Damian shook his head in response to Sabrina's question. "No, that would have been a waste. There's still a lot more I can learn from that one." He still wanted to see more of the Chessmaster's flashy movements and learn the tricks behind her performance. That information would be forever lost to him if she died.
With a smirk still on his face, he wiggled one of his tentacles for the Stingray to see, displaying the limb currently dressed in the king piece's royal garb. "But we did take out her servants." Without her army, the woman in white likely wouldn't be returning for an encore. There was no real need to kill her if she was no longer a threat. It'd just be wasteful, and he hated to lose an opportunity at gaining more knowledge. The warping corridor made him feel the same way.
Rather than feel fear, worry, or confusion, he only felt delight when the walls melted and took on entirely new shapes. He wanted to know who was behind it and how they were able to do such a thing. He also wanted to uncover the secrets hidden in the depths of the warehouse, everything that had to do with Raphael and the truth behind the man's mysterious captors. Even letting the obvious trap go unsprung seemed like such a waste. He needed to know about everything. It was an itch that couldn't be scratched if he and the other two Serpents stayed put.
A single tentacle split off from his body and fell to the floor. It immediately began slithering ahead like a massive snake, taking the lead and going further down the hallway. It was his loyal scout, aiding in his desire to explore every nook and cranny of the area.
With his hand already in Kinsley's, he tightened his grip and walked forward. As he began his leisurely stroll, he turned to Sabrina, leaning back to get a better look at the leather-clad smoker. "And what about you? How did it go with your battle? The masked man, was it? Learn anything particularly interesting from him or the others back there?"
Unfortunately, he was only one man and was unable to observe most of what happened during the series of fights. He hoped to gain a few scraps of data from the musician, using the downtime to ask some questions. With his man-sized appendage leading the charge, he could give the conversation and his surroundings equal attention.
She hung back from the rest of the group, steadying her breathing. Bad. Bad, bad, bad. Her torn jacket clung onto her body, wet from the blood. She’d examine the wound herself, but right now, if it was bad for her, imagine how bad it was for Raph. No more. No more of this. She coughed, and almost doubled over.
Copper. The taste of copper in her mouth. It was so hard to breathe. The voices of those with her came like dull drumming in her ears. She could barely even hear the newcomer being threatened, or that they had a newcomer, even. Her eyes struggled to keep themselves open. The darkness was so inviting. She just wanted to lie down and go to sleep. She held onto the walls, her fingers digging a handhold for her to keep herself up. She gripped her arm with her free hand, and bit her nails into the skin. The sharp jolt of pain wasn’t enough to keep the shadows from creeping into her eyesight, but it was enough to force her mind to focus. Raph. She couldn’t rest until she found him. She spat out the contents of her mouth behind her, barely sparing a glance at the direction.
She pushed her way off the wall, striding forwards. She had to be strong. She had to be the strongest there was. She still hadn’t reached the peak of that tower she saw in the distance. To become as great monsters of legend. If she couldn’t even save her friend, what would they say of her? What legend would she be? Her legs felt heavy, like they were filled with lead, but she had to push on.
“I don’t have time for this,” she said quietly to the four with her, her voice a rasping whisper. She had to save her energy. She still didn’t know how far they had to go. If they were going to sit around and decide things here, she was going to leave them behind. She pushed past August, Peyton, and the stranger, shoving them aside. The crackle of lightning cut through the air, as unstable energies coursed through her body. Her horns, and her armor flickered momentarily, before their glow returned. She clenched her fists, and started forwards.
She’d take this place down herself, even if it was the last thing she did.
Things did not go as expected. One moment she was playing the part of a damsel in distress, and the next moment she was no longer acting. She swallowed hard as she felt the cold barrel of a gun against her temple. "W-What are you doing?"
Callista was in a play, one that should have ended with her getting escorted into safety. But alas, what should be done when someone decides to go off script? Improvise. Or panic. And with a gun pointed at her head point-blank, it was much easier to do the latter.
"L-Let me go...!" yelled Callista as she attempted to wriggle herself out of her captor's hold, which only made him tighten his arm around her throat. It was a gesture the blonde girl found offensive. How dare a lowly mongrel hold her against her will and point a gun at her? She realized her emotions were slightly out of place, but she couldn't help it. All her emotions were dulled except that pure anger.
"I said let go of me!!" she yelled out once more, accenting every word fully. But it was no use. He did not listen, nor relent. The anger inside of her was slowly overtaken by a frightened girl that feared for her life in this moment of peril.
They say your life flashes before your eyes moments before death — your longings, regrets, unfulfilled dreams. However, only one thought dominated Callista's mind at this very moment. It wasn't so much the fear of dying, it was the fear of dying ugly — brains blown out and her face bloodied and marred. The very thought sent a chill down her spine. The mask cracked, revealing one pure emotion. Fear.
If Callista was going to meet her demise, it was going to happen on her own terms. In death she would resemble a fallen princess, not some tragic corpse from a horror movie. She did not want to accept her fate like this, but what else could she do except negotiate? If he wasn't going to spare her life, she could at least choose where she was going to get shot.
"S-Shoot me somewhere else...! Just not my —"
The young lady's pleas went unheard, drowned out by the loud bellows of her hostage taker. In that moment, real tears sprung forth from her crimson eyes. She found herself praying for someone to come and save her — whisk her away into safety — the same way prince charming would always show up and save the day when the princess was in danger. But such things only happened in fairytales, and Callista had read enough of those to know that in contrast, the real world was dark and cruel. No one was coming to save her, and worse was the thought that there was no one out there who would grieve her death. What could be more embarrassing than an empty funeral? Her soul would never be able to rest in the afterlife.
The young lady was about to resign herself to her fate when she suddenly found herself tumbling forward into the officer's arms. Several gunshots rang loud in the air, and she shut her eyes and buried her face into the officer's chest, clutching at the material of his shirt and crying softly. She flinched at the sound of gunshots that followed after. She did not understand why the cops had suddenly turned against each other, and she was too frightened to figure out why.
When everything was finally over, the officer released poor Callista from his gentle hold. She looked up at the officer's face, her eyes still red from crying, but it was a different face that greeted her. "You're that butterfly bitch, right? You're a Phoenix."
A long period of silence followed. Callista's face was filled with bewilderment, before realization slowly dawned on her. "WHAT THE HELL?!?!" she screamed, her voice echoing in the hallways. Her hands balled themselves into fists, her eyes narrowing into murderous slits. Confusion turned into disbelief, disbelief turned into embarrassment, and embarrassment turned into full-blown anger. She wanted to strangle him.
"YOU COULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING!!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, her voiced filled with rage and contempt. She wanted to release a series of bad words — "filthy low-life" — "chili-pepper looking bastard" — but she scarcely managed to swallow it all down. Afterall, Callista still had use for him. So instead, she took a deep breath and forced her anger down, summoning a sickeningly sweet smile on her face. Gone was the girl who was scared and crying only moments ago. The cracked mask had been replaced with a new one.
Callista cleared her throat. It was time to play nice. "I guess... I will forgive you for your insolence, but now you owe me your protection. Don't you know it's a crime to make a beautiful woman cry?"she said in a sweet, calm voice. Without waiting for Bandy's response, she grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him up the staircase before he could protest. "More cops are headed this way, thanks to your little fireworks show. Don't just stand there and look stupid," spat Callista, her face still glowing bright red with embarrassment.
