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Wade

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About Wade

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    Spicy Boi
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    Canada
  • Occupation
    Government mook

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  1. Wade

    Biazo Isle

    1. Mr. E

      Mr. E

      Part 1 Complete... Processing data... Retrieving key...

      Error key retrieval failed

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      Missing links = x1 [Final Part]

      Key Codes 1 & 2 accessed. [Final Part] <unlocked> 

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      [FINAL PART] Processing...Loading...

      Error... [Final Part] Delayed. ETA Unknown. Look again soon.

    2. Wade

      Wade

      Shoutout to @vielle for getting the answer first

  2. Wade

    The Civil War

    1. Mr. E

      Mr. E

      Part 2 Complete... Processing data... Retrieving key...

      Error key retrieval failed

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      Missing links = x2 [Part 1] [Final Part]

  3. Same. I was convinced ‘the civil war’ was the answer but guess not
  4. Wade

    the symphony within

    Crowley glanced at Shirin. Then he glanced back at Pluto. It became immediately apparent that neither of them had anything to say to each other. “Good talk, Pluto.” “Indeed, Sir Crowley.” They separated in an instant, evading awkward silence by the skin of their teeth. Close call, Crowley thought, approaching the bench on which Shirin sat. She was staring at Himei in its box, like a kid who’d been given a dictionary on their birthday. “C’mon, follow me,” he said. They walked over to the mannequins he’d been training with earlier. Each of them had a wooden sword glued to one hand, a wooden shield glued to the other, and a caked-on smile he’d painted using the last kale smoothie to ever tarnish his life. “I hope you don’t mind,” he said, gesturing to the mannequins. “I found them in an attic while I was snooping around the manor. Didn’t look like they’d been used in a long time, so I figured I’d go ahead and help myself.” He tapped one on the stomach with his sword. It barely wobbled in response. “They’re somewhat heavy, surprisingly. You won’t have to worry too much about knocking them down. You can also adjust the position of their arms, that way you can practice attacking from different angles.” Moving closer, Crowley took a position in front of Shirin. He tapped the blunted edge of his sword against his own calf this time. “But first, we’ll have to teach you proper stances. An athlete’s no good if they don’t know how to move their feet.” To start her off, he ran her through a simple stretching routine. Then they moved on to training exercises that revolved around basic positioning. How to properly hold a sword, how to angle her torso, where to plant her feet- it lasted the better part of the hour. Anything that had to do with swinging a sword didn’t come until later, when Shirin had developed a sense of familiarity with her own body. “Great, you’re a natural at this,” Crowley declared. “Now you won’t be tripping over yourself every ten seconds.” The next step of the session would likely be the most banal part of their day. It focused on offense and maneuvering, with a heavy emphasis on repetition. Crowley forced Shirin to perform the same maneuver over and over again, the same lunge, the same swing, the same drink of water because he didn’t want her to get dehydrated, all until she probably hated him. And if she didn’t, she would. “Fantastic! You are now capable of skewering a rat. The rodents of Ravenel Manor shall soon come to know the mighty Shirin’s wrath!” The third part was all about learning how to defend. As expected, Shirin performed better here than she did in the last segment. Where her passive nature bred reluctance and uncertainty in terms of attacking, it enabled her with a strategic patience that kept her vigilant and responsive. “Good reflexes,” Crowley said, favouring her with a smile. It was the first genuine compliment he’d given her all day. “Now hit me.” Shirin looked at him. “Go on. I know you want to.” When she didn’t right away, he scared her with a sudden- “OOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA BOO!” Whether Shirin attacked out of anger or fear, he didn’t really care. The point was to get her to swing, and thus the real training would start. Shirin lunged, angling a hasty thrust for Crowley’s midsection. He pivoted to the side, darted forward mere inches from her face, and shoved her flat on her back before she could even retract from the motion. “Don’t lean into it so much,” he said, placing a hand on his hip. “If you’re going to pull something like that, you better not be standing still.” He helped her up. “Try again.” And so Shirin tried again. And again and again. Crowley made sure to tell her where she went wrong every single time. When she swept at his legs and he chopped her on the forehead, he said, “Watch your face.” When she tried to trick him with a feint and Himei was knocked out her hands, he said, “Stop using your eyes so much. I can read you like a book.” When she tried to defend against his swing and he surprised her with a shove, he said, “Don’t forget that I can still use my hands.” It was a gruelling process. Fortunately, skill was best forged in fire. Little by little, Shirin learned from her mistakes. Whether she noticed it or not, she began to fight with more confidence, even predicting some of Crowley’s attacks and successfully parrying the occasional blow. He could see the wheels spinning in her head, trying to anticipate his next move, and he was reminded of what he’d told her that morning. Remember that it’s always important to think. Still, she never hit him. He was always too quick. “Let’s take a break,” he announced, handing her a canteen. Part of him winced at the bruises he’d inflicted upon her arms. “You’re doing very well. You almost got me that time. I’d wager you have more of a knack for this than you'd care to believe.” Crowley took a swig of water, then lowered himself onto a bench. He regarded Shirin with a thoughtful look. “Tell me. Where’s your head at right now?”
  5. Wade

