WRITING Moody's Random-Ass Writings

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by The Mood is Write, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. A Snapped Twig

    Spoiler

    I opened blind eyes and before me, hanging heavy and low a full moon in royal bled. Its waters seeped toward me as I stood on the soft ground. I spread my arms wide as pain blossomed within my body, and to the moon, I let my blind eyes delve.

    Though I stood and the blood rose to cover me, I remained and trusted in the moon.

    The moon saw my unseeing trust, and its light opened a path. I followed as it guided my feet, and my body in another place far away moved with strength not my own, all while I followed the winding, splitting path.

    I took every fork, splitting to multiples as I passed each, and another me walked the way I did not tread.

    Those destinations, I knew, would be known to me when I found that self that traveled its road or passed near beside it.

    Even as these facts, undeniable and true, slid through my mind, my feet moved still along the path. Knee-deep blood pushed back against me, but the moon led, and to resist the moon would doom... The recipient of the doom escaped me, but that didn't matter.

    So many things didn't matter.

    I closed my eyes, and felt my every step carry me miles forward. The blood's pull grew stronger, but the moon's strength overpowered it, though both shared the same source.

    One was the blessing forced upon me, and the other, my own mortality.

    My blind eyes opened on their own, and before me, I Saw.

    I Saw myself, my body, mind, soul, and vision, all together in one. This vision showed my own future. Absently, I remembered the gun shoved under my rib cage, cold metal pressed into my bleeding flesh. It shoved deeper, my back arched, and my flesh parted before it. Even now, I felt the heat of the muzzle lodged under my ribs.

    The moon grew brighter, scolding me. I turned my eyes forward again rather than back. The Unifiers would record it. I forced my body to scream. They would gloat, send the recording to the Council.

    My body screamed, and I stared at my future before me.

    The self of my future laid on a slab, covered in a cloth stained with wet, steaming blood. Not yet dead, but dying. A shadowed figure removed the cloth, and another poured water.

    A familiar face, the head of the Unifier interrogation division, stared down at my body. He told me that he knew how to kill me when a silver bullet to the brain would not. My torso bled from a wound where my organs slowly regrew after removal.

    He wiped blood from my chest and black ink shot with many needles into my flesh. He bisected the black tattoo line about my neck. He supported my head with a gentle, gloved hand. His thumb rubbed my chin as strength left me, and he ordered the others to leave. Each shadowed figure left in turn, and the man whose face I could see leaned down. He saw something that I could not, and his lips spread into a smile that made every part of me shudder.

    With that shudder, a powerful blow knocked me under the current of blood. It rushed me, and my eyes open, but saw only blackness. A scream ripped from my lips as a click by my torso sent a powerful explosion through my torso. Metal shards split and filled my left lung.

    Panic filled me, and I tried to move, but straps dug into my arms and legs. My lungs burned as the silver fragments seared and cooked my flesh. I smelled like bacon.

    Hot metal pressed against my forehead. My scream had no time to leave my lips.

    I woke on a metal table. My torso felt sticky and wet, and something laid on top of me. My blindfold was gone. I heard voices, and then felt something vibrate against my neck.

    The blackness faded, and the man above my head, cradling it in a gentle, gloved hand, grinned. Sadism twisted his face into something demonic.
     
    #1 The Mood is Write, Sep 9, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
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  2. A Snapped Twig: The Other Side

    Spoiler

    Kanna finally arrived in the Council's hearing chambers. Crow looked toward her, his expression hard to read for a moment before his lips twitched back in a half-hearted wince-smile of sympathy. His lower lip was split and scabbed. Elizabeth looked calm, but her claws dug into the wooden railing before her: the wood there was pocked with holes. All members wore their full robes, hoods up, faces shrouded, save Crow, who allowed Kanna that brief glimpse before he covered his face again.

    Only one seat in the chamber was empty: the current head for this shift. Normally outspoken and blabbering, he'd disappeared in the past decade.

    In his place, Crow stepped to the stand, then looked toward the back of the room, where a uniformed man in teal appeared in a large, arcing rectangle along the wall. "This is Kanna—Twiggy's caretaker."

    "Yes, she fits the description," The man on the screen looked down at Kanna as she stood in the center of the room. "Face this way, Kanna. I feel it only..." He trailed off, then shrugged as he found a suitable word. "Fitting, that as his caretaker, you view his final moments."

    The creak of wood around claws came from Elizabeth.

    "None of you object, do you?" The Unifier asked as he let his eyes trail the room. All remained quiet until Crow spoke.

    "Get on with it so we can stop looking at that hideous teal!," The tengu's nose twitched. "Kanna, pay attention to this idiot's video." The unspoken order was 'Make sure you catch whatever message Twiggy has.'

    The Unifier raised an eyebrow. "Very well. The idiot will go ahead." He turned his attention down, to something in front of him, and after a few moments, the screen flashed black, then to color again as it displayed Twiggy on screen. He was strapped to a slab, arms and legs spread and insides distinctly not inside of him. His body didn't heal.

    The slab tilted slowly forward, until Twiggy's guts began to slide from the open cavity, though no blood was visible.

    A man all in white approached. A plastic visor protected his face, a white cap protected his hair and head, and white scrubs kept the body fluids away from his own body. He approached Twiggy, then pressed two fingers against one side of his neck.

    "The time is 1422 on July 18, 2015 C.E., Unifier Standard Time. Pulse irregular. Roughly 210 BPM. Professional opinion: a human would have expired three hours prior. Hunter regeneration has been stunted. Body resources seem focused on retaining brain function." He used a stylus to point out the chest cavity, where Twiggy's lungs and heart worked, frantic and shallow.

    "The subject was to be executed five days ago. Each attempt has been thwarted, including silver injections, beheading, water deprivation, blood loss, organ removal, hanging, firearms, strangulation, and suffocation. I hypothesize he will survive today's attempt as well. Please watch as I apply twelve enchanted silver bullets directly into the heart and lungs and one enchanted silver bullet to his head after one test round to his leg."

    The man in white pulled a gun from his back and lifted it to the camera as he recited model and serial, then aimed at Twiggy's knee.

    The recoil barely moved the man's arm, but Twiggy's knee exploded.

    The seer's legs both jerked, and he began to scream: not mindless screams of agony, but words.

    "Kan... na! Kanna!" Unseeing and pale, his violet eyes snapped open as he gulped for air. "Kanna! They- Unifiers! Tattoos! Don't let-" He gulped for air as the man in white rotated his arm and pressed the muzzle of the still-warm gun against Twiggy's diaphragm directly.

    Twiggy gasped and forced himself to keep screaming. "Kanna! Kanna! Tattoos! Make... Fix my-!"

    BLAM! The first shot tore through, and Twiggy groaned. Gurgles escaped, and his head lolled, but his mouth still moved. Wheezing words shifted cadence into the voice he'd used when his visions took everything from him.

    "Seek you the Unending Roads. Cracked by Heaven's Seekers, the road between the Eyes leads to darkness."

    BLAM!

    "Seek not without preparations. When a moon bleeds in sorrow for sun's loss, take its tears and join with it the burning white of Hephaestus."

    BLAM!

    "Combined with dye from fruits of ivy poison of blackest night and thorns of death, fresh is magic, old is truth."

    BLAM!

    "Armed with needle repair the wide road upon which the Eyes walk, and the Eyes walk anew, and beside them the Impotent."

    BLAM!

    Even aided by whatever supernatural force aided Twiggy, his voice grew weaker. The man with the gun absently moved the microphone closer to Twiggy's mouth.

    "All-Mother's hope bleeds from thick wounds. Console with news: the Promised Comes. Bond and contract with the Queen of Stones. The Shining One succeeds with aid."

    BLAM!

    "Pact of service leads to discovery. Beware! The body of the Useless is attended by a host of many—!"

    BLAM!

    Twiggy wheezed, long and heavy before he continued. "—among the Band who would bring a Great and Horrible Oneness." He panted, the expression of neutrality fading, and his cadence slipping.

    BLAM!

    "The Eyes require the Guide! Let not their resplendent arms harm the—!"

    BLAM!

    Blood erupted from his mouth. He sputtered and gasped to try to gather air. "—One Who Leads!"

    BLAM!

    A wheeze, and his body seized. His lips moved, but no sound emerged, nor did his lips move to make any words. His back arched and his fists clenched on either side as the man shook violently.

    BLAM!

    Twiggy's body fell limp, then became suddenly tense. The gun was pressed under his ribs, against some remaining bits of lung. Tears began to fall as he mouthed Kanna's name. Only a squeak emerged.

    BLAM!

    The twelfth shot. Twiggy, himself now, jerked. His head slammed the metal table, and he sagged against his restraints.

    The man in white removed hand and gun from under Twiggy's ribs and sighed. "Twelve bullets have been administered. Applying final bullet to the crani-" He paused, then touched his free hand to his ear. After a moment, he lowered his hand. "Applying final bullet to the cranium, and then cutting the feed."

    He pressed the gun under Twiggy's neck and adjusted the angle.

    BLAM! Gore sprayed behind Twiggy's head, and his body jerked once.

    "Ending execution attempt twelve. Should the subject survive, attempt thirteen will be made after his prophesy has been decoded."

    He reached toward a switch on the wall, then paused and looked at the camera. "I assume, based on the subject's babbling, this 'Kanna' will view this recording. I personally advise seeking psychological aid, as the contents of this documentation have been graphic." With that, he touched the switch on the wall, and the video died.

    The screen turned black, and it returned to the Unifier soldier. "The prophesy has already been dealt with, thanks to some creative weedkiller. I advise Miss Kanna to take comfort in knowing that he was very, very hard to kill."

    He flipped through some papers in front of himself. "Now, I believe the Council requested his final execution video?"

    "We requested it, but Kanna does not need to view it." Crow snapped.

    "I insist." The Unifier's eyes narrowed.

    Thunder rumbled as Crow stared back. "Kanna. Alsoome is in the portal room. We have put you through enough today." There was a point that one did not cross. Kanna wasn't even involved in the conflict—Kanna had been stuck on HQ dealing with invalids during the war. "We are not so desperate—"

    "I love you, but shut up, Crow," Elizabeth snapped. "Kanna, you will stay. Show your strength as a woman. Cry in private after standing strong through this." Though she glared at Crow, her brief glance toward Kanna held some warmth.

    Crow balled his hands into fists under his long, flowing sleeves. "Very well. The decision falls to you, Kanna." His eyes tried to nudge her toward the portal room's entrance, directly under the Speaker's seat.
     
    #2 The Mood is Write, Sep 26, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  3. Tripped Trap

    Spoiler

    Beryl stood in the Council's hearing chamber. She stood in the speaker's position, since she was above all members of the Council regardless of their rotations. Beside her, the sub-speaker for this period, Crow, stood with his arms clasped behind his back. Under his hood, he glared at the large projection across the opposite wall.

    That projection displayed an image of a Unifier: the teal uniform was unmistakable. Whoever they were, their shoulders were covered in medals, and behind him, two all-too familiar figures stood. Even across whatever medium the Unifiers were utilizing to make this communication possible, Crow could smell the shame that came off Faida and Faust in waves. Both were scarred more heavily than before they disappeared, and their eyes seemed empty with shell-shock.

    What they'd seen to force them to join the Unifiers and don that ugly teal uniform was beyond his ability to guess. Faida, shaking, barely restrained tears. Faust stared emptily forward, blinking in Morse: 'run away'.

    Still, Crow stood his ground beside Beryl. "If the Lady Beryl will allow me?"

    The crystalline woman nodded in silence as she stared forward.

    Crow's gaze darkened under his hood, and he threw the covering back to reveal his face. "This is Beryl, like you requested. What do you want?" Diplomacy was the strong suit to Rare, not to him.

    "Shut up, Councilman," the Unifier didn't even spare the tengu a glance as he looked at Beryl. "I can see who she is." He sighed and watched Beryl for several moments. "You know which universe we have her in. We found Kyoko, Rare, Obsidian, Kyra, Jikei, Dream, Doucha, and Phil. They are safe, for now, and should be entering an area you can detect shortly."

    Without any motion, Beryl brought each of those listed into the hearing chamber, but not the main portion: instead, they appeared in the portal room, where they could hear the conversation, but would not be seen.

    "Ah, you found them quickly."

    Beryl remained silent.

