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『𝕊𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕖𝕣』 『ℂ𝕙𝕣𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕞𝕒𝕤』



ℂ𝕠𝕝𝕝𝕒𝕓𝕠𝕣𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 ℙ𝕠𝕤𝕥𝕤 / / @RedDusk@January


𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟘𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕌𝕊𝔸ℝ𝕀𝕃ℕ 𝔼𝕒𝕤𝕥 / / 𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕥𝕖 𝟚𝟘𝟚 / / ~𝟙𝟙𝟘𝟘





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𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟘𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕌𝕊𝔸ℝ𝕀𝕃ℕ 𝔼𝕒𝕤𝕥 / / 𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕥𝕖 𝟚𝟘𝟚 / / ~𝟙𝟞𝟘𝟘





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𝕄𝕠𝕟: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟙𝟚, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕌𝕊𝔸ℝ𝕀𝕃ℕ 𝔼𝕒𝕤𝕥 / / 𝔸 𝔹𝕒𝕥𝕙𝕣𝕠𝕠𝕞 / / ~𝟙𝟜𝟛𝟘





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𝕄𝕠𝕟: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟙𝟚, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕌𝕊𝔸ℝ𝕀𝕃ℕ 𝔼𝕒𝕤𝕥 / / 𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕥𝕖 𝟚𝟘𝟚 / / ~𝟙𝟞𝟘𝟘





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𝕋𝕦𝕖: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟙𝟛, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕌𝕊𝔸ℝ𝕀𝕃ℕ 𝔼𝕒𝕤𝕥 / / 𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕥𝕖 𝟚𝟘𝟚 / / ~𝟘𝟚𝟘𝟘





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𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟙𝟜, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / ℂ𝕣𝕚𝕞𝕖𝕟 ℂ𝕦𝕝𝕡𝕒𝕖 / / 𝕊𝕥𝕣𝕖𝕖𝕥𝕤 / / ~𝟘𝟡𝟘𝟘





𝓝𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝟕𝓽𝓱, 𝟏𝟑𝟐𝟕 / / 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓯𝓮𝓵𝓭 / / 𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓭𝓪𝓷'𝓼 𝓔𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓮 / / 𝓜𝓸𝓻𝓷𝓲𝓷𝓰

Gabriel never thought his life would take such an unexpected turn.

He would have been fine with routine. He liked it. Had worked and built his own comfortable life around it. Arden was included then, and he was still with him now. But magic was a different beast altogether; Gabe did not know how to tackle it. It felt like a fairy tale. Something his father would read to him in the distant past. Except now, it seemed he and Arden were in one.

He felt like laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, had it not been so real. The ‘magic’ was right there, just lurking beneath his fingertips. At a moment’s notice, Gabe knew he could draw it out as easily as breathing, only that he chose not to. Because it was absolutely ridiculous. Why would someone such as him be chosen? Arden would have come as no surprise; he was like magic in a way, bright and beautiful and simply…divine. But now, they were in this together, and there was no backing out. Gabe would just have to make sure they would both make it out alive.

If they could make it out, that was. For all he knew, his way of life was over. There was no going back.

That prospect scared Gabe more than it should, so he tried to shake that line of thoughts, standing up abruptly and stalking over to the nearby desk, where a pitcher of water was. Forgoing the cup, the hunter chugged straight from the pitcher, thankful for sweet drink the servants were so readily provided. At least Arden would be comfortable here, or he hoped. He knew his friend had always pushed himself too hard back at the cottage, and the life of a hunter hadn’t always treated the former noble too well. At least this would be something Arden deserved? Would he prefer this to the cabin in woods?

Did he prefer this, in the first place?

His gaze drifted to the sleeping body on the bed. Maybe he would ask later.

Thankfully, the help knocked right at that moment, relieving Gabe from his rumination. Apparently, they were expected at dinner to present themselves before the lord of this mansion and get introduced to other bonded pairs. Gabe only nodded stiffly at the older servant, before quickly shutting the door and cutting him off. Afterward, he went over to where Arden was napping on the bed, nudging gently at his friend’s shoulder.

