Dead Man's Party

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Lady Entropy
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Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 05 Oct 2009 22:33

Pois é.

A novelita do Meu Nano de ano passado. Acabei por tentar limpar um bocadinho da história, para mandar imprimir pelo Lulu (que tem portes muito mais baratos), mas ainda está muito em bruto.

Esta foi a capa que fiz para o Lulu, graças ao bendito Photoshop e CorelPhotopaint. Acho que não ficou muito mal. Fiz uma copia escrita e andei a distribuir por amigos que usam para fazer anotações para coisas a alterar.

Francamente, não gostei muito do que escrevi, por isso nem me vou incomodar a mandar para editoras.


Image



Prelude


It occurred to me, as I was dangled by my throat like some cheap rag doll over the gaping abyss, that indeed the wise man was correct, and it is amazing the amount of trouble one can get into if one but applies oneself to it.

I’ll give you that families can be dysfunctional to a point, and knowing myself, I know I’m hardly the one to throw stones, but I always assumed certain things were taboo in the microcosms that are a grouping of people united by common blood and genetics.

Chief among them would be killing your own offspring.

I could make an addendum here, which would be to say that if your offspring is a bunch of murdering maniacs, decided to become orphans and heirs before Mother Nature decided she was done with you, then all bets are off and you’re scot-free to do whatever you can to ensure your own survival. However, said addendum is, in my opinion, unnecessary, as I trust you to be smart enough to come to that conclusion on your own.

However, and back to the troubles at hand, that was clearly not the case, as I, even if not the dutiful daughter, and not having seen my father for over ten years now, clearly posed not a threat to my father’s well-being or continual existence.

Then, I must truly ask, why was he grinning like a lunatic, as if someone had told him a joke I had missed as his bulky and exceedingly furry bodyguard dangled me over the edge of his sky rise apartment balcony?

I know I should have been seeing my life flashing in front of my eyes, but my mind seemed not interested in passing reruns, and wanted rather to focus on trivial matters. Such as, for example: Why the hell did my esteemed father, of all people and taking into account what he could do, needed a bodyguard?
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 05 Oct 2009 22:34

Chapter 1:



It had been nearly a year since the last Red File.

Most of the scars it left had begun to heal, but I still woke up screaming in the dead of night. Like always, I got up and stumbled to the bathroom, my heart threatening to burst out of my chest, my blood pounding so loudly in my ears that I though I was going to go deaf. Like always, I threw handfuls of water against my face, blessed my lucky stars, and dosed myself heavily with barely legal drugs. And, like always, I went back to bed, where I lay awake until morning. The images in my dreams had faded with time, becoming blotchy and diffuse, more impressions than true memories. But the oppressing dread that came with them had yet to show signs of relenting. Sleep afterwards had always been impossible.

My extremely reduced group of friends constantly reminded me that my job might very well be the death of me. I was pretty sure it would. I had had more run-ins with death during the past year and a half than most professional military have in their entire lives. My job was going to kill me, like it had done to my predecessor. The trick is making it to a ripe age before your mistakes catch up with you. I was determined to manage it, one way or the other.

It’s easy to understand, then, why my mood was far from the best. Having to sit on an overpriced and overdesigned chair, clearly built for someone far taller and longer-legged than me, did little to improve my humour. I just wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted sleep. I wanted proper coffee, not this watery slop they call coffee. More, I wanted the dreams to finally stop. It had been a few weeks since the last one, so I had been indulging in the luxury of believing that I finally had gotten over it. I was restless. Usually, I am not squeamish about board meetings. I have a good tolerance to verbosity, and some good ideas do show up, if you actually bother listening – I am patient, despite the fiery temperament that came with the genetic package. But today had not started in a good way.

My confrontational attitude had always amused The Boss. Possibly, it was why he sent me memos about every possible board meeting, even those not falling directly under my section’s jurisdiction, much to my supervisor’s delight. It meant that he wouldn’t have to bother having to attend the meetings himself. Instead, he got to stay locked in the lab having fun. Bastard. If he wasn’t one of my aforementioned sparse friends, I'd start skipping the meetings and letting him take the fall for not having an adequate section representative (read, him) attending. But what are you going to do? Friends always keep your back, and I was certainly not going to buck the trend. I shifted in my seat for the hundredth time, which caught The Boss’s attention, and earned me one of his brief but dazzling smiles. He always insisted that I sat at his side, sharing quiet remarks, using every excuse he had to let his lips almost brush my ear when he did so, and attempting to make me laugh.

I wondered at times if he had me go to the meetings because I was a comedic element or if he just wanted everyone seeing him so very clearly flirting with me. And that was disturbing – he was a shrewd and capable businessman, one that would never indulge in playing with danger enough to skirt the edges of what could result in a sexual harassment lawsuit. Furthermore, he could have had almost anyone else he wanted, in- or outside the firm, with but a glance of his amazing green eyes: close to six-eight, broad enough to look threatening but not bulky, with pale blonde hair and angular features, that, in him, looked devastatingly attractive, it was small wonder he had a whole lot of admirers. The thin, wire-rimmed glasses he wore (and that I bet he didn’t actually need) made him look more scholarly and civilized, but did little to conceal the air of danger that exuded from him. Apparently, I was one of the few red-blooded women to be turned off by it. I noticed long ago that the warmth he displayed never reached his eyes. Even when he was making suggestions laced with double entendres, they were always cold, assessing, wary. Also, he didn’t blink. It was creepy and unnerving and reminded me of a snake far too much. It’s beyond comprehension how none of his groupies seemed to be aware. Their focus was lost somewhere between the region of his firm abs and his superstar-quality smile, I suppose. Not that I could blame them, really. I regularly found myself attracted to the wrong sort. However, The Boss is in a totally different level of “wrongness”. I had an inkling to his true nature, and I wouldn’t kiss him with someone else’s mouth. Getting involved with him would be the certain way for a whole lot of trouble, and I have enough trouble of my own to handle already. Curiously, he is always very careful around the other female workers – his entire personal staff was male, for example – never being alone around one. Except for me. I get to call him Dee (no relation to the good Doctor), I have lunch or dinner with him several times a month, and staying after hours to present reports happens at least once a week. Alas, my salary is still the same as when I joined, my dental plan could definitely be better, and my parking place is obscenely far from the main building. Unfortunately, this doesn’t discourage the office rumour mill, and the only reason why it isn’t more vicious is because The Boss isn’t married. Instead, there is a poll going on betting how much longer I’ll hold on to the job before I give in, quit the hard work, and become a kept woman instead.

‘Never’ would be an approximate time.

I suppose I should feel flattered that that poll came to replace the one about how long it’d take for The Boss to grow disenchanted and\or tired with me, and move on. Truth was, I didn’t. I wish he had moved on. The chase had lasted for nearly a year now, and it had become a race of resistance, proving to everyone that The Boss was playing for keeps and he wasn’t backing down. I had no intention of giving in, either, but I prayed hard that it’d come to an end soon, because it was starting to get tiresome. As I said, I had an idea of his true nature, and I knew he had second and third and fourth intentions behind this apparently flirty approach; he either considered me a liability, and wanted to ensure I didn’t go rogue on him (by appealing to my basest of needs); or he wanted to get me to do work that would go way outside what is in my contract. As I was interested in neither prospect, I liked our relationship being professional just fine.

But I digress. A long meeting was about to start. I was feeling miserable, but nothing short out of an emergency would convince me not to attend. My friend-slash-supervisor is a far too sweet and distracted person for his own good. He’s too focused on his research to worry about the pitfalls of the corporate jungle. And, despite what self-help books might tell you, appearances do matter. That was why I was there. Because I had to remind the pencil-pushing gallery that we were still around. Suggesting lay-offs and staff reduction in our section never sat well with me. So, I was ready to use every dirty trick in the book to keep my mates around. Including humouring The Boss and enduring a tarnishing of my reputation, which, let’s face it, had never been stellar. This was more than just me being defensive about my team, however. Our section was already understaffed as is, and we often wound up accumulating duties because we didn’t have enough people to, say, work probabilities and statistics alone, while giving field support. Although we should be a cross between intelligence and research departments, the rest of the sections constantly call on us for extra muscle for their assignments. My team worked hard and we risked a lot. Plus, the friends that constantly worried about the deadliness of my job had a similar one themselves. That is why I sat firmly through endless meetings, to remind people who spend too much time behind their desks that bad things could happen to them; especially to some eager new pup in Accounts thought about further endangering my friends’ hide only so they could save up a few thousand dollars every month.

And, until now, my tactics had bore fruits. It’s not as if I was physically threatening, truth be told: a few scant inches over 5 feet, more wiry than bulky (or buxom, unfortunately), long dark hair that wasn’t so much as straight as ‘unmanageable’, and features made more youthful than they really were due to wide grey eyes and what could be, generously, described as an “impertinent nose”, I wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring or frightening face-to-face. However, I had a reputation, which my team thoughtfully embellished whenever they had the chance. I was a working girl, but the amount of people that gave me a wide berth when I walked down the corridors was impressive. That sort of display was usually reserved to the The Boss, and “The Boys Upstairs”. Personally, I wasn’t too thrilled about being considered a bogeyman of sorts.

But, as father used to say, “Let them hate, as long as they fear.”

While I’m not a great adept of that sort of ruling, I also know that fear – being a poison – in the right amounts can also be a very good medicine and an excellent way to prevent further problems down the line.

Thus, I sat and listened about numbers and strategies and how some new upstarts were possibly planning on moving on our proverbial hunting grounds. The corporate world is a jungle, so, no surprise there. We had collected quite a few competitors through the years, but we were still to find a proper match. We were the best because we had a collection of unique talents that no other rival firm had managed to put together. Furthermore, we had been doing this for a while now. So, we also had, at one point or another, faced any kind of problem, dilemma and conundrum you could think of. From each complicated situation we endured, we drew experience. We learned, after a few accidents, how to cope. Those had been hard lessons to learn; during a few of them, we nearly crashed and burned. Ultimately, it had made us stronger and smarter after the dust settled, even if a little battered and worse for the wear.

Someone proposed acquiring the services of a research firm to investigate our standing among our costumers, and come up with strategies to improve our PR – which I found particularly amusing. Unlike most corporations, we did not advertise – at least, not in the traditional sense. Not only we have no need to, but doing so would also put us in the limelight, something that we very much want to avoid. The media are always on the prowl for the next big story, and they don’t care whose safety they endanger to get it. Taking into account what we deal with, if even a hint of it came to light, a lot of people would be seriously endangered, including us. Thankfully, and from personal experience, I know that it takes a lot to overcome the disbelief of the general populace. They prefer to believe that their world is right and organized, and that everyone plays by the rules. They will go to absurd lengths to find explanations that will fit those beliefs, even if the truth is right there, staring them in the face. Denial is a force to be reckoned with. More often than not, it had worked to our favour. Still, a hefty chunk of our budget is set aside for expenses involving cover-ups and I’m yet to see a month go by where that fund isn’t heavily tapped into. I confess that, to my shame, I have caused a whole lot of fund tapping.

The Boss seemed to be too distracted to pay any attention to the matters at hand – or me. Other than a few glances my way every now and then, as if to assure himself that I was still there, he was mostly unfocused, his thoughts clearly somewhere else. Despite his almost tender ways around me, he was a mysterious man, and he held his cards very close to his chest. He was very hard to read or figure out, and even my educated guesses about his intentions towards me were just that: guesses. I did not know the true reasons behind his actions. But I had spent enough time around him to learn how to interpreter more or less accurately some of his attitudes. Something was indeed worrying him, which was definitely bad news.

The meeting dragged for a few hours more, addressing matters that were all about bureaucracy and unrelated to me or my section; and there was no mention to lay-offs or needs to make cuts on the costs, assuaging my immediate fears about my team becoming understaffed.

“Will you stay for a moment?”