    "Yes, I suppose we've played enough games. I'm here today to offer the bait you've been waiting for."

    A slight twitch at the corner of Beryl's eyes warned of volumes, even as her skin sang aloud with tension.

    "You're not incapable of speaking. I need to verify you by voice, so say something, or you don't get to meet Jade."

    "Where is she?" The woman's voice was like agitated crystal chimes as she snapped.

    "Ah, there we go. In fifteen seconds after I finish speaking, you will be able to open one portal. That portal will close within five seconds, or we will activate her failsafe. You may do as you wish, but you will not be able to make a portal to leave until we have ensured that you have done nothing to attempt and remove our control of the girl."

    Crow's mind screamed of a trap. "May she bring an escort?," he interrupted.

    "No."

    The rest of the fifteen seconds passed in silence, and then Beryl stepped forward as she formed a portal. She appeared in view on the projection, and walked forward as her section of the screen grew. The portal remained as she cupped a tiny girl's face.

    "Oh, Jade... I'm so sorry." She kissed Jade's forehead, and the blonde gasped, eyes wide, before Beryl threw her through the portal and closed it. She looked toward the viewing area. "Get her to Alsoome immediately!" The order was punctuated by a gunshot.

    Beryl's shoulder exploded into multicolored shards. The life left her eyes.

    "Get that portal back open!"

    "Prepare for a push!"

    "Get the spec team ready, we're going to need supernatural cannon fodder!"

    "Fuck! She handed it off! No restart!"

    The voices faded with the projection as Crow stared dumbly at the empty space. In his arms, pressed against his chest, a thin wisp of a girl sobbed and gasped. She reeked of terror, and Crow lifted her into his arms and stroked her hair as he stared forward.

    "Crow!"

    His attention jerked toward Elizabeth.

    "Get her to Al!"

    The tengu's wings burst from the back of his cloak and carried him forward, phasing through doors that would have otherwise snapped them.
     
    #3 The Mood is Write, Nov 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  4. Strange Relations

    Spoiler

    Crow pushed Rare's door open and rested his forearm against the wall as he watched Vargo comb Rare's hair. Despite how fine it was, her nightly braid left only minor waves in the dark locks. Compared to her pet, he felt a twinge in his chest, and his glare faded slightly. He planned to yell and scold, but confronted with this scene, where Rare looked even smaller, the bluster left.

    "Rare," he spoke, and she opened her eyes to look at him. Her shoulders grew tense, and Crow's lips twitched in a brief smirk at her uncertainty. Yellow eyes slid half-shut. "You can stay in the golem's lap."

    "Vargo," the hulking golem corrected as he watched Crow.

    Crow rolled his eyes skyward, then shrugged and entered. He closed the door and murmured quietly, then took a seat on Rare's stool beside the vanity. None outside would hear the exchange within, and he turned his gaze directly to Vargo.

    "Very well, then. Vargo. You claim Rare as your owner, but she is my property. I will not damage my property, but it is my right to hurt her or have others hurt her, but she will not be scarred and she will not be killed. She's a trash doll, but she is my rubbish, and any who harm her under my watch will receive more punishment than you can provide. Rare did not tell you to obey, but she did tell you to listen. If you have the intelligence to correct me with your name, I am sure you can understand the need to watch how you behave," Crow explained with a calm, deep voice before he addressed Rare. "Order him to secrecy about all he sees before I leave this room."

    Rare looked up at Vargo, then nodded to tell him that was her request. On his knee, her thighs and bottom remained tense as she turned her head to look at Crow once more.

    "Good girl," he praised, then sighed, "However, you lied to the Council. Everyone did yesterday. I can't demand answers from Elizabeth or her guest, but you will give me the reason." He made a point to avoid demanding the truth. His relationship with Rare was more complex than most could ever understand, and he preferred it that way. People assumed she made no effort to escape because she feared him, and they were half right.

    The girl took a deep breath, as though in preparation to speak, then began to sign.

    She began with a simple statement—he told her long ago that in her missions, she would have to trust her judgment and act upon it rather than act on her training, because her missions were going to be unusual.

    Crow nodded and waited for her to continue.

    Rare closed her eyes, then began to sign. "Multiple-event. Secret-from-Council. Ally-protect. Ally-rules-broke."

    The man sighed. "Just write it. This sounds too complex to signing to do any good."

    The demon bit her finger and began to write.

    Multiple large events occurred, and the situation became too complex for the rest of the Council to understand. Even Elizabeth thought it best they remain ignorant, despite her own 'handicap'. An ally broke several rules, many large, but in doing so, revealed to me that this ally should not be counted an enemy. I believe this ally would fight alongside us if requested by someone the ally considers amicable.


    She focused through the written words and watched Crow, and the man knew she was done.

    "Rare, you believe that is the truth, but that isn't your reason." Her flinch confirmed his assumption. "Tell me."

    The ally is among my friends.


    Yellow eyes narrowed. "So, either is one of your friends or happens to be in proximity to them. Which?"

    Her hand began to write, but stopped and looked down with brows furrowed.

    "Ha," Crow laughed, "You don't know? Fine, I'll accept it. Don't betray my trust for this person, though, not if you don't even know if he's your friend."

    The tengu in human disguise walked toward Rare and rested a hand on her cheek. "After all, even if this person saved your life, the chance wouldn't have been present without my involvement in your life."

    Rare lowered her head, though he caught the hint of shame in her ears.

    "And perhaps I misjudged that Elliot Sinclair person. I sent you in time to ovulate, but you're not pregnant. I suppose it's just as well. Next time you do, it will be January. You will skip it this year—not for lying, no. This is for failing to protect that city."

    Rare nodded.

    Crow smiled and pinched her cheek hard before he slipped away. "Too many failures, and..." With his words, he turned from her and the giant.

    As he exited the room, he spotted the human Elizabeth brought with her from that doomed city. His eyes narrowed with instinctual distaste. For a moment, he pondered whether he should mention his thoughts to the man. Finally, he decided he may as well. "Officer Falren, a moment, please, in my office." He motioned toward a random door. "This room is not occupied, and the rumor mill is exceptionally active among Hunters. I do not think you want everyone to know what I will tell you." Yellow eyes glanced up and down the hall, briefly as he opened a door to reveal a room of the same stone as the rest of the underground complex.
     
    #4 The Mood is Write, Dec 25, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  5. Because I'm an Asshole

    Spoiler

    A chime sounded, and the caller ID revealed the name "Rare Sinclair" in glowing letters. When the screen opened, it revealed a familiar face. No longer quite as squishy in the cheeks, but still soft-featured, Rare looked forward with those same pale brown, round eyes as ever. Her collar rested around her neck—the intended recipient of the call removed it before, but there it was, seeming to mock the time and power it had taken to remove.

    Rare stood not within the stone walls of HQ, nor in the metal halls of Biocybera's base. Sterile white panels surrounded her, and a metal slab with straps seemed to lie in wait alongside carts covered in white sheets. The surroundings seemed to seep every trace of color from Rare's already pale skin.

    Her hair was black and shiny as ever. She wore a grey dress—it lacked the usual lace, bows, or ribbons, and instead hugged her slender figure—slinky, one might call it. It revealed the dip of her sternum between her small breasts. Though she wore heels, she looked clearly taller than last time the Hunter met Sinclair.

    Unlike the other greetings, there was no neutrality, no confusion, no joy in the contact. Instead, her eyes spoke of fear, sadness, and regret.

    "Sin—" the word came out hoarse and quiet. She took a deep breath. "Sin," her voice came steadier this time, "It's been a long time, hasn't it? I can't see or hear anything from your end of this call."

    She closed her eyes and bit her lower lip. An unsteady breath did little to calm her nerves, but she continued on.

    "I've been captured by the Unifiers. Not the ones who showed up with me and the others in Miss Bio's base, but still Unifiers. I have... made a bargain. I get to call three people. The price—" her voice caught, and she started over, "I offered them knowledge of how to make my end particularly humiliating. They're going to broadcast it to everyone I call."

    Another unsteady breath betrayed her nerves, and her eyes glimmered with welling tears. Ears and cheeks grew steadily redder as she forced herself to continue.

    "I'm sorry. It's... entirely selfish of me. I just—" Rare looked away from the camera. "I'm scared, I don't want to die, but I can't join them! I can't!"

    Her voice broke on the edge of a sob, and her arms wrapped around her chest.

    "Sin, I really hope you're watching."

    She turned her face back to the camera.

    Three short blinks, a pause, a short and a long, pause, three shorts and a long, and another pause, then a short. She paused again, longer this time, then blinked twice slowly and once quickly.

    "I hope you're getting this message. Please."

    Rare forced a deep breath again. Her throat felt painfully tight. Slowly, she wiped at her eyes. "I miss you, Sin. For all... all of the crazy, scary things you put me through, I miss you." Her eyes moved from the screen again, this time reflecting. "I still have... gaps. Pieces of memories that are just... not there. What I do remember, though," she smiled slightly, "I remember how the first time we met, you were just so annoyed to have to deal with me, and then we met Vargo, and you dragged me off to Loki's bar—"

    She bit her lip in a restrained smile. "Not exactly a normal 'fond memory' given you had to detox me afterward."

    A little exhale through her nose revealed that she did remember it with some degree of amusement or happiness.

    Another voice came from off-camera. "Hurry up, Subject."

    Rare stiffened.

    "Sorry." She bowed her head, then looked at the camera again.

    "I never got to tell you this, because it's just... not something that comes up in conversation, but I think you know it without me saying. Three things, actually."

    Once more, she wiped at her eyes.

    "First, I'm... I'm forever grateful to you. Because of you, I met and bonded with incredible friends. Felicie, Vargo, Elizabeth... Elizabeth used to hate me before what happened in Cork City. She became my closest ally since then, and actually was working on getting me more independence from Crow when she included Vargo and I on the mission involving the Cursor. Since then, she's... unofficially stolen me from Crow. He still controls me, but thanks to her being around me so often and sending me on missions, he tends not to have a chance to be near me."

    Slowly, she rubbed her arms. "Second, more thanks for you. It might not seem it, but... I'm... I'm..." she rested her fingers at the dip between her collarbones, just below the tag on her collar. "You removed it. I know, it's back, but that doesn't mean I wanted it... Because you removed it, I..." she swallowed, "I was able to grow out of being Crow's 'type'. He doesn't like tall, mature girls. He couldn't get the age-stalling effect on the new one like he wanted." Her thoughts felt a mess. She struggled for a few moments. "Thank you, Sinclair. It might not seem like it, but even though the collar is back, removing it did... so much kindness for me, and that didn't stop when it was put back on."

    Her smile persisted as she let her hand slide from her neck and hang in front of her, rested upon the other.

    "Last, Sin," she murmured as she looked up at the camera, "I was never incapable of love. Never. I don't like using the word or... saying I'm in love, because I was scared Crow might somehow pop out of nowhere, just... appear and punish me." Rare pushed her bangs from her face, but they fell right back as unseen horns blocked them. "Even after that... weird final morning in Cork City, my crush on you didn't go away. It wasn't... full love, not yet at that point, but it was the start."

    Rare felt he could figure out the rest of what she wanted to tell him—that she loved him. The words refused to leave, but they'd communicated for so long without words—she hoped he would understand as he did so often.

    "Is that it?" the interrupting voice came again.

    Rare jumped, caught by surprise, then swallowed as her brief respite from fearful despair came to an end. "I... believe so, yes." Her voice broke.

    "Don't take so long on the next two calls."

    "Mm," Rare nodded and wiped at her eyes again as she felt heat start to build in them again.

    "Just leave that call going. We're going to start as soon as you're finished."

    Another nod from Rare, and she stepped forward, very close to the screen, seeming to read something below the camera.

    Her lips moved silently.

    "I don't want to die..."

    She pressed something below the camera, then stepped back again. She wiped her eyes and stood straight, pulling on the same emotionless mask Sin had seen and had to crack through often before.

    "Hello, Councilmen. Brock. I realize this is highly unusual, and I apologize for the inconvenience. I am unable to see or hear anything from your end, so please bear with me. I am going to die shortly. The Unifiers captured me, and have given me the choice between service to them and death. I bargained away my dignity for a chance to say goodbye. I hope you will forgive me. The Unifiers will broadcast my execution to you in the same manner as they are allowing me to communicate."

