Josef Carroll Boudreaux

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107 One of Our All Stars

About Josef Carroll Boudreaux

  • Rank
    Nicely Seasoned


    Liam McIntyre
  • RACE
    Rogue Magus, Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • JOB
    Owner, "Hammer's Antique Firearms and Gun Repair"
  • 'SHIP:
    New York, NY (Glendale and Long Beach), born and raised in New Orleans
    Fit, average height and clean-cut with dark blond hair and hazel eyes that shift with whatever color he wears. He usually has a few days of scruff and is rarely clean shaven, still keeping it neat. When working, he prefers white tees and jeans and loves to get dirty, only to clean up and be just as comfortable in casual suits and attire all the way to a tuxedo or complete traditional English riding gear.

    He regularly wears odd trinkets from his travels. Obscure charms on black cords are often around his neck or wound several deep on his wrists from his interest in the occult.
    Born to old Cajun money, Josef Carroll Boudreaux IV is as far from pretentious as one can get. Carroll is self-sufficient and comfortable with his humble position in life after the Event. A former affluent recluse (though hosting many gatherings in his isolated family estate when it still existed), he's now found himself pursuing a labor of love amongst one of the remaining bastions of civilisations. He is contemplative, intelligent and a lover of all things fine- but doesn't require life's luxuries to be content. Carroll is a learned outdoorsman; there isn’t a firearm or weapon he hasn’t shot, a location he hasn’t "roughed it" in, or a country left on his list he didn’t visit and explore before the world changed.

    His world travel and lack of structure have left him a learned skeptic. He is disinterested in the budding war between the factions. As a Magus, he has seen both sides of the line. Caught hiking through Italy during the Resonance, he was recruited by the Order shortly after and never quite melded with the rabid passion they tried to shove down his throat. ARMA has yet to prove its worth to him, but he watches the upstart organisation with quiet interest. He doesn’t hide what he is, but doesn’t go out of his way to brag either.

    He has brought his love of life, food and people to New York with him. He despises the "Hollywood" stereotype of his tradition, and is quite articulate and educated. Missing his home and regretting how little time he spent there after his parents passed, he now surrounds himself with it. Traditional food, music, gatherings… the old-blood Cajun is alive with life in a world that now seems so dark- and he loves every minute of it.

    Carroll has more than a passing interest in the occult. Through his international travels, exposure to the spiritual from every corner of the globe was collected and added to his extensive knowledge of his own home traditions. He is very rational and realistic as all old world affluent are on the outside, in his private time however- the acknowledgement of superstition and magic beyond what is now in the world is very real. He truly believes the old magic is still alive and vibrant. He is also comfortable in cemeteries, often walking through them for solace or on a daily run to think. His engrained cultural traditions surrounded themselves with celebrations and acknowledgments of death, and it brings an old-world comfort to be amongst ancestors; whether his or someone else's.
    "Hammer's Antique Firearms and Gun Repair" in Glendale, small apartment above. It is a decent sized repair, trade and sale shop. There are no displays, all items are lock and keyed in the back warehouse and brought out under request. The storefront and main public area focuses on repairs and fabrications in various stages.

    Quaint, secluded flat on Long Beach. Furnished with surviving old Louisiana pieces that he continues to seek out and collect.

    Gris-Gris; Carroll always wears a talisman given to him by his childhood chef/caretaker to keep him safe. It is an intricately carved bone skull, little bits of various objects somehow inserted into the labyrinth of carving.

    His horse, Cheshire Cat- a grey American Saddlebred that he boards near his flat in a budding archery, shooting and equestrian club.

    A stupidly impractical 1935 LaSalle Convertible Coupe, black fenders, red body.


    Magus- Electromagnetic Wave Frequency Manipulation, Light Spectrum and Radiant Energy. Carroll is able to manipulate the wave frequencies of electromagnetic waves through the invisible and visible light spectrums from longest to shortest. These abilities have manifested in a variable array of self-enhancing, and defensive/offensive abilities- mostly enhancing to his visual sensory perception. Where other Magus can produce fire, earth or other visible dangers, Carroll's are relatively undetectable until one can feel the sunburn on their skin or warmth from their core.

    Carroll is effectively a "drop-out" from the Order. He has a fierce command of his low and medium level abilities, and extremely limited experience with his high level skills. It is simply too dangerous for him to attempt their use at this time beyond being aware they exist.

    LOW LEVEL ABILITIES- Fully trained
    Radio Waves- Seen as a bit of a party trick, Carroll can manipulate and disrupt the signals to televisions and radios within a fifty foot radius. This can result in the complete obliteration of readable signals, to a juxtaposition of frequency; aka transference of one channel to another. He can also "fiddle" with signals, overlapping and distorting them. He can effectively play with them for up to an hour, listening, manipulating and disrupting.

    Microwave Echo- Remote sensing and low heat production; a human "Doppler radar". Only active a few times an hour, he can effectively do a several mile sweep of his current position, able to "see" a picture of weather and atmospheric instability. With a small change of intensity, he is also able to warm up his immediate vicinity for up to an hour, useful in the winter. It is read by others as a feeling of warmth, and is innocuous.

    Infrared Sweep- Thermal vision and remote control of televisions, radios and phones. Conduction of intense heat through touch. Carroll is able to open his vision and "see" in the dark through thermal detection, or shift it to a concentrated touch of extreme heat. The ability can be maintained for up to an hour, if focused through touch the duration is less than ten minutes. He can also reduce it to a miniscule form to "change the channel" on a television, radio or phone- anything that can be affected by remote control, including something as silly as a garage door.

    Consequences- Fatigue, disruption of brain function "hearing voices" and static, extreme pupil dilation, ringing of the ears, superficial burns to himself and others. If overused, consequences can last from hours to several days.

    MID LEVEL ABILITIES- Fully trained
    Visible Spectrum- True color sight. He can shift the visual acuity of his eyesight to different color palettes of light penetration, able to see intricacies invisible to others. This effectively produces a "high definition" thermal image of anything he looks at. "Auras", Mana trails, etc. show up like long exposure light trails. He can maintain this for up to half hour.

    Ultraviolet Burn- External manipulation of a wave burst. Through touch and close proximity, Carroll can cause extreme sunburns to skin and even blanch objects. When used as a burst, it feels like a rush of heat against the skin, later manifesting as any of three degrees of sunburn. The closer his proximity, the worse the burn. Direct touch almost always produces a third degree sunburn. Can be utilized up to one time every minute for a maximum of five seconds, over the course of fifteen minutes. He can create a longer burn, but the danger of transference to his own skin increases exponentially.

    X-Ray Pulse- Sight through solid objects. Sent forth similar to sonar, the pulse can give him a map of everything in his vicinity. It can also be used as a "traditional" x-ray, though the danger to others from the inherent properties of the radiation. It can be used as a weapon, a concentrated pulse able to make someone sick similar to radiation poisoning, and the long term effects that go with it. He rarely uses this ability unless he absolutely sure there is no chance for collateral damage and it is absolutely necessary. Carroll can make a "sweep" twice an hour in a radius of several blocks. When focused on one target, a human for instance, he can produce a concentrated wall for almost ten seconds with no repeat- enough to make someone pass out.

    Consequences- Fatigue, low level radiation poisoning, temporary blindness, loss of perspective and disorientation, burns. If overused, consequences can last from a day to almost a week.

    HIGH LEVEL ABILITIES- Training began, aware but no control
    Gamma Illumination- Focused touch that can irradiate a living being, from a full body poisoning to a focused killing of cancer cells. The ability of this power to be insanely useful is evident, but the consequences too great to attempt mastery for the time being.

    Gamma Burst- A split second of concentrated waves that can carry the power of a miniscule nuclear explosion; searing, scouring and leveling anything from a two block radius and effectively rendering it radioactive.

    Consequences- Currently, death of himself and those around him. Carroll did not fully study the control of his high level abilities. Logically, he understands their ugly potential based on the light spectrum progression of his abilities. When the Order became rabidly interested in their full development, he bowed out of the organisation, choosing for the sake of humanity to leave them unexplored in lieu of what he could be used for.
    Speaks French-Cajun, European French, and rudimentary Italian.

