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  3. Who wants a pet phoenix?

    As long as I get my phoenix, I'm good with either. But since your thread is already active, why bother making a new one, when we can just bring down two and each get one? Making my own seems like an unnecessary complication.
  4. Who wants a pet phoenix?

    I was basically saying you're welcome to join my thread and just wing it. I'm only two posts deep at the moment. Though if you'd prefer you own thread, I can understand that too and am still willing to help.
  5. DOWN WITH EPIC PLOTS

    I opened up a weapon and armor shop and I'm posting in the water cooler to see if I can generate some interest. I also did this because I wanted to point out what I would like to achieve with it and the character who builds stuff in it. I would like for the roleplay that takes place here to have less plot and more simple character interaction. I usually hate this sort of thing standalone but I find myself feeling like I should start messing with both. Get better on keeping a roleplay going without a thick plot involved. All but one roleplay that I remember having have had plots that demanded fluid progression and often times none of the characters stop to engage in some everyday ordinary life sort of stuff so I hope to have a place and character some people can visit and get to know that can serve as a connection to more laid back themes. One thing that would thrill me to see would be for characters with serious roles in the world just happening by and spending time in an environment where life is much simpler. Aside from building stuff for people, of course. I'm not saying I only want mayors and continent rulers rolling in. Adventurers and soldiers would be fantastic. Thinking about it that might mean 100% of the characters on Valucre fit the bill so don't shy away. Just don't expect dragon rider bandits to assault the shop or for other action packed calamities to strike. At least not 90% of the time. Anybody interested?!
  6. Ruin has come to Ashville

    By badness, I of course mean scariness, dread, and unease.
  7. Ruin has come to Ashville

    I think SOMEONE plays too much Silent Hill. I'm being immersed into the badness all bloody over again.
  8. InFAMOUS RP - The choice is yours

    @Trevor Wisegem I apologize for the wait man. No excuse for this one. Just been tired and generally unmotivated due to some stuff going on IRL. Couldn't bring myself to write until now. I sincerely apologize and thank you all for your patience.
  9. InFAMOUS - Zero Year

    @Trevor Wisegem - ALEX Bramley was a little shocked to see that the boy had avoided his concrete missile, losing sight of him briefly when he seemed to disappear and reappear in an entirely different place. What shocked him even more was that the girl was still with him. In all his years, he'd never seen a conduit manipulate the organic matter of another living thing without causing serious harm to the other party. He'd been teaching cadets for years that this was impossible. There were only two possibilities. One, the girl was a conduit too and was just transmogrifying her own matter alongside his. Or two, this conduit was a whole new class of freak-show. If it was the latter, this made him even more dangerous. With such an ability, he could kill agents and innocents with a touch. He resolved to himself that this chase simply couldn't go on any longer. The boy needed to be stopped. The old man was oblivious to what Alex had just done, far too busy scouting ahead for way to disappear. Every second they ran doomed them more. A short skirmish, he could handle. A constant onslaught was a different ball game altogether. They'd put up a fight, but once their energy reserves were drained, they'd be almost just as easy to kill as a normal person. No doubt this was Bramley's plan. He'd call in back up from within the city and the extra man power would force them back into the park where there were no sufficient sources of power. It was a tactic many had tried to use against Cole Mcgrath himself, but Cole was smart. Even without his powers, he was one hell of a fighter. That was how he stayed alive in Empire City and New Marais. The old man had tried to imitate Cole as much as possible when it came to combat, and he wasn't dead yet. Just as he was beginning to think they'd have to take the sewers just to break the line of sight, he spotted the one thing he was hoping to see. "Bingo." he muttered, the word causing his broken ribs to ache even more. The good news was that he'd spotted a power relay just ahead on the bed of a truck. Alex would be able to crack it open and get a jump-start to his powers that could help them escape. You'd think he could just absorb the power himself, but that's not how things go when you're a conduit as old as he is. Absorbing the energy from a power relay at his age would overcharge his weakened heart and possibly cause it to give out, something he'd seen a good friend learn the hard way. The old mans time had passed and he wouldn't be able to learn anymore tricks, but Alex was a clean slate. He'd be able to absorb the full potential from the relay and not break a sweat. The bad news? The only reason that the power relay was there was because the DUP had set up a checkpoint. There were over a dozen agents surrounding the power relay, their receivers active and their guns at the ready. Bramley had clearly phoned ahead of him and warned them, knowing they'd pass by. Because of this, he was able to zip away fast enouh before they spotted him. "SKY!" shouted one of the agents before aiming his weapon upwards toward the old man and pulling the trigger. "AGH!" shouted the old man when he felt a bullet burrow itself through the back of his calf and out the front. He was able to zip back before the following barrage of bullets could shred his upper half. "S***!" he cursed, his leg in great pain. He was thankful that the bullet didn't shatter his tibia, but it was still hard to move his leg. Zipping would be all he could do pretty soon. "KID!" he shouted, looking around for Alex. He spotted him running down the street with the girl in tow, but something was wrong. Alex's face was pale, and he looked to be breathing hard. He'd gone and expended too much energy. Exactly what Bramley wanted him to do. Sure enough, he spotted Bramley hopping from building to building behind him, firing his gun at Alex and erecting stone pillars to get in his way. Memories flooded the old mans mind. He'd seen Bramley kill far too many conduits this way. Realizing he had very few options at the moment, he looked to the left of the building he was hiding behind. Sitting on the side of the road with a few bullet holes in it was a car. Mustering all the strength he could, he held out his hand concentrated. Arcs of lightning branched from his hand to the car as he charged the car with electricity he'd been collecting as he zipped. He wished Alex had remembered to do that while running, but he was scared and running for his life. Being a little absent-minded was understandable. "BOY!" shouted the old man through gritted teeth. The car he'd been charging was now glowing and arcing everywhere with electricity as it slowly began to levitate off the ground. "GET ON TOP OF THE CAR!" the old man shouted again. "I'M GONNA THROW IT TOWARDS THE CHECKPOINT! CHARGE YOURSELF FROM IT AND HOP OFF BEFORE IT LANDS!" He hoped this plan wasn't crazy enough to ensure Alex's death, but he didn't have any other ideas. He just hoped he'd be able to handle the agents at the checkpoint while he diverted Bramley away from the checkpoint. If they both succeeded, he could meet back up with Alex and tell him how to absorb the energy within the power relay before anyone could stop him.
  10. Ruin has come to Ashville

