Impulse Mission

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  1. Da dum. Da dum. Da dum da dum da dum da dum da DAAAAA.

    The Pink Panther theme played in Kindall's head as he snuck past his parents, through the portal to HQ, and then past the HQ infirmary.

    People turned to watch, but he didn't seem to notice as he made his way toward one of the mission boards. At over six feet, Kindall was rumored to eventually get as tall as his father. His baby face and the crackle to his voice remained, so it was possible he wasn't done with puberty yet, even at his age.

    He arrived at the large bulletin board and began to look it over. A mission with two stars appeared, and he grinned and yanked it down, then began to read the slightly-torn paper. "Ok..." He breathed.​

    A bunch of supernaturals were protecting humans from other supernaturals, and needed some assistance. It didn't look like a crazy-hard mission at all, but with his aunt's iron fist, he could only rarely go on one-star missions as it was, all because he hadn't been able to use his abilities after the war.

    He stared at the paper a few moments as he remembered the first time after the war he tried to go through a wall, but instead simply slammed against it. His grandparents had seen.

    Grandpa didn't realize why Kinny spent the rest of the day locked alone in his room, but Grandma did. She came in and comforted him after everyone went to bed, to try to save his pride.

    Dark blue eyes closed tight as he fought off tears, and his hand clenched on the note.

    "Kinny!" A female voice with a hint of an accent gasped happily. "Are you here to try again to get Lady Jade to send you off somewhere?"

    Kinny looked back, then grinned at Kina. She knew what he was up to, because she always knew. She always knew everything about people. Nobody could stop it, and nobody really tried. She served as the second in command to the Hunters' top intelligence officer for a reason, and that reason was that she didn't open her mouth about anything of substance unless she meant it. She kept quiet unless someone was in danger.

    "Yeah, just trying for an easy-looking one."

    Kina tilted her head, then sighed. "You're going to get in trouble, Kinny." The Chinese woman grinned at him. "Should I come with, or are you gonna try again to buy my silence?" Her eyes narrowed as she grinned, then giggled.

    "I got you something." Kinny grinned and reached into a pocket.

    Her eyebrows lifted.

    He produced a small clay bottle with an ancient Chinese symbol on it and offered it to her.

    "Tsu?" She stared at it, then reached forward and grasped it with shaking fingers. "You have my silence." She managed before she ran from him, leaving the dirty-blond boy to grin and open the paper again.

    He memorized the coordinates, then stuffed the paper in one of his many pockets before he reached into another and pulled from it a carabiner with a loop of yarn and beads attached. He adjusted the beads, removed the carabiner, and tossed it against a wall. It stuck and revealed his destination before him, but he hopped through with a hum and not a single thought about what danger might lie on the other side.

    He reached through and grabbed the yarn behind him, then pulled and it collapsed into mundane beaded yarn. He attached it to the carabiner again, then looked around, eyes bright.​
  2. The Nikitas estate was at least a dozen sprawling acres of land, most of it dense forest, surrounded completely by well-maintained wrought iron fence, ten feet high. The gate at the driveway which led the whole long, winding distance to the main housing complex had an intercom where one could, if desired, ask to be let in. It seemed, at a glance, to be a rather ineffectual security measure, as anyone with enough tenacity could simply scale the fence, couldn't they? But rumors are powerful things, and the ones about the estate and its owner were enough to keep most people, and their idle curiosity, away. The majority who were determined enough to show up regardless of the rumors were turned away by the ever-vigilant murder of crows that roosted in the woods. Generally, their beady black eyes gazing coolly over the fence was enough to turn away the unwanted visitors, but if that didn't do it, and someone began their attempt to scale the fence, one bird would simply croak "who goes?" and that would be more than enough to scare off even the most determined rubbernecker.

    If one were to get past the fence, past the crows, and past the forest, and make it to the center of the estate, there lies the true prize. Sixty thousand square feet of well-maintained Gothic architecture, surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains. Forty-six bedrooms, twenty-six bathrooms, a living area on each floor, not to mention a gym, multiple garages, and any other creature comfort one could dream of. It was the owner's pride and joy, and he had gone to great lengths to create and maintain it.

    Speaking of the owner...

