Tales from the Circus of Curiosities (Peregrine X WistfulBeast)

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    ”Already you have seen wonders.” The voice seemed to echo around the interior of the old warehouse, emerging from the smoke that seemed to fill every corner of this space. He was sitting among all the other people, eyes drawn to the sides, seeking the source of the voice, but it was movement that finally attracted his vision back to the center of the warehouse, where the bat-winged figure who appeared to introduce every act was slowly emerging from the smoke. The grey tendrils curled around him playfully, forming briefly into the visage of swirling water before transforming suddenly into hundreds of moths and butterflies that fluttered away towards the audience. “Already, many of you are thinking desperately, trying to determine the trick. There is no need to pretend otherwise. I can see it in your eyes. Up until this point, such doubts have not mattered. But now, that changes.”

    In the back of the warehouse, a light suddenly illuminated. For a moment the view hidden there remained opaque due to the curls of smoke, but a moment later it parted, rolling to each side like a curtain. Three people suddenly became visible. If people could even be an appropriate word for them. Perhaps the two on either side could have the label applied to them. One was a large man, with two bull horns emerging from the side of his head. The other, a young woman whose body was entirely grey. Large antlers emerged from the crown of her head, and dark grey cracks seemed to cover her skin. It would take time, and a great deal of effort, but makeup could create these two.

    But between them was a giant creature. It looked like a half man, half large, furry dog. Muscles seemed to ripple under its fur, and its large head snarled. Everyone in the audience, him included, couldn't help but let out a gasp. The dog-man snarled abruptly at the noise, only for the bull-horned man to step forward unexpectedly, waving a contained of scented smoke under the dog-man's nose. His aggression immediately lessened.

    “Now you see.” The ringmaster continued. In the audience, he didn't even dare to breathe too loud, out of fear of what the noise might provoke. “Under the control of the beastmasters, and when surrounded by limited stimulus, he is calm. Under the guidance of the beastmasters, he can be brought among you. Gently, you may feel his fur. But at this point, all your doubts must be smothered. The risk is real.”

    As the ringmaster spoke, beast and beastmasters slowly moved towards the audience. Those brave enough reached out hesitant fingers, running it through the smooth, brown fur of the man-dog. Fear and wonder kept them contained, kept them from acting out. But it would not last long.

    Towards the front of the crowd, sitting on the edge of an aisle, a lanky young Korean man only stared at the man-dog with disdain. He even muttered something, which earned him an angry glare from the person sitting next to him. It didn't seem to matter to the young man. Indeed, when the man-dog was brought in front of him again, his hand snaked out like lightning, latching on to the tail of the man-dog. He gave a sharp, abrupt pull.

    The beastmasters didn't have time to react before the man-dog swung around, his massive jaws lunging for the neck of the young man. He didn't even have time to let out a scream before they closed around his throat. But, rather than blood suddenly flying everywhere, something even more impossible began to happen. A convulsing shudder shook the form of the Korean, and purple scales suddenly began to erupt from his body. His scream suddenly changed into a deep-throated roar, like the bellow of a dragon from a horror movie.

    Buried in the middle of the audience, he stayed calm even as those around him burst into terrified screams. He had seen this before. He knew what was supposed to happen. The beastmasters would move forward with speed and confidence, using horns and bursts of fire to subdue both the man-dog, and the newly appeared monstrous lizard. Several of the other circus workers would move forward to calm the panicking audience, and the ringmaster would emerge once more, giving a potion to the quieted lizard that would cause his scales to slowly shed and dissolve, returning him to the pale-faced Korean man. He would be escorted out of the audience, and the rest of the circus goers would be left in a state of utter bewilderment and uncertainty, having witnessed something none of them would have ever believed was possible. He knew that was what was supposed to happen. He knew it.

    But it didn’t. The two monsters screamed their pleasure towards the ceiling before lunging forward unrestrained into the audience, attacking anyone who got in their way. Everyone who was bit suddenly bent double, shaking violently before hair, fur, feathers, or scales would suddenly erupt from their body, and they too would turn against the people near them. The disease spread like wildfire through the crowd, and he could only stare gape jawed at the beastmasters, who stood there, leering and laughing at him. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. This wasn't. This wasn't!

    Noah awoke abruptly with a gasp, and it took him several moments of wide-eyed panic to realize he was in his room, and not in that old, torn down warehouse. Normally his dreams, however dark, would not haunt him upon awakening, but this one had been worse because it had not only been a dream. It had also been a memory. And how could a memory like that, a memory of a person being transformed into a giant lizard by the bite of an uncontrolled man-dog, not wend its way into his dreams?

    It had been well over a day since that terrible, amazing moment, and that memory had haunted not only his last two nights of sleep, but his waking moments as well. It seemed that every time he gave himself even a moment's stillness or relaxation, his mind went back to that extraordinary scene. It would not leave his mind.

    The ticket to the Circus of Curiosities had been an unexpected gift from his younger brother Zach. Noah certainly didn't know how the young man had come to possess that ticket, nor what had compelled him to give it to Noah, all he knew was that Zach had showed up on the doorstep of their mother's house for the first time in a couple weeks, brusquely handed him the ticket saying that such things “just weren't his style”, and then vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

    Noah hadn't objected. Zach might have always been grounded in practicality and reasonability, but Noah had a bent for all things out of the ordinary. Even the few words on the ticket of “wonders beyond compare”, however cliché they might have been, had been more than enough to stir his imagination. He had determined to go, to witness what wonders this thing would be able to display. But now it seemed that dusty old warehouse had not only captured his imagination, it had stolen his soul.

    Noah sat up slowly, kicking off his sweat-dampened blankets with a few abrupt jerks, before flopping limply back down onto his pillow. The sky outside was still pitch dark except for a speckling of stars, and a trace of frozen winter air slipped in through the hole in his window and caused him to shiver unconsciously. Resigning himself to the fact that he wasn't going to be getting any more sleep tonight, Noah rolled himself out of bed and got dressed without turning on the light.

    His mother was in her room, haphazardly sprawled across the bed, clothes still on and a mostly empty bottle of rye whiskey occasionally dripping onto her chest in time with a particularly loud snore. Noah carefully set the bottle on the side table, before rolling his mother more fully onto the bed and pulling up the blankets. Under the covers, with her face finally relaxed, Tamara almost looked normal again. Looked like the photos Noah had seen of her before the accident that had left her physically crippled and heartbroken.

