Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lunarlord34
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Lunarlord34 Totally not a vampire

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It was an eerily quiet night in the city of Mahoukyo. As its name might suggest, it was renowned for its wonders in magic, crawling with untold stories and secrets waiting to be uncovered. Much of the population worldwide had magic, powered by mysterious energy simply known as ‘Soul’, but only a handful compared to that went on to become mages. Mahoukyo perhaps had the worlds most world-renowned and infamous mage families dwelling in it, the Rikimaru, Isamu and Akechi families.

The three had been silently working behind the scenes, fighting amongst themselves over territory, power, members, amongst many other things out of the public eye. Much like what was happening right now out of the public eye…

A man, eyes wide with terror, ran through one of the many back-alleys that made up the city. It was almost a maze at times, and he knew this. It was his intention to lose the person chasing him at this moment. Every now and then he would glance behind him, but the figure was still there...silently following after him without seeming to break a sweat no matter how hard he ran...still they walked after them and even seemed to be catching up without a hassle!

Gah! He knew he should’ve never gotten involved with that group….he knew they were nothing but trouble, why didn’t he listen to his gut?! He came to a sudden, skidding stop at that thought, barely saving himself from running headfirst into the glistening wires in front of him.

“Oh? You actually managed to see them? Impressive.” The man’s head shot upwards to look at the voice that spoke out to him...only to see a black cat with two mismatched eyes, one green the other yellow, looking down at him. That wasn’t the only strange thing about the cat, for the tip of its tail seemed to be on fire? He was obviously a familiar, this man knew that. For that was that mans familiar.

He went to open his mouth, only to let out a blood-curdling scream as he felt himself be grabbed by an unknown force and slammed into the ground. He could feel it digging into him now, like rope, his squirming just making them tighter around him. The small figure that had been following him had now caught up and placed a foot atop his back, pressing him into the ground. The man began to frantically try to think of something, anything, that would stop this monster!

“W-wait! I’m sorry! I won’t do it again, I promise!” The man was desperate as the smaller, cloaked figure gave no hint of a verbal response, simply raising their small, doll-like hand and slowly brought it into a half-fist, causing the tight feeling around him to intensify. Wounds, as if he was slowly being sliced through by string, started to form along his body as he howled in pain.

“Heh, you should’ve thought of that before trying to steal the artifact. No mercy for thieves and traitors Leo.” The cat spoke again, grooming itself slowly as it looked down upon his writhing form. The small figure seemed to look up at the cat now, pointing down at the man beneath them before making a slashing motion across their throat.

“Oh, of course you have to kill him. That’s kinda your job there Diligence.” The cat chuckled as the hooded figure nodded silently, the man speaking up once more.

“Wait! I can explain! I just-gah!” He was cut off as it felt like a rope had been wrapped around his entire body then tightened further and further, screaming as his arm was sliced clean off like a precise surgeon, blood gushing out of his wound and spraying all over the walls and the figures cloak. The figure stopped for a moment to reach up to their face and wipe a speck of blood off as the man writhed in agony.

Flames shot out from the man and wrapped around the figure, who seemed unperturbed as he started hurling abuse at them.

“You bitch! I’ll fucking kill you for that! Mark my words, we will-!” Having heard enough, the feminine hand finally clenched into a fist. Shortly after the man was sliced into fine little chunks with one last agonizing scream, the flames dying soon after.

“Heh, he should’ve tried fighting back to begin with. Would’ve ended better.” The cat remarked smugly, leaping down from its perch up above and seemed to float down onto the figures shoulder. After patting down a small fire on it, the cat wandered up to nuzzle against the figure's cheek. “You did well again Dilligence, though could you really stop with leaving so much blood everywhere? It’ll be a pain to clean up you know?”

The figure simply nodded at the cat’s words, leaning down as all the pieces of the man seemed to be dragged by an unseen force into a large pile. Luckily despite the cat’s complaints, they didn’t need to clean this mess up ...he was meant to be an example, so it was time to leave an impressionable one.





The click-clacking of heeled boots on tile echoed throughout the empty warehouse, a lone, slimly built woman being the source. Long, silvery-white hair flowed out over a dark, military-esque outfit with a red-collared top and red stripes along the sleeves over the top of a similar look skirt that ended above dark, thigh highs that ended with boots of yet again a similar design with a matching dark cloak over the top, her inquisitive, gentle eyes were a strange greyish-silver. In her hand, was a sheathed katana, which she seemed to be running against the darkened walls of the seemingly abandoned building.

Coming to a stop, she lets out a loud sigh before placing her hand on what looked to be just a wall. A soft glow radiated out from her glove, where a rather peculiar looking insignia resided. A moment later, a door glowing the same color seemed to materialize from thin air. Reaching down towards where the knob should be, she made a twisting motion with her hand. Responding to the ‘key’, the door slowly creaked open and the woman stepped inside.

Upon entering, she blinked a few times as she stepped out of the semi-darkness that enveloped the warehouse from before and was now basking in bright light. She wasn’t the first one here, the first two she saw being a man with silvery hair and cold topaz eyes wearing a blue coat, the other being a man wearing some comfortable, padded armor and was leaning against the wall, eyes closed though it was hard to tell through his dark fringe.

At her entrance, the two men, who seemed to be talking amongst themselves, stood at attention. The man leaning against the wall shot up, eyes open as he saluted, while the other man simply gave a brisk salute.

“I do apologize for my tardiness gentlemen, it really is hard to find your way here in the dark.” The woman chuckled. There didn’t seem to be many others here yet, so there wasn’t much need to say anything just yet.

“Lady Maylis.”

“Mistress Maylis.”

The two men greeted her at about the same time, the dark-haired man lowering his salute as the other sauntered over to her.

“The rest of Dieter’s team will be here shortly Lady Maylis, though I really must once again voice my disapproval of you going into that...madness with them.” Mr. Bluecoat frowned as he spoke, standing tall over the woman. She wasn’t even all that short, standing at five foot eight with a slim build, however, this man was about six foot two or so so almost towered over her.

“It’s fine Alister.” Maylis sighed. “I wish to see this team first-hand, so no better way than to go in with them, no? See them with my own two eyes. My main task is to observe, and if need be, intervene. I thought I had you briefed already?”
Alister seemed to hesitate for a moment, a twitch of his eye as Maylis looked up smugly towards him. That’s right, he could complain and mother hen her all he wanted, but as family head, Maylis Isamu’s word was effectively law. If she wished to go into Zero Time to fight alongside them? Well, no one had the right to stop her.

"If I may, Mistress Maylis?” The other man, Dieter, spoke up now in a respectful tone, causing both Alister and Maylis to turn to look towards him.

Gesturing to him before Alister can say a word, she simply says one word.

“Speak.”

“As comforting as your presence would be, I am with Mr Rose here. We cannot just allow you to keep going into Zero Time like this, least we risk another ....” With a nod, he began to speak, but soon enough he too was hesitating as he looked towards their leader.

“Another what?” She asked dryly, frowning at what he was implying here. Her hand came to rest on the hip that her sword dwelled, tantalizingly close to the handle. “Another incident like my fathers? Rest easy, I do not plan on fighting the other two...families.”

She seemed to spit the last word out like it left a foul and disgusting after-taste in her mouth. Bah, they hardly qualified as ‘families’. Especially with how the Akechi treated their own members...just thinking about it made her face go dark for a moment, but she soon recomposed herself. She didn’t want to scare the ones who would be arriving any moment now.

“Besides, it’s hardly fitting for a leader to expect one of her own to go into the thick of danger, yet not go in herself no?”

This argument was a pretty common occurrence between Maylis and the other higher-ranked Isamu, who seemed intent on not letting her into Zero Time. However, getting through to the Isamu head was sometimes impossible once she set her mind on something….

This arguing would continue for a while, even as the others filtered in. Maylis would offer a quick greeting before getting right back into the matter, the duo arguing with Maylis seeming to get more and more animated while Maylis continued to exude her usual mature and calm exterior.


Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lunarlord34
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Lunarlord34 Totally not a vampire

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When the other members of Gang 13 arrived at the designated meeting place, they had a rather large, spacious basement under a cafe owned by the Rikimaru fully furnished with plush chairs, electronics, tables, beanbags, a large fridge; everything they could ever need. The first thing they would notice is that their young and...rowdy leader, Frieda Necromantia, was once again a no show. What else was new?