I blinked, and I realized that the meeting was over and that Dee was addressing me. Nobody else even gave him a second look. As I had said, I’m The Boss’s little eccentricity. He didn’t seem in a particular hurry, slowly packing his papers, very clearly waiting for everyone to leave. Despite everything, I’m not privy to The Boss’s secrets, nor am I part of his inner circle, so I really had no idea what he wanted with me. Moments dragged until just the two of us remained. He stood in front of me, slowly pulling off his glasses, and slipping them into a dark case. The difference of heights was impressive, and I was pretty sure he could carry me under his arm like a folded newspaper if he wanted. Only after the case was set away did he, finally, looked me in the eyes. He was stalling, clearly. I had a bad taste in my mouth, because I had never seen him act like this. Finally, he found the words he had been looking for for so long.

“There is the possibility that we might receive a Red File in the next few days."

The dread that had smothered me earlier this day gripped me with such strength that I needed several seconds to remember how to breathe again. And it was obvious that Dee had noticed it, and that had been why he had been stalling. “So, you don't know for certain?” my voice sounded distant and hoarse, so much that I didn't recognize it at first. A large, strong hand rested on my shoulder, comforting. For the first time, I didn’t try to shirk from physical contact with him.

“No. Like I said, a possibility." I knew he had good friends in high places. It wasn’t surprising that he was given warnings when one of the Files might be on its way.

I nodded, swallowing. This was my job. Fears and personal issues were left at the door. Besides, I was different now. Older, more experienced. Okay, so it had been only a year, but, back then, I had been a wet-behind-the-ears lab nerd, fresh out of Probability Assessment, thrust into the large shoes of an experienced veteran whose mistakes had finally caught up with him. I had had little time to adapt and learn before I got thrown into a very deadly and highly explosive situation, with very little backup. After all, we were only supposed to investigate and present reports, not stopping hell on earth. But, somehow, things never go as they're supposed to -– understatement ahoy! Now, things would develop in a less dramatic way. Hopefully. It wasn't as if I would expect Dee to pass a wonderfully paid job, issued by the wonderfully powerful “people in high places”. If we managed to pull through, the revenue alone would be enough to keep us in business for months, even if we dropped all other sources of income.

The chief words here would be “pulling through”, however. Last time, we nearly didn’t. I had been among the “almost casualties” that were narrowly avoided by what can only be described as “One Level Below Divine Intervention”. And I wasn’t sure God – or whatever divinity of your preference – was willing to pull my perky little behind from the fire again. I prefer to believe that Hell is a state of mind, but I’d rather not put that theory to the test, as I have done some questionable things in my time. It would very much suck if I turned out to be wrong, which would only be adding insult to injury.

Somehow, I would have to manage to swallow my fears and pray all would turn for the best. Still, I was fooling nobody but myself. If they were going to call us, then the proverbial shitstorm was already out of control. But I would rather keep some hopes up and believe that, this time, things would go as they should.


And, while I was doing some totally unreal hoping, maybe I’d also hope I’d be declared the Queen of the Mole People and I’d have to start wearing my underpants on my head.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 05 Oct 2009 23:15

E aqui fica o capitulo 2, porque o primeiro é uma seca....



Chapter 2

I have to be grateful to America’s taste for importing anything that pleased her fancy, from art pieces, to entire Scottish castles. A few months ago, I was visiting Dallas on business; you couldn’t imagine my surprise when this old tram passes on the street, its sign proudly announcing its destination as being the tiny town where I had gone to school when I had been a youth. For a moment, the world had shut down around me, as I fought to understand what was happening; if, by any chance, my entire adolescence and adult life hadn’t just been a dream; if I was actually still ten years old, waiting for the tram to arrive so I could go to the Municipal Library and spend an entire afternoon with my nose buried in books.
My current gratefulness for America’s habit of importing other cultures was related to the very quaint and pleasant Old World style café where I sat, drinking a strong brew of odorous Brazilian-blend coffee from a tiny cup – a very pleasant alternative to watery fare that passes for Java in this country. I’m not a fan of coffee in the morning, or as a regular beverage, but I have to admit that some good, strong espresso was a treat to be savoured after a good meal.
Even though that was a place and an environment to relax, I was there to meet colleagues. A continuation of sorts of the board meeting I had attended a few hours before. This would be a far more informal gathering, but one I couldn’t do without. The news were explosive, even if they would up amounting to nothing – one could only hope. Besides, I had to debrief my supervisor about the meeting he had so thoughtfully let me attend in his stead, while he got to remain in his lab having fun. Very few of the people attending the old cafe would ever give our cheerful group a second look. There were no notebooks, no secretaries and no technology here to report what would transpire, except for Richard and his laptop, but trying to pry those two apart would be a labour worthy of the old Greek demigod himself.
The little café had a sort of dishevelled, familiar feel to it, and, if I made an effort, I could actually envision myself back in the Old Country. It felt good, and it allowed me to relax, something I didn’t get to do much nowadays. Licking the tiny spoon I had mixed my coffee with to try and get the last residues of the delicious blend, I glanced across the room: this was the perfect time of the day to meet – twilight was slowly creeping in, electric lights were starting to flare to life, and people were starting to go home, for dinner with family. The two other people sitting with me had been my staunch friends long I had joined the company. In truth, only Richard should be working with me, as he is my direct supervisor, but that didn’t prevent us from combining resources with Inês. We produced good results, and that pleased the boss, who had always been rather tolerant of uncommon strategies and tactics – as long we had something to show for the effort. Secrecy among sections existed, but was mostly handled on a case-by-case basis: the more people knew about a secret, the more likely it was for it to come out, but there were some secrets that couldn’t be kept so for long. The Red File was on the top of that list, and instead of fighting a losing battle to hush it inside the firm, Dee opted instead to make everyone sign non-disclosure contracts, and, now, everyone knew when one arrived.

“Predictions for stock ratings are quite good. We’ll be losing some points over the next two weeks but, by the end of the month, we should make up for it beautifully.” Richard said quietly, awaking me from my reverie. Tall, and quiet, his eyes betrayed his true age, far more than his youthful appearance would let on.

“Of course we will. We have you taking care of it, haven’t we?” At his side, Inês smiled, thin and petite, tossing her short dark bangs back. I watched them both with fondness, as I set the empty cup on the table, lazily listening to their banter.

“Funny girl.”

“And charming, and witty, and—“

“And I see I arrived just in time for the distribution of compliments.” I turned when a new voice sounded behind me. My roommate was standing there, looking tired, but giving us his winner smile. Again, he had snuck on me, which annoyed me to no end – mostly because I envied his skill and had yet to manage to find out just how he did it. We had been dating on and off since we had met, but his cooking skills and his wit had convinced me into not moving out after I, again, decided that I needed my space and didn’t feel able to be in a committed relationship, and all those pretty excuses sociopaths like me come up with not to be happy. Keeping your ex around was never a smart move, I knew, but I, for once, had decided to ignore my instinct. I genuinely liked Marcus, with his sandy, unruly hair and quick smile, his broad physique, which made him look shorter than he actually was, and gave him a sort of mellow surfer-boy feel. The pale freckles peppering his nose only reinforced that notion, and the blond curls often falling over his eyes touched women’s maternal side, even the small shrivelled thing that was mine. I swear I often wanted to sit him up in my lap and offer him cookies.
Unfortunately, their cheerfulness as they greeted each other meant that they hadn’t heard of the latest development. It seemed I would get the rare pleasure of unleashing the hounds of war, and let the bad news fly.

“Red File.” I simply said, after Marcus finally sat at my side.

Their silence answered me. It wasn’t a surprised silence, it wasn’t fearful silence, and it wasn’t even a worried silence. They knew what it meant as well as I did, and just how much we were going to have to suffer for it. I watched Richard, secretly wishing that his probabilities and numbers whispered hope. His gloomy face told me otherwise. It was going to be bad.

“I suppose this means you want me to start setting up the emergency funds. How bad is it going to be?” He asked.

I tried to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t, so I finally admitted “I don’t know yet, there is still the possibility it won’t happen, but... ”

Their silence expressed beautifully all the words I couldn’t say.

There wasn’t much we can say at this point. But I actually suspected that they wanted to try and delay their knowledge of the entire ugly thing for as long as they could. I couldn’t blame them; I would have gleefully done the same if I could have afforded such luxury.

“How long do we have until we know for sure?”

“I don’t know. A few days. A week, maybe.” Inês frowned at my answer. It was an awfully short time to get ready for a thing of this magnitude. The field teams were competent and could easily keep doing their work even without my section’s direct backup, but that was the thing: a great deal of my people were in the field, engaged in businesses that shouldn’t be ours. Bringing them out was going to unbalance teams and undo some altogether. While I wanted to stack our deck as much as I could when taking on a Red File, we are still professionals and we were still delivering a service. And costumers still expected to get their money’s worth.

And Marcus knew that too well, seeing it was his direct responsibility to get the field teams sorted. “I’m going to need you, then.” He was looking at me, a mix of worry and fondness, his trademark puppy-dog look.

Inês pinched the bridge of her nose – I had yet to leave a case unsolved, but when I was pressed for time or results, I tended to leave a trail of destruction in my wake. This translated into a pile of legal nightmares she would have to lose sleep for weeks to solve or cover up. I did feel bad for it, because I take no pleasure from mayhem. If I could, I’d always present everything in a neat and organized packag. But my rather practical view of things can be very quickly summed up by ‘If it’s worth fighting for, it’s worth fighting dirty for.’ So, if I need to break a few eggs to get an omelette done, I won’t think twice about it, nor will I spend time mourning for the poor unborn chicks. Settling for a meaningful sigh and shake of head, she gave up from dissuading me. We all knew that, if I worked the field, things would get done faster, and time was a commodity we didn't have. We were going to have to try and get as much work done as possible, because nothing else would get done while we got the Red File sorted. Section division blurred a little more than it should in the company. And this meant that "my people" could be "someone else's" people at the same time.

“I don’t want another Mayor incident, Camila. Please.” She finally said.

“No promises.” As rotten as I felt for saying it, I couldn’t lie to her. Plus, she would have known if I tried. My taste for working under pressure tends to send collateral damage levels through the roof, and my best friend knows it. The aforementioned “Mayor Incident” had occurred after the Mayor’s kindly old mother had been possessed by a second-circle minor daemon. Pressed for time, I had taken things into my own hands and the poor lady had expired in the process of having the filthy-mouthed thing dragged out of her. This, for obvious reasons, had not been to the Mayor’s liking at all. We all feared the worst, but our legal barriers managed to hold on. Truthfully, it was not as if he could sue us in a mundane court for “improper expulsion of a hellish denizen with destruction of innocent life”, but it had still been an ugly affair. A few of our very talented advisors had a long talk to the Mayor’s family, explaining that there hadn’t been anything to do really, that, the longer the creature would have stayed inside his dear old mum, the stronger it would become. It would, eventually, start impregnating his female relatives with its hellish seed.

Don’t think too hard about that mental image. I did, and trust me, I spent days wishing that mind bleach had already been invented.

I had the creature bound it to a plunger for added insult: as a retributions of sorts for having wasted my time, for costing me a relationship, and for making me feel guilty for not saving the old bird. This didn’t help to endear me to the Mayor’s eyes, as he clearly did not see the humour in that. Unfortunately, my strange sense of humour is my escape valve to anger and grief, and I have to indulge it more often than I’d like.

At least, now I have a modicum of satisfaction whenever I get a clogged toilette at home.

“I don’t want another Mayor incident.” She insisted, and I lowered my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to lie to her, but I couldn’t insist when she used that tone of voice. It was hard and sharp, like a teacher reprimanding a rebellious student. But I knew she was worried to the pit of her stomach, and that she’d probably stay up all night worrying, preparing one of her many contingency plans for the worst-case scenarios she could foresee.

