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Dreamkeepers Forums - Darkness Falls (I.C) Chapter 2: Decisions Decisions (NC 17)

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Subscribe to this thread Darkness Falls (I.C) Chapter 2: Decisions Decisions (NC 17) created by DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor on March 6, 2013

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DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 1:34am
Prelude

While the snow fell on the early days of winter and everyone was fast asleep in their beds, a cheetah dreamkeeper runs through a back alley. As she ran she kept looking back, worried that it might have found her. When she turned the corner, she saw an empty warehouse and ran into it in hopes that she could hide from it. She peeked outside to make sure it hadn't followed her. As she caught her breath, she took out her data scroll to send a message. While typing, she heard a soft growl coming from behind her. In her panic, she threw her data scroll out the window hoping it would get distracted by it and run. As she ran a pair of claws shot out from her blind spot from above. She would scream but it would cover her mouth. As she struggled to break free, it pulled her up into the darkness and all is still once again.

Chapter 1: Not one less

Kojiki district. North west.

As Arcanas lay asleep on his bed, Elena, his mix breed ryuu-neko flew up and landed on him and starts to lick his face. Arcanas woke up and smiled. He stroked her head and she jumps up. He looks at Lathena who is still asleep. He got up slowly to avoid waking her as he slips out of bed and out of the room. He than heads for the living room and turns on the data scroll and flips to the news channel before heading to the kitchen. As he preps Elena's meal, he heard from the news that another body was found. Just like the others... Half eaten. 5 minutes later, he came out holding his and Elena's breakfast and sat it down on the table in front of the data scroll. As he watched the news and ate, Elena, who was following behind him since he left the room flew up on the table and started to wolf down her food. Arcanas saw this and chuckled. "Slow down girl. Don't choke." Elena looked at him and response "Nya!" She than continues to eat.

Just as Arcanas finishes, a knock on the door was heard. Arcanas got up and looks at the time. "Right on time."

He walked towards the door and opened it. Luna smiled at him and started eyeing him and whistled. "My... you're looking more delicious than ever."

Arcanas chuckled. "And you are thinking too much. Come on in."

Luna smiled and stepped in. "You know my biggest regret? Not making my move on you when you were still ripe for the taking."

Arcanas smiled and said "And now you have to play second to Lathena."

"Well... better than nothing." Said Luna. "Also... I got something you need."

"But..... You want something in return."


Luna grinned and said "Lathena does not mind. But you do."

"What is it?"

Luna stroked his chin and said "Kiss me the way you kissed Lathena during your marriage."

Arcanas chuckled and wrapped his hands around her waist to bring her closer. "That.... can be ar-ranged."

Arcanas looked at her and as he slowly inched closer, he could feel her heart beating so fast he can dance to the beat. Soon their mouths met, locked as they slide their tongue deep into each other as they kissed.

Ten seconds later, he slowly pulled away. Luna pants and said "By the spirits... your unbelievable... I want you more than ever."

Arcanas chuckled and said "Now, now... one is all your getting. How about that info?"

"Oh... it's right here." Said Luna as she parts the coat and unzips her catsuit down to her midsection and shows that the small data scroll is rested between her b usty cleavage. "You want it? Come and get it. Using your tongue." Said Luna as she smiled seductively.

Arcanas signs and said "You just don't give up do you?"

"Since a person like you is so hard to find, I figured I'd have some fun. After all, your the only person who I will be more than willing to surrender myself over to." Said Luna as she lay on the couch with both hands behind her head.

"That is too much information already. Anyone else would have taken advantage of what you just said."

"Which is why you're the only one. Now... come to mommy and get your candy." Said Luna as she smiled.

Arcanas walked over to her and positioned himself carefully on top of Luna as to avoid touching her. Luna just smiled at him as she lifted her left leg and put it atop of Arcanas waist and started to push him towards her. Arcanas froze in place and looked at her.

"You should really stop this or I would get it from you using other means."

"Aw... where is the fun in that?" said Luna as she grinned.

Arcanas continued his slow approach to her chest, Luna moved her right hand from behind her to the back of Arcanas neck. He stops just within range and uses his tongue to slowly pull out the scroll. Just as the scroll is almost out, Luna made her move and thrust Arcanas face into her cleavage.

Arcanas did not struggle. Instead he gave Luna what she wanted. He started to lick her breast very slowly as he reaches for the zip and slowly pulls it down till her waist. Luna was taken by surprise but doesn't stop Arcanas as she starts to moan in pure pleasure.

Arcanas slowly made his way down as Luna pants and struggles not to give in. When he reached the bottom, he slips his tongue into the suit without unzipping it and licks a few inches above her women hood. Luna by now is at the peak of sexual pleasure and is too weak to hold on to Arcanas. She lets go as her arms and legs slipped off.

Arcanas continues for a bit longer before ending it by using the tip of his tongue to lick Luna from the bottom, all the way to the top. Arcanas got up and removed the data scroll from the side of his cheek. Luna was panting on the couch and Arcanas chuckled.

"Did not see that coming?"

"You.... bas... I am... oh.... want... more..."

"I was holding back. But your already...."

Arcanas got close to her and said "Wet.”

He moved away and cleans the data scroll before opening it and checking the information stored inside. Luna zips herself up before getting up and laying on Arcanas back and slides her hands down his chest and down to his waist. Arcanas knows what she is up to and grab her hands and she whispered into his ears.

“You’re driving me up the wall every time you tease me like this. If you keep this up, I’m just going to help myself.”

“Restrain yourself Luna. What I gave you is only the tip of the ice berg. If you behave yourself, I might consider taking it up another level. Now… better go wash up before Lathena wakes up.”

Luna smiled and licks Arcanas face before moving away from him and to the bathroom while he continues to read up on the information from the scroll.

As the light of dawn slipped through the curtains, Kazuma woke up, groaning in displeasure. *sigh, What a terrible night, said kazuma as he started getting out of bed, and headed to the shower. In a morning haze, he didn't pay attention and tripped over some clothes on the floor, and fell straight on his friend's bed. Shocked, Daniel nearly fell out of bed, cursing more words than Kazuma could count.
Arrgh, ****. I'm sorry about that, I wasn't all that awake. I hope you at least got some better sleep than I did, said kazuma, trying to get his face out of the blankets. Though as tired as he was, he might've just about stayed lying there. He got up, and headed to the shower as before, this time trying to pay attention. If he'd trip and fall again, who knows how long it'd be before Daniel stopped cursing. As he got into the showers, he heard Daniel muttering something incomprehensible, as he headed to the living room. Looking outside, the day didn't seem anything special. Just another winter day, though there wasn't alot of snow, which was a good thing. Kazuma was never one to like snow, or anything cold for that matter. After a shower and breakfast, he headed out to a nearby store to get some groceries.


Bad luck.

Umbra never believed in luck. "Luck is for suckers." Does that mean he was a sucker, a fool? For that one moment, he had said, and believed, those unreal words, words that had no meaning in his life, words that meant nothing, little more than the prattling of unhappy, unfortunate people. Well, he must have been a sucker, because when he saw it, those two dead words were the only things that floated in his mind.

Bad luck.

He saw the woman, the cheetah, the poor lady. She ran in, as if something were chasing her and that never meant anything good. Umbra had come to the warehouse to relax, it had been a nice little hang-out while he was in this area. He had never expected that... that... thing.

Bad luck.

He had heard the stories. The times we'ren't hard to keep up with. Just read the front headlines of the closest newspaper ground into pulp in the sidewalk. "Missing Man Found, Only Leg Remains" or "Another Mysterious Murder" or perhaps, in this case "Another Victim, Is it Only Half-Time?" How morbid.

Bad luck.

That's right. He saw. Umbra was there. He saw her throw her scroll, cry for help, be muffled, and pulled into the darkness. For one moment though, he saw the darkness. He saw it and fled.

Bad luck. Bad luck for him. Bad luck for her. Bad luck for all.

Stupid phrase.


As kazuma walked towards his favourite store, he decided to take a bit of a detour, and head to the nearby pond. He sat down for a while, doing nothing more than just taking in the view. He'd always liked to just relax there. Though after a while, he nearly dozed off, as he realized Daniel was still waiting for him. He hurried to the store, not only to save his ears from Daniel, but also get warm. There hadn't been much snow, but it was nonetheless still the middle of winter, and cold as heck.
He hurried to the store, nearly knocking a few people to the ground, as he ran on and shouted an apology back to the group. He went through a small alley, along the walls of few houses and a seemingly abandoned warehouse. Halfway through the alley, he heard the crackling of broken glass above him. As he turned his head upwards, and as he saw a huge shadow on the walls of the houses, he got a knock on the head from some object. As the scratched info-scroll fell beside him and hit the cold snow, so did his unconscious body.


Mira gave the shock troopers at the station the single-fingered salute. She readjusted her attire which consisted of some very light armor and tight, but not catsuit tight, under attire to allow for free movement. She had a stepped down military grade springer upon her hip, which was why she was at the station.

The troopers had grabbed her in under possession of weapons. After a heated argument and a bloody nose for a chance grope, they were forced to let her go based on her contract mercenary permit allowed by the city. Needless to say, none of the parties involved left in a good mood.

Mira hated this city, it had thrown her out on the streets to die, begging for food and watching executives walk by, talking on their data scrolls. Millions in the bank, and not a coin for a poor starving girl. She shook her head, dwelling on the past would not be very wise.

She stopped by a news-data scroll. She sighed, more deaths, and thins time it seemed by more and more animals. She checked her sidearm reassuringly, more people should be allowed to protect themselves. If not with their natural born powers, then at least some form of protection. Things would only get worse and worse from here on out.

She left the scroll and headed out into the street. Lots of 'keepers were bundled up against the slight cold, but Mira was unperturbed, her thick fur kept her warm regardless of the chilly surroundings. ((OOC: her fur is actually copious enough that she can walk around in the buff, and still be decent for the public))

It was a little bunched up under her suit, but a little shifting solved the problem.


Day 1

Well, that was neither here, nor there now.

Now, Umbra was busy with business, as usual. In another big dark room. What was it with important people and big dark rooms with one light trained on them and one on you. It's gaudy and cliche and no one likes it anymore.

"I heard you would like to play a game." Umbra said in his most silky voice as he looked up at the large figure. "What would you like to stake?"

Umbra's job had somehow evolved into this. A game for bigwigs with too much time on their hands, and little care for the usage of powers. They wanted a show and a show they would get. He had a game, and they wanted to play.

But then there were those who wanted more money. Umbra had that. But he always needed more lucre. His father had always said that, you can never have too much. A safety net.

And a spider web. Too much money always attracted too much attention. So he had to bal-ance. Sometimes he lost to opponents if the stakes were low. It advertised the possibility of his loss. Not that he had ever lost for real. He just let them win, and think they won. But it made his business all the sweeter.

And riskier. There had to be a more stable way to make money that didn't involve settling in a district...

"50,000 lucre." Came an answer. He had been so lost in his thoughts, Umbra had almost for-gotten why he was here. A game. Right. Did he plan to win or lose today?

"I accept, will you come down here please?" The light followed him as he walked off his high pedestal down to where Umbra stood.

And when he was in range. Players, Pieces, Game--Start.


Ah hour later. After everything was taken care of, Arcanas and Luna left the house and head for the center of the district. As they arrived, Arcanas starts to look around. Not many people out at this timing. Which is what he wanted. Arcanas took out the data scroll and starts to look through it as he walked. Luna followed behind.

"You sure it's such a good idea? What if you get caught?"

"The trick is to go in just enough that they cant see us. Besides, the body is inside. We are just look-ing around the outside."

As they circled the warehouse, they saw someone half buried in the snow. Arcanas looks around before signalling Luna to move in. Luna walks up to the person and starts to brush the snow off. Once she is done, she flips him over and checks his pulse.

"How is it?"

"Breathing. But body temperature is dropping after being half buried."

Arcanas sees a small object next to the person. He walks up and pulls it from the snow.

"A data scroll. Check for wounds on the head."

Luna checks for any bumps and found one at the upper right corner of the head.

"Looks recent. Think it might be that, that knocked him out?"

"Maybe. But first. Get him out of here and to my place. You and Lathena are to hold him there till he wakes up. I'll join you once I am done here."

"Aw.. you always have all the fun."

Arcanas chuckled and said "Do as I say, and I might make you scream."

He got close to her and looked her in the eye. "How badly do you want that?"

Even though the temperature outside is low to the point of freezing, Luna can feel her body temperature sky rocketing and her heart racing after hearing what Arcanas said.

"You really know how to get a girl on don't you?"

"It just comes naturally. But... only to those I know."

Luna lifted the person from the snow and carried him over her shoulder. Arcanas hands the data scroll over to her.

"Avoid giving him the scroll. We are not sure if it's his or not."

"Noted."

Luna pockets the scroll and a navy blue halo formed above her head as she turned and walked into the dark corner of the warehouse and fades away.

Arcanas is now alone and continues to inspect the area. Once he cant find anything, he left the area and fades into the morning crowd.


Luna arrived at Arcanas place as she steps out from the store room which was kept dark as an entry point if Arcanas ever uses his power to move from where ever he is to back home. Luna carries the person to one of the spare bed rooms and strips him. She than dries him up before tucking him in and leaving the room.

Lathena, is already awake and smiled when she saw Luna.

"So.... what have we got today?"

"Guy found outside the warehouse house of the latest victim. Arc asked that he be brought here and held till he is back."

She looks at Luna who is wearing a translucent black nightgown.

"I think you better cover up before he wakes up."

Lathena smiled.

"Any other male other than him sees me in this, I'm going to have to castrate them on the spot. No anaesthetic."

"Ooooohhhhhh..... kinky."

Lathena chuckled.

"I'm going take a bath. Keep our "guest" on a short leash."

"Will do."

Lathena heads back to the room and locks the door behind her while Luna sits in the living room and turns on the data scroll and flips through the channels.


The crowd annoyed Mira. She could feel the apathy like a sickening wave flowing in the street. It made her rather irritable. She walked past a particularly loud data-scroll, and stopped, breathing in and out.

Leave, such an easy term thrown about. She cursed. It would be a lot easier to enjoy herself without the memory of the damn shock troopers detaining her. But the memory of her fist connecting with the pervert's face brought a smile to her lips.

In a better mood. She walked away from the loud scroll, and shifted her way through the crowds.

She accidentally bumped into a dreamkeeper in the crowd (Arcanas). And her precarious mood set off.

"Watch where you're going!" She snarled, fed up with the city.


The only reason she was even here was due to a stupid spa resort filled with people pretending to be homosexual to get in free gropes. Needless to say, a few of the men there now spoke in a higher octave. She had the remaining time to herself, and thus, she was here, yelling at a stranger for a small bump.
Smooth Mira, smooth.


Arcanas was deep in thoughts when he bumps into Mira who snarled at him to watch where he is going. Arcanas smiled and bowed .

"My most humble apologies madam. I was deep in thoughts and was not aware of where I was going. This will not happen again. May you have a pleasant day."

Arcanas bows again and awaits the lady's response.


A hangover? No. He hadn't been drinking. He barely ever does. Yet his head felt like he'd slammed it into a wall. As he got up, he started looking around him. "What..whe..what is this place.."
He woke up in a dark room. The light hadn't been left on, and the curtains had been closed, which made it hard to get an idea of what the room looked like. It appeared a pretty ordinary bedroom, a quite fancy one at that too. The bed was overly large for just one person, and the furniture appeared to have a expensive taste to it, as far as he could see.
He got up out of the bed, and put on his clothes which were lying on a chair in the other end of the room. He wasn't sure what to do now. He was in a unknown house. And the odds were they probably hadn't left him alone there. But he didn't know if these people were friendly, or if they were out for something from him. But staying in that room wasn't going to answer anything. He'd thought about breaking the window. But that would end up drawing alot of attention, he said to himself. Though he didn't care for that. For the most part, he just wanted to know who brought him here. Who brought him to this luxurious bedroom..from where..
He tried remembering what had happened. "Wait..groceries!..i was walking towards the store..from the pond.."
But that didn't help him much. It still didn't tell him any reason why he had been brought here. Until he remembered the alley. The shattering glass. And the shadow. He wasn't going to think that the monster had brought him here. If whatever that shadow was had anything to do with it, he'd probably be dead. So then, maybe the authority has something to do with this, he muttered to himself. Now thinking that whatever brought him here probably wasn't any bad person, he decided to try the door. Locked.
Why would they want to lock him in here. Thinking about it wasn't going to help, so he knocked on the door, hoping for someone to open up and explain all this.


Cyprus was walking, when suddenly the floor gaveway, as he fell the only thing he could think was, "I hope i don't fall on an old lady..." Luckily when he landed he fell on something relatively soft, but when he stood up it was still there...like a weight. He turned and looked on his back and lo and be-hold! "Holy ****! I did fall on an old lady!"

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

"AGH!" Thump.

Cyprus pushed himself off of his wooden floor and leaned against his bed.

"I hate it when i fall on old people..."

Cyprus reluctantly heaved himself off the floor and stumbled into the bathroom and doing the morning business before going back to his bedroom and putting on his black cargo shorts and white tee-shirt.

"Food. Must. Have. Sustenance."

Cyprus managed to make some toast, which was a feat for him as he usually burnt it into crispy oblivion. He slathered some jam onto his toast before putting a slice in his mouth and putting on his jacket, grabbing the second peice and walking out his door into the snow and rocky confines of the Ruskol district.

"Kojiki District, i must go! i feel the calling! plus i wanna look at the furry worms."

Kojiki district...no snow, much more tolerable. Cyprus walked past the very 'zen' styled buildings until he found one that sold a datascroll with the news. He paid the few lucre it took and read the latest headlines...Murder, Murder, Death, Death, Death. Oh hey, a kid saved from almost getting run over by a knossus, thats nice...oh hey, the guy who saved her? dead. Sighing he closed the data scroll and put it in his pocket.

"At least it can't get worse. Oh no..."

Looking skyward Cyprus shouted, "I did'nt mean it! Don't smite me down or something!"

Cyprus smiled when he saw some other people staring at his as though he were crazy.

"Don't mind me! just escaped the crazy house."

A shout was heard from across the crowd, so Cyprus jumped to see who was making such a ruckus. well...besides him of course. Turns out it was some very angry and rather fluffy dreamkeeper. Deciding that going over there would be far more intriguing than his current position he sally-d forth. He finally made it over to the fluffy one and the other dreamkeeper and put on his best trooper voice.

"Hey! Whatcha doin makin all this racket?" He said with a big ole grin plastered on his face. Was never very good at being serious...it was over-rated really.


Elena was playing with a soft rubber ball that Arcanas bought for her a few days ago and rolling it and chasing it around near the door where the person was locked in. She stood on her rear legs and threw the ball up and tries to catch it with her hands when she heard the knocked coming from the door. She looked at the door and tilts her head to the right.

"Nya?"

As she looks at the door as the ball lands on her head. Her ears droups and she shakes it off. She looks at Luna and flew up to her and starts to paw at her arm. Luna looks at her.

"Yes?"

Elena got off her arm and back at the door and paws at it while looking at Luna. Luna got up and walk towards the door and opens it.

"Morning. Did you have a good rest?"


Zoe watched the news on the reports about the mysterious murders and cannibalism. Surrounded by her two Ryuu- nekos, Puddle curled up on Zoe's lap. Steamer spit some saliva which is usually commands for food.

Zoe looked at the little fire neko. "You that hungry Steamer?" Steamer spit again. Puddle stretched and climbed around Zoe. "Nya!" Zoe sighed and walked into the kitchen. While making coffee and watching them eat. She turned to exit the kitchen back to the TV. A sploosh came from behind and Zoe whipped around. Puddle swam around in the sink full of water. Steamer watched Puddle closely.... a little too close. Puddle popped up and pulled him into the water.

Steamer squeaked and fell in. Puddle swam like she didn't do anything. "Puddle, that wasn't very nice."
Zoe walked to the sink and pulled Steamer out. Steamer hissed at Puddle and Puddle hissed back.
Zoe tapped each of them on the head. "Quit it!" Steamer spit on himself to dry off. As a little re-venge he spat at Puddles paw. Puddle squealed and scurried over and hid behind Zoe.

"Steamer!" She whipped around and marched back at him. "You are both coming with me." She pulled on her sweatshirt. Puddle and Steamer perched themselves on Zoes shoulder. She walked out the door and into the cold winter day. Puddle and Steamer fluffed up and decided Zoes shoulders was too cold. They climbed into her pockets and curled up next to each other. Zoe decided to head to the store. She passed the warehouse where the dreamkeeper was found cannibalized. She shuddered and continued on.


The game had been easy enough to win. A simple game of Taboo. The rules were elementary:

1. Say a coherent sentence after your opponent does that contains at least 3 words.

2. After you say your sentence, name a letter. Your opponent cannot use that letter in their next sentence or any following sentence, nor may you pick a letter that has been picked by the opponent.

3. Speech may not pause for more than 5 seconds. If it does, the person whose turn it is loses.

A fair game. The atmosphere was just right. The world they had been drawn into was a distorted office room. No exit door. No windows. Just a gray room with a table, two chairs, and a clock.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

They took their seats and began their game.

"And so our game begins Mr. Juloth." e

"And how art thou today?" a

"Fine enough sir, fine enough." h

"Mm. Days pass fast, now." i

"One must remember to slow down." o

"Mm..." The man had slowed down. The automatic reaction to his comment was usually an affirmative answer. However, the rules prevented "Mm." the onomatopoeia from counting. Then the easiest way to fix that was with affirmative answers like, "Yes," or "Indeed," or if you were being very open, "Affirmative."

He had won.

"...f*ck it." t

Nevermind. Saved by a vulgarity. "Be more clever." u

"..." Simple mind. Well, not entirely. Just simple when it came to wordplay. This man, he knew, was a keen businessman. Some people just weren't ready for the games though.

"Well, it was fun playing with you," said Umbra. "I really found the vulgarity twist interesting, if only momentarily."

And Umbra walked away 50,000 lucre and one black briefcase richer. He picked up his spoils and went on his way.

Well, that was neither here, nor there. Right now, he had more business to attend to. Business of a more secretive manner. More dark. More morbid.

"To go or not to go?" Umbra said to nobody in particular. He was already waiting. But there was always the opportunity to bail out at the last minute. Hmm...


As the door opened surprisingly fast after he'd knocked, he'd gone a bit speechless.
He'd expected some tough looking guy. Or someone in a riot suit. Or whatever they'd be wearing. Whatever it was, he hadn't expected this. Not the least bit.
In front of him was someone he didn't know. A black female, probably around 20 years old, had opened the door, but said nothing. "Why did you take me here, and not the hospital or something?", he asked as he stepped back a bit. He wasn't sure what to expect from her, but standing and inch away from her unarmed didn't seem a good idea. He still didn't know if she wanted something from him, or had just brought him here after he'd gone unconscious.


"Well, here goes nothing."

Umbra knocked on the door to Arcanas home.


Mira came within an inch of punching the dreamkeeper who said something in an imitation of a trooper's voice. She stopped and looked at him, immediately disliking him due to his goofy grin.

"Nothing." She said in a voice that coulda been used to freeze nitrogen. She then turned to Arcanas, the one she had bumped into and said in an annoyed voice,

"Sorry for bumping into you, I just need to get out of this damn street."

She had one ear on the other dreamkeeper however, she didn't like that he had simply sauntered up and thrown himself into the disagreement, even worse so, trying to crack a joke. Her countenance turned from angry to icy. She wanted to get off this street, or even out of the city before she killed someone.


"Finally. I'm cleared. Stupid flying regulations. Like there's so much that can go wrong."
He'd never liked being stuck to rules. They limited him, while he could be doing so much more with his life. But he had to. As he just left his house, Valen spread his wings and took off to work. He'd have a long day ahead of him, and if he was late, he'd probably lose his hearing from his boss.
As he got closer to the Courier's center, he realized he was just flying over "The" warehouse. It had already been covered in the news earlier that day. He noticed a bit of a crowd, and he'd been interested to check out the warehouse nonetheless. He figured his boss could go walk off a cliff anyways. If he needed a new job, he'd get one. It wasn't any issue. People that can fly are always useful. And Valen was one of the fastest around.

After he'd landed in a clear spot, he went to peek into the warehouse. It'd been blocked off, but there were still gaps you could look through. Nothing interesting. Just a warehouse as far as he could tell. As much as he wanted, there wasn't any way for him to sneak in there in broad daylight. Instead he turned his interest to the crowd. He was pretty sure he'd heard a trooper, but he couldn't see anyone that looked the part. All he could make out were three people in some sort of arguments. The other people seemed to have nothing to do with, and after all turned out just to be passing by. as they walked on, the three people and himself were the only ones still standing there, though the argument seemed a bit heated and Valen wasn't too sure if it was still in his best interest to stay there. He should have just moved on, or went to his work. But curiousity got the better of him as he loudly asked the three of them if something was the matter.


Zoe walked out of the market place with a smile on her face and Puddles and Steamer trying to climb into the bag to get their new toys. "Wait until we get home you two." Steamer found his new ball and pushed it out of the bag. "Nya!" He hopped out and chased the ball around.
Zoe sighed. "Your pushing that home. I'm not carrying it for you." Steamer didn't seem to mind. Walking back home Zoe passes a house that has a black lizard standing by a door. He looked either locked out, in trouble or just visiting a friends house. He looked a little uneasy like he didn't know what was going on but also looked simply calm. It was a little confusing. Zoe flicked her ear and took a deep breath. "Are you locked out?"


As Arcanas waits for her response, another dreamkeepers drop in from nowhere and starts asking question in a non serious manner.

"Nothing much. We just bump into each other. That's all."

As Mira apologies to him and saying that she wants off the street. Arcanas said.

"I got a place that is off the road and near the beach. Want to crash there and warm up? Beats hav-ing to look for another place when your out of town."

Arcanas looks at the other dreamkeeper.

"How about you?"


Back at Arcanas house


"Lets see... well... your out cold by the scene of the latest murder, the data scroll which knocks you out does not belong to you, and your half buried in the snow. Taking you to the hospital will have some unwanted questions shot our way. That's why your here. Besides, my friends want to ask you some questions."

"Our guest is awake?"

"Yeah. He is."

Lathena came out of the shower dripping wet and wearing only a towel. When she heard a knock on the door.

"I'll get it. You keep him company."

Lathena walked towards the door and opens it and sees Umbra.

"Ah.. Umbra. How nice to see you again. Come on in. Arc is out at the moment but he will be back soon."

She looks behind him and said

"Is that your friend?"


Just after Umbra knocked on the door, he heard someone say something in the tones of a question.

"Ahh, no." answered Umbra, on automatic. It took him a while to realize someone had asked him something, courteously. A different face, he needed to put on a different persona... he didn't want to worry her. "Sorry, I'm a bit lost in thought at the moment, but it's nothing to worry about. I just got here, my friend should be with me shortly."

Just then, the door opened to a girl in only a towel--Lathena. "Ah.. Umbra. How nice to see you again. Come on in. Arc is out at the moment but he will be back soon. Is that your friend?"

"No, ma'am. She just noticed me on the street and had the decency to ask if I had a problem, that's all." He then turned his attention back to the girl. Decency said he should hint that Lathena should invite her in. Secrecy said that he should hurry her on her way. Ambiguity, how could he use it here?

"It's cold out here, it was a nice sentiment you held out to me." Umbra reached into his overcoat pocket and pulled out his wallet. Already, he had added about 1,000 of his lucre to the tool. He pulled out a hundred. "Here, take it; the world needs more people like you."

Most people, when handed money from strangers random or otherwise, would be wary of them and try to get away ASAP. This way, he would still be in the right in her eyes (if suspicious), get the girl away without it getting too awkward, and look good in the process. Diplomacy.


Mira shrugged, feeling calmer. The dreamkeeper was a least polite, which was a score one for him.

"I need to cool off more than warm up, but i have nothing better going on." She then leaned in close, so he could feel the heat of her breath,
"This springer isn't for show, so don't get any funny ideas." She stepped back, out of the keeper's 'bubble'. Feeling better, now that she had something else to dwell on, she smiled,
"What's the world coming to eh? I go to your home with out even knowing your name." She held out her hand, "I'm Mira, sorry for exploding a second ago."

She turned to the other dreamkeepers standing there,
"And what are you two gawking at?"


"I guess you're right, though, who do you mean with 'Your friend'?"
Kazuma was curious, even though he had gotten unconscious at an unusual place, there was-n't anything more to it than just that. Maybe they were interested in what had killed her? But nobody else could've known about that shadow he saw, right? There wasn't anyone near him at the time who could've also seen it. "Well nonetheless, thanks for taking me here. My name's Kazuma. But i'm more used to the name Kazma. and your name is?"
Right after he'd asked, he saw a woman walking in, wearing nothing but a towel, and still dripping wet. He thought he'd heared a shower in the house, which must've been her. Just at the time, knocking was heard on the door, after which the woman opened the door, but he couldn't see who was at the door from his location.

~~
"No. I was just trying to look inside. Isn't this where that murder took place? Just curious if I could see anything out of the ordinary. I'd like these damn deaths to end sometime already.
He'd just replied when he heard someone talking about a beach house, and had seemingly in-vited the woman standing near him, when he turned to Valen and asked him too. Unsure at first, he answered:"Well, my damn boss is going to be firing me anyway for being late. I never liked him anyway, so I can't be bothered. Well, heck, I've got nothing to do, why not?", at which he nodded to the person who'd just asked him.



Ah, a simple matter of one bumped into the other, so very simple. But as Cyprus stood there watching the two, he got the strange sensation that the fluffy one didn't seem to like him. He'll try to change that eventually. throughout this conversation he hadn't said much, so very uncharacteristic, so he figured he should start talking when the other dreamkeeper offered to let him go to his house near the beach.

"my mother always told me not to go with strangers...and besides shouldn't you also be offering candy and icecream? But I'll join this little escapade. Names Cyprus."

He did a little bow, imitating the other one from earlier. So Mira was her name, he preferred fluffy, but he'll decide on her final name at a later date.

"I am not gawking. Merely observing. okay...potentially gawking, it 's possible."


Zoe shifted her weight at the black lizard. She flicked her ear as he held out 100 lucre. "Um... thanks." She took it and Steamer looked at Umbra suspiciously Puddles stuck her nose out of the bag to see if Zoe had treats. She sniffed it then went back in the bag.

Zoe backed up to turn and head home.


When the dreamkeeper introduce herself, Arcanas smiled.

"Mira. Simple yet sweet. My name is Arcanas Taylor. Pleasure to meet you."

He than took her hand and gently kissed it before letting go.

"And don't worry. I won't want to get into any trouble with you at all. I prefer that we become friends."

The other dreamkeeper introduce himself as Cyprus an bowed.

"Nice to meet you Cyprus. I'm Arcanas Taylor. And our other fellow what might your name be? And would you guys prefer to walk? Or by other means?"

Back at Arcanas Place

When the person asked who her friend was, Luna smiled.

"He will be back later. Don't worry so much. It's not like we are going to kill you or anything like that.

After the person introduce himself as Kazma. He asked for her name.

"Name's Luna Dei Cacciatori Di Anima. Nice to meet you Kazma."

She than reaches up and stroke his chin and grinned.

"Would you like to eat me?"

Luna, in the mean time was dealing with Umbra until he went to talk to the other dreamkeepers and she sees him handing her 100 lucre.

"Hm... wonder why is he paying her?"


"Walk? Heh, I'm covered. What's the place at? I'll just wait for you guys there, I could use a bit of exercise, and I'm only cleared for a few more hours today. Luckily the government doesn't know I'm fired right now, or I'd be stuck walking too. Oh, and the name's Valen by the way. Nice to meet you I suppose."

~~

"Err, what?" She didn't ACTUALLY just say that, did she? I must've misheard that, Kazuma thought to himself. I'm sorry, I've only just woken up and I'm a bit dizzy. Can you repeat that?"
He was and he wasn't hoping he'd heard that correctly. On one side, he only just met her. But on the other, there was no disagreeing that the woman was rather beautiful. Astounding even, in his opinion.


Mira took her hand back a little quicker than she would have liked. Now she didn't trust the guy, Arcanas. Who did that kind of thing anymore? Save for the ones looking to get into her pants.

"I'm fine with walking. And yes, friends we will Remain." The last part of the sentence was said ra-ther icily.


Umbra waited until the girl was no longer in his sight to invite himself in. Steeping in, he took off his large overcoat and his suit leaving only his white shirt, black tie, and dress pants.

"Ah, well, that was unexpected, but I wasn't lying when I said the world needs more people like her." Umbra scanned the room, but found nothing of interest until he spotted the dreamkeeper lying in a bed being nursed by a girl. Or something.

"Ah, who's the other guy?"


"I'm really stupid aren't i Steamer?" Zoe asked him quietly. The little Neko shook his head and curled into her hoodie. She walked past a group of 4 people that were heading toward the house. "Excuse me." Zoe said and quickly went around them.

Steamer looked out the hoodie at one of them. He hissed and curled back up. Puddles tilted her head at Zoe. "Mew?' Zoe sighed and continued walking.


"Walking sounds good, unless this guy here wants to give us all a ride."

Cyprus looked at Valen, knowing that there was no way in hell that he could carry em all. Unless he was a lot stronger then he looked, but he doubted it.

"C'mon Mira, no need to be so persnickety."

Oh he was going to get punched one of these days...and judging by fluffy's icy personality it'd probably be by her and relatively soon. Cyprus sighed and looked around hoping he'd see a ryuu-neko. They were slightly adorable, despite reminding him of a worm with fur and tiny legs. He kept gazing across the crowd until he found someone with not only one, but two furry worms! And she had walked right by them not but a mere moment ago! luck was with him right now. Cyprus quickly jogged over to her.

"You have furry worms. Wait, that sounded weird, i meant that you have ryuu-nekos. Please don't mace me or something, i promise i'm not trying to be creepy."

Cyprus smiled, which may not have helped with the current situation of him trying to not be creepy. furry worms? not a great way to start out a conversation.

"uh...so, um, what are their names?"

Smooth.


Zoe flicked her ear at the sound of a voice. She turned. "What? Oh.. my ryuu-nekos?" This was a little awkward she was telling some dreamkeeper about her pets that she didn't even know his name! "The blue one is Puddle and the red one is Steamer. They don't know you so they might not be very friendly.." At the sound of the dreamkeepers voice Steamer hissed. "I'm Zoe... and you are?"

Puddles popped out of the bag and squeaked at him. She managed to throw a toy at his head. "Sorry... you scared her when she popped out." Puddles glowered at him from the bag. "Nya."


When all three agree to walk and the other dreamkeeper introduced himself as Valen, Arcanas welcomes him.

"Hey there. I guess you already heard my name. You can call me Arc for short."

Mira on the other hand. Did not take the way Arcanas welcomes her very well and by the tone of her voice and among other things, it's a dead give away that she is pissed. Arcanas raised both hands and said calmly.

"I'm sorry for what I did. I did not know you took that as something else. I assure you. I have no other intonation other than to be your friend. If you want, I will write a small note that you can use against me if I try anything. To prove that I am serious. I'll use my blood to write it."

As Arcanas waits for her answer. A girl walked past them and a hiss is heard as the ryuu under the hat hisses at one of them. Before Arcanas can say anything, Cyprus went over to the get and engage her in a conversation.

As they talked, Arcanas sees the fire ryuu under her hoodie hissed at Cyprus and another ryuu sticking its head out of the bag and scrambling bag in. But nope before throwing a toy at Cyprus head.

Arcanas chuckled as the scene reminds him of Elena when he just got her back home the first time.

Arcanas house

Luna smiled and continues to stroke his chin.

"How about I put it this way?"

She reach for his crouch and gently squeezes them and got close to him and whispered into his ears.

"Strip me down and tease me very slowly. Drive me up the wall. Make me begge for you. Than slowly part my legs and slide into me. Move so ever slowly as you feel me and hear the sounds of my moan as I begge for more. As an added bonus. I'm still a virgin.

Elena looks at both Luna and Kazuma as they talked. She than grabs her ball using her mouth and flew to the couch and plays with her ball.

As the girl Umbra gave the money to left and he came in saying the world needs more people like her and asking about who the other guy was, Lathena closed and locked the door and turns to him.

"People like her are hard to find these days. They are a dieing breed. Same as Arcanas. As for who that person that Luna is toying with is. No idea. But since Arc requested that he be brought back here. I assume he has a good reason. Now... let me get some clothes on. I'll be right back."

Lathena left and heads back to the room to get changed.


Umbra walked into the other room silently and took a seat while he listened to Luna sweet talk the other guy. After she had said her deal, he piped up.

"Ah, so tomboy Luna is now sexy manipulative vixen. Ah, poor guy doesn't know what to do," Umbra got up from his chair and shrugged a bit. " Ahah, granted... I wouldn't either. This is a real personality change. Ah heck, back in school, if anyone so much as spread a bad rumor about you, ah, granted many of them were true, you'd track them down and beat them up. Oh. So. Unsexily."

He started to pace. "Poor boys wouldn't know what hit them. Except Arc. Ah, well, I guess people do change over time. Ah, I can see now is not a good time to catch up. Continue with the man, I saw, and continue to see, nothing."

And so Umbra sat back down in the chair.


"Damn."
He knew Luna wasn't going to give up. But except for the fact that another person he didn't know just walked in, it didn't really matter to him. Luna was between him and the door. Looking at Luna's behaviour, he wasn't going to be let through that door anytime soon.
"Perhaps close the door?"

~~

"Nice to meet you Arc. So where's that place you mentioned earlier? I wish I could carry the bunch of you and make the trip a bit easier, but I wouldn't exactly get far. Though I can carry one person, if anyone hates walking."



Well, he's a little melodramatic.. Mira thought. She then sighed and shrugged.
"No need for that, I suppose I'm just overreacting. I don't think you'll do anything." Mira lied. As much as she didn't trust him, he wasn't a very threatening person, and even if he did try anything, she'd just take out on his hide.

"Why don't we get going? Flyboy here offered to carry someone there. Wise-*** is over fawning at another pretty girl... I'd say we should quit standing around."


As Elena plays with her ball, she looks up from the couch at Umbra. She than grabs the ball using her mouth and flew towards him and lands on his lap. She looks at him and nudges the ball at him as she paws at him.


"Oh, and who are you little fuzz?" Umbra saw the ball, "Oh? You want to play a game... hahaha." Umbra chuckled remembering the day's events. There was a coffee table next to the chair so he set the ball there, then flicked it. The ball, being a bit bouncy, jumped around the room in reaction.


As the ball bounced around, Elena jumps off Umbra's lap and chased after the ball. She tried to catch the ball as it bounced around but misses it by inches. When she does catch the ball, she flew back to Umbra's lap and lands there. She sat the ball down and wags her tail happily.

"Nya!"


Cyprus looked at the Ryuu that hissed at him, steamer it's name happened to be, and the others name is puddles...hmmm. Seems like she prefers things that go together. Zoe...interesting name. A nickname will start brewing on the backburner meanwhile introductions are in order.

"Cyprus, nice to meet ya!"

He held out his hand for a shake before a ball happened to hit him in the head. He shook his head from side to side trying to clear the weird feeling it made, but not succeeding at all.

He turned around at the sound of Mira saying something about him fawning over another pretty girl. Shouting over to them "Hey, it's not nice to call Arcanas a pretty girl!" He turned back around with a grin on hi face, it practically never went away. He reached down and grabbed the ball that had struck his face and handed it back to Zoe.

"Hey, want to join the group? we're going on an adventure and could always use another person!"


Ann scurried up from bed, if so it could be called really being more a shoddy collection of rags and an old tossed out comforter, desperate to get to work on time after having overslept, or one should say slept in later than usual as Ann had the strangest tendency to always show up two hours early for work and start sweeping the isles of the small grocery store the perky jackal/rat had recently begun working at if only to serve as eye candy for the horrible creepy boss who seemed to have a disturbing interest in Ann.

Today Ann had woken up "late" because being homeless and poor meant that Ann's alarm clock had to be a precocious ryuu-neko by the name of Bas who often wandered off to hunt the deadly shoe beasts attached to 'keepers legs as they walked around town early in the morning. . . for his masters protection of course. But today was not just another day that Bas had run out, gotten lost, and forgotten to wake his master, today Ann simply forgot that due to the recent incidents of murder and butchery in the area the store had closed down today. Still blissfully ignorant of this Ann raced down the labyrinthine alleyways shouting a continuous stream of, "Frick, frick frick, frick, frick, frick, frick, friiiiiiiiiick! I can't lose this job! C'mon Ann ya finally got a decent job here and what do you do? Oversleep of course!Boss is gonna be soooo mad!"

The panicked dreamkeeper panted and pushed on ahead as Bas spotted his master and jumped gleeful into his home in Ann's hood making a purring "Nya~" as he landed and hugged the back of his owner's neck. Ann's large pointy ears perked as Bas latched on and the keeper smirked, "Ya know if you weren't so damn cute I'd be mad at you for not waking me up this morning we're gonna lose the box over our head because of you though someday I swear." Bas resounded by cocking his head and giving a resounding, "Nyaaa~" then curling up in his master's hoodie to sleep fully aware that Ann was in no way late for work.

Ann's golden eyes fixated on the warehouse were the murder had occurred as they passed by. Ann crossed this place every day to and from work and had never really taken stock of it before but late last night Ann coulda sworn noises were coming that old place. .. noises that sent chills down the dreamkeeper's spine and goosebumps to the skin even thinking about it now. So chilling was the thought that Ann didn't even realize that the alleyway had been left behind and given way to the hustle and bustle of the busy city streets before one keeper (Arcanas) who was also distracted by something behind him apparently trotted directly on the poor jackal/rats long tail drawing a squeak from Ann and leading to a face first dive directly into the ground with Bas rolling in a confused fluffy little ball outside of his nice warm hoodie burrow.

"Owww. . . " the dreamkeeper's golden eyes began to well over with hurt from the fall as Ann tried to get back up off the chilly flooring sniffling a bit before glancing up at the keeper whom had help perpetrate said tripping and immediately folding back those long black jackal ears and sputtering apologetically, "Oh spirits I'm so sorry I got in your way! You alright?" Ann sniffled.


Mira, annoyed, shot back,
"Im sorry, I didn't realize you were a homosexual! Don't worry girl, you'll be perfectly safe with him!" She then turned back to Arcanas just as a teenage girl ended up at his feet somehow. The girl's stature was demure and self demeaning, this was someone who was used to getting the short straw in life. She also had on slightly damaged clothes, easy fixes, if you had the money. Then Mira looked at her eyes, eyes that panted back like a whip, eyes she recognized from her mirror so long ago.

"Geez! Are you okay?" Mira bent down and offered a helping hand. She glanced up at Arcanas, who seemed no less worse for wear.
"He's okay, here, lemme help you up." This girl had completely and totally killed her will to be angry, now all she wanted to do was help, help a girl who had been in the same spot as her so long ago, no hope, no life, bound for nowhere, and with no way out. Of no one helped her, it would take a miracle to turn her life around.


Seeing the kind and very, very fluffy hand extended Ann graciously took hold of it and pulled up getting off the chilled ground and proceeded to wipe some of the tears away as well as get some of the dust off that accompanied the small scratches associated with the fall. "Mhmm I-I'm fine thanks." Ann ears began to perk a bit finally seeing a happy and friendly face as it had been a while since anyone was directly so kind to Ann and this face in particular seemed strong and proud like it belonged to someone who stood up for what they wanted,a true warrior at heart, and if the armor and gun were anything to go by she really was. The jackal/rat sniffled a bit as Bas hissed at Arcanas' foot and kicked up some dirt onto it before scurrying back up into his home in Ann's dusty hoodie and balling himself up against the nap of Ann's neck for comfort. "

"I'm sorry about that Bas is really protective of me if he thinks anyone's out to hurt me he gets mad at it its nothing personal." Ann glanced at Arcanas again and bowed a little apologetically, "Again I am sooo sorry I should have looked where I was going and didn't mean to get in your way." Turning back to the fuzzy friendly 'keeper Ann continued, "And again thanks for helping me up it's really nothing." The jackal/rat winced a little bit trying to move its ankle which was slightly scuffed. Ann proceeded to gasp as a realization came to the 'keeper, "Oh no. . .and now I'm just taking up more of you're time and you were probably in a rush to get somewhere. Look I'm real sorry I think I should probably go before I do anymore damage." Ann's ears once again pressed back.


Zoe flicked an ear and took the ball.. trying not to inflict pain onto Puddles for throwing the toy at Cyprus. But of course... Zoe had to shake the bag a little.. just to get Puddles to squeak. Steamer seemed distracted at a newcomer in the group that Cyprus came from. Zoe set the toy back in the bag. Before realizing that Steamer had gone off and over to the new comer.. she happened to see a ryuu-neko in a hoodie of the newcomer.

"Oh... crap....." Zoe widend her eyes. "Steamer.... you little brat..." She rolled her eyes. "Here we go. Ryuu-neko take down round one. And Steamer is going to die... by that neko or by me... either way.. he'll get severely injured." She sighed. "Yeah.. sure i'll come.. i think Steamer made that desicion a minute ago...."


Steamer had skittered over to the ryuu-neko in the hood and the newcomer and looked up with wide eyes. "Nyew?" He turned and looked at the fluffy one. He sniffed and looked up as well. "Mew?" Quickly glancing at the other dreamkeepers he snipped a hiss at the winged one and then sped back to Zoe. He climbed up and sat on her head. He puffed out his chest. "Nya!"


Cyprus watched the ridiculous antics of the fire ryuu-neko and grinned. the furry worms were rather cute, despite the innate ability to sneak into his backyard and eat a couple of his potatoes. Ah well, at least they had the cute thing going for them.

"Come on, seems like it's gonna be one hell of a party!"

Cyprus jogged back on over and stared at the new person. Jeez louiez! If they kept getting more and more people the place might not be big enough to hold em all, alas goldeneyes shall tottally join this crazy adventure!

"Come on fluffy, you know i'm only gay for you. you're just too much man for me to handle!"

He continued to smile and turned to the new member.

"Howdy! Name's Cyprus!"


Ann couldn't help but smile at the rambunctious little ryuu-neko approached them and mewled so hilarious."That's a cute little fella what's his name?" Ann asked putting injuries and promises to leave on the back-burner for the moment as cute things always distracted Ann.

Steamer had also caught the attention of Bas who curiously poked his head out of Ann's hoodie and perked his ears exclaiming with a giant, "NYA!" that he had found a new play mate and dove off Ann's jacket to the ground where he soon burrowed himself, as rock ryuu-neko's do, disappearing from sight until a few moment's later he bust out of the ground directly in front of Zoe with a goofy smile and his long digging paws held in front of him as he stood on his hinds.

Ann chuckled then took on the appearance of true confusion as the one called Cyprus, a brown perky sounding wolf 'keeper who seemed to have a thing for being funny and weird at the same time, that was okay though Ann liked weird keepers they always had something amusing to say claimed to be homosexual with the fluffy one who had just helped Ann up the jackal/rat being al-most entirely positive she was a female. "Umm hey. I'm Ann it's very nice to meet you Cyprus." Ann smiled when suddenly the jackal rat's golden eyes widened and those expressive long ears shot up in shock. "Oh spirits that's right I'm gonna be later for work at the grocery store! I. . .I'm so sorry for running into you again but I've gotta get to work now bye!" Ann turned to run of towards work but when the keeper put that first foot on the ground, even no longer facing the group it was fairly obvious the amount of pain that came from the twisted ankle almost shaking visibly and causing Ann to freeze instantly in place bringing tears back to those shining golden eyes. Owww. . . don't let them see you cry Ann they've been real nice people so far and don't need the burden of thinking you got hurt or anything! Get it together! Ann turned and smiled widely waving and laughing to pretend as though nothing wrong had happened. "Haha. . . see ya!"


"This is sure to be one." Zoe wasn't one for friends. They always talk about gossip and boys and other stuff that Zoe wasn't situated with. As she walked over with Steamer on her head. "This is Steamer. And the blue one is Puddles. She rolled her eyes at Cyprus's remark. A nya came from the jackals hood. It seemed to be an earth-neko. He had skittered to the ground and popped up right in front of Zoe. She smiled and Steamer jumped off her head. "Hi little guy." She sat on her knees and threw a small toy at him. Steamer pounced and rolled it over to the earth-neko. Puddles peeped out of the bag and jumped out. She circled the earth-neko and then started wresting with Steamer.


Zoe rolled her eyes and petted the earth-neko. Steamer squeeled at Puddles tackling her. He man-aged to get out from under her and made a small ring of fire. Puddles who hated fire circled it play-fully hissing. The flame circle only room for Steamer had risen above his head. He smiled and sat in it proudly. Puddles, no annoyed growled and huffed in some of the smoke. She coughed and scrambled back over to Zoe. "Neep!" She hid behind Zoes tail.


As Valen asked where Arcanas place was and offered to fly them there, Arcanas thumbs ahead.

"It's just straight down. 20 minutes walk and we be able to see my place. It's next to the sea shore."

At the same time Mira signed and told Arcanas that he does not need to go to the extreme to proof himself and asking to get moving and taking up Valen's offer of flying one of them there and Cyprus frowning over the girl he just met.

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DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 1:43am
Cyprus heard this and thought Mira was talking about Arcanas before shouting back at her that it's not nice to call Arcanas a pretty girl. Arcanas looks at Mira. Something tell him that she did not take Cryprus comment well. He was right when she shouted back about him being a homosexual and tell the girl not to worry as she is completely safe with him.

Arcanas shake his head in disappointment and rolled his eyes skywards. These guys are acting like kids! As he was about to say something a dreamkeeper who was running crash into him and they fell over. As the dreamkeeper apologize to him and Mira helps her up, he said "It's alright. Partly my fault as I would step out of the way if I saw you coming."

After Arcanas got up. He was about to ask the dreamkeeper her name when he heard a hissing sound coming from the ground. He looks down to see a earth ryuu hissing at his shoe before kicking up some dirt on it and running back to the new girl who apologizes for her ryuu's behavior and again for running into him. When she tried to move and whined, Arcanas looks and saw the slight injury.

She than starts to apologize again for keeping them around as she thought that they are in a rush to get to somewhere.

"Don't worry about it. Now... lets get that injury of yours treated."

Arcanas starts to look for a place where they can get her treated when he hears squeaking noises and turns and sees the fire ryuu from earlier now looking at the earth ryuu and talking to it. The fire ryuu than ran back to it's owner and puff up his chest and went "Nya!"

Arcanas was about to ask about the ryuu's behavior when Cyprus came in and gave Mira the nick name "fluffy." Arcanas signed. As the dreamkeeper tried to leave, and the pain got worst, Arcanas walks up to her and supports her.

"You should really get that treat. As for your work place. I don't think it's open. Most if not all the stores are closed today. And, if you don't get that treated. It could get worst."