    What do you think?
  11. Aygis held quite still while Whispers used her cloth to dab at the kobold's jaw, cleaning up a rare trace of salted meat on her behalf. It was a somewhat curious motion; Aygis likely would have dealt with it herself eventually, but she definitely appreciated the gesture. It was tender, in a way. Sort of like watching a human brush hair from another human's face. She glanced upward without moving too much, and made eye contact with Whispers. She was tender and gentle while tending to the magus, just as the magus had been when tending to her wounds. They were exchanging respectful gestures, that much was for certain, and Aygis thought quite highly of that. Kobolds didn't have close families, after all; the lizard wizard herself scoffed at romantic gestures for the most part, seeing them as unnecessary. But it was nice to have someone to gently minister to your own self, that was for certain. Aygis rather liked it when Whispers treated her this way. It was over too soon for her liking, and eventually silence reigned for the both of them for the next several minutes. The fire still crackled at their feet, and Whispers yawned loudly next to her, prompting a yawn from the kobold as well. It seemed there was nothing to it then; they both needed some rest. However, Aygis was no fool to adventuring. She knew that they couldn't rest while the fire continued. "You should get some rest first." Aygis suggested. "I can keep an eye on the fire while you sleep. Then I can go to bed when it goes out, and we can get a move on when we're both well-rested and awake."
  12. Wonderland Resort

    Alas, Shivers came to the Tavern for a nice quiet drink, a way to unwind at the end of a long day. As usual, it seemed that he got more than he bargained for. The strange dog-creature poking its nose into other people’s unmentionable business appeared to earn some kind of magical entrapment from the man sitting next to Shivers. In the meantime, there was some short of hushed, terse exchange between the bartender and the owner of the dog-creature. Shivers wasn’t sure if it was some kind of lover’s spat or some other old relationship gone awry. He might have made the effort to figure it out were it not for the dog behind them starting to chafe at its confinement with a rather grand display of potential power, all the while its captor tried to make a business pass at Shivers. What a day. “Depends on the business.” Shivers downs the first glass of whiskey, then pours himself another glassful. “You might want to attend to spot behind you. He seems rather displeased.”
  13. Wonderland Resort: T1cs Elemental Team Tournament