She was infamous even amongst the Rikimaru for her chaotic and frankly rather insane take to things. It was probably for the best that she wasn’t here anyway, thought the ginger-haired girl that was seated at the head of a long table lined with around twenty cushioned wooden chairs on either side.

Her usually unruly and long ginger hair that was commonly tied into two tails, was instead just the one long ponytail that ended just above a , a loose-fitting, long-sleeved blue blouse, that exposed a shoulder, with a orange sweater tied around her waist and black tights. She had already taken off her shoes and replaced them with more comfortable sneakers, which somewhat contrasted the far more ‘dressed to impress’ look the slender, well-endowed girl had gone with.

She had been out shopping with friends when she had gotten the call to come in, dreading it all day. No one else could deal with Frieda, nor her gang for that matter. So the only one else willing to lead this group of misfits was the young girl seated right here and now.

Gang 13 was one of the gangs charged with entering Zero Time and collecting Soul Essence, so naturally for one who wasn’t actually allowed in Zero Time, this sort of gathering was normally rather...troublesome and awkward for all those involved. She questioned sometimes why her grandfather didn’t move Frieda elsewhere, but suppose rules were rules...even archaic ones.

Sprawled out on her chest on the table, Whina sighed, she snuck a glance slightly up to her right where Dunkas stood. The absolute mountain of a man standing off just to the side, because where else would he be? He had been following her all day, even during her day out with her friends from school. He at least had the decency to stay further back than usual...yet he still stuck out like a sore thumb at the clothing stores, earning strange, concerned looks from the customers and staff alike.

Her face sunk back into her slender arms, sighing again. Just one night was all she wanted. Was that too much? She would scream in frustration right now, but she didn’t want to give Dunkas any more concerns than the protective man needed. Instead, she just waited to see who, or rather how many, from the gang would actually show up today.



Hector Timothy Johnson, a man of renowned discipline, even amongst the Akechi he strove for perfection second only to his long-time friend, Touma Akechi. Though unlike his old friend, he knew there would always be bumps along the road to perfection….

Dark hair, cold brown eyes and clad in a collared shirt, hooded jumper and trousers, all of which were as dark as his hair and look, that didn’t do justice to his surprisingly strong build. Currently, he stood, conversing with the family head through the use of his telepathy magic, enhanced by what seemed to be a phone with a rather large and expensive gem sticking out of it.

“Understood sir, consider it done.” Ending his call with Touma, Hector let out a sigh before sending out a mass message to his team through a similar telepathic link that he shared with Touma. ‘It’s a go. Meet at the usual, 1800 hours.’ His brief message delivered, the man turned on his heels, well on his way to his team's meeting place.

It would do no good for the Squad Leader to be late, no? He had a reputation to uphold.

Their meeting place was simply a...well meeting room located on the outer residence. The kind that one would expect to be used for presentations and the like for businesses. It was a professional approach to things Hector believed, besides he and his elite squad only needed the small room to prepare for what would lay ahead at any rate.

Naturally, he was the first to arrive, around half an hour early even. This allowed him time to dwell on the details that Touma had given him, as well as the details an intern from the Reconnaissance division now delivered to him and hurriedly dashed off without a word.

Reaching into a pocket and retrieving his reading glasses, Hector poured over the information as he awaited his team’s full gathering. He expected them to be on time, otherwise, they themselves knew they were going to get an earful.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Shard
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Shard I write stuff, and things.

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⚫ Café Yuki.
⚫ Rikimaru Fun House.


Lowering his headphones, a petite creature made his way into a coffee shop he had known for years, and many to come. A favorite spot, one might say, with emerald eyes scanning what today’s events had on offer. Couples had made themselves comfortable by large windows allowing for a breathtaking view of Mahoukyo city, something an average citizen would likely take for granted. One would be forgiven for mistaking those glass barriers screens displaying the infinity of endless life, from roaring cars to silent steps. Each and every individual moving with purpose across a vast city-scape torn between three equally massive families branded factions of ideals, and rules. Yet, despite this, a weary soul could always appreciate a moment’s serenity embraced by relaxing music, and soothing aromas.

He did not drink coffee, the young marksman, and yet, there was an appreciation which lingered upon his features. Little could compare to the scent of grounded beans, transformed into a powder which could very well unlock the joy of an entire day. “The usual?” A voice trickled past quiet murmurs coating the inside of Café Yuki, directly aimed at the small creature turning to meet the owner of those words.

It was not an odd, or unwarranted thought in attempting to decipher the green-eyed individual. He wielded an aura of innocence, each movement bringing with it a teenaged curiosity, if there was such a thing. His expression exposed a relaxed disposition, if somewhat mischievous in response to a question thrown his way. With slender fingers tracing a path down the strap across his scrawny chest, the elusive Rikimaru faction member let the appendage fall to his side, a hoodie moving to cover a majority of each digit. Though his large orbs, almost inhumanly so, scanned a menu presented for all to see, a decision had been made long before his converse-clad foot ever moved past the threshold at Café Yuki.

Gently running his dainty fingers through strands of silken, black hair, Artemis shifted towards the counter where his svelte shape made itself comfortable. ”What if I said no?” An androganous and accented tone traced a path through Artemis’ pale lips, the boy’s gaze landing on a barista he would whole-heartedly consider a master of the art.

“I wouldn’t believe you,” a smirk bridged across the young woman’s face, a row of pearly whites revealing themselves, in response. She was an attractive prospect, something which none could deny, but Artemis still recalled the many midnight conversations held beneath a starlit sky. She had claimed that her love was confiscated by the café, an establishment named after her by a father now passed.

”Bad way to treat your customers, mein freund. Artemis offered, before finding a hand playfully ruffling his already unkempt hair. ”That’s assault,” the boy joked, affording his acquaintance a grin. However, little more than a shake of his head was required to return those strands to where they had been before such an unforgivable intrusion.

“You have an unpaid tab, kiddo’,” Yuki retorded, shaking her finger in disapproval. Though, the wink she spared dispelled any notion of seriousness following her statement. “Until you pay it, you’ve lost your customer respect privileges.”

”It’s been a slow week,” the young marksman returned, lowering himself to a barstool which easily carried his weightless frame.

“Oh yeah, at that ‘job’ you’ve got that you can’t tell me about,” the barista smirked, crossing her arms.

”I told you,” Artemis spoke, his feet gently swaying by the bottom of his chair, ”I’m a cleaner.” It wasn’t the most creative blanket to drape over the word ‘assassin’, but his general appearance was usually enough to invalidate suspicion. It was, after all, a double edged sword. However, if there were advantages to be taken, Artemis would not let them linger.

“Unless you’re a highschool dropout, being a cleaner at your age sounds pretty unlikely, Arty,” Yuki rubbed her chin, scrutinizing the boy in front of her. What she truly knew about her mysterious customer could be summarized by his name, and interests. Yes, Artemis had confessed his love for singing, which was a one and only. However, despite countless pleas, he had yet bless her with a melody.

”Who says I’m not?” The boy grinned, watching how his hot chocolate was being prepared by Yuki who displayed enough benevolence as to disregard his tab, which was still growing. Artemis was likely the only individual in Mahoukyo proudly branded by a tab raked with hot chocolate.

“Your vocabulary,” came a perceptive response from Yuki, as she slid the boy’s drink towards him. It was an unexpected approached, but one which caused Artemis to raise an eyebrow, followed by a soft chuckle. “Oh, and..,” she snapped her fingers, “the fact that you’re a part of Rikimaru.”

”If I wasn’t,” the assassin sipped his drink, ”you’d never get paid.”

“And we wouldn’t play the guessing game, every time you’re here,” Yuki mused. “A Rikimaru ‘cleaner’. You know what that sounds like, right?”

”Bad decisions?” Artemis finished, earning a string of laughter from the barista. What was going through her mind was true, of course, but the notion was ridiculous enough to brush over. Mahoukyo city in a nutshell, some would say. Nothing was as it appeared to be, and Yuki could likely connect more dots than she cared to. The boy’s elusive age, his vague remarks, and hidden past. Though, one could not blame her for appreciating the mystery.

“So, tell me,” Yuki derailed the subject to something else, entirely. “What’s it like in Europe? You never told me about your..,” she playfully wiggled her fingers, “exotic country.”