    Fantastic cook, all traditional southern dishes and treats.

    Schooled in weapon repair through apprenticeship and personal passion.

    Skilled marksman, hunter and fisherman.

    Skilled rider in both English and Western saddle traditions with additional polo and jumping skills.

    Extensive survival experience, knowledge of edible foods and field medical knowledge.

    Extensive knowledge of old school religions, magic and superstition from all over the world; specifically Voodoo and African religions.
    Carroll hails from an affluent, old world family from New Orleans Louisiana. Behind the tall brick and ornate wrought iron fence that surrounded the vast estate, he grew up in the presence of very few living, yet hundreds of years of family buried in a family cemetery within the fenced property. Rivaling the most beautiful of New Orleans sculpted mausoleums, he spent a great deal of time among them as a child, having no siblings to play with. Being an only child and last heir to the family name, his parents were over protective and he sought freedom whenever he could.

    Learning to shoot and ride was one of the only respites he found, and even then the rigid dress regimes and proper manners were only of interest for so long. Pitied by his tutors and specifically the family's Creole chef, he was shown how to break from the claustrophobic walls through old, nearly flooded pre-civil war tunnels in and out of several mausoleums. Gifted a gris-gris of protection by his chef, the abundant adventures in the swamps surrounding the estate nearly took his life numerous times. Unafraid, the daredevil nature blossomed until as a young man his world became stifling.

    After his father died of a heart attack when he was seventeen, his mother wasn't long for the world either. She seemed to give up, passing shortly after of alcohol related illnesses just before his eighteenth birthday.

    The young bachelor was lost. Sought after by other local affluent families looking for the archaic "good marriage", he withdrew from the social spotlight. Alone in an enormous and cold house, he became a recluse for several years, slowly coming to terms that he finally had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. He tried the parties, the gatherings, the high life that his family had left him... but it never seemed to satiate his need for adventure. Leaving the estate to his family's generation of loyal paid servants, he left and never thought to return- traveling the world until it went to hell.

    Caught hiking in Italy when the Event happened, he was taken in by the Order, teachings refining his altered skills but preaching a doctrine he was unwilling to "convert" to. After mastering his low and mid level abilities, the Order started to probe and train his high level powers with incredible interest. He began to question his use in the greater schema. He understood the escalating pattern and ramifications of his abilities, and couldn't in good conscience allow further access to his high level magic, by anyone. Taking an incredible risk, he purposely sought and managed to trigger an explosion during one of his training sessions, with catastrophic results- leveling and irradiating a portion of the building. Before they could stabilize the area, he'd already fled (disoriented with severe burns), presumed dead as an inexperienced magus managing to blow his own ass up.

    He returned to what was left of the States after the Resonance to find his heritage flooded and in ruins. Salvaging what he could, he's made a life for himself in New York, looking to reclaim some semblance of his culture and the bright side of life he left behind.

