not a strong believer in outrageous luck, but you all either have it or one of them placed value on your lives. According to Angel’s personality profile, he doesn’t strike me as a Lost Number that wastes his time on people he’s indifferent to. Reri views everyone of lesser power as a bug, while her other side idolizes her older ‘brother’.”

His hand reached for a folder sitting next to him.

“By the way, I’m just as ‘thrilled’ about this as you all are. Especially since I’m missing pieces of the puzzle. I feel you all could fill me in on what happened and explain their behavior, allowing us to remain safe.”

As Maeve descended into quiet sulking, Kiara spoke up. [color=darkgeen]”Since we have no choice in this matter, next question, what’s he doing with us.”[/color] She pointed at the man who had recently vomited, and still looked afraid of them. ”He looks like he’s almost as afraid of us as he is the Ante Mortem.”

“Mr. Andrew Dwight is more of a scientist when it comes to cases and will be assisting in the second part of the assignment.”

Alistair held up the folder then opened it, verbally informing them about the mission.

“If Ante Mortem comes along or not, we’ll be heading to investigate an island town off the coast of England. There’s some odd alchemy readings over the two weeks. Several investigation teams have been sent, but none have returned. Our goal is get in, collect whatever information or samples we can, and leave alive. We are going to be the last team sent in before they decide to remove the possible threat.”

Andrew who by now had stopped heaving stood pale and in silent observation, his downcast gaze stealing peeks at the individual members and ultimately resting on Alistair whom he viewed as the least intimidating and or murderous individual in the room. Overseers were largely viewed as passive bystanders by many and a nuisance by most. They were a loophole in the system which the Chrono Tabion had capitalized on. It is widely understood that A.M.R.O’s politics is governed by the twelve Chronos, each who has dominance over a region in the world, each possessing a personal army as well as the perk known as ‘Parle’. Parle was originally designed as a haven personally belonging to said Chrono and as such all had to respect it. If the parle is ever broken it would bring the wrath of all Chronos upon he who breaks it. The infamous club, Ourosboros is but one of the Parle locations and while there include many others Tabion was the single Chrono who deemed his Overseers as Parle and as such no Asylum, Lost Number or Chrono can kill an Overseer. This single attribute has made the Overseers a nuisance which is heightened only further by their purpose, to monitor the activities of other Chronos and Lost Numbers. The position however is anything but envious as several Overseers tend to find themselves the victim of unforeseen “accidents”.

“I...am..um..an alchemic researcher actually,” Andrew finally replied in a passive whisper. “As Mister Alistair pointed out...umm...there are strange alchemic drive patterns being observed. Normally we would dismiss it….but….but the initial data shows it to be spreading then entering a state of dormancy and then becoming active….so one could surmise...” The Asylum continued, shrinking under the gaze of his audience.

“Basically A.M.R.O fears the minute possibility it could be an Alchemic pandemic,” Yin interrupted while stifling a yawn. Her accent rich with her Chinese heritage.

“Angel isn’t the most reliable fellow,” Geko continued unable to resist a cough, trying to tactfully describe the Silver Reaper was quite the taxing task. “But we can’t dispute his Knowledge or the capabilities of little Reri. Now normally Ante Mortem would not behave the way the did, they avoid unwanted attention.” As Geko spoke his gaze flickered across the team of Asylums present, scrutinizing them as if contemplating the possibility they had a part to play. “We have to assume something happened and to avoid future casualties Yin and I will be accompanying you lot.”

“Really old man?” Yin scoffed, a grin spread across her face. “You were rambling on how this was not what you signed on for, did you change your mind because you realized there are four beautiful women on board?”

“I count three beautiful women and a child, why don’t you grow in the right places then we can add you to that list eh?” The old Lost Number crowed as he turned to face Yin who once again had turned red, whether from embarrassment or anger was debatable.

Andrew on the other hand was now clutching what appeared to be a tribal talisman, one akin to warding evil, while cautiously glancing between Maeve, Kiara, Olivia, Lawrence, Cade and Samad.

