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Raeden (Rae) Seiko

Just Another Day at the Office....

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February 7, 2021 - 3pm

@Darius Kayne

 

She dropped to the floor for the third time, swearing in several languages under her breath as she watched one burly man in blue get knocked on his ass, thrown completely across the old Manhattan clothing warehouse. This was getting ridiculous.

 

Pushing into a seated position she pulled out her phone, hazel carefully tracking the blunt force object jetting around their crime scene. The minute it was answered she didn’t wait for a hello.

 

Detective Seiko… put me through to Atticus Gale.

 

Eyes kept tracking, a sharp "LANCE" catching her partner's attention causing him to dodge just in time for it to go whizzing past his head. A grumbled thanks was her reward as she listened to the woman on the other end of the line.

 

I understand he isn't there at the moment but I need to be patched through……

 

Scowl was instant as the high pitched answering dingdong on the other end kept talking.

 

What do you mean you are not authorized?! This is Detective Seiko, we call in Gale when there are artifacts located at crime scenes that need to be secured. This is an arrangement we have had for nearly two years now!

 

She was losing her patience with the woman. Something was going on at Pharos, or had happened to Gale personally. Either answer didn’t leave her thrilled but she still needed this damn thing under control. The woman was sharply cut off.

 

Listen… I could care less about your protocols. Just send over an agent that can deal with a hostile artifact. We got a carved metal mallet with a head the size of a German shepherd flying around my crime scene like its Thor's hammer on steroids. I got a body that seems to have been killed by it and two cops down as it targets every living things in general.

 

Breath paused as she suddenly dropped to her back and rolled quickly, the enormous head of the mallet striking where she had been sitting, shattering the concrete floor into dust and fragments of stone.

 

The old Ferrara Manufacturing warehouse on 39th….. get someone over here now!

 

The sharp tones never shouted and yet the woman on the other end barked a quick "yes M'aam" back at her. She had that effect on people. Phone snapped shut as she scrambled back to her feet as the two foot wide head of the hammer blasted through the side of a concrete pillar, sending shards in all directions like a wild spray of water. Fuck this was just getting better and better.

 

Pharos on its way… just need to keep it from escaping now….

 

There were groans from the four men still on their feet. They all made a silent prayer that Pharos got their asses there quick.

 

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“Kayne!”

 

In stormed Mr. Thorne, a short and squat man with an explosion of frosted red hair on his head. He wore an ugly green blazer, half buttoned to cover up a poorly-concealed coffee stain on the shirt underneath. It took all the willpower that Darius could muster not to roll his eyes or make a snide remark about this. Most days it wouldn’t be worth the effort to hold his tongue, but this time, he didn’t dare to open his mouth out of fear of further upsetting the man. Something about his demeanor suggested that a matter too serious for sarcasm was about to be discussed.

 

Thorne grabbed a chair from an adjacent, vacant stall and noisily dragged it over to the desk, earning several annoyed glances from the other agents in the room.

 

“Kayne – I’ve got five minutes to get you briefed for this, so keep your mouth shut until I’m done. You have a new mission.”

 

Mouth…shut… He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t stand for having his old mission ripped away from him so easily. He had to protect his pride.

 

“Wait! Sir, I haven’t finished the Reynolds Negotiations. Give me two more days, and we’ll have it. I’m close, I swear.”

 

And just like that, Darius knew he’d made a mistake. He should have kept his mouth shut like Thorne had told him to, but patience was far from his specialty in life. Especially when it involved his pride. In the duration of a tense pause that felt like hours, Thorne’s frustration turned to anger and anger to apparent rage, and when he spoke next, he raised his voice to its loudest, making a complete scene in the middle of the office.

 

“What did I tell you, boy!? Do you want me to find another agent? Admit it, the Reynolds Negotiations are a lost cause, so face the facts so we can send a qualified agent to the job. If you keep trying to bullshit your way through this, the higher-ups will have both our throats. Believe it or not, Kayne, I’m trying to help you, so take this damn mission and you might look like a half-decent agent for a while.” 

 

Now Thorne had Darius’s attention. He didn’t know what kind of mission this was, but it wasn’t a well-kept secret that his current mission, the Reynolds Negotiations, had severely fallen through over the past few days. At this point, although he would never admit it directly, he was just buying time to put off an almost inevitable failure. It would be a painful mistake to turn down an opportunity to get out of that mess and its impending consequences altogether, even if it meant admitting the truth of his situation to Thorne.

 

“I’m listening. What do you want me to do?”

 

Close enough to a confession, by his standards. It was a matter of his own pride, something that could never be handled bluntly or directly. Tact and word choice was everything.

 

“Finally you cooperate, boy. Right now, there’s a team of goveys being terrorized by an artifact in a warehouse. Described as ‘Thor’s hammer on steroids’, our contact says that it’s flying freely in there, targeting every living thing in sight. Your job is to do whatever it takes to get that thing contained.”

 

Goveys…. Of course it had to be goveys. Darius rolled his eyes, pushing the thought out of his mind, although he knew he’d have to deal with those fears later on.

 

“Sure thing, sounds easy enough.”