    She bowed at the waist, though not all the way, and only briefly before she rose, hands together in front of her thighs. "To Brock, I am... very sorry for this. I will not be able to cook your dinners any longer. Please finish the book we were reading on your own, and—"

    The facade cracked, a brief glimmer of heartbreak.

    "I'm so sorry, Brock, Elizabeth..."

    She paused, and the crack in her mask healed, replaced by a stern glare.

    "Crow. If you are at all upset by losing me, free my sister. She will never be your wife, you disgusting pervert."

    Her expression fell back to neutrality.

    "I have one more call to make, and the execution will begin. Please excuse me. You will likely hear that call, as well."

    She moved forward again and pressed. She backed up again, still emotionless-seeming as a doll.

    "Hello, Lady Beryl. I know we have only met briefly in the past, but I hope you will forgive me for calling you. I am a Hunter. My name is Rare, and this collar around my neck has Councilman Crow's name on it. Unifiers have captured me, and I offered my dignity in exchange for three calls. I am not certain how they gained contact with you, but I assume by the green light, this call is connected to something." She paused, thoughtful for a moment, then lifted her head, remembering suddenly, "Oh, right. Also, this is a one-way call, and the Unifiers are going to execute me on camera."

    The mask was fading, but the fear seemed less present.

    "Lady Beryl, I have a favor to ask of you—a large one to me, but surely small compared to your power."

    The voice from off-camera cleared their throat.

    Rare glanced toward the source. "I am not about to beg for help," she snapped. She'd already done that to the one person she thought could, not that this Unifier needed to know.

    She returned her attention to the camera. "Lady Beryl, please. I have... many children scattered throughout the multiverse. Please ensure that at least a few are happy. I had no choice in their conception or my separation from them. I have no knowledge of their names, ages, genders, or anything save that they were given life through me. If even a small amount are happy, then... perhaps I might feel less guilt during judgment."

    With a deep breath, she steadied herself. Tension faded, and she stared into the camera directly, as though trying to meet the eye of her every viewer. "Hunters never die." Her glare of challenge at the camera held iron will she collected while under her mask—the same will that made her so effective at her blood magic.

    "Stop being so dramatic and get on the table."
     
    #5 The Mood is Write, Apr 1, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  6. Rare's Room, Kina's Knot

    Spoiler

    Elizabeth's scolding droned on, and Rare sat pretty and proper, seeming attentive save how her mind wandered away from the subject at hand. She didn't know what reminded her, but old memories came back. She could almost feel like she was in them again.

    One arm wrapped tight around her. A hand pressed to her lower stomach, and she felt it inside of herself. The taste of saliva, blood, waffles, syrup, and bacon clung to his mouth, along with the taste of an unwashed body—that other woman.

    In her mind, she felt it again—that altered shaft that overfilled her and yet never once hit the place that made it painful.

    The memory of its movement felt as potent as it had in the moment she experienced it, and Rare's toes curled in her shoes.

    "Rare!" Elizabeth's sharp tone cut through fantasies, and Rare opened her eyes, only just realizing she'd closed them. Yellow eyes narrowed at her for several moments before Elizabeth spoke. "Honestly—was it January there? I'm trying to talk to you!"

    Rare shot an apologetic look.

    Elizabeth stared down at her for several moments, then sighed and rubbed the root of her nose. "Fine. It's January here as well. Go mate with a bedpost for all I care, but once you're sated, come back and we can continue our... discussion of how that mission could have gone better."

    Rare inclined her head, somehow graceful despite Elizabeth's words.

    "Go!"

    She went. The moment she wasn't facing Elizabeth anymore, she closed her eyes again briefly to let the memories return. Glassy eyes looked around, eyelids fluttering as she bit the inside of her lip. Finally, she darted away.

    She had a secret place—a special place, hidden from all—or at least, nobody acted like they knew of it. The girl ran past the admin halls and down into the dungeons. She ran past cells both occupied and empty, heels strangely silent in the stone labyrinthine maze. She stopped short as she spotted a cell in the deeper end with a light inside—did someone else have a secret down here?

    The woman began to creep forward, only to stop as an unfamiliar-smelling hand shoved itself against her eyes. Smooth and scarred as any other Hunter's, it was small—female or a trainee. A voice spoke, unfamiliar as the scent, in Latin.

    "You will forget you saw this room in use and go on your way."

    There was no command—more of a plea.

    Rare lifted her finger, and the hand's owner flinched. A bite, and glowing letters began to form as she wrote her response in Latin.

    You keep my secret, and I keep yours.


    Silence fell for several moments after Rare finished writing.

    "And if I betray the Hunters?"

    I keep my own secret by killing you myself.


    "I like you. Go on. I am Kina." Kina turned Rare around before she removed her hand, and the light from the room now behind her vanished, throwing the dungeons into shadow.

    Suddenly, she wasn't sure if she needed to use her private space anymore. From the records she sometimes snatched up, Kina was a trainee around the same time as Kyoko. Her records never mentioned that she was secretive. They said she was idiotic and athletic. She struggled with learning English, and her growth was stunted when she arrived.

    She was never listed as knowing more than English and the language of the Red Yao People. If she learned it on a mission, why not declare it and gain note of more useful skills?

    She wanted to ask, but Kina's scent was gone already.

    Rare let out a quiet sigh, then continued to the dungeon cell she took over. If she didn't, this 'Kina' might find her suspicious, though all desire to go there was gone now.

    A light push sent the door creaking open slowly to reveal the same darkness she traveled in by scent and touch alone. A bite to her finger formed a dot of light that grew brighter and revealed the inside—just as she left it.

    There was a small, nice bed. Across the room, a large wooden chest. In the center, the same drains found in every dungeon cell. It wasn't a well-furnished place. It wasn't without its odd smells. There had been several ancient corpses when she arrived—likely long-dead Hunters left to rot for going against the Council.

    A smaller chest held their remains, now inside another cell, inscribed with "May you rest peacefully, free of all torments and pains." It was a simple tribute, but the superstitious part of her had decided that if she was going to use their final resting place as a replacement for male company, she thought it best to give them a nicer place—the chest was padded and lined with velvet. It wasn't spacious, but it was her best bet, given that moving the bed and the larger chest already left her enough heart attacks.

    As Rare looked around the dark room and stepped in, she let the door close behind her.

    Unlike other times, she heard the lock click.
     
    #6 The Mood is Write, Apr 2, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  7. Rare and the Multiverse's Wanted Posters
    Big spoilers for Veil. Read at your own risk.

    Spoiler

    "Lady Jade!" Rare approached the short blonde with several scraps of paper in hand. Brown eyes wide, she came to a stop and bowed her head briefly.

    "Yes, Hunter Rare?" Red eyes stared up at the demon, gaze expressionless, but Rare could smell her boss's concern.

    Rare straightened and absently smoothed her clothes as she gathered her thoughts before she finally offered the papers to Jade.

    The young woman looked over the scraps—mission papers, ripped from the bulletin boards, seeking a being called 'the Firstborn' who went by Sinclair. "Yes?" Jade asked slowly. Something about Rare's manner said this wasn't a simple 'I'm taking this mission'.

    "Please, Lady Jade," Rare took a deep breath, then suddenly bowed deeply. "Please pardon him!"

    Jade's eyebrows shot into her bangs, and her eyes widened. "Why!?"

    The Hunter closed her eyes, but remained bent. "Please pardon him." She repeated, voice wavering slightly.

    Jade could only stare. Rare never requested such a thing before. Rare never even asked for time off. Rare had only ever approached her to request two things before—assistance in finding two of her children, and permanent partnership assignment to Brock. To ask suddenly for Jade to pardon a being who had killed so many...

    Mere mention of the name Sinclair or the alias "Sinner" was enough to send the spirit within Jade into phantom pains that shuddered along Jade's stomach.

    Finally, Jade spoke. "Hunter Rare. Please tell me why you request the pardon of someone who hurts me."

    Rare bowed lower before she answered. "I don't know, but... he's important to me. Very important. I'm prepared to retire if you don't pardon him."

    The breath caught in Jade's throat as the color visibly left the shorter woman.

    "Explain his importance, at least. Try. Because it is you making this request, I will listen."

    Rare slowly rose. Being listened to was a start. That Sinclair was hurting Jade—she didn't like that, but she should have expected that the Multiverse would feel pain when parts were eaten.

    "He freed me from my collar, and he's the reason I came back and let Crow place the damned thing back on. He... was my first... I'm not sure how to say. Through him, I made my first friends who weren't Kyoko or Twiggy. He... taught me many things. Please, Lady Jade, I..." Rare trailed off and looked away, ears red. She clenched her hands together tightly in front of herself, then faced Jade again, staring into her eyes. "Please pardon him." A slight bow, this time with an air of challenge about her.

    Jade simply stared back, confusion clear as red eyes darted about to take in every aspect of this Hunter who had suffered so much in her life, and felt so strongly about someone Jade never even knew about until a few months prior.

    Rare could barely even explain why she would ask for a pardon for Sinclair, but she was willing to retire for him. If she went, so too would Brock. Kyoko might go also—Jade didn't rule with fear. Any Hunter could retire as long as they promised to assist if the Multiverse was in danger, but Rare was actually asking for a danger to the Multiverse to walk free.

    "I do not... understand." Jade murmured as she sank further into her chair, looking over the papers.

    "He doesn't want to hurt the Multiverse. He loves it."

    "But Cork City—"

    "I was there, Lady Jade."

    Jade's breath caught as she stared, mouth agape. "We have been investigating that for months. Why did you say nothing?"

    "A favor to a friend. I am... sorry, but... Lady Jade, please, the events in Cork City were not as simple as a crazy man devouring a city. Things were... larger than that."

    Jade dropped the papers onto her desk and stared at Rare, eyes narrowed. "Go on. Explain everything."

    Rare closed her eyes and took a breath.

    "I was sent to work with a human partner. Likely it was Crow's attempt at gaining another agent. He went through Elizabeth's local agent, Gerard Falren, and sent me to Detective Elliot Sinclair. We were to investigate the circle of stones around the city, and our first stop was to visit an old witch."

    Rare explained in full to the best of her abilities, doing her best to also conceal certain secrets Sin asked her to keep for him. She paused as she admitted to a few places where she had memory gaps. She glossed over the various debaucheries with a tint of red on her ears that grew to slowly engulf her cheeks and nose as she came to realize just how much sex she'd had on that mission—how she didn't end up pregnant, she had no idea. She honestly thought Loki would have knocked her up the first night—events were blurry after that. She remembered a basement and a box, and...

    Looking back, she remembered now that Sinclair dumped alcohol into her anus, vagina, and mouth—had she been human, she would have died, but he saved her from the addictive poison of that... frog.

    Her story detailed everything she knew—if Jade knew he was a Firstborn, what was the use in keeping the rest from her?

    Finally, she approached the end, and the revelation of the faerie circle, Alberich, and Sinclair's betrayal of the faerie's love in order to save the rest of the universe, and how it forced him to take the form of an infant.

    That nagging sensation of forgetting returned. It was more persistent than others. Still, as she finished with how Elizabeth decided to let them go, Rare lifted her face to look once more at her boss, here in the present.

    Jade remained silent, hand over her eyes as rested her elbow on the desk.

    "And... other times?"

    "It's... not something he wants to do. He doesn't go around devouring everything. He wants to learn about things, not destroy them. He's...." Rare trailed off at the end as she remembered their next meeting. "He doesn't want to be harmful. He wants to learn and explore!"

    Jade groaned quietly. "Let me speak to Multiverse Beryl about it. I..." she trailed off. "Even thinking about him is physically painful, Hunter Rare. I hope you know what you are asking." She pushed herself up from her desk and let her chair wheel a short distance away. "I will have your answer when I return. You will make no move to pack, nor speak of this matter to anyone in my absence." Her eyes remained on the wall as she rested both hands on her desk, then addressed the third party in the room—her bodyguard. "Hunter Phil. I trust you will keep this quiet. Should anyone ask after me, I am visiting Multiverse Beryl to discuss a few questions."

    A portal opened, and Jade let herself fall through.
     
  8. Long-Overdue Visitation
    Possible spoilers for Rare and Ozymandias.

    Spoiler

    A chime indicated an incoming call.

    Bio, hypocritically up late after bullying Sin to get rest, glanced over at it, then frowned as her mind scanned the lit pixels to discover the name of the jerk calling at this hour.