    Ajax Nikitas, a vampire of Greek origin and many centuries of life, sat in his office, rubbing his temples. He had just received a telegram (one of the many forms of communication which had a direct line to his office) from one of his family's agents that a certain longstanding enemy of his had just been seen arriving at Portland International Airport. It wasn't exactly an emergency, but it was a terrible inconvenience. Usually he could go the better part of a century before being found, and subsequently having to erase all knowledge of his existence from an entire town's memory and move the entirety of his estate to a new location. Some of his current boarders were Portland natives who had been with him since his transfer forty years ago, and they would not be pleased about being faced with the choice between leaving their home or having to find another, comparable, safe haven. How had Usama even found him this quickly? He had been working many centuries to block the Amirmoez family's efforts to establish an information chain in North America.

    The Amirmoez family were one of the most powerful families in an empire which had been endeavoring for as many centuries as they had existed to, at best, round up humanity like cattle, or at worst simply wipe them off the face of the Earth forever. The Nikitas family had long been their foil, blocking their every attempt and gaining a stronger foothold. They were the reigning power in the opposite camp, which sought to protect humanity; to enhance their natural abilities and raise them up as equals to the supernatural creatures of the world.

    Ajax, as the eldest son of the Nikitas family's patriarch, was the official manager of their North American affairs. He ran his estate as a boarding house for supernaturals of various stripes. In return for offering them free room and board, feeding them, attending to their wants and needs, and helping them to learn how to most effectively use their powers, he only asked for their loyalty and that they use their abilities to protect humans from harm. He kept in regular contact with former boarders, even ones that he had not seen in a century or more, providing them with anything they might be lacking. He understood that positive reinforcement is the most effective way to keep someone aligned with one's cause, and used that to his advantage. Of course, it wasn't as though he didn't care about them.

    Since most of his boarders wound up staying with him for five years or more, he had more than enough time with each of them to establish a lasting bond. He was an aloof fellow, who rarely let on to what he was feeling, but after spending that long with him most people came to understand that his emotional distance was an affectation, and that he deeply cared about each and every one of them and their well-being.

    With the rest of his necessary work done for the day, he folded up the offending telegram and slipped it into his pocket to muse about later, and went downstairs to the kitchen for some tea. The estate was mostly empty for the day, with everyone out and about town, and several of the current boarders taking a short vacation, and he was glad for opportunity to take his tea in privacy and think.

    As he put his kettle on to boil, he pulled his waist-length, ash-blonde hair up and then looped it around into a bun, securing it in place with a bobby pin from his pocket. Someone had left the newspaper on the table from breakfast, and he took up the half-finished sudoku to occupy his time until the pot started to whistle.

    A sound, certainly not his tea kettle, caught his attention, and his eyes snapped up from the puzzle and darted around the room, settling on a young man with a string of beads. He appeared to be a human, but Ajax was well aware that appearances could be deceiving. Nonetheless, it couldn't hurt to handle the situation delicately.

    "...Welcome, sir, to my estate," he said, rising slowly from his chair. "May I ask what your business is, and how, exactly, you came to be here?"
  3. Blood dripped freely from the young man's nose as he blinked. "Oh." Startled to see someone so soon, Kinny's first reaction was to grin as he pulled a tissue from his pocket and stuffed it up his nose. "I'm a Hunter. My boss sent me to assist a group that's been protecting people, cuz they're short-handed. Am I in the right place?"

    This was not how things usually went, but he'd been caught off-guard, and though he could lie easily and well, the truth had been startled out of him. He pulled the mission paper from his pocket as he realized he'd not only revealed himself as a long-time enemy of all supernaturals, but that he'd been sent by someone, rather than arriving himself. The second was supposed to be secret, and the first was more of an inconvenience to him than a secret. The nosebleed, the leather jacket, and his enchanted silver dagger were all dead giveaways. He offered the paper to the man, which described briefly who he was to meet, what lie to tell, and the mission. It had six stars along the top, with two filled in by stamp. The handwriting was small and slightly sloppy.

    "So, are you... 'Ajax Nikitas'?" He stuffed his hands into two of his pockets and rocked on his feet, dark blue eyes bright.

    Under his coat, a glimpse of his silver dagger and his gun were visible, as well as a light pink button-up and a pair of womens' skinny jeans. His shirt was tucked in, and he wore a belt that was simple, but nice. On his shoes, he wore a pair of new Converse shoes in a bold, dark purple.

