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Old 02/18/2011   #166

Everything that's happening now seems so unreal... It's like a bad dream that I'm constantly expecting to wake up from, and yet I don't. This is all my fault, I should never have trusted her. I should never have trusted the demons.


“Hey Lyle? Lyllllllllle! Are you listening?” The sound of a voice interrupted the thoughts of the young man as he walked at a steady pace down a dirt road. This boy was Lyle Corner, Destrillian prototype #026. His complexion was somewhat pale but had a more healthy looking complexion then the days of Violan captivity, a neat head of hair seemed black but had a green shine under light and olive coloured eyes.

“Oh sorry Lalain, guess I must have drifted off there for a moment.”
Lyle replied in embarrassment to the girl who was walking beside him, placing one of his hands on the back of his head. Lalain on the other hand was not a Destrillian Prototype, but a regular human girl with blond hair and hazel eyes. She smiled gently back at Lyle.

“You need to stop daydreaming like that, now I have to start over.”

“Again sorry, just been a lot of things on my mind lately. Anyway what were you saying?”

“I was asking about this Mileina girl. You said she told you that you weren't well, what exactly did she mean by that anyway?” A touch of skepticism in her voice.

“Oh that? It's nothing serious, really.” Lyle replied, trying to calm Lalain's nerves. She was clearly not convinced.

“Lyle, when someone says 'it's nothing', they are actually drawing attention to the fact that they are hiding something. Not to mention you've certainly been in a hurry to see this girl as quickly as possible.”

Lyle sighed. “Alright, I didn't want to tell you this because you'd only worry more. Basically Mileina told me that there was a critical flaw in the Destrillian program which Viola was unable to foresee due to Destrillians never having functioned on their own outside a facility.”

Lalain nodded her head. “Uh huh, and what exactly is this flaw?” At which Lyle stopped walking and lowered his head.

“Without the treatments from Viola, after a few years the subjects will die.”

Lalain froze in shock at hearing those words. She turned back towards Lyle and softly asked. “Did she say how long?”

“She didn't know, but apparently I don't show any of the symptoms that time's running out.”
He said before raising his head to look at her and say “That's why I was in such a hurry. Mileina says she works at a place now that can treat it, so I didn't want to waste any time in case it ended up being to late to do anything.” He replied as he raised his head to look at the girl standing in front of him, who then walked over to the boy and put her arms around him.

“Everything's been going so well for the last four years, and I don't want that to change.” She said softly to Lyle. “If you went away, I'd be all alone again.”

Lyle gently placed his hand on her head and replied “Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. When Mileina fixes me up we'll head right back home and carry on like none of this happened.”

Lalain looked up at him “Promise?”

Lyle smiled back at her “I promise.”


There's one promise I don't think I'll be able to keep
Lyle thought to himself as he drifted in and out of reality. The things that had transpired here the last couple of days were starting to take their toll, it seemed harder to focus on anything and his mind was constantly wandering amongst dreams and flashbacks of the past. Whatever the demons were doing to him was taking it's toll and soon it probably wouldn't matter to him anymore, but one thing kept floating back into his mind – Lalain. Where was she? What happened to her? Had those creatures done the same awful things to her as the scientists at Viola had to him, or things even more sinister as these 'people' if he could even call them that passed beyond the level of those scientists and right down a road running straight through sick and demented.

How could she? How could she do this to her own kind? Mileina have you given your soul to these fairytale demons and abandoned everything that made you human?

“...Just why?” he said aloud, at which he thought he heard a sound in the room as though someone reacted to hearing his words.

“La...Lalain?” He asked at first then paused before adding. “No, you're not her. You have the presence of a Destrillian, but it's one I've never felt before. So the question is....who are you?”

Hey who wants to come home with me?!
Ok that wasn't very smart but totally worth it!
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Old 02/19/2011   #167

~=~ ???, AUDOULA ~=~

Kaden growled quietly to himself as the van drew to another halt. He hoped it had reached its destination now. Due to ‘scheduled breaks’, a distance that should have taken the freight vehicle less than twenty-four hours to traverse had taken the best part of two days. Twice he’d considered alighting from the vehicle when it next stopped, but they always stopped where he couldn’t leave without being spotted.

If it was just a simple matter of people seeing him jump out of the back of the van, that would be one thing. But he wouldn’t be able to tell if there were any authorities present until he began to make a run for it. And stowing away, or whatever the act of being a stowaway was called, was treated as a crime.

So, after gods knew how many hours, Kaden was feeling irritable. He needed to eat and empty his bladder, not necessarily in that order. He took another small sip at the bottle of carbonated lemon drink he’d bought with the small amount of Artolian currency he had. For some twisted reason, it was cheaper than buying a bottle of water.

“End of the line, huh, Burt?” Kaden didn’t recognise this voice, but none the less, it sounded familiar somehow.

“Yeah, another quiet run, Henry,” the one called Burt chuckled. Kaden recognised this voice as the person who had spoken to the dog-handler back in Osea. “You feeling any guilt at fleecing Omnis outta another pay check?”

The one called Henry chuckled. “Hey, they pay me to make sure you don’t get too much excitement. If there’s no excitement forthcoming, it’s not my problem.”

Kaden could hear a third voice, more muted than the other two. After a few moments of hearing the voice going on incessantly, and neither man reacting to it, he guessed it must be a DJ on the radio, wittering on about something trivial. Kaden felt the vehicle rock twice as the two men climbed out of the cab. Gravel crunched beneath their feet.

“Frak it,” Henry said. “There’s no-one here.”

“We must’ve just missed them,” Burt said. Kaden heard metal jangling. “Here-” Metal jangled a couple more times. Kaden guessed it was a set of keys that had been thrown through the air and caught. “-Shed 12 is where we’re meant to be putting it. Should be a pallet truck back there, too. That way, take the first left, it’s the second door on the left.”

“Two lefts. Right, got it,” Henry said. Kaden breathed a sigh of relief at the lack of ‘comedic misunderstanding’ that followed. He could hear footsteps jogging away, while another pair of feet were moving to the door of the storage compartment of the van.

Kaden tucked the bottle of drink into one of the pockets on his cargo trousers, and braced himself. His best bet would be to try and push his way past the man about to open the back of the van and bolt for the nearest passageway. Even if it didn’t take him off the premises, he could still easily evade a pair of humans.

As he heard the catch for the sliding door release, Kaden felt a slight jolt of adrenaline. His lips curled into a triumphant snarl and his senses opened up to their fullest. He was grateful for once that he was currently without the sunglasses he usually affected to hide his lupine eyes. The extra surprise it would cause the human about to come face-to-face with him could be invaluable.

The door at the back of the van clicked upwards, allowing daylight into the storage area. Kaden thanked whatever deities might be listening for the fact that the back of the van wasn’t facing the sun.

“Hey, you! What do you think--” All that the man Burt knew at first was that some kid was crouching inside his van. A heartbeat later, he saw the golden eyes that seemed to almost glow in the dim light.

“What the HELL--?!” he began to say, before Kaden lunged forwards. Kaden angled slightly to the driver’s right, hoping that the statistics would be on his side and he would prevent the man from bringing his stronger arm into play.

Right now, subtlety and extreme violence were luxuries he didn’t have time for. Kaden angled his body so that his right shoulder would impact against the man’s right clavicle. His momentum sent the man sprawling backwards, with Kaden falling down on top of him. Kaden again used the momentum of his charge, curling slightly so that he executed a forward roll over his prone opponent.

As soon as all four limbs were touching the ground, Kaden scrambled to his feet and ran at full pelt towards a gap between storage units.

“What in the name of Avernus…?” The man Henry had obviously come to see what was going on. He was quick though, Kaden had to give him that. Just as he dodged between the storage units, a bullet tore off a chunk of concrete barely a foot from his ear.

Kaden reassessed his priorities as he jinked between units at random. That close call had almost lost him control of his bladder. Leaping walls and fences would have to wait for a moment, as he answered more basic calls of nature.

He stopped in one alleyway and took a few deep breaths to steady his breathing. The exertion had been winding even to his enhanced constitution. Kaden willed his breathing back to normal, trying to hear beyond the thunder of his pulse in his ears. He couldn’t hear any sounds of pursuit. And luckily for what he needed to do, he couldn’t hear the telltale whirring of surveillance cameras in his direct vicinity, either.

Kaden fumbled with the zip on his trousers, and pulled the waistband of his underwear down. As the stream of urine began, his brain started bringing to the fore all the details that simple survival had overruled.

First it pointed out that hopefully anyone following him would be put off by the smell of ammonia. The urine of an Animus was more…pungent than that of a human, as Kaden had discovered when using public ‘conveniences’. No doubt it was due to his lupine ancestry, something to do with scent marking.

Second, it handed over a folder labelled ‘HOLY SHIT’. The folder explained to Kaden all the clues his mind had gathered as to why the man Henry sounded familiar. Going backwards, it pointed out the use of the word Avernus -- the Damascan name for the underworld. It then pointed out the use of the word frak -- although other nationalities used it, it was only Damascans who said it with such venom. The final thing was the initial reason why he sounded familiar to Kaden -- Henry spoke with a northern Damascan accent. His brain wasn’t quite sure which province yet, but there was a hint of a Caraban accent in there, too.

Kaden cursed under his breath as he tucked his penis back away and did up his flies. Just his luck, it looked like someone in Damascus had some interest in the freight he’d been travelling with. Although, he should have suspected as much the moment he saw a Volsung logo on one of the crates.

At the edge of hearing, Kaden heard the scuffing of shoes headed his way. He carefully crept away from the direction they were approaching from, making as little noise as possible himself. His pursuer was no slouch either -- if it hadn’t been for Kaden’s acute hearing, he wouldn’t have heard the approach.

As he reached the end of the alleyway, he heard someone gag just beyond the opposing mouth.

“Ye gods, what is that smell?” Henry muttered.

Kaden broke into a sprint. He made sure not to run too fast, to make sure he didn’t lose his hearing to his heartbeat again. He caught his own scent trail from his earlier flight, and began following it back the way he had come. It seemed the two men had split up to track him down, and--

By the time the scent of the man Burt, and the pistol he was carrying, registered, Kaden didn’t have time to stop. Reasoning it would be something his opponent wouldn’t expect, Kaden dived from the mouth of the alleyway into the open.

Burt was standing by his van when he fired. Kaden realised that he had had little to fear; the Artolian’s marksmanship was nowhere near as impressive as the Damascan’s, and the bullet cut through the air several feet from where Kaden would have been standing. He wondered briefly if the man was still slightly winded from his earlier offensive.

Another bullet threw up a small plume of dust three feet away from where Kaden had landed. He quickly scrambled to his feet and began running towards Burt, zigzagging to throw off his aim. Another petulant bullet still tried to catch him, however.

Almost too quick for the human to follow, Kaden was within his guard. At this range, without the proper training, a gun was just a blunt instrument. Kaden took even that option away from the man holding the gun, head-butting him in the face and grasping the weapon away from him as his hold sagged momentarily.

“Frak’s sake, I tried to be nice…” Kaden muttered angrily to himself as he fired the gun point blank between Burt’s eyes. He felt the Hunger stir as he was splattered with gore, and quelled it with pure irritation.

“That accent… You’re from Chulainn, aren’t you?”

Kaden span on the spot. Henry was staring at him. Kaden cursed under his breath; he hadn’t heard -- or scented -- the human approaching him. He put it down to the unsuppressed gunshot drowning out other sounds, while he couldn’t smell anything but blood. But hearing the voice again, he finally realised which province the human came from.

“What’s it to you, Duman?” Kaden snarled, wiping as much blood and gore from his face as he could with his hand. He needed to be able to smell something other than blood again.

The man from Dumas chuckled. “I just find it very interesting… that an Animus should be so far from home.”

Kaden froze momentarily, shock overriding the survival instinct. “I don’t know… or care… how you know that… But die, Duman.” With that he swung the gun to bear on Henry… who was suddenly elsewhere. He was moving, but not advancing on Kaden or retreating.

Kaden smirked to himself. This Duman, Henry, only moved at human speed. With his own enhanced musculature and senses, this would be child’s play. Kaden twitched his aim to fire into the human’s path, so that he would run into his own death.

No sooner had the thought formed and his finger depressed the trigger, than Henry jinked back along his trail. The bullet hit empty dirt. Kaden frowned, and re-aimed, wiping Burt’s blood from his nose onto his left arm. The smell of blood was obviously affecting his thinking.

Again, he fired into Henry’s path, and again, the human dodged the bullet. With a snarl of impatience, Kaden aimed directly at Henry and pulled the trigger. The man ducked, leaving the bullet to hit the concrete shed behind him. Kaden pulled the trigger again, only to hear an empty click.

Another click confirmed the clip was empty. Kaden resisted the urge to throw the gun at the human; he could easily be carrying an extra clip. Instead, he tossed it over his shoulder, away from his opponent. Henry stopped weaving about and smiled at him.

“What’s wrong, Kaden?” Henry taunted.

“How do you know my name?” Kaden growled. It was then he noticed something, and cursed himself for missing it before. The Duman’s scent wasn’t entirely human. There wasn’t the same Volsung-stench he associated with agents from Damascus, but he knew now what he was facing.

“Ha. I’m an idiot. So that’s what Pariah was all about, was it? Psykers.”

Henry scowled. “How did you…?” As he began speaking, comprehension dawned -- using information drawn, Kaden had no doubt, from his own brain cells. “Ah, I don’t smell quite human, huh? And my accent gives away my original province… Clever.”

But then Henry shook his head, smirking. “But don’t say ‘psyker’ like there’s only one sort of psionic ability. There are psychokinetics, telepaths such as myself, MK-users*, remote viewers, even a few firestarters in Aramis…”

Then his eyes hardened, and an arm twitched spasmodically with remembered stress. “And then… there are the real soulless monsters.”

“The scientists,” Kaden said, feeling a slight unexpected fellowship with the Duman.

“Ha, no,” Henry said, shaking his head. “I am speaking more literally than that. But never mind that. My time at Aramis ended a year ago. Now I work for-- ah, you’ve already guessed. I have picked up a slight Caraban twang, I confess.”

Kaden swore under his breath. Once he had realised that Henry had a shared past with him, he hoped that he would be allowed to just walk away. But the look in the Duman’s eyes disabused that idea. He could feel his senses sharpening as they always did when combat loomed. He could hear a song beginning on the van’s radio, still playing regardless.

Fragments of those memories are scratching at my nerves

“Negotiation or autopsy?”

And I am hearing their voice in deepest reverb

“I asked dead or alive,” Henry shrugged. “They told me to use my initiative.”

I've got to get out of this frame before I'm tamed

Kaden didn’t say anything in response. There was nothing to say. Lips pulled back and teeth bared in a soundless snarl, he leapt at the telepath.

Why can't you leave me alone, for just one night?

Henry dodged at the last second, a look of irritation on his face. Kaden aimed a blow at his face and the Pariah jerked his head away at the last minute. Kaden scowled as the implication hit him. Henry smirked in response.

I crack open my secret and then see them come in flocks (Is this what you're searching for?)
One after another they're looking for the sweetest block (Are you scared to know the truth?)

The frakking Duman was a mind-reader. He knew each action Kaden was going to make as he decided on it. As Kaden was considering how to deal with this, Henry landed a blow against Kaden’s hip. Instinctively, Kaden rode the impact into a twirl, and brought his leg up and into the side of Henry’s ribs. The Pariah dodged to soften the blow at the last moment humanly possible.

Build it up and then, yeah, tear it down (Is this what you're searching for?)
Amuse those nine muses by making breakdown noise (Are you scared to know the truth?)

Humanly possible… The brief flicker of frustration through the Pariah’s eyes and the scent of desperation confirmed Kaden’s guess. He could only read conscious thoughts. Instinctive actions -- the area of combat where the Animus truly surpassed humanity -- were out his league. The lyrics right now had two layers, and, cliché as it was, so did the brain. Instinctive behaviour from here on.

Now, open your eyes
The pieces are all over
Now, you should accept this
It is over

Kaden saw the punch coming and forced his conscious mind onto other matters. His subconscious mind was torn momentarily between lupine and human instincts, before utilising both -- step backwards from the blow, then lunge forwards under the foe’s guard. The knuckles of his right hand came a hair’s breadth from impacting on the Pariah’s sternum.

You, keep your eyes on
This corruption
Come on, yes, you should watch this

Henry took a handful of steps back to avoid Kaden’s blow -- he could tell from the scent of fear emanating from his prey that the Pariah knew he couldn’t match the Animus for physical strength. He pushed the advantage.

How could I ever be so credulous, without a doubt
I kept on walking until today when I saw this sprout
Between the black dirt it stood with all its strength
But you smashed it up never revealing it's depth

Henry fumbled behind his back, and retrieved a knife. Kaden had closed the gap too quickly for him to use it to stab the Animus, so he aimed the butt of the grip towards the Animus’ temple. Kaden recognised the danger and leapt backwards with a slight canine yelp. He landed badly, and took a few more steps backwards to steady himself.

Henry smiled grimly at him.