“I’ll try.” I offered. It was the best I could give at the moment, and she understood, nodding. She knew what this line of work entailed, and knew me enough to know that despite my jokes and my apparent cavalier attitude, I did not forget any of the things I had to do to get this accursed job done.

And I’m not talking metaphorically when I say “accursed”. Throughout my twenty odd years of life, I had been hit with almost every imaginable type of curse you can name. I had been completely hairless for three months once, before I managed to undo the damage caused by a resentful housewife who blamed me for her husband leaving her; there was the time that, whenever someone said my name, thunder would sound in the distance; and the other time, when anything I touched would be set afire. Curses directed to me are easy to trace and counter, but it’s the ones that use me as a source point that are the hardest to solve, because they’re just so damn hard to detect. The worst one, I think, was the one when my mere presence would cause pregnant women to miscarry. I undid it pretty fast once I realized it was sitting on me, but I am not sure how long it had been active. I shudder to think how many lives I cost with just being around. It’s easy to say “It’s not my fault”, and I do know it’s not, but it still makes me feel bad. And it still keeps me at night, no matter how much Dr. Paiva insists I can’t hold myself responsible for the evil men do. She insists on it every single time I manage to find time to drop by her office for a consultation. And every single time, I leave with just as many issues as I entered.


At times, I have worried that I probably cause her to lose a lot of sleep, because the things I talk about are seldom pretty. Then, I usually also remember how much she charges me per consultation – and, suddenly, I feel a lot better.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Thanatos » 13 Oct 2009 08:27

Então moça? Isto morreu? Ou entusiasmaste-te tanto com o Rafael que te esqueceste da promessa? :unsure:
Não importa como, não importa quando, não importa onde, a culpa será sempre do T!

-- um membro qualquer do BBdE!

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 13 Oct 2009 11:34

Era mais porque como não havia comentários, pensei que ninguém andava a ler por estar escrito em inglês. Estava à procura de outras tralhas que tinha escrito em tugês para postar.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Thanatos » 13 Oct 2009 13:10

Lady Entropy wrote:Era mais porque como não havia comentários, pensei que ninguém andava a ler por estar escrito em inglês. Estava à procura de outras tralhas que tinha escrito em tugês para postar.



Hummm sabes o que é que se diz acerca do pensar né? :devil:

O que interessa são os hits ao tópico. Deixa lá de lado os comentários porque esses só aparecem muito de vez em quando. Eu cá, se isso te interessa, estava a ler atentamente. Tiraste-me a xuxa, amuei.
Não importa como, não importa quando, não importa onde, a culpa será sempre do T!

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 13 Oct 2009 18:44

Thanatos wrote:Hummm sabes o que é que se diz acerca do pensar né? :devil:

O que interessa são os hits ao tópico. Deixa lá de lado os comentários porque esses só aparecem muito de vez em quando. Eu cá, se isso te interessa, estava a ler atentamente. Tiraste-me a xuxa, amuei.



Mata células cerebrais?

Pronto, já fiquei toda contente.

Toma lá mais chucha!


Chapter 3:



The overly loud sound of gunfire shattered the stillness of the night, but, blessedly, we did not have to play it quiet. When cleaning up a residential area, especially after bedtime, not disturbing the neighbours could be quite a chore. Silencers are illegal, and we want to stay on the good side of the law as our reputation with them is less than stellar. This means that we only used them in raids to where the boys in blue didn’t call us as backup – like they had now. Fortunately, we were in the industrial zone, in the outskirts of town, and all that surrounded us were empty factories and warehouses, closed after hours.

Back in the day when I started bumping back the things that go bump in the night, I realized that theoretical knowledge is an invaluable tool against things that do not have a physical presence. But, while it can still be useful against things that do have a physical body, it will never be as good as a few rounds of a high calibre weapon – it certainly saves up on the chanting. I possibly sound cavalier, but it’s true you can get accustomed to anything after you spend enough time doing it. My life experience involves taking on all manners of strange manifestations and phenomena that science can’t handle: they could study it, test it in a tube, bring on the salts and their reading machines, but, in the end, they simply could do nothing about it. It was experience and a lot of trial and error that gave us our skills and weapons. And knowing that every new lesson from which you can walk out from by your own two feet, is a good lesson.

Adrenaline kept me twitching, and made it hard to reload, but the gestures were familiar and helped me to keep focused. I counted the clicks, not lowering my gaze to check on the progression of the reloading – in the middle of a fight, keeping an eye on your surroundings at all time is mandatory. Even split second distractions, like, say, checking your gun to verify you’re reloading it properly can have disastrous results. I barely had time to bless my training because the screeching figure rushed me from the shadows – had I indeed been distracted by my gun, I would certainly be caught unaware. This was a bad, bad scenario, because humans were involved. A breeder, possibly an incubus or some other fertility demon had set himself up with a little harem, in an old warehouse that seemed abandoned from the outside, but was quite the fix up from the inside. And now, as we tried to get to the lord of the manor, his concubines were hell-bent on defending him with tooth and nail. Smart bastard, as any human being worthy of that name would hesitate fatally about shooting a young woman in an advanced state of pregnancy. At least three police officers had and that’s why we were here now. In truth, SWAT could have done what we were doing right now with as much ease if not more, but when the strange wailing sounds begun, and the fourth police officer managed to crawl out missing his eyes, they decided it was not something they could handle and so they called for us instead of risking the lives of any more of their agents. Instead, they’d only risk ours. I’d call them “Bastards” for it, but the truth was most of us in the field were not the family kind. We could be good team players, but we had troubles keeping long-term relationships, we were paranoid, often neurotic and, to some degree, sociopathic. Which meant we were lonely people, and it’s far better to risk the life of one of us than to possibly rob a family of their father and husband, right?

I thought of the man whose arms I wouldn’t be returning to at home, and I expected to feel lonely and sad. I didn’t. I only felt tired and the notion I would have to enjoy the last few days of freedom as much as I could before my own personal hell begun. Despite my wish to reassure myself that it wouldn’t happen, my instincts told me otherwise – the Red File was going to be coming. And it was going to be bad.

Perhaps I should have been doing more paying attention and less thinking, because I didn’t react as fast as I could, and the screeching pregnant woman was on me while I still had my gun pointed downwards. I raised it as fast as I could, knowing I wouldn’t have time to threaten her with it, but certainly not going to risk feeling any of the hellish gifts their loving partner had given them to protect their infernal offspring. Smart bastard, I thought again. If females are the most dangerous of the species, then mothers protecting their cubs are the most dangerous of them all. Give them a few minor gaeas, and they would be able of causing horrendous damage to anyone stupid enough to trespass on their turf.

I didn’t even think, just let instinct take over, fighting for survival at its best.I squeezed the trigger and I could feel my semi-automatic tense and rear in my hand. I held tight. The blast of the gun mingled with the high-pitched scream of the woman, and I could feel a wave of warm goo splash all over my arm and torso. My shot had hit true, and it was gruesome. I had come unscathed from such a close-range shot only by miracle, and I now knew I had a new addendum to my list of sins: I had shot a pregnant woman in the stomach, at point blank.

Knowing fully well that if I kept delving on the matter I would be too emotional, I forced myself not to look, not to listen, as I continued to move towards the centre of the large compound. We had guessed that the nest was located there, among a maze of pilled crates and boxes, easier to protect, and allowing them to divide and conquer any incoming threads.



“Clear!” I shouted over to the rest of my temporary team. The element of surprise was gone, but we knew we had it trapped. The delirious ranting of the blind police officer tipped us to what was afoot, and we took five very important minutes to get in, during which we ran around like crazed mice setting up a circle of salt surrounding the entire warehouse. I think that the scene of the four commando-types and the small woman running around salting the ground would have amused the officers very much if they hadn’t lost a few of their own. I wouldn’t be feeling like laughing either if it had been with my mates.

As I weaved through the maze of boxes, I began hearing the careful, steady steps of the others, as we closed in, like prowling worlds. Our shadows danced around us, as the powerful police searchlights inundated the place with light, saving us from having to tread in the dark. Across the gaps in the walls of crates surrounding me, I caught glimpses of one of my companions, Mathew or maybe John, and I felt comforted – with them around, I’d have more odds of solving this by the book and not having to improvise. When I improvised, collateral damage started to rise and I started to give my best friend weeks of sleepless nights.



“Play it by the book.” I told myself, again and again, almost a mantra. “Play it by the book.” This was a matter that could be solved with tactics and weaponry. I knew what I was dealing with to be certain it wouldn’t be taken in alive – it knew that after we were done interrogating it, a banishment was all it could expect, and that meant it wouldn’t be able to return to this Realm for years. And I was glad. Most Others are lone predators, infiltrators, who attack from the inside, which makes it easy to root them out – it’s the pack hunters you have to watch out for. Of course, in the unlikely event of managing to catch one of them on their own, it’s not as if you will expect their pack to come to you complaining that their cub disappeared – at most, they’ll come all fangs, claws and fury, kicking down your door; but mindless violence we can deal with. Possession cases make everything more complicated, especially if the victims have families, but this isn’t very common. The Others who can’t fabricate a simulacrum of a human body and need instead to forge a parasitic relationship with a host usually target the lonely and solitary, because their presence alters severely the behaviour of their victim, and concerned friends and relatives asking questions is a sure way to expose them. Then, the true nasty and powerful ones will target someone with a large family – but in the end, the family won’t be asking questions because they will have fallen under the Other’s thrall.

Like the Mayor’s mother.

A split second after that thought bloomed in my mind, I berated myself. This was not the moment to think of the past, not now of all times. Guilt was a commodity for those without a job do to. I tried to think of the three families that had lost a father today, and the one whose life would be forever changed, and I felt my resolve harden. Yes, I was glad it wouldn’t be taken alive. Because if it was, we would wound up fighting with the police for custody, and, seeing cops had been killed, our odds of walking out with the Other were slim to none. We were still a dirty black secret, we weren’t a government body, and no cop I knew would let a cop-killer, Other or otherwise, walk out of their sights to a bunch of civilians. And I dreaded to think of what would happen if we let one of Them in a mundane cell.

I could feel before I could see the motion of my companions as we prowled towards the centre of the room where we knew it would be hiding – it was the farthest possible point from the huge circle of salt surrounding the area, after all. A few moments later, I got sight of them. We had all approached the centre from different directions, but now that we came upon the final block of resistance, the four men around me moved closer, so that instead of forming a circle, we’d be forming a half moon – it did give the target a place to run to, but it prevented us from hitting each other if we had to shoot. Besides, as devilish fast as They can be, I haven’t seen one outrun a bullet yet.

I expected a handsome, muscular, playgirl-type hunk cowering among the soft human shield made up by its concubines, ready to do a final stand – if other lives were lost with its own, it could feed on the necronergies and strengthen its spirit, allowing it to return faster and nastier. I was surprised to catch glimpses of a youth barely past puberty, but with the face of an angel. I found myself swallowing, as I took on the perfect features, the light blonde hair and those eyes, like some young Greek god lost on his way home. Enchanting me, I thought, it’s enchanting me. It was a lie and I knew it – my protections were enough to hold against anything under a minor demon; it couldn’t enchant, glamour or dominate me even if its life depended on it. That realization didn’t help, as I still wanted desperately to hold him. “Not ‘him’. It.”, I rebuked myself. This was a thing, a spirit with no gender; it wore a human guise, like anyone else would wear a suit.

The dozen or so of remaining girls clung protectively around it and it looked worried but prideful, its light eyes moving over each one of us at a time. Until our eyes met. I saw it smile, slowly, and something akin to relief washing over its features.

“On the floor, now! Get away from those females!” Mathew thundered at my side. Possibly he feared it would influence me, even though he knew that an Incubus method of approach was slow and subtle, and that I was hard to sway, hardened by experience and a healthy dosis of paranoia. I felt strangely comforted by his concern, even if it hadn’t been voiced. This was the closest to a family I had, and, despite being the ultimate dysfunctional familiar unit, I was glad I had it.