“You guys never really answered the Leech?” Yin finally replied, her anger subsiding to a simmering rage and her use of the derogatory term for the Overseers revealing what she thought of them. “What exactly caused Ante Mortem to….leave?”
”Our link disturbance coupled with our month’s stay on the Pods. I believe that Angel was attempting to take Samad and Cade to the void to work some things out, but he ended up bringing Reri, us, and Bean Sidhes into the void with them.”

Lawrence leaned forward in his chair. ”The extra people called to the void must have destabilized it. We each had to face our Red Door to escape, with the exception of Reri. Angel had given her a way out. I lingered to see how Angel faced his Door.”

Lawrence shifted in his seat. ”I wasn’t expecting the number of Doors he had to deal with. Our Doors were either a source of insight, something we already knew, or something scarring.” He glanced between Olivia, Samad, Maeve, and Cade as he spoke.

He looked back at Yin. “I couldn’t imagine what enough doors to surround someone would do to a person like Angel..

Politely, Alistair let the Lost Number and Chrono exchange insults during their conversation. His attention zoned in on Yin’s sudden anger followed by her insisting on the others answering the question. During the insult, he retained a cool and indifferent expression. In fact, it appeared this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for him.

Samad looked away from Lawrence when the elder man mentioned them. His arms crossed over his chest while he settled back into his chair, his legs straighten out underneath the table.

“Nothing good. We all have our own demons we rather forget and I’m sure he has a ton in his closet. It does explain what caused Ante Mortem’s bizarre behavior. This has become much more difficult than I wanted it to be,” Alistair sighed then projected his thoughts to Samad in private.

“I suppose you’re not going to share why Angel took it onto himself to take you both into the void?”

Samad just glared at him. That was an obvious no from him. It was the answer Alistair expected and simply took a breath, “I thought not, but I was hoping your profile might’ve been exaggerated Samad.”

“If any of you have additional questions, now is the time to ask them. Afterward, we’ll be heading out.”

The silence in the room seemed to say enough, all the Asylums knew what needed doing regardless of their opinions. A chaotic alchemic drive had been observed emanating from a village, the alchemic energy behaving in a manner akin to a virus and or epidemic. That alone was reason enough to realize the importance of this mission. Once an alchemic epidemic spreads and becomes fully active, the only means of stopping it via destroying every last source of it. Geko knew all this and also knew why they were ordered to find Ante Mortem. Reri’s destructive capabilities were widely known, almost as much as the horde of knowledge at Angel’s disposal.

“Well I suppose we might as well get going, porting to London will be taxing so I hope you lovely ladies haven’t eaten anything,” The oldest of the Lost Numbers chuckled as he casually walked up to Alistair’s earshot.

“I am assuming Angel has never shared the void with you, there are few who have seen it.” The man spoke, his gaze far off as if in recollection of an event. “He once told me that the mind is often synonymous to the soul and they are all indirectly connected via the void. He said that the Void is endless possibility for it represents the soul and or mind’s potential. It is all very confusing but I know Angel disliked going there and he never stayed there for long. We need to be careful, especially of Reri…..” With that Geko dropped his serious demeanour and quickly joined Kiara, Maeve and Olivia as they headed to the Teleportation Circle. “So ladies who wants to know the secret behind my handsome looks?”

Alistair said nothing. His eyes shifted to follow Geko, declining to show his surprise at the more friendly interaction. Already he had collected enough data for rough personality sketches of each individual. Enough to make this mission easier for all of them, including who to avoid. Silently he followed the group heading to the Teleportation Circle.
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Samad

Xx---------------------------xX

Location: Outskirts of London.
Time: Past Noon (because of time zones!)



Samad kept close to Cade as the group moved through the hallways. His silent indicated his mood accurately, the tension and irritation given off in his aura. He spoke no one as they drew closer. He reached out a hand then turned the knob. Walking in, his eyes absorbed the set out on trained instinct and not looking forward to the teleporting.