Fragments of those memories are scratching at my nerves (Is this what you're searching for?)
“What’s the matter Kaden? Afraid there was only one person you could ever beat?”
And I am hearing their voice in deepest reverb (Are you scared to know the truth?)
“And you carry your dead beloved’s, ha, dog-tags around with you.”
I've got to get out of this frame before I'm tamed (Is this what you're searching for?)
“Poor Lani. You do miss her so, don’t you, Kade?”
Why can't you leave me alone, for just one night? (Are you scared to know the truth?)
“Well, maybe then you shouldn’t have ripped her apart with your claws and teeth, you damned beast!”

Kaden felt something bubbling up, overwhelming both his reason and instinct. At first he thought it was the Hunger, but then he realised whatever it was terrified him far more than the Hunger ever had. Everything outside of himself, Lani and the Pariah no longer existed.

Kaden let out a very human scream of loss and agony, feeling tears roll from his eyes. He felt his legs begin to move, running towards Henry. He could hear his own voice tripping over itself.


Too late he saw the knife swinging towards him. His mind forced its control over this newfound rage, and fought against his momentum. If he had regained control a step earlier, he would have missed the swing completely. As it was, it slashed out across his upper right arm. For a moment, he was glad the hooded jacked he was wearing was sleeveless.

Then the pain began. Kaden dimly felt his mouth open to scream, but no sound came out. It felt like someone was pouring the magma of Vulkan over and into the wound, followed by the hoarfrost of Ymir. His conscious mind was rocked with the pain, while the rage and Hunger howled like rabid beasts. It felt like the pain was going to swallow him whole…


The memory of Lani’s voice brought him back to reality with an inhuman scream tearing from his throat. Kaden’s knees sagged, and he staggered to stop himself from collapsing. His left hand was suddenly cupping his wound. The radio flared back into his consciousness, still on the same tune, but seemingly heading to the crescendo.

(Open up your eyes)

The Pariah… Damnit, he was too weak to continue fighting… Kaden staggered again and bumped into something. He glanced down, fighting a brief wave of nausea.

Henry was on his knees. His eyes were wide, with his pupils compacted into pinpricks. Froth fell from his lips. His body kept convulsing.

Now, open your eyes
The pieces are all over
Now, you should accept this
It is over

Kaden grinned in vindictive glee when he guessed what had happened. The Pariah was still in his mind when the pain had blasted through it. Where Kaden had only barely managed to maintain some sense of self, Henry had all his mind burned away. Still, it seemed…wrong, to leave him in this state.

Another convulsion ran through Henry and his grip on the knife momentarily slackened. Instinct kicked in, and Kaden had hit the Pariah’s wrist with his foot and sent the knife into the air before he knew what he was doing.

Now, open your eyes
Put yourself together
You, keep your eyes on
This corruption

Kaden’s right hand shot out and grabbed the knife in midair, despite him wincing in agony as the wound still ached. His fingers twirled the knife and lupine instincts told him make it quick, cut here -- his left hand grabbed Henry’s hair and tilted the head back, while the knife’s tip kissed across the skin of his throat. Human vindictiveness screamed for reprisal, and he twirled the knife again…

You, keep your eyes on
This confusion
Come on, yes, you should watch this

As the last chords of the song blasted out, Kaden brought the knife down hard behind Henry’s clavicle, between his neck and shoulder. The Pariah’s eyes wavered uncertainly for a moment, and then his body crumpled. Kaden felt himself automatically cupping his wound again, idly wondering which wound had killed Henry.

He growled under his breath. The radio was starting to get on his nerves. He slowly walked to the van, still cupping his wound. For some reason, he felt uneasy. Climbing into the van, Kaden hit the obvious off switch to silence the prattling host. It was in the new silence that he noticed the static hiss.

He recognised it immediately. It meant there was an active communications channel somewhere.

Kaden briefly considered leaving it, but was reminded of an instance in his training. The team he was in had heard an active comms channel and ignored it, considering it irrelevant, as no-one was transmitting. However, when they were close to the end of the course, a group of Setanta troops overwhelmed them. After suffering a few bruises, they were told they should have used the comms channel to divert the enemy, or disrupt their morale. Also, leaving it active made it easier for any forces in pursuit to call for reinforcements.

Kaden slipped out of the van and headed towards the source of the noise. His head was throbbing slightly. He put it down to hunger and dehydration, and raised his left hand from the wound on his arm to massage his forehead. As the hand was passing his face, his eyes and nose flagged an alert.

Blood. Fresh blood. His. Kaden stared at his hand stupefied for a moment. He should have healed by now, especially from such a small--

“Frak!” he swore under his breath. He could vaguely remember other Animus from when he was still at Setanta, who had wounds that they kept complaining of hurting, that didn’t heal quickly. Only when the researchers and guards intervened did such individuals last very long -- the Animus automatically weeded out the weak and infirm.

They had been told that the scientists were testing a chemical that would override the Animus’s rapid healing. Supposedly, it was to allow them to perform medical operations easier. But how had the Pariah gained some? Kaden scowled and walked over to Henry’s corpse purposefully. He pulled the knife out and dropped it into the dirt.

He removed Henry’s shirt, and searched for the least bloodstained part of it. As he did so, something fell to his feet. Retrieving it, he found it was some more clips for the gun. He stowed them away in one of his trouser pockets.

Ripping some cloth from the shirt, Kaden wrapped it around his wound as an impromptu bandage. He wiped his hands with the rest of it, trying to remove as much of the smell of blood as possible. The blood on his own hoodie would have to wait until he found a discreet Laundromat.

Kaden frisked Henry’s pockets and discovered an ID card (Henry Evans, Omnis Freight Co. Ltd.), a pair of sunglasses and a small amount of Artolian and -- he supposed -- Audoulan currency. The sunglasses and currency disappeared into his pockets, while the ID was discarded. As he moved the body while checking the pockets, he felt something solid tap his foot. A quick inspection revealed the sheath for the knife.

After a moment’s hesitation, Kaden removed the sheath and held it in his hand. The gun’s holster, which had been strapped to Henry’s chest under his shirt -- Kaden supposed he had leant the gun to Burt while he flushed Kaden out -- he left.

Now he had the sheath, Kaden retrieved the knife carefully from the ground and inspected it. He could smell something at the hilt… Looking closely, he could see fine channels worked into the metal of the blade. They lead back to a small hole in the grip. Kaden inspected the grip visually and noticed what seemed to be a cover, as well as a button.

A Carabas Manticore. Son of a bitch. The knife was designed to carry a small reservoir of a weaponised chemical agent, which, at the touch of a button, could be released in minute amounts through the channels to cover the blade. That explained how he had gotten the chemical into contact with Kaden--

>Evans? Evans, nacbuht.**<

The comms channel. It was now active, and transmitting in Neo-Damascan. Kaden growled. Choosing Omnis for his travel needs was looking like a worse and worse idea by the minute.

>Evans? Fryd’c rybbahehk?***<

Clearly, the Pariah had made contact with someone in Carabas before being called back by the sound of Kaden’s break for freedom. Kaden risked heading for the radio at a jog, making a quick note of where the gun had fallen.

He reached the small office with the radio within a minute, but his head wished he had taken longer. He picked up the handset, panting slightly.


Apparently, the operator wasn’t entirely sure he was speaking to the right person.

“Dra…” Kaden paused. He couldn’t think of the Neo-Damascan for psyker, or even psychic. Oh well, they’d get the idea. “Dra psyker ec tayt.****”

With that, Kaden flicked the comms radio off, and pulled the handset out by its cord. He dropped it to the floor and stamped on it without ceremony.

He pulled the sunglasses out from his pocket and put them on. He was likely to scare enough people as it was, so he might as well hide his eyes. He could still see clearly with them on -- actually, with his genetics and upbringing, he could probably see better with them on.

Kaden moved at a brisk walk back towards where the fight had taken place, and retrieved the gun. If nothing else, he could always trade it in for more money. He began to search for a way out of the transport yard. He tried to ignore the ache in his arm and the cramp forming in his stomach.

He needed something to eat…


*MK - the parapsychological shorthand for “mind control”.

** Evans? Evans, respond.

*** Evans? What’s happening?

**** The psyker is dead.
I work all day and I think all night
I break my body, but that's all right
Cos it'll take all my mind and all my might
To keep one step ahead of you
L.E. Modesitt, Jr wrote: Sometimes cynicism is the last refuge of the idealist.
As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.
You think water moves fast? You should see ice. It moves like it has a mind. Like it knows it killed the world once and got a taste for murder.
Gym Leader Kris sprite by Brooke

Sam Vimes arrested a dragon... and carries the law with him like an Ampharos
Vimes and PokeSammies sprite by GLD

Last edited by Mantichorus; 02/19/2011 at 11:25 AM.
Mantichorus is offline  
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Old 02/22/2011   #168


It was good to be free.

Not that Lorelei viewed her time at the mansion as imprisonment, by any means. Rather then that it was good to be out and about in the open air once more. That was her only complaint, actually - the mansion was too stuffy.

Well...maybe not my only complaint, she thought, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

Things were too quiet. Boring, in a manner of speaking. Sure, there was always something to do, but it was very routine. Nothing different ever happened. Not like in the world above. Outside, there was always something new happening. More people. More sounds.

The song of seasons. The voice of the wind.

She liked that. The unpredictability. In the outside world, every day was something new - a different adventure. A new challenge. And if there was one thing that the cobalt-eyed Destrillian loved, it was a challenge.

She carefully picked her way through the forest surrounding the mansion, heading to the southeast. She had no need of a vehicle, or of a guide. To be a Destrillian meant to be able to stand on your own two feet. To be the paragon of human evolution. They surpassed the weaker humans, but were truly just the harbingers of something far greater. To think that perhaps, someday, all of mankind would be so gifted.

And yet they spat in the face of their great benefactor.

Lorelei knew the truth. She knew that she had come to Viola, seeking a cure for her blindness. And she knew that the results hadn't been what she expected.. But she wasn't angry. Nor was she upset. Angry. Disappointed. Far from it. Mister Spencer had given her something more. What was sight compared to her other gifts?

The rustling of the wind in the grass broke her reverie. She blinked, standing still as she let the siren song envelop her in sweet bliss before shuddering slightly. It was cold, the Audoulan autumn bringing promises of early snow. She let her thoughts drift again as she started moving once more.

Spencer hadn't given her any clear information as to where her objective lay, but she knew where to start. She had always fancied herself to be a bit of a detective - a rather unexpected byproduct of her love of radio dramas. Many of those featured men and women who used their intellect (or the newest forensic advances) to solve crimes. And one thing she had in common with the fictional investigators was a good deal of common sense.

From Osea, the Audoulan border was the drive of at least two days away. From there, the rogue Destrillians would almost certainly make their way to a city or town, if for nothing else than to refuel and resupply. How fitting, she thought with a cruel smile, that the very fact they are Destrillians will be their undoing. How ironic that while they might be the pinnacle of all that humanity could ever hope to be, it was ultimately their increased metabolisms that would give them away. Being a Destrillian required a vast caloric intake, regardless of much they exerted themselves with their powers. Intel suggested that they numbered anywhere from six to a dozen - and there were only so many places to get that much food for so many.

And so the Eighth Alter set out for Villnore.

She knew it was a long shot. After fleeing Osea in such a spectacular manner as to have the entire Artolian military and IRIN both after them, the last thing they'd want to do is draw attention to themselves by heading into the Audoulan capital, where it was almost certain that someone would recognize them and sound the alarm. Criminals tended to keep a low profile when on the run from the law; Destrillians though they may be, these were no different.


Lorelei was also aware that criminals were stupid. And these were far more foolish than most - they had betrayed Spencer. No, she corrected herself, shaking her head. No. They couldn't have made it out of Artolia with brute strength alone. Power may be useful, but it's nothing without the knowledge to wield it. Underestimating an enemy, especially a Destrillian, was a fool's error. Perhaps she'd been giving them too little credit. If that was the case, then Villnore made even more sense, because it's the last place anyone would expect them to be. And even then, if someone did see them, they'd assume that they were mistaken - that their eyes were playing tricks on them. 'Hiding in plain sight', as it were.

It was only a hunch, but it would have to do.

She reached back to grab a bottle of water from the small pack she wore, downing a few mouthfuls as she plodded on. She was sure and light-footed, making excellent time. Only a few hours to go. And I think as my reward... She stored the water back in the depths of her pack, this time removing a small plastic bag - a bag which Elvan had brought to her after she'd forgotten it in the kitchen. As she took the first bite from the meringue, she was reminded of how much better everything tasted outside - something about the fresh air always made it that much more wonderful. And for Elvan's cooking, that was saying something.

Her thoughts drifted now back to the mansion. She liked Elvan; he was always very kind and polite to her, and certainly friendly enough. And he was loyal to Mister Spencer, too. But at the same time, she felt a surge of sadness at the thought that he would never know what the wind on your face felt like. He was trapped in that suit, or his special clean room, for the rest of his life. Elvan never complained, and that made her feel guilty about the times she cursed her inability to see. She made due as best she could, but her pride made certain things about her condition sore subjects for her (such as her illiteracy). And yet Elvan never once lamented the fact that it was his own gift that had him trapped inside an unfeeling shell.

It's not fair, she thought bitterly.

How was there anything just in that, when the traitors had accepted their powers from Spencer and then decided to just do as they please? They owed him everything - their very lives! They had no sense of loyalty, of decency; not a one of them had done the right thing. Of the others, only Salem had remained behind.

She couldn't suppress a tiny smile at the thought.

She wasn't sure what it was about Salem that caused her to take a shine to him; it certainly wasn't his manners. He was rude and generally uncouth and prone to violence. But...then again, when she thought about it, she was probably just as violent and ruthless as he was, when it came down to it. Maybe it was that he had actively chosen to stay behind, to see the glory of the fallen Viola restored.

Or perhaps it was that he he didn't treat her like she was special, like some fragile doll.

She'd never liked that. She may have been blind, but it didn't mean she always needed help. Not like Finn, who needed constant supervision (a bit of a sore point with Lorelei, for the younger girl was treated as Spencer's most valuable asset, regardless of how much more capable Lorelei proved herself to be). She'd always been fiercely independent, doing her damnedest to do everything for herself. With her awakening, and the coming of her "sight", this had been made so much easier. It was still a little difficult sometimes, but she managed as best she could, and she felt a small twinge of pride at the fact that she was capable of living her day to day life just as well as anyone who could see. Yes, she missed on out some things - seeing the smile on another's face, the view of the lake at sunset, the stars - but she had gained so much. Her hearing was flawless; it was likely just a side effect of the blindness, but her hearing was so much sharper and clearer than others could ever dream of. And this was a gift in itself, because she could hear the quiet sounds, the hidden songs, of everything in the waking world. She had taught herself how to play every instrument that she could get her hands on - she tended to shy away from the percussion and brass, instead finding her calling in strings and woodwind. Her talent was prodigious, and showed no signs of stopping. And in this, she took pride.

In this, and in being a Destrillian.

For what was a Destrillian, but a human raised to the peak of their potential? A Destrillian was a truly self-sufficient combat battalion on its own, needing only to be shown an enemy to eliminate - the job always got done. They needed no support, beyond an airlift. And why should this not extend into whatever personal lives they managed to eke out for themselves as well? Humans were pathetic creatures, clinging to each other in their small bands for safety and comfort. But what safety could another offer to her? What comfort was it that she needed? She had no need of bonds or ties to anyone. Elvan was the closest thing she had to a friend, and she was okay with that. She liked him well enough, but if she ever had a problem, she would deal with it herself, head-on, and not run to him like a sobbing child. The gentle whisper of the wind grew stronger, fanning the flames of anger within that always leapt up when she mused about such things.

As she got closer to her goal, her eyebrow twitched. She could feel it, however faintly, though it was a good way away. That unmistakable feeling, like water trickling out through a hole in a bottle, welling up and around the vessel. She was getting close.

Her hunch had been right.

That meant the other team wouldn't be too far away, either. She again could only hazard a guess at who it was shadowing the outlaws, but she was much more confident in her guess this time. And as such, she knew that maybe - just maybe - she might have to bring in the target on her own. She hoped she didn't have to, as the mission would be infinitely easier with their support. But if it came to it...she would do what needed to be done.

No man is an island, but this Destrillian is.
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Old 02/27/2011   #169

Lokka Kayne, Telran Miara & Kerr Nordstrom - Telran's apartment/Crawsus

Rested eyelids flutted open to the image of a mostly dark room, partially blocked by what seemed like a piece of paper. Lokka woke up with a slight yawn and removed what happened to be a sticky note from his forehead. He waited untill his eyes had adjusted to the darkness around him to attempt to read it:

Read the note on the desk - thoughts? Not sure what to think after Mileina. Reckon it's a good idea?

The note on the desk?

Lokka stretched out his limbs. He'd fallen asleep in Telran's office, away from the rest of the group, as he'd spent the whole night running through all the information they had for the coming ball. He had been using Telran's computer to find what information he could on the building itself, as well as Limnades. There was plenty of information available, but most of it was not as useful to the Destrillians as they'd like. If this was Osea, Prism would have known everything there was to know. He sighed, standing up and getting his bearings. Resting his arms on the desk, he gazed down at the note Telran had mentioned in his own:

Dear Bright Spark, I hope things are well and your absence isn’t due to anything unfortunate. Please note that the recent patch-up job you did has held out brilliantly and it’s all but healed. I have taken up residence in a local club and will endeavour to get in contact with you regarding information pertaining to our mutual friends.
Call me, 07789562131

Yours sincerely Cass.