Ruriko was entranced, saved by an unrealizing Silva who then found himself at the mercy of Ruthe after discarding Yuto from his back, only for Ruriko to return the favor, portaling Silva to safety. That’s when Ruthe struck again…
In the quickness of a breath, Ruriko jerked her wrist from the mamba’s mouth, blood trailing, and placed some distance between herself and Ruthe as the gorgon purred a playful, wicked utterance.
The bite stung but produced no immediate symptoms.
Ruriko didn’t inspect it, fixing her gaze onto the gorgon’s lips—a good discipline to have when absent the luxury of tending to one’s wounds. Don’t look. Don’t paint the picture of severity in your mind, so that it won’t hinder your concentration on the task at hand.
The gorgon’s lips might have been the object of her seeming focus, but it was the woman’s outline upon which her scrutiny was hooked, avoiding those dangerous eyes that once possessed her. It was like trying to discern a figure in the dark; to look directly at it was to fold it in further blackness, but to shift your eyes and look beside it was to evince the most delicate tease of recognizable form.
Ruriko appeared spacey, though was anything but. For now…
Blood trickled from wrist to hilt, making a slickness of her grip, and rivered down the glistening edge of her katana into a slowly-spreading crimson oasis at her foot.
“Attention. Attention. Attention.” A robotic voice flowed through the building, shaking from the speakers stationed throughout, rising above the clamor of widespread conflict. Grating on the ears like nails on chalkboard, Ruriko’s brows pinched. Everything seemed to pause in response to the announcement, Serpents and Dragons shared in a mutual interest in the disembodied forewarning.
Then when it ceased, Silva’s feet clacked across the floor as he made his idle way over to Ruriko from behind, letting a bubbling laugh tell of his lacking thoughts and concern.
“Heh-heh-heeeh~ Eh-wut do you think that was about?” The question was directed at Ruriko but sought no genuine answer.
Clack, clack, clack- Then a sudden resistance in the next step halted his advance. “Eh?” Silva looked down, not feeling the grip around his prosthetic ankle, and swept his eyes along the trail of blood smeared in the armless corpse’s wake, spelling out its journey to reach him.
“. . . Qué?” Teeth on metal, the corpse bit down on his leg.
“Silva!” Ruriko called to him, something urgent in her voice. The mamba’s bite… Silva kicked the corpse at his feet away, foot to face, before letting his pixels carry him the rest of the way to Ruriko. Ruthe stood across from them; Yuto was there, too.
Looking at her, anyone could tell something was up. Even Silva, for all his foolishness, noticed she wasn’t right, and not just by the blood feeding from her wrist, starting to slow. “Hermosa… you don’ look so good-” His words were cut off by the sound of fast-approaching footsteps down the hall—the needle-wielding woman of brown hair. She rushed in their direction, but the needles she threw sought Serpent’s blood: Yuto’s. Something was different about her.
Then suddenly it was raining. The glass pipes overhead had burst, and the water within them showered down. From the deluge, a humanistic form was born; pure water in all its nature save the pufferfish bobbing within its belly, but with a head and arms, and a motive at that. At her unspoken behest, the water danced and molded and lashed at them relentlessly, Serpents and Dragons alike.
Half-assembled corpses, zombies if you will, slithered and dragged toward them from one end of the hall where drowsy sunlight poured in from the unseen destruction of the lab caused by Schroeder’s mecha.
A belt of water caught Silva’s goggles, shattering a lens, just before his pixels built themselves into a wall rivaling the might of steel, shielding them from the continued onslaught. The wall wavered only slightly as pain took to the forefront of Silva’s mind, letting another belt slip through.
Ruriko sliced it down, vision a blur. Everything was fading in and out; her mind played tricks, showing her fractions of memories she was convinced were the present until the present came scrambling back before her very eyes. Laura, Schroeder, Silva, Jiak… Right, she’d come with them… Come where? Wasn’t she just with Isaiah, trauma dumping on their date?
“Hora de irseeee~” Silva sang as he pulled Ruriko close by the hip. A bench-like protrusion emerged from the wall of pixels, knee-high, the wall gliding toward them at progressing speed, and Silva threw himself and Ruriko onto it, letting the pixels strap them in like that of a rollercoaster. Together, they sped down the length of the corridor, collecting the animate dead bodies into a pile at their feet.
Reaching and grabbing and clawing, rolling and tumbling, the bodies climbed over each other, pulling each other down, in seeking purchase upon one of Ruri or Silva. Laughing, Silva kicked at them, distracted from the sharp pain in his clamped-shut eye leaking bloody tears. Meanwhile, Ruriko was in and out.
When they reached the end of the hall where the gentle patter of rain was carried in from the left by warm wind, and with it the stench of swamp and smoke, the pixel wall dispersed but the bench persisted and carried them over the pile of bodies. They dropped on the other side. Silva ushered Ruriko in the direction of the building’s dismantled portion, following after. “Tomaremos un breve rest, make sure de- Make sure you're okay, si?” Silva spoke as they moved, holding Ruri by the arm. “You are okay, si?”
— —What he's wearing: (Click) Leather aviator cap, mask, and green-tinted goggles (one of his lenses are shattered, his eye bloody); Open green jacket w/ open grey jacket underneath (no undershirt) (he is bleeding from the shoulders, blood leaking through the tears in his jacket); Grey shorts; Fingerless gloves; No shoes because metal feet
— —Silva's hair is spray-dyed green this time around. Due to wearing his aviator cap, Silva's hair cannot currently be seen.
— —He smells harshly of chemicals from the spray-on hair-dye that he uses.
— —Pixels: No current constructs; Pixels floating around him
— —POST RECAP: Silva and Ruriko escape, Silva hoping to gauge Ruriko's stability.
The white haired man's shoulders jumped, not expecting ice of all things sprouting from the man's feet. Nikolai narrowed his eyes, a frown on his face. What the hell were those two maniacs talking about? He tutted, producing a new pair of black gloves from his back pocket, and hastily slipping them on. He hummed, satisfied- Safe- before turning his attention back to the scene before him.
Nikolai furrowed his brows, perplexed. Once again. What in the hell was this maniac saying? Wait... Markus? As in... The tiger king?! HE JUST DISRESPECTED THE TIGER KING?! Nikolai could feel his eyes widening in shock, his shoulders becoming a tense line. Shitshitshit Nikolai was so dead. Crossing his arms, he lifted a gloved hand over his mouth, still unbelievably dumbfounded at this new revelation.
His eye twitched. This wasn't the time to talk about fucking feelings. Besides, it seems the kings were having some sort of hallucinations. He inspected the area around them. As ridiculous as the idea of a flying speaking tiger was, why were they both seeing it? No... no maybe Tri was simply indulging dear old Markus in his fantasies to humiliate him later. Yes that had to be it! Either that- or well. The invisible flying tiger was fucking real.
Nikolai's eyes widened, another idea- a simpler one- popping into his head. Maybe there was someone with a potential around them that was causing them two to see this hallucination. Yes! That had to be it. But that begs the question...
