banner credit to Nitemare Shape
Time: Present Day - 10:00 PM
Location: Lost Haven, Maine
On the far east side of Lost Haven, the docks had quieted down. After the earthquakes earlier that evening, a lot of areas had shifted and for a few ambitious scavengers they took the opportunity to pick through what might have been impossible to sift through before. A pair of hooded figures leisurely walked down the docks, chatting excitedly for the spoils of the evening. At first glance they were scruffy to look at, old clothes, faces hiding beneath hoods. Figures difficult to discern their gender. Their leisurely pace from their confidence, working under the assumption no others would be out at this time of night to take advantage of the earthquake that kept the more skittish inside. One walking specifically with what looked to be a staff.
Upon closer inspection one would find they dressed ready for dirty work, dark browns and greys. Layered, most skin surface covered in spite of the summer heat still persistent even with the sun being set for hours. Knowingly choosing steel toed boots for where they were heading.
Earthquakes seemed to be the tip of the insanity iceberg, as of late. Especially for locals of Lost Haven, stranger things have happened and are happening all the time. Life went on regardless, no excuse was good enough to keep the brave off the streets.
The pair arrived to their destination, clambering deftly past no trespassing signs and fences. The abandoned warehouse had been all but picked clean, piles of haphazard machinery were stacked against the walls inside. Impossible to move aside safely. While the grounds outside of it were overgrown with weeds, tall grass, and littered garbage blowing across the open space.
It took two pairs of hands to force open the sliding door on the south side of the building, it gave way after a fair amount of cursing.
Twin shoulder flashlights lit up the area shining over displaced engines, rotors, all manner of heavy machinery parts. The taller of the pair removed her hood revealing dirty blonde hair tied in braids. Charlene Croll pulled down her dark brown mask to speak to her partner, “Smell that? Disturbed mildew and dust. Mask up, you were right the quake shifted shit.”
Yvonne Thompson removed her mask as well to reply, revealing dark brown hair twisted into a bun, a middle aged face lined with crows feet crinkling at the corners of her eyes with delight. “What’d I say, Charlie? We’re gonna have the pick of the crop tonight.” Clapping Charlie’s shoulder affectionately.
Charlene grinned toothily, “I got this area covered if you want to check out next door, yeah? I’ll radio you if I find something good.” She suggested gesturing with her wooden staff, the fluorite crystal catching the light of the flashlight. “Check in at the top of the hour.”
Yvonne nodded pulling her mask back up and stepping back out their entrance, jogging off to explore the warehouse one over. Pulling up her wristwatch and setting an alarm, it was just past 10 o’clock. Without further ado, she tuned the old, duck taped radio on her hip. Local news was playing, between music breaks. The radio and all other news sources were following all developments with the fall of STRIKE and attacks from a terrorist organization called Hounds of Humanity. Terrorist attacks rightfully scared the piss out of everyone. Magic and metahuman alike. Walmarts being blown apart, metahumans getting into a fight in the wreckage.
Then there was the gang wars raging across the west and south side of the city, everything was going to hell in a handbasket as far as everyone else was concerned. For Charlene, it felt like it was right at their doorstep. The rest of the Croll clan felt otherwise, they felt it was a world away. They kept to their own business, concern only reaching out for their neighbours and regulars. They lived in a half decent neighbourhood, most folk looked out for one another the best they could.
A point she and her mother, Julianne had butted heads on regularly. Jules wanted to keep her fresh university graduate home working in their shop.
With the news droning on Charlie set to work scrounging up parts that weren’t eaten away by the salty sea air. She picked through the piles the best she could, when the music returned she hummed along to the top forty charts, knowing most of the words to the latest pop songs. She moved through the piles, deftly examining pieces here and there scrutinizing parts while throwing some into her backpack immediately. At the top of the hour she climbed her way up to the second floor toward the foreman’s office radioing Yvonne.
“Checking in, Evie. Finding some good bits over here, how goes the hunt on your end?”