Lokka read through the short note. Then he read it again, and again. There were clearly points he was missing, indicated by 'patch-up job'. Lokka could summise that 'Bright Spark' referred to Telran, and because of the link it meant that the author was aware of the electricity-destrillian's idenitity. That likely meant that 'mutual friends' referred to either the other Destrillians, or was being used sarcastically in reference to a threat, such as Mileina or the Lyverius. What bothered Lokka the most however, was how the note was signed.


He'd known someone by that name once, but it was a long time ago, and if it was the same person then it all seemed awfully coincidental.

He resolved to continue this conversation, not with himself, but with Telran instead. He checked the time on the computer he'd accidently left on over night.

"7:13am." he said to himself. Telran was a working man, he'd have no trouble waking up at this time - voluntarily or otherwise. Alongside taking a much needed shower the night before, Lokka had taken the liberty of washing his clothes using his friend's utilities. He hadn't any spare clothing with him, and he wasn't sure whether Telran's would fit him. He quickly pulled up his pair of trousers and threw his shirt on, not bothering to button up the top half completely. He left his jacket hung up in the room with the dark blue/purple tie placed on top of it. Taking the hastily-drawn note with him, he left the room and closed the door.

The apartment was mostly quiet. Lokka couldn't hear any voices and the only sounds that were being made came from impact of his foot upon the floor as he took slow steps. That and the sound of what seemed to be snoring, coming from one of the sleepers. Judging by the pitch, Lokka concluded that it was Nova. As there didn't seem to be any other sounds of movement, he guessed that Telran was still in his room and probably still asleep.

As he peered through the door he realised that he'd guessed correctly.

Telran. Are you awake?


The tattooed doctor was sitting in his usual seat in his favorite coffee shop, sipping on his usual drink of choice. It was a completely ordinary day, just like any other that had ever come before, and was very probably like every regular day that he would ever see.

Until it wasn't.

As he sat there, slowly drinking his coffee, appraising the looks of the newest server appreciatively (he made a mental note to make her acquaintance later), he idly doodled in the small pocket notepad that he kept inside his inner jacket pocket. He hadn't really been paying much attention to what he was drawing, but as he turned his attention back to the pad, something in it struck a chord inside. It was almost...familiar.

But wait, that didn't really make sense, did it...?

Telran. Are you awake?

"Hm?" he said, looking up at the sound of the familiar voice, expecting to see Lokka, the barrier manipulator, with those green eyes that were just a bit too...well, be quite normal. He realized the irony of the thought, of course, but it was there, all the same.

But there was no one there.

"Lokka? You there?" he asked, looking around him, from one side of the shop to the other, in search of his old friend. But search as he might, the golden eyes never clapped onto the sight of the Pale Shell.

"I know you're there, Lokka! I can hear you! But...why are you a disembodied voice?"

I need to talk to you.

Maybe he was just missing him in the crowd. Maybe he was looking too quickly - coffee rush and all that. This time, he peered about in a slower, more deliberate fashion, but there was definitely man with white hair and ghostly pale skin to be found. Ghostly...

"...are you a ghost?"asked Telran, curious, but not without a hint of...not fear, but something more like sadness. After all, how was he supposed to enjoy the company of a friend if the friend was invisible (and dead, too)?

It's important. Telran get up.

"Get up? What are you talking about? I am up." Wait, that didn't make sense. "The real question is where you are."



There was a sudden, stabbing, blinding flash of light...

...and then Telran was back in his bed, Lokka having just turned the lights on.

"Oh, damn, that's bright," Telran groaned, shutting his eyes tight as they began to adjust to the sudden brightness. "Warn me next time, huh?"

"I tried." Lokka replied, with a forced half-smile. "I'm going to be busy today, but I need to talk to you about this note." he said holding up the piece of paper left for him on the desk.

Telran's voice came muffled now, as he held a pillow over his face to block out the light. "The note from Castiel, right?"

"I suspected as much. You've made contact with him recently then?" Lokka paced across the room, setting the note down by the window.

"Yeah. Sewed him up at my clinic." Telran's grumbles were broken by the sound of a muffled yawn. "What time is it, anyway?"

"A quarter past seven," Lokka replied quickly, not wanting to divert the conversation from the topic at hand. "Why did he need patching up?"

"Damn, man, why so early?" he groaned in reply. But there was no point in delaying any further, so he swung his legs out of bed and looked at Lokka. "I've no idea what kind of trouble he got into, but he passed out after falling in my office window. Had a nasty cut and a minor concussion."

"So he's local?" Lokka leaned up against the wall.

"No idea," came the reply, with a bit of a frown. "He just...wandered off. Don't know where he went off to."

Lokka nodded in response. "I don't know what to make of this," he sighed "Mileina was one thing, but Castiel always seemed unstable. Even if he were to join us, I doubt he would be a stabilizing factor."

"Kind of what I thought, too. But...he is one of us, you know?"Telran spread his hands in deference. "What do you think we should do?"

Lokka paused for a second at that thought. He had assumed before now that Mileina was to be trusted because she was one of them. After that happened, Lokka didn't know who he could trust. The thought of contacting Castiel seemed like just as risky a move as going back to Mileina. But they were going back to Mileina. He looked back up at Telran "Does anybody else know about Castiel?"

He nodded. "Idris was there when I found the note in the clinic door yesterday. Dunno what she thinks about it - but I did tell her who he is."

"Ok," he thought about Idris for a moment and what her feelings may be on the events that had recently occured. "She is fine. I advise we don't tell anybody else, least of all Emma." Lokka sighed "It's been two years. What did you make of him?"

"Mmm...hard to say. He barely said anything to me. And I didn't really know him...back then. Not like you did." Telran frowned at something the other had said."Emma?"the electric prototype asked. "Why Emma?"

"Emma and Terra were close. I doubt when she finds out that there is a 'second Mileina' present, she will be happy," Lokka gripped his forehead between his fingers. "I didn't like him when we were in Viola - atleast not most of the time."

He sighed. "Give Castiel a call. See what he wants."

"Care to do the honors?"

Lokka headed for the door, and placed his palm on the doorframe as he got to it. "I'd rather not," he stated, before exiting into the hallway.

"...ah, crap." Telran just sighed. Nothing was more awkward than phoning someone you barely knew. And trying to convince one of the others probably wouldn't work very well, anyway. Looks like my clever ruse failed, huh? he "said", reaching for the phone on the bedside table to give the errant Castiel a call.

Lokka quietly made his way back into the office, to continue what research he could for the ball while he waited for the other Destrillians to wake up. I guess so...


Telran just smiled.


Lokka wasn't used to being in awkward or embarassing situations. There was never usually any call for it, and it wasn't a feeling that came naturally to him. The last time he truely felt out of place was standing in one of the many doorways he frequented within Terra and Emma's apartment. Even then it was involuntary. But this was something he was throwing himself into. He took a deep breath and dove in.

"I'm going clothes shopping. Would you like to come?"

At first, Kerr did not even seem react, inclining his head to one side to get a look out of the corner of his eye to see whether not Lokka had been addressing someone hiding behind him.

Lokka knew that Kerr wasn't expecting this, so he kept eye contact with the dark-clad Destrillian untill he got an answer out of him.

Noticing that the green eyed Destrillian hadn't moved, Kerr's eyes narrowed slightly as he realised that he was the one being talked to. Abruptly, he stood up out of Telran's chair and locked eyes with Lokka.

"Clothes shopping?" he repeated.

"Yes. We're going to need to be well-dressed for the ball. I don't mind going alone, but it would be more efficient this way. I found some information about the location, which may benefit us tomorrow." Lokka explained. He mostly expected for Kerr's refusal, but it was worth asking.

Kerr took a moment to consider, apparently unaware of the awkward silence that was stretching itself out in between the two men.

"Lets go." Kerr nodded towards the other Destrillian, turning to pick up the increasingly creased and worn jacket from the chair and heading for the apartment's door. Truthfully, Kerr was thankful for the distraction. Ever since the discussion yesterday, nobody had been speaking much within the confines of the apartment and the atmosphere had been even more tense than usual. This would at least give the gravity Destrillian something to keep his increasingly wearied mind occupied.

His green eyes widened a little as Lokka apparently hadn't even considered Kerr would so willingly accept the offer. Without much else to do, he took a few quick looks around the room, trying to remind himself of anything else he may need to work out before they left. With nothing presenting itself to him, Lokka nodded as Kerr headed to the door. He followed behind and left the apartment. As he closed the door behind them, Lokka remembered the one thing they would need that day. Money. Hesitantly, he brought up the matter.

"We are going to need some credits or notes. I don't know if we will get away with sneaking out high-class clothing from an upper class store."

Kerr didn't respond immediately as he turned the problem over in his mind. The pair walked into the elevator and the door hissed shut behind them. Kerr crossed his arms and grunted.

"Credits aren't a problem."

Lokka raised an eyebrow, but didn't take the conversation any further. It was clear he didn't need to. The door slid open as they reached the ground floor, and the pair exited the confines of the elevator and headed out onto the street.

"Are we taking the Winnebago?" asked the gravity Destrillian.

"I want to say no. It is still riddled with bullet holes, and we do not want to draw any attention back to Telran's apartment. At least not yet." Lokka thought for a second before coming to an obvious conclusion. "We could always just steal a car. We've done it twice before."

Kerr nodded his approval of the plan as the two passed a row of parked cars outside of the apartment building.

Not feeling any particular preference for any of the cars, looked walked right up to the first car in the row, the one closest to them. It looked like a hybrid between a sports car and a family car, likely reserved for one of those families that had a lot of money and liked to cruise around town on a school day, flashing their expensive jewellry in front of the other kids. Lokka patted the bonnet of the black car and faced Kerr.

"I assume you are driving?"


The car cruised through the streets at a leisurely pace. It felt almost unfamiliar being in a vehicle which wasn't driving through the streets at full throttle, or sitting in a stationary position. The pair had barely been in the car for half an hour and already Kerr had decided that this was much preferable to his experience in the Winnebago. The peace and quiet was the most striking, the commotion of the past week seemed to melt away into the background and even though the silence here was comparable to that of the apartment, he felt none of the tension that was so evident there. The apprehension that came with the calm before the storm.

It had been quite a few days since Lokka had joined the group. By this time he'd made and decided his opinions on most of them, but Kerr wasn't quite that simple. Sometimes his behaviour indicated that he would rather not have anything to do with the rest of the them. On the other hand, he'd been through it all. He had plenty of opportunities to not be a part of it since their escape from Osea, and yet he stayed with them as an active cog in the planned solution to most of their endeavours. The dark-eyed destrillian's motivation was the one thing that boggled Lokka. The pair worked well together when it was crunch-time, but between those moments it became hazy.

"Where are we going?" asked the Destrillian of gravity, interrupting his companion's train of thought.

"Nowhere specific comes to mind. I am sure we can obtain the money easily enough. We will need to head into the retail district to buy the clothes." The older destrillian responded

Kerr grunted an incoherent reply of acknowledgement, turning the wheel of the car and directing it into the heavy flow of traffic heading towards the centre of the city.

"Do you..." Kerr began, slowly, before abruptly cutting himself off in mid-sentence. As though he had rethought the idea of entering into conversation with his companion.

Lokka stared at the driver for a few moments, trying to judge whether or not he planned to continue his sentence. "Do I what?"

Kerr turned to face the other Destrillian, his face slightly contorted in an irritated frown, as though he was seriously weighing up the benefits of actually finishing what he had to say.

"Do you think either of these plans will actually work?" Kerr seemed slightly taken aback as he spoke the words, as though this small measure of doubt was alien when it was spoken through his mouth.

Lokka's surprise was unexpected, even to him. It seemed like a question spoken completely out of context, and yet it wasn't.

"Yeah. I do," he motioned Kerr to face the road while he was driving before continuing "It has as much chance of working as the plan to escape Osea. I don't think we have any other choice here." He sat back on his seat, spending a few moments going over the basic outline of the plan. When laid out completely, it seemed like a fine plan. On the other hand there were so many assumptions being made about conditions at the ball. He shook off the doubt.

"Choice?" Kerr snorted bitterly, "There's a choice. We could leave." he let the question hang in the air, which suddenly seemed to have become much heavier on the inside of their stolen car.

"And leave Terra? Let Fiona die? How is that a ch-" Lokka stopped himself with a sudden realisation. Kerr never seemed like he cared much about the others before, so why was he even here in the first place? Now was as good a time as any to get some answers. "And what would you do instead?"

"Stay alive." Kerr responded grimly. His keen mind was all too aware of the extent of the forces that were now hunting down the Destrillians from every angle.

"How fulfilling." Lokka remarked. He knew Kerr was aware that everything died eventually, and he wasn't going to have that philosophical debate right now. "So why don't you leave?"

If Kerr had heard Lokka's question then he didn't acknowledge it with even a glance, his pitch black eyes were instead drawn to a sight outside the car's windows.

The white-haired destrillian didn't take the conversation any further. Either Kerr didn't have an answer, which was understandable, or it was a touchy subject. Instead his attention had been drawn to the fact that his dark-eyed companion was once again not focusing on the road. "What are you looking at?"

"Take the wheel." Kerr ordered the other Destrillian. Barely giving him any time to finish his sentence, the gravity Destrillian had opened the door of the slowly moving car and leapt out, his eyes fixed on the target in front of him. He had kept his eyes on the elderly man since the duo had abandoned the heavy traffic and turned onto this street. The man was fat, old and clearly wealthy judging by the fine cut of his slate grey suit.

Lokka had barely grasped the wheel before Kerr seemingly fell out of the car. He'd watched as his comrade hit the street and started following somebody. "Sometimes it's like having a second Stolz."

The elderly man caught the slightest glimpse of the young man, his expression of surprise turning into one of horror for a mere moment before the knife in Kerr's hand whipped itself around the man's head to plunge into the base of his skull. The target was dead almost as soon as he had seen the Destrillian, and Kerr's swift hands had relieved the man of his fat leather wallet before he had collapsed on the floor.

The car had slowed down just a little out of view of the now deceased man, allowing Kerr to easily slip back into the driver's seat after he had finished. "What did you do with the body?" Lokka didn't need to watch what Kerr did after he left the vehicle to have a pretty accurate stab at it.

"Left it." Kerr replied sharply, his attention was elsewhere as he rifled through the wallet and relieved it of the thick wad of paper bills.

"How much?" Lokka asked.

"More than enough." the Destrillian of gravity answered, pocketing the bills and tossing the wallet out of the window.


"How does this look?" Lokka asked uncomfortably, coming out from behind a dressing curtain donning an orange suit. He stepped slowly out of the small cubicle and turned around so that the back could be seen. He was always rather dense about fashion.

Kerr shot the Destrillian a withering look over his shoulder, turning away from inspecting the meticulously measured suit jacket that had been thrust upon him by the heavily accented attendant that the pair had managed to flag down.

"Too bright? Not bright enough?"

"Sir? I believe this is the item you requested?"

Kerr was thankful for the interruption, Lokka's voice was starting to get grating. Wordlessly, he took the white card box from the attendant, a rake thin man a receeding hairline of whispy black coils. He carelessly removed the lid to reveal a half mask, crafted from a thin sheet of white porcelain and designed to cover half of his exposed face. Crucially, the mask would cover both of his eyes, or at least make it look as though the blacks of his eyes were built into it, whilst its diagonal cut that started above his left cheek bone and curled down to behind his right jawline left his mouth and nostrils exposed.

"I never found putting on a mask to be very appealing."

Lokka rolled his eyes and turned back into his dressing room. A few of the items he had picked out to try on were scattered across the floor, including a top hat and dark brown walking cane. It was a bit much, but they didn't want to seem like they were intentionally trying to blend in. Another item he'd picked up in the adjacent shop were a pair of glasses tinted black. Lokka would use them to conceal the unnatural pigment of his eyes, and he was sure that Kerr also had some plan for his own. He dressed back into his usual wear and picked the less vibrant suit he'd tried on earlier, to take to the counter.

"Are we all done?" Kerr asked

"I guess so. You pay, I'll get the car." Lokka stated, leaving his bags of clothing in Kerr's possession as he exited the shop and headed to the end of the street, comfortable in the knowledge that their ever so slightly awkward odyssey into the human world of retail had been met with relative success.


Less than an hour later, Kerr pulled the car up in an alleyway just around the corner from Telran's apartment. They didn't know when they might need an additional vehicle, and it was wise not to park this find too close to it's original owner. The pair got out of the vehicle, removed their shopping bags from the boot and started walking toward the accomodation that was currently housing the destrillians.

The drive back from town had been reasonably quiet. Lokka and Kerr barely found any need to talk to each other unless it was about something completely necessary. Lokka's mind was fixated on the conversation that his companion had dropped earlier in the car. It seemed Kerr didn't want to talk about the reason, if there was one, he was staying with the group. By his own logic it didn't seem to make much sense, putting himself at risk by staying with a group that had a nack for drawing attention to themselves. Lokka let his mind wander on the subject, but didn't bring it up a second time with the gravity-destrillian. The group itself was full of interesting characters. Some of their motives were quite clear. Other's like Kerr and Jettison seemed steeped in mystery. Only time would tell what the real reason was.

