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May, 2010... Fantasy became reality. Worlds overlay for the briefest moment. Outworlders became stranded on earth as more than half the human populace vanished. Our World, our universe, was transformed.

Fiction is now reality. Humans and those now bound to this world will either learn to coexist, or battle for supremecy.

April 27, 2019 - Family emergency finally calming down. Hope to get going again shortly. Thanks for understanding. ~ZEPH


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  1. Yesterday
  2. Ugh one more plane for an hour and a half then an hour drive... and home sweet home lol soooo achy

  3. Ryan Harker

    Chasing Ghosts

    There was no answer across the comms channel. Seconds passed and the fear something may have gone wrong began to creep into Harker’s mind. He usually tried to use plain English when speaking to non-military personnel over the radio, but as doubt added stress the Soldier instinctively leaned on his prior training. “I say again, move up to me and secure the target. How copy? Over.” “On my way. Exit is compromised but still passable. Car is still clear.” Rorye’s voice soothed the operative’s concern. “What do you mean it’s compromised?” Harker asked, the details of her answer would be important. Her definition of ‘compromised’ or ‘passable’ might be very different from his own. In order to accurately assess their situation, he would need further detail. “Might be useful,” he heard over his shoulder. Off hand was held open, but the operative’s gaze remained trained on the entrance. An earpiece was placed into his palm. Then his partner set to work. Fast paced footsteps echoed softly behind him, back and forth as Rorye searched the dwelling. Harker monitored the enemy’s radio traffic. They had two teams on the objective, a roving perimeter team, and an entry team. Unsurprisingly, neither element was responding. Reinforcements were on their way. “They have reinforcements enroute, ETA two mikes.” “We have to burn it all. We can’t let them take anything more than what they already have. This place is a tinderbox with all this. Won't take much to set it off." “Once you’ve secured the artifacts we need, set this place to blow.” Ryan directed over comms. Rifle was topped off with a fresh magazine. At the direction of the Order of the First Light, these criminals had managed to track down a paranoid occults-dealer like Remy. They captured him, tortured him, killed him, and then raided his coffers. Now, the same people had found Rorye. A process destined to repeat itself if action wasn’t taken. Ryan was a man of action. “I’m taking the fight to them,” he said rising from his crouch. “Stay alert just in case one of them gets past me. Let me know when your ready to light the fuse.” Cheek to his rifle’s buttstock, Harker strode briskly out of the bunker and into the small clearing outside. Encountering no resistance, he then turned left and trotted into the tree line. Sliding into the dirt near the base of a tree, the Soldier propped himself up into a prone fighting position. A hurried hand reached into one of the pockets in the lining of his coat. An 8-inch matte black cylinder was produced from the hidden pouch. Ryan threaded the silencer onto the end of his barrel. An extra quarter turn to ensure it was fastened tight. The additional length was a bit unwieldly in close quarter engagements, but perfect for maintaining concealment on an open battlefield. Harker surveyed the clearing that led to the hideout’s entrance. Two black SUV’s were parked not far from the main doorway; abandoned with their owners now deceased. Aside from the deserted utility vehicles, there wasn’t much else in the way of cover along the open expanse. Headlights could be seen in the distance. The enemy was close. The operative hunkered low into the dirt and took aim at the approaching convoy. “This is everything,” Rorye’s voice crackled in his ear. “Copy, let me know when you’re set,” Ryan answered quietly. Two more dark SUV’s broke away from the main road and drove into the clearing. The vehicles paralleled one another, rolling slowly into the field and parking behind the first set of trucks. An instant before the vehicles came to a complete stop, a cloud of gray smoke plumed suddenly in front of the bunker’s entrance. Harker raked the closest SUV with an automatic burst from his assault rifle. A muffled sputtering sound escaped the silenced barrel, but nothing else. Windows fractured and shattered, and holes were punched along the utility vehicle’s flank. Empty magazine was exchanged for a fresh cartridge and the Soldier was on the move. Disorganized shouts bellowed into the indifferent night as men extricated themselves from their vehicles. “Contact front! Contact front!” and “Fuck, I’m hit!” were distinguishable amongst the chaotic cries. Sable clad mercenaries stooped behind their vehicles, facing the bunker. Many of them were firing aimlessly into the veil of smoke concealing the shelter’s entrance. Within seconds of the initiating the ambush, Harker had maneuvered behind the enemy’s reinforcements. Creeping out of the shadows, he advanced on their position, rifle at the ready. Another magazine was emptied into the men’s backs, catching most of them unprepared. There was a second’s pause in operative’s rate of fire as another clip was loaded seamlessly into his weapon. His forward movement unhindered by the reload. “Contact rear!” One of the mercenaries managed to cry out before being felled by another burst from the agent’s rifle. The two remaining men turned and began spraying bullets in Ryan’s direction. The Soldier continued to press the attack, slipping and ducking sporadically as he relied upon his sixth sense to guide his path. When his rifle clacked empty, it was cast aside. Proximity between him and his foe was too close to reload. Pistols were pulled from their holsters without hesitation, and Ryan killed the next man with sheer weight of fire. One mercenary remained in the fight. He and Harker were on opposite sides of the second vehicle, exchanging fire through the SUV’s windows. They circled the vehicle clockwise, taking turns crouching and shooting for a few moments. As they moved, Harker’s boot caught on one of the many bodies that now littered the battlefield. He cursed aloud and fell almost comically before rolling smoothly back to his feet. Hearing him stumble, the last fighter attempted to seize the advantage by charging hastily around the vehicle. The mercenary was already firing when he rounded the SUV’s rear corner, but Ryan was waiting. A single, well placed shot took the last man’s life. Head snapped backward and he toppled lifelessly to the ground. The entire engagement had lasted only about sixty seconds. Ryan inhaled deep and then let loose a heavy sigh. Time resumed its normal pace as the operative’s adrenaline began to calm. Pistols were swiftly reloaded and holstered. Then he strode calmly back to his discarded rifle and recovered the weapon. Radio in Harker’s ear squawked. Someone was demanding a status update for the slain strike team. The agent recognized the voice, the boss from earlier that evening. He answered with a false Russian snarl, “Your men are dead. If you come after anymore of Remy’s property, or his contacts, I will kill you… I found you once already Mr. Hanes… I can find you again.” Ryan removed the enemy’s radio from his ear and tossed it carelessly. Hopefully, the man would be fearful enough to avoid going after Rorye. At the very least it would buy her some time. Ryan then spoke to Rorye, voice resuming its normal tone. “Outside is all clear. I’m walking through the front door now. How are we looking inside?”
  4. Last week
  5. WE HAVE REVAMPED AND ARE WAITING FOR YOU TO JOIN THE FUN! It's been a while since our doors have opened, but now we're back and we're ready to play the game all over again! The schools are still the main focus of the board and plot , but we do accept -- and welcome! -- townies and staff members so that we have an all-inclusive RP that celebrates the whole city in the world we've created! So drop on in and see if we're a good fit for you! Remember that we are an OOC age 16+ board so everyone is welcome! ( home ) | ( plot ) | ( rules ) | ( groups ) | ( wanteds ) | ( adverts ) | ( discord )
  7. Ryan Harker

    Cold night in hell...

    “You alive?” “I’m fine,” Harker answered, though he wasn’t really. Body ached in painful protest as he climbed to his feet. The girl seemed to recoil away from him when he did. The Soldier took a moment to evaluate his condition. Bones were rattled but intact, laceration on the back of his head, vision and breathing were normalizing. Mechanically everything was working well enough, though he probably had a concussion. Ryan looked to the girl. She was frightened, but otherwise appeared to be unharmed. He had witnessed the vampire’s attempt on her life. Seen the aura of mana that scaled her flesh to withstand the assault. She was a magus, though not of the typical variety. Her manipulation of energy into physical form was instinctual, not a spell cast. This made her unique, unlike anything he had seen before. The mage-hunter searched the immediate area, enchanted goggles still allowed him to see through the lightless dark. Swiveling head stopped when he found his displaced weapon. He walked a few steps and scooped his pistol from the floor. A quick function check of the firearm was conducted, then he glanced back to the girl. When he spoke, irritation laced his words. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?” Harker ejected the magazine from his pistol and performed a tactical reload. Magazine of enchanted silver munitions was exchanged for one loaded with wooden bullets. They would be more effective against his current quarry, but the single clip of wooden rounds was all he had. If he could put just one of them into the vampire’s head, or heart, he would be able to slay it. Otherwise, his only chance of killing the creature was to burn it alive or decapitate it in hand to hand combat. Neither option had a realistic chance of success. The hunter would have to be disciplined with his shot placement. “Stay close and stay behind me,” Ryan told the girl. He wasn’t wasting any time. They had to kill the monster before it healed enough to resume the offensive. Now that it knew their abilities, Ryan doubted they would survive another confrontation with the vampire at full strength. “It has our scent,” He explained as they moved deeper into the warehouse. “If we run, it will hunt us down, and kill us both…” Weapon was at the ready as the agent paced quickly through the warehouse corridors. “I shattered its pelvis, but if we let it feed, it will heal, and it will kill us both. The only way we live through this is if we find it, and kill it, before it has a chance to feed… It won’t run, it needs us dead.” Their pursuit of the creature took them deeper into the building. Outside the storm raged on. Furious winds still howled against warehouse’s metal walls. The sheet-metal creaked and moaned but refused to yield to the violent gale. The noise made it difficult, if not impossible, to hear movement or footsteps within the pitch-black structure. They were nearly at the warehouse’s center when Ryan finally happened upon the monster he hunted. The vampire was mounted on one of the victims it had slain earlier that evening. It drank passionately from the corpse’s neck, never mind the heart no longer pumped life through its veins. The creatures head snapped to attention as the ARMA operative leveled his sights. Fangs bared angrily, blood dribbling down the vampire’s chin. A flash of movement. The creature bolted to escape the Harker’s aim, but he anticipated the trajectory and adjusted accordingly. The agent fired three rounds in rapid succession, striking the creature twice in the leg before it managed to slither out of sight. Harker chased after the vampire, but when he rounded its cover, it was gone. “Fuck!” Ryan cursed under his breath. He turned to glare back at Maya. The operative knew he had sprinted away from her, but he chose to vent his frustration nonetheless, “If you don’t want to die, you need to fucken keep up.”
  8. Ryan Harker