Arden stirred, but didn’t wake, sleep having settled quite soundly by then. He dreamed of a rustic forest cottage where the light crackling of firewood remained a steady background accompaniment to the scents of cooking meats and boiled herbs. But most of all he dreamed of the friend he had known almost all his life, whittling new arrow shafts by firelight while the flickering flame cast tantalizing shadows over taut shoulders and the graceful lines of defined muscles. In warmer weather, Gabe rarely wore his tunic indoors.

A gentle touch against his shoulder from an unknown source and the dream moved to a bed, like he had always been there, Gabe’s arms around him because the cottage had room enough for a single bed and Gabe had refused to let him sleep on the floor. That made him happy. Every little thing.

A small smile from Gabe was all he ever needed in a day. And maybe he could hope the smiles meant something more.

Arden only smiled as Gabe nudged him, his dream taking the gentle touch in stride and weaving it in seamlessly.

Gabe’s touches grew persistent when it was clear that his friend wouldn’t get out of bed on his own anytime soon.

Dinner’s ready.” -He pinched Arden’s cheek lightly, only to get a quiet hum in response, Arden’s cozy dream permeating the hunter’s mood as well. That was a new thing he also had to get used to, this strange new bond they shared. At times, he would feel Arden’s emotions leaking through should he focus enough. And if he wanted, he and Arden could communicate via pure thoughts alone. This magic was strange and scary for Gabe, who had known only bows and traps and knives all his life. But if he were to be bound with anyone at all, that person might as well be Arden.

He was comfortable with Arden’s presence, and he knew his friend felt the same.

But their dinner waited. And he dared not to invoke the wrath of those lords and ladies.

Slipping one hand under Arden’s arm, he lifted his friend up from the comforting warmth of the bed. At that, Arden blinked awake sheepishly, turning his face towards Gabe’s chest and snuggling tight in an attempt to chase dreams. The hunter sighed, letting his friend indulge for a few moments before beginning to rock the smaller body gently.

“Gabe…” a voice finally answered, still heavy with sleep. It was neither a call nor an announcement, the tone faded like Arden was simply saying the name because he wanted to. A moment of feeling later and that thought was confirmed.

They say food’s ready.

“…Mm…” The faint response as Arden started drifting off once more.

Arden.” -Gabe sighed, slowly pulling his friend to the edge of the bed. The ritual then the trip had been exhausting, but he didn’t want anyone causing trouble for Arden if he slept through dinner. Luckily the dozing knight blinked awake again and clutched at Gabe’s shoulders, sitting up slowly and leaning heavily on his friend’s torso.

“…I wanted to keep dreaming about you,” the sleepy voice murmured. ”It was a nice dream.”

It was.” -Gabe agreed, having already felt Arden’s contentment through their bond -”Aren’t you hungry?

”What are you making today?” Arden still leaned against Gabe with his eyes closed, sitting almost on the hunter’s lap as he waited for sleep to slide away.

I didn’t.

“Hmm?”

I didn’t cook. But there is dinner.

It dawned then on Arden as the recent memories resurfaced that they weren’t home and they wouldn’t be for a long time. A pang of sadness shot through their bond before Arden sat up straight, rubbing sleep from his eyes with one hand while the other held on to Gabe’s. He felt a responding twang of fear as well, though he didn’t understand what for. Still he rubbed a thumb over Gabe’s knuckles.

”It’s okay. Let me straighten my clothes and we can have dinner. You must be hungry.”

What about…clothes?” -Gabe looked up, barely a twitch in his stony expression, but Arden could feel fear and anxiety emanating from the other side of the bond. His concerns were justified, as they were still wearing their usual hunting garbs, and Arden had told him times and times again about the strict dress code in his dinner parties.