Arcanas looks at everyone and said "Come on guys. Back to my place. It's better than freezing our asses off in this weather."

He looks at the dreamkeeper and said "Name's Arcanas. You can call me Arc. What's yours?"

Arcanas home

Luna continues to toy with Kazuma. Than she starts to snicker. It slowly turn into a chuckle before it turns into a full blown laughter as Luna pulls away and said "I'm so sorry. But you have this "I'm so innocent" look that I cant resist."

Lathena by now is done and came out wearing a shirt and shorts and walked up next to Umbra and said "Well.... enjoying the show?"


"Always, ma'am," Umbra said with perfect seriousness, but he wasn't even watching. "I al-ways like to watch the ex-girlfriend of my friend act like a slut with innocent people who seem to have just woken up."

He looked at Luna. She'd always looked good, but her personality at the time was certainly abrasive. He'd always told Arcanas she was no good. She was simply to agressive. I suppose she learned... Umbra thought.

Looking back at Lathena, he realized he was twiddling with the ball that the neko was play-ing with and that it was looking expectantly. Umbra threw the ball for the ryu again. "What's the fluff's name?"



Mira winced as the girl was obviously hurt. Then she looked confused,
"I thought most of the stores were closed today? For some reason or another?" She said. She then spun with a fire in her eyes as Cyprus came within grasping range. Acting fast, her hands snapped to the front of Cyprus' clothes, and lifted him into the air with a strength that appeared disproportionate. Growling no a low voice that only he could hear, she said,

"Yes, I'm too much for You to handle. And if you Ever call me 'fluffy' again, I will introduce you to the male soprano choir. Get the picture?" She continued to hold him above the ground about half a foot waiting for his response.


Bas purred with delight as the ball was passed to him by the girl and then the fire ryuu and flipped the ball up into the air rolling on his back and catching it as it fell down spinning it around playfully with his long paws. He then enjoyed a nice petting from Zoe and rolled his chin against her hand begging for a good chin scratch when he saw the water ryuu jump behind her master's leg and Bas wasted no opportunity to make new friends as he ran over to her, pressed his forehead up against her's and loudly exclaimed, "NYAAA~" with a big foolish smile on his face.

Ann meanwhile had come to the sudden realization that these people were in fact right and thus the whole incident had happened for no reason at all Ann could still have been sleeping instead of running into these 'keepers interrupting their busy days. Ann's ears sank, "Oh yeah that's right all the store's closed today 'cause of the murder. I can be kind of an airhead sometimes I guess haha." Anne winced with pain and embarrassment "Sorry about tha-." The startled dreamkeeper didn't even have time to finish the sentence before the one who introduced himself as Arcanas ran over to give the jackal/rat some support. "Ummm thanks!" Ann smiled, "I don't want to be any trouble though you're sure its alright? I mean its just a little sprain I can deal with it and besides its not like I plan to sue or anything if that's what you're worried about but if not. . . " Ann Ann grinned as the piercing golden eyes shifted from the floor to Arcana, "then thanks for being so kind. . .a-and everyone just calls me Ann. . . er Ann Sandrent. Nice to meet you Arc. . .cool name." Ann beamed but the happiness that the dreamkeeper was feeling at the budding of a potential new friendship was soon quashed and replaced with worry as the strong woman from before turned out to be even stronger than she appeared and hauled the weird wolf into the sky berating and threatening him.

Ann couldn't blame blame Mira for being upset though, I mean, any dreamkeeper would be upset at being called a homosexual male aside from possibly a homosexual male. Regardless Ann was at loathe to see anyone get hurt and thus flailed in protest muttering. "Umm hey! Please don't hurt him okay he was just making a joke and took it too far and is probably very very sorry riiiight?" Ann nodded slightly towards Cyprus hoping he would take the hint and apologize if he didn't well . . Ann certainly wouldn't be able to blame Mira for hitting him I mean any more provocation and he was really just asking for it.


"Hey, Ann right? Your ankle is hurt, and Arc's offering you some medical care. How about I take you to his place, and save you a nasty walk? Don't worry, I won't drop you or any-thing."Valen looked at her with a rather creepily big smile. It was an excuse to get out of this rotten weather, and help someone else out as well. More than enough reason for Valen at least.

~~

"Heh. Well too bad. Anyways, my name's Kazma. So I still haven't thanked you for getting me out of there. If i'd stayed there I'd probably been severely undercooled by now. So yeah, thanks. Aything I can do to return the favor?"



Cyprus's face went from a cheesy grin to neutral in point-oh-five seconds. He did not like being picked up. Him and gravity were close friends and he'd prefer to stay on ground. Inner rage and happiness were doing a little battle in his brain, but happiness won over this time...the day had been too much fun for him to be angry now! He raised his hands palms out in a gesture of apology.

"Already met them, nice people."

He said in reference to the Male soprano choir comment, he had actually met them once. they were a little weird though...very weird actually. but overall they were nice.

"I comprende though, won't happen again. Now, if you'll kindly return me to the ground, it would seem we're on the move."

Man, fluffy really seemed to dislike her nickname...ah well, it'll grow on her.


Mira took one long look into Cyprus' eyes, then nodded, and released him suddenly, letting him drop to the ground.

"Don't worry Ann, I won't hurt him, unless he deserves it." She looked over at the winged dreamkeeper's slightly creepy smile,
"Aaaaannd even though Val over there is a little odd, you probably should take him up on his offer, it's faster, and probably less painful."

She looked up to Arcanas,
"Yes, let's get moving. I'm not cold, but you shorter-haired types are probably freezing by now."


"Ann, don't worry about this little guy. I can watch over him for a little bit. I'm sure he'll dislike fly-ing."
Zoe said,happy to help. She looked down at Steamer and his fire circle was starting to spread to more measures farther than usual. She jumped on the circle quickly destroying the circle. She swooped Steamer up and put him on a shoulder and picked up the earth-neko. "Whats his name?" Puddles jumped up and down trying to play with the earth-nekos tail. "Nya!" She wiggled her haunches and leaped up into Zoe's pocket. She batted the neko's cheeks from there and hid in Zoe's pocket when he looked her way.



"Since we are on the move we should get moving cause it looks like its gunna storm today." She looked up to see dark clouds rolling in from the sea. She pulled her hood up blocking herself from the wind that was rising.


Cyprus landed right on his bum, and spirits....it was very uncomfortable. at least he was back on good ole solid ground! He pushed himself into a standing position and made sure his tail was still in working order with a few spins. well, tail was good, but the weather certainly has intensified from decent to stormy.

"Cold? Bah, live in Ruskol for a few winters."

He put up his hood though anyway and laid his ears back so it would fit comfortably, what if it rained? A wet Cyprus is a funny smelling Cyprus. Nobody wants that, and that's a fact.

"Hey Arc! Is there gonna be any food at this shindig? cause my tumbly has the grumblies, and its ache'n for some bacon."


Ann took a big gulp considering Valen's offer to fly all the way to the house ahead of the rest of the group. . . and his creepy smile really wasn't helping but dammit if he wasn't right that it would be the easier and far less painful route. "Alright. . . sure just I'm not great with heights so no funny business alright?" Ann hobbled towards him and sighed with relief seeing Mira finally release Cyprus even if the landing was so rough it did make the jackal/rat's golden eyes wince for him a little bit.

Good I was worried for a minute there . . . thanks again for helping me up if there is ever anything I can do for you please let me know. . . I'm sorry I don't think I ever caught your name?" Ann smiled warmly in the direction of Mira then turned towards Zoe and nodded. "You don't have to look out for him too much he's mostly wild so he takes care of himself but his name is Bas." Ann chuckled and I'm glad to see he's making some new friends of his own." Bas meanwhile purred in Zoe's hands then started as Puddles thwapped his cheeks and disappeared from sight leaving the ryuu-neko horribly confused as he raced around Zoe's shoulders trying to find his assailant. "Nyaaa?"


When the dreamkeeper introduced herself as Ann and asked Arcanas not to trouble himself by helping her and that the injury is only minor, he said '"Nice to meet you Ann. Don't treat any injury lightly. I had a friend who had a similar injury to yours a few years back. But it turns out much worst for him. His injuries are worst than it looked. Turns out that the sprain cause a tear in his leg mussels and now he is walking with assistance from a stick."

As Valen offered to fly Ann to Arcanas house, he said "Right now with the weather acting up, it's rather risky. Don't want either of you to get struck by lightning. I have another way of getting us there. But I need to find a dark place first."

As Arcanas was about to ask them to get moving, he saw Mira holding Cyprus by his shirt and lifted him off the ground and threaten to bust his balls if he does not stop calling her "fluffy." Ann sees this and asked Mira to let him down as he did not mean what he said.

When Mira lets Cyprus down after a warning, Arcanas rolled his eyes skywards.

"Alright guys. We wasted enough time. Let's all get going." He looks at Ann and asked her to climb onto his back so he can carry her as he crouched down and waits for her to get on his back and looked at Zoe and signaled her to follow them.

Arcanas house

Luna tried to stop laughing but is having trouble. When Kazma asked how he can repay her, she said "Just answer my friends question and you can come out of the room now." Luna steps away as she tried to stop laughing.

Lathena smiled after hearing what Umbra said.

"You should know her by now. She can get serious if she wants to. Though... she loves to "flirt" with Arcanas."

Elena was sitting on Umbra's lap and eyeing the ball when he throws it and she went after it and asked Lathena what's the ryuu's name.

"Her name's Elena. Arcanas gave her the name. It's short and easy to remember."


Zoe sighed and blew a strand of hair out of her face. Puddles looked very confused at where Bas went. Zoe pushed Bas back into her hood. "Stay there buddy." As the one known as Arc signaled for her to follow she grumbled. What? Am i some kind of slave? I don't think so!

Now realizing that Bas was on Zoe's shoulder inside her hood, Puddles popped out of her pocket and hauled herself up and on to Zoe's other shoulder. Steamer now shivering was trying to climb down Zoe to get to her pocket was blown off of Zoe by a gust of wind. He shrieked and Zoe quickly caught him in mid-air and set him in her pocket. She walked slowly ending up at the back of the group while keeping a eye open for strangers wading through the deep snow. The streets were empty besides the group. A mondo raindrop spatted onto Zoe's nose. "Aw.... god dammit! I hate rain." She growled.


Ann shuddered at the thought that Arcanas brought up and was visibly shaken. The dreamkeeper turned around back to Arcanas and laughed, "Yeah thanks for the warning guess I just get used to injuries like this living on my own without any money to go see a doctor the rule is pretty much buck up and deal with it but. . . you've been so kind even considering it was me who ran into you thanks so much." Ann's cheeks then crimsoned with embarrassment at being told to climb onto Arcanas' back never having been carried before. "Umm . . .yeah okay sure let's go thenArc." Ann said with a chuckle climbing onto the keeper's back, "Heh I feel like Bas up here!"

Meanwhile Bas squeeled with delight at the new company in the hood and pounced Puddles playfully making an "I've got you!" face as he rolled around with her and batted at her ears. That ryuu-neko had always been a bit dopy but always very playful and friendly.


Mira stopped for a moment and crossed her arms.
A dark place? Yeah right. She scoffed loudly and said,
"Hold on, what's wrong with walking? Unless you can't handle a little storm. Ann excluded, why don we need to go to a darker place eh?"

She positioned herself between Arcanas and where he was moving, her body language clear that before he could continue, he would have to make it through her first. Of course, she was a tad worried about Ann on his back. She couldn't hit him, or move quickly enough unarmed to incapacitate him before she became a hostage, she would have to deal with the troopers for use of a springer inside city limits, for that was the quickest option availible should Arcanas not disclose his plans.

"I was a little skeptical at first, a invitation to the beach, your assumption of leadership, your 'faster' mode of travel, and the way you carry yourself. You don't plan to have a nice get together, do you? What was your real reason for allowing us all to tag along?"

Then the rain began it's first few sprinkles. Mira hated the rain, it matted down her fur and made her feel heavy and exposed, but she could endure far worse without complaint, and had in the past.


Ann blinked flicking the long jackal ears as the first drops of water from the rain came pattering down on them. The homeless dreamkeeper didn't mind the rain too much it meant that all the bad smells in the streets would be washed away and there was always the chance of a rainbow but in this condition a sudden storm might not be just what the doctor ordered. Ann's eyes then suddenly opened wide as Mira stood in front of them all business and upon hearing her thoughts had to admit that what she was saying made sense. "Wait . . . you all just met each other now and everyone's going to you're house? I thought I was just going with a group of friends cause of my leg. I-I really don't mean to question or be rude or anything but Mira makes a good point. . . .could you please explain a little?"

Of course Ann felt terrible for questioning this guy who had been so kind throughout this experience and knew that questioning people isn't how one makes friends but still this was all moving very fast Ann just had to know. Also in Ann's experience good things never happened in dark places, Ann's ears sunk, never.


"Whatever the reason may be, do you mind hurrying up? Either we take your fancy shortcut soon, or I'll be getting out of here. The weather is worsening and it won't be long before I'm stuck down here. And I'm not looking forward to a nice rainy walk, got it?"
Valen was getting agitated. All the delays were at a bad timing now, considering the weather. The delays had already lost him his job. Though that didn't matter at all to him. If he needed, he would have a new one in minutes. Wings are always needed, and he had a good set of 'em too. But now everyone was starting to doubt Arcanas, and if it took any longer, he would be forced to walk. And he hated that.

~~

Questions huh? Well it can't hurt, whaddya want to know?
He had all the time to answer 'em anyways. He knew he wouldn't be getting out of here without answering them, or at least, Luna wouldn't let him out without her answers, and he wasn't planning on taking anyone out to get away from here. There wasn't any need for him to get out nonetheless.


Zoe grumbled and continued walking becoming irritated at Valens complaints. "Would you just shut up and walk when you have to? We are all in a mood and i'm probably not the best one to be angry right now. So just suck it up and walk if you have to."

Puddles pinned Bas down to make sure he didn't get wet and started to play with his cheeks.


Zoe started to think about her home and how snuggly and cozy and dry it was. She was pretty upset that they passed it without her sneaking away and into her home. She thought about just doing that for a moment. She slowly walked backwards while getting closer and closer to her house but she remembered Bas in her hood. She sighed and muttered to herself about just saying no to Cyprus and she would be in her home right now. But she just caught back up with the group.


"The way it seems to me..." Umbra began, "it looks like she likes to flirt with any eligible male. Though I'll say she has changed a lot in that sense."

"Elena, huh?" He said in response to the final statement. "Alright, I think I can remember that. So when is Arc supposed to be here? By my watch, he should have been here about five minutes ago. Ah, if I remember correctly, Arc used to be rather punctual... but he seems busy of late, doesn't he."



Cyprus grumbled under his breath, Oh heavens no, how could us land walkers force poor old valen to walk! Pansy. He drifted to the rear of the group since he had asked Zoe if she would like to come along, and that was where she happened to be lurking.

"Heyo! Sorry to just throw you into this whole craziness, at least we should be out of the rain soon!"

He smiled, always gotta look at the positive side of things. Besides being happy was far more enjoyable then being a grump-o-potamus all the time. Although he was a tad curios as to what Arc said about finding someplace dark...

"Hey arc! What do ya mean about finding a dark place? You best not be planning on raping any of us!"

Not that Cyprus thought Arc would try to rape any of them, but the dark place was suspicious.


Zoe flicked Cyprus with her hand on his shoulder a little hard. "Would you stop your joking and start acting like your age and not a 13 year old?" Cyprus who was sort of making her smile kept actin like a 13 year old and it annoyed Zoe. As the two ryuu-nekos played in her hood she took a spot next to the fluffy one known as Mira, she was uneasy about Mira since she pulled Cyprus up off the ground so she took a right step away from Mira. She didn't try to be mean but some words. "Hi,you creeped out to by Arc's dark place short cut?" She barely managed to whisper them without squeaking a tiny bit then walking away from Mira. That was the only thing she was really afraid of. Mira, the way she held Cyprus up in the air sort of scared Zoe. She flattened her ears and took some more steps to her right away from Mira.


Arcanas got up after Ann got on his back and starts to lead the way. But than Mira stops him to question him on why he needs a dark place and Ann soon starts questioning his motive when Mira said they only just met.

"As I've said before. I can bring us there much faster. But I need a dark place first. But if you guys preferred walking. I don't mind either."

He looks at Ann and said "If you preferred. I can take you to a doctor. I'll pay for the medical bill."

He looks back at Mira and said "So... your choice. Trust me and use a short cut. Or walk to my place. Or straight to the public doctor?"

He turns to the rest and said "If you guys want to tag along it's fine. I'll leave that up to you."

Arcanas house

Luna finally managed to stop her laughter when Kazma asked what were the questions.

"I'll let my friend handle that. In the mean time, get comfortable on the couch. Unless... you plan to stand till he gets back?"

Lathena was about to answer when a low growl was heard. Elena heard this and ran for Lathena's shoulder as she hides behind her and whimpered in fear.

From the top of the stairs something is making its way down. When it reached the ground floor, it can be seen. It's a ryuu neko. The fur is jet black with it's wings 4 feet long. It's claws look very sharp along with the horn on it's head. It's eyes are blood red and when it yawns, rows of razor sharp teeth can be seen. Both the thing that cause it to stand out the most is its size. It's size is the same as Arcanas.

"What ever you do. No sudden moves."


Did I hear a broken record anywhere?

She was concerened about Arcanas' evasion. He out forward the solution, as if it was obvious. She let her arms fall to her sides, and her right hand twitched next to the handle of the springer pistol.

The girl, Zoe was it?, Had said something, and Mira took a slight offence but ignored her, keeping her eyes focused dead on Arcanas.

"You didn't answer my question. Why do you need a dark place? Why are you so willing to invite strangers into your home?"


The jackal/rat dreamkeeper shook its head vigorously when asked if it would be better to go to the doctor, the kindly Arcanas even offering to pay the bill. "Oh no no really I couldn't ask you to do that! Really the sprain isn't too bad and it was my fault anyways so I couldn't let you pay and besides that I don't have any money or insurance of my own to speak of so it would be far to expensive you're house is fine." Ann chuckled embarrassed and a bit nervous with Mira fingering at the springer at her side and a deadly serious look in her eyes. "I-I don't think Arc is out to hurt us. . . maybe the shortcut to his house is just through a dark alley or sewer or cave of something?"

Meanwhile Bas squealed excitedly as he was tackled, the squeal becoming distorted as Puddles began to play with his cheeks making him in return spring up and lick her forehead with a goofy grin and a playful shaking of the ears.


Cyprus mellowed out a little after being told to act his age. Why did people always say that? He could be mature and still joke around. okay...so maybe his jokes aren't that mature...but still! It's the principal of the matter.

"Alright, No need to go and start hittin people." He said with a smile.

Just cause he has to go and "Act his age" doesn't mean he's gonna stop smiling.

"Ya might leave a bruise!"

Cyprus glanced up at the darkening storm clouds above and was promptly hit with a rain drop...right in his nose. Oh spirits...wow! uh that feels weird....i think i'm gonna sneeze... He managed to hold the sneeze in, but it caused him to make little squeaking noise. He shook his head to get rid of the lingering sensation in his nose.

"I think we should follow Arc. And Mira, if things get far too...oh whats the word...Out of hand. You've got that handy springer so you could just shoot him."

Cyprus folded his arms. It made sense in his mind, but the words "Just shoot him" seemed to startle a few people walking by.

"But we need to do something before this rain gets any worse and we're all soaked."


Puddles squealed with delight and pushed on his chest. He ended up flipping over and Puddles squirmed upright. Before she could bite his tail.Steamer growled form Zoe's pocket. He was almost all the way out of her pocket but he was growling at Arcansas.


As soon as Zoe realized that Steamer was growling, she tapped him on the head. "Quiet, boy."
Steamer continued growling. All though he hated the rain the crawled up and sat right between Zoes ears. He growled and stared at Arc. When Arc said something he hissed loudly and went back to growling. Steamer was fluffed up not to keep himself warm and protected from the rain but he was fluffed up in defense. He poised himself in a crouch ready to attack.


"Alright, look. I don't think arc here is some evil guy, and this rain is starting to get quite bad. I say, we follow him, and if he pulls something odd, we are with far more than him. Get my point? There's nothing he can do, with this many of us. If you still don't want to, just be on your way home then, no point in sticking here and arguing if you won't go."

The group decided to follow him. He was right, what could 1 man do against a large group like them anyways?

~~

"Holy sh*t!"
Luckily, he kept those words limited to his thoughts. Shouting them out didn't seem like a good plan right now. Right now, the only plan in his mind was to run, and pray. That thing looked like it came straight from hell as far as he could tell. Deep black fur, red eyes. The devil? As far as he cared, it fit the description. Whatever it was, he wasn't hoping to stay here anymore.


"Now I can understand rare and exotic... but Lathina, what in spirits is that doing in the house?!" Umbra muttered loudly, his muscles tense. He knew how to fight. A little. Dodge, mainly. But there was no where to move. And a cannibal beast that its OWNER or at least OWNER'S WIFE was afraid of... come on!

"Now, I'll admit, the small ones are cute, but..." Umbra trailed off, but came back. "Might I add that this is illegal to own? No that Arc has ever cared for legality." He kept his eyes firm-ly trained on the dark Ryuu.

"I think he's staring at me."



Arcanas continues to answer Mira’s questions calmly and continues to smile. Almost as if he were toying with her. Arcanas looks at her right hand as she handles the springer and repeats her question.

“I need a dark place so I can teleport the whole lot of you to my place. And I invited you over for bumping into you. Or would you rather shoot me?”

Ann at the same time, protest that Arcanas does not have to take her to the doctor and it’s too expensive and that it’s her own fault for bumping into him before saying that Arcanas way might be a short cut to his house.

“In a way it is. Don’t worry about it. I know someone who can get it done for free. Unless you still want to drop over at my place?”

Crypus, who just recovered after Mira’s drop suggest following Arcanas and that if he tries to be funny, she can just shoot him.

“If she wants to do that. Why not do it now? Before I can do anything.”

Arcanas heard a ryuu neko growling at him but just ignores it as Valen urges the group to quickly make up their minds as the rain is started to get heavy.

“Times a wasting. Your choice guys.”

Arcanas house

Luna sees Kazumas reaction and chuckled.

“What ever you do, do not move to fast or run. She might start chasing you.”

After hearing Ubras little outburst, Lathena whispered to him “Don’t stare at her. She will take it that you want to challenge her.”

The ryuu walked towards Lathena and Umbra and sat down in front of them. She looks at Lathena. Than at Umbra before licking her lips. She looks at Lathena again.

“Mer.”


Mira would have decked him, she clenched her fist in preparation. The stupid superior smile he has plastered on his face would have looked much better broken and bloody. But he had the upper hand, he had Ann, and she was not involved save for being Arcanas' only protection at this point.

"I don't like being teleported regularly, and I sure as hell don't wanna find out your way, I'll walk. Give me an adress, and I will be there" She said the last part as a slight threat. She could see the look in Arcanas' eyes. He knew he had won. She hated him for it. And she figured she could be in even ground if she walked, and had time to review her situation and assets.

Mira was still dumbfounded that they were willing to go with a stranger to a dark place. Who knows if he had cronies waiting for them, armed with illegal weapons and the like. But if they wanted to dig their own grave, fine, let them. Mira wasn't going to charge into a situation without any intel.


The jackal/rat dreamkeeper quickly shook its head dismissing the prospect. "N-no it's fine I don't wanna take you out of your way your home will be fine besides it's been a long time since I've been social with anyone." Ann smiled gratefully and glanced at the fuming Mira curious as to why she was so upset. "Umm white puffy one who's name I still don't know? If it's okay I'd prefer your company while going with Arc you seem like a nice person and it would make me feel safer going into a dark place with a person with a springer at their side." Ann nodded happily.

Meanwhile Bas squirmed excitedly under Puddles attentions before making a loud chirp and batting her on the head playfully with his tail to distract her before flipping around and pinning her.The ryuu-neko smirked and puffed out its chest in triumph.


Puddles who was now pissed. She flew up and pinned him. She hissed loudly and swatted at him. She was pissed because Steamer was upset and Bas didn't care that he was upset. Puddles hauled herself over Zoe's shoulder and looked up at Steamer. He was now glowering at Arc but glanced over at Puddles. She mewed and licked his cheek and somehow tempted him to come down. He glanced again at her and swiftly and slightly growled but followed her down anyway. They curled up in Zoe's pocket and Puddles snoozed but Steamer still glowered at Arc from the pocket.


Zoe who knew exactly what was going on with the three ryuu-nekos. She patted Bas head. "It usually happens. You can hang out with my hair in my hood. And the dryness and warmth." She sighed and went back to the back of the group but just and yard away from the group. Wanting to roam back home and to get a cup of coffee. "Where we are going there better be coffee.." She mumbled to herself not really caring who over hears her.


Cyprus watched as fluffy and Arc kept arguing about who's going where and whats going down. All he knew was that it was raining and he didn't like being wet. Okay he totally did, but others didn't because he smells funny when wet.

"I concur with Zoe, right now lets just get inside someplace."

Cyprus flicked his tail back and forth, trying to get some of the water off of it, but failing miserably. He was gonna need a towel wherever and whenever they got to where they would need to be.


With the majority of them agreeing and Mia preferring to walk Arcanas gave her the direction and a small warning.

" Just walk straight down. When you see the beach, you should be able to see a large mansion. When you arrived. Knock on the door and wait for it to be open. It's awake at this time and it won't take kindly to people barging in uninvited."

He looks at the rest.

"Lets go guys."

Arcanas than leads the rest to a dark alley and waits for the rest to step in.

Arcanas home

Lathena looks at the ryuu.

"He's out right now and will be back later."

The ryuu nodes her head and went under the stairs and lay in the dark while facing the door.


Dark Ryuu? Check.

Large? Check.

Arc's? Check.

A shiver went down Umbra's spine and he waited until the neko was well out of sight before speaking again. Peripheral of course. He knew Lathena knew what she was talking about and hastily took her advice.

"Sooo..." Umbra began, "Why was he looking for Arc? Or she? I've never been too sure."


Mira nodded at the directions that Arcanas had given her.

"Ill be there." She then looked with a sympathetic eye to Ann. She undid a pair of dog tags from her neck, and gave them to the girl. One had electric blue lines zigzagging in a symettrical pattern across its entire surface. The lines glowed slightly, but did nothing else. The second dogtag had an imprint on both sides, one said 'Mercer's mercies, equipment/security level 6'. The other side said 'Sergeant Mira West'.

She then said,

"Don't worry, I'll be coming for those." It was a cliché statement, but she meant it. She didn't trust Arc, but if he was sincere, he was the best option for the hurt dreamkeeper. The tags were merely a way to gove her comfort. Tangible items had more significance that words ever could. And her dog tags were some of the most precious things to her. The one gave her access to the company, the other, her only link to her family.

She walked off in the rain, quickly leaving the rest of the group behind, and began to think.


As everyone steps into the dark alley, Arcanas gave them a warning.

"Hold on to each other. What ever happened do not let go till I say so. Worst case if you do is that you will end up somewhere else. Or worst."

As everyone got ready. Arcanas clapped his hand together and a faint red halo form above his head as the shadows come to live and moved towards the group. 10 seconds later, there was no one left.

Arcanas house. 6th floor.

The room was pitch black and no one can see anything. But Arcanas can see just fine.

"We are here. You guys can let go now."

Arcanas heads towards the door and opens it and walks out and waits for the rest.

Ground floor

Lathena and Luna heard Arcanas voice coming from upstairs.

"Well... looks like he is home."

The dark ryuu looks up and got up. She walks to the front of the steps and sat there as she waits for Arcanas.


Ann gratefully accepted the dog tags and wore them after studying to symbols for a few moments. The dreamkeeper had to wounder what they all meant, especially the lightning bolt as the name and mercenary group was fairly obvious in meaning. Well at least I know her name now. Ann thought then smiled thankfully at Mira. "Allright then Mira I'll expect to see you there and don't worry I promise I'll take real good care of these!"the dreamkeeper exclaimed happily as a saddened Bas ran up the jackal/rat's pant leg and hid in the hood he called home popping his head out to stare at Puddles and Steamer and nyaing sadly ear's pressed against the back of his head confused as he didn't realize that growling was so uncommon and concerning a thing for Steamer to do. Ann gave his head a stroke making him perk up a bit and got ready to go.

When Arc activated his powers in the alley Ann was completely shocked. The poor dreamkeeper had never even seen power use before and it was a little scary but Ann had to admit it was really impressive too. "W-what was that? I thought p-power use was illegal in the city, your not worried about getting in trouble with the law?" Ann's golden eyes darted down to Arc and smiled. "But it was pretty badass I wish I knew what my power was sometimes."


Mira paused in the now pouring rain, considering what to do. Arcanas had more planned for them than he had let on, that much was clear. And he was willing to use his power, whatever it was, to transport them. It wasn't like he was trying to keep it secret, what was the likelihood of having an unregistered telepad, conveniently located right when you needed it.

No, he had used his power, and Mira was all the more glad she had chosen to walk. Powers were unpredictable as a rule, and his mode of travel might have other effects that could warp one's mind.

She ducked into an alley, the rain still pounding. She made sure no-one was nearby and concentrated. The effort was like running a marathon, and with a gasp, her faint white halo shone over her head. The effort to simply be ready to use it was great, but she wanted to reassure herself. If this Arcanas was going to break rules, so would she.

With a sigh, she let the faint halo die off, and trotted back out into the street. She was thoroughly soaked at this point, and her fur clung to her body, at least, the fur that was showing around her neck, the rest was soaked under the armor.

She continued towards the direction Arcanas had given her, subtly checking her springer, and stretching her arms. If Arcanas made any wrong moves, she would kill him. And that was that.


"Well, I don't mind if you ignore my question." Umbra shrugged. They had bigger fish to fry anyway. The lizard strided coolly up the stairs to get to the noise.

"Ah, it sounded as if there were more than one person shadow-warping around with Arca-nas." Umbra commented. "I don't suppose there were other visitors coming?"



Zoe gaped at the mansion in awe. "You really live in this place?" She shrunk to the back of the group and tried to locate a door to outside. She was squashed in between people and she was claustrophobic. She needed room and there was very little room where she was located in the group. She grimaced and took a deep breath.


So, she had a choice, go back into the rain, or pass out from claustrophobia she couldn't think of one to choose. She struggled to stay upright and leaned against a wall. Managing to focus on everybody in the group, the thing that mostly caught her eye, was the black lizard who paid her to leave.


Cyrpus almost freaked out when the shadows turned alive and swallowed them before shooting them back out into what he believed to be Arcs house. He had use his power, no doubt about it, but why would he use his power to teleport this group? Power using was dangerous and almost always brought on the full might of the Shock Troopers.

"Can we get some lights up in here? Much as i like the dark, i like being able to see more."

But he managed to get his eyes to adjust to the lack of light and could make out shapes, all of them being people. He found the tallest one, it being arc with Ann on his shoulder.

"well, we gonna go down there or what?"


Roan wrote: So, she had a choice, go back into the rain, or pass out from claustrophobia she couldn't think of one to choose. She struggled to stay upright and leaned against a wall. Managing to focus on everybody in the group, the thing that mostly caught her eye, was the black lizard who paid her to leave.
Umbra looked at her. Then he glared. Then he looked again.

"What are YOU doing here?" He asked, 100% befuddled. He looked around. "What are you ALL doing here?!?"

Then he paused. "Arc, tell me that, unlike your fiance or wife, I forget what point of relationship you're in, you'll answer my question when I ask... What are all these people doing here? Wait. Don't tell me. You forgot we were meeting up today and you invited a bunch of strangers from the street in a fit of philanthropy because EVERYONE forgot it was going to rain today. Am I correct?"

Umbra looked back at the girl. "But really, what ARE you doing here. You didn't SEEM to know Arc when I got here."

If it wasn't already clear, Umbra was making it clear. He was a touch irritated. He never liked big groups. And Arc knew that. This was an important meeting. Why did he invite total strangers in for this!?


Zoe flattened her ears and shrunk down behind Cyprus. " This person right here, made my ryuu-neko throw a toy at him and he was in this group of people and then i ran into the psycho dude who is carrying yet another stranger into his own house."

She pulled the lucre out of her pocket and flung it at him. "And i don't want your damn money since you bribed me to leave his front door!"

Her eyes flared and she glared at him.








Zoe flattened her ears and shrunk down behind Cyprus. "This person right here, made my ryuu-neko throw a toy at him and he was in this group of people and then i ran into the psycho dude who is carrying yet another stranger into his own house. And i don't want your damn money since you bribed me to leave his front door!"

Her eyes flared and she glared at him.

"Hmhmhm." Umbra chuckled. "People like you ARE needed in this world. It wasn't a bribe. Arc is one of those people." The lizard started to pace, leaving the money on the floor. "Too nice for their own good. But you see if everyone were that way then being nice would be the way the world would work." Umbra sighed.

"But that's not the way it is or every will be for the exact reason that you threw that money at me. No one can trust each other. I'm amazed you trusted this fool friend of mine. I'm sure he said something like: Let's go into a dark alley." Umbra chuckled.

"Yes that wouldn't be too bright to follow. Why you trust him more than me, I don't know. Is it his kind face? His less skeptical nature? His overall kindheartedness? None of that can really be trusted."

Umbra stopped. "Do as you will, kindhearted one. Arc, what is the plan? Should out reunion wait until later? Or should we include these guests in the festivities?"

This was Umbra's way of saying, "Are you going to let total strangers in on illegal activities?" The way that Arc was acting was totally inexcusable. Today is important. Today was their search's beginning. But no. He had to ruin it. The fool.


"Woow..that felt...weird.."
All that went through Valen's head was the failed attempts on trying to understand what just hap-pened. He'd heard about Powers, but never bothered about 'em, since they didn't appear to actually exist as far as he knew. They seemed to be in a quit luxurious building, from a few items he could make out. A window with the curtains slightly parted revealed a weird sight. Arc had said that his place was a normal beach house, but whe he looked outside, he realized they were really high, making him worried that this supposed beach house might not be what arc had said.


Arcanas smiled after hearing what Ann said.

"As much as it is. If you want to use it, avoid getting caught and I'm sure you will find out what your power is sooner or later."

As the rest got out of the room and Umbra came up the stairs and had a talk with Zoe before talking to Arcanas.

"I'm still aware of that. But lets lead them down first. After that. We will use the room for our talk."

As they chat, a soft clicking sound can be head as the dark ryuu made her way up the stairs and looks at everyone and smiled. Showing her teeth.

Arcanas chuckled when he saw this.

"Now girl. They are not food. I'll feed you when we go down."

He turn to the rest.

"Come on guys. This way down." Said Arcanas as he leads the way down the stairs with the dark ryuu behind him as she looks at Ann.

Arcanas looks at the back and a red halo formed above his head as he uses the shadows to gently nudge everyone out of the room.


Ann's head shook. "No, I don't think so I've broken the law before and it didn't end well for me and power use carries a heavy sentence I don't wanna have to spend the rest of my life in a cell. I'm not nearly as stealthy as you." Ann smiled as Bas popped up from his home in the hoodie and sniffed out an unfamiliar scent. His ears perked and suddenly he tugged at Ann's hoodie in warning as the giant black ryuu came into sight.

A chill ran up the dreamkeeper's spine at the way the ryuu looked at them. Like they were meat being served up on a platter. Ann quickly grasped at the dog tags for a sense of safety and chuckled. "Th-that's a big r-ryuu neko Arc.What's it's name?" The poor dreamkeeper's concern only grew as Arc explained to the pet that these people weren't food meaning they very well could have been for this creature.

Ann's attention was suddenly captured by another noise in front of them causing the jackal/rat's large pointed ears to perk and making the dreamkeeper shift on top of Arc which, in turn brought tears to Ann's golden eyes for a moment before being blinked away and followed by a subtle groan. Ann's ankle wasn't in good shape having it taken care of soon would be for the best. It took a moment to bare through the pain before Ann realized the sound had come from a suave reptilian friend of Arc's. "Umm hi there please don't be fighting I'm not sure exactly what happened but I'm sure we can all work it out."


Arcanas chuckled and said "Don't worry. She won't bite unless you give her a reason to. As for your power.. I might be able to help."

When they reached the ground floor, the dark ryuu made her way into the kitchen and Arcanas brings Ann to the couch and lowers her down.

"Well... you and Luna went out. She came back with one person and you came back with a strike force..." said Lathena as she smiled.

"Well... I have my reasons. Can you attend to my friend's injuries here while I take care of Lucy."

"Sure thing."

As Arcanas made his way into the kitchen, Lathena walks up to Ann and smiled.

"Hey there. What's your name?"


Ann couldn't help but wonder on what Arc had said about finally figuring out the powers that had been stored inside so long, the prospect was exiting though also frightening, not nearly so frightening as the dark ryuu that wandered off into the kitchen as Arc set Ann down on the couch and asked a woman to come attend the dreamkeeper's injury.

"Umm hi." Ann replied with a nervous smile, golden eyes darting back and forth seeking for some-thing to focus on before finally settling on the ground. "Everybody calls me Ann . . . I'm terribly sorry if I'm intruding it was all my fault in the first place you see I was clumsy and . . . you don't want to hear this whole story I'm really sorry." Ann nudged a cushion as Bas began to poke his head out of the hoodie slightly to investigate the noise. "I'm not very good with people. . . not that I don't like people!" Ann's hands shot up nervously as if attempting to erase what had just been said as they flailed about for a moment before settling back on the couch. "They just usually don't like me. . ." Ann's ears folded back and the golden eyes of the jackal/rat began to well up with sadness and tears before they were wiped away and replaced by a blush of embarrassment. "Anyways! I kinda screwed up my ankle and Arc was nice enough to bring me here and set me on the. . . OH NO! And now look I've got my dirty clothes on your nice couch! I'm soooo sorry! . . . Umm. . . Sorry I didn't catch your name?"


As Ann introduced herself, Lathena does the same as she checks her foot for lumps as Ann explained what happened. Lathena smiled.

"Don't worry so much about. It's nothing."

At the same time, Luna walks towards the edge of the stairs and asked the others if they knew how to walk down.

Arcanas by now is done feeding the dark ryuu and came out to check on Ann.

"So... how is it going?"

"Nothing I can see other than a slight bruce. Some meds and rest and she's good."

"That's good."

PM Offline
DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 1:46am
Elena who has been hiding behind Lathena crawl up to her head and when she saw Arcanas, she flew to him and nuzzles his neck. Arcanas smiled and stroke her head.

"Miss me?"

The Elena looks at him and said "Nya!"


Zoe grumbled to herself quietly. She was really dizzy. She leaned against another wall and took a deep breath.


Luna got irritated that no one was answering and she looks at Arcanas. Arcanas looks at her and smiled. She than went up the stairs and into the room to pull everyone out and hush them down the stairs and on to the couch.

Arcanas looks at the group.

"Having trouble finding the exit? Or are you guys standing around in the dark, day dreaming?"

Lathena chuckled when she heard this and Luna covered her mouth from letting out an outburst of laughter.


Ann sighed in relief at the diagnosis. For a while the dreamkeeper thought it might have been bro-ken the way people were talking about it. "Really t-thanks again for all your generosity I really appreciate all you've done. Arc here even carried me all the way here! It's rare to meet such kind people." Ann smiled and nodded. "It's good to meet you too Lathena! I hope that you'll at least let me make this up to you! I am a pretty good cook let me make you something before I head on back box. . .err home." Ann blushed slightly with embarrassment having a tendency to call home box as kind of a true joke.

"By the way where is that badass chick with the springer thought she would be here by now unless that was a long port or something." Ann inquired stroking the dog tags that the fluffy dreamkeeper had parted with.

When Arc ryuu flew through the air and began cuddling him Bas emerged from his hiding place de-spite his fright at the earlier ryuu and exclaimed an excited "NYA!" having met a new friend in po-tentia as his face lit up and ran atop of Ann's head standing on his hinds to get a better view.


Fine, ignore me as well, Arc. thought Umbra. He headed down the stairs and sat down in the room that Luna and the man she'd been teasing were. They were most likely going to end up in here anyway.

He sighed. No one seemed to listen to him when he asked questions. It was IMPORTANT some of them be answered SOMETIMES.


Mira quickened her pace to a jog, the rain starting to get to her. If she were on assignment, she wouldn't flinch. But here, if she could move faster, she would. Checking a few maps and making a check on the ownership of the mansion, she found herself at the end of a road leading to a mansion.

"Egotistical much?" She muttered. She looked both ways for troopers or cameras, then drew her springer and aimed down the sights. She felt she could get a better feel for the place looking at it with a possible deadly intent.
She found that the mansion had many dark areas and hidden rails that could easily hold enemy gunmen. This made Mira nervous. Even though it was supposed to be a friendly invitation, she still felt there was something larger happening behind the facade.

She holstered her weapon, then covered the rain-drenched distance between her and the large doors of the mansion. Half considering breaching and demanding answers, she decided to heed Arc's warning, and rapped on the door with the back of her hand, her armor making a clacking sound as if a shock trooper was knocking with his armor. If she didn't hear anything within the next few minutes, she would take drastic measures.


*Rap rap rap*

ANOTHER GUEST?!?

What the HELL was Arc thinking? With much less gusto than a normal person could muster in this kind of situation, Umbra got up and opened the damn door. Another guest. A guest with a gun. Guns...

F*ck.

Were they found out ALREADY? How did Troopers find out about them? Were they using powers? It was possible, he supposed, while unlikely. It was also possible that Arc had finally been caught for power usage. The fool was too lax about using his power in public. I mean... look at him? He just used his power in broad daylight, dragging a huge group into an alley, where they just so happen to disappear!? If this was a day where he was trying to be covert, Umbra would hate to see a regular day.

But it was possible that this was none of that. Play it smooth. Game face on.

"Hello, Ma'am. Might I ask your business here?" He inquired, suave and collected, his face holding not a trace of the worry underneath. Not even his body would show how much he was worrying now. He had long since mastered the art of controlling his body language. Hopefully, it would help him now in this potentially important situation.


Oh spirits, he's got a butler?
Mira examined the suave man in front of her coolly. No need to get excited, he was being perfectly polite. She didn't know how many people the arrogant ******* had, but she decided to pay it cool and stiffly, as if she were getting ready to dress down a subordinate.

"I'm looking for an Arcanas Taylor. I believe he takes residence here?" She hand her hands joined behind her while she looked the dreamkeeper directly in the eyes. Her overall appearance was a very militaristic and authoritative kind. Her attitude had changed since she had bumped into Arcanas. She now was on a pseudo mission, so she kept cool in order to insure that the girl, Ann, wouldn't come to any harm.


"Well, he is here, but he seems to have..." And Umbra's face distorted just a bit, looking off to the side only slightly, "Guests."

But it was only temporary. Best not to anger the military woman. "Come in, come in, it's cold and wet outside, feel free to take a seat, my friend will probably be with you... eventually. I would say shortly, but he likes to take his time sometimes."

And so Umbra ran through his head the plans of possible escape while he asked, "Might I ask what business you have with the man of the house?"



Mira noted his facial tick when he said guests. That meant that the rest of them had at least arrived, though what condition they were in could be suspect.
She nodded, and stepped in,
"Thank you, weather is not on my side today."
She took a small band out of her pocket and wrung out her hair slightly in the entryway, then she tied it in a ponytail, letting the majority of the water run down her back. She remained inside just barely, as her fur underneath her armor had gotten soaked, and she was running countless rivulets of water onto the floor.

She was in a but of a state, but she kept her composure. This man in front of her was good. She knew the effect she had on civilians, namely fear, and this butler in front of her seemed cool and collected still.
"I just have some questions to ask." She said. She wasn't totally sure how much the arrogant ******* had told his employees, but she figured she could hold that over him in a pinch.

She half considered telling the keeper that she was just going to march through the house, find Arcanas, then castrate him if he had hurt anyone in the group. But logic and common sense won a narrow victory, and she remained where she was.


Lathena up and sat next to Ann.

“It’s alright. Arc is always like that. That’s what got him to where he is today. Heck... it’s how he got me so attracted to him and got married in the end. But our friend over there by the name of Luna also got the hots for him. As for repaying, it’s alright. But... what’s this about box home? If you don’t have a place to live, you can stay with us.”

When Ann mention about another person coming and arm with a springer, Lathena looks at Arcanas and he just smiled. As Ann’s ryuu neko came out to greet Arc’s Elena looks at Bas and flew down to the couch and sniffs him and wags her tail. “Nya!”

There was a knock on the door and Umbra went to answer it. As Arcanas listens to the conversation, he said “Mira. So glad that you have arrived. Come on in.”

Luna looks at her and heads over to Arcanas and whispered something into his ears. Arcanas just looked at her and back at Mira.

Lathena looks at Mira.

"My... you better get yourself dried up. And one more thing. No arms in the house please. But if you still insists on carrying it, try not to shoot anything. Even if it is by accident. And my name is Lathena. Arc's wife. Nice to meet you."


Ann listened to Lathena intently and flushed red upon hearing what she had to say about her being very attracted to the man and that they were married talking so boldly about it. Ann had always wanted something like that too.

Ann was just about to reply to her when the dreamkeepers ears suddenly perked at a sound from the door and when Arc called her in as Mira Ann knew who it was and lit up with a new found sense of comfort at the fact that this kindred spirit was here as well. . . well perhaps a more badass kindred spirit but none the less kindred. As Bas rejoiced in meeting a new friend hoping off Ann and onto the couch to chase his tail and nyaa at Elena Ann hobbled over towards Mira as fast as possible and exclaimed, "Mira! I was wondering where you were!" Ann stopped just short of Mira stopping in the position to give a hug when Ann suddenly dropped it and stopped, golden eyes looking off to the side with slight embarrassment realizing that they had only known each other for less than a day. "Ann's arms crossed shyly as the dreamkeeper continued. "I-I kept your tags safe. . ."

The jackal/rat then turned back around and smiled at Lathena, "I-I really don't know! Your offer is so generous but I mean it seems like I would impose and I don't want that. And its not like I've earned living in this place or anything and you've already done so much I don't know how I would ever repay my debt if I lived here! And besides there is so much stuff back at box I'd have to grab there's the box and there's. . . well there's the box at least." Ann nodded shyly That box and me are like family dammit! "And it's not so bad I mean it comfy and close to work." The poor dreamkeeper continued to nervously ramble.


Mira saw where Arcanas had called from. She crossed her arms and called back,
"Im here to make sure you didn't take advantage of a young girl, not because of some whim of yours. If it wasn't raining I would be gone right now."

She shook her head slightly when Lathena mentioned the no-arms rule. If Arc would use his power freely, she wasn't going to be anywhere near him without deadly force.

She was about to inquire after Ann when she excitedly ran up to Mira. Mira smiled slightly when the offer to hug died out of the girl,
"Don't worry, in wouldn't want to hug a soaked person either." She leaned down and retrieved her dog tags, saying a quiet thanks.
"You seem to be feeling better." She said, then stood. Looking to Lathena, she thought,
Good god, he's married?! I guess some go for the cocky types..

Instead of voicing her thoughts, she said,
"Is there a bathroom with some towels I can use? If I'm going to stay here you probably won't want me to soak your interior."

She noted Ann's predicament, but was glad in a way. Ann had yet to be claimed by those who would use her like a dirty rag, as Mira herself had been used. If there was anything Mira could do to protect her, if only just to give her the chance Mira never got.


Ann's ears folded a bit in confusion at the earlier comment. Who was going to be taken advantage of now? An thought glancing about the room. Zoe? The dreamkeeper reasoned never being one to catch on fast before shrugging it off obliviously. Ann then smiled brilliantly at Mira and nodded. "I'm really glad to see you here Mira I was starting to get worried about you. And umm yeah I'm feeling a little better. Still a bit hobbled though. And it's not about you being wet! I was just worried it might be awkward since we just met each other a little bit ago." The dreamkeeper explained bashfully before turning back to Arc and Lathena.

"Are you sure it wouldn't be too much trouble? M-moving in here I mean?


Cyprus found himself sitting on the sofa, having apparently been corralled downstairs like a herd of sheep. Which on his list of exciting and or odd things done today, was rather low on his list. He no-ticed Mira as she joined the rest of the group, man...fluffy wasn't so fluffy any more.

"Now as happy as i would be to know this one" he said poointing to ann "isn't living in a box on the street, I'd kinda like to know why we have all been gathered here."

He looked at everyone, trying to judge whether or not anyone disagreed with him.

"I'm assuming we're not here for some tea and crumpets. Plus you've got a furry worm that must have eaten something radioactive cause it's just too big."


Zoe sat down next to Cyprus happy to be out of the big crowd, she flicked her eyes around the room as Steamer and Puddled peeked out of her pocket at the dark ryuu-neko.
Zoe agreed with Cyprus. "Yeah. Why are we here?"


Arcanas looks at Luna and asked her to lead Mira to the bathroom and for Lathena to entertain their guest.

When Ann asked if it was alright for her to stay Arcanas a sure her that it is and they have too many rooms due to the design of the place.

Elena looks at Bas and tilts her head. "Nya?"

"As for why we are here. Just for shelter. But for now, if you need anything please ask Lathena. As for the dark ryuu. I've let her grown like that as a guard for the house. Due to the fact that I'm not at home very often. I need some form of security."

Arcanas looks at Umbra.

"Shall we start our little chat? Follow me please." said Arcanas as he starts to head up the stairs and the Dark ryuu came out of the kitchen and sat near the stairs to wait for Umbra.

Luna, in the mean time signals Mira to follow her to the bathroom which is down a hall way near a large door with a ryuu nekos face carved into it.


Umbra, seething with cold rage, followed Arcanas up the stairs. Once he had pinpointed with sound where everyone was, approximately... he began.

"What? Are? They? Here? For?" Emphasizing every word. "I can understand. On a normal day. Any unlike today. That you could do. Your little pieces. Of humble charity. For random strangers." He was fitting to burst, but maintained control.

"But today. We are talking. About very. Very. Sensitive subjects. That would land. People. Like me. And you. In. Jail." He was talking very slowly, emphasizing every word. "Are? You? Following? Me? Because so far. You have. Ignored. All of my questions."

"You brought. A woman. With a springer. On a day. Like. This. You go. And make. A spectacle."

"Why!?" That was the only word that approached a shout, but again, it was controlled for volume.


"We can still continue with our talk. They are kept outside. Besides, the place where we will be talking won't be here."

Arcanas opens the door and enters the room. The room is semi dark and empty. Arcanas slit his right hand and spill the blood on the right wall. A symbol slowly formed on the wall as he walks up to it and writes some symbols on the wall. Once he is done, the blood seeps into the wall and it parts to reveal a stair way leading down into a basement. Arcanas walks down the stairs while the dark ryuu stayed in the room. The stairs leads down to the basement. Arcanas turns on the lights and it shows to be a work shop filled with weapons.

Ranging from a pistol to a mounted type weapon to some of them being taken apart and left on the table.