As the pair stepped over the thick concrete, the white-haired man couldn't help but think about another of his kin. He'd departed just over a week ago to return to Osea. After the havoc the destrillians had caused simply escaping from the place, it seemed like a pretty strange idea. But Kram was a strange individual. Lokka silently wished him luck in his endeavors as he stepped into Telran's building. He didn't even know if Kram would find his way back to them. If the destrillians planned to keep a lower profile than they had in the past, then it might prove difficult to relocate them.

A thought occurred to Lokka as he knocked on the door to Telran's apartment. After Emma had let him in and greeted the pair, he walked straight into Telran's room. The tattooed destrillian wasn't actually inside so atleast his friend wouldn't be walking in on anything, though Lokka hadn't the decency to check before hand. Without much hesitation he picked up the otherwise discarded piece of paper that had Castiel's note written on it, and turned it over. He produced a small device from his pocket and found a code he was searching for before scrawling on the piece of paper:


My PDA code. So you'll always know where to find me.


Satisfied with the message that he had left, he placed it back in it's original place and stood the pen upright on the surface. It would atleast draw Telran's attention to the note so that he may notice the new message.

The day's outing had finished, at least for Lokka. All that was left to do now was further prepare for the next day. He left the bedroom and returned to the office, leaving Kerr to sink back into the armchair that he had claimed for himself his features adorned with a look of deep thought. Laying down his bag of clothes on the floor and turning the computer back on, Lokka cracked the knuckles on his right hand and got back to work.

Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!

Last edited by Joe; 02/27/2011 at 03:59 AM.
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Old 02/28/2011   #170


“You should have seen them, Fiona. They were so stupid!”

So stupid, Thetis thought to herself as she perched on the end of the spare bed. She waited for a response. None came. A ferry horn sounded in the distance. There was nothing to do now, nothing but wait for an hour, a mere hour until everything would be decided. Thetis stiffened and waited for Fiona’s coughing fit to pass. In the eyes of the others, what came to pass at Limnades would hardly matter. How Thetis wished to be one of them; to be cold; to be heartless. Only she had seen Fiona as she existed outside of Viola. At her worst, she was impossible. At her best? Improbable. But what was a Destrillian if not unpredictable? If things had been different – and they could have been different- the pair of them would have been in Osea now, and whether together or apart, at least they could have set store in a future. Now, now she longed for an apartment that let water in through the rafters, an apartment where she could see her breathe catch in the air every winter, where the sharp bangs of broken down cars, the smashing of windows and the shouts of the police offered a paradoxical backdrop to her security.

The world was silent here.

Four walls and a little warmth, Thetis thought to herself as a sticky breeze floated through the window. That’s all I need. Her lips twitched. She couldn’t even feel an echo of those days now, none of the mundane excitement of a normal life, the comforting process of one simple event after another; sleep, wake, work, eat, sleep. Yes, she had security here, and the company of the others; not that it meant much. Nothing could dispel their complete indifference to everything that was happening. It was awful, that feeling of being under the scrutiny of others, the constant watch of those who quite simply didn’t understand. Their stares were splints in her side, and she felt outcast already. None were even bothered enough to help her, that was, except for the doctor. The doctor she had known for only three days. The thought embittered her. How could having a touch of the slightest compassion be so isolating? Things had hardly changed at all. Thetis remembered Viola and how no-one much cared for anyone else there, either. Yes, she remembered how the only person who had, had cared too much. The only one who had been able to force Fiona to listen, to listen just for once, had left basement five with a bullet in her back.

Because Fiona never listened to anyone, did she? Let alone the scrawny, pale-faced girl sat on the end of the bed. Thetis felt her body turn to lead. Her shoulders sank, her head drooped and her heart dropped. Fiona seemed not to have heard Telran when he told her she would not survive. Then again, neither had Thetis, not until Fiona had fallen out of her head for the second time in three days. No, she thought. Fiona heard, that’s for sure. She just didn’t care. In fact, Thetis could distinctly recall how Fiona had told Telran that she would be happy – yes, happy- if she had dropped off the planet there and then. What confused Thetis was why she cared whether Fiona died in the first place. She was rude, she was violent, and she did the most reckless things out of nothing more than bravado. But what bothered Thetis was the thought that if she was in Fiona’s position, Fiona wouldn’t have so much as batted an eyelid.

It had to be something though, something that had placed Fiona above Terra and the others. Perhaps it was a subconscious need to protect her that sprang solely from the escape, from them being in league together. Together. Thetis smiled. She liked that word. Two-gether. The two of them, stuck with one another for over four years. Not like that ‘I’, one of the few things she could understand on paper. The solitary ‘I’ that stood upright and apart. Bold and confident; but alone nonetheless. Her and Fiona. Two, we, us. Maybe that was why she cared so much.

When she thought about it logically, there were plenty of other reasons. Fiona’s power was amazing; her strength, unmatched. Perhaps that was why the thought of being without her struck terror into Thetis. There had always been a sense, a cautious presentiment of something that was going to separate them.

But not this.

Sounds of conversation passed through the shut door. Things could have been different, Thetis thought as she shuffled towards Fiona and propped her up against the headboard. Things should have been different. Carefully, she slipped one of Fiona’s arms into her vest before doing the same with the other. It was difficult to hold Fiona upright. Although it was to be expected, it still sent a shiver of fear through the water Destrillian. Fiona was many things, but helpless was not one of them. A knock on the door made Thetis start. It was time. Before she could stop herself, the blue-haired girl had wrapped her arms around the fire prototype. “We’ll be okay,” she rested her forehead against Fiona’s. “I promise.”
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Old 03/02/2011   #171

Jettison sat, cross-legged, on the carpeted floor of Telran’s apartment, with a great deal of finery laid out in front of her that she had very little actual care for, contemplating a great deal of unfathomable strategy on what she would present herself as when it came to arriving at the ball.

Most of it was stolen, of course, taken effortlessly from a variety of shops that wouldn’t notice its disappearance until their owners checked their storerooms perhaps a few days later. Her early-morning trip around Crawsus had paid off dividends, and while the wares she had in front of her might not have been as high class as the dresses and accessories found in Villnore, it wouldn’t take much to make them even better.

It was odd picking and choosing what basic elements to incorporate into her character. Everything that she would wear, say, and act out would be fabrications, absolute lies. The indulgence of clothing, handbags and jewellery were that of someone else entirely - a young woman several years older than Jettison, not one so outstanding from the crowd as to be spectacular and glamorous, the attention of all the men around her, but one with striking beauty that could lure someone into freer speech just through subtle, seductive idle talk. The dominating madam from the Orange Zone sewers, with her riding crop and dark leathers, was not the character she needed.

But some adjustments to the figure, cheekbones a tad higher, and the expertise of a ballroom dancer, and Jettison would be once again the woman the mission needed her to be.

The dress that she had picked out was not the most fanciful of the lot she had seen in the shops she had browsed. In fact, it had been her intention not to find something clearly high-class, but something as plain as day, but with the potential to be something more under the hands of a gifted seamstress.

It was some form of satin, no doubt, the sheen and microscopic layout of the weave a distinct giveaway. The store she had found it in was full of oddities, however, and this was no exception. Jettison was not expecting to find it at all; it was an inconspicuous corner shop that, when broken into, had a variety of infrared detectors and security countermeasures.

Not that they were any good with the power completely disabled in that block of shops. But she discovered the strangest paraphernalia: bottles of chemicals stacked in rows, compression wear like that she had never seen before; multi-purposed camping gear and rows and rows of what were supposedly as everyday clothes, which was where she found the particular dress she was putting on now.

It was dark burgundy, yet it had a sheen that suggested it could be possibly another color. Light glanced off it, silk-like, but there was such rainbow iridescence to it that Jettison found herself analyzing every wavelength to the smallest of details. There was something crystalline about the thread which fascinated her, and while it would not be the easiest of fabrics to manipulate, it instantly gratified her in a way she found most disturbing.

But as indulgent as all this was, she kept her focus on her goal, and it would ostensibly also involve a degree of fast sneaking and killing. The easier the dress would be to run in, the better. She made a mental note to bring a safety pin with her before she left.

Jettison somewhat missed the steel pole she had left behind before crossing the Artolian border, but she had to make do with what she had. Raiding a gun store was more difficult than other stores, like breaking into anything locked and caged by a few thousand pounds of machined steel, but eventually she found something she could be pleased with: carefully weighted throwing knives, with matching chain and leather sheaths. With the most subtle of thread and needle, she attached them to the back of the dress, and went about her business of finalizing her appearance.

As for her other accessories, Jettison settled for a porcelain half-mask she had discovered in some dress-up store. Already of higher quality than the other cheap wares being sold, she slapped the elastic on behind her head, taking care not to warp the plastic backing too much. Synthetic rubies encrusted in the thin porcelain gave the mask a more severe profile, and she removed some of the more obtrusive black feathers before she was satisfied with it. The little characteristics about it that had caught her eye were the two moulded tracks from each eyehole, gilded to resemble liquid tears of gold.
A nice touch.

Adding a dark rose shawl to her shoulders, a pair of suede gloves and a stolen leather purse, the woman standing at the mirror gave a winning smile and a velvety voice. “This will be a night all of us will remember, hmmm? The dance will be... such a pleasure.” She cycled through her look and settled on a face that would please: fuller, more crimson lips, cream-white skin, a strong jawline and long hair that cascaded straight downwards like liquid shadow, punctuated by ivory streaks, and two pairs of intense, violet irises.

The character was complete, and come the next day Jettison would slip into the role like a glove.
死の果までも追い掛けます、 探し出し

RIP in peace old sig lolol 04/2015

Don't believe your eyes? Don't be surprised.

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Old 03/02/2011   #172
Alessa Gillespie

Had it been days? Maybe hours had passed. Maybe it was only minutes. She did know that her head was pounding and it had been pounding for quite some time since she'd woken up. Her mouth felt thick and gummy in her mouth and she was fairly certain she wouldn't be getting water. She tried to get her mind off of her thirst by thinking about how she'd gotten there.

She was definitely kidnapped again, that much she was certain of. She hoped Emma would save her again, knowing the pathetic state she was constantly in, but she was starting to think that maybe if they killed her here or whatever, it might make her more of useful she'd been lately. Then she heard someone talking to her.

Eye am terruh mikals she tried to tell him telepathically.

"Woa now, telepathy. Been awhile since anyone's comminicated with me that way." The man replied to her, a bit surprised.

"So Terra then? Well my name's Lyle. Lyle Corner, Destrillian number twenty-six at your service....kinda, not really a lot I can do right now." He said as he tugged at the metal collar around his neck. "Damn thing gives me a shock when I try to use my power. So anyway Terra, how'd you end up here?"

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The details were a little fuzzy, but she remembered that she was singled out from her friends and that they hadn't tried to save her then. Maybe they didn't want to at all. She sucked in a slow breath as she told herself even if they didn't want to save her, she'd be okay.

She tried again to tell him something eye do nawt rekall. eye thinck sum1 tuk mii. Even if it hurt, what choice did she have but to endure some pain if she wanted to hold any conversation?

Lyle made a weak smile. "Don't supose that someone was a bi-polar psychopath with ribbons in her hair by any chance? Cause that's who got me locked up in here."

Souns rite she responded. She was too tired for any actual emotion to show up on her face besides the exhaustion she was feeling. She just had to deal with it, especially if no one else was going to come and save her.

"Thought so." Lyle replied. "Mileina is a crafty one, told me that Viola had screwed up and we'd die after a short while out of the facility without treatment. Course I believed her and hurried here as fast as I could only to land myself and my friend into a demon's lair - which aptly describes the people...well not really people...things here." Finishing his sentence while straining to maintain a smile on his face.

Eye dunno wat shes gonna do. locka and her were talkin an thin thay startd two fite She said cautiously. Maybe he knew Lokka? He seemed to know the other lady, at least.

He raised an eyebrow from hearing those words. "Mr. Barriers Lokka Kayne is here? Well I guess that's some luck to know you at least had someone with you that crazy Mileina hasn't gotten her hands on. Hope he can find you soon, otherwise..." Lyle's weak smile finally turned into a frown. "If I had any form of currency on me I'd bet it all on the likelyhood that Mileina and those demons will turn us into whatever Jamelyn and Travis are now, who, if you don't know them, are those two characters that hang around Mileina with zero personality, also formerly Destrillians."

Terra slowly nodded in response to what this Lyle guy was saying. She wasn't actually sure whether they did or didn't formerly have personality, but the way he talked about it, whatever she was doing was not anything good. Sew u think... locka and every1 else hasn't... She trailed off, nodding her head ef thay com eye hope thay help u two.

"I'd like to hope that, but your friends better hurry. Those bastards already took Lalain to do god knows what with her and they've been doing all sorts of scans and tests with a disturbing amount of focus on my brain area. Starting to really feel like the child from that old fairytale Lalain told me awhile ago..."

Wat faireetail? she asked. She didn't remember anyone mentioning Lalain, so she assumed that she was perhaps a friend of his. Which made it all the more worrying that they took someone who may have not even been Destrillian...

"Well it's less like a fairytale and more like a story parents use to scare kids from wandering into strange places." Lyle replied then thought to himself for a moment. "Lemme think how it went, ah that's right. Once there was this kid out playing with their friends in a forest somewhere around their home, during which they got lost and wandered deeper into the woods, where they stumbled across an bizzare dwelling made of stone. The kid was curious and went inside, only to find a room with a closed doorway in the floor. The doors read 'The Gates to the underworld' and the same curiosity that made them go inside drove them to open these gates, which revealed a hole that went down for who knows how long. Bad news for the kid tho, as from that dark hole crawled out serveral demons, with glowing red eyes and big, freaky grins. Well the kid was scared shitless of course, so the demons acted friendly towards the kid and assumed forms that looked more like a human, still creepy mind you but not as bad as before. So the kid settles down and starts talking with the demons, telling them everything on his mind wether it be about his friends, family or the outside world in general. Now at this point the demons were hooked on his every word, becoming almost excited from hearing about the human race that dwelled on the surface. Once they heard everything they wanted to they thanked the child, then outright devoured him, although Lalain dumbed it down by saying 'The demons gobbled him up', and afterwards the demons dissapeared into the world outside. Story ends with a tag line that went 'Don't go near the demons. If they entice you into their lair, they'll devour you whole'." Lyle finished by letting out a sigh.

"So yeah, demons with glowing red eyes that lure you in then proceed to eat you. Might just be an old myth but all I know is that there's a bunch of scary people around here with the red glow in their eyes, which is why I've been calling them demons and have a very grim outlook of the situation."

Terra frowned. Although she didn't know if the people who had captured her had red eyes or their plans included gobbling them up, she was at least assured that they were going to do something bad. Her right arm was shaking violently and she had to press down on it with her other arm. U don think there's n e way owt do u?

"Not really." Lyle said bluntly.

"I'd say that assessment is a rather accurate one." a calm, male voice echoed out from the darkness.

Terra turned her head toward the darkness but couldn't make anyone out. Her arm continued to shake to the point she had to slip it partially under her leg to prevent it from hurting herself. Even if she didn't make it out, maybe the others would be able to stay clear enough that they'd be okay, repeating this thought over and over in her head like some sort of mantra.

"I see that the third has regained consciousness, excellent. I have a special guest here who is quite interested in meeting her." The voice spoke again, walking out of the darkness to reveal a tall, slender man in his thirties dressed in a very expensive-looking aristocratic attire. Next to him on either side stood Mileina and Flutwelle.

"Yes, yes that's right. I've been very in-ter-es-ted in being able, able to study a spe-ci-men from the first faciltiy, facility." Another voice sounded from the darkness, this one female, sounding very strange and almost delirious, randomly slowing down and repeating words.

The man looked back to the darkness then at Terra. "Third Destrillian, might I introduce Solaris. She is one of our organisation's oldest and most important leading figures."

"My, my, Avidez. You flatter me with your, with your in-tro-duc-tion." Solaris replied as she walked past Avidez and his two subordinates towards Terra, where she crouched down to be face to face with the Destrillian. Despite Avidez claiming she was an old member, her appearance suggested mid 20's, with pale skin, dark purple hair and matching eyes. The whole time since she emerged from the shadows she had a eerie grin on her face and never broke eye contact with brown-haired girl. "So you are are one of the chil-dren that toppled, toppled Vi-ol-a?"

Terra said nothing. Well, not like she actually could, anyways, she was tired of the zaps she got from trying to communicate. But she also didn't necessarily think what this Solaris person was correct in saying that they had toppled Viola. The other Destrillians took advantage of an already troubled situation, no more and no less. She was growing tired for the end, and she just wanted to be able to get 'gobbled up' or whatever while she was still herself.

"Your lack of words, of words, suggests that you lack the ability, ability to speak. Yet even still you say noth-ing, a shame, a shame. But no mind, com-mun-i-ca-tion is not required, required for what we have planned for you, you." Solaris added as she brushed her fingers across the side of Terra's face.