”Less bowing,” the boy smirked, his slender, dainty fingers gently tapping on the surface of his hot drink. ”But more sausages. I do miss sausages,” came a small sigh, though it was quite difficult to deduce its authenticity.

“What an invigorating explanation,” Yuki chuckled, leaning forward to flick her regular customer on the forehead. Artemis rubbed the spot, but what had been a stinging sensation quickly faded into obscurity. He would be lying if he claimed that these moments weren’t precious, for him. Despite often visiting Café Yuki, they were quite rare, and in his line of work, comfort through interaction was all the more unique.

”Alright, Yuki. I have a cleaner meeting to attend,” Artemis winked, taking a last sip of his drink. ”We have to discuss the new mops, see.”

Another flick bounced against the boy’s forehead. “Oh yeah, tell me about those mops so I can get one and wipe your mouth with it,” Yuki chuckled, before ruffling her customer’s hair a second time.

Their ‘farewells’ did not linger, and with a small wave, Artemis started on a path out of one cafe and eventually into another. As much as Artemis enjoyed the ‘fun house’ beneath his faction’s cafe, he would rather bring his business elsewhere. As one might have expected, the Rikimaru were quite rowdy. Even so, Artemis knew where his allegiances lay, and after an admittedly refreshing walk, he proceeded to find himself where his rifle called home. ”Guten tag, the assassin spoke, soon after he pushed open a path to the underground section of Rikimaru’s esteemed café. ”Are we prepared to discuss Null Time?” Artemis finished, dropping down on a bean sack with a gentle stretch.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Kestrel
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Kestrel

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ZEKE


When he closed his eyes, he could already smell it. The contents of his pockets rattled in rhythm with each of Zeke’s jittery steps. The next ingredient would soon be at his fingertips, he could not help but smile, hum and skip the occasional step.

Evening was about to set, as the last of the sun’s shine krept over Mahoukyo’s buildings. The city’s streets filled with white collars returning home to trade their desks for dinner tables. Some headed home. Others headed towards the cafes where work was just now ramping up. Zeke found himself going in the same direction, the street lead into a road littered with food stalls. Each aroma attempting to grab the crowds by their noses, but one in specific caught Zeke’s attention.

“Excellent balance as usual, Kinzo-san.” He nodded at a white-haired stall owner immersed stirring and seasoning his noodle soups.

“Compliments don’t pay my bills, O’Brien,” The old man didn’t bother to look up or pull a single muscle in his face. “A patronage, now that would be a better way to pay your respects.”

“Ah, such bitterness. Make sure it doesn’t spill in the soup.” Zeke leaned his elbows into the stall’s bar. “You know I would if I weren’t on the clock.”

Kinzo’s decor hardly stood out. The once scarlet paint had faded off the wood, the name on the sail was lettered in what Zeke liked to call the comic sans of katakana. Most of his clientele was similarly old-fashioned, or loyal as Kinzo himself preferred. One of whom, an elderly lady about half Zeke’s height, unabashedly giggled as two exchanged banter.

“That boss of yours still lets you work in that kind of get-up?” Kinzo lifted a single brow, briefly glaring at Zeke’s loose-fitting outfit.

“The boss cares about results, not appearance. Much the same as yourself, in that regard.” Zeke gestured at the yatai’s neglected paint job. “It is not just the stomach you feed, Kinzo, you would do well to serve the eyes a little something as well. Maybe put your granddaughter in front to take the orders, yes? She has just the right smile to make this place popular.”

“She’s busy with school.” Kinzo sighed. “School and the clarinet. She hardly has the time to help out these days - and I can smile plenty charming myself. Ask Kana over here.” Kinzo’s permanent frown lifted into a toothless grin, inelegantly framed with droopy skin. The elderly lady’s giggle burst into a hysterical laughter.

Zeke too, had to wipe a tear from his eyes. “Be careful, friend, you might scare away even your most loyal customers.”

“Keep your criticisms to yourself, O’Brien.” Kinzo retorted, his cheeks flushed brighter than the color of his stall. “Or I’ll have you pay double for the next meal.”

“A thousand apologies.” Zeke wiped the smirk from his face. In the same movement, he pushed himself upright to make ready to leave. ”I’ll let you get back to it.” Zeke tipped his hat at the old owner and then his customer. “I might even swing back tonight for that patronage.”

“Takoyaki, extra spicy. Don’t make it too late.” Kinzo replied solemnly, as if he had rehearsed that line.

Zeke nodded. ”You know it, friend.”

With the scents of the Yatai markets trailing behind him, Zeke continued to his destination. A modest cafe owned by the boss who cared more about results than appearances. With a tip of his hat towards the bartender as he entered, Zeke quickly found himself down the stairs to Gang 13’s actual meeting place.

“Dunkas, looking out for the lady as usual?” Zeke first greeted the large man down the stairs with a modest if sly smile. ”Do button up, please.” He traced the yojimbo’s inked skulls in the air in front of him, ”Us Rikimaru folk are not well-known for our… Self-control, after all.”

Lingering for not a moment, Zeke stepped into the room, ”Whina, radiant, as ever. Is that blouse new?” He asked the Rikimaru heir, before seating himself on a beanbag next to Artemis. ”It contrasts beautifully with your hair.”
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Jangel13
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Jangel13 The angel of fortune

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Dunkas Marcos


Dunkas had spent most of his day like everyday following the heads daughter Whina. Today was a day where she would be going out with her friends. As a result Dunkas made sure to make himself look better then usual. At least he tried to but the fact was he was still a giant following teenagers so he was a sight wherever he went. He closed up his shirt and only took his brass knuckles in his pockets aside from his phone and wallet of course. He took a shower before he got breakfast all done by the time she woke up. Dunkas took his job seriously and wouldn't allow any harm to come to her.

His mission was from the head himself and it was to safeguard his granddaughter it was mainly to protect Whina and just keep an eye on the crazy one. He went through the day making sure to keep quiet and keep a respectable distance from her so she could have some semblance of a private life. He didn't want to upset her and ruin her day. He did care for her feelings of course, he wasn't made of stone (despite what rumors form for the contrary). When she got the call he did as well and once they were on their way to the meeting place he unbottoned his shirt once more and felt ready to add more skulls to his ever growing collection.

He went with her downstairs giving a simple nod to the owner as they went to the secret area meant for the 13th. He stood against the wall close to her as he crossed his arms and waited. The first one to come was their resident assassin. One would never assume someone that looked like a kid to be a killer and aside from his skills with guns it meant he was the perfect assassin. He simply gave a nod to him as he said his greeting. Next was the bloodhound who he remembered to be Zeke. When he asked Dunkas to button up he said "pull your pants up and I might consider it" he said since he still didn't understand why he dressed like that. At least Dunkas wore normal cloths, albeit informally.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Not Fungus
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Not Fungus

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Elliot Silber


A young man clad in red was sitting on top one of the higher buildings in the city, gracing him with a nice overview of the entire area. As of right now, he was having an internal war with two thoughts raging for supremacy over the other. The two thoughts were separated into "to go" or "not to go" to the scheduled meeting. His boss may or may not show up, which is point not to go. There's also the issue that he felt that he's caused a bit too much trouble in the family for them to be comfortable with him skipping the meetings, which is a point to go.

So, even though his fun little romp throughout the city searching for a certain serial killer is being cut short today, he won't be that annoyed. He'll just show up for the meeting, listen to orders, follow them, and return to his search. All he needs to do is drown and sink everything in his flames.

He really doesn't want to go, so he did the opposite of how he felt and leaped off the building onto a railing. He jumped right off of it onto the ground where a lot of people saw him. He ignored their piercing gazes replete shock and recognition while he stuffed his hands in his pockets and trailed to a certain location.

Those people, trying to maintain their ordinary lives, were once again graced by something that forcefully opened their eyes, scrubbed their ears clean, and wiped their nose. Elliot had only one thing to ask these people.

"Are you guys still not used to me doing this?" Yes, Elliot is someone who's quite well known in this city for causing ruckuses from minor to major wherever he is. He can't sit still without doing at least one troublesome action a day. Upon hearing those words, the people sighed and put back on the thin veneer of normality covering their vision. The young man almost wanted to laugh in amusement.

He really loves this city and everyone in it. Too bad he couldn't keep entertaining himself like this. Places to go, people to meet and all that jazz.