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  1. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Then your map is defective…..shows your french quarter is lined by the……. Eyes slid up to watch her, he didn’t really know what to think. Raging against the world and claiming herself not to be “broken”, but now showing him the vulnerability and limitations to what she could do. It made no sense… she was still trying to either prove to him that she was competent in different ways, or she was finally starting to strip away all the bravado and… …ohhh. …. by the Mississippi……... It's silver….. Thoughts darkened away from his original ah-ha moment. He was so eager to share his findings, and now because of all this destruction, it was almost as if there was a hint of defeatism in the normally easy rolling Cajun. The sullen expression was starting to slide into something much more melancholy, there were no big items to find anymore. Faded and chipped plastic beads… the metal skeletons of everything else that was rotting away and bring reclaimed by the wilderness and the river. They are what they are to you. Nothing more……. and nothing less. Lips pursed, the frown replaced by the bottle when his word was questioned again. Words I have heard many times before…… for once………. I really hope they are meant. Brow furled into that darker place, finding the bottle again. He wasn’t going to fight for anyone to believe him. They either did or they didn’t, reluctant to give up the bottle when she reached for it. Don’t give a shit what you can do…..never did…..there is a small army of people out there right now watching this area that can do shit. The cynical expression reappeared, quirking slightly as his arms found their place over his chest again. Thumbs tapped his biceps absently. She just didn’t get it. Nobody got it. Nobody except the people that tried to exploit the invisible catastrophe he could bring down. My job to protect you…. and your place. Its my fault your place was targeted. I brought you into this deal. That group tonight…. built by a traitor looking to undo what we built. Means dealing with us is….dangerous…. now. “Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not the first time my place has been targeted. Dealing guns is dangerous, always has been. There’s a reason the back room has steel reinforcement and the place is covered in cameras.” Long breath was drawn in, picking up the silver cuff again to look at it. That was his way wasn’t it? Hunker down until someone got a whiff of what he could do with arms and magic, and then disappear until it blew over. Come back, rebuild. He really did like the transparency of it all, no roots, no worries… but hell, it was lonely. Surrounded by people in the clubs he visited, the parties he threw. Still, felt so alone. Thumbnail ran over the tiny little grids, streets he’d walked, places he’d loved. Its not ink…… I am playing parasitic host to a piece of the sky. It likes to amplify emotions when its ticked off….. I try not to have any. Brows quirked as he looked up at her with the hooded hazel. She just kept peeling back. Even he wasn’t sure he could take it all in. Somewhere she felt like she could trust him, and he wouldn’t be judgmental, but was mad because he probably would be? He’d heard of odd things like that, so it wasn’t that… just opened up a whole layer of extra… reasons he just couldn’t pick up and leave anymore. Someone would miss him? “I’ve heard of that,” voice was very quiet. “When I was training with the order there were some whispers of people fundamentally changed by the thing, caught in it somehow, pieces of them trapped, pieces of it trapped. Just thought they were stories…” The explanation of her “sight” though, was intriguing; about to ask if she was throwing the mojo that was fraying his sonar… Rain…. spice and a floral I don’t recognize on anyone else…. that’s you…. He blinked at her, lifting his forearm to sniff it without thinking, turning his wrist over to a small waterfall of tiny bits and bobs. Tiny silver charms on black cords, small stones; nothing unusual. It left him curious what she smelled, fingers reaching to his chest to touch the gris-gris he always wore. He pulled it from under his shirt and lifted it over his head, leaning forward to hand it to her, something he’d never done... for anyone. Ever. It was as much a part of him as the air he breathed. “Might be it,” it felt weird not wearing it, fingers a bit reluctant to let go, brushing her palm as he relinquished it. “It’s my gris-gris. I had, we all had, a caretaker… nanny I guess. Mine was more like an accomplice. Taught me to cook, covered for me to keep me out of trouble. She gave me that, said I always come out after a scrape as long as I had it.” He didn’t tell her exactly what it was, the small quarter size skull so intricately carved out of bone that there were things inside of it. He never remembered Alma not having it around her neck when he was a kid, when she cooked, cleaned. It was probably so engrained with the potent scents of unique cooking it would always be there. There were seeds in it, a few feathers and slivers of bone. The other scents… no idea? “Magnolias maybe…” he offered, was really stumped, sniffing the back of his forearm again. “Others are just… charms. Gris-gris are charmed to you. Powerful stuff.” Bottle was stolen back and tipped up again. “So this… thing you do. Any more to it? My particular brand of mojo… I can scan, sweep, thermal, infrared. Kind of like radar. Something kept jamming up my signal… was that you?”
  2. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    “Damn it Mason…Give that back. Yours is broken.” Ya well…. got shot for ya and lost my favorite shades….. so think entitled… Quirked frown responded, then thoughts were lost to the willingness for her to find someone to help with his glass. There had to be strings attached, there were always strings attached when you were in the firearms business. Too alike…. “Maybe…” the word slipped out. “I gotta rebuild myself. We always rebuild.” He’d said that all his life, somehow in the fuzziness of his thoughts there was crawling doubt. It made it that much more important that he stand fast in his insistence. He had to do it himself; he might very well be the only one left. There was a lingering silence, where everything before had always been so easy, it now felt like a giant wall sat dead between them. “The cold water makes ‘em hurt,” he commented quietly on her seemingly itching tattoos. “Do for mine anyway, become these… itchy, raised lines.” It was all he divulged. His were unusual, and elaborate, a very interesting night in the Phillipines that he remembered very little of. Plus, it was in an area not many people saw. This was not going to be a whip-your-shirt-off and compare moment. His wasn’t on his upper body. So you are going to be different? He looked at the snowglobe, incredibly quiet, picking up the bottle to polish it off. He really didn’t understand what she was asking. Different from what? Not being a dick and treating her like she was inept? He never thought he did. Different than every other person that ever came before in my life? “I don’t know every other person that came before in your life, I wasn’t there,” there was a bit of aggression churning in the quiet response. This wasn’t fair, hazel lifting just in time to finally catch the gaze, opening his mouth to defend himself when she continued. It was his turn for arms to cross over his chest. I used to believe everyone would not ask for proof after…. not treat me different….every damn time…I thought "they" were "different"…. I was sure every time…… and I naively trusted….. and every damn time I was suddenly not complete……. not trusted. Not expected to perform as successfully…… not trusted to cross the damn street on my own…. not trusted to protect with any accuracy. Never mind that I had done it all flawlessly before and that nothing had changed……. that one insight into my life suddenly changed their perception of me….every…..damn……time. I gave up that naivety long ago……….. Aw hell no. “So did I, the naivety that I was a harmless party boy. We all got dealt a handful of bullshit, but you ain’t the only one that’s been used and abused. You just dealt with it better. I just ran. I ain’t running no more. I didn’t insist on protecting you because I thought you were incompetent, I just didn’t want to fry your ass,” an uncharacteristic terseness set onto his features and into his voice, betraying that he' d known or at least suspected for quite some time. It was also suddenly clear how vehemently he revered his power and his insistence not to hurt anyone. “Going off all half-cocked, you stepped right into my line of fire. It’s my responsibility to protect what’s mine, and you while you’re in it. You don’t gotta prove you got balls by steppin’ into someone’s line of fire.” So yah… he wasn’t exactly the most honest about himself either. “Now is you gonna be different from everyone that’s come before that I’ve told what I can do? You not going to ask me to crack safes and scramble security protocols? Eavesdrop on phone conversations? Block and fry communications? Unlock car doors? How about level street blocks? I don’t tell people because I’m useful, and I’m dangerous, and what I do you can’t avoid. I HURT you Mason, and I almost killed you and your damn back-up because yall had to get in the way!” Lips quirked, arms tighter across his chest as an almost harrumph settled across his features. Expression was sullen, and he’d become quiet. He was so pissed at himself, because of the level he was pushed to use his abilities because it got so out of hand, and she’d still ended up hurt. He was way too fucking sober for this, eyes closing a moment, flicking back to her when she chose to pick up one of his scavenged items. Sits on the river….. Eyes were on the few tiny bits of glitter that refused to settle in the globe, “no, it don’t.” He didn’t elaborate for a moment. It's silver….. “I think so, probably.” Arms released from his chest and went to the table, picking up the other. “Nola ain’t on the river, it is the river. It was born from the river, it lived from it, and it died from the river. Thought the cuffs were something more... probably just pieces of junk for drunk tourists.” It was strange of him to be bitter. She'd plinked a nerve. He got up, faint lock click along the floor allowing him to pull up the floor storage door that had his things in it. Rustling a few of the vintage ammo boxes he used to store his stuff in innocuously while he went on his gallivants, the distinct clink of a bottle was pulled out and the trap dropped. Definitely not what he’d prefer, he was still pissed about them breaking that first bottle. He returned to his perch, stuffed another mouthful of food in and pulled one of the last things out of the crate. A few other bits and bobs left in were a few shells and gator teeth he was going to add to his cords, some gun parts he’d found en route and random bits of seaglass. The larger object was somewhat heavy, yet small, swathed in a t-shirt that he carefully unwrapped. It was made out of concrete, or something similar. Carved and cast as a miniature that was unusually heavy. Another tourist piece of junk. Bottle cracked open, the long swig hoping to just obliterate the entirety of the conversation. Fingers reached up to wander over the wings that draped down the base of the weeping angel, feeling the heavy pull of more alcohol flooding his system. “Don’t give two shits about your sight Mason. I give a shit about you."