"Indeed" Avidez spoke up again. "But for now, we shall finish the transition on the other one. I have a feeling we'll need aditional personel for tonight's event." And gestured towards Lyle.

Terra frowned at her only companion, his time evidently up. Gudbai... lyle. She hadn't known him very long, but it almost made the fact he was going to... die or whatever it was they were planning on doing to him more painful. Terror was seizing her, and she couldn't stop the entire right side of her body from shaking uncontrollably.

Take care Terra, I hope 'ol Lokka and his pals bust you out in time. Just don't worry about me okay? Heck, I don't know where I'm going, but I'm sure Lalain will be there. And Lyle smiled back at her as Mileina and Flutwelle dragged him off into the darkness, with Avidez following in tow.

"Well, it seems there's work to be, to be done now. But don't worry, worry. Your time will come shortly, shortly." Solaris said to the girl as she stood up and turned to walk slowy away into the darkness.

The earth Destrillian tucked her shaking arm underneath the other and sat quietly in the dark, hoping against hope that her friends would want to rescue her. And perhaps even more strongly, hoping that they wouldn't come looking for her.

is daddy still a good man?
like a shotgun needs an outcome

don't trust the ones who shake with their left hand



can you fight a legendary creature?

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Old 03/13/2011   #173

(Shortly before the raid on Limnades HQ)

Telran lay sprawled across his bed. He hadn't been able to sleep all that well the night before; something about knowing what was coming - the trials that were ahead, the danger that they were about to be facing - there was just something about it that made him nervous. Really, really nervous.

He rolled onto his side, hands folded behind his neck, cradling his head between his elbows.

What have I gotten myself into?

In the span of barely three days, he'd gone from being an inconspicuous doctor living a comfortable life to what the news channels would soon be calling a terrorist. While it was true that life "as a human" was somewhat empty and devoid of meaning - and incredibly lonely, if he were being completely honest with himself - there was something appealing about its simplicity. Not having to keep one eye open when you slept was never a bad thing, and he never really wanted for anything - not physically, at least. And yet here he was, moment from just...throwing it all away.

His breath came more slowly now, full and deep. "And for what?" he whispered, a soft, wry chuckle escaping him, accompanied by the tiniest of snorts. For what? For a bunch of people he barely knew? A group who he had absolutely no ties to beyond that one, single, solitary, insular, tiny little thing - their common origin. Viola. Yes, in a way, it did make them some sort of bizarre, dysfunctional-in-the-extreme surrogate family, but, even so - what was that really worth? They certainly wouldn't risk their lives to save his, would they? They didn't even look for the rest of us, he thought bitterly. But no, wait - Idris had said that they didn't know about the existence of the second facility. But even then, they didn't find it strange that one of their number had disappeared and never come back? No, he sighed. No. It's not fair to blame them for all of that. They had troubles enough of their own. But even so, it seemed like he'd done nothing but bend over backwards for these people, and they'd done nothing but make his life more difficult in exchange. And all without the tiniest word of gratitude or thanks. Instead, they squabbled and bickered amongst themselves over whatever it was that had happened in Osea, and only spared him notice when it came time to criticize or place the blame on someone.

He could almost feel it in the way they looked at him - why hasn't he cured Fiona yet?

Never mind everything else he had done; never mind what he had said; the fact was that he wasn't able to just wave a magic wand and make her healthy again. No one ever seemed to get that it wasn't that simple. They didn't listen. He'd told them Fiona was on death's door; but to them, he was just some charlatan, some quack doctor selling sharkodile oil as some mythical cure-all, the faded shadow of a lost Destrillian, past his prime and turned traitor to his roots. Not that he wasn't used to that sort of thing - he'd had the clinic more than long enough to encounter that almost daily. But maybe it was the fact that it was his peers passing judgment on him that bothered him so much. ...or maybe I'm projecting onto them...

He exhaled, screwing his eyes shut as he did. Damn it.

He knew that, no matter what he told himself, what they thought of him, how little thought they gave him - none of it mattered. He would do what had to be done, because it had to be done, like it or not. The inherent self-sacrifice was...unfortunate, but necessary. Telran sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He sat for a moment, elbows on his knees, head in his hands, staring at the floor as his fingers slowly slipped through his two-toned hair. His thumb gently grazed his ear, lingering for the briefest of moments upon the metal piercing in its outer arch. A tiny sigh broke the silence that hung over the room. Fine, then, he thought, standing up.

Let's get started.


Once he had veiled himself in the workman's overalls that formed part of his disguise, he took a moment to evaluate. He probably wouldn't be able to take his jacket, so he instead tucked one of his folding hunting knives into his back pocket. He slipped on a thin but sturdy pair of gloves - no sense leaving them any more evidence than necessary. He also made certain to securely fasten his watch (with its hidden wire) about his wrist - there would be nothing suspicious about a deliveryman with a timepiece, after all. He had taken but two steps out of his bedroom door before a thought struck him. He slipped into the office, easing a small metallic case into the inner pocket of the overalls. Never know when these might come in handy...

He then reappeared in the hallway, where the bustling sounds of the others could plainly be heard. Bypassing the living room, he happened across Lokka as he exited the bathroom. There was much to say - much, indeed - but there was no time. They had their missions; now it was time to see them completed. They looked at each other for a brief moment before shaking hands, with only two words, softly spoken, breaking the silence.

"Good hunting."

Lokka nodded, moving past him, back toward the living room, where the rest of the group seemed to be gathered. The will of the world was impatient, insistent that events move along. And so Telran stopped just outside the door to the guest bedroom, then knocked softly.

It was time to go.


As the man called Nova drove their stolen delivery van, trundling along the emptying streets of Villnore, Telran sat in silent thought.

This is it. The van hit a large bump, shaking the trio in their seats, Nova chuckling and making some joke or other. This was what it all came down to; the moment of truth, as the humans often called it. The moment that all this preparation had been for; what it all came down to. This was it.

Time to find out if we live or die.
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Old 03/14/2011   #174

Castiel De Lioncourt
The Outlander Club

Castiel smiled as he hung up the receiver, unlike the usual phone calls he received this one was full of good news and finally answered questions he longed for. He now knew what he needed to do and although the phone call had shed light on a lot of things it still left more unanswered. Turning away from the receiver he made his way to the shower, a grin spread wide across his face.

Half an hour later his bruised ribs and tired muscles felt refreshed from the scalding hot shower. The machine’s red light was flashing annoyingly meaning a message lay in wait. Hitting the button for the loudspeaker he started to towel himself off in the kitchen area, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge. The click of the machine echoed through the ground floor flat and a gruff cough was all that could be discerned “Castiel, pick up” the voice boomed. Castiel knew it was Mr White but couldn’t care less what the human had to say, “I know your there Castiel I have the club monitored at all times and know you haven’t left since last we spoke.” The line went silent for several more seconds; Castiel merely sat on the kitchens work counter with the towel wrapped around his waist as he swigged water. “God-damnit you impudent child answer me!” The line beeped and the message ended. Castiel had never heard the human lose his temper and instead of being angry he merely grinned himself.
“You would think a human who just had a small entourage of trained killers eliminated for him would be more happy” he thought. Jumping off the countertop he was quick to dress and found a large black satchel bag hidden in the back of one of the wardrobes. He packed accordingly to the occasion and zipped up the bag before throwing it over his shoulder and exiting the club through the back door. With a lingering smile he closed the door behind him and left the club and Mr White to their own devices.

Mr White
Private Office

“You’re losing your hold on the situation Charles.” The emotionless voice purred across Mr White’s phone causing his hand to grip the receiver so hard he could hear the plastic crack. “Not only did you fail to secure his cryo-unit properly but now the squad I sent has been decimated and all you can do is drive him back to your little club and pray he waits there for your next command.” Mr White tried to not let his voice betray his emotions as he replied, “I admit, things have not progressed as I would have hoped. The weapon awoke without prior instruction and the drug treatment did nothing to wipe his memories but I still have control of the situation. He still needs me to supply him with information and as long as I don’t allow him to know of the others he will follow my orders without question.” The line was silent for several seconds; Mr White couldn’t determine whether this was a good or bad sign. “Very well Charles, you have another week. I will be arriving personally to oversee the operation and determine whether the subject is beyond retrieval. Know this Charles, I’m holding you personally responsible for anything that goes wrong from this point on.” The line clicked dead and Charles Maximillion White placed the receiver back in its cradle before burying his face in his hands, “Oh god what have I done”.
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Old 03/15/2011   #175


Raising two kids is hard enough on a salary. Doing it on an hourly wage was next to impossible. But somehow, Johnny and his wife managed to make it work.

Johnny worked hard - he did. Honest. No matter what his wife might think. He didn't like being forced to go from job to job any more than she liked seeing him do it - but contrary to popular belief, it was never his fault. Something bad alwayshappened within weeks, if not days, of him starting. Like with his most recent job - he'd just started working at this really nice, high-class, posh Villnorian hotel, and some insane guest had trashed the room; somehow, he'dtaken the blame for that and been fired. It didn't even make sense! Or the time he'd gotten that job working as a receptionist for Agasa; it wasn't his fault his computer had suddenly exploded when he logged onto it his second day there. And there was no way that he could possibly be blamed for that freak gasoline accident that brought down the country inn that he worked at before that.

It wasn't his fault.

But try and get Jill to understand that. All she saw was the constant stream of dismissals from work. And it's not like shecouldn't work from home still to help out with the bills. But, of course, Johnny would never tell her this...not again, anyway. Not after last time. If you looked closely, you could still see the marks she'd left on him for that remark.

Fortunately, her family was well to-do, but he hated being indebted to them. They never asked for repayment, of course - or anything at all. But there was nothing like the waves of revulsion and humiliation that coursed through him every time he had to ask them for help.

Johnny sighed.

He was lucky, though. He'd managed to get this job as a security guard for the Limnades Corporation, working at their headquarters in the capital. The capital! That's where the good money was. He had been incredibly pleased with himself when he'd gotten the interview, and even more so when he landed the job. Jill certainly showed her gratitude that night, he thought, somewhat smugly.

Today was his first day on the job - so far, so good. From the looks of things, this was going to be an easy, cushy, do-nothing job that would finally allow him to get from under his in-laws' thumbs. As he sat in the rather comfortable chair at the desk in the security office, his only job was to watch the monitors and report any suspicious activity, and to let in delivery personnel. Simple.

Indeed, it was as these thoughts ran through his mind that the first bit of activity in his already half-over shift occurred: a delivery van pulled up to make a delivery at the back entrance. My first delivery, Johnny thought with a smile as he got up to let the delivery man in, heart swelling with a hint of pride.


After lifting the work uniforms from the back of an unused delivery van, the group had felt a fresh surge of confidence. A surge of confidence that disappeared entirely the minute they tried on their disguises.
"We look stupid," Thetis grumbled as she stepped into a worn pair of overalls. However, the water Destrillian didn't seem to be the only one having trouble with her new outfit. Telran appeared to be struggling to fit his mohawk under a cap, and Nova, whose muscles had already ripped through the sleeves, seemed fit to burst out of the disguise if he so much as took a deep breath. The dark-skinned man hunched over the steering wheel as the van crept to a halt outside a door labelled 'LIMNADES: GOODS ONLY'. They had ignored Thetis' protests and opted to escort Fiona through the pharmaceutical company in an over-sized metal box (one that Idris had so generously modified for them).

"You think you look stupid? You're not trying to cram too much hair into a too tight cap," came Telran's muttered reply. He'd managed to get his overalls on just fine, which proudly bore the Omnis Freight logo on both front and back. The cap was setting him back, though; letting his mohawk down was simple enough - he kept it erect with a touch of static electricity, after all - but the cap itself was about two sizes too small for his head, and that did not mix well with his rather thick hair. He began to growl in frustration as he struggled vainly to get the undersized cap on.

The two looked over at Nova. "Is there anything you can do to help...?" Telran asked.

"Say what? Don' look at me, man. I just work here. I drive this baby, you do the tough talk this time, son."

"I take it you're not coming in, then."

Nova just laughed.


As Johnny opened the door, he could see the logo on the side of the delivery truck - OMNI FREIGHT. Approaching the vehicle, he spotted two people near the rear, one of whom, a tall, dark male, was struggling with a large metallic box. "Need some help?" he called.

Telran didn't reply, choosing instead to glare at him from the corner of his eye. The box was just large enough to be unwieldy, and he was having a bit of difficulty getting it onto the handtruck without jarring the flame Destrillian it held unnecessarily.

"I've got it," Thetis mumbled, keeping her head down as she stooped to help Telran with the box. Fiona was heavier than she thought, not to mention the amount of metal Idris had packed into the box to make it sturdy enough for transit. With more difficulty than should have been neccessary for a pair of Destrillians, Telran and Thetis finally managed to secure the 'cargo' to the handtruck.

Johnny had finally reached the truck. "It takes two people to make a delivery?" he asked, with a tone somewhere between derision and suspicion, with a hint of amusement - the pair had dropped the box once, and the corner of it appeared to have hit the tattooed man's foot.

"First day," came Telran's terse reply.

"Health and safety," Thetis blabbered, her knuckles whitening on the handles of the handtruck.

"Umm, let's see," said Telran, looking down at the forged delivery slip they'd attached to a clipboard. "You're supposed to Right?" he asked, looking at Thetis. It was crucial that he keep up the facade, at the very least until the got inside. He just hoped he was convincing enough to not rouse the guard's suspicion. Thetis nodded, perhaps a little too eagerly. She couldn't even read what the note said, let alone understand all this garbage they had to go through to get their feet in the door.

"Just on the line," she took a few steps closer to Telran and jabbed at the clipboard. "Right there." Thetis cast a nervous sideways glance to the guard as she handed him a pen.

Johnny took the pen from the smaller girl, thinking as he did that it was kind of amusing to see her supervising the much larger man. He scribbled a signature on the line they indicated, without reading the delivery slip - it was probably just a bunch of delivery mumbo jumbo anyway. "There you go. Head on in through that door," he said, pointing toward the delivery door that was rolling upward into the building.

Thetis froze momentarily as the man returned the clip-board. That was it? That was all it took to get inside one of the most renowned pharmaceutical companies in Alvyssia? She blinked. And then she moved again. With a curt nod towards the guard, Thetis strode through the doors of Limnades with Telran and the Fiona-in-a-box in tow.

As they passed over the threshold, Thetis blurted out what everyone else had been thinking.

Was that it?

"Wait a minute..." came the guard's voice. He had noticed the ponytail sticking out of Thetis' cap.

The blue ponytail.

"Aren't you...didn't I see you at a hotel here a few days ago? You trashed the room and it cost me my job!" he said angrily.

Of course.

Things were never that easy.

Turning to the guard, Thetis raised her hands defensively.

"I don't know what you're talking about," the blue-haired girl lied quickly, cycling a variety of excuses through her head as she watched the guard for a reaction.

He peered into her face, staring at it, drinking in every detail as though the truth would be etched upon her face. Thetis' heart rate sped up, her breath caught, and then...

"Hmmm...I guess you're not the same girl after all. Sorry 'bout that. Go on in, then."

Without a second glance, Thetis turned on her heel and scurried to join Telran and their cargo.

Why did you trash the room, anyway? Telran asked, glancing sidelong at Thetis.

I didn't trash it.She caught Telran's look and shrugged. Besides, if you were that worried, you shouldn't have left it in the first place.

So next time I should just leave everyone at Mileina's mercy, then? came his bemused reply, the beginnings of a smile beginning to spread on his face.

It wouldn't have happened if I was there.Her tone was suprisingly bitter as she busied herself with the buttons on her overalls.

If you had been there, it would have been the motel all over again, he chuckled.

As they entered the titanic, labyrinthine headquarters, the door quietly rolled back down behind them. The two Destrillians looked at each other, and as they door came to with a dull thud...

...their voices rang out in a peal of nervous laughter.

They'd done it.

They'd infiltrated Limnades.

Now to cure Fiona.

Last edited by Bex; 03/15/2011 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 04/17/2011   #176


For a rare change as of late the offices of the IBC headquarters were quiet, no Terrorists barging in or flamboyant Destrillians, however the fact remained that they had been there, and they had caused a lot of trouble. Resal was still thinking about what that Xi Qin character she had spoken with on the phone had said. 'Lord Spencer'....was dear Jason trying to interfere with her operation or is it simply a case of good help being hard to find these days. Either way she would need answers as no doubt the higher ups would come asking about it and she would be the one who'd have to explain the whole thing.

“Such a bore...”
Resal mumbled. Running a news company was nowhere near as entertaining as the senseless acts of violence she had committed in her youth, before becoming acquainted with the sponsors. In those days she was free to do what she wanted and kill who she wanted, without answering to anyone. Chaos and disorder were her dominion and it seemed like such a long time since she had been able to cause any in a considerable amount. But now wasn't the time to reflect on the past, she knew she'd have to make a call to a certain someone, so leaned over to the console on her desk and punched in a couple of numbers after which the sound of ringing was heard for a moment.

“Yes?” A strong male voice sounded from the speaker.

“It's me. Something...bad has happened here recently, so we need to talk.”

