Sporting a satisfied smirk and walking with a slight spring in her steps, Yeona appeared to be in a more cheery mood than her compatriots. The usual bottle of liquor was nowhere to be seen on her person. Today, it was replaced by a pack of cigarettes. She was, all in all, just a tad too carefree considering the duty she was undertaking.
Failure would mean consequences, the king had said, but she hardly expected to fail. There was enough trash to pick and choose from in this glorified dump they called a housing zone. If not, well, they could always resort to more violent and intrusive means to gather enough volunteers. The buildings were on their turf, after all. Either way, the quota would be met. Of that, she had little doubt.
It was a boring job, what essentially amounted to a field day for the newbies. However, should the lucky few they pick manage to survive the strains of the gift, there’d be action yet. Even if she was more keen to throw darts than hands, she could appreciate a good fight or two. Although, she clearly cared less about a level playing field than the heavyweight rookie. There’s no fun in fighting on even terms with your opponent, what really mattered was having and maintaining the upper hand. That wasn’t why she was here, though.
She wanted to see her fellow serpents in action, a bout of reckless curiosity. How often could a lowly snake claim to have witnessed their king at work? There was the jack, too. A cold, uncaring, and... very unkempt man. She wondered if she’d find any eggs from rummaging through that nest of hair. Her fingers twitched. Perhaps if she wasn’t sober, she would‘ve given in to her impulses. There was more to live for than ruffling dangerous men’s heads. Cutting down on alcohol was a good call indeed. Not that that would last beyond this singular mission.
Compared to the gutsy rookie - what was her name again? It started with a ‘K’ if she recalled - who was running her mouth without a care who was listening, Yeona fancied herself more of an invertebrate. Confronting the strong like that just wasn’t her style. Better to lie low and unnoticed, or resort to pandering if that failed. So far, she reckoned it was a pretty solid plan. For one, the king hadn’t cut her to ribbons yet with that big paw of his.
Unfortunately, that also meant twice the ass kissing. Not exactly the image of a respectable veteran. "A brilliant suggestion, sir. How, ah, intact would you like the subjects to be? I assume not all their limbs are necessary for the experiments." Yeona didn’t really expect for them to start tearing the place down, but she wouldn’t complain either. Fun was fun, and reenacting the hurricane didn’t sound so bad.
The sun set, and the sun rose. Another day had come to an empty tea house, a lonesome bed, incense burning on the altar. Today was different. There would be no customers today. A written note had been stuck on the doors of his shop and home, apologising to his would-be customers of the day. There were not many to begin with. Only those who were approaching his age tended to be seated at his tables. Every so often, some of the youth would come to visit, if only for the rustic decor and the aesthetic of his quaint little shop. Those who appreciated his tea were rare, but they existed. As he gazed outside of the window of Isaiah’s car, watching the people and the buildings pass them by, he wondered if he should have left this world behind him after she had gone. Perhaps, his tea would have found a wider audience in a better world. Behind his round, dark lenses, he cast a glance at Isaiah.
Mayhaps the boy was sharper than he thought, as the younger man looked towards him and queried on his well-being. He scoffed aloud. To think that he was getting to an age where the youths had to worry about him. “I may be old, but I am not so fragile that I would shatter to pieces due to your unruly driving, young man. Hah hah hah.” His pausing staccato of a laugh accentuated his attempt at humour. Isaiah had every reason to worry, however. He could feel the years weighing upon him. Though it barely belaboured him as much as it did his peers of the same age, he could still sense it. Creeping upon him, like vines upon strong walls of an old mansion, refusing to crumble to the storms it has weathered. He closed his eyes, and laid his head back upon the cushion of his seat. He would continue to live, as long as he could, but the day will come.
He was proud of what Isaiah and Reveler had become, but the road that he had led them on haunted the corners of his mind still. Outside of this deep, dark underworld, perhaps both the boy and girl could have found a much better life than the ones they led now. He stifled a sigh. Their futures were theirs to forge. An old man like him could ill be expected to care for what they did. He had long let go of their hands, and let them free. It was not his place to advise them now.
He gathered his thoughts and put them back in a small box in the corner of his mind as the car began to slow. Opening his eyes slowly, he watched as Isaiah gathered his equipment from around the car, and invited him outside. Saying nothing, Kairong exited the vehicle, sweeping his crimson changpao around him, and folded his arms behind his back. He cast a look around the Pleasure District, the eyes behind his glasses barely registering the presence of the women in the area.
A voice called to them, and he felt the corners of his mouth twitch ever so slightly at being called ‘old man Kairong’. While a fact, it was not one to be said, and there was even less reason to use it as a nickname. He arranged his attention to be paid towards the owner of the voice- Meirin. He turned to Isaiah, and nodded his head, as if to indicate that he was going forth to approach Meirin. Before he could open his mouth to reprimand their attendant, he was interrupted by another new arrival.
The girl--no. She was Reveler now. Neither Isaiah nor Reveler were children any more. They were self-made members of the Dragons. He had to remind himself of that. Though she addressed him informally, he allowed it. It was an affectionate term that he would rather she go without at a time like this, but he could ‘let it slide’, as the youth were wont to say. “Reveler, it does the heart well to see you hale and healthy,” he greeted her with a slight bow.
“I do not think I will,” he remarked in response to Reveler’s questions, a curious smile curling upon his lips, and a curiouser sparkle that could be seen even from behind his near-opaque glasses. “I am afraid that my eyes do not see as well, and my ears do not hear as well. I will do everything that I am able to to assist in this investigation, but ultimately, it is up to you, Isaiah, and Meirin to uproot this mendacious menace that crawls upon the Dragon’s feet.” He would not allow it to be so easy for them. This would be another lesson for them- to never rely too much on those who would leave one day. He glanced again towards Isaiah. “After all, we have an Ace amongst us. His expertise and station far surpasses this old dragon’s. Hah hah hah.”
It wasn’t to say that he would be absent from the proceedings of today. No. Reveler was right about one thing- he had done this many times before. Whatever it was that crept in the Dragon’s shadow, he will bring it to swift justice, just as he had done many times before, at the behest of his own Queen. “If I could proffer a suggestion: it would do us good to remind ourselves that there are no friends here, now. Leave no questions unasked, no stone unturned.” He paused, before he stretched out one hand towards Isaiah. “Now, come. What shall we do first, Isaiah?”
He nodded along with Matchsticks’ explanation. Yeah, money could be a powerful motivator. He supposed if he was hard up for cash that would be a good enough reason. It was too bad that money couldn’t buy what he needed.
"Say when are the next batch of lab rats coming anyways?"
He tilted his head to the side as he tossed in the last chemicals for this batch, wondering himself.
“If I had to guess? Knowing Yuudai and Tri are on it? Hmm, won't even last the night before we have Warehouse Alpha crawling with rats.”
He let out a sigh seeing Vice nearly drop the shit as he scrambled to respond. Annoying, but understandable. Wasn’t like the dude spent that much time around Lab Icarus. He could only imagine how desperate the crew was to pull in amateurs, himself included. Still, he couldn’t hold back a Tt at the title drop.
“Oi, Vice. Drop it. Snake will do fine.”
He didn’t know how to feel when people who’d come in around the same time kept acting so damn deferential. It would be another story entirely if he’d earned it but the title did nothing but irritate his soul. He watched as Matchsticks went into quick rescue mode, even if he suspected it was less to help and more to be done with it.
“Are we really going to be able to make enough like this…? I brought a blanket in case we gotta be here all night but…”
“We're not going to sleep until we fulfill today's quota, and we're not even a quarter through with it. If you want to sleep, then you can go sleep in a casket because the only time you'll sleep today is when you're dead."