Unexpectedly, the boy, no… the Other got up, exposing himself to all the five muzzles of our guns, and smiled. Startled, we all tensed at the same time, steadying our mires, but it simply remained still, pushing down a little forcibly the whimpering girls who tried to cling to it, to protect it, leaving me with the queasy feeling that they weren’t so much as seeking protection, but, rather, satisfying an addiction.

Its eyes hadn’t left mine and I knew something was wrong. I just didn’t know what. I did know he was not going to attack. No, my presence had somehow changed the rules of the game. I hated it when that happened.

It pointed at me and said, simply “Her. I will only talk to her.” My companions tensed, their guns unmoving, expecting this to be some kind of different level incubus, one who could charm with but a few words. I expected it too, but I knew I wouldn’t be taken that easily – until it pouted, blew a golden lock away from it eye, in a startling human gesture, and nonchalantly sprouted a torrent of Latin in an eerie and ancient voice.

I felt my mouth open in surprise, and my companions looked just as startled, because despite their commando physiques, at least one of them was better at Ancient Latin than I was, while the others could give me a run for my money.



A gaeas. To me.



It had bound itself to my service, willingly; nothing asked in return, no limits set.

Capitalizing on the pause of surprise, it giggled softly, and rushed towards me, open arms, embracing me tightly around the waist. It was taller than I expected, only a few inches shorter than me, and I could feel the softness of its skin against my neck, and the subtle scent of its blond hair.



And I wanted so very much to hug it back.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Samwise » 14 Oct 2009 10:26

Estive a ler um bocadito.

O inglês está um pouco trapalhão, mas não é minha intenção criticar essa parte. O que vou fazer é outra coisa: acho que a tua escrita tem algo de muito interessante na maneira como arranja soluções para preencher espaços. Tem sempre assuntos, observações, e sobretudo ideias para falar e insere-os na narrativa de um modo que a enriquece.

O facto de estar narrado na primeira pessoa, com algumas observações pessoais no personagem a virem à tona no meio da história que está a contar (exs: "But, as father used to say, “Let them hate, as long as they fear.”", "At least, now I have a modicum of satisfaction whenever I get a clogged toilette at home.", "Guilt was a commodity for those without a job do to") contribui para uma boa construção do "espaço interior".

Está bom!

Vou ver se leio até ao fim, para apanhar a história.
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 14 Oct 2009 17:52

Samwise wrote:O inglês está um pouco trapalhão, mas não é minha intenção criticar essa parte.


Eu tendo a ser muito trapalhona, para minha grande vergonha. Acho que é por ter tantas ideias que não as consigo escrever suficientemente depressa. Isso vê-se em tudo o que escrevo. Tenho que escrever mais textos "sérios" :biggrin: E esta é a versão revista! Havias de ver a versão original do Nano. Até tinhas um chilique.


O que vou fazer é outra coisa: acho que a tua escrita tem algo de muito interessante na maneira como arranja soluções para preencher espaços. Tem sempre assuntos, observações, e sobretudo ideias para falar e insere-os na narrativa de um modo que a enriquece.

O facto de estar narrado na primeira pessoa, com algumas observações pessoais no personagem a virem à tona no meio da história que está a contar (exs: "But, as father used to say, "Let them hate, as long as they fear."", "At least, now I have a modicum of satisfaction whenever I get a clogged toilette at home.", "Guilt was a commodity for those without a job do to") contribui para uma boa construção do "espaço interior".
Por muito que quisesse aceitar este elogio, a verdade é que apenas estou a seguir a trend da Fantasia Urbana. Fantasia Urbana é o género Noir\Hard Boiled do ano 2000. Se retirares os elementos sobrenaturais, tens os mesmos temas, a mesma tendência para ser "o pobre sacana de moralidade não muito bem definida, mas com coração de ouro" versus "gajos muito mais ricos\poderosos". Aliás, eu enquanto escrevia a voz da Camila, tentava pensar nela não como uma feiticeira, mas como uma Private Eye dos anos 20. Não imaginas o que me ajudou a ter esse "espaço interior". Tentei imitar o máximo possível esse discurso meio duro, meio "desesperado", meio cansado com a vida que os heróis de Noir têm.

Está bom!

Vou ver se leio até ao fim, para apanhar a história.



Atum toma lá mais um bocadinho:




Chapter 4


"Don't let anything female come near this room."


That had been the final and most important piece of advice I had managed to give to Captain James before time constraints dragged me out of the door. The hours that had preceded the capture of the Other had been gone in a flurry of scattered memories, and, as I had predicted, the police hadn't let it walk out. We hadn't really had time to fight for the custody, because I was being expected to a meeting which I really didn't have the option of missing or postponing. However, and after it proved to be quite resistant to the harsher methods of persuasion that our finest had to offer, still insisting on only talking to me, they agreed to let me return later on to see what I could pull out of him. It.

It had occurred to me that I was tending to think of the Other as a "him" more and more often. Technically, it was a him, as its kind fertilized females, a very male role, and I'm yet to see a female-looking incubus, but my concern was more than being politically correct. If I started distinguishing male and female, I would also start to give it an identity. And when something has an identity, it's easier to care. Far too easy.

With me lost in thoughts, we drove off, leaving the city behind. I finally allowed myself the luxury of closing my eyes, and letting the swaying of the vehicle lull me into a half-sleep, as it hit the multiple obstacles of the backwater road that lead us to the private property where we were headed for our next assignment. The fact that I couldn't immediately sort the trouble caused by the Other and its concubines, and had, instead, to leave it in a precinct filled with humans was gnawing at my insides, and setting me on edge. Something I couldn't afford, not where I was headed.

The moon hung high, full and red, and, even with my eyes closed, I could feel the power tugging at the edges of my consciousness, a subtle thrill, just like when you hit an air pocket while flying in an airplane, and, for a hundredth of a second, you are freefalling. There had been a reason why they chose tonight to meet, and a Hunter's Moon was an unexpected boon for them… and bad news for us. The slowing down of the vehicle roused me from my reverie, and a quick check to the dashboard made me realize I had in fact fallen asleep, because about thirty minutes from my life have vanished between two blinks. Small surprise, since I had been awake from early this morning, and I was going to be burning the midnight oil – not to mention that, normally, at this hour, I'd already be tightly wrapped in Morpheus' arms.
But the day wasn't over yet, and I wearily stepped out of the jeep, the only thing in our service fleet that could get there without breaking its suspension… and we would still have to do the last half mile on foot, in the dark and on muddy terrain. I stopped to check the other vehicles parked at the clearing, and I can't hide a smile – it seemed that male tastes ran deep. Despite all their passion for nature and outdoors and the unfettered wildness, the parade of gas-guzzlers, shiny chrome and sleek frames proved that one can't fully take the man out of the wolf. I slung a small back pack over my shoulder, and started the half-mile hike, followed closely by my two companions, who looked morose. Luke and Mathew had gone home after the capture, but poor Marcus and John got saddled with the task of playing escorts. Truth be told, taking into account where we were heading, and, despite the fine specimens of human strength, cunning and military training they were, they would be not be too useful should things turn sour, as any weapons we brought along to level the field would be considered as an unspoken declaration of war. The two men were coming with me for show, and a good show was what I needed, because I was meeting my enemy in their turf, so I had to use every little detail to turn the tides to my favour, so I could steer the meeting in a way that would ensure we'd exit the compound with all of our limbs still attached.

Sun Tzu would be proud, I'm sure.

We climbed in silence, and midway, we started to spot the light of bonfires and catch wafts of voices. A lone howl in the distance announced our impending arrival, and we stopped for a quick change of footwear, removing the hiking boots – which had been an amusing contrast to my impeccable linen three piece suit – to replace them with slick pumps. It should be added, I only wore pumps for short distances and when I needed to impress. Both counts applied here, and, after I dropped anything technological or not made out of natural materials into the backpack, I tossed it to Marcus, who had undergone a similar quick change of wardrobe, and was now stashing their bags behind a bush. John approached, and I spread my arms so he could dose me generously with an unmarked aerosol can, containing a solution that had proved effective jamming personal scent, and turning it, instead, into a "white noise", if I may use such a term to refer to a smell. I would have to send the R&D boys a big cake for that one, next time my biological clock started ticking and I felt the urge to be motherly and cook.
I turned around, so he could finish the spraying, apparently having already taken care of himself and Marcus, and, together, we made our triumphant entrance into the camp. Like any other board meeting or any other corporate event, this was all about attitude, all about confidence. Outside the city, fear was easier to smell, and that is why they had us coming here. Whoever calls the 'shifters "mere beasts" clearly have no idea what they're talking about. The Lupus might lack some of the sheer mindboggling combat prowess of the Feline families, but they make it up with pure cunning and cleverness. Smart as foxes, as some would say. That's maybe why so many of them went corporate and became filthy rich.

I strode confidently towards the first group of people I saw. It was obvious they were watching us from the corner of their eyes, but pretending not to notice us. I knew we were expected, not only because we had a scheduled meeting, but also because I heard the howls on the way up. They had known we were here from the moment we had arrived to the clearing, probably before. Lots of males, no females, at least not at first sight. Either they were hiding from view, or this was a boys' meeting. I waited to be acknowledged – a sign of politeness – but I stared them openly and I didn't shift about while trying to be inconspicuous. Coyness would give out the wrong signs. I did want to be noticed, even if they were trying to make me feel uncomfortable by seeing how long they could ignore me until I tried to start contact. Normally, I'd be patient, very patient, and I could play this game the entire night, but not today. Today, I had a cop-killer Breeder sitting in a human police station, with nothing but a thin ring of blessed salt to protect the officers around him. I only hoped that the Captain heeded my warnings and kept that room closed until I arrived. Not to mention that a Red File might very well be on its way, about to explode like a proverbial shitstorm. Time was a commodity I did not have. So, I placed myself a few inches behind the largest man in the group, not close enough to be in contact with him, and letting him move about without brushing against me, but certainly close enough for him to feel me, and sense my eyes on him. Now, he would have to either acknowledge me, remove himself (which would be equivalent to acknowledging me, as it would be and admittance that my presence was affecting him) or he'd keep there and feel uncomfortable. The fact that out scent indicators were nothing but an olfactory "white noise" (or so I hoped) should add to his discomfort. After a minute or so of keeping up the charade, he gave in and, all but snarling, turned to me and asked "Yes?" I gave him my most cheerful and charming smile and handed him my card: "We're with Hunters Inc. I think your alpha is waiting for us."

I could see the gears in his brain turning, as it considered whether to kick us out, attack or take us to his leader. Testosterone hung high in the air, and I was right, this was a boys' night out – fighting and hunting would take most of their night. A good thing, since it meant they would be eager to get over with us, allowing me to return to my cute demonic problem. On the other hand, everyone was on edge, which meant things could get bad quickly. I'd have to toe the line and not actually cross it, which might prove trickier than I expected. When the girls are around, things are easier to handle – that is, when no cubs are around and it's not heat season – they tend to have a calming effect on the boys. Also, they don't like outsider female competition, and they'd try to rush procedures as fast as they could, just to see me go.

Seems I wasn't going to luck out tonight.

A lot of growling and grumbling later, I was certain that I wouldn't be invited to abandon the grounds for trespassing. That would make us the offended party and we'd get to leave by our own feet. No such luck, either. Yes, it seemed we were off to see the big boss himself. Two other men nodded at us so we'd follow them, and we obeyed.

I had had my dealings with the alpha of the Northern Ridge Pack, as luck would have it, they were recently on the rise, after they secured a few victories one some district level skirmishes between the several packs. However, he was still new to me, having ascended to power only a few months ago. I knew the all leaders of the major packs in the region on a first-name basis – except him. Changing that was imperative, but not today. Today, I went in, talked, and went out fast. Lingering here for far longer than we should was inviting trouble and that kind of trouble was something we hadn't come ready for.