    Aves abandoned meeeeee!
  14. More Important is the Journey OOC

    @JaviD'Arcana I just realized you're not in the discord, love! You've probably been in the dark for a ridiculously long time. Would you like another invite to it? If not, I'd be happy to keep you updated in the OOC from here on out.
  15. Ruin has come to Ashville

    Perhaps this room was? Perhaps this room was WHAT?! DX
  16. Ruin has come to Ashville

    The doors were forcibly punched in repeatedly, only to recoil back into shape each time. The sound of splintering wood was plentiful, as loud as it was frequent, and Aygis heard it each and every time. The kobold backed away from the door in question, retreating until just the edge of her magical light source still illuminated it. In the pale blue lighting, the door looked far more eerie at the edge of her vision. If it broke open, she wouldn't have the resolving vision power to see what hammered so diligently on the door. How terrifying, that whatever slammed on the door with such absurd force would be able to see Aygis easily, but she would not be able to see it properly. Not until it tried to take a run at her, that is. Thankfully, she'd managed to put her 'friend' between her and the door for now, meaning that whatever was trying so hard to get at them--get at her--would go through him first. Perhaps it was for the best, too. She couldn't drag around dead meat forever; she needed to find the quickest escape from this damnable city. She glanced around quickly, hoping to spy some kind of exit from the room, but finding to her dismay that however they had gotten into this room was no longer there. Doors tended not to vanish, however, and that quickly became a cause for concern. In what kind of world do doors disappear and cities warp in the rain? "It's almost like..." She frowned, trying to wrap her head around this riddle. It was difficult; her own thoughts berated her nonstop, furious with her for trying to stay calm when she should obviously be panicking. "Are we...actually in this room?" She asked, just loud enough to be heard over the furious pounding on the door.
  17. I haven't forgotten you, I will be working on my post sometime this week.

  18. A Pirate's Life Ain't So Bad

    Im still in it, just like Shize is, im watching from the sidelines trying to see if I could squeeze a post in. Will keep updated.
  19. Ruin has come to Ashville

    Those shapeless things, they clambered over the window in waves. They rolled over each other, into each other, on top of each other, a swirling mass of shapes that had seemingly had no end. Somehow, they'd lost their shape in the process, mashing into an unending formation of faces, trapped in the last, desperate screams of terror as they pressed up against the glass. Even now the laughter and crying, the screaming and the whispering remained in the back of Jet's head. They were simultaneously malevolent and benign, and the tormented shape continued pressing up against the window, scaling ever higher. However, as they continued to press upwards and upwards, it became oddly apparent that they weren't aiming to push through the window, but were rather climbing up and over it. In fact, it didn't seem as though the faces even acknowledged that he was there. Surely they understood that he was in the building, in the little room in the church, but they didn't recognize the glass, or recognize that he was on the other side of it. They swarmed up onto the roof, pulling over each other in order to climb like magnetic putty, each squishy, malleable corpse struggling over each other in quick succession. While it was undoubtedly nerve-wracking to watch, it also provided an eerie insight into the world around them. The window hadn't shattered on impact. It hadn't even shuddered. The chair was fine, too. The corpses just beyond it were ignorant to the window's presence. Was it possible, then, that perhaps something wasn't quite right? Perhaps this room was...
  20. Taen HQ

    Is it alright if I finish up Mother and Her Son quest by myself or should it be completly abandoned/restarted for others???
  21. Wings of Freedom