The room was round with no furniture. A ring of sigils were all painted in red at the floor’s center, the markings appeared to engraved to prevent tampering. The floor gave a sterilization feel with white walls and floor covering every inch. Lights illuminated the occupants inside, about six asylums standing nearby. Upon seeing the group they already began to power the sigils creating a glow about each engraving, lines of magic zipped from each one to meet in the center.

Alistair gestured for everyone to head onto it first. An offer Samad gladly took as he stepped into the platform, calmly waiting for the others. When the last one stood on it, the porters began to mix their sigils with chants to begin the spell. He turned to Cade to give a word of advice.

“You might want to close your eyes or you might vomit,” his own eyes shut when the tingling sensation spread across his skin.

For a moment, it reminded him of when Cade and himself had made their last desperate attack on Angel. It had been the one moment they unified then crumbled apart.

As the sensation faded, Samad’s eyes opened up. It revealed a near identical room causing some confusion in his brain until he picked out the differences. There were no Asylum porters within the room. He stepped off the platform toward the door before he twisted about and faced the others.

“So, who’s leading the way and does anyone have a plan?” He asked the others.
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“So, who’s leading the way and does anyone have a plan?”

Geko hadn't even registered Samad's question, all his senses were a groggy messy haze. The old Lost Number was the opposite to Angel in regards to means of transportation, he despised teleportation. It always seemed so unnatural to him and that coupled with the fact it made him want to empty his stomachs was enough a reason to avoid porting.

"Damn I hate porting..." Geko voiced his annoyance, his voice slightly muffled due to the hand that cupped his mouth, hoping to prevent a gag reflex. "What did you say Sama…" Even as the Lost Number spoke his eyes slowly widened, his mouth left ajar as he followed Yin's gaze, off to the west. Sweat beaded down their temples as both Lost Numbers simply stared without uttering a single word, it almost seemed as if the two had stopped breathing even.

"I...don't think this was a good idea..." Yin finally spoke up in a raspy voice, as if her throat had gone dry.

"That child is....frightening..." Geko replied, regaining composure slightly slower than his comrade. "Do you not feel it?" He spoke, turning to face the Asylums. "Her alchemic drive.....is everywhere....its suffocating." He continued and after a short pause, pointed towards where Yin still seemed to be looking. "It is concentrated in that direction, it seems either Reri wants A.M.R.O to find her....or she is telling us what will happen if A.M.R.O finds her."

"We have our orders, the Ante Mortem must be brought to heel. Even they wouldn't want to face the wrath of A.M.R.O, apparent from the fact they didn't kill any Asylum that was sent to retrieve them. Lucky for us we have the Reaper's....friends....with us....oh and an Overseer. Smooth sailing from here." Yin replied, her tone thick in sarcasm.

Right behind all of them was the diminutive and easily forgotten figure of Andrew, A.M.R.O's alchemic research scientist. Though his invisibility eventually faded once the man ended up rushing towards a trashcan and vomiting in it once more.

"Just how much can one man puke?" Yin asked the Asylums in front of her, apparently everyone staring at the man who was emptying his stomach one moment that sprawled on the ground, unconscious, the other.

"Our chances keep improving," Geko replied adding to Yin's previous sarcastic remark.

"Everyone take half an hour to prep, this may go either ways so make sure you are ready. Also can someone please wake Mister Andrew and possibly make sure he does not die?" With that said Yin casually walked towards a plain wall, pressed a hand on it and instantly several compartments opened up with weapons and ammunition.

----------------------------Xx-----------xX----------------------------------------
Location: A mansion near a semi-rural area towards the West of London

"Shit..." was the only word uttered by Geko as the Asylums finally stood behind the massive metal gate to Ante Mortem's mansion. The alchemic drive emanating from within the mansion was almost painful. The Lost Number could taste it, feel it on his skin, a blistering, singing sensation.