    He was wearing his favorite outfit, though it wasn't perhaps the most fashionable thing he could have worn. Right now, button-ups weren't in-fashion, but he liked how they looked with his jacket, and he couldn't part from the jacket, could he?
  4. Ajax was rather taken aback by the young man's abruptness, and his charm failed him for a moment as he didn't know quite how to respond. He took the note and looked it over thoroughly, using it as an excuse to gather his thoughts.

    "Yes, I am Ajax. You say you're a Hunter, hm?" He pushed a stray lock of his bangs behind his ear (he'd been working to grow them out, but these things take time). "But you also say that you're here to help, and according to this sheet here, you don't seem to be a very good liar. So, I will take you at your word, and trust you. For now." He smiled, and turned away just as the kettle started to whistle. "Make yourself comfortable, and let me pour you some tea. I believe we have much to discuss."

    After taking the kettle off of the heat so it wouldn't make quite so much noise, he took two pristine, white china cups and saucers down from a cabinet and set them on the neatly polished granite countertop. Next, one little aluminum tea infuser came out of a drawer. Ajax preferred his tea loose, so he could read the leaves when he was done, but he provided the infuser for his guest out of courtesy, as most people didn't enjoy getting leaves and such in their mouth while drinking. There was a little rotary spice rack on the counter that was filled with small glass jars of various teas, herbs, and roots, which he idly spun while deciding what sort of blend would be best for the occasion. He decided on a blend of white tea and rooibos, with some lavender and lemon balm to promote the sweetness of the tea and of the company, and a bit of rosemary to protect their conversation from any who might be listening through magical means. As he filled the infuser and the bottom of his cup, he watched his guest out of the corner of his eye; not suspiciously, just to get a better sense of who he might be dealing with.

    He brought the cups, filled just below the brim with their steeping tea, over to the table and placed one in front of the young Hunter with a smile. Resuming his seat, he swirled his cup gently to move the herbs in a slow, clockwise spiral.

    "So, you've come here to help us with a problem, for which your... organization thinks that we are understaffed. I may have an idea what problem this may be, but to send a Hunter... Perhaps they know something that I do not. But first, I think I need your name."
  5. Kinny took the seat at the offer to make himself comfortable. "Of course." He smiled at the man, butterflies in his stomach. Someone hadn't come to fetch him, so he could only assume he wasn't caught, that Kina kept her word. He looked around, curious at his surroundings. Everything was comfortable, and looked even fancier than his own home, where his parents owned a dandelion plantation in some alternative future to Georgia.

    It was complex.

    He tilted his head, and his curls shifted freely before he looked toward his host. "My name is Kindall Shears, but if you'd like, you can call me Kinny." He offered a hand to shake. It was clean and soft, and smelled faintly of soap. His fingernails had no dirt under them. His hands, however, were as muscular as the rest of his large frame.
  6. Ajax put his pale, delicate, well-manicured hand in Kinny's and lightly shook it. He was surprised. He'd never personally met a Hunter, but he'd certainly heard all manner of tales about them. They supposedly popped in from many different times and places, some helpful to his family's cause, and others targeting his kind indiscriminately. He wasn't sure what exactly he expected, but it certainly wasn't this handsome, well-mannered young man. It was rather delightful, actually.

    "It's a pleasure to meet you, Kinny."

    Dust motes sparkled in the lazy afternoon sunlight that shone through the faceted windows of the door which led from the breakfast nook into the garden. Though Ajax took mostly after his father, he was lucky in that his mother's blood was potent enough in him to cancel out the sun aversion that ran in the Nikitas bloodline. It was their ancestral blood which led to the stereotype of vampires bursting in to flame in the sun. By his father's generation, it had been diluted enough that it only caused moderate discomfort in brief doses, and sickness from longer exposure, but even still, he was grateful not to deal with that. He didn't have much time in his day to enjoy the sunlight, but he took his simple pleasures where he could get them.