    What do YOU do on your down time?

    I feel like my downtime is fairly generic, but here goes: I play video games often, with a preference for RPGs... and an addiction to Overwatch I'm only getting over now. Then there's TV. Anime's cool. I usually unwind with an hour's viewing before going to bed. And books. Books, books, books. Can't live without them, which is why I have a second job at a bookstore. As for the rest, well, I go to the gym. DM a D&D session with my friends once a week. I've been thinking about joining a badminton club, since I really miss it from high school. I was serious enough in my last year that I almost made it to nationals, and it seems a shame to just let that all go.
  6. Wade

    The Catalyst

    Entry 23 Construction finished last week. Trials are well underway. As for things with the team, they’ve been… surprisingly not terrible. Everyone’s calmed down a little. We had this two-hour session about teamwork. Didn’t go as well as I’d planned, so I decided to grow a spine. Whenever conversations get out of hand now, I channel as much Cumberbatch into my voice as possible. I like to think it makes me sound intimidating, Parker’s laughing fits notwithstanding. Once I get the ball rolling, it’s just a matter of using big words. Written reprimand, suspension, pay cut—shuts a situation down like you wouldn’t believe. We’re getting to the point where all it takes is a cough. I’m finally beginning to understand the allure of power. Though in Echo’s case, I really did have suspend her. Gaia almighty, she was pissed. Social politics aside, the Catalyst is performing admirably. It goes beyond my every expectation in ways I hadn’t thought possible. The only issue I can think of is the staggering rate at which it consumes exalta crystals. If an airship is a kid in a candy shop, then the Catalyst is an Ursa Madean at a McRonald’s. Our main source of inspiration was the Terran warp gates stationed in major cities. While the Catalyst isn’t a portal at its core, it functions very similarly to the real thing. When activated, it’s like a window peering into space, full of stars and darkness and distantly screaming shadows. We’ve taken precautions, of course, to avoid intrusions from the other side. Nothing’s tried to cross over yet, but you can never be too careful. In terms of our preliminary discoveries, why don’t I make a list? Void matter cannot reliably exist in our world on its own. It requires either a conduit, a vessel, or a source of energy to feed on. Without any of these things, void matter dissolves into smoke. No discerning particles have been observed to linger in its wake. Given the opportunity, void energy will create basic molecular structures. With every attempt, these structures become increasingly complex. Many of us are inclined to believe that the Void is learning to exist to within our universe. Every ‘mistake’ is a step in its evolution. Unlike native void matter, these newly-created structures do not fade. Some of them decay at an abnormally rapid pace, but they do not fade. The Void’s incompatibility with our world appears to be unique to itself. We sent a probe to the other side, and it continues to exist without fail. Why this is, we haven’t the slightest clue. The debates surrounding its subject have proven highly constructive. Murtry’s hypothesis holds the most water, in my opinion. He believes the laws of our universe are significantly harsher than those of the Void’s. They are rigid and uniform, as laws should be. The Void, on the other hand, is a flexible chaos. For instance, void energy can be applied in a manner similar to magic. I can use either to create fire, whose properties are identical in both cases. Where magic physically interacts with our world to accomplish this task, however, void energy does not. There is no interaction, no change even on the subatomic scale. Magic will produce a chemical reaction, siphon a pre-existing fire through a dimensional pathway, convert ambient sources of energy, or any other plausible means of creating fire. With void energy, the fire simply appears. No cause, just an effect. It’s as if the Void can be whatever it wants. Will made real. I’m eager to find out how the first law of thermodynamics feels about all of this, as conversation rates don’t appear to be consistent. One isolated joule of void energy might be worth ten joules the next hour, fifty the next minute, remaining constant for two days before changing yet again. Its unpredictability makes it difficult to work with. We need a way to tame its application. Fortunately, the possibilities outweigh our frustration, and we’ve never been so determined.
  7. Wade