    Begin to Be

    “Find a little serenity, Harker. You got problems with my decisions? Come see me later. But right now, remember that I am your superior.” Harker’s jaw clenched at the word “superior.” It was true the ARMA Captain outranked him within their shared organization, but she wasn’t his superior. She wasn’t even in his chain of command. Greene was a Knight Division Captain. Respect and courtesy were expected to be shown for rank regardless of Division, but she had no sway over the Cloak Division’s operatives. If Harker had opened an official case, he could have disregarded Greene’s orders entirely. Alas, he had not. In the absence of case jurisdiction to a specific Division, ARMA standard operating procedure dictated the ranking agent in the field had command. Despite the ARMA Captain having no authority over Harker, it could easily be articulated they were now jointly involved in a field operation, and thus she was assuming command. “Should have just made the fucking case official,” Harker lectured in his own thoughts. “You good? Or are we going to have more problems?” “Something’s wrong…” Ryan answered without looking at her. Both the magus seemed to que of the mage-hunter’s intuition, paying greater attention to their surroundings. Cassandra would know from past experience, any time Harker said “something’s wrong,” really bad things tended to follow. She seemed relaxed as she leaned against the pew, not unlike Harker, he could tell she was poised to strike. The feeling of impending danger loomed all around him, without specific aim or direction. It felt as though they were being stalked. A predator on the cusp of deciding whether or not to strike. Suddenly, the threat manifested. It was behind him. Time expanded for the mage-hunter alone. Seconds became minutes, minutes became hours. One hand moved toward his pistol, the other pushing Cassandra from the enemy’s line of fire. Rhome’s movement caught Harker by surprise. The rogue assassin pushed off with his back foot, propelling himself toward the operative. Handgun cleared the holster swiftly, muzzle swiveling to align itself with Rhome’s heart. Even as the fire magus closed the distance between them, Harker still sensed the danger was behind him. Slack was already taken from the trigger. The agent would kill Rhome before he crossed the center aisle. Still the danger was behind him. Ryan looked into Del Santo’s eyes just as his pistol’s barrel paralleled the man’s heart. The magus’ eyes were focused on something beyond the agent, something over his shoulder, something behind him. “Damn it all,” he cursed privately in his mind. Then he pivoted sharply, turning his back to the man who had been his enemy just moments ago. Coat flared outward as Harker spun to face the enemy to his rear. A ghostly figure stared back at him; its intentions obvious. Weapon punched out and the agent fired a controlled pair into the faceless shade’s center mass. Bullet’s sundered the smoky figure, leaving cyclones in their wake before impacting the stone wall beyond. Physically the munitions had no effect on the intangible phantom, but their enchantments afflicted pain enough to cause the being to cry out in anguish. Almost simultaneously, Rhome’s weaponized pew impacted the shadow, dispersing what remained of its incorporeal form. Harker glanced to each of the magus beside him. “What the fuck was that?” he asked bluntly. Instincts told him the attack had been a feint to test their capabilities. The main offensive would come soon. “Watch where you stand and what you're standing on. Watch where they’re going to force you to go, watch your back. Don’t get close and don’t get isolated. Do not let them push you from this room. Force them out or kill them. Do not engage the phasing mage. If you can call for back-up, I’d do it now.” “You got a phone?” Ryan cast an inquisitive look to Cassandra, a hint of amusement in his tone. It was evident he had come to the church without any intention of calling for ARMA assistance. Smoke swirled in the center aisle between the unlikely trio and chapel’s main entryway. The shadows congealed into a woman’s form, like a demon summoned from another realm. Del Santo placed himself between the ARMA agents and the conjured woman. A barrier of mana infused flames circling around him, “You forgot I’m not just a mage.” When Rhome had glanced back Cassandra, Harker had seen his face as well. The man hadn’t been wearing the face of someone about to win a triumphant battle. He bore the face a man prepared to die fighting his foe. Harker had seen the same face from others many times in his life. Rhome doubted whether they would survive this encounter. The flame magus’s shield failed, and he lashed out at the shadow woman. At the same time, another priest came running into the room from one of the cathedral’s several side passages. Ryan recognized the man; it was the old Vicar from before. The priest trotted toward Del Santo at a moderate pace, “Stop this at once! This is a house of…” The Vicar was silenced by a pair of bullets tearing through his heart. Gunshots cracked through the air, resounding throughout the church’s halls. Harker’s killing of the man had been sudden, and too swift to prevent. The priest’s torso recoiled from the impact, but momentum carried his body forward so that he collapsed in a lifeless heap at Rhome’s feet. The quiet that followed was tense, as if everyone in the room was collectively holding their breath. Pistol lingered in the air, still aimed where the priest had stood. Ryan’s stare shifted from the felled priest to Rhome. Circumstances had forced him to place trust in the rogue magus just a moment ago… he hoped Del Santo would be able to return the favor now.
  9. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Chasing Ghosts

    “What’s in the box?” Honestly… the worst. Brow furled, watching him a moment. She knew exactly why Remy had been targeted. They’d traced meticulously through all of his dealings, everything he’d ever sought and purchased. It was just a matter of time before they tracked him down. The worry may have been apparent on her features. What did they know about her? “It’s bad,” there wasn't a lot of time to explain how bad. “Remy was a myth chaser. All the things that we see as ultimate stories and fakes he tracked down. In some cases they were real. I never knew exactly what he’d found, but I have an idea.” They never divulged what each other really sought in their endless hunt for the forbidden. There were rumors and bits that could be pieced together. Herself, she was a book chaser. Remy liked power, ancient things that weren’t supposed to exist. She opened up a bit to the agent; a glimpse into the inner circle, albeit brief. “The things he told me he’d gotten his hands on I thought were just bullshit. He told me once he had a piece of kibisis, -the- kibisis, the one that Perseus carried Medusa’s bloody head in. Supposedly found it in a stash in Europe. He also had a gold serpent vial, always bragged there were dried crystals of ichor inside of it, ambrosia, nectar, blood of the ‘Gods’.” She got out with him into the darkness, voice low as he added to his arsenal. Dark eyes watched him quietly. “These guys are looking for blood. If what Remy bragged about was true, they’re potentially getting their hands on the mother load. Who knows what else he stuffed in there. It seems outlandish, but with everything that’s happened in the last ten years…” She left it at that. “So is there anything special about this safe? Is it going to explode if I use a laser cutter on the lock?” “No, it's just a safe. The box is just a box... wooden, black, about shoe box size. There’s an ouroboros on the top, a small lock latch. Very innocuous, it’s meant to look that way. It’s not even locked last I knew.” The amount of weaponry he was pulling out was concerning. She knew it was necessary. “Take this, I know you don’t know how to shoot, but it will make me feel better.” A faint smile pressed to her lips, reaching beneath her coat under her left arm to click a snap open. She'd always had a spot for one. “...never got around to asking the dragon if he could do firearms to go with my blades,” she left that tidbit a mystery for now. Yes, a real dragon made her stuff. “There is already one in the chamber, so just point and pull.” Hand hesitated, glancing at him, and then took it, checking the safety and sliding it into the holster. Not as inexperienced as one would have thought, still not enough to be considered proficient or even knowledgeable enough to carry. “Have only fired a 1911,” the comment was more to herself than anything. Once upon a time. Jacket was smoothed and she was moving forward to the gate ahead of him, if she didn’t start getting this death wish on the road she would have... what exactly? Backed out? Here she was, getting into trouble again. Dangerous trouble. People getting hurt again. Killed. It was that memory that pulled out the confident sarcasm like nothing was bothering her. Danger flipped a switch that brought out the expertise she couldn’t seem to link into without it… long story, one she was going to have to come to terms with. Soon. It felt like a goodbye. She was always fucking saying goodbye. Resisting the urge to look over her shoulder as he went into the darkness, she pulled back to the car, finding a place that she could sit and monitor it while still keeping tabs on her surroundings. Calm pressed in on all sides, it was unnerving, even when quiet her city was always alive. Alone out here, she truly felt alone, jumping slightly at the sound of his voice in her ear. “You know, if this whole occults-dealer thing doesn’t work out, you should definitely become a motivational speaker.” She was silent for a moment. “Smartass,” the amusement was infused in her single word. Twice in one night. Damn. Long breath was drawn in and let out slowly, tapping into memory that she really wished she’d never have to use as she guided him through the old maze. Fallout plans were always in hopes that shit like this really would never come to fruition. The worst wasn't ever supposed to happen. The entrepreneur had nobody left to carry out hers if so needed. She knew he was at the final door, chewing on her lip as he went through. Shots that followed echoed through the drainage tunnel, seizing her chest and vaulting her to her feet toward the embankment, suddenly twirling silently out of the path to press against a tree in the darkness. Movement. Voices. Close, investigating the noise. Shit. Shit! Breath was held, unable to even say a word and confirm if he was okay. Muscles that had just fired into an incredible burst of speed were now buzzing under her skin from immobility. Burning to move. The gunfire echoing in the tunnel had drawn attention; making her wonder if they had been out in the darkness already around the building. They moved down the embankment to the gate. It was closed. Flashlights were shined in and they came back up, three. Armed. Of course they were armed. “All clear.” The flush of relief crashed against the violence itching in her limbs. They were moving toward her and it was not going to lead to anything else but confrontation. It had to, they couldn't be left alive to find the car or impede their escape route. She lowered to a taught crouch on one knee, hands behind her head to slowly pull the twin short blades from their perch. “Move up to me and secure whatever artifacts we need. Try to hurry, their reinforcements should be here any minute.” She couldn’t answer. Calm breath exhaled, form deathly still as she waited. These moments felt eternal, senses flushing out wide to feel the veil of time thin. Blood slowed, neurons fired with echoed memory. Blades flipped backwards in her hands along her forearms. Sensation nothing she could ever explain, maybe this is what magus felt when they drew mana... It was over in seconds. Backs of knees on the first were sliced, throat opened as he fell, twisting toward her. Hilts were released as the flesh split, strikes still in motion, hands reversing to tighten their grip again and instantly change the blades' direction. The second turned at the sound of his partner’s gasp, chest split open by a downward cross strike. He jerked backward, knocking the other to the ground as he fell. She stepped over the second and finished the third easily, nearly severing his head from his body. Chest heaved once, wiping her blades on the third’s coat and re-sheathing them. They were off the beaten path; casting a glance over each shoulder. She wouldn’t waste her time dragging them anywhere, but she did grab one of their earpieces. She was up and moving, sliding down the embankment and reaching in to release the gate and close it behind her. If someone tried to get in, they would hear it. “On my way. Exit is compromised but still passable. Car is still clear.” The world was bright to her senses, adrenaline thrumming so loud in her veins she could almost hear it. Footsteps light, she moved quickly, reaching the heavy door and into the ultimate supernatural man cave. Blood. The scent of blood fired a rush deep in her gut, thumbing her ring. Eyes took stock of everything. Dead. Eclectic trinkets. Remy was quite the hoarder. She blinked at Harker, quickly placing the earpiece next to him. "Might be useful." She made a beeline to a door at the far side of the room, moving downward. Stepping off the landing, her gasp was audible. Good god the books… the file cabinets were piled with tomes, papers. Scrolls. There was so much... There was no telling what else the man collected. The only choice was to burn it all. Footsteps quickened to the end of the row in the small basement room, kneeling and getting to work. Drawer face opened, she twirled the dial, going through every code she could think of. “We have to burn it all," she said as she kept spinning through codes, searching for the right one. "We can’t let them take anything more than what they already have. This place is a tinderbox with all this. Won't take much to set it off." Code finally clicked and she opened it. It was still there, thank god. Pulling it out, it was heavier than it should have been; spending a moment securing the latch. No time to look. Eyes scanned the room, so much would be lost. His personal ledger. She needed to get it, it could point them to where these assholes were going next. Taking the steps two at a time, the box under her arm, she shoved the body leaning against the desk to one side with her foot and and pulled all the drawers, rifling unceremoniously through each and sliding her hand underneath. It should have been there. Eyes slid over the room, head cocking at his bookshelf, rushing over to pull out several tomes that were at one time hers. Right next to them, his ledger. "This is everything," she grabbed his old messenger bag that still hung on his desk chair and stuffed everything inside, slinging it over her shoulder.
  10. Thomas Gallo