    "Now, on to the task at hand. Just this morning I received a telegram from one of my colleagues," he took the folded yellow sheet out of his pocket as he spoke, and handed it over. "If you aren't able to read Morse code, it says: 'Usama Amirmoez touchdown at PIA. No further information about activities at present.' PIA is the Portland International Airport, only a short distance from here. How much information were you given about our present situation, Kinny?"
  7. "You as well, sir." Kinny beamed as not only did the man seem happy to see him, but accepted him being there without a fuss. Sometimes supernaturals didn't take kindly to Hunters arriving, given how the Council dealt with them when they ruled the order. With his aunt in charge, they didn't do that as much anymore, unless the supernatural in question was eagerly taking lives. Granted, now they also protected supernaturals who hadn't done anything wrong.

    This kitchen felt so much like home, though. It was clean, it smelled nice, and the tea smelled like his grandmother's favorite. He'd never been fond of the flavor, but the aroma made him smile.

    He pulled himself out of his reverie as the man began to speak again, nodding occasionally. "Unfortunately, all I know is what is on the paper. Based on the brevity of the note, I can only assume the writer either wanted me to make sure things were going smoothly for you, or that I would find out what was going on by investigation. Typically, we don't just approach the ones we're to help, because of our reputation we got under our old management."

    He was saying too much, but what could a universe-bound person really do? He couldn't travel, and the most he could do was wait for a Hunter to come if he wanted to do anything, and Hunter weaknesses... well, those he didn't talk about. The fewer people knew, the better. He was just glad there wasn't sage in the tea, himself. The young man lifted the cup and breathed in the steam, eyes closing in contentment. He got to do his job, and his charge was pretty fucking awesome and classy!
  8. "I see..." Ajax steepled his hands in front of his face as he thought of how to explain things. "I don't know how much you already know about our... instance of reality, I suppose. Here, there has been an ongoing cold war between my organization and our opposition for more years and generations than we can count. My family, the Nikitas', is the currently reigning power on our side of the proverbial fence. The Amirmoez family rules the other side. This fellow who has arrived in my town, Usama, is of particular worry to me, as we are around the same age and have been acutely aware of our families' feud our entire lives. He's decided that, because of these circumstances, it should be his personal mission to complicate my life in whatever manner possible. Generally, this manifests as him tracking down my location and murdering humans indiscriminately until I fight and, subsequently, incapacitate him. I then have to go through the painstaking process of moving my entire estate to another location to prevent repeat occurrences. Usually it takes him about a century to track me down, with the extensive security measures I put up. This time, it's only taken forty years. He must have some new trick up his sleeve, but I haven't a clue what it could be. I don't want to wait for him to start his murder spree to find out, either."

    He sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I could put an end to it by killing him, I suppose. But I don't want to stoop to his level. I've gone my many hundreds of years without ever killing an enemy, and I won't give him the pleasure of forcing me to break my moral code. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to keep a Sphinx contained. They are wily, and resistant to many varieties of magic."
  9. "Well, no doubt stopping a murder spree would be an ideal start for me. If you can give me information on how to find him, I can deal with him. Maybe send him to another world where there is nobody to hurt so I can talk things over, fight, and see what can be done to make him stop short of offing him." He nodded, as though it would be that simple.

    In all honesty, he'd never fought a sphinx, but he knew they were deadly clever and incredibly voracious. Most were honorbound in some manner of speaking.

    However, honor meant a different thing depending on who you asked. His dagger would be his main weapon, since it burned any creature that was or had magic.

    "What are your thoughts on that idea?" He took a sip, forgetting momentarily that he didn't like-

    Oh, that was actually pretty nice. Then again, last time he tried it, he was four.
  10. "Hmm..." Ajax mused, rolling his teacup between his hands. "I don't know. That could work to take care of him, but I doubt he's come alone. He would no more knowingly walk into my territory without backup than I would walk into his. Even if you successfully incapacitated him, his bodyguards would likely just carry on with the plan in his absence, perhaps with the condition of refusing to stop until he was returned. Their amorality is very complex, and-" he was interrupted mid-sentence as a voice called from down the hall.

    "Ajax? J'entends une voix. Avons-nous invités?" A finely-dressed man with shoulder-length brown curls poked his head into the kitchen. "Oh! Bienvenue. I'm sorry to interrupt, I just heard a strange voice, et Ajax does not usually bring strangers in without forewarning everyone."