    The Catalyst

    Entry 12 Echo is the best thing that’s ever happened to this team. She’s also the worst thing that’s ever happened to this team. We’ll start with the good news: she’s figured out how to build the Catalyst. It took her two days, seven coffees, and – surprise! – a stick of gum. Let’s not forget about the one look, either. Or the mind-splitting profanities. Helpful as she’s been, some of the things coming out of her mouth simply aren’t meant for human ears. I’m still trying to get over the joke she told to the review board last week. I actually had a dream about it the other night. It ended with us snorting cocaine in an alley. Nightmares aside—Chawla wasn’t kidding. Echo is a magitech goddess of the highest degree. She could turn water into wine, then wine into a spaceship, all while solving the relativistic mass energy of a peanut butter milkshake. The synchrotron booster? Fixed. The cryo instigators? Better than fixed. The graviton accelerator? Wasn’t a problem. She had a field day arguing with Murtry when he insisted on needing two. Therein lies the rub. I should elaborate on what I mean by ‘field day’. To put it gently, if this had been a battle, she would’ve been the one standing on his mutilated corpse, beating her chest in triumph, watching his fingers twitch in a useless gesture of complete and utter defeat. It should’ve been funny. It should’ve been cathartic. Murtry’s been the biggest pain in my ass since day one of this project. But then he started crying. That’s when I knew we had a problem. If Echo could make someone like Murtry cry, what did that mean for the rest of us? Egos. It always comes down to egos. Chawla got me more brainpower, yes, but that means more hot air. Echo might as well be a volcano spewing black smoke into our balloon, which is at once intoxicating in every sense of the word. What do I do? I hate having to go back to the drawing board. I was naïve to think this problem would go away on its own. I’m not going to ask Chawla for help again (not that I asked him the first time), but it’s become abundantly clear that I’m not very good at managing people in an organizational setting. I’m a scientist first, and a leader second. This isn’t at all what I imagined when I agreed to take this position. On a concluding note: construction begins tomorrow. Whether it goes beyond the Catalyst, well, that depends on how I feel in the morning.
  8. Wade

    The Catalyst

    Entry 7 What is the Catalyst? The idea is quite simple: a device that can channel the Void without the need of a living intermediary. The whole team agrees on that part. It’s the glue which binds us all together. If we could stop arguing for just one second, maybe we’d actually get around to building the damn thing. It’s been two weeks since orientation. We’re still getting used to each other. Everyone here’s smart as a whip, PhDs all around, and that’s exactly the problem. Too many egos in one lab, no room for any sort of reliable collaboration. It’s always, “My idea’s better,” or, “Why would you ever use neutrinos instead of axions?” or, “I’m surrounded by idiots.” To which I’m tempted to say, “Fuck you all.” Unfortunately, as project leader, I must maintain a certain degree of professionalism. It’s my job to settle disputes, and so I’ll restrain myself from firing anyone too early. Anyway, the Catalyst. Why are we building it? For starters, it’s safer. Much, much safer. Since research began, scientists have only attempted to use people as conduits. No one’s discovered a rat genus with a knack for spacetime manipulation, so we’ve had to settle for the likes of Itylra Yurieshanyaar—who won’t be joining us, regrettably. People in possession of an affinity like hers can manipulate void energy with minimal backlash. While this might sound ideal, the key word here is ‘minimal’. Everyone has a limit. Exceeding that limit is dangerous. Schizophrenia, apathy, permanent hallucinations; volatile cancers, magical castration, spontaneous cell death. Those are just a few symptoms from a long list that has yet to be completed. I haven’t even mentioned environmental hazards. I’m not sure I want to. The second problem stems from this limit. Once exhausted, trials are done for the day—the week, potentially. This puts a severe cap on how much research can be conducted in a finite amount of time. It’s not uncommon to see researchers tackle pet projects on the side or take the day off when the well runs dry. They don’t get paid in the latter case. I always get paid. Finally, people with higher affinities are in incredibly short supply. Volunteers even more so. I don’t blame them for a second. By building the Catalyst, we seek to overcome these obstacles. Machines aren’t fragile like we are, nor do they tire as we do. They are perfectly modifiable. They can be rebuilt. They physically outperform us in every department, with some minor, unrelated exceptions. If we manage to create a successful design—which we will, I’m sure of it—the Void’s secrets will be ours for the taking. I can’t think of anything more exciting. But again, the challenge. Coming to a consensus on how to build it. The Catalyst will never see the light of day unless I figure out a solution to rampant hubris. That’s what I thought until this morning. Colonel Chawla pulled me aside after breakfast. He understands we’ve been struggling, and he’s decided to pull some strings. We’re set to receive a new team member now. A genius, apparently. He thinks they can fix this whole mess with one look and a stick of gum. I asked him who they were. He gave me their file. After giving it a quick read, I’m almost inclined to agree. Echo Sinclair. A private and an airship captain. No one really seems to know how she managed to pull that one off. She got into Hell’s Gate Second Charter University at the age of 15. Graduated early with a PhD in engineering with a specialization in magiphysics. Since joining the military, she’s been involved in a number of projects, all of which have seen tremendous innovation in each of their respective fields. Power armour, guns, vehicles, robots; I get the sense she has a unique disposition towards mechanized violence. How that will translate to building the Catalyst, we’ll have to wait and see, but I stand cautiously optimistic that she won’t convert it into a raving death trap.
  9. 'OUR INFLUENCE GROWS'