    Poison in the Well

    Yep. It was time. Tom had been expecting a visit from them for a while now. He accepted the phone and flipped through the pictures. Just like the others...swollen eyes, swollen tongue...apparent rapid-asphyxiation. He slid the phone back to her with a low growl of frustration. None of these on the phones were the ones that he knew about. This problem was bigger than even he knew about. Leaning back in his chair, he rested his elbows on the rests and steepled his fingers in front of his nose, deep in thought. "This is worse than I had thought. How many have you come across?" It was clear he meant victims. Tom wanted to know how big this problem was so he could send out the proper amount of resources to deal with it. ARMA being here certainly complicated matters. "As you have surmised, some of my deliveries have been tampered with. Whether this occurred in shipments to my store, from my store, or anywhere in between...I have not yet been able to determine." Tom pulled down a bottle of whiskey from the shelf behind his desk and poured himself a glass, drank it quickly, and placed the bottle behind him, but left the glass on the desk. He didn't bother to offer her a drink, as the topic of conversation didn't inspire thirst. "I have had some minor luck, however." Tom said sourly as he fiddled with a safe under his desk. Inputting the combination, he opened the door and proffered an identical bottle to the one behind him, save for the bright yellow piece of tape wrapped around the bottle. This had been the offending bottle at one of the clubs where a man went down after taking a drink. It wasn't much, but perhaps the mage sitting across from him could better aim Tom's fury in the correct direction. As long as she didn't choose to get 'too policey' and stand in his way. Maybe once he got a lead, he and Eris could go hunting. Tom thought that she might like that sort of thing. "This is a bottle one of the clubs in town received that had the poison in it. This is the only sample I've been able to acquire to this point. The poison reeks to my senses and I'm sure no were-creature has been killed by this because of that alone. I wonder what you can make of it?" Tom then opened the poisoned bottle and poured a small amount into the glass on the desk. As soon as the seal was broken on the bottle, Tom nearly wretched. There was a subtle, yet very distinct sweet smell with something...bitter that didn't belong. Roderick had not been able to detect the smell, but to Tom's senses it was overpowering. He quickly closed the bottle and nudged the glass toward Cassandra and, more importantly, away from himself. He locked the bottle back in the safe before continuing through a pained face of a man who's senses were being assaulted by something truly putrid. "Can you do anything with this? Figure out what it is, how it's made, where it came from...who could have made it?" That last portion came out with an edge of fury and doom that he was unable to mask properly. Whoever was responsible for this would certainly pay for it.
  11. Ryan Harker

    Chasing Ghosts

    “You kill who you have to, however you need to. Destroy whatever is necessary. There is one box that needs to be retrieved. One. After that, burn it all down. I care about that one box, and I care about you. If push comes to shove, burn the box too and get the fuck out. Remy was an old school asshole. These guys push too deep and the whole bunker will implode.” “Alright, I’ll bite,” Ryan said somewhat seriously, “what’s in the box?” The question remained until it was addressed. A mental note was made of the “I care about you” comment, but he would revisit the topic another time. Rorye resumed her brief. “It’s located in the lowest level, looks like a file room. The last file cabinet on the right is a safe. Green and scuffed, you can see the blue paint underneath. Bottom drawer. If it’s been opened, mission is over. Burn it down.” Harker sensed the severity in her tone. On the inside, he smiled. Earlier he had been concerned about overburdening Rorye with the hasty operation. He had forced her well outside of her comfort zone. Yet, despite her reservations, she continued to rise to the occasion when the mission demanded it. She lacked training, but she had the makings of a good agent. Rorye released his arm; her grip had been firm. The two of them exited the vehicle at the same time. Harker walked around to the trunk, while his partner assessed the unsettling darkness. Opening the rear compartment, the agent asked, “So is there anything special about this safe? Is it going to explode if I use a laser cutter on the lock?” The operative equipped himself accordingly based on the woman’s answer. Another pistol was holstered on his left thigh, mirroring the right. Magazine pouches were synched to the front of his enchanted vest. He debated briefly on whether to take his modified AR-15 rifle, or his Benelli M4 tactical shotgun. The Benelli was excellent for close quarter breaching, but the rifle’s reload speed and ammo capacity made it far better suited for extended firefights. In the end, he chose the ever-dependable AR-15. Bolt slammed home with a satisfying “clack” as a round was chambered. Harker slid the rifle sling over his shoulder but kept the weapon in hand. He skimmed the contents of his tactical safe, looking for anything that might keep Rorye safer in his absence. The reinforcements from the club would likely come from the front of the bunker. He didn’t anticipate anyone attempting to use Remy’s concealed emergency entrance. Having his rear covered was important, but he had given Rorye the task mainly to keep her out of the fight. He knew she could handle herself, but having provided the information was the extent of her obligation. This work was his responsibility. Ryan made his selection from the trunk and closed it. He walked to stand beside his guide. A hand was extended toward her, Sig Sauer P226 grasped with the barrel pointing down. “Take this,” he said. “I know you don’t know how to shoot, but it will make me feel better.” A warm gaze found her amber eyes, “There is already one in the chamber, so just point and pull.” The agent knew she preferred knives, but conventional wisdom still dictated bringing a knife to a gun fight was a bad idea. Harker followed his partner down the water channel and to the flood gate. Despite the gear weighing him down, his stride was both graceful and quiet. Once the entrance to the aqueduct was open, Rorye stepped aside and chimed, “Gentlemen first.” “Always,” Ryan smirked. “Now I’m going back to watch your six. I can walk you through the rest over the com.” Harker nodded and stepped toward the entryway. Then she caught him unprepared. A hand was placed gently to his cheek. His blue eyes met hers, searching, though he knew not what they sought. The couple seemed to share a moment, until an unceremonious pat landed on the agent’s cheek. “Don’t die,” she whispered before marching off into the night. Ryan shook his head to stifle a laugh. He was uncertain if she had said the words in jest, or seriousness. Knowing Rorye, it was probably both. As the operative moved into the large water channel his voice quipped over their shared radio channel, “You know, if this whole occults-dealer thing doesn’t work out, you should definitely become a motivational speaker.” Harker proceeded through the tunnels and drains leading to Remy’s hideout. His end of the radio remained mostly silent, except for whispered acknowledgements as Rorye guided him through the deadly maze. Eventually, he reached a wooden door. The dark oak reminded him of the bookcases he’d seen in ARMA’s vast library. Rorye instructed him on how to gain entry through the doorway. Harker readied his rifle and took a slow, calming breath. Upon activation, the door slid open to reveal a clean, but cluttered museum of artifacts. Heads swiveled in Ryan’s direction, his entrance catching the attention of everyone in the room. Men clad in black suits were dispersed unevenly throughout the space. Each was armed with a varying handgun, though none had brought them to bear. All of them were frozen in mid movement, their search of the bunker interrupted without warning. Ryan counted five in total. Time stood still. The operative had all the time he needed to accurately place each shot. Rifle swept swiftly from one side of the room to the other, without any apparent pause. The report of the first four rounds could be heard throughout the aqueducts outside. Though it almost sounded like an automatic burst, a discerning ear could tell each shot had been fired individually. A half-second later another burst echoed throughout the tunnels as another five rounds were fired. For a time, there was only silence. Four men lay dead inside the bunker. A small hole bore through the front of their skulls, brains blown out the back in splash of bone and brain matter. The fifth thug had managed to duck behind a wooden desk across the room, though it proved poor cover. The second volley fired from Harker’s rifle had splintered through the frail timber and riddled the man’s back with bullets and wood chips. The gangster’s body lay slumped against the desk that had failed him, just as lifeless as his deceased colleagues. Ryan moved methodically through the rest of Remy’s abandoned sanctuary. Each room cleared thoroughly for potential threats. After a short time, he found himself back in underground shelter’s main room. He had been listening to the radio in his ear to ensure Rorye was safe, but refused to say anything himself until the bunker was secure. “All clear,” Harker said finally. The agent moved to the lair’s main entrance and braced himself in sturdy firing position. “Move up to me and secure whatever artifacts we need.” Rorye had told him what to look for. However, now that he was inside the brimming bunker, locating the items seemed a cumbersome and time-consuming task. Admittedly, she possessed a greater knowledge of arcane artifacts than he did. Their chances of success would be greater with her joining him inside. If the mission went sideways, she could always use her speed to secure the artifact while he covered their withdrawal. “Try to hurry, their reinforcements should be here any minute.” Ryan set his sights to cover the hideout’s entrance. If the emergency tunnel was a secret kept, their enemy would have to come through him to get inside.
  12. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Chasing Ghosts

    “You worry too much.” The side stare was long, dim light of the dashboard catching a shimmer in her eyes that looked almost amber. They lingered on him a moment and then shifted to the darkness outside the car to cool. She hated those words. He was explaining things to her as she swallowed down more worry than he could know at the moment, and she still felt herself listening and interacting. Walking through the motions. The poignant comment remained heavy in her thought process. Supernatural safe-cracker. A possibility perhaps. Her ‘colleagues’ of sorts were not just peddlers, they knew how to use the things that passed through their hands. There might be progress into Remy's place, there might not be. They all had their own ways of doing things; her heavy hitting items were in very specific places that varied. Some chose to cluster, others to divide and ward. Remy was one of those. Everything he had was fun and useful, but he organized in a weird pattern of high to low. His high risk items were always in one spot. She’d always thought it was incredibly stupid; now… not so much. It made his fall out plan one stop only. He'd done it to make sure his dangerous shit was easy to remove. “That’s why they pay me the big bucks. Because I can drive AND shoot.” She glanced at him again. "Smartass," light smile perked on one edge of her lip. Darkness on the off road felt oppressive. It always did when she went out “past” civilization. In reality it wasn’t that far from the city, it just wasn’t safe much farther past the city. The borders were getting wider as the world got back on its feet. This direction, nada. Up and down the coast were growing quickly, west toward the center of the country was taking a bit longer to bounce back. She took the earpiece from him, spending a moment to pull her hair from its braid and smooth it to a ponytail at the back of her neck. Winding it around one more, she secured it in a bun. She knew this game, and had taken down rival smugglers before, the tighter it was the less people had something to grab onto. Plus, she was fast. Faster than he knew. Movement was key. “I’m not staying here to watch the road until you're safely in,” comment was absolute as she put the earpiece in. “It’s very important you let me know if anyone is coming up behind me. Also, make sure to listen carefully. If the place is as well defended as you say, I will probably need you to talk me through some of the traps.” “I’m going in first to get you in. If I can’t see them, I don’t know if they’ve been tampered with or changed. I’m not going to listen to you fucking die through an earpiece. Remy’s stuff is no joke and it's stupid effective.” She reached behind her to click the release on her blades. “IF they haven’t been disturbed, I will fall back to here and talk you through the rest. For the record, I think I need to go with you. I don’t know if or where Remy has moved his stash.” “I am only concerned with items that pose great danger to the public, or are items of evidentiary value to my case. The rest is yours. You deal with the Arcane stuff; I do the shooting. That’s why you brought me, remember?” She was strong; stronger than most expected, faster than was humanly possible. Her fingers snapped onto his arm to keep him from exiting, expression not one of weakness or apprehension. “This is not my first rodeo either. I cleared Alexandria with Greene when my colleague went crazy and couldn't be trusted with what he collected.” …and not the Greene Harker answered to now. The heaviness of that weighed on her words. He trusted her, Harker needed to trust her. “You kill who you have to, however you need to. Destroy whatever is necessary. There is one box that needs to be retrieved. One. After that, burn it all down. I care about that one box, and I care about you. If push comes to shove, burn the box too and get the fuck out. Remy was an old school asshole. These guys push too deep and the whole bunker will implode.” The glare was not asking permission, and she didn’t explain her choice of implode instead of explode. Remy was a sadistic asshole. If people got that far in, he always figured they deserved to die in the worst way possible because of what they had done to him to get there. “It’s located in the lowest level, looks like a file room. The last file cabinet on the right is a safe. Green and scuffed, you can see the blue paint underneath. Bottom drawer. If it’s been opened, mission is over. Burn it down.” She let go and got out, standing a moment to listen. Water was still flowing, that meant the tunnel hadn’t been closed off. That was good news. There were other sounds, his place had definitely been breached and they were not being delicate about it. She was agile, silently sliding down an embankment to pause crouched on a concrete footer, eyes level with a lock that was preventing access into the gate of a five foot high storm drain. It was still locked, that was good… as was no evidence anyone had been this far away from the main building. Completely still, she was studying the lock, numbered buttons old school. Gaze wandered down the gate from it, then right to the hinges. Avoiding the lock completely, she reached through the bars about a foot from the ground. Face scrunched slightly as she glanced at him, not really wanting to know what the damp squishy stuff she was touching was around the edge out of sight. Something clicked, and the gate moved slightly. She got up and carefully pulled it open. It had never been locked in the first place, trying to unlock the lock would have blown someone’s face off. Nothing had been changed, she was certain. Remy liked to mindfuck. “Gentlemen first,” she smirked at him. “Now I’m going back to watch your six. I can walk you through the rest over the com.” She reached up and cupped the side of his cheek and left him with a soft pat. “Don’t die.” Light footsteps disappeared back up the embankment to leave him to it.
  13. Earlier
  14. Ryan Harker