"Any one seen 'Monster House'?" Yin joked which elicited a small whimper from Andrew who at this point was the furthest from the group, conveniently situated behind Alistair.

"Who wants to ring the bell?" Geko asked, his humor still present albeit lacking the usual flair.

"Just get it over with!" Yin shouted, charging towards the bell and ringing it once. When there was no response she rang it again and then decided it would be wise to keep ringing the bell. After perhaps the twentieth ring someone finally shouted from far off.

"I am on my way!" A rather elderly fellow slowly approached at a pace that may have taken him an eternity to reach them if he hadn't almost instantly appeared in front of the gate, traversing an ungodly distance at an ungodly speed.

"How can I help you Asylums?" The man spoke, his attire and expression revealing his profession to be a kin to a sweet old butler. The only thing that betrayed this persona was the sharp needle like blades that protruded from his fingers.

"Why can't I feel any alchemic drive from him?" Andrew finally spoke up, his curiosity over-shadowing his dread. "How fascinating, what are you?"

"The Butler," the old man replied in a respectful tone. "How may I be of assistance?"

"We are friend's of Ante Mortem and wanted to have a cup of tea with them?" Geko replied with a nervous smile and a shrug.

"Right this way Master Asylums," the old man replied with a nod, the sturdy gate slowly opening allowing the Asylums to pass inside.

"That was easy," Yin whispered to the Asylums as they cautiously approached the second entrance.

"You will fins the Master inside, please avoid unnecessary damage to the property and if possible do not bleed over the Persian Rugs, they were just washed." With that the Butler gently opened the wooden door and ushered the Asylums inside and then the door closed.

"Shit" Geko and Yin spoke in tandem as they saw the young Chrono standing right in front of them.

"Ice-cream?" Rena replied after a few seconds of deathly uncomfortable silence, right after that Andrew passed out again.
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"Never liked porting" Lawrence muttered as he leaned with his hand against the wall of the London porting room. Olivia rolled her eyes as she made her way towards the now unconscious Andrew. She couldn't understand how anyone could hate the sensation of porting. The way that the world twists in on itself as they teleported across the world was exhilarating. Her gaze dropped down to the man on the floor next to the trash can, his arms moments away from bringing the can and its contents down on him. She clicked her tongue with a small smile and carefully moved his arms down.

She gestured for Cade to give her a hand leaning Andrew up against the wall. Once the man was situated against the wall and woken up, Olivia turned to Cade. "How have you been?"




Ante Mortem's mansion


Lawrence glanced back at the closed door. He could leave; abandon AMRO and become a fugitive, with Ante Mortem being a main priority he and Olivia could find one of his go bags and try to dissapear. At least they'd have more of a chance than they do facing down Rin. At the mention of ice cream, Lawrence lowered his guard a fraction. With how quickly they could change personalities, he still needed to be cautious.

"Are you asking us for ice cream, or are you offering? Olivia smiled at Rena. Lawrence shot her a glare. "If you're offering, that sounds amazing. If not, I'm sure we might be able to get Andrew to get some. He's had enough scares today." Olivia glanced back and the man crumpled on the floor.

"Will your brother be joining us for ice cream?" Olivia asked the now childlike Chrono.
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Xx---------------------------xX
Experimental Team
Xx---------------------------xX




Location: In Angel's and Rena's mansion.
Time: Past Noon (because of time zones!)



(Before)

It took a moment for Cade to notice Olivia gesture for him. Promptly he moved over to assist with Andrew, his arms pulled Andrew to the nearest wall. He gestured Olivia to get his medical while he pressed his fingers to the patient’s throat, checking the pulse. It was steady. Allowing the given task to distract him, Cade barely caught the question.

It took him a moment before he answered.

“I-I… I’m good. Nothing much to say really.”

Cade attempted to smile, but his heart didn’t show in it. That genuinely failed to shine through as he didn’t continue the small talk. In reality, he didn’t know what to say and he wasn’t going, to be honest. Inside he wasn’t fine at all.