Weaponry. Endless weaponry. Supplies, surprise.

It was quiet and smelled of stale metal and flo-wood; this was just Arcanas style. Always going for the secret stuff right under the government's nose. Not that Umbra was much different, but he was at least protected in certain ways. But he supposed so was Arc.

"I think you're missing the point." Umbra said as he walked in. "Ah, I don't like having ANY LEVEL of possibility of failure. Failure in this case is being heard. No matter what, bringing people, many peo-ple, into any facility at random LOWERS chances of success. Success in this case equaling not being heard."

He sighed. Arc never listened to him, why would now be any different. May as well get to the point and be done with it, Arc meant that this was the most secure place in the home. "I guess there's no changing you... so what information do you have? I'll tell you what I know after you tell me your side, this is assuming you collected any information as to the cases. You were, as always, incredibly vague when you called me."


The wall behind Umbra closes once he steps in and the places returns to normal on the outside. The dark ryuu stands guard by staying in the room and keeping others out.

Arcanas grabs a seat and gave one to Umbra.

"This place is sound proof as well as extremely secure. It would take a bomb to take down Sabbton tower to crack open the door. For the locking system. It's unique. It will only respond to mine and Lathenas blood. Other than that. It's useless."

"As for info. I only know that what ever it is. I don't think it's one of us. Or any animal. The attack pattern and the place. It's not something a large predator can fit into and not many animal smaller than a person would go up against something that is much larger than itself."


Umbra sighed. So Arc knew less than he did. That was... "Disappointing. Well, as a friend, I'll tell you, you're right; it's not a 'keeper. You see I was there for one of, if not the most, recent killings."

"I was in the warehouse, calming down, getting ready for my next job when something came out. It got the girl, and it struck me with fear. Now my father never told me many bedtime stories, but I know enough to say that that thing was like something out of fairy tales."

Umbra shuddered at remember, visibly shaken. Arc was a friend, there was no need to control himself here. "It grabbed her, she was screaming for help... then I saw her throw a data scroll, but I couldn't think of anything but running. I-I was fear stricken. This thing was a Nightmare. Not one from our thoughts, but VERY real."

He collapsed in the offered chair putting his head in his hands. "I'd hoped you would have gathered more information with all the connections you have, but I guess not. I guess I'm your only lead. Where do you think that data scroll went? You explored the place. Did you find it?"

Bad luck.


Mira followed the woman, her boots squelching slightly in the large silence in the house. She stopped where the other woman had indicated was the bathroom.

Wonderfully gaudy and disgusting at the same time.

She entered the washroom and locked the door behind her. As she pulled off there soaked attire bit by bit, she called through the door,
"Who the hell is he? You look like you're pretty, uh, friendly with him. Why a guy with this kinda money and obvious seclusion invite a buncha strangers into his house?"

She wondered if the woman, Luna, she thought the name was, was even listening. She sighed as she set down the last piece of rigid armor. She was left in a waterlogged suit that left precious little to the imagination due to how the water made it cling to her body. Peeling it off like one would peel a fruit, she again addressed Luna,

"And uh, I think I'll need a robe.." She accented this by tossing down her suit on the floor with a loud 'slap!'.


Arcanas listens to what Umbra has to say and when he asked about the data scroll Arcanas lay back on the chair.

"I found one next to a person who has a bruise on his head near the warehouse where it took place. Might be the one we are looking for. It's with Luna at the moment. As for it being a Nightmare. We got our self a real problem. The government wont accept an exiting of such a thing and would want us to keep our mouths shut about it. If we are doing it privately, we have to avoid the cops and the shock troops. This place can be use for our staging point and main operations."

"Our do you prefer we do this with a cover up? There is a unit that was made by the government to handle crimes that are larger than what the cops can handle. Especially those that are government related and are to sensitive for local law enforcement to handle. The unit was disband two years ago."

As Luna waits outside the toilet for Mira and she asked who is Arcanas and her needing a robe.

"He is someone I met in my school days. As for who he is now, his current job is head of the Anduruna sniper school."

Luna than walks off to grab a robe and hangs it on the door handle before knocking on the door.


Cyprus shook his head and sighed. Arcy-poo wasn't being very helpful anymore. Shelter? REALLY? if they were here for shelter the man would have been a bit less insistent on their coming. He'd figure it out. He looked at everyone else in the room.

"you guys don't really think that's all we're here for? cause I don't."


Mira had spent the intervening time drying and fluffing up her fur. Though she vehemently opposed anyone calling her 'fluffy', she still held the description in a high line of praise, her one vain shortcoming.

"Interesting, how did he get enough money to buy this place? This isn't exactly a place one can buy even on a senior professor's salary."

She quickly opened the door and snaked in the robe. She donned it with a bit of hesitation, then left her armor where it was and let her hair hang down. However, she rest rapped her gun belt under the robe, concealed by the robes.

She reopened the bathroom door.
"You guys met in high school eh? Anything ever happen between the two of you?" She was picking at straws being friendly to the woman. The more she understood about the arrogant *******, the more she could predict his actions.


"Cover up? What do you mean?" Umbra asked. "And I presume you're talking about PSS9. I get around too, but military wasn't really my thing. I heard stuff, but not anything coherent, puzzle pieces that I care not to put together. What is your take on them, and why would they, a disbanded group, be useful for us?"

The lizard stood back up, and started to pace. "Stupid as you may look and act, I know, as your friend, you are moderately intelligent. Explain your plan of yours for us to snoop around. Small words. Something anyone could understand. I'm a bit slow today from all this stress."



Ann would have done a dance of excitement had it not been for the twisted ankle but instead set-tled on beaming about the fact that after years on the street Ann would finally have a home. The dreamkeeper did feel somewhat upset about not being able to afford paying for it though but set-tled on the idea of perhaps cooking for them if they'd allow it. Living on the streets Ann had devel-oped the ability to turn the most meager of rations into something delectable in order to build up moral for the leaner times which meant no food at all. Along with the cooking skill however Ann also had built up quite a bit of dirt which made it ever-so awkward to walk around this really expensive looking mansion so Ann took to standing in a corner not touching anything or even leaning on the walls just standing awkwardly straight near a corner though in truth Ann couldn't be happier.

"I dunno Arc has been really kind to me so far and like he said its a REALLY big house maybe he just wanted company I've seen it before when I was little but it was usually just rich keepers adopting little orphan kids not inviting groups of strangers into the house so I'll give you it is a bi odd but he also invited Mira in here and she's got a springer so I doubt he's planing anything funny."

Meanwhile Bas cocked his head mimicking Elena with a "nyanyanya" that sounded almost like a mischievous chuckled then sprang out and licked the side of her face and rand off darting behind a couch cushion, long, fluffy tail sticking out.


Steamer and Puddles went out of Zoes pocket and sat on her head. Steamer blew a light fire over Puddles to dry her off. He watched the other and wrapped himself around his foster sister. Puddles rolled her eyes at Steamer and snuggled up against Zoes hair.


" Public Security Section 9 was established as a search and rescue organization. Officially billed as an international organization, it is actually a counter-terrorist network and anti-crime unit operating in the Anduruna National Public Safety Commission. Its operatives are allowed to act with or without government consent as they are almost unknown to the public eye. In particular, Section 9 and its members are among the best cyber warfare operatives in the country, and as a result usually end up involved in cases relating to the internet, such as hacking and cyberterrorism. Among other cases out of normal jurisdiction."

"This case falls under that area. But there is only one problem. The original headquarters was de-stroyed and most of the original members are either dead or missing. They were investigating one of the biggest black mail case when they dug in to deep. The government sent in a spec ops strike team to silence them. The members of section 9 hold out for as long as they can before retreating to the main coms room and sealing all doors leading out. Safe for one. The C.O activated the self destruct system and everyone escape through the sewers under the room. The destruction took out 3/4 of the spec ops inside the building. All the members split up after that and none of them has been seen since. As for how I know all this I am one of the original members of that unit. So was Lathena and Luna."

"As for sneaking us around. We can use the sewer system. It runs through out the entire city and we can move around unseen."


Lathena looks at Cyprus.

"My husband tends to be like that. But sometimes he won't say the reason till later."

She looks at Ann who is standing like a statue at one corner and chuckled.

"The bathroom is down the hall dear. Where your friend went."

"Nya!" Said Elena as she wags her tail and chased after Bas.


As Mira continues to question Luna and opening the door, Luna smiled at her.

"You know. For a person who was very angry with him just now you are suddenly asking alot of questions. Why not as him yourself since you want to get to know him."

As Luna waited for an answer the door with the ryuu neko face opens and out came a water ryuu. It's just as big as the dark ryuu as it looks at Luna and wags her tail. Luna smiled and pat its head and it licked her hand before leaving and heads for the living room. It walks into the living room and looks at everyone.

"NYA!"

Luna smiled.

"Hungry Whirlpool?"

The ryuu shake its head to say yes and looks at steamer and puddles and tilt her head.


Ann nodded gratefully and was about to head in the direction of the bathroom when another large ryuu entered the room this time a water ryuu though and that helped settle the nerves. . . a little. At least this one seemed to have a rather friendly disposition that was a plus. Ann smiled at the ryuu and darted around it to the restroom to clean off. The dreamkeeper was at the door when Mira and Luna came into sight and it only took a moment and a quick double take to notice the lack of decent cover for Mira in her newly donned robe and Ann flushed bright red not used to seeing anyone so scantly clad what with the dreamkeeper having lived in the streets everyday before this making showers and really other people not a most common occurrence. Forgetting dirt completely Ann's back slammed against the wall and the jackal/rat's golden eyes shifted nervously away as the mumbling commenced, "I-I-I'm so sorry I didn't r-r-realize you'd be . . . and I . . . never really used an actual shower before. . .Not that I've never showered! Just not in umm . . . lovely home . . . I should be going now." Ann said with a nervous shake before making an awkwardly straight turn and starting to slink away even though there was nothing really to be so embarrassed about with Mira perfectly covered.

Meanwhile Bas attempted to escape pursuit from Elena by stumbling over the pillow but only suc-ceeding in clumsily falling off the top of the pillow and rolling to the ground onto his back very con-fused and dizzy. "Nyayayaya~"


"I should have figured you were in that sort of crowd. I can't say I'm surprised." Umbra shrugged and sta back down. "A lot has happened since we last saw each other, I use my power for a business of my own now. I have people runnin' the old man's "thief's house" now, so I can focus on my own prospects. And now I'm roped into this."

There was no way he could sleep easy seeing something from fairy tales jump out of the book and making dead bodies. Bad f*cking luck.

"So have you already analysed the data scroll, or have you taken the courtesy to not view it without me?"



"Hmpf. I don't like him. You do the math." She figured that Luna knew exactly what Mira was getting at by asking those questions. But it wasn't important. Besides, Ann had just come around the corner.

Mira had to stifle a chuckle when the girl turned red and started to stammer.
"It's okay Ann, I'm decent enough. You don't have to be embarrassed for my sake." She tightened the strap about her waist nonetheless, even though it was only females where the three of them were. There were multiple males down below. And a free show wasn't what Mira had in mind. Her fur was still slightly wet despite all of her work drying it. If it wasn't for that, she would almost con-sider simply walking down there with just her gun at her side. She wasn't totally concerned with being in the buff, being in a mercenary company that composed of mostly males, she learned that once they saw everything at once, she got less and less sidelong glances. She figured 15 minutes of being uncomfortable in the showers was vastly superior to reprimanding her subordinates nonstop. Besides, the whole concept worked both ways, which also helped.

But her fur was usually fluffy enough to cover her in the first place.

"Anyways, if you need a shower go right ahead, I'm all done if you couldn't tell."


Ann simply nodded in response to Mira and tried not to make too much eye contact as the dreamkeeper scooted past the two of them and nodded politely at the two of them before disap-pearing into the bathroom and shutting the door, clicking the lock in place on the fly. Ann was never good in even the slightest of awkward situations almost always completely froze up or stirred so much that nothing that came out of the jackal/rat's mouth made sense, well to anyone else at least. A smile did grace Ann's features however just at the delight of having a lock for privacy for the first time and a shower! Ann could barely suppress a squeak of delight at the thought of finally being able to take a real shower. Out in the streets Ann made due, of course, but gardens, hoses, and in some sad cases rain water never really cut it and besides there were always some perverts staring and it was really nice to just have some privacy for once.

Enthusiastically Ann peeled of clothes, layer by layer, starting with kicking off the shoes, then peeling off the dirty old jacket, shirt, pants, and finally slipping off the underwear before twisting the handle and letting the steamy warm water cascade down onto the young keeper, making Ann's hands press against the wall and sigh deeply in relief as the water flowed down Ann's slender frame seeming to wash away the years of street life as they went. . . Then Ann thought it would be nice to hum a little tune as the scrubbing commenced.


"The scroll is with Luna and I have not looked at it yet. Do you want to look at it now? Or do you prefer to wait till our guest to leave first?"

Arcanas than walks to a terminal and turns it on. As it loads he looks at Umbra.

"We know its a nightmare. But the question is what type is it? We cant go in blind and just pray for luck that we don't end up like the others. Plus we cant confirm if it is the same one responsible for the murder in the other districts.

Luna waited when she took out the data scroll and flips t around as she looks at Mira.

"So.... you are self employed?"

Elena looks at Bas and licks him.

Lathena got up and heads for the kitchen as Whirlpool followed behind her.

"I'm heading for the kitchen. Anyone wants anything?"


"I'd prefer they leave." Umbra said, astutely, then turned his attention to the monitor that was now opening.

"...but I am a bit impatient. It seems he's going to be here a while, no?" Umbra pulled his chair closer to the monitor, got in a comfy position and started to twiddle his thumbs. "All of them are." He finished.

Umbra thought for a bit. There was no luck. There was no chance. Arcanas was planning something.

"Those random strangers you pulled off the street... do you intend to use them for anything? You act aloof, kind, and of average intelligence, but I know better. Was this really random philanthropy?"



Ann stepped out of the shower and dried down with a towel which was then wrapped and folded around the dreamkeeper's body. A tingling sensation overwhelmed Ann as a red tinge hued the jackal/rat's cheeks it felt. . . good! It just felt so good to be really and truly clean for the first time in a long while and the very sensation made Ann feel like dancing or singing or something to some theatrical end that would do this feeling justice. And Ann had just about done that when the dreamkeeper's eyes met their reflection in a small portion of the mirror which wasn't fogged out. Ann's hand reached forward and wiped away a portion of the condensation in unison with the dreamkeeper's wilting ears and a nigh inaudible groan. Though dirt free this body was still Ann's. . . it would always be Ann's and no matter how many times it was washed, lathered, and combed. . . it would always be dirty. All it took was another moment of staring into the deep sorrow of those golden pools and Ann was back. Right back down memory lane.

Ann, some time ago, standing at the usual both in the old dive bar, "Malik's" where the owner was too lazy and uncaring to notice a group of underage patrons much less turn down their, very much adult, money for a few drinks and a place to hang out while they discussed there various small, in-consequential, conquests to one another over anything at all, the subject didn't really matter, all that did was that they were the kings and queens, the nobility of this small slice of town and all that mattered to Ann was finally having a place to belong.

The Rapid Street Slitters, as they called themselves, had found Ann only about four months ago and had never really put the jackal/rat into any action, more just used as a useful persuasion tool and a pretty face to calm down the law and get the sleazy barkeep to toss in a few free rounds every once in a while. Ricky Amazis (or Amaze Us as his gang had taken to calling him not being the particularly creative types) was the leader of the gang who had found and befriended Ann back then, at the time he was 21 and was a red colored weasel/stoat with black crosses over both his eyes which were a handsome amber shade he used to great effect with the ladies, and he was at the bar that night too making time with his usual crowd over by the pool table the a lit cigarette in one hand and a pool cue in the other hanging around his ordinary friends as normal when suddenly his amber eyes shifted over to Ann standing alone in the corner and lingered there. It was then that he did something very unusual, he put out his lit cigarette in the ash tray on hand and beckoned for Ann to come over.

Ann's attention was immediately caught causing the young dreamkeeper to stand at attention ears perked. Ricky never paid any attention to anyone outside his normal group of rag tag lieutenants who were really just a mettle of vagabonds, drop outs, and dealers and it caused a ting of color to flare up in Ann's cheeks as the jackal/rat ran over at full speed. Ricky simply smirked at Ann and put a deceptively gentle hand, for one rumored to have been so rough, on the dreamkeeper's shoulder.

"Woah woah slow down there kid this ain't the military here at easy." Ricky chuckled as he leaned back smugly against the table actually forcing one of his men to back off quietly int the process.

Ann's embarrassed blush at all the attention deepened as the dreamkeeper's stuttered reply came. "Y-yes you're r-right as always Ricky sorry um . . . boss sir!" Ann couldn't help but quake in nervous-ness in the presence of the most powerful man this side of the neighborhood.

Ricky chuckled again coolly watching with disinterest as his plant ryuu, Neph, prowled by the two grumbling a low "Yaaaa~" as she went by on her way to scavenge up more snacks from the bars peanut bowls, long sharp nails clanking against the ground as she went. "Still just as cool as ever I see Ann. So how are you finding our little abode? Anyone been giving ya any trouble?"

Ann looked away bashfully and shook no to which Ricky tipped his head in recognition and took a sip of his drink sitting at the edge of the table beside him. "Good, good. You know you're a very valued member of our team and we're happy to have you here as one of the family. Ricky finished his sip before placing the glass back down decisively and wiping his lips with a long full arm stroke. "Speaking of which, by the way, we were hoping to put you to more use for us now that you've been here a while and got the lay of the place since we're family and family, of course helps each other out."

Ann's golden eyes lit up with wild excitement. "A-A job?! Really for me?! What can I do for you R-Ricky? I'll do anything to help out the family!"

Ricky grinned his own nonchalant grin and turned back to the pool table picking up his cue. "Alright kiddo thats just the attitude I wanna hear! Well you see right now the family's got a little bit of trouble money wise and as boss of these rag tag idiots I can't let that happen these guys and gals would starve without me and the money ya know? So I was thinkin' we could put your. . . talents to use." Ricky's striking amber eyes flicked over his shoulder and traced Ann's body up and down with only two thoughts behind them in that moment, lust and a hint of mischief enough to set any girl's blood boiling and head light before he turned his attention back to the pool table and began lining up his shot. "So I was hoping we could use you in a job. We're hitting that big fancy jewelery place up on 7th next week and it seems that the owner has an eye for pretty things. That would be where you come in. All you have to do is distract him and me and the boys will take care of the rest those fat *******s have far more than they could ever need right now anyways."

Suddenly Ann was forced to take a step back and reconsider, something Ann had never dreamed of doing to Ricky before. "B-but steal? I dunno if I c-can do that Ricky! I mean that's there stuff."

Ricky drew back on the cue teasing a shot a few times in final contemplation, tongue creasing his lips in deep thought, "Look kid how many times have those *******s walked all over you and made you feel like crap just for being a street rat? All we're doing is getting some payback with stuff they wont even miss and in the process keeping the family fed you want that right?"

Ann's ears folded and the urchin dreamkeeper nodded solemnly, the jackal/rat could never dream of letting the family starve, "Okay then . . . I suppose that's fair. I-If they really wont miss it. And provided that no one gets hurt. . ."

Ricky's ear twitched at being given confirmation of an affirmative answer as he drew back one final time. "No worries no one will get hurt this operation is easy in easy out snatch and grab no one will be hurt kid I promise. After all this is my plan and I'm a master of my domain." the weasel/stoat finished smugly as the balls clacked from his taken shot. ". . . Damn. Pocketed the 8 early."

[One Week Later]

"Run you idiots! Go, move!'

"Stop right there you little brats hand it over!"

"Screw you Pops!"

These sounds echoed through the tight winding alleys off 7th as a heavy rain bared down on a breathless, fleeing Ann soaking the dreamkeeper to the fur.

The plan had gone all wrong, the jeweler's kid had noticed the theft going down while his father was being distracted by Ann's cute looks up at the front counter and called for help alerting a zealous security guard and putting them all in hot pursuit.

Ann panted and glanced back down the alley in time to catch Ricky tear down the the other end of the all culminating in a sliding stop and immediate turn down the same alley as the jackal/rat. "Go kid move your ***!" He shouted at the top of his lungs when, from behind the dark corner of whence he had just turned a giant arm struck out and caught Ricky by to collar and held him up in the air. Ann gasped in panic as moments later the rest of the massive security guard emerged from the other end of the corner.

The guard was a massive bear who wore a threatening scowl as he brought Ricky up to his snout so as to be face to face. "You're in deep now you little ******* now hand over the-guhARGGGGGG!!!"

The security guard was never able to finish his sentence before Neph, Ricky's ryuu, had leaped upon the guard's face and using her sharp claws, rent the poor man's eyes from his head before jumping off and skittering away making the guard release his grip on Ricky to claw at the nothingness where his eyes had been, now spattered with blood, and howl in agony.

Ann couldn't help but scream in terror as Ricky ran towards the jackal/rat. The whole grizzly scene had been just like watching something out of a horror scroll only so much more real and far more terrifying.

Ricky grabbed the stunned jackal/rat's arm and pulled, "Come on retard we have to go now!" and he pulled and pulled the hapless dreamkeeper all the way back to a dark corner of "Malik's where the two laid back and taught their breath in privacy.

Ann felt like vomiting. This wasn't how things were supposed to go! This wasn't anything like what Ann had signed up for. And as Ann's soaked form shifted, the jackal/rat's head shifting to face Ricky, he could see it in those golden eyes.

Rage. Unrelenting and unquestioning rage flowed over Ricky's features as their eyes connected. "What?! Don't you dare look at me like that! This was your fault! If you had just done as I told you to and distracted everyone none of this would have happened! Its your fault that idiot lost his eyes and its your fault for putting this family in danger!" Ricky swore as he staggered up and stumbled towards Ann.

Ann's eyes light with terror as these words burrowed into the dreamkeeper's subconscious. "N-No but I said-"

Ann was forced to be silent when Ricky's arm suddenly shot out and he through the jackal/rat against the wall hard, making Ann gasp in pain then clasping his hand around the jackal/rat's shoulder and squeezing hard burrowing his claws in and making Ann squirm feebly as he leaned in. "It's all your fault Ann all this money is gonna have to go towards smoothing things over now lack of notoriety doesn't come cheap." Ricky snarled then then glanced Ann's soaked figure up and down once more, the mischief once again returning to his wild amber eyes as he held Ann there ag" inst the wall helpless. "But perhaps there is one last job you can do for me to make up for it."

Ann struggled fiercely against the wall quickly realizing what was happening, "N-NO! Get off me Ricky! I mean it! Leave me alone!"

The poor jackal/rat was quickly silenced with a rapid slug to the gut and a strong shake. "Shut the hell up!" Ricky spat, "You'll do exactly as I say! I own this family I run the whole damn thing and I could easily just take everything away from you again! Do you remember that? Being alone and cold on the streets? No on loves you Ann they never will and with a snap of my fingers everyone here leaves you all alone again. You might as well be dead when that happens. So you'll do whatever the hell job I tell you to!" Ricky's palms had slipped around Ann's throat by this pain and the jackal/rat's vision began to flicker all that was left to Ann was the small pleading whispers of "no" and an endless stream of tears cascading down the dreamkeeper's cheeks.

Ann's eyes welled over with tears staring back into the mirror before Ann blinked and forced a smile. The experience was a learning one. Ann now new that in life the jackal/rat's job was only to serve others. Be of good enough use and you can stick around longer. Don't fail and you won't get punished. Obey at all costs.

"C-can I have something to wear? All I have are these dirty things. . . Have anything nice and simple? I don't wanna be a bother but I also don't wanna dirty up the house. Ann choked, voice slowly returning to normal.


"With only the four of us things might be difficult. But with more, it will make our task easier. Plus picking the locals will draw less attention than a hired gun. Now... the only thing left is to ask them. Slowly."

The screen boots up to the home screen and Arcanas types in the password. Once the screen is unlocked, he types in a search and the information came out.

"We are looking for The black book. According to information, the book is extremely old. Not sure on the age. But some say its in the millions. The book has detailed information on our friend. But the problem is getting the book. It's in Sabbton tower 36th floor museum. To make matters worst, its been recently moved to the vault. Which makes getting to it even harder."

As Luna waits for Mira to answer Ann called out from the bathroom asking for some clothing. Luna left and came back with a shirt and jeans and hang it on the door and knocked on it to tell Ann that the clothes are hanging n the door handle.


Mira chuckled slightly,
"Naw, you'd have to be crazy to be self employed in my business." She pulled the dog tags out from under her borrowed robe, holding the one that read, 'Sargent West, Mercer's mercs'.
"Our company is based outside of city limits, and we specialize in convoy protection for the richer more worried folk who go from city to city. We do get some alternate contracts, razing a building, whatever."

She didn't feel like telling them that her company's 'other' contracts included mass assault, violence at the scale of an army maneuverer, and when it came to it, assassination. Mira annoyingly enough had been picked most for the dirtier missions, simply due to her eyesight and marksmanship.

She replaced the dog tags under her robe and crossed her arms,
"Where is Arcanas anyhow?"


Ann quickly wiped away the tears after nearly slipping and falling after the sudden knock at the door before quickly opening the door and reaching out to grab the new clothes before shutting it tightly once again and changing slipping into the very clean clothes. The young dreamkeeper opened the door and smiled at the new friends waiting outside. "Woo that was soooo nice thank you Luna its been forever since I had a good shower." Ann said with a big happy grin.


"I agree with your logic, but disagree with the picking process. I assume you don't mind if I test them day by day?" Umbra started thinking up tests he could pull with his power.

"And as for the book, let's focus on that once we know what our people can do, alright?"

Umbra thought for a moment. "I think my power had just awakened when you and I were still working together, do you remember what it does? I think I am most suited to test the "new recruits" that you just picked up."



"Alright. Recruitment first, book later. As for your powers, it's been a long time. I don't think I re-member it. Need a place to find out what it is?" Asked Arcanas as he types in a command on the keyboard and the wall at the far end of the room opens up and an arena can be seen.

Once Luna heard from Mira she said "Hired gun than? Do you enjoy your line of work?" She than looks at Ann and smiled.

"The clothes are a good fit. You can keep them."

Lathena waited for an answer. But since there was none she heads into the kitchen long with whirlpool to feed him.


Ann's eyes lit up brightly and the young dreamkeeper tightly embraced Luna right up until the skin tight suit made it a bit awkward then released bashfully. "Thank you soo munch! You really have no idea how much this means I haven't had clean clothes of my own in forever!" Ann practically bounced with excitement at the new simple threads. Meanwhile Bas took to snooping low to the ground and following the other ryuus to see where everyone was going, the concept of kitchens being completely foreign to him.


"I don't need anything to show you my power. It would be a waste of time and energy; I can just tell you everything here with the theory." Umbra took a deep breath, exhaled, his thoughts in order, and did another recap of his powers.

"I can force people to play games and make wagers. It can be used once a day. I've used it already for the day, so that option is a no go." Umbra paused, then continued.

"The important details are as follows:

One, I transport everybody, note, not everything, everybody within a two-hundred and fifty foot radius into a world, I've theorized to be their soul space, as it can usually tell me something about them and who they are. If more than one person enters at a time, then things get weird and conflicting. I cannot control the size of the bubble.

"Two, once inside the bubble of space, no one can move not I, nor my opponents, until I have ex-plained all the rules in their finesse to my opponent. Once that prerequisite is met, I can begin the actual games.

"Three, once the game begins, I can set three rules and the name of the game. Seriously, the rules require me to set a name. Stupid power. Those rules cannot bend upon themselves, or we will both fail the game by default. Failure, by the way, results in immediate booting from the world twelve hours in the future. I don't know what happens to the lost time.

"Four, once valid rules are set, I make a wager. Then I let my opponent make a wager. Then the game begins.

"Finally, little niche rules:

"I can't play with an opponent that has no cognitive ability. Not only that, Ryuus don't seem to count despite intelligence. I am not allowed to favor either side. I can control the field, but only if the same obstacle harms me, too. Finally, and most importantly, no one can die in the game."

He sighed. And that's my power. "I get tired of explaining the goddamn thing. Anyway, I have a game prepared for each member of that ragtag group from the little snippets I've gleaned from talking with them. I think I'll begin work on that soldier girl. What I need you to do tomorrow is get everyone ELSE out of the house while I test her. I'll bring her to the attic, so don't let anyone up there for twelve hours beyond when we start."

Umbra stood up, walking to the door of the room. "I expect you to come up with the distraction. I'd suggest shopping. Girls seem to like that kind of thing."

-----------------------

Umbra found himself looking upon a number of girls doing girl things. They were always a perpetual mystery.

"It's nice you're all bonding," Umbra said as he passed by, "But it's already late in the day. The rain shows no signs of stopping, and your host is showing no signs of sanity, by which I mean kicking you out of his home, so it seems you're all going to be staying the night. I'd suggest making yourself comfortable."

And then Umbra went off to find Lathena and the bed-ridden, Luna-tempted rabbit boy.

He found Lathena first, in the kitchen, feeding a Ryuu. "It's getting late, could you help everyone find a room? I don't really know the layout of the house well, but I presume my room" by which he meant the room he always stayed in when he was at Arcanas's home, "will remain available."

And Umbra made quick strides to the room which the rabbit boy was in. And he was sound asleep. Seems like he had had a long day. Umbra sat on the bed. A goddamn long day. He could relate with the sleeping 'keeper.


Mira stopped.
"Look, I don't like small talk. All I do is kill people for a living. I'm good at it. Beyond that, there's nothing else to say."

She glanced out the window.
"Ah great, it's getting dark. And my stuff is still wet."
Mira wasn't quite looking for another jaunt into the wide wet world outside of the doors.


Arcans agrees on the plan and as Umbra left, he starts the shutdown and left soon after. As Umbra went into the kitchen Arcanas came down the stairs.

"Alright everyone. Since its getting very late and we have yet to have our dinner, why not you guys call in what ever you want and I'll pay for the bills later. As for your stay, there are plenty of rooms available. Pick anyone of them. Its all full furnished. Now, any questions?"

Luna chuckled after seeing Anns reaction.

"Tomorrow I'll bring you out to shop for clothes. Don't worry about cash. Arcanas got that covered."

Luna just shurgs when she heard what Mira said. But after hearing what Arcanas said,she smiled.

"Well guess you guys will be spending the night here."

Lathena was feeding whirlpool when Umbra walked in and asked about his room.

"It's locked. Arcanas has the key to it. You can get it from him."

Meanwhile Elena followed Bas as he entered the kitchen. Whirlpool was havig his dinner when he saw Bas and Elena coming in and stops to wags his tail.

"Nya!"


Zoe pushed her Nekos away. "Shoo! Go get! Go explore!" She set them on the ground and pushed them away from the couch. "Just don't get in trouble!" They had already bolted up the stairs before she could say anything. She sighed and watched them eave before looking around the room.


Puddles and Steamer ran up the stairs. They stopped to see Bas, Elena an Whirlpool. Puddles squeaked and jumped up onto the table. Steamer followed after Puddles with a blank look on his face.


Cyprus strecthed out his limbs, sticking his legs out in front of him and arms straight up, before standing. He looked around at everyone else and all though he was grateful for room and potentially free food, he kinda missed his bed. It was pretty comfy for such an old matress.

"It would seem to me thay arcy poo is having a slumber party. WE all seem to be invited. but his butler seems to disapprove." He cracked his neck and scratched behind his right ear. He watched the furry worms run up the stairs and chuckled.

"I don't trust him, but we'll see what happens on the morrow." Cyprus turned and looked at Zoe with an apologetic look on his face. "Sorry to bring you into this whole crazy fiesta hootenany hoe-down potluck."

He turned and walked into the kitcken to find lathena. "sooo...I guess we ask you for a room eh?"


Zoe shrugged it off and followed after Cyprus standing behind him leaning against the counter. She rested her shoulders and relaxed. This was a very weird day. It was pretty much the most weird day of her life. Mostly because she had just got sucked into this out of no where. She thought about it and thought about it.


By the time the two other guests had arrive, Lathena had finished feeding Whirlpool. She smiled at them as they approached. "Yes, it would seem that you do." And she led them down the many hallways to the guest rooms. "Here you are, see you in the morning." And then she went off to find Arcanas.

Umbra left for his own room, contemplating his options. When he was in his room, he started mus-ing to himself, "So..." he mumbled, "Arc has gotten me and a bunch of random people involved in a gigantic mess." He sighed again. Umbra just rememberd the briefcase that he had been holding the whole time, and set it down.

He lay on the bed, ready to go to sleep when he muttered, "Truth or dare should do."


Zoe blinks and looks at the room. Fancy. And weird. Puddles and Steamer curl up on the bed. Zoe shuts the door and locks it. She changes quickly into a t-shirt and pants and crawls under the blan-kets. What have I gotten myself into? Zoe sighed and managed to fall into a light sleep.


Mira groaned inwardly when Arcanas announced everyone was going, Shopping. Mira hated shop-ping. Especially in the city. They always had the most obnoxious ads blaring in your face asking you to buy things that didn't matter in the slightest. She preferred to shop at the arms dealer a couple of cities away. They had the typical civilian stuff out front, but a few closer connections and you found get access to high-power stuff.

That set aside, shopping was mainly unfun for Mira. She decided not to argue about the room. She still didn't like Arcanas, but she was considering revising her opinion of his Actions towards the group. So far she had seen no indication of foul play, but it was only just getting to the end of the day, his true motives had yet to be revealed.

"Ill take one of those rooms since you offered." She said cooly. She knew there was really no other option, it was this, or trek all the way back through the city at night to the barracks outside the walls. And that was a task she didn't look forward to much.

She looked to Ann, who had seemed a tad overwhelmed, and a little distraught when she left the bathroom.

"You can bunk with me if you don't want to be alone." What she really meant, and hoped Ann was intelligent enough to pick up on was, "I don't trust them, and I want to keep you safe." Mira wished she would have had someone looking after her on the streets, maybe her life would have taken a different path..

Regardless, Mira felt an almost maternal instinct to protect Ann. A feeling that was unnatural to her. She had never contemplated having kids of her own, a job as a trained killer was no place for a child to grow up in, not to mention she hadn't been on the dating scene for a long time. She also couldn't even pick from the troops, since she commanded them all, and it would seriously undermine her command if she dated one of them.

She waited for Ann to make her choice, feeling quite aware suddenly of the bathrobe around her.


Ann's eyes light up upon hearing about clothes shopping and the young keeper nearly jumped for joy as the jackal/rat's hands clutched together giddy with joy. "Really?! Ya mean it? I've never been clothes shopping before just donations but that would be amazing! Thank you so much!" Ann literally did begin jumping up and down for joy then.

Meanwhile Bas "nyaaed" with delight upon seeing the friendly reaction of the large ryuu Whirlpool and turned his head back to Elena nodding at her as if trying to make sure she captured all the ex-citement he was randomly feeling at this moment too. He then faced Whirlpool once again and stood up on his hinds and sniffed the new big ryuu curiously.

Ann ceased bouncing when Mira suddenly asked if the jackal/rat would bunk with her. First excite-ment filled the young keeper's golden eyes then suddenly embarrassment and nervousness as Ann scarletified from head to the tip of the tail. "I'd love to! B-But umm. . . wait I dunno how many beds are there per room? Where would I sleep? I really don't wanna intrude. . .A-are you sure it would be appropriate? I mean maybe w-we should ask our h-hosts? I dunno I've never bunked before. . . If you're okay with it I'd be fine." Ann stammered golden eyes veering off nervously. The bathrobe honestly wasn't helping to make matters less awkward though Ann did enjoy the prospect of bunking with someone the young keeper had never done so before, the whole prospect was very new and very personal.


Lathena found Arcanas in the living room and walked up to him.

"Plans tomorrow?"

"Big enough to get almost everyone out of the house. But Umbra wants to test one of them first."

"So..... better get the wallet ready and hopefully the house is still standing when we are back."

PM Offline
DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 1:51am
Luna in the mean time listened to Mira and Ann and said "There is a room with two beds. If you want to skip your dinner I can show you the room now."

Meanwhile in the kitchen Whirlpool sniffed at Bas and licked him and Elena flew up and landed onto of Whirlpools head.


Ann nodded in excitement, "Tat sounds great thanks Luna! I really wasn't too hungry anyways too excited with everything going on!" Ann admitted, the day had really been full of very welcome sur-prises and Ann suspected there were more to come tomorrow. The former urchin couldn't wait to explore the city as a common keeper would.

Bas screed in delight and back flipped at the force of Whirlpool's tongue. When he flipped himself back over his hair was standing on end because of all the saliva from the lick. Shaking himself off Bas ran around Whrilpool and hugged himself to the giant ryuu's tail.


Zoe barely slept. She sighed and rested her hands on her head and shoved her head under her pillow. "Ugh.."


Puddles snuck out of the room quietly. Steamer was sleeping and she didn't feel like waking him up. She walked around and heard the ryuus. She hid behind the corner and peered at them with glowing eyes curiously.


Mira chuckled slightly at Ann's hyperactivity. It was almost contagious. She sighed and said,
"Heh, gimme a minute, I have to go get my soaked stuff." She walked away quickly, and soon found herself at the bathroom. Quickly darting in, she retrieved all of her soaked armor and hefted it with a grunt. Packing it all was kinda of annoying when one wasn't wearing it. She walked back down at a slower pace until she arrived where Ann and Luna were waiting.

"Okay, i'm all good here."


Once Mira has grab her clothes Luna lead them to the 3rd floor and a room with 2 beds.

Arcanas told Lathena to head to bed first and that he will be up till everyone goes to sleep before he joins her.

In the kitchen Whirlpool flips his tail and lands Bas on his back as he gives him a ride out of the kitchen and from the corner sees Puddles . He got closer and tilts his head to the left.

"Nya?"


Puddles squeaked as she saw Whirlpool. She jumped and relaxed. He scared her, but now she was fine. She looked at him closely. "Nyaaaaa!"

Whirlpool sneakered when he sees Puddles reaction and lowers his head for her to crawl on.

Puddles smiled and jumped on the large ryuus head. She smiled and looked around the huge place.


Ann couldn't wait to get to the room and once the jackal/rat was there the young dreamkeeper plopped down immediately into the bed with a bounce and a snicker of delight. Ann never had a bouncy bed before. "Mind if i take this one?" Ann asked already pulling up the covers though still fully clothed, shy of course. "I really wanted to thank you by the way Mira you helped me feel much safer today." The dreamkeeper mused, snuggling into the sheets. "Why have you been so nice by the way if you dont mind me asking?"

Bas was having the time of his life atop his new friend's back whilst accumulating other various new friends as well on the walking bus that was Whirlpool. "Nyyyyyyaaaaaaa!" Bas called out in delight and snuggled into Whirlpool's fur.


Mira thanked Luna briskly before entering the room. Being sure to click the lock, she smiled at Ann.
"No problem, these are better than what I'm used to as well." She stepped towards the corner of the room and set up all her wet armor. The armor was water resistant and had a high evaporation rate, so it should be dry by the morning. Mira then stood with her back to Ann and pulled off the robe. Normally this would cause a fair amount of indecent exposure, but it seemed impossible, but Mira actually looked less curvy and more covered when her fur was allowed to fluff out naturally.

She removed the gun belt strapped to her waist and pulled the springer pistol from it. She checked the chamber, making sure it was ready to fire, the deposited it under her pillow. She ear perked at Ann's question,
"Heh, that's no problem. To be honest, I used to live on the streets, and nobody gave a **** when a dirty and poor girl showed up on their doorstep begin for food. If I had had someone to help me then, I might have avoided... Nevermind." Her eyes grew a little dark,
"I just don't want what happened to me to happen ti anyone else while I can still do something about it."

She then sat on the bed and pulled the blankets over herself,
"Word of advice? Arcanas seems nice, and it may turn out he is for real, but be wary. Things have a way of turning out differently than you expected. Now get some sleep." She turned away and steadied her breathing, resting, but not sleeping. She didn't actually plan on sleeping at all that night, she was going to wait for morning to be sure nothing was going to go wrong.


Once Ann and Mira are in and the sound of the door locking can be heard Luna heads back down the stairs.

Whirlpool raises his head up once Puddles is onboard and wags his tail. He than heads out the kitchen and back the way he came. Arcanas was checking all the doors when he saw Whirlpool heading back to the door and walks up to him.

"Hey boy. I see you met some new friends."

Whirlpool looks at Arcanas and wags his tail.

"Nya!"

Arcanas smiled and went ahead to open the door as Whirlpool steps in and Arcanas closed the door behind him. Inside was a tropical garden with trees, small hills, caves and even a waterfall. The temperature inside is the opposite of the outside and its comfortably warm. It has a translucent dome and some lights to brighten up the area just enough to look around. As Whirlpool heads for his cave, some of the other ryus look at the new comers and followed Whirlpool as he entered his cave and slowly lowered the three ryus on him to the ground.


Despite the fact that Mira was less curvacious disrobed and not facing Ann, the young dreamkeeper couldn't help but stare a moment as the jackal/rat's entire body turned red followed by a tiny meep and pulling the covers over the keeper's point ears. "G-Gnight!" Ann thought a moment on what Mira had to say. . . what had happened to her that she was worried about happening to Ann. . . no matter what it was Ann felt safer that Mira was looking out for a fellow street rat. Ann would have to ask her more questions later as the keeper slowly drifted off into a sound sleep.

Bas exclaimed an excited "NYAA!" As he ran out to the other ryuus.


The other Ryuus played with Bas and the others they they all fell asleep.

By the time it's 1 am in the morning everyone was fast asleep and the dark ryuu is doing her rounds on the ground floor.

Chapter 2: Decisions Decisions

8 am in the morning. Everyone is was wide awake and had their breakfast before Arcanas pulls everyone out for a shopping trip in Sabbton Tower while asking Mira to stay behind as Umbra wants a word with her in private.

When they arrived at the tower, Arcanas told them that its a no limit shopping sphere and that they will only be going back at around 9 pm before sending them disappearing left and right.


In the living room Umbra sat on his bed in the attic. It was routine go-time: time to wait, that is. When Mira entered, she had on with her trademark glare that missed nothing, Umbra sighed a bit.

"Look," Umbra said plainly, "I know you don't trust me or Arcanas, and spirits willing, I don't blame you. My friend is one of the most instinctually creepy people on the planet, pulling you all off the streets."

"So," Umbra continued, "I will plainly state, I don't trust you either."

"Do you like chess Mira?" Umbra said, opening a carved wooden case with intricate designs. Inside was a gift from Arc, a chessboard. The question was rhetorical, however, and he never intended to receive an answer, "I've never liked it. A fun game, yes, but have you ever thought about the pawn? Always being used, a creature, yes, a drone, with little purpose beyond serving it's king. The loyal knight, however," He pointed it out on the board. "charges off into battle to defend what it holds to be true. Though it is not a game I like," Umbra stated, setting up the board, "I have played a number of games. Mainly against myself. And I prefer a knight to a pawn. Something loyal and powerful to a weak tool."

He paused, the game was set up. He pointed at the king. "Arcanas wants to use those people as pawns. Your suspicions are right. He is a powerful manipulator. Despite that aloofness, he is very dangerous. While he is manipulating, he rarely thinks of the details though..."

"So that's why I've brought you here." He pulled out a chair at a table in his small room. "I'd like to play a game. You don't have a say in the matter. I would like to make you a loyal knight as opposed to a simple pawn and if you so choose in the end... I can get you out of the game."

"But I know there's something, someone that we have that you want." Umbra continued his speech, continuing to not let the soldier speak, "That girl is rather attached to you," Umbra was fingering a pawn. "You don't want any harm to come to her right? I don't either. I think Arcanas is being reckless in his choosing. That girl doesn't stand a chance, even though she has lived on the streets all her life..."

"But I've said too much, I'm sure you're sick of my bloody voice at this point." Umbra sighed. "Let us begin the game."

Umbra snapped his gloved reptilian fingers, and his halo appeared over his head. The scenery disappeared. All but Mira and Umbra. "This is where you react," Umbra chuckled.


Mira awoke well before Ann. She got up quietly and stepped with silent steps towards her now dry armor. Picking it up, she donned it with relative few clinks and clacks. Rebelting her gun belt and holstering her sidearm from under her pillow, she quietly left the room and took some looks around the big mansion.

Before she knew it, enough time had passed for everyone to have awoken. She was going to leave for the mall along with them, but Arcanas mentioned that the man she had thought was the butler earlier wished to speak with her.

With an exasperated groan, she left for the attic, who the hell lived in an attic? She stepped up and entered the room, and gave Umbra a cold stare that could have frozen hot lava.

"Look, I know you don't trust me or Arcanas, and spirits willing, I don't blame you. My friend is one of the most instinctually creepy people on the planet, pulling you all off the streets."

She remained silent, waiting for him to get around to his point. He started to monologue on about chess, and Mira refrained from pointing out that a well used pawn could be instrumental in taking down the king, but she remained silent and stiff, as if she was planning on addressing the troops.

Get to the point you scaley *******...

Then he began talking about Arcanas manipulating people, confirming Mira's accusations. Mira grew cold when Umbra implied Ann.

"Whaddya mean I don't have a-" She was cut off as Umbra's halo flared and the scenery around her swirled like some bad fermentae trip.

"This is where you react." He said, laughing. And react Mira did.

Operating on the years of mercenary and combat training, she lunged forward and gripped Umbra by the throat. She held him off of, what appeared to be solid ground by his neck.

The ground suddenly swirled and revealed itself. They were in a small room, barely big enough for three people. The room was dimly lit, dirty, and had a bed shoved into one corner. There was a nightstand next to the bed with a timer, and the bed hand handcuffs around the strong-looking metal frame.

Mira recognized it immediately, and with wide eyes she pushed and threw Umbra across the room, landing him on the bed violently, his head cracking against the wall.

With wet eyes, she drew her pistol fluidly, and pointed it at Umbra, clicking the safety off. With a steel voice that displayed no emotion, a fact that contrasted with her eyes, she said,

"Alright *******. You have thirty seconds before you become the third person to die in this room." Her mouth turned into a snarl and she began to count,
"29...28...27...26......"


"Tsk tsk." Umbra said, and with a bat of his hand, knocked Mira off of him. Rather, she teleported back to where she was before, her gun back in her holster. After the lizard had gotten up off of the ground, he began, everything was going according to plan. "I'm not in checkmate yet. I said you didn't have a choice in this matter."

Umbra rubbed his neck a bit, feeling the blood from a strike. It would hurt now, but upon leaving it would heal. "Though that was a reasonable move, you don't know what game you are playing. The prelim set time, before the room appeared was your only opportunity to do that; had you have killed me though, you would have lost by default, and I could have taken whatever I wanted. You have to be careful and listen to all the rules before a game. Especially one that deals with your rights."

Umbra brushed a bit of dust off of his suit. "I won't ramble this time. We have business to deal with, and this room won't do. Ah, your soulspace is rather gloomy, I must say. Let's enter mine. I give you permission to move." Umbra went for the door, Mira would find that the state of her paralysis would end until she stepped outside to follow the lizard.

When he opened the door, it was a open field that seemed to go on forever, with a starry night. The only abnormalities were a flo-wood table with two simple chairs, and a door frame which led back to Mira's soulspace. Umbra took a seat.

"I know it is your instinct to act like a soldier, but think like a rational person, at least for a few minutes. Take a seat."

But Umbra wasn't really paying attention to whether she did or not. "The rules of my power state I must state the rules of my power to you." He sighed.

"I promise, I'll be as short as possible." He sighed yet again.

"The simple explanation is I can force people to play games and make wagers. It can be used once a day. That's the short explanation, but I need to say the whole thing for me to be able to actually start." Umbra paused for breath, then continued.

"The important details are as follows:

"One, I transport everybody, note, not everything, everybody within a two-hundred and fifty foot radius into a world, I've theorized to be their soul space, as it can usually tell me something about them and who they are. If more than one person enters at a time, then things get weird and conflicting. I cannot control the size of the bubble.

"Two, once inside the bubble of space no one can move not I, nor my opponents, until I have ex-plained all the rules in their finesse to my opponent. As you have discovered, though, there are niches to this rule. Once that prerequisite is met, I can begin the actual games.

"Three, once the game begins, I can set three rules and the name of the game. Those rules cannot bend upon themselves, or we will both fail the game by default. Failure, by the way, results in im-mediate booting from the world twelve hours in the future. I don't know what happens to the lost time.

"Four, once valid rules are set, I make a wager. Then I let my opponent make a wager. Then the game begins.

"Finally, little niche rules:

"I can't play with an opponent that has no cognitive ability. Not only that, Ryuus don't seem to count despite intelligence. I am not allowed to favor either side. I can control the field, but only if the same obstacle harms me, too. Finally, and most importantly, no one can die in the game."

He sighed. "I get tired of explaining the goddamn thing. Do you have and questions?"


Sov sat on the bench and watched as Mir, his green Ryuu-neko, played in the fountain infront of him. People passing by didnt seem to notice so Sov wasnt very worried about her. He closed his eyes and let thoughts pass through his head, he suddenly felt water cover his face and he opened his eyes to see Mir standing on the edge of the fountain, soaked in water.

"HaHa, your such a little trouble maker huh Mir?"

The Ryuu-neko playfully jumped in the air a few times and gave a loud "Nyaa!".

Sov smiled and watched her as she ran around the inside of the fountain, splashing water every-where. He felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder and he stood up and swung around, coming face to face with a security trooper, and he didnt look happy.

"Sir, is that your ryuu-neko over there playing in the fountain?".

Sov stared at him for a second and quickly responded "Yes Sir it is."

The trooper nodded and quickly pulled out a datascroll and began to type on it while he said "Sir, if you would please retrieve your pet and then come back to me."

Sov nodded and nervously walked over to the fountain and picked Mir up then briskly walked back over to the security trooper. ****, if he gives me a ticket...i dont have any money... He thought to himself as he returned to the security trooper. The trooper handed him a small piece of paper

"Sir, im issuing you a ticket of 500 Lucre for disturbing the peace and obstructing public property."

Sov grabbed the paper and quickly looked it over 500 Lucre!, I dont even have 10!. He looked back up at the security trooper "Will I be able to pay this off at a later date or-".

The trooper looked at him. "Payment is required now unless you have insufficient funds at which time I am supposed to bring you to the closest jail until you serve your sentence or someone bails you out".

Sov nervously moved his eyes around, a few people were standing and watching the scene unfold, his mouth suddenly felt very dry. "I uh...I dont have 500 Lucre at the moment...".

The trooper nodded and placed his hand on his shoulder again and brought out a pair of handcuffs from behind him "Very well sir, if you will come along with me". Sov held out his arms, this wasnt going to end well....


Arcanas is entertaining Elena when he saw the scene and over heard what is happening. He walked towards the trooper and tap on his shoulder.