    Rare Sinclair

    Last time she called, she was in deadly trouble. A weight settled into Bio's stomach, and she launched herself over to hit the 'answer' button quickly.

    As Bio lifted herself to look at the screen, what she saw was not what she expected. It took a moment to puzzle out the smiling face. She pulled a folded visor from her pocket and pulled it on, then grinned as the world became colorful thanks to the application of magic on the lenses.

    "Hey, hon," Bio greeted. "Yer in a good mood."

    Instead of lifting her hands to use sign language, Rare spoke.

    "Hello. What are you going by these days?"

    It wasn't hoarse, nor was it rasping. It was soft and sweet and warm.

    "Ah switch it up. Call me whatcha want," Bio shrugged, "What's th'occasion, Rare?"

    Rare paused on the screen as she pondered. "Ozy, then. Calling you Bio would get confusing, given... certain things I'll tell you later."

    "Huh?"

    "Like I said. Later. I want to come by and visit you and Sin—assuming you've still got a death-grip on his hip?"

    Bio's grin was more than enough answer, but she still spoke. "Acourse! We'd love ta see ya—least, Ah assume Sin would, but he's asleep. Ah know Ah would."

    Rare giggled, hand over her mouth. "Well, could I convince you to help me lock in on your location?"

    "Wotcha got in mind?"

    "I have a cell phone now. If someone calls it, I can pull up their multiversal coordinates and use those to get there. Otherwise, we'd have to wait for Sin to get up and see if he can find that bead I gave him. I didn't have time to tell him how to use it, but all he has to do is bleed on it."

    "Hm. Ah think you comin'd be a good surprise fer 'im. Gimmie yer number."

    Rare inclined her head in a brief nod, then recited a ten digit number. Bio snagged one of the dry-erase pens she kept scattered about and wrote on a nearby smooth surface, as she was prone to doing.

    "Awright, Ah got it."

    "Thank you. I won't answer—I'll just come. Shouldn't be long!"

    With that, the call ended, and Bio stared at the screen for several moments before she grinned broadly and began to call that number with a happy little hum.
     
  9. You Killed Me

    Spoiler
    Rare wheezed and stumbled. Her vision grew dark as she came to rest against a wall, too strong still to lose her footing. Her end was so simple—she could feel her nerves giving out. Funny how much control the man had over everything...

    "Sin," the word came out in a breath, "I never stood a chance, did I?" It was more musing to herself than an actual question. She knew the answer, even before she steeled herself to attack the first man she'd ever wanted to be with.

    "That's the sad part," he began as he stared at her with eyes that pierced her fading vision, "You did once."

    Rare didn't have the control left to laugh. She wanted to, but it wouldn't come.

    "Do you think... I might have succeeded..." she couldn't get enough breath, "If I'd actually wanted to?" Her eyes slid shut, and she felt herself slide down to her knees.

    Her mouth hung open lazily as she remembered just how his little trick worked. A person's own blood could kill nerve cells. The burst arteries throughout her body were doing their job, deadening limbs and torso. More fatal was the burst that crept closer to the brain stem—the very part that urged her heart to beat and lungs to breathe.

    Willpower alone forced her to try to speak just a few more words.

    "I'm sorry, Sin."

    There was more, but already she felt the beat in her chest grow slower, more irregular.

    "Maybe when I'm rein... car..."

    Seated there, rested against the wall, lungs and heart slowed further, and finally stopped. In her mind, thoughts continued, swirling toward obliteration.


    Continued by VeilofRain
    I will go on for the sake of her.
    Spoiler
    Sin sighed, watching her slip away little by little. Of course, it was too much. It always was. How many young things would he have to watch slip away. Were his Sin's really so terrible that so many others had to suffer because of him. Well, the deed was done, she had done exactly what she wanted, but the left would be left to him.

    "I would apologize but... if I did, then we'd both be wrong." Sinclair said and held out his hand. The sigils she had seen so many times crawled along his flesh and manifested as a dark light. They stretched and grew, as more appeared until markings expansive enough to cover a quarter of a planet clung to him like a bracelet over the girl. There was a sacrifice needed, but he didn't have enough bodies for her. In the next moment, the world began to crumble around her, and lines of himself began to peel away. Crawling into her, a price to be paid.

    It was just like Elli, all over again. She would have a gift he hadn't given the boy. She was wrapped up in reality, as fibers of the world coiled around her, swaddling her like an infant before a sound like everything shattering ruptured the silence. He took the thing left behind, and wondered if Six would have been angry if she knew about this. Well, it didn't matter, cradled the remnants, and with one step he stood before he red haired immortal. How long had she been like this? Bear must have been suffering so much. He sighed and took the 'sphere' left behind and gently placed it against her stomach. Little my little, it sank into her, into a body that could survive anything. If not for this, all would be lost.

    The seconds ticked by, and he watched Felicie's sleeping body expand to feed the life inside of her. His eyes roamed to the woman with he had met so long ago in this very lab.

    "Watch them both. It's going to hurt when Feli gives birth to that. If Bear is around, tell him to raise her with love. Vargo will be confused for a bit, but he'll be a good friend to her."

    Sinclair frowned at the swollen stomach that held the demon he had a strange affection for.
    "Crow made her forget once, and I resented him. Were he still alive, I might apologize. He was right." Sinclair took a step back.

    "I'm going to commit some very grave sins now. Do not let my burden stretch to this place." Sinclair's final words before he allowed himself to slip off into the next page.
     
    #9 The Mood is Write, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  10. You Gave to Me

    Spoiler
    A childhood...

    Had little Rare remembered her previous life, she might not have taken the loving family life for granted. She had a father and mother who each taught her things, and who encouraged her to be her best. They loved her and spent time with her.

    She also had a dear friend in Vargo. He sometimes became confused, but she didn't mind. He always made her feel safe, even if he looked strange and made other children scared if they didn't know him yet.

    Strangely, in this life, she seemed wholly human aside from her horns and the pitch black shadow under her feet. Injuries didn't heal with abnormal speed, her nose wasn't very strong, and she had only the strength expected of such a scrawny kid. Her favorite color was blue, and forget-me-nots were the flowers she loved the most.

    At five years old, Bear began to teach her how to fight. Both would come home from fighting in a field or forest, filthy from their sparring, much as Bear had done so long ago for Elli. As Bear's training continued, Rare grew stronger and began to develop more rapid healing. Her senses grew stronger, and nosebleeds marked the presence of supernaturals nearby.

    The child became an adolescent, and she came to look like she had before. She wore color and chattered, and didn't care if she got messy—even covered in mud and grinning, there was a sense of nobility about her, and free of Crow's influence, she grew like a weed, until she was almost as tall as Bear by the time she graduated high school.

    She attended college while working a part-time job, and though January made things more difficult as the years went on, she persevered.

    Rare was on her way to her graduation ceremony for her associate's degree. Heavy rain and a dark storm reduced visibility.

    Vargo was the first to find her car, even through the blinding rain and green-tinted skies. The car radio announced her school's graduation ceremony had been cancelled as she rested against her seat, bruised by airbag and seatbelt, and unconscious.

    When she woke, she seemed confused and numb, and as her recovery continued, she began to act strangely—quieter, more reserved. She flinched at raised hands and sudden movements, and began to carry a knife.

    Rare washed the dishes. It was fall, and the morning was drizzly. She would have been going to class today, had she enrolled to pursue a bachelor's degree. She remained at home instead, content with house work.

    Taking over the kitchen had felt natural to her. Her practice was showing as her dishes grew tastier. With Vargo to assist thanks to some nerve damage in her dominant hand from the crash, the young Hunter's confidence rose with every meal.

    As she lifted a plate from the soapy water, she heard her phone in the next room. Vargo was occupied with drying and putting dishes away. Rare looked around, then sighed. "Felicie! Could you answer that for me, please?"

    She stopped short as she realized what she called her mother. She'd known her name, but always just called her 'mama' or 'mom'. Flickers of a distant memory came to her as she realized she'd moved her hands strangely when she said the other woman's name. She slowly repeated the movement with a confused stare at her hands. Having not learned sign language, she didn't know what she was saying, but her hands knew the motions for 'f-sister', as she'd once called Felicie.

    "That was... weird..."

    Had Vargo seen that? She turned to look at him, expression searching for answers.


    Continued by VeilofRain
    I will go on until the end.
    Spoiler
    ’They’re coming.’
    With their guns and machines, with their monsters and malice. None would have ever expected that those that stood across the valleys from one another, each seeking a separate goal, each out for the others blood, would finally come together. Still, it was not as if it had required some grand scheme. A simple bit of logic.

    ”The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    So, what better way to unite to factions that waged war across various universe than to give them one single opponent they had to work together to defeat. Sitting here in his throne of stardust, and black hole remnants was that enemy. Sinclair. The ultimate sinner. The Last Firstborn. Whatever he was known as it didn’t matter. He hadn’t shared a word with anyone in his last hundred thousand years. There was no friend to confide in, no body for consolation. Not even the Pleiades would be here for this. They would be the greatest witnesses though. The only ones that stood apart from the tsunami that was him. Devastation incarnate. He could not blame them for this. Even though one little creature had fought so valiantly to prevent this.

    That was so long ago. How big had she grown? Was she loved inside the body of his former lover, Felicie? Did she grow with the enthusiastic zealous of Bear? Did Vargo tend to her like a baby sister? For all he was, he had never strived for omniscience. He had been there before, witnessing everything at once. It was amazing, in that he missed nothing, and yet it was terrible, in that he had no mysteries to uncover. Now, he sat in his lonely throne at the edge of a dead starfield, waiting for them to come. The vessels of the unifiers, housing the destructive flesh of the hunters while their own weaponry was primed for Sinclair’s end. All together, while he sat here, void of even the smallest grain of warmth.

    What could he do? She had failed to kill him when given the chance. Like Elli, it had been too much for her to know what he had given her. Perhaps this life was something you truly had to be born into, and he had selfishly ensured he was the only one left. Well, he may as well give them a show. With a flick of his hand several ships rumbled and inside the lights flashed as passengers grew weary. A preliminary warhead was launched, and with just a blink he watched it ignite like a newborn sun before fading into nothing. A ship had been lost, three hundred souls just a bit too close for him to notice enough to prevent their deaths. Well, that would give the others something to fight for.

    As they surged, he witnessed them landing at the very edges, eager to escape the sardine confinement of the metal flying machines. Despite the dead and stony crags, he had created a sort of paradise, a place where each species could breathe. The perfect construction of molecules and atoms, somewhat like stem cells, they instantly adapted to whatever inhaled them. Most intelligent than a brain, faster than light, even a water creature could ’breathe’ this air. Yet, he had to meet his demise. Maybe this was the reason he had avoided ever returning to his Firstborn state. Perhaps he had been greedy in wanting power. All those universe, consumed. Well, the lives in them. This was bound to happen.

    A single shot rang out, a powerful sniper round. It came right for him, yet despite his wish for death, it vibrated in the air no more than an inch from his eye. It shuddered before falling to dust at his feet. With a sigh he stood up, witnessing the thousands of unifiers and hunters congregating at the base of his cathedral.
    He actually would miss this. The angry throngs of them charging for his demise. Did the little demon miss him still, despite their harsh ending? When had he become so sentimental? They were halfway up the steps, when he simply snapped and the surface became so smooth that they slid back down, piling over one another. Some broke backs and necks as larger beings collapsed over them. Next came the ballistic weapons, so many that when they hit his arcane wall he could not see them but through pin prick gaps in the collection of artillery that had been fired.

    ’I thought you wanted this to end? So why keep stopping them?’

    He knew the answer. He was selfish. Sinclair didn’t want to die? Who would want to die? He raised his hands and clamped them together, turning everything into a tightly woven sphere the size of a softball. It could implode into a star sized eruption, but he rendered it useless and simply dropped it upon the smooth slide. Next came the cries of terror, fearing he was about to annihilate them all. Some ran, some charged forward, some covered others. The large ball hit someone - and did nothing. It simply rested there after the sturdy thunk. Sinclair pocketed his hands and admired at the horde recovered, until a leader stepped forward. A strong looking woman, he might have even recognized her.