“This is all we have. If they don’t understand that, it’s a shame.” Arden reached up to stroke Gabe’s hair instinctively, the jolts of fear on the other end triggering an innate desire to help Gabe calm down. “Don’t worry. No matter what, I’ll be right here.”

Alright.” -Gabe nodded -”There are new clothes in the wardrobe. If you want. For…appearance?” -It was one of those words that Gabe didn’t completely understand, but Arden had mentioned enough times in his stories. Wasn’t that important to noblemen?

“Would you like to wear them?” A glimmer of humor from the blonde.

I don’t know.”- Gabe tilted his head -”What about you?

“You’re so worried,” Arden replied, a small smile forming on his face. “Here, I’ll help you get dressed then.”

Gabe only nodded, fear now was replaced with anticipation and uncertainty. Arden had seen him naked before, certainly, and had dressed him as well, but that was in the safety of their small forest cottage and never with the worry of being judged. Sensing the concern, Arden ran a hand through Gabe’s hair again, combing down the stray strands and messy locks before undoing the laces of Gabe’s tunic and letting the hunter remove the top. First was the soft underclothing—fine white silk that went under an embroidered vest, the ruffled cuffs and neckline pulled over the outer shirt. Gold-buttoned trousers came next in black cotton, the ends tucked into knee-high boots inlaid with silver filigree, finished with extraneous, but attractive metallic spats. For the finishing touch, Arden wet his hands with a light spray of scented oil from their own bags, sculpting back the hunter’s unruly mane until it was a trim, low-hanging ponytail, the ends curled with a swift wrap around the fingers and release.

Stepping back, Arden took in the sight of Gabe’s archer physique in the ornamentation of the wealthy, sucking in a quick breath at the resulting rugged nobleman that stood in front of him.

After a moment though, he laughed.

“I think I like you better as just Gabe, really. But right now? You look like a king’s ransom.”

What’s a king’s ransom?” -Gabe fiddled with the ruffled cuff on his left hand, wondering about their function. They felt entirely redundant to him, but then again, a lot of things noblemen did were.

“Something they would trade a king for,” Arden replied, stepping closer and running his hands over the curve of Gabe’s shoulder.

Only you would do that.” -The hunter let him, comfortable with Arden’s touches -”You’re not a very good merchant, then.

”Well, my family disowned me for a reason. I’m sure that’s part of it,” he replied, turning to look for his own clothes. Deciding he liked the idea of being thematically bonded as well, he donned a similar outfit, choosing faded green and earth tones to Gabe’s muted blue hues and dark grays.

They didn’t know what they lost.

“…You’re a silly sweet thing.” A bit of teasing on the tongue and Arden bowed, motioning for the door with a flourish. “Shall we dine, my king?”

That remark managed to draw out a small smile from the stoic Gabe.

I’m no king.” -The hunter retorted, but he played along regardless, walking out with Arden at his side. However, the closer they got to the dining hall, the more nervous Gabe got. Almost instinctive, he inched closer to his friend, grabbing onto his arm as they walked.


His stomach was in knots by the time they found their seats, and Gabe just couldn’t stop watching the servants flitting back and forth through the doorway as if he wish he could just leave like them.

At least, there was food in front of them. More food that what he knew what to do with, actually. Were they to eat everything? Gabe picked up a fork and stabbed at a piece of sausage before bringing it to his mouth, eating intently. Maybe if he were eating, they would let him skip the introduction. Noticing his companion’s discomfort, Arden rubbed Gabe’s unoccupied hand in slow, soothing motions, remaining by his partner's side for the moment.

He leaned in with a whisper of “Even eating like that you look splendid,” the quiet compliment and half-joke sincere.

The only respond to the compliment was a flat look from Gabe, but through their bond, Arden could tell the hunter had calmed down quite a bit, turning back to his meal with fervor. The trip here had been tiring, and with so much food laid out in front of him, Gabe was determined to let none go to waste as Regis introduced Rose-Marie. The name didn't ring a bell for Arden, but, then again, he had been far from the social circles of nobility for a long time.