    Looking at his mother, Noah couldn't help but shake his head in frustration. His older brother Ben had been gone for a long time now, and Zach was only ever home when he couldn't find the parents of some friend or another to take care of him. Somehow, Noah had ended up taking care of Tammy, and it was the last thing he had wanted. He had persisted through it for the last nine years out of some notion that he owed her because she brought him into the world, only to watch her fall further and further into a state of disrepair. In a burst of frustration, Noah grabbed the bottle of alcohol, before dumping its contents over his mother's sleeping figure, before turning and storming out of the house and into the dark night.

    Noah ended up, like he always did when the world became too much to bear, on the lakeshore. He buried his feet in the cold sand as he sat down, before pulling his knees up to his chest and closing his eyes. The rhythm of the water lapping against the shore slowly soothed the frustration in his heart, and as he calmed down his thoughts returned to his obsession: the circus performance.

    For a long time he simply sat there, replaying the beastmaster act over and over in his head. Noah had long since given up trying to understand it, and a part of him had even accepted that somehow, remarkably, it had not been some sort of stage trick or optical illusion. That perfectly normal man had really become a lizard, just like those two girls had really grown wings, that mime had really stood on thin air, and that man had truly been punctured with knives and come out completely unharmed.

    It had shattered everything Noah had believed about the world, about what was possible and what only existed in the realm of his imagination, and now he was left floundering, uncertain of whether he wanted to bury his head in his hands until he just forgot the whole affair, or scream his unrestrained excitement to the sky, raving about the fact that there was so much more in the universe than he ever would have dreamed.

    He hadn't realized how trapped he had felt. Trapped in a shattered family where he was the parent to his own mother and his own brothers had abandoned him to that unwanted responsibility. Trapped in the knowledge that there was nothing waiting for him in the future but some meaningless job he would hate to the core of his soul, and that he would never accomplish anything that made him feel fulfilled. Most likely he would end up like his mother, left with nothing but bitterness and disillusionment that could only be mildly tempered by the oblivion of alcohol. But, for one night, all of that had changed. For one night, during the two hours of that performance and in the glow that followed after it, Noah had felt like a child once more, facing a future filled with unlimited potential.

    But now it was all fading away. Nothing remained but vulgar reality, fading memories, and a desperate longing that Noah couldn't even begin to figure out. Unable to stand sitting still any longer, he stood up abruptly and struck out along the coast, using faint moonlight to avoid the drifts of snow that the waves would not reach.

    He didn't stop moving even once he reached he end of the sandy lakeshore, instead barely hesitating as he vaulted a fence into the vacant rail yard to continue to walk along the water's edge. The ease of his movement showed that this was not the first time that Noah had performed such an action, and he didn't bother to look around for any observers before tucking his hands into his pockets and continuing to walk. At this time of night, no one else would be out here.

    It wasn't until he'd almost doubled the distance that he had walked that Noah realized his solitude was not as absolute as he had supposed. Several bright lights were poking in narrow rays through the shrubbery, to vanish out over the lake. Curious, Noah paused. He had lived here almost his whole life and knew that this rail yard was almost always completely deserted, even in the middle of the day. No one would ever be out here this time of night. No except him.

    And someone else, apparently.

    But it wasn't until he was almost on top of the light that Noah finally comprehended what he was seeing, and the realization brought him to a grinding halt. It was a train, which was unsurprising considering the fact that it was a rail yard, but it was no ordinary train. That was because Noah could see, printed on the side of every box car in a decorative silver and green font, three words that made him think his heart was going to stop. Circus of Curiosities.

    In that moment, Noah forgot about everything. He forgot about the fact that he was trespassing, he forgot about his mother sleeping at home, he forgot that he had to go back to school in a couple weeks, that he had a wrestling match coming up, that he was supposed to go shopping tomorrow for Zach's school supplies. All he could think about was the fact that fate had somehow guided him exactly where he wanted to be. Exactly where he was meant to be.

    The thought of what might happen if he walked into the camp of an illegal circus without welcome didn't concern him in the least. Even if they were to let that dog-man attack him, to turn him into a mindless beast that served the circus, it didn't seem to matter. Right now, any fate that this place could offer him seemed so many times better than the soul-crushing future that awaited him otherwise.

    Heart in his throat, Noah began to creep forward.
  2. Darkness shrouded the land as the sun slumbered, preparing to rise in a few hours. For now, the moon had free reign of the sky, a thin crescent wreathed in twinkling stars. The distant stars blazed on, appearing as mere pinpricks, splattered on a midnight canvas. A chilly winter breeze swept through the trainyard, ruffling the thin black pelt of what appeared to be a bipedal hellhound. Its skeletal canine face, devoid of flesh, was angled upwards to admire the scenery. However, without pupils, it was difficult to read the creature’s dark orb like eyes. Its long, thin tail swayed in liquid motions.

    A beast. However, unlike most creatures classified by fables as ‘beasts,’ this creature maintained very human habits. They even wore clothing to keep out the chill, baggy sweatpants and a matching jacket, both articles as dark as the wearer’s fur. The creature wasn’t raging, not gnashing its teeth blindly at any hint of movement. No foam frothed from its gaping maw. In fact, it didn’t appear aggressive to say the least, shoulders slumped casually. That’s because this creature was more human than one would assume. In fact, without all of that fur and bone growing over its body, you’d see a young woman. The woman, Nova Slade, was one of a slew of supernatural beings that were born with a set of fast-growing cells that altered their appearances and abilities. Hidden in society, they choked down a specialized medicine nicknamed ‘krym’ in order to maintain a more human appearance. Blending in was the only way to avoid persecution.

    So why was Nova forgoing krym? Well, that was because she was at ‘home,’ otherwise known as the Circus of Curiosities. To the public, it was a circus filled to the brim with illusions and feats to inspire awe and fear. In reality, it was a rehabilitation center for supernaturals convicted of crimes, a haven and a prison all wrapped into one. Convicted supernaturals from all over the country were sent to circuses like the one Nova worked for to atone for their crimes away from the prying eyes of society.

    A whole cast of performers and staff fueled the mystery of the Circus. Acrobats, dancers, mimes, sword jugglers, puppet masters, and more. Plenty to put on a spectacular show. Where were these performers now? Given that it was very early in the morning, most were slumbering in their colorful boxcars. Not Nova. She had just quietly exited her own boxcar, chased out by her restlessness. Even now in the fresh air she still felt like she was being suffocated by her nightmares. Perhaps a nice walk would ease her tortured mind.