The further he went along to his destination, the more the lovable crowd started to thin out. He was beginning to approach the meeting place, that amazing cafe owned by the wonderful Rikimaru Family. He can't even begin to thank the Rikimaru family for accepting a battle-loving person like him. There's so many people to understand in the family that he can't get enough of it. While there are still some people he hasn't faced in a one-on-one battle yet, he aims to fight them all.

The life-threatening ones are the best after all. With that thought leaving his mind, he reached the cafe, opened the door and waved at some of the people in the cafe.

"Yo guys, what's going on?" He grinned at them rolling their eyes at him. Though they looked a bit annoyed they still sent him greetings.

"Nothing much except reluctantly greeting a cursed star." Now he couldn't hold back any guffaws at that. Pretty ironic that they of all people were calling him that.

"Look who's talking troublemakers. Heh, anyways I gotta go down for a meeting. I'll catch you crazies later." He can hear the "pot meet kettle" vibes radiating from their mind. He had a wide smile and hopeful eyes as he went down towards the basement and opened the door, only to feel disappointed that Frieda didn't show up.

He then saw someone that filled him with even more disappointment. The normal sheep of the Rikimaru family who's just oh so boring. He doesn't disregard her and he still possesses the desire to fight her, but he feels that she wouldn't even get his engine running. He sighed, ignored her, and took a seat right next Artemis.

Well at least there's a more interesting person taking up his attention today. "Dunkas, you up for that match yet? No excuses this time, I'm really feeling in the mood and you're one of the few I haven't fought yet."

The only way for him to understand others and the only way for him to build a connection. This guy doesn't see the meaning of "pointless fights" though, which confuses Elliot because there's no such thing as a pointless fight in his world.

He might as well respond to the big boss's granddaughter though, fore he gets another heavy sparring day. He actually likes those days, but sometimes a break is nice.

"So, what's up honorable granddaughter?" A grin was all Elliot Silber gave.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by AdmrlStalfos19
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AdmrlStalfos19 Undead. Not Updated

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"Journal Entry 5735," Saori Akasura mused to herself as she jotted down some notes from the experiments she was conducting, "Still having issues isolating the gene responsible for aging the test subject. Will no doubt require further testing. May even require a new approach entirely. Perhaps Whina can make a device that will make this process easier..."

With that, she put the notebook she was writing in and the pen she was using in an inside pocket in her lab coat, and took off the blue gloves that she usually wore before conducting her experiments. Saori wanted to keep going with the experiment in isolating the right gene, believing herself to be so close to successfully doing so. But if the text message she received which told her to meet with everyone else was to be taken at face value, apparently it was urgent. So she left her little lab, without bothering to change her clothes.

Unlike everyone else, who would've likely had to descend a flight of stairs to get to their usual meeting place, Saori instead had to ascend a completely different flight of stairs. It was rather convenient having an underground laboratory so close to the usual place of business. However, with convenience came laziness on Saori's part. She arrived with a huge blood stain on the black sleeveless top she typically wore underneath her lab coat, with more blood evidently having splattered onto the lab coat itself as well as her trousers. It looked as though everyone was here; even the giant meathead that was Dunkas Marcos had arrived. Saori merely lent her ears for the most part, not really wanting to partake in any discussion. It was something that Artemis said, however, that got Saori talking.

"Are we prepared to discuss Null Time?"

"Zero Time," she corrected him nonchalantly, "And quite frankly, I don't see the point in all this "Soul Essence" business. We have the answers right there in science. If it were up to me, I'd never set foot in that accursed Zero Ti-...!"

She paused mid-rant for the slightest few seconds, and then an epiphany hit her.

"Actually, I take that back. Those monsters that show up could prove useful to my research..."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Bartimaeus
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Onassis Daisuke
Location: Church of St. Aarya


There was a brief moment of silence after a heavy, iron-y clunk sound emanated from one of the hall’s several ancient-looking oak doors. It was only a short second later that the sound of old pieces of warping iron signaled the rotation of the door’s hinges, and a man in black clerical attire made his egress into the hall, pushing the thick oak to the side. The portal soon enough found itself coming to a close again, the oak thumping against the frame and the lock mechanism jostling in place as a dark-scaled glove rested against its equally as dark surface.

Father Onassis Daisuke turned to greet the rest of the ornate hall with his eyes - the hall greeting him in return with the warm bathing light of candles, and the soft aroma of various incense. He began his traversal down the hall, the tapping of his black leather shoes reverberating off the hard white tile as he shifted the manilla envelope and several documents he held between the ungloved fingers of his right hand. The father, despite how many times he’d walked these halls, always found the decor so beautiful. Whereas the floor was white, the walls were beige. This beige stretched across the entirety of the church’s innards, all the way up to the arched ceilings - the trim upon arches or around the bases of pillars a similar milkwhite to the floor, the orange bathing glow of candles making the place feel.. homey, to the priest. It made him feel warm, and as silly as it may sound to some, at peace. But he didn’t attribute that simply to the decor.

Where there were windows, a diffused, rosy light poured into the church, overpowering that of the candles and offering its own unique spots of tinted vision. But of course, natural light was not the only source of sight within the church - the stage of sorts where the reverends would preach was well lit fluorescently. As was the eastern wing of the church - where Onassis now found himself - which was where most of the legal work of the church was processed.

The priest found himself passing several doors, most being less ancient-looking than the thick oak one through which he had entered, until he approached one that read “Treasurer” upon a plaque. He let himself in, grasping the circular knob with his gloved hand and slipping into the room.

He was greeted by the sight of two men - one of whom looked to be in his late twenties, sitting at a desk with a pair of reading glasses on, penning away at some documents. The other was a fellow priest, an older man.

Onassis greeted them both with a smile and a nod, brandishing the documents in his hand. “Good evening, Father Tukani -- Mr. Unnamura.”

“Hello Father.” They replied, almost in unison.

Onassis stepped up to the younger man’s desk, gesturing towards the documents before dropping them lightly onto it. “I’ve got some donations here to be filed - Ms. Rikimura, Mr. Takiagata, a few others as well.”

“Very well. It’s good to see the residents of Mahoukyo are still so generous, even for an older congregation.” Mr. Unnamura, the Treasurer, responded.

“Indeed, Indeed.” Onassis agreed, nodding his head with a look of pleasure upon his features. It really was a delight, the generosity of those who donate. The church would be little more than a dilapidated corpse of a building if not for the maintenance funds provided by those who attended. “So, what are you men up to this evening?” He inquired, stepping back from the desk and leaning against one of the treasurer’s several bookcases.

The older priest spoke up now. “Aha, how kind of you to ask, young friend. My wife and I are going to have an outing this evening - a small group gathering. Actually, would you be interested in coming? I think you’d quite like it!” The man rattled on. He ended with an expectant look towards his younger counterpart.

Onassis allowed a small frown to befall his face, before making a gesture with his hand to the large clock sitting on the other end of the room. “While that does sound like a lovely event, I must apologize - I have prior commitments. A public health meeting, you could say.” He responded. His frown didn't last for long though, and a neutral yet pleasant look returned. “Although, I will definitely take you up on any other offers I have time for. But as of now-“ he continued, looking to the clock once again, “-I think I’ll need to be heading out soon - the meeting won’t wait.”

The two other men nodded to him, the both of them offering a smile and bidding the young reverend a farewell.

“Have a good evening, gentlemen.” He said, before the door closed with a slight click, back into its normal position.
- - - - -

Some time later, Reverend Onassis found himself in a warehouse, peering into a doorway that seemed slightly out of place. He soon entered nonetheless, his footsteps echoing out throughout the quite structure. He was soon relieved at the sight of Maylis and two men, one of whom he’d known to be her body guard, the other another member of the Isamu family under her.

“It is great to see you once again, Madam Maylis.” Nass greeted with a shallow bow and a smile, before nodding to the two other men in turn. “Mr. Rose - Mr. Dieter.”

Being as it would appear he was the first arrival, besides the three - assuming that there were more to come - the reverend found himself a seat nearby.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Killy
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Takuto




‘It’s a go. Meet at the usual, 1800 hours.’

