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A moment after they'd arrived on the scene, Mr. Kissinger piped up with a suggestion. And in turn, Selas nodded. "It's not my specialty, but..."

She help up one hand, closing her eyes.

"If these walls be my Lady's demesne
And I her chambermaid,
Then no blemish,
blot,
nor faded tint
Is permitted to slip my gaze."


Something rippled through the air, a gentle wave of power echoing in the wake of her voice. It washed over her coat, and suddenly tiny pinpricks lit up with a faint glow across its fabric, specks of dust and dirt lit up by the spell's effect. As it reached the ground, it highlighted a mosaic of grime, revealing faint smudges where police officers' shoes had left their traces, and outlined the bloodstains in bright orange, down to the tiniest scattered fleck.

That had been Selas' primary goal: if the killer had collected the organs after the murder then they might have left some tiny drop or streak behind, indicating the direction in which they fled. Which could lead to further clues. However, the mage's attention was quickly caught by something else entirely.

There were marks on the walls. Faint enough to be nearly invisible at a glance, but her spell caught them nevertheless, lighting up their edges and clearly revealing their individual shapes.

@KoL@Bartimaeus@VitaVitaAR
As soon as the full party for one of the scenes has posted, I'll update for them! ... I don't think one has but I could be mistaken. ^^;


Me, KoL, and Bartimaeus have all posted for our scene... and IIRC it was just the three of us in that group.
“Uuuuuuuuuuuugggghhhh…”

Tokiko blinked. There was sun streaming through her curtains… how long had she been asleep?

She didn’t remember much from after the training session last night. No, wait… Hikari had complained, and then they’d gone their separate ways. Why couldn’t she be more grateful… Tokiko rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. Whatever. It’s not like I care.

There was… school and stuff going on. Probably. But it didn’t really matter, she didn’t feel like doing anything at all right now, except maybe falling back asleep. Maybe I can just doze off all day and wake up in time for Hex Night…

So she curled up in a comfortable position, and prepared to fall back to sleep.



… Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite so comfortable as she’d first thought. Sighing, she rolled over again, and closed her eyes.





God damn it.

Try as she might, she couldn’t get everything that had happened last night. The excitement, the danger, the thrill of meeting a girl who she sort-of maybe-got-along-with-when-they-weren’t-arguing… She had no choice then. With a loud groan, she sat up and reached for her phone.

*** User MEGA_GENIUS has entered the chat ***

[MEGA_GENIUS]: sup dorks
[MEGA_GENIUS]: anyone get KOd last night or what


While she waited for replies to pop up, she sent out a private message as well.

***Private Message TO User:[Destroyer]
FROM User:[MEGA_GENIUS]***

Hey
You’re Sonya, right?
Did you get ‘em?


@TheFake
[S]: Hey
[S]: You were right
[S]: It /was/ about the Ripper

[N]: When am I ever wrong?

[S]: Rarely, I'll grant
[S]: So. Our boys in blue find anything?

[N]: There's coroner's reports, photos, some trace evidence
[N]: It's unsolved, obviously, but they've been able to identify the bodies

[S]: Good
[S]: Send me the files


***

Selas rejoined Grain and Samuel at the scene, arriving just in time to slip through the police cordon with Dame Blackmore. Once they were past, she strode ahead of the other two, stepping carefully around the chalk outline and frowning down at the bloodstains.

"Sloppy." Her nose wrinkled; there was still a lingering smell in the air. "Medical knowledge or no, this looks more like a butcher's work than a surgeon's."

@KoL@Bartimaeus
Berserker

While Estelle was busy with her bath, Berserker saw to some preparations of her own. After all, if she was to accompany her Master around town by the light of day, she ought to dress the part, no? The clothing she’d been summoned with as a Berserker didn’t fit this era at all, and traveling in spirit form… well, it wasn’t out of the question, but a young girl appearing to wander about unaccompanied might attract undue concern. Whereas if Berserker accompanied her, they would surely pass as mother and daughter. And if Master got scared and wanted someone to hold her hand, or if she tripped up and scraped her knee, or if anything at all were to happen to her, then her gentle mother would be there to make sure everything was all right… Yes, the more Berserker thought about this idea, the more sensible it began to seem!