They lead us towards what seemed a small villa; possibly where they left their human identities and anything that marked them as such behind. From what I could see, the rest of the property was wilderness, woodlands and forest, not unlike a gamekeep. Which, to a certain point, it was.

They opened the door for the three of us to pass, and I took the lead – this was not accidental, for each of my movements was measured and orchestrated from the moment we had set foot on their little gathering. The tall, imposing red-haired alpha was sitting behind a desk and I was about to greet him, but I fell into a dumbfounded silence when my eyes locked on the man to his left, while glancing around the room, distractedly.

My world came to a grinding halt.

A few moments lazily drifted by in a stony silence, as if everyone was waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, someone spoke. It took me a second to realize it was me. "Father." I said. "How very unpleasant to see you."


And my father only grinned in answer.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 16 Oct 2009 18:46

Chapter 5



I must admit, I was being unfair to my father. We didn’t get along that badly. He had never abused me, beat me (no more than a few whacks to the bottom when my mischief warranted it), or been outright demeaning. He had not oppressed me or drowned my puppy for me daring to disobey him. The thing is, we were far too alike, and without my mother’s soothing presence, we were like two iron wheels grinding against one another: sparks flew everywhere and the noise became unbearable. That is why we eventually split ways. Not exactly on unfriendly terms, but there had been no contact other than some awkward and short phone calls on Christmas. Seeing us together, there could be a doubt we were related: same light grey eyes, same dark luxurious hair, same thin-lipped, soft but cruel mouth – an assassin’s mouth, as I heard someone call it. It seems that all my hard features I got from his Russian blood. I didn’t get his height, however, much to my regret. And, accordingly to my mother, we also have the same expressions and mannerisms.

I think that we reminded each other too much of what we had lost, and that is why our relationship had become strained. Of course, my father is also a grade-A manipulative and controlling bastard, but that comes with being an alpha. This ties in nicely with the reason why I know so much about the Wolves – it’s because I grew up with one. And I think that right there is another point of attrition between my father and me – as his only offspring, I do believe that what had really disappointed him was not that I was born female instead of male, but, rather, that I had not been born Wolf. I was just a hairless monkey, clumsy and clawless, and the Lady Moon did not sing in my blood.

This didn’t prevent me to apparently have an amazing pedigree which, apparently, makes me prime mate material for any Wolf who intended to earn prestige – and a large litter of cubs, as human\Wolf pairings are far more fertile than Wolf\Wolf, for some reason. Flattering as it might sound, it was just another reason for me to steer clear of the ‘shifters in general and the Wolves in particular. They have this way of messing with your hormones, to touch the beast we have forgotten in all of us and bring it roaring and starving back to life, making all thought vanish, until only the primal need of mating is left. I should mention I have control issues, and, when my own desires and mind are swayed by someone else, I tend to be quite upset – although “raging mad” would be a more accurate description. And the Were kind can sway them like no-one else. Not even Breeders have the raw animal magnetic attraction of a Were: with them, there is no mind games, no slow seduction. All is immediate, violent and passionate: you take what you want, upfront, in your face, and without hesitation. Back in my college days, I once had a Were roommate, a slip of a girl, who quickly got the deserved reputation of being the most dangerous thing you could bring into your dorm room – she wouldn’t feel satisfied if she didn’t somehow manage to break the bed during sex, and she caused multiple contusions and even broken ribs among her throng of lovers.

I have no idea why they exude this powerful sexuality, I suppose it has something to do with them being predators – it’s all about speed and deadliness and effectiveness. For some reason, all Weres are predators and mammals. Sure, there are shapeshifters which can take human form while having other animal totems, but they are not Weres. Weres have both man and animal in them, a heady and dangerous mix. The other shifters simply assume human form, but they are not human, they are just pretending to be human. Their minds are alien – I suppose that is why the human doesn’t mix well with them. Humans are still animals, deep down, they still have the predator instinct, even if it’s dulled by centuries of evolution, and they are hot-blooded mammals. And Weres are nothing if not beasts of hot passion.

And my blood had run very, very hot that afternoon, about ten years ago, when I, a gawky, awkward teenager, with pimples and a deep shame for the rather impressive breasts she had unexpectedly sprouted, and who wore as baggy clothes as she could find to hide them, came home to find a young Were set on making her his mate. With my father’s consent. And if the young man hadn’t let that little detail escape, I might be a den mother today, with a litter of cubs to tend to. He was so handsome, wiry and lean, with dark eyes that bore into me, pinning me in place, me, too stunned to react, still with a pile of books in my arms, and the front door key dangling from my fingers. He was naked, very naked, and before I could react, he had pulled me into his arms, his hands expertly exploring me. The glasses I hid behind, the large bangs over my eyes, the baggy clothes – none of them helped, as he pushed each of them aside, assessing me. One thing I have to say in the Weres’ favour, is that your appearance doesn’t matter to them – it might to their human side, but when the beast in control, it’s all about the laws of attraction. Of course, most Weres are attractive, even if not beautiful, so it could be that too, but I do think that young Were was deeply attracted to me, despite my lack of obvious female charms. At least, I could tell his body was screaming at him to mate RIGHT NOW, judging from the massive erection I was feeling against my leg. He took his time, however, exploring me, slowly but surely, and I think my panic amused him – a running prey is always more fun to catch. He murmured sweet nothings, like we were meant to be, how we were destined, and how he had chosen me and now belonged to him. My mind was apparently short-circuiting, so I wasn’t particularly responsive. I vaguely remember his name, and him complimenting my scent, the taste of my skin, and a few more words to comfort me, to tranquilize me, that all was alright, that he would protect me, that I was his mate and solace, and that my father had approved our union.

That’s when things came to a grinding halt.

Through the haze of teen desire and fear, those words shook me up into outrage and shame. I am quite convinced that the poor Wolf boy tried to comfort me the way he would any girl of his own kind, and he could never, not in a million years expect what was coming. More or less around that time, I realized that my dorky shirt was half undone, and my bra stretched down and his hands delighted with my hated breasts, which were now mostly exposed. The shame and the outrage clashed with shame, hang-ups, and all the issues a teenager can have – exacerbated by the knowledge that my father was actually trying to pick my boyfriends, creating a tidal wave of emotions I couldn’t comprehend or control.



It was then I set the room on fire.



Despite the comedic effect I can see now, back then it was mortifying. I was a young magus, an apprentice, and all my control of the Arts was pathetically humble. Everyday, I prayed for more power, for more flashy skills, and nothing. Now, without wanting, I set an entire room on fire. That was the first day when I realized that raw power is easy, and everyone has it. It’s the control over one’s skills that differentiates an archmagus from a dabbler practitioner.

What happened next seemed almost a dream. I remember vaguely running all the way to my Magister’s house, arriving dishevelled and incoherent and telling him I wanted to go into the Arts full time. My Magister wasn’t at all surprised, but since the old bastard is a Master Seer, very few things ever surprise him. A few days later, I was shipped to Merry Old London, and left all my ties to normalcy behind.

Which included my father.

The irony about I finding my father “normal” is ripe, but I shall not delve in it. I think my Magister kept him informed about me, letting him know I was alright, but for a long time I strove to forget my past life. I’m not sure if my father tried to get me back, but, let’s face it, the Magi as a whole are a bad bunch to anger, and I wasn’t really worth it. Or maybe my father was just patient and cunning and knew eventually I’d grow up, and let bygones be bygones.

That was what I was wondering about, when I stared him in the face, and saw him grinning.
A whole lot to wonder, true, but then, I hadn’t been with my father in almost a decade. I think I had the right to indulge in some soliloquy. And also asking myself why a Euro alpha was doing in the States. An entire ocean separates them, so packs from the Americas seldom have contact or mingle with those of Europe. My father could always be here on business, but I didn’t believe it. Too many coincidences. Something was not right.



“Camila.” He gave me a nod “It is good to see you again.” And he looked to the other alpha, who gave him a slight nod, which apparently meant ‘leave’, because my father said nothing else, turned calmly and walked out, leaving me, my companions, and the Wolf lord and his own lieutenants. Me? I was blinking, trying to realize what had just transpired. This day was becoming more and more surreal, and it was as if the entire world had decided to plot to make me question my sanity.



What was my father doing there? Why didn’t he contact me before he came over? What was with the camaraderie between two alphas from different continents?

My reverie was shattered by a light cough from the Northern Ridge alpha. Dazed, I turned my eyes to him, swallowed my questions, and gave him my best professional smile. “So, how can we help you, Mr. Gagnier?”

I had a good guess to what was the matter: a few weeks ago, we had brought down a Feral – a Were gone bad, either because they were cursed with the Change, or because somehow their mind broke, and they lost the human spark, and were all claws and instinct. The Feral was killing in the city, and we had been hired to bring it down. The city is considered neutral ground, which means anyone is fair game. I had suspicions he was one of Gagnier’s, possibly a relative, who they were tending to and protecting, in hopes of recovering his human mind. He possibly ran away, and started the kills.

From a logical point of view, there was nothing for the Wolves to upset about, but try telling that to a guy whose brother you put down like a rabid dog. When I got the call from the alpha, I had suspected that that was the matter, and when he insisted on my presence, I had become certain. It took a lot of haggling to allow me to bring an escort, because he had wanted me to come alone. Hence, the apparatus, the “alpha bitch” stick, with the two males following my lead, acting as my betas. It was a subtle show of power telling him that I wasn’t going to be intimidated or bullied. That his little brother or cousin or uncle had messed in our turf, and, so, he got whatever came to him, and that filial love might be important, but not when innocents are dying over it. If I had showed up arrogant, tempers would flare, because that’s how wolves are wired. If I came apologetically, he’d feel I was giving him tacit agreement to treat me as his subordinate – I might not be Wolf, but I’m the cub of one, and, to all of them, that makes me still bound by their laws and rules.

But my surprises weren’t over yet. He hesitated for a moment, his fingers tapping the tabletop “We would like to hire your services.”

I blinked again “Pardon?”



“The Northern Ridge pack would like to hire your services.” He repeated “We wish you to find something for us.”



Now, we’re not a detective agency, but sometimes, we got hired by “not entirely human” groups or individuals to fulfil missions that they couldn’t hand to normal human institutions due to their… “sensitive” contents, like information acquisition, or investigation. This wasn’t exactly our main line of work, so Dee only took them during slow times or if it was convenient.



“We will wait until you are available if we have to. However, we would rather not wait for long.”



Despite the inherent threat in his tone, all this show, all this dragging us here for a conversation was almost anti-climatic. Interrupting a boys’ night out to have a lame meeting with us, when they could have contacted the firm through a series of different means? Ones that wouldn’t have involve us barging on their turf, annoying his packmates, and lose our sleep. No, he had wanted us here for some reason. And not us. Me. He had wanted me here for some reason. And I knew, deep in the pit of my stomach, that my father being here too was connected to it. Like I said before, too many coincidences.



“I’m sorry, you got the wrong person to ask that. Any new projects need to be approved by our Chairman, who will then designate the person who will handle this. If you wish I can call him right now…” This stank of high hell. Good thing that I was pretty sure The Boss didn’t sleep if it turned out Gagnier wanted me to call him.



Here, I had laid my trap. If he wanted me, he wouldn’t let this one fly.



“That is…unacceptable. This is not a good moment to talk things through…” Not a good moment?! He had dragged us here! “… and I would rather deal this directly with you, without… middlemen.”



Lock, stock and barrel.



So this was all just about me.

And like the fool I was, I couldn’t resist a mystery. I had to know what was going on, and where I and my father fitted into all of this. “Very well, I think I have an opening in my schedule in… say… two days?” When the moon was waning. I fished a visiting card from my pocket, not the ones from the firm, but my own, heavy black paper with silver letters.