She paused waiting for the reply, it came through a few seconds later. “Yeah same over here, probably going to have to come back tomorrow with the truck to pick up some of the bigger- wait, hold up. Do you hear that?”
Charlie turned down her radio, listening intently. The sound of engines revving close by. “Hide. I’ll take a look.” There had been only a handful of times when they had to dodge the cops. Even in the abandoned areas, trespassing with a backpack full of scavenge was hardly offensive but… not something to be caught with. It was really unlikely for them to be doing a sweep through the area, they were too busy as it were.
She stepped up to the dirty window using her sleeve to wipe away a thick layer of grime, moving her goggles to her forehead. Squinting green eyes peered along the street looking for headlights. Down the far end two pairs of lights lit up simultaneously the sounds of engines revving loudly. The lights sped forward racing past the warehouses a few seconds later.
Bringing the radio up, unimpressed she spoke. “Street racers, Evie. I thought they were holding the races on the North end?”
Yvonne answered dryly, “Cops probably caught the rumours and chased them off over here. Let’s go before-! Shit! Char there’s some assholes at your front door! Get out of there!”
Charlene clutched the walkie talkie, making quick on hiding herself inside the foreman’s office. She replied seething, “I’m not going any fucking where. They’re responsible for all those hit and runs.”
“Charlie! No-” Charlene turned the walkie talkie off.
The voices below came through loudly as the door opened with a loud whine, rusty hinges protesting against the strain. She listened, grinding her teeth. A couple 49ers waltzed in beckoning the drivers in, Charlene heard a little Mandarin. Peering around the doorframe she counted three heads, including the one stepping out of the customized Mazda. Both vehicles were decked out with gaudy aesthetics spinning rims, green neon lights along the bottom of the car, rumbling chrome exhaust pipes. Lit up speakers thrumming with bass.
Eyesores. Charlie thought.
An idea coming to mind then a decision. She stepped away from the doorframe looking around the office, unafraid of whatever noise she could make being drowned out by the vehicles. Searching for anything she could use, she snuck around to the other side of a desk to find an abandoned homeless person’s bed. Opened soup and fried bean cans strewn about over a dirty sleeping bag. Snatching up all the empty cans, standing up she carefully placed each can in a line across the desk. She moved onto unscrewing some dead fluorescent lights. Stepping over puddles of water, seeing her last ingredient. The fire extinguisher.
She scrawled out old elemental symbols from memory, a steady hand while mumbling the formulas. Talking to herself through equations, as she was prone to do. Straightening them, gently Charlie opened her palm across the cans a deep breath through her nose, she concentrated on the mysterious forces of magic that dwelled within her blood.
The equation firmly in mind, the magic flowed through the scrawlings. The natural guidance of magic came as second nature to the likes of Charlene, deconstructing the base elements of the cans, separating them as the magic interacted with it, like following an instinct. Intimate knowledge of chemistry, the building blocks of life. Instinctually a skilled alchemist like Charlie understood what no microscope could provide the most dedicated scientist.
The metal in the cans seemed to spring to life, the aluminum sprang out the sides attaching to the cans around it. Moving like it was water splashing in every direction, the magic pulled all the cans together reshaping it into a larger and taller can with the available materials. Charlie made quick work again with the fluorescent light and fire extinguisher, instead of combining them she separated the more complex points of both objects down to what she needed, from there it was as simple as changing them to gas and sealing the can. Briefly considering the potency and deciding all she needed was an edge.
It was a little over a few minutes, the noise still evident by the drivers and their cars. By the time Charlie was done, the can was sealed with her surprise. A sly smile under the mask while she had worked.
Using both hands she carried her concoction over to the door peering around to see they had gathered in a small circle passing around a smoke. Adjusting her goggles, hood and finally mask. Taking another look at the trio of Triads. One sported a green mohawk, another wore a leather jacket, and the third was bald shaved down to the scalp a tattoo noticeably on the back of his neck. Pulling her ceramic knife from her hip she stabbed side of the can and threw it down to the group of 49ers, it landed rolling to tap against the one with the mohawk, the gas plumed around them.