Refreshing that he thought he could boss them around while Snake was one of the people coming to his rescue with the shortages. Then again he was partially directly responsible for the shortage of people. He’d overloaded, what three scientists this week? They’d irritated him and were worth more as test subjects than anything else… But it did make him partially directly responsible for Matchsticks’ headache.
Not to mention the fact that he’d HP’d Delynn and she still wasn’t really adjusted yet.
“OI MATCHY lighten up. Just blame any shortages on me. ‘Sides we can round up a few more bodies.”
He took out his phone, cutting the fire as he finished his latest batch. A quick text to Tomi would fix all their problems. He’d scare enough rookies to fill seats at the very least.
“There. New batch of bodies, coming up. Hope you don’t mind some more rookies.”
It started as a whisper, a part of her mind calling out to the rest to feel that rush, the onset of pure bliss. It was a feeling she had been grappling with for several weeks now, a sensation that almost overpowered every aspect of her. It was like living with a second version of yourself constantly wanting to burst up and onto the surface. While it frightened her she also felt a sort of release in it, to know that everything was falling away to let out something she always knew was hidden away but was ever-present. It was deadly, wrathful, and drove her to do things she didn’t entirely think herself capable of. It was that voice, the call of pure chaos, pure energy, and she needed it.
Delynn hadn’t noticed the others had walked away from her, she had been staring down at her car for a solid minute before feeling the sensation surge up from within her once more. She gasped at the sensation and before she could push it down her hand gripped the energy port of her car. Having been modified, the car immediately discharged a good portion of its stored energy into her body, causing her hair to stand up and her clothes to shimmer for a moment. Even with their insulating properties, the material seemed to give before her body stabilized the contained energy.
Visibly shuddering her whole body lit up like a Christmas tree for a split second, the muck at her feet sizzling and spreading out, driven away by the EM waves emanating off her. Eyes wide open the deed was done, her mind was racing and she wanted to see what she could do. Even with all the energy Delynn still felt herself in control, albeit like riding and controlling a raging bull. She willed herself to turn and began to follow the others, picking up her own pace to catch up no longer having to deal with the sticky muck that disgusted the others. There was however the sizzling sound each time she stepped.
Catching up to them she caught the trail end of Kisara complaining about the muck. She saw the woman put away her phone and thought about speaking up but the chaotic side of her mind kept her quiet. Part of her wanted to let her know about her phone, but the other half… the louder half wanted to see what would happen if she tried to use it again with her this close to her and charged up. At last, she blurted something out, forcing the words up before the other half could stamp them down. “They won't be able to dial out.” She said through gritted teeth.
Being driven forward Delynn walked past the others, nodding to them each as best she could before walking up to the door “Watch the exits if you want, I am going to terrify them.” Delynn said through gritted teeth. Slowly opening the door she gazed around, her eyes settling on what she was looking for. Sliding the butter knife out of her pocket she walked over towards the socket and jammed it into the electrical outlet. Immediately she felt the energy surge into her body causing her momentary pain.
Walking back the intense feeling she began to push the surge of electricity back into the socket. Immediately the socket popped violently as the lit-up dredge of a building began to spark, lightbulbs popping and outlets bursting violently. “LIGHTS OUT!” She screamed into the darkness as she stepped away from the outlet. By this point, she was charged with enough electricity that she was actively twitching and shimmering light. In the darkness, a faint outline of her could be seen by those huddling in the darkness.
Painful, that is the word Charlie would find most accurate to describe the sight he's been contemplating for the last few hours, streets torn asunder and damaged buildings as far as the eye could see. The legendary HQ of the Scarlet Phoenixes was now a shadow of its former self, and the Rookie could only wonder how it looked in the past. Part of him wished he had joined them a few months earlier, if only to get even the most fleeting glimpse of it.
Then again, there was little point in pondering about what ifs, as a member of the phoenixes Charlie was determined he would do his part to bring back the HQ to it's former glory. Fortunately his potentiality was perfect for the job, as he was tasked with carrying roughly one hundred large wooden beams, locating them next to the assigned buildings in need for repairs. And so he diligently started his task, carrying a few beams at a time, making sure to not slap anything or anyone with a sudden turn.
After a couple hours of the same repeated act, Charlie concluded he was grateful he had skipped on working out this morning, as several sweatdrops trailed down his face and his breathing got heavier. He took off his jacket and tied it around his waist, the chilly fall wind hitting his body and cooling it down, it was also at that moment that he noticed a storm of rubble rising up, a piece of garbage hitting his face at high velocity. If this was someone's work, it was Ziz's, she was probably left by herself again and ended up causing trouble, but Charlie couldn't possibly get mad at her, she was such a fun friend to be around with! Either way he prepared for the last delivery.
It was the biggest of them all, around seven of the beams had to be carried to a former bar that was due to complete rebuilding, all of them together weighting around a ton. It was a bit uncomfortable to carry, but manageable. As he approached the crumbling bar he noticed the others had gathered there as well, even Miss Lyric, who apparently was taking care of the demolition on her own.
“Hi! I was told to deliver these beams at this location, Miss Lyric, do you need any help with that?” Asked Charlie as he dropped the wooden beams on the ground, causing a loud thud.
“Eh -? A runner like him doesn’t deserve the first option!”
Ruriko retorted when she heard Kanna from above. Despite the two of them getting along quite well, they did have their differences in specific situations - this being one of them. Either way, whoever this fucker was, he was not innocent at all. If he was, why would he be running away from a trio of Dragons in the first place? Had it been the earlier years before she joined the gang, she would have taken this guy down without hesitation. Unfortunately, there were rules that needed to be followed and that required confirming the man’s innocence or guilt before delivering punishment. Oh well.
Her eyebrows furrowed when the suspect addressed the Guardian as Jesper. Shit - wait, was that her fault? She did call out to him during their chase but she assumed their target must have been scared shitless to even overhear! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Now they really needed to follow with the second option, Jesper’s identity was a vital piece of information after all. As she watched him shrug and bring his hand up to his mouth, she waved a slight gesture to close the link she had created earlier to corner him.
When he responded to the trio, Ruriko blinked for a split second in confusion. Three? There was no third option - huh? Her gaze quickly followed him as he jumped in the air. What the hell was going on? First this fucker gave them a good chase and now he was capable of flight?
“What a twist - the third option is also the second option -!”
With a grin, she quickly waved both hands to prevent his escape, creating a portal right in front of him and another one at Kanna’s height for him to drop through.
Kanna Katsura - Azure Dragons - Jack [CS LINK] Scene - Dragons Arc 1 | Scene 4: Reckoning Location - East District Mentions/Interactions - Jesper/Guardian (AriAriAbabwa
), Ruriko Ikeda (Beann
Kanna raised an eyebrow as the unknown man uttered Jesper's name.
Unless he was nearby when Ruriko said it out loud, there was no feasible way for him to know Guardian's real identity. The only other plausible explanation would be that there was in fact, some sort of breach within the security of the district, or within the Dragons themselves. It was clear that this man knew things and had answers. Kanna intended to get them out of him.
Before she could say anything, Kanna watched as the suspect put something into their mouth before retorting and jumping into the air. Her eyes followed as they attempted to fly off, but Ruriko was quick to react, creating a portal in front of them and redirecting the suspect right back to Kanna.
As they reappeared from the exit portal, Kanna vaulted over the railing, grabbing him in a complex jiujitsu hold. Immediately, the two fell back down to the ground with an audible thump as Kanna increased both her own and the man's gravity.