Whatever the reason for their disappearance, the Varianbec family had left behind an extensive wardrobe to choose from. Which was good, since… well, it took quite some searching to find anything that would properly fit Berserker’s figure. In the end, she settled on an elegant white frilled blouse and a knee-length black skirt, formal and fashionable without being imposing.

By the time Estelle had finished, her Servant was already waiting for her. “Shall we go, Master?”

***

A thousand years since she had died, and halfway across the world; was it any surprise that Redrock was like nothing she’d ever seen before?

A backwater town, but the size of a city. Fresh food and running water, peasants who ate like kings, but all so uncultured. And the architecture, buildings of imposing size piled together without the least bit of elegance! If it came to it, Berserker decided, she would not feel too bad about ruining a few of them…

But right now, the Grail War seemed far away. And in spite of it all (the pungent smells that hung thick in the air, the lingering eyes of passing men), she was beaming with happiness, pleased as a woman could be. Never straying more than an arm’s length from her Master’s side, she peppered the little girl with questions:

“Estelle, what’s that they’re selling there?”

“Do all of these houses fly the flag of their country? Ahh, how loyal…”

“Does your family have a car? I could learn to drive you, if you like.”

And finally, pointing towards a small diner: “Ah, have you eaten in a place like this before?” It smelled dirty, somehow uncouth… but mildly tantalizing, in its own strange way.

@VitaVitaAR
"Mm."

Selas wasted no time in getting to business. With a short nod, she acknowledged her assignment, before rising to her feet and striding straight across the room towards the door.

"No need for that." She swept between Grain and Arinne just as the former addressed the latter. "I'll meet you there, Dame Blackmore. See to it that Mr. Kissinger has a safe trip." And then, without even waiting for a reply, she left.

Were anyone to glance through the doorway immediately afterwards, they might see her slim figure receding into the distance down the hall. It could be assumed, seeing as she was bound by contract, that Selas would indeed be visiting the second crime scene with Grain and Samuel; she just had no intentions of traveling alongside them. Nor, apparently, any need for further specifics on location or timing.

@KoL@Bartimaeus

Zun - Zamindawar International Airport

From the moment they’d gone and cancelled the tournament, Anna had known that everything was gonna go to shit. She just hadn’t expected it to happen so fast.

One moment she was making conversation with a smart young woman and a talking skeleton, the next some dude in a suspicious coat was pulling a gun, and all of a sudden there were bullets flying, shouts ringing out, the chaos she’d predicted all along erupting all around her within the space of a few short seconds.

Man! Seemed like the Nomad community really was as wild as people said!

A part of her wanted to pump her fists with delight at finding herself right at the center of events that would no doubt be playing across worldwide news. Deep down, however, she knew that this was serious. A Nomad brawl breaking out was one thing, but holy hell, that was gunfire, in a crowded airport! Did those guys really have no issue with potentially harming civilians?

Guess that means there’s no need to hold back... If this kind of thing had happened to her a few years ago, Anna might have panicked, but she’d trained for this. Bullets weren’t shit to her now.

With a snap of her fingers, she threw up a magnetic shield in front of her, the first barrage of gunfire pinging off it as if it were a wall of solid steel. A couple of seconds later, it went down, but by then Anna was already on the move.

There was no time to ask about the ‘who’ or ‘why,’ she immediately went on the attack. Moving so fast she was almost a blur, her arms shot out, each one unleashing a crackling bolt of lightning that arced into a nearby terrorist and blew them away. A third enemy leveled a rifle at her, but he moved too slowly; she was on him in an instant with a barrage of quick, sharp punches, each one unleashing sparks of electricity as it made contact.

Already, the hunters were becoming the hunted, as all around her the Nomads came to their senses and began to fight back. The black-clad assailants might’ve had the element of surprise, but none of them were any match for the small army of Ki-powered fighters now unleashing their pent-up fury. Anna moved like a lightning bolt, zipping from one target to another and dispatching them with blinding speed, never giving them time to properly focus or take aim at her. A small squad managed to hurl a few grenades her way, only to have the explosives flung back in their faces by a powerful magnetic pulse.