 

Thorne wordlessly gestured for Darius to get up, and without waiting for a response began walking at an alarmingly quick pace for a man of his build. By the time that Darius was standing up, Thorne was already almost out of the room, forcing Darius to scramble behind him to catch up. He couldn't tell whether this was a power play of some sort or simply a fast walking pace on the part of Thorne. Or both. With a sigh, Darius realized that he would probably never know the answer to that, as the moment had already passed. Time simply moved too quickly for too many questions.

 

“Your contact’s Detective Seiko. Her usual Pharos contact isn’t around right now, so you’re gonna do his work for ‘em. We’ve got a containment crew converging on the old Ferrara warehouse on 39th street, and you’re gonna lead ‘em.”

 

His eyes widened in shock. Could Throne be serious? Not once during his time in Pharos had Thorne been selected to be a leader.

 

“You mean… I’m leading this mission!?”

 

“You heard me, kid. Catalina didn’t train you to become some lame-ass follower. But don’t blow it. The last thing we need is an escaped hostile artifact on our hands.”

 

Both of their paces quickened instinctively at the mention of Catalina.

 

“Anyway, all we know is that it’s a hammer of some sort flying around a crime scene in the warehouse. It’s taken down at least two cops by now – probably more by the time you get there. There’s a lot of unknowns here, so unless someone can prove that they’re Pharos or a cop, don’t trust ‘em for a second. It’s a crime scene. Who knows what went down.”

 

“Will do, sir! I won’t let you down, I swear!”

 

Overtaken by a newfound sense of enthusiasm for this mission and obedience towards Thorne, Darius practically glided through the armory upon arriving in the room, gathering all the gear he could need, including a helmet, body armor, and a gun, just in case. All the while, Thorne continued to brief him for the mission.

 

Suddenly, an alarm went off on Thorne’s phone. He turned to Darius.

 

“Well, kid, that’s all the time we’ve got. I’ll reassign the Reynolds Negotiations to another agent and make ‘em take the fall for it, so you’re good to go. In the meantime, make Catlina proud.”

 

For the first time in… well… as long as he could remember, Darius actually felt a connection with Thorne. The two men hurried to a vehicle and Darius hopped in, waving goodbye to Thorne before making his way towards the warehouse.

 

As expected, he arrived at his destination within minutes and saw the crew that he would be working with: mostly complete strangers to him clad in body armor and helmets, but there were a few familiar faces in the mix. He looked around at his comrades and took a deep breath… no… not comrades.  His subordinates. Finally, he spoke.

 

“Alright, people. I hope you’ve already been briefed on this, ‘cause there’s no time to lose. We’ve got a warehouse down the street with a rogue artifact flying around attacking everything in sight. Our job is to get it contained, no matter what it takes. Don’t trust anyone who can’t prove they’re law enforcement or Pharos, and whatever you do, don’t let that hammer out of the warehouse.”

 

And with that, he made his way in the direction of the warehouse, ready to take on whatever challenges it may bring.

 

“Make Catalina proud.” Thorne’s words echoed through Darius’s mind.

Edited by Darius Kayne
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It seemed an eternity. Where the FUCK was the Pharos agent?

 

The thought zipped through her head as she dodged behind a concrete pillar for the hundredth time.  The party was down to her, Lance and two in blue. The other two had gone down with their counterparts, one was bleeding profusely from his temple and was going to need medical attention soon.  Pharos didn’t get here soon, she was going to be heading over there to threaten their asses. She had no qualms pitting them against ARMA and the Order who all wanted first dibs on new artifacts.  She didn’t give a shit who came so long as they were reliable. With Gale that had become Pharos hands down. But something odd was going on there, this was the second time Gale was "not available" which meant perhaps they were not the preferred partner in this anymore.

 

HEADS UP

 

Her call came barely in time for the blue to drop to the ground a split second before the mallet struck the wall he had been standing against, concrete block exploding in shards around him. With fewer targets it meant they were all forced to dodge much more frequently. They were getting tired.

 

NPC: We cant keep this up…..

 

Lance's breath was coming in labored heaves as he sat on the floor behind an old metal sewing table.

 

Well I am open to suggestions……

 

Shooting it hadnt had any effect and there wasn’t anything in the abandoned warehouse strong enough to trap it in…. at least not while it had that ridiculous momentum. Likely the way to get it under control was to halt its movement.

 

So who exactly was going to try and catch it?

 

Hammer hit another pillar and this time the entire concrete column exploded, shuddering the ground even outside the building.  As the debris flew she could hear the echo of something far more ominous. Another "heads up" was inhaled for a strong shout but she never had the chance as suddenly half the second floor gave way, the concrete ground dropping in massive chunks all around them, forcing a mass scramble from all those still on their feet. Those who had already been rendered unconscious would need to be found after. She wasn’t certain they were all clear of the rubble. They might have lost a blue.

 

Fuck……. just another day at the office…..

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A massive crashing sound was heard nearby and dust could be seen emerging from 2nd story windows of the warehouse. Yep… this was the one.

 

“Three….”

 

Darius stood at the employee entrance, holding up a hand ready to cue the containment crew’s entry. He didn’t know what he’d find inside, but he was using every last mental trick in the book to calm his nerves. More than anything, though, he felt exhilarated.