  3. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    She didn’t wanna eat. Then what the hell was she down here for? Barefoot, wearing his clothes. If she was so damn pissed at him she should be hightailing it back to her own people… and apparently she didn’t want the damn piece of metal either. Sigh was soft, fingertip poking at the one of the French Quarter gently absently with his fork hand while he chewed. It was just a piece of metal after all. Junk, he guessed. Hooded eyes lifted to watch her come over, oddly enough everything began to fit together like a giant puzzle; a million tiny pictures of individual things making one large view of the world. All the things she’d done… all the way back to her tapping on his display glass the first day she came in all made sense now. It was intriguing, and amazing, but she didn’t wanna hear it. So he said nothing, fingertip pushing this time at the snowglobe with the glum of a kid kicking a pebble because their friend couldn’t come out to play. Expression snapped to a frown when she stole his bourbon. “Damn it Mason…” mumbled from his lips. It was quickly becoming a catchphrase. “Give that back. Yours is broken.” Hand fell back to the table, lips quirked as he sat up a bit and dug more into his food. Needed to anyway, been out in the crazy too long, almost too long. Got a glass guy…. send him over tomorrow for y' window… probably have it fixed in a day…. He glanced up at her. “I’ll be fine. I can do it. Just somethin’ I have to do on my own.” Should be careful giving me maps………. I never forget them. He was unusually quiet and still, watching her for a long moment. Soaking in everything, he swallowed slowly. “It ain’t,” voice started too soft to make noise, he cleared his throat slightly before continuing. “It ain’t there anymore anyway. Nothing to go to even if you knew where to go.” The melancholy betrayed where his drunken thoughts were settling. Normally a contemplative drunk, a conversational and quirky drunk, this time the fatigue had worn down the surly grins. Fork was set down quietly and he straightened in the chair, both elbows on the table as he rubbed his temples with his fingers then ran them into his hair, pausing. He let the silence sit, heavy in its implication. The Cajun always spoke of the place as if it was alive, always alive, always able to come back from the dead. This trip though… it was gone, and it wasn’t ever coming back. He felt like he was alone on an island. His need to wander, to be free from whatever he should have been happy with had yanked it from him. If he was home when the world went to shit, he could have done something… maybe? He drew a long breath and pushed it out, rubbing his eyes and picking up the snowglobe again. “It’s all underwater now,” bracelets twinkled as he twirled it slowly. “It was hot. Always hot, air so thick it felt like a warm and wet silk shirt, clinging at ya. The air always seemed to smell like magnolias, or wet concrete as weird as that sounds. When it got dark you were still hot, eyes cooled by the gray moon or the reflections of lights on the river. I liked the cemeteries because they were cool at night, all the carved marble reflecting a soft glow made ‘em magical. The air would be thick, but the stone let go of the heat of the sun. Sit and talk with friends, sit by myself and just talk with the gray angels.” He twirled it again, the purple and green glitter flitting about the white plastic building on the inside. “It looks different now, not much left of it still above water, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love it any less. Doesn’t mean it still don’t have the power to get me to think fondly of it.” There was a heaviness to his voice, he was sad. Truly. There was a confession in there somewhere, not aware yet perhaps, but something was different. “Been looking into gray eyes and seeing magic all my life. Never once have they not looked back at me until now.” Snowglobe was set on the table. “The only person being treated different right now is me. You shutting me out.” He was playing with the bottle of bourbon, twirling it slightly by the neck. “Got nothing to prove to me Mason. Trying ta prove you ain’t broke is gonna kill you. We all broke, anyone that says otherwise is a liar. It's the ones that make the broken into beautiful that are gonna survive.” Bottle tipped up again and he picked up the bracelet and set it closer to her, leaving what was said settle so he could move on. Move on to what, he wasn't really sure. Something was different. Maybe when he sobered up he'd know, right now... he was just rolling with it. “French Quarter. Got into a lot of trouble there.”
  4. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Get your food? "Mhm...." The response was soft, nonchalant as jaw chewed, another fry perched in fingers ready to be chomped. Eyes were on the glittering snowglobe. It felt oddly familiar. Him focused at his work table, her watching nonchalantly from across the room. He was acutely aware of every detail, down to the t-shirt she'd swiped from him. Well, maybe acutely with a little fuzz around the edges, and a snowglobe instead of a shotgun. Table littered with small cartons of all amazing smelling things were still unopened as he munched his fries. The snowglobe was set on the table, another drink of bourbon, another fry, and another reach into the crate. It was tarnished, but obviously some sort of silver cuff bracelet. The rotting and swamped storefront had been empty of all things, lost to the scavengers, the hurricanes, the floods, buried in the mud. He'd almost missed them. Jaw chewed slowly as he looked at it, setting it down on the table with a quiet clink as he fished out another. Leaning back in the chair, he stared at them a moment, reaching forward to rearrange them a few times. Another drink, he finished the carton of fries and reached for the next one. "You gonna eat or not? Didn't know what you liked so I ordered everything." Jambalaya... fingers poking at the other cartons to find the rice, fishing back into the bag for the silverware. Plastic, but it wasn't a silver spoon event. There was a chair still flipped up on the table across from him. Up to her. "Got ya a souvenir." He picked up one of the cuffs and set it aside from the others. "Thought they were just scratched up fancy jewelry. Cleaned one up a bit and realized they're carved maps of the city. Touristy things... ya know. Not seen anything like em before." He folded the rice carton out carefully, making a bowl, then finished putting the rest on top of it. "I'll buff 'em up after I get things cleaned up in the shop." It was clear he wasn't moving the shop. The normally always surly Cajun was a bit quiet as he ate, reaching over to run his thumb along the carved French Quarter. There was nothing left of it. A few wrought iron pieces and other debris sticking up out of the muddy water, rebar and chunks of taller structures at the higher points, but that was it. Charms on his wrist twinkled slightly against the bottle as he tipped it up again, and fell into silence. Too much churning through fuzzy thoughts. Everything was weird, everything was different... not 'cause of her eyesight- he'd suspected that for a while. He didn't know what he was feeling... too much to say about the current elephant in the room, so he just dined with his silent ghosts.
  5. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    What’d he order??? Food. What’d she think got delivered from a take-out place? Jojo? Where the fuck did Jojo come from? That’d better not have been a reference for him… Brow quirked as he took another drink, he was going to need the entire bottle; the whole damn thing at the sound of the conversation that was still taking place over her phone. It seemed she was not leaving, even after the verbal tussle. Face barely peeked around the corner like a cat to purse a frown up the stairs. “Damn it Mason!” Jesus. A swift turn from the stairwell to put his back on the wall away from it left a facepalm in the center of his forehead and a string of French curses in his wake. “Bon dieu…” Thumb and forefinger kneaded between his eyes for a long moment before he oozed a long sigh. This was just getting worse. She didn’t want to be here… now she was here, and apparently overly comfortable, on the phone with someone that could walk in at any moment and they were gonna think… Another drink tipped up a bit longer than it probably should have and the bottle was set on the counter, hands on his hips to survey the vastness of the damage and casting a suspicious side-eye toward the now off limits stairwell. That was… unexpected, lower lip rolling through his teeth. Focus. On. The . Shop. Things seemed to be waist high or above. Things. The shop's DAMAGE was waist high or above. Jesus Josef. The COUNTERS were relatively unscathed. Glass was everywhere. The front façade of the building was completely open to the cold and the old steam radiator system that made the shop a charming relic of the bygone turn of the century era was running on overdrive. Boarding up was first priority. Nope. Avoiding naked Mason was first priority. Unlocking the door to the basement, he trotted down and pulled the chain on the lone lightbulb. He didn’t use the area much. It was an old dirt floor and generally a cruddy northeast basement, but he had some basic tools and the pull cranks for the old steel shutters he never used. Here’s to hoping they would actually move, they would shut off the front of the shop from the elements. Snagging the cranks and the two old locks, he made his way back upstairs, peering out before stepping out into the shop. Sliding out the window, grunt was soft as he reached up and attached it to the winch. Side was still sore, almost like his brain still remembered there was an injury but his body was telling him to fuck off. After a few moments of putting his full weight on it, the shutter to the right of the door was down and locked. The left side was much easier, and he found himself walking around the long way to let himself in the back door, cranking up the heat to at least get the lower level to an ambient 60’s. At that moment, ol’ Joe’s courier was pulling up, handing him a brown paper bag. “Thanks,” he smiled after them, patting the top of the car twice before they drove off. Loading door closed behind, he flipped down one of the chairs to his old worktable and dusted it off, grabbing the bottle of bourbon and starting to pull little cartons of things out one at a time. It was gonna take good food and a lot of elbow grease to erase this, hazel eyes traveling over the broken wood and glass everywhere… and a lot of bourbon to settle his mind about Mason. Should he call her down? Lord help him not yet. Jaw chewed on a sweet potato fry a moment before he quietly got up to retrieve the apple crate and set it on the floor next to his chair. Another fry. First thing was pulled out upside down by the faded wood base, somehow having managed to not only survive... but stay clear all this time. Hand whirled it gently, holding the snow globe up at eye level to watch the glitter float around the tiny little porcelain St. Louis Basilica inside, other hand helping himself again to another tip of Bourbon. The bottle was half gone.