As his hand drew near his sebon, they quivered slightly. Flashes of a maddening grin followed by the flashes of his sebon buried into his body caused Cade to flinch. Samad must’ve seen it too because his head jerked toward him, his cane nearly came free for an attack.

“Sorry Samad,” he stated as his hand lifted in a disarming manner.

He inhaled then shoved past for something to help with Andrew’s vomiting. He popped two pills into his palm and passed them over, followed by a bottle of water.




Samad was among the first to edge into the mansion. His eyes darted from side to the other, partly expected something to go sour. He had to agree with Yin. They had gotten in too easily and that usually meant something else was going to drop.

His suspicions were confirmed when they met Rena.

Olivia was the first one that made contact as she smiled at the child, confirming her intentions. He tensed as his hand twitched. However, he didn’t cast any magic. Provoking someone that could easily kill them was ill-advised, but he wasn’t going to be unprepared for the worst case.

It seemed he wasn’t the only one on guard. Alistair’s drive had subtly came to life, but nothing happened yet. At least he was truthful about being ready to protect them.

Cade had begun to attend to Andrew. His hand reached for the smelling salts but he decided to wait until the scene was done. In the meanwhile, he folded a coat underneath the man’s head and monitored his vitals.
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[color=39b54a][/color][color=39b54a][/color]The Banshees

Maeve and Kiara stuck behind Olivia and Lawrence, with Maeve sparing only an exasperated glance for Andrew's (yet again) unconscious form. They seemed to be the only two who were completely relaxed. Rena was the one in control and they had a couple seconds to react if Rin started to take over. Besides, it wasn't like they'd actually have a chance if Reri decided to kill them. No use stressing about an outcome already decided if it happens. They hadn't bothered to grab any weapons for this very reason. If they were going to get in a fight with Ante Mortem, no amount of firepower was going to change anything.

Olivia appeared to have taken the lead and they were more than willing to let her roll with it. They'd only jump in with their carefully selected bribes (Extra ice cream, tickets to see Pandas, reluctant willingness to let Rena dress them up again) if Rin started to take over. They could deal with Rena. She was at least friendly and easy to talk to. Rin was far more likely to merely kill them for so much as daring to suggest that they could meet up with Angel and bring him along for a mission he clearly doesn't want to go on.

Kiara looked around mildly surprised. With the presence of Rena she had expected the mansion to look more like a toy land castle or theme park. Perhaps there were other parts of the mansion that held rooms such as that, or portals that lead to private areas, or whatever the Ante Mortem could come up with to expand their home. She kept an eye on Rena, watching for her reaction to Oliva's offer. They'd need to move quickly if things turned violent. She gave a sharp disproving look towards Alistair as she sense his drive activating. She extended a thought to him, lightly rebuking. You're only going to get us killed if she senses that and doesn't like it. Calm down or hid it better.

Maeve watched Rena, smiling lightly. She genuinely liked the girl, when she wasn't threatening their lives or trying to kill them with the powers that were akin to a god. She only hoped that Rena took them up on the offer, and brought them too Angel before Rin could take over. She didn't bother reprimanding Alistair as she felt his drive, Kiara was already on it. She could only hope that Rena didn't take offence.
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Rena simply stood and stared at the gathering of Asylums in front of her, her head tilting slightly in confusion, quite possibly directed at just how on edge they all were. Before the Chrono could respond to Olivia her head snapped towards Alistair who had activated his Alchemic Drive and everything suddenly stood still. If at that moment Rin had been the dominant personality there are quite a few ways how she would have responded to this perceived challenge, none of them would have been pleasant. Luckily it was Rena who was awake and unfortunately even she had seen this as a challenge.