Takuto still hadn't gotten used to suddenly hear a voice on his head, it startled for a moment, which in consequence caused the grip of the cup he was holding to break from the rest of the cup, splashing its contents to the floor and the cup itself breaking into lots of tiny pieces. He just looked at the mess for a while, before pinching his nose and deciding to get ready for the meeting, he would clean it up when he returned. It was such a bothersome power, even with practice he was just able to suppress it for a while, and even that still was an unreliable method.

He always went with a formal suit to the meetings, it put him in a more professional mindset to deal with the strange sort of stuff that lurked in zero time, not to mention it also looked nice. He decided to take the stairs as he descended from his apartment, he still wasn't in the right mindset to not worry about entering an elevator and turning it into a coffin for him and those who were with him. And looking on the positive side, going down five floors using the stairs must be helping his physical form.

Takuto still had plenty of time to arrive at the meeting, so he decided to take it easy and walk to their usual place, there was no need to rush. As he walked through the streets of Mahokyuo he blended with salarymen going to their own meetings, he wondered if one of them had won the magical lottery like him and just needed a little spark to awaken it.

Once he finally arrived he pulled out his keycard and entered the building, looking at his clock he was still fifteen minutes early, so he might actually have arrived before anyone else. He peeked over at the meeting room to see if someone else had arrived and noticed Hector. Well, that was to be expected, knowing him he might have already arrived before he sends them the message. "I'm here" Takuto said nonchalantly as he slowly entered the room and grabbed a seat. Hopefully today's task wouldn't be too much of a hassle.
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JANA & KIZUNA


With one towel still wrapped around her hair and the other around her torso, Jana stepped into the changing room. It was difficult for her to tell if her heart was still pounding from the treadmill challenge earlier, or the fact she’d just beaten her personal best. She grinned from ear to ear and a soft cyan hue radiated from her cheeks.

The room was empty, save for Jana and some strung up clothes. Jana could tell from the steam rising from the shower stalls that Kizuna was taking her sweet time. She could hardly blame the girl, the gym’s large glass windows had cradled a perpetual noon temperature. Still, the alert on Jana’s phone must have been meant for both of them. Kizuna and Jana were on standby today and a message from the boss could only mean one thing.

“Hurry up Ki, Hector’s waiting” Jana called out to the one occupied shower tall. “I don’t want to get scolded again.”

Kizuna casually came out from the showers. “You could speed up by giving me my towel, please and thank you.” Kizuna hid a smile, but its genuinity caught Jana's attention. She did as her friend asked and tossed her the towel on her head.

“Well aren't you a bold one? Hector literally lives up to interrupting comfort, which reminds me, we would have met him earlier if you didn't make that stupid bet!" Kizuna referred to the earlier treadmill challenge. “You must really like amassing lectures from Hector, even from me.”

“Not as much as I enjoy leaving you in my dust.” Jana snickered, though the boldness of those words was accompanied by an even brighter blush. Jana had outrun Kizuna on the treadmill and between the two of them, most exercises were a contest. This time, the stakes had been their towels. A trail of water and soap followed the usually composed and elegant Kizuna from the stalls to the middle of the changing room. The smile suggested Kizuna took the punishment game in stride, but Jana knew that was only so long this information stayed between the two of them. A word to their superiors and Kizuna would have her head.

The evening hadn’t set in yet, but her phone warned Jana 17:53 was dangerously close to it. The streets grew more crowded by the minute and Jana’s heart began pounding for a completely different reason. “I don’t think we’re going to make it if we have to make it past all these people.” Jana pulled on Kizuna’s coat. “But I know a way around.”

Jana led Kizuna around the corner, into an alleyway that ended next to a storage place fenced off with mesh. The gate was closed off and the fence was topped off with barbed wires, but there were a few empty crates lying around and the building on the other side was less than a meter away.

Jana let go of Kizuna’s coat to take a few steps back. She took a deep breath, lining up her vision with her path. Jana sprinted up, using her momentum to leap onto the first box. The next step she pushed herself off towards the second, then off onto the wall. Her sneakers kicked off against it - and as she pulled up her knees, Jana barely scraped over the fence before landing with a roll.

“See, easy as one-two-three.” Jana puffed, as she knew stunts like that after her work-out would come to bite her in the morning. She dusted the dirt off the back of her coat then pointed towards a ladder. “Come on Ki, we can skip a few streets if we take the scenic route.”

Kizuna sighed and rolled her eyes, having expressed yet another one of her hidden smiles. “Show-off.” Chains sprouted out of her body and it slapped the ground, causing Kizuna to propel mid-air. There were lesser strongholds to grapple but it didn't hamper her from reaching Jana immediately.

“Easy as negative one-two-three.” Kizuna jabbed at Jana's head-start. There was no time to play around, Kizuna suggested that they should get to their venue in an instant, without drawing the public's attention. She tied her hair ponytail-style, her chains dissipated with platinum glitter. “I need you to cling to me, bridal-fashion.”

“Eh, again?” Jana stammered. This wasn’t the first time they were late. Kizuna’s ability to move with or without standing out was the one magic Jana was most jealous of. Not to mention the way she dismissed them. Even in short bursts, it was as if watching performance art and felt like the kind of show Jana herself didn’t belong in.

“ASAP.” Kizuna emphasised impatiently.

Jana wrapped her arms around Kizuna’s shoulders. In one swoop, the chains took them to their destination. The air pressure coursed alongside their bodies. Jana clutched her grip as the chains pulled them up to the building.

Kizuna announced their landing as if she were their stewardess. Her eyes were filled with concern when she looked down at Jana. “Um, you can let go of me now.” Jana said. Kizuna promptly dropped Jana and looked the other way. Though no stranger to flying, Jana was glad to put her own two feet back on the ground. “Don’t worry, Ki. Look, I’m fine.” Jana jogged in place, trying to pull Kizuna’s eyes from whatever she was so fixated on. “No jetlags here. Now let’s go we just have-” Jana checked her phone. “Four minutes left!”

The two girls hurried across the rooftops, jumping and slinging their respective ways across the city of Mahoukyo. Without the roads and the people in them to be worried about, Jana and Kizuna soon found themselves in the Akechi district. With a little more help from Kizuna’s chains, the two touched the pavement right in front of the Akechi residence.

“We're here and we're not late. Let's go meet Hector.” As she let go of Jana once more.

“Just by a minute.” Jana sighed of relief before putting her phone back in her pocket. She hurried to the door, ID card already in hand as to satisfy the security system.

“By the way, you felt soft.”

In her rush, Jana didn’t hear what Kizuna was saying. “Come on.” Jana prompted as she held open the door. Kizuna hesitated, but soon followed suit, though once more her eyes attached themselves to ambiguous points in the distance.

The Akechi had installed safety measures in the forms of guards in addition to doors. Passing the reception, the guard acknowledged Kizuna with a short bow. “Welcome back, miss Enichi.” The guard spoke formally. The outer residence was, of course, Kizuna’s family’s residence. Jana flashed her card at the man, she merely received a stiff nod.

The meeting room was on the ground floor and despite Kizuna’s protests, “Not so fast.” Jana blitzed through the outer residence’ corridors. The door to the meeting room was left open and before she’d even put her first foot in the room, her eyes darted to the clock on the wall.

“... 17:55...” She muttered, the strips of cyan glow quickly returning to her cheekbones. Jana checked her phone, which clearly read 6 ‘o clock. There were just two other notifications: “This device’ date and time are no longer in sync with the network-provided time.” and “PrelimaryCorrection.exe (as written by H. Johnson) has been successfully installed and executed.”

“Hector, you’re kidding me...” Jana whispered to herself, her eyes still glued to the display. “Again?”
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Polaris North
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Maya Dozier

Current contractor: Akechi family
Location: Akechi Meeting Area


"Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal."

Her relationship with her father was a good one, but it also subjected Maya to a lot of her father's warnings. As a mercenary, she had no assurances that she would have any allies. She would have temporary ones during Zero Time, especially when she would take up a contract with one of the families. When she doesn't get a contract, it would usually end up with flimsy alliances with other independent mages who may or may not stab her in the back.

Her father was only making sure that she held everything with the utmost care because he claimed that he wouldn't be able to stomach it if he lost any of his children. With how he was in the past, Maya honestly highly doubted that. You just stand up, accept and walk away. Nevertheless, the thought from her father was appreciated. It was nice to feel someone worried about her wellbeing - but she could never give any promises of coming back alive.

Such were the risks of Zero Time.