    "Louis, this is Kinny. He was... rather unexpected. Kinny, this is my good friend and constant companion, Louis Perret." He gestured briefly between them as he said their names. "Kinny, do you mind if Louis joins us?"
  11. Kindall nodded as the man explained that the situation was a bit more complex, then looked up as he heard the sound of a French-speaking voice. "Bonjour! It's a pleasure to meet you, Monsieur Perret." He greeted with a smile as he stood to offer his hand. In France, men greeted each other with a handshake, he remembered, A firm one-shake, not like the American 'fish handshake' which involved shaking repeatedly. He was a little fuzzy on some aspects, but he simply kept a smile and did his best and hoped the man wasn't Québecois, because they considered theirs a separate language from French, and he'd only learned European stuff before he was shuttled off to Hunter training. "S'il vous plaît." He indicated the table, happy to invite a new person in, even if it meant the conversation might have to be picked up later. He smiled at Ajax. "I don't mind a bit."
  12. "Would you like me to make you some tea as well, Louis?" Ajax asked. He was already feeling a fondness for this strange, polite boy who suddenly materialized in his breakfast nook. It didn't take much for him to develop a bond with someone. It was one of his greatest weaknesses, or so his parents told him. Many other people seemed to think it a boon. For him, though, it was simply a fact of his life.

    "Non, mais merci, Ajax. I am more interested in the conversation, to be quite honest."

    "Well, you should know that he's a Hunter. I know you've had history with them."

    "Oui. But... He seems nice, and you seem to trust him. And the history isn't really with me, per se..."

    Ajax nodded knowingly. Kinny would probably be curious, he was sure, but there would be time for that story later. "Anyway... Louis, I should tell you the news. I just got a report in this morning that Usama is in the area."

    "Ugh! Again! I thought we had just gotten rid of him! Zut alors." Louis sighed and shook his head in disappointment. "I don't really want to move again, Ajax. I was just getting comfortable here."

    "I know. I think that's why Kinny is here though. That's what we were discussing. He can apparently... displace him? I think that would be the best way to describe it. Which would get him out of our hair, at least for a while. But I worry about what his lackeys would do in his absence."

    "Hm! That seems like an interesting ability you have, Kinny! You will have to tell me about it in more depth sometime! And as for Usama's lackeys... If Kinny can incapacitate him for us, I'm sure that we can handle the rest, if we can track them down. Even just with the ones of us living here right now, we could do that. And if we could call in favors from out of town... Kinny, are you sure you could handle him? I mean, he is a Sphinx. Well, mostly, anyway." Louis inclined his head in Kinny's direction inquisitively.
  13. He let the two speak and resumed his seat when he was sure Louis had settled into where he chose to sit. It felt weird to sit when someone had just entered, but it also seemed rude to stand to drink the tea his taste buds had grown into at some mysterious point. Conversation opened toward him again, and he took a sip before he answered. "Thank you. I feel confident I can handle him, though I would like to hear a bit more about his ability. I grew up around a few Sphinxes, but no two were alike except for the feline and cunning aspects. Some feel they must play riddle games as a compulsion, while others..." He tilted his head as he remembered his attempt at asking a veteran Hunter a riddle, and the woman promptly punched him into a wall. "Others do not." He slowly shook his head, then rubbed at his ear as he remembered how it had rang for a day even with his accelerated healing.

    "And as for my ability, it comes from a tool my employer gave me. It allows me to return home if I am lost primarily, but with a few shifts of the control mechanism, it can go anywhere as long as I can calculate or know the coordinates." He fished his beaded yarn from his pocket with a smile, eager to show off as he fiddled with a few beads while he removed the carabiner and set it aside.

    After a few moments, he shot an artful glance to each man, then flung the yarn so it splayed out, and landed on a clear spot of the table. "Please, look through it."

    Beyond the ring of yarn and beads, the two could see a bird's eye view of a stone room that appeared carved smooth from a singular stone, with a throne that resembled a snake at the high end. The natural veins of minerals shone in smoky torchlight across every stone surface. The room's construction was smooth and without corners, and the torches burned without fuel.

    A woman, fat and unnaturally pink in eyes, hair, and body, looked up toward the portal. Her mouth opened, and her expression shifted from disinterest to surprise, only to quickly resume indifference as she yanked her eyes away and toward a group standing before her.