Once on the ground, Kanna returned her gravity to normal, shifting so that the man was laying on his stomach and pulled his hands behind his back. She knelt beside him as she held him down at the wrists, maintaining the physical connection. The weight of gravity bore down on the man, keeping him restrained to the floor.
Kanna's eyes looked up towards Ruriko.
"Perhaps you were right."
The Jack of the Dragons looked back down at their captive, a dagger-like glare in her eyes, but no words left her mouth as she noticed the red stain on the man's lips. Kanna looked back to where Guardian was.
"Guardian, could you take some pictures of him for me, please?"
While Guardian was busy with that, Kanna attempted to search the man for anything identifying. A phone would be ideal, but anything would suffice. While she did that, she addressed him.
"It's not too late to cooperate. But if you continue to resist, I have no problem dealing with you here and now."
The East District home to most of the Azure Dragons and in one of its numerous alleys and streets a small little book shop was being locked up by Omar. Most normal people had nest eggs and pensions while Omar had a book shop. Omar received a text and will eventually be on his way to the meet spot as he double checks that he locked everything and that no one was inside the shop but nowadays no one bothers going to a book shop for a book cause all of it is now digital. Omar lets out a sigh as he checks the blue duffel bag to make sure he has his gear. The unusual metal pumpkin mask, a war pick, extra black gloves and a good book to read. Omar mutters out loud. "Good nothing missing."
Omar began his trek to the meeting point all the while reading his book. Passing other various pedestrians, listening to his surroundings and side stepping ever so slightly to avoid potential collisions that could prevent him from reading his book. Omar would make his way to the meet spot and based on the sounds of an extra pair of foot steps. Seems like Omar was not alone but before Omar would surprise his would be attacker did he hear the voice of Lorrin at which Omar replies back by reading a line from his book out loud. "The Raven caws before shouting to the Fat Cat CAW! CAW! I will never say that word! Which the Fat Cat replies back with glee Nevermore...Nevermore." Omar would look at Lorrin before looking back at his book as Omar replies."Refer to me as the Librarian as walls have ears and eyes. Back to your question, The Librarian saw nothing during my travel here but hears the idle gossip of people like how the Changs and Zous are going to have a Bachelor party and Bachelorette party for the Groom and Bride. Make what you will with this gossip."
From the left came the growing sound of dress shoes clacking on pavement. "Auuuughhh, come on, Lorrin! You know I live far!" Enter Caomei, hunched over and out of breath, her palm against the wall. She huffed as she recuperated. "Oooookay. Okay!"
It was around twenty minutes ago that she received a text from her queen, instructing her and two other members to patrol around the Zone 2 of the East District. Mm, yeah, it's all about that order, baby. These bridges were the link between the North and the East District, and the patrol squad was to keep an eye on the people crossing, those from the North District among them, and the Serpents among them. Though the latter two orders were never really explicitly made, wonder where they came from.
Looking up, she was met with the two members she would be working with today. Omar Ayad, whose eccentricity she was plenty familiar with, and Lorrin Yumi, a greener face, but one that she loved as much as the rest. Her Not-Quite-Family, the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, but the saying doesn't really apply to a situation wherein you're more or less forced to stick with the coven.
"Hey!" She grinned at the two men, waving her free hand.
"So what were we-? Oh, right. Anything out of the ordinary? No, I don't think so." She mused, yeah, no, not a single suspicious individual (by her standards) from Zone 3 to the Dragons' HQ. Which in and of itself could be considered suspicious, she supposes. The East District seemed organized and peaceful as always, and upholding it was on today's, and every day's to-do.
Hearing the call of a familiar voice, Isaiah turned to see Meirin waving in the distance. It seemed like she was already hard at work, questioning someone as they stood in the shade cast by one of flowering trees. He followed Kairong to greet the Sleeping Giant, giving her some time to finish up with the worker before speaking.
As he joined Meirin beneath the blooming branches, the stone-like expression on Isaiah's face melted away, now replaced by the same small smile he'd shown Kairong earlier. "It's good to see you again, Meirin. I hope you've been well." He was truly glad to have her as a member of the investigation team, but it wasn't just because she was suited for the task. He was always concerned about the safety of the girls who worked in the brothels, so he greatly appreciated everything she did to make the Pleasure District a better place. Maintaining the peace was a job that all Dragons shared, but she had a much closer relationship with the workers than most. He felt more at ease knowing someone like her was always looking out for them.
Isaiah waited for Kairong to speak, but before the man could get a word out, they were approached by the final member of their team. The moment Reveler stopped in front of him and their mutual benefactor, the smile on his face widened. "Yes, it's good to see you looking well." Agreeing with Kairong, he greeted the blonde woman with a nod. He was glad to see her with a grin on her face and a sparkle in her azure eyes, not hiding how overjoyed she was to have all three of them in one spot. It had been a while since they came together like this, and it brought back fond memories of the two years he spent learning how to serve tea. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time to enjoy the reunion. That would have to wait until they finished their investigation.
He listened closely to the answer Kairong gave Reveler. If they were fortunate, they'd be able to get information by relying on the connections they had in the Pleasure District. However, nothing was ever easy in their line of work. Like the elder said, they had to be ready to exhaust all their options. He agreed with him on that point, but he wasn't so sure about his other remark.
Isaiah may have been the Ace now, but the only things that had changed since his promotion were his status and responsibilities. He acted the same as always, doing everything in his limited power to accomplish the missions given to him by the King and Queen. He still believed Kairong had more expertise than him, but he'd do his best to live up to the man's expectations.
"We should start by questioning the staff. I'm certain that one of them knows something about what happened. Just keep in mind that everyone here is already cautious, so choose your words carefully. Although, if you'd rather not question them directly, I have another idea." He knew many people who worked in the Pleasure District, but those connections didn't guarantee a source of information. It was possible that nobody would be willing to answer questions. However, there were plenty of other ways to find out what they needed to know.
"I saw some of the girls whispering on the way here. It's possible that it was nothing more than normal gossip, but we might be able to find out something useful if we eavesdrop on their conversations. If I hide our presence, it should be easy to get close and listen in." His Potential wasn't very useful in combat, but it was perfect for situations like these. "If you'd like me to hide your presence or alter your appearance, either let me know now or send a message later. Even if we're apart, it should be fine as long as you're within range."
Removing his phone from his pocket, Isaiah made sure the ringer was turned off. "If you find something out or if something goes wrong, contact someone immediately. If you can't get in touch for some reason, meet back here." He didn't expect there to be any combat this time, but it never hurt to have a plan in case of an emergency. "Good luck, and remember to be careful."
Take a second. Realign. Focus. This was important.
They pulled out the laptop with shaky hands.
Layer. Firewall after firewall. Hidden browsers. Bouncing the IP through server after server.
Soon they felt their nerves burn away as they always did once they got into the groove.
Soon they were jumping through the server to server. Until they got access to the IP that- THERE.
Every monitor was now flickering with static as the feeds were cut off soon they were replaced by the glitchy image of a cobalt wolf.
“HEhEHe WElCoMe tO oUr ShOw”
The audio glitched in time to the wolves image before eventually evening out to a robotic and monotonal voice.
“BabyBlue signing in. Bye bye dragons.”
Once the voice ended it was clear their data was being breached.
Worse yet it was being broadcasted.
Endless pings sounded as the information began to upload to each phone in both East and Central. Anything connected to the circuit of the hacking. Names and faces were flashed along with any data the Dragons had kept on these members.