The Chrono smiled innocently as she twirled about and gauged the alchemic power of the Overseer who stood before her and once she had his measure she spoke. "My turn now!" At that moment her alchemic drive which had been dispersed throughout the city suddenly began to pull back, as if drawn to a magnet her sheer force of alchemic energy returned, radiating around her. Rena was enveloped in an aura that could only be described as raw blinding power, this is what it meant to stare at a titan. Before the adverse effects of such overwhelming alchemic drive exposure could take root in the Asylums, Rena instantly stopped her alchemic drive and everything returned to normal, everyone could remember how to breathe once more.

"I win!" The Chrono chirped as she twirled about clearly impressed at her own capabilities when compared to the sheep around her, albeit she viewed it far too innocently. For her it was but a game where she won and as such deserved praise.

"Rena what mischief are you up to?" Angel's weary voice echoed and interrupted the uncomfortable silence that had arisen due to the Chrono's display of power.

"Big brother is awake," she whispered while wincing, much like a child who had accidently woken her parents. She eventually turned to face Olivia and summoned a jovial smile. "Our butler makes the best ice-cream in the world, I will tell him to get us some while you go talk to Angel. With those words the girl instantly made her retreat, snickering at how the Asylums would be the target of Angel's ire, a perfect escape goat. "Oh Crowley....we need more ice-cream!" Her voice echoed, growing all the more distant.

Throughout Yin and Geko had been rather preoccupied in maintaining a relatively calm disposure as they had been subjected to the full force of Rena's alchemic drive. "She's a damn monster!" Yin replied, her tone laced in her native Chinese accent.

"Should be glad it wasn't the other one," Geko responded with a little chuckle, as if in fond reminiscence. "Well the worst is over, let's go meet Angel, convince him to come with us, avoid running in with Rin, stop what could be a demonic plague and live and grow old together." By the time Geko finished his motivational pep talk, Andrew had already charged straight towards the exit, his arms flailing about as he screamed. "Get me the fuck out of here." The researched managed to say it twice before being close lined by Yin who had teleported in his path, knocking him out once more.

"Can I please kill this guy?" The Lost Number replied as her fingers twitched towards her daggers.

"No we cannot kill the alchemic researcher who may help us stop an alchemic pandemic," Geko responded while performing soothing gestures as if calming a tantrum throwing child.

"Fuck it, send the Banshees first....or the leech." True to her words Yin entered Angel's chambers last and contemplated leaving when her gaze matched with that of her fellow Lost Number.

Angel languished on top of a luxurious throne while two empty thrones lay unoccupied on either sides. Behind him rested a massive portrait which had been draped over by a cloth, hiding the contents of the painting. It took the Lost Number a few seconds to even acknowledge the presence of the Asylums that had gathered, there was no greeting, no sarcastic comments, nothing. Instead Angel merely observed the group with disdain, his expressions quite visibly antagonistic.

"Why have you come here?" The Silver Reaper spoke as he stood and pried open his coffin, his arm disappearing within the coffin's mouth and reappearing with the living cloth that formed his iconic overcoat. The fabric warped and twisted about Angel, devouring him until it took on the appearance of a large overcoat. The iconic gunmetal overcoat which the Reaper wore to battle.

"To die," Angel responded, answering his own question. Though by his tone it was not an answer but a statement directed at the futility of whatever these Asylums had hoped to do.

"Back the fuck up!" Yin growled and the darkness around her pulsed sharing in her anger. From every cervix the darkness that it held slowly began to seep and approach the Lost Number.

"Angel don't do something you will regret, do you want A.M.R.O coming after you?" Geko replied, his arms raised in an act of displaying his passive intentions.

"I have grown tired of acting upon the whims of a fractured organization, I have grown tired of it all. If it must end....so be it." Angel didn't sigh or heave, instead he almost seemed eager for conflict. His fingers clasped around the hilt of an antique sword that was displayed on the wall, drawing it from it’s sheathe, the metal gleaming in response, still sharp even after an age of slothful decadence.
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𝔸𝕝𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕚𝕣 ℝ𝕙𝕠𝕟𝕖𝕤



Alistair’s figured remained still. His hands found his pockets and feet subtly bounced on his balls, giving off an aura of childish impatience. For greater changes, he wished his alchemy was faster. Often he had to plan prior to the meetings in order to give the best first impression. However, he wasn’t working with someone that was used to his methods and caution was best. Everyone was on the edge which didn’t help.