    With such thin ankles and wrists, she looked like she couldn't support herself, but she rose with ease from her hard stone throne, to reveal a suitably massive worn dip where her butt had been. "I grow bored of this. Everyone, leave me. Immediately." She yawned into one hand, using the movement to disguise a purposeful look upward.
  14. Ajax and Louis watched the boy carefully, as he made his adjustments and tossed the ring onto the table. They weren't sure what to expect, but when the portal opened, both of them gasped and leapt to their feet so that they could lean over the table and see better. "Oh! So that's how you got here! Amazing!" Ajax said, clearly delighted. "What a clever little tool!"

    "One day, you must tell me how it works," Louis said. He leaned very close to the table's surface to peer at the string and the beads, trying to determine if the magic was inherent, or if they were programmed somehow. They were so busy fussing and cooing over how amazing the portal was that they didn't pay attention to what was through the portal until Kinny brought their attention to it.

    "Who is she, Kinny?" Ajax asked, peering through the newly-formed hole in his table. "She seems important... as well as slightly terrifying."

    "I think she's noticed us, mes amis," Louis commented.
  15. Kinny beamed at their praise, a blush at his cheeks ans he rubbed the back of his neck. Sure, he only used it, but he didn't mind accepting the praise if his aunt wasn't there. He deflated slightly as one of them mentioned a terrifying, important-seeming woman, and he remembered suddenly where he'd set the portal. "Ah." He leaned forward to look. "Oh, that's the Empress. I don't think anyone's allowed to call her by name, but she rules that world entirely, as far as she knows, and yeah, she probably has noticed us." He went from glowing to bashful. "Sometimes I forgot she sees the fabric of reality itself. Instead of seeing objects, she sees what makes them, and to her, it looks like an elaborate and infinite tapestry. She can see through walls and stuff unless there's a whole lot of cloth to insulate, cuz it's... density? Its density is hard to see for her."

    He placed two fingers of each hand into the portal and gently pushed it wider as the sounds of people evacuating came from below.

    "Hello, Empress. Just me." He waved.

    "Oh." Her expression brightened, only for a cough from an elven creature with dark-green skin to make her wince, and resume a disinterested expression. "It is good to see you again, Hunter. What is the occasion for opening a portal to my throne room in the middle of talks?"

    "Sorry, I wasn't aware. I just wanted to show a couple friends that I can open a portal to another world, and wanted to offer them a sight of beauty."

    She paused, and her cheeks reddened. "I see. I suppose I can forgive you." She looked away, then offered a small smile to the man before she looked at each of the other two faces. "Humans? No. One... drinks blood?" She squinted. "Curious."

    "Perhaps I could introduce you to them after my job here is done, if they don't mind."

    "I like that one." She pointed at Louis. "I don't suppose I can have him?"

    "Your steward wouldn't allow it, I'm afraid. See? He's already about to pop a couple veins in his forehead." Kinny grinned.

    The elf's glare at Kindall didn't lessen. "Please take your leave, Hunter. The Empress has important matters she must attend."

    Kinny sighed, then looked to Louis and Ajax. "Sorry, seems I've worn out my welcome there a bit." He blushed as he remembered just what he did to earn that venomous glare, a slight smile teasing at his lips as he reached into the portal and hooked a finger through.
  16. Ajax smiled and directed a polite wave through the portal. "Hello and goodbye, Empress! Perhaps we'll meet again!" He intended to hold Kinny to his offer, as he found the Empress quite fascinating. She was, as he had said, slightly terrifying, but fascinating nonetheless.

    Meanwhile, Louis had flushed and was trying to find someplace inconspicuous to look. He worried his lip absentmindedly with his teeth, and ran a hand through his hair. "Ahaha... At least she likes me." Louis always got nervous when a woman expressed any sort of interest in him. There was a particular traumatic event in his past that always came to mind and caused him quite a bit of anxiety and worry. Of course he knew that nothing ill would befall such a mysterious and powerful woman as the Empress seemed to be, simply for turning her gaze upon him, but it was a reflex that he could not control.

    When Kinny had closed the portal, Ajax turned his smile upon the boy. "Kinny, that was spectacular. With a tool like that, we may actually be able to handle Usama. I'm much less worried now than I was. I would still like to get us some additional backup, but I feel much better about the whole thing. What about you, Louis?"