The voice replied. Resal then stood up from her desk and walked to the centre of her office. Almost instantly the marking on the floor lit up, showing a large eye with a yin-yang pupil, after which an assortment of lights filled the room causing Resal's office to disappear, and in a few moments a holographic layout of an entirely different office was constructed around her.

"You know I never get tired of seeing that, truly fascinating." Resal said as she brushed the right sleeve of her jacket before folding her arms.

"It has been awhile since I've been able to appreciate it,"
Spencer replied humorlessly, turning his back on the hologram as he returned behind his vast wooden desk.

"What is it, Resal?"

Resal smirked "Always straight to business with you, dear Jason." At which the smirk quickly turned into a frown. "Tragic events are why I've contacted you. It seems people have deemed it necessary to interfere with my operations, and really, I have to say that it's very difficult for me to do my part for the organization when I've got terrorists and Destrillians barging into my headquarters every other day and wrecking the place."

"Yes, they do that,"
Spencer replied, with the barest hint of a smile. "My sources currently place the Destrillians somewhere in Audoula. I take it that not all of them followed the main group there?"

Resal's smirk returned to her face. "You'd be correct there Jason. Before the Destrillians departed Osea I was paid a visit by two of them - one being Thetis Alcesteos, and the other being some costumed vigilante that your old friend Vargas has identified as Kramskov Niet. Now on that occasion IRIN chased them off but this Kramskov character seems persistent and came back with a bunch of thugs. Now here's the part that really has me puzzled." Resal gave a pause to fiddle with the collar on her jacket. "One of them, apparently the ringleader, kept raving on that his actions were for 'Lord Spencer'. Now Dear Jason, I'm really at a loss here, you don't happen to know of any Xi Qin thugs currently in your employment do you?"

"Employment is a strong word," Spencer conceded, raising his hands and steepling his fingers. "It turns out, Resal, that I know of the attack on your building. It was not sanctioned by me. Since then, my men have acquired the two Xi Qin who led the assault." His voice was no longer humorless, in fact he seemed to be working hard to conceal a small smile beneath his steel grey beard.

Resal raised one eyebrow in skepticism at the words. "So then may I ask what's going to happen to these two individuals, who I might add, had the nerve to end my little puppet Hurrikan with their Destrillian associate?"

"My Destrillians aren't puppets," Spencer replied back, a dark edge clear in his tone.

"As for the two boys, I haven't decided. I'd at least like the chance to meet them. They should be arriving here within the hour."

"Are they now? Very well Jason, I shall place my trust in your judgment if you think you can really do something of use with those foreign dimwits. Although, if you ever cease to require their services...well let's say I'd just love to meet them again." Resal replied then raised her right hand and extended her index finger followed by a sly smirk.

"I'll make sure you're the first to know," the former President of Viola nodded in agreement.

"I have to say though, I do like the idea of being addressed as 'Lord Spencer'."

Resal gave a small chuckle. "I didn't know you were fond of fancy titles Jason. Although speaking of Lords..." Her face grimaced before the crimson-haired woman added. "Those two Xi Qin brats also made off with Venus Alcesteos. She might have been at the end of her usefulness however I'm expecting any time soon the old man will be calling me concerning the incident. Useful or not it's a very bad idea to go messing with anything of his right now."

"At least the Old Man is calling you," Spencer responded bitterly. "I haven't heard anything from him or Solaris since my escape."

"Perhaps that can be seen as a positive then dear Jason, as he only calls myself or Avidez if something bad happens, or Vana if she's somehow mad him mad - the latter a fairly common occurrence of course."

"Of course." Spencer nodded to the hologram, his brow now creased and furrowed, as though he was deep in thought. He hadn't even met Vanagloria, only heard about her through reports from his associates deep in his prison cell.

"Oh one other thing I thought I would share with you before my time is up," Resal said with her sly grin returning to her face. "This is just my personal observations, however since you're such a dear Jason I'll let you know. You may or may not have noticed this already but Solaris went to Audoula, maybe not a big thing however I find this highly odd as she has not set foot outside her lab the entire time you were incarcerated, and also the aforementioned communique with the Old man has picked up, as though everything that goes wrong that he used to ignore now has his personal attention." Resal paused for a moment and looked up at the ceiling. "Might be nothing or it might be, make of it what you will but activity from either of them usually means they're up to something."

Spencer sighed wearily and stood up from his desk, looking straight at the hologram of his former business partner.

"Resal, I have known the pair of them for nearly thirty years now. Do you want to know what I have learnt in that time?"

Resal looked at him with a puzzled expression in response.

"They are always up to something,"
Spencer concluded gravely. "So keep me informed."

The woman smiled. "You know my history Jason, of course I will." She then looked down at her watch and sighed.

"Well I'm afraid this conversation has to come to an end, even though I just love talking with you Dear Jason. However the news is about to air and during an earlier call with Seth Vargas I was told something very interesting is going to be announced by the government after he gave them some information about a company that's been sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong."

"Vargas?" Spencer replied, a foul expression briefly flashing across his scarred and grizzled features, "I'll be sure to tune in."

Resal nodded her head to him. "Until next time then." And with that her holographic figure began to dissipate until the room was once again in darkness.


“And now onto tonight's breaking story. It seems there's more blame to be laid in the recent Destrillian incident that swept the city, as IRIN Intelligence discovered that local business owner Joseph D. Faiz and his company Faiz Industries had been not only harboring Destrillians but also aiding them in their attacks on the city.

This footage from a few days ago when the ADSF engaged the Destrillians within the orange zone shows an armored vehicle of bizarre design firing on Artolian forces, which IRIN has confirmed was created by Faiz Industries. On top of all this the masked vigilante known as the 'Dark Rider' who had been parading around the Orange Zone as though he was some kind of comic book hero has also been positively identified by ISS operatives as Kramskov Niet, a Destrillian from Viola's mysterious second facility that's rumored to be located somewhere in the vast mountain ranges in the country's far north.

Kramskov Niet has been connected with attacks on Artolian troops as well as assaulting the IBC headquarters on two occasions. As of now the government has placed Kramskov on Artolia's most wanted list along with the other known Destrillians.

As for Faiz Industries, the government has ordered the company be liquidated and all products it produces be banned from sale, they also issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Faiz but it was quickly withdrawn when IRIN informed them that their own operatives had terminated Mr. Faiz for stealing sensitive information from the IRIN computer network, however we've learned that authorities are now searching for his son, Ralph Faiz who is next in line to take over the company and also believed to be collaborating with the Destrillian fugitives.”

“Sometimes Circe, you just gotta love the media” Vargas gloated as he switched off the large monitor in is office.

“I concur. They are certainly the most effective means of rubbing an adversaries face in the dirt.”

“Couldn't have said it better myself. Now that the government know 'ol Faiz was working with Destrillians, him and his associates are labeled as enemies of the state, and to sweeten the deal, his company can no longer do business within these borders!”

“Not to mention the Audoulans will no doubts also enforce the ban as they detest the Destrillians as much as the Artolians, as well as all the smaller nations will most likely follow suit simply so they don't fall onto the bad side of the nations that hold power on the continent.”

Vargas smirked. “Yes I think we can safely assume that 'ol Faiz's legacy is now dead an buried, however the man does deserve thanks here. I mean, if he had just stuck to his business then I probably would have entirely forgotten his existence, but alas, he stuck his nose where it didn't belong then practically dropped the knowledge that he was working with Destrillians into my lap thanks to that Kravskom fellow.”

“I think it's Kramskov sir...”
Circe corrected.

“Details are nor important Circe, what matters is that it is all now done. Faiz Industries is dead, and the Destrillians are believed to have headed south which means Audoula. Eins, Zwei and Drei are already there now under the guise of our representatives for the Audoulan Health Summit so if anything happens down there we shall know right away.”

Circe raised an eyebrow at her superior. “You seem to have most of the bases covered sir. However, what are you planning to do about our former employer?.” She asked, in reference to the recent breakout in Osea.

Vargas simply pushed his sunglasses up along his nose. “Ah yes, Mr. President. There's no doubt his escape had something to do with the sudden appearance of the Destrillians, and one thing I know from Viola is that Jason Spencer is not to be underestimated. He'll have a plan and the means to execute it, there's no denying that. For now we shall simply wait for his first move....”

“...and formulate a counter-plan as quickly as possible.”
Circe finished.


“And so there you have it in a nutshell” Farant said as the news report ended. “Seems this entire time there was a company operating under our very noses that was working in league with these Destrillians, and here I was thinking remnants of Viola would be our only concern.”

Kijo expression was that of disgust, and it showed in her voice also. “This city is already filled with vile, immoral people, so it is not surprising to find more.” She then turned away from the window to face her superior. “What action is being taken against these new-found hostiles?”

“Well as the report from Mr. Vargas stated, agents from the ISS eliminated Joseph Faiz and engaged two Destrillians that were discovered at his place of business, but failed to apprehend them. Of course there is the matter of his Son, Ralph Faiz, who has since disappeared along with a number of other personnel currently in employment of Faiz Industries, which of course tells us that they were already in the process of fleeing the country.”

“Further adding to their guilt.”
Kijo added.

“Precisely. Ralph Faiz is now on the most wanted list however I have a feeling he's probably long gone by now.”

Kijo nodded. “I see, and what about this masked individual who attacked the IBC building?”

“Currently he's also disappeared, but since he's now been confirmed as a Destrillian there is naturally a 'terminate on sight' order placed on him.” Farant paused for a moment then opened a draw in his desk to remove a folder of documents. “This may also be of interest to hear Major.” He added then placed the folder on the end of the desk closest to the woman.

“Seems this 'Dark Rider' fellow made a call to The Orange Zone Police Commissioner Rocco Boatsman, who in turn arranged for Arctos Wolf to collect the boy, whom I'm sure you know of.”

Kijo picked up the folder and began sifted through the contents. “Arctos Wolf of the Wolf's Pack? Yes I have heard of him. Rumors say he is not particularly fond of the military's involvement in the running of the country.”

“Indeed Major. Considering the police force generally doesn't care too much for the ASDF, it's not surprising they haven't informed us of this themselves, however if there is a lead that could potentially result in locating a Destrillian then it is our duty as the self-defense force to step in.”

“I agree wholeheartedly Sir. The Destrillians cannot be allowed to operate unchecked, otherwise there is the potential to catch us off guard again.”

“Of course, therefore I want you to find Arctos and his team and bring them to The Rampart. I have a feeling if we're to get any cooperation from them we're going to have to fill them in on the actual situation we're facing.”

“Yes Sir, I shall head out and locate them at once.” Kijo replied with a salute, then swiftly turned around and headed out the door.

Hey who wants to come home with me?!
Ok that wasn't very smart but totally worth it!
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Old 04/23/2011   #177


Emma woke up early the morning of the ball. The sense of excitement for what was about to take place had her feeling wired like she had drank a whole pot of coffee all by herself. The night before it had been almost impossible to fall asleep, and though she hadn’t slept for many hours she was already ready to get up and go.

That’s one good thing about being a Destrillian, she thought to herself as she tip-toed past her still-sleeping comrades and into the kitchen to get one of her muffins out of the fridge. The redhead filled a glass of water before finally sitting down at the table to eat, silently munching on the over-sized baked good as the morning continued to press on.

After what seemed like an hour, Emma looked up at the clock to check the time; it had only been ten minutes. She slumped forward in her chair and allowed her head to smack onto the table with a groan.

Who am I kidding? She asked herself internally.

I can’t do this.

Yes, you can.

There it was, that odd little voice of conviction that always seemed to be there no matter how hopeless a situation seemed to get. The girl lifted her head up off the table and slouched back into her chair, taking another bite of the muffin. She had only eaten half of it; however, she placed it down on the table and stood to leave the room. She had only been eating it because she forced herself to, but she was slowly losing the struggle with her nerves deep down inside and found that she couldn’t stomach the rest.

“Might as well start planning for tonight,” she told herself, grabbing the things she had bought the day before and heading toward the bathroom. She hadn’t had a chance to really try this the day before, having wanted to wait until no one was around to watch her. Now was as good a time as any, however, since they all seemed to still be asleep.

She quickly undressed and slipped into the dark purple dress she had purchased the day before, standing on her tip toes to try to get as good of a full body look at herself in the mirror as was possible. It certainly looked all right on its own; however, this was a fancy little shindig they were attending, and she had to concern herself with looking the part for the sake of stealth. Even the tiniest little detail could make a difference.

Emma then reached into her back and pulled out one of the packets of seeds she had gotten as well - a spring mix, chosen because she felt the colors would best go with the dress. Very gently the Destrillian tore open the pack and poured a tiny amount of the seeds into the palm of her hand. She stood there for a moment, reveling in the feeling of the tiny, dormant pieces of life on her skin. It calmed her frazzled nerves, helping to clear her mind and focus on the task ahead.

Closing her fist, Emma closed her eyes and concentrated, putting all her thought into remaining in absolute control of what she was trying to accomplish. Ever so slowly, tiny sprouts began to emerge from between her fingers, each containing a tiny bud that she did not allow to open yet until she felt they were in the right place.

It was in this way that Emma was able to alter her gown to a desired appearance. She thought of the fancy dresses she saw in the store windows of the more upscale part of the city, and she knew in order to blend in at an event such as the ball she would need to achieve a similar look. This was a masquerade, after all. Not only did she need to be formal, she needed to be in costume.

The entire process took some time to get right. She had to make the flowers curl one way and wrap around another, and most of the time it just didn’t look right. Eventually, however, she did come up with a design that looked just right. After using more seeds to attach her mask and put up her hair she decided that her look was presentable enough to be accept at the masquerade ball. At least she hoped it was, considering she was wearing a cheap dress from a thrift store. But it would have to do, and she would just have to hope that none of the aristocracy would be able to notice something so tacking in their midst.

All they have to do is not notice long enough for me to find Terra.

Picking up a pen and piece of paper that she had brought in with her, Emma scribbled a sketch of the pattern of the flowers so as to be able to remember how to do this later. The whole process had taken quite a while to complete, but it had served as a nice distraction from the impending feeling of doom that had befallen her for the past few days.

It didn’t last, however, since at that moment Stolz opened the door and casually strode in as if the bathroom had been empty the entire time.

“Stolz! What are you doing?” Emma demanded, more out of surprise than anything.

“You’ve been in here too long. I gotta go.”

“I could have been naked!”

“So could I, and that would have made it really awkward.”

Emma couldn’t think of a single thing to say in response to that. She simply stood there pointing, her mouth hanging wide open, staring at the sudden intruder in disbelief.

After they had stood there for a few moments blinking at each other, Stolz eventually asked, “Do you mind? I like my privacy.”

Eyes wide, Emma quickly gathered her things and left the strange child in peace.

The rest of the day crawled by at a snails pace, and it nearly drove Emma insane. She tried leaving the apartment for a while to get some fresh air, but she was feeling far too agitated to keep herself in check. She ended up walking in on a couple arguing in the aisle of a corner convenience store, their anger seeping into her very core before she realized what was going on. She quickly ran out as fast as she could once she realized she was about to throw something across the tiny establishment.

So it was back to the apartment that she went, sitting silently in a corner as the rest of the group went about their business. She distracted herself with the flowers she had used for experimentation earlier that morning, focusing in on their simplistic traces of energy in order to keep herself from exploding.

The time ticked on, fast then slow then fast again, as the Destrillians and their company got ready for the task ahead. Emma spent the last half hour before their departure pacing the living room, getting a glass of water in the kitchen here, sitting down for a moment on a sofa there, until finally, almost mercifully, it was time to go.

But she flip-flopped again, and as she was leaving the doorway she wished that she could just run back inside and wait for everything to sort itself out. I'm being stupid, she scolded herself, and with an extra-motivated step she turned the hallway with the others. Waiting around wouldn't do anything. The only way to see this through is to go with them and be part of it all. Terra needs me.

That last thought got her out of the apartment building and into the waiting world.


"It is just around the corner here." Lokka led the small group of well-dressed young adults around the corner of a decorated apartment block. Down a small alley the sports vehicle was parked in the spot it had been left by himself and Kerr the day before; a second look at the vehicle gave the worrying impression that the six of them might not fit inside.

"Perhaps the smallest may have to sit on another?" he suggested, scratching the back of his head.

"We'd better ditch the vehicle a few blocks from the chateau," Kerr commented grimly as he instinctively climbed into the driver's seat.

"Too suspicious."

Idris let the first two figure out precisely what they were going to do with their stolen prize while she placed a large bag in the boot of the car before climbing delicately into the back, adjusting her dress so as not to flatten it too much. Not to her surprise, Stolz followed along and plopped themselves down on the metal Destrillian's pale knees. "I suppose the two of us together only really equate to one person, hmm?" she said to the back of the fluffy blonde head in front of her.

"Yup!" was the ever-bubbly reply. Idris rolled her eyes, but she was smiling as she hooked an arm over the side of the sports car and looked behind her for the others to get in.

Emma placed a hand on the roof of the vehicle just as she was about to climb inside, glancing up at Kerr and thinking on what he had just suggested. "That's not a bad idea, however, remember that Terra can't walk very well."

"Should be parked as close as possible without suspicion," Jettison agreed. "Escape may be involved." She shimmied over the back of the car, vaulting herself expertly through the window into a space in the back.