Nikolai eyed the crowd around them with squinted eyes, taking his time to inspect each and every one of them, watching for any suspicious movements or signs that told him they were using their potentials. A grumble left Nikolai, as his brows furrowed further. His body went rigid, immediately going into a battle stance to ready his clouds. He wasn't going to take the chance of an ambush.
Hide felt a shiver crawl up his spine as he felt a light tickle against his skin. His jaw tensed. What the fuck was she doing?! He glared at the air before him, fighting the urge to not clamp his teeth and bite off Raquel's fucking finger. What in the fuck was her deal?! Did she just exist to terrorize his life?! The only response he gave to her nonsense was a slight grunt and a tightening of his fist.
The white haired man jumped in surprise, a new appearance scaring the living daylights out of him. He realized his fist was in the air already, preparing for a punch. Most likely a reflex, but Hide was glad he held back at the last minute. He just got in- he didn't wanna get kicked out again for punching one of the workers! He lowered his fist.
Realizing he had to keep up the act again, he stepped closer to Raquel, nodding at the stranger's rambling. He narrowed his eyes at the jovial man, irked. He wasn't necessarily annoyed that this guy flirted with his... Wife, it was the fact that he did it in front of Hide! So blatantly in fact! Did this man see Hide as pathetic enough to seriously shoot his shot when she was clearly already taken by him?! He grit his teeth together, a sharp, tense smile overtaking his face, his eyes darkening. Hide tipped his head down in agreement, following the man, the frozen grin on his face.
He blinked in surprise at Raquel, his smile dropping. What? Did... married couples usually allow others into their relationship? He furrowed his brows, squinting his eyes at her before turning his attention back to the man.
With a slight pause, Hide grit out, "... Yes. Let's go. " He gave the worker a close eyed smile, squinting. "I'm sure with a little alcohol, I'd have realized this fucker didn't think to watch his fucking mouth. " He gave a soft chuckle. "With enough convincing, maybe I'll forgive you. " He didn't make it clear as to whom he said that to, before turning to Raquel and pinching her cheek. "Pumpkin."
New Oasis Arc 3: Scene 1 [PASSERI PARK'S ULTRA PASSIONATE MELODY ONSLAUGHT]
Pascal, Gavril, Milo, Jackson
THE HOTEL BETWIX
Milo's immediate reaction to the lightshow in this strange woman's eyes was to take himself back, flinching away in case it was something dangerous. He wouldn't put it past someone to have lasers shoot out of their eyes. But when the lights dimmed and he remained unscorched, Milo felt relief mixed with unease. Something was different, he thought to himself as he absently examined the backs of his outstretched hands. When the woman clapped him on his shoulder, Milo flinched, but nonetheless let his arms fall loosely at his sides.
"Uh. Thanks..." Milo offered, a little uncertain. He was happy that he'd 'passed', but he would've been happier if he knew what he'd been tested on, or that he was being tested at all in the first place. Still, he wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth... Not too closely, anyway. When the topic of conversation turned to Miles, Milo nodded solemnly, recalling the man's ghostly apparition on the TV screen in the prior hall. "Yeah, I sensed that." Not that he could really blame him. This was his job, after all. And Milo had come here today of his own volition; no one had forced him. Miles couldn't be fouled for not acquiescing to what amounted to the whims of a flippant brat. Ouch.
But then the woman went on, after a spell of what appeared to be deep thought—or at least a pantomime of it; he was having a hard time telling what was real and what was a performance in here—and made Milo an offer, one that nearly knocked him from his stool, reeling back as if he were the one about to be struck.
Suddenly his face felt flushed as the meaning of her words washed over his mind like a wave. There was something about the way she'd said it, the incongruity of it... As if she'd asked him to pick up her grocery or feed her cat. And the fact that she looked like a nice lady, a little quirky, maybe, but certainly not someone who deserved to get whalloped in the face for the sake of something as made up as a 'storyline'.
Milo held up his hands, waving them back and forth frantically, as though he'd been wrongfully accused of committing a misdeed, and not simply asked. "W-w-w-wait a tick! I'm not gonna just deck you! Are you crazy?!" Milo's voice cracked on the word 'crazy' but he didn't care, or failed to notice.
Still, his eyes tracked the movement of the key between her fingers. Should he..? Could he..? Coming back to this city, Milo had expected his resolve to be tested, but certainly not like this. Recovering his senses a little, he let out a stabilizing breath and said, in a more even-keel voice than before, "I don't suppose you could just... Give me the key."
He didn't suppose it'd be that easy. Things never were.
Bandy wrinkled his nose. “Yo, chill.” He began pulling off unwanted pieces of his gear, the officer’s gear, such as the armored vest, pads and guards, and helmet too, letting it all hit the floor.
When he finished—and, at that point, Callista had named his crime of making a beautiful woman cry—he was left in only an all-black shirt and trousers.
“Not a crimes I ever heard o-” His words broke when the blonde Phoenix took hold of his shirt and pulled.
“More cops are headed this way, thanks to your little fireworks show. Don't just stand there and look stupid,” she said, earning a smirk upon his face as he let her lead him up the stairs to the second floor. He didn’t mind a pretty one getting handsy with him, and besides… that was the direction he’d been heading in the first place.
As they walked, Bandy freed himself of Callista’s leash and walked beside her, sparing the occasional glance to admire her beauty.
“You’re not really upset, are you?” A genuine question. “...I was just followin’ your leads, y’know? Actin’.” He paused a moment, looking forward where they walked, then back at her. “Where’s ya think yer goin’, anyways? You gotta destination in mind, or you just like the sound of them pretty heels on the floor?”
Bandy kept half a mind on his surroundings, an ear out for sounds of danger approaching. And as they reached the top of the stairs, he barred Callista’s way with an arm and checked for safety. He pushed open the door to the second floor, peeking both ways down the hall. From somewhere not too far, yelling reached him, then a crash.
Craning his head back, he said to Callista, “Follow me,” then stepped through the door into the second-floor hall.
— —Bandy's Potential: Swap: he can swap places with another person at the snap of a finger so long as they're within sight.
‘Man, I sure hope everyone else here is as confused as I am,’ the thought crossed his mind as Jack watched Roland fall to his knees. He didn’t have much time to sit on the thought, summoning a sword into his right hand while he drew his revolver in the other. He spun quickly to catch the ghoul assailing him, accelerating the blade in his hand so that he could cut cleanly through its arms, and putting a bullet squarely between its eyes.
Dagger’s orders to her hounds didn’t give Jack much wiggle room with the task at hand. “Ya’ know, I’d prefer we didn’t add t’ the number of problems we got bearin’ down on us.” Jack shouted over to Dagger, their gunshots now ringing in his ears. He conjured 5 blades between Charmy’s group and the hounds, prepared to intercept them. Trying to keep his attention split between the horde of undead and his trigger happy comrade, Jack summoned 3 swords behind Dagger to cover her rear. ‘I swear this shit always happens while Jessi ain’t around.’
His constantly shifting attention left him mentally stretched thin as he struggled to defend in three different directions. “I’d also prefer not t' eat with zombies, ghouls, or any other type of walking corpse,” he shouted again at Dagger and then to Charmy, “He ain’t invited t’ Ralph’s.” Jack fired a few rounds into another one of the undead, “Maybe the Railroad, but he has t’ buy the first round.” Jack emphasized, flicking open the now empty chamber as he let the blade in his hand fight for him while he pulled out a loader for his gun. “Life’s just one headache after the next, huh…?” He muttered under his breath.