 

This was his chance, the moment he’d been waiting for – the very the reason he had joined Pharos in the first place. For years he’d been shoved into the background, assigned to easy, almost pointless missions that his superiors had taken far too seriously, holding every last one of his mistakes in them against him for months on end. Now, he finally had the opportunity to break away from that. He was an agent, not a pawn, and he was absolutely thrilled that someone had realized that. Still, he couldn’t help but ask himself why. Why had Thorne chosen today to give him a chance with leadership? Catalina seemed to be on the forefront of both Thorne’s mind and his own, but why?

 

“Two…”

 

He realized that he meant to be counting down with his fingers as well as his words, but he had forgotten to move his fingers accordingly, so he was merely holding up a hand for the entire containment crew to see. Fuck… He quickly put down three fingers so that he was only holding two up, and with his other hand, hidden behind his back, he crossed his fingers that none of the crew had noticed his mistake. A new leader like himself had to be taken seriously, and according to Thorne, this was Darius’s chance to prove himself as the leader he truly was. Perhaps the only chance he’d be getting for a long while, if not ever. Why today, though? Why!?

 

“One…”

 

Putting down another finger and leaving only his index finger in the air, Darius shook the thought out of his head. If all went well, there’d be plenty of time for thinking and processing later. He couldn’t let himself get distracted now. Not when Thorne had, for some unknown reason, gone through so much trouble to… Dammit! He grimaced as his mind began to wander again, and before it could get another chance to start questioning things, he put his last finger down and gave the order.

 

“Now!”

 

He grabbed and turned the door handle, shoving his body onto the door to give the momentum needed for it to open. It slammed open without struggle. He found himself in a lobby or waiting room of some sort, completely deserted, with a long hallway branching off of it. No sign of danger in this room, but there was a loud and threatening sound coming from very nearby. The sound of thumping, perhaps? No… toppling. The sound of toppling.

 

“This way. Come on!”

 

He allowed several members of the containment crew to move ahead of him for protection as they ran down the hall as quickly as they could while clad in their heavy body armor, with Darius and the rest of the crew close behind. There were chairs scattered across the floor of the hall, almost as through someone had tried to build a barricade of some sort, but the half-demolished makeshift barricades were no match for Darius’s physical training, as he leapt over them with ease. The one irritating thing about all of this was the dust. It was everywhere, getting in his mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. There just wasn’t any escape from it, and it hurt. Not horribly, but it certainly was a pain.

 

Finally, they reached a double door with no handle, lock, or doorknob. Just the kind that you push to open, and without hesitation, the agents in front of Darius did just that, charging into the room. Darius let the others enter before him, as he lagged back to make sure they were all present. When the last one went through, he braced himself to make his own entrance. The sounds of toppling, crashing, and shouting were closer than ever, but it was at this moment that he realized something: he wasn’t scared at all. Not yet, anyway.

 

3… 2… 1… NOW!

 

With a very quick countdown to psych himself up, he slammed through the door, just in time to see the horrific sight of the hammer slamming into one of agents, right in the shoulder. The blow knocked the agent back into a wall, hitting his head. His helmet still seemed solid, but he was knocked out, at least, and there was no time to check on his physical state.

 

Darius grinned at the sight of all the action. Now, it was time to prove his worth and get that damn artifact contained. Now, he could actually be useful for once.

 

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Anger was fueling action as she sprinted across rubble covered floors, scowling as she leapt over a blue clad arm sticking out from under a chunk of second floor concrete twitching. Dead blue.

 

Fuck.

 

Knee dropped and skidded along the floor as body momentum let her pivot the slide, back against the wall as her hand snatched the large duffle one of the cops had walked in with. Zipper was yanked open as she slammed her hands into it searching.

 

Where…..where…

 

Muttering to herself she sought the small shoulder MRO-A rocket launchers. It was usually used to blow down steel doors when they were after bad guys but in this case, she was willing to improvise.

 

Weapon perched on her shoulder as she pushed her knee hard into the ground for balance, tracking the hammer through the scope on top of the barrel. She wasn’t expecting miracles, but it would hopefully slow the damn thing down.

 

Ears itched at the scrape of the door opening up front. Either they had more bad guys coming through, or Pharos had finally gotten off their damn asses and had arrived.  Either way she didn’t have time to find out.

 

Tracking continued until she got the clear shot, which she only got because it was coming straight for her. Breath was slow then held in her chest s the head of the hammer was targeted. 3…..2…….1

 

Eruption of the missile was violent, pushing her back on the floor despite her braced position.  Projectile hit the front of the hammer with enough force to blow steel doors apart. Basic metal would have been shredded, but as expected the hammer was not basic metal.

 

Hammer was blown backwards with the force, spinning end over end before it slammed into the far wall.

 

Lance!.... still alive….

 

NPC:  Ya….'ey Seiko…. am officially putting in my week off starting now….

 

She couldn’t help the smirk at his humor.

 

Eyes flicked from the hammer still vibrating embedded in the wall to the scene around her. They had one dead for sure, likely more. As the large doors pushed open her gaze snapped to the agents, their embroidered badges giving them away.

 

About damn time……

 

Words barely got out before the hammer freed itself from the wall across the warehouse and targeted the fresh blood. Here they went again…………….

 

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Damn… no time for introductions or formalities. What a shame. That was the problem with chaos – it never gave him time to open his mouth.

 

It didn’t take long for Darius to realize that his gun would be almost useless in this situation. The hammer’s first strike at the team got it lodged in the concrete floor, mere inches away from his left foot.