It was scary, more dangerous than anything she’d ever experienced before—but damn if this wasn’t exhilarating! A gathering of disparate Nomads, uniting to fight back against the forces of evil… and they were winning!

Her jubilation didn’t last long, however, as white-masked figures swept onto the scene, moving with a confidence and agility that belied their power and skill. Nomads… working for the enemy? No sooner had they appeared than the tide of the battle began to turn. Anna watched, with a sinking feeling in her stomach, as one allied Nomad after another was dispatched.

Change of plans. There were more of those bastards appearing every minute, and if she stuck around here she’d be overwhelmed and cut to pieces. She needed to move, to get out and regroup somewhere… but where? Ivory had run off as soon as the fighting had started, and that Aldous guy had disappeared off somewhere as well. Anna had no allies left, nobody she could count on.

Already, three of the white-masked creeps were closing in on her, one of them nocking an arrow on a compound longbow while the other two approached with blades drawn. They looked entirely at ease, unbothered by the fact that she was obviously a Nomad. Still— Anna smirked. They chose the wrong opponent.

She extended one hand menacingly towards them, and squeezed it into a fist.

Strong or not, these ECLIPSE guys were covered in metal, from their weapons to their augmented limps. No sooner had Anna moved her fingers than her three attackers went flying towards one another, drawn together by a magnetic attraction that sent them crashing together in a tangled heap.

It didn't stop them for long. Within a couple of seconds they were already pulling themselves apart, rising to their feet with weapons at the ready. By that point, though Anna had already fled, darting away through the thick of the fighting. Even if the only two people she’d properly met had disappeared, she'd seen something that gave her an idea of where she needed to be.

A trio, two women and a man, seemingly trying to make their escape. A couple of them looked like they’d come from one of the news crews covering the tournament, but the one who’d really caught Anna’s interest was the girl they seemed to be protecting. That face… she’d been right there at the center of it all when the fighting began. If anyone knew what was going on, it was her.

And so Anna raced off after them, throwing up a magnetic shield behind her to hold back anyone who might try to pursue.

@KaiserElectric
The woman in the black coat smiled a little when Arinne confirmed her hypothesis, but otherwise kept quiet as the others each spoke their piece. Her eyes drifted slowly towards Paul, watching him as carefully as he watched everyone else.

As the conversation wore on, however, with late arrivals gradually showing up to interrupt, her patience seemed to wear thin. She closed her book, setting it down by her side, and leaned forwards, clearing her throat. "Is this everyone? Surely we're not missing any more, are we?" Her sharp gaze swept across the room, daring anyone to disagree. "Good. Then as the Lady commanded, let me share with you what I know so far."

"Kissinger here was kind enough to share with us the basics, but allow me to add a little context, here. Organ theft is hardly an uncommon practice— both magi and mundane humans have built up extensive black markets for that kind of goods. For the most part, though, they're professionals, careful to pick their targets and dispose of them properly." She spread her arms. "If a homeless man living on the streets, or some child from a developing country disappears one day, nobody notices, nobody cares. That's how they operate."

"But this case is different. These young women weren't easy targets, they were people with friends, people with families. They didn't disappear, they were found after being killed. Whoever this killer is, they're doing a poor job of hiding their tracks. That means they're new, inexperienced, not a professional criminal but, as Mr. Kissinger put it, a rogue."

She held up one hand, two fingers and a thumb splayed out. "Thus, I predict one of three possible motives. One, they're psychotic, a madman or madwoman doing this for fun and sport. Much like the original Jack the Ripper." One finger curled inwards, leaving two digits raised. "Two, they're a would-be criminal, wanting to get into the organ-trafficking business but lacking the experience and connections to do so through the proper channels. A small-timer, pushed to despicable acts by their own foolish greed." Her thumb curled, leaving only her index finger pointing upwards. "Three... they're desperate. A person who needs organs to save themselves or a loved one, but lacks the financial means to acquire them on the black market. And so, they go after any matching targets they can find, heedless of the trail they're leaving behind them."