Silence befell the loading bay as all traces of life had been gunned down by the Tigers, and Samira took a moment before advancing to lead the others towards the security hub. She kept her gun up as a precaution, but there was nothing to fear as there was no notable activity as she opened the door to the hallway to advance forward. Seeing the door to the security hub open, she relaxed somewhat as she turned to enter only to be greeted by the Queen's handiwork. Bodies of the guards inside were strewn about in a violent fashion, with some missing limbs or bisected entirely with their blood and innards staining parts of the nest. Fortunately for them, most of the violence was located away from the armory entrance which had been opened as well.
A wealth of weapons were stored here, ranging from assault and high caliber rifles to grenade launchers. Heavy ordnance for a *bank* to be holding onto, but also foreign in their origins. Samira took one of the rifles and inspected it before scoffing. "These are Kaffarov Rifles." she muttered, which immediately brought out a chirp from the Tiger's earpieces.
"Graadian weapons? Those are supposedly illegal to import. Seems that the bank is in the business of buying and trafficking weapons from that bloc then?" Cal chimed in with concern in his voice. "I'll have Mister J take a look at that later. Take what you can, I can run the serials on them later. Obviously leave room for the goodies."
"Gotcha." Samira replied, before looking to the other Tigers that had joined her in the security nest. "You heard the man."
Samira then opened her duffel bag and took a few souvenirs for herself to stash. Among them was a multi-shot grenade launcher and a KA-98 Rifle, the latter of which felt light yet sturdy in her hands due to its composite construction. She stashed the pistol she had been given for the job and cocked the rifle with intent to use it for herself before walking off to find where Ryu was. As for the others, it was up to them what they would take.
Tigers Arc 3: Scene 2 [The Heist]
Camila, Jennifer, Maria, Ryutaro, Samira, Sylvie
By the time Samira had arrived towards where the vault was, following Ryu's footsteps, she saw that the drill had already been setup and the distinct flash of thermite and stench of smoke filled the area. A loud hiss erupted from the steel door as the compound did its job in melting away the security and interior of the door to allow access soon to its goodies. Ryu remained silent as he watched the door melt away slowly but surely, but Samira couldn't help but vocalize her impatience as she whistled softly and tapped her foot to keep herself amused. With the way things were going, this almost seemed like a chore. But Ryu did not share that optimism: he would only rest once they were well and truly out of the reach of the bank itself, and with him in possession of the Gordon brother's precious storage here.
By the time the other Tigers joined as well, after having piflered the armory of its goods, a distinct *clang* sounded which was an indicator that the deed was done. Ryu pulled the drill aside and pulled on the door with ease for it to swing open to reveal the vault's contents. A wealth of safety deposit boxes lined its walls, along with a small pile of gold that sat on a reserve table at its center. It was likely that it had been destined for transport, but now it served a different purpose for whomever claimed it for themselves. "Pilfer as much as you can." Ryu then ordered, "Makes it look more like a standard heist than a targeted attack."
The Queen then walked to inspect the boxes as the other Tigers focused on their own hauls, with Samira quickly rushed over and smashing one of the safety deposits open on the other side of the room with her fist. Thanks to her strength as an HP, she would not need a key as she took out a small batch of jewelry embedded with gemstones before moving on to the next box.
"Run me the box number again." Ryu then spoke into his earpiece, bringing out a reply by Cal. "G17-2B, boss."
Ryu scanned the walls nearby, before hitting the jackpot. His fist immediately slammed into its door and he practically ripped it off in its aftermath before spotting his prize: a small black case. He opened it quickly to affirm its value to him, his mask hiding his smirk, before stuffing it into his bag. "Got it."
230's form ran through every as if it was a tornado wreaking havoc. After running over Darius, it stirred off to the side, crashing into multiple other rooms before emerging back into the opening again. The sounds of gears shifted as 230 reverted to its humanoid form. Turning back, 230's eyes locked onto Ten as its next target. The same applied to 139 as it looked at Ten as well.
A phantom railroad appeared, and 230 started to transform back into its train form. It would take a small delay for it fully transform given enough time, but things didn't happen this time around.
139's light shined green at Ten and 230.
As if hastened by the urgent green, 230 transformed quickly back to its train form. With even more alacrity than before, it drove towards Ten at surpassing speed. With 230's speed being hastened, it barreled through even more debris to hit its next target.
The train went past Ten and straight into Darius, a loud crack ringing throughout the room. Ten resumed their natural form, not daring to open their eyes with the bright stoplight to their side burning them up. In the room over they could feel the blurry shadow of Darius and the train that took him with it.
Was he dead?
Maybe. Ten couldn’t tell any of the movements made in front of the dim lighting. Maybe a more important question was:
Did Ten care?
The hostiles were still in the room, human. They both turned to Ten, and though Ten couldn’t see, they could still feel the eyes on them.
The railroad reformed under Ten’s feet, and in the few seconds it took for 230 to transform and 139 to shine towards them, they turned back into a silhouette. As the train went over them, it smacked their forehead and pushed their hood off. The pain from the light, a cracked skull, and a thrown neck rushed through them, but it was quickly overtaken by the shock of another wall going down.
Now would be a great time to escape.
Not once turning back to check on Darius or the train people, they made their way back up the stairs, passing through without notice. They were rushed, hoping to run through without causing the train and stoplight to follow them up. Past the hallways in which Dragons and Serpents alike fought, the shadowling slipped under the door to the lab.
Ten followed the path down, going under Sang, and then the checkpoint behind him, with a smile.
On the other side, they popped up, waving. The fire's light scalded their face. "B-b-by- byeeee, Saaaaa-ang!"
"Ho- ho- hooo- hope you g- get over whate-ver you're going t-through!"
They spun around, eyeing the end of the street. Taking a moment to pull their hood back on, they skipped down the black concrete road. Following them, a path of blood.
The target was gone. While 230 confirmed that an attack had landed against Tenebrosity, there was no body nor sign of them anywhere. 230 untransformed from its locomotive form and observed the area to see if there was any trace of them left. Though as far as 230 and 139 could tell, Tenebrosity was nowhere on the second floor. With that in mind, they only had one objective left. Darius.
230 walked up to Darius, the last intruder on the second floor. It had seemed that he was still unconscious from the first attack 230 had inflicted upon him. Looming over Darius as if she was the reaper, 230 raised her foot above Darius's head. The sight of an iron foot was going to be last scene that Darius will see-
"230. You're prohibited from attacking that specimen." A new voice rang out of from the other side of the room. Both 230 and 139 turned to look at the newcomer.
A man with dark red hair and clear blue eyes emerged from the eyes. A single look from him stopped both 230 and 139 from executing Darius. Moving away from the target, they allowed the man to walk up.
"139, take it down to sixth floor. 230, you'll head up and deal with the remaining intruders." With those commands issued, they immediately followed the orders. 230 took the right set of stairs while Olivine took the left flight of stairs.
139 remained behind and turned back to Darius. Grabbing the unconscious man by the hair, 139 dragged Darius deeper down into the depths of the lab.