 

It was vibrating wildly as it tried to free itself, cracks forming around its place in the floor. In a few seconds, chunks of cement would be flying everywhere in a 3-foot radius. Darius wasted no time in sprinting out of the way, leaving many of his teammates standing there. Some of them were even knocked off of their feet by the whiplash.

 

“Jablonski! Sirius! Cover me!”


Two agents rushed over to Darius’s side as the hammer charged at those remaining by the door. One of them was desperately trying to divert the hammer’s attention from a fallen agent, to minimal success. Only after crushing the agent’s foot did it launch itself at the other one.

 

Seeing this out of the corner of his eye, Darius breathed a sigh of relief. With a little luck, that should buy him the time he needed. As they ran forward, Jablonski muttered something to Darius.

 

NPC: “What’s the plan, Kayne? This thing’s stronger than we thought.“

                                                                                                    

“It’s a flying hammer, idiot! What did you expect!? C’mon, we don’t have the details yet.”

 

With the hammer still focused on the agents by the doorway, Darius soon made it to Seiko’s side of the warehouse. He gestured to his badge.

 

“Agent Kayne, Pharos. I need the who, what, when, and why on this hammer, now. And if you know anything about how it’s doing this, even better. Speak!”


He shot a nervous glance back at the hammer again. He had a feeling it wouldn’t remain on the other side of the warehouse for much longer...

 

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As Pharos nearly got their heads sliced off, her eyes rolled, huffed frown betraying she wasn’t impressed.

 

Wonderful… more "civilians" to save…..

 

Murmur was under her breath but elicited a chuckle out of Lance who had used the Pharos diversion to get back to her side, blood trickling down his cheek from his temple.

 

NPC:…we got a plan..?

 

Ya…. Let the hammer kill them for a while and see if any of the team…...

 

Voice trailed off as the head of this farce was suddenly there and yapping at them.

 

“Agent Kayne, Pharos. I need the who, what, when, and why on this hammer, now. And if you know anything about how it’s doing this, even better. Speak!”

 

Lance took a slow visible step away from the line of fire as her brow lifted at the man. If Gail wasn’t dead yet…. he would be for leaving her to the inept of the Pharos leftovers.

 

IF we knew what was powering it do you think we would have even called YOU?..... IF you are Pharos… shouldn’t you know those things?….  

 

There was a menacing staccato to her words as she stepped closer to the man.

 

IF you were worth anything as an agent, don’t you think that YOU should be telling me the facts?…

 

Step to the right was sudden as out of the corner of her eye she had been tracking the hammer, gliding out of its path at the last minute as she continued.

 

……IF artifacts are your specialty don’t you think that YOU should be confining that thing already?

 

Arm snapped out in the direction of the hammer as it exploded into the wall just beyond them, shards of concrete ricocheting through the air like small bullets. Huff through her nostrils dismissed the man as she dodged, the hammer coming back for the two of them. Hand snatched Lance by the shoulder to ensure he moved out of her way while not moving into the path of the hammer.

 

This was an absolute fiasco.

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Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. One look at the detective and Darius knew that he’d already fucked this up.

 

IF we knew what was powering it do you think we would have even called YOU?..... IF you are Pharos… shouldn’t you know those things?….

 

She stepped forward towards him. Darius stepped back in response, a nervous quiver running down his spine.

 

IF you were worth anything as an agent, don’t you think that YOU should be telling me the facts?…

 

Now it was getting personal. He bit his tongue to hold back any words that he’d later regret saying.

 

Thorne wouldn’t have sent Darius in the first place if he wasn’t worth anything as an agent …right…? With a shake of his head, Darius pushed the thought out of his mind. There’d be plenty of time for second-guessing and reminiscing later, but now his problems had just doubled. A rogue artifact AND an angry govey - he didn’t know which to be more afraid of.

 

Fuck it… He opened his mouth to speak.

 

Need I remind you that you… AGH!

 

Almost as a reminder of its imminent threat, the hammer swooped past him. It took him by surprise and he barely ducked in time, breathing a sigh of relief as it passed over his head without harming him.

 

……IF artifacts are your specialty don’t you think that YOU should be confining that thing already?

 

He covered his face with his arms to hide from a rain of concrete bullets. When the dust cleared, he looked forward to see the hammer stuck behind a pipe.

 

With an exasperated sigh, Darius seized his chance to let loose with his words. The time to worry about consequences was over - this lady was REALLY pissing him off, and with the hammer stuck, how could he pass up this moment?

 

You’ve got a lot of nerve, lady, begging Pharos for help, then talking all that smack at me when I show up.

 

The pipe cracked as the hammer attempted to work its way out of it. A jet of steam burst into the air, clouding vision in the nearby area and raising the temperature a few degrees within a matter of seconds.

 

That thing isn’t gonna hold for long, and you know it. I agreed to contain the artifact, not babysit your incompetent cops. Maybe I can help you out as an added bonus, but you’ve gotta learn some decent respect first and tell me those goddamn details so I can do my fucking job here. Don’t underestimate me, Detective Seiko. Especially not when you need my help.

 

His voice took on a darker and more menacing tone as he said this, staring Detective Seiko right in the eye. Suddenly, he flashed a bright smile and the twinkle in his eyes returned.

 

So what do you say? Friends?

 

He extended a hand for her to shake, just as the hammer broke out. The entire section of the pipe shattered, setting the hot steam loose all over the area.