Deciding to take care of pleasantries sooner than later, Arden walked to his seat across from Gabe, turning to the gathered guests with a bow and his finest manners on display. “Good evening, my lords and ladies. I speak for both my partner and myself when I say we’re honored to be among those gathered here. This,” he gestured lightly towards Gabe, “is Gabriel of Marvik, a humble hunter. I am his knight, Arden…of Marvik.” The pause was a millisecond, but noticeable in the otherwise smooth delivery. “Our bond is ideal for reconnaissance and precision strikes at enemy forces, though we do boast raw strength should wanton destruction be required. I turn into Gabriel’s loyal beast—any creature within my mind’s grasp—-while he concentrates or dilutes the strength of my forms, among other things. We hope to be of service to Grenheim and its radiant future.”

Another bow followed and Arden seated himself, selecting choice cuts of meat to place on Gabe’s plate. “Did you want anything else?” he asked quietly, doting regardless of the setting.

Gabe only shook his head, mouth still occupied with an ungodly amount of meat and potato. The hunter quickly turned back to his plate then, hard at work to demolish the pile of meat Arden had put in front of him.

You should eat too. A flash of concern flashed through their bond though Do we have to eat everything? Arden’s laugh cleared out the worry. Of course not. Eat what you like.

With the assurance, Gabe was relaxed once more, and he hunched over the plate of food, wolfing down his portion with little regard for others at the table.


𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / ℕ𝕠𝕣𝕥𝕙 ℂ𝕒𝕣𝕠𝕝𝕚𝕟𝕒 / / 𝕊𝕠𝕦𝕥𝕙𝕡𝕠𝕣𝕥 / / ~𝟘𝟞𝟛𝟘


There was a safehouse for the remaining Amigos in one of the many storage buildings of the Oak Island Fishing Charters, the location set up prior to their deployment. They abandoned the ferry near the waterway intersection at Pinner Point and walked from there, Nathaniel carrying the mutilated Angel in a large duffel bag they found on the ferry that had once carried various fishing tools and basic supplies. He was countering the otherwise unwieldy weight with his telekinesis, recovered just slightly from the effects of Teitel’s weapons. Once the power had finally released after the tidal wave, Nathaniel had dropped unconscious and at the mercy of his fellow gang members who, to his surprise, did not slit his throat then and there. Perhaps because they realized without him they had no real firepower.

He had awoken inside the ferry’s only cabin, beside the unconscious girl’s upper body. No words had been exchanged then, but he knew an owed favor when he saw one. Thi had worked her surgical magic once more and now he was running on an overdose of adrenaline and heightened senses. Just enough to reach the safe house awake and without needing support to walk.

It was unfortunate for the girl, who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time while they had secondary orders as well. But fortunate for them. Whatever else they failed to do, this alternative mission required one of Zhang’s pets brought back alive, even if barely living was all they could manage.

And it had all worked out, more or less, and the slow crunching of gravel underneath his boots kept him focused and awake on the end fringes of his stamina, their chosen path hooking and weaving through many abandoned charter stations until they reached a large, wooden building, no different from the rest of the drab and dreary types lining the waterway. But it was the safehouse. A place to wait for a long-range teleporter to come get them. Or for more conventional methods of travel, if one couldn’t spare the time.

A different group had been there first to supply them with sleeping rolls and basic nonperishables hidden in cardboard boxes along the wall. Small flashlights and a first-aid kit lay under a ragged tarp in the corner, along with various sets of warm clothes that loosely fit them and would have been far too large for someone like Isabelle or Chuck. Moth-eaten sofas lay scattered around the room, their presence from decades past.

Nathaniel’s thoughts refused to linger on the lost teammates, focusing instead on the partial human inside his bag.