    As she sauntered alongside the idled train, Nova kept thinking back to her dream. She was back in that
    dirty alleyway. The one with three of her victims, no-assailants,shredded and discarded in a mess of gore. One had suffered multiple dents to his skull, lifeless eyes staring down at his dismembered tongue, jaw jutting out awkwardly with clear signs of dislocation. The rest of his body was in ruins as well, ragged claw marks gauging his guts out in a succession of brutal slashes. Next to him lay a man with his also innards splayed on the pavement, face ripped off and hanging lopsided. Finally, next to him was a man with the least bit of damage, but still enough to inflict serious injury. The first to die. A gaping hole opened in his throat and winked out at Nova, dark lifeblood gurgling out. They deserved it, Nova tried to tell herself, shaking her head in an attempt to dislodge the grisly image.

    She had been too busy looking down at the ground that she nearly ran right into a man that was entering one of the box cars. Nova flinched backward and looked up to see Lucius, an unnaturally handsome man,the circus’ hired psychologist. Supernatural of course, but his visage was much more pleasing than many of the alterations that the other circus members possessed. “Ah, Nova. What brings you outside at this hour?”he asked warmly.

    “Just needed some air is all,”Nova replied, kicking a pebble away with one of her clawed canine feet.

    Concern creased Lucius’ face, but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. “Well, if you ever find yourself needing some counseling, I’d be happy to help,”he offered.

    “I know how your nightmares have been treating you,”he added, making Nova look away uncomfortably, ears angling backwards.

    “I’m fine, really,”Nova said, lifting a clawed hand defensively. “Thanks for offering, though.”

    As she walked away she peered into the boxcar Lucius was entering, seeing a boy with a mess of brown hair, tiny horns, and furry goat legs. Ace. He offered Nova a dirty look and folded his arms, elbows resting on the armrests of a comfortable chair, clearly embarrassed. Dark bags adorned the underside of the boy’s eyes, making it clear that Nova wasn’t the only one with trouble sleeping tonight. Before more could be seen, Lucius slid the boxcar door shut and left Nova to brood alone.

    Stubbornly, Nova was known to refuse help. She’d been doing it for the seven years she’s been at the circus and wasn’t planning on stopping now. It was like her to be independent, to box up her emotions for fear of burdening others with her problems. No one else deserved to visualize that gory scene for the rest of their life. Or to rub in the fact that at the end of the day, all Nova was was a killer.

    Further down the line of cars, there was a tall, thin figure peeking into one of the boxcars. When he heard Nova approaching he turned to look at her, shock in his buggy blue eyes. Strands of yellow yarn framed his blocky face, thin lips pulled tightly. He knew he was doing something he shouldn’t.

    “Rafe! Get out of here! Go back to your car and sleep. You can play stalker in the morning,”Nova chastised the man, who had been peeking at a slumbering woman. She raised her claws threateningly in a sweeping gesture meant to chase the man away.

    The man, Rafe, appeared dejected, caught in the act. He opened his mouth to protest, then promptly closed it and left. Normally Rafe would have argued, stubborn as ever, but he knew that Nova meant business and thought better of arguing. Especially at this hour.

    As if on cue, another man came into view. Towering above any average person, this man was over seven feet tall. A thick beard gave him a lumberjack edge and added to his intimidating effect. Eric was the perfect man for guard duty, responsible for making nobody decided to make a break for it. Attempts had been made in the past, mostly by newcomers. Eric watched as Rafe disappeared into his boxcar before turning his attention to Nova.

    “He giving you any trouble?”

    “Nah, I just had to shoo him this time.”

    “Thanks for doing my job for me,”he joked, voice gruff.

    “No problem,”she answered, bringing two fingers to her forehead and then lifting them in a mock salute.

    “Um, I’m going to take a walk around the property. Is that okay?”she asked.

    “Sure. Be careful out there, it’s pretty chilly.”

    “Will do,”Nova responded as she proceeded. Even on the off-chance he refused, she would have continued anyway. She needed to escape for a while.

    Nova reached the caboose of the train and walked around it, heading towards the further reaches of the trainyard. Snow crunched underneath her paw pads. The chill made her hunch her shoulder up towards her neck. The fur of her silky mane stood on end and she could nearly hear her fangs clicking together. I hate this weather. We never had snow in California, she thought bitterly. She shoved her hands in her sweatshirt pockets.

    Although it was frigid, the solitude of the winter night was soothing. Here in the trainyard away from the circus train, she was truly alone. After spending her day rushing around, orchestrating performances, silence was welcome. Only the moon and the stars above kept her company. Nova was alone for once. Or was she?

    Nova froze in place upon hearing rustling in the brush ahead. Her skeletal head turned side to side, vision roving the scene to detect any more movement. Leathery canine ears stood erect and pivoted around. She heard the rustling again, fainter this time. Like a cat, her tail twitched in agitation.

    “Hey…”she growled a warning. “Show yourself,”she demanded. At her side her fists clenched.

    When no one made an appearance, she marched forwards towards the source of the sound and pried and brush apart. In the snow crouched a stranger. A human trespasser! He looked shocked to say the least, as one would be if they came face to face with a creature with a canine skull for a face.

    Nova leaped backward in surprise before scrambling for purchase in the snow. “You’re not supposed to be here,”she hissed.

    “You’re not supposed to see me,”she added, clutching the sides of her face in horror.

    Then, after a short pause, her confusion turned into aggression and she assumed a defensive stance. “You have to leave,”she demanded.

    That was a horrible idea considering the man had already seen too much. No one except for the circus goers was supposed to see the circus members. “You know what, it’s too late. You’re coming with me.”

    Gale would know what to do.
  3. Normally Noah was quite obedient. This wasn't particularly because he had any desire to please others, but more because he found everything was easier when he simply did as he was expected to do. He did his work jut well enough to get by, and never particularly acted out. It made him easy to get along with; it made him eminently forgettable. Both suited Noah well.

    So, under normal circumstances, he would not have ignored the barking order that was coming at him from the other side of the bush. Even knowing he had been caught trespassing, and that he was likely to get in trouble for it, he was also practical enough to understand resisting wouldn't help, pretending nothing had happened wouldn't make it go away, and he was going to have to take responsibility for what he had chosen to done. Normally he would have closed his eyes, counted to three to give himself a little bit of courage, and then crawled out from among the foliage.

    He simply couldn't.

    At this very moment, Noah was petrified with fear. How could he not be, when his excitedly roving eyes had locked onto something that looked as though it had just crawled out of a crack to hell. Pure white bones in the shape of a dog's skull, covered in scraps of pink flesh and muscle, replaced where a head should have been, Pitch black orbs in the skull seemed to hold him petrified. The weight of it all seemed to come crashing down on him. This was real. Everything he had seen in the circus was real. Right now he was face-to-face with a beast, and who knew what it was going to do to him. Was this it? Was this going to be his end?