… Kanna Katsura- Gravity Manipulation, Personal Gravity Manipulation, Other Gravity Manipulation
“WE ARE THE COBALT WOLVES. YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN NEVER HIDE. WE ARE THE RESISTANCE. WE ARE THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.”
Return to Internet Cafe
The hacker left as the security was compromised.
The laptop used to break into the systems stashed away under a seat of the internet cafe as it continued to run its systems.
BabyBlue left looking no different than any other patron as they went. Quickly they slipped on a mask and made themselves less similar to the appearance they took for the cafe as they went into a nearby alley.
Only with the slice of a drone and security camera had anyone thought to look their way. Wielding a sword they quickly went cutting off the east from its visions. They brought up a hand to their ear as they clicked a button
The hooded figure descended from their spot above one of the buildings of the East district, slicing one of the cameras mounted nearby as the figure passed it on the path down. They were quick to run into alleys and around corners to hide as best they could as they ranked up a number of cameras down.
“Affirmative, Sector 2 down. Heading to the rendezvous point. - Lupine? Ways clear. Headed west.”
The amber alerts started to pour in as the information was leaked to everyone in the radius.
The sound of a Patrol that sounded entirely too chipper for their tastes stopped them in their tracks. They brought themselves close to the walls as they waited counting the individual dragons in the place.
One, two, three… was that all there was?
They took a quick dash into a side alley as their scythe was trailed along the ground as they attempted to get the attention of the group.
They would stall them as they prowled around the group.
“Lupine, BabyBlue, Monarch, we have a situation. Approach with caution.”
A whisper and then they were scaling the building again with two quick jumps. With a better vantage she grinned at she brought the phone up to compare.
“We’re in luck… BabyBlue got us a name and a face. Caomei Hua- Fireworks generation active in sector 3.”
"I dont need to try for a common delinquent," he muttered long after Ruriko's enthusiastic remark. And to be honest, Jesper only walked because it looked cool.
“Is it against the law to run around in the evening? Man, the Dragons sure are serious, aren’t they Jesper?”
Hearing the name from the stranger's mouth threw him for a loop. The shock was noticeable on Guardian, stunning it for just the right time for the runner to attempt escape; his companions handled the situation perfectly by themselves. In the surveillance room, Jesper rolled his eyes, recalling the shout of his name earlier. "Ruri~" it groaned. "Now this random thug knows something he's not supposed to." Guardian's robotic voice came more in the tone of a whiny kid. "I was acting all cool and everything!"
Nevertheless, they got the guy, who even had the audacity to accuse them of chasing down an innocent man. He certainly didn't sound innocent. Guardian knelt down at the incapacitated delinquent. "Running around is one thing. Running away is another." The manifestation smiled at him. "And… at my companion's own fault, you heard something you weren't supposed to, so either way, today's becoming longer than either of us would have liked." This minor excursion became more annoying than Jesper expected.
Well, they'd deal with it somehow, even if it meant him not seeing sunrise again. Guardian clapped its hands. "Job done. I guess we should—"
Guardian froze, and its smile faltered. Its red pupils darkened and stared wide down the alleyway, like one would when dozing off. "That's not a good sign..." were its first words, uttered quietly and just as grave. The headset suddenly spiked with a screech that even the nearby three could faintly hear, bringing Guardian to its knees and clutching its ears. Dozens of voices crying out, then silencing. It winced and grit its teeth. The noises continued for at least half a minute, and as it quieted for a moment, Jesper finally said, "Not good... Not good."
Guardian whipped its gaze to each of its companions, donning an unusually dead serious look. "Keep this guy tied!" With that, the drones jolted a moment as their programming reverted to normal; Guardian rose to its feet, crossing its arms like a pharaoh. It dissipated into pixels, then nothingness. The drones readjusted their aim on the stranger, now running on automated commands.
Jesper was not one for physical fitness. The Guardian manifested eliminated the need for stamina, hence the perfect job for him, who enjoyed nothing more than to lounge around in the comforts of his basement. His "man-cave" was practically his home inside his actual home. He did everything from there, even using his Potentiality to appear as his own body when needed.
So when Tina Smith, the Albrecht's maid, saw the basement door swing open and a panicked Jesper on his own two feet, she thought she was dreaming. However, it didn't take long for his cries and requests to get to her.
≫ ──── ««•◦ ✪ ◦•»» ──── ≪
"Emergency!" Jesper burst into the surveillance room, disheveled and coughing for air. Much to the many witnesses' surprise, he was running towards those he knew to be here. He leaned on his knees, just barely able to make out Yo and Kasumi through his long bangs. "Things… Bad things… happening…" He stumbled through, taking coarse breaths between his words. "Drones… going gone… Cameras… all static-y..."
Earlier in his basement, Jesper tried all he could to access the drones and key cameras he set up. Sometimes he got through, only to be immediately forced out and unable to hop back in. What he needed was the proper surveillance room, which connected to the rest of the system. "The monitors... bring me to them..." Jesper finally straightened himself up, and the two could see the genuine worry in his eyes.
Betrayal. That was the same name given to what he had done on that fateful night. Robin wondered what other similarities they would find tonight. Perhaps that's why they put him on the job of investigating it, despite it being only a few days since his joining. Perhaps they expected him to know what signs to look for in order to discern the truth. The twenty-one year-old on the other hand, felt it was way too soon for him to be on the field. On top of that, this mission hit a little too close to home for a tragedy that he had gone through only a few weeks ago. Still, his employers were his saviors. There was no way he could let them down. The recent past had been a whirlwind of events and emotions, and it seemed like there was no sign of that stopping.
"Are you ready to go, Miss Meirin?" he asked when the woman stepped out of her sister's room. The ex-brothel-worker had been graciously provided lodgings by the woman in the House of Eternal Night. She even allowed him to stay free of charge, but, although he couldn't get himself to do sex work again, Robin did assist in cleaning and upkeep wherever he could. The change was somewhat overwhelming. He went from staying perfectly in line with his previous manager to suddenly not having to worry about being struck. He found himself with freedom to go out on his own for the first time and was given luxuries like a fully functional smartphone and unrestricted access to the Internet. Only after being free of his old manager and his old pleasure house did Robin realize just how much he had missed out on in his life.
As the two stepped out of the House of Night, he watched as his benefactor greeted any of the people they passed by. Robin, on the other hand, found himself shrinking inwards, once again taking note of the similarities between tonight and the night his life changed. The tension and panic among those he walked past brought about flashbacks, and he thought he could almost feel their gazes falling on him, assuming he was a repeat offender being once again escorted by a Dragon as opposed to working with one.
He blinked his hazel eyes as the woman surprised a staff member by tickling him. Apparently it was a way for her to lead into her questioning, but whether it was successful or not wouldn't be known since someone else caught her interest before she could get any sort of information. He followed along as they approached an elderly man and a man who didn't look to be much older than Robin himself. It wasn't much longer when a woman with hair lighter than his own approached as well.
The rookie stayed silent, eventually able to infer that they were all colleagues, and fairly close ones at that. They talked about doing things "the hard way" or the "not-so-hard way" and not thinking of anyone as a friend, which made Robin wonder what tricks they had up their sleeves and just how steeled their nerves were. He blinked when the title of Ace was mentioned, and his eyes drifted to the black-haired man. Robin had was already unsure of himself before, being sent on a mission so early, but after learning it would be with the Dragons' Ace, he really felt out of his depth.