    “Firstborn Sinclair. We have come to put an end to your crimes. Surrender, and your death will be a swift one.”
    Did she really think he would come with them. Her voice was colder than the dead space just beyond the atmosphere. She was calm, he sensed no fear from her. With the power to destroy so many of their weapons, what did they expect to do? Sinclair did nothing, he just stared at her, a tall head through the crowd.

    “I see, then so be it. I must warn you.” She pulled out a firearm no larger than a toy water gun. It reminded him of that weapon he had been in the middle of trying to design around the time he had met Ozymandias. She pointed it right at him, and took a deep breath. He could see her hoping that it worked through her stoic gaze. Still, there was no hesitance when she pulled the trigger. A ring of light erupted outward, more visible than the rings of Saturn to the distant worlds as a tiny shot no larger than a dime surged towards him. It vibrated with such power he could hear the universe ripping. Then came the impact. His expression didn’t change, he just gazed at her, and ever so slowly a smile came upon his lips.

    “We opened the Cradle. This is the only successful thing we could produce. You can thank Ozymandias and Six.” There was pride in her words. She was pleased to see the hole so clear through him, his spine had clearly been severed. His eyes, stony and grey just gazed forward as blood soaked into his pants and lower shirt while the rest spilled from his varied orifices. Sinclair didn’t know if this is really what dying felt like. There was no pain, no sense of peace of dread. Strength left his legs and he crumbled to his knees. His body flopped where their was no spine, and his torso seemed half a foot too short. His arms fell from his pockets and pushed into the floor, supporting him like some awful macabre statue as his gaze fell to the heavens, unblinking. Lifeless.

    “You, go check if he is dead.” The woman with the gun said. The soldier looked wearily at her, before clear reluctance could not stop him from rising on his jetpack, and landing where Sinclair kneeled. Panic nearly took the poor soldier, slowly reaching out to touch the place where he knew his pulse rested. Carefully, pushed two digits to the jugular, waiting for a pulse. Instead, he heard a crack and jumped back as the body before him began to crumble, falling into dust. The soldier turned and slid from the perch, too afraid to see what came next. With a few minutes, everyone climbed, working together until they stood around the pile of ash that was Sinner.

    “Hm, peculiar death. Sadly, we didn’t know enough to know what to expect… this will have to do. Take records.” She ordered, and turned. A unifier leader was commanding their own troops, ordering them to explore the surrounding area. As a hunter, she knew what that meant. They were seeking this man’s secrets.

    Perhaps, he really had been the only thing keeping their collaboration sincere.
     
    #10 The Mood is Write, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  11. You Fell without Me

    Spoiler
    Jade stepped forward finally, through a portal and toward the ash. Unifiers and Hunters alike parted for her, and she stared down at Sinclair's remains like they were a thing of disgust.

    "I wish it had been more painful," she snarled. Sinclair had robbed the Hunters of Rare. He stole her from the love of Brock, and from sisterhood with Kyo. He stole away her friendship from everyone. Jade herself was not left unmarked by Sinclair's destruction. One of her arms was ashen, and she moved with a limp.

    The damage done to so many universes crippled her and left pain throbbing through her entire body. This wasn't her end, though. She and the spirit that inhabited her body would survive and grow stronger.

    Now, she had to regain order. Slowly, she turned toward the Unifiers as they greedily rifled through Sin's creations. Portals appeared throughout the air overhead.

    "Stop your looting," her voice broke through. "The Sinner's remains, including this altered place, will be destroyed. Get back quickly to your ships, or you will be caught in the destruction. Hunters, return to Headquarters."

    Jade would see to the destruction of this hollow place, herself. She didn't care that it was a wonder. She didn't care that it was beautiful and that it supported so much life. She wanted only to hurt what remained of the one who brought her so much pain. He took her friends. He twisted them and killed them. He put her through horrific pain. Even now, even knowing he was dead, it wasn't enough.

    Once Unifier and Hunter alike were gone from the place, she turned once more to look at the ash left behind.

    "Hunter Rare begged me to spare you. When I told her no, she said she would speak to you to try and convince you to stop." She breathed in through clenched teeth. "You killed her."

    "You killed her..."

    Jade began to shake as she glared at the remains. Tears spilled as the short woman, not even five feet tall, glared at the last pieces that remained of the one who brought so much pain to her and her people.

    This was as much revenge for Rare as it was an attempt to stop Jade's pain.

    "Lady Jade," a voice came from behind. "We should head back. The others are getting worried."

    The small woman looked back at Phil, then nodded. She opened a portal and he picked her up, then carried her through. The moment it closed, Sinclair's final resting place became stopped in time, unreachable to all. It wasn't destroyed, but not a moment would pass within.

    ⋯﴾﴿⋯

    When Sinclair woke, a cool hand came to rest on his thigh. He sat in a waiting room, much like a modern doctor's, and a weary being with a great beak inspected a three-ring binder, only partly-filled.

    Beside Sin, Ozymandias herself sat. She held the remains of a shattered eyepiece in her free hand. The woman was thinner than their last meeting, where she'd been just on the healthy side of chubby.

    "Ah've been here often," she confided. "This yer first, hon?"

    "It is," answered the beaked being we he closed the binder and looked up. "You're a mess, Sinclair. I would send you where you deserved, but you will never be permitted the satisfaction of knowing. You have a very rare contract with the Multiverse. Today, in the instant your death became final, I am under orders to ensure your immediate reincarnation—"

    "Wait," Ozy interrupted. "Immediate?"

    "Immediate. It will be some time before you have your turn. Unlike him, you only operate on a regular Hopper's contract with a divinity subclause. All of the usual steps."

    "All of..." she cursed.

    "I'll see you once I finish with your beau."

    She slumped, then looked to Sin. "Maybe we'll meet 'gain." A forced smile. A shaking and uncertain voice.

    The beaked being rose, ten feet tall, and the ceiling made room for him. "Come, Sinner. She will have her reincarnation when her soul is ready. You must simply walk to the door there and touch it." A door, not visible before, stood beside the secretary's window.

    "You won't remember, but your soul might retain some of who you were. Hopefully, you don't follow this same path again."
     
    #11 The Mood is Write, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  12. You Know Me

    Spoiler
    Rare couldn't sleep. They started to come back slowly, but now they came too fast as she laid in her bed, staring up at the ceiling in darkness. It was a life that was hers, and the more she remembered, the more her thoughts warred, like she was two different people. One was only in her twenties, surrounded by her family who loved and raised her.

    One was an ancient and tormented soul who tried and failed to prevent her first love becoming an enemy to her people, and then attacked despite certainty she wouldn't survive.

    That older Rare was one whose horns killed her mother. She was taken from her father. Raised surrounded by stone, she was collared by a man who tormented her for his sick fetishes.

    The younger Rare couldn't cope. She struggled and faded, her memories becoming only more of the true Rare's history as she laid in bed.

    Slowly, she sat. Slow movements betrayed shaky uncertainty. She remembered now, how to go back to headquarters. She knew who and what she was, and how she came to be here, but it brought her no peace.

    The naive and innocent young lady was gone, replaced by a woman too old for her chronological age. She closed her eyes as she sat there, memory as imperfect as if she'd never had perfect recollection in her life, and she tried to summon memories of comfort. Once upon a time, she knew she'd been able to relive them perfectly in her mind. That time was gone.

    "Vargo. I'll be back soon. I need to..." she trailed off. A sense of responsibility demanded she seek Lady Jade, to report, to alert her loved ones on HQ that though she'd been dead, she wasn't now.

    And yet, fear kept her in place. She only had to call the Lady's name to go home, but it refused. How could she just leave Bear, Felicie, and Vargo? She could have taken them with her. Bear would be welcomed. With the Council dead, he wouldn't be branded a traitor. Jade was merciful. She wouldn't force him to serve.

    Questions she wished never came to mind haunted her.

    What if there was a war like the last two. What if Brock or Kyo attacked him in their grief and died trying to avenge her. What if Sin had Jade for study. What if. What if. What if.

    Tears carved down her face, but no sobs emerged. There was no scream of agony and grief. Not even a whimper escaped her as she trembled on the edge of the bed, but she didn't rise.

    Morning came, and as the sounds of life filled the house, Rare finally forced herself to wipe away the tears. She dressed slowly, and emerged to make breakfast. She served, but didn't eat, and waited for Felicie to take up.

    Once everyone was present and functional, she took a deep breath.

    "I remember."

    "Huhn?" Bear paused, mid chew, then swallowed the thick chunk of ham.

    "I remember everything, Bear. Graham. Ober."

    He lowered his arm slowly. Even he understood what her recalling his old names meant. "Oh..."

    "I need to return to Headquarters. I... would like everyone to come with me."

    "Er... Maybe you don't—"

    She jerked her head toward him. "The Council is dead, and even if they weren't, your charges were dropped years ago, just like Elizabeth promised you."

    Bear fell silent as he stared at her, then looked toward Felicie, and then Vargo. Fear clenched his stomach, but also hope. He could see old friends again. "We'll come back here, right?"

    Rare smiled. "I don't see why not. Lady Jade, she... she's our new boss. She's very kind. She doesn't force anyone to serve who doesn't want to." She took a deep breath as the words forced optimism into her. "She even installed heating, hired fancy chefs, and ensured there are rooms specifically for entertainment. Alsoome's infirmary is massive now, and he has helpers—" she cut off. "It's... nice."

    And yet the fear wouldn't leave. It remained, stuck as a heavy weight in her stomach.

    "You're scared," Bear frowned.

    "Lady Jade put out a mission to take out Sin. When I asked her to pardon him, she denied my request. I took the mission to see if I could talk to him, to convince him not to keep going the way he was..." Her throat tightened.

    "You attacked him when he refused. That's how you ended up here." Bear filled in, shockingly knowledgeable. Rare stared, but nodded.

    The male sighed. "And you're scared of going back because you don't want to get bad news."

    Another nod.

    Bear stood, then walked around the table and knelt to hug her, thick arms gripping tight.

    "You want us to come with you for support, huh?"

    Rare nodded against his chest, and Bear looked to Felicie. "What do you say, Pretty? I mean, we can't really deny our daughter when she wants help, right?"

    Rare sobbed in relief and hugged him back. He'd found the fear she'd been most nervous about. She waited only for Felicie's answer.


    Continued by VeilofRain:
    I will go on beyond this end.
    Spoiler
    “Of course we can go.” Came Felicie’s words. It was difficult to say no to such a sincere request. Though, she knew deep down inside there would be an answer Rare would not appreciate.

    “Of course I can’t go.” Sinclair said, as simply as if the mere thought otherwise made this creature an idiot. He glanced at Ozy, Bio, whatever she went by now and held that stoic gaze. “You can take it. Contracts, multiverse, this system, even death has fine print.”

    Sinclair sighed and looked at the beaked woman. “Death is irrelevant without life. Life is a clause of Existence. Without life there is no death, but without death life is just existence. You’re too young for whatever you think will happen if I reincarnate in this fashion. Especially with the if any such thing still holds any semblance of a Pleiade in me.”
    Sinclair was irritated. He was not with the other Firstborn, nor had he ceased to exist. He had someone telling him that he could restart, and while that seemed like a wonderful precedent, he could learn everything again, that was not how studying and learning worked. That was too artistic, even for Sinclair. For once, there was a shred of pride in him. This place, this factory of soul renewal, it disgusted him. Judgment was not something he waited for. Judgment was his decision to ’let himself be killed’ for the sake of everything.

    “You’ll always be a prick, won’t you.” A voice, far too familiar. It resonated with such perfection that he had hardly been able to tell that it was not one, but seven of them. He turned, staring at the image of Six, well, not just Six. They smiled at the look of surprise. Surprising Sinclair was nigh impossible.

    “Every bit of existence, remember. Even here, even…”
    “The others?”
    “We never spoke to you of it, because in this one matter, you have always remained a child. Though we respect you in all others.” There was a round of giggles. Ozy had met Six once, and though One was not the same, perhaps she remembered her, not that anyone could really tell the difference by looking. Someone with Ozy’s eyes likely could. Seeing seven figures standing in the same place somehow.

    “We figured you would be troublesome. We apologize.” Six looked to the beaked figure and gave a little bow of her head. “Sin here is not accustomed to emotions, including anger. Last time, well… you said yourself he didn’t deserve to move on. Alas, if we let him have his way, this reincarnation business will be thoroughly unpleasant. So we planned ahead.”