    His heart, pounding in his chest faster than he could keep track of, promised him this was so. As it drew closer, all he could do was freeze. Running wouldn't do anything, and how could he fight against such a monster? He had lost the moment he had been noticed, and his paralyzed limbs forced him to wait for his fate, while a hitch in his throat kept him from breathing. Maybe he would faint, and wouldn't notice when the thing devoured him alive.

    What followed might have been comical, like some scene from Beetlejuice, humorous in its horror. If he had been safely separated from it by the screen of his computer. Instead, the seemingly exaggerated motions and constant changes in behavior only served to have Noah's heart beat faster. Even her brief words that he had to leave, that he might be able to get away, didn't cause him any excitement. Somehow, unconsciously or otherwise, he knew it was too good to be true.

    Instead, he was dragged to his feet by one fuzzy, clawed hand, and pushed forward. He took a few stumbling steps and nearly collapsed to the ground again due to the shaking of his legs, before he was finally able to stabilize himself and take a couple steps forward. The back of his neck prickled, and he would have sworn he could feel the thing's hot, panting breath in his hair. He glanced backwards, only to promptly look forward again as soon as their eyes met.

    The act of walking, perhaps simply the fact that he had to focus on something other than the impossible sight before him, gradually slowed Noah's heart, and returned some measure of calmness to his mind. He reminded himself of his own certainty, his own determination, when he had caught sight of the circus trailers through the trees and shrubbery. Where had that resolve gone now that he needed it?

    "W-what are you going to do?" Beyond that initial crack in his voice, he almost sounded confident. He almost sounded disinterested, like he was asking about the fate of some stranger. His own voice seemed to calm him down further. "Are you going to kill me?"
  4. When the human trespasser didn't budge, paralyzed by terror, Nova was forced to reach into the brush and pull him out. She wasn't gentle either. Trespassers were a problem, male trespassers an even bigger issue in Nova's opinion. There had been plenty more instances of young men sneaking onto their property than young women, the idiots more likely to accept petty dares to sneak peeks at the performers after hours. Nova only had contempt for the lot of them. And so the young man was yanked from his hiding spot and shoved forth, left to stagger in the snow, legs as ungraceful as a newborn lamb.

    The man looked back at her, only to snap his head forwards again to avoid looking at the girl's beastly visage. Nova sighed. Humans were all the same. No surprise, as Hollywood was keen to dish out horror flick after horror flick portraying grisly beasts that tore their victims to shreds in a brute display of animal savagery. These beasts shared many of Nova's traits. Sharp teeth. Emotionless eyes. Exposed flesh and bone. Exaggerated claws. All Nova needed was drool dripping from her maw and she could become a movie star for the next big slasher, a tool of fear to excite a crowd of giddy teens and a theater full of gore buffs. They all admired what was on the screen, that was until they came face to face with the real thing.

    For a split second, Nova contemplated tapping into the krym in her jacket pocket and reverting to a more personable form. She thought better of it. The human had already seen what he shouldn't have and was scared enough. If she reverted now, he would have a chance to run while she was adjusting. Besides, the transformation could spook the kid even more and she wasn't about to carry him back to the train if he had fainted. She had to make do with her hellish form for now and grit her teeth when faced with the usual jittery, pleading treatment given.

    Sure enough, the young man was wise enough to ask what would become of him, his voice betraying a hint of his crippling fear. However, this kid was different and she could feel it. While he was scared, he was centering himself, wisening up. This could be dangerous. ON the other hand, he was still asking the same questions as any sniveling child might when faced with a monster. The young man asked, "Are you going to kill me?" If Nova could roll her eyes, she would. She did anyways, but without pupils it didn't look like much.

    "Yep. All of us beasts are going to slaughter you and devour you with our big fangs. We'll barbecue your ribs and enjoy them with sauce. Or just gobble you up raw. I hear young men taste the best,"she grumbled sarcastically, picking up her walking pace to stalk next to the young man, eye to eye with him. Her skeletal face was inches from his, a clawed hand resting on his shoulder.

    Then she snorted and shook her head. "No, we're not going to kill you. I may look like a monster, but that doesn't mean I have to act like one. I'm just gonna take you to the boss to try to settle things." Her hand slid off of his shoulder, claws lingering enough to give a teasing scrape.

    As they marched forwards the train became closer and closer. Nova's apprehension mounted. What would Gale do with this kid? What would he think of Nova for letting a human see her in this form? As they got closer Nova took it upon herself to grab the man by the back of his shirt, a precaution for if he tried to bolt. It's not like he could escape now, considering Nova's running speed was enhanced with her muscle growth and easily trumped that of a normal human, but a chase would make a scene and disturb the performers' sleep. And if Nova learned anything during her many years here, you do not under any circumstances disturb anyone's sleep. Things could get ugly.

    Nova snuck around the back of the train to avoid anyone on guard duty, not wanting to explain to Eric that she had been seen by an outsider. If he found out, he'd hesitate to give her the privilege of a nightly walk. And Nova needed her freedom when it came to coping with her nightmares. She chastised herself for her nocturnal tendencies as she reached the door of Gale's boxcar. Momentum kept her moving and so she didn't hesitate to knock on the door. Two solid knocks, one lighter one, and three fast ones. Nova's token method of entering someone's boxcar so that they always knew it was her.

    Her hand lowered to her side, but her other still firmly held the back of the trespasser's shirt. "Now you behave yourself and all will go well. Step out of line...and well, maybe you will see me act like a beast,"she warned.

    The image of her tearing apart her assailants flashed in her mind. The taste of blood returned to her, the sound of screams almost tangible. She shivered and passed it off as a reaction to the cold weather. Nova didn't want to become that beast again, but no one had to know that.
    #4 Wistful Beast, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2016
  5. (Posts from this point onwards written collaboratively)

    If the monster lingering before him had waited half a second longer, Noah would have almost agreed. The agreement perched on the tip of his tongue, ridiculous and impossible. Okay. Okay you can eat me. Okay that everything was going to end right now. It's better than going back. It's better than forgetting all this.

    Instead, his only response was a shiver, some mixture of relief, a response to the winter breeze that worked its way in through the trees from the half-frozen lake, and some instinctual reaction to the feel of razor sharp claws brushing against his skin, catching on the coarse threads of his jacket.