It was the Ace who eventually took a leadership role among the group, suggesting they question those around first and make sure to not press too hard for inspiration. A curious look appeared one Robin's face when the man mentioned altering appearances and hiding presences. He assumed it was his potentiality but had no idea the exact workings of it. Robin opened his mouth to speak but stopped before any words came out. Instead he somewhat hesitantly raised his hand and waited until eyes fell on him.
"Erm... apologies if this will be... redundant," he said, "but... I, too, can alter my appearance for a duration of time. If you have a photograph of anyone related to the case who you think may garner information from people, please let me see it. I'll be able to take on their form for a few hours." That being said, he was only basing this idea off of a decoy operation that he saw on in a murder mystery on TV. The detectives in the show even went on to shock the truth out of the culprit by presenting a decoy of the victim, alive and well, to them. Robin wasn't so sure how well that would translate to the real world though, nor whether they knew already who all was involved in the case, but maybe it could be useful in the future.
Before he could get a response though, Robin felt the smartphone in his pocket buzz. He fished it out and looked at the screen, noticing messages with a picture, names, potentialities, and other information. Coincidentally, the first message was of him. "Oh... erm, is this a way for people to get to know the new recruits?" he asked, holding the phone screen up to show the others.
A betrayal— the worst kind in a death. No doubt an information leak followed suit along with the loss of a member.
Yo has been exhaustingly researching since she had caught wind of a possible mole, but it hasn’t been set in stone until mention of a death. Two days. No sleep.
It probably was visible on her face.
She took a second to peek at her phone for any new messages, seeing the group chat that she sent to Zone 2 for patrol. That text said:
“Civilians may be unsettled by the disruptions we’ve had lately. Please go meet up outside of HQ and make a patrol around Zone 2, and keep a special eye on those bridges. Don’t let anyone suspicious just leave.”
By now, she hoped they were getting started shortly.
Not everyone knows the depth of the betrayal in fear that it went deeper. She kept it to those who should know.
Kasumi’s flinch was lost on Yo. In fact, Yo was unaware that any of the Dragons were afraid of her. What was there to be afraid of?
As Kasumi continued, Yo listened without tearing her eyes from the screens.
Silence for a moment as Yo contemplated her response.
“I would agree. If the patrol groups fall of screen, we’ll know that might be a blind spot. Information could be passed off if people were to home in on that and we’d be almost none the wiser.”
As the conversation moved to the chase, Yo absent-mindedly rubbed at a horn, “I’m hoping they aim for capture and not a kill. It would be the most ideal. As far as we are currently aware, he didn’t do anything to warrant getting killed.” For now.
Two people were leaving the Pleasure district, hand in hand, right before the monitors fritzed out, each screen replaced by a staticky wolf face.
Yo immediately snapped to attention, shooting Shen (Elenion Aura
) a text to send backup and with her voice raised, “Cipher! Can you stop them?”
The Queen wasn’t as tech savvy as Jesper and Kasumi. There’s no way she could stop someone attacking their digital space.
Her phone pinged. The whole room filled with noise from the phones and any systems that were capable of broadcasting. Yo cringed.
Panic filled her chest but she took a deep breath. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. She was the Queen— she could stay visibly calm. Getting her nerves back in line, she took a deep breath.
Yo got out of Kasumi’s way, stepping away from the monitors. She took to her phone, fingers tapping at the screen to send out orders.
Just then Jesper bound into the room, out of breath. She looked up from her phone, “Thank goodness! Yes, go! Go! Work with Cipher!” Yo was being careful with names just in case of any compromises… the extent of what was stolen was currently unknown. They may not know until after the attack.
Entering The Reckoning
Leaving the Pleasure District were two people, hand in hand. The woman, she was short, wearing the gorgeous attire that fit a brother worker. She was holding a man’s hand. The man had medium-length, brown hair. The woman’s face was smiling brightly as she pointed at the gorgeous flowering trees that they passed under.
A brief moment of surprise came to him when he passed through the portal, only to get smashed into by the girl up by the fire escape.
Thankful for his current flight ability, he didn’t immediately drop. No… what made him start falling to the ground was Kanna grabbing him and making him fall to the ground. No way to reach into his pockets.
The crash to the ground caused a grunt from him, which he followed with a click of his tongue. A kind of fall that could severely injure someone without the enhancements that a person with a Potential had.
Something caused a smile to come to his face regardless of the Guardian being menacing to him.
Kanna may have found a piece of something raw in a pocket of his. Raw, bloody, some kind of meat. And just in that same moment, the phones started broadcasting Dragon information.
Then Guardian left!
A laugh bounced around in his chest before saying, “So here I am with the mighty Kanna sitting on my back. An honor if I do say so myself.” He stopped for a minute before spouting a seemingly random fact, “Did you know that bats can hurt human hearing?”
He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. At least, nothing a normal human ear could pick up, where the frequency was way too high… but the decibels were definitely damaging enough.
Very soon, the sound would put pressure on Kanna and Ruriko’s ear drums to the point that they should hurt. Once that would happen, the man would be forcing himself up and away from the hold, but not before aiming a punch towards Kanna’s face.
Boredom was about to be a deadly killer, but the mistress of monotony was scared away as Akane walked in the door. Wouldn’t be Alex’s first pick, but the ability to look like someone else(even if Alex didn’t know the full extent) would be useful. Between her, and the others knew would be coming as he rechecked his phone allowed him to start planning. Reaching down he grabbed his bag off the floor and took an inventory of its insides.
“Some things, here and there, Akane. And they shouldn’t be long.” Alex’s tone was slightly dismissive of the shapeshifter, obviously, he was lost in his head. Then the overly expensive car pulled up outside, causing Alex to grin. “Look Akane, we have shiny bait!” Then Helva and her shadow puppet walked in, not his favorite person(s?) in the gang, but he understood their skills and could make use of them one way or another. Perhaps it would be overly obvious but Alex kept a malicious grin on his face while looking past what he considered the two Helvas to their Lambo.
Alex’s view, however, was blocked as he suddenly saw the thief bird that had received his sponsorship. Nina, oh yes, they shared a dangerous brain cell to their work. But that was fine, as long as she showed self-control. As the bird-woman pressed a talon to the glass Alex found himself staring her down, then sighing in relief as something made her stop and enter the normal way. “Nina… I’m glad you’re thinking more!” Alex could only offer a smile because there wasn’t enough time to explain things to the bird woman and other things needed to be done. Alex was going to make sure the waiter accused by Nina would get a good tip as well.
Things were starting to shape up with the last two arrivals, Alex laughing as Hide walked in and gulped down the lemonade. “No clean up here. Potentially taking out the trash though.” Alex spoke almost as if talking about a game, but with the veterans he had here, the Phoenix Jack was rather confident. However, with the last member of this team showing up Alex was more than certain the mission would go off without a hitch. Catching the burger thrown by Hector Alex pulled his bag onto the table.
“Okay, we’re finally all here! Anyone else will just have to call one of us.” Alex looked across the table at everyone. “I’m sure you’ve heard the mixed stories about whom we’re after, I figure it’s one of two things: Either a group or a chimeric potential possessor. One way or another, we’re gonna have a great time!” Alex pumped his fist in the air like a bad HR representative as he started pulling radios out of his bag and passing them to each person there, followed by an earpiece to link to the radios. Placing a couple of one hundred dollars on the table, Alex got up from his chair and downed the rest of his drink.
“So, here’s the game plan: Helva and Helva, with your overpriced car you are going to be bait. Nina, you’re our eyes in the sky, our scout, I’m trusting you. Hector, you’re Ace, I’m leaving you to your own devices and asking you to take Akane with you. Hide, you’re with me. Everyone keep the radio I gave you on and listening. We’re going to spread out and report in everything. If you have any questions, call me over the radio!” With that, Alex gave a knowing glance at Hide and starting towards the door.