    Chasing Ghosts

    “I know you’re not a client. If you were I wouldn’t be talking to you. This isn’t a bargain for information, it’s getting things I need to know in order to give you the information you need so you don’t walk into a clusterfuck and die. You’re walking into my world, any information you withhold could be your ass. My colleagues don’t defend ourselves, we defend our hold. We all have fallout plans.” Ryan was glad for the clarity. Each knew where the other stood. As he had hoped, the dealer had just been using familiar language. This reaffirmed some of the decisions he had already made regarding their arrival at Remy’s hideout. “I’ll admit you probably know more about artifacts with bad mojo, but this isn’t my first rodeo.” A sideways grin, “You worry too much.” “They force entry, they are going to lose and keep losing until they get smart.” “I think they already did,” Ryan offered. “They took casualties from some boobytraps when they first arrived. The team there now is supposed to include some kind of supernatural safe cracker.” Rorye didn’t seem surprised at all by the information, instead she just nodded and continued, “There are, were, three of us major dealers. One hub in Alexandria, Remy, and I. If something happened to any of us, we had a deal to clear out the other’s hold. Except I don’t drive, so… that’s where you come in. Plus you can shoot a gun, which I can’t well, so that’s helpful too.” “Yep,” The agent agreed. Sarcasm dripping from his words, sideways grin showing itself once more, “That’s why they pay me the big bucks. Because I can drive AND shoot.” Harker wasn’t offended, just poking fun at her over-simplification of his abilities. “...If you ever pull me onto a dance floor again it will never be ARMA.” Ryan chuckled joyfully, “It wouldn’t be the first time I disappointed ARMA.” Playful eyes glanced to hers, “I guess they will just have to do without.” Harker followed her directions, pulling off the highway and proceeding down a dirt road. Once they were close enough the bunker, the agent stopped and backed his car into a walking trail less traveled. He was careful to ensure the vehicle was out of view of the road, but faced toward it should they need to make a hasty withdrawal. The ARMA operative reached into the glove box and removed a set of earpiece radios. He handed one of them to Rorye. “Take this,” He said as placed the radio in the palm of her hand. “I am going to need you move up to the tree line and watch the road. Stay out of sight, but use this to let me know if anyone is coming.” Ryan knew she would argue about being left behind, so he tried to address her protest before she could voice it. “It’s very important you let me know if anyone is coming up behind me. Also, make sure to listen carefully. If the place is as well defended as you say, I will probably need you to talk me through some of the traps. Once the place is clear,” the mage-hunter meant once he had killed everyone, “I will call you in to defuse and secure whatever artifacts are inside.” Sensing her objection, Harker raised a calming hand. “I am only concerned with items that pose great danger to the public, or are items of evidentiary value to my case. The rest is yours.” The arrangement was more than favorable for the occults dealer. Ryan again popped open the driver side door. Leaving before Rorye had the chance to argue had proved an effective tactic thus far, but he hadn’t escaped the cabin just yet. Sly smirk as the man’s eyes met hers, “You deal with the Arcane stuff; I do the shooting. That’s why you brought me, remember?”
  15. Eris London

    Be Careful Where You Wander

    Being summoned to a meeting in Glamis was positively something she hated. It was dangerous to fly into the North at this time of year, networks had not been completely restructured yet. There were a few places she could land in the event of mechanical failure, but not many that were equipped to help her with what she needed to get the plane back into the air. The meeting was as expected. Demands. Irritating assholes. Arrogance. People that didn't know what the fuck they were talking about. Wants and needs that couldn't necessarily be delivered with the resources she had. Some sort of idiotic threat, crawling through New York. She'd gotten a whiff of it over the last year or so, but it had been quiet lately. Why was Sheut concerned? Because if bad guys gobbled up the magic slingers, they might annoy the Sheut Nation. Humans and their magic. Idiots. Just find a magus to screw and get the fascination out of their system. She couldn't get out of Glamis fast enough. Flight had been quiet, weather somewhat amiable. As the lights of New York came back into view, she couldn't help but really want to be home. Away from those that had no understanding or relatively little fucking clue of what the rest of the world was going through. Their only want was to make sure that their position reigned supreme, and to be assholes; with the exception of her adopted brother. Even he had his moments when she wanted to smack him on the back in the head. If she could reach, that is. Damn moose. The tiny vampire reached forward, clicking several small levers as she adjusted the headset and spoke to her ground crew. "Flash", said quietly the plane turning gracefully in the air. The runway near the coast lit up once, its chasing lights on the ground unseen unless from above. All she needed was the position to land, her eyesight could do the rest. Touchdown would be slightly dicey, winter flights were always a risk. Her crew kept the runway pristine. Always. The elegant Cessna touched down in almost complete darkness, immense power vibrating through the beast as she reversed engines to slow it to a crawl and taxi. "Gold window shields worked great Mouse," words were quiet over the radio. No response, there never was. The techie was always listening though.Turning over the plane to her crew, the petite form stepped down from the cockpit. She fucking hated winter, the black Louboutin mad heel boots she had on effective against the elements, but didn't bring her any closer to Ahanu's height. Black slacks were pristine, black Mackage Kay coat fluttering its fur collar at the bitter wind as she peered out of the hood up at her right hand. The woman's face wasn't pleased. It was never pleased when she had to tell the Viceroy bad news. Toby wasn't with her, which meant something had gone to shit. Her adopted protege kept the dangerous kind at bay. Namely, other vampires. There wasn't a vampire in the city she wasn't aware of, if they crossed her city without making themselves known she stabbed them in the face. They had the choice to reveal themselves, or die. Mostly die. Being infected tended to make baby vampires arrogant and ballsy. They tended to make her stabby and murdery. Heat rolled from above the doors in the hangar, closing as the plane was pulled in. She'd stepped to the side in the first floor office, pouring herself a drink. *npc* Toby is babysitting two rogues. "Fucking kill them already," answer was disinterested. "I just spent way too long listening to bullshit, rogues can go in a ditch." Yes, she'd promised not to do that anymore. It was her discretion. There were more popping up lately than the Executioner had time to deal with. Scratch that. She didn't feel like constantly flying out to shitstorm L.A. to pick him up. They were rogue, they were toast. Ahanu shook her head, the formidable woman pulling her hood down on her coat. The tiny vampire did the same. This was not going to be a good night. Coat slid from her arms and Ahanu took it to hang up. Winter white wool turtleneck sweater was smoothed, hair immaculate, narrowed eyes watching the woman as she picked up her cognac and followed Ahanu to the mechanical room. Toby was babysitting two middle aged wannabe commandos. Malnourished, beat to hell. They'd put up a fight. *npc* They were sniffing around the south fence. The irritated Viceroy reached and pulled Ahanu's sidearm from her leg holster, firing three concussive shots in succession and handed it back to her. Knee, knee, not knee. The asshole hissed at her, a high pitched squeal twisted into the animalistic growl. She put her hand out and Ahanu placed it in her hand again. One in the forehead. She approached the second, gun still in her hand. Swallow of cognac preceded the narrowing of the viper's immaculately lined eyes. "I'm hungry and tired. Open your fucking mouth and talk or I'll chain your ass to the east fence at seven am and burn your skin off. Then we'll bring you in, and do it again the next morning. I don't have time for your bullshit." The story between stammers and obstinate blubbering was one she didn't want to hear. Glamis had given her insight, and now this clusterfuck was in her back yard. Handing the gun back to Ahanu, she finished her drink. "Put him in the hole, call ARMA. I want to meet with someone tomorrow. Whoever is in this shit neck deep, lie if you have to in order to get them here. I'm going to sleep." With that she made her way to the upstairs luxury loft of the hangar. This was snowballing into giant headache. Of course, very few in ARMA knew of her kind, and she was content to just let the magic chasing idiots beat the crap out of each other as long as it didn't rock the stability of her area. Now rogue vamps were jumping into the mix? They needed to be ripped to shreds. That shit didn't happen on her watch. She had to clue in the new guard that there were worse things out there that could rain down hell other than humans fucking around with magic. Namely, her. Whatever "threat" was making factions piss their pants, hadn't locked horns with her yet.
  16. Maya Rowen

    Cold night in hell...