    As the two marched towards the circus train, the snow crunched under their feet. The young man left big shoe prints in the ground, juxtaposes dramatically by the beastly claw marks Nova left. Although, for a beast Nova walked as you'd expect any human to walk, even more casual, having fluid, loose strides. She noted his shiver and looked at him intently as if to read his mind. What thoughts might be going through his head right now? She could make a few guesses. Did she want to reassure the frightened boy, or tease him? Or just keep things professional. The latter appeared to be a better option and would hopefully smooth things over with Gale. Nova wasn't looking forwards to revealing the fact that she had allowed an outsider to see her without krym. "So, I'll prime you for some of the questions my boss is gonna pop. Why were you out here at this time? Any reason"?"she asked.

    Noah allowed himself to be tugged along behind the beast as it started moving towards the train. The silence stretched on, but it wasn't particularly uncomfortable. Or maybe Noah was just numb. He studied the train, eyes tracing over the curves of the small letters as he drew closer and closer to the car. Somewhere his eyes caught a hint of movement, and he briefly wondered if there were more bestial canines patrolling the property, waiting to catch any passers by.

    He flinched slightly at the unexpected words, before turning to look at the canid again. The questions, however, weren't what he had been expecting. Perhaps he should have been. They were the same questions any cop would ask him if he was caught. He'd had this answer prepared long ago, and reeled it off. "I like to walk the shore sometimes. When I can't sleep. The National Lakeshore ends too quickly, and there's never anyone in the rail yards, so I just hop the fence and keep walking."

    If Nova had any flesh on her face she'd look skeptical. She eyed the boy with scrutiny for a few moments, tufted tail tip twitching in contemplation. If he was telling the truth, he wasn't much different than Nova, who often sought late night walks when she couldn't sleep well. However, who was that keen to hop fences on a midnight walk, especially when there was clearly a train idled? Nova had seen enough humans trying to sneak around the circus for peeks at the performers and had heard a whole slew of excuses, so she was likely to have her doubts.

    "Alright....Just a midnight stroll? Well, didn't you see the big train before you trespassed? Cause if anything, that's a big clue to turn back. Or maybe, you wanted to see the train,"she challenged.

    "Knew the 'freakshow' was in town and wanted to steal a closer look at the wares, huh? I've seen it happen, believe me. Well you got a closer look alright. Here I am in all of my freaky beast glory. Take a goooooood look, pal,"Nova added, gesturing to herself even though most of her fur was covered in clothing. Sweatpants and a baggy jacket were needed even for a furry creature like her in the bitter cold.

    "You are surrounded by trees," Noah replied somewhat bitterly, unconsciously responding to the challenge issued to him. "Five minute walk away from the edge of the yard, with your engines shut down and no flashing lights to advertise your presence. I would have assumed your goal was to avoid detection." His brain caught up with his mouth a moment later and he immediately stopped talking, figuring arguing with the guard wasn't going to make matters much better. All the same, he did begrudge the accusation. He had thought about the circus nonstop since he had seen it, but had absolutely no way of knowing that they had come here by train. The abandoned building was only just close enough to the rail yard to allow the covert transportation of a few goods and the crew itself. Fate had led him here, not any machinations of his own.

    It had slipped Nova's mind that any regular human didn't have senses as acute as Nova did, especially when she was without krym. On a night like this she could see the train well despite the lack of illumination or engine sounds. The shape was clear enough to her in the darkness and even without the engine humming to life, she could hear the stirring of sleeping and waking performers. Even now the circus train had some life to it, at least in her opinion, but the same couldn't be said for the human intruder.

    His reply was a lot more bold than Nova had anticipated, so naturally she was taken aback by his ridicule. The young man had some kick to him. This could be admirable on a personable and casual atmosphere, but this ordeal was neither of those things. It was best if the trespasser was kept fearful and obedient to some degree. Luckily, he seemed to catch himself and promptly ceased talking.

    "Well I forgot you mundanes can't see for shit at night,"she snorted bitterly. Nova was known to dislike any slight aimed towards her and would respond with snark. She dug her clawed fingers into her pockets and walked on. Each step brought her closer and closer to the train. Closer to confronting Gale.

    Noah knew that the longer this went on, the more nervous he should be getting. That was how these things were supposed to work. He was getting closer and closer to the moment of judgement, and who knew what would happen to him then. But walking behind this beast was like walking through a dream. It provided a strange mixture of both security and confidence, and no small measure of wonder. This situation was impossible. Ever since Zach had handed him those tickets, Noah had been drawn deeper and deeper into a situation that common sense said shouldn't exist. And, somehow, he loved it. He loved this quiet promise that there was more to the world than he ever would have guessed.

    They had to walk along the entire length of the train, and Noah peered through the narrow gaps between the trailers, knowing he wasn't going to see anything but still hoping for a glimpse. And the more carriages they passed, the more he felt his heart rate begin to speed up. Not out of fear of what was waiting for him when the beast finally brought him to a halt, but out of fear that his arrival would mean he would have to wake up from this fantastical new reality. The trick would be exposed, the show would be over. He would have to go back.

    As they walked on, Nova couldn't help but mimic the trespasser in the act of peering through the gaps between the trailers. She had different motives of course, but was still scanning for any performers just as the boy was. It was likely that news would get around about Nova finding a stray human on a late night walk and had to deal with the consequences, but that didn't mean she wanted people to see the spectacle for themselves. Specifically, she was looking to catch a glimpse of Eric. She worried that if he saw her out with a human then he wouldn't be as likely to allow her the privilege of a nightly walk, and this was a problem because she needed that privilege to clear her head. Tonight her attempt a finding refuge had gone awry. She grumbled to herself as they neared the front of the train, soon reaching the boxcar owned by the ringleader, Gale.

    Nova walked right up to the door and stopped. A hand darted out quickly and grabbed the back of the young man's neck, not roughly, but enough to hold on firmly. "No funny business, you hear me, kid? You pull shit and you'll have me chasing you down. And trust me, it won't end pretty,"she warned him, trying to look deeply into his eyes. When she had thought she had gotten her point across, she released her grip.

    Her knuckles rapped on the surface of the door. Three times fast, one lighter blow, and then two heavier ones. A simple way of announcing her presence. That way Gale would know it was her. She took a deep breath and waited with apprehension. She told herself not to worry. After all, she had known Gale for many years. Regardless, this was a serious matter.

    Noah could only nod shallowly, not out of a desire to be rude but simply because he literally couldn't move any more than that. Funny business; what did she think he was, a gangster or something? He was just a kid. Scariest thing he had on him was a jacket.

    The door was answered within half a minute of the beast's knock, showing that whoever was in the trailer was awake at this early hour of the morning. A bright light shown on the desk inside a small sphere, and a half-chewed cigarette lay on the corner of the table.