Akane's eyes narrowed at the Jack's response. She decided just to brush it off and focus on something else, expecting one of the later arrivals to have more information. As she pulled out her phone though, she looked up from it once again when Alex called out about bait.
"I thought you didn't steal from the South?" she asked with a raised brow, although when Helva stepped out of it, she added on with a smirk, "I feel like this is an acceptable exception." Soon the newcomer took a seat at the table with Zuulin in tow. The "Shadow Friend" of hers decided to make a funny face at Akane, which only earned him a scowl and an eyeroll from the woman. How childish. Although, if she remembered correctly, this one was the one with the strongest penchant for killing. What an odd juxtaposition.
Another Phoenix appeared outside the window, this one was fitting the description a lot more literally. Nina, the winged woman, found herself staring through the glass window for a moment and taking on a pose like she planned on jumping through. The smirk returned to Akane's face as she eagerly awaited what would happen. To her disappointment though, the bird brain ended up doing the not-so-bird-brained thing and using the door to enter.
"You were eyeing a certain car just a second ago..." she muttered to Alex's response to the bird woman.
Akane wouldn't be left without the chaos she craved though, as Nina knocked over a few things on her way. And then she decided to order foot. Not a plate of it though, or even a box to go, but just a sack full of raw ingredients. Six potatoes and a big cheese. The black-haired woman had to stifle a laugh at the waiter's confusion. "What do you plan on doing with that?" she asked with a grin.
Hide was the next one to step in. He had a mood sour enough to rival Akane's own when she first arrived. He took a big swig of the drink before even speaking, making the woman wonder if it was supposed to be spiked or something. Just like her, he was straight to the point, going on to complain about the clean up they had had to do ever since the storm hit. Akane couldn't disagree. Honestly, the two were quite similar despite having opposing outlooks on their affiliation.
Rounding out their chaotic crew was Hector, who decided to bring a bag of fast food into a restaurant. He earned glares from the staff but only an amused smile from Akane. "How generous~," she said, eyeing the small bag of fries the man brought with him. "One fry for each of us~!" She decided to follow the snark up with generosity of her own and didn't partake.
Alex then shared the intel he had. It seemed it wasn't much more than she knew on her own. "Has anyone ever heard them talk?" she questioned. "Even if the voices are different, the person may be a shapeshifter if all the people have the same speech pattern." She would know, being a shapeshifter herself, and knowing this may prevent an ambush.
Her eyes narrowed once again as the Jack gave instructions to everyone. Her gaze shifted to Hector, who she didn't particularly dislike anymore than anyone else in the group but felt Alex's wording made her seem like the liability out of the duo. The two were both technically her superior though, so she would comply. She put the earpiece in and turned on the radio as instructed before stowing it in her pocket. "Well then," she said, turning to Hector. "Where should we search first?"
“Good evening Omar I see your performance is as entertaining as ever, I’m sure you will for sure win this year’s poultry contest with flying colors.” Lorrin looked over at his partner with a sassy smirk on his face. He would then shake his head with a sigh, “That’s great for them don’t know what will do with that information but hey it’s something.” Lorrin then turned his attention to the sound of dress shoes and heavy breathing to see Caomei “I’m pretty sure I’m at least around the same distance away and I still beat you here.” He replied to her in a cocky tone. “Well, I guess we best get started then we should probably start by setting up some sort of watch over the bridge while one of us keeps an eye on the rest of the zone” Soundly the sound of a bunch of phones started going off everywhere. That was odd was there some sort of announcement going on pulling out his phone Lorrin would scroll throw his phone seeing three names and potentiality’s show up on the screen one of which being Caomei? “Camoei your not going to like this.” He holds up his phone showing her. “Seems like we have a security breach all the more reason to keep our heads up for anything unusual.” He would glance up towards the alley as the sound of a large blade hit the ground and some figure passed by. “Watch my back.” he gestured towards that direction drawing his handgun as he looked around that figure couldn’t have gone far. Taking a moment to think and listen to his surrounding he would hear the sound of some debris falling to the ground, and if they are not within immediate view that must mean. Lorrin would immediately aim up at the roof “Whoever you are I suggest you get down from there and surrender yourself, do so and maybe we will be kind in our questing.”
Vincent had been looking forward to the ride into Central with Lucy and Reina ever since being told he was going with the two of them. Oh and Dante or whatever he was cosplaying as today was there too... whatever. Vincent had planned on spending the whole ride flirting with the two women. The Tiger Queen and Ace, together, alone with him - more or less - for the whole time it took to reach their destination. He couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. To get information out of them, or at least push the gap between himself and them closed a little bit more. Vincent didn't want to have to fight either of them down the line, so if he could plant seeds now to begin to divide the Tiger leadership away from the King, when he went for Markus it would make things that much easier. He put on his best smile and opened his mouth to begin working on the pair. "So Luce wh-"
The Tiger Queen in the driver's seat floored her vehicle from park and tore onto the road, slamming Vincent against the back window so hard he almost bit off his tongue. Ten seconds into his first taste of Lucy's driving and Vincent wanted to beg her to stop the car and let him drive. Or literally anyone else. They could pick up a drugged-out rat from a dumpster and Vincent expected it to be a better driver than the insane blonde currently "driving", if you could even call throwing a vehicle in the general direction of their destination and just expecting everything in the way to move in time driving. Vincent wasn't entirely sure, what with half of his brain dedicated to constantly screaming, but he thought he managed to not actually say any of his mental insults about Lucy's driving out loud. The fact that he didn't bite his tongue a second time during the trip suggested he'd kept his mouth firmly shut the entire ride. Even over the bridge into Central when he'd been close to throwing the door open and jumping. But mercifully, in no small part due to Lucy's reckless driving, they managed to reach their destination in record time.
Vincent staggered out of the car. Good god woman, how much did you pay in bribes to get ahold of that license? He hadn't even thought it was possible for him to get motion sickness. He could fly for fucks sake! The Tiger Queen was truly a foe he couldn't underestimate. Vincent almost puked but managed to hold it in and covered the motion as him just yawning out of boredom. He followed after Lucy alongside Dante. The guy looked intimidating in that skin he was wearing. And then he went and ripped his sleeves off and ruined the look. Whatever. He'd figured out why he and Dante had come along now. They just happened to look the part of big strong guys to look intimidating standing behind Lucy when she shook down the locals. That was more or less what Vincent figured. Again, it was whatever. He didn't mind playing a dumb role, especially if it meant he got to see at Lucy from behind the whole time. Terrible driver. Still fine as hell.
"Lead the way my queen," Vincent told Lucy with a confident smile. "If I see any red birds tonight I'll knock them out of the sky and have them gift wrapped before presenting them to you. Or we could leave that boring work to Dante and the two of us could cut loose. Not often an opportunity for a date night in Central comes up." Vincent winked at Lucy to imply he was joking. But everyone present knew he wasn't.
Considering how long Ruriko and Kanna have been in the gang together, she had full confidence in the smooth transition between their attacks. Both of their potentials were overwhelming in their own way so it would only be reasonable to train together to come up with even more overwhelming combinations! She watched with amusement in her eyes as Kanna reacted perfectly to her setup, using her gravity potential to send the target crashing down and then restraining him.
Ruriko offered Kanna a smirk, “of course I’m right - when am I not?”