Her current contractors were the Akechi family. She had found herself working for the stingy family for quite a while now due to their professionalism. To them, a contract was a contract and nothing more. No loose ends. Her job was to aid in a squad's fight inside Zero Time and that was it. There was nothing else she needed to know and nothing else she needed to do.

Wasting no time as she leaped out of the top floor of the Dozier household, she placed her board under her feet and began to glide across the air with little to no resistance. She looked downwards to watch the stragglers rush back to their homes. While it wasn't a common occurrence, there were still civilians who should not have access to Zero Time and yet still find themselves lost within it. Hopefully, there was none of that this time around. She can't afford to get distracted.

She dismounted her board once she was close to the building, strapping it back to its position as she readied her temporary card which gave her very limited access of the building before her. The guard had stiffly pointed her in the right direction - it wasn't her first time there - and she made her way down to the meeting room. If she strayed any further than her current path, she was rather sure that the family would not take kindly to it and she would doubt that she would be able to leave this place alive if she snooped around. Besides, there weren't many interesting things in there, as far as she was concerned at least.

It seemed like she had just arrived in the nick of time as the squad had assembled themselves. As per usual, Maya positioned herself close to the wall where she was awaiting her orders.
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OwO what's this?

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An empty book, a needle, a cork, a glass of water, and a lock of her own hair. The objects had been carefully arranged over an empty chalk circle. Needle on the cork in the glass, empty book adjacent, and hair in the water. The shrouded figure drew deft shapes and lines. The complexity of the circle only increased as time went on. Despite the speed that the figure moved at, each stroke was calculated and skillful as if commanded by a millennia of experience. Once finished with the inner circle, incomprehensible symbols filled the outside. To most, they looked like irregular lines recklessly scrawled by a child. After the circle was filled, the woman rose from her hands and knees to marvel at her work.

"Good enough," her tired, raspy voice rang out to no one. She carelessly tossed the chalk away, it fading into smoke before vanishing from sight. The markings began to glow, almost humming with an otherworldly energy. The needle began to spin. First, it was slow as it rebounded from side to side looking for its target. Each bounce increased in frequency. Suddenly, it stopped. Was it the right direction? Before she could check, the blasted off from the cork it was resting on, flying through the air before impaling a copy of Isekai Princess Lovers: Can Love Bloom After You Are Reincarnated?

It wasn't really going to be that easy, huh? No matter how she wrote the circle, no matter how many rules she injected for the spell to function, it never quite pointed in the direction of one of her grimoires. It always pointed to something else. Though, flying off and impaling her shoujo manga was a new one. With a great sigh, Ruru rubbed out a small portion of the circle with her thumb. Like the chalk, the markings turned to smoke and faded away.

If she had one of her grimoires, she could easily chain her searches to find the others. Getting that first one was always the biggest problem. Who knew what sort of abhorrent fuckery was in the process because of those tomes? Someone could be trying to go all Báthory with the knowledge contained in one of them. No, blood transfusions like that were for insane billionaires and bug chasers. The secrets to her immortality were locked pretty tight in between all of the other inane trite, thankfully. Plus, the chances that someone could actually read what was held in those books were slim to none. There was even a good chance that some normie would have bought it at a yard sale and used it as a coffee table book.

Grabbing the cup of her hair (more of a mug, really) and doing her best not to gag at the sight of it, she entered her washroom, dumped it in the toilet, and flushed it down the drain. The modern times were definitely great; one could flush all of their problems away for someone else to deal with.

As much as she wanted to, she couldn't spend the entirety of the the night shitposting and playing her video games. No, the overwhelming sense of responsibility (if you could call it that) she possessed forced her to continue her search. Maybe if she had the right materials, the could be improved. Condensed soul essence always made for a great source of energy. Maybe some shmuck in zero time would have one of her artifacts. Who knew? The only thing she knew was that she'd have to enter that bothersome place instead of watching fine 90's cinema.

But first, preparations. Equipping herself with a fanny pack full of her magic sticks and a thermos of hot water, she left her small apartment to raid a local convenience store for supplies.

Mostly instant coffee, which she ran out of.

But supplies nonetheless.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Polaris North
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Rena Kirizaki

Current form: Cat -> Human
Location: Isamu Warehouse


Rena had only dreamed of it before - the freedom she now had. All those years spent inside the facility with only vague pictures and descriptions of the world outside... it paled in comparison to the real thing. But she still remembered what they had told her and Rinishi. Even if they had kept them in isolation for most of their life, they made sure to tell them all about the dangers of the outside world for when they were going to be "released". And she supposed that there was truth in their warnings.

Though in the two months that she and Rinishi had been living, Rena learned where she could and could not go. Rinishi also learned to hide some of his features. People tend to stare. Rena wasn't surprised, but it certainly wasn't a nice feeling. So she made a point to use her animal form when she wanted to get from one place to another without much bother.

She learned that a cat was the least likely to garner attention aside from the select few people who would stop to coo at her or shoo her away as they often think she's asking for food. Generally, however, they leave her alone. So she had come to prefer the feline form, though she did miss her vulpine form.

The feline wove her way through the crowds of Mahoukyo. Rena had just wanted to stretch her legs a bit and maybe get some food or money in the process and she did manage to snag a fish and some loose coins that had fallen onto the ground. There were still a few things she and Rinishi had so it's not like they were starving. Their work with Isamu during Zero Time earned a few wads of cash to be able to spend on their necessities and their wants. Still, it wasn't a bad thing to think about saving up whatever they can just in case one of them gets called out of commission.

She transformed back when she reached the warehouse. "Hey Rin." She called out, knowing fully well that if he was around, he'd be able to hear even if she didn't shout. "We need to get to the warehouse for the briefing. Let's go."

--

It wasn't like the warehouse was too far from where they had made temporary residence, thankfully enough. Getting there also didn't have to involve delving into thick crowds. To be fair, things weren't as busy during this time of the day but she'd really rather stick to the alleys where there are fewer people who use it. Of course, there was the occasional sleaze but it could be remedied by a simple change of appearance.

When she entered with Rinishi, she managed to recognize the three important people in Isamu - Maylis, Alister and Dieter. As far as she knew, they all played a key part in breaking into their facility so she gave them the benefit of the doubt. That for now, they wouldn't do them any harm. But it was still worrying, nonetheless. You couldn't be too careful. From what the scientists have claimed, younger Rena was gullible enough to trust a kind man. She can't afford to make the same mistake, for Rinishi's sake too.

"Fighting again eh? What is it this time? Squads? Maylis trying to do something stupid?" As per usual, she doesn't quite clearly understand that these three held a power above hers. Or technically, she did understand it but simply chose to ignore it because she was not going back to putting someone back onto a pestedal to control your every movement.

@Bartimaeus @Lunarlord34
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Artemis was the first to arrive of the gang, soon followed by Zeke, Elliot, and Saori. Though the latter came from further below, where her lab connected to their little gathering room, she hadn’t even bothered to change out of her blood-stained clothes, not that Whina seemed to notice or mind. As the others had filed in, her mopey mood seemed to switch to much more of an energetic and friendly one as she greeted each gang member in turn, though when she turned to Zeke her eyes resembled more that of sparklers. A series of happy nodding was directed at Zeke for his comments, she had thought so too!

“I know right? I got it last week and at the price it was, I knew I just had to have it. There was also a really nice red...uh suppose that’s not relevant huh?” She caught herself mid-rant as a sheepish look crossed the girl’s face.

“Zero Time, Null Time. Same same yeah?” This time she looked to Saori and Artemis, giving the older woman a blank look at what she said. To be perfectly honest, Whina felt very much the same about Zero Time…

Like, what was the point of this all? The vessels emptied faster than anyone could fill them...it seemed rather silly to believe in this absurd legend right?

“For your...research? How would they help?” She hadn’t the foggiest what Saori really did, to be honest, all the science went in one ear and out the other. But it seemed important at any rate, so she lent her a hand whenever the girl could, honestly just trying to follow the instructions given as closely as possible to avoid messing anything up.

“I uh...guess you can take some? Assuming they don’t break apart or anything. But anyway, it seems everyone who’s coming is here...so uh.” Clapping her hands together, the girl looked away for a moment before looking down at her lap. Then her attention turned to the table in front of her. What exactly was the problem at hand? Well, that was easy. The ditz had forgotten the brief she had been given from her grandfather on the way here.