He nodded as he pocketed the card. “I will be in touch then.”

A few more pleasantries where exchanged before we finally left, and as my little group traipsed downhill, I plotted my next step. Information. I needed information.



And I knew exactly who I had to go to.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 31 Oct 2009 18:39

Chapter 6



My stockinged feet were propped against the inside of the door of the jeep, as it wiggled and shook its way towards the main road – Marcus was dozing, riding shotgun, and Luke was driving, clearly enjoying the drive, like the regular night owl that he was. All the while, I fingered a small card with a phone number written on it, wondering to myself if I was going to be crazy enough to pull a stunt such as this.

As much as I wanted to know what the affair with the Wolves was, and know what was my part in it, I had other far more pressing priorities to tend to. Such as the incubus sitting happily on his own in a station filled with humans, some of them possibly females-I wanted the Other out of their hands as fast as I could, but seeing that it had been involved in a scene where police officers had perished, the odds of the police willingly giving it over were way past the "Snowball in Hell" levels and approaching the "Not even in your wildest dreams." Fast. And I couldn't in good faith let him loose, even if it had bound itself in service to me. The thing with having an Other (especially a smart Other) binding itself to you is that, if you know the rules of the game, you will have very little to fear. The thing is, the Other might be interested not in harming you, but someone else. And even if it's you it is after, in the case of an experienced Other, it can find a way to circumvent the oath to strike from angles you weren't expecting. I didn't like how it had latched itself to me so quickly and so suddenly. Like I didn't like that, for some reason, I was of such a great interest to the Wolves.

However, I had priorities here, and the immediate one was to get that boy out of the precinct and somewhere safe. Unfortunately, that would have to be somewhere always close to me – we'd know for sure if the Red File was coming in a few days, I estimated, and I had to find a way to safely dispose of the Other before that. With him bound to me, he couldn't be banished out of this Realm, unless he somehow violated the terms of his Gaeas, the magical contract that now bound him to me; if I was the one breaking it, then he would be free from both me and the contract. Now, and this was the kicker, since he had set no terms whatsoever to his Gaeas, I didn't know if it was actually possible for me to do something that would break the Gaeas from my side.

It started to dawn on me that, for some reason, the little beast wanted to ensure I wouldn't accidentally violate one of the terms of contract and release him. It seemed that he needed an excuse to stay close, and the Gaeas was the perfect one.

And I had just spent the last few minutes mentally referring to the Other as "he" and I hadn't even noticed it. Yeah, this was going well. I could feel the start of a major headache coming.

Regardless, I would have to worry about my own well-being and soul later. Now, I needed to worry about the general public, and that made me make up my mind. I punched the number in the little card that had accompanied the first Red File I had taken on. I had it kept until now, after I was told I could use it whenever it was necessary. We'd see if they had actually meant it. On the other side of the line, the phone barely had rung twice, when someone picked up.

"Speak to me."

Well, that was fast and straight to the point. "I have someone I need released to my custody."

There was a moment's hesitation, as if the man on the other side was wondering if I was serious. Finally, he acquiesced "Alright. What is the matter?" He spoke with the sharp vowels of the north, and had just the slightest hint of an accent that I couldn't place.

"Cop-killer. Well, not directly, but still – he's sitting at the 11<sup>th</sup> right now."

"Jesus. You haven't started yet, and you're already making my job fun." This seemed to confirm more and more that the Red File was coming. I felt my heart sink.

"Yeah, that's me. A barrel of laughs."

"Pick him up in the morning. He'll be ready to go."

"Tomorrow? Can't you make it tonight?"

"Lady, you have some nerve—"

"Never mind, I'll pick him up tomorrow. Thanks, doll."

"What did you just call—"

I hung up hastily before he could verbally box my ear – yeah, I needed to work on my manners. Of course, I wasn't entirely happy on only being able of picking up the incubus next morning. It was just 5 hours away, but it was still 5 hours where a lot could happen. A quick call ensured that the Other was behaving itself, not reacting to anyone. I reinforced my advice of keeping him inside a circle of salt and not letting anything female close to it, not even the cat. The captain assured me they didn't have a cat and that he had sent his only female officer home right after I left.

I didn't tell him that soon we were relieving him of his prisoner, but I'm certain he knew, or at least suspected. Cops have a layman's version of a mother's instinct to know when someone is either bulshitting them or hiding something from them. Him not saying a thing about it seemed to indicate that, while his cop side was revolted at letting a possible cop killer walk, his lawman's practical sense overrode it. He had seen the girls – who were now under the tender cares of our medical teams, to ensure they were sterilized and their demon spawns were removed from their wombs– and my insistence on keeping anything female away. It very probably showed him that, despite looking innocent and sweet and very human, the boy sitting in his interrogation room was quite dangerous. And the kind of dangerous that is very likely not deterred by a bullet; alternatively, we were far more indicated to handle with whatever threat the Other posed.

Most of the times, cops not so much resent us barging on their territory but rather hate the feeling that they can't do a thing about a lawbreaker, that they are limited in their ability to handle a problem. I can't fault them there, and, out of respect, I decided I would drop by around 7, when the shifts changed, and less agents would be around to witness us walk out with the Other.

In the meantime, I had a few options to fill my time. I could go home, get a shower and doze for a few hours. It would leave me with the problem of what to do with the boy as soon as I had him out of jail. I didn't want to sleep around him, either, because I have a history with hellspawns, and I'm even more paranoid that normal where they are concerned. Still, I should have something ready to spend time with him, to go through the proper procedures to ensure there were no loopholes in our contract. Since he had bound himself with no conditions, I could just order him to accept whatever terms I wished, and he would. However, I wasn't going to rely on the kindness of Others, and add as many safety clauses for me as I could. And I wasn't going start doing demonic rituals in my basement. I flipped my cell phone open, dialling Dee's personal assistant's number. He was very likely asleep, but this was an emergency, and he was probably already expecting this from the moment word started to spread that a Red File might be coming.

"….hmmm, yeah?" His husky, raspy tone proved me right. He had indeed been asleep.

"It's me, Ben. Look, sorry for waking you up, but I need you to set me up with a room in a secure hotel – actually, make it a whole floor. I will have a hot package in hands after 7 am, and I need a place to go. Make sure it's one of the places we worked before, at least we'll know the barriers and the cleansing worked."

He was mumbling softly to himself, repeating my words while he wrote them down. "—whole floor… place we worked before… secure… How hot are we talking about?"

"Breeder, cop killer, and he's going to be in our custody."

"Ouch! I'll get a cleaning crew there too. And set up a circle. Are we banishing it?"

"No, we're keeping it contained."

"… Right. Anything else, ma'am?"

"Get me a box of aspirins. Make that two."

"Ah, the wages of a high-stress job."

"Benjamin, I wasn't aware Mr. Dee paid you enough for humour…"

"Consider this a little bonus, ma'am. And maybe a plea for you to put a good word with him for a much-needed raise?"

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."

"Didn't hurt to try. I'll get right on it."

"Ben?"

"Ma'am?"

"Thanks."

I could swear I heard his smile on the other side of the phone: "You're welcome. See you in a few hours."

I hung up, feeling dead tired. My better instincts told me to go home, get at least a few hours sleep and then sort the whole Other thing. But I was so synced that I wouldn't be able of sleeping. I'd spent the entire time tossing and turning, and I'd get up feeling even more beat up. I watched my cell phone for a bit longer, but since it seemed determined to remain mute and not to give me advice, I dialled another number, one that I only had dialled once before.

It was time to get some information.

"Tim."

"Lady." His voice was smooth, deep, like waves of thick chocolate. Damn him. I hate when they make me sprout bad poetry to describe them.

"There is something I need of you."

"My doors are open for you, as usual."

"Ah, but always for a fee."

"Everything has a price, Lady."

"I'll be right over."
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 10 Nov 2009 20:07

Chapter 7


The smoke made the world around us lose its contours, as if we were trapped in a dream, closed in a bubble inside time, which separated us from normalcy and left us in our own little reality. The man in front of me smiled over the rim of his incredibly precious and expensive cup, the pair of which I was carefully holding. It was made of some amazingly light porcelain, so delicate it felt it would break if you breathed directly against it. Curls of gold decorated the white surface, so thin and elaborate that one would be hard pressed to believe it had been drawn by human hands.
The tranquillity that surrounded us was eerie, for it was easy to forget that we were inside a nightclub, with very modern and very electronic music being played loud enough to startle the angels, and with enough bass in it to shake the building to its very foundations. I felt the golden-haired man sitting across the table shifting and clearing his throat, capturing my attention again. I kept trying to focus on the club where we were supposed to be, trying to see past the hazy fog that surrounded us. My attention focused on him again, and, for a moment, the smoke obscured his face, all but for his deep blue eyes, which shone with a steely gleam. His eyes didn’t match the rest of him, almost as if they belonged to someone else. When you watched him from behind, the sharp haircut and the designer suit made him look the part of the fancy nightclub owner. But when you sat with him, he looked gentle, almost shy… if it wasn’t for those blue eyes of his. His eyes gave away his power, his experience, his knowledge – and his true nature. No human being could have such blue eyes.

“And now that I have satisfied my duties as a host, let us talk of business, Lady, because from your manner, you clearly are anxious and not at all interested in small chat.”

“I need information, Tim.”

“Ah, you came to the right place.” Lord Tymmaneth'wardwyn, unlike his brethren, was quite casual, even for a Seelie Lord. Few of his kind would allow me to address him by his given name, least of all a shortened version of it –perhaps why he allowed me the grace of doing so was because he was tired of having us clumsy humans pronouncing it wrong. However, I was still to see someone else addressing him as informally as I did. I suspected at times he deliberately enjoyed making me comfortable around him and that is why he allowed me to call him so. Just like Dee. The notion was frightening, and the idea of how similar they were was startling. “Of course, all has a price, you certainly understand.” His soft, deep voice brought me out of my reverie, and his tone was casual and friendly, making him seem quite human, which only made his eyes even more disturbing. Almost as disturbing as pondering why he would want to make me feel comfortable around him.

“Of course.”

“So, what is the information I can provide you with?”

“I…don’t know yet.” It was hard to explain, especially without giving too much of my own background away. With an information broker like him I had to keep my guard up. One never knew who could go to him and ask for information about me.

He probably could read my hesitation, because he didn’t press the matter, sipping some more of his tea. He could just be polite and not want to aggravate my distress, but he could also be just waiting for me to finish my line of though. When confronted with gaps in a dialog, most people would struggle to fill them, feeling uncomfortable with silence.
No matter how aware of that I was, I, too, had that automatic reaction of trying to complete sentences left unsaid. “I seem to have attracted the attention of the Wolves of the Northern Ridge. Possibly others…” I hoped he wouldn’t press the matter, because I would prefer that my own background would remain deeply buried. “Recently, I hunted down a member of their pack, gone rogue, crazed by bloodlust. I thought that was what caused them to summon me to gather with their alpha.”

He nodded: “Go on.”

“Turns out, they just wanted to hire me to find something for them. Which would be fine, if they hadn’t rushed me to the middle of one of their gatherings. They could have done it so easily without involving me – and when I tried to bait their alpha by offering him a meeting with my boss, he immediately declared he wanted me to take care of whatever problem he had, as if getting the firm involved directly was not to his taste.”

“Do you have any idea of what their business with you is? Or perhaps recall any detail that could shed further light over this matter?”

I didn’t even hesitate. I was proud of myself, lying so well. “I know there is an alpha from out of town as a guest, but I’m not sure that is connected to the case. It might however.”