    "Nova?" Noah promptly recognized the man who had opened the door. The large wings behind his back and sharp horns that rose from his brow creating a distinctive silhouette. The Ringmaster. "What's going o..." His eyes landed on Noah a half second later. "Ah. I see. You'd better come in and tell me what happened."

    Nova met Gale's gaze and tried to suppress the feelings of unease that twisted in her gut. Instead of answering his inquiry, she tossed her head in the direction of the young man at her side. An obvious trespasser. Not the first Gale had dealt with, but one of the few that had witnessed a circus members without krym. Since, typically it was Nova's job to take krym and scout the area for any lurking humans. But that happened right after the show, not in the early hours of morning, so she was unprepared for an encounter.

    Right now what Nova thought didn't matter, only acting could remedy the situation. Something had to be done. And swiftly. Nova silently ushered the trespasser into Gale's train car using a shooing motion with her hands. She followed in behind the young man with a hand lightly pressed into his back, closing the door behind her. "Found him in the bushes on the outskirts of the train yard. Says he was just on a nightly stroll, but I have my doubts, you know,"she filled Gale in on what little she had gleaned from questioning the boy. Once the boy was inside and unable to flee, Nova could ease up a bit. She folded her arms and distributed her weight to one hip casually, tail swishing.

    The very first thing Noah noticed was the difference between the Ringmaster's eyes and... Nova's. Under the pressure of the bestial canine's eyes he had felt aggravated. Confronted. The ringmaster's eyes, on the other hand, just made him feel... guilty. Noah knew, whatever anyone else might believe, that he really had come here completely by accident. He had been driven by curiosity to get closer once he realized what these trains signified, but he had not come looking for them. Briefly, his mind flitted back to the scene at the circus. The scene where the ringmaster had promised, amidst a cloud of smoke, that none of this was fantasy. He hadn't believed it then, even if he had been bewitched by what had transpired. Now he knew it was true. Now it began to occur to him to wonder what it meant that it was true. What it might mean for these people. His eyes dropped away, studying his shoes, and his hands clasped nervously together behind his back. "Sorry..."