    Maya struggled to breath as the figure approached her, but it was a losing battle. Panic swallowed her as the enchanted items seemed to float towards her and it peaked, crashing in around her as she felt a finger press against her lips. A finger she couldn’t see. She started hyperventilating. Her vision flickered even darker than normal as she fought to stay conscious. She managed somehow. It wasn’t easy. Far from it. It took everything she had to clamp down on the fear. The terror that had a hold of her. That primal fear that drove away thought and pressed in until all you could think about was escaping. Surviving. Her breathing still came shallow, ragged, but it was coming now. Before she could truly pull herself together though her boogeyman seemed to have turned his attention elsewhere. A stray unformed thought told her it was now. She should get out of here while he was distracted. While she still could. Then she heard the footsteps. Heavy. Unhurried. Her head snapped around as her eyes darted frantically looking for whoever was making them. No...not whoever. Whatever, because whatever she was looking at wasn’t a person. It looked like a person. A corpse to her really. Ashen gray skin shone where it’s clothing didn’t cover. Dead. People didn’t look like that. They were vibrant. Alive. People weren’t empty. Neither was this thing. Not entirely. A spiderweb of sickly red light seemed to bleed across its skin. From its eyes.She shrunk back against the wall as it approached and began gasping for air once more. Her boogeyman had been terrifying. When she’d first seen his kind a few months ago on new years eve it had scared her senseless. She’d had nightmares about him. Him finding her. Busting down her door and hauling off to a prison for people like her. A prison for gifted...and other dreams. Dreams where she went to sleep..and he made sure she never woke up. It had been hard to sleep after that. Still was some nights. It was completely irrational. He likely hadn’t even realized what she was, or not what she did, who she was.That didn’t stop him from getting in her head. Didn’t stop the fear of the man she couldn’t see from creeping into the back of her skull like poison. Her boogeyman. That was what she called him. Nameless. Formless. Omnipresent. Like a bad story come to life. He was the worst thing she could imagine. This thing was worse. Her boogeyman was dangerous. This was...EVIL. Her throat burned as her dinner threatened to show itself. Whatever semblance of control she’d regained vanished when she laid eyes on that thing. Her boogeyman told her to run, but he needn’t of bothered. She was already in motion. She just wasn’t fast enough. The creature darted forward so fast she barely saw it as she began to push herself to her feet. Then the world went black. Not the dark, shadowy landscape she’d learned to navigate. Just. Black. She screamed. A keening anguished sound that seemed to burst from her without end as her hands shot to her eyes. Their golden glow flickered slightly as the mana jammer washed over her. The screaming continued as she buried her face in her hands, unable to think, unable to move. She’d been blind before. Back when her sight first began to manifest. Several times since when she’d run out of mana. Never like this. Never so abruptly. So unprepared. Without her cane she couldn’t run even if she wanted too. A gunshot echoed and her scream cut off abruptly in it’s wake leaving the warehouse suddenly disturbingly quiet. Her hands came away and her eyes darted frantically as she tried to see something. Anything. Instead she heard, what exactly she had no idea but whatever the noise was it was getting closer. She shot to her feet and started to run, but she only made it a few steps before her shoulder collided painfully with something and she went sprawling back to the floor. She blinked and wasn’t sure if it was the pain or the sudden shades of grey that brought tears to her eyes. Her relief was short lived. As her sight returned she saw that the thing was only feet away from her. Her blood ran cold. Her boogeyman was nowhere in sight. Before she had anymore time to think, any more time to react he was on her. She stumbled to her feet only to come crashing back down as he grabbed her ankle so hard she thought he might have broken bone. As she went down it pulled itself over her, and its fang filled mouth lunged towards her throat...and sank into golden flesh. The ethereal layer of golden skin that surrounded her was all that had saved her life, and the hole from the creatures assault bled golden light as mana flowed from the wound in her projection, quickly becoming whole once more. The monster snarled and continued to savage her, its fangs coming a hairsbreath from the skin that lay beneath the golden aura. It was agony. She felt every bit of it as the thing tore the conjured flesh from her neck again and again. Every nerve as those fangs dug into them and then stripped them raw. She couldn’t hear anything over her own screaming and the creatures guttural snarls.It seemed like it would never stop. The things need to feed seemed to have stripped away it’s ability for rational thought it seemed incapable of concerning itself with anything aside from tearing out her throat. Tears streamed down her face as she lay pinned beneath the thing. Unable to move. Unable to escape. Was this it? Was this how she was going to die? Trapped in a dingy warehouse? Eaten alive? Eventually her projection would fail. It couldn’t hold up to the assault of the creature on top of her, and when it did the thing would eat her alive. It’s fangs sunk into the aura around her neck again and she screamed. As much as she could anyway. Her throat was raw. She thought she taste blood. She was going to die.Here. Alone.No one would ever know. As the thought flitted across her racing mind a trickle of anger began to flow with the pain. With the fear. No. SHe hadn’t survived, hadn’t suffered to die here. Forgotten. Alone. No. She wouldn’t allow it. No.No.NO! A snarl escaped her every bit as feral as the thing atop her as the rage flared within her. It recoiled, likely surprised. It wasn’t much but it was enough. Her right arm bulged within the sleeve of her jacket, tearing through the material as new muscle seemed to ripple across the limb. The creature was utterly unprepared for strength or speed of that arm as it lashed out at its face. It darted back and almost managed to evade the blow, would have if not for the golden claws snapped out from her fingertips and sank deep into the creatures flesh. It howled in agony as a torrent of red poured down the left side of it’s face as it was reduced to bloodied meat, mixing with the golden ichor that stained it’s jaws. She pushed herself up and swung at the thing again but it had more time to react and it skittered away, once again moving on all fours. In a heartbeat it was gone. Out of sight. She took a shaky breath as the anger and adrenaline kept burning through her. Her fingers trembled pushed herself shakily to her feet, letting her arm fade into a cloud of golden dust. She needed the mana more. She needed to get out of here. She’d gotten lucky. Insanely lucky. She wasn’t stupid enough to believe she’d done any real damage to whatever that thing had been. It was probably going to be back, and it was definitely pissed off. She started towards the door when she noticed the enchanted arsenal that was all she could see of her boogeyman up against a wall. Unmoving. She bit her lip. She should run. Now. She didn’t want anything to do with a mage hunter...but she might not have a choice. They were a lot more likely to survive together than alone. If nothing else she could run away while the monster was snacking on him. A slight smirk crossed her features as the wry thought flashed through her mind and faded just as quickly. “You alive?” She rasped, her throat burning from the effort.
  17. Rhome Del Santo

    Begin to Be

    “Welcome, Captain Greene.” Just his voice made his nerves irritated, but the former assassin’s senses were never trained off the gun, even when it was lowered and holstered. Her presence when she moved closer seemed to make him flinch slightly, the scar in his palm a distraction to keep him focused. “I never thought you responsible. Not even for a second.” He blinked at her quietly. Inside, he always knew that. To hear it spoken pulled the weight from his shoulders a bit. Eyes fell again on Harker at his quip, it was fierce hatred that bubbled up like a volcano and seemed to wash over him every time he made a few steps forward. That was almost it, the flash of white in a vicious dog’s eyes before they tore someone apart. Until she spoke again. Lashes lowered, blink was slow. “Find a little serenity, Harker. You got problems with my decisions? Come see me later. But right now, remember that I am your superior.” The ticking under his feet kept him concentrating on her words. It was like a clock. “…yet here I come asking you to help us which means helping your enemy. It’s unfair. . .” Brow furled, looking at her again. “The Order doesn’t help anyone but themselves. They will betray you…” it slipped out quietly between her sentences, unknowingly prophetic. Silence hung a moment before he delivered his terms. They were his terms, and whatever the consequences he would not be shaken from them. The wolf caught his eye as she pulled it from her sweater and held it in her fingers. He’d not seen it, thought about it in… ages. It tapped at a crack in his brain that itched and ached. From a cave, as a child. With the ring. Found while exploring. The thoughts almost seemed rehearsed. Eyes closed as she spoke only to him. “It was a lie… they lied to me about her. They lied to me to get me to run,” he didn’t elaborate, evident he'd been manipulated to defect from ARMA's eye. The level to which he’d been used was staggering. A pawn. A pawn with the power of the entire board. Twisted to a breaking point. He found himself choosing a side. The decision taking even him aback for a moment. Standing. It felt, new. A baptism of a soul. Cleansing of intent. Words spoken that couldn't be retracted. “Believe me, some of us know more than you might think.” Eyes leveled at him again, the mercurial flash one that heralded the growing viscosity of the air around him as all the magus' invisible walls came sliding off. His presence became heavy, stifling almost. “You know what I want you to know,” the quip was quick and absolute; verbal lash unashamed. He almost seemed to have stood a foot taller, presence radiated with a calm complexity that was not there before. Hiding before. Humiliated before. He’d been given a blessing to be the weapon he was, only now pointed in the other direction. The man though he knew him, but the magus’ invisibility to the world was irrevocable fact. The magus had seen the inner workings of the Order that few alive were privy to. He was the hand that dealt the silent vendettas, and no one would ever know what he truly was or had done. The pressing force that settled around him finally came to a calm equilibrium, elegant and warm. Alive, electric. Comfortable in its intensity. It was as if his natural state wasn’t squashing things under control, and instead when left to flow unchecked they were ultimately the most skilled. “and I’ll be the one to kill you. That’s a promise to you both.” The real tragedy was the man thought he would walk away from it. ARMA needed him, but they needed him clear headed. He watched her approach the man. Something wasn’t right. “You good? Or are we going to have more problems?” Harker had picked up on something, his eyes betrayed him. Anywhere else it would have been a diligent soldier keeping tabs on his surroundings, here… here there was a precedence of the unseen. They had both glanced at the upper level. Had he been betrayed? The enraged thought leapt into his throat, seared away by another realization as the shadowed flicker in the upper level brought unparalleled mortal reflexes to life. No, no no! They were looking up, which meant… He moved toward both of them without hesitation, knowing he was risking getting shot and really hoping Harker was as quick to retract a shot as he was to fire one. The magus was immediately engulfed in a twisted spiral of white-hot flame and the pew to their right was set in motion with a tremendous shove of his foot. Sliding backward toward the wall with the force of a freight train, it slammed into the solidifying shadow in its path, dispersing it with a pained cry before the pew crashed and splintered into the wall and a garrote clinked to the ground next to them without an offender. The world was silent again save for the sound of air rippling fiercely. The evil one… the enemy, the assassin had placed himself between them and the rest of the world, one hand out to tell the two not to move, the other producing a vicious wall of white-hot flame between them and whatever was coming. It seemed alive, focused, and angry. Cass or Harker, it was uncertain who the immediate first target had been, but it was evident they all were now. Brought together into the same place. Three for one. Set up. Betrayal. Something else... it didn't matter now; the world was about to move faster than they could imagine. The moments before the storm needed to include as much information as possible. “Watch where you stand and what you're standing on. Watch where they’re going to force you to go, watch your back. Don’t get close and don’t get isolated. Do not let them push you from this room. Force them out or kill them. Do not engage the phasing mage. If you can call for back-up, I’d do it now.” Shadows swirled again, and she was standing in the middle of the pews. Cynical and normal looking, his age. She looked like she could just be walking through a coffee shop. *npc* How long can you hold that? Can’t stay in there forever. She was right. Current cast would run out in two minutes, the floor already thrumming as he readied to throw the other when this one failed. Fingers slid his athame from the sheath, the razor sharp blade a distinct pitch. A priest with a knife… not just any knife, the one that had ended countless lives. No shame. He would not let himself feel shame. “You forgot I’m not just a mage,” he said to her. This was not a fight. It was a collection. They would take him, take Cass, probably kill Harker or torture him for information. He was going to lose this fight with the phase magus. She was fast as hell and never gave him anything to grab onto. He had failed up to this point so far… one minute on the good guy side and he was already going to martyr himself. The thought that this may be the one responsible for all the disappearances was logical. Without a trace. It was a sound theory. But, if he kept her busy enough, they could get out. He was not going to win this fight with her, but she wasn’t walking away from this in one piece. He looked at both the ARMA agents… they were about to see the worst of him. Promises made would not be forgotten or forgiven. Eyes fell on Cass a moment, he had to get his shit together with this magus or they were going to die. Now, later. Either they got out of here, or this was it. This was the chance to prove himself. Gaze flicked back to the woman that had tormented him for years. The candles flickered and he moved suddenly through his own shield as it fell, one foot off the pillar to launch over a pew and grab her arm before she phased. His movements were insanely fast, no wasted kinetic energy or motion, cassock still spinning as he landed and she was gone. Knife repositioned in his hand with a simple flip as he remained motionless, waiting. He could feel blood on the blade, he’d hit her…
  18. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Chasing Ghosts