  6. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    You would… everyone does! Her body was rigid, like a rock. So opposite to everything he knew. The only place in the world where he even had a lick of reaction like that had been in training with the Order. It tried to fundamentally change who he was. Asking him to leave everything that was in his soul and become this other being, a being that could live a double life and ignore what made him whole. They came after YOU….. that made it MY responsibility! Lips pressed together. Balance. The world was about balance, the more aggressive she became, the softer and warmer his response was. “I am my own responsibility, you gonna show up and save my ass from gators on my next trip home too?” He could have stopped that fucking phone, fried the damn thing to a crisp even before it rang. The whole area was chattering through the airwaves, obviously the block party that Bakkhos had mostly likely circled the place with. Hands came up slightly to give her a wide berth when she pushed past him. Of course I am fine. Arms crossed as he leaned his back on the wall. Of course he was eavesdropping both sides of the conversation. He didn’t do it often, but since they actually were shooting bullets at him he thought it was probably his business too… Gonna hang here for now. Make sure he's ok and y'all don’t miss anyone comin' back around for another hit. He watched a moment as she seemed to decide the fate of the world, then disappearing into the bathroom. Alrighty. He was hungry. He had nothing to cook, going out for take-out was definitely not possible, didn’t really know how long she’d be in there. Shower, check. Shave, check. Gunfight, check. Food and a drink were left. Soft footsteps went back to his crash pad bedroom and found his keys and cell, number dialed and balanced between his shoulder and his ear as he found a pair of decent Levis in his bag and pulled them on. Lower slung than normal, the lean hips needed some good comfort food and booze... exactly what he was ordering. The same soft padding went down the stairs, brow furrowing as he picked through the splintered shop and into his back room to the loading dock. Hazel eyes peeked out the back door, brow furrowed… well, the keys were useless. The windshield and passenger side windows of his beat up Jeep were shattered, but the box was still in there. “Please don’t be broken… please don’t be broken,” he reached in and pulled the old apple crate off the floor filled with a collection of unusual things. It was all intact. Thank the lord…. a bottle of Bourbon he was gonna keep for himself, a few fun things to play with that he’d found, and in a few moments unless the cavalry intercepted his delivery… the dinner a friend had promised him when he got back. Probably would call Mason to get it cleared, it would take them a few minutes though unless they were having a slow day. Booze. Padding back in, he set the crate on the counter, really not able to wait. Bottle was cracked open, a long draw followed by air seething inward through his teeth. "Beautiful."
  7. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    T-shirt was halfway over his head When the bathroom door smacked open and the tirade began. Head popped out from under the hem of the shirt in a rifled mess of hair, arms still in the sleeves as he pulled it back on. "I ain't looking at you different. I ain't looking at you at all. I feel like I don't even know you cuz all this time you hindin'" ...but it seemed lost in her next tirade. Leather was flying, weapons were slinging, skin was bared. So he just sat down, sat on the side of the monstrous claw foot tub, elbows on his knees, fingers intertwined and his head lowered to let the dust devil pass. He was used to this, used to people blaming him for a variety of things because they lived split lives... secrets. He didn't care about the secrets. She looked mortified, and he knew it was best to let tempers like hers to flare like a match, then go out. He would help dissipate the smoke left behind. He got up, turning on the spigot and flipping the lever for the shower, following her as she retreated. Just as her hand reached for the railing, he snatched it, not to pull her back or catch... to keep her from leaving. "You leave still lit ya gonna burn your world down." He wasn't fazed. He was sad. Sad that people that seemed to care about her so much let her burn this bright only to scorch herself. His was a voice that never went above conversational level, usually slightly under, unless someone was in danger. It was now incredibly quiet. Had learned young that energy comes back to you, and he blamed himself for the backlash he was getting now... he'd been frustrated and it was coming back times three. "I didn't ask you to protect what's mine. That's on you. The moment you stepped out that window you became my responsibility." He let go and took a step back to give her space. "I'm ex-Order. Rogue 'cause I don't like their flavor. I played my cards and you chose to stay." The key charm he'd been playing with in his fingers pressed into her palm. "We all gonna die Mason. My people celebrate life, and we celebrate death. If you gonna choose to give up the ghost, make sure it's for the right reasons. Keepin you safe is the right reasons, and I'm at peace with that. Where do I get off? I thought you were my friend... but I ain't looking at you different. I ain't looking at you at all. I feel like I don't even know you cuz all this time you hindin' Good and evil, light and dark, strength and weakness... they no such thing. They a whole. People that live half their lives because they think they gotta hide, never really live." Soft sigh brought fingers to tame the still mussed t-shirt hair. "Git," chin gestured toward the bathroom. "Go clean up, shower's running. I'll find you some towels, and we're gonna talk about that guitar key."
  8. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Knuckles ran across underneath his nose, sniffle at the clotted blood. His pere was going to kill him. The charming barely teenager had committed so many transgressions in the last few hours. His debutante escort tuxedo was now trashed. White shirt coated in dark droplets of blood from his nose, dinner jacket torn at the lapel. Shined shoes were now a muddy mess, pants muddy up to his knees. His bowtie had ended up somewhere, just not on his wing tipped shirt with exactly quarter inch pleats because mama thought the three eighths were too busy. Legs folded, balancing precariously on the crumbling wall of #3, he’d used the crypt ledge stacked four high as a ladder to climb up and sulk in silence. Father was going to kill him. Had it been worth it? Shit yes. Eyes flicked toward a rustling shadow with a small flashlight. “I know yer here Josef-Carroll.” It was his mama. “You shouldn’t be out here by yourself,” he said quietly from his shadowed perch under his favorite oak. “Alma told me where you’d gone. You shouldn’t be out here by yourself. C’mon down, you’re not five.” He hopped down, the strength of a man but still gangly coordination of a teenager. Her distaste was immediate. “That tuxedo was for tomorrow!” His expression was glower. “No more. You do not go to that club again, you hear me? We don’t do these things.” “But you come out by yourself in the middle of the night to find me?” The swipe was juvenile, but he was a juvenile… hopped up on underage drinking, a kiss from a girl, a helluva bar fight, and the best damn jazz he’d ever heard. Her face snapped to a sharp frown, “go, now. The car is at the gate.” Sullen. His world was always so sullen. Shiny shoes, perfect hair, silver spoons, chauffeurs. To sneak out in the middle of the night, over fences, through cemeteries to a backwater club was… heaven. “You’ve been drinking!” Frown set on his features as he flopped in the back of the sleek black car, arms crossing and silent in the ride home, the last song before the brawl broke out stuck in his head like glue. Eyes opened… it was in his head, the odd memory tangled in his brain. It was the song, he’d been humming it in the shower before the entire fiasco downstairs. He could see her out of the corner of his eye. Hazel stared at the ceiling for a while, the patina on the embossed tin ceiling a soft greened copper. He could see colors, that was a start. Nothing felt broken, he was breathing. It had either been a really long time… face still felt fresh… or they had a healer. Healer. “So there’s that thing I do,” voice was incredibly quiet. He let the calm silence linger, the heaviness of what he’d done preventing much more. He didn’t want to talk about what he’d done; he wanted to talk about what she’d done. “I miss it… each night and day, the longer I stay away… miss the moss covered vines, the tall sugar pines… where mocking birds used to sing…” throat was dry, but the quiet Cajun could hold a tune, conversational like lazy jazz. He took a slow breath and sighed, finally turning his head to look at her and the ridiculous sunglasses she had on most likely because her others were broken or vaporized. “Take them off.” He had already figured out there was nobody in the room but her. “Take ‘em off,” uncharacteristic frown creased his forehead, the first attempt to move slow as he sat up, turning to put his feet onto the floor. He was not going to be bedridden. Feet touched down right at her toes, elbows on his knees as he intertwined his fingers and looked over his shoulder at her, then to his hands. A tight insubordinate expression as he shook his head. Fingers played with the cord at his wrist, pulling the guitar tuning key off again and intertwining it in his fingers as he stared at it. He had every right to ask her to, he knew he was kicking a hornet’s nest of tips of icebergs and all that shit. The biggest of which, was he thought… at least… Fingers reached up and rifled the back of his hair. He needed a haircut. “Nevermind,” he found his feet, padding over to his bag on a chair which had been obviously rifled through to find the tee shirt and the boxers he was wearing at the moment. All this time, all this time and she hadn’t felt comfortable enough to… but sure was damn well comfortable going all hell bent on a suicide mission. No help wanted. She was in fucking suicide overdrive, and it wasn’t fair. He’d found a piece of home and it wasn’t fucking fair. He stopped rifling. “Why did you even bother hanging out with me?” He couldn’t sound aggressive if he tried, the faster he talked, the more the Cajun pulled into his accent… the more charming it sounded, halfway through it fell into full blown French Cajun, then snapped back suddenly. “I’m not gonna bury you because you got something to prove. I can’t bury you… just…” Both hands intertwined their fingers on the back of his neck and squeezed a moment, exasperated. “Mais la Mason!” hands went to his hips and he closed his eyes a moment. “Where does it all go, if you’re no longer here?” The question was so baring, glaring at her. “I go home to a gator filled swamp! It’s all gone! Except you! Don’t give me that, then be so shit-pissed blasé about taking it away.” It was acknowledging she belonged there, she may not have ever been there, but her soul had a deep piece of it. He was being selfish, damn straight he was being selfish… so many other implications fraying in every direction... grabbing the clothes he’d rummaged and padding to the bathroom.