Kanna Katsura - Azure Dragons - Jack [CS LINK] Scene - Arc 3, Scene 2 | The Dragon and the Phoenix Location - Eastern Edge of Central District, overlooking the SEC Bridge Mentions/Interactions - Helva, Hou, Isaiah, Maho, Meirin, Ra, Rin, Shen, Vulken, Yong-Yut
The attack from Helva never came. Instead, Kanna watched as they appeared confused. The jack looked around themselves. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, apart from what's already happened.
Her attention returned to her opponent as they spoke up. As much as being called a genuine challenge was compliment, Kanna knew that it just made the Dragons a bigger target, and gave anyone opposed to them bigger motivation to attack them.
Before Kanna could do anything, she watched 2 other people appeared beside Helva. Suddenly, the entire area was enveloped in a darkness, nothing like your typical nighttime shade. This darkness was even darker than normal, with Kanna barely being able to see in front of her. No matter how much her eyes adjusted, it was difficult to see. Following the sudden darkness was a loud roar.
This can't be good.
Kanna knew that some of the Dragons here weren't as battle-ready as others. If something wasn't done soon, they could be leaving here in a casket.
She couldn't see her opponent anymore. All she could see was the darkness. But Kanna could hear the battle was still ongoing, and the sound of footsteps running towards her. Without a second thought, Kanna quickly pivoted around, bringing her hand up in a fist and punched towards she heard the footsteps. She felt her knuckles connect against flesh, as a rookie Phoenix was knocked down in front of her.
The Jack knew that was luck. If the darkness didn't let up anytime soon, she would have a very hard time identifying anything. If she wasn't careful, Kanna could end up harming her own members.
Another loud sound followed voice filled the area. But this time, Kanna recognized who it was. It was a bit out of character for Vulken wanting to stop violence, and Kanna was sure it wasn't just because she was in the line of fire. With the darkness continuing to persist, the Jack had no idea whether they were winning this fight or not. She could only hope the former.
A third voice could be heard, but this time it was as if the person was up close to them. She immediately recognized this one as well. As Isaiah continued to explain the ongoing situation, Kanna rose up through the air with her Potential. As he said, eventually she broke out from the darkness and was able to see once more. The first thing she immediately noticed was that the Kings were no longer battling in the air. Off in the distance, she could just see the tail lights of the truck that pulled up earlier, headed towards Central. She could only assume Isaiah and whoever else was there.
Looking downward, Kanan could see just how far the bubble of darkness stretched. While a retreat would be nice, Kanna was unsure how feasible it could be considering the darkness. No one would know where to go unless they were guided by something.
After some more observation, Kanna settled on her decision. She floated back down into the dark field, her vision becoming shortened once more. Now that she had her bearings, she at least knew which direction to move towards. As she move, she shouted for everyone around her to hear.
"Dragons! Rally to me! Follow my voice!"
Kanna continued to shout as she moved. Eventually, she broke out from the darkness and soon enough, the other members of the Dragons followed behind her. She mentally counted how many of them made it out. Some were injured, ranging from minor to major. And some were not accounted for. This was not good.
When most of them were out of the darkness, Kanna quickly addressed them.
"Fall back to the HQ, recover. We can't sustain this fight any longer. There is something much bigger going on."
Some of the veterans present nodded, quickly taking charge and helped the others retreat. Kanna watched them disappear back towards their territory before pulling out her phone and messaging Isaiah.
"Make me visible"
Kanna remained where she was, starting into the dark void in front of her, waiting to see what the Phoenix's next move was. For now, she had to assume that she was the only Dragon remaining on the battlefield, and that those who did not follow her were dead.
"Sounds like a hell of a night..." Ryoma finally commented.
Reflecting on the fact that Hitoshi's visit to Hyperstar had likely been only an initial stop in his otherwise wild and reckless adventure the night before. Ryoma could only wonder at what other sorts of trouble Hitoshi had caused for himself in his drunken stupor. He had to have trampled on some big toes to get a group of suited thugs after him. At least to go as far as they did in locating him.
Idly inspecting the scattered debris further within the Hyperstar, it was clear whoever they were, they had money and muscle to spare. Though, despite that, and at the very least, Hitoshi seemed to be still alive and on the run. If the suits had been to Hyperstar looking for him, it meant they didn't have him already. Though, the question then remained a matter of who did?
"You said all this happened recently... Think we could take a look at the security footage?"
Ryoma figured a place like Hyperstar had to have a hefty insurance policy, at least to some degree. You didn't run an entertainment hotspot and not records all the sorts of crazy things that went on during the night. Especially if it meant paying for damaged equipment or legal fees when the police got involved. The fact that the trashing had taken place between the time they learned of Hyperstar, and getting there hadn't been lost on Ryoma too.
It couldn't simply be coincidence, there had to be a connection, but what exactly they still had to figure out. Had they been after Hitoshi from the start? Had the Chameleon been tasked with tipping them off when he returned? If that was the case, why hadn't they caught Hitoshi? Struggling to piece together the sequence of events, a distant voice advised Ryoma from the well of his memories.
Always ask for a time. If you can't place the sequence of events. Well, you might as well not even bother. Right?
As the face of an old friend faded from his mind, Ryoma quickly added.
"By the way. About what time did he show up last night? Our friend."
Nico needed a drink. Yes, he knew it was an unhealthy coping mechanism. Yes, he knew it led to 'unintended consequences.' No, he did not care. And hopefully, by the time he was done, they’d be done upstaging his limelight. Approaching from the direction the bartender pointed to, Nico leisurely sat himself down.
"Hello~!" He greeted the barkeep softly. "Can Nico have that strawberry martini that Nico likes?" She dutifully obliged—she had begun preparing the drink the moment she saw him coming, really. Not long after Nico spoke, the small glass was placed at his seat. And rather than drink, he poked around the umbrella and the thin slice of strawberry cut into the side of the cup, aiming his phone right at it.
After snapping a few dozen pictures, he finally took the cup… and started livestreaming. Then after some more meaningless words to whatever audience there was, Nico sipped the drink, and he was already gushing like an over-the-top cutesy personality would. "So sweet~!" he cried. He scrolled through chat, grimacing at a few messages. People just can't get over old news. "Lucky you, Antares..."
Nico's gaze flickered to the other two customers at the bar, one being a blue-haired cutie and the other—"Woah, you also only got one eye!" Nico blurted out, though his tone made it a more pleasant 'that's so cool!' callout. Phone and drink still in hand, he hopped seat to seat, swishing his glass without a care in the world as he neared. "Are you two first-time guests?"
Even after he opened his eyes, it took Darius a moment to regain any sort of awareness. He let his limp body get dragged as he stared down at the floor beneath him, not even registering that he was moving - or rather, being moved. All he could recognize was pain. Pain in his head. Pain in his torso. Pain in his arm. After his consciousness returned, his body began to writhe on its own. First, his movements were nothing but weak, helpless wriggling, but his mind began to stir.
“Ten?” He spluttered out the first thing that he could think of, as he tried to move his head up, finding the hand that had a tight grip on his hair. He knew this wasn’t Ten, and they were going downstairs.
Even with his thoughts not fully intact, the perception of a threat fired up something in his mind, and the injured man began to thrash. Though his mobility was hindered by the searing pain, something in him was determined to break free, starting with the hand dragging him away.