    Alarms, beacons, and goddamn klaxons! What, was standard age-related hearing loss suddenly outta spec or something? Nines couldn't help but envision the scene: twelve or so corpulent pigs in tailored suits scarfing down platter after platter of pheasant under glass garnished with gold shavings served by a company of bulimic hostesses in miniskirts and skin-tight camisoles that may as well serve as napkins for the politicians they wait on in pale yellow light. "Harrumph! Our soiree was such a *belch* debacle that we've *burp* elected to institute, by executive order of the queen, a law, effective *urp* immediately, mandating the total hearing loss of all citizens, under *burp* penalty of death, to drastically reduce the possibility that they'll put two and two together and conclude that *burp* we're all bleedin' idiots! To this bill, we've attached a runner which enables us to *belch* fund our yearly retreat with the hard-earned money of low-income taxpayers! Yes, quite!" Ha, she'd done it again! Nines was so habituated to humans governing everything there was to govern on the surface! The scene wouldn't be like that at all! Undead politicians would lewdly suck the waitresses dry and discard their bony remains in rubbish bins scattered throughout the room as though they were naught but the skeletons of so many Thanksgiving turkeys, their grotesque bellies distended with blood like leeches impersonating men as a hunchback engraved the names of their victims into a memorial for those who bravely perished when the city was reclaimed in the name of the Black Queen. Gah, Nines will go bonkers if this awful din carries on throughout the night! Bong! Bong! Bong! Knock it off, you gormless Neo-Luddites, you oleaginous toads! Invent a radio or something; don't advertise your incompetence the world o'er! Doubly so when it is much ado about nothing, which is all that this impotent drill is according to Nines - not that anyone cared to ask. The vanishing of the Black Queen of Orisia was a national embarrassment, not a national emergency, and the city guard was promoting it like the latest fuckin' record from a godawful pop band targeting preteens. The queen! Oh, the hapless queen! She can't defend herself! That's why we trust her to run the sodding government. If the queen isn't capable of taking care of herself, how could anyone expect her to be capable of acting in the best interest of hundreds of thousands of people? Hell, the Black Queen probably ruled well-over a million heterogeneous people, and her monarchy, constitutional or not, survived Whispernight. Yes, she was vulnerable - she couldn't hold a candle to a drow matriarch - but she couldn't be a helpwess wittle babeh bawling and curling up in the fetal position whenever and wherever adversity reared its ugly head! These people needed to chill out, like, take a shot, hit that bong, fling gold coins at strippers, or pay a visit to a brothel. If tonight is in fact a horrible night to be the Black Queen, it would be even more critical that the guards played it cool instead of blowing their tops and leaping like lemmings to their, and likely the queen's, demise. Nines wasn't a moron; by dint of her mates' absence, the drow reasoned that those charming psychopaths were embroiled in this somehow. It made her decision not to provide them with a direct means of contacting her after she disentangled herself from that mess of a ball all the wiser. How readily would they tell all if the proper stimulus was applied? Disguised as Nines was, no one would stand a chance of recognizing her. Your average citizen chose to ignore her as he or she walked, or stumbled as the case often was, down the lane past someone who was so obviously homeless. A ratty black cloak, a tattered black hood, oily white handwraps, scraps of newspaper, and the wooden crate in which Nines huddled granted her the anonymity of the downtrodden. Passersby did not merely pretend that she was not there, they willed her out of existence, sanitizing the memory of her to head off less than pleasant thoughts concerning the state of the world. Nines had gone so far as to purchase the location on which her box now sat from one Lucy the Lame three nights ago, seamlessly replacing the old woman while covertly shipping her to Terrenus where she would become a staff member assigned to one of the many humanitarian projects Nines and Ker backed (humanitarian projects that were never fronts for illegitimate businesses or money laundering). It was hilarious, Nines thought, that kinslayers guilty of aiding and abetting the would-be kidnappers of the Black Queen of Orisia would be in the prayers of an elderly, penniless grandmother and a few scores of people, children included, who were down on their luck. Such amusing reflections, surreptitious people-watching, and a series of light trances helped her whittle the time before daybreak away. It was just a precaution. If all went well, all would be as it was at the coronation; Nines would be unseen, unheard, and useless yet again. The others would attain whatever it was they were after, go to ground, and exfiltrate half-a-week before she did. Nines was tasked with recovering or terminating any and all organizational assets within the region before exfiltrating, so she had to be the last asset to ship out. Nines had time to kill in excess. She was bored to tears, and the commotion