"Don't you think 500 is too much? Plus I don't see anyone complaining and there is no sign that says not to play in the fountain."


The security trooper tightened the cuffs on Sov's wrists. When Arcanas came up and asked him the question the trooper turned around. "Sorry sir, rules are rules, whether anybody is complaining or not".

Sov had a slightly stunned look to his face, someone is actually helping me out! he mouthed the words 'thanks' towards the kind man from behind the troopers back, then looked up at the trooper himself.

"Sir, i realise its not my position to argue against any current laws or rules, but dont you think 500 lucre is a bit redicolous for having my Ryuu-neko run around the fontain, i mean she wasnt even doing anyth-".

The trooper spun around and hit Sov across the face with the back of his armored hand, Sov stum-bled back and spat blood out of his mouth and onto the ground. The trooper and Sov exchanged glares for a moment before the trooper turned around back to Arcanas.

"Sir, unless you want to pay this kids fine yourself I suggest you leave before I have to arrest you as well for interferring with police matters."

The trooper then turned around and grabbed Sov by the back of his neck and motioned with his head. By now a large crowd had started to gather around the scene.

"Get moving!"


"I'll pay for him. And sue you for using unnecessary force. Use of force must be equal to that of the current threat. You just broke that rule." Said Arcanas as he took out the his data scroll to pay for the fine.


Sov looked at the man standing infront of him. Wow, this guy was really helping out someone he didnt even know!. He blinked in disbelief at the man for a moment before turning his attention to the security trooper who now stood with a datascroll in his hands.

"Payment confirmed, your free to go".

The security trooper said nothing else as he took off Sov's cuffs and walked away from the both of them. Sov rubbed his wrists for a few seconds before turning his attention to the man who had just freed him, he extended his hand out to shake it with the man and in a quiet voice said.

"Thank you sir, im Sov Aryamk."

Mir suddenly popped out from the back of his trench coat and crawled onto his shoulder before giving a worried "nya?" And started to lick Sov's chin where he had been hit, Sov returned the favour by scratching her behind the ears.

"Anything I can do to repay the debt sir?"


"Nice to meet you Sov. I'm Arcanas and the little fuzz ball above my head is Elena.

Elena looks at Sov and tilts her head.

"Nya?"

"As for how you can repay me. Walk with me and tell me about yourself. You don't dress like the locals around here."

Arcanas leads the way.


Puddles sat on Zoes head. She blinked at Mir and tilted her head." Murrrr?"


Zoe watched as steamer ignored the outside world and just sat in her pocket trying to be the big tough guy that was gunna protect Zoe and Puddles. He puffed out his chest.


Sov nodded and followed closely behind Arcanas. Mir crawled back into his trenchcoat and Sov qui-etly began talking.

"Theres not much to tell really, I live by myself out in the desert, im really good at taking things apart and then fixing them, but thats about it, unless you count living in the desert by yourself a skill."

Sov paused for a moment, he quickly studied the situation and decided not to give away too much information until he could trust this man somemore.

"The apparel is more for function than looks, keeps the sun off of me and helps me blend in."

Sov was suddenly very curious about this man, he never talked to anyone yet this man managed to get him talk easily, he listed manipulation as a possible skill for Arcanas before asking.

"So might I ask what you do sir?, not many people around here would help out a random stranger."


Mira growled when she was returned to the previous position and forced to stay immobile. She spat at the ground, as her mouth appeared to still work fine. She stared him down, arms at her sides, eyes burning with hellfire and damnation. She watched him rub his neck.

He still feels pain. Good.. She exited the building when she was prompted. The quip he made about her rights disturbed her deeply. Just what was at stake here?
She took a seat across from the scaley ******* and looked him in the eye, remaining silent. She listened to his rules of his power, and she dissected the words with her mind, trying to find loopholes and a way to exploit them to cause the keeper in front of her pain.

She kept her eyes on him.

"It's a shame you can't die for real here." She said icily. She stood and turned away from him. She knew there was no way he could overpower her now, his rules would deny him from killing her, and she was a trained killer.

"I've got a couple of questions for you. What are your rules? What's your wager? And how long do you expect to live when we are done? Because unless you have some amazing goddamn reason for me not to kill you, we will have no more to talk about."

Mira didn't show it, but she was disturbed at being back in, that, room. She was not liking all the connotations to wagers and rights. These kinds of thing wouldn't end well. She swore to herself to find a way to beat Umbra, even if she lost the stupid power induced game.


"I understand you aren't happy," Umbra sighed for another time. It seemed he only sighed lately. "I'm not either. So I think I'll answer your questions out of order."

"I expect to live as long as I want assuming I win. If I lose, then I don't expect to live long, assuming you give in to impulse. You see, I'm defended by the king, right now. Arcanas is a dangerous man. I think I've said this. Killing me wouldn't do you any good, especially when I'm making such an effort to give you choice here. Well... after this little excursion of course.

"My wager is over your freedom of choice. You're free to choose whatever you want from me, assuming I can provide it. I could even act as your lapdog, if you so choose." He laughed.

"Finally, we're playing a game fondly called Truth or Dare. The game is partitioned by turns. The rules:

Rule 1: If someone states Truth, you must answer with the truth, or you lose.

Rule 2: If one states dare, one must complete a task given by the other member, assuming they can complete it, physically and or mentally.

Rule 3: You cannot repeat the same "truth" or "dare" twice from either player.

"Any more questions?" Umbra asked.


Arcanas listened as they walked.

"So... you come here for supplies and other things? As for what I do, teaching. But not at a normal school. Did you heard of the latest news?"

He than turns to Zoe.

"Done already?"


Sov gave a slight nod and a quiet response.

"Yes sir, thats correct."

When Arcanas asked him about the latest news, Sov got a little nervous, he had heard about these murders, but there had also been strange things going on in the desert too. Something isnt right here... He thought to himself before answering Arcanas.

"Yes sir, I have, ive also seen some strange things happening out in the desert lately, there arent as many jumpers out there lately for one."

He paused for a moment, cycling through information in his head.

"Personaly I think theres more going on here than just a few random murders."

When Zoe appeared he looked at her but said nothing and continued to stand next to Arcanas, Mir poked her head out of his trench coat and placed it on his shoulder to watch.


Mira's fur stood on end when he said the wager. The implications were, severe. She spun around and slammed her hands on the table. She grinned with a smile that went beyond sadism.

"I'm an extremely dangerous woman. Don't pander to me about choices when you plan to remove my own."

She sat down in the chair once more and glared at Umbra. She was thinking in overdrive mode, analyzing every possible way out of the situation. She could simply shoot him, and show up twelve hours later, but he didn't specify what happens. She decided to vie for a little time to find out if there was a way out of this,
"So, since your power makes you answer truthfully abut the rules, what happens when we break them, you said we go back twelve hours, what else happens?"

She awaited his reply with the chilling glare still on her face, then realized something, which started to make sense,
"Oh I get it, you and the cocky ******* are making your own harem. That's what the two girls are, the ones who lost in your sick game. The losers? Well you just have the rich ******* make them disappear."

The fur on the back of her neck was standing on end, and he'd mouth was a snarl by this point.

"So what do you have planned for me? Answer this, and I'll play your damn game."


"I am only obliged to answer questions about the game itself, of which you asked one." Um-bra chuckled a bit. She had an amusing thought process. The option of a harem hadn't yet crossed his mind. Maybe in the future that would... what was he thinking, he'd never do that. His father might though. Sick man.

"If you kill me, you will return to the future--twelve hours into the future, that is--and I will win my wager. If I kill you, the same will take place, you will get whatever you wish from me. It is worth it to note that manipulating an opponent into killing themselves or making them kill you is against the meta-rules." Umbra rubbed his bloodied head again.

"I refuse to answer your last question. It has nothing to do with the game," said Umbra, promptly. "Well then, while I was unable to meet your criteria, are you ready to play the game? We can sit here forever, of course, or you can make your wager. What is it you want from me?"
Mira watched his hand like a ryuu watches a treat. She smiled, her assumption was correct. She could hurt him all she wanted, as long as he didn't try to kill himself or her. And he obviously was still in some pain from the bump earlier.

"Fine, you want my wager? Here's this. If I win, you can never lie to me if I ask you a direct question. This includes half truths. You will have to answer to the best of your knowledge."

Mira had briefly considered following up with the wager that Umbra had wanted of her, as a 'eye for an eye' mentality. But she decided that whatever moral superiority was to be gained here was going to be hers. The situation was obviously almost completely out of Mira's control. But with a fire in her eyes, she set her gun on the table.

"That's my wager, and if you don't cut the **** eating ginning and chuckling, I will shoot you. Won't that kill you? Nope, I'm a trained marksman, I know where all the vital organs should be. So cut the crap."

She left one hand on the gun, and the other on the table. She was ready for the game to start,
"Make your move scaley."


"Ahaha," Umbra laughed, "That makes two of us, but harming me will do you little good. Af-ter all, death from loss of blood is still death. It's not hard to choose not to treat a wound." He grinned at Mira to mock her, "And quit your scowling. It's cute, you see; I'm sure you don't want to turn me on."

"Well then," he paused, "I accept your wager."

"I'm glad that you got the implication by the way, I do indeed go first." Umbra feigned thought for a second, he already had a question in mind after all, "Truth. What is your deepest secret?"


Mira growled at the scowling comment. She lifted the gun and put a round at Umbra's end of the table, spraying sharp splinters everywhere. They would leave some cuts, and Mira got scratched here and there, but it was nothing serious.

She payed close attention to the question, then stopped.

"I haven't been in elementary school for quite some time, but I seem to remember the game working a tad differently. Whatever."

She thought to the question, and decided upon the one thing she had never told anyone else. She took a breath and said,

"My father is a time traveler."

She didn't elaborate more than that, if he wanted a damn explanation he could wait his turn.

"I think this is the part I get to have my say. Truth, what is your biggest character flaw?"

She figured this one would at least be annoying to answer, if he had delusions about himself, he would answer incorrectly, and thus, she would win.


Hmhmhm. Interesting. The game hadn't booted her. Her father was a time traveler huh? That sort of thing made you forget the thousand splinters now making your face and chest bleed.

"The answer is simple. My inflated ego." Umbra chuckled again.

"I'd say it's time to move onto another topic. Truth. What is everything you don't want to tell me about that house, the soulspace we entered here in?"


Mira almost smiled. Almost. The flaw was pretty obvious, she had hoped to catch him out by playing off of it,
Think Mira think! she was taken aback by the demand. She had tried to shove it out of her mind as best she could... She visibly shuddered and said,
"Good thing you're sitting, didn't want to tell you anything about that room."

She stood up, and faced away so Umbra couldn't see her face, nor the tears that welled up within them.

"I.. I was 15. My father was out of the picture, I'm sure you know why now. And my mother had died of a bad case of pneumonia. I was in the street, my mother's family had taken everything away from me. And I was totally hopeless. One day I was just trying to get by when some men showed up, offering me a job.. I was only 15, I had no other options available to me! So I took them up on the job offer. I was supposed to be a maid for a low-rate hotel." Mira crossed her arms, gun still in her right hand,

"If I had known... If someone would have been there... The first day they had me working they set me to... That... Room. There was someone waiting for me. They grabbed my wrists, and chained me to the bed.." Drops of tears were now falling on the ground with silent 'splats'.

"It was all for a service, the timer said how long you could stay with the girl, and then you had to leave. You could do whatever you wanted...."

She stopped there. She knew she didn't have to continue now. What happened later in that room she was almost proud of, even if she didn't usually tell anybody. (this is proved by her yelling at Umbra that he would be the THIRD person to die.)

She turned around, having dried her cheeks and took an unsteady breath. This man was her only company here, and she wanted to see him suffer.

"Dare. You must live through one task of what I went through training to be a soldier. The task is to army crawl under a barbed wire through animal guts and blood."

If anything. It would be amusing to see a suave high-cultured man crawling under barbed wire and soaking himself in carrion.


"I'm sorry for you." Umbra said under his breath, in fact he couldn't even hear himself. It was simply that quiet. He couldn't break the persona he had built up. It was about mind games. It was much too important. There was too much to lose.

And now for the dare. He didn't see this coming, but he accepted the dreary fate.

"I'm amazed," Umbra mocked. "Unwittingly you asked me to do something possible." Slowly, the barbed wire field appeared where the grassland had been. Carcasses covered it with blood, puss, and flies. The rotting bodies reminded him of his father. Not a kind man. He taught Umbra tricks, but when it came down to it, the man would have preferred a normal upbringing.

As opposed to his endless kicking, slapping, hitting, gambling work, getting the short end of the stick, this was... well not nothing, but not impossible.

Umbra took off his restricting suit. It was time for a crawl. The crawl looked to be more than 400 feet, the lizard had never been good at judging distance, but if it were about a hundred more, to add to the estimation it would take him, assuming average crawl speed was about one and a half miles per hour, the crawl was going to be about ten minutes. Add five more for correction time.

Fifteen minutes over rotting carcasses and under barbed wire.

His suit and tie were off. It was time to begin.

The stench was terrible. Umbra had great admiration for Mira and Arcanas already, and this added to it. The fifteen minutes were filled with nausea, and he puked a number of times, and he was dirty from head to toe. But he pulled through slowly but surely. He wondered what Mira was thinking right now. Something self-gratifying. Perfect. The trap was set.

But not until he was complete. But his estimation, Umbra had crawled through 300 feet of rotting corpses, the flies simulated by his world were real and were covering his eyes at times and got in his nose and ears. The buzzing was unbearable. But it wasn't much longer.

100 more feet. 50. 25. 10. 5...

Finish. Umbra exited the course where he started, due to the spacial distortion of his world. His cocky smile back on his face. "No wonder you smell so bad all the time, Mira, if this is what you do all day."

He chuckled. "I guess it's time to stop playing. You asked something physically taxing of me, now I'm going to ask something emotionally taxing on you.

"I dare you to not harm me physically, verbally, or in thought for five minutes." He mimed a click of a stopwatch. "Five minutes are on the clock. Ehehe."


Mira watched the whole thing with a slight air of sentimental emotion. She was still perturbed by the reopening of old wounds she had long sealed. And she had also seen hundreds of trainees and applicant fail this test. She cocked an eyebrow at when Umbra emerged, she hadn't expected gym to make it. She wondered how much he thought was at stake.

The insult fell on deaf ears however, Mira was beginning to realize that he was goading her for en-tertainment. The Dare however, caught her off gaurd.

What?! How can I? Five minutes. The clock was ticking. Scrambling, to think of something, anything besides Umbra. She couldn't think his name because she knew she would, NO! She grabbed her pistol violently and slammed it on the table, pressing a series of releases and latches pulling it apart. She grabbed some cloth and cleaning solvent out of her pack.

I haven't cleaned this in a while. she thought. She scrubbed with the solvent, violently cleaning the gun, visibly shaking, attempting to think of nothing. She resolved on a memory of a drill she had practiced.

"Again!" Thumping of feet, there was a wall in front of her. Residue from spring packing scraping away like wet tissue. She jumps, for what seems like the thousandth time grabbing onto the wall and climbing, yelling at the pain in her fingers. The slide was next, it needed to be oiled, she reached down to her pack to grab the oil, she spotted some-

Noone! There is no one over there!! She cleaned and cleaned, for what seemed like an eternity. She had forgotten how long the cleaning was supposed to take. The final stretch. The 'hell' run. She sprinted, and closed her eyes shut as flashbangs went off around her, yelling she was almost at the finish.. The gun was coming back together now pieces and parts all conjoining in a mechanically deadly bond. [/i] She crossed the finishline. Mercer was waiting. "Good work sergeant! Do it again." [i] The gun slid together with a loud 'clack!'.

Having finished her memory, she attempted to think of, him, as a trainee who was giving her a time on a run.. Sweat beaded in her eyes.
"Time?"

She began to pull the gun apart again, maybe there was something she missed.


"You have completed but three minutes. My time count is impeccable as opposed to yours, it seems." Umbra chuckled, "EheheheheheheheHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHeHeHEhEhE." His crazy laugh gave way to his intent: focus on me, and only me, no one else, there is nothing but me.

Umbra interrupted her second round, taking his scaly hand and knocking the gun to the ground. "I am Umbra. I am no drill instructor. I am the douchebag who brought you here. I made you remem-ber your worst memories."

He went up to her and smacked her in the face. With a sadistic grin on his face, he grabbed her combat suit, and started yelling into her ear, "Ehehe," he laugh was otherworldly and evil, "I hate you. You hate me, too. Face the fact. FACE IT!" He screamed into her ear, pushing her to the ground.

"You have one minute and thirty sssecondssssss," he let his accent slip out, he was pulling out all the stops. "What are you going to do ssssssssoldier girl?"


Mira lost all hope. 2 minutes was too much. Too much for what? She almost, almost, thought of, then the trainee screamed in her sensitive ear, deafening her slightly, and slapped and pushed her off the chair. It helped by distracting her. The last ditch training kicked in, the thing you do when there is no hope, only to hold out for as long as you can.

She lay on the ground, clutching the dogtag with blue line running on it to her chest tightly, and started talking. The words were quiet at first, barely audible, then they grew louder and louder until Mira was shouting them with all her might.

"Sergeant Mira west. Mercers Mercs. Number 105698. Sergeant Mira west. Mercers Mercs. Number 105698. Sergeant Mira west. Mercers Mercs. Number 105698! Segeant Mira west! Mercers Mercs! Number 105698!"

She began to sob in-between each of the repetitions. She had to keep going, hold on to the lifeline that was the only thing left available. The dogtag in her hand suddenly beeped. Saying, (barely heard over Mira's yelling)

"Storage device activated, input name."

"Sergeant Mira West! Mercers Mercs! Number 105698!"

"Identity accepted, playing prerecorded message."

A blue shimmering light appeared above Mira's chest, and inside it a hologram of a dreamkeeper resolved itself. The keeper was a wolf with a wide brimmed hat and tired eyes. He began to speak,

"Mira, *sigh* I wish I could have been there to see you grow up. I.. I left this with your mother, she'll know what to do with it. I wanted to tell you that I loved you, and that no matter what happens, that fact will always be true."

An arm appeared and rubbed the back of the wolf's head, apparently his arm,

"I never was good with emotional speeches. But please, when I'm gone, take care of your mother, and stay safe.."

Tears rolled out of Mira's eyes,

"Sergeant Mira west! Mercers Mercs! Number 105698!"


There must be something that could get to her. The lady had gone into repressive shock. He had pushed too much. This might help later though.

But for now, gotta focus.

The springer. He grabbed the semi-deconstructed weapon. Here goes nothing.

"Hey ssssoldier girl?" He said. "Watch this."

He snapped the springer in two. Flo wood was strong, but when constructed for machinery, not as strong as it could be. It splintered magnificently.


“Wreckeronezero wrote:Sov gave a slight nod and a quiet response.

"Yes sir, thats correct."

When Arcanas asked him about the latest news, Sov got a little nervous, he had heard about these murders, but there had also been strange things going on in the desert too. Something isnt right here... He thought to himself before answering Arcanas.

"Yes sir, I have, ive also seen some strange things happening out in the desert lately, there arent as many jumpers out there lately for one."

He paused for a moment, cycling through information in his head.

"Personaly I think theres more going on here than just a few random murders."

When Zoe appeared he looked at her but said nothing and continued to stand next to Arcanas, Mir poked her head out of his trenchcoat and placed it on his shoulder to watch.”

"Your right on the mark. I've never been out that far into your area before but I would like to if it's related to the current murders in the city."

Arcanas turned and looked at Sov.

"If given the chance. Would you like to do something about these murders?"


Sov looked at Arcanas for a moment. His face tied up in thought, he then looked down at the ground.

"Well..."

He rubbed his mouth in thought and accidently hit the place where he had been hit earlier, he winced before responding to Arcanas.

"Im no hero sir, but it would be my pleasure to help in any way I can, especially if you need some-thing fixed or built."

He was jumping into an entirely new world, but with his main supply of food retreating from the desert, there werent a whole lot of options left, though the thought of being in the city for more than a few days made Sov uncomfortable, he realised it may be his best option.

"So what’s the plan?"


"To go further into detail we have to go else where. Now is not the time and place. And you can call me Arcanas. This is not the military."

Said Acranas as he chuckled.


Sov nodded, he looked back up at Arcanas.

"Yes sir, its just the way I was raised..Arcanas."

He thought for a moment. If he was to help Arcanas out, he would need someplace to stay, now with Arcanas's wealth he obviously must have a house, but would Sov be staying there?, and was there anyone else Arcanas had 'recruited' besides him?

"Out of curiosity Arcanas, where do you live?, and is there anyone else you’ve recruited?"


Mira kept yelling eyes screwed shut, the splinter hit her. More torture.

"Sergeant Mira West! Mercer's Mercs! Number 105698!" (I'm taking a little control here, just so we can keep moving)

She was about to go into her next yelling when something like a timer went off inside her head. It was done. The torture was over. She had won. She shakily removed her hands from the dogtag, hurriedly shutting off the recording. Looking over to the table, she glanced at the ruined springer.

"You broke my gun." She stated. She sighed and stood, drained emotionally. She couldn't even bring herself to think of killing Umbra, the one thing she had sought to avoid. She was tired, and she wanted this ordeal to be over. She stood slowly, and as she did, her anger returned, allowing her fury to be let loose.

"Alright Umbra." She called him by name. There was no more childish insults to be had. She looked towards the door to her soulspace. There was her next idea. It seemed fitting that Mira should come up with a dare, but she refrained. She knew it might mean the loss of her freedom and the game, but she felt she would resist on moral ground one last time.

"Truth. Why do you want to win this game so badly?" She then looked him in the eye,
"Ill be disappointed if you give me a half assed answer." She hoped he got her meaning. She mentally redid herself for the next task or truth she would have to spout, because she figured Umbra wouldn't blow it on this question. It just gave her time to rest.


Umbra regained his composure. He tossed aside the broken springer pieces. The pseudo-insanity hadn't worked. But Mira did look tired. Time for a different tactic. He wouldn't lose anything this way, "Alright, I won't half-*** it."

"I'm scared." Umbra started, sighing. "You've heard the news stories. The people who've gone missing. I'm amazed you made a connection with me and them. Pretty ironic if you think about it."

He chuckled. "Everything up to this point was to look like a smug ******* with all the answers, all so I could win. Truth is, I don't have many answers at all." He had to pick the words correctly.

"Look, we need your help. I need your help. Arcanas is gonna do something stupid. He plans to steal a book. We are going to be fighting a Nightmare. It's been picking people off. That's why I want to win. But I needed to know if I could trust you, and the only way I know that I can with a soldier is through letting you get to know me, and if possible, complete control over you. That was a bit overboard though."

"That is the truth," Umbra said. "Now I'll ask, while unfair and cruel, will you resign this match?"


Zoe nodded and watched Puddles stare at Sov. she pushed Puddles back down into her hoodie and walked after Arc. She tuned them both out and looked around. Same old place to shop... she sighed disappointingly and took a deep breath. She glanced at Sov before urning her head back to her ryuus.


Puddles squeaked as she was pushed back into the hoodie. She glared at Zoe from inside the hood but quickly forgave her owner. She curled up into a ball and felt Steamer curl up beside her.

Steamer yawned and climbed up Zoes shoulder and curled up in her hood next to Puddles.


Mira sat and listened to Umbra attentively. Now that she knew it was all an act, she felt better. A little. She sighed and looked him in the eye. The pain from the past tasks and truths evident in her eyes.

"You know. You could have simply told me what was going on, and then brought me in without having to wager so drastically."

She sat at the table, he head in her hands.

"Id ask what the book is, but it's your turn, but since we're at a break, I'll keep going." She took a moment then, and digested the information fully. She sighed again,
"Im a mercenary, Arcanas is rich. He coulda paid me, we have a policy not to back out on contracts for more money, makes bad business, but you. You...." She slammed her hands on the table,
"If it weren't for what was at stake personally i'd accept and do this job in a heartbeat! But I can't let you win! I've come to far from it.." She glanced at the door,
"So far.. And it keeps coming back. I was powerless for 3 damn years! I will never let that happen again. You will have to kill me before I give in."

She stood from the table,

"I know it seems self-serving, but my wager is paltry compared to yours. If you resigned, I already know what I wanted from you. I'd have no need to ask the questions...." She glanced down,
"But I spose' the same reason that applies to me applies to you. You don't want to be beholden to anyone..."

She held out a hand for a handshake,

"On my mother's grave, I swear whatever the outcome of these games are, I will help you." She waited for his response, so she could get on with the game and finally end it.


Umbra chuckled. "I'm glad that this is now a friendly game. Also, I intended to take something easy to give back. Also keep in mind, if we didn't play a game like this, how could you validate the trust-worthiness of my words?

"But the real point was to get to know you. A mercenary is a hired gun but not always trustworthy one. I may have mentioned it before but Arcanas was literally random in his picking of people. I don't trust as easily as he does. Know that even though this deal will have taken place, I don't fully trust you, just as you don't fully trust me." And so they shook hands.

"Now," Umbra clapped his hands together, "we can continue to be winning obsessed psychopaths."

"Dare. I dare you to beat me at a game of chess." The table had repaired itself. Arcanas' gift stood there, set up just as Umbra had left it.


Mira's heart sank. Chess. She was never very good at chess. She resolved to do her best, but she didn't have high hopes. Most of the fight had left, but she hadn't lost yet, there was still on little chance left.

She sat at the table, and glanced at the board arranged. She waited for Umbra to sit, then made her first move.

He made me white on purpose.


"Ahaha, why the long face Mira? You're in control, right?" Umbra chuckled. "That's what I said at the beginning, right? Pawn to e5."

The game lasted 21 moves, Umbra started by throwing pawns out into the battlefield. "You see what happens to pawns in battle? They die Mira. Many of them." And the game continued in silence.

Soon, Mira's knight took his knight, which was pinning a rook and a queen. "Hm," Umbra grunted, as if the loss was unbearable. But soon, the game was clearly turning in his favor. Eventually, it was his win.

"Well, Mira," he held out his hand for a handshake, "it was fun. Welcome to the group." The world around them started fading to black.


Mira said nothing during the whole game. She could tell after the first few moves she was out-matched. The game proceeded quite how she expected it to, losing pieces here and there.

And then the final checkmate. She had lost. The last few decades were for nothing. She sat back in defeat, ignoring the offered hand, and the world swirled around her. Then she realized, she had one final move she could make. The last act of a Martyr so to speak. The instant the real world was visible enough to see, Mira lunged like a woman possessed, and decked Umbra with one of her metal covered fists.

The feeling of skin and flesh giving way gave her a delicious thrill. She didn't care what he said next, what he made her do. She had had the one final act of defiance, and it was completely worth the trouble.


Umbra totally saw the punch coming. He laughed as she clocked him in the face. Thank god it wasn't totally the real world yet. Umbra healed in a moment. "Ahaha! I command you not to physically injure me."

"I'm not gonna make you do anything besides that, Mira. You can do what you want up until you're needed. Once this mission is over I command that you are free to do as you please, free from my rule."

Umbra sat on his bed. And lay down. "I'm tired. Good night, the others should have returned by now. Oh, and before you go, I command you to forget this whole ordeal, everything that has to deal with playing our game. Our chat was about normal things and we grew to not totally hate each other."

Mira would be no worse for wear, her gun was fine, now that they had left, so there would be no way for her to find out what had happened. So Umbra lay on his bed, confident she wouldn't re-member anything, and that she couldn't hurt him. It was a good day.


Mira left the room with an odd feeling in her gut, like there was something wrong, something very wrong. The conversation had been a bore and a waste of time, and now Ann had had a whole day with the cocky ******* basically alone.

Great job Mira, you shoulda just decked him and left. She thought.

She retreated to her room and undid her dog tags. She realized that the blue one was activated.
"Huh?" She clicked it off, how had it done that? It hadn't ever in the past... She shrugged. Electronics were electronics, they never worked quite right.


"You will find out soon."

Said Arcanas.

20:00.P.M.

Everyone is back at Arcanas place and went about their own things. Luna is helping Ann with her 4 bags of clothes, Lathena is in the kitchen preparing some salad and Arcanas is with Sov in the Ryu nekkon feeding the Ryus.


Sov was still amazed by how big this mansion was, Arcanas must seriously be a millionaire, he thought to himself. He fed Mir as she stayed perched on his shoulder, she gave no attention to the other Ryuu-nekos around her and was focusing solely on eating her late dinner.

"So Arcanas, just wondering, do you have any springers or any kind of armory I could busy myself with?, im not really good with people, so i'd prefer to just sorta stay out of the picture..."

The last part of the sentence was spoken as more of a whisper. He enjoyed the fact that he wasnt the only person here recruited by Arcanas, but Sov really didn't want to get poked for information by everyone else....especially about his family. He realised that he was still wearing all of his (homemade) armor and equipment, he had been so taken away by Arcanas's house that he forgot to ask if he was to stay here.

"Oh, also, I was wondering, am I going to be staying here in a room or...


"You will be staying if you want. As for an Armory you will need to go through a little test first before you can enter. Follow me."

Arcanas puts the ryus on his shoulder down as he left the garden and went up to Umbras room and knocks on the door.


"umm...okay"

Sov was glad to know that he would have someplace to rest his head in the city, but a test?, he was suddenly very suspicious and worried. A test obviously indicated a level of distrust, this was to be expected as he had just meant Arcanas earlier today, however it also implied that there may be more shady things happening here, or some form of secret danger that Sov was unaware of. He mentally readied himself for an attack, but his springer rifle was still disassembled in his trench coat, and he couldn’t just pull the rifle out on a moments notice...

"Might I ask what this..test is for Arcanas?"


Zoe stood outside the mansion keeping away from the big house and people. She stifled a sigh and watched Puddles and Steamer carefully. Why did the new guy seem so strange? Her white fluffy tail flicked as she relaxed in the chilly cold air. This was a very unusual week so far.


Puddles jumped around exploring the area for no apparent reason out of sheer boredom. She walked around slowly observing her scenery. The little ryuu rolled her eyes as Steamer kept close to her acting like a body guard. He was over protective.


"For spirit's sa--" Umbra had just gotten into his nap when a knock came to his door.

"Coming--" he opened the door. Arcanas and some other guy. Oh god. "Who are you? Arca-nas, who is this? Is this another? Please don't tell me it's another. Know what? Nope. Nope nope nope. Come back tomorrow. One person per day. You know that's my limit anyway, right, Arc?"

And Umbra promptly and politely slammed the door in their faces. A clicking sound could be heard, as well as a bolting sound, and perhaps, just maybe, a chair being dragged to the door and being ever so gently propped against it. And then more mysterious sounds that couldn't really be taken for anything save for maybe something out of a cartoon.

"You may NOT come in. I'm sleeping now."

((Umbra's power can only be activated once a day.))



Before Arcanas can say anything Umbra open the door and shoes them away. As the sound of the door locking Arcanas chuckled.

"There's Umbra. He will be testing you tomorrow. I'm not sure how he wil bo it. But I'm sure you will be in. So... lets show you to your room."

Arcanas leads the way and opens a room on the third floor for Sov.


As the door was slammed in his and Arcanas face, Sov thought to himself, That probably could have gone differently...He followed Arcanas up to his room.

"So are there set times to eat?, and what rules are there besides the standard house rules?, also, you never answered me on what the test was for.."

They passed by a window on the way up to the third floor and Sov saw that girl outside, he won-dered why she seemed...familiar...

"Hey Arcanas, who is that sitting outside?"


Zoe sits outside on the ground keeping an eye on Steamer and Puddles. Sov....... His named seemed so familiar. Why did it? She bit her lip and sighed. She looked up as her ryuus chased each other around squeaking almost sounding like giggles. Giggling.... Sov....... her head snapped up.
"Oh ****."
The flashback started



Zoe rushed out of her house running down the steps and down into the woods around 7 AM. She raced on and came to her fort. She grinned. she could see her only friend hiding in the large branches of the sycamore. She laughed and dropped her backpack on the ground and climbed up the tree catching her friends tail. "Gotcha Sov!"


Sov had turned around and laughed pulling Zoe up onto the branch. He sighed and looked around in the branches of the large sycamore. "Are you sure your parents won't care if you are hanging out with me?" He asked concerned.

Zoe smiled. "They won't care. They can never figure out where I am going anyway." She said and looked at the sky. "In a couple years we will be in junior high. Can't you believe it?"

Sov smiled. "Yeah. Life is flying by." He said and laughed checking the tree branches above them as the leaves rustled as a chilly breeze blew. "One teacher is boring enough." He said smiling.

Zoe smiled. "Come on Sov, lets climb up higher into the tree." She said and started climbing up a slender branch giggling as Sov followed after her slender white figure. She laughed and climbed up higher balancing on branches before going up onto another branch with a sweet smile.
Her data scroll went off about 45 minutes later. "Sov. School! We gotta go." She said and slid down the tree looking up as Sov came down after her. She grabbed her backpack and ran after Sov who was running towards their school.

PM Offline
DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 1:55am
About 2 years later. Flashback.


Zoe raced out of her classroom and stopped at her locker her white bangs covering her eyes. She opened her locker, stuffed her homework and supplies in her backpack. she shut her locker grabbing her house key and grabbed Sov who was waiting for her. They ran down to there fort and relaxed. They did there homework together sometimes goofing off.

Around 7PM lost track of time. Her parents came up to the tree seeing Zoe and Sov climbing up the tree. They yelled at her. "Sov go!"she whispered and watched Sov follow her down the tree. "I told you to leave!" She whispered harshly. Sovs parents came up behind him and pulled him away from Zoe.

"Sov!" she screamed and tried to grab back out at him.
"Zoe!" He yelled back as he was dragged away.

Zoe was punished and scolded. she was locked in her house till she was 18. She became home schooled and had to suffer in life with her annoying brothers. She never saw Sov again until now.


Zoe smacked her hands in her face. "Oh My Gosh." She muttered.

Sov was her childhood friend.


Arcanas walked into the room and looked out the window.

"That's Zoe. Wonder why is she outside..."

A red halo formed above Arcanas head as he melts into the darkness and appeared in front of the main gate.

"Hey Zoe. What are you doing out here by yourself?"


Zoe jumped at the sudden sight of Arc. "Huh? Oh.. just getting air." She said quietly. Sov.... really? She looked over at Puddles and steamer who walked up behind Arc and examined him closely.


As a stranger popped out of no where in front of Zoe, Puddles and Steamer padded over and sat down behind him examining him closely.


Sov watched as Arcanas melted into the shadows, Did he just use his power? Sov thought to himself, after a moment of staring at where Arcanas had just been standing Sov decided to get settled in to the room.

"What do you think Mir?"

The Ryuu-neko jumped off of his shoulder and walked around the room a few times before jump up onto the bed and laying down. She looked up at Sov and gave a happy.

"Nya!"

Sov smiled and walked over to the bed. He untangled the facewrap that was on his neck and tossed it onto the bed before taking the goggles off his neck as well and likewise tossing them onto the bed next to Mir. He then reached into his trenchcoat and pulled out the two pieces to his springer rifle, once he snapped them together the spinger rifle was almost as tall as he was, and the three cartridges he was carrying were almost as big as Mir. He placed it all onto the bed before taking the trenchcoat off and tossing it onto the floor, next was his boots and vest, then his belt, and all of the other little things until he was just in his pants and his black undershirt.

"I wonder if they've already had dinner yet, im starving, how 'bout you Mir?"

The Ryuu-neko stretched out her front paws and yawned before responding with a quiet.

"Nya"

Sov crossed his arms and looked around the room, it was a beautiful house, and it sure beat his house out in the desert, well, actually it was more of just a small hole in the ground with a few beams of flowood to keep from caving in. He then stretched and looked out the window at Arcanas and the girl, it was strange how he felt like he knew her, yet he didn’t at the same time...


Ann had a great time of shopping the young dreamkeeper had never really been before and Luna had very interesting choices in clothing to help Ann get a little more creative though some of what Luna suggested Ann had to blush and adamantly refuse to wear but by the end of the day the two had collected a whole new wardrobe for the young jackal/rat who was practically starstruck by all the glorious new clothes. "Really thank you so so much Luna! You were a great help today and I can't thank Arc enough too for the big budget!" Ann ranted happily before the jackal/rat's large ears folded back. "I wounder where Mira has been though. I haven't seen her at all today. . . You don't suppose she left or had some sort of fight with Arc and the scaly dude do ya?"


"Well.. don't stay to long out here ok? It's not safe with that thing around."

Arcanas heard the sound of gravel as he turns to see to ryus behind him. Arcanas crouch down and smiled.

"Hey there. Who might you be?"


Luna chuckled when she heard what Ann said.

"I don't think so. He's with us the whole day and last I heard, Umbra wanted to see her so she stayed behind."


Mira could hear voices echoing down the hallway, her ears perked as she could hear Ann. She got up from her sitting position on the bed and stretched, having not hardly moved for a long amount of time, she was a little stiff.

She straightened herself out, trying to look as nice as possible, or at least not as murderous. For some strange reason she didn't feel like Arcanas was quite as bad, like there were worse things than him nearby. The strange feeling kept her guard up, it was rare a gut feeling was wrong.

Maybe it's still the cocky *******, he's just trying to influence the attention away from him with his power.

Whatever the case, she checked her springer anyways and left it in it's rightful place next to her hip. She opened the door and walked through, shutting it behind her when she left.

She rounded the maze-like corridors for a moment before finding the group at the entrance, just as Ann was asking about her.

"Yeah, Umbra wanted a little 'chat', I wish it was a fight. That man could talk a electric ryuu to sleep. Anyhow, he kept going on and on about chess, so I kinda tuned him out after a while." (funnily enough, Arc luna and Lathena all do the same from time to time, as is evident from earlier)

She glanced at Ann and attempted to make a warm smile. The action of doing so actually made her facial muscles hurt. She was a little perturbed by this. She realized no one had made her smile in earnest for longer than she could remember, and the unused muscles were complaining.

She dryly accepted the irony of working her body to über fitness whilst neglecting possibly the most important factor. It didn't matter, she didn't have to smile at all hours, and she was willing to bear the pain for Ann.

"Looks like you went on quite the spree kiddo. How's the leg?"


Zoe smiled and watched her ryus. "Blue one is Puddles and the red one is Steamer."


Steamer sniffed Arc before looking him up and down. "Nya.."

Puddles squeaked and pushed Steamer with a paw before jumping up and onto Arc climbing up and sitting on his head.


Sov watched Arcanas and the girl for a few seconds before turning around to the bed and looking at Mir.

"Come on, lets go see if we can get something eat."

Mir yawned and stretched before climbing up Sov's arm and onto his shoulder. Sov quickly exited the room and headed down the stairs, as he went down the last flight of steps he saw a little girl and a woman talking, he moved next to the wall and started to quickly walk by them. Please,please,please dont notice me, im hungry and I really dont feel like talking....


Ann smiled brightly upon seeing Mira emerge and ran up to meet her. "Yeah it was amazing! Luna took me to all these amazing places! I didn't know there were so many different types of clothes honestly." Ann gave a hearty smile and tipped a pointy ear apologetically at Mira. "Sorry to hear about that. . . bu please don't fight him he seems like he's just cold around new people. Seems pretty personable around Arc to be sure!" the jackal/rat wiggled a leg and nodded, "Yeah it's fine. . . told you guys it was but thanks again for all the help. . . I was looking forward to shopping with you today though Mira sucks you were held up at the house." Ann pouted and frowned upon seeing Mira's smile. "Hey Mira. . . can we talk in private later?"

A moment later Bas jumped out of the back of Ann's shirt and leaped right atop Sov's head cuddling up against his ears and purring, "B-Bas!" Ann exclaimed and sighed nervously, "So sorry about that. . .Bas likes new people. . . or hates them. . . but he seems to like you!" The young dreamkeeper's hand shot out and a warm smile caressed the jackal/rat's lips. "Name's Ann by the way. And you?"


Sov felt the Ryuu-neko jump on his head and he winced, not from physical pain, but the fact that they had noticed him. Oh spirits, why now? He turned and shook Ann's hand and gave the best smile he could.

Hey Ann, its nice to meet you, im Sov, im new here, but im glad to meet you!"

That wasnt too hard right?, he reached up ontop of his head and gently grabbed the Ryuu-neko before placing it on the ground by Ann's feet.

"Dont worry about it"

He stood back up and his stomach growled, he looked down the hall then back at Ann.

"Hey,uh, any idea when dinner is?, im starving"


Arcanas strokes the head of Puddles as she is sitting on his head and held out his hand to Steamer.

"You got them at the same time? If you want I got a garden full of Ryuus that you can visit."


Luna s outside the hall with Ann when Sov walked past and got Bas attention. When asked about dinner she said "Salad is in the making. It should be done soon."


Mira laughed wryly. It depended heavily on what your definition of 'personable' was. Anyhow, Ann seemed pretty exited and happy. As much as Mira didn't like Arcanas, he seemed to be pretty genuine so far. She then noted something funny. The little jackal/rat was attached to her. It was obvious in how she looked up at her and spoke to her. This only reinforced the maternal feelings Mira had.

"Ahh, I'm not one much for shopping unless it involves some sort of dangerous object." Mira didn't quite like the idea of shopping as a recreational pastime. It seemed like you were just wasting money on things you didn't quite need. But it does have it's uses, as she could tell by Ann's bright expression and happy demeanor.

One man's trash, another man's treasure. Heh.

Then Ann asked for a private conversation. Mira's face took a serious turn.

"After dinner, if there is any. I'll make sure the room isn't bugged." She didn't know if Ann was that concerned about privacy, but when Mira wanted a private conversation, damn it, it was going to be private.

She patted Ann on the shoulder and watched carefully when Ann introduced herself to the other keeper. She eyed him, scanning him like he was a threat. The keeper was used to hardship, and was probably from the desert, due to the slight tan hue his fur had that looked a tad unnatural, it was impossible to get rid of in a desert climate. She looked for weapon bulges that would indicate a concealed weapon, and found none.

Her observation complete, she stopped her eyes roaming. She remained silent, she could tell by his forced demeanor that he wasn't the social type, this backed up her idea that he was from desert.


Are... are they gone? Umbra thought to himself. Okay, so maybe rigging a trap was a bit much, but really, you can never be too sure with Arcanas, especially with how lax he is with his power and whatnot.

It was time to rest. Aside from being very time consuming and making him, in his own way, very powerful...for what could be an eternity (he'd never tested that), upon return, Umbra's power made him very sleepy. It was particularly bad this time. Probably due to everything that reset: wounds, splinters from a table that may or may not have existed, crawling through carcasses and under barbed wire, and a seriously bad punch in the face--not to mention snap-ping a springer and the new "bug" planted in Mira.

All in all, Umbra was ****ed out and so he took off his clothes, hung them up neatly, and crawled into bed.
_______________________________________________________________________________

His dreams were plague ridden. All he could see was the face of that Nightmare as it would attack the girl he had failed to help. He could see her pre-emptively being ripped in two. He could see the insides falling out of her, the screams dying away with the dripping of blood.

And that echoing phrase: Bad Luck. Bad Luck. BAD LUCK.

Why did his dreams torture him so? What was the purpose of this? Why did these memories refuse to go away? Why did this tax so heavily on his conscience?

Why couldn't he wake up?


Sov noticed out of the corner of his eye another woman standing behind Ann, he could tell she was looking him over to see if he was a threat, he quickly did the same before he heard Luna's response. Salad,salad,salad...what was a salad again... He jogged his brain to try and remember what a salad was....salad..salad..salad...oh spirits what was a salad?! It finally clicked and he gave a slightly miss placed.

"Ah-ha!...um, i mean, of course, thank you, I shall head that way and wait for it then."

He gave the most courteous bow he could before turning and continuing down the hall. It was going to be a long night...


Zoe blinked. "Steamer is older than Puddles by 10 Days. I got him secretly, then I got Puddles for my birthday and then I ended up with both of them." She flicked her ears. "Ryuu Garden?" She stood up quickly. "Can I see it?"

Puddles purred as she was petted and glanced at Steamer as he sniffed Arc.

Steamer sniffed Arc and licked his hand before climbing up and sitting on his shoulder.


Luna looked at the way Mira looked at Sov and rolled her eyes. Than just as he excused himself Lathena was out of the kitchen and called for them that the salad was ready.

"Well.... shall we? And Don't worry about bugs. We don't have any in the house. We don't go by that way."

Luna than heads for the stairs and waits for the two.


Arcanas after hearing what Ann said and asking about seeing the garden got up and continues to stroke Puddles on her head while at the same time holding Steamer so he wont slide off his shoulder as he stood up.

"Sure. I hope you will like it."

He than heard Lathenas call.

"Well... seems to me our snack is ready. Do you want a bite before we head for the garden?"

Arcanas unlocks the door and opens it to let Zoe in.

Lathena is now in the dining room with 3 large bowls of salad and a stack of plates and waited for the group to show up.


Zoes stomach growled in agreement. "Yeah. I guess so." She said with a sweet smile and followed Arcanas.


Sov heard Lathenas voice ring down the hall that dinner was ready, and he quickly walked to where the table was, he chose a seat at the corner of the table and sat down, he let Mir crawl onto his lap and watched as she feel alseep. He straightened his back and made sure not to put his elbows on the table. He looked at Lathena.

"Thank you for dinner ma'am, it looks wonderful".

He pulled a small bottle out from his pocket and placed it on the table where one would normally place their drink to go with dinner. He then quietly looked around, waiting for everyone else.


Bas went rather limp as Sov picked him up and blink being entirely unused to being lifted in such a way but upon being set on the ground he was entirely undeterred. With a sharp "Nyaa!" And a smile to Sov Bas stalked low to the ground and began to pursue Sov's tail to the point where he was just about to good naturedly pounce when Ann picked him up and placed his back in his hoodie home where he proceeded to lick the offending jackal/rat's ears making the poor keeper struggle and laugh as a lick to those sensitive ears really freakin' tickled.

Ann chuckled and shooed Bas back down into the hoodie before waving back to Mira with a some-what embarrassed expression, "No, no it doesn't need to be THAT private nothing life or death here I just needed to talk to you about a few things is all. Just some stuff I've noticed. . . and. . . and other things you should know." Ann's golden eyes looked aside sullenly before the jackal/rat mustered a sweet smile. "I'm gonna go eat now if ya want it'd be great if you'd sit by me." The jackal/rat's cheeks flushed with embarrassment as the long rat tail swept the floor and turned back to the tables taking a seat across from Sov.

The youth smiled politely at Sov and nodded, "Great to meet you. I'm kinda new here myself. . . we all kinda are." Ann chuckled and toyed with a fork awkwardly, "Y-you seem tough ya ever seen any fighting?" pointy ear flicked as more questions suddenly clicked in the jackal/rat's mind and a sudden tangent occurred, "Are you like some k-kind of t-t-trained k-killer or something? Is that rude to ask? Oh I'm so sorry! Where are you from anyways? Not like it matters but also not like I don't care! Just that you might not want to say where you're from and you've got a cute neko what's its name? My ryuu's name is Bas he like to protect me from bad people but I think I can trust you cause he does! Was that a bit too forward? I'm so sorry again! Bleh I always do that when I',m nervous asking inappropriate questions and ranting on and on and. . . by the way what's in that bottle? Oh dammit there I go again." Ann then turned to Lathena desperately scortchingly red with shame. "Not to be rude or anything but could you pleeeease just give me some salad so I have something to stuff my mouth with?!"


Cyprus hadn't gotten much from the shopping escpade. In fact he hadonly gotten some pens, a decent datascroll, graph paper, and a small notebook. He had been content to hide out in his room making little doodles of 24 pointed stars, or some other odd geometric monstrosity. However, i f there was ever a way to get to cyprus...it was food.

Running down the stairs of the unbelievably large building they were currently being holed up in made him feel like a little kid again. if only there was some sort of box he could use to speed up the descent...

When his feet fonally hit the bottom floor, he raced into the kitchen, drawn by both noise and the prospect of delicious delectables. He slid to a stop and looked dejectedly upon the bowls of sald Lathena happened to be holding. Not quite what was expected...maybe some steaks, a nice chunk of cooked meat with fruits. but salad?

"This is a major let-down. You got anything else other than salad? some meat maybe?" Cyprus asked as he walked over to a chair and sat down. he wasn't very icky, food was food. but at least it could be delicious and not salad. what if the salad turned out to be a monster and would try to eat him? choking him with it's vegetably evilness? are those croutons or tiny bombs? or it was just a salad. yeah, probably just a salad.


Oh okay. Now Mira was definitely going to check the room for bugs. She had been attempting to make a joke, but it really didn't come off as such.
Ah well... She thought. She followed them into the kitchen, and sat next to Ann as she had requested. She inwardly chuckled at Ann's attempt to relate to the poor desert-dweller. Mira leaned over and mentioned something to Ann,

"Ann, I'm a trained killer. You haven't had a problem with me so far." Mira wondered what that would do to the gears of the poor girl's mind.

She sighed as the annoying one came down the star is and promptly complained about the food. She thought he should quit his *****in' and be happy, salad was better than nutrient sacks. She reached for a plate, not speaking unless she was needed.


Sov quickly uncorked the bottle and took a long swig before looking at Ann and hearing her question.

"Trained killer,me?, haha, spirits no, and its not rude. I actually just live out in the desert by myself, i dont do much other than hunt jumpers and kill the occasional bandit, but im not trained, not like your friend there."

Sov awkwardly watched Ann spill words out in rapid succession, answering only to the ones he could understand.

"Her name is Mir, ive had her for awhile now...oh, the bottle?, its jumper juice, or atleast thats what i call it, i live off of the jumpers out in the desert, their blood has a very high amount of water, and no side effects, so i drink it when i dont have any water...its an acquired taste."

The last part of the sentence was more of a chuckle as he began eating his salad. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair for a moment before looking up at Lathena.

"I hate to ask, but do you happen to have any other chairs?, this one doesnt seem designed for those of us with digigrade legs..."

As another man, and a rather loud one, came down the stairs, Sov watched in sheer interest as he complained about the food. He found the mans complaints misplaced, and quickly came to Lathena's defense.

"Not to sound rude sir, but you really should be grateful that your being fed at all, these people have already gone out of their way to provide us all with shelter, let alone food."


Before Lathena can say anything Arcanas and Zoe just arrived with Luna walking down the stairs.

"The salad is just the starter. I'll go get the main course."

Arcanas walks into the kitchen and came out with a Turkey large enough to feed 8 people and sets it on the table and starts to cut it up and gave everyone a slice before sitting next to Lathena as Luna just arrived and sat next to Anns other side.

As Arcanas ate he cut some small slice of turkey and fed it to Puddles and Steamer.


"Let my derision not be misunderstood sire!" Cyprus said as he turned to the newcomer. His name: Unknown.

"I do in fact enjoy that I am being fed and have..different shelter then what I am used to. But! If i had the option between salad and the now rather scrumptious turkey sitting in front of us all...I'm going for the turkey. Not a vegetable guy myself."