”Thi, fix her—just enough.” He threw the bag near the woman’s feet, dropping into a nearby sofa that coughed up a plume of dust in response to his presence. He pushed the particles away in a spray of telekinetic irritation, laying down to gather as much rest as he could while Thi set to work revamping the functions of Angel’s organs and tapping into the body’s reserve storage of energy, stimulating usage of the girl’s fat during their wait period while numbing her nerves and sense of hunger. She triggered the body’s natural sedatives, too, finishing for the moment with a perfect, but ghastly suture across the vertical of the torso, the line nestled between the amputated breasts.

No teleporter came for them that time. Instead a lone van drove up several hours later and parked by the near roadside while the hooded men in nondescript clothing that all covered their necks stepped out and knocked carefully on the door of the storage house. Thi answered first, scalpels in hand and her frightening glove of needle-like feelers prepared to tear through the throats of any enemies. But the gesture of running a finger from the center of their forehead to the tip of their nose was enough to identify whose loyalties were present.

Ian stopped playing with the bits of sand and dirt in the room, the swirling miniature sandstorm falling away as he shook Nathaniel awake and picked up Angel by the handle that Thi had carved and attached onto the girl’s upper back from sections of hip bone.

Unaccustomed to Thi’s methods, their transport stared at the limbless girl until a weary and cranky Nathaniel shoved past them to the car. It was time to deliver at last and he was ready to be done with the half-botched mission.


𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝔹𝕒𝕝𝕕 ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / ℤ𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕘'𝕤 𝔼𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕥𝕖 / / ~𝟙𝟘𝟛𝟘


The island suffered its share of harried activity in the aftermath with Margot’s various copies scouring every corner of the small landspace for more enemies and finding only a skulking Aubrey in his quite literal man cave within the underground tunnels of the island. Chuck, meanwhile, had been handily cuffed with enough suppressors to render him little more than a late teenage boy who had made some awful decisions. He was packed into a separate helicopter by three Margots while another attached a new cuff to Kusari’s neck, the silver band with its translucent coating sealing together seamlessly—an upgraded version from their original cuffs.

”Not sure what happened, but I’m gonna take a while guess and say you’re probably not looking to lose your head any time soon.”

True to her word, the mercenary had notified Zhang the moment she received Zoe’s information, one of her many selves relaying the news once a good connection was established. Silence had met her on the other end and then a termination of the message channel. It would have been easy chalking it all up to the woman being a royal bitch but Margot knew better. It more more likely that Zhang was in a panic and coping with it the only way the woman knew how—by tackling every task as efficiently and robotically as possible until she found a way to settle events within her reasonable control again.

While preparations and restoration went on, Margot’s personal squad took up defensive positions around the estate and her own replicas ushered the two groups of students onto one of the helicopters.

The flight was muffled within the helicopter’s cabin and the trip clocked in a little over three hours of flight with a brief refueling stop while clouds and open land slid past the view below them. Crimen Culpae 1 came into view as the helicopter neared its final destination. Dipping lower, signs of a battle on the school’s grounds became immediately apparent with central buildings still in the process of slow, magical reconstruction while outcroppings of shattered edifices relied on more mundane means of contractors and scaffolding. Large piles of debris had been carefully swept off the Institute grounds while a distant, gargantuan Miranda slowly prowled the city outskirts, movements so slow that continuous viewing could barely discern any progress.

The school’s central buildings remained intact and a worried Rosa stood near the helicopter landing pad situated on the roof of a research building, waiting to see the state of the students. Before they even landed, however, she was already leaving, a call on her phone sending her sprinting to the nearest elevator. She managed a quick wave at the approaching helicopter, but nothing more.

On landing the Institute’s soldiers resumed their careful chaperoning, nudging the students into the main hallway and down a different elevator, before leading them out of the building’s lobby and setting them loose with a quick gesture to leave.

A researcher in a blue lab coat with her blonde hair twisted into a loose bun behind her head passed by the group on their way out and looked at them oddly, but resumed her business after a glare from one of the soldiers, hurrying into the building to get out of sight.