    The heat was welcome, heated seats. Damn. Maybe she had to reconsider this car thing. Public transportation in the winter was a bitch. It at least stopped the shivering as she nursed her lip. “You can call me John,” Had her sarcasm upset him? His tone was... quiet. Maybe she’d misjudged him. Cavalier had a heart other than his mission? “When we are in public I mean. Ryan is fine when we’re alone.” “Fair enough ARMA.” The impersonal tag was a term of endearment, really. Ryan wasn’t back in her vocabulary yet after her encounter with him in the club. It seemed too personal at the moment, like what she’d said to him was wrong... too familiar... cheating. She caught the eyes trying to find hers in the mirror, her dark ones looking back toward the bandana as she folded it again and stuck it to her lip. A flick of muscle at the edge of his jaw was telling, he was upset perhaps. Muscles like that moved when guys were clenching their teeth. Observant as always, she could tell he was also bothered she’d gotten hurt. Good. Now he knew how she felt. He could be pissed at her, which was fine too. He was quiet after she pulled herself into the front again. That troubled her, so did the fact he pulled over after she asked her question. Silence was loud, as odd as that was. The club, the pulse of adrenaline, the car engine, now nothing but the empty edge of the civilized world. Her breath sounded loud to her ears. “I’m not one of your clients.” She was listening, truly, watching him with calm undivided attention. He had her all wrong; it was okay. He didn’t know her yet. “I am trying to save lives, yours included. We can bargain on merchandise, artifacts, or any other material object. I will even let you rip me off from time to time…” Smile was easy. Smartass. Ow. She seethed in a quick breath and rolled her lip in again, touching her finger to it. It had stopped. “But never try to bargain with me for information, not when lives are at stake. Trust, remember?” Tempted to reach across and close his door again when he opened it to get out, she shoved the urge back down. It was warm in the damn car. Just… another minute of warmth would be awesome before letting in the outside. But… duty. “I have to stage my gear, but take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Taking the coin, features became curious. Coins and books. They were always fucking dangerous. It was the weird shit that rarely was. Turning it over in her palm, it was just a coin. Coins were never just coins. Odd. Setting it on the dash, she seethed in a brave breath and cracked her own door, stepping out and adjusting herself from head to toe. Dressed, yes. Situated, no. Sheaths were replaced along her waistband. Shirt pulled off, arms crawling in goosebumps as she made quick work of the harness over her cami and slid her blades back in. They were not at all comfortable to wear when driving. Shirt, jacket back on, she made sure jean cuffs were pulled down over her boots and she slid back in and closed the door, a quick shiver as she reached to pick up the coin again. The ping of it hitting her ring as it rolled into her palm was almost externally soundless, in her head it rang like a bell. Echoing; into her skull and vibrating her bones. Cassandra. Cassandra Greene, clear as day in her thoughts. Other shuffled faces she didn’t know flew by like flickering pages in a book, then nothing but silence after. Her head hurt, the budding headache most likely from her temple meeting a brick wall. Weird. She wasn’t sensitive, but there were parts of her that were. Charged even. They’d been silent for a long time until now. When he returned she was rolling it through her fingers, watching the darkness beyond the passenger window. She knew who would know, and she didn’t want to offer that conversation up yet. To allow Red to talk through her was to be vulnerable, and she didn’t like it. Red also tended to tattle on her personal thoughts, she didn’t like that either. “So, what do you make of the coin?” To answer, or not. “Not sure yet,” it was honest. “Not seen anything like it before, but I know someone who might. I'm not going to do it out here though. I do know the mundane is almost always the most dangerous because it’s seen as normal.” Eyes moved to him as he started to fill her in. The coin was disorienting as it rolled through her fingers. Hypnotic even. “Two of the guys from your shop were in the basement downstairs. The businessman and the kid. The muscle I assume, is at Remy’s as we speak. These guys are working for a crime lord, who has put out a high reward for the acquisition of magus blood and other select artifacts.” She’d figured as much. “Remy must have been foolish enough to do business with these guys. When they discovered his connections, they captured him and tortured him for information. Which led them to your shop.” Eyes narrowed slightly at his glance. If they came to her shop again, the not killing promise was off. “Remy did business only with a select few, not strangers. He had buffer dealers, a hierarchy. These guys are climbing the ladder to the major arcane dealers to get into the pipeline and make themselves the top of the food chain. Someone lower down in the business sold him out.” Her status was suddenly apparent. Remy had given her up after terrible circumstances. Remy was not her main supplier, they were both the heavy hitters. She hadn’t lied to the agent; she just hadn’t told him everything, which she was suspecting he’d just done to her. Many things in Remy’s hoard had come from her; she knew what was in his hold. They needed to get it first. “Evidently, Remy’s place is pretty well fortified. The muscle is leading a special breach team there now to force entry.” Coin was held up for him to take back, her thumb moving to wipe off the lipstick that was still on his neck and gently nudge the tight jaw out of its grump. “I know you’re not a client,” the statement was clear, this time it was her who gave his arm a prod out of his seeming funk. “If you were I wouldn’t be talking to you. This isn’t a bargain for information, it’s getting things I need to know in order to give you the information you need so you don’t walk into a clusterfuck and die. You’re walking into my world, any information you withhold could be your ass. My colleagues don’t defend ourselves, we defend our hold. We all have fallout plans.” Fingers went up to linger over one of the heater vents, rubbing her hands together. “They force entry, they are going to lose and keep losing until they get smart. There are, were, three of us major dealers. One hub in Alexandria, Remy, and I,” eyes were watching what was left of the mile markers. There was a turn off coming up. “If something happened to any of us, we had a deal to clear out the other’s hold. Except I don’t drive, so… that’s where you come in. Plus you can shoot a gun, which I can’t well, so that’s helpful too.” They were like an underground version of Pharos of sorts… except they made money. “My place is a minefield of security, so is Remy’s, so was Alexandria. I know the way into Remy’s,” another mile or so. “For the record, don’t ever try to sneak into my place. With Remy gone I don’t have a back-up now, so I guess if something happened to me it will have to be ARMA. If you ever pull me onto a dance floor again it will never be ARMA.” The words were serious, but the intent behind them was sarcastic humor. “The turn is right, after the next mile marker. It’s going to get bumpy, we’re going to have to park a ways out and use his emergency tunnel.”
  19. Ryan Harker

    Chasing Ghosts

    “For the record, mini-skirts are bullshit,” Rorye said through chattering teeth. Poor girl was freezing. Ryan wondered briefly how long she had been waiting for him in the cold. Taking the hint, the agent tapped a couple buttons on the console to activate the heat and electric seat warmers. It would take a second for the engine to warm up. “Of course we’re walking into a fight. ARMA is always in a fight.” An unfair, but accurate statement. Harker couldn’t remember the last time he had been at peace. A Soldier transitioning from one faction to the next, one war to another, each cause as important as the last. Somedays, war felt easier than the alternative. “Probably the same thing that happened to your chest,” Rorye said without looking at him. Observant, but something was wrong. She was acting distant, refusing to make eye contact. Her demeanor toward him differed drastically from when they had last spoken in the club. A pang of guilt stirred in Ryan’s gut, a dissatisfied sigh as the realization swept over him. Of course. Rorye was a strong woman, a fighter even, but she wasn’t an operative. He had asked a lot of her this evening already. Now, she discovered one of her colleagues had been killed, and they were about to march headlong into another battle. She wasn’t trained for this, and this wasn’t her responsibility. Ryan was ARMA. This was his mission, his duty, his responsibility to protect people like Rorye. No wonder she unsettled. “I’m changing, it’s freezing. I’m not wearing a seatbelt so don’t kill me ARMA.” She had succeeded in removing her boots. The struggle almost amusing to watch. Olive skin and long legs finally revealed in their entirety. Despite the seriousness of their situation, Ryan allowed his eyes to wander as she swam into the backseat. From the bottom of her skirt, down to the tips of her toes, there was much to behold. “You can call me John,” Harker said softly. “When we are in public I mean,” eyes glanced up at his rearview, searching for hers in the darkness. “Ryan is fine when we’re alone.” “I got beat up trying not to kill anyone,” she answered from behind him. Another pang of guilt in the agent’s chest. She recounted her interaction with the bouncer whilst nursing her wounds in the backseat. Ryan gritted his teeth in frustration. Glad she hadn’t murdered anyone and that she was safe, but frustrated he had placed her in such a position. Eventually, Rorye rejoined him in the front seat. She was silent for a time, voice low when she spoke, “Exact directions for what you found out in the basement.” A deal? An exchange of information? She was a black-market dealer and an informant. The offer made sense. Still, Ryan couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. Just another one of her contacts. “What did you find out? How screwed are we?” Her eyes looked to him for answers. “We,” she said. If they were partners, then why leverage her information? Out of habit maybe? She confused him. Harker had planned on stopping to reequip at some point anyway. They were on a safe stretch of route 78. This was as good a time as any. He pulled the car over to the shoulder of the road, parked, and cut the engine. “I’m not one of your clients.” Ryan’s voice was calm. “I am trying to save lives, yours included.” Aqua blue eyes found hers in the cabin’s darkness. “We can bargain on merchandise, artifacts, or any other material object. I will even let you rip me off from time to time…” he smirked lightly, but there was a sincerity to his words. “But never try to bargain with me for information, not when lives are at stake. Trust, remember?” Driver door was popped open, “I have to stage my gear, but take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Harker handed the occults expert the coin he taken from Hanes’ briefcase back at the nightclub. He stepped outside and closed the door behind him. The operative stood at the trunk of his car for longer than was required. He exchanged the silver-thread suit jacket for his typical enchanted attire. Donned the arsenal he had discarded earlier and staged the rest of his equipment in preparation for his assault on Remy’s hideout. This was all second nature to him. His mind focused instead on considering what information he should share with Rorye. Ryan had mentioned trust, but he wasn’t sure that meant he could tell her everything. Even ARMA couldn’t be trusted with all the information he had collected, not yet at least. Sharing the information with a seller of secrets, was an objectively bad idea. Despite this, Ryan felt he could trust Rorye’s moral character. Perhaps he had been fooled by her charm. In the end, he decided he would tell her everything he could without compromising his mission or her safety. Harker grabbed a small metal tin from trunk safe, before securing the hidden vault and closing the compartment. When he got back in the car, he started the engine and looked to Rorye. “So, what do you make of the coin?” he asked as they merged back onto the highway. Once she had answered his inquiry about the talisman, he delved into the intel he had obtained at the club. “Two of the guys from your shop were in the basement downstairs. The businessman and the kid. The muscle I assume, is at Remy’s as we speak,” he paused for a moment as he considered his words. “These guys are working for a crime lord, who has put out a high reward for the acquisition of magus blood and other select artifacts.” Ryan shook his head, “Remy must have been foolish enough to do business with these guys. When they discovered his connections, they captured him and tortured him for information. Which led them to your shop.” A glance was spared in Rorye’s direction, “I told them I was an associate of Remy’s. A hired gun who is supposed to locate him should he fail to check-in every 24 hours.” “They forced Remy to take them to his place, but when he refused to help them get inside… they killed him.” Blue hues flashed at her once more, “Evidently, Remy’s place is pretty well fortified. The muscle is leading a special breach team there now to force entry.” The ARMA operative leaned back casually in his seat, “So there you have it.” He had withheld specifics about the crime lord, and the Orders involvement, but he hoped it would be enough to sate her curiosity. She might suspect he knew more than he let on, but he had tried to paint a fairly complete picture.
  20. Cassandra Greene