[Collaboration with Misuteeku]
When Lab Icarus was initially constructed it was with only one floor, the ground floor. It was a standard lab where drugs were produced. Out of all the labs, it had no special features, that was until an HP known as the ‘Professor’ was assigned as a Lab Head.
Taking Lab Icarus as his home base, he immediately used his potentiality to manipulate the dead corpses to construct his ideal work environment. Due to his hatred of sunlight, he ended up having it constructed down instead of building it up. With special help from an HP named, Hyejin Lee, Lab Icarus became the base of the ‘Professor.’
Prior to the appointment of Lab Head ‘Matchsticks,’ the lab was dedicated to many services other than drugs. Interrogation, torture, kidnapping, and body snatching. A numerous other vile activities were what Lab Icarus tended to.
139 was one of these victims.
An elderly man, who was left in the streets to die. With a potentiality that didn’t offer that make for a living, it was enough to fight off the thugs that lurked the cold alleyways of the North. That was until 139 met the ‘Professor.’
Ever since, 139 became the Professor’s numbered worker in Lab Icarus. An emotionless husk that was once human. Only simple commands were issued. Stalk. Kidnap. Kill. There was no worry, no sorrow, no hatred.
When Lab Head ‘Matchsticks’ was appointed, the floors were repurposed for his design.
The first floor, the ground floor, became the production floor. All drugs were produced, brought in, and shipped out from this floor.
The second floor became the warehouse. All equipment, materials, ingredients, and organs were kept inside this floor. For both preservation and storage.
The third floor became the worker floor. All inactive workers were stationed here in pods. Their life had long since been extinguished and as such are required to be frozen in life preservation pods to keep their flesh fresh.
The fourth floor became the security floor. All around Lab Icarus and its surroundings are covered in cameras. Eyes are everywhere and nothing can hide inside the grounds of the lab. It is a wonder how the Dragons crept into the lab despite this.
The fifth floor became Matchstick’s personnel floor. The room of experiment and rest. Despite Matchstick’s temperament, it is a clean, white room. Seemingly devoid of interest and attention.
It is unknown what changed the sixth and seventh floor.
The sixth floor was the prison and the seventh was the power room during the leadership of the ‘Professor’.
Any memories related to the sixth and seventh room were to be immediately deleted upon departure from said rooms.
139’s current destination was the sixth floor.
Currently they were on the fifth floor, Matchstick’s personnel floor. As 139 took out a key card to access the sixth floor, something touched his hand. Turning his stoplight head, he found the specimen trying to break free.
Unfortunately for 139, his next light was green.
Immediately upon detecting resistance, 139 raised his foot and attempted to stomp down onto the downed man. Resistance will be purged and the specimen will become the a new numbered worker.
Darius emitted a series of coughs as the foot pressed on his torso, drops of blood dribbling down his mouth. Any clarity he had gathered washed away with each wave of pain, but his objective remained clear. Desperately, his arm — the intact one — reached up, until he grabbed the first thing he felt. The pain was immediate as his potential worked to sear into his assailant’s flesh.
“Stop.” Darius plead as he continued to struggle on the ground.
If the emotionless 139 had any sense of urgency, then it was very apparent and it double downed and stomped harder despite Darius’s protests. Two seconds. The worker was familiar on how Darius’s potentiality worked, after all his files were within ########. Three seconds.
Though much to misfortune, both in life and in death, 139’s face shined green. The potentiality didn’t affect 139, only those whose light was shined on. Four seconds.
There was no time left. Grabbing the nearest sharpest object, 139 swung down on to his own wrist.
As if it was made out of butter, it came off. Perhaps it was thanks to the infection, but workers were incredibly frailer than the average HP. The only exception were those of chimeric potentials.
Slamming against the door to the sixth floor, 139 stared down Darius with his lights.
Darius didn’t even register the hand being severed from 139’s body, only knowing the grip had been loosened as his head dropped to the ground, the frail hand toppling down beside him. He was free, and his struggle ceased momentarily. His wheezing breaths continued as he lay there, and for a second he was tempted with rest, with letting go. It was peaceful. But the battle wasn’t over.
Still basking in the green glow, Darius was barely aware of the effect it had on his speed, his mind still hazy. But he had to get away, and thus took advantage of the light whether he knew it or not. His legs kicked against the ground, scrambling away from 139 like a frightened mouse. His surroundings were unfamiliar and disorienting, but he knew he had to go up, back the way he came. The only recollection he had of his journey had been that he had been venturing downwards, and so he looked around for a way back up. An NP would’ve lost the battle long ago, but Darius’s enhanced durability spurred him on.
The specimen was getting away. While cutting his hand prevented Darius from infecting him for the full five seconds, 139 could tell that the curse was present. With this already frail body, estimated time before death would be around thirty seconds? It was enough time to incapacitate the specimen and leave it to another worker.
That being said, there was little choice no. Extreme violence must be utilized to disable the specimen, so that the procedure may continue.
Grabbing the gun on its belt, 139 pursued Darius. Aiming for the non-vitals, 139 shot three bullets in rapid succession.
At the same time the light on its head had turned from green to red.
Having managed to bring himself to a crawling position, though it was hindered by his broken arm that couldn’t carry any of his weight, Darius continued to make as much distance as he could between himself and the worker until he found where he needed to be. Looking up, it seemed daunting, his blurred vision barely seeing the top of the staircase he had descended moments prior but he began a crawling climb up the stairs.
It almost seemed like he could do it. Despite the arduous journey ahead of him, with his muscles begging for rest, a glimmer of hope remained. Then, his focus was distracted by the sound of a gun, and new pain as the bullets struck him. Despite his HP durability providing resistance against the attack, on top of his existing injuries it stung even harder, and it caused Darius to look back, right into the red light.
Like a deer in headlights, he stopped in his place.
No time left.
Approximately fifteen seconds left before the body shuts down.
Quickly opening one the cabinets with his remaining hand, 139 retrieved a tranquiliser from the container. How Matchstick positioned these items so conveniently that allowed 139 to perform these actions were beyond anyone.
With Darius now frozen to the ground, this was the last chance. Running up to Darius, 139 got on top of the injured Serpent. Raising his hand high up into the air, it descended down upon Darius’s neck.
Unfortunately, luck was never on 139’s side.
Red to Yellow.
Darius could do nothing but watch 139 approach as he willed his body to do something - anything - to prevent the fate that seemed inevitable at this point. He watched 139 pounce at him with the syringe, and he couldn’t so much as murmur a cry for help. Then, as he tried one last time to defend himself, a miracle occurred.
Darius squinted under the warm yellow light, and his arm sluggishly moved up in a final swipe at 139’s remaining hand. At the same time, his legs slowly kicked in an attempt to get the worker off of him, while his body cried out in pain at the pressure he was applying.
The descending needle was stopped midway. 139 struggled to budge the needle ever closer to Darius’s neck. Despite seemingly having the advantage, Darius’s curse had overtaken the majority of 139’s body. The other half of 139’s body was rendered immobile and was a slight miracle that he had stayed on.
A war of attrition. That is what it was as the needle inched ever closer to Darius’s neck. Though just as the needle was about to be stabbed into the wounded man’s neck, 139 suddenly went slack. The lights faded as Darius kicked the worker’s body off of him.