    1. supernal

      supernal

      They’re already here 

  10. @vielle you owe me a guac pass
  11. Wade

    the symphony within

    Crowley enjoyed combat for a good many reasons. In a manner of speaking, it was a sport to him. He couldn’t think of it as anything else. The thrill, the exertion, the test of skill, the clashing of wills? The glory of winning? Nothing in the world compared. Fighting had been a necessity when he’d become a gladiator. The sword and shield were, quite literally, his only bread and butter. It wasn’t a happy life for most. Overstay your welcome, someone usually put you in the ground. Crowley had lost a few good friends that way, and he himself been around for quite some time. Live by the sword, die by the sword, right? That was the saying. Even so, he fought. Those decisive moments of victory spoke to him in a way nothing else ever had. He kept on training, kept on bleeding, and, by extension, kept on winning. That was the real goal, after all--to satisfy some primal craving for dominance. Then he became Oathsworn. Crowley the First. It would’ve been a grand moment had it not stripped him entirely of meaning. There was no hard-fought sense of achievement, no base pleasure to indulge in. Just an abrupt sense responsibility that wore him like an ill-fitting pair of shoes. But he learned to adapt. That was the nature of hardship. He made the title his own and eventually found purpose in its power. Not only was he the strongest man in the ring, but the strongest man in the three islands. Not even the other Oathsworn, for all their fire and ice, could defeat him and his shadows. The Tyrant King was the third turning point. He tailored Crowley to a single task: killing, which he quickly discovered was very different from ordinary fighting. In the process, he turned into a murderer. An efficient one at that. He plucked lives from platoons as easily as he plucked blades of grass from the earth. There was a challenge in slaughtering armies, still. It was undeniably hard work. Crowley found a perverse modicum of satisfaction in unleashing his power without restraint. Perhaps that was why Orenmir had chosen him. The blade was something of a Darwinist by nature. It fed on his natural inclination to excel, pushed him to assert his existence, stayed silent at his occasional mercy, and crowed at his violence with the fondness of a parent. It was the closest they’d ever been to each other. In blood, their bond was strengthened. It was at that moment that Crowley knew never to trust the blade again. And so, when noon came, it wasn’t with Orenmir that he practiced with. The sword he held was simple steel, long and dull, heavy in his hands. It did not speak to him. It did not pry into his thoughts. It left him alone with the wooden mannequins and the unmasked sun. The only thing he heard between lunges was his own patchy breathing, along with the distant chirping of an avian audience while he worked up a sweat. Faster. He’d been excited before he started. A little worried as well. Farming had kept his body in relatively good shape, which would spare him a great deal of pain at the end of the day. His skill, on the other hand, should’ve degraded significantly. This was his first time picking up a sword in a long time, and he’d expected a miserable performance out of himself. Faster. There hid surprise: his performance was anything but. He was strong, he was fast. Instinct drove his every move. He was at once graceful and ferocious, wild without restraint, throwing himself into his training like a lion unleashed from its cage. He felt at home immediately. His muscles rejoiced with pleasurable torment. Every micro-tear was a day, a repentance for his idleness. Just like riding a bike, he’d thought. Of course, that didn’t mean he was perfect. Sharp as he might have been, the years had still done their work to dull his edge. He could feel the lag in his reflexes as keenly as he felt the heat roiling off his back, in addition to a choleric burn that ravaged his chest and forced him into winded pauses. Had he been pitched against a younger version of himself, he would’ve been dead within the minute. The thought spurred him like no other. Faster, and so he went. “Master Crowley?” Crowley paused mid-swing. A familiar attendant was approaching. He held a few waterskins in his hands, three to be specific. “Your refill,” he said. Crowley lowered the sword. He took one of the waterskins with a breathless nod, then began to drink and drink and drink until he had to force himself to stop. “Thank you,” he said, wiping a hand across his mouth. “I’ll come find you if I need anything else.” As the attendant turned to leave, Crowley noticed Shirin arrive with Himei’s box. She made her way to a nearby flowerbed, where she began to speak with a man watering the plants. “You haven’t seen the Oathsworn invited to Hildebrand around here, have you?” “Right over here,” Crowley called out. He approached Shirin and the grey-haired man. “A friend of yours?” he asked, before sticking out a slick hand. “Walter Crowley, but please, call me Crowley.” He looked down at the plants the man was about to water. “Your flowers are dead,” he pointed out.
  12. https://www.valucre.com/profile/13564-obelus/?status=52158&type=status There’s a link to a YouTube video featuring an Eastern Bluebird. I haven’t been following the ARG as closely as before, so I may be missing something here. Anyone got any ideas?
  13. Wade