When Kiara’s voice entered his head, Alistair’s eyes shifted toward her direction. A simple, physical acknowledgment about her reprimand. The silence was his answer as his drive flared a slightly bit more, then finally fizzled out. Evidence of it all dissipated into the air. At times, he wondered why Tabion offered him the overseer job. Especially when he warned the older Asylum, he played to ensure ARMO’s future even if it meant breaking the rules. Times were changing and that meant the Corporation would have to start making changes too, for the better.

His mind jerked back to the present when a sledgehammer from Rena’s Alchemy drive slammed into his head. It seemed the Chrono’s profile was correct. Her reactions were more positive than he expected, though the resulted didn’t match up with most people’s definition of it. His hand jerked up as he cradled his temple, his breath sharply inhaled then released.

When Rena’s little demonstration ended, he felt the throbbing headache pass. Even JC’s, the little rogue alchemist who’s abilities didn’t make the cut, music didn’t quite match up. Once it dulled into a manageable state, Alistair’s hand fell from his temple back to his side. He genuinely smiled at the young girl. Finally, he nodded in agreement to her statement. At least one of the pair wasn’t completely changed by the event.

There was some relief in this for him.

Alistair’s eyes darted to check on each team’s reaction, knowing he was to blame for the pain. Cade, out of all them, hadn’t fared very well. The blond haired man struggled to focus while his patient had jumped and rushed toward the door. His right hand held his glasses as he rubbed his nose bridge, his legs folded underneath him. Samad’s reaction surprised Alistair most though. The Iranian had crouched down beside Cade and began to search through the medical bag. He withdrew a bottle then read it. It seemed to be the thing he was looking for as he popped two pills into his palms and passed them to Cade’s. He pulled out a water bottle twisted open the cap for Cade to chase it down with.

Alistair wasn’t inwardly pleased with Rena’s immediately retreat for ice cream while they were lead to meet Angel. When the conversation with Angel began, he could see why too clearly. As Angel appeared to ready himself to assault them, he decided to step in and make an attempt to calm things down. Or at least, keep Angel’s ire on himself.

What he was about to say couldn’t be put delicately, but he hoped it might stir Angel’s common sense to the surface.

“And are you willing to let your partner share your fate as well? One partner’s actions have consequences that affect them both. You know she’ll fight with you until the end if you do this and you both will die, go insane, or be forever on the run. Please, tell me you aren’t heartless enough to do that to her,” Alistair stated, his voice calm and not threatening.

He let the words sink in as he casually walked in between the Asylums and Angel, ensuring he was to be the first target in Angel would attack. His hands were held out for the Lost Number to see while he watched carefully. Deep down the Overseer suspected his rank in ARMO provided no protection now. Oddly, it didn’t bother him. No fear radiant off his person as he stood in the attack zone. In his childhood and the world outside ARMO, this was an element he accepted a long time ago.

Everything dies eventually.

However, he wasn’t willing to lay down like a dog and accept his fate without some difficulty. A deeper, more emphatic part of him hoped Angel wouldn’t force his hand. After reading Angel’s and Reri’s profiles, he knew Angel had a soft spot for children and Alistair didn’t really want to use his specialty in this way. Especially to keep the broken man before them from attacking. Some of his admiration from reading Angel’s more recent exploits crumbled into disappointment.

‘Geko and Yin, could you two get ready to get the Asylums out of here should things get ugly. The mission is a little more important than the teams wasting their time trying to wrestle two unwilling Asylums along. I’ll meet the group there later,’ Alistair replied to only Geko and Yin mentally.

The last part was a blunt lie. If things went horribly wrong, this would be the last time he would see them and all three of them knew it.
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