139 laid flat on the ground, the spotlights crashing against the hard, cold ground.
As the light dimmed and the pressure was relieved, Darius lay there, staring down at the body at the foot of the staircase. His head continued to throb, and his body and arm continued to scream with deafening pain, but he was alive. Tears welled up as he turned himself back around, and continued to scale the staircase one slow step at a time.
He didn’t know how far he had to go, or how long he could hold on, but he had to try.
Just as he’d hoped, and just as he’d half expected, someone else took care of the rest.
Peyton’s rifle went off, loud within the small space, and the abductor’s head exploded, body dropping like a bag of wet sand behind the pale boy. And August’s winds ceased, hand falling back to his side where it took comfort in the pocket of his jacket.
“Bam! Got him!” Peyton cheered. August looked at his own feet, grimacing, and swayed back a step. “Oh, wait, you were trying to see if you could take off the other guy's head. Sorry, August!”
Eyes closed, furrowing his brow against the headache, August gave a dismissive shake of the head, “No, ‘s alroight-”
Quickly, August glanced up, shooting the back of Peyton’s head a baffled stare, who now stood with his bayonet to the newcomer’s neck, threatening him with decapitation.
No one knew August’s name. No one but Raph.
Blinking his eyes, he combed a hand up through his hair, trailing his gaze back to the floor, and wondered just how hard he’d hit his head, and if he’d actually heard his name, at all.
“There's an ambush up ahead!”
August let his fingers find the back of his scalp. There, blood had crusted and matted in the silvery white of his hair around a three-finger-wide crater in the flesh, flashing the bone of his skull beneath a mess of meat. He felt his fingers sink into the gash, pulling them away from the warm wetness to inspect them.
He wiped them on his pants, leaving smears of red upon the white of his jeans.
Kisara pushed past him then, shoving him aside, to which his body obliged, moving out of the way as he watched her trudge forward through Peyton and the newcomer.
August realized the words that had, at first, eluded him. An ambush.
It seemed their journey still had a ways to go. And after seeing Kisara’s state, the severity of which was not dismissable by her determination to persevere, he carefully decided to hang back. She was the worst off, so let her lead. Let that animalistic ferocity of hers, no doubt still burning with great spark in the center of her gushing gut, scour the obstacles from their path. Let her be the object of focus for the potential ambush. The weakest link.
Except she wasn’t. At least, August wasn’t willing to gamble that she was.
But the ambush wouldn’t know that.
He stood in place for now and waited, head hung, peering up with his eyes because the headache hurt less when facing down.
— —What he's wearing (See post image) White turtleneck; Teal jacket; White pants (smeared with blood); Black shoes; Earrings
— —POST RECAP: August reacts to Peyton calling him by name, is pushed by Kisara, then stands around.
The man let out a hearty laugh at Raquel’s proposition as he patted Hide on the back, keen to take the tension down a notch. He hadn’t realised she would take his words to mean anything, thinking it was pretty basic flattery, but he wasn’t about to lose his job chatting up the customers too strongly. That being said, he didn’t have much of a response to the couple, not quite understanding their way of talking to each other. If he was witnessing any upset between the “couple”, he was doing his best not to show it. He had seen it all many times before anyway.
“Let’s go upstairs then, shall we? Though if you’re looking for a room, you’ll have to head to reception for that, which is just over there.”
After pointing to the busy reception they had walked past, he led the pair to a set of elevators in the centre of the floor, calling one down but waiting to see what their preference was.
New Oasis Arc 3: Scene 1 [PASSERI PARK'S ULTRA PASSIONATE MELODY ONSLAUGHT]
Pascal, Gavril, Milo, Jackson
THE HOTEL BETWIX
Elizabeth's brow crinkled more and more severely with each word that slipped from Gav's lips. A swirling discomfort brewed within her, twisting ever tighter as it, a fresh, warm blood flooded up through her body. Her face turned a bright, cherry red, and at the man's motion, she turned on her heel and started to power walk down the hall, jittering over her shoulder as she went.
"Y-y-y-y-yeah!" Her voice rattled like a upset bird's cage. A new sort of panic had overcome her, but this time it was paired with a crooked grin, which she worked hard to hide. "T-t-that makes s-s-sense! Sorry! Let's-!"
And then she vanished.
This time, there was no ominous whirring of gears. Instead, there was a sharp drop as Elizabeth's voice was first robbed from her, and then repurposed. Thump, "Ow!" thump, "Oof!", thump, "Eep!" she and her body went, tumbling down the set of stairs she had been just a touch too distracted to notice. She continued on her way for a long, long moment, which for her seemed to stretch into eternity, before she finally tumbled to a stop, head down, ass up, and peering at the world through the frame of her own disheveled pair of legs.
"Why is it always meee......" She whined, flopping herself over with a practiced motion. "B-buddy?" She called back up the stairs. "You following? Y-you might wanna see this..."
By the time Gav had caught back up with her, she was back on her feet, and leaned over a nearby ledge. Below, a vast cavalcade of, simply put, nonsense, lay. Whirling positions, giants, oversized balls, angry drones, panicked contestants, and much more flitted about below, swarming about one another in a grand pandemonium of, again, nonsense.
"So nice of you to finally join us!" Another monitor flicked on nearby the pair, and another bout of fresh harassment from one Miles Middleton begun.
"WELCOMEEEE, HAPPY COUPLE, TO THE LLLLLAAAAAAAIRRRRRRRRRR-" The floor beneath them clicked, and then begun to descend, ferrying them to a lower level. "OOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFFFF-" Somewhere below, a contestant fumbled a jump, and went plummeting into a pool even further down. "-THEEEE MIDDDDDLLLLEEERRRRR!!!!" And then, a giant, nauseously bright neon recreation of Mile's face sparked to life at the chaotic realm's centre.
"Within these divine halls, you'll seek out an artifact! Split into parts, it is, and only by overcoming four of my labours may you restore it to its former glory! Or... Should you not find yourself up to the task, you may take but one of the fragments, and take it to another of my realm's divine gateways, and it will tarry you forth to an easier plane." His voice practically dripped with derision at the idea. "But if you hold fast, and bring them to this realm's core, you may claim honours beyond your wildest dreams!"
His neon face blazed again, this time joined by another artificial crack of thunder. Distracted by the sudden noise, another contestant took a boxing glove to the gut, and Elizabeth felt like she'd taken a similar blow to her own, her brief, flightful bit of confidence smothered by her tumble, and Miles' own.
"C-can we turn around?" Doom had returned to her voice. "Maybe the other hall is l-less..." She motioned to the ocean of mechanised methods of menace before them. "T-this."
Did Hide pinch her cheek? What's more, he even called her 'Pumpkin.' A tender smile grew as she leaned her head against his shoulder. "I'll be sure to appease you soon, darling." To think Hide had even the smallest bone of romance in his body. She wondered where that fancy little thing was located. His pelvis, perhaps his clavicle, but what about the sternum? It was an amusing train of thought that Raquel decided to soften her grip on Hide.