    H&V Episode 1: A City Abandoned

    My thoughts were on Roxanne later that night. I was still reeling from the fact that I’d gotten her number. What I’d done to deserve it, I never could’ve told you, but it didn’t matter so much as the fact that I’d gotten got her number. Bogwandi’s gonna freak. As I flopped onto the couch, a part of me suspected the digits were made-up. A girl like her probably got asked out all the time, so it made sense that she could’ve played me on the spot. But even then, I was in too good a mood to really consider the possibility. One second it was there, the next I was throwing in the metaphorical trash, replacing it with a celebratory bag of peanut N&N’s while I turned on the news. “-and we are breaking it now with a report of a recent explosion downtown. It happened sometime after 9:00 PM tonight, in an old office building across from Palgard General. It was followed shortly by gunfire as members of the King Spiders converged on the hospital, and police are responding as we speak-“ Click. I flew from the sofa and ran to my room, then dug out a small cardboard box from the air vent behind my bed. I dumped its contents on my dresser: a cobalt suit jacket, matching blue pants, knee-high socks, and a ridiculous white scarf. It looked like something straight out the colonial era, dashed with a hint of royal flair. My costume, in other words. It looked awful. Smiling, I reached under the bed a second time and pulled out another box. Inside was a butterfly knife, a tricorn hat, brown leather shoes, and a plain white mask; no lips, no nose, just eye slits and a black spandex hood. I threw those in a gym bag while I changed into everything else. The finishing touches were a silenced 9mm, which I’d bought off the black market, and a dark Kevlar vest, which I’d also bought off the black market. It should’ve been surprising how easy it was to purchase them when I did, but Palgard was Palgard. Anyone over the age of five could’ve bought an arsenal. So long as you had the money, the subtlety, and you knew the right people, the door would always be open to you. It was that easy. Once the suit was on, I threw track pants and a sports hoodie overtop. Nothing showed, not the scarf, nor the knee-high socks. I grabbed my keys and made my way down the stairwell until I reached the apartment’s underground parking lot. Waiting in the corner was an old Leon Crusader, polished to a shine and looking like the day it rolled off the factory lines. It had been a gift from my parents when I turned sixteen, and I’d been taking care of it ever since. A lot of the money I saved as a result of my scholarship had gone towards refurbishing it. “Okay,” I whispered, tossing the gym bag over to the passenger seat. I was already planning out the quickest route to the hospital as I thundered onto the street. “Nothing crazy tonight,” I reminded myself, turning on the radio. “Remember, you still feel awful-” I’M BURNING THROUGH THE SKYYY, YEEEEAAAAAH TWO HUNDRED DEGREES, THAT’S WHY THEY CALL ME MR. FAHREN-HEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIT I’M TRAVELLING AT THE SPEED OF- I turned off the radio. Eddie Mercury got me way too pumped. I slowed down later when a roadblock flashed less than a kilometer away. Police were redirecting traffic away from downtown, making room for ambulances to come and go, alongside the occasional firetruck honking away at breakneck speeds. Behind them, roiling black smoke billowed into the night sky, and the familiar rattle of gunfire turned the air brittle and sharp. I turned on a side street before I had the chance to get caught up in the blockage. At some point, I found a parking spot in a neighbourhood area close to my old high school. There wasn’t anyone around but I found an alley just to be safe, where I had time