    Six smiled at the beaker woman, then looked to Ozy. “Pleasure to see you again. I would love to help you, but I have my limits. Even this has taken much forethought and such strenuous work, besides, it is only possible thanks to Sinclair’s manifestation of the Cradle.”
    Six’s “smile” faded. It was hard to determine a smile on a figure whose face looked as if it were wrapped up and made of burlap rope with silk woven in. Eyes like pearls, while parts of her glowed like mini-stars behind a mesh tinted screen - it kept the rays from glaring, but the glowing part was still fucking bright. She felt sincerely apologetic to Ozy, they all did, but there was nothing they could do about it.

    “We figured you would refuse when you arrived here. So adamant on being done. Are you sad because you can’t make anyone happy? It was not the burden of power, no one saw what was coming. They don’t know what we did together Sin. Why you did what you did. They just saw the big bad Sinner, and not the thing he kept at bay. Sadly, we’ve seen another, and though no one wants you, they need you.”
    Her words held a tinge of something that was likely longing. Sinclair quirked his brow at her, unsure if what she was saying was worth listening to. He was gone, that was supposed to be the end of it. Yet this place decided they wanted to reincarnate him, interfering with the path his ‘soul’ should have taken.

    “Give it to Ozy.” Sinclair said. Six’s eyes widened for but a moment, then hardened as they looked to the seated woman.

    “Why?”
    “She needs it. I don’t. The advantage to being a cranky old man is lots of time to tinker. Besides, after what happened with the Cradle, what they think they found, it was just what I needed them to have.” Sinclair sighed and placed a hand over his own stomach.

    “They never knew the truth, did they? That you used them, every single one.” Six’s face tilted, her whole head, as if a ball on a sconce.

    “No. They all think I grew tired. That Death is really all I wanted. Even Lynue doesn’t know. She just thought my path was to regain what was lost. She tried to kill me, but, she wasn’t strong enough alone. So I lead them to the cradle. Sorry, Ozy.”
    Sinclair turned to her, smiling thoughtfully. An apology and a smile were both rare from him. Both at once was unheard of.

    “Consider this my gift to you.” Sin said, and suddenly the room filled with a palpable tension.
    “You… you planned this as well?” One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven all snapped at him. Sinclair turned to them, stoic stare before he nodded. The entire place shook, though it was not physical. They were angry. Sinclair had played the entirety of existence for fools.

    “Ozy.” Six snapped. “We’re reincarnating you. We’ll explain how and why once we’re done. We need to be quick. Sinclair is not doubt making new enemies by pissing off even those that govern death. So, does this mean you already have a backup? Is it… Sin… you didn’t.” Six cocked her head again, frowning.

    “Is there anything you do that does not have far reaching consequences and plans?” Six asked. It was painful, being able to be where she was and yet not see as far as he could. It drove her, it drove them all insane. Yet, it made her love him all the more.

    “I couldn’t save him, but I can recycle him. It’s the best I can do. Sorry death tender.” Sinclair turned back to the beaked creature. “This is a sort of jailbreak. I suppose I’ll never deserve to go to that place.”

    Sinclair smiled and stepped forward. Six reached for Ozy, and everything folded, and shifted. Reality itself, whatever this was, seemed to groan in opposition, but tendrils of something grim coiled around them and tugged them through the boundaries. Not dimensions, but places beyond the limits.

    When Ozy awoke, she would be sitting upon the throne of the Cradle. A massive sphere that rippled like liquid, full of secrets and gates. Born in the place where a Pleiade had broken the rules to begin with. Created when a sinner defied the rules. Six stood before her.

    “Your body is new, in prime condition, and thanks to us being what we are.” It appeared all the sisters surrounded Ozy. “We are quite adept at putting ALL the pieces back together. You are as you were. Sinner, he is... frustrating. I suppose you’re curious what is happening. Allow us to explain if you wish.”
     
    #12 The Mood is Write, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  13. You Disappeared and Left Me

    Spoiler
    Ozy's plans to sneak out the window while Sin was reincarnated shattered as he began to object. Events moved quickly. Sin smiled. He apologized. The beaked and tall being tried to shield her, but Bio shoved it away.

    "They've been reincarnated by now, you idiot!" the creature shouted, more annoyed than in true anger, and then Six touched Ozy.

    Ozy groaned on the throne, then looked around at the sisters before she reached up to rub at the bridge of her nose. Her pince-nez rested there, perfectly repaired. Frustration tightened her throat.

    She forced a deep breath.

    "Tell me."

    Rare shook Kina by the front of the shirt and repeated herself. "Tell me what happened!"

    The Chinese Hunter gaped at Rare for several moments. "I just said! We marched on the Sinner, and killed him! Unifiers, Hunters, BC Corp, even Hoppers and a constellation!"

    Rare slowly lowered the shorter Hunter back onto her feet. "And... Brock? Lady Jade? Kyoko? Faida?"

    "All fine," Kina assured as she stepped back and pulled Rare's hands away. She waved her hands, trying to placate the taller Huntress. "All fine. Sad, but healthy. Everyone has missed you."

    Rare shivered as her hands fell to her side. "Still no news on those three hoppers I asked you about...?"

    "Ah?" Kina tilted her head, then gasped. "Ah! Light light light, detectives and kitty? Nothing. I assume no news is good news, yes?"

    No news was not good news. Rare had enough of 'no news' for several lifetimes. "No. It's not. Step up the search, but don't you or whoever you have helping approach them before I do." Rare paused. "Sorry. I... I'm... Sin's really...?"

    Kina nodded.

    Rare swallowed, then nodded slowly. Internally, she screamed, but externally, her face remained quiet. "I... I see. I will... report to Lady Jade last. I need to head in to the infirmary. Will you please ask Kyoko, Faida, and Brock to come? I... really want to see them. I missed them..."

    "Ah~" Kina smiled. "It might cheer you that one of them is already there. Congratulations."

    Rare squinted, then ran. As she passed other Hunters, they turned to watch her go.

    "Was that Rare?"

    "Naw, couldn't be. Rare wouldn't be caught dead in those torn-up jeans."

    "Sure smells like her."

    Curious Hunters began to jog after her, and Kina laughed, then looked toward the abandoned family Rare brought with her. "Just follow the muttering Hunters if you wish to find the infirmary, or Ober will remember the way, or smell his way. Vargo probably can find it, too. Hello Vargo."

    Kina acted nothing like Vargo remembered—barely fluent in English, acting slow and stupid as Bear, and never once indicating she liked anything but physical activity, Rare introduced her as the second in command to the intelligence branch of the Hunters—a branch that never existed when Vargo had been present.

    The Chinese Hunter patted Vargo's arm with a quiet hum. "I am off to do her bidding. Have fun!"

    With that, Kina trotted off toward where the hall of offices had been when Vargo was there—the very hall where Crow had the Pink Room, and yet none of the Hunters walking through the hall appeared scared. None cowered. As Rare had said, the Council was no more.

    From the direction Rare ran, the demon's shriek of joy echoed through the halls.

    "I'm a grandma!"


    (Finale.)
     
    #13 The Mood is Write, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  14. Queen of Queens

    Spoiler
    "So, lahk Ah was sayin, we were preparin' to do a test run on a new part we made fer our engine. Bein' stuck in a backwater world, and us without our tools, the hard part was pullin' enough useful stuff outta the ground fer our needs, but the rest was all hard parts, too, cuz we also had ta refine it inta somethin' useful, and that meant more heat'n we had. Felt like th'stone age, Ah tell ya!"

    The brunette shook her head, then paused as she saw the story was lost on the youngsters gathered around the fire with her. A quick glance around revealed that they themselves were only barely in the age of iron. Probably had no idea what she was going on about.

    She had to make this exciting, or she'd not get that offered meal.

    A slow squint as she looked around drew the kids back in.

    "Th'stone age, it's a time when monsters were bigger'n meaner, and there wasn't any iron or brass ta use 'gainst 'em. Just imagine, monsters bigger'n the tallest trees, roamin' around..."

    She veered drastically from fact now, and her story went from testing a new engine to being ambushed by great predators, fifteen feet tall, "And those was the babies!" she stage-whispered.

    The children leaned in, eyes wide. She could see their imaginations hard at work. Good.

    She acted out fight scenes for them, and then, as they were holding her breath as a monster's mouth shot towards Sin, she knew she had them. In the story, she was bleeding from when claws sliced open her back.

    Time for the final delivery.

    "Ah found th'strength to rise. I ran at the monster and pulled out mah gun!"

    "Oh no, it's broken!" one of the kids gasped.

    She'd made a point of trying to shoot the gun several times before in the story, but it never worked.

    Time for the delivery.

    "Ah pulled the trigger...!"

    The kids whimpered, convinced that if a miracle didn't happen, the woman currently telling the story would die, as would her friend.

    She let the silence drag for just a moment.

    "Nothin' happened!"

    "Nooo!" One of the children wailed.

    "The monster, it got closer an' closer to Sin, and Ah called his name. Mah gun was th'only weapon we had left. He looked at me, an' lightnin' burst from his fingers and into mah gun!"

    Gasps from all around, even a nearby adult.

    "Ah pulled the trigger again!"

    Any more tension, and she was sure one of the kids would pop a hernia. She had herself pretty breathless from this, too as she stood, fingers shaped like a gun as she struck a cool pose, aiming at an imaginary monster with both hands.

    "Zap!" She jerked her arms back, as though the imaginary gun had terrible recoil. A spin, and the woman collapsed.

    "Did you hit her!?" The kids surged forward, and as she sat back up slowly and silently, she kept her face hidden behind her bangs. This was proving way too fun!

    She lifted her head with a ferocious grin. "I hit 'er! Right in the eye, an' she ran away!" She kept her voice low so they had to strain to hear.

    Their cheers and celebration were deafening, and she let herself laugh as she slowly pushed herself up onto her feet while the children played finger guns with each other and argued over who got to be Sin, who got to be the woman, and who had to be the monsters.

    The old man who invited her to the jail's fire with the promise of a meal for a story walked to her and thumped her on the back. "Not bad. Go fill your bowl," he urged as he shoved a wooden dish into her hands.

    "Thank ya," she grinned.

    He watched her, then chuckled. "What was your name, again?"

    "Huh?" She paused mid-step toward the stew pot and barely caught herself. "Oh. It's Ozymandias. Y'can call me Ozy."

    "What ever did happen to your friend in that story?"

    A heavy sigh. "He's off visitin' his beau 'gain or somethin'." She waved a hand, trying to dismiss the subject.

    "I see." He raised an eyebrow, but Ozy turned away and continued her path to the stew pot. That story worked up her appetite something fierce!


    [​IMG]
     
  15. "Ozymandias. No 'Miss', no last name."

    Spoiler
    "Alright then, Miss... Ozy, was it?"

    "Ozymandias. No 'Miss', no last name." The lone woman in the pale green room spoke with an American accent somewhere from the south-eastern side of the country, though it was so warped her exact home state couldn't be determined. "But Ozy's fine, if the whole's too much for ya."

    "I see," the masculine and gentle voice of the interviewer came from a projection that sat on the floor in front of her. Within that projection, a little camera was concealed. He had to see her face for this assessment, but his superiors believed 'Ozy' too dangerous to approach physically. "My name is Yathiilmu Grey. Grey is my title because I act as a neutral guardian who keeps the peace between other sects. You may call me Yath. By your culture's standards, the suffix -iilmu is my family name."

    Ozy smiled. "Yathiilmu Grey. Nice ta meetcha. I'll take yer offer to call ya Yath."

    She seemed so calm and accepting. Frankly, he couldn't imagine her being the same person his superiors claimed tried to kill the White's HOLIEST OF HOLIES. Still, they wouldn't put her in for study if she'd done nothing.

    "Well, Ozy, this is an assessment of your mental state. Do you consent to a verbal interview? Actions and conversation will both be recorded for later review, but patient confidentiality laws in our culture ensure that only the one who conducts the interview may listen to or watch the recordings, unless you must be tried for criminal acts. You may answer however you wish."

    "Ah was wondrin' what this was about. Sure, ya've got my consent." Her smile didn't fade. The expression reminded him of his mother, when he'd been a child going on about doing impossible things. Tolerant. Amused. There was a feeling she believed herself safe from any repercussions.

    "Thank you. Shall I begin, or would you prefer a moment to explore the room?"