He nodded gracefully, filing the information in his mind. I never saw Tim writing down anything – perhaps their own skewed personal time ensured that they never forgot even the tiniest bit of information. He stretched his long white fingers, lacing them together, and leaned forward, his eyes on mine. For a moment, I wondered if I would be mesmerized by them, like a little mouse fascinated by a beautiful serpent. I was slightly (but only slightly) disappointed that such wasn’t the case. I was still pretty much in control of my thoughts and emotions, but I did find myself admiring the blue immensity of those inhuman eyes, secretly and jealously comparing them to my colourless grey ones. There was a dramatic pause, which I was pretty sure it had been deliberate, and he spoke again. “Now, for the little matter concerning the payment, Lady.”

Here we go: “Name your price. But don’t try to trick me.”

He looked offended that I even considered the possibility of him trying to deceive me: “I would never ask for more than I deserve.” I felt like kicking myself – offending the information broker was never a smart thing, especially if you needed his help.

“Forgive me, I didn’t mean to—“

He waved his hand, dismissing my concerns “No offence taken. Now, my price is simple, a mere trinket.” He paused. “I want your nights. A week of them, for my enjoyment, and for me to call in whenever I wish. And I mean full nights, not to have you wake up after two hours’ sleep.”

So he basically was planning on dragging me to the Sunless Realms via my dreams and possibly spend the time trying to entice me into becoming one of his adoring glamour-struck servants. “A whole week is far too much. Two days.”

“A week.”

Well, this was new. Last time, I had bartered with him and he had seemed to appreciate it. Everyone had advised me to do so, and it had worked. But for some reason, he was determined now in getting his way. Curioser and curioser. “Look, a full week is a lot of time… I don’t even know what to expect by giving you my nights.”

“Lady, will chasing this information for you put me in peril?” he said, conciliatory.

“N-no, I don’t think it will, unless the Wolves realize you’re sniffing around.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about. You have my word that, while you are in my care in the Sunless Realms, you will not be in peril while I draw breath, nor will you be made act against your wishes, by coercion or magic.”

I hesitated, but I did want this matter solved, and I knew that the Wolves wouldn’t open up to me. And with the Red File pending, I wouldn’t have time to investigate it, either. “Agreed.”

Before I could react or think, he took my hand in his, and took it to his lips, pressing his mouth against the inside of my arm. I felt a slight burning sensation for a moment, and then noticed that his lips had become imprinted on the soft skin, like a brand. I was starting to suspect Tim was flirting with me, a rather worrisome prospect. Since I didn’t want him to start getting any ideas, I simply ran my fingernail over the inside of his wrist, designing quickly my initials, which, like it had happened to me, became branded on him. Until his part of the bargain was completed, he would bear my initials. And until my part of the bargain was fulfilled, I’d bear the imprint of his lips.
I knew that more from hearsay than from experience that getting into contracts with Fae was a mightily bad idea. However, I was fairly sure I was forewarned enough to resist any tricks he tried to pull while I was with him in the Sunless Realms. And I really wanted to know what was going on with the wolves. So, it was a risk I was willing to take.

“Do you need to leave now, or perhaps could I persuade you to keep me company for a bit more?”

I checked my watch: quarter to six. I had approximately one hour before I could drop by and pick the Other up – and the club was now slowly emptying “When your company is so gracefully offered, how can one but accept?” His race loves having people suck up to them, even if they know one is in the process of doing said sucking up.

For the first time since I had arrived, he smiled to me, his eyes still the same amazing blue, and I could have sworn time stopped around us.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 17 Nov 2009 13:47

Chapter 8

The blonde-haired Other sat quietly at my side, but I could feel him watching me with a worrisome attention. We had strapped him with a pair of handcuffs whose alloy included consecrated silver -- a melted crucifix from the St. Peter Cathedral, thrice blessed by one of the rare living saints. Nothing short of the Adversary himself could get himself free of those. The Other, however, didn’t seem at all interested in releasing himself, but rather to stay close to me. That did not make me feel any more at ease, despite having set already a whole bunch of conditions that assured that I (or any of my family and friends) would not be hurt, attacked or bothered by him without my permission. The captain hadn’t said a thing when I showed up with the official paperwork indicating that the boy was to be released under my custody, which was a relief. I hadn’t really expected him to display any visible annoyance at it. His feelings about it where another matter altogether.
We have a unique relationship with the police, even if my own personal contact with them is more limited than, say, Marcus’s. I suppose they gave us some leeway in comparison with the Feds or the NSA people, because this wasn’t about sacrificing the little guy to get the big fish, or let a dealer walk just to get at the man funding him. This was a matter of us having skills that they didn’t. At least, that’s what I told to myself to make me feel less of a cad when I walked out of the precinct with the boy, under the hard stares of the few agents that had been in the scene and were still in service. Still, it was not as if they could get revenge on it for their fallen comrades. If hitting this thing hiding behind a human façade would help bringing their companions back, I would be the first to hand him over for a bit of a rough up. In this case, it would amount to try to put out a forest fire by spitting on it. The flesh the Other wore was just exactly that. Just flesh. It certainly could feel pain, but it did not react to it as we did, when bones shattered and skin tore. It was more like a costume, a set of clothes. You wouldn’t expect beating up a guy’s trenchcoat would bother him too much, would you? It certainly wouldn’t make him more pliant into repenting or acquiescing to your wishes. Same thing with the Other and his pretty blonde exterior. Although I was quite sure that he was in quite some pain now. Not pain affecting his human body trenchcoat, but his demonic core – the silver and the might of the faith still burned deep, despite his new form. These handcuffs were a part of my personal collection, and it had been years since they had last been used. Most Others would be reduced to slobbering tears even from being in the same room with them, and only skinwalkers, i.e. Others who could create a human manifestation of themselves, could endure being close to them, because their flesh bodies actually acted as a flimsy shield, anchoring them to this reality and not letting them immediately unravel and banishing them back to the hellish realms. Possessors or bodiless manifestation weren’t that lucky.
So, yes, I knew the Other was in pain. It was of little comfort when you those families who had lost their fathers, sons and husbands, but it was satisfactory nonetheless. What took my satisfaction and made it vanish, however, was that he should need to do much more of an effort to endure the pain. I could read the signs of discomfort in his attitude, the regular shifting in his place, the discreet clenching of his jawline, but it shouldn’t be so at ease. Or maybe I wanted it to be in more pain. For the dead police officers. For the girls he had kept as breeding cows. For all of us, whose Realm he had invaded. Any foolish mortal who dared to go into the Underworld while alive could expect nothing but pain and suffering beyond words; why should the Others expect any less when they came into our turf?
Unless we had gauged his power wrong. But I didn’t believe it, not for a second. Marcus and his team were the best, and they made no mistakes, not in the field, not like this. It was a minor Other, not even with an assigned circle, although, by its very nature, it would be a servant to the Second Circle daemons. If it had been something more than what had been assessed, it would have easily managed to escape the circle of consecrated salt. Then, something had to have changed between the start of the mission and my arrival. And I didn’t like it, not one bit.
The Other kept trying to breach the distance between us, acting as a child searching for comfort, but, no matter how much his human appearance appealed to my shrivelled maternal instinct, my mind was stronger. I kept the distance, even, though at one point I had to kick it to the other side of the seat. His subservient attitude only made the journey feel far longer than it really was, and put my nerves on the edge.
When the car finally stopped in the underground garage of the hotel, I was starting to twitch, and I would soon wound up either strangling or hugging the little beast. With a sigh of relief, I stepped out of the car, stretching and looking around. Two men in non-descript clothes walked to me, and I recognized Ben as one of them. As usual, groomed impeccably and with his receding light brown hair combed back, looking as if he was just about ready to enter work in some perfectly normal insurance company or some other office job, not at all seeming that I had dragged him out of bed at an obscene hour. One day, I’ll have to find out if seeming always composed is something inherent to the British gene pool, or if Ben just managed to be ready for anything. Or he could always have inherent Sight, and get glimpses of the future which he mistook for incredibly accurate and lucky hunches.
I grabbed the Other by the collar and dragged him with me. I didn’t want to risk anyone touching him, even if he did have the handcuffs on, which were not only very uncomfortable for him, but also rendered him practically incapable of using his powers or trying to kill his human body to escape. The silver disrupts their connection to the hellish realms, from where they draw all the energy they need to power their unholy abilities, but I wasn’t going to take chances, especially after I realized that the handcuffs weren’t causing him as much pain as they should. I could just be paranoid and worrying over nothing, but this could also mean a whole lot of trouble. Seeing he was bound to me, I figured I was the one with the better odds of surviving if things went horribly bad.
Ben handed me a pen and presented me a clipboard, which I signed with a flourish. “I managed to get us the entire floor you asked, plus the floors directly above and below empty. We’re lucky this is down season, so we only had to relocate two couples and an old lady. The wards are in place, and I had your room consecrated three times. I also woke up the ladies from the Defence Section to handle the circle. They asked me to inform you that, should the world come to an end in the next few hours, stay inside the circle, because it will be possibly one of the safest spots on the entire planet to be.”

I couldn’t help but crack a smile: “I’ll remember it.”

“Sign this as well, and initial here, and here, please.” I did. “Thank you. Here’s your key card. ”

“Thanks, Ben. Anything else?”

“Yes. Coffee, tea, milk or juice?”

”Pardon?”

“Breakfast. I thought you might want something to eat since the entire floor will be on lockdown for the next few hours. Since you asked for a containment circle and not for a banishment one, I assumed you’d be conducting interrogation and you’d need to be as undisturbed as possible, so I had the three floors to be in immediate lockdown as soon as you stepped out of that elevator.”

“Remind me to kiss you at the first chance I have, Ben. You are an absolute darling.”

“I shall make an immediate note of that, ma’am.”

Despite the weariness, despite the lack of sleep, I found myself laughing. “Get me some tea, and toast.”

“Mr. Richard has also already set a secure line for contact. He set it up to cycle in sync with the lockdown spells, which means it won’t cause a breach in the containment field. However, he asked me to tell you he will be unable to keep it up at all times. You will have ten-minute windows for contacts, but the time-outs between cycles will be of 3 minutes or less.”

I nodded. “Excellent. I count on being ready during the afternoon, but I don’t want anyone going in before I get out.”

“I expected as much, ma’am.” He handed me a small wooden box, and opened it so I could see the piece of white chalk inside. “That’s why the lockdown can only be lifted from the inside. You’ll have to write the final lines to get the containment field up and until you breach it, nobody can get in.”

“Very good, let’s get this show on the road.” I opened the trunk of my car, and pulled out a case. Ben had known me (and my reputation) long enough to know, or at least make a rather accurate guess of what was inside, but he asked no questions.

Oh, yes, it was good to be infamous.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn

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Samwise
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Samwise » 17 Nov 2009 14:03

Continuo a achar duas coisa: inglês trapalhão à brava (minor detail) e apontamentos narrativos muito interessantes.

Tenho de ler com mais atenção para apanhar a história. Até agora tem sido na diagonal.

But do go on, My Lady! :pcorn:
Guido: "A felicidade consiste em conseguir dizer a verdade sem magoar ninguém." -

Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem?

My taste is only personal, but it's all I have. - Roger Ebert

- Monturo Fotográfico - Câmara Subjectiva -

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Lady Entropy
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Re: Dead Man's Party

Postby Lady Entropy » 08 Dec 2009 13:49

Olha que isso de ler na diagonal não te vai dar uma dor de ....bem, olho?

Toma lá mais.