to change and hide my bag in a dumpster, under several layers of garbage. “Mask on,” I recited, ready to pull the spandex over my head. Then I paused, turned the mask over, and looked at it for a good ten seconds. It’s missing something. I pulled out my butterfly knife, letting the ends snap in a quick flourish. I started dragging the blade across my palm, careful not to cut too deeply. A thin blue line appeared and began to weep dark rivulets, and I flicked my hand like a whip, spraying the mask with blood. Badass. The cut coagulated instantly; however, it didn’t fully heal. I could seal minor injuries at the cost of a few hundred calories, depending on the severity of the wound. Scarring was usually non-existent, which saved me a lot of trouble. I couldn’t imagine explaining to someone why I’d gone through an emo phase as a cover-up story. “Mask on,” I repeated, slipping the spandex over my head. One tricorn and two white gloves later, and I was ready to venture out into the chaos. Clang, clang, clang. Huff, huff, huff. “Oh wait, NO-“ That was me climbing ladders and jumping across rooftops. Eventually, I found a solid vantage point overlooking all of Palgard General. It was an absolute disaster down there. Good thing I had chosen the valiant struggle of parkour. I crouched low to the floor, holding on to my hat as a bullet pinged nearby, and scanned the streets for anything of interest - anything that didn’t involve walking directly into a firefight. My powers weren’t particularly flashy, and I had to be smart about how I used them. Death wasn’t the preferable end to my official debut as a hero. A blur of cyan and magenta suddenly caught my eye, bright and quick. I probably wouldn’t have seen it from the ground below, so that was another point in favour of parkour. Reflex rocketed my body into a mad dash as the neon glow disappeared around a corner, and I ran and ran and ran, arms pumping, legs swinging, until my chest burned like fire and sweat beaded my forehead. My efforts were rewarded when the neon flared back to life. I grinned underneath my mask. It ziplined to the rooftop ahead of me and took off with the ferocity of a handicapped wolf. Handicapped, because it appeared to be carrying something rather large on its shoulder. A white lab coat suggested it was a person, a doctor of sorts to be specific. What does the infamous Beast want with a doctor? I wondered. An explosion abruptly tore me from my thoughts. I glanced to the left in time to see debris raining from the sky- -before someone caught it with their hands. And they were flying. I paused. Everyone did, I think. It was like the whole world had stopped just to watch. Reluctantly, I switched my attention back to Beast, who was already getting away. It seemed a pity that I had to go chase her now and leave the action behind. “Curses,” I muttered, getting into character. I stayed on Beast’s tail for a good while. She was having a hard time shaking me off with that person weighing her down. I decided to take a risk, swerving on a detour my eyes picked up on the fly, and bolted faster than I’d thought possible. Somehow, I’d managed to cut her off. “HA HA!” I exclaimed, holding up a finger. My breaths came in ragged and insufficient. “Why if it isn’t the famous Beast and her new pet scientist! Or should I say the Beauty and the Beast? You are quite lovely, doctor.” I placed one hand on my hip and made a grand gesture to my chest with the other. An incredulous pause gave me the opportunity to prepare my most bombastic voice. “I am Blueblood, Scourge of Villainy, Duke of Biscuits, and Earl of Grey! Allow me to assist you, fellow hero! Let us join our strength!” I looked at Beast more closely. “Hmm. Forgive me, my lady. I believe I have made a mistake in calling the doctor the Beauty."
  14. Wade