  9. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Burnin' it aint healing it… it just buyin' you time. “Not a healer. Furthest from it.” Wasn’t that the truth, scowl quirking lopsided to an annoyed expression, the impish brow coming down slightly. Then the world spun into fast forward, but the key... It plinked to the ground and slid just before she took off like a banshee. That little dropped key changed everything. It changed absolutely everything, and she was gone. Hearing her but unable to see with his own eyes was bringing him to a panic. He could see everything, yet not what he wanted, couldn’t get eyes on her as the heat built in front of him. Everything distorted, except gunfire, the sounds echoing in a brain that was so inherently focused it could only zero in on one thing. Her gun was unique, oiled, almost melodic in its percussive echo. As long as hers kept firing, he kept the others at bay. They were multiplying, she was on the rooftop, and that severely narrowed his window of control. He had not done this in so long... Cavalry, her voice penetrated his concentration. Behind him possibly, automatic fire fraying his senses, the light in front of him was so bright he couldn’t focus on anything else. But… he wasn’t on the roof with Mason, and they didn't know him, which meant… Head snapped to one side at the split second thought, a bullet zinging past his ear to take out one of the multiplying threats in front of him, almost losing grip on the wall of heat he was pushing forward. THEY WERE BEHIND HIM! They had no idea what he was holding back. He tried to find his voice to tell them to move. Nothing came. Had Mason come down??? More mana, more altered… he had to focus it and push them off. The pressure point was almost needling to his forehead, a raging river pushing through the dam, the spike starting to press just between his eyes. Anyone in the street in front of him was in his firing line. It would be brutal, his experiment merciless and if he lost it, it was unlikely they would walk away from this. Firestarter, several more that had turned the corner gearing up their own gifts. He. Was. Just. Trying. To. Keep. Them. Back... until he could find the voice to tell the cavalry to get out from behind him. Feet slipped backward slightly, it was like he was trying to push a freight train and it was pushing him back. The cavalry behind him, gun shots distorted, the rest in front of him, starting to fire. He was dead bang in the middle, holding back the molten flood. Teeth gritted, the growl of exertion echoing as he finally got his tunnel vision focus and pushed it forward like a rocket, body motion like the throwing of a shot put. What came next was his worst nightmare. Everything in front of him, simply melted away. The nightmarish scenes from every apocalyptic movie, blast bone-shattering, vocal chords screaming before melting, disintegrating everything and everyone in its way; people, the sides of brick building in his focused street path, ending in an explosion at the end of the block that shattered the old empty building before dissipating like a crested wave. Vaporized debris floated to the empty street in front of him like dust and burning ash. World was numb, breath ragged. He hadn't been breathing for some time. He could feel sights on the back of his head from the cavalry truck behind him as his mind maps flailed into chaos, fraying. Another ragged breath was drawn, not recognizing the fact he was losing the ability to breath, disoriented, resisting the urge to reach to his side or to his neck where the cavalry had almost turned him into an arterial fountain moment before… Fingers rose into the air as best he could. He was going to get shot. It was… less than what he deserved for what was in front of him. That was a horrendous way for them to die, aggressors of not. He’d not done it for Bakkhos, or to get the bad guys. He’d done it to keep Mason safe. Da'fuq was wrong with him... This horrible power was now on clear display for the world to know how terrible his soul was, and any mana muncher in the city would have felt that. He was ashamed of it, eyesight finally returning to somewhat normal, the small key Mason had missed catching his eye on the sidewalk. Ragged breath drew again with a swallow. Fuck the cavalry. Limped walk moved in its direction, the cock of weaponry the least of his worries. Grunt was pronounced as he picked it up and wriggled it back over his wrist with his other trinkets, hand moving finally to his side as he looked up at Mason’s perch. The world was spinning, head splitting, ears ringing, but the voices. The voices were the worst. Cursing him. He knew in his right mind they weren’t real, but nevertheless they were there. “I’ma go get a drink,” he ignored their muzzles and started back toward his building at a limped pace, stumbling slightly. A faint effort waved them to follow him. “I get ya’ll one too.” He couldn't breathe, the cough bringing a trickle from his lip. Somewhere between that thought and the need for him to get to his bourbon, the last thing he remembered was his cheek smacking the pavement.
  10. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    The debris, there was something about the debris, about her… a rolodex flipping in circles as the information kept churning over itself through the pain, through every encounter, every glance… everything. Honestly, they were both fucked unless friends arrived, or they fell back and got to play with his toys. That would never happen because she wouldn’t do it. "Don't run off half cocked on me again Mason, I ain't drinkin' alone after this." His scowl met her scowl. Now they were both stubborn ass-mules scowling at each other in the middle of the street, popping people off absently only when guns were raised to fire on them. I could say the same. The melodic sound of his laugh. “Would ya now? Fuck Boudreaux…. yer supposed to be in the shop waiting for the damn doc to fix you up… not out here making me worry about ya. “I'm supposed to be enjoying a glass of that bourbon right now. Been saving it for months. I told you, ya never have to worry about me.” Scowl pursed into annoyance as she picked one off the roof, watching the gun hit the ground. That was a nice gun. Was. If you gonna count 'em off you need to look up as well as out…. Four more are hopping rooftops…. “You weren’t supposed to know about them. They were mine.” Dark eyes scowled back at her as she squeezed his shoulder. The rolodex was still flipping. Fingers crusted in dried blood touched the top of hers once briefly before she retreated and bolted off like a deer. He could feel more. Mana. It was moving, and she was moving right into it. “What’s the plan here Mason. If it’s kill them all there’s a lotta flaws in that plan.” …and then she rolled across the street. Lovely. "Damn it Mason…" was quickly becoming his tag phrase of late as it muttered from his lips again. Eyes picked up the fire. Fire. Bullets, fire. This was becoming too much to handle. Fire. The last close call bringing the scent of singed leather to his nose, a flick of unexpected anger to his gut… which still fucking hurt. Altered…. “So am I.” Words were calmer than they should have been, darkness peeking out from the timbre of his words, guns back in their holsters on his ribs- one with a wince. He didn’t want her to know his skeletons, it would change their easiness. Maybe even make so much weird between them he’d lose his drinking buddy. Things were going five sideways directions to shit at the moment and he wasn’t going to rely on the world to save them. A small shake of his wrist and all the trinkets from his life tinkled quietly with the one movement, small chimes to wake the dead, warn them he was breaking cadence into an unnatural world. At that moment, the spin of information in the grand puzzle stopped, eyes flicking to her as a bike bounced across the sidewalk. There was heat coming at him full force, but he wasn’t paying attention to that. He was watching her. She was a raw force. Altered. Magus. No idea which or how or what. “Mais la…” was said under his breath. He didn’t know if she had anything controllable. He didn’t know if it would work. Let the good times roll. One cord was wriggled off his wrist and was tossed to her, the metal enough weight to allow it to cross the distance. It was beat up, brass, chipped black enamel, a junk looking thing on a frayed cord. Not a gun. Or bullets. A simple guitar tuning key he’d found during one of his trips on a jazz club stage on an obliterated guitar. Couldn't quite remember which trip, wound with a black cord and worn around his wrist. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t anything. It was an object she could relate to. It was an object she could focus on. A foci. An athame. No idea if it would work. No clue in the slightest… It was amazing how quickly the brain could process when the world was moving like lightning. A revelation, a solution, a plan, and a fuckin’ Yoda moment all rolled into seconds. “Focus on the key, focus on what you want the key to do. Take that music in your gut and crush that key with it. It's a part of you. You control it. See that key in everything you want to move… and don’t let them shoot my ass.” He stepped out into the street the moment before a fire orb burst against the corner he was using as cover; raising his palm to it- the "spray" deftly rushing backward like a gust of wind had whipped sand from pavement. Now it was easy. Heat was energy, and now he didn’t have to produce it, he just had to control it. They kept throwing, he'd have more to play with. Panicking, more were launched at him, his wall pushing back was larger, hotter. Another was sent. Caught, crushing them together in a focused push of heat, firelight dissipating, left with the intensifying quiver of distorted air that signaled scalding danger. This was a cool trick, it was like pushing against a river, and he was the dam. A hot, holy shit this is going to hurt tomorrow river, but a river nonetheless. He’d never squared off against a fire magus, they were always a wild card. Some could take their own heat, some couldn't. This was gonna be a good time, or would end in disaster… either way… All he needed to do was get close enough where the heat he was gathering was too much for any of them. Close enough to scald the non-altered to fall back, they seemed to already be freaking. Reloading. Mason would be helpful about now. The fire girl… he’d figure that out when he got closer. The roof? Palm turned slightly to the right toward it, heat moving in that direction, blanching the brick as it traveled upward... stumbling one of their roof hoppers backward with singed eyebrows… okay, that was useful… "Got another bottle of bourbon in my truck for us cher, gettin' thirsty right about now."