And she remembered where she had left it too. In the back of the taxi they had taken to get here….

“Um...Well, I guess if everyone’s here and ready to go then we don’t have a moment to lose yeah? Don’t want the other families to jump the gun on us! Hahaha...ha ....” This was normally the part where she was to give a quick run-down on what they had gleaned from this Zero Time event, however, seeing as she had forgotten the briefing...well she had as much knowledge as the rest of them. Lovely.

Scrambling through a small leather purse now, she pulled out a small pouch with a rock tied around it. Pocketing the pouch, she got up a little too quickly now and nearly tripped over the table, but caught herself. Gah, how could today get any worse….



As the first member of his team, Takuto, entered the room, he looked up from the papers he was perusing before glancing down at his watch. “15 minutes early? Very good Takuto. I wish the others were as punctual as yourself.” Praise, a rare thing indeed from a man that desired perfection. While he wouldn’t say 15 minutes early was overly praiseworthy, considering the other's tendencies...this really was the best he could hope for from any of them.

Hector said nothing else now as he went back to reading the intelligence for perhaps the fifth time it was by now. Cross-checking and confirming he understood what was written. Because if he was...this was rather peculiar.

About five minutes later, another person strolled into the room. It wasn’t Jana or Kizuna, nor was it Maya. It was indeed a man with dark hair and piercing onyx eyes, even more so with his glasses seeming to enhance his gaze that seemed to see straight through to your soul.

“Ah Cassius, you’re normally the first here. Mr. Kurokami here has beaten you today, however, which is disappointing. I’m sure you’ll strive to do better next time though.” A strained smile flashed on Hector’s face for a moment as the other man’s gaze fell upon Takuto...oh yeah he was mad with the newer mage. Just how he narrowed his gaze at the man signaled his displeasure.

“I see...that’s unfortunate, I will do better next time so as to not fail your expectations, Mr Johnson.” Not tearing his gaze away from Takuto for a moment, he went and sat down at the chair opposite as they awaited the rest of the team.

Before things could get too awkward however, Jana and Kizuna came almost running in. Jana’s accusing words and looks only made Hector smile slightly. “I haven’t the slightest as to what you’re referring to Ms. Reid. However, it is good to see that you and Ms. Enishi here early for once.” Tapping the paper on the table, he sorted it into a neat pile as Maya snuck in behind the newly arrived duo.

Even so, she didn’t escape Hector’s gaze.

“Ms. Dozier, nice of you to join us. And not a moment to spare at that. I would expect one to be a little earlier to their job, but I suppose I shouldn’t hold mercenaries to such basic standards.” Hector’s smile faded as he turned to the gathered mages. They were still missing a member...however that could wait. She was somewhat of an...exception. As much as Hector hated it.

“Well, it is 1600 on the dot so I suppose it’s time for the run-downs. I do apologize as I must keep this brief, for you see we have a rather...peculiar situation forming.”

With a sigh, Hector removed his glasses, pulling out a cloth from his pocket at the same time as he began to wipe his reading spectacles.

“As you’re already more than well aware, your job will be to enter Zero Time and extract the Soul Essence within. Ms. Dozier here is on to provide support against the monsters that dwell within, so far nothing out of the normal.” Holding up his glasses to inspect them, he seemed overly casual despite mentioning a peculiar situation just before. Though as he went to continue now, his tone took a decidedly darker turn to it.

“However, you see this is where the problems start. A monster has in fact...merged with a Soul Essence vein. Mutating it. We have very little info to go on for this monster, however, bringing it down is our number one objective. If this monster is capable of absorbing Soul Essence...then we must stop it from doing so to the rest of the veins. In the process, we believe we can still gather the Soul Essence it has absorbed so it’s two birds, one stone. This isn’t the only problem, however.” Seeming happy with his glasses, he now threw them over his shoulder before they loudly shattered somewhere else in the room.

Ah, that felt so much better to vent just even a little.

“Reports state there are only seven veins this time, including the one absorbed by the beast. So we must act swiftly if we are to secure the Soul Essence, and each one seems to have...warped the area around them. You’ll understand when you see it, trust me it’s quite the sight.” Pulling on his gloves, he stood up now and nodded.

“There are other...potential issues, however, I believe those are the most pressing matters and most related to us, and unfortunately time is against us so I do not have time to...oh yes, I almost forgot.” Pausing for a moment, he seemed to mentally slap himself for forgetting to mention such a detail. “It seems that the warping within Zero Time has...destabilized it somewhat. Meaning we believe it to last around...half the time it usually does. Hence why we must hurry, so once again I do apologize for not supplying you with sufficient information this time.”

Before he had even finished he had already brought into view a small bracelet, with a series of gemstones dangling from it. “Make final preparations. We go in five.”





“Ah Father Nass, it is good to see you as well...how fares Father Sumernor?” At Nass’s arrival, Maylis turned on her heels to face him with a beaming smile on her face. This meant she turned her back to the two fellows trying to argue with her and began ignoring them, this all causing Alister’s veins to seemingly be trying to burst in front of everyone.

“Lady Maylis...Don’t change the subject. Also, I didn’t hear the door open....does that mean you left it open? Again?” An exasperated sigh escaped the man as Maylis stiffened up for a moment, eyes shiftily moving about.

“Hahaha... don't be crazy Alister! You uh...just couldn’t hear him over your persistent nagging. Yeah, you’re being crazy loud Alister.” It was a terrible effort to cover her tracks, Alister could see right through as he audibly groaned and covered his face.

And she was trying to tell him that she was to be trusted in Zero Time? She couldn’t even be trusted to shut the damn door.

That was when the twins now followed suit, Maylis greeting them with a wide smile as well.

“Oh, it’s nothing Ren, nothing at all. Nothing important at least.” Clasping her hands together, she looked at the three gathered mages then towards the door expectantly. Uh, where was everyone else? Not wanting to make things awkward, and also not wanting to give Dieter or Alister another chance to try and argue with her, she turned to the twins in particular once again.

“So are you and Rin excited to meet your new squad-mates?” Before now, they had kinda floated between squads but Maylis had finally finished preparing a squad for them to join full-time.

Even if she had to form a completely new one as a result.

“Mistress Maylis...this subject is hardly ‘nothing important’. We’re talking about your safety here, and the greater picture of how it affects the Isamu.” Dieter groaned, rubbing his temples as an exasperated sigh left Alister. Why was she like this? Well, Alister knew the reasons why...he knew them all too well in fact.

“And as I keep telling you both, I am more than capable of fending for myself. You both know this and have seen it first-hand, in fact, I’m more capable than the two of you combined. I am going, end of conversation. I will not listen to any more arguments on the matter.” A serious tone crept into her voice, the atmosphere around the trio seeming to grow heavy for a moment as Maylis straightened herself up to stare upwards at the taller men.

“Unless you think you can stop me that is?”
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ZEKE


“Oh, so you did notice.” Deke smirked back at Dunkas. The straight-laced guys were always the most fun. Alas, as Whina began, Zeke knew better than to further engage the Rikimaru bodyguard. He shrugged and turned his attention to Whina, mimicking her sheepish smile as she went on about the blouse, before listening to her rather… brief briefing..

“That’s all, then?” Zeke sighed, dropping his shoulders as Whina forced her laughter. Some days it seemed there was just no helping that girl. At this point, he thought he might as well play along. And so Zeke stood up and clapped his hands together. “Boss certainly has faith in our abilities, if that’s all the intel we get. Very well.”

First, Zeke popped the button on his bag. Under the lid was a small collection of combat knives, sheathed in brightly decorated cases. “Art, would you be a sweetheart?” Zeke took out one of the knives and presented the handle to the young man on the beanbag beside him. “Just the one copy, if you please. In exchange, I’ll prepare some, how do you say… Sauerkraut, when we get back, yes?”

“Of course, if anybody else needs a little bit of my magic touch,” Zeke turned to the rest of the group, as he rubbed some ethereal grains between his thumb and index finger. “- I’m at your service. However...” Zeke’s playful demeanour suddenly shifted, the shade of his cap darkening his visage as he leaned forward and sought eye contact with the blood clad lady from downstairs, Saori. “I have some interests in these monsters of my own, as you’re well aware. I would… Prefer, if we could come to an agreement as to how to distribute the spoils before we go in.”
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Bartimaeus Existential Depravity

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Rinishi Kirizaki
Location: Isamu Meeting Warehouse


Rinishi’s nose crinkled as he opened his eyes to see the rough, gray concrete meet each of his footsteps as he traveled along the sidewalk. He felt the ears under his beanie twitch as he lifted his head to look up into the darkened sky. Unbeknownst to anyone around him, Rin could smell the impending rainfall well before any human - and his second pair of ears could detect the drop in air pressure as well.