With that whole thing done, he finally, if not begrudgingly, started eating his salad before eating his turkey. His mom raised him right, eat your greens and blues and reds first...then eat the delicious meat. I sense animosity is directed towards me from Fluffy and Unknown. Though he did agree with Unknown that these chairs were'n exactly directed to those who were digitigrade, he managed to work with it. Complain about one thing, but not the whole shebang.


Zoe looked at the food with awe. She sat down next to Sov and glanced at him quickly before taking a small bite of her salad. Just thinking about her past with Sov made her loose her appitite. She had not seen him for at least 8 years. That was an odd moment that ran through her body. She glanced down at her feet and Puddles and Steamer curled up behind them. She glanced at Sov again before taking another bite.


Sov eyed the food with amazement, he politely took his plate from Arcanas before beginning to eat the turkey.

"Wow, you live out in the desert eating jumpers for all your meals, and you forget what real food tastes like!"

After a few mouthfuls he noticed that the girl that seemed familiar to him sat down next to him. Out of the corner of his eye he kept noticing her peeking over at him, he quietly ate his food while looking at her out of the corner of his eye. Why did she seem so familiar?, he wanted to say he knew her, but he didnt know her...did he? After a few more moments of eating he slowly moved his tail around the back of his chair and as un-awkardly as he could he poked the girl in the side of her leg to get her attention. He then whispered as quietly as he could to her.

"Hey,umm...whats your name ma'am?"


Zoe flinched as her leg was touched. Oh gods... she looked at him. "My name is Zoe." She whispered quietly before turning away shyly and taking another bite of her salad. This was a really awkward moment for her.


Sov felt her flinch when he touched her leg. He muttered a quiet.

"Sorry"

Sov stuck another piece of turkey on his fork and was moving it towards his mouth when he heard her say her name. He froze, his mouth wide open, he stayed like this for what seemed like an enternity before he finally placed the food back on his plate, he looked at Zoe.

"Z-Zoe...Zoe Coalmann...?"

It all suddenly clicked, the memories, them sitting in the tree after school days, their friendship, she was the only friend he had ever had. But she just said her name was Zoe, she never said her last name was Coalmann, it was probably just someone else named Zoe...right?


Life. Was. Boring. Boring, tedious, exasperating and so much more. Here he was, slouched down on his black leather couch, feet up on the empty mug-ridden coffee table in his comfortable, completely not out-of-the-ordinary two floor home…and Soren hated it. He felt like such a lazy twat living like this. There was only so much he could do in one day and he had already been out for a run. Maybe two wouldn't do much harm. Then again, if he did that he wouldn't want to go for a night out and have a few pints of fermentae with a few of his mates.

And he really wanted to do that.

There was also the option of getting a ryuu-neko to look after. They were cute, fluffy and all-round great little guys to look after. He’d never really thought of that, despite the countless number of times he had passed people in the street who had them bounding along beside their legs or bur-rowed in their coat pockets. Soren really regretted that now.

Glancing out of the window, the wolf took the time to contemplate the world whilst he was envel-oped in a shroud of silence, a shroud only permeated every so often by the jovial shouts of children playing outside. It all seemed so perfect at the moment, but there were things far more sinister going on out of the public eye. They were things that he himself had been tasked to research into. If he so much as uttered a word about it to anyone outside the government, then he’d be dead quicker than he could even muster any sort of defence.

Soren had to admit that he would love that sort of excitement. It was one of the reasons why he joined the Public Protection Section 9 group. Well…he was kind of forced to join, but he would have accepted if he had the choice anyway. The former geologist swung his legs off of the small coffee table. There were a couple of loud clinks and clangs of a few mugs being swept onto the floor accidentally. He decided to just ignore it and leave there; it wasn’t like anyone was going to come in. Besides, he had an idea. It was slightly crazy, but he liked crazy.

Being the researcher and scientist for the PPS9 came with some benefits: he knew where to look for information – reliable information at that – and wasn't too shabby at following leads either. The attack on their HQ 2 years ago had split everyone up. They went their own ways and started new lives. Soren had tracked down one certain person, though he just didn't think it was ever the right time to dive head-first into that person’s life again. Now that there were suspicious deaths around the city, however…it was definitely the right time.

He still needed that 15 lucre back. Arcanas wasn't going to get out if this time. No. Bloody. Way.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Soren ran a hand through his black hair and ruffled it up a little as he trudged through the snow with nought but his PPS9 dog-tag and his datascroll full of music. It was quite late at the moment and a dark hue began to bathe his surroundings. He quickened his pace. He had to get there pretty sharpish if he didn’t want to have to turn back and go home.

Thankfully, his information didn't let him down. There it was just a hundred or so metres away: the mansion on the beach. The mansion itself seemed to just be shouting out that it was owned by Arcanas; it was definitely the person he had known all those years ago, there was no doubt about it.

The lights were still on which was a good sign. Now he knew that at least someone was inside. Soren pulled the dog-tag out of his trouser pocket and sauntered over to the front door without much hesitation. He stood for a few seconds and then rapped the door a few times before stepping back and awaiting an answer. He hoped they were quick, as the cold was really starting to nip at his ears and nose.


As Dinner progressed small talks are started among them. As the conversation went on there was a knocked on the door.

"Luci dear. Can you get that?"

The Dark ryu got up and walked towards the door and opens it and looks at the person and sat in front of him to block him from entering the house.

"Mur?"


Soren glanced down at the watch on his right wrist. Maybe he should have just left it until tomorrow or something. Then again, he would have been out drinking tonight if he hadn't de-cided to come over here. Although...he'd probably end up drinking here, too. Ah well; Arca-nas was sure to have a fine selection of fermentae. Speaking of Arcanas, he was taking a while to answer the...the...
SilverPredatorWolf wrote:"Mur?"


"Oh, bollocks!"

Soren's body flung itself backward and seemed to want to bury itself in the snow. He swore he had never shouted that loud in his life. What the hell was that thing sitting in the door-way!? He didn't care that melted snow was dripping down his back or anything like that...he just wanted the oversized pile of fur and teeth to disappear from his sight! If Arc knew about this then Soren wasn't going to be happy.


Arcanas heard some noise outside and got up and Luci moved away from the door. He steps out and smiled.

"Ah.. Sor. What are you doing here at this time of the night?"


"Do you know how illegal that is?!" Soren sat up and splayed his arms out as if to ask what the hell was going on. That was a dark ryuu-neko and an oversized one at that. Way over regulation limits! He had to wonder just what other surprises were in store for him when he stepped inside... "What if it was the police knocking on your door? You'd be arrested in the blink of an eye."

Soren could only sigh and let his arms drop limply down by his side in disapproval. He hesitated for a few moments but eventually picked himself up off of the snowy ground and stepped towards Arc; he'd have to have a little chat with him about that incident at a later point. That wasn't what he came for, though.

"You're not in the middle of something at the moment are you?" The noise of his voice had lowered considerably; it was a much softer, friendlier tone.


Mira was just fine eating the salad and the turkey that had been provided. She ate quietly, not talking much unless Ann asked her something. She began to relax when she heard a knock at the door. She ignored it, but then someone shouted. Loudly.

Without a second thought she sprang up from the table and unholstered her springer pistol, she quickly walked to where Arc and the damned giant Neko were standing. She stopped when she saw someone at the door, the one who had obviously shouted. She held the springer pistol pointed at the ground and said,
"Another guest Arc?" She wasn't quite thrilled at how the day had gone. And the fact that Arcanas was willing to expose everyone to illegal things on a routine basis, things that could get them all locked away for many years, was starting to get on her nerves.

She addressed Arcanas, running off of what she had heard the man say,
"Are you trying to get us all arrested? God knows what you did while you went on your 'shopping' trip."

She then holstered her springer,
"If it wasn't for your generosity to Ann, and her misplaced trust in you, I would be walking out of here with less ammo than I came in with. Now who the hell is this?"


"They don't come here without a reason. After all, they tend to make too much noise as they arrive. Why don't you come on in?"

As Arcanas steps aside to let Soren in Mira starts question who he is.

"Someone I know. He can be trusted."

Arcanas than closes the door.

"So.. would you like to join us for dinner? We just got started."


Soren tilted his head to the side a little and buried his hands into his coat pockets. Who was this woman? A friend? An acquaintance? He looked over her for a second or two. She had a springer and looked pretty damn angry with Arc, so on second thoughts she probably wasn't a friend. Not at all. It was at that point that Soren had a great idea: he should try and keep in her good books. That was, unless he wanted to have his face look like swiss cheese...or something.

Rather reluctantly, Soren stepped inside and ruffled his hair a little more to get rid of the excess powdered snow.

"Dinner? No thanks. Already had something. Do you have any fermentae, though? Cherry?" The wolf unbuttoned his coat and threw it on a nearby hanger, carefully observing his new surroundings. "Still as extravagant as ever." He remarked offhandedly and glanced toward the woman again; he really wanted to know why she was here...Maybe it sounded weird but he was the sort of person who like knowing everything he could. He offered her a quick smile in an attempt to give off some peaceful vibes.

"Name's Soren Kjær but...Soren's good. Sorry if I'm interrupting anything important." Soren held out a friendly hand for her to shake.


Zoe looked at Sov with wide eyes. "Yeah. I am Zoe Coalmann. Nice to see you again Sov." She said with a soft smile before taking another bite and looking back at him.l She flicked her tail and felt Puddles wrestle it to he ground. "I have not seen you in 8 years." She admitted hesitantly.


Sov blinked a few times before everything clicked. His tail slowly swept the floor behind him in thought. After a few seconds he answered her.

"To be honest, if we werent sitting down at a dinner table and eating I would probably hug you right now".

8 years. 8 Spirits forsaken years since he had seen her. He opened his mouth to say something then closed it quickly. Not yet...maybe later. He then continued eating his food for a moment before looking back at Zoe.

"Hey, if you want, after dinner we could catch up...its been awhile...might be nice to talk again."

This day just got even more...interesting...He thought to himself quietly while he ate, ignoring the on going ruckus at the doorway.


Zoe smiled at Sov. "Same here." She said happily. It had been 8 years. Why the hell did this have to happen now? She glanced at him with a small smile. She turned her head downwards to look at Puddles.

Puddles was nomming on the tip of Zoe's tail wrapping her small blue body around the big fluffy white tail. Zoe pulled her tail away from Puddles feeling her romp around trying to find it. She found it again and latched onto it.

She flicked her white fox ears. "Yeah. We can talk for a while. It has been a long time since I last saw you." She said quietly looking down at her half-eaten salad. She took another bite before hesitantly glancing at Sov before looking back down at Puddles who continued to try to eat Zoe's tail.


Arcanas trusted him? Reason number one not for her to trust him. The keeper seemed reasonable enough, but Mira had her doubts. She watched him like a predator as he stepped into the house, eyeing him for any signs in his manner of walking or acting that would display something out of the ordinary, like a weapon or some kind of injury that could attest to a combat oriented history.

Finding no such evidence, she warily took the man's hand and gave him the oldest trick in the book, the 'death grip'. If the man could take it without wincing, then she would keep an eye on him. If he flinched, he was most likely not going to be a threat.

"Sergeant Mira West. We were just having dinner like Arcanas said, I was just finishing when you arrived."

She tried to sound peaceful, when in truth, she really just wanted to hurt someone..


Sov gave a shy smile and ate another bite of his turkey before his ear twitched and he nervously looked at Zoe.

"Its been too long..i missed you.."

His face turned red to where it was viewable through his fur. His ear twitched again and he placed a hand on the back of his neck and rubbed it nervously.

"I uh..i mean..in a friendly way of course..not trying to..you know."

He awkwardly smiled and then turned back to eating, his tail swishing back and forth behind him.
He finally looked over his shoulder at the doorway to watch what was happening, trying to take his mind off the awkward situation he had set himself into with Zoe.


Zoe smiled and kept herself contained and not to just reach out and hug Sov tightly. She needed to keep her manners. She was eating. She turned to look at him with a smile. He was blushing. "I un-derstand Sov." She took a bite of her turkey. "And I missed you to." She said warily unsure of his reaction.



This was a VERY weird day today.


So she missed him too, that was good. Sov watched the group of people at the door for a few more seconds before he managed to emotionally regain control of himself. He turned back to zoe.

"So i see you've got two new friends, what're their names?"

He removed his hand from his neck, taking a quiet and deep breath. Why is talking to girls so difficult sometimes? He thought to himself before he continued eating, his ears twitching backwards every so often, catching parts of the conversation at the door.


For a second Soren thought she was going to reject the handshake. It was clear that she didn't trust him, but, honestly, she couldn't be blamed for it. After all, it looked like she didn't really trust Arc, yet Arc trusted Soren...It was only ever going to end up one way. He just had to hope that over time he'd be able to prove himself as a very nonchalant guy.

Thankfully, the handshake did come. Only in the form of an iron grip, though; he was taken aback by the strength of the shake. In fact, it actually kind of hurt...Soren made the best of it nonetheless.

"Yeah, I never could get used to that sort of formal military stuff." He smiled a little and closed and opened his hand a few times to try and get rid of the strain. "You could say I'm a bit too informal at times." Soren shrugged and walked forward a few steps past Mira but turned to face her again. "Nice to meet anyway, Sergeant." The ex-researcher nodded and then flashed a brief two-fingered salute.

"Who are you having dinner with, by the way?"


Zoe winced as Puddles and Steamer both climbed up and sat on her head squashing her ears. They looked at Sov and Steamer narrowed his eyes. He checked on Puddles before jumping onto Sovs head and sniffed him flicking his tail before watching Puddles sit on Zoes head and look at Sov.

Zoe smiled. "The one on my head is Puddles, and the one on your head is Steamer." She introduced her two ryus as Steamer examined Sov with narrowed eyes.


Sov was accustomed to having a Ryuu-neko jump ontop of his head. He smiled when steamer jumped on his head and he scratched the Ryuu-neko gently between the ears.

"You always seem to make the most interesting friends. Speaking of which, i dont know if you've met-"

Sov looked down at his lap to find Mir gone, he quickly looked around the dinner table before his eyes halted on his salad bowl.

"That salad seems a little too hairy."

He chuckled and reached forward and moved the bowl closer to him, after a few seconds the salad moved and Mir stood up from where she had been sleeping in the middle of it. Sov laughed before picking her up and placing her on Zoe's lap

"Her name is Mir, shes a bit shy but shes sweet."

The green ryuu-neko stretched and yawned before curling up in Zoe's lap and falling asleep.

"Yeah, she...sleeps alot too."


Zoe smiled and rubbed Mir behind the ears and watched as Steamer actually purred for once in his life. "He likes you." She murmured smiling. She watched her fire ryus purr and lie down on Sovs head smiling.


Sov smiled as he continued to gently pet the Ryuu-neko's.

"Yeah, I seem to put animals in a good mood, not sure why.."

Mir stirred in Zoe's lap and gave a quiet yawn before falling asleep again.
After a few moments of still petting the Ryuu's Sov moved them back onto Zoe's lap and stood up, he grabbed his plate and held out his hand towards Zoe's plate.

"Here, let me get that for you."


Zoe smiled and handed him her plate. "Thanks Sov." She waited to get up as Puddles and Steamer crawled onto her head and nestled in between her ears. She cradled Mir in her arms and stood up quietly and waited for Sov.


Mira smirked after the handshake ended. He was tough, but wasn't the sort to be in frontline com-bat. If he proved to be a problem, he could be easily dispatched. She tried to piece together more of the man's psyche, but decided to let him explain himself later on. Popping back into the dining room fairly quickly, she said,
"Ill be in the room if you need me."
She didn't want to say "My room." because that could give the impression that she had accepted where she was, which she hadn't.

Remembering Luna's comment from before, the minute she got into the room she grabbed the electric blue dogtag around her neck and clicked it once. Speaking her name as a confirmation she then said,
"Emit jamming signal. This would gum up any electronic devices within a 20 foot radius. It was easily enough countered, if you were in the correct time period, which they weren't. She sat on the bed and decided to take a moment to clean her gun, feeling a strange sense of Deja-vu as she did so.


With the introduction completed and Mira retiring to her room Arcanas signals Soren to follow him as he leads him down the stairs and into the basement. Arcanas heads towards a large door and took a coat hanging by the hanger and gave it to Soren.

"You might want to put it on. It's freezing inside."

Arcanas than opens the door which turns out to be a giant chiller room stack 3 levels high filled with Fermentae of various taste. Arcanas is use to the room being below freezing as he had covered his entire body in snow as an endurance test.

"So which type do you prefer? Young has a lighter taste compared to the older ones."


Back in the dining room Luna and Lathena were watching the two potential lovebirds and Luna sig-nalled to Lathena.

"Well if you two want I can shift you guys to a bed room with two beds. Or do you prefer a single queen size bed?"


Sov grabbed Zoe's plate and gave her a friendly smile.

"Not a problem"

He then walked over to the kitchen and stacked their dishes before heading back to the table and sitting back down. He was drinking from his metal bottle when he heard what Luna said. He froze in place with the bottle right at his lips. He suddenly felt really hot and his throat was dry.

"Umm, i mean, i dont know if-"

He quickly began drinking again and averted a glance at Zoe, he would much rather she make the decision. He continued drinking from the bottle


Without so much as a doubt in his mind, Soren waited for Arcanas to take the lead and followed him swiftly down into the basement. He really had no idea where Arc was getting all of this money from, but then again the work they did for the PSS9 payed pretty damn well. Soren just didn't like drawing too much attention to himself, so he tried to blend in with normal society as well as possible. He couldn't exactly say that for Arc...

Donning the large coat given to him he waited patiently for Arc to open the door. As soon as they entered the fermentae-rich chiller room all of that thought about how all this was here left Soren's mind entirely. It was heaven in here! Well, other than the fact it was freezing cold. That was never nice. Maybe there was something exotic to try.

"If you've got any flavours that are rarer than usual that'd be bloody amazing." He hesitated for a moment as he simply tried taking in the scale of it all. Some of this stuff must have been here for years upon years. "Oh, and I'd prefer a younger one please. That'd be the icing on the cake. I don't want to get drunk." Soren smiled and crossed his arms as his gaze swept over the stacks of fermentae again.

"Who does that Sergeant Mira West work for, Arc? She doesn't look too pleased with you. Or me being here, for that matter."


Soon after Mira left Ann cleaned up as well and made to the room where she had headed in order to have that private conversation Mira had promised. Before Ann left however, the jackal/rat stopped for a moment to examine Zoe and Sov. Especially noting how flustered Sov was and chuckled slightly. The whole scene was absolutely adorable and a part of Ann wanted to wait and see how it turned out but the young keeper knew better than to keep Mira waiting after asking her for a private conversation. Ann shivered at the though of making Mira wait, it may end painfully. . . not with physical hits mind you, Ann knew that Mira wouldn't hit her young friend so easily, not as easily as Arc or Umbra at least. The jackal/rat decided that during this conversation they would also need to talk about Mira's trust issues with their hosts as well.

After shaking off the moment Ann smiled and graciously thanked the hosts before heading back to the room and knocking for Mira before nervously easing into the room. "M-Mira? Is it okay to have that talk here now? I-I could come back later or. . . I just. . . . I wanna know what you meant last night when you were saying you had lived on the street and something happened to you?" Ann swallowed deeply. A swallow that actually hurt the jackal/rat's throat, poor Ann was so nervous as the keeper flopped down on the side of the bed next to Mira and sighed. "I-I_I r-really d-d-d-don't mean t-t-to pry. But. . . a-and really you don't have to tell me if you don't want to it's just. . . .You're so strong." Ann's head shook from side to side as tears began to well up in the jackal/rat's golden eyes. "A-And I suspect. That maybe something happened to y-you like to me. . . and I was just wondering how you could be so strong afterwords. . . I-I-I . . . I was raped. And I was so scared. And so powerless. And I've always felt that way ever since. . . " Ann held back the tears . . . Mira was strong. So Ann had to try to be as well.


Mira smiled at Ann nervousness, the poor girl needed la sedative it seemed most of the time. She was just reassembling her pistol Ann made her way into the room. Setting the weapon aside, she gestured at her dogtag,

"Don't worry, it's alright, nobody will hear us. It's perfectly okay." She was being extra reassuring, as Ann seemed particularly nervous this time. She took a spot next to the bed and felt a surge of maternal happiness when Ann sat next to her. Then she patiently waited, her tail swishing slightly until Ann finally stopped stammering and got to her point. The swishing tail stopped immediately.

"This isn't a happy story Ann. I've spent half my life coping with it and it still bugs me even today. I had to have someone after the fact tell me I was worth something, and those who told me otherwise belonged at the business end of a springer." She got up, feeling yet another flash of Deja-vu.

Again dammit! What is wrong with me?

She ignored it, and started to speak slowly. She was planning to disclose more than she had with Umbra (game rules and all, she held back as much as she could to spite him) even if she didn't re-member the game.

"I was a few years younger than you. I think I was 15, my father was out of the house when I was really young, not his fault, but he just had to leave. And when I turned 13, my mother died of a bad case on pneumonia." She stopped, remembering her mother for a moment, then swallowed and continued.

"My mom wasn't prepared, she fully expected to recover, so she hadn't had a chance to write out her will yet. When.. She died, her family took control of all the funds. All I was was the disappointing child of my mother and a freeloader traveler. They cut me out. Out of, everything. I was tossed aside like a used rag."

Her fists clenched. She had gotten her revenge. Oh it was years later, but it happened. Unclenching, she continued.

"I was like you, begging for food, trying to hold a steady job, making my way unnoticed. Then as I was enjoying a particularly large piece of bread, a kind baker lived down a few blocks from where I slept. Some men just waked up to where I was sitting. They explained to me that there was no reason to be on the streets, that they could offer me a job.. A paying job. I was only 15, I was excited!

The job was supposed to be a housecleaner, 'maid' as they put it, to some two-bit hotel. It was still a noter place than anywhere I could remember sleeping in for the last few years. I showed up in my best clothes I could find, and they said I could start immediately. They showed me the room, and said they would 'show' me how to clean it. I eagerly agreed and rushed into that room, that damn room.."

Mira kept her face away from Ann, not letting the wetness show from her eyes.

"One of them, I couldn't tell which, grabbed me from behind, and handcuffed me to the bed. I screamed and yelled, but they only laughed. They did each of my legs to the four posts, and tore off my clothes, my only remainder of my last life, and left the room, leaving me to myself."

She steeled herself wiping away her tears. Then she looked at Ann,

"This hotel was a woman trafficking service. You paid for a certain amount of time, and you got it. I spent three years as their best product, 'fluffy' they called me. I wouldn't get pregnant, oh no, they couldn't have that. But they were so cheap, that instead of the pill, they had a kid, he couldn't have been much younger than you, who had a power that messed with hormones. I don't know his story, I don't blame him for what happened, but he kept all the girls from getting knocked up."

Mira felt a pang of sympathy for the poor boy, she wondered if he had ever gotten out of that place, she hoped he had.

"He was being blackmailed or threatened by one of the workers, I didn't know their names, so he had to help them with whatever they said. One day, a client paid for a full week straight. He never seemed to stop, but when his time was finally up, he was ushered out and the bot was quickly brought in. I-I couldn't remember much, but the kid used his power, and his handler insisted that he use extra. There was an argument, some fighting, then the kid leaned down and whispered in my ear, 'I'm so so sorry...'."

Mira simply stopped for a moment, breathing shallow breaths,

"He was forced too hard, I only learned later that I was.. Sterile, after a physical at the merc compa-ny. After he left, I was alone for a long time, maybe they wanted me rested up nice and good for the next time, I wasn't sure. But as I remembered all the things that had happened to me, I got mad. Madder than I had ever been, I wasn't scared anymore, I just wanted it to end. That was when my power came in... I can, dissolve things, not quite sure how it works, never got through chem at the school. But it was burning with full force.

The man came in and noticed my halo straight away, he tried backing out, but I focused all me anger and hate onto him, the room, the handcuffs, the world... He screamed, and I watched his head turn to a nondescript mass right before my eyes. I didn't care. My handcuffs broke free, and I shakily stood, still weak from the previous problems. I wondered why noone had tried to see what was wrong. As I almost got to the door, another man, one I didn't recognize, burst through the door. He got the same treatment the other one did.

I stepped out into the hallway, dazed at the light, and realized there were loud noises going off. Somebody grabbed my arm, and I just gave up, thinking that tis was it. I was done..."

Mira sighed, wet fur around her eyes being one of the only shows of emotion.

"There was this hit ordered on the facility... That's what I realized when I came to. Mercer's mercs. Ah, i was never so happy to see another set of males in my life. I was taken care of by a particular guy named John 'happy' Goodwin. He was the one who nursed me back to functionality, and the moment I could, I signed up for mercenary work."

Mira wiped the wet fur off her eyes and sat down next to Ann,

"I know you may feel worthless, that your only purpose in life is to serve. But remember something, anything, if you take away from my experiences. Never, ever let anyone tell you that they control you. Ever. I stay strong because I learned that the world won't give you **** if you beat the hell out of them first. I got command, got promoted, and I've tracked down every single one of the sunova*****es who used me in the three years. I killed them all. I enjoyed their pain, it was just a small taste of what I had to go though."

She then stood again, stiffly.

"I don't want to scare you Ann, whatever problem you have, please talk to me. I want to be to you like happy was to me, a friend, someone you can always fall back on. Someone who won't abandon you."


Arcanas by now is up on the ladder searching for the fermentae of Sorens choice and at the same time answered his question.

"She works for a mercenary group called Mercers Mercs. In layman's terms. She's a hired gun. Which means she can turn on us anytime or if her boss tells her to. Which makes her a bigger risk than a civilian with a gun. As for why she is not too please with me or you showing up is because she does not know anything about us. Cant say I blame her. A stranger you just met invites you to stay at his house and being so nice is to good to be true. The bad thing is this is how I am. She's also being very protective of the one called Ann and threatens to kill me if I were to do anything to harm her."

Arcanas found a bottle that's 3 years and pulled it out and climbed down. He holds the label to face Soren.

"Kiwi and Strawberries. The more exotic ones are 8 years and above. Hope you don't mind."

Arcanas than puts the bottle on the table and opens a glass cabinet and took out two crystal wine glass and cleans them before placing them on the table and waits for Soren.


Luna and Lathena in the mean time waits for Zoes answer.


"Kiwis and strawberries sounds heartwarming. Nice choice." Soren nodded once in agreement, but his mind quickly wandered to what Arcanas had said before that.

Mira was with a mercenary group...What was Arc doing letting her into his home? Either it was an act of stupidity or he did actually have a good reason or two for it. Soren frowned slightly and watched as the fermentae was opened. Knowing that she was a mercenary really didn't make a difference to how he would've approached her anyway. Right from the get-go he saw that she was carrying a weapon; it would be foolish to be in a lax state of mind around her.

"Hey, do you mind if we go upstairs? It's, er...pretty cold down here." Soren glanced over his shoul-der to the door and then back up to Arcanas. "It'll be a better atmosphere up there than down here, I bet. And..." Soren trailed off and looked to the side. "...who's Ann? Is she close to Mira or something?" He had so many questions that he wanted answered. If he had the chance then he'd have to go and have a chat with everyone himself. It really was quite difficult to satisfy his curiosity.


Tears pored from Ann's golden eyes as the young keeper listened to Mira's story it was just horrifying and completely heart breaking in actually Ann's story was near nothing in comparison and the jackal/rat actually thought a moment if the embarrassing tale was worth telling to someone who had experienced so much. A moment later however Ann stood up from the bed and embraced Mira tightly, completely tossing aside any and all sky habits that the keeper had once exhibited in a moment of true compassion and sympathy. "I'm so sorry Mira. . . really. I'm so very sorryI knew your story would be bad but. . . I'm sorry." Ann's embrace tightened and relented quickly as the jackal/rat stood back.

"Happy seems like a great guy. Do you still keep in contact with him?" Ann asked brushing aside the tears and offering a nervous smile. "I will always remember your lesson though Mira. I'll be more my own keeper from now on . . . I don't think I could ever be as badass as you of course but you understand." The jackal/rat chuckled wryly and nodded slowly."As for my story well, it goes a bit like this. . ." Ann then recounted the story of the night the attack occurred and detailed everything as well as possible, though choking up at certain points and needing to take a minute or two of breaks just to focus on breathing again, strangely though, by the end of it Ann was feeling better, strangely unburdened by the simple act of finally telling someone. "Doesn't really hold a candle to your story I know but that's what happened to me. My attacker is still out there. In fact I saw him recently but I have no idea where Ricky is now but really I don't care. . . I'm just glad to have someone to rely on now." Ann smiled and nodded thankfully.

"Speaking of which. . . you really should try to get along better with Arc and Umbra you know they are our hosts and have given us really way too much asking for nothing in return. Arc is a regular philanthropist in my opinion."


Mira was shocked at the moment at the display of affection, but soon returned the compassionate hug from Ann. She wished it had kept going, but prudence said it should be over with soon.

"Its okay Ann, this happened over half my life ago, and no matter how bad it was, I'm still here. I won. And I was able to move on."

She was a little surprised at the question, she chuckled and cocked an eyebrow,
"Yeah? I do keep in contact with him, I outrank him now. Heh, he wasn't thrilled at that, but I got him used to it."

She was glad that Ann had decided to take away a good idea from her troubles, maybe it would lead her to be a more confident individual. She remained quiet when Ann told her tale, and felt sad for the poor girl, she really couldn't be over it yet, she was still only a possible couple of years from the event! Mira remembered how much of a wreck she was before she joined the mercs, Ann was a braver soul than her on that aspect.

"Im so sorry Ann, and you recently saw him?" She tried to rack up the name of the gang that she had mentioned. It didn't ring any bells, but she could tell that they probably weren't anything big if the leader was willing to go and participate in a petty robbery. It made Mira's blood boil thinking about what he did, it wasn't even the detached use of a client, but a way of revenge on a poor girl, sucked into something she couldn't control.

Mira now had a new person she had to add to the list of 'hate'.

"Don't worry, I'm here for ya." She then wrinkled her nose at the mention of Arc and Umbra,
"I don't mind the lizard much, slimy he may be, but at least he isn't openly cocky and displays some sort of sense. Arcanas... *grr* He rubs me the wrong way, I could almost believe he would be a nice guy if he didn't have that arrogant ****-eating attitude all the time."

She really wondered what Arcanas was playing at, the rooms, the shopping, and yet nothing was going on. It was like he was having guests over for some event that nobody but him knew.

"Not to mention, how does someone who's profession is training snipers, get enough money to buy all this? it just doesn't add up! Until he shows his hand, I'm not going to trust him."


Zoe watched Sov with careful eyes before quickly standing right up still cradling Mir. Her face went red and she bent down to hide it. She checked on Steamer and Puddles for a small distraction. "I don't really think we need a queen-size bed." She murmured. Then raised her head again. "I haven't seen him in 8 years and we aren't to that stage yet." She added quickly and quietly.

"We aren't even dating." She added with a small blush before dropping her head to watch Mir sleep.

PM Offline
DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 2:04am
Sov realised he had been holding his breath when Zoe answered. he quietly exhaled and took a deep breath. Then looked at Zoe quickly before turning his attention to Luna and Lathena.

"Yeah, i mean, were just friends...is all..a room with two beds would be nice..but uh.."

He gave a nervous laugh before placing his hand on his neck and looking away from everyone at the stack of dishes in the kitchen. Dating..huh, now that he thought about it...Sov had never been in a real romantic relationship before...


When Soren asked to go up to the dining area due to how cold it is Arcanas agreed and as he took the glass and bottle Soren aske him about Ann.

"She's close to her and much easier to talk to. Can introduce you to her if you want."

Arcanas steps out of the chiller and waits for Soren.


Dining room

"Oh? Single room and double beds? Confirmed?"

Asked Lathena as she grinned.


Miras room

As the two talked a female voice responsed.

"Can't say I blame you. He's the sort of person who can make almost anyone extremely uncomfortable just by being himself. He's difficult to read as the reason why not many people trust him. But than again he was trained to be that way due to his past job requirements."


Soren gladly followed Arcanas out of the chiller and into the much, much more cosy room on the other side of the door. Granted, it was still cold, but compared to in there? It was like a fire was roaring in the corner of the room. Absolute bliss. Almost.

"Yeah, it'd be nice to get to know everyone, but if Mira's there then it could be, Er...a bit awkward." Soren rubbed the back of his neck and glanced briefly off to the side then to Arc again. He shrugged. "I can talk to them both, though."


Zoe rubbed Puddles behind the ears as Puddles sat on her shoulder. "That works I guess." She said quietly before looking up again. "So...? You gunna take us to the room?" She inquired softl before rubbing Puddles again."


Ann smiled at Mira, "I'm glad to hear you keep in contact he seems like a good influence on you. And I'm sure he doesn't mind falling behind in the ranks to you it was just a matter of time with how badass you are." Ann chuckled before the jackal/rats ears folded bacj at Mira's next question. "Yeah I say him vey recently, he's got some new scars but he seems to be really building the gang up. There was a. . . a scuffle last time I saw him and I lost him in the confusion but he wants me dead thats for certain that or. . . well worse." Ann shivered. "It's okay Mira at least I ended up better than that poor security guard. I still see Toth sometimes, send him flowers and some money when I can anything to try and make up for my role in his blindness. Still haven't spoken to him face to face though could never work up the courage."

"True its definately a little suspicious about Arc but I dunno I get the feeling we can trust him I mean he hasnt done anything to us yet. And. . ." Ann then jumped sky high with eyes wide, ears at attention, and tail straight out with a welp of surprise hearing the other voice. "Wh-who's that when did you get here?!"


Mira was happy that Ann looked up to her, as much as she was a screwy role model, she still had the natural pride of having someone younger than her look up to her.

"I had to make him run quite a few laps before he started to take me seriously." She chuckled slightly. She listened intently while she described her recent encounter.
Mira decided that the next time she was in contact with the company, she would ask Happy to run a check on Arcanas, Luna, Lathena, Umbra, and Ricky. She wanted to know how Arc got all his money, and what relationship they all had to each other. And Ricky? Well, he was just a punk kid, she wanted to now where he was to teach him a lesson. But that all had to wait.

Mira smiled again, the cheerful nature of Ann's repayment to the security guard letting a nice warm feeling blossom in here. She didn't notice Luna come in. Her smile vanished immediately she she stood with a hand on her springer.

"You know. A private conversation happens to have an emphasis on the word private "

Mira figured that Arcanas had been annoyed that any monitoring devices had been disabled, and so had sent his #2 to go eavesdrop

"Oh yes, some job involving a lotta stress at the stock office I'm sure.." She remarked sarcastically.


As Arcanas closed the door and Soren asked about talking to Mira and Ann, Arcanas took the coat from Soren and hangs it.

"Best to wait till morning. Lesser chance of her shooting you as Umbra just gave her a test today and I rather not take the chance. But for now, time to catch up with the other two upstairs."

Arcanas leads Soren out of the basement and to the dining room.


Dining room

"Alright than you two go pack your stuff and Luna here will lead you to the room."

Luna got up and waits for the two love birds.


Miras room

The voice chuckled when she heard Miras comment.

"If your thinking he sent me up here you are wrong. He does not know that I came back from my trip earlier than expected."

The darkness started to move towards the chair at the corner of the room and starts to take shape. Once it's done the darkness parts to show a young female with an hourglass figure, long flowing white hair till her waist with purple strands, left eye green, right eye purple and wearing a night dress with a very low neck line and a right leg cut nearing her waist and a black halo above her head. But the thing that stands out the most is her face.

It's as if Arcanas has a sex change and is now the female sitting in the room with Ann and Mira.


Sov gently took Mir from Zoe before he looked at Luna and Lathena. He gave them a slight nod be-fore turning his attention to Zoe and giving a slight smile.

"Alright, i'll be back in a second..."

He turned around and set a brisk pace and soon arrived at his room, he placed Mir on his bed while he quickly threw all of his clthes and items back on, he disassembled the springer rifle and hid the pieces in his coat again before picking Mir and heading back to the dining room. He quietly walked in and stood next to Luna.


Soren had to admit that Arcanas was most probably right. Whatever this 'test' thing was it was more than likely that it stressed Mira out a bit, but he couldn't understand why it was apparently only the mercenary who had taken it. Hadn't Ann done this test? The more he dwelt on the matter, the more suspicious and curious he got.

As he was lead upstairs, Soren decided to just let it go. For now, anyway. Arc had to be very naive if he thought he'd get away without Soren delving into all of this stuff at some point. Even the ex-geologist himself thought he could be a bit intrusive sometimes. He couldn't help it, though...

Once they both got to the dining room, the last thing Soren expected was to see just how many 'Keepers were there. This was...interesting to say the least.

"You know me, Arc. I'm a very inquisitive and analytic guy..." Soren looked over at Arc for a few moments before turning his attention back to the dining room and the people in it. "...So, well, I don't think you'll mind if I ask who all of these people are, will you?" His gaze swept across the whole room. There were even Ryuu-nekos in here! The food looked pretty good, though, he had to confess.


Zoe smiled and walked back down the hall to her room. She grabbed her stuff and watched as Pud-dles and Steamer wrestled. She rolled her eyes and shook her head before turning back and waiting besides Sov and Luna.


Ann was well. . . the dreamkeeper was. . . okay so. . . one would suppose that the best word for it would be flabergausted as the new female version of Arc entered the room and took a seat. Ann nearly fainted at the mere sight. "W-who are you?" The jackal/rat stammered as usual when in some awkward situation and really situations couldn't be more awkward. "A-And how much did you hear?" Ann's ears folded back in regret knowing that terrible secret might now be out. Ann was also highly tempted to ask if that was Arc in some sort of disguise but knew how rude that could be just in case it turned out not to be the case and so stowed it. After all Ann knew, possibly more than anyone, you can't judge something based on appearences.

"So why are you here?"


Mora groaned and pinched the bridge of her muzzle, muttering,
"Spirits, there's two of them??"

She looked with an icy glare at the female Arcanas look-alike. She was considering making a quip about the coy and cocky attitude being hereditary, but she held her tongue, resolving on a tad more polite response, but was interrupted by Ann. Since Ann had stated basically what Mira had planned to say, Mira stood and gained the hight advantage, in case she felt she had to remove the newcomer,

"Ok, like she said, why are you here? You just got back from your trip and you come meet two new strangers in the house. Why?" She said the last 'why' rather icily, tired of dealing with Arcanas and Arcanas-like people.

Dining room

As Arcanas and Soren entered the dining room Luna lead the two love birds out and winks at Soren as she walked past him. Lathena looks at Soren and smiled.

"Soren. It's been a long time. How are you these days?"

Arcanas puts the glass on the table and filled them up and gave one glass to Soren and the other to Lathena.

Miras room

The girl lay back on the chair and cross her legs.

"I only heard you talking about him when I came in. As for what am I doing here. Before I left for the trip he asked me to sneak into the house when I'm back. Which I did. But he did not tell me that he has guest coming over and I just happen to pick this room. So, no one is at fault and no one is to be blamed. As for my name it's Destania Adriana Viriathus Taylor. Arcanas is my father."


Ann's mouth dropped at the revelation that this was Arc's daughter looking relatively the same age and the simple fact that Arc had a daughter hadn't even crossed Ann's mind. "W-well. . . Then I guess the really private parts remain secret so no harm no foul." Ann tried to wave Mira down to get her in a less threatening position to Destania as Ann leaned over and stretched out a shaky arm, "N-nice t-to meet you! I'm Ann! I had no idea Arc had a daughter!" Ann gave a sweet nervous smile.


Mira felt a pang of jealousy for a moment. The rich arrogant ******* was allowed to have kids? And she wasn't? What kind of world was this?? She decided not to harass the kid though, she was just annoyed in general.

"Right, yeah, no harm done I suppose. Tell me, why does your father let you use your power? You do know it's illegal if you get caught."

She arched an eyebrow, wondering if the teen was simply being rebellious, or Arcanas was just flipping the bird to almost every city ordinance. And Mira thought the troopers were shifty around her springer, yeesh. She looked over to Ann who was trying to get he to be less threatening,
Hell with that..

She stayed standing but relaxed softly, meeting Ann halfway at her non-spoken request. She also wondered who had been the one to name the girl, Mira knew if she had a kid she wouldn't give them a crazy complex name like that.

Sarah. A common enough name, and one she liked. That's what she would name her kid... Or Thomas..

The reality stung like an electric ryuu-neko shock. It would never pass. The closest thing she had was a girl she had met a few days ago... What a sad, cruel world.


Soren stood for a moment. He was staring blankly at the woman who had just greeted him, an eyebrow raised slightly in confusion. He racked his brain like he had never done before in the hope that he'd be able to stamp a name onto that voice and figure. Unfortunately, he wasn't aware of how much of a twat he must have looked like until the name suddenly popped into existence. Where the hell had he heard that name before...?

The answer hit him like a steam train on steroids.

"Lathena?" Soren was so intrigued that the glass of fermentae completely bypassed his mind. That wouldn't be for long, though. "Sorry about that. You're right, it has been a while. Don't take it per-sonally that I forgot your name for a second. My fault. " Soren chuckled in an embarrassed fashion. His eyes averted themselves to the fermentae and he casually stepped towards the table to pick the glass up.

"Well it's good to know that you survived, too." The researcher returned the smile and drank a little bit of the strawberry and kiwi-flavoured fermentae. As Arc had said, it wasn't as strong as the others, but there was still a delicate, almost silky sensation in his throat after drinking it. "I don't know about you two, but I really do miss all that action and the adrenaline-rushes that came with being in the PSS9." He let out a quiet sigh and looked to the floor. "Normal society doesn't cut it for me. Too boring." A simple shrug of his shoulders followed as he looked to Lathena again. "So I guess I'm doing alright, yeah. Yourself?"


Sov followed Luna as she lead Zoe and himself to the new room, Sov was a bit nervous now, he hoped he hadnt come across as soft to the others, maybe if Arcanas ever let him start building weapons for him or something he would have a slightly more rough appearence to everyone.

"So how long have you and Arcanas been working together?"

It was a quick and simple question to gently nudge his thoughts away from the fact that he was about to get a room with the only crush he ever had. It worked a little, he wondered whether Arcanas was married to Luna or Lathena, or maybe both? It seemed a bit strange to him, but he also didnt live in the city, so maybe something like that was custom. He hoped it wouldnt be rude if he asked that...


Zoe watched Puddles and Steamer quietly. She shifted on her feet as she followed Luna and Sov. This was awkward. Sov was pretty much her only friend in her childhood. Homeschooling did't help. It felt like prison in her mind. Well, it pretty much was if you thought about it.

Stuck in a house, with lots of homework. And brothers who mocked er all day and night. Well, when they were not battling with sticks and studying for school. It was still hell in homeschooling. Zoe pushed the thought to the back of her head and returned to her protective watch over her ryus.


While the old gang catches up Arcanas suggest heading for the living room. They all agreed and Lathena leads the way while Arcanas stays behind to clean up. After leading them to the room, Luna asked them if they would like a drink and brought them down to the living room where everyone else was and Arcanas went and get two extra cups and poured them some drinks as they sat and chatted through the night.

Mean while in Miras room.

When Ann reached out to introduce herself and said she does not know Arcanas has a daughter, Destania took her hand and shake it and smiled.

"Nice to meet you Ann. It's that you do not know. When my dad introduce me to others they thought we were twins due to our looks."

When asked by Mira about why her Arcanas let her use her powers she looks at Miras springer than at her.

"I asked the same thing. And he said to me "Better to have a Springer and not need it. Than to need one and not have it. I'm sure you would agree to that saying. Wont you?"


Mira eyed the girl.

"There's a big difference between knowing how to use a springer and setting it off in the city just cause'."

She wasn't quite sure how to classify Destania. She was literally Arcanas's female look-alike, though he did look feminine himself. She wasn't quite sure what to say next, the girl having simply appeared out of nowhere. A thought occurred to Mira, something Destania had said before she came in.

"You never said, what did your father do for a living that made him such an insufferable ***?"

Mira was getting tired of mincing words, so she decided to speak candidly as best she could, she didn't care if this girl was the viscount's daughter, she was sick of being polite and sociable.


Zoe sat down on the couch and carefully watched Puddles and Steamer curl up on her lap. She rubbed Puddles behind the ear hearing the water ryuu let out a pleased purr.


"Former member of PSS9. It does not officially exist. They are called in only if the situation has any-one related to the government involved or if it's sensitive for the local authorities to handle."

Destania than stood up.

"Is there anything else?"


Ann stood as well when the new arrival stood. "I don't think we need anything else thanks." The young keeper smiled, "How about we try to be friend's though, your dad has taken great care of us and we really do appreciate it. We were just a little curious as to a few oddities around here."


Mira stocked that acronym away in her mind, it might be useful later as leverage, or at least some more info. This girl seemed to be a goldmine of info in her father, and could be useful in the future, but for now.. It was time for some goddamn sleep.

"Yes, that will be all." She said curtly. She showed Destina the door, attempting to not let her weariness show, then clicked it shut behind her.

She walked over to the corner and began removing her armor. She didn't have much to say since it was late, and she was tired for some reason or another.. Something about white and black flashed through her mind, but she shook her head. She was definitely tired, she needed some sleep.
I gotta get back on my game, I didn't do crap today.. she thought to herself.

After removing all her armor, and donning nothing as was her preferred sleeping attire, she said,

"Im going to get some rest, you can do whatever, just be careful." She remembered her dogtag and reached down to grab it, clicking it and saying quietly,

"Authorization Mira West, cease all functions." setting it down, she climbed into the bed and laid back under the blankets, focusing on her breathing to help speed her sleep.


Sov walked down the hallway at a brisk pace as he headed to the room of some man named Umbra. Arcanas hadn’t been very clear as to what this test actually was, or why it needed to be done. Sov could understand Arcanas’ being suspicious of him and all. However, the fact that he was so quiet on the actuality of the test made him nervous…and suspicious. He had left his springer rifle in his room, nonetheless. Sov hoped this wouldn’t come back to haunt him in a few moments.

He arrived at the room that Arcanas had told him to go to. He gently knocked on the down before politely calling out.

"Hello? Is Umbra in here? Arcanas said that I needed to stop by for some kind of testing."

He stood back from the door and placed his hands behind his back and leaned on his right leg. For some reason he had a bad feeling about this, although he was probably just overreacting....right?
***
Umbra had woken hours ago, his brow covered in sweat. He decided to fill his empty stomach which he had forgotten to fill in his tired state and had just returned to his room, planning a nice brisk walk to clear his mind. When suddenly...

"Hello? Is Umbra there?"

Oh. Right. A test.

"Come in...come in." Umbra muttered hoping he was audible. He was sitting on his bed, his suit and tie on as usual, all ideas of the nightmare which had plagued him last night gone. The concept of dreaming was foreign to him, anyway. Dreamkeepers shouldn't dream... but he didn't let the alien thing faze him.

There were more important things to do here.
Sov stood for a few more seconds before getting a barely audible response. He stood straight and gently opened the door, quietly stepping in and then closing the door behind him. Umbra sat in a chair, a suit and tie on. Sov had never worn a suit, but he imagined they were uncomfortable, especially the tie.

"Umbra? It’s a pleasure to meet you sir, I’m Sov Aryamk. Arcanas said you had a 'test' lined up for me?"

The man didn’t seem like he meant any harm. Sov slightly relaxed but kept his guard and wits about him. He stayed where he was in front of the door and crossed his arms while watching the man. Sov hoped this test would just be more of a background check than anything else. He hoped.
"Look," Umbra said, as the man walked in, "you don't want to be here--I think. I don't want to be here--I know. Let's do something different. Let's go for a walk. Talk, get to know each other before I do this test, eh?"

Umbra got up, adjusting his tie. "These tests tire me, and I still need a recoup time. Want to walk around the block?"

Sov looked at him, slightly confused for a second before giving a slight nod.

"Sure."

He stood aside from the door and let Umbra exit the room at his own pace before following him.

"So what did you want to know?"
"Your current mental state." Umbra said, moving at a brisk pace.

They walked in silence for about twenty minutes to nowhere in particular. The day was perfect; cloudy, but not raining. It was crisp. Clean. Nonetheless, Umbra felt burdened by the stress of an unknown burden. It was like his brain was being pressed on by a weight, yet not.

An invisible, incorporeal press was being placed on his mind. And he just. Couldn't. Place. It...

There was so much noise around the town. Had there always been this much noise? So much...

"So, what do you think of Arcanas?" Umbra finally asked.
"Mentally I would say I’m quite healthy, though I imagine you won’t be taking my word for that." aside from his parents death, Sov felt he was mentally healthy, he wasn’t the best at socializing, but he was sane none the less.

They walked around for around half an hour. Sov was irritated by the noise of all the 'keepers. This was one of the many reasons that he lived isolated in the desert.

Umbra's question wasn’t entirely unexpected. Sov stayed quiet for a moment, thinking things over before finally responding.

"He seems nice, though to a point where I am honestly suspicious of him, though i imagine everyone else is. He seems slightly too trusting of strangers, but reaching out to make friends also never hurts, at least from my experience."

He paused again. He wanted to make a good, intellectual impression on Umbra, but he also didn’t want to say anything stupid.

"He is also suspiciously wealthy, even for the job he has. I almost think he makes more money than the viscount himself."

His thoughts concluded; he remained in silence waiting for Umbra's answer. Hopefully he hadn’t said anything too stupid.
Umbra mulled this information over, while they walked again in silence for another twenty minutes. He had a final destination in mind but he had time, they could talk a little longer before the real test.

God, the crowds were so noisy. It was adding to the internal stress...but it wasn't enough to stop his cognitive processes.

His first impression of the newcomer was interesting. He was honest enough and had a good amount of sense. His estimation of wealth wasn't spot on, but he didn't hold that against him. After all, Umbra crunched numbers all day; he was used to being a bit ahead of people in that department.

One thing he did notice, though, was the uneasiness that seemed to come with someone wanting to make a good impression.

Wonder why.

Better than Mira in that sense, Umbra supposed. He had some tact. Let's see what he does with it.

Umbra stopped, they had broken away from the main crowd and he turned to look at the 'keeper. He looked into his eyes sharply with a judging calculating look.
Sov continued to follow him, they had been walking for a while, but nothing compared to Sov's seven day commute from his home in the desert to the city. When Umbra stopped and stared at Sov for an extended period of time he was about to make a smart remark but stopped himself before his face muscles even twitched. He would let Umbra make the first remark.
After about thirty seconds, Umbra's stare broke and he smiled his sneaky grin. They continued the walk to the abandoned warehouse, their ultimate destination. The one where his nightmare began. The weight was heavier than ever when they arrived.

"Do you know where this is?" Umbra said, when they were outside the building.
Sov looked around the building for a moment before turning back to Umbra and nodding.

"This is the building where the latest murder happened, I saw pictures of it on the news. I’m sur-prised there aren’t police officers all over the place."