    "And?" Noah glanced up in surprise. The ringmaster's brow was lifted, but his eyes turned to Nova a moment later, suddenly seeming disinterested in the boy. "Why did [/FONT][/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent]you[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent] find him?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]'What?'Nova thought to herself, bewildered. Gale had disregarded the trespasser in order to question her. She wasn't the one who had intruded on private property and happened across an underground circus. However, she was the one who had led an intruder right to the circus...And who had revealed the location to begin with. If the human wasn't lying and truly couldn't see the train when Nova asked, then he may have been prepared to leave without trouble. Nova was responsible for most of the trouble and she realized it, her tail drooping until it hung motionless. [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Her mouth opened slightly then closed again. When her skeletal maw parted again, she had words. "I was on a night walk when I found him. You know...I do that sometimes,"she replied with as much confidence as she could muster. Nova didn't fear Gale's disapproval because of his position, she feared it because she looked up to him. He was almost like a father figure to her after having been sent to the circus at such a vulnerable age. She didn't want to disappoint. [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Gale knew well why Nova took nightly walks. She knew that he wanted her to seek Lucius' help. She also knew she didn't want it. Overall she was left feeling guilty and vulnerable now under Gale's powerful gaze.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]It was as though he was playing some sort of game. The moment Gale finished with Nova, his eyes turned right back to Noah. Noah quickly turned his eyes away, as though he hadn't been staring at the two. However, after several moments of silence, Noah glanced back over. Gale was staring at him. The moment their eyes met Gale's head bobbed slightly, as though thanking him for finally being gracious enough to make eye contact again. Noah's cheeks flushed red. He felt like a child.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"What did you think of our performance?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah flinched. "What? How... how did you..."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Gale laughed slightly. "The ticket stub is sticking out of your jacket pocket."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]It had been unbeknownst to Nova that the trespasser had seen the show. So now she perked up again, leathery ears standing erect and black fur flaring up on her ankles. The tail that had melted towards the floor with shame now flickered to life again. She spied the ticket stub in question for confirmation. This evidence could come to her defense.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]A few moments ago she had convinced herself that the young man was innocent, not having spied the circus train in the darkness or intending to approach until she had engaged him. But now this idea changed. He had seen the circus. Had a taste of its wonder, must have been curious as to how any of the acts were possible. "So you did know the circus was here. You wanted a peek, didn't you?"she questioned Noah, temper flaring defensively.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Her accusation earlier had fallen flat, but the new detail rekindled her assumptions and suspicion. Her temper had come from the fact that she felt lied to not, not having known the boy knew of the circus. Had seen it all. That and she was desperately trying to save her own hide. If this encounter became a victory in the fact that they deterred another peeping tom then she could potentially be excused for roaming without krym when she shouldn't have.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Gale's eyes moved again; the ball flung back to the other side of the court. Before Noah could even stutter out more than a "N... n" Gale was speaking again. "Nova. If you wanted to interrogate him, you should have done that [/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent]before[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent] you brought him to me." His voice didn't sound angry, or even particularly bothered, but the reprimand was clear.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]The reprimand was like a cuff to the ear, a scolding more deserving of a child. It wasn't out of anger, but the annoyance was evident and that's what made Nova want to shrink away. However, she would stand her ground out of her stubbornness and dedication to get to the bottom of this uncomfortable situation.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"I'm trying to get answers. What do you want to do? Just let him go now so he can tell everyone that the circus freaks are real? I don't know about you, but I'd like to diffuse things before we get the local authorities on our asses."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]If Nova's rebuttal bothered Gale he certainly didn't show it. "What do you want to do?" Unlike Nova's words, which had undoubtedly been an accusation, Gale seemed honestly curious, although the fact that he had repeated Nova's exact words certainly wasn't lost on Noah. Briefly he wondered if he'd been forgotten about, but the moment he shifted slightly Gale's eyes snapped right back to him. Noah's head dipped again, and Gale turned to look at Nova again.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Ummm..."Nova said, tapping her chin thoughtfully with one finger. For a moment the only sound in the trailer was the clicking of her claw. "Well..."she began, letting her hand drop. She shifted her body awkwardly and felt her mouth begin to go dry. What were they to do?[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]'Think, Nova, think,' she thought to herself. She got everyone into this mess, now she was responsible for getting them out of it. For starters, she addressed the trespasser. "I'm going to level with you here, kid. Look me in the eyes and tell me that you didn't come here to spy on the performers. Be honest"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]She looked right into the boy's eyes, reading his body language. This question didn't seem as aggressive as the others she had asked. Nova hoped that she could study the young man's reaction for any traces of lying, such as shifting eyes, fidgeting, and other behaviors. He needed to look the beast straight in the eyes and tell her the truth before they could proceed with how to handle the situation.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]August 26, 2016[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah flinched when Nova suddenly whirled on him, but boldly looked up to meet her skull-like face. "I didn't."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]No clear sign of lying. Just obedience, a simple answer. Nothing unique, but something about the startled boy made her want to believe he was telling the truth. Nova asked another question, "Are you planning on telling the authorities about this place?" Her tone was serious and urgent, but didn't have the edge of accusation it previously had. Nova was taking a different approach.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah's eyes flicked away briefly, landing on Gale. The remarkably unconcerned man seemed to promise that nothing was going to happen to him. "No. Even if..." he bit his tongue properly. It probably wouldn't be particularly advisable to offer a hypothetical about him alerting the authorities, even if it was to say they wouldn't believe him anyways, or that the circus could be long gone before they even got here.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Even if what?"Nova prompted quizzically. She looked questioning even without facial features, head cocked slightly to the side. The boy's first answer was no, but he stopped himself from elaborating, raising a red flag.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Of course she pushed. Noah should have known better. He looked her fully in the face, a slight frown on his lips. "Even if I did, who on earth would believe a teenage boy who said a group of [/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent]illegal circus performers[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent], who I'm not even supposed to go see, by the way, that's illegal too, weren't human?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]It was a fair point. Illegal circuses were forbidden to exist, but also forbidden to witness. The boy would be punished if he forked over the ticket stub. People wouldn't be likely to believe a troubled looking teen, but that didn't mean it was impossible. "Fair point I suppose..." Nova mused aloud, looking over to Gale. Nova had offered what guidance to the situation she could muster and now looked for the next step. What to do with the information the boy had revealed.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah's eyes followed the direction of the canid's gaze, and both of them waited, silently, for the ringmaster to say something. He, however, only cradled his face in the palm of his hand for a moment, before sighing. "You both have succeeded in making this whole thing unnecessarily complicated. But either way," his eyes turned to Noah. "It is time for you to leave."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah felt his heart jerk, and before he could think about the consequences of what he was saying, words were tumbling out of his mouth. "Can't... Can't I stay?" His heart jumped up into his mouth and he nearly choked, but it wasn't sufficient to halt the tidal wave of words. "I don't care. You can even turn me into a beast like that guy at the show but I..." He didn't even know what he was trying to say anymore.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Finally! This whole confusing situation could be finished, the boy would be on his way and Nova would be off the hook for the time being. Or so that's what Nova assumed, but nothing was ever that easy. The trespasser asked to stay. Nova froze, looking to the boy with a comically tilted head, stupefied. Stay? Then the boy proceeded to plead to stay, was totally okay with 'transforming', to which Nova straightened out and released a bark of laughter. It shook her body and she held her stomach. "Kid, we don't turn anyone into beasts. It's just an act. The person in the crowd you saw 'transform' after being bitten was born a beast." Nova added more seriously, "Besides, you're human. You don't belong here." Her arms were folded over her chest.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]An act. Of course it had been an act. Why would it be anything other than an act? He knew that the entire show had just been a performance. Why hadn't he thought that the man in the audience might have been a plant? But, then again, did it really change the fact of what he had seen? "I don't belong anywhere." He swallowed, and his eyes dropped away. What now? Was he just going to walk away? "Let me stay or I'll..." What? They'd already established there was nothing he could do that would be a threat to this place. That was why they were letting him go. Probably. "Come... up... with something heinous?" Noah knew he was blushing, but tried to pretend otherwise.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]So the kid was an outcast. He wanted to escape to another world, enticed by the excitement of the circus, which to him was better than the daily drag. He wouldn't be the first since many had lingered after shows to haggle for a job, oblivious to the fact that this circus was housing supernaturals that could perform acts that humans couldn't. The kid even made the bold move to make a threat, truly desperate. Nova could fume, tell the kid off for making threats and not staying in his place. She could drag him out by his shirt collar, yell in his ears. But she didn't. Instead she sighed deeply. "You don't want this life. You think you do, with all of the glamor and glitz we showed you, but there is so much more. We aren't doing this shit for fun or the good of our hearts. We're stuck here. Human criminals get prison, supernaturals get to jump through hoops,"she explained, glancing to Gale occasionally to avoid stepping over any boundaries. She didn't want to reveal too much, but just enough to give this kid the idea that the circus wasn't what it's cut out to be.