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The guy was green, that much was clear to her as he didn’t hold his ground when she stepped closer. Where the fuck was Gale?  Her agreement to call Pharos first was with him, not the actual Pharos organization. Come to think of it, she wondered if Gale didn’t keep some of those for himself rather than share with his company higher ups.

 

As the greenhorn started to speak the artifact was again whipping around dangerously close to skulls. It shattered concrete when it embedded itself just behind the old steam pipes.

 

You’ve got a lot of nerve, lady, begging Pharos for help, then talking all that smack at me when I show up.

 

Lance visibly cringed and stepped away from his partner, fully aware this yahoo had just stepped so far over the line it would not be recoverable. He could feel her gaze narrow at the agent.

 

That thing isn’t gonna hold for long, and you know it. I agreed to contain the artifact, not babysit your incompetent cops. Maybe I can help you out as an added bonus, but you’ve gotta learn some decent respect first and tell me those goddamn details so I can do my fucking job here. Don’t underestimate me, Detective Seiko. Especially not when you need my help.

 

The smug smile that broke over his expression nailed the coffin. He didn’t get a chance to make his peace offering.

 

Get…. the fuck…… out of my crime scene.

 

The low growl held an ominous vibrato that made her partner step another long stride away, expression to the agent simply shrugging as though to say "you asked for it".

 

You fuck ups wanted first calls for these damn things. THAT’S why you got called. No one fuckin' begging for your ass to be here. My "incompetent" cops DIED containing that thing from being unleashed on the city and its citizens. So you can go fuck yourself and get the hell out of MY crime scene.

 

Pharos was not a law enforcement organization and therefore had no rights to any crime scene. She had full jurisdiction here. Spinning she glared at the steam beginning to leak from the pipe, it was breaking loose again. Eyes flicked to Lance as the order barked at him.

 

Get the Order on the phone…. let them come get this damn thing.

 

There was more than one faction in the city desperate to get their hands on these enhanced artifacts.  She had loyalties to neither and was content to pit them against each other. With her regular Pharos contact AWOL, perhaps it was time that the Order was her go-to for a while. Lance merely shook his head as he pulled out his phone and scrolled through his contacts for the Order.

 

As if on cue the hammer found its freedom again, ricocheting off a wall before seeking once more anything that moved. Dropping to the ground she pressed her spine against a fractured concrete pillar to rummage in the swat bag for another explosive to load in the cannon, under her breath a bevy of swears in several languages growled from her chest.

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Starts at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Same Time.

 

His eyes drooped slightly, a soft wool blanket on his lap.  The fire mage was often cold, and during the winter in his underground "lair”, the goliath labyrinths’ temperature hovered at a consistent sixty five degrees- it didn’t help matters much.  He was too humble to ask for another place to stay.  The rustic wool blankets in his simple lodging helped, at least a little. 

 

Thoughts were fuzzy, almost into the state where the vividness of his usual nightmares kept him from ever truly being rested.  Even that sometimes was fleeting as his book began to slip unintentionally from his fingers.  When something startled most people, they jumped, flailed, cried out, followed with sheepish laughter or a snarky response to the perpetrator.  The sudden slap of the cover on the floor startled him back to the world.  Unmoving.  He didn’t jump, or flail... he simply became acutely aware.  Years of ingrained servitude and deathbringing made him lethal, mercurial eyes sliding to glance at the book, the nearly silent phone ringing on the small side table next to the bed.

 

He was a “ringer almost off” kind of guy.  Relished his silence, his simplicity.  It was all that seemed to keep him from exploding anger into a million different directions lately.

 

Nothing was said as he answered; the least amount of words his Order mole could say gave him the exact situation.  Something he could use and add to his hoard of growing artifact treasure.  An arsenal with a purpose only he knew.  Definitely useful, and the place was really close.

 

The emergent Smaug answered with a simple “noted”, and returned the phone to its spot. He’d found out the hard way his amulet didn’t protect items that weren’t clothing, and several cell phones later he just decided to leave it in his room when he went out.

 

Dark jeans, black Tims and a gray hoodie, the magus ghosted from the building to climb.  Whether it vertical, or a flat out run, his training was formidable.  He preferred cover and covert, but he could hold his own in a brawl; rough if he had to.  There was an elegance to violence he preferred, not because he liked it, but because in his eyes death should be delivered quickly. Law of minimal motion.  Painless.  Efficient.  His body moved that way.

 

He felt the tremble even as he made his way across the rooftops, hopping to the fire escape and sliding effortlessly into a glass-less window.  Cop and other cars were around it on the ground level.  Pharos maybe.  Nobody was looking up, or in the top area of the building. Serious, or contained.  From the groan of the building, definitely serious and not contained.  As he alternated between swinging from landing to landing and sliding down the railings of the emergency stairs, the dust was rising upward.  Through shouts, sounds of concrete being broken, a hole in the second floor to the first, the occupants of the hammer’s hell suddenly found a silent new form in the middle of the dusty haze as he dropped though the hole.  Silent landing most likely left him unnoticed for a moment as he surveyed the scene, eyes peering from under his hood found Seiko first.  Not expected.

 

Abandon ship.  Time to leave.

 

They could have this artifact.  This cop was too good at being nosy and he didn't want to visually be on their radar a second time.