  11. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Locks?…… Boudreaux… you aint got a window in place anymore….. No, no… that’s not what he meant. Before his mouth could open, he was being facepalmed. Sit down before ya fall down. He half slid down the wall, catching himself on the antique utility sink, face in an uncharacteristic scowl as she went for the window. “Mason!” Damn. IT! He’d seen her Glock… custom, but doable, set aside in his brain at the moment, waiting for the second she was out of range. The air in the room seemed to whine, physically vibrate as he pulled the towel away, dropping it to lift his gray Henley and slap his own palm over the bullet wound on the left side of his torso. It was almost a roar, pain. So much pain, silenced between two clenched teeth so she didn’t come back to check on him. The sink was shaking at the the strength of his grip. Riding the pain. Cauterizing a wound was one thing. Cauterizing his own wound was something else completely, the red blistered handprint on his flesh when he pulled his palm away no longer leaking blood. She was not going out there by herself. Bloody hand wiped over his torso to get the slick off, one lock clicked and he pulled open the last door he hadn’t checked, a series of snaps mechanical and instinctual- stuffing his back pockets with mags and another pistol in the back of his waistband. He could hear the interrogation, eyes blinking toward the barely intact wall. He could see everything, through brick, stone, mortar. Trained as a soldier and a magus to deal with pain and carry on. His eyes no longer saw the world as it was, but as nothing else he knew could see it. Everything was in his head, heat, movement, color. The first shot rang out, attention ahead but sight behind, sweeping. Oddly enough… the pressure against his brain seemed to be releasing. Pain maybe? It had been a while since he’d used his hoodoo, but… weird, like he was no longer trying to run in water, now slicing through air. Interference of some kind gone? Leg swung over the broken window with a grunt. This was going to fucking hurt tomorrow, teeth seething as feet hit the sidewalk outside just in time to see her launch into the air to take out another. Well fancy that, feeling the phone ring in her pocket before it physically went off. Aim nonchalantly rose to the two that pulled up short as he approached in no great rush, the duo suddenly snapping back and crumpling after he put two well placed shots in them. Expression wasn't pleased, pulling two mags from his back pocket. “Not so good at letting people have fun without me. You didn’t let me finish.. Unlock the doors of my personal stash,” he slid them in her pockets for later. “I save these firecrackers for special occasions. Iffin' you like, I might make you some. Might let your friends play in my toybox." Aim seemed eerily precognitive, arms raising again sharply. “Two turning the corner,” he said, firing just as they erupted, the force of whatever he was firing from his mags almost spinning them completely around before they crumpled. “Car stopped half block to your two o’clock behind the old post office. Three out of the car here in thirty seconds. Another four a block over from the loading dock. We're boxed in. I hope they're yours, if not we got ourselves a party.” He hurt like hell, but he was good at hiding it… and he really liked parties. “Wouldn't be gentleman-like to let ladies dance by themselves." He knelt to check the clip on his back-up with a snap, voice incredibly quiet, not a chide... or a demand, just a request. "Don't run off half cocked on me again Mason, I ain't drinkin' alone after this."
  12. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    That a thing? Waffle Houses. So bad and so good. “Guilty pleasure thing.” Who wants a scrawny guy that chases angels and drinks bad booze? “See now… it’s always been my toys people want. I knew it.” Again, the easy teasing turning into easy chatter to pass the time. Her responses were always mostly in expressions and stance. The things most people didn’t pay attention to, she said more than she thought when people took the time to pay attention. Depends how you choose to use it. It made him quiet a moment. Not really the time or place to explain that one. His was the ugly kind, the kind that couldn’t be seen, like cancer. Eating away at your insides until the pain became so unbearable it was like breaking your back trying to spit your own guts out. “There is no nice way to use it… except as a garage door opener or coat warmer for people too stubborn to wear layers outside in the New York winter cold.” The smirk was a dig, but also an effort to change the subject, but apparently the subject would not be changed. Expecting someone? No….I am not….. He didn’t want to hear that. …or the following gunfire. Cripes something was fucking with his mind sweeps, like two directions of waves fighting against each other in a pool. Interference in a radio signal. It was her, it had to be her. He was going to have to drop back ten and punt, he didn’t want to. This is where he didn’t want to go. This is why you find out what dogs are pissing on your lawn…. “Nobody like a gloater Mason,” even the chide seemed a laid back tease. You're bleeding. “Seems so, yes.” One injured…. four others trying to figure out what the hell to do next….. “You want them dead or alive?” Then she moved. “Damn it Mason,” gun moved down as she crossed in front of him, moving it back up when she’d cleared his aim. He couldn’t do this with her in front. “You’re not letting me be the gentleman.” More gunfire, unable to check where she was until her weight hit hard next to him just before his decision had to be made. One dead, one injured, three others trying to get their heads out of their asses….. “You want them dead or alive?” he asked again. “Breathing, talking? You’re going to have to specify because it makes a huge difference in what I do next..” In whether or not he seared their skin off and whether or not he passed out doing it. He was bleeding, a lot. Left side, not a good sign. He would have to focus to make sure nobody else was hurt in the process, but shit if he wasn’t going to die in his own gun shop from a bullet wound. “Time’s up, doing it my way.” Cheap last ditch shotgun clunked on the floor as he pulled himself up by what was left of the counter. “Do not move.” Their colored thermal blips were clearly in his brain. They’d backed off some, a little complication but not much. Holding his side, the other hand went up, and the room was silent. Nothing seemed to be happening, he whispered quietly, words foreign and unique… still nothing from outside until the first sound like a firecracker popped. A ping from one of his own ammo cases under the floor in front of him. Then one outside. More outside, swearing outside. Smell of toasting wood of what was left of the wall. They’d been reloading, waiting. More pops. He only had five seconds left. Within seconds came the sound of full out firecrackers and swearing as their ammunition exploded, then clattered, then nothing. He leaned on the counter to catch his breath. “Better call the cavalry. Dunno if there’s more on their heels. Bodies lying in the street in your territory not good either. They’re alive, just gonna puke their guts out when they come to before they die. Probably tell you everything, maybe not.” He didn’t explain any more, moving slowly to the sink to snatch a dusty towel and press it to his side, other hand balanced on the edge as he leaned forward and stared at his feet in silence. He was disoriented. Too long, too much, too wide… criss-cross of abilities. Bleeding as well. “You fine?” He asked quietly. “Lemme know when your people get here and I’ll open the locks. I might pass out. In that case there's a box for you in my truck out back. Was going to give you the rest of your souvenirs before we were so rudely interrupted.”