wasn't helping. She'd trance if she could, but between the alarms and the cross-eyed schmucks pointing at the sky and exclaiming "look," "up in the sky," "it's a bird," and other senseless drivel, she couldn't rest. Of course it's a bird! Birds fly overhead all of the time! How is that surprising? What is wrong these people? Are they impaired? Are they mentally deficient? Have they never seen a duck before? Pfft! That's... Okay, Nines will admit that is one massive duck. One massive black duck. It's peculiar, but it ain't worth shouting about. It's not like anyone here had a vehicle for the duck to dive-bomb anyhow. Even after Nines craned her neck to inspect it in greater depth, she was certain it was a nuisance at best and the light accompanying it was... was a... A FAIRY?! No. No, no, no, no, no. They hadn't. They hadn't transformed the Black Queen of Orisia into the world's largest black swan duck. No, if Rodan transformed the Black Queen of Orisia into an animal, he would've opted for something like a Saint Bernard and Nines wouldn't be tempted to strangle him to death. Nah, nah. He wouldn't transform the Black Queen of Orisia into the single most conspicuous black bird Nines had ever observed and send Lunara soaring through the night sky with her while the whole city, the whole fuckin' city, was turning over every pebble in the road in search of her. "Oh my gods." Tucked safely within her wooden crate, Nines double facepalms. "..." Her silence says it all. Two full minutes later, Nines picks herself up, brushes herself off, and surges toward the temple on the Atitlan Lake. As she sprints down a shadowy alleyway, she casts off her cloak and hood with one motion, tossing the holey fabric into the air behind her. A second later, she has shed her handwraps. Now, Nines is clad in her battledress, that is to say, in reinforced, waterproofed leather, subdued black combat boots, solid black cotton socks, solid black tactical pants with padded titanium knee guards, padded titanium shin guards, and padded titanium thigh guards, padded titanium spaulders, padded titanium rerebraces, padded titanium elbow pads, (all of which are fastened with ties (under) and Velcro (over) for convenience), a solid black, zip-up, studded kangaroo leather jacket with cushioned titanium inserts, a rugged magnetic bracer with Batman-esque sword breakers and several embedded electrical generators concealed within it, wicked, spiked leather gloves with a rubberized grip and metallic veins connected to the aforementioned generators, a solid black battle vest (cut-off) adorned with official patches from her favorite (heavy metal) bands over a solid black women's A-shirt, a duty belt featuring a push knife, a kukri, crampons, two ice picks, a hand crossbow, a pouch of bolts, a dozen unmarked metal canisters, a multi-tool, and a metal flask, and an ergonomic, gray-tinted M17 gas mask lookalike. Reacting to the darkness the tinted lenses provide, her eyes emit beams of eerie red light that flit about the interior of mask as she assesses her environment. Nines herself is a slim lass. She is neither exceptionally tall nor exceptionally short, but for an elf, she is quite muscular. Sections of her obsidian skin are horribly scarred, and a shallow gash extends from the right edge of her eyebrow down to her cheek. Her cropped hair has been dyed charcoal black to match her outfit. As with any other elf, her ears are longer than they are wide and taper to a point. With high cheekbones and the like, Nines possesses a dark beauty, one more intimidating and nightmarish than elegant and divine. Pretty much anyone could tell you that the little finger of her left hand is absent; the sleeve of the glove this finger would manipulate does not respond when Nines bends her other fingers. At a glance, Nines is (by and large) your average drow (exile), if a smidge disfigured. She isn't buxom and carefree; she is graceful yet burdened. There is something about her, however, that a run-of-the-mill being would find highly disconcerting. She is a most unnatural being not in body but in spirit, and even if her unnatural qualities are unseen, they leave their mark on those who interact with her. Nines does not bother seeking entry to the temple. Having disposed of her costume, she retreats from the lamplight and the public eye, darting from cover to cover only when the coast is clear. Though she is toting a fair whack of equipment, Nines is light on her feet and rapid in her approach. Whenever she pauses to catch her breath, she does so in full cover, guaranteeing there will be no witnesses to alert the guard to her terrifically suspicious actions. When she nears the lakeside, Nines dives into the prone position and begins to crawl forward on her stomach, gripping her loaded pistol-crossbow firmly in her right hand. While she squints to cut the light her eyes discharge, the creepy red light indicates her position like the headlights of an automobile or the eyes of a terminator. Nines is both literally and figuratively in the dark, and she may have lost Gabriela and Lunara somewhere along the way. Where could the fairy and the swan duck have gone? Red searchlights begin to comb the surface of the lake as the spooky, almost insectoid or even arachnoid design of Nines's getup becomes more and more pronounced. This can only go well.
  22. Tiandi Wushu School of Martial Arts