    H&V Episode 1: A City Abandoned

    I made my way across the river, into the heart of downtown proper: a landscape of limitless tetanus like the abandoned construction sites of old. The streets were business as usual that morning. People getting coffee, getting to work, getting their fix, getting scammed. Me, I just wanted to get a haircut, so I kept a move on and my head ducked low. I found the salon on one of the main streets, next to a dental clinic of all things—which looked trustworthy in the sense that the owner bothered to invest in a reno. Most places I knew were these tiny little dumps with no logo and no sign. They almost always operated on an honour system promising your teeth wouldn’t end up on the black market. “Hey, how’s it going?” The salon was small but charming. Leather chairs, brightly-lit mirrors, a vibe that whispered I can make you look like Ryan Gooseling. Pretty standard fare, exactly what you’d expect. Then there was the gangster across the counter. His vibe distinctly screamed take my hand and let fear be your guide. Fuuuuuuuuck. This was a front organization. Bogwandi had forsaken me yet a second time. Tattoos, piercings, and biceps bigger than my shins? Huge red flag. No way that guy cut people’s hair looking like he belonged in a supermax. Calm down. I swept my gaze across the room. Maybe there was still hope. White hair, killer heels, lips so red they looked like candy... ... Nope. She wasn't there. No one came close to matching the description. I could tell the guy at the counter was starting to get impatient as I eyeballed his staff, so I walked up to the counter when I should’ve just turned around and walked out the door. “Pretty good, thanks,” I answered, trying my best to appear casual. “Is there, uh…” I paused. It hit me then that Bogwandi had never given me her name. Is the hot girl with the white hair here? You didn’t say shit like that. The gangster quirked an eyebrow. “Do you have an appointment? We don’t take walk-ins.” “I do.” It was a spur of the moment lie. At least this way, I could make it look like they’d forgotten to write me down. “At 10:30, for Calvin Church. The lady on the phone said that was the only available slot.” The gangster looked down at his binder. “I don’t have you written down here.” Perfect. “Really? There must be a mistake.” The gangster flipped through the pages, examining the days and months. “Are you sure you didn’t book another date by accident?” “One hundred and ten percent positive.” “Sunday, February ninth?” “Sunday, February ninth.” A few seconds passed. I considered my options. “Well, hey, if I’m not in there, I guess I’m not in there.” I worked the right amount of disappointment into a what manifested as a tight-lipped smile. “Is there anything we can do, though? I live kinda far. The bus only runs to my place about once every half hour.” The gangster closed his binder. “Give me a minute.” He stepped around the counter to go talk to his coworkers. Each of them looked at me in turn. They all shook their heads. I waited patiently while the gangster disappeared through a door that read ‘EMPLOYEES ONLY’. At some point, I decided to take out my phone and check out the news. “Hey!” a voice called. I looked up and there she was. White hair, killer heels, lips so red they looked like candy. I fell for her like a piano falls down seven flights of stairs. “Cal, right?” she said. “Can I call you Callie?” Lady, you can call me whatever the hell you want. “My name’s Roxanne,” she continued, sitting me down in one of the leather chairs. “But obviously that’s too long—so you can call me Roxy.” I tried (and failed) not to stare at her from the mirror. A few of her fingers were bandaged—I assumed she’d cut herself on the job—and somehow those even looked attractive. I felt like a total creep. “Well, aren’t you handsome? Look at you!” She suddenly pinched my cheek. “You adorable little devil! I just wanna eat you up!” Here was the thing about making me blush. My blood was blue. I had never in my entire life looked like I wanted to throw up more than I did in that moment. “So how may I be of service, sweetheart?” I focused on her bandaged fingers, then on the scissors pinched between them. The thought that she’d cut off my earlobe by accident scared me less than my own reflection. “I think medium length would be good,” I said, suppressing a nervous stutter. “Something I can run my fingers through, not too long but not too short.” It was a vague description, I know, but Roxanne seemed to get it right away. She got to cutting without a second thought, taking several inches off the sides. Then came the back, the top, the bangs, and through it all she kept asking me questions. How’s your day going, how’s the weather out there, what do you study, oh wow, you want to be a doctor? Surprisingly, I wasn’t a terrible conversationalist. I actually got her to laugh a couple of times. Part of me suspected it was motivated by the prospect of a good tip, but my confidence, starved for attention, fed on her laughter all too eagerly. “Got anything exciting planned for the week?” she asked, gently pushing on my skull with two fingers. “Not really,” I said, tilting my head in response. “I’ve got a chem lab due on Thursday, so I’ll probably be busy with that.” A beat passed. “But maybe we could grab drinks sometime?” The snipping stopped. It was a nanosecond of a pause, and yet it spoke volumes of how clearly I’d messed up, and oh my god, things were going to be awkward now, what was I thinking, this girl had to be like six years older than me, why would she ever want to go out with you, what the hell were you thinking? “If you’re free, of course.” HNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHH.
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