 

People had died though. He could smell it, the wet iron against the dust a unique scent.

 

Eyes narrowed slightly, he couldn’t leave people to die.  He was going to regret this, deep breath increasing the heat around him until he could feel the pull of cold air rushing to his position, and he pushed it upward in a billow of flame.  Heat rising through the break in the ceiling, it pulled the lingering dust in the air with it to clear the view slightly of how many people were actually in there, and giving him his first look at the thing that was wrecking the building.

 

Hand snapped outward just in time, the standoff not something he was expecting so quickly, the hammer’s head almost to his palm and being held off by a small domed shield of flame reminiscent of the inside of a blast furnace.  His feet were sliding backwards as he held it in place, simply because he himself wasn’t heavy enough to push against the thing’s momentum. He wasn't trying to.  It gave him a second to get a good look at it before he let it go and snapped sideways to let it pass and sink into the wall.

 

Why target him?

 

Exposed?

 

Attracted to heat sources maybe, that’s why it was attracted to people and not the walls?

 

He didn’t move from his position in the open. Maybe it was attracted to movement.

 

Sound?

 

“Who am I talking to?” he said quietly, watching it angrily try to free itself but speaking to whoever was in charge in the room.  "What have you tried?"

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You fuck ups wanted first calls for these damn things. THAT’S why you got called. No one fuckin' begging for your ass to be here. My "incompetent" cops DIED containing that thing from being unleashed on the city and its citizens. So you can go fuck yourself and get the hell out of MY crime scene.

It took about 30 seconds for the words to sink in. He stormed back across the warehouse on the cusp between denial and anger. For a second he stopped to look back, entertaining the thought of putting up a fight for a second chance. As the hammer broke free, though, he whirled back around and continued his walk of shame.

 

She asked for this. Her own damn fault when she blows herself to bits...

 

Try as he might, he couldn’t deny it that he’d fucked up. Stupid stupid stupid… how much of an idiot could he be? He’d dealt with people in that kind of mindset before, and he’d dealt with them flawlessly. Why did this time - the one time he actually had something to prove - have to be the exception?

 

It’s not like he was a stranger to mistakes, but this time he had no Catalina or Thorne to save his ass. This was it - his decisions had consequences, and this one had caught up with him already. If only Catalina was there - she would have known what do. By now, she would have the hammer wrapped up in a box, neatly tied with a cherry on top.

 

Who knows what Thorne would have done, but at least the guy would have known what he was doing. Was he even altered? Either way, he would have had a number of words for Darius - none of them pleasant. Didn’t help his case one bit. Catalina, on the other hand, would at least have some words of wisdom about all this.

 

There’s nothing to prove yapping and whimpering every time someone slaps you on the wrist. It’s easy. Just dodge the punches until the enemy lets its guard down, then strike. You’re an opportunist, Darius. Embrace it.

 

Yes. That was exactly what she would have said. And she wasn’t wrong in the slightest. This battle wouldn’t be over for him until Darius left that warehouse for good, and that certainly wouldn’t be happening until he was either dead, arrested, or successful in the mission. Seiko and the police force weren’t remotely equipped for dealing with this artifact on their own, and the Order had at least a reasonable drive to get to the warehouse. There was always a chance for a new opportunity to arise. An opportunist could never just abandon hope like that. In the meantime, Seiko was at the mercy of Pharos and the hammer.

 

NPC: Are you just gonna stand there, or are we gonna get the fuck outta here?

 

Darius whirled around, glaring at Sirius.  

 

Who do you think I am, leaving a mission unfinished?


NPC: Seriously? You really think you can get away with disob….

Before he could finish, Darius interrupted, crisply and clearly.

 

Don’t test me. It’s in your best interest to obey your goddamn orders. Make yourself useful and get ahold of some sort of kinetic vacuum artifact - that’ll give us some protection at least.

 

Before saying another word to further piss off Darius, Sirius left the room to make his way to the vehicles.

 

In the meantime, Darius barely dodged the hammer, ducking under a pile of rubble just in time. As he looked up, he saw an unfamiliar face in the mix, and quite nearby, too. How did that stranger get into the room without anyone noticing? Did he have something to do with the loose artifact?

 

“Who am I talking to? What have you tried?”

 

As the hammer launched itself back across the room, he stood up, taking a step towards the stranger. He snapped his fingers for the man’s attention.

 

Hey! You! Yeah, you! Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing here? The name’s Kayne, and it’s awfully suspicious of you, just popping up out of nowhere on a crime scene. You’d better have some answers for me right now.

 

He watched the man distrustfully, ready to leap out of the way should he need to, all the while keeping a keen eye on the stranger’s every movement.  

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While her partner made the call to the Order, under her breath the array of languages continued to growl nasty expletives at the Pharos inept who stormed back to his people like a sulking child. If he knew what was good for him, he would walk out and not look back. Next time she got a hold of Gale he was going to get an earful. If this was their service, she was done calling Pharos.

 

MRO-A rocket was slammed into the barrel of the small shoulder launcher as the hammer made another devastating impact half demolishing another pillar. Soon the concrete second floor was going to come crashing down and containment would no longer be her problem.

 

She listened as the Pharos inept tried to grow a set of balls with his own people. She was unimpressed.