Her last finger curled, leaving only a fist, which she gently lowered to her lap. "The question that sticks out to me, though, is why the Lady Ar-Rynesarte should care." Her eyes fixed on those of the young family head. "This is hardly the first serial killer to haunt the streets of London. In time, they will be caught by the proper authorities. And, while awful, their activities are not a threat to the upper echelons of the Tower." Her head tilted to one side, one eyebrow arching upwards. "Is it a sudden bout of empathy that afflicts you, perchance? Or has something led you to believe that this case may be of more... personal interest?"
Tokiko didn’t bother trying to keep her weapon trained on Hikari. With that firework move she was flying too quickly to track, and the purpose of the exercise had been fulfilled anyway. Over the course of that last exchange, the newbie had clearly demonstrated her battlefield awareness, sharp reactions, and high mobility, all on a high enough level that Tokiko was actually kind of impressed.

Not that she was going to show it, of course.

“Hmph. I suppose that’s just about adequate,” she said, folding her arms and nodding stiffly. “You’re starting to figure it out, right? Not just the basic magical girl stuff, but your Concept and Archetype as well.”

She peered through her glasses at Hikari, as if staring at her might somehow reveal her secrets. By now, Tokiko herself was a little curious to find out the true limits of those newfound powers. With some proper battle experience, she could even be a threat to me… The thought sent a quiet chill down her spine, and a flicker of doubt flashed across her features.

Should I really be doing this? She… yeah, she definitely enjoyed being around Hikari, but they were still competitors in the Hex Night. What if, at some point in some possible future, they ended up pitted against each other? It could be that Tokiko was playing with fire right now…

But I don’t care! The moment of doubt passed, replaced by a mischievous smile. Wasn’t it the role of a mad scientist to experiment with the most dangerous things?

“All right!” she exclaimed, “Let’s turn the difficulty up a level!” With a flash of green lightning, the Tesla Cannon returned to its original taser form, and she tucked it away. Then, with a grin and a flourish, she produced a cigarette lighter, channeling her power through it. Its gleaming outer casing warped, then expanded, as the inside components were adapted to use Tokiko’s magical energy as fuel. With a flick of her finger, a huge gout of flame spurted out from the tiny machine. “This time, I’ll be using an area attack.” She gestured with her other hand, and her Archetype settled into a fighting stance.

“Hoshino Hikari, test two… begin!”

***


It lasted about an hour. One of the most hectic, danger-filled hours of Hikari’s life.

First Tokiko came at her with the miniature flamethrower device, unleashing attacks too wide to easily dodge. Then, after a few minutes of that, she switched to some kind of spray cannon made from a hot glue gun, which squirted scalding bursts of sticky goo that covered patches of the floor and walls, forcing Hikari to mind her footing. Then came the modified flashlight, blinding its target whenever she was caught in its beam and leaving her vulnerable to the monstergirl’s attacks. On top of that, the mad scientist had her minion switch tactics, mixing in kicks and grapples with her punches and even tearing chunks out of the floor to throw at long range. Tokiko was clearly holding back, doing her best not to actually hurt Hikari, but even so, the assault was relentless. Trick after trick, combination upon combination, each one pushing Hikari a little further past her limits.

At last, Tokiko lowered her arms. “That’s… enough… for now.” Breathing heavily, the thin girl toppled over backwards, landing on her butt with a yelp. “Damn it! I don’t have the stamina for this…”

With a small burst of green light, her white coat and black gloves vanished, leaving a pale and messy-haired girl lying on her back on the concrete floor. A moment later, her Archetype disappeared as well.

“Guuuuuh,” she groaned, staring up at the ceiling. This mentor stuff is way too much work!

@VitaVitaAR
"Something about a murderer, I presume. You haven't exactly been quiet about your intentions, Lady Ar-Rynesarte."

The first to answer was a tall woman in a fashionable black coat, leaning back in an old wooden chair. A platinum blonde, languid and elegant, who looked so entirely at ease with the situation that one might have thought she'd called this meeting herself.

(She hadn't, of course. She'd arrived two minutes prior and had quickly claimed her seat, pointedly ignoring everyone present and flipping open a small paperback book, which now rested open in one long-fingered hand.)

"And the fact that you've gone into the trouble of calling us here," she continued, meeting Arinne's eyes, "means you've found a lead." One corner of her mouth quirked upward, a half-smile. "Am I correct?"

@VitaVitaAR
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