    Begin to Be

    Cassandra was not in the mood to be questioned by Harker. She didn’t particularly care if he had an issue with her orders. It didn’t change the fact that they were given nor that the policy was in place. Being given an attitude wasn’t helping her mood. She could only imagine that the Cloak operative wanted to say more — he’d not been one to withhold his opinion before. She could only imagine that his opinion was in measure with a handful in ARMA that still questioned her involvement with the fire magus. Of course, those people were fools. She hadn’t thought Harker to be one even if they’d not perfectly gotten along the last time they’d worked a case. All of that was put on a backburner though. Harker would get his chance as they’d have to discuss his behavior here this evening, but for the time being there were more important matters. Like convincing Rhome that he was better off with them. The last time she’d tried to convince him to come in with her it’d not gone so well. This seemed likely to be a repeat. The sound of his footsteps moving away made her turn away from the candles as did Harker’s outburst. Annoyance was not helping to calm the anger coursing through her. Though seeing him holster the weapon was a good sign. A nod was given to the Cloak operative before she shifted her attention to Rhome again. Noticing the way his stature shifted made her wish that she had been able to find a means to bring him some pleasant news for once. Instead after years without any word she approached empty-handed to ask him not only to help an organization with some in it that didn’t trust him including her own brother, but was also allied with the organization responsible for his trauma. It was unfair. When Cassandra made that original deal to save his neck the situation had been complicated. It’d not been about the romantic feelings, but understanding of how the Vatican, and the Order by extension, could mess with the mind. The deal had been a good one and if it hadn’t been then her brother would’ve never approved. It was the mention of her brother that helped bring the anger down to a manageable level; the glow around her fists beginning to diminish a little. Not worrying about Harker’s presence or what he thought at the moment, Cassandra approached the pew where Rhome sat and crouched by his right knee. “I never thought you responsible. Not even for a second.” The words were full of quiet reassurance as she met his gaze. Where before she’d used their connection coldly, and with calculation, during an interrogation to gain his cooperation, but this was different. There wasn’t any of the former hatred behind it. While still confused and hurt by all of it there’d been a point after their last encounter where eventually the hatred started to fade. There were fates worse than death, and they’d been made to suffer them at the hands of people who claimed to help people; both had ended up committing atrocities that tainted them in one way or another as a result, but not many in ARMA were free of that stain. Cassandra couldn’t help that she felt sympathy at how little worth he saw in himself. A reflection of the guilt that she still dealt with even now. Once her brother had pointed out that Rhome wasn’t under any geas or collars or spells, but there were other ways to control people. It’d been going on long before the world went to hell. They’d used some of those ways to try to control her even before the beast took hold. Quietly she listened to his stipulations and observed the way he rubbed the scar on his hand; taking a moment to consider these things when he added another one. . . One she understood all too well. Of course, before she could speak it was Harker’s voice that broke the silence. Immediately Cassandra felt the anger rise up a little and had to swiftly force it back down. Was his goal actually to get Rhome as an asset? Or was it to piss off everyone? She wasn’t sure, but in the moment she wanted to ring his neck. “Find a little serenity, Harker. You got problems with my decisions? Come see me later. But right now, remember that I am your superior.” Looking back to the fire magus, she gave a little sigh and shook her head, her words holding regret, “Once I told you that if we let what they did control our lives we’d never be free, and that redemption isn’t as easy as doing the right thing once, but something you continue to work at. I still believe those things. You took the first step when you chose not to kill me, the second step when you turned yourself over to ARMA. . . You didn’t know what ARMA’s response would be, and yet you were still willing to burn bridges with the Order, the Vatican just to save me. Since then, while they’ve been small, you continue to take steps though we’ve given little in return and yet here I come asking you to help us which means helping your enemy. It’s unfair. . .” Slipping her hand into the thick collar of her sweater, she pulled out the chain always worn around her neck to show him what was on it besides the locket: a knotwork in the form of a wolf. Cassandra had tried many times to get rid of it, but was never able to do it. At first she’d even tried hiding it away, but had continued to wear the gift. “If those are your terms then we’ll meet them. We now help magus who don’t fit with ARMA find a place that suits them after training, and they’re no longer considered rogue. They owe us nothing in return though are free to seek us out for help at any time. I’m not asking you to join, just be an alley. An asset. To help us on your own terms.” Dropping her voice to a whisper meant just for his ears, she pulled a breath into her lungs before speaking softly, “I never thanked you for the great risk you took to save my life, Matty. I’m sorry. I want you to know though that I have not stopped trying to save her life.” While she let Rhome digest that information and make a decision, it was Harker’s behavior that made Cassandra rise to her feet. Though she had issues with the operative that they needed to work through he wasn’t the sort to not pay attention or be easily distracted. Something had him on edge. She approached him slowly, each step purposefully measured as she looked down at the floor and began to listen to her surroundings. The place seemed just as quiet as before, but there was something that felt off. Shifting on her right foot, she paused by Harker and he’d notice that her left hand casually make a motion akin to unsheathing a weapon behind her back just before one of her purple-blue energy daggers appeared. She casually leaned against a pew nearest him. “You good? Or are we going to have more problems?” Blue eyes cut away from him as she spoke, focusing on the upper level and though her body would seem relaxed it’d be easy to note that she could be unleashed in a moment. The Greene siblings were always getting mocked for being paranoid, but just cause you’re paranoid. . .
  21. Maree'Anca Marin

    A Storm Stopped

    May 11th, 2022 5:30am DeClan's Apartment Up for a half hour already, coffee was brewing quietly. Instead of hovering over it, the lithe form slid back beneath the warm sheets. Lying on her side, it was cathartic watching the rise and fall of his chest as he slept. He would never believe it, but the furl of his brow disappeared while he was asleep, as did the tension in his shoulders. Truly peaceful. She would let him sleep a bit more, an itch to paint had woken her up before dawn. Leaning up when the coffee pot gurgled to a stop, lips were pressed softly on his forehead. Fingertips traced across the back of his hand and she slid from bed to retrieve a fresh cup of coffee. Bare feet whispered across the floor, coffee in hand as the heated curls of steam drifted lazily past her face. Taking a sip, she watched the horizon from the wall of windows. The ocean was still sullen, cold from its winter slumber. It made the glow just above the water so much more brilliant as the sun came closer to crossing the threshold. White button up was the only thing she wore over a baby blue cami and shorts, curls in a lazy braid that was somewhere between being completely free and a ponytail. They were drifting back to their fiery red. It was time to dye them again. Especially now. The Order had been on her mind. The missing. It was hard not to keep her finger on the pulse of the people she was hiding from. How to stay up with happenings and not draw attention to herself? She hadn't figured that out yet. One more sip from her coffee and she slid into her chair, placing the mug on the small table in the corner that held her paints next to a small easel. He'd offered a room, but there was something about climbing out of bed when the mood struck at a moment's notice. That had been at night lately, just before dawn. Sometimes, she even painted in the dark by city light. Water color was her current medium of choice. The loose colors, soft edges. She'd been working on the skyline for a few days, the horizon never quite right. Today it was warm, the peaches and haze perfect as she tucked up one foot beneath her leg to swish water over her brush, loose foot swinging lazily right above the floor as she mixed her colors.
  22. Rorye Shannon-Kearney

    Chasing Ghosts

    Hands in her pockets, she was pulling her jacket closer to her. Leather was warm, but when there was no heat underneath to keep in it was positively wicked cold. Neck was tense, more so from waiting if he was going to show up. Movement caught her eye, hands out of her pockets and back on her sheaths until she realized it was him. “Get in.” Sense of relief was unexpected. Didn’t have to be told twice. She slid in gracefully, pulling the door shut with a quiet, firm snap. It was the only time in history she was happy to be in a vehicle. Hands rubbed down the muscles of her legs to warm them up, glancing across the dashboard for a heater. Presumptuous to touch his car, she was going to change instead. Right now. Cars took a while to warm up anyway, that she knew. “For the record, mini-skirts are bullshit,” she said under her breath, rolling her lip again through her teeth. It was better, but still tasted like iron. Ankle slid over her knee and she started to work one boot off. Damn muscle cars were only good for one thing, driving, most definitely not trying to change in the front seat. Compact and secure. Her demeanor was unusually reserved; she’d truly expected him not to make it back. In the back of her mind she also didn’t expect to have to explain the things she’d said to him. She didn’t like people thinking she cared. Of course everyone in her neighborhood knew she’d walk through fire for them, but she didn’t go telling them that. She always carried her thoughts close to the vest. “Remy’s dead. Those guys from your shop are sending muscle to his place now to clear it out and then burn it down.” Damn it. She focused on pulling off her boots and what was probably coming next. The best thing to do was tell him to take her home and she would deal with it. Letting ARMA into her business highway was never going to be a good idea. She needed to do it alone. That’s not how this was going to go down though, she was sure of that. “Give me directions and I can start toward his place now,” There it was. “We’ll stop once were closer and rearm. Chances are we might be walking into a fight. And once the boss wakes up, I am sure he will be sending reinforcements. So, time is not on our side.” First boot was slid off and put on the floor. Boots were not easy to get on and off, contrary to pop culture portrayal. They were great to wear, especially over the calf, but positively sucked getting on and off. “Of course we’re walking into a fight. ARMA is always in a fight.” She was not pleased, but her tone wasn’t irritated or snarky; it was quiet. Melancholy almost. She wasn’t going to tell him that they did have time, if only a little. Remy wasn’t a moron, and he knew how to use the things he trafficked. His place wasn’t an open door and if you didn’t know it, the first few visitors would be turned to shredded beef. He was a freaking groundhog, always a back way in. Friends knew it. Others didn’t. Even if they found it, it was still protected. Damn old timer thought he was Indiana Jones. Hell, he could have been the inspiration for him. The other slid off as she let the silence get heavy. She had to tell him. Fuck it all. “Take the 78, we’re going toward Easton Pennsylvania.” It was off 78 somewhere, half way to Easton. Give or take a half hour or so if the roads were still clear of debris. That was all he needed to know for now. The 78 was one of the only roads that wasn’t a death trap nowadays. It was once they left the beaten path it got dangerous, hence why she didn’t want to be on her bike. She unbuttoned the bottom of her shirt and unhooked the sheaths at her waist, setting the small blades on the floor next to her boots. “Are you okay? What happened to your face?” “Probably the same thing that happened to your chest,” still quiet, but definitely held a bit of sting. She avoided his eyes as she unwound the sheath on her back under the shirt. She was incredibly observant. Owning a business on its own was a constant struggle to watch the palmers and shoplifters. Before the end of the world, stealing from an occult shop was just bad karma. Afterward, it was downright stupid. People still did it. The thrill. The necessity given the world was now charged with the unbelievable. Her dark eyes could see movement when they were focused somewhere else, hands specifically a point of attention. It never really turned off. He’d fiddled with something on the left side of his chest, something that bothered him. Hit by something? Had to be wearing Silver Thread or some shit like that, ARMA had all sorts of toys. Probably shot. Dumbass got himself shot. She couldn’t deal with this again. Get close, care about friends, only to watch them end up dead. “I’m changing, it’s freezing. I’m not wearing a seatbelt so don’t kill me ARMA,” she said quietly without answering him, deftly turning and pulling herself to slide between the two seats into the darkness of the backseat. Leather coat off, jeans went on first up and under the mini, buttoned and zipped. She slid the black cami up and over her shoulders, buttoning the shirt back up and leaving it untucked. Getting dressed without tearing everything off was a woman’s magic. All could do it, and it always looked like sorcery. Hair braided in a loose plait down her back, she sat barefoot in the darkness for a bit on the passenger side in the backseat, holding a handkerchief to her lip that she had in her jeans pocket to tie up her hair when she was working in her shop. Feet were tucked up under her thighs as she sat cross legged to warm up; the shivering was miniscule, more tense than anything. It would stop when she warmed up. “I got beat up trying not to kill anyone,” she thumbed her lip again. It seemed to be stopping, might need a stitch. Superglue would work just as well. Her cheek stung, it was definitely turning into a shiner, the bone hurt. Her wrists were stinging too. She pulled her cuffs up, welts from the zip ties. They’d heal. “Bouncer followed me out and tried to zip tie my hands and take me back inside. I ended up against a brick wall. I didn’t kill him, but he’s not getting up for a while.” Should have done more damage. She’d promised not to though. “Guys always go right for the cheek. Busted lip is a bonus,” she wiped her lip again and stuffed the bandana in her pocket, climbing smoothly back into the front seat. Pulling her boots back on, she watched out the window as the darkness whizzed by. Soon, very few lights. Coat in her lap, arm was relaxed on top of it, other elbow on the sill. Head leaned back on the headrest. She was contemplating taking him in a roundabout way as to not divulge any more of her suppliers, there were a lot out this way, networking outward as the Midwest became more accessible again. But, decided that was going to be counterproductive in the short term. “Exact directions for what you found out in the basement,” she said quietly, looking at him for the first time since they got into the car. “What did you find out? How screwed are we?”
  23. Ryan Harker