Aside from the small encounter and the remnants of devastation surrounding them, they were, apparently, home sweet home.


?????? / / ?????? / / ?????? / / ??????


”…makes them special?”

”…possible to…and repurpose for…”

”—not sure this is related to—”

”Washington’s attack wasn’t Fracture’s plan either—”

”Do you think Dreamcatcher…notice that…”

”…is it awake?”

Snippets of conversation in unfamiliar voices faded in and out for Angel, lost in a haze of drugs and supernatural surgery, until she awoke limbless and artfully attached by metallic spokes to a freestanding cube frame of iron and steel isolated in a windowless cement room that, with all the protruding pipelines, looked like the basement of some commercial building. Four metal poles extended diagonally inward from the box’s four edges, suspending the amputated torso in the center. At the junction of flesh and steel, the surgeon had grafted bone to metal, making the grotesque framework effectively a part of the girl now. She was naked, though there was little left to see. Breasts had been replaced with more metal girding holding her in place, smaller rungs of iron fastened tightly to her exposed ribcage, the skin and flesh above each incision removed in perfect circles.

What remained of her lower body had been entirely redefined, a large portion of her innards easily visible with metal waste tubes extending from her truncated intestines and draining into an accessible sewer line nearby, the end of the tube bolted into place against the larger pipe. A large container of clear liquid siphoned nutrients and hydration into the partial body, the thin, flexible lines of rubber inserted directly into her stomach and feeding her directly. Other hollow threads redirected excretions from the kidneys into the same waste tube and further threads kept the intestines neatly packed under her ribs.

The room was empty when she woke up. A single bulb of light on the ceiling provided sufficient illumination, but there was no mistaking what had become of her body. As if in cruel jest, a tall mirror had been placed on the wall across from her, the polished look of it out of place in the dismal room.

And if she screamed, she would hear no sound.





𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝔹𝕒𝕝𝕕 ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / 𝔾𝕖𝕟𝕖𝕣𝕒𝕝 𝔸𝕣𝕖𝕒 / / ~𝟘𝟞𝟘𝟝


The storm had finally passed through the area and by then Zhang’s private military forces had long been dispatched, a special squadron kept under direct communication with Kardos and entirely separate from both the government forces assigned to USARILN East and the bolstering additions of hired PMCs. Three tandem-rotor helicopters received supplies, weapons, and a ten-man team before lifting off from their base in Nassau and flying along the coastline over the waters of the Bermuda.

Their arrival was, as expected, too late after the storm and the escaped Amigos had long vanished from sight, skirting the abandoned Fort Caswell nearby and untraceable in the Intracoastal Waterway that easily expedited their path to a safe house. Too many rivers and exit points branched from the Waterway to check and the soldiers had no interest in hunting the Amigos at the moment regardless. They were more interested in securing the island and the estate, in particular the students still alive.


𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝔹𝕒𝕝𝕕 ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / ℕ𝕠𝕣𝕥𝕙 𝔼𝕟𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕋𝕠𝕨𝕟 / / ~𝟘𝟞𝟘𝟝


In a half-destroyed house at the edge of the subnatural settlement, a flash of blue-streaked hair ended when the teenage boy collapsed into a chair, breaths coming in desperate and ragged. Of all people, he should have been able to escape first, but by now the other Amigos were either gone or dead, though the wall of water he had seen earlier was enough indication that Nathaniel at least was alive.

And he had seen Isabelle die with his own eyes. Few people liked her—and they were justified. Half-crazy and doped up on drugs nearly all the time, Isabelle wasn’t anyone’s first choice for company. But she hadn’t minded when Chuck stayed in her hovel of a home, the tiny townhouse bare minimum lodgings provided by the Father when it became clear there was no point granting Isabelle luxuries. All she cared for was her drugs and the soothing high that accompanied them. At first it had been curiosity—one of their better subnaturals living like a dog—but it became clear enough when Isabelle spent nearly all her free time wreaking havoc in her home or dazed on the sofa, lost in chemical dreams.