Lokka sat down in the front passenger seat. "I have the maps," he announced, holding up a collection of papers that he had printed the night before in Telran's office. "We should be able to find a suitable place in here somewhere."

"Duly noted," came the murmur from the driver's seat as Kerr slid the car into gear and around the corner, away from the apartment.

The Destrillians all concerned themselves with watching the scenery go by, trying to keep their minds off of each other, off of what they were about to do, off of the huge chance that it was all going to blow up in their faces. But as they rolled to a stop on the ferry and their progress was no longer their own to control, the waters of the lake went by much too slowly to occupy their whirring minds, and they had no choice but to turn to one another and find some other way of keeping calm.

The silence inside the vehicle was suffocating. The breathing of its occupants was rasping and quiet, as though the air had been slowly let out of the car as it had slipped through the sprawling net of Crawsus' roadways. Even Kerr was beginning to find the ride uncomfortable, with the apprehension of their current mission filling the car's atmosphere like a real physical presence amongst the group.

Of course, it was Stolz who broke the silence. It never would have been anybody else.

"Wow, changeling lady sure looks like a whole new person! Hey after this is over can you change into a lizard person? I've often wondered what one would look like."

Lokka shot a backwards look at the aforementioned young lady. Even when she was in her own form, mystery still encircled her. Her intentions had never been established with the Destrillians. There would still be a little while before the ferry would get anywhere near Villnore, so it seemed like the perfect time to finally get the answers Jettison had otherwise been so elusive about.

"So," Lokka began, still looking at Jettison but only catching her eye as he spoke, "why are you still with us?" The question was blunt and brutal, but manners were not of the utmost concern at the time. A brief glance around the vehicle seemed to reveal that the others were just as interested in the coming answer as he was.

"I have come to observe, and assist," Jettison replied, meeting his glance with an impassive stare. "There are certain aspects of this group that I find to be of interest, and I believe that working as a group will be mutually beneficial for our safety."

"I don't trust that entirely. When we first met it was under questionable circumstances." Lokka's stare rested throughout upon Jettison's own. "Any comment there?"

"Oh do tell," Idris broke in, placing particular emphasis on the 'do.' One pale eyebrow arched up beneath her black wig in remembered ire and indignation at the nightclub and what had happened there. "Because I've been waiting a long time to hear the reason behind what you did, Jettison. So. What was the deal with the machines?"

"The culture calls them 'pods,' machines designed to create an interface between ones of similar mindsets. They are termed 'mind cartographers,' and they allow one to explore hidden or repressed emotions and experiences. They were initially medical inventions to assist with psychiatric therapy, but have been used in the culture as machines to heighten sensations and pleasurable emotions. I used them for the purpose of determining your true intents, past and present, to determine your motives for being in the Orange Zone, something which I imagine would not normally be disclosed. However, with the right stimuli, I have found certain things which explain certain behaviours, and have allowed me to help accordingly." Jettison looked pointedly at the driver's seat. "There are some things which I would not imagine to be expected in such characters. Like most of us here, I too have a past that must be dealt with. Discovering this would not have been possible without the mind cartographers."

A horrified gasp cut off any further explanation. "You mean you hooked us up together and intruded on our thoughts?" Emma exclaimed. "How could you do that? That's so... that's awful!" As she said it, the nature Destrillian couldn't help but look askance at Idris, who was sitting to her right. It was worrying enough that she and Terra might have seen what had happened in Emma's pod dream, but Jettison, too?

Idris herself made a contemptuous noise, but the contempt was only there to hide the discomfort and the true anger she felt. She was no happier now that she knew what Jettison's reasons were, and, thinking about it, she'd known she was going to remain unhappy about it in the first place. But for all her external control, she still felt the stab of reproach at the sheer invasiveness of it all. What sort of person just up and decided to drug and contain half a dozen others for the purpose of rifling through their innermost feelings and memories?
And then claimed the nobility of it all?

Someone has trust issues, she thought to herself of the scruffy young girl so cleverly disguised as the lady beside her. Even Jettison's powers gave the hint: the disguise was perfect to the point that even Idris' sharp eyes couldn't detect a single flaw. She was built to be a deceiver, and that didn't sit right with the Gunmetal Glint.

It's going to take a lot more than an explanation to prove yourself to me, girl. She folded her arms close to her chest, behind Stolz, and remained silent.

"And besides the pods," Lokka continued, ignoring the feeling he got from Emma and Idris looking at him hard, their glances saying 'there's more?,' "your company was also of questionable nature. You were associating with Lyverius. Why?"

"The Lyverius were useful." Jettison would have left it there, except for the searching looks she was being given. She was smart enough to take a hint. "Within the symbiotic professional relationship we maintained, the Lyverius were tasked with removing certain Underground elements in exchange for an inexhaustible knowledge of the city of Osea. It appears that finding Destrillians was their overarching objective. Quite unfortunate, given the circumstances. However, I believe more may be achieved with co-operation with Destrillians. That may or may not be personal opinion."

Emma spoke up quietly, almost as if she didn't really want to ask: "What do you know about them? The Lyverius, I mean."

Jettison blinked. "While I do have knowledge of these Lyverius, I do not have any first-hand knowledge of their combat abilities besides what I have observed over the years. I can offer theoretical advice on how to confront them, although if you wish to know something more in-depth, I suggest you ask our more excitable companion here."

Stolz, though, simply shrugged. "I've said what I've said about them. They're nasty people who do nasty things for nasty reasons."

Did you also mention that they were nasty? Virtue sarcastically echoed in Stolz's head.

Nobody else had anything to say about that. Their conversation fell flat, dead in the water just like they were, and if any one individual had an interesting thought in that silence, they kept it to themselves.

Idris sighed. "So," she began, scrunching her nose up delicately at the feeling she got from being the one to break the tense silence, "we aren't all going to go in as a group. We're already conspicuous enough just on our own - if we mosey on in all ensemble, we'll be caught in three seconds flat. Even if everybody there is going to be wanting to keep as low a profile as we are.

"I suggest, then," she continued, feeling much more her natural, comfortable self as she found that people were listening to her plan, "that we pair up and enter one pair at a time. It'll at least help with the problem of having a big, awkward group." The word 'awkward' in her sentence carried more meaning than one, and they knew it. "So who'll go with who?"

Kerr grunted in acknowledgement, the first sound he'd made in a while. Watching and listening to his comrades talk about their motivations, their pasts, it was all a lot to absorb. Though absolutely necessary, even though he had known a few of their group for years, they were all strangers to him.

"Idris, you should come with me." The choice seemed obvious; he didn't trust Jettison one bit, even less than the others. Emma was also a liability, too personally invested in this mission. In this kind of deep cover scenario, she was more likely to give away their cover than either of the other two. There could be no mistakes on this mission, not when they were in such proximity to a Lyverius.

"Oh really now?" the slight Destrillian suppressed the twitch of the lips that would give away her keen interest at the prospect of one-on-one time with their resident Mr. Surly. "Well that sounds fine to me." With the particular four people who were left, Idris felt it was easy to discern who was to go with who. "Stolz, why don't you tag along with Emma?"

"Okie dokie artichokie!"

Through a smile: "And I suppose Lokka can go with you." The smile faded when Idris looked to Jettison, who only aimed a cool glance back at her. To prevent her affrontedness from coming back, Idris quickly moved on. "That way, everybody's got a partner they can work well with in case of trouble. And a partner they can stand, I think."

At that moment, the ferry finally docked. "Just on time," Emma said. "Okay Idris, we'll do that. It does sound like a smart thing to do."

"Splitting the group up further is probably the best choice if we are going for stealth," Lokka commented from shotgun. With that decided, Kerr revved the engine and they drove onward.

The sports car rounded the next corner, leaving the street lights of the city behind and following the river of tarmac that snaked its way through the lightly forested foothills that framed the Audoulan capital. The group travelled in silence from here on, the only thing to keep them company was the scenery that flew past the outside windows. Rolling hills, dotted sparsely with woodlands and scarred by a myriad of rivers and bridges. All this land was a part of Avidez' private estate, the one which they were driving towards. The chateau of Avidez was both his countryside residence and private fortress; and as the car rounded the last crop of trees the group caught their first glimpse of the vast mansion.

Spreading itself out along the farthest bank of a vast clear lake, eerily smooth and starting to reflect the rising of the near moon over the hills that surrounded the valley in which the chateau, its lake, and the swathes of woodlands that encircled it like a crown. The chateau itself was an enormous structure, the grandeur and luxury of a vast noble's estate apparent even in the half-light of the evening. Though the sense of it being a well defended installation was never too hidden beneath the surface. Searchlights shone brightly from the spires and turrets and the silhouettes of armed guards could be seen patrolling the darkened battlements and upper balconies.

The car edges down the winding road towards it, the lake quickly disappearing from sight as it snaked into the dark forest and blocked it from view. The chateau itself was still visible through the dense trees, illuminated by the myriad of lights among its lofty towers. It didn't take long for the car to reach its destination, and to Kerr's surprise, the exterior was less well guarded than he had expected. Then again, trying to marshall the labyrinth of luxury sports cars, limousines and guests would have taxed even the resources of this wealthy Lyverius. It served as the perfect camouflage for the group as the car edged around the outskirts of the semicircular clearing that was being used as the parking lot. Carefully observing the raised stone staircase and the large double doors at the top, which tonight had been left open to accomodate the influx of guests.

Coming to a stop in the darkest and least watched corner of the carpark, their driver tried hard to push all thoughts from his mind except for the task at hand. The mission.

"Lets go."

And with that, Kerr stepped out of the car.
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Old 05/06/2011   #178


The wind carried a bitter chill in from the lake, Kerr noted with a grimace as he adjusted the mask on his face to ensure that it wouldn't slip and reveal the coal black of his eyes.

"Now, then," Idris said, gently shoving Stolz off of her lap before stepping out of the car herself and smoothing out the winged folds of her dress. They were in relative darkness to the warm and inviting glow of the front of the mansion, some ways off to their left. They had no problem with it, of course, but the nature of their mission did make it feel less like a regular nightfall and more like some form of cover, to keep from being seen. "Here's something we never thought of. How are we getting inside?"

A quick glance over the mansion's exterior revealed little in the way of service entrances or exits along its flanks. The main doorway was heavily guarded and seemed to be servicing a steady stream of inward-bound guests. Maybe if they were lucky, they would be able to squeeze through there without being inspected by the guards?

Kerr dismissed the idea quickly. It would have been foolish to leave so much to chance so early in the mission. A smaller group might have been able to get through, but there were half a dozen of them. Half a dozen more chances for one of them to slip up. There had to be a better way.

His eyes drifted to the darkened side of the mansion: tall sculpted trees and hedgerows were draped in inpenetrable shadow. It seemed their best bet to find a side entrance through the garden. With any luck, any entrance they would find through there would be less heavily scrutinised; any guards who noted their presence would think nothing of three couples taking a stroll through the chateau's grounds.

"Over there," Lokka said, pointing to an area a little to the side of their view of the mansion, where thick hedges could be seen. "Those hedges provide sufficient cover, and I'm sure we could find our way through them." His eyes carefully rested upon Emma as she gazed over at the garden he had gestured toward.

Emma had been a tense, quiet thing since the mansion had first come into sight; even now, the hands that clutched at her dress were shaking, almost imperceptibly but shaking nonetheless, out of anxiousness. Her face was pale and her lips a thin line, pressed together from the stress of it all, but she nodded in a singularly determined fashion and lead the way to the garden maze.

Quietly, their footsteps making only the faintest echo of a sound, the Destrillians followed her into the lush and the deep of the chateau's garden. It had to be said, the grounds were well-kept. As they crept along, they could feel the leaves brush against their skin, and just from that barest of contact could they tell how healthy the garden was as a whole.

The hedges had grown taller here than any of the group, so there was no easy way through the maze's intricate design. Only the faint dazzling white light over the leafy top of the maze indicated where a second entrance might be located. But navigating their way through the maze was slow progress in the inky blackness. Even the search-lights on the topmost spires of the chateau did not peer inwards into the grounds, so they could not be relied on. The group were forced to advance with intuition and a faint smear of light in the distance as their only guide.

Eventually, though, the foliage began to thin out, and before they knew it they had found themselves at the opening of the maze. Backs pressed lightly to the hedges rising up behind them, the Destrillians looked at one another and realized, almost simultaneously, that now that they were there, they had no idea what to do.
"Suppose we ought to go in our pairs," Emma said, peering out from the edge of the garden at the broad expanse of the mansion before them. "One at a time. Who will go first?"

Kerr surveyed the scence that spread itself out before him with a barely contained disgust. The patio that spread itself out from the chateau's elaborate maze was just as refined and trimmed to perfection as the hedges. A semicircle of smooth concrete, adorned with dozens upon dozens of circular glass tables, each one inhabited by a cabal of gaudily dressed humans hiding behind their masks. Talking, laughing, drinking wine from each of the exquisitely polished glasses on display on each table.

No guards, only fools.

Jettison popped her elegant head around the hedge, took one long look at the extravagance of the evening and its guests, and then without waiting for question or command sallied forth into the light, looking every ounce a perfect fit to her surroundings. There really was no time to talk; Lokka hurried after her, with only a quick glance over his shoulder to signal the rest of the group good luck.

The remaining four watched until the pair had melted into the crowd of well-to-dos, and then turned around once more to face each other and ask silently who was to step out next.
Idris shrugged her pale shoulders. There really was no reason to talk, either. "Our turn, then," she said, looking to Kerr before taking one delicate step out from the safety of the maze and onto the patio.

This didn't come naturally to the Destrillian of gravity. That much was apparent straight away. Trying to relax his face into a look that wasn't one of condescension or disapproval and to slacken his posture to reflect the relaxed environment of the outdoor party, he cast a glimpse over to Idris, who seemed to have gotten the hang of this only slightly more than he had. Deep cover training in Viola had never seen fit to outfit him with the necessary skill set to blend in with a midsummer garden party. Clearly an oversight, Kerr told himself miserably.

"You might look a little more at ease if you held my hand," Idris commented from beside him, her barely contained smile the only part of her face that was unobscured by the intricate silver mask she wore. Like a true, Audoulan-born, Audoulan-bred lady, she offered him her hand.

Flawlessly, Kerr accepted the offered hand and gave a small smile to his partner for the benefit of the throngs of people milling around them. Casting judgmental eyes and inquistive glances at the pair as they walked through the crowd. Refusal to give away their cover came instinctively to him, as he reacted before his mind could fully appreciate just how far outside of his comfort zone he actually was.

Idris turned her head away before she could laugh too much at Kerr's attempt at a smile. They walked on.

Emma took a breath, last of the pairs, and looked down at Stolz. "I guess it's our turn now, isn't it?" she said, a thrill of genuine fear going through her. Fear of failure. Fear of loss. Fear of going through something very like that which she had gone through before.

"Mmhmmmm, let's get a move on," said the blonde in reply, and from the careless tone of their voice, Emma took a small bit of comfort. Like the good friends they had become, they linked arms and strolled out onto the patio themselves. The game had begun; now, the only thing left to do was to see how well they remembered how to play.

Disappear with the stars and come back alive.
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Old 05/06/2011   #179

Lokka & Jettison. The Ball.

The chateau before them, as the arriving pair noticed, was immense. Most of the Destrillians, however, were more concerned with the degree of security, which seemed well-positioned amongst the structures. In fact, as they neared the entrance, it was clear that the two bulky men in dark suits guarding the double doors were more there for show rather than to keep security. The Lyverius in charge was more likely to have dispersed her watchful eyes throughout the crowd in a more innocuous way.
It made it even more important that the group treaded carefully during the night.

Jettison made sure that Lokka had his arm looped around hers. "What's the matter, love? You look nervous." She spoke in an odd, light, tone, voice smooth like velvet and invitingly warm.

The relatively older man beside her looked almost embarassed. "Is this really necessary?" He was not accustomed to quite so forward a gesture, even if it was for the benefit of staying incognito.

"Of course, dear!"
The lady gave Lokka's hand a gentle squeeze. "Now, they invited us here in good faith. It would be quite rude not to accept the pleasure of being here."
And in one subtle answer, Jettison had dodged the question.

The pair had one goal within the chateau tonight: Find Terra. The escape would be handled by the others, but Jettison and Lokka were aiming to find the girl that had been taken from them.

The two passed the large men without even a blink in their direction. They were in, but this was where it got tricky: the room they stepped into was large, in a way that dwarfed the interior of any other building the pair had been in. Simple symphonies played in the background as the classy couples darted about the open dance area and practiced what was a hobby to them. Destrillians didn't really have a need for dancing, and yet their training had inadvertedly manufactured a sense of rythmn which most individuals would have to work relentlessly for. That didn't make Lokka any more keen on dancing with the street-urchin-turned-princess he had with him.

Lokka momentarily loosened his grip on the girl's hand as they worked through the crowds of people, but the girl squeezed it tighter. All in the name of keeping up appearances, Lokka thought to himself, still not quite comfortable with the feeling.