    "Ah kin see it fine. No use borin' ourselves."

    Yath jotted her response into his handheld computer in the viewing room, and the projection did the same. He nodded.

    "Very well. I'll proceed. Where are you from, Ozy?"

    "An Earth. 1989, Florida. Not sure quite where in there Ah was born, but it was somethin' like a milit'ry base mah father ran."

    "Your parents?"

    "Just a father. Didn' know mah mother. Father was good... to a point. Point was mah third birthday. Started hittin' me. Didn't stop fer the day 'less I created somethin' good. One'a mah inventions, when Ah was six, she took me'n ran 'way from there. He'd find me sometimes an' beat me near-dead, then steal 'er for a few weeks—"

    "Ah... Sorry to interrupt, but he started hitting you? When you were three? Why?"

    "Ah guess Ah wasn't doin' as good as 'e wanted me too. Ah still ain't figgured it out." Her smile faded, slow at first, and then it was gone.

    That was enough asking about her father, though he wanted to know why a grown man would possibly think it was alright to act in such a way, and then to follow her once someone took her from him, and instead of taking his daughter back, he took the daughter's kidnapper. Yath pursed his lips, then sighed and decided to drop it for now. A glance to the side showed heightened stress in his patient. This was meant to be a relaxed first session.

    "We can talk more about that at another time." Something else niggled at his mind. "You say an invention of yours stole you away? She, you said. Was she a protective being?"

    The smile came back, though hurt remained in her eyes. He felt sure he'd made the right choice in subject.

    "Morticea. Morty fer short. She was... not mah first invention, but Ah made 'er before mah fourth birthday. She... She was real good. Faithful. Protective. She raised me best she could after she took me. Kept me from keelin' over, helped me with mah stupid lil plans fer gettin' 'daddy's' love back." She snorted and shook her head. "When Ah formed mah army, she became ma first general, and our roles swapped. Ah began feelin' more like 'er mother, an' she started ta call me 'mom'."

    Yath nodded as he recorded her comments and mannerisms. She spoke in past tense about the invention, but with warmth on the reflections. "She sounds wonderful."

    "She was. She was fulla warmth an' love. Ate frozen waffles more'n anythin' else, an' loved 90's fashion in Michigan, where we ended up stopped by a winter."

    "Waffles?"

    "They're... kinda grid-lahk breakfast cakes. Ya cover 'em with toppings after they're cooked crisp 'n hot, an' the lil dips catch everythin' ya put on 'em. Morty liked 'em frozen an' bare."

    "Those sound... pretty tasty, actually." He couldn't help but notice how she switched to present tense. Morticea was either separated from her or deceased. Best to ask more later.

    Ozy laughed. "Ah liked 'em better'n pancakes, even though they were pretty much th'same. Pancakes ain't got the grid in 'em, and they're so soft, they git mushy an' lose their struct'ral integrity."

    Yath chuckled. His own home had a similar food that could be cooked in different ways, and though the ingredients and preparation remained the same, the shape they cooked in led to a similar difference. "Perhaps I should introduce you to a similar pair of lunch foods we have here."

    "Ohh, yer gonna make me hungry." Her grin grew wide.

    Honestly, Yath could see some warning signs in her behavior and reported history that might lead to violence, but she seemed very pleasant. For a moment, he let himself think it couldn't be the same person, but he forced that thought away. He was not to presume innocence or guilt, only to get to know her and report a summary of his findings.

    "Perhaps a meal after the interview, then?"

    Ozy nodded. "Sounds good."

    "I can't promise it will be the lunch I mentioned, but I have tried all of the meals they serve here. They're better than what I can make."

    "Ha! S'long as they ain't mush meals, Ah'll be fine with it. Cain't stand mush."

    "I'll make sure the kitchen staff know, but most of the food has good texture."

    "Thanks." She nodded, then stretched slowly.

    He'd not noticed before because of how she slouched, but...

    Now it was proverbially in his face just how rounded her form was. Large breasts, wide hips, a stomach that was not flat... Color touched his face, and he hoped she wouldn't notice how his eyes lingered on the curves of her torso. Everyone claimed his family had a weakness for humans, and he had to admit it was true. He cleared his throat.

    "Can I ask how you got here from your Earth, Ozy?"

    She paused at the end of her stretch and opened one eye to look at him, or rather, where the camera was in the face of his projection. It was close enough to eye contact to suffice. She let her arms relax, and shifted her posture. "Hm. Well, Ah got ditched, so Ah started travelin' on my own. Created mah own lil shiny that helps me git through ta other places. Ah figure, he'll find me when 'e's ready, or Ah'll find 'im first an' yell 'is ears off fer leavin' me behind."

    Ozy seemed calm. She smiled still. Yath wasn't sure what made her throat tighten up, though.

    "He?"

    She nodded. "He. Name's Sinclair, or Sin, or Sinner. Buncha people hate 'im, but... He's mah first 'n only friend."

    First friend? "What about Morticea?"

    Ozy blinked at him, then laughed. "Morty... When Ah made 'er, Ah was a lil girl. Ah programmed 'er ta love me. It... wa'nt her choice. She jus' couldn't... not love me. Was th'same fer th'others Ah made. Ah made 'em love me, an... they 'ad no choice. Ah told mahself it was just a safety thing, but all four of us knew it was cuz Ah was..." she trailed off, then sighed as she looked away. "Ah was just a weak lil thing."

    Her shoulders began to shake, and Yath could only stare in shock as his patient wept. He wanted to comfort her, but had to remain in the office, safe and away from the unarmed and heartbroken woman.

    "Sorry," she started as she tried to control herself. She wiped at her eyes as her chest trembled with every forced breath. "Sorry. Ah made this... awkward, huh?" A grin as forced as her attempts at calming herself.

    "You're fine," Yath assured. "Would you like me to step away and let you have some space?" The projection would if he did. Sometimes it brought comfort to patients to be allowed the semblance of privacy.

    Her eyebrows furrowed as confusion banished her tears.

    "Wot's movin' yer camera away gonna do?" she asked as she reached forward, and the view screen for his hologram's camera tilted sharply before it righted itself. She not only saw through the hologram, but accurately pinpointed the camera.

    "Is... There should be a hologram projection of me in the room with you, covering the camera. Is it malfunctioning?"

    She looked up and around, then shrugged. "Yer projectors are workin' fine. Ah cain't see light is all."

    Yath slowly lifted a hand to cover his mouth. Blind? The camera should have been silent, and her eyes definitely reacted to light normally. All prior scans led to no proof of blindness...

    "If you can't see light, how do you know the projectors...?"

    "Ah see 'em. They're hidden in the walls an' ceilin. Clever, too. They aim the light just right, so it bounces on the photons from each other. S'why there's no need fer smoke or fog in 'ere, yeah?"

    He wasn't an engineer to know how they worked, but it sounded like what he read in an article when the technology was first invented.

    He didn't want to know the answer, but...

    "Which direction am I, in relation to you?"

    She pointed.

    A quick scan of the cameras and the fire escape plan confirmed she had the right direction.

    He slipped into his native tongue.

    "All these walls and armoring, and I feel as safe as a newborn Holiest in the wrong chapel..."

    Ozy clicked her tongue, and his head jerked to look toward the viewer.

    "Yer just like everyone else. Scared of me."

    "We'll continue another time, Ozymandias."

    "Yeah, yeah." She waved absently as he began the exit procedure, then fled the room. He could swear he felt her eyes following him as he walked quickly.

    He needed away. Now.
     
  16. "Hold this for me. Just in case."

    Spoiler
    "Vargo," Elizabeth called as she walked into Rare's room. The demon was out for now, tending to a mission of Crow's. Could Vargo feel her emotions? That universe moved much more quickly than this one. It was hard to say. Either way, this was her best chance to ask a favor of him—one that would be small to him, but huge from her perspective.

    She closed the door behind herself and looked toward the big, brute-looking golem. She knew the truth—he was sweet as candy. Honestly, she was rather fond of him, like he was a puppy.

    She drew in closer to him. "I need to ask a favor of you," she said simply once she had his attention.

    From within her robes, she drew out a slender knife . Tigerseye decorated the pommel, and the black-crusted blade held the bluish sheen of the silver-and-mithril alloy used in Hunter daggers. She showed it to him, then wrapped it in a thick, ivory-colored cloth so he could see, and tied it shut. She offered him the bundle.

    "Something is happening lately. I don't know what it is. If I die, and if Rare ever needs my help, you give this to her. Tell her to anoint it with the red vial on my top shelf in my bedroom, and to call my name—Elizabeth Leauge. It won't work if I'm alive, and it'll just waste both vial and dagger."

    "Can you remember all that? There's a copy of the instructions inside the pommel. Just, when you're handling it, try not to clean off the black stuff on the blade."

    She couldn't bring this to Rare directly. It had to be Vargo, who was most likely to remain with her in the long run. The second choice was Brock, but Brock didn't even know that Elizabeth was Rare's ally. He was just some muscle-headed Hunter, without enough brains to do anything but kill monsters and cower before the Council.

    "I'm trusting you on this, Vargo."

    She watched him for several moments, then sighed and hugged him briefly. "She'll be fine. I'm doing my best to make sure of it. Crow will be taking one of his trips here soon, and Rare will be free of him for a few years. I arranged it so two years there will be ten here. It's not a lot, but..." The cat winked at Vargo. "I think a decade without him breathing down her neck will do her good."

    Kyo, too. And Elizabeth's own plans could go through unhitched, but that felt less important in her mind than Rare getting a well-deserved break. Maybe Poppy's joking comment last month about her going soft in her old age was right...
     
  17. In answer to VeilofRain's "I will go on."
    Spoiler
    He looked at her with that same stony gaze, with the same greys in those dark locks. The same thin face, and impossible to decipher depth to the way he looked at you. It was strange to think of who he was, not that it was possible at this point. He could see it in her eyes. All of it had come back to her. Every little secret, every breath he had taken. How so long ago everything had changed because of him. So much loss, with so much gain. Her pupil pulsed like a subwoofer on full blast. Of course she was stunned, that was to be expected. One did not receive that much information and memories and simply move on. If anything, her psyche would implode from the revelations. That was the beauty of ignorance, of having the option to keep it all taken away. She was forced to lose it all once, but this close, standing at the edge of the boundary, it might just be the only thing that would save them. That would save everyone.

    Everything stopped, not just her breath, but her molecules and atoms. For a moment he felt as if she had faded from everything, but he could still see her. As suddenly as it had gone, it was back, she was back. Her eyes were on him, but they were solid, as solid as she was. He could read understanding, recognition, and curiosity. He imagined she thought how such a being could exist in the form of scraggly old man. Maybe she hated him for what he had done. He couldn’t help it that one side of his lips rose up and for once the tired smile touched his eyes. They wrinkled the flesh, and where a smile made most look younger, it added age to the weathered being. She now understood, if he wanted, he could less than blink and they would all be gone. Everyone, everything, not in this universe, but all of them. It would cease to expand, to create more. He could literally stop everything. Even Felicie. Even the Cradle.

    ”I figured, with all that knowledge, you would be the best for this, Rare.” Sinclair riffled through his pocket and withdrew a single long spike. It glistened, completely white, yet a strange black outline coated it, as if it drew from the very existence immediately around it. Normally, he knew she would be curious, but one look and he knew her mind would access what it was, how it was made, what it could do, and just how to do it. He admired those deep brown eyes. He hoped, somehow, he could have an afterlife of his own just to remember them. His kin, they went to a place he did not, he assumed anyway. Even if he had sworn they reached out to him, he had never confirmed it. Besides, the thing he gave her, it was an absolute certainty. There was no returning. If there was an after, it would have to go on endless.

    If she wanted everything else to continue to be endless, then she would have to find the strength to do what needed to be done. Jade was right to want him gone. Ozymandias, that strange girl, should have figured it out and done it herself.

    Before he knew it, a force slammed into him. Arms locked tight around him, and he felt nails digging in despite his coat. Something warm soaked into his shirt as a warmth washed over him. For the first time, he was surprised. Truly surprised. His eyes wide, were locked on the dark head of the woman. Taller than when she had been a girl. Neck free of that damnable thing again. He didn’t know what to do, she just squeezed him tighter. He didn’t want to do it himself, it was too terrifying a thought. He’d left too many things undone, there was no way he had that kind of strength.