    The shock on Double T's face was evident, and Ren guessed that the big man was not used to being overpowered. But despite it being made clear that raw strength wasn't going to be enough, the man charged at his potential master; aiming to send him flying with a lariat. Ren infused his arms with qi and raised his right hand to catch T's arm at the elbow; effectively halting his attack. Once that was done, Ren grabbed the captured arm with his other hand and turned into the attack. Effortlessly he pulled the man off his feet and swung him around in a half circle before throwing him. T would find himself flying through the air, likely landing on the edge of the clearing.
  23. Square Two is a lot like Square One

    "Perhaps." He conceded to the girl's musings. "Or perhaps it could have happened an infinite number of places. It's hard to say." He fell into silence after that, which was initially contemplative before it lapsed into passive brooding, and he maintained it even after they gathered their things and returned to the road. Save for his pained breathing and necessary responses, he didn't speak much more during the rest of their travels that day. Not until the sun knelt into a graceful dusk and one of the many lengthening shadows that laid before them became discernible as one of a man dressed in dark clothes with hair similar to the druid's: long, curly, and black. Thelan stopped and placed a hand on Kalli's shoulder to urge her to do the same. The stranger seemed to be breathing rather heavily, and he recognized the scent of blood radiating from him before he recognized the man as wounded. His head came up like twenty pounds on a string, his hair dangling along with it. When it slid to frame his angular face, Thelan realized it was not a stranger at all. He had seen the man before, but he couldn't quite recall where. The man's dark eyes traveled between the two as a sight he had expected, yet regarded with reluctance. Distrust hinted at a sneer in his dour features and he said, "Glad you made it over the mountains, Druid." The statement sparked shocked realization in the man. When they'd first met, assailants of his had attacked him and Tora, and the man had later joined the ranks of people he had helped ferry across the sea from Draco South to the Cold Mountains. Their landing and the journey they had embarked on there had been suicidal--thus why so many prisoners were allowed to join them. So many had died that only he and twenty one others were left of them by the time they made it to Umbra, and he knew that the man had not been one of them. "As you seem to have been able to do alone." He retorted, leaving his displeasure at the man's silent departure as more than an implication. The warrior chuckled and eyed Kalli, as if trying to puzzle out her worth to Thelan. Then he looked back to the druid. "I need help. I'm injured, and I trust you at least know something about treating wounds." Thelan raised an eyebrow, but he looked to the woman beside him, deferring judgement of him to her.
  24. Souzou, Enraged

    As the beings on the ground felt the tremble of Souzou’s footsteps, so too did the faerie sense his ancient magic, manifested as powerful waves through the air. Lunara flew through the outskirts of Weland towards the epicentre of the quake. She had been passing by the megacity after visiting Sugn in Amalia. Weren’t some members of Abbadon in Weland? She was pretty sure of it, since she remembered wondering how her kin, Kallias, had the gall to return here, even given the skill of disguise natural to their kind. But apparently, the whole lightning rail system was down now, so perhaps the Welanders would find less point in pursuing the terrorists that had bombed their rail some time back. Was this trouble stirred up by those in the organization she had allied herself with? If so, she had to hand it to them. Compared to this, the mission in Blairville she had just completed with Agony was nothing more than a walk in a park. Which one of the leaders had Kallias joined? The unassuming Rodan? Did the erudite branch manage to restore some ancient magic, or did something go wrong while they attempted to do so? The faerie shook her head. She would find out soon enough, and if it wasn’t anything to do with her, she would leave. Once Lunara entered the main part of the city, finding the source of the disturbance was a trivial task. She just had to go in the opposite direction of the fleeing crowds. Her jaw dropped at the sight of the massive being. What the heck was that! Where did it come from? Emergency and military vehicles were speeding towards it, but they looked laughably tiny compared to it. Now, where were the people she was finding? She supposed that they might either have fled, or, if she waited around, one of them might do something flashy that would give their position away. And so she took the wait-and-see approach for now.
  25. Unfinished Business With the Wrong Kind of Follower

    "Oh fine. Be that way then." Dan had had ample time to read over the notes anyway, so he didn't even want them. He just felt in a pouty mood. He drew his weapons, and assumed a stance. The sunset and the tree that for some reason was once again in the background made this all quite dramatic. "So tell me. If by some miracle you beat me, are you gonna try and send me back to another cell?" Dan waited for her to respond. After she did, he would say, "Ready?"
  26. Who wants a pet phoenix?