They made their way to one side of the dance area, and then to the elevated walkways. Polished granite and soft red carpets gave full expression to the Lyverius' decadence. As they meandered through the function rooms, smaller conference areas cleared out as bar lounges, keeping up their appearance as a loving couple, they kept an eye out for less-furnished low-key doors or areas that seemed more well-guarded. Jettison and Lokka knew what to look for: some eyes watching them seemed more attentive than those of mere passers-by jealous of their beauty and handsomeness.

Finally, they neared what they realised would soon be a dead end, what appeared to be a door to a storeroom, and toilets to one side. Jettison mumured inaudibly, mouthing warm breath into the crook under Lokka's chin, and they both knew there was something to it.
Two dark-suited guards with earpieces stood at the end of the corridor, with a security camera planted in the corner of the ceiling.

There was something, but they would need to get past the guards.

Somewhat spontaneously, Jettison giggled, flipping her combed piano-key-colored hair. "I think no-one's looking," she whispered conspiratorially, seemingly ignoring the two dark suits, who by now had noticed them.
Without much of a warning, she yanked Lokka by the necktie, and drew him down to a kiss, a rough, passionate meeting of the lips that took him by surprise. She brought a hand up to the back of his neck, and with the same finesse that they had displayed during the dance, she spun him around and slammed him against the wall, a mere few feet away from the guards, who looked at each other, and coughed.

Lokka meanwhile was in a different state of mind. Keeping in character was one thing, but was this REALLY necessary? As the female youth yanked him down, pressing her face against his, he could feel his eyes widen in disbelief at what was happening before him. Sure, she must have a plan, but there was such a thing as too much.

Some time must have passed before they realised that the men had actually said anything, because the next thing they heard was rather loud. One of the guards, somewhat affronted by their rather public display of affection, reached out to grab the woman by the shoulder, although a little tentatively. "Hey, didn't you hear? This place is a restricted area, lady!"

The world around them flashed black for a second, as like fluid, Jettison was behind the guard, with a slender arm wrapped around his neck like a tight noose. The second guard reacted, but only far (or fast) enough for her to grab him by the scruff off the neck and pull him Lokka's way. But Lokka had already woken up from the strange alternate reality that Jettison had forced him into. He delivered a swift elbow to the first guard's jugular, forcing him to the ground in an unconscious heap. The second guard reacted with sheer panic, as though nothing he had ever expected in such a scenario came close to what had just happened.

"Hold on to him."
It was at this point that they were already invisible, Jettison waiting for the second guard to stop struggling as she tightened her arm wrapped around his neck. They dragged the two men to the nearest toilets, forcing them into the men's section and unceremoniously dumping them into a single cubicle. While Jettison had not completely removed her disguise, she had dropped her voice to her regular tone, and had removed her mask, tying it to the back of her dress in the event she would need to use it later.

"So I guess you're back to your regular self?"
Lokka asked, quickly changing into the clothes he had stolen from one of the guards. He carefully fitted onto himself the earpiece that the guards were using to give them a bit of an edge over their hunters.

Jettison was busy patting the guards down, getting a feel for their details: their proportions, face shapes, hair, eye colors. She took the earpiece off the other guard and left the rest alone. "We need to work fast." Suddenly reaching down to the hem of her burgundy dress, she began to tear long, winding strips of fabric, unravelling for feet at a time and twisting into a hardy rope. "I detected some concealed security masquerading as participants in the ball. They may be likely expecting us."

As an afterthought, she took the man's shoes as she began to tie the men up, propped up on the toilet seat, one on top of the other without a sense of irony. Making sure they were immobilised by the arms, knees and feet, she used the remainder of her rope to bind their mouths and blindfold them. By now, the dress was a little above the knees, as opposed to the trailing attire it appeared to be previously. It was mostly irrelevant, however, as she shifted into the appearance of the guard, and Lokka's face changed into the other's face without much warning.

Lokka produced a folded sheet of paper that he had kept in his suit. As he unfolded it the blueprints of Avidez' chateau became more apparent. He had printed it off of Telran's computer the night before, and it had taken him a fair amount of hacking to get it. He laid it out briefly on the ground in front of him. Without saying anything he pointed to a few key locations on their map that he had analysed before, indicating the most likely places that a captured Destrillian would be held. He looked up at Jettison, who only nodded in response to his gestures, and then folded the map back up and slipped it into his new suit pocket.

The voice that came out of Jettison's mouth was uncannily alike to the guard who had confronted them. "They'll be looking for us. Let's get moving."

The couple moved with mild haste. They had a mission, but they still needed to draw as little attention to themselves as possible if they wanted to avoid a run-in with the entire security force, or worse. The route they were taking skirted the more glamourous sections of the converted home, avoiding the crowds and staying mainly in the areas that had previously presented themselves as 'restricted'.

A few left turns, a few right turns. A small staircase. They were aiming for the upper floors. After almost running the length of a corridor - which seemed to be a mile long - they stopped at an elevator which rested neatly next to what seemed like an emergency staircase. Jettison slowly made her way over to the stairs, casting a look behind her as Lokka stopped moving.

"I'm not taking the stairs."

The cleverly disguised Destrillian and his young female accomplice waited patiently for the elevator doors to slide to a close. There was no music in this elevator; Avidez seemed to like it quiet. It slowly moved upward, but at a pace only a private home could tolerate. If they had one last chance at small talk, this was it.

"Your friend, Nova,"
Lokka said quietly to the girl standing beside him, not turning around as he did so. "He mentioned something to me a few days ago. I didn't want to bring it up with the others present-- atleast, not until this was over."

After a moment, Jettison spoke. "What did he say?"

"He used the word 'Denann'. I was curious as to what this meant to you,"
Lokka responded, masking his curiosity only a little.

The girl exhaled audibly. "Denann Industrials. It is an old ghost of the past. They were the source of creation - "

Before the girl could finish - or even start - her explanation, it was interrupted by a loud crashing sound, followed shortly by a sort of grinding noise. The pair lost their footing a little as the elevator came to a sudden halt and a red light turned on just above their heads. The light signalled that they call for assistance, due to a maintenance problem concerning the service elevator. Lokka glanced to his side at Jettison, who also looked back.

"We should have taken the stairs,"
she announced, without even the least smug of looks about her.

Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!

Last edited by Joe; 05/11/2011 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 05/08/2011   #180


"So, remind me what you do again?"

"I own a platinum mine off the Thalassan coast."

"Oh really?" The barrel-chested businessman said with a tone that sounded somewhat less than impressed. "I take it business is going..." he cast a discerning eye over Kerr's costume, "poorly?"

It was truly something to behold, the Destrillian thought, how everything he loathed and despised about the human race appeared to be distilled down into this singular being of unjustified arrogance and obvious weakness. He let his lip curl into a scowl, but the guest who had cornered him as soon as he had set foot inside Avidez's ballroom didn't notice. To Kerr's eyes, it seemed as though the amount of wine this man had consumed hadn't left him in much of a position to notice anything.

"What is it that you do then?" he replied back acidly.

Instantly, Kerr regretted speaking those particular words. The wide grin that spread over his captor's flabby, moustached face told him that he had fallen right into his trap. Evidently this man had spent all night waiting for some unfortunate soul to utter those exact words so he could proceed to breathlessly tell them about all of the undoubtedly fascinating ways he has spent trying to compensate for his human failings.

"Here you are, darling," said a highly amused voice, as Idris Savage swept back from getting a pair of wine glasses off of a passing tray. She'd been caught in polite conversation herself - waiters would talk to anyone to save themselves from an evening of idle boredom - but having more experience with talking in general than her partner did, she'd managed to worm her way out early.

Salvation came in the smooth handing over of a clear glass of red. Idris' eyes appraised the boisterous businessman opposite Kerr within the time it took to hand the other Destrillian his glass, and then adopted the tone of courteous dismissal that was so vital to this sort of people. The upper class had, apparently, evolved to learn how to tell one another that they had no interest whatsoever in what their conversers were saying without offending anyone in the slightest. Quite a skill. "I'm so terribly sorry to interrupt - from the snippet I heard walking back, it sounded absolutely riveting," the pale woman said, trying very hard indeed to make her smile apologetic and not mocking, "but the... Argeaux, are quite patiently awaiting us and we do so hate to tarnish our usual punctuality. Isn't that right?" she asked Kerr, raising her glass to her thin lips to conceal the expression that gave away how much fun this was.

"Right," Kerr nodded to his partner, whilst in the same motion taking the offered glass of wine and downing its contents in one. "Excuse us."

He turned and led Idris away from the crestfallen individual, scowl still present and unmoving and the wine lingering sourly in the base of his stomach.

"Do we know if they have located Terra yet?" he asked bitterly as the two seamlessly blended into the masked crowd.

"I have a feeling we would find out pretty quickly if they had," Idris replied, taking another dainty sip from her glass. "And you're welcome."

If Kerr had noticed the mild rebuke then he didn't appear concerned by it as he snatched another glass of wine from one of the hundred or so impeccably dressed waiters that were criss-crossing across the vast expanse of the chateau that had been made open to the party goers.

It had been maybe fifteen minutes since they had entered the ballroom, and since then Jettison and Lokka had quickly disappeared. Emma and Stolz had slipped out of sight not long after, leaving only the faint tug in the back of the skull to remind the two that the others were even there at all.
All things considered, the situation wasn't half-bad, as far as Idris was concerned. They hadn't been caught within three seconds of being there, which everyone had feared and which nobody would ever admit to, which was a plus, and despite the... new, experience of mingling with the Audoulan well-to-do, there had been one or two moments where Idris had almost half-forgotten that she was here for a reason other than everybody else. She had always fancied going to a ball, ever since she'd found out what they were. Things could be worse.

And then there was the matter of who she had been paired up with.

It had been dark before the Destrillians had even left Telran's place in Crawsus, and the night had only grown darker still as time had moved on. So when they had stepped into the light of the chateau, somehow managing to be soft and dramatic all at once, and she had seen Kerr's choice in outfit for the evening, the first thought that had popped into her head had gone along the lines of 'Well, then--he cleans up nicely.'
That initial thought had set her off laughing, and she hadn't quite stopped since. Every Destrillian was hopeless at this sort of situation, she knew that well enough. But every time she caught a glance of the gravity Destrillian, it seemed to be the wrong moment to look; the stiff awkwardness in everything he'd said or done up until now was so out of balance with his usual character that to Idris, who always saw the humour in things, it was most comical.

But asides from the surface value of having a good laugh (albeit at Kerr's expense,) Idris had another reason to be pleased with her partner. The slight woman had been wanting the opportunity to ask him certain questions ever since the motel, and here - here, where he couldn't drop his cover or raise his voice; here, where there was no Thetis, no Fiona, no Emma to turn the conversation into an argument - here was that opportunity perfectly presented to her.

"Everything seems to be going smoothly so far," she commented, to begin what would hopefully be slightly more of an enlightening talk than they had had thus far.

Kerr nodded, apparently distracted from the conversation as he let his eyes scan the room yet again. Searching for any sign of the others, of anything out of place, any threat.

Idris sighed quietly. This wasn't going to be easy. She placed her now-empty wine glass on a tray passing by, and just by sheer happenstance happened to catch sight of something beyond it. Slowly, an idea formed in her head. She brushed her black hair over her shoulder as she considered it: 'well, it certainly wouldn't look out of place, that's for sure. And it does require some level of concentration.'


"What?" Come to think of it, he couldn't even recall what Maruca Avidez looked like. It would be so much simpler if only he could have picked him out of the crowd and buried a knife in the side of his neck--

"Care to dance?" the girl beside him asked, gesturing toward the dance floor she'd seen and giving him a look through her mask that stated, quite clearly, that he did. Even if he didn't.

"What?" Idris took this bewildered answer for a 'yes' and swiftly grabbed the poor, unsuspecting Destrillian's arm, dragging him behind her as she stepped lightly into the area of the ballroom left specifically for those couples so inclined to dance.
They might not have necessarily been a 'couple' so inclined, but oh well. One was enough.

She dragged him right into the middle of the dancers, so there was no way he could squirm out of it. She turned to face him. And she allowed the tiniest glimmer of mischief to appear on her otherwise perfectly innocent face. "Well?"

"Is this necessary?" Kerr grumbled as he awkwardly placed his hand on the slender Destrillian's waist. His displeasure only mostly hidden beneath the half mask.

"We want to blend in, do we not?" she chimed. "Besides," she added after a pause, fitting her hand into his and taking the first step of the dance, "you owe me for saving you from mister 'your-business-is-running-poorly' back there." There was absolutely no doubt whatsoever, at this point, that she was enjoying this.

"I didn't need your help." Kerr snapped back at his partner as his steps followed Idris' lead.

"You never do, do you." Idris smiled, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "So why then, Kerr, are you still here at all?"

'Again?' Kerr thought tiredly to himself, his mind flashing back to the almost equally awkward attempt at conversation the pair had shared whilst the Winnebago had been travelling through the Artolian countryside.

"The Lyverius in this city is the biggest threat to my survival right now. Putting him on the back foot makes the most sense of any strategy we have right now." Kerr spoke matter-of-factly; to him this Lyverius and the green haired Destrillian he had at his command were the greatest threat to any of the Destrillians right now. Being so close presented a small opportunity to at the very least disorientate them. At least for a little while.

"And then will you leave?"


"I see." There was a brief silence as Idris guided the Destrillian's hands to spin her about and back again; it was enough time to collect her thoughts. "Forgive me if I don't believe that one bit."

Kerr gave her a confused look, half convinced that this conversation was better left dropped completely and half just taken aback at how bold and ridiculous the other Destrillian's prediction was. "The world is a big place, Kerr," she stated simply. "Nothing would be the biggest threat to your survival if you ran far enough. You wouldn't even know about the Lyverius if you hadn't stuck around in the first place." Her eyes were piercing, almost shrewd. "The safety excuse has long since run its course."

"Excuse?" Kerr incredulously asked back, his monotone voice sounding disinterested even by his standards.

The metal Destrillian let a small chuckle slip through her teeth. "Contrary to the argument you stick to with such admirable vehemence, we are your absolute worst chance of survival. Just look at all of our stunning successes so far."

"Abandoning you to the Lyverius so I could escape myself is a flawed idea; I've given it a lot of thought." He had observed the other dancers enough. Kerr confidently took over the lead from his partner: "And it wouldn't make sense. The Lyverius wouldn't stop hunting me, and I'd be powerless if I ever ran into one."

"Oh would you now?" Idris allowed Kerr to switch their direction and to lead the dance; one song had ended and another had begun. "And I thought you didn't need our help."

Kerr faltered uncomfortably. He had been caught off guard by his unusually probing partner. Only very rarely had he ever been engaged in enough conversation with others that it permitted them to use things he had previously said against him. He had very rarely been engaged in conversations, for that matter.

"It would be ridiculous to fight them alone."

"Yes, it would." Idris was twirled a bit more harshly than was really necessary, and ended up facing her partner again. "But this is not the only Lyverius in existence, nor the only one hunting you. So you won't be leaving any time soon, then, will you?"

"It depends if more of them cross our path," he answered pragmatically, growing increasingly irritated with the apparent interrogation she was subjecting him to.

"So it does." Pause; deep breath. "Kerr?"

"What now?" the irritation in his voice wasn't even disguised this time.

Her hand tightened almost painfully on his. "Who did you kill in the hospital?"

Kerr stiffened. The music in the background drowned out by the speed at which thoughts raced through his mind, flickering to life and then extinguishing themselves in rapid succession. There were a hundred different ways to answer this loaded question. The very reason why the Destrillians felt so much distrust and contempt for him. There was no time to lie, or to bluff.

"I killed Shilo," he settled on the truth.

"Did she ever do anything to you?"

"Does it matter?" the poignant disinterest had disappeared from his voice. Stripped away to really a tone of voice that was galvanised, hard, threatening.

Idris stopped dead amidst the whirling pairs of carefree dancers. "Did she, Kerr."

The great empty silence that stretched out between the two Destrillians contrasted with the lively beat of the music. But neither of them paid any attention as the other dancers adapted to the beat, isolating them at the centre of the packed ballroom's marble floor.

This was what had brought them all together in the first place. If the gravity Destrillian hadn't been after Thetis, the motel fiasco would never have happened; Shilo had been just one more name on the list. Idris remembered how, on the day of the siege on Viola, Kerr had tried to do almost the same thing. The person she was holding hands with, still as stone on a dance floor all alight, had been trying to wipe her and everybody else out of existence ever since, she realized.
And Shilo wasn't the only Destrillian he had killed, she remembered.

"I suppose," she said, finally, and her voice only shook the slightest bit, "that old habits die hard, don't they."

"Yes. They do." Kerr answered coldly, every trace of emotion now gone from his voice.

"We should get off the dance floor."

Without waiting for his partner's response the Destrillian of gravity released her slender waist and turned his back on Idris, stalking off towards the periphery of the vast ovular room.

The Gunmetal Glint watched him go, a single thought in her head:
He had to have a reason.
It was clear she wasn't going to get it any time soon--it had been clear since before she'd dragged him onto the dance floor in the first place. It had been a shot in the dark, and she'd missed. But Kerr had to have had a reason for doing the things he'd done. Something to justify the monstrosities he'd committed. Something to tell himself when it kept him up all night.
Otherwise, she didn't know what she would do.

Quiet as a whisper, she followed him back.
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