He looked around again before suddenly snapping his attention back to Umbra.

"You wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with the lack of police would you?"
"No, I don't think so. It's been a few days." Umbra theorized. "As of the third or fourth murder, they stopped trying to find the murderer. But that's off the record."

Umbra jumped the caution tape that acted as a makeshift fence to the backdoor entrance. "I used to hang out here when I was on business in the area," he remarked. "I know this place left and right. There's never anyone here. I'm sure after the murder, more-so. Follow me, if you would."

Sov followed cautiously, he wasn’t worried about Umbra, but more so of what may be lurking in the shadows of this place. He quietly jumped over the caution tape and followed him in, he instinctively reached for the disassembled springer rifle in his coat before remembering he had left it back at the mansion. He lowered his hand back at his side while continuing behind Umbra.

"You sure nothing else is in here with us?"

A small beam of light shone through the roof in front of him, dust floated around and Sov pulled his face wrap up to keep himself from sneezing. After a little bit he looked around and then spoke to Umbra, his voice slightly muffled and distorted due to the wrap.

"You know, my parents used to tell me stories of creatures called nightmares...I’m not saying I be-lieve in them, but the way these killings keep happening, the half-eaten corpses and whatnot, makes you wonder huh?"

He ducked under a small beam of wood before coming up on the other side next to Umbra.

"So what exactly are we in here for?"

"Quiet, my dear sir. That’s why we’re here." Umbra sat on a crate. "Also, I prefer it when it's just two people when I use my power."

And with that, he snapped his fingers, which resonated in the warehouse. But the 'keepers were already gone.
Sov opened his mouth.

"What do you-"

He opened his eyes to find himself in the desert, exactly where his old house was to be precise. The remnants of a large sandstorm could be seen drifting away in the distance. Leaving Sov feeling like this was all too familiar.
He looked around, wide eyed and mouth open behind his face wrap. Around him and Umbra lay the scattered pieces of wood from his house. And to Sov's painful realization, also scattered around them lay pieces of what used to be his parents, an arm here, intestines streaked through the sand and brain matter splayed across a wooden beam. Everywhere around them lay wood and the disemboweled remains of his parents. He collapsed on his knees, a small tear forming in his right eye.

"No..."
The desert huh? That made sense for the clothes that the man had been wearing.

"I can understand you not wanting to be here. A soulspace is usually someplace people don't want to be. It's a place that people create unknowingly. You'll also notice you can't move. Please don't be alarmed."

As Umbra moved forward, his footsteps revealed grass. The sky above him changed to night, with him as the epicenter. Slowly, but surely, the land around them changed into his soulspace: the familiar grassland that he loved so much. As usual, he made a table appear where neither of them were looking.

"Please get up off your knees and have a seat," Umbra said. "I'll need to explain the rules of the game for you before we begin."

And so he explained the rules, a trademark sigh capping the end. "Before you should ask your questions, I'll ask you one thing and answer thing. First, what is your name? Arc, impetuous as he is, never told me. And maybe you told me, but I was drained, these moments are all a blur. Second, this is the true test."

Umbra hid his chest behind twiddling thumbs. His face was a mask of secrets. "You may ask anything you want pertaining to the game. We have all the time in the world here. No need to rush."
As Sov knelt in the sand he heard what Umbra said, after a few seconds he stood up and looked at the man. He was surprisingly calm, maybe it was because he was back in the desert, or because he had put his parents death behind him. Either way he took a deep breath, pulled down his face wrap, and sat in the chair opposite Umbra. He eyed the man, listening to the rules before quietly staring at him. After a few seconds he opened his mouth, his voice icy and emotionless, his eyes had become dull.

"My first question is, can I ask a question in the game that has nothing to do with the game."

Sov wanted some answers, if someone made him relive looking at the remains of his parents, then they sure as hell had better have a good reason.
"That depends on the specific rules of the game," Umbra said. "If you have any questions, about the game or otherwise, ask them now. If they're about the game, I must answer. If it's a non-game question, then I may or may not answer. Any other questions?"

Sov looked at him, the dullness slowly fading from his eyes as he emotionally regained himself.

"My only other question is....are the nightmares responsible for these attacks and murders?"

It was a simple question, but one that Sov wanted to know the truth to, he had his own reasons for suspecting the nightmares to be behind the murders, but Sov wouldn’t let that jumper go just yet...
"If you can earn my trust, I'll answer your question. Let's set that aside for now." Umbra declared, getting up. "If that is all, let us begin the game."

Umbra snapped his fingers and a long rural road appeared before them. "Before we begin, I'll set my wager: I will ask but one command of you that you must follow. If you break it, you suffer the consequences of breaking the metarules of the game. Namely, death. What do you ask of me if you win?"

Sov stayed in deep thought for a moment. His cool gaze looked around him, studying the grasslands as he thought. His eyes turned to umbra and he responded.

"If i win...I want access to all armories and workshops inside the mansion so i can work on weapons and other equipment. I also want guaranteed shelter inside the mansion for me and Zoe, and i want to know if the nightmares are behind these attacks. I hope that’s not too much to ask for?"

He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair.
"It's not much at all." Umbra chuckled. "Though I can only promise what I can provide. I, Umbra, promise you I will do everything in my power to allow you to use Arcanas' facilities, for mechanical purposes as well as for shelter, and to tell you the whole truth, as far as I am capable of telling you, about the incidences plaguing the town."

Umbra smirked. "You are much less demanding than the last person I tested. Let us begin." And the lizard started walking down the path. It was like the field, only there was a clear beaten path. It was still nighttime, but in the distance, there were storm clouds.

"The game is called, 'Walk and Talk.'" Umbra began. "The rules are as follows:

Metarule: Turn-based

1. Beginning with me, we will choose a scene from our lives, happy or sad, influential or insignificant and we will relive it.

2. The player taking their turn will ask a question of the opponent. It must be some information that can be gleaned from the scene and prior information. Get two questions wrong and you will lose.

3. You may choose to pass one question. Not asking one, mind you. Only from answering one."

Umbra sighed his trademark sigh. It, along with his facial expressions, said, "Are you ready?"

Sov nodded. The game sounded simple, but Sov was smart enough to know that it was going to get complicated fast. He wondered who would win, he guessed Umbra since it was his game, but Sov figured he would still give it his best shot.

"Ready when you are."
"I'd say that it is more or less, time to begin." Umbra said, walking down the rural road. "I'll start with this scene."

Umbra snapped his fingers with it's trademark loudness. The whole scenery shattered and splintered like glass. Around them, the chunks of the world fell apart to reveal inky blackness.

After what seemed to be a minute, the world slowly lit up.

The scene only showed a single table, a single chair, a single light, and a single kid. The darkness persisted defining no walls. On the table were two dice. The child was clearly Umbra at a young age, maybe somewhere between four and six.

He was rolling the dice and recording on a paper something with a golf pencil. "It doesn't make sense..." He said, rolling the dice again and again. The sound of a door opens from somewhere. The kid Umbra noticeably jumps, dropping his notes.

There are many tallies all over the papers. There were few gathered on the top and bottom and many gathered near the middle.

"Have you solved it yet?" A voice booms. It's deep, male, and raspy. There is no love nor hate in that voice. No cold dejection nor warm passion. It is neutral. Hollow. Perhaps, worse that outright rejection.

"No, I haven't, father. But I-I'll get it!" The little lizard said with bravado clearly showing on his face.

"See to it that you do." The voice paused, "Your fake image is still see-through. You have no hope of solving that puzzle."

"No! I'll get it! Just a few more hours!"

"I know. Or you will die. Just like your sister."

"...I know."

And so the scene fades. The rural grasslands return. The storm clouds are closer. "The memory is over. My question is: "What was the puzzle I was trying to solve?"
Sov watched the scene carefully. It sadly reminded him of a time when his father came home drunk and had him build a new springer pistol for him from scratch. Sov didnt finish it for a few hours, and got beat every hour until he did. He shuddered at the memory before looking at Umbra.

"I hate to do it, but i know nothing of your past or your job, even after seeing this scene, and while it will take away any safety net i had at first, i vote to skip on answering this one.
"Unfortunate." Umbra frowned in a nonchalant manner. "Well then, I suppose it is your move. Simply think of the memory of where you wish to be and it will be so."

Sov stayed quiet for a moment, thinking of how to get Umbra to lose. Umbra was obviously a num-ber cruncher, he probably didnt have any serious knowledge in weapons or related subjects. He would enter a zone of comfort for him, but one that was alien to Umbra.

He thought of a scene from his life, and the area around them faded to black before slowly turning to a small room, the floor was sand and a flat rock was sitting in the middle of the room, light shone through a hole in the wooden wall. A child, around twelve or so, knelt next to the rock,covered only in a large trenchcoat. Parts of flowood and small wooden pieces lay on the rock. A piece of paper and a screwdriver were in the childs hands. He placed the pieces together, slowly working on them until a springer rifle quickly took shape.

"Okay...now we just place the cartridge loader here...."

The child placed a few more parts together before finally sitting on his **** in the sand, he gave a loud sigh and looked in admiration at the gun. Its large barrel alone was as long as the childs body was tall. The magazine and assorted springer cartridges were larger than most average sniper springers.
The child stood up from behind the rock, showing that it was a younger Sov, he attempted to pick up the gun and barely managed it. A scope was mounted ontop, and it featured a bolt-action design unlock most springer snipers.

Sov looked at Umbra, a slight smirk on his lips .

"My question is, what type of rifle did i create?"

"I don't need to know." Umbra smirked, "You broke a rule. Because I am fair, though, I'll explain my accusation."

The world around them slowly shifted back from the room to the field.

"I didn't tell you, but the puzzle I gave that you could have chosen to answer could be solved with all the information around the scene. We all know what standard dice are, six sided implements used to make a semi-random choice, known as a roll. It doesn't take more than standard logic to solve the question." Umbra clicked his tongue.

"You, however, picked an impossible question, for me anyway. I don't know a single fact about the specifics of springers. It's the truth. I don't hide it. All I know is, pull trigger, aim, shoot. You probably figured you could stump me with such a question. You did." Umbra turned to look at this opponent accusingly.

"Rule 2: The player taking their turn will ask a question of the opponent. It must be some infor-mation that can be gleaned from the scene and prior information. Get two questions wrong and you will lose.

"Part A of that rule is the important part. You gave me an impossible question, for me. I don't know the difference between make and models; I know the words "sniper rifle," "assault rifle," "shotgun," and hold a vague idea of what each mean and do.

"However, there's little way for me to make any sort of guess, as my knowledge is that limited. Your sureness of your making a near impossible question makes me assume that you wanted something specific, you would accept no other answer. There was no way for me to figure out the question. But due to that, you broke the rule.

"And that is why I'm going to waive this turn. You're more civil than the other opponent I had. As a result, I'll give you another chance. The rules only work if the opponent enforces them. Another loophole." Umbra chuckled.

"I'll give you another chance, but don't break any rules this time." He turned to the trenchcoated man. "Your move. Good luck."

Sov nodded, he had made a mistake, however he was raised to kill people, not do puzzles. He stood for a few more moments. There were so many rules that he couldn’t have kept track of them in his heads like Umbra did. So, it had to be something that could be answered through basic knowledge, Sov was at a loss, aside from anything militaristic, he couldn’t of come up with something to ask Umbra.

"I’m not on a time limit for coming up with a question right?"

Sov knew that two things were going to happen now. Either Umbra would take advantage of him asking that question and count it as a rule break, or he would answer it. However, Sov did just ask a question about the game, so maybe he would be safe. Oh this was so not fun.
"There is no time limit. Take as long as you want. It's just a walk and a talk. If you want, we can stop and take a break." Umbra suggested.
Sov shrugged. A break would be nice, maybe they could just take a little bit of time and take. Maybe he could persuade Umbra out of this whole test scenario if he just shared his life stories with him, and let Umbra pick his brain a bit.

"Let’s take a break, just talk for a bit if you don’t mind, just a friendly little chat couldn’t hurt."
"Sure, then." Umbra said, sitting down on a newly materialized chair. "Then...how has today been?"
Sov shrugged.

"It’s been slow, as most days in the city seem to be, that’s probably because you guys don’t worry about animals eating you all the time."

Sov continued to stand, even when Umbra spawned two chairs. He found that most chairs in the city were not designed for 'keepers with digitigrade legs. So Sov just stood most of the time he was in the city. He placed his hands behind his back and looked at Umbra with a friendly smile.

"The weather is nice today, though I still have yet to see this 'snow' that everyone talks about."
"Ahaha," Umbra chuckled. "Snow is nice. It makes everything look cleaner. Would you like to see?"

The lizard snapped his fingers and the scenery changed to a snow field. His clothes were changed to a warm black jacket and red earmuffs. His pants remained unchanged.

"Very white. Very pure. My power has some nice advantages to it, hm? Mind the cold, though."

Sov watched as the field turned to a bright white. The entire area felt alien to him, though he liked it in a strange way. His clothes remained unchanged as unlike most clothes made for the desert climate his were designed stay insulated against heat and cold, it stayed a medium temperature that was good for both climates. He pulled up his face wrap around his muzzle and head and moved his goggles to his eyes to help keep his head warm. He looked around the snow for a few moments, taking in every detail before looking back at Umbra.

"I must admit, this is almost as nice as the desert, if not a little bit nicer..."

He leaned over and picked up a handful of snow, studying it in his hand and watched as it melted. It was peculiar that snow melted, sand didn’t do that, what was snow made out of that melted?

"Umbra, might i ask, what is snow made out of? It melts which sand doesn’t do, yet it’s also cold..."
"Hmm..." Umbra thought for a moment, taken aback by the full-grown man's inquisitiveness. "Snow is essentially water after a chemical change to freezing. It's like ice, the frozen form of water, except many smaller drops of water freeze.

"I presume you're familiar with rain? Snow is frozen rain. The more scientifically correct way of put-ting it, though, is that all rain is just snow. This is because as the snow falls from clouds, which are just water, by the way, it enters warmer air, which as you have observed, changes it to water and hits us in the form of rain.

"Snow, however, is rain that never melts because the surface temperature of the ground is low enough to sustain its frozen form. Once it heats up, it melts again."

Umbra sighed, "Did that make any sense? I'm sorry, I'm a bit long-winded and abstract at times."

Sov stood, interested in the information he was now learning. Apparently he really needed to sit down with Umbra some day and just let him explain the world outside the desert to him. Explaining modern socialization probably wouldn’t hurt either.

"Interesting, and that did make sense, so no worries. I am curious however, of how you feel about Arcanas?"

He picked up another handful of snow as he talked.

"You two appear to be friends, even close friends, yet you seem to be frustrated by him a lot."
"Arcanas is a great and terrible friend," Umbra began. "Great, in that he is loyal, honest, kind, and caring. Terrible in that he acts stupid, he manipulates people coyly, and he is careless with power usage."

"We were friends growing up. All went to the same high school, he, Luna, Lathena, and I, though it's only recently that we began talking again."

Sov nodded, he knew what it was like to suddenly start talking to people you knew from the past.

"So what exactly did you two do together? I imagine you worked together or something, most friends disband after high school unless they end up working together at the same job...if I’m not mistaken of course."

Sov had been wondering what Umbra's real job was. And he had the feeling that Umbra and Arcanas used to work together, it was just a hunch, but he figured he would ask anyways.
"No, nothing of the sort. He had his life and I, mine." Umbra simply responded. "We used to hang out as a loose group, loose on my end, anyway. I was their brains, Arcanas had the ideas, I had the methods. Luna and Lathena helped to move things along. But those are stories of days past.
Sov nodded, trying to be as sympathetic as he could. He realized that he didn’t have a whole lot of other things to ask Umbra about, weapons and the such seemed like a futile attempt...maybe he would just let Umbra pick his brain for a bit, give him some time to think of a few good questions.

"Anything else you would like to ask?"

He needed to think up some questions quickly, see if there was a way for him to get on Umbra's good side, maybe even figure out a way with the lizard for them to come to some sort of draw in this game of his. They both get what they want, or both get nothing, either way, Sov would be fine with giving something if he got something in return.
"What is it like being you?" Umbra asked, simply.
Sov looked at him, a curious expression on his face.

"That is an interesting, and very difficult to answer question."

He stayed quiet for a few moments after that. His face showing the signs of severe thought and concentration, he then suddenly broke the silence.

"Lonely, after my parents took me out of public school and then died, ive been all alone up until now out in the desert. It’s also very stressful, i have to provide for myself, and the wildlife out in the Diony don’t necessarily just fall on their sides and let you eat them. Often I’m spending more time trying not to be eaten than i am killing creatures to eat them. Though jumpers are a great source of food, they don’t attack, and they strangely absorb all the water in the surrounding air into their bodies, meaning you kill them and just drink their insides."

He reached into his trenchcoat and brought out a small bottle. he handed it to umbra before continuing.

"That right there is what I drink most of the time, it’s the blood from a killed jumper, no taste, and it’s just as hydrating as water. Unfortunately though, jumpers seem to be fading from the desert, especially with all these strange murders going on, making my life a whole lot more stressful."

He walked back over to where he had been standing eventually and looked at the snow falling from the sky for a moment before speaking again.

"I realize that’s more of just information on how i live my life than how it is to actually be me, but that’s a very difficult question to answer."
"The goings-on of people can tell you more than you ever bargained for," Umbra said, "I should know, I'm a statistician and a psychologist. Personally trained by my parental."

He sighed, "Which do you think is better, living in solitude but free...or living shackled by with many around you?

"Oh, and none of that silly, 'In this case slash if this were the case' examples. There are two choices. Pick one, add some reasoning."

Sov was about to say that it was better to be alone, but he kept his mouth shut and thought for a few more seconds before coming up with an answer. He smirked from behind his facewrap as he answered.

"Together and not free, you could all break out together, or die trying."
"Fair enough, though you seemed torn." Umbra observed.

"What was the most important thing your parents taught you?" He asked.
He thought for a moment, his parents gave him advice for growing up, and manners and all that other stuff, but he figured that Umbra already knew that. So other than those things, it was probably how to survive by himself, and in the desert.

"Basic things aside, the most important thing they taught me before they died was how to survive in the desert on my own."

It was a simple answer, but it was the utmost truth, if they hadn’t taught him all those tricks, he would've gotten eaten a long time ago.
"Fair enough." Umbra said, getting up. "I'd say that was a fine enough chat. Let's continue. I believe it was your move."

Sov nodded. ****.... That was the only thing that went through his mind. He couldnt really think of anything else. Should he forfit?, no,no, that would be stupid, he needed to have access to the armories and workshops that he knew must be hidden inside Arcanas' mansion. He stayed quiet in thought. Memories flicked through his head like a slideshow as he tried to find a solid one to go with. He realised something, it would be sneaky, and very tricky, but if he played his cards just right, he could get Umbra with this one...

"I've got one."

The world faded to black around them again and then materialised into a shallow forest, a tall tree was next to them. Everything was quiet until some giggling was heard and two children, a boy and a girl around the age of 13 could be seen running towards the tree. After a few seconds of chasing each other they climbed up the tree together, the boy was obviously Sov before his parents permanently moved him to the desert. The girl was a fluffy white fox with blue eyes. When they finally climbed to the top of the tree they sat next to each other on a branch, whispering jokes back and forth. After a few more moments the scene slowly started to fade black again before returning them to the snowy plains.

"My question is, who was i with?"

It was very tricky, and if he didn’t play his cards just right, then it was going to work against him, but it was the only ace up his sleeve at the moment.
Surly this man isn't dumb enough to make the same mistake twice in a row... Umbra thought. No, he wasn't... then this must be a possible question. This is beside the fact that he's still here.

"There are only two possibilities," Umbra said, after a long pause. "Since I had the intent to enforce the rules the second time and you weren't booted from the realm that means this is a possible question.

"Thus, there lie only three possibilities. You chose someone I knew at random and hoped to get lucky--highly unlikely--or you chose someone you knew I had a high probability of knowing; this can be split into two subsections: Famous people and people that were recruited with Arc.

"I'll assume the last choice, a celebrity in your memory is unlikely and I doubt you even know the social politics of Anduruna, seeing as you live in the desert. As a result, you wouldn't pick one.

"Continuing on, I only know three women in the group: Ann, Mira, and Zoe. The only people who share the same appearance as what I saw in the memory are Mira and Zoe.

"So, with these two choices: I pick Zoe. I know Mira's past through my own game with her. She didn't have a happy one around the age of adolescence. I'm also making my guess off past experiences based off of personality judgments. Zoe is much more innocent--though this portion is only guesswork based on my own ability to judge people--and has lived a much easier life than Mira.

"So, am I correct?" Umbra said, his ultimatum and reasoning stated.
Sov nodded.

"You are correct sir, I believe it is your turn now."

Sov knew that he had now lost, there may still be turns left, but Sov knew that with his only card getting utterly destroyed like that, that he was in no position to win. Oh well, at least Umbra had a reasonable request, hopefully he wouldn’t use it at a bad time, that was the only thing Sov was afraid of.

"Well then, let's have a nice simple memory then." Umbra said. The scenery changed from the beaten path once again, but this time it was calmer.

First came the sounds. Happy voices echoed through unseen hallways, joyous yells resounded through the air, the clatter of feet on flo-wood floors came from all around the two 'keepers.

Next came the sights. Golden sun came flooding from behind them as the scene shifted from field to room in a pixelated fashion. Soon however, the whole scene had been painted.

The smell was the fantastic smell of youth. There, in an empty classroom, sat the teen versions of Umbra, Luna, Lathena, and Arcanas. They were all sitting on separate desks. "Lunaaaa!" The younger Lathena said, "I know that they were bugging you, but you didn't need to floor them!"

"Hmph, they got what was coming to them." Luna smirked. She had been rather violent and rebel-lious at the time. A great foil to her current lust-filler personality.

"She's fine," Arcanas smiled, his easygoing manner clashing against the conflict of the two girls.

"Mmmm..." Lathena growled a bit, but dropped the topic.

All the while, Umbra had been watching them all intently. "Aren't you going to say anything?" Arca-nas grinned.

"Nah." Umbra said. He looked deep in thought.

"Oh come off it!" Luna said. "We all know you have stuff to say. Oh! Or is it too deep for us!?"

"Huh?" Umbra grunted, backing away a bit. Luna was not approaching him with her angry scowl. "No. No..." he said. The she-wolf was still scowling at him though. She clearly didn't believe him.

"I was just thinking... it would be nice...... if......... this could last."

The memory faded.

Umbra turned to Sov. "How did I feel at the time?"
Sov watched the scene, a ping of sadness overcame him as he realized that he never had the chance to gain a group of close friends like that. Zoe was his one and only friend for the limited time he was in public schooling. He gave a loud sigh that gave away his feelings. He stayed quiet for a moment before responding.

"I’m not sure of the exact word, but the best word i know of to describe how you felt would be that you were longing for your friendship with the others to never end. You had a group of people you felt safe and secure with, people you felt you could trust, and people who you wanted to know could trust you. That’s the best way i can put it, as describing emotions is extremely difficult sometimes, as I’m sure you can understand."

Sov almost added in. You had something i never did, and never could have. But he quickly caught himself and kept his mouth closed. No sense looking back at the past and feeling self-pity.
"That's an acceptable answer," Umbra said. "I loved my group of friends. I hope it helps you under-stand why I still come at the beck and call of them. I kinda miss those days."

"Your move, my opponent."
Sov stayed in thought for a moment, continuously reading the rules to the game in his head. He would find a way to beat Umbra, or at least get damn close. Again for the thousandth time he cycled through all of the memories in his head, he needed to find something that would be within the rules, but also be a loophole in the rules. It finally clicked in his head, but he would need a little time to work it into a clever plan.

"So, you’re a number cruncher? I’ve never been one for math myself, killing brain squid doesn’t require algebra you know?"

He almost had it, now just to stall while he refined it.
"A fair enough point, but it helps when wanting to solve other problems. Then again, you need not want for more than life. Do you believe people can die of loneliness?"

He was buying time. But Umbra was fine with that, they had plenty of time.
Sov shrugged.

"I don’t know, I’ve lived by myself out in the desert for about six or so years. I feel lonely sure, but I’ve never felt i could die of it, i think perhaps...it depends on the person."

50%

Sov stayed quiet, his thoughts speeding around in his head, should he? What would they say if he told Umbra? Was it worth the risk, even if the nightmares were really out there now, ready to reap revenge?
"Hmhmhm, a fair point." Umbra chuckled, dryly. "Well then," the lizard sat down, "when you're ready. We have eternity at out fingertips, you have all the time in the world, and then some."

A black fedora appeared in his hand. He put it in his head, careful not to touch the halo. Then in one final movement, he pulled the hat over his eyes.

"Let me know when you feel you are pleased with making a move."

75%

Sov hoped his choice would be the right one, they would no doubt be angry with him for his choice, but they were dying out.

80%

And they knew it. The group needed new members, it wouldn’t survive without new members, a group like theirs could only last so long in perfect secrecy. But would it be worth the risk?

85%

"I’m ready, but I have one thing to ask of you before I make my move."
Without lifting up his summoned fedora, Umbra said, "Yes?"
Sov stayed quiet before looking at Umbra, an extremely serious expression on his face, making his younger appearance seem to double in age from stress.

"I need you to never tell anyone what I’m about to show you unless I say so, can you at least promise me this?"
"I don't see why not," Umbra said, nonchalantly. He took the hat off of his face and got up slowly, the chair disappearing as he left it. Setting the fedora on his head, he looked at the 'keeper with serious eyes, his lackadaisical movements shaken off like a robe.

"What is it you need to tell me?" he said with a serious gaze.
Sov gave a loud sigh and looked at the ground for a moment.

"I know you’re a member of PSS9, I know Arcanas and the rest of your friends are as well."

He looked up at Umbra.

"I was briefed by them before I left here for the city. I was sent here to investigate these murders, we fear it may very well be that the nightmares are returning."
"Ahaha," Umbra laughed, controlled at first, and then growing in severity. "Ahahahahahahahahaha--hahahaha!"

"Mhmhmhm--I'm sorry to inform you of three pieces of information," The lizard grinned widely.

"One, you are correct, the nightmares are returning. I saw one with my very eyes. Two, I was never a part of PSS9, but was aware of its existence and acted as a contact to Arcanas when he needed information. Finally, as for the rest of the group, they are not part of PSS9 either. Most of them don't even know it exists." He paused to gather his breath again.

"Sorry for my outburst," he said, finally. "Information that is only a little off the mark makes me giddy. Ah, but since you are in the mood for revealing facts..." Umbra's spike in energy was gone. He sat back down smiling.

"Who is them now? I know you're buying time, but I'm curious."

Hmm...intel was wrong again. Or was it? He was briefed that Umbra may or may not have been a member of PSS9, but he knew that his friends were. Whether Umbra knew or not. Sov stayed quiet and controlled for the remainder of Umbra's outburst before he gave a wry smile at Umbra's question. He looked around for a few seconds before returning his gaze back to Umbra. His features now once again back to their youthfulness.

"I believe we should return to the game now, I imagine you have quite enough food for thought as you city people say."

"Hmhmhm. Alright." The lizard said with a coy smile. "I repeat: It's your move."

Sov nodded. Their surroundings turned black before slowly materialising into a desert once again. It was around dawn, small shrubs littered the desert floor and blew in the wind. Large dunes sur-rounded them and creatures scurried across the dunes and out of sight. After a few moments a man appeared atop one of the dunes, he wore strange armor that matched the deserts sand color perfectly. His helmet and a face mask covered his identity as he stood on the dune, looking across the desert for a moment before another appeared next to him, clad in the same strange armor. They stared off into the desert before a raspy voice could be heard from the second man.

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DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 2:07am
"Due to your parents betrayal and you exile from the council you will be forced to live on the surface of the desert. If you wish to rejoin the council then you will complete a mission we will give you, if not then you will continue to live in the desert, but regardless of what you decide to do, until you are accepted back into the council, know that we will be watching."

The second man handed the first a datascroll and then placed a hand on his shoulder.

"You are not responsible for what your parents did, but the councils code demands we do this, spirits be with you."

The second man then disappeared over the dune behind the first. After a few minutes the first man folded the datascroll up and placed it in a pouch on his belt, he looked over his shoulder then turned forward and began down the dune towards Sov and Umbra. After a moment he walked inbetween them, his identity was still hidden from his armor, though a large and strange springer rifle was slung on his back along with a large canteen and a supply pack. A springer pistol has holstered on his leg. The desert began to slowly fade black as the man disappeared from Umbra and Sov's sight. After the memory faded, Sov looked at Umbra, his plan still in motion.

"Who was the first man?"
Umbra felt the answer was obvious and in his experience, obvious was a trap. Though you could never be too sure. "Allow me to run my thought process aloud, if I may."

"The scene is in the desert, a place I never visit. Also, in all likelihood this is a person we both know. I know you live in the desert but I know little about your parents, so that can't be used as evidence.

"What is evidence though? Why, that canteen. You offered it to me just recently. I'll use that as a single data point, though I have a number of reasons for my guess. Since I know you aren't a large enough ignoramus to break the rules a second time the only person I know that this can be is..."

Umbra sighed and paused, "It is you, correct?"

The lizard played with the other option that may have been the masked man. Since these were memories of the person, all of them include that person. There were two people there and it was possible, though unlikely, that Sov was the second dreamkeeper.

And that would mean the only other possible person it could be, even by ANY possibility was Arca-nas. But that was only in the realm of possibility and highly unlikely, in any case. Arcanas had just met this man, so unless they never knew each other’s identities at the time then it was impossible.

Then again it was possible that this man had learned of his identity later.

But then again, Umbra didn't know enough about his friend's time past their schooling. A pity. A pity.

Still many of the facts pointed at Sov, possible exile to the desert, an odd organization that he has hinted at, the canteen, and the springer...

This all flashed through his mind in an instant as he stood waiting for an answer.
Sov crossed his arms and nodded at Umbra.

"You are correct, I was exiled due to my parents fleeing from the cou-..The organisation so they could raise me apart from the group, of course after they died I found my way back to them."

He dwelled on the memory for a few moments before looking at Umbra.

"Your turn sir."
“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder whether a combination of bad or uncaring parents or a child without parents is better off,” the lizard mused. “In any case, you’re right, it is my move.”

Once again, the setting around them shattered changing memory scenes quickly. The two ‘keepers now stood in the dark room again, but this time there was an older looking Umbra, very similar to the real one who was basking in the shadows of the background.

But this memory lizard had a harder look on him. He was a strapping seventeen, and unlike the look he wore at school he was straight-backed . The lizard was wearing the same suave clothing that the real Umbra now wore. If not for some harder air about him, the two lizards would almost be the same.

Memory Umbra stood looking forward in the dark, and didn’t wince when light flooded the room from the door which suddenly opened. The dark figure was in the doorway once again. His father.

“You made a mistake, Umbra. Your grade point average exceeded 73%. You know better than to stand out. You know what this means, right?” The voice was toneless and bland. It was neither ac-cusing nor sympathizing, it was simply a matter of fact.

“Yes.”

More men entered the shadowy room and tied the keeper up, from the feet first, then behind the back, but they didn’t gag him or blindfold him, but they did put goggles on his face. Then they picked him up and dragged him somewhere.

The memory shifted planes to the field, but this time it was less endless. In fact, they were at a cliff overlooking the sea. Two men were watching the teen Umbra, tied and bound, and pushed him into the sea. He was connected by a rope which was connected to a machine at the edge of the cliff. Umbra and Sov watched as the rope kept going, giving more and more slack until it had not more to give.

The scene shifted, flooding the scene with water. Umbra and Sov sat in a bubble, protected from the wetness, but there in a deep portion of the sea was the memory doppel of the lizard who was tapping at an electronic board.

“I was solving a test,” Umbra said to Sov, “if I passed, I’d live, if I failed I’d lose. Of course, I only had as much time as I had air.”

The lizard wasn’t struggling at all though, he was tapping answers on a waterproof data scroll, checking boxes neither of them could see until, finally, after two minutes, he stopped, released some bubbles from his nose, and pressed a button. The scene shifted. The two keepers were at the top of the cliff again.

They watched as a sound emitted from the machine that tied Umbra to the rope. It was his salvation. The machine slowly pulled the man up to the cliff where the two men were checking his answers. When the lizard was all the way up, they said, “Congratulations, you get to live to see another day.”

The scene faded. “Why did my father want me to get 73%?”

Sov thought for a moment, an answer quickly popped into his head but he made sure to go over any other possible answers. It seemed too easy, but maybe Umbra had just given him an easy question. Well, no sense in just standing here if I can’t think of another answer... He looked at Umbra.

"Your father didn’t want you to excel in school so you wouldn’t bring attention to yourself from the school faculty, most likely because your father was operating some type of shady business, any attention even just from your teachers could cause him to be arrested. Or maybe he just didn’t like the number 73"

Sov gave a friendly smile. Well, either he just lost, or they would keep going. Sov didn’t much care for the endgame at this point.

"You were right, then you made yourself wrong," Umbra frowned. “Yes, he was operating shady businesses under the noses of the authority of Anduruna, and that was why he didn't want me to excel, but by stating another answer you muddle them together as one answer. Thus, you are wrong. It's cruel, but so is the world. Trust yourself and your gut.

It's your move. You have one chance left."
Sov shrugged.

"The second half was more of a comment to lighten the mood, but hey, my parents always said, I was bad at humor."

And here he was again, lost on thoughts to keep the fight going. He could always disclose more of his time with the group, but he didn’t want to let Umbra in on too much of it, not yet at least.

"Not that I prefer to lose, but I thought that I got that question wrong since I added in the second half? Also I got one wrong earlier, and you also said no more freebies after my first mistake."

He was getting tired of this game, normally he was patient, but games were just irritating after a sort time to him.

"I said you simply asked an impossible question, which is outside the bounds of the rules, and waived by the game master." Umbra made a waving motion with his hand to emphasize his point.

"You seem impatient though. We've only been here but an hour, and we have eternity if we need it. So take your time. I know I will."

The man smirked in a friendly way.
"As I said earlier, I’m not much of a game person."

Sov crossed his arms, so he was at one mark. He had multiple options on how to deal with this, some were a bit...rash, but like Umbra said, they had plenty of time.

"Umbra, what is your middle and last name?"

"My full name, huh?" Umbra laughed. "Umbra Umbrage Arc. Rather dark, don't you think? The darkest part of a shadow, an insult, and a trajectory." He chuckled a bit.

Not dark in my opinion, however I have nowhere near the linguistic dictionary that you do, so I have no idea what 'Umbrage' means."

Sov looked around again, he was already beginning to miss the desert. He brought up his canteen and took a drink from it, it was running low...this was very problematic.

"So Umbra, if you were to materialize something like a glass of water, would there be any way for you to bring it back into the 'real' world after this?"

"No, everything reverts back to its prior state when they leave this world. If you're thirsty, we can conjure anything due to the nature of this game, but it means nothing anyway. Nothing ages in here, no time really passes, everything here is an illusion, save for the rules and the wagers and the only thing that can effect that reality is...the players.

"Does that answer your question?"


Sov nodded. Though now slightly worried in the back of his mind, he would woory about it later.

"Yes sir it did, thank you."

He stood in thought, aside from the fact that he couldnt come up with much else to challenge Um-bra with, he did find this alternate plane of existence to be interesting. He had a few more questions to ask.

"So, another question real quick. If one player offers the other player the chance to go again, is that allowed?"


"Only in the case of the gamemaster, which is always me. I can always bend rules if they are in favor of the opponent." Umbra replied.


Sov stayed quiet in thought.

"So then, if you can only bend them in favor of your opponent, I would find it in my favor if you would go again, as I cannot think of anything more to challenge you with at the moment."


"You are mistaking personal favor with favor in the game. Like bending the rules to not make you fail when you broke one. You want me to go again, which is, by game standards, in my favor. Thus, I cannot complete your request. Good try though. I have no idea why you want to lose, personally. You do know I can ask anything of you once I win, right?"


Sov shrugged.

"Yes, and again, im a bit on the impatient side incase you havent noticed.

Well, that wasnt going to work. He would just have to come up with another memory and question real quick.

"Hmm....so you said that your friends werent a part of PSS9, how would you feel if I told you that you were wrong?"

"I would wonder to what degree I'm wrong," The lizard smirked. "You're very confident in your thoughts. I wonder how you know all this about random people that you just met? A guise of coincidence would be surprising."



Sov smirked.

"Coincidence could be used, but it wouldnt exactly fit. As you may remember I was given a mission, along with the mission came intel on the mission, the intel was about PSS9 and its members. How-ever I have no intention at the moment to carry out my mission, so im left with my knowledge of your friends. It is however purely coincidence that I ran into you all the way I did."

He looked at Umbra.

"The truth is, your friends, and many of their friends, have been a part of PSS9 for quite some time. I’m surprised you don’t know this."


"My friends? Of course they are. Clearly you weren't listening when I said "the rest of the group." I assumed when you said "friends" you meant everyone there because you just met us. I assumed you were generalizing. I was wrong. You know my social life; I can infer this because you actually meant my friends when you said "friends" as opposed to all the people there. I could dismiss this as coincidence or take it as suspicious. I'll go with the latter.


Sov looked at him.

"And you have good reason to be suspicious, which leads me to my next memory and question for you. Hopefully it will answer a few questions you have, such as what my mission was."

The scene faded and then rematerialised as a dark alleyway in the city. Sov stood in the middle of the alleyway, a brown duffle bag lay next to his feet. He was putting the last of his armor away in the bag, he now wore his trenchcaot and other equipment. He zipped the duffle bag closed and placed it behind a nearby dumpster. Afterwards he pulled a datascroll out of his pocket and unfolded it. the scene shifted to the screen of the datascroll, a list of names appeared on the screen topped by Arcanas and then proceeding down alphabetically, eventually it hit Luna and so forth, some names had a capital 'T' next to them. The scene shifted away from the datascroll as Sov approached the end of the list with his orders. After reviewing the datascroll for a few more moments Sov closed it and patted his springer rifle reassuringly, he then loaded it.The scene shifted once again, this time to a view of Sov walking out of the alley before everything turned black once again.

"What was my mission?"


Umbra grinned. "Finally something tough. I won't go through my reasoning this time, I don't have a strong ground anyway. You're targeting some of the now-former members of PSS9."


Sov nodded.

"Correct, my mission was to target the members of PSS9, however I never did fully go through with the mission. Which is why I find it so ironic that Arcanas saved me from the security troops, when Im supposed to kill him, though I guess one could say that the world works in strange ways like that. Anyways, your turn sir."

Sov flashed back to the memory of him in the desert. He wondered if his duffle bag was still behind that dumpster...maybe he would check later. They were going to need every piece of equipment they could get their hands on to fight the nightmares.


"My turn, indeed," the scene shifted abruptly to a bar. There are many people all around, jostling each other, and no one would have noticed a lizard in a tee-shirt and jeans chatting with a wolf 'keeper. They sat in a discreet corner and as time in the memory went by, the background noise faded away. In fact, the scene darkened, focusing only on the table and the two 'keepers.

"Arc...you really should just quit," the scaly past-Umbra said. "Some of this info you need me to collect is dangerous. But you know that, I suppose."

"I know," Arcanas said, a heavy grin on his face. He was sitting in a relaxed fashion, as if he didn't have a care in the world.

"No you don't!" Umbra said, slamming his drink (water) on the table. "You've risked your life every day for four years!" He quieted down. "I mean...that organization...it's--"

"He said as if he were in a different situation his whole life," Arcanas put down his fermentae and grinned at Umbra. "Look, if it makes you feel better, I'm quitting soon."

"Spirits, Arc, what are you planning..."

The memory faded.

The scene changed to the dark room once more. The lizard sat there with his father at the table.

"Umbra. You're getting to interwoven with that group. I told you you shouldn't have gone to school. I told you--" the words were eventually lost, and the tone was a dreary neutral.

The scene faded.

"If a conflict came between my friends and my father, which side would I pick?"


Sov rubbed the bottom of his muzzle thoughtfully. He lowered the face wrap as his body had now adapted to the cold. That was a tricky question, he would have to think about for a few moments.

"Hmm...a few moments and I should have my answer."

He paced around in the snow, his tail swishing back and forth behind him. He suddenly turned to Umbra.

"Well, because your father is your own flesh and blood I imagine you would stray heavily towards his side, however, he has done, as some may view it, terrible things to you as you grew up. Your friends seem to mean alot to you and from the memories ive seen they dont appear to have done anything even close to what your father did. Therefore I would say that you would stick with your friends given those two options."


"Unfortunately, you are wrong and thus, you lose this game." Umbra said. The game was ending, the world around them was being sucked into a black hole neither of them could see.

"My loyalty will always be toward my father. He taught me everything I need to know in life and, though unlike him, I cannot hide my emotions, he taught me to use them as a tool. I am eternally in his debt for giving me life, and in the case of a conflict between my friends and my father...my path is unwavering."

The scene faded. They were in the warehouse again.

"And so, you pass the test. Come on, let's head back." Umbra began pacing toward the exit.


Sov nodded.

"Atleast thats finally over."

He watched as the scene faded back to the warehouse.

"Hey, you think we could make a quick stop somewhere before we head back to the house?"

He looked around the warehouse. There was still the atmosphere of evil here, Sov could only hope his duffle bag was still hidden where he had left it those years ago...


"Alright." Umbra replied without looking back at the 'keeper.


Sov nodded and pulled out his data scroll. He looked at a map of the city, remembering the alley-ways and streets that lead to the secluded dumpster. After a few seconds he left the warehouse with Umbra in trail and started down a street. After ten to twenty minutes of walking through countless alleyways Sov finally stopped after making another turn.

"Well, the dumpster is still here, but lets see if the bag is still here."

He walked up to the dumpster and opened it, after a few seconds of rummaging through the pile of trash he pulled out an old brown duffle bag. He threw it over his shoulder and closed the dumpster.

"If all my gear is still here, then i may be able to replicate it for us to use against the nightmares."

He un-zipped the bag and smiled, he then pulled out a helmet and tossed it at Umbra before pulling more bits of armor and equipment out.

"Everythings here, now were in business."


(Time jump)

2 weeks later.

Everyone was seated in the living room as Arcanas walked.

"Well done everyone. Your still alive and in one piece. Now before we start anything I'm giving everyone three days to clear their affairs and what not. Cause after that, we are staying together and keeping our movement to a minimal."

He looks at Umbra.

"Umbra. Is there anything I need to know about our friends here before they can go?"


"No. Except that you shouldn't have picked them at random."


"Noted Umbra."

He turns back to the others.

"Is there anything you want my help with?"


Ann snuggled down comfortably into the couch with an improved outlook and some new perspec-tive due to the 'keeper's new friend. It made everything seem a little brighter though it did give the young jackal/rat a lot to think about.

When Arc called everyone into the room Ann really didn't know what to expect and to be honest the'keeper was worried it would be another test. Tests always made Ann nervous even if the poor jackal/rat usual did well on the rare occassion where one presented itself and, even though the last test had gone pretty well, Ann couldn't seem to shake that old nervous feeling and so quickly hunckered down in the corner of the couch and tried to be scarce.

When it turned out that Arc was just giving a short explantion to everyone and a statement that there would be a short break for everyone to take care of there business Ann breathed a deep sigh of relief and a shy smile settled on the young 'keeper's lips, which was quickly accompanied by a quick laugh at Arc and Umbra's antics. The way they fought was kind of adorable sometimes even from Ann's perspective. A hand rapidly shot up to hide the laughter then shortly after raised all the way in reponse to Arc's question.

"Umm. . . yeah I actually have something I kinda need to take care of if it's okay I mean." Ann's murmered quietly, new perspective or no Ann was still gonna be a little shy iit was just the keepers personality. "If I'm gonna be staying here for a little while I might need to pick up a few things from box . . . err. . . I mean home first of thats okay I guess. . ."


Two weeks ago.

Mira had left the house not long after the incursion with Destania, she told Ann she had some busi-ness to attend to. She got herself outside of the city, and to the building outside of the walls that housed her parent company.

She was welcomed in and debriefed on her time away, as was SOP. She requested some special gear, feeling like everything was going to come to a head soon. She got a new comm set (full battery charge, they had to be individually plugged in). And after a loud shouting match with the quartermaster, she obtained a waterproof under suit, which she felt better about.

She asked for all information on the acronym that Arc's daughter had spit out. She got a lot of 'classified' warnings that came back at her. She took all she could on a data-scroll. And packed her bags. Ann was going to stay at the mansion it appeared, and until things came to a head, Mira wasn't going to leave her a lome for anymore time than she already had.

Present day

Mira was now situated back in her room, with extra clothes and ammunition, along with one or two palmer explosives. Just in case.

She heard Ann's idea,

"Do you want some company on the way there?" Mira had hoped to get an idea of what was going on. Maybe Ann had gleaned something while she was away.


Ann's large ears perked in response to Mira's request to accompany the young 'keeper and Ann turned to face her with a delighted smile. "Y-yes! I would enjoy that very much! I could use the extra arms to be honest." Ann smirked as the former urchin's tail tilted into the jackal/rat's hand. "Two hands and a tail can only get so much ya know?"


Sov was leaned up against one of the walls with his arms crossed. His new armour had been polished this morning, a reflection of the room could be seen on the large chest piece. His oversized springer rifle was slung across his shoulders. He looked up at Arcanas.

"Not really, if you have some free time later then id like to talk about a few things"

He looked at Ann and Mira and listened to them before pushing himself from the wall and uncross-ing his arms.

"I'd like to come along too if you dont mind, I could use the fresh air, and i'll carry everything if you want."

Sov wasnt worried about the two of them going out, especially not Mira, she was carrying more weapons than he was. Even though he never carried more than his knife, pistol, and rifle, but that wasnt the point.


"Alright than. You guys can go ahead. But I'll have Luna to follow along just in case. As for free time, I'm free for the whole day. So what would you want to ask me about?"

As Arcanas wait's for an answer, Elena flew out of the kitchen and lands on his head as she rest on him.

"Nyaaa..."


Ann's eara folded back nervously as suddenly the chore became a group event. The young jackal/rat chuckled nervously. "S-sure you are all welcome to come I'd like the company. It's not gonna be real exciting or anything just a couple personal things. . . Maybe the box. . . Just in case I need it later." Ann smiled shyly and stood up from the couch, walking towards the door and pausing there for the rest of the group to gather up. "It's a little bit of a walk I hope none of you mind. . . I'll lead."


F*cking amazing. Mira thought sordidly. What she had hoped to be some alone time outside of the house the arrogant ******* and his two person harem lived in. She almost could deal with Sov, the desert dweller kept to himself, and probably would have been good backup. The harem girl however, had decided to come upon her master's bidding.

Just wonderful. Mira half considered holding up to change into her armor, but she decided to remain in her grey hoodie and jeans she wore, her springer pistol easily visible on her hip. She had also considered taking one explosive, but figured it was unnecessary, and probably a pain to conceal. She sighed inwardly and followed Ann's lead, hoping that Sov and Luna might get caught up in talking so she could have a bit to ask Ann some questions.


Ann stepped just outside the door and took a deep breath. The sweet fragerances of nature and the outdoors filling the jackal/rat's senses and making the young 'keeper sigh happily. The former urchin spun 'round and smiled to everyone inside. "I'm just gonna start off towards box now. We'll be going slow and headed west so you should be able to catch up okay." Ann waved to all the other 'keepers and slipped out the door, catching Mira by the hand and pulling her out as well setting a slow pace for the others to catch up to as soon as they were able.

Once the two were a few feet away and outside the house Ann's golden eyes shifted towards Mira, filled with concern. "Inside you looked a little disappointed . . . Is everything alright Mira. . . I-I know its not my place to ask but if you need t-to talk about anything I'm here."


Luna was coming too? Sov hadnt really planned on bringing a whole lot of attention to Mira and Ann leaving, he would apologise when he got the chance. He walked up to the door after Ann and Mira left and opened it before stopping and looking at Arcanas.

"Lets just say its stuff you might find interesting. I'll explain when we get back"

Sov exited the house and began a slow pace a few feet behind Mira and Ann. He needed to sort a few things out in his head and figured that they may want to talk in private, he was curious what Luna was going to do though. He called out to Ann and Mira infront of him.

"Hey, im going to lag behind you guys so you can talk, give me a call if you want me to walk up there next to you guys."


Mira let Ann pull her out of the house, glad to see the smaller girl happy. She also noted how Sov was smart enough to see how she had wanted to talk to Ann, and had backed off. It was better than a certain arrogant ******* she knew. She looked to Ann when she brought up Mira's disappointment. Mira sighed,

"I was just a tad annoyed that this became s group idea, I though I wasn't going to get a chance to talk with you, without Arcanas or his minions listening in." She gestured for them to keep moving, as Sov wasn't too far behind, but enough for him not to be able to hear them.

"I.. Was worried about you. I looked up that organization Destania shot at us and his name. I ended up with many files just marked 'classified'. This man has an ulterior motive for you and the rest of us, I just know it. Someone with that kind of a background can't possibly be safe." Mira did recognize the irony, her a trained killer, crass, short tempered, while Arc was a smooth talking man with a mansion. It was annoying to say the least.

She looked away from Ann for a moment. Thinking hard about what she said next,

"I don't think you are safe with Arcanas. I wouldn't stay."


Zoe's ears flicked as she watched Sov leave the house. She gave a soft sigh and rubbed her eyes. She hadn't been away from home ever this long in her life. She stood up and made sure Puddles and Steamer where on her shoulders before turning to Arcansas. "I'm going to do a small little errand for myself. I'll be back tonight." She finished and didn't wait for an answer from Arc, as she flipped up her hood and walked down the steps, walking out the door and down the road.

Zoe knew where she was all along. She glanced around warily, before walking down the oddly quiet and empty street that she called home. She glanced over at Mia's house, which had no lights on and the blinds where shut. Zoe was puzzled. Mia's blinds where always up, and usually music played from her bedroom.

She quickened her pace to the end of the street, and she hurried into her small two bedroom house. She slammed the door shut and leaned against it, taking a relaxing breath. She slid down to the floor, and pulled her hood down, glancing around at her cold dark house. Zoe shivered and stood back up, walking to the living room. She started a small fire, and walked down the hallway, into her bedroom. Without any hesitation, she flopped onto her bed, and gave a sigh of relief. "Home."


Ann nodded as the younger 'keeper listened to Mira profess her concerns and flushed red with embarrassment and gratitude. "Th-thank you for being so concerned, I-I'm fine though I promise. Honestly? I figured someone like Arc had to have some sort of history he wasn't telling us but really he's been so kind to us thus far. . . But m-maybe your right." Ann admitted looking sullenly at the ground as they walked.