Chapter 9


With the sole exception of the four who had been with me on the field and Ben, most people involved in this operation would probably think this was a routine job, that the Other was a threat, and that I was treating it accordingly, banishing it after the interrogation. The sad truth was that I wouldn’t be doing any interrogation, and certainly not any banishments, much to my chagrin. I couldn’t. The Other was now in my service, and him setting the only condition to be serving me, automatically gave him a foothold on this Realm. Only if he attempted to breach the Gaeas, could he leave, and then he’d probably be unravelled. Or if I breached the contract from my end – which I was starting to realize it was impossible to do, seeing I had no limits in what I could impose it. It had occurred to me that I could always order it to leave – but that would go against the only condition he was set. It was very possible that it could count as a breach of contract from my side, which would let him free to wreck havoc as he saw fit, and extract revenge against me. I wasn’t sure about this, but I didn’t want to risk it just yet. Breaching demonic contracts was not something to be done lightly.
I was stuck with the little bastard.
After I got the key card from Ben, I moved to the elevator. The Other didn’t seem to mind terribly I was treating him roughly, taking every chance to establish contact with me, touching the hem of my jacket or tugging gently at the waistband of my leather pants, while I struggled to make sense of the print-outs I had gathered concerning any previous reports where an Other willingly bound itself to a human. I kept bapping him on the head, but that didn’t discourage him, quite the opposite. His behaviour was strange but familiar, and I realized that I had seen it before: the girls he had taken as concubines acted exactly the same, needing contact, even if was just a light caress or touching clothes or hair. It was disturbing and it made me wonder how could someone who had callously enslaved a group of girls, was now so content with playing the submissive role in our little twisted relationship.
The elevator doors dinged and opened on the third floor, and I dragged him with me out. My cell phone rang, and I picked it up.
“Ma’am.”
“All ready to go, Ben. You can have them program the elevators not to stop on any of the three floors for the next twelve hours, just in case. I’ll be turning off my cell phone as well in… exactly one minute. After that, the containment field will be up.”
“Understood.”
I hung up, and closed my eyes, inhaling deeply, letting my senses shut down, and my true Sight come into focus. The code of reality unravelled around me, and I could See how it had been organized, the usual humdrum grey lines of normalcy laced with the fiery, resounding commands of magic. I could also detect where there was a gap in the code, a row of threads missing in the beautiful tapestry of protection that the Defence Section had weaved into that floor. I opened my eyes, and dragged the boy towards suite 305, which was now stripped bare, containing nothing but a trolley with a plate of toasts, a large pot of tea and a cup. Next to it was a pile of cushions, and a small table with a laptop on it, humming softly. Only the central area of the suit and the bathroom were available, ensuring that there were no accessible windows, as the doors to the rooms and living area had been sealed and warded.

I checked the wards protecting floor and ceiling, walls and points of union. Perfect. For anything to get past these defences, it would have to demolish the building first.
At the centre of the room, a containment circle hummed with power, crafted with obvious care and precision, using not the usual three rows of ennochian, but rather five, among a multitude of symbols I hadn’t seen in practical use for ages. The candles that surrounded it cast long shadows over everything, making our own shadows dance across the ground and walls. The circle was a fine piece of craftsmanship and it made me feel a little more comfortable – I didn’t even need to check it to know they had ensured that nothing endangered its continuity: a circle such as this one functioned in more than just two dimensions – rather three. Since we weren’t on the ground, special care had to be taken to ensure that the circle was formed more like a bubble, and that no cables or pipes would go through it, jeopardizing its continuity.
I brought the Other to the centre of the circle, and he seemed amused, almost as if he felt all of these preparations were unnecessary. The question now was: he was having such a good time because he wasn’t a threat to me, or because he knew something I didn’t, something that would nullify all the hard work creating the circle? He sat on the floor, cross-legged, and I pulled my cell phone off my pocket, and disconnected it, removed the battery, and tossed the both of them onto the pillows. Pulling the box with the chalk from my pocket, I crouched in front of the boy, and began writing the final symbols needed to complete the lockdown, activating the circle and every protection that had been woven into the reality of that place. There was only one smaller area with no symbols inscribed into it, and a small gap in the five-fold circle. I only needed to fill the area out, taking my time to ensure all was in order, and then, one after another, I closed the tiny gaps in each of the individual circles that made up for the complete one. I could almost hear something akin to the running of locks and bolts, and, as the final circle was completed, I could feel the surge of energy that started a chain reaction, raising magical barriers and protection fields, shutting down the entire area to any interference from the outside. And it all been cleverly woven using the containment circle as an anchor – the closer you were to it, the stronger the protections were.
I let out a breath I didn’t notice I had been holding, and I made my way to the laptop, grabbing a piece of toast on my way there. Munching on it, I ran the program that would allow me to chat with Richard, and also to consult the Hunters Inc. database for further details on Gaeas and demonic contracts. There were a few beeps and Richard’s voice sounded: “Protocol is activated. You have ten minutes until the next silence.”

“Hey, Richard. So, what do your numbers tell you?”

“Which matter would you like to know about?”

“The Gaeas.” I tried to keep the anxiety out of my voice.

“Odds – very good. It can either mess with fate, or it really has no intentions of harming you. The contract is legitimate.”

”Is there any curse on me? Anything that can be affecting my judgement?”

“No. You’re clean. No compulsions, no glamour, no illusions. You’re in total control of yourself. The certainty of you not having a curse on you is excellent, 97,78%. The only way you’d be cursed was if they were using you as a focal point, with the curse not affecting you but others around you. Like the miscarriages you—“

“Yes, I remember that very well, thank you.” I swallowed a large piece of toast, using that as a full stop in that train of though that was taking us somewhere where I absolutely did not want to go.

“Okay, even in that case, the odds are minute. Under 8%.”

“Eight percent is not minute!”

He was grinning on the other side “It is when I’m on the job.”

“Oh, funny. Go on.”

Richard continued to give me numbers, estimates and percentages. I wasn’t paying too much attention, because the true reason for this exceedingly long report was not to enlighten me, but rather to allow him to weave his magic, to stack the odds to my favour, to steer Fate, no matter impossible it might seem, to benefit me. With Richard on my team, Fate loved us just a little more. And at times, “just a little more” is the difference between life and death. While he spoke, I poured myself a cup of tea, and smiled as I noticed the box of aspirins behind the teapot. I popped two pills into my mouth, washing them down with a mouthful of the hot liquid.

“Mmm—strange…”

That drew my attention back to the laptop at once “What is it?”

“I’ve been trying to see your odds. Your own, independent of this mission.” Routine procedure, he did it for everyone he cared for almost every week. It’s easier to avoid a bad fate if you nudged it here and there, instead of drastically just altering it. In truth, doing so would attract a whole lot of back luck as Fate apparently does not enjoy being tangled with.

“So?”

“I can’t see you. There is a variable that keeps making you flash in and out of my calculations. You’re popping all over the place.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“That’s the thing. I don’t know. I have no idea. The only time I saw this happen was when I tried to do the same to a Fate Mistress – her personal variable was impossible to pin down, because she was outside the normal system… you haven’t become a Fate Master while I wasn’t looking, right?”

“Oh, ha ha.” His humorous tone was unnerving me, because I now knew he was worried but not letting it transpire. Too many strange things were happening around me, all of them at the same time. What was I, some weirdness magnet? I have been playing this game for a long, long time, and I knew how to play with the best. But now, for some reason, whenever I entered the board, the rules kept changing. And I wasn’t getting the memos.

“It might be the Other.” I could hear him type on the other side of the line “He might be affecting your fate with his very presence. He doesn’t function of the same system as us and that could be the variable preventing yours from working in the proper way.”

“You mean that having this thing entering my life is preventing you from scrying or even altering my fate?”

There was a pause.

“No need to be so drastic. I’m just having some difficulties isolating your variable. I should manage to rectify that soon enough.”

Translation: yes, I can’t do a thing about your fate. But I’m concerned about you, so I’m going to try and make it sound less worrying. “You’re lying to me, aren’t you?”

“No! Look… I’m sure – hu-ho, window is going to close. I’ll talk to you in a few minutes. In the meantime, don’t worry. I’ll just try something– there, that should hold it for a bit. I – holy crap!” Okay, that drew my complete attention. Richard never swore. Ever. “Camila, something is—“

The window closed and the transmission went dead.

Out of instinct, I looked around. Everything was in order. I didn’t even need to look. I could feel the perfect, seamless fortress of magical energy around me. We could endure a siege from the infernal hordes if needed. And then, I my eyes fell on the Other. At first, I thought it was going to attack; it was crouched, like a predator, testing the limits of his cage. His eyes were glowing red, and there was no innocence about him any more. This was his true face, all predatory cunning and danger. He noticed me, and there was something not right about how he was looking at me. Despite the cold fury in his eyes, I got the strange sensation it wasn’t being aimed towards me. It was because of me. For me.

That notion was so eccentric that I froze in place, as he looked quickly around him and stared again at me. “I feel something coming. Let me out of this circle.” His voice was again the mighty, ancient voice I had heard when it had pledged himself to me, and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. Something was going to happen. I glanced at the laptop, but all it was running was interference; the three-minute radio silence was still not over, which meant I was isolated until then. It was just three minutes, what could go wrong in three minutes?

“Let me out!” it roared, and I felt a chill down my spine. It wasn’t going to hurt me. It couldn’t hurt me. It was bound to me. Unfortunately, rational thought didn’t work well with me where Others were concerned. I could only think I wanted it exactly where it was: contained and unable of getting to me.

However, I didn’t have to think too hard to realize that every signal pointed in the same direction: Richard’s cut warning; the impatience of the Other; my own instinct that said something was not right – and it all was happening during radio silence, while my communication with the outside was cut. No magic could penetrate our little protective bubble. This also meant I had no other way of contacting the exterior, either. Unless I turned on my cell phone. But the price to pay if I did, would be that it would weaken our defences. That is why we had had the water, the electricity, the phone transmission, and the television signals for this floor cut. I needed isolation. Isolation would be my greatest defence.
With my foot, I nudged open the case I had brought along. Steel gleamed in the candlelight, the sleek and deadly forms of twin blades quietly resting on a bed of red velvet. I didn’t truly expect to use them. Hell, even now, I didn’t want to use them, but something was going to happen, and it was not going to be good. The Other was restless, throwing himself against the limits of his prison, roaring in frustration. The sound of his anger and fury, made me shudder, and there was so much I could do from not thinking of the past. But part of me was certain – dead certain, actually – that it was not trying to get at me. Or maybe I was deluding myself. The hellspawn are nothing if not crafty, lying and deceiving to get to their goals. This could be part of an elaborate ruse.
I looked at the laptop again. Nothing. Just static.
These definitely were the three longest minutes of my life. The sleek form of the long knives glimmered in the low light of the candles for a second before I slipped them into the modern holster that came with them, and hastily placed it around my hips. I could hear the murmurs, the whisper of the devouring wind; I could feel their hunger, as the spirit trapped in the blades slowly rose from slumber, ready for blood and death. God help us if they actually tasted blood – these blades would be my last resource, the last chance.
The laptop was still silent. Three minutes hadn’t gone by yet? I could have sworn that more time had indeed gone by.
I looked at the circle. It was perfect. Any contingency was planned for, any attack was expected; anything thrown at it would have trouble coming through. Then why this dread, the feeling in the pit of my stomach that seemed to tell me that something was going to happen and it was going to be bad?
My heart was beating far too loud, and my breathing was becoming too fast. I need to get a grip –

– what was that?
I started to attention. Had I heard something or was just me imagining things? It came from the area of the bedrooms – not the corridor, which was the entry point. We were on the third floor, unless something flew there, it wouldn’t manage to come that high.

The circle still stood. For an attack to come, they’d have to bring down the outer barriers, which I could feel still functioning happily. We were ready for any kind of magical attack.
I heard the laptop crackle, and the beginning of Richard’s voice. My attention shifted for a moment— and, then, the world exploded. I was project me backwards against the nearby wall, the wind knocked out of my lungs. It was then that occurred to me that we had indeed neglected to consider a rather important and possible contingency. I crashed onto the floor in a tangled heap of arms and legs, but I managed to squeeze one last thought before all went dark:

On hindsight, I should have learned more about circles that offer protection against plastic explosives.
"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

— Audrey Hepburn


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