    Still, instinct, a rare desire caused his arms to wrap around her as well. His smile was gone, but his embrace was tender. She began to shake, trembling. Was it the reality of what had to happen? Maybe he was being selfish asking her to do this. It was too many minutes for them, years for others in this place, before he finally tried to free himself. With a gentle grip on her shoulders he tried to push her off but she wouldn’t. Her head shook viciously, though she more just smeared her tears into his shirt as her nose ground against his chest.

    ”Rare.” He said. It was so soft, barely a whisper that she had to look up to confirm he’d said anything. ”I love you. More than anything inside of everything. It is the most unfair thing I have ever done. Yet, it is without my volition. Therefore, it is selfish of me to ask this of you, but for that same reason, no one is better suited.”

    Sinclair leaned down, and to his pleasant surprise she eagerly reciprocated. Pushing onto her toes, their teeth clacked together, but that didn’t stop the fervent kiss. The first time their lips would embrace in this place. The last time they ever would again. There was a rush of desire which pooled into heat between their legs. Emotion, which surged from the heart like an overcharged battery ready to summon lightning from the heavens. A flaring of the soul, as if a wildfire erupted through every single universe. As their kiss went on, her tears became an ocean, and his whiskers made the land. Their breath created oxygen. When their kiss ended, a little sun watched over their creation. The little galaxy, forged from just a kiss, a sign of the truth of his being, of what she knew.

    ”When it’s done, all the unnecessary things will leave your mind. Only to be summoned…” Her fingers touched his lips. He did have a knack for talking too much. So instead he kissed the digit. She nodded and smiled, then stepped back, taking the brand he had forged for his own end. Slowly, she raised it, and pushed it to the soft spot just above his clavicle, aiming down into his torso. Their eyes met for what felt an eternity as she took one slow breath, and he took what she feared would truly be his last.


    I will wait for you.

    Spoiler
    Their kiss was too short. All they'd been through, and he wanted her to kill him.

    He began to babble. He always babbled, except those horrible times when he said nothing when he needed to say something. Her hushing finger took another kiss from the strange and beautiful man who stole the title of her first love.

    That tiny gesture reassured her, and she stepped back with a smile. She raised it and pressed it to his flesh, and her other hand slipped up into his hair as she let herself feel it.

    Brown and grey eyes met, and as she took a deep, slow breath to calm herself, he did the same in preparation for what was coming.

    "I love you."

    It was the first time she spoke those three words aloud.

    A slower, shakier breath, and another. Her eyes adopted that determined expression he knew by now meant failure was not an option in her mind.

    "When you're back, we'll finally have that magic lesson."

    Before he could correct her, before he could object, before he could say anything that would make her falter, the spike drove into him. The side of her fist shattered his collarbone with the force of her thrust, and she shuddered as though it was her pierced instead of him.

    "Don't correct me," she begged quietly as her legs wobbled. "Don't—"

    Her throat tightened painfully. The tears wouldn't stop.

    "My Sin... My Sin..."
     
  18. Departure
    Possible spoilers for @Patch-Work

    Spoiler

    "Ash." Rare's voice came from nearby.

    "Black Fish." It was closer now.

    "Argus."

    Never before had the three met, but all knew Rare's voice as it cut through the quiet night as they waited outside of her city.

    "I've gathered you three for a reason. It's time for me to leave. If you'll consent... I'd like to take the three of you with me."

    She stepped into the sunlight and pushed back her hood, looking so different than before, but in some ways, completely the same. She still wore a grey dress that hugged her subtle waist. The coat of a Hunter, she carried over one arm. Her horns, which Argus wasn't familiar with, stood out against long, ink-black hair, and pale brown eyes regarded each of the trio.

    Different were the red and orange patches of skin across her face and arms. Her ears, pointed now, and also her teeth. A soft glow of red emerged from her eyes.

    "I need to go home. Please, come with me. I..."

    The solid and strong mask cracked, and her lower lip trembled. "This world is killing me, but... I..." Her eyes took in each of the three. "I'm so greedy, I want to take you with me. All three of you."

    She forced a deep breath to recollect herself. "I'm sorry I have to appear so... ugly before you. I don't understand why this is happening, but it hurts. I need to go home. Doctor Alsoome, he'll know what to do—"

    Kina emerged at a run from the city. "Rare!" An ugly scar across half her face offered Argus a reminder of how far she was willing to go for her sister. "Rare, what are you doing out here, the sun—" She looked at the three. "Argus! Help me drag her back into the shade before she worsens her condition!" Of the three, she knew only him.

    Kina grabbed at Rare's elbow, and Rare jerked it free.

    "No, Kina! The sun isn't the problem!"

    "Rare!" Kina reached for her again.

    "Don't touch me!"

    Kina stopped, staring at her for several moments before she looked at the gathered three, her gaze begging for help.
     
    • You Get a Cookie You Get a Cookie x 1
  19. Calling Home
    Spoilers to anyone playing with Elizabeth and Poppy.

    Spoiler
    One more time. One more time.

    Poppy pulled up the contact details for her mother and pressed the green 'phone' icon on the screen. Moments passed as her device sought signal.

    Her breath caught in her throat as she heard it ring. It hadn't done that in decades!

    She almost reached out toward her father to wake him, but stopped short as she heard the sound of someone picking up.

    "Hello?" a masculine voice asked on the other end.

    "H... hello," Poppy managed as she stood and stepped away from the two sleeping men nearby. "This number, how did you get it?"

    "My boss gave me this phone. Can I... uh... help you?"

    "Do you know an Elizabeth Leauge?" Her stomach felt like it weighed twelve tons. She could hear the tremor in her own voice.

    "Doesn't sound familiar, sorry. Was this number hers before? I could ask around."

    "Please... please do? I've been trying to call for... a long time..."

    "Alright. Stay on the line, ok?"

    "Mhm." Poppy felt like a little girl as she fidgeted by the cave entrance, phone held to her ear.

    "Your voice doesn't sound familiar. What's your name? Figure I should ask, while I'm on my way to the boss's office."

    She had to admit, she was a little thankful for the play-by-play. "Pearl," she introduced. Never give your real name to a stranger. Her mom insisted on it.

    "Pearl..." The person trailed off. "Pretty name. I'm Kheerokhe. I'm a doctor under Alsoome—you know of him, right? You must, if you have access to a phone that can call this number."

    "Ah—Yes! I know him!" This had to be a Hunter! "You're a Hunter?"

    "Oh, yes, technically. I do best at mending hurts, so—"

    "Your boss, he'll know what happened to Elizabeth Leauge?" She almost called her 'my mum' before she remembered it was supposed to be a secret.

    "I was going to ask our higher boss, but I could ask him instead, miss."

    "Higher boss?" Singular. What did that mean?

    "Oh, you didn't know?"

    "Know... what?" Her voice shook.

    "The Shadow Stalkers turned on the Council. The Multiverse had to step in to keep order."

    "Turned... on...?"

    "Miss, are you alright? Most Hunters consider it great news..."

    Poppy's phone fell from icy fingertips. "M... Mum...?" Her voice broke, and she walked away from cave and phone, as the person on the other end tried in vain to get her attention, voice filled with confusion.

    "Miss Pearl? Miss Pearl! Are you alright? I... hold tight! I'll get my boss, we'll come find you! Stay on the line! Miss Pearl?"[spoilerbb][/spoilerbb]
     
  20. Strange Company
    Featuring: Ash ( @Patch-Work ) and Poppy
    Non-spoiler... Ish?

    Spoiler
    This world was a strange one. After meeting Rare, everything had been strange, though.

    Now, in the present, he was bound by strong leather straps to a bed that, while not comfortable, wasn't unbearable. He could move, too—sit, stand if he arched his back and kept his feet on the floor, lay down. What he lacked was a bathroom, and in the two days since his arrival in this strange, dim cell, the man who had him arrested apparently neglected to ensure he was fed and given water.

    In the dry room, sweat evaporated quickly.

    Worse, someone kept opening the door. Whoever did it blinded him temporarily with the brightness each time, until finally, the door swung wide.. From the brightness outside, a slender shadow appeared, and then closed the door until only a crack remained open to light the inside.

    Ash's eyes had a chance to adjust, then, and a girl stared at him from near the door—very clearly a girl, from her wide hips, narrow waist, and a large bust that sought to exit her low, low neckline. A halo of short, pale hair lit from behind seemed to glow. She carried herself in a strange manner, eyes focused on him as she took a small step closer to him, walking on her toes as her feet seemed to try to contact the ground as little as possible.

    She stopped just short of his range of movement, and slowly tilted her head. "Your name is... what?" Her voice, high and quiet, seemed loud in the silent and dim room.

    She returned nightly, until his voice gave out from dehydration.

    "Ash. Wait," she ordered, then walked out of the room. She left the door cracked, and in the dim light, the room seemed all the more confining. Time moved slowly, and when she finally returned, it was with a large bowl held in both hands.

    She walked closer, then stopped just short as he reached toward the bowl of water.

    "No."

    His hand stopped. He couldn't reach anyway, except maybe with one toe. He slid down on the bed, watching her as she held the water just out of reach. He could smell it, and it might have been a trick of his eyes, but it seemed he could see it evaporating before him.

    "Please," he started, but she hugged the large bowl tighter.

    "Don't... touch."

    Ash sighed, and he leaned on his arms as he stared at the water she held.

    A moment passed, and she stepped forward again. She climbed something just out of his sight—stairs, by her movement, and stopped with her feet near him. This close, he could see clearly that she was tiny. The width of one of his fingers was

    "Don't touch," she reminded as she slowly moved the bowl forward, toward his lips.

    His mouth opened, and she carefully held the bowl for him as he drank, until he could feel his belly swelling from the water. It felt icy traveling down into his core, and tasted sweeter than anything he'd tasted in his life.

    When he stopped swallowing, she withdrew the bowl from his lips and set it down beside him, then sat at his side, legs under herself as she watched him.

    "Thank you."

    In the dim light, he could see a faint lift to her eyebrows and a tiny quirk at the corners of her lips—the most subtle smile.

    Her following visits included water for him. He wasn't to touch her or the bowl, or she didn't come the next day. Even the lightest brush was enough to scare her away. Still, she kept coming, and though conversations with her were simple and without depth, she seemed to enjoy his company.

    Three weeks passed, and she stepped into the cell one night without the bowl. Though she lacked it, she still approached him with those tiny steps of hers, and as she came to stand by him, she reached slowly for him, until her fingers rested just below the base of his neck. "Don't touch," she reminded as she rested the other hand against him, then leaned forward, using those gentle hands to support herself as she held her face open over his, though with her head held back.

    "Open mouth."

    Ash did slowly to reveal a black tongue and sharp teeth, and she opened hers as she tilted her head forward. Liquid spilled from between her lips—water. Not enough to satisfy, only enough to tease—only the amount she could carry in her too-tiny mouth and still speak.

    She gave him his daily drinks in this manner, sometimes leaving to get him another before the night's end, but the time of having a large bowl of water was over, and Ash's hunger remained a problem, though his strange 'friend', whose name she never gave, seemed oblivious to his hunger until he began to faint during her visits.

    When he woke, she was atop him, just like when she had water for him. Out of habit, he opened his mouth, and when she opened hers, lukewarm broth dribbled into his mouth. The salty flavor of meat filled his sharp-toothed maw, and his long tongue extended slowly, seeking more.

    She ran out of broth in her mouth, then watched him, waiting. He'd revived quickly with water. Her searching eyes gave away her hope that that much would bring quick improvement.

    His tongue slipped back into his mouth as he realized how he must have looked. "I need more," he whispered, "A lot more."

    A sudden, single nod, and she darted from the room, leaving behind only the echo of her fingertips pressed against his collarbone.

    Her return came with a familiar bowl. The liquid inside filled the room with the scent of meat, and Ash struggled to keep from reaching for it, to let her feed him, willing to bear being fed like a child if it meant he could taste that broth again.

    The bowl met his lips, and he drank greedily, unable to taste it in his rush as vast gulps emptied the bowl quickly.

    As the girl pulled the bowl away, she stared into his face again, searching for improvement.

    "It'll take a few days and more meals like that," he explained quietly, "It takes time for a body to heal when it doesn't get food."

    A slow and single nod, and she took her usual seat beside him, knees just barely close enough, he could feel their warmth.
     
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