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"I'm not looking for glamor," Noah replied seriously. "Or fun." [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Are you looking to put us in danger?" Noah flinched at the sound of the voice, and turned around in surprise to look at the Ringmaster.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Can you truly say there will be no one looking for you, no one who might wonder where you went? Everyone else here is supposed... Well. No one is looking for them. The hunt for you, on the other hand, could lead the authorities directly to us."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"They... they wouldn't look hard. I'd just be another runaway kid. Besides, I can... I can be useful. Having a human could be useful. It isn't as if you can go walking around in public like that, right?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova stood proudly at Gale's side and gleaned strength from his presence. It was two against one in this discussion. Gale was well spoken as always and confronted the flaws in the boy's plans. Having a runaway would only bring bad attention from the authorities as well as other outcasts hoping for a circus life, two harmful situations. The young man still argued for the right to stay and offered potential benefits in the hopes of gaining favor. "We don't need humans. All of us can walk freely in public with the help of a special medicine. This stuff," Nova gestured to her face, "Is just extra cell growth makin' me look beastly. One swig of the good stuff and I look like any other human. You think we grew up lookin' like monsters 24/7? We'd be dead in a heartbeat if that were the case."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"I thought you said you were stuck here," Noah shot back to Nova's rebuttal, trying to sound brave. But the words sounded false, even to his own ears. "So that's it, huh? You are the one circus that doesn't follow the stereotype, the one circus that won't pick up the runaway, even if they come pleading at your door. Even if they offer up whatever you want, however misguided it might be. No. Anyone who shows up here gets sent away." Focused on Nova, Noah didn't notice Gale awkwardly rubbing the side of his cheek, thinking about the couple of runaways this circus had picked up. Then again, they had been supernatural as well.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova flinched back subtly when snapped at, not having anticipated the sharp refutation. She had meant trapped by the law, not her supernatural form, but the boy had still gotten the point across, which was that he was ever persistent. And Nova didn't want to admit he had a fair point. Circuses were notorious for collecting society's strays and offering refuge. But this circus was different than normal and housed only supernaturals. How would the kid even fit in? In a place like this, would he even have to fit in?[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Well...You're human. We accept supernatural runaways, but we haven't accepted any mundanes here..."Nova began. She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly before continuing, "But it's not like any of us belong. All we have in common are our supernatural traits, and even then many take human forms here...So, does it matter if we accept an actual human? Damn, I can't believe I'm saying this stuff...." [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova glanced at Gale and couldn't read him. Was he on board? Nova looked back to the boy. He was desperate. Something really bad must have happened in his life for him to seek refuge among criminals, especially those labeled as 'monsters' and 'freaks.' It clicked. This trespasser truly wasn't like the others, looking for moment of thrill. He wanted safety.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova finally caved, but didn't seem too pleased about it. "If I let you stay, not saying for sure yet, will you promise to stay in line? Cause one wrong move and I'd be tempted to throw you out of here, kid."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]August 29, 2016[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah's gaze flipped back and forth between Nova and Gale. The skeletal canid was almost impossible to read, but her waffling words gave more than an indication of what she was thinking. His heart leaped, and he turned to Gale, wondering what he was going to have to say to persuade the Ringmaster to let another member join his crew of irregulars. Much to his surprise, as Nova finished speaking, a faint smile crossed his lips. At Noah's confused expression he began to speak. "If all these years running this show has taught me anything, it's that sometimes you have to relax and accept things are going the way they should go. But. No matter how welcome you may be, that doesn't change the fact that you are still human, and if people come looking for you here I'm going to have hell to pay. If anyone ever recognizes you, you must leave. That is the one hard and fast rule. Understood?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Good. Nova, have Eric get him set up with Ace in the morning."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]So the boy would receive the refuge he wanted, but there were still conditions. Gale made a fair and vital point, if someone came after the boy he'd be kicked to the curb, as it was too risky to draw attention to all of the illegal activity going on. Nova had a bittersweet feeling. Sure the poor boy would get some help, but that meant she had to play babysitter until he got settled in. Her task started now, given the command to set the boy up with one of the other young stowaways, granted, this one was a supernatural. "So until then is he sticking with me? It's fine I guess. There's no way I'm sleeping now so he can sleep in my bed or something if he's tired. No shoes though, kid, I just cleaned the sheets," she replied. She made a move to head to the door, opening it up and holding it, the cold breeze drifting in. She looked to Gale for any last minute instructions, but from what she knew now, she had to watch the boy until he could find a place to be. This was going to be....interesting. They've never had a human runaway, not that she knew of, so the circus members were bound to be curious. Let's hope they showed some manners.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah allowed himself to be ushered out of the train, his heart pounding from nerves or excitement or both. He'd done it. He was here. He was finally going to be able to say goodbye to the life he had always know, the future he had always dreaded. He didn't know what his new future was going to entail, but he knew it would be better than what he was leaving behind.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Thanks. Ummm... Yeah. Thanks. I'm Noah."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]The door to the train car was shut, leaving the two out in the cold darkness of the early morning. Nova took a moment to wonder what she had just gotten herself into, but only a moment, then her mind was moving forwards again. The trespasser, and now new circus member, had a name now. She wouldn't have to refer to him as 'boy' or 'kid,' but would regardless use those titles often. Noah. Sorta funny considering it was alike to Nova's name. Noah and Nova, two misfits from different troubled lives.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Noah, huh?"she said, "Well Noah, I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot. It's my job to be a bitch to intruders. My name's Nova, like the star. Dunno what my parents were thinking, but I've grown to like it." She extended a beastly hand for the boy to shake.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah took Nova's hand hesitantly, carefully positioning his wrist to avoid her sharp claws, and shook. He couldn't help but notice he did it much more delicately than he normally would, but couldn't really bring himself to squeeze any harder. "It's okay. You... you did a good job?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova felt Noah's tentativeness as he took her hand, felt his muscles shift ever so slightly to avoid her claws. If Nova was feeling kinder she's take some krym, but that would be a waste since the kid had to get used to a bunch of supernaturals roving around, their features far from human. [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]To the boy's nervous sounding compliment, Nova chuckled, "Thanks, kid. I try my best."[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]He nodded, carefully extracting his hand from her grasp. "What happens now?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova retracted her hand as well. "Now we head back to my train car and wait until it's time to get to work. Which for me, isn't that long,"she replied, heading in the direction of what served as her room in this transient life.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]She opened the door gently and peered inside the darkened space. She shared her boxcar with the other backstage manager, a gorgon girl name Melinda. Nova would consider them pretty decent friends, having been roommates and coworkers for quite some time. It took a while for Nova to get used to it, but unlike most others, Melinda slept upright and was doing so now. She stood just a few feet away from the bolted down twin bed that Nova called her own. [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"You can sleep if you want. I have some comic books if you wanna read them. Or you could just stare at the wall for an hour or so, I don't give a shit," she continued, "Melinda's sleeping right now, so you may want to be quiet. Don't scare the snake."Once Noah was inside she'd follow and close the door.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah blinked, before turning his head away rapidly, closing his eyes partway. He wasn't scared. Rather, he was fascinated. The woman before him looked like a creature straight out of greek mythology, serpent tail, snakes for hair, and all. He swallowed, before repeatedly intoning to himself [/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent]don't stare. Don't stare. Don't stare.[/BCOLOR][BCOLOR=transparent] When he opened his eyes again, he tried to pretend he was just looking at another room, another sleeping woman. There was no way for him to tell how well it worked.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Thanks. When... How does the morning start here?"[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova walked in and wiped her paws on the ground to dispel any snow. Then she sauntered over to her bed and took a seat at the head of it, legs pulled towards her chest. There was plenty of room left for Noah to sit or lay if he wanted to. She leaned over to a side table and clicked on a small lamp, setting it to dim, enough to cast the room in a faint glow, but not enough to disturb the sleeping gorgon.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Nova didn't seem too worried about waking the woman, assuming she could sleep through some whispering or soft speaking. "Depends on the person. Some unfortunate people have to wake at the ass crack of dawn to prepare breakfast and others wake up earlier cause their weird that way. Either way, everyone has to be up at 9,"she said quietly.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]"Nine," Noah repeated, before letting out a quiet, relieved sigh. "In that case I think I'm going to try and get some sleep." He moved over towards the bed, sitting down at the opposite end from Nova, before carefully taking off his shoes and curling up on the cover.[/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent] [/BCOLOR]
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Noah had no idea if he'd be able to sleep. Most likely, the answer was going to be no. How could he, with everything that had just happened? But he had also been awake since three a.m, and dreams of the circus had kept him wide awake the night before. Within moments of closing his eyes, Noah had fallen asleep.[/BCOLOR]
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