But she had her lucid moments, rare though they were between the rage of her crashes and the insanity of her highs.

“Chuck, was it?”

He remembered bruised legs hanging off the bed while her arms drew nonsense in the air, the scatter of heroin injections like small patches of freckles on her pasty skin. He hadn’t answered, sitting at the unbalanced dining table nearby because Isabelle had sliced away one of the table’s legs and Chuck had tried to duct tape it back together, only to have her kick at that same leg later.

“Why’re you always around here, moleque? It smells here. ‘Cuz I don’t wash anything. And it’s gross. ‘Cuz I don’t clean anything.”

He remembered telling her he didn’t know and knowing it wasn’t true.

“Maybe I like the company, too,” she had answered, guessing the reason. “Maybe I’ll dye your boring hair sometime.”

He remembered thinking she was lucid when she told him to run.

The scent of blood still clung to him, lingering even though the splatters on his windbreaker had dried. He didn’t know if the person behind the drugs and the psychosis was worth it, but he missed her all the same.

They knew what their ends had to inevitably be, but Isabelle had been unpredictable to the last. The group looked down on her. Hated her, even, for various reasons, but none of them would have told him to run. In a sudden burst of fear and anxiety that he had been holding back since their first encounter with the soldiers, the teenager finally felt the shudders of dry sobs wracking his body. Alone, without even Isabelle, he was almost defenseless. That should have been the worst part. But against all logic his heaviest emotions sprang from the grief of her death.

He had asked her once why she used so many drugs.

“God helps those who help themselves, Chuck. And amen.”

”…Amen, Isabelle,” he whispered, sitting up and pressing fingers to his eyes. He didn’t know what she would say to him like this—ever impossible to guess—but she wouldn’t be resting any more than absolutely necessary.

He needed to find transportation. Or at least a place to hide until he could figure out a way off the island. The collapsed caves they had chased the generator mage into came to mind and he decided to let his fatigue recover first before making the jumps there.

The sound of helicopters caught his attention first and he didn’t need to be Thi to put two and two together. He crouched low, watching the specks in the sky turn into his ticket off the island. His small pocket knife had been useless the entire time, but now he wondered if he could put it to good use. It was a reckless plan, but with the ferry gone he had no way of knowing when any future transportation would arrive, especially since the island’s inhabitants never seemed to travel.

His palm ached with the pressure of the knife’s handle.

”…Amen.”


𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟟, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝔹𝕒𝕝𝕕 ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / ℤ𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕘'𝕤 𝔼𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕥𝕖 / / ~𝟘𝟞𝟘𝟝


Aldrich had finished checking the bodies of the dead subnaturals by the time Zhang’s reinforcements arrived proper, the helicopters touching down in the large clearing around the estate. A tall, brutish woman with short black hair swept back across her head stepped out in black body armor ahead of the other nine soldiers, pausing at the sight of Aldrich. She scowled, the piercing at the right corner of her lips accentuating her distaste. An angry scar marred the left side of her jaw, running ragged to her nose while an old, vicious burn across her left temple ruined the remaining skin on that half of her face.

“Margot,” the older man greeted, though his face remained carefully neutral.

”And here I thought I’d finally find you in pieces,” she growled back, voice coarse from years of chain smoking.

”If you’re looking for the students, they’re in town. Safe, I assume. We lost one.”

”Not my business. I’m just here to retrieve what’s left.” She gestured to the other nine soldiers to remain at the estate, heading into town alone. A hand scratched at the mark on her neck, scraping the rough fabric of the uniform’s collar against her skin. It was just an old habit now. That infernal itch had long ago vanished.



Repost for consistency.




@VarionusNW Putting mine and Red's CS here to slap you into working on the OOC and to bump the thread.




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