Her gaze shifted to their target underneath Kanna, his red-stained lips causing her to raise an eyebrow. “So much for your third option, huh?” She sneered at him as she closed the portals that caused his fall in the first place. As she waited for Guardian to take pictures of the man, she reached into her pocket in response to the light vibration of her phone. Normally she wouldn’t get distracted by her device but since Kanna seemed to have the suspect under control, she assumed it would have been fine - besides, it might be important information from the King or Queen pertaining to their target.
She frowned as she looked at the contents of her phone. Multiple images and information appeared regarding members of the Azure Dragons. Most notably Kanna, Caomei, and Robin. Ruriko clenched her jaw as she stared at the pictures before turning her attention to Guardian who seemed to have picked up on whatever the hell was going on. She watched Guardian dissolve into pixels, leaving her and Kanna to deal with the guy. “What the fuck is this-?” Before she could turn her phone to show what was displayed on the screen, her ears started to ring in pain. “Ugh...fuck…” She took a step back, shoving her phone back in her pocket before bringing her hands up to cover her ears.
Whatever that...sound was...was it even a sound? Whatever the fuck it was offered the target a window of opportunity to wriggle out of Kanna’s grasp. She assumed he was going to use this chance to run away but instead the cocky fucker attempted to retaliate instead against Kanna. Gritting her teeth in pain, she did what she could to react in time, throwing out a portal in between his fist and Kanna, and another to the side of his face. His fist would go through the initial portal and out the other, punching himself.
“Oi - I know you’re a piece of shit but you really don’t gotta go punching yourself now!”
Somehow, Ezra managed to avoid recoiling when Titus grabbed him with his warm, clammy hands. Doing his best to keep a straight face, he nodded at the large man's request. He had his doubts that he actually recognized him, but it seemed like he got his attention. Normally, he'd shudder at the thought of attracting the socialite’s interest, but it made completing the mission much easier. It also would've damaged his confidence even further if he'd been ignored.
Having already given up on his idea, Ezra decided to do the same as Titus and follow Cassidy. She and the other girls already seemed to have a plan in the works, and he was unfortunately out of the loop. Right now, all he could do was let them lead while he tried not to ruin whatever they had in mind. Or at least that's what he thought.
"Oh? You two know each other? Surely you ought to play a game for old times sake!"
He felt his eye twitch a little when he heard Charmy speak. Miraculously, his expression remained the same, masking his confusion. Huh? What? Why did it feel like the baton was suddenly shoved into his hands? She likely said that to give Titus an extra push, but it also forced him to take the reins. What about their plan? There was a plan, right?
There was a spotlight on him now, and he could feel his earlier worries eating away at him again. He gave himself a good pep talk a while ago, but it was hard to get that kind of confidence back after losing it once. Even so, he tried his best to push through those feelings. This was the chance he'd been waiting for. If he didn't take it, there probably wouldn't be another one. He had to take the next step.
"I agree. I only hope that I can be a worthy game partner. My father is a much better card player, but I'm afraid he's not here tonight. Running a large corporation leaves him with little free time, but I'll be sure to pass along your message the next time I see him." Turning around, Ezra let out a deep, quiet breath, making sure Titus wouldn't notice. All he had to do was take it slow. He may not have been as charismatic as his siblings, but he spent plenty of time learning how to interact with people who belonged to the upper class.
Leading the group to an empty table, Ezra held out his hand, allowing Titus and his fellow Tigers to sit down first. "I hear you've been on a hot streak today, Mr. Latken. It's very impressive, but it must get boring playing the same thing over and over. That's why I'd like to invite you to play a special game, one where you can win it big in a short amount of time."
Grabbing a deck of cards, Ezra drew the one on top and held it up for Titus to see. "I'm sure a man like you already knows about War, but I'd like to explain it for the others, if you don't mind. Each player chooses a random card from the deck and compares it to the dealer's. As the name implies, the cards go to war and the one with the highest rank wins. Aces are ranked the highest, but for this game, one eyed jacks and suicide kings will be wild. Before comparing, we'll place bets and the winner will take the pot."
Tapping the back of the card in his hand, Ezra turned his attention to a nearby dealer. "Usually, the dealer is in charge of handing out the cards, but I'd prefer if we draw ourselves. I wouldn't want you to feel like you were being cheated if you were dealt a bad hand. I've had that thought myself sometimes, especially after a bad run of luck."
After shuffling the card back into the deck, Ezra placed it in the center of the table. He'd managed to get this far without messing things up, but next came the hard part. All he had to do was draw a card, but it became more complex when trying to use underhanded methods to win. Even when the outcome was based on pure luck, he had little faith in his ability to beat Titus. However, that was only if he played fair.
Tucked underneath his nails were tiny pieces of playing cards that he scratched off while fiddling with them. They were so small that nobody would notice them, but they were key to his victory. As he went to draw from the deck, he focused on one of those pieces and imagined it merging with the card it came from. As he kept that image in his head, one of the cards was drawn towards his fingertips, just like metal to a magnet. He pulled quickly and precisely, disguising what happened as an ordinary pull.
This was the plan he came up with after racking his brain for so long. If he used his Potential, he could draw a specific card whenever he wanted to. It was a little embarrassing that it took him so long to realize this was an option. He was sure the others planned on using their abilities as well, so they had a decent chance at pulling this off. If he was going to survive as a gang member, he had to start acting like one. If it meant he could survive and earn his stripes, he was willing to cheat.
"When all players have their cards, we'll place our bets. You don't have to worry about my finances when deciding, so play however you like. If there's one benefit to being born into a wealthy family, it's the ability to pay back my debts, no matter how high." Even if he won this hand, the mission wasn't over until he and the others took back everything Titus had won. He had to make sure the man kept betting, and he believed KnightCorp's coffers were good enough bait to reel him in.
Kasumi nodded at Yo's response. Poised and commanding, yet calm and collected. Kasumi had limitless amounts of respect for her and the other members of the Dragon leadership.
Kasumi felt herself relax a little as she returned her attention to the monitors. She stared at them, scanning through each camera again. Periodically, she checked up on those that were out on the field, making sure nothing was happening to them. When Kasumi moved to the camera that was showing the fight in the alley, she lingered for a moment, watching Kanna tackle the man back down the ground. She couldn't help but feel like a child, cheering her other half on.
A sharp pain suddenly spiked at the back of her neck and she winced, breaking her connection from the network. She was then greeted by the sight of the glitchy cobalt wolf. Kasumi froze up as she listened to the distorted voice.
As quickly as it started, the image faded as error messages began to appear on the screens. At the same time, Kasumi felt her phone go off. She took a look at it, her eyes widening in shock. On the screen, there was a massive list of data on different members within their gang, revealing their faces, names and their Potential. Kasumi's heart skipped a beat when she scrolled to the bottom of the list, seeing her twin's image staring right back at her. But it didn't stop. Her phone kept going off with no end in sight.
Then the realization hit her. This is being sent to everyone in the district!
Kasumi silenced her phone, tossing it to the side as Yo called out to her using her alias. It felt weird being called 'Cipher', but it was warranted.
"Yes ma'am, working on it now!"
She moved to take full control of the surveillance room. Before she dived, Kasumi heard the door slam open. She looked behind him, seeing Jesper. Out of breath and barely forming complete sentences, but Kasumi was glad he came down here. She ran back, picking Jesper up and help him over to the monitors.
"Help me retake control of the network. Once we get past that, you need to start wiping the leaked data from all the devices in the district. I'll help after I track down and disable the source of whatever is doing this."