    "Oh! Euh, oui, Ajax. Je me sens mieux, ainsi. Ca va aller."
  17. The blond young man grinned, pleased and unphased by Louis's breaking into French as he held the yarn hooked in one finger and slid the carabiner into place, then tucked the portable portal into his pocket. It was a standard tool of the trade for Hunters, so he did forget at times that it was not only a (relatively) new tool, but also fairly powerful despite a lack of conventional 'ouch factor'. It couldn't close and cut someone's bits off, and it had to be activated flat.

    Either way, though, it cemented their trust in his abilities.

    "Additional backup would be nice, but I'd like to confront Usama himself alone, because he sounds like the most dangerous of the bunch." He paused. "Does he have any phobias or sore spots? Like, psychologically. I want to be able to lure him away from everyone else, even if it's just a few meters. I'd prefer if our altercation doesn't bring harm to anyone else, since I use silver weapons." He took another sip of his tea, which was cooling down now, but still pleasant.
  18. Ajax steepled his fingers and gazed into the distance thoughtfully. He let his mind wander back through his many altercations with the man who could be called his arch nemesis, and tried to parse any potential weaknesses from the interactions they'd had. "Well..." he said at last. "The only things that I can say with any certainty, are that he is incredibly vain, and susceptible to the cold. The last physical altercation we had, it was winter. In the midst of fighting, I grabbed hold of his coat and temporarily removed it from his person, and he was rather visibly distressed. And he has stopped in the middle of a fight before to attend to things like broken fingernails or damaged hair, and seems to get very upset, as though the person responsible was intentionally marring his appearance. Does that help?"

    Louis offered a bit of his own helpfulinformation. "And, regarding his henchmen, most of them will likely be vampires or some sort of lycanthropes. Since those are communicable-" he paused a moment," -contaigous?" He shook his head, unsure of which word he needed to use, but trusting that the idea would get across. "What I mean to say is that they are the most common types of supernatural beings, and his clan often considers them to be disposable."
  19. Kinny nodded thoughtfully. "Well, that works perfectly, the vanity, at least, and I know where to take him if cold is hard on him." He knew an ice swamp, to be specific. The place was not home to any people, or hadn't been last time he went. "I just need to set a trap for him, then." He nodded thoughtfully, then looked toward Louis. "If they're vampires, keep them away with wood smoke—there's a variety that work for it, but it varies based on subspecies, so a bit of everything might be best. For wolves, saturate the area with strong, stinging scents like lemon. I suggest gas masks of some sort for you guys, and full body coverage, as well. The wood smoke will cause burns on any body part it's in contact with too long, and inhalation causes something of an allergic reaction, but if they stay out of it, they won't get seriously hurt or killed." He paused. "For wolves, their noses are so sensitive that they're probably going to resist approaching you if you smell strongly of anything that stings or burns their noses. Peppers might also be good."

    He steepled two fingers, then grinned. "If they're treated as disposable, they may be receptive to changing sides with the right nudges. I wouldn't trust them, but if they're not fighting against you, that's less for you to worry about."

    Strategy was not a strong point, but these were basics that he'd been taught because the contagious nature of those two species made it vital to know how to ward them off, because a swarm could overpower even a Hunter.
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  20. Ajax nodded thoughtfully as Kinny spoke, cataloging the information for later. He knew that he would likely be in charge of things while Kinny handled Usama elsewhere, and he wanted to make sure he had all of the information he would need. There would, of course, be time for more elaborate plans later, but he wanted to retain all that he could now so that later planning would go smoother.

    "If we could get them over to our side, even temporarily, that would be ideal. It would be nice if we could truly change their minds, but I won't get my hopes up too high." Hepaused for a moment to smile charmingly at Kinny. "You know, Kinny? I actually feel like we have a shot at fixing this situation for good. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help."

    Just then, there was a sudden, loud racket outside. An obnoxiously loud car roared up the winding driveway, the squealed to a stop in front of the garage. The bass from the music playing in the car rattled the windows, causing Ajax and Louis to exchange glances then roll their eyes in unison. The music and car engine both cut off at once, though that didn't significantly decrease the noise level. A pair of boys and a girl skateboarded past the windows of the breakfast nook, yelling and laughing and just generally causing a scene.

    "Zut alors," Louis said, deadpan, and shook his head.

    "Indeed. It looks as though you're going to meet the entire 'family' today, Kinny. And I think we may have to wait until these three are settled to continue our planning, or we really aren't going to get anything done."
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