The feline-featured boy had half a mind to slow his pace, to enjoy the rainfall that was soon to come - but he couldn’t. He’d recently received a message on his iPod(while leeching WiFi off a cafe) signaling another one of the Isamu clan’s meetings. He’d assumed his sister had received one as well in some fashion - which was honestly the main reason he went to any meetings, because his sister didn’t seem to be averse to the idea. Though, if he had it his way they wouldn’t risk it.

But he’d continue his walk for now, his face turned back to the sidewalk in front of him as he cycled through songs via the iPod that rested in his pocketed left hand.

After a while, he approached the spot where he normally met his sister for these sort of meetings. He heard her call his name even from a ways away. He approached her, offering a short wave as he paused his music and lowered the headphones he wore to his neck. “Hey sis.” he greeted quietly. He followed along with her as she confirmed his suspicions of their destination.

-----

It wasn’t long before the duo reached the usual location. Rin spread his palm out in front of him as the first light drops of rain started to spatter onto the ground. His senses had been right - as usual. He reluctantly followed his sister into the warehouse, his slim, black tail popping out the back of his hoodie to catch just a few more precious drops of water before they were sheltered from the sky.

They soon found the other members of the Isamu family, gathered in a room off the side of a corridor. Rinishi remained quiet as they entered, allowing his sister to be the more talkative one, as normal. He assumed they would be getting briefed shortly, so he switched his iPod off to conserve the freshly charged batteries. He eyes swept the room as he pocketed it, eyeing the three individuals who were normally present when the two arrived - alongside a fourth individual. Being that Rin had never been taught what a priest was until very recently, he found it more than odd that most people he met referred to the man as “Father”, especially since he was too young to father many of then, but it didn’t matter to him. Rin would never call him that.

He did raise an eyebrow when Maylis made the mention of “new squad-mates”, though.



Onassis Daisuke
Location: Isamu Meeting Warehouse


The priest refreshed his smile as the slightly younger woman greeted him kindly, offering a dip of his head. “He is well, madam - I haven’t been able to speak to him much recently - but as I know, he is well.” He replied happily. “It is good to see you and your companions in lively spirits as well.” he finished, falling quiet again as the argumentative discussion sparked once more.

Nass nodded towards the twins as they entered a time later, offering a friendly “Good evening.” to the duo as they came. It seemed to him as though the male of the two seemed somewhat averse to his presence, so he decided not to prod at him whenever they met. He just hoped his friendly exterior would mitigate his caution in due time.
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Dunkas Marcos

@Not Fungus

Dunkas watched as the others started to come into the room and of course one them wanted to take a shot at him. It was of course from Elliot but Dunkas had no desire nor any need to fight him. He may have been trying to goad Dunkas but he was smarter then to take the bait. Dunkas then replied "I have no reason to fight you. I tell you this every time, while I admire your persistence even you should know I won't budge just for you" he said since they all knew that Dunkas was Mr. Immovable wall. He wouldn't change his policy on attacking family members just for entertainment. If he fought he fought to kill because he would protect Whina with his life.

As he watched everyone come in he saw Whina speak up and say that they had to get to work. He then noticed that she had forgotten the briefing her grandfather had given her. Being the observant one of them he obviously saw her forget it in the taxi. He had grabbed it and he didn't bring it up because he was sure she would at least remember some of it to get by. Clearly he was wrong and it almost physically hurt him seeing her mess up like that. He then went over and held her hand he then said "of course ma'am I'm sure everyone here is eager to spill blood against the other families that will no doubt be in zero time with us when we get there. However, don't you think they need a bit more to go on?" before she could glare daggers at him he pulled out the briefing in his jacket pocket. Of course it was rolled up as it wouldn't fit their otherwise but it was perfectly intact aside from that.
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Rena Kirizaki

Current form: Human
Location: Isamu Warehouse


"New squadmates?" Her ears had perked up in curiosity. Because of their unofficial position in the Isamu "family", they'd mostly been assigned to squads that needed help. Rena wasn't complaining if the arrangement meant that they'd have more missions on hand. Everything that they knew was simply fighting the monsters that dwelled in Zero Time so the position wouldn't be too bad.

She turned sharply towards Onassis - the so-called 'Father' or whatever that meant. Much like Rinishi, she didn't quite understand why they had called him that. And Rena didn't really find the need to question it before. She tilted her head downwards, apparently - it was a show of respect? - and then greeted back, "Good evening to you too... Nass." Rena also never got the chance to learn his name since they always just called him 'Father Nass'.

Well, if this was the squad Maylis was talking about, then she imagined she would get to know the man a bit more.

Rena turned back to the three that were continuing their argument but Maylis looked like she was putting an end to it by pulling out her superior card in terms of power. She was the leader of Isamu after all, and Rena imagined she didn't get that position without doing a lot of training and proving her worth.

She crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one leg, waiting for the argument to finish. "As amusing as it sounds for you guys to be fighting with magic and all, time's ticking and I thought you guys wanted to get a jump on the other families to collect soul essence." And really, it was amusing to see them argue over whether Maylis could tag along or not. Butting in was certainly not something a normal person would do, but Rena was nowhere remotely near to what you would call 'normal'. Besides, she wanted to get into some action already.

@Lunarlord34 @Bartimaeus
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AdmrlStalfos19 Undead. Not Updated

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Interactions: Whina Rikimaru @Lunarlord34, Ezekiel Abel O’Brien @Kestrel


"Honestly, there's a decent probability that it doesn't help the project I originally promised your grandfather with in the slightest," Saori told Whina, "That said, there's so much knowledge to be obtained from these arcane creatures that we still sorely lack. If anything, I think it'd be worth looking into them as opposed to constantly chasing this myth."

Saori's eyes drifted down, specifically so she could look at the state of her own clothes.

"In any case, I probably should change before I go out with everyone," she noted, "Just the slightest glance at my direction and those foolish commoners will immediately assume I killed a guy. I'd rather not have the hassle of it all..."

However, she didn't have much of a chance to go anywhere. It was at this time that Ezekiel O'Brien, or Zeke as his name was often shortened to for convenience's sake, had piped up his own interest with the monsters, and proposed the two of them come to an agreement on how exactly to divide the "treasure", so to speak. Saori simply mouthed an 'oh' and raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

"You wouldn't try to carve one up and put it on a plate before I've deduced that they're even safe to eat, would you Zeke?" asked Saori, still trying to fathom what Ezekiel might have wanted from a monster, before debilitating a bit more on his proposal and coming up with an answer, "It's not that I mind sharing, as accurate as I suppose it is, but we'll have to see how many of these creatures we can... procure, for the night. Tell you what; if you were to assist me in capturing and containing them, I'd guarantee that you'll get to keep at least one regardless of the sample size I'd ultimately have to then work with. How does that sound?"
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JANA


Though she knew had been taught in the basics in Zero Time ecology, the casual manner Hector went over the phenomenon almost sent Jana’s head spinning. “Um… Do you think they’re like root aphids?” She whispered to Kizuna, hoping the more experienced between the two could make sense of Hector’s descriptions. “Like the bugs that sucks the sap out of roots.”

Hector’s rushed explanation left Jana with more questions than answers, which was unusual for their squad leader. The moment he grimaced, Jana noticed his jaw muscles tense. Hector’s fleeting expression wasn’t the only ominous foreboding. On his lonesome on the other side of the room sat Warugaki Cassius. Jana could swear he made an active effort to obscure his eyes behind the square frames of his glasses. Between the snake tattoo running up his neck and a near permanent scowl, Cassius gave Jana the creeps.

“Has he been like that all briefing?” Jana asked Takuto, the current fixation of Cassius’ cold glare. Jana kept her voice down as much as possible. She didn’t even make eye-contact as she rummaged through her pockets, searching for her stone. The smooth oval felt soothingly cool in her palm. “Don’t worry about it, he won’t do jack while Hector’s here.”
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