  13. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    Be even cheaper if nothing was broke in the first place…. “Stuff gets broken. It’s the way of things. The more you fight it, the more pissed off you get when it happens.” The fuck…. Her response to the attempted shake-down was expected, but not really worried about. He didn’t need protection, from puppish territorial wannabes or the big bad wolves. They hadn’t scared him off, they’d just cut off their own foot to spite their faces. Fingers nonchalantly rifled at the back of his hair needing a cut, that odd feeling again. The normally blond, perfectly careless hair was a big darker than usual. It always got that way when it got longer, a russet color with a slight curl. He added haircut to his list of things to do. 'ey… got a spook in Glendale doing shakedowns…I want intel by the time I get back tonight. “Don’t go and do that…” he said quietly, wiping his razor after he got dressed and put it away. We don’t operate like that… but I will find out who is. “I don’t care who is,” he said particularly to himself. “People do what they want. The only thing you can control is your own response.” He really didn’t care, leading the way down the stairs. ..huh….oh… ya… first tankers came in since the damn ice age finally subsided. Not been home for a shower yet… “Yah, shame on that freeze. Woulda been back a bit sooner, waited it out in Atlanta.” Walked actually…. “Well shit, looks like you carrying it all home,” it was a nonchalant tease. Of course he’d shelve it in the back to wait for pick-up. You forget to eat a few breakfasts while you were gallivanting? “Distinct lack of Waffle Houses down south nowadays.” Did she even know he could live outside civilization for as long as he wanted? Didn’t think he’d ever mentioned it. His own brow quirked at her expression. Had he ever really explained to her anything about himself other than cryptic nonchalant comments? Come to think of it, he didn’t think so. “My locks are electric, magnetic or frequency driven. Human garage door opener,” he divulged quietly. She didn’t miss a thing now, did she? It was that weirdness again prickling at his neck. She was doing something. Well…I was starting to wonder… Eyes watched her play with the bourbon a moment, trying to pick it out. She wasn't altered, not that he could tell anyway. It'd been bothering him for a year. It is not always the place…..ghosts and shadows have a way of following us…. “Some people never shake’em.” I rejected any of your good wares yet Boudreaux? His laugh was genuine. “That’s a loaded question,” strain in his voice was light. "Making fun of me Mason. Too skinny for you now is what you're sayin'" Lost weight, but not strength- lifting multiples out at a time to make sure they were undisturbed only to put them back and drop the door, lifting another. Firearms, still lined up on their racks, still perfect. Door was dropped, grabbing the handle of a broom stick from debris to sweep off another portion of the floor and lift another ring. “I wander every now and then. Always come back. Before shit went to hell, I got tired of the prince of Nola responsibility. Ya never have friends even though you’re surrounded constantly with people. Do they like you? Or your car? Your mansion?” The next had water damage. Odd. It was his store of repair tools and oils, so not much issue. Still. Eyes scanned the room for where it could have come from. “So I left. Mama was pissed. Pere was pissed. But I was happy. I'm happy when I wander.” It was like he’d never left. Easy, conversational as always. No weirdness or elephants in the room, filling the silence as he checked his inventory. “Hiked across the world. Top of Everest, almost lost my toes on that one, Holi Festival in India was my favorite. Just lived, went where the wind blew. World ended. Order found me, never saw my family again, became a beauty school dropout when I found out that those tchews were making human weapons out of us.” Door dropped and he moved on to the next. There were six total, spanning the floor of the front of the shop. The water damage worried him a bit, pulling the next door up hoping his antiques and handguns were okay. “Made it back to find everything was gone. My city underwater. Every once in a while I go back, to see if anyone tryin’ to find me. See what’s left. It’s a wanderlust that I can’t seem to shake.” Hands went to his hips, then fingers scratched the back of his neck as he looked into the storage. “Was self-sufficient before, after the Order… well ain’t gotta worry ‘bout me. Ever. Drop me in a z-infected forest I’ll get out in one piece.” He knelt down and pulled out an ammo box to open, carefully checking the contents. “No man should have my kind of destruction in their blood. Not right.” He didn’t specify what kind of destruction he could muster, eyes lifting toward the door, the pulse at his blink instinctual. People, moving fast. While chatting away he’d been sweeping the block every few moments. What followed was synchronized percussion, clicks and pops across the entire building as if a switch had been flipped. Screens that weren’t broken flickered to life, and every door in the building locked. “I am the locks cher.” Door dropped and he stood up, peering up at one of the screens, outside camera was out. Another mind sweep. He could see them, their heated shapes in mind’s eye about half a block away and closing. Less than seconds. “You expecting anyone?” It was first just a harmless ping, ignition of the gunpowder seen as a split second thermal blip in his mind, bottle of bourbon in her hand exploding as he grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground. Colors shattered through the front of his skull, the world ringing in visual cacophony. The amount of firepower felt like enough to cleave the building in two, peppering splintered wood in a waterfall down on their heads. The sound was deafening. More glass breaking, the spray of thunks into metal undoubtedly his shelves in the back and truck outside. Hiss of a radiator. Then silence. Tiny sprinkles of wood plinked off his neck, dust hanging in the air. The world was warped, vision skewed, ringing echo in his ears. Heel smashed the kickplate at the bottom of the front counter, buckling it, swiping his hand underneath. Scrape of metal was distinct, as was the rack of a shotgun that was now aimed at the shattered front window as he lay on his side, trying to focus. No movement from outside yet, map in his head frayed with interference every few seconds as he tried to piece together his mental map again. Damn that shit hurt. Gut stung, like a stitch when you were running. Shit. It hadn't come out, feeling the bullet pressing into muscle somewhere on his left side. Trying to save the bourbon. Ha. "They mad," he said under his breath, not intent on making light of the situation... only making sure she was still breathing. "I think they think this place is theirs." He never took his eye off the sight, the first shadow peeking in the busted window met with a blast to the throat and an instant rack for another shot. He didn't fuck around, listening to the semi-ruckus as they tried to figure out how to save a guy that wasn't dead instantly... a fairly gruesome way to go. "Ya'll can keep coming, I'ma keep killing. I don't miss," hand swiped again under the counter, a box of ammo coming out this time. "Shooting at a gun dealer is pretty high up on the list of dumb shit to do couillon." He glanced over at Mason. Lot of blood on the floor. Shit, it was his.
  14. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    There was something cathartic in the gentle scrape of razor edge against flesh; under the nose, around the lip, across the throat with wicked precision. Careful, purposeful, dangerous. Footsteps up the stairs were heard slightly over the scrape that reverberated quietly through his head, something else itching along with it. Itching him about her. He’d had a little over a year to ponder it, to sort it all out… their last encounter, the weirdness that crept up the back of his neck every time she peered over her glasses at him. Some kids had a party in ya place while you were vacationing it…. “They always do.” Stark evidence he’d done it before, and that this “holiday” was normal. He didn’t bug out and never return. He had anchors, and roots, albeit some far and wide. Razor tapped against the antiquated porcelain and slid carefully in small strokes over flesh again before swishing in water. Really should learn t' lock yer doors when you head out.... “Don’t have to fix the doors and locks now, do I… glass is cheap.” Voice was slightly distant, the stretch of vocal chords that signaled a blade was on his throat. He knew this game. Kids were kids, locked doors wouldn’t keep them out. Doors were expensive, locks were expensive. This upper apartment was simple enough people thought it was an empty apartment. A gun shop, very different. It got tossed every time. he'd learned to just leave the doors open, less expensive. “Wasn’t kids, not the first wave anyway.” Metal tapped again, pipes protesting slightly as he turned the wagon-wheel porcelain knobs and rinsed off the blade, setting it on the back of the toilet and draining the water from the sink. “Deal was no baggage. Shit comes sniffin’, I’m out.” It was partial truth, everything just converged at the same time. “Pay for protection,” his smirk was slight, peeling a dark gray Henley over his form, towel snapping off to finish getting dressed. “That’s what they tried to sell me.” He hung up the towel, returned the rest to his hiker’s pack, foot up on the side of the tub to tie his shoes. Hand unconsciously jingled the gris-gris on his wrist as he dug through his bag… a bottle… and stepped past her on his way out the door. “You’ve been at the docks,” he trotted down the stairs, rolling up his sleeves and flipping the bottle in his hand once. “Hope you have your usual driver, he’s going to need to help you load.” Course… when he left, he never really left. A shipment had been ready before he’d split. Small clicks across the foundation of the building signaled so many secrets she didn’t know about as he rolled the magnetic locks through his head and snapped them open. “Brought you a souvenir.” The scavenged bottle of bourbon was set on one of the glass covered counters for her to take, or leave, feet crunching quietly on debris as fingers found a loop on the floor and pulled up the trap door. Dirt and broken wood slid off in a waterfall as it was propped up, metal ammo boxes lined up neatly in the floor storage. “You thought I’d forget about you ya?” He was quiet for a moment, too many ghosts to talk about as he looked across his mess. “Sometimes the waters recede enough to get into the old quarter. Get past the gators and you find things nobody is crazy enough to go after. Sometimes just ghosts and shadows.” Another bottle of bourbon, some trinkets, a few other things he found that he'd give up based on how this welcome home party went were still in his truck. "A lot of ghosts and shadows this time," voice was quiet. He reached in and pulled out the first box. “You don’t want these cher they go on my shelves.”
  15. Don't Eat the Dead Ones

    The near scalding water was welcome, worked the creaks out of his bones. Water snapped off, the billowing steam had fogged the entire 20's style bathroom, tiny white tiles a slick trap that he was used to. Towel from his hiker's pack was quickly wrapped around his hips, the length overlapping a bit more than usual. He was leaner than normal, hip bones slightly protruding from the normally solid frame. It happened. Especially when he went on his excursions. Muscle fat dropped, muscles became lithe. He'd felt the wanderlust, the itch. Add to that some homesick and the fact dickheads were sniffing at his place, it was the perfect storm to bail. Halfway through the shave is when he heard the rap under his window. Padding over, he peered down, towel swiping over the cleanshaven half of his face. That didn't take long. Unlocked window was pushed open slightly, wisps of steam curling out. "Stairwell is open. Welcome back." Odd thing to say, like he never left. He didn't really, the window clicking closed again. She didn't know his habits, and they weren't really privy to any of them. He also didn't need their fucking permission for anything. Plus, they broke their deal. He got shit sniffing around, he was out. Back to getting rid of his beard, straight razor, the only proper way.