"I really don't have anywhere else to go though even if I did want to stay somewhere else. . . Well other than back to box I mean." The jackal/rat glanced back to make sure Sov wasn't following to close and smiled at him when the two made eye contact before turning back to Mira. "But honestly. I-I think we can trust Arc. I mean look at all of us this is such a random assortment. . . I c-can't possi-bly figure out what he'd possibly need us f-for." Ann confessed. "B-besides Umbra. . . " the young 'keeper look up at this point and Ann immediately stopped dead as the 'keepers big golden eyes narrowed and the jackal/rat's whole body began to tremble violently as a steady realization occurred of where the young distracted 'keeper had accidently stumbled into. "W-w-we h-h-have to g-go back."


After everyone has left. Luna followed them out the door as Lathena walked up to Arcanas.

"You think they will go along with it?"

"Maybe. But only one way to find out."

Lathena sat next to Arcanas and lay back on the couch.

"Someone has been trying to get into our files. More specificity. Yours. I got a hunch on who it is."

"The Merc? Why am I not surprised?"

"Just as long as the file marked D.T is not open we should be alright."

"Knowing her. She will try and force it open. Just be prepared for her outburst."


Outside


Luna catches up with the rest and kept her distance between Mira and Ann when she notice the two up ahead are slowing down.

"Hm... wonder what is happening?"

She walked up to them.

"Something the matter?"


Sov had been constantly maintaining the gap between himself and the two 'keepers up ahead. He hadnt been paying much, if any, attention to Luna. He had actually forgotten that she was with them until the two up ahead suddenly slowed down and Luna walked up to them. Sov walked up to the three 'keepers. He noticed Ann was shaking and was about to place a hand on her shoulder when he decided not to so as to avoid any backlash from Mira. He took off his helmet and looked at Mira.

"Whats going on?"


Mira sighed,

"I can't take responsibility for you, you're older than I think I see you, but I still think-" She was cut off by Ann's sudden change in attitude. It was a sure sign that something related to her past, something bad. Her mind went into 'threat search mode' she set a hand on her springer and scanned the nearby area with emotionless blue eyes.

She noted Sov and Luna appearing. Sov was smart and wearing a helmet. She looked to Sov,

"You, fall back, I don't want us all surrounded, and your big rifle is proof enough of your competen-cy." She then turned to Ann,

"Where are we exactly? Why is it so bad?"


Ann shook from head to tail as the others prepared themselves for the worst. It took a few seconds but eventually Ann was able to muster up the courage to speak again. "M-Mira. . . remember how I told y-you about wh-who I used t-t-to be? The gang I used to b-be a part of?" Ann swallowed hard and glanced around nervously as the'keeper took a few steps backwards. "W-well I guess old ha-habits die hard. . . I took the o-old route box. . . R-right through their territory. . . This is m-my old gang's street. . ." Ann shuddered and pointed to a building just a few worn out homes away, finger trembling and tears welling up in the young 'keeper's golden eyes. "And that's the head quarter's bar. . . Th-that's where Ricky will b-be. We've got to g-go. I'm not w-welcome here a-anymore if anyone see's us. . . They'd kill me. . . And same to my friends. . . Or worse. . . L-let's just go there's another route. . .


Zoe sat up and glanced around her dark, shadowy bedroom. It felt good to be home. Zoe slipped off of her bed and onto her feet, before wrapping herself in a warm blanket, and walking down the hallway into the kitchen.

The fire suddenly went out. Zoe poked her head around the wall of the kitchen, and stared at the fire. It was just burning, just a few seconds ago. Zoe shivered and walked back over to the fire. She started it up again, after 5 minutes, and then she went back into her kitchen.

She started up some coffee, and something screeched from the hallway. Zoe jumped 5 feet into the air, and she fell over onto the floor, covered in her warm blanket. Trembling, she stayed on her stomach, her heart pounding in her chest and in her head.

Zoe gave a shaky breath and she crawled on the floor, peering down into the hallway. Puddles was standing there, hissing at the closet. She growled and then scratched at the door.

Zoe twitched her ear, and then went back onto her stomac, sliding across the floor. She peered under the crack into the hallway closet, and opened the door. Steamer shrieked and launched out, onto Puddles.

Zoe rolled her eyes, and relaxed standing up. She let Steamer and Puddles play fight, as she went back to her kitchen. She grabbed her coffee mug, filled it with coffee and sipped it.

She swept the blanket around her, and she walked into the living room. she sat down on the sofa and turned on the tv.


Luna walked up to them just in time to hear Ann talked about her past and wanting to take a detour.

"How about just one of us go in and grab your stuff while you and the orhers wait here? We will get less attention that way."


Sov looked at Mira and nodded. He placed his helmet back on and unslung his rifle while quickly sprinting away and crouching behind a pile of garbage, it wasnt much but it was better than nothing. He loaded the rifle and rested it ontop of a piece of wood and waited. Mir popped out from behind his head and slowly crawled onto his shoulder and looked around, her ears perked.

"Let me know if anyones coming up behind us."


This last couple of weeks had been...eventful, to say the least. That was in the past, though. There was no use dwelling over that sort of stuff when the future still held so much importance. If he was being honest, Soren didn't really mind being away from home too much, anyway. He was used to going on little expeditions for the purposes of his work in geology, so this was no big shock to the system for him. As long as he had music, some good quality fermentae and a few ways to be productive with his time, he was all set for the long road.

Soren smirked a little as he scrolled through one of the many playlists of songs he had on his datas-croll. He had just watched Arcanas send Luna out with Ann, Mira and Sov and it struck him as quite amusing how Arc needed to get someone to follow their movements. Maybe it was just him who found it amusing. Ah well.

"Arc! I didn't know that you had adopted a more dictatorship-type regime of needing to follow everyone since I last saw you!" Soren laughed softly to himself before continuing to browse the music. It was sarcasm, of course, but if you couldn't recognise that sarcasm, then, well...oh dear. "Honestly, though, Ann's in good hands with Mira. Sov just makes sure of that."


Oh, oh yes. The hideout of the punk gang. It almost sounded like a boxing bell in Mira's head. It was time to let loose her anger at everything lately. From Ann's story, to her pain at the hotel being brought up again, things were about to even out.

Mira looked at Ann's shaking form, and looked to Luna.

"Think you can gimme some backup?" she said, trying to see past her preconceptions of Luna. Now was not the time for petty differences. She looked back over to Ann, and said,

"No. This ends here. If we don't take care of this now, it won't ever go away. The pain will always be reopened as long as you have something to fear. What does Ricky look like?" The last part was part of Mira's plan that she was hatching in her brain. While she waited for Ann and Luna, she undid her springer-belt, and pocketed it. She then put the springer behind her between her and the waistband of her pants, concealed.


Arcanas chuckled after hearing what Soren said.

"Both are carrying weapons and Mira has a short fuse and will more likely shoot someone than to talk things over. That's why I have Luna following them."


Else where


When Mira asked for back up Luna looked at Ann who is trembling in fright than at Mira.

"I'll advice getting Ann out of here first before we try anything. If she stays someone might use her to their advantage. Once she is out, we don't have to worry about holding back."

She turns to Ann and took out her data scroll.

"Ann? Can you give me his full name please?"


Mira's head snapped up quickly and angrily.

"That was what came next. Don't think I'm not aware, I've probably done more protection gigs in the last three years than you've even thought about."

She tossed a hand back noncommittally. In the direction Sov was.

"The desert dweller's smart, Ann, when we go in there, I want you to hang back with him." Mira knew that the harem girl was trying to take control, and she would have none of it. This was her element. She glanced around, then gestured for them to walk back towards where Sov had concealed himself.

"Keep moving, we've been standing for too long in the center of the street as it is." She looked to Ann.

"Don't worry, Luna and I will take care of Ricky."


Ann's ears sprung forward from their former pressed back postion as the young 'keeper looked around in disbeleif as everyone seemed to be preparing to storm the beaches. "Wh-what?!? No! Absolutely not! You're all very tough I'm sure b-but those are real criminals especially Ricky. . . He's dangerous and . . . and he has a whole massive gang behind him! Y-you'll get yourselves killed!" Ann sighed deeply and shook as the fear rushed through the jackal/rat. "L-look we could just go the long route isnt that much longer. I really appreciate e-everything you're all trying to do butits not necessary. Trust me Ricky is too dangerous to handle. . . And really you wont need to know what Amazis looks like. . . He'll find you if you're on his turf."


Sov watched them talk. He didnt know what they were saying, but when Mira motioned towards him with her hand, he simply gave a nod. He moved his head to look down the sights of his gun and adjusted them slightly then raised his head. It was still quiet, he didnt like that, Sov had heard that some of the city gangs were pretty tough, he doubted they were worse than the bandits out in the Diony though. These guys probably didnt use their powers.

"You hear anything Mir?"

The Ryuu stayed quiet as she tried to listen for movement other than their own. Sov shifted his rifle and adjusted his helmet. They needed to go in soon and kill these guys, Sov didnt want to kneel behind a pile of trash for the entire day.


When Mira snapped and Ann asked them to take the long way Luna signed.

"You may have done more of this type of job than me. But with your anger setting in. It makes me question your actions and if you can get the job done without collateral damage. Our targets are the street gangs and their leader and anyone that wanted to shoot us."

"We can either go in commando style and pray we can make it half way in. Or we can do it the other way. Make it look like it's only you. I'll be hitching a ride in your shadow and will move off once you are inside."

"Or I can scout out the area and we plan after I get enough info on what is happening inside the bar. Or we can follow Anns advice and get out of here."


Mira looked to Ann, slightly confused, but she shook her head and said.

"Look. I kill people for a living. People probably much better organized and dangerous than this gang. Since Luna's backing me up, we'll be fine. And I don't plan on killing him now, I have... Other plans." She stood and looked at Luna,

"Ever question me like that again, and I'll cut off all your fingers. I know what I'm doing. Do as you say, because I'm not stupid, and letting you tag along unseen is probably a good idea."

She started to walk away and said one last thing to Ann,

"Stay with Sov, go to your home and get your things, Luna and I will catch up."

And with that, she turned and walked towards the bar which seemed to loom ominously.

Luna and Mira were at it again. Ann hated when those two fought there never seemed to be any real reason behind it either seeing as the two usually ended up agreeing on what to do anyways. The jackal/rat was about to interject when Mira stated that she had done this sort of thing before and headed off towards the bar.

Ann trembled as a conflict of the mind was battled out in the young 'keeper's head. On one hand Ann never wanted to see that place, the gang, or Ricky ever again. On the other, Ann couldn't let Mira and Luna just throw themselves into harms way. Certainly not while Ann was keeping quiet in the shadows like a scared child. In a moment Ann knew what to do as the former gangster followed Mira and Luna stealthily into the bar.

The inside of the bar was gruff and noisy, stains of all sorts of questionable varieties clung to the plywood the bar seemed mainly composed of. A thick fume of smoke clung to the ceiling from the mettle of smokers assembled throughout the bar. 'Keepers cheered and laugh obnoxiously as members of the gang enjoyed their fermentia and the women that clung to their sides sneering and laughing radicly at the most feeble of jokes and the most exaggerated tales. Ricky himself stood at the back of the bar at his usual pool table, the red weasel/stoat with the amber eyes now baring a few more terrible scars across his chest, spinning tales of his latest conquest to anyone who was sober enough to listen.

As Ann slipped in the bar the frightened jackal/rat glanced around attempting to keep a low profile. The gang was much bigger now than it had been, it seemed as though since Ann left they had en-joyed a golden age. All of Ann's stealth though might as well have been for not because the very moment Ann stepped through the doors a shocked silence swept over the crowd.

The crushing silence quickly attracted Ricky's attention as the gang leader looked on baffled for a moment before smirking and handing off his pool cue to another quickly jumping a table and leaping directly in front of the group. "Well, well, well this is a surprise I honestly never expected to see you again kid." Ricky sneared and slipped around Mira wrapping his arm around a terrified and shaking Ann. "I thought I made myself clear before but maybe I need to clarify." Ricky then looked Mira over and licked his. Lips and gave a deviously charming smile. "I gota say though you did bring a tasty looking piece as a peace offering." Ricky removed himself from a tearing up Ann and reached out to Mira. "Names Ricky an pleasure to have you here fluffy." He said with a wink.


Well. That went to hell a lot quicker than I thought. She thought furiously for a quick second, on how to keep Ann safe, kill Ricky, and keep the group from getting into an ugly fight. It occurred to her in a split second, just as Ricky spoke.

She resisted the temptation to flinch when he said 'fluffy'. If this was going to work, she would have to play the part perfectly. Since he was focusing on Mira right now, she prayed Luna would keep an eye on Ann. She cast Ricky a seductive look, easily achieved by her blond hair and bright blue eyes.

"Oh, now she's not bringing me here. It's the other way around." She sidled up closer to him, "I had heard that someone like you would be happy to have a certain someone back for punishment. And I thought, 'why not give a real man something he wants." She leaned closer to his face, breathing huskily, "Anything, he, wants."

Mira's plan was crude and simple, but preyed on some of the strongest desires a man could have. Since the ******* had immediately accosted her, it meant he was interested. If she could pull off the 'lusty *****' routine, she could get him to a room before he had a chance to do anything with Ann. But she knew the likelihood of Ann not being dealt with was low.

Luna, you better be on the ball with this one.


"Deep breath, Deep breath"

Sov kept repeating the words in his head as he lay on the low roof of a nearby building. He had seen Ann sneak away with the others and quickly positioned himself on a low hung roof that had a direct view into the bar thanks to a small window. He saw Mira, Ann, and Luna, they all seemed to be fine. He unslung his rifle and opened the bolt, pulling a large springer cartridge from his belt and loading it into the chamber.

"Seventy Caliber, Armor Piercing cartridge.....home made"

He whispered under his breath as he crawled farther along the roof. He had never really used his power before, but he figured that now would be a good time to try since he was only 50 or so feet away from the window. Luckily the roof was red which allowed his halo to blend in to the back-ground, he was completely invisible from the front.

"I really need to ask Mira for her comm channel after this.."

He balanced the rifle on his left forearm and looked down the scope, he placed the crosshairs right ontop of a man that was talking to Mira and holding onto Ann. He wouldnt shoot unless the guy made a bad move.


Zoe set her mug down and shut off the TV. It turned off with a flash and Zoe stared at the blank black screen for a few minutes before standing up and walking to the kitchen. She set her mug down into the sink with a heavy sigh.

She swept herself down into her bedroom and watched as Puddles and Steamer slept on her pillows. She smiled and set the blanket over them before grabbing her coat and walking back down her hallway.

She reached the back door and opened it, shutting it quietly, so she wouldn't wake up Puddles and Steamer.

Turning around, she gazed at her small flower garden that lines the fence. There where no flowers in it, but it was going to be spring soon, so that would mean time to plant flowers.

Zoe brushed snow off of a lawn chair and plopped into it. She leaned her head backwards and stared at the trees that where in her yard. She shut her eyes for a few seconds for some peace and quiet.

Something covered her mouth and Zoe's screams where muffled. She was dragged out of her lawn chair, and dragged into darkness.


Luna slips into Miras shadow and followed her into the bar and jumped to Anns shadow to keep close to her. While she waited and watched she sends a message to one of the members requesting for his help. He replyed back and ask for the time and she said today. The reply end with "See you later. I hope you still have the stomach for it."


A sudden flash of recognition crossed Ricky's amber eyes as he smirked widely as Mira charmed him, "Well you're right fluffy I have been looking for Ann for a long time and i can't say how grateful I am for it. I'll have to think of some way to pay you back. Perhaps in private? With a 'real man?'" The red weasel/stoat then slid a hand down slapping Mira on the *** lustily.

The slap cause Ann to flinch and whimper at what was being done to Mira and Ricky did not miss that, not on his lucky life.

In a moment Ricky spun around from Mira and grabbed the poor jackal/rat's long tail and pulled hardly, nearly making the hapless 'keeper fall over and forcing Ann to yelp loudly, tears now cascading from the jackal/rat's golden eyes. "But I have any idea. Why don't you join us kiddo? Just you, and me, and fluffy here, a private party for the what do ya say?"

Ann whimpered as the tears began to come and the gang around the group began to laugh at their leader's display of dominance egging him on as the women smirked cruelly and began turning to one another whispering vile rumors and sneering at the poor creature as their leader smiled sadistically and pulled once again, roughly on Ann's tail this time dropping the terrified 'keeper to the floor and speaking over the young urchin's panicked apologies and pleas for Ricky to stop which only served to further incite his cruelty as he began to drag a bawling Ann towards the back of the bar as Ann clawed at the floorboards to get away and Ricky waved for Mira to follow. "Come now kiddo don't be such a tease you remember last time how much you loved it, you were screaming so loud I was worried what the neighbors would think and look, now we've got a whole new friend to share it the fun!"


It was excruciatingly painful to see Ann treated this way, Mira would have to make it all up to her when they got out of this, preferably alive. She couldn't spare a kind look to Ann now however, not when they were so close to the critical part of the plan. Mira turned her burning rage into a look of unrestrained lust,

"Oh, baby, I looovveee a man who takes control." She followed dutifully, swaying her hips seductively, just another poesy of the act. The next piece she said would hammer home Ricky's idea of which side she was on,

"So what's you plan for us sexy?" She came up close behind him,

"I'm dying to know." She was close enough to lick his ear slightly. It tasted terrible, and she immediately wanted to wash her mouth out, but anything to solidify her position. She hoped Ricky had a private and quiet room, and judging by his demeanor, that was probably the case.

She considered letting Ann kill him. Once Mira got a hold on him, Ann could do what she wanted. Either way, Mira was not going to let him get away with calling her 'fluffy' time and time again. He would be dead, even if it meant killing his entire gang to escape.


Sov watched through the scope as the man jerked Ann around. He flipped off the safety and watched them, his crosshairs on the mans head. As the man dragged Ann off Sov followed him in the scope. They began to near the edge of his line of sight. He would have to move if he was to support them.

"Come on guys, lead him back into the open..."


Luna was watching all this and was tempted to lash out but she kept her calm as she knows how Rick will suffer a fate worst than death when they get him to where her friend is.


Ricky shuddered with ecstasy at Mira's tongue flitting across his ear followed by a chorus of "ow-wwwww's" and "whoooooo's" from the jeering gang members around them. Ricky smirked and kicked open a back door which lead to a suave room with a large plush red bed with golden metal railings. "Ohh I'm sure I can think of something you smokin hot tail." Ricky chuckled and waved to the crew as he dragged Ann who was now having a hard time breathing through all the panicked gasps and silent tears streaming down the jackal/rat's face. "Keep my tab open when I get back we'll decide what to do with Ann here."

PM Offline
DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 2:09am
The crowd cheered their leader as he disappeared with Ann and Mira into the back room which was sound proofed. Dragging Ann into the room and slamming the door behind them, Ricky then through Ann face first onto the bed and quickly made to handcuff the helpless 'keeper to the metal railings of the bed and jeered the hyper ventilating jackal/rat endlessly. "Now lay on yer stomach like a good kid you know you're only good from the back anyways. I'll get yer hands don't wanna make the same mistake as last time do we now?" Ricky chuckled and indicated to some of the most horrible scars on his chest the waving over to Mira. "Okay fluffy you take your clothes off and stand above Ann I got some ideas I wanna play out."


Mira smiled when the door clicked shut. Even though it was meant to restrain Ann, the handcuffs were quite useful in keeping her out of the way for the moment. Mira walked over to Ricky, her stance drastically changed to look confrontational, the last few steps she lunged and her fist con-nected with Ricky's skull.

Mira wasn't done, speaking in between follow up punches, she talked with barely contained rage.

"I'm sorry, I have other plans." Thud!

"You see, I didn't say HOW I knew Ann." Thud!

"She told me about you!" Thud! She paused for a moment, then yelled,

"And DON'T CALL ME FLUFFY!" Thud! Ricky currently dazed at the very least, she spoke aloud,

"Luna, get Ann out of those cuffs." She walked back a step and pulled out her springer pistol, leveling it at the *******'s head.

"Move, and your cleaning ***** gets to wipe your brains off the wall."


As Ann trembled in the bed, frightened but relieved Ricky spat blood on the floor struggling with his heavy injuries. His face was swollen and bleeding, he looked like a real mess. But suddenly Ricky smirked and said only one single word, "Mistake."

In an instant a red halo formed above the 'keeper's head nd his pupils turned into clocks each set to 12 but quickly flipping to 11 as everyone in the room suddenly found themselves moving in reverse, 30 seconds, before Mira had begun to pummel the ever loving crap out of the weasel/stoat, though oddly he maintained his injuries throughout the playback. The instant time restarted itself Ricky through himself out the door and slammed it behind him then let out a loud whistle that broke the noise of the bar as three patrons stood and walked towards the door.

Ricky slumped against the door and sputtered, among other things, these words. "Ha! Little fluffy ***** think you're so smart. Well you can see how much of an idiot you are now. . . You don't know anything hell you don't even know anything about Ann that much is apparent from our short talk. The sad thing is I'm the closest thing Ann really has to a friend in this world. Because I actually know the kid!" He slipped aside to tend his wounds as his team approached the door. Two short foxes, one blue and one green each with a tight figure and ample chest and each barring a metalic mask with lowing blue slits for the eyes spoke next each in thick northern accents all words soaked with lust. "Looks like you've gotten yourself into a whole heap of mess again Ricky. . . The boss won't be pleased aboot this." The green one said as halo's of yellow formed above the two.

"You might have to be spanked for this one." The other drooled lustily as a gigantic electrical boom-erang formed between the two of them as they grabbed and hoisted it above their heads.

"But not before we give yer friends a good spanking first." They said together as together they whirled the deadly boomerang through the door and through the room sending shrapnel all about before hurling back towards them weaving more destruction in it's wake as it returned back to the waiting arms of its masters.


Mira was totally confused for a small moment as the power took effect. The implications dawned on her just as the boomerang of death approached her. Acting on instinct, she dropped to the ground, drawing her springer. As she was covering from the bouncing electrical death, she aimed her pistol between the legs of the two battle sluts, and fired a shot into Ricky's retreating legs.

You are NOT getting away that easily! The instant the boomerang was headed back she sprang up, priming another shot in her springer, and loosed one in the face of the left assailant. It wouldn't break the armor, but a hunk of metal hitting your headed was sure to disorient a little.

She rushed forward immediately after the shot, plowing there shoulder into the affected vixen, trying to push her off balance.

Ricky gasped in shock and agony as he colapsed to the floor clutching his bleeding ankle and let flow a stream of curses that would have made any mother cry. Crawling forward he roujded up several gruff and bulky gang members to guard him on his way out. Ricky may have been a cruel dreamkeeper but he had somehow managed to secure the true loyalty of his men. As he had done with Ann years ago.

Raver recioled from the shot to her head and was floored by Mira's flying tackle to the ground. She let out a gasp as she hit the floor but had managed to reach an arm out to drag Mira down with her and wrapped her arms around the mercinary pulling her into a close embrace face to face. As Mira struggled against the grasp Raver sighed explicitly and teased, "Aww is someone shy? Don't worry baby I don't bite." The green vixen finished the sentence by headbutting Mira in the skull with her metal mask and pushing heroff as the girl made it to her feet and pulled out a knife, took a moment to take it in questioningly, shook her head and stuck it in the table then waved tauntingly at Mira challenging hand to hand combat. "Bring it *****." She mocked with a flirtatious giggle.

Raven, meanwhile faced down Ann and Luna, Ann still being handcuffed to the bed now that time had reversed. The blue fox stroked the massive electric boomerang in her hands suggestivly and rubbed her whole body against it. "Come on now rat and kitty cat I'm done playing cat and mouse with you. . . let's get straight to the. . . " She then spun the massive deadly boomerang at the chained Ann and punctuated. "CLIMAX!"

Mira grunted as Raver held her in a locked embrace. She pushed away and leveled her gun at Raver's face. She watched the knife plunge into the table. Too bad she was a mercenary. Otherwise she might have taken Raver up on the challenge. She reprimed her pistol again and delivered a second shot close to the same place on the woman's face.

Taking advantage of the slight distraction, she lunged and pulled the knife out of the table, and reprimed her gun. She waved the hand holding the knife forward. There was a window to the left, with a perfect view from the building across the street.

I hope that rifle's not for show Sov.


Luna has to make a split second decision. Free Ann or take the hit? Luna risk it and jumped in and at the same time a bright red flash on top of her head as her body went through a quick shift to armour and strength mode as she yanks the bed frame free with one hand and grabbing Ann with the other as she rolled out of the way just missing getting hit by the boomerang.


Sov took aim at one of the bouncers guarding the man Mira just shot. He wouldve aimed at the girl Mira was fighting but Sov was worried about the blast radius of the round he was using, and he didnt have time to switch to just an armor piercing round. He pulled the trigger and there was a loud crack. A bright blue flash appeared at the end of the barrel and the bullet headed towards the man, a blue glow surrounding it. The window of the bar shattered and the round past Mira and hit the bouncer. The only effect was simply his torso disappearing into a red paste like cloud as the round exploded inside him. The round did as designed and shards of crystal flew out in all directions and cut through other members of the bar along with a small series of electrical shocks. people collapsed throughout the bar and Sov quickly loaded a standard bullet and aimed towards the girl Mira was fighting, waiting for a clear shot.


Raver cursed as she was struck in the exact same spot, it stung like all hell. Clut hingher mask she faced down Mira with a quivering rage as she regained her balance. "Fine then I understand not everyone can always'rise to the occassion.'" She chuckled and dashed back over to her sister just as the boomerang cam hurdling back into their waiting arms, splintering a table along the way and sending large shrapnel scraps back at Ann and Luna.

This time it was Ann's turn to save Luna as the young jackal/rat pulled Luna to the ground dodging the deadly shrapnel which soared around the compsed twins who stood with the electric boomer-ang between them. The two were about to unleash anotuer round of devestating bombardments while Ann and Luna rose to their feet, when their ears perked at the sound of Sov's rifle and Ricky's paniced yelp at the disolving body of his guard and the two cursed in unison, realizing that they were in a poor position if someone from the opposite party was behind them. The two then glanced at one another and nodded then wagged their tails thrice each and suddenly the room seemed to flash purple for a moment. Then suddenly they dashed backwards to where Ricky's guards were and stood back to back lifting their massive deadly boomerang over their heads and thrusting it towards the group.

Ann seemed to react instantly pushing Luna aside with such force that Luna could actually feel the pain of it before hitting the ground as the boomerang whirled just barely over her head. Ann didn't have the time to duck howerver. The blood was everywhere and Ann's figure hit the ground hard, in two peices. Tears still rolling from the keepers eyes.

The only one without a veiw of this would be Sov from his rooftop perch where all seemed well as the boomerang returned to its masters.


The sight of Ann splitting in two cause something in Luna to snap. She has never felt the urge of wanting to kill someone so badly before till now. As her armour starts to starts to change her body structure starts to take on a feral form as her tail splits into there thick bone plated barb tail. Her hands now have 9 fingers each have 2 fingers joined together except the thumb and at the same time claws start to sprout from her fingers and toes. Her body took on a biomechanical look and she is now double her size but still maintains her slender look as her head starts to extended back and slowly flatten out to look like a crown and her mouth area starts to form a line and parts to reveal rows of razor sharp teeth. The final change is in her halo which from red changes to black.

She looks at the 2 foxes and Ricky and lets out a demonic roar loud and powerful enough to shatter glass as it starts to size up her three potential meals.


Mira blinked at the purple flash, but she attested it to Sov's ludicrous gun. She restrapped her gun belt on in the few seconds she had when the two assailants retreated. She slid the knife under it and quickly holstered the gun as the boomerang of death started flying through the room again.

Popping up by the bar, Mira glanced backwards and saw the metal bar which gave bars their names. Bringing her elbow down in the metal tube, and ignoring the sharp pain, she dislodged a four foot section of the bar, which was about three inches in diameter, and held it at her side while she took aim and..

Ann thumped to the ground. Mira felt a pang of emotion then destroyed it, focusing only on the mission, though with a changed objective. Get to the one who can reverse the time. Ricky. If he couldn't do it, she would rip out his spine.

She finished her aim within the split second her mind shifted gears and shot Raver again, as close to the other impacts as she could, she holstered the pistol and stripped off her hoodie, wrapping it about her right hand, and used that hand to grip the metal pole. She advanced then, holding the pole in front of her, ready to give her a second of respite from the damn boomerang.

Her advance was accompanied by the sudden appearance of a freaking monster. Mira kept an eye on it, seeing as Luna had been in that exact same position before

This might just work. She thought, then yelled,

"Kill the *****es! We need the ******* alive! He can save Ann!"


Crack! Sovs gun went off again, this time with a less eventful result due to lack of a special bullet. The round penetrated another bouncer infront of the man that was fleeing, the bouncer collapsed on the ground, a large hole in his chest. He couldnt tell whether the guy Mira was chasing had tripped or not, as Sov was distracted by a large creature, larger than anything even he had seen before, as it rampaged through the bar. He wouldnt shoot unless it attacked Mira, which it didnt. He reloaded another round and swept his crosshairs through the bar, trying to find the man again.


My head hurts like hell...

Umbra was wandering the streets now. He had finished a whole two weeks of tests. His power was spent. On top of this all, he was having nightmares. Life kind of sucked right now. It was all Arc's fault.

Ugh...

He needs a bar. A stiff drink. He was usually against diony, but a stiff fermentae...shayed...that sounded nice right now. Nice and strong. Wandering the street, Umbra walked by what was nick-named "Ricky's Bar." The people there sucked, Umbra knew them all from backstreet information deals (always know where you're drinking). But...it was close and the diony content was higher than legal.

After a quick walk, he was there.

"Sspiritsss..."

He saw much of the aftermath. What was a long battle seemed to be coming to a close. Ricky, power time-turning. His bodyguards all had different combat powers. Danger.

He would have left if he didn't see...the group.


Raver fell right to the ground as the third bullet stuck her, knocking her mask aside and leaving the sister clutching her face in pain. Raven, seeming to realize they were outmatched at the sight of the fearsome beast made a mad dash for the door in a panic, nearly colliding with Umbra, all the patrons began to follow suit, includong Ricky who sprang to his feet and pushed aside several others as he made his way to the door.

Umbra was greeted by a strange scene as inhabitants of the bar fled and body parts lay strewn about the bar. Not to mention the massive beast which now stood at the center of the mess. Gang members struggled and pushed past him, mad with fear. It was utter chaos until the moment another pair of reptilian eyes met his for a breif moment and a green serpent 'keeper in a brown suit walked up to him and shook his head, "Grisly scene isn't it? I can't abide all this violence myself. If you nees to talk about. . . What you've seen here's my card." The 'keeper then shoved an embroideredcard into Umbra's pocket and casually stepped out of the door then seemed to disappear. If Umbra looked at the card later he would see that it wrote in decadent silver on a white background, "Vincent Lee, licensed psychologist." And contained his contact information as well.

Just outside the door of the bar Umbra and Sov would also see a friend of their's from the mansion, standing over Ricky's unconcious body, broken bottle in hand and very much alive. Ann. Panting in exhaustion from a long fight with an old enemy.


Wow. How the hell had he finished off that fermentae so quickly? He'd planned on that lasting him a good while, but...dammit. Honestly, if he knew that Arc had such good drink then he'd have done a lot of things differently. Namely, he would have come here a lot earlier. Soren was never going to tell him that, though, just in case he kicked him out for drinking loads of his best fermentae. That was unlikely. He hoped so, anyway...

Now that everything was so quiet he might be able to get on with something a bit more productive than simply relaxing and listening to music. Soren really did miss his little expeditions out to the edge of Anduruna. There was so much to discover; so many possibilities. Perhaps he could go talk to Arc about what his plans were for the near future. Especially, since, y'know...they kind of involved Soren in them. They also involved everyone else, mind you, but he like knowing things in advance. Anyway, Arc used to be his work colleague! Surely he could spare a detail or two. And if not Arc, then Lathena might be willing to let a few things slip.

"Hey, Arc!" Soren glanced up towards him then back to his data scroll, browsing through it and clos-ing a few things before placing it on the couch next to him. He got to his feet and began talking. "You know me: always love planning in advance for stuff. I was wondering whether you could talk to me about what you've brought us all here for. I mean...more specifically." Soren took a few looks around him. "Mira isn't around right now, so you don't need to worry about her listening in." The Geologist shrugged and stuck his hands in the pockets of his trousers. "So, what do ya think?"


When the enemies broke and ran, Mira dropped her pole and advanced, thanking the fact that underpaid bodyguards didn't have near the dedication or discipline of soldiers. She advanced on the writhing form of Raver. She pulled the knife from her belt.

"Here's your knife back. *****." She shoved it into the keeper's eye socket. (approved by Rift derp) She stood and looked around. There was Ann outside next to Ricky, somehow still alive. Mira decided that someone had used an illusion. She wasn't able to feel any emotion yet, her body was still in full on adrenaline mode. She kept a hand on the grip of her springer and walked next to Ricky and Ann.

"Hey kiddo. You okay?" She asked, her eyes flicked to Umbra, of course, who else would it be but the slimy lizard? She tossed a glance into the bar.

"You might wanna figure out how to calm Luna down, 'cause I'm not going in there unless you pay me."


Arcanas was playing with Elena when Soren asked about the gathering.

"You read heard the news lately about the murder? I suspect that it was a certain something. But Umbra confirmed it for me when he saw the killer itself. We are dealing with a nightmare."

At the Bar

Luna looked around for the two foxes when she saw one making a run for the exit. She shot her tail towards her and wrapped around her waist and pulled her back towards her and slams her face first into the wall behind her with enough force to break the wall. She than pulled her back and used both tails to part her legs. She grew another tail as it pulled back and was rammed into the foxes ******, through her body and out her mouth.


Umbra sighed. This was, probably, Mira or Luna's fault. He was no stranger to the bloodbaths that followed them, and the coverup that always followed.

All he had wanted was to get drunk. Now a girl was in half, the tavern-goers had seen power usage. And a lot of it. And now a few girls were being beaten to death by a mutated 'keeper that is probably Luna.

Blood sprayed as Luna did what some gore lovers only fantasize about. "Luna. You're acting impul-sive again. I thought you got over this." Umbra screamed up at the giant.

She was supposed to be the subtle one. There were HUNDREDS of powers she could have chosen. THOUSANDS maybe, and she had to choose THIS ONE. The lizard wasn't even sure that this was possible to cover up anymore, but he would have to minimalize damage.

But how? His power wasn't suited for this. He had nothing on him save for the Lucre to buy a few drinks!

"LUNA. CALM THE F*CKING NETHER DOWN. YOU ARE NOT A BRATTY TEENAGER ANYMORE. YOU HAVE ENDED LIVESSss THAT CAN NEVER BE REPLACSssED. YOU RUINED A PERFECTLY GOOD BAR. YOU HAVE RUINED MY DAY. MIRA. I ORDER YOU TO SHOOT THAT MUTANT IN THE FOOT. MAKE SURE YOU GET BEHIND ME. MAKE HER LOOK AT ME."


Mira thought Umbra was crazy, but then she saw what was left of Luna ream a dreamkeeper through the middle.

And she worried about ME losing control. She figured the monster wouldn't be too thrilled about the shot to the foot, Mira decided to drag Ann and Ricky away immediately after she fired and get them behind the insane lizard as quickly as possible.

"For the record, this seems like a worse idea than coming here in the first place." She aimed and fired, her last in the clip as it was, she quickly reloaded and grabbed Ann by the collar, and Ricky by the scruff of the neck. Heaving, she dragged them both despite whatever protest might be made a few feet behind Umbra,

"Right lizard boy, ready to die?"


After ramming the tail through, Luna pulled the tail out as she grab both end of the body and tore it in two. She threw the top half away as she uses her claws to dig out the ovaries and started to snack on them when Mira fired a shot at her foot which just ricochet and went into a nearby wall due to the armour plating.

Luna looked in the direction of the four keepers as she finished up her snack and her form changes to a more humanoid and is now standing on two legs as she threw the lower half of the foxes body away and said in a voice of Luna and an unknown female.

"My my... what do we have here? The main course? Or is it the appetizer?"


"Luna," he said, ignoring everything she had just said. "How would you like to play a game?" He was flipping a coin up and down. "You're clearly still at least...partially here. I feel there is a need to detain you. A strong one. So, if you say yes, and change back to normal, then we won't play. If you say no and stay the way you are, then I'm afraid that the game must go on."

"What'll it be?"



Ann couldn't help but vomit at the terror the thing that was Luna inflicted on the girl. Even as the illusion completely faded from the room and Ann's "corpse" disappeared from existence and the "battle sluts" were revealed as a random bouncer guarding Ricky before his attempted escape and what was left of Raven was revealed as one of the various helpless bar hussies, the wolf 'keeper didn't even stand a chance, the twins had made their escape after the tail wag, it was now clear that this was a sign to an accomplice that it was time to ditch, the fake dead Ann was a distraction an thefleeing to the rest of the bodyguards was a hat trick to switch places with two others, Ricky seemed to be the only one unable to accomplish his escape since ann was knocked out a window by the blast from the boomerang shot that knocked Luna to the side and thus put the jackal/rat outside the illusions radius. It did give Ann the perfect opportunity to confront and beat the living crap out of Ricky.

Ann made to straighten out as Luna stared the group down and deep down somewhere Ann felt a pang of courage that made the young jackal/rat call out to Luna from behind Mira, "Luna. . . This is Ann you remember me? Luna you're my friend but you have to calm down now or. . . We'll. . . " Ann's fists clenched and the jackal/rat cried out, "Or we'll have to kick your ***!"


It chuckled when given the choice of a game or them kicking its ***.

"Just for your information. I'm not the girl you refer to as Luna. She's the host body. I'm just the source of her power. As for kicking my ***.... well... do you want to give me the reason to start first? And for changing back.... well... why not do it on my terms?"

It's armour starts to slide away to reveal Lunas naked body as she lay on a nearby table with her legs apart.

"Make me scream for you and I might just give her back to you."

She than used her finger to backen Umbra.

"Come on. I won't bite. Hard."


Okay. In hindsight moving down from the roof probably wasnt the best idea, as Sov noted to himself as a large nightmarish creature rampaged through the bar. Sov had walked up behind Umbra without anyone else seeming to notice. Sov held his rifle in his hands and had it pointed towards the creature, one of his special rounds loaded in it. He looked at Umbra as he shouted at the...thing.

"Sir, if you dont calm down whatever...that thing is, im going to have call in a sleeper cell from my old friends to put it down, and that wont be pretty."

He noticed Mira, Ann, and that other scumbag on the other side of Umbra. Sov slung his rifle on his shoulder and walked over to them. He placed a hand on Miras shoulder and checked her for any major wounds before giving her a thumbs up and turning his attention to Ann.

"Hey kid, great job beating the crap out of this guy!"


Umbra was texting Arc in his back pocket while she talked. He was pretty good at not making typos, but what was sent to Arcanas was:

"Girlfriend, stark ravinmad. Come to Ricky Bar 12 hoursfrom send of mesage"

He took the data scroll and threw it on the ground. Then he looked at Luna's naked body.

"I don't like playing games on other people's terms, especially not sex games; and if you were Luna, you'd know I'd been over the idea of getting in her pants for years."

And he snapped his fingers and they entered the void world. But it was different this time. Everyone was stuck in place for a while, and Umbra just rambled off the rules at light speed. No one could understand them.

Then he sat there.

"Power Source, he said. "Let's have a civil chat." The only people left in the vicinity were Mira, Ann, Sov, the monstrosity...and Ricky. "I don't do the ***-kicking thing. I'm not very good at it. But I am good at the whole mind games thing, and self-control thing."

"So before I go over the rules of this game...let's all talk. I might like to add trying to kill anyone in this world will result in the winner being able to take whatever they want from the losers. And by killing, you are automatically a loser. If we can come to an agreement...then I won't have to force one."


Ann nodded in reponse to Sov who approached from behind and smiled bashfully holding the re-mains of the bottle for a moment longer before tossing it aside. "Yeah. . . T-thanks. . . I kinda had a lot of issues to work out with him. . . That helped but histime shifting was a huge pain." Ann chuck-led and nudged Ricky with a foot.

When Ann looked up next Ann's face erupted into a bright red and a fountain of blooderupted from the young 'keeper's nose at the sight that lay before the group. Ann had never seen something like that before and the modest jackal/rat was not entirely ccomfortable with these moments. After a long incomprehensible series of stutters and slips Ann wiped away the blood and stammered, "U-umbra won't do that y-y-you THING!!!" Still blushing furiously and attempting to aviod all eye contact with the subject matter.

The task was made much easier as everyone was transported into Umbra's game. Ann was baffled at what had just happened, the young 'keeper had never experienced Umbra's power before so this was all new to Ann. Right as Ann was about to ask what had happened Umbra began to get into the basics of the game. Ann breathed a sigh of relief. No killing, Ann was good at the talking part maybe they could get somewhere now. The jackal/rat smiled at Umbra with pride at his staunch turning down of the beast's request. Umbra was a good, fair man Ann had no doubt of that now.


Mira jumped at the sudden scene change, she barely heard the quick run-through of rules. But the blankness, the rules, Umbra, the game..

"Arg!" She held her left hand to the side of her head, a migraine cropping up to full strength within a minute. It was like a crazy sense of deja-vu, with an *** kicking of fermentae to go along with it. She growled and asked Umbra,

"Hold on, where the hell are we? *rrrg* I missed that bit." She stole a glance towards Ann and saw her bloody face, judging that it was only a bloody nose, Mira left herself in between Ann and what was left of Luna.


"We're in a Soulspace made by all of us. As a result, it's kind of chaotic."

Umbra was standing in a corner in his "slice" of the space, filled by the green field. Everyone else had their own slice that represented their own person soul, but they were all linked by the round table that Umbra had summoned.

Luna, or what was left, was at the other end of the table looking at Umbra a clear ten feet away.


Sov was unmoved by their transfer back into Umbras game space. He knew the rules and so he simply slung his rifle on his shoulder, sat down, and took off his helmet.

"I can work with no killing, but I hope you dont expect me to talk a whole bunch."

He was comforted by the familiar sand underneath him as he watched to see what was going to happen.


As Arcanas was waiting for Sorens responses he received a message on his data scroll and opens it. When he saw the message he puts the data scroll away.

"Soren. How would you like to visit a bar?"


Else where


With Umbra done explaining the rule and what not, it slides off the table as the armour plating started to form again.

"Aw... your no fun..."

It sat on the chair and waited.

"You know... as bad as it seems your lucky your handling me and not him. He on the other hand will just kill anything and everything rather than to sit and chat."


"Oh, I didn't say you couldn't kill me," Umbra mused, "I'm just saying you'd fail. But who's he pray tell?"



Mira's pie piece of soulspace was nothing special to look at, just the same patch of ground she had been standing on before the game had started, though the area held no emotional value to her. She had focused on it whilst trying to contend with Luna and Ricky. There was a small camping chair which she sat in, holding her head in one of her hands, the migraine persisting.


So history wasn't lying after all. There had to be some explanation to the findings he had uncovered: the runes, the ancient structures...everything. He just didn't dare to believe that nightmares were a reality. As a kid he'd heard stories about them, but since then that's really all they had been. Fictitous. Soren took a few moment to take in this new information and stared down at the floor beside Arc during this time, seeming to stare into nothingness.

He was brought back to reality when he was asked a very odd question. "A bar?" Soren chuckled and shook his head a little. "No thanks. I know you; there's obviously something going on there if you asked that question at this time. Besides, someone needs to look after this place whilst you're gone and I doubt Lathena would be able to cover the whole place." The wolf gestured to Arc with both palms facing him, giving off a stand-offish vibe "So I'll let you get on with it. Thanks for the offer, though."

Soren's thoughts were suddenly jerked back to Arc's original statement

"What disturbs me is the talk of these Nightmares..." He trailed off and then fixed his attention back onto Arcanas. "It was only a matter of time. I knew I was onto something!" He took a few looks around him, as if to check that no one was eavesdropping on them. "Listen...I need some evidence to back up my theories. You need to show me the last murder scene so that I can try and get something from it." Soren turned on his heels and bounded excitedly over to the couch, picking up the datascroll. "If I actually manage to get this evidence then the Viscount is going to have to come clean! Surely then he'd legalise power use for self-defence!" Soren exclaimed, unable to hold back a huge smile. "So, Arc, can you help me with this?"


After Soren said that he prefer to stay and take care of the house, the dark ryuu came up from be-hind him.

"Mer..."

Arcanas chuckled and stroke her head. But after Soren request that they head for the scene of the latest murder and getting the Viscount involved Arcanas looked at him.

"I said the unit was disbanded. But I did not say officially. We still have access to the usual things and our existence is still denied. So.. you want to head there now or later?"


Ann stood confused at where exactly this game was going but it was nice that the combat had ended at least. The young 'keeper then spared a glance across the area they were in to where Ricky lay and slowly worked his way to his feet blinking heavily. "Ah were the bloody hell am I now? And what the hell hit me?! I want some answers you saps or you're a cruising for a beating." Ricky cracked his knuckles from within his reddened soulspace while Ann growled from the oddly divided soulspace where the 'keeper stood.


Soren swiped through a few programs on his datascroll before turning around to face Arc and react to his question.

"Now? No, no..." He was quick to dismiss the notion that he wanted to go there immediately; he needed preparation time and some decent protection. He knew how to use his power, yes, but it was basically rendered obsolete in an ambush. Only very primitive, reflex defensive powers were available to him if that happened. There was always the temptation to bring along that dark 'Neko which was currently sitting next to Arc, but that would be too much of a risk. Soren couldn't trust it, and he'd prefer to keep this whole thing quiet and very low-key anyway.

"Tonight. Tonight's the best time to do this. Okay, it may be more dangerous, but I can't risk this getting out." Soren shrugged and cracked a small smile, letting both of his arms drop to his side. "And hey, if we get attacked by whatever it is carrying out these murders then I'll get even more data!"


"If you'd have listened while you were unconscious, you'd know you're in my power. You're not the first 'keeper to enter this world who had time powers. Nothing happens if you try. Thought you'd like to know that. Also, don't try to hurt us. You will only end up losing the game.

"So, let's get down to business. This game will be simple. It's called Democracy.

"Metarule: Round-based.

1. Players will receive a slip of paper and pen." One appeared in Umbra's hand at that moment, as well as an elegant looking pen. "On that slip, you will write down the name of another 'keeper here. Once a name is written, it cannot be taken off. Choose wisely. You only have ten minutes to write a name.

2. Once all names have been written, then they will be put into this hat." A fedora appeared before Umbra. "Votes will be tallied. The one with the most votes counted toward them will lose.

3. Before writing names down, players are encouraged to converse.

That is all. Now to state the wagers: I want Luna to return to normal. It is now your turn," he gestured at everyone else at the table, "to ask something. What would each of you want in the case they win this game? Luna is our friend, and, while we may not all like her," Umbra glanced at Mira, "we'd all prefer a shapeshifting slut to a murderous *****. So I expect you all to wager for Luna's return. I don't expect you to do the same Ricky. But I know you know who I am, Umbra Umbrage Arc, and what power I hold over the underworld. Bet with the majority if you want to live. I can't guarantee you won't have the living daylights beaten out of you, though.

"So, how will you all bet?"



Ricky's eyes flashed open wide as Umbra revealed his name. He knew that the lizard was quite powerful with all the right people to back him. Opposing his might not be the best idea but at the same time he knew one or two people here, whom, if the won would most likely want his death, it was a tough decision. "What happens in the event of a tie dealer?" He asked with a growl.


"A good question. A flip of a coin should do, no?" He chuckled. "With all luck, we'll never run into one though?" He winked. He had run the idea through his head. It was unlikely that one would occur, even at the last two. But it was possible. He should have included it in the rules. But then again, leaving that out woudl leave ambiguity.

That was always a useful tool.

There was no such thing as luck.


Mira sighed when she listened to the rules. For some reason the entire process brought forth a blinding headache, and she just wanted it to be over with. She stood, removing her hand from her head and looked pointedly at Umbra when she spoke.

"Despite how I feel about Arc and his sidekicks, I'll be reasonable. I wager for Luna's return to what Arcanas, Umbra, and Lathena consider normal for Her."

She took the piece of paper that had appeared, and wrote a name, taking the strategy available to her. She then said, after sitting at the actual table, now that she was into the game.

"I don't know about you all, but let's vote to get rid of the unpredictable factions, then we will all end up with our wager." She was oddly calm, feeling like she had done this before, the damn feeling of Deja-vu just would f-ing end.


"If that's what you suggest, Mira, the best option would be to vote out Luna first." Umbra said, scribbling a name on the paper.


Sov looked at the paper then at everyone else.

"Not to be selfish, but I again wager for access to all of the armories and workshops inside the mansion, seeing as I lost last time."

He stayed quiet after that and wrote a name down.


Ricky snorted, "Bloody coin toss of course thats your result well fine I know when I'm out played. . . Best be honoring your part of the deal lizard. . . No death." Ricky wrote on his scrap of paper. "My wager is for my safe freedom."

Ann spared a moment to glare at Ricky and sighed, "Honestly I just want everyone to get out of this safe and be back to normal my wager is for normal Luna to come backto us." Ann wrote on a scrap of paper and sighed, "Lets be over and done with so we can all go home safe and sound please."


Arcanas slacks into the couch as the dark ryuu lay next to him.

"I don't think it's still there. The cops went through the area and at the other scenes it never kill at the same place twice."


Else where


Luna sat there and chuckled.

"All you need to do is ask. I'm alot more sociable compared to others of my kind. But here is a warning. Never let him out. If he gets out there is no guarantee that he will want to go back in. I'll be watching you."

As the armour around her body reverts back to normal Luna collapsed on the floor out cold.


"Hmph," Umbra grunted. "That was deceptively simple. But still the game goes on. Luna is incapaci-tated, and can no longer play. It is her own doing, by technicality. The game goes on."

He still noted her words...let him out? Something to ask Arc, later.

"All votes are reset, the first round is over. The second round begins. I vote Ricky. He is still the sneakiest of us and I don't trust my kind."

Umbra scribbled a name on his sheet of paper.


Ricky scoffed at the results and the lizard voting for him openly. "Well no one coulda seen that coming ganging up on the one guy thats not in yer little cuddles club." Ricky shook his head and wrote his vote.

Ann growled at Ricky, "Maybe you haven't considered that it's because you're a heartless rapist Ricky maybe thats why everyone's against you." Ann scribbled the next vote and scowled at the pouting Ricky.


Mira looked between Luna and Ricky, and saw that Luna was no incapacitated. Now that their wager had been completed prematurely, they could now finish the game with very few casting consequences. But first, she had to get rid of the gang leader.

She wrote down her vote and looked with a cold glare at Ricky. She couldn't wait for the game to be finished. Her primary objective wasn't finished, she reminded herself, and the idiot would die. Even if he went back in time, Mira was now aware of it, and as such, it would lose it's surprise.

"I vote for Ricky as well, which makes it the majority. I also say we should let Sov win, since his wager will be the only one actually enacted, and I cant see the harm in letting him at Arc's weapon room."