 

She slid forward onto a knee, launcher perching on her shoulder, sighting the moving object with a frightening accuracy as she let the world begin to fall away, site enhancing, zooming in and tracking. It was then hazel caught the motion almost the instant the form joined them. Brow quirked upward as her eye came off the site to look at him.

 

….you?

 

He was Order?  Well that was….. unexpected. Their brief encounter had not left her with any data that said "Order", her gift normally picked up on the slightest details of people. Everyone was a crime scene, a glint of a pin, shadow of a ring, mud on shoes, it was a bit of a curse but useful in her line of work.

 

He… had been a bit of an enigma.

 

An enigma that suddenly billowed heat throughout the floor, a heat that as she focused, she could see push air back against the oncoming artifact. She watched the feet slide as he let heat shield him from the attack. It was all in a split second but the slowed motion let her focus and get a good look at the carved metal head. Markings were unique….. celtic but not really.

 

“Who am I talking to? What have you tried?"

 

Lips parted as the launcher remained perched on her shoulder, but before sound was released the Pharos snapped fingers at the man like he was beckoning a dog.

 

Hey! You! Yeah, you! Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing here? The name’s Kayne, and it’s awfully suspicious of you, just popping up out of nowhere on a crime scene. You’d better have some answers for me right now.

 

He's your replacement….

 

The snarl was dangerously under her breath. While she had perhaps not picked up that the man was Order at the time, she had definitely picked up he was not someone to fuck with. The display of power was, she suspected, minor compared to what he could really do.  This Pharos guy was going to get his ass handed to him by someone for sure today.

 

You're talking to me.

 

There was an authority in the tone that dared the Pharos baulker to contradict her.  Movement up from her knee was fluid even with the small launcher on her shoulder.

 

Well… skulls don’t do much to stop it, concrete just traps it momentarily and only when its embedded from its own momentum.  Small projectile explosive….

 

Hand pushed the launcher slightly up to indicate its presence.

 

… only cause a deviation in direction but have no perceivable impact on the artifact itself…. not so much as a scratch….

 

Short swear whispered from her chest as the hammer freed itself once more, spinning away as it whizzed by her head and send the Pharos team diving for cover.

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The words “kinetic vacuum” hadn’t escaped his ears as he’d dropped through the collapsed bit of ceiling.  It had already begun to turn wheels in his head, simultaneous with the need to leave and not engage Seiko- and the realization people had indeed died in the room they were now standing in.  He could feel it, like some kind of force pushing against his personal bubble.  When he’d let it go a few seconds prior, it was viciously fast.  He had a few ideas, raveled with what Darius’ colleague seemed to be fetching from a vehicle.

 

It was the snapped fingers that drew the eyes in a quick flick to Darius, keenly aware that the thing was trying to move again. 

 

Hey! You! Yeah, you! Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing here? The name’s Kayne, and it’s awfully suspicious of you, just popping up out of nowhere on a crime scene. You’d better have some answers for me right now.

 

He's your replacement….

 

…glance moved then to the rocket launcher on Seiko’s shoulder. 

 

He hated guns… err… rocket launchers… whatever the hell it was classified as.  The plan in his head was stupid, and it would probably get him killed.  But, it might definitely work.

 

You're talking to me.

 

A single, mocking snap of his own fingers answered Kayne, who he’d surmised was either Pharos or Arma.  The brief flame that flashed and extinguished on command answered pretty much any questions they needed to know.  Maybe it was irritation, or his recently burgeoning temper, but he suddenly had the urge to sucker punch the man to shut him up.

 

“I’m the fucking Order,” he said quietly anyway, once nodding to both of them indifferently as he kept his eyes on the rogue artifact.

 

Cursing, was also new for him.  It felt good.   A sucker punch would make him feel better, dark expression back to Darius.

 

Well… skulls don’t do much to stop it, concrete just traps it momentarily and only when its embedded from its own momentum.  Small projectile explosive….  … only cause a deviation in direction but have no perceivable impact on the artifact itself…. not so much as a scratch….

 

He was afraid of that, attention back on their problem.  It was going to move and he didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it, hands immediately pulling apart to produce a veil of blue flame within them as it whizzed by Seiko and sent Pharos ducking.  He released it as it sped through, whizzing through and dissipating the flame like a bull through a red cape.  It angrily sped faster on its path and slammed into the wall with a threatening shudder. 

 

“Kayne’s right.  It’s kinetic.”

 

Hood pulled down quickly and he started to shrug off the worn gray hoodie and toss it to the side, it was going to get in the way.  He was oddly young for a stuffy Order member.

 

“Projectile changes the direction, explosive is probably not hot enough to impact its speed like I just did.”

 

He was thinking out loud.  It potentially was catastrophic, it couldn’t get out- but that was a given.  It was going to go until it knocked the damn building down.  They couldn’t keep standing around, they had to try something.

 

“If Kayne has the “kinetic vacuum” he mentioned, we could most likely stop it.  It would take all three of us to get it where we can "catch" it… unless one of you screws up and gets me killed, then it’ll probably kill both of you… or the building collapses first.  I think I can stop it, but only for a few seconds if Kayne has what he thinks he has.  We can shut it down long enough to contain it.... It also had to be in something before it started flopping around out here.  A box maybe that kept it bound... maybe?  That'd be a start?”