    Chasing Ghosts

    By the time Harker had finished interrogating the business man, he had put a bullet in the man’s right knee cap and pistol whipped him into unconsciousness. The man hadn’t possessed much information, but the pieces he provided had colossal implications. The businessman, identified as ‘Thomas Hanes’, worked for the crime lord that owned the “Avenue” nightclub. Nothing illegal was produced at the club, instead it served as a neutral ground for meetings and the exchange of goods. According to Hanes, his employer was using his influence to discretely acquire assets on behalf of a high-ranking member within the Order of the First Light. Hanes offered some information on the crime lord and stated they used warehouses near the ports for more important dealings, but couldn’t provide any specifics about the Orders involvement. The fact the Order was involved at all, was enough to confirm Harker’s suspicions. Hanes’ briefcase had contained a series of identical metal coins. The coins appeared ancient, imprinted with familiar markings, though Ryan couldn’t place where he had seen them before. A single piece of silver was plucked from the others and placed in the agents coat pocket. A sample for analysis at ARMA’s labs later on. A digital copy of Hanes’ cellphone was taken for duplication. Cloning the phone would allow Harker to continue gathering intelligence until the businessman replaced the phone for another. Computer hard drives were fried by a magical surge from another of the agent’s covert trinkets. The cameras in the nightclub might be functional, but there would be no recordings available for anyone to review. A hasty sweep of the basement was conducted, but Harker found nothing of significance. All of this had been done quickly. As a Cloak operative, Harker was used to working within a timeframe. Gunfight, interrogation, search of the basement, and sabotaging the computers had all been accomplished in about 12 minutes. This was about two minutes longer than the agent had originally intended, but given Rorye’s success in diverting attention he had the time. Harker scanned the camera’s display to ensure there were no guards in the hallway. Security seemed to be oriented to the front of the business, no doubt trying to throw people out of the establishment. Once his route was clear, the agent emerged from the basement and slipped out the backdoor. Ryan was fairly certain his exit had gone unnoticed. Nevertheless, he was cautious. The operative stayed in alleys away from the street, walking two blocks away from his vehicle before eventually circling back. When he approached the car, he did so from the opposite direction of the club. When he didn’t immediately see Rorye by his sable Challenger, Harker checked his watch. The agent had spent longer avoiding being followed than he had actually spent in the club’s basement. Still, by his watch he had five minutes to spare. As he drew closer to his vehicle, he noticed the feminine figure lurking in the shadows. “Good girl,” he thought to himself. Then waved Rorye toward him with a quick gesture, “Get in.” Once both of them were in the car, Ryan gave Rorye a quick look over. She had clearly been roughed up a bit, but otherwise appeared to be okay. He would get to that in a minute. Mission first. He turned the car around and drove away from the nightclub. “Remy’s dead,” Ryan stated unsympathetically. “Those guys from your shop are sending muscle to his place now to clear it out and then burn it down.” The agent was thoughtlessly rubbing his tender pectoral, when he felt the bullet still embedded in the fabric of his silver-thread jacket. The inside of the vehicle cabin was dimly lit, she probably hadn’t noticed it yet. Casually, he placed the mushroomed piece of led in the compartment on the driver side door. “Give me directions and I can start toward his place now,” Ryan continued. “We’ll stop once were closer and rearm,” he wasn’t asking. The agent spoke as if explaining the next phase of an operation during a mission brief. “Chances are we might be walking into a fight. And once the boss wakes up, I am sure he will be sending reinforcements. So, time is not on our side.” The ARMA operative wanted to call this into headquarters. A tactical team would be the perfect asset to deploy and rapidly secure the apartment. Unfortunately, requesting assistance would mean informing ARMA of the investigation. Based on the conditions of their alliance, the Order would also be alerted. Which meant the Order would know ARMA was close to discovering their involvement in the “unseen threat.” They would purge any and all loose ends. Harker’s leads would be eliminated, as would any chance of him obtaining the proof he needed to destroy the deceptive faction. For now, they would have to go it alone. Blue eyes glanced back to Rorye’s face as he drove. Having addressed the mission essential information, he now addressed his concern for her. “Are you okay?” Voice was softer as he made the inquiry. “What happened to your face?”
  24. Derrick Mason Gray

    Throw Me Sumthin' Mista

    "Big B can't have all the bangs," Nostrils huffed softly as left side of her lips quirked faintly upward, she could hear the smirk in his words. Bastard was enjoying himself. Besides…wasn’t exactly my first choice to barge in…. you happened to be the only one open…. "Well fuck you too then," Snort was a bit louder now, hint of mirth in the sound. He was in a good mood. Where the hell had he been and what the hell had he been doing? His scold was met with a faint scowl behind the dark shades. She knew what he meant but still…. "….If you didn't like it, you wouldn't do it. If it bothers you, don't do it. I have a hard time believing you do things you don't want to." I do what I do because I want to…. being some kids wet dream wasn’t part of that want. It was a raw statement. It had always been that way. The orgasmic rush of pumping through cords faded like a puppy struck by a mac truck when she got off the stage and the audience she never "saw" came crushing in around her. Final snort seemed to flick the last taint of the fangirls from her aura as she listened to him polish. Welcome back…? "Yah... got a couple friends here. Girl I'm sweet on, figured I couldn't be out in the wild hunting for stuff forever." Brow drifted imperceptibly upward then down once more. Why should she be surprised he had a "girl"… probably more than one. It itched at something faintly aggressive that she couldn’t put her finger on. "Big B been busy while I was gone... what the hell is this? This merde why ya haven't stopped by? Busy now?" Chin tilted slightly at the television, listening a moment to the heated battle he was referring to. Words murmured over her lips still tainted with Black Russian. You're the one that vanished without so much as a word. Came by twice tryin' to fill an order. Haven't come by cuz didn’t know you were back. It sounded like she had come by only the twice… truth was.. she had checked far more often than she could count, her feet leading her down the street forcing her mind to frequently come up with some excuse why she was coming that way. She wasn’t likely to ever admit it, but for all their business banter…. she had missed that melodic lilt, missed the smell of earth…… missed…him. She "watched" the screen a moment, listening to the audio with an ear that dissected truths with an unnerving ease. They were both exerting themselves far too hard. It would be dumb luck who won as they were both burning out, every grunt and breath told her as much. Ya….. quite the crowd attractor it seems. Keeps the "my balls are bigger than your balls" off the streets I guess. The faint shrug betrayed it wasn’t her thing, even if a few joked she should be one of the fighters. She had a reputation in the family for being brutal, even when sparring she didn’t hold back. Dark shades glanced back at him. Bringin' in a ton of revenue for the city….. lotta jobs… To date it was the single biggest boost to the east coast economy since the scar tore everyone's world apart. Didn’t necessarily make it a "wholesome" event, but it was hard to argue with the shot in the arm it had given the city. Bakkhos paid well. Left thumb hitched the strap of the case gently to adjust its angle off the bruise its bouncing had left behind on her back hip. Stickin' for a while?
  25. "I don't 'write' my characters, I just watch them do stupid shit and write up the incident reports." ~inebriatednovelist

    1. Cassandra Greene

      Cassandra Greene

      Pfft some days I feel that way as a non-inebriated novelist lol

    2. Zeph


      THIS....TOTALLY THIS!!!!

  26. Ryan Harker

    Begin to Be

    ((Just FYI its actually early morning at the moment, but I don't think changes much plot wise.)) Ryan could see it in the man’s eyes. The intent to kill, but also recognition. In their interaction thus far, Del Santo had arrogantly believed the mage hunter posed no threat. The operative’s willingness to bring the confrontation to a lethal conclusion seemed to force the magus to reconsider his assessment. A familiar chill danced playfully along the back of the agent’s neck and the slack was pulled from his Sig’s trigger. “Stand down, Harker.” Harker remained focused on Rhome; his weapon still trained on the rogue magus. As if snapped out of a trance, the violence seemed to leave the priest’s vision. Rage was replaced by shame. The magus’ stature shifted from fierce predator, to that not unlike a scolded child. Harker’s resolve however, was unphased by the interruption. Cassandra’s stealthy entrance had not gone unnoticed. “Welcome, Captain Greene.” The agent responded, though he didn’t bother looking in her direction. “There won’t be any arrests here today. Father del Santo is considered a rehabilitated rogue magus with a protected status which means that he isn’t to be bothered unless he either contacts us or is in danger.” “Don’t give me that bullshit…” Ryan spat out of the corner of his mouth, but she spoke over him, obviously anticipating his dispute. “If there is any suspicion that he has broke the terms of his deal with us then Knight Division needs to be contacted and a proper investigation conducted.” The Captain’s words carried authority. Cassandra was too close to this case. Having worked with her in the past, Ryan knew she was a good person. Always well intentioned, but her history at ARMA had a blemish where Del Santo was concerned. Her emotions for him clouded her judgment. She had managed to negotiate a deal with ARMA to exonerate the magus, but there were many within the organization that questioned the decision and her motive. Del Santo turning his back on the agency only confirmed suspicions. If ARMA knew the facts about the case Ryan was building; Rhome would likely be considered beyond redemption. Harker didn’t have an “official” case open regarding his investigation of the unseen threat, the Order, or Del Santo. Cloak operatives in general, but perhaps Harker more than most, preferred to keep their findings quiet until a solid case was established. Greene probably knew him well enough to wager no public investigation existed presently. A fact the ARMA Captain now leveraged in conjunction with her rank to control the situation. This was not the time for Harker to stand his ground. By now, the foreboding chill on the back of Harker’s neck had faded. Slowly, he lowered his gun. “We keep losing people. Some of them are dead. Others missing. . . I need you. . .” Both men turned their heads in her direction, both displaying their own sentiments of disbelief. Cassandra was looking only at Rhome, as if there was no one else in the room. “You have got to be kidding me,” Ryan thought to himself. “both working together instead of against each other. Everyone does right now.“ The priest turned his gaze to the floor, “I can’t help you. I’m sorry.” As if defeated in battle, the magus drug his feet as he walked to the pews and took a seat. “Jesus Christ,” Harker cursed shamelessly as he holstered his weapon. Cassandra’s appearance had transformed the rogue assassin into a beaten child. If Rhome wasn’t such a deadly foe, it would almost be pathetic. Ryan crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against one of the pews near the center aisle. Gaze still focused on the fire magus, but he spared an occasional glance in the Captain’s direction. The operative was obviously annoyed, but he listened quietly as Del Santo mentioned his sentiments for Greene’s lost brother. When he stated his conditions for helping ARMA, the two men locked eyes. “Just understand what you may learn about me in the process, I will not apologize for." “Believe me,” Harker chimed in, “some of us know more than you might think.” His inclination to kill the self-loathing priest had yet to dissipate. “Just know this Del Santo,” back straightened slightly as he continued, “If you hurt another innocent, or another member of ARMA…” Eyes narrowed on the man to whom he spoke, “and I’ll be the one to kill you.” Aqua blue hues flicked to Cassandra for a moment, “That’s a promise to you both.” The conversation amongst the three continued. After a time, the hair on the back of Ryan’s neck stood up once more. As if a cool breeze had blown across his shoulders. Chin lifted a little as he surveyed the cathedral. No signs of any approaching danger. Eyes looked to Cass, then to the priest. It wasn’t either of them, at least it didn’t feel that way. Perhaps Rhome had stifled an urge to lash out at him? To the others Ryan might have seemed to distracted during their discourse, as he pondered what his sixth sense was trying to tell him.
  27. The year is 1459. The Nobles are slowly coming to terms with their “Commoner King” and his Queen, though opinions through the realm are divided. But there are now whispers of war on the horizon, Gotland seems intent to raid Alba for what she has, and no doubt Alba will call for aid from her allies. Will Terre d'Ange answer the call? --- Scions of Terre d’Ange is an AU medieval rp set in the world of Kushiel created by Jacqueline Carey. We have been open for a year now, and we are open to people of all experience new and old to the Kushiel-verse with easy to follow resources that can have you jumping into the setting and plot with little knowledge of the books. RULES | PLOT | APP | FACE CLAIM | ADVERTISE | DISCORD
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