Visibly the gangsters looked as if they were losing their balance, complaining. The bald one clumsily tried to reach for their gun, while the mohawk gangster tried to kick away the can. Pushing off the door frame she took a running leap over the railing, landing she pushed off from her crouch aiming for legs belonging to the man wearing the jacket. Her staff swept under his feet, he went down like a sack of potatoes. Her next target was baldy, with the gun in his hand. With the extended reach of the staff, she crouched low out of the crosshairs, spinning the tip of her staff against his hand, he lost grip, sending the gun clear out of his hand skittering across the concrete. He yelped holding his hand. Mohawk had snapped to attention.
Her grabbed her backpack trying to pull her off balance, cursing at her. Charlie shifted her foot back to compensate for the sudden pull, turning on her heel she brought her staff around in a one armed swing, connecting with his head with a audible crack. The hit sent him reeling, a final kick to his chest to sent him to the ground seeing stars. Baldy was recovering, her knock out gas still working him into a wobbly stance, he was on his feet trying to shake the effects.
Charlie circled holding her staff out, moving herself between him and the gun. He snapped something in mandarin, Charlie didn’t bother with a reply instead answered feigning left causing him to flinch. Ruthlessly she closed the space jabbing the butt of her staff into his chest, and much like the man who tried to grapple her she brought the staff around his head knocking him out cold.
The one on the ground rolled to his side, looking up at her and asked in a heavy accent, “P-please.”
“No.” She snarled then kicked him out cold with her heavy boot.
All three of them were out for the count, she left them where they lay and instead turned her attention onto sabotaging the vehicles. It was several minutes before she turned on her walkie talkie walking out the back entrance, radioing Yvonne, “We’re cool, let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Behind Charlene the cars were unrecognizable. All the lights were destroyed, the paint peeling up all over the body of the cars, rusted out bumpers and fenders. The windows were all strategically cracked. The treads of the tires hiding pins that would only sink in when they moved. When the gangsters would wake, they would turn over the engines only then to discover it would burst into flame from Charlie’s tampering.
Whistling as she waltzed out of the warehouse, by the time she crossed the yard Yvonne was waiting for her nervously double checking over her shoulder. “Are you insane!?” She hissed.
Charlene shrugged, “I couldn’t just walk away. You’ve heard the news about how bad the street racin-”
Yvonne snapped, interrupting her, “No! The first time I let you beat up some assholes was because they were trying to mug some guy. Second time-” She held up two fingers, “-was because some drug dealer and his knife were between us and the exit. Today you had the choice to sneak out of there, you didn’t have to mess with them!”
Charlene rolled her eyes, “Come on, cut me some slack here Evie.”
Her friend snarled at her, “No! Look I make some pretty big allowances here keepin’ your weird magicy crap a secret because you’re a good partner and have gotten us out of some jams but you went out of your way tonight to show off.” She pointed at her adding, “Don’t think I don’t know you have an ego bigger than your head.”
“That is so untrue-”
“What will your mother think?” Evie demanded of Charlene.
Charlene let out a big sigh then smoothly slung her arm around her friend’s shoulder guiding her into a walk, Evie allowing her while she glared. “She doesn’t have to know shit, Eves. We did the neighborhood a favour, I just busted up their cars bad enough they won’t be back on the roads with customized eyesores any time soon.”
Yvonne stewed on that crossing her arms.
“The city’s got enough to worry about, now it’s two street racers less. Yeah?” Charlie said tilting her head her tone light.
Evie stuck up her lip then relented, “Fuck, girl. You’re a real pain sometimes y’know. Don’t ever shut off the radio on me again, got it?”
Holding up two fingers Charlie replied, “Scout’s honour, ma’am.”
Yvonne pulled on Charlie’s ear at ma’am, that earned a few chuckles from the pair.
Charlie pulled out her phone checking her messages, noticing in particular her friend Carrie, was trying to get ahold of her. Scrolling through her wall of text messages, something was wrong.
banner credit to Nitemare Shape