Kasumi grabbed a chair and slid it over, in case Jesper wanted to sit down. Her attention moved back to the monitors as she reconnected to the network. The sharp pain from before returned for a brief moment, but Kasumi pushed past it as she began to break through the layers of security the hack had erected. On the screens, various windows began to pop up, displaying various technical data and progress bars.
In her mind, it was like she was playing a game. She could physically see the data streams, which were colored red, the security portrayed as giant metal walls. Kasumi pushed against every wall, cracks forming until it would shatter. It was hard on her own, but then she saw the data stream from Jesper enter and it soon became much easier to break through. Soon enough, they would regain control of the network.
Kasumi immediately began to hunt for the source of the hack, hopping around the network and following the corrupted data stream. At the same time, she scanned through what cameras were left to figure out where the physical location of the source was. It took a minute, but she eventually located the source, a laptop in an internet cafe. The laptop was running autonomously, executing the code repeatedly. After a quick analysis, Kasumi noticed that the laptop was not only broadcasting to the East District, but to Central as well.
Disconnecting it from the network would be pointless, since most modern computers nowadays just automatically connect to any available signal. Kasumi would have to destroy the source directly.
She probed the laptop and was immediately rejected via its security and network firewall. But that was no problem for Kasumi. She began a series a brute force attacks, chipping away at the laptop. The security on the device began to fight back against Kasumi, defending itself.
In physical space, she could feel her heartbeat starting to increase. Her fingers gripped the edge of the table and tightened, her knuckles turning white. The mental strain of being connected to so many devices for a prolonged time was starting to bear down on her.
For what seemed like days, but in reality within a few minutes. Kasumi finally broke through and took control of the laptop. She wiped the data off the laptop, removing the malicious code and any other programs, then reset the device to its factory state. Once that was complete, Kasumi remotely powered off the device, disconnecting from it before it finished the power cycle.
On the monitors, everything appeared the normal. The screens showed the cameras like usual, though some feeds were down.
"The source...it's disabled....They also sent data to...central."
There was a small breathiness to Kasumi's words, but she pressed on, helping Jesper sweep the network and delete the data off everyone's devices within the districts. Minutes passed, but the job was finally complete. The Dragon's network was back under their own control and the leaked data was removed from every device. But not everyone's memories.
Before disconnecting, Kasumi dumped a text file onto one of the computers for Jesper to read.
Immediately after disconnecting from the network, Kasumi felt light-headed. Her vision was blurry as she stumbled backwards, disoriented. She could feel the strength in her body leave as she eventually collapsed, falling backwards. Her glasses fell off her face as her body hit the floor.
Behind her mask, Anna flinched at Bash's sudden onslaught of violence. She was also rather confident that the sounds of cracking and splinting she was hearing were not just coming from the glass. A squick of blood whistled through the air, splattering across the ridge of her mask's nose, and that made her physically flinch, too. It was a good thing that Bash was too concerned with his educating of the North-Central Roundabout Growlers to notice. Probably. Hopefully. She wasn't really in the mood to get yelled at by a man barely out of his teens today.
Though, she had to admit, she did kind of admire his powers of persuasion. They were a little of then shouty side to be sure, and she was pretty sure that he'd spit out enough saliva to fill up a glass, he'd certainly gotten the job done. Again, probably, hopefully. The more that the rest of them did, the less she had to worry about.
Anna rubbed her face through her mask, smearing a slick of blood across it in the process. She was quite impressed by it all, really. They already had two recruits in pocket, an example had been set to keep them in line, and Bash was finally going to kill Raph. She'd questioned the violent youth's promotion when she'd first heard of it, but maybe he was better off for the position than she was giving him credit for.
Actually, what was that last?
Anna's eyes practically shot out of her skull when she realized that in fact, yes, her glorious Ace was currently in the process of trying to murder a man. Their velocity then considerably increased when she noticed that he, on top of the murder attempt, was also trying to use another breathing, debatably living human being as his weapon.
If it was a few months ago, Anna would've frozen on the spot and let things resolve themselves. Who was she to be responsible for the life of some guy she neither knew nor really liked?
Unfortunately for her, though, it was not a few months ago, and the Serpent's Jack, Tri, had already seen to severely distorting her sense of danger, and even worse, inflating her sense of responsibility. She'd done so much cleaning up after one of the gang's higher-ups, that it had been baked into her genes. One of her legs strode forward, and then the other shot out. There was a dull crack as it caught the Northside Browler in the ribs, and sent him careening off course.
Anna grimaced when her mind caught up with her body, and then her leg snapped back down to the ground. She was mortified. Mortified for the kid she'd just spear kicked, mortified for having just interrupted the most violent person she'd ever met, and especially mortified that one day she was one day going to have to pass down her idiot-genes to the next generation.
"U-um." Anna mumbled through her mask. "Sorry. I just couldn't uh-" The inside of the rubber gorilla head had started to grow slick with sweat. "I couldn't uh... I couldn't help myself. I just wanted to... Uh... Kick his... Louddumbstupidass too." She swallowed. "He was just so, like, annoying, r-right?"
As if not enough people knew about her! Ever since she joined the Dragons, she's been making an effort to avoid letting people in the district who might recognize her know. Shiiiiiiit. Caomei turned her head around frantically, looking out for anyone on their phone. Oh, Biwan's so freaking out about this right now, one can probably tell by the loud vibration coming from her pocket. "Ack, okay." Not now, Biwan! She'd have to call her later.
Back to the task at hand! Lorrin's pointing his gun at someone? Whawha- Watching his back? Were they surrounded? Right, watch his back, just like he said just now. Caomei positioned herself towards the opposite direction. Eyes scanning the area around the three of them.
"Whoever you are, I suggest you get down from there and surrender. Do so, and maybe we will be kind in our questioning."Down? From where? Caomei couldn't tell, as she was facing the opposite direction. She shot a glance at Lorrin's target, was it the one on top of the building?
There was no room to think about her siblings now, Caomei had to put her full focus on the suspect, and what said suspect might be planning. Kanna and Robin had been doxxed too, their cases most likely more grave, was this person the one who did it, or were they working with whoever did? Caomei's brain was soooo fried at this point.
“Sure, sure. Sure thing Snake," Vice beamed, laughing halfheartedly. “Kinda makes us sound like pals huh?”
He spread his hands out in a showy motion.
“Snake, Vice, and The Match.” He turned to Matchstick. “Is it okay if I call you Match? You're already lending me a hand and everything"—he nodded at the burner—"and I mean since we're gonna be here a while we should get to know each other better!"
Beyond today, Vice and Matchsticks had never formally met. In passing maybe, but this would mark the first genuine interaction. Vice didn’t really consider anyone ‘unapproachable’, but there were difficulties at times. It had been hard to get a word in during the early prep, but this was shaping up to be the perfect opportunity to strike up some friendly banter.
As for Snake, Vice knew who he was of course. There probably wasn’t a Serpent who didn’t. In all honesty, he was kind of surprised Snake remembered his name at all. Vice was just your average low-rung member. In his opinion, that was a sign of quality leadership! If he ever got the chance to talk to the King, Vice would have to toss in a good word.
"...I'm Vice! My favorite color is pink. Not like the super bright kind, pastel is more my vibe." His hands began to accentuate his rambling. "I'm allergic to several kinds of nuts. Not even like the kinds you'd expect; they're like super obscure I'm not even sure if they're real. I much prefer the warmer weather, because I get cold really easily and I’m just not with that. Annnnd I refuse to play chubby bunny because that's a choking hazard, and has negative memories attached."
He held out a hand.
"Don't actually shake that. It's covered in... whatever all this is. It's more uh... symbolic?"