    Or would you like me to help you first?
  27. The Conspirator

    The next two hours were uneventful. They walked and talked; they sat down and ate; Teddy made a joke and everyone laughed. Eventually they reached a point where everyone was comfortable in their silence, entertained by nothing more than their idle thoughts. The stench grew progressively worse the closer they got to the city. Teddy had no doubt that without his gas mask he’d practically be able to taste the rot in the air; the singed hair and sour milk; the raw sewage and stale tobacco. Rather than make himself gag at the thought, he turned his attention to the buildings up ahead. Great stone obelisks, dotted by a thousand shattered windows. Now that they were within distance, he could see lights flickering in between a few of them. All things considered, it was the best sign they’d seen all day. Power would go a long way in making their stay a comfortable one, if that was possible. Eventually, when the sun began to set, they stood at the edge of a river separating them from the city. About half a mile to their left was a copper bridge, green and rusted from whatever plagued the atmosphere. Some of the cables holding it up had already snapped, and those that hadn’t were well on their way. Teddy lifted his rifle in its direction. With slow, meticulous sweeps, he made a thoughtful sound deep in his throat. “There’s our welcoming party,” he announced. “And I daresay they look ready for dinner.” Lucier stepped beside him, raising his own pair of binoculars. “You think we can make it across?” Teddy made the same sound. Hmm. “If the ghouls don’t kill us, the bridge might. It’s about to keel over any minute now.” He paused, then tilted his rifle slightly lower. “What about that boat down there?” Lucier followed his gaze. “The tour boat?" “Yeah, we could use that.” “Teddy, that thing’s a wreck,” Lucier chided. “And have you seen the water?” “Yeah, I know, it looks like everyone took a shit in it. What’s your point?” Lucier shook his head as if this was an especially thick question. “The boat probably doesn’t even work. None of the cars turned on when we tried them, so I don’t see why this would be any different.” Behind his mask, Teddy rolled his eyes. “Would it kill you to use your imagination a little?” “I’m sorry?” “Look, say we get on and the boat doesn’t work. That’s fine. All you have to do is use your brain-“ Teddy tapped a finger to his temple. “-to get it moving.” Lucier gave him a blank look. “Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to move twenty tons-“ “On water,” Teddy corrected. "You should be able to generate enough of a push to get it drifting at least. It’s that or the bridge.” “Or we keep looking for another way across.” “And risk getting caught in the dark? No way.” Lucier didn’t have an immediate response to the gunslinger’s jab. Instead, he turned his gaze to the darkening sky, the bridge, and finally the tour boat. “I guess it can’t hurt to try.” They made their way down to the boat, where it was docked by a small pier whittled down to its bones. Every step was met with a painful creak, and one of the floorboards actually snapped under Teddy’s weight. He took the time to uncoil the rope tethering the ship while everyone else boarded, then stepped in himself once he was sure there weren’t any more anchors to be dealt with. Lucier stood at the wheel of the ship. He was stretching his arms, his back, his chest, and took a deep breath like a man ready to sprint. “Told you it didn’t work,” he muttered, jabbing a thumb at the ignition. "Good to go?” Teddy patted him on the back. “It’s all you.” Lucier nodded grimly and raised his arms. They flexed instantly, quaking ever so slightly as if he was pushing against a castle wall. Nothing seemed to happen at first, as the boat sat lifelessly in dead waters, but then it inched forward imperceptibly, and kept going and going until it picked up a steady rhythm. After what seemed like an eternity of this, Lucier had to finally sit down and wipe the sweat off his brow. “Please tell me that was good enough,” he gasped. “That was good,” Teddy offered reluctantly. “But I think we’re going to need another go or two.” Lucier looked out the window and moaned a low swear. He’d gotten them halfway across the river, however they were already slowing down to a standstill. “Alright, just… give me a minu-“ Before he could finish, a shriek like broken glass sliced through the air. Teddy whipped his head, realizing the sound had come from overhead. When he opened his mouth to say something, a rush of wind violently battered the surrounding waters, and something heavy slammed onto their roof. No one dared to move. They watched each other with muted breaths, listening to their boat whine as something pawed at its surface, scraping the metal. It rumbled something shrill and awful, like an icy storm raging deep in its gut. Both Lucier and Teddy unholstered their weapons.
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