 

That was one part of being in the most inner circle of the Order was good for.  He'd seen some of the craziest artifacts that existed.  Everything could be bound somehow, and it was usually what it was stored in before some jackass opened it.

 

"Badge knocks it into me with that...thing.  I stop it, Kayne binds it, Badge stuffs it back in the box.  Kayne takes it home.  If you can find the box."

 

This was... the worst idea ever.  He was going to have to let it hit him before he could stop it.  But, it was the only idea.  Broken ribs. He'd have a few when this was done...

 

"It's your crime scene, find the damn box."

 

It was unclear who the comment was directed to.  He wasn't going to stand around twiddling his thumbs until Kayne's companion made it back, quietly and carefully picking his way through the rubble.  He knelt every so often in the growing dusty haze to whisper last rites in Latin to those he found that were now beyond life.  He was here for them, after all… right?  That’s why he’d stayed.

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He’s your replacement…

 

Of course he couldn’t ask a single question without that damn govey having to make some sort of snide remark. At this point he’d given up on impressing her - all that mattered was getting that hammer. Hopefully this stranger wouldn’t be getting in the way of that .

 

A snap of the fingers cleared his concerns almost at once, filling his head with a new cocktail of thoughts and concerns.

 

I’m the fucking Order.

 

His newfound relief and budding fears were at once confirmed. A wild card had just come into play, giving Darius a second chance under a new, uncertain set of conditions. A new chance, a new challenge.

 

Well… skulls don’t do much to stop it, concrete just traps it momentarily and only when its embedded from its own momentum.  Small projectile explosive…. … only cause a deviation in direction but have no perceivable impact on the artifact itself…. not so much as a scratch….

 

He couldn’t help but roll his eyes, halfheartedly hoping the detective would see.

 

It’s fast, it’s strong, and it’s brutal. Thing is, it doesn’t stop that easily, so it keeps smashing around. Lucky for us, Pharos has something for that.

 

He took a few casual steps forward, towards his audience of two, gesturing conversationally and engagingly, almost forgetting the danger he was in.

 

We call it a kinetic vacuum, a device to deprive a kinetic artifact of motion and impact. In short, something to trick it into thinking it’s still flying across the room, when in reality it’s stuck up against the device. Still with me?

 

He glanced between Seiko and this strange new Fire Magus to gauge their understanding of what he’d just said, but before he could get a reply, he fell to the ground to dodge the hammer accompanied by a veil of blue flames. Honestly… that thing was starting to get on his nerves, and now fire!? He hated fire.

 

Kayne’s right. It’s kinetic.

 

He couldn’t hide the massive, proud grin on his face as he stood back up.

 

Projectile changes the direction, explosive is probably not hot enough to impact its speed like I just did.

 

In short, he had the upper hand. Or at least, he would when he managed to get ahold of the kinetic vacuum. He knew he was being selfish in his thoughts, but the guilt of that was a beast to be dealt with later. For the time being, motivation was motivation, regardless of its roots.

 

If Kayne has the “kinetic vacuum” he mentioned, we could most likely stop it.  It would take all three of us to get it where we can "catch" it… unless one of you screws up and gets me killed, then it’ll probably kill both of you… or the building collapses first.  I think I can stop it, but only for a few seconds if Kayne has what he thinks he has. We can shut it down long enough to contain it.... It also had to be in something before it started flopping around out here.  A box maybe that kept it bound... maybe? That'd be a start?

 

A box...of course! But he had to wonder how it escaped in the first place. Was it human error, a faulty box, or an intentional crime? He didn’t know which case would be worse. What kind of monster would set something so dangerous loose into the world? There were only a few feet of cement between that deadly artifact and a city full of innocents.

 

Badge knocks it into me with that...thing.  I stop it, Kayne binds it, Badge stuffs it back in the box.  Kayne takes it home. If you can find the box.

 

And there it was… a clear-cut path to victory, assuming Seiko wouldn’t protest. He kept his fingers crossed, comparing her obvious spite for him against her obsession with her duty. He wouldn’t bet on either if this was a gamble.

 

I like you, I think, but when this is all said and done, I’m gonna have a lot of questions for ya about all this...

 

It's your crime scene, find the damn box.

 

He turned to his own agents - the ones who were still standing, at least.

 

You heard him, people! I want that box in my hands pronto. Go!

 

Whoever this guy was, he was Darius’s one shot at a mission well-done. Not to mention, finding the box before Seiko would be the icing on the cake. 

 

Seeing a tipped shelf under a slab of concrete, he and two agents struggled to lift the slab off the ground. Turned out to be of little use, with a few small wooden boxes revealed, none of which big enough to hold a hammer like that. Further in the shadows, though, was something that Darius regretted laying his eyes on: the wide-eyed corpse of a fallen law enforcement agent. One who was must have been stricken before Pharos arrived at the scene. Couldn’t be older than 25… poor kid. With a sad sigh, Darius signaled for his people to lower the slab back down. This box hunt just wasn’t fun anymore.

 

He muttered to himself.

 

Dammit Kayne… Don’t look at the bodies.

 

Shaking the thought at his head, he got back to work, keeping a sharp eye on the hammer for any activity from it. It made a bound for one of the agents who helped him lift the slab, but he jumped out of the way just in time, giving it safe distance from Darius.

 

Don't fail me now, Sirius...

 

That kinetic vacuum just couldn’t come soon enough.

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