"I think a small drink will do before we reserve a room, right?" Looking at Hide, she winked at him. The man was leading them upstairs closer than their objective, and Raquel could finally quench this aching throat. A lovely, warm, red liquid that burns the throat just right. Together, she and Hide would enjoy that warm delicacy. Though, Hide would probably find it a little... bloody.
Following the man with Hide by her side, she took Hide's hand. Using her nail, she dug it deep into his palm.
S. H. O. W. T. I. M. E.
While she could have just whispered into his ear like an average person, Raquel figured that there were too many wandering eyes about. The bouncers from before were eyeing them suspiciously, so any suspicious action may have attracted more attention. That and she figured Hide was the type to enjoy pain. With his grumpy look and unkempt appearance, perhaps he had a masochistic side.
It was a fun thought that she chuckled at the thought of it.
As they walked, Raquel spoke up to the man. "Say, if I remember correctly, you haven't introduced yourself." An apparent, rude gesture. Not even giving one's name before inviting them to a drink. Ignoring the part where she and Hide didn't use verification for their fake identities, Raquel was feeling a little vexed. "I'd imagine you not like this with everyone, no?" Looking up at the man, she stared at him for a while. From the eyes down to his shoes, which part was the tastiest?
Sajeem shrugged at the request to review the security cam footage. "Sure, you're in luck too. My drives wipe every 24 hours to make room for new footage so you'll be able to see last night and today. Your friend came in just after midnight, that's when my place gets... well, *used* to get going. You can even see him *perform* with your own eyes, if you want." He led both Ryoma and Noa through the ruins of his business and towards the back, where a small metal door led to a hallway with three doors. One led to a small, cramped office that served as administrative purposes; visibly, stacks of papers and forms piled on a cheap desk and on various cabinets to signal just how much paperwork had to be dealt with regularly. Another door simply led outside the back of the establishment into a small labyrinth of alleyways, and the final opened into a small security booth.
"Usually I have a guard here but he ran off the moment the suits started trashing my place. No loyalty in this world anymore, eh?" Sajeem then remarked with a scoff, "His ass is already fired. But here..."
Sajeem pressed a button and the video feed turned towards its recorded footage, with some winding back until just earlier. The bar was currently being cleaned and set up, with Sajeem overlooking things as he prepared for the coming service later tonight. All was normal until seven men, wearing white suits and shades, entered through the front in a forceful manner. It was hard to discern their faces due to the shades, but the most obvious characteristic came to the forefront.
"Ben jij de eigenaar?" their leader asked, pointing straight at Sajeem with his voice cutting through the recording with its intensity. "Are you the owner?" he then asked with a broken accent. Moments pass as, on screen, Sajeem and the man speak with the former becoming more nervous and agitated in his movements. This ends however as the ringleader waves his fingers lazily, causing his goons to spread out and start trashing the place, much to Sajeem's display as he protests to deaf ears.
"Fucking Oranjese assholes... racists! Taking down an immigrant worker like myself. I only told them what I told you. They went out the back," Sajeem then said, pointing with his thumb behind him towards where the door to the alleyway went, "And they just disappeared."
His phone then rang again, and thinking it was his mother, Sajeem quickly picked it up and sighed: "Mama, I already told you-" he began to say but stopped in his tracks. "Wha- who the fu- how did you get my number!?" His face tensed up in anger as he clenched his teeth together, but then he turned slowly to Ryoma and Noa and gulped before slowly handing to phone on speaker to them once he heard who was on the other end.
"I assume I speak to who is following us?" the voice on the phone spoke, the same as in the security footage without a doubt. "I will make things simple. Stop following. We will find your friend in due time. We only want to *chat* with him."
Hifumi remained at a distance, and observed Kazue applying her potential to the injured individual.
Even in their dilapidated state, the crushed man’s flimsy arms tried to push the aid away. No significant force could be mustered, and the attempt simply proved a minor nuisance. When the process was completed his limbs softly collapsed to the side, and his hoarse breathing turned to sour words.
“False order’s dogs.” He spat, his mask tumbling to the ground beside him. “In your youth you accept lies, and pave graves with your ignorance.”
He looked Kazue dead in the eyes, before his mouth began to bubble with hazardous foam.
“We l-l-live. We die. We’re b-b–born again.”
His eyes bulged with a sinister gleam, but silence did not take his breath. Instead a foul hacking came with the twisting and turning of limbs until his entire body was convulsing. Liquid dribbled out from his mouth and quickly turned into a downpour of retching. When his body finally quieted there was only hesitant warmth from their appalled face and lungs.
“You cur.” He gasped. “In your conquest for control, you deny even an honorable death.”
The display was enough to shadow Hifumi’s face with curious aversion, before his attention was forcefully pulled behind him. There wasn’t anything obvious with the only sound being the cursing on the man on the ground and the continued yipping of the restless fox. The pale haired dragon didn’t share the distraction with the rest, instead muttering a redundant appeal.
“Interrogation is not something I have much experience in.”
“I hold no such status or position here though. My employer is… an interested third party, if you will.”
A grin spread across his face. “Or fourth.”
The hallway shook ever so slightly and the fresh sound of livewire hissed to a hasty stop.
“Mr. Ayad,” two in sync voices announced from behind the pair, “if it is assembly that you seek, your supplication will be heard.”
Two individuals stood with blank masks, lowered heads, and arms pointed to a door just behind. A door that now replaced the passage that once led down to the lower floor. The rest of the hallway remained untouched, including the one Omar had been speaking to this entire time. Only his expression had lost any glimmer of amusement.
“Do you mind?” Ervin scowled to the newcomers.
“Ayad, I do humbly suggest you ignore these simpletons. They squeeze power from fruit not their own with intentions that contrast the ones you bend your knee to.” His voice slithered along like ice. “Of course my own aim is selfish, but one we can both benefit from.”
Azure Dragons Arc 3: Scene 3 [Ripples of Stardust]
Zhànzhēng Bay, East District
RIPPLES OF STARDUST
Zhànzhēng Bay | Boat
The stoic masked man by the doorway remained silent in the face of Mirza’s questions, but responded with a steady gaze that did not waver off his person. It was an interest that was not shared towards any of the other individuals in tow—bound or otherwise. A glare that had no reason to be personal yet felt far too individualized to be a passing interest. His eyes were obfuscated by the darkness the mask provided, but his mouth was free to hold a diminutive frown.
When the ruckus above became silent, the seated peers in the room took to conversation.
“Are they a gang?” Mumbled one.
“No, they’re radicals.” Replied another.
“What’s taking them so lon—”
Footsteps quickly dissolved into the presence of someone new. Sleekly dressed with draping green hair and a pronged red mask over their face. A protrusion of skin extended out from the right side of their head, tall enough to be visible from behind the worn accessory. A grumble escaped their staggering demeanor before it collapsed entirely.
“Is this one of the other guests, Cetus?”
The man in the doorway offered a nod, and she turned her head.
“Hrm.” She mumbled, walked over to Mirza and crouched down. “Yo! Sorry about the restraints and everything—I betcha could finagle your way out of ‘em in a jiffy, but it’s still inconsiderate.”
She looked up at the ceiling, “ISN’T THAT RIGHT, SHAM?”
“Sorry.” She sighed. “You all gave my associates a bit of a scare with your poking around.”
She backed up.
“We don’t mean anyone any harm. Just trying to avoid conclusions being jumped to.”