Sov scribbled down a name and looked up.

"I vote against Ricky as well"

Sov was suprised by Miras choice to let him win. He had been planning on voluntarily being the next to go.

"Well, if you guys want then I wont turn you down, but I was planning on losing on purpose so one of you could win...."


"I'll tell you that I can promise nothing. Remember, I can ask Arcanas, and am bound to do so, but that is everything I can do in that regard."


"Let's see...Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, and...oh...me?" Umbra grinned at the sheet of paper. Then crumpled it up. "Nice try Ricky. Be lucky I have a sense of humor. Be proud I know your handwrit-ing." The 'keeper fell over, unconscious though, so he wouldn't hear anyway.

"Well then, if we're letting Sov win then, I vote anyone I want." And he scrawled a name on his paper.


Ann couldn't help but sigh with relief as Ricky passed out on the floor. Finally the jerkwas out and unable to harrass the poor 'keeper anymore. "Well. . . I suppose it really doesn't matter too much who wins at this point so lets just finish up here and go home okay?" Tears welled up in the young jackal/rat's golden eyes thinking aboutthe day as the vote was cast. "I really just wanna lay down."


Mira had nothing to say, she was ready for this whole damn thing to be over so she could take care of Ricky.

"Let's just get this over with." She wrote down her vote.


Sov looked around at everyone else then wrote down his vote.

"agreed"

It would be nice to finally have access to all or Arcanas's stuff. Sov could finally start working on some equipment projects, he wanted to start with getting everyone some armor, the nightmares werent going to just sit there and let them kill them.


Soren's eyes remained firmly fixated on the dark Ryuu's every move. He was both perplexed and curious to know what Arc did to let it grow that big, but he was also wary that it could wander over and decide to bite his head off or something. Yeah, not good. This was exemplified when the Ryuu threw a cold, venomous stare in his direction. The Geologist was quick to avert his gaze to Arc instead of the furry beast in fear of reprimand and, more notably, death. As...unlikely as Soren thought it was, he just couldn't shake that feeling off...

"Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't trust anything until I see it with my own eyes." Soren glanced out of the window for a brief moment. "And for all I know, those claims could be based on nothing more than mere fabrications and lies." He shrugged and made a defensive gesture to Arc. "But hey, that's just what my job involves. I'm not a prick, however much it might seem that way." He smirked nonchalantly and began walking slowly over to the large window on the other side of the room. "So. Long story short, I still want to go. I need to find something. Heck, maybe we can lure what you think is a nightmare. Maybe we can just...lure it towards us. Capture it somehow..."

Soren trailed off as he continued to gaze outside. Both arms were crossed, but he still had the data scroll in his hand. If his mind were a machine, the cogs in that machine would surely be near break-ing point. He had to come up with a plan to capture that thing, whatever it was. It was risky, cra-zy...but the prize...

The wolf looked over his shoulder "Arc, give me some time and I'll come up with something. Trust me on this." He was about to turn away when something else came to mind. He felt it was appropriate to say at this moment. "Oh, and...get that thing a leash or...whatever. It really doesn't look like a socially adept Ryuu."


"And so...one vote Sov, one vote Umbra...two votes--Mira." He said, and the 'keeper hit the floor, rather ungracefully. "Glad to see this diplomacy is going well. I have my vote already placed." He wrote a name on a piece of paper.


Sov winced as Mira hit the floor. He looked at Umbra and scribbled down his vote before letting out a loud sigh and laying backwards into the sand.


As Arcanas listened to what Soren said, a spark ryuu was wondering around the area when it spotted Soren and crawled towards him and starts to sniff him.

"You can be stubborn at times and I have to bail you out of trouble. But I'll go along with you just this once."

When Soren asked about getting a leash for the dark ryuu, she starts to snarl at him.

"Best watch what you say around here. She can understand what we talk about very well. And you might not want to move."

The spark ryuu starts to crawl up Sorens leg as it continues to sniff him.


Ann yelped a little and reached out as Mira hit the floor in a vane attempt to catch her. The jack-al/rat sighed in frustration and wrote a name down on the paper. "Hope its not gonna hurt. . ."


Once the last person signs their name, Umbra falls over, a grin on his face.


Sov was suprised that the game was still going even after Umbra lost, he hadnt really been planning on that. He looked towards Ann and sat up.

"Umm...so what do we do now? I wasnt expecting the game to keep going after he lost..."

Sov hated it when things didnt go as planned.


Ann smiled, "Well I don't really have any stakes in this sooo I could go out next. Honestly I just want to go home and rest. . . Maybe cry a little. odays been kinda rough. . ." Ann scribbled a name down on the paper.


Sov nodded, he knew what it was like to have rough days, and just want to go home and cry. He had done it many times after his parents died. He gave Ann a sad smile and nodded.

"I know what you mean, you just gotta learn to keep your chin up all the time"

He scribbled down a name on the paper, he hoped that she wouldnt take it personally.


As Arcanas sat on the couch entertaining his 2 ryuus he looked at the time and got up. The spark ryuu looked at him and ran towards him and started to paw his leg. Arcanas picked him up and puts him oh his shoulder and looked at Soren.

"I'm heading over to the bar. You want to tag along? It will be a very short visit."


The lizard awoke in the bar area 12 hours later. He was the first of the losers to recover, maybe be-cause his power favored him? Who knew.

"Ugh, so who won?" The lizard said.


The first thing Mira was aware of was that her headache was subsiding. She groaned and started to stand, then her head snapped up as Umbra spoke. Her mind kicked into overdrive trying to reorient itself, and her memory asserted itself. She had lost the 'name game' and now she was at the bar. Not too difficult. She stood and stretched,

"I assume it's either Ann or Sov, though I think Sov is more likely." She looked over to where Ricky lay. She grabbed her springer and stepped over to him, and pointed it at his face, waiting for him to wake up,

"He's not going to give us anymore problems if I have anything to say about it."

------------
Elsewhere:

The wolf smiled and held the door for the old keeper who held a lot of grocery bags,

"Oh, bless you!" She said happily, and half stepped, half waddled through the door. The wolf smiled and said,

"No problem ma'am! Glad to help!" She beamed at him and walked through the door. He let the door swing shut, and he readjusted his duster and hat, going into the blustery day. It was nice not existing. Just about everyone in the city was registered or recorded at some point by the police force, it made their jobs easier, and everyone 'safer'.

The blue-furred didn't have such records existing, according to the shock troopers, he had never been born. It made getting around the law a tad easier, when their primary suspect was for all intensive purposes a ghost. He just had to be careful about what he did and what he picked up.

The wolf made his way casually to a local library, intent on using the free data-scroll service that most libraries carried. He smiled and waved at people as he passed by. If you were nice, people didn't suspect you. Arriving at the building shortly, he made his was efficiently to the desk and examined the scroll, attempting to remember how to use it.

A few minutes crept by until he figured out the device, and he was on his way to what he sought. He was trying to find more about a gang that had been hit some 20 years ago by a hired mercenary company. The searching led him to a few names recorded by the troops. He wrote them down and let the scroll deactivate.

He donated a bit of money at the counter, and left the building, intent on his search.


Ricky came to moments after Mira brought the springer to his face. The 'keeper's amber eyes opened widely as he realized he couldn't get away with his time power it had been too long. "A-all right there F-. . . Erm nice lady? Lets just calm down and set the springer down. No need for violence, what do you want?"

Ann woke up a little bit later, the jackal/rat wiped its golden eyes and streched, blinking a few times before taking a glance around what was left of the bar eventually focusing on Mira and Ricky and getting up off the floor. "M-Mira? You. . . You aren't going to just shoot him are you?" The worn and tired 'keeper wispered.


Sov groaned and stood up shakily, he placed his hands on his face and rubbed his eyes before picking up his springer and looking around the bar.

"Everyone alive?"

He stretched and slung his rifle over his shoulder before placing his helmet back on. He counted the people in the bar before realising that someone was missing, or maybe it was better to say something was missing.

"Guys..wheres Luna?"


As Sov rose from the ground victorious in their little game, the question he posed made all the wearyness vanish from Ann's features to one of simple shock and fear. Luna could be any where and they didn't even knkw if she was still controlled by the beast in which case spirits only know what she could be up to. And of course Ann feared for her safety as well she could be confused and helpless out on the street right now.

Ann glanced around desperately searching for Luna but to no avial. "M-Mira I'd say we have bigger concerns than him right now lets go find Luna before something bad happens."


Mira tightened her grip on the gun, aiming it dead center of the slime's face,

"Truthfully? I want you to be dead. There's not much to change that." She spared a quick glance around the room, and didn't see Luna either. She quickly returned. Her gaze quickly returned to the keeper she was pointing at,

"Why should we care? She's a danger to herself and everyone around her!" she looked Ricky in the eye, and addressed Ann,

"Ill help if you want, but what will we do with him? I can just shoot him now, save us all some trou-ble."


Ann's head shook slowly as Mira spoke, "All the more reason why we have to find her fast before she ends up hurting someone!" The jackal/rat's body trembled at the thought. "A-and we can't just k-kill him.in cold blood. . . He should be turned over to the authorities I'm s-sure they have a warrent out for him by now."

Ricky let out a sigh of relief and relaxed under. The tension of the barrel pointed at him. "Yeah now sweet cheeks lets just put down the springer like the kid says and this will all be over. . . " As soon as thr muscles of the weasel/stoat had relaxed they sprung back to life as he lunged forward towards Mira pulling a pocket knife from.hispants and barreling down on the 'keeper with reckless abandon. And in a flash Ann was upon him with a horrible scream the 'keeper's eyes flashed to breen and for a moment you could swear you saw the fur on the jackal/rat's hand go albinowhite as Ann's claws ripped through the'keepers throat and sent him crashing back to the ground where Ann leapt upon him in a rage howling in otherwoldly and disturbing toans as the jackal/rat's claws came crashing down on him over and over blood flying every which way and now covering the innocent Ann's face as the corpse was mutilated. The slight flicker or a neon halo aas visible above the 'keeper's head.


As Arcanas waited for Sorens answer he sees that is was almost time and excused himself.

Arcanas arrived just in time as Ann snapped and killed Rick. Arcanas his not made his presence known and watch from the shadows. As he watched, he spotted Luna under a pile of ruble and pulled her in to the darkness and took off his coat to cover her nude body.

He brings to a nearby empty building and lay her there before returning to the scene.

"I see things have been dealt with. But the problem now is Ann. If she can't control herself I would have to put her to sleep."


A feral power?

Umbra was deeply disturbed. He had always believed that powers had something to do with the disposition of the 'keeper. What did this say...?

"Good one Ann, dead men tell no tales."

Texting into his data scroll in his pocket, he asked her (for future reference), "did ti hurt?" He was quite certain she kept the data scroll he gave her in her room, and hoped she would get the message later.


Sov was still searching for Luna when he heard the screams coming from Ann, he watched the girl literally tear apart Ricky. Sov stood still, blood splattered all over his armor. With a smooth motion he wiped the blood off of his visor and it splattered onto the floor, the only noise in the bar for a few seconds. He looked around at everybody else before taking a step forward.

"Ann? Its okay now..."

He took another step forward and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. If she snapped, he figured his armor would give him the best chance over everyone else.


As Sov placed his hand on the 'keeper's shoulder Ann spun around voilently sreeching and barking, fangs bared and ready to pounce when a glint of recognition came to the green, angery eyes on the bloodspattered face. "S-Sov? H-" Ann's eyes shortly returned to normal as did the jackal/rat's claws when the halo faded and Ann promptly collapsed in a heap as Ricky's desecrated body began to hiss, splitter, and pop around the claw marks.


Mira jumped back as Ricky attempted to lunge forward, but was shocked when instead she got splattered with gore from him. She 'icked' And wiped a bit of blood off her face. She noted Ann using her power, and the effect it had upon Ricky, so she left Sov, the one wearing spirits damned armor to take care of it,

"Sov, get her outta here and cleaned up. I'll see if Luna needs a hand. I dint think we want to stay much longer." She stepped past Umbra, who was watching with an air of interest and stood next to Arcanas,

"Need a hand with her?"


As everyone recovers and Ann faints and Sov is attending to her as Mira walked to his side and asked if he needed help with Luna.

"Yes I do. I'll need your help to carry her while I transport everyone back to my place."

He looked at the others.

"This way everyone. Luna is inside that abandon building."

Arcanas than leads the way to a nearby building and waited outside for everyone to enter.


Sov nodded at Mira.

"Right away"

He Picked up Ann in his arms, he noted the after effects of the wounds on Ricky before following the rest of the group out of the bar. Some blood had run from the top of his helmet down his visor, limiting how much he could see. He squinted and did his best not to walk into anyone as he followed the group. He suddenly remembered the game and looked towards Umbra.

"Hey Umbra! I won the game by the way"


"I see." Umbra said in reply, "Then, once again, I will say I can only do what I can do in my power to allow you access to Arcanas' weapons. And that is this:" He turned to Arcanas, "May I request that Sov have access to your basement for tinkering, seeing as you planned to do so in the first place?"



They'd been gone for a while. In fact...no...hell, who was he kidding but himself? They'd all been gone for about a good bloody ten hours at least. At least. Soren didn't particularly want to think about what sort of shenanigans that they'd been getting up to, but he could clearly tell it was something pretty important (and even life-threatening) if they'd spent so much time, well...wherever it was that they were all spending there time.

In the meantime, Soren had kept himself entertained with a few fermentaes, watching the news and some sort of documentary about what wonders lay beyond the Starfall Mountains and also by playing a real-time strategy game on his datascroll. Surprisingly enough, the hours had flown by and now Soren was staring idly out of one of the mansion's large ground floor windows, occasionally glancing at his 'scroll for any messages.

Eventually, he couldn't take it any longer and he decided to send a group message to all the 'Keepers who had gone out. Whether they had their datascrolls on them or not, Soren didn't know. The message read:

'Y'know, I kinda don't like admitting it, but it'd be nice to have some company up here apart from that massive Neko that seems to hate me....'


As Soren types, the spark ryuu crawls up to him and stars to sniff him once again.

At the same time, as everyone was preparing to leave, Umbra asked if Sov can have access to Arcs armoury.

"We will see when we get back to my place."

Once everyone was inside, and Mira has Luna on his shoulders Arcanas teleported everyone back to his place.

Everyone soon arrived inside the armoury as Arcanas leads them out as the wall parts and they exit into the room. Arcanas turns to them.

"Sov. Carry Ann downstairs to the last room next to the ryuu garden. Lathena will be waiting there. Mira, come with me. As for access to the armoury we can talk about it after you are done. Umbra and I will have to do damage control. Now..is there anything else?"


Sov nodded and hurried down the staircase and stopped once he reached the garden. He found the room Lathena was in and walked in, his vision was still partially blocked by the blood on his visor but he ws able to make out a bed.

"Im guessing that Arcanas has already filled you in on the details"

He gently set Ann down on the bed before taking his helmet off and holding it under his arm.

"I'll leave you to look after her, I need to go talk to Arc before he leaves"

As quickly as he had come in, Sov was gone and quickly going up the staircase again.


Mira grumbled a bit at the teleporting, but it was the only quick way to quickly exfiltrate the area. She set Luna down on the nearby couch with a 'flump' and was going to check on Ann when the arrogant ******* spoke up.

The hell does he want? She thought in annoyance. Seeing as Sov had Ann pretty well taken care of, Mira walked over to Arcanas,

"What do you want?" She said icily.


For a second or two, Soren froze after hearing a relatively small commotion nearby. Thankfully, he'd remembered about Arc's teleporting power, and the only way anyone was getting in apart from through the front door was teleporting. The Geologist eagerly made his way over to source of all the talking and...oh great. Mira and Arc having an argument.

On second thoughts, maybe Soren would have liked a bit more peace and quiet. He had kind of forgotten that Mira despised Arcanas so much. He guessed that he'd probably be reminded about that just about now. This wasn't the time nor place for any tempers to flare, though.

"Sorry for being a bit blunt, but what the hell were you doing? And what happened to Ann? Y'know...all the blood?


Ann squirmed on the bed as the jackal/rat was laid down soaked in blood. Beeds of sweat ran down the poor 'keeper's brow as Ann muttered and tossed violently with feverish dreams of death, voilence, and a gravely voice ran out in thr jackal/rat's head begging for more violence and demeaning the poor creature. Ann gasped and shuddered, back arching before cluching arms to chest and rolling over again.

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DestaniaAdrianaViriathusTaylor3/6/13 2:11am
As Lathena tends to Ann and tries to calm her down, Arcanas was just about to answer Mira when Soren came into the room and asked what had happened.

"I'm about to find that out. Please start Mira. And Soren? Has there been any word from Zoe? It's more than half a day already and not a peep from her since she left earlier"

Arcanas than walked over to Luna to check on her and at the same time listened to Miras report of what happened down at the bar.


Sov walked back up to the group right as Arcanas was talking about Zoe. Sov had been so busy that he hadnt noticed, but now that he thought about it, Zoe had pretty much disappeared.

"Yeah, anyone know what happened to her? I hope im not the only worried by her sudden disap-pearence"

He took his helmet off and placed it under his arm before looking around the group.


"No, I haven't heard from her," Umbra said with his fedora over his eyes. He was tired. He'd used his power too much.

"You guys talk about this. I'm going to sleep." And the lizard pretended to sleep on the couch.


Soren shook his head in a somber manner as he delved back into his memories of the day. There wasn't any word from Zoe, they were right. The only place she could have been at that moment in time was her house. Though...Soren would have thought the young 'Keeper would have sent them a message of sorts if she didn't want in on this anymore. It was unnerving, to say the least. They should probably go and check on her soon. In fact, now would be a good time. If something had happened, they needed to get there quickly.

"If someone can tell me where she lives, I'll make my way over there and check on her." The wolf briefly glanced over at Umbra who was slouched on the couch, presumably asleep. "It seems like the rest of you have all done more than your fair share of running about." He turned his attention back to Arcanas and the rest of the group. "Besides, I'd like to get outside for a bit, no matter what time it is."

After a moment of silence, Soren stepped over to the bed Ann was lying down on, his gaze fixated on the poor girl's pained expression. "I'd also love to know what you were all up to when I get back." He stated curiously as he lightly ruffled the jackal/rat's hair. He could only hope this wouldn't carry on for long...

"So, anyone know where Zoe lives?" He ignored the fact that the question sounded unintentionally perverted.


Cyprus had been out much of the day, exploring and what not. He still hadn't seen any 'Real' Ryuu-nekos, cause the only one he really saw was Arc's. And that thing had to be taking pills of some sort, it just wasn't natural. So the quest for adorable and squishy fur covered worms began. The thought of buying one crossed his mind many a time as he walked past their cages, something for him to rant and talk to. Senility is the number one cause of being senile. Statistical fact.

Heading home, well...not home but temporary home. temp home. tome? Anyways, The walk back was mostly un-eventful. He climbed onto someones roof at one point and began tossing little bits of rock and such onto peoples heads as they passed. It was a fun past time.

Arcy-poos house seemed to have gone from semi-normal (as normal as a bunch of random people could be, what with Fluffy being there and not subtly hinting that she would like to shoot Cyprus.) to full blown crazy. As much fun as throwing fuel onto the personal fires they all had going, and poking the bloody Ann who was lying on a couch (Wait, why was she bloody?) He'd rather go back outside. Much rather go outside.

Luckily, he got his wish when Soren asked about anyone knowing where Zoe lived. Thank the spirits for his awesome memory.

"I know, but it's a tad bit of a walk if my memory serves me right." He said as he scratched behind his ears.

"If this is a quest, I better be getting some XP and loot at the end, I'll be willing to share."


Mira was seething. She didn't know what it was about Arcanas that made her relish the thought of mutilating him in many different ways, but his general attitude was a good place to start looking.

"I'll ignore the f*cking fact that I'm not your little soldier in your secret society, and tell you exactly what happened!" She spat angrily, she stood with her left hand clenching and unclenching, and her right on the handle of her springer. She was still fresh from the fight, and sprits she needed to hurt something.

"The problem, IS WHEN CIVILIANS INTERFERE!" Her voice rose until she was shouting, angry at her-self for just letting Arc happily pull strings along with his best bud the slimy lizard, angry at Ann for making things extra difficult, angry at Luna for trying to babysit and causing more problems, angry at Umbra.... For no apparent reason, but that was close enough for Mira.

"Every damn time noncombatants try to get in the way something goes wrong! Not to mention your 'babysitter' was a loose cannon in a fight, and needed your pet lizard to calm down!" Her mind was trying to piece together everything, and she decided to just go out with it,

"I'm done with the spirits damned games! Who the hell are you and what are you planning!?" She had tightened her grip on the springer, and was gesturing wildly with her left hand, the soldier in her wished she was wearing her armor, but it was ignored, she could fend well enough.


Talk about snapping someone out of their train of thought! Mira had done just that, and rather vio-lently, Soren noted. His eyes darted over to the mercenary. He was mortified to see that she had her hand gripped tightly around the springer. How much of a loose cannon was she? Whatever the case was, Soren wasn't going to stand idly by.

He seriously needed to know what the f*ck was going on in their little group 'outing'.

"Hey, hey! Mira, just put the springer on the ground. Please. I'd rather this didn't turn into a battle-ground...and what the hell has made you flip out like this?" The wolf had his out in front of him as he cautiously edged towards Mira. "We can talk about this."


Ann awoke suddenly and violently with a wild and panicked scream, sweat pouring down the jack-al/rat's face. After a few moments of heavey breaths Ann slid over the side of the bed, ears pressed down against the poor jackal/rat's head. Slowly, Ann's golden eyes, filled with a mixture of confusion and fear, turned to Lathena. "Wh-what happened? And why am I covered in blood?" Ann couldn't help but shiver at then nnext thought, "Oh spirits is everyone okay?!"

The blood soaked 'keeper wasn't even able to wait for Lathena's explanation before a ruckus from outside perked the jackal/rats giant ears. Ann could recognize the shouting anywhere, it had to be Mira but she sounded more pissed off than usual and the panicked sounds of others clued Ann in that this was serious. With a quick glance to Lathena that said, follow me, before rushing out of the room like a rat outa hell.

The sight that greeted Ann upon leaving the room was chaotic and, Ann had to admit a little scary, though the 'keeper was glad and relieved to see everyone still alive and well but the present situa-tion was very disconserting. With Mira waving her springer about like a crazy woman at Arc, Ann suddenly felt an overwhelming protective urge rush over the young dreamkeeper's entire being and the jackal/rat knew what to do. I a flash Ann stepped between Arc and Mira, facing Mira and lowering to the point where Mira's springer pointed square against Ann's skull as the jackal/rat stared straight into Mira's eyes. "Mira, look I have no idea what's going on, I dont even know why I'm cobered in blood right now butwe aren't shooting Arc, not unless you can shoot through me first. So let's put the springer down and talk about this. . . Now where is Ricky?"


As Arcanas checked on Luna, Umbra went to a nearby couch and lay down just as Soren ask if any-one knows how to get to Zoes place and Cyprus said he knew the way.

Arcanas was just about to say something when Mira snapped and gave a very short run down on what had happened at the bar which did not help very much as she left out the details and demanding to know who he is and his plans for them and Soren tried to calm her down just as Ann came into the room and stood between him and Mira and giving her a hard choice.

Arcanas got up and turned to face Mira.

"You have been looking through my files and my daughter did give you some information already. As for what I have planned, I need to get a certain artifact from a person. The reason? It might help solve the recent murderers. Now... I have to take a guess on what happened at the bar. But we don't have the time for that. Soren, Cyprus get some rest. We are moving out in 1 hour."

"What about the rest?"

Arcanas looked at the entrance to the room and Lathena was leaning against the door.

"They will have to go with you for it. I can call up some of our old team to replace those that are out. Non combat personal will stay here with 2 of the members just in case."

He than looks at Ann and place his hand on her head.

"It's alright. Don't put yourself at risk. You still have a long life ahead and I will see to it that you live a comfortable life very soon."

He than gave her his data scroll.

"Read it later. Take your time to think it over."

He looks at the rest.

"Is there anything you guys want to bring up before we start?"


Sov had been sending a message on his datascroll when Mira started shouting at Arcanas.

"I'll call you back Valiel"

He quickly placed the datascroll back in his vest and walked up to the group as Arcanas finished.

"Yeah, if anybody is going looking for Zoe, im coming along."

He placed his helmet back on and crossed his arms.


Ann was confused by Arc's previous statement that soon the young dreamkeeper would be well taken care of and before Ann had the chance to ask the poor jackal/rat was further confused when Arc's datascroll ended up in the confused creature's possession. The jackal/rat was about to ask what it was but thought better of it and strolled off to check out the datascroll, slowly scrolling through it.


Soren simply nodded in acknowledgement of Arc's statement. One hour it was. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to plan for the unknown; he could only do his best to expect the unexpected, and even then they didn't know what on Earth they were getting into. Still...no one gets left behind. Especially not this early on. One thing that he was sure they were going to need no matter what was a fair amount of firepower. Just in case.

"Wait a second, though..." Soren trailed off, looking at the ground and then glancing at Arc and Mira. "We're going to need something to back us up that can pack a punch; something that can do a lot of damage." At first, it was physical weaponry that he brought to mind, but there was always another option...

"Of course, if we want to be more subtle about it we can use our powers. Or, at least...what we know of them. Only if we get into deep crap, mind you."


Mira snarled and shot Soren an angry glance,

"Come any close and you'll have to learn how to write left handed!" she gestured at Arcanas then,

"Oh! So now you're solving murder, and by the way, i read all as many of the parts as I could, through all the red ink of classified!" She was still seething at his arrogant attitude, as if he knew better.

"And is anyone else concerned why an artifact will solve what Is most likely a psychopath killing people?! What the hell is the logic in that?!" She was yelling, but took her hand off the springer, realizing she had it on there in the first place.


"Mira, hotheadedness is going to get us absolutely nowhere. You of all people should know that." Soren straightened up and made his stance a lot firmer; he honestly couldn't care less if Mira thought she could keep everyone under control by threatening everybody with a springer. "So simmer the hell down before you make a brash decision." Soren kept his hands loosely by his sides and stepped back a little. "Rescue first, ask questions later. After this, I'll leave you and Arc to have a nice chat." He shot a quick glance towards Arcanas. It wasn't difficult to imagine what the scene between those two would look like: utter carnage.

Deep down, though, Soren did agree with the mercenary. What exactly where they going for? What sort of artifact was it going to be? Where they even sure that it wasn't just some crazed psychopath killer like Mira said? Soren wished he could answer those questions, and with time he probably could, but that was at a premium right now.


After Mira said the murders were some psycopath, Sov couldnt hold his tongue any longer.

"BECAUSE ITS THE NIGHTMARES!"

He took his helmet off in a single smooth motion and walked back over to the group, the room had become dead quiet.

"These murders arent some guy on a killing spree, its a nightmare, like the ones out of the old bed-time stories, they're real, and they're here killing people. Thats why this is important!"

He took a long look around the group before putting his helmet back on and gesturing towards the door.

"Now, can we all just get going on rescuing Zoe or do you all want to stay here with your thumbs up your ***** all day?"


Soren closed his eyes for a moment to collect his thoughts and to let his frustrations die down. He didn't want anger to cloud his opinions on anything. A few seconds later, he opened his eyes and looked towards Sov. He hadn't noticed, but he had subconsciously grabbed a tight hold of the datascroll in his pocket, perhaps as a way to vent his own annoyance at the situation.

"Sov, you aren't helping much. If you want us to go and save Zoe, then just be patient. We need to look before we leap on this. I know it's hard, but...It's best for everyone. Especially if we're dealing with nightmares."


With questions being shot left and right and Sov telling everyone who the murder suspect is Arcanas just signed.

Lathena rolled her eyes.

"Now you know why he kept it a secret from the start. If he were to out right told you that we are after a nightmare more than half of you wont be here now."

"Lathena. I'll take it from here. If you want prove the best I can give you is someone saw it kill the latest victim. That's all I'm saying about it. Our target is the black book written by first race that en-countered the nightmares. We need that book to know which type we are dealing with. Rushing in without any information and we are in for a **** storm."

Arcanas reopened the wall to the armoury.

"Those of you who want to follow me to Zoe's place head down to the armoury. The rest of you can follow Lathena to look for the book."

"You going to make the call?"

"Leave it to me."

Arcanas heads down to the armoury and turned on the computer and has it sent out a scrambled signal.


Power use, armor, nightmares, books...this was getting crazy. Now, Cyprus wasn't one to be con-cerned with danger, but if he even used his power he'd be locked away for all eternity and silenced for three days after. Not his dream life. He'd rather be in his house drinking some fruit punch and fermentae along with a good book and the occasional explosion. Oh, and sleep. Sleep was his favorite thing besides eating food.

"Okay, let's all just keep our guns out of peoples faces, powers under wraps and yelling to a mini-mum."

Nightmares? Those things were the devil incarnate, made up for kids to do what their parents told em. If they were real, Then things had gotten quite serious, but logic was saying that they weren't real, and so things were only mildly serious.

"I concur that we should find Zoe, but Nightmares? Seriously? Don't kill the non-believer, but those things are the product of kids imagination and parents need to keep the kids in line."

Cyprus turned to Arcy-poo. While things had gone from weird to insane, Arcy had managed to stay...calm? collected? snapped and gone down to looneyville? Okay, trust was a thing Cyprus had in abundance and would only keep giving it till he was in danger of his life. He was quite fond of living. it had grown on him.

"I'm going down to your 'Armory' not because i believe in this Nightmare BS, but cause I'm the only on here who reliably knows how to get to her place."

And with that final comment, down he descended. Hopefully, he was right about all this Nightmare stuff, cause if he wasn't...well...things could get quite interesting. not the good kind of interesting either.


Mira snapped her head to Soren,

"You think I'm being hotheaded NOW? Wait until I really get mad, then we'll talk!" She looked to Sov as he gave an outburst about nightmares and doing SOMETHING. She gestured wildy,

"Thank SPIRITS someone here will give me a straight answer!" She contemplated for a moment the implications. She wasn't quite convinced, especially since Arcanas had only one viewing of the nightmare or whatever it is...

"How are you so sure it isn't someone totally off their rocker, and using their power? And if this is true, then why haven't the EssTee's noticed it?"

But now he was going typical Arcanas, and leave as if everyone should follow behind him like trained nekos. Zoe had been gone for what? A day? She DID have somewhere else to live, she probably had gotten sick of the place.

"Look. If you can PROVE it's nightmare, I won't give you anymore trouble, but if all the bedtime sto-ries are true, what makes you think a book and a small amount of combat personnel are going to do ANYTHING against monsters?" The last question was kinda aimed at everyone in general, the last thing that needed to happen was for everyone to charge blindly, as out of sync as it seemed for Mira, when up spoke of conspiracies and nightmares, you could attract lots of unwanted attention, especially if the whole thing were true....

If it were true.. The egghead seemed pretty convinced, and it worried her. He was possibly the most levelheaded of the entire bunch of misfits. But she found herself agreeing with Cyprus annoyingly enough, he was skeptical as well..

Fantastic...


Sov turned and looked at Mira.

"The security troopers arent doing anything about this because its council jurisdiction, they would be executed for interfering"

He followed Soren and Arcanas down to the armory.

"I understand not believing, I didnt believe in them either until i saw an entire squad get ripped limb from limb infront of me"

A quick flashback made him visibly shudder.

"I never doubted their existence after that."

When they entered the armory he quickly looked around before heading off towards a workbench in the corner of the room.

"Okay, im a happy camper, you guys go work on a plan, I think that i'll just hang out here for a bit..."


Ann had no honest idea what to think at this time. People wildly throwing about accusations about nightmares, just about everyone yelling, Zoe missing and likely kidnapped, not to mention the data scroll the jackal/rat still held, yet unread and the fact that Ann was still coated in someone else's blood, whose it was the dreamkeeper had absolutely no idea. Eventually it began to just seem like too much for the young 'keeper and Ann decided to begin to retreat into the bedroom that Mira shared with the jackal/rat. Being told that nightmares were attacking? It was unbelievable! Really the equivalent of trying to hunt down the boggy man.

Ann sighed and began to scroll through the data scroll with dulled eyes. In a moment, however, that would all change as Ann's big golden eyes widened like saucers as a dawning realization of what this was occurred to the young 'keeper and Ann tossed the scroll aside and darted downstairs as fast as possible diamond tears rolling down the 'keeper's cheeks.

The grey jackal/rat made straight for the armory and upon seeing Arc, flung bodily at him collapsing into his chest and sobbing. "Whatever you need me for. . . I'm here to help. . . Dad."


Well wasn't this all a whole lot of laughs? Soren could only smile a little and raise his eyebrows as he turned away from Mira. It was clear that she didn't particularly want to be told what to do. He guessed that was what you got from a woman who spent a lot of her free time with guns and explosives.

"I'd rather not." The wolf muttered under his breath in response to Mira's first comment to him whilst walking towards the armoury. Before he could leave the room completely, however, he stopped in his tracks, looking over his shoulder.

"It's about the quality of the preparation, not the quantity of people involved." Soren turned to Mira fully. "...Which is why I kinda hope we get to see one of them when we go to Zoe's house; It'll be nice to know if they have a weakness to anything." He shrugged and stuck his hands into his pockets. "Call me crazy if you want."

Soren made his way out of the room and down to the armoury relatively quickly, partly so that Mira couldn't say anything to doubt him. It seemed that Sov was happy to be left to his own devices, so that was fine. They just needed to work on how they were going to effectively deal with any threats at Zoe's house.

"Okay, Arc, let's look at the more obv-"

Was Soren just seeing things? Maybe the work was making him insane after all, but...did Ann just...? Eh?

"What does she mean by 'dad'? What the hell is going on? Shouldn't Ann be resting anyway? And aren't we supposed to be-Oh, actually, screw that, I'll just leave you two for a moment."

He turned on his heels and once again stuck his hands into his pockets. "So, Cyprus...how long do you reckon it'll take for us to get to Zoe's house? Not all of us are as comfortable with all that roof-top running as you are."


la de da, just looking at armor and weapons, random interuptions from people, small keeper, arcy-poo, dad, wait...WHAT? Backtracking...Ann just called the Arcy-poo Dad. Things here were gettin weird. Sooner or later the butler was gonna start calling Cyprus dad. Fluffy-McGrumpypants would be calling Sov dad! imagination, calm down. no need for crazy thinking right now.

"Say what? oh, travel and such. Uh...should be within an hour and a half if we take it slow and keep to the walkways."

Nethers, what had he gotten himself into? Cyprus was a happy guy, he hadn't gotten into much trouble. Usually. So he tossed rocks on people heads and made terrible jokes and such, no need for him to be killed by the troopers or the Imaginary nightmares.


Mira followed the rest of them into the armory, muttering to herself. She stepped in and was about to make a rant when Ann hugged Arcanas and called him 'dad'. Her train of thought was derailed, and her already irrational hatred of the 'keeper multiplied tenfold, and her emotional state went reeling.

It figured really, get close to someone, then they hurt you, always. It happen with her dad, her mom, happy, and now Ann. It was over. She didn't allow any tears, that was weak, pathetic, something she shouldn't have done even with Ann. No, from now on, there would be no crying, no hate, nothing. Mira would do her job, and do it well, enjoying every bit of it.

When she finally spoke, after collecting herself, her voice was calm, but icy, and had very little emotion woven into the words,

"For Ann's and the rest of the non-com's sake, I'll go along. But if we're loading for bear, and Arcanas doesn't know where we're going, how are we supposed to stay under the EssTee's radar? And another thing, since I trust Sov the most out of your little group of buddies, I'll take him at his word. I'll assume the nightmares are real, and I can tell you, we probably won't want to go anywhere near one of them without bringing enough ordinance to take out the towers."

She took stock of the armory, and since she figured the arrogant ******* was letting everyone have their pick, she grabbed a smallish looking rifle and examined it, checking for its model.

"And one last thing, if we're taking Cyprus, he should know how to defend himself if a ficus foxtrot happens. I don't want a repeat of the bar."

------------

The wolf calmly switched on the light in the small room he was in. A small simian 'keeper was strapped to the rickety chair in the center of the light,

"Y'know, I asked you like a gentleman. You spat in my face. Now what kinda response is that?" He stepped closer, and the other 'keeper's head lolled. The wolf slapped him hard across the face, making him gasp and jerk,

"I didn't hit ya that hard kid! Stick with me, and I may not have to hurt you as much as I want to." He then pulled up another chair and sat in it, stirring a small pile of coals that he had grabbed from the local outdoors store, which sold barbecue materials. The coals glowed, and the iron he had in it was cherry red. The simian whimpered, and said,

"Oh spirits, man! I don't know what you want I swear! D-don't!" The wolf smiled and said,

"You know, and you see, I know that you know. But I don't know WHAT you know. So stop the bull****, and get talking. Start from where we left off. You worked for the sunshades, the gang. They had a raid a long time ago and were scattered. You were just a kid then, but I need to know who did the raid."

"I-I don't know... I SWEAR! OH SPIRITS NOO AAAGGHH!!!" The wolf had stood and grabbed the iron, and set it on the other 'keeper's leg for a minute. He let up, and the simian's screams fell into silent whimpers.

"Your father is the leader of the sunshades. You're in line to inherit the title. You've set up a hotel in almost the exact manner, WHO DID YOUR FATHER TELL YOU TO WATCH FOR?!"

The young man groaned,

"M-'mercer's mercs... They were the ones who ordered the hit... My dad's bosses were sooo angry." The wolf's ears perked,

"I wasn't aware the sunshades were being led by a higher power. Who were they." The simian got a fearful look in his eye, one of absolute desperation,

"No! Don't make me tell you! They'll kill me! Or worse!" He shuddered and broke down, crying. The wolf stood and grabbed him by the chin,

"Who was your father's boss?!" The simian blinked through tears,

"I-I can't remember well, but there was one night... T-there was this shadow, and it wanted my dad.... I looked into it's eyes.. Oh spirits.. It's eyes...." He then fell into a blubbering mess, crying for his mother. The wolf let him go and kicked over the chair, making the other 'keeper's head hit the hard floor. Silence fell, and the wolf stepped out into the bright sunlight outside, blinking to adjust.

There was no doubt. The kid had described what he assumed was a nightmare. The wolf checked a scroll in his pocket.

Wrong date... So what's going on? He thought. He searched for the company the kid had given him, and decided he would find his answers there. Mercers mercs.


No one noticed Ann smirking in Arc's arms before the young 'keeper pulled away then smiled sweetly up at Arc. "Thank you so much for this! I. . .I've always been so lost and alone without my family and now I'm at home finally! Really I'm ready to train under you and fight these things. If you say there are nightmares I believe you and I want to fight them! Right alongside you at the most important moments. So what do ya say we get out there and fight ourselves some nightmares?" Ann nodded enthusiastically and clenched a fist up in the air as if to chant victory before the jackal/rat spun around and began walking toward the exit of the armory.

For a moment Ann's hand seemed to grasp at Mira's tail but stopped at the last second having only lightly brushed against it. Ann stopped for just a second and looked nervously backwards giggling with embarrassment. "Sorry 'bout that hand slipped. I'm headed up to my room Pops I got some stuff to take care of real quick!" And with that Ann darted out of the armory and rounded the corner, sticking sharp claws into pale grey tufts of fur on Ann's hands and burying into the skin, drawing a slight bit of blood and cursed under a breath, "Nice try little *****, you had your chance it's my show now. . . try something again I'll bite your tongue right off." And with that Ann took a deep breath. Composed. And headed back upstairs. No one would notice the small amount of extra blood not when the 'keeper was already coated in Ricky's.


Within seconds of settling at the workbench Sov had already started working on creating more am-mo for his rifle to replace the amount he went through at the bar. He was compressing the spring for the cartridge when he heard Ann call Arcanas her dad. His head twisted around and he stood up.

"Wait what?!"

Arcanas was Anns dad? How the hell did he not know this? he had read through everything on the both of them and never saw even the slightest connection. He stayed quiet until Mira spoke.

"Dont worry about the security troops, and I agree on weaponry, I was planning on making a few toys, we arent allowed to build our own stuff in our armory so ive had quite a few designs collecting dust"


As Arcanas waited for an answer, Ann gave him a hug and told him how great full she is. Arcanas smiled and pats her head before she excused herself and heads up to her room as the rest came down to the armoury one by one. As they walked around the armoury and some left and others are examining the weapons Arcanas type a command into the computer and the floor at the center of the room parts showing a flight of stairs leading down into the dark. Arcanas heads for the stairs and down into the dark.

5 minutes later he came up with a large jar and place it on the table. Inside the jar is an unknown creature which looked like it was dried up and put into the jar to be used for later. Arcanas than walked up to the computer and input some commands and the screen shows a wall painting with a group of dreamkeepers on the right and a black figure on the left. Along with smaller creatures around it. The smaller creatures in the painting bears a eerie resemblance to the thing in the jar.

"The painting you see on the wall is dated either during, before or after the last war of powers. That is the only given estimate as it is likely older than that. It was found behind a wall of a temple near the starfall mountains. The temple itself is empty on the outside. But behind the wall was a stairs leading down. This is what was found. Other than some bones and ancient weapons. For some unknown reason they wanted to seal the temple up after they are done. We got word of it and were sent down to grab anything we can before they seal the place up. But by the time we got there the people who found the temple were dead. Cause of death unknown. We reported back to HQ about what we found and were told to avoid touching the bodies and grab what ever we can and disappear from there. The death was never on the news nor was there any mention of a temple."

Arcanas opens the jar and gently pulled out the creature.

"You wanted proof. Here it is. This is a preserved body of a nightmare called "The Sandman". This is considered the weakest of the nightmares but if your not care full it can kill you very easily."

Arcanas picks up a cloth and gently lay the body on it.

"You guys can take a closer look if you want. We are moving out at 0 hour. Rest up, arm up and for those who are following me I need to find a gas mask for you. We are heading to Zoe's place by the sewer system. With what we are carrying we will get spotted to easily if we travel by the surface."


"One and a half hours? Right, thanks." Soren nodded once in acknowledgement and sighed quietly. He was exasperated that they'd need to spend such a long time outside at night; it was going to be cold. Very cold. He tried his best to mask that feeling, though. How well he was doing, he didn't know, but luckily Mira gave him a chance to change the subject.

"Y'know, no one has actually told me what happened at the bar yet..." The geologist trailed off, pausing for a moment. He briefly glanced around at everyone and changed his mind. "In fact...I'd rather not have more things on my mind." Perhaps now wasn't the best time to be delving into those things. "A story for around the fireplace, maybe?"

Soren hoped Mira wouldnt come and bite his head off for some reason now that he'd said that.

Just when he thought things were calming down a bit, out comes Arcanas with his wildcard. A dead nightmare. Or at least, that's what Arc said it was. He'd never actually seen one before. He'd only theorised and read about descriptions of them in historical scripts. His interest had been piqued.

"Arc...you have to let me run a few tests on this little guy." Soren's gaze never left the nightmare's corpse. Why hadn't he been told about this nightmare earlier? He could have already learned so much! The emotions Soren could feel we're a weird mix: excitement and anger. Excitement at the fact they had a real nightmare in front of them, but anger because Arc had been hiding it for so long.

"You shouldn't have kept this hidden from me, Arc; I could have done so much with it already!" Soren slowly shook his head a couple of times, stepping back from the corpse. "But...it's here now. I need some time with it." Soren stated in a vehement tone. He didn't care what the others thought about it.


Sov recognised the temple but kept his mouth shut, he would speak to Arcanas about it privately later. He was very suprised when Arcanas managed to have preserved a dead nightmare, they were having trouble with that in the council.

"Arc, you'll have to fill me in later on how you preserved that."

Sov nodded when Arcanas brought up gasmasks.

"If you'll let me take a look at your gasmasks and a few spare datascrolls I can modify them like what we use, they'll be much more useful."

He went back and sat down at the workbench for a second before turning around.

"Oh, and some flashlights would be nice too."


Arcanas knew Soren is going to get upset and explained to him that most of the members do not even knew about this as it's only the four senior members of the team were picked for the mission due to it's sensitivity. After that he attended to Sov's question and explained that since the room is very dry, the room itself dried the body up and at the same time got the equipment that he requested.

Once it was zero hour, the members heading to Zoe's placed are gathered in the arena area of the armoury as Arcanas sets up their equipment and sync their on board computers to each others and taught them how to change their vision modes and other functions. Each of them are given a modi-fied version of the shock troops springer rifle. It's shorter as it's made for indoor use, the rounds it fired is double the size due to the distance it travel to hit its target it wont get much force compared to when fire over a longer distance. But it's accuracy is just as good because 60% of the barrel is now inside the gun itself. There for giving it a sawn off barrel look. Everyone is given 6 clips off ammo a modified side arm pistol that has a full auto fire capability and 6 clips for it as well.

Arcanas than gave each of them a small medical kit and starts to brief them on what to do in an emergency among other things. Once it was done, Arcanas opened the door to the sewers located behind a hidden wall on the far side of the arena and waited for everyone to exist before sealing the door behind them. He than opens the map of the sewer system on a holo device and projects it on the wall and asked Cyprus where Zoe lived.


Lathena, in the mean time looked at Mira.

"Well... do you want to start in the morning? Cause I think we might have to go on site as there is no recorded on who has the book anywhere online."


Sov waited for Arcanas to finish handing out gear before he turned towards everyone.

"Aside from everything Arcanas just explained to you ive modified everyone's gas mask with a built in heads up display similar to the ones we use, however due to the technical limitations of the datascrolls i had to convert into the HUDs I was only able to get it to show the direction your facing, the time, the temperature, and have it place an onscreen marker above everyone's head with your names. You all also have a flashlight mounted on either side of your gasmask incase your visor modes fail."

Sov switched out the weapons Arcanas gave him with his old ones before exiting the armory and looking at the map projected on the wall.

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Riftun3/13/13 2:43pm
Ann smirk lightly holding the springer loosely in hand, feeling its weight and giving it a short stroke and cockong it with an eager look glistening in golden eyes. For a moment the keeper lifted the springer and took sights at the back of Arc's head then set it back in its holster and ran over to Arc with a smile. "Hey daddy! I think I should go.looking for the book on this one, help mom out ya know? But I am super worried about where Zoe is so do a good.job of finding her okay?" Ann then gave Arc a big snuggly hug and smiled sweetly up at him.

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Shadow996113/13/13 2:51pm
((since i really wanna get past this epically long page lol))

Mira looked to Lathena, she initially didn't like the wife of the arrogant bastard, but she hadn't had much of a chance to see her on her own. The initial encounter? Not so great.

"We're going off of something you found ONLINE? Is that all the intel you have?!" She really didn't like going blind into a situation, escpecially with people she didn't trust fully.

"Look, if you're positive the package is there, let's go when it's dark, and gather some more information before we go full bore on this. Arc's bound to have some sort of IR equipment here."

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Thegunner183/13/13 3:17pm
((OOC: let me help you with that!))

Well...let's just say that Soren *really* didn't appreciate not having access to that dead sandman. Arc didn't understand. He didn't understand what kinds of things could have been found if he had just given Soren the time to run a few tests! It wasn't like he was going to release the information publicly or anything; he wasn't that stupid. For now, though, he decided just to let it go. They had bigger things to worry about.

"I've gotta say, I wasn't expecting this much gear." Soren remarked, glancing down at both of the weapons holstered on his thigh. A subtle grin was etched upon his face as he donned the gasmask. "But hey! I'm not complaining!" He shrugged his shoulders, his voice slightly muffled by the mask.

"Oh, Ann? Please be careful with those weapons! I don't want anymore accidents." Soren had noticed her aim the gun up at Arc before she holstered it once again. When had she become so much more confident? It was only yesterday that she seemed to be a bundle of nerves. Surely confidence didn't come about that quickly? The wolf pushed it to the back of his mind and thought nothing of it. It was a good thing anyway!

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T3rminal3/13/13 5:12pm
Cyprus lurked behind the group, sighing at his place in life. First, all this armor and stuff was quite a bit heavier than he was used to. It'd slow him down, but not too terribly much. Thank spirits he knew his power well enough to help out.

Ann was getting...weird. She used to be all twitchy and super sweet, and now she wasn't twitchy and obnoxiously sweet. Like...it was what you expected to see from child serial killers. At least, that's what the movies had told him they were like. Luckily, he had a purpose. Get Zoe, save the day, drink some, and sleep. It wasn't a very astounding purpose, but he had one. He walked up to the Projected screen and put his finger on her house.

"That's where she should be. But who knows, especially if all of your nonsensical blather about nightmares is true." He was crazy, not gullible.

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Roan3/15/13 1:11am
When Zoe had left, Puddles and Steamer where still in the bed enjoying the warmth of the blanket and the lingering smell of their beloved Zoe.

Steamer flicked his ears about 30 minutes after Zoe went outside, he stretched and clambered out of the blanket and onto the bed. The house was dead quiet, and the only thing he heard was the sound of himself breathing and Puddles who was following after him.

The fire-ryuu launched off the bed and charged down the hallway his claws clicking to get a grip in the hard wood floor. He heard Puddles scramble behind him. Steamer slid down the hallway and rammed into the sliding glass door. He squashed his face against it trying to see Zoe.

Puddles waddled towards the ryuu pet-door and crawled through it bounding out and into the snow. Steamers followed after her, and they were trying to figure out were Zoe was. The whole backyard was dead silent, and the only things that were in it was Steamer and Puddles.

They panicked, as the sound of silence scared them. The smell of Zoe was fading quickly, and they scrambled over the back fence and looked around at the outside world. It was hard to tell were they where going, but they caught the faint scent of Cyprus, and they charged after it knowing that it would lead to Arcansas's house.

They ran through the streets following the scents of the DK's who were at Arcs house. It took them about 2 hours to get all the way to the monster-house, and when they did, they flopped onto the front steps.

Steamer looked up at the large DK sized door, catching the scents of the people that he was looking for. He pawed at the door running his claws down the door leaving scratch marks. He didn't plan on stopping till somebody opened the door.

Puddles certainly heard voices, and she notified Steamer of it before pawing at the door with him trying her hardest to get the attention of the people inside.

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T3rminal3/15/13 9:32am
"Hey guys?" Cyprus said as his ears Parker up as best as they could with all the gear he had on, "sounds like somethings scratching at the door. I'm gonna check it out.". And with that, he turned tail and walked up the stairs. This was a feat in of itself, he felt like a trooper and was armed more than one. After what seemed like much longer than it took to get up the stairs and to the door, he looked out the peephole trying to see anything. However, nothing. Old be seen. Maybe it was a branch hitting the door. Might as well go and clear it out. He would have no peace till it was gone.

However, the door had much more fruitful things on the other side. The word things being used as literally as possible. The furry worms had arrived. Clearly, they had been right to go to Zoe's, for